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Republic of the Philippines brilliant and dedicated counsel, all interests involved should be duly

SUPREME COURT and amply represented and protected. At any rate, notwithstanding
Manila that their corresponding motions for leave to intervene or to appear
as amicus curiae 1 have been denied, the pleadings filed by the
EN BANC other delegates and some private parties, the latter in
representation of their minor children allegedly to be affected by the
result of this case with the records and the Court acknowledges that
they have not been without value as materials in the extensive study
that has been undertaken in this case.
G.R. No. L-34150 October 16, 1971
The background facts are beyond dispute. The Constitutional
ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, petitioner, Convention of 1971 came into being by virtue of two resolutions of
vs. the Congress of the Philippines approved in its capacity as a
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and THE CHIEF ACCOUNTANT, THE constituent assembly convened for the purpose of calling a
AUDITOR, and THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE 1971 convention to propose amendments to the Constitution namely,
CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, respondents, RAUL S. MANGLAPUS, Resolutions 2 and 4 of the joint sessions of Congress held on March
JESUS G. BARRERA, PABLO S. TRILLANA III, VICTOR DE LA SERNA, 16, 1967 and June 17, 1969 respectively. The delegates to the said
MARCELO B. FERNAN, JOSE Y. FERIA, LEONARDO SIGUION REYNA, Convention were all elected under and by virtue of said resolutions
VICTOR F. ORTEGA, and JUAN V. BORRA, Intervenors. and the implementing legislation thereof, Republic Act 6132. The
pertinent portions of Resolution No 2 read as follows:
Arturo M. Tolentino in his own behalf.
SECTION 1. There is hereby called a convention
Ramon A. Gonzales for respondents Chief Accountant and Auditor of to propose amendments to the Constitution of
the 1971 Constitutional Convention. the Philippines, to be composed of two elective
Delegates from each representative district who
Emmanuel Pelaez, Jorge M. Juco and Tomas L. Echivarre for shall have the same qualifications as those
respondent Disbursing Officer of the 1971 Constitutional Convention. required of Members of the House of
Representatives.

Intervenors in their own behalf.


xxx xxx xxx

SECTION 7. The amendments proposed by the


Convention shall be valid and considered part of
BARREDO, J.: the Constitution when approved by a majority of
the votes cast in an election at which they are
Petition for prohibition principally to restrain the respondent submitted to the people for their ratification
Commission on Elections "from undertaking to hold a plebiscite on pursuant to Article XV of the Constitution.
November 8, 1971," at which the proposed constitutional
amendment "reducing the voting age" in Section 1 of Article V of the Resolution No. 4 merely modified the number of delegates to
Constitution of the Philippines to eighteen years "shall be, represent the different cities and provinces fixed originally in
submitted" for ratification by the people pursuant to Organic Resolution No 2.
Resolution No. 1 of the Constitutional Convention of 1971, and the
subsequent implementing resolutions, by declaring said resolutions
to be without the force and effect of law in so far as they direct the After the election of the delegates held on November 10, 1970, the
holding of such plebiscite and by also declaring the acts of the Convention held its inaugural session on June 1, 1971. Its preliminary
respondent Commission (COMELEC) performed and to be done by it labors of election of officers, organization of committees and other
in obedience to the aforesaid Convention resolutions to be null and preparatory works over, as its first formal proposal to amend the
void, for being violative of the Constitution of the Philippines. Constitution, its session which began on September 27, 1971, or
more accurately, at about 3:30 in the morning of September 28,
1971, the Convention approved Organic Resolution No. 1 reading
As a preliminary step, since the petition named as respondent only thus: .
the COMELEC, the Count required that copies thereof be served on
the Solicitor General and the Constitutional Convention, through its
President, for such action as they may deem proper to take. In due CC ORGANIC RESOLUTION NO. 1
time, respondent COMELEC filed its answer joining issues with
petitioner. To further put things in proper order, and considering A RESOLUTION AMENDING SECTION ONE OF
that the fiscal officers of the Convention are indispensable parties in ARTICLE V OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
a proceeding of this nature, since the acts sought to be enjoined PHILIPPINES SO AS TO LOWER THE VOTING AGE
involve the expenditure of funds appropriated by law for the TO 18
Convention, the Court also ordered that the Disbursing Officer, Chief
Accountant and Auditor of the Convention be made respondents. BE IT RESOLVED as it is hereby resolved by the
After the petition was so amended, the first appeared thru Senator 1971 Constitutional Convention:
Emmanuel Pelaez and the last two thru Delegate Ramon Gonzales.
All said respondents, thru counsel, resist petitioner's action.
Section 1. Section One of Article V of the
Constitution of the Philippines is amended to as
For reasons of orderliness and to avoid unnecessary duplication of follows:
arguments and even possible confusion, and considering that with
the principal parties being duly represented by able counsel, their
Section 1. Suffrage may be
interests would be adequately protected already, the Court had to
exercised by (male) citizens
limit the number of intervenors from the ranks of the delegates to
of the Philippines not
the Convention who, more or less, have legal interest in the success
otherwise disqualified by
of the respondents, and so, only Delegates Raul S. Manglapus, Jesus
law, who are (twenty-one)
G. Barrera, Pablo S. Trillana III, Victor de la Serna, Marcelo B. Fernan,
EIGHTEEN years or over and
Jose Y. Feria, Leonardo Siguion Reyna, Victor Ortega and Juan B.
are able to read and write,
Borra, all distinguished lawyers in their own right, have been allowed
and who shall have resided in
to intervene jointly. The Court feels that with such an array of
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the Philippines for one year (c) Said official ballots and election forms will be
and in the municipality delivered to the Commission in time so that they
wherein they propose to could be distributed at the same time that the
vote for at least six months Commission will distribute its official and sample
preceding the election. ballots to be used in the elections on November
8, 1971.
Section 2. This amendment shall be valid as part
of the Constitution of the Philippines when What happened afterwards may best be stated by quoting from
approved by a majority of the votes cast in a intervenors' Governors' statement of the genesis of the above
plebiscite to coincide with the local elections in proposal:
November 1971.
The President of the Convention also issued an
Section 3. This partial amendment, which refers order forming an Ad Hoc Committee to
only to the age qualification for the exercise of implement the Resolution.
suffrage shall be without prejudice to other
amendments that will be proposed in the future This Committee issued implementing guidelines
by the 1971 Constitutional Convention on other which were approved by the President who then
portions of the amended Section or on other transmitted them to the Commission on
portions of the entire Constitution. Elections.

Section 4. The Convention hereby authorizes the The Committee on Plebiscite and Ratification
use of the sum of P75,000.00 from its savings or filed a report on the progress of the
from its unexpended funds for the expense of implementation of the plebiscite in the
the advanced plebiscite; provided, however that afternoon of October 7,1971, enclosing copies of
should there be no savings or unexpended sums, the order, resolution and letters of transmittal
the Delegates waive P250.00 each or the above referred to (Copy of the report is hereto
equivalent of 2-1/2 days per diem. attached as Annex 8-Memorandum).

By a letter dated September 28, 1971, President Diosdado RECESS RESOLUTION


Macapagal, called upon respondent Comelec "to help the
Convention implement (the above) resolution." The said letter
In its plenary session in the evening of October 7,
reads:
1971, the Convention approved a resolution
authored by Delegate Antonio Olmedo of Davao
September 28, 1971 Oriental, calling for a recess of the Convention
from November 1, 1971 to November 9, 1971 to
The Commission on Elections Manila permit the delegates to campaign for the
ratification of Organic Resolution No. 1. (Copies
Thru the Chairman of the resolution and the transcript of debate
thereon are hereto attached as Annexes 9 and 9-
A Memorandum, respectively).
Gentlemen:

RESOLUTION CONFIRMING IMPLEMENTATION


Last night the Constitutional Convention passed
Resolution No. 1 quoted as follows:
On October 12, 1971, the Convention passed
Resolution No. 24 submitted by Delegate Jose
xxx xxx xxx
Ozamiz confirming the authority of the President
of the Convention to implement Organic
(see above) Resolution No. 1, including the creation of the Ad
Hoc Committee ratifying all acts performed in
Pursuant to the provision of Section 14, Republic connection with said implementation.
Act No. 6132 otherwise known as the
Constitutional Convention Act of 1971, may we Upon these facts, the main thrust of the petition is that Organic
call upon you to help the Convention implement Resolution No. 1 and the other implementing resolutions thereof
this resolution: subsequently approved by the Convention have no force and effect
as laws in so far as they provide for the holding of a plebiscite co-
Sincerely, incident with the elections of eight senators and all city, provincial
and municipal officials to be held on November 8, 1971, hence all of
(Sgd.) DIOSDADO P. MACAPAGAL Comelec's acts in obedience thereof and tending to carry out the
DIOSDADO P. MACAPAGAL holding of the plebiscite directed by said resolutions are null and
President void, on the ground that the calling and holding of such a plebiscite
is, by the Constitution, a power lodged exclusively in Congress, as a
legislative body, and may not be exercised by the Convention, and
On September 30, 1971, COMELEC "RESOLVED to inform the that, under Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution, the proposed
Constitutional Convention that it will hold the plebiscite on condition amendment in question cannot be presented to the people for
that: ratification separately from each and all of the other amendments to
be drafted and proposed by the Convention. On the other hand,
(a) The Constitutional Convention will undertake respondents and intervenors posit that the power to provide for, fix
the printing of separate official ballots, election the date and lay down the details of the plebiscite for the ratification
returns and tally sheets for the use of said of any amendment the Convention may deem proper to propose is
plebiscite at its expense; within the authority of the Convention as a necessary consequence
and part of its power to propose amendments and that this power
(b) The Constitutional Convention will adopt its includes that of submitting such amendments either individually or
own security measures for the printing and jointly at such time and manner as the Convention may direct in
shipment of said ballots and election forms; and discretion. The Court's delicate task now is to decide which of these
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two poses is really in accord with the letter and spirit of the the apportionment had not been made as may
Constitution. be possible according to the number of
inhabitants of each province. Thus we rejected
As a preliminary and prejudicial matter, the intervenors raise the the theory, advanced in these four (4) cases that
question of jurisdiction. They contend that the issue before Us is a the issues therein raised were political questions
political question and that the Convention being legislative body of the determination of which is beyond judicial
the highest order is sovereign, and as such, its acts impugned by review.
petitioner are beyond the control of the Congress and the courts. In
this connection, it is to be noted that none of the respondent has Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or
joined intervenors in this posture. In fact, respondents Chief to propose amendments thereto is not included
Accountant and Auditor of the convention expressly concede the in the general grant of legislative powers to
jurisdiction of this Court in their answer acknowledging that the Congress (Section 1, Art. VI, Constitution of the
issue herein is a justifiable one. Philippines). It is part of the inherent powers of
the people — as the repository sovereignty in a
Strangely, intervenors cite in support of this contention portions of republican state, such as ours (Section 1, Art. 11,
the decision of this Court in the case of Gonzales v. Comelec, 21 Constitution of the Philippines) — to make, and,
SCRA 774, wherein the members of the Court, despite their being hence, to amend their own Fundamental Law.
divided in their opinions as to the other matters therein involved, Congress may propose amendments to the
were precisely unanimous in upholding its jurisdiction. Obviously, Constitution merely because the same explicitly
distinguished counsel have either failed to grasp the full impact of grants such power. (Section 1, Art. XV,
the portions of Our decision they have quoted or would misapply Constitution of the Philippines) Hence, when
them by taking them out of context. exercising the same, it is said that Senators and
members of the House of Representatives
act, not as members of Congress, but as
There should be no more doubt as to the position of this Court
component elements of a constituent assembly.
regarding its jurisdiction vis-a-vis the constitutionality of the acts of
When acting as such, the members of Congress
the Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, and, for that matter,
derive their authority from the Constitution,
those of a constitutional convention called for the purpose of
unlike the people, when performing the same
proposing amendments to the Constitution, which concededly is at
function, (Of amending the Constitution) for
par with the former. A simple reading of Our ruling in that very case
their authority does not emanate from the
of Gonzales relied upon by intervenors should dispel any lingering
Constitution — they are the very source of all
misgivings as regards that point. Succinctly but comprehensively,
powers of government including the Constitution
Chief Justice Concepcion held for the Court thus: .
itself.

As early as Angara vs. Electoral Commission (63


Since, when proposing, as a constituent
Phil. 139, 157), this Court — speaking through
assembly, amendments to the Constitution, the
one of the leading members of the
members of Congress derive their authority from
Constitutional Convention and a respected
the Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily,
professor of Constitutional Law, Dr. Jose P.
that they do not have the final say on whether or
Laurel — declared that "the judicial department
not their acts are within or beyond constitutional
is the only constitutional organ which can be
limits. Otherwise, they could brush aside and set
called upon to determine the proper allocation
the same at naught, contrary to the basic tenet
of powers between the several departments and
that ours is a government of laws, not of men,
among the integral or constituent units thereof."
and to the rigid nature of our Constitution. Such
rigidity is stressed by the fact that the
It is true that in Mabanag v. Lopez Vito (supra), Constitution expressly confers upon the
this Court characterizing the issue submitted Supreme Court, (And, inferentially, to lower
thereto as a political one declined to pass upon courts.) the power to declare a treaty
the question whether or not a given number of unconstitutional. (Sec. 2(1), Art. VIII of the
votes cast in Congress in favor of a proposed Constitution), despite the eminently political
amendment to the Constitution — which was character of treaty-making power.
being submitted to the people for ratification —
satisfied the three-fourths vote requirement of
In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of
the fundamental law. The force of this precedent
Congress — acting as a constituent assembly —
has been weakened, however, by Suanes v. Chief
violates the Constitution is essentially justiciable
Accountant of the Senate (81 Phil. 818), Avelino
not political, and, hence, subject to judicial
v. Cuenco, (L-2851, March 4 & 14, 1949), Tañada
review, and, to the extent that this view may be
v. Cuenco, (L-10520, Feb. 28, 1957) and Macias v.
inconsistent with the stand taken in Mabanag v.
Commission on Elections, (L-18684, Sept. 14,
Lopez Vito, (supra) the latter should be deemed
1961). In the first we held that the officers and
modified accordingly. The Members of the Court
employees of the Senate Electoral Tribunal are
are unanimous on this point.
under its supervision and control, not of that of
the Senate President, as claimed by the latter; in
the second, this Court proceeded to determine No one can rightly claim that within the domain of its legitimate
the number of Senators necessary for quorum in authority, the Convention is not supreme. Nowhere in his petition
the Senate; in the third, we nullified the election, and in his oral argument and memoranda does petitioner point
by Senators belonging to the party having the otherwise. Actually, what respondents and intervenors are
largest number of votes in said chamber, seemingly reluctant to admit is that the Constitutional Convention of
purporting to act, on behalf of the party having 1971, as any other convention of the same nature, owes its
the second largest number of votes therein of existence and derives all its authority and power from the existing
two (2) Senators belonging to the first party, as Constitution of the Philippines. This Convention has not been called
members, for the second party, of the Senate by the people directly as in the case of a revolutionary convention
Electoral Tribunal; and in the fourth, we declared which drafts the first Constitution of an entirely new government
unconstitutional an act of Congress purporting to born of either a war of liberation from a mother country or of a
apportion the representatives districts for the revolution against an existing government or of a bloodless seizure
House of Representatives, upon the ground that of power a la coup d'etat. As to such kind of conventions, it is

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absolutely true that the convention is completely without restrain judicial departments of the government. The
and omnipotent all wise, and it is as to such conventions that the overlapping and interlacing of functions and
remarks of Delegate Manuel Roxas of the Constitutional Convention duties between the several departments,
of 1934 quoted by Senator Pelaez refer. No amount of however, sometimes makes it hard to say where
rationalization can belie the fact that the current convention came the one leaves off and the other begins. In times
into being only because it was called by a resolution of a joint of social disquietude or political excitement, the
session of Congress acting as a constituent assembly by authority of great landmark of the Constitution are apt to be
Section 1, Article XV of the present Constitution which provides: forgotten or marred, if not entirely obliterated.
In cases of conflict, the judicial department is the
ARTICLE XV — AMENDMENTS only constitutional organ which can be called
upon to determine the proper allocation of
powers between the several departments and
SECTION 1. The Congress in joint session
among the integral or constituent units thereof.
assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the
Members of the Senate and of the House of
Representatives voting separately, may propose As any human production our Constitution is of
amendments to this Constitution or call a course lacking perfection and perfectibility, but
convention for the purpose. Such amendments as much as it was within the power of our
shall be valid as part of this Constitution when people, acting through their delegates to so
approved by a majority of the votes cast at an provide, that instrument which is the expression
election at which the amendments are of their sovereignty however limited, has
submitted to the people for their ratification. established a republican government intended
to operate and function as a harmonious whole,
under a system of check and balances and
True it is that once convened, this Convention became endowed
subject to specific limitations and restrictions
with extra ordinary powers generally beyond the control of any
provided in the said instrument. The Constitution
department of the existing government, but the compass of such
sets forth in no uncertain language the
powers can be co-extensive only with the purpose for which the
restrictions and limitations upon governmental
convention was called and as it may propose cannot have any effect
powers and agencies. If these restrictions and
as part of the Constitution until the same are duly ratified by the
limitations are transcended it would be
people, it necessarily follows that the acts of convention, its officers
inconceivable if the Constitution had not
and members are not immune from attack on constitutional
provided for a mechanism by which to direct the
grounds. The present Constitution is in full force and effect in its
course of government along constitutional
entirety and in everyone of its parts the existence of the Convention
channels, for then the distribution of powers
notwithstanding, and operates even within the walls of that
would be mere verbiage, the bill of rights mere
assembly. While it is indubitable that in its internal operation and
expressions of sentiment and the principles of
the performance of its task to propose amendments to the
good government mere political apothegms.
Constitution it is not subject to any degree of restraint or control by
Certainly the limitations and restrictions
any other authority than itself, it is equally beyond cavil that neither
embodied in our Constitution are real as they
the Convention nor any of its officers or members can rightfully
should be in any living Constitution. In the
deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of
United States where no express constitutional
law, deny to anyone in this country the equal protection of the laws
grant is found in their constitution, the
or the freedom of speech and of the press in disregard of the Bill of
possession of this moderating power of the
Rights of the existing Constitution. Nor, for that matter, can such
courts, not to speak of its historical origin and
Convention validly pass any resolution providing for the taking of
development there, has been set at rest by
private property without just compensation or for the imposition or
popular acquiescence for a period of more than
exacting of any tax, impost or assessment, or declare war or call the
one and half centuries. In our case, this
Congress to a special session, suspend the privilege of the writ of
moderating power is granted, if not expressly, by
habeas corpus, pardon a convict or render judgment in a
clear implication from section 2 of Article VIII of
controversy between private individuals or between such individuals
our Constitution.
and the state, in violation of the distribution of powers in the
Constitution.
The Constitution is a definition of the powers or
government. Who is to determine the nature,
It being manifest that there are powers which the Convention may
scope and extent of such powers? The
not and cannot validly assert, much less exercise, in the light of the
Constitution itself has provided for the
existing Constitution, the simple question arises, should an act of the
instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational
Convention be assailed by a citizen as being among those not
way. And when the judiciary mediates to allocate
granted to or inherent in it, according to the existing Constitution,
constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any
who can decide whether such a contention is correct or not? It is of
superiority over the other departments; it does
the very essence of the rule of law that somehow somewhere the
not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the
Power and duty to resolve such a grave constitutional question must
legislature, but only asserts the solemn and
be lodged on some authority, or we would have to confess that the
sacred obligation assigned to it by the
integrated system of government established by our founding
Constitution to determine conflicting claims of
fathers contains a wide vacuum no intelligent man could ignore,
authority under the Constitution and to establish
which is naturally unworthy of their learning, experience and
for the parties in an actual controversy the rights
craftsmanship in constitution-making.
which that instrument secures and guarantees to
them. This is in truth all that is involved in what
We need not go far in search for the answer to the query We have is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is
posed. The very decision of Chief Justice Concepcion in Gonzales, so the power of judicial review under the
much invoked by intervenors, reiterates and reinforces the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial
irrefutable logic and wealth of principle in the opinion written for a review is limited to actual cases and
unanimous Court by Justice Laurel in Angara vs. Electoral controversies to be exercised after full
Commission, 63 Phil., 134, reading: opportunity of argument by the parties, and
limited further to the constitutional question
... (I)n the main, the Constitution has blocked out raised or the very lis mota presented. Any
with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of attempt at abstraction could only lead to
power to the executive, the legislative and the dialectics and barren legal questions and to
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strike conclusions unrelated to actualities. acting within the limits of its authority, it does
Narrowed as its functions is in this manner the not follow that it is beyond the reach of the
judiciary does not pass upon questions of constitutional mechanism adopted by the people
wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. and that it is not subject to constitutional
More than that, courts accord the presumption restriction. The Electoral Commission is not a
of constitutionality to legislative enactments, not separate department of the government, and
only because the legislature is presumed to even if it were, conflicting claims of authority
abide by the Constitution but also because the under the fundamental law between
judiciary in the determination of actual cases and departmental powers and agencies of the
controversies must reflect the wisdom and government are necessarily determined by the
justice of the people as expressed through their judiciary in justiciable and appropriate cases.
representatives in the executive and legislative Discarding the English type and other European
departments of the government. types of constitutional government, the framers
of our Constitution adopted the American type
But much as we might postulate on the internal where the written constitution is interpreted and
checks of power provided in our Constitution, it given effect by the judicial department. In some
ought not the less to be remembered that, in the countries which have declined to follow the
language of James Madison, the system itself is American example, provisions have been
not "the chief palladium of constitutional liberty inserted in their constitutions prohibiting the
... the people who are authors of this blessing courts from exercising the power to interpret the
must also be its guardians ... their eyes must be fundamental law. This is taken as a recognition
ever ready to mark, their voices to pronounce ... of what otherwise would be the rule that in the
aggression on the authority of their absence of direct prohibition, courts are bound
Constitution." In the last and ultimate analysis to assume what is logically their function. For
then, must the success of our government in the instance, the Constitution of Poland of 1921
unfolding years to come be tested in the crucible expressly provides that courts shall have no
of Filipino minds and hearts than in consultation power to examine the validity of statutes (art.
rooms and court chambers. 81, Chap. IV). The former Austrian Constitution
contained a similar declaration. In countries
whose constitution are silent in this respect,
In the case at bar, the National Assembly has by
courts have assumed this power. This is true in
resolution (No. 8) of December 3, 1935,
Norway, Greece, Australia and South Africa.
confirmed the election of the herein petitioner
Whereas, in Czechoslovakia (arts. 2 and 3,
to the said body. On the other hand, the
Preliminary Law to Constitutional Charter of the
Electoral Commission has by resolution adopted
Czechoslavak, Republic, February 29, 1920) and
on December 9, 1935, fixed said date as the last
Spain (arts. 121-123, Title IX, Constitution of the
day for the filing of protests against the election,
Republic of 1931) especial constitutional courts
returns and qualifications of members of the
are established to pass upon the validity of
National Assembly; notwithstanding the previous
ordinary laws. In our case, the nature of the
confirmations made by the National Assembly as
present controversy shows the necessity of a
aforesaid. If, as contended by the petitioner, the
final constitutional arbiter to determine the
resolution of the National Assembly has the
conflict of authority between two agencies
effect of cutting off the power of the Electoral
created by the Constitution. Were we to decline
Commission to entertain protests against the
to take cognizance of the controversy, who will
election, returns and qualifications of members
determine the conflict? And if the conflict were
of the National Assembly, submitted after
left undecided and undetermined, would not a
December 3, 1935 then the resolution of the
void be thus created in our constitutional system
Electoral Commission of December 9, 1935, is
which may in the long run prove destructive of
mere surplusage and had no effect. But, if, as
the entire framework? To ask these questions is
contended by the respondents, the Electoral
to answer them. Natura vacuum abhorret, so
Commission has the sole power of regulating its
must we avoid exhaustion in our constitutional
proceedings to the exclusion of the National
system. Upon principle, reason, and authority,
Assembly, then the resolution of December 9,
we are clearly of the opinion that upon the
1935, by which the Electoral Commission fixed
admitted facts of the present case, this court has
said date as the last day for filing protests
jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and
against the election, returns and qualifications of
the subject matter of the present controversy for
members of the National Assembly, should be
the purpose of determining the character, scope
upheld.
and extent of the constitutional grant to the
Electoral Commission as "the sole judge of all
Here is then presented an actual controversy contests relating to the election, returns and
involving as it does a conflict of a grave qualifications of the members of the National
constitutional nature between the National Assembly."
Assembly on the one hand and the Electoral
Commission on the other. From the very nature
Digest:
of the republican government established in our
country in the light of American experience and
of our own, upon the judicial department is In the elections of Sept 17, 1935, Angara, and the respondents, Pedro
thrown the solemn and inescapable obligation of Ynsua et al. were candidates voted for the position of member of the
interpreting the Constitution and defining
National Assembly for the first district of the Province of Tayabas. On
constitutional boundaries. The Electoral
Commission as we shall have occasion to refer Oct 7, 1935, Angara was proclaimed as member-elect of the NA for
hereafter, is a constitutional organ, created for a the said district. On November 15, 1935, he took his oath of office.
specific purpose, namely, to determine all On Dec 3, 1935, the NA in session assembled, passed Resolution No.
contests relating to the election, returns and 8 confirming the election of the members of the National Assembly
qualifications of the members of the National
against whom no protest had thus far been filed. On Dec 8, 1935,
Assembly. Although the Electoral Commission
may not be interfered with, when and while Ynsua, filed before the Electoral Commission a “Motion of Protest”
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against the election of Angara. On Dec 9, 1935, the EC adopted a At the threshold, the environmental circumstances of this case
demand the most accurate and unequivocal statement of the real
resolution, par. 6 of which fixed said date as the last day for the filing
issue which the Court is called upon to resolve. Petitioner has very
of protests against the election, returns and qualifications of clearly stated that he is not against the constitutional extension of
members of the NA, notwithstanding the previous confirmation the right of suffrage to the eighteen-year-olds, as a matter of fact, he
made by the NA. Angara filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that by has advocated or sponsored in Congress such a proposal, and that,
virtue of the NA proclamation, Ynsua can no longer protest. Ynsua in truth, the herein petition is not intended by him to prevent that
the proposed amendment here involved be submitted to the people
argued back by claiming that EC proclamation governs and that the for ratification, his only purpose in filing the petition being to comply
EC can take cognizance of the election protest and that the EC with his sworn duty to prevent, Whenever he can, any violation of
cannot be subject to a writ of prohibition from the SC. the Constitution of the Philippines even if it is committed in the
ISSUES: Whether or not the SC has jurisdiction over such matter. course of or in connection with the most laudable undertaking.
Indeed, as the Court sees it, the specific question raised in this case
Whether or not EC acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in taking
is limited solely and only to the point of whether or not it is within
cognizance of the election protest. the power of the Convention to call for a plebiscite for the
HELD: The SC ruled in favor of Angara. The SC emphasized that in ratification by the people of the constitutional amendment
cases of conflict between the several departments and among the proposed in the abovequoted Organic Resolution No. 1, in the
manner and form provided in said resolution as well as in the subject
agencies thereof, the judiciary, with the SC as the final arbiter, is the
question implementing actions and resolution of the Convention and
only constitutional mechanism devised finally to resolve the conflict its officers, at this juncture of its proceedings, when as it is a matter
and allocate constitutional boundaries. of common knowledge and judicial notice, it is not set to
That judicial supremacy is but the power of judicial review in actual adjourn sine die, and is, in fact, still in the preliminary stages of
and appropriate cases and controversies, and is the power and duty considering other reforms or amendments affecting other parts of
the existing Constitution; and, indeed, Organic Resolution No. 1 itself
to see that no one branch or agency of the government transcends
expressly provides, that the amendment therein proposed "shall be
the Constitution, which is the source of all authority. without prejudice to other amendments that will be proposed in the
That the Electoral Commission is an independent constitutional future by the 1971 Constitutional Convention on other portions of
creation with specific powers and functions to execute and perform, the amended section or on other portions of the entire
Constitution." In other words, nothing that the Court may say or do,
closer for purposes of classification to the legislative than to any of
in this case should be understood as reflecting, in any degree or
the other two departments of the government. means the individual or collective stand of the members of the Court
That the Electoral Commission is the sole judge of all contests on the fundamental issue of whether or not the eighteen-year-olds
relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the should be allowed to vote, simply because that issue is not before Us
now. There should be no doubt in the mind of anyone that, once the
National Assembly.
Court finds it constitutionally permissible, it will not hesitate to do its
part so that the said proposed amendment may be presented to the
. people for their approval or rejection.

As the Chief Justice has made it clear in Gonzales, like Justice Laurel Withal, the Court rests securely in the conviction that the fire and
did in Angara, these postulates just quoted do not apply only to enthusiasm of the youth have not blinded them to the absolute
conflicts of authority between the three existing regular necessity, under the fundamental principles of democracy to which
departments of the government but to all such conflicts between the Filipino people is committed, of adhering always to the rule of
and among these departments, or, between any of them, on the one law. Surely, their idealism, sincerity and purity of purpose cannot
hand, and any other constitutionally created independent body, like permit any other line of conduct or approach in respect of the
the electoral tribunals in Congress, the Comelec and the Constituent problem before Us. The Constitutional Convention of 1971 itself was
assemblies constituted by the House of Congress, on the other. We born, in a great measure, because of the pressure brought to bear
see no reason of logic or principle whatsoever, and none has been upon the Congress of the Philippines by various elements of the
convincingly shown to Us by any of the respondents and intervenors, people, the youth in particular, in their incessant search for a
why the same ruling should not apply to the present Convention, peaceful and orderly means of bringing about meaningful changes in
even if it is an assembly of delegate elected directly by the people, the structure and bases of the existing social and governmental
since at best, as already demonstrated, it has been convened by institutions, including the provisions of the fundamental law related
authority of and under the terms of the present Constitution.. to the well-being and economic security of the underprivileged
classes of our people as well as those concerning the preservation
Accordingly, We are left with no alternative but to uphold the and protection of our natural resources and the national patrimony,
jurisdiction of the Court over the present case. It goes without saying as an alternative to violent and chaotic ways of achieving such lofty
that We do this not because the Court is superior to the Convention ideals. In brief, leaving aside the excesses of enthusiasm which at
or that the Convention is subject to the control of the Court, but times have justifiably or unjustifiably marred the demonstrations in
simply because both the Convention and the Court are subject to the streets, plazas and campuses, the youth of the Philippines, in
the Constitution and the rule of law, and "upon principle, reason and general, like the rest of the people, do not want confusion and
authority," per Justice Laurel, supra, it is within the power as it is the disorder, anarchy and violence; what they really want are law and
solemn duty of the Court, under the existing Constitution to resolve order, peace and orderliness, even in the pursuit of what they
the issues in which petitioner, respondents and intervenors have strongly and urgently feel must be done to change the present order
joined in this case. of things in this Republic of ours. It would be tragic and contrary to
the plain compulsion of these perspectives, if the Court were to
II allow itself in deciding this case to be carried astray by
considerations other than the imperatives of the rule of law and of
the applicable provisions of the Constitution. Needless to say, in a
The issue of jurisdiction thus resolved, We come to the crux of the
larger measure than when it binds other departments of the
petition. Is it within the powers of the Constitutional Convention of
government or any other official or entity, the Constitution imposes
1971 to order, on its own fiat, the holding of a plebiscite for the
upon the Court the sacred duty to give meaning and vigor to the
ratification of the proposed amendment reducing to eighteen years
Constitution, by interpreting and construing its provisions in
the age for the exercise of suffrage under Section 1 of Article V of
appropriate cases with the proper parties, and by striking down any
the Constitution proposed in the Convention's Organic Resolution
act violative thereof. Here, as in all other cases, We are resolved to
No. 1 in the manner and form provided for in said resolution and the
discharge that duty.
subsequent implementing acts and resolution of the Convention?

6
During these twice when most anyone feels very strongly the urgent and conditions, more or less stringent, made so by the people
need for constitutional reforms, to the point of being convinced that themselves, in regard to the process of their amendment. And when
meaningful change is the only alternative to a violent revolution, this such limitations or conditions are so incorporated in the original
Court would be the last to put any obstruction or impediment to the constitution, it does not lie in the delegates of any subsequent
work of the Constitutional Convention. If there are respectable convention to claim that they may ignore and disregard such
sectors opining that it has not been called to supplant the existing conditions because they are as powerful and omnipotent as their
Constitution in its entirety, since its enabling provision, Article XV, original counterparts.
from which the Convention itself draws life expressly speaks only of
amendments which shall form part of it, which opinion is not Nothing of what is here said is to be understood as curtailing in any
without persuasive force both in principle and in logic, the seemingly degree the number and nature and the scope and extent of the
prevailing view is that only the collective judgment of its members as amendments the Convention may deem proper to propose. Nor
to what is warranted by the present condition of things, as they see does the Court propose to pass on the issue extensively and
it, can limit the extent of the constitutional innovations the brilliantly discussed by the parties as to whether or not the power or
Convention may propose, hence the complete substitution of the duty to call a plebiscite for the ratification of the amendments to be
existing constitution is not beyond the ambit of the Convention's proposed by the Convention is exclusively legislative and as such
authority. Desirable as it may be to resolve, this grave divergence of may be exercised only by the Congress or whether the said power
views, the Court does not consider this case to be properly the one can be exercised concurrently by the Convention with the Congress.
in which it should discharge its constitutional duty in such premises. In the view the Court takes of present case, it does not perceive
The issues raised by petitioner, even those among them in which absolute necessity to resolve that question, grave and important as
respondents and intervenors have joined in an apparent wish to it may be. Truth to tell, the lack of unanimity or even of a consensus
have them squarely passed upon by the Court do not necessarily among the members of the Court in respect to this issue creates the
impose upon Us the imperative obligation to express Our views need for more study and deliberation, and as time is of the essence
thereon. The Court considers it to be of the utmost importance that in this case, for obvious reasons, November 8, 1971, the date set by
the Convention should be untrammelled and unrestrained in the the Convention for the plebiscite it is calling, being nigh, We will
performance of its constitutionally as signed mission in the manner refrain from making any pronouncement or expressing Our views on
and form it may conceive best, and so the Court may step in to clear this question until a more appropriate case comes to Us. After all,
up doubts as to the boundaries set down by the Constitution only the basis of this decision is as important and decisive as any can be.
when and to the specific extent only that it would be necessary to
do so to avoid a constitutional crisis or a clearly demonstrable
The ultimate question, therefore boils down to this: Is there any
violation of the existing Charter. Withal, it is a very familiar principle
limitation or condition in Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution
of constitutional law that constitutional questions are to be resolved
which is violated by the act of the Convention of calling for a
by the Supreme Court only when there is no alternative but to do it,
plebiscite on the sole amendment contained in Organic Resolution
and this rule is founded precisely on the principle of respect that the
No. 1? The Court holds that there is, and it is the condition and
Court must accord to the acts of the other coordinate departments
limitation that all the amendments to be proposed by the same
of the government, and certainly, the Constitutional Convention
Convention must be submitted to the people in a single "election" or
stands almost in a unique footing in that regard.
plebiscite. It being indisputable that the amendment now proposed
to be submitted to a plebiscite is only the first amendment the
In our discussion of the issue of jurisdiction, We have already made Convention propose We hold that the plebiscite being called for the
it clear that the Convention came into being by a call of a joint purpose of submitting the same for ratification of the people on
session of Congress pursuant to Section I of Article XV of the November 8, 1971 is not authorized by Section 1 of Article XV of the
Constitution, already quoted earlier in this opinion. We reiterate Constitution, hence all acts of the Convention and the respondent
also that as to matters not related to its internal operation and the Comelec in that direction are null and void.
performance of its assigned mission to propose amendments to the
Constitution, the Convention and its officers and members are all
We have arrived at this conclusion for the following reasons:
subject to all the provisions of the existing Constitution. Now We
hold that even as to its latter task of proposing amendments to the
Constitution, it is subject to the provisions of Section I of Article XV. 1. The language of the constitutional provision aforequoted is
This must be so, because it is plain to Us that the framers of the sufficiently clear. lt says distinctly that either Congress sitting as a
Constitution took care that the process of amending the same constituent assembly or a convention called for the purpose "may
should not be undertaken with the same ease and facility in propose amendments to this Constitution," thus placing no limit as
changing an ordinary legislation. Constitution making is the most to the number of amendments that Congress or the Convention may
valued power, second to none, of the people in a constitutional propose. The same provision also as definitely provides that
democracy such as the one our founding fathers have chosen for this "such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when
nation, and which we of the succeeding generations generally approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which
cherish. And because the Constitution affects the lives, fortunes, the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification,"
future and every other conceivable aspect of the lives of all the thus leaving no room for doubt as to how many "elections" or
people within the country and those subject to its sovereignty, every plebiscites may be held to ratify any amendment or amendments
degree of care is taken in preparing and drafting it. A constitution proposed by the same constituent assembly of Congress or
worthy of the people for which it is intended must not be prepared convention, and the provision unequivocably says "an election"
in haste without adequate deliberation and study. It is obvious that which means only one.
correspondingly, any amendment of the Constitution is of no less
importance than the whole Constitution itself, and perforce must be (2) Very little reflection is needed for anyone to realize the wisdom
conceived and prepared with as much care and deliberation. From and appropriateness of this provision. As already stated, amending
the very nature of things, the drafters of an original constitution, as the Constitution is as serious and important an undertaking as
already observed earlier, operate without any limitations, restraints constitution making itself. Indeed, any amendment of the
or inhibitions save those that they may impose upon themselves. Constitution is as important as the whole of it if only because the
This is not necessarily true of subsequent conventions called to Constitution has to be an integrated and harmonious instrument, if
amend the original constitution. Generally, the framers of the latter it is to be viable as the framework of the government it establishes,
see to it that their handiwork is not lightly treated and as easily on the one hand, and adequately formidable and reliable as the
mutilated or changed, not only for reasons purely personal but more succinct but comprehensive articulation of the rights, liberties,
importantly, because written constitutions are supposed to be ideology, social ideals, and national and nationalistic policies and
designed so as to last for some time, if not for ages, or for, at least, aspirations of the people, on the other. lt is inconceivable how a
as long as they can be adopted to the needs and exigencies of the constitution worthy of any country or people can have any part
people, hence, they must be insulated against precipitate and hasty which is out of tune with its other parts..
actions motivated by more or less passing political moods or fancies.
Thus, as a rule, the original constitutions carry with them limitations
7
A constitution is the work of the people thru its drafters assembled own duties to the people under the Constitution which is to decide
by them for the purpose. Once the original constitution is approved, in appropriate cases with appropriate parties Whether or not the
the part that the people play in its amendment becomes harder, for mandates of the fundamental law are being complied with. In the
when a whole constitution is submitted to them, more or less they best light God has given Us, we are of the conviction that in
can assumed its harmony as an integrated whole, and they can providing for the questioned plebiscite before it has finished, and
either accept or reject it in its entirety. At the very least, they can separately from, the whole draft of the constitution it has been
examine it before casting their vote and determine for themselves called to formulate, the Convention's Organic Resolution No. 1 and
from a study of the whole document the merits and demerits of all all subsequent acts of the Convention implementing the same
or any of its parts and of the document as a whole. And so also, violate the condition in Section 1, Article XV that there should only
when an amendment is submitted to them that is to form part of the be one "election" or plebiscite for the ratification of all the
existing constitution, in like fashion they can study with deliberation amendments the Convention may propose. We are not denying any
the proposed amendment in relation to the whole existing right of the people to vote on the proposed amendment; We are
constitution and or any of its parts and thereby arrive at an only holding that under Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution, the
intelligent judgment as to its acceptability. same should be submitted to them not separately from but together
with all the other amendments to be proposed by this present
This cannot happen in the case of the amendment in question. Convention.
Prescinding already from the fact that under Section 3 of the
questioned resolution, it is evident that no fixed frame of reference IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition herein is granted.
is provided the voter, as to what finally will be concomitant Organic Resolution No. 1 of the Constitutional Convention of 1971
qualifications that will be required by the final draft of the and the implementing acts and resolutions of the Convention,
constitution to be formulated by the Convention of a voter to be insofar as they provide for the holding of a plebiscite on November
able to enjoy the right of suffrage, there are other considerations 8, 1971, as well as the resolution of the respondent Comelec
which make it impossible to vote intelligently on the proposed complying therewith (RR Resolution No. 695) are hereby declared
amendment, although it may already be observed that under null and void. The respondents Comelec, Disbursing Officer, Chief
Section 3, if a voter would favor the reduction of the voting age to Accountant and Auditor of the Constitutional Convention are hereby
eighteen under conditions he feels are needed under the enjoined from taking any action in compliance with the said organic
circumstances, and he does not see those conditions in the ballot resolution. In view of the peculiar circumstances of this case, the
nor is there any possible indication whether they will ever be or not, Court declares this decision immediately executory. No costs.
because Congress has reserved those for future action, what kind of
judgment can he render on the proposal? Concepcion, C.J., Teehankee, Villamor and Makasiar, JJ., concur.

But the situation actually before Us is even worse. No one knows CASE DIGEST
what changes in the fundamental principles of the constitution the
Convention will be minded to approve. To be more specific, we do
not have any means of foreseeing whether the right to vote would Political Law – Amendment to the Constitution
be of any significant value at all. Who can say whether or not later The Constitutional Convention of 1971 scheduled an advance
on the Convention may decide to provide for varying types of voters plebiscite on the proposal to lower the voting age from 21 to 18,
for each level of the political units it may divide the country into. The
before the rest of the draft of the Constitution (then under revision)
root of the difficulty in other words, lies in that the Convention is
precisely on the verge of introducing substantial changes, if not had been approved. Tolentino et al filed a motion to prohibit such
radical ones, in almost every part and aspect of the existing social plebiscite and the same was granted by the SC.
and political order enshrined in the present Constitution. How can a ISSUE: Whether or not the petition will prosper.
voter in the proposed plebiscite intelligently determine the effect of HELD: The propose amendments shall be approved by a majority of
the reduction of the voting age upon the different institutions which
the Convention may establish and of which presently he is not given the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are
any idea? submitted to the people for ratification. Election here is singular
which meant that the entire constitution must be submitted for
We are certain no one can deny that in order that a plebiscite for the ratification at one plebiscite only. Furthermore, the people were not
ratification of an amendment to the Constitution may be validly given a proper “frame of reference” in arriving at their decision
held, it must provide the voter not only sufficient time but ample
because they had at the time no idea yet of what the rest of the
basis for an intelligent appraisal of the nature of the amendment per
se as well as its relation to the other parts of the Constitution with revised Constitution would ultimately be and therefore would be
which it has to form a harmonious whole. In the context of the unable to assess the proposed amendment in the light of the entire
present state of things, where the Convention has hardly started document. This is the “Doctrine of Submission” which means that all
considering the merits of hundreds, if not thousands, of proposals to the proposed amendments to the Constitution shall be presented to
amend the existing Constitution, to present to the people any single
proposal or a few of them cannot comply with this requirement. We the people for the ratification or rejection at the same time, NOT
are of the opinion that the present Constitution does not piecemeal.
contemplate in Section 1 of Article XV a plebiscite or "election"
wherein the people are in the dark as to frame of reference they can Separate Opinios
base their judgment on. We reject the rationalization that the
present Constitution is a possible frame of reference, for the simple MAKALINTAL, J., reserves his vote —
reason that intervenors themselves are stating that the sole purpose
of the proposed amendment is to enable the eighteen year olds to
take part in the election for the ratification of the Constitution to be I reserve my vote. The resolution in question is voted down by a
drafted by the Convention. In brief, under the proposed plebiscite, sufficient majority of the Court on just one ground, which to be sure
there can be, in the language of Justice Sanchez, speaking for the six achieves the result from the legal and constitutional viewpoint. I
members of the Court in Gonzales, supra, "no proper submission". entertain grave doubts as to the validity of the premises postulated
and conclusions reached in support of the dispositive portion of the
decision. However, considering the urgent nature of this case, the
III lack of time to set down at length my opinion on the particular issue
upon which the decision is made to rest, and the fact that a dissent
The Court has no desire at all to hamper and hamstring the noble on the said issue would necessarily be inconclusive unless the other
work of the Constitutional Convention. Much less does the Court issues raised in the petition are also considered and ruled upon — a
want to pass judgment on the merits of the proposal to allow these task that would be premature and pointless at this time — I limit
eighteen years old to vote. But like the Convention, the Court has its myself to this reservation.
8
REYES, J.B.L., ZALDIVAR, CASTRO and MAKASIAR, JJ., concurring: much stability as is practicable, could have only
meant that any amendments thereto should be
We concur in the main opinion penned by Mr. Justice Barredo in his debated, considered and voted upon an election
usual inimitable, forthright and vigorous style. Like him, we do not wherein the people could devote undivided
express our individual views on the wisdom of the proposed attention to the subject. 4
constitutional amendment, which is not in issue here because it is a
matter that properly and exclusively addresses itself to the collective True it is that the question posed by the proposed amendment, "Do
judgment of the people. you or do you not want the 18-year old to be allowed to vote?,"
would seem to be uncomplicated and innocuous. But it is one of
We must, however, articulate two additional objections of life's verities that things which appear to be simple may turn out not
constitutional dimension which, although they would seem to be to be so simple after all.
superfluous because of the reach of the basic constitutional infirmity
discussed in extenso in the main opinion, nevertheless appear to us A number of doubts or misgivings could conceivably and logically
to be just as fundamental in character and scope. assail the average voter. Why should the voting age be lowered at
all, in the first place? Why should the new voting age be precisely 18
Assuming that the Constitutional Convention has power to propose years, and not 19 or 20? And why not 17? Or even 16 or 15? Is the
piecemeal amendments and submit each separately to the people 18-year old as mature as the 21-year old so that there is no need of
for ratification, we are nonetheless persuaded that (1) that there is an educational qualification to entitle him to vote? In this age of
no proper submissionof title proposed amendment in question permissiveness and dissent, can the 18-year old be relied upon to
within the meaning and intendment of Section 1 of Article XV of the vote with judiciousness when the 21-year old, in the past elections,
Constitution, and (2) that the forthcoming election is not the proper has not performed so well? If the proposed amendment is voted
election envisioned by the same provision of the Constitution. down by the people, will the Constitutional Convention insist on the
said amendment? Why is there an unseemly haste on the part of the
Constitutional Convention in having this particular proposed
Mr. Justice C. V. Sanchez, in his dissent in Gonzales vs. Commission
amendment ratified at this particular time? Do some of the
on
members of the Convention have future political plans which they
Elections 1 and Philippine Constitution Association vs. Commission on
want to begin to subserve by the approval this year of this
Elections, 2 expounded his view, with which we essentially agree, on
amendment? If this amendment is approved, does it thereby mean
the minimum requirements that must be met in order that there can
that the 18-year old should now also shoulder the moral and legal
be a proper submission to the people of a proposed constitutional
responsibilities of the 21-year old? Will he be required to render
amendment. This is what he said:
compulsory military service under the colors? Will the age of
contractual consent be reduced to 18 years? If I vote against this
... amendments must be fairly laid before the amendment, will I not be unfair to my own child who will be 18
people for their blessing or spurning. The people years old, come 1973? .
are not to be mere rubber stamps. They are not
to vote blindly. They must be afforded ample
The above are just samplings from here, there and everywhere —
opportunity to mull over the original provisions,
from a domain (of searching questions) the bounds of which are not
compare them with the proposed amendments,
immediately ascertainable. Surely, many more questions can be
and try to reach a conclusion as the dictates of
added to the already long litany. And the answers cannot be had
their conscience suggest, free from the incubus
except as the questions are debated fully, pondered upon
of extraneous or possibly insidious influences.
purposefully, and accorded undivided attention.
We believe the word "submitted" can only mean
that the government, within its maximum
capabilities, should strain every effort to inform Scanning the contemporary scene, we say that the people are not,
citizen of the provisions to be amended, and the and by election time will not be, sufficiently informed of the
proposed amendments and the meaning, nature meaning, nature and effects of the proposed constitutional
and effects thereof. By this, we are not to be amendment. They have not been afforded ample time to deliberate
understood as saying that, if one citizen or 100 thereon conscientiously. They have been and are effectively
citizens or 1,000 citizens cannot be reached, distracted from a full and dispassionate consideration of the merits
then there is no submission within the meaning and demerits of the proposed amendment by their traditional
of the word as intended by the framers of the pervasive involvement in local elections and politics. They cannot
Constitution. What the Constitution in effect thus weigh in tranquility the need for and the wisdom of the
directs is that the government, in submitting an proposed amendment.
amendment for ratification, should put every
instrumentality or agency within its structural Upon the above disquisition, it is our considered view that the
framework to enlighten the people, educate intendment of the words, "at an election at which the amendments
them with respect to their act of ratification or are submitted to the people for their ratification," embodied in
rejection. For we have earlier stated, one thing Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, has not been met.
is submission and another is ratification. There
must be fair submission, intelligent consent or FERNANDO, J., concurring and dissenting:
rejection." .
There is much to be said for the opinion of the Court penned by
The second constitutional objection was given expression by one of Justice Barredo, characterized by clarity and vigor, its manifestation
the writers of this concurring opinion, in the following words: of fealty to the rule of law couched in eloquent language, that
commands assent. As the Constitution occupies the topmost rank in
I find it impossible to believe that it was ever the hierarchy of legal norms, Congress and Constitutional
intended by its framers that such amendment Convention alike, no less than this Court, must bow to its
should be submitted and ratified by just "a supremacy. Thereby constitutionalism asserts itself. With the view I
majority of the votes cast at an election at which entertain of what is allowable, if not indeed required by the
the amendments are submitted to the people for Constitution, my conformity does not extend as far as the
their ratification", if the concentration of the acceptance of the conclusion reached. The question presented is
people's attention thereon is to be diverted by indeed novel, not being controlled by constitutional prescription,
other extraneous issues, such as the choice of definite and certain. Under the circumstances, with the express
local and national officials. The framers of the recognition in the Constitution of the powers of the Constitutional
Constitution, aware of the fundamental Convention to propose amendments, I cannot discern any objection
character thereof, and of the need of giving it as to the validity of its action there being no legal impediment that
9
would call for its nullification. Such an approach all the more acts of the legislature, as to the extent of its constituent power. This
commends itself to me considering that what was sought to be done view has become increasingly prevalent in the state decisions." 4
is to refer the matter to the people in whom, according to our
Constitution, sovereignty resides. It is in that sense that, with due 2. It is to the Constitution, and to the Constitution alone then, as so
respect, I find myself unable to join my brethren. vigorously stressed in the opinion of the Court, that any limitation on
the power the Constitutional, Convention must find its source. I turn
I. It is understandable then why the decisive issue posed could not to its Article XV. It reads: "The Congress in joint session assembled,
be resolved by reliance on, implicit in the petition and the answer of by a vote of three fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of
intervenors, such concepts as legislative control of the constitutional the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose
convention referred to by petitioner on the one hand or, on the amendments to this Constitution or call a convention for that
other, the theory of conventional sovereignty favored by purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution
intervenors. It is gratifying to note that during the oral argument of when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at
petitioner and counsel for respondents and intervenors, there which the amendments are submitted to the people for their
apparently was a retreat from such extreme position, all parties, as ratification."
should be the case, expressly avowing the primacy of the
Constitution, the applicable provision of which as interpreted by this Clearly, insofar as amendments, including revision, are concerned,
Court, should be controlling on both Congress and the Convention. It there are two steps, proposal and thereafter ratification. Thus as to
cannot be denied though that in at least one American state, that is the former, two constituent bodies are provided for, the Congress of
Pennsylvania, there were decisions announcing the doctrine that the the Philippines in the mode therein provided, and a constitutional
powers to be exercised by a constitutional convention are convention that may be called into being. Once assembled, a
dependent on a legislative grant, in the absence of any authority constitutional convention, like the Congress of the Philippines,
conferred directly by the fundamental law. The result is a possesses in all its plenitude the constituent power. Inasmuch as
convention that is subordinate to the lawmaking body. Its field of Congress may determine what amendments it would have the
competence is circumscribed. It has to look to the latter for the people ratify and thereafter take all the steps necessary so that the
delimitation of its permissible scope of activity. It is thus made approval or disapproval of the electorate may be obtained, the
subordinate to the legislature. Nowhere has such a view been more convention likewise, to my mind, should be deemed possessed of all
vigorously expressed than in the Pennsylvania case of Wood's the necessary authority to assure that whatever amendments it
Appeal. 1 Its holding though finds no support under our seeks to introduce would be submitted to the people at an election
constitutional provision. called for that purpose. It would appear to me that to view the
convention as being denied a prerogative which is not withheld from
It does not thereby follow that while free from legislative control, a Congress as a constituent body would be to place it in an inferior
constitutional convention may lay claim to an attribute sovereign in category. Such a proposition I do not find acceptable. Congress and
character. The Constitution is quite explicit that it is to the people, constitutional convention are agencies for submitting proposals
and to the people alone, in whom sovereignty resides. 2 Such a under the fundamental law. A power granted to one should not be
prerogative is therefore withheld from a convention. It is an agency denied the other. No justification for such a drastic differentiation
entrusted with the responsibility of high import and significance it is either in theory or practice exists.
true; it is denied unlimited legal competence though. That is what
sovereignty connotes. It has to yield to the superior force of the Such a conclusion has for me the added reinforcement that to
Constitution. There can then be no basis for the exaggerated require ordinary legislation before the convention could be enabled
pretension that it is an alter ego of the people. It is to be admitted to have its proposals voted on by the people would be to place a
that there are some American state decisions, the most notable of power in the legislative and executive branches that could, whether
which is Sproule v. Fredericks, 3 a Mississippi case, that dates back to by act or omission, result in the frustration of the amending process.
1892, that yield a different conclusion. The doctrine therein I am the first to admit that such likelihood is remote, but if such a
announced cannot bind us. Our Constitution makes clear that the risk even if minimal could be avoided, it should be, unless the
power of a constitutional convention is not sovereign. It is compelling force of an applicable constitutional provision requires
appropriately termed constituent, limited as it is to the purpose of otherwise. Considering that a constitutional convention is not
drafting a constitution or proposing revision or amendments to one precluded from imposing additional restrictions on the powers of
in existence, subject in either case to popular approval. either the executive or legislative branches, or, for that matter, the
judiciary, it would appear to be the better policy to interpret Article
The view that commends itself for acceptance is that legislature and XV in such a way that would not sanction such restraint on the
constitutional convention, alike recognized by the Constitution, are authority that must be recognized as vested in a constitutional
coordinate, there being no superiority of one over the other. Insofar convention. There is nothing in such a view that to my mind would
as the constituent power of proposing amendments to the collide with a reasonable interpretation of Article XV. It certainly is
Constitution is concerned, a constitutional convention enjoys a wide one way by which freed from pernicious abstractions, it would be
sphere of autonomy consistently with the Constitution which can be easier to accommodate a constitution to the needs of an unfolding
the only source of valid restriction on its competence. It is true it is future. That is to facilitate its being responsive to the challenge that
to the legislative body that the call to a convention must proceed, time inevitably brings in its wake.
but once convened, it cannot in any wise be interfered with, much
less controlled by Congress. A contrary conclusion would impair its From such an approach then, I am irresistibly led to the conclusion
usefulness for the delicate, and paramount task assigned to it. A that the challenged resolution was well within the power of the
convention then is to be looked upon as if it were one of the three convention. That would be to brush aside the web of unreality spun
coordinate departments which under the principle of separation of from a too-restrictive mode of appraising the legitimate scope of its
powers is supreme within its field and has exclusive cognizance of competence. That would be, for me, to give added vigor and life to
matters properly subject to its jurisdiction. A succinct statement of the conferment of authority vested in it, attended by such grave and
the appropriate principle that should govern the relationship awesome responsibility.
between a constitutional convention and a legislative body under
American law is that found in Orfield's work. Thus: "The earliest view
3. It becomes pertinent to inquire then whether the last sentence of
seems to have been that a convention was absolute. The convention
Article XV providing that such amendment shall be valid when
was sovereign and subject to no restraint. On the other hand,
submitted and thereafter approved by the majority of the votes cast
Jameson, whose views have been most frequently cited in decisions,
by the people at an election is a bar to the proposed submission. It is
viewed a convention as a body with strictly limited powers, and
the conclusion arrived at by my brethren that there is to be only one
subject to the restrictions imposed on it by the legislative call. A
election and that therefore the petition must be sustained as only
third and intermediate view is that urged by Dodd — that a
when the convention has finished its work should all amendments
convention, though not sovereign, is a body independent of the
proposed be submitted for ratification. That is not for me, and I say
legislature; it is bound by the existing constitution, but not by the
this with respect, the appropriate interpretation. It is true that the
10
Constitution uses the word "election" in the singular, but that is not task that would be premature and pointless at this time — I limit
decisive. No undue reliance should be accorded rules of grammar; myself to this reservation.
they do not exert a compelling force in constitutional interpretation.
Meaning is to be sought not from specific language in the singular REYES, J.B.L., ZALDIVAR, CASTRO and MAKASIAR, JJ., concurring:
but from the mosaic of significance derived from the total context. It
could be, if it were not thus, self-defeating. Such a mode of
We concur in the main opinion penned by Mr. Justice Barredo in his
construction does not commend itself. The words used in the
usual inimitable, forthright and vigorous style. Like him, we do not
Constitution are not inert; they derive vitality from the obvious
express our individual views on the wisdom of the proposed
purposes at which they are aimed. Petitioner's stress on linguistic
constitutional amendment, which is not in issue here because it is a
refinement, while not implausible does not, for me, carry the day.
matter that properly and exclusively addresses itself to the collective
judgment of the people.
It was likewise argued by petitioner that the proposed amendment
is provisional and therefore is not such as was contemplated in this
We must, however, articulate two additional objections of
article. I do not find such contention convincing. The fact that the
constitutional dimension which, although they would seem to be
Constitutional Convention did seek to consult the wishes of the
superfluous because of the reach of the basic constitutional infirmity
people by the proposed submission of a tentative amendatory
discussed in extenso in the main opinion, nevertheless appear to us
provision is an argument for its validity. It might be said of course
to be just as fundamental in character and scope.
that until impressed with finality, an amendment is not to be passed
upon by the electorate. There is plausibility in such a view. A literal
reading of the Constitution would support it. The spirit that informs Assuming that the Constitutional Convention has power to propose
it though would not, for me, be satisfied. From its silence I deduce piecemeal amendments and submit each separately to the people
the inference that there is no repugnancy to the fundamental law for ratification, we are nonetheless persuaded that (1) that there is
when the Constitutional Convention ascertains the popular will. In no proper submissionof title proposed amendment in question
that sense, the Constitution, to follow the phraseology of Thomas within the meaning and intendment of Section 1 of Article XV of the
Reed Powel, is not silently silent but silently vocal. What I deem the Constitution, and (2) that the forthcoming election is not the proper
more important consideration is that while a public official, as an election envisioned by the same provision of the Constitution.
agent, has to locate his source of authority in either Constitution or
statute, the people, as the principal, can only be limited in the Mr. Justice C. V. Sanchez, in his dissent in Gonzales vs. Commission
exercise of their sovereign powers by the express terms of the on
Constitution. A concept to the contrary would to my way of thinking Elections 1 and Philippine Constitution Association vs. Commission on
be inconsistent with the fundamental principle that it is in the Elections, 2 expounded his view, with which we essentially agree, on
people, and the people alone, that sovereignty resides. the minimum requirements that must be met in order that there can
be a proper submission to the people of a proposed constitutional
4. The constitutional Convention having acted within the scope of its amendment. This is what he said:
authority, an action to restrain or prohibit respondent Commission
on Elections from conducting the plebiscite does not lie. It should ... amendments must be fairly laid before the
not be lost sight of that the Commission on Elections in thus being people for their blessing or spurning. The people
charged with such a duty does not act in its capacity as the are not to be mere rubber stamps. They are not
constitutional agency to take charge of all laws relative to the to vote blindly. They must be afforded ample
conduct of election. That is a purely executive function vested in it opportunity to mull over the original provisions,
under Article X of the Constitution. 5 It is not precluded from compare them with the proposed amendments,
assisting the Constitutional Convention if pursuant to its and try to reach a conclusion as the dictates of
competence to amend the fundamental law it seeks, as in this case, their conscience suggest, free from the incubus
to submit a proposal, even if admittedly tentative, to the electorate of extraneous or possibly insidious influences.
to ascertain its verdict. At any rate, it may be implied that under the We believe the word "submitted" can only mean
1971 Constitutional Convention Act, it is not to turn a deaf ear to a that the government, within its maximum
summons from the Convention to aid it in the legitimate discharge capabilities, should strain every effort to inform
of its functions. 6 citizen of the provisions to be amended, and the
proposed amendments and the meaning, nature
The aforesaid considerations, such as they are, but which for me and effects thereof. By this, we are not to be
have a force that I mind myself unable to overcome, leave me no understood as saying that, if one citizen or 100
alternative but to dissent from my brethren, with due citizens or 1,000 citizens cannot be reached,
acknowledgement of course that from their basic premises, the then there is no submission within the meaning
conclusion arrived at by them cannot be characterized as in any wise of the word as intended by the framers of the
bereft of a persuasive quality of a high order. Constitution. What the Constitution in effect
directs is that the government, in submitting an
amendment for ratification, should put every
instrumentality or agency within its structural
framework to enlighten the people, educate
Case Digest them with respect to their act of ratification or
rejection. For we have earlier stated, one thing
Separate Opinions is submission and another is ratification. There
must be fair submission, intelligent consent or
MAKALINTAL, J., reserves his vote — rejection." .

