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psychological, and economic violence as a result of marital infidelity on the part of petitioner, with threats of

deprivation of custody of her children and of financial support. 7


EN BANC
Private respondent's claims
Private respondent married petitioner in 2002 when she was 34 years old and the former was
[G.R. No. 179267. June 25, 2013.] eleven years her senior. They have three (3) children, namely: Jo-Ann J. Garcia,17 years old, who is the
natural child of petitioner but whom private respondent adopted; Jessie Anthone J. Garcia,6 years old;
and Joseph Eduard J. Garcia, 3 years old. 8
JESUS C. GARCIA, petitioner,vs.THE HONORABLE RAY ALAN T. DRILON,
Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court-Branch 41, Bacolod City, and ROSALIE Private respondent described herself as a dutiful and faithful wife, whose life revolved around her
JAYPE-GARCIA, for herself and in behalf of minor children, namely: JO-ANN, husband. On the other hand, petitioner, who is of Filipino-Chinese descent, is dominant, controlling, and
JOSEPH EDUARD, JESSE ANTHONE, all surnamed GARCIA, respondents. demands absolute obedience from his wife and children. He forbade private respondent to pray, and
deliberately isolated her from her friends. When she took up law, and even when she was already working
part time at a law office, petitioner trivialized her ambitions and prevailed upon her to just stay at home. He
was often jealous of the fact that his attractive wife still catches the eye of some men, at one point
DECISION threatening that he would have any man eyeing her killed. 9

Things turned for the worse when petitioner took up an affair with a bank manager of Robinson's
Bank, Bacolod City, who is the godmother of one of their sons. Petitioner admitted to the affair when private
respondent confronted him about it in 2004. He even boasted to the household help about his sexual
PERLAS-BERNABE, J p: relations with said bank manager. Petitioner told private respondent, though, that he was just using the
woman because of their accounts with the bank. 10 EHTIcD
Hailed as the bastion of Christianity in Asia, the Philippines boasts of 86.8 million Filipinos — or
93 percent of a total population of 93.3 million — adhering to the teachings of Jesus Christ. 1 Yet, the Petitioner's infidelity spawned a series of fights that left private respondent physically and
admonition for husbands to love their wives as their own bodies just as Christ loved the church and gave emotionally wounded. In one of their quarrels, petitioner grabbed private respondent on both arms and
himself up for her 2 failed to prevent, or even to curb, the pervasiveness of violence against Filipino women. shook her with such force that caused bruises and hematoma. At another time, petitioner hit private
The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) reported that, for the years 2000-2003, respondent forcefully on the lips that caused some bleeding. Petitioner sometimes turned his ire on their
"female violence comprised more than 90% of all forms of abuse and violence and more than 90% of these daughter, Jo-Ann, who had seen the text messages he sent to his paramour and whom he blamed for
reported cases were committed by the women's intimate partners such as their husbands and live-in squealing on him. He beat Jo-Ann on the chest and slapped her many times. When private respondent
partners." 3 decided to leave petitioner, Jo-Ann begged her mother to stay for fear that if the latter leaves, petitioner
would beat her up. Even the small boys are aware of private respondent's sufferings. Their 6-year-old son
Thus, on March 8, 2004, after nine (9) years of spirited advocacy by women's groups, Congress said that when he grows up, he would beat up his father because of his cruelty to private respondent. 11
enacted Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262, entitled "An Act Defining Violence Against Women and Their
Children, Providing for Protective Measures for Victims, Prescribing Penalties Therefor, and for Other All the emotional and psychological turmoil drove private respondent to the brink of despair. On
Purposes." It took effect on March 27, 2004. 4 aHDTAI December 17, 2005, while at home, she attempted suicide by cutting her wrist. She was found by her son
bleeding on the floor. Petitioner simply fled the house instead of taking her to the hospital. Private
R.A. 9262 is a landmark legislation that defines and criminalizes acts of violence against women respondent was hospitalized for about seven (7) days in which time petitioner never bothered to visit, nor
and their children (VAWC) perpetrated by women's intimate partners, i.e.,husband; former husband; or any apologized or showed pity on her. Since then, private respondent has been undergoing therapy almost
person who has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom the woman has a common child. 5 The every week and is taking anti-depressant medications. 12
law provides for protection orders from the barangay and the courts to prevent the commission of further
acts of VAWC; and outlines the duties and responsibilities of barangay officials, law enforcers, prosecutors When private respondent informed the management of Robinson's Bank that she intends to file
and court personnel, social workers, health care providers, and other local government officials in charges against the bank manager, petitioner got angry with her for jeopardizing the manager's job. He then
responding to complaints ofVAWC or requests for assistance. packed his things and told private respondent that he was leaving her for good. He even told private
respondent's mother, who lives with them in the family home, that private respondent should just accept his
A husband is now before the Court assailing the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 as being violative extramarital affair since he is not cohabiting with his paramour and has not sired a child with her. 13
of the equal protection and due process clauses, and an undue delegation of judicial power to barangay
officials. Private respondent is determined to separate from petitioner but she is afraid that he would take
her children from her and deprive her of financial support. Petitioner had previously warned her that if she
The Factual Antecedents goes on a legal battle with him, she would not get a single centavo. 14
On March 23, 2006, Rosalie Jaype-Garcia (private respondent) filed, for herself and in behalf of
Petitioner controls the family businesses involving mostly the construction of deep wells. He is
her minor children, a verified petition 6 (Civil Case No. 06-797) before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
the President of three corporations — 326 Realty Holdings, Inc.,Negros Rotadrill Corporation, and J-Bros
Bacolod City for the issuance of a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) against her husband, Jesus
Trading Corporation — of which he and private respondent are both stockholders. In contrast to the
C. Garcia (petitioner), pursuant to R.A. 9262. She claimed to be a victim of physical abuse; emotional,
absolute control of petitioner over said corporations, private respondent merely draws a monthly salary of
P20,000.00 from one corporation only, the Negros Rotadrill Corporation. Household expenses amounting f) Not to dissipate the conjugal business. aCTHEA
to not less than P200,000.00 a month are paid for by private respondent through the use of credit cards,
which, in turn, are paid by the same corporation together with the bills for utilities. 15 cDCIHT g) To render an accounting of all advances, benefits, bonuses and other cash he
received from all the corporations from 1 January 2006 up to 31 March 2006,
On the other hand, petitioner receives a monthly salary of P60,000.00 from Negros Rotadrill which himself and as President of the corporations and his Comptroller, must
Corporation, and enjoys unlimited cash advances and other benefits in hundreds of thousands of pesos submit to the Court not later than 2 April 2006. Thereafter, an accounting of all
from the corporations. 16 After private respondent confronted him about the affair, petitioner forbade her to these funds shall be reported to the court by the Comptroller, copy furnished to
hold office at JBTC Building, Mandalagan, where all the businesses of the corporations are conducted, the Petitioner, every 15 days of the month, under pain of Indirect Contempt of
thereby depriving her of access to full information about said businesses. Until the filing of the petition a quo, Court.
petitioner has not given private respondent an accounting of the businesses the value of which she had
helped raise to millions of pesos. 17 h) To ensure compliance especially with the order granting support pendente
lite,and considering the financial resources of the Respondent and his threat that
Action of the RTC of Bacolod City if the Petitioner sues she will not get a single centavo, the Respondent is ordered
to put up a BOND TO KEEP THE PEACE in the amount of FIVE MILLION
Finding reasonable ground to believe that an imminent danger of violence against the private
PESOS, in two sufficient sureties.
respondent and her children exists or is about to recur, the RTC issued a TPO 18 on March 24, 2006
effective for thirty (30) days, which is quoted hereunder: On April 24, 2006, upon motion 19 of private respondent, the trial court issued an amended
TPO, 20 effective for thirty (30) days, which included the following additional provisions:
Respondent (petitioner herein),Jesus Chua Garcia, is hereby:
i) The petitioners (private respondents herein) are given the continued use of the
a) Ordered to remove all his personal belongings from the conjugal dwelling or
Nissan Patrol and the Starex Van which they are using in Negros Occidental.
family home within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary Restraining Order and
if he refuses, ordering that he be removed by police officers from the conjugal j) The petitioners are given the continued use and occupation of the house in
dwelling; this order is enforceable notwithstanding that the house is under the Parañaque, the continued use of the Starex van in Metro Manila, whenever they
name of 236 Realty Holdings, Inc. (Republic Act No. 9262 states "regardless of go to Manila.
ownership"), this is to allow the Petitioner (private respondent herein) to enter the
conjugal dwelling without any danger from the Respondent. IcADSE k) Respondent is ordered to immediately post a bond to keep the peace, in two
sufficient sureties.
After the Respondent leaves or is removed from the conjugal dwelling, or anytime
the Petitioner decides to return to the conjugal dwelling to remove things, the l) To give monthly support to the petitioner provisionally fixed in the sum of One
Petitioner shall be assisted by police officers when re-entering the family home. Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (Php150,000.00) per month plus rental expenses
of Fifty Thousand Pesos (Php50,000.00) per month until the matter of support
The Chief of Police shall also give the Petitioner police assistance on Sunday, 26 could be finally resolved. cAaDCE
March 2006 because of the danger that the Respondent will attempt to take her
children from her when he arrives from Manila and finds out about this suit. Two days later, or on April 26, 2006, petitioner filed an Opposition to the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion
for Renewal of the TPO 21 seeking the denial of the renewal of the TPO on the grounds that it did not (1)
b) To stay away from the petitioner and her children, mother and all her comply with the three-day notice rule, and (2) contain a notice of hearing. He further asked that the TPO be
household help and driver from a distance of 1,000 meters, and shall not enter the modified by (1) removing one vehicle used by private respondent and returning the same to its rightful
gate of the subdivision where the Petitioner may be temporarily residing. owner, the J-Bros Trading Corporation, and (2) cancelling or reducing the amount of the bond from
P5,000,000.00 to a more manageable level at P100,000.00.
c) Not to harass, annoy, telephone, contact or otherwise communicate with the
Petitioner, directly or indirectly, or through other persons, or contact directly or Subsequently, on May 23, 2006, petitioner moved 22 for the modification of the TPO to allow him
indirectly her children, mother and household help, nor send gifts, cards, flowers, visitation rights to his children.
letters and the like. Visitation rights to the children may be subject of a modified
TPO in the future. On May 24, 2006, the TPO was renewed and extended yet again, but subject only to the following
modifications prayed for by private respondent:
d) To surrender all his firearms including a .9MM caliber firearm and a Walther
PPK and ordering the Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Unit a) That respondent (petitioner herein) return the clothes and other personal
and the Provincial Director of the PNP to cancel all the Respondent's firearm belongings of Rosalie and her children to Judge Jesus Ramos, co-counsel for
licenses. He should also be ordered to surrender any unlicensed firearms in his Petitioner, within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his
possession or control. counsel, otherwise be declared in Indirect Contempt of Court;

e) To pay full financial support for the Petitioner and the children, including rental b) Respondent shall make an accounting or list of furniture and equipment in the
of a house for them, and educational and medical expenses. conjugal house in Pitimini St.,Capitolville Subdivision, Bacolod City within 24
hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel;
c) Ordering the Chief of the Women's Desk of the Bacolod City Police driver Romeo Hontiveros, laundrywoman Mercedita Bornales, security guard
Headquarters to remove Respondent from the conjugal dwelling within eight (8) Darwin Gayona and the petitioner's other household helpers from a distance of
hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel, and that he 1,000 meters, and shall not enter the gate of the subdivision where the Petitioners
cannot return until 48 hours after the petitioners have left, so that the petitioner are temporarily residing, as well as from the schools of the three children;
Rosalie and her representatives can remove things from the conjugal home and Furthermore, that respondent shall not contact the schools of the children directly
make an inventory of the household furniture, equipment and other things in the or indirectly in any manner including, ostensibly to pay for their tuition or other
conjugal home, which shall be submitted to the Court. fees directly, otherwise he will have access to the children through the schools
and the TPO will be rendered nugatory;
d) Deliver full financial support of Php200,000.00 and Php50,000.00 for rental
and Php25,000.00 for clothes of the three petitioners (sic) children within 24 4) Directed to surrender all his firearms including .9MM caliber firearm and a
hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel, otherwise Walther PPK to the Court;
be declared in indirect contempt of Court; DaHSIT
5) Directed to deliver in full financial support of Php200,000.00 a month and
e) That respondent surrender his two firearms and all unlicensed firearms to the Php50,000.00 for rental for the period from August 6 to September 6, 2006; and
Clerk of Court within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by support in arrears from March 2006 to August 2006 the total amount of
his counsel; Php1,312,000.00; CIaDTE

f) That respondent shall pay petitioner educational expenses of the children upon 6) Directed to deliver educational expenses for 2006-2007 the amount of
presentation of proof of payment of such expenses. 23 Php75,000.00 and Php25,000.00;

Claiming that petitioner continued to deprive them of financial support; failed to faithfully comply 7) Directed to allow the continued use of a Nissan Patrol with Plate No. FEW 508
with the TPO; and committed new acts of harassment against her and their children, private respondent and a Starex van with Plate No. FFD 991 and should the respondent fail to deliver
filed another application 24 for the issuance of a TPO ex parte.She alleged inter alia that petitioner said vehicles, respondent is ordered to provide the petitioner another vehicle
contrived a replevin suit against himself by J-Bros Trading, Inc., of which the latter was purportedly no which is the one taken by J Bros Tading;
longer president, with the end in view of recovering the Nissan Patrol and Starex Van used by private
respondent and the children. A writ of replevin was served upon private respondent by a group of six or 8) Ordered not to dissipate, encumber, alienate, sell, lease or otherwise dispose
seven policemen with long firearms that scared the two small boys, Jessie Anthone and Joseph Eduard. 25 of the conjugal assets, or those real properties in the name of Jesus
Chua Garciaonly and those in which the conjugal partnership of gains of the
While Joseph Eduard, then three years old, was driven to school, two men allegedly attempted to Petitioner Rosalie J. Garcia and respondent have an interest in, especially the
kidnap him, which incident traumatized the boy resulting in his refusal to go back to school. On another conjugal home located in No. 14, Pitimini St.,Capitolville Subdivision, Bacolod
occasion, petitioner allegedly grabbed their daughter, Jo-Ann, by the arm and threatened her. 26 The City, and other properties which are conjugal assets or those in which the
incident was reported to the police, and Jo-Ann subsequently filed a criminal complaint against her father conjugal partnership of gains of Petitioner Rosalie J. Garcia and the respondent
for violation of R.A. 7610, also known as the "Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, have an interest in and listed in Annexes "I," "I-1," and "I-2," including properties
Exploitation and Discrimination Act." covered by TCT Nos. T-186325 and T-168814;

Aside from the replevin suit, petitioner's lawyers initiated the filing by the housemaids working at 9) Ordered that the Register of Deeds of Bacolod City and E.B. Magalona shall be
the conjugal home of a complaint for kidnapping and illegal detention against private respondent. This came served a copy of this TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER and are ordered not
about after private respondent, armed with a TPO, went to said home to get her and her children's to allow the transfer, sale, encumbrance or disposition of these above-cited
belongings. Finding some of her things inside a housemaid's (Sheryl Jamola) bag in the maids' room, properties to any person, entity or corporation without the personal presence of
private respondent filed a case for qualified theft against Jamola. 27 CDTHSI petitioner Rosalie J. Garcia, who shall affix her signature in the presence of the
Register of Deeds, due to the fear of petitioner Rosalie that her signature will be
On August 23, 2006, the RTC issued a TPO, 28 effective for thirty (30) days, which reads as forged in order to effect the encumbrance or sale of these properties to defraud
follows: her or the conjugal partnership of gains.
Respondent (petitioner herein),Jesus Chua Garcia, is hereby: In its Order 29 dated September 26, 2006, the trial court extended the aforequoted TPO for
another ten (10) days, and gave petitioner a period of five (5) days within which to show cause why the TPO
1) Prohibited from threatening to commit or committing, personally or through
should not be renewed, extended, or modified. Upon petitioner's manifestation, 30 however, that he has not
another, acts of violence against the offended party;
received a copy of private respondent's motion to modify/renew the TPO, the trial court directed in its
2) Prohibited from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting or otherwise Order 31 dated October 6, 2006 that petitioner be furnished a copy of said motion. Nonetheless, an
communicating in any form with the offended party, either directly or indirectly; Order 32 dated a day earlier, October 5, had already been issued renewing the TPO dated August 23, 2006.
The pertinent portion is quoted hereunder:AacDHE
3) Required to stay away, personally or through his friends, relatives, employees
or agents, from all the Petitioners Rosalie J. Garcia and her children, Rosalie xxx xxx xxx
J.Garcia's three brothers, her mother Primitiva Jaype, cook Novelita Caranzo,
...it appearing further that the hearing could not yet be finally terminated, the V.
Temporary Protection Order issued on August 23, 2006 is hereby renewed and
extended for thirty (30) days and continuously extended and renewed for thirty THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT DECLARING R.A. No.
(30) days, after each expiration, until further orders, and subject to such 9262 AS INVALID AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT ALLOWS AN
modifications as may be ordered by the court. STHAaD UNDUE DELEGATION OF JUDICIAL POWER TO THE BARANGAY
OFFICIALS. 38
After having received a copy of the foregoing Order, petitioner no longer submitted the required
comment to private respondent's motion for renewal of the TPO arguing that it would only be an "exercise in The Ruling of the Court
futility." 33 Before delving into the arguments propounded by petitioner against the constitutionality of R.A.
9262, we shall first tackle the propriety of the dismissal by the appellate court of the petition for prohibition
Proceedings before the CA
(CA-G.R. CEB-SP. No. 01698) filed by petitioner. EDIHSC
During the pendency of Civil Case No. 06-797, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) a
petition 34 for prohibition (CA-G.R. CEB-SP. No. 01698), with prayer for injunction and temporary As a general rule, the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity so
restraining order, challenging (1) the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 for being violative of the due process and that if not raised in the pleadings, ordinarily it may not be raised in the trial, and if not raised in the trial court,
the equal protection clauses, and (2) the validity of the modified TPO issued in the civil case for being "an it will not be considered on appeal. 39 Courts will not anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance
unwanted product of an invalid law." of the necessity of deciding it. 40

On May 26, 2006, the appellate court issued a 60-day Temporary Restraining Order 35 (TRO) In defending his failure to attack the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 before the RTC of Bacolod City,
against the enforcement of the TPO, the amended TPOs and other orders pursuant thereto. petitioner argues that the Family Court has limited authority and jurisdiction that is "inadequate to tackle the
complex issue of constitutionality." 41
Subsequently, however, on January 24, 2007, the appellate court dismissed 36 the petition for
failure of petitioner to raise the constitutional issue in his pleadings before the trial court in the civil case, We disagree.
which is clothed with jurisdiction to resolve the same. Secondly, the challenge to the validity of R.A.
Family Courts have authority
9262 through a petition for prohibition seeking to annul the protection orders issued by the trial court
and jurisdiction to consider the
constituted a collateral attack on said law.
constitutionality of a statute.
His motion for reconsideration of the foregoing Decision having been denied in the At the outset, it must be stressed that Family Courts are special courts, of the same level as
Resolution 37 dated August 14, 2007, petitioner is now before us alleging that — Regional Trial Courts. Under R.A. 8369, otherwise known as the "Family Courts Act of 1997," family courts
have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of domestic violence against women and
The Issues
children. 42 In accordance with said law, the Supreme Court designated from among the branches of the
I. Regional Trial Courts at least one Family Court in each of several key cities identified. 43 To achieve
harmony with the first mentioned law, Section 7 of R.A. 9262 now provides that Regional Trial Courts
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DISMISSING THE PETITION ON THE designated as Family Courts shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of VAWC defined
THEORY THAT THE ISSUE OF CONSTITUTIONALITY WAS NOT RAISED AT under the latter law, viz.:
THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY AND THAT, THE PETITION CONSTITUTES A
COLLATERAL ATTACK ON THE VALIDITY OF THE LAW. EcHIAC SEC. 7. Venue. — The Regional Trial Court designated as a Family
Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of violence against
II. women and their children under this law. In the absence of such court in the place
where the offense was committed, the case shall be filed in the Regional Trial
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR IN FAILING TO
Court where the crime or any of its elements was committed at the option of the
CONCLUDE THAT R.A. 9262 IS DISCRIMINATORY, UNJUST, AND
complainant. (Emphasis supplied) HIAESC
VIOLATIVE OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE.
Inspite of its designation as a family court, the RTC of Bacolod City remains possessed of
III.
authority as a court of general original jurisdiction to pass upon all kinds of cases whether civil, criminal,
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE MISTAKE IN NOT FINDING special proceedings, land registration, guardianship, naturalization, admiralty or insolvency. 44 It is settled
THAT R.A. 9262 RUNS COUNTER TO THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE that RTCs have jurisdiction to resolve the constitutionality of a statute, 45 "this authority being embraced in
CONSTITUTION. the general definition of the judicial power to determine what are the valid and binding laws by the criterion
of their conformity to the fundamental law." 46 The Constitution vests the power of judicial review or the
IV. power to declare the constitutionality or validity of a law, treaty, international or executive agreement,
presidential decree, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation not only in this Court, but in all RTCs. 47 We
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE LAW DOES said in J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. v. CA 48 that, "[p]lainly the Constitution contemplates that the inferior
VIOLENCE TO THE POLICY OF THE STATE TO PROTECT THE FAMILY AS A courts should have jurisdiction in cases involving constitutionality of any treaty or law, for it speaks of
BASIC SOCIAL INSTITUTION.
appellate review of final judgments of inferior courts in cases where such constitutionality happens to be in one of law which does not need to be supported by evidence. 54 Be that as it may, Section 25 of A.M. No.
issue." Section 5, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution reads in part as follows: 04-10-11-SCnonetheless allows the conduct of a hearing to determine legal issues, among others, viz.:

SEC. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers: SEC. 25. Order for further hearing. — In case the court determines the need for
further hearing, it may issue an order containing the following:
xxx xxx xxx
(a) Facts undisputed and admitted;
2. Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the
law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and (b) Factual and legal issues to be resolved;
orders of lower courts in:
(c) Evidence, including objects and documents that have been marked and will be
a. All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, presented;
international or executive agreement, law,
presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, (d) Names of witnesses who will be ordered to present their direct testimonies in
ordinance, or regulation is in question. aADSIc the form of affidavits; and

xxx xxx xxx (e) Schedule of the presentation of evidence by both parties which shall be done
in one day, to the extent possible, within the 30-day period of the effectivity of the
Thus, contrary to the posturing of petitioner, the issue of constitutionality of R.A. 9262 could have temporary protection order issued. (Emphasis supplied)
been raised at the earliest opportunity in his Opposition to the petition for protection order before the RTC of
Bacolod City, which had jurisdiction to determine the same, subject to the review of this Court. To obviate potential dangers that may arise concomitant to the conduct of a hearing when
necessary, Section 26 (b) of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC provides that if a temporary protection order issued is
Section 20 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, the Rule on Violence Against Women and Their Children, due to expire, the trial court may extend or renew the said order for a period of thirty (30) days each time
lays down a new kind of procedure requiring the respondent to file an opposition to the petition and not an until final judgment is rendered. It may likewise modify the extended or renewed temporary protection order
answer. 49 Thus: as may be necessary to meet the needs of the parties. With the private respondent given ample protection,
petitioner could proceed to litigate the constitutional issues, without necessarily running afoul of the very
SEC. 20. Opposition to petition. — (a) The respondent may file an opposition to
purpose for the adoption of the rules on summary procedure. DcAaSI
the petition which he himself shall verify. It must be accompanied by the affidavits
of witnesses and shall show cause why a temporary or permanent protection In view of all the foregoing, the appellate court correctly dismissed the petition for prohibition with
order should not be issued. prayer for injunction and temporary restraining order (CA-G.R. CEB-SP. No. 01698). Petitioner may have
proceeded upon an honest belief that if he finds succor in a superior court, he could be granted an injunctive
(b) Respondent shall not include in the opposition any counterclaim,
relief. However, Section 22 (j) of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC expressly disallows the filing of a petition
cross-claim or third-party complaint,but any cause of action which could be
for certiorari,mandamus or prohibition against any interlocutory order issued by the trial court. Hence,
the subject thereof may be litigated in a separate civil action. (Emphasis supplied)
the 60-day TRO issued by the appellate court in this case against the enforcement of the TPO, the
We cannot subscribe to the theory espoused by petitioner that, since a counterclaim, cross-claim amended TPOs and other orders pursuant thereto was improper, and it effectively hindered the case from
and third-party complaint are to be excluded from the opposition, the issue of constitutionality cannot taking its normal course in an expeditious and summary manner.
likewise be raised therein. A counterclaim is defined as any claim for money or other relief which a
As the rules stand, a review of the case by appeal or certiorari before judgment is prohibited.
defending party may have against an opposing party. 50 A cross-claim, on the other hand, is any claim by
Moreover, if the appeal of a judgment granting permanent protection shall not stay its enforcement, 55 with
one party against a co-party arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter either of
more reason that a TPO, which is valid only for thirty (30) days at a time, 56 should not be enjoined.
the original action or of a counterclaim therein. 51 Finally, a third-party complaint is a claim that a
defending party may, with leave of court, file against a person not a party to the action for contribution, The mere fact that a statute is alleged to be unconstitutional or invalid, does not of itself entitle a
indemnity, subrogation or any other relief, in respect of his opponent's claim. 52 As pointed out by Justice litigant to have the same enjoined. 57 In Younger v. Harris, Jr., 58the Supreme Court of the United States
Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro, the unconstitutionality of a statute is not a cause of action that could be the declared, thus:
subject of a counterclaim, cross-claim or a third-party complaint. Therefore, it is not prohibited from being
raised in the opposition in view of the familiar maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius. IHcSCA Federal injunctions against state criminal statutes, either in their entirety
or with respect to their separate and distinct prohibitions, are not to be granted as a
Moreover, it cannot be denied that this issue affects the resolution of the case a quo because the matter of course, even if such statutes are unconstitutional. No citizen or member of
right of private respondent to a protection order is founded solely on the very statute the validity of which is the community is immune from prosecution, in good faith, for his alleged criminal
being attacked 53 by petitioner who has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement. acts. The imminence of such a prosecution even though alleged to be unauthorized
The alleged unconstitutionality of R.A. 9262 is, for all intents and purposes, a valid cause for the and, hence, unlawful is not alone ground for relief in equity which exerts its
non-issuance of a protection order. extraordinary powers only to prevent irreparable injury to the plaintiff who seeks its
aid. (Citations omitted)
That the proceedings in Civil Case No. 06-797 are summary in nature should not have deterred
petitioner from raising the same in his Opposition. The question relative to the constitutionality of a statute is
The sole objective of injunctions is to preserve the status quo until the trial court hears fully the Also, may the Chair remind the group that there was the discussion whether to
merits of the case. It bears stressing, however, that protection orders are granted ex parte so as to protect limit this to women and not to families which was the issue of the AWIR group.
women and their children from acts of violence. To issue an injunction against such orders will defeat the The understanding that I have is that we would be having a broader scope rather
very purpose of the law against VAWC. than just women, if I remember correctly, Madam sponsor.

Notwithstanding all these procedural flaws, we shall not shirk from our obligation to determine Senator Estrada. Yes, Mr. President.
novel issues, or issues of first impression, with far-reaching implications. We have, time and again,
discharged our solemn duty as final arbiter of constitutional issues, and with more reason now, in view of As a matter of fact, that was brought up by Senator Pangilinan during the
private respondent's plea in her Comment 59 to the instant Petition that we should put the challenge to the interpellation period.
constitutionality of R.A. 9262 to rest. And so we shall.
I think Senator Sotto has something to say to that.
Intent of Congress in
Senator Legarda. Mr. President, the reason I am in support of the measure. Do
enacting R.A. 9262.
not get me wrong. However, I believe that there is a need to protect women's
Petitioner claims that since R.A. 9262 is intended to prevent and criminalize spousal and child rights especially in the domestic environment.
abuse, which could very well be committed by either the husband or the wife, gender alone is not enough
basis to deprive the husband/father of the remedies under the law. 60 IHTaCE As I said earlier, there are nameless, countless, voiceless women who have not
had the opportunity to file a case against their spouses, their live-in partners after
A perusal of the deliberations of Congress on Senate Bill No. 2723, 61 which became R.A. 9262, years, if not decade, of battery and abuse. If we broaden the scope to include
reveals that while the sponsor, Senator Luisa Pimentel-Ejercito (better known as Senator Loi Estrada), had even the men, assuming they can at all be abused by the women or their spouses,
originally proposed what she called a "synthesized measure" 62 — an amalgamation of two measures, then it would not equalize the already difficult situation for women, Mr.
namely, the "Anti-Domestic Violence Act" and the "Anti-Abuse of Women in Intimate Relationships President. aIcDCA
Act" 63 — providing protection to "all family members, leaving no one in isolation" but at the same time
giving special attention to women as the "usual victims" of violence and abuse, 64 nonetheless, it was I think that the sponsor, based on our earlier conversations, concurs with this
eventually agreed that men be denied protection under the same measure. We quote pertinent portions of position. I am sure that the men in this Chamber who love their women in their
the deliberations: lives so dearly will agree with this representation. Whether we like it or not, it is an
unequal world. Whether we like it or not, no matter how empowered the women
Wednesday, December 10, 2003 are, we are not given equal opportunities especially in the domestic environment
where the macho Filipino man would always feel that he is stronger, more
Senator Pangilinan. I just wanted to place this on record, Mr. President. Some superior to the Filipino woman.
women's groups have expressed concerns and relayed these concerns to me
that if we are to include domestic violence apart from against women as well as xxx xxx xxx
other members of the household, including children or the husband, they fear that
this would weaken the efforts to address domestic violence of which the main The President Pro Tempore. What does the sponsor say?
victims or the bulk of the victims really are the wives, the spouses or the female
Senator Estrada. Mr. President, before accepting this, the committee came up
partners in a relationship. We would like to place that on record. How does the
with this bill because the family members have been included in this proposed
good Senator respond to this kind of observation?
measure since the other members of the family other than women are also
Senator Estrada. Yes, Mr. President, there is this group of women who call possible victims of violence. While women are most likely the intended victims,
themselves "WIIR" Women in Intimate Relationship. They do not want to include one reason incidentally why the measure focuses on women, the fact remains
men in this domestic violence. But plenty of men are also being abused by that in some relatively few cases, men also stand to be victimized and that
women. I am playing safe so I placed here members of the family, prescribing children are almost always the helpless victims of violence. I am worried that
penalties therefor and providing protective measures for victims. This includes there may not be enough protection extended to other family members
the men, children, live-in, common-law wives, and those related with the particularly children who are excluded. Although Republic Act No. 7610, for
family. 65 instance, more or less, addresses the special needs of abused children. The
same law is inadequate. Protection orders for one are not available in said law.
xxx xxx xxx
I am aware that some groups are apprehensive about granting the same
Wednesday, January 14, 2004 protection to men, fearing that they may use this law to justify their abusive
behavior against women. However, we should also recognize that there are
xxx xxx xxx established procedures and standards in our courts which give credence to
evidentiary support and cannot just arbitrarily and whimsically entertain baseless
The President Pro Tempore. ... SDITAC
complaints. cSCADE
Mr. President, this measure is intended to harmonize family relations and to 5-year-old children. I have seen 14, 15-year-old children being abused by their
protect the family as the basic social institution. Though I recognize the unequal fathers, even by their mothers. And it breaks my heart to find out about these
power relations between men and women in our society, I believe we have an things.
obligation to uphold inherent rights and dignity of both husband and wife and their
immediate family members, particularly children. Because of the inadequate existing law on abuse of children, this particular
measure will update that. It will enhance and hopefully prevent the abuse of
While I prefer to focus mainly on women, I was compelled to include other family children and not only women. DEScaT
members as a critical input arrived at after a series of consultations/meetings with
various NGOs, experts, sports groups and other affected sectors, Mr. President. SOTTO-LEGARDA AMENDMENTS

Senator Sotto. Mr. President. Therefore, may I propose an amendment that, yes, we remove the aspect of the
men in the bill but not the children.
The President Pro Tempore. Yes, with the permission of the other senators.
Senator Legarda. I agree, Mr. President, with the Minority Leader.
Senator Sotto. Yes, with the permission of the two ladies on the Floor.
The President Pro Tempore. Effectively then, it will be women AND CHILDREN.
The President Pro Tempore. Yes, Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III is recognized.
Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President.
Senator Sotto. I presume that the effect of the proposed amendment of Senator
Legarda would be removing the "men and children" in this particular bill and focus Senator Estrada. It is accepted, Mr. President.
specifically on women alone. That will be the net effect of that proposed
The President Pro Tempore. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none,
amendment. Hearing the rationale mentioned by the distinguished sponsor, Sen.
the amendment, as amended, is approved. 66
Luisa "Loi" Ejercito Estrada, I am not sure now whether she is inclined to accept
the proposed amendment of Senator Legarda. It is settled that courts are not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy, or expediency of a
statute. 67 Hence, we dare not venture into the real motivations and wisdom of the members of Congress in
I am willing to wait whether she is accepting this or not because if she is going to
limiting the protection against violence and abuse under R.A. 9262 to women and children only. No proper
accept this, I will propose an amendment to the amendment rather than object to
challenge on said grounds may be entertained in this proceeding. Congress has made its choice and it is
the amendment, Mr. President. EcATDH
not our prerogative to supplant this judgment. The choice may be perceived as erroneous but even then,
xxx xxx xxx the remedy against it is to seek its amendment or repeal by the legislative. By the principle of separation of
powers, it is the legislative that determines the necessity, adequacy, wisdom and expediency of any
Senator Estrada. The amendment is accepted, Mr. President. law. 68 We only step in when there is a violation of the Constitution. However, none was sufficiently shown
in this case.
The President Pro Tempore. Is there any objection?
R.A. 9262 does not violate
xxx xxx xxx the guaranty of equal protection
of the laws.
Senator Sotto. ...May I propose an amendment to the amendment.
Equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated
The President Pro Tempore. Before we act on the amendment? alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed. The oft-repeated disquisition in the early
case of Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union 69 is instructive: cSICHD
Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President.
The guaranty of equal protection of the laws is not a guaranty of equality
The President Pro Tempore. Yes, please proceed.
in the application of the laws upon all citizens of the state. It is not, therefore, a
Senator Sotto. Mr. President, I am inclined to believe the rationale used by the requirement, in order to avoid the constitutional prohibition against inequality, that
distinguished proponent of the amendment. As a matter of fact, I tend to every man, woman and child should be affected alike by a statute. Equality of
agree. Kung may maaabuso, mas malamang iyong babae kaysa sa lalake. At operation of statutes does not mean indiscriminate operation on persons merely as
saka iyong mga lalake, puwede na talagang magulpi iyan. Okey lang iyan.But I such, but on persons according to the circumstances surrounding them. It
cannot agree that we remove the children from this particular measure. guarantees equality, not identity of rights. The Constitution does not require that
things which are different in fact be treated in law as though they were the same.
So, if I may propose an amendment — The equal protection clause does not forbid discrimination as to things that are
different. It does not prohibit legislation which is limited either in the object to which it
The President Pro Tempore. To the amendment. is directed or by the territory within which it is to operate.
Senator Sotto. — more than the women, the children are very much abused. As a The equal protection of the laws clause of the Constitution allows
matter of fact, it is not limited to minors. The abuse is not limited to seven, six, classification. Classification in law, as in the other departments of knowledge or
practice, is the grouping of things in speculation or practice because they agree with seen in virtually all societies to be naturally inferior both
one another in certain particulars. A law is not invalid because of simple inequality. physically and intellectually. In ancient Western societies,
The very idea of classification is that of inequality, so that it goes without saying that women whether slave, concubine or wife, were under the
the mere fact of inequality in no manner determines the matter of constitutionality. authority of men. In law, they were treated as property.
All that is required of a valid classification is that it be reasonable, which means that
the classification should be based on substantial distinctions which make for real The Roman concept of patria potestas allowed the husband to beat, or
differences; that it must be germane to the purpose of the law;that it must not be even kill, his wife if she endangered his property right over her. Judaism, Christianity
limited to existing conditions only;and that it must apply equally to each and other religions oriented towards the patriarchal family strengthened the male
member of the class.This Court has held that the standard is satisfied if the dominated structure of society.
classification or distinction is based on a reasonable foundation or rational basis and
English feudal law reinforced the tradition of male control over women.
is not palpably arbitrary. (Emphasis supplied)
Even the eminent Blackstone has been quoted in his commentaries as saying
Measured against the foregoing jurisprudential yardstick, we find that R.A. 9262 is based on a husband and wife were one and that one was the husband. However, in the late
valid classification as shall hereinafter be discussed and, as such, did not violate the equal protection 1500s and through the entire 1600s, English common law began to limit the right of
clause by favoring women over men as victims of violence and abuse to whom the State extends its husbands to chastise their wives. Thus, common law developed the rule of thumb,
protection. IDAaCc which allowed husbands to beat their wives with a rod or stick no thicker than their
thumb. TcDAHS
I. R.A. 9262 rests on substantial distinctions.
In the later part of the 19th century, legal recognition of these rights to
The unequal power relationship between women and men; the fact that women are more likely chastise wives or inflict corporeal punishment ceased. Even then, the preservation
than men to be victims of violence; and the widespread gender bias and prejudice against women all make of the family was given more importance than preventing violence to women.
for real differences justifying the classification under the law. As Justice McIntyre succinctly states, "the
accommodation of differences ...is the essence of true equality." 70 The metamorphosis of the law on violence in the United States followed
that of the English common law. In 1871, the Supreme Court of Alabama became
A. Unequal power relationship the first appellate court to strike down the common law right of a husband to beat his
between men and women wife:

According to the Philippine Commission on Women (the National Machinery for Gender Equality The privilege, ancient though it may be, to beat one's wife
and Women's Empowerment),violence against women (VAW) is deemed to be closely linked with with a stick, to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick
the unequal power relationship between women and men otherwise known as "gender-based violence". her about the floor, or to inflict upon her like indignities, is not
Societal norms and traditions dictate people to think men are the leaders, pursuers, providers, and take on now acknowledged by our law. ..In person, the wife is
dominant roles in society while women are nurturers, men's companions and supporters, and take on entitled to the same protection of the law that the husband
subordinate roles in society. This perception leads to men gaining more power over women. With power can invoke for himself.
comes the need to control to retain that power. And VAW is a form of men's expression of controlling
women to retain power. 71 HSaIET As time marched on, the women's advocacy movement became more
organized. The temperance leagues initiated it. These leagues had a simple focus.
The United Nations, which has long recognized VAW as a human rights issue, passed its They considered the evils of alcoholism as the root cause of wife abuse. Hence,
Resolution 48/104 on the Declaration on Elimination of Violence Against Women on December 20, 1993 they demonstrated and picketed saloons, bars and their husbands' other watering
stating that "violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between holes. Soon, however, their crusade was joined by suffragette movements,
men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the expanding the liberation movement's agenda. They fought for women's right to vote,
prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social to own property, and more. Since then, the feminist movement was on the roll.
mechanisms by which women are forced into subordinate positions, compared with men." 72
The feminist movement exposed the private invisibility of the domestic
Then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno traced the historical and social context of gender-based violence to the public gaze. They succeeded in transforming the issue into an
violence and developments in advocacies to eradicate VAW, in his remarks delivered during the Joint important public concern. No less than the United States Supreme Court, in 1992
Launching of R.A. 9262 and its Implementing Rules last October 27, 2004, the pertinent portions of which case Planned Parenthood v. Casey,noted:
are quoted hereunder:
In an average 12-month period in this country, approximately
History reveals that most societies sanctioned the use of violence against two million women are the victims of severe assaults by their
women. The patriarch of a family was accorded the right to use force on members of male partners. In a 1985 survey, women reported that nearly
the family under his control. I quote the early studies: one of every eight husbands had assaulted their wives
during the past year. The [American Medical Association]
Traditions subordinating women have a long history rooted views these figures as "marked underestimates," because
in patriarchy — the institutional rule of men. Women were the nature of these incidents discourages women from
reporting them, and because surveys typically exclude the Providing for Protective Measures for Victims, Prescribing Penalties therefor and for
very poor, those who do not speak English well, and women other Purposes." (Citations omitted)
who are homeless or in institutions or hospitals when the
survey is conducted. According to the AMA, "researchers on B. Women are the "usual" and "most likely"
family violence agree that the true incidence of partner victims of violence.
violence is probably double the above estimates; or four
At the time of the presentation of Senate Bill No. 2723, official statistics on violence against
million severely assaulted women per year." cIDHSC
women and children show that —
Studies on prevalence suggest that from one-fifth to
...physical injuries had the highest number of cases at 5,058 in 2002 representing
one-third of all women will be physically assaulted by a
55.63% of total cases reported (9,903).And for the first semester of 2003, there
partner or ex-partner during their lifetime. ..Thus on an
were 2,381 reported cases out of 4,354 cases which represent 54.31%....(T)he
average day in the United States, nearly 11,000 women are
total number of women in especially difficult circumstances served by the
severely assaulted by their male partners. Many of these
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the year 2002, there
incidents involve sexual assault. ..In families where wife
are 1,417 physically abused/maltreated cases out of the total of 5,608
beating takes place, moreover, child abuse is often present
cases. ...(T)here are 1,091 DSWD cases out of a total number of 3,471 cases for
as well.
the first semester of 2003. Female violence comprised more than 90% of all forms
Other studies fill in the rest of this troubling picture. Physical of abuse and violence and more than 90% of these reported cases were
violence is only the most visible form of abuse. Psychological committed by the women's intimate partners such as their husbands and live-in
abuse, particularly forced social and economic isolation of partners. 73
women, is also common.
Recently, the Philippine Commission on Women presented comparative statistics on violence
Many victims of domestic violence remain with their abusers, against women across an eight-year period from 2004 to August of 2011 with violations under R.A.
perhaps because they perceive no superior 9262 ranking first among the different VAW categories since its implementation in 2004, 74 thus: ADECcI
alternative ...Many abused women who find temporary
Table 1. Annual Comparative Statistics on Violence Against Women, 2004-2011*
refuge in shelters return to their husbands, in large part
because they have no other source of income. ..Returning to Reported 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
one's abuser can be dangerous. Recent Federal Bureau of
Investigation statistics disclose that 8.8 percent of all Cases
homicide victims in the United States are killed by their
spouses ...Thirty percent of female homicide victims are Rape 997 927 659 837 811 770 1,042 832
killed by their male partners. CHTcSE
Incestuous
38 46 26 22 28 27 19 23
Finally in 1994, the United States Congress enacted the Violence Against Rape
Women Act.
Attempted
194 148 185 147 204 167 268 201
In the International front, the women's struggle for equality was no less Rape
successful. The United States Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human
Acts of 580 536 382 358 445 485 745 625
Rights affirmed the equality of all human beings. In 1979, the UN General Assembly
adopted the landmark Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Lasciviousne
Against Women (CEDAW).In 1993, the UN General Assembly also adopted the ss
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. World conferences on
the role and rights of women have been regularly held in Mexico City, Copenhagen, Physical 3,553 2,335 1,892 1,505 1,307 1,498 2,018 1,588
Nairobi and Beijing. The UN itself established a Commission on the Status of
Women. TEaADS Injuries

The Philippines has been in cadence with the half — and full — steps of Sexual 53 37 38 46 18 54 83 63
all these women's movements. No less than Section 14, Article II of our 1987
Constitutionmandates the State to recognize the role of women in nation building Harassment
and to ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men. Our
Senate has ratified the CEDAW as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child RA 9262 218 924 1,269 2,387 3,599 5,285 9,974 9,021
and its two protocols. To cap it all, Congress, on March 8, 2004, enacted Rep. Act
Threats 319 223 199 182 220 208 374 213
No. 9262, entitled "An Act Defining Violence Against Women and Their Children,
Seduction 62 19 29 30 19 19 25 15 C. Gender bias and prejudices

Concubinage 121 102 93 109 109 99 158 128 From the initial report to the police through prosecution, trial, and sentencing, crimes against
women are often treated differently and less seriously than other crimes. This was argued by then United
RA 9208 17 11 16 24 34 152 190 62 States Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.,now Vice President, chief sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act
(VAWA),in defending the civil rights remedy as a valid exercise of the U.S. Congress' authority under the
Abduction/ 29 16 34 23 28 18 25 22 Commerce and Equal Protection Clauses. He stressed that the widespread gender biasin the U.S. has
institutionalized historic prejudices against victims of rape or domestic violence, subjecting them to "double
Kidnapping
victimization" — first at the hands of the offender and then of the legal system. 79
Unjust
90 50 59 59 83 703 183 155 Our own Senator Loi Estrada lamented in her Sponsorship Speech for Senate Bill No. 2723 that
Vexation
"(w)henever violence occurs in the family, the police treat it as a private matter and advise the parties to
———— ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— settle the conflict themselves. Once the complainant brings the case to the prosecutor, the latter is hesitant
— — — — — — — — to file the complaint for fear that it might later be withdrawn. This lack of response or reluctance to be
involved by the police and prosecution reinforces the escalating, recurring and often serious nature of
Total 6,271 5,374 4,881 5,729 6,905 9,485 15,104 12,948 domestic violence." 80

===== ====== ====== ====== ====== ====== ====== ====== Sadly, our own courts, as well, have exhibited prejudices and biases against our women.

