Pol law
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

Like this? Share it with your network

Share

Pol law

on

  • 256 views

 

Statistics

Views

Total Views
256
Views on SlideShare
256
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
2
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Categories

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Microsoft Word

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

Pol law Document Transcript

  • 1. CASE 1 PROF. MERLIN M. MAGALLONA, ET AL G.R No. 187167 Petitioners, - versus - HON. EDUARDO ERMITA, IN HISCAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, ET Respondents. July 16, 2011 x -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x D E C I S I O N CARPIO, J.: The Case This original action for the writs of certiorari and prohibition assails the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 95221 (RA 9522) adjusting the country’s archipelagic baselines and classifying the baseline regime of nearby territories. The Antecedents In 1961, Congress passed Republic Act No. 3046 (RA 3046)2 demarcating the maritime baselines of the Philippines as an archipelagic State.3 This law followed the framing of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone in 1958 (UNCLOS I),4 codifying, among others, the sovereign right of States parties over their “territorial sea,” the breadth of which, however, was left undetermined. Attempts to fill this void during the second round of negotiations in Geneva in 1960 (UNCLOS II) proved futile. Thus, domestically, RA 3046 remained unchanged for nearly five decades, save for legislation passed in 1968 (Republic Act No. 5446 [RA 5446]) correcting typographical errors and reserving the drawing of baselines around Sabah in North Borneo. In March 2009, Congress amended RA 3046 by enacting RA 9522, the statute now under scrutiny. The change was prompted by the need to make RA 3046 compliant with the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III),5 which the Philippines ratified on 27 February 1984.6 Among others, UNCLOS III prescribes the water-land ratio, length, and contour of baselines of archipelagic States like the Philippines7 and sets the deadline for the filing of application for the extended
  • 2. continental shelf.8 Complying with these requirements, RA 9522 shortened one baseline, optimized the location of some basepoints around the Philippine archipelago and classified adjacent territories, namely, the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and the Scarborough Shoal, as “regimes of islands” whose islands generate their own applicable maritime zones. Petitioners, professors of law, law students and a legislator, in their respective capacities as “citizens, taxpayers or x x x legislators,”9 as the case may be, assail the constitutionality of RA 9522 on two principal grounds, namely: (1) RA 9522 reduces Philippine maritime territory, and logically, the reach of the Philippine state’s sovereign power, in violation of Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution,10 embodying the terms of the Treaty of Paris11 and ancillary treaties,12 and (2) RA 9522 opens the country’s waters landward of the baselines to maritime passage by all vessels and aircrafts, undermining Philippine sovereignty and national security, contravening the country’s nuclear-free policy, and damaging marine resources, in violation of relevant constitutional provisions.13 In addition, petitioners contend that RA 9522’s treatment of the KIG as “regime of islands” not only results in the loss of a large maritime area but also prejudices the livelihood of subsistence fishermen.14 To buttress their argument of territorial diminution, petitioners facially attack RA 9522 for what it excluded and included – its failure to reference either the Treaty of Paris or Sabah and its use of UNCLOS III’s framework of regime of islands to determine the maritime zones of the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal. Commenting on the petition, respondent officials raised threshold issues questioning (1) the petition’s compliance with the case or controversy requirement for judicial review grounded on petitioners’ alleged lack of locus standi and (2) the propriety of the writs of certiorari and prohibition to assail the constitutionality of RA 9522. On the merits, respondents defended RA 9522 as the country’s compliance with the terms of UNCLOS III, preserving Philippine territory over the KIG or Scarborough Shoal. Respondents add that RA 9522 does not undermine the country’s security, environment and economic interests or relinquish the Philippines’ claim over Sabah. Respondents also question the normative force, under international law, of petitioners’ assertion that what Spain ceded to the United States under the Treaty of Paris were the islands and all the waters found within the boundaries of the rectangular area drawn under the Treaty of Paris. We left unacted petitioners’ prayer for an injunctive writ. The Issues
  • 3. The petition raises the following issues: 1. Preliminarily – 1. Whether petitioners possess locus standi to bring this suit; and 2. Whether the writs of certiorari and prohibition are the proper remedies to assail the constitutionality of RA 9522. 2. On the merits, whether RA 9522 is unconstitutional. The Ruling of the Court On the threshold issues, we hold that (1) petitioners possess locus standi to bring this suit as citizens and (2) the writs of certiorari and prohibition are proper remedies to test the constitutionality of RA 9522. On the merits, we find no basis to declare RA 9522 unconstitutional. On the Threshold Issues Petitioners Possess LocusStandi as Citizens Petitioners themselves undermine their assertion of locus standi as legislators and taxpayers because the petition alleges neither infringement of legislative prerogative15 nor misuse of public funds,16 occasioned by the passage and implementation of RA 9522. Nonetheless, we recognize petitioners’ locus standias citizens with constitutionally sufficient interest in the resolution of the merits of the case which undoubtedly raises issues of national significance necessitating urgent resolution. Indeed, owing to the peculiar nature of RA 9522, it is understandably difficult to find other litigants possessing “a more direct and specific interest” to bring the suit, thus satisfying one of the requirements for granting citizenship standing.17 The Writs of Certiorari and ProhibitionAre Proper Remedies to Testthe Constitutionality of Statutes In praying for the dismissal of the petition on preliminary grounds, respondents seek a strict observance of the offices of the writs of certiorari and prohibition, noting that the writs cannot issue absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial powers on the part of respondents and resulting prejudice on the part of petitioners.18 Respondents’ submission holds true in ordinary civil proceedings. When this Court exercises its constitutional power of judicial review, however, we have, by tradition, viewed the writs of certiorari and
  • 4. prohibition as proper remedial vehicles to test the constitutionality of statutes,19 and indeed, of acts of other branches of government.20 Issues of constitutional import are sometimes crafted out of statutes which, while having no bearing on the personal interests of the petitioners, carry such relevance in the life of this nation that the Court inevitably finds itself constrained to take cognizance of the case and pass upon the issues raised, non-compliance with the letter of procedural rules notwithstanding. The statute sought to be reviewed here is one such law. RA 9522 is Not Unconstitutional RA 9522 is a Statutory Toolto Demarcate the Country’sMaritime Zones and Continental Shelf Under UNCLOS III, not toDelineate Philippine Territory Petitioners submit that RA 9522 “dismembers a large portion of the national territory”21 because it discards the pre-UNCLOS III demarcation of Philippine territory under the Treaty of Paris and related treaties, successively encoded in the definition of national territory under the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Petitioners theorize that this constitutional definition trumps any treaty or statutory provision denying the Philippines sovereign control over waters, beyond the territorial sea recognized at the time of the Treaty of Paris, that Spain supposedly ceded to the United States. Petitioners argue that from the Treaty of Paris’ technical description, Philippine sovereignty over territorial waters extends hundreds of nautical miles around the Philippine archipelago, embracing the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris.22 Petitioners’ theory fails to persuade us. UNCLOS III has nothing to do with the acquisition (or loss) of territory. It is a multilateral treaty regulating, among others, sea-use rights over maritime zones (i.e., the territorial waters [12 nautical miles from the baselines], contiguous zone [24 nautical miles from the baselines], exclusive economic zone [200 nautical miles from the baselines]), and continental shelves that UNCLOS III delimits.23 UNCLOS III was the culmination of decades-long negotiations among United Nations members to codify norms regulating the conduct of States in the world’s oceans and submarine areas, recognizing coastal and archipelagic States’ graduated authority over a limited span of waters and submarine lands along their coasts. On the other hand, baselines laws such as RA 9522 are enacted by UNCLOS III States parties to mark-out specific basepoints along their coasts from which baselines are drawn, either straight or contoured, to serve as geographic starting points to measure the breadth of the maritime zones and continental shelf. Article 48 of UNCLOS III on archipelagic States like ours could not be any clearer:
  • 5. Article 48. Measurement of the breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. – The breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf shall be measured from archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47. (Emphasis supplied) Thus, baselines laws are nothing but statutory mechanisms for UNCLOS III States parties to delimit with precision the extent of their maritime zones and continental shelves. In turn, this gives notice to the rest of the international community of the scope of the maritime space and submarine areas within which States parties exercise treaty-based rights, namely, the exercise of sovereignty over territorial waters (Article 2), the jurisdiction to enforce customs, fiscal, immigration, and sanitation laws in the contiguous zone (Article 33), and the right to exploit the living and non-living resources in the exclusive economic zone (Article 56) and continental shelf (Article 77). Even under petitioners’ theory that the Philippine territory embraces the islands and all the waters within the rectangular area delimited in the Treaty of Paris, the baselines of the Philippines would still have to be drawn in accordance with RA 9522 because this is the only way to draw the baselines in conformity with UNCLOS III. The baselines cannot be drawn from the boundaries or other portions of the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris, but from the “outermost islands and drying reefs of the archipelago.”24 UNCLOS III and its ancillary baselines laws play no role in the acquisition, enlargement or, as petitioners claim, diminution of territory. Under traditional international law typology, States acquire (or conversely, lose) territory through occupation, accretion, cession and prescription,25 not by executing multilateral treaties on the regulations of sea-use rights or enacting statutes to comply with the treaty’s terms to delimit maritime zones and continental shelves. Territorial claims to land features are outside UNCLOS III, and are instead governed by the rules on general international law.26 RA 9522’s Use of the Frameworkof Regime of Islands to Determine theMaritime Zones of the KIG and theScarborough Shoal, not Inconsistentwith the Philippines’ Claim of Sovereignty Over these Areas Petitioners next submit that RA 9522’s use of UNCLOS III’s regime of islands framework to draw the baselines, and to measure the breadth of the applicable maritime zones of the KIG, “weakens our territorial claim” over that area.27 Petitioners add that the KIG’s (and Scarborough Shoal’s) exclusion from the Philippine archipelagic baselines results in the loss of “about 15,000 square nautical miles of territorial waters,” prejudicing the livelihood of subsistence fishermen.28 A comparison of the configuration of the baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 and the extent of maritime space encompassed by each
  • 6. law, coupled with a reading of the text of RA 9522 and its congressional deliberations, vis-à-vis the Philippines’ obligations under UNCLOS III, belie this view. The configuration of the baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 shows that RA 9522 merely followed the basepoints mapped by RA 3046, save for at least nine basepoints that RA 9522 skipped to optimize the location of basepoints and adjust the length of one baseline (and thus comply with UNCLOS III’s limitation on the maximum length of baselines). Under RA 3046, as under RA 9522, the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal lie outside of the baselines drawn around the Philippine archipelago. This undeniable cartographic fact takes the wind out of petitioners’ argument branding RA 9522 as a statutory renunciation of the Philippines’ claim over the KIG, assuming that baselines are relevant for this purpose. Petitioners’ assertion of loss of “about 15,000 square nautical miles of territorial waters” under RA 9522 is similarly unfounded both in fact and law. On the contrary, RA 9522, by optimizing the location of basepoints, increased the Philippines’ total maritime space (covering its internal waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone) by 145,216 square nautical miles, as shown in the table below:29 Extent of maritime area using RA 3046, as amended, taking into account the Treaty of Paris’ delimitation (in square nautical miles) Extent of maritime area using RA 9522, taking into account UNCLOS III (in square nautical miles) Internal or archipelagic waters 166,858 171,435 Territorial Sea 274,136 32,106 Exclusive Economic Zone 382,669 TOTAL 440,994 586,210 Thus, as the map below shows, the reach of the exclusive economic zone drawn under RA 9522 even extends way beyond the waters covered by the rectangular demarcation under the Treaty of Paris. Of course, where there are overlapping exclusive economic zones of opposite or adjacent States, there will have to be a delineation of maritime boundaries in accordance with UNCLOS III.30 Further, petitioners’ argument that the KIG now lies outside Philippine territory because the baselines that RA 9522 draws do not enclose the KIG is negated by RA 9522 itself. Section 2 of the law commits to text the Philippines’ continued claim of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal:
  • 7. SEC. 2. The baselines in the following areas over which the Philippines likewise exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction shall be determined as “Regime of Islands” under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS): a) The Kalayaan Island Group as constituted under Presidential Decree No. 1596 and b) Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal. (Emphasis supplied) Had Congress in RA 9522 enclosed the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippine archipelago, adverse legal effects would have ensued. The Philippines would have committed a breach of two provisions of UNCLOS III. First, Article 47 (3) of UNCLOS III requires that “[t]he drawing of such baselines shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.” Second, Article 47 (2) of UNCLOS III requires that “the length of the baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles,” save for three per cent (3%) of the total number of baselines which can reach up to 125 nautical miles.31 Although the Philippines has consistently claimed sovereignty over the KIG32 and the Scarborough Shoal for several decades, these outlying areas are located at an appreciable distance from the nearest shoreline of the Philippine archipelago,33 such that any straight baseline loped around them from the nearest basepoint will inevitably “depart to an appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.” The principal sponsor of RA 9522 in the Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, took pains to emphasize the foregoing during the Senate deliberations: What we call the Kalayaan Island Group or what the rest of the world call[] the Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal are outside our archipelagic baseline becauseif we put them inside our baselines we might be accused of violating the provision of international law which states: “The drawing of such baseline shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the archipelago.” So sa loob ng ating baseline, dapat magkalapit ang mga islands. Dahil malayo ang Scarborough Shoal, hindi natin masasabing malapit sila sa atin although we are still allowed by international law to claim them as our own. This is called contested islands outside our configuration. We see that our archipelago is defined by the orange line which [we] call[] archipelagic baseline. Ngayon, tingnan ninyo ang maliit na circle doon sa itaas, that is Scarborough Shoal, itong malaking circle sa ibaba, that is Kalayaan
  • 8. Group or the Spratlys. Malayo na sila sa ating archipelago kaya kung ilihis pa natin ang dating archipelagic baselines para lamang masama itong dalawang circles, hindi na sila magkalapit at baka hindi na tatanggapin ng United Nations because of the rule that it should follow the natural configuration of the archipelago.34 (Emphasis supplied) Similarly, the length of one baseline that RA 3046 drew exceeded UNCLOS III’s limits. The need to shorten this baseline, and in addition, to optimize the location of basepoints using current maps, became imperative as discussed by respondents: [T]he amendment of the baselines law was necessary to enable the Philippines to draw the outer limits of its maritime zones including the extended continental shelf in the manner provided by Article 47 of [UNCLOS III]. As defined by R.A. 3046, as amended by R.A. 5446, the baselines suffer from some technical deficiencies, to wit: 1. The length of the baseline across Moro Gulf (from Middle of 3 Rock Awash to Tongquil Point) is 140.06 nautical miles x x x. This exceeds the maximum length allowed under Article 47(2) of the [UNCLOS III], which states that “The length of such baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles, except that up to 3 per cent of the total number of baselines enclosing any archipelago may exceed that length, up to a maximum length of 125 nautical miles.” 2. The selection of basepoints is not optimal. At least 9 basepoints can be skipped or deleted from the baselines system. This will enclose an additional 2,195 nautical miles of water. 3. Finally, the basepoints were drawn from maps existing in 1968, and not established by geodetic survey methods. Accordingly, some of the points, particularly along the west coasts of Luzon down to Palawan were later found to be located either inland or on water, not on low-water line and drying reefs as prescribed by Article 47.35 Hence, far from surrendering the Philippines’ claim over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal, Congress’ decision to classify the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as “‘Regime[s] of Islands’ under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 121”36 of UNCLOS III manifests the Philippine State’s responsible observance of its pacta sunt servanda obligation under UNCLOS III. Under Article 121 of UNCLOS III, any “naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide,” such as portions of the KIG, qualifies under the category of “regime of islands,” whose islands generate their own applicable maritime zones.37 Statutory Claim Over Sabah under
  • 9. RA 5446 Retained Petitioners’ argument for the invalidity of RA 9522 for its failure to textualize the Philippines’ claim over Sabah in North Borneo is also untenable. Section 2 of RA 5446, which RA 9522 did not repeal, keeps open the door for drawing the baselines of Sabah: Section 2. The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine Archipelago as provided in this Act is without prejudice to the delineation of the baselines of the territorial sea around the territory of Sabah, situated in North Borneo, over which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty. (Emphasis supplied) UNCLOS III and RA 9522 notIncompatible with the Constitution’sDelineation of Internal Waters As their final argument against the validity of RA 9522, petitioners contend that the law unconstitutionally “converts” internal waters into archipelagic waters, hence subjecting these waters to the right of innocent and sea lanes passage under UNCLOS III, including overflight. Petitioners extrapolate that these passage rights indubitably expose Philippine internal waters to nuclear and maritime pollution hazards, in violation of the Constitution.38 Whether referred to as Philippine “internal waters” under Article I of the Constitution39 or as “archipelagic waters” under UNCLOS III (Article 49 [1]), the Philippines exercises sovereignty over the body of water lying landward of the baselines, including the air space over it and the submarine areas underneath. UNCLOS III affirms this: Article 49. Legal status of archipelagic waters, of the air space over archipelagic waters and of their bed and subsoil. – 1. The sovereignty of an archipelagic State extends to the waters enclosed by the archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47, described as archipelagic waters, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast. 2. This sovereignty extends to the air space over the archipelagic waters, as well as to their bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein. x x x x 4. The regime of archipelagic sea lanes passage established in this Part shall not in other respects affect the status of the archipelagic waters, including the sea lanes, or the exercise by
  • 10. the archipelagic State of its sovereignty over such waters and their air space, bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein. (Emphasis supplied) The fact of sovereignty, however, does not preclude the operation of municipal and international law norms subjecting the territorial sea or archipelagic waters to necessary, if not marginal, burdens in the interest of maintaining unimpeded, expeditious international navigation, consistent with the international law principle of freedom of navigation. Thus, domestically, the political branches of the Philippine government, in the competent discharge of their constitutional powers, may pass legislation designating routes within the archipelagic waters to regulate innocent and sea lanes passage.40 Indeed, bills drawing nautical highways for sea lanes passage are now pending in Congress.41 In the absence of municipal legislation, international law norms, now codified in UNCLOS III, operate to grant innocent passage rights over the territorial sea or archipelagic waters, subject to the treaty’s limitations and conditions for their exercise.42 Significantly, the right of innocent passage is a customary international law,43 thus automatically incorporated in the corpus of Philippine law.44 No modern State can validly invoke its sovereignty to absolutely forbid innocent passage that is exercised in accordance with customary international law without risking retaliatory measures from the international community. The fact that for archipelagic States, their archipelagic waters are subject to both the right of innocent passage and sea lanes passage45 does not place them in lesser footing vis-à-vis continental coastal States which are subject, in their territorial sea, to the right of innocent passage and the right of transit passage through international straits. The imposition of these passage rights through archipelagic waters under UNCLOS III was a concession by archipelagic States, in exchange for their right to claim all the waters landward of their baselines, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast, as archipelagic waters subject to their territorial sovereignty. More importantly, the recognition of archipelagic States’ archipelago and the waters enclosed by their baselines as one cohesive entity prevents the treatment of their islands as separate islands under UNCLOS III.46 Separate islands generate their own maritime zones, placing the waters between islands separated by more than 24 nautical miles beyond the States’ territorial sovereignty, subjecting these waters to the rights of other States under UNCLOS III.47 Petitioners’ invocation of non-executory constitutional provisions in Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies)48 must also fail. Our present state of jurisprudence considers the provisions in Article II as mere legislative guides, which, absent enabling legislation, “do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights x x x.”49 Article II provisions serve as guides in formulating and interpreting implementing legislation, as well as in interpreting executory provisions of the Constitution.
  • 11. Although Oposa v. Factoran50 treated the right to a healthful and balanced ecology under Section 16 of Article II as an exception, the present petition lacks factual basis to substantiate the claimed constitutional violation. The other provisions petitioners cite, relating to the protection of marine wealth (Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 251 ) and subsistence fishermen (Article XIII, Section 752 ), are not violated by RA 9522. In fact, the demarcation of the baselines enables the Philippines to delimit its exclusive economic zone, reserving solely to the Philippines the exploitation of all living and non-living resources within such zone. Such a maritime delineation binds the international community since the delineation is in strict observance of UNCLOS III. If the maritime delineation is contrary to UNCLOS III, the international community will of course reject it and will refuse to be bound by it. UNCLOS III favors States with a long coastline like the Philippines. UNCLOS III creates a sui generis maritime space – the exclusive economic zone – in waters previously part of the high seas. UNCLOS III grants new rights to coastal States to exclusively exploit the resources found within this zone up to 200 nautical miles.53 UNCLOS III, however, preserves the traditional freedom of navigation of other States that attached to this zone beyond the territorial sea before UNCLOS III. RA 9522 and the Philippines’ Maritime Zones Petitioners hold the view that, based on the permissive text of UNCLOS III, Congress was not bound to pass RA 9522.54 We have looked at the relevant provision of UNCLOS III55 and we find petitioners’ reading plausible. Nevertheless, the prerogative of choosing this option belongs to Congress, not to this Court. Moreover, the luxury of choosing this option comes at a very steep price. Absent an UNCLOS III compliant baselines law, an archipelagic State like the Philippines will find itself devoid of internationally acceptable baselines from where the breadth of its maritime zones and continental shelf is measured. This is recipe for a two-fronted disaster: first, it sends an open invitation to the seafaring powers to freely enter and exploit the resources in the waters and submarine areas around our archipelago; and second, it weakens the country’s case in any international dispute over Philippine maritime space. These are consequences Congress wisely avoided. The enactment of UNCLOS III compliant baselines law for the Philippine archipelago and adjacent areas, as embodied in RA 9522, allows an internationally-recognized delimitation of the breadth of the Philippines’ maritime zones and continental shelf. RA 9522 is therefore a most vital step on the part of the Philippines in safeguarding its maritime zones, consistent with the Constitution and our national interest. WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition.
  • 12. SO ORDERED.
  • 13. G.R. No. 183591 October 14, 2008 THE PROVINCE OF NORTH COTABATO, duly represented by GOVERNOR JESUS SACDALAN and/or VICE-GOVERNOR EMMANUEL PIÑOL, for and in his own behalf, petitioners, vs. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN (GRP), , respondents. x--------------------------------------------x D E C I S I O N CARPIO MORALES, J.: Subject of these consolidated cases is the extent of the powers of the President in pursuing the peace process.While the facts surrounding this controversy center on the armed conflict in Mindanao between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the legal issue involved has a bearing on all areas in the country where there has been a long-standing armed conflict. Yet again, the Court is tasked to perform a delicate balancing act. It must uncompromisingly delineate the bounds within which the President may lawfully exercise her discretion, but it must do so in strict adherence to the Constitution, lest its ruling unduly restricts the freedom of action vested by that same Constitution in the Chief Executive precisely to enable her to pursue the peace process effectively. I. FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE PETITIONS On August 5, 2008, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF, through the Chairpersons of their respective peace negotiating panels, were scheduled to sign a Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The MILF is a rebel group which was established in March 1984 when, under the leadership of the late Salamat Hashim, it splintered from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) then headed by Nur Misuari, on the ground, among others, of what Salamat perceived to be the manipulation of the MNLF away from an Islamic basis towards Marxist-Maoist orientations.1 The signing of the MOA-AD between the GRP and the MILF was not to materialize, however, for upon motion of petitioners, specifically those who filed their cases before the scheduled signing of the MOA- AD, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining the GRP from signing the same.
  • 14. The MOA-AD was preceded by a long process of negotiation and the concluding of several prior agreements between the two parties beginning in 1996, when the GRP-MILF peace negotiations began. On July 18, 1997, the GRP and MILF Peace Panels signed the Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities. The following year, they signed the General Framework of Agreement of Intent on August 27, 1998. The Solicitor General, who represents respondents, summarizes the MOA-AD by stating that the same contained, among others, the commitment of the parties to pursue peace negotiations, protect and respect human rights, negotiate with sincerity in the resolution and pacific settlement of the conflict, and refrain from the use of threat or force to attain undue advantage while the peace negotiations on the substantive agenda are on-going.2 Early on, however, it was evident that there was not going to be any smooth sailing in the GRP-MILF peace process. Towards the end of 1999 up to early 2000, the MILF attacked a number of municipalities in Central Mindanao and, in March 2000, it took control of the town hall of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.3 In response, then President Joseph Estrada declared and carried out an "all-out-war" against the MILF. When President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office, the military offensive against the MILF was suspended and the government sought a resumption of the peace talks. The MILF, according to a leading MILF member, initially responded with deep reservation, but when President Arroyo asked the Government of Malaysia through Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad to help convince the MILF to return to the negotiating table, the MILF convened its Central Committee to seriously discuss the matter and, eventually, decided to meet with the GRP.4 The parties met in Kuala Lumpur on March 24, 2001, with the talks being facilitated by the Malaysian government, the parties signing on the same date the Agreement on the General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks Between the GRP and the MILF. The MILF thereafter suspended all its military actions.5 Formal peace talks between the parties were held in Tripoli, Libya from June 20-22, 2001, the outcome of which was the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace (Tripoli Agreement 2001) containing the basic principles and agenda on the following aspects of the negotiation: Security Aspect, Rehabilitation Aspect, and Ancestral Domain Aspect. With regard to the Ancestral Domain Aspect, the parties in Tripoli Agreement 2001 simply agreed "that the same be discussed further by the Parties in their next meeting." A second round of peace talks was held in Cyberjaya, Malaysia on August 5-7, 2001 which ended with the signing of the Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement 2001 leading to
  • 15. a ceasefire status between the parties. This was followed by the Implementing Guidelines on the Humanitarian Rehabilitation and Development Aspects of the Tripoli Agreement 2001, which was signed on May 7, 2002 at Putrajaya, Malaysia. Nonetheless, there were many incidence of violence between government forces and the MILF from 2002 to 2003. Meanwhile, then MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim passed away on July 13, 2003 and he was replaced by Al Haj Murad, who was then the chief peace negotiator of the MILF. Murad's position as chief peace negotiator was taken over by Mohagher Iqbal.6 In 2005, several exploratory talks were held between the parties in Kuala Lumpur, eventually leading to the crafting of the draft MOA-AD in its final form, which, as mentioned, was set to be signed last August 5, 2008. II. STATEMENT OF THE PROCEEDINGS Before the Court is what is perhaps the most contentious "consensus" ever embodied in an instrument - the MOA-AD which is assailed principally by the present petitions bearing docket numbers 183591, 183752, 183893, 183951 and 183962. Commonly impleaded as respondents are the GRP Peace Panel on Ancestral Domain7 and the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. On July 23, 2008, the Province of North Cotabato8 and Vice-Governor Emmanuel Piñol filed a petition, docketed as G.R. No. 183591, for Mandamus and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order.9 Invoking the right to information on matters of public concern, petitioners seek to compel respondents to disclose and furnish them the complete and official copies of the MOA-AD including its attachments, and to prohibit the slated signing of the MOA- AD, pending the disclosure of the contents of the MOA-AD and the holding of a public consultation thereon. Supplementarily, petitioners pray that the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional.10 This initial petition was followed by another one, docketed as G.R. No. 183752, also for Mandamus and Prohibition11 filed by the City of Zamboanga,12 Mayor Celso Lobregat, Rep. Ma. Isabelle Climaco and Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian who likewise pray for similar injunctive reliefs. Petitioners herein moreover pray that the City of Zamboanga be excluded from the Bangsamoro Homeland and/or Bangsamoro Juridical Entity and, in the alternative, that the MOA-AD be declared null and void. By Resolution of August 4, 2008, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order commanding and directing public respondents and their agents to cease and desist from formally signing the MOA-
  • 16. AD.13 The Court also required the Solicitor General to submit to the Court and petitioners the official copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD,14 to which she complied.15 Meanwhile, the City of Iligan16 filed a petition for Injunction and/or Declaratory Relief, docketed as G.R. No. 183893, praying that respondents be enjoined from signing the MOA-AD or, if the same had already been signed, from implementing the same, and that the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional. Petitioners herein additionally implead Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as respondent. The Province of Zamboanga del Norte,17 Governor Rolando Yebes, Vice-Governor Francis Olvis, Rep. Cecilia Jalosjos-Carreon, Rep. Cesar Jalosjos, and the members18 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zamboanga del Norte filed on August 15, 2008 a petition for Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition,19 docketed as G.R. No. 183951. They pray, inter alia, that the MOA-AD be declared null and void and without operative effect, and that respondents be enjoined from executing the MOA-AD. On August 19, 2008, Ernesto Maceda, Jejomar Binay, and Aquilino Pimentel III filed a petition for Prohibition,20 docketed as G.R. No. 183962, praying for a judgment prohibiting and permanently enjoining respondents from formally signing and executing the MOA-AD and or any other agreement derived therefrom or similar thereto, and nullifying the MOA-AD for being unconstitutional and illegal. Petitioners herein additionally implead as respondent the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel represented by its Chairman Mohagher Iqbal. Various parties moved to intervene and were granted leave of court to file their petitions-/comments-in- intervention. Petitioners-in-Intervention include Senator Manuel A. Roxas, former Senate President Franklin Drilon and Atty. Adel Tamano, the City of Isabela21 and Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar, the Province of Sultan Kudarat22 and Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu, the Municipality of Linamon in Lanao del Norte,23 Ruy Elias Lopez of Davao City and of the Bagobo tribe, Sangguniang Panlungsod member Marino Ridao and businessman Kisin Buxani, both of Cotabato City; and lawyers Carlo Gomez, Gerardo Dilig, Nesario Awat, Joselito Alisuag, Richalex Jagmis, all of Palawan City. The Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (Muslaf) and the Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and Development (MMMPD) filed their respective Comments-in-Intervention. By subsequent Resolutions, the Court ordered the consolidation of the petitions. Respondents filed Comments on the petitions, while some of petitioners submitted their respective Replies. Respondents, by Manifestation and Motion of August 19, 2008, stated that the Executive Department shall thoroughly review the MOA-AD and pursue further negotiations to address the issues hurled against it, and thus moved to dismiss the cases. In the succeeding exchange of pleadings, respondents' motion was met with vigorous opposition from petitioners.
  • 17. The cases were heard on oral argument on August 15, 22 and 29, 2008 that tackled the following principal issues: 1. Whether the petitions have become moot and academic (i) insofar as the mandamus aspect is concerned, in view of the disclosure of official copies of the final draft of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA); and (ii) insofar as the prohibition aspect involving the Local Government Units is concerned, if it is considered that consultation has become fait accompli with the finalization of the draft; 2. Whether the constitutionality and the legality of the MOA is ripe for adjudication; 3. Whether respondent Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it negotiated and initiated the MOA vis-à-vis ISSUES Nos. 4 and 5; 4. Whether there is a violation of the people's right to information on matters of public concern (1987 Constitution, Article III, Sec. 7) under a state policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest (1987 Constitution, Article II, Sec. 28) including public consultation under Republic Act No. 7160 (LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991)[;] If it is in the affirmative, whether prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is an appropriate remedy; 5. Whether by signing the MOA, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines would be BINDING itself a) to create and recognize the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) as a separate state, or a juridical, territorial or political subdivision not recognized by law; b) to revise or amend the Constitution and existing laws to conform to the MOA; c) to concede to or recognize the claim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for ancestral domain in violation of Republic Act No. 8371 (THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS ACT OF 1997), particularly Section 3(g) & Chapter VII (DELINEATION, RECOGNITION OF ANCESTRAL DOMAINS)[;] If in the affirmative, whether the Executive Branch has the authority to so bind the Government of the Republic of the Philippines;
  • 18. 6. Whether the inclusion/exclusion of the Province of North Cotabato, Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela, and the Municipality of Linamon, Lanao del Norte in/from the areas covered by the projected Bangsamoro Homeland is a justiciable question; and 7. Whether desistance from signing the MOA derogates any prior valid commitments of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.24 The Court, thereafter, ordered the parties to submit their respective Memoranda. Most of the parties submitted their memoranda on time. III. OVERVIEW OF THE MOA-AD As a necessary backdrop to the consideration of the objections raised in the subject five petitions and six petitions-in-intervention against the MOA-AD, as well as the two comments-in-intervention in favor of the MOA-AD, the Court takes an overview of the MOA. The MOA-AD identifies the Parties to it as the GRP and the MILF. Under the heading "Terms of Reference" (TOR), the MOA-AD includes not only four earlier agreements between the GRP and MILF, but also two agreements between the GRP and the MNLF: the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, and the Final Peace Agreement on the Implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, signed on September 2, 1996 during the administration of President Fidel Ramos. The MOA-AD also identifies as TOR two local statutes - the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)25 and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA),26 and several international law instruments - the ILO Convention No. 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries in relation to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, and the UN Charter, among others. The MOA-AD includes as a final TOR the generic category of "compact rights entrenchment emanating from the regime of dar-ul-mua'hada (or territory under compact) and dar-ul-sulh (or territory under peace agreement) that partakes the nature of a treaty device." During the height of the Muslim Empire, early Muslim jurists tended to see the world through a simple dichotomy: there was the dar-ul-Islam (the Abode of Islam) and dar-ul-harb (the Abode of War). The first referred to those lands where Islamic laws held sway, while the second denoted those lands where Muslims were persecuted or where Muslim laws were outlawed or ineffective.27 This way of viewing the world, however, became more complex through the centuries as the Islamic world became part of the international community of nations.