I reserve my vote. The resolution in question is voted down by a The second constitutional objection was given expression by one of
sufficient majority of the Court on just one ground, which to be sure the writers of this concurring opinion, in the following words:
achieves the result from the legal and constitutional viewpoint. I
entertain grave doubts as to the validity of the premises postulated I find it impossible to believe that it was ever
and conclusions reached in support of the dispositive portion of the intended by its framers that such amendment
decision. However, considering the urgent nature of this case, the should be submitted and ratified by just "a
lack of time to set down at length my opinion on the particular issue majority of the votes cast at an election at which
upon which the decision is made to rest, and the fact that a dissent the amendments are submitted to the people for
on the said issue would necessarily be inconclusive unless the other their ratification", if the concentration of the
issues raised in the petition are also considered and ruled upon — a people's attention thereon is to be diverted by

11
other extraneous issues, such as the choice of definite and certain. Under the circumstances, with the express
local and national officials. The framers of the recognition in the Constitution of the powers of the Constitutional
Constitution, aware of the fundamental Convention to propose amendments, I cannot discern any objection
character thereof, and of the need of giving it as to the validity of its action there being no legal impediment that
much stability as is practicable, could have only would call for its nullification. Such an approach all the more
meant that any amendments thereto should be commends itself to me considering that what was sought to be done
debated, considered and voted upon an election is to refer the matter to the people in whom, according to our
wherein the people could devote undivided Constitution, sovereignty resides. It is in that sense that, with due
attention to the subject. 4 respect, I find myself unable to join my brethren.

True it is that the question posed by the proposed amendment, "Do I. It is understandable then why the decisive issue posed could not
you or do you not want the 18-year old to be allowed to vote?," be resolved by reliance on, implicit in the petition and the answer of
would seem to be uncomplicated and innocuous. But it is one of intervenors, such concepts as legislative control of the constitutional
life's verities that things which appear to be simple may turn out not convention referred to by petitioner on the one hand or, on the
to be so simple after all. other, the theory of conventional sovereignty favored by
intervenors. It is gratifying to note that during the oral argument of
A number of doubts or misgivings could conceivably and logically petitioner and counsel for respondents and intervenors, there
assail the average voter. Why should the voting age be lowered at apparently was a retreat from such extreme position, all parties, as
all, in the first place? Why should the new voting age be precisely 18 should be the case, expressly avowing the primacy of the
years, and not 19 or 20? And why not 17? Or even 16 or 15? Is the Constitution, the applicable provision of which as interpreted by this
18-year old as mature as the 21-year old so that there is no need of Court, should be controlling on both Congress and the Convention. It
an educational qualification to entitle him to vote? In this age of cannot be denied though that in at least one American state, that is
permissiveness and dissent, can the 18-year old be relied upon to Pennsylvania, there were decisions announcing the doctrine that the
vote with judiciousness when the 21-year old, in the past elections, powers to be exercised by a constitutional convention are
has not performed so well? If the proposed amendment is voted dependent on a legislative grant, in the absence of any authority
down by the people, will the Constitutional Convention insist on the conferred directly by the fundamental law. The result is a
said amendment? Why is there an unseemly haste on the part of the convention that is subordinate to the lawmaking body. Its field of
Constitutional Convention in having this particular proposed competence is circumscribed. It has to look to the latter for the
amendment ratified at this particular time? Do some of the delimitation of its permissible scope of activity. It is thus made
members of the Convention have future political plans which they subordinate to the legislature. Nowhere has such a view been more
want to begin to subserve by the approval this year of this vigorously expressed than in the Pennsylvania case of Wood's
amendment? If this amendment is approved, does it thereby mean Appeal. 1 Its holding though finds no support under our
that the 18-year old should now also shoulder the moral and legal constitutional provision.
responsibilities of the 21-year old? Will he be required to render
compulsory military service under the colors? Will the age of It does not thereby follow that while free from legislative control, a
contractual consent be reduced to 18 years? If I vote against this constitutional convention may lay claim to an attribute sovereign in
amendment, will I not be unfair to my own child who will be 18 character. The Constitution is quite explicit that it is to the people,
years old, come 1973? . and to the people alone, in whom sovereignty resides. 2 Such a
prerogative is therefore withheld from a convention. It is an agency
The above are just samplings from here, there and everywhere — entrusted with the responsibility of high import and significance it is
from a domain (of searching questions) the bounds of which are not true; it is denied unlimited legal competence though. That is what
immediately ascertainable. Surely, many more questions can be sovereignty connotes. It has to yield to the superior force of the
added to the already long litany. And the answers cannot be had Constitution. There can then be no basis for the exaggerated
except as the questions are debated fully, pondered upon pretension that it is an alter ego of the people. It is to be admitted
purposefully, and accorded undivided attention. that there are some American state decisions, the most notable of
which is Sproule v. Fredericks, 3 a Mississippi case, that dates back to
1892, that yield a different conclusion. The doctrine therein
Scanning the contemporary scene, we say that the people are not,
announced cannot bind us. Our Constitution makes clear that the
and by election time will not be, sufficiently informed of the
power of a constitutional convention is not sovereign. It is
meaning, nature and effects of the proposed constitutional
appropriately termed constituent, limited as it is to the purpose of
amendment. They have not been afforded ample time to deliberate
drafting a constitution or proposing revision or amendments to one
thereon conscientiously. They have been and are effectively
in existence, subject in either case to popular approval.
distracted from a full and dispassionate consideration of the merits
and demerits of the proposed amendment by their traditional
pervasive involvement in local elections and politics. They cannot The view that commends itself for acceptance is that legislature and
thus weigh in tranquility the need for and the wisdom of the constitutional convention, alike recognized by the Constitution, are
proposed amendment. coordinate, there being no superiority of one over the other. Insofar
as the constituent power of proposing amendments to the
Constitution is concerned, a constitutional convention enjoys a wide
Upon the above disquisition, it is our considered view that the
sphere of autonomy consistently with the Constitution which can be
intendment of the words, "at an election at which the amendments
the only source of valid restriction on its competence. It is true it is
are submitted to the people for their ratification," embodied in
to the legislative body that the call to a convention must proceed,
Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, has not been met.
but once convened, it cannot in any wise be interfered with, much
less controlled by Congress. A contrary conclusion would impair its
FERNANDO, J., concurring and dissenting: usefulness for the delicate, and paramount task assigned to it. A
convention then is to be looked upon as if it were one of the three
There is much to be said for the opinion of the Court penned by coordinate departments which under the principle of separation of
Justice Barredo, characterized by clarity and vigor, its manifestation powers is supreme within its field and has exclusive cognizance of
of fealty to the rule of law couched in eloquent language, that matters properly subject to its jurisdiction. A succinct statement of
commands assent. As the Constitution occupies the topmost rank in the appropriate principle that should govern the relationship
the hierarchy of legal norms, Congress and Constitutional between a constitutional convention and a legislative body under
Convention alike, no less than this Court, must bow to its American law is that found in Orfield's work. Thus: "The earliest view
supremacy. Thereby constitutionalism asserts itself. With the view I seems to have been that a convention was absolute. The convention
entertain of what is allowable, if not indeed required by the was sovereign and subject to no restraint. On the other hand,
Constitution, my conformity does not extend as far as the Jameson, whose views have been most frequently cited in decisions,
acceptance of the conclusion reached. The question presented is viewed a convention as a body with strictly limited powers, and
indeed novel, not being controlled by constitutional prescription, subject to the restrictions imposed on it by the legislative call. A
12
third and intermediate view is that urged by Dodd — that a when the convention has finished its work should all amendments
convention, though not sovereign, is a body independent of the proposed be submitted for ratification. That is not for me, and I say
legislature; it is bound by the existing constitution, but not by the this with respect, the appropriate interpretation. It is true that the
acts of the legislature, as to the extent of its constituent power. This Constitution uses the word "election" in the singular, but that is not
view has become increasingly prevalent in the state decisions." 4 decisive. No undue reliance should be accorded rules of grammar;
they do not exert a compelling force in constitutional interpretation.
2. It is to the Constitution, and to the Constitution alone then, as so Meaning is to be sought not from specific language in the singular
vigorously stressed in the opinion of the Court, that any limitation on but from the mosaic of significance derived from the total context. It
the power the Constitutional, Convention must find its source. I turn could be, if it were not thus, self-defeating. Such a mode of
to its Article XV. It reads: "The Congress in joint session assembled, construction does not commend itself. The words used in the
by a vote of three fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of Constitution are not inert; they derive vitality from the obvious
the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose purposes at which they are aimed. Petitioner's stress on linguistic
amendments to this Constitution or call a convention for that refinement, while not implausible does not, for me, carry the day.
purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution
when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at It was likewise argued by petitioner that the proposed amendment
which the amendments are submitted to the people for their is provisional and therefore is not such as was contemplated in this
ratification." article. I do not find such contention convincing. The fact that the
Constitutional Convention did seek to consult the wishes of the
Clearly, insofar as amendments, including revision, are concerned, people by the proposed submission of a tentative amendatory
there are two steps, proposal and thereafter ratification. Thus as to provision is an argument for its validity. It might be said of course
the former, two constituent bodies are provided for, the Congress of that until impressed with finality, an amendment is not to be passed
the Philippines in the mode therein provided, and a constitutional upon by the electorate. There is plausibility in such a view. A literal
convention that may be called into being. Once assembled, a reading of the Constitution would support it. The spirit that informs
constitutional convention, like the Congress of the Philippines, it though would not, for me, be satisfied. From its silence I deduce
possesses in all its plenitude the constituent power. Inasmuch as the inference that there is no repugnancy to the fundamental law
Congress may determine what amendments it would have the when the Constitutional Convention ascertains the popular will. In
people ratify and thereafter take all the steps necessary so that the that sense, the Constitution, to follow the phraseology of Thomas
approval or disapproval of the electorate may be obtained, the Reed Powel, is not silently silent but silently vocal. What I deem the
convention likewise, to my mind, should be deemed possessed of all more important consideration is that while a public official, as an
the necessary authority to assure that whatever amendments it agent, has to locate his source of authority in either Constitution or
seeks to introduce would be submitted to the people at an election statute, the people, as the principal, can only be limited in the
called for that purpose. It would appear to me that to view the exercise of their sovereign powers by the express terms of the
convention as being denied a prerogative which is not withheld from Constitution. A concept to the contrary would to my way of thinking
Congress as a constituent body would be to place it in an inferior be inconsistent with the fundamental principle that it is in the
category. Such a proposition I do not find acceptable. Congress and people, and the people alone, that sovereignty resides.
constitutional convention are agencies for submitting proposals
under the fundamental law. A power granted to one should not be 4. The constitutional Convention having acted within the scope of its
denied the other. No justification for such a drastic differentiation authority, an action to restrain or prohibit respondent Commission
either in theory or practice exists. on Elections from conducting the plebiscite does not lie. It should
not be lost sight of that the Commission on Elections in thus being
Such a conclusion has for me the added reinforcement that to charged with such a duty does not act in its capacity as the
require ordinary legislation before the convention could be enabled constitutional agency to take charge of all laws relative to the
to have its proposals voted on by the people would be to place a conduct of election. That is a purely executive function vested in it
power in the legislative and executive branches that could, whether under Article X of the Constitution. 5 It is not precluded from
by act or omission, result in the frustration of the amending process. assisting the Constitutional Convention if pursuant to its
I am the first to admit that such likelihood is remote, but if such a competence to amend the fundamental law it seeks, as in this case,
risk even if minimal could be avoided, it should be, unless the to submit a proposal, even if admittedly tentative, to the electorate
compelling force of an applicable constitutional provision requires to ascertain its verdict. At any rate, it may be implied that under the
otherwise. Considering that a constitutional convention is not 1971 Constitutional Convention Act, it is not to turn a deaf ear to a
precluded from imposing additional restrictions on the powers of summons from the Convention to aid it in the legitimate discharge
either the executive or legislative branches, or, for that matter, the of its functions. 6
judiciary, it would appear to be the better policy to interpret Article
XV in such a way that would not sanction such restraint on the The aforesaid considerations, such as they are, but which for me
authority that must be recognized as vested in a constitutional have a force that I mind myself unable to overcome, leave me no
convention. There is nothing in such a view that to my mind would alternative but to dissent from my brethren, with due
collide with a reasonable interpretation of Article XV. It certainly is acknowledgement of course that from their basic premises, the
one way by which freed from pernicious abstractions, it would be conclusion arrived at by them cannot be characterized as in any wise
easier to accommodate a constitution to the needs of an unfolding bereft of a persuasive quality of a high order.
future. That is to facilitate its being responsive to the challenge that
time inevitably brings in its wake.

From such an approach then, I am irresistibly led to the conclusion


that the challenged resolution was well within the power of the
convention. That would be to brush aside the web of unreality spun
from a too-restrictive mode of appraising the legitimate scope of its
competence. That would be, for me, to give added vigor and life to
the conferment of authority vested in it, attended by such grave and
awesome responsibility.

3. It becomes pertinent to inquire then whether the last sentence of


Article XV providing that such amendment shall be valid when
submitted and thereafter approved by the majority of the votes cast
by the people at an election is a bar to the proposed submission. It is
the conclusion arrived at by my brethren that there is to be only one
election and that therefore the petition must be sustained as only
13
Republic of the Philippines Subsequently, Congress passed a bill, which, upon approval by the
SUPREME COURT President, on June 17, 1967, became Republic Act No. 4913,
Manila providing that the amendments to the Constitution proposed in the
aforementioned Resolutions No. 1 and 3 be submitted, for approval
EN BANC by the people, at the general elections which shall be held on
November 14, 1967.
G.R. No. L-28196 November 9, 1967
The petition in L-28196 was filed on October 21, 1967. At the
hearing thereof, on October 28, 1967, the Solicitor General
RAMON A. GONZALES, petitioner,
appeared on behalf of respondents. Moreover, Atty. Juan T. David
vs.
and counsel for the Philippine Constitution Association —
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, DIRECTOR OF PRINTING and AUDITOR
hereinafter referred to as the PHILCONSA — were allowed to argue
GENERAL, respondents.
as amici curiae. Said counsel for the PHILCONSA, Dr. Salvador
Araneta, likewise prayed that the decision in this case be deferred
G.R. No. L-28224 November 9, 1967 until after a substantially identical case brought by said organization
before the Commission on Elections,1 which was expected to decide
PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION (PHILCONSA), petitioner, it any time, and whose decision would, in all probability, be
vs. appealed to this Court — had been submitted thereto for final
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent. determination, for a joint decision on the identical issues raised in
both cases. In fact, on October 31, 1967, the PHILCONSA filed with
No. 28196: this Court the petition in G. R. No. L-28224, for review
Ramon A. Gonzales for and in his own behalf as petitioner. by certiorari of the resolution of the Commission on
Juan T. David as amicus curiae Elections2 dismissing the petition therein. The two (2) cases were
Office of the Solicitor General for respondents. deemed submitted for decision on November 8, 1967, upon the
filing of the answer of respondent, the memorandum of the
petitioner and the reply memorandum of respondent in L-28224.
No. 28224:
Salvador Araneta for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General for respondent. Ramon A. Gonzales, the petitioner in L-28196, is admittedly a Filipino
citizen, a taxpayer, and a voter. He claims to have instituted case L-
28196 as a class unit, for and in behalf of all citizens, taxpayers, and
CONCEPCION, C.J.: voters similarly situated. Although respondents and the Solicitor
General have filed an answer denying the truth of this allegation,
G. R. No. L-28196 is an original action for prohibition, with upon the ground that they have no knowledge or information to
preliminary injunction. form a belief as to the truth thereof, such denial would appear to be
a perfunctory one. In fact, at the hearing of case L-28196, the
Petitioner therein prays for judgment: Solicitor General expressed himself in favor of a judicial
determination of the merits of the issued raised in said case.
1) Restraining: (a) the Commission on Elections from enforcing
Republic Act No. 4913, or from performing any act that will result in The PHILCONSA, petitioner in L-28224, is admittedly a corporation
the holding of the plebiscite for the ratification of the constitutional duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines, and a
amendments proposed in Joint Resolutions Nos. 1 and 3 of the two civic, non-profit and non-partisan organization the objective of
Houses of Congress of the Philippines, approved on March 16, 1967; which is to uphold the rule of law in the Philippines and to defend its
(b) the Director of Printing from printing ballots, pursuant to said Act Constitution against erosions or onslaughts from whatever source.
and Resolutions; and (c) the Auditor General from passing in audit Despite his aforementioned statement in L-28196, in his answer in L-
any disbursement from the appropriation of funds made in said 28224 the Solicitor General maintains that this Court has no
Republic Act No. 4913; and jurisdiction over the subject-matter of L-28224, upon the ground
that the same is "merely political" as held in Mabanag vs. Lopez
Vito.3 Senator Arturo M. Tolentino, who appeared before the
2) declaring said Act unconstitutional and void.
Commission on Elections and filed an opposition to the PHILCONSA
petition therein, was allowed to appear before this Court and
The main facts are not disputed. On March 16, 1967, the Senate and objected to said petition upon the ground: a) that the Court has no
the House of Representatives passed the following resolutions: jurisdiction either to grant the relief sought in the petition, or to pass
upon the legality of the composition of the House of
1. R. B. H. (Resolution of Both Houses) No. 1, proposing that Section Representatives; b) that the petition, if granted, would, in effect,
5, Article VI, of the Constitution of the Philippines, be amended so as render in operational the legislative department; and c) that "the
to increase the membership of the House of Representatives from a failure of Congress to enact a valid reapportionment law . . . does
maximum of 120, as provided in the present Constitution, to a not have the legal effect of rendering illegal the House of
maximum of 180, to be apportioned among the several provinces as Representatives elected thereafter, nor of rendering its acts null and
nearly as may be according to the number of their respective void."
inhabitants, although each province shall have, at least, one (1)
member; JURISDICTION

2. R. B. H. No. 2, calling a convention to propose amendments to As early as Angara vs. Electoral Commission,4 this Court — speaking
said Constitution, the convention to be composed of two (2) elective through one of the leading members of the Constitutional
delegates from each representative district, to be "elected in the Convention and a respected professor of Constitutional Law, Dr. Jose
general elections to be held on the second Tuesday of November, P. Laurel — declared that "the judicial department is the only
1971;" and constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the
proper allocation of powers between the several departments and
3. R. B. H. No. 3, proposing that Section 16, Article VI, of the same among the integral or constituent units thereof." It is true that
Constitution, be amended so as to authorize Senators and members in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito,5 this Court characterizing the issue
of the House of Representatives to become delegates to the submitted thereto as a political one, declined to pass upon the
aforementioned constitutional convention, without forfeiting their question whether or not a given number of votes cast in Congress in
respective seats in Congress. favor of a proposed amendment to the Constitution — which was
being submitted to the people for ratification — satisfied the three-
fourths vote requirement of the fundamental law. The force of this
14
precedent has been weakened, however, by Suanes vs. Chief cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the
Accountant of the Senate,6 Avelino vs. Cuenco,7 Tañada vs. people for their ratification."
Cuenco,8 and Macias vs. Commission on Elections.9 In the first, we
held that the officers and employees of the Senate Electoral Tribunal In the cases at bar, it is conceded that the R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 have
are under its supervision and control, not of that of the Senate been approved by a vote of three-fourths of all the members of the
President, as claimed by the latter; in the second, this Court Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately. This,
proceeded to determine the number of Senators necessary for notwithstanding, it is urged that said resolutions are null and void
a quorum in the Senate; in the third, we nullified the election, by because:
Senators belonging to the party having the largest number of votes
in said chamber, purporting to act on behalf of the party having the
1. The Members of Congress, which approved the proposed
second largest number of votes therein, of two (2) Senators
amendments, as well as the resolution calling a convention to
belonging to the first party, as members, for the second party, of
propose amendments, are, at best, de facto Congressmen;
the, Senate Electoral Tribunal; and in the fourth, we declared
unconstitutional an act of Congress purporting to apportion the
representative districts for the House of Representatives, upon the 2. Congress may adopt either one of two alternatives propose —
ground that the apportionment had not been made as may be amendments or call a convention therefore but may not avail of
possible according to the number of inhabitants of each province. both — that is to say, propose amendment and call a convention —
Thus we rejected the theory, advanced in these four (4) cases, that at the same time;
the issues therein raised were political questions the determination
of which is beyond judicial review. 3. The election, in which proposals for amendment to the
Constitution shall be submitted for ratification, must be
Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose a special election, not a general election, in which officers of the
amendments thereto is not included in the general grant of national and local governments — such as the elections scheduled to
legislative powers to Congress.10 It is part of the inherent powers of be held on November 14, 1967 — will be chosen; and
the people — as the repository of sovereignty in a republican state,
such as ours11 — to make, and, hence, to amend their own 4. The spirit of the Constitution demands that the election, in which
Fundamental Law. Congress may propose amendments to the proposals for amendment shall be submitted to the people for
Constitution merely because the same explicitly grants such ratification, must be held under such conditions — which, allegedly,
power.12Hence, when exercising the same, it is said that Senators do not exist — as to give the people a reasonable opportunity to
and Members of the House of Representatives act, not as members have a fair grasp of the nature and implications of said amendments.
of Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly.
When acting as such, the members of Congress derive their Legality of Congress and Legal Status of the Congressmen
authority from the Constitution, unlike the people, when performing
the same function,13 for their authority does not emanate from the
Constitution — they are the very source of all powers of The first objection is based upon Section 5, Article VI, of the
government, including the Constitution itself . Constitution, which provides:

Since, when proposing, as a constituent assembly, amendments to The House of Representatives shall be composed of not
the Constitution, the members of Congress derive their authority more than one hundred and twenty Members who shall
from the Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily, that they do not be apportioned among the several provinces as nearly as
have the final say on whether or not their acts are within or beyond may be according to the number of their respective
constitutional limits. Otherwise, they could brush aside and set the inhabitants, but each province shall have at least one
same at naught, contrary to the basic tenet that ours is a Member. The Congress shall by law make an
government of laws, not of men, and to the rigid nature of our apportionment within three years after the return of every
Constitution. Such rigidity is stressed by the fact that, the enumeration, and not otherwise. Until such
Constitution expressly confers upon the Supreme Court,14 the power apportionment shall have been made, the House of
to declare a treaty unconstitutional,15 despite the eminently political Representatives shall have the same number of Members
character of treaty-making power. as that fixed by law for the National Assembly, who shall
be elected by the qualified electors from the present
Assembly districts. Each representative district shall
In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress — acting comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous and compact
as a constituent assembly — violates the Constitution essentially territory.
justiciable, not political, and, hence, subject to judicial review, and,
to the extent that this view may be inconsistent with the stand taken
in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito,16 the latter should be deemed modified It is urged that the last enumeration or census took place in 1960;
accordingly. The Members of the Court are unanimous on this point. that, no apportionment having been made within three (3) years
thereafter, the Congress of the Philippines and/or the election of its
Members became illegal; that Congress and its Members, likewise,
THE MERITS became a de facto Congress and/or de facto congressmen,
respectively; and that, consequently, the disputed Resolutions,
Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, as amended, reads: proposing amendments to the Constitution, as well as Republic Act
No. 4913, are null and void.
The Congress in joint session assembled by a vote of three-
fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of the House It is not true, however, that Congress has not made an
of Representatives voting separately, may propose apportionment within three years after the enumeration or census
amendments to this Constitution or call a convention for made in 1960. It did actually pass a bill, which became Republic Act
that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of No. 3040,17 purporting to make said apportionment. This Act was,
this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes however, declared unconstitutional, upon the ground that the
cast at an election at which the amendments are apportionment therein undertaken had not been made according to
submitted to the people for their ratification. the number of inhabitants of the different provinces of the
Philippines.18
Pursuant to this provision, amendments to the Constitution may be
proposed, either by Congress, or by a convention called by Congress Moreover, we are unable to agree with the theory that, in view of
for that purpose. In either case, the vote of "three-fourths of all the the failure of Congress to make a valid apportionment within the
members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting period stated in the Constitution, Congress became an
separately" is necessary. And, "such amendments shall be valid as "unconstitutional Congress" and that, in consequence thereof, the
part of" the "Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes
15
Members of its House of Representatives are de facto officers. The the lapse of said period for reapportionment. In fact, neither our
major premise of this process of reasoning is that the constitutional political law, nor our law on public officers, in particular, supports
provision on "apportionment within three years after the return of the view that failure to discharge a mandatory duty, whatever it may
every enumeration, and not otherwise," is mandatory. The fact that be, would automatically result in the forfeiture of an office, in the
Congress is under legal obligation to make said apportionment does absence of a statute to this effect.
not justify, however, the conclusion that failure to comply with such
obligation rendered Congress illegal or unconstitutional, or that its Similarly, it would seem obvious that the provision of our Election
Members have become de facto officers. Law relative to the election of Members of Congress in 1965 were
not repealed in consequence of the failure of said body to make an
It is conceded that, since the adoption of the Constitution in 1935, apportionment within three (3) years after the census of 1960.
Congress has not made a valid apportionment as required in said Inasmuch as the general elections in 1965 were presumably held in
fundamental law. The effect of this omission has been envisioned in conformity with said Election Law, and the legal provisions creating
the Constitution, pursuant to which: Congress — with a House of Representatives composed of members
elected by qualified voters of representative districts as they existed
. . . Until such apportionment shall have been made, the at the time of said elections — remained in force, we can not see
House of Representatives shall have the same number of how said Members of the House of Representatives can be regarded
Members as that fixed by law for the National Assembly, as de facto officers owing to the failure of their predecessors in
who shall be elected by the qualified electors from the office to make a reapportionment within the period
present Assembly districts. . . . . aforementioned.

The provision does not support the view that, upon the expiration of Upon the other hand, the Constitution authorizes the impeachment
the period to make the apportionment, a Congress which fails to of the President, the Vice-President, the Justices of the Supreme
make it is dissolved or becomes illegal. On the contrary, it implies Court and the Auditor General for, inter alia, culpable violation of
necessarily that Congress shall continue to function with the the Constitution,20 the enforcement of which is, not only their
representative districts existing at the time of the expiration of said mandatory duty, but also, their main function. This provision
period. indicates that, despite the violation of such mandatory duty, the title
to their respective offices remains unimpaired, until dismissal or
ouster pursuant to a judgment of conviction rendered in accordance
It is argued that the above-quoted provision refers only to the
with Article IX of the Constitution. In short, the loss of office or the
elections held in 1935. This theory assumes that an apportionment
extinction of title thereto is not automatic.
had to be made necessarily before the first elections to be held after
the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, or in
1938.19 The assumption, is, however, unwarranted, for there had Even if we assumed, however, that the present Members of
been no enumeration in 1935, and nobody could foretell when it Congress are merely de facto officers, it would not follow that the
would be made. Those who drafted and adopted the Constitution in contested resolutions and Republic Act No. 4913 are null and void. In
1935 could be certain, therefore, that the three-year period, after fact, the main reasons for the existence of the de facto doctrine is
the earliest possible enumeration, would expire after the elections that public interest demands that acts of persons holding, under
in 1938. color of title, an office created by a valid statute be, likewise,
deemed valid insofar as the public — as distinguished from the
officer in question — is concerned.21 Indeed, otherwise, those
What is more, considering that several provisions of the
dealing with officers and employees of the Government would be
Constitution, particularly those on the legislative department, were
entitled to demand from them satisfactory proof of their title to the
amended in 1940, by establishing a bicameral Congress, those who
positions they hold, before dealing with them, or before recognizing
drafted and adopted said amendment, incorporating therein the
their authority or obeying their commands, even if they should act
provision of the original Constitution regarding the apportionment of
within the limits of the authority vested in their respective offices,
the districts for representatives, must have known that the three-
positions or employments.22 One can imagine this great
year period therefor would expire after the elections scheduled to be
inconvenience, hardships and evils that would result in the absence
held and actually held in 1941.
of the de facto doctrine.

Thus, the events contemporaneous with the framing and ratification


As a consequence, the title of a de facto officer cannot be assailed
of the original Constitution in 1935 and of the amendment thereof in
collaterally.23 It may not be contested except directly, by quo
1940 strongly indicate that the provision concerning said
warranto proceedings. Neither may the validity of his acts be
apportionment and the effect of the failure to make it were
questioned upon the ground that he is merely a de
expected to be applied to conditions obtaining after the elections in
facto officer.24 And the reasons are obvious: (1) it would be an
1935 and 1938, and even after subsequent elections.
indirect inquiry into the title to the office; and (2) the acts of a de
facto officer, if within the competence of his office, are valid, insofar
Then again, since the report of the Director of the Census on the last as the public is concerned.
enumeration was submitted to the President on November 30,
1960, it follows that the three-year period to make the
It is argued that the foregoing rules do not apply to the cases at bar
apportionment did not expire until 1963, or after the Presidential
because the acts therein involved have not been completed and
elections in 1961. There can be no question, therefore, that the
petitioners herein are not third parties. This pretense is untenable. It
Senate and the House of Representatives organized or constituted
is inconsistent with Tayko vs. Capistrano.25 In that case, one of the
on December 30, 1961, were de jure bodies, and that the Members
parties to a suit being heard before Judge Capistrano objected to his
thereof were de jure officers. Pursuant to the theory of petitioners
continuing to hear the case, for the reason that, meanwhile, he had
herein, upon expiration of said period of three years, or late in 1963,
reached the age of retirement. This Court held that the objection
Congress became illegal and its Members, or at least, those of the
could not be entertained, because the Judge was at least, a de
House of Representatives, became illegal holder of their respective
facto Judge, whose title can not be assailed collaterally. It should be
offices, and were de facto officers.
noted that Tayko was not a third party insofar as the Judge was
concerned. Tayko was one of the parties in the aforementioned suit.
Petitioners do not allege that the expiration of said three-year Moreover, Judge Capistrano had not, as yet, finished hearing the
period without a reapportionment, had the effect of abrogating or case, much less rendered decision therein. No rights had vested in
repealing the legal provision creating Congress, or, at least, the favor of the parties, in consequence of the acts of said Judge. Yet,
House of Representatives, and are not aware of any rule or principle Tayko's objection was overruled. Needless to say, insofar as
of law that would warrant such conclusion. Neither do they allege Congress is concerned, its acts, as regards the Resolutions herein
that the term of office of the members of said House automatically contested and Republic Act No. 4913, are complete. Congress has
expired or that they ipso facto forfeited their seats in Congress, upon nothing else to do in connection therewith.
16
The Court is, also, unanimous in holding that the objection under circumstances then obtaining. It does not negate its authority to
consideration is untenable. submit proposed amendments for ratification in general elections.

Available Alternatives to Congress It would be better, from the viewpoint of a thorough discussion of
the proposed amendments, that the same be submitted to the
Atty. Juan T. David, as amicus curiae, maintains that Congress may people's approval independently of the election of public officials.
either propose amendments to the Constitution or call a convention And there is no denying the fact that an adequate appraisal of the
for that purpose, but it can not do both, at the same time. This merits and demerits proposed amendments is likely to be
theory is based upon the fact that the two (2) alternatives are overshadowed by the great attention usually commanded by the
connected in the Constitution by the disjunctive "or." Such basis is, choice of personalities involved in general elections, particularly
however, a weak one, in the absence of other circumstances — and when provincial and municipal officials are to be chosen. But, then,
none has brought to our attention — supporting the conclusion these considerations are addressed to the wisdom of holding a
drawn by the amicus curiae. In fact, the term "or" has, oftentimes, plebiscite simultaneously with the election of public officer. They do
been held to mean "and," or vice-versa, when the spirit or context of not deny the authority of Congress to choose either alternative, as
the law warrants it.26 implied in the term "election" used, without qualification, in the
abovequoted provision of the Constitution. Such authority becomes
even more patent when we consider: (1) that the term "election,"
It is, also, noteworthy that R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 propose
normally refers to the choice or selection of candidates to public
amendments to the constitutional provision on Congress, to be
office by popular vote; and (2) that the word used in Article V of the
submitted to the people for ratification on November 14, 1967,
Constitution, concerning the grant of suffrage to women is, not
whereas R. B. H. No. 2 calls for a convention in 1971, to consider
"election," but "plebiscite."
proposals for amendment to the Constitution, in general. In other
words, the subject-matter of R. B. H. No. 2 is different from that of R
B. H. Nos. 1 and 3. Moreover, the amendments proposed under R. B. Petitioners maintain that the term "election," as used in Section 1 of
H. Nos. 1 and 3, will be submitted for ratification several Art. XV of the Constitution, should be construed as meaning a
years before those that may be proposed by the constitutional special election. Some members of the Court even feel that said
convention called in R. B. H. No. 2. Again, although the three (3) term ("election") refers to a "plebiscite," without any "election,"
resolutions were passed on the same date, they were taken up and general or special, of public officers. They opine that constitutional
put to a vote separately, or one after the other. In other words, they amendments are, in general, if not always, of such important, if not
were not passed at the same time. transcendental and vital nature as to demand that the attention of
the people be focused exclusively on the subject-matter thereof, so
that their votes thereon may reflect no more than their intelligent,
In any event, we do not find, either in the Constitution, or in the
impartial and considered view on the merits of the proposed
history thereof anything that would negate the authority of different
amendments, unimpaired, or, at least, undiluted by extraneous, if
Congresses to approve the contested Resolutions, or of the same
not insidious factors, let alone the partisan political considerations
Congress to pass the same in, different sessions or different days of
that are likely to affect the selection of elective officials.
the same congressional session. And, neither has any plausible
reason been advanced to justify the denial of authority to adopt said
resolutions on the same day. This, certainly, is a situation to be hoped for. It is a goal the
attainment of which should be promoted. The ideal conditions are,
however, one thing. The question whether the
Counsel ask: Since Congress has decided to call a constitutional
Constitution forbids the submission of proposals for amendment to
convention to propose amendments, why not let the whole thing be
the people except under such conditions, is another thing. Much as
submitted to said convention, instead of, likewise, proposing some
the writer and those who concur in this opinion admire the contrary
specific amendments, to be submitted for ratification before said
view, they find themselves unable to subscribe thereto without, in
convention is held? The force of this argument must be conceded.
effect, reading into the Constitution what they believe is not written
but the same impugns the wisdom of the action taken by Congress,
thereon and can not fairly be deduced from the letter thereof, since
not its authority to take it. One seeming purpose thereof to permit
the spirit of the law should not be a matter of sheer speculation.
Members of Congress to run for election as delegates to the
constitutional convention and participate in the proceedings therein,
without forfeiting their seats in Congress. Whether or not this should The majority view — although the votes in favor thereof are
be done is a political question, not subject to review by the courts of insufficient to declare Republic Act No. 4913 unconstitutional — as
justice. ably set forth in the opinion penned by Mr. Justice Sanchez, is,
however, otherwise.
On this question there is no disagreement among the members of
the Court. Would the Submission now of the Contested Amendments to the
People Violate the Spirit of the Constitution?
May Constitutional Amendments Be Submitted for
Ratification in a General Election? It should be noted that the contested Resolutions were approved on
March 16, 1967, so that, by November 14, 1967, our citizenry shall
have had practically eight (8) months to be informed on the
Article XV of the Constitution provides:
amendments in question. Then again, Section 2 of Republic Act No.
4913 provides:
. . . The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of
three-fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of the
(1) that "the amendments shall be published in three consecutive
House of Representatives voting separately, may propose
issues of the Official Gazette, at least twenty days prior to the
amendments to this Constitution or call a contention for
election;"
that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of
this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes
cast at an election at which the amendments are (2) that "a printed copy of the proposed amendments shall be
submitted to the people for their ratification. posted in a conspicuous place in every municipality, city and
provincial office building and in every polling place not later than
October 14, 1967," and that said copy "shall remain posted therein
There is in this provision nothing to indicate that the "election"
until after the election;"
therein referred to is a "special," not a general, election. The
circumstance that three previous amendments to the Constitution
had been submitted to the people for ratification in special elections (3) that "at least five copies of said amendment shall be kept in each
merely shows that Congress deemed it best to do so under the polling place, to be made available for examination by the qualified
electors during election day;"
17
(4) that "when practicable, copies in the principal native languages, principal native languages, as may be determined by the
as may be determined by the Commission on Elections, shall be kept Secretary of the Interior, shall also be kept therein.
in each polling place;"
As regards the Parity Amendment, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 73 is
(5) that "the Commission on Elections shall make available copies of to the effect that:
said amendments in English, Spanish and, whenever practicable, in
the principal native languages, for free distributing:" and The said amendment shall be published in English and
Spanish in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette
(6) that the contested Resolutions "shall be printed in full" on the at least twenty days prior to the election. A printed copy
back of the ballots which shall be used on November 14, 1967. thereof shall be posted in a conspicuous place in every
municipal, city, and provincial government office building
We are not prepared to say that the foregoing measures are and in every polling place not later than February eleven,
palpably inadequate to comply with the constitutional requirement nineteen hundred and forty-seven, and shall remain
that proposals for amendment be "submitted to the people for their posted therein until after the election. At least, ten copies
ratification," and that said measures are manifestly insufficient, from of the said amendment shall be kept in each polling place
a constitutional viewpoint, to inform the people of the amendment to be made available for examination by the qualified
sought to be made. electors during election day. When practicable, copies in
the principal native languages, as may be determined by
the Commission on Elections, shall also be kept in each
These were substantially the same means availed of to inform the
polling place.
people of the subject submitted to them for ratification, from the
original Constitution down to the Parity Amendment. Thus, referring
to the original Constitution, Section 1 of Act No. 4200, provides: The main difference between the present situation and that
obtaining in connection with the former proposals does not arise
from the law enacted therefor. The difference springs from the
Said Constitution, with the Ordinance appended thereto,
circumstance that the major political parties had taken sides on
shall be published in the Official Gazette, in English and in
previous amendments to the Constitution — except, perhaps, the
Spanish, for three consecutive issues at least fifteen days
woman's suffrage — and, consequently, debated thereon at some
prior to said election, and a printed copy of said
length before the plebiscite took place. Upon the other hand, said
Constitution, with the Ordinance appended thereto, shall
political parties have not seemingly made an issue on the
be posted in a conspicuous place in each municipal and
amendments now being contested and have, accordingly, refrained
provincial government office building and in each polling
from discussing the same in the current political campaign. Such
place not later than the twenty-second day of April,
debates or polemics as may have taken place — on a rather limited
nineteen hundred and thirty-five, and shall remain posted
scale — on the latest proposals for amendment, have been due
therein continually until after the termination of the
principally to the initiative of a few civic organizations and some
election. At least ten copies of the Constitution with the
militant members of our citizenry who have voiced their opinion
Ordinance appended thereto, in English and in Spanish,
thereon. A legislation cannot, however, be nullified by reason of the
shall be kept at each polling place available for
failure of certain sectors of the community to discuss it sufficiently.
examination by the qualified electors during election day.
Its constitutionality or unconstitutionality depends upon no other
Whenever practicable, copies in the principal local dialects
factors than those existing at the time of the enactment thereof,
as may be determined by the Secretary of the Interior shall
unaffected by the acts or omissions of law enforcing agencies,
also be kept in each polling place.
particularly those that take place subsequently to the passage or
approval of the law.
The provision concerning woman's suffrage is Section 1 of
Commonwealth Act No. 34, reading:
Referring particularly to the contested proposals for amendment,
the sufficiency or insufficiency, from a constitutional angle, of the
Said Article V of the Constitution shall be published in the submission thereof for ratification to the people on November 14,
Official Gazette, in English and in Spanish, for three 1967, depends — in the view of those who concur in this opinion,
consecutive issues at least fifteen days prior to said and who, insofar as this phase of the case, constitute the minority —
election, and the said Article V shall be posted in a upon whether the provisions of Republic Act No. 4913 are such as to
conspicuous place in each municipal and provincial office fairly apprise the people of the gist, the main idea or the substance
building and in each polling place not later than the of said proposals, which is — under R. B. H. No. 1 — the increase of
twenty-second day of April, nineteen and thirty-seven, and the maximum number of seats in the House of Representatives,
shall remain posted therein continually until after the from 120 to 180, and — under R. B. H. No. 3 — the authority given
termination of the plebiscite. At least ten copies of said to the members of Congress to run for delegates to the
Article V of the Constitution, in English and in Spanish, Constitutional Convention and, if elected thereto, to discharge the
shall be kept at each polling place available for duties of such delegates, without forfeiting their seats in Congress.
examination by the qualified electors during the plebiscite. We — who constitute the minority — believe that Republic Act No.
Whenever practicable, copies in the principal native 4913 satisfies such requirement and that said Act is, accordingly,
languages, as may be determined by the Secretary of the constitutional.
Interior, shall also be kept in each polling place.
A considerable portion of the people may not know how over 160 of
Similarly, Section 2, Commonwealth Act No. 517, referring to the the proposed maximum of representative districts are actually
1940 amendments, is of the following tenor: apportioned by R. B. H. No. 1 among the provinces in the Philippines.
It is not improbable, however, that they are not interested in the
The said amendments shall be published in English and details of the apportionment, or that a careful reading thereof may
Spanish in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette tend in their simple minds, to impair a clear vision thereof. Upon the
at least twenty days prior to the election. A printed copy other hand, those who are more sophisticated, may enlighten
thereof shall be posted in a conspicuous place in every themselves sufficiently by reading the copies of the proposed
municipal, city, and provincial government office building amendments posted in public places, the copies kept in the polling
and in every polling place not later than May eighteen, places and the text of contested resolutions, as printed in full on the
nineteen hundred and forty, and shall remain posted back of the ballots they will use.
therein until after the election. At least ten copies of said
amendments shall be kept in each polling place to be It is, likewise, conceivable that as many people, if not more, may fail
made available for examination by the qualified electors to realize or envisage the effect of R. B. H. No. 3 upon the work of
during election day. When practicable, copies in the the Constitutional Convention or upon the future of our Republic.
18
But, then, nobody can foretell such effect with certainty. From our amendments: Provided, further, That the questionnaire
viewpoint, the provisions of Article XV of the Constitution are appearing on the face of the ballot shall be as follows:
satisfied so long as the electorate knows that R. B. H. No. 3 permits
Congressmen to retain their seats as legislators, even if they should Are you in favor of the proposed amendment to Section
run for and assume the functions of delegates to the Convention. five of Article VI of our Constitution printed at the back of
this ballot?
We are impressed by the factors considered by our distinguished
and esteemed brethren, who opine otherwise, but, we feel that such Are you in favor of the proposed amendment to section
factors affect the wisdom of Republic Act No. 4913 and that of R. B. sixteen of Article VI of our Constitution printed at the back
H. Nos. 1 and 3, not the authority of Congress to approve the same. of this ballot?

The system of checks and balances underlying the judicial power to To vote for the approval of the proposed amendments, the
strike down acts of the Executive or of Congress transcending the voter shall write the word "yes" or its equivalent in Pilipino
confines set forth in the fundamental laws is not in derogation of the or in the local dialect in the blank space after each
principle of separation of powers, pursuant to which each question; to vote for the rejection thereof, he shall write
department is supreme within its own sphere. The determination of the word "No" or its equivalent in Pilipino or in the local
the conditions under which the proposed amendments shall be dialect.
submitted to the people is concededly a matter which falls within
the legislative sphere. We do not believe it has been satisfactorily
I believe that intrinsically, that is, considered in itself and without
shown that Congress has exceeded the limits thereof in enacting
reference to extraneous factors and circumstances, the manner
Republic Act No. 4913. Presumably, it could have done something
prescribed in the aforesaid provisions is sufficient for the purpose of
better to enlighten the people on the subject-matter thereof. But,
having the proposed amendments submitted to the people for their
then, no law is perfect. No product of human endeavor is beyond
ratification, as enjoined in Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution. I
improvement. Otherwise, no legislation would be constitutional and
am at a loss to say what else should have been required by the Act
valid. Six (6) Members of this Court believe, however, said Act and R.
to make it adhere more closely to the constitutional requirement.
B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 violate the spirit of the Constitution.
Certainly it would have been out of place to provide, for instance,
that government officials and employees should go out and explain
Inasmuch as there are less than eight (8) votes in favor of declaring the amendments to the people, or that they should be the subject of
Republic Act 4913 and R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 unconstitutional and any particular means or form of public discussion.
invalid, the petitions in these two (2) cases must be, as they are
hereby, dismiss and the writs therein prayed for denied, without
The objection of some members of the Court to Republic Act No.
special pronouncement as to costs. It is so ordered.
4913 seems to me predicated on the fact that there are so many
other issues at stake in the coming general election that the
Makalintal and Bengzon, J.P., JJ., concur. attention of the electorate, cannot be entirely focused on the
Fernando, J., concurs fully with the above opinion, adding a few proposed amendments, such that there is a failure to properly
words on the question of jurisdiction. submit them for ratification within the intendment of the
Constitution. If that is so, then the defect is not intrinsic in the law
but in its implementation. The same manner of submitting the
Separate Opinions proposed amendments to the people for ratification may, in a
different setting, be sufficient for the purpose. Yet I cannot conceive
MAKALINTAL, J., concurring: that the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of a law may be
made to depend willy-nilly on factors not inherent in its provisions.
For a law to be struck down as unconstitutional it must be so by
I concur in the foregoing opinion of the Chief Justice. I would make
reason of some irreconcilable conflict between it and the
some additional observations in connection with my concurrence.
Constitution. Otherwise a law may be either valid or invalid,
Sections 2 and 4 of Republic Act No. 4913 provide:
according to circumstances not found in its provisions, such as the
zeal with which they are carried out. To such a thesis I cannot agree.
Sec. 2. The amendments shall be published in three The criterion would be too broad and relative, and dependent upon
consecutive issues of the Official Gazette at least twenty individual opinions that at best are subjective. What one may regard
days prior to the election. A printed copy thereof shall be as sufficient compliance with the requirement of submission to the
posted in a conspicuous place in every municipality, city people, within the context of the same law, may not be so to
and provincial office building and in every polling place not another. The question is susceptible of as many views as there are
later than October fourteen, nineteen hundred and sixty- viewers; and I do not think this Court would be justified in saying
seven, and shall remain posted therein until after the that its own view on the matter is the correct one, to the exclusion
election. At least five copies of the said amendments shall of the opinions of others.
be kept in each polling place to be made available for
examination by the qualified electors during election day.
On the other hand, I reject the argument that the ratification must
When practicable, copies in the principal native languages,
necessarily be in a special election or plebiscite called for that
as may be determined by the Commission on Elections,
purpose alone. While such procedure is highly to be preferred, the
shall be kept in each polling place. The Commission on
Constitution speaks simply of "an election at which the amendments
Elections shall make available copies of each amendments
are submitted to the people for their ratification," and I do not
in English, Spanish and, whenever practicable, in the
subscribe to the restrictive interpretation that the petitioners would
principal native languages, for free distribution.
place on this provision, namely, that it means only a special election.

xxx xxx xxx


BENGZON, J.P., J., concurring:

Sec. 4. The ballots which shall be used in the election for


It is the glory of our institutions that they are founded upon law, that
the approval of said amendments shall be printed in
no one can exercise any authority over the rights and interests of
English and Pilipino and shall be in the size and form
others except pursuant to and in the manner authorized by
prescribed by the Commission on Elections: Provided,
law.1 Based upon this principle, petitioners Ramon A. Gonzales and
however, That at the back of said ballot there shall be
Philippine Constitution Association (PHILCONSA) come to this Court
printed in full Resolutions of both Houses of Congress
in separate petitions.
Numbered One and Three, both adopted on March
sixteen, nineteen hundred and sixty-seven, proposing the

19
Petitioner Gonzales, as taxpayer, voter and citizen, and allegedly in Constitution, none should be inferred. Had the framers of requiring
representation thru class suit of all citizens of this country, filed this Constitution thought of requiring a special election for the purpose
suit for prohibition with preliminary injunction to restrain the only of the proposed amendments, they could have said so, by
Commission on Elections, Director of Printing and Auditor General qualifying the phrase with some word such as "special" or "solely" or
from implementing and/or complying with Republic Act 4913, "exclusively". They did not.
assailing said law as unconstitutional.
It is not herein decided that such concurrence of election is wise, or
Petitioner PHILCONSA, as a civic, non-profit and non-partisan that it would not have been better to provide for a separate election
corporation, assails the constitutionality not only of Republic Act exclusively for the ratification of the proposed amendments. The
4913 but also of Resolutions of Both Houses Nos. 1 and 3 of March point however is that such separate and exclusive election, even if it
16, 1967. may be better or wiser, which again, is not for this Court to decide, is
not included in the procedure required by the Constitution to amend
Republic Act 4913, effective June 17, 1967, is an Act submitting to the same. The function of the Judiciary is "not to pass upon
the Filipino people for approval the amendments to the Constitution questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation". 2 It is
of the Philippines proposed by the Congress of the Philippines in limited to determining whether the action taken by the Legislative
Resolutions of Both Houses Numbered 1 and 3, adopted on March Department has violated the Constitution or not. On this score, I am
16, 1967. Said Republic Act fixes the date and manner of the election of the opinion that it has not.
at which the aforesaid proposed amendments shall be voted upon
by the people, and appropriates funds for said election. Resolutions Petitioner Gonzales' second point is that Republic Act 4913 is
of Both Houses Nos. 1 and 3 propose two amendments to the deficient for not having been passed by Congress in joint session by
Constitution: the first, to amend Sec. 5, Art. VI, by increasing the 3/4 vote.
maximum membership of the House of Representatives from 120 to
180, apportioning 160 of said 180 seats and eliminating the Sec. 1, Art. XV of the Constitution provides:
provision that Congress shall by law make an apportionment within
three years after the return of every enumeration; the second, to
Sec. 1. The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote
amend Sec. 16, Art. VI, by allowing Senators and Representatives to
of three-fourths of all the members of the Senate and of
be delegates to a constitutional convention without forfeiting their
the House of Representatives voting separately, may
seats.
propose amendments to this Constitution or call a
convention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be
Since both petitions relate to the proposed amendments, they are valid as part of this Constitution when approved by a
considered together herein. majority of the votes cast at an election to which the
amendments are submitted to the people for their
Specifically and briefly, petitioner Gonzales' objections are as ratification.
follows: (1) Republic Act 4913 violates Sec. 1, Art. XV of the
Constitution, in submitting the proposed amendments to the Does Republic Act 4913 propose amendments to the Constitution? If
Constitution, to the people for approval, at the general election of by the term "propose amendment" is meant to determine WHAT
1967 instead of at a special election solely for that purpose; (2) said amendment shall be, then Republic Act 4913 does not;
Republic Act 4913 violates Sec. 1, Art. XV of the Constitution, since it Resolutions of Both Houses 1 and 3 already did that. If, on the other
was not passed with the 3/4 vote in joint session required when hand, it means, or also means, to provide for how, when, and by
Congress proposes amendments to the Constitution, said Republic what means the amendments shall be submitted to the people for
Act being a step in or part of the process of proposing amendments approval, then it does.
to the Constitution; and (3) Republic Act 4913 violates the due
process clause of the Constitution (Sec. 1, Subsec. 1, Art. III), in not
A careful reading of Sec. 1, Art. XV shows that the first sense. is the
requiring that the substance of the proposed amendments be stated
one intended. Said Section has two sentences: in the first, it requires
on the face of the ballot or otherwise rendering clear the import of
the 3/4 voting in joint session, for Congress to "propose
the proposed amendments, such as by stating the provisions before
amendments". And then in the second sentence, it provides that
and after said amendments, instead of printing at the back of the
"such amendments . . . shall be submitted to the people for their
ballot only the proposed amendments.
ratification". This clearly indicates that by the term "propose
amendments" in the first sentence is meant to frame the substance
Since observance of Constitutional provisions on the procedure for or the content or the WHAT-element of the amendments; for it is
amending the Constitution is concerned, the issue is cognizable by this and this alone that is submitted to the people for their
this Court under its powers to review an Act of Congress to ratification. The details of when the election shall be held for
determine its conformity to the fundamental law. For though the approval or rejection of the proposed amendments, or the manner
Constitution leaves Congress free to propose whatever of holding it, are not submitted for ratification to form part of the
Constitutional amendment it deems fit, so that Constitution. Stated differently, the plain language of Section 1, Art.
the substance or content of said proposed amendment is a matter of XV, shows that the act of proposing amendments is distinct from —
policy and wisdom and thus a political question, the Constitution albeit related to — that of submitting the amendments to the
nevertheless imposes requisites as to the manner or procedure of people for their ratification; and that the 3/4 voting requirement
proposing such amendments, e.g., the three-fourths vote applies only to the first step, not to the second one.
requirement. Said procedure or manner, therefore, from being left
to the discretion of Congress, as a matter of policy and wisdom, is
It follows that the submission of proposed amendments can be done
fixed by the Constitution. And to that extent, all questions bearing
thru an ordinary statute passed by Congress. The Constitution does
on whether Congress in proposing amendments followed the
not expressly state by whom the submission shall be undertaken;
procedure required by the Constitution, is perforce justiciable, it not
the rule is that a power not lodged elsewhere under the Constitution
being a matter of policy or wisdom.
is deemed to reside with the legislative body, under the doctrine of
residuary powers. Congress therefore validly enacted Republic Act
Turning then to petitioner Gonzales' first objection, Sec. 1, Art. XV 4913 to fix the details of the date and manner of submitting the
clearly does not bear him on the point. It nowhere requires that the proposed amendments to the people for their ratification. Since it
ratification be thru an election solely for that purpose. It only does not "propose amendments" in the sense referred to by Sec. 1,
requires that it be at "an election at which the amendments are Art. XV of the Constitution, but merely provides for how and when
submitted to the people for their ratification." To join it with an the amendments, already proposed, are going to be voted upon, the
election for candidates to public office, that is, to make it concurrent same does not need the 3/4 vote in joint session required in Sec. 1,
with such election, does not render it any less an election at which Art. XV of the Constitution. Furthermore, Republic Act 4913 is an
the proposed amendments are submitted to the people for their appropriation measure. Sec. 6 thereof appropriates P1,000,000 for
ratification. To prohibition being found in the plain terms of the carrying out its provisions. Sec. 18, Art. VI of the Constitution states
20
that "All appropriation . . . bills shall originate exclusively in the the time the above provision was adopted, does not render the
House of Representatives". Republic Act 4913, therefore, could not present districting illegal or unconstitutional. For the Constitution
have been validly adopted in a joint session, reinforcing the view itself provides for its continuance in such case, rendering legal
that Sec. 1, Art. XV does not apply to such a measure providing for and de jure the status quo.
the holding of the election to ratify the proposed amendments,
which must perforce appropriate funds for its purpose. For the above reasons, I vote to uphold the constitutionality of
Republic Act 4913, and fully concur with the opinion of the Chief
Petitioner Gonzales contends, thirdly, that Republic Act 4913 offends Justice.
against substantive due process. An examination of the provisions of
the law shows no violation of the due process clause of the FERNANDO, J., concurring:
Constitution. The publication in the Official Gazette at least 20 days
before the election, the posting of notices in public buildings not
At the outset, we are faced with a question of jurisdiction. The
later than October 14, 1967, to remain posted until after the
opinion prepared by the Chief Justice discusses the matter with a
elections, the placing of copies of the proposed amendments in the
fullness that erases doubts and misgivings and clarifies the
polling places, aside from printing the same at the back of the ballot,
applicable principles. A few words may however be added.
provide sufficient opportunity to the voters to cast an intelligent
vote on the proposal. Due process refers only to providing fair
opportunity; it does not guarantee that the opportunity given will in We start from the premise that only where it can be shown that the
fact be availed of; that is the look-out of the voter and the question is to be solved by public opinion or where the matter has
responsibility of the citizen. As long as fair and reasonable been left by the Constitution to the sole discretion of any of the
opportunity to be informed is given, and it is, the due process clause political branches, as was so clearly stated by the then Justice
is not infringed. Concepcion in Tañada v. Cuenco,1 may this Court avoid passing on
the issue before it. Whatever may be said about the present
question, it is hard to speak with certitude considering Article XV,
Non-printing of the provisions to be amended as they now stand,
that Congress may be entrusted with the full and uncontrolled
and the printing of the full proposed amendments at the back of the
discretion on the procedure leading to proposals for an amendment
ballot instead of the substance thereof at the face of the ballot, do
of the Constitution.
not deprive the voter of fair opportunity to be informed. The
present wording of the Constitution is not being veiled or
suppressed from him; he is conclusively presumed to know them It may be said however that in Mabanag v. Lopez Vito,2 this Court
and they are available should he want to check on what he is through Justice Tuason followed Coleman v. Miller,3 in its holding
conclusively presumed to know. Should the voters choose to remain that certain aspects of the amending process may be considered
ignorant of the present Constitution, the fault does not lie with political. His opinion quoted with approval the view of Justice Black,
Congress. For opportunity to familiarize oneself with the to which three other members of the United States Supreme Court
Constitution as it stands has been available thru all these years. agreed, that the process itself is political in its entirety, "from
Perhaps it would have been more convenient for the voters if the submission until an amendment becomes part of the Constitution,
present wording of the provisions were also to be printed on the and is not subject to judicial guidance, control or interference at any
ballot. The same however is a matter of policy. As long as the point." In a sense that would solve the matter neatly. The judiciary
method adopted provides sufficiently reasonable chance to would be spared the at times arduous and in every case soul-
intelligently vote on the amendments, and I think it does in this case, searching process of determining whether the procedure for
it is not constitutionally defective. amendments required by the Constitution has been followed.

Petitioner Gonzales' other arguments touch on the merits or wisdom At the same time, without impugning the motives of Congress,
of the proposed amendments. These are for the people in their which cannot be judicially inquired into at any rate, it is not beyond
sovereign capacity to decide, not for this Court. the realm of possibility that a failure to observe the requirements of
Article XV would occur. In the event that judicial intervention is
sought, to rely automatically on the theory of political question to
Two arguments were further advanced: first, that Congress cannot
avoid passing on such a matter of delicacy might under certain
both call a convention and propose amendments; second, that the
circumstances be considered, and rightly so, as nothing less than
present Congress is a de facto one, since no apportionment law was
judicial abdication or surrender.
adopted within three years from the last census of 1960, so that the
Representatives elected in 1961 are de facto officers only. Not
being de jure, they cannot propose amendments, it is argued. What appears regrettable is that a major opinion of an esteemed
jurist, the late Justice Tuason, would no longer be controlling. There
is comfort in the thought that the view that then prevailed was itself
As to the first point, Sec. 1 of Art. XV states that Congress "may
a product of the times. It could very well be that considering the
propose amendments or call a convention for that purpose". The
circumstances existing in 1947 as well as the particular amendment
term "or", however, is frequently used as having the same meaning
sought to be incorporated in the Constitution, the parity rights
as "and" particularly in permissive, affirmative sentences so that the
ordinance, the better part of wisdom in view of the grave economic
interpretation of the word "or" as "and" in the Constitution in such
situation then confronting the country would be to avoid the
use will not change its meaning (Vicksburg S. & P. R. Co. v.
existence of any obstacle to its being submitted for ratification.
Goodenough, 32 So. 404, 411, 108 La, 442). And it should be pointed
Moreover, the Republic being less than a year old, American
out that the resolutions proposing amendments (R.B.H. Nos. 1 and
Supreme Court opinions on constitutional questions were-invariably
3) are different from that calling for a convention (R.B.H. No. 2).
accorded uncritical acceptance. Thus the approach followed by
Surely, if Congress deems it better or wise to amend the
Justice Tuason is not difficult to understand. It may be said that
Constitution before a convention called for is elected, it should not
there is less propensity now, which is all to the good, for this Court
be fettered from doing so. For our purposes in this case, suffice it to
to accord that much deference to constitutional views coming from
note that the Constitution does not prohibit it from doing so.
the quarter.

As to the second argument, it is also true that Sec. 5 of Art. VI of the


Nor is this mode of viewing the opinion of Justice Tuason to do
Constitution provides in part that "The Congress shall by law make
injustice to his memory. For as he stated in another major opinion
an apportionment within three years after the return of every
in Araneta v. Dinglasan,4 in ascertaining the meaning to be given the
enumeration, and not otherwise". It however further states in the
Emergency Powers Act,5 one should not ignore what would ensue if
next sentence: "Until such apportionment shall have been made, the
a particular mode of construction were followed. As he so
House of Representatives shall have the same number of Members
emphatically stated, "We test a rule by its results."
as that fixed by law for the National Assembly, who shall be elected
by the qualified electors from the present assembly districts." The
failure of Congress, therefore, to pass a valid redistricting law since
21
The consequences of a judicial veto on the then proposed
amendment on the economic survival of the country, an erroneous
appraisal it turned out later, constituted an effective argument for
its submission. Why not then consider the question political and let
the people decide? That assumption could have been indulged in. It
could very well be the inarticulate major premise. For many it did
bear the stamp of judicial statesmanship.

The opinion of Chief Justice Concepcion renders crystal-clear why as


of this date and in the foreseeable future judicial inquiry to assure
the utmost compliance with the constitutional requirement would
be a more appropriate response.

SANCHEZ, J., in separate opinion:

Right at the outset, the writer expresses his deep appreciation to


Mr. Justice Calixto O. Zaldivar and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro for
their invaluable contribution to the substance and form of the
opinion which follows.

