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POLITICAL LAW CASES (2018)

JUDICIARY CASES

IN RE: COA OPINION ON THE COMPUTATION OF THE APPRAISED VALUE OF THE PROPERTIES
PURCHASED BY THE RETIRED CHIEF/ASSOCIATE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT (A.M. NO. 11-7-
10-SC; JULY 31, 2012)

FACTS: In June 8, 2010, the Legal Services Sector, Office of the General Counsel of the Commission on Audit
(COA) issued an opinion which found that an underpayment amounting to P221,021.50 resulted when five (5)
retired Supreme Court justices purchased from the Supreme Court the personal properties assigned to them
during their incumbency in the Court. The COA attributed this underpayment to the use by the Property Division
of the Supreme Court of the wrong formula in computing the appraisal value of the purchased vehicles.
According to the COA, the Property Division erroneously appraised the subject motor vehicles by applying
Constitutional Fiscal Autonomy Group (CFAG) Joint Resolution No. 35 dated April 23, 1997 and its guidelines, in
compliance with the Resolution of the Court En Banc dated March 23, 2004 in A.M. No. 03-12- 01,3 when it
should have applied the formula found in COA Memorandum No. 98-569-A4 dated August 5, 1998.

ISSUE: Whether or not the COA erred when it issued the June 8, 2010 opinion?

HELD: Yes. The in-house computation of the appraisal value made by the Property Division, Office of
Administrative Services is confirmed.

The COAs authority to conduct post-audit examinations on constitutional bodies granted fiscal autonomy
is provided under Section 2(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution. This authority, however, must be read not
only in light of the Courts fiscal autonomy, but also in relation with the constitutional provisions on judicial
independence and the existing jurisprudence and Court rulings on these matters.

One of the most important aspects of judicial independence is the constitutional grant of fiscal
autonomy. While, as a general proposition, the authority of legislatures to control the purse in the first instance is
unquestioned, any form of interference by the Legislative or the Executive on the Judiciarys fiscal autonomy
amounts to an improper check on a co-equal branch of government. If the judicial branch is to perform its primary
function of adjudication, it must be able to command adequate resources for that purpose. This authority to
exercise (or to compel the exercise of) legislative power over the national purse (which at first blush appears to
be a violation of concepts of separateness and an invasion of legislative autonomy) is necessary to maintain
judicial independence and is expressly provided for by the Constitution through the grant of fiscal autonomy
under Section 3, Article VIII.

In Bengzon v. Drilon, we had the opportunity to define the scope and extent of fiscal autonomy in the
following manner: "as envisioned in the Constitution, the fiscal autonomy enjoyed by the Judiciary, the Civil
Service Commission, the Commission on Audit, the Commission on Elections, and the Office of the Ombudsman
contemplates a guarantee of full flexibility to allocate and utilize their resources with the wisdom and dispatch that
their needs require."

Provided in Government Accounting and Auditing Manual (GAAM), Volume 1, particularly, Section 501
of Title 7, Chapter 3, it clearly recognizes that the Chief Justice, as the head of the Judiciary, possesses the full
and sole authority and responsibility to divest and dispose of the properties and assets of the Judiciary; as Head
of Office, he determines the manner and the conditions of disposition, which in this case relate to a benefit. As
the usual practice of the Court, this authority is exercised by the Chief Justice in consultation with the Court En
Banc. However, whether exercised by the Chief Justice or by the Supreme Court En Banc, the grant of such
authority and discretion is unequivocal and leaves no room for interpretations and insertions.

RE: REQUEST FOR GUIDANCE/CLARIFICATION ON SECTION 7, RULE III OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10154
REQUIRING RETIRING GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TO SECURE A CLEARANCE OF PENDENCY/
NONPENDENCY OF CASE/S FROM THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
A.M. No. 13-09-08-SC. October 1, 2013.*

FACTS: Atty. Eden Candelaria, deputy clerk of court and chief administrative officer of the Office of the Court
Adminstrative Services of the Supreme Court requested for guidance/ clarification on the applicability to the
Judiciary of Sec. 7 Rule III of the IRR of R.A. 10154 which requires retiring employees to seek clearance from
his/ her employer Civil Service Commission.

Issue: Whether or not the subject provision is applicable to the employees of the Judiciary

Held: No, it is not applicable because the administrative supervision of court personnel and all affairs related
thereto fall within the exclusive province of the Judiciary.

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Section 6, Article VIII of the Constitution exclusively vests in the Court administrative supervision over all
courts and court personnel. It oversees the court personnel’s compliance with all laws and takes the proper
administrative action against them for any violation thereof. Retiring court personnel are already required to
secure a prior clearance of the pendency/non-pendency of administrative case/s from the Court which makes the
CSC clearance a superfluous and non-expeditious requirement contrary to the declared state policy of RA 10154.