  • 19. As Muslim States entered into treaties with their neighbors, even with distant States and inter- governmental organizations, the classical division of the world into dar-ul-Islam and dar-ul- harb eventually lost its meaning. New terms were drawn up to describe novel ways of perceiving non- Muslim territories. For instance, areas like dar-ul-mua'hada (land of compact) and dar-ul-sulh (land of treaty) referred to countries which, though under a secular regime, maintained peaceful and cooperative relations with Muslim States, having been bound to each other by treaty or agreement. Dar- ul-aman (land of order), on the other hand, referred to countries which, though not bound by treaty with Muslim States, maintained freedom of religion for Muslims.28 It thus appears that the "compact rights entrenchment" emanating from the regime of dar-ul- mua'hada and dar-ul-sulh simply refers to all other agreements between the MILF and the Philippine government - the Philippines being the land of compact and peace agreement - that partake of the nature of a treaty device, "treaty" being broadly defined as "any solemn agreement in writing that sets out understandings, obligations, and benefits for both parties which provides for a framework that elaborates the principles declared in the [MOA-AD]."29 The MOA-AD states that the Parties "HAVE AGREED AND ACKNOWLEDGED AS FOLLOWS," and starts with its main body. The main body of the MOA-AD is divided into four strands, namely, Concepts and Principles, Territory, Resources, and Governance. A. CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES This strand begins with the statement that it is "the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as ‘Bangsamoros.'" It defines "Bangsamoro people" as the natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization, and their descendants whether mixed or of full blood, including their spouses.30 Thus, the concept of "Bangsamoro," as defined in this strand of the MOA-AD, includes not only "Moros" as traditionally understood even by Muslims,31 but all indigenous peoples of Mindanao and its adjacent islands. The MOA-AD adds that the freedom of choice of indigenous peoples shall be respected. What this freedom of choice consists in has not been specifically defined. The MOA-AD proceeds to refer to the "Bangsamoro homeland," the ownership of which is vested exclusively in the Bangsamoro people by virtue of their prior rights of occupation.32 Both parties to the MOA-AD acknowledge that ancestral domain does not form part of the public domain.33
  • 20. The Bangsamoro people are acknowledged as having the right to self-governance, which right is said to be rooted on ancestral territoriality exercised originally under the suzerain authority of their sultanates and the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw. The sultanates were described as states or "karajaan/kadatuan" resembling a body politic endowed with all the elements of a nation-state in the modern sense.34 The MOA-AD thus grounds the right to self-governance of the Bangsamoro people on the past suzerain authority of the sultanates. As gathered, the territory defined as the Bangsamoro homeland was ruled by several sultanates and, specifically in the case of the Maranao, by the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw, a confederation of independent principalities (pangampong) each ruled by datus and sultans, none of whom was supreme over the others.35 The MOA-AD goes on to describe the Bangsamoro people as "the ‘First Nation' with defined territory and with a system of government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations." The term "First Nation" is of Canadian origin referring to the indigenous peoples of that territory, particularly those known as Indians. In Canada, each of these indigenous peoples is equally entitled to be called "First Nation," hence, all of them are usually described collectively by the plural "First Nations."36 To that extent, the MOA-AD, by identifying the Bangsamoro people as "the First Nation" - suggesting its exclusive entitlement to that designation - departs from the Canadian usage of the term. The MOA-AD then mentions for the first time the "Bangsamoro Juridical Entity" (BJE) to which it grants the authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral Lands of the Bangsamoro.37 B. TERRITORY The territory of the Bangsamoro homeland is described as the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, including the aerial domain and the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region.38 More specifically, the core of the BJE is defined as the present geographic area of the ARMM - thus constituting the following areas: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Marawi City. Significantly, this core also includes certain municipalities of Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite.39 Outside of this core, the BJE is to cover other provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, which are grouped into two categories, Category A and Category B. Each of these areas is to be subjected to a plebiscite to be held on different dates, years apart from each other. Thus, Category A areas are to be subjected to a plebiscite not later than twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOA- AD.40 Category B areas, also called "Special Intervention Areas," on the other hand, are to be subjected to
  • 21. a plebiscite twenty-five (25) years from the signing of a separate agreement - the Comprehensive Compact.41 The Parties to the MOA-AD stipulate that the BJE shall have jurisdiction over all natural resources within its "internal waters," defined as extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the coastline of the BJE area;42 that the BJE shall also have "territorial waters," which shall stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the baselines of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) south east and south west of mainland Mindanao; and that within these territorialwaters, the BJE and the "Central Government" (used interchangeably with RP) shall exercise joint jurisdiction, authority and management over all natural resources.43 Notably, the jurisdiction over the internal waters is not similarly described as "joint." The MOA-AD further provides for the sharing of minerals on the territorial waters between the Central Government and the BJE, in favor of the latter, through production sharing and economic cooperation agreement.44 The activities which the Parties are allowed to conduct on the territorial waters are enumerated, among which are the exploration and utilization of natural resources, regulation of shipping and fishing activities, and the enforcement of police and safety measures.45 There is no similar provision on the sharing of minerals and allowed activities with respect to the internal waters of the BJE. C. RESOURCES The MOA-AD states that the BJE is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries and shall have the option to establish trade missions in those countries. Such relationships and understandings, however, are not to include aggression against the GRP. The BJE may also enter into environmental cooperation agreements.46 The external defense of the BJE is to remain the duty and obligation of the Central Government. The Central Government is also bound to "take necessary steps to ensure the BJE's participation in international meetings and events" like those of the ASEAN and the specialized agencies of the UN. The BJE is to be entitled to participate in Philippine official missions and delegations for the negotiation of border agreements or protocols for environmental protection and equitable sharing of incomes and revenues involving the bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain.47 With regard to the right of exploring for, producing, and obtaining all potential sources of energy, petroleum, fossil fuel, mineral oil and natural gas, the jurisdiction and control thereon is to be vested in the BJE "as the party having control within its territorial jurisdiction." This right carries the proviso that, "in times of national emergency, when public interest so requires," the Central Government may, for a fixed period and under reasonable terms as may be agreed upon by both Parties, assume or direct the operation of such resources.48
  • 22. The sharing between the Central Government and the BJE of total production pertaining to natural resources is to be 75:25 in favor of the BJE.49 The MOA-AD provides that legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people arising from any unjust dispossession of their territorial and proprietary rights, customary land tenures, or their marginalization shall be acknowledged. Whenever restoration is no longer possible, reparation is to be in such form as mutually determined by the Parties.50 The BJE may modify or cancel the forest concessions, timber licenses, contracts or agreements, mining concessions, Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA), Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMA), and other land tenure instruments granted by the Philippine Government, including those issued by the present ARMM.51 D. GOVERNANCE The MOA-AD binds the Parties to invite a multinational third-party to observe and monitor the implementation of the Comprehensive Compact. This compact is to embody the "details for the effective enforcement" and "the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation" of the MOA-AD. The MOA-AD explicitly provides that the participation of the third party shall not in any way affect the status of the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE.52 The "associative" relationship between the Central Government and the BJE The MOA-AD describes the relationship of the Central Government and the BJE as "associative," characterized by shared authority and responsibility. And it states that the structure of governance is to be based on executive, legislative, judicial, and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the Comprehensive Compact. The MOA-AD provides that its provisions requiring "amendments to the existing legal framework" shall take effect upon signing of the Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the aforesaid amendments, with due regard to the non-derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. As will be discussed later, much of the present controversy hangs on the legality of this provision. The BJE is granted the power to build, develop and maintain its own institutions inclusive of civil service, electoral, financial and banking, education, legislation, legal, economic, police and internal security force, judicial system and correctional institutions, the details of which shall be discussed in the negotiation of the comprehensive compact.
  • 23. As stated early on, the MOA-AD was set to be signed on August 5, 2008 by Rodolfo Garcia and Mohagher Iqbal, Chairpersons of the Peace Negotiating Panels of the GRP and the MILF, respectively. Notably, the penultimate paragraph of the MOA-AD identifies the signatories as "the representatives of the Parties," meaning the GRP and MILF themselves, and not merely of the negotiating panels.53 In addition, the signature page of the MOA-AD states that it is "WITNESSED BY" Datuk Othman Bin Abd Razak, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, "ENDORSED BY" Ambassador Sayed Elmasry, Adviser to Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General and Special Envoy for Peace Process in Southern Philippines, and SIGNED "IN THE PRESENCE OF" Dr. Albert G. Romulo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of RP and Dato' Seri Utama Dr. Rais Bin Yatim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia, all of whom were scheduled to sign the Agreement last August 5, 2008. Annexed to the MOA-AD are two documents containing the respective lists cum maps of the provinces, municipalities, and barangays under Categories A and B earlier mentioned in the discussion on the strand on TERRITORY. IV. PROCEDURAL ISSUES A. RIPENESS The power of judicial review is limited to actual cases or controversies.54 Courts decline to issue advisory opinions or to resolve hypothetical or feigned problems, or mere academic questions.55 The limitation of the power of judicial review to actual cases and controversies defines the role assigned to the judiciary in a tripartite allocation of power, to assure that the courts will not intrude into areas committed to the other branches of government.56 An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims, susceptible of judicial resolution as distinguished from a hypothetical or abstract difference or dispute. There must be a contrariety of legal rights that can be interpreted and enforced on the basis of existing law and jurisprudence.57 The Court can decide the constitutionality of an act or treaty only when a proper case between opposing parties is submitted for judicial determination.58 Related to the requirement of an actual case or controversy is the requirement of ripeness. A question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it.59 For a case to be considered ripe for adjudication, it is a prerequisite that something had then been accomplished or performed by either branch before a court may come into the picture,60 and the petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or threatened injury to itself as a result of the
  • 24. challenged action.61 He must show that he has sustained or is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of the act complained of.62 The Solicitor General argues that there is no justiciable controversy that is ripe for judicial review in the present petitions, reasoning that The unsigned MOA-AD is simply a list of consensus points subject to further negotiations and legislative enactments as well as constitutional processes aimed at attaining a final peaceful agreement. Simply put, the MOA-AD remains to be a proposal that does not automatically create legally demandable rights and obligations until the list of operative acts required have been duly complied with. x x x x x x x In the cases at bar, it is respectfully submitted that this Honorable Court has no authority to pass upon issues based on hypothetical or feigned constitutional problems or interests with no concrete bases. Considering the preliminary character of the MOA-AD, there are no concrete acts that could possibly violate petitioners' and intervenors' rights since the acts complained of are mere contemplated steps toward the formulation of a final peace agreement. Plainly, petitioners and intervenors' perceived injury, if at all, is merely imaginary and illusory apart from being unfounded and based on mere conjectures. (Underscoring supplied) The Solicitor General cites63 the following provisions of the MOA-AD: TERRITORY x x x x 2. Toward this end, the Parties enter into the following stipulations: x x x x d. Without derogating from the requirements of prior agreements, the Government stipulates to conduct and deliver, using all possible legal measures, within twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOA-AD, a plebiscite covering the areas as enumerated in the list and depicted in the map as Category A attached herein (the "Annex"). The Annex constitutes an integral part of this framework agreement. Toward this end, the Parties shall endeavor to complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding issues on the Comprehensive Compact within fifteen (15) months from the signing of the MOA-AD.
  • 25. x x x x GOVERNANCE x x x x 7. The Parties agree that mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA- AD shall be spelt out in the Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively. Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into forceupon the signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non-derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact.64 (Underscoring supplied) The Solicitor General's arguments fail to persuade. Concrete acts under the MOA-AD are not necessary to render the present controversy ripe. In Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre,65 this Court held: x x x [B]y the mere enactment of the questioned law or the approval of the challenged action, the dispute is said to have ripened into a judicial controversy even without any other overt act. Indeed, even a singular violation of the Constitution and/or the law is enough to awaken judicial duty. x x x x By the same token, when an act of the President, who in our constitutional scheme is a coequal of Congress, is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution and the laws x x x settling the dispute becomes the duty and the responsibility of the courts.66 In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe,67 the United States Supreme Court held that the challenge to the constitutionality of the school's policy allowing student-led prayers and speeches before games was ripe for adjudication, even if no public prayer had yet been led under the policy, because the policy was being challenged as unconstitutional on its face.68 That the law or act in question is not yet effective does not negate ripeness. For example, in New York v. United States,69 decided in 1992, the United States Supreme Court held that the action by the State of New York challenging the provisions of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act was ripe for
  • 26. adjudication even if the questioned provision was not to take effect until January 1, 1996, because the parties agreed that New York had to take immediate action to avoid the provision's consequences.70 The present petitions pray for Certiorari,71 Prohibition, and Mandamus. Certiorari and Prohibition are remedies granted by law when any tribunal, board or officer has acted, in the case of certiorari, or is proceeding, in the case of prohibition, without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.72 Mandamus is a remedy granted by law when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use or enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled.73 Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition are appropriate remedies to raise constitutional issues and to review and/or prohibit/nullify, when proper, acts of legislative and executive officials.74 The authority of the GRP Negotiating Panel is defined by Executive Order No. 3 (E.O. No. 3), issued on February 28, 2001.75 The said executive order requires that "[t]he government's policy framework for peace, including the systematic approach and the administrative structure for carrying out the comprehensive peace process x x x be governed by this Executive Order."76 The present petitions allege that respondents GRP Panel and PAPP Esperon drafted the terms of the MOA-AD without consulting the local government units or communities affected, nor informing them of the proceedings. As will be discussed in greater detail later, such omission, by itself, constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate under E.O. No. 3. Furthermore, the petitions allege that the provisions of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution. The MOA- AD provides that "any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon the signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework," implying an amendment of the Constitution to accommodate the MOA- AD. This stipulation, in effect,guaranteed to the MILF the amendment of the Constitution. Such act constitutes another violation of its authority. Again, these points will be discussed in more detail later. As the petitions allege acts or omissions on the part of respondent that exceed their authority, by violating their duties under E.O. No. 3 and the provisions of the Constitution and statutes, the petitions make a prima facie case for Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus, and an actual case or controversy ripe for adjudication exists. When an act of a branch of government is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute.77 B. LOCUS STANDI
  • 27. For a party to have locus standi, one must allege "such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions."78 Because constitutional cases are often public actions in which the relief sought is likely to affect other persons, a preliminary question frequently arises as to this interest in the constitutional question raised.79 When suing as a citizen, the person complaining must allege that he has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.80 When the issue concerns a public right, it is sufficient that the petitioner is a citizen and has an interest in the execution of the laws.81 For a taxpayer, one is allowed to sue where there is an assertion that public funds are illegally disbursed or deflected to an illegal purpose, or that there is a wastage of public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law.82 The Court retains discretion whether or not to allow a taxpayer's suit.83 In the case of a legislator or member of Congress, an act of the Executive that injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury that can be questioned by legislators. A member of the House of Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in his office.84 An organization may be granted standing to assert the rights of its members,85 but the mere invocation by theIntegrated Bar of the Philippines or any member of the legal profession of the duty to preserve the rule of law does not suffice to clothe it with standing.86 As regards a local government unit (LGU), it can seek relief in order to protect or vindicate an interest of its own, and of the other LGUs.87 Intervenors, meanwhile, may be given legal standing upon showing of facts that satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing intervention,88 such as a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties. In any case, the Court has discretion to relax the procedural technicality on locus standi, given the liberal attitude it has exercised, highlighted in the case of David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,89 where technicalities of procedure were brushed aside, the constitutional issues raised being of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance deserving the attention of the Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents.90 The Court's forbearing stance on locus standi on issues involving constitutional issues has for its purpose the protection of fundamental rights.
  • 28. In not a few cases, the Court, in keeping with its duty under the Constitution to determine whether the other branches of government have kept themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and have not abused the discretion given them, has brushed aside technical rules of procedure.91 In the petitions at bar, petitioners Province of North Cotabato (G.R. No. 183591) Province of Zamboanga del Norte (G.R. No. 183951), City of Iligan (G.R. No. 183893) and City of Zamboanga (G.R. No. 183752) and petitioners-in-intervention Province of Sultan Kudarat, City of Isabela and Municipality of Linamon havelocus standi in view of the direct and substantial injury that they, as LGUs, would suffer as their territories, whether in whole or in part, are to be included in the intended domain of the BJE. These petitioners allege that they did not vote for their inclusion in the ARMM which would be expanded to form the BJE territory. Petitioners' legal standing is thus beyond doubt. In G.R. No. 183962, petitioners Ernesto Maceda, Jejomar Binay and Aquilino Pimentel III would have no standing as citizens and taxpayers for their failure to specify that they would be denied some right or privilege or there would be wastage of public funds. The fact that they are a former Senator, an incumbent mayor of Makati City, and a resident of Cagayan de Oro, respectively, is of no consequence. Considering their invocation of the transcendental importance of the issues at hand, however, the Court grants them standing. Intervenors Franklin Drilon and Adel Tamano, in alleging their standing as taxpayers, assert that government funds would be expended for the conduct of an illegal and unconstitutional plebiscite to delineate the BJE territory. On that score alone, they can be given legal standing. Their allegation that the issues involved in these petitions are of "undeniable transcendental importance" clothes them with added basis for their personality to intervene in these petitions. With regard to Senator Manuel Roxas, his standing is premised on his being a member of the Senate and a citizen to enforce compliance by respondents of the public's constitutional right to be informed of the MOA-AD, as well as on a genuine legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success or failure of either of the parties. He thus possesses the requisite standing as an intervenor. With respect to Intervenors Ruy Elias Lopez, as a former congressman of the 3rd district of Davao City, a taxpayer and a member of the Bagobo tribe; Carlo B. Gomez, et al., as members of the IBP Palawan chapter, citizens and taxpayers; Marino Ridao, as taxpayer, resident and member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City; and Kisin Buxani, as taxpayer, they failed to allege any proper legal interest in the present petitions. Just the same, the Court exercises its discretion to relax the procedural technicality on locus standi given the paramount public interest in the issues at hand.
  • 29. Intervening respondents Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and Development, an advocacy group for justice and the attainment of peace and prosperity in Muslim Mindanao; and Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation Inc., a non-government organization of Muslim lawyers, allege that they stand to be benefited or prejudiced, as the case may be, in the resolution of the petitions concerning the MOA- AD, and prays for the denial of the petitions on the grounds therein stated. Such legal interest suffices to clothe them with standing. B. MOOTNESS Respondents insist that the present petitions have been rendered moot with the satisfaction of all the reliefs prayed for by petitioners and the subsequent pronouncement of the Executive Secretary that "[n]o matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides[,] the government will not sign the MOA."92 In lending credence to this policy decision, the Solicitor General points out that the President had already disbanded the GRP Peace Panel.93 In David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,94 this Court held that the "moot and academic" principle not being a magical formula that automatically dissuades courts in resolving a case, it will decide cases, otherwise moot and academic, if it finds that (a) there is a grave violation of the Constitution;95 (b) the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved;96 (c) the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public;97 and (d) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.98 Another exclusionary circumstance that may be considered is where there is a voluntary cessation of the activity complained of by the defendant or doer. Thus, once a suit is filed and the doer voluntarily ceases the challenged conduct, it does not automatically deprive the tribunal of power to hear and determine the case and does not render the case moot especially when the plaintiff seeks damages or prays for injunctive relief against the possible recurrence of the violation.99 The present petitions fall squarely into these exceptions to thus thrust them into the domain of judicial review. The grounds cited above in David are just as applicable in the present cases as they were, not only in David, but also in Province of Batangas v. Romulo100 and Manalo v. Calderon101 where the Court similarly decided them on the merits, supervening events that would ordinarily have rendered the same moot notwithstanding. Petitions not mooted
  • 30. Contrary then to the asseverations of respondents, the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel did not moot the present petitions. It bears emphasis that the signing of the MOA-AD did not push through due to the Court's issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order. Contrary too to respondents' position, the MOA-AD cannot be considered a mere "list of consensus points," especially given its nomenclature, the need to have it signed or initialed by all the parties concerned on August 5, 2008, and the far-reaching Constitutional implications of these "consensus points," foremost of which is the creation of the BJE. In fact, as what will, in the main, be discussed, there is a commitment on the part of respondents to amend and effect necessary changes to the existing legal framework for certain provisions of the MOA-AD to take effect. Consequently, the present petitions are not confined to the terms and provisions of the MOA-AD, but to other on-going and future negotiations and agreements necessary for its realization. The petitions have not, therefore, been rendered moot and academic simply by the public disclosure of the MOA-AD,102 the manifestation that it will not be signed as well as the disbanding of the GRP Panel not withstanding. Petitions are imbued with paramount public interest There is no gainsaying that the petitions are imbued with paramount public interest, involving a significant part of the country's territory and the wide-ranging political modifications of affected LGUs. The assertion that the MOA-AD is subject to further legal enactments including possible Constitutional amendments more than ever provides impetus for the Court to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, the public and, in this case, the government and its negotiating entity. Respondents cite Suplico v. NEDA, et al.103 where the Court did not "pontificat[e] on issues which no longer legitimately constitute an actual case or controversy [as this] will do more harm than good to the nation as a whole." The present petitions must be differentiated from Suplico. Primarily, in Suplico, what was assailed and eventually cancelled was a stand-alone government procurement contract for a national broadband network involving a one-time contractual relation between two parties-the government and a private foreign corporation. As the issues therein involved specific government procurement policies and standard principles on contracts, the majority opinion in Suplico found nothing exceptional therein, the factual circumstances being peculiar only to the transactions and parties involved in the controversy. The MOA-AD is part of a series of agreements
  • 31. In the present controversy, the MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the Tripoli Agreement 2001. The MOA-AD which dwells on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of said Tripoli Agreement is the third such component to be undertaken following the implementation of the Security Aspect in August 2001 and the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Aspect in May 2002. Accordingly, even if the Executive Secretary, in his Memorandum of August 28, 2008 to the Solicitor General, has stated that "no matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides[,] the government will not sign the MOA[-AD],"mootness will not set in in light of the terms of the Tripoli Agreement 2001. Need to formulate principles-guidelines Surely, the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one will be drawn up to carry out the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement 2001, in another or in any form, which could contain similar or significantly drastic provisions. While the Court notes the word of the Executive Secretary that the government "is committed to securing an agreement that is both constitutional and equitable because that is the only way that long-lasting peace can be assured," it is minded to render a decision on the merits in the present petitions toformulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, the public and, most especially, the government in negotiating with the MILF regarding Ancestral Domain. Respondents invite the Court's attention to the separate opinion of then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban inSanlakas v. Reyes104 in which he stated that the doctrine of "capable of repetition yet evading review" can override mootness, "provided the party raising it in a proper case has been and/or continue to be prejudiced or damaged as a direct result of their issuance." They contend that the Court must have jurisdiction over the subject matter for the doctrine to be invoked. The present petitions all contain prayers for Prohibition over which this Court exercises original jurisdiction. While G.R. No. 183893 (City of Iligan v. GRP) is a petition for Injunction and Declaratory Relief, the Court will treat it as one for Prohibition as it has far reaching implications and raises questions that need to be resolved.105 At all events, the Court has jurisdiction over most if not the rest of the petitions. Indeed, the present petitions afford a proper venue for the Court to again apply the doctrine immediately referred to as what it had done in a number of landmark cases.106 There is a reasonable expectation that petitioners, particularly the Provinces of North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte and Sultan Kudarat, the Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela, and the Municipality of Linamon, will again be subjected to the same problem in the future as respondents' actions are capable of repetition, in another or any form.
  • 32. It is with respect to the prayers for Mandamus that the petitions have become moot, respondents having, by Compliance of August 7, 2008, provided this Court and petitioners with official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD and its annexes. Too, intervenors have been furnished, or have procured for themselves, copies of the MOA-AD. V. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES As culled from the Petitions and Petitions-in-Intervention, there are basically two SUBSTANTIVE issues to be resolved, one relating to the manner in which the MOA-AD was negotiated and finalized, the other relating to its provisions, viz: 1. Did respondents violate constitutional and statutory provisions on public consultation and the right to information when they negotiated and later initialed the MOA-AD? 2. Do the contents of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution and the laws? ON THE FIRST SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE Petitioners invoke their constitutional right to information on matters of public concern, as provided in Section 7, Article III on the Bill of Rights: Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.107 As early as 1948, in Subido v. Ozaeta,108 the Court has recognized the statutory right to examine and inspect public records, a right which was eventually accorded constitutional status. The right of access to public documents, as enshrined in both the 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution, has been recognized as a self-executory constitutional right.109 In the 1976 case of Baldoza v. Hon. Judge Dimaano,110 the Court ruled that access to public records is predicated on the right of the people to acquire information on matters of public concern since, undoubtedly, in a democracy, the pubic has a legitimate interest in matters of social and political significance. x x x The incorporation of this right in the Constitution is a recognition of the fundamental role of free exchange of information in a democracy. There can be no realistic perception by the public of the nation's problems, nor a meaningful democratic decision-making if they are denied access to information
  • 33. of general interest. Information is needed to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of the times. As has been aptly observed: "Maintaining the flow of such information depends on protection for both its acquisition and its dissemination since, if either process is interrupted, the flow inevitably ceases." x x x111 In the same way that free discussion enables members of society to cope with the exigencies of their time, access to information of general interest aids the people in democratic decision-making by giving them a better perspective of the vital issues confronting the nation112 so that they may be able to criticize and participate in the affairs of the government in a responsible, reasonable and effective manner. It is by ensuring an unfettered and uninhibited exchange of ideas among a well-informed public that a government remains responsive to the changes desired by the people.113 The MOA-AD is a matter of public concern That the subject of the information sought in the present cases is a matter of public concern114 faces no serious challenge. In fact, respondents admit that the MOA-AD is indeed of public concern.115 In previous cases, the Court found that the regularity of real estate transactions entered in the Register of Deeds,116 the need for adequate notice to the public of the various laws,117 the civil service eligibility of a public employee,118 the proper management of GSIS funds allegedly used to grant loans to public officials,119 the recovery of the Marcoses' alleged ill-gotten wealth,120 and the identity of party-list nominees,121 among others, are matters of public concern. Undoubtedly, the MOA-AD subject of the present cases is of public concern, involving as it does thesovereignty and territorial integrity of the State, which directly affects the lives of the public at large. Matters of public concern covered by the right to information include steps and negotiations leading to the consummation of the contract. In not distinguishing as to the executory nature or commercial character of agreements, the Court has categorically ruled: x x x [T]he right to information "contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction." Certainly, a consummated contract is not a requirement for the exercise of the right to information. Otherwise, the people can never exercise the right if no contract is consummated, and if one is consummated, it may be too late for the public to expose its defects. Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public in the dark until the contract, which may be grossly disadvantageous to the government or even illegal, becomes fait accompli. This negates the State policy of full transparency on matters of public concern, a situation which the framers of the Constitution could not have intended. Such a requirement will prevent the citizenry from participating in the public discussion of any proposed contract, effectively truncating a basic right
  • 34. enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We can allow neither an emasculation of a constitutional right, nor a retreat by the State of its avowed "policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest."122 (Emphasis and italics in the original) Intended as a "splendid symmetry"123 to the right to information under the Bill of Rights is the policy of public disclosure under Section 28, Article II of the Constitution reading: Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.124 The policy of full public disclosure enunciated in above-quoted Section 28 complements the right of access to information on matters of public concern found in the Bill of Rights. The right to information guarantees the right of the people to demand information, while Section 28 recognizes the duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody demands.125 The policy of public disclosure establishes a concrete ethical principle for the conduct of public affairs in a genuinely open democracy, with the people's right to know as the centerpiece. It is a mandate of the State to be accountable by following such policy.126 These provisions are vital to the exercise of the freedom of expression and essential to hold public officials at all times accountable to the people.127 Whether Section 28 is self-executory, the records of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission so disclose: MR. SUAREZ. And since this is not self-executory, this policy will not be enunciated or will not be in force and effect until after Congress shall have provided it. MR. OPLE. I expect it to influence the climate of public ethics immediately but, of course, the implementing law will have to be enacted by Congress, Mr. Presiding Officer.128 The following discourse, after Commissioner Hilario Davide, Jr., sought clarification on the issue, is enlightening. MR. DAVIDE. I would like to get some clarifications on this. Mr. Presiding Officer, did I get the Gentleman correctly as having said that this is not a self-executing provision? It would require a legislation by Congress to implement? MR. OPLE. Yes. Originally, it was going to be self-executing, but I accepted an amendment from Commissioner Regalado, so that the safeguards on national interest are modified by the clause "as may be provided by law"
  • 35. MR. DAVIDE. But as worded, does it not mean that this will immediately take effect and Congress may provide for reasonable safeguards on the sole ground national interest? MR. OPLE. Yes. I think so, Mr. Presiding Officer, I said earlier that it should immediately influence the climate of the conduct of public affairs but, of course, Congress here may no longer pass a law revoking it, or if this is approved, revoking this principle, which is inconsistent with this policy.129 (Emphasis supplied) Indubitably, the effectivity of the policy of public disclosure need not await the passing of a statute. As Congress cannot revoke this principle, it is merely directed to provide for "reasonable safeguards." The complete and effective exercise of the right to information necessitates that its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature. Since both provisions go hand-in-hand, it is absurd to say that the broader130 right to information on matters of public concern is already enforceable while the correlative duty of the State to disclose its transactions involving public interest is not enforceable until there is an enabling law.Respondents cannot thus point to the absence of an implementing legislation as an excuse in not effecting such policy. An essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that the government may perceive and be responsive to the people's will.131 Envisioned to be corollary to the twin rights to information and disclosure is the design for feedback mechanisms. MS. ROSARIO BRAID. Yes. And lastly, Mr. Presiding Officer, will the people be able to participate? Will the government provide feedback mechanisms so that the people can participate and can react where the existing media facilities are not able to provide full feedback mechanisms to the government? I suppose this will be part of the government implementing operational mechanisms. MR. OPLE. Yes. I think through their elected representatives and that is how these courses take place. There is a message and a feedback, both ways. x x x x MS. ROSARIO BRAID. Mr. Presiding Officer, may I just make one last sentence? I think when we talk about the feedback network, we are not talking about public officials but also network of private business o[r] community-based organizations that will be reacting. As a matter of fact, we will put more credence or credibility on the private network of
  • 36. volunteers and voluntary community-based organizations. So I do not think we are afraid that there will be another OMA in the making.132 (Emphasis supplied) The imperative of a public consultation, as a species of the right to information, is evident in the "marching orders" to respondents. The mechanics for the duty to disclose information and to conduct public consultation regarding the peace agenda and process is manifestly provided by E.O. No. 3.133 The preambulatory clause of E.O. No. 3 declares that there is a need to further enhance the contribution of civil society to the comprehensive peace process by institutionalizing the people's participation. One of the three underlying principles of the comprehensive peace process is that it "should be community-based, reflecting the sentiments, values and principles important to all Filipinos" and "shall be defined not by the government alone, nor by the different contending groups only, but by all Filipinos as one community."134 Included as a component of the comprehensive peace process is consensus-building and empowerment for peace, which includes "continuing consultations on both national and local levels to build consensus for a peace agenda and process, and the mobilization and facilitation of people's participation in the peace process."135 Clearly, E.O. No. 3 contemplates not just the conduct of a plebiscite to effectuate "continuing" consultations, contrary to respondents' position that plebiscite is "more than sufficient consultation."136 Further, E.O. No. 3 enumerates the functions and responsibilities of the PAPP, one of which is to "[c]onductregular dialogues with the National Peace Forum (NPF) and other peace partners to seek relevant information, comments, recommendations as well as to render appropriate and timely reports on the progress of the comprehensive peace process."137 E.O. No. 3 mandates the establishment of the NPF to be "the principal forumfor the PAPP to consult with and seek advi[c]e from the peace advocates, peace partners and concerned sectors of society on both national and local levels, on the implementation of the comprehensive peace process, as well as for government[-]civil society dialogue and consensus-building on peace agenda and initiatives."138 In fine, E.O. No. 3 establishes petitioners' right to be consulted on the peace agenda, as a corollary to the constitutional right to information and disclosure. PAPP Esperon committed grave abuse of discretion The PAPP committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof.
  • 37. The Court may not, of course, require the PAPP to conduct the consultation in a particular way or manner. It may, however, require him to comply with the law and discharge the functions within the authority granted by the President.139 Petitioners are not claiming a seat at the negotiating table, contrary to respondents' retort in justifying the denial of petitioners' right to be consulted. Respondents' stance manifests the manner by which they treat the salient provisions of E.O. No. 3 on people's participation. Such disregard of the express mandate of the President is not much different from superficial conduct toward token provisos that border on classic lip service.140 It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined. As for respondents' invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege, it is not tenable under the premises. The argument defies sound reason when contrasted with E.O. No. 3's explicit provisions on continuing consultation and dialogue on both national and local levels. The executive order even recognizes the exercise of the public's right even before the GRP makes its official recommendations or before the government proffers its definite propositions.141 It bear emphasis that E.O. No. 3 seeks to elicit relevant advice, information, comments and recommendations from the people through dialogue. AT ALL EVENTS, respondents effectively waived the defense of executive privilege in view of their unqualified disclosure of the official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD. By unconditionally complying with the Court's August 4, 2008 Resolution, without a prayer for the document's disclosure in camera, or without a manifestation that it was complying therewith ex abundante ad cautelam. Petitioners' assertion that the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 declares it a State policy to "require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units, non-governmental and people's organizations, and other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions"142 is well-taken. The LGC chapter on intergovernmental relations puts flesh into this avowed policy: Prior Consultations Required. - No project or program shall be implemented by government authoritiesunless the consultations mentioned in Sections 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.143 (Italics and underscoring supplied) In Lina, Jr. v. Hon. Paño,144 the Court held that the above-stated policy and above-quoted provision of the LGU apply only to national programs or projects which are to be implemented in a particular local community. Among the programs and projects covered are those that are critical to the environment and
  • 38. human ecology including those that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in the locality where these will be implemented.145 The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro people,146 which could pervasively and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a great number of inhabitants from their total environment. With respect to the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs), whose interests are represented herein by petitioner Lopez and are adversely affected by the MOA-AD, the ICCs/IPs have, under the IPRA, the right to participate fully at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies.147 The MOA-AD, an instrument recognizing ancestral domain, failed to justify its non-compliance with the clear-cut mechanisms ordained in said Act,148 which entails, among other things, the observance of the free and prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs. Notably, the IPRA does not grant the Executive Department or any government agency the power to delineate and recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or compromise. The recognition of the ancestral domain is the raison d'etre of the MOA-AD, without which all other stipulations or "consensus points" necessarily must fail. In proceeding to make a sweeping declaration on ancestral domain, without complying with the IPRA, which is cited as one of the TOR of the MOA-AD, respondents clearly transcended the boundaries of their authority. As it seems, even the heart of the MOA-AD is still subject to necessary changes to the legal framework. While paragraph 7 on Governance suspends the effectivity of all provisions requiring changes to the legal framework, such clause is itself invalid, as will be discussed in the following section. Indeed, ours is an open society, with all the acts of the government subject to public scrutiny and available always to public cognizance. This has to be so if the country is to remain democratic, with sovereignty residing in the people and all government authority emanating from them.149 ON THE SECOND SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE With regard to the provisions of the MOA-AD, there can be no question that they cannot all be accommodated under the present Constitution and laws. Respondents have admitted as much in the oral arguments before this Court, and the MOA-AD itself recognizes the need to amend the existing legal framework to render effective at least some of its provisions. Respondents, nonetheless, counter that the MOA-AD is free of any legal infirmity because any provisions therein which are inconsistent with the present legal framework will not be effective until the necessary changes to that framework are made. The validity of this argument will be considered later. For now, the Court shall pass upon how The MOA-AD is inconsistent with the Constitution and laws as presently worded.