Directly under attack in this, a petition for prohibition, is the


constitutionality of Republic Act 4913, approved on June 17, 1967.
This Act seeks to implement

22
Republic of the Philippines PROPOSED AMENDMENTS:
SUPREME COURT
Manila 1. There shall be, in lieu of the interim National Assembly, an interim
Batasang Pambansa. Members of the interim Batasang Pambansa
EN BANC which shall not be more than 120, unless otherwise provided by law,
shall include the incumbent President of the Philippines,
G.R. No. L-44640 October 12, 1976 representatives elected from the different regions of the nation,
those who shall not be less than eighteen years of age elected by
their respective sectors, and those chosen by the incumbent
PABLO C. SANIDAD and PABLITO V. SANIDAD, petitioner,
President from the members of the Cabinet. Regional
vs.
representatives shall be apportioned among the regions in
HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and HONORABLE
accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and on
NATIONAL TREASURER, respondents.
the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio while the sectors shall
be determined by law. The number of representatives from each
G.R. No. L-44684. October 12,1976 region or sector and the, manner of their election shall be prescribed
and regulated by law.
VICENTE M. GUZMAN, petitioner,
vs. 2. The interim Batasang Pambansa shall have the same powers and
COMMISSION ELECTIONS, respondent. its members shall have the same functions, responsibilities, rights,
privileges, and disqualifications as the interim National Assembly
G.R. No. L-44714. October 12,1976 and the regular National Assembly and the members thereof.
However, it shall not exercise the power provided in Article VIII,
RAUL M. GONZALES, RAUL T. GONZALES, JR., and ALFREDO Section 14(l) of the Constitution.
SALAPANTAN, petitioners,
vs. 3. The incumbent President of the Philippines shall, within 30 days
HONORABLE COMMISSION ON SELECTIONS and HONORABLE from the election and selection of the members, convene the
NATIONAL TREASURER, respondents. interim Batasang Pambansa and preside over its sessions until the
Speaker shall have been elected. The incumbent President of the
MARTIN, J,: Philippines shall be the Prime Minister and he shall continue to
exercise all his powers even after the interim Batasang Pambansa is
organized and ready to discharge its functions and likewise he shall
The capital question raised in these prohibition suits with continue to exercise his powers and prerogatives under the nineteen
preliminary injunction relates to the power of the incumbent hundred and thirty five. Constitution and the powers vested in the
President of the Philippines to propose amendments to the present President and the Prime Minister under this Constitution.
Constitution in the absence of the interim National Assembly which
has not been convened.
4. The President (Prime Minister) and his Cabinet shall exercise all
the powers and functions, and discharge the responsibilities of the
On September 2, 1976, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued regular President (Prime Minister) and his Cabinet, and shall be
Presidential Decree No. 991 calling for a national referendum on subject only to such disqualifications as the President (Prime
October 16, 1976 for the Citizens Assemblies ("barangays") to Minister) may prescribe. The President (Prime Minister) if he so
resolve, among other things, the issues of martial law, the I . desires may appoint a Deputy Prime Minister or as many Deputy
assembly, its replacement, the powers of such replacement, the Prime Ministers as he may deem necessary.
period of its existence, the length of the period for tile exercise by
the President of his present powers.1
5. The incumbent President shall continue to exercise legislative
powers until martial law shall have been lifted.
Twenty days after or on September 22, 1976, the President issued
another related decree, Presidential Decree No. 1031, amending the
previous Presidential Decree No. 991, by declaring the provisions of 6. Whenever in the judgment of the President (Prime Minister),
presidential Decree No. 229 providing for the manner of voting and there exists a grave emergency or a threat or imminence thereof, or
canvass of votes in "barangays" (Citizens Assemblies) applicable to whenever the interim Batasang Pambansa or the regular National
the national referendum-plebiscite of October 16, 1976. Quite Assembly fails or is unable to act adequately on any matter for any
relevantly, Presidential Decree No. 1031 repealed Section 4, of reason that in his judgment requires immediate action, he may, in
Presidential Decree No. 991, the full text of which (Section 4) is order to meet the exigency, issue the necessary decrees, orders or
quoted in the footnote below. 2 letters of instructions, which shall form part of the law of the land.

On the same date of September 22, 1976, the President issued 7. The barangays and sanggunians shall continue as presently
Presidential Decree No. 1033, stating the questions to be submitted constituted but their functions, powers, and composition may be
to the people in the referendum-plebiscite on October 16, 1976. The altered by law.
Decree recites in its "whereas" clauses that the people's continued
opposition to the convening of the National Assembly evinces their Referenda conducted thru the barangays and under the Supervision
desire to have such body abolished and replaced thru a of the Commission on Elections may be called at any time the
constitutional amendment, providing for a legislative body, which government deems it necessary to ascertain the will of the people
will be submitted directly to the people in the referendum-plebiscite regarding any important matter whether of national or local
of October 16. interest.

The questions ask, to wit: 8. All provisions of this Constitution not inconsistent with any of
these amendments shall continue in full force and effect.
(1) Do you want martial law to be continued?
9. These amendments shall take effect after the incumbent
(2) Whether or not you want martial law to be continued, do you President shall have proclaimed that they have been ratified by I
approve the following amendments to the Constitution? For the majority of the votes cast in the referendum-plebiscite."
purpose of the second question, the referendum shall have the
effect of a plebiscite within the contemplation of Section 2 of Article
XVI of the Constitution.

23
The Commission on Elections was vested with the exclusive provisions. 6 The interest of the aforenamed petitioners as taxpayers
supervision and control of the October 1976 National Referendum- in the lawful expenditure of these amounts of public money
Plebiscite. sufficiently clothes them with that personality to litigate the validity
of the Decrees appropriating said funds. Moreover, as regards
On September 27, 1976, PABLO C. SANIDAD and PABLITO V. taxpayer's suits, this Court enjoys that open discretion to entertain
SANIDAD, father and son, commenced L-44640 for Prohibition with the same or not. 7 For the present case, We deem it sound to
Preliminary Injunction seeking to enjoin the Commission on exercise that discretion affirmatively so that the authority upon
Elections from holding and conducting the Referendum Plebiscite on which the disputed Decrees are predicated may be inquired into.
October 16; to declare without force and effect Presidential Decree
Nos. 991 and 1033, insofar as they propose amendments to the 2. The Solicitor General would consider the question at bar as a pure
Constitution, as well as Presidential Decree No. 1031, insofar as it political one, lying outside the domain of judicial review. We
directs the Commission on Elections to supervise, control, hold, and disagree. The amending process both as to proposal and ratification,
conduct the Referendum-Plebiscite scheduled on October 16, 1976. raises a judicial question. 8 This is especially true in cases where the
power of the Presidency to initiate the of normally exercised by the
Petitioners contend that under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions legislature, is seriously doubted. Under the terms of the 1973
there is no grant to the incumbent President to exercise the Constitution, the power to propose amendments o the constitution
constituent power to propose amendments to the new Constitution. resides in the interim National Assembly in the period of transition
As a consequence, the Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16 has no (See. 15, Transitory provisions). After that period, and the regular
constitutional or legal basis. National Assembly in its active session, the power to propose
amendments becomes ipso facto the prerogative of the regular
National Assembly (Sec. 1, pars. 1 and 2 of Art. XVI, 1973
On October 5, 1976, the Solicitor General filed the comment for
constitution). The normal course has not been followed. Rather than
respondent Commission on Elections, The Solicitor General
calling the National Assembly to constitute itself into a constituent
principally maintains that petitioners have no standing to sue; the
assembly the incumbent President undertook the proposal of
issue raised is political in nature, beyond judicial cognizance of this
amendments and submitted the proposed amendments thru
Court; at this state of the transition period, only the incumbent
Presidential Decree 1033 to the people in a Referendum-Plebiscite
President has the authority to exercise constituent power; the
on October 16. Unavoidably, the regularity regularity of the
referendum-plebiscite is a step towards normalization.
procedure for amendments, written in lambent words in the very
Constitution sought to be amended, raises a contestable issue. The
On September 30, 1976, another action for Prohibition with implementing Presidential Decree Nos. 991, 1031, and 1033, which
Preliminary Injunction, docketed as L-44684, was instituted by commonly purport to have the force and effect of legislation are
VICENTE M. GUZMAN, a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional assailed as invalid, thus the issue of the validity of said Decrees is
Convention, asserting that the power to propose amendments to, or plainly a justiciable one, within the competence of this Court to pass
revision of the Constitution during the transition period is expressly upon. Section 2 (2), Article X of the new Constitution provides: "All
conferred on the interim National Assembly under Section 16, cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, executive
Article XVII of the Constitution.3 agreement, or law may shall be heard and decided by the Supreme
Court en banc and no treaty, executive agreement, or law may be
Still another petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction was declared unconstitutional without the concurrence of at least ten
filed on October 5, 1976 by RAUL M. GONZALES, his son RAUL, JR., Members. ..." The Supreme Court has the last word in the
and ALFREDO SALAPANTAN, docketed as L- 44714, to restrain the construction not only of treaties and statutes, but also of the
implementation of Presidential Decrees relative to the forthcoming Constitution itself The amending, like all other powers organized in
Referendum-Plebiscite of October 16. the Constitution, is in form a delegated and hence a limited power,
so that the Supreme Court is vested with that authorities to
These last petitioners argue that even granting him legislative determine whether that power has been discharged within its limits.
powers under Martial Law, the incumbent President cannot act as a
constituent assembly to propose amendments to the Constitution; a Political questions are neatly associated with the wisdom, of the
referendum-plebiscite is untenable under the Constitutions of 1935 legality of a particular act. Where the vortex of the controversy
and 1973; the submission of the proposed amendments in such a refers to the legality or validity of the contested act, that matter is
short period of time for deliberation renders the plebiscite a nullity; definitely justiciable or non-political. What is in the heels of the
to lift Martial Law, the President need not consult the people via Court is not the wisdom of the act of the incumbent President in
referendum; and allowing 15-.year olds to vote would amount to an proposing amendments to the Constitution, but his constitutional
amendment of the Constitution, which confines the right of suffrage authority to perform such act or to assume the power of a
to those citizens of the Philippines 18 years of age and above. constituent assembly. Whether the amending process confers on the
President that power to propose amendments is therefore a
We find the petitions in the three entitled cases to be devoid of downright justiciable question. Should the contrary be found, the
merit. actuation of the President would merely be a brutum fulmen. If the
Constitution provides how it may be amended, the judiciary as the
interpreter of that Constitution, can declare whether the procedure
I followed or the authority assumed was valid or not. 10

Justiciability of question raised. We cannot accept the view of the Solicitor General, in pursuing his
theory of non-justiciability, that the question of the President's
1. As a preliminary resolution, We rule that the petitioners in L- authority to propose amendments and the regularity of the
44640 (Pablo C. Sanidad and Pablito V. Sanidad) possess locus procedure adopted for submission of the proposal to the people
standi to challenge the constitutional premise of Presidential Decree ultimately lie in the judgment of the A clear Descartes fallacy
Nos. 991, 1031, and 1033. It is now an ancient rule that the valid of vicious circle. Is it not that the people themselves, by their
source of a stature Presidential Decrees are of such nature-may be sovereign act, provided for the authority and procedure for the
contested by one who will sustain a direct injuries as a in result of its amending process when they ratified the present Constitution in
enforcement. At the instance of taxpayers, laws providing for the 1973? Whether, therefore, the constitutional provision has been
disbursement of public funds may be enjoined, upon the theory that followed or not is the proper subject of inquiry, not by the people
the expenditure of public funds by an officer of the State for the themselves of course who exercise no power of judicial but by the
purpose of executing an unconstitutional act constitutes a Supreme Court in whom the people themselves vested that power, a
misapplication of such funds. 4 The breadth of Presidential Decree power which includes the competence to determine whether the
No. 991 carries all appropriation of Five Million Pesos for the constitutional norms for amendments have been observed or not.
effective implementation of its purposes. 5 Presidential Decree No. And, this inquiry must be done a prior not a posterior i.e., before the
1031 appropriates the sum of Eight Million Pesos to carry out its submission to and ratification by the people.
24
Indeed, the precedents evolved by the Court or, prior constitutional SECTION 15. The interim National Assembly,
cases underline the preference of the Court's majority to treat such upon special call by the interim Prime Minister,
issue of Presidential role in the amending process as one of non- may, by a majority vote of all its Members,
political impression. In the Plebiscite Cases, 11 the contention of the propose amendments to this Constitution. Such
Solicitor General that the issue on the legality of Presidential Decree amendments shall take effect when ratified in
No. 73 "submitting to the Pilipino people (on January 15, 1973) for accordance with Article Sixteen hereof.
ratification or rejection the Constitution of the Republic of the
Philippines proposed by the 1971 Constitutional Convention and There are, therefore, two periods contemplated in the constitutional
appropriating fund s therefore "is a political one, was rejected and life of the nation, i.e., period of normalcy and period of transition. In
the Court unanimously considered the issue as justiciable in nature. times of normally, the amending process may be initiated by the
Subsequently in the Ratification Cases 12involving the issue of proposals of the (1) regular National Assembly upon a vote of three-
whether or not the validity of Presidential Proclamation No. 1102. fourths of all its members; or (2) by a Constitutional Convention
announcing the Ratification by the Filipino people of the constitution called by a vote of two-thirds of all the Members of the National
proposed by the 1971 Constitutional Convention," partakes of the Assembly. However the calling of a Constitutional Convention may
nature of a political question, the affirmative stand of' the Solicitor be submitted to the electorate in an election voted upon by a
General was dismissed, the Court ruled that the question raised is majority vote of all the members of the National Assembly. In times
justiciable. Chief Justice Concepcion, expressing the majority view, of transition, amendments may be proposed by a majority vote of all
said, Thus, in the aforementioned plebiscite cases, We rejected the the Members of the National Assembly upon special call by the
theory of the respondents therein that the question whether interim Prime Minister,.
Presidential Decree No. 73 calling a plebiscite to be held on January
15, 1973, for the ratification or rejection of the proposed new
2. This Court in Aquino v. COMELEC," had already settled that the
Constitution, was valid or not, was not a proper subject of judicial
incumbent President is vested with that prerogative of discretion as
inquiry because, they claimed, it partook of a political nature, and
to when he shall initially convene the interim National Assembly.
We unanimously declared that the issue was a justiciable one. With
Speaking for the majority opinion in that case, Justice Makasiar said:
Identical unanimity. We overruled the respondent's contention in
"The Constitutional Convention intended to leave to the President
the 1971 habeas corpus cases, questioning Our authority to
the determination of the time when he shall initially convene the
determine the constitutional sufficiency of the factual bases of the
interim National Assembly, consistent with the prevailing conditions
Presidential proclamation suspending the privilege of the writ of
of peace and order in the country." Concurring, Justice Fernandez,
habeas corpus on August 21, 1971, despite the opposite view taken
himself a member of that Constitutional Convention, revealed:
by this Court in Barcelon vs. Baker and Montenegro vs. Castaneda,
"(W)hen the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention voted on
insofar as it adhered to the former case, which view We,
the Transitory Provisions, they were aware of the fact that under the
accordingly, abandoned and refused to apply. For the same reason,
same, the incumbent President was given the discretion as to when
We did not apply and expressly modified, in Gonzales vs.
he could convene the interim National Assembly; it was so stated
Commission on Elections, the political-question theory adopted in
plainly by the sponsor, Delegate Yaneza; as a matter of fact, the
Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito." 13 The return to Barcelon vs. Baker and
proposal that it be convened 'immediately', made by Delegate
Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, urged by the Solicitor General, was
Pimentel (V) was rejected. The President's decision to defer the
decisively refused by the Court. Chief Justice Concepcion continued:
convening of the interim National Assembly soon found support
"The reasons adduced in support thereof are, however, substantially
from the people themselves. In the plebiscite of January 10-15,
the same as those given in support on the political question theory
1973, at which the ratification of the 1973 Constitution was
advanced in said habeas corpus and plebiscite cases, which were
submitted, the people voted against the convening of the interim
carefully considered by this Court and found by it to be legally
National Assembly. In the referendum of July 24, 1973, the Citizens
unsound and constitutionally untenable. As a consequence. Our
Assemblies ("bagangays") reiterated their sovereign will to withhold
decisions in the aforementioned habeas corpus cases partakes of the
the convening of the interim National Assembly. Again, in the
nature and effect of a stare decisis which gained added weight by its
referendum of February 27, 1975, the proposed question of whether
virtual reiteration."
the interim National Assembly shall be initially convened was
eliminated, because some of the members of Congress and
II delegates of the Constitutional Convention, who were deemed
automatically members of the I interim National Assembly, were
The amending process as laid out against its inclusion since in that referendum of January, 1973, the
people had already resolved against it.
in the new Constitution.
3. In sensu strictiore, when the legislative arm of the state
1. Article XVI of the 1973 Constitution on Amendments ordains: undertakes the proposals of amendment to a Constitution, that
body is not in the usual function of lawmaking. lt is not legislating
when engaged in the amending process.16 Rather, it is exercising a
SECTION 1. (1) Any amendment to, or revision of,
peculiar power bestowed upon it by the fundamental charter itself.
this Constitution may be proposed by the
In the Philippines, that power is provided for in Article XVI of the
National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths
1973 Constitution (for the regular National Assembly) or in Section
of all its Members, or by a constitutional
15 of the Transitory Provisions (for the National Assembly). While
convention. (2) The National Assembly may, by a
ordinarily it is the business of the legislating body to legislate for the
vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a
nation by virtue of constitutional conferment amending of the
constitutional convention or, by a majority vote
Constitution is not legislative in character. In political science a
of all its Members, submit the question of calling
distinction is made between constitutional content of an organic
such a convention to the electorate in an
character and that of a legislative character'. The distinction,
election.
however, is one of policy, not of law. 17Such being the case, approval
of the President of any proposed amendment is a misnomer 18 The
SECTION 2. Any amendment to, or revision of, prerogative of the President to approve or disapprove applies only
this Constitution shall be valid when ratified by a to the ordinary cases of legislation. The President has nothing to do
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which with proposition or adoption of amendments to the Constitution. 19
shall be held not later than three months after
the approval of such amendment or revision.
III

In the present period of transition, the interim National Assembly


Concentration of Powers in the President during crisis government.
instituted in the Transitory Provisions is conferred with that
amending power. Section 15 of the Transitory Provisions reads:

25
1. In general, the governmental powers in crisis government the powers. Otherwise, with no one to exercise the lawmaking powers,
Philippines is a crisis government today are more or less there would be paralyzation of the entire governmental
concentrated in the President. 20 According to Rossiter, "(t)he machinery." 24 Paraphrasing Rossiter, this is an extremely important
concentration of government power in a democracy faced by an factor in any constitutional dictatorship which extends over a period
emergency is a corrective to the crisis inefficiencies inherent in the of time. The separation of executive and legislature ordained in the
doctrine of the separation of powers. In most free states it has Constitution presents a distinct obstruction to efficient crisis
generally been regarded as imperative that the total power of the government. The steady increase in executive power is not too much
government be parceled out among three mutually independent a cause for as the steady increase in the magnitude and complexity
branches executive, legislature, and judiciary. It is believed to be of the problems the President has been called upon by the Filipino
destructive of constitutionalism if any one branch should exercise people to solve in their behalf, which involve rebellion, subversion,
any two or more types of power, and certainly a total disregard of secession, recession, inflation, and economic crisis-a crisis greater
the separation of powers is, as Madison wrote in the Federalist, No. than war. In short, while conventional constitutional law just
47, 'the very definition of tyranny.' In normal times the separation of confines the President's power as Commander-in-Chief to the
powers forms a distinct obstruction to arbitrary governmental direction of the operation of the national forces, yet the facts of our
action. By this same token, in abnormal times it may form an political, social, and economic disturbances had convincingly shown
insurmountable barrier to a decisive emergency action in behalf of that in meeting the same, indefinite power should be attributed to
the state and its independent existence. There are moments in the tile President to take emergency measures 25
life of any government when all powers must work together in
unanimity of purpose and action, even if this means the temporary IV
union of executive, legislative, and judicial power in the hands of
one man. The more complete the separation of powers in a
Authority of the incumbent President t to propose amendments to
constitutional system, the more difficult and yet the more necessary
the Constitution.
will be their fusion in time of crisis. This is evident in a comparison of
the crisis potentialities of the cabinet and presidential systems of
government. In the former the all-important harmony of legislature 1. As earlier pointed out, the power to legislate is constitutionally
and executive is taken for granted; in the latter it is neither consigned to the interim National Assembly during the transition
guaranteed nor to be to confidently expected. As a result, cabinet is period. However, the initial convening of that Assembly is a matter
more easily established and more trustworthy than presidential fully addressed to the judgment of the incumbent President. And, in
dictatorship. The power of the state in crisis must not only be the exercise of that judgment, the President opted to defer
concentrated and expanded; it must also be freed from the normal convening of that body in utter recognition of the people's
system of constitutional and legal limitations. 21 John Locke, on the preference. Likewise, in the period of transition, the power to
other hand, claims for the executive in its own right a broad propose amendments to the Constitution lies in the interim National
discretion capable even of setting aside the ordinary laws in the Assembly upon special call by the President (See. 15 of the
meeting of special exigencies for which the legislative power had not Transitory Provisions). Again, harking to the dictates of the sovereign
provided. 22 The rationale behind such broad emergency powers of will, the President decided not to call the interim National Assembly.
the Executive is the release of the government from "the paralysis of Would it then be within the bounds of the Constitution and of law
constitutional restrains" so that the crisis may be ended and normal for the President to assume that constituent power of the interim
times restored. Assembly vis-a-vis his assumption of that body's legislative
functions? The answer is yes. If the President has been legitimately
discharging the legislative functions of the interim Assembly, there is
2. The presidential exercise of legislative powers in time of martial
no reason why he cannot validly discharge the function of that
law is now a conceded valid at. That sun clear authority of the
Assembly to propose amendments to the Constitution, which is but
President is saddled on Section 3 (pars. 1 and 2) of the Transitory
adjunct, although peculiar, to its gross legislative power. This, of
Provisions, thus: 23
course, is not to say that the President has converted his office into
a constituent assembly of that nature normally constituted by the
The incumbent President of the Philippines shall legislature. Rather, with the interim National Assembly not
initially convene the interim National Assembly convened and only the Presidency and the Supreme Court in
and shall preside over its sessions until the operation, the urges of absolute necessity render it imperative upon
interim Speaker shall have been elected. He shall the President to act as agent for and in behalf of the people to
continue to exercise his powers and prerogatives propose amendments to the Constitution. Parenthetically, by its
under the nineteen hundred and thirty-five very constitution, the Supreme Court possesses no capacity to
Constitution and the powers vested in the propose amendments without constitutional infractions. For the
President and the Prime Minister under this President to shy away from that actuality and decline to undertake
Constitution until the calls upon the interim the amending process would leave the governmental machineries at
National Assembly to elect the interim President a stalemate or create in the powers of the State a destructive
and the interim Prime Minister, who shall then vacuum, thereby impeding the objective of a crisis government "to
exercise their respective powers vested by this end the crisis and restore normal times." In these parlous times, that
Constitution. Presidential initiative to reduce into concrete forms the constant
voices of the people reigns supreme. After all, constituent
All proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, assemblies or constitutional conventions, like the President now, are
and acts promulgated, issued, or done by the mere agents of the people .26
incumbent President shall be part of the law of
the land, and shall remain valid, binding, and 2. The President's action is not a unilateral move. As early as the
effective even after lifting of martial law or the referendums of January 1973 and February 1975, the people had
ratification of this Constitution, unless modified, already rejected the calling of the interim National Assembly. The
revoked, or superseded by subsequent Lupong Tagapagpaganap of the Katipunan ng mga Sanggunian, the
proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, or Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Barangay, and the Pambansang
other acts of the incumbent President, or unless Katipunan ng mga Barangay, representing 42,000 barangays, about
expressly and explicitly modified or repealed by the same number of Kabataang Barangay organizations, Sanggunians
the regular National Assembly. in 1,458 municipalities, 72 provinces, 3 sub-provinces, and 60 cities
had informed the President that the prevailing sentiment of the
"It is unthinkable," said Justice Fernandez, a 1971 Constitutional people is for the abolition of the interim National Assembly. Other
Convention delegate, "that the Constitutional Convention, while issues concerned the lifting of martial law and amendments to the
giving to the President the discretion when to call the interim Constitution .27 The national organizations of Sangguniang Bayan
National Assembly to session, and knowing that it may not be presently proposed to settle the issues of martial law, the interim
convened soon, would create a vacuum in the exercise of legislative Assembly, its replacement, the period of its existence, the length of

26
the period for the exercise by the President of its present powers in boxes for every barangay center, one containing the ballots of voters
a referendum to be held on October 16 . 28 The Batasang Bayan fifteen years of age and under eighteen, and another containing the
(legislative council) created under Presidential Decree 995 of ballots of voters eighteen years of age and above. 37 The ballots in
September 10, 1976, composed of 19 cabinet members, 9 officials the ballot box for voters fifteen years of age and under eighteen
with cabinet rank, 91 members of the Lupong Tagapagpaganap shall be counted ahead of the ballots of voters eighteen years and
(executive committee) of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Bayan above contained in another ballot box. And, the results of the
voted in session to submit directly to the people in a plebiscite on referendum-plebiscite shall be separately prepared for the age
October 16, the previously quoted proposed amendments to the groupings, i.e., ballots contained in each of the two boxes. 38
Constitution, including the issue of martial law .29 Similarly, the
"barangays" and the "sanggunians" endorsed to the President the 2. It is apt to distinguish here between a "referendum" and a
submission of the proposed amendments to the people on October "plebiscite." A "referendum" is merely consultative in character. It is
16. All the foregoing led the President to initiate the proposal of simply a means of assessing public reaction to the given issues
amendments to the Constitution and the subsequent issuance of submitted to the people foe their consideration, the calling of which
Presidential Decree No, 1033 on September 22, 1976 submitting the is derived from or within the totality of the executive power of the
questions (proposed amendments) to the people in the National President. 39It is participated in by all citizens from the age of fifteen,
Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16. regardless of whether or not they are illiterates, feeble-minded, or
ex- convicts . 40 A "plebiscite," on the other hand, involves the
V constituent act of those "citizens of the Philippines not otherwise
disqualified by law, who are eighteen years of age or over, and who
The People is Sovereign shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and in the
place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months preceding
the election Literacy, property or any other substantive requirement
1. Unlike in a federal state, the location of sovereignty in a unitary
is not imposed. It is generally associated with the amending process
state is easily seen. In the Philippines, a republican and unitary state,
of the Constitution, more particularly, the ratification aspect.
sovereignty "resides in the people and all government authority
emanates from them .30 In its fourth meaning, Savigny would treat
people as "that particular organized assembly of individuals in VII
which, according to the Constitution, the highest power
exists." 31 This is the concept of popular sovereignty. It means that 1. There appeals to be no valid basis for the claim that the regime of
the constitutional legislator, namely the people, is sovereign 32 In martial law stultifies in main the freedom to dissent. That speaks of a
consequence, the people may thus write into the Constitution their bygone fear. The martial law regime which, in the observation of
convictions on any subject they choose in the absence of express Justice Fernando, 41 is impressed with a mild character recorded no
constitutional prohibition. 33 This is because, as Holmes said, the State imposition for a muffled voice. To be sure, there are restraints
Constitution "is an experiment, as all life is all experiment." 34 "The of the individual liberty, but on certain grounds no total suppression
necessities of orderly government," wrote Rottschaefer, "do not of that liberty is aimed at. The for the referendum-plebiscite on
require that one generation should be permitted to permanently October 16 recognizes all the embracing freedoms of expression and
fetter all future generations." A constitution is based, therefore, assembly The President himself had announced that he would not
upon a self-limiting decision of the people when they adopt it. 35 countenance any suppression of dissenting views on the issues, as
he is not interested in winning a "yes" or "no" vote, but on the
2. The October 16 referendum-plebiscite is a resounding call to the genuine sentiment of the people on the issues at hand. 42 Thus, the
people to exercise their sovereign power as constitutional legislator. dissenters soon found their way to the public forums, voicing out
The proposed amendments, as earlier discussed, proceed not from loud and clear their adverse views on the proposed amendments
the thinking of a single man. Rather, they are the collated thoughts and even (in the valid ratification of the 1973 Constitution, which is
of the sovereign will reduced only into enabling forms by the already a settled matter. 43 Even government employees have been
authority who can presently exercise the powers of the government. held by the Civil Service Commission free to participate in public
In equal vein, the submission of those proposed amendments and discussion and even campaign for their stand on the referendum-
the question of martial law in a referendum-plebiscite expresses but plebiscite issues. 44
the option of the people themselves implemented only by the
authority of the President. Indeed, it may well be said that the VIII
amending process is a sovereign act, although the authority to
initiate the same and the procedure to be followed reside somehow Time for deliberation is not short.
in a particular body.
1. The period from September 21 to October 16 or a period of 3
VI weeks is not too short for free debates or discussions on the
referendum-plebiscite issues. The questions are not new. They are
Referendum-Plebiscite not rendered nugatory by the participation of the issues of the day. The people have been living with them since
the 15-year olds. the proclamation of martial law four years ago. The referendums of
1973 and 1975 carried the same issue of martial law. That
1. October 16 is in parts a referendum and a plebiscite. The question notwithstanding, the contested brief period for discussion is not
- (1) Do you want martial law to be continued? - is a referendum without counterparts in previous plebiscites for constitutional
question, wherein the 15-year olds may participate. This was amendments. Justice Makasiar, in the Referendum Case, recalls:
prompted by the desire of the Government to reach the larger mas "Under the old Society, 15 days were allotted for the publication in
of the people so that their true pulse may be felt to guide the three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette of the women's
President in pursuing his program for a New Order. For the suffrage amendment to the Constitution before the scheduled
succeeding question on the proposed amendments, only those of plebiscite on April 30, 1937 (Com. Act No. 34). The constitutional
voting age of 18 years may participate. This is the plebiscite aspect, amendment to append as ordinance the complicated Tydings-
as contemplated in Section 2, Article XVI of the new Kocialskowski was published in only three consecutive issues of the
Constitution. 36 On this second question, it would only be the votes Official Gazette for 10 days prior to the scheduled plebiscite (Com.
of those 18 years old and above which will have valid bearing on the Act 492). For the 1940 Constitutional amendments providing for the
results. The fact that the voting populace are simultaneously asked bicameral Congress, the reelection of the President and Vice
to answer the referendum question and the plebiscite question does President, and the creation of the Commission on Elections, 20 days
not infirm the referendum-plebiscite. There is nothing objectionable of publication in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette was
in consulting the people on a given issue, which is of current one and fixed (Com Act No. 517). And the Parity Amendment, an involved
submitting to them for ratification of proposed constitutional constitutional amendment affecting the economy as well as the
amendments. The fear of commingled votes (15-year olds and 18- independence of the Republic was publicized in three consecutive
year olds above) is readily dispelled by the provision of two ballot
27
issues of the Official Gazette for 20 days prior to the plebiscite (Rep. constituent power to propose the amendments, etc., as above
Act No. 73)." 45 stated, there is no fair and proper submission with sufficient
information and time to assure intelligent consent or rejection under
2. It is worthy to note that Article XVI of the Constitution makes no the standards set by this Court in the controlling cases of Gonzales,
provision as to the specific date when the plebiscite shall be held, supra, and Tolentino vs. COMELEC (41 SCRA 702).
but simply states that it "shall be held not later than three months
after the approval of such amendment or revision." In Coleman v. Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices Barredo, Makasiar,
Miller, 46 the United States Supreme court held that this matter of Antonio, Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and Martin voted to dismiss the
submission involves "an appraisal of a great variety of relevant three petitions at bar. For reasons as expressed in his separate
conditions, political, social and economic," which "are essentially opinion, Associate Justice Fernando concurs in the result. Associate
political and not justiciable." The constituent body or in the instant Justices Teehankee and Munoz Palma voted to grant the petitions.
cases, the President, may fix the time within which the people may
act. This is because proposal and ratification are not treated as ACCORDINGLY, the vote being 8 to 2 to dismiss, the said petitions
unrelated acts, but as succeeding steps in a single endeavor, the are hereby dismissed. This decision is immediately executory.
natural inference being that they are not to be widely separated in
time; second, it is only when there is deemed to be a necessity
SO ORDERED.
therefor that amendments are to be proposed, the reasonable
implication being that when proposed, they are to be considered
and disposed of presently, and third, ratification is but the Aquino, J, in the result.
expression of the approbation of the people, hence, it must be done
contemporaneously. 47 In the words of Jameson, "(a)n alteration of Separate Opinions
the Constitution proposed today has relation to the sentiment and
the felt needs of today, and that, if not ratified early while that CASTRO, C.J.:, concurring:
sentiment may fairly be supposed to exist. it ought to be regarded as
waived, and not again to be voted upon, unless a second time
proposed by proper body From the challenge as formulated in the three petitions at bar and
the grounds advanced be the Solicitor General in opposition thereto,
as well as the arguments adduced by the counsels of the parties at
IN RESUME the hearing had on October 7 and 8, 1976, three vital issues readily
project themselves as the centers of controversy, namely:
The three issues are
(1) Is the question of the constitutionality of Presidential Decrees
1. Is the question of the constitutionality of Presidential Decrees Nos. 991, 1031 and 1033 political or justiciable?
Nos. 991, 1031 and 1033 political or justiciable?
(2) During the present stage of the transition period, and under the
2. During the present stage of the transition period, and under, the environmental circumstances now obtaining, does the President
environmental circumstances now obtaining, does the President possess power to propose amendments to the Constitution as well
possess power to propose amendments to the Constitution as well as set up the required machineries and prescribe the procedure for
as set up the required machinery and prescribe the procedure for the ratification of his proposals by the people?
the ratification of his proposals by the people?
(3) Is the submission to the people of the proposed amendments
3. Is the submission to the people of the proposed amendments within the time frame allowed therefor a sufficient and proper,
within the time frame allowed therefor a sufficient and proper submission"
submission?
I
Upon the first issue, Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro and Associate
Justices Enrique M. Fernando, Claudio Teehankee, Antonio P. First Issue
Barredo, Cecilia Munoz Palma, Hermogenes Concepcion Jr. and
Ruperto G. Martin are of the view that the question posed is
justiciable, while Associate Justices Felix V. Makasiar, Felix Q. The threshold question is not at all one of first impression
Antonio and Ramon C. Aquino hold the view that the question is Specifically on the matter of proposals to amend the Constitution,
political. this Court, in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito (78 Phil. 1), inceptively
announced the dictum that-
Upon the second issue, Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices
Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and Martin Proposal to amend the Constitution is a highly
voted in the affirmative, while Associate Justices Teehankee and political function performed by the Congress in
Munoz Palma voted in the negative. Associate Justice Fernando, its sovereign legislative capacity and committed
conformably to his concurring and dissenting opinion in Aquino vs. to its charges by the Constitution itself. The
Enrile (59 SCRA 183), specifically dissents from the proposition that exercise of this power is even independent of
there is concentration of powers in the Executive during periods of any intervention by the Chief Executive. If on
crisis, thus raising serious doubts as to the power of the President to grounds of expediency scrupulous attention of
propose amendments. the judiciary be needed to safeguard public
interest, there is less reason for judicial inquiry
into the validity of a proposal than into that of a
Upon the third issue, Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices ratification.
Barredo, Makasiar, Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and Martin are of the
view that there is a sufficient and proper submission of the proposed
amendments for ratification by the people. Associate Justices In time, however, the validity of the said pronouncement was
Barredo and Makasiar expressed the hope, however that the period eroded. In the assessment of the Court itself-
of time may be extended. Associate Justices Fernando, Makasiar and
Antonio are of the view that the question is political and therefore The force of this precedent has been weakened, however, by Suanes
beyond the competence and cognizance of this Court, Associate vs. Chief Accountant of the Senate (81 Phil. 818), Avelino vs. Cuenco
Justice Fernando adheres to his concurrence in the opinion of Chief (L-2581, March 4 and 14, 1949), Tanada vs. Cuenco (L-10520,
Justice Concepcion in Gonzales vs. COMELEC (21 SCRA February 28, 1957), and Macias vs. Commission on Elections (L-
774).Associate Justices Teehankee and MUNOZ Palma hold that 18684, September 14, 1961).
prescinding from the President's lack of authority to exercise the
28
xxx xxx xxx be found and unraveled only by a critical assessment of the existing
legal order in the light of the prevailing political and factual milieu.
In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress-acting as
a constituent assembly-violates the Constitution is essentially To be sure, there is an impressive array of consistent jurisprudence
justiciable, not political, and, hence, subject to judicial review, and, on the proposition that, normally or under normal conditions, a
to the extent this view may be inconsistent with the stand taken in Constitution may be amended only in accord with the procedure set
Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito the latter should be deemed modified forth therein. Hence, if there be any such prescription for the
accordingly. The Members of the Court are unanimous on this amendatory process as invariable there is because one of the
point." (Gonzales vs. Commission on Elections, et al, L-28196, essential parts of a Constitution is the so-called "constitution of
November 9, 1967, 21 SCRA 774, 786-787). sovereignty" which comprises the provision or provisions on the
modes in accordance with which formal changes in the fundamental
The abandonment of the Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito doctrine appears law may be effected the same would ordinarily be the controlling
to have been completed when, in Javellana vs. Secretary, et al. (L- criterion for the validity of the amendments sought.
36142, March 3l, 1973, 50 SCRA 30), six members of the Court
concurred in the view that the question of whether the 1973 Unfortunately, however, during the present transition period of our
Constitution was ratified in accordance with the provisions of Article political development, no express provision is extant in the
XV (Amendments) of the 1935 Constitution is inherently and Constitution regarding the agency or agent by whom and the
essentially justiciable. procedure by which amendments thereto may be proposed and
ratified fact overlooked by those who challenge the validity of the
As elucidated therein, with extensive quotations from Tanada vs. presidential acts in the premises. This is so because there are at least
Cuenco (103 Phil. 1051)- two distinctly in the transition from the old system of government
under the 1935 Constitution to the new one established by the 1973
Constitution.
... the term 'political question' connotes, in legal
parlance, what it means in ordinarily parlance,
namely, a question of policy in matters The first stage comprises the period from the effectivity of the
concerning the government of a State, as a body Constitution on January 17, 1973 to the time the National Assembly
politic. In other words, in the language of Corpus is convened by the incumbent President and the interim President
Juris Secundum (supra), it refers to 'those and the interim Prime Minister are chosen Article XVII, Sections 1
questions which, under the Constitution, are to and 3[1]. The existence of this stage as an obvious fact of the
be decided by the people in their sovereign nation's political life was recognized by the Court in Aquino vs.
capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary Commission on Elections, et al. (L-40004, January 31, 1975, 62 SCRA
authority has been delegated to the Legislature 275), when it rejected the claim that, under the 1973 Constitution,
or executive branch of the government.' It is the President was in duty bound to convene the interim National
concerned with issues dependent upon the Assembly soon after the Constitution took effect.
wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure.'
The second stage embraces the period from the date the interim
Accordingly, when the grant of power is qualified, conditional or National Assembly is convened to the date the Government
subject to limitations, the issue on whether or not the prescribed described in Articles VII to IX of the Constitution is inaugurated,
qualifications or conditions have been met, or the limitations following the election of the members of the regular National
respected, is justiciable or non-political, the crux of the problem Assembly (Article XVII, Section 1) and the election of the regular
being one of legality or validity of the contested act, not its wisdom. President and Prime Minister,. This is as it should be because it is
Otherwise, said qualifications, conditions or limitations - particularly recognized that the President has been accorded the discretion to
those prescribed or imposed by the Constitution - would be set at determine when he shall initially convene the interim National
naught." (Javellana vs. Executive Secretary, supra). Assembly, and his decision to defer the convocation thereof has
found overwhelming support by the sovereign people in two
previous referenda, therein giving reality to an interregnum
So it is in the situation here presented. The basic issue is the
between the effectivity of the Constitution and the initial
constitutional validity of the presidential acts of proposing
convocation of the interim National Assembly, which interregnum,
amendments to the Constitution and of calling a referendum-
as aforesaid, constitutes the first stage in the transition period.
plebiscite for the ratification of the proposals made. Evidently, the
question does not concern itself with the wisdom of the exercise of
the authority claimed or of the specific amendments proposed. Against this factual backdrop, it is readily discernible that neither of
Instead the inquiry vel non is focused solely on the existence of the the two sets of provisions embodied in the Constitution on the
said power in the President - a question purely of legality amendatory process applied during the said first stage. Thus, Section
determinable thru interpretation and construction of the letter and 15, Article XVII (Transitory Provisions) provides-
spirit of the Constitution by the Court as the final arbiter in the
delineation of constitutional boundaries and the allocation of "Sec. 15. The interim National Assembly, upon special call by the
constitutional powers. interim Prime Minister, may, by a majority vote of all its Members,
propose amendments to this Constitution. Such amendments shall
For the Court to shun cognizance of the challenge herein presented, take effect when ratified in accordance with Article Sixteen hereof."
especially in these parlous years, would be to abdicate its
constitutional powers, shirk its constitutional responsibility, and Patently, the reference to the "interim National Assembly" and the
deny the people their ultimate recourse for judicial determination. "interim Prime Minister" limits the application thereof to the second
stage of the transition period, i.e.,., after the interim? National
I have thus no hesitancy in concluding that the question here Assembly shall have been convened and the interim Prime Minister
presented is well within the periphery of judicial inquiry. shall have been chosen.

II Upon the other hand, the provisions of Article XVI (Amendments), to


wit-
Second Issue
SECTION 1. (1) Any amendment to, or revision of,
this Constitution may be proposed by the
The main question stands on a different footing; it appears
National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths
unprecedented both here and elsewhere. Its solution, I believe, can
of all its Members, or by a constitutional
convention.
29
(2) The National Assembly may, by a vote of two- of te transition period be upheld, albeit within its express and
thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional implied constraints.
convention or, by a majority vote of all its
Members, submit the question of ceiling such a Neither can it be successfully argued, in the same context and in the
convention to the electorate in an election. present posture, that the Constitution may be amended during the
said first stage only by convening the interim National Assembly.
SEC. 2. Any amendment to, or revision of, this That is to say and require that he said stage must first be brought to
Constitution shall be valid when ratified by a an end before any amendment may be proposed and ratified.
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which Settled jurisprudence does not square with such a proposition. As
shall be held not later than three months after aptly noted in Aquino vs. Commission on Elections, et al., supra, the
the approval of such amendment or revision. framers of the Constitution set no deadline for the convening of the
interim National Assembly because they could not have foreseen
unequivocally contemplate amendments after the regular how long the crises which impelled the proclamation and justify the
Government shall have become fully operative, referring as they do continued state of martial law would last. Indeed, the framers
to the National Assembly which will come into being only at that committed to the sound judgment is not subject to judicial review,
time. save possibly to determine whether arbitrariness has infected such
exercise; absent such a taint, the matter is solely in the keeping of
the President. To thus content that only by convening the interim
In the face of this constitutional hiatus, we are confronted with the
National Assembly may the Constitution be amended at this time
dilemma whether amendments to the Constitution may be effected
would effectively override the judgement vested in the President,
during the aforesaid first stage and, if in the affirmative, by whom
even in default of any he has acted arbitrarily or gravely abuse his
and in what manner such amendments may be proposed and
discretion. Furthermore, to sustain such a contention would not only
ratified.
negate the mandate so resoundingly expressed by the people in two
national referenda against the immediate convening of the interim
Susceptibility to change is one of the hallmarks of an Ideal National Assembly, but as well deride their overwhelming approval
Constitution. Not being a mere declaration of the traditions of a of the manner in which the President has exercised the legislative
nation but more the embodiment of a people's hopes and power to issue proclamations, orders, decrees and instructions
aspirations, its strictures are not unalterable. They are, instead, having the stature and force of law.
dynamic precepts intended to keep in stride with and attuned to the
living social organism they seek to fashion and govern. If it is
Given the constitutional stalemate or impasse spawned by these
conceded that "the political or philosophical aphorism of one
supervening developments, the logical query that compels itself for
generation is doubted by the next and entirely discarded by the
resolution is: By whom, then, may proposals for the amendment of
third," then a Constitution must be able to adjust to the changing
the Constitution be made and in what manner may said proposals be
needs and demands of society so that the latter may survive,
ratified by the people?
progress and endure. On these verities, there can be no debate.

It is conventional wisdom that, conceptually, the constituent power


During the first stage of the transition period in which the
is not to be confuse with legislative power in general because the
Government is at present - which is understandably the most critical
prerogative to propose amendments to the Constitution is not in any
- the need for change may be most pressing and imperative, and to
sense embraced within the ambit of ordinary law-making. Hence,
disavow the existence of the right to amend the Constitution would
there is much to recommend the proposition that, in default of an
be sheer political heresy. Such view would deny the people a
express grant thereof, the legislature - traditionally the delegated
mechanism for effecting peaceful change, and belie the organic
repository thereof - may not claim it under a general grant of
conception of the Constitution by depriving it of its means of
legislative authority. In the same vein, neither would it be altogether
growth. Such a result obviously could not have been intended by the
unassailable to say that because by constitutional tradition and
framers of the fundamental law.
express allocation the constituent power under the Constitution is
locate in the law-making agency and at this stage of the transition
It seems, however, that the happenstance that the first period period the law-making authority is firmly recognized as being lodged
would come to pass before the convocation of the interim National in the President, the said constituent power should now logically be
Assembly was not anticipated, hence, the omission of an express in the hands of te President who may thus exercise it in place of the
mandate to govern the said situation in so far as amendments are interim National Assembly. Instead,, as pointed out in Gonzales vs.
concerned. But such omission through inadvertence should not, Commission on Elections, et al., supra, the power to amend the
because it cannot, negate the sovereign power of the people to Constitution or to propose amendments thereto
amend the fundamental charter that governs their lives and their
future and perhaps even the very survival of the nation.
... is part of the inherent powers of the people -
as the repository of sovereignty in a republican
Upon the other hand, it is clear from the afore-quoted provisions on state, such as ours - t o make, and, hence, to
the amendatory process that the intent was, instead, to provide a amend their own Fundamental Law.
simpler and more expeditious mode of amending the Constitution
during the transition period. For, while under Article XVI thereof,
As such, it is undoubtedly a power that only the sovereign people,
proposals for amendment may be made directly by the regular
either directly by themselves or through their chosen delegate, can
National Assembly by a vote of at least three-fourths of all its
wield. Since it has been shown that the people, inadvertently or
members, under Section 15 of Article XVII, a bare majority vote of all
otherwise, have not delegated that power to inadvertently or
the members of the National Assembly would suffice for the
otherwise, have not delegated that power to any instrumentality
purpose. The relaxation and the disparity in the vote requirement
during the current stage of our hegira from crisis to normalcy, it
are revealing. The can only signify a recognition of the need to
follows of necessity that the same remains with them for them to
facilitate the adoption of amendments during the second stage of
exercise in the manner they see fit and through the agency they
the transition period so that the interim National Assembly will be
choose. And, even if it were conceded that - as it is reputedly the
able, in a manner of speaking, to iron out the kinks in the new
rule in some jurisdictions - a delegation of the constituent authority
Constitution, remove imperfections therein, and provide for
amounts to a complete divestiture from the people of the power
changed or changing circumstances before the establishment of the
delegated which they may not thereafter unilaterally reclaim from
regular Government. In this contest, therefore, it is inutile
the delegate, there would be no violence donde to such rule,
speculation to assume that the Constitution was intended to render
assuming it to be applicable here, inasmuch as that power, under
impotent or ar the effectuation of needful change at an even more
the environmental circumstance adverted to, has not been
critical period - the first stage. With greater reason, therefore, must
delegated to anyone in the first place. The constituent power during
the right and power to amend the Constitution during the first stage
the first stage of the transition period belongs to and remains with
30
the people, and accordingly may be exercised by them - how and However, circumstances there are which unmistakably
when - at their pleasure. demonstrated that the is met. Even if the proposal appear to have
been formalized only upon the promulgation of Presidential Decree
At this juncture, a flashback to the recent and contemporary political No. 1033 on September 22, 1976, they are actually the
ferment in the country proves revelatory. The people, shocked and crystallization of sentiments that for so long have preoccupied the
revolted by the "obvious immorality" of the unabashed manner by minds of the people and their authorized representatives, from the
which the delegates to the Constitutional Convention virtually very lowest level of the political hierarchy. Hence, unlike proposals
legislated themselves into office as ipso facto members of the emanating from a legislative body, the same cannot but be said to
interim National Assembly by the mere fiat of voting for the have been mulled over, pondered upon, debated, discussed and
transitory provisions of the Constitution. and the stark reality that sufficiently understood by the great masses of the nation long
the unwieldy political monstrosity that the interim Assembly before they ripened into formal proposals.
portended to be would have proven to be a veritable drain on the
meager financial resources of a nation struggling for survival, have Besides. it is a fact of which judicial notice may well be taken that in
unequivocally put their foot down, as it were, on the convocation the not so distant past when the 1973 Constitution was submitted to
thereof. But this patently salutary decision of the people proved to the people for ratification, an all-out campaign, in which all the
be double-edged. It likewise bound the political machinery of the delegates of the Constitutional Convention reportedly participated,
Government in a virtual straight-jacket and consigned the political was launched to acquaint the people with the ramifications and
evolution of the nation into a state of suspended animation. Faced working of the new system of government sought to be inaugurated
with the ensuing dilemma, the people understandably agitated for a thereunder. It may thus well be assumed that the people in general
solution. Through consultations in the barangays and sanggunian have since acquired, in the least, a working knowledge of the
assemblies, the instrumentalities through which the people's voice is entirety of the Constitution. The changes now proposed the most
articulated in the unique system of participatory democracy in the substantial of which being merely the replacement of the interim
country today, the underpinnings for the hastening of the return to National assembly with another legislative arm for the Government
constitutional normalcy quickly evolved into an overwhelming during the transition period until the regular National Assembly shall
sentiment to amend the Constitution in order to replace the have been constituted do not appear to be of such complexity as to
discredited interim National Assembly with what the people believe require considerable time to be brought home to the full
will be an appropriate agency to eventually take over the law- understanding of the people. And, in fact, the massive and wide-
making power and thus pave the way for the early lifting of martial ranging informational and educational campaign to this end has
rule. In pursuit of this sentiment, and to translate its constraints into been and still is in full swing, with all the media the barangay, the
concrete action, the Pambansang Katipunan ng Barangay, the civic and sectoral groups, and even the religious all over the land in
Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Kabataang Barangay, the Lupong acting and often enthusiastic if not frenetic involvement.
Tagapagpaganap of the Katipunan ng mga Barangay, the
Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Kabataang Barangay the Lupong Indeed, when the people cast their votes on October 16, a negative
Tagapagpaganap of the Katipunan ng mga Sanggunian, and finally vote could very well mean an understanding of the proposals which
the Batasang Bayan, to a man and as one voice, have come forward they reject; while an affirmative vote could equally be indicative Of
with definitive proposals for the amendment of the Constitution, such understanding and/or an abiding credence in the fidelity with
and, choosing the President the only political arm of the State at this which the President has kept the trust they have confided to him as
time through which that decision could be implemented and the end President and administrator of martial rule
in view attained as their spokesman, proposed the amendments
under challenge in the cases at bar.
IV

In the light of this milieu and its imperatives, one thing is


Conclusion
inescapable: the proposals now submitted to the people for their
ratification in the forthcoming referendum-plebiscite are factually
not of the President; they are directly those of the people It is thus my considered view that no question viable for this court to
themselves speaking thru their authorized instrumentalities. The pass judgment upon is posed. Accordingly, I vote for the outright
President merely formalized the said proposals in Presidential dismissal of the three petitions at bar.
Decree No. 1033. It being conceded in all quarters that sovereignty
resides in the people and it having been demonstrated that their FERNANDO, J., concurring and dissenting:
constituent power to amend the Constitution has not been
delegated by them to any instrumentality of the Government during These three petitions, the latest in a series of cases starting from
the present stage of the transition period of our political Planas v. Commission on Elections continuing with the epochal
development, the conclusion is ineluctable that their exertion of that resolution in Javellana v. Executive Secretary and followed
residuary power cannot be vulnerable to any constitutional successively in three crucial decisions, Aquino v. Ponce Enrile Aquino
challenge as being ultra vires. Accordingly, without venturing to rule v. Commission on Elections, and Aquino v Military
on whether or not the President is vested with constituent power as Commission, 5manifest to the same degree the delicate and
it does not appear necessary to do so in the premises the proposals awesome character of the function of judicial review. While previous
here challenged, being acts of the sovereign people no less, cannot rulings supply guidance and enlightenment, care is to be taken to
be said to be afflicted with unconstitutionality. A fortiori, the avoid doctrinaire rigidity unmindful of altered circumstances and the
concomitant authority to call a plebiscite and to appropriate funds urgencies of the times. It is inappropriate to resolve the complex
therefor is even less vulnerable not only because the President, in problems of a critical period without full awareness of the
exercising said authority has acted as a mere alter ego of the people consequences that flow from whatever decision is reached. Jural
who made the proposals, but likewise because the said authority is norms must be read in the context of social facts, There is need
legislative in nature rather than constituent. therefore of adjusting inherited principles to new needs. For law,
much more so constitutional law, is simultaneously a reflection of
III and a force in the society that it controls. No quality then can be
more desirable in constitutional adjudication than that intellectual
Third Issue and imaginative insight which goes into the heart of the matter. The
judiciary must survey things as they are in the light of what they
must become It must inquire into the specific problem posed not
Little need be said of the claimed insufficiency and impropriety of
only in terms of the teaching of the past but also of the emerging
the submission of the proposed amendments for ratification from
political and legal theory, especially so under a leadership notable
the standpoint of time. The thesis cannot be disputed that a fair
for its innovative approach to social problems and the vigor of its
submission presupposes an adequate time lapse to enable the
implementation. This, on the one side. It must equally be borne in
people to be sufficiently enlightened on the merits or demerits of
mind through that this Court must be conscious of the risk inherent
the amendments presented for their ratification or rejection.
in its being considered as a mere subservient instrument of
31
government policy however admittedly salutary or desirable. There martial law is in force, no new powers are given to the executive and
is still the need to demonstrate that the conclusion reached by it in no civil rights of the individual, other than the writ of habeas corpus,
cases appropriate for its determination has support in the law that are suspended. The relations between the citizen and his stature
must be applied. To my mind that was the norm followed, the unchanged." 14
conclusion reached being that the three petitions be dismissed. I am
in agreement. It is with regret however that based on my reading of The conclusion reached by me as to the state of American federal
past decisions, both Philippine and American, and more specifically law on the question of martial law was expressed thus: 4'1 It is
my concurring opinion in Aquino v. Ponce Enrile, I must dissent from readily evident that even when Milligan supplied the only
the proposition set forth in the able and scholarly opinion of Justice authoritative doctrine, Burdick and Willoughby did not ignore the
Martin that there is concentration of power in the President during a primacy of civil liberties. Willis wrote after Sterling. It would indeed
crisis government. Consequently, I cannot see my way clear to be surprising if his opinion were otherwise. After Duncan, such an
accepting the view that the authority to propose amendments is not approach becomes even more strongly fortified. Schwartz, whose
open to question. At the very least, serious doubts could be treatise is the latest to be published, has this summary of what he
entertained on the matter. considers the present state of American law: 'The Milligan and
Duncan cases show plainly that martial law is the public law of
1. With due respect then, I have to dissociate myself from my necessity. Necessities alone calls it forth, necessity justifies its
brethren who would rule that governmental powers in a crisis exercise; and necessities measures the extended degree to which it
government, following Rossiter, "are more or less concentrated in may be It is, the high Court has affirmed, an unbending rule of law
the President." Adherence to my concurring and dissenting opinion that the exercise of military power, where the rights of the citizen
in Aquino v. Ponce Enrile leaves me no choice. are concerned, may, never be pushed beyond what the exigency
requires. If martial law rule survive the necessities on which alone it
It must be stated at the outset that with the sufficiency of doctrines rests, for even a single minute it becomes a mere exercise of lawless
supplied by our past decisions to point the way to what I did violence.' Further: Sterling v. Constantin is of basic importance.
consider the appropriate response to the basic issue raised in the Before it, a number of decisions, including one the highest Court,
Aquino and the other habeas corpus petitions resolved jointly, it was went or on the theory that the executive had a free hand in taking
only in the latter portion of my opinion that reference was made to martial law measures. Under them, it has been widely supposed that
United States Supreme Court pronouncements on martial law, at the in proclamation was so far conclusive that any action taken under it
most persuasive in character and rather few in number "due no was immune from judicial scrutiny. Sterling v. Constantin definitely
doubt to the, absence in the American Constitution of any provision discredits these earlier decisions and the doctrine of conclusiveness
concerning it." 7 It was understandable then that it was only after derived from them. Under Sterling v. Constantin, where martial law
the landmark Ex parte Milligan case, that commentators like Cooley measures impinge upon personal or property rights-normally
in 1868 and Watson in 1910 paid attention, minimal by that, to the beyond the scope of military power, whose intervention is lawful
subject." It was next set forth that in the works on American only because an abnormal Actuation has made it necessary the
constitutional law published in this century specially after the executive's ipse dixit is not of itself conclusive of the necessity.'" 15
leading cases of cases Sterling v. Constant in and Duncan v.
Kahanamoku, "there was a fuller treatment of the question of There was likewise an effort on my part to show what for me is the
martial law While it is the formulation of Willoughby that for me is legal effect of martial law being expressly provided for in the
most acceptable, my opinion did take note that another Constitution rather than being solely predicated on the common law
commentator, Burdick, came out earlier with a similar power based on the urgent need for it because of compelling
appraisal. 10 Thus: "So called martial law, except in occupied territory circumstances incident to the state of actual clash of arms: "It is not
of an enemy is merely the calling in of the aid of military forces by to be lost sight of that the basis for the declaration of martial law in
the executive, who is charged with the enforcement of the law, with the Philippines is not mere necessity but an explicit constitutional
or without special authorization by the legislature. Such declaration provision. On the other hand, Milligan, which furnished the
of martial law does not suspend the civil law, though it may interfere foundation for Sterling and Duncan had its roots in the English
with the exercise of one's ordinary rights. The right to call out the common law. There is pertinence therefore in ascertaining its
military forces to maintain order and enforce the law is simply part significance under that system. According to the noted English
of the Police power, It is only justified when it reasonably appears author, Dicey: 'Martial law,' in the proper sense of that term, , in
necessary, and only justifies such acts as reasonably appear which - it means the suspension of ordinary law and the temporary
necessarily to meet the exigency, including the arrest, or in extreme government of a country or parts of it be military tribunals, is
cases the. killing of those who create the disorder or oppose the unknown to the law of England. We have nothing equivalent to what
authorities. When the exigency is over the members of the military is called in France the "Declaration of the State of Siege," under
forces are criminally and civilly habit for acts done beyond the scope which the authority ordinarily vested in the civil power for the
of reasonable necessity. When honestly and reasonably coping with maintenance of order and police passes entirely to the army
a situation of insurrection or riot a member of the military forces (autorite militaire). This is an unmistakable proof of the permanent
cannot be made liable for his acts, and persons reasonably arrested supremacy of the law under our constitution. There was this
under such circumstances will not, during the insurrection or riot, be qualification: 'Martial law is sometimes employed as a name for the
free by writ of habeas corpus." 11 When the opinion cited common law right of the Crown and its servants to repel force by
Willoughby's concept of martial law, stress was laid on his being force in the case of invasion, insurrection, riot, or generally of any
"Partial to the claims of liberty."12 This is evident in the explicit violent resistance to the law. This right, or power, is essential to the
statement from his work quoted by me: "There is, then, strictly very existence of orderly government, and is most assuredly
speaking, no such thing in American law as a declaration of martial recognized in the most ample manner by the law of England. It is a
law whereby military law is substituted for civil law. So-called power which has in itself no special connection with the existence of
declarations of martial law are, indeed, often made but their legal an armed force. The Crown has the right to put down breaches of
effect goes no further than to warn citizens that the military powers the peace. Every subject, whether a civilian or a soldier, whether
have been called upon by the executive to assist him in the what is called a servant of the government,' such for example as a
maintenance of law and order, and that, while the emergency lasts, policeman, or a person in no way connected with the administration,
they must, upon pain of arrest and punishment not commit any acts not only has the right, but is, as a matter of legal duty, bound to
which will in any way render more difficult the restoration of order assist in putting down breaches of the peace. No doubt policemen or
and the enforcement of law. Some of the authorities stating soldiers are the persons who, as being specially employed in the
substantially this doctrine are quoted in the footnote below Nor did I maintenance of order, are most generally called upon to suppress a
stop there. The words of Willis were likewise cited: "Martial law riot, but it is clear that all loyal subjects are bound to take their part
proper, that is, military law in case of insurrection, riots, and in the suppression of riots." 16
invasions, is not a substitute for the civil law, but is rather an aid to
the execution of civil law. Declarations of martial law go no further Commitment to such an approach results in my inability to subscribe
than to warn citizens that the executive has called upon the military to the belief that martial law in terms of what is provided both in the
power to assist him in the maintenance of law and order. While 1935 and the present Constitution, affords sufficient justification for
32
the concentration of powers in the Executive during periods of crisis. matter, a step to be taken only when the dangers to a free state will
The better view, considering the juristic theory on which our be greater if the dictatorial institution is not adopted." 23
fundamental law rests is that expressed by Justice Black in Duncan v.
Kahanamoku: "Legislatures and courts are not merely cherished 4. It is by virtue of such considerations that I find myself unable to
American institutions; they are indispensable to our share the view of those of my brethren who would accord
government. 17 If there has been no observance of such a cardinal recognition to the Rossiter concept of concentration of
concept at the present, it is due to the fact that before the former governmental power in the Executive during periods of crisis. This is
Congress could meet in regular session anew, the present not to lose sight of the undeniable fact that in this country through
Constitution was adopted, abolishing it and providing for an interim the zeal, vigor, and energy lavished on projects conducive to the
National Assembly, which has not been convened. 18 So I did view general welfare, considerable progress has been achieved under
the matter. martial rule. A fair summary may be found in a recent address of the
First Lady before the delegates to the 1976 international Monetary
2. Nor did I ignore Rossiter in my Aquino v. Ponce Enrile opinion. Fund-World Bank Joint Annual Meeting: "The wonder is that so
Reference was made to the first chapter on his work on much has been done in so brief a time. Since September 1972, when
Constitutional Dictatorship where he spoke of martial rule as "a President Marcos established the crisis government, peace and
device designed for use in the crisis of invasion or rebellion. It may order have been restored in a country once avoided as one of the
be most precisely defined as an extension of military government to most unsafe in the world. We have liberated millions of Filipino
the civilian population, the substitution of the will of a military farmers from the bondage of tenancy, in the most vigorous and
commander for the will of the people's elected extensive implementation of agrarian reform." 24 Further, she said:
government." 19Since, for me at least, the Rossiter characterization "A dynamic economy has replaced a stagnant order, and its rewards
of martial law has in it more of the common law connotation, less are distributed among the many, not hoarded by a few. Our foreign
than duly mindful of the jural effects of its inclusion in the policy, once confined by fear and suspicion to a narrow alley of self-
Constitution itself as a legitimate device for coping with emergency imposed isolation, now travels the broad expressways of friendship
conditions in times of grave danger, but always subject to attendant and constructive interaction with the whole world, these in a new
limitations in accordance with the fundamental postulate of a spirit of confidence and self-reliance. And finally, forced to work out
charter's supremacy, I felt justified in concluding: "Happily for the our own salvation, the Filipino has re-discovered the well-springs of
Philippines, the declaration of martial law lends itself to the his strength and resilience As Filipinos, we have found our true
interpretation that the Burdick, Willoughby, Willis, Schwartz Identity. And having broken our crisis of Identity, we are no longer
formulations paying due regard to the primacy of liberty possess apologetic and afraid. "25 The very Idea of a crisis, however, signifies
relevance. lt cannot be said that the martial rule concept of Rossiter, a transitory, certainly not a permanent, state of things. President
latitudinarian in scope, has been adopted, even on the assumption Marcos accordingly has not been hesitant in giving utterance to his
that it can be reconciled with our Constitution. What is undeniable is conviction that full implementation of the modified parliamentary
that President Marcos has repeatedly maintained that Proclamation system under the present Constitution should not be further
No. 1081 was precisely based on the Constitution and that the delayed. The full restoration of civilian rule can thus be expected.
validity of acts taken there under could be passed upon by the That is more in accord with the imperatives of a constitutional order.
Supreme court. For me that is quite reassuring, persuaded as I am It should not go unnoticed either that the President has referred to
likewise that the week- of Rossiter is opposed to the fundamental the present regime as one of "constitutional authoritarianism." That
concept of our polity, which puts a premium on freedom."20 has a less objectionable ring, authority being more Identified with
the Idea of law, as based on right, the very antithesis of naked force,
3. Candor and accuracy compel the admission that such a conclusion which to the popular mind is associated with dictatorship, even if
his to be qualified. For in the opinion of the Court in the aforecited referred to as "constitutional."
Aquino v. Commission on Elections, penned by Justice Makasiar, the
proposition was expressly affirmed "that as Commander-in-Chief For me likewise, that equally eminent scholar Corwin, also invoked
and enforcer or administrator of martial law, the incumbent in the opinion of the Court, while no doubt a partisan of d strong
President of the Philippines can reclamations, orders and decrees Presidency, was not averse to constitutional restraints even during
during the period Martial Law essential to the security and periods of crisis. So I would interpret this excerpt from the fourth
preservation of the Republic, to the defense of the political and edition of his classic treatise on the Presidency: "A regime of martial
social liberties of the people and to the institution of reforms to law may be compendiously, if not altogether accurately, defined as
prevent the resurgence of rebellion or insurrection or secession or one in which the ordinary law, as administered by the ordinary
the threat thereof as well as to meet the impact of a worldwide courts, is superseded for the time being by the will of a military
recession, inflation or economic crisis which presently threatens all commander. It follows that, when martial law is instituted under
nations including highly developed countries." 21 To that extent, national authority, it rests ultimately on the will of the President of
Rossiter's view mainly relied upon, now possesses Juristic significant the United States in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief. It should
in this jurisdiction. What, for me at least, gives caused for concern is be added at once, nevertheless, that the subject is one in which the
that with the opinion of the Court this intrusion of what I would record of actual practice fails often to support the niceties of theory.
consider an alien element in the limited concept of martial law as set Thus, the employment of the military arm in the enforcement of the
forth in the Constitution would be allowed further incursion into the civil law does not invariably, or even usually, involve martial law in
corpus of the law, with the invocation of the view expressed in the the strict sense, for, as was noted in the preceding section, soldiers
last chapter of his work approving tile "concentration of are often placed simply at the disposal and direction of the civil
governmental power in a democracy [as] a corrective to the crisis authorities as a kind of supplementary police, or posse comitatus on
inefficiencies inherent in the doctrine of the separation of the other hand be reason of the discretion that the civil authorities
powers." 22 It is to the credit of the late Professor Rossiter as an themselves are apt to vest in the military in any emergency requiring
objective scholar that in the very same last chapter, just three pages its assistance, the line between such an employment of the military
later, he touched explicitly on the undesirable aspect of a and a regime of martial law is frequently any but a hard and fast
constitutional dictatorship. Thus: "Constitutional Dictatorship is a one. And partly because of these ambiguities the conception itself of
dangerous thing. A declaration of martial law or the passage of an martial law today bifurcates into two conceptions, one of which
enabling act is a step which must always be feared and sometimes shades off into military government and the other into the situation
bitterly resisted, for it is at once an admission of the incapacity of just described, in which the civil authority remains theoretically in
democratic institutions to defend the order within which they control although dependent on military aid. Finally, there is the
function and a too conscious employment of powers and methods situation that obtained throughout the North during the Civil War,
long ago outlawed as destructive of constitutional government. when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was suspended as to
Executive legislation, state control of popular liberties, military certain classes of suspects, although other characteristics of martial
courts, and arbitrary executive action were governmental features law were generally absent." 26
attacked by the men who fought for freedom not because they were
inefficient or unsuccessful, but because they were dangerous and It is by virtue of the above considerations that, with due respect to
oppressive. The reinstitution of any of these features is a perilous the opinion of my brethren, I cannot yield assent to the Rossiter
33
view of concentration of governmental powers in the Executive approach has, to my mind, a persuasive quality as far as the power
during martial law. to propose amendments is concerned.

