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Case Digest: Liban v.

Gordon (2011)
G. R. No.175352: January 18, 2011
DANTE V. LIBAN, REYNALDO M. BERNARDO and SALVADOR M. VIARI, Petitioners
vs. RICHARD J. GORDON,Respondent. PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RED CROSS,
Intervenor.
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
FACTS: Respondent filed a motion for partial recommendation on a Supreme Court
decision which ruled that being chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) did
not disqualify him from being a Senator, and that the charter creating PNRC is
unconstitutional as the PNRC is a private corporation and the Congress is precluded by the
Constitution to create such.The Court then ordered the PNRC to incorporate itself with the
SEC as a private corporation. Respondent takes exception to the second part of the ruling,
which addressed the constitutionality of the statute creating the PNRC as a private
corporation. Respondent avers that the issue of constitutionality was only touched upon in
the issue of locus standi. It is a rule that the constitutionality will not be touched upon if it is
not the lis mota of the case.
ISSUE: Whether or not it was proper for the Court to have ruled on the constitutionality of
the PNRC statute.
HELD: Petition has merit.
Political Law: It has been consistently held in Jurisprudence that the Court should
exercise judicial restraint when it comes to issues of constitutionality where it is not
the lis mota of the case.
In the case at bar, the constitutionality of the PNRC statute was raised in the issue of
standing. As such, the Court should not have declared certain provisions of such as
unconstitutional. On the substantive issue, the PNRC is sui generis. It is unlike the private
corporations that the Constitution wants to prevent Congress from creating. First, the PNRC
is not organized for profit. It is an organization dedicated to assist victims of war and
administer relief to those who have been devastated by calamities, among others. It is
entirely devoted to public service. It is not covered by the prohibition since the Constitution
aims to eliminate abuse by the Congress, which tend to favor personal gain. Secondly, the
PNRC was created in order to participate in the mitigation of the effects of war, as embodied
in the Geneva Convention. The creation of the PNRC is compliance with international treaty
obligations. Lastly, the PNRC is a National Society, an auxiliary of the government. It is not
like government instrumentalities and GOCC. The PNRC is regulated directly by
international humanitarian law, as opposed to local law regulating the other mentioned
entities. As such, it was improper for the Court to have declared certain portions of the
PNRC statute as unconstitutional. However, it is the stand of Justice Carpio that there is no
mandate for the Government to create a National Society to this effect. He also raises the
fact that the PNRC is not sui generis in being a private corporation organized for public
needs. Justice Abad is of the opinion that the PNRC is neither private or governmental,
hence it was within the power of Congress to create.

Eugenio Puyat vs Sixto De Guzman, Jr.


113 SCRA 31 Political Law The Legislative Department Appearance in Court
In May 1979, Eugenio Puyat and his group were elected as directors of the International
Pipe Industries. The election was subsequently questioned by Eustaquio Acero (Puyats
rival) claiming that the votes were not properly counted hence he filed a quo
warranto case before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on May 25, 1979.
Prior to Aceros filing of the case, Estanislao Fernandez, then a member of the Interim
Batasang Pambansa purchased ten shares of stock of IPI from a member of Aceros group.
And during a conference held by SEC Commissioner Sixto de Guzman, Jr. (from May 2531, 1979) to have the parties confer with each other, Estanislao Fernandez entered his
appearance as counsel for Acero. Puyat objected as he argued that it is unconstitutional for
an assemblyman to appear as counsel (to anyone) before any administrative body (such as
the SEC). This being cleared, Fernandez inhibited himself from appearing as counsel for
Acero. He instead filed an Urgent Motion for Intervention in the said SEC case for him to
intervene, not as a counsel, but as a legal owner of IPI shares and as a person who has a
legal interest in the matter in litigation. The SEC Commissioner granted the motion and in
effect granting Fernandez leave to intervene.
ISSUE: Whether or not Fernandez, acting as a stockholder of IPI, can appear and intervene
in the SEC case without violating the constitutional provision that an assemblyman must not
appear as counsel in such courts or bodies?
HELD: No, Fernandez cannot appear before the SEC body under the guise that he is not
appearing as a counsel. Even though he is a stockholder and that he has a legal interest in
the matter in litigation he is still barred from appearing. He bought the stocks before the
litigation took place. During the conference he presented himself as counsel but because it
is clearly stated that he cannot do so under the constitution he instead presented himself as
a party of interest which is clearly a workaround and is clearly an act after the fact. A mere
workaround to get himself involved in the litigation. What could not be done directly could
not likewise be done indirectly.