  • 39. In general, the objections against the MOA-AD center on the extent of the powers conceded therein to the BJE. Petitioners assert that the powers granted to the BJE exceed those granted to any local government under present laws, and even go beyond those of the present ARMM. Before assessing some of the specific powers that would have been vested in the BJE, however, it would be useful to turn first to a general idea that serves as a unifying link to the different provisions of the MOA-AD, namely, the international law concept of association. Significantly, the MOA-AD explicitly alludes to this concept, indicating that the Parties actually framed its provisions with it in mind. Association is referred to in paragraph 3 on TERRITORY, paragraph 11 on RESOURCES, and paragraph 4 on GOVERNANCE. It is in the last mentioned provision, however, that the MOA-AD most clearly uses it to describe theenvisioned relationship between the BJE and the Central Government. 4. The relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro juridical entity shall beassociative characterized by shared authority and responsibility with a structure of governance based on executive, legislative, judicial and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the comprehensive compact. A period of transition shall be established in a comprehensive peace compact specifying the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) The nature of the "associative" relationship may have been intended to be defined more precisely in the still to be forged Comprehensive Compact. Nonetheless, given that there is a concept of "association" in international law, and the MOA-AD - by its inclusion of international law instruments in its TOR- placed itself in an international legal context, that concept of association may be brought to bear in understanding the use of the term "associative" in the MOA-AD. Keitner and Reisman state that [a]n association is formed when two states of unequal power voluntarily establish durable links. In the basic model, one state, the associate, delegates certain responsibilities to the other, the principal, while maintaining its international status as a state. Free associations represent a middle ground between integration and independence. x x x150 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) For purposes of illustration, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), formerly part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands,151 are associated states of the U.S. pursuant to a Compact of Free Association. The currency in these countries is the U.S. dollar, indicating their very close ties with the U.S., yet they issue their own travel documents, which is a mark of their statehood. Their international legal status as states was confirmed by the UN Security Council and by their admission to UN membership.
  • 40. According to their compacts of free association, the Marshall Islands and the FSM generally have the capacity to conduct foreign affairs in their own name and right, such capacity extending to matters such as the law of the sea, marine resources, trade, banking, postal, civil aviation, and cultural relations. The U.S. government, when conducting its foreign affairs, is obligated to consult with the governments of the Marshall Islands or the FSM on matters which it (U.S. government) regards as relating to or affecting either government. In the event of attacks or threats against the Marshall Islands or the FSM, the U.S. government has the authority and obligation to defend them as if they were part of U.S. territory. The U.S. government, moreover, has the option of establishing and using military areas and facilities within these associated states and has the right to bar the military personnel of any third country from having access to these territories for military purposes. It bears noting that in U.S. constitutional and international practice, free association is understood as an international association between sovereigns. The Compact of Free Association is a treaty which is subordinate to the associated nation's national constitution, and each party may terminate the association consistent with the right of independence. It has been said that, with the admission of the U.S.-associated states to the UN in 1990, the UN recognized that the American model of free association is actually based on an underlying status of independence.152 In international practice, the "associated state" arrangement has usually been used as a transitional device of former colonies on their way to full independence. Examples of states that have passed through the status of associated states as a transitional phase are Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada. All have since become independent states.153 Back to the MOA-AD, it contains many provisions which are consistent with the international legal concept ofassociation, specifically the following: the BJE's capacity to enter into economic and trade relations with foreign countries, the commitment of the Central Government to ensure the BJE's participation in meetings and events in the ASEAN and the specialized UN agencies, and the continuing responsibility of the Central Government over external defense. Moreover, the BJE's right to participate in Philippine official missions bearing on negotiation of border agreements, environmental protection, and sharing of revenues pertaining to the bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain, resembles the right of the governments of FSM and the Marshall Islands to be consulted by the U.S. government on any foreign affairs matter affecting them. These provisions of the MOA indicate, among other things, that the Parties aimed to vest in the BJE the status of an associated state or, at any rate, a status closely approximating it. The concept of association is not recognized under the present Constitution
  • 41. No province, city, or municipality, not even the ARMM, is recognized under our laws as having an "associative" relationship with the national government. Indeed, the concept implies powers that go beyond anything ever granted by the Constitution to any local or regional government. It also implies the recognition of the associated entity as a state. The Constitution, however, does not contemplate any state in this jurisdiction other than the Philippine State, much less does it provide for a transitory status that aims to prepare any part of Philippine territory for independence. Even the mere concept animating many of the MOA-AD's provisions, therefore, already requires for its validity the amendment of constitutional provisions, specifically the following provisions of Article X: SECTION 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided. SECTION 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. The BJE is a far more powerful entity than the autonomous region recognized in the Constitution It is not merely an expanded version of the ARMM, the status of its relationship with the national government being fundamentally different from that of the ARMM. Indeed, BJE is a state in all but name as it meets the criteria of a state laid down in the Montevideo Convention,154 namely, a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and a capacity to enter into relations with other states. Even assuming arguendo that the MOA-AD would not necessarily sever any portion of Philippine territory, the spirit animating it - which has betrayed itself by its use of the concept of association - runs counter to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic. The defining concept underlying the relationship between the national government and the BJE being itself contrary to the present Constitution, it is not surprising that many of the specific provisions of the MOA-AD on the formation and powers of the BJE are in conflict with the Constitution and the laws.
  • 42. Article X, Section 18 of the Constitution provides that "[t]he creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region." (Emphasis supplied) As reflected above, the BJE is more of a state than an autonomous region. But even assuming that it is covered by the term "autonomous region" in the constitutional provision just quoted, the MOA-AD would still be in conflict with it. Under paragraph 2(c) on TERRITORY in relation to 2(d) and 2(e), the present geographic area of the ARMM and, in addition, the municipalities of Lanao del Norte which voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite - Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal - are automatically part of the BJE without need of another plebiscite, in contrast to the areas under Categories A and B mentioned earlier in the overview. That the present components of the ARMM and the above-mentioned municipalities voted for inclusion therein in 2001, however, does not render another plebiscite unnecessary under the Constitution, precisely because what these areas voted for then was their inclusion in the ARMM, not the BJE. The MOA-AD, moreover, would not comply with Article X, Section 20 of the Constitution since that provision defines the powers of autonomous regions as follows: SECTION 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over: (1) Administrative organization; (2) Creation of sources of revenues; (3) Ancestral domain and natural resources; (4) Personal, family, and property relations; (5) Regional urban and rural planning development; (6) Economic, social, and tourism development; (7) Educational policies; (8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and (9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region. (Underscoring supplied) Again on the premise that the BJE may be regarded as an autonomous region, the MOA-AD would require an amendment that would expand the above-quoted provision. The mere passage of new legislation pursuant to sub-paragraph No. 9 of said constitutional provision would not suffice, since any
  • 43. new law that might vest in the BJE the powers found in the MOA-AD must, itself, comply with other provisions of the Constitution. It would not do, for instance, to merely pass legislation vesting the BJE with treaty-making power in order to accommodate paragraph 4 of the strand on RESOURCES which states: "The BJE is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries: provided, however, that such relationships and understandings do not include aggression against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines x x x." Under our constitutional system, it is only the President who has that power. Pimentel v. Executive Secretary155 instructs: In our system of government, the President, being the head of state, is regarded as the sole organ and authority in external relations and is the country's sole representative with foreign nations. As the chief architect of foreign policy, the President acts as the country's mouthpiece with respect to international affairs. Hence, the President is vested with the authority to deal with foreign states and governments, extend or withhold recognition, maintain diplomatic relations, enter into treaties, and otherwise transact the business of foreign relations. In the realm of treaty-making, the President has the sole authority to negotiate with other states. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Article II, Section 22 of the Constitution must also be amended if the scheme envisioned in the MOA-AD is to be effected. That constitutional provision states: "The State recognizes and promotes the rights ofindigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development." (Underscoring supplied)An associative arrangement does not uphold national unity. While there may be a semblance of unity because of the associative ties between the BJE and the national government, the act of placing a portion of Philippine territory in a status which, in international practice, has generally been a preparation for independence, is certainly not conducive to national unity. Besides being irreconcilable with the Constitution, the MOA-AD is also inconsistent with prevailing statutory law, among which are R.A. No. 9054156 or the Organic Act of the ARMM, and the IPRA.157 Article X, Section 3 of the Organic Act of the ARMM is a bar to the adoption of the definition of "Bangsamoro people" used in the MOA-AD. Paragraph 1 on Concepts and Principles states: 1. It is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as "Bangsamoros". The Bangsamoro people refers to those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization of its descendants whether mixed or of full blood. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
  • 44. This use of the term Bangsamoro sharply contrasts with that found in the Article X, Section 3 of the Organic Act, which, rather than lumping together the identities of the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples living in Mindanao, clearly distinguishes between Bangsamoro people and Tribal peoples, as follows: "As used in this Organic Act, the phrase "indigenous cultural community" refers to Filipino citizens residing in the autonomous region who are: (a) Tribal peoples. These are citizens whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sectors of the national community; and (b) Bangsa Moro people. These are citizens who are believers in Islam and who have retained some or all of their own social, economic, cultural, and political institutions." Respecting the IPRA, it lays down the prevailing procedure for the delineation and recognition of ancestral domains. The MOA-AD's manner of delineating the ancestral domain of the Bangsamoro people is a clear departure from that procedure. By paragraph 1 of Territory, the Parties simply agree that, subject to the delimitations in the agreed Schedules, "[t]he Bangsamoro homeland and historic territory refer to the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain, the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region." Chapter VIII of the IPRA, on the other hand, lays down a detailed procedure, as illustrated in the following provisions thereof: SECTION 52. Delineation Process. - The identification and delineation of ancestral domains shall be done in accordance with the following procedures: x x x x b) Petition for Delineation. - The process of delineating a specific perimeter may be initiated by the NCIP with the consent of the ICC/IP concerned, or through a Petition for Delineation filed with the NCIP, by a majority of the members of the ICCs/IPs; c) Delineation Proper. - The official delineation of ancestral domain boundaries including census of all community members therein, shall be immediately undertaken by the Ancestral Domains Office upon filing of the application by the ICCs/IPs concerned. Delineation will be done in coordination with the community concerned and shall at all times include genuine involvement and participation by the members of the communities concerned;
  • 45. d) Proof Required. - Proof of Ancestral Domain Claims shall include the testimony of elders or community under oath, and other documents directly or indirectly attesting to the possession or occupation of the area since time immemorial by such ICCs/IPs in the concept of owners which shall be any one (1) of the following authentic documents: 1) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs customs and traditions; 2) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs political structure and institution; 3) Pictures showing long term occupation such as those of old improvements, burial grounds, sacred places and old villages; 4) Historical accounts, including pacts and agreements concerning boundaries entered into by the ICCs/IPs concerned with other ICCs/IPs; 5) Survey plans and sketch maps; 6) Anthropological data; 7) Genealogical surveys; 8) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional communal forests and hunting grounds; 9) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional landmarks such as mountains, rivers, creeks, ridges, hills, terraces and the like; and 10) Write-ups of names and places derived from the native dialect of the community. e) Preparation of Maps. - On the basis of such investigation and the findings of fact based thereon, the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP shall prepare a perimeter map, complete with technical descriptions, and a description of the natural features and landmarks embraced therein; f) Report of Investigation and Other Documents. - A complete copy of the preliminary census and a report of investigation, shall be prepared by the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP; g) Notice and Publication. - A copy of each document, including a translation in the native language of the ICCs/IPs concerned shall be posted in a prominent place therein for at least fifteen (15) days. A copy of the document shall also be posted at the local, provincial and regional offices of the NCIP, and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks to allow other claimants to file opposition thereto within fifteen (15) days from date of such publication: Provided, That in areas where no such newspaper exists, broadcasting in a radio station will be a valid substitute: Provided, further, That mere posting shall be deemed sufficient if both newspaper and radio station are not available; h) Endorsement to NCIP. - Within fifteen (15) days from publication, and of the inspection process, the Ancestral Domains Office shall prepare a report to the NCIP endorsing a favorable action upon a claim that is deemed to have sufficient proof. However, if the proof is deemed insufficient, the Ancestral Domains Office shall require the submission of additional evidence: Provided, That the
  • 46. Ancestral Domains Office shall reject any claim that is deemed patently false or fraudulent after inspection and verification: Provided, further, That in case of rejection, the Ancestral Domains Office shall give the applicant due notice, copy furnished all concerned, containing the grounds for denial. The denial shall be appealable to the NCIP: Provided, furthermore, That in cases where there are conflicting claims among ICCs/IPs on the boundaries of ancestral domain claims, the Ancestral Domains Office shall cause the contending parties to meet and assist them in coming up with a preliminary resolution of the conflict, without prejudice to its full adjudication according to the section below. x x x x To remove all doubts about the irreconcilability of the MOA-AD with the present legal system, a discussion of not only the Constitution and domestic statutes, but also of international law is in order, for Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states that the Philippines "adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land." Applying this provision of the Constitution, the Court, in Mejoff v. Director of Prisons,158 held that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is part of the law of the land on account of which it ordered the release on bail of a detained alien of Russian descent whose deportation order had not been executed even after two years. Similarly, the Court in Agustin v. Edu159 applied the aforesaid constitutional provision to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals. International law has long recognized the right to self-determination of "peoples," understood not merely as the entire population of a State but also a portion thereof. In considering the question of whether the people of Quebec had a right to unilaterally secede from Canada, the Canadian Supreme Court in REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC160 had occasion to acknowledge that "the right of a people to self-determination is now so widely recognized in international conventions that the principle has acquired a status beyond ‘convention' and is considered a general principle of international law." Among the conventions referred to are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights161 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights162 which state, in Article 1 of both covenants, that all peoples, by virtue of the right of self-determination, "freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development." The people's right to self-determination should not, however, be understood as extending to a unilateral right of secession. A distinction should be made between the right of internal and external self- determination. REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC is again instructive:
  • 47. "(ii) Scope of the Right to Self-determination 126. The recognized sources of international law establish that the right to self-determination of a people is normally fulfilled through internal self-determination - a people's pursuit of its political, economic, social and cultural development within the framework of an existing state. A right toexternal self-determination (which in this case potentially takes the form of the assertion of a right to unilateral secession) arises in only the most extreme of cases and, even then, under carefully defined circumstances. x x x External self-determination can be defined as in the following statement from the Declaration on Friendly Relations, supra, as The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by apeople constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people. (Emphasis added) 127. The international law principle of self-determination has evolved within a framework of respect for the territorial integrity of existing states. The various international documents that support the existence of a people's right to self-determination also contain parallel statements supportive of the conclusion that the exercise of such a right must be sufficiently limited to prevent threats to an existing state's territorial integrity or the stability of relations between sovereign states. x x x x (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied) The Canadian Court went on to discuss the exceptional cases in which the right to external self- determination can arise, namely, where a people is under colonial rule, is subject to foreign domination or exploitation outside a colonial context, and - less definitely but asserted by a number of commentators - is blocked from the meaningful exercise of its right to internal self-determination. The Court ultimately held that the population of Quebec had no right to secession, as the same is not under colonial rule or foreign domination, nor is it being deprived of the freedom to make political choices and pursue economic, social and cultural development, citing that Quebec is equitably represented in legislative, executive and judicial institutions within Canada, even occupying prominent positions therein. The exceptional nature of the right of secession is further exemplified in the REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF JURISTS ON THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF THE AALAND ISLANDS QUESTION.163 There, Sweden presented to the Council of the League of Nations the question of whether the inhabitants of the Aaland Islands should be authorized to determine by plebiscite if the archipelago
  • 48. should remain under Finnish sovereignty or be incorporated in the kingdom of Sweden. The Council, before resolving the question, appointed an International Committee composed of three jurists to submit an opinion on the preliminary issue of whether the dispute should, based on international law, be entirely left to the domestic jurisdiction of Finland. The Committee stated the rule as follows: x x x [I]n the absence of express provisions in international treaties, the right of disposing of national territory is essentially an attribute of the sovereignty of every State. Positive International Law does not recognize the right of national groups, as such, to separate themselves from the State of which they form part by the simple expression of a wish, any more than it recognizes the right of other States to claim such a separation. Generally speaking, the grant or refusal of the right to a portion of its population of determining its own political fate by plebiscite or by some other method, is, exclusively, an attribute of the sovereignty of every State which is definitively constituted. A dispute between two States concerning such a question, under normal conditions therefore, bears upon a question which International Law leaves entirely to the domestic jurisdiction of one of the States concerned. Any other solution would amount to an infringement of sovereign rights of a State and would involve the risk of creating difficulties and a lack of stability which would not only be contrary to the very idea embodied in term "State," but would also endanger the interests of the international community. If this right is not possessed by a large or small section of a nation, neither can it be held by the State to which the national group wishes to be attached, nor by any other State. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) The Committee held that the dispute concerning the Aaland Islands did not refer to a question which is left by international law to the domestic jurisdiction of Finland, thereby applying the exception rather than the rule elucidated above. Its ground for departing from the general rule, however, was a very narrow one, namely, the Aaland Islands agitation originated at a time when Finland was undergoing drastic political transformation. The internal situation of Finland was, according to the Committee, so abnormal that, for a considerable time, the conditions required for the formation of a sovereign State did not exist. In the midst of revolution, anarchy, and civil war, the legitimacy of the Finnish national government was disputed by a large section of the people, and it had, in fact, been chased from the capital and forcibly prevented from carrying out its duties. The armed camps and the police were divided into two opposing forces. In light of these circumstances, Finland was not, during the relevant time period, a "definitively constituted" sovereign state. The Committee, therefore, found that Finland did not possess the right to withhold from a portion of its population the option to separate itself - a right which sovereign nations generally have with respect to their own populations. Turning now to the more specific category of indigenous peoples, this term has been used, in scholarship as well as international, regional, and state practices, to refer to groups with distinct cultures, histories,
  • 49. and connections to land (spiritual and otherwise) that have been forcibly incorporated into a larger governing society. These groups are regarded as "indigenous" since they are the living descendants of pre-invasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others. Otherwise stated, indigenous peoples, nations, or communities are culturally distinctive groups that find themselves engulfed by settler societies born of the forces of empire and conquest.164 Examples of groups who have been regarded as indigenous peoples are the Maori of New Zealand and the aboriginal peoples of Canada. As with the broader category of "peoples," indigenous peoples situated within states do not have a general right to independence or secession from those states under international law,165 but they do have rights amounting to what was discussed above as the right to internal self-determination. In a historic development last September 13, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) through General Assembly Resolution 61/295. The vote was 143 to 4, the Philippines being included among those in favor, and the four voting against being Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. The Declaration clearly recognized the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination, encompassing the right to autonomy or self- government, to wit: Article 3 Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Article 4 Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions. Article 5 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State. Self-government, as used in international legal discourse pertaining to indigenous peoples, has been understood as equivalent to "internal self-determination."166 The extent of self-determination provided for in the UN DRIP is more particularly defined in its subsequent articles, some of which are quoted hereunder: Article 8 1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
  • 50. 2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities; (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; (c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights; (d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration; (e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them. Article 21 1. Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security. 2. States shall take effective measures and, where appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities. Article 26 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired. 3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned. Article 30
  • 51. 1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned. 2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities. Article 32 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. 2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. 3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact. Article 37 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. 2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. Article 38 States in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration. Assuming that the UN DRIP, like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, must now be regarded as embodying customary international law - a question which the Court need not definitively resolve here - the obligations enumerated therein do not strictly require the Republic to grant the Bangsamoro people,
  • 52. through the instrumentality of the BJE, the particular rights and powers provided for in the MOA-AD. Even the more specific provisions of the UN DRIP are general in scope, allowing for flexibility in its application by the different States. There is, for instance, no requirement in the UN DRIP that States now guarantee indigenous peoples their own police and internal security force. Indeed, Article 8 presupposes that it is the State which will provide protection for indigenous peoples against acts like the forced dispossession of their lands - a function that is normally performed by police officers. If the protection of a right so essential to indigenous people's identity is acknowledged to be the responsibility of the State, then surely the protection of rights less significant to them as such peoples would also be the duty of States. Nor is there in the UN DRIP an acknowledgement of the right of indigenous peoples to the aerial domain and atmospheric space. What it upholds, in Article 26 thereof, is the right of indigenous peoples to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired. Moreover, the UN DRIP, while upholding the right of indigenous peoples to autonomy, does not obligate States to grant indigenous peoples the near-independent status of an associated state. All the rights recognized in that document are qualified in Article 46 as follows: 1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations orconstrued as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States. Even if the UN DRIP were considered as part of the law of the land pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, it would not suffice to uphold the validity of the MOA-AD so as to render its compliance with other laws unnecessary. It is, therefore, clear that the MOA-AD contains numerous provisions that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution and the laws as presently worded. Respondents proffer, however, that the signing of the MOA-AD alone would not have entailed any violation of law or grave abuse of discretion on their part, precisely because it stipulates that the provisions thereof inconsistent with the laws shall not take effect until these laws are amended. They cite paragraph 7 of the MOA-AD strand on GOVERNANCE quoted earlier, but which is reproduced below for convenience: 7. The Parties agree that the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA-AD shall be spelt out in the Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively.
  • 53. Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. Indeed, the foregoing stipulation keeps many controversial provisions of the MOA-AD from coming into force until the necessary changes to the legal framework are effected. While the word "Constitution" is not mentioned in the provision now under consideration or anywhere else in the MOA-AD, the term "legal framework" is certainly broad enough to include the Constitution. Notwithstanding the suspensive clause, however, respondents, by their mere act of incorporating in the MOA-AD the provisions thereof regarding the associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government, have already violated the Memorandum of Instructions From The President dated March 1, 2001, which states that the "negotiations shall be conducted in accordance with x x x the principles of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines." (Emphasis supplied) Establishing an associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government is, for the reasons already discussed, a preparation for independence, or worse, an implicit acknowledgment of an independent status already prevailing. Even apart from the above-mentioned Memorandum, however, the MOA-AD is defective because the suspensive clause is invalid, as discussed below. The authority of the GRP Peace Negotiating Panel to negotiate with the MILF is founded on E.O. No. 3, Section 5(c), which states that there shall be established Government Peace Negotiating Panels for negotiations with different rebel groups to be "appointed by the President as her official emissaries to conduct negotiations, dialogues, and face-to-face discussions with rebel groups." These negotiating panels are to report to the President, through the PAPP on the conduct and progress of the negotiations. It bears noting that the GRP Peace Panel, in exploring lasting solutions to the Moro Problem through its negotiations with the MILF, was not restricted by E.O. No. 3 only to those options available under the laws as they presently stand. One of the components of a comprehensive peace process, which E.O. No. 3 collectively refers to as the "Paths to Peace," is the pursuit of social, economic, and political reforms which may require new legislation or even constitutional amendments. Sec. 4(a) of E.O. No. 3, which reiterates Section 3(a), of E.O. No. 125,167 states: SECTION 4. The Six Paths to Peace. - The components of the comprehensive peace process comprise the processes known as the "Paths to Peace". These component processes are interrelated and not mutually exclusive, and must therefore be pursued simultaneously in a coordinated and integrated fashion. They shall include, but may not be limited to, the following:
  • 54. a. PURSUIT OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REFORMS. This component involves the vigorous implementation of various policies, reforms, programs and projects aimed at addressing the root causes of internal armed conflicts and social unrest. This may require administrative action, new legislation or even constitutional amendments. x x x x (Emphasis supplied) The MOA-AD, therefore, may reasonably be perceived as an attempt of respondents to address, pursuant to this provision of E.O. No. 3, the root causes of the armed conflict in Mindanao. The E.O. authorized them to "think outside the box," so to speak. Hence, they negotiated and were set on signing the MOA- AD that included various social, economic, and political reforms which cannot, however, all be accommodated within the present legal framework, and which thus would require new legislation and constitutional amendments. The inquiry on the legality of the "suspensive clause," however, cannot stop here, because it must be askedwhether the President herself may exercise the power delegated to the GRP Peace Panel under E.O. No. 3, Sec. 4(a). The President cannot delegate a power that she herself does not possess. May the President, in the course of peace negotiations, agree to pursue reforms that would require new legislation and constitutional amendments, or should the reforms be restricted only to those solutions which the present laws allow? The answer to this question requires a discussion of the extent of the President's power to conduct peace negotiations. That the authority of the President to conduct peace negotiations with rebel groups is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution does not mean that she has no such authority. In Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary,168 in issue was the authority of the President to declare a state of rebellion - an authority which is not expressly provided for in the Constitution. The Court held thus: "In her ponencia in Marcos v. Manglapus, Justice Cortes put her thesis into jurisprudence. There, the Court, by a slim 8-7 margin, upheld the President's power to forbid the return of her exiled predecessor. The rationale for the majority's ruling rested on the President's . . . unstated residual powers which are implied from the grant of executive power and which are necessary for her to comply with her duties under the Constitution. The powers of the President are not limited to what are expressly enumerated in the article on the Executive Department and in scattered provisions of the Constitution. This is so, notwithstanding the avowed intent of the members of the Constitutional Commission of 1986 to limit the powers of the President as a reaction to the abuses under the regime of
  • 55. Mr. Marcos, for the result was a limitation of specific powers of the President, particularly those relating to the commander-in-chief clause, but not a diminution of the general grant of executive power. Thus, the President's authority to declare a state of rebellion springs in the main from her powers as chief executive and, at the same time, draws strength from her Commander-in- Chief powers. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Similarly, the President's power to conduct peace negotiations is implicitly included in her powers as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief. As Chief Executive, the President has the general responsibility to promote public peace, and as Commander-in-Chief, she has the more specific duty to prevent and suppress rebellion and lawless violence.169 As the experience of nations which have similarly gone through internal armed conflict will show, however, peace is rarely attained by simply pursuing a military solution. Oftentimes, changes as far- reaching as a fundamental reconfiguration of the nation's constitutional structure is required. The observations of Dr. Kirsti Samuels are enlightening, to wit: x x x [T]he fact remains that a successful political and governance transition must form the core of any post-conflict peace-building mission. As we have observed in Liberia and Haiti over the last ten years, conflict cessation without modification of the political environment, even where state- building is undertaken through technical electoral assistance and institution- or capacity-building, is unlikely to succeed. On average, more than 50 percent of states emerging from conflict return to conflict. Moreover, a substantial proportion of transitions have resulted in weak or limited democracies. The design of a constitution and its constitution-making process can play an important role in the political and governance transition. Constitution-making after conflict is an opportunity to create a common vision of the future of a state and a road map on how to get there. The constitution can be partly a peace agreement and partly a framework setting up the rules by which the new democracy will operate.170 In the same vein, Professor Christine Bell, in her article on the nature and legal status of peace agreements, observed that the typical way that peace agreements establish or confirm mechanisms for demilitarization and demobilization is by linking them to new constitutional structures addressing governance, elections, and legal and human rights institutions.171 In the Philippine experience, the link between peace agreements and constitution-making has been recognized by no less than the framers of the Constitution. Behind the provisions of the Constitution on
  • 56. autonomous regions172 is the framers' intention to implement a particular peace agreement, namely, the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 between the GRP and the MNLF, signed by then Undersecretary of National Defense Carmelo Z. Barbero and then MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari. MR. ROMULO. There are other speakers; so, although I have some more questions, I will reserve my right to ask them if they are not covered by the other speakers. I have only two questions. I heard one of the Commissioners say that local autonomy already exists in the Muslim region; it is working very well; it has, in fact, diminished a great deal of the problems. So, my question is: since that already exists, why do we have to go into something new? MR. OPLE. May I answer that on behalf of Chairman Nolledo. Commissioner Yusup Abubakar is right thatcertain definite steps have been taken to implement the provisions of the Tripoli Agreement with respect to an autonomous region in Mindanao. This is a good first step, but there is no question that this is merely a partial response to the Tripoli Agreement itself and to the fuller standard of regional autonomy contemplated in that agreement, and now by state policy.173 (Emphasis supplied) The constitutional provisions on autonomy and the statutes enacted pursuant to them have, to the credit of their drafters, been partly successful. Nonetheless, the Filipino people are still faced with the reality of an on-going conflict between the Government and the MILF. If the President is to be expected to find means for bringing this conflict to an end and to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao, then she must be given the leeway to explore, in the course of peace negotiations, solutions that may require changes to the Constitution for their implementation. Being uniquely vested with the power to conduct peace negotiations with rebel groups, the President is in a singular position to know the precise nature of their grievances which, if resolved, may bring an end to hostilities. The President may not, of course, unilaterally implement the solutions that she considers viable, but she may not be prevented from submitting them as recommendations to Congress, which could then, if it is minded, act upon them pursuant to the legal procedures for constitutional amendment and revision. In particular, Congress would have the option, pursuant to Article XVII, Sections 1 and 3 of the Constitution, to propose the recommended amendments or revision to the people, call a constitutional convention, or submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention. While the President does not possess constituent powers - as those powers may be exercised only by Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people through initiative and referendum - she may submit proposals for constitutional change to Congress in a manner that does not involve the arrogation of constituent powers.
  • 57. In Sanidad v. COMELEC,174 in issue was the legality of then President Marcos' act of directly submitting proposals for constitutional amendments to a referendum, bypassing the interim National Assembly which was the body vested by the 1973 Constitution with the power to propose such amendments. President Marcos, it will be recalled, never convened the interim National Assembly. The majority upheld the President's act, holding that "the urges of absolute necessity" compelled the President as the agent of the people to act as he did, there being no interim National Assembly to propose constitutional amendments. Against this ruling, Justices Teehankee and Muñoz Palma vigorously dissented. The Court's concern at present, however, is not with regard to the point on which it was then divided in that controversial case, but on that which was not disputed by either side. Justice Teehankee's dissent,175 in particular, bears noting. While he disagreed that the President may directly submit proposed constitutional amendments to a referendum, implicit in his opinion is a recognition that he would have upheld the President's action along with the majority had the President convened the interim National Assembly and coursed his proposals through it. Thus Justice Teehankee opined: "Since the Constitution provides for the organization of the essential departments of government, defines and delimits the powers of each and prescribes the manner of the exercise of such powers, and the constituent power has not been granted to but has been withheld from the President or Prime Minister, it follows that the President's questioned decrees proposing and submitting constitutional amendments directly to the people (without the intervention of the interim National Assembly in whom the power is expressly vested) are devoid of constitutional and legal basis."176 (Emphasis supplied) From the foregoing discussion, the principle may be inferred that the President - in the course of conducting peace negotiations - may validly consider implementing even those policies that require changes to the Constitution, but she may not unilaterally implement them without the intervention of Congress, or act in any way as if the assent of that body were assumed as a certainty. Since, under the present Constitution, the people also have the power to directly propose amendments through initiative and referendum, the President may also submit her recommendations to the people, not as a formal proposal to be voted on in a plebiscite similar to what President Marcos did in Sanidad, but for their independent consideration of whether these recommendations merit being formally proposed through initiative. These recommendations, however, may amount to nothing more than the President's suggestions to the people, for any further involvement in the process of initiative by the Chief Executive may vitiate its character as a genuine "people's initiative." The only initiative recognized by the Constitution is that which truly proceeds from the people. As the Court stated in Lambino v. COMELEC:177
  • 58. "The Lambino Group claims that their initiative is the ‘people's voice.' However, the Lambino Group unabashedly states in ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02, in the verification of their petition with the COMELEC, that ‘ULAP maintains its unqualified support to the agenda of Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for constitutional reforms.' The Lambino Group thus admits that their ‘people's' initiative is an ‘unqualified support to the agenda' of the incumbent President to change the Constitution. This forewarns the Court to be wary of incantations of ‘people's voice' or ‘sovereign will' in the present initiative." It will be observed that the President has authority, as stated in her oath of office,178 only to preserve and defend the Constitution. Such presidential power does not, however, extend to allowing her to change the Constitution, but simply to recommend proposed amendments or revision. As long as she limits herself to recommending these changes and submits to the proper procedure for constitutional amendments and revision, her mere recommendation need not be construed as an unconstitutional act. The foregoing discussion focused on the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments, since her authority to propose new legislation is not in controversy. It has been an accepted practice for Presidents in this jurisdiction to propose new legislation. One of the more prominent instances the practice is usually done is in the yearly State of the Nation Address of the President to Congress. Moreover, the annual general appropriations bill has always been based on the budget prepared by the President, which - for all intents and purposes - is a proposal for new legislation coming from the President.179 The "suspensive clause" in the MOA-AD viewed in light of the above-discussed standards Given the limited nature of the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments, she cannot guarantee to any third party that the required amendments will eventually be put in place, nor even be submitted to a plebiscite. The most she could do is submit these proposals as recommendations either to Congress or the people, in whom constituent powers are vested. Paragraph 7 on Governance of the MOA-AD states, however, that all provisions thereof which cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws "shall come into force upon signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework." This stipulation does not bear the marks of a suspensive condition - defined in civil law as a future and uncertain event - but of a term. It is not a question of whether the necessary changes to the legal framework will be effected, but when. That there is no uncertainty being contemplated is plain from what follows, for the paragraph goes on to state that the contemplated changes shall be "with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact."
  • 59. Pursuant to this stipulation, therefore, it is mandatory for the GRP to effect the changes to the legal framework contemplated in the MOA-AD - which changes would include constitutional amendments, as discussed earlier. It bears noting that, By the time these changes are put in place, the MOA-AD itself would be counted among the "prior agreements" from which there could be no derogation. What remains for discussion in the Comprehensive Compact would merely be the implementing details for these "consensus points" and, notably, the deadline for effecting the contemplated changes to the legal framework. Plainly, stipulation-paragraph 7 on GOVERNANCE is inconsistent with the limits of the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments, it being a virtual guarantee that the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of the Philippines will certainly be adjusted to conform to all the "consensus points" found in the MOA-AD.Hence, it must be struck down as unconstitutional. A comparison between the "suspensive clause" of the MOA-AD with a similar provision appearing in the 1996 final peace agreement between the MNLF and the GRP is most instructive. As a backdrop, the parties to the 1996 Agreement stipulated that it would be implemented in two phases. Phase Icovered a three-year transitional period involving the putting up of new administrative structures through Executive Order, such as the Special Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD) and the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), while Phase II covered the establishment of the new regional autonomous government through amendment or repeal of R.A. No. 6734, which was then the Organic Act of the ARMM. The stipulations on Phase II consisted of specific agreements on the structure of the expanded autonomous region envisioned by the parties. To that extent, they are similar to the provisions of the MOA-AD. There is, however, a crucial difference between the two agreements. While the MOA- AD virtually guarantees that the "necessary changes to the legal framework" will be put in place, the GRP-MNLF final peace agreement states thus: "Accordingly, these provisions [on Phase II] shall be recommended by the GRP to Congress for incorporation in the amendatory or repealing law." Concerns have been raised that the MOA-AD would have given rise to a binding international law obligation on the part of the Philippines to change its Constitution in conformity thereto, on the ground that it may be considered either as a binding agreement under international law, or a unilateral declaration of the Philippine government to the international community that it would grant to the Bangsamoro people all the concessions therein stated. Neither ground finds sufficient support in international law, however.