5 There is necessity then, for me at least, that the specific question Thus I would confine myself to the expression of serious doubts on
raised in all three petitions be squarely faced. It is to the credit of the question rather than a dissent.
the opinion of the Court that it did so. The basic issue posed
concerns the boundaries of the power of the President during this 6. The constitutional issue posed as thus viewed leaves me free to
period of martial law, more precisely whether it covers proposing concur in the result that the petitions be dismissed. That is to accord
amendments to the Constitution. There is the further qualification if respect to the principle that judicial review goes no further than to
the stand of respondents be taken into account that the interim checking clear infractions of the fundamental law, except in the field
National Assembly has not been convened and is not likely to be of human rights where a much greater vigilance is required, That is
called into session in deference to the wishes of the people as to make of the Constitution a pathway to rather than a barrier
expressed in three previous referenda. It is the ruling of the majority against a desirable objective. -As shown by my concurring and
that the answer be in the affirmative, such authority being well dissenting opinion in Tolentino Commission on Elections '34 a pre-
within the area of presidential competence. Again I find myself martial law decision, the fundamental postulate that sovereignty
unable to join readily in that conviction. It does seem to me that the resides in the people exerts a compelling force requiring the
metes and bounds of the executive domain, while still recognizable, judiciary to refrain as much as possible from denying the people the
do appear blurred. This is not to assert that there is absolutely no opportunity to make known their wishes on matters of the utmost
basis for such a conclusion, sustained as it is by a liberal construction import for the life of the nation, Constitutional amendments fall in
of the principle that underlies Aquino v. Commission on Elections as that category. I am fortified in that conviction by the teaching of
to the validity of the exercise of the legislative prerogative by the persuasive American decisions There is reinforcement to such a
President as long as the interim National Assembly is not For me, the conclusion from retired Chief Justice Concepcion's concurring and
stage of certitude has not been reached. I cannot simply ignore the dissenting opinion in Aytona v. Castillo,17 Which I consider
vigorous plea of petitioners that there is a constitutional deficiency applicable to the present situation. These are his words: "It is well
consisting in the absence of any constituent power on the part of settled that the granting of writs of prohibition and mandamus is
the President, the express provision of the Constitution conferring it ordinarily within the sound discretion of the courts, to be exercised
on the by team National Assembly. 27 The learned advocacy reflected on equitable principles, and that said writs should be issued when
in the pleadings as well as the oral discourse of Solicitor General the right to the relief is clear * * by As he noted in his ponencia in
Estelito P. Mendoza 21 failed to erase the grave doubts in my mind the later case of Gonzales v. Hechanova,19 an action for prohibition,
that the Aquino doctrine as to the possession of legislative while petitioner was sustained in his stand, no injunction was issued.
competence by the President during this period of transition with This was evident in the dispositive portion where judgment was
the interim lawmaking body not called into session be thus rendered "declaring that respondent Executive Secretary had and
expanded. The majority of my brethren took that step. I am not has no power to authorize the importation in question; that he
prepared to go that far. I will explain why. exceeded his jurisdiction in granting said authority; that said
importation is not sanctioned by law and is contrary to its provisions;
The way for me, is beset with obstacles. In the first place, such an and that, for lack of the requisite majority, the injunction prayed for
approach would lose sight of the distinction between matters must be and is, accordingly, denied." 40 With the illumination thus
legislative and constituent. That is implicit in the treatise on the supplied, it does not necessarily follow that even a dissent on my
1935 Constitution by Justices Malcolm and Laurel In their casebook part would necessarily compel that I vote for the relief prayed for.
published the same year, one of the four decisions on the subject of Certainly this is not to belittle in any way the action taken by
constitutional amendments is Ellingham v. Dye 31 which petitioners in filing these suits. That, for me, is commendable. It
categorically distinguished between constituent and legislative attests to their belief in the rule of law. Even if their contention as to
powers. Dean Sinco, a well-known authority on the subject, was lack of presidential power be accepted in their entirety, however,
quite explicit. Thus: "If there had been no express provision in the there is still discretion that may be exercised on the matter,
Constitution granting Congress the power to propose amendments, prohibition being an equitable remedy. There are, for me, potent
it would be outside its authority to assume that power. Congress considerations that argue against acceding to the plea. With the
may not claim it under the general grant of legislative power for prospect of the interim National Assembly being convened being
such grant does not carry with it the right 'to erect the state, dim, if not non- existent, if only because of the results in three
institute the form of its government,' which is considered a function previous referenda, there would be no constitutional agency other
inherent in the people. Congressional law- making authority is than the Executive who could propose amendments, which, as
limited to the power of approving the laws 'of civil conduct relating noted. may urgently press for adoption. Of even greater weight, to
to the details and particulars of the government instituted,' the my mind, is the pronouncement by the President that the plebiscite
government established by the people."12 If that distinction be is intended not only to solve a constitutional anomaly with the
preserved, then for me the aforecited Aquino decision does not country devoid of a legislative body but also to provide. the
reach the heart of the matter. Nor is this all. In the main opinion of machinery be which the termination of martial law could be
Justice Makasiar as well as that of the then Justice, now Chief hastened. That is a consummation devoutly to be wished. That does
Justice, Castro, support for the ruling that the President cannot be militate strongly against the stand of petitioners. The obstruction
deemed as devoid of legislative power during this transition stage is they would pose may be fraught with pernicious consequences. It
supplied by implications from explicit constitutional may not be amiss to refer anew to what I deem the cardinal
provisions. 13 That is not the case with the power to propose character of the jural postulate explicitly affirmed in both the 1935
amendments. It is solely the interim National Assembly that is and the present Constitutions that sovereignty resides in the people.
mentioned. That is the barrier that for me is well-nigh So I made clear in Tolentino v. Commission on Elections and
insurmountable. If I limit myself to entertaining doubts rather than thereafter in my dissent in Javellana v. The Executive Secretary" and
registering a dissent on this point, it is solely because of the my concurrence in Aquino v. Commission on Elections. 42 The
consideration, possessed of weight and significance, that there may destiny of the country lies in their keeping. The role of leadership is
be indeed in this far-from-quiescent and static period a need for al. not to be minimized. It is crucial it is of the essence. Nonetheless, it
amendments. I do not feel confident therefore that a negative vote is their will, if given expression in a manner sanctioned by law and
on my part would be warranted. What would justify the step taken with due care that there be no mistake in its appraisal, that should
by the President, even if no complete acceptance be accorded to the be controlling. There is all the more reason then to encourage their
view that he was a mere conduit of the barangays on this matter, is participation in the power process. That is to make the regime truly
that as noted in both qualified concurrences by Justices Teehankee democratic. Constitutional orthodoxy requires, however, that the
and Munoz Palma in Aquino, as far as the legislative and fundamental law be followed. So I would interpret
appropriately powers are concerned, is the necessity that unless Laski, 43 Corwin, 44 Lerner, 45, Bryn-Jones, 46 and McIver.47
such authority be recognized, there may be paralyzation of
governmental activities, While not squarely applicable, such an 7. There is reassurance in the thought that this Court has affirmed its
commitment to the principle that the amending process gives rise to
34
a justiciable rather than a political question. So, it has been since the of its views as anathema, Dissent, it is fortunate to note, has been
leading case of Gonzales v. Commission on Election S. 48 It has since encouraged. It has not been Identified with disloyalty. That ought to
then been followed in Tolentino v. Commission on Elections 49Planas be the case, and not solely due to presidential decrees. Constructive
v. Commission on Elections," and lastly, in Javellana v. The Executive criticism is to be welcomed not so much because of the right to be
Secretary This Court did not heed the vigorous plea of the Solicitor heard but because there may be something worth hearing. That is to
General to resurrect the political question doctrine announced in ensure a true ferment of Ideas, an interplay of knowledgeable
Mabanag v. Lopez Vito. 52This is not to deny that the federal rule in minds. There are though well- defined limits, One may not advocate
the United States as set forth in the leading case of Coleman v. disorder in the name of protest, much less preach rebellion under
Miller , 53 a 1939 decision, and relatively recent State court the cloak of dissent.. What I mean to stress is that except on a
decisions, supply ammunition to such a contention., 51 That may be showing of clear and present danger, there must be respect for the
the case in the United States, but certainly not in this jurisdiction. traditional liberties that make a society truly free.
Philippine constitutional tradition is to the contrary. It can trace its
origin to these words in the valedictory address before the 1934-35 TEEHANKEE, J., dissenting:
Constitutional Convention by the illustrious Claro M. Recto: "It is one
of the paradoxes a democracy that the people of times place more
1. On the merits: I dissent from the majority's dismissal of the
confidence in instrumentalities of the State other than those directly
petitions for lack of merit and vote to grant the petitions for the
chosen by them for the exercise of their sovereignty It can be said
following reasons and considerations: 1. It is undisputed that neither
with truth, therefore, that there has invariably been a judicial
the 1935 Constitution nor the 1973 Constitution grants to the
predisposition to activism rather than self-restraint. The thinking all
incumbent President the constituent power to propose and approve
these years has been that it goes to the heart of constitutionalism. It
amendments to the Constitution to be submitted to the people for
may be said that this Court has shunned the role of a mere
ratification in a plebiscite. The 1935 Constitution expressly vests the
interpreter; it did exercise at times creative power. It has to that
constituent power in Congress, be a three-fourths vote of all its
extent participated in the molding of policy, It has always recognized
members, to propose amendments or call a constitutional
that in the large and undefined field of constitutional law,
convention for the purpose The 1973 Constitution expressly vests
adjudication partakes of the quality of statecraft. The assumption
the constituent power in the regular National Assembly to propose
has been that just because it cannot by itself guarantee the
amendments (by a three-fourths vote of all its members) or "call a
formation, much less the perpetuation of democratic values or,
constitutional convention" (by a two-thirds vote of all its members)
realistically, it cannot prevail against the pressure of political forces
or "submit the question of calling such convention to the electorate
if they are bent in other directions. it does not follow that it should
in an election" (by a majority vote of all its members ) .2
not contribute its thinking to the extent that it can. It has been
asked, it will continue to be asked, to decide momentous questions
at each critical stage of this nation's life. The transitory provisions of the 1973 Constitution expressing vest
the constituent power during the period of transition in the interim
National Assembly "upon special call be the Prime Minister (the
There must be, however, this caveat. Judicial activism gives rise to
incumbent President 3)... by a majority ore of all its members (to)
difficulties in an era of transformation and change. A society in flux
propose amendments."
calls for dynamism in "he law, which must be responsive to the
social forces at work. It cannot remain static. It must be sensitive to
life. This Court then must avoid the rigidity of legal Ideas. It must Since the Constitution provides for the organization of the essential
resist the temptation of allowing in the wasteland of meaningless departments of government, defines and delimits the powers of
abstractions. It must face stubborn reality. It has to have a feel for each and prescribes the manner of the exercise of such powers, and
the complexities of the times. This is not to discount the risk that it the constituent power has not been granted to but has been
may be swept too far and too fast in the surge of novel concepts. withheld from the President or Prime Minister, it follows that the
The past too is entitled to a hearing; it cannot just be summarily President's questioned decrease proposing and submitting
ignored. History still has its uses. It is not for this Court to renounce constitutional amendments directly to the people (without the
the virtue of systematic jural consistency. It cannot simply yield to intervention of the interim National Assembly in whom the power is
the sovereign sway of the accomplished fact. It must be deaf to the expressly vested) are devoid of constitutional and legal basis.
dissonant dialectic of what appears to be a splintered society. It
should strive to be a factor for unity under a rule of law. There must 2. The doctrine in the leading case of Tolentino vs. Comelec is
be, on its part, awareness of the truth that a new juridical age born controlling in the case at bar In therein declaring null and void the
before its appointed time may be the cause of unprecedented travail acts of the 1971 Constitutional Convention and of the Comelec in
that may not end at birth. It is by virtue of such considerations that I calling a plebiscite with the general elections scheduled for
did strive for a confluence of principle and practicality. I must November 8, 1971 for the purpose of submitting for the people's
confess that I did approach the matter with some misgivings and ratification an advance amendment reducing the voting age from 21
certainly without any illusion of omniscience. I am comforted by the years to 18 years, and issuing writs of prohibition and injunction
thought that immortality does not inhere in judicial opinions. 8. 1 am against the holding of the plebiscite, this Court speaking through Mr.
thus led by my studies on the subject of constitutional law and, Justice Barredo ruled that --The Constitutional provisions on
much more so, by previous judicial opinions to concur in the amendments "dealing with the procedure or manner of amending
dismissal of the petitions. If I gave expression to byes not currently the fundamental law are binding upon the Convention and the other
fashionable, it is solely due to deeply-ingrained beliefs. Certainly, I departments of the government, (land) are no less binding upon the
am the first to recognize the worth of' the social and economic people
reforms so needed by the troubled present that have been
introduced and implemented. There is no thought then of As long as an amendment is formulated and
minimizing, much less of refusing to concede, the considerable submitted under the aegis of the present
progress that has been made and the benefits that have been Charter, any proposal for such amendment
achieved under this Administration. Again, to reiterate one of my which is not in conformity with the letter, spirit
cherished convictions, I certainly approve of the adherence to the and intent of the Charter for effecting
fundamental principle of popular sovereignty which, to be amendments, cannot receive the sanction of this
meaningful however, requires both freedom in its manifestation and Court ; 8
accuracy in ascertaining what it wills. Then, too, it is fitting and
proper that a distinction was made between two aspects of the
coming poll, the referendum and the plebiscite. It is only the latter The real issue here cannot be whether or not the amending process
that is impressed with authoritative force. So the Constitution delineated by the present Constitution may be disregarded in favor
requires. Lastly, there should be, as I did mention in my concurrence of allowing the sovereign people to express their decision on the
in Aquino v. Commission on Elections,56 full respect for free speech proposed amendments, if only because it is evident that the very
and press, free assembly and free association. There should be no Idea of departing from the fundamental law is anachronistic in the
thought of branding the opposition as the enemy and the expression realm of constitutionalism and repugnant to the essence of the rule
of law,"; 9 and
35
-Accordingly barred the plebiscite as improper and premature, since 6. It is not legally tenable for the majority, without overruling the
"the provisional nature of the proposed amendments and the controlling precedent of Tolentino (and without mustering the
manner of its submission to the people for ratification or rejection" required majority vote to so overrule) to accept the proposed;
did not "conform with the mandate of the people themselves in amendments as valid notwithstanding their being "not in conformity
such regard, as expressed in the Constitution itself', 10 i.e. the with the letter, spirit and intent of the provision of the Charter for
mandatory requirements of the amending process as set forth in the effecting amendments" on the reasoning that "If the President has
Article on Amendments. been legitimately discharging the legislative functions of the interim
National Assembly, there is no reason why he cannot validly
3. Applying the above rulings of Tolentino to the case at bar, discharge the functions."15
mutatis, mutandis, it is clear that where the proposed amendments
are violative of the Constitutional mandate on the amending process In the earlier leading case of Gonzales vs. Comelec 16, this Court
not merely for being a "partial amendment" of a "temporary or speaking through now retired Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion,
provisional character" (as in Tolentino) but more so for not being pointer out that "Indeed, the power to Congress" 17 or to the
proposed and approved by the department vested by the National Assembly.18 Where it not for the express grant in the
Constitution with the constituent power to do so, and hence Transitory Provisions of the constituent power to the interim
transgressing the substantive provision that it is only the interim National Assembly, the interim National Assembly could not claim
National Assembly, upon special call of the interim Prime Minister, the power under the general grant of legislative power during the
bu a majority vote of all its members that may propose the transition period.
amendments, the Court must declare the amendments proposals
null and void. The majority's ruling in the Referendum cases 19 that the Transitory
Provision in section 3(2) recognized the existence of the authority to
4. This is so because the Constitution is a "superior paramount law, legislate in favor of the incumbent President during the period of
unchangeable by ordinary means" 11 but only by the particular martial law manifestly cannot be stretched to encompass the
mode and manner prescribed therein by the people. As stressed by constituent power as expressly vested in the interim National
Cooley, "by the Constitution which they establish, (the people) not Assembly in derogation of the allotment of powers defined in the
only tie up the hands of their official agencies but their own hands as Constitution.
well; and neither the officers of the State, nor the whole people as
an aggregate body, are at liberty to take action in opposition to this Paraphrasing Cooley on the non-delegation of legislative power as
fundamental law." 12 one of the settled maxims of constitutional law, 20 the contituent
power has been lodged by the sovereign power of the people with
The vesting of the constituent power to propose amendments in the the interim National Assembly during the transition period and there
legislative body (the regular National Assembly) or the interim it must remain as the sole constitutional agency until the
National Assembly during the transition period) or in a constitutional Constitution itself is changed.
convention called for the purpose is in accordance with universal
practice. "From the very necessity of the case" Cooley points out As was aptly stated by Justice Jose P. Laurel in the 1936 landmak
"amendments to an existing constitution, or entire revisions of it, case of Angara vs. Electoral Commissioner 21, "(T)he Constitution sets
must be prepared and matured by some body of representatives forth in no uncertain language and restrictions and limitations upon
chosen for the purpose. It is obviously impossible for the whole governmental powers and agencies. If these restrictions and
people to meet, prepare, and discuss the proposed alterations, and limitations are transcended it would be inconceivable if the
there seems to be no feasible mode by which an expression of their Constitution had not provided for a mechanism by which to direct
will can be obtained, except by asking it upon the single point of the course of government along constitutional channels, for then the
assent or disapproval." This body of representatives vested with the distribution of powers sentiment, and the principles of good
constituent - power "submits the result of their deliberations" and government mere political apothegms. Certainly, the limitations and
"puts in proper form the questions of amendment upon which the restrictions embodied in our Constitution are real as they should be
people are to pass"-for ratification or rejection. 13 in any living Constitution".

5. The Court in Tolentino thus rejected the argument "that the end 7. Neither is the justification of "constitutional impasses" tenable.
sought to be achieved is to be desired" and in denying The sentiment of the people against the convening of the interim
reconsideration in paraphrase of the late Claro M. Recto declared National Assembly and to have no elections for "at least seven (7)
that "let those who would put aside, invoking grounds at best years" Concededly could not ament the Constitution insofar as the
controversial, any mandate of the fundamental purportedly in order interim National Assembly is concerned (since it admittendly came
to attain some laudable objective bear in mind that someday into existence "immediately" upon the proclamation of ratification
somehow others with purportedly more laudable objectives may of the 1973 Constitution), much less remove the constituent power
take advantage of the precedent and continue the destruction of the from said interim National Assembly.
Constitution, making those who laid down the precedent of
justifying deviations from the requirements of the Constitution the
As stressed in the writer's separate opinion in the Referendum
victims of their own folly."
cases 22, "(W)hile it has been advanced that the decision to defer the
initial convocation of the interim National Assembly was supported
This same apprehension was echoed by now retired Justice Calixto by the results of the referendum in January, 1973 when the people
O. Zaldivar in his dissenting opinion in the Ratification cases 14 that voted against the convening of the interim National Assembly for at
"we will be opening the gates for a similar disregard to the least seven years, such sentiment cannot be given any legal force
Constitution in the future. What I mean is that if this Court now and effect in the light of the State's admission at the hearing that
declares that a new Constitution is now in force because the such referendums are merely consultative and cannot amend the
members of the citizens assemblies had approved said new Constitution or Provisions which call for the 'immediate existence'
Constitution, although that approval was not in accordance with the and 'initial convening of the interim National Assembly to 'give
procedure and the requirements prescribed in the 1935 priority to measures for the orderly transition from the presidential
Constitution, it can happen again in some future time that some to the parliamentary system' and the other urgent measures
amendments to the Constitution may be adopted, even in a manner enumerated in section 5 thereof".
contrary to the existing Constitution and the law, and then said
proposed amendments is submitted to the people in any manner
While the people reportedly expressed their mandate against the
and what will matter is that a basis is claimed that there was
convening of the interim National Assembly to dischange its
approval by the people. There will not be stability in our
legislative tasks during the period of transition under martial law,
constitutional system, and necessarily no stability in our
they certainly had no opportunity and did not express themselves
government."
against convening the interim National Assembly to discharge the

36
constituent power to propose amendments likewise vested in it by As Mr. Justice Fernando emphasized for this Court in Mutuc vs.
the people's mandate in the Constitution. Comelec 29 in the setting as in of a Comelec resolution banning the
use of political taped jingles by candidates for Constitutional
In point of fact, when the holding of the October 16, 1976 Convention delegates int he special 1970 elections, "the concept of
referendum was first announced, the newspapers reported that the Constitution as the fundamental law, setting forth the criterion
among the seven questions proposed by the sanggunian and for the validity of any public act whether proceeding from the
barangay national executive committies for the referendum was the highest official or the lowest functionary, is a postulate of our
convening of the interim National Assembly. 23 system of government. That is to amnifst fealty to the rule of law,
with priority accorded to that which occupies the topmost rung in
the legal heirarchy. The three departments of government in the
It was further reported that the proposals which were termed
discharge of the functions with which it is entrusted have no choice
tentative "will be discussed and studied by (the President), the
but to yield obedience to its commands. Whatever limits it imposes
members of the cabinet, and the security council" and that the
must be observed. Congress in the enactment of statutes must ever
barangays felt, notwithstanding the previous referenda on the
be on guart lest the restrictions on its authority, whether substantive
convening of the interim National Assembly that "it is time to again
or formal, be transcended. The Presidency in the execution of the
ask the people's opinion of this matter " 24
laws cannot ignore of disregard what it ordains. In its task of
applying the law to the facts as found in deciding cases, the judiciary
8. If proposals for constitutional amendments are now deemed is called upon the maintain inviolate what is decreed by the
necessary to be discussed and adopted for submittal to the people, fundamental law."
strict adherence with the mandatory requirements of the amending
process as provided in the Constitution must be complied with. This
This is but to give meaning to the plan and clear mandate of section
means, under the teaching of Tolentino that the proposed
15 of the Transitory Provisions (which allows of no other
amendments must validly come from the constitutional agency
interpretation) that during the stage of transition the interim
vested with the constituent power to do so, namely, the interim
National Assembly alone exercises the constituent power to propose
National Assembly, and not from the executive power as vested in
amendments, upon special call therefor. This is reinforced by the
the Prime Minister (the incumbent President) with the assistance of
fact that the cited section does not grant to the regular National
the Cabinet 25 from whom such power has been withheld.
Assembly of calling a constitutional convention, thus expressing the
will of the Convention (and presumably of the people upon
It will not do to contend that these proposals represent the voice of ratification) that if ever the need to propose amendments arose
the people for as was aptly stated by Cooley "Me voice of the during the limited period of transition, the interim National
people, acting in their sovereign capacity, can be of legal force only Assembly alone would discharge the task and no constitutional
when expressed at the times and under the conditions which they convention could be call for the purpose.
themselves have prescribed and pointed out by the Constitution. ...
."26
As to the alleged costs involved in convening the interim National
Assembly to propose amendments, among them its own abolition,
The same argument was put forward and rejected by this Court in (P24 million annually in salaries alone for its 400 members at
Tolentino which rejected the contention that the "Convention being P600,000.00 per annum per member, assuming that its deliberations
a legislative body of the highest order (and directly elected by the could last for one year), suffice it to recall this Court's
people to speak their voice) is sovereign, in as such, its acts pronouncement in Tolentino (in reflecting a similar argument on the
impugned by petitioner are beyond the control of Congress and the costs of holding a plebiscite separately from the general elections for
Courts" and ruled that the constitutional article on the amending elective officials) that "it is a matter of public knowledge that bigger
process" is nothing more than a part of the Constitution thus amounts have been spent or thrown to waste for many lesser
ordained by the people. Hence, in continuing said section, We must objectives. ... Surely, the amount of seventeen million pesos or even
read it as if the people said, "The Constitution may be amended, but more is not too much a price to pay for fealty and loyalty to the
it is our will that the amendment must be proposed and submitted Constitution ... " 30 and that "while the financial costs of a separate
to Us for ratification only in the manner herein provided'". 27 plebiscite may be high, it can never be as much as the dangers
involved in disregarding clear mandate of the Constitution, no
This Court therein stressed that "This must be so, because it is plain matter how laudable the objective" and "no consideration of
to Us that the framers of the Constitution took care that the process financial costs shall deter Us from adherence to the requirements of
of amending the same should not be undertaken with the same ease the Constitution".11
and facility in changing an ordinary legislation. Constitution making
is the most valued power, second to none, of the people in a 10. The imposition of martial law (and "the problems of rebellion,
constitutional democracy such as the one our founding fathers have subversion, secession, recession, inflation and economic crisis a
chosen for this nation, and which we of the succeeding generations crisis greater than war") 32 cited by the majority opinion as justifying
generally cherish. And because the Constitution affects the lives, the concentration of powers in the President, and the recognition
fortunes, future and every other conceivable aspect of the lives of all now of his exercising the constituent power to propose amendments
the people within the country and those subject to its sovereignity, to the Fundamental Law "as agent for and in behalf of the
ever constitution worthy of the people for which it is intended must people" 33 has no constitutional basis.
not be prepared in haste without adequate deliberation and study. It
is obvious that correspondingly, any amendment of the Constitution
In the post-war Emergency Powers 33*, former Chief Justice Ricardo
is of no less importance than the whole Constitution itself, and
Paras reaffirmed for the Court the principle that emergency in itself
perforce must be conceived and prepared with as much care and
cannot and should not create power. In our democracy the hope and
deliberation;" and that "written constitutions are supposed to be
survival of the nation lie in the wisdom and unselfish patriotism of all
designed so as to last for some time, if not for ages, or for, at least,
officials and in their faithful 'Adherence to the Constitution".
as long as they can be adopted to the needs and exigencies of the
people, hence, they must be insulated against precipitate and hasty
actions motivated by more or less passing political moods or fancies. The martial law clause of the 1973 Constitution found in Article IX,
Thus, as a rule, the original constitutions carry with them limitations section 12 , as stressed by the writer in his separate opinion in the
and conditions, more or less stringent, made so by the people Referendum Cases,14 "is a verbatim reproduction of Article VII,
themselves, in regard to the process of their amendment." 28 section 10 (2) of the 1935 Constitution and provides for the
imposition of martial law only 'in case of invasion, resurrection or
rebellion, or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety
9. The convening of the interim National Assembly to exercise the
requires it and hence the use of the legislative power or more
constituent power to proposed amendments is the only way to fulfill
accurately 'military power' under martial rule is limited to such
the express mandate of the Constitution.
necessary measures as will safeguard the Republic and suppress the
rebellion (or invasion)". 35
37
11. Article XVII, section 3 (2) of the 1973 Constitution which has II. On the question of the Court's jurisdiction to pass upon the
been held by the majority in the Referendum Cases to be the constitutionality of the questioned presidential decrees: let it be
recognition or warrant for the exercise of legislative power by the underscored that the Court has long set at rest the question.
President during the period of martial law is but a transitory
provision. Together with the martial law clause, they constitute but The trail was blazed for the Court since the benchmark case of
two provisions which are not to be considered in isolation from the Angara vs. Electoral Commission when Justice Jose P. Laurel echoed
Constitution but as mere integral parts thereof which must be U.S. Chief Justice Marshall's "climactic phrase" that "we must never
harmonized consistently with the entire Constitution. forget that it is a Constitution we are expounding" and declared the
Court's "solemn and sacred" constitutional obligation of judicial
As Cooley restated the rule: "effect is to be given, if possible, to the review and laid down the doctrine that the Philippine Constitution as
whole instrument, and to every section and clause. If different "a definition of the powers of government" placed upon the
portions seem to conflict, the courts must harmonize them, if judiciary the great burden of "determining the nature, scope and
practicable, and must lean in favor of a construction which will extent of such powers" and stressed that "when the judiciary
render every word operative, rather than one which may make mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert
some words Idle and nugatory. any superiority over the other departments . . . but only asserts the
solemn and sacred obliteration entrusted to it by the Constitution to
This rule is applicable with special force to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and
written constitutions, in which the people will be to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which
presumed to have expressed themselves in the instrument secures and guarantees to them".
careful and measured terms, corresponding with
the immense importance of the powers At the same time, the Court likewise adhered to the constitutional
delegated, leaving as little as possible to tenet that political questions, i.e. questions which are intended by
implication. It is scarcelly conceivable that a case the Constitutional and relevant laws to be conclusively determined
can arise where a court would bye justified in by the "political", i.e. branches of government (namely, the
declaring any portion of a written constitution Executive and the Legislative) are outside the Court's jurisdiction. 41
nugatory because of ambiguity. One part may
qualify another so as to restrict its operation, or Thus, in Gonzales, 42 (by a unanimous Court) and in Tolentino 43 (by
apply it otherwise than the natural construction the required constitutional majority), the Court has since
would require if it stood by itself; but one part is consistently ruled that when proposing and approving amendments
not to be allowed to defeat another, if by any to the Constitution, the members of Congress. acting as a
reasonable construction the two can be made to constituent assembly or the members of the Constitutional
stand together. 36 Convention elected directly for the purpose by not have the final say
on whether or not their acts are within or beyond constitutional
The transcendental constituent power to propose and approve limits. Otherwise, they could brush aside and set the same at
amendments to the Constitution as well as set up the machinery and naught, contrary to the basic tenet that outs is it government of
prescribe the procedure for the ratification of his proposals has been lawsom not of men, and to the rigid nature of our Constitution. Such
withheld from the President (Prime Minister) as sole repository of rigidity is stressed by the fact that, the Constitution expressly
the Executive Power, presumably in view of the immense powers confers upon the Supreme Court, the power to declare a treaty
already vested in him by the Constitution but just as importantly, unconstitutional, despite the eminently political character of treaty-
because by the very nature of the constituent power, such making power". 44
amendments proposals have to be prepared, deliberated and
matured by a deliberative assembly of representatives such as the As amplified by former Chief Justice Concepcion in Javellana vs
interim National Assembly and hence may not be antithetically Executive Secretary 45 (by a majority vote), "when the grant of
entrusted to one man. power is qualified, conditional or subject to limitations. the issue on
whether or not the prescribed qualifications or conditions have been
Former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion had observed before the met, or the limitations by expected, is justiciable or non-political, the
elevation of the l971 Constitutional Convention that the records of crux of the problem being one of legality or validity of the contested
past plebiscites show that the constitutional agency vested with the act, not its wisdom Otherwise, said qualifications, conditions and
exercise of the constituent power (Congress or the Constitutional limitations-particularly those prescribed or imposed by the
Convention) really determined the amendments to the Constitution Constitution would be set at naught".
since the proposals were invariably ratified by the people 37 thus:
"although the people have the reserved power to ratify or reject the The fact that the proposed amendments are to be submitted to the
action taken by the Convention, such power is not, in view of the people for ratification by no means makes the question political and
circumstances attending its exercise, as effective as one might non- justiciable since as stressed even in Javellana the issue of
otherwise think: that, despite the requisite ratification by the validity of the President's proclamation of ratification of the
people, the actual contents of our fundamental law will really be Constitution presented a justiciable and non-political question
determined by the Convention; that, accordingly the people should
exercise the greatest possible degree of circumspection in the
Stated otherwise, the question of whether the Legislative acting as a
election of delegates thereto ... " 38
constituent assembly or the Constitutional Convention called fol- the
purpose, in proposing amendments to the people for ratification
12. Martial law concededly does not abrogate the Constitution nor followed the constitutional procedure and on the amending process
obliterate its constitutional boundaries and allocation of powers is perforce a justiciable question and does not raise a political
among the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Departments. 39 question of police or wisdom of the proposed amendments, which if
Submitted, are reserved for the people's decision.
It has thus been aptly observed that "Martial law is an emergency
regime, authorized by and subject to the Constitution. Its basic The substantive question presented in the case at bar of whether
premise is to preserve and to maintain the Republic against the the President may legally exercise the constituent power vested in
dangers that threaten it. Such premise imposes constraints and the interim National Assembly (which has not been granted to his
limitations. For the martial law regime fulfills the constitutional office) and propose constitutional amendments is preeminently a
purpose only if, by reason of martial law measures, the Republic is justiciable issue.
preserved. If by reason of such measures the Republic is so
transformed that it is changed in its nature and becomes a State
Justice Laurel in Angara had duly enjoined that "in times of social
other than republican, then martial law is a failure; worse, martial
disquietude or political excitement, the great landmarks of the
law would have become the enemy of the Republic rather than its
Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if not entirely
defender and preserver."40
38
obliterated. In cases of conflict, the judicial department is the only should strain every effort to inform every citizen
constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the of the provisions to be amended, and the
proper allocation of powers between the several departments and proposed amendments and the meaning, nature
among the integral or constituent units thereof". and effects thereof. By this, we are not to be
understood as saying that, if one citizen or 100
To follow the easy way out by disclaiming jurisdiction over the issue citizens or 1,000 citizens cannot be reached,
as a political question would be judicial abdication. then there is no submission within the meaning
of the word as intended by the framers of the
Constitution. What the Constitution in effect
III. On the question of whether there is a sufficient and proper
directs is that the government, in submitting an
submittal of the proposed amendments to the people: Prescinding
amendment for ratification, should put every
from the writer's view of the nullity of the questioned decree of lack
instrumentality or agency within its structural
of authority on the President's part to excercise the constituent
framework to enlighten the people, educate
power, I hold that the doctrine of fair and proper submission first
them with respect to their act of ratification or
enunciated by a simple majority of by Justices in Gonzales and
rejection. For, as we have earlier stated, one
subsequently officially adopted by the required constitutional two-
thing is submission and another is ratification.
thirds majority of the Court in is controlling in the case at bar.
There must be fair submission, intelligent.
consent or rejection. If with all these safeguards
1. There cannot be said to be fair and proper submission of the the people still approve the amendment no
proposed amendments. As ruled by this Court in Tolentino where matter how prejudicial it is to them, then so be
"the proposed amendment in question is expressly saddled with it. For the people decree their own fate. 48
reservations which naturally impair, in great measures, its very
essence as a proposed constitutional amendment" and where "the
Justice Sanchez therein ended the passage with an apt citation that "
way the proposal is worded, read together with the reservations
... " The great men who builded the structure of our state in this
tacked to it by the Convention thru Section 3 of the questioned
respect had the mental vision of a good Constitution voiced by Judge
resolution, it is too much of a speculation to assume what exactly
Cooley, who has said 'A good Constitution should be beyond the
the amendment would really amount lo in the end. All in all, as
reach of temporary excitement and. popular caprice or passion. It is
already pointed out in our discussion of movants' first ground, if this
needed for stability and steadiness; it must yield to the thought of
kind of amendment is allowed, the Philippines will appear before the
the people; not to the whim of the people, or the thought evolved in
world to be in the absurd position of being the only country with a
excitement or hot blood, but the sober second thought, which alone,
constitution containing a provision so ephemeral no one knows until
if the government is to be safe, can be allowed efficiency. xxx xxx xxx
when it will bet actually in force", there can be no proper
Changes in government are to be feared unless the benefit is
submission.
certain. As Montaign says: All great mutations shake and disorder
state. Good does not necessarily succeed evil ;another evil may
In Tolentino a solitary amendment reducing the voting age to 18 succeed and a worse'." 49
years was struck down by this Court which ruled that "in order that a
plebiscite for the ratification of an amendment to the Constitution
Justice Sanchez thus stated the rule that has been adopted by the
may be validly held, it must provide the voter not only sufficient
Court in Tolentino that there is no proper submission "if the people
time but ample basis for an intelligent appraisal of the nature of the
are not sufficiently affirmed of the amendments to be voted upon,
amendment per se as well as its relation to the other parts of the
to conscientiously deliberate thereon, to express their will in a
Constitution with which it has to form a harmonious whole," and
genuine manner. ... .." 50
that there was no proper Submission wherein the people are in the
dark as to frame of reference they can base their judgment on
3. From the complex and complicated proposed amendments set
forth in the challenged decree and the plethora of confused and
2. The now Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Makasiar with two other
confusing clarifications reported in the daily newspapers, it is
members 46 graphically pointed out in their joint separate opinion
manifest that there is no proper submission of the proposed
that the solitary question "would seem to be uncomplicated and
amendments. Nine (9) proposed constitutional amendments were
innocuous. But it is one of life's verities that things which appear to
officially proposed and made known as per Presidential Decree No.
be simple may turn out not to be so simple after all". 47
1033 dated, September 22, 1976 for submittal at the "referendum-
plebiscite" called for this coming Saturday, October 16, 1976
They further expressed "essential agreement" with Mr. Justice wherein the 15-year and under 18-year- olds are enjoined to vote
Conrado V. Sanchez' separate opinion in Gonzales "on the minimum notwithstanding their lack of qualification under Article VI of the
requirements that must be met in order that there can be a proper Constitution. Former Senator Arturo Tolentino, an acknowledged
submission to the people of a proposed constitutional amendment" parliamentarian of the highest order, was reported by the
which reads thus: newspapers last October 3 to have observed that "there is no
urgency in approving the proposed amendments to the Constitution
... we take the view that the words 'submitted to and suggested that the question regarding charter changes be
the people for their ratification', if construed in modified instead of asking the people to vote on hurriedly prepared
the light of the nature of the Constitution a amendments". He further pointed out that "apart from lacking the
fundamental charter that is legislation direct parliamentary style in the body of the Constitution, they do not
from the people, an expression of their indicate what particular provisions are being repealed or
sovereign will - is that it can only be amended by amended". 52
the people expressing themselves according to
the procedure ordained by the Constitution. As of this writing, October 11, 1976, the paper today reported his
Therefore, amendments must be fairly laid seven-page analysis questioning among others the proposed
before the people for their blessing or spurning. granting of dual legislative powers to both the President and the
The people are not to be mere rubber stamps. Batasang Pambansa and remarking that "This dual legislative
They are not to vote blindly. They must be authority can give rise to confusion and serious constitutional
afforded ample opportunity to mull over the questions". 53
original provisions, compare them with the
proposed amendments, and try to reach a
Aside from the inadequacy of the limited time given for the people's
conclusion as the dictates of their conscience
consideration of the proposed amendments, there can be no proper
suggest, free from the incubus of extraneous or
submission because the proposed amendments are not in proper
possibly insidious influences. We believe the
form and violate the cardinal rule of amendments of written
word submitted' can only mean that the
constitutions that the specific provisions of the Constitution being
government, within its maximum capabilities,
39
repealed or amended as well as how the specific provisions as Indeed, the voice of the studentry as reflected in the editorial of the
amended would read, should be clearly stated in careful and Philippine Collegian issue of September 23, 1976 comes as a
measured terms. There can be no proper submission because the welcome and refreshing model of conscientious deliberation, as our
vagueness and ambiguity of the proposals do not sufficiently inform youth analyzes the issues "which will affect generations yet to
the people of the amendments for, conscientious deliberation and come" and urge the people to mull over the pros and cons very
intelligent consent or rejection. carefully", as follows:

4. While the press and the Solicitor General at the hearing have THE REFERENDUM ISSUES
stated that the principal thrust of the proposals is to substitute the
interim National Assembly with an interim Batasang Pambansa, a On October 16, the people may be asked to
serious study thereof in detail would lead to the conclusion that the decide on two important national issues - the
whole context of the 1973 Constitution proper would be affected creation of a new legislative body and the lifting
and grave amendments and modifications thereof -would of martial law.
apparently be made, among others, as follows:
On the first issue, it is almost sure that the
Under Amendment No. 1, the qualification age of members of the interim National Assembly will not be convened,
interim Batasang Pambansa is reduced to 18 years; primarily because of its membership. Majority of
the members of the defunct Congress, who are
Under Amendment No. 2, the treaty-concurring power of the mandated by the Constitution to become
Legislature is withheld from the interim Batasang Pambansa; members of the interim National Assembly, have
gained so widespread a notoriety that the mere
Under Amendment No 3, not withstanding the convening of the mention of Congress conjures the image of a den
interim Batasang Pambansa within 30 days from the election and of thieves who are out to fool the people most of
selection of the members (for which there is no fixed date) the the time. Among the three branches of
incumbent President apparently becomes a regular President and government, it was the most discredited. In fact,
Prime Minister (not ad interim); upon the declaration of martial law, some
people were heard to mutter that a 'regime that
has finally put an end to such congressional
Under Amendment No. 4, the disqualifications imposed on members
shenanigans could not be all that bad'.
of the Cabinet in the Constitution such as the prohibition against the
holding of more than one office in the government including
government-owned or -controlled corporations would appear to be A substitute legislative body is contemplated to
eliminated, if not prescribed by the President; help the President in promulgating laws, and
perhaps minimize the issuance of ill-drafted
decrees which necessitate constant
Under Amendment No. 5, the President shall continue to exercise
amendments. But care should be taken that this
legislative powers until martial law is lifted;
new legislative body would not become a mere
rubber stamp akin to those of other totalitarian
Under Amendment No. 6, there is a duality of legislative authority countries. It should be given real powers,
given the President and the interim Batasang Pambansa as well as otherwise we will just have another nebulous
the regular National Assembly, as pointed out by Senator Tolentino, creation having the form but lacking the
with the President continuing to exercise legislative powers in case substance. Already the President has expressed
of "grave emergency or a threat or imminence thereof" (without the desire that among the powers he would like
definition of terms) or when said Assemblies "fail or are unable to to have with regard to the proposed legislative
act adequately on any matter for any reason that in his judgment body is that of abolishing it in case 'there is a
requires immediate action", thus radically affecting provisions of the need to do so'. As to what would occasion such a
Constitution governing the said departments; need, only the President himself can determine.
This would afford the Chief Executive almost
Under Amendment No. 7, the barangays and Sanggunians would total power over the legislature, for he could
apparently be constitutionalized, although their functions, power always offer the members thereof a carrot and a
and composition may be altered by law. Referendums (which are stick.
not authorized in the present 1973 Constitution) would also be
constitutionalized, giving rise to the possibility fraught with grave On the matter of lifting martial law the people
consequences, as acknowledged at the hearing, that amendments to have expressed ambivalent attitudes. Some of
the Constitution may thereafter be effected by referendum, rather them, remembering the turmoil that prevailed
than by the rigid and strict amending process provided presently in before the declaration of martial law, have
Article XVI of the Constitution; expressed the fear that its lifting might
precipitate the revival of the abuses of the past,
Under Amendment No. 8, there is a general statement in general and provide an occasion for evil elements to
that the unspecified provisions of the Constitution "not inconsistent resurface with their usual tricks. Others say that
with any of these amendments" shall continue in full force and it is about time martial law was lifted since the
effect; and Under Amendment No. 9. the incumbent President is peace and order situation has already stabilized
authorized to proclaim the ratification of the amendments by the and the economy seems to have been parked up.
majority of votes cast. It has likewise been stressed by the officials
concerned that the proposed amendments come in a package and The regime of martial law has been with us for
may not be voted upon separately but on an "all or nothing" basis. four years now. No doubt, martial law has
initially secured some reforms for the country
5. Whether the people can normally express their will in a genuine The people were quite willing to participate in
manner and with due circumspection on the proposed amendments the new experiment, thrilled by the novelty of it
amidst the constraints of martial law is yet another question. That a all. After the euphoria, however, the people
period of free debate and discussion has to be declared of itself seem to have gone back to the old ways, with
shows the limitations on free debate and discussion. The facilities for the exception that some of our freedoms were
free debate and discussion over the mass media, print and taken away, and an authoritarian regime
otherwise are wanting. The President himself is reported to have established.
observed the timidity of the media under martial law and to have
directed the press to air the views of the opposition. 54
40
We must bear in mind that martial law was The writer with Mr. Justice Makasiar and Madame Justice Munoz
envisioned only to cope with an existing national Palma had dissented from the majority resolution, with all due
crisis, It was not meant to be availed of for a long respect, on the ground that the non-participation of judges in such
period of time, otherwise it would undermine public discussions and debates on the referendum-plebiscite
our adherence to a democratic form of questions would preserve the traditional non-involvement of the
government. In the words of the Constitution. judiciary in public discussions of controversial issues. This is essential
martial law shall only be declared in times of for the maintenance and enhancement of the people's faith and
'rebellion, insurrection,. invasion, or imminent confidence in the judiciary. The questions of the validity of the
danger thereof, when the public safety requires scheduled referendum- plebiscite and of whether there is proper
it'. Since we no longer suffer from internal submission of the proposed amendments were precisely subjudice
disturbances of a gargantuan scale, it is about by virtue of the cases at bar.
time we seriously rethink the 'necessity' of
prolonging the martial law regime. If we justify The lifting of the traditional inhibition of judges from public
the continuance of martial by economic or other discussion and debate might blemish the image and independence
reasons other than the foregoing constitutional of the judiciary. Aside from the fact that the fixing of a time limit for
grounds, then our faith in the Constitution might the acceptance of their courtesy resignations to avoid an indefinite
be questioned. Even without martial law,. the state of insecurity of their tenure in office still spends litigants and
incumbent Chief Executive still holds vast powers their relatives and friends as well as a good sector of the public
under the constitution. After all, the gains of the would be hesitant to air views contrary to that of the.
New Society can be secured without sacrificing
the freedom of our people. If the converse is
Judge. Justices Makasiar and Munoz Palma who share these views
true, then we might have to conclude that the
have agreed that we make them of record here, since we
Filipinos deserve a dictatorial form of
understand that the permission given in the resolution is
government. The referendum results will show
nevertheless addressed to the personal decision and conscience of
whether the people themselves have adopted
each judge, and these views may he of some guidance to them.
this sad conclusion.

BARREDO, J.,: concurring:


The response of the people to the foregoing
issues will affect generations yet to come, so
they should mull over the pros and cons very While I am in full agreement with the majority of my brethren that
carefully." the herein petitions should be dismissed, as in fact I vote for their
dismissal, I deem it imperative that I should state separately the
considerations that have impelled me to do so.
6. This opinion by written in the same spirit as the President's
exhortations on the first anniversary of proclamation of the 1973
Constitution that we "let the Constitution remain firm and stable" so Perhaps, it is best that I should start by trying to disabuse the minds
that it may "guide the people", and that we "remain steadfast on the of those who have doubts as to whether or not I should have taken
rule of law and the Constitution" as he recalled his rejection of the part in the consideration and resolution of these cases. Indeed, it
"exercise (of) power that can be Identified merely with a would not be befitting my position in this Highest Tribunal of the
revolutionary government" that makes its own law, thus: land for me to leave unmentioned the circumstances which have
given cause, I presume, for others to feel apprehensive that my
participation in these proceedings might detract from that degree of
. . . Whoever he may be and whatever position
faith in the impartiality that the Court's judgment herein should
he may happen to have, whether in government
ordinarily command. In a way, it can be said, of course, that I am the
or outside government, it is absolutely necessary
one most responsible for such a rather problematical situation, and
now that we look solemnly and perceptively into
it is precisely for this reason that I have decided to begin this opinion
the Constitution and try to discover for ourselves
with a discussion of why I have not inhibited myself, trusting most
what our role is in the successful implementation
confidently that what I have to say will be taken in the same spirit of
of that Constitution. With this thought,
good faith, sincerity and purity of purpose in which I am resolved to
therefore, we can agree on one thing and that is:
offer the same.
Let all of us age, let all of us then pass away as a
pace in the development of our country. but let
the Constitution remain firm and stable and let Plain honesty dictates that I should make of record here the
institutions grow in strength from day to day, pertinent contents of the official report of the Executive Committee
from achievement to achievement, and so long of the Katipunan ng mga Sanggunian submitted to the Katipunan
as that Constitution stands, whoever may the itself about the proceedings held on August 14, 1976. It is stated in
man in power be, whatever may his purpose be, that public document that:
that Constitution will guide the people and no
man, however, powerful he may be, will dare to THE ISSUE WITH REGARDS To THE CONVENING
destroy and wreck the foundation of such a OF A LEGISLATIVE body came out when the
Constitution. President express his desire to share his powers
with other people.
These are the reasons why I personally, having
proclaimed martial law, having been often Aware of this, a five-man Committee members of the Philippine
induced to exercise power that can be Identified Constitution Association (PHILCONSA) headed by Supreme Court
merely with a revolutionary government, have Justice Antonio Barredo proposed on July 28, the establishment of
remained steadfast or the rule of law and the 'Sangguniang Pambansa' or 'Batasang Pambansa' which would help
Constitution. 54* the President in the performance of his legislative functions. The
proposed new body will take the place of the interim National
IV. A final word on the Court's resolution of October 5, 1976 which in Assembly which is considered not practical to convene at this time
reply to the Comelec query allowed by a vote of 7 to 3, judges of all considering the constitution of its membership.
courts, after office hours, "to accept invitations to act as resource
speakers under Section 5 of Presidential Decree No. 991, as Upon learning the proposal of Justice Barredo, the country's 42,000
amended, as well as to take sides in discussions and debates on the barangay assemblies on August 1 suggested that the people be
referendum-plebiscite questions under Section 7 of the same consulted on a proposal to create a new legislative body to replace
Decree." 55 the interim assembly provided for by the Constitution. The
suggestion of the barangay units was made through their national
41
association, Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Barangay headed by I must hasten to add at this point, however, that in a larger sense,
Mrs. Nora Z. Patines. She said that the people have shown in at least the initiative for all I have done, was not altogether mine alone. The
six instances including in the two past referenda that they are truth of the matter is that throughout the four years of this martial
against the convening of the interim National Assembly. She also law government, it has always been my faith, as a result of casual
said that since the people had ruled out the calling of such assembly and occasional exchanges of thought with President Marcos, that
and that they have once proposed that the President create instead when the appropriate time does come, the President would
the Sangguniang Pambansa or a legislative advisory body, then the somehow make it known that in his judgment, the situation has
proposal to create a new legislative must necessarily be referred to already so improved as to permit the implementation, if gradual, of
the people. the constitutionally envisioned evolution of our government from its
present state to a parliamentary one. Naturally, this would inevitably
The federation of Kabataang Barangay, also numbering 42,000 units involve the establishment of a legislative body to replace the
like their elder counterparts in the Katipunan ng mga Barangay also abortive interim National Assembly. I have kept tract of all the public
asserted their own right to be heard on whatever plans are afoot to and private pronouncements of the President, and it was the result
convene a new legislative body. of my reading thereof that furnished the immediate basis for my
virtually precipitating, in one way or another, the materialization of
the forthcoming referendum-plebiscite. In other words, in the final
On August 6, a meeting of the national directorate of PKB was held
analysis, it was the President's own attitude on the matter that
to discuss matters pertaining to the stand of the PKB with regards to
made it opportune for me to articulate my own feelings and Ideas as
the convening of a new legislative body. The stand of the PKB is to
to how the nation can move meaningfully towards normalization
create a legislative advisory council in place of the old assembly. Two
and to publicly raise the issues that have been ventilated by the
days after, August 8, the Kabataang Barangay held a symposium and
parties in the instant cases.
made a stand which is the creation of a body with full legislative
powers.
I would not be human, if I did not consider myself privileged in
having been afforded by Divine Providence the opportunity to
A nationwide clamor for the holding of meeting in their respective
contribute a modest share in the formulation of the steps that
localities to discuss more intellegently the proposal to create a new
should lead ultimately to the lifting of martial law in our country.
legislative body was made by various urban and rural Sangguniang
Indeed, I am certain every true Filipino is anxiously looking forward
Bayans.
to that eventuality. And if for having voiced the sentiments of our
people, where others would have preferred to be comfortably silent,
Numerous requests made by some members coming from 75 and if for having made public what every Filipino must have been
provincial and 61 city SB assemblies, were forwarded to the feeling in his heart all these years, I should be singled out as
Department of Local Government and Community Development entertaining such preconceived opinions regarding the issues before
(DLGCD). the Court in the cases at bar as to preclude me from taking part in
their disposition, I can only say that I do not believe there is any
On August 7, Local Government Secretary, Jose A. Rono granted the other Filipino in and out of the Court today who is not equally
request by convening the 91 member National Executive Committee situated as I am .
of the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Sanggunian on August 14
which was held at Session Hall, Quezon City. Invited also to The matters that concern the Court in the instant petitions do not
participate were 13 Regional Federation Presidents each coming involve merely the individual interests of any single person or group
from the PKB and the PKKB of persons. Besides, the stakes in these cases affect everyone
commonly, not individually. The current of history that has passed
Actually, the extent of my active participation in the events and through the whole country in the wake of martial law has swept all
deliberations that have culminated in the holding of the proposed of us, sparing none, and the problem of national survival and of
referendum- plebiscite on October 16, 1976, which petitioners are restoring democratic institutions and Ideals is seeking solution in the
here seeking to enjoin, has been more substantial and meaningful minds of all of us. That I have preferred to discuss publicly my own
than the above report imparts. Most importantly, aside from being thoughts on the matter cannot mean that my colleagues in the Court
probably the first person to publicly articulate the need for the have been indifferent and apathetic about it, for they too are
creation of an interim legislative body to take the place of. the Filipinos. Articulated or not, all of us must have our own
interim National Assembly provided for in the Transitory Provisions preconceived Ideas and notions in respect to the situation that
of the Constitution, as suggested in the above report, I might say confronts the country. To be sure, our votes and opinions in the-
that I was the one most vehement and persistent in publicly major political cases in the recent past should more or less indicate
advocating and urging the authorities concerned to directly submit our respective basic positions relevant to the issues now before Us.
to the people in a plebiscite whatever amendments of the Certainly, contending counsels cannot be entirely in the dark in this
Constitution might be considered necessary for the establishment of regard. I feel that it must have been precisely because of such
such substitute interim legislature. In the aforementioned session of awareness that despite my known public participation in the
the Executive Committee of the Katipunan, I discourse on the discussion of the questions herein involved, none of the parties have
indispensability of a new interim legislative body as the initial step sought my inhibition or disqualification.
towards the early lifting of martial law and on the fundamental
considerations why in our present situation a constitutional Actually, although it may be difficult for others to believe it, I have
convention would be superfluous in amending the Constitution. never allowed my preconceptions and personal inclinations to affect
the objectivity needed in the resolution of any judicial question
Moreover, it is a matter of public knowledge that in a speech I before the Court. I feel I have always been able to appreciate, fully
delivered at the Coral Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in the evening of consider and duly weigh arguments and points raised by all counsels,
August 17, 1976, I denounced in no uncertain terms the plan to call a even when they conflict with my previous views. I am never beyond
constitutional convention. I reiterated the same views on September being convinced by good and substantial ratiocination. Nothing has
7, 1976 at the initial conference called by the Comelec in the course delighted me more than to discover that somebody else has thought
of the information and educational campaign it was enjoined to of more weighty arguments refuting my own, regardless of what or
conduct on the subject. And looking back at the subsequent whose interests are at stake. I would not have accepted my position
developments up to September 22, 1976, when the Batasang Bayan in the Court had I felt I would not be able to be above my personal
approved and the President signed the now impugned Presidential prejudices. To my mind, it is not that a judge has preconceptions
Decree No. 1033, it is but human for me to want to believe that to a that counts, it is his capacity and readiness to absorb contrary views
certain extent my strong criticisms and resolute stand against any that are indispensable for justice to prevail. That suspicions of
other alternative procedure of amending the Constitution for the prejudgment may likely arise is unavoidable; but I have always
purpose intended had borne fruit. maintained that whatever improper factors might influence a judge
will unavoidably always appear on the face of the decision. In any

42
event, is there better guarantee of justice when the preconceptions (Unless expressly stated otherwise, all references
of a judge are concealed? to the Constitution in this discussion are to both
the 1935 and 1973 charters, since, after all, the
Withal, in point of law, I belong to the school of thought that regards pertinent provisions are practically Identical in
members of the Supreme Court as not covered by the general rules both is the supreme law of the land. This means
relative to disqualification and inhibition of judges in cases before among other things that all the powers of the
them. If I have in practice actually refrained from participating in government and of all its officials from the
some cases, it has not been because of any legal ground founded on President down to the lowest emanate from it.
said rules, but for purely personal reasons, specially because, None of them may exercise any power unless it
anyway, my vote would not have altered the results therein. can be traced thereto either textually or by
natural and logical implication. "The second is
that it is settled that the Judiciary provisions of
It is my considered opinion that unlike in the cases of judges in the
the Constitution point to the Supreme Court as
lower courts, the Constitution does not envisage compulsory
the ultimate arbiter of all conflicts as to what the
disqualification or inhibition in any case by any member of the
Constitution or any part thereof means. While
Supreme Court. The Charter establishes a Supreme Court
the other Departments may adopt their own
"composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices", with
construction thereof, when such construction is
the particular qualifications therein set forth and to be appointed in
challenged by the proper party in an appropriate
the manner therein provided. Nowhere in the Constitution is there
case wherein a decision would be impossible
any indication that the legislature may designate by law instances
without determining the correct construction,
wherein any of the justices should not or may not take part in the
the Supreme Court's word on the matter
resolution of any case, much less who should take his place.
controls.
Members of the Supreme Court are definite constitutional officers; it
is not within the power of the lawmaking body to replace them even
temporarily for any reason. To put it the other way, nobody who has xxx xxx xxx
not been duly appointed as a member of the Supreme Court can sit
in it at any time or for any reason. The Judicial power is vested in the xxx xxx xxx
Supreme Court composed as the Constitution ordains - that power
cannot be exercised by a Supreme Court constituted otherwise. And The fifth is that in the same manner that the
so, when as in the instant where, if any of the member of Court is to Executive power conferred upon the Executive
abstain from taking part, there would be no quorum - and no court by the Constitution is complete, total and
to render the decision - it is the includible duty of all the incumbent unlimited, so also, the judicial power vested in
justices to participate in the proceedings and to cast their votes, the Supreme Court and the inferior courts, is the
considering that for the reasons stated above, the provisions of very whole of that power, without any limitation
Section 9 of the Judiciary Act do not appear to conform with the or qualification.
concept of the office of Justice of the Supreme Court contemplated
in the Constitution.
xxx xxx xxx

The very nature of the office of Justice of the Supreme Court as the
xxx xxx xxx
tribunal of last resort and bulwark of the rights and liberties of all
the people demands that only one of dependable and trustworthy
probity should occupy the same. Absolute integrity, mental and From these incontrovertible postulates, it
otherwise, must be by everyone who is appointed thereto. The results, first of all, that the main question before
moral character of every member of the Court must be assumed to Us is not in reality one of jurisdiction, for there
be such that in no case whatsoever. regardless of the issues and the can be no conceivable controversy, especially
parties involved, may it be feared that anyone's life, liberty or one involving a conflict as to the correct
property, much less the national interests, would ever be in jeopardy construction of the Constitution, that is not
of being unjustly and improperly subjected to any kind of judicial contemplated to be within the judicial authority
sanction. In sum, every Justice of the Supreme Court is expected to of the courts to hear and decide. The judicial
be capable of rising above himself in every case and of having full power of the courts being unlimited and
control of his emotions and prejudices, such that with the legal unqualified, it extends over all situations that call
training and experience he must of necessity be adequately for the as certainment and protection of the
equipped with, it would be indubitable that his judgment cannot be rights of any party allegedly violated, even when
but objectively impartial, Indeed, even the appointing power, to the alleged violator is the highest official of the
whom the Justices owe their positions, should never hope to be land or the government itself. It is, therefore,
unduly favored by any action of the Supreme Court. All evidence that the Court's jurisdiction to take
appointments to the Court are based on these considerations, hence cognizance of and to decide the instant petitions
the ordinary rules on inhibition and disqualification do not have to on their merits is beyond challenge.
be applied to its members.
In this connection, however, it must be borne in
With the preliminary matter of my individual circumstances out of mind that in the form of government envisaged
the way, I shall now address myself to the grave issues submitted for by the framers of the Constitution and adopted
Our resolution. by our people, the Court's indisputable and
plenary authority to decide does not necessarily
impose upon it the duty to interpose its fiat as
-I-
the only means of settling the conflicting claims
of the parties before it. It is ingrained in the
In regard to the first issue as to whether the questions posed in the distribution of powers in the fundamental law
petitions herein are political or justiciable, suffice it for me to that hand in hand with the vesting of the judicial
reiterate the fundamental position I took in the Martial Law power upon the Court, the Constitution has
cases, 1 thus coevally conferred upon it the discretion to
determine, in consideration of the constitutional
As We enter the extremely delicate task of prerogatives granted to the other Departments,
resolving the grave issues thus thrust upon Us. when to refrain from imposing judicial solutions
We are immediately encountered by absolute and instead defer to the judgment of the latter.
verities to guide Us all the way. The first and It is in the very nature of republican
most important of them is that the Constitution governments that certain matters are left in the
43
residual power of the people themselves to developments since the ratification of the Constitution indicate that
resolve, either directly at the polls or thru their the people have in effect enjoined the convening of the interim
elected representatives in the political National Assembly altogether. On this score, it is my assessment that
Departments of the government. And these the results of the referenda of January 10-15, 1973, July 27-28, 1973
reserved matters are easily distinguishable by and February 27, 1975 clearly show that the great majority of our
their very nature, when one studiously considers people, for reasons plainly obvious to anyone who would consider
the basic functions and responsibilities entrusted the composition of that Assembly, what with its more than 400
by the charter to each of the great Departments members automatically voted into it by the Constitutional
of the government. To cite an obvious example, Convention together with its own members, are against its being
the protection, defense and preservation of the convoked at all.
state against internal or external aggression
threatening its very existence is far from being Whether or not such a manifest determination of the sentiments of
within the ambit of judicial responsibility. The the people should be given effect without a formal amendment of
distinct role then of the Supreme Court of being the Constitution is something that constitutional scholars may
the final arbiter in the determination of endlessly debate on. What cannot be disputed, however, is that the
constitutional controversies does not have to be government and the nation have acquiesced to, it and have actually
asserted in such contemplated situations, operated on the basis thereof. Proclamation 1103 which, on the
thereby to give way to the ultimate prerogative predicate that the overwhelming majority of the people desire that
of the people articulated thru suffrage or thru the interim Assembly be not convened, has ordained the suspension
the acts of their political representatives they of its convocation, has not been assailed either judicially or
have elected for the purpose. otherwise since the date of its promulgation on January 17, 1973.