*2011 report covers only from January to In a recent case resolved on March 9, 2011, we fined RTC Judge Venancio J. Amila for Conduct
August Unbecoming of a Judge. He used derogatory and irreverent language in reference to the complainant in a
petition for TPO and PPO under R.A. 9262, calling her as "only a live-in partner" and presenting her as an
Source: Philippine National Police — Women and Children Protection Center "opportunist" and a "mistress" in an "illegitimate relationship." Judge Amila even called her a "prostitute,"
(WCPC) and accused her of being motivated by "insatiable greed" and of absconding with the contested
property. 81 Such remarks betrayed Judge Amila's prejudices and lack of gender sensitivity.
On the other hand, no reliable estimates may be obtained on domestic abuse and violence
against men in the Philippines because incidents thereof are relatively low and, perhaps, because many The enactment of R.A. 9262 aims to address the discrimination brought about by biases and
men will not even attempt to report the situation. In the United Kingdom, 32% of women who had ever prejudices against women. As emphasized by the CEDAW Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
experienced domestic violence did so four or five (or more) times, compared with 11% of the smaller against Women, addressing or correcting discrimination through specific measures focused on women
number of men who had ever experienced domestic violence; and women constituted 89% of all those who does not discriminate against men. 82 Petitioner's contention, 83 therefore, that R.A. 9262 is
had experienced 4 or more incidents of domestic violence. 75 Statistics in Canada show that spousal discriminatory and that it is an "anti-male," "husband-bashing," and "hate-men" law deserves scant
violence by a woman against a man is less likely to cause injury than the other way around (18 consideration. As a State Party to the CEDAW, the Philippines bound itself to take all appropriate measures
percent versus 44 percent). Men, who experience violence from their spouses are much less likely to live in "to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the
fear of violence at the hands of their spouses, and much less likely to experience sexual assault. In fact, elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority
many cases of physical violence by a woman against a spouse are in self-defense or the result of many or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women." 84 Justice Puno
years of physical or emotional abuse. 76 CADSHI correctly pointed out that "(t)he paradigm shift changing the character of domestic violence from a private
affair to a public offense will require the development of a distinct mindset on the part of the police, the
While there are, indeed, relatively few cases of violence and abuse perpetrated against men in prosecution and the judges." 85
the Philippines, the same cannot render R.A. 9262 invalid.
II. The classification is germane to the purpose of the law.
In a 1960 case involving the violation of a city ordinance requiring drivers of animal-drawn
vehicles to pick up, gather and deposit in receptacles the manure emitted or discharged by their The distinction between men and women is germane to the purpose of R.A. 9262, which is to
vehicle-drawing animals in any public highways, streets, plazas, parks or alleys, said ordinance was address violence committed against women and children, spelled out in its Declaration of Policy,as follows:
challenged as violative of the guaranty of equal protection of laws as its application is limited to owners and
drivers of vehicle-drawing animals and not to those animals, although not utilized, but similarly pass through SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. — It is hereby declared that the State values the
the same streets. dignity of women and children and guarantees full respect for human rights. The
State also recognizes the need to protect the family and its members particularly
The ordinance was upheld as a valid classification for the reason that, while there may be women and children, from violence and threats to their personal safety and
non-vehicle-drawing animals that also traverse the city roads, "but their number must be negligible and security.
their appearance therein merely occasional, compared to the rig-drawing ones, as not to constitute a
menace to the health of the community." 77 The mere fact that the legislative classification may result in Towards this end, the State shall exert efforts to address violence
actual inequality is not violative of the right to equal protection, for every classification of persons or things committed against women and children in keeping with the fundamental freedoms
for regulation by law produces inequality in some degree, but the law is not thereby rendered guaranteed under the Constitution and the provisions of the Universal Declaration
invalid. 78 TcSHaD of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international C."Psychological violence" refers to acts or omissions
human rights instruments of which the Philippines is a party. DHECac causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of
the victim such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment,
In 1979, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the CEDAW, which the Philippines ratified on stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation,
August 5, 1981. Subsequently, the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW was also ratified by the Philippines on repeated verbal abuse and mental infidelity. It includes
October 6, 2003. 86 This Convention mandates that State parties shall accord to women equality with men causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual
before the law 87 and shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all or psychological abuse of a member of the family to which
matters relating to marriage and family relations on the basis of equality of men and women. 88 The the victim belongs, or to witness pornography in any form or
Philippines likewise ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two protocols. 89 It is, thus, to witness abusive injury to pets or to unlawful or unwanted
bound by said Conventions and their respective protocols. deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of
common children. CDEaAI
III. The classification is not limited to existing
conditions only, and apply equally to all members D. "Economic abuse" refers to acts that make or attempt to
make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is
Moreover, the application of R.A. 9262 is not limited to the existing conditions when it was
not limited to the following:
promulgated, but to future conditions as well, for as long as the safety and security of women and their
children are threatened by violence and abuse. 1. withdrawal of financial support or preventing the
victim from engaging in any legitimate profession,
R.A. 9262 applies equally to all women and children who suffer violence and abuse. Section 3
occupation, business or activity, except in cases
thereof defines VAWC as:
wherein the other spouse/partner objects on valid,
...any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman serious and moral grounds as defined in Article 73
who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a of the Family Code;
sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her
2. deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial
child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which
resources and the right to the use and enjoyment
result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or
of the conjugal, community or property owned in
economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion,
common;
harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. It includes, but is not limited to, the
following acts: SACHcD 3. destroying household property;
A. "Physical Violence" refers to acts that include bodily or 4. controlling the victims' own money or properties
physical harm; or solely controlling the conjugal money or
properties.
B. "Sexual violence" refers to an act which is sexual in
nature, committed against a woman or her child. It includes, It should be stressed that the acts enumerated in the aforequoted provision are attributable to
but is not limited to: research that has exposed the dimensions and dynamics of battery. The acts described here are also found
in the U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. 90 Hence, the argument advanced
a) rape, sexual harassment, acts of
by petitioner that the definition of what constitutes abuse removes the difference between violent action and
lasciviousness, treating a woman or her child as a
simple marital tiffs is tenuous.
sex object, making demeaning and sexually
suggestive remarks, physically attacking the There is nothing in the definition of VAWC that is vague and ambiguous that will confuse
sexual parts of the victim's body, forcing her/him to petitioner in his defense. The acts enumerated above are easily understood and provide adequate contrast
watch obscene publications and indecent shows between the innocent and the prohibited acts. They are worded with sufficient definiteness that persons of
or forcing the woman or her child to do indecent ordinary intelligence can understand what conduct is prohibited, and need not guess at its meaning nor
acts and/or make films thereof, forcing the wife differ in its application. 91 Yet, petitioner insists 92 that phrases like "depriving or threatening to deprive the
and mistress/lover to live in the conjugal home or woman or her child of a legal right," "solely controlling the conjugal or common money or properties,"
sleep together in the same room with the abuser; "marital infidelity," and "causing mental or emotional anguish" are so vague that they make every quarrel a
case of spousal abuse. However, we have stressed that the "vagueness" doctrine merely requires a
b) acts causing or attempting to cause the victim
reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld — not absolute precision or mathematical
to engage in any sexual activity by force, threat of
exactitude, as petitioner seems to suggest. Flexibility, rather than meticulous specificity, is permissible as
force, physical or other harm or threat of physical
long as the metes and bounds of the statute are clearly delineated. An act will not be held invalid merely
or other harm or coercion;
because it might have been more explicit in its wordings or detailed in its provisions. 93
c) Prostituting the woman or child.
There is likewise no merit to the contention that R.A. 9262 singles out the husband or father as It should be pointed out that when the TPO is issued ex parte, the court shall likewise order that
the culprit. As defined above, VAWC may likewise be committed "against a woman with whom the person notice be immediately given to the respondent directing him to file an opposition within five (5) days from
has or had a sexual or dating relationship." Clearly, the use of the gender-neutral word "person" who has or service. Moreover, the court shall order that notice, copies of the petition and TPO be served immediately
had a sexual or dating relationship with the woman encompasses even lesbian relationships. Moreover, on the respondent by the court sheriffs. The TPOs are initially effective for thirty (30) days from service on
while the law provides that the offender be related or connected to the victim by marriage, former marriage, the respondent. 104
or a sexual or dating relationship, it does not preclude the application of the principle of conspiracy under
the Revised Penal Code(RPC). Thus, in the case of Go-Tan v. Spouses Tan, 94 the parents-in-law of Where no TPO is issued ex parte, the court will nonetheless order the immediate issuance and
Sharica Mari L. Go-Tan, the victim, were held to be proper respondents in the case filed by the latter upon service of the notice upon the respondent requiring him to file an opposition to the petition within five (5)
the allegation that they and their son (Go-Tan's husband) had community of design and purpose in days from service. The date of the preliminary conference and hearing on the merits shall likewise be
tormenting her by giving her insufficient financial support; harassing and pressuring her to be ejected from indicated on the notice. 105
the family home; and in repeatedly abusing her verbally, emotionally, mentally and physically. TCIEcH
The opposition to the petition which the respondent himself shall verify, must be accompanied by
R.A. 9262 is not violative of the the affidavits of witnesses and shall show cause why a temporary or permanent protection order should not
due process clause of the Constitution. be issued. 106 HSCcTD

Petitioner bewails the disregard of R.A. 9262, specifically in the issuance of POs, of all It is clear from the foregoing rules that the respondent of a petition for protection order should be
protections afforded by the due process clause of the Constitution. Says he: "On the basis of apprised of the charges imputed to him and afforded an opportunity to present his side. Thus, the fear of
unsubstantiated allegations, and practically no opportunity to respond, the husband is stripped of family, petitioner of being "stripped of family, property, guns, money, children, job, future employment and
property, guns, money, children, job, future employment and reputation, all in a matter of seconds, without reputation, all in a matter of seconds, without an inkling of what happened" is a mere product of an
an inkling of what happened." 95 overactive imagination. The essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be
heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of one's defense. "To be heard" does not only
A protection order is an order issued to prevent further acts of violence against women and mean verbal arguments in court; one may be heard also through pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard,
their children, their family or household members, and to grant other necessary reliefs. Its purpose is to either through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there is no denial of procedural due process. 107
safeguard the offended parties from further harm, minimize any disruption in their daily life and facilitate the
opportunity and ability to regain control of their life. 96 It should be recalled that petitioner filed on April 26, 2006 an Opposition to the
Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Renewal of the TPO that was granted only two days earlier on April 24, 2006.
"The scope of reliefs in protection orders is broadened to ensure that the victim or offended party Likewise, on May 23, 2006, petitioner filed a motion for the modification of the TPO to allow him visitation
is afforded all the remedies necessary to curtail access by a perpetrator to the victim. This serves to rights to his children. Still, the trial court in its Order dated September 26, 2006, gave him five days (5) within
safeguard the victim from greater risk of violence; to accord the victim and any designated family or which to show cause why the TPO should not be renewed or extended. Yet, he chose not to file the required
household member safety in the family residence, and to prevent the perpetrator from committing acts that comment arguing that it would just be an "exercise in futility," conveniently forgetting that the renewal of the
jeopardize the employment and support of the victim. It also enables the court to award temporary custody questioned TPO was only for a limited period (30 days) each time, and that he could prevent the continued
of minor children to protect the children from violence, to prevent their abduction by the perpetrator and to renewal of said order if he can show sufficient cause therefor. Having failed to do so, petitioner may not now
ensure their financial support." 97 be heard to complain that he was denied due process of law.
The rules require that petitions for protection order be in writing, signed and verified by the Petitioner next laments that the removal and exclusion of the respondent in the VAWC case from
petitioner 98 thereby undertaking full responsibility, criminal or civil, for every allegation therein. Since "time the residence of the victim, regardless of ownership of the residence, is virtually a "blank check" issued to
is of the essence in cases of VAWC if further violence is to be prevented," 99 the court is authorized to the wife to claim any property as her conjugal home. 108
issue ex parte a TPO after raffle but before notice and hearing when the life, limb or property of the victim is
in jeopardy and there is reasonable ground to believe that the order is necessary to protect the victim from The wording of the pertinent rule, however, does not by any stretch of the imagination suggest
the immediate and imminent danger of VAWC or to prevent such violence, which is about to recur. 100 that this is so. It states: aIETCA

There need not be any fear that the judge may have no rational basis to issue an ex parte order. SEC. 11. Reliefs available to the offended party. — The protection order shall
The victim is required not only to verify the allegations in the petition, but also to attach her witnesses' include any, some or all of the following reliefs:
affidavits to the petition. 101
xxx xxx xxx
The grant of a TPO ex parte cannot, therefore, be challenged as violative of the right to due
process. Just like a writ of preliminary attachment which is issued without notice and hearing because the (c) Removing and excluding the respondent from the residence of the
time in which the hearing will take could be enough to enable the defendant to abscond or dispose of his offended party, regardless of ownership of the residence, either temporarily for the
property, 102 in the same way, the victim of VAWC may already have suffered harrowing experiences in purpose of protecting the offended party, or permanently where no property rights
the hands of her tormentor, and possibly even death, if notice and hearing were required before such acts are violated. If the respondent must remove personal effects from the residence, the
could be prevented. It is a constitutional commonplace that the ordinary requirements of procedural due court shall direct a law enforcement agent to accompany the respondent to the
process must yield to the necessities of protecting vital public interests, 103 among which is protection of residence, remain there until the respondent has gathered his things and escort him
women and children from violence and threats to their personal safety and security. from the residence;

xxx xxx xxx


Indubitably, petitioner may be removed and excluded from private respondent's residence, instrumentality of the Government. 112 On the other hand, executive power "is generally defined as the
regardless of ownership, only temporarily for the purpose of protecting the latter. Such removal and power to enforce and administer the laws. It is the power of carrying the laws into practical operation and
exclusion may be permanent only where no property rights are violated. How then can the private enforcing their due observance." 113
respondent just claim any property and appropriate it for herself, as petitioner seems to suggest?
As clearly delimited by the aforequoted provision, the BPO issued by the Punong Barangay or, in
The non-referral of a VAWC case his unavailability, by any available Barangay Kagawad, merely orders the perpetrator to desist from (a)
to a mediator is justified. causing physical harm to the woman or her child; and (2) threatening to cause the woman or her child
physical harm. Such function of the Punong Barangay is, thus, purely executive in nature, in pursuance of
Petitioner argues that "by criminalizing run-of-the-mill arguments, instead of encouraging
his duty under the Local Government Code to "enforce all laws and ordinances," and to "maintain public
mediation and counseling, the law has done violence to the avowed policy of the State to "protect and
order in the barangay." 114
strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution." 109
We have held that "(t)he mere fact that an officer is required by law to inquire into the existence of
Under Section 23 (c) of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, the court shall not refer the case or any issue
certain facts and to apply the law thereto in order to determine what his official conduct shall be and the fact
thereof to a mediator. The reason behind this provision is well-explained by the Commentary on Section
that these acts may affect private rights do not constitute an exercise of judicial powers." 115
311 of the Model Code on Domestic and Family Violence as follows: 110
In the same manner as the public prosecutor ascertains through a preliminary inquiry or
This section prohibits a court from ordering or referring parties to mediation in a
proceeding "whether there is reasonable ground to believe that an offense has been committed and the
proceeding for an order for protection. Mediation is a process by which parties in
accused is probably guilty thereof," the Punong Barangay must determine reasonable ground to believe
equivalent bargaining positions voluntarily reach consensual agreement about
that an imminent danger of violence against the woman and her children exists or is about to recur that
the issue at hand. Violence, however, is not a subject for compromise.A
would necessitate the issuance of a BPO. The preliminary investigation conducted by the prosecutor is,
process which involves parties mediating the issue of violence implies that the
concededly, an executive, not a judicial, function. The same holds true with the issuance of a
victim is somehow at fault. In addition, mediation of issues in a proceeding for an
BPO. DHEcCT
order of protection is problematic because the petitioner is frequently unable to
participate equally with the person against whom the protection order has been We need not even belabor the issue raised by petitioner that since barangay officials and other
sought. (Emphasis supplied) law enforcement agencies are required to extend assistance to victims of violence and abuse, it would be
very unlikely that they would remain objective and impartial, and that the chances of acquittal are nil. As
There is no undue delegation of
already stated, assistance by barangay officials and other law enforcement agencies is consistent with their
judicial power to barangay officials.
duty to enforce the law and to maintain peace and order.
Petitioner contends that protection orders involve the exercise of judicial power which, under the
Constitution, is placed upon the "Supreme Court and such other lower courts as may be established by law" Conclusion
and, thus, protests the delegation of power to barangay officials to issue protection orders. 111 The Before a statute or its provisions duly challenged are voided, an unequivocal breach of, or a clear
pertinent provision reads, as follows: HCDAac conflict with the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative one, must be demonstrated in such a
manner as to leave no doubt in the mind of the Court. In other words, the grounds for nullity must be beyond
SEC. 14. Barangay Protection Orders (BPOs);Who May Issue and How. —
reasonable doubt. 116 In the instant case, however, no concrete evidence and convincing arguments were
Barangay Protection Orders (BPOs) refer to the protection order issued by
presented by petitioner to warrant a declaration of the unconstitutionality of R.A. 9262, which is an act of
the Punong Barangay ordering the perpetrator to desist from committing acts
Congress and signed into law by the highest officer of the co-equal executive department. As we said
under Section 5 (a) and (b) of this Act. A Punong Barangay who receives
in Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, 117 courts must assume that the legislature is ever conscious of the borders
applications for a BPO shall issue the protection order to the applicant on the date
and edges of its plenary powers, and passed laws with full knowledge of the facts and for the purpose of
of filing after ex parte determination of the basis of the application. If the Punong
promoting what is right and advancing the welfare of the majority.
Barangay is unavailable to act on the application for a BPO, the application shall
be acted upon by any available Barangay Kagawad. If the BPO is issued by We reiterate here Justice Puno's observation that "the history of the women's movement against
a Barangay Kagawad, the order must be accompanied by an attestation by domestic violence shows that one of its most difficult struggles was the fight against the violence of law itself.
the Barangay Kagawad that the Punong Barangay was unavailable at the time of If we keep that in mind, law will not again be a hindrance to the struggle of women for equality but will be its
the issuance of the BPO. BPOs shall be effective for fifteen (15) days. fulfillment."118 Accordingly, the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 is, as it should be, sustained.
Immediately after the issuance of an ex parte BPO, the Punong
Barangay or Barangay Kagawad shall personally serve a copy of the same on WHEREFORE,the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
the respondent, or direct any barangay official to effect its personal service.
SO ORDERED.
The parties may be accompanied by a non-lawyer advocate in any proceeding
before the Punong Barangay. Sereno, C.J.,Carpio, Velasco, Jr.,Bersamin, Del Castillo, Villarama, Jr.,Perez,
Mendoza and Reyes, JJ., concur.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving
rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a Leonardo-de Castro, Abad and Leonen, JJ., see separate concurring opinion.
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
Brion, J., see: concurring opinion.

Peralta, J., is on official leave.

||| (Garcia v. Drilon, G.R. No. 179267, [June 25, 2013], 712 PHIL 44-176)
EN BANC 1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES; RIGHT TO A
BALANCED AND HEALTHFUL ECOLOGY, CONSTRUED. — The complaint focuses on one specific
fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our
[G.R. No. 101083. July 30, 1993.] nation's constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of
the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides: "SEC. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the
people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature." This right
JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA, unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same article: "SEC. 15.
minors, and represented by their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINAOPOSA, The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among
ROBERT A NICOLE SADIUA, minor, represented by her parents CALVIN and them." While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles
ROBERTA SADIUA, CARLO, AMANDA SALUD and PATRISHA, all surnamed and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the
FLORES, minors and represented by their parents ENRICO and NIDA civil and political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights
FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN, minor, represented by her parents altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation — aptly and fittingly
SIGFRID and DOLORES FORTUN, GEORGE II and MA. CONCEPCION, all stressed by the petitioners — the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and
surnamed MISA, minors and represented by their parents GEORGE and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are
MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V. PASIGAN, minor, represented by his assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental
parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor, charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful
represented by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA ALFARO, MARIA ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their
CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor, represented by her parents FREDENIL and continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and
JANE CASTRO, JOHANNA DESAMPARADO, minor, represented by her advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present
parents JOSE and ANGELA DESAMPARADO, CARLO JOAQUIN T. NARVASA, generation, but also for those to come — generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth
minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and CRISTINE CHARITY incapable of sustaining life. The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty
NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA and MARIE to refrain from impairing the environment.
GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, minors, represented by their parents
ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ, KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, MAY, GOLDA 2. ID.; ID.; TIMBER LICENSES; NATURE THEREOF; NON-IMPAIRMENT CLAUSE MAY NOT BE
MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all surnamed KING, minors, represented by their INVOKED; CASE AT BAR. — all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a
parents MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO and THERESE contract, property or a property right protected by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs.
VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by their parents Director of Forestry, (125 SCRA 302, 325 [1983]) This Court held: ". . . A timber license is an instrument by
BALTAZAR and TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. and REGINA MA., all which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is
surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by their parents ANTONIO and promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the purview of the due process clause; it is only a license
MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed or privilege, which can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this
CARDAMA, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and LINA CARDAMA, case. 'A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract
CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL and IMEE LYN, all surnamed OPOSA, minors between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither
and represented by their parents RICARDO and MARISSA OPOSA, PHILIP is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it taxation' (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this
JOSEPH, STEPHEN JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, minors, Court held that the granting of license does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property
represented by their parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO, rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576) . . ." We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. &
CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed BIBAL, minors, Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary: (190 SCRA 673 684 [1990]) ". . . Timber licenses, permits and
represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR. and MILAGROS BIBAL, and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition
THE PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL NETWORK, INC., petitioners,vs. THE of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely
HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or
Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and THE irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may be validly
HONORABLE ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus,
Branch 66, respondents. they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3(ee) and
20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry,G.R. No. L-24548, October 27,
1983, 125 SCRA 302]." Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:
Oposa Law Office for petitioners. "SEC. 10. No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed." In the second place, even if it is to
be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not involve a law or even an executive
The Solicitor General for respondents. issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of existing timber licenses. Hence, the non-impairment
clause cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law has actually been passed
mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot still be stigmatized as a violation of the
SYLLABUS non-impairment clause. This is because by its very nature and purpose, such a law could have only been
passed in the exercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of advancing the right of the people to
a balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe vs.
Foster Wheeler Corp., (110 Phil. 198, 203 [1960]) this Court stated: "The freedom of contract, under our
system of government, is not meant to be absolute. The same is understood to be subject to reasonable (Marao Sugar Central Co. vs. Barrios, 79 Phil. 666 [1947]; Community Investment and Finance
legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health, moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the Corp. vs.Garcia, 88 Phil. 215 [1951]; Remitere vs. vda. de Yulo, 16 SCRA 251 [1966]; Caseñas vs. Rosales,
constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limited by the exercise of the police 19 SCRA 462 [1967]; Virata vs. Sandiganbayan, 202 SCRA 680 [1991]; Madrona vs. Rosal, 204 SCRA 1
power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, moral and general welfare." The reason for this is [1991].
emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. New York, (291 U.S. 502, 523, 78 L. ed. 940 947-949) quoted
in Philippine American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, (22 SCRA 135, 146-147 [1968]) to wit: 5. ID.; ID.; MOTION TO DISMISS; LACK OF CAUSE OF ACTION, AS A GROUND; RULE; CASE AT BAR.
"'Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are normally matters of — It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to
private and not of public concern. The general rule is that both shall be free of governmental interference. state a cause of action, the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts
But neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen may at alleged in the complaint itself. No other matter should be considered; furthermore, the truth or falsity of the
will use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract to work them harm. said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically admitted. The only issue to
Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to regulate it in the common interest.'" In court, be resolved in such a case is: admitting such alleged facts to be true, may the court render a valid judgment
the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state. (Ongsiako vs. Gamboa, 86 Phil. 50 in accordance with the prayer in the complaint? In Militante vs. Edrosolano, this Court laid down the rule
[1950]; Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp., supra; Phil. American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, supra; that the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care and circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss
Alalyan vs. NLRC, 24 scra 172 [1968]; Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers Union, 59 SCRA 54 [1974]; on the ground of the absence thereof [cause of action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct appreciation of
Kabiling vs. National Housing Authority, 156 SCRA 623 [1987]). the facts alleged and deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recognizes is effectively
nullified. If that happens, there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in disrepute." After a careful
3. ID.; JUDICIAL REVIEW; NO LONGER IMPAIRED BY THE POLITICAL QUESTION DOCTRINE; examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements under the introductory affirmative
RATIONALE. — It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the political question doctrine is no longer the allegations, as well as the specific averments under the subheading CAUSE OF ACTION, to be adequate
insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that protects executive enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof, they may thus be
and legislative actions from judicial inquiry or review. The second paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for.
Constitution states that: "Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or FELICIANO, J., concurring:
not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
1. REMEDIAL LAW; ACTIONS; LOCUS STANDI, CONSTRUED; CASE AT BAR. — The Court explicitly
branch or instrumentality of the Government." Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political
states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing and maintenance of this suit
Law, Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a distinguished member of this Court, says: "The first part of the authority
(Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus standi is not a function of petitioners' claim that their suit is properly regarded
represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the settlement of conflicting rights as
as a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal interest which a plaintiff must have in the
conferred by law. The second part of the authority represents a broadening of judicial power to enable the
subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of the concept of "class" here involved —
courts of justice to review what was before forbidden territory, to wit, the discretion of the political
membership in this "class" appears to embrace everyone living in the country whether now or in the future
departments of the government. As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the
— it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the course of action petitioners seek
Supreme Court, the power to rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and the
to require public respondents to take, is vested with the necessary locus standi. The Court may be seen
legislature and to declare their acts invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave
therefore to be recognizing a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of environmental protection, as against
abuse of discretion. The catch, of course, is the meaning of 'grave abuse of discretion,' which is a very
both the public administrative agency directly concerned and the private persons or entities operating in the
elastic phrase that can expand or contract according to the disposition of the judiciary." In Daza vs. Singson,
field or sector of activity involved. Whether such a beneficiaries' right of action may be found under any and
(180 SCRA 496, 501-502 [1989]. See also Coseteng vs. Mitra, 187 SCRA 377 [1990];
all circumstances, or whether some failure to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental
Gonzales vs. Macaraig, 191 SCRA 844 [1991]; Bengzon vs. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, 203 SCRA
agency concerned must be shown ("prior exhaustion of administrative remedies"), is not discussed in the
767 [1991]) Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted: "In the case now before us, the
decision and presumably is left for future determination in an appropriate case.
jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive. The reason is that, even if we were to
assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature, we would still not be precluded from 2. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES; RIGHT TO "A
resolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases, even the BALANCE AND HEALTHFUL ECOLOGY"; INTERPRETATION. — The Court has also declared that the
political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly provides: . . ." complaint has alleged and focused upon "one specific fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and
healthful ecology" (Decision, p. 14). There is no question that "the right to a balanced and healthful ecology"
is "fundamental" and that, accordingly, it has been "constitutionalized." But although it is fundamental in
4. REMEDIAL LAW; PLEADINGS; CAUSE OF ACTION, DEFINED; CASE AT BAR. — the right of the character, I suggest, with very great respect, that it cannot be characterized as "specific," without doing
petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as the DENR's duty excessive violence to language. It is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in scope
— under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative and generalized in character than a right to "a balanced and healthful ecology." The list of particular claims
Code of 1987 — to protect and advance the said right. A denial or violation of that right by the other who has which can be subsumed under this rubric appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of
the correlative duty or obligation to respect or protect the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners emission of toxic fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical effluents,
maintain that the granting of the TLAs, which they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels, oil rigs, factories, mines and
their right to a balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further whole communities; of dumping of organic and inorganic wastes on open land, streets and thoroughfares;
TLAs should be renewed or granted. A cause of action is defined as: ". . . an act or omission of one party in failure to rehabilitate land after strip-mining or open-pit mining;kaingin or slash-and-burn farming;
violation of the legal right or rights of the other; and its essential elements are legal right of the plaintiff, destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through the use of dynamite or cyanide
correlative obligation of the defendant, and act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right." and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources; loss of certain species of fauna and flora;
and so on. The other statements pointed out by the Court: Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 "inter-generational justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have a cause
June 1987; Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 1151, dated 6 June of action to "prevent the misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine rainforests and "arrest the unabated
1977 — all appear to be formulations ofpolicy, as general and abstract as the constitutional statements of hemorrhage of the country's vital life-support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth."
basic policy in Article II, Sections 16 ("the right — to a balanced and healthful ecology") and 15 ("the right to
health"). As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners' cause of action as anchored on a legal right comprised
in the constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of
The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-777 which was filed before Branch 66 (Makati, Metro
Article II of the Constitution are self-executing and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The
Manila) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region. The principal plaintiffs therein,
implications of this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those implications are too large and
now the principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by their respective parents.
far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here.
Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock
3. ID.; RIGHT TO HEALTH; SHOULD SPECIFICALLY EXIST IN OUR CORPUS OF LAW. — Justice and non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action geared for
Feliciano suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more specific legal right — the protection of our environment and natural resources. The original defendant was the Honorable
a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of generality than Article II (15) of the Constitution — Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
that is or may be violated by the actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by petitioners so (DENR). His substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was
that the trial court can validly render judgment granting all or part of the relief prayed for. To my mind, the subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the petitioners. 1 The complaint 2 was instituted as a
Court should be understood as simply saying that such a more specific legal right or rights may well exist in taxpayers' class suit 3 and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines,
our corpus of law, considering the general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the
the Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners an effective country's virgin tropical rainforests." The same was filed for themselves and others who are equally
opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on a motion to dismiss. concerned about the preservation of said resource but are "so numerous that it is impracticable to bring
them all before the Court." The minors further asseverate that they "represent their generation as well as
4. REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; CAUSE OF ACTION; LEGAL RIGHTS, AS ESSENTIAL generations yet unborn." 4Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment be rendered:
COMPONENTS; STANDARDS. — the legal right which is an essential component of a cause of action be a
specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons. One ". . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his
is that unless the legal right claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in behalf to —
operational terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and effectively; in
(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country;
other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter. The second is a broader-gauge consideration
— where a specific violation of law or applicable regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be (2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving
expected to fall back on the expanded conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of Section 1 of new timber license agreements."
Article VIII of the Constitution which reads: "Section 1 . . . Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of
justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises." 5
determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands has a
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government." When substantive standards as
land area of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and verdant rainforests in
general as "the right to a balanced and healthy ecology" and "the right to health" are combined with
which varied, rare and unique species of flora and fauna may be found; these rainforests contain a genetic,
remedial standards as broad ranging as "a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
biological and chemical pool which is irreplaceable; they are also the habitat of indigenous Philippine
jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social
cultures which have existed, endured and flourished since time immemorial; scientific evidence reveals that
and economic policy making. At least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and
in order to maintain a balanced and healthful ecology, the country's land area should be utilized on the basis
management, our courts have no claim to special technical competence and experience and professional
of a ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for agricultural, residential,
qualifications. Where no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making
industrial, commercial and other uses; the distortion and disturbance of this balance as a consequence of
departments — the legislative and executive departments — must be given a real and effective opportunity
deforestation have resulted in a host of environmental tragedies, such as (a) water shortages resulting from
to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to implement them before the courts should
the drying up of the water table, otherwise known as the "aquifer," as well as of rivers, brooks and streams,
intervene.
(b) salinization of the water table as a result of the intrusion therein of salt water, incontrovertible examples
of which may be found in the island of Cebu and the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c) massive erosion and
the consequential loss of soil fertility and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded estimated
at one billion (1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum — approximately the size of the entire island of
DECISION Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction of the country's unique, rare and varied flora and fauna, (e)
the disturbance and dislocation of cultural communities, including the disappearance of the Filipino's
indigenous cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and consequential destruction of corals and other
aquatic life leading to a critical reduction in marine resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is
DAVIDE, JR., J p: presently experienced by the entire country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which result from the
absence of windbreakers, (i) the flooding of lowlands and agricultural plains arising from the absence of the
In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology which absorbent mechanism of forests, (j) the siltation and shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams
the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of "inter-generational responsibility" and constructed and operated for the purpose of supplying water for domestic uses, irrigation and the
generation of electric power, and (k) the reduction of the earth's capacity to process carbon dioxide gases 16. Plaintiffs have exhausted all administrative remedies with the defendant's office.
which has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes such as the phenomenon of global warming, On March 2, 1990, plaintiffs served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all
otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect." logging permits in the country.

Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued deforestation are so A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex 'B'.
capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice.
This notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present expert witnesses as well as documentary, 17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA's, to the
photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial. continuing serious damage and extreme prejudice of plaintiffs.

As their cause of action, they specifically allege that: 18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA's is an act
violative of the rights of plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a
"CAUSE OF ACTION country that is desertified (sic), bare, barren and devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna
and indigenous cultures which the Philippines has been abundantly blessed with.
7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.
19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is manifestly contrary to
8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16) million
the public policy enunciated in the Philippine Environmental Policy which, in
hectares of rainforests constituting roughly 53% of the country's land mass.
pertinent part, states that it is the policy of the State —
9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million
'(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under
hectares of said rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area.
which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony
10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth with each other;
rainforests are left, barely 2.8% of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago
'(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of
and about 3.0 million hectares of immature and uneconomical secondary growth
present and future generations of Filipinos and;
forests.
'(c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is
11. Public records reveal that defendant's predecessors have granted timber
conducive to a life of dignity and well-being'. (P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977).
license agreements ('TLA's') to various corporations to cut the aggregate area of
3.89 million hectares for commercial logging purposes. 20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's
is contradictory to the Constitutional policy of the State to —
A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached
as Annex 'A'. a. effect 'a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income
and wealth' and 'make full and efficient use of natural resources (sic).'
12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25
(Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution);
hectares per hour — nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included — the
Philippines will be bereft of forest resources after the end of this ensuing decade, if b. 'protect the nation's marine wealth.' (Section 2, ibid);
not earlier.
c. 'conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage and
13. The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious injury and irreparable resources (sic).' (Section 14, Article XIV, id.);
damage of this continued trend of deforestation to the plaintiff minors' generation
and to generations yet unborn are evident and incontrovertible. As a matter of fact, d. 'protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced
the environmental damages enumerated in paragraph 6 hereof are already being and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.'
felt, experienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff adults. (Section 16, Article II, id.)

14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the 21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to the highest law of humankind — the natural
remaining forest stands will work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs — law — and violative of plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation.
especially plaintiff minors and their successors — who may never see, use, benefit
from and enjoy this rare and unique natural resource treasure. 22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other than the
instant action to arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life-support
This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the systems and continued rape of Mother Earth." 6
natural resource property he holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and
succeeding generations. On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint
based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him and (2) the issue
15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches
ecology and are entitled to protection by the State in its capacity as the parens of Government. In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the petitioners maintain that (1) the
patriae.
complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action, (2) the motion is dilatory and (3) the action Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted Civil Case
presents a justiciable question as it involves the defendant's abuse of discretion. No. 90-777 as a class suit. The original defendant and the present respondents did not take issue with this
matter. Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class suit. The subject matter of the
complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but to all citizens of the Philippines.
Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it becomes impracticable, if not totally impossible, to
On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss. 7 In
bring all of them before the court. We likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and
the said order, not only was the defendant's claim — that the complaint states no cause of action against
representative enough to ensure the full protection of all concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for
him and that it raises a political question — sustained, the respondent Judge further ruled that the granting
the filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court are present both in the
of the reliefs prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the fundamental
said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter being but an incident to the former.
law of the land.
This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent their
Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court
generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for
and ask this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent Judge
others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in
gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action. Again, the parents of the plaintiffs-minors not only
behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility
represent their children, but have also joined the latter in this case. 8
insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter
On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their expounded, considers the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its
respective Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of the entirety. 9 Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization,
respondents and the petitioners filed a reply thereto. management, renewal and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife,
off-shore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be
Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it contains equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations. 10 Needless to say, every generation has
sufficient allegations concerning their right to a sound environment based on Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and
Civil Code (Human Relations), Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192 creating the DENR, Section 3 of healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors' assertion of their right to a sound environment
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy), Section 16, Article II of the 1987 constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the
Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of generations to come.
generational genocide in Criminal Law and the concept of man's inalienable right to self-preservation and
self-perpetuation embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise rely on the respondent's correlative The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, We shall now proceed to the merits of the
obligation, per Section 4 of E.O. No. 192, the safeguard the people's right to a healthful environment. petition.

It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion in After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a meticulous consideration and evaluation of the
granting Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for logging than what is available involves issues raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find for the petitioners and rule
a judicial question. against the respondent Judge's challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of the said order read as follows:
Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution's non-impairment clause, petitioners
maintain that the same does not apply in this case because TLAs are not contracts. They likewise submit xxx xxx xxx
that even if TLAs may be considered protected by the said clause, it is well settled that they may still be
"After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court cannot help
revoked by the State when public interest so requires.
but agree with the defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the
On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific noblest of all intentions, it (sic) fell short of alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a
legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law. They see nothing in specific legal right they are seeking to enforce and protect, or a specific legal wrong
the complaint but vague and nebulous allegations concerning an "environmental right" which supposedly they are seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1, Rule 2, RRC). Furthermore, the
entitles the petitioners to the "protection by the state in its capacity as parens patriae." Such allegations, Court notes that the Complaint is replete with vague assumptions and vague
according to them, do not reveal a valid cause of action. They then reiterate the theory that the question of conclusions based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a cause of action
whether logging should be permitted in the country is a political question which should be properly in its Complaint against the herein defendant.
addressed to the executive or legislative branches of Government. They therefore assert that the
Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed
petitioners' recourse is not to file an action in court, but to lobby before Congress for the passage of a bill
with political color and involving a matter of public policy, may not be taken
that would ban logging totally.
cognizance of by this Court without doing violence to the sacred principle of
As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same cannot be done by the 'Separation of Powers' of the three (3) co-equal branches of the Government.
State without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains effective for a certain period of time —
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our
usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled
jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing
unless the holder has been found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated the terms of the agreement
timber license agreements in the country and to cease and desist from receiving,
or other forestry laws and regulations. Petitioners' proposition to have all the TLAs indiscriminately
accepting, processing renewing or approving new timber license agreements. For to
cancelled without the requisite hearing would be violative of the requirements of due process.
do otherwise would amount to 'impairment of contracts' abhored (sic) by the Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as well as
fundamental law." 11 the other related provisions of the Constitution concerning the conservation, development and utilization of
the country's natural resources, 13 then President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O.
We do not agree with the trial court's conclusion that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient definiteness No. 192, 14Section 4 of which expressly mandates that the Department of Environment and Natural
a specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint is replete with Resources "shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management,
vague assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data. A reading of the complaint itself belies these development and proper use of the country's environment and natural resources, specifically forest and
conclusions. grazing lands, mineral resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the
public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural resources as may be provided for by law
The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and healthful
in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and
ecology which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the
future generations of Filipinos." Section 3 thereof makes the following statement of policy:
fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides:
"SEC. 3. Declaration of Policy. — It is hereby declared the policy of the State to
"SEC. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced
ensure the sustainable use, development, management, renewal, and conservation
and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."
of the country's forest, mineral, land, off-shore areas and other natural resources,
This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same including the protection and enhancement of the quality of the environment, and
article: equitable access of the different segments of the population to the development and
use of the country's natural resources, not only for the present generation but for
"SEC. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and future generations as well. It is also the policy of the state to recognize and apply a
instill health consciousness among them." true value system including social and environmental cost implications relative to
their utilization; development and conservation of our natural resources."
While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and
State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil This policy declaration is substantially re-stated in Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of
and political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether 1987, 15 specifically in Section 1 thereof which reads:
for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation — aptly and fittingly stressed by the
petitioners — the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As "SEC. 1. Declaration of Policy. — (1) The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the
a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist Filipino people, the full exploration and development as well as the judicious
from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country's
because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural
and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance
importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment and the objective of
the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but making the exploration, development and utilization of such natural resources
also for those to come — generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of equitably accessible to the different segments of the present as well as future
sustaining life. generations.

(2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system that takes into
account social and environmental cost implications relative to the utilization,
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the development and conservation of our natural resources."
environment. During the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the 1986 Constitutional
Commission, the following exchange transpired between Commissioner Wilfrido Villacorta and The above provision stresses "the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and
Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who sponsored the section in question: enhancing the quality of the environment." Section 2 of the same Title, on the other hand, specifically
speaks of the mandate of the DENR; however, it makes particular reference to the fact of the agency's
"MR. VILLACORTA: being subject to law and higher authority. Said section provides:
Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of "SEC. 2. Mandate. — (1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources
pollution — air, water and noise pollution? shall be primarily responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy.
MR. AZCUNA: (2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the
State's constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration,
Yes, Madam President. The right to healthful (sic) environment necessarily carries
development, utilization, and conservation of the country's natural resources."
with it the correlative duty of not impairing the same and, therefore,
sanctions may be provided for impairment of environmental balance." 12 Both E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as the
bases for policy formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the DENR.
The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the
country's forests. Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversibly
disrupted.
It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific statutes determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
already paid special attention to the "environmental right" of the present and future generations. On 6 June lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine Environment Code) Government."
were issued. The former "declared a continuing policy of the State (a) to create, develop, maintain and
improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law, 22 Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a
other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, distinguished member of this Court, says:
and (c) to insure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and
"The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power,
well-being." 16 As its goal, it speaks of the "responsibilities of each generation as trustee and guardian of
involving the settlement of conflicting rights as conferred by law. The second part of
the environment for succeeding generations." 17 The latter statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to the
the authority represents a broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice
said policy.
to review what was before forbidden territory, to wit, the discretion of the political
Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as departments of the government.
clear as the DENR's duty — under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under E.O. No.
192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 — to protect and advance the said right.
As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the correlative duty or obligation to respect or protect
Court, the power to rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and
the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLAs, which they claim
the legislature and to declare their acts invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction
was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the
because tainted with grave abuse of discretion. The catch, of course, is the meaning
full protection thereof requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or granted.
of 'grave abuse of discretion,' which is a very elastic phrase that can expand or
A cause of action is defined as: contract according to the disposition of the judiciary."

". . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other; In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted:
and its essential elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the
"In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable
defendant, and act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right." 18
and decisive. The reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to state before us was political in nature, we would still not be precluded from resolving it
a cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases,
alleged in the complaint itself. No other matter should be considered; furthermore, the truth or falsity of the even the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly
said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically admitted. The only issue to provides: . . ."
be resolved in such a case is: admitting such alleged facts to be true, may the court render a valid judgment
The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of contracts
in accordance with the prayer in the complaint? 20 In Militante vs. Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the
clause found in the Constitution. The court a quo declared that:
rule that the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care and circumspection in passing upon a motion to
dismiss on the ground of the absence thereof [cause of action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct "The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our
appreciation of the facts alleged and deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recognizes is jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing
effectively nullified. If that happens, there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in disrepute." timber license agreements in the country and to cease and desist from receiving,
accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements. For
After a careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements under the introductory
to do otherwise would amount to 'impairment of contracts' abhored (sic) by the
affirmative allegations, as well as the specific averments under the subheading CAUSE OF ACTION, to be
fundamental law." 24
adequate enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof, they may
thus be granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears stressing, however, that insofar as the We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping
cancellation of the TLAs is concerned, there is the need to implead, as party defendants, the grantees pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even invoke in his
thereof for they are indispensable parties. motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If he had done so, he would have acted with utmost infidelity
to the Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and advantages to the timber license
The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 cannot be said to raise a political question. Policy
holders because he would have forever bound the Government to strictly respect the said licenses
formulation or determination by the executive or legislative branches of Government is not squarely put in
according to their terms and conditions regardless of changes in policy and the demands of public interest
issue. What is principally involved is the enforcement of a right vis-a-vis policies already formulated and
and welfare. He was aware that as correctly pointed out by the petitioners, into every timber license must be
expressed in legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the political question doctrine is no
read Section 20 of the Forestry Reform Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides:
longer the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that protects
executive and legislative actions from judicial inquiry or review. The second paragraph of section 1, Article ". . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President may amend,
VIII of the Constitution states that: modify, replace or rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other
form of privilege granted herein . . ."
"Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to
Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract, " 'Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are
property or a property right protected by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director normally matters of private and not of public concern. The general rule is that both
of Forestry, 25 this Court held: shall be free of governmental interference. But neither property rights nor contract
rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen may at will use his
". . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and
property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract to work
disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. A timber
them harm. Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to regulate
license is not a contract within the purview of the due process clause; it is only a
it in the common interest.' "
license or privilege, which can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by public
interest or public welfare as in this case. In court, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state. 31
'A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment clause could apply with
is not a contract between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and respect to the prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or
the person to whom it is granted; neither is it property or a property right, nor does it approving new timber licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would have as of yet existed in the
create a vested right; nor is it taxation' (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the other instances. Moreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it as a matter of right.
granting of license does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or
property rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576) . . ." WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the challenged
Order of respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is hereby set aside. The
We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary: 26 petitioners may therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders or grantees of the
questioned timber license agreements.
". . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments
by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the No pronouncement as to costs.
end that public welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely
evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the SO ORDERED.
latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the
forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ ., concur.
rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are
Narvasa, C . J . , took no part; related to one of the parties.
not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause
[See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Puno, J ., took no part in the deliberations.
Director of Forestry,G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302]."
Vitug, J ., took no part; I was not yet with the Court when the case was deliberated upon.
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:
||| (Oposa v. Factoran, Jr., G.R. No. 101083, [July 30, 1993])
"SEC. 10. No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed." 27

cannot be invoked.
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not
involve a law or even an executive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of existing timber
licenses. Hence, the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a
law has actually been passed mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot still be
stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment clause. This is because by its very nature and purpose,
such a law could have only been passed in the exercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of
advancing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their health and enhancing
the general welfare. In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp., 28 this Court stated:

"The freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be


absolute. The same is understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation
aimed at the promotion of public health, moral, safety and welfare. In other words,
the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limited by
the exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety,
moral and general welfare."

The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. New York, 29 quoted in Philippine American Life
Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, 30 to wit:
THIRD DIVISION xxx xxx xxx

SO ORDERED. 6
[G.R. No. 198780. October 16, 2013.]
The RTC was of the view that the parties married each other for convenience only. Giving
credence to the testimony of Albios, it stated that she contracted Fringer to enter into a marriage to enable
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,vs.LIBERTY her to acquire American citizenship; that in consideration thereof, she agreed to pay him the sum of
D. ALBIOS, respondent. $2,000.00; that after the ceremony, the parties went their separate ways; that Fringer returned to the United
States and never again communicated with her; and that, in turn, she did not pay him the $2,000.00
because he never processed her petition for citizenship. The RTC, thus, ruled that when marriage was
entered into for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life, such was a farce and
DECISION should not be recognized from its inception.

Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),
filed a motion for reconsideration. The RTC issued the Order, 7dated February 5, 2009, denying the motion
for want of merit. It explained that the marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely give
MENDOZA, J p: their consent to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only as a means
to acquire American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00.
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the
September 29, 2011 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 95414, which affirmed the Not in conformity, the OSG filed an appeal before the CA.
April 25, 2008 Decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court, Imus, Cavite (RTC),declaring the marriage of Daniel
Ruling of the CA
Lee Fringer (Fringer) and respondent Liberty Albios (Albios) as void from the beginning.
In its assailed decision, dated September 29, 2011, the CA affirmed the RTC ruling which found
The Facts that the essential requisite of consent was lacking. The CA stated that the parties clearly did not understand
On October 22, 2004, Fringer, an American citizen, and Albios were married before Judge Ofelia the nature and consequence of getting married and that their case was similar to a marriage in jest. It further
I. Calo of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 59, Mandaluyong City (MeTC), as evidenced by a Certificate explained that the parties never intended to enter into the marriage contract and never intended to live as
of Marriage with Register No. 2004-1588. 3 husband and wife or build a family. It concluded that their purpose was primarily for personal gain, that is,
for Albios to obtain foreign citizenship, and for Fringer, the consideration of $2,000.00.
On December 6, 2006, Albios filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity 4 of her
marriage with Fringer. She alleged that immediately after their marriage, they separated and never lived as Hence, this petition.
husband and wife because they never really had any intention of entering into a married state or complying
Assignment of Error
with any of their essential marital obligations. She described their marriage as one made in jest and,
therefore, null and void ab initio. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW WHEN IT
HELD THAT A MARRIAGE CONTRACTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF
Summons was served on Fringer but he did not file his answer. On September 13, OBTAINING FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP WAS DONE IN JEST, HENCE,
2007, Albios filed a motion to set case for pre-trial and to admit her pre-trial brief. The RTC ordered the LACKING IN THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF CONSENT.8
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor to conduct an investigation and determine the existence of a collusion. On
October 2, 2007, the Assistant Prosecutor complied and reported that she could not make a determination The OSG argues that albeit the intention was for Albios to acquire American citizenship and for
for failure of both parties to appear at the scheduled investigation. Fringer to be paid $2,000.00, both parties freely gave their consent to the marriage, as they knowingly and
willingly entered into that marriage and knew the benefits and consequences of being bound by it.
At the pre-trial, only Albios, her counsel and the prosecutor appeared. Fringer did not attend the According to the OSG, consent should be distinguished from motive, the latter being inconsequential to the
hearing despite being duly notified of the schedule. After the pre-trial, hearing on the merits ensued. validity of marriage.
Ruling of the RTC The OSG also argues that the present case does not fall within the concept of a marriage in jest.
In its April 25, 2008 Decision, 5 the RTC declared the marriage void ab initio,the dispositive The parties here intentionally consented to enter into a real and valid marriage, for if it were otherwise, the
portion of which reads: purpose of Albios to acquire American citizenship would be rendered futile.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered On October 29, 2012, Albios filed her Comment 9 to the petition, reiterating her stand that her
declaring the marriage of Liberty Albios and Daniel Lee Fringer as void from the marriage was similar to a marriage by way of jest and, therefore, void from the beginning.
very beginning. As a necessary consequence of this pronouncement, petitioner
On March 22, 2013, the OSG filed its Reply 10 reiterating its arguments in its petition for review
shall cease using the surname of respondent as she never acquired any right over it
on certiorari.
and so as to avoid a misimpression that she remains the wife of
respondent. ESDcIA Ruling of the Court
The resolution of this case hinges on this sole question of law: Is a marriage, contracted for the purpose." 20 The 1980 immigration case of Matter of McKee, 21 further recognized that a fraudulent or
sole purpose of acquiring American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00, void ab initio on the ground of sham marriage was intrinsically different from a nonsubsisting one.
lack of consent?
Nullifying these limited purpose marriages for lack of consent has, therefore, been recognized as
The Court resolves in the negative. problematic. The problem being that in order to obtain an immigration benefit, a legal marriage is first
necessary. 22 At present, United States courts have generally denied annulments involving "limited
Before the Court delves into its ruling, It shall first examine the phenomenon of marriage fraud for purpose" marriages where a couple married only to achieve a particular purpose, and have upheld such
the purposes of immigration. SACTIH marriages as valid. 23 ACIDTE
Marriage Fraud in Immigration The Court now turns to the case at hand.
The institution of marriage carries with it concomitant benefits. This has led to the development of
Respondent's marriage not void
marriage fraud for the sole purpose of availing of particular benefits. In the United States, marriages where
a couple marries only to achieve a particular purpose or acquire specific benefits, have been referred to as In declaring the respondent's marriage void, the RTC ruled that when a marriage was entered
"limited purpose" marriages. 11 A common limited purpose marriage is one entered into solely for the into for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life, such was a farce and should not
legitimization of a child. 12 Another, which is the subject of the present case, is for immigration purposes. be recognized from its inception. In its resolution denying the OSG's motion for reconsideration, the RTC
Immigration law is usually concerned with the intention of the couple at the time of their marriage, 13 and it went on to explain that the marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely give their consent
attempts to filter out those who use marriage solely to achieve immigration status. 14 to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only as a means for the
respondent to acquire American citizenship.
In 1975, the seminal case of Bark v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 15 established the
principal test for determining the presence of marriage fraud in immigration cases. It ruled that a "marriage Agreeing with the RTC, the CA ruled that the essential requisite of consent was lacking. It held
is a sham if the bride and groom did not intend to establish a life together at the time they were married." that the parties clearly did not understand the nature and consequence of getting married. As in
This standard was modified with the passage of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendment of the Rubenstein case, the CA found the marriage to be similar to a marriage in jest considering that the
1986 (IMFA),which now requires the couple to instead demonstrate that the marriage wasnot "entered into parties only entered into the marriage for the acquisition of American citizenship in exchange of $2,000.00.
for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States." The focus, thus, shifted from They never intended to enter into a marriage contract and never intended to live as husband and wife or
determining the intention to establish a life together, to determining the intention of evading immigration build a family.
laws. 16 It must be noted, however, that this standard is used purely for immigration purposes and,
therefore, does not purport to rule on the legal validity or existence of a marriage. The CA's assailed decision was, therefore, grounded on the parties' supposed lack of consent.
Under Article 2 of the Family Code, consent is an essential requisite of marriage. Article 4 of the same Code
The question that then arises is whether a marriage declared as a sham or fraudulent for the provides that the absence of any essential requisite shall render a marriage void ab initio.
limited purpose of immigration is also legally void and inexistent. The early cases on limited purpose
marriages in the United States made no definitive ruling. In 1946, the notable case of United States v. Under said Article 2, for consent to be valid, it must be (1) freely given and (2) made in the
Rubenstein 17 was promulgated, wherein in order to allow an alien to stay in the country, the parties had presence of a solemnizing officer. A "freely given" consent requires that the contracting parties willingly and
agreed to marry but not to live together and to obtain a divorce within six months. The Court, through Judge deliberately enter into the marriage. Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor rendered
Learned Hand, ruled that a marriage to convert temporary into permanent permission to stay in the country defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles 45 and 46 of the Family Code, such as fraud, force,
was not a marriage, there being no consent, to wit: intimidation, and undue influence. 24 Consent must also be conscious or intelligent, in that the parties must
be capable of intelligently understanding the nature of, and both the beneficial or unfavorable
...But, that aside, Spitz and Sandler were never married at all. Mutual consent is consequences of their act. 25 Their understanding should not be affected by insanity, intoxication, drugs, or
necessary to every contract; and no matter what forms or ceremonies the parties hypnotism. 26
may go through indicating the contrary, they do not contract if they do not in fact
assent, which may always be proved. ...Marriage is no exception to this rule: a Based on the above, consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. In fact, there
marriage in jest is not a marriage at all. ...It is quite true that a marriage without was real consent because it was not vitiated nor rendered defective by any vice of consent. Their consent
subsequent consummation will be valid; but if the spouses agree to a marriage was also conscious and intelligent as they understood the nature and the beneficial and inconvenient
only for the sake of representing it as such to the outside world and with the consequences of their marriage, as nothing impaired their ability to do so. That their consent was freely
understanding that they will put an end to it as soon as it has served its purpose to given is best evidenced by their conscious purpose of acquiring American citizenship through marriage.
deceive, they have never really agreed to be married at all. They must assent to Such plainly demonstrates that they willingly and deliberately contracted the marriage. There was a clear
enter into the relation as it is ordinarily understood, and it is not ordinarily intention to enter into a real and valid marriage so as to fully comply with the requirements of an application
understood as merely a pretence, or cover, to deceive others. 18 for citizenship. There was a full and complete understanding of the legal tie that would be created between
them, since it was that precise legal tie which was necessary to accomplish their goal.
(Italics supplied)
In ruling that Albios' marriage was void for lack of consent, the CA characterized such as akin to
On the other end of the spectrum is the 1969 case of Mpiliris v. Hellenic Lines, 19 which declared a marriage by way of jest. A marriage in jest is a pretended marriage, legal in form but entered into as a joke,
as valid a marriage entered into solely for the husband to gain entry to the United States, stating that a valid with no real intention of entering into the actual marriage status, and with a clear understanding that the
marriage could not be avoided "merely because the marriage was entered into for a limited parties would not be bound. The ceremony is not followed by any conduct indicating a purpose to enter into
such a relation. 27 It is a pretended marriage not intended to be real and with no intention to create any
legal ties whatsoever, hence, the absence of any genuine consent. Marriages in jest are void ab initio,not No less than our Constitution declares that marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the
for vitiated, defective, or unintelligent consent, but for a complete absence of consent. There is no genuine foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. 32 It must, therefore, be safeguarded from the
consent because the parties have absolutely no intention of being bound in any way or for any purpose. whims and caprices of the contracting parties. This Court cannot leave the impression that marriage may
easily be entered into when it suits the needs of the parties, and just as easily nullified when no longer
The respondent's marriage is not at all analogous to a marriage in jest. Albios and Fringer had an needed.
undeniable intention to be bound in order to create the very bond necessary to allow the respondent to
acquire American citizenship. Only a genuine consent to be married would allow them to further their WHEREFORE,the petition is GRANTED.The September 29, 2011 Decision of the Court of
objective, considering that only a valid marriage can properly support an application for citizenship. There Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 95414 is ANNULLED,and Civil Case No. 1134-06 is DISMISSED for utter lack
was, thus, an apparent intention to enter into the actual marriage status and to create a legal tie, albeit for a of merit. SCIcTD
limited purpose. Genuine consent was, therefore, clearly present. cEaSHC
SO ORDERED.
The avowed purpose of marriage under Article 1 of the Family Code is for the couple to establish
||| (Republic v. Albios, G.R. No. 198780, [October 16, 2013], 719 PHIL 622-638)
a conjugal and family life. The possibility that the parties in a marriage might have no real intention to
establish a life together is, however, insufficient to nullify a marriage freely entered into in accordance with
law. The same Article 1 provides that the nature, consequences, and incidents of marriage are governed by
law and not subject to stipulation. A marriage may, thus, only be declared void or voidable under the
grounds provided by law. There is no law that declares a marriage void if it is entered into for purposes other
than what the Constitution or law declares, such as the acquisition of foreign citizenship. Therefore, so long
as all the essential and formal requisites prescribed by law are present, and it is not void or voidable under
the grounds provided by law, it shall be declared valid. 28

Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State does not and cannot
dictate on the kind of life that a couple chooses to lead. Any attempt to regulate their lifestyle would go into
the realm of their right to privacy and would raise serious constitutional questions. 29 The right to marital
privacy allows married couples to structure their marriages in almost any way they see fit, to live together or
live apart, to have children or no children, to love one another or not, and so on. 30Thus, marriages entered
into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as convenience, companionship, money, status, and title,
provided that they comply with all the legal requisites, 31 are equally valid. Love, though the ideal
consideration in a marriage contract, is not the only valid cause for marriage. Other considerations, not
precluded by law, may validly support a marriage.

Although the Court views with disdain the respondent's attempt to utilize marriage for dishonest
purposes, It cannot declare the marriage void. Hence, though the respondent's marriage may be
considered a sham or fraudulent for the purposes of immigration, it is not void ab initio and continues to be
valid and subsisting.

Neither can their marriage be considered voidable on the ground of fraud under Article 45 (3) of
the Family Code. Only the circumstances listed under Article 46 of the same Code may constitute fraud,
namely, (1) non-disclosure of a previous conviction involving moral turpitude; (2) concealment by the wife of
a pregnancy by another man; (3) concealment of a sexually transmitted disease; and (4) concealment of
drug addiction, alcoholism, or homosexuality. No other misrepresentation or deceit shall constitute fraud as
a ground for an action to annul a marriage. Entering into a marriage for the sole purpose of evading
immigration laws does not qualify under any of the listed circumstances. Furthermore, under Article 47 (3),
the ground of fraud may only be brought by the injured or innocent party. In the present case, there is no
injured party because Albios and Fringer both conspired to enter into the sham marriage.

Albios has indeed made a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. Allowing her marriage
with Fringer to be declared void would only further trivialize this inviolable institution. The Court cannot
declare such a marriage void in the event the parties fail to qualify for immigration benefits, after they have
availed of its benefits, or simply have no further use for it. These unscrupulous individuals cannot be
allowed to use the courts as instruments in their fraudulent schemes. Albiosalready misused a judicial
institution to enter into a marriage of convenience; she should not be allowed to again abuse it to get herself
out of an inconvenient situation.
EN BANC OF PROVINCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President Alfonso
Umali, THE LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its
President Oscar Rodriguez, and THE LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES OF THE
[G.R. No. 204819. April 8, 2014.] PHILIPPINES, represented by its President Donato Marcos, respondents.

JAMES M. IMBONG and LOVELY-ANN C. IMBONG, for themselves and in


behalf of their minor children, LUCIA CARLOS IMBONG and BERNADETTE [G.R. No. 204957. April 8, 2014.]
CARLOS IMBONG and MAGNIFICAT CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER,
INC., petitioners, vs. HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary,
TASK FORCE FOR FAMILY AND LIFE VISAYAS, INC. and VALERIANO S.
HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary, Department of Budget and
AVILA, petitioners, vs. HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary;
Management, HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary, Department of Health, HON.
HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary, Department of Budget and
ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary, Department of Education, Culture and Sports
Management; HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary, Department of Education;
and HON. MANUEL A. ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of the Interior and
and HON. MANUEL A. ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of the Interior and
Local Government, respondents.
Local Government, respondents.

[G.R. No. 204934. April 8, 2014.]


[G.R. No. 204988. April 8, 2014.]

ALLIANCE FOR THE FAMILY FOUNDATION PHILIPPINES, INC. [ALFI],


SERVE LIFE CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, INC., represented by Dr. Nestor B.
represented by its President, Maria Concepcion S. Noche, Spouses Reynaldo
Lumicao, M.D., as President and in his personal capacity, ROSEVALE
S. Luistro & Rosie B. Luistro, Jose S. Sandejas & Elenita S.A. Sandejas,
FOUNDATION, INC., represented by Dr. Rodrigo M. Alenton, M.D., as member
Arturo M. Gorrez & Marietta C. Gorrez, Salvador S. Mante, Jr. & Hazeleen L.
of the school board and in his personal capacity, ROSEMARIE R. ALENTON,
Mante, Rolando M. Bautista & Maria Felisa S. Bautista, Desiderio Racho &
IMELDA G. IBARRA, CPA, LOVENIA P. NACES, Phd., ANTHONY G. NAGAC,
Traquilina Racho, Fernand Antonio A. Tansingco & Carol Anne C. Tansingco
EARL ANTHONY C. GAMBE and MARLON I. YAP, petitioners, vs.OFFICE OF
for themselves and on behalf of their minor children, Therese Antonette C.
THE PRESIDENT, SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, HOUSE OF
Tansingco, Lorenzo Jose C. Tansingco, Miguel Fernando C. Tangsingco,
REPRESENTATIVES, HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary,
Carlo Josemaria C. Tansingco & Juan Paolo C. Tansingco, Spouses
HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary, Department of Budget and
Mariano V. Araneta & Eileen Z. Araneta for themselves and on behalf of their
Management; HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary, Department of Health; HON.
minor children, Ramon Carlos Z. Araneta & Maya Angelica Z. Araneta,
ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary, Department of Education and HON. MANUEL
Spouses Renato C. Castor & Mildred C. Castor for themselves and on behalf
A. ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local
of their minor children, Renz Jeffrey C. Castor, Joseph Ramil C. Castor, John
Government,respondents.
Paul C. Castor & Raphael C. Castor, Spouses Alexander R. Racho & Zara Z.
Racho for themselves and on behalf of their minor children Margarita Racho,
Mikaela Racho, Martin Racho, Mari Racho & Manolo Racho, Spouses Alfred R.
Racho & Francine V. Racho for themselves and on behalf of their minor [G.R. No. 205003. April 8, 2014.]
children Michael Racho, Mariana Racho, Rafael Racho, Maxi Racho, Chessie
Racho & Laura Racho, Spouses David R. Racho & Armilyn A. Racho for
themselves and on behalf of their minor child Gabriel Racho, Mindy M. Juatas EXPEDITO A. BUGARIN, JR., petitioner, vs. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF
and on behalf of her minor children Elijah Gerald Juatas and Elian Gabriel THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, HON. SENATE PRESIDENT, HON.
Juatas, Salvacion M. Monteiro, Emily R. Laws, Joseph R. Laws & Katrina R. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES and HON. SOLICITOR
Laws, petitioners, vs. HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary, GENERAL, respondents.
HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary, Department of Health, HON. ARMIN A.
LUISTRO, Secretary, Department of Education, Culture and Sports, HON.
CORAZON SOLIMAN, Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and [G.R. No. 205043. April 8, 2014.]
Development, HON. MANUEL A. ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of the
Interior and Local Government, HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary,
Department of Budget and Management, HON. ARSENIO M. BALISACAN, EDUARDO B. OLAGUER and THE CATHOLIC XYBRSPACE APOSTOLATE OF
Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General, THE THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners, vs. DOH SECRETARY ENRIQUE T. ONA, FDA
PHILIPPINE COMMISSION ON WOMEN, represented by its Chairperson, DIRECTOR SUZETTE H. LAZO, DBM SECRETARY FLORENCIO B. ABAD,
Remedios Ignacio-Rikken, THE PHILIPPINE HEALTH INSURANCE DILG SECRETARY MANUEL A. ROXAS II, DECS SECRETARY ARMIN A.
CORPORATION, represented by its President Eduardo Banzon, THE LEAGUE LUISTRO,respondents.
[G.R. No. 205138. April 8, 2014.] CRISTINA A. MONTES, RAUL ANTONIO A. NIDOY, WINSTON CONRAD B.
PADOJINOG, RUFINO L. POLICARPIO III, petitioners, vs. OFFICE OF THE
PRESIDENT, SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
PHILIPPINE ALLIANCE OF XSEMINARIANS, INC. (PAX), herein represented HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary, HON. FLORENCIO B.
by its National President, Atty. Ricardo M. Ribo, and in his own behalf, Atty. ABAD, Secretary, Department of Budget and Management, HON. ENRIQUE T.
Lino E.A. Dumas, Romeo B. Almonte, Osmundo C. Orlanes, Arsenio Z. Menor, ONA, Secretary, Department of Health, HON. ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary,
Samuel J. Yap, Jaime F. Mateo, Rolly Siguan, Dante E. Magdangal, Michael Department of Education and HON. MANUEL A. ROXAS II, Secretary,
Eugenio O. Plana, Bienvenido C. Miguel, Jr., Landrito M. Diokno and Department of the Interior and Local Government, respondents.
Baldomero Falcone, petitioners, vs. HON. PAQUITO N.OCHOA, JR., Executive
Secretary, HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary, Department of Budget and
Management, HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary, Department of Health, HON.
[G.R. No. 206355. April 8, 2014.]
ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary, Department of Education, HON. MANUEL A.
ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local Government, HON.
CORAZON J. SOLIMAN, Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and MILLENNIUM SAINT FOUNDATION, INC., ATTY. RAMON PEDROSA, ATTY.
Development, HON. ARSENIO BALISACAN, Director-General, National CITA BORROMEO-GARCIA, STELLA ACEDERA, ATTY. BERTENI CATALUÑA
Economic and Development Authority, HON. SUZETTE H. LAZO, CAUSING, petitioners, vs. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, OFFICE OF THE
Director-General, Food and Drugs Administration, THE BOARD OF EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF
DIRECTORS, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and THE BOARD OF EDUCATION, respondents.
COMMISSIONERS, Philippine Commission on Women, respondents.

[G.R. No. 207111. April 8, 2014.]


[G.R. No. 205478. April 8, 2014.]

JOHN WALTER B. JUAT, MARY M. IMBONG, ANTHONY VICTORIO B.


REYNALDO J. ECHAVEZ, M.D., JACQUELINE H. KING M.D., CYNTHIA T. LUMICAO, JOSEPH MARTIN Q. VERDEJO, ANTONIA EMMA R. ROXAS and
DOMINGO, M.D., AND JOSEPHINE MILLADO-LUMITAO, M.D., collectively LOTA LAT-GUERRERO, petitioners, vs. HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
known as Doctors for Life, and ANTHONY PEREZ, MICHAEL ANTHONY G. Executive Secretary, HON. FLORENCIO ABAD, Secretary, Department of
MAPA, CARLOS ANTONIO PALAD, WILFREDO JOSE, CLAIRE NAVARRO, Budget and Management, HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary, Department of
ANNA COSIO, and GABRIEL DY LIACCO collectively known as Filipinos for Health, HON. ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary, Department of Education,
Life, petitioners, vs. HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary; HON. Culture and Sports and HON. MANUEL A. ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of
FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary of the Department of Budget and the Interior and Local Government, respondents.
Management; HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary of the Department of Health;
HON. ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary of the Department of Education; and
HON. MANUEL A. ROXAS II, Secretary of the Department of the Interior and
Local Government, respondents. [G.R. No. 207172. April 8, 2014.]

COUPLES FOR CHRIST FOUNDATION, INC., SPOUSES JUAN CARLOS


[G.R. No. 205491. April 8, 2014.] ARTADI SARMIENTO AND FRANCESCA ISABELLE BESINGA-SARMIENTO,
AND SPOUSES LUIS FRANCIS A. RODRIGO, JR. and DEBORAH MARIE
VERONICA N. RODRIGO, petitioners, vs. HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
SPOUSES FRANCISCO S. TATAD AND MARIA FENNY C. TATAD & ALA F. Executive Secretary, HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary, Department of
PAGUIA, fox themselves, their Posterity, and the rest of Filipino Budget and Management, HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary, Department of
posterity,petitioners, vs. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT of the Republic of the Health, HON. ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary, Department of Education,
Philippines, respondent. Culture and Sports and HON. MANUEL A. ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of
the Interior and Local Government, respondents.

[G.R. No. 205720. April 8, 2014.]


[G.R. No. 207563. April 8, 2014.]
PRO-LIFE PHILIPPINES FOUNDATION, Inc., represented by Lorna Melegrito,
as Executive Director, and in her personal capacity, JOSELYN B. BASILIO, ALMARIM CENTI TILLAH and ABDULHUSSEIN M.
ROBERT Z. CORTES, ARIEL A. CRISOSTOMO, JEREMY I. GATDULA, KASHIM, petitioners, vs. HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary,
HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA, Secretary of the Department of Health, and HON. (2) Petition for Prohibition, 6 filed by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc.,
ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary of the Department of Budget and through its president, Atty. Maria Concepcion S. Noche 7 and several others 8 in their personal
Management, respondents. capacities as citizens and on behalf of the generations unborn (ALFI);
(3) Petition for Certiorari, 9 filed by the Task Force for Family and Life Visayas, Inc., and
Valeriano S. Avila, in their capacities as citizens and taxpayers (Task Force Family);
DECISION (4) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, 10 filed by Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City,
Inc., 11 Rosevale Foundation, Inc., 12 a domestic, privately-owned educational institution, and
several others, 13 in their capacities as citizens (Serve Life);
(5) Petition, 14 filed by Expedito A. Bugarin, Jr. in his capacity as a citizen (Bugarin);
MENDOZA, J p:
(6) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, 15 filed by Eduardo Olaguer and the Catholic
Freedom of religion was accorded preferred status by the framers of our fundamental law. Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines, 16 in their capacities as a citizens and taxpayers (Olaguer);
And this Court has consistently affirmed this preferred status, well aware that it is "designed to protect (7) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, 17 filed by the Philippine Alliance of Xseminarians,
the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to Inc., 18 and several others 19 in their capacities as citizens and taxpayers (PAX); AHcaDC
profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and
with the common good." 1 (8) Petition, 20 filed by Reynaldo J. Echavez, M.D. and several others, 21 in their capacities
as citizens and taxpayers (Echavez);
To this day, poverty is still a major stumbling block to the nation's emergence as a
developed country, leaving our people beleaguered in a state of hunger, illiteracy and unemployment. (9) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, 22 filed by spouses Francisco and Maria Fenny C.
While governmental policies have been geared towards the revitalization of the economy, the Tatad and Atty. Alan F. Paguia, in their capacities as citizens, taxpayers and on behalf of those yet
bludgeoning dearth in social services remains to be a problem that concerns not only the poor, but unborn. Atty. Alan F. Paguia is also proceeding in his capacity as a member of the Bar (Tatad);
every member of society. The government continues to tread on a trying path to the realization of its
(10) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, 23 filed by Pro-Life Philippines Foundation,
very purpose, that is, the general welfare of the Filipino people and the development of the country as
Inc. 24 and several others, 25 in their capacities as citizens and taxpayers and on behalf of its
a whole. The legislative branch, as the main facet of a representative government, endeavors to enact
associates who are members of the Bar (Pro-Life);
laws and policies that aim to remedy looming societal woes, while the executive is closed set to fully
implement these measures and bring concrete and substantial solutions within the reach of Juan dela (11) Petition for Prohibition, 26 filed by Millennium Saint Foundation, Inc., 27 Attys. Ramon
Cruz. Seemingly distant is the judicial branch, oftentimes regarded as an inert governmental body that Pedrosa, Cita Borromeo-Garcia, Stella Acedera, and Berteni Cataluña Causing, in their capacities as
merely casts its watchful eyes on clashing stakeholders until it is called upon to adjudicate. Passive, citizens, taxpayers and members of the Bar (MSF);
yet reflexive when called into action, the Judiciary then willingly embarks on its solemn duty to interpret
legislation vis-à-vis the most vital and enduring principle that holds Philippine society together — the (12) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, 28 filed by John Walter B. Juat and several
supremacy of the Philippine Constitution. AECDHS others, 29 in their capacities as citizens (Juat);

Nothing has polarized the nation more in recent years than the issues of population growth (13) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, 30 filed by Couples for Christ Foundation, Inc.
control, abortion and contraception. As in every democratic society, diametrically opposed views on and several others, 31 in their capacities as citizens (CFC);
the subjects and their perceived consequences freely circulate in various media. From television (14) Petition for Prohibition 32 filed by Almarim Centi Tillah and Abdulhussein M. Kashim in
debates 2 to sticker campaigns, 3from rallies by socio-political activists to mass gatherings organized their capacities as citizens and taxpayers (Tillah); and
by members of the clergy 4 — the clash between the seemingly antithetical ideologies of the religious
conservatives and progressive liberals has caused a deep division in every level of the society. (15) Petition-In-Intervention, 33 filed by Atty. Samson S. Alcantara in his capacity as a
Despite calls to withhold support thereto, however, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10354, otherwise known citizen and a taxpayer (Alcantara); and
as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RH Law), was enacted by
(16) Petition-In-Intervention, 34 filed by Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (BUHAY), an
Congress on December 21, 2012.
accredited political party. acHETI
Shortly after the President placed his imprimatur on the said law, challengers from various
sectors of society came knocking on the doors of the Court, beckoning it to wield the sword that strikes A perusal of the foregoing petitions shows that the petitioners are assailing the
down constitutional disobedience. Aware of the profound and lasting impact that its decision may constitutionality of RH Law on the following
produce, the Court now faces the iuris controversy, as presented in fourteen (14) petitions and two (2) GROUNDS:
petitions-in-intervention, to wit:
• The RH Law violates the right to life of the unborn. According to the petitioners,
(1) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, 5 filed by spouses Attys. James M. Imbong and notwithstanding its declared policy against abortion, the implementation
Lovely Ann C. Imbong, in their personal capacities as citizens, lawyers and taxpayers and on behalf of of the RH Law would authorize the purchase of hormonal contraceptives,
their minor children; and the Magnificat Child Learning Center, Inc., a domestic, privately-owned intra-uterine devices and injectables which are abortives, in violation of
educational institution (Imbong);
Section 12, Article II of the Constitution which guarantees protection of • The RH Law violates the right to equal protection of the law. It is claimed that
both the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. 35 the RH Law discriminates against the poor as it makes them the primary
target of the government program that promotes contraceptive use. The
• The RH Law violates the right to health and the right to protection against petitioners argue that, rather than promoting reproductive health among
hazardous products. The petitioners posit that the RH Law provides the poor, the RH Law seeks to introduce contraceptives that would
universal access to contraceptives which are hazardous to one's health, effectively reduce the number of the poor. 45
as it causes cancer and other health problems. 36
• The RH Law is "void-for-vagueness" in violation of the due process clause of
• The RH Law violates the right to religious freedom. The petitioners contend the Constitution. In imposing the penalty of imprisonment and/or fine for
that the RH Law violates the constitutional guarantee respecting religion "any violation," it is vague because it does not define the type of conduct
as it authorizes the use of public funds for the procurement of to be treated as "violation" of the RH Law. 46
contraceptives. For the petitioners, the use of public funds for purposes
that are believed to be contrary to their beliefs is included in the In this connection, it is claimed that "Section 7 of the RH Law violates the right to
constitutional mandate ensuring religious freedom. 37 CHATEa due process by removing from them (the people) the right to manage their
own affairs and to decide what kind of health facility they shall be and
It is also contended that the RH Law threatens conscientious objectors of criminal what kind of services they shall offer." 47 It ignores the management
prosecution, imprisonment and other forms of punishment, as it prerogative inherent in corporations for employers to conduct their affairs
compels medical practitioners 1] to refer patients who seek advice on in accordance with their own discretion and judgment.
reproductive health programs to other doctors; and 2] to provide full and
correct information on reproductive health programs and service, • The RH Law violates the right to free speech. To compel a person to explain a
although it is against their religious beliefs and convictions. 38 full range of family planning methods is plainly to curtail his right to
expound only his own preferred way of family planning. The petitioners
In this connection, Section 5.23 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the note that although exemption is granted to institutions owned and
RH Law (RH-IRR), 39 provides that skilled health professionals who operated by religious groups, they are still forced to refer their patients to
are public officers such as, but not limited to, Provincial, City, or another healthcare facility willing to perform the service or procedure. 48
Municipal Health Officers, medical officers, medical specialists, rural
health physicians, hospital staff nurses, public health nurses, or rural • The RH Law intrudes into the zone of privacy of one's family protected by the
health midwives, who are specifically charged with the duty to implement Constitution. It is contended that the RH Law providing for mandatory
these Rules,cannot be considered as conscientious objectors. 40 reproductive health education intrudes upon their constitutional right to
raise their children in accordance with their beliefs. 49 cCSDTI
It is also argued that the RH Law providing for the formulation of mandatory sex
education in schools should not be allowed as it is an affront to their It is claimed that, by giving absolute authority to the person who will undergo
religious beliefs. 41 reproductive health procedure, the RH Law forsakes any real dialogue
between the spouses and impedes the right of spouses to mutually
While the petitioners recognize that the guarantee of religious freedom is not decide on matters pertaining to the overall well-being of their family. In the
absolute, they argue that the RH Law fails to satisfy the "clear and same breath, it is also claimed that the parents of a child who has suffered
present danger test" and the "compelling state interest test" to justify a miscarriage are deprived of parental authority to determine whether
the regulation of the right to free exercise of religion and the right to free their child should use contraceptives. 50
speech. 42
• The RH Law violates the constitutional principle of non-delegation of Legislative
• The RH Law violates the constitutional provision on involuntary servitude. authority. The petitioners question the delegation by Congress to the FDA
According to the petitioners, the RH Law subjects medical practitionersto of the power to determine whether a product is non-abortifacient and to be
involuntary servitude because, to be accredited under the PhilHealth included in the Emergency Drugs List (EDL). 51
program, they are compelled to provide forty-eight (48) hours of pro
bonoservices for indigent women, under threat of criminal prosecution, • The RH Law violates the one subject/one bill rule provision under Section 26
imprisonment and other forms of punishment. 43 (1), Article VI of the Constitution. 52

The petitioners explain that since a majority of patients are covered by PhilHealth, • The RH Law violates Natural Law. 53
a medical practitioner would effectively be forced to render reproductive
health services since the lack of PhilHealth accreditation would mean that • The RH Law violates the principle of Autonomy of Local Government
the majority of the public would no longer be able to avail of the Units (LGUs) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim
practitioners' services. 44 ESIcaC Mindanao (ARMM). It is contended that the RH Law, providing for
reproductive health measures at the local government level and the
ARMM, infringes upon the powers devolved to LGUs and the ARMM ligation to mitigate population growth. 67Among these measures included R.A. No. 6365, approved
under the Local Government Code and R.A. No. 9054. 54 HcDATC on August 16, 1971, entitled "An Act Establishing a National Policy on Population, Creating the
Commission on Population and for Other Purposes." The law envisioned that "family planning will be
Various parties also sought and were granted Leave to file their respective made part of a broad educational program; safe and effective means will be provided to couples
comments-in-intervention in defense of the constitutionality of the RH Law. Aside from the Office of the desiring to space or limit family size; mortality and morbidity rates will be further reduced."
Solicitor General (OSG) which commented on the petitions in behalf of the
respondents, 55 Congressman Edcel C. Lagman, 56 former officials of the Department of Health Dr. To further strengthen R.A. No. 6365, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos
Esperanza I. Cabral, Jamie Galvez-Tan, and Dr. Alberta G. Romualdez, 57 the Filipino Catholic issued Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 79, 68 dated December 8, 1972, which, among others, made
Voices for Reproductive Health (C4RH), 58Ana Theresa "Risa" Hontiveros, 59 and Atty. Joan de "family planning a part of a broad educational program," provided "family planning services as a part of
Venecia 60 also filed their respective Comments-in-Intervention in conjunction with several others. On over-all health care," and made "available all acceptable methods of contraception, except abortion, to
June 4, 2013, Senator Pia Juliana S. Cayetano was also granted leave to intervene. 61 all Filipino citizens desirous of spacing, limiting or preventing pregnancies."

The respondents, aside from traversing the substantive arguments of the petitioners, pray Through the years, however, the use of contraceptives and family planning methods
for the dismissal of the petitions for the principal reasons that 1]there is no actual case or controversy evolved from being a component of demographic management, to one centered on the promotion of
and, therefore, the issues are not yet ripe for judicial determination.; 2] same petitioners lack standing public health, particularly, reproductive health. 69 Under that policy, the country gave priority to one's
to question the RH Law; and 3] the petitions are essentially petitions for declaratory relief over which right to freely choose the method of family planning to be adopted, in conformity with its adherence to
the Court has no original jurisdiction. the commitments made in the International Conference on Population and Development. 70Thus, on
August 14, 2009, the country enacted R.A. No. 9710 or "The Magna Carta for Women," which, among
Meanwhile, on March 15, 2013, the RH-IRR for the enforcement of the assailed legislation others, mandated the State to provide for comprehensive health services and programs for women,
took effect. including family planning and sex education. 71
On March 19, 2013, after considering the issues and arguments raised, the Court issued The RH Law
the Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO), enjoining the effects and implementation of the assailed
legislation for a period of one hundred and twenty (120) days, or until July 17, 2013. 62 Despite the foregoing legislative measures, the population of the country kept on galloping
at an uncontrollable pace. From a paltry number of just over 27 million Filipinos in 1960, the population
On May 30, 2013, the Court held a preliminary conference with the counsels of the parties to of the country reached over 76 million in the year 2000 and over 92 million in 2010. 72 The executive
determine and/or identify the pertinent issues raised by the parties and the sequence by which these and the legislative, thus, felt that the measures were still not adequate. To rein in the problem, the RH
issues were to be discussed in the oral arguments. On July 9 and 23, 2013, and on August 6, 13, and Law was enacted to provide Filipinos, especially the poor and the marginalized, access and
27, 2013, the cases were heard on oral argument. On July 16, 2013, the SQAO was ordered extended information to the full range of modern family planning methods, and to ensure that its objective to
until further orders of the Court. 63 IaESCH provide for the peoples' right to reproductive health be achieved. To make it more effective, the RH
Thereafter, the Court directed the parties to submit their respective memoranda within sixty Law made it mandatory for health providers to provide information on the full range of modern family
(60) days and, at the same time posed several questions for their clarification on some contentions of planning methods, supplies and services, and for schools to provide reproductive health education. To
the parties. 64 put teeth to it, the RH Law criminalizes certain acts of refusals to carry out its mandates. ScCIaA

The Status Quo Ante Stated differently, the RH Law is an enhancement measure to fortify and make effective the
(Population, Contraceptive and Reproductive Health Laws current laws on contraception, women's health and population control.
Prior to the RH Law) Prayer of the Petitioners — Maintain the Status Quo
Long before the incipience of the RH Law, the country has allowed the sale, dispensation The petitioners are one in praying that the entire RH Law be declared unconstitutional.
and distribution of contraceptive drugs and devices. As far back as June 18, 1966, the country Petitioner ALFI, in particular, argues that the government sponsored contraception program, the very
enacted R.A. No. 4729 entitled "An Act to Regulate the Sale, Dispensation, and/or Distribution of essence of the RH Law, violates the right to health of women and the sanctity of life, which the State is
Contraceptive Drugs and Devices."Although contraceptive drugs and devices were allowed, they mandated to protect and promote. Thus, ALFI prays that "the status quo ante — the situation prior to
could not be sold, dispensed or distributed "unless such sale, dispensation and distribution is by a duly the passage of the RH Law — must be maintained." 73 It explains:
licensed drug store or pharmaceutical company and with the prescription of a qualified medical
practitioner." 65 aTEHIC . . . . The instant Petition does not question contraception and
contraceptives per se. As provided under Republic Act No. 5921 and Republic Act
In addition, R.A. No. 5921, 66 approved on June 21, 1969, contained provisions relative to No. 4729, the sale and distribution of contraceptives are prohibited unless
"dispensing of abortifacients or anti-conceptional substances and devices." Under Section 37 thereof, dispensed by a prescription duly licensed by a physician. What the Petitioners find
it was provided that "no drug or chemical product or device capable of provoking abortion or deplorable and repugnant under the RH Law is the role that the State and its
preventing conception as classified by the Food and Drug Administration shall be delivered or sold to agencies — the entire bureaucracy, from the cabinet secretaries down to the
any person without a proper prescription by a duly licensed physician." barangay officials in the remotest areas of the country — is made to play in the
On December 11, 1967, the Philippines, adhering to the UN Declaration on Population, implementation of the contraception program to the fullest extent possible using
which recognized that the population problem should be considered as the principal element for taxpayers' money. The State then will be the funder and provider of all forms of
long-term economic development, enacted measures that promoted male vasectomy and tubal family planning methods and the implementer of the program by ensuring the
widespread dissemination of, and universal access to, a full range of family planning social legislation like the RH Law by certiorari is "weak," since the Constitution vests the discretion to
methods, devices and supplies. 74 implement the constitutional policies and positive norms with the political departments, in particular,
with Congress. 77 It further asserts that in view of the Court's ruling in Southern Hemisphere v.
ISSUES Anti-Terrorism Council, 78 the remedies of certiorari and prohibition utilized by the petitioners are
After a scrutiny of the various arguments and contentions of the parties, the Court has improper to assail the validity of the acts of the legislature. 79
synthesized and refined them to the following principal issues: IHCSTE Moreover, the OSG submits that as an "as applied challenge," it cannot prosper considering
I. PROCEDURAL: Whether the Court may exercise its power of judicial review that the assailed law has yet to be enforced and applied to the petitioners, and that the government
over the controversy. has yet to distribute reproductive health devices that are abortive. It claims that the RH Law cannot be
challenged "on its face" as it is not a speech-regulating measure. 80 TADCSE
1] Power of Judicial Review
In many cases involving the determination of the constitutionality of the actions of the
2] Actual Case or Controversy Executive and the Legislature, it is often sought that the Court temper its exercise of judicial power and
accord due respect to the wisdom of its co-equal branch on the basis of the principle of separation of
3] Facial Challenge powers. To be clear, the separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government,
which obtains not through express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each
4] Locus Standi department of the government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction and is
supreme within its own sphere. 81 Thus, the 1987 Constitution provides that: (a) the legislative power
5] Declaratory Relief
shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines; 82 (b) the executive power shall be vested in the
6] One Subject/One Title Rule President of the Philippines;83 and (c) the judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in
such lower courts as may be established by law. 84 The Constitution has truly blocked out with deft
II. SUBSTANTIVE: Whether the RH law is unconstitutional: strokes and in bold lines, the allotment of powers among the three branches of government. 85

1] Right to Life In its relationship with its co-equals, the Judiciary recognizes the doctrine of separation of
powers which imposes upon the courts proper restraint, born of the nature of their functions and of
2] Right to Health their respect for the other branches of government, in striking down the acts of the Executive or the
Legislature as unconstitutional. Verily, the policy is a harmonious blend of courtesy and
3] Freedom of Religion and the Right to Free Speech caution. 86 CITaSA
4] The Family It has also long been observed, however, that in times of social disquietude or political
instability, the great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if not entirely
5] Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom obliterated. 87 In order to address this, the Constitution impresses upon the Court to respect the acts
6] Due Process performed by a co-equal branch done within its sphere of competence and authority, but at the same
time, allows it to cross the line of separation — but only at a very limited and specific point — to
7] Equal Protection determine whether the acts of the executive and the legislative branches are null because they were
undertaken with grave abuse of discretion. 88 Thus, while the Court may not pass upon questions of
8] Involuntary Servitude wisdom, justice or expediency of the RH Law, it may do so where an attendant unconstitutionality or
grave abuse of discretion results. 89 The Court must demonstrate its unflinching commitment to
9] Delegation of Authority to the FDA protect those cherished rights and principles embodied in the Constitution.
10] Autonomy of Local Governments/ARMM SETaHC In this connection, it bears adding that while the scope of judicial power of review may be
limited, the Constitution makes no distinction as to the kind of legislation that may be subject to judicial
DISCUSSION
scrutiny, be it in the form of social legislation or otherwise. The reason is simple and goes back to the
Before delving into the constitutionality of the RH Law and its implementing rules, it earlier point. The Court may pass upon the constitutionality of acts of the legislative and the executive
behooves the Court to resolve some procedural impediments. branches, since its duty is not to review their collective wisdom but, rather, to make sure that they have
acted in consonance with their respective authorities and rights as mandated of them by the
I. PROCEDURAL ISSUE: Whether the Court can exercise its power of judicial review over the Constitution. If after said review, the Court finds no constitutional violations of any sort, then, it has no
controversy. more authority of proscribing the actions under review. 90 This is in line with Article VIII, Section 1 of
The Power of Judicial Review the Constitution which expressly provides:

In its attempt to persuade the Court to stay its judicial hand, the OSG asserts that it should Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and
submit to the legislative and political wisdom of Congress and respect the compromises made in the in such lower courts as may be established by law.
crafting of the RH Law, it being "a product of a majoritarian democratic process" 75 and "characterized
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
by an inordinate amount of transparency." 76 The OSG posits that the authority of the Court to review
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable,
andto determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of Corollary to the requirement of an actual case or controversy is the requirement of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any ripeness. 101 A question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a direct
branch or instrumentality of the Government. [Emphases supplied] AEDCHc adverse effect an the individual challenging it. For a case to be considered ripe for adjudication, it is a
prerequisite that something has then been accomplished or performed by either branch before a court
As far back as Tañada v. Angara, 91 the Court has unequivocally declared that certiorari, may come into the picture, and the petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or threatened
prohibition and mandamus are appropriate remedies to raise constitutional issues and to review injury to himself as a result of the challenged action. He must show that he has sustained or is
and/or prohibit/nullify, when proper, acts of legislative and executive officials, as there is no other plain, immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of the act complained of. 102
speedy or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. This ruling was later on applied
in Macalintal v. COMELEC, 92 Aldaba v. COMELEC, 93 Magallona v. Ermita, 94 and countless In The Province of North Cotabato v. The Government of the Republic of the
others. In Tañada, the Court wrote: Philippines, 103 where the constitutionality of an unimplemented Memorandum of Agreement on the
Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was put in question, it was argued that the Court has no authority to pass
In seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it upon the issues raised as there was yet no concrete act performed that could possibly violate the
contravenes the Constitution, the petition no doubt raises a justiciable petitioners' and the intervenors' rights. Citing precedents, the Court ruled that the fact of the law or act
controversy.Where an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to in question being not yet effective does not negate ripeness. Concrete acts under a law are not
have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the necessary to render the controversy ripe. Even a singular violation of the Constitution and/or the law is
duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. "The question thus posed is judicial enough to awaken judicial duty.
rather than political. The duty (to adjudicate) remains to assure that the supremacy
of the Constitution is upheld." Once a "controversy as to the application or In this case, the Court is of the view that an actual case or controversy exists and that
interpretation of constitutional provision is raised before this Court (as in the instant the same is ripe for judicial determination. Considering that the RH Law and its implementing rules
case), it becomes a legal issue which the Court is bound by constitutional mandate have already taken effect and that budgetary measures to carry out the law have already been passed,
to decide. [Emphasis supplied] it is evident that the subject petitions present a justiciable controversy. As stated earlier, when an
action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it not only
In the scholarly estimation of former Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano, "judicial becomes a right, but also a duty of the Judiciary to settle the dispute. 104
review is essential for the maintenance and enforcement of the separation of powers and the
balancing of powers among the three great departments of government through the definition Moreover, the petitioners have shown that the case is so because medical practitioners or
and maintenance of the boundaries of authority and control between them. To him, judicial review is medical providers are in danger of being criminally prosecuted under the RH Law for vague violations
the chief, indeed the only, medium of participation — or instrument of intervention — of the judiciary in thereof, particularly public health officers who are threatened to be dismissed from the service
that balancing operation." 95 with forfeiture of retirement and other benefits. They must, at least, be heard on the
matter NOW. STaAcC
Lest it be misunderstood, it bears emphasizing that the Court does not have the unbridled
authority to rule on just any and every claim of constitutional violation. Jurisprudence is replete with the Facial Challenge
rule that the power of judicial review is limited by four exacting requisites, viz.: (a) there must be an The OSG also assails the propriety of the facial challenge lodged by the subject petitions,
actual case or controversy; (b) the petitioners must possess locus standi; (c) the question of contending that the RH Law cannot be challenged "on its face" as it is not a speech regulating
constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (d) the issue of constitutionality must be measure. 105
the lis mota of the case. 96 IcDHaT
The Court is not persuaded.
Actual Case or Controversy
In United States (US) constitutional law, a facial challenge, also known as a First
Proponents of the RH Law submit that the subject petitions do not present any actual case Amendment Challenge, is one that is launched to assail the validity of statutes concerning not
or controversy because the RH Law has yet to be implemented. 97They claim that the questions only protected speech, but also all other rights in the First Amendment. 106 These include religious
raised by the petitions are not yet concrete and ripe for adjudication since no one has been charged freedom, freedom of the press, and the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and
with violating any of its provisions and that there is no showing that any of the petitioners' rights has to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 107 After all, the fundamental right to
been adversely affected by its operation. 98 In short, it is contended that judicial review of the RH Law religious freedom, freedom of the press and peaceful assembly are but component rights of the right to
is premature. one's freedom of expression, as they are modes which one's thoughts are externalized.
An actual case or controversy means an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or In this jurisdiction, the application of doctrines originating from the U.S. has been generally
ripe for determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, lest the decision of the court would amount to an maintained, albeit with some modifications. While this Court has withheld the application of facial
advisory opinion. 99 The rule is that courts do not sit to adjudicate mere academic questions to satisfy challenges to strictly penal statutes, 108 it has expanded its scope to cover statutes not only
scholarly interest, however intellectually challenging. The controversy must be justiciable — definite regulating free speech, but also those involving religious freedom, and other fundamental
and concrete, touching on the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests. In other words, rights. 109 The underlying reason for this modification is simple. For unlike its counterpart in the U.S.,
the pleadings must show an active antagonistic assertion of a legal right, on the one hand, and a this Court, under its expanded jurisdiction, is mandated by the Fundamental Law not only to settle
denial thereof, on the other; that is, it must concern a real, tangible and not merely a theoretical actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, but also to
question or issue. There ought to be an actual and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
through a decree conclusive in nature, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
be upon a hypothetical state of facts. 100
Government. 110 Verily, the framers of Our Constitution envisioned a proactive Judiciary, ever Granting arguendo that the present action cannot be properly treated as a
vigilant with its duty to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution. DICcTa petition for prohibition, the transcendental importance of the issues involved in
this case warrants that we set aside the technical defects and take primary
Consequently, considering that the foregoing petitions have seriously alleged that the jurisdiction over the petition at bar. One cannot deny that the issues raised
constitutional human rights to life, speech and religion and other fundamental rights mentioned above herein have potentially pervasive influence on the social and moral well being of this
have been violated by the assailed legislation, the Court has authority to take cognizance of these nation, specially the youth; hence, their proper and just determination is an
kindred petitions and to determine if the RH Law can indeed pass constitutional scrutiny. To dismiss imperative need. This is in accordance with the well-entrenched principle that
these petitions on the simple expedient that there exist no actual case or controversy, would diminish rules of procedure are not inflexible tools designed to binder or delay, but to
this Court as a reactive branch of government, acting only when the Fundamental Law has been facilitate and promote the administration of justice. Their strict and rigid
transgressed, to the detriment of the Filipino people. application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate, rather
Locus Standi than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. (Emphasis
supplied)
The OSG also attacks the legal personality of the petitioners to file their respective petitions.
It contends that the "as applied challenge" lodged by the petitioners cannot prosper as the assailed In view of the seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents, not only to the public, but also
law has yet to be enforced and applied against them, 111 and the government has yet to distribute to the bench and bar, the issues raised must be resolved for the guidance of all. After all, the RH Law
reproductive health devices that are abortive. 112 drastically affects the constitutional provisions on the right to life and health, the freedom of
religion and expression and other constitutional rights. Mindful of all these and the fact that the issues
The petitioners, for their part, invariably invoke the "transcendental importance" doctrine of contraception and reproductive health have already caused deep division among a broad spectrum
and their status as citizens and taxpayers in establishing the requisitelocus standi. of society, the Court entertains no doubt that the petitions raise issues of transcendental
Locus standi or legal standing is defined as a personal and substantial interest in a case importance warranting immediate court adjudication. More importantly, considering that it is the right
such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the challenged governmental to life of the mother and the unborn which is primarily at issue, the Court need not wait for a life to be
act. 113 It requires a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure the concrete taken away before taking action. aSTAIH
adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for The Court cannot, and should not, exercise judicial restraint at this time when rights
illumination of difficult constitutional questions. 114 enshrined in the Constitution are being imperilled to be violated. To do so, when the life of either the
In relation to locus standi, the "as applied challenge" embodies the rule that one can mother or her child is at stake, would lead to irreparable consequences.
challenge the constitutionality of a statute only if he asserts a violation of his own rights. The rule Declaratory Relief
prohibits one from challenging the constitutionality of the statute grounded on a violation of the rights
of third persons not before the court. This rule is also known as the prohibition against third-party The respondents also assail the petitions because they are essentially petitions for
standing. 115 STaIHc declaratory relief over which the Court has no original jurisdiction. 120 Suffice it to state that most of
the petitions are praying for injunctive reliefs and so the Court would just consider them as petitions for
Transcendental Importance prohibition under Rule 65, over which it has original jurisdiction. Where the case has far-reaching
Notwithstanding, the Court leans on the doctrine that "the rule on standing is a matter of implications and prays for injunctive reliefs, the Court may consider them as petitions for prohibition
procedure, hence, can be relaxed for non-traditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and under Rule 65. 121
legislators when the public interest so requires, such as when the matter is of transcendental One Subject-One Title
importance, of overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest." 116
The petitioners also question the constitutionality of the RH Law, claiming that it violates
In Coconut Oil Refiners Association, Inc. v. Torres, 117 the Court held that in cases Section 26 (1), Article VI of the Constitution, 122 prescribing the one subject-one title rule. According
of paramount importance where serious constitutional questions are involved, the standing to them, being one for reproductive health with responsible parenthood, the assailed legislation
requirement may be relaxed and a suit may be allowed to prosper even where there is no direct injury violates the constitutional standards of due process by concealing its true intent — to act as a
to the party claiming the right of judicial review. In the first Emergency Powers Cases, 118 ordinary population control measure. 123
citizens and taxpayers were allowed to question the constitutionality of several executive orders
although they had only an indirect and general interest shared in common with the public. To belittle the challenge, the respondents insist that the RH Law is not a birth or population
control measure, 124 and that the concepts of "responsible parenthood" and "reproductive health" are
With these said, even if the constitutionality of the RH Law may not be assailed through an both interrelated as they are inseparable. 125 THCSAE
"as-applied challenge, still, the Court has time and again acted liberally on the locus
standi requirement. It has accorded certain individuals standing to sue, not otherwise directly injured Despite efforts to push the RH Law as a reproductive health law, the Court sees it as
or with material interest affected by a Government act, provided a constitutional issue principally a population control measure. The corpus of the RH Law is geared towards the reduction of
of transcendental importance is invoked. The rule on locus standi is, after all, a procedural the country's population. While it claims to save lives and keep our women and children healthy, it also
technicality which the Court has, on more than one occasion, waived or relaxed, thus allowing promotes pregnancy-preventing products. As stated earlier, the RH Law emphasizes the need to
non-traditional plaintiffs, such as concerned citizens, taxpayers, voters or legislators, to sue in the provide Filipinos, especially the poor and the marginalized, with access to information on the full range
public interest, albeit they may not have been directly injured by the operation of a law or any other of modern family planning products and methods. These family planning methods, natural or modern,
government act. As held in Jaworski v. PAGCOR: 119 ACIDTE
however, are clearly geared towards the prevention of pregnancy. For said reason, the manifest The petitioners assail the RH Law because it violates the right to life and health of the
underlying objective of the RH Law is to reduce the number of births in the country. unborn child under Section 12, Article II of the Constitution. The assailed legislation allowing access to
abortifacients/abortives effectively sanctions abortion. 130 HcDSaT
It cannot be denied that the measure also seeks to provide pre-natal and post-natal care as
well. A large portion of the law, however, covers the dissemination of information and provisions on According to the petitioners, despite its express terms prohibiting abortion, Section 4 (a) of
access to medically-safe, non-abortifacient, effective, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health the RH Law considers contraceptives that prevent the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the
care services, methods, devices, and supplies, which are all intended to prevent pregnancy. mother's womb as an abortifacient; thus, sanctioning contraceptives that take effect after fertilization
and prior to implantation, contrary to the intent of the Framers of the Constitution to afford protection to
The Court, thus, agrees with the petitioners' contention that the whole idea of contraception the fertilized ovum which already has life.
pervades the entire RH Law. It is, in fact, the central idea of the RH Law. 126 Indeed, remove the
provisions that refer to contraception or are related to it and the RH Law loses its very They argue that even if Section 9 of the RH Law allows only "non-abortifacient" hormonal
foundation. 127 As earlier explained, "the other positive provisions such as skilled birth attendance, contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective
maternal care including pre-and post-natal services, prevention and management of reproductive tract family planning products and supplies, medical research shows that contraceptives use results in
infections including HIV/AIDS are already provided for in the Magna Carta for Women." 128 TcDHSI abortion as they operate to kill the fertilized ovum which already has life. 131 As it opposes the
initiation of life, which is a fundamental human good, the petitioners assert that the State sanction of
Be that as it may, the RH Law does not violate the one subject/one bill rule. In Benjamin E. contraceptive use contravenes natural law and is an affront to the dignity of man. 132
Cawaling, Jr. v. The Commission on Elections and Rep. Francis Joseph G. Escudero, it was written:
Finally, it is contended that since Section 9 of the RH Law requires the Food and Drug
It is well-settled that the "one title-one subject" rule does not require the Administration (FDA) to certify that the product or supply is not to be used as an abortifacient, the
Congress to employ in the title of the enactment language of such precision as to assailed legislation effectively confirms that abortifacients are not prohibited. Also considering that the
mirror, fully index or catalogue all the contents and the minute details therein. The FDA is not the agency that will actually supervise or administer the use of these products and supplies
rule is sufficiently complied with if the title is comprehensive enough as to
to prospective patients, there is no way it can truthfully make a certification that it shall not be used for
include the general object which the statute seeks to effect, and where, as here, abortifacient purposes. 133
the persons interested are informed of the nature, scope and consequences of the
proposed law and its operation. Moreover, this Court has invariably adopted a Position of the Respondents
liberal rather than technical construction of the rule "so as not to cripple or
impede legislation." [Emphases supplied] For their part, the defenders of the RH Law point out that the intent of the Framers of the
Constitution was simply the prohibition of abortion. They contend that the RH Law does not violate the
In this case, a textual analysis of the various provisions of the law shows that both Constitution since the said law emphasizes that only "non-abortifacient" reproductive health care
"reproductive health" and "responsible parenthood" are interrelated and germane to the overriding services, methods, devices products and supplies shall be made accessible to the public. 134
objective to control the population growth. As expressed in the first paragraph of Section 2 of the
According to the OSG, Congress has made a legislative determination that contraceptives
RH Law:
are not abortifacients by enacting the RH Law. As the RH Law was enacted with due consideration to
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. — The State recognizes and guarantees various studies and consultations with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other experts in the
the human rights of all persons including their right to equality and nondiscrimination medical field, it is asserted that the Court afford deference and respect to such a determination and
of these rights, the right to sustainable human development, the right to health which pass judgment only when a particular drug or device is later on determined as an abortive.135
includes reproductive health, the right to education and information, and the right to
For his part, respondent Lagman argues that the constitutional protection of one's right to
choose and make decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious
life is not violated considering that various studies of the WHO show that life begins from the
convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible
implantation of the fertilized ovum. Consequently, he argues that the RH Law is constitutional since
parenthood.cEDaTS
the law specifically provides that only contraceptives that do not prevent the implantation of the
The one subject/one title rule expresses the principle that the title of a law must not be "so fertilized ovum are allowed. 136
uncertain that the average person reading it would not be informed of the purpose of the enactment or The Court's Position
put on inquiry as to its contents, or which is misleading, either in referring to or indicating one subject
where another or different one is really embraced in the act, or in omitting any expression or indication It is a universally accepted principle that every human being enjoys the right to
of the real subject or scope of the act." 129 Considering the close intimacy between "reproductive life. 137 Even if not formally established, the right to life, being grounded on natural law, is inherent
health" and "responsible parenthood" which bears to the attainment of the goal of achieving and, therefore, not a creation of, or dependent upon a particular law, custom, or belief. It precedes and
"sustainable human development" as stated under its terms, the Court finds no reason to believe that transcends any authority or the laws of men.
Congress intentionally sought to deceive the public as to the contents of the assailed legislation.
In this jurisdiction, the right to life is given more than ample protection. Section 1, Article III of
II. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES: the Constitution provides:
1-The Right to Life Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without
due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the
Position of the Petitioners
laws. cDHAaT
As expounded earlier, the use of contraceptives and family planning methods in the One of the primary and basic rules in statutory construction is that where
Philippines is not of recent vintage. From the enactment of R.A. No. 4729, entitled "An Act to Regulate the words of a statute are clear, plain, and free from ambiguity, it must be given its
the Sale, Dispensation, and/or Distribution of Contraceptive Drugs and Devices" on June 18, 1966, literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation. It is a well-settled
prescribing rules on contraceptive drugs and devices which prevent fertilization, 138 to the promotion principle of constitutional construction that the language employed in the
of male vasectomy and tubal ligation, 139 and the ratification of numerous international agreements, Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are
the country has long recognized the need to promote population control through the use of employed. As much as possible, the words of the Constitution should be understood
contraceptives in order to achieve long-term economic development. Through the years, however, the in the sense they have in common use. What it says according to the text of the
use of contraceptives and other family planning methods evolved from being a component of provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the power of the courts
demographic management, to one centered on the promotion of public health, particularly, to alter it, based on the postulate that the framers and the people mean what they
reproductive health. 140 say. Verba legis non est recedendum — from the words of a statute there should be
no departure.
This has resulted in the enactment of various measures promoting women's rights and
health and the overall promotion of the family's well-being. Thus, aside from R.A. No. 4729, R.A. No. The raison d' être for the rule is essentially two-fold: First, because it is
6365 or "The Population Act of the Philippines" and R.A. No. 9710, otherwise known as the "The assumed that the words in which constitutional provisions are couched express the
Magna Carta of Women" were legislated. Notwithstanding this paradigm shift, the Philippine national objective sought to be attained; and second, because the Constitution is not
population program has always been grounded two cornerstone principles: "principle of primarily a lawyer's document but essentially that of the people, in whose
no-abortion" and the "principle of non-coercion." 141 As will be discussed later, these principles consciousness it should ever be present as an important condition for the rule of law
are not merely grounded on administrative policy, but rather, originates from the constitutional to prevail. TCEaDI
protection expressly provided to afford protection to life and guarantee religious freedom.
In conformity with the above principle, the traditional meaning of the word "conception"
When Life Begins * which, as described and defined by all reliable and reputable sources, means that life begins at
Majority of the Members of the Court are of the position that the question of when life begins fertilization.
is a scientific and medical issue that should not be decided, at this stage, without proper hearing and Webster's Third New International Dictionary describes it as the act of becoming pregnant,
evidence. During the deliberation, however, it was agreed upon that the individual members of the formation of a viable zygote; the fertilization that results in a new entity capable of developing into a
Court could express their own views on this matter. CASIEa being like its parents. 145
In this regard, the ponente, is of the strong view that life begins at fertilization. Black's Law Dictionary gives legal meaning to the term "conception" as the fecundation of
In answering the question of when life begins, focus should be made on the particular the female ovum by the male spermatozoon resulting in human lifecapable of survival and maturation
phrase of Section 12 which reads: under normal conditions. 146