  • 60. The MOA-AD, as earlier mentioned in the overview thereof, would have included foreign dignitaries as signatories. In addition, representatives of other nations were invited to witness its signing in Kuala Lumpur. These circumstances readily lead one to surmise that the MOA-AD would have had the status of a binding international agreement had it been signed. An examination of the prevailing principles in international law, however, leads to the contrary conclusion. The Decision on Challenge to Jurisdiction: Lomé Accord Amnesty180 (the Lomé Accord case) of the Special Court of Sierra Leone is enlightening. The Lomé Accord was a peace agreement signed on July 7, 1999 between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group with which the Sierra Leone Government had been in armed conflict for around eight years at the time of signing. There were non-contracting signatories to the agreement, among which were the Government of the Togolese Republic, the Economic Community of West African States, and the UN. On January 16, 2002, after a successful negotiation between the UN Secretary-General and the Sierra Leone Government, another agreement was entered into by the UN and that Government whereby the Special Court of Sierra Leone was established. The sole purpose of the Special Court, an international court, was to try persons who bore the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996. Among the stipulations of the Lomé Accord was a provision for the full pardon of the members of the RUF with respect to anything done by them in pursuit of their objectives as members of that organization since the conflict began. In the Lomé Accord case, the Defence argued that the Accord created an internationally binding obligation not to prosecute the beneficiaries of the amnesty provided therein, citing, among other things, the participation of foreign dignitaries and international organizations in the finalization of that agreement. The Special Court, however, rejected this argument, ruling that the Lome Accord is not a treaty and that it can only create binding obligations and rights between the parties in municipal law, not in international law. Hence, the Special Court held, it is ineffective in depriving an international court like it of jurisdiction. "37. In regard to the nature of a negotiated settlement of an internal armed conflict it is easy to assume and to argue with some degree of plausibility, as Defence counsel for the defendants seem to have done, that the mere fact that in addition to the parties to the conflict, the document formalizing the settlement is signed by foreign heads of state or their representatives and representatives of international organizations, means the agreement of the parties is internationalized so as to create obligations in international law.
  • 61. x x x x 40. Almost every conflict resolution will involve the parties to the conflict and the mediator or facilitator of the settlement, or persons or bodies under whose auspices the settlement took place but who are not at all parties to the conflict, are not contracting parties and who do not claim any obligation from the contracting parties or incur any obligation from the settlement. 41. In this case, the parties to the conflict are the lawful authority of the State and the RUF which has no status of statehood and is to all intents and purposes a faction within the state. The non-contracting signatories of the Lomé Agreement were moral guarantors of the principle that, in the terms of Article XXXIV of the Agreement, "this peace agreement is implemented with integrity and in good faith by both parties". The moral guarantors assumed no legal obligation. It is recalled that the UN by its representative appended, presumably for avoidance of doubt, an understanding of the extent of the agreement to be implemented as not including certain international crimes. 42. An international agreement in the nature of a treaty must create rights and obligations regulated by international law so that a breach of its terms will be a breach determined under international law which will also provide principle means of enforcement. The Lomé Agreement created neither rights nor obligations capable of being regulated by international law. An agreement such as the Lomé Agreement which brings to an end an internal armed conflict no doubt creates a factual situation of restoration of peace that the international community acting through the Security Council may take note of. That, however, will not convert it to an international agreement which creates an obligation enforceable in international, as distinguished from municipal, law. A breach of the terms of such a peace agreement resulting in resumption of internal armed conflict or creating a threat to peace in the determination of the Security Council may indicate a reversal of the factual situation of peace to be visited with possible legal consequences arising from the new situation of conflict created. Such consequences such as action by the Security Council pursuant to Chapter VII arise from the situation and not from the agreement, nor from the obligation imposed by it. Such action cannot be regarded as a remedy for the breach. A peace agreement which settles an internal armed conflict cannot be ascribed the same status as one which settles an international armed conflict which, essentially, must be between two or more warring States. The Lomé Agreement cannot be characterised as an international instrument. x x x" (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied) Similarly, that the MOA-AD would have been signed by representatives of States and international organizations not parties to the Agreement would not have sufficed to vest in it a binding character under international law.
  • 62. In another vein, concern has been raised that the MOA-AD would amount to a unilateral declaration of the Philippine State, binding under international law, that it would comply with all the stipulations stated therein, with the result that it would have to amend its Constitution accordingly regardless of the true will of the people. Cited as authority for this view is Australia v. France,181 also known as the Nuclear Tests Case, decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In the Nuclear Tests Case, Australia challenged before the ICJ the legality of France's nuclear tests in the South Pacific. France refused to appear in the case, but public statements from its President, and similar statements from other French officials including its Minister of Defence, that its 1974 series of atmospheric tests would be its last, persuaded the ICJ to dismiss the case.182 Those statements, the ICJ held, amounted to a legal undertaking addressed to the international community, which required no acceptance from other States for it to become effective. Essential to the ICJ ruling is its finding that the French government intended to be bound to the international community in issuing its public statements, viz: 43. It is well recognized that declarations made by way of unilateral acts, concerning legal or factual situations, may have the effect of creating legal obligations. Declarations of this kind may be, and often are, very specific. When it is the intention of the State making the declaration that it should become bound according to its terms, that intention confers on the declaration the character of a legal undertaking, the State being thenceforth legally required to follow a course of conduct consistent with the declaration. An undertaking of this kind, if given publicly, and with an intent to be bound, even though not made within the context of international negotiations, is binding. In these circumstances, nothing in the nature of a quid pro quo nor any subsequent acceptance of the declaration, nor even any reply or reaction from other States, is required for the declaration to take effect, since such a requirement would be inconsistent with the strictly unilateral nature of the juridical act by which the pronouncement by the State was made. 44. Of course, not all unilateral acts imply obligation; but a State may choose to take up a certain position in relation to a particular matter with the intention of being bound-the intention is to be ascertained by interpretation of the act. When States make statements by which their freedom of action is to be limited, a restrictive interpretation is called for. x x x x 51. In announcing that the 1974 series of atmospheric tests would be the last, the French Government conveyed to the world at large, including the Applicant, its intention effectively to terminate these tests. It was bound to assume that other States might take note of these
  • 63. statements and rely on their being effective. The validity of these statements and their legal consequences must be considered within the general framework of the security of international intercourse, and the confidence and trust which are so essential in the relations among States. It is from the actual substance of these statements, and from the circumstances attending their making, that the legal implications of the unilateral act must be deduced. The objects of these statements are clear and they were addressed to the international community as a whole, and the Court holds that they constitute an undertaking possessing legal effect. The Court considers *270 that the President of the Republic, in deciding upon the effective cessation of atmospheric tests, gave an undertaking to the international community to which his words were addressed. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) As gathered from the above-quoted ruling of the ICJ, public statements of a state representative may be construed as a unilateral declaration only when the following conditions are present: the statements were clearly addressed to the international community, the state intended to be bound to that community by its statements, and that not to give legal effect to those statements would be detrimental to the security of international intercourse. Plainly, unilateral declarations arise only in peculiar circumstances. The limited applicability of the Nuclear Tests Case ruling was recognized in a later case decided by the ICJ entitledBurkina Faso v. Mali,183 also known as the Case Concerning the Frontier Dispute. The public declaration subject of that case was a statement made by the President of Mali, in an interview by a foreign press agency, that Mali would abide by the decision to be issued by a commission of the Organization of African Unity on a frontier dispute then pending between Mali and Burkina Faso. Unlike in the Nuclear Tests Case, the ICJ held that the statement of Mali's President was not a unilateral act with legal implications. It clarified that its ruling in the Nuclear Tests case rested on the peculiar circumstances surrounding the French declaration subject thereof, to wit: 40. In order to assess the intentions of the author of a unilateral act, account must be taken of all the factual circumstances in which the act occurred. For example, in the Nuclear Tests cases, the Court took the view that since the applicant States were not the only ones concerned at the possible continuance of atmospheric testing by the French Government, that Government's unilateral declarations had ‘conveyed to the world at large, including the Applicant, its intention effectively to terminate these tests‘ (I.C.J. Reports 1974, p. 269, para. 51; p. 474, para. 53). In the particular circumstances of those cases, the French Government could not express an intention to be bound otherwise than by unilateral declarations. It is difficult to see how it could have accepted the terms of a negotiated solution with each of the applicants without thereby jeopardizing its contention that its conduct was lawful. The circumstances of the present case are radically different. Here, there was nothing to hinder the Parties from
  • 64. manifesting an intention to accept the binding character of the conclusions of the Organization of African Unity Mediation Commission by the normal method: a formal agreement on the basis of reciprocity. Since no agreement of this kind was concluded between the Parties, the Chamber finds that there are no grounds to interpret the declaration made by Mali's head of State on 11 April 1975 as a unilateral act with legal implications in regard to the present case. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Assessing the MOA-AD in light of the above criteria, it would not have amounted to a unilateral declaration on the part of the Philippine State to the international community. The Philippine panel did not draft the same with the clear intention of being bound thereby to the international community as a whole or to any State, but only to the MILF. While there were States and international organizations involved, one way or another, in the negotiation and projected signing of the MOA-AD, they participated merely as witnesses or, in the case of Malaysia, as facilitator. As held in the Lomé Accord case, the mere fact that in addition to the parties to the conflict, the peace settlement is signed by representatives of states and international organizations does not mean that the agreement is internationalized so as to create obligations in international law. Since the commitments in the MOA-AD were not addressed to States, not to give legal effect to such commitments would not be detrimental to the security of international intercourse - to the trust and confidence essential in the relations among States. In one important respect, the circumstances surrounding the MOA-AD are closer to that of Burkina Faso wherein, as already discussed, the Mali President's statement was not held to be a binding unilateral declaration by the ICJ. As in that case, there was also nothing to hinder the Philippine panel, had it really been its intention to be bound to other States, to manifest that intention by formal agreement. Here, that formal agreement would have come about by the inclusion in the MOA-AD of a clear commitment to be legally bound to the international community, not just the MILF, and by an equally clear indication that the signatures of the participating states-representatives would constitute an acceptance of that commitment. Entering into such a formal agreement would not have resulted in a loss of face for the Philippine government before the international community, which was one of the difficulties that prevented the French Government from entering into a formal agreement with other countries. That the Philippine panel did not enter into such a formal agreement suggests that it had no intention to be bound to the international community. On that ground, the MOA-AD may not be considered a unilateral declaration under international law. The MOA-AD not being a document that can bind the Philippines under international law notwithstanding, respondents' almost consummated act of guaranteeing amendments to the legal framework is, by itself, sufficient to constitute grave abuse of discretion. The grave abuse lies not in
  • 65. the fact that they considered, as a solution to the Moro Problem, the creation of a state within a state, but in their brazen willingness toguarantee that Congress and the sovereign Filipino people would give their imprimatur to their solution. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves through the process of initiative, for the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue influence or interference with that process. The sovereign people may, if it so desired, go to the extent of giving up a portion of its own territory to the Moros for the sake of peace, for it can change the Constitution in any it wants, so long as the change is not inconsistent with what, in international law, is known as Jus Cogens.184 Respondents, however, may not preempt it in that decision. SUMMARY The petitions are ripe for adjudication. The failure of respondents to consult the local government units or communities affected constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate under E.O. No. 3. Moreover, respondents exceeded their authority by the mere act of guaranteeing amendments to the Constitution. Any alleged violation of the Constitution by any branch of government is a proper matter for judicial review. As the petitions involve constitutional issues which are of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance, the Court grants the petitioners, petitioners-in-intervention and intervening respondents the requisitelocus standi in keeping with the liberal stance adopted in David v. Macapagal-Arroyo. Contrary to the assertion of respondents that the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel mooted the present petitions, the Court finds that the present petitions provide an exception to the "moot and academic" principle in view of (a) the grave violation of the Constitution involved; (b) the exceptional character of the situation and paramount public interest; (c) the need to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (d) the fact that the case is capable of repetition yet evading review. The MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace signed by the government and the MILF back in June 2001. Hence, the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one drawn up that could contain similar or significantly dissimilar provisions compared to the original. The Court, however, finds that the prayers for mandamus have been rendered moot in view of the respondents' action in providing the Court and the petitioners with the official copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD and its annexes.
  • 66. The people's right to information on matters of public concern under Sec. 7, Article III of the Constitution is insplendid symmetry with the state policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest under Sec. 28, Article II of the Constitution. The right to information guarantees the right of the people to demand information, while Section 28 recognizes the duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody demands. The complete and effective exercise of the right to information necessitates that its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature, subject only to reasonable safeguards or limitations as may be provided by law. The contents of the MOA-AD is a matter of paramount public concern involving public interest in the highest order. In declaring that the right to information contemplates steps and negotiations leading to the consummation of the contract, jurisprudence finds no distinction as to the executory nature or commercial character of the agreement. An essential element of these twin freedoms is to keep a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. Corollary to these twin rights is the design for feedback mechanisms. The right to public consultation was envisioned to be a species of these public rights. At least three pertinent laws animate these constitutional imperatives and justify the exercise of the people's right to be consulted on relevant matters relating to the peace agenda. One, E.O. No. 3 itself is replete with mechanics for continuing consultations on both national and local levels and for a principal forum for consensus-building. In fact, it is the duty of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to conduct regular dialogues to seek relevant information, comments, advice, and recommendations from peace partners and concerned sectors of society. Two, Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 requires all national offices to conduct consultations before any project or program critical to the environment and human ecology including those that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in such locality, is implemented therein. The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro people, which could pervasively and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a great number of inhabitants from their total environment. Three, Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 provides for clear-cut procedure for the recognition and delineation of ancestral domain, which entails, among other things, the observance of the free and prior informed consent of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples. Notably, the statute does not grant the Executive Department or any government agency the power to delineate and recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or compromise.
  • 67. The invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege as a defense to the general right to information or the specific right to consultation is untenable. The various explicit legal provisions fly in the face of executive secrecy. In any event, respondents effectively waived such defense after it unconditionally disclosed the official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD, for judicial compliance and public scrutiny. In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated by E.O. No. 3, Republic Act No. 7160, and Republic Act No. 8371. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined. The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the very concept underlying them, namely, the associative relationship envisioned between the GRP and the BJE, areunconstitutional, for the concept presupposes that the associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on its way to independence. While there is a clause in the MOA-AD stating that the provisions thereof inconsistent with the present legal framework will not be effective until that framework is amended, the same does not cure its defect. The inclusion of provisions in the MOA-AD establishing an associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government is, itself, a violation of the Memorandum of Instructions From The President dated March 1, 2001, addressed to the government peace panel. Moreover, as the clause is worded, it virtually guarantees that the necessary amendments to the Constitution and the laws will eventually be put in place. Neither the GRP Peace Panel nor the President herself is authorized to make such a guarantee. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves through the process of initiative, for the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue influence or interference with that process. While the MOA-AD would not amount to an international agreement or unilateral declaration binding on the Philippines under international law, respondents' act of guaranteeing amendments is, by itself, already a constitutional violation that renders the MOA-AD fatally defective. WHEREFORE, respondents' motion to dismiss is DENIED. The main and intervening petitions are GIVEN DUE COURSE and hereby GRANTED. The Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 is declared contrary to law and the Constitution.
  • 68. SO ORDERED.
  • 69. [G.R. No. 73748, May 22, 1986] LAWYERS LEAGUE FOR A BETTER PHILIPPINES AND/OR OLIVER A. LOZANO VS. PRESIDENT CORAZON C. AQUINO, ET AL. SIRS/MESDAMES: Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court MAY 22, 1986 In G.R. No. 73748, Lawyers League for a Better Philippines vs. President Corazon C. Aquino, et al.; G.R. No. 73972, People's Crusade for Supremacy of the Constitution vs. Mrs. Cory Aquino, et al., and G.R. No. 73990, Councilor Clifton U. Ganay vs. Corazon C. Aquino, et al., the legitimacy of the government of President Aquino is questioned. It is claimed that her government is illegal because it was not established pursuant to the 1973 Constitution. As early as April 10, 1986, this Court* had already voted to dismiss the petitions for the reasons to be stated below. On April 17, 1986, Atty. Lozano as counsel for the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 73748 and 73972 withdrew the petitions and manifested that they would pursue the question by extra-judicial methods. The withdrawal is functus oficio. The three petitions obviously are not impressed with merit. Petitioners have no personality to sue and their petitions state no cause of action. For the legitimacy of the Aquino government is not a justiciable matter. It belongs to the realm of politics where only the people of the Philippines are the judge. And the people have made the judgment; they have accepted the government of President Corazon C. Aquino which is in effective control of the entire country so that it is not merely a de factogovernment but is in fact and law a de jure government. Moreover, the community of nations has recognized the legitimacy of the present government. All the eleven members of this Court, as reorganized, have sworn to uphold the fundamental law of the Republic under her government. In view of the foregoing, the petitions are hereby dismissed. Very truly yours, (Sgd.) GLORIA C. PARAS Clerk of Court (NOTE: SUCCEEDING CASE IS THE REFERENCE OF THE ABOVE DECISION) G.R. No. 76180 October 24, 1986
  • 70. IN RE: SATURNINO V. BERMUDEZ, petitioner. R E S O L U T IO N PER CURIAM: In a petition for declaratory relief impleading no respondents, petitioner, as a lawyer, quotes the first paragraph of Section 5 (not Section 7 as erroneously stated) of Article XVIII of the proposed 1986 Constitution, which provides in full as follows: Sec. 5. The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice-President elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of synchronization of elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992. The first regular elections for the President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1992. Claiming that the said provision "is not clear" as to whom it refers, he then asks the Court "to declare and answer the question of the construction and definiteness as to who, among the present incumbent President Corazon Aquino and Vice-President Salvador Laurel and the elected President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Vice-President Arturo M. Tolentino being referred to under the said Section 7 (sic) of ARTICLE XVIII of the TRANSITORY PROVISIONS of the proposed 1986 Constitution refers to, . ... The petition is dismissed outright for lack of jurisdiction and for lack for cause of action. Prescinding from petitioner's lack of personality to sue or to bring this action, (Tan vs. Macapagal, 43 SCRA 677), it is elementary that this Court assumes no jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief. More importantly, the petition amounts in effect to a suit against the incumbent President of the Republic, President Corazon C. Aquino, and it is equally elementary that incumbent Presidents are immune from suit or from being brought to court during the period of their incumbency and tenure. The petition furthermore states no cause of action. Petitioner's allegation of ambiguity or vagueness of the aforequoted provision is manifestly gratuitous, it being a matter of public record and common public knowledge that the Constitutional Commission refers therein to incumbent President Corazon C. Aquino and Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel, and to no other persons, and provides for the extension of their term to noon of June 30, 1992 for purposes of synchronization of elections. Hence, the second paragraph of the cited section provides for the holding on the second Monday of May, 1992 of the first regular elections for the President and Vice-President
  • 71. under said 1986 Constitution. In previous cases, the legitimacy of the government of President Corazon C. Aquino was likewise sought to be questioned with the claim that it was not established pursuant to the 1973 Constitution. The said cases were dismissed outright by this court which held that: Petitioners have no personality to sue and their petitions state no cause of action. For the legitimacy of the Aquino government is not a justiciable matter. It belongs to the realm of politics where only the people of the Philippines are the judge. And the people have made the judgment; they have accepted the government of President Corazon C. Aquino which is in effective control of the entire country so that it is not merely a de facto government but in fact and law a de jure government. Moreover, the community of nations has recognized the legitimacy of tlie present government. All the eleven members of this Court, as reorganized, have sworn to uphold the fundamental law of the Republic under her government. (Joint Resolution of May 22, 1986 in G.R. No. 73748 [Lawyers League for a Better Philippines, etc. vs. President Corazon C. Aquino, et al.]; G.R. No. 73972 [People's Crusade for Supremacy of the Constitution. etc. vs. Mrs. Cory Aquino, et al.]; and G.R. No. 73990 [Councilor Clifton U. Ganay vs. Corazon C. Aquino, et al.]) For the above-quoted reason, which are fully applicable to the petition at bar, mutatis mutandis, there can be no question that President Corazon C. Aquino and Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel are the incumbent and legitimate President and Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines.or the above-quoted reasons, which are fully applicable to the petition at bar, ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby dismissed. Teehankee, C.J., Feria, Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Alampay and Paras, JJ., concur. MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., concurring: GUTIERREZ, Jr., J., concurring: FELICIANO, JJ., concurring. The petitioner asks the Court to declare who are "the incumbent President and Vice President elected in the February 7, 1986 elections" as stated in Article XVIII, Section 5 of the Draft Constitution adopted by the Constitutional Commission of 1986. We agree that the petition deserves outright dismissal as this Court has no original jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief.
  • 72. As to lack of cause of action, the petitioner's prayer for a declaration as to who were elected President and Vice President in the February 7, 1986 elections should be addressed not to this Court but to other departments of government constitutionally burdened with the task of making that declaration. The 1935 Constitution, the 1913 Constitution as amended, and the 1986 Draft Constitution uniformly provide 'that boards of canvassers in each province and city shall certified who were elected President and Vice President in their respective areas. The certified returns are transmitted to the legislature which proclaims, through the designated Presiding Head, who were duty elected. Copies of the certified returns from the provincial and city boards of canvassers have not been furnished this Court nor is there any need to do so. In the absence of a legislature, we cannot assume the function of stating, and neither do we have any factual or legal capacity to officially declare, who were elected President and Vice President in the February 7, 1986 elections. As to who are the incumbent President and Vice President referred to in the 1986 Draft Constitution, we agree that there is no doubt the 1986 Constitutional Commission referred to President Corazon C. Aquino and Vice President Salvador H. Laurel. Finally, we agree with the Resolution of the Court in G.R. Nos. 73748, 73972, and 73990. For the foregoing reasons, we vote to DISMISS the instant petition
  • 73. [G.R. No. 152154. July 15, 2003] REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION), FERDINAND E. MARCOS (REPRESENTED BY HIS ESTATE/HEIRS: IMELDA R. MARCOS, MARIA IMELDA [IMEE] MARCOS-MANOTOC, FERDINAND R. MARCOS, JR. AND IRENE MARCOS-ARANETA) AND IMELDA ROMUALDEZ MARCOS, respondents. D E C I S I O N CORONA, J.: This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeking to (1) set aside the Resolution dated January 31, 2002 issued by the Special First Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case No. 0141 entitled Republic of the Philippines vs. Ferdinand E. Marcos, et. al., and (2) reinstate its earlier decision dated September 19, 2000 which forfeited in favor of petitioner Republic of the Philippines (Republic) the amount held in escrow in the Philippine National Bank (PNB) in the aggregate amount of US$658,175,373.60 as of January 31, 2002. BACKGROUND OF THE CASE On December 17, 1991, petitioner Republic, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a petition for forfeiture before the Sandiganbayan, docketed as Civil Case No. 0141 entitled Republic of the Philippines vs. Ferdinand E. Marcos, represented by his Estate/Heirs and Imelda R. Marcos, pursuant to RA 1379[1] in relation to Executive Order Nos. 1,[2] 2,[3] 14[4] and 14-A.[5] In said case, petitioner sought the declaration of the aggregate amount of US$356 million (now estimated to be more than US$658 million inclusive of interest) deposited in escrow in the PNB, as ill- gotten wealth. The funds were previously held by the following five account groups, using various foreign foundations in certain Swiss banks: (1) Azio-Verso-Vibur Foundation accounts; (2) Xandy-Wintrop: Charis-Scolari-Valamo-Spinus- Avertina Foundation accounts; (3) Trinidad-Rayby-Palmy Foundation accounts; (4) Rosalys-Aguamina Foundation accounts and (5) Maler Foundation accounts. In addition, the petition sought the forfeiture of US$25 million and US$5 million in treasury notes which exceeded the Marcos couple’s salaries, other lawful income as well as income from legitimately
  • 74. acquired property. The treasury notes are frozen at the Central Bank of the Philippines, now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, by virtue of the freeze order issued by the PCGG. On October 18, 1993, respondents Imelda R. Marcos, Maria Imelda M. Manotoc, Irene M. Araneta and Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. filed their answer. Before the case was set for pre-trial, a General Agreement and the Supplemental Agreements[6] dated December 28, 1993 were executed by the Marcos children and then PCGG Chairman Magtanggol Gunigundo for a global settlement of the assets of the Marcos family. Subsequently, respondent Marcos children filed a motion dated December 7, 1995 for the approval of said agreements and for the enforcement thereof. The General Agreement/Supplemental Agreements sought to identify, collate, cause the inventory of and distribute all assets presumed to be owned by the Marcos family under the conditions contained therein. The aforementioned General Agreement specified in one of its premises or “whereas clauses” the fact that petitioner “obtained a judgment from the Swiss Federal Tribunal on December 21, 1990, that the Three Hundred Fifty-six Million U.S. dollars (US$356 million) belongs in principle to the Republic of the Philippines provided certain conditionalities are met x x x.” The said decision of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court affirmed the decision of Zurich District Attorney Peter Consandey, granting petitioner’s request for legal assistance.[7] Consandey declared the various deposits in the name of the enumerated foundations to be of illegal provenance and ordered that they be frozen to await the final verdict in favor of the parties entitled to restitution. Hearings were conducted by the Sandiganbayan on the motion to approve the General/Supplemental Agreements. Respondent Ferdinand, Jr. was presented as witness for the purpose of establishing the partial implementation of said agreements. On October 18, 1996, petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment and/or judgment on the pleadings. Respondent Mrs. Marcos filed her opposition thereto which was later adopted by respondents Mrs. Manotoc, Mrs. Araneta and Ferdinand, Jr. In its resolution dated November 20, 1997, the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner’s motion for summary judgment and/or judgment on the pleadings on the ground that the motion to approve the compromise agreement “(took) precedence over the motion for summary judgment.” Respondent Mrs. Marcos filed a manifestation on May 26, 1998 claiming she was not a party to the motion for approval of the Compromise Agreement and that she owned 90% of the funds with the remaining 10% belonging to the Marcos estate. Meanwhile, on August 10, 1995, petitioner filed with the District Attorney in Zurich, Switzerland, an additional request for the immediate transfer of the deposits to an escrow account in the PNB. The request was granted. On appeal by the Marcoses, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, in a decision dated
  • 75. December 10, 1997, upheld the ruling of the District Attorney of Zurich granting the request for the transfer of the funds. In 1998, the funds were remitted to the Philippines in escrow. Subsequently, respondent Marcos children moved that the funds be placed in custodia legis because the deposit in escrow in the PNB was allegedly in danger of dissipation by petitioner. The Sandiganbayan, in its resolution dated September 8, 1998, granted the motion. After the pre-trial and the issuance of the pre-trial order and supplemental pre-trial order dated October 28, 1999 and January 21, 2000, respectively, the case was set for trial. After several resettings, petitioner, on March 10, 2000, filed another motion for summary judgment pertaining to the forfeiture of the US$356 million, based on the following grounds: I THE ESSENTIAL FACTS WHICH WARRANT THE FORFEITURE OF THE FUNDS SUBJECT OF THE PETITION UNDER R.A. NO. 1379 ARE ADMITTED BY RESPONDENTS IN THEIR PLEADINGS AND OTHER SUBMISSIONS MADE IN THE COURSE OF THE PROCEEDING. II RESPONDENTS’ ADMISSION MADE DURING THE PRE-TRIAL THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE ANY INTEREST OR OWNERSHIP OVER THE FUNDS SUBJECT OF THE ACTION FOR FORFEITURE TENDERS NO GENUINE ISSUE OR CONTROVERSY AS TO ANY MATERIAL FACT IN THE PRESENT ACTION, THUS WARRANTING THE RENDITION OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT.[8] Petitioner contended that, after the pre-trial conference, certain facts were established, warranting a summary judgment on the funds sought to be forfeited. Respondent Mrs. Marcos filed her opposition to the petitioner’s motion for summary judgment, which opposition was later adopted by her co-respondents Mrs. Manotoc, Mrs. Araneta and Ferdinand, Jr. On March 24, 2000, a hearing on the motion for summary judgment was conducted. In a decision[9] dated September 19, 2000, the Sandiganbayan granted petitioner’s motion for summary judgment: CONCLUSION There is no issue of fact which calls for the presentation of evidence. The Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby granted. The Swiss deposits which were transmitted to and now held in escrow at the PNB are deemed unlawfully acquired as ill-gotten wealth.
  • 76. DISPOSITION WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the Republic of the Philippines and against the respondents, declaring the Swiss deposits which were transferred to and now deposited in escrow at the Philippine National Bank in the total aggregate value equivalent to US$627,608,544.95 as of August 31, 2000 together with the increments thereof forfeited in favor of the State.[10] Respondent Mrs. Marcos filed a motion for reconsideration dated September 26, 2000. Likewise, Mrs. Manotoc and Ferdinand, Jr. filed their own motion for reconsideration dated October 5, 2000. Mrs. Araneta filed a manifestation dated October 4, 2000 adopting the motion for reconsideration of Mrs. Marcos, Mrs. Manotoc and Ferdinand, Jr. Subsequently, petitioner filed its opposition thereto. In a resolution[11] dated January 31, 2002, the Sandiganbayan reversed its September 19, 2000 decision, thus denying petitioner’s motion for summary judgment: CONCLUSION In sum, the evidence offered for summary judgment of the case did not prove that the money in the Swiss Banks belonged to the Marcos spouses because no legal proof exists in the record as to the ownership by the Marcoses of the funds in escrow from the Swiss Banks. The basis for the forfeiture in favor of the government cannot be deemed to have been established and our judgment thereon, perforce, must also have been without basis. WHEREFORE, the decision of this Court dated September 19, 2000 is reconsidered and set aside, and this case is now being set for further proceedings.[12] Hence, the instant petition. In filing the same, petitioner argues that the Sandiganbayan, in reversing its September 19, 2000 decision, committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction considering that -- I PETITIONER WAS ABLE TO PROVE ITS CASE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUISITES OF SECTIONS 2 AND 3 OF R.A. NO. 1379: A. PRIVATE RESPONDENTS CATEGORICALLY ADMITTED NOT ONLY THE PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS AND IMELDA R. MARCOS AS PUBLIC OFFICIALS BUT ALSO THE EXTENT OF THEIR SALARIES AS SUCH PUBLIC OFFICIALS, WHO
  • 77. UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, WERE PROHIBITED FROM ENGAGING IN THE MANAGEMENT OF FOUNDATIONS. B. PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ALSO ADMITTED THE EXISTENCE OF THE SWISS DEPOSITS AND THEIR OWNERSHIP THEREOF: 1. ADMISSIONS IN PRIVATE RESPONDENTS’ ANSWER; 2. ADMISSION IN THE GENERAL / SUPPLEMENTAL AGREEMENTS THEY SIGNED AND SOUGHT TO IMPLEMENT; 3. ADMISSION IN A MANIFESTATION OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT IMELDA R. MARCOS AND IN THE MOTION TO PLACE THE RES INCUSTODIA LEGIS; AND 4. ADMISSION IN THE UNDERTAKING TO PAY THE HUMAN RIGHTS VICTIMS. C. PETITIONER HAS PROVED THE EXTENT OF THE LEGITIMATE INCOME OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS AND IMELDA R. MARCOS AS PUBLIC OFFICIALS. D. PETITIONER HAS ESTABLISHED A PRIMA FACIE PRESUMPTION OF UNLAWFULLY ACQUIRED WEALTH. II SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS PROPER SINCE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAVE NOT RAISED ANY GENUINE ISSUE OF FACT CONSIDERING THAT: A. PRIVATE RESPONDENTS’ DEFENSE THAT SWISS DEPOSITS WERE LAWFULLY ACQUIRED DOES NOT ONLY FAIL TO TENDER AN ISSUE BUT IS CLEARLY A SHAM; AND B. IN SUBSEQUENTLY DISCLAIMING OWNERSHIP OF THE SWISS DEPOSITS, PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ABANDONED THEIR SHAM DEFENSE OF LEGITIMATE ACQUISITION, AND THIS FURTHER JUSTIFIED THE RENDITION OF A SUMMARY JUDGMENT. III THE FOREIGN FOUNDATIONS NEED NOT BE IMPLEADED. IV
  • 78. THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUSTICE COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN REVERSING HIMSELF ON THE GROUND THAT ORIGINAL COPIES OF THE AUTHENTICATEDSWISS DECISIONS AND THEIR “AUTHENTICATED TRANSLATIONS” HAVE NOT BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE COURT, WHEN EARLIER THE SANDIGANBAYAN HAS QUOTED EXTENSIVELY A PORTION OF THE TRANSLATION OF ONE OF THESE SWISS DECISIONS IN HIS “PONENCIA” DATED JULY 29, 1999 WHEN IT DENIED THE MOTION TO RELEASE ONE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION US DOLLARS ($150,000,000.00) TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS VICTIMS. V PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ARE DEEMED TO HAVE WAIVED THEIR OBJECTION TO THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE SWISS FEDERAL SUPREME COURT DECISIONS.[13] Petitioner, in the main, asserts that nowhere in the respondents’ motions for reconsideration and supplemental motion for reconsideration were the authenticity, accuracy and admissibility of the Swiss decisions ever challenged. Otherwise stated, it was incorrect for the Sandiganbayan to use the issue of lack of authenticated translations of the decisions of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court as the basis for reversing itself because respondents themselves never raised this issue in their motions for reconsideration and supplemental motion for reconsideration. Furthermore, this particular issue relating to the translation of the Swiss court decisions could not be resurrected anymore because said decisions had been previously utilized by the Sandiganbayan itself in resolving a “decisive issue” before it. Petitioner faults the Sandiganbayan for questioning the non-production of the authenticated translations of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court decisions as this was a marginal and technical matter that did not diminish by any measure the conclusiveness and strength of what had been proven and admitted before the Sandiganbayan, that is, that the funds deposited by the Marcoses constituted ill- gotten wealth and thus belonged to the Filipino people. In compliance with the order of this Court, Mrs. Marcos filed her comment to the petition on May 22, 2002. After several motions for extension which were all granted, the comment of Mrs. Manotoc and Ferdinand, Jr. and the separate comment of Mrs. Araneta were filed on May 27, 2002. Mrs. Marcos asserts that the petition should be denied on the following grounds: A. PETITIONER HAS A PLAIN, SPEEDY, AND ADEQUATE REMEDY AT THE SANDIGANBAYAN. B. THE SANDIGANBAYAN DID NOT ABUSE ITS DISCRETION IN SETTING THE CASE FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS.[14]
  • 79. Mrs. Marcos contends that petitioner has a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law in view of the resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated January 31, 2000 directing petitioner to submit the authenticated translations of the Swiss decisions. Instead of availing of said remedy, petitioner now elevates the matter to this Court. According to Mrs. Marcos, a petition for certiorari which does not comply with the requirements of the rules may be dismissed. Since petitioner has a plain, speedy and adequate remedy, that is, to proceed to trial and submit authenticated translations of the Swiss decisions, its petition before this Court must be dismissed. Corollarily, the Sandiganbayan’s ruling to set the case for further proceedings cannot and should not be considered a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment. Likewise, Mrs. Manotoc and Ferdinand, Jr., in their comment, prayed for the dismissal of the petition on the grounds that: (A) BY THE TIME PETITIONER FILED ITS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON 10 MARCH 2000, IT WAS ALREADY BARRED FROM DOING SO. (1) The Motion for Summary Judgment was based on private respondents’ Answer and other documents that had long been in the records of the case. Thus, by the time the Motion was filed on 10 March 2000, estoppel by laches had already set in against petitioner. (2) By its positive acts and express admissions prior to filing the Motion for Summary Judgment on 10 March 1990, petitioner had legally bound itself to go to trial on the basis of existing issues. Thus, it clearly waived whatever right it had to move for summary judgment. (B) EVEN ASSUMING THAT PETITIONER WAS NOT LEGALLY BARRED FROM FILING THE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, THE SANDIGANBAYAN IS CORRECT IN RULING THAT PETITIONER HAS NOT YET ESTABLISHED A PRIMA FACIE CASE FOR THE FORFEITURE OF THE SWISS FUNDS. (1) Republic Act No. 1379, the applicable law, is a penal statute. As such, its provisions, particularly the essential elements stated in section 3 thereof, are mandatory in nature. These should be strictly construed against petitioner and liberally in favor of private respondents.