Indeed, these fundamental considerations are the ones that lie at In these premises, it is consequently the task of the Court to
the base of what is known in American constitutional law as the determine what, under these circumstances, is the constitutional
political question doctrine, which in that jurisdiction is relevance of the interim National Assembly to any proposal to
unquestionably deemed to be part and parcel of the rule of law, amend the Constitution at this time. It is my considered opinion that
exactly like its apparently more attractive or popular opposite, in resolving that question, the Court must have to grapple with the
judicial activism, which is the fullest exertion of judicial power, upon problem of what to do with the will of the people, which although
the theory that unless the courts intervene injustice might prevail. It manifested in a manner not explicitly provided for in the
has been invoked and applied by this Court in varied forms and Constitution, was nevertheless official, and reliable, and what is
mode of projection in several momentous instances in the past, more important clear and unmistakable, despite the known
(Barcelona vs. Baker, 5 Phil. 87; Severino vs. Governor-General, 16 existence of well-meaning, if insufficiently substantial dissent. Such
Phil. 366; Abueva vs. Wood, 45 Phil. 612; Alejandrino vs. Quezon, 46 being the situation, I hold that it is not proper for the Court to
Phil. 85; Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil. 192; Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, 78 interpose its judicial authority against the evident decision of the
Phil. 1; Cabin vs. Francisco, 88 Phil. 654; Montenegro vs. Castaneda, people and should leave it to the political department of the
91 Phil. 882, Santos vs. Yatco, 55 O.G. 8641 [Minute Resolution of government to devise the ways and means of resolving the resulting
Nov. 6, 19591 Osmena vs. Pendatun, Oct. 28, 1960.) and it is the problem of how to amend the Constitution, so long as in choosing
main support of the stand of the Solicitor General on the issue of the same, the ultimate constituent power is left to be exercised by
jurisdiction in the cases at bar. It is also referred to as the doctrine of the people themselves in a well- ordered plebiscite as required by
judicial self-restraint or abstention. But as the nomenclatures the fundamental law.
themselves imply, activism and self- restraint are both subjective
attitudes, not inherent imperatives. The choice of alternatives in any
-2-
particular eventuality is naturally dictated by what in the Court's
considered opinion is what the Constitution envisions should be by
in order to accomplish the objectives of government and of Assuming We have to inquire into the merits of the issue relative to
nationhood. And perhaps it may be added here to avoid confusion of the constitutional authority behind the projected amendment of the
concepts, that We are not losing sight of the traditional approach Charter in the manner provided in Presidential Decree 1033, I hold
based on the doctrine of separation of powers. In truth, We perceive that in the peculiar situation in which the government is today, it is
that even under such mode of rationalization, the existence of not incompatible with the Constitution for the President to propose
power is secondary, respect for the acts of a co-ordinate, co-equal the subject amendments for ratification by the people in a formal
and independent Department being the general rule, particularly plebiscite under the supervision of the Commission on Elections. On
when the issue is not encroachment of delimited areas of functions the contrary, in the absence of any express prohibition in the letter
but alleged abuse of a Department's own basic prerogatives. (59 of the Charter, the Presidential Decree in question is entirely
SCRA, pp. 379-383.) consistent with the spirit and the principles underlying the
Constitution. The correctness of this conclusion should become even
more patent, when one considers the political developments that
Applying the foregoing considerations to the cases at bar, I hold that
the people have brought about since the ratification of the
the Court has jurisdiction to pass on the merits of the various claims
Constitution on January 17,1973.
of petitioners. At the same time, however, I maintain that the basic
nature of the issues herein raised requires that the Court should
exercise its constitutionally endowed prerogative to refrain from I consider it apropos at this juncture to repeat my own words in a
exerting its judicial authority in the premises. speech I delivered on the occasion of the celebration of Law Day on
September 18, 1975 before the members of the Philippine
Constitution Association and their guests:
Stripped of incidental aspects, the constitutional problem that
confronts Us stems from the absence of any clear and definite
express provision in the Charter applicable to the factual milieu To fully comprehend the constitutional situation
herein involved. The primary issue is, to whom, under the in the Philippines today, one has to bear in mind
circumstances, does the authority to propose amendments to the that, as I have mentioned earlier, the martial law
Constitution property belong? To say, in the light of Section 15 of proclaimed under the 1935 Constitution
Article XVII of the Charter, that that faculty lies in the interim overtook the drafting of the new charter by the
National Assembly is to beg the main question. Indeed, there could Constitutional Convention of 1971. It was
be no occasion for doubt or debate, if it could ' only be assumed that inevitable, therefore, that the delegates had to
the interim National Assembly envisaged in Sections 1 and 2 of the take into account not only the developments
same Article XVII may be convoked. But precisely, the fundamental under it but, most of all, its declared objectives
issue We are called upon to decide is whether or not it is still and what the President, as its administrator, was
constitutionally possible to convene that body. And relative to that doing to achieve them. In this connection, it is
question, the inquiry centers on whether or not the political worthy of mention that an attempt to adjourn
44
the convention was roundly voted down to frame of reference should not necessarily be the Constitution but
signify the determination of the delegates to the outcome of referendums called from time to time by the
finish earliest their work, thereby to accomplish President. The sooner we imbibe this vital concept the more
the mission entrusted to them by the people to intelligent will our perspective be in giving our support and loyalty to
introduce meaningful reforms in our government the existing government. What is more, the clearer will it be that
and society. Indeed, the constituent labors except for the fact that all the powers of government are being
gained rapid tempo, but in the process, the exercised by the President, we - do not in reality have a dictatorship
delegates were to realize that the reforms they but an experimental type of direct democracy."
were formulating could be best implemented if
the martial law powers of the President were to In the foregoing disquisition, I purposely made no mention of the
be allowed to subsist even after the ratification referendum of February 27, 1975. It is important to note, relative to
of the Constitution they were approving. This the main issue now before Us, that it was originally planned to ask
denouement was unusual. Ordinarily, a the people in that referendum whether or not they would like the
constitution born out of a crisis is supposed to interim National Assembly to convene, but the Comelec to whom
provide all the needed cures and can, therefore, the task of preparing the questions was assigned was prevailed upon
be immediately in full force and effect after not to include any -such question anymore, precisely because it was
ratification. Not so, with our 1973 Constitution, the prevalent view even among the delegates to the Convention as
Yes, according to the Supreme Court, 'there is no well as the members of the old Congress concerned that that matter
more judicial obstacle to the new Constitution had already been finally resolved in the previous referenda of
being considered in force and effect', but in January and July 1973 in the sense that. the Assembly should not be
truth, it is not yet so in full. Let me explain. convened comparable to res adjudicata.

To begin with, in analyzing the new Constitution, we must be careful It is my position that as a result of the political developments since
to distinguish between the body or main part thereof and its January 17, 1973 the transitory provisions envisioning the convening
transitory provisions. It is imperative to do so because the transitory of the interim National Assembly have been rendered legally
provisions of our Constitution are extraordinary in the sense that inoperative. There is no doubt in my mind that for the President to
obviously they have been designed to provide not only for the convoke the interim National Assembly as such would be to
transition of our government from the presidential form under the disregard the will of the people - something no head of a democratic
past charter to a parliamentary one as envisaged in the new republican state like ours should do. And I find it simply logical that
fundamental law, but also to institutionalize, according to the the reasons that motivated the people to enjoin the convening of
President, the reforms introduced thru the exercise of his martial the Assembly - the unusually large and unmanageable number of its
law powers. Stated differently, the transitory provisions, as it has members and the controversial morality of its automatic
turned out, has in effect established a transition government, not, I composition consisting of all the incumbent elective national
am sure, perceived by many. It is a government that is neither executive and legislative officials under the Old Constitution who
presidential nor parliamentary. It is headed, of course, by President would agree to join it and the delegates themselves to the
Marcos who not on retains all his powers under the 1935 Convention who had voted in favor of the Transitory Provisions -
Constitution but enjoys as well those of the President and the Prime apply not only to the Assembly as an ordinary legislature but
Minister under the new Constitution. Most importantly, he can and perhaps more to its being a constituent body. And to be more
does legislate alone. But to be more accurate, I should say that he realistic, it is but natural to conclude that since the people are
legislates alone in spite of the existence of the interim National against politicians in the old order having anything to do with the
Assembly unequivocally ordained by the Constitution, for the simple formulation of national policies, there must be more reasons for
reason that he has suspended the convening of said assembly by them to frown on said politicians taking part in amendment of the
issuing Proclamation No. 1103 purportedly 'in deference to the fundamental law, specially because the particular amendment
sovereign will of the Filipino people' expressed in the January 10-15, herein involved calls for the abolition of the interim National
1973 referendum. Assembly to which they belong and its substitution by the Batasang
Pambansa.
Thus, we have here the unique case of a qualified ratification. The
whole Constitution was submitted for approval or disapproval of the It is argued that in law, the qualified or conditional ratification of a
people, and after the votes were counted and the affirmative constitution is not contemplated. I disagree. It is inconsistent with
majority known, we were told that the resulting ratification was the plenary power of the people to give or withhold their assent to a
subject to the condition that the interim National Assembly proposed Constitution to maintain that they can do so only wholly. I
evidently established in the Constitution as the distinctive and cannot imagine any sound principle that can be invoked to support
indispensable element of a parliamentary form of government the theory that the proposing authority can limit the power of
should nevertheless be not convened and that no elections should ratification of the people. As long as there are reliable means by
be held for about seven years, with the consequence that we have which only partial approval can be manifested, no cogent reason
now a parliamentary government without a parliament and a exists why the sovereign people may not do so. True it is that no
republic without any regular election of its officials. And as you can proposed Constitution can be perfect and it may therefore be taken
see, this phenomenon came into being not by virtue of the with the good and the bad in it, but when there are feasible ways by
Constitution but of the direct mandate of the sovereign people which it can be determined which portions of it, the people
expressed in a referendum. In other words, in an unprecedented disapprove. it would be stretching technicality beyond its purported
extra-constitutional way, we have established, wittingly or office to render the final authority - the people impotent to act
unwittingly, a direct democracy through the Citizens Assemblies according to what they deem best suitable to their interests.
created by Presidential Decree No. 86, which later on have been
transformed into barangays, a system of government proclaimed by
In any event, I feel it would be of no consequence to debate at
the President as 'a real achievement in participatory democracy.'
length regarding the legal feasibility of qualified ratification.
What I am trying to say, my friends, is that as I perceive it, what is
Proclamation 1103 categorically declares that:
now known as constitutional authoritarianism means, in the final
analysis, that the fundamental source of authority of our existing
government may not be necessarily found within the four corners of WHEREAS, fourteen million nine hundred
the Constitution but rather in the results of periodic referendums seventy six thousand five hundred sixty-one
conducted by the Commission on Elections in a manner well known (14,976.561) members of all the Barangays voted
to all of us This, as I see it, is perhaps what the President means by for the adoption of the proposed Constitution, as
saying that under the new Constitution he has extra-ordinary against seven hundred forty-three thousand
powers independently of martial law - powers sanctioned directly by eight hundred sixty-nine (743,869) who voted for
the people which may not even be read in the language of the its rejection; but a majority of those who
Constitution. in brief, when we talk of the rule of law nowadays, our approved the new Constitution conditioned their
45
votes on the demand that the interim National system to the new one. I do not believe this pattern set by the
Assembly provided in its Transitory Provisions convention should be abandoned.
should not be convened.
The alternative of calling a constitutional convention has also been
and in consequence, the President has acted accordingly by not mentioned. But, in the first place, when it is considered that
convening the Assembly. The above factual premises of whereas, under Section 1 (1) and (2) of Article XVI, the regular
Proclamation 1103 is not disputed by petitioners. Actually, it is National Assembly may call a Constitutional Convention or submit
binding on the Court, the same being a political act of a coordinate such a call for approval of the people, Section 15 of Article XVII, in
department of the government not properly assailed as arbitrary or reference to interim National Assembly, does not grant said body
whimsical. At this point, it must be emphasized in relation to the the prerogative of calling a convention, one can readily appreciate
contention that a referendum is only consultative, that Proclamation that the spirit of the Constitution does not countenance or favor the
1103, taken together with Proclamation 1102 which proclaimed the calling of a convention during the transition, if only because such a
ratification of the Constitution, must be accorded the same legal procedure would be time consuming, cumbersome and expensive.
significance as the latter proclamation, as indeed it is part and parcel And when it is further noted that the requirement as to the number
if the Act of ratification of the Constitution, hence not only of votes needed for a proposal is only a majority, whereas it is three-
persuasive but mandatory. In the face of the incontrovertible fact fourths in respect to regular Assembly, and, relating this point to the
that the sovereign people have voted against the convening of the provision of Section 2 of Article XVI to the effect that all ratification
interim National Assembly, and faced with the problem of amending plebiscites must be held "not later than three months after the
the Constitution in order precisely to implement the people's approval" of the proposed amendment by the proposing authority,
rejection of that Assembly, the problem of constitutional dimension the adoption of the most simple manner of amending the charter, as
that confronts Us, is how can any such amendment be proposed for that provided for in the assailed Presidential Decree 1033 suggests
ratification by the people? itself as the one most in accord with the intent of the fundamental
law.
To start with, it may not be supposed that just because the office or
body designed by the constitutional convention to perform the There is nothing strange in adopting steps not directly based on the
constituent function of formulating proposed amendments has been letter of the Constitution for the purpose of amending or changing
rendered inoperative by the people themselves, the people have the same. To cite but one important precedent, as explained by Mr.
thereby foreclosed the possibility of amending the Constitution no Justice Makasiar in his concurring opinion in Javellana 2, the present
matter how desirable or necessary this might be. In this connection, Constitution of the United States was neither proposed nor ratified
I submit that by the very nature of the office of the Presidency in the in the manner ordained by the original charter of that country, the
prevailing scheme of government we have - it being the only political Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
department of the government in existence - it is consistent with
basic principles of constitutionalism to acknowledge the President's In brief. if the convening and operation of the interim National
authority to perform the constituent function, there being no other Assembly has been effectuated through a referendum-plebiscite in
entity or body lodged with the prerogative to exercise such function. January, 1973, and ratified expressly and impliedly in two
subsequent referenda, those of July, 1973 and February, 1975, why
There is another consideration that leads to the same conclusion. It may not a duly held plebiscite suffice for the purpose of creating a
is conceded by petitioners that with the non-convening of the substitute for that Assembly? It should be borne in mind that after
interim Assembly, the legislative authority has perforce fallen into all, as indicated in the whereas of the impugned Presidential Decree,
the hands of the President, if only to avoid a complete paralysis of actually, the proposed amendments were initiated by the barangays
law-making and resulting anarchy and chaos. It is likewise conceded and sanggunian members. In other words, in submitting the
that the provisions of Section 3 (2) of Article XVII invest the amendments for ratification, the President is merely acting as the
President with legislative power for the duration of the transition conduit thru whom a substantial portion of the people, represented
period. From these premises, it is safe to conclude that in effect the in the Katipunan ng Mga Sanggunian, Barangay at Kabataang
President has been substituted by the people themselves in place of Barangay, seek the approval of the people as a whole of the
the interim Assembly. Such being the case, the President should be amendments in question. If all these mean that the sovereign people
deemed as having been granted also the cognate prerogative of have arrogated unto themselves the functions relative to the
proposing amendments to the Constitution. In other words, the amendment to the Constitution, I would regard myself as totally
force of necessity and the cognate nature of the act justify that the devoid of legal standing to question it, having in mind that the most
department exercising the legislative faculty be the one to likewise fundamental tenet on which our whole political structure rests is
perform the constituent function that was attached to the body that "sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority
rendered impotent by the people's mandate. Incidentally, I reject emanates from them."
most vehemently the proposition that the President may propose
amendments to the Constitution in the exercise of his martial law In the light of the foregoing considerations, I hold that Presidential
powers. Under any standards, such a suggestion cannot be Decree No. 1033 does not infringe the Constitution, if only because
reconciled with the Ideal that a Constitution is the free act of the the specific provision it is supposed to infringe does not exist in legal
people. contemplation since it was coevally made inoperative when the
people ratified the Constitution on January 17, 1973. I am fully
It was suggested during the oral, argument that instead of extending convinced that there is nothing in the procedure of amendment
his legislative powers by proposing the amendment to create a new contained in said decree that is inconsistent with the fundamental
legislative body, the President should issue a decree providing for principles of constitutionalism. On the contrary, I find that the
the necessary apportionment of the seats in the Regular National Decree, in issue conforms admirably with the underlying tenet of our
Assembly and call for an election of the members thereof and thus government - the sovereignty and plenary power of the people.
effect the immediate normalization of the parliamentary
government envisaged in the Constitution. While indeed On the issue of whether or not October 16, 1976 is too proximate to
procedurally feasible, the suggestion overlooks the imperative need enable the people to sufficiently comprehend the issues and
recognized by the constitutional convention as may be inferred from intelligently vote in the referendum and plebiscite set by Presidential
the obvious purpose of the transitory provisions, for a period of Decree 1033, all I can say is that while perhaps my other colleagues
preparation and acquaintance by all concerned with the unfamiliar are right in holding that the period given to the people is adequate, I
distinctive features and practices of the parliamentary system. would leave it to the President to consider whether or not it would
Accustomed as we are to the presidential system, the Convention be wiser to extend the same. Just to avoid adverse comments later I
has seen to it that there should be an interim parliament under the wish the President orders a postponement. But whether such
present leadership, which will take the corresponding measures to postponement is ordered or not, date of the referendum- plebiscite
effectuate the efficient and smooth transition from the present anywhere from October 16, 1976 to any other later date, would be
of no vital import.
46
In conclusion, I vote to dismiss all the three petitions before Us. of the government, with discretionary power to act." 3 In other
words, it refers to those questions which, under the Constitution,
MAKASIAR, J., concurring and dissenting: are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in
regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to
the legislative or executive branch of government. 4
Since the validity or effectivity of the proposed amendments is to be
decided ultimately by the people in their sovereign capacity, the
question is political as the term is defined in Tanada, et al. vs. In determining whether an issue falls within the political question
Cuenco, et al. (103 Phil. 1051), which is a bar to any judicial inquiry, category, the absence of satisfactory creterion for a judicial
for the reasons stated in Our opinion in Javellana, et al. vs. Executive determination or the appropriateness of attributing finality to the
Secretary, et al. (L-36142); Tan, et al. vs. Executive Secretary, et al. action of the political departments of government is a dominant
(L,36164); Roxas, et al. vs Executive Secretary, et al. (L-36165); consideration. This was explained by Justice Brennan in Baker v.
Monteclaro, etc., et al. vs' Executive Secretary, et al. (@36236); and Carr, 5 thus :
Ditag et al. vs. Executive Secretary, et al. (L-W283, March 31, 1973,
50 SCRA 30, 204-283). The procedure for amendment is not Prominent on the surface of any case held to
important Ratification by the people is all that is indispensable to involve political question is found a textually
validate an amendment. Once ratified, the method of making the demonstrable constitutional lack of judicially
proposal and the period for submission become relevant. discoverrable and manageable standards for
resolving it; or the impossibility of deciding
The contrary view negates the very essence of a republican without an initial policy determination of a kind
democracy - that the people are sovereign - and renders clearly for non-judicial discretion; or the
meaningless the emphatic declaration in the very first provision of impossibility of a court's undertaking
Article II of the 1973 Constitution that the Philippines is a republican independent resolution without expressing lack
state, sovereignty resides in the people and all government of the respect due coordinate branches of
authority emanates from them. It is axiomatic that sovereignty is government; or an unusual need for
illimitable The representatives cannot dictate to the sovereign unquestioning adherence to a political decision
people. They may guide them; but they cannot supplant their already made; or the potentiality of
judgment, Such an opposite view likewise distrusts the wisdom of embarrassment from from multifarious
the people as much as it despises their intelligence. It evinces a pronouncements by various departments on one
presumptuous pretension to intellectual superiority. There are question. . . .
thousands upon thousands among the citizenry, who are not in the
public service, who are more learned and better skilled than many of To decide whether a matter has in a measure been committed by
their elected representatives. the Constitution to another branch of government or retained be
the people to be decided by them in their sovereign capacity, or
Moreover, WE already ruled in Aquino, et al. vs- Comelec, et al. (L whether that branch exceeds whatever authority has been
40004, Jan. 31, 1975, 62 SCRA 275, 298-302) that the President as committed, is indeed a delicate exercise in constitutional
enforcer or administrator of martial rule during the period of martial interpretation.
law can legislate; and that he has the discretion as to when the
convene the interim National Assembly depending on prevailing In Coleman v. Miller, 6 the United States Supreme Court held that
conditions of peace and order. In view of the fact that the interim the efficacy of the ratification by state legislatures of a constitutional
National Assembly has not been convoked in obedience to the amendment is a political question. On the question of whether the
desire of the people clearly expressed in the 1973 referenda, the State Legislature could constitutionally relative an amendment, after
President therefore remains the lone law-making authority while the same had been previously rejected by it, it was held that the
martial law subsists. Consequently, he can also exercise the power of ultimate authority over the question was in Congress in the exercise
the interim National Assembly to propose amendments to the New of its control over the promulgation of the adoption of the
Constitution (Sec. 15,,Art. XVII If, as conceded by petitioner Vicente amendment. And in connection with the second question of
Guzman (L-44684), former delegate to the 1971 Constitutional whether the amendment has lost its, vitality through the lapse of
Convention which drafted the 1973 Constitution. the President, time, the Court held that the question was likewise political,
during the period of martial law, can call a constitutional convention involving "as it does ... an appraisal of a great variety of relevant
for the purpose, admittedly a constituent power, it stands to reason conditions, political, social and economic, which can hardly be said
that the President can likewise legally propose amendments to the to be within the appropriate range of evidence receivable in a court
fundamental law. of justice and as to which it would be an extravagant extension of
juridical authority to assert judicial notice as the basis of deciding a
ANTONIO, J., concurring: controversy with respect to the validity of an amendment actually
ratified. On the other hand, these conditions are appropriate for the
consideration of the political departments of the Government. The
I
questions they involve are essentially political and not justiciable." '

At the threshold, it is necessary to clarify what is a "political


In their concurring opinions, Justices Black, Roberts, Frankfurter and
question". It must be noted that this device has been utilized by the
Douglas stressed that:
judiciary "to avoid determining questions it is ill equipped to
determine or that could be settled in any event only with the
effective support of the political branches." 1 According to Weston, The Constitution grants Congress exclusive
judges, whether "personal representatives of a truly sovereign king, power to control submission off constitutional
or taking their seats as the creatures of a largely popular sovereignty amendments. Final determination by Congress
speaking through a written constitution, derive their power by a their ratification by three-fourths of the States
delegation, which clearly or obscurely as the case may be, has taken place 'is conclusive upon the courts.' In
deliminates and delimits their delegated jurisdiction.* * * Judicial the exercise of that power, Congress, of course,
questions * * * are those which the sovereign has set to be decided is governed by the Constitution. However, A
in the courts. Political questions, similarly, are those which the whether submission, intervening procedure for
sovereign has entrusted to the so-called political departments of Congressional determination of ratification
government or has reserved to be settled by its own extra- conforms to the commands of the Constitution,
government or has reserved to be settled by its own extra- call for decisions by apolitical department of
governmental action." 2 Reflecting a similar concept, this Court has questions of a t@ which this Court has
defined a "political question" as a "matter which is to be exercised frequently designated 'political.' And decision of
by the people in their primary political capacity or that has been a 'political question' by the political department'
specifically delegated to some other department or particular officer to which the Constitution has committed it
47
'conclusively binds the judges, as well as all other one (91) members of the Lupang Tagapagpaganap (Executive
officers, citizens and subjects of ... government. Committee) of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Bayani voted in
Proclamation under authority of Congress that their special session to submit directly to the people in a plebiscite
an amendment has been ratified will carry with it on October 16, 1976 the afore-mentioned constitutional
a solemn assurance by the Congress that amendments. Through the Pambansang Katipunan by Barangay and
ratification has taken place as the Constitution the Pampurok ng Katipunan Sangguniang Bayan, the people have
commands. Upon this assurance a proclaimed expressed their desire not only to abolish the interim National
amendment must be accepted as a part of the Assembly, but to replace it with a more representative body
Constitution, learning to the judiciary its acceptable to them in order to effect the desirable constitutional
traditional authority of interpretation. To the changes necessary to hasten the political evolution of the
extent that the Court's opinion in the present government towards the parliamentary system, while at the same
case even by implieding assumes a power to time ensuring that the gains of the New Society, which are vital to
make judicial interpretation of the exclusive the welfare of the people, shall be safeguarded. The proposed
constitutional authority of Congress over constitutional amendments, therefore, represent a consensus of the
submission and by ratification of amendments, people.
we are unable to agree.
It would be futile to insist that the intemi National Assembly should
Relying on this doctrine enunciated in Coleman v. Miller supra this have been convened to propose those amendments pursuant to
Court, in Mabanag v. Lopez Vitol, 7 speaking through Mr. Justice Section 15 of Article XVII of the Constitution. This Court, in the case
Pedro Tuason, ruled that the process of constitutional amendment, of Aquino v. Commission or Elections, 11 took judicial notice of the
involving proposal and ratification, is a political question. In the fact that in the referendum of January, 1973, a majority of those
Mabang case, the petitioners sought to prevent the enforcement of who approved the new Constitution conditioned their votes on the
a resolution of Congress proposing the "Parity Amendment" to the demand that the interim National Assembly provided in the
Philippine Constitution on the ground that it had not been approved Transitory Provisions should not be and the President "in deference
by the three-fourths vote of all the members of each house as to the sovereign will of the Filipino people" declared that the
required be Article XV of the 1935 Constitution. It was claimed that convening of said body shall be suspended. 12 As this Court observed
three (3) Senators and eight (8) members of the House of in the Aquino case:
Representatives had been suspended and that their membership
was not considered in the determination of the three- fourths %- ore His decision to defer the initial convocation of
In dismissing the petition on the ground that the question of the the byiitttit National Assembly was supported by
validity of the proposal was political, the Court stated: the sovereign people at the by referendum in
January, 1973 when the people voted to
"If ratification of an amendment is a political question, a proposal postpone the convening of the interim National
which leads to ratification has to be a political question. The Assembly until after at least seven (7) years from
question to steps complement each other in a scheme intended to the approval of the new Constitution. And the
achieve a single objective. It is to be noted that amendatory process reason why the same question was eliminated
as provided in Section I of Article XV of the Philippine Constitution from the questions to be submitted at the
'consists of (only) two distinct parts: proposal and ratification.' There referendum on February 27, 1975, is that even
is no logic in attaching political character to one and withholding some members of the Congress and delegates of
that character from the other. Proposal to amend the Constitution is the Constitutional Convention, who are already
a highly political function performed by the Congress in its sovereign byjso ofitto members of the intetini National
legislative capacity and committed to its charge by the Constitution Assembly are against such inclusion; because the
itself. ..." (At pages 4-5, Italics supplied.) issue was already bycciled in the January, 1973
referendum by the sovereign people indicating
It is true that in Gonzales v. Comelec, 8 this Court held that "the issue thereby their disenchantment with any Assembly
whether or not a Resolution of Congress, acting as a constituent as the former Congress failed to institutionalize
assembly - violates the Constitution is essentially justiciable, not the reforms they demanded and wasted public
political, and hence, subject to judicial review." What was involved funds through endless debates without relieving
in Gonzales, however, was not a proposed What was involved in the suffering of the general mass of citizenry (p.
Gonzales, however, was not a proposed amendment to the 302.) The action of the President in suspending
Constitution but an act of Congress, 9 submitting proposed the convening of the interim National Assembly
amendments to the Constitution. Similarly, in Tolentino v. has met the overwhelming approval of the
Commission an Elections, 10 what was involved was not the validity people in subsequent referenda.
of the proposal to lower the voting age but rather that of the
resolution of the Constitutional Convention submitting the proposal Since it was the action by the people that gave binding force and
for ratification. The question was whether piecemeal amendments effect to the new Constitution, then it must be accepted as a
to the Constitution could submitted to the people for approval or necessary consequence that their objection against the immediate
rejection. convening of the interim National Assembly must be respected as a
positive mandate of the sovereign.
II
In the Philippines, which is a unitary state, sovereignty "resides in
Here, the point has been stressed that the President is acting as the people and all government authority emanates from them."13
agent for and in behalf of the people in proposing the amendment. The term "People" as sovereign is comprehensive in its context. The
there can be no question that in the referendums of January, 1973 people, as sovereign creator of all political reality, is not merely the
and in the subsequent referendums the people had clearly and enfranchised citizens but the political unity of the people. 14 It
categorically rejected the calling of the interim National Assembly. connotes, therefore, a people which exists not only in the urgent
As stated in the main opinion, the Lupang Tagapagpaganap of the present but in the continuum of history. The assumption that the
Katipunan ng mga Sanggunian, the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga opinion of The People as voters can be treated as the expression of
Barangay, representing 42,000 barangays, the Kabataang Barangay the interests of the People as a historic community was, to the
organizations and the various sectoral groups had proposed the distinguished American journalist and public philosopher, Walter
replacement of the interim National Assembly. These barangays and Lipunan, unwarranted.
the Sanggunian assemblies are effective instrumentalities through
which the desires of the people are articulated and expressed. The Because of the discrepancy between The People
Batasang Bayan (Legislative Council), composed of nineteen (19) as Voters and the People as the corporate
cabinet members and nine (9) officials with cabinet rank, and ninety- nation, the voters have no title to consider
48
themselves the proprietors of the authority is legislative in nature rather than
commonwealth and to claim that their interests constituent.
are Identical to the public interest. A prevailing
plurality of the voters are not The People. The This is but a recognition that the People of the
claim that they are is a bogus title invoked to Philippines have the inherent, sole and exclusive
justify the usurpation of the executive power by right of regulating their own government, and of
representative assemblies and the intimidation altering or abolishing their Constitution
of public men by demagogue politicians. In fact whenever it may be necessary to their safety or
demagoguery can be described as the sleight of happiness. There appears to be no justification,
hand by which a faction of The People as voters under the existing, circumstances, for a Court to
are invested with the authority of The People. create by implication a limitation on - the
That is why so many crimes are committed in the sovereign power of the people. As has been
People's name 15 clearly explained in a previous case:

In Gonzales v. Comelec, supra, the Court clearly emphasized that the There is nothing in the nature of the submission
power to propose amendments or to amend the Constitution is part which should cause the free exercise of it to be
of the inherent power of the people as the repository of sovereignty obstructed, or that could render it dangerous to
in a republican state. While Congress may propose amendments to the stability of the government; because the
the Constitution, it acts pursuant to authority granted to it by the measure derives all its vital force from the action
people through the Constitution. Both the power to propose and the of the people at the ballot box, and there can
authority to approve, therefore, inhere in the people as the bearer never be danger in submitting in an established
of the Constitution making power. form to a free people, the proposition whether
they will change their fundamental law The
Absent an interim National Assembly upon whom the people, means provided for the exercise of their
through the Constitution, have delegated the authority to exercise Sovereign right of changing their constitution
constituent powers, it follows from necessity that either the people should receive such a construction as not to
should exercise that power themselves or through any other trammel the exercise of the right. Difficulties and
instrumentality they may choose. For Law, like Nature, abhors a embarrassments in its exercise are in derogation
vacuum (natural vacuum abhorret). of the right of free government, which is
inherent in the people; and the best security
The question then is whether the President has authority to act for against tumult and revolution is the free and
the people in submitting such proposals for ratification at the unobstructed privilege to the people of the State
plebiscite of October 16. The political character of the question is, to change their constitution in the mode
therefore, particularly manifest, considering that ultimately it is the prescribed by the instrument.
people who will decide whether the President has such authority. It
certainly involves a matter which is to be exercised by the people in III
their sovereign capacity, hence, it is essentially political, not judicial.
The paramount consideration that impelled Us to arrive at the
While it is true that the constituent power is not to be confuse with foregoing opinion is the necessity of ensuring popular control over
legislative power in general because the prerogative to propose the constituent power. "If the people are to control the constituent
amendments is not embraced within the context of ordinary power - the power to make and change the fundamental law of the
lawmaking, it must be noted that the proposals to be submitted for State," observed Wheeler," "the process of Constitutional change
ratification in the forthcoming referendum are, in the final analysis, must not be based too heavily upon existing agencies of
actually not of the President but directly of the people themselves, government." Indeed, the basic premise of republicanism is that the
speaking through their authorized instrumentalities. ordinary citizen, the common man. can be trusted to determine his
political destiny. Therefore, it is time that the people should be
As the Chief Justice aptly stated in his concurring opinion in this accorded the fullest opportunity to decide the laws that shall
case: provide for their governance. For in the ultimate analysis, the
success of the national endeavor shall depend on the vision,
discipline and I by ininess of the moqqqtai will of every Filipino.
... The President merely formalized the said
proposals in Presidential Decree No. 1033. It
being conceded in all quarters that sovereignty IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, We vote to dismiss
resides in the people and it having been the petitions.
demonstrated that their constituent power to
amend the Constitution has not been delegated Aquino, J., concur.
by them to any instrumentality of the
Government during the present stage of the
transition period of our political development,
the conclusion is ineluctable that their exertion
MUNOZ PALMA, J., dissenting:
of that residuary power cannot be vulnerable to
any constitutional challenge as beingultravires.
Accordingly, without venturing to rule on I concur fully with the remarkably frank (so characteristic of him)
whether or not the President is vested with dissenting opinion of my distinguished colleague, Justice Claudio
constituent power - as it does not appear Teehankee. If I am writing this brief statement it is only to unburden
necessary to do so in the premises - the myself of some thoughts which trouble my mind and leave my
proposals here challenged, being acts of the conscience with no rest nor peace.
sovereign people no less, cannot be said to be
afflicted with unconstitutionality. A fortiori, the Generally, one who dissents from a majority view of the Court takes
concomitant authority to call a plebiscite and to a lonely and at times precarious road, the burden byeing lightened
appropriate funds therefor is even less only by the thought that in this grave task of administering justice,
vulnerable not only because the President, in when matters of conscience are at issue, one must be prepared to
exercising said authority, has acted as a mere espouse and embrace a rightful cause however unpopular it may be.
ofiffet byf of the people who made the
proposals, but likewise because the said

49
1. That sovereignty resides in the people and all government generations in the exercise of the sovereign
authority emanates from them is a fundamental, basic principle of power which they would otherwise possess. And
government which cannot be disputed, but when the people have it is precisely such limitation that enables those
opted to govern themselves under the mantle of a written subject to governmental authority to appeal
Constitution, each and every citizen, from the highest to the from the people drunk to the people sober in
lowliest, has the sacred duty to respect and obey the Character they time of excitement and hysteria. The
have so ordained. Constitution, in the neat phrase of the Iowa
court, is the protector of the people against
By the Constitution which they establish, they injury by the .people. *
not only tie up he hands of their official agencies,
but their own hands as well; and neither the Truly, what need is there for providing in the Constitution a process
officers of the state, nor the whole people as an by which the fundamental law may be amended if, after all, the
aggregate body, are at liberty to take action in people by themselves can set the same at naught even in times of
opposition to this fundamental law. (Cooley's peace when civil authority reigns supreme? To go along with the
Constitutional Limitations, 7th Ed. p. 56, Italics respondents' theory in this regard is to render written Constitutions
Our). useless or mere "ropes of sand allowing for a government of men
instead of one of laws. For it cannot be discounted that a situation
The afore-quoted passage from the eminent jurist and author Judge may arise where the people are heralded to action at a point of a
Cooley although based on declarations of law of more than a gun or by the fiery eloquence of a demagogue, and where passion
century ago, lays down a principle which to my mind is one of the overpowers reason, and mass action overthrows legal processes.
enduring cornerstones of the Rule of Law. it is a principle with which History has recorded such instances, and I can think of no better
I have been familiar as a student of law under the tutelage of example than that of Jesus Christ of Judea who was followed and
revered Professors, Dr. Vicente G. Sinco and Justice Jose P. Laurel, loved by the people while curing the sick, making the lame walk and
and which I pray will prevail at all times to ensure the existence of a the blind see, but shortly was condemned by the same people
free, stable, and civilized society. turned into fanatic rabble crying out "Crucify Him, Crucify Him" upon
being incited into action by chief priests and elders of Jerusalem.
Yes, to quote once more from Judge Cooley:
The Filipino people,. wanting to ensure to themselves a democratic
republican form of government, have promulgated a Constitution
whereby the power to govern themselves has been entrusted to and A good Constitution should be beyond the
distributed among three branches of government; they have also reason of temporary excitement and popular
mandated in clear and unmistakable terms the method by which caprice or passion. It is needed for stability and
provisions in their fundamental Charter may be amended or revised. steadiness; it must yield to the thought of the
Having done so, the people are bound by these constitutional people; not to the whim of the people, or the
limitations. For while there is no surrender or abdication of the thought evolved in excitement or hot blood, but
people's ultimate authority to amend, revise, or adopt a new the sober second thought, which alone, if the
Constitution, sound reason demands that they keep themselves government is to be sale can be allowed
within the procedural bounds of the existing fundamental law. The efficiency. .... Changes in government are to be
right of the people to amend or change their Constitution if and feared unless the benefit is certain." (quoted in
when the need arises is not to be denied, but we assert that absent Ellingham v. Dye, 99 N.E. 1, 15,) 3
a revolutionary state or condition in the country the change must be
accomplished through the ordinary, regular and legitimate processes Crawford v. Gilchrist 64 Fla. 41., 59., So. 963, Ann. Cas. 1914B, 916;
provided for in the Constitution.' State v. Hall, 159 N.W., 281; Opinion of Marshall, J. in State ex. rel.
Poster v. Marcus, 152 N.W., 419;
I cannot subscribe therefore to the view taken by the Solicitor
General that the people, being sovereign, have the authority to From Kochier v. Hill, Vol. 15, N.W., 609, we quote:
amend the Constitution even in a manner different from and
contrary to that expressly provided for in that instrument, and that xxx xxx xxx
the amendatory process is intended more as a limitation of a power
rather than a grant of power to a particular agency and it should not
It has been said that changes in the constitution
be construed as limiting the ultimate sovereign will of the people to
may be introduced in disregard of its provisions;
decide on amendments to the Constitution .2 Such a view will
that if the majority of the people desire a change
seriously undermine the very existence of a constitutional
the majority must be respected, no matter how
government and will permit anarchy and/or mob rule to set afoot
the change may be effected; and that the
and prevail. Was it the Greek philosopher Plato who warned that the
change, if revolution, is peaceful resolution. ...
rule of the mob is a prelude to the rule of the tyrant?

We fear that the advocates of this new doctrine,


I would use the following excerpt from Bernas, S.J. 'The 1973
in a zeal to accomplish an end which the majority
Philippine Constitution, Notes and Cases" as relevant to my point:
of the people desire, have looked at but one
phase of the question, and have not fully
. . . the amendatory provisions are called a considered the terrible consequences which
'constitution of sovereighty' because they define would almost certainly follow a recognition of
the constitutional meaning of 'sovereignty of the the doctrine for which they contend. It may be
people.' Popular sovereignty, as embodied in the that the incorporation of this amendment in the
Philippine Constitution, is not extreme popular constitution, even if the constitution has to be
sovereignty. As one American writer put it: broken to accomplish it, would not of itself
produce any serious results. But if it should be
A constitution like the American one serves as a done by sanctioning the doctrine contended for,
basic check upon the popular will at any given a precedent would be set which would plague
time. It is the distinctive function of such written the state for all future time. A Banquo's ghost
document to classify certain things as legal would arise at our incantation which would not
fundamentals; these fundamentals may not be down at our bidding.
changed except by the slow and cumbersome
process of amendment. The people themselves xxx xxx xxx
have decided, in constitutional convention
assembled, to limit themselves ana future
50
We ought to ponder long before we adopt a the validity of any public act whether proceeding
doctrine so fraught with danger to republican from the highest official or the lowest
institutions. ... funcitonary, is a postulate of our system of
government. That is to manifest fealty to the rule
xxx xxx xxx of law, with priority accorded to that which
occupies the topmost rung in the legal hierarchy.
... (36 SCRA, 228, 234, italics Ours)
Appellants' counsel cite and rely upon section 2, art. 1, of the
constitution of the staff This section is a portion of the bill of rights,
and is as follows: 'All political power is inherent in the people. A contrary view would lead to disastrous consequences for, in the
Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of words of Chief Justice Cox of the Supreme Court of Indiana in
of the people; and they have the right at all times to alter or reform Ellingham v. Dye, (supra, p. 7) liberty and popular sovereignty are
the same, whenever the public good may require.' Abstractly not meant to give rein to passion or thoughtless impulse but to allow
considered, there can bye no doubt of the correctness of the the exercise of power by the people for the general good by
propositions embraced in this suction. These principles are older tistlercoitaitt restraints of law. 3 . The true question before Us is is
than constitutions and older than governments. The people did not one of power. Does the incumbent President of the Philippines
derive the rights referred to by on the constitution. and, in their possess constituent powers? Again, the negative answer is explained
nature, thee are such that the people cannot surrender them ... . in detail in the dissenting opinion of Justice Teehankee.

2. Presidential Decrees Nos. 991 and 1033 which call for a national Respondents would justify the incumbent President's exercise of
referendum-plebiscite on October 16, 1976 for the purpose, among constituent powers on theory that he is vested with legislative
other things, of amending certain provisions of the 1973 powers as held by this Court in Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., et al. vs.
Constitution are null and void as they contravene the express Commission on Elections, et al., L-40004, January 31, 1975. 1 wish to
provisions on the amending process of the 1973 Constitution laid stress that although in my separate opinion in said case I agreed that
down in Article XVI, Section 1 (1) and Article XVII, Section 15, more Section 3 (2) of the Transitory provisions grants to the incumbent
particularly the latter which applies during the present transition President legislative powers, I qualified my statement as follows:
period. The Opinion of Justice Teehankee discusses in detail this
particular matter. .... As to, whether, or not, this unlimited
legislative qqqjwwel of the President continues
I would just wish to stress the point that although at present there is by exist even after the ratification of the
no by tterint National Assembly which may propose amendments to Constitution is a matter which I am not ready to
the Constitution, the existence of a so-called "vacuum" or "hiatus" concede at the moment, and which at any rate I
does not justify a transgression of the constitutional provisions on believe is not essential in resolving this Petition
the manner of amending the fundamental law. We cannot cure one for reasons to be given later. Nonetheless, I hold
infirmity - the existence of a "vacuum" caused by the non-convening the view that the President is empowered to
of the interim National Assembly - with another infirmity, that is, issue proclamations, orders, decrees, etc. to
doing violence to the Charter. carry out and implement the objectives of the
proclamation of martial law be it under the 1935
or 1973 Constitution, and for the orderly and
All great mutations shake and disorder a state.
efficient functioning of the government, its
Good does not necessarily succeed evil; another
instrumentalities, and agencies. This grant of
evil may succeed and a worse. (Am. Law Rev.
legislative power is necessary to fill up a vacuum
1889, p. 311., quoted in Ellingham v. Dye, supra,
during the transition period when the interim
p. 15)
National Assembly is not yet convened and
functioning, for otherwise, there will be a
Respondents contend that the calling of the referendum-plebiscite disruption of official functions resulting in a
for the purpose indicated is a step necessary to restore the state of collapse of the government and of the existing
normalcy in the country. To my mind, the only possible measure that social order. (62 SCRA, pp. 275,347)
will lead our country and people to a condition of normalcy is the
lifting or ending of the state of martial law. If I am constrained to
I believe it is not disputed that legislative power is essentially
make this statement it is because so much stress was given during
different from constituent power; one does not encompass the
the hearings of these cases on this particular point, leaving one with
other unless so specified in the Charter, and the 1973 Constitution
the impression that for petitioners to contest the holding of the
contains provisions in this regard. This is well-explained in Justice
October 16 referendum-plebiscite is for them to assume a position
Teehankee's Opinion. The state of necessity brought about by the
of blocking or installing the lifting of martial law, which I believe is
current political situation, invoked by the respondents, provides no
unfair to the petitioners. Frankly, I cannot see the connection
source of power to propose amendments to the existing
between the two. My esteemed colleagues should pardon me
Constitution. Must we "bend the Constitution to suit the law of the
therefore if I had ventured to state that the simple solution to the
hour or cure its defects "by inflicting upon it a wound which nothing
simple solution to the present dilemma is the lifting of martial law
can heal commit one assault after the other "until all respect for the
and the implementation of the constitutional provisions which will
fundamental law is lost and the powers of government are just what
usher in the parliamentary form of government ordained in the
those in authority please to call them?'" 5 Or can we now ignore
Constitution, which, as proclaimed in Proclamation 1102, the people
what this Court, speaking through Justice Barredo, said in Tolentino
themselves have ratified.
vs. Comelec:

If the people have indeed ratified the 1973 Constitution, then they
... let those who would put aside, invoking
are bound by their act and cannot escape from the pretended
grounds at best controversial, any mandate of
unfavorable consequences thereof, the only y being to set in motion
the fundamental law purportedly by order to
the constitutional machinery by which the supposed desired
attain some laudable objective bear in mind that
amendments may properly be adopted and submitted to the
someday somehow others with purportedly
electorate for ratification. Constitutional processes are to be
more laudable objectives may take advantages
observed strictly, if we have to maintain and preserve the system of
of the precedent in continue the destruction of
government decreed under the fundamental Charter. As said by
the Constitution, making those who laid down
Justice Enrique Fernando in Mutuc vs. Commission on Elections
the precedent of justifying deviations from the
requirements of the Constitution the victims of
... The concept of the Constitution as the their own folly. 6
fundamental law, setting forth the criterion for

51
Respondents emphatically assert that the final word is the people's National Assembly. This is not a political question since it involves
word and that ultimately it is in the hands of the people where the the determination of conflicting claims of authority under the
final decision rests. (Comment, pp. 18, 19, 22) Granting in gratia constitution.
argument that it is so, let it be an expression of the will of the people
a normal political situation and not under the aegis of martial rule In Gonzales vs. Comelec, 2 this Court, resolving the issue of whether
for as I have stated in Aquino vs. Comelec, et al., supra, a or not a Resolution of Congress, acting as a constituent assembly,
referendum (and now a plebiscite) held under a regime of martial violates the Constitution, ruled that the question is essentially
law can be of no far reaching significance because it is being justiciable, not political, and hence, subject to judicial review.
accomplished under an atmosphere or climate of fear as it entails a
wide area of curtailment and infringement of individual rights, such
In Tolentino vs. Comelec 3 this Court finally dispelled all doubts as to
as, human liberty, property rights, rights of free expression and
its position regarding its jurisdiction vis-a-vis the constitutionality of
assembly, protection against unreasonable searches and seizures,
the acts of Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, as well as
liberty of abode and of travel, and so on.
those of a constitutional convention called for the purpose of
proposing amendments to the constitution. Insofar as observance of
4. The other issues such as the sufficiency and proper submission of constitutional provisions on the procedure for amending the
the proposed amendments for ratification by the people are constitution is concerned, the issue is cognizable by this Court under
expounded in Justice Teehankee's Opinion. I wish to stress indeed its powers of judicial review.
that it is incorrect to state that the thrust of the proposed
amendments is the abolition of the interim National Assembly and
2. As to the merits, a brief backdrop of the decision to hold the
its substitution with an "interim Batasang Pambansa their in by in
referendum-plebiscite will help resolve the issue. It is to be noted
Proposed amendment No. 6 will permit or allow the concentration
that under the 1973 Constitution, an interim National Assembly was
of power in one man - the Executive - Prime Minister or President or
organized to bring about an orderly transition from the presidential
whatever you may call him - for it gives him expressly (which the
to the parliamentary system of government.' The people, however,
1973 Constitution or the 1935 Constitution does not) legislative
probably distrustful of the members who are old time politicians and
powers even during the existence of the appropriate legislative
constitutional delegates who had voted themselves by to
body, dependent solely on the executive's judgment on the
membership in the interim National Assembly, voted against the
existence of a grave emergency or a threat or imminence thereof **
convening of the said interim assembly for at least seven years thus
creating a political stalemate and a consequent delay' in the
I must be forgiven if, not concerned with the present, I am haunted transformation of the government into the parliamentary system. To
however by what can happen in the future, when we shall all be resolve the impasse, the President, at the instance of the barangays
gone. Verily, this is a matter of grave concern which necessitates full, and sanggunian assemblies through their duly authorized
mature, sober deliberation of the people but which they can do only instrumentalities who recommended a study of the feasibility of
in a climate of freedom without the restraints of martial law. I close, abolishing and replacing the by interim National Assembly with
remembering what Claro M. Recto, President of the Constitutional another interim body truly representative of the people in a
Convention which drafted the 1935 Philippine Constitution, once reformed society, issued Presidential Decree No. 991, on September
said: . 2, 1976, calling for a national referendum on October -16, 1976 to
ascertain the wishes of the people as to the ways and means that
... Nor is it enough that our people possess a may be available to attain the objective; providing for a period of
written constitution in order that their educational and information campaign on the issues; and
government may be called constitutional. To be establishing the mechanics and manner for holding thereof. But the
deserving of this name, and to drive away all people, through their barangays, addressed resolutions to the
lanirer of anarchy as well as of dictatorship Batasang Bayan, expressing their desire to have the constitution
whether by one man or a few, it is necessary that amended, thus prompting the President to issue Presidential Decree
both the government authorities and the people No. 1033, stating the questions to @ submitted to the people in the
faithfully observe and obey the constitution, and referendum-plebiscite on October 16,1976.
that the citizens be duly conversant not only
with their rights but also with their duties... 7 As will be seen, the authority to amend the Constitution was
removed from the interim National Assembly and transferred to the
Jose P. Laurel who served his people as Justice of the Supreme Court seat of sovereignty itself. Since the Constitution emanates from the
of this country gave this reminder; the grave and perilous task of people who are the repository of all political powers, their authority
halting transgressions and vindicating cherished rights is reposed to amend the Constitution through the means they have adopted,
mainly oil the Judiciary and therefore let the Courts be the vestal aside from those mentioned in the Constitution, cannot be gainsaid.
keepers of the purity and sanctity of our Constitution.' On the basis Not much reflection is also needed to show that the President did
of the foregoing, I vote to declare Presidential Decrees Nos. 991 and not exercise his martial law legislative powers when he proposed the
1033 unconstitutional and enjoin the implementation thereof. amendments to the Constitution. He was merely acting as an
instrument to carry out the will of the people. Neither could he
CONCEPCION JR., J., concurring: convene the interim National Assembly, as suggested by the
petitioners, without doing violence to the people's will expressed
overwhelmingly when they decided against convening the interim
I vote for the dismissal of the petitions.
assembly for at least seven years.

1. The issue is not political and therefore justiciable.


3. The period granted to the people to consider the proposed
amendments is reasonably long and enough to afford intelligent
The term "political question", as this Court has previously defined, discussion of the issues to be voted upon. PD 991 has required the
refers to those questions which, under the constitution, are to be barangays to hold assemblies or meetings to discuss and debate on
decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to the referendum questions, which in fact they have been doing.
which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the Considering that the proposed amendments came from the
Legislature or executive branch of the Government. It is concerned representatives of the people themselves, the people must have
with the issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a already formed a decision by this time on what stand to take on the
particular measure. 1 proposed amendments come the day for the plebiscite. Besides, the
Constitution itself requires the holding of a plebiscite for the
Here, the question raised is whether the President has authority to ratification of an amendment not later than three (3) months after
propose to the people amendments to the Constitution which the the approval of such amendment or revision but without setting a
petitioners claim is vested solely upon the National Assembly, the definite period within which such plebiscite shall not be held. From
constitutional convention called for the purpose, and the by the this I can only conclude that the framers of the Constitution desired
52
that only a short period shall elapse from the approval of such
amendment or resolution to its ratification by the people.

53
EN BANC GILBERT TEODORO, JR., FELIX WILLIAM
FUENTEBELLA, JULIO LEDESMA IV, HENRY
[G.R. No. 160261. November 10, 2003.] LANOT, KIM BERNARDO-LOKIN, MARCELINO
LIBANAN, EMMYLOU TALIÑO-SANTOS,
DOUGLAS CAGAS, SHERWIN GATCHALIAN,
ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, LUIS BERSAMIN, JR., NERISSA SOON-RUIZ,
JR., petitioner, NAGMAMALASAKIT NA MGA ERNESTO NIEVA, EDGAR ERICE, ISMAEL
MANANANGGOL NG MGA MANGGAGAWANG MATHAY, SAMUEL DANGWA, ALFREDO
PILIPINO, INC., ITS OFFICERS AND MARAÑON, JR., CECILIA CARREON-JALOSJOS,
MEMBERS, petitioner-in-intervention, WORLD AGAPITO AQUINO, FAUSTO SEACHON, JR.,
WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE GEORGILU YUMUL-HERMIDA, JOSE CARLOS
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in- LACSON, MANUEL ORTEGA, ULIRAN JUAQUIN,
intervention, vs. THE HOUSE OF SORAYA JAAFAR, WILHELMINO SY-ALVARADO,
REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY SPEAKER CLAUDE BAUTISTA, DEL DE GUZMAN, ZENAIDA
JOSE G. DE VENECIA, THE SENATE, CRUZ-DUCUT, AUGUSTO BACULIO, FAUSTINO
REPRESENTED BY SENATE PRESIDENT DY III, AUGUSTO SYJUCO, ROZZANO RUFINO
FRANKLIN M. DRILON, REPRESENTATIVE BIAZON, LEOVIGILDO BANAAG, ERIC SINGSON,
GILBERTO C. TEODORO, JR. AND JACINTO PARAS, JOSE SOLIS, RENATO
REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. MATUBO, HERMINO TEVES, AMADO ESPINO,
FUENTEBELLA, respondents, 1 JAIME N. JR., EMILIO MACIAS, ARTHUR PINGOY, JR.,
SORIANO, respondent-in- FRANCIS NEPOMUCENO, CONRADO ESTRELLA
intervention, SENATOR AQUILINO Q. III, ELIAS BULUT, JR., JURDIN ROMUALDO,
PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention. JUAN PABLO BONDOC, GENEROSO TULAGAN,
PERPETUO YLAGAN, MICHAEL DUAVIT,
JOSEPH DURANO, JESLI LAPUS, CARLOS
[G.R. No. 160262. November 10, 2003.] COJUANGCO, GIORGIDI AGGABAO, FRANCIS
ESCUDERRO, RENE VELARDE, CELSO
LOBREGAT, ALIPIO BADELLES, DIDAGEN
SEDFREY M. CANDELARIA, CARLOS P. MEDINA, DILANGALEN, ABRAHAM MITRA, JOSEPH
JR. AND HENEDINA RAZON- SANTIAGO, DARLENE ANTONIO-CUSTODIO,
ABAD, petitioners,ATTYS. ROMULO B. ALETA SUAREZ, RODOLFO PLAZA, JV
MACALINTAL AND PETE QUIRINO BAUTISTA, GREGORIO IPONG, GILBERT
QUADRA, petitioners-in-intervention,WORLD REMULLA, ROLEX SUPLICO, CELIA LAYUS, JUAN
WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE MIGUEL ZUBIRI, BENASING MACARAMBON,
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in- JR., JOSEFINA JOSON, MARK COJUANGCO,
intervention,vs. THE HOUSE OF MAURICIO DOMOGAN, RONALDO ZAMORA,
REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER ANGELO MONTILLA, ROSELLER BARINAGA,
OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, JESNAR FALCON, REYLINA NICOLAS, RODOLFO
SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, ALBANO, JOAQUIN CHIPECO, JR., AND RUY
REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR., ELIAS LOPEZ, respondents, JAIME N.
REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. SORIANO, respondent-in-
FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE intervention, SENATOR AQUILINO Q.
PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT, PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention.
SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M.
DRILON,respondents, JAIME N.
SORIANO, respondent-in-
[G.R. No. 160292. November 10, 2003.]
intervention, SENATOR AQUILINO Q.
PIMENTEL,respondent-in-intervention.
HERMINIO HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., JOEL RUIZ
BUTUYAN, MA. CECILIA PAPA, NAPOLEON C.
[G.R. No. 160263. November 10, 2003.] REYES, ANTONIO H. ABAD, JR., ALFREDO C.
LIGON, JOAN P. SERRANO AND GARY S.
MALLARI, petitioners, WORLD WAR II
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO AND SOLEDAD M. VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES,
CAGAMPANG, petitioners, WORLD WAR II INC.,petitioner-in-intervention, vs. HON.
VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, JR. AND
INC., petitioner-in-intervention, vs. FRANKLIN ROBERTO P. NAZARENO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS
M. DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SENATE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE HOUSE OF
PRESIDENT, AND JOSE G. DE VENECIA, JR., IN REPRESENTATIVES, AND THE HOUSE OF
HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, respondents, JAIME N.
REPRESENTATIVES, respondents, JAIME N. SORIANO,respondent-in-
SORIANO, respondent-in- intervention, SENATOR AQUILINO Q.
intervention, SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention.
PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention.