However, there is a different treatment of the clearance requirement with respect to criminal cases. It is
a matter beyond the ambit of the Judiciary’s power of administrative supervision.

The Supreme Court held that Section 7, Rule III of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic
Act No. 10154 is declared INAPPLICABLE to retiring employees of the Judiciary.

UDK-15143 January 21, 2015


IN THE MATTER OF: SAVE THE SUPREME COURT JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE AND FISCAL AUTONOMY
MOVEMENT VS. ABOLITION OF JUDICIARY DEVELOPMENT FUND (JDF) AND REDUCTION OF FISCAL
AUTONOMY.
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Facts: This case involves the proposed bills abolishing the Judiciary Development Fund and replacing it with the
"Judiciary Support Fund." Funds collected from the proposed Judiciary Support Fund shall be remitted to the
national treasury and Congress shall determine how the funds will be used. Petitioner Rolly Mijares (Mijares)
prays for the issuance of a writ of mandamus in order to compel this court to exercise its judicial independence
and fiscal autonomy against the perceived hostility of Congress, Mijares alleges that he is "a Filipino citizen, and
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a concerned taxpayer[.]" He filed this petition as part of his "continuing crusade to defend and uphold the
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Constitution" because he believes in the rule of law.

The complaint implied that certain acts of members of Congress and the President after the
promulgation of these cases show a threat to judicial independence. In the first week of July 2014, Ilocos Norte
Representative Rodolfo Fariñas filed House Bill No. 4690, which would require this court to remit its Judiciary
Development Fund collections to the national treasury. A week later, or on July 14, 2014, Iloilo Representative
Niel Tupas, Jr., filed House Bill No. 4738 entitled "The Act Creating the Judicial Support Fund (JSF) under the
National Treasury, repealing for the purpose Presidential Decree No. 1949

President Aquino addressed that he does not want that the 2 equal brances of the government go head
to head, stating that: We believe that the majority of you, like us, want only the best for the Filipino people. To the
honorable justices of the Supreme Court: Help us help our countrymen. We ask that you review your decision,
this time taking into consideration the points I have raised tonight. The nation hopes for your careful deliberation
and response. And I hope that once you’ve examined the arguments I will submit, regarding the law and about
our economy, solidarity will ensue—thus strengthening the entire government’s capability to push for the interests
of the nation.

Petitioner argues that Congress "gravely abused its discretion with a blatant usurpation of judicial
independence and fiscal autonomy of the Supreme Court. Petitioner points out that Congress is exercising its
power "in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility by abolishing the ‘Judiciary
Development Fund’ (JDF) of the Supreme Court." With regard to his prayer for the issuance of the writ of
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mandamus, petitioner avers that Congress should not act as "wreckers of the law" by threatening "to clip the
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powers of the High Tribunal[.]" Congress committed a "blunder of monumental proportions" when it reduced
the judiciary’s 2015 budget.

Petitioner prays that this court exercise its powers to "REVOKE/ABROGATE and EXPUNGE whatever
irreconcilable contravention of existing laws affecting the judicial independence and fiscal autonomy as mandated
under the Constitution to better serve public interest and general welfare of the people."

Issue: The issue for resolution is whether petitioner Rolly Mijares has sufficiently shown grounds for this court to
grant the petition and issue a writ of mandamus.

Held: This court resolves to deny the petition.


The power of judicial review, like all powers granted by the Constitution, is subject to certain limitations. Petitioner
must comply with all the requisites for judicial review before this court may take cognizance of the case. The
requisites are:
(1) there must be an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power;
(2) the person challenging the act must have the standing to question the validity of the subject act or
issuance; otherwise stated, he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that
he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement;
(3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and
(4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case

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Petitioner’s failure to comply with the first two requisites warrants the outright dismissal of this petition.

The petition does not comply with the requisites of judicial review

No actual case or controversy

Article VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that:


ARTICLE VIII
Judicial Department
Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such
lower courts as may be established by law.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable,
and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis supplied)

One of the requirements for this court to exercise its power of judicial review is the existence of an
actual controversy. This means that there must be "an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for
determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, lest the decision of the court would amount to an advisory opinion."
for a court to exercise its power of adjudication, there must be an actual case or controversy — one which
involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution; the case
must not be moot or academic or based on extra-legal or other similar considerations not cognizable by a court of
justice.
The controversy must be justiciable — definite and concrete, touching on the legal relations of parties
having adverse legal interests. In other words, the pleadings must show an active antagonistic assertion of a
legal right, on the one hand, and a denial thereof on the other; that is, it must concern a real and not a merely
theoretical question or issue.