  • 80. (2) Petitioner has failed to establish the third and fourth essential elements in Section 3 of R.A. 1379 with respect to the identification, ownership, and approximate amount of the property which the Marcos couple allegedly “acquired during their incumbency”. (a) Petitioner has failed to prove that the Marcos couple “acquired” or own the Swiss funds. (b) Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the fact of acquisition has been proven, petitioner has categorically admitted that it has no evidence showing how much of the Swiss funds was acquired “during the incumbency” of the Marcos couple from 31 December 1965 to 25 February 1986. (3) In contravention of the essential element stated in Section 3 (e) of R.A. 1379, petitioner has failed to establish the other proper earnings and income from legitimately acquired property of the Marcos couple over and above their government salaries. (4) Since petitioner failed to prove the three essential elements provided in paragraphs (c)[15] (d),[16] and (e)[17] of Section 3, R.A. 1379, the inescapable conclusion is that the prima facie presumption of unlawful acquisition of the Swiss funds has not yet attached. There can, therefore, be no premature forfeiture of the funds. (C) IT WAS ONLY BY ARBITRARILY ISOLATING AND THEN TAKING CERTAIN STATEMENTS MADE BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS OUT OF CONTEXT THAT PETITIONER WAS ABLE TO TREAT THESE AS “JUDICIAL ADMISSIONS” SUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH A PRIMA FACIE AND THEREAFTER A CONCLUSIVE CASE TO JUSTIFY THE FORFEITURE OF THE SWISS FUNDS. (1) Under Section 27, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, the General and Supplemental Agreements, as well as the other written and testimonial statements submitted in relation thereto, are expressly barred from being admissible in evidence against private respondents. (2) Had petitioner bothered to weigh the alleged admissions together with the other statements on record, there would be a demonstrable showing that no such “judicial admissions” were made by private respondents. (D)
  • 81. SINCE PETITIONER HAS NOT (YET) PROVEN ALL THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS TO ESTABLISH A PRIMA FACIE CASE FOR FORFEITURE, AND PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAVE NOT MADE ANY JUDICIAL ADMISSION THAT WOULD HAVE FREED IT FROM ITS BURDEN OF PROOF, THE SANDIGANBAYAN DID NOT COMMIT GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN DENYING THE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. CERTIORARI, THEREFORE, DOES NOT LIE, ESPECIALLY AS THIS COURT IS NOT A TRIER OF FACTS.[18] For her part, Mrs. Araneta, in her comment to the petition, claims that obviously petitioner is unable to comply with a very plain requirement of respondent Sandiganbayan. The instant petition is allegedly an attempt to elevate to this Court matters, issues and incidents which should be properly threshed out at the Sandiganbayan. To respondent Mrs. Araneta, all other matters, save that pertaining to the authentication of the translated Swiss Court decisions, are irrelevant and impertinent as far as this Court is concerned. Respondent Mrs. Araneta manifests that she is as eager as respondent Sandiganbayan or any interested person to have the Swiss Court decisions officially translated in our known language. She says the authenticated official English version of the Swiss Court decisions should be presented. This should stop all speculations on what indeed is contained therein. Thus, respondent Mrs. Araneta prays that the petition be denied for lack of merit and for raising matters which, in elaborated fashion, are impertinent and improper before this Court. PROPRIETY OF PETITIONER’SACTION FOR CERTIORARI But before this Court discusses the more relevant issues, the question regarding the propriety of petitioner Republic's action for certiorari under Rule 65[19] of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure assailing the Sandiganbayan Resolution dated January 21, 2002 should be threshed out. At the outset, we would like to stress that we are treating this case as an exception to the general rule governing petitions for certiorari. Normally, decisions of the Sandiganbayan are brought before this Court under Rule 45, not Rule 65.[20] But where the case is undeniably ingrained with immense public interest, public policy and deep historical repercussions, certiorari is allowed notwithstanding the existence and availability of the remedy of appeal.[21] One of the foremost concerns of the Aquino Government in February 1986 was the recovery of the unexplained or ill-gotten wealth reputedly amassed by former President and Mrs. Ferdinand E. Marcos, their relatives, friends and business associates. Thus, the very first Executive Order (EO) issued by then President Corazon Aquino upon her assumption to office after the ouster of the Marcoses was EO No. 1, issued on February 28, 1986. It created the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and charged it with the task of assisting the President in the "recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them during his administration, directly or
  • 82. through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship." The urgency of this undertaking was tersely described by this Court in Republic vs. Lobregat[22] : surely x x x an enterprise "of great pith and moment"; it was attended by "great expectations"; it was initiated not only out of considerations of simple justice but also out of sheer necessity - the national coffers were empty, or nearly so. In all the alleged ill-gotten wealth cases filed by the PCGG, this Court has seen fit to set aside technicalities and formalities that merely serve to delay or impede judicious resolution. This Court prefers to have such cases resolved on the merits at the Sandiganbayan. But substantial justice to the Filipino people and to all parties concerned, not mere legalisms or perfection of form, should now be relentlessly and firmly pursued. Almost two decades have passed since the government initiated its search for and reversion of such ill-gotten wealth. The definitive resolution of such cases on the merits is thus long overdue. If there is proof of illegal acquisition, accumulation, misappropriation, fraud or illicit conduct, let it be brought out now. Let the ownership of these funds and other assets be finally determined and resolved with dispatch, free from all the delaying technicalities and annoying procedural sidetracks.[23] We thus take cognizance of this case and settle with finality all the issues therein. ISSUES BEFORE THIS COURT The crucial issues which this Court must resolve are: (1) whether or not respondents raised any genuine issue of fact which would either justify or negate summary judgment; and (2) whether or not petitioner Republic was able to prove its case for forfeiture in accordance with Sections 2 and 3 of RA 1379. (1) THE PROPRIETY OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT We hold that respondent Marcoses failed to raise any genuine issue of fact in their pleadings. Thus, on motion of petitioner Republic, summary judgment should take place as a matter of right. In the early case of Auman vs. Estenzo[24] , summary judgment was described as a judgment which a court may render before trial but after both parties have pleaded. It is ordered by the court upon application by one party, supported by affidavits, depositions or other documents, with notice upon the adverse party who may in turn file an opposition supported also by affidavits, depositions or other documents. This is after the court summarily hears both parties with their respective proofs and finds that there is no genuine issue between them. Summary judgment is sanctioned in this jurisdiction by Section 1, Rule 35 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:
  • 83. SECTION 1. Summary judgment for claimant.- A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory relief may, at any time after the pleading in answer thereto has been served, move with supporting affidavits, depositions or admissions for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof.[25] Summary judgment is proper when there is clearly no genuine issue as to any material fact in the action.[26] The theory of summary judgment is that, although an answer may on its face appear to tender issues requiring trial, if it is demonstrated by affidavits, depositions or admissions that those issues are not genuine but sham or fictitious, the Court is justified in dispensing with the trial and rendering summary judgment for petitioner Republic. The Solicitor General made a very thorough presentation of its case for forfeiture: x x x 4. Respondent Ferdinand E. Marcos (now deceased and represented by his Estate/Heirs) was a public officer for several decades continuously and without interruption as Congressman, Senator, Senate President and President of the Republic of the Philippines from December 31, 1965 up to his ouster by direct action of the people of EDSA on February 22-25, 1986. 5. Respondent Imelda Romualdez Marcos (Imelda, for short) the former First Lady who ruled with FM during the 14-year martial law regime, occupied the position of Minister of Human Settlements from June 1976 up to the peaceful revolution in February 22-25, 1986. She likewise served once as a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa during the early years of martial law from 1978 to 1984 and as Metro Manila Governor in concurrent capacity as Minister of Human Settlements. x x x xxx xxx xxx 11. At the outset, however, it must be pointed out that based on the Official Report of the Minister of Budget, the total salaries of former President Marcos as President form 1966 to 1976 was P60,000 a year and from 1977 to 1985, P100,000 a year; while that of the former First Lady, Imelda R. Marcos, as Minister of Human Settlements from June 1976 to February 22-25, 1986 was P75,000 a year xxx. ANALYSIS OF RESPONDENTS LEGITIMATE INCOME x x x
  • 84. 12. Based on available documents, the ITRs of the Marcoses for the years 1965-1975 were filed under Tax Identification No. 1365-055-1. For the years 1976 until 1984, the returns were filed under Tax Identification No. M 6221-J 1117-A-9. 13. The data contained in the ITRs and Balance Sheet filed by the “Marcoses are summarized and attached to the reports in the following schedules: Schedule A: Schedule of Income (Annex “T” hereof); Schedule B: Schedule of Income Tax Paid (Annex “T-1” hereof); Schedule C: Schedule of Net Disposable Income (Annex “T-2” hereof); Schedule D: Schedule of Networth Analysis (Annex “T-3” hereof). 14. As summarized in Schedule A (Annex “T” hereof), the Marcoses reported P16,408,442.00 or US$2,414,484.91 in total income over a period of 20 years from 1965 to 1984. The sources of income are as follows: Official Salaries - P 2,627,581.00 - 16.01% Legal Practice - 11,109,836.00 - 67.71% Farm Income - 149,700.00 - .91% Others - 2,521,325.00 - 15.37% Total P16,408,442.00 - 100.00% 15. FM’s official salary pertains to his compensation as Senate President in 1965 in the amount of P15,935.00 and P1,420,000.00 as President of the Philippines during the period 1966 until 1984. On the other hand, Imelda reported salaries and allowances only for the years 1979 to 1984 in the amount of P1,191,646.00. The records indicate that the reported income came from her salary from the Ministry of Human Settlements and allowances from Food Terminal, Inc., National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, National Food Authority Council, Light Rail Transit Authority and Home Development Mutual Fund.
  • 85. 16. Of the P11,109,836.00 in reported income from legal practice, the amount of P10,649,836.00 or 96% represents “receivables from prior years” during the period 1967 up to 1984. 17. In the guise of reporting income using the cash method under Section 38 of the National Internal Revenue Code, FM made it appear that he had an extremely profitable legal practice before he became a President (FM being barred by law from practicing his law profession during his entire presidency) and that, incredibly, he was still receiving payments almost 20 years after. The only problem is that in his Balance Sheet attached to his 1965 ITR immediately preceeding his ascendancy to the presidency he did not show any Receivables from client at all, much less the P10,65-M that he decided to later recognize as income. There are no documents showing any withholding tax certificates. Likewise, there is nothing on record that will show any known Marcos client as he has no known law office. As previously stated, his networth was a mere P120,000.00 in December, 1965. The joint income tax returns of FM and Imelda cannot, therefore, conceal the skeletons of their kleptocracy. 18. FM reported a total of P2,521,325.00 as Other Income for the years 1972 up to 1976 which he referred to in his return as “Miscellaneous Items” and “Various Corporations.” There is no indication of any payor of the dividends or earnings. 19. Spouses Ferdinand and Imelda did not declare any income from any deposits and placements which are subject to a 5% withholding tax. The Bureau of Internal Revenue attested that after a diligent search of pertinent records on file with the Records Division, they did not find any records involving the tax transactions of spouses Ferdinand and Imelda in Revenue Region No. 1, Baguio City, Revenue Region No.4A, Manila, Revenue Region No. 4B1, Quezon City and Revenue No. 8, Tacloban, Leyte. Likewise, the Office of the Revenue Collector of Batac. Further, BIR attested that no records were found on any filing of capital gains tax return involving spouses FM and Imelda covering the years 1960 to 1965. 20. In Schedule B, the taxable reported income over the twenty-year period was P14,463,595.00 which represents 88% of the gross income. The Marcoses paid income taxes totalingP8,233,296.00 or US$1,220,667.59. The business expenses in the amount of P861,748.00 represent expenses incurred for subscription, postage, stationeries and contributions while the other deductions in the amount of P567,097.00 represents interest charges, medicare fees, taxes and licenses. The total deductions in the amount of P1,994,845.00 represents 12% of the total gross income. 21. In Schedule C, the net cumulative disposable income amounts to P6,756,301.00 or US$980,709.77. This is the amount that represents that portion of the Marcoses income that is free for consumption, savings and investments. The amount is arrived at by adding back to the net income after tax the personal and additional exemptions for the years 1965-1984, as well as the tax-exempt salary of the President for the years 1966 until 1972.
  • 86. 22. Finally, the networth analysis in Schedule D, represents the total accumulated networth of spouses, Ferdinand and Imelda. Respondent’s Balance Sheet attached to their 1965 ITR, covering the year immediately preceding their ascendancy to the presidency, indicates an ending networth of P120,000.00 which FM declared as Library and Miscellaneous assets. In computing for the networth, the income approach was utilized. Under this approach, the beginning capital is increased or decreased, as the case may be, depending upon the income earned or loss incurred. Computations establish the total networth of spouses Ferdinand and Imelda, for the years 1965 until 1984 in the total amount of US$957,487.75, assuming the income from legal practice is real and valid x x x. G. THE SECRET MARCOS DEPOSITS IN SWISS BANKS 23. The following presentation very clearly and overwhelmingly show in detail how both respondents clandestinely stashed away the country’s wealth to Switzerland and hid the same under layers upon layers of foundations and other corporate entities to prevent its detection. Through their dummies/nominees, fronts or agents who formed those foundations or corporate entities, they opened and maintained numerous bank accounts. But due to the difficulty if not the impossibility of detecting and documenting all those secret accounts as well as the enormity of the deposits therein hidden, the following presentation is confined to five identified accounts groups, with balances amounting to about $356- M with a reservation for the filing of a supplemental or separate forfeiture complaint should the need arise. H. THE AZIO-VERSO-VIBUR FOUNDATION ACCOUNTS 24. On June 11, 1971, Ferdinand Marcos issued a written order to Dr. Theo Bertheau, legal counsel of Schweizeresche Kreditanstalt or SKA, also known as Swiss Credit Bank, for him to establish the AZIO Foundation. On the same date, Marcos executed a power of attorney in favor of Roberto S. Benedicto empowering him to transact business in behalf of the said foundation. Pursuant to the said Marcos mandate, AZIO Foundation was formed on June 21, 1971 in Vaduz. Walter Fessler and Ernst Scheller, also of SKA Legal Service, and Dr. Helmuth Merling from Schaan were designated as members of the Board of Trustees of the said foundation. Ferdinand Marcos was named first beneficiary and the Marcos Foundation, Inc. was second beneficiary. On November 12, 1971, FM again issued another written order naming Austrahil PTY Ltd. In Sydney, Australia, as the foundation’s first and sole beneficiary. This was recorded on December 14, 1971. 25. In an undated instrument, Marcos changed the first and sole beneficiary to CHARIS FOUNDATION. This change was recorded on December 4, 1972.
  • 87. 26. On August 29, 1978, the AZIO FOUNDATION was renamed to VERSO FOUNDATION. The Board of Trustees remained the same. On March 11, 1981, Marcos issued a written directive to liquidated VERSO FOUNDATION and to transfer all its assets to account of FIDES TRUST COMPANY at Bank Hofman in Zurich under the account “Reference OSER.” The Board of Trustees decided to dissolve the foundation on June 25, 1981. 27. In an apparent maneuver to bury further the secret deposits beneath the thick layers of corporate entities, FM effected the establishment of VIBUR FOUNDATION on May 13, 1981 in Vaduz. Atty. Ivo Beck and Limag Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fides Trust, were designated as members of the Board of Trustees. The account was officially opened with SKA on September 10, 1981. The beneficial owner was not made known to the bank since Fides Trust Company acted as fiduciary. However, comparison of the listing of the securities in the safe deposit register of the VERSO FOUNDATION as of February 27, 1981 with that of VIBUR FOUNDATION as of December 31, 1981 readily reveals that exactly the same securities were listed. 28. Under the foregoing circumstances, it is certain that the VIBUR FOUNDATION is the beneficial successor of VERSO FOUNDATION. 29. On March 18, 1986, the Marcos-designated Board of Trustees decided to liquidate VIBUR FOUNDATION. A notice of such liquidation was sent to the Office of the Public Register on March 21, 1986. However, the bank accounts and respective balances of the said VIBUR FOUNDATION remained with SKA. Apparently, the liquidation was an attempt by the Marcoses to transfer the foundation’s funds to another account or bank but this was prevented by the timely freeze order issued by the Swiss authorities. One of the latest documents obtained by the PCGG from the Swiss authorities is a declaration signed by Dr. Ivo Beck (the trustee) stating that the beneficial owner of VIBUR FOUNDATION is Ferdinand E. Marcos. Another document signed by G. Raber of SKA shows that VIBUR FOUNDATION is owned by the “Marcos Familie” 30. As of December 31, 1989, the balance of the bank accounts of VIBUR FOUNDATION with SKA, Zurich, under the General Account No. 469857 totaled $3,597,544.00 I. XANDY-WINTROP: CHARIS-SCOLARI- VALAMO-SPINUS-AVERTINA FOUNDATION ACCOUNTS 31. This is the most intricate and complicated account group. As the Flow Chart hereof shows, two (2) groups under the foundation organized by Marcos dummies/nominees for FM’s benefit, eventually joined together and became one (1) account group under the AVERTINA FOUNDATION for the benefit of both FM and Imelda. This is the biggest group from where the $50-M investment fund of the Marcoses was
  • 88. drawn when they bought the Central Bank’s dollar-denominated treasury notes with high-yielding interests. 32. On March 20, 1968, after his second year in the presidency, Marcos opened bank accounts with SKA using an alias or pseudonym WILLIAM SAUNDERS, apparently to hide his true identity. The next day, March 21, 1968, his First Lady, Mrs. Imelda Marcos also opened her own bank accounts with the same bank using an American-sounding alias, JANE RYAN. Found among the voluminous documents in Malacañang shortly after they fled to Hawaii in haste that fateful night of February 25, 1986, were accomplished forms for “Declaration/Specimen Signatures” submitted by the Marcos couple. Under the caption “signature(s)” Ferdinand and Imelda signed their real names as well as their respective aliases underneath. These accounts were actively operated and maintained by the Marcoses for about two (2) years until their closure sometime in February, 1970 and the balances transferred to XANDY FOUNDATION. 33. The XANDY FOUNDATION was established on March 3, 1970 in Vaduz. C.W. Fessler, C. Souviron and E. Scheller were named as members of the Board of Trustees. 34. FM and Imelda issued the written mandate to establish the foundation to Markus Geel of SKA on March 3, 1970. In the handwritten Regulations signed by the Marcos couple as well as in the type- written Regulations signed by Markus Geel both dated February 13, 1970, the Marcos spouses were named the first beneficiaries, the surviving spouse as the second beneficiary and the Marcos children – Imee, Ferdinand, Jr. (Bongbong) and Irene – as equal third beneficiaries. 35. The XANDY FOUNDATION was renamed WINTROP FOUNDATION on August 29, 1978. The Board of Trustees remained the same at the outset. However, on March 27, 1980, Souviron was replaced by Dr. Peter Ritter. On March 10. 1981, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos issued a written order to the Board of Wintrop to liquidate the foundation and transfer all its assets to Bank Hofmann in Zurich in favor of FIDES TRUST COMPANY. Later, WINTROP FOUNDATION was dissolved. 36. The AVERTINA FOUNDATION was established on May 13, 1981 in Vaduz with Atty. Ivo Beck and Limag Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of FIDES TRUST CO., as members of the Board of Trustees. Two (2) account categories, namely: CAR and NES, were opened on September 10, 1981. The beneficial owner of AVERTINA was not made known to the bank since the FIDES TRUST CO. acted as fiduciary. However, the securities listed in the safe deposit register of WINTROP FOUNDATION Category R as of December 31, 1980 were the same as those listed in the register of AVERTINA FOUNDATION Category CAR as of December 31, 1981. Likewise, the securities listed in the safe deposit register of WINTROP FOUNDATION Category S as of December 31, 1980 were the same as those listed in the register of Avertina Category NES as of December 31, 1981.Under the circumstances, it is certain that the beneficial successor of WINTROP FOUNDATION is AVERTINA FOUNDATION. The balance of Category
  • 89. CAR as of December 31, 1989 amounted to US$231,366,894.00 while that of Category NES as of 12-31-83 was US$8,647,190.00. Latest documents received from Swiss authorities included a declaration signed by IVO Beck stating that the beneficial owners of AVERTINA FOUNDATION are FM and Imelda. Another document signed by G. Raber of SKA indicates that Avertina Foundation is owned by the “Marcos Families.” 37. The other groups of foundations that eventually joined AVERTINA were also established by FM through his dummies, which started with the CHARIS FOUNDATION. 38. The CHARIS FOUNDATION was established in VADUZ on December 27, 1971. Walter Fessler and Ernst Scheller of SKA and Dr. Peter Ritter were named as directors. Dr. Theo Bertheau, SKA legal counsel, acted as founding director in behalf of FM by virtue of the mandate and agreement dated November 12, 1971. FM himself was named the first beneficiary and Xandy Foundation as second beneficiary in accordance with the handwritten instructions of FM on November 12, 1971 and the Regulations. FM gave a power of attorney to Roberto S. Benedicto on February 15, 1972 to act in his behalf with regard to Charis Foundation. 39. On December 13, 1974, Charis Foundation was renamed Scolari Foundation but the directors remained the same. On March 11, 1981 FM ordered in writing that the Valamo Foundation be liquidated and all its assets be transferred to Bank Hofmann, AG in favor of Fides Trust Company under the account “Reference OMAL”. The Board of Directors decided on the immediate dissolution of Valamo Foundation on June 25, 1981. 40 The SPINUS FOUNDATION was established on May 13, 1981 in Vaduz with Atty. Ivo Beck and Limag Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fides Trust Co., as members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The account was officially opened with SKA on September 10, 1981. The beneficial owner of the foundation was not made known to the bank since Fides Trust Co. acted as fiduciary. However, the list of securities in the safe deposit register of Valamo Foundation as of December 31, 1980 are practically the same with those listed in the safe deposit register of Spinus Foundation as of December 31, 1981. Under the circumstances, it is certain that the Spinus Foundation is the beneficial successor of the Valamo Foundation. 41. On September 6, 1982, there was a written instruction from Spinus Foundation to SKA to close its Swiss Franc account and transfer the balance to Avertina Foundation. In July/August, 1982, several transfers from the foundation’s German marks and US dollar accounts were made to Avertina Category CAR totaling DM 29.5-M and $58-M, respectively. Moreover, a comparison of the list of securities of the Spinus Foundation as of February 3, 1982 with the safe deposit slips of the Avertina Foundation Category CAR as of August 19, 1982 shows that all the securities of Spinus were transferred to Avertina.
  • 90. J. TRINIDAD-RAYBY-PALMY FOUNDATION ACCOUNTS 42. The Trinidad Foundation was organized on August 26, 1970 in Vaduz with C.W. Fessler and E. Scheller of SKA and Dr. Otto Tondury as the foundation’s directors. Imelda issued a written mandate to establish the foundation to Markus Geel on August 26, 1970. The regulations as well as the agreement, both dated August 28, 1970 were likewise signed by Imelda. Imelda was named the first beneficiary and her children Imelda (Imee), Ferdinand, Jr. (Bongbong) and, Irene were named as equal second beneficiaries. 43. Rayby Foundation was established on June 22, 1973 in Vaduz with Fessler, Scheller and Ritter as members of the board of directors. Imelda issued a written mandate to Dr. Theo Bertheau to establish the foundation with a note that the foundation’s capitalization as well as the cost of establishing it be debited against the account of Trinidad Foundation. Imelda was named the first and only beneficiary of Rayby foundation. According to written information from SKA dated November 28, 1988, Imelda apparently had the intention in 1973 to transfer part of the assets of Trinidad Foundation to another foundation, thus the establishment of Rayby Foundation. However, transfer of assets never took place. On March 10, 1981, Imelda issued a written order to transfer all the assets of Rayby Foundation to Trinidad Foundation and to subsequently liquidate Rayby. On the same date, she issued a written order to the board of Trinidad to dissolve the foundation and transfer all its assets to Bank Hofmann in favor of Fides Trust Co. Under the account “Reference Dido,” Rayby was dissolved on April 6, 1981 and Trinidad was liquidated on August 3, 1981. 44. The PALMY FOUNDATION was established on May 13, 1981 in Vaduz with Dr. Ivo Beck and Limag Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fides Trust Co, as members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The account was officially opened with the SKA on September 10, 1981. The beneficial owner was not made known to the bank since Fides Trust Co. acted as fiduciary. However, when one compares the listing of securities in the safe deposit register of Trinidad Foundation as of December 31,1980 with that of the Palmy Foundation as of December 31, 1980, one can clearly see that practically the same securities were listed. Under the circumstances, it is certain that the Palmy Foundation is the beneficial successor of the Trinidad Foundation. 45. As of December 31, 1989, the ending balance of the bank accounts of Palmy Foundation under General Account No. 391528 is $17,214,432.00. 46. Latest documents received from Swiss Authorities included a declaration signed by Dr. Ivo Beck stating that the beneficial owner of Palmy Foundation is Imelda. Another document signed by Raber shows that the said Palmy Foundation is owned by “Marcos Familie”.
  • 91. K. ROSALYS-AGUAMINA FOUNDATION ACCOUNTS 47. Rosalys Foundation was established in 1971 with FM as the beneficiary. Its Articles of Incorporation was executed on September 24, 1971 and its By-Laws on October 3, 1971. This foundation maintained several accounts with Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC) under the general account 51960 where most of the bribe monies from Japanese suppliers were hidden. 48. On December 19, 1985, Rosalys Foundation was liquidated and all its assets were transferred to Aguamina Corporation’s (Panama) Account No. 53300 with SBC. The ownership by Aguamina Corporation of Account No. 53300 is evidenced by an opening account documents from the bank. J. Christinaz and R.L. Rossier, First Vice-President and Senior Vice President, respectively, of SBC, Geneva issued a declaration dated September 3, 1991 stating that the by-laws dated October 3, 1971 governing Rosalys Foundation was the same by-law applied to Aguamina Corporation Account No. 53300. They further confirmed that no change of beneficial owner was involved while transferring the assets of Rosalys to Aguamina. Hence, FM remains the beneficiary of Aguamina Corporation Account No. 53300. As of August 30, 1991, the ending balance of Account No. 53300 amounted to $80,566,483.00. L. MALER FOUNDATION ACCOUNTS 49. Maler was first created as an establishment. A statement of its rules and regulations was found among Malacañang documents. It stated, among others, that 50% of the Company’s assets will be for sole and full right disposal of FM and Imelda during their lifetime, which the remaining 50% will be divided in equal parts among their children. Another Malacañang document dated October 19,1968 and signed by Ferdinand and Imelda pertains to the appointment of Dr. Andre Barbey and Jean Louis Sunier as attorneys of the company and as administrator and manager of all assets held by the company. The Marcos couple, also mentioned in the said document that they bought the Maler Establishment from SBC, Geneva. On the same date, FM and Imelda issued a letter addressed to Maler Establishment, stating that all instructions to be transmitted with regard to Maler will be signed with the word “JOHN LEWIS”. This word will have the same value as the couple’s own personal signature. The letter was signed by FM and Imelda in their signatures and as John Lewis. 50. Maler Establishment opened and maintained bank accounts with SBC, Geneva. The opening bank documents were signed by Dr. Barbey and Mr. Sunnier as authorized signatories. 51. On November 17, 1981, it became necessary to transform Maler Establishment into a foundation. Likewise, the attorneys were changed to Michael Amaudruz, et. al. However, administration of the assets was left to SBC. The articles of incorporation of Maler Foundation registered on November 17, 1981
  • 92. appear to be the same articles applied to Maler Establishment. On February 28, 1984, Maler Foundation cancelled the power of attorney for the management of its assets in favor of SBC and transferred such power to Sustrust Investment Co., S.A. 52. As of June 6, 1991, the ending balance of Maler Foundation’s Account Nos. 254,508 BT and 98,929 NY amount SF 9,083,567 and SG 16,195,258, respectively, for a total of SF 25,278,825.00. GM only until December 31, 1980. This account was opened by Maler when it was still an establishment which was subsequently transformed into a foundation. 53. All the five (5) group accounts in the over-all flow chart have a total balance of about Three Hundred Fifty Six Million Dollars ($356,000,000.00) as shown by Annex “R-5” hereto attached as integral part hereof. x x x x x x.[27] Respondents Imelda R. Marcos, Maria Imelda M. Manotoc, Irene M. Araneta and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., in their answer, stated the following: xxx xxx xxx 4. Respondents ADMIT paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Petition. 5. Respondents specifically deny paragraph 5 of the Petition in so far as it states that summons and other court processes may be served on Respondent Imelda R. Marcos at the stated address the truth of the matter being that Respondent Imelda R. Marcos may be served with summons and other processes at No. 10-B Bel Air Condominium 5022 P. Burgos Street, Makati, Metro Manila, and ADMIT the rest. xxx xxx xxx 10. Respondents ADMIT paragraph 11 of the Petition. 11. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 12 of the Petition for lack of knowledge sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents were not privy to the transactions and that they cannot remember exactly the truth as to the matters alleged. 12. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 13 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs and Balance Sheet.