[G.R. No. 160295. November 10, 2003.]


[G.R. No. 160277. November 10, 2003.]

SALACNIB F. BATERINA AND DEPUTY SPEAKER


FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner, WORLD RAUL M. GONZALES, petitioners, WORLD WAR
WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in- PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-
intervention, vs. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, IN HIS intervention, vs. THE HOUSE OF
CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER
REPRESENTATIVES, FRANKLIN M. DRILON, IN OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER,
HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA,
OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR.,
54
REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER
FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER,
PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA,
SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR.,
DRILON,respondents, JAIME N. REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B.
SORIANO, respondent-in- FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE
intervention, SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PHILIPPINES THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT,
PIMENTEL,respondent-in-intervention. SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M.
DRILON, respondents.

[G.R. No. 160310. November 10, 2003.]


[G.R. No. 160360. November 10, 2003.]
LEONILO R. ALFONSO, PETER ALVAREZ,
SAMUEL DOCTOR, MELVIN MATIBAG, RAMON CLARO B. FLORES, petitioner, vs. THE HOUSE
MIQUIBAS, RODOLFO MAGSINO, EDUARDO OF REPRESENTATIVES THROUGH THE
MALASAGA, EDUARDO SARMIENTO, SPEAKER, AND THE SENATE OF THE
EDGARDO NAOE, LEONARDO GARCIA, PHILIPPINES, THROUGH THE SENATE
EDGARD SMITH, EMETERIO MENDIOLA, PRESIDENT, respondents.
MARIO TOREJA, GUILLERMO CASTASUS,
NELSON A. LOYOLA, WILFREDO BELLO, JR.,
RONNIE TOQUILLO, KATE ANN VITAL, [G.R. No. 160365. November 10, 2003.]
ANGELITA Q. GUZMAN, MONICO PABLES, JR.,
JAIME BOAQUINA, LITA A. AQUINO, MILA P.
GABITO, JANETTE ARROYO, RIZALDY EMPIG, U.P. LAW ALUMNI CEBU FOUNDATION, INC.,
ERNA LAHUZ, HOMER CALIBAG, DR. BING GOERING G.C. PADERANGA, DANILO V. ORTIZ,
ARCE, SIMEON ARCE, JR., EL DELLE ARCE, GLORIA C. ESTENZO-RAMOS, LIZA D. CORRO,
WILLIE RIVERO, DANTE DIAZ, ALBERTO LUIS V. DIORES, SR., BENJAMIN S. RALLON,
BUENAVISTA, FAUSTO BUENAVISTA, EMILY ROLANDO P. NONATO, DANTE T. RAMOS, ELSA
SENERIS, ANNA CLARISSA LOYOLA, SALVACION R. DIVINAGRACIA, KAREN B. CAPARROS-
LOYOLA, RAINIER QUIROLGICO, JOSEPH ARQUILLANO, SYLVA G. AGUIRRE-
LEANDRO LOYOLA, ANTONIO LIBREA, PADERANGA, FOR THEMSELVES AND IN
FILEMON SIBULO, MANUEL D. COMIA, JULITO BEHALF OF OTHER CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC
U. SOON, VIRGILIO LUSTRE, AND NOEL OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners, vs. THE
ISORENA, MAU RESTRIVERA, MAX VILLAESTER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SPEAKER JOSE
AND EDILBERTO GALLOR, petitioners,WORLD G. DE VENECIA, THE SENATE OF THE
WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in- DRILON, HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES FELIX
intervention,vs. THE HOUSE OF FUENTEBELLA AND GILBERTO TEODORO, BY
REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY HON. THEMSELVES AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF
SPEAKER JOSE C. DE VENECIA, JR., THE THE GROUP OF MORE THAN 80 HOUSE
SENATE, REPRESENTED BY HON. SENATE REPRESENTATIVES WHO SIGNED AND FILED
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, HON. FELIX THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST
FUENTEBELLA, ET AL., respondents. SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G.
DAVIDE, JR.,respondents.

[G.R. No. 160318. November 10, 2003.]


[G.R. No. 160370. November 10, 2003.]

PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, INC., CRISPIN T.


REYES, petitioners, vs. HON. SPEAKER JOSE G. FR. RANHILIO CALLANGAN
DE VENECIA, ALL MEMBERS, HOUSE OF AQUINO, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE
REPRESENTATIVES, HON. SENATE PRESIDENT PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE HONORABLE
FRANKLIN M. DRILON, AND ALL MEMBERS, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
PHILIPPINE SENATE, respondents. REPRESENTATIVES, respondents.

[G.R. No. 160342. November 10, 2003.] [G.R. No. 160376. November 10, 2003.]

ATTY. FERNANDO P.R. PERITO, IN HIS NILO A. MALANYAON, petitioner, vs. HON.
CAPACITY AS A MEMBER OF THE INTEGRATED FELIX WILLIAM FUENTEBELLA AND GILBERT
BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, MANILA III, AND TEODORO, IN REPRESENTATION OF THE 86
ENGR. MAXIMO N. MENEZ JR., IN HIS SIGNATORIES OF THE ARTICLES OF
CAPACITY AS A TAXPAYER AND MEMBER OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE
THE ENGINEERING HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. AND THE HOUSE OF
PROFESSION, petitioners, vs. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CONGRESS OF THE
REPRESENTATIVES REPRESENTED BY THE 83 PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY ITS SPEAKER,
HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE LED BY HON. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, respondents.
HON. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM
FUENTEBELLA, respondents.
[G.R. No. 160392. November 10, 2003.]

[G.R. No. 160343. November 10, 2003.] VENICIO S. FLORES AND HECTOR L.
HOFILEÑA, petitioners, vs. THE HOUSE OF
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH SPEAKER JOSE
PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. THE HOUSE OF G. DE VENECIA, AND THE SENATE OF THE
55
PHILIPPINES, THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., alleging underpayment of
FRANKLIN DRILON, respondents. the COLA of the members and personnel of the judiciary from the
JDF and unlawful disbursement of said fund for various
infrastructure projects and acquisition of service vehicles and other
[G.R. No. 160397. November 10, 2003.] equipment. Attached to the second impeachment complaint was a
Resolution of Endorsement/Impeachment signed by at least one-
third (1/3) of all the members of the House of Representatives. The
IN THE MATTER OF THE IMPEACHMENT complaint was set to be transmitted to the Senate for appropriate
COMPLAINT AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO action.
G. DAVIDE, JR., ATTY. DIOSCORO U. VALLEJOS,
JR., petitioner.
Subsequently, several petitions were filed with this Court by
members of the bar, members of the House of Representatives and
private individuals, asserting their rights, among others, as
[G.R. No. 160403. November 10, 2003.]
taxpayers, to stop the illegal spending of public funds for the
impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice. Petitioners
PHILIPPINE BAR contended that the filing of second impeachment complaint against
ASSOCIATION, petitioner, vs. THE HOUSE OF the Chief Justice was barred under Article XI, Sec. 3 (5) of the 1987
REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER Constitution which states that "no impeachment proceedings shall
OR PRESIDING OFFICER, HON. JOSE G. DE be initiated against the same official more than once within a period
VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. of one year."
TEODORO, JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX
WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF The Supreme Court held that the second impeachment complaint
THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH SENATE filed against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. was unconstitutional
PRESIDENT, HON. FRANKLIN or barred under Article XI, Sec. 3 (5) of the 1987 Constitution.
DRILON,respondents. Petitioners, as taxpayers, had sufficient standing to file the petitions
to prevent disbursement of public funds amounting to millions of
pesos for an illegal act. The petitions were justiciable or ripe for
[G.R. No. 160405. November 10, 2003.] adjudication because there was an actual controversy involving
rights that are legally demandable. Whether the issues present a
political question, the Supreme Court held that only questions that
DEMOCRITO C. BARCENAS, PRESIDENT OF IBP, are truly political questions are beyond judicial review. The Supreme
CEBU CITY CHAPTER, MANUEL M. MONZON, Court has the exclusive power to resolve with definitiveness the
PRESIDING OF IBP, CEBU PROVINCE, VICTOR A. issues of constitutionality. It is duty bound to take cognizance of the
MAAMBONG, PROVINCIAL BOARD MEMBER, petitions to exercise the power of judicial review as the guardian of
ADELINO B. SITOY, DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF the Constitution.
LAW, UNIVERSITY OF CEBU, YOUNG LAWYERS
ASSOCIATION OF CEBU, INC. [YLAC],
REPRESENTED BY ATTY. MANUEL LEGASPI,
SYLLABUS
CONFEDERATION OF ACCREDITED MEDIATORS
OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. [CAMP, INC.],
REPRESENTED BY RODERIC R. POCA, 1.POLITICAL LAW; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW; INCLUDES THE
MANDAUE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, DUTY TO CURB GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION BY "ANY BRANCH OR
[MANLAW], REPRESENTED BY FELIPE INSTRUMENTALITY OF GOVERNMENT." — This Court's power of
VELASQUEZ, FEDERACION INTERNACIONAL DE judicial review is conferred on the judicial branch of the government
ABOGADAS [FIDA], REPRESENTED BY THELMA in Section l, Article VIII of our present 1987 Constitution. . . As
L. JORDAN, CARLOS G. CO, PRESIDENT OF pointed out by Justice Laurel, this "moderating power" to
CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND "determine the proper allocation of powers" of the different
INDUSTRY AND CEBU LADY LAWYERS branches of government and "to direct the course of government
ASSOCIATION, INC. [CELLA, INC.], MARIBELLE along constitutional channels" is inherent in all courts as a necessary
NAVARRO AND BERNARDITO FLORIDO, PAST consequence of the judicial power itself, which is "the power of the
PRESIDENT CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE court to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally
AND INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, demandable and enforceable.". . In the scholarly estimation of
CEBU CHAPTER,petitioners, vs. THE HOUSE OF former Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano, ". . . judicial
REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY REP. review is essential for the maintenance and enforcement of the
JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AS HOUSE SPEAKER AND separation of powers and the balancing of powers among the three
THE SENATE, REPRESENTED BY SENATOR great departments of government through the definition and
FRANKLIN DRILON, AS SENATE maintenance of the boundaries of authority and control between
PRESIDENT, respondents. them." To him,"[j]udicial review is the chief, indeed the only,
medium of participation — or instrument of intervention — of the
judiciary in that balancing operation." To ensure the potency of the
SYNOPSIS power of judicial review to curb grave abuse of discretion by "any
branch or instrumentalities of government." the afore-quoted
Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution engraves, for the first time
On June 2, 2003, former President Joseph E. Estrada filed with the into its history, into block letter law the so-called
Office of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives, a "expanded certiorari jurisdiction" of this court.
verified impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G.
Davide, Jr. and seven (7) other Associate Justices of the Court for
violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and, 2.ID.; ID.; ID.; AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE AND AUTHORITIES
committing high crimes. The House Committee on Justice CONFERRING UPON THE LEGISLATURE THE DETERMINATION OF ALL
subsequently dismissed said complaint on October 22, 2003 for ISSUES PERTAINING TO IMPEACHMENT TO THE TOTAL EXCLUSION
insufficiency of substance. OF THE POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW ARE OF DUBIOUS APPLICATION
WITHIN OUR JURISDICTION; CASE AT BAR. — Respondents' and
intervenors' reliance upon American jurisprudence, the American
The next day, or on October 23, 2003, Representatives Gilberto C. Constitution and American authorities cannot be credited to support
Teodoro, Jr., First District, Tarlac and Felix William B. Fuentebella, the proposition that the Senate's "sole power to try and decide
Third District, Camarines Sur, filed another verified impeachment impeachment cases," as provided for under Art. XI, Sec. 3(6) of the
complaint with the Office of the Secretary General of the House Constitution, is a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment
56
of all issues pertaining to impeachment to the legislature, to the judicial restraint over justiciable issues is not an option before this
total exclusion of the power of judicial review to check and restrain Court. Adjudication may not be declined, because this Court is not
any grave abuse of the impeachment process. Nor can it reasonably legally disqualified. Nor can jurisdiction be renounced as there is no
support the interpretation that it necessarily confers upon the other tribunal to which the controversy may be referred."Otherwise,
Senate the inherently judicial power to determine constitutional this Court would be shirking from its duty vested under Art. VIII, Sec.
questions incident to impeachment proceedings. Said American 1(2) of the Constitution. More than being clothed with authority
jurisprudence and authorities, much less the American Constitution, thus, this Court is duty-bound to take cognizance of the instant
are of dubious application for these are no longer controlling within petitions. In the august words of amicus curiaeFather Bernas
our jurisdiction and have only limited persuasive merit insofar as "jurisdiction is not just a power; it is a solemn duty which may not be
Philippine constitutional law is concerned. As held in the case renounced. To renounce it, even if it is vexatious, would be a
of Garcia vs. COMELEC, "[i]n resolving constitutional disputes, [this dereliction of duty." Even in cases where it is an interested party, the
Court] should not be beguiled by foreign jurisprudence some of Court under our system of government cannot inhibit itself and must
which are hardly applicable because they have been dictated by rule upon the challenge because no other office has the authority to
different constitutional settings and needs." Indeed, although the do so. On the occasion when this Court had been an interested party
Philippine Constitution can trace its origins to that of the United to the controversy before it, it had acted upon the matter "not with
States, their paths of development have long since diverged. In the officiousness but in the discharge of an unavoidable duty and, as
colorful words of amicius curiae Father Bernas, "[w]e have cut the always, with detachment and fairness." After all, "by [his]
umbilical cord." appointment to the office, the public has laid on [a member of the
judiciary] their confidence that [he] is mentally and morally fit to
3.ID.; ID.; ID.; DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE JUDICIAL POWER OF THE pass upon the merits of their varied contentions. For this reason,
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT AND THAT OF THE U.S. SUPREME they expect [him] to be fearless in [his] pursuit to render justice, toi
COURT AND DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINE AND U.S. be unafraid to displease any person, interest or power and to
CONSTITUTIONS. — The major difference between the judicial equipped with a moral fiber strong enough to resist the temptation
power of the Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme lurking in [his] office."
Court is that while the power of judicial review is
only impliedly granted to the U.S. Supreme Court and is
discretionary in nature, that granted to the Philippine Supreme
Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for in the Constitution, 7.POLITICAL LAW; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; IMPEACHMENT
is not just a power but also a duty, and it was given an expanded POWER; ONE-YEAR BAN PROHIBITING THE INITIATION OF
definition to include the power to correct any grave abuse of IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE SAME OFFICIALS
discretion on the part of any government branch or instrumentality. UNDER SECTION 3(5) OF THE CONSTITUTION; MEANING OF TIE
There are also glaring distinctions between the U.S. Constitution and TERM "INITIATE"; CASE AT BAR. — From the records of the
the Philippine Constitution with respect to the power of the House Constitutional Commission, to the amicus curiae briefs of two
of Representatives over impeachment proceedings. While the U.S. former Constitutional Commissioners, it is without a doubt that the
Constitution bestows sole power of impeachment to the House of term "to initiate" refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint
Representatives without limitation, our Constitution, though vesting coupled with Congress' taking initial action on said complaint.
in the House of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing
impeachment cases, provides for several limitations to the exercise and referral or endorsement of the impeachment complaint to the
of such power as embodied in Section 3(2), (3). (4) and (5), Article XI House Committee on Justice or, by the filing by at least one-third of
thereof. These limitations include the manner of filing, required vote the members of the House of Representatives with the Secretary
to impeach, and the one year bar on the impeachment of one and General of the House, the meaning of Section 3(5) of Article XI
the same official. becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated,
another impeachment complaint may not be filed against the same
4.ID.; ID.; POWER EXCLUSIVELY VESTED IN THE JUDICIARY; official within a one year period.
CONGRESS HAS NO POWER TO RULE ON THE ISSUE OF
CONSTITUTIONALITY. — The futility of seeking remedies from either 8.ID.; ID.; ID.; POWER OF CONGRESS TO MAKE AND INTERPRET ITS
or both Houses of Congress before coming to this Court is shown by RULES ON IMPEACHMENT IS NOT ABSOLUTE; IMPEACHMENT RULES
the fact that, as previously discussed, neither the House of MUST EFFECTIVELY CARRY OUT THE PURPOSE OF THE
Representatives nor the Senate is clothed with the power to rule CONSTITUTION. — Respondent House of Representatives counters
with definitiveness on the issue of constitutionality, whether that under Section 3 (8) of Article XI, it is clear and unequivocal that
concerning impeachment proceedings or otherwise, as said power is it and only it has the power to make and interpret its rules governing
exclusively vested in the judiciary by the earlier quoted Section 1, impeachment. Its argument is premised on the assumption that
Article VIII of the Constitution. Remedy cannot be sought from a Congress has absolute power to promulgate its rules. This
body which is bereft of power to grant it. assumption, however, is misplaced. Section 3(8) of Article XI
provides that "The Congress shall promulgate its rules on
5.ID.; ID.; JUDICIAL POWER IS NOT ONLY A POWER BUT ALSO A impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this section."
DUTY; ONLY "TRULY POLITICAL QUESTIONS" ARE BEYOND JUDICIAL Clearly, its power to promulgate its rules on impeachment is limited
REVIEW. — From the foregoing record of the proceedings of the by the phrase "to effectively carry out the purpose of this section."
1986 Constitutional Commission, it is clear that judicial power is not Hence, these rules cannot contravene the very purpose of the
only a power; it is also a duty, a duty which cannot be abdicated by Constitution which said rules were intended to effectively carry out.
the mere specter of this creature called the political question Moreover, Section 3 of Article XI clearly provides for other specific
doctrine. Chief Justice Concepcion hastened to clarify, however, that limitations on its power to make rules.
Section 1, Article VIII was not intended to do away with "truly
political questions." From this clarification it is gathered that there VITUG, J., separate opinion:
are two species of political questions: (1) "truly political questions"
and (2) those which "are not truly political questions." Truly political
1.POLITICAL LAW; SUPREME COURT; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW;
questions are thus beyond judicial review, the reason being that
NOT FORECLOSED BY THE ISSUE OF "POLITICAL QUESTION" ON AN
respect for the doctrine of separation of powers must be
ASSAILED ACT OF A BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT WHERE DISCRETION
maintained. On the other hand. by virtue of Section 1, Article VIII of
HAS NOT, IN FACT BEEN VESTED, YET ASSUMED AND EXERCISED. —
the Constitution, courts can review questions which are not truly
The Court should not consider the issue of "political question" as
political in nature.
foreclosing judicial review on an assailed act of a branch of
government in instances where discretion has not, in fact, been
6.ID.; ID.; EXERCISE OF JUDICIAL RESTRAINT OVER JUSTICIABLE vested, yet assumed and exercised. Where, upon the other hand,
ISSUES IS NOT AN OPTION; COURT IS DUTY BOUND TO TAKE such discretion is given, the "political question doctrine" may be
COGNIZANCE OF PETITIONS IN CASE AT BAR. — The exercise of ignored only if the Court sees such review as necessary to void an
57
action committed with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack thereof, then the Court as the protector and interpreter of the
or excess of jurisdiction. In the latter case, the constitutional grant of Constitution is duty-bound to intervene and "to settle" the issue. . .
the power of judicial review vested by the Philippine Constitution on In the present cases, the main issue is whether, in initiating the
the Supreme Court is rather clear and positive, certainly and second Impeachment Complaint, the House of Representatives
textually broader and more potent than where it has been violated Article XI, Section 3(5), which provides that "[n]o
borrowed. impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official
more than once within a period of one year." The interpretation of
2.ID.; ID.; SCOPE OF POWER UNDER THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, this constitutional prohibition or condition as it applies to the second
EXPANDED; VIOLATIONS OF CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATES ARE Impeachment Complaint clearly involves the "legality, not the
SUBJECT TO JUDICIAL INQUIRY; SUPREME COURT AS THE ULTIMATE wisdom" of the acts of the House of Representatives. Thus, the
ARBITER ON, AND THE ADJUDGED SENTINEL OF THE CONSTITUTION. Court must "settle it."
— The 1987 Constitution has, in good measure, "narrowed the reach
of the `political question doctrine' by expanding the power of judicial SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J., separate concurring opinion:
review of the Supreme Court not only to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable but 1.POLITICAL LAW; SUPREME COURT; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW;
also to determine whether or not grave abuse of discretion has COURT SHOULD DO ITS DUTY TO INTERPRET THE LAW EVEN IF
attended an act of any branch or instrumentality of government. THERE IS A DANGER OF EXPOSING THE COURT'S INABILITY IN GIVING
When constitutional limits or proscriptions are expressed, discretion EFFICACY TO ITS JUDGMENT. — Confronted with an issue involving
is effectively withheld. Thus, issues pertaining to who are constitutional infringement, should this Court shackle its hands under
impeachable officers, the number of votes necessary to impeach and the principle of judicial self restraint? The polarized opinions of
the prohibition against initiation of impeachment proceeding twice the amici curiae is that by asserting its power of judicial review, this
against the same official in a single year, provided for in Sections 2, Court can maintain the supremacy of the Constitution but at the
3, and 4, and 5 of Article XI of the Constitution, verily are subject to same time invites a disastrous confrontation with the House of
judicial inquiry, and any violation or disregard of these explicit Representatives. A question repeated almost to satiety is — what if
Constitutional mandates can be struck down by the Court in the the House holds its ground and refuses to respect the Decision of this
exercise of judicial power. In so doing, the Court does not thereby Court? It is argued that there will be a Constitutional crisis.
arrogate unto itself, let alone assume superiority over, nor undue Nonetheless, despite such impending scenario, I believe this Court
interference into the domain of, a co-equal branch of government, should do its duty mandated by the Constitution, seeing to it that it
but merely fulfills its constitutional duty to uphold the supremacy of acts within the bounds of its authority. The 1987 Constitution speaks
the Constitution. The judiciary may be the weakest among the three of judicial prerogative not only in terms of power but also of duty. As
branches of government but it concededly and rightly occupies the the last guardian of the Constitution, the Court's duty is to uphold
post of being the ultimate arbiter on, and the adjudged sentinel of, and defend it at all times and for all persons. It is a duty this Court
the Constitution. cannot abdicate. It is a mandatory and inescapable obligation —
made particularly more exacting and peremptory by the oath of
3.ID.; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS; each member of this Court. Judicial reluctance on the face of a clear
ONE-YEAR BAN PROHIBITING THE INITIATION OF A SECOND constitutional transgression may bring about the death of the rule of
IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST THE SAME OFFICIALS UNDER law in this country. Yes, there is indeed a danger of exposing the
SECTION 3(5) OF THE CONSTITUTION; MEANING OF THE TERM, Court's inability in giving efficacy to its judgment. But is it not the
"INITIATE"; CASE AT BAR. — I would second the view that the term way in our present system of government? The Legislature enacts
"initiate" should be construed as the physical act of filing the the law, the Judiciary interprets it and the Executive implements it. It
complaint, coupled with an action by the House taking cognizance of is not for the Court to withhold its judgment just because it would
it, i.e., referring the complaint to the proper Committee. Evidently, be a futile exercise of authority. It should do its duty to interpret the
the House of Representatives had taken cognizance of the first law.
complaint and acted on it — 1) The complaint was filed on 02 June
2003 by former President Joseph Estrada along with the resolutions 2.ID.; ID.; ID.; IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS; SUPREME COURT HAS
of endorsement signed by three members of the House of POWER TO DECLARE HOUSE RULES OR ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL IF
Representatives; 2) on 01 August 2003, the Speaker of the House FORBIDDEN BY THE CONSTITUTION. — While the power to initiate
directed the chairman of the House Committee on Rules, to include all cases of impeachment is regarded as a matter of "exclusive"
in the Order of Business the complaint; 3) on 13 October 2003, the concern only of the House of Representatives, over which the other
House Committee on Justice included the complaint in its Order of departments may not exercise jurisdiction by virtue of the
Business and ruled that the complaint was sufficient in form; and 4) separation of powers established by the fundamental law, it does
on 22 October 2003, the House Committee on Justice dismissed the not follow that the House of Representatives may not overstep its
complaint for impeachment against the eight justices, including own powers defined and limited by the Constitution. Indeed, it
Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., of the Supreme Court, for being cannot, under the guise of implementing its Rules, transgress the
insufficient in substance. The following day, on 23 October 2003, the Constitution, for when it does, its act immediately ceases to be a
second impeachment complaint was filed by two members of the mere internal concern. Surely, by imposing limitations on specific
House of Representatives, accompanied by an endorsement signed powers of the House of Representatives, a fortiori, the Constitution
by at least one-third of its membership, against the Chief Justice. has prescribed a diminution of its "exclusive power." I am sure that
the honorable Members of the House who took part in the
PANGANIBAN, J. separate concurring opinion: promulgation and adoption of its internal rules on impeachment did
not intend to disregard or disobey the clear mandate of the
POLITICAL LAW; SUPREME COURT; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW; Constitution — the law of the people. And I confidently believe that
HAS THE DUTY TO DETERMINE WHETHER ANY INCIDENT OF THE they recognize, as fully as this Court does, that the Constitution is
IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDING VIOLATES ANY CONSTITUTIONAL the supreme law of the land, equally binding upon every branch or
PROHIBITION; CASE AT BAR. — The constitution imposes on the department of the government and upon every citizen, high or low.
Supreme court the duty to rule on unconstitutional acts of "any" It need not be stressed that under our present form of government,
branch or instrumentality of government. Such duty is plenary, the executive, legislative and judicial departments are coequal and
extensive and admits of no exceptions. While the Court is not co-important. But it does not follow that this Court, whose
authorized to pass upon the wisdom of an impeachment, it is Constitutional primary duty is to interpret the supreme law of the
nonetheless obligated to determine whether any incident of the land, has not the power to declare the House Rules unconstitutional.
impeachment proceedings violates any constitutional prohibition, Of course, this Court will not attempt to require the House of
condition or limitation imposed on its exercise. Thus, normally, the Representatives to adopt a particular action, but it is authorized and
Court may not inquire into how and why the house initiates an empowered to pronounce an action null and void if found to be
impeachment complaint. But if in initiating one, it violates a contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
constitutional prohibition, condition or limitation on the exercise

58
3.ID.; ID.; ID.; IMPEACHMENT CASES; PETITIONERS, AS TAXPAYERS, judicial power of the Court includes the power to settle
HAVE LOCUS STANDI TO QUESTION VALIDITY OF THE SECOND controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST THE CHIEF JUSTICE. — Indeed, enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a
the present suits involve matters of first impression and of immense grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
importance to the public considering that, as previously stated, this on the part of the branch or instrumentality of the Government."
is the first time a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is being InEstrada v. Desierto, this Court held that with the new provision in
subjected to an impeachment proceeding which, according to the Constitution, courts are given a greater prerogative to determine
petitioners, is prohibited by the Constitution. Obviously, if such what it can do to prevent grave abuse of discretion amounting to
proceeding is not prevented and nullified, public funds amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
millions of pesos will be disbursed for an illegal act. Undoubtedly, instrumentality of government. The constitution is the supreme law
this is a grave national concern involving paramount public interest. on all governmental agencies, including the House of
The petitions are properly instituted to avert such a situation. Representatives and the Senate. Under Section 4(2), Article VIII of
the Constitution, the Supreme Court is vested with jurisdiction over
CORONA, J., separate opinion: cases involving the constitutionality, application and operation of
government rules and regulations, including the constitutionality,
application and operation of rules of the House of Representatives,
1.POLITICAL LAW; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; IMPEACHMENT;
as well as the Senate. It is competent and proper for the Court to
PURPOSE; INTENDED TO BE AN INSTRUMENT OF LAST RESORT. —
consider whether the proceedings in Congress are in conformity
Impeachment has been described as sui generis and an "exceptional
with the Constitution and the law because living under the
method of removing exceptional public officials (that must be)
Constitution, no branch or department of the government is
exercised by the Congress with exceptional caution." Thus, it is
supreme; and it is the duty of the judiciary to determine cases
directed only at an exclusive list of officials, providing for complex
regularly brought before them, whether the powers of any branch of
procedures, exclusive grounds and every stringent limitations. The
the government and even those of the legislative enactment of laws
implied constitutional caveat on impeachment is that Congress
and rules have been exercised in conformity with the Constitution;
should use that awesome power only for protecting the welfare of
and if they have not, to treat their acts as null and void. Under
the state and the people, and not merely the personal interests of a
Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution, the Court has exclusive
few. There exists no doubt in my mind that the framers of the
jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari and prohibition. The House
Constitution intended impeachment to be an instrument of last
of Representatives may have the sole power to initiate
resort, a draconian measure to be exercised only when there are no
impeachment cases, and the Senate the sole power to try and
other alternatives available. It was never meant to be a bargaining
decide the said cases, but the exercise of such powers must be in
chip, much less a weapon for political leverage. Unsubstantiated
conformity with and not in derogation of the Constitution.
allegations, mere suspicions of wrongdoing and other less than
serious grounds, needless to state, preclude its invocation or
exercise. AZCUNA, J., separate opinion:

2.POLITICAL LAW; SUPREME COURT; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW; 1.POLITICAL LAW; SUPREME COURT; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW;
SUPREME COURT HAS THE DUTY TO DECIDE PENDING PETITIONS TO PETITIONERS, AS TAXPAYERS, HAVE LOCUS STANDI TO QUESTION
MAINTAIN THE SUPREMACY OF THE CONSTITUTION IN CASE AT BAR. VALIDITY OF THE SECOND IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST THE
— The Court has the obligation to decide on the issues before us to CHIEF JUSTICE; JUSTICIABILITY OF PETITIONS IN CASE AT BAR. —
preserve the hierarchy of laws and to maintain the supremacy of the There can be no serious challenge as to petitioners' locus standi.
rule of the Constitution over the rule of men, . . .The Court should Eight are Members of the House of Representatives, with direct
not evade its duty to decide the pending petitions because of its interest in the integrity of its proceedings. Furthermore, petitioners
sworn responsibility as the guardian of the Constitution. To refuse as taxpayers have sufficient standing, in view of the transcendental
cognizance of the present petitions merely because they indirectly importance of the issue at hand. It goes beyond the fate of Chief
concern the Chief Justice of this Court is to skirt the duty of Justice Davide, as it shakes the very foundations of our system of
dispensing fair and impartial justice. Furthermore, refusing to government and poses a question as to our survival as a democratic
assume jurisdiction under these circumstances will run afoul of the polity. There is, moreover, an actual controversy involving rights that
great traditions of our democratic way of life and the very reason are legally demandable, thereby leaving no doubt as to the
why this Court exists in the first place. justiciability of the petitions.

3.ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SCOPE OF POWER UNDER THE 1987 2.ID.; ID.; ID.; IMPEACHMENT CASES; SUPREME COURT HAS THE
CONSTITUTION EXPANDED. — Under the new definition of judicial DUTY TO CONSIDER WHETHER THE PROCEEDINGS THEREIN
power embodied in Article VIII, Section 1, courts of justice have not CONFORM WITH THE CONSTITUTION. — Unlike the Constitutions of
only the authority but also the duty to "settle actual controversies other countries, that of the Philippines, our Constitution, has opted
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable" and textually to commit the sole power and the exclusive power to this
"to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of and to that Department or branch of government, but in doing so it
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part has further provided specific procedures and equally textually
of any branch or instrumentality of the government." The Court can identifiable limits to the exercise of those powers. Thus, the filing of
therefore, in certain situations provided in the Constitution itself, the complaint for impeachment is provided for in detail as to who
inquire into the acts of Congress and the President, though with may file and as to what shall be done to the complaint after it is
great hesitation and prudence owing to mutual respect and comity. filed, the referral to the proper Committee, its hearing, its voting, its
Among these situations, in so far as the pending petitions are report to the House, and the action of the House thereon, and the
concerned, are (1) issues involving constitutionality and (2) grave timeframes for every step (Subsection 2). Similarly, the required
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction on number of votes to affirm or override a favorable or contrary
the part of any branch of the government. These are the strongest resolution is stated (Subsection 3). So, also, what is needed for a
reasons for the Court to exercise its jurisdiction over the pending complaint or resolution of impeachment to constitute the Articles of
cases before us. Impeachment, so that trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed, is
specifically laid down, i.e., a verified complaint or resolution of
impeachment filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the
CALLEJO, SR., J., separate opinion:
House (Subsection 4). It is my view that when the Constitution not
only gives or allocates the power to one Department or branch of
POLITICAL LAW; SUPREME COURT; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW; government, be it solely or exclusively, but also, at the same time, or
IMPEACHMENT CASES; SUPREME COURT HAS THE DUTY TO together with the grant or allocation, specifically provides certain
CONSIDER WHETHER THE PROCEEDINGS IN CONGRESS ARE IN limits to its exercise, then this Court, belonging to the Department
CONFORMITY WITH THE CONSTITUTION. — Under Section 1, Article called upon under the Constitution to interpret its provisions, has
VIII of the Constitution, "judicial power is vested in the Supreme the jurisdiction to do so. And, in fact, this jurisdiction of the Court is
Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. The
59
not so much a power as a duty, as clearly set forth in Article VIII, is a looming prospect that an invalid impeachment complaint
Section 1 of the Constitution. emanating from an unconstitutional set of House rules would be
presented to the Senate for action. The proper recourse would be to
3.ID.; LEGISLATION DEPARTMENT; IMPEACHMENT; ONE-YEAR BAN dismiss the complaint on constitutional grounds. Yet, from the
PROHIBITING THE INITIATION THEREOF AGAINST THE SAME Constitutional and practical perspectives, only this Court may grant
OFFICIALS UNDER ARTICLE XI, SECTION 3(5) OF THE CONSTITUTION; that relief. The Senate cannot be expected to declare void
MEANING OF THE TERM "INITIATE." — It is also contended that the theArticles of Impeachment, as well as the offending Rules of the
provision of Article XI, Sec. 3 (5) refers to impeachment House based on which the House completed the impeachment
proceedings in the Senate, not in the House of Representatives. This process. The Senate cannot look beyond the Articles of
is premised on the wording of Article XI, Sec. 3 (1) which states that Impeachment. Under the Constitution, the Senate's mandate is
"The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to solely to try and decide the impeachment complaint. While the
initiate all cases of impeachment." Thus, it is argued, cases of Senate acts as an impeachment court for the purpose of trying and
impeachment are initiated only by the filing thereof by the House of deciding impeachment cases, such "transformation" does not vest
Representatives with the Senate, so that impeachment proceedings unto the Senate any of the powers inherent in the Judiciary, because
are those that follow said filing. This interpretation does violence to impeachment powers are not residual with the Senate. Whatever
the carefully allocated division of power found in Article XI, Sec. 3. powers the Senate may acquire as an impeachment court are limited
Precisely, the first part of the power is lodged with the House, that to what the Constitution provides, if any, and they cannot extend to
of initiating impeachment, so that a respondent hailed by the House judicial-like review of the acts of co-equal components of
before the Senate is a fact and in law already impeached. What the government, including those of the House. Pursuing the concept of
House initiates in the Senate is an impeachment CASE, not the Senate as an impeachment court, its jurisdiction, like that of the
PROCEEDINGS. The proceedings for impeachment preceded that and regular courts,' has to be conferred by law and it cannot be
took place exclusively in the House (in fact, non-members of the presumed. This is the principle that binds and guides all courts of the
House cannot initiate it and there is a need for a House member to land, and it should likewise govern the impeachment court, limited
endorse the complaint). And what takes place in the Senate is the as its functions may be. There must be an express grant of authority
trial and the decision. For this reason, Subsections (1) to (5) of in the Constitution empowering the Senate to pass upon the
Article XI, Section 3 apply to the House whereas Subsections (6) and House Rules on Impeachment.
(7) apply to the Senate, and Subsection (8) applies to both, or to
"Congress." There is therefore a sequence or order in these 3.ID.; ID.; INTER-CHAMBER COURTESY; ANY ATTEMPT OF THE
subsections, and the contrary view disregards the same. SENATE TO INVALIDATE THE HOUSE RULES OF IMPEACHMENT IS
OBNOXIOUS TO INTER-CHAMBER COURTESY. — Ought to be
recognized too is the tradition of comity observed by members of
Congress commonly referred to as "inter-chamber courtesy." It is
simply the mutual deference accorded by the chambers of Congress
TINGA, J., separate opinion:
to each other. Thus, "the opinion of each House should be
independent and not influenced by the proceedings of the other."
1.POLITICAL LAW; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; IMPEACHMENT, While inter-chamber courtesy is not a principle which has attained
NATURE OF. — On the question of whether it is proper for this Court the level of a statutory command, it enjoys a high degree of
to decide the petitions, it would be useless for us to pretend that the obeisance among the members of the legislature, ensuring as it does
official being impeached is not a member of this Court, much less the smooth flow of the legislative process. It is my belief that any
the primus inter pares. Simplistic notions of rectitude will cause a attempt on the part of the Senate to invalidate the House Rules of
furor over the decision of this Court, even if it is the right decision. Impeachment is obnoxious to inter-chamber courtesy. If the Senate
Yet we must decide this case because the Constitution dictates that were to render these House Rules unconstitutional, it would set an
we do so. The most fatal charge that can be levied against this Court unfortunate precedent that might engender a wrong-headed
is that it did not obey the Constitution. The Supreme Court cannot assertion that one chamber of Congress may invalidate the rules and
afford, as it did in the Javellana case, to abdicate its duty and refuse regulations promulgated by the other chamber. Verily, the duty to
to address a constitutional violation of a co-equal branch of pass upon the validity of the House Rules of Impeachment is
government just because it feared the political repercussions. And it imposed by the Constitution not upon the Senate but upon this
is comforting that this Court need not rest merely on rhetoric in Court.
deciding that it is proper for it to decide the petitions, despite the
fact that the fate of the Chief Justice rests in the balance.
4.ID.; SUPREME COURT; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW; SUPREME
Jurisprudence is replete with instances when this Court was called
COURT HAS THE DUTY TO ADDRESS CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION OF
upon to exercise judicial duty, notwithstanding the fact that the
A CO-EQUAL BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, EVEN IF IT WOULD
application of the same could benefit one or all members of the
REDOUND TO THE BENEFIT OF ONE, SOME OR EVEN ALL MEMBERS
Court. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the second
OF THE COURT. — On the question of whether it is proper for this
impeachment complaint is forever barred; only that it should be
Court to decide the petitions, it would be useless for us to pretend
dismissed without prejudice to its re-filing after one year from the
that the official being impeached is not a member of this Court,
filing of the first impeachment complaint. Indeed, this Court cannot
much less the primus inter pares. Simplistic notions of rectitude will
deprive the House of the exclusive power of impeachment lodged in
cause a furor over the decision of this Court, even if it is the right
the House by the Constitution. In taking cognizance of this case, the
decision. Yet we must decide this case because the Constitution
Court does not do so out of empathy or loyalty for one of our
dictates that we do so. The most fatal charge that can be levied
Brethren. Nor does it do so out of enmity or loathing toward the
against this Court is that it did not obey the Constitution. The
Members of a co-equal branch, whom I still call and regard as my
Supreme Court cannot afford, as it did in the Javellana case, to
Brethren. The Court, in assuming jurisdiction over this case, to
abdicate its duty and refuse to address a constitutional violation of a
repeat, does so only out of duty, a duty reposed no less by the
co-equal branch of government just because it feared the political
fundamental law.
repercussions. And it is comforting that this Court need not rest
merely on rhetoric in deciding that it is proper for it to decide the
2.ID.; ID.; ID.; SENATE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO PASS UPON THE petitions, despite the fact that the fate of the Chief Justice rests in
HOUSE RULES ON IMPEACHMENT. — Despite suggestions to the the balance. Jurisprudence is replete with instances when this Court
contrary, I maintain that the Senate does not have the jurisdiction to responded to the call of judicial duty, notwithstanding the fact that
determine whether or not the House Rules of Impeachment violate the performance of the duty would ultimately redound to the
the Constitution. As I earlier stated, impeachment is not an inherent benefit of one, some or even all members of the Court. . . Indeed,
legislative function, although it is traditionally conferred on the this Court cannot deprive the House of the exclusive power of
legislature. It requires the mandate of a constitutional provision impeachment lodged in the House by the Constitution. In taking
before the legislature can assume impeachment functions. The grant cognizance of this case, the Court does not do so out of empathy or
of power should be explicit in the Constitution. It cannot be readily loyalty for one of our Brethren. Nor does it do so out of enmity or
carved out of the shade of a presumed penumbra. In this case, there loathing toward the Members of a coequal branch, whom I still call
60
and regard as my Brethren. The Court, in assuming jurisdiction over have an obligation to interpret the constitution. In fine, the Court,
this case, to repeat, does so only out of duty, a duty reposed no less under the coordinacy theory, considers the preceding constitutional
by the fundamental law. judgments made by other branches of government. By no means
however, does it signify complete judicial deference. Coordinacy
PUNO, J., concurring and dissenting: means courts listen to the voice of the President and Congress but
their voice does not silence the judiciary. The doctrine in Marbury v.
Madison that courts are not bound by the constitutional
1.POLITICAL LAW; IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS; HISTORIOGRAPHY
interpretation of other branches of government still rings true. As
OF OUR IMPEACHMENT PROVISIONS SHOW INHERENT NATURE OF
well stated, "the coordinacy thesis is quite compatible with a judicial
IMPEACHMENT AS POLITICAL. — The historiography of our
deference that accommodates the views of other branches, while
impeachment provisions will show that they were liberally lifted
not amounting to an abdication of judicial review." With due respect,
from the US Constitution. Following an originalist interpretation,
I cannot take the extreme position of judicial restraint that always
there is much to commend to the thought that they are political in
defers on the one hand, or judicial activism that never defers on the
nature and character. The political character of impeachment hardly
other. I prefer to take the contextual approach of the coordinacy
changed in our 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Thus, among the
theory which considers the constitution's allocation of decision-
grounds of impeachment are "other high crimes or betrayal of public
making authority, the constitution's judgments as to the relative
trust." They hardly have any judicially ascertainable content. The
risks of action and inaction by each branch of government, and the
power of impeachment is textually committed to Congress, a
fears and aspirations embodies in the different provisions of the
political branch of government. The right to accuse
constitution. The contextual approach better attends to the specific
is exclusively given to the House of Representatives. The right to try
character of particular constitutional provisions and calibrates
and decide is given solely to the Senate and not to the Supreme
deference or restraint accordingly on a case to case basis. In doing
Court. The Chief Justice has a limited part in the process . . . to
so, it allows the legislature adequate leeway to carry out their
preside but without the right to vote when the President is under
constitutional duties while at the same time ensuring that any abuse
impeachment. Likewise, the President cannot exercise his pardoning
does not undermine important constitutional principles. . . Their
power in cases of impeachment. All these provisions confirm the
correct calibration will compel the conclusion that this Court should
inherent nature of impeachment as political.
defer the exercise of its ultimate jurisdiction over the petitions at bar
out of prudence and respect to the initial exercise by the legislature
2.ID.; ID.; ID.; REENGINEERED CONCEPT OF OUR IMPEACHMENT IS of its jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings.
NOW A COMMIXTURE OF POLITICAL AND JUDICIAL COMPONENTS;
RIGHT OF CHIEF JUSTICE AGAINST THE INITIATION OF A SECOND
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., concurring and dissenting:
IMPEACHMENT WITHIN ONE YEAR IS A JUSTICIABLE ISSUE. — Be
that as it may, the purity of the political nature of impeachment has
been lost. Some legal scholars characterize impeachment 1.POLITICAL LAW; SUPREME COURT; POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW ;
proceedings as akin to criminal proceedings. Thus, they point to IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS; SUPREME COURT HAS THE DUTY TO
some of the grounds of impeachment like treason, bribery, graft and REVIEW THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE ACTS OF CONGRESS. — I
corruption as well defined criminal offenses. They stress that the also concur with theponente that the Court has the power of judicial
impeached official undergoes trial in the Senate sitting as an review: This power of the Court has been expanded by the
impeachment court. If found guilty, the impeached official suffers Constitution not only to settle actual controversies involving rights
a penalty "which shall not be further than removal from office and which are legally demandable and enforceable but also to determine
disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion
Philippines." I therefore respectfully submit that there is now a amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of an branch
commixture of political and judicial components in our reengineered or instrumentality of government. The court is under mandate to
concept of impeachment. It is for this reason and more that assume jurisdiction over, and to undertake judicial inquiry into, what
impeachment proceedings A classified as sui generis. To be sure, our may even be deemed to be political questions provided, however,
impeachment proceedings are indigenous, a kind of its own. They that grave abuse of discretion — the sole test of justiciability on
have been shaped by our distinct political experience especially in purely political issues — is shown to have attended the contested
the last fifty years. EDSA People Power I resulted in the radical act. The Court checks the exercise of power of the other branches of
rearrangement of the powers of government in the 1987 government through judicial review. It is the final arbiter of the
Constitution. disputes involving the proper allocation and exercise of the different
powers under the Constitution. When the Supreme Court reviews
the Constitutionality of the acts of Congress, it does not thereby
assert its superiority over a co-equal branch of government. It
merely asserts its solemn and sacred obligation under the
3.ID.; ID.; INITIATION THEREOF AND ITS DECISION ARE INITIALLY Constitution and affirms constitutional supremacy. Indeed, in the
BEST LEFT TO CONGRESS; COORDINACY THEORY OF resolution of the principal issue in these petitions, a distinction has
CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION AND PRUDENTIAL to be drawn between the power of the members of the House of
CONSIDERATIONS DEMAND DEFERMENT OF COURT'S EXERCISE OF Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings, on the one
JURISDICTION OVER PETITIONS; CASE AT BAR. — I most respectfully hand, and the manner in which they have exercised that power.
submit, that the 1987 Constitution adopted neither judicial restraint While it is clear that the House has the exclusive power to initiate
nor judicial activism as a political philosophy to the exclusion of each impeachment cases, and the Senate has the sole power to try and
other. The expanded definition of judicial power gives the Court decide these cases, the Court, upon a proper finding that either
enough elbow room to be more activist in dealing with political chamber committed, grave abuse of discretion or violated any
questions but did not necessarily junk restraint in resolving them. constitutional provision, may invoke its corrective power of judicial
Political questions are not undifferentiated questions. They are of review.
different variety. The antagonism between judicial restraint and
judicial activism is avoided by thecoordinacy theory of constitutional
2.ID.; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS;
interpretation. This coordinacy theory gives room for judicial
ONE-YEAR BAN PROHIBITING THE INITIATION OF IMPEACHMENT
restraint without allowing the judiciary to abdicate its
CASE AGAINST THE SAME — OFFICIALS UNDER SECTION 3(5) OF THE
constitutionally mandated duty to interpret the constitution.
CONSTITUTION; MEANING OF THE TERM "INITIATE. — The meaning
Coordinacy theory rests on the premise that within the
of the word "initiate" in relation to impeachment is at the center of
constitutional system, each branch of government has an
much debate. The confusion as to the meaning of this term was
independent obligation to interpret the Constitution. This obligation
aggravated by the amendment of the House of Representatives'
is rooted on the system of separation of powers. The oath to
Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings. The first set of
"support this Constitution" — which the constitution mandates
Rules adopted on May 31, 1988, specifically Rule V, Section 14 and
judges, legislators and executives to take — proves this independent
Rule 11, Section 2 thereof, provides that impeachment shall be
obligation. Thus, the coordinacy theory accommodates judicial
initiated when a verified complaint for impeachment is filed by any
restraint because it recognizes that the President and Congress also
Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a
61
resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, or when a 5.ID.; ID.; ID.; JUDICIAL SELF-RESTRAINT SHOULD BE EXERCISED IN
verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS. — Notwithstanding the
one-third (1/3) of all the Members of the House. This provision was constitutional and procedural defects in the impeachment
later amended on November 28, 2001: Rule V, Section 16 of the complaint, I dissent from the majority when it decided to resolve the
amendatory Rules states that impeachment proceedings under any issues at this premature stage. I submit that the process of
of the three methods above-stated are deemed initiated on the day impeachment should first be allowed to run its course. The power of
that the Committee on Justice finds that the verified complaint this Court as the final arbiter of all justiciable questions should come
and/or resolution against such official is sufficient in substance or on into play only when the procedure as outlined in the Constitution
the date the House votes to overturn or affirm the finding of the said has been exhausted. The complaint should be referred back to the
Committee that the verified complaint and/or resolution is not House Committee on Justice, where its constitutionality may be
sufficient in substance. The adoption of the 2001 Rules, at least threshed out. Thereafter, if the Committee so decides, the complaint
insofar as initiation of impeachment proceedings is concerned, will have to be deliberated by the House on plenary session,
unduly expanded the power of the House by restricting the preparatory to its possible transmittal to the Senate. The questions
constitutional time-bar only to complaints that have been on the sufficiency of the complaint in form may again be brought to
"approved" by the House Committee on Justice. As stated above, the Senate by way of proper motion, and the Senate may deny the
the one-year bar is a limitation set by the Constitution which motion or dismiss the complaint depending on the merits of the
Congress cannot overstep. Indeed, the Records of the Constitutional grounds raised. After the Senate shall have acted in due course, its
Commission clearly show that, as defined in Article XI, Section 3 (5), disposition of the case may be elevated to this Court pursuant to its
impeachment proceedings begin not on the floor of the House but judicial power of review. . . The Court should recognize the extent
with the filing of the complaint by any member of the House of any and practical limitations of its judicial prerogatives, and identify
citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof. those areas where it should carefully tread instead of rush in and act
This is the plain sense in which the word "Initiate" must be accordingly. Considering that power of impeachment was intended
understood, i.e., to begin or commence the action. to be the legislature's lone check on the judiciary, exercising our
power of judicial review over impeachment would place the final
3.ID.; ID.; ID.; HOW COMPLAINT FOR IMPEACHMENT IS "FILED"; reviewing authority with respect to impeachments in the hands of
CASE AT BAR. — Moreover, the second impeachment complaint was the same body that the impeachment process is meant to regulate.
filed by only two complainants, namely Representatives Gilberto G. In fact, judicial involvement in impeachment proceedings, even if
Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William B. Fuentebella. The rest of the only for purposes of judicial review is counter-intuitive because it
members of the House whose names appear on the attachments eviscerates the improper constitutional check to the judiciary. A
thereto merely signed endorsements to the Complaint. Article XI, becoming sense of propriety and justice dictates that judicial self-
Section 3 (3) of the Constitution is explicit: In case the verified restraint should be exercised; that the impeachment power should
complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third remain at all times and under all circumstances with the legislature,
of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the where the Constitution has placed it. The common-law principle of
Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith judicial restraint serves the public interest by allowing the political
proceed. (Emphasis provided.) The mere endorsement of the processes to operate without undue interference.
members of the House, albeit embodied in a verified resolution, did
not suffice for it did not constitute filing of the impeachment
complaint, as this term is plainly understood. In order that the
verified complaint may be said to have been filed by at least 1/3 of DECISION
the Members, all of them must be named as complainants therein.
All of them must sign the main complaint. This was not done in the
case of the assailed second impeachment complaint against the
CARPIO MORALES, J p:
Chief Justice. The complaint was not filed by at least one-third of the
Members of the House, and therefore did not constitute the Article
of Impeachment. I am constrained to disagree with the majority There can be no constitutional crisis arising from a conflict, no
decision to discard the above issue for being unnecessary for the matter how passionate and seemingly irreconcilable it may appear
determination of the instant cases. On the contrary, the foregoing to be, over the determination by the independent branches of
defect in the complaint is a vital issue in the determination of government of the nature, scope and extent of their respective
whether or not the House should transmit the complaint to the constitutional powers where the Constitution itself provides for the
Senate, and if it does, whether the Senate should entertain it. The means and bases for its resolution.
Constitution is clear that the complaint for impeachment shall
constitute the Articles of Impeachment, without need of referral to Our nation's history is replete with vivid illustrations of the often
the Committee on Justice, when the complaint is filed by at least frictional, at times turbulent, dynamics of the relationship among
one-third of all the Members of the House. Being the exception to these co-equal branches. This Court is confronted with one such
the general procedure outlined in the Constitution, its formal today involving the legislature and the judiciary which has drawn
requisites must be strictly construed. legal luminaries to chart antipodal courses and not a few of our
countrymen to vent cacophonous sentiments thereon.
4.ID.; ID.; ID.; SIGNING OF IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT DONE
WITHOUT DUE PROCESS IN CASE AT BAR. — The impeachment There may indeed be some legitimacy to the characterization that
complaint suffers from yet another serious flaw. As one of the amici the present controversy subject of the instant petitions — whether
curiae, former Senate President Jovito Salonga, pointed out, the the filing of the second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice
signing of the impeachment complaint by the purported 1/3 of the Hilario G. Davide, Jr. with the House of Representatives falls within
Congressmen was done without due process. The Chief Justice, the one year bar provided in the Constitution, and whether the
against whom the complaint was brought, was not served notice of resolution thereof is a political question — has resulted in a political
the proceedings against him. No rule is better established under the crisis. Perhaps even more truth to the view that it was brought upon
due process clause of the constitution, than that which requires by a political crisis of conscience.
notice and opportunity to be heard before any person can be
lawfully deprived of his rights. Indeed, when the Constitution says In any event, it is with the absolute certainty that our Constitution is
that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without sufficient to address all the issues which this controversy spawns
due process of law, it means that every person shall be afforded the that this Court unequivocally pronounces, at the first instance, that
essential element of notice in any proceeding. Any act committed in the feared resort to extra-constitutional methods of resolving it is
violation of due process may be declared null and void. neither necessary nor legally permissible. Both its resolution and
protection of the public interest lie in adherence to, not departure
from, the Constitution.

62
In passing over the complex issues arising from the controversy, this (4)In case the verified complaint or resolution
Court is ever mindful of the essential truth that the inviolate of impeachment is filed by at least one-third
doctrine of separation of powers among the legislative, executive or of all the Members of the House, the same
judicial branches of government by no means prescribes for absolute shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment,
autonomy in the discharge by each of that part of the governmental and trial by the Senate shall forthwith
power assigned to it by the sovereign people. proceed.

At the same time, the corollary doctrine of checks and balances (5)No impeachment proceedings shall be
which has been carefully calibrated by the Constitution to temper initiated against the same official more than
the official acts of each of these three branches must be given effect once within a period of one year.
without destroying their indispensable co-equality.
(6)The Senate shall have the sole power to try
Taken together, these two fundamental doctrines of republican and decide all cases of impeachment. When
government, intended as they are to insure that governmental sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be
power is wielded only for the good of the people, mandate a on oath or affirmation. When the President of
relationship of interdependence and coordination among these the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of
branches where the delicate functions of enacting, interpreting and the Supreme Court shall preside, but shall not
enforcing laws are harmonized to achieve a unity of governance, vote. No person shall be convicted without the
guided only by what is in the greater interest and well-being of the concurrence of two-thirds of all the Members
people. Verily, salus populi est suprema lex. of the Senate.

Article XI of our present 1987 Constitution provides: (7)Judgment in cases of impeachment shall
not extend further than removal from office
ARTICLE XI and disqualification to hold any office under
the Republic of the Philippines, but the party
convicted shall nevertheless be liable and
Accountability of Public Officers
subject to prosecution, trial, and punishment
according to law.
SECTION 1. Public office is a public trust. Public
officers and employees must at all times be
(8)The Congress shall promulgate its rules on
accountable to the people, serve them with
impeachment to effectively carry out the
utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and
purpose of this section. (Emphasis and italics
efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and
supplied)
lead modest lives.

Following the above-quoted Section 8 of Article XI of the


SECTION 2. The President, the Vice-President,
Constitution, the 12th Congress of the House of Representatives
the Members of the Supreme Court, the
adopted and approved the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment
Members of the Constitutional Commissions,
Proceedings (House Impeachment Rules) on November 28, 2001,
and the Ombudsman may be removed from
superseding the previous House Impeachment Rules 1 approved by
office, on impeachment for, and conviction of,
the 11th Congress. The relevant distinctions between these two
culpable violation of the Constitution, treason,
Congresses' House Impeachment Rules are shown in the following
bribery, graft and corruption, other high
tabulation:
crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other
public officers and employees may be
removed from office as provided by law, but 11TH CONGRESS RULES 12TH CONGRESS NEW RULES
not by impeachment. cEDIAa

SECTION 3.(1)The House of Representatives


shall have the exclusive power to initiate all RULE IIRULE V
cases of impeachment.
INITIATING IMPEACHMENTBAR AGAINST INITIATION
(2)A verified complaint for impeachment may OF IMPEACHMENT
be filed by any Member of the House of
Representatives or by any citizen upon a PROCEEDINGS AGAINST
resolution of endorsement by any Member THE SAME OFFICIAL
thereof, which shall be included in the Order
of Business within ten session days, and
referred to the proper Committee within three
session days thereafter. The Committee, after
hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Section 2. Mode of InitiatingSection 16. Impeachment
Members, shall submit its report to the House Proceedings
within sixty session days from such referral,
together with the corresponding resolution. Impeachment. — ImpeachmentDeemed Initiated. —
The resolution shall be calendared for In cases where a
consideration by the House within ten session
days from receipt thereof. shall be initiated only by a verifiedMember of the
House files a verified
(3)A vote of at least one-third of all the
Members of the House shall be necessary complaint for impeachment filed bycomplaint of
either to affirm a favorable resolution with the impeachment or a citizen
Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or
override its contrary resolution. The vote of
each Member shall be recorded. any Member of the House offiles a verified complaint
that is endorsed

63
Representatives or by any citizen uponby a Member no impeachment proceedings, as such,
of the House through a
can be initiated against the same official.
a resolution of endorsement by anyresolution of
endorsement against an (Italics in the original; emphasis and

Member thereof or by a verifiedimpeachable officer, italics supplied)


impeachment
On July 22, 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a
complaint or resolution of impeachmentproceedings Resolution, 2 sponsored by Representative Felix William D.
against such official are Fuentebella, which directed the Committee on Justice "to conduct
an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner of
filed by at least one-third (1/3) of alldeemed initiated disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the Supreme
on the day the Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF)." 3

the Members of the House.Committee on Justice finds On June 2, 2003, former President Joseph E. Estrada filed an
that the impeachment complaint 4 (first impeachment complaint) against
Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven Associate Justices 5 of
verified complaint and/or resolution this Court for "culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of the
public trust and other high crimes." 6 The complaint was endorsed
by Representatives Rolex T. Suplico, Ronaldo B. Zamora and Didagen
against such official, as the case may
Piang Dilangalen, 7 and was referred to the House Committee on
Justice on August 5, 2003 8 in accordance with Section 3(2) of Article
be, is sufficient in substance, or on the XI of the Constitution which reads: HSTCcD

date the House votes to overturn or Section 3(2) A verified complaint for
impeachment may be filed by any Member of
affirm the finding of the said the House of Representatives or by any citizen
upon a resolution of endorsement by any
Committee that the verified complaint Member thereof, which shall be included in
the Order of Business within ten session days,
and referred to the proper Committee within
and/or resolution, as the case may three session days thereafter. The Committee,
after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its
be, is not sufficient in substance. Members, shall submit its report to the House
within sixty session days from such referral,
together with the corresponding resolution.
The resolution shall be calendared for
consideration by the House within ten session
In cases where a verified complaint or a
days from receipt thereof.
resolution of impeachment is filed or
endorsed, as the case may be, by at least one-
third (1/3) of the Members of the House, The House Committee on Justice ruled on October 13, 2003
impeachment proceedings are deemed that the first impeachment complaint was "sufficient in
initiated at the time of the filing of such form," 9 but voted to dismiss the same on October 22, 2003 for
being insufficient in substance. 10 To date, the Committee
Report to this effect has not yet been sent to the House in
plenary in accordance with the said Section 3(2) of Article XI of
the Constitution.
verified complaint or resolution of
impeachment with the Secretary General.
Four months and three weeks since the filing on June 2, 2003 of the
first complaint or on October 23, 2003, a day after the House
Committee on Justice voted to dismiss it, the second impeachment
complaint 11 was filed with the Secretary General of the
RULE V House 12 by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. (First District,
Tarlac) and Felix William B. Fuentebella (Third District, Camarines
BAR AGAINST IMPEACHMENT Sur) against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., founded on the
alleged results of the legislative inquiry initiated by above-
mentioned House Resolution. This second impeachment complaint
was accompanied by a "Resolution of Endorsement/Impeachment"
signed by at least one-third (1/3) of all the Members of the House of
Section 14. Scope of Bar. — NoSection 17. Bar Against Representatives. 13
Initiation Of
Thus arose the instant petitions against the House of
impeachment proceedings shall beImpeachment Representatives, et al., most of which petitions contend that the
Proceedings. — Within a filing of the second impeachment complaint is unconstitutional as it
violates the provision of Section 5 of Article XI of the Constitution
initiated against the same official moreperiod of one that "[n]o impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the
(1) year from the date same official more than once within a period of one year."

than once within the period of oneimpeachment In G.R. No. 160261, petitioner Atty. Ernesto B. Francisco, Jr., alleging
proceedings are deemed that he has a duty as a member of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines to use all available legal remedies to stop an
(1) year.initiated as provided in Section 16 hereof, unconstitutional impeachment, that the issues raised in his petition
for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus are of transcendental
64
importance, and that he "himself was a victim of the capricious and In G.R. No. 160318, petitioner Public Interest Center, Inc., whose
arbitrary changes in the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment members are citizens and taxpayers, and its co-petitioner Crispin T.
Proceedings introduced by the 12th Congress," 14 posits that his Reyes, a citizen, taxpayer and a member of the Philippine Bar, both
right to bring an impeachment complaint against then Ombudsman allege in their petition, which does not state what its nature is, that
Aniano Desierto had been violated due to the capricious and the filing of the second impeachment complaint involves paramount
arbitrary changes in the House Impeachment Rules adopted and public interest and pray that Sections 16 and 17 of the House
approved on November 28, 2001 by the House of Representatives Impeachment Rules and the second impeachment
and prays that (1) Rule V, Sections 16 and 17 and Rule III, Sections 5, complaint/Articles of Impeachment be declared null and void.
6, 7, 8, and 9 thereof be declared unconstitutional; (2) this Court
issue a writ of mandamus directing respondents House of In G.R. No. 160342, petitioner Atty. Fernando P. R. Perito, as a citizen
Representatives et al. to comply with Article IX, Section 3 (2), (3) and and a member of the Philippine Bar Association and of the
(5) of the Constitution, to return the second impeachment complaint Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and petitioner Engr. Maximo N.
and/or strike it off the records of the House of Representatives, and Menez, Jr., as a taxpayer, pray in their petition for the issuance of a
to promulgate rules which are consistent with the Constitution; and Temporary Restraining Order and Permanent Injunction to enjoin
(3) this Court permanently enjoin respondent House of the House of Representatives from proceeding with the second
Representatives from proceeding with the second impeachment impeachment complaint.
complaint.
In G.R. No. 160343, petitioner Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
In G.R. No. 160262, petitioners Sedfrey M. Candelaria, et al., as alleging that it is mandated by the Code of Professional
citizens and taxpayers, alleging that the issues of the case are of Responsibility to uphold the Constitution, prays in its petition for
transcendental importance, pray, in their petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V and
Certiorari/Prohibition, the issuance of a writ "perpetually" Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of Rule III of the House Impeachment Rules be
prohibiting respondent House of Representatives from filing any declared unconstitutional and that the House of Representatives be
Articles of Impeachment against the Chief Justice with the Senate; permanently enjoined from proceeding with the second
and for the issuance of a writ "perpetually" prohibiting respondents impeachment complaint. CTAIHc
Senate and Senate President Franklin Drilon from accepting any
Articles of Impeachment against the Chief Justice or, in the event
In G.R. No. 160360, petitioner-taxpayer Atty. Claro Flores prays in his
that the Senate has accepted the same, from proceeding with the
petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that the House Impeachment
impeachment trial.
Rules be declared unconstitutional.