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NOTE: Under Section 14, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution:

No Senator or member of the House of Representatives may personally appear as counsel


before any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other
administrative bodies. Neither shall he, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any
contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any
subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or
controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office. He shall not intervene in
any matter before any office of the Government for his pecuniary benefit or where he may
be called upon to act on account of his office.
Appearance of the legislator is now barred before all courts of justice, regardless of rank,
composition, or jurisdiction. The disqualification also applies to the revived Electoral
Tribunal and to all administrative bodies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission and
the National Labor Relations Commission. Courts martial and military tribunals, being
administrative agencies, are included. (From https://www.senate.gov.ph/senators/terms.asp,
accessed 09/17/2014)

Avelino vs Cuenco (G.R. No. L-2821)


FACTS: The petitioners, Senator Jose Avelino, in a quo warranto proceeding, asked
the court to declare him the rightful Senate President and oust the respondent,
Mariano Cuenco. In a session of the Senate, Tanadas request to deliver a speech in
order to formulate charges against then Senate President Avelino was approved.
With the leadership of the Senate President followed by his supporters, they
deliberately tried to delay and prevent Tanada from delivering his speech. The SP
with his supporters employed delaying tactics, the tried to adjourn the session then
walked out. Only 12 Senators were left in the hall. The members of the senate left
continued the session and Senator Cuenco was appointed as the Acting President of
the Senate and was recognized the next day by the President of the Philippines.
ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the court has jurisdiction of the case.
2. Whether or not Resolutions 67 & 68 was validly approved.
HELD:
1. The Court has no jurisdiction of the case because the subject matter is political in
nature and in doing so, the court will be against the doctrine of separation of
powers. To the first question, the answer is in the negative, in view of the separation
of powers, the political nature of the controversy (Alejandrino vs. Quezon, 46 Phil.
83; Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil. 192; Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil. 1) and the
constitutional grant to the Senate of the power to elect its own president, which
power should not be interfered with, nor taken over, by the judiciary. We refused to

take cognizance of the Vera case even if the rights of the electors of the suspended
senators were alleged affected without any immediate remedy. A fortiori we should
abstain in this case because the selection of the presiding officer affect only the
Senators themselves who are at liberty at any time to choose their officers, change
or reinstate them. Anyway, if, as the petition must imply to be acceptable, the
majority of the Senators want petitioner to preside, his remedy lies in the Senate
Session Hall not in the Supreme Court.
2. It was held that there is a quorum that 12 being the majority of 23. In fine, all the
four justice agree that the Court being confronted with the practical situation that of
the twenty three senators who may participate in the Senate deliberations in the
days immediately after this decision, twelve senators will support Senator Cuenco
and, at most, eleven will side with Senator Avelino, it would be most injudicious to
declare the latter as the rightful President of the Senate, that office being
essentially one that depends exclusively upon the will of the majority of the
senators, the rule of the Senate about tenure of the President of that body being
amenable at any time by that majority. And at any session hereafter held with
thirteen or more senators, in order to avoid all controversy arising from the
divergence of opinion here about quorum and for the benefit of all concerned,the
said twelve senators who approved the resolutions herein involved could ratify all
their acts and thereby place them beyond the shadow of a doubt.
G.R. No. 134577, Nov. 18, 1998

While the Constitution mandates that the President of the Senate must be
elected by a number constituting more than one half of all the members
thereof, it does not provide that the members who will not vote for him shall
ipso facto constitute the minority, who could thereby elect the minority
leader. No law or regulation states that the defeated candidate shall
automatically become the minority leader.