  • 93. 13. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 14 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs. 14. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 15 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs. 15. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 16 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs. 16. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 17 of the Petition insofar as it attributes willful duplicity on the part of the late President Marcos, for being false, the same being pure conclusions based on pure assumption and not allegations of fact; and specifically DENY the rest for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs or the attachments thereto. 17. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 18 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs. 18. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 19 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs and that they are not privy to the activities of the BIR. 19. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 20 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs. 20. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 21 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs. 21. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 22 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents cannot remember with exactitude the contents of the alleged ITRs. 22. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 23 insofar as it alleges that Respondents clandestinely stashed the country’s wealth in Switzerland and hid the same under layers and layers of foundation and
  • 94. corporate entities for being false, the truth being that Respondents aforesaid properties were lawfully acquired. 23. Respondents specifically DENY paragraphs 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since Respondents were not privy to the transactions regarding the alleged Azio-Verso-Vibur Foundation accounts, except that as to Respondent Imelda R. Marcos she specifically remembers that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. 24. Respondents specifically DENY paragraphs 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36,37, 38, 39, 40, and 41 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations since Respondents are not privy to the transactions and as to such transaction they were privy to they cannot remember with exactitude the same having occurred a long time ago, except that as to Respondent Imelda R. Marcos she specifically remembers that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. 25. Respondents specifically DENY paragraphs 42, 43, 44, 45, and 46, of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations since Respondents were not privy to the transactions and as to such transaction they were privy to they cannot remember with exactitude the same having occurred a long time ago, except that as to Respondent Imelda R. Marcos she specifically remembers that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. 26. Respondents specifically DENY paragraphs 49, 50, 51 and 52, of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations since Respondents were not privy to the transactions and as to such transaction they were privy to they cannot remember with exactitude the same having occurred a long time ago, except that as to Respondent Imelda R. Marcos she specifically remembers that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. Upon careful perusal of the foregoing, the Court finds that respondent Mrs. Marcos and the Marcos children indubitably failed to tender genuine issues in their answer to the petition for forfeiture. A genuine issue is an issue of fact which calls for the presentation of evidence as distinguished from an issue which is fictitious and contrived, set up in bad faith or patently lacking in substance so as not to constitute a genuine issue for trial. Respondents’ defenses of “lack of knowledge for lack of privity” or “(inability to) recall because it happened a long time ago” or, on the part of Mrs. Marcos, that “the funds were lawfully acquired” are fully insufficient to tender genuine issues. Respondent Marcoses’ defenses were a sham and evidently calibrated to compound and confuse the issues. The following pleadings filed by respondent Marcoses are replete with indications of a spurious defense: (a) Respondents' Answer dated October 18, 1993;
  • 95. (b) Pre-trial Brief dated October 4, 1999 of Mrs. Marcos, Supplemental Pre-trial Brief dated October 19, 1999 of Ferdinand, Jr. and Mrs. Imee Marcos-Manotoc adopting the pre-trial brief of Mrs. Marcos, and Manifestation dated October 19, 1999 of Irene Marcos-Araneta adopting the pre-trial briefs of her co- respondents; (c) Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment dated March 21, 2000, filed by Mrs. Marcos which the other respondents (Marcos children) adopted; (d) Demurrer to Evidence dated May 2, 2000 filed by Mrs. Marcos and adopted by the Marcos children; (e) Motion for Reconsideration dated September 26, 2000 filed by Mrs. Marcos; Motion for Reconsideration dated October 5, 2000 jointly filed by Mrs. Manotoc and Ferdinand, Jr., and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration dated October 9, 2000 likewise jointly filed by Mrs. Manotoc and Ferdinand, Jr.; (f) Memorandum dated December 12, 2000 of Mrs. Marcos and Memorandum dated December 17, 2000 of the Marcos children; (g) Manifestation dated May 26, 1998; and (h) General/Supplemental Agreement dated December 23, 1993. An examination of the foregoing pleadings is in order. Respondents’ Answer dated October 18, 1993. In their answer, respondents failed to specifically deny each and every allegation contained in the petition for forfeiture in the manner required by the rules. All they gave were stock answers like “they have no sufficient knowledge” or “they could not recall because it happened a long time ago,” and, as to Mrs. Marcos, “the funds were lawfully acquired,” without stating the basis of such assertions. Section 10, Rule 8 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, provides: A defendant must specify each material allegation of fact the truth of which he does not admit and, whenever practicable, shall set forth the substance of the matters upon which he relies to support his denial. Where a defendant desires to deny only a part of an averment, he shall specify so much of it as is true and material and shall deny the remainder. Where a defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of a material averment made in the complaint, he shall so state, and this shall have the effect of a denial.[28]
  • 96. The purpose of requiring respondents to make a specific denial is to make them disclose facts which will disprove the allegations of petitioner at the trial, together with the matters they rely upon in support of such denial. Our jurisdiction adheres to this rule to avoid and prevent unnecessary expenses and waste of time by compelling both parties to lay their cards on the table, thus reducing the controversy to its true terms. As explained in Alonso vs. Villamor,[29] A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other. It is rather a contest in which each contending party fully and fairly lays before the court the facts in issue and then, brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure, asks that justice be done upon the merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapier’s thrust. On the part of Mrs. Marcos, she claimed that the funds were lawfully acquired. However, she failed to particularly state the ultimate facts surrounding the lawful manner or mode of acquisition of the subject funds. Simply put, she merely stated in her answer with the other respondents that the funds were “lawfully acquired” without detailing how exactly these funds were supposedly acquired legally by them. Even in this case before us, her assertion that the funds were lawfully acquired remains bare and unaccompanied by any factual support which can prove, by the presentation of evidence at a hearing, that indeed the funds were acquired legitimately by the Marcos family. Respondents’ denials in their answer at the Sandiganbayan were based on their alleged lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations of the petition. It is true that one of the modes of specific denial under the rules is a denial through a statement that the defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the material averment in the complaint. The question, however, is whether the kind of denial in respondents’ answer qualifies as the specific denial called for by the rules. We do not think so. In Morales vs. Court of Appeals,[30] this Court ruled that if an allegation directly and specifically charges a party with having done, performed or committed a particular act which the latter did not in fact do, perform or commit, a categorical and express denial must be made. Here, despite the serious and specific allegations against them, the Marcoses responded by simply saying that they had no knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of such allegations. Such a general, self-serving claim of ignorance of the facts alleged in the petition for forfeiture was insufficient to raise an issue. Respondent Marcoses should have positively stated how it was that they were supposedly ignorant of the facts alleged.[31] To elucidate, the allegation of petitioner Republic in paragraph 23 of the petition for forfeiture stated: 23. The following presentation very clearly and overwhelmingly show in detail how both respondents clandestinely stashed away the country’s wealth to Switzerland and hid the same under layers upon layers
  • 97. of foundations and other corporate entities to prevent its detection. Through their dummies/nominees, fronts or agents who formed those foundations or corporate entities, they opened and maintained numerous bank accounts. But due to the difficulty if not the impossibility of detecting and documenting all those secret accounts as well as the enormity of the deposits therein hidden, the following presentation is confined to five identified accounts groups, with balances amounting to about $356- M with a reservation for the filing of a supplemental or separate forfeiture complaint should the need arise.[32] Respondents’ lame denial of the aforesaid allegation was: 22. Respondents specifically DENY paragraph 23 insofar as it alleges that Respondents clandestinely stashed the country’s wealth in Switzerland and hid the same under layers and layers of foundations and corporate entities for being false, the truth being that Respondents’ aforesaid properties were lawfully acquired.[33] Evidently, this particular denial had the earmark of what is called in the law on pleadings as a negative pregnant, that is, a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading responded to which are not squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of the averments it was directed at.[34] Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a form of negative expression which carries with it an affirmation or at least an implication of some kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial pregnant with an admission of the substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact is alleged with qualifying or modifying language and the words of the allegation as so qualified or modified are literally denied, has been held that the qualifying circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself is admitted.[35] In the instant case, the material allegations in paragraph 23 of the said petition were not specifically denied by respondents in paragraph 22 of their answer. The denial contained in paragraph 22 of the answer was focused on the averment in paragraph 23 of the petition for forfeiture that “Respondents clandestinely stashed the country’s wealth in Switzerland and hid the same under layers and layers of foundations and corporate entities.” Paragraph 22 of the respondents’ answer was thus a denial pregnant with admissions of the following substantial facts: (1) the Swiss bank deposits existed and (2) that the estimated sum thereof was US$356 million as of December, 1990. Therefore, the allegations in the petition for forfeiture on the existence of the Swiss bank deposits in the sum of about US$356 million, not having been specifically denied by respondents in their answer, were deemed admitted by them pursuant to Section 11, Rule 8 of the 1997 Revised Rules on Civil Procedure:
  • 98. Material averment in the complaint, xxx shall be deemed admitted when not specifically denied. xxx.[36] By the same token, the following unsupported denials of respondents in their answer were pregnant with admissions of the substantial facts alleged in the Republic’s petition for forfeiture: 23. Respondents specifically DENY paragraphs 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegation since respondents were not privy to the transactions regarding the alleged Azio-Verso-Vibur Foundation accounts, except that, as to respondent Imelda R. Marcos, she specifically remembers that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. 24. Respondents specifically DENY paragraphs 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 of the Petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations since respondents were not privy to the transactions and as to such transactions they were privy to, they cannot remember with exactitude the same having occurred a long time ago, except as to respondent Imelda R. Marcos, she specifically remembers that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. 25. Respondents specifically DENY paragraphs 42, 43, 45, and 46 of the petition for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to from a belief as to the truth of the allegations since respondents were not privy to the transactions and as to such transaction they were privy to, they cannot remember with exactitude, the same having occurred a long time ago, except that as to respondent Imelda R. Marcos, she specifically remembers that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. 26. Respondents specifically DENY paragraphs 49, 50, 51 and 52 of the petition for lack of knowledge and information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations since respondents were not privy to the transactions and as to such transaction they were privy to they cannot remember with exactitude the same having occurred a long time ago, except that as to respondent Imelda R. Marcos, she specifically remembers that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. The matters referred to in paragraphs 23 to 26 of the respondents’ answer pertained to the creation of five groups of accounts as well as their respective ending balances and attached documents alleged in paragraphs 24 to 52 of the Republic’s petition for forfeiture. Respondent Imelda R. Marcos never specifically denied the existence of the Swiss funds. Her claim that “the funds involved were lawfully acquired” was an acknowledgment on her part of the existence of said deposits. This only reinforced her earlier admission of the allegation in paragraph 23 of the petition for forfeiture regarding the existence of the US$356 million Swiss bank deposits. The allegations in paragraphs 47[37] and 48[38] of the petition for forfeiture referring to the creation and amount of the deposits of the Rosalys-Aguamina Foundation as well as the averment in paragraph 52-a[39] of the said petition with respect to the sum of the Swiss bank deposits estimated to be US$356
  • 99. million were again not specifically denied by respondents in their answer. The respondents did not at all respond to the issues raised in these paragraphs and the existence, nature and amount of the Swiss funds were therefore deemed admitted by them. As held in Galofa vs. Nee Bon Sing,[40] if a defendant’s denial is a negative pregnant, it is equivalent to an admission. Moreover, respondents’ denial of the allegations in the petition for forfeiture “for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations since respondents were not privy to the transactions” was just a pretense. Mrs. Marcos’ privity to the transactions was in fact evident from her signatures on some of the vital documents[41] attached to the petition for forfeiture which Mrs. Marcos failed to specifically deny as required by the rules.[42] It is worthy to note that the pertinent documents attached to the petition for forfeiture were even signed personally by respondent Mrs. Marcos and her late husband, Ferdinand E. Marcos, indicating that said documents were within their knowledge. As correctly pointed out by Sandiganbayan Justice Francisco Villaruz, Jr. in his dissenting opinion: The pattern of: 1) creating foundations, 2) use of pseudonyms and dummies, 3) approving regulations of the Foundations for the distribution of capital and income of the Foundations to the First and Second beneficiary (who are no other than FM and his family), 4) opening of bank accounts for the Foundations, 5) changing the names of the Foundations, 6) transferring funds and assets of the Foundations to other Foundations or Fides Trust, 7) liquidation of the Foundations as substantiated by the Annexes U to U-168, Petition [for forfeiture] strongly indicate that FM and/or Imelda were the real owners of the assets deposited in the Swiss banks, using the Foundations as dummies.[43] How could respondents therefore claim lack of sufficient knowledge or information regarding the existence of the Swiss bank deposits and the creation of five groups of accounts when Mrs. Marcos and her late husband personally masterminded and participated in the formation and control of said foundations? This is a fact respondent Marcoses were never able to explain. Not only that. Respondents' answer also technically admitted the genuineness and due execution of the Income Tax Returns (ITRs) and the balance sheets of the late Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos attached to the petition for forfeiture, as well as the veracity of the contents thereof. The answer again premised its denials of said ITRs and balance sheets on the ground of lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the contents thereof. Petitioner correctly points out that respondents' denial was not really grounded on lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief but was based on lack of recollection. By reviewing their own records, respondent Marcoses could have easily determined the genuineness and due execution of the ITRs and the balance sheets. They also had the means and opportunity of verifying the same from the records of the BIR and the Office of the President. They did not.
  • 100. When matters regarding which respondents claim to have no knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief are plainly and necessarily within their knowledge, their alleged ignorance or lack of information will not be considered a specific denial.[44] An unexplained denial of information within the control of the pleader, or is readily accessible to him, is evasive and is insufficient to constitute an effective denial.[45] The form of denial adopted by respondents must be availed of with sincerity and in good faith, and certainly not for the purpose of confusing the adverse party as to what allegations of the petition are really being challenged; nor should it be made for the purpose of delay.[46] In the instant case, the Marcoses did not only present unsubstantiated assertions but in truth attempted to mislead and deceive this Court by presenting an obviously contrived defense. Simply put, a profession of ignorance about a fact which is patently and necessarily within the pleader’s knowledge or means of knowing is as ineffective as no denial at all.[47] Respondents’ ineffective denial thus failed to properly tender an issue and the averments contained in the petition for forfeiture were deemed judicially admitted by them. As held in J.P. Juan & Sons, Inc. vs. Lianga Industries, Inc.: Its “specific denial” of the material allegation of the petition without setting forth the substance of the matters relied upon to support its general denial, when such matters were plainly within its knowledge and it could not logically pretend ignorance as to the same, therefore, failed to properly tender on issue.[48] Thus, the general denial of the Marcos children of the allegations in the petition for forfeiture “for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations since they were not privy to the transactions” cannot rightfully be accepted as a defense because they are the legal heirs and successors-in-interest of Ferdinand E. Marcos and are therefore bound by the acts of their father vis-a-vis the Swiss funds. PRE-TRIAL BRIEF DATED OCTOBER 18, 1993 The pre-trial brief of Mrs. Marcos was adopted by the three Marcos children. In said brief, Mrs. Marcos stressed that the funds involved were lawfully acquired. But, as in their answer, they failed to state and substantiate how these funds were acquired lawfully. They failed to present and attach even a single document that would show and prove the truth of their allegations. Section 6, Rule 18 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides: The parties shall file with the court and serve on the adverse party, x x x their respective pre-trial briefs which shall contain, among others: x x x
  • 101. (d) the documents or exhibits to be presented, stating the purpose thereof; x x x (f) the number and names of the witnesses, and the substance of their respective testimonies.[49] It is unquestionably within the court’s power to require the parties to submit their pre-trial briefs and to state the number of witnesses intended to be called to the stand, and a brief summary of the evidence each of them is expected to give as well as to disclose the number of documents to be submitted with a description of the nature of each. The tenor and character of the testimony of the witnesses and of the documents to be deduced at the trial thus made known, in addition to the particular issues of fact and law, it becomes apparent if genuine issues are being put forward necessitating the holding of a trial. Likewise, the parties are obliged not only to make a formal identification and specification of the issues and their proofs, and to put these matters in writing and submit them to the court within the specified period for the prompt disposition of the action.[50] The pre-trial brief of Mrs. Marcos, as subsequently adopted by respondent Marcos children, merely stated: x x x WITNESSES 4.1 Respondent Imelda will present herself as a witness and reserves the right to present additional witnesses as may be necessary in the course of the trial. x x x DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE 5.1 Respondent Imelda reserves the right to present and introduce in evidence documents as may be necessary in the course of the trial. Mrs. Marcos did not enumerate and describe the documents constituting her evidence. Neither the names of witnesses nor the nature of their testimony was stated. What alone appeared certain was the testimony of Mrs. Marcos only who in fact had previously claimed ignorance and lack of knowledge. And even then, the substance of her testimony, as required by the rules, was not made known either. Such cunning tactics of respondents are totally unacceptable to this Court. We hold that, since no genuine issue was raised, the case became ripe for summary judgment. OPPOSITION TO MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
  • 102. DATED MARCH 21, 2000 The opposition filed by Mrs. Marcos to the motion for summary judgment dated March 21, 2000 of petitioner Republic was merely adopted by the Marcos children as their own opposition to the said motion. However, it was again not accompanied by affidavits, depositions or admissions as required by Section 3, Rule 35 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure: x x x The adverse party may serve opposing affidavits, depositions, or admissions at least three (3) days before hearing. After hearing, the judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, supporting affidavits, depositions, and admissions on file, show that, except as to the amount of damages, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.[51] The absence of opposing affidavits, depositions and admissions to contradict the sworn declarations in the Republic’s motion only demonstrated that the averments of such opposition were not genuine and therefore unworthy of belief. Demurrer to Evidence dated May 2, 2000;[52] Motions for Reconsideration;[53] and Memoranda of Mrs. Marcos and the Marcos children[54] All these pleadings again contained no allegations of facts showing their lawful acquisition of the funds. Once more, respondents merely made general denials without alleging facts which would have been admissible in evidence at the hearing, thereby failing to raise genuine issues of fact. Mrs. Marcos insists in her memorandum dated October 21, 2002 that, during the pre-trial, her counsel stated that his client was just a beneficiary of the funds, contrary to petitioner Republic’s allegation that Mrs. Marcos disclaimed ownership of or interest in the funds. This is yet another indication that respondents presented a fictitious defense because, during the pre- trial, Mrs. Marcos and the Marcos children deniedownership of or interest in the Swiss funds: PJ Garchitorena: Make of record that as far as Imelda Marcos is concerned through the statement of Atty. Armando M. Marcelo that the US$360 million more or less subject matter of the instant lawsuit as allegedly obtained from the various Swiss Foundations do not belong to the estate of Marcos or to Imelda Marcos herself. That’s your statement of facts? Atty. MARCELO: Yes, Your Honor.
  • 103. PJ Garchitorena: That’s it. Okay. Counsel for Manotoc and Manotoc, Jr. What is your point here? Does the estate of Marcos own anything of the $360 million subject of this case. Atty. TECSON: We joined the Manifestation of Counsel. PJ Garchitorena: You do not own anything? Atty. TECSON: Yes, Your Honor. PJ Garchitorena: Counsel for Irene Araneta? Atty. SISON: I join the position taken by my other compañeros here, Your Honor. xxx Atty. SISON: Irene Araneta as heir do (sic) not own any of the amount, Your Honor.[55] We are convinced that the strategy of respondent Marcoses was to confuse petitioner Republic as to what facts they would prove or what issues they intended to pose for the court's resolution. There is no doubt in our mind that they were leading petitioner Republic, and now this Court, to perplexity, if not trying to drag this forfeiture case to eternity. Manifestation dated May 26, 1998 filed by MRS. Marcos; General/Supplemental Compromise Agreement dated December 28, 1993 These pleadings of respondent Marcoses presented nothing but feigned defenses. In their earlier pleadings, respondents alleged either that they had no knowledge of the existence of the Swiss deposits
  • 104. or that they could no longer remember anything as it happened a long time ago. As to Mrs. Marcos, she remembered that it was lawfully acquired. In her Manifestation dated May 26, 1998, Mrs. Marcos stated that: COMES NOW undersigned counsel for respondent Imelda R. Marcos, and before this Honorable Court, most respectfully manifests: That respondent Imelda R, Marcos owns 90% of the subject matter of the above-entitled case, being the sole beneficiary of the dollar deposits in the name of the various foundations alleged in the case; That in fact only 10% of the subject matter in the above-entitled case belongs to the estate of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. In the Compromise/Supplemental Agreements, respondent Marcoses sought to implement the agreed distribution of the Marcos assets, including the Swiss deposits. This was, to us, an unequivocal admission of ownership by the Marcoses of the said deposits. But, as already pointed out, during the pre-trial conference, respondent Marcoses denied knowledge as well as ownership of the Swiss funds. Anyway we look at it, respondent Marcoses have put forth no real defense. The “facts” pleaded by respondents, while ostensibly raising important questions or issues of fact, in reality comprised mere verbiage that was evidently wanting in substance and constituted no genuine issues for trial. We therefore rule that, under the circumstances, summary judgment is proper. In fact, it is the law itself which determines when summary judgment is called for. Under the rules, summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues of fact requiring the presentation of evidence in a full-blown trial. Even if on their face the pleadings appear to raise issue, if the affidavits, depositions and admissions show that such issues are not genuine, then summary judgment as prescribed by the rules must ensue as a matter of law.[56] In sum, mere denials, if unaccompanied by any fact which will be admissible in evidence at a hearing, are not sufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and will not defeat a motion for summary judgment.[57] A summary judgment is one granted upon motion of a party for an expeditious settlement of the case, it appearing from the pleadings, depositions, admissions and affidavits that there are no important questions or issues of fact posed and, therefore, the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A motion for summary judgment is premised on the assumption that the issues presented need not be tried either because these are patently devoid of substance or that there is no genuine issue as to any pertinent fact. It is a method sanctioned by the Rules of Court for the prompt disposition of a civil action where there exists no serious controversy.[58] Summary judgment is a procedural device for the prompt
  • 105. disposition of actions in which the pleadings raise only a legal issue, not a genuine issue as to any material fact. The theory of summary judgment is that, although an answer may on its face appear to tender issues requiring trial, if it is established by affidavits, depositions or admissions that those issues are not genuine but fictitious, the Court is justified in dispensing with the trial and rendering summary judgment for petitioner.[59] In the various annexes to the petition for forfeiture, petitioner Republic attached sworn statements of witnesses who had personal knowledge of the Marcoses' participation in the illegal acquisition of funds deposited in the Swiss accounts under the names of five groups or foundations. These sworn statements substantiated the ill-gotten nature of the Swiss bank deposits. In their answer and other subsequent pleadings, however, the Marcoses merely made general denials of the allegations against them without stating facts admissible in evidence at the hearing, thereby failing to raise any genuine issues of fact. Under these circumstances, a trial would have served no purpose at all and would have been totally unnecessary, thus justifying a summary judgment on the petition for forfeiture. There were no opposing affidavits to contradict the sworn declarations of the witnesses of petitioner Republic, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the matters raised in the Marcoses’ answer were false. Time and again, this Court has encountered cases like this which are either only half-heartedly defended or, if the semblance of a defense is interposed at all, it is only to delay disposition and gain time. It is certainly not in the interest of justice to allow respondent Marcoses to avail of the appellate remedies accorded by the Rules of Court to litigants in good faith, to the prejudice of the Republic and ultimately of the Filipino people. From the beginning, a candid demonstration of respondents’ good faith should have been made to the court below. Without the deceptive reasoning and argumentation, this protracted litigation could have ended a long time ago. Since 1991, when the petition for forfeiture was first filed, up to the present, all respondents have offered are foxy responses like “lack of sufficient knowledge or lack of privity” or “they cannot recall because it happened a long time ago” or, as to Mrs. Marcos, “the funds were lawfully acquired.” But, whenever it suits them, they also claim ownership of 90% of the funds and allege that only 10% belongs to the Marcos estate. It has been an incredible charade from beginning to end. In the hope of convincing this Court to rule otherwise, respondents Maria Imelda Marcos-Manotoc and Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. contend that "by its positive acts and express admissions prior to filing the motion for summary judgment on March 10, 2000, petitioner Republic had bound itself to go to trial on the basis of existing issues. Thus, it had legally waived whatever right it had to move for summary judgment."[60] We do not think so. The alleged positive acts and express admissions of the petitioner did not preclude it from filing a motion for summary judgment. Rule 35 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
  • 106. Rule 35 Summary Judgment Section 1. Summary judgment for claimant. - A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory relief may, at any time after the pleading in answer thereto has been served, move with supporting affidavits, depositions or admissions for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof. Section 2. Summary judgment for defending party. - A party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim is asserted or a declaratory relief is sought may, at any time, move with supporting affidavits, depositions or admissions for a summary judgment in his favor as to all or any part thereof. (Emphasis ours)[61] Under the rule, the plaintiff can move for summary judgment “at any time after the pleading in answer thereto (i.e., in answer to the claim, counterclaim or cross-claim) has been served." No fixed reglementary period is provided by the Rules. How else does one construe the phrase "any time after the answer has been served?” This issue is actually one of first impression. No local jurisprudence or authoritative work has touched upon this matter. This being so, an examination of foreign laws and jurisprudence, particularly those of the United States where many of our laws and rules were copied, is in order. Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim or cross-claim may move for summary judgment at any time after the expiration of 20 days from the commencement of the action or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party, and that a party against whom a claim, counterclaim or cross-claim is asserted may move for summary judgment at any time. However, some rules, particularly Rule 113 of the Rules of Civil Practice of New York, specifically provide that a motion for summary judgment may not be made until issues have been joined, that is, only after an answer has been served.[62] Under said rule, after issues have been joined, the motion for summary judgment may be made at any stage of the litigation.[63] No fixed prescriptive period is provided. Like Rule 113 of the Rules of Civil Practice of New York, our rules also provide that a motion for summary judgment may not be made until issues have been joined, meaning, the plaintiff has to wait for the answer before he can move for summary judgment.[64] And like the New York rules, ours do not provide for a fixed reglementary period within which to move for summary judgment.
  • 107. This being so, the New York Supreme Court's interpretation of Rule 113 of the Rules of Civil Practice can be applied by analogy to the interpretation of Section 1, Rule 35, of our 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Under the New York rule, after the issues have been joined, the motion for summary judgment may be made at any stage of the litigation. And what exactly does the phrase "at any stage of the litigation" mean? In Ecker vs. Muzysh,[65] the New York Supreme Court ruled: "PER CURIAM. Plaintiff introduced her evidence and the defendants rested on the case made by the plaintiff. The case was submitted. Owing to the serious illness of the trial justice, a decision was not rendered within sixty days after the final adjournment of the term at which the case was tried. With the approval of the trial justice, the plaintiff moved for a new trial under Section 442 of the Civil Practice Act. The plaintiff also moved for summary judgment under Rule 113 of the Rules of Civil Practice. The motion was opposed mainly on the ground that, by proceeding to trial, the plaintiff had waived her right to summary judgment and that the answer and the opposing affidavits raised triable issues. The amount due and unpaid under the contract is not in dispute. The Special Term granted both motions and the defendants have appealed. The Special Term properly held that the answer and the opposing affidavits raised no triable issue. Rule 113 of the Rules of Civil Practice and the Civil Practice Act prescribe no limitation as to the time when a motion for summary judgment must be made. The object of Rule 113 is to empower the court to summarily determine whether or not a bona fide issue exists between the parties, and there is no limitation on the power of the court to make such a determination at any stage of the litigation." (emphasis ours) On the basis of the aforequoted disquisition, "any stage of the litigation" means that "even if the plaintiff has proceeded to trial, this does not preclude him from thereafter moving for summary judgment."[66] In the case at bar, petitioner moved for summary judgment after pre-trial and before its scheduled date for presentation of evidence. Respondent Marcoses argue that, by agreeing to proceed to trial during the pre-trial conference, petitioner "waived" its right to summary judgment. This argument must fail in the light of the New York Supreme Court ruling which we apply by analogy to this case. In Ecker,[67] the defendant opposed the motion for summary judgment on a ground similar to that raised by the Marcoses, that is, "that plaintiff had waived her right to summary judgment" by her act of proceeding to trial. If, as correctly ruled by the New York court, plaintiff was allowed to move for summary judgment even after trial and submission of the case for resolution, more so should we permit it in the present case where petitioner moved for summary judgment before trial.
  • 108. Therefore, the phrase "anytime after the pleading in answer thereto has been served" in Section 1, Rule 35 of our Rules of Civil Procedure means "at any stage of the litigation." Whenever it becomes evident at any stage of the litigation that no triable issue exists, or that the defenses raised by the defendant(s) are sham or frivolous, plaintiff may move for summary judgment. A contrary interpretation would go against the very objective of the Rule on Summary Judgment which is to "weed out sham claims or defenses thereby avoiding the expense and loss of time involved in a trial."[68] In cases with political undertones like the one at bar, adverse parties will often do almost anything to delay the proceedings in the hope that a future administration sympathetic to them might be able to influence the outcome of the case in their favor. This is rank injustice we cannot tolerate. The law looks with disfavor on long, protracted and expensive litigation and encourages the speedy and prompt disposition of cases. That is why the law and the rules provide for a number of devices to ensure the speedy disposition of cases. Summary judgment is one of them. Faithful therefore to the spirit of the law on summary judgment which seeks to avoid unnecessary expense and loss of time in a trial, we hereby rule that petitioner Republic could validly move for summary judgment any time after the respondents’ answer was filed or, for that matter, at any subsequent stage of the litigation. The fact that petitioner agreed to proceed to trial did not in any way prevent it from moving for summary judgment, as indeed no genuine issue of fact was ever validly raised by respondent Marcoses. This interpretation conforms with the guiding principle enshrined in Section 6, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure that the "[r]ules should be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding."[69] Respondents further allege that the motion for summary judgment was based on respondents' answer and other documents that had long been in the records of the case. Thus, by the time the motion was filed on March 10, 2000, estoppel by laches had already set in against petitioner. We disagree. Estoppel by laches is the failure or neglect for an unreasonable or unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, warranting a presumption that the person has abandoned his right or declined to assert it.[70] In effect, therefore, the principle of laches is one of estoppel because "it prevents people who have slept on their rights from prejudicing the rights of third parties who have placed reliance on the inaction of the original parties and their successors-in-interest".[71] A careful examination of the records, however, reveals that petitioner was in fact never remiss in pursuing its case against respondent Marcoses through every remedy available to it, including the motion for summary judgment.
  • 109. Petitioner Republic initially filed its motion for summary judgment on October 18, 1996. The motion was denied because of the pending compromise agreement between the Marcoses and petitioner. But during the pre-trial conference, the Marcoses denied ownership of the Swiss funds, prompting petitioner to file another motion for summary judgment now under consideration by this Court. It was the subsequent events that transpired after the answer was filed, therefore, which prevented petitioner from filing the questioned motion. It was definitely not because of neglect or inaction that petitioner filed the (second) motion for summary judgment years after respondents' answer to the petition for forfeiture. In invoking the doctrine of estoppel by laches, respondents must show not only unjustified inaction but also that some unfair injury to them might result unless the action is barred.[72] This, respondents failed to bear out. In fact, during the pre-trial conference, the Marcoses disclaimed ownership of the Swiss deposits. Not being the owners, as they claimed, respondents did not have any vested right or interest which could be adversely affected by petitioner's alleged inaction. But even assuming for the sake of argument that laches had already set in, the doctrine of estoppel or laches does not apply when the government sues as a sovereign or asserts governmental rights.[73] Nor can estoppel validate an act that contravenes law or public policy.[74] As a final point, it must be emphasized that laches is not a mere question of time but is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted.[75] Equity demands that petitioner Republic should not be barred from pursuing the people's case against the Marcoses. (2) The Propriety of Forfeiture The matter of summary judgment having been thus settled, the issue of whether or not petitioner Republic was able to prove its case for forfeiture in accordance with the requisites of Sections 2 and 3 of RA 1379 now takes center stage. The law raises the prima facie presumption that a property is unlawfully acquired, hence subject to forfeiture, if its amount or value is manifestly disproportionate to the official salary and other lawful income of the public officer who owns it. Hence, Sections 2 and 6 of RA 1379[76] provide: x x x x x x Section 2. Filing of petition. – Whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount or property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired. x x x x x x
  • 110. Sec. 6. Judgment – If the respondent is unable to show to the satisfaction of the court that he has lawfully acquired the property in question, then the court shall declare such property in question, forfeited in favor of the State, and by virtue of such judgment the property aforesaid shall become the property of the State. Provided, That no judgment shall be rendered within six months before any general election or within three months before any special election. The Court may, in addition, refer this case to the corresponding Executive Department for administrative or criminal action, or both. From the above-quoted provisions of the law, the following facts must be established in order that forfeiture or seizure of the Swiss deposits may be effected: (1) ownership by the public officer of money or property acquired during his incumbency, whether it be in his name or otherwise, and (2) the extent to which the amount of that money or property exceeds, i. e., is grossly disproportionate to, the legitimate income of the public officer. That spouses Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were public officials during the time material to the instant case was never in dispute. Paragraph 4 of respondent Marcoses' answer categorically admitted the allegations in paragraph 4 of the petition for forfeiture as to the personal circumstances of Ferdinand E. Marcos as a public official who served without interruption as Congressman, Senator, Senate President and President of the Republic of the Philippines from December 1, 1965 to February 25, 1986.[77] Likewise, respondents admitted in their answer the contents of paragraph 5 of the petition as to the personal circumstances of Imelda R. Marcos who once served as a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa from 1978 to 1984 and as Metro Manila Governor, concurrently Minister of Human Settlements, from June 1976 to February 1986.[78] Respondent Mrs. Marcos also admitted in paragraph 10 of her answer the allegations of paragraph 11 of the petition for forfeiture which referred to the accumulated salaries of respondents Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos.[79] The combined accumulated salaries of the Marcos couple were reflected in the Certification dated May 27, 1986 issued by then Minister of Budget and Management Alberto Romulo.[80] The Certification showed that, from 1966 to 1985, Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos had accumulated salaries in the amount of P1,570,000 and P718,750, respectively, or a total of P2,288,750: Ferdinand E. Marcos, as President 1966-1976 at P60,000/year P660,000 1977-1984 at P100,000/year 800,000 1985 at P110,000/year 110,000
  • 111. P1,570,00 Imelda R. Marcos, as Minister June 1976-1985 at P75,000/year P718,000 In addition to their accumulated salaries from 1966 to 1985 are the Marcos couple’s combined salaries from January to February 1986 in the amount ofP30,833.33. Hence, their total accumulated salaries amounted to P2,319,583.33. Converted to U.S. dollars on the basis of the corresponding peso- dollar exchange rates prevailing during the applicable period when said salaries were received, the total amount had an equivalent value of $304,372.43. The dollar equivalent was arrived at by using the official annual rates of exchange of the Philippine peso and the US dollar from 1965 to 1985 as well as the official monthly rates of exchange in January and February 1986 issued by the Center for Statistical Information of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Prescinding from the aforesaid admissions, Section 4, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court provides that: Section 4. – Judicial admissions – An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.[81] It is settled that judicial admissions may be made: (a) in the pleadings filed by the parties; (b) in the course of the trial either by verbal or written manifestations or stipulations; or (c) in other stages of judicial proceedings, as in the pre-trial of the case.[82] Thus, facts pleaded in the petition and answer, as in the case at bar, are deemed admissions of petitioner and respondents, respectively, who are not permitted to contradict them or subsequently take a position contrary to or inconsistent with such admissions.[83] The sum of $304,372.43 should be held as the only known lawful income of respondents since they did not file any Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SAL), as required by law, from which their net worth could be determined. Besides, under the 1935 Constitution, Ferdinand E. Marcos as President could not receive “any other emolument from the Government or any of its subdivisions and instrumentalities”.[84] Likewise, under the 1973 Constitution, Ferdinand E. Marcos as President could “not receive during his tenure any other emolument from the Government or any other source.”[85] In fact, his management of businesses, like the administration of foundations to accumulate funds, was expressly prohibited under the 1973 Constitution: Article VII, Sec. 4(2) – The President and the Vice-President shall not, during their tenure, hold any other office except when otherwise provided in this Constitution, nor may they practice any profession, participate directly or indirectly in the management of any business, or be financially interested directly or
  • 112. indirectly in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government or any other subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government owned or controlled corporation. Article VII, Sec. 11 – No Member of the National Assembly shall appear as counsel before any court inferior to a court with appellate jurisdiction, x x x. Neither shall he, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof including any government owned or controlled corporation during his term of office. He shall not intervene in any matter before any office of the government for his pecuniary benefit. Article IX, Sec. 7 – The Prime Minister and Members of the Cabinet shall be subject to the provision of Section 11, Article VIII hereof and may not appear as counsel before any court or administrative body, or manage any business, or practice any profession, and shall also be subject to such other disqualification as may be provided by law. Their only known lawful income of $304,372.43 can therefore legally and fairly serve as basis for determining the existence of a prima facie case of forfeiture of the Swiss funds. Respondents argue that petitioner was not able to establish a prima facie case for the forfeiture of the Swiss funds since it failed to prove the essential elements under Section 3, paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) of RA 1379. As the Act is a penal statute, its provisions are mandatory and should thus be construed strictly against the petitioner and liberally in favor of respondent Marcoses. We hold that it was not for petitioner to establish the Marcoses’ other lawful income or income from legitimately acquired property for the presumption to apply because, as between petitioner and respondents, the latter were in a better position to know if there were such other sources of lawful income. And if indeed there was such other lawful income, respondents should have specifically stated the same in their answer. Insofar as petitioner Republic was concerned, it was enough to specify the known lawful income of respondents. Section 9 of the PCGG Rules and Regulations provides that, in determining prima facie evidence of ill-gotten wealth, the value of the accumulated assets, properties and other material possessions of those covered by Executive Order Nos. 1 and 2 must be out of proportion to the known lawful income of such persons. The respondent Marcos couple did not file any Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SAL) from which their net worth could be determined. Their failure to file their SAL was in itself a violation of law and to allow them to successfully assail the Republic for not presenting their SAL would reward them for their violation of the law.
  • 113. Further, contrary to the claim of respondents, the admissions made by them in their various pleadings and documents were valid. It is of record that respondents judicially admitted that the money deposited with the Swiss banks belonged to them. We agree with petitioner that respondent Marcoses made judicial admissions of their ownership of the subject Swiss bank deposits in their answer, the General/Supplemental Agreements, Mrs. Marcos' Manifestation and Constancia dated May 5, 1999, and the Undertaking dated February 10, 1999. We take note of the fact that the Associate Justices of the Sandiganbayan were unanimous in holding that respondents had made judicial admissions of their ownership of the Swiss funds. In their answer, aside from admitting the existence of the subject funds, respondents likewise admitted ownership thereof. Paragraph 22 of respondents' answer stated: 22. Respondents specifically DENY PARAGRAPH 23 insofar as it alleges that respondents clandestinely stashed the country's wealth in Switzerland and hid the same under layers and layers of foundations and corporate entities for being false, the truth being that respondents' aforesaid properties were lawfully acquired. (emphasis supplied) By qualifying their acquisition of the Swiss bank deposits as lawful, respondents unwittingly admitted their ownership thereof. Respondent Mrs. Marcos also admitted ownership of the Swiss bank deposits by failing to deny under oath the genuineness and due execution of certain actionable documents bearing her signature attached to the petition. As discussed earlier, Section 11, Rule 8[86] of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that material averments in the complaint shall be deemed admitted when not specifically denied. The General[87] and Supplemental[88] Agreements executed by petitioner and respondents on December 28, 1993 further bolstered the claim of petitioner Republic that its case for forfeiture was proven in accordance with the requisites of Sections 2 and 3 of RA 1379. The whereas clause in the General Agreement declared that: WHEREAS, the FIRST PARTY has obtained a judgment from the Swiss Federal Tribunal on December 21, 1990, that the $356 million belongs in principle to the Republic of the Philippines provided certain conditionalities are met, but even after 7 years, the FIRST PARTY has not been able to procure a final judgment of conviction against the PRIVATE PARTY. While the Supplemental Agreement warranted, inter alia, that: In consideration of the foregoing, the parties hereby agree that the PRIVATE PARTY shall be entitled to the equivalent of 25% of the amount that may be eventually withdrawn from said $356 million Swiss deposits.