Section 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall Even in jurisprudence, an unborn child has already a legal personality. In Continental Steel
protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall Manufacturing Corporation v. Hon. Accredited Voluntary Arbitrator Allan S. Montaño, 147 it was
equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the written:
unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the Life is not synonymous with civil personality. One need not acquire civil
rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall personality first before he/she could die. Even a child inside the womb already
receive the support of the Government. has life. No less than the Constitution recognizes the life of the unborn from
conception, that the State must protect equally with the life of the mother. If the
Textually, the Constitution affords protection to the unborn from conception. This is
unborn already has life, then the cessation thereof even prior to the child being
undisputable because before conception, there is no unborn to speak of. For said reason, it is no
delivered, qualifies as death. [Emphases in the original]
surprise that the Constitution is mute as to any proscription prior to conception or when life begins. The
problem has arisen because, amazingly, there are quarters who have conveniently disregarded the In Gonzales v. Carhart, 148 Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the US Supreme Court,
scientific fact that conception is reckoned from fertilization. They are waving the view that life begins at said that the State "has respect for human life at all stages in the pregnancy" and "a legitimate and
implantation. Hence, the issue of when life begins. substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life." Invariably, in the decision, the fetus was
In a nutshell, those opposing the RH Law contend that conception is synonymous with referred to, or cited, as a babyor a child. 149
"fertilization" of the female ovum by the male sperm. 142 On the other side of the spectrum are those Intent of the Framers
who assert that conception refers to the "implantation" of the fertilized ovum in the uterus. 143
Records of the Constitutional Convention also shed light on the intention of the Framers
Plain and Legal Meaning regarding the term "conception" used in Section 12, Article II of the Constitution. From their
It is a canon in statutory construction that the words of the Constitution should be interpreted deliberations, it clearly refers to the moment of "fertilization." The records reflect the following:
in their plain and ordinary meaning. As held in the recent case ofChavez v. Judicial Rev. Rigos: In Section 9, page 3, there is a sentence which reads:
and Bar Council: 144
"The State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the Upon further inquiry, it was asked:
life of the unborn from the moment of conception."
Mr. Gascon: Mr. Presiding Officer, I would like to ask a question on that
When is the moment of conception? point. Actually, that is one of the questions I was going to raise during the period of
interpellations but it has been expressed already. The provision, as proposed right
xxx xxx xxx now states:

Mr. Villegas: As I explained in the sponsorship speech, it is when the The State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life
ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life. . . . . 150 of the unborn from the moment of conception.

xxx xxx xxx When it speaks of "from the moment of conception," does this mean
when the egg meets the sperm?
As to why conception is reckoned from fertilization and, as such, the beginning of human life,
it was explained: aTHCSE Mr. Villegas: Yes, the ovum is fertilized by the sperm.
Mr. Villegas: I propose to review this issue in a biological manner. The Mr. Gascon: Therefore that does not leave to Congress the right to
first question that needs to be answered is: Is the fertilized ovum alive? Biologically determine whether certain contraceptives that we know today are abortifacient or
categorically says yes, the fertilized ovum is alive. First of all, like all living organisms, not because it is a fact that some of the so-called contraceptives deter the rooting of
it takes in nutrients which it processes by itself. It begins doing this upon fertilization. the ovum in the uterus. If fertilization has already occurred, the next process is for
Secondly, as it takes in these nutrients, it grows from within. Thirdly, it multiplies the fertilized ovum to travel towards the uterus and to take root. What happens with
itself at a geometric rate in the continuous process of cell division. All these some contraceptives is that they stop the opportunity for the fertilized ovum
processes are vital signs of life. Therefore, there is no question that biologically the to reach the uterus. Therefore, if we take the provision as it is proposed, these
fertilized ovum has life. so called contraceptives should be banned.
The second question: Is it human? Genetics gives an equally categorical Mr. Villegas: Yes, if that physical fact is established, then that is what is
"yes." At the moment of conception, the nuclei of the ovum and the sperm rupture. called abortifacient and, therefore, would be unconstitutional and should be banned
As this happens 23 chromosomes from the ovum combine with 23 chromosomes of under this provision.
the sperm to form a total of 46 chromosomes. A chromosome count of 46 is found
only — and I repeat, only in human cells. Therefore, the fertilized ovum is human. Mr. Gascon: Yes. So my point is that I do not think it is up to Congress
to state whether or not these certain contraceptives are abortifacient.
Since these questions have been answered affirmatively, we must Scientifically and based on the provision as it is now proposed, they are already
conclude that if the fertilized ovum is both alive and human, then, as night follows considered abortifacient. 154 ESDcIA
day, it must be human life. Its nature is human. 151
From the deliberations above-quoted, it is apparent that the Framers of the Constitution
Why the Constitution used the phrase "from the moment of conception" and not "from the emphasized that the State shall provide equal protection to both the mother and the unborn child from
moment of fertilization" was not because of doubt when human life begins, but rather, because: the earliest opportunity of life, that is, upon fertilization or upon the union of the male sperm and
Mr. Tingson: . . . the phrase from the moment of "conception" was the female ovum. It is also apparent is that the Framers of the Constitution intended that to prohibit
described by us here before with the scientific phrase "fertilized ovum" may be Congress from enacting measures that would allow it determine when life begins.
beyond the comprehension of some people; we want to use the simpler phrase Equally apparent, however, is that the Framers of the Constitution did not intend to ban all
"from the moment of conception." 152 contraceptives for being unconstitutional. In fact, Commissioner Bernardo Villegas, spearheading the
need to have a constitutional provision on the right to life, recognized that the determination of whether
Thus, in order to ensure that the fertilized ovum is given ample protection under the
a contraceptive device is an abortifacient is a question of fact which should be left to the courts to
Constitution, it was discussed:
decide on based on established evidence. 155 From the discussions above, contraceptives that kill or
Rev. Rigos: Yes, we think that the word "unborn" is sufficient for the destroy the fertilized ovum should be deemed an abortive and thus prohibited. Conversely,
purpose of writing a Constitution, without specifying "from the moment of contraceptives that actually prevent the union of the male sperm and the female ovum, and those that
conception." EHTADa similarly take action prior to fertilization should be deemed non-abortive, and thus, constitutionally
permissible.
Mr. Davide: I would not subscribe to that particular view because
according to the Commissioner's own admission, he would leave it to Congress to As emphasized by the Framers of the Constitution:
define when life begins. So, Congress can define life to begin from six months after xxx xxx xxx
fertilization; and that would really be very, very, dangerous. It is now determined by
science that life begins from the moment of conception. There can be no doubt Mr. Gascon: . . . . As I mentioned in my speech on the US bases, I am
about it. So we should not give any doubt to Congress, too. 153 pro-life, to the point that I would like not only to protect the life of the unborn, but also
the lives of the millions of people in the world by fighting for a nuclear-free world. I
would just like to be assured of the legal and pragmatic implications of the term Even if there is already information that condoms sometimes have porosity?
"protection of the life of the unborn from the moment of conception." I raised some of
these implications this afternoon when I interjected in the interpellation of Atty. Noche:
Commissioner Regalado. I would like to ask that question again for a categorical
Well, yes, Your Honor, there are scientific findings to that effect, Your Honor, but I
answer. CHIScD
am discussing here Section 12, Article II, Your Honor, yes.
I mentioned that if we institutionalize the term "the life of the unborn from
Justice Bersamin:
the moment of conception" we are also actually saying "no," not "maybe," to certain
contraceptives which are already being encouraged at this point in time. Is that the Alright.
sense of the committee or does it disagree with me?
Atty. Noche:
Mr. Azcuna: No, Mr. Presiding Officer, because contraceptives
would be preventive. There is no unborn yet. That is yet unshaped. And it's not, I have to admit it's not an abortifacient, Your Honor. 158

Mr. Gascon: Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer, but I was speaking more about Medical Meaning
some contraceptives, such as the intra-uterine device which actually stops the egg
which has already been fertilized from taking route to the uterus. So if we say "from That conception begins at fertilization is not bereft of medical foundation. Mosby's Medical,
the moment of conception," what really occurs is that some of these contraceptives Nursing, and Allied Health Dictionary defines conception as "the beginning of pregnancy usually taken
will have to be unconstitutionalized. to be the instant a spermatozoon enters an ovum and forms a viable zygote." 159 It describes
fertilization as "the union of male and female gametes to form a zygote from which the embryo
Mr. Azcuna: Yes, to the extent that it is after the fertilization. develops." 160

Mr. Gascon: Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer. 156 The Textbook of Obstetrics (Physiological & Pathological Obstetrics), 161 used by medical
schools in the Philippines, also concludes that human life (human person) begins at the moment of
The fact that not all contraceptives are prohibited by the 1987 Constitution is even admitted fertilization with the union of the egg and the sperm resulting in the formation of a new individual, with
by petitioners during the oral arguments. There it was conceded that tubal ligation, vasectomy, even a unique genetic composition that dictates all developmental stages that ensue. TDCaSE
condoms are not classified as abortifacients. 157 ESCTIA
Similarly, recent medical research on the matter also reveals that: "Human development
Atty. Noche: begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as
fertilization (conception). Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm
Before the union of the eggs, egg and the sperm, there is no life yet. (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the
haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This
Justice Bersamin:
fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a
There is no life. human being." 162
The authors of Human Embryology & Teratology 163 mirror the same position. They wrote:
Atty. Noche:
"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary
So, there is no life to be protected. circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed. . . . The combination of
23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the
Justice Bersamin: diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic
unity."
To be protected.
In support of the RH Bill, The Philippine Medical Association came out with a "Paper on
Atty. Noche: the Reproductive Health Bill (Responsible Parenthood Bill)" and therein concluded that:
Under Section 12, yes. CONCLUSION

Justice Bersamin: The PMA throws its full weight in supporting the RH Bill at the same time
that PMA maintains its strong position that fertilization is sacred because it is at
So you have no objection to condoms? this stage that conception, and thus human life, begins. Human lives are
sacred from the moment of conception, and that destroying those new lives is
Atty. Noche:
never licit, no matter what the purported good outcome would be. In terms of
Not under Section 12, Article II. EaCDAT biology and human embryology, a human being begins immediately at
fertilization and after that, there is no point along the continuous line of human
Justice Bersamin: embryogenesis where only a "potential" human being can be posited. Any
philosophical, legal, or political conclusion cannot escape this objective policy of the law to protect to the fertilized ovum and that it should be afforded safe travel to the uterus
scientific fact. for implantation. 170

The scientific evidence supports the conclusion that a zygote is a human Moreover, the RH Law recognizes that abortion is a crime under Article 256 of the Revised
organism and that the life of a new human being commences at a scientifically well Penal Code, which penalizes the destruction or expulsion of the fertilized ovum. Thus: HEDCAS
defined "moment of conception." This conclusion is objective, consistent with
1]. . . .
the factual evidence, and independent of any specific ethical, moral, political,
or religious view of human life or of human embryos. 164 DTAcIa Section 4. Definition of Terms. — For the purpose of this Act, the
following terms shall be defined as follows:
Conclusion: The Moment
of Conception is Reckoned from xxx xxx xxx.
Fertilization
(q) Reproductive health care refers to the access to a full range of
In all, whether it be taken from a plain meaning, or understood under medical parlance, and methods, facilities, services and supplies that contribute to reproductive health and
more importantly, following the intention of the Framers of the Constitution, the undeniable conclusion well-being by addressing reproductive health-related problems. It also includes
is that a zygote is a human organism and that the life of a new human being commences at a sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal
scientifically well-defined moment of conception, that is, upon fertilization. relations. The elements of reproductive health care include the following:
For the above reasons, the Court cannot subscribe to the theory advocated by Hon.
xxx xxx xxx.
Lagman that life begins at implantation. 165 According to him, "fertilization and conception are two
distinct and successive stages in the reproductive process. They are not identical and (3) Proscription of abortion and management
synonymous." 166 Citing a letter of the WHO, he wrote that "medical authorities confirm that the of abortion complications; cTACIa
implantation of the fertilized ovum is the commencement of conception and it is only after implantation
that pregnancy can be medically detected." 167 xxx xxx xxx.
This theory of implantation as the beginning of life is devoid of any legal or scientific mooring. 2]. . . .
It does not pertain to the beginning of life but to the viability of the fetus. The fertilized ovum/zygote
is not an inanimate object — it is a living human being complete with DNA and 46 Section 4.. . . .
chromosomes. 168 Implantation has been conceptualized only for convenience by those who had
population control in mind. To adopt it would constitute textual infidelity not only to the RH Law but also (s) Reproductive health rights refers to the rights of individuals and
to the Constitution. CSTEHI couples, to decide freely and responsibly whether or not to have children; the
number, spacing and timing of their children; to make other decisions concerning
Not surprisingly, even the OSG does not support this position. reproduction, free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have the information
and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of sexual health and
If such theory would be accepted, it would unnervingly legitimize the utilization of any drug
reproductive health: Provided, however, That reproductive health rights do not
or device that would prevent the implantation of the fetus at the uterine wall. It would be provocative
include abortion, and access to abortifacients.
and further aggravate religious-based divisiveness.
It would legally permit what the Constitution proscribes — abortion and abortifacients. 3]. . . .

The RH Law and Abortion SEC. 29. Repealing Clause. — Except for prevailing laws against
abortion, any law, presidential decree or issuance, executive order, letter of
The clear and unequivocal intent of the Framers of the 1987 Constitution in protecting the instruction, administrative order, rule or regulation contrary to or is inconsistent with
life of the unborn from conception was to prevent the Legislature from enacting a measure legalizing the provisions of this Act including Republic Act No. 7392, otherwise known as the
abortion. It was so clear that even the Court cannot interpret it otherwise. This intent of the Midwifery Act, is hereby repealed, modified or amended accordingly.
Framers was captured in the record of the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.
Commissioner Bernardo Villegas, the principal proponent of the protection of the unborn from The RH Law and Abortifacients
conception, explained:
In carrying out its declared policy, the RH Law is consistent in prohibiting abortifacients. To
The intention . . . is to make sure that there would be no pro-abortion be clear, Section 4 (a) of the RH Law defines an abortifacient as:
laws ever passed by Congress or any pro-abortion decision passed by
Section 4. Definition of Terms. — . . .
the Supreme Court. 169
(a) Abortifacient refers to any drug or device that induces abortion or
A reading of the RH Law would show that it is in line with this intent and actually proscribes
the destruction of a fetus inside the mother's womb or the prevention of the fertilized
abortion. While the Court has opted not to make any determination, at this stage, when life begins, it
ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother's womb upon determination of the
finds that the RH Law itself clearly mandates that protection be afforded from the moment of
FDA. SEHTAC
fertilization. As pointed out by Justice Carpio, the RH Law is replete with provisions that embody the
As stated above, the RH Law mandates that protection must be afforded from the moment Provided, further, That the foregoing offices shall not purchase or acquire
of fertilization. By using the word "or," the RH Law prohibits not only drugs or devices that prevent by any means emergency contraceptive pills, postcoital pills, abortifacients that will
implantation, but also those that induce abortion and those that induce the destruction of a fetus inside be used for such purpose and their other forms or equivalent.
the mother's womb. Thus, an abortifacient is any drug or device that either:
Abortifacients under the RH-IRR
(a) Induces abortion; or
At this juncture, the Court agrees with ALFI that the authors of the RH-IRR gravely abused
(b) Induces the destruction of a fetus inside the mother's womb; or aTADcH their office when they redefined the meaning of abortifacient. The RH Law defines "abortifacient" as
follows:
(c) Prevents the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother's
womb, SEC. 4. Definition of Terms. — For the purpose of this Act, the following
terms shall be defined as follows:
upon determination of the FDA.
(a) Abortifacient refers to any drug or device that induces abortion or the
Contrary to the assertions made by the petitioners, the Court finds that the RH Law, destruction of a fetus inside the mother's womb or the
consistent with the Constitution, recognizes that the fertilized ovum already has life and that the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in
State has a bounden duty to protect it. The conclusion becomes clear because the RH the mother's womb upon determination of the FDA. ECcaDT
Law, first, prohibits any drug or device that induces abortion (first kind), which, as discussed
exhaustively above, refers to that which induces the killing or the destruction of the fertilized ovum, Section 3.01 (a) of the IRR, however, redefines "abortifacient" as:
and, second,prohibits any drug or device the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother's
womb (third kind). Section 3.01.For purposes of these Rules, the terms shall be defined as
follows:
By expressly declaring that any drug or device that prevents the fertilized ovum to reach and
be implanted in the mother's womb is an abortifacient (third kind), the RH Law does not intend to mean a) Abortifacient refers to any drug or device that primarily induces
at all that life only begins only at implantation, as Hon. Lagman suggests. It also does not declare abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mother's womb
either that protection will only be given upon implantation, as the petitioners likewise suggest. Rather, or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be
it recognizes that: one, there is a need to protect the fertilized ovum which already has life, implanted in the mother's womb upon determination of the
and two, the fertilized ovum must be protected the moment it becomes existent — all the way Food and Drug Administration (FDA). [Emphasis supplied]
until it reaches and implants in the mother's womb. After all, if life is only recognized and afforded
Again in Section 3.01 (j) of the RH-IRR, "contraceptive," is redefined, viz.:
protection from the moment the fertilized ovum implants — there is nothing to prevent any drug or
device from killing or destroying the fertilized ovum prior to implantation. DTAHEC j) Contraceptive refers to any safe, legal, effective and scientifically proven
modern family planning method, device, or health product, whether natural or
From the foregoing, the Court finds that inasmuch as it affords protection to the fertilized
artificial, that prevents pregnancy but does not primarily destroy a fertilized
ovum, the RH Law does not sanction abortion. To repeat, it is the Court's position that life begins at
ovum or prevent a fertilized ovum from being implanted in the mother's womb in
fertilization, not at implantation. When a fertilized ovum is implanted in the uterine wall, its viability is
doses of its approved indication as determined by the Food and Drug
sustained but that instance of implantation is not the point of beginning of life. It started earlier. And as
Administration (FDA).
defined by the RH Law, any drug or device that induces abortion, that is, which kills or destroys
the fertilized ovum or prevents the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother's The above-mentioned section of the RH-IRR allows "contraceptives" and recognizes as
womb, is an abortifacient. "abortifacient" only those that primarily induce abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the
Proviso Under Section 9 of the RH Law mother's womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother's
womb. 172
This notwithstanding, the Court finds that the proviso under Section 9 of the law that "any
product or supply included or to be included in the EDL must have a certification from the FDA that This cannot be done.
said product and supply is made available on the condition that it is not to be used as an In this regard, the observations of Justice Brion and Justice Del Castillo are well taken. As
abortifacient" as empty as it is absurd. The FDA, with all its expertise, cannot fully attest that a drug they pointed out, with the insertion of the word "primarily," Section 3.01 (a) and (j) of the
or device will not all be used as an abortifacient, since the agency cannot be present in every instance RH-IRR 173 must be struck down for being ultra vires.
when the contraceptive product or supply will be used. 171
Evidently, with the addition of the word "primarily," in Section 3.01 (a) and (j) of the RH-IRR
Pursuant to its declared policy of providing access only to safe, legal and non-abortifacient is indeed ultra vires. It contravenes Section 4 (a) of the RH Law and should, therefore, be declared
contraceptives, however, the Court finds that the proviso of Section 9, as worded, should bend to the invalid. There is danger that the insertion of the qualifier "primarily" will pave the way for the approval
legislative intent and mean that "any product or supply included or to be included in the EDL must have of contraceptives which may harm or destroy the life of the unborn from conception/fertilization in
a certification from the FDA that said product and supply is made available on the condition that it violation of Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution. With such qualification in the RH-IRR, it appears to
cannot be used as abortifacient." Such a construction is consistent with the proviso under the second insinuate that a contraceptive will only be considered as an "abortifacient" if its sole known effect is
paragraph of the same section that provides: abortion or, as pertinent here, the prevention of the implantation of the fertilized ovum. aEcHCD
For the same reason, this definition of "contraceptive" would permit the approval of Section 11. The State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive
contraceptives which are actually abortifacients because of their fail-safe mechanism. 174 approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods,
health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost. There
Also, as discussed earlier, Section 9 calls for the certification by the FDA that these shall be priority for the needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women,
contraceptives cannot act as abortive. With this, together with the definition of an abortifacient under and children. The State shall endeavor to provide free medical care to paupers.
Section 4 (a) of the RH Law and its declared policy against abortion, the undeniable conclusion is that
contraceptives to be included in the PNDFS and the EDL will not only be those contraceptives that do Section 12. The State shall establish and maintain an effective food and
not have the primary action of causing abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mother's drug regulatory system and undertake appropriate health, manpower development,
womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother's womb, but and research, responsive to the country's health needs and problems.
also those that do not have the secondary action of acting the same way.
Section 13. The State shall establish a special agency for disabled
Indeed, consistent with the constitutional policy prohibiting abortion, and in line with the persons for their rehabilitation, self-development, and self-reliance, and their
principle that laws should be construed in a manner that its constitutionality is sustained, the RH Law integration into the mainstream of society.
and its implementing rules must be consistent with each other in prohibiting abortion. Thus, the word
"primarily" in Section 3.01 (a) and (j) of the RH-IRR should be declared void. To uphold the validity of Finally, Section 9, Article XVI provides: CTIEac
Section 3.01 (a) and (j) of the RH-IRR and prohibit only those contraceptives that have the primary
effect of being an abortive would effectively "open the floodgates to the approval of contraceptives Section 9. The State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices
which may harm or destroy the life of the unborn from conception/fertilization in violation of Article II, and from substandard or hazardous products.
Section 12 of the Constitution." 175
Contrary to the respondent's notion, however, these provisions are self-executing. Unless
To repeat and emphasize, in all cases, the "principle of no abortion" embodied in the the provisions clearly express the contrary, the provisions of the Constitution should be considered
constitutional protection of life must be upheld. self-executory. There is no need for legislation to implement these self-executing
provisions. 182 In Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, 183 it was stated:
2-The Right to Health
. . . Hence, unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is
The petitioners claim that the RH Law violates the right to health because it requires the necessary to enforce a constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all
inclusion of hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and family products and provisions of the constitution are self-executing. If the constitutional
supplies in the National Drug Formulary and the inclusion of the same in the regular purchase of provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the
essential medicines and supplies of all national hospitals. 176 Citing various studies on the matter, the legislature would have the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate
petitioners posit that the risk of developing breast and cervical cancer is greatly increased in women of the fundamental law. This can be cataclysmic. That is why the prevailing view is,
who use oral contraceptives as compared to women who never use them. They point out that the risk as it has always been, that —
is decreased when the use of contraceptives is discontinued. Further, it is contended that the use of
combined oral contraceptive pills is associated with a threefold increased risk of venous . . . in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing
thromboembolism, a twofold increased risk of ischematic stroke, and an indeterminate effect on rather than non-self-executing. . . . Unless the contrary is clearly intended, the
risk of myocardial infarction. 177 Given the definition of "reproductive health" and "sexual health" provisions of the Constitution should be considered self-executing, as a
under Sections 4 (p) 178 and (w) 179 of the RH Law, the petitioners assert that the assailed legislation contrary rule would give the legislature discretion to determine when, or
only seeks to ensure that women have pleasurable and satisfying sex lives. 180 CaSHAc whether, they shall be effective. These provisions would be subordinated to the
will of the lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless by simply
The OSG, however, points out that Section 15, Article II of the Constitution is not refusing to pass the needed implementing statute. (Emphases supplied)
self-executory, it being a mere statement of the administration's principle and policy. Even if it were
self-executory, the OSG posits that medical authorities refute the claim that contraceptive pose a This notwithstanding, it bears mentioning that the petitioners, particularly ALFI, do not
danger to the health of women. 181 question contraception and contraceptives per se. 184 In fact, ALFI prays that the status quo — under
R.A. No. 5921 and R.A. No. 4729, the sale and distribution of contraceptives are not prohibited when
The Court's Position
they are dispensed by a prescription of a duly licensed by a physician — be maintained. 185 ETCcSa
A component to the right to life is the constitutional right to health. In this regard, the
The legislative intent in the enactment of the RH Law in this regard is to leave intact the
Constitution is replete with provisions protecting and promoting the right to health. Section 15, Article II
provisions of R.A. No. 4729. There is no intention at all to do away with it. It is still a good law and its
of the Constitution provides:
requirements are still in to be complied with. Thus, the Court agrees with the observation of
Section 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the respondent Lagman that the effectivity of the RH Law will not lead to the unmitigated proliferation of
people and instill health consciousness among them. contraceptives since the sale, distribution and dispensation of contraceptive drugs and devices will still
require the prescription of a licensed physician. With R.A. No. 4729 in place, there exists adequate
A portion of Article XIII also specifically provides for the States' duty to provide for the health safeguards to ensure the public that only contraceptives that are safe are made available to
of the people, viz.: the public. As aptly explained by respondent Lagman:
HEALTH
D. Contraceptives cannot be 112. With all of the foregoing safeguards, as provided for in the RH
dispensed and used without Law and other relevant statutes, the pretension of the petitioners that the RH
prescription Law will lead to the unmitigated proliferation of contraceptives, whether
harmful or not, is completely unwarranted and baseless. 186 [Emphases in the
108. As an added protection to voluntary users of contraceptives, the Original. Underlining supplied.]
same cannot be dispensed and used without prescription.
In Re: Section 10 of the RH Law:
109. Republic Act No. 4729 or "An Act to Regulate the Sale,
Dispensation, and/or Distribution of Contraceptive Drugs and Devices" and The foregoing safeguards should be read in connection with Section 10 of the RH Law
Republic Act No. 5921 or "An Act Regulating the Practice of Pharmacy and Setting which provides: CacEID
Standards of Pharmaceutical Education in the Philippines and for Other Purposes"
SEC. 10. Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies. —
are not repealed by the RH Law and the provisions of said Acts are not
The DOH shall procure, distribute to LGUs and monitor the usage of family planning
inconsistent with the RH Law.
supplies for the whole country. The DOH shall coordinate with all appropriate local
110. Consequently, the sale, distribution and dispensation of government bodies to plan and implement this procurement and distribution
contraceptive drugs and devices are particularly governed by RA No. 4729 which program. The supply and budget allotments shall be based on, among others, the
provides in full: current levels and projections of the following:

"Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, partnership, or (a) Number of women of reproductive age and couples who want to
corporation, to sell, dispense or otherwise distribute whether for or without space or limit their children;
consideration, any contraceptive drug or device, unless such sale,
(b) Contraceptive prevalence rate, by type of method used; and
dispensation or distribution is by a duly licensed drug store or
pharmaceutical company and with the prescription of a qualified medical (c) Cost of family planning supplies.
practitioner.
Provided, That LGUs may implement its own procurement, distribution
"Sec. 2. For the purpose of this Act: and monitoring program consistent with the overall provisions of this Act and the
guidelines of the DOH.
"(a)" Contraceptive drug" is any medicine, drug, chemical, or
portion which is used exclusively for the purpose of preventing fertilization Thus, in the distribution by the DOH of contraceptive drugs and devices, it must consider the
of the female ovum: and provisions of R.A. No. 4729, which is still in effect, and ensure that the contraceptives that it will
procure shall be from a duly licensed drug store or pharmaceutical company and that the actual
"(b)" Contraceptive device" is any instrument, device,
dispensation of these contraceptive drugs and devices will done following a prescription of a qualified
material, or agent introduced into the female reproductive system for the
medical practitioner. The distribution of contraceptive drugs and devices must not be indiscriminately
primary purpose of preventing conception.
done. The public health must be protected by all possible means. As pointed out by Justice De
"Sec. 3. Any person, partnership, or corporation, violating the Castro, a heavy responsibility and burden are assumed by the government in supplying
provisions of this Act shall be punished with a fine of not more than five contraceptive drugs and devices, for it may be held accountable for any injury, illness or loss
hundred pesos or an imprisonment of not less than six months or more of life resulting from or incidental to their use. 187
than one year or both in the discretion of the Court. HATICc At any rate, it bears pointing out that not a single contraceptive has yet been submitted
to the FDA pursuant to the RH Law. It behooves the Court to await its determination which drugs or
"This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
devices are declared by the FDA as safe, it being the agency tasked to ensure that food and medicines
"Approved: June 18, 1966" available to the public are safe for public consumption. Consequently, the Court finds that, at this point,
the attack on the RH Law on this ground is premature. Indeed, the various kinds of contraceptives
111. Of the same import, but in a general manner, Section 25 of RA No. must first be measured up to the constitutional yardstick as expounded herein, to be determined as the
5921 provides: case presents itself. SICaDA

"Section 25. Sale of medicine, pharmaceuticals, drugs and At this point, the Court is of the strong view that Congress cannot legislate that hormonal
devices. — No medicine, pharmaceutical, or drug of whatever nature and contraceptives and intra-uterine devices are safe and non-abortifacient. The first sentence of Section
kind or device shall be compounded, dispensed, sold or resold, or 9 that ordains their inclusion by the National Drug Formulary in the EDL by using the mandatory "shall"
otherwise be made available to the consuming public except through a is to be construed as operative only after they have been tested, evaluated, and approved by the FDA.
prescription drugstore or hospital pharmacy, duly established in The FDA, not Congress, has the expertise to determine whether a particular hormonal contraceptive
accordance with the provisions of this Act." or intrauterine device is safe and non-abortifacient. The provision of the third sentence concerning the
requirements for the inclusion or removal of a particular family planning supply from the EDL supports
this construction.
Stated differently, the provision in Section 9 covering the inclusion of hormonal Petitioner CFC also argues that the requirement for a conscientious objector to refer the
contraceptives, intra-uterine devices, injectables, and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective person seeking reproductive health care services to another provider infringes on one's freedom of
family planning products and supplies by the National Drug Formulary in the EDL is not mandatory. religion as it forces the objector to become an unwilling participant in the commission of a serious sin
There must first be a determination by the FDA that they are in fact safe, legal, non-abortifacient and under Catholic teachings. While the right to act on one's belief may be regulated by the State, the acts
effective family planning products and supplies. There can be no predetermination by Congress that prohibited by the RH Law are passive acts which produce neither harm nor injury to the public.193
the gamut of contraceptives are "safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective" without the proper
scientific examination. Petitioner CFC adds that the RH Law does not show compelling state interest to justify
regulation of religious freedom because it mentions no emergency, risk or threat that endangers state
3-Freedom of Religion interests. It does not explain how the rights of the people (to equality, non-discrimination of rights,
and the Right to Free Speech sustainable human development, health, education, information, choice and to make decisions
according to religious convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood)
Position of the Petitioners:
are being threatened or are not being met as to justify the impairment of religious
1. On Contraception freedom. 194 ISCHET