Constitution silent on the manner of selecting officers in Congress other than


Senate President and House Speaker

Separation of powers: Courts may not intervene in the internal affairs of


legislature

Legislative rules, unlike statutory laws, are matters of procedure and are
subject to revocation, modification and waiver by the body adopting them

FACTS:
During the election of officers in the Senate, Sen. Marcelo Fernan and Sen. Tatad
were both nominated to the position of Senate President. By a vote of 20 to 2, Sen.
Fernan was declared the duly elected Senate President. Thereafter, Sen. Tatad
manifested that, with the agreement of Sen. Santiago, allegedly the only other
member of the minority, he was assuming position of minority leader. He explained
that those who had voted for Sen. Fernan comprised the majority, while only
those who had voted for him, the losing nominee, belonged to the minority.
However, senators belonging to the Lakas-NUCD-UMDP Party number 7 and, thus,
also a minority had chosen Sen. Guingona as the minority leader. Thus, Petitioners
filed this case for quo warranto.
ISSUE:

Whether or not there was an actual violation of the Constitution in


the selection of respondent as Senate minority leader

Whether or not courts have the power to intervene in matters of


legislative procedure

RULING:
The petition fails.
The meaning of majority vis-a-vis minority
The term majority has been judicially defined a number of times. When referring
to a certain number out of a total or aggregate, it simply means the number
greater than half or more than half of any total. The plain and unambiguous words
of the subject constitutional clause simply mean that the Senate President must
obtain the votes of more than one half of all the senators. Not by any construal does
it thereby delineate who comprise the majority, much less the minority, in the
said body. And there is no showing that the framers of our Constitution had in mind
other than the usual meanings of these terms.
In effect, while the Constitution mandates that the President of the Senate must be
elected by a number constituting more than one half of all the members thereof, it
does not provide that the members who will not vote for him shall ipso facto
constitute the minority, who could thereby elect the minority leader. Verily, no law
or regulation states that the defeated candidate shall automatically become the
minority leader.

xxx
Majority may also refer to the group, party, or faction with the larger number of
votes, not necessarily more than one half. This is sometimes referred to as
plurality. In contrast, minority is a group, party, or faction with a smaller number of
votes or adherents than the majority. Between two unequal parts or numbers
comprising a whole or totality, the greater number would obviously be the majority,
while the lesser would be the minority. But where there are more than two unequal
groupings, it is not as easy to say which is the minority entitled to select the leader
representing all the minorities. In a government with a multi-party system such as
in the Philippines (as pointed out by petitioners themselves), there could be several
minority parties, one of which has to be identified by the Comelec as the dominant
minority party for purposes of the general elections. In the prevailing composition
of the present Senate, members either belong to different political parties or are
independent. No constitutional or statutory provision prescribe which of the many
minority groups or the independents or a combination thereof has the right to select
the minority leader.
Constitution silent on the manner of selecting officers in Congress other than Senate
President and House Speaker
While the Constitution is explicit on the manner of electing a Senate President and a
House Speaker, it is, however, dead silent on the manner of selecting the other
officers in both chambers of Congress. All that the Charter says is that [e]achHouse
shall choose such other officers as it may deem necessary. To our mind,
the method of choosing who will be such other officers is merely a derivative of the
exercise of the prerogative conferred by the aforequoted constitutional provision.
Therefore, such method must be prescribed by the Senate itself, not by this Court.
In this regard, the Constitution vests in each house of Congress the power to
determine the rules of its proceedings. xxx
Separation of powers: Courts may not intervene in the internal affairs of legislature
Notably, the Rules of the Senate do not provide for the positions of majority and
minority leaders. Neither is there an open clause providing specifically for such
offices and prescribing the manner of creating them or of choosing the holders
thereof. At any rate, such offices, by tradition and long practice, are actually extant.
But, in the absence of constitutional or statutory guidelines or specific rules, this
Court is devoid of any basis upon which to determine the legality of the acts of the
Senate relative thereto. On grounds of respect for the basic concept of separation of
powers, courts may not intervene in the internal affairs of the legislature; it is not
within the province of courts to direct Congress how to do its work. Paraphrasing the