Petitioner’s allegations show that he wants this court to strike down the proposed bills abolishing the
Judiciary Development Fund. This court, however, must act only within its powers granted under the Constitution.
This court is not empowered to review proposed bills because a bill is not a law.

A proposed bill produces no legal effects until it is passed into law. Under the Constitution, the judiciary
is mandated to interpret laws. It cannot speculate on the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of a bill that
Congress may or may not pass. It cannot rule on mere speculations or issues that are not ripe for judicial
determination. The petition, therefore, does not present any actual case or controversy that is ripe for this court’s
determination. Petitioner has no legal standing. This Court adopted the "direct injury" test in our jurisdiction. In
People v. Vera, it held that the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have "a personal and
substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain direct injury as a result." The Vera
doctrine was upheld in a litany of cases, such as, Custodio v. President of the Senate, Manila Race Horse
Trainers’ Association v. De la Fuente, Pascual v. Secretary of Public Works and Anti-Chinese League of the
Philippines v. Felix.

Petitioner has not shown that he has sustained or will sustain a direct injury if the proposed bill is passed
into law. While his concern for judicial independence is laudable, it does not, by itself, clothe him with the
requisite standing to question the constitutionality of a proposed bill that may only affect the judiciary.
This court, however, has occasionally relaxed the rules on standing when the issues involved are of
"transcendental importance" to the public. Specifically, this court has stated that:

The rule on standing is a matter of procedure, hence, can be relaxed for nontraditional plaintiffs like
ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and legislators when the public interest so requires, such as when the matter is of
transcendental importance, of overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest.

The Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman must have the
independence and flexibility needed in the discharge of their constitutional duties. The imposition of
restrictions and constraints on the manner the independent constitutional offices allocate and utilize the funds
appropriated for their operations is anathema to fiscal autonomy and violative not only of the express mandate of
the Constitution but especially as regards the Supreme Court, of the independence and separation of powers
upon which the entire fabric of our constitutional system is based.

Courts, therefore, must also be accountable with their own budget. The Judiciary Development Fund,
used to augment the expenses of the judiciary, is regularly accounted for by this court on a quarterly basis. The
financial reports are readily available at the Supreme Court website. These funds, however, are still not enough
to meet the expenses of lower courts and guarantee credible compensation for their personnel. The reality is that

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halls of justice exist because we rely on the generosity of local government units that provide additional subsidy
to our judges. If not, the budget for the construction, repair, and rehabilitation of halls of justice is with the
Department of Justice.

As a result, our fiscal autonomy and judicial independence are often undermined by low levels of
budgetary outlay, the lack of provision for maintenance and operating expenses, and the reliance on local
government units and the Department of Justice. "Courts are not constitutionally built to do political lobbying. By
constitutional design, it is a co-equal department to the Congress and the Executive. By temperament, our
arguments are legal, not political. We are best when we lay down all our premises in the finding of facts,
interpretation of the law and understanding of precedents. All we have is an abiding faith that we should do what
we could to ensure that the Rule of Law prevails. It seems that we have no champions when it comes to ensuring
the material basis for fiscal autonomy or judicial independence."

For this reason, we appreciate petitioner's concern for the judiciary.  It is often only through the
vigilance of private citizens that issues relating to the judiciary can be discussed in the political sphere.
Unfortunately, the remedy he seeks cannot be granted by this court. But his crusade is not a lost cause.
Considering that what he seeks to be struck down is a proposed bill, it would be better for him to air his concerns
by lobbying in Congress. There, he may discover the representatives and senators who may have a similar
enthusiastic response to truly making the needed investments in the Rule of Law.

Chavez vs. JBC


676 SCRA 579, July 17, 2012

Facts: In 1994, instead of having only 7 members, an eighth member was added to the JBC as two
representatives from Congress began sitting in the JBC – one from the House of Representatives and one from
the Senate, with each having one-half (1/2) of a vote. Then, the JBC En Banc, in separate meetings held in 2000
and 2001, decided to allow the representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives one full vote
each. Senator Francis Joseph G. Escudero and Congressman Niel C. Tupas, Jr. (respondents) simultaneously
sit in the JBC as representatives of the legislature. It is this practice that petitioner has questioned in this petition.
Respondents argued that the crux of the controversy is the phrase “a representative of Congress.” It is their
theory that the two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, are permanent and mandatory
components of “Congress,” such that the absence of either divests the term of its substantive meaning as
expressed under the Constitution. Bicameralism, as the system of choice by the Framers, requires that both
houses exercise their respective powers in the performance of its mandated duty which is to legislate. Thus,
when Section 8(1), Article VIII of the Constitution speaks of “a representative from Congress,” it should mean one
representative each from both Houses which comprise the entire Congress.