While contraceptives and procedures like vasectomy and tubal ligation are not covered by Finally, the petitioners also question Section 15 of the RH Law requiring would-be couples
the constitutional proscription, there are those who, because of their religious education and to attend family planning and responsible parenthood seminars and to obtain a certificate of
background, sincerely believe that contraceptives, whether abortifacient or not, are evil. Some of compliance. They claim that the provision forces individuals to participate in the implementation of the
these are medical practitioners who essentially claim that their beliefs prohibit not only the use of RH Law even if it contravenes their religious beliefs. 195 As the assailed law dangles the threat of
contraceptives but also the willing participation and cooperation in all things dealing with contraceptive penalty of fine and/or imprisonment in case of non-compliance with its provisions, the petitioners claim
use. Petitioner PAX explained that "contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity, it is contrary that the RH Law forcing them to provide, support and facilitate access and information to contraception
to the good of the transmission of life, and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses; it harms true against their beliefs must be struck down as it runs afoul to the constitutional guarantee of religious
love and denies the sovereign rule of God in the transmission of Human life." 188 CacEID freedom.
The petitioners question the State-sponsored procurement of contraceptives, arguing that The Respondents' Positions
the expenditure of their taxes on contraceptives violates the guarantee of religious freedom since
contraceptives contravene their religious beliefs. 189 The respondents, on the other hand, contend that the RH Law does not provide that a
specific mode or type of contraceptives be used, be it natural or artificial. It neither imposes nor
2. On Religious Accommodation and sanctions any religion or belief. 196 They point out that the RH Law only seeks to serve the public
The Duty to Refer interest by providing accessible, effective and quality reproductive health services to ensure maternal
and child health, in line with the State's duty to bring to reality the social justice health guarantees of
Petitioners Imbong and Luat note that while the RH Law attempts to address religious the Constitution, 197 and that what the law only prohibits are those acts or practices, which deprive
sentiments by making provisions for a conscientious objector, the constitutional guarantee is others of their right to reproductive health. 198 They assert that the assailed law only seeks to
nonetheless violated because the law also imposes upon the conscientious objector the duty to refer guarantee informed choice, which is an assurance that no one will be compelled to violate his religion
the patient seeking reproductive health services to another medical practitioner who would be able to against his free will. 199 AHacIS
provide for the patient's needs. For the petitioners, this amounts to requiring the conscientious objector
to cooperate with the very thing he refuses to do without violating his/her religious beliefs. 190 The respondents add that by asserting that only natural family planning should be allowed,
the petitioners are effectively going against the constitutional right to religious freedom, the same right
They further argue that even if the conscientious objector's duty to refer is recognized, the they invoked to assail the constitutionality of the RH Law. 200 In other words, by seeking the
recognition is unduly limited, because although it allows a conscientious objector in Section 23 (a) (3) declaration that the RH Law is unconstitutional, the petitioners are asking that the Court recognize only
the option to refer a patient seeking reproductive health services and information — no escape is the Catholic Church's sanctioned natural family planning methods and impose this on the entire
afforded the conscientious objector in Section 23 (a) (1) and (2), i.e., against a patient seeking citizenry. 201 CAETcH
reproductive health procedures. They claim that the right of other individuals to conscientiously object,
such as: a) those working in public health facilities referred to in Section 7; b) public officers involved in With respect to the duty to refer, the respondents insist that the same does not violate the
the implementation of the law referred to in Section 23 (b); and c) teachers in public schools referred to constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, it being a carefully balanced compromise between the
in Section 14 of the RH Law, are also not recognized. 191 aTEHIC interests of the religious objector, on one hand, who is allowed to keep silent but is required to refer —
and that of the citizen who needs access to information and who has the right to expect that the health
Petitioner Echavez and the other medical practitioners meanwhile, contend that the care professional in front of her will act professionally. For the respondents, the concession given by
requirement to refer the matter to another health care service provider is still considered a compulsion the State under Section 7 and 23 (a) (3) is sufficient accommodation to the right to freely exercise
on those objecting healthcare service providers. They add that compelling them to do the act against one's religion without unnecessarily infringing on the rights of others. 202 Whatever burden is placed
their will violates the Doctrine of Benevolent Neutrality. Sections 9, 14 and 17 of the law are too secular on the petitioner's religious freedom is minimal as the duty to refer is limited in duration, location and
that they tend to disregard the religion of Filipinos. Authorizing the use of contraceptives with abortive impact.203
effects, mandatory sex education, mandatory pro-bono reproductive health services to indigents
encroach upon the religious freedom of those upon whom they are required. 192 Regarding mandatory family planning seminars under Section 15, the respondents claim
that it is a reasonable regulation providing an opportunity for would-be couples to have access to
information regarding parenthood, family planning, breastfeeding and infant nutrition. It is argued that
those who object to any information received on account of their attendance in the required seminars Balancing the benefits that religion affords and the need to provide an ample barrier to
are not compelled to accept information given to them. They are completely free to reject any protect the State from the pursuit of its secular objectives, the Constitution lays down the following
information they do not agree with and retain the freedom to decide on matters of family life without mandate in Article III, Section 5 and Article VI, Section 29 (2), of the 1987 Constitution:
intervention of the State. 204
Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of
For their part, respondents De Venecia et al., dispute the notion that natural family planning religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of
is the only method acceptable to Catholics and the Catholic hierarchy. Citing various studies and religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever
surveys on the matter, they highlight the changing stand of the Catholic Church on contraception be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political
throughout the years and note the general acceptance of the benefits of contraceptives by its followers rights.
in planning their families. HEcTAI
Section 29.
The Church and The State
xxx xxx xxx.
At the outset, it cannot be denied that we all live in a heterogeneous society. It is made up of
people of diverse ethnic, cultural and religious beliefs and backgrounds. History has shown us that our No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or
government, in law and in practice, has allowed these various religious, cultural, social and racial employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church,
groups to thrive in a single society together. It has embraced minority groups and is tolerant towards all denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher,
— the religious people of different sects and the non-believers. The undisputed fact is that our people minister, other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest,
generally believe in a deity, whatever they conceived Him to be, and to whom they call for guidance preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal
and enlightenment in crafting our fundamental law. Thus, the preamble of the present Constitution institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium. ASaTHc
reads:
In short, the constitutional assurance of religious freedom provides two guarantees:
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.
in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall
embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and The establishment clause "principally prohibits the State from sponsoring any religion or
develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of favoring any religion as against other religions. It mandates a strict neutrality in affairs among religious
independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, groups." 206 Essentially, it prohibits the establishment of a state religion and the use of public
freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this resources for the support or prohibition of a religion.
Constitution. TSEcAD
On the other hand, the basis of the free exercise clause is the respect for the inviolability of
The Filipino people in "imploring the aid of Almighty God" manifested their spirituality innate the human conscience. 207 Under this part of religious freedom guarantee, the State is prohibited
in our nature and consciousness as a people, shaped by tradition and historical experience. As this is from unduly interfering with the outside manifestations of one's belief and faith. 208 Explaining the
embodied in the preamble, it means that the State recognizes with respect the influence of religion in concept of religious freedom, the Court, in Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers Union 209 wrote:
so far as it instills into the mind the purest principles of morality. 205 Moreover, in recognition of the The constitutional provisions not only prohibits legislation for the support
contributions of religion to society, the 1935, 1973 and 1987 constitutions contain benevolent and of any religious tenets or the modes of worship of any sect, thus forestalling
accommodating provisions towards religions such as tax exemption of church property, salary of compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of
religious officers in government institutions, and optional religious instructions in public schools. worship (U.S. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 88 L. ed. 1148, 1153), but also assures the
The Framers, however, felt the need to put up a strong barrier so that the State would not free exercise of one's chosen form of religion within limits of utmost
encroach into the affairs of the church, and vice-versa. The principle of separation of Church and State amplitude. It has been said that the religion clauses of the Constitution are all
was, thus, enshrined in Article II, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution, viz.: designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each man to
believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he
Section 6. The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable. ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and with the common good. Any
legislation whose effect or purpose is to impede the observance of one or all
Verily, the principle of separation of Church and State is based on mutual respect. Generally, religions, or to discriminate invidiously between the religions, is invalid, even
the State cannot meddle in the internal affairs of the church, much less question its faith and dogmas though the burden may be characterized as being only indirect. (Sherbert v.
or dictate upon it. It cannot favor one religion and discriminate against another. On the other hand, the Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 10 L.ed.2d 965, 83 S. Ct. 1970) But if the state regulates
church cannot impose its beliefs and convictions on the State and the rest of the citizenry. It cannot conduct by enacting, within its power, a general law which has for its purpose and
demand that the nation follow its beliefs, even if it sincerely believes that they are good for the effect to advance the state's secular goals, the statute is valid despite its indirect
country. cADTSH burden on religious observance, unless the state can accomplish its purpose
Consistent with the principle that not any one religion should ever be preferred over another, without imposing such burden.(Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. 599, 6 L ed. 2d. 563,
the Constitution in the above-cited provision utilizes the term "church" in its generic sense, which 81 S. Ct. 144; McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 444-5 and 449).
refers to a temple, a mosque, an iglesia, or any other house of God which metaphorically symbolizes a
As expounded in Escritor,
religious organization. Thus, the "Church" means the religious congregations collectively.
The establishment and free exercise clauses were not designed to serve is whether it violates the established institutions of society and law.
contradictory purposes. They have a single goal — to promote freedom of individual The Victorianocase mentioned the "immediate and grave danger" test as well as
religious beliefs and practices. In simplest terms, the free exercise clause prohibits the doctrine that a law of general applicability may burden religious exercise
government from inhibiting religious beliefs with penalties for religious beliefs and provided the law is the least restrictive means to accomplish the goal of the law. The
practice, while the establishment clause prohibits government from inhibiting case also used, albeit inappropriately, the "compelling state interest" test.
religious belief with rewards for religious beliefs and practices. In other words, the After Victoriano, Germanwent back to the Gerona rule. Ebralinag then employed
two religion clauses were intended to deny government the power to use either the the "grave and immediate danger" test and overruled the Gerona test. The fairly
carrot or the stick to influence individual religious beliefs and practices. 210 recent case of Iglesia ni Cristo went back to the "clear and present danger" test in
the maiden case of American Bible Society. Not surprisingly, all the cases which
Corollary to the guarantee of free exercise of one's religion is the principle that the employed the "clear and present danger" or "grave and immediate danger"
guarantee of religious freedom is comprised of two parts: the freedom to believe, and the freedom to test involved, in one form or another, religious speech as this test is often
act on one's belief. The first part is absolute. As explained in Gerona v. Secretary of used in cases on freedom of expression. On the other hand,
Education: 211 SacTCA the Gerona and German cases set the rule that religious freedom will not prevail
The realm of belief and creed is infinite and limitless bounded only over established institutions of society and law.Gerona, however, which was the
by one's imagination and thought. So is the freedom of belief, including authority cited by German has been overruled by Ebralinag which employed
religious belief, limitless and without bounds. One may believe in most anything, the "grave and immediate danger" test. Victoriano was the only case that
however strange, bizarre and unreasonable the same may appear to others, even employed the "compelling state interest" test, but as explained previously, the
heretical when weighed in the scales of orthodoxy or doctrinal standards. But use of the test was inappropriate to the facts of the case.
between the freedom of belief and the exercise of said belief, there is quite a stretch The case at bar does not involve speech as in American Bible Society,
of road to travel. 212 Ebralinag and Iglesia ni Cristo where the "clear and present danger" and "grave
The second part however, is limited and subject to the awesome power of the State and can and immediate danger" tests were appropriate as speech has easily discernible or
be enjoyed only with proper regard to the rights of others. It is "subject to regulation where the belief immediate effects. The Gerona and German doctrine, aside from having been
is translated into external acts that affect the public welfare." 213 overruled, is not congruent with the benevolent neutrality approach, thus not
appropriate in this jurisdiction. Similar to Victoriano, the present case involves
Legislative Acts and the purely conduct arising from religious belief. The "compelling state interest" test
Free Exercise Clause is proper where conduct is involved for the whole gamut of human conduct
has different effects on the state's interests: some effects may be immediate
Thus, in case of conflict between the free exercise clause and the State, the Court adheres
and short-term while others delayed and far-reaching. A test that would protect
to the doctrine of benevolent neutrality. This has been clearly decided by the Court in Estrada v.
the interests of the state in preventing a substantive evil, whether immediate or
Escritor, (Escritor) 214 where it was stated "that benevolent neutrality-accommodation, whether
delayed, is therefore necessary. However, not any interest of the state would suffice
mandatory or permissive, is the spirit, intent and framework underlying the Philippine
to prevail over the right to religious freedom as this is a fundamental right that enjoys
Constitution." 215 In the same case, it was further explained that"
a preferred position in the hierarchy of rights — "the most inalienable and sacred of
The benevolent neutrality theory believes that with respect to these all human rights", in the words of Jefferson. This right is sacred for an invocation of
governmental actions, accommodation of religion may be allowed, not to promote the Free Exercise Clause is an appeal to a higher sovereignty. The entire
the government's favored form of religion, but to allow individuals and groups to constitutional order of limited government is premised upon an acknowledgment of
exercise their religion without hindrance. "The purpose of accommodation is to such higher sovereignty, thus the Filipinos implore the "aid of Almighty God in order
remove a burden on, or facilitate the exercise of, a person's or institution's to build a just and humane society and establish a government." As held in Sherbert,
religion." 216 "What is sought under the theory of accommodation is not a only the gravest abuses, endangering paramount interests can limit this
declaration of unconstitutionality of a facially neutral law, but an exemption from its fundamental right. A mere balancing of interests which balances a right with just a
application or its 'burdensome effect,' whether by the legislature or the colorable state interest is therefore not appropriate. Instead, only a compelling
courts." 217 EcSaHA interest of the state can prevail over the fundamental right to religious
liberty. The test requires the state to carry a heavy burden, a compelling one,
In ascertaining the limits of the exercise of religious freedom, the compelling state interest for to do otherwise would allow the state to batter religion, especially the less
test is proper. 218 Underlying the compelling state interest test is the notion that free exercise is a powerful ones until they are destroyed. In determining which shall prevail
fundamental right and that laws burdening it should be subject to strict scrutiny. 219 In Escritor, it was between the state's interest and religious liberty, reasonableness shall be the
written: guide. The "compelling state interest" serves the purpose of revering
religious liberty while at the same time affording protection to the paramount
Philippine jurisprudence articulates several tests to determine these limits.
interests of the state. This was the test used in Sherbert which involved
Beginning with the first case on the Free Exercise Clause, American Bible Society,
conduct, i.e., refusal to work an Saturdays. In the end, the "compelling state interest"
the Court mentioned the "clear and present danger" test but did not employ it.
test, by upholding the paramount interests of the state, seeks to protect the very
Nevertheless, this test continued to be cited in subsequent cases on religious liberty.
state, without which, religious liberty will not be preserved. [Emphases in the original.
TheGerona case then pronounced that the test of permissibility of religious freedom
Underlining supplied.]
The Court's Position 6. Active participation by nongovernment organizations (NGOs),
women's and people's organizations, civil society, faith-based organizations, the
In the case at bench, it is not within the province of the Court to determine whether the use religious sector and communities is crucial to ensure that reproductive health and
of contraceptives or one's participation in the support of modern reproductive health measures is population and development policies, plans, and programs will address the priority
moral from a religious standpoint or whether the same is right or wrong according to one's dogma or needs of women, the poor, and the marginalized. [Section 3(i)]
belief. For the Court has declared that matters dealing with "faith, practice, doctrine, form of worship,
ecclesiastical law, custom and rule of a church . . . are unquestionably ecclesiastical matters which are 7. Responsible parenthood refers to the will and ability of a parent to
outside the province of the civil courts." 220 The jurisdiction of the Court extends only to public and respond to the needs and aspirations of the family and children. It is likewise a
secular morality. Whatever pronouncement the Court makes in the case at bench should be shared responsibility between parents to determine and achieve the desired number
understood only in this realm where it has authority. Stated otherwise, while the Court stands without of children, spacing and timing of their children according to their own family life
authority to rule on ecclesiastical matters, as vanguard of the Constitution, it does have authority to aspirations, taking into account psychological preparedness, health status,
determine whether the RH Law contravenes the guarantee of religious freedom.CcAITa sociocultural and economic concerns consistent with their religious convictions.
(Section 4(v)] (Emphases supplied)
At first blush, it appears that the RH Law recognizes and respects religion and religious
beliefs and convictions. It is replete with assurances the no one can be compelled to violate the tenets While the Constitution prohibits abortion, laws were enacted allowing the use of
of his religion or defy his religious convictions against his free will. Provisions in the RH Law respecting contraceptives. To some medical practitioners, however, the whole idea of using contraceptives is an
religious freedom are the following: anathema. Consistent with the principle of benevolent neutrality, their beliefs should be
1. The State recognizes and guarantees the human rights of all persons respected. cHESAD
including their right to equality and nondiscrimination of these rights, the right to The Establishment Clause
sustainable human development, the right to health which includes reproductive and Contraceptives
health, the right to education and information, and the right to choose and make
decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, In the same breath that the establishment clause restricts what the government can do with
ethics, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible parenthood. [Section 2, religion, it also limits what religious sects can or cannot do with the government. They can neither
Declaration of Policy] cause the government to adopt their particular doctrines as policy for everyone, nor can they not cause
the government to restrict other groups. To do so, in simple terms, would cause the State to adhere to
2. The State recognizes marriage as an inviolable social institution and a particular religion and, thus, establishing a state religion.
the foundation of the family which in turn is the foundation of the nation. Pursuant
thereto, the State shall defend: Consequently, the petitioners are misguided in their supposition that the State cannot
enhance its population control program through the RH Law simply because the promotion of
(a) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance contraceptive use is contrary to their religious beliefs. Indeed, the State is not precluded to pursue its
with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible legitimate secular objectives without being dictated upon by the policies of any one religion. One
parenthood." [Section 2, Declaration of Policy] THDIaC cannot refuse to pay his taxes simply because it will cloud his conscience. The demarcation line
between Church and State demands that one render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and
3. The State shall promote and provide information and access, without unto God the things that are God's. 221
bias, to all methods of family planning, including effective natural and modern
methods which have been proven medically safe, legal, non-abortifacient, and The Free Exercise Clause and the Duty to Refer
effective in accordance with scientific and evidence-based medical research
While the RH Law, in espousing state policy to promote reproductive health manifestly
standards such as those registered and approved by the FDA for the poor and
respects diverse religious beliefs in line with the Non-Establishment Clause, the same conclusion
marginalized as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of
cannot be reached with respect to Sections 7, 23 and 24 thereof. The said provisions commonly
identifying marginalization: Provided, That the State shall also provide funding
mandate that a hospital or a medical practitioner to immediately refer a person seeking health care
support to promote modern natural methods of family planning, especially the
and services under the law to another accessible healthcare provider despite their conscientious
Billings Ovulation Method, consistent with the needs of acceptors and their
objections based on religious or ethical beliefs.
religious convictions. [Section 3(e), Declaration of Policy]
In a situation where the free exercise of religion is allegedly burdened by government
4. The State shall promote programs that: (1) enable individuals and legislation or practice, the compelling state interest test in line with the Court's espousal of the
couples to have the number of children they desire with due consideration to the Doctrine of Benevolent Neutrality in Escritor, finds application. In this case, the conscientious
health, particularly of women, and the resources available and affordable to them objector's claim to religious freedom would warrant an exemption from obligations under the RH Law,
and in accordance with existing laws, public morals and their religious convictions. unless the government succeeds in demonstrating a more compelling state interest in the
[Section 3(f)] accomplishment of an important secular objective. Necessarily so, the plea of conscientious objectors
for exemption from the RH Law deserves no less than strict scrutiny. CHEDAc
5. The State shall respect individuals' preferences and choice of family
planning methods that are in accordance with their religious convictions and In applying the test, the first inquiry is whether a conscientious objector's right to religious
cultural beliefs, taking into consideration the State's obligations under various freedom has been burdened. As in Escritor, there is no doubt that an intense tug-of-war plagues a
human rights instruments. [Section 3(h)] conscientious objector. One side coaxes him into obedience to the law and the abandonment of his
religious beliefs, while the other entices him to a clean conscience yet under the pain of penalty. The considering that in the dissemination of information regarding programs and services and in the
scenario is an illustration of the predicament of medical practitioners whose religious beliefs are performance of reproductive health procedures, the religious freedom of health care service providers
incongruent with what the RH Law promotes. should be respected.
The Court is of the view that the obligation to refer imposed by the RH Law violates the In the case of Islamic Da'wah Council of the Philippines, Inc. v. Office of the Executive
religious belief and conviction of a conscientious objector. Once the medical practitioner, against his Secretary 228 it was stressed:
will, refers a patient seeking information on modern reproductive health products, services,
procedures and methods, his conscience is immediately burdened as he has been compelled to Freedom of religion was accorded preferred status by the framers of
our fundamental law. And this Court has consistently affirmed this preferred status,
perform an act against his beliefs. As Commissioner Joaquin A. Bernas (Commissioner Bernas) has
written, "at the basis of the free exercise clause is the respect for the inviolability of the human well aware that it is "designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of
conscience. 222 conscience, to allow each man to believe as his conscience directs, to
profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with
Though it has been said that the act of referral is an opt-out clause, it is, however, the liberty of others and with the common good." 10
a false compromise because it makes pro-life health providers complicit in the performance of an act
that they find morally repugnant or offensive. They cannot, in conscience, do indirectly what they The Court is not oblivious to the view that penalties provided by law endeavour to ensure
cannot do directly. One may not be the principal, but he is equally guilty if he abets the offensive act by compliance. Without set consequences for either an active violation or mere inaction, a law tends to be
indirect participation. toothless and ineffectual. Nonetheless, when what is bartered for an effective implementation of a law
is a constitutionally-protected right the Court firmly chooses to stamp its disapproval. The punishment
Moreover, the guarantee of religious freedom is necessarily intertwined with the right to free of a healthcare service provider, who fails and/or refuses to refer a patient to another, or who declines
speech, it being an externalization of one's thought and conscience. This in turn includes the right to to perform reproductive health procedure on a patient because incompatible religious beliefs, is a clear
be silent. With the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom follows the protection that should be inhibition of a constitutional guarantee which the Court cannot allow. HTSAEa
afforded to individuals in communicating their beliefs to others as well as the protection for simply
being silent. The Bill of Rights guarantees the liberty of the individual to utter what is in his mind and The Implementing Rules and Regulation (RH-IRR)
the liberty not to utter what is not in his mind. 223 While the RH Law seeks to provide freedom of The last paragraph of Section 5.24 of the RH-IRR reads:
choice through informed consent, freedom of choice guarantees the liberty of the religious conscience
and prohibits any degree of compulsion or burden, whether direct or indirect, in the practice of one's Provided, That skilled health professional such as provincial, city or
religion. 224 municipal health officers, chiefs of hospital, head nurses, supervising
midwives, among others, who by virtue of their office are specifically charged with
In case of conflict between the religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, on one the duty to implement the provisions of the RPRH Act and these Rules, cannot be
hand, and the interest of the State, on the other, to provide access and information on reproductive considered as conscientious objectors.
health products, services, procedures and methods to enable the people to determine the timing,
number and spacing of the birth of their children, the Court is of the strong view that the religious This is discriminatory and violative of the equal protection clause. The conscientious
freedom of health providers, whether public or private, should be accorded primacy. Accordingly, objection clause should be equally protective of the religious belief of public health officers. There is no
aconscientious objector should be exempt from compliance with the mandates of the RH Law. If he perceptible distinction why they should not be considered exempt from the mandates of the law. The
would be compelled to act contrary to his religious belief and conviction, it would be violative of "the protection accorded to other conscientious objectors should equally apply to all medical practitioners
principle of non-coercion" enshrined in the constitutional right to free exercise of religion. without distinction whether they belong to the public or private sector. After all, the freedom to believe
is intrinsic in every individual and the protective robe that guarantees its free exercise is not taken off
Interestingly, on April 24, 2013, Scotland's Inner House of the Court of Session, found in the
even if one acquires employment in the government.
case of Doogan and Wood v. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, 225 that the midwives
claiming to be conscientious objectors under the provisions of Scotland's Abortion Act of 1967, could It should be stressed that intellectual liberty occupies a place inferior to none in the
not be required to delegate, supervise or support staff on their labor ward who were involved in hierarchy of human values. The mind must be free to think what it wills, whether in the secular or
abortions. 226 The Inner House stated "that if 'participation' were defined according to whether the religious sphere, to give expression to its beliefs by oral discourse or through the media and, thus,
person was taking part 'directly' or 'indirectly' this would actually mean more complexity and seek other candid views in occasions or gatherings or in more permanent aggrupation. Embraced in
uncertainty." 227 such concept then are freedom of religion, freedom of speech, of the press, assembly and petition,
and freedom of association. 229
While the said case did not cover the act of referral, the applicable principle was the same —
they could not be forced to assist abortions if it would be against their conscience or will. The discriminatory provision is void not only because no such exception is stated in the RH
Law itself but also because it is violative of the equal protection clause in the Constitution. Quoting
Institutional Health Providers
respondent Lagman, if there is any conflict between the RH-IRR and the RH Law, the law must
The same holds true with respect to non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned prevail. ISHaCD
and operated by a religious group and health care service providers. Considering that Section 24 of
Justice Mendoza:
the RH Law penalizes such institutions should they fail or refuse to comply with their duty to refer
under Section 7 and Section 23 (a) (3), the Court deems that it must be struck down for being violative I'll go to another point. The RH law . . . in your Comment-in-Intervention on page 52,
of the freedom of religion. The same applies to Section 23 (a) (1) and (a) (2) in relation to Section 24, you mentioned RH Law is replete with provisions in upholding the
freedom of religion and respecting religious convictions. Earlier, you . . . which you are discussing awhile ago with Justice Abad. What is the compelling
affirmed this with qualifications. Now, you have read, I presumed you State interest in imposing this duty to refer to a conscientious objector
have read the IRR-Implementing Rules and Regulations of the RH Bill? which refuses to do so because of his religious belief?

Congressman Lagman: Senior State Solicitor Hilbay:

Yes, Your Honor, I have read but I have to admit, it's a long IRR and I have not Ahh, Your Honor, . . .
thoroughly dissected the nuances of the provisions.
Justice De Castro:
Justice Mendoza:
What is the compelling State interest to impose this burden?
I will read to you one provision. It's Section 5.24. This I cannot find in the RH Law.
But in the IRR it says: ". . . skilled health professionals such as provincial, Senior State Solicitor Hilbay:
city or municipal health officers, chief of hospitals, head nurses,
In the first place, Your Honor, I don't believe that the standard is a compelling
supervising midwives, among others, who by virtue of their office are
State interest, this is an ordinary health legislation involving
specifically charged with the duty to implement the provisions of the
professionals. This is not a free speech matter or a pure free exercise
RPRH Act and these Rules, cannot be considered as conscientious
matter. This is a regulation by the State of the relationship between
objectors." Do you agree with this?
medical doctors and their patients. 231
Congressman Lagman:
Resultantly, the Court finds no compelling state interest which would limit the free
I will have to go over again the provisions, Your Honor. exercise clause of the conscientious objectors, however few in number. Only the prevention of an
immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community can justify the infringement
Justice Mendoza: of religious freedom. If the government fails to show the seriousness and immediacy of the threat,
State intrusion is constitutionally unacceptable. 232
In other words, public health officers in contrast to the private practitioners who can
be conscientious objectors, skilled health professionals cannot be Freedom of religion means more than just the freedom to believe. It also
considered conscientious objectors. Do you agree with this? Is this not means the freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes. And this
against the constitutional right to the religious belief? freedom is violated when one is compelled to act against one's belief or is prevented
from acting according to one's belief. 233 HDIATS
Congressman Lagman:
Apparently, in these cases, there is no immediate danger to the life or health of an
Your Honor, if there is any conflict between the IRR and the law, the law must individual in the perceived scenario of the subject provisions. After all, a couple who plans the timing,
prevail. 230 number and spacing of the birth of their children refers to a future event that is contingent on whether
or not the mother decides to adopt or use the information, product, method or supply given to her or
Compelling State Interest whether she even decides to become pregnant at all. On the other hand, the burden placed upon
The foregoing discussion then begets the question on whether the respondents, in defense those who object to contraceptive use is immediate and occurs the moment a patient seeks
of the subject provisions, were able to: 1] demonstrate a more compelling state interest to restrain consultation on reproductive health matters.
conscientious objectors in their choice of services to render; and 2] discharge the burden of proof that Moreover, granting that a compelling interest exists to justify the infringement of the
the obligatory character of the law is the least intrusive means to achieve the objectives of the law. conscientious objector's religious freedom, the respondents have failed to demonstrate "the gravest
Unfortunately, a deep scrutiny of the respondents' submissions proved to be in vain. The abuses, endangering paramount interests" which could limit or override a person's fundamental right
OSG was curiously silent in the establishment of a more compelling state interest that would to religious freedom. Also, the respondents have not presented any government effort exerted to show
rationalize the curbing of a conscientious objector's right not to adhere to an action contrary to his that the means it takes to achieve its legitimate state objective is the least intrusive means.234 Other
religious convictions. During the oral arguments, the OSG maintained the same silence and evasion. than the assertion that the act of referring would only be momentary, considering that the act of referral
The Transcripts of the Stenographic Notes disclose the following: EHITaS by a conscientious objector is the very action being contested as violative of religious freedom, it
behooves the respondents to demonstrate that no other means can be undertaken by the State to
Justice De Castro: achieve its objective without violating the rights of the conscientious objector. The health concerns of
women may still be addressed by other practitioners who may perform reproductive health-related
Let's go back to the duty of the conscientious objector to refer. . . procedures with open willingness and motivation. Suffice it to say, a person who is forced to perform
Senior State Solicitor Hilbay: an act in utter reluctance deserves the protection of the Court as the last vanguard of constitutional
freedoms.
Yes, Justice.
At any rate, there are other secular steps already taken by the Legislature to ensure that the
Justice De Castro: right to health is protected. Considering other legislations as they stand now, R.A. No. 4729 or the
Contraceptive Act, R.A. No. 6365 or "The Population Act of the Philippines" and R.A. No. 9710, (b) Comprehensive Health Information and Education. — The State
otherwise known as "The Magna Cartaof Women," amply cater to the needs of women in relation to shall provide women in all sectors with appropriate, timely, complete, and accurate
health services and programs. The pertinent provision of Magna Carta on comprehensive health information and education on all the above-stated aspects of women's health in
services and programs for women, in fact, reads: government education and training programs, with due regard to the following:
Section 17. Women's Right to Health. — (a) Comprehensive Health (1) The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of
Services. — The State shall, at all times, provide for a comprehensive, the youth and the development of moral character and the right
culture-sensitive, and gender-responsive health services and programs covering all of children to be brought up in an atmosphere of morality and
stages of a woman's life cycle and which addresses the major causes of women's rectitude for the enrichment and strengthening of character;
mortality and morbidity: Provided, That in the provision for comprehensive health
services, due respect shall be accorded to women's religious convictions, the rights (2) The formation of a person's sexuality that affirms human dignity; and
of the spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions, and
the demands of responsible parenthood, and the right of women to protection from (3) Ethical, legal, safe, and effective family planning methods including
hazardous drugs, devices, interventions, and substances. DcaCSE fertility awareness.

Access to the following services shall be ensured: As an afterthought, Asst. Solicitor General Hilbay eventually replied that the compelling
state interest was "Fifteen maternal deaths per day, hundreds of thousands of unintended
(1) Maternal care to include pre- and post-natal services to address pregnancies, lives changed, . . . ." 235 He, however, failed to substantiate this point by concrete facts
pregnancy and infant health and nutrition; and figures from reputable sources.

(2) Promotion of breastfeeding; The undisputed fact, however, is that the World Health Organization reported that the
Filipino maternal mortality rate dropped to 48 percent from 1990 to 2008, 236 although there was still
(3) Responsible, ethical, legal, safe, and effective methods of family no RH Law at that time. Despite such revelation, the proponents still insist that such number of
planning; maternal deaths constitute a compelling state interest. aSTAcH

(4) Family and State collaboration in youth sexuality education and Granting that there are still deficiencies and flaws in the delivery of social healthcare
health services without prejudice to the primary right and duty programs for Filipino women, they could not be solved by a measure that puts an unwarrantable
of parents to educate their children; stranglehold on religious beliefs in exchange for blind conformity.

(5) Prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, Exception: Life Threatening Cases
including sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and AIDS; All this notwithstanding, the Court properly recognizes a valid exception set forth in the law.
While generally healthcare service providers cannot be forced to render reproductive health care
(6) Prevention and management of reproductive tract cancers like
procedures if doing it would contravene their religious beliefs, an exception must be made
breast and cervical cancers, and other gynecological
in life-threatening cases that require the performance of emergency procedures. In these situations,
conditions and disorders;
the right to life of the mother should be given preference, considering that a referral by a medical
(7) Prevention of abortion and management of pregnancy-related practitioner would amount to a denial of service, resulting to unnecessarily placing the life of a mother
complications; in grave danger. Thus, during the oral arguments, Atty. Liban, representing CFC, manifested: "the
forced referral clause that we are objecting on grounds of violation of freedom of religion does not
(8) In cases of violence against women and children, women and contemplate an emergency." 237
children victims and survivors shall be provided with
comprehensive health services that include psychosocial, In a conflict situation between the life of the mother and the life of a child, the doctor is
therapeutic, medical, and legal interventions and assistance morally obliged always to try to save both lives. If, however, it is impossible, the resulting death to one
towards healing, recovery, and empowerment; should not be deliberate. Atty. Noche explained:
Principle of Double-Effect. — May we please remind the principal
(9) Prevention and management of infertility and sexual dysfunction
author of the RH Bill in the House of Representatives of the principle of double-effect
pursuant to ethical norms and medical standards;
wherein intentional harm on the life of either the mother of the child is never justified
(10) Care of the elderly women beyond their child-bearing years; and to bring about a "good" effect. In a conflict situation between the life of the child and
the life of the mother, the doctor is morally obliged always to try to save both
(11) Management, treatment, and intervention of mental health lives. However, he can act in favor of one (not necessarily the mother) when it
problems of women and girls. In addition, healthy lifestyle ismedically impossible to save both, provided that no direct harm is intended to
activities are encouraged and promoted through programs and the other. If the above principles are observed, the loss of the child's life or the
projects as strategies in the prevention of diseases. ICaDHT mother's life is not intentional and, therefore, unavoidable. Hence, the doctor
would not be guilty of abortion or murder. The mother is never pitted against the
child because both their lives are equally valuable. 238
Accordingly, if it is necessary to save the life of a mother, procedures endangering the life of In this case, the RH Law, in its not-so-hidden desire to control population growth, contains
the child may be resorted to even if is against the religious sentiments of the medical practitioner. As provisions which tend to wreck the family as a solid social institution. It bars the husband and/or the
quoted above, whatever burden imposed upon a medical practitioner in this case would have been father from participating in the decision making process regarding their common future progeny. It
more than justified considering the life he would be able to save. EScAHT likewise deprives the parents of their authority over their minor daughter simply because she is already
a parent or had suffered a miscarriage.
Family Planning Seminars
The Family and Spousal Consent
Anent the requirement imposed under Section 15 239 as a condition for the issuance of a
marriage license, the Court finds the same to be a reasonable exercise of police power by the Section 23 (a) (2) (i) of the RH Law states:
government. A cursory reading of the assailed provision bares that the religious freedom of the
petitioners is not at all violated. All the law requires is for would-be spouses to attend a seminar on The following acts are prohibited:
parenthood, family planning breastfeeding and infant nutrition. It does not even mandate the type of (a) Any health care service provider, whether public or private, who shall: . . .
family planning methods to be included in the seminar, whether they be natural or artificial. As
correctly noted by the OSG, those who receive any information during their attendance in the required (2) refuse to perform legal and medically-safe reproductive health
seminars are not compelled to accept the information given to them, are completely free to reject the procedures on any person of legal age on the ground of lack of consent or
information they find unacceptable, and retain the freedom to decide on matters of family life without authorization of the following persons in the following instances: CTEaDc
the intervention of the State.
(i) Spousal consent in case of married persons: provided, That in case
4-The Family and the Right to Privacy of disagreement, the decision of the one undergoing the
Petitioner CFC assails the RH Law because Section 23 (a) (2) (i) thereof violates the procedures shall prevail. [Emphasis supplied]
provisions of the Constitution by intruding into marital privacy and autonomy. It argues that it cultivates
The above provision refers to reproductive health procedures like tubal litigation and
disunity and fosters animosity in the family rather than promote its solidarity and total
vasectomy which, by their very nature, should require mutual consent and decision between the
development. 240
husband and the wife as they affect issues intimately related to the founding of a family. Section 3, Art.
The Court cannot but agree. XV of the Constitution espouses that the State shall defend the "right of the spouses to found a family."
One person cannot found a family. The right, therefore, is shared by both spouses. In the same
The 1987 Constitution is replete with provisions strengthening the family as it is the basic Section 3, their right "to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that
social institution. In fact, one article, Article XV, is devoted entirely to the family. affect them" is equally recognized.
ARTICLE XV The RH Law cannot be allowed to infringe upon this mutual decision-making. By giving
absolute authority to the spouse who would undergo a procedure, and barring the other spouse from
THE FAMILY
participating in the decision would drive a wedge between the husband and wife, possibly result in
Section 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation bitter animosity, and endanger the marriage and the family, all for the sake of reducing the population.
of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its This would be a marked departure from the policy of the State to protect marriage as an inviolable
total development. social institution. 241
Decision-making involving a reproductive health procedure is a private matter which
Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation
belongs to the couple, not just one of them. Any decision they would reach would affect their future as
of the family and shall be protected by the State.
a family because the size of the family or the number of their children significantly matters. The
Section 3. The State shall defend: decision whether or not to undergo the procedure belongs exclusively to, and shared by, both spouses
as one cohesive unit as they chart their own destiny. It is a constitutionally guaranteed private
The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with right. Unless it prejudices the State, which has not shown any compelling interest, the State should
their religious convictions and the demands of responsible see to it that they chart their destiny together as one family.
parenthood; DcTaEH
As highlighted by Justice Leonardo-de Castro, Section 19 (c) of R.A. No. 9710, otherwise
The right of children to assistance, including proper care and known as the "Magna Carta for Women," provides that women shall have equal rights in all matters
nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, relating to marriage and family relations, including the joint decision on the number and spacing of
exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to their development; their children. Indeed, responsible parenthood, as Section 3 (v) of the RH Law states, is a shared
responsibility between parents. Section 23 (a) (2) (i) of the RH Law should not be allowed to betray
The right of the family to a family living wage and income; and the constitutional mandate to protect and strengthen the family by giving to only one spouse the
absolute authority to decide whether to undergo reproductive health procedure. 242 TaCDcE
The right of families or family associations to participate in the
planning and implementation of policies and programs that affect The right to chart their own destiny together falls within the protected zone of marital privacy
them. and such state intervention would encroach into the zones of spousal privacy guaranteed by the
Constitution. In our jurisdiction, the right to privacy was first recognized in Morfe v. Mutuc, 243 where
the Court, speaking through Chief Justice Fernando, held that "the right to privacy as such is accorded To insist on a rule that interferes with the right of parents to exercise parental control over
recognition independently of its identification with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional their minor-child or the right of the spouses to mutually decide on matters which very well affect the
protection." 244 Morfe adopted the ruling of the US Supreme Court in Griswold v. very purpose of marriage, that is, the establishment of conjugal and family life, would result in the
Connecticut, 245 where Justice William O. Douglas wrote: violation of one's privacy with respect to his family. It would be dismissive of the unique and
strongly-held Filipino tradition of maintaining close family ties and violative of the recognition that the
We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights — older than State affords couples entering into the special contract of marriage to as one unit in forming the
our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for foundation of the family and society.
better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It
is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not The State cannot, without a compelling state interest, take over the role of parents in the
political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an care and custody of a minor child, whether or not the latter is already a parent or has had a miscarriage.
association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions. Only a compelling state interest can justify a state substitution of their parental authority.

Ironically, Griswold invalidated a Connecticut statute which made the use of contraceptives First Exception: Access to Information
a criminal offense on the ground of its amounting to an unconstitutional invasion of the right to privacy
Whether with respect to the minor referred to under the exception provided in the second
of married persons. Nevertheless, it recognized the zone of privacy rightfully enjoyed by couples.
paragraph of Section 7 or with respect to the consenting spouse under Section 23 (a) (2) (i), a
Justice Douglas inGriswold wrote that "specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras,
distinction must be made. There must be a differentiation between access to information about family
formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. Various
planning services, on one hand, and access to the reproductive health procedures and modern family
guarantees create zones of privacy." 246
planning methods themselves, on the other. Insofar as access to information is concerned, the Court
At any rate, in case of conflict between the couple, the courts will decide. aEHASI finds no constitutional objection to the acquisition of information by the minor referred to under the
exception in the second paragraph of Section 7 that would enable her to take proper care of her own
The Family and Parental Consent body and that of her unborn child. After all, Section 12, Article II of the Constitution mandates the State
Equally deplorable is the debarment of parental consent in cases where the minor, who will to protect both the life of the mother as that of the unborn child. Considering that information to enable
be undergoing a procedure, is already a parent or has had a miscarriage. Section 7 of the RH law a person to make informed decisions is essential in the protection and maintenance of ones' health,
provides: access to such information with respect to reproductive health must be allowed. In this situation, the
fear that parents might be deprived of their parental control is unfounded because they are not
SEC. 7. Access to Family Planning. — . . . . prohibited to exercise parental guidance and control over their minor child and assist her in deciding
whether to accept or reject the information received. SAHITC
No person shall be denied information and access to family planning
services, whether natural or artificial: Provided, That minors will not be allowed Second Exception: Life Threatening Cases
access to modern methods of family planning without written consent from their
As in the case of the conscientious objector, an exception must be made in life-threatening
parents or guardian/s except when the minor is already a parent or has had a
cases that require the performance of emergency procedures. In such cases, the life of the minor who
miscarriage.HIaAED
has already suffered a miscarriage and that of the spouse should not be put at grave risk simply for
There can be no other interpretation of this provision except that when a minor is already a lack of consent. It should be emphasized that no person should be denied the appropriate medical
parent or has had a miscarriage, the parents are excluded from the decision making process of the care urgently needed to preserve the primordial right, that is, the right to life.
minor with regard to family planning. Even if she is not yet emancipated, the parental authority is In this connection, the second sentence of Section 23 (a) (2) (ii) 249 should be struck down.
already cut off just because there is a need to tame population growth. By effectively limiting the requirement of parental consent to "only in elective surgical procedures," it
It is precisely in such situations when a minor parent needs the comfort, care, advice, and denies the parents their right of parental authority in cases where what is involved are "non-surgical
guidance of her own parents. The State cannot replace her natural mother and father when it comes to procedures." Save for the two exceptions discussed above, and in the case of an abused child as
providing her needs and comfort. To say that their consent is no longer relevant is clearly anti-family. It provided in the first sentence of Section 23 (a) (2) (ii), the parents should not be deprived of their
does not promote unity in the family. It is an affront to the constitutional mandate to protect and constitutional right of parental authority. To deny them of this right would be an affront to the
strengthen the family as an inviolable social institution. constitutional mandate to protect and strengthen the family.

More alarmingly, it disregards and disobeys the constitutional mandate that "the natural and 5-Academic Freedom
primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of It is asserted that Section 14 of the RH Law, in relation to Section 24 thereof, mandating the
moral character shall receive the support of the Government." 247 In this regard, Commissioner teaching of Age- and Development-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education under threat of fine
Bernas wrote: and/or imprisonment violates the principle of academic freedom. According to the petitioners, these
The 1987 provision has added the adjective "primary" to modify the right provisions effectively force educational institutions to teach reproductive health education even if they
of parents. It imports the assertion that the right of parents is superior to that believe that the same is not suitable to be taught to their students. 250 Citing various studies
of the State. 248 [Emphases supplied] conducted in the United States and statistical data gathered in the country, the petitioners aver that the
prevalence of contraceptives has led to an increase of out-of-wedlock births; divorce and breakdown
of families; the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia; the "feminization of poverty"; the aging of health information under Section 23 (a) (1), or from rendering reproductive health procedures under
society; and promotion of promiscuity among the youth. 251 ScCEIA Section 23 (a) (2).
At this point, suffice it to state that any attack on the validity of Section 14 of the RH Law Finally, it is averred that the RH Law punishes the withholding, restricting and providing of
is premature because the Department of Education, Culture and Sports has yet to formulate a incorrect information, but at the same time fails to define "incorrect information."
curriculum on age-appropriate reproductive health education. One can only speculate on the content,
manner and medium of instruction that will be used to educate the adolescents and whether they will The arguments fail to persuade. AHCTEa
contradict the religious beliefs of the petitioners and validate their apprehensions. Thus, considering A statute or act suffers from the defect of vagueness when it lacks comprehensible
the premature nature of this particular issue, the Court declines to rule on its constitutionality or standards that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess its meaning and differ as to its
validity. application. It is repugnant to the Constitution in two respects: (1) it violates due process for failure to
At any rate, Section 12, Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides that the natural and accord persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of the conduct to avoid; and (2) it
primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and development of leaves law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary
flexing of the Government muscle. 255 Moreover, in determining whether the words used in a statute
moral character shall receive the support of the Government. Like the 1973 Constitution and the 1935
Constitution, the 1987 Constitution affirms the State recognition of the invaluable role of parents in are vague, words must not only be taken in accordance with their plain meaning alone, but also in
preparing the youth to become productive members of society. Notably, it places more importance on relation to other parts of the statute. It is a rule that every part of the statute must be interpreted with
the role of parents in the development of their children by recognizing that said role shall be "primary," reference to the context, that is, every part of it must be construed together with the other parts and
that is, that the right of parents in upbringing the youth is superior to that of the State. 252 kept subservient to the general intent of the whole enactment. 256

It is also the inherent right of the State to act as parens patriae to aid parents in the moral As correctly noted by the OSG, in determining the definition of "private health care service
development of the youth. Indeed, the Constitution makes mention of the importance of developing the provider," reference must be made to Section 4 (n) of the RH Law which defines a "public health
youth and their important role in nation building. 253 Considering that Section 14 provides not only for service provider," viz.:
the age-appropriate-reproductive health education, but also for values formation; the development of (n) Public health care service provider refers to: (1) public health care
knowledge and skills in self-protection against discrimination; sexual abuse and violence against institution, which is duly licensed and accredited and devoted primarily to the
women and children and other forms of gender based violence and teen pregnancy; physical, social maintenance and operation of facilities for health promotion, disease prevention,
and emotional changes in adolescents; women's rights and children's rights; responsible teenage diagnosis, treatment and care of individuals suffering from illness, disease, injury,
behavior; gender and development; and responsible parenthood, and that Rule 10, Section 11.01 of disability or deformity, or in need of obstetrical or other medical and nursing care; (2)
the RH-IRR and Section 4 (t) of the RH Law itself provides for the teaching of responsible teenage public health care professional, who is a doctor of medicine, a nurse or a midwife; (3)
behavior, gender sensitivity and physical and emotional changes among adolescents — the Court public health worker engaged in the delivery of health care services; or (4) barangay
finds that the legal mandate provided under the assailed provision supplements, rather than supplants, health worker who has undergone training programs under any accredited
the rights and duties of the parents in the moral development of their children. government and NGO and who voluntarily renders primarily health care services in
Furthermore, as Section 14 also mandates that the mandatory reproductive health the community after having been accredited to function as such by the local health
education program shall be developed in conjunction with parent-teacher-community associations, board in accordance with the guidelines promulgated by the Department of Health
school officials and other interest groups, it could very well be said that it will be in line with the (DOH). ACIDTE
religious beliefs of the petitioners. By imposing such a condition, it becomes apparent that the Further, the use of the term "private health care institution" in Section 7 of the law, instead of
petitioners' contention that Section 14 violates Article XV, Section 3 (1) of the Constitution is without "private health care service provider," should not be a cause of confusion for the obvious reason that
merit.254 aDSHCc they are used synonymously.
While the Court notes the possibility that educators might raise their objection to their The Court need not belabor the issue of whether the right to be exempt from being obligated
participation in the reproductive health education program provided under Section 14 of the RH Law to render reproductive health service and modern family planning methods, includes exemption from
on the ground that the same violates their religious beliefs, the Court reserves its judgment should an being obligated to give reproductive health information and to render reproductive health procedures.
actual case be filed before it. Clearly, subject to the qualifications and exemptions earlier discussed, the right to be exempt from
6-Due Process being obligated to render reproductive health service and modern family planning
methods, necessarily includes exemption from being obligated to give reproductive health
The petitioners contend that the RH Law suffers from vagueness and, thus violates the due information and to render reproductive health procedures. The terms "service" and "methods" are
process clause of the Constitution. According to them, Section 23 (a) (1) mentions a "private health broad enough to include the providing of information and the rendering of medical procedures.
service provider" among those who may be held punishable but does not define who is a "private
health care service provider." They argue that confusion further results since Section 7 only makes The same can be said with respect to the contention that the RH Law punishes health care
reference to a "private health care institution." service providers who intentionally withhold, restrict and provide incorrect information regarding
reproductive health programs and services. For ready reference, the assailed provision is hereby
The petitioners also point out that Section 7 of the assailed legislation exempts hospitals quoted as follows:
operated by religious groups from rendering reproductive healthservice and modern family planning
methods. It is unclear, however, if these institutions are also exempt from giving reproductive SEC. 23. Prohibited Acts. — The following acts are prohibited:
(a) Any health care service provider, whether public or private, who authorities." "In other words, the concept of equal justice under the law requires the
shall: state to govern impartially, and it may not draw distinctions between individuals
solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective."
(1) Knowingly withhold information or restrict the dissemination thereof,
and/or intentionally provide incorrect information regarding The equal protection clause is aimed at all official state actions, not just
programs and services on reproductive health including the those of the legislature. Its inhibitions cover all the departments of the government
right to informed choice and access to a full range of legal, including the political and executive departments, and extend to all actions of a state
medically-safe, non-abortifacient and effective family planning denying equal protection of the laws, through whatever agency or whatever guise is
methods; STaCcA taken. DHCSTa

From its plain meaning, the word "incorrect" here denotes failing to agree with a copy or It, however, does not require the universal application of the laws to
model or with established rules; inaccurate, faulty; failing to agree with the requirements of duty, all persons or things without distinction. What it simply requires is equality
morality or propriety; and failing to coincide with the truth. 257 On the other hand, the word "knowingly" among equals as determined according to a valid classification. Indeed, the equal
means with awareness or deliberateness that is intentional. 258 Used together in relation to Section protection clause permits classification. Such classification, however, to be valid
23 (a) (1), they connote a sense of malice and ill motive to mislead or misrepresent the public as to the must pass the test of reasonableness. The test has four requisites: (1) The
nature and effect of programs and services on reproductive health. Public health and safety demand classification rests on substantial distinctions; (2) It is germane to the purpose of the
that health care service providers give their honest and correct medical information in accordance with law; (3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and (4) It applies equally to all
what is acceptable in medical practice. While health care service providers are not barred from members of the same class. "Superficial differences do not make for a valid
expressing their own personal opinions regarding the programs and services on reproductive health, classification."
their right must be tempered with the need to provide public health and safety. The public deserves no
less. For a classification to meet the requirements of constitutionality, it
must include or embrace all persons who naturally belong to the class. "The
7-Equal Protection classification will be regarded as invalid if all the members of the class are not
similarly treated, both as to rights conferred and obligations imposed. It is not
The petitioners also claim that the RH Law violates the equal protection clause under the
necessary that the classification be made with absolute symmetry, in the sense that
Constitution as it discriminates against the poor because it makes them the primary target of the
the members of the class should possess the same characteristics in equal degree.
government program that promotes contraceptive use. They argue that, rather than promoting
Substantial similarity will suffice; and as long as this is achieved, all those covered
reproductive health among the poor, the RH Law introduces contraceptives that would effectively
by the classification are to be treated equally. The mere fact that an individual
reduce the number of the poor. Their bases are the various provisions in the RH Law dealing with the
belonging to a class differs from the other members, as long as that class is
poor, especially those mentioned in the guiding principles 259 and definition of terms 260 of the law.
substantially distinguishable from all others, does not justify the non-application of
They add that the exclusion of private educational institutions from the mandatory the law to him." IECAaD
reproductive health education program imposed by the RH Law renders it unconstitutional. ScTIAH
The classification must not be based on existing circumstances only, or
In Biraogo v. Philippine Truth Commission, 261 the Court had the occasion to expound on so constituted as to preclude addition to the number included in the class. It must be
the concept of equal protection. Thus: of such a nature as to embrace all those who may thereafter be in similar
circumstances and conditions. It must not leave out or "underinclude" those that
One of the basic principles on which this government was founded is that
should otherwise fall into a certain classification. [Emphases supplied; citations
of the equality of right which is embodied in Section 1, Article III of the 1987
excluded]
Constitution. The equal protection of the laws is embraced in the concept of due
process, as every unfair discrimination offends the requirements of justice and fair To provide that the poor are to be given priority in the government's reproductive health care
play. It has been embodied in a separate clause, however, to provide for a more program is not a violation of the equal protection clause. In fact, it is pursuant to Section 11, Article XIII
specific guaranty against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from the of the Constitution which recognizes the distinct necessity to address the needs of the underprivileged
government. Arbitrariness in general may be challenged on the basis of the due by providing that they be given priority in addressing the health development of the people. Thus:
process clause. But if the particular act assailed partakes of an unwarranted
partiality on prejudice, the sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection Section 11. The State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive
clause. approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods,
health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost. There
"According to a long line of decisions, equal protection simply requires shall be priority for the needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled,
that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to women, and children. The State shall endeavor to provide free medical care to
rights conferred and responsibilities imposed." It "requires public bodies and paupers.
institutions to treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner." "The purpose
of the equal protection clause is to secure every person within a state's jurisdiction It should be noted that Section 7 of the RH Law prioritizes poor and marginalized
against intentional and arbitrary discrimination, whether occasioned by the express couples who are suffering from fertility issues and desire to have children. There is, therefore, no merit
terms of a statute or by its improper execution through the state's duly constituted to the contention that the RH Law only seeks to target the poor to reduce their number. While the RH
Law admits the use of contraceptives, it does not, as elucidated above, sanction abortion. As Section necessary incentive imposed by Congress in the furtherance of a perceived legitimate state
3 (l) explains, the "promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate is incidental to the interest. EAICTS
advancement of reproductive health."
Consistent with what the Court had earlier discussed, however, it should be emphasized
Moreover, the RH Law does not prescribe the number of children a couple may have and that conscientious objectors are exempt from this provision as long as their religious beliefs and
does not impose conditions upon couples who intend to have children. While the petitioners surmise convictions do not allow them to render reproductive health service, pro bono or otherwise.
that the assailed law seeks to charge couples with the duty to have children only if they would raise
them in a truly humane way, a deeper look into its provisions shows that what the law seeks to do is to 9-Delegation of Authority to the FDA
simply provide priority to the poor in the implementation of government programs to promote basic The petitioners likewise question the delegation by Congress to the FDA of the power to
reproductive health care. determine whether or not a supply or product is to be included in the Essential Drugs List (EDL). 266
With respect to the exclusion of private educational institutions from the mandatory The Court finds nothing wrong with the delegation. The FDA does not only have the power
reproductive health education program under Section 14, suffice it to state that the mere fact that the but also the competency to evaluate, register and cover health services and methods. It is the only
children of those who are less fortunate attend public educational institutions does not amount to government entity empowered to render such services and highly proficient to do so. It should be
substantial distinction sufficient to annul the assailed provision. On the other hand, substantial understood that health services and methods fall under the gamut of terms that are associated with
distinction rests between public educational institutions and private educational institutions, what is ordinarily understood as "health products." In this connection, Section 4 of R.A. No. 3720, as
particularly because there is a need to recognize the academic freedom of private educational amended by R.A. No. 9711 reads:
institutions especially with respect to religious instruction and to consider their sensitivity towards the
teaching of reproductive health education. SEC. 4. To carry out the provisions of this Act, there is hereby created
an office to be called the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Department of
8-Involuntary Servitude Health (DOH). Said Administration shall be under the Office of the Secretary and
shall have the following functions, powers and duties: TcaAID
The petitioners also aver that the RH Law is constitutionally infirm as it violates the
constitutional prohibition against involuntary servitude. They posit that Section 17 of the assailed "(a) To administer the effective implementation of this Act and of the
legislation requiring private and non-government health care service providers to render forty-eight (48) rules and regulations issued pursuant to the same;
hours of pro bono reproductive health services, actually amounts to involuntary servitude because it
requires medical practitioners to perform acts against their will. 262 "(b) To assume primary jurisdiction in the collection of samples of health
products;
The OSG counters that the rendition of pro bono services envisioned in Section 17 can
hardly be considered as forced labor analogous to slavery, as reproductive health care service "(c) To analyze and inspect health products in connection with the
providers have the discretion as to the manner and time of giving pro bono services. Moreover, the implementation of this Act;
OSG points out that the imposition is within the powers of the government, the accreditation of medical
practitioners with PhilHealth being a privilege and not a right. "(d) To establish analytical data to serve as basis for the preparation of
health products standards, and to recommend standards of identity, purity, safety,
The point of the OSG is well-taken. EIcSTD
efficacy, quality and fill of container;
It should first be mentioned that the practice of medicine is undeniably imbued with public
"(e) To issue certificates of compliance with technical requirements to
interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State to control and regulate it in order to protect and
serve as basis for the issuance of appropriate authorization and spot-check for
promote the public welfare. Like the legal profession, the practice of medicine is not a right but a
compliance with regulations regarding operation of manufacturers, importers,
privileged burdened with conditions as it directly involves the very lives of the people. A fortiori, this
exporters, distributors, wholesalers, drug outlets, and other establishments and
power includes the power of Congress 263 to prescribe the qualifications for the practice of
facilities of health products, as determined by the FDA;
professions or trades which affect the public welfare, the public health, the public morals, and the
public safety; and to regulate or control such professions or trades, even to the point of revoking such "xxx xxx xxx
right altogether. 264
"(h) To conduct appropriate tests on all applicable health products
Moreover, as some petitioners put it, the notion of involuntary servitude connotes the
prior to the issuance of appropriate authorizations to ensure safety, efficacy,
presence of force, threats, intimidation or other similar means of coercion and compulsion. 265 A
purity, and quality;
reading of the assailed provision, however, reveals that it only encourages private and
non-government reproductive healthcare service providers to render pro bono service. Other than "(i) To require all manufacturers, traders, distributors, importers,
non-accreditation with PhilHealth, no penalty is imposed should they choose to do otherwise. Private exporters, wholesalers, retailers, consumers, and non-consumer users of health
and non-government reproductive healthcare service providers also enjoy the liberty to choose which products to report to the FDA any incident that reasonably indicates that said
kind of health service they wish to provide, when, where and how to provide it or whether to provide it product has caused or contributed to the death, serious illness or serious injury to a
all. Clearly, therefore, no compulsion, force or threat is made upon them to render pro bono service consumer, a patient, or any person; TDEASC
against their will. While the rendering of such service was made a prerequisite to accreditation with
PhilHealth, the Court does not consider the same to be an unreasonable burden, but rather, a
"(j) To issue cease and desist orders motu propio or upon verified While the aforementioned provision charges the LGUs to take on the functions and
complaint for health products, whether or not registered with the responsibilities that have already been devolved upon them from the national agencies on the aspect
FDA Provided, That for registered health products, the cease and desist order is of providing for basic services and facilities in their respective jurisdictions, paragraph (c) of the
valid for thirty (30) days and may be extended for sixty (60) days only after due same provision provides a categorical exception of cases involving nationally-funded projects,
process has been observed; facilities, programs and services. 268 Thus:

"(k) After due process, to order the ban, recall, and/or withdrawal (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) hereof, public
of any health product found to have caused death, serious illness or serious works and infrastructure projects and other facilities, programs and
injury to a consumer or patient, or is found to be imminently injurious, unsafe, servicesfunded by the National Government under the annual General
dangerous, or grossly deceptive, and to require all concerned to implement the Appropriations Act, other special laws, pertinent executive orders, and those wholly
risk management plan which is a requirement for the issuance of the appropriate or partially funded from foreign sources, are not covered under this Section,
authorization; except in those cases where the local government unit concerned is duly
designated as the implementing agency for such projects, facilities, programs
xxx xxx xxx. and services. [Emphases supplied]

As can be gleaned from the above, the functions, powers and duties of the FDA are specific The essence of this express reservation of power by the national government is that, unless
to enable the agency to carry out the mandates of the law. Being the country's premiere and sole an LGU is particularly designated as the implementing agency, it has no power over a program for
agency that ensures the safety of food and medicines available to the public, the FDA was equipped which funding has been provided by the national government under the annual general appropriations
with the necessary powers and functions to make it effective. Pursuant to the principle of necessary act, even if the program involves the delivery of basic services within the jurisdiction of the LGU. 269 A
implication, the mandate by Congress to the FDA to ensure public health and safety by permitting only complete relinquishment of central government powers on the matter of providing basic facilities and
food and medicines that are safe includes "service" and "methods." From the declared policy of the RH services cannot be implied as the Local Government Code itself weighs against it. 270
Law, it is clear that Congress intended that the public be given only those medicines that are proven
medically safe, legal, non-abortifacient, and effective in accordance with scientific and In this case, a reading of the RH Law clearly shows that whether it pertains to the
evidence-based medical research standards. The philosophy behind the permitted delegation was establishment of health care facilities, 271 the hiring of skilled health professionals, 272 or the training
explained in Echegaray v. Secretary of Justice, 267 as follows: cDEICH of barangay health workers, 273 it will be the national government that will provide for the funding of
its implementation. Local autonomy is not absolute. The national government still has the say when it
The reason is the increasing complexity of the task of the government and comes to national priority programs which the local government is called upon to implement like the
the growing inability of the legislature to cope directly with the many problems RH Law.
demanding its attention. The growth of society has ramified its activities and created
peculiar and sophisticated problems that the legislature cannot be expected Moreover, from the use of the word "endeavor," the LGUs are merely encouraged to provide
reasonably to comprehend. Specialization even in legislation has become these services. There is nothing in the wording of the law which can be construed as making the
necessary. To many of the problems attendant upon present day undertakings, the availability of these services mandatory for the LGUs. For said reason, it cannot be said that the RH
legislature may not have the competence, let alone the interest and the time, to Law amounts to an undue encroachment by the national government upon the autonomy enjoyed by
provide the required direct and efficacious, not to say specific solutions. the local governments. EHSTDA
The ARMM
10-Autonomy of Local Governments and the Autonomous Region
of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) The fact that the RH Law does not intrude in the autonomy of local governments can be
equally applied to the ARMM. The RH Law does not infringe upon its autonomy. Moreover, Article III,
As for the autonomy of local governments, the petitioners claim that the RH Law infringes
Sections 6, 10 and 11 of R.A. No. 9054, or the organic act of the ARMM, alluded to by
upon the powers devolved to local government units (LGUs) under Section 17 of the Local
petitioner Tillah to justify the exemption of the operation of the RH Law in the autonomous region, refer
Government Code. Said Section 17 vested upon the LGUs the duties and functions pertaining to the
to the policy statements for the guidance of the regional government. These provisions relied upon by
delivery of basic services and facilities, as follows:
the petitioners simply delineate the powers that may be exercised by the regional government, which
SECTION 17. Basic Services and Facilities. — can, in no manner, be characterized as an abdication by the State of its power to enact legislation that
would benefit the general welfare. After all, despite the veritable autonomy granted the ARMM, the
(a) Local government units shall endeavor to be self-reliant and shall Constitution and the supporting jurisprudence, as they now stand, reject the notion of imperium et
continue exercising the powers and discharging the duties and functions currently imperio in the relationship between the national and the regional governments. 274Except for the
vested upon them. They shall also discharge the functions and responsibilities of express and implied limitations imposed on it by the Constitution, Congress cannot be restricted to
national agencies and offices devolved to them pursuant to this Code. Local exercise its inherent and plenary power to legislate on all subjects which extends to all matters of
government units shall likewise exercise such other powers and discharge such general concern or common interest. 275
other functions and responsibilities as are necessary, appropriate, or incidental to
efficient and effective provision of the basic services and facilities enumerated 11-Natural Law
herein. HcSCED With respect to the argument that the RH Law violates natural law, 276 suffice it to say that
(b) Such basic services and facilities include, but are not limited to, . . . . the Court does not duly recognize it as a legal basis for upholding or invalidating a law. Our only
guidepost is the Constitution. While every law enacted by man emanated from what is perceived as . . . . But this Court cannot go beyond what the legislature has laid down.
natural law, the Court is not obliged to see if a statute, executive issuance or ordinance is in conformity Its duty is to say what the law is as enacted by the lawmaking body. That is not the
to it. To begin with, it is not enacted by an acceptable legitimate body. Moreover, natural laws are mere same as saying what the law should be or what is the correct rule in a given set of
thoughts and notions on inherent rights espoused by theorists, philosophers and theologists. The circumstances. It is not the province of the judiciary to look into the wisdom of
jurists of the philosophical school are interested in the law as an abstraction, rather than in the actual the law nor to question the policies adopted by the legislative branch. Nor is it
law of the past or present. 277 Unless, a natural right has been transformed into a written law, it the business of this Tribunal to remedy every unjust situation that may arise
cannot serve as a basis to strike down a law. In Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 278 the very case cited from the application of a particular law. It is for the legislature to enact
by the petitioners, it was explained that the Court is not duty-bound to examine every law or action and remedial legislation if that would be necessary in the premises. But as always,
whether it conforms with both the Constitution and natural law. Rather, natural law is to be used with apt judicial caution and cold neutrality, the Court must carry out the delicate
sparingly only in the most peculiar of circumstances involving rights inherent to man where no law is function of interpreting the law, guided by the Constitution and existing legislation
applicable. 279 aCHcIE and mindful of settled jurisprudence. The Court's function is therefore limited, and
accordingly, must confine itself to the judicial task of saying what the law is, as
At any rate, as earlier expounded, the RH Law does not sanction the taking away of life. It enacted by the lawmaking body. 281
does not allow abortion in any shape or form. It only seeks to enhance the population control program
of the government by providing information and making non-abortifacient contraceptives more readily Be that as it may, it bears reiterating that the RH Law is a mere compilation
available to the public, especially to the poor. and enhancement of the prior existing contraceptive and reproductive health laws, but with coercive
measures. Even if the Court decrees the RH Law as entirely unconstitutional, there will still be the
Facts and Fallacies
Population Act (R.A. No. 6365), the Contraceptive Act (R.A. No. 4729) and the reproductive health for
and the Wisdom of the Law
women or The Magna Carta of Women (R.A. No. 9710), sans the coercive provisions of the assailed
In general, the Court does not find the RH Law as unconstitutional insofar as it seeks to legislation. All the same, the principle of "no-abortion" and "non-coercion" in the adoption of any family
provide access to medically-safe, non-abortifacient, effective, legal, affordable, and quality planning method should be maintained.
reproductive healthcare services, methods, devices, and supplies. As earlier pointed out, however, the
WHEREFORE, the petitions are PARTIALLY GRANTED. Accordingly, the Court declares
religious freedom of some sectors of society cannot be trampled upon in pursuit of what the law hopes
R.A. No. 10354 as NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL except with respect to the following provisions which
to achieve. After all, the Constitutional safeguard to religious freedom is a recognition that man stands
are declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL: SCEDAI
accountable to an authority higher than the State.
1] Section 7 and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR insofar as they: a) require
In conformity with the principle of separation of Church and State, one religious group
private health facilities and non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned and operated by a
cannot be allowed to impose its beliefs on the rest of the society. Philippine modern society leaves
religious group to refer patients, not in an emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under
enough room for diversity and pluralism. As such, everyone should be tolerant and open-minded so
Republic Act No. 8344, to another health facility which is conveniently accessible; and b) allow
that peace and harmony may continue to reign as we exist alongside each other.
minor-parents or minors who have suffered a miscarriage access to modern methods of family
As healthful as the intention of the RH Law may be, the idea does not escape the Court that planning without written consent from their parents or guardian/s;
what it seeks to address is the problem of rising poverty and unemployment in the country. Let it be
2] Section 23 (a) (1) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR, particularly Section
said that the cause of these perennial issues is not the large population but the unequal distribution of
5.24 thereof, insofar as they punish any healthcare service provider who fails and or refuses to
wealth. Even if population growth is controlled, poverty will remain as long as the country's wealth
disseminate information regarding programs and services on reproductive health regardless of his or
remains in the hands of the very few. cACTaI
her religious beliefs.
At any rate, population control may not be beneficial for the country in the long run. The
3] Section 23 (a) (2) (i) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR insofar as they allow
European and Asian countries, which embarked on such a program generations ago, are now
a married individual, not in an emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under Republic Act No.
burdened with ageing populations. The number of their young workers is dwindling with adverse
8344, to undergo reproductive health procedures without the consent of the spouse;
effects on their economy. These young workers represent a significant human capital which could
have helped them invigorate, innovate and fuel their economy. These countries are now trying to 4] Section 23 (a) (2) (ii) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR insofar as they limit
reverse their programs, but they are still struggling. For one, Singapore, even with incentives, is failing. the requirement of parental consent only to elective surgical procedures.
And in this country, the economy is being propped up by remittances from our Overseas 5] Section 23 (a) (3) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR, particularly Section
Filipino Workers. This is because we have an ample supply of young able-bodied workers. What 5.24 thereof, insofar as they punish any healthcare service provider who fails and/or refuses to refer a
would happen if the country would be weighed down by an ageing population and the fewer younger patient not in an emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under Republic Act No. 8344, to
generation would not be able to support them? This would be the situation when our total fertility rate another health care service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible
would go down below the replacement level of two (2) children per woman. 280 regardless of his or her religious beliefs; SDAaTC
Indeed, at the present, the country has a population problem, but the State should not use 6] Section 23 (b) and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR, particularly Section 5.24
coercive measures (like the penal provisions of the RH Law against conscientious objectors) to solve it. thereof, insofar as they punish any public officer who refuses to support reproductive health programs
Nonetheless, the policy of the Court is non-interference in the wisdom of a law. SDHITE or shall do any act that hinders the full implementation of a reproductive health program, regardless of
his or her religious beliefs;
7] Section 17 and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR regarding the rendering of pro
bono reproductive health service in so far as they affect the conscientious objector in securing
PhilHealth accreditation; and
8] Section 3.01 (a) and Section 3.01 (j) of the RH-IRR, which added the qualifier "primarily"
in defining abortifacients and contraceptives, as they are ultra viresand, therefore, null and void for
contravening Section 4 (a) of the RH Law and violating Section 12, Article II of the Constitution.
The Status Quo Ante Order issued by the Court on March 19, 2013 as extended by its Order,
dated July 16, 2013, is hereby LIFTED, insofar as the provisions of R.A. No. 10354 which have been
herein declared as constitutional.
SO ORDERED.
Velasco, Jr., Peralta, Bersamin, Villarama, Jr. and Perez, JJ., concur.
Sereno, C.J., tingnan ang aking opinyong sumasang-ayon at sumasalungat.
Carpio and Abad, JJ., see concurring opinion.
Leonardo-de Castro, J., with separate concurring opinion.
Brion, J., see: separate concurring opinion.
Del Castillo, Reyes and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., see concurring and dissenting opinion.
Leonen, J., see separate dissent.
||| (Spouses Imbong v. Ochoa, Jr., G.R. Nos. 204819, 204934, 204957, 204988, 205003, 205043, 205138,
205478, 205491, 205720, 206355, 207111, 207172 & 207563, [April 8, 2014], 732 PHIL 1-99)
N BANC accreditation was denied on the ground that the organization had no substantial membership
base. On August 17, 2009, Ang Ladlad again filed a Petition 5 for registration with the COMELEC.

[G.R. No. 190582. April 8, 2010.] Before the COMELEC, petitioner argued that the LGBT community is a marginalized and
under-represented sector that is particularly disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation and
gender identity; that LGBTs are victims of exclusion, discrimination, and violence; that because of
ANG LADLAD LGBT PARTY represented herein by its Chair, DANTON negative societal attitudes, LGBTs are constrained to hide their sexual orientation; and
REMOTO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent. that Ang Ladlad complied with the 8-point guidelines enunciated by this Court in Ang Bagong
Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections. 6 Ang Ladlad laid out its national
membership base consisting of individual members and organizational supporters, and outlined its
platform of governance. 7
DECISION On November 11, 2009, after admitting the petitioner's evidence, the COMELEC (Second
Division) dismissed the Petition on moral grounds, stating that:
. . . This Petition is dismissible on moral grounds. Petitioner defines the
DEL CASTILLO, J p: Filipino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community, thus:

. . . a marginalized and under-represented sector that is


. . . [F]reedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. particularly disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation and gender
That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to identity.
differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.
and proceeded to define sexual orientation as that which:
Justice Robert A. Jackson
. . . refers to a person's capacity for profound emotional,
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette 1 affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with,
individuals of a different gender, of the same gender, or more than one
One unavoidable consequence of everyone having the freedom to choose is that others
gender."
may make different choices — choices we would not make for ourselves, choices we may disapprove
of, even choices that may shock or offend or anger us. However, choices are not to be legally This definition of the LGBT sector makes it crystal clear that petitioner
prohibited merely because they are different, and the right to disagree and debate about important tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs. In Romans 1:26, 27, Paul wrote:
questions of public policy is a core value protected by our Bill of Rights. Indeed, our democracy is
built on genuine recognition of, and respect for, diversity and difference in opinion. For this cause God gave them up into vile affections, for even
their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Since ancient times, society has grappled with deep disagreements about the definitions
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned
and demands of morality. In many cases, where moral convictions are concerned, harmony among
in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is
those theoretically opposed is an insurmountable goal. Yet herein lies the paradox — philosophical
unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error
justifications about what is moral are indispensable and yet at the same time powerless to create
which was meet.
agreement. This Court recognizes, however, that practical solutions are preferable to ideological
stalemates; accommodation is better than intransigence; reason more worthy than rhetoric. This will In the Koran, the hereunder verses are pertinent:
allow persons of diverse viewpoints to live together, if not harmoniously, then, at least, civilly.
For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women "ye
Factual Background are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." (7.81) "And we
This is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, with an application for a rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the
writ of preliminary mandatory injunction, filed by Ang Ladlad LGBT Party (Ang Ladlad) against the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!" (7:84) "He said: "O my Lord!
Resolutions of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dated November 11, 2009 2 (the First Help Thou me against people who do mischief" (29:30).
Assailed Resolution) and December 16, 2009 3 (the Second Assailed Resolution) in SPP No. 09-228
As correctly pointed out by the Law Department in its Comment dated
(PL) (collectively, the Assailed Resolutions). The case has its roots in the COMELEC's refusal to
October 2, 2008: CcADHI
accredit AngLadlad as a party-list organization under Republic Act (RA) No. 7941, otherwise known
as the Party-List System Act. 4 CDAHaE The ANG LADLAD apparently advocates sexual immorality as
Ang Ladlad is an organization composed of men and women who identify themselves as indicated in the Petition's par. 6F: 'Consensual partnerships or
lesbians, gays, bisexuals, or trans-gendered individuals (LGBTs). Incorporated in relationships by gays and lesbians who are already of age'. It is further
2003, Ang Ladlad first applied for registration with the COMELEC in 2006. The application for indicated in par. 24 of the Petition which waves for the record: 'In
2007, Men Having Sex with Men or MSMs in the Philippines were
estimated as 670,000 (Genesis 19 is the history of Sodom and Furthermore, should this Commission grant the petition, we will be
Gomorrah). exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our
faith. Lehman Strauss, a famous bible teacher and writer in the U.S.A. said in one
Laws are deemed incorporated in every contract, permit, article that "older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth." As an agency of
license, relationship, or accreditation. Hence, pertinent provisions of the the government, ours too is the State's avowed duty under Section 13, Article II of
Civil Code and theRevised Penal Code are deemed part of the the Constitution to protect our youth from moral and spiritual degradation. 8
requirement to be complied with for accreditation.
When Ang Ladlad sought reconsideration, 9 three commissioners voted to overturn the
ANG LADLAD collides with Article 695 of the Civil Code which First Assailed Resolution (Commissioners Gregorio Y. Larrazabal, ReneV. Sarmiento, and Armando
defines nuisance as 'Any act, omission, establishment, business, Velasco), while three commissioners voted to deny Ang Ladlad's Motion for Reconsideration
condition of property, or anything else which . . . (3) shocks, defies; or (Commissioners Nicodemo T. Ferrer, Lucenito N. Tagle, and Elias R. Yusoph).
disregards decency or morality . . . The COMELEC Chairman, breaking the tie and speaking for the majority in his Separate Opinion,
upheld the First Assailed Resolution, stating that:
It also collides with Article 1306 of the Civil Code: 'The
contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and I. The Spirit of Republic Act No. 7941
conditions as they may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary
to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy. Art. 1409 of Ladlad is applying for accreditation as a sectoral party in the party-list
the Civil Code provides that 'Contracts whose cause, object or purpose is system. Even assuming that it has properly proven its under-representation and
contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy' are marginalization, it cannot be said that Ladlad's expressed sexual orientations per
inexistent and void from the beginning. se would benefit the nation as a whole.

Finally to safeguard the morality of the Filipino community, the Revised Section 2 of the party-list law unequivocally states that the purpose of the
Penal Code, as amended, penalizes 'Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and party-list system of electing congressional representatives is to enable Filipino
exhibitions and indecent shows' as follows: citizens belonging to marginalized and under-represented sectors, organizations
and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could
Art. 201. Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will
exhibitions, and indecent shows. — The penalty of prision mayor or a fine benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of
ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos, or both such Representatives.
imprisonment and fine, shall be imposed upon:
If entry into the party-list system would depend only on the ability of an
1. Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines organization to represent its constituencies, then all representative organizations
openly contrary to public morals; would have found themselves into the party-list race. But that is not the intention of
the framers of the law. The party-list system is not a tool to advocate tolerance and
2. (a) The authors of obscene literature, published with their acceptance of misunderstood persons or groups of persons. Rather, the party-list
knowledge in any form; the editors publishing such literature; and the system is a tool for the realization of aspirations of marginalized
owners/operators of the establishment selling the same; individualswhose interests are also the nation's — only that their interests have
not been brought to the attention of the nation because of their under
(b) Those who, in theaters, fairs, cinematographs or any other
representation. Until the time comes when Ladlad is able to justify that having
place, exhibit indecent or immoral plays, scenes, acts or shows, it being
mixed sexual orientations and transgender identities is beneficial to the
understood that the obscene literature or indecent or immoral plays,
nation, its application for accreditation under the party-list system will remain
scenes, acts or shows, whether live or in film, which are prescribed by
just that.
virtue hereof, shall include those which: (1) glorify criminals or condone
crimes; (2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for II. No substantial differentiation
violence, lust or pornography; (3) offend any race or religion; (4) tend to
abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and (5) are contrary to law, In the United States, whose equal protection doctrine pervades Philippine
public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders, jurisprudence, courts do not recognize lesbians, gays, homosexuals, and bisexuals
decrees and edicts. (LGBT) as a "special class" of individuals. . . . Significantly, it has also been held that
homosexuality is not a constitutionally protected fundamental right, and that
3. Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, "nothing in the U.S. Constitution discloses a comparable intent to protect or promote
engravings, sculpture or literature which are offensive to morals. THADEI the social or legal equality of homosexual relations," as in the case of race or religion
or belief. EcHTCD
Petitioner should likewise be denied accreditation not only for advocating
immoral doctrines but likewise for not being truthful when it said that it "or any of its xxx xxx xxx
nominees/party-list representatives have not violated or failed to comply with laws,
rules, or regulations relating to the elections."
Thus, even if society's understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). On January 19, 2010, we granted the CHR's motion
LGBT's is elevated, there can be no denying that Ladlad constituencies are still to intervene. DcaECT
males and females, and they will remain either male or female protected by the
same Bill of Rights that applies to all citizens alike. On January 26, 2010, Epifanio D. Salonga, Jr. filed his Motion to Intervene 18 which motion
was granted on February 2, 2010. 19
xxx xxx xxx
The Parties' Arguments
IV. Public Morals Ang Ladlad argued that the denial of accreditation, insofar as it justified the exclusion by
using religious dogma, violated the constitutional guarantees against the establishment of religion.
. . . There is no question about not imposing on Ladlad Christian or
Petitioner also claimed that the Assailed Resolutions contravened its constitutional rights to privacy,
Muslim religious practices. Neither is there any attempt to any particular religious
freedom of speech and assembly, and equal protection of laws, as well as constituted violations of the
group's moral rules on Ladlad. Rather, what are being adopted as moral parameters
Philippines' international obligations against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
and precepts are generally accepted public morals. They are possibly
religious-based, butas a society, the Philippines cannot ignore its more than The OSG concurred with Ang Ladlad's petition and argued that the COMELEC erred in
500 years of Muslim and Christian upbringing, such that some moral precepts denying petitioner's application for registration since there was no basis for COMELEC's allegations of
espoused by said religions have sipped [sic] into society and these are not immorality. It also opined that LGBTs have their own special interests and concerns which should
publicly accepted moral norms. have been recognized by theCOMELEC as a separate classification. However, insofar as the
purported violations of petitioner's freedom of speech, expression, and assembly were concerned, the
V. Legal Provisions OSG maintained that there had been no restrictions on these rights.
But above morality and social norms, they have become part of the law of In its Comment, the COMELEC reiterated that petitioner does not have a concrete and
the land. Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code imposes the penalty of prision genuine national political agenda to benefit the nation and that the petition was validly
mayorupon "Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly dismissed on moral grounds. It also argued for the first time that the LGBT sector is not among the
contrary to public morals." It penalizes "immoral doctrines, obscene publications and sectors enumerated by the Constitution andRA 7941, and that petitioner made untruthful statements in
exhibition and indecent shows." "Ang Ladlad" apparently falls under these legal its petition when it alleged its national existence contrary to actual verification reports by COMELEC's
provisions. This is clear from its Petition's paragraph 6F: "Consensual partnerships field personnel.
or relationships by gays and lesbians who are already of age. It is further indicated in
par. 24 of the Petition which waves for the record: 'In 2007, Men Having Sex with Our Ruling
Men or MSMs in the Philippines were estimated as 670,000. Moreoever, * Article
We grant the petition.
694 of the Civil Code defines "nuisance" as any act, omission . . . or anything else . . .
which shocks, defies or disregards decency or morality . . . ." These are all Compliance with the Requirements of
unlawful. 10 the Constitution and Republic Act No.
7941
On January 4, 2010, Ang Ladlad filed this Petition, praying that the Court annul the Assailed
Resolutions and direct the COMELEC to grant Ang Ladlad'sapplication for The COMELEC denied Ang Ladlad's application for registration on the ground that the
accreditation. Ang Ladlad also sought the issuance ex parte of a preliminary mandatory injunction LGBT sector is neither enumerated in the Constitution and RA 7941, nor is it associated with or related
against the COMELEC, which had previously announced that it would begin printing the final ballots to any of the sectors in the enumeration.
for the May 2010 elections by January 25, 2010.
Respondent mistakenly opines that our ruling in Ang Bagong Bayani stands for the
On January 6, 2010, we ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to file its proposition that only those sectors specifically enumerated in the law or related to said sectors (labor,
Comment on behalf of COMELEC not later than 12:00 noon of January 11, 2010. 11 Instead of filing a peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth,
Comment, however, the OSG filed a Motion for Extension, requesting that it be given until January 16, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals) may be registered under the party-list system. As we
2010 to Comment. 12 Somewhat surprisingly, the OSG later filed a Comment in support of petitioner's explicitly ruled in Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections, 20 "the
application. 13 Thus, in order to give COMELEC the opportunity to fully ventilate its position, we enumeration of marginalized and under-represented sectors is not exclusive". The crucial element is
required it to file its own comment. 14 The COMELEC, through its Law Department, filed its not whether a sector is specifically enumerated, but whether a particular organization complies with
Comment on February 2, 2010. 15 the requirements of the Constitution and RA 7941.

In the meantime, due to the urgency of the petition, we issued a temporary restraining Respondent also argues that Ang Ladlad made untruthful statements in its petition when it
order on January 12, 2010, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, alleged that it had nationwide existence through its members and affiliate organizations.
directing the COMELEC to cease and desist from implementing the Assailed Resolutions. 16 The COMELEC claims that upon verification by its field personnel, it was shown that "save for a few
isolated places in the country, petitioner does not exist in almost all provinces in the
Also, on January 13, 2010, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) filed a Motion to country." 21 EaISTD
Intervene or to Appear as Amicus Curiae, attaching thereto its Comment-in-Intervention. 17 The CHR
opined that the denial of Ang Ladlad's petition on moral grounds violated the standards and principles This argument that "petitioner made untruthful statements in its petition when it alleged its
of the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the International national existence" is a new one; previously, the COMELEC claimed that petitioner was "not being
truthful when it said that it or any of its nominees/party-list representatives have not violated or failed to • ONE BACARDI AaITCS
comply with laws, rules, or regulations relating to the elections." Nowhere was this ground for denial of
petitioner's accreditation mentioned or even alluded to in the Assailed Resolutions. This, in itself, is • Order of St. Aelred (OSAe)-Metro Manila
quite curious, considering that the reports of petitioner's alleged non-existence were already available
• PUP LAKAN
to the COMELEC prior to the issuance of the First Assailed Resolution. At best, this is irregular
procedure; at worst, a belated afterthought, a change in respondent's theory, and a serious violation of • RADAR PRIDEWEAR
petitioner's right to procedural due process.
• Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights), Inc.-Metro Manila
Nonetheless, we find that there has been no misrepresentation. A cursory perusal
of Ang Ladlad's initial petition shows that it never claimed to exist in each province of the Philippines. • San Jose del Monte Gay Association-Bulacan
Rather, petitioner alleged that the LGBT community in the Philippines was estimated to constitute at
least 670,000 persons; that it had 16,100 affiliates and members around the country, and 4,044 • Sining Kayumanggi Royal Family-Rizal
members in its electronic discussion group. 22 Ang Ladlad also represented itself to be "a national
LGBT umbrella organization with affiliates around the Philippines composed of the following LGBT • Society of Transexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)-Metro Manila
networks:"
• Soul Jive-Antipolo, Rizal
• Abra Gay Association
• The Link-Davao City
• Aklan Butterfly Brigade (ABB)-Aklan
• Tayabas Gay Association-Quezon
• Albay Gay Association
• Women's Bisexual Network-Metro Manila
• Arts Center of Cabanatuan City-Nueva Ecija
• Zamboanga Gay Association-Zamboanga City 23
• Boys Legion-Metro Manila
Since the COMELEC only searched for the names ANG LADLAD LGBT or LADLAD LGBT,
• Cagayan de Oro People Like Us (CDO PLUS) it is no surprise that they found that petitioner had no presence in any of these regions. In fact,
if COMELEC's findings are to be believed, petitioner does not even exist in Quezon City, which is
• Can't Live in the Closet, Inc. (CLIC)-Metro Manila registered as Ang Ladlad's principal place of business.

• Cebu Pride-Cebu City Against this backdrop, we find that Ang Ladlad has sufficiently demonstrated its compliance
with the legal requirements for accreditation. Indeed, aside fromCOMELEC's moral objection and the
• Circle of Friends belated allegation of non-existence, nowhere in the records has the respondent ever found/ruled
that Ang Ladlad is not qualified to register as a party-list organization under any of the requisites
• Dipolog Gay Association-Zamboanga del Norte
under RA 7941 or the guidelines in Ang Bagong Bayani. The difference, COMELEC claims, lies
• Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Youth Association (GABAY) in AngLadlad's morality, or lack thereof.
Religion as the Basis for Refusal to
• Gay and Lesbian Activists Network for Gender Equality (GALANG)-Metro Manila
Accept Ang Ladlad's Petition for
• Gay Men's Support Group (GMSG)-Metro Manila Registration

• Gay United for Peace and Solidarity (GUPS)-Lanao del Norte Our Constitution provides in Article III, Section 5 that "[n]o law shall be made respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." At bottom, what our
• Iloilo City Gay Association-Iloilo City non-establishment clause calls for is "government neutrality in religious matters." 24 Clearly,
"governmental reliance on religious justification is inconsistent with this policy of neutrality." 25 We
• Kabulig Writer's Group-Camarines Sur thus find that it was grave violation of the non-establishment clause for the COMELEC to utilize the
Bible and the Koran to justify the exclusion of Ang Ladlad.
• Lesbian Advocates Philippines, Inc. (LEAP)
Rather than relying on religious belief, the legitimacy of the Assailed Resolutions should
• LUMINA-Baguio City depend, instead, on whether the COMELEC is able to advance some justification for its rulings
beyond mere conformity to religious doctrine. Otherwise stated, government must act for secular
• Marikina Gay Association-Metro Manila
purposes and in ways that have primarily secular effects. As we held in Estrada v. Escritor: 26
• Metropolitan Community Church (MCC)-Metro Manila . . . The morality referred to in the law is public and necessarily secular,
not religious as the dissent of Mr. Justice Carpio holds. "Religious teachings as
• Naga City Gay Association-Naga City
expressed in public debate may influence the civil public order but public moral
disputes may be resolved only on grounds articulable in secular terms." Otherwise, Nonetheless, we recall that the Philippines has not seen fit to criminalize homosexual conduct.
if government relies upon religious beliefs in formulating public policies and morals, Evidently, therefore, these "generally accepted public morals" have not been convincingly
the resulting policies and morals would require conformity to what some might transplanted into the realm of law. 29
regard as religious programs or agenda. The non-believers would therefore be
compelled to conform to a standard of conduct buttressed by a religious The Assailed Resolutions have not identified any specific overt immoral act performed
belief, i.e., to a "compelled religion," anathema to religious freedom. Likewise, if by Ang Ladlad. Even the OSG agrees that "there should have been a finding by the COMELEC that
government based its actions upon religious beliefs, it would tacitly approve or the group's members have committed or are committing immoral acts." 30 The OSG argues:
endorse that belief and thereby also tacitly disapprove contrary religious or . . . A person may be sexually attracted to a person of the same gender, of
non-religious views that would not support the policy. As a result, government will a different gender, or more than one gender, but mere attraction does not translate
not provide full religious freedom for all its citizens, or even make it appear that those to immoral acts. There is a great divide between thought and action. Reduction ad
whose beliefs are disapproved are second-class citizens. absurdum. If immoral thoughts could be penalized, COMELEC would have its
hands full of disqualification cases against both the "straights" and the gays."
In other words, government action, including its proscription of immorality
Certainly this is not the intendment of the law. 31
as expressed in criminal law like concubinage, must have a secular purpose. That is,
the government proscribes this conduct because it is "detrimental (or dangerous) to Respondent has failed to explain what societal ills are sought to be prevented, or why
those conditions upon which depend the existence and progress of human society" special protection is required for the youth. Neither has the COMELECcondescended to justify its
and not because the conduct is proscribed by the beliefs of one religion or the other. position that petitioner's admission into the party-list system would be so harmful as to irreparably
Although admittedly, moral judgments based on religion might have a compelling damage the moral fabric of society. We, of course, do not suggest that the state is wholly without
influence on those engaged in public deliberations over what actions would be authority to regulate matters concerning morality, sexuality, and sexual relations, and we recognize
considered a moral disapprobation punishable by law. After all, they might also be that the government will and should continue to restrict behavior considered detrimental to society.
adherents of a religion and thus have religious opinions and moral codes with a Nonetheless, we cannot countenance advocates who, undoubtedly with the loftiest of intentions,
compelling influence on them; the human mind endeavors to regulate the temporal situate morality on one end of an argument or another, without bothering to go through the rigors of
and spiritual institutions of society in a uniform manner, harmonizing earth with legal reasoning and explanation. In this, the notion of morality is robbed of all value. Clearly then, the
heaven. Succinctly put, a law could be religious or Kantian or Aquinian or utilitarian bare invocation of morality will not remove an issue from our scrutiny.
in its deepest roots, but it must have an articulable and discernible secular purpose
and justification to pass scrutiny of the religion clauses. . . . Recognizing the We also find the COMELEC's reference to purported violations of our penal and civil laws
religious nature of the Filipinos and the elevating influence of religion in society, flimsy, at best; disingenuous, at worst. Article 694 of the Civil Code defines a nuisance as "any act,
however, the Philippine constitution's religion clauses prescribe not a strict but a omission, establishment, condition of property, or anything else which shocks, defies, or disregards
benevolent neutrality. Benevolent neutrality recognizes that government must decency or morality," the remedies for which are a prosecution under the Revised Penal Code or any
pursue its secular goals and interests but at the same time strive to uphold religious local ordinance, a civil action, or abatement without judicial proceedings. 32 A violation of Article 201
liberty to the greatest extent possible within flexible constitutional limits. Thus, of the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand, requires proof beyond reasonable doubt to support a
although the morality contemplated by laws is secular, benevolent neutrality could criminal conviction. It hardly needs to be emphasized that mere allegation of violation of laws is not
allow for accommodation of morality based on religion, provided it does not offend proof, and a mere blanket invocation of public morals cannot replace the institution of civil or criminal
compelling state interests. 27 proceedings and a judicial determination of liability or culpability. SDIaCT

Public Morals as a Ground to Deny As such, we hold that moral disapproval, without more, is not a sufficient governmental
Ang Ladlad's Petition for Registration interest to justify exclusion of homosexuals from participation in the party-list system. The denial
of Ang Ladlad's registration on purely moral grounds amounts more to a statement of dislike and
Respondent suggests that although the moral condemnation of homosexuality and disapproval of homosexuals, rather than a tool to further any substantial public interest. Respondent's
homosexual conduct may be religion-based, it has long been transplanted into generally accepted blanket justifications give rise to the inevitable conclusion that the COMELEC targets homosexuals
public morals. The COMELEC argues: aIcCTA themselves as a class, not because of any particular morally reprehensible act. It is this selective
targeting that implicates our equal protection clause.
Petitioner's accreditation was denied not necessarily because their group
consists of LGBTs but because of the danger it poses to the people especially the Equal Protection
youth. Once it is recognized by the government, a sector which believes that there is
nothing wrong in having sexual relations with individuals of the same gender is a Despite the absolutism of Article III, Section 1 of our Constitution, which provides "nor shall
bad example. It will bring down the standard of morals we cherish in our civilized any person be denied equal protection of the laws," courts have never interpreted the provision as an
society. Any society without a set of moral precepts is in danger of losing its own absolute prohibition on classification. "Equality," said Aristotle, "consists in the same treatment of
existence.28 similar persons." 33 The equal protection clause guarantees that no person or class of persons shall
be deprived of the same protection of laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the
We are not blind to the fact that, through the years, homosexual conduct, and perhaps same place and in like circumstances. 34
homosexuals themselves, have borne the brunt of societal disapproval. It is not difficult to imagine the
Recent jurisprudence has affirmed that if a law neither burdens a fundamental right nor
reasons behind this censure — religious beliefs, convictions about the preservation of marriage, family,
targets a suspect class, we will uphold the classification as long as it bears a rational relationship to
and procreation, even dislike or distrust of homosexuals themselves and their perceived lifestyle.
some legitimate government end. 35 In Central Bank Employees Association, Inc. v. Banko Sentral a majority, however large — but for each of us" — the majority imposes upon itself a
ng Pilipinas, 36 we declared that "[i]n our jurisdiction, the standard of analysis of equal protection self-denying ordinance. It promises not to do what it otherwise could do: to ride
challenges . . . have followed the 'rational basis' test, coupled with a deferential attitude to legislative roughshod over the dissenting minorities.
classifications and a reluctance to invalidate a law unless there is a showing of a clear and
unequivocal breach of the Constitution." 37 Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society,
and this freedom applies not only to those that are favorably received but also to those that offend,
The COMELEC posits that the majority of the Philippine population considers homosexual shock, or disturb. Any restriction imposed in this sphere must be proportionate to the legitimate aim
conduct as immoral and unacceptable, and this constitutes sufficient reason to disqualify the petitioner. pursued. Absent any compelling state interest, it is not for the COMELEC or this Court to impose its
Unfortunately for the respondent, the Philippine electorate has expressed no such belief. No law exists views on the populace. Otherwise stated, the COMELEC is certainly not free to interfere with speech
to criminalize homosexual behavior or expressions or parties about homosexual behavior. Indeed, for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one. aAcDSC
even if we were to assume that public opinion is as the COMELEC describes it, the asserted state
interest here — that is, moral disapproval of an unpopular minority — is not a legitimate state interest This position gains even more force if one considers that homosexual conduct is not illegal
that is sufficient to satisfy rational basis review under the equal protection clause. The COMELEC's in this country. It follows that both expressions concerning one's homosexuality and the activity of
differentiation, and its unsubstantiated claim that Ang Ladlad cannot contribute to the formulation of forming a political association that supports LGBT individuals are protected as well.
legislation that would benefit the nation, furthers no legitimate state interest other than disapproval of Other jurisdictions have gone so far as to categorically rule that even overwhelming public
or dislike for a disfavored group. perception that homosexual conduct violates public morality does not justify criminalizing same-sex
From the standpoint of the political process, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender conduct. 41 European and United Nations judicial decisions have ruled in favor of gay rights
have the same interest in participating in the party-list system on the same basis as other political claimants on both privacy and equality grounds, citing general privacy and equal protection provisions
parties similarly situated. State intrusion in this case is equally burdensome. Hence, laws of general in foreign and international texts. 42 To the extent that there is much to learn from other jurisdictions
application should apply with equal force to LGBTs, and they deserve to participate in the party-list that have reflected on the issues we face here, such jurisprudence is certainly illuminating. These
system on the same basis as other marginalized and under-represented sectors. foreign authorities, while not formally binding on Philippine courts, may nevertheless have persuasive
influence on the Court's analysis.
It bears stressing that our finding that COMELEC's act of differentiating LGBTs from
heterosexuals insofar as the party-list system is concerned does not imply that any other law In the area of freedom of expression, for instance, United States courts have ruled that
distinguishing between heterosexuals and homosexuals under different circumstances would similarly existing free speech doctrines protect gay and lesbian rights to expressive conduct. In order to justify
fail. We disagree with the OSG's position that homosexuals are a class in themselves for the purposes the prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, public institutions must show that their actions
of the equal protection clause. 38 We are not prepared to single out homosexuals as a separate class were caused by "something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that
meriting special or differentiated treatment. We have not received sufficient evidence to this effect, and always accompany an unpopular viewpoint." 43
it is simply unnecessary to make such a ruling today. Petitioner itself has merely demanded that it be With respect to freedom of association for the advancement of ideas and beliefs, in Europe,
recognized under the same basis as all other groups similarly situated, and that the COMELEC made with its vibrant human rights tradition, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has repeatedly
"an unwarranted and impermissible classification not justified by the circumstances of the case." stated that a political party may campaign for a change in the law or the constitutional structures of a
Freedom of Expression and state if it uses legal and democratic means and the changes it proposes are consistent with
Association democratic principles. The ECHR has emphasized that political ideas that challenge the existing order
and whose realization is advocated by peaceful means must be afforded a proper opportunity of
Under our system of laws, every group has the right to promote its agenda and attempt to expression through the exercise of the right of association, even if such ideas may seem shocking or
persuade society of the validity of its position through normal democratic means. 39 It is in the public unacceptable to the authorities or the majority of the population. 44 A political group should not be
square that deeply held convictions and differing opinions should be distilled and deliberated upon. As hindered solely because it seeks to publicly debate controversial political issues in order to find
we held in Estrada v. Escritor: 40 solutions capable of satisfying everyone concerned. 45 Only if a political party incites violence or puts
forward policies that are incompatible with democracy does it fall outside the protection of the freedom
In a democracy, this common agreement on political and moral ideas is
of association guarantee. 46
distilled in the public square. Where citizens are free, every opinion, every prejudice,
every aspiration, and every moral discernment has access to the public square We do not doubt that a number of our citizens may believe that homosexual conduct is
where people deliberate the order of their life together. Citizens are the bearers of distasteful, offensive, or even defiant. They are entitled to hold and express that view. On the other
opinion, including opinion shaped by, or espousing religious belief, and these hand, LGBTs and their supporters, in all likelihood, believe with equal fervor that relationships
citizens have equal access to the public square. In this representative democracy, between individuals of the same sex are morally equivalent to heterosexual relationships. They, too,
the state is prohibited from determining which convictions and moral judgments may are entitled to hold and express that view. However, as far as this Court is concerned, our democracy
be proposed for public deliberation. Through a constitutionally designed process, precludes using the religious or moral views of one part of the community to exclude from
the people deliberate and decide. Majority rule is a necessary principle in this consideration the values of other members of the community.
democratic governance. Thus, when public deliberation on moral judgments is
finally crystallized into law, the laws will largely reflect the beliefs and preferences of Of course, none of this suggests the impending arrival of a golden age for gay rights litigants.
the majority, i.e., the mainstream or median groups. Nevertheless, in the very act of It well may be that this Decision will only serve to highlight the discrepancy between the rigid
adopting and accepting a constitution and the limits it specifies — including constitutional analysis of this Court and the more complex moral sentiments of Filipinos. We do not
protection of religious freedom "not only for a minority, however small — not only for suggest that public opinion, even at its most liberal, reflect a clear-cut strong consensus favorable to
gay rights claims and we neither attempt nor expect to affect individual perceptions of homosexuality against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion,
through this Decision. political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
The OSG argues that since there has been neither prior restraint nor subsequent In this context, the principle of non-discrimination requires that laws of general application
punishment imposed on Ang Ladlad, and its members have not been deprived of their right to relating to elections be applied equally to all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. Although
voluntarily associate, then there has been no restriction on their freedom of expression or association. sexual orientation is not specifically enumerated as a status or ratio for discrimination in Article 26 of
The OSG argues that: the ICCPR, the ICCPR Human Rights Committee has opined that the reference to "sex" in Article 26
should be construed to include "sexual orientation." 48 Additionally, a variety of United Nations bodies
There was no utterance restricted, no publication censored, or any
have declared discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to be prohibited under various
assembly denied. [COMELEC] simply exercised its authority to review and verify the
international agreements. 49
qualifications of petitioner as a sectoral party applying to participate in the party-list
system. This lawful exercise of duty cannot be said to be a transgression of Section The UDHR provides:
4, Article III of the Constitution.
Article 21.
xxx xxx xxx
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country,
A denial of the petition for registration . . . does not deprive the members directly or through freely chosen representatives.
of the petitioner to freely take part in the conduct of elections. Their right to vote will
not be hampered by said denial. In fact, the right to vote is a Likewise, the ICCPR states:
constitutionally-guaranteed right which cannot be limited. Article 25
As to its right to be elected in a genuine periodic election, petitioner Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the
contends that the denial of Ang Ladlad's petition has the clear and immediate effect distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:
of limiting, if not outrightly nullifying the capacity of its members to fully and equally
participate in public life through engagement in the party list elections. (a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely
chosen representatives;
This argument is puerile. The holding of a public office is not a right but a
privilege subject to limitations imposed by law. . . . 47 (b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be
by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the
The OSG fails to recall that petitioner has, in fact, established its qualifications to participate free expression of the will of the electors;
in the party-list system, and — as advanced by the OSG itself — the moral objection offered by
the COMELEC was not a limitation imposed by law. To the extent, therefore, that the petitioner has (c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his
been precluded, because of COMELEC's action, from publicly expressing its views as a political party country.
and participating on an equal basis in the political process with other equally-qualified party-list
candidates, we find that there has, indeed, been a transgression of petitioner's fundamental rights. As stated by the CHR in its Comment-in-Intervention, the scope of the right to electoral
participation is elaborated by the Human Rights Committee in its General Comment No. 25
Non-Discrimination and International (Participation in Public Affairs and the Right to Vote) as follows:
Law
1. Article 25 of the Covenant recognizes and protects the right of every
In an age that has seen international law evolve geometrically in scope and promise, citizen to take part in the conduct of public affairs, the right to vote and to be elected
international human rights law, in particular, has grown dynamically in its attempt to bring about a more and the right to have access to public service. Whatever form of constitution or
just and humane world order. For individuals and groups struggling with inadequate structural and government is in force, the Covenant requires States to adopt such legislative and
governmental support, international human rights norms are particularly significant, and should be other measures as may be necessary to ensure that citizens have an effective
effectively enforced in domestic legal systems so that such norms may become actual, rather than opportunity to enjoy the rights it protects. Article 25 lies at the core of democratic
ideal, standards of conduct. government based on the consent of the people and in conformity with the
Our Decision today is fully in accord with our international obligations to protect and promote principles of the Covenant.
human rights. In particular, we explicitly recognize the principle of non-discrimination as it relates to
xxx xxx xxx
the right to electoral participation, enunciated in the UDHR and the ICCPR. SIaHDA
15. The effective implementation of the right and the opportunity to stand
The principle of non-discrimination is laid out in Article 26 of the ICCPR, as follows:
for elective office ensures that persons entitled to vote have a free choice of
Article 26 candidates. Any restrictions on the right to stand for election, such as minimum age,
must be justifiable on objective and reasonable criteria. Persons who are otherwise
All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any eligible to stand for election should not be excluded by unreasonable or
discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit discriminatory requirements such as education, residence or descent, or by reason
any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection
of political affiliation. No person should suffer discrimination or disadvantage of any
kind because of that person's candidacy. States parties should indicate and explain
the legislative provisions which exclude any group or category of persons from
elective office. 50

We stress, however, that although this Court stands willing to assume the responsibility of
giving effect to the Philippines' international law obligations, the blanket invocation of international law
is not the panacea for all social ills. We refer now to the petitioner's invocation of the Yogyakarta
Principles (the Application of International Human Rights Law In Relation to Sexual Orientation and
Gender Identity), 51 which petitioner declares to reflect binding principles of international law.
At this time, we are not prepared to declare that these Yogyakarta Principles contain norms
that are obligatory on the Philippines. There are declarations and obligations outlined in said
Principles which are not reflective of the current state of international law, and do not find basis in any
of the sources of international law enumerated under Article 38 (1) of the Statute of the International
Court of Justice. 52 Petitioner has not undertaken any objective and rigorous analysis of these alleged
principles of international law to ascertain their true status. ATDHSC
We also hasten to add that not everything that society — or a certain segment of society —
wants or demands is automatically a human right. This is not an arbitrary human intervention that may
be added to or subtracted from at will. It is unfortunate that much of what passes for human rights
today is a much broader context of needs that identifies many social desires as rights in order to
further claims that international law obliges states to sanction these innovations. This has the effect of
diluting real human rights, and is a result of the notion that if "wants" are couched in "rights" language,
then they are no longer controversial.
Using even the most liberal of lenses, these Yogyakarta Principles, consisting of a
declaration formulated by various international law professors, are — at best — de lege ferenda —
and do not constitute binding obligations on the Philippines. Indeed, so much of contemporary
international law is characterized by the "soft law" nomenclature, i.e., international law is full of
principles that promote international cooperation, harmony, and respect for human rights, most of
which amount to no more than well-meaning desires, without the support of either State practice
or opinio juris. 53
As a final note, we cannot help but observe that the social issues presented by this case are
emotionally charged, societal attitudes are in flux, even the psychiatric and religious communities are
divided in opinion. This Court's role is not to impose its own view of acceptable behavior. Rather, it is to
apply the Constitution and laws as best as it can, uninfluenced by public opinion, and confident in the
knowledge that our democracy is resilient enough to withstand vigorous debate.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The Resolutions of
the Commission on Elections dated November 11, 2009 and December 16, 2009 in SPP No. 09-228
(PL) are hereby SET ASIDE. The Commission on Elections is directed to GRANT petitioner's
application for party-list accreditation.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC are nonetheless subject to the moderating hand of this Court in the event that such discretion is exercised
with grave abuse.