words of Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, this Court is of the opinion that where no
specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the legislature must
be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate as well as to
implement them, before the courts may intervene.
Legislative rules, unlike statutory laws, are matters of procedure and are subject to
revocation, modification and waiver by the body adopting them
Needless to state, legislative rules, unlike statutory laws, do not have the imprints
of permanence and obligatoriness during their effectivity. In fact, they are subject
to revocation, modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them.
Being merely matters of procedure, their observance are of no concern to the
courts, for said rules may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body at will,
upon the concurrence of a majority.
In view of the foregoing, Congress verily has the power and prerogative to provide
for such officers as it may deem. And it is certainly within its own jurisdiction and
discretion to prescribe the parameters for the exercise of this prerogative. This
Court has no authority to interfere and unilaterally intrude into that exclusive realm,
without running afoul of constitutional principles that it is bound to protect and
uphold -- the very duty that justifies the Courts being. Constitutional respect and a
becoming regard for the sovereign acts of a coequal branch prevents this Court
from prying into the internal workings of the Senate. To repeat, this Court will be
neither a tyrant nor a wimp; rather, it will remain steadfast and judicious in
upholding the rule and majesty of the law.
To accede, then, to the interpretation of petitioners would practically amount to
judicial legislation, a clear breach of the constitutional doctrine of separation of
powers. If for this argument alone, the petition would easily fail.

People v. Jalosjos [G.R. Nos. 132875-76. February 3, 2000]


08OCT
FACTS
The accused-appellant, Romeo G. Jalosjos is a full-fledged member of Congress who
is now confined at the national penitentiary while his conviction for statutory rape
on two counts and acts of lasciviousness on six counts is pending appeal. The
accused-appellant filed this motion asking that he be allowed to fully discharge the
duties of a Congressman, including attendance at legislative sessions and
committee meetings despite his having been convicted in the first instance of a
non-bailable offense.

ISSUE
Whether or not being a Congressman is a substantial differentiation which removes
the accused-appellant as a prisoner from the same class as all persons validly
confined under law by reason of the mandate of the sovereign will.
RULING
NO. While the Constitution guarantees: x x x nor shall any person be denied the
equal protection of laws., this simply means that all persons similarly situated shall
be treated alike both in rights enjoyed and responsibilities imposed. The duties
imposed by the mandate of the people are multifarious. The Court cannot validate
badges of inequality. The necessities imposed by public welfare may justify exercise
of government authority to regulate even if thereby certain groups may plausibly
assert that their interests are disregarded. Here, election to the position of
Congressman is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement. The
functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift him from
the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of
movement. Lawful arrest and confinement are germane to the purposes of the law
and apply to all those belonging to the same class. Hence, the performance of
legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to
free a person validly in prison.

Arroyo v. De Venecia
G.R. No. 127255 June 26, 1998
Mendoza, J.
Facts:
Petitioners contend that when the Majority Leader (Rep. Rodolfo Albano) moved for the
approval of the conference committee report on the bill that became R.A. No. 8240, leading the
Chair (Deputy Speaker Raul Daza) to ask if there was any objection to the motion, and Rep. Joker P.
Arroyo asked, What is that, Mr. Speaker?, the Chair allegedly ignored him and instead declared the
report approved. Petitioners claim that the question What is that, Mr. Speaker? was a privileged
question or a point of order which, under the rules of the House, has precedence over other matters,
with the exception of motions to adjourn.
Issue:
whether the process of which led to the enactment of R.A. No. 8240 was illegal for noncompliance with internal rules of the House of Representatives
Held:
No. there is no basis for the charge that the approval of the conference committee report
on what later became R.A. No. 8240 was railroaded through the House of Representatives. Nor is

there any need for petitioners to invoke the power of the Supreme Court under Art. VIII, 1 of the
Constitution to determine whether, in enacting R.A. No. 8240, the House of Representatives acted
with grave abuse of discretion, since that is what we have precisely done, although the result of our
review may not be what petitioners want. It should be added that, even if petitioners allegations are
true, the disregard of the rules in this case would not affect the validity of R.A. No. 8240, the rules
allegedly violated being merely internal rules of procedure of the House rather than constitutional
requirements for the enactment of laws. It is well settled that a legislative act will not be declared
invalid for non-compliance with internal rules.