Issues:

1. Are the conditions sine qua non for the exercise of the power of judicial review have been met in this
case?
2. Is the JBC’s practice of having members from the Senate and the House of Representatives making 8
instead of 7 sitting members unconstitutional?
3. What is the effect of the Court's finding that the current composition of the JBC is unconstitutional?

Held:

1. Yes. The Courts’ power of judicial review is subject to several limitations, namely: (a) there must be an actual
case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (b) the person challenging the act must have
“standing” to challenge; he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case, such that he has sustained
or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (c) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the
earliest possible opportunity; and (d) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.
Generally, a party will be allowed to litigate only when these conditions sine qua non are present, especially when
the constitutionality of an act by a co-equal branch of government is put in issue.

The Court disagrees with the respondents’ contention that petitioner lost his standing to sue because he
is not an official nominee for the post of Chief Justice. While it is true that a “personal stake” on the case is
imperative to have locus standi, this is not to say that only official nominees for the post of Chief Justice can
come to the Court and question the JBC composition for being unconstitutional. The JBC likewise screens and
nominates other members of the Judiciary. Albeit heavily publicized in this regard, the JBC’s duty is not at all
limited to the nominations for the highest magistrate in the land. A vast number of aspirants to judicial posts all
over the country may be affected by the Court’s ruling. More importantly, the legality of the very process of
nominations to the positions in the Judiciary is the nucleus of the controversy. The claim that the composition of
the JBC is illegal and unconstitutional is an object of concern, not just for a nominee to a judicial post, but for all
citizens who have the right to seek judicial intervention for rectification of legal blunders.
2. Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution provides:

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Section 8. (1) A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court
composed of the Chief Justice as ex officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the
Congress as ex officio Members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired Member of
the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector.

From a simple reading of the above-quoted provision, it can readily be discerned that the provision is
clear and unambiguous. The first paragraph calls for the creation of a JBC and places the same under the
supervision of the Court. Then it goes to its composition where the regular members are enumerated: a
representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired member of the Court and a representative from
the private sector. On the second part lies the crux of the present controversy. It enumerates the ex officio or
special members of the JBC composed of the Chief Justice, who shall be its Chairman, the Secretary of Justice
and “a representative of Congress.”

The use of the singular letter “a” preceding “representative of Congress” is unequivocal and leaves no
room for any other construction. It is indicative of what the members of the Constitutional Commission had in
mind, that is, Congress may designate only one (1) representative to the JBC. Had it been the intention that more
than one (1) representative from the legislature would sit in the JBC, the Framers could have, in no uncertain
terms, so provided.

One of the primary and basic rules in statutory construction is that where the words of a statute are
clear, plain, and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted
interpretation. It is a well-settled principle of constitutional construction that the language employed in the
Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed. As much as
possible, the words of the Constitution should be understood in the sense they have in common use. What it says
according to the text of the provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the power of the courts to
alter it, based on the postulate that the framers and the people mean what they say. Verba legis non est
recedendum – from the words of a statute there should be no departure.

Applying the foregoing principle to this case, it becomes apparent that the word “Congress” used in
Article VIII, Section 8(1) of the Constitution is used in its generic sense. No particular allusion whatsoever is
made on whether the Senate or the House of Representatives is being referred to, but that, in either case, only a
singular representative may be allowed to sit in the JBC.

It is worthy to note that the seven-member composition of the JBC serves a practical purpose, that is, to
provide a solution should there be a stalemate in voting. This underlying reason leads the Court to conclude that
a single vote may not be divided into half (1/2), between two representatives of Congress, or among any of the
sitting members of the JBC for that matter. This unsanctioned practice can possibly cause disorder and
eventually muddle the JBC’s voting process, especially in the event a tie is reached. The aforesaid purpose
would then be rendered illusory, defeating the precise mechanism which the Constitution itself createdWhile it
would be unreasonable to expect that the Framers provide for every possible scenario, it is sensible to presume
that they knew that an odd composition is the best means to break a voting deadlock.

The respondents insist that owing to the bicameral nature of Congress, the word “Congress” in Section
8(1), Article VIII of the Constitution should be read as including both the Senate and the House of
Representatives. They theorize that it was so worded because at the time the said provision was being drafted,
the Framers initially intended a unicameral form of Congress. Then, when the Constitutional Commission
eventually adopted a bicameral form of Congress, the Framers, through oversight, failed to amend Article VIII,
Section 8 of the Constitution.

It is evident that the definition of “Congress” as a bicameral body refers to its primary function in
government – to legislate. In the passage of laws, the Constitution is explicit in the distinction of the role of each
house in the process. The same holds true in Congress’ non-legislative powers. An inter-play between the two
houses is necessary in the realization of these powers causing a vivid dichotomy that the Court cannot simply
discount. This, however, cannot be said in the case of JBC representation because no liaison between the two
houses exists in the workings of the JBC. Hence, the term “Congress” must be taken to mean the entire
legislative department.