In G.R. No. 160263, petitioners Arturo M. de Castro and Soledad


In G.R. No. 160365, petitioners U.P. Law Alumni Cebu Foundation
Cagampang, as citizens, taxpayers, lawyers and members of the
Inc., et al., in their petition for Prohibition and Injunction which they
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, alleging that their petition for
claim is a class suit filed in behalf of all citizens, citing Oposa
Prohibition involves public interest as it involves the use of public
v. Factoran 17 which was filed in behalf of succeeding generations of
funds necessary to conduct the impeachment trial on the second
Filipinos, pray for the issuance of a writ prohibiting respondents
impeachment complaint, pray for the issuance of a writ of
House of Representatives and the Senate from conducting further
prohibition enjoining Congress from conducting further proceedings
proceedings on the second impeachment complaint and that this
on said second impeachment complaint.
Court declare as unconstitutional the second impeachment
complaint and the acts of respondent House of Representatives in
In G.R. No. 160277, petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, alleging that this interfering with the fiscal matters of the Judiciary.
Court has recognized that he has locus standi to bring petitions of
this nature in the cases of Chavez v. PCGG 15 and Chavez v. PEA-
Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation, 16 prays in his petition
for Injunction that the second impeachment complaint be declared
unconstitutional. In G.R. No. 160370, petitioner-taxpayer Father Ranhilio Callangan
Aquino, alleging that the issues in his petition for Prohibition are of
national and transcendental significance and that as an official of the
In G.R. No. 160292, petitioners Atty. Harry L. Roque, et al., as
Philippine Judicial Academy, he has a direct and substantial interest
taxpayers and members of the legal profession, pray in their petition
in the unhampered operation of the Supreme Court and its officials
for Prohibition for an order prohibiting respondent House of
in discharging their duties in accordance with the Constitution, prays
Representatives from drafting, adopting, approving and transmitting
for the issuance of a writ prohibiting the House of Representatives
to the Senate the second impeachment complaint, and respondents
from transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate and the
De Venecia and Nazareno from transmitting the Articles of
Senate from receiving the same or giving the impeachment
Impeachment to the Senate. ESCTaA
complaint due course.

In G.R. No. 160295, petitioners Representatives Salacnib F. Baterina


In G.R. No. 160376, petitioner Nilo A. Malanyaon, as a taxpayer,
and Deputy Speaker Raul M. Gonzalez, alleging that, as members of
alleges in his petition for Prohibition that respondents Fuentebella
the House of Representatives, they have a legal interest in ensuring
and Teodoro at the time they filed the second impeachment
that only constitutional impeachment proceedings are initiated, pray
complaint, were "absolutely without any legal power to do so, as
in their petition for Certiorari/Prohibition that the second
they acted without jurisdiction as far as the Articles of Impeachment
impeachment complaint and any act proceeding therefrom be
assail the alleged abuse of powers of the Chief Justice to disburse
declared null and void.
the (JDF)."

In G.R. No. 160310, petitioners Leonilo R. Alfonso, et al., claiming


In G.R. No. 160392, petitioners Attorneys Venicio S. Flores and
that they have a right to be protected against all forms of senseless
Hector L. Hofileña, alleging that as professors of law they have an
spending of taxpayers’ money and that they have an obligation to
abiding interest in the subject matter of their petition for Certiorari
protect the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice, and the integrity of the
and Prohibition as it pertains to a constitutional issue "which they
Judiciary, allege in their petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that it
are trying to inculcate in the minds of their students," pray that the
is instituted as "a class suit" and pray that (1) the House Resolution
House of Representatives be enjoined from endorsing and the
endorsing the second impeachment complaint as well as all
Senate from trying the Articles of Impeachment and that the second
issuances emanating therefrom be declared null and void; and (2)
impeachment complaint be declared null and void.
this Court enjoin the Senate and the Senate President from taking
cognizance of, hearing, trying and deciding the second impeachment
complaint, and issue a writ of prohibition commanding the Senate, In G.R. No. 160397, petitioner Atty. Dioscoro Vallejos, Jr., without
its prosecutors and agents to desist from conducting any alleging his locus standi, but alleging that the second impeachment
proceedings or to act on the impeachment complaint. complaint is founded on the issue of whether or not the Judicial
65
Development Fund (JDF) was spent in accordance with law and that much less prohibit or enjoin the House of Representatives, which is
the House of Representatives does not have exclusive jurisdiction in an independent and co-equal branch of government under the
the examination and audit thereof, prays in his petition "To Declare Constitution, from the performance of its constitutionally mandated
Complaint Null and Void for Lack of Cause of Action and Jurisdiction" duty to initiate impeachment cases. On even date, Senator Aquilino
that the second impeachment complaint be declared null and void. Q. Pimentel, Jr., in his own behalf, filed a Motion to Intervene (Ex
Abudante Cautela) 21 and Comment, praying that "the consolidated
In G.R. No. 160403, petitioner Philippine Bar Association, alleging petitions be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction of the Court over the
that the issues raised in the filing of the second impeachment issues affecting the impeachment proceedings and that the sole
complaint involve matters of transcendental importance, prays in its power, authority and jurisdiction of the Senate as the impeachment
petition for Certiorari/Prohibition that (1) the second impeachment court to try and decide impeachment cases, including the one where
complaint and all proceedings arising therefrom be declared null and the Chief Justice is the respondent, be recognized and upheld
void; (2) respondent House of Representatives be prohibited from pursuant to the provisions of Article XI of the Constitution." 22
transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate; and (3)
respondent Senate be prohibited from accepting the Articles of Acting on the other petitions which were subsequently filed, this
Impeachment and from conducting any proceedings thereon. Court resolved to (a) consolidate them with the earlier consolidated
petitions; (b) require respondents to file their comment not later
In G.R. No. 160405, petitioners Democrit C. Barcenas, et al., as than 4:30 p.m. of November 3, 2003; and (c) include them for oral
citizens and taxpayers, pray in their petition for arguments on November 5, 2003.
Certiorari/Prohibition that (1) the second impeachment complaint as
well as the resolution of endorsement and impeachment by the On October 29, 2003, the Senate of the Philippines, through Senate
respondent House of Representatives be declared null and void and President Franklin M. Drilon, filed a Manifestation stating that
(2) respondents Senate and Senate President Franklin Drilon be insofar as it is concerned, the petitions are plainly premature and
prohibited from accepting any Articles of Impeachment against the have no basis in law or in fact, adding that as of the time of the filing
Chief Justice or, in the event that they have accepted the same, that of the petitions, no justiciable issue was presented before it since (1)
they be prohibited from proceeding with the impeachment trial. its constitutional duty to constitute itself as an impeachment court
commences only upon its receipt of the Articles of Impeachment,
Petitions bearing docket numbers G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262 and which it had not, and (2) the principal issues raised by the petitions
160263, the first three of the eighteen which were filed before this pertain exclusively to the proceedings in the House of
Court, 18 prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order Representatives.
and/or preliminary injunction to prevent the House of
Representatives from transmitting the Articles of Impeachment On October 30, 2003, Atty. Jaime Soriano filed a "Petition for Leave
arising from the second impeachment complaint to the Senate. to Intervene" in G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262, 160263, 160277, 160292,
Petition bearing docket number G.R. No. 160261 likewise prayed for and 160295, questioning the status quo Resolution issued by this
the declaration of the November 28, 2001 House Impeachment Court on October 28, 2003 on the ground that it would unnecessarily
Rules as null and void for being unconstitutional. put Congress and this Court in a "constitutional deadlock" and
praying for the dismissal of all the petitions as the matter in question
Petitions bearing docket numbers G.R. Nos. 160277, 160292 and is not yet ripe for judicial determination.
160295, which were filed on October 28, 2003, sought similar relief.
In addition, petition bearing docket number G.R. No. 160292 alleged On November 3, 2003, Attorneys Romulo B. Macalintal and Pete
that House Resolution No. 260 (calling for a legislative inquiry into Quirino Quadra filed in G.R. No. 160262 a "Motion for Leave of Court
the administration by the Chief Justice of the JDF) infringes on the to Intervene and to Admit the Herein Incorporated Petition in
constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and is a direct Intervention."
violation of the constitutional principle of fiscal autonomy of the
judiciary. On November 4, 2003, Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng
mga Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc. filed a Motion for Intervention in
On October 28, 2003, during the plenary session of the House of G.R. No. 160261. On November 5, 2003, World War II Veterans
Representatives, a motion was put forth that the second Legionnaires of the Philippines, Inc. also filed a "Petition-in-
impeachment complaint be formally transmitted to the Senate, but Intervention with Leave to Intervene" in G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262,
it was not carried because the House of Representatives adjourned 160263, 160277, 160292, 160295, and 160310.
for lack of quorum, 19 and as reflected above, to date, the Articles of
Impeachment have yet to be forwarded to the Senate. TEHDIA The motions for intervention were granted and both Senator
Pimentel's Comment and Attorneys Macalintal and Quadra's Petition
Before acting on the petitions with prayers for temporary restraining in Intervention were admitted.
order and/or writ of preliminary injunction which were filed on or
before October 28, 2003, Justices Puno and Vitug offered to recuse On November 5-6, 2003, this Court heard the views of the amici
themselves, but the Court rejected their offer. Justice Panganiban curiae and the arguments of petitioners, intervenors Senator
inhibited himself, but the Court directed him to participate. Pimentel and Attorney Makalintal, and Solicitor General Alfredo
Benipayo on the principal issues outlined in an Advisory issued by
Without necessarily giving the petitions due course, this Court in its this Court on November 3, 2003, to wit:
Resolution of October 28, 2003, resolved to (a) consolidate the
petitions; (b) require respondent House of Representatives and the Whether the certiorari jurisdiction of the
Senate, as well as the Solicitor General, to comment on the petitions Supreme Court may be invoked; who can
not later than 4:30 p.m. of November 3, 2003; (c) set the petitions invoke it; on what issues and at what time;
for oral arguments on November 5, 2003, at 10:00 a.m.; and (d) and whether it should be exercised by this
appointed distinguished legal experts as amici curiae. 20 In addition, Court at this time.
this Court called on petitioners and respondents to maintain
the status quo, enjoining all the parties and others acting for and in
In discussing these issues, the following may
their behalf to refrain from committing acts that would render the
be taken up:
petitions moot.

a)locus standi of petitioners;


Also on October 28, 2003, when respondent House of
Representatives through Speaker Jose C. De Venecia, Jr. and/or its
co-respondents, by way of special appearance, submitted a b)ripeness (prematurity; mootness);
Manifestation asserting that this Court has no jurisdiction to hear,

66
c)political question/justiciability; but as much as it was within the power of our
people, acting through their delegates to so
d)House's "exclusive" power to provide, that instrument which is the
initiate all cases of expression of their sovereignty however
impeachment; limited, has established a republican
government intended to operate and function
as a harmonious whole, under a system of
e)Senate's "sole" power to try and
checks and balances, and subject to specific
decide all cases of
limitations and restrictions provided in the
impeachment; aTADCE
said instrument. The Constitution sets forth in
no uncertain language the restrictions and
f)constitutionality of the House limitations upon governmental powers and
Rules on Impeachment vis- agencies. If these restrictions and limitations
a-vis Section 3(5) of Article are transcended it would be inconceivable if
XI of the Constitution; and the Constitution had not provided for a
mechanism by which to direct the course of
g)judicial restraint (Italics in the government along constitutional channels, for
original) then the distribution of powers would be
mere verbiage, the bill of rights mere
In resolving the intricate conflux of preliminary and substantive expressions of sentiment, and the principles of
issues arising from the instant petitions as well as the myriad good government mere political apothegms.
arguments and opinions presented for and against the grant of the Certainly, the limitations and restrictions
reliefs prayed for, this Court has sifted and determined them to be embodied in our Constitution are real as they
as follows: (1) the threshold and novel issue of whether or not the should be in any living constitution. In the
power of judicial review extends to those arising from impeachment United States where no express constitutional
proceedings; (2) whether or not the essential pre-requisites for the grant is found in their constitution, the
exercise of the power of judicial review have been fulfilled; and (3) possession of this moderating power of the
the substantive issues yet remaining. These matters shall now be courts, not to speak of its historical origin and
discussed in seriatim. development there, has been set at rest by
popular acquiescence for a period of more
than one and a half centuries. In our case, this
moderating power is granted, if not expressly,
by clear implication from section 2 of article
Judicial Review VIII of our Constitution. IAETDc

As reflected above, petitioners plead for this Court to exercise the The Constitution is a definition of the powers
power of judicial review to determine the validity of the second of government. Who is to determine the
impeachment complaint. nature, scope and extent of such powers? The
Constitution itself has provided for the
This Court's power of judicial review is conferred on the judicial instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational
branch of the government in Section 1, Article VIII of our present way.And when the judiciary mediates to
1987 Constitution: allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not
assert any superiority over the other
departments; it does not in reality nullify or
SECTION 1. The judicial power shall be vested
invalidate an act of the legislature, but only
in one Supreme Court and in such lower
asserts the solemn and sacred obligation
courts as may be established by law.
assigned to it by the Constitution to determine
conflicting claims of authority under the
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts Constitution and to establish for the parties in
of justice to settle actual controversies an actual controversy the rights which that
involving rights which are legally demandable instrument secures and guarantees to
and enforceable, and to determine whether or them. This is in truth all that is involved
not there has been a grave abuse of discretion in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on properly is the power of judicial review under
the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Constitution. Even then, this power of
the government. (Emphasis supplied) judicial review is limited to actual cases and
controversies to be exercised after full
Such power of judicial review was early on exhaustively expounded opportunity of argument by the parties, and
upon by Justice Jose P. Laurel in the definitive 1936 case of Angara limited further to the constitutional question
v. Electoral Commission 23 after the effectivity of the 1935 raised or the very lis mota presented. Any
Constitution whose provisions, unlike the present Constitution, did attempt at abstraction could only lead to
not contain the present provision in Article VIII, Section 1, par. 2 on dialectics and barren legal questions and to
what judicial power includes. Thus, Justice Laurel discoursed: sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities.
Narrowed as its function is in this manner, the
. . . In times of social disquietude or political judiciary does not pass upon questions of
excitement, the great landmarks of the wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation.
Constitution are apt to be forgotten or More than that, courts accord the
marred, if not entirely obliterated. In cases of presumption of constitutionality to legislative
conflict, the judicial department is the only enactments, not only because the legislature
constitutional organ which can be called upon is presumed to abide by the Constitution but
to determine the proper allocation of powers also because the judiciary in the
between the several departments and among determination of actual cases and
the integral or constituent units thereof . controversies must reflect the wisdom and
justice of the people as expressed through
their representatives in the executive and
As any human production, our Constitution is
legislative departments of the
of course lacking perfection and perfectibility,
67
government. 24 (Italics in the original; powers are to be kept separate and distinct
emphasis and italics supplied) that the Constitution intended them to be
absolutely unrestrained and independent of
As pointed out by Justice Laurel, this "moderating power" to each other. The Constitution has provided for
"determine the proper allocation of powers" of the different an elaborate system of checks and balances to
branches of government and "to direct the course of government secure coordination in the workings of the
along constitutional channels" is inherent in all courts25 as a various departments of the government. . .
necessary consequence of the judicial power itself, which is "the . And the judiciary in turn, with the Supreme
power of the court to settle actual controversies involving rights Court as the final arbiter, effectively checks the
which are legally demandable and enforceable." 26 other departments in the exercise of its power
to determine the law, and hence to declare
executive and legislative acts void if violative
Thus, even in the United States where the power of judicial review is
of the Constitution. 32 (Emphasis and italics
not explicitly conferred upon the courts by its Constitution, such
supplied) THaAEC
power has "been set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of
more than one and a half centuries." To be sure, it was in the 1803
leading case of Marbury v. Madison 27 that the power of judicial In the scholarly estimation of former Supreme Court Justice
review was first articulated by Chief Justice Marshall, to wit: Florentino Feliciano, ". . . judicial review is essential for the
maintenance and enforcement of the separation of powers and the
balancing of powers among the three great departments of
It is also not entirely unworthy of observation,
government through the definition and maintenance of the
that in declaring what shall be
boundaries of authority and control between them." 33 To him,
the supreme law of the land,
"[j]udicial review is the chief, indeed the only, medium of
theconstitution itself is first mentioned; and
participation — or instrument of intervention — of the judiciary in
not the laws of the United States generally,
that balancing operation." 34
but those only which shall be made
in pursuance of the constitution, have that
rank. To ensure the potency of the power of judicial review to curb grave
abuse of discretion by "any branch or instrumentalities of
government," the afore-quoted Section 1, Article VIII of the
Thus, the particular phraseology of the
Constitution engraves, for the first time into its history, into block
constitution of the United States confirms and
letter law the so-called "expanded certiorari jurisdiction" of this
strengthens the principle, supposed to be
Court, the nature of and rationale for which are mirrored in the
essential to all written constitutions, that a
following excerpt from the sponsorship speech of its proponent,
law repugnant to the constitution is void; and
former Chief Justice Constitutional Commissioner Roberto
that courts, as well as other departments, are
Concepcion:
bound by that instrument. 28 (Italics in the
original; emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
In our own jurisdiction, as early as 1902, decades before its express
grant in the 1935 Constitution, the power of judicial review was The first section starts with a sentence copied
exercised by our courts to invalidate constitutionally infirm from former Constitutions. It says:
acts. 29 And as pointed out by noted political law professor and
former Supreme Court Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, 30 the executive
and legislative branches of our government in fact effectively
acknowledged this power of judicial review in Article 7 of the Civil The judicial power shall be vested in
Code, to wit: one Supreme Court and in such
lower courts as may be established
Article 7.Laws are repealed only by by law.
subsequent ones, and their violation or non-
observance shall not be excused by disuse, or I suppose nobody can question it.
custom or practice to the contrary.
The next provision is new in our constitutional
When the courts declare a law to be law. I will read it first and explain.
inconsistent with the Constitution, the former
shall be void and the latter shall govern.
Judicial power includes the duty of
courts of justice to settle actual
Administrative or executive acts, orders and controversies involving rights which
regulations shall be valid only when they are are legally demandable and
not contrary to the laws or the Constitution. enforceable and to determine
(Emphasis supplied) whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting
As indicated in Angara v. Electoral Commission, 31 judicial review is to lack or excess of jurisdiction on
indeed an integral component of the delicate system of checks and the part or instrumentality of the
balances which, together with the corollary principle of separation government.
of powers, forms the bedrock of our republican form of government
and insures that its vast powers are utilized only for the benefit of Fellow Members of this Commission, this is
the people for which it serves. actually a product of our experience during
martial law. As a matter of fact, it has some
The separation of powers is a fundamental antecedents in the past, but the role of the
principle in our system of government. It judiciary during the deposed regime was
obtains not through express provision but by marred considerably by the circumstance that
actual division in our Constitution. Each in a number of cases against the government,
department of the government has exclusive which then had no legal defense at all, the
cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, solicitor general set up the defense of political
and is supreme within its own sphere. But it questions and got away with it. As a
does not follow from the fact that the three consequence, certain principles concerning
68
particularly the writ of habeas corpus, that is, A foolproof yardstick in constitutional
the authority of courts to order the release of construction is the intention underlying the
political detainees, and other matters related provision under consideration. Thus, it has
to the operation and effect of martial law been held that the Court in construing a
failed because the government set up the Constitution should bear in mind the object
defense of political question. And the sought to be accomplished by its adoption,
Supreme Court said: "Well, since it is political, and the evils, if any, sought to be prevented or
we have no authority to pass upon it." The remedied. A doubtful provision will be
Committee on the Judiciary feels that this was examined in the light of the history of the
not a proper solution of the questions times, and the condition and circumstances
involved. It did not merely request an under which the Constitution was framed. The
encroachment upon the rights of the people, object is to ascertain the reason which induced
but it, in effect, encouraged further violations the framers of the Constitution to enact the
thereof during the martial law regime. . . . particular provision and the purpose sought to
be accomplished thereby, in order to construe
xxx xxx xxx the whole as to make the words consonant to
that reason and calculated to effect that
purpose. 39(Emphasis and italics supplied)
Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the
limits of power of the agencies and offices of
the government as well as those of its As it did in Nitafan v. Commissioner on Internal
officers. In other words, the judiciary is the Revenue 40 where, speaking through Madame Justice
final arbiter on the question whether or not a Amuerfina A. Melencio-Herrera, it declared:
branch of government or any of its officials has
acted without jurisdiction or in excess of . . . The ascertainment of that intent is but in
jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute keeping with the fundamental principle of
an abuse of discretion amounting to excess of constitutional construction that the intent of
jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction.This is not the framers of the organic law and of the
only a judicial power but a duty to pass people adopting it should be given effect. The
judgment on matters of this nature. primary task in constitutional construction is
to ascertain and thereafter assure the
This is the background of paragraph 2 of realization of the purpose of the framers and
Section 1, which means that the courts cannot of the people in the adoption of the
hereafter evade the duty to settle matters of Constitution. It may also be safely assumed
this nature, by claiming that such matters that the people in ratifying the Constitution
constitute a political question. 35 (Italics in the were guided mainly by the explanation offered
original; emphasis and italics supplied) by the framers. 41(Emphasis and italics
supplied)
To determine the merits of the issues raised in the instant petitions,
this Court must necessarily turn to the Constitution itself which Finally, ut magis valeat quam pereat. The Constitution is to be
employs the well-settled principles of constitutional construction. interpreted as a whole. Thus, in Chiongbian v. De Leon,42 this Court,
through Chief Justice Manuel Moran declared:
First, verba legis, that is, wherever possible, the words used in the
Constitution must be given their ordinary meaningexcept where . . . [T]he members of the Constitutional
technical terms are employed. Thus, in J.M. Tuason & Co., Convention could not have dedicated a
Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 36 this Court, speaking through provision of our Constitution merely for the
Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, declared: benefit of one person without considering that
it could also affect others. When they adopted
subsection 2, they permitted, if not willed, that
We look to the language of the document
said provision should function to the full extent
itself in our search for its meaning. We do not
of its substance and its terms, not by itself
of course stop there, but that is where we
alone, but in conjunction with all other
begin. It is to be assumed that the words in
provisions of that great
which constitutional provisions are couched
document. 43(Emphasis and italics supplied)
express the objective sought to be
attained. They are to be given their ordinary
meaning except where technical terms are Likewise, still in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive
employed in which case the significance thus Secretary, 44 this Court affirmed that:
attached to them prevails. As the Constitution
is not primarily a lawyer's document, it being It is a well-established rule in constitutional
essential for the rule of law to obtain that it construction that no one provision of the
should ever be present in the people's Constitution is to be separated from all the
consciousness, its language as much as others, to be considered alone, but that all the
possible should be understood in the sense provisions bearing upon a particular subject
they have in common use. What it says are to be brought into view and to be so
according to the text of the provision to be interpreted as to effectuate the great purposes
construed compels acceptanceand negates the of the instrument. Sections bearing on a
power of the courts to alter it, based on the particular subject should be considered and
postulate that the framers and the people interpreted together as to effectuate the
mean what they say. Thus these are the cases whole purpose of the Constitution and one
where the need for construction is reduced to section is not to be allowed to defeat another,
a minimum. 37(Emphasis and italics supplied) if by any reasonable construction, the two can
be made to stand together.
Second, where there is ambiguity, ratio legis est anima. The words
of the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with the In other words, the court must harmonize
intent of its framers. And so did this Court apply this principle in Civil them, if practicable, and must lean in favor of
Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary 38 in this wise: SHTaID a construction which will render every word
69
operative, rather than one which may make of judicial review to check and restrain any grave abuse of the
the words idle and nugatory. 45 (Emphasis impeachment process. Nor can it reasonably support the
supplied) interpretation that it necessarily confers upon the Senate the
inherently judicial power to determine constitutional questions
If, however, the plain meaning of the word is not found to be clear, incident to impeachment proceedings. TEcAHI
resort to other aids is available. In still the same case of Civil Liberties
Union v. Executive Secretary, this Court expounded: Said American jurisprudence and authorities, much less the
American Constitution, are of dubious application for these are no
While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to longer controlling within our jurisdiction and have only limited
consult the debates and proceedings of the persuasive merit insofar as Philippine constitutional law is
constitutional convention in order to arrive at concerned. As held in the case of Garcia vs. COMELEC , 52 "[i]n
the reason and purpose of the resulting resolving constitutional disputes, [this Court] should not be beguiled
Constitution, resort thereto may be had only by foreign jurisprudence some of which are hardly applicable
when other guides fail as said proceedings are because they have been dictated by different constitutional settings
powerless to vary the terms of the Constitution and needs." 53 Indeed, although the Philippine Constitution can
when the meaning is clear. Debates in the trace its origins to that of the United States, their paths of
constitutional convention "are of value as development have long since diverged. In the colorful words of
showing the views of the individual members, Father Bernas, "[w]e have cut the umbilical cord." DHacTC
and as indicating the reasons for their votes,
but they give us no light as to the views of the The major difference between the judicial power of the Philippine
large majority who did not talk, much less of Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme Court is that while the
the mass of our fellow citizens whose votes at power of judicial review is only impliedly granted to the U.S.
the polls gave that instrument the force of Supreme Court and is discretionary in nature, that granted to the
fundamental law. We think it safer to construe Philippine Supreme Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for
the constitution from what appears upon its in the Constitution, is not just a power but also a duty, and it
face." The proper interpretation therefore was given an expanded definition to include the power to correct
depends more on how it was understood by any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any government branch
the people adopting it than in the framers's or instrumentality.
understanding thereof . 46 (Emphasis and
italics supplied) There are also glaring distinctions between the U.S. Constitution and
the Philippine Constitution with respect to the power of the House
It is in the context of the foregoing backdrop of constitutional of Representatives over impeachment proceedings. While the U.S.
refinement and jurisprudential application of the power of judicial Constitution bestows sole power of impeachment to the House of
review that respondents Speaker De Venecia, et al. and intervenor Representatives without limitation, 54 our Constitution, though
Senator Pimentel raise the novel argument that the Constitution has vesting in the House of Representatives the exclusive power to
excluded impeachment proceedings from the coverage of judicial initiate impeachment cases, 55 provides for several limitations to
review. the exercise of such power as embodied in Section 3(2), (3), (4) and
(5), Article XI thereof. These limitations include the manner of filing,
Briefly stated, it is the position of respondents Speaker De required vote to impeach, and the one year bar on the impeachment
Venecia, et al. that impeachment is a political action which cannot of one and the same official.
assume a judicial character. Hence, any question, issue or incident
arising at any stage of the impeachment proceeding is beyond the Respondents are also of the view that judicial review of
reach of judicial review. 47 impeachments undermines their finality and may also lead to
conflicts between Congress and the judiciary. Thus, they call upon
For his part, intervenor Senator Pimentel contends that the this Court to exercise judicial statesmanship on the principle that
Senate's "sole power to try" impeachment cases 48 (1) entirely "whenever possible, the Court should defer to the judgment of the
excludes the application of judicial review over it; and (2) necessarily people expressed legislatively, recognizing full well the perils of
includes the Senate’s power to determine constitutional questions judicial willfulness and pride." 56
relative to impeachment proceedings. 49
But did not the people also express their will when they instituted
In furthering their arguments on the proposition that impeachment the above-mentioned safeguards in the Constitution? This shows
proceedings are outside the scope of judicial review, respondents that the Constitution did not intend to leave the matter of
Speaker De Venecia, et al. and intervenor Senator Pimentel rely impeachment to the sole discretion of Congress. Instead, it provided
heavily on American authorities, principally the majority opinion in for certain well-defined limits, or in the language of Baker
the case of Nixon v. United States. 50 Thus, they contend that the v. Carr, 57 "judicially discoverable standards" for determining the
exercise of judicial review over impeachment proceedings is validity of the exercise of such discretion, through the power of
inappropriate since it runs counter to the framers' decision to judicial review.
allocate to different fora the powers to try impeachments and to try
crimes; it disturbs the system of checks and balances, under which The cases of Romulo v. Yniguez 58 and Alejandrino
impeachment is the only legislative check on the judiciary; and it v. Quezon, 59 cited by respondents in support of the argument that
would create a lack of finality and difficulty in fashioning the impeachment power is beyond the scope of judicial review, are
relief. 51Respondents likewise point to deliberations on the US not in point. These cases concern the denial of petitions for writs of
Constitution to show the intent to isolate judicial power of review in mandamus to compel the legislature to perform non-ministerial
cases of impeachment. acts, and do not concern the exercise of the power of judicial review.

There is indeed a plethora of cases in which this Court exercised the


power of judicial review over congressional action. Thus, in Santiago
Respondents' and intervenors' reliance upon American v. Guingona, Jr., 60 this Court ruled that it is well within the power
jurisprudence, the American Constitution and American and jurisdiction of the Court to inquire whether the Senate or its
authorities cannot be credited to support the proposition that the officials committed a violation of the Constitution or grave abuse of
Senate's "sole power to try and decide impeachment cases," as discretion in the exercise of their functions and prerogatives.
provided for under Art. XI, Sec. 3(6) of the Constitution, is a textually In Tañada v. Angara, 61 in seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine
demonstrable constitutional commitment of all issues pertaining to Senate on the ground that it contravened the Constitution, it held
impeachment to the legislature, to the total exclusion of the power that the petition raises a justiciable controversy and that when an
action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed
70
the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of presentation of issues upon which the court depends for
the judiciary to settle the dispute. In Bondoc v. Pineda, 62 this Court illumination of difficult constitutional questions. 69
declared null and void a resolution of the House of Representatives
withdrawing the nomination, and rescinding the election, of a Intervenor Soriano, in praying for the dismissal of the petitions,
congressman as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal for being contends that petitioners do not have standing since only the Chief
violative of Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution. In Coseteng Justice has sustained and will sustain direct personal injury. Amicus
v. Mitra, 63 it held that the resolution of whether the House curiae former Justice Minister and Solicitor General Estelito
representation in the Commission on Appointments was based on Mendoza similarly contends.
proportional representation of the political parties as provided
in Section 18, Article VI of the Constitution is subject to judicial
Upon the other hand, the Solicitor General asserts that petitioners
review. In Daza v. Singson, 64 it held that the act of the House of
have standing since this Court had, in the past, accorded standing to
Representatives in removing the petitioner from the Commission on
taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens, legislators in cases involving
Appointments is subject to judicial review. In Tañada v. Cuenco, 65 it
paramount public interest 70and transcendental importance, 71 and
held that although under the Constitution, the legislative power is
that procedural matters are subordinate to the need to determine
vested exclusively in Congress, this does not detract from the power
whether or not the other branches of the government have kept
of the courts to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress.
themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and
In Angara v. Electoral Commission, 66 it ruled that confirmation by
that they have not abused the discretion given to them. 72 Amicus
the National Assembly of the election of any member, irrespective of
curiae Dean Raul Pangalangan of the U.P. College of Law is of the
whether his election is contested, is not essential before such
same opinion, citing transcendental importance and the well-
member-elect may discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of a
entrenched rule exception that, when the real party in interest is
member of the National Assembly.
unable to vindicate his rights by seeking the same remedies, as in
the case of the Chief Justice who, for ethical reasons, cannot himself
Finally, there exists no constitutional basis for the contention that invoke the jurisdiction of this Court, the courts will grant petitioners
the exercise of judicial review over impeachment proceedings would standing.
upset the system of checks and balances. Verily, the Constitution is
to be interpreted as a whole and "one section is not to be allowed to
defeat another." 67 Both are integral components of the calibrated
system of independence and interdependence that insures that no
branch of government act beyond the powers assigned to it by the There is, however, a difference between the rule on real-party-in-
Constitution. ATHCDa interest and the rule on standing, for the former is a concept of civil
procedure 73 while the latter has constitutional underpinnings. 74 In
view of the arguments set forth regarding standing, it behooves the
Essential Requisites for Judicial Review
Court to reiterate the ruling in Kilosbayan, Inc.v. Morato 75 to clarify
what is meant by locus standi and to distinguish it from real party-in-
As clearly stated in Angara v. Electoral Commission, the courts' interest.
power of judicial review, like almost all powers conferred by the
Constitution, is subject to several limitations, namely: (1) an actual
The difference between the rule on standing
case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the
and real party in interest has been noted by
person challenging the act must have "standing" to challenge; he
authorities thus: "It is important to note . . .
must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that
that standing because of its constitutional and
he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its
public policy underpinnings, is very different
enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at
from questions relating to whether a
the earliest possible opportunity; and (4) the issue of
particular plaintiff is the real party in interest
constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.
or has capacity to sue. Although all three
requirements are directed towards ensuring
. . . Even then, this power of judicial review is that only certain parties can maintain an
limited to actual cases and controversies to be action, standing restrictions require a partial
exercised after full opportunity of argument consideration of the merits, as well as broader
by the parties, and limited further to the policy concerns relating to the proper role of
constitutional question raised or the very lis the judiciary in certain areas.
mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction
could only lead to dialectics and barren legal
Standing is a special concern in constitutional
questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated
law because in some cases suits are brought
to actualities. Narrowed as its function is in
not by parties who have been personally
this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon
injured by the operation of a law or by official
questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of
action taken, but by concerned citizens,
legislation. More than that, courts accord the
taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the
presumption of constitutionality to legislative
public interest. Hence the question in standing
enactments, not only because the legislature
is whether such parties have "alleged such a
is presumed to abide by the Constitution but
personal stake in the outcome of the
also because the judiciary in the
controversy as to assure that concrete
determination of actual cases and
adverseness which sharpens the presentation
controversies must reflect the wisdom and
of issues upon which the court so largely
justice of the people as expressed through
depends for illumination of difficult
their representatives in the executive and
constitutional questions." DTAcIa
legislative departments of the
government. 68 (Italics in the original)
xxx xxx xxx
Standing
On the other hand, the question as to "real
party in interest" is whether he is "the party
Locus standi or legal standing or has been defined as a personal and
who would be benefited or injured by the
substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or
judgment, or the 'party entitled to the avails
will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is
of the suit.'" 76 (Citations omitted)
being challenged. The gist of the question of standing is whether a
party alleges such personal stake in the outcome of the controversy
as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the
71
While rights personal to the Chief Justice may have been injured by petitioners additionally allege standing as citizens and taxpayers,
the alleged unconstitutional acts of the House of Representatives, however, their petition will stand.
none of the petitioners asserts a violation of the personal rights of
the Chief Justice. On the contrary, they invariably invoke the The Philippine Bar Association, in G.R. No. 160403, invokes the sole
vindication of their own rights — as taxpayers; members of ground of transcendental importance, while Atty. Dioscoro U.
Congress; citizens, individually or in a class suit; and members of the Vallejos, in G.R. No. 160397, is mum on his standing.
bar and of the legal profession — which were supposedly violated by
the alleged unconstitutional acts of the House of Representatives.
There being no doctrinal definition of transcendental importance,
the following determinants formulated by former Supreme Court
In a long line of cases, however, concerned citizens, taxpayers and Justice Florentino P. Feliciano are instructive: (1) the character of the
legislators when specific requirements have been met have been funds or other assets involved in the case; (2) the presence of a clear
given standing by this Court. case of disregard of a constitutional or statutory prohibition by the
public respondent agency or instrumentality of the government; and
When suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner assailing the (3) the lack of any other party with a more direct and specific
constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must interest in raising the questions being raised. 90 Applying these
be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is determinants, this Court is satisfied that the issues raised herein are
invalid, but also that he sustained or is in imminent danger of indeed of transcendental importance.
sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not
merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must In not a few cases, this Court has in fact adopted a liberal attitude on
appear that the person complaining has been or is about to be the locus standi of a petitioner where the petitioner is able to craft
denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that an issue of transcendental significance to the people, as when the
he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason issues raised are of paramount importance to the public. 91 Such
of the statute or act complained of. 77 In fine, when the proceeding liberality does not, however, mean that the requirement that a party
involves the assertion of a public right, 78 the mere fact that he is a should have an interest in the matter is totally eliminated. A party
citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest. must, at the very least, still plead the existence of such interest, it
not being one of which courts can take judicial notice. In petitioner
In the case of a taxpayer, he is allowed to sue where there is a claim Vallejos' case, he failed to allege any interest in the case. He does
that public funds are illegally disbursed, or that public money is not thus have standing.
being deflected to any improper purpose, or that there is a wastage
of public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or With respect to the motions for intervention, Rule 19, Section 2 of
unconstitutional law. 79 Before he can invoke the power of judicial the Rules of Court requires an intervenor to possess a legal interest
review, however, he must specifically prove that he has sufficient in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties,
interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money raised by or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely
taxation and that he would sustain a direct injury as a result of the affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the
enforcement of the questioned statute or contract. It is not custody of the court or of an officer thereof. While intervention is
sufficient that he has merely a general interest common to all not a matter of right, it may be permitted by the courts when the
members of the public. 80 applicant shows facts which satisfy the requirements of the law
authorizing intervention. 92
At all events, courts are vested with discretion as to whether or not
a taxpayer's suit should be entertained. 81 This Court opted to grant In Intervenors Attorneys Romulo Macalintal and Pete Quirino
standing to most of the petitioners, given their allegation that any Quadra’s case, they seek to join petitioners Candelaria, et al. in G.R.
impending transmittal to the Senate of the Articles of Impeachment No. 160262. Since, save for one additional issue, they raise the same
and the ensuing trial of the Chief Justice will necessarily involve the issues and the same standing, and no objection on the part of
expenditure of public funds. petitioners Candelaria, et al. has been interposed, this Court as
earlier stated, granted their Motion for Leave of Court to Intervene
As for a legislator, he is allowed to sue to question the validity of any and Petition-in-Intervention.
official action which he claims infringes his prerogatives as a
legislator. 82 Indeed, a member of the House of Representatives has Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang
standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and Pilipino, Inc., et al. sought to join petitioner Francisco in G.R.
privileges vested by the Constitution in his office. 83 No. 160261. Invoking their right as citizens to intervene, alleging that
"they will suffer if this insidious scheme of the minority members of
While an associationhas legal personality to represent its the House of Representatives is successful," this Court found the
members, 84 especially when it is composed of substantial taxpayers requisites for intervention had been complied with.
and the outcome will affect their vital interests, 85 the mere
invocation by the Integrated Bar of the Philippinesor any member of Alleging that the issues raised in the petitions in G.R. Nos. 160261,
the legal profession of the duty to preserve the rule of law and 160262, 160263, 160277, 160292, 160295, and 160310 are of
nothing more, although undoubtedly true, does not suffice to clothe transcendental importance, World War II Veterans Legionnaires of
it with standing. Its interest is too general. It is shared by other the Philippines, Inc. filed a "Petition-in-Intervention with Leave to
groups and the whole citizenry. However, a reading of the petition Intervene" to raise the additional issue of whether or not the second
shows that it has advanced constitutional issues which deserve the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice is valid and based
attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and on any of the grounds prescribed by the Constitution.
weight as precedents. 86 It, therefore, behooves this Court to relax
the rules on standing and to resolve the issues presented by it.
Finding that Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga
Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., et al. and World War II Veterans
In the same vein, when dealing with class suits filed in behalf of all Legionnaires of the Philippines, Inc. possess a legal interest in the
citizens, persons intervening must be sufficiently numerous to fully matter in litigation the respective motions to intervene were
protect the interests of all concerned 87 to enable the court to deal granted.
properly with all interests involved in the suit, 88 for a judgment in a
class suit, whether favorable or unfavorable to the class, is, under
the res judicataprinciple, binding on all members of the class
whether or not they were before the court. 89 Where it clearly
appears that not all interests can be sufficiently represented as Senator Aquilino Pimentel, on the other hand, sought to intervene
shown by the divergent issues raised in the numerous petitions for the limited purpose of making of record and arguing a point of
before this Court, G.R. No. 160365 as a class suit ought to fail. Since view that differs with Senate President Drilon's. He alleges that
submitting to this Court's jurisdiction as the Senate President does
72
will undermine the independence of the Senate which will sit as an The dean's position does not persuade. First, the withdrawal by the
impeachment court once the Articles of Impeachment are Representatives of their signatures would not, by itself, cure the
transmitted to it from the House of Representatives. Clearly, Senator House Impeachment Rules of their constitutional infirmity. Neither
Pimentel possesses a legal interest in the matter in litigation, he would such a withdrawal, by itself, obliterate the questioned second
being a member of Congress against which the herein petitions are impeachment complaint since it would only place it under the ambit
directed. For this reason, and to fully ventilate all substantial issues of Sections 3(2) and (3) of Article XI of the Constitution 97 and,
relating to the matter at hand, his Motion to Intervene was granted therefore, petitioners would continue to suffer their injuries.
and he was, as earlier stated, allowed to argue. IEcDCa
Second and most importantly, the futility of seeking remedies from
Lastly, as to Jaime N. Soriano's motion to intervene, the same must either or both Houses of Congress before coming to this Court is
be denied for, while he asserts an interest as a taxpayer, he failed to shown by the fact that, as previously discussed, neither the House of
meet the standing requirement for bringing taxpayer's suits as set Representatives nor the Senate is clothed with the power to rule
forth in Dumlao v. COMELEC, 93to wit: with definitiveness on the issue of constitutionality, whether
concerning impeachment proceedings or otherwise, as said power is
. . . While, concededly, the elections to be held exclusively vested in the judiciary by the earlier quoted Section I,
involve the expenditure of public moneys, Article VIII of the Constitution. Remedy cannot be sought from a
nowhere in their Petition do said petitioners body which is bereft of power to grant it.
allege that their tax money is "being extracted
and spent in violation of specific constitutional Justiciability
protection against abuses of legislative
power," or that there is a misapplication of In the leading case of Tañada v. Cuenco, 98 Chief Justice Roberto
such funds by respondent COMELEC, or that Concepcion defined the term "political question," viz:
public money is being deflected to any
improper purpose. Neither do petitioners seek
[T]he term "political question" connotes, in
to restrain respondent from wasting public
legal parlance, what it means in ordinary
funds through the enforcement of an invalid
parlance, namely, a question of policy. In
or unconstitutional law. 94 (Citations omitted)
other words, in the language of Corpus Juris
Secundum, it refers to "those questions which,
In praying for the dismissal of the petitions, Soriano failed even under the Constitution, are to be decided by
to allege that the act of petitioners will result in illegal the people in their sovereign capacity, or in
disbursement of public funds or in public money being regard to which full discretionary authority has
deflected to any improper purpose. Additionally, his mere been delegated to the Legislature or executive
interest as a member of the Bar does not suffice to clothe him branch of the Government." It is concerned
with standing. with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not
Ripeness and Prematurity legality, of a particular measure. 99(Italics in
the original)
In Tan v. Macapagal, 95 this Court, through Chief Justice Fernando,
held that for a case to be considered ripe for adjudication, "it is a Prior to the 1973 Constitution, without consistency and seemingly
prerequisite that something had by then been accomplished or without any rhyme or reason, this Court vacillated on its stance of
performed by either branch before a court may come into the taking cognizance of cases which involved political questions. In
picture." 96 Only then may the courts pass on the validity of what some cases, this Court hid behind the cover of the political question
was done, if and when the matter is challenged in an appropriate doctrine and refused to exercise its power of judicial review. 100 In
legal proceeding. other cases, however, despite the seeming political nature of the
therein issues involved, this Court assumed jurisdiction whenever it
found constitutionally imposed limits on powers or functions
The instant petitions raise in the main the issue of the validity of the
conferred upon political bodies. 101 Even in the landmark case
filing of the second impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice
ofJavellana v. Executive Secretary 102 which raised the issue of
in accordance with the House Impeachment Rules adopted by the
whether the 1973 Constitution was ratified, hence, in force, this
12th Congress, the constitutionality of which is questioned. The
Court shunted the political question doctrine and took cognizance
questioned acts having been carried out, i.e., the second
thereof. Ratification by the people of a Constitution is a political
impeachment complaint had been filed with the House of
question, it being a question decided by the people in their
Representatives and the 2001 Rules have already been already
sovereign capacity.
promulgated and enforced, the prerequisite that the alleged
unconstitutional act should be accomplished and performed before
suit, as Tan v.Macapagal holds, has been complied with. The frequency with which this Court invoked the political question
doctrine to refuse to take jurisdiction over certain cases during the
Marcos regime motivated Chief Justice Concepcion, when he
Related to the issue of ripeness is the question of whether the
became a Constitutional Commissioner, to clarify this Court's power
instant petitions are premature. Amicus curiae former Senate
of judicial review and its application on issues involving political
President Jovito R. Salonga opines that there may be no urgent need
questions, viz:
for this Court to render a decision at this time, it being the final
arbiter on questions of constitutionality anyway. He thus
recommends that all remedies in the House and Senate should first MR. CONCEPCION. Thank you, Mr. Presiding
be exhausted. Officer.

Taking a similar stand is Dean Raul Pangalangan of the U.P. College I will speak on the judiciary. Practically,
of Law who suggests to this Court to take judicial notice of on-going everybody has made, I suppose, the usual
attempts to encourage signatories to the second impeachment comment that the judiciary is the weakest
complaint to withdraw their signatures and opines that the House among the three major branches of the
Impeachment Rules provide for an opportunity for members to raise service. Since the legislature holds the purse
constitutional questions themselves when the Articles of and the executive the sword, the judiciary has
Impeachment are presented on a motion to transmit to the same to nothing with which to enforce its decisions or
the Senate. The dean maintains that even assuming that the Articles commands except the power of reason and
are transmitted to the Senate, the Chief Justice can raise the issue of appeal to conscience which, after all, reflects
their constitutional infirmity by way of a motion to dismiss. the will of God, and is the most powerful of all
other powers without exception. . . . And so,

73
with the body’s indulgence, I will proceed to finished the Constitution; it had barely agreed
read the provisions drafted by the Committee in the fundamentals of the Constitution. I
on the Judiciary. forgot to say that upon the proclamation of
martial law, some delegates to that 1971
The first section starts with a sentence copied Constitutional Convention, dozens of them,
from former Constitutions. It says: were picked up. One of them was our very
own colleague, Commissioner Calderon. So,
the unfinished draft of the Constitution was
The judicial power shall be vested in
taken over by representatives of Malacañang.
one Supreme Court and in such
In 17 days, they finished what the delegates to
lower courts as may be established
the 1971 Constitutional Convention had been
by law.
unable to accomplish for about 14 months.
The draft of the 1973 Constitution was
I suppose nobody can question it. presented to the President around December
1, 1972, whereupon the President issued a
The next provision is new in our constitutional decree calling a plebiscite which suspended
law. I will read it first and explain. the operation of some provisions in the
martial law decree which prohibited
Judicial power includes the duty of discussions, much less public discussions of
courts of justice to settle actual certain matters of public concern. The
controversies involving rights which purpose was presumably to allow a free
are legally demandable and discussion on the draft of the Constitution on
enforceable and to determine which a plebiscite was to be held sometime in
whether or not there has been a January 1973. If I may use a word famous by
grave abuse of discretion amounting our colleague, Commissioner Ople, during the
to lack or excess of jurisdiction on interregnum, however, the draft of the
the part or instrumentality of the Constitution was analyzed and criticized with
government. such a telling effect that Malacañang felt the
danger of its approval. So, the President
suspended indefinitely the holding of the
Fellow Members of this Commission, this is plebiscite and announced that he would
actually a product of our experience during consult the people in a referendum to be held
martial law. As a matter of fact, it has some from January 10 to January 15. But the
antecedents in the past, but the role of the questions to be submitted in the referendum
judiciary during the deposed regime was were not announced until the eve of its
marred considerably by the circumstance that scheduled beginning, under the supposed
in a number of cases against the government, supervision not of the Commission on
which then had no legal defense at all, the Elections, but of what was then designated as
solicitor general set up the defense of political "citizens assemblies or barangays." Thus the
questions and got away with it. As a barangays came into existence. The questions
consequence, certain principles concerning to be propounded were released with
particularly the writ of habeas corpus, that is, proposed answers thereto, suggesting that it
the authority of courts to order the release of was unnecessary to hold a plebiscite because
political detainees, and other matters related the answers given in the referendum should
to the operation and effect of martial law be regarded as the votes cast in the plebiscite.
failed because the government set up the Thereupon, a motion was filed with the
defense of political question. And the Supreme Supreme Court praying that the holding of the
Court said: "Well, since it is political, we have referendum be suspended. When the motion
no authority to pass upon it." The Committee was being heard before the Supreme Court,
on the Judiciary feels that this was not a the Minister of Justice delivered to the Court a
proper solution of the questions involved. It did proclamation of the President declaring that
not merely request an encroachment upon the the new Constitution was already in force
rights of the people, but it, in effect, because the overwhelming majority of the
encouraged further violations thereof during votes cast in the referendum favored the
the martial law regime. I am sure the Constitution. Immediately after the departure
members of the Bar are familiar with this of the Minister of Justice, I proceeded to the
situation. But for the benefit of the Members session room where the case was being heard.
of the Commission who are not lawyers, allow I then informed the Court and the parties the
me to explain. I will start with a decision of the presidential proclamation declaring that the
Supreme Court in 1973 on the case 1973 Constitution had been ratified by the
ofJavellana vs. the Secretary of Justice, if I am people and is now in force.
not mistaken. Martial law was announced on
September 22, although the proclamation was
dated September 21. The obvious reason for
the delay in its publication was that the
administration had apprehended and detained A number of other cases were filed to declare
prominent newsmen on September 21. So the presidential proclamation null and
that when martial law was announced on void. The main defense put up by the
September 22, the media hardly published government was that the issue was a political
anything about it. In fact, the media could not question and that the court had no jurisdiction
publish any story not only because our main to entertain the case.
writers were already incarcerated, but also
because those who succeeded them in their xxx xxx xxx
jobs were under mortal threat of being the
object of wrath of the ruling party. The 1971
The government said that in a referendum
Constitutional Convention had begun on June
held from January 10 to January 15, the vast
1, 1971 and by September 21 or 22 had not
74
majority ratified the draft of the Constitution. Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the
Note that all members of the Supreme Court limits of power of the agencies and offices of
were residents of Manila, but none of them the government as well as those of its
had been notified of any referendum in their officers. In other words, the judiciary is the
respective places of residence, much less did final arbiter on the question whether or not a
they participate in the alleged referendum. branch of government or any of its officials has
None of them saw any referendum acted without jurisdiction or in excess of
proceeding. jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute
an abuse of discretion amounting to excess of
In the Philippines, even local gossips spread jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction.This is not
like wild fire. So, a majority of the members of only a judicial power but a duty to pass
the Court felt that there had been no judgment on matters of this nature.
referendum.
This is the background of paragraph 2 of
Second, a referendum cannot substitute for a Section 1, which means that the courts cannot
plebiscite. There is a big difference between a hereafter evade the duty to settle matters of
referendum and a plebiscite. But another this nature, by claiming that such matters
group of justices upheld the defense that the constitute a political question.
issue was a political question. Whereupon,
they dismissed the case. This is not the only I have made these extended remarks to the
major case in which the plea of "political end that the Commissioners may have an
question" was set up.There have been a initial food for thought on the subject of the
number of other cases in the past. judiciary. 103 (Italics in the original; emphasis
supplied)
. . . The defense of the political question was
rejected because the issue was clearly During the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, Chief
justiciable. Justice Concepcion further clarified the concept of judicial power,
thus:
xxx xxx xxx
MR. NOLLEDO. The Gentleman used the term
. . . When your Committee on the Judiciary "judicial power" but judicial power is not
began to perform its functions, it faced the vested in the Supreme Court alone but also in
following questions: What is judicial power? other lower courts as may be created by law.
What is a political question?
MR. CONCEPCION. Yes.
The Supreme Court, like all other courts, has
one main function: to settle actual MR. NOLLEDO. And so, is this only an
controversies involving conflicts of rights example?
which are demandable and enforceable. There
are rights which are guaranteed by law but MR. CONCEPCION. No, I know this is not. The
cannot be enforced by a judiciary party. In a Gentleman seems to identify political
decided case, a husband complained that his questions with jurisdictional questions. But
wife was unwilling to perform her duties as a there is a difference.
wife. The Court said: "We can tell your wife
what her duties as such are and that she is
MR. NOLLEDO. Because of the expression
bound to comply with them, but we cannot
"judicial power"?
force her physically to discharge her main
marital duty to her husband. There are some
rights guaranteed by law, but they are so MR. CONCEPCION. No. Judicial power, as I
personal that to enforce them by actual said, refers to ordinary cases but where there
compulsion would be highly derogatory to is a question as to whether the government
human dignity." had authority or had abused its authority to
the extent of lacking jurisdiction or excess of
jurisdiction, that is not a political
This is why the first part of the second
question. Therefore, the court has the duty to
paragraph of Section I provides that:
decide.

Judicial power includes the duty of


xxx xxx xxx
courts to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally
demandable or enforceable . . . FR. BERNAS. Ultimately, therefore, it will
always have to be decided by the Supreme
Court according to the new numerical need
The courts, therefore, cannot entertain, much
for votes.
less decide, hypothetical questions. In a
presidential system of government, the
Supreme Court has, also another important On another point, is it the intention of Section
function. The powers of government are 1 to do away with the political question
generally considered divided into three doctrine?
branches: the Legislative, the Executive and
the Judiciary. Each one is supreme within its MR. CONCEPCION. No.
own sphere and independent of the
others. Because of that supremacy power to FR. BERNAS. It is not.
determine whether a given law is valid or not
is vested in courts of justice.

75
MR. CONCEPCION. No, because whenever And in Daza v. Singson, 109 speaking through Justice Isagani Cruz,
there is an abuse of discretion, amounting to a this Court ruled:
lack of jurisdiction . . .
In the case now before us, the jurisdictional
FR. BERNAS. So, I am satisfied with the answer objection becomes even less tenable and
that it is not intended to do away with the decisive. The reason is that, even if we were to
political question doctrine. assume that the issue presented before us was
political in nature, we would still not be
MR. CONCEPCION. No, certainly not. precluded from resolving it under the
expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that
now covers, in proper cases, even the political
When this provision was originally drafted, it
question. 110 . . . (Emphasis and italics
sought to define what is judicial power. But
supplied.)
the Gentleman will notice it says, "judicial
power includes" and the reason being that the
definition that we might make may not cover Section 1, Article VIII, of the Court does not define what are
all possible areas. justiciable political questions and non-justiciable political questions,
however. Identification of these two species of political questions
may be problematic. There has been no clear standard. The
FR. BERNAS. So, this is not an attempt to solve
American case of Baker v. Carr 111 attempts to provide some:
the problems arising from the political
question doctrine.
. . . Prominent on the surface of any case held
to involve a political question is found
MR. CONCEPCION. It definitely does not
a textually demonstrable constitutional
eliminate the fact that truly political questions
commitment of the issue to a coordinate
are beyond the pale of judicial
political department; or a lack of judicially
power. 104 (Emphasis supplied)
discoverable and manageable standards for
resolving it; or the impossibility of deciding
From the foregoing record of the proceedings of the 1986 without an initial policy determination of a
Constitutional Commission, it is clear that judicial power is not only a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion; or
power; it is also a duty, a duty which cannot be abdicated by the the impossibility of a court’s undertaking
mere specter of this creature called the political question doctrine. independent resolution without expressing
Chief Justice Concepcion hastened to clarify, however, that Section lack of the respect due coordinate branches of
1, Article VIII was not intended to do away with "truly political government; or anunusual need for
questions." From this clarification it is gathered that there are two questioning adherence to a political decision
species of political questions: (1) "truly political questions" and (2) already made; or the potentiality of
those which "are not truly political questions." embarrassment from multifarious
pronouncements by various departments on
Truly political questions are thus beyond judicial review, the reason one question. 112 (emphasis supplied)
being that respect for the doctrine of separation of powers must be
maintained. On the other hand, by virtue of Section 1, Article VIII of Of these standards, the more reliable have been the first three:
the Constitution, courts can review questions which are not truly (1) a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the
political in nature. issue to a coordinate political department; (2) the lack of
judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving
As pointed out by amicus curiae former dean Pacifico Agabin of the it; and (3) the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy
UP College of Law, this Court has in fact in a number of cases taken determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion. These
jurisdiction over questions which are not truly political following the standards are not separate and distinct concepts but are
effectivity of the present Constitution. interrelated to each in that the presence of one strengthens the
conclusion that the others are also present.
In Marcos v. Manglapus, 105 this Court, speaking through Madame
Justice Irene Cortes, held:
The problem in applying the foregoing standards is that the
The present Constitution limits resort to the American concept of judicial review is radically different from our
political question doctrine and broadens the current concept, for Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution
scope of judicial inquiry into areas which the provides our courts with far less discretion in determining whether
Court, under previous constitutions, would they should pass upon a constitutional issue.
have normally left to the political departments
to decide. 106 . . . In our jurisdiction, the determination of a truly political question
from a non-justiciable political question lies in the answer to the
In Bengzon v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, 107 through Justice question of whether there are constitutionally imposed limits on
Teodoro Padilla, this Court declared: powers or functions conferred upon political bodies. If there are,
then our courts are duty-bound to examine whether the branch or
The "allocation of constitutional boundaries" instrumentality of the government properly acted within such limits.
is a task that this Court must perform under This Court shall thus now apply this standard to the present
the Constitution. Moreover, as held in a recent controversy.
case, "(t)he political question doctrine neither
interposes an obstacle to judicial These petitions raise five substantial issues:
determination of the rival claims. The
jurisdiction to delimit constitutional I.Whether the offenses alleged in the Second
boundaries has been given to this Court. It impeachment complaint constitute
cannot abdicate that obligation mandated by valid impeachable offenses under
the 1987 Constitution, although said provision the Constitution.
by no means does away with the applicability
of the principle in appropriate
cases." 108 (Emphasis and italics supplied) II.Whether the second impeachment
complaint was filed in accordance
76
with Section 3(4), Article XI of the determination, the constitutional question
Constitution. must have been opportunely raised by the
proper party, and the resolution of the
III.Whether the legislative inquiry by the question is unavoidably necessary to the
House Committee on Justice into the decision of the case itself . 118 [Emphasis
Judicial Development Fund is an supplied]
unconstitutional infringement of the
constitutionally mandated fiscal Succinctly put, courts will not touch the issue of constitutionality
autonomy of the judiciary. unless it is truly unavoidable and is the very lis mota orcrux of the
controversy.
IV.Whether Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of
the Rules on Impeachment adopted As noted earlier, the instant consolidated petitions, while all seeking
by the 12th Congress are the invalidity of the second impeachment complaint, collectively
unconstitutional for violating the raise several constitutional issues upon which the outcome of this
provisions of Section 3, Article XI of controversy could possibly be made to rest. In determining whether
the Constitution. one, some or all of the remaining substantial issues should be passed
upon, this Court is guided by the related cannon of adjudication that
V.Whether the second impeachment "the court should not form a rule of constitutional law broader than
complaint is barred under Section is required by the precise facts to which it is applied." 119
3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution.
In G.R. No. 160310, petitioners Leonilo R. Alfonso, et al. argue that,
The first issue goes into the merits of the second impeachment among other reasons, the second impeachment complaint is invalid
complaint over which this Court has no jurisdiction. More since it directly resulted from a Resolution 120 calling for a
importantly, any discussion of this issue would require this Court to legislative inquiry into the JDF, which Resolution and legislative
make a determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense. inquiry petitioners claim to likewise be unconstitutional for being:
Such a determination is a purely political question which the (a) a violation of the rules and jurisprudence on investigations in aid
Constitution has left to the sound discretion of the legislation. Such of legislation; (b) an open breach of the doctrine of separation of
an intent is clear from the deliberations of the Constitutional powers; (c) a violation of the constitutionally mandated fiscal
Commission. 113 autonomy of the judiciary; and (d) an assault on the independence
of the judiciary. 121
Although Section 2 of Article XI of the Constitution enumerates six
grounds for impeachment, two of these, namely, other high crimes Without going into the merits of petitioners Alfonso, et al.'s claims,
and betrayal of public trust, elude a precise definition. In fact, an it is the studied opinion of this Court that the issue of the
examination of the records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission constitutionality of the said Resolution and resulting legislative
shows that the framers could find no better way to approximate the inquiry is too far removed from the issue of the validity of the
boundaries of betrayal of public trust and other high crimes than by second impeachment complaint. Moreover, the resolution of said
alluding to both positive and negative examples of both, without issue would, in the Court's opinion, require it to form a rule of
arriving at their clear cut definition or even a standard constitutional law touching on the separate and distinct matter of
therefor. 114 Clearly, the issue calls upon this court to decide a non- legislative inquiries in general, which would thus be broader than is
justiciable political question which is beyond the scope of its judicial required by the facts of these consolidated cases. This opinion is
power under Section 1, Article VIII. further strengthened by the fact that said petitioners have raised
other grounds in support of their petition which would not be
adversely affected by the Court's ruling.
Lis Mota

En passant, this Court notes that a standard for the conduct of


It is a well-settled maxim of adjudication that an issue assailing the
legislative inquiries has already been enunciated by this Court
constitutionality of a governmental act should be avoided whenever
in Bengzon, Jr. v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, 122 viz:
possible. Thus, in the case of Sotto v. Commission on
Elections, 115 this Court held:
The 1987 Constitution expressly recognizes
the power of both houses of Congress to
. . . It is a well-established rule that a court
conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. Thus,
should not pass upon a constitutional question
Section 21, Article VI thereof provides:
and decide a law to be unconstitutional or
invalid, unless such question is raised by the
parties and that when it is raised, if the record The Senate or the House of
also presents some other ground upon which Representatives or any of its
the court may rest its judgment, that course respective committees may conduct
will be adopted and the constitutional inquiries in aid of legislation in
question will be left for consideration until a accordance with its duly published
case arises in which a decision upon such rules of procedure. The rights of
question will be unavoidable. 116 [Emphasis persons appearing in or affected by
and italics supplied] such inquiries shall be respected.