  • 114. The stipulations set forth in the General and Supplemental Agreements undeniably indicated the manifest intent of respondents to enter into a compromise with petitioner. Corollarily, respondents’ willingness to agree to an amicable settlement with the Republic only affirmed their ownership of the Swiss deposits for the simple reason that no person would acquiesce to any concession over such huge dollar deposits if he did not in fact own them. Respondents make much capital of the pronouncement by this Court that the General and Supplemental Agreements were null and void.[89] They insist that nothing in those agreements could thus be admitted in evidence against them because they stood on the same ground as an accepted offer which, under Section 27, Rule 130[90] of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, provides that “in civil cases, an offer of compromise is not an admission of any liability and is not admissible in evidence against the offeror.” We find no merit in this contention. The declaration of nullity of said agreements was premised on the following constitutional and statutory infirmities: (1) the grant of criminal immunity to the Marcos heirs was against the law; (2) the PCGG’s commitment to exempt from all forms of taxes the properties to be retained by the Marcos heirs was against the Constitution; and (3) the government’s undertaking to cause the dismissal of all cases filed against the Marcoses pending before the Sandiganbayan and other courts encroached on the powers of the judiciary. The reasons relied upon by the Court never in the least bit even touched on the veracity and truthfulness of respondents’ admission with respect to their ownership of the Swiss funds. Besides, having made certain admissions in those agreements, respondents cannot now deny that they voluntarily admitted owning the subject Swiss funds, notwithstanding the fact that the agreements themselves were later declared null and void. The following observation of Sandiganbayan Justice Catalino Castañeda, Jr. in the decision dated September 19, 2000 could not have been better said: x x x The declaration of nullity of the two agreements rendered the same without legal effects but it did not detract from the admissions of the respondents contained therein. Otherwise stated, the admissions made in said agreements, as quoted above, remain binding on the respondents.[91] A written statement is nonetheless competent as an admission even if it is contained in a document which is not itself effective for the purpose for which it is made, either by reason of illegality, or incompetency of a party thereto, or by reason of not being signed, executed or delivered. Accordingly, contracts have been held as competent evidence of admissions, although they may be unenforceable.[92] The testimony of respondent Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. during the hearing on the motion for the approval of the Compromise Agreement on April 29, 1998 also lent credence to the allegations of
  • 115. petitioner Republic that respondents admitted ownership of the Swiss bank accounts. We quote the salient portions of Ferdinand Jr.’s formal declarations in open court: ATTY. FERNANDO: Mr. Marcos, did you ever have any meetings with PCGG Chairman Magtanggol C. Gunigundo? F. MARCOS, JR.: Yes. I have had very many meetings in fact with Chairman. ATTY. FERNANDO: Would you recall when the first meeting occurred? PJ GARCHITORENA: In connection with what? ATTY. FERNANDO: In connection with the ongoing talks to compromise the various cases initiated by PCGG against your family? F. MARCOS, JR.: The nature of our meetings was solely concerned with negotiations towards achieving some kind of agreement between the Philippine government and the Marcos family. The discussions that led up to the compromise agreement were initiated by our then counsel Atty. Simeon Mesina x x x.[93] xxx xxx xxx ATTY. FERNANDO: What was your reaction when Atty. Mesina informed you of this possibility? F. MARCOS, JR.: My reaction to all of these approaches is that I am always open, we are always open, we are very much always in search of resolution to the problem of the family and any approach that has been made us, we have entertained. And so my reaction was the same as what I have always … why not? Maybe this is the one that will finally put an end to this problem.[94] xxx xxx xxx ATTY. FERNANDO: Basically, what were the true amounts of the assets in the bank?
  • 116. PJ GARCHITORENA: So, we are talking about liquid assets here? Just Cash? F. MARCOS, JR.: Well, basically, any assets. Anything that was under the Marcos name in any of the banks in Switzerland which may necessarily be not cash.[95] xxx xxx xxx PJ GARCHITORENA: x x x What did you do in other words, after being apprised of this contract in connection herewith? F. MARCOS, JR.: I assumed that we are beginning to implement the agreement because this was forwarded through the Philippine government lawyers through our lawyers and then, subsequently, to me. I was a little surprised because we hadn’t really discussed the details of the transfer of the funds, what the bank accounts, what the mechanism would be. But nevertheless, I was happy to see that as far as the PCGG is concerned, that the agreement was perfected and that we were beginning to implement it and that was a source of satisfaction to me because I thought that finally it will be the end.[96] Ferdinand Jr.'s pronouncements, taken in context and in their entirety, were a confirmation of respondents’ recognition of their ownership of the Swiss bank deposits. Admissions of a party in his testimony are receivable against him. If a party, as a witness, deliberately concedes a fact, such concession has the force of a judicial admission.[97] It is apparent from Ferdinand Jr.’s testimony that the Marcos family agreed to negotiate with the Philippine government in the hope of finally putting an end to the problems besetting the Marcos family regarding the Swiss accounts. This was doubtlessly an acknowledgment of ownership on their part. The rule is that the testimony on the witness stand partakes of the nature of a formal judicial admission when a party testifies clearly and unequivocally to a fact which is peculiarly within his own knowledge.[98] In her Manifestation[99] dated May 26, 1998, respondent Imelda Marcos furthermore revealed the following: That respondent Imelda R. Marcos owns 90% of the subject matter of the above-entitled case, being the sole beneficiary of the dollar deposits in the name of the various foundations alleged in the case; That in fact only 10% of the subject matter in the above-entitled case belongs to the estate of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos;
  • 117. xxx xxx xxx Respondents’ ownership of the Swiss bank accounts as borne out by Mrs. Marcos' manifestation is as bright as sunlight. And her claim that she is merely a beneficiary of the Swiss deposits is belied by her own signatures on the appended copies of the documents substantiating her ownership of the funds in the name of the foundations. As already mentioned, she failed to specifically deny under oath the authenticity of such documents, especially those involving “William Saunders” and “Jane Ryan” which actually referred to Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos, respectively. That failure of Imelda Marcos to specifically deny the existence, much less the genuineness and due execution, of the instruments bearing her signature, was tantamount to a judicial admission of the genuineness and due execution of said instruments, in accordance with Section 8, Rule 8[100] of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Likewise, in her Constancia[101] dated May 6, 1999, Imelda Marcos prayed for the approval of the Compromise Agreement and the subsequent release and transfer of the $150 million to the rightful owner. She further made the following manifestations: xxx xxx xxx 2. The Republic’s cause of action over the full amount is its forfeiture in favor of the government if found to be ill-gotten. On the other hand, the Marcoses defend that it is a legitimate asset. Therefore, both parties have an inchoate right of ownership over the account. If it turns out that the account is of lawful origin, the Republic may yield to the Marcoses. Conversely, the Marcoses must yield to the Republic. (underscoring supplied) xxx xxx xxx 3. Consistent with the foregoing, and the Marcoses having committed themselves to helping the less fortunate, in the interest of peace, reconciliation and unity, defendant MADAM IMELDA ROMUALDEZ MARCOS, in firm abidance thereby, hereby affirms her agreement with the Republic for the release and transfer of the US Dollar 150 million for proper disposition, without prejudice to the final outcome of the litigation respecting the ownership of the remainder. Again, the above statements were indicative of Imelda’s admission of the Marcoses’ ownership of the Swiss deposits as in fact “the Marcoses defend that it (Swiss deposits) is a legitimate (Marcos) asset.” On the other hand, respondents Maria Imelda Marcos-Manotoc, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Maria Irene Marcos-Araneta filed a motion[102] on May 4, 1998 asking the Sandiganbayan to place the res (Swiss deposits) in custodia legis:
  • 118. 7. Indeed, the prevailing situation is fraught with danger! Unless the aforesaid Swiss deposits are placed in custodia legis or within the Court’s protective mantle, its dissipation or misappropriation by the petitioner looms as a distinct possibility. Such display of deep, personal interest can only come from someone who believes that he has a marked and intimate right over the considerable dollar deposits. Truly, by filing said motion, the Marcos children revealed their ownership of the said deposits. Lastly, the Undertaking[103] entered into by the PCGG, the PNB and the Marcos foundations on February 10, 1999, confirmed the Marcoses’ ownership of the Swiss bank deposits. The subject Undertaking brought to light their readiness to pay the human rights victims out of the funds held in escrow in the PNB. It stated: WHEREAS, the Republic of the Philippines sympathizes with the plight of the human rights victims- plaintiffs in the aforementioned litigation through the Second Party, desires to assist in the satisfaction of the judgment awards of said human rights victims-plaintiffs, by releasing, assigning and or waiving US$150 million of the funds held in escrow under the Escrow Agreements dated August 14, 1995, although the Republic is not obligated to do so under final judgments of the Swiss courts dated December 10 and 19, 1997, and January 8, 1998; WHEREAS, the Third Party is likewise willing to release, assign and/or waive all its rights and interests over said US$150 million to the aforementioned human rights victims-plaintiffs. All told, the foregoing disquisition negates the claim of respondents that “petitioner failed to prove that they acquired or own the Swiss funds” and that “it was only by arbitrarily isolating and taking certain statements made by private respondents out of context that petitioner was able to treat these as judicial admissions.” The Court is fully aware of the relevance, materiality and implications of every pleading and document submitted in this case. This Court carefully scrutinized the proofs presented by the parties. We analyzed, assessed and weighed them to ascertain if each piece of evidence rightfully qualified as an admission. Owing to the far-reaching historical and political implications of this case, we considered and examined, individually and totally, the evidence of the parties, even if it might have bordered on factual adjudication which, by authority of the rules and jurisprudence, is not usually done by this Court. There is no doubt in our mind that respondent Marcoses admitted ownership of the Swiss bank deposits. We have always adhered to the familiar doctrine that an admission made in the pleadings cannot be controverted by the party making such admission and becomes conclusive on him, and that all proofs submitted by him contrary thereto or inconsistent therewith should be ignored, whether an objection is interposed by the adverse party or not.[104] This doctrine is embodied in Section 4, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court:
  • 119. SEC. 4. Judicial admissions. ─ An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.[105] In the absence of a compelling reason to the contrary, respondents’ judicial admission of ownership of the Swiss deposits is definitely binding on them. The individual and separate admissions of each respondent bind all of them pursuant to Sections 29 and 31, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court: SEC. 29. Admission by co-partner or agent. ─ The act or declaration of a partner or agent of the party within the scope of his authority and during the existence of the partnership or agency, may be given in evidence against such party after the partnership or agency is shown by evidence other than such act or declaration. The same rule applies to the act or declaration of a joint owner, joint debtor, or other person jointly interested with the party.[106] SEC. 31. Admission by privies. ─ Where one derives title to property from another, the act, declaration, or omission of the latter, while holding the title, in relation to the property, is evidence against the former.[107] The declarations of a person are admissible against a party whenever a “privity of estate” exists between the declarant and the party, the term “privity of estate” generally denoting a succession in rights.[108] Consequently, an admission of one in privity with a party to the record is competent.[109] Without doubt, privity exists among the respondents in this case. And where several co- parties to the record are jointly interested in the subject matter of the controversy, the admission of one is competent against all.[110] Respondents insist that the Sandiganbayan is correct in ruling that petitioner Republic has failed to establish a prima facie case for the forfeiture of the Swiss deposits. We disagree. The sudden turn-around of the Sandiganbayan was really strange, to say the least, as its findings and conclusions were not borne out by the voluminous records of this case. Section 2 of RA 1379 explicitly states that “whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired. x x x” The elements which must concur for this prima facie presumption to apply are: (1) the offender is a public officer or employee;
  • 120. (2) he must have acquired a considerable amount of money or property during his incumbency; and (3) said amount is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property. It is undisputed that spouses Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were former public officers. Hence, the first element is clearly extant. The second element deals with the amount of money or property acquired by the public officer during his incumbency. The Marcos couple indubitably acquired and owned properties during their term of office. In fact, the five groups of Swiss accounts were admittedly owned by them. There is proof of the existence and ownership of these assets and properties and it suffices to comply with the second element. The third requirement is met if it can be shown that such assets, money or property is manifestly out of proportion to the public officer’s salary and his other lawful income. It is the proof of this third element that is crucial in determining whether a prima facie presumption has been established in this case. Petitioner Republic presented not only a schedule indicating the lawful income of the Marcos spouses during their incumbency but also evidence that they had huge deposits beyond such lawful income in Swiss banks under the names of five different foundations. We believe petitioner was able to establish the prima faciepresumption that the assets and properties acquired by the Marcoses were manifestly and patently disproportionate to their aggregate salaries as public officials. Otherwise stated, petitioner presented enough evidence to convince us that the Marcoses had dollar deposits amounting to US $356 million representing the balance of the Swiss accounts of the five foundations, an amount way, way beyond their aggregate legitimate income of only US$304,372.43 during their incumbency as government officials. Considering, therefore, that the total amount of the Swiss deposits was considerably out of proportion to the known lawful income of the Marcoses, the presumption that said dollar deposits were unlawfully acquired was duly established. It was sufficient for the petition for forfeiture to state the approximate amount of money and property acquired by the respondents, and their total government salaries. Section 9 of the PCGG Rules and Regulations states: Prima Facie Evidence. – Any accumulation of assets, properties, and other material possessions of those persons covered by Executive Orders No. 1 and No. 2, whose value is out of proportion to their known lawful income is prima facie deemed ill-gotten wealth.
  • 121. Indeed, the burden of proof was on the respondents to dispute this presumption and show by clear and convincing evidence that the Swiss deposits were lawfully acquired and that they had other legitimate sources of income. A presumption is prima facie proof of the fact presumed and, unless the fact thus prima facie established by legal presumption is disproved, it must stand as proved.[111] Respondent Mrs. Marcos argues that the foreign foundations should have been impleaded as they were indispensable parties without whom no complete determination of the issues could be made. She asserts that the failure of petitioner Republic to implead the foundations rendered the judgment void as the joinder of indispensable parties was a sine qua non exercise of judicial power. Furthermore, the non- inclusion of the foreign foundations violated the conditions prescribed by the Swiss government regarding the deposit of the funds in escrow, deprived them of their day in court and denied them their rights under the Swiss constitution and international law.[112] The Court finds that petitioner Republic did not err in not impleading the foreign foundations. Section 7, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,[113] taken from Rule 19b of the American Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, provides for the compulsory joinder of indispensable parties. Generally, an indispensable party must be impleaded for the complete determination of the suit. However, failure to join an indispensable party does not divest the court of jurisdiction since the rule regarding indispensable parties is founded on equitable considerations and is not jurisdictional. Thus, the court is not divested of its power to render a decision even in the absence of indispensable parties, though such judgment is not binding on the non-joined party.[114] An indispensable party[115] has been defined as one: [who] must have a direct interest in the litigation; and if this interest is such that it cannot be separated from that of the parties to the suit, if the court cannot render justice between the parties in his absence, if the decree will have an injurious effect upon his interest, or if the final determination of the controversy in his absence will be inconsistent with equity and good conscience. There are two essential tests of an indispensable party: (1) can relief be afforded the plaintiff without the presence of the other party? and (2) can the case be decided on its merits without prejudicing the rights of the other party?[116] There is, however, no fixed formula for determining who is an indispensable party; this can only be determined in the context and by the facts of the particular suit or litigation. In the present case, there was an admission by respondent Imelda Marcos in her May 26, 1998 Manifestation before the Sandiganbayan that she was the sole beneficiary of 90% of the subject matter in controversy with the remaining 10% belonging to the estate of Ferdinand Marcos.[117] Viewed against this admission, the foreign foundations were not indispensable parties. Their non-participation in the proceedings did not prevent the court from deciding the case on its merits and according full relief to petitioner Republic. The judgment ordering the return of the $356 million was neither inimical to the
  • 122. foundations’ interests nor inconsistent with equity and good conscience. The admission of respondent Imelda Marcos only confirmed what was already generally known: that the foundations were established precisely to hide the money stolen by the Marcos spouses from petitioner Republic. It negated whatever illusion there was, if any, that the foreign foundations owned even a nominal part of the assets in question. The rulings of the Swiss court that the foundations, as formal owners, must be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings hinged on the assumption that they owned a nominal share of the assets.[118] But this was already refuted by no less than Mrs. Marcos herself. Thus, she cannot now argue that the ruling of the Sandiganbayan violated the conditions set by the Swiss court. The directive given by the Swiss court for the foundations to participate in the proceedings was for the purpose of protecting whatever nominal interest they might have had in the assets as formal owners. But inasmuch as their ownership was subsequently repudiated by Imelda Marcos, they could no longer be considered as indispensable parties and their participation in the proceedings became unnecessary. In Republic vs. Sandiganbayan,[119] this Court ruled that impleading the firms which are the res of the action was unnecessary: “And as to corporations organized with ill-gotten wealth, but are not themselves guilty of misappropriation, fraud or other illicit conduct – in other words, the companies themselves are not the object or thing involved in the action, the res thereof – there is no need to implead them either. Indeed, their impleading is not proper on the strength alone of their having been formed with ill-gotten funds, absent any other particular wrongdoing on their part… Such showing of having been formed with, or having received ill-gotten funds, however strong or convincing, does not, without more, warrant identifying the corporations in question with the person who formed or made use of them to give the color or appearance of lawful, innocent acquisition to illegally amassed wealth – at the least, not so as place on the Government the onus of impleading the former with the latter in actions to recover such wealth. Distinguished in terms of juridical personality and legal culpability from their erring members or stockholders, said corporations are not themselves guilty of the sins of the latter, of the embezzlement, asportation, etc., that gave rise to the Government’s cause of action for recovery; their creation or organization was merely the result of their members’ (or stockholders’) manipulations and maneuvers to conceal the illegal origins of the assets or monies invested therein. In this light, they are simply the res in the actions for the recovery of illegally acquired wealth, and there is, in principle, no cause of action against them and no ground to implead them as defendants in said actions.” Just like the corporations in the aforementioned case, the foreign foundations here were set up to conceal the illegally acquired funds of the Marcos spouses. Thus, they were simply the res in the action
  • 123. for recovery of ill-gotten wealth and did not have to be impleaded for lack of cause of action or ground to implead them. Assuming arguendo, however, that the foundations were indispensable parties, the failure of petitioner to implead them was a curable error, as held in the previously cited case of Republic vs. Sandiganbayan:[120] “Even in those cases where it might reasonably be argued that the failure of the Government to implead the sequestered corporations as defendants is indeed a procedural abberation, as where said firms were allegedly used, and actively cooperated with the defendants, as instruments or conduits for conversion of public funds and property or illicit or fraudulent obtention of favored government contracts, etc., slight reflection would nevertheless lead to the conclusion that the defect is not fatal, but one correctible under applicable adjective rules – e.g., Section 10, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court [specifying the remedy of amendment during trial to authorize or to conform to the evidence]; Section 1, Rule 20 [governing amendments before trial], in relation to the rule respecting omission of so-called necessary or indispensable parties, set out in Section 11, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. It is relevant in this context to advert to the old familiar doctrines that the omission to implead such parties “is a mere technical defect which can be cured at any stage of the proceedings even after judgment”; and that, particularly in the case of indispensable parties, since their presence and participation is essential to the very life of the action, for without them no judgment may be rendered, amendments of the complaint in order to implead them should be freely allowed, even on appeal, in fact even after rendition of judgment by this Court, where it appears that the complaint otherwise indicates their identity and character as such indispensable parties.”[121] Although there are decided cases wherein the non-joinder of indispensable parties in fact led to the dismissal of the suit or the annulment of judgment, such cases do not jibe with the matter at hand. The better view is that non-joinder is not a ground to dismiss the suit or annul the judgment. The rule on joinder of indispensable parties is founded on equity. And the spirit of the law is reflected in Section 11, Rule 3[122] of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. It prohibits the dismissal of a suit on the ground of non- joinder or misjoinder of parties and allows the amendment of the complaint at any stage of the proceedings, through motion or on order of the court on its own initiative.[123] Likewise, jurisprudence on the Federal Rules of Procedure, from which our Section 7, Rule 3[124] on indispensable parties was copied, allows the joinder of indispensable parties even after judgment has been entered if such is needed to afford the moving party full relief.[125] Mere delay in filing the joinder motion does not necessarily result in the waiver of the right as long as the delay is excusable.[126] Thus, respondent Mrs. Marcos cannot correctly argue that the judgment rendered by the Sandiganbayan was void due to the non-joinder of the foreign foundations. The court had jurisdiction to render judgment which, even in the absence of indispensable parties, was binding on all the parties before it though not
  • 124. on the absent party.[127] If she really felt that she could not be granted full relief due to the absence of the foreign foundations, she should have moved for their inclusion, which was allowable at any stage of the proceedings. She never did. Instead she assailed the judgment rendered. In the face of undeniable circumstances and the avalanche of documentary evidence against them, respondent Marcoses failed to justify the lawful nature of their acquisition of the said assets. Hence, the Swiss deposits should be considered ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favor of the State in accordance with Section 6 of RA 1379: SEC. 6. Judgment.─ If the respondent is unable to show to the satisfaction of the court that he has lawfully acquired the property in question, then the court shall declare such property forfeited in favor of the State, and by virtue of such judgment the property aforesaid shall become property of the State x x x. THE FAILURE TO PRESENT AUTHENTICATED TRANSLATIONS OF THE SWISS DECISIONS Finally, petitioner Republic contends that the Honorable Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena committed grave abuse of discretion in reversing himself on the ground that the original copies of the authenticated Swiss decisions and their authenticated translations were not submitted to the court a quo. Earlier PJ Garchitorena had quoted extensively from the unofficial translation of one of these Swiss decisions in his ponencia dated July 29, 1999 when he denied the motion to release US$150 Million to the human rights victims. While we are in reality perplexed by such an incomprehensible change of heart, there might nevertheless not be any real need to belabor the issue. The presentation of the authenticated translations of the original copies of the Swiss decision was not de rigueur for the public respondent to make findings of fact and reach its conclusions. In short, the Sandiganbayan’s decision was not dependent on the determination of the Swiss courts. For that matter, neither is this Court’s. The release of the Swiss funds held in escrow in the PNB is dependent solely on the decision of this jurisdiction that said funds belong to the petitioner Republic. What is important is our own assessment of the sufficiency of the evidence to rule in favor of either petitioner Republic or respondent Marcoses. In this instance, despite the absence of the authenticated translations of the Swiss decisions, the evidence on hand tilts convincingly in favor of petitioner Republic. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated January 31, 2002 is SET ASIDE. The Swiss deposits which were transferred to and are now deposited in escrow at the Philippine National Bank in the estimated aggregate amount of US$658,175,373.60 as of January 31, 2002, plus interest, are hereby forfeited in favor of petitioner Republic of the Philippines.
  • 125. SO ORDERED.
  • 126. G.R. No. 118295 May 2, 1997 WIGBERTO E. TAÑADA and ANNA DOMINIQUE COSETENG, as members of the Philippine Senate and as taxpayers et al petitioners, vs. EDGARDO ANGARA, et al, respondents. PANGANIBAN, J.: The emergence on January 1, 1995 of the World Trade Organization, abetted by the membership thereto of the vast majority of countries has revolutionized international business and economic relations amongst states. It has irreversibly propelled the world towards trade liberalization and economic globalization. Liberalization, globalization, deregulation and privatization, the third-millennium buzz words, are ushering in a new borderless world of business by sweeping away as mere historical relics the heretofore traditional modes of promoting and protecting national economies like tariffs, export subsidies, import quotas, quantitative restrictions, tax exemptions and currency controls. Finding market niches and becoming the best in specific industries in a market-driven and export-oriented global scenario are replacing age-old "beggar-thy-neighbor" policies that unilaterally protect weak and inefficient domestic producers of goods and services. In the words of Peter Drucker, the well-known management guru, "Increased participation in the world economy has become the key to domestic economic growth and prosperity." Brief Historical Background To hasten worldwide recovery from the devastation wrought by the Second World War, plans for the establishment of three multilateral institutions — inspired by that grand political body, the United Nations — were discussed at Dumbarton Oaks and Bretton Woods. The first was the World Bank (WB) which was to address the rehabilitation and reconstruction of war-ravaged and later developing countries; the second, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was to deal with currency problems; and the third, the International Trade Organization (ITO), which was to foster order and predictability in world trade and to minimize unilateral protectionist policies that invite challenge, even retaliation, from other states. However, for a variety of reasons, including its non-ratification by the United States, the ITO, unlike the IMF and WB, never took off. What remained was only GATT — the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. GATT was a collection of treaties governing access to the economies of treaty adherents with no institutionalized body administering the agreements or dependable system of dispute settlement. After half a century and several dizzying rounds of negotiations, principally the Kennedy Round, the Tokyo Round and the Uruguay Round, the world finally gave birth to that administering body — the
  • 127. World Trade Organization — with the signing of the "Final Act" in Marrakesh, Morocco and the ratification of the WTO Agreement by its members. 1 Like many other developing countries, the Philippines joined WTO as a founding member with the goal, as articulated by President Fidel V. Ramos in two letters to the Senate (infra), of improving "Philippine access to foreign markets, especially its major trading partners, through the reduction of tariffs on its exports, particularly agricultural and industrial products." The President also saw in the WTO the opening of "new opportunities for the services sector . . . , (the reduction of) costs and uncertainty associated with exporting . . . , and (the attraction of) more investments into the country." Although the Chief Executive did not expressly mention it in his letter, the Philippines — and this is of special interest to the legal profession — will benefit from the WTO system of dispute settlement by judicial adjudication through the independent WTO settlement bodies called (1) Dispute Settlement Panels and (2) Appellate Tribunal. Heretofore, trade disputes were settled mainly through negotiations where solutions were arrived at frequently on the basis of relative bargaining strengths, and where naturally, weak and underdeveloped countries were at a disadvantage. The Petition in Brief Arguing mainly (1) that the WTO requires the Philippines "to place nationals and products of member- countries on the same footing as Filipinos and local products" and (2) that the WTO "intrudes, limits and/or impairs" the constitutional powers of both Congress and the Supreme Court, the instant petition before this Court assails the WTO Agreement for violating the mandate of the 1987 Constitution to "develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos . . . (to) give preference to qualified Filipinos (and to) promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods." Simply stated, does the Philippine Constitution prohibit Philippine participation in worldwide trade liberalization and economic globalization? Does it proscribe Philippine integration into a global economy that is liberalized, deregulated and privatized? These are the main questions raised in this petition for certiorari, prohibition andmandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court praying (1) for the nullification, on constitutional grounds, of the concurrence of the Philippine Senate in the ratification by the President of the Philippines of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO Agreement, for brevity) and (2) for the prohibition of its implementation and enforcement through the release and utilization of public funds, the assignment of public officials and employees, as well as the use of government properties and resources by respondent-heads of various executive offices concerned therewith. This concurrence is embodied in Senate Resolution No. 97, dated December 14, 1994. The Facts
  • 128. On April 15, 1994, Respondent Rizalino Navarro, then Secretary of The Department of Trade and Industry (Secretary Navarro, for brevity), representing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, signed in Marrakesh, Morocco, the Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Negotiations (Final Act, for brevity). By signing the Final Act, 2 Secretary Navarro on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, agreed: (a) to submit, as appropriate, the WTO Agreement for the consideration of their respective competent authorities, with a view to seeking approval of the Agreement in accordance with their procedures; and (b) to adopt the Ministerial Declarations and Decisions. On August 12, 1994, the members of the Philippine Senate received a letter dated August 11, 1994 from the President of the Philippines, 3 stating among others that "the Uruguay Round Final Act is hereby submitted to the Senate for its concurrence pursuant to Section 21, Article VII of the Constitution." On August 13, 1994, the members of the Philippine Senate received another letter from the President of the Philippines 4 likewise dated August 11, 1994, which stated among others that "the Uruguay Round Final Act, the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, the Ministerial Declarations and Decisions, and the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services are hereby submitted to the Senate for its concurrence pursuant to Section 21, Article VII of the Constitution." On December 9, 1994, the President of the Philippines certified the necessity of the immediate adoption of P.S. 1083, a resolution entitled "Concurring in the Ratification of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization." 5 On December 14, 1994, the Philippine Senate adopted Resolution No. 97 which "Resolved, as it is hereby resolved, that the Senate concur, as it hereby concurs, in the ratification by the President of the Philippines of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization." 6 The text of the WTO Agreement is written on pages 137 et seq. of Volume I of the 36-volume Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and includes various agreements and associated legal instruments (identified in the said Agreement as Annexes 1, 2 and 3 thereto and collectively referred to as Multilateral Trade Agreements, for brevity) as follows: ANNEX 1 Annex 1A: Multilateral Agreement on Trade in Goods General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 Agreement on Agriculture
  • 129. Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement on Textiles and Clothing Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures Agreement on Implementation of Article VI of he General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 Agreement on Implementation of Article VII of the General on Tariffs and Trade 1994 Agreement on Pre-Shipment Inspection Agreement on Rules of Origin Agreement on Imports Licensing Procedures Agreement on Subsidies and Coordinating Measures Agreement on Safeguards Annex 1B: General Agreement on Trade in Services and Annexes Annex 1C: Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ANNEX 2 Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes ANNEX 3 Trade Policy Review Mechanism On December 16, 1994, the President of the Philippines signed 7 the Instrument of Ratification, declaring: NOW THEREFORE, be it known that I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the Philippines, after having seen and considered the aforementioned Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and the agreements and associated legal instruments included in Annexes one (1), two (2) and three (3) of that Agreement which are integral parts thereof, signed at Marrakesh, Morocco on 15 April 1994, do hereby ratify and confirm the same and every Article and Clause thereof.
  • 130. To emphasize, the WTO Agreement ratified by the President of the Philippines is composed of the Agreement Proper and "the associated legal instruments included in Annexes one (1), two (2) and three (3) of that Agreement which are integral parts thereof." On the other hand, the Final Act signed by Secretary Navarro embodies not only the WTO Agreement (and its integral annexes aforementioned) but also (1) the Ministerial Declarations and Decisions and (2) the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services. In his Memorandum dated May 13, 1996, 8 the Solicitor General describes these two latter documents as follows: The Ministerial Decisions and Declarations are twenty-five declarations and decisions on a wide range of matters, such as measures in favor of least developed countries, notification procedures, relationship of WTO with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and agreements on technical barriers to trade and on dispute settlement. The Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services dwell on, among other things, standstill or limitations and qualifications of commitments to existing non-conforming measures, market access, national treatment, and definitions of non-resident supplier of financial services, commercial presence and new financial service. On December 29, 1994, the present petition was filed. After careful deliberation on respondents' comment and petitioners' reply thereto, the Court resolved on December 12, 1995, to give due course to the petition, and the parties thereafter filed their respective memoranda. The court also requested the Honorable Lilia R. Bautista, the Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations stationed in Geneva, Switzerland, to submit a paper, hereafter referred to as "Bautista Paper," 9 for brevity, (1) providing a historical background of and (2) summarizing the said agreements. During the Oral Argument held on August 27, 1996, the Court directed: (a) the petitioners to submit the (1) Senate Committee Report on the matter in controversy and (2) the transcript of proceedings/hearings in the Senate; and (b) the Solicitor General, as counsel for respondents, to file (1) a list of Philippine treaties signed prior to the Philippine adherence to the WTO Agreement, which derogate from Philippine sovereignty and (2) copies of the multi-volume WTO Agreement and other documents mentioned in the Final Act, as soon as possible. After receipt of the foregoing documents, the Court said it would consider the case submitted for resolution. In a Compliance dated September 16, 1996, the Solicitor General submitted a printed copy of the 36-volume Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, and in another Compliance dated
  • 131. October 24, 1996, he listed the various "bilateral or multilateral treaties or international instruments involving derogation of Philippine sovereignty." Petitioners, on the other hand, submitted their Compliance dated January 28, 1997, on January 30, 1997. The Issues In their Memorandum dated March 11, 1996, petitioners summarized the issues as follows: A. Whether the petition presents a political question or is otherwise not justiciable. B. Whether the petitioner members of the Senate who participated in the deliberations and voting leading to the concurrence are estopped from impugning the validity of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization or of the validity of the concurrence. C. Whether the provisions of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization contravene the provisions of Sec. 19, Article II, and Secs. 10 and 12, Article XII, all of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. D. Whether provisions of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization unduly limit, restrict and impair Philippine sovereignty specifically the legislative power which, under Sec. 2, Article VI, 1987 Philippine Constitution is "vested in the Congress of the Philippines"; E. Whether provisions of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization interfere with the exercise of judicial power. F. Whether the respondent members of the Senate acted in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when they voted for concurrence in the ratification of the constitutionally-infirm Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization. G. Whether the respondent members of the Senate acted in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when they concurred only in the ratification of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, and not with the Presidential submission which included the Final Act, Ministerial Declaration and Decisions, and the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services. On the other hand, the Solicitor General as counsel for respondents "synthesized the several issues raised by petitioners into the following": 10
  • 132. 1. Whether or not the provisions of the "Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and the Agreements and Associated Legal Instruments included in Annexes one (1), two (2) and three (3) of that agreement" cited by petitioners directly contravene or undermine the letter, spirit and intent of Section 19, Article II and Sections 10 and 12, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. 2. Whether or not certain provisions of the Agreement unduly limit, restrict or impair the exercise of legislative power by Congress. 3. Whether or not certain provisions of the Agreement impair the exercise of judicial power by this Honorable Court in promulgating the rules of evidence. 4. Whether or not the concurrence of the Senate "in the ratification by the President of the Philippines of the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization" implied rejection of the treaty embodied in the Final Act. By raising and arguing only four issues against the seven presented by petitioners, the Solicitor General has effectively ignored three, namely: (1) whether the petition presents a political question or is otherwise not justiciable; (2) whether petitioner-members of the Senate (Wigberto E. Tañada and Anna Dominique Coseteng) are estopped from joining this suit; and (3) whether the respondent-members of the Senate acted in grave abuse of discretion when they voted for concurrence in the ratification of the WTO Agreement. The foregoing notwithstanding, this Court resolved to deal with these three issues thus: (1) The "political question" issue — being very fundamental and vital, and being a matter that probes into the very jurisdiction of this Court to hear and decide this case — was deliberated upon by the Court and will thus be ruled upon as the first issue; (2) The matter of estoppel will not be taken up because this defense is waivable and the respondents have effectively waived it by not pursuing it in any of their pleadings; in any event, this issue, even if ruled in respondents' favor, will not cause the petition's dismissal as there are petitioners other than the two senators, who are not vulnerable to the defense of estoppel; and (3) The issue of alleged grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent senators will be taken up as an integral part of the disposition of the four issues raised by the Solicitor General. During its deliberations on the case, the Court noted that the respondents did not question the locus standi of petitioners. Hence, they are also deemed to have waived the benefit of such issue. They probably realized that grave constitutional issues, expenditures of public funds and serious international commitments of the nation are involved here, and that transcendental public interest requires that the
  • 133. substantive issues be met head on and decided on the merits, rather than skirted or deflected by procedural matters. 11 To recapitulate, the issues that will be ruled upon shortly are: (1) DOES THE PETITION PRESENT A JUSTICIABLE CONTROVERSY? OTHERWISE STATED, DOES THE PETITION INVOLVE A POLITICAL QUESTION OVER WHICH THIS COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION? (2) DO THE PROVISIONS OF THE WTO AGREEMENT AND ITS THREE ANNEXES CONTRAVENE SEC. 19, ARTICLE II, AND SECS. 10 AND 12, ARTICLE XII, OF THE PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION? (3) DO THE PROVISIONS OF SAID AGREEMENT AND ITS ANNEXES LIMIT, RESTRICT, OR IMPAIR THE EXERCISE OF LEGISLATIVE POWER BY CONGRESS? (4) DO SAID PROVISIONS UNDULY IMPAIR OR INTERFERE WITH THE EXERCISE OF JUDICIAL POWER BY THIS COURT IN PROMULGATING RULES ON EVIDENCE? (5) WAS THE CONCURRENCEOF THE SENATE IN THE WTO AGREEMENT AND ITS ANNEXES SUFFICIENT AND/OR VALID, CONSIDERING THAT IT DID NOT INCLUDE THE FINAL ACT, MINISTERIAL DECLARATIONS AND DECISIONS, AND THE UNDERSTANDING ON COMMITMENTS IN FINANCIAL SERVICES? The First Issue: Does the Court Have Jurisdiction Over the Controversy? In seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravenes the Constitution, the petition no doubt raises a justiciable controversy. Where an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. "The question thus posed is judicial rather than political. The duty (to adjudicate) remains to assure that the supremacy of the Constitution is upheld." 12 Once a "controversy as to the application or interpretation of a constitutional provision is raised before this Court (as in the instant case), it becomes a legal issue which the Court is bound by constitutional mandate to decide." 13 The jurisdiction of this Court to adjudicate the matters 14 raised in the petition is clearly set out in the 1987 Constitution, 15 as follows: Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.
  • 134. The foregoing text emphasizes the judicial department's duty and power to strike down grave abuse of discretion on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government including Congress. It is an innovation in our political law. 16 As explained by former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, 17 "the judiciary is the final arbiter on the question of whether or not a branch of government or any of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature." As this Court has repeatedly and firmly emphasized in many cases, 18 it will not shirk, digress from or abandon its sacred duty and authority to uphold the Constitution in matters that involve grave abuse of discretion brought before it in appropriate cases, committed by any officer, agency, instrumentality or department of the government. As the petition alleges grave abuse of discretion and as there is no other plain, speedy or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, we have no hesitation at all in holding that this petition should be given due course and the vital questions raised therein ruled upon under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Indeed, certiorari, prohibition andmandamus are appropriate remedies to raise constitutional issues and to review and/or prohibit/nullify, when proper, acts of legislative and executive officials. On this, we have no equivocation. We should stress that, in deciding to take jurisdiction over this petition, this Court will not review the wisdom of the decision of the President and the Senate in enlisting the country into the WTO, or pass upon the merits of trade liberalization as a policy espoused by said international body. Neither will it rule on the propriety of the government's economic policy of reducing/removing tariffs, taxes, subsidies, quantitative restrictions, and other import/trade barriers. Rather, it will only exercise its constitutional duty "to determine whether or not there had been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" on the part of the Senate in ratifying the WTO Agreement and its three annexes. Second Issue: The WTO Agreement and Economic Nationalism This is the lis mota, the main issue, raised by the petition. Petitioners vigorously argue that the "letter, spirit and intent" of the Constitution mandating "economic nationalism" are violated by the so-called "parity provisions" and "national treatment" clauses scattered in various parts not only of the WTO Agreement and its annexes but also in the Ministerial Decisions and Declarations and in the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services.
  • 135. Specifically, the "flagship" constitutional provisions referred to are Sec 19, Article II, and Secs. 10 and 12, Article XII, of the Constitution, which are worded as follows: Article II DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES xxx xxx xxx Sec. 19. The State shall develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos. xxx xxx xxx Article XII NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY xxx xxx xxx Sec. 10. . . . The Congress shall enact measures that will encourage the formation and operation of enterprises whose capital is wholly owned by Filipinos. In the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos. xxx xxx xxx Sec. 12. The State shall promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods, and adopt measures that help make them competitive. Petitioners aver that these sacred constitutional principles are desecrated by the following WTO provisions quoted in their memorandum: 19 a) In the area of investment measures related to trade in goods (TRIMS, for brevity): Article 2 National Treatment and Quantitative Restrictions.
  • 136. 1. Without prejudice to other rights and obligations under GATT 1994, no Member shall apply any TRIM that is inconsistent with the provisions of Article II or Article XI of GATT 1994. 2. An illustrative list of TRIMS that are inconsistent with the obligations of general elimination of quantitative restrictions provided for in paragraph I of Article XI of GATT 1994 is contained in the Annex to this Agreement." (Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures, Vol. 27, Uruguay Round, Legal Instruments, p. 22121, emphasis supplied). The Annex referred to reads as follows: ANNEX Illustrative List 1. TRIMS that are inconsistent with the obligation of national treatment provided for in paragraph 4 of Article III of GATT 1994 include those which are mandatory or enforceable under domestic law or under administrative rulings, or compliance with which is necessary to obtain an advantage, and which require: (a) the purchase or use by an enterprise of products of domestic origin or from any domestic source, whether specified in terms of particular products, in terms of volume or value of products, or in terms of proportion of volume or value of its local production; or (b) that an enterprise's purchases or use of imported products be limited to an amount related to the volume or value of local products that it exports. 2. TRIMS that are inconsistent with the obligations of general elimination of quantitative restrictions provided for in paragraph 1 of Article XI of GATT 1994 include those which are mandatory or enforceable under domestic laws or under administrative rulings, or compliance with which is necessary to obtain an advantage, and which restrict: (a) the importation by an enterprise of products used in or related to the local production that it exports; (b) the importation by an enterprise of products used in or related to its local production by restricting its access to foreign exchange inflows attributable to the enterprise; or
  • 137. (c) the exportation or sale for export specified in terms of particular products, in terms of volume or value of products, or in terms of a preparation of volume or value of its local production. (Annex to the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures, Vol. 27, Uruguay Round Legal Documents, p. 22125, emphasis supplied). The paragraph 4 of Article III of GATT 1994 referred to is quoted as follows: The products of the territory of any contracting party imported into the territory of any other contracting party shall be accorded treatment no less favorable than that accorded to like products of national origin in respect of laws, regulations and requirements affecting their internal sale, offering for sale, purchase, transportation, distribution or use, the provisions of this paragraph shall not prevent the application of differential internal transportation charges which are based exclusively on the economic operation of the means of transport and not on the nationality of the product." (Article III, GATT 1947, as amended by the Protocol Modifying Part II, and Article XXVI of GATT, 14 September 1948, 62 UMTS 82-84 in relation to paragraph 1(a) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, Vol. 1, Uruguay Round, Legal Instruments p. 177, emphasis supplied). (b) In the area of trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS, for brevity): Each Member shall accord to the nationals of other Members treatment no less favourable than that it accords to its own nationals with regard to the protection of intellectual property. . . (par. 1 Article 3, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspect of Intellectual Property rights, Vol. 31, Uruguay Round, Legal Instruments, p. 25432 (emphasis supplied) (c) In the area of the General Agreement on Trade in Services: National Treatment 1. In the sectors inscribed in its schedule, and subject to any conditions and qualifications set out therein, each Member shall accord to services and service suppliers of any other Member, in respect of all measures affecting the supply of services, treatment no less favourable than it accords to its own like services and service suppliers. 2. A Member may meet the requirement of paragraph I by according to services and service suppliers of any other Member, either formally suppliers of any other
  • 138. Member, either formally identical treatment or formally different treatment to that it accords to its own like services and service suppliers. 3. Formally identical or formally different treatment shall be considered to be less favourable if it modifies the conditions of completion in favour of services or service suppliers of the Member compared to like services or service suppliers of any other Member. (Article XVII, General Agreement on Trade in Services, Vol. 28, Uruguay Round Legal Instruments, p. 22610 emphasis supplied). It is petitioners' position that the foregoing "national treatment" and "parity provisions" of the WTO Agreement "place nationals and products of member countries on the same footing as Filipinos and local products," in contravention of the "Filipino First" policy of the Constitution. They allegedly render meaningless the phrase "effectively controlled by Filipinos." The constitutional conflict becomes more manifest when viewed in the context of the clear duty imposed on the Philippines as a WTO member to ensure the conformity of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures with its obligations as provided in the annexed agreements. 20 Petitioners further argue that these provisions contravene constitutional limitations on the role exports play in national development and negate the preferential treatment accorded to Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods. On the other hand, respondents through the Solicitor General counter (1) that such Charter provisions are not self-executing and merely set out general policies; (2) that these nationalistic portions of the Constitution invoked by petitioners should not be read in isolation but should be related to other relevant provisions of Art. XII, particularly Secs. 1 and 13 thereof; (3) that read properly, the cited WTO clauses do not conflict with Constitution; and (4) that the WTO Agreement contains sufficient provisions to protect developing countries like the Philippines from the harshness of sudden trade liberalization. We shall now discuss and rule on these arguments. Declaration of Principles Not Self-Executing By its very title, Article II of the Constitution is a "declaration of principles and state policies." The counterpart of this article in the 1935 Constitution 21 is called the "basic political creed of the nation" by Dean Vicente Sinco. 22 These principles in Article II are not intended to be self-executing principles ready for enforcement through the courts. 23 They are used by the judiciary as aids or as guides in the exercise of its power of judicial review, and by the legislature in its enactment of laws. As held in the leading case of Kilosbayan, Incorporated vs. Morato, 24 the principles and state policies enumerated in Article II and some sections of Article XII are not "self-executing provisions, the disregard of which can give rise to a
  • 139. cause of action in the courts. They do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights but guidelines for legislation." In the same light, we held in Basco vs. Pagcor 25 that broad constitutional principles need legislative enactments to implement the, thus: On petitioners' allegation that P.D. 1869 violates Sections 11 (Personal Dignity) 12 (Family) and 13 (Role of Youth) of Article II; Section 13 (Social Justice) of Article XIII and Section 2 (Educational Values) of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution, suffice it to state also that these are merely statements of principles and policies. As such, they are basically not self-executing, meaning a law should be passed by Congress to clearly define and effectuate such principles. In general, therefore, the 1935 provisions were not intended to be self-executing principles ready for enforcement through the courts. They were rather directives addressed to the executive and to the legislature. If the executive and the legislature failed to heed the directives of the article, the available remedy was not judicial but political. The electorate could express their displeasure with the failure of the executive and the legislature through the language of the ballot. (Bernas, Vol. II, p. 2). The reasons for denying a cause of action to an alleged infringement of board constitutional principles are sourced from basic considerations of due process and the lack of judicial authority to wade "into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making." Mr. Justice Florentino P. Feliciano in his concurring opinion inOposa vs. Factoran, Jr., 26 explained these reasons as follows: My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more specific legal right — a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of generality than Article II (15) of the Constitution — that is or may be violated by the actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by petitioners so that the trial court can validly render judgment grating all or part of the relief prayed for. To my mind, the court should be understood as simply saying that such a more specific legal right or rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of the Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners an effective opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on a motion to dismiss. It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a cause of action be a specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons. One is that unless the legal right claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in operational terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and effectively; in other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter.
  • 140. The second is a broader-gauge consideration — where a specific violation of law or applicable regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall back on the expanded conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution which reads: Sec. 1. . . . Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis supplied) When substantive standards as general as "the right to a balanced and healthy ecology" and "the right to health" are combined with remedial standards as broad ranging as "a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and management, our courts have no claim to special technical competence and experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments — the legislative and executive departments — must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to implement them before the courts should intervene. Economic Nationalism Should Be Read with Other Constitutional Mandates to Attain Balanced Development of Economy On the other hand, Secs. 10 and 12 of Article XII, apart from merely laying down general principles relating to the national economy and patrimony, should be read and understood in relation to the other sections in said article, especially Secs. 1 and 13 thereof which read: Sec. 1. The goals of the national economy are a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth; a sustained increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people; and an expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all especially the underprivileged. The State shall promote industrialization and full employment based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform, through industries that make full and efficient use of human
  • 141. and natural resources, and which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets. However, the State shall protect Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign competition and trade practices. In the pursuit of these goals, all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country shall be given optimum opportunity to develop. . . . xxx xxx xxx Sec. 13. The State shall pursue a trade policy that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms and arrangements of exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity. As pointed out by the Solicitor General, Sec. 1 lays down the basic goals of national economic development, as follows: 1. A more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth; 2. A sustained increase in the amount of goods and services provided by the nation for the benefit of the people; and 3. An expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all especially the underprivileged. With these goals in context, the Constitution then ordains the ideals of economic nationalism (1) by expressing preference in favor of qualified Filipinos "in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony" 27 and in the use of "Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally-produced goods"; (2) by mandating the State to "adopt measures that help make them competitive; 28 and (3) by requiring the State to "develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos." 29 In similar language, the Constitution takes into account the realities of the outside world as it requires the pursuit of "a trade policy that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms and arrangements of exchange on the basis of equality ad reciprocity"; 30 and speaks of industries "which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets" as well as of the protection of "Filipino enterprises againstunfair foreign competition and trade practices." It is true that in the recent case of Manila Prince Hotel vs. Government Service Insurance System, et al., 31 this Court held that "Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII of the 1987 Constitution is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws or rule for its enforcement. From its very words the provision does not require any legislation to put it in operation. It is per se judicially enforceable." However, as the constitutional provision itself states, it is enforceable only in regard to "the grants of rights, privileges and concessions covering national economy and patrimony" and not to every aspect of trade and commerce. It refers to exceptions rather than the rule. The issue here is not whether this paragraph of Sec. 10 of Art. XII is self-executing or not. Rather, the
  • 142. issue is whether, as a rule, there are enough balancing provisions in the Constitution to allow the Senate to ratify the Philippine concurrence in the WTO Agreement. And we hold that there are. All told, while the Constitution indeed mandates a bias in favor of Filipino goods, services, labor and enterprises, at the same time, it recognizes the need for business exchange with the rest of the world on the bases of equality and reciprocity and limits protection of Filipino enterprises only against foreign competition and trade practices that are unfair. 32 In other words, the Constitution did not intend to pursue an isolationist policy. It did not shut out foreign investments, goods and services in the development of the Philippine economy. While the Constitution does not encourage the unlimited entry of foreign goods, services and investments into the country, it does not prohibit them either. In fact, it allows an exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity, frowning only on foreign competition that is unfair. WTO Recognizes Need to Protect Weak Economies Upon the other hand, respondents maintain that the WTO itself has some built-in advantages to protect weak and developing economies, which comprise the vast majority of its members. Unlike in the UN where major states have permanent seats and veto powers in the Security Council, in the WTO, decisions are made on the basis of sovereign equality, with each member's vote equal in weight to that of any other. There is no WTO equivalent of the UN Security Council. WTO decides by consensus whenever possible, otherwise, decisions of the Ministerial Conference and the General Council shall be taken by the majority of the votes cast, except in cases of interpretation of the Agreement or waiver of the obligation of a member which would require three fourths vote. Amendments would require two thirds vote in general. Amendments to MFN provisions and the Amendments provision will require assent of all members. Any member may withdraw from the Agreement upon the expiration of six months from the date of notice of withdrawals. 33 Hence, poor countries can protect their common interests more effectively through the WTO than through one-on-one negotiations with developed countries. Within the WTO, developing countries can form powerful blocs to push their economic agenda more decisively than outside the Organization. This is not merely a matter of practical alliances but a negotiating strategy rooted in law. Thus, the basic principles underlying the WTO Agreement recognize the need of developing countries like the Philippines to "share in the growth in international tradecommensurate with the needs of their economic development." These basic principles are found in the preamble34 of the WTO Agreement as follows: The Parties to this Agreement,
  • 143. Recognizing that their relations in the field of trade and economic endeavour should be conducted with a view to raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand, and expanding the production of and trade in goods and services, while allowing for the optimal use of the world's resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development, seeking both to protect and preserve the environment and to enhance the means for doing so in a manner consistent with their respective needs and concerns at different levels of economic development, Recognizing further that there is need for positive efforts designed to ensure that developing countries, and especially the least developed among them, secure a share in the growth in international trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development, Being desirous of contributing to these objectives by entering into reciprocal and mutually advantageous arrangements directed to the substantial reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade and to the elimination of discriminatory treatment in international trade relations, Resolved, therefore, to develop an integrated, more viable and durable multilateral trading system encompassing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the results of past trade liberalization efforts, and all of the results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, Determined to preserve the basic principles and to further the objectives underlying this multilateral trading system, . . . (emphasis supplied.) Specific WTO Provisos Protect Developing Countries So too, the Solicitor General points out that pursuant to and consistent with the foregoing basic principles, the WTO Agreement grants developing countries a more lenient treatment, giving their domestic industries some protection from the rush of foreign competition. Thus, with respect to tariffs in general, preferential treatment is given to developing countries in terms of the amount of tariff reduction and the period within which the reduction is to be spread out. Specifically, GATT requires an average tariff reduction rate of 36% for developed countries to be effected within a period of six (6) years while developing countries — including the Philippines — are required to effect an average tariff reduction of only 24% within ten (10) years. In respect to domestic subsidy, GATT requires developed countries to reduce domestic support to agricultural products by 20% over six (6) years, as compared to only 13% for developing countries to be effected within ten (10) years.
  • 144. In regard to export subsidy for agricultural products, GATT requires developed countries to reduce their budgetary outlays for export subsidy by 36% and export volumes receiving export subsidy by 21% within a period of six (6) years. For developing countries, however, the reduction rate is only two-thirds of that prescribed for developed countries and a longer period of ten (10) years within which to effect such reduction. Moreover, GATT itself has provided built-in protection from unfair foreign competition and trade practices including anti-dumping measures, countervailing measures and safeguards against import surges. Where local businesses are jeopardized by unfair foreign competition, the Philippines can avail of these measures. There is hardly therefore any basis for the statement that under the WTO, local industries and enterprises will all be wiped out and that Filipinos will be deprived of control of the economy. Quite the contrary, the weaker situations of developing nations like the Philippines have been taken into account; thus, there would be no basis to say that in joining the WTO, the respondents have gravely abused their discretion. True, they have made a bold decision to steer the ship of state into the yet uncharted sea of economic liberalization. But such decision cannot be set aside on the ground of grave abuse of discretion, simply because we disagree with it or simply because we believe only in other economic policies. As earlier stated, the Court in taking jurisdiction of this case will not pass upon the advantages and disadvantages of trade liberalization as an economic policy. It will only perform its constitutional duty of determining whether the Senate committed grave abuse of discretion. ConstitutionDoes Not Rule Out Foreign Competition Furthermore, the constitutional policy of a "self-reliant and independent national economy" 35 does not necessarily rule out the entry of foreign investments, goods and services. It contemplates neither "economic seclusion" nor "mendicancy in the international community." As explained by Constitutional Commissioner Bernardo Villegas, sponsor of this constitutional policy: Economic self-reliance is a primary objective of a developing country that is keenly aware of overdependence on external assistance for even its most basic needs. It does not mean autarky or economic seclusion; rather, it means avoiding mendicancy in the international community. Independence refers to the freedom from undue foreign control of the national economy, especially in such strategic industries as in the development of natural resources and public utilities. 36 The WTO reliance on "most favored nation," "national treatment," and "trade without discrimination" cannot be struck down as unconstitutional as in fact they are rules of equality and reciprocity that apply to all WTO members. Aside from envisioning a trade policy based on "equality and reciprocity," 37 the fundamental law encourages industries that are "competitive in both domestic and foreign markets,"
  • 145. thereby demonstrating a clear policy against a sheltered domestic trade environment, but one in favor of the gradual development of robust industries that can compete with the best in the foreign markets. Indeed, Filipino managers and Filipino enterprises have shown capability and tenacity to compete internationally. And given a free trade environment, Filipino entrepreneurs and managers in Hongkong have demonstrated the Filipino capacity to grow and to prosper against the best offered under a policy of laissez faire. ConstitutionFavors Consumers, Not Industries or Enterprises The Constitution has not really shown any unbalanced bias in favor of any business or enterprise, nor does it contain any specific pronouncement that Filipino companies should be pampered with a total proscription of foreign competition. On the other hand, respondents claim that WTO/GATT aims to make available to the Filipino consumer the best goods and services obtainable anywhere in the world at the most reasonable prices. Consequently, the question boils down to whether WTO/GATT will favor the general welfare of the public at large. Will adherence to the WTO treaty bring this ideal (of favoring the general welfare) to reality? Will WTO/GATT succeed in promoting the Filipinos' general welfare because it will — as promised by its promoters — expand the country's exports and generate more employment? Will it bring more prosperity, employment, purchasing power and quality products at the most reasonable rates to the Filipino public? The responses to these questions involve "judgment calls" by our policy makers, for which they are answerable to our people during appropriate electoral exercises. Such questions and the answers thereto are not subject to judicial pronouncements based on grave abuse of discretion. ConstitutionDesigned to Meet Future Events and Contingencies No doubt, the WTO Agreement was not yet in existence when the Constitution was drafted and ratified in 1987. That does not mean however that the Charter is necessarily flawed in the sense that its framers might not have anticipated the advent of a borderless world of business. By the same token, the United Nations was not yet in existence when the 1935 Constitution became effective. Did that necessarily mean that the then Constitution might not have contemplated a diminution of the absoluteness of sovereignty when the Philippines signed the UN Charter, thereby effectively surrendering part of its control over its foreign relations to the decisions of various UN organs like the Security Council?
  • 146. It is not difficult to answer this question. Constitutions are designed to meet not only the vagaries of contemporary events. They should be interpreted to cover even future and unknown circumstances. It is to the credit of its drafters that a Constitution can withstand the assaults of bigots and infidels but at the same time bend with the refreshing winds of change necessitated by unfolding events. As one eminent political law writer and respected jurist 38 explains: The Constitution must be quintessential rather than superficial, the root and not the blossom, the base and frame-work only of the edifice that is yet to rise. It is but the core of the dream that must take shape, not in a twinkling by mandate of our delegates, but slowly "in the crucible of Filipino minds and hearts," where it will in time develop its sinews and gradually gather its strength and finally achieve its substance. In fine, the Constitution cannot, like the goddess Athena, rise full-grown from the brow of the Constitutional Convention, nor can it conjure by mere fiat an instant Utopia. It must grow with the society it seeks to re-structure and march apace with the progress of the race, drawing from the vicissitudes of history the dynamism and vitality that will keep it, far from becoming a petrified rule, a pulsing, living law attuned to the heartbeat of the nation. Third Issue: The WTO Agreement and Legislative Power The WTO Agreement provides that "(e)ach Member shall ensure the conformity of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures with its obligations as provided in the annexed Agreements." 39 Petitioners maintain that this undertaking "unduly limits, restricts and impairs Philippine sovereignty, specifically the legislative power which under Sec. 2, Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution is vested in the Congress of the Philippines. It is an assault on the sovereign powers of the Philippines because this means that Congress could not pass legislation that will be good for our national interest and general welfare if such legislation will not conform with the WTO Agreement, which not only relates to the trade in goods . . . but also to the flow of investments and money . . . as well as to a whole slew of agreements on socio-cultural matters . . . 40 More specifically, petitioners claim that said WTO proviso derogates from the power to tax, which is lodged in the Congress. 41 And while the Constitution allows Congress to authorize the President to fix tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts, such authority is subject to "specified limits and . . . such limitations and restrictions" as Congress may provide, 42 as in fact it did under Sec. 401 of the Tariff and Customs Code. Sovereignty Limited by International Law and Treaties
  • 147. This Court notes and appreciates the ferocity and passion by which petitioners stressed their arguments on this issue. However, while sovereignty has traditionally been deemed absolute and all-encompassing on the domestic level, it is however subject to restrictions and limitations voluntarily agreed to by the Philippines, expressly or impliedly, as a member of the family of nations. Unquestionably, the Constitution did not envision a hermit-type isolation of the country from the rest of the world. In its Declaration of Principles and State Policies, the Constitution "adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity, with all nations." 43 By the doctrine of incorporation, the country is bound by generally accepted principles of international law, which are considered to be automatically part of our own laws. 44 One of the oldest and most fundamental rules in international law is pacta sunt servanda — international agreements must be performed in good faith. "A treaty engagement is not a mere moral obligation but creates a legally binding obligation on the parties . . . A state which has contracted valid international obligations is bound to make in its legislations such modifications as may be necessary to ensure the fulfillment of the obligations undertaken." 45 By their inherent nature, treaties really limit or restrict the absoluteness of sovereignty. By their voluntary act, nations may surrender some aspects of their state power in exchange for greater benefits granted by or derived from a convention or pact. After all, states, like individuals, live with coequals, and in pursuit of mutually covenanted objectives and benefits, they also commonly agree to limit the exercise of their otherwise absolute rights. Thus, treaties have been used to record agreements between States concerning such widely diverse matters as, for example, the lease of naval bases, the sale or cession of territory, the termination of war, the regulation of conduct of hostilities, the formation of alliances, the regulation of commercial relations, the settling of claims, the laying down of rules governing conduct in peace and the establishment of international organizations.46 The sovereignty of a state therefore cannot in fact and in reality be considered absolute. Certain restrictions enter into the picture: (1) limitations imposed by the very nature of membership in the family of nations and (2) limitations imposed by treaty stipulations. As aptly put by John F. Kennedy, "Today, no nation can build its destiny alone. The age of self-sufficient nationalism is over. The age of interdependence is here." 47 UN Charter and Other Treaties Limit Sovereignty Thus, when the Philippines joined the United Nations as one of its 51 charter members, it consented to restrict its sovereign rights under the "concept of sovereignty as auto-limitation."47 -A Under Article 2 of the UN Charter, "(a)ll members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action." Such assistance includes payment of its corresponding share not merely in administrative expenses but also in expenditures for the peace-
  • 148. keeping operations of the organization. In its advisory opinion of July 20, 1961, the International Court of Justice held that money used by the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East and in the Congo were "expenses of the United Nations" under Article 17, paragraph 2, of the UN Charter. Hence, all its members must bear their corresponding share in such expenses. In this sense, the Philippine Congress is restricted in its power to appropriate. It is compelled to appropriate funds whether it agrees with such peace-keeping expenses or not. So too, under Article 105 of the said Charter, the UN and its representatives enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunities, thereby limiting again the exercise of sovereignty of members within their own territory. Another example: although "sovereign equality" and "domestic jurisdiction" of all members are set forth as underlying principles in the UN Charter, such provisos are however subject to enforcement measures decided by the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security under Chapter VII of the Charter. A final example: under Article 103, "(i)n the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligation under the present charter shall prevail," thus unquestionably denying the Philippines — as a member — the sovereign power to make a choice as to which of conflicting obligations, if any, to honor. Apart from the UN Treaty, the Philippines has entered into many other international pacts — both bilateral and multilateral — that involve limitations on Philippine sovereignty. These are enumerated by the Solicitor General in his Compliance dated October 24, 1996, as follows: (a) Bilateral convention with the United States regarding taxes on income, where the Philippines agreed, among others, to exempt from tax, income received in the Philippines by, among others, the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, the Export/Import Bank of the United States, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the United States. Likewise, in said convention, wages, salaries and similar remunerations paid by the United States to its citizens for labor and personal services performed by them as employees or officials of the United States are exempt from income tax by the Philippines. (b) Bilateral agreement with Belgium, providing, among others, for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to taxes on income. (c) Bilateral convention with the Kingdom of Sweden for the avoidance of double taxation. (d) Bilateral convention with the French Republic for the avoidance of double taxation. (e) Bilateral air transport agreement with Korea where the Philippines agreed to exempt from all customs duties, inspection fees and other duties or taxes aircrafts of South Korea and the regular equipment, spare parts and supplies arriving with said aircrafts.
  • 149. (f) Bilateral air service agreement with Japan, where the Philippines agreed to exempt from customs duties, excise taxes, inspection fees and other similar duties, taxes or charges fuel, lubricating oils, spare parts, regular equipment, stores on board Japanese aircrafts while on Philippine soil. (g) Bilateral air service agreement with Belgium where the Philippines granted Belgian air carriers the same privileges as those granted to Japanese and Korean air carriers under separate air service agreements. (h) Bilateral notes with Israel for the abolition of transit and visitor visas where the Philippines exempted Israeli nationals from the requirement of obtaining transit or visitor visas for a sojourn in the Philippines not exceeding 59 days. (i) Bilateral agreement with France exempting French nationals from the requirement of obtaining transit and visitor visa for a sojourn not exceeding 59 days. (j) Multilateral Convention on Special Missions, where the Philippines agreed that premises of Special Missions in the Philippines are inviolable and its agents can not enter said premises without consent of the Head of Mission concerned. Special Missions are also exempted from customs duties, taxes and related charges. (k) Multilateral convention on the Law of Treaties. In this convention, the Philippines agreed to be governed by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. (l) Declaration of the President of the Philippines accepting compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. The International Court of Justice has jurisdiction in all legal disputes concerning the interpretation of a treaty, any question of international law, the existence of any fact which, if established, would constitute a breach "of international obligation." In the foregoing treaties, the Philippines has effectively agreed to limit the exercise of its sovereign powers of taxation, eminent domain and police power. The underlying consideration in this partial surrender of sovereignty is the reciprocal commitment of the other contracting states in granting the same privilege and immunities to the Philippines, its officials and its citizens. The same reciprocity characterizes the Philippine commitments under WTO-GATT. International treaties, whether relating to nuclear disarmament, human rights, the environment, the law of the sea, or trade, constrain domestic political sovereignty through the assumption of external obligations. But unless anarchy in international relations is preferred as an alternative, in most cases we accept that the benefits of the reciprocal obligations involved outweigh the costs
  • 150. associated with any loss of political sovereignty. (T)rade treaties that structure relations by reference to durable, well-defined substantive norms and objective dispute resolution procedures reduce the risks of larger countries exploiting raw economic power to bully smaller countries, by subjecting power relations to some form of legal ordering. In addition, smaller countries typically stand to gain disproportionately from trade liberalization. This is due to the simple fact that liberalization will provide access to a larger set of potential new trading relationship than in case of the larger country gaining enhanced success to the smaller country's market. 48 The point is that, as shown by the foregoing treaties, a portion of sovereignty may be waived without violating the Constitution, based on the rationale that the Philippines "adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of . . . cooperation and amity with all nations." Fourth Issue: The WTO Agreement and Judicial Power Petitioners aver that paragraph 1, Article 34 of the General Provisions and Basic Principles of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) 49 intrudes on the power of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedures. 50 To understand the scope and meaning of Article 34, TRIPS, 51 it will be fruitful to restate its full text as follows: Article 34 Process Patents: Burden of Proof 1. For the purposes of civil proceedings in respect of the infringement of the rights of the owner referred to in paragraph 1 (b) of Article 28, if the subject matter of a patent is a process for obtaining a product, the judicial authorities shall have the authority to order the defendant to prove that the process to obtain an identical product is different from the patented process. Therefore, Members shall provide, in at least one of the following circumstances, that any identical product when produced without the consent of the patent owner shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be deemed to have been obtained by the patented process: (a) if the product obtained by the patented process is new; (b) if there is a substantial likelihood that the identical product was made by the process and the owner of the patent has been unable through reasonable efforts to determine the process actually used.
  • 151. 2. Any Member shall be free to provide that the burden of proof indicated in paragraph 1 shall be on the alleged infringer only if the condition referred to in subparagraph (a) is fulfilled or only if the condition referred to in subparagraph (b) is fulfilled. 3. In the adduction of proof to the contrary, the legitimate interests of defendants in protecting their manufacturing and business secrets shall be taken into account. From the above, a WTO Member is required to provide a rule of disputable (not the words "in the absence of proof to the contrary") presumption that a product shown to be identical to one produced with the use of a patented process shall be deemed to have been obtained by the (illegal) use of the said patented process, (1) where such product obtained by the patented product is new, or (2) where there is "substantial likelihood" that the identical product was made with the use of the said patented process but the owner of the patent could not determine the exact process used in obtaining such identical product. Hence, the "burden of proof" contemplated by Article 34 should actually be understood as the duty of the alleged patent infringer to overthrow such presumption. Such burden, properly understood, actually refers to the "burden of evidence" (burden of going forward) placed on the producer of the identical (or fake) product to show that his product was produced without the use of the patented process. The foregoing notwithstanding, the patent owner still has the "burden of proof" since, regardless of the presumption provided under paragraph 1 of Article 34, such owner still has to introduce evidence of the existence of the alleged identical product, the fact that it is "identical" to the genuine one produced by the patented process and the fact of "newness" of the genuine product or the fact of "substantial likelihood" that the identical product was made by the patented process. The foregoing should really present no problem in changing the rules of evidence as the present law on the subject, Republic Act No. 165, as amended, otherwise known as the Patent Law, provides a similar presumption in cases of infringement of patented design or utility model, thus: Sec. 60. Infringement. — Infringement of a design patent or of a patent for utility model shall consist in unauthorized copying of the patented design or utility model for the purpose of trade or industry in the article or product and in the making, using or selling of the article or product copying the patented design or utility model. Identity or substantial identity with the patented design or utility model shall constitute evidence of copying. (emphasis supplied) Moreover, it should be noted that the requirement of Article 34 to provide a disputable presumption applies only if (1) the product obtained by the patented process in NEW or (2) there is a substantial likelihood that the identical product was made by the process and the process owner has not been able through reasonable effort to determine the process used. Where either of these two provisos does not
  • 152. obtain, members shall be free to determine the appropriate method