3. As a general rule, an unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no
protection; it creates no office; it is inoperative as if it has not been passed at all. This rule, however, is not
absolute. Under the doctrine of operative facts, actions previous to the declaration of unconstitutionality are
legally recognized. They are not nullified. This is essential in the interest of fair play.

The doctrine of operative fact, as an exception to the general rule, only applies as a matter of equity and
fair play. It nullifies the effects of an unconstitutional law by recognizing that the existence of a statute prior to a
determination of unconstitutionality is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot always be
ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The doctrine is applicable when a

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declaration of unconstitutionality will impose an undue burden on those who have relied on the invalid law. Thus,
it was applied to a criminal case when a declaration of unconstitutionality would put the accused in double
jeopardy or would put in limbo the acts done by a municipality in reliance upon a law creating it.

Under the circumstances, the Court finds the exception applicable in this case and holds that
notwithstanding its finding of unconstitutionality in the current composition of the JBC, all its prior official actions
are nonetheless valid. (Chavez vs. Judicial and Bar Council, G.R. No. 202242, July 17, 2012)

JARDELEZA v. SERENO
G.R. No. 213181 August 19, 2014 (733 SCRA 279)

FACTS: Associate Justice Roberto Abad was about to retire and the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) announce an
opening for application and recommendation for the said vacancy. On March 14, 2014, the JBC received a letter
from Dean Danilo Concepcion of the University of the Philippines nominating petitioner Francis H. Jardeleza
(Jardeleza), incumbent Solicitor General of the Republic, for the said position. Upon acceptance of the
nomination, Jardeleza was included in the names of candidates, as well as in the schedule of public interviews.
On May 29, 2014, Jardeleza was interviewed by the JBC.

However, he received calls from some Justices that the Chief Justice herself – CJ Sereno, manifested
that she would be invoking Section 2, Rule 10 of JBC-0094 against him. Jardeleza was then directed to "make
himself available" before the JBC on June 30, 2014, during which he would be informed of the objections to his
integrity.

During the June 30, 2014 meeting of the JBC, sans Jardeleza, incumbent Associate Justice Carpio
appeared as a resource person to shed light on a classified legal memorandum that would clarify the objection to
Jardeleza’s integrity as posed by Chief Justice Sereno. According to the JBC, Chief Justice Sereno questioned
Jardeleza’s ability to discharge the duties of his office as shown in a confidential legal memorandum over his
handling of an international arbitration case for the government.

Later, Jardeleza was directed to one of the Court’s ante-rooms where Department of Justice Secretary
De Lima informed him that Associate Justice Carpio appeared before the JBC and disclosed confidential
information which, to Chief Justice Sereno, characterized his integrity as dubious. After the briefing, Jardeleza
was summoned by the JBC at around 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

Jardeleza alleged that he was asked by Chief Justice Sereno if he wanted to defend himself against the
integrity issues raised against him. He answered that he would defend himself provided that due process
would be observed. Jardeleza specifically demanded that Chief Justice Sereno execute a sworn statement
specifying her objections and that he be afforded the right to cross-examine her in a public hearing. He requested
that the same directive should also be imposed on Associate Justice Carpio.

Later in the afternoon of the same day, and apparently denying Jardeleza’s request for deferment of
the proceedings, the JBC continued its deliberations and proceeded to vote for the nominees to be included in
the shortlist. Thereafter, the JBC released the subject shortlist of four (4) nominees.

A newspaper article was later published in the online portal of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, stating that
the Court’s Spokesman, Atty. Theodore Te, revealed that there were actually five (5) nominees who made it to
the JBC shortlist, but one (1) nominee could not be included because of the invocation of Rule 10, Section 2 of
the JBC rules.

Hence, Jardeleza filed for certiorari and mandamus with prayer for TRO to compel the JBC to include
him in the list on the grounds that the JBC and CJ Sereno acted with grave abuse of discretion in excluding him,
despite having garnered a sufficient number of votes to qualify for the position.

ISSUE: Whether or not the right to due process is available in the course of JBC proceedings in cases where an
objection or opposition to an application is raised.

RULING: Yes. While it is true that the JBC proceedings are sui generis, it does not automatically denigrate an
applicant’s entitlement to due process.

The Court does not brush aside the unique and special nature of JBC proceedings. Notwithstanding
being “a class of its own,” the right to be heard and to explain one’s self is availing.