The same principle was applied in Luz Farms v. Secretary of The power of both houses of Congress to
Agrarian Reform, 117 where this Court invalidatedSections 13 conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is not,
and 32 of Republic Act No. 6657 for being confiscatory and therefore absolute or unlimited. Its exercise is
violative of due process, to wit: circumscribed by the afore-quoted provision
of the Constitution. Thus, as provided therein,
the investigation must be "in aid of legislation
It has been established that this Court will
in accordance with its duly published rules of
assume jurisdiction over a constitutional
procedure" and that "the rights of persons
question only if it is shown that the essential
appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall
requisites of a judicial inquiry into such a
be respected." It follows then that the rights
question are first satisfied. Thus, there must
of persons under the Bill of Rights must be
be an actual case or controversy involving a
respected, including the right to due process
conflict of legal rights susceptible of judicial
77
and the right not be compelled to testify resolution of endorsement being necessary only from at least one
against one's self. 123 Member whenever a citizen files a verified impeachment complaint.

In G.R. No. 160262, intervenors Romulo B. Macalintal and Pete While the foregoing issue, as argued by intervenors Macalintal and
Quirino Quadra, while joining the original petition of petitioners Quadra, does indeed limit the scope of the constitutional issues to
Candelaria, et al., introduce the new argument that since the second the provisions on impeachment, more compelling considerations
impeachment complaint was verified and filed only by militate against its adoption as the lis mota or crux of the present
Representatives Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella, controversy. Chief among this is the fact that only Attorneys
the same does not fall under the provision of Section 3 (4), Article XI Macalintal and Quadra, intervenors in G.R. No. 160262, have raised
of the Constitution which reads: this issue as a ground for invalidating the second impeachment
complaint. Thus, to adopt this additional ground as the basis for
Section 3(4) In case the verified complaint or deciding the instant consolidated petitions would not only render for
resolution of impeachment is filed by at least naught the efforts of the original petitioners in G.R. No. 160262, but
one-third of all the Members of the House, the the efforts presented by the other petitioners as well.
same shall constitute the Articles of
Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall Again, the decision to discard the resolution of this issue as
forthwith proceed. unnecessary for the determination of the instant cases is made
easier by the fact that said intervenors Macalintal and Quadra have
They assert that while at least 81 members of the House of joined in the petition of Candelaria, et al., adopting the latter's
Representatives signed a Resolution of Endorsement/Impeachment, arguments and issues as their own. Consequently, they are not
the same did not satisfy the requisites for the application of the unduly prejudiced by this Court's decision.
afore-mentioned section in that the "verified complaint or resolution
of impeachment" was not filed "by at least one-third of all the In sum, this Court holds that the two remaining issues, inextricably
Members of the House." With the exception of Representatives linked as they are, constitute the very lis mota of the instant
Teodoro and Fuentebella, the signatories to said Resolution are controversy: (1) whether Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the House
alleged to have verified the same merely as a "Resolution of Impeachment Rules adopted by the 12th Congress are
Endorsement." Intervenors point to the "Verification" of the unconstitutional for violating the provisions of Section 3, Article XI of
Resolution of Endorsement which states that: the Constitution; and (2) whether, as a result thereof, the second
impeachment complaint is barred under Section 3(5) of Article XI of
"We are the proponents/sponsors of the the Constitution.
Resolution of Endorsement of the
abovementioned Complaint of Judicial Restraint
Representatives Gilberto Teodoro and Felix
William B. Fuentebella . . .” 124 Senator Pimentel urges this Court to exercise judicial restraint on the
ground that the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, has the
Intervenors Macalintal and Quadra further claim that what the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. Again, this
Constitution requires in order for said second impeachment Court reiterates that the power of judicial review includes the power
complaint to automatically become the Articles of Impeachment and of review over justiciable issues in impeachment proceedings.
for trial in the Senate to begin "forthwith," is that
the verified complaint be "filed," not merely endorsed, by at least On the other hand, respondents Speaker De Venecia et al. argue
one-third of the Members of the House of Representatives. Not that "[t]here is a moral compulsion for the Court to not assume
having complied with this requirement, they concede that the jurisdiction over the impeachment because all the Members thereof
second impeachment complaint should have been calendared and are subject to impeachment." 125 But this argument is very much
referred to the House Committee on Justice under Section 3(2), like saying the Legislature has a moral compulsion not to pass laws
Article XI of the Constitution, viz: with penalty clauses because Members of the House of
Representatives are subject to them.
Section 3(2) A verified complaint for
impeachment may be filed by any Member of The exercise of judicial restraint over justiciable issues is not an
the House of Representatives or by any citizen option before this Court. Adjudication may not be declined, because
upon a resolution of endorsement by any this Court is not legally disqualified. Nor can jurisdiction be
Member thereof, which shall be included in renounced as there is no other tribunal to which the controversy
the Order of Business within ten session days, may be referred." 126 Otherwise, this Court would be shirking from
and referred to the proper Committee within its duty vested under Art. VIII, Sec. 1(2) of the Constitution. More
three session days thereafter. The Committee, than being clothed with authority thus, this Court is duty-bound to
after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its take cognizance of the instant petitions. 127 In the august words
Members, shall submit its report to the House of amicus curiae Father Bernas, "jurisdiction is not just a power; it is
within sixty session days from such referral, a solemn duty which may not be renounced. To renounce it, even if
together with the corresponding resolution. it is vexatious, would be a dereliction of duty."
The resolution shall be calendared for
consideration by the House within ten session
Even in cases where it is an interested party, the Court under our
days from receipt thereof.
system of government cannot inhibit itself and must rule upon the
challenge because no other office has the authority to do so. 128 On
the occasion that this Court had been an interested party to the
controversy before it, it has acted upon the matter "not with
Intervenors' foregoing position is echoed by Justice Maambong who officiousness but in the discharge of an unavoidable duty and, as
opined that for Section 3 (4), Article XI of the Constitution to apply, always, with detachment and fairness." 129 After all, "by [his]
there should be 76 or more representatives who signed and appointment to the office, the public has laid on [a member of the
verified the second impeachment complaint as complainants, signed judiciary] their confidence that [he] is mentally and morally fit to
and verified the signatories to a resolution of impeachment. Justice pass upon the merits of their varied contentions. For this reason,
Maambong likewise asserted that the Resolution of they expect [him] to be fearless in [his] pursuit to render justice, to
Endorsement/Impeachment signed by at least one-third of the be unafraid to displease any person, interest or power and to be
members of the House of Representatives as endorsers is not the equipped with a moral fiber strong enough to resist the temptations
resolution of impeachment contemplated by the Constitution, such lurking in [his] office." 130

78
The duty to exercise the power of adjudication regardless of interest itself of its jurisdiction as established by the
had already been settled in the case of Abbas v.Senate Electoral fundamental law. Disqualification of a judge is
Tribunal. 131 In that case, the petitioners filed with the respondent a deprivation of his judicial power. And if that
Senate Electoral Tribunal a Motion for Disqualification or Inhibition judge is the one designated by the
of the Senators-Members thereof from the hearing and resolution of Constitution to exercise the jurisdiction of his
SET Case No. 002-87 on the ground that all of them were interested court, as is the case with the Justices of this
parties to said case as respondents therein. This would have reduced Court, the deprivation of his or their judicial
the Tribunal's membership to only its three Justices-Members whose power is equivalent to the deprivation of the
disqualification was not sought, leaving them to decide the matter. judicial power of the court itself. It affects the
This Court held: very heart of judicial independence. The
proposed mass disqualification, if sanctioned
Where, as here, a situation is created which and ordered, would leave the Courtno
precludes the substitution of any Senator alternative but to abandon a duty which it
sitting in the Tribunal by any of his other cannot lawfully discharge if shorn of the
colleagues in the Senate without inviting the participation of its entire membership of
same objections to the substitute's Justices. 133 (Italics in the original; emphasis
competence, the proposed mass supplied)
disqualification, if sanctioned and ordered,
would leave the Tribunal no alternative but to Besides, there are specific safeguards already laid down by the Court
abandon a duty that no other court or body when it exercises its power of judicial review.
can perform, but which it cannot lawfully
discharge if shorn of the participation of its In Demetria v. Alba, 134 this Court, through Justice Marcelo Fernan
entire membership of Senators. cited the "seven pillars" of limitations of the power of judicial
review, enunciated by US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis
To our mind, this is the overriding in Ashwander v. TVA 135 as follows:
consideration — that the Tribunal be not
prevented from discharging a duty which it 1.The Court will not pass upon the
alone has the power to perform, the constitutionality of legislation in a
performance of which is in the highest public friendly, non-adversary proceeding,
interest as evidenced by its being expressly declining because to decide such
imposed by no less than the fundamental law. questions 'is legitimate only in the
last resort, and as a necessity in the
It is aptly noted in the first of the questioned determination of real, earnest and
Resolutions that the framers of the vital controversy between
Constitution could not have been unaware of individuals. It never was the thought
the possibility of an election contest that that, by means of a friendly suit, a
would involve all Senators — elect, six of party beaten in the legislature could
whom would inevitably have to sit in transfer to the courts an inquiry as
judgment thereon. Indeed, such possibility to the constitutionality of the
might surface again in the wake of the 1992 legislative act.'
elections when once more, but for the last
time, all 24 seats in the Senate will be at stake. 2.The Court will not 'anticipate a question of
Yet the Constitution provides no scheme or constitutional law in advance of the
mode for settling such unusual situations or necessity of deciding it.' . . . 'It is not
for the substitution of Senators designated to the habit of the Court to decide
the Tribunal whose disqualification may be questions of a constitutional nature
sought. Litigants in such situations must unless absolutely necessary to a
simply place their trust and hopes of decision of the case.'
vindication in the fairness and sense of justice
of the Members of the Tribunal. Justices and
3.The Court will not 'formulate a rule of
Senators, singly and collectively.
constitutional law broader than is
required by the precise facts to
Let us not be misunderstood as saying that no which it is to be applied.'
Senator-Member of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal may inhibit or disqualify himself from
4.The Court will not pass upon a constitutional
sitting in judgment on any case before said
question although properly
Tribunal. Every Member of the Tribunal may,
presented by the record, if there is
as his conscience dictates, refrain from
also present some other ground
participating in the resolution of a case where
upon which the case may be
he sincerely feels that his personal interests or
disposed of. This rule has found
biases would stand in the way of an objective
most varied application. Thus, if a
and impartial judgment. What we are merely
case can be decided on either of two
saying is that in the light of the Constitution,
grounds, one involving a
the Senate Electoral Tribunal cannot legally
constitutional question, the other a
function as such, absent its entire membership
question of statutory construction or
of Senators and that no amendment of its
general law, the Court will decide
Rules can confer on the three Justices-
only the latter. Appeals from the
Members alone the power of valid
highest court of a state challenging
adjudication of a senatorial election contest.
its decision of a question under the
Federal Constitution are frequently
More recently in the case of Estrada v. Desierto, 132 it was held that: dismissed because the judgment can
be sustained on an independent
Moreover, to disqualify any of the members of state ground.
the Court, particularly a majority of them, is
nothing short ofpro tanto depriving the Court
79
5.The Court will not pass upon the validity of a 3.the question of constitutionality must be
statute upon complaint of one who raised at the earliest possible
fails to show that he is injured by its opportunity
operation. Among the many
applications of this rule, none is 4.the issue of constitutionality must be the
more striking than the denial of the very lis mota of the case. 136
right of challenge to one who lacks a
personal or property right. Thus, the
Respondents Speaker de Venecia, et al. raise another argument for
challenge by a public official
judicial restraint the possibility that "judicial review of
interested only in the performance
impeachments might also lead to embarrassing conflicts between
of his official duty will not be
the Congress and the [J]udiciary." They stress the need to avoid the
entertained . . . In Fairchild
appearance of impropriety or conflicts of interest in judicial
v.Hughes, the Court affirmed the
hearings, and the scenario that it would be confusing and
dismissal of a suit brought by a
humiliating and risk serious political instability at home and abroad if
citizen who sought to have the
the judiciary countermanded the vote of Congress to remove an
Nineteenth Amendment declared
impeachable official. 137 Intervenor Soriano echoes this argument
unconstitutional. In Massachusetts
by alleging that failure of this Court to enforce its Resolution against
v. Mellon, the challenge of the
Congress would result in the diminution of its judicial authority and
federal Maternity Act was not
erode public confidence and faith in the judiciary.
entertained although made by the
Commonwealth on behalf of all its
citizens. Such an argument, however, is specious, to say the least. As
correctly stated by the Solicitor General, the possibility of the
occurrence of a constitutional crisis is not a reason for this Court to
6.The Court will not pass upon the
refrain from upholding the Constitution in all impeachment cases.
constitutionality of a statute at the
Justices cannot abandon their constitutional duties just because
instance of one who has availed
their action may start, if not precipitate, a crisis.
himself of its benefits.

Justice Feliciano warned against the dangers when this Court refuses
7.When the validity of an act of the Congress
to act.
is drawn in question, and even if a
serious doubt of constitutionality is
raised, it is a cardinal principle that . . . Frequently, the fight over a controversial
this Court will first ascertain legislative or executive act is not regarded as
whether a construction of the settled until the Supreme Court has passed
statute is fairly possible by which the upon the constitutionality of the act involved,
question may be avoided (citations the judgment has not only juridical effects but
omitted). also political consequences. Those political
consequences may follow even where the
Court fails to grant the petitioner's prayer to
The foregoing "pillars" of limitation of judicial review, summarized
nullify an act for lack of the necessary number
in Ashwander v. TVA from different decisions of the United States
of votes. Frequently, failure to act explicitly,
Supreme Court, can be encapsulated into the following categories:
one way or the other, itself constitutes a
decision for the respondent and validation, or
1.that there be absolute necessity of deciding at least quasi-validation, follows." 138
a case
Thus, in Javellana v. Executive Secretary 139 where this Court was
2.that rules of constitutional law shall be split and "in the end there were not enough votes either to grant the
formulated only as required by the petitions, or to sustain respondent's claims," 140 the pre-existing
facts of the case constitutional order was disrupted which paved the way for the
establishment of the martial law regime.
3.that judgment may not be sustained on
some other ground Such an argument by respondents and intervenor also presumes
that the coordinate branches of the government would behave in a
4.that there be actual injury sustained by the lawless manner and not do their duty under the law to uphold the
party by reason of the operation of Constitution and obey the laws of the land. Yet there is no reason to
the statute believe that any of the branches of government will behave in a
precipitate manner and risk social upheaval, violence, chaos and
5.that the parties are not in estoppel anarchy by encouraging disrespect for the fundamental law of the
land.
6.that the Court upholds the presumption of
constitutionality. Substituting the word public officers for judges, this Court is well
guided by the doctrine in People v. Veneracion, to wit:141
As stated previously, parallel guidelines have been adopted by this
Court in the exercise of judicial review: Obedience to the rule of law forms the
bedrock of our system of justice. If [public
officers], under the guise of religious or
1.actual case or controversy calling for the
political beliefs were allowed to roam
exercise of judicial power
unrestricted beyond boundaries within which
they are required by law to exercise the duties
2.the person challenging the act must have of their office, then law becomes meaningless.
"standing" to challenge; he must A government of laws, not of men excludes
have a personal and substantial the exercise of broad discretionary powers by
interest in the case such that he has those acting under its authority. Under this
sustained, or will sustain, direct system, [public officers] are guided by the Rule
injury as a result of its enforcement of Law, and ought "to protect and enforce it
80
without fear or favor," resist encroachments actual initiation. (Emphasis and italics
by governments, political parties, or even the supplied)
interference of their own personal beliefs. 142
As stated earlier, one of the means of interpreting the Constitution is
Constitutionality of the Rules of Procedure for Impeachment looking into the intent of the law. Fortunately, the intent of the
Proceedings adopted by the 12th Congress framers of the 1987 Constitution can be pried from its records:

Respondent House of Representatives, through Speaker De Venecia, MR. MAAMBONG. With reference to Section
argues that Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House Impeachment 3, regarding the procedure and the
Rules do not violate Section 3 (5) of Article XI of our present substantive provisions on impeachment, I
Constitution, contending that the term "initiate" does not mean "to understand there have been many proposals
file;" that Section 3 (1) is clear in that it is the House of and, I think, these would need some time for
Representatives, as a collective body, which has the exclusive power Committee action.
to initiate all cases of impeachment; that initiate could not possibly
mean "to file" because filing can, as Section 3 (2), Article XI of the However, I would just like to indicate that I
Constitution provides, only be accomplished in 3 ways, to wit: (1) by submitted to the Committee a resolution on
a verified complaint for impeachment by any member of the House impeachment proceedings, copies of which
of Representatives; or (2) by any citizen upon a resolution of have been furnished the Members of this
endorsement by any member; or (3) by at least 1/3 of all the body. This is borne out of my experience as a
members of the House. Respondent House of Representatives member of the Committee on Justice, Human
concludes that the one year bar prohibiting the initiation of Rights and Good Government which took
impeachment proceedings against the same officials could not have charge of the last impeachment resolution
been violated as the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice filed before the First Batasang Pambansa. For
Davide and seven Associate Justices had not been initiated as the the information of the Committee, the
House of Representatives, acting as the collective body, has yet to resolution covers several steps in the
act on it. impeachment proceedings starting with
initiation, action of the Speaker committee
The resolution of this issue thus hinges on the interpretation of the action, calendaring of report, voting on the
term "initiate." Resort to statutory construction is, therefore, in report, transmittal referral to the Senate, trial
order. and judgment by the Senate.

That the sponsor of the provision of Section 3(5) of the Constitution,


Commissioner Florenz Regalado, who eventually became an
Associate Justice of this Court, agreed on the meaning of "initiate" as xxx xxx xxx
"to file," as proffered and explained by Constitutional Commissioner
Maambong during the Constitutional Commission proceedings,
MR. MAAMBONG. Mr. Presiding Officer, I am
which he (Commissioner Regalado) as amicus curiae affirmed during
not moving for a reconsideration of the
the oral arguments on the instant petitions held on November 5,
approval of the amendment submitted by
2003 at which he added that the act of "initiating" included the act
Commissioner Regalado, but I will just make of
of taking initial action on the complaint, dissipates any doubt that
record my thinking that we do not really
indeed the word "initiate" as it twice appears in Article XI (3) and (5)
initiate the filing of the Articles of
of the Constitution means to file the complaint and take initial action
Impeachment on the floor. The procedure, as I
on it.
have pointed out earlier, was that the
initiation starts with the filing of the
"Initiate" of course is understood by ordinary men to mean, as complaint. And what is actually done on the
dictionaries do, to begin, to commence, or set going. As Webster's floor is that the committee resolution
Third New International Dictionary of the English Language concisely containing the Articles of Impeachment is the
puts it, it means "to perform or facilitate the first action," which jibes one approved by the body.
with Justice Regalado's position, and that of Father Bernas, who
elucidated during the oral arguments of the instant petitions on
As the phraseology now runs, which may be
November 5, 2003 in this wise:
corrected by the Committee on Style, it
appears that the initiation starts on the floor.
Briefly then, an impeachment proceeding is If we only have time, I could cite examples in
not a single act. It is a complexus of acts the case of the impeachment proceedings of
consisting of a beginning, a middle and an end. President Richard Nixon wherein the
The end is the transmittal of the articles of Committee on the Judiciary submitted the
impeachment to the Senate. The middle recommendation, the resolution, and the
consists of those deliberative moments Articles of Impeachment to the body, and it
leading to the formulation of the articles of was the body who approved the resolution. It
impeachment. The beginning or the initiation is not the body which initiates it. It only
is the filing of the complaint and its referral to approves or disapproves the resolution. So, on
the Committee on Justice. that score, probably the Committee on Style
could help in rearranging these words because
Finally, it should be noted that the House Rule we have to be very technical about this. I have
relied upon by Representatives Cojuangco and been bringing with me The Rules of the House
Fuentebella says that impeachment is of Representatives of the U.S. Congress. The
"deemed initiated" when the Justice Senate Rules are with me. The proceedings on
Committee votes in favor of impeachment or the case of Richard Nixon are with me. I have
when the House reverses a contrary vote of submitted my proposal, but the Committee
the Committee. Note that the Rule does not has already decided. Nevertheless, I just want
say "impeachment proceedings" are to indicate this on record.
initiated but rather are "deemed initiated.”
The language is recognition that initiation xxx xxx xxx
happened earlier, but by legal fiction there is
an attempt to postpone it to a time after
81
MR. MAAMBONG. I would just like to move xxx xxx xxx
for a reconsideration of the approval of
Section 3 (3). My reconsideration will not at all (5)No impeachment proceedings shall be
affect the substance, but it is only in keeping initiated against the same official more than
with the exact formulation of the Rules of the once within a period of one year, (Emphasis
House of Representatives of the United States supplied)
regarding impeachment.
refers to two objects, "impeachment case" and "impeachment
I am proposing, Madam President, without proceeding."
doing damage to any of this provision, that on
page 2, Section 3 (3), from lines 17 to 18, we
Father Bernas explains that in these two provisions, the common
delete the words which read: "to initiate
verb is "to initiate." The object in the first sentence is "impeachment
impeachment proceedings" and the comma (,)
case." The object in the second sentence is "impeachment
and insert on line 19 after the word
proceeding." Following the principle ofreddendo singuala sinuilis,
"resolution" the phrase WITH THE ARTICLES,
the term "cases" must be distinguished from the term
and then capitalize the letter "i" in
"proceedings." An impeachment case is the legal controversy that
"impeachment" and replace the word "by"
must be decided by the Senate. Above-quoted first provision
with OF, so that the whole section will now
provides that the House, by a vote of one-third of all its members,
read: "A vote of at least one-third of all the
can bring a case to the Senate. It is in that sense that the House has
Members of the House shall be necessary
"exclusive power" to initiate all cases of impeachment. No other
either to affirm a resolution WITH THE
body can do it. However, before a decision is made to initiate a case
ARTICLES of Impeachment OF the Committee
in the Senate, a "proceeding" must be followed to arrive at a
or to override its contrary resolution. The vote
conclusion. A proceeding must be "initiated." To initiate, which
of each Member shall be recorded."
comes from the Latin word initium, means to begin. On the other
hand, proceeding is a progressive noun. It has a beginning, a middle,
I already mentioned earlier yesterday that the and an end. It takes place not in the Senate but in the House and
initiation, as far as the House of consists of several steps: (1) there is the filing of a verified complaint
Representatives of the United States is either by a Member of the House of Representatives or by a private
concerned, really starts from the filing of the citizen endorsed by a Member of the House of the Representatives;
verified complaint and every resolution to (2) there is the processing of this complaint by the proper
impeach always carries with it the Articles of Committee which may either reject the complaint or uphold it; (3)
Impeachment. As a matter of fact, the words whether the resolution of the Committee rejects or upholds the
"Articles of Impeachment" are mentioned on complaint, the resolution must be forwarded to the House for
line 25 in the case of the direct filing of a further processing; and (4) there is the processing of the same
verified complaint of one-third of all the complaint by the House of Representatives which either affirms a
Members of the House. I will mention again, favorable resolution of the Committee or overrides a contrary
Madam President, that my amendment will resolution by a vote of one-third of all the members. If at least one
not vary the substance in any way. It is only in third of all the Members upholds the complaint, Articles of
keeping with the uniform procedure of the Impeachment are prepared and transmitted to the Senate. It is at
House of Representatives of the United States this point that the House "initiates an impeachment case." It is at
Congress. Thank you, Madam this point that an impeachable public official is successfully
President. 143 (Italics in the original; emphasis impeached. That is, he or she is successfully charged with an
and italics supplied) impeachment "case" before the Senate as impeachment court.

This amendment proposed by Commissioner Maambong was Father Bernas further explains: The "impeachment proceeding" is
clarified and accepted by the Committee on the Accountability of not initiated when the complaint is transmitted to the Senate for
Public Officers. 144 trial because that is the end of the House proceeding and the
beginning of another proceeding, namely the trial. Neither is the
It is thus clear that the framers intended "initiation" to start with the "impeachment proceeding" initiated when the House deliberates on
filing of the complaint. In his amicus curiae brief, Commissioner the resolution passed on to it by the Committee, because something
Maambong explained that "the obvious reason in deleting the prior to that has already been done. The action of the House is
phrase "to initiate impeachment proceedings" as contained in the already a further step in the proceeding, not its initiation or
text of the provision of Section 3 (3) was to settle and make it beginning. Rather, the proceeding is initiated or begins, when a
understood once and for all that the initiation of impeachment verified complaint is filed and referred to the Committee on Justice
proceedings starts with the filing of the complaint, and the vote of for action. This is the initiating step which triggers the series of steps
one-third of the House in a resolution of impeachment does not that follow.
initiate the impeachment proceedings which was already initiated by
the filing of a verified complaint under Section 3, paragraph (2), The framers of the Constitution also understood initiation in its
Article XI of the Constitution." 145 ordinary meaning. Thus when a proposal reached the floor
proposing that "A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of
Amicus curiae Constitutional Commissioner Regalado is of the same the House shall be necessary . . . to initiate
view as is Father Bernas, who was also a member of the 1986 impeachment proceedings," this was met by a proposal to delete the
Constitutional Commission, that the word "initiate" as used in Article line on the ground that the vote of the House does not initiate
XI, Section 3(5) means to file, both adding, however, that the filing impeachment proceeding but rather the filing of a complaint
must be accompanied by an action to set the complaint moving. does. 146 Thus the line was deleted and is not found in the present
Constitution.
During the oral arguments before this Court, Father Bernas clarified
that the word "initiate," appearing in the constitutional provision on Father Bernas concludes that when Section 3 (5) says, "No
impeachment, viz: impeachment proceeding shall be initiated against the same official
more than once within a period of one year," it means that no
Section 3 (1).The House of Representatives second verified complaint may be accepted and referred to the
shall have the exclusive power to initiate Committee on Justice for action. By his explanation, this
all cases of impeachment. interpretation is founded on the common understanding of the
meaning of "to initiate" which means to begin. He reminds that the
Constitution is ratified by the people, both ordinary and
82
sophisticated, as they understand it; and that ordinary people read Section 3 (8) of Article XI provides that "The Congress shall
ordinary meaning into ordinary words and not abstruse meaning, promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the
they ratify words as they understand it and not as sophisticated purpose of this section." Clearly, its power to promulgate its rules on
lawyers confuse it. impeachment is limited by the phrase "to effectively carry out the
purpose of this section." Hence, these rules cannot contravene the
To the argument that only the House of Representatives as a body very purpose of the Constitution which said rules were intended to
can initiate impeachment proceedings because Section 3 (1) says effectively carry out. Moreover, Section 3 of Article XI clearly
"The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to provides for other specific limitations on its power to make rules, viz:
initiate all cases of impeachment," this is a misreading of said
provision and is contrary to the principle of reddendo singula Section 3.(1). . .
singulis by equating "impeachment cases" with "impeachment
proceeding." (2)A verified complaint for impeachment may
be filed by any Member of the House of
From the records of the Constitutional Commission, to the amicus Representatives or by any citizen upon a
curiae briefs of two former Constitutional Commissioners, it is resolution of endorsement by any Member
without a doubt that the term "to initiate" refers to the filing of the thereof, which shall be included in the Order
impeachment complaint coupled with Congress' taking initial action of Business within ten session days, and
of said complaint. referred to the proper Committee within three
session days thereafter. The Committee, after
Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing hearing, and by a majority vote of all its
and referral or endorsement of the impeachment complaint to the Members, shall submit its report to the House
House Committee on Justice or, by the filing by at least one-third of within sixty session days from such referral,
the members of the House of Representatives with the Secretary together with the corresponding resolution.
General of the House, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI The resolution shall be calendared for
becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated, consideration by the House within ten session
another impeachment complaint may not be filed against the same days from receipt thereof.
official within a one year period.
(3)A vote of at least one-third of all the
Members of the House shall be necessary to
either affirm a favorable resolution with the
Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or
Under Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House Impeachment
override its contrary resolution. The vote of
Rules, impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated(1) if there is a
each Member shall be recorded.
finding by the House Committee on Justice that the verified
complaint and/or resolution is sufficient in substance, or (2) once
the House itself affirms or overturns the finding of the Committee (4)In case the verified complaint or resolution
on Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is not of impeachment is filed by at least one-third
sufficient in substance or (3) by the filing or endorsement before the of all the Members of the House, the same
Secretary-General of the House of Representatives of a verified shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment,
complaint or a resolution of impeachment by at least 1/3 of the and trial by the Senate shall forthwith
members of the House. These rules clearly contravene Section 3 (5) proceed.
of Article XI since the rules give the term "initiate" a meaning
different meaning from filing and referral. (5)No impeachment proceedings shall be
initiated against the same official more than
In his amicus curiaebrief, Justice Hugo Gutierrez posits that this once within a period of one year.
Court could not use contemporaneous construction as an aid in the
interpretation of Sec. 3 (5) of Article XI, citing Vera It is basic that all rules must not contravene the Constitution which is
v. Avelino 147 wherein this Court stated that "their personal the fundamental law. If as alleged Congress hadabsolute rule making
opinions (referring to Justices who were delegates to the power, then it would by necessary implication have the power to
Constitution Convention) on the matter at issue expressed during alter or amend the meaning of the Constitution without need of
this Court's our deliberations stand on a different footing from the referendum.
properly recorded utterances of debates and proceedings." Further
citing said case, he states that this Court likened the former In Osmeña v. Pendatun, 149 this Court held that it is within the
members of the Constitutional Convention to actors who are so province of either House of Congress to interpret its rules and that it
absorbed in their emotional roles that intelligent spectators may was the best judge of what constituted "disorderly behavior" of its
know more about the real meaning because of the latter's balanced members. However, in Paceta v. Secretary of the Commission on
perspectives and disinterestedness. 148 Appointments, 150 Justice (later Chief Justice) Enrique Fernando,
speaking for this Court and quoting Justice Brandeis in United States
Justice Gutierrez's statements have no application in the present v. Smith, 151 declared that where the construction to be given to a
petitions. There are at present only two members of this Court who rule affectspersons other than members of the Legislature, the
participated in the 1986 Constitutional Commission — Chief Justice question becomes judicial in nature. In Arroyo v. De
Davide and Justice Adolf Azcuna. Chief Justice Davide has not taken Venecia, 152quoting United States v. Ballin, Joseph & Co., 153 Justice
part in these proceedings for obvious reasons. Moreover, this Court Vicente Mendoza, speaking for this Court, held that while the
has not simply relied on the personal opinions now given by Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of
members of the Constitutional Commission, but has examined the proceedings, it may not by its rules ignore constitutional restraints or
records of the deliberations and proceedings thereof. violate fundamental rights, and further that there should be a
reasonable relation between the mode or method of proceeding
Respondent House of Representatives counters that under Section 3 established by the rule and the result which is sought to be attained.
(8) of Article XI, it is clear and unequivocal that it and only it has the It is only within these limitations that all matters of method are open
power to make and interpret its rules governing impeachment. Its to the determination of the Legislature. In the same case of Arroyo
argument is premised on the assumption that Congress v. De Venecia, Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his Concurring and
has absolute power to promulgate its rules. This assumption, Dissenting Opinion, was even more emphatic as he stressed that in
however, is misplaced. the Philippine setting there is even more reason for courts to inquire
into the validity of the Rules of Congress,viz:

83
With due respect, I do not agree that the better, more accurate, or even more
issues posed by the petitioner are non- just. It is no objection to the validity
justiciable. Nor do I agree that we will trivialize of a rule that a different one has
the principle of separation of power if we been prescribed and in force for a
assume jurisdiction over the case at bar. Even length of time. The power to make
in the United States, the principle of rules is not one which once
separation of power is no longer an exercised is exhausted. It is a
impregnable impediment against the continuous power, always subject to
interposition of judicial power on cases be exercised by the House, and
involving breach of rules of procedure by within the limitations suggested,
legislators. absolute and beyond the challenge
of any other body or tribunal."
Rightly, the ponencia uses the 1891 case of US
v. Ballin (144 US 1) as a window to view the Ballin, clearly confirmed the jurisdiction of
issues before the Court. It is in Ballin where courts to pass upon the validity of
the US Supreme Court first defined the congressional rules, i.e., whether they are
boundaries of the power of the judiciary to constitutional. Rule XV was examined by the
review congressional rules. It held: Court and it was found to satisfy the test: (1)
that it did not ignore any constitutional
"xxx xxx xxx restraint; (2) it did not violate any
fundamental right; and (3) its method had a
reasonable relationship with the result sought
"The Constitution, in the same
to be attained. By examining Rule XV, the
section, provides, that each house
Court did not allow its jurisdiction to be
may determine the rules of its
defeated by the mere invocation of the
proceedings." It appears that in
principle of separation of powers. 154
pursuance of this authority the
House had, prior to that day, passed
this as one of its rules: xxx xxx xxx

Rule XV In the Philippine setting, there is a more


compelling reason for courts to categorically
reject the political question defense when its
3.On the demand of any member, or
interposition will cover up abuse of power. For
at the suggestion of the Speaker, the
section 1, Article VIII of our Constitution was
names of members sufficient to
intentionally cobbled to empower courts ". .
make a quorum in the hall of the
. to determine whether or not there has been a
House who do not vote shall be
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
noted by the clerk and recorded in
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch
the journal, and reported to the
or instrumentality of the government." This
Speaker with the names of the
power is new and was not granted to our
members voting, and be counted
courts in the 1935 and 1972 Constitutions. It
and announced in determining the
was not also xeroxed from the US Constitution
presence of a quorum to do
or any foreign state constitution. The
business. (House Journal, 230, Feb.
CONCOM granted this enormous power to our
14, 1890)
courts in view of our experience under martial
law where abusive exercises of state power
The action taken was in direct were shielded from judicial scrutiny by the
compliance with this rule. The misuse of the political question doctrine. Led
question, therefore, is as to the by the eminent former Chief Justice Roberto
validity of this rule, and not what Concepcion, the CONCOM expanded and
methods the Speaker may of his sharpened the checking powers of the
own motion resort to for judiciary vis-à-vis the Executive and the
determining the presence of a Legislative departments of government. 155
quorum, nor what matters the
Speaker or clerk may of their own
volition place upon the journal.
Neither do the advantages or
disadvantages, the wisdom or folly, xxx xxx xxx
of such a rule present any matters
for judicial consideration. With the The Constitution cannot be any clearer. What
courts the question is only one of it granted to this Court is not a mere power
power. The Constitution empowers which it can decline to exercise. Precisely to
each house to determine its rules of deter this disinclination, the Constitution
proceedings. It may not by its rules imposed it as a duty of this Court to strike
ignore constitutional restraints or down any act of a branch or instrumentality of
violate fundamental rights, and government or any of its officials done with
there should be a reasonable grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
relation between the mode or excess of jurisdiction. Rightly or wrongly, the
method of proceedings established Constitution has elongated the checking
by the rule and the result which is powers of this Court against the other
sought to be attained. But within branches of government despite their more
these limitations all matters of democratic character, the President and the
method are open to the legislators being elected by the people. 156
determination of the House, and it is
no impeachment of the rule to say xxx xxx xxx
that some other way would be
84
The provision defining judicial power as since our Constitution, as earlier enumerated, furnishes several
including the 'duty of the courts of justice . . . provisions articulating how that "exclusive power" is to be exercised.
to determine whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or The provisions of Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch Impeachment Rules which state that impeachment proceedings are
or instrumentality of the Government' deemed initiated (1) if there is a finding by the House Committee on
constitutes the capstone of the efforts of the Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is sufficient in
Constitutional Commission to upgrade the substance, or (2) once the House itself affirms or overturns the
powers of this court vis-à-vis the other finding of the Committee on Justice that the verified complaint
branches of government. This provision was and/or resolution is not sufficient in substance or (3) by the filing or
dictated by our experience under martial law endorsement before the Secretary-General of the House of
which taught us that a stronger and more Representatives of a verified complaint or a resolution of
independent judiciary is needed to abort impeachment by at least 1/3 of the members of the House thus
abuses in government. . . . clearly contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI as they give the term
"initiate" a meaning different from "filing."
xxx xxx xxx
Validity of the Second Impeachment Complaint
In sum, I submit that in imposing to this Court
the duty to annul acts of government Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing of
committed with grave abuse of discretion, the the impeachment complaint and referral to the House Committee
new Constitution transformed this Court from on Justice, the initial action taken thereon, the meaning of Section 3
passivity to activism. This transformation, (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has
dictated by our distinct experience as nation, been initiated in the foregoing manner, another may not be filed
is not merely evolutionary but against the same official within a one year period following Article
revolutionary.Under the 1935 and the 1973 XI, Section 3 (5) of the Constitution.
Constitutions, this Court approached
constitutional violations by initially
In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint, was filed
determining what it cannot do; under the 1987
by former President Estrada against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide,
Constitution, there is a shift in stress — this
Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, on June 2, 2003
Court is mandated to approach constitutional
and referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003,
violations not by finding out what it should not
the second impeachment complaint filed by Representatives
do but what it must do. The Court must
Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the
discharge this solemn duty by not
Chief Justice on October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional
resuscitating a past that petrifies the present.
prohibition against the initiation of impeachment proceedings
against the same impeachable officer within a one-year period.
I urge my brethren in the Court to give due
and serious consideration to this new
Conclusion
constitutional provision as the case at bar
once more calls us to define the parameters of
our power to review violations of the rules of If there is anything constant about this country, it is that there is
the House. We will not be true to our trust as always a phenomenon that takes the center stage of our individual
the last bulwark against government abuses if and collective consciousness as a people with our characteristic flair
we refuse to exercise this new power or if we for human drama, conflict or tragedy. Of course this is not to
wield it with timidity. To be sure, it is this demean the seriousness of the controversy over the Davide
exceeding timidity to unsheathe the judicial impeachment. For many of us, the past two weeks have proven to
sword that has increasingly emboldened other be an exasperating, mentally and emotionally exhausting
branches of government to denigrate, if not experience. Both sides have fought bitterly a dialectical struggle to
defy, orders of our courts. In Tolentino, I articulate what they respectively believe to be the correct position
endorsed the view of former Senator Salonga or view on the issues involved. Passions had ran high as
that this novel provision stretching the demonstrators, whether for or against the impeachment of the Chief
latitude of judicial power is distinctly Filipino Justice, took to the streets armed with their familiar slogans and
and its interpretation should not be chants to air their voice on the matter. Various sectors of society —
depreciated by undue reliance on inapplicable from the business, retired military, to the academe and
foreign jurisprudence. In resolving the case at denominations of faith — offered suggestions for a return to a state
bar, the lessons of our own history should of normalcy in the official relations of the governmental branches
provide us the light and not the experience of affected to obviate any perceived resulting instability upon areas of
foreigners. 157 (Italics in the original; national life.
emphasis and italics supplied)
Through all these and as early as the time when the Articles of
Thus, the ruling in Osmeña v. Pendatun is not applicable to the Impeachment had been constituted, this Court was specifically
instant petitions. Here, the third parties alleging the violation of asked, told, urged and argued to take no action of any kind and form
private rights and the Constitution are involved. with respect to the prosecution by the House of Representatives of
the impeachment complaint against the subject respondent public
official. When the present petitions were knocking so to speak at the
Neither may respondent House of Representatives' rely on Nixon
doorsteps of this Court, the same clamor for non-interference was
v. US 158 as basis for arguing that this Court may not decide on the
made through what are now the arguments of "lack of jurisdiction,"
constitutionality of Sections 16 and 17 of the House Impeachment
"non-justiciability," and "judicial self-restraint" aimed at halting the
Rules. As already observed, the U.S. Federal Constitution simply
Court from any move that may have a bearing on the impeachment
provides that "the House of Representatives shall have the sole
proceedings.
power of impeachment." It adds nothing more. It gives no clue
whatsoever as to how this "sole power" is to be exercised. No
limitation whatsoever is given. Thus, the US Supreme Court This Court did not heed the call to adopt a hands-off stance as far as
concluded that there was a textually demonstrable constitutional the question of the constitutionality of initiating the impeachment
commitment of a constitutional power to the House of complaint against Chief Justice Davide is concerned. To reiterate
Representatives. This reasoning does not hold with regard to what has been already explained, the Court found the existence in
impeachment power of the Philippine House of Representatives full of all the requisite conditions for its exercise of its

85
constitutionally vested power and duty of judicial review over an bedrock of legal principles, it is equally important that it went
issue whose resolution precisely called for the construction or through this crucible of a democratic process, if only to discover that
interpretation of a provision of the fundamental law of the land. it can resolve differences without the use of force and aggression
What lies in here is an issue of a genuine constitutional material upon each other.
which only this Court can properly and competently address and
adjudicate in accordance with the clear-cut allocation of powers WHEREFORE, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of Procedure
under our system of government. Face-to-face thus with a matter or in Impeachment Proceedings which were approved by the House of
problem that squarely falls under the Court's jurisdiction, no other Representatives on November 28, 2001 are unconstitutional.
course of action can be had but for it to pass upon that problem Consequently, the second impeachment complaint against Chief
head on. Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. which was filed by Representatives
Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William B. Fuentebella with the
The claim, therefore, that this Court by judicially entangling itself Office of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives on
with the process of impeachment has effectively set up a regime of October 23, 2003 is barred under paragraph 5, section 3 of Article XI
judicial supremacy, is patently without basis in fact and in law. of the Constitution.

This Court in the present petitions subjected to judicial scrutiny and SO ORDERED.
resolved on the merits only the main issue of whether the
impeachment proceedings initiated against the Chief Justice Carpio, J ., concurs.
transgressed the constitutionally imposed one-year time bar rule.
Beyond this, it did not go about assuming jurisdiction where it had
Davide, Jr., C .J ., took no part.
none, nor indiscriminately turn justiciable issues out of decidedly
political questions. Because it is not at all the business of this Court
to assert judicial dominance over the other two great branches of Quisumbing, J ., concurring separate opinion received.
the government. Rather, the raison d'etre of the judiciary is to
complement the discharge by the executive and legislative of their Austria-Martinez, J ., I concur in the majority opinion and in the
own powers to bring about ultimately the beneficent effects of separate opinion of J. Vitug.
having founded and ordered our society upon the rule of law.
Corona, J ., I will write a separate concurring opinion.
It is suggested that by our taking cognizance of the issue of
constitutionality of the impeachment proceedings against the Chief
Justice, the members of this Court have actually closed ranks to FACTS:
protect one of their brethren. That the members' interests in ruling On July 22, 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a
on said issue is as much at stake as is that of the Chief Justice. Resolution, sponsored by Representative Felix William D.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Fuentebella, which directed the Committee on Justice "to conduct
an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner of
disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the Supreme
The institution that is the Supreme Court together with all other Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF)." On June 2, 2003,
courts has long held and been entrusted with the judicial power to
former President Joseph E. Estrada filed an impeachment complaint
resolve conflicting legal rights regardless of the personalities
involved in the suits or actions. This Court has dispensed justice over against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven Associate
the course of time, unaffected by whomsoever stood to benefit or Justices of this Court for "culpable violation of the Constitution,
suffer therefrom, unafraid by whatever imputations or speculations
betrayal of the public trust and other high crimes." The complaint
could be made to it, so long as it rendered judgment according to
the law and the facts. Why can it not now be trusted to wield judicial was endorsed by Representatives Rolex T. Suplico, Ronaldo B.
power in these petitions just because it is the highest ranking Zamora and Didagen Piang Dilangalen, and was referred to the
magistrate who is involved when it is an incontrovertible fact that
House Committee. The House Committee on Justice ruled on
the fundamental issue is not him but the validity of a government
branch's official act as tested by the limits set by the Constitution? October 13, 2003 that the first impeachment complaint was
Of course, there are rules on the inhibition of any member of the "sufficient in form," but voted to dismiss the same on October 22,
judiciary from taking part in a case in specified instances. But to
2003 for being insufficient in substance. To date, the Committee
disqualify this entire institution now from the suits at bar is to regard
the Supreme Court as likely incapable of impartiality when one of its Report to this effect has not yet been sent to the House in plenary in
members is a party to a case, which is simply a non sequitur. accordance with the said Section 3(2) of Article XI of the
Constitution. Four months and three weeks since the filing on June
No one is above the law or the Constitution. This is a basic precept in
any legal system which recognizes equality of all men before the law 2, 2003 of the first complaint or on October 23, 2003, a day after the
as essential to the law's moral authority and that of its agents to House Committee on Justice voted to dismiss it, the second
secure respect for and obedience to its commands. Perhaps, there is impeachment complaint was filed with the Secretary General of the
no other government branch or instrumentality that is most zealous
in protecting that principle of legal equality other than the Supreme House by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William
Court which has discerned its real meaning and ramifications B. Fuentebella against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., founded on
through its application to numerous cases especially of the high- the alleged results of the legislative inquiry initiated by above-
profile kind in the annals of jurisprudence. The Chief Justice is not
above the law and neither is any other member of this Court. But mentioned House Resolution. This second impeachment complaint
just because he is the Chief Justice does not imply that he gets to was accompanied by a "Resolution of Endorsement/Impeachment"
have less in law than anybody else. The law is solicitous of every signed by at least one-third (1/3) of all the Members of the House of
individual's rights irrespective of his station in life.
Representatives.
The Filipino nation and its democratic institutions have no doubt
been put to test once again by this impeachment case against Chief ISSUES:
Justice Hilario Davide. Accordingly, this Court has resorted to no
1. Whether or not the filing of the second impeachment complaint
other than the Constitution in search for a solution to what many
feared would ripen to a crisis in government. But though it is indeed against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. with the House of
immensely a blessing for this Court to have found answers in our
86
Representatives falls within the one year bar provided in the of anarchy may fulminate and tear apart the very foundations of our
political existence. It will be an unfortunate throwback to the dark
Constitution. days of savagery and brutishness where the hungry mob screaming
for blood and a pound of flesh must be fed to be pacified and
2. Whether the resolution thereof is a political question – has satiated.

resulted in a political crisis.


On 2 June 2003 former President Joseph Estrada through counsel
filed a verified impeachment complaint before the House of
HELD: Representatives charging Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. and
seven (7) Associate Justices of this Court with culpable violation of
1. Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing
the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes. The
of the impeachment complaint and referral to the House Committee complaint was endorsed by Reps. Rolex T. Suplico of Iloilo, Ronaldo
on Justice, the initial action taken thereon, the meaning of Section 3 B. Zamora of San Juan and Didagen P. Dilangalen of Maguindanao
and Cotabato City.
(5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has
been initiated in the foregoing manner, another may not be filed
On 13 October 2003, the House Committee on Justice included the
against the same official within a one year period following Article impeachment complaint in its Order of Business and ruled that the
XI, Section 3(5) of the Constitution. In fine, considering that the first complaint was "sufficient in form." Subsequently however, on 22
October 2003, the House Committee on Justice recommended the
impeachment complaint, was filed by former President Estrada
dismissal of the complaint for being "insufficient in substance."
against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate
justices of this Court, on June 2, 2003 and referred to the House On 23 October 2003, four (4) months after the filing of the first
Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the second impeachment impeachment complaint, a second verified impeachment complaint
was filed by Reps. Gilberto C. Teodoro of Tarlac and William Felix D.
complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix Fuentebella of Camarines Sur, this time against Chief Justice Hilario
William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice on October 23, 2003 G. Davide, Jr. alone. The complaint accused the Chief Justice mainly
violates the constitutional prohibition against the initiation of of misusing the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF). Thereafter, more
than eighty (80) members of the Lower House, constituting more
impeachment proceedings against the same impeachable officer than 1/3 of its total membership, signed the resolution endorsing
within a one-year period. the second impeachment complaint.

2.From the foregoing record of the proceedings of the 1986 Several petitions for certiorari and prohibition questioning the
constitutionality of the second impeachment complaint were filed
Constitutional Commission, it is clear that judicial power is not only a before this Court. Oral arguments were set for hearing on 5
power; it is also a duty, a duty which cannot be abdicated by the November 2003 which had to be extended to 6 November 2003 to
mere specter of this creature called the political question doctrine. accommodate the parties and their respective counsel. During the
hearings, eight (8) amici curiaeappeared to expound their views on
Chief Justice Concepcion hastened to clarify, however, that Section the contentious issues relevant to the impeachment.
1, Article VIII was not intended to do away with "truly political
questions." From this clarification it is gathered that there are two This Court must hearken to the dictates of judicial restraint and
reasoned hesitance. I find no urgency for judicial intervention at this
species of political questions: (1) "truly political questions" and (2)
time. I am conscious of the transcendental implications and
those which "are not truly political questions." Truly political importance of the issues that confront us, not in the instant cases
questions are thus beyond judicial review, the reason for respect of alone but on future ones as well; but to me, this is not the proper
hour nor the appropriate circumstance to perform our duty. True,
the doctrine of separation of powers to be maintained. On the other
this Court is vested with the power to annul the acts of the
hand, by virtue of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, courts legislature when tainted with grave abuse of discretion. Even so, this
can review questions which are not truly political in nature. power is not lightly assumed or readily exercised. The doctrine of
separation of powers imposes upon the courts proper restraint born
of the nature of their functions and of their respect for the other
Separate Opinions departments, in striking down the acts of the legislature as
unconstitutional. Verily, the policy is a harmonious blend of courtesy
and caution. 1
BELLOSILLO, J .:
All avenues of redress in the instant cases must perforce be
. . . In times of social disquietude or political conscientiously explored and exhausted, not within the hallowed
excitement, the great landmarks of the domain of this Court, but within the august confines of the
Constitution are apt to be forgotten or Legislature, particularly the Senate. As Alexander Hamilton, delegate
marred, if not entirely obliterated. to the 1787 American Constitutional Convention, once wrote: "The
Senate is the most fit depositary of this important trust." 2 We must
— Justice Jose P. Laurel choose not to rule upon the merits of these petitions at this time
simply because, I believe, this is the prudent course of action to take
under the circumstances; and, it should certainly not to be equated
A pall of gloom hovers ominously in the horizon. Looming in its midst
with a total abdication of our bounden duty to uphold the
is the specter of conflict the thunderous echoes of which we listened
Constitution.
to intently for the past few days; two great departments of
government locked in a virtual impasse, sending them closer to the
precipice of constitutional confrontation. Emerging from the For considerations of law and judicial comity, we should refrain from
shadows of unrest is the national inquest on the conduct of no less adjudicating the issues one way or the other, except to express our
than the Chief Justice of this Court. Impeachment, described by views as we see proper and appropriate.
Alexis Tocqueville as "the most formidable weapon that has ever
been placed in the grasp of the majority," has taken center stage in First. The matter of impeachment is a political question that must
the national consciousness in view of its far-reaching implications on rightfully be addressed to a political branch of government, which is
the life of our nation. Unless the issues involved in the controversial the Congress of the Philippines. As enunciated in Integrated Bar of
cases are dealt with exceptional sensitivity and sobriety, the tempest the Philippines v. Zamora, 3 we do not automatically assume

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jurisdiction over actual constitutional cases brought before us even Constitution, specifically under Art. VIII, Sec. 1, introduced the
in instances that are ripe for resolution — expanded concept of the power of judicial review that now explicitly
allows the determination of whether there has been a grave abuse
One class of cases wherein the Court hesitates of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part
to rule on are "political questions." The reason of any branch or instrumentality of the government. This is evidently
is that political questions are concerned with in response to the unedifying experience of the past in frequently
issues dependent upon the wisdom, not the resorting to the "political question" doctrine that in no mean
legality, of a particular act or measure being measure has emasculated the Court's authority to strike down
assailed. Moreover, the political question abuses of power by the government or any of its instrumentalities.
being the function of the separation of
powers, the courts will not normally interfere While the impeachment mechanism is by constitutional design a sui
with the workings of another co-equal branch generis political process, it is not impervious to judicial interference
unless the case shows a clear need for the in case of arbitrary or capricious exercise of the power to impeach
courts to step in to uphold the law and the by Congress. It becomes the duty of the Court to step in, not for the
Constitution. purpose of questioning the wisdom or motive behind the legislative
exercise of impeachment powers, but merely to check against
Clearly, the constitutional power of impeachment rightfully belongs infringement of constitutional standards. In such circumstance,
to Congress in a two-fold character: (a) The power to initiate legislative actions "might be so far beyond the scope of its
impeachment cases against impeachable officers is lodged in the constitutional authority, and the consequent impact on the Republic
House of Representatives; and, (b) The power to try and decide so great, as to merit a judicial response despite prudential concerns
impeachment cases belongs solely to the Senate. that would ordinarily counsel silence." 8 I must, of course, hasten to
add by way of a finale the nature of the power of judicial review as
elucidated in Angara v.Electoral Commission 9 —
In Baker v. Carr 4 repeatedly mentioned during the oral arguments,
the United States Supreme Court held that political questions chiefly
relate to separation of powers issues, the Judiciary being a co-equal The Constitution is a definition of the powers
branch of government together with the Legislature and the of government. Who is to determine the
Executive branch, thus calling for judicial deference. A controversy is nature, scope and extent of such powers? The
non-justiciable where there is a "textually demonstrable Constitution itself has provided for the
constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational
department, or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable way.And when the judiciary mediates to
standards for resolving it." 5 allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not
assert any superiority over the other
departments; it does not in reality nullify or
invalidate an act of the legislature, but only
asserts the solemn and sacred obligation
But perhaps it is Nixon v. United States 6 which provides the assigned to it by the Constitution to determine
authority on the "political question" doctrine as applied in conflicting claims of authority under the
impeachment cases. In that case the U.S. Supreme Court applied Constitution and to establish for the parties in
the Baker ruling to reinforce the "political question" doctrine in an actual controversy the rights which that
impeachment cases. Unless it can therefore be shown that the instrument secures and guarantees to them.
exercise of such discretion was gravely abused, the Congressional This is in truth all that is involved in what is
exercise of judgment must be recognized by this Court. The burden termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is
to show that the House or the Senate gravely abused its discretion in the power of judicial review under the
impeaching a public officer belongs exclusively to the impeachable Constitution (emphasis supplied).
officer concerned.
By way of obiter dictum, I find the second impeachment complaint
Second. At all times, the three (3) departments of government must filed against the Chief Justice on 23 October 2003 to be
accord mutual respect to each other under the principle of constitutionally infirm. Precisely, Art. 11, Sec. 3, par. (5), of the 1987
separation of powers. As a co-equal, coordinate and co-extensive Constitution explicitly ordains that "no impeachment proceedings
branch, the Judiciary must defer to the wisdom of the Congress in shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a
the exercise of the latter's power under the Impeachment Clause of period of one year." The fundamental contention that the first
the Constitution as a measure of judicial comity on issues properly impeachment complaint is not an "initiated" complaint, hence
within the sphere of the Legislature. should not be counted, since the House Committee on Justice found
it to be insufficient in substance, is specious, to say the least. It
Third. It is incumbent upon the Court to exercise judicial restraint in seems plain to me that the term initiation must be understood in its
rendering a ruling in this particular case to preserve the principle of ordinary legal acceptation, which
separation of powers and restore faith and stability in our system of means inceptionor commencement; hence, an impeachment is
government. Dred Scott v. Sandford7 is a grim illustration of how initiated upon the filing of a verified complaint, similar to an
catastrophic improvident judicial incursions into the legislative ordinary action which is initiated by the filing of the complaint in the
domain could be. It is one of the most denounced cases in the proper tribunal. This conclusion finds support in the deliberations of
history of U.S. Supreme Court decision-making. Penned by Chief the Constitutional Commission, which was quoted extensively in the
Justice Taney, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of 7-2, denied that hearings of 5 and 6 November 2003 —
a Negro was a citizen of the United States even though he happened
to live in a "free" state. The U.S. High Court likewise declared THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Trenas).
unconstitutional the law forbidding slavery in certain federal Commissioner Maambong is recognized.
territories. Dred Scott undermined the integrity of the U.S. High
Court at a moment in history when it should have been a powerful
MR. MAAMBONG. Mr. Presiding Officer, I am
stabilizing force. More significantly, it inflamed the passions of the
not moving for a reconsideration of the
Northern and Southern states over the slavery issue thus
approval of the amendment submitted by
precipitating the American Civil War. This we do not wish to happen
Commissioner Regalado, but I will just make of
in the Philippines!
record my thinking that we do not really
initiate the filing of the Articles of
It must be clarified, lest I be misconstrued, this is not to say that this Impeachment on the floor. The procedure, as I
Court is absolutely precluded from inquiring into the have pointed out earlier, was that the
constitutionality of the impeachment process. The present initiation starts with the filing of the
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complaint. And what is actually done on the Senate unless such exercise is fraught with grave abuse of discretion.
floor is that the committee resolution Hence, I find no legal obstacle to dismissing the instant petitions.
containing the Articles of Impeachment is the
one approved by the body.

As the phraseology now runs, which may be PUNO, J ., concurring and dissenting:
corrected by the Committee on Style, it
appears that the initiation starts on the floor.
Over a century ago, Lord Bryce described the power of impeachment
If we only have time, I could cite examples in
as the "heaviest piece of artillery in the congressional arsenal."
the case of the impeachment proceedings of
Alexander Hamilton warned that any impeachment proceeding "will
President Richard Nixon wherein the
seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community." His
Committee on the Judiciary submitted the
word is prophetic for today we are in the edge of a crisis because of
recommendation, the resolution and the
the alleged unconstitutional exercise of the power of impeachment
Articles of Impeachment to the body, and it
by the House of Representatives.
was the body that approved the resolution. It
is not the body which initiates it. It only
approves or disapproves the resolution. So, on Before the Court are separate petitions for certiorari, prohibition
that score, probably the Committee on Style and mandamus filed by different groups seeking to prevent the
could help in rearranging these words because House of Representatives from transmitting to the Senate the
we have to be very technical about this. I have Articles of Impeachment against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.,
been bringing with me The Rules of the House alleging improper use of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), and
of Representatives of the U.S. Congress. The to enjoin the Senate from trying and deciding the case.
Senate Rules are with me. The proceedings of
the case of Richard Nixon are with me