109 Phil. 863 Political Law The Legislative Department Parliamentary Immunity
In June 1960, Congressman Sergio Osmea, Jr. delivered a speech entitled A Message to
Garcia. In the said speech, he disparaged then President Carlos Garcia and his
administration. Subsequently, House Resolution No. 59 was passed by the lower house in
order to investigate the charges made by Osmea during his speech and that if his
allegations were found to be baseless and malicious, he may be subjected to disciplinary
actions by the lower house.
Osmea then questioned the validity of the said resolution before the Supreme Court.
Osmea avers that the resolution violates his parliamentary immunity for speeches
delivered in Congress. Congressman Salipada Pendatun filed an answer where he averred
that the Supreme Court has not jurisdiction over the matter and Congress has the power to
discipline its members.
ISSUE: Whether or not Osmeas immunity has been violated?
HELD: No. Section 15, Article VI of the 1935 Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity
upon members of the legislature which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every
parliament in a democratic world. It guarantees the legislator complete freedom of
expression without fear of being made responsible in criminal or civil actions before the
courts or any other forum outside the Hall of Congress. However, it does not protect him
from responsibility before the legislative body whenever his words and conduct are
considered disorderly or unbecoming of a member therein. Therefore, Osmeas petition is
dismissed.
Santiago vs Sandiganbayan

356 SCRA 636 Political Law The Legislative Department Suspension of a Member of
Congress Violations of RA 3019

In October 1988, Miriam Defensor Santiago, who was the then Commissioner of the
Commission of Immigration and Deportation (CID), approved the application for legalization
of the stay of about 32 aliens. Her act was said to be illegal and was tainted with bad faith
and it ran counter against Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). The
legalization of such is also a violation of Executive Order No. 324 which prohibits the
legalization of disqualified aliens. The aliens legalized by Santiago were allegedly known by
her to be disqualified. Two other criminal cases were filed against Santiago. Pursuant to this
information, Francis Garchitorena, a presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan, issued a
warrant of arrest against Santiago. Santiago petitioned for provisional liberty since she was
just recovering from a car accident which was approved. In 1995, a motion was filed with
the Sandiganbayan for the suspension of Santiago, who was already a senator by then. The
Sandiganbayan ordered the Senate President (Maceda) to suspend Santiago from office for
90 days.
ISSUE: Whether or not Sandiganbayan can order suspension of a member of the Senate
without violating the Constitution.
HELD: Yes. it is true that the Constitution provides that each house may determine the
rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and, with the
concurrence of two-thirds of all its Members, suspend or expel a Member. A penalty of
suspension, when imposed, shall not exceed sixty days.
But on the other hand, Section 13 of RA 3019 provides:
Suspension and loss of benefits. any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal
prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised
Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property
whether as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode
of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted
by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is
acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which he
failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime administrative proceedings
have been filed against him.
In here, the order of suspension prescribed by RA. 3019 is distinct from the power of
Congress to discipline its own ranks under the Constitution. The suspension contemplated
in the above constitutional provision is a punitive measure that is imposed upon
determination by the Senate or the Lower House, as the case may be, upon an erring
member. This is quite distinct from the suspension spoken of in Section 13 of RA 3019,
which is not a penalty but a preliminary, preventive measure, prescinding from the fact that
the latter is not being imposed on petitioner for misbehavior as a Member of the Senate.

Republic Act No. 3019 does not exclude from its coverage the members of Congress and
that, therefore, the Sandiganbayan did not err in thus decreeing the assailed preventive
suspension order.
But Santiago committed the said act when she was still the CID commissioner, can she still
be suspended as a senator?
Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 does not state that the public officer concerned must
be suspended only in the office where he is alleged to have committed the acts with which
he has been charged. Thus, it has been held that the use of the word office would indicate
that it applies to any office which the officer charged may be holding, and not only the
particular office under which he stands accused.
Santiago has not yet been convicted of the alleged crime, can she still be suspended?
The law does not require that the guilt of the accused must be established in a presuspension proceeding before trial on the merits proceeds. Neither does it contemplate a
proceeding to determine (1) the strength of the evidence of culpability against him, (2) the
gravity of the offense charged, or (3) whether or not his continuance in office could influence
the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records another evidence
before the court could have a valid basis in decreeing preventive suspension pending the
trial of the case. All it secures to the accused is adequate opportunity to challenge the
validity or regularity of the proceedings against him, such as, that he has not been afforded
the right to due preliminary investigation, that the acts imputed to him do not constitute a
specific crime warranting his mandatory suspension from office under Section 13 of
Republic Act No. 3019, or that the information is subject to quashal on any of the grounds
set out in Section 3, Rule 117, of the Revised Rules on Criminal procedure.