In cases where an objection to an applicant’s qualifications is raised, the observance of due process
neither contradicts the fulfillment of the JBC’s duty to recommend. This holding is not an encroachment on its
discretion in the nomination process. Actually, its adherence to the precepts of due process supports and

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enriches the exercise of its discretion. When an applicant, who vehemently denies the truth of the objections, is
afforded the chance to protest, the JBC is presented with a clearer understanding of the situation it faces, thereby
guarding the body from making an unsound and capricious assessment of information brought before it. The JBC
is not expected to strictly apply the rules of evidence in its assessment of an objection against an applicant. Just
the same, to hear the side of the person challenged complies with the dictates of fairness because the only test
that an exercise of discretion must surmount is that of soundness.

Jardaleza was denied the right to due process because he was merely asked to appear in a meeting
where he would be, right then and there, subjected to an inquiry. It would all be too well to remember that the
allegations of his extra-marital affair and acts of insider trading sprung up only during the June 30, 2014
meeting. While the said issues became the object of the JBC discussion on June 16, 2014, Jardeleza was not
given the idea that he should prepare to affirm or deny his past behavior. These circumstances preclude the
very idea of due process in which the right to explain oneself is given, not to ensnare by surprise, but to
provide the person a reasonable opportunity and sufficient time to intelligently muster his response.
Otherwise, the occasion becomes an idle and futile exercise.

Consequently, the Court is compelled to rule that Jardeleza should have been included in the shortlist
submitted to the President for the vacated position of Associate Justice Abad. This consequence arose from the
violation by the JBC of its own rules of procedure and the basic tenets of due process.

True, Jardeleza has no vested right to a nomination, but this does not prescind from the fact that the
JBC failed to observe the minimum requirements of due process.

VILLANUEVA VS JBC, G.R. No. 211833, April 07, 2015

TOPIC: APPOINTMENTS TO THE JUDICIARY

DOCTRINE: RULE 9 - SPECIAL GUIDELINES FOR NOMINATION TO A VACANCY IN THE COURT OF


APPEALS AND SANDIGANBAYAN
Section 1. Additional criteria for nomination to the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan. - In addition to the
foregoing guidelines the Council should consider the following in evaluating the merits of applicants for a vacancy
in the Court of Appeals and Sandiganbayan:

1. As a general rule, he must have at least five years of experience as a judge of Regional Trial Court, except
when he has in his favor outstanding credentials, as evidenced by, inter alia, impressive scholastic or educational
record and performance in the Bar examinations, excellent reputation for honesty, integrity, probity and
independence of mind; at least very satisfactory performance rating for three (3) years preceding the filing of his
application for nomination; and excellent potentials for appellate judgeship.

FACTS: Presiding Judge Ferdinand R. Villanueva (petitioner) was appointed on September 18, 2012 as the
Presiding Judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, which is a first-level court. On September 27, 2013, he
applied for the vacant position of Presiding Judge in the Regional Trial Courts (RTC).

JBC informed the petitioner that he was not included in the list of candidates for the said stations due to the its
long-standing policy of opening the chance for promotion to second-level courts to, among others, incumbent
judges who have served in their current position for at least five years, and since the petitioner has been a judge
only for more than a year, he was excluded from the list.

Petitioner alleged that he has all the qualifications for the position prescribed by the Constitution and by
Congress, since he has already complied with the requirement of 10 years of practice of law.

ISSUE: WHETHER or not the policy of JBC requiring five years of service as judges of first-level courts before
they can qualify as applicant to second-level courts is constitutional.

PETITIONER’S ARGUMENT:

(1) the Constitution already prescribed the qualifications of an RTC judge, and the JBC could add no more;
(2) the JBC's five-year requirement violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution;

RULING: YES, VALID AND CONSTITUTIONAL.

(1) UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, JBC is mandated to recommend appointees to the judiciary and only
those nominated by the JBC in a list officially transmitted to the President may be appointed by the latter as
justice or judge in the judiciary. While the 1987 Constitution has provided the qualifications of members of the
judiciary, this does not preclude the JBC from having its own set of rules and procedures and providing policies to
effectively ensure its mandate.

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The Constitution did not lay down in precise terms the process that the JBC shall follow in determining
applicants' qualifications. In carrying out its main function, the JBC has the authority to set the standards/criteria
in choosing its nominees for every vacancy in the judiciary, subject only to the minimum qualifications required by
the Constitution and law for every position. Thus, the adoption of the five-year requirement policy applied by JBC
to the petitioner's case is necessary and incidental to the function conferred by the Constitution to the JBC.

(2) NOT VIOLATIVE OF THE Equal Protection and Due Process

a. Equal Protection

Consideration of experience by JBC as one factor in choosing recommended appointees does not constitute a
violation of the equal protection clause. The JBC does not discriminate when it employs number of years of
service to screen and differentiate applicants from the competition. The number of years of service provides a
relevant basis to determine proven competence which may be measured by experience, among other factors.

Based on the JBC's collective judgment, those who have been judges of first-level courts for five (5) years are
better qualified for promotion to second-level courts. It deems length of experience as a judge as indicative of
conversance with the law and court procedure. Five years is considered as a sufficient span of time for one to
acquire professional skills for the next level court, declog the dockets, put in place improved procedures and an
efficient case management system, adjust to the work environment, and gain extensive experience in the judicial
process.

A five-year stint in the Judiciary can also provide evidence of the integrity, probity, and independence of
judges seeking promotion. To merit JBC's nomination for their promotion, they must have had a "record of, and
reputation for, honesty, integrity, incorruptibility, irreproachable conduct, and fidelity to sound moral and ethical
standards." Likewise, their decisions must be reflective of the soundness of their judgment, courage, rectitude,
cold neutrality and strength of character.

Hence, for the purpose of determining whether judges are worthy of promotion to the next level court, it would be
premature or difficult to assess their merit if they have had less than one year of service on the
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bench. (Citations omitted and emphasis in the original)

Clearly, the classification created by the challenged policy satisfies the rational basis test. The foregoing shows
that substantial distinctions do exist between lower court judges with five year experience and those with less
than five years of experience, like the petitioner, and the classification enshrined in the assailed policy is
reasonable and relevant to its legitimate purpose.

b. Due Process

JBC's failure to publish the assailed policy has not prejudiced the petitioner's private interest.
PETITIONER has no legal right to be included in the list of nominees for judicial vacancies since the possession
of the constitutional and statutory qualifications for appointment to the Judiciary may not be used to legally
demand that one's name be included in the list of candidates for a judicial vacancy. One's inclusion in the shortlist
is strictly within the discretion of the JBC.

Petition is DISMISSED. The Court, however, DIRECTS that the Judicial and Bar Council comply with the
publication requirement of (1) the assailed policy requiring five years of experience as judges of first-level courts
before they can qualify as applicant to the Regional Trial Court, and (2) other special guidelines that the Judicial
and Bar Council is or will be implementing.

Re: Petition for Recognition of the Exemption of the Government Service Insurance System from
payment of Legal Fees 612 SCR 193, 2010

FACTS: The GSIS seeks exemption from the payment of legal fees imposed on government-owned or
controlled corporations under Section 22,[1] Rule 141 (Legal Fees) of the Rules of Court. The said provision
states:
SEC. 22. Government exempt. The Republic of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities are
exempt from paying the legal fees provided in this Rule. Local government corporations and
government-owned or controlled corporations with or without independent charter are not
exempt from paying such fees. xxx

The GSIS anchors its petition on Section 39 of its charter, RA[2] 8291:
SEC. 39. Exemption from Tax, Legal Process and Lien. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the
State that the actuarial solvency of the funds of the GSIS shall be preserved and maintained at all times

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and that contribution rates necessary to sustain the benefits under this Act shall be kept as low as
possible in order not to burden the members of the GSIS and their employers. Taxes imposed on the
GSIS tend to impair the actuarial solvency of its funds and increase the contribution rate
necessary to sustain the benefits of this Act. Accordingly, notwithstanding any laws to the
contrary, the GSIS, its assets, revenues including accruals thereto, and benefits paid, shall be
exempt from all taxes, assessments, fees, charges or duties of all kinds. These exemptions shall
continue unless expressly and specifically revoked and any assessment against the GSIS as of the
approval of this Act are hereby considered paid.Consequently, all laws, ordinances, regulations,
issuances, opinions or jurisprudence contrary to or in derogation of this provision are hereby
deemed repealed, superseded and rendered ineffective and without legal force and effect.

GSIS then avers that courts still assess and collect legal fees in actions and proceedings instituted by
the GSIS notwithstanding its exemption from taxes, assessments, fees, charges, or duties of all kinds under
Section 39. For this reason, the GSIS urges this Court to recognize its exemption from payment of legal fees. The
purpose of its exemption is to preserve and maintain the actuarial solvency of its funds and to keep the
contribution rates necessary to sustain the benefits provided by RA 8291 as low as possible.

The word fees, defined as charge[s] fixed by law for services of public officers or for the use of a
privilege under control of government, is qualified by the phrase of all kinds. Hence, it includes the legal fees
prescribed by this Court under Rule 141. Moreover, no distinction should be made based on the kind of fees
imposed on the GSIS or the GSIS ability to pay because the law itself does not distinguish based on those
matters.

The GSIS argues that its exemption from the payment of legal fees would not mean that RA 8291 is
superior to the Rules of Court. It would merely show deference by the Court to the legislature as a co-equal
branch. This deference will recognize the compelling and overriding State interest in the preservation of the
actuarial solvency of the GSIS for the benefit of its members.

According to the OSG, the issue of the GSIS exemption from legal fees has been resolved by the
issuance by then Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. of OCA Circular No. 93-2004 and to settle any
queries as to the status of exemption from payment of docket and legal fees of government entities, Section 21,
Rule 141 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides:
SEC. 21. Government exempt. The Republic of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities are
exempt from paying the legal fees provided in this Rule. Local governments and government-owned or
controlled corporations with or without independent charters are not exempt from paying such
fees.
xxxxxxxxx

The OSG contends that there is nothing in Section 39 of RA 8291 that exempts the GSIS from fees
imposed by the Court in connection with judicial proceedings. The exemption of the GSIS from taxes,
assessments, fees, charges or duties of all kinds is necessarily confined to those that do not involve pleading,
practice and procedure. Rule 141 has been promulgated by the Court pursuant to its exclusive rule-making
power under Section 5(5), Article VIII of the Constitution. Thus, it may not be amended or repealed by Congress.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Congress may exempt the GSIS from the payment of legal fees? No

HELD: Rule 141 (on Legal Fees) of the Rules of Court was promulgated by this Court in the exercise of its rule-
making powers under Section 5(5), Article VIII of the Constitution:
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
xxxxxxxxx
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading,
practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and
legal assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure
for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not
diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial
bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.
x x x x x x x x x (emphasis supplied)

Clearly, therefore, the payment of legal fees under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court is an integral part of
the rules promulgated by this Court pursuant to its rule-making power under Section 5(5), Article VIII of the
Constitution. In particular, it is part of the rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in courts. Indeed,
payment of legal (or docket) fees is a jurisdictional requirement. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or
appropriate initiatory pleading but the payment of the prescribed docket fee that vests a trial court with jurisdiction
over the subject-matter or nature of the action. Appellate docket and other lawful fees are required to be paid
within the same period for taking an appeal Payment of docket fees in full within the prescribed period is
mandatory for the perfection of an appeal. Without such payment, the appellate court does not acquire

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jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action and the decision sought to be appealed from becomes final and
executory.

The GSIS cannot successfully invoke the right to social security of government employees in support of
its petition. It is a corporate entity whose personality is separate and distinct from that of its individual members.
The rights of its members are not its rights; its rights, powers and functions pertain to it solely and are not shared
by its members. Its capacity to sue and bring actions under Section 41(g) of RA 8291, the specific power which
involves the exemption that it claims in this case, pertains to it and not to its members. Indeed, even the GSIS
acknowledges that, in claiming exemption from the payment of legal fees, it is not asking that rules be made to
enforce the right to social security of its members but that the Court recognize the alleged right of the GSIS to
seek relief from the courts of justice sans payment of legal fees.

However, the alleged right of the GSIS does not exist. The payment of legal fees does not take away the
capacity of the GSIS to sue. It simply operates as a means by which that capacity may be implemented.

Since the payment of legal fees is a vital component of the rules promulgated by this Court concerning
pleading, practice and procedure, it cannot be validly annulled, changed or modified by Congress. As one of the
safeguards of this Courts institutional independence, the power to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and
procedure is now the Courts exclusive domain. That power is no longer shared by this Court with Congress,
much less with the Executive.

The separation of powers among the three co-equal branches of our government has erected an
impregnable wall that keeps the power to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and procedure within the sole
province of this Court. The other branches trespass upon this prerogative if they enact laws or issue orders that
effectively repeal, alter or modify any of the procedural rules promulgated by this Court. Viewed from this
perspective, the claim of a legislative grant of exemption from the payment of legal fees under Section 39 of RA
8291 necessarily fails.

Congress could not have carved out an exemption for the GSIS from the payment of legal fees without
transgressing another equally important institutional safeguard of the Courts independence fiscal autonomy.[30]
Fiscal autonomy recognizes the power and authority of the Court to levy, assess and collect fees,[31] including
legal fees. Moreover, legal fees under Rule 141 have two basic components, the Judiciary Development Fund
(JDF) and the Special Allowance for the Judiciary Fund (SAJF).[32] The laws which established the JDF and the
SAJF[33] expressly declare the identical purpose of these funds to guarantee the independence of the Judiciary
as mandated by the Constitution and public policy.[34] Legal fees therefore do not only constitute a vital source of
the Courts financial resources but also comprise an essential element of the Courts fiscal independence. Any
exemption from the payment of legal fees granted by Congress to government-owned or controlled corporations
and local government units will necessarily reduce the JDF and the SAJF. Undoubtedly, such situation is
constitutionally infirm for it impairs the Courts guaranteed fiscal autonomy and erodes its independence.

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