[G.R. No. 80391. February 28, 1989.] 4. ID.; ID.; EXTENT OF SELF-GOVERNMENT GRANTED THERETO. — The autonomous governments of
Mindanao were organized in Regions IX and XII by Presidential Decree No. 1618 promulgated on July 25,
1979. Among other things, the Decree established "internal autonomy" in the two regions "[w]ithin the
SULTAN ALIMBUSAR P. LIMBONA, petitioner, vs. CONTE MANGELIN, SALIC framework of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines and
ALI, SALINDATO ALI, PILIMPINAS CONDING, ACMAD TOMAWIS, GERRY its Constitution," "with legislative and executive machinery to exercise the powers and responsibilities"'
TOMAWIS, JESUS ORTIZ, ANTONIO DELA FUENTE, DIEGO PALOMARES, specified therein. It requires the autonomous regional governments to "undertake all internal administrative
JR.,RAKIL DAGALANGIT, and BIMBO SINSUAT, respondents. matters for the respective regions," except to "act on matters which are within the jurisdiction and
competence of the National Government," "which include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) National
defense and security; (2) Foreign relations; (3) Foreign trade; (4) Currency, monetary affairs, foreign
Ambrosio Padilla, Mempin & Reyes Law Office for petitioner. exchange, banking and quasi-banking, and external borrowing, (5) Disposition, exploration, development,
exploitation or utilization of all natural resources; (6) Air and sea transport; (7) Postal matters and
Makabangkit B. Lanto for respondents. telecommunications; (8) Customs and quarantine; (9) Immigration and deportation; (10) Citizenship and
naturalization; (11) National economic, social and educational planning; and (12) General auditing." In
relation to the central government, it provides that "[t]he President shall have the power of general
SYLLABUS supervision and control over the Autonomous Regions . . .

5. ID.; ID.; ID. — An examination of the very Presidential Decree creating the autonomous governments of
1. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW; AUTONOMOUS REGIONS OF MINDANAO UNDER P.D. 1618; Mindanao persuades us that they were never meant to exercise autonomy in the second sense, that is, in
SANGGUNIANG PAMPOOK; EXPULSION OF MEMBER; INVALID FOR LACK OF DUE PROCESS. — which the central government commits an act of self-immolation. Presidential Decree No. 1618, in the first
We hold that the expulsion in question is of no force and effect. In the first place, there is no showing that the place, mandates that "[t]he President shall have the power of general supervision and control over
Sanggunian had conducted an investigation, and whether or not the petitioner had been heard in his Autonomous Regions." In the second place, the Sangguniang Pampook, their legislative arm, is made to
defense, assuming that there was an investigation, or otherwise given the opportunity to do so. On the other discharge chiefly administrative services.
hand, what appears in the records is an admission by the Assembly (at least, the respondents) that "since
6. ID.;LOCAL AUTONOMY; DECENTRALIZATION OF ADMINISTRATION DISTINGUISHED FROM
November, 1987 up to this writing, the petitioner has not set foot at the Sangguniang Pampook." To be sure,
DECENTRALIZATION OF POWER. — Autonomy is either decentralization of administration or
the private respondents aver that "[t]he Assemblymen, in a conciliatory gesture, wanted him to come to
decentralization of power. There is decentralization of administration when the central government
Cotabato City," but that was "so that their differences could be threshed out and settled." Certainly, that
delegates administrative powers to political subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power
avowed wanting or desire to thresh out and settle, no matter how conciliatory it may be cannot be a
and in the process to make local governments "more responsive and accountable," and "ensure their fullest
substitute for the notice and hearing contemplated by law. While we have held that due process, as the term
development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national
is known in administrative law, does not absolutely require notice and that a party need only be given the
development and social progress." At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of
opportunity to be heard, it does not appear herein that the petitioner had, to begin with, been made aware
managing local affairs and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises
that he had in fact stood charged of graft and corruption before his colleagues. It cannot be said therefore
"general supervision" over them, but only to "ensure that local affairs are administered according to law." He
that he was accorded any opportunity to rebut their accusations. As it stands, then, the charges now
has no control over their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own.
levelled amount to mere accusations that cannot warrant expulsion.
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political power in the favor of local
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT JUSTIFIED; NO ONE SHOULD BE PUNISHED FOR SEEKING REDRESS IN governments units declared to be autonomous. In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart its
THE COURT. — The resolution appears strongly to be a bare act of vendetta by the other Assemblymen own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a
against the petitioner arising from what the former perceive to be obduracy on the part of the latter. Indeed, constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to "self-immolation," since in that event, the
it (the resolution) speaks of "a case [having been filed] [by the petitioner] before the Supreme Court . . . on autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its constituency.
question which should have been resolved within the confines of the Assembly — an act which some
7. ID.; LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS UNDER THE 1987 CONSTITUTION. — Under the 1987
members claimed unnecessarily and unduly assails their integrity and character as representative of the
Constitution, local government units enjoy autonomy in these two senses, thus: Section 1. The territorial
people," an act that cannot possibly justify expulsion. Access to judicial remedies is guaranteed by the
and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and
Constitution, and, unless the recourse amounts to malicious prosecution, no one may be punished for
barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter
seeking redress in the courts.
provided. Sec. 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy . . . Sec. 15. There shall
3. ID.;ID.;ID.;POWER TO DISCIPLINE ITS MEMBERS; SUBJECT TO JUDICIAL REVIEW IN CASE OF be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities,
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. — Reinstatement is in order with the caution that should the past acts of municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage,
the petitioner indeed warrant his removal, the Assembly is enjoined, should it still be so minded, to economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution
commence proper proceedings therefor in line with the most elementary requirements of due process. And and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. An autonomous
while it is within the discretion of the members of the Sanggunian to punish their erring colleagues, their acts government that enjoys autonomy of the latter category [CONST. (1987), art. X sec. 15.] is subject alone to
the decree of the organic act creating it and accepted principles on the effects and limits of "autonomy." On
the other hand, an autonomous government of the former class is, as we noted, under the supervision of the Razul, Pampook Speaker of Region XI, Zamboanga City and the petitioner in his
national government acting through the President (and the Department of Local Government). capacity as Speaker of the Assembly, Region XII, in a letter which reads:

8. ID.; AUTONOMOUS REGIONS OF MINDANAO UNDER P.D. 1618; SANGGUNIANG PAMPOOK; The Committee on Muslim Affairs will undertake consultations and
"RECESS" CALLED BY THE SPEAKER HELD AS VALID. — It is true that under Section 31 of the Region dialogues with local government officials, civic, religious organizations
XII Sanggunian Rules, "[s]essions shall not be suspended or adjourned except by direction of the and traditional leaders on the recent and present political developments
Sangguniang Pampook," but it provides likewise that "the Speaker may, on [sic] his discretion, declare a and other issues affecting Regions IX and XII.
recess of short intervals." Of course, there is disagreement between the protagonists as to whether or not
the recess called by the petitioner effective November 1 through 15, 1987 is the "recess of short intervals" The result of the conference, consultations and dialogues would hopefully
referred to; the petitioner says that it is while the respondents insist that, to all intents and purposes, it was chart the autonomous governments of the two regions as envisioned and
an adjournment and that "recess" as used by their Rules only refers to "a recess when arguments get may prod the President to constitute immediately the Regional
heated up so that protagonists in a debate can talk things out informally and obviate dissension [sic] and Consultative Commission as mandated by the Commission. LLphil
disunity." The Court agrees with the respondents on this regard, since clearly, the Rules speak of "short
You are requested to invite some members of the Pampook Assembly of
intervals." Secondly, the Court likewise agrees that the Speaker could not have validly called a recess since
your respective assembly on November 1 to 15, 1987, with venue at the
the Assembly had yet to convene on November 1, the date session opens under the same Rules. Hence,
Congress of the Philippines.
there can be no recess to speak of that could possibly interrupt any session. But while this opinion is in
accord with the respondents' own, we still invalidate the twin sessions in question, since at the time the Your presence, unstinted support and cooperation is (sic) indispensable.
petitioner called the "recess," it was not a settled matter whether or not he could do so. In the second place,
the invitation tendered by the Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of Representatives provided a 5. Consistent with the said invitation, petitioner sent a telegram to Acting Secretary
plausible reason for the intermission sought. Thirdly, assuming that a valid recess could not be called, it Johnny Alimbuyao of the Assembly to wire all Assemblymen that there shall be no
does not appear that the respondents called his attention to this mistake. What appears is that instead, they session in November as "our presence in the house committee hearing of confess
opened the sessions themselves behind his back in an apparent act of mutiny. Under the circumstances, take (sic) precedence over any pending business in batasang pampook ..."
we find equity on his side. For this reason, we uphold the "recess" called on the ground of good faith.
6. In compliance with the aforesaid instruction of the petitioner, Acting Secretary
Alimbuyao sent to the members of the Assembly the following telegram:

TRANSMITTING FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE


TELEGRAM RECEIVED FROM SPEAKER LIMBONA QUOTE
CONGRESSMAN JIMMY MATALAM CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE
DECISION
COMMITTEE ON MUSLIM AFFAIRS REQUESTED ME TO ASSIST
SAID COMMITTEE IN THE DISCUSSION OF THE PROPOSED
AUTONOMY ORGANIC NOV. 1ST TO 15. HENCE WIRE ALL
ASSEMBLYMEN THAT THERE SHALL BE NO SESSION IN
SARMIENTO,J p: NOVEMBER AS OUR PRESENCE IN THE HOUSE COMMITTEE
HEARING OF CONGRESS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER ANY
The acts of the Sangguniang Pampook of Region XII are assailed in this petition. The antecedent facts are PENDING BUSINESS IN BATASANG PAMPOOK OF MATALAM
as follows: FOLLOWS UNQUOTE REGARDS.

1. On September 24, 1986, petitioner Sultan Alimbusar Limbona was appointed as 7. On November 2, 1987, the Assembly held session in defiance of petitioner's
a member of the Sangguniang Pampook, Regional Autonomous Government, advice, with the following assemblymen present:
Region XII, representing Lanao del Sur.
1. Sali, Salic
2. On March 12, 1987 petitioner was elected Speaker of the Regional Legislative
Assembly or Batasang Pampook of Central Mindanao (Assembly for brevity). 2. Conding, Pilipinas (sic)

3. Said Assembly is composed of eighteen (18) members. Two of said members, 3. Dagalangit, Rakil
respondents Acmad Tomawis and Rakil Dagalangit, filed on March 23, 1987 with
the Commission on Elections their respective certificates of candidacy in the May 11, 4. Dela Fuente, Antonio
1987 confessional elections for the district of Lanao del Sur but they later withdrew 5. Mangelen, Conte
from the aforesaid election and thereafter resumed again their positions as
members of the Assembly. 6. Ortiz, Jesus
4. On October 21, 1987 Congressman Datu Guimid Matalam, Chairman of the 7. Palomares, Diego
Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of Representatives, invited Mr. Xavier
8. Sinsuat, Bimbo Twelve (12) members voted in favor of the motion to declare the seat of
the Speaker vacant; one abstained and none voted against. 1
9. Tomawis, Acmad
Accordingly, the petitioner prays for judgment as follows:
10. Tomawis, Jerry
WHEREFORE, petitioner respectfully prays that —
After declaring the presence of a quorum, the Speaker Pro-Tempore was authorized
to preside in the session. On Motion to declare the seat of the Speaker vacant, all (a) This Petition be given due course;
Assemblymen in attendance voted in the affirmative, hence, the chair declared said
seat of the Speaker vacant. (b) Pending hearing, a restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction be issued
enjoining respondents from proceeding with their session to be held on November 5,
8. On November 5, 1987, the session of the Assembly resumed with the following 1987, and on any day thereafter;
Assemblymen present:
(c) After hearing, judgment be rendered declaring the proceedings held by
1. Mangelen Conte — Presiding Officer respondents of their session on November 2, 1987 as null and void;

2. Ali Salic (d) Holding the election of petitioner as Speaker of said Legislative Assembly or
Batasan Pampook, Region XII held on March 12, 1987 valid and subsisting, and(e)
3. Ali Salindatu Making the injunction permanent. llcd
4. Aratuc, Malik Petitioner likewise prays for such other relief as may be just and equitable. 2
5. Cajelo, Rene Pending further proceedings, this Court, on January 19, 1988, received a resolution filed by the
Sangguniang Pampook "EXPELLING ALIMBUSAR P. LIMBONA FROM MEMBERSHIP OF THE
6. Conding, Pilipinas (sic)
SANGGUNIANG PAMPOOK, AUTONOMOUS REGION XII," 3 on the grounds, among other things, that
7. Dagalangit, Rakil the petitioner "had caused to be prepared and signed by him paying [sic] the salaries and emoluments of
Odin Abdula, who was considered resigned after filing his Certificate of Candidacy for Congressmen for the
8. Dela Fuente, Antonio First District of Maguindanao in the last May 11, elections ...and nothing in the record of the Assembly will
show that any request for reinstatement by Abdula was ever made ..." 4 and that "such action of
9. Ortiz, Jesus Mr. Limbona in paying Abdula his salaries and emoluments without authority from the
Assembly ...constituted a usurpation of the power of the Assembly," 5 that the petitioner "had recently
10. Palamares, Diego
caused withdrawal of so much amount of cash from the Assembly resulting to the non-payment of the
11. Quijano, Jesus salaries and emoluments of some Assembly [sic]," 6 and that he had "filed before the Supreme Court
against some members of Assembly on question which should have been resolved within the confines of
12. Sinsuat, Bimbo the Assembly," 7 for which the respondents now submit that the petition had become "moot and
academic".8
13. Tomawis, Acmad
The first question, evidently, is whether or not the expulsion of the petitioner (pending litigation) has made
14. Tomawis, Jerry the case moot and academic.
An excerpt from the debates and proceeding of said session reads: We do not agree that the case has been rendered moot and academic by reason simply of the expulsion
resolution so issued. For, if the petitioner's expulsion was done purposely to make this petition moot and
HON. DAGALANGIT: Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members of the House,
academic, and to preempt the Court, it will not make it academic. LLjur
with the presence of our colleagues who have come to attend the session
today, I move to call the names of the newcomers in order for them to cast On the ground of the immutable principle of due process alone, we hold that the expulsion in question is of
their votes on the previous motion to declare the position of the Speaker no force and effect. In the first place, there is no showing that the Sanggunian had conducted an
vacant. But before doing so, I move also that the designation of the investigation, and whether or not the petitioner had been heard in his defense, assuming that there was an
Speaker Pro Tempore as the Presiding Officer and Mr. Johnny investigation, or otherwise given the opportunity to do so. On the other hand, what appears in the records is
Evangelista as Acting Secretary in the session last November 2, 1987 be an admission by the Assembly (at least, the respondents) that "since November, 1987 up to this writing, the
reconfirmed in today's session. petitioner has not set foot at the Sangguniang Pampook." 9 To be sure, the private respondents aver that
"[t]he Assemblymen, in a conciliatory gesture, wanted him to come to Cotabato City," 10 but that was "so
HON. SALIC ALI: I second the motions.
that their differences could be threshed out and settled." 11 Certainly, that avowed wanting or desire to
PRESIDING OFFICER: Any comment or objections on the two motions thresh out and settle, no matter how conciliatory it may be cannot be a substitute for the notice and hearing
presented? The chair hears none and the said motions are approved. ... contemplated by law. LibLex
While we have held that due process, as the term is known in administrative law, does not absolutely (9) Immigration and deportation;
require notice and that a party need only be given the opportunity to be heard, 12 it does not appear herein
that the petitioner had, to begin with, been made aware that he had in fact stood charged of graft and (10) Citizenship and naturalization;
corruption before his colleagues. It cannot be said therefore that he was accorded any opportunity to rebut
(11) National economic, social and educational planning; and
their accusations. As it stands, then, the charges now levelled amount to mere accusations that cannot
warrant expulsion. (12) General auditing." 21
In the second place, the resolution appears strongly to be a bare act of vendetta by the other Assemblymen In relation to the central government, it provides that "[t]he President shall have the power of general
against the petitioner arising from what the former perceive to be obduracy on the part of the latter. Indeed, supervision and control over the Autonomous Regions . . . 22
it (the resolution) speaks of "a case [having been filed] [by the petitioner] before the Supreme Court . . . on
Now, autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of power. There is
question which should have been resolved within the confines of the Assembly — an act which some
decentralization of administration when the central government delegates administrative powers to political
members claimed unnecessarily and unduly assails their integrity and character as representative of the
subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the process to make local
people," 13 an act that cannot possibly justify expulsion. Access to judicial remedies is guaranteed by the
governments "more responsive and accountable," 23 and "ensure their fullest development as self-reliant
Constitution, 14 and, unless the recourse amounts to malicious prosecution, no one may be punished for
communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social
seeking redress in the courts. llcd
progress." 24 At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of managing local affairs
We therefore order reinstatement, with the caution that should the past acts of the petitioner indeed warrant and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises "general supervision" 25 over
his removal, the Assembly is enjoined, should it still be so minded, to commence proper proceedings them, but only to "ensure that local affairs are administered according to law." 26 He has no control over
therefor in line with the most elementary requirements of due process. And while it is within the discretion of their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own. 27
the members of the Sanggunian to punish their erring colleagues, their acts are nonetheless subject to the
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political power in the favor of local
moderating hand of this Court in the event that such discretion is exercised with grave abuse.
governments units declared to be autonomous. In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart its
own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a
constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to "self-immolation," since in that event, the
It is, to be sure, said that precisely because the Sangguniang Pampook(s) are "autonomous," the courts autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its constituency. 28
may not rightfully intervene in their affairs, much less strike down their acts. We come, therefore, to the
second issue: Are the so-called autonomous governments of Mindanao, as they are now constituted, But the question of whether or not the grant of autonomy to Muslim Mindanao under the 1987
subject to the jurisdiction of the national courts? In other words, what is the extent of self-government given Constitution involves, truly, an effort to decentralize power rather than mere administration is a question
to the two autonomous governments of Region IX and XII? foreign to this petition, since what is involved herein is a local government unit constituted prior to the
ratification of the present Constitution. Hence, the Court will not resolve that controversy now, in this case,
The autonomous governments of Mindanao were organized in Regions IX and XII by Presidential Decree since no controversy in fact exists. We will resolve it at the proper time and in the proper case. prcd
No. 1618 15 promulgated on July 25, 1979. Among other things, the Decree established "internal
autonomy" 16 in the two regions "[w]ithin the framework of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Under the 1987 Constitution, local government units enjoy autonomy in these two senses, thus:
the Republic of the Philippines and its Constitution," 18 specified therein.
Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines
It requires the autonomous regional governments to "undertake all internal administrative matters for the are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous
respective regions," 19 except to "act on matters which are within the jurisdiction and competence of the regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided. 29
National Government," 20 "which include, but are not limited to, the following:
Sec. 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy. 30
(1) National defense and security;
xxx xxx xxx
(2) Foreign relations;
Sec. 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the
(3) Foreign trade; Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas
sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social
(4) Currency, monetary affairs, foreign exchange, banking and quasi-banking, and structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of
external borrowing, thisConstitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the
Republic of the Philippines. 31
(5) Disposition, exploration, development, exploitation or utilization of all natural
resources; An autonomous government that enjoys autonomy of the latter category [CONST. (1987), art. X sec. 15.] is
subject alone to the decree of the organic act creating it and accepted principles on the effects and limits of
(6) Air and sea transport; "autonomy." On the other hand, an autonomous government of the former class is, as we noted, under the
supervision of the national government acting through the President (and the Department of Local
(7) Postal matters and telecommunications;
Government). 32 If the Sangguniang Pampook (of Region XII), then, is autonomous in the latter sense, its
(8) Customs and quarantine; acts are, debatably, beyond the domain of this Court in perhaps the same way that the internal acts, say, of
the Congress of the Philippines are beyond our jurisdiction. But if it is autonomous in the former category [sic] his discretion, declare a recess of "short intervals." 36 Of course, there is disagreement between the
only, it comes unarguably under our jurisdiction. protagonists as to whether or not the recess called by the petitioner effective November 1 through 15, 1987
is the "recess of short intervals" referred to; the petitioner says that it is while the respondents insist that, to
An examination of the very Presidential Decree creating the autonomous governments of Mindanao all intents and purposes, it was an adjournment and that "recess" as used by their Rules only refers to "a
persuades us that they were never meant to exercise autonomy in the second sense, that is, in which the recess when arguments get heated up so that protagonists in a debate can talk things out informally and
central government commits an act of self-immolation. Presidential Decree No. 1618, in the first place, obviate dissension [sic] and disunity." 37 The Court agrees with the respondents on this regard, since
mandates that "[t]he President shall have the power of general supervision and control over Autonomous clearly, the Rules speak of "short intervals." Secondly, the Court likewise agrees that the Speaker could not
Regions." 33 In the second place, the Sangguniang Pampook, their legislative arm, is made to discharge have validly called a recess since the Assembly had yet to convene on November 1, the date session opens
chiefly administrative services, thus: under the same Rules. 38 Hence, there can be no recess to speak of that could possibly interrupt any
session. But while this opinion is in accord with the respondents' own, we still invalidate the twin sessions in
SEC. 7. Powers of the Sangguniang Pampook.— The Sangguniang Pampook shall
question, since at the time the petitioner called the "recess," it was not a settled matter whether or not he
exercise local legislative powers over regional affairs within the framework of
could do so. In the second place, the invitation tendered by the Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of
national development plans, policies and goals, in the following areas:
Representatives provided a plausible reason for the intermission sought. Thirdly, assuming that a valid
(1) Organization of regional administrative system; recess could not be called, it does not appear that the respondents called his attention to this mistake. What
appears is that instead, they opened the sessions themselves behind his back in an apparent act of mutiny.
(2) Economic, social and cultural development of the Autonomous Region; Under the circumstances, we find equity on his side. For this reason, we uphold the "recess" called on the
ground of good faith.
(3) Agricultural, commercial and industrial programs for the Autonomous Region;

(4) Infrastructure development for the Autonomous Region;


It does not appear to us, moreover, that the petitioner had resorted to the aforesaid "recess" in order to
(5) Urban and rural planning for the Autonomous Region; forestall the Assembly from bringing about his ouster. This is not apparent from the pleadings before us. We
are convinced that the invitation was what precipitated it. llcd
(6) Taxation and other revenue-raising measures as provided for in this Decree;
In holding that the "recess" in question is valid, we are not to be taken as establishing a precedent, since, as
(7) Maintenance, operation and administration of schools established by the
we said, a recess can not be validly declared without a session having been first opened. In upholding the
Autonomous Region;
petitioner herein, we are no him a carte blanche to order recesses in the future in violation of the Rules, or
(8) Establishment, operation and maintenance of health, welfare and other social otherwise to prevent the lawful meetings thereof.
services, programs and facilities;
Neither are we, by this disposition, discouraging the Sanggunian from reorganizing itself pursuant to its
(9) Preservation and development of customs, traditions languages and culture lawful prerogatives. Certainly, it can do so at the proper time. In the event that he petitioner should initiate
indigenous to the Autonomous Region; and obstructive moves, the Court is certain that it is armed with enough coercive remedies to thwart them. 39

(10) Such other matters as may be authorized by law, including the enactment of In view hereof, we find no need in dwelling on the issue of quorum.
such measures as may be necessary for the promotion of the general welfare of the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Sangguniang Pampook, Region XII, is
people in the Autonomous Region.
ENJOINED to (1) REINSTATE the petitioner as Member, Sangguniang Pampook, Region XII; and (2)
The President shall exercise such powers as may be necessary to assure that REINSTATE him as Speaker thereof. No costs.
enactment and acts of the Sangguniang Pampook and the Lupong
Tagapagpaganap ng Pook are in compliance with this Decree, national legislation, SO ORDERED.
policies, plans and programs.
||| (Limbona v. Mangelin, G.R. No. 80391, [February 28, 1989], 252 PHIL 813-830)
The Sangguniang Pampook shall maintain liaison with the Batasang Pambansa. 34

Hence, we assume jurisdiction. And if we can make an inquiry in the validity of the expulsion in question,
with more reason can we review the petitioner's removal as Speaker. Cdpr

Briefly, the petitioner assails the legality of his ouster as Speaker on the grounds that: (1) the Sanggunian,
in convening on November 2 and 5, 1987 (for the sole purpose of declaring the office of the Speaker
vacant),did so in violation of the Rules of the Sangguniang Pampook since the Assembly was then on
recess; and (2) assuming that it was valid, his ouster was ineffective nevertheless for lack of quorum.

Upon the facts presented, we hold that the November 2 and 5, 1987 sessions were invalid. It is true that
under Section 31 of the Region XII Sanggunian Rules, "[s]essions shall not be suspended or adjourned
except by direction of the Sangguniang Pampook," 35 but it provides likewise that "the Speaker may, on
EN BANC Milaor Camaligan

Naga Magarao
[G.R. No. 189793. April 7, 2010.]
Pili Bombon

SENATOR BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III and MAYOR JESSE Ocampo Calabanga
ROBREDO, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS represented by its
3rd District Caramoan Sangay 372,548
Chairman JOSE A.R. MELO and its Commissioners, RENE V. SARMIENTO,
NICODEMO T. FERRER, LUCENITO N. TAGLE, ARMANDO VELASCO, ELIAS Garchitorena San Jose
R. YUSOPH AND GREGORIO LARRAZABAL, respondents.
Goa Tigaon

Lagonoy Tinamba
DECISION
Presentacion Siruma

4th District Iriga Buhi 429,070

PEREZ, J p: Baao Bula

Balatan Nabua
This case comes before this Court by way of a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. In this original action, petitioners Senator Benigno Simeon Bato
C. Aquino III and Mayor Jesse Robredo, as public officers, taxpayers and citizens, seek the
nullification as unconstitutional of Republic Act No. 9716, entitled "An Act Reapportioning the
Composition of the First (1st) and Second (2nd) Legislative Districts in the Province of Camarines Sur
and Thereby Creating a New Legislative District From Such Reapportionment." Petitioners Following the enactment of Republic Act No. 9716, the first and second districts of
consequently pray that the respondent Commission on Elections be restrained from making any Camarines Sur were reconfigured in order to create an additional legislative district for the province.
issuances and from taking any steps relative to the implementation of Republic Act No. 9716. Hence, the first district municipalities of Libmanan, Minalabac, Pamplona, Pasacao, and San
Fernando were combined with the second district municipalities of Milaor and Gainza to form a new
Republic Act No. 9716 originated from House Bill No. 4264, and was signed into law by second legislative district. The following table 3 illustrates the reapportionment made by Republic Act
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on 12 October 2009. It took effect on31 October 2009, or fifteen
No. 9716: AIaSTE
(15) days following its publication in the Manila Standard, a newspaper of general circulation. 1 In
substance, the said law created an additional legislative district for the Province of Camarines Sur by District Municipalities/Cities Population
reconfiguring the existing first and second legislative districts of the province.
Prior to Republic Act No. 9716, the Province of Camarines Sur was estimated to have a
population of 1,693,821, 2 distributed among four (4) legislative districts in this wise: 1st District Del Gallego 176,383
District Municipalities/Cities Population Ragay

Lupi
1st District Del Gallego Libmanan 417,304 Sipocot
Ragay Minalabac Cabusao
Lupi Pamplona 2nd District Libmanan San Fernando 276,777
Sipocot Pasacao Minalabac Gainza
Cabusao San Fernando Pamplona Milaor
2nd District Gainza Canaman 474,899 Pasacao
3rd District Naga Camaligan 439,043 (3) Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable,
contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of at
(formerly 2nd Pili Magarao least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one
representative. DIcSHE
District) Ocampo Bombon
(4) . . . (Emphasis supplied).
Canaman Calabanga
The petitioners posit that the 250,000 figure appearing in the above-cited provision is the
4th District Caramoan Sangay 372,548 minimum population requirement for the creation of a legislative district. 7 The petitioners theorize that,
save in the case of a newly created province, each legislative district created by Congress must be
(formerly 3rd Garchitorena San Jose
supported by a minimum population of at least 250,000 in order to be valid. 8 Under this view, existing
District) Goa Tigaon legislative districts may be reapportioned and severed to form new districts, provided each resulting
district will represent a population of at least 250,000. On the other hand, if the reapportionment would
Lagonoy Tinamba result in the creation of a legislative seat representing a populace of less than 250,000 inhabitants, the
reapportionment must be stricken down as invalid for non-compliance with the minimum population
Presentacion Siruma requirement.

5th District Iriga Buhi 429,070 In support of their theory, the petitioners point to what they claim is the intent of the framers
of the 1987 Constitution to adopt a population minimum of 250,000 in the creation of additional
(formerly 4th Baao Bula legislative seats. 9 The petitioners argue that when the Constitutional Commission fixed the original
number of district seats in the House of Representatives to two hundred (200), they took into account
District) Balatan Nabua the projected national population of fifty five million (55,000,000) for the year 1986. 10According to the
petitioners, 55 million people represented by 200 district representatives translates to roughly 250,000
Bato
people for every one (1) representative. 11Thus, the 250,000 population requirement found in Section
5 (3), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution is actually based on the population constant used by the
Constitutional Commission in distributing the initial 200 legislative seats.
Republic Act No. 9716 is a well-milled legislation. The factual recitals by both parties of the
Thus did the petitioners claim that in reapportioning legislative districts independently from
origins of the bill that became the law show that, from the filing of House Bill No. 4264 until its approval
the creation of a province, Congress is bound to observe a 250,000 population threshold, in the same
by the Senate on a vote of thirteen (13) in favor and two (2) against, the process progressed step by
manner that the Constitutional Commission did in the original apportionment.
step, marked by public hearings on the sentiments and position of the local officials of Camarines
Sur on the creation of a new congressional district, as well as argumentation and debateon the issue, Verbatim, the submission is that:
now before us, concerning the stand of the oppositors of the bill that a population of at least 250,000 is
required by the Constitution for such new district. 4 1. Republic Act 9716 is unconstitutional because the newly apportioned first district
of Camarines Sur failed to meet the population requirement for the
Petitioner Aquino III was one of two senators who voted against the approval of the Bill by creation of the legislative district as explicitly provided in Article VI,
the Senate. His co-petitioner, Robredo, is the Mayor of Naga City, which was a part of the former Section 5, Paragraphs (1) and (3) of the Constitution and Section 3 of the
second district from which the municipalities of Gainza and Milaor were taken for inclusion in the new Ordinance appended thereto; and
second district. No other local executive joined the two; neither did the representatives of the former
third and fourth districts of the province. 2. Republic Act 9716 violates the principle of proportional representation as
provided in Article VI, Section 5 paragraphs (1), (3) and (4) of the
Petitioners contend that the reapportionment introduced by Republic Act No. 9716, runs Constitution. 12
afoul of the explicit constitutional standard that requires a minimum population of two hundred fifty
thousand (250,000) for the creation of a legislative district. 5 The petitioners claim that the The provision subject of this case states:
reconfiguration by Republic Act No. 9716 of the first and second districts of Camarines Sur is
Article VI
unconstitutional, because the proposed first district will end up with a population of less than 250,000
or only 176,383. Section 5. (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not
Petitioners rely on Section 5 (3), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution as basis for the cited more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall
250,000 minimum population standard. 6 The provision reads: be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities and the
Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective
Article VI inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as
provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national,
Section 5. (1) . . . regional and sectoral parties or organizations. EaHcDS
(2) . . . (2) . . .
(3) Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, This Court has paved the way away from procedural debates when confronted with issues
contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of at least that, by reason of constitutional importance, need a direct focus of the arguments on their content and
two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative. substance.

(4) Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress The Supreme Court has, on more than one occasion, tempered the application of
shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards procedural rules, 14 as well as relaxed the requirement of locus standiwhenever confronted with an
provided in this section. important issue of overreaching significance to society. 15

On the other hand, the respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General, seek the Hence, in Del Mar v. Philippine Amusement and Gaming
dismissal of the present petition based on procedural and substantive grounds. Corporation (PAGCOR) 16 and Jaworski v. PAGCOR, 17 this Court sanctioned momentary
deviation from the principle of the hierarchy of courts, and took original cognizance of cases raising
On procedural matters, the respondents argue that the petitioners are guilty of two (2) fatal issues of paramount public importance. The Jaworski case ratiocinates: CAaSED
technical defects: first, petitioners committed an error in choosing to assail the constitutionality
of Republic Act No. 9716 via the remedy of Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Granting arguendo that the present action cannot be properly treated as a
Court; and second, the petitioners have no locus standi to question the constitutionality of Republic petition for prohibition, the transcendental importance of the issues involved in
Act No. 9716. this case warrants that we set aside the technical defects and take primary
jurisdiction over the petition at bar. One cannot deny that the issues raised
On substantive matters, the respondents call attention to an apparent distinction between herein have potentially pervasive influence on the social and moral well being of this
cities and provinces drawn by Section 5 (3), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. The respondents nation, specially the youth; hence, their proper and just determination is an
concede the existence of a 250,000 population condition, but argue that a plain and simple reading of imperative need. This is in accordance with the well-entrenched principle that
the questioned provision will show that the same has no application with respect to the creation of rules of procedure are not inflexible tools designed to hinder or delay, but to
legislative districts in provinces. 13 Rather, the 250,000 minimum population is only a requirement for facilitate and promote the administration of justice. Their strict and rigid
the creation of a legislative district in a city. application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate, rather
than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. (Emphasis
In sum, the respondents deny the existence of a fixed population requirement for the
supplied)
reapportionment of districts in provinces. Therefore, Republic Act No. 9716, which only creates an
additional legislative district within the province of Camarines Sur, should be sustained as a perfectly Anent the locus standi requirement, this Court has already uniformly ruled in Kilosbayan v.
valid reapportionment law. Guingona, 18 Tatad v. Executive Secretary, 19 Chavez v. Public Estates
We first pass upon the threshold issues. Authority 20 and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan v. Zamora, 21 just to name a few, that absence
of direct injury on the part of the party seeking judicial review may be excused when the latter is able to
The respondents assert that by choosing to avail themselves of the remedies craft an issue of transcendental importance. In Lim v. Executive Secretary, 22 this Court held that in
of Certiorari and Prohibition, the petitioners have committed a fatal procedural lapse. The respondents cases of transcendental importance, the cases must be settled promptly and definitely, and so, the
cite the following reasons: EHITaS standing requirements may be relaxed. This liberal stance has been echoed in the more recent
decision on Chavez v. Gonzales. 23
1. The instant petition is bereft of any allegation that the respondents had acted
without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion. Given the weight of the issue raised in the instant petition, the foregoing principles must
apply. The beaten path must be taken. We go directly to the determination of whether or not a
2. The remedy of Certiorari and Prohibition must be directed against a tribunal, population of 250,000 is an indispensable constitutional requirement for the creation of a new
board, officer or person, whether exercising judicial, quasi-judicial, or legislative district in a province.
ministerial functions. Respondents maintain that in
implementing Republic Act No. 9716, they were not acting as a judicial or We deny the petition.
quasi-judicial body, nor were they engaging in the performance of a
We start with the basics. Any law duly enacted by Congress carries with it the presumption
ministerial act.
of constitutionality. 24 Before a law may be declared unconstitutional by this Court, there must be a
3. The petitioners could have availed themselves of another plain, speedy and clear showing that a specific provision of the fundamental law has been violated or transgressed.
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Considering that the main When there is neither a violation of a specific provision of the Constitution nor any proof showing that
thrust of the instant petition is the declaration of unconstitutionality there is such a violation, the presumption of constitutionality will prevail and the law must be upheld.
of Republic Act No. 9716, the same could have been ventilated through To doubt is to sustain. 25
apetition for declaratory relief, over which the Supreme Court has only There is no specific provision in the Constitution that fixes a 250,000 minimum population
appellate, not original jurisdiction. that must compose a legislative district. TaCDIc
The respondents likewise allege that the petitioners had failed to show that they had As already mentioned, the petitioners rely on the second sentence of Section 5 (3), Article
sustained, or is in danger of sustaining any substantial injury as a result of the implementation VI of the 1987 Constitution, coupled with what they perceive to be the intent of the framers of the
of Republic Act No. 9716. The respondents, therefore, conclude that the petitioners lack the required Constitution to adopt a minimum population of 250,000 for each legislative district.
legal standing to question the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9716.
The second sentence of Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution, succinctly Apropos for discussion is the provision of the Local Government Code on the creation of a
provides: "Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall province which, by virtue of and upon creation, is entitled to at least a legislative district. Thus, Section
have at least one representative." 461 of the Local Government Code states:
The provision draws a plain and clear distinction between the entitlement of a city to a Requisites for Creation. — (a) A province may be created if it has an
district on one hand, and the entitlement of a province to a district onthe other. For while a province is average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of not less than
entitled to at least a representative, with nothing mentioned about population, a city must first meet a Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices and either of
population minimum of 250,000 in order to be similarly entitled. the following requisites:
The use by the subject provision of a comma to separate the phrase "each city with a (i) a contiguous territory of at least two thousand (2,000) square
population of at least two hundred fifty thousand" from the phrase "or each province" point to no other kilometers, as certified by the Lands Management Bureau;
conclusion than that the 250,000 minimum population is only required for a city, but not for a or DTAcIa
province. 26
(ii) a population of not less than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000)
Plainly read, Section 5 (3) of the Constitution requires a 250,000 minimum population inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office.
only for a city to be entitled to a representative, but not so for a province.
Notably, the requirement of population is not an indispensable requirement, but is merely
The 250,000 minimum population requirement for legislative districts in cities was, in turn,
an alternative addition to the indispensable income requirement.
the subject of interpretation by this Court in Mariano, Jr. v.COMELEC. 27
Mariano, it would turn out, is but a reflection of the pertinent ideas that ran through the
In Mariano, the issue presented was the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7854, which
deliberations on the words and meaning of Section 5 of Article VI.
was the law that converted the Municipality of Makati into a Highly Urbanized City. As it
happened, Republic Act No. 7854 created an additional legislative district for Makati, which at that The whats, whys, and wherefores of the population requirement of "at least two hundred fifty
time was a lone district. The petitioners in that case argued that the creation of an additional district thousand" may be gleaned from the records of the ConstitutionalCommission which, upon framing the
would violate Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution, because the resulting districts would be provisions of Section 5 of Article VI, proceeded to form an ordinance that would be appended to the
supported by a population of less than 250,000, considering that Makati had a total population of only final document. The Ordinance is captioned "APPORTIONING THE SEATS OF THE HOUSE OF
450,000. The Supreme Court sustained the constitutionality of the law and the validity of the newly REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES TO THE DIFFERENT
created district, explaining the operation of the Constitutional phrase "each city with a population of at LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS IN PROVINCES AND CITIES AND THE METROPOLITAN MANILA
least two hundred fifty thousand," to wit:DTEScI AREA." Such records would show that the 250,000 population benchmark was used for the 1986
nationwide apportionment of legislative districts among provinces, cities and Metropolitan Manila.
Petitioners cannot insist that the addition of another legislative district in
Simply put, the population figure was used to determinehow many districts a province, city, or
Makati is not in accord with section 5(3), Article VI of the Constitution for as of the
Metropolitan Manila should have. Simply discernible too is the fact that, for the purpose, population
latest survey (1990 census), the population of Makati stands at only four hundred
had to be the determinant. Even then, the requirement of 250,000 inhabitants was not taken as an
fifty thousand (450,000). Said section provides, inter alia, that a city with a
absolute minimum for one legislative district. And, closer to the point herein at issue, in the
population of at least two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) shall have at least one
determination of the precise district within the province to which, through the use of the population
representative. Even granting that the population of Makati as of the 1990
benchmark, so many districts have been apportioned, population as a factor was not the sole, though
census stood at four hundred fifty thousand (450,000), its legislative district
it was among, several determinants.
may still be increased since it has met the minimum population requirement
of two hundred fifty thousand (250,000). In fact, Section 3 of the Ordinance From its journal, 29 we can see that the Constitutional Commission originally divided the
appended to the Constitution provides that a city whose population entire country into two hundred (200) districts, which corresponded to the original number of district
has increased to more than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) shall be representatives. The 200 seats were distributed by the Constitutional Commission in this
entitled to at least one congressional representative. 28 (Emphasis supplied) manner: first, one (1) seat each was given to the seventy-three (73) provinces and the ten (10) cities
with a population of at least 250,000; 30 second, the remaining seats were then redistributed among
The Mariano case limited the application of the 250,000 minimum population requirement the provinces, cities and the Metropolitan Area "in accordance with the number of their
for cities only to its initial legislative district. In other words, while Section 5 (3), Article VI of the inhabitants on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio." 31 Commissioner Davide, who later
Constitution requires a city to have a minimum population of 250,000 to be entitled to a representative, became a Member and then Chief Justice of the Court, explained this in his sponsorship remark 32 for
it does not have to increase its population by another 250,000 to be entitled to an additional district. the Ordinance to be appended to the 1987 Constitution:
There is no reason why the Mariano case, which involves the creation of Commissioner Davide: The ordinance fixes at 200 the number of
an additional district within a city, should not be applied to additional districts in provinces. Indeed, if legislative seats which are, in turn, apportioned among provinces and cities with a
an additional legislative district created within a city is not required to represent a population of at least population of at least 250,000 and the Metropolitan Area in accordance with the
250,000 in order to be valid, neither should such be needed for an additional district in a province, number of their respective inhabitants on the basis of a uniform and progressive
considering moreover that a province is entitled to an initial seat by the mere fact of its creation and ratio. The population is based on the 1986 projection, with the 1980 official
regardless of its population. enumeration as the point of reckoning. This projection indicates that our population
is more or less 56 million. Taking into account the mandate that each city with at
least 250,000 inhabitants and each province shall have at least one On the districting of Palawan, Mr. Nolledo pointed out that it was
representative, we first allotted one seat for each of the 73 provinces, and explained in the interpellations that District I has a total population of 265,358
each one for all cities with a population of at least 250,000, which are the including the City of Puerto Princesa, while the Second District has a total
Cities of Manila, Quezon, Pasay, Caloocan, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cagayan de population of 186,733. He proposed, however, that Puerto Princesa be included in
Oro, Davao and Zamboanga. Thereafter, we then proceed[ed] to increase the Second District in order to satisfy the contiguity requirement in the
whenever appropriate the number of seats for the provinces and cities in Constitution considering that said City is nearer the southern towns comprising the
accordance with the number of their inhabitants on the basis of a uniform and Second District. DEIHAa
progressive ratio. (Emphasis supplied). cEAIHa
In reply to Mr. Monsod's query, Mr. Nolledo explained that with the
Thus was the number of seats computed for each province and city. Differentiated from this, proposed transfer of Puerto Princesa City to the Second District, the First District
the determination of the districts within the province had to consider "all protests and complaints would only have a total population of 190,000 while the Second District would have
formally received" which, the records show, dealt with determinants other than population as already 262,213, and there would be no substantial changes.
mentioned.
Mr. Davide accepted Mr. Nolledo's proposal to insert Puerto Princesa City
Palawan is a case in point. Journal No. 107 of the Constitutional Commission narrates: before the Municipality of Aborlan.
INTERPELLATION OF MR. NOLLEDO: There being no objection on the part of the Members the same was
approved by the Body.
Mr. Nolledo inquired on the reason for including Puerto Princesa in the
northern towns when it was more affinity with the southern town of Aborlan, APPROVAL OF THE APPORTIONMENT AND DISTRICTING OF PALAWAN
Batarasa, Brooke's Point, Narra, Quezon and Marcos. He stated that the First
District has a greater area than the Second District. He then queried whether There being no other amendment, on motion of Mr. Davide, there being
population was the only factor considered by the Committee in redistricting. no objection, the apportionment and districting for the province of Palawan was
approved by the Body. 34
Replying thereto, Mr. Davide explained that the Committee took into
account the standards set in Section 5 of the Article on the Legislative Department, The districting of Palawan disregarded the 250,000 population figure. It was decided by the
namely: 1) the legislative seats should be apportioned among the provinces and importance of the towns and the city that eventually composed the districts.
cities and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with their inhabitants on the
basis of a uniform and progressive ratio; and 2) the legislative district must be Benguet and Baguio are another reference point. The Journal further narrates:
compact, adjacent and contiguous. At this juncture, Mr. Davide informed the Body that Mr. Regalado made a
reservation with the Committee for the possible reopening of the approval of Region
Mr. Nolledo pointed out that the last factor was not met when Puerto
I with respect to Benguet and Baguio City.
Princesa was included with the northern towns. He then inquired what is the
distance between Puerto Princesa from San Vicente. REMARKS OF MR. REGALADO
xxx xxx xxx Mr. Regalado stated that in the formulation of the Committee, Baguio City
and Tuba are placed in one district. He stated that he was toying with the idea that,
Thereupon, Mr. Nolledo stated that Puerto Princesa has a population of
perhaps as a special consideration for Baguio because it is the summer capital of
75,480 and based on the apportionment, its inclusion with the northern towns would
the Philippines, Tuba could be divorced from Baguio City so that it could, by itself,
result in a combined population of 265,000 as against only 186,000 for the south. He
have its own constituency and Tuba could be transferred to the Second District
added that Cuyo and Coron are very important towns in the northern part of
together with Itogon. Mr. Davide, however, pointed out that the population of Baguio
Palawan and, in fact, Cuyo was the capital of Palawan before its transfer to Puerto
City is only 141,149.
Princesa. He also pointed out that there are more potential candidates in the north
and therefore if Puerto Princesa City and the towns of Cuyo and Coron are lumped Mr. Regalado admitted that the regular population of Baguio may be lower
together, there would be less candidates in the south, most of whose inhabitants are during certain times of the year, but the transient population would increase the
not interested in politics. He then suggested that Puerto Princesa be included in the population substantially and, therefore, for purposes of business and professional
south or the Second District. transactions, it is beyond question that population-wise, Baguio would more than
qualify, not to speak of the official business matters, transactions and offices that are
Mr. Davide stated that the proposal would be considered during the
also there. cSTCDA
period of amendments. He requested that the COMELEC staff study said
proposal. 33 Mr. Davide adverted to Director de Lima's statement that unless Tuba and
Baguio City are united, Tuba will be isolated from the rest of Benguet as the place
"PROPOSED AMENDMENT OF MR. NOLLEDO
can only be reached by passing through Baguio City. He stated that the Committee
would submit the matter to the Body.
Upon inquiry of the Chair whether he is insisting on his amendment, Mr. qua non for the formation of an additional legislative district in a province, whose population growth
Regalado stated that the Body should have a say on the matter and that the has increased beyond the 1986 numbers.
considerations he had given are not on the demographic aspects but on the fact
that Baguio City is the summer capital, the venue and situs of many government Translated in the terms of the present case:
offices and functions. 1. The Province of Camarines Sur, with an estimated population of
1,693,821 in 2007 is — based on the formula and constant number of 250,000 used
On motion of Mr. Davide, there being no objection, the Body approved the
by the Constitutional Commission in nationally apportioning legislative districts
reconsideration of the earlier approval of the apportionment and districting of Region
among provinces and cities — entitled to two (2) districts in addition to the four (4)
I, particularly Benguet.
that it was given in the 1986 apportionment. Significantly,
Thereafter, on motion of Mr. Davide, there being no objection, the petitioner Aquino concedes this point. 40 In other words, Section 5 of Article VI as
amendment of Mr. Regalado was put to a vote. With 14 Members voting in favor and clearly written allows and does not prohibit an additional district for the Province of
none against, the amendment was approved by the Body. Camarines Sur, such as that provided for in Republic Act No. 9786;

Mr. Davide informed that in view of the approval of the amendment, 2. Based on the pith and pitch of the exchanges on the Ordinance on the
Benguet with Baguio City will have two seats. The First District shall comprise of the protests and complaints against strict conformity with the population standard, and
municipalities of Mankayan, Buguias, Bakun, Kabayan, Kibungan, Bokod, Atok, more importantly based on the final districting in the
Kapangan, Tublay, La Trinidad, Sablan, Itogon and Tuba. The Second District shall Ordinance on considerations other than population, the reapportionment or the
comprise of Baguio City alone. recomposition of the first and second legislative districts in the Province of
Camarines Sur that resulted in the creation of a new legislative district is valideven
There being no objection, the Body approved the apportionment and if the population of the new district is 176,383 and not 250,000 as insisted upon by
districting of Region I. 35 the petitioners. EcIaTA

Quite emphatically, population was explicitly removed as a factor. 3. The factors mentioned during the deliberations on House Bill No. 4264,
were:
It may be additionally mentioned that the province of Cavite was divided into districts
based on the distribution of its three cities, with each district having a city: one district "supposed to be (a) the dialects spoken in the grouped municipalities;
a fishing area; another a vegetable and fruit area; and the third, a rice growing area," because such
consideration "fosters common interests in line with the standard of compactness." 36 In the districting (b) the size of the original groupings compared to that of the regrouped
of Maguindanao, among the matters discussed were "political stability and common interest among municipalities;
the people in the area" and the possibility of "chaos and disunity" considering the "accepted regional,
political, traditional and sectoral leaders." 37 For Laguna, it was mentioned that municipalities in the (c) the natural division separating the municipality subject of the
highland should not be grouped with the towns in the lowland. For Cebu, Commissioner Maambong discussion from the reconfigured District One; and
proposed that they should "balance the area and population." 38 (d) the balancing of the areas of the three districts resulting from the
Consistent with Mariano and with the framer deliberations on district apportionment, we redistricting of Districts One and Two. 41
stated in Bagabuyo v. COMELEC 39 that: TcSHaD
Each of such factors and in relation to the others considered together, with the increased
. . . Undeniably, these figures show a disparity in the population sizes of population of the erstwhile Districts One and Two, point to the utter absence of abuse of discretion,
the districts. The Constitution, however, does not require mathematical much less grave abuse of discretion, 42 that would warrant the invalidation of Republic Act No. 9716.
exactitude or rigid equality as a standard in gauging equality of
To be clear about our judgment, we do not say that in the reapportionment of the first and
representation. . . . . To ensure quality representation through commonality of
second legislative districts of Camarines Sur, the number of inhabitants in the resulting additional
interests and ease of access by the representative to the constituents, all that the
district should not be considered. Our ruling is that population is not the only factor but is just one of
Constitution requires is that every legislative district should comprise, as far as
several other factors in the composition of the additional district. Such settlement is in accord with both
practicable, contiguous, compact and adjacent territory. (Emphasis supplied).
the text of the Constitution and the spirit of the letter, so very clearly given form in the Constitutional
This 2008 pronouncement is fresh reasoning against the uncompromising stand of debates on the exact issue presented by this petition.
petitioner that an additional provincial legislative district, which does not have at least a 250,000 WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. Republic Act No. 9716 entitled "An Act
population is not allowed by the Constitution. Reapportioning the Composition of the First (1st) and Second (2nd) Legislative Districts in the
The foregoing reading and review lead to a clear lesson. Province of Camarines Sur and Thereby Creating a New Legislative District From Such
Reapportionment" is a VALID LAW.
Neither in the text nor in the essence of Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution can, the
petition find support. And the formulation of the Ordinance in the implementation of the provision, nay, SO ORDERED.
even the Ordinance itself, refutes the contention that a population of 250,000 is a constitutional sine
Corona, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Leonardo-de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Del
Castillo and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Puno, C.J., I join the dissenting opinion of J. Carpio.
Carpio, J., see dissenting opinion.
Carpio Morales, J., please see concurring and dissenting opinion.
Brion, J., I join opinion of J. CC Morales.
Abad, J., is on official leave.
Villarama, Jr., J., I join Justice Morales' concurring and dissenting opinion.
||| (Aquino III v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 189793, [April 7, 2010], 631 PHIL 595-652)
EN BANC The 1987 Constitution requires that for a city to have a legislative district, the city must have
"a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand." 5 The only issue here is whether the City of
Malolos has a population of at least 250,000, whether actual or projected, for the purpose of creating a
[G.R. No. 188078. January 25, 2010.] legislative district for the City of Malolos in time for the 10 May 2010 elections. If not, then RA
9591 creating a legislative district in the City of Malolos is unconstitutional.
VICTORINO B. ALDABA, CARLO JOLETTE S. FAJARDO, JULIO G. MORADA, House Bill No. 3693 cites the undated Certification of Regional Director Alberto N.
and Miranda of Region III of the National Statistics Office (NSO) as authority that the population of the
MINERVA ALDABA MORADA, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ONELECTIONS, r City of Malolos "will be 254,030 by the year 2010." The Certification states that the population of
espondent. "Malolos, Bulacan as of May 1, 2000 is 175,291." The Certification further states that it was "issued
upon the request of Mayor Danilo A. Domingo of the City of Malolos in connection with the proposed
creation of Malolos City as a lone congressional district of the Province of Bulacan." 6

The Certification of Regional Director Miranda, which is based on demographic


DECISION projections, is without legal effect because Regional Director Miranda has no basis and no authority to
issue the Certification. The Certification is also void on its face because based on its own growth rate
assumption, the population of Malolos will be less than 250,000 in the year 2010. In addition,
intercensal demographic projections cannot be made for the entire year. In any event, a city whose
CARPIO, J p: population has increased to 250,000 is entitled to have a legislative district only in the "immediately
following election" 7 after the attainment of the 250,000 population.
The Case
First, certifications on demographic projections can be issued only if such projections
This is an original action for Prohibition to declare unconstitutional Republic Act No. 9591 are declared official by the National Statistics Coordination
(RA 9591), creating a legislative district for the city of Malolos, Bulacan, for violating the minimum Board(NSCB). Second, certifications based on demographic projections can be issued only by the
population requirement for the creation of a legislative district in a city. NSO Administrator or his designated certifying officer. Third,intercensal population projections
must be as of the middle of every year.
Antecedents
Section 6 of Executive Order No. 135 8 dated 6 November 1993 issued by President
Before 1 May 2009, the province of Bulacan was represented in Congress through four Fidel V. Ramos provides:
legislative districts. The First Legislative District comprised of the city of Malolos 1 and the
municipalities of Hagonoy, Calumpit, Pulilan, Bulacan, and Paombong. On 1 May 2009, RA SECTION 6. Guidelines on the Issuance of Certification of Population
9591 lapsed into law, amending Malolos' City Charter, 2by creating a separate legislative district for sizes Pursuant to Section 7, 386, 442, 450, 452, and 461 of the New Local
the city. At the time the legislative bills for RA 9591 were filed in Congress in 2007, namely, House Bill Government Code. HEcaIC
No. 3162 (later converted to House Bill No. 3693) and Senate Bill No. 1986, the population of Malolos
City was 223,069. The population of Malolos City on 1 May 2009 is a contested fact but there is no (a) The National Statistics Office shall issue certification on data that it
dispute that House Bill No. 3693 relied on an undated certification issued by a Regional Director of the has collected and processed as well as on statistics that it has estimated.
National Statistics Office (NSO) that "the projected population of the Municipality of Malolos will be
(b) For census years, certification on population size will be
254,030 by the year 2010 using the population growth rate of 3.78 between 1995 to 2000." 3
based on actual population census counts; while for the intercensal years, the
Petitioners, taxpayers, registered voters and residents of Malolos City, filed this petition certification will be made on the basis of a set of demographic projections or
contending that RA 9591 is unconstitutional for failing to meet the minimum population threshold of estimates declared official by the National Statistical Coordination Board
250,000 for a city to merit representation in Congress as provided under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the (NSCB).
1987 Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution.
(c) Certification of population census counts will be made as of the
In its Comment to the petition, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) contended that census reference date, such as May 1, 1990, while those of intercensal
Congress' use of projected population is non-justiciable as it involves a determination on the "wisdom population estimates will be as of middle of every year.
of the standard adopted by the legislature to determine compliance with [a constitutional
requirement]." 4 DECSIT (d) Certification of population size based on projections may specify the
range within which the true count is deemed likely to fall. The range will correspond
The Ruling of the Court to the official low and high population projections.
We grant the petition and declare RA 9591 unconstitutional for being violative of Section 5 (e) The smallest geographic area for which a certification on population
(3), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the 1987 size may be issued will be the barangay for census population counts, and the city
Constitution. or municipality for intercensal estimates. If an LGU wants to conduct its own
population census, during off-census years, approval must be sought from the
NSCB and the conduct must be under the technical supervision of NSO from estimates, however, will be issued by the NSO Administrator or his
planning to data processing. designated certifying officer. 12 (Emphasis supplied)

(f) Certifications of population size based on published census results Any population projection forming the basis for the creation of a legislative district must be
shall be issued by the Provincial Census Officers or by the Regional Census based on an official and credible source. That is why the OSG citedExecutive Order No. 135,
Officers.Certifications based on projections or estimates, however, will be otherwise the population projection would be unreliable or speculative.
issued by the NSO Administrator or his designated certifying officer.
(Emphasis supplied) Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution provides:
Any province that may be created, or any city whose population may
The Certification of Regional Director Miranda does not state that the demographic
hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the
projections he certified have been declared official by the NSCB. The records of this case do not also
immediately following election to at least one Member or such number of
show that the Certification of Regional Director Miranda is based on demographic projections
members as it may be entitled to on the basis of the number of its inhabitants and
declared official by the NSCB. The Certification, which states that the population of Malolos "will be
according to the standards set forth in paragraph (3), Section 5 of Article VI of the
254,030 by the year 2010," violates the requirement that intercensal demographic projections shall be
Constitution. . . . . (Emphasis supplied) ITCHSa
"as of the middle of every year." In addition, there is no showing that Regional Director Miranda has
been designated by the NSO Administrator as a certifying officer for demographic projections in A city that has attained a population of 250,000 is entitled to a legislative district only in the
Region III. In the absence of such official designation, only the certification of the NSO Administrator "immediately following election." In short, a city must first attain the 250,000 population, and
can be given credence by this Court. thereafter, in the immediately following election, such city shall have a district representative. There is
no showing in the present case that the City of Malolos has attained or will attain a population
Moreover, the Certification states that "the total population of Malolos, Bulacan as of May 1,
2000 is 175,291." The Certification also states that the population growth rate of Malolos is 3.78% per of 250,000, whether actual or projected, before the 10 May 2010 elections.
year between 1995 and 2000. Based on a growth rate of 3.78% per year, the population of Malolos of Clearly, there is no official record that the population of the City of Malolos will be at
175,291 in 2000 will grow to only 241,550 in 2010. DcICEa least 250,000, actual or projected, prior to the 10 May 2010elections, the immediately following
election after the supposed attainment of such population. Thus, the City of Malolos is not
Also, the 2007 Census places the population of Malolos at 223,069 as of 1 August
2007. 9 Based on a growth rate of 3.78%, the population of Malolos will grow to only 248,365 as of 1 qualified to have a legislative district of its own under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the 1987
August 2010. Even if the growth rate is compounded yearly, the population of Malolos of Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution.
223,069 as of 1 August 2007 will grow to only 249,333 as of 1 August 2010. 10 On the OSG's contention that Congress' choice of means to comply with the population
All these conflict with what the Certification states that the population of Malolos "will be requirement in the creation of a legislative district is non-justiciable, suffice it to say that questions
254,030 by the year 2010." Based on the Certification's own growth rate assumption, the population of calling for judicial determination of compliance with constitutional standards by other branches of the
Malolos will be less than 250,000 before the 10 May 2010 elections. Incidentally, the NSO has no government are fundamentally justiciable. The resolution of such questions falls within the checking
published population projections for individual municipalities or cities but only for entire regions and function of this Court under the 1987 Constitution to determine whether there has been a grave abuse
provinces. 11 of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of
the Government. 13
Executive Order No. 135 cannot simply be brushed aside. The OSG, representing
respondent Commission on Elections, invoked Executive Order No. 135 in its Comment, thus: Even under the 1935 Constitution, this Court had already ruled, "The overwhelming weight
of authority is that district apportionment laws are subject to review by the courts." 14 Compliance with
Here, based on the NSO projection, "the population of the Municipality of constitutional standards on the creation of legislative districts is important because the "aim of
Malolos will be 254,030 by the year 2010 using the population growth rate of 3.78 legislative apportionment is 'to equalize population and voting power among districts.'" 15
between 1995-2000." This projection issued by the authority of the NSO
Administrator is recognized under Executive Order No. 135 (The WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We DECLARE Republic Act No.
Guidelines on the Issuance of Certification of Population Sizes), which states: 9591 UNCONSTITUTIONAL for being violative of Section 5 (3), Article VI of the 1987
Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution.
xxx xxx xxx
SO ORDERED.
(d) Certification of population size based on projections may Puno, C.J., Carpio Morales, Brion, Del Castillo, Villarama, Jr., and Perez, JJ., concur.
specify the range within which the true count is deemed likely to fall. The
range will correspond to the official low and high population projections. Corona, Nachura, Leonardo-de Castro, Peralta and Bersamin, JJ., join the dissent of J.
Abad.
xxx xxx xxx
Velasco, Jr., J., took no part due to relationship.
(f) Certifications of population size based on published census
results shall be issued by the Provincial Census Officers or by the Abad, J., see dissenting opinion.
Regional Census Officers. Certifications based on projections or Mendoza, J., is on leave.
||| (Aldaba v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 188078, [January 25, 2010], 624 PHIL 805-823)
EN BANC It is well settled that the passage of apportionment acts is not so
exclusively within the political power of the legislature as to preclude a court from
inquiring into their constitutionality when the question is properly brought before it.
[G.R. No. 188078. March 15, 2010.]
It may be added in this connection, that the mere impact of the suit upon
the political situation does not render it political instead of judicial.
VICTORINO B. ALDABA, CARLO JOLETTE S. FAJARDO, JULIO G. MORADA,
and The alleged circumstance that this statute improves the present
MINERVA ALDABA MORADA, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ONELECTIONS, r set-up constitutes no excuse for approving a transgression of constitutional
espondent. limitations, because the end does not justify the means. Furthermore, there is
no reason to doubt that, aware of the existing inequality of representation, and
impelled by its sense of duty, Congress will opportunely approve remedial
legislation in accord with the precepts of the Constitution. 6 (Emphasis supplied;
RESOLUTION internal citations omitted)

To deny the Court the exercise of its judicial review power over RA 9591 is to contend that
this Court has no power "to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
CARPIO, J p: Government," a duty mandated under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. Indeed, if we
subscribe to the COMELEC's theory, this Court would be reduced to rubberstamping laws creating
This resolves the motion for reconsideration of legislative districts no matter how unreliable and non-authoritative the population indicators Congress
respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) of the Decision dated 25 January 2010. 1 used to justify their creation. There can be no surer way to render meaningless the limitation in Section
5 (3), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. 7
The COMELEC grounds its motion on the singular reason, already considered and rejected
in the Decision, that Congress' reliance on the Certification of Alberto N. Miranda (Miranda), Region III Second. Under Executive Order No. 135 (EO 135), the population indicators Congress used
Director, National Statistics Office (NSO), projecting Malolos City's population in 2010, is to measure Malolos City's compliance with the constitutional limitation are unreliable and
non-justiciable. The COMELEC also calls attention to the other sources of Malolos City's population non-authoritative. On Miranda's Certification, (that the "projected population of the [City] of Malolos
indicators as of 2007 (2007 Census of Population — PMS 3 — Progress Enumeration Report) 2 and will be 254,030 by the year 2010 using the population growth rate of 3.78[%] between 1995 and 2000"),
as of 2008 (Certification of the City of Malolos' Water District, dated 31 July 2008, 3 and Certification of this fell short of EO 135's requirements that (a) for intercensal years, the certification should
the Liga ng Barangay, dated 22 August 2008) 4 which Congress allegedly used in enacting Republic be based on a set of demographic projections and estimates declared official by the National
Act No. 9591 (RA 9591). The COMELEC extends its non-justiciability argument to these materials. Statistical and Coordination Board (NSCB); (b) certifications onintercensal population estimates will
be as of the middle of every year; and (c) certifications based on projections or estimates must be
We find no reason to grant the motion. issued by the NSO Administrator or his designated certifying officer. Further, using Miranda's own
First. It will not do for the COMELEC to insist that the reliability and authoritativeness of the growth rate assumption of 3.78%, Malolos City's population as of 1 August 2010 will only be 249,333,
population indicators Congress used in enacting RA 9591 are non-justiciable. If laws creating below the constitutional threshold of 250,000 (using as base Malolos City's population as of 1 August
legislative districts are unquestionably within the ambit of this Court's judicial review power, 5 then 2007 which is 223,069). That Miranda issued his Certification "by authority of the NSO administrator"
there is more reason to hold justiciable subsidiary questions impacting on their constitutionality, such does not make the document reliable as it neither makes Miranda the NSO Administrator's designated
as their compliance with a specific constitutional limitation under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the 1987 certifying officer nor cures the Certification of its fatal defects for failing to use demographic projections
Constitution that only cities with at least 250,000 constituents are entitled to representation in and estimates declared official by the NSCB or make the projection as of the middle of 2010.
Congress. To fulfill this obligation, the Court, of necessity, must inquire into the authoritativeness and Nor are the 2007 Census of Population — PMS 3 — Progress Enumeration Report, the
reliability of the population indicators Congress used to comply with the constitutional limitation. Thus, Certification of the City of Malolos' Water District, dated 31 July 2008 and the Certification of the Liga
nearly five decades ago, we already rejected claims of non-justiciability of an apportionment law ng Barangay, dated 22 August 2008, reliable because none of them qualifies as authoritative
alleged to violate the constitutional requirement of proportional representation: population indicator under EO 135. The 2007 Census of Population — PMS 3 — Progress
It is argued in the motion to reconsider, that since Republic Act Enumeration Report merely contains preliminary data on the population census of Bulacan which
3040 improves existing conditions, this Court could perhaps, in the exercise of were subsequently adjusted to reflect actual population as indicated in the 2007 Census results
judicial statesmanship, consider the question involved as purely political and (showing Malolos City's population at 223,069). The COMELEC, through the Office of the Solicitor
therefore non-justiciable. The overwhelming weight of authority is that district General (OSG), adopts Malolos City's claim that the 2007 census for Malolos City was "sloped to
apportionment laws are subject to review by the courts[:] TCDcSE make it appear that come Year 2010, the population count for Malolos would still fall short of the
constitutional requirement." 8 This unbecoming attack by the government's chief counsel on the
The constitutionality of a legislative apportionment act is a integrity of the processes of the government's census authority has no place in our judicial system.
judicial question, and not one which the court cannot consider on the The OSG ought to know that absent convincing proof of so-called data "sloping," the NSO enjoys the
ground that it is a political question. presumption of the regularity in the performance of its functions. CDHaET
The Certification of the City of Malolos' Water District fares no better. EO 135 excludes from constitutional requirements of geographic unity and population floor, ensuring efficient representation
its ambit certifications from a public utility gathered incidentally in the course of pursuing its business. of the minimum mass of constituents.
To elevate the water district's so-called population census to the level of credibility NSO certifications
WHEREFORE, the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration of
enjoy is to render useless the existence of NSO. This will allow population data incidentally gathered
respondent Commission on Elections dated 22 February 2010 is DENIED WITH FINALITY. Let no
by electric, telephone, sewage, and other utilities to enter into legislative processes even though these
private entities are not in the business of generating statistical data and thus lack the scientific training, further pleadings be allowed.
experience and competence to handle, collate and process them. SO ORDERED.
Similarly, the Certification of the Liga ng Barangay is not authoritative because much like the ||| (Aldaba v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 188078 (Resolution), [March 15, 2010], 629 PHIL
Malolos City Water District, the Liga ng Barangay is not authorized to conduct population census, 537-546)
much less during off-census years. The non-NSO entities EO 135 authorizes to conduct population
census are local government units(that is, province, city, municipality or barangay) subject to the prior
approval of the NSCB and under the technical supervision of the NSO from planning to data
processing. 9
By presenting these alternative population indicators with their widely divergent population
figures, 10 the COMELEC unwittingly highlighted the danger of relying on non-NSO authorized
certifications. EO 135's stringent standards ensuring reliability of population census cannot be diluted
as these data lie at the core of crucial government decisions and, in this case, the legislative function
of enforcing the constitutional mandate of creating congressional districts in cities with at least 250,000
constituents.
There can be no doubt on the applicability of EO 135 to test the constitutionality of RA 9591.
The COMELEC invoked EO 135 to convince the Court of the credibility and authoritativeness of
Miranda's certificate. 11 It is hardly alien for the Court to adopt standards contained in a parallel
statute to fill gaps in the law in the absence of an express prohibition. 12 Indeed, one is hard-pressed
to find any distinction, statistically speaking, on the reliability of an NSO certification of a city's
population for purposes of creating its legislative district and for purposes of converting it to a
highly-urbanized or an independent component city. 13 Congress itself confirms the wisdom and
relevance of EO 135's paradigm of privileging NSO certifications by mandating that compliance with
the population requirement in the creation and conversion of local government units shall be
proved exclusively by an NSO certification. 14 Unquestionably, representation in Congress is no less
important than the creation of local government units in enhancing our democratic institutions, thus
both processes should be subject to the same stringent standards.
Third. Malolos City is entitled to representation in Congress only if, before the 10 May
2010 elections, it breaches the 250,000 population mark following the mandate in Section 3 of the
Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution that "any city whose population may hereafter increase
to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at
least one Member." COMELEC neither alleged nor proved that Malolos City is in compliance with
Section 3 of the Ordinance. IDaEHC
Fourth. Aside from failing to comply with Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution on the
population requirement, the creation by RA 9591 of a legislative district for Malolos City, carving
the city from the former First Legislative District, leaves the town of Bulacan isolated from the
rest of the geographic mass of that district. 15 This contravenes the requirement in Section 5 (3),
Article VI that each legislative district shall "comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact,
and adjacent territory." It is no argument to say, as the OSG does, that it was impracticable for
Congress to create a district with contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory because Malolos city lies
at the center of the First Legislative District. The geographic lay-out of the First Legislative District is
not an insuperable condition making compliance with Section 5 (3) impracticable. To adhere to the
constitutional mandate, and thus maintain fidelity to its purpose of ensuring efficient representation,
the practicable alternative for Congress was to include the municipality of Bulacan in Malolos City's
legislative district. Although unorthodox, the resulting contiguous and compact district fulfills the
EN BANC On October 12, 2009, the President approved Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9716, 8 which
reapportioned the legislative districts in Camarines Sur in the following manner:EICSTa

[G.R. No. 207851. July 8, 2014.] District Before the Enactment of After the Enactment of

R.A. No. 9716 R.A. No. 9716


ANGEL G. NAVAL, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and NELSON
B. JULIA, respondents.
1st Libmanan, Minalabac, Del Gallego, Ragay, Lupi,

Pamplona, Pasacao, San Sipocot, Cabusao


DECISION
Fernando, Del Gallego,

Ragay, Lupi, Sipocot,


REYES, J p: Cabusao

A politician thinks of the next election —


a statesman of the next generation.
2nd Naga City, Pili, Ocampo, Libmanan, Minalabac,
- James Freeman Clarke, American preacher and author
Camaligan, Canaman, Pamplona, Pasacao, San
The Case
Magarao, Bombon, Fernando, Gainza, Milaor
A provincial board member cannot be elected and serve for more than three consecutive terms.
But then, the Court is now called upon to resolve the following questions. First. What are the consequences Calabanga, 9 Gainza,
to the provincial board member's eligibility to run for the same elective position if the legislative district,
which brought him or her to office to serve the first two consecutive terms, be reapportioned in such a way Milaor
that 8 out of its 10 town constituencies are carved out and renamed as another district? Second. Is the
provincial board member's election to the same position for the third and fourth time, but now in
representation of the renamed district, a violation of the three-term limit rule?
3rd Caramoan, Garchitorena, Naga City, Pili, Ocampo,
Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari with an Urgent Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary
Restraining Order and a Writ of Preliminary Injunction 1 filed under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court to assail Goa, Lagonoy, Presentacion, Camaligan, Canaman,
the following resolutions of the public respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC):
Sangay, San Jose, Tigaon, Magarao, Bombon,
(a) Resolution 2 (first assailed resolution) issued by the Second Division on March 5,
Tinambac, Siruma Calabanga
2013, in SPA No. 13-166 (DC), granting the petition filed by Nelson B.
Julia (Julia), seeking to cancel the Certificate of Candidacy 3 (COC) as
Member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Camarines
Sur (Sanggunian) of Angel G. Naval (Naval), who is allegedly violating 4th Iriga City, Baao, Balatan, Caramoan, Garchitorena,
the three-term limit imposed upon elective local officials as provided for in
Article X, Section 8 4 of the 1987 Constitution, and Section 43 Bato, Buhi, Bula, Nabua Goa, Lagonoy,
(b) 5 of the Local Government Code (LGC); and
Presentacion, Sangay,
(b) En Banc Resolution 6 (second assailed resolution) issued on June 5, 2013, San
denying Naval's Motion for Reconsideration 7 to the Resolution dated
March 5, 2013. Jose, Tigaon, Tinambac,

Antecedents Siruma

From 2004 to 2007 and 2007 to 2010, Naval had been elected and had served as a member of
the Sanggunian, Second District, Province of Camarines Sur.
5th Iriga City, Baao, Balatan,
Bato, Buhi, Bula, Nabua . . . The first requisite does not only describe a candidate who has been
elected for public office for three consecutive terms. The candidate must have been
elected in the same local government post. This connotes that the candidate must
have been in the same elective position serving the same constituency who elected
Notably, 8 out of 10 towns were taken from the old Second District to form the present Third him to office for three consecutive terms.
District. The present Second District is composed of the two remaining towns, Gainza and Milaor, merged
with five towns from the old First District. xxx xxx xxx
In the 2010 elections, Naval once again won as among the members of the Sanggunian, Third The three-term limit rule was designed by the framers of the
District. He served until 2013. Constitution to prevent the monopoly of power centered only on a chosen few. The
said disqualification was primarily intended to forestall the accumulation of massive
In the 2013 elections, Naval ran anew and was re-elected as Member of the Sanggunian, Third political power by an elective local government official in a given locality in order to
District. perpetuate his tenure in office. The framers also considered the necessity of the
Julia was likewise a Sanggunian Member candidate from the Third District in the enhancement of the freedom of choice of the electorate by broadening the selection
2013 elections. On October 29, 2012, he invoked Section 78 10 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) and of would-be elective public officers. By rendering ineligible for public office those
filed before the COMELEC a Verified Petition to Deny Due Course or to Cancel the Certificate of who have been elected and served for three consecutive terms in the same public
Candidacy 11 of Naval. Julia posited that Navalhad fully served the entire Province of Camarines Sur for elective post, the prohibition seeks to infuse new blood in the political arena.
three consecutive terms as a member of the Sanggunian, irrespective of the district he had been elected xxx xxx xxx
from. The three-term limit rule's application is more with reference to the same local elective post, and not
necessarily in connection with an identical territorial jurisdiction. Allowing Naval to run as . . . [T]he new Third District where [Naval] was elected and has served is
a Sanggunian member for the fourth time is violative of the inflexible three-term limit rule enshrined in the composed of the same municipalities comprising the previous Second District,
Constitution and the LGC, which must be strictly construed. 12 HSATIC absent the towns Gainza and [Milaor]. The territorial jurisdiction [Naval] seeks to
serve for the term 2013-2016 is the same as the territorial jurisdiction he previously
The Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division
served. The electorate who voted for him in 2004, 2007 and 2010 is the same
In the first assailed resolution issued on March 5, 2013, the COMELEC Second Division electorate who shall vote for him come May 13, 2013 Elections. They are the same
cancelled Naval's COC on grounds stated below: group of voters who elected him into office for three consecutive terms. EAIaHD

[W]hen a candidate for public office swears in his COC that he is eligible for the The resolution of this Commission in the case of Bandillo, et al[.] v.
elective posts he seeks, while, in reality, he knowingly lacks the necessary Hernandez (SPA No. 10-078) 13 cannot be applied in the case at bar. Hernandez
requirements for eligibility, he commits a false material misrepresentation who then hailed from Libmanan belonged to the First District of Camarines Sur.
cognizable under Section 78 of the [OEC]. With Republic Act 9716, Libmanan, Minalabac, Pamplona, Pasacao and San
Fernando, all originally belonging to the First District, were merged with Gainza and
xxx xxx xxx Milaor to form the Second District. With the addition of the municipalities of Gainza
and Milaor, it cannot be said that the previous First District became the Second
The Supreme Court[,] in the case of Lonzanida v. [COMELEC][,] detailed District only by name. The voters of Gainza and Milaor added to the electorate of the
the important components of [Article X, Section 8 of the Constitution]: new Second District formed a different electorate, different from the one which voted
This Court held that the two conditions for the application of for Hernandez in the 2001, 2004 and 2007 elections. In the case at bar, the
the disqualification must concur: 1) that the official municipalities comprising the new Third District are the same municipalities that
concerned has been elected for three consecutive terms consisted of the previous Second [District], absent Milaor and Gainza.
in the same local government post and 2) that he has The Supreme Court, in Latasa v. [COMELEC], ruled that the conversion
fully served three consecutive terms. It stated: of the municipality into a city did not convert the office of the municipal mayor into a
To recapitulate, the term limit for elective local local government post different from the office of the city mayor[.]
officials must be taken to refer to the right to be xxx xxx xxx 14 (Citations omitted)
elected as well as the right to serve in the same
elective position. Consequently, it is not enough The Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc
that an individual has served three consecutive
terms in an elective local office[;] he must also In the second assailed resolution issued on June 5, 2013, the COMELEC en
have been elected to the same position for the banc denied Naval's Motion for Reconsideration to the above. The COMELEC pointed out that absent the
same number of times before the disqualification verification required under Section 3, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, Naval's motion was
can apply. . . . instantly dismissible. Nonetheless, theCOMELEC proceeded to discuss the demerits of Naval's
motion, viz.:
The conditions for the application of the three-term limit rule are present in separation of Gainza and Milaor from the other eight towns which used to comprise the Second District, the
the instant case as the records clearly establish that [Naval] is running for the 4th voters from the Third Legislative District are no longer the same ones as those who had elected him to office
time for the same government post. To put things in a proper perspective, it is in the 2004 and 2007 elections.
imperative to review and discuss the salient points in the case of Latasa v.
[COMELEC]. The case involves the question of whether or not a municipal mayor, Naval further invokes Article 94 19 of Administrative Order No. 270 prescribing the Implementing
having been elected and had already served for three (3) consecutive terms, can Rules and Regulations of the LGC to argue that Sanggunianmembers are elected by districts. Thus, the
run as city mayor in light of the conversion of the municipality to a city. In applying right to choose representatives in the Sanggunian pertains to each of the districts. Naval was elected
the three-term limit rule, the Court pointed out that the conversion of the municipality as Sanggunian member in 2004 and 2007 by the Second District. In 2010 and 2013, it was the Third District,
into a city did not convert the office of the municipal mayor into a local government which brought him to office. Essentially then, Naval's election in 2013 is merely his second term
post different from the office of the city mayor. The Court took into account the as Sanggunian member for the Third District.
following circumstances: (1) That the territorial jurisdiction of [the] city was the same
Naval likewise cites Borja, Jr. v. COMELEC 20 to point out that for the disqualification on the
as that of the municipality; (2) That the inhabitants were the same group of voters
ground of the three-term limit to apply, it is not enough that an individual has served three consecutive terms
who elected the municipal mayor for three (3) consecutive terms; and (3) That the
in an elective local office, but it is also required that he or she had been elected to the same position for the
inhabitants were the same group of voters [over] whom he held power and authority
same number of times. 21
as their chief executive for nine years.
Naval also assails as erroneous the COMELEC's interpretations of the rulings in Latasa v.
Anchoring from the said case, it is therefore clear that the position to
COMELEC 22 and Bandillo, et al. v. Hernandez. 23 In Latasa, the Court applied the three-term prohibition
which [Naval] has filed his candidacy for the 13 May 2013 . . . Elections is the same
only because notwithstanding the conversion of the Municipality of Digos into a city, the mayor was to serve
position for which he had been elected and had served for the past nine (9) years.
the same territorial jurisdiction and constituents. Naval asserts that the same does not hold true in his
xxx xxx xxx case. Naval further avers that in Bandillo, which finds more application in the instant petition,
the COMELEC ruled that the three-term limit cannot be invoked in a situation where the legislative districts
. . . The following circumstances establish that the subject posts are one have been altered. An extraction or an addition both yields a change in the composition of the voters.
and the same: First, the territorial jurisdictions of the two (2) districts are the same
except for the municipalities of Gainza and Milaor which were excluded by R.A. No. Naval further emphasizes that he garnered the majority of the votes from his constituents, whose
9716; Second, the inhabitants of the 3rd District of Camarines Sur, where [Naval] is will and mandate should be upheld. Besides, Julia's counsel already withdrew his appearance, indicating
presently running as member of the [Sanggunian], are the same voters who elected no less than his client's lack of interest in still pursuing Naval's ouster from office. 24
him for the past three (3) consecutive terms; and Lastly, the inhabitants of the [3rd]
In its Comment, 25 the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seeks the denial of the instant
District are the same group of voters whom [Naval] had served as member of the
petition. The OSG contends that Naval had been elected and had fully served the same local elective post
[Sanggunian] representing the 2nd District. DTAIaH
for three consecutive terms. Naval thus violated Section 78 of the OEC when he filed his COC despite
. . . The enactment of R.A. No. 9716 did not convert [Naval's] post [into knowledge of his ineligibility.Naval's reliance on Bandillo is also misplaced since in the said case, two
one] different from [w]hat he [previously had]. As correctly ruled by towns were instead added to form a new district. Apparently then, in Bandillo, there was a new set of voters.
the Commission(Second Division), [Naval] ha[d] already been elected and ha[d] The OSG also alleges that Naval is not entitled to the issuance of injunctive reliefs by this Court. No clear
already served in the same government post for three consecutive terms, . . .[.] and unmistakable right pertains to Naval and it is his eligibility to be elected as Sanggunian member for the
Third District which is the issue at hand.
xxx xxx xxx. 15 (Citations omitted)
Ruling of the Court
Unperturbed, Naval is now before the Court raising the issues of whether or not
The Court denies the petition. TCacIA
the COMELEC gravely erred and ruled contrary to law and jurisprudence:
As the issues are interrelated, they shall be discussed jointly.
I. IN FINDING THAT NAVAL HAD ALREADY SERVED FOR THREE
CONSECUTIVE TERMS IN THE SAME GOVERNMENT POST; 16 The case before this Court is one of first impression. While the contending parties
cite Latasa, Lonzanida v. COMELEC, 26 Borja, Aldovino, Jr. v. COMELEC, 27 andBandillo, which all
II. IN IGNORING THE FACT THAT SANGGUNIAN MEMBERS ARE ELECTED BY
involve the application of the three-term limit rule, the factual and legal circumstances in those cases are
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS; 17 and
different and the doctrinal values therein do not directly address the issues now at hand.
III. WHEN IT RULED THAT THE PROHIBITION CONTEMPLATED BY SECTION 8,
In Latasa, the issue arose as a result of the conversion of a municipality into a city. The then
ARTICLE X OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION AND SECTION 43 (B) OF
municipal mayor attempted to evade the application upon him of the three-term limit rule by arguing that the
THE LGCAPPLIES TO NAVAL. 18
position of a city mayor was not the same as the one he previously held. The Court was not convinced and,
The Arguments of the Contending Parties thus, declared that there was no interruption of the incumbent mayor's continuity of service.

In support of the instant petition, Naval alleges that the First, Second and Third Legislative In Lonzanida, a candidate ran for the mayoralty post and won in three consecutive elections.
Districts of Camarines Sur are not merely renamed but are composed of new sets of municipalities. With the While serving his third term, his opponent filed an election protest. Months before the expiration of the
mayor's third term, he was ousted from office. He ran again for the same post in the immediately In Tolentino v. COMELEC, 30 Justice Puno likewise characterized the role of the electoral
succeeding election. A petition was thereafter filed assailing his eligibility to run as mayor on the ground of process in the following wise: ECcTaH
violation of the three-term limit rule. The Court ruled that the mayor could not be considered as having
served a full third term. An interruption for any length of time, if due to an involuntary cause, is enough to The electoral process is one of the linchpins of a democratic and
break the elected official's continuity of service. republican framework because it is through the act of voting that government by
consent is secured. Through the ballot, people express their will on the defining
In Borja, the mayor of Pateros died and was succeeded in office by the vice mayor. In the two issues of the day and they are able to choose their leaders in accordance with the
immediately succeeding elections, the latter vied for and won the mayoralty post. When he ran for the same fundamental principle of representative democracy that the people should elect
position for the third time, his disqualification was sought for alleged violation of the three-term limit rule. whom they please to govern them. Voting has an important instrumental value in
The Court ruled that when he assumed the position of mayor by virtue of succession, his service should not preserving the viability of constitutional democracy. It has traditionally been taken as
be treated as one full term. For the disqualification to apply, the candidate should have been thrice elected a prime indicator of democratic participation. 31 (Citations omitted and italics ours)
for and had served the same post consecutively.
The importance of elections cannot therefore be over emphasized. Thus,
In Aldovino, preventive suspension was imposed upon an elected municipal councilor. The Court
ruled that the said suspension did not interrupt the elective official's term. Although he was barred from True, election is the expression of the sovereign power of the people. In
exercising the functions of the position during the period of suspension, his continued stay and entitlement the exercise of suffrage, a free people expects to achieve the continuity of
to the office remain unaffected. government and the perpetuation of its benefits. However, inspite of its importance,
the privileges and rights arising from having been elected may be enlarged or
In Bandillo, a case decided by the COMELEC, Gainza and Milaor were added to five of the ten restricted by law. . . . . 32 (Italics ours)
towns, which used to comprise Camarines Sur's old First District, to form the new Second District.
The COMELEC declined to apply the three-term limit rule against the elected Provincial Board Hence, while it is settled that in elections, the first consideration of every democratic polity is to
member on the ground that the addition of Gainza and Milaor distinctively created a new district, with an give effect to the expressed will of the majority, there are limitations to being elected to a public
altered territory and constituency. office. 33 Our Constitution and statutes are explicit anent the existence of term limits, the nature of public
office, and the guarantee from the State that citizens shall have equal access to public service. 34 Section
In the case before this Court, the task is to determine the application of the three-term limit rule 8, Article X of our Constitution, on term limits, is significantly reiterated by Section 43 (b) of the LGC.
upon local elective officials in renamed and/or reapportioned districts. In the process of doing so, it is Moreover, the Court has time and again declared that a public office is a public trust and not a vested
inevitable to discuss the role of elections and the nature of public office in a democratic and republican state property right. 35
like ours.
The Deliberations of the Members
The Role of Elections in our of the Constitutional Commission
Democratic and Republican State, on the Three-Term Limit's
and the Restraints Imposed upon Application to Local Elective
Those Who Hold Public Office Officials
The Court begins with general and undeniable principles. Following are entries in the Journal of the Constitutional Commission regarding the exchanges of
the members on the subject of the three-term limit rule imposedon local elective officials:
The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all
government authority emanates from them. 28 VOTING ON THE TERMS OF LOCAL OFFICIALS

Then Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno explained the character of a republican state and a With respect to local officials, Mr. Nolledo, informed that the Committee on Local
public office, viz.: Governments had not decided on the term of office for local officials and
suggested that the Body decide on the matter.
A republic is a representative government, a government run by and for
the people. It is not a pure democracy where the people govern themselves directly. xxx xxx xxx
The essence of republicanism is representation and renovation, the selection by
the citizenry of a corps of public functionaries who derive their mandate from On Mr. Bacani's inquiry regarding local officials, Mr. Davide explained that local
the people and act on their behalf, serving for a limited period only, after which officials would include the governor, vice-governor and the members of the
they are replaced or retained, at the option of their principal. Obviously, a republican provincial board; the city mayor, city vice-mayor and members of the city board;
government is a responsible government whose officials hold and discharge their and the municipal mayor, municipal vice mayor and members of the municipal
position as a public trust and shall, according to the Constitution, 'at all times be council. He stated that barangay officials would be governed by special law, to
accountable to the people' they are sworn to serve. The purpose of a republican which Mr. Nolledo agreed.
government it is almost needless to state, is the promotion of the common welfare
xxx xxx xxx
according to the will of the people themselves. 29 (Emphasis ours and italics in the
original) MOTION TO VOTE ON THE PROPOSALS RELATIVE TO ALTERNATIVE NO. 3
In reply to Mr. Guingona's query on whether the Committee had decided on the Mr. Monsod stated that while the new Constitution would recognize people power
interpretation of "two reelections", Mr. Davide suggested that the matter be because of a new awareness, a new kind of voter and a new kind of Filipino, at
submitted to a vote. the same time, it pre-screens the candidates among whom the people would
choose by barring those who would have served for nine years from being
Thereupon, Mr. Romulo moved for a vote on whether Alternative No. 3 as reelected. He opined that this would actually require an additional qualification
proposed by Mr. Garcia, would allow a local official three terms, after which for office to a certain number of people.
he would not be allowed to seek any reelection; or whether, as interpreted
by Mr. Davide, it would mean that after two successive reelections or a He stressed that, while the stand of the Commission is to create a reserve of
consecutive period of nine years, he could run for reelection after the lapse statesmen, their future participation is actually limited to some areas and only for
of three years. a certain period of time. He added that it is not for the Commission to
decide on the future of our countrymen who may have more years ahead of
xxx xxx xxx them to serve the country.
RESTATEMENT OF THE PROPOSALS xxx xxx xxx
Mr. Garcia reiterated that the local officials could be reelected twice, after INQUIRY OF MR. OPLE
which, they would be barred from ever running for reelection.
xxx xxx xxx
On the other proposal, Mr. Davide, on behalf of the Committee, stated that
local officials after two reelections would be allowed to run for reelection Thereupon, speaking in support of Mr. Monsod's manifestation, Mr. Ople
after the lapse of three years. expressed apprehension over the Body's exercise of some sort of
omnipotent power in disqualifying those who will have served their
xxx xxx xxx tasks. He opined that the Commission had already taken steps to prevent
the accumulation of powers and prequisites that would permit officials to
MANIFESTATION OF MR. ROMULO
stay on indefinitely and to transfer them to members of their families. He
Upon resumption of session, Mr. Romulo manifested that the Body would opined, however, that perpetual disqualification would deprive the people of
proceed to the consideration of two issues on the term of Representatives and their freedom of choice. He stated that the Body had already succeeded in
local officials, namely: 1) Alternative No. 1 (no further reelection after a total of striking a balance on policies which could ensure a redistribution of
three terms), and 2) Alternative No. 2 (no immediate reelection after three opportunities to the people both in terms of political and economic power.
successive terms). ScTIAH He stated that Philippine politics had been unshackled from the two-party system,
which he said was the most critical support for the perpetuation of political
SPONSORSHIP REMARKS OF MR. GARCIA ON ALTERNATIVE NO. 1 dynasties. Considering that such achievement is already a victory, Mr. Ople
stated that the role of political parties should not be despised because the
Mr. Garcia stated that he was advocating Alternative No. 1 on four grounds: 1) to strength of democracy depends on how strong political parties are, that a
prevent monopoly of political power because the country's history splintering thereof will mean a great loss to the vitality and resiliency of
showed that prolonged stay in public office could lead to the creation of democracy.
entrenched preserves of political dynasties; 2) to broaden the choice so that
more people could be enlisted to the cause of public service; 3) no one is Mr. Ople reiterated that he was against perpetual disqualification from
indispensable in running the affairs of the country and that office. DAaIHT
reliance on personalities would be avoided; and 4) the disqualification from
running for reelection after three terms would create a reserve of statesmen xxx xxx xxx.
both in the local and national levels.
MR. GARCIA'S RESPONSE TO MR. OPLE'S STATEMENTS
He added that the turnover in public office after nine years would ensure the
Mr. Garcia stated that there are two principles involved in Alternative No. 1: 1)
introduction of new ideas and approaches. He stressed that public office
the recognition of the ambivalent nature of political power, and 2)
would no longer be a preserve of conservatism and tradition, and that public
the recognition of alternative forms of public service. He stated that it is
service would no longer be limited to those directly holding public office, but would
important to remember the lessons learned from the recent past; that public
also include consultative bodies organized by the people.
service is service to the people and not an opportunity to accumulate political
INQUIRY OF MR. REGALADO power, and that a prolonged stay in public office brings about political
dynasties or vested interests. Regarding political parties, he stated that it
In reply to Mr. Regalado's query whether the three terms need not be served will encourage the constant renewal of blood in party leadership, approach,
consecutively, Mr. Garcia answered in the affirmative. style and ideas. He opined that this is very healthy for a pluralist and
multi-party democracy.
SPONSORSHIP REMARKS OF MR. MONSOD ON ALTERNATIVE NO. 2
On the recognition of alternative forms of public service, Mr. Garcia stressed that Mr. Garcia stated that politics is not won by ideals alone but by solid organized
public service could be limited to public office since many good leaders who were work by organizations. He stated that with three terms, an official would have
in the streets and in jail fought against the dictatorship. He stressed that public served the people long enough.
service would also mean belonging to consultative bodies or people's councils
which brought about new forms of service and leadership. xxx xxx xxx

REMARKS OF MR. ABUBAKAR VOTING ON THE TWO ALTERNATIVES

Mr. Abubakar stated that in any democracy the voice of the people is the Thereafter, the Body proceeded to vote by ballot on the two alternatives.
voice of God. He stated that if the people want to elect a representative to serve
xxx xxx xxx
them continuously, the Commission should not arrogate unto itself the right to
decide what the people want. He stated that in the United States, a Senator had RESULT OF THE VOTING
served for 30 years.
The result of the voting was as follows: EcICDT
xxx xxx xxx
Alternative No. 1 (no further election after three successive terms) — 17 votes
REMARKS OF MS. AQUINO
Alternative No. 2 (no immediate reelection after three successive terms) — 26
Ms. Aquino stated that she differs from the views advanced by Mr. Garcia and Ms. votes
Tan, although she stated that they spoke of the same premises. She stated that
she agrees with them that leaders need not be projected and developed With 17 votes in favor of Alternative No. 1 and 26 in favor of Alternative No. 2, the
publicly in an election as leaders are better tempered and tested in the Chair declared Alternative No. 2 approved by the Body. 36 (Emphasis and italics
various forms of mass struggles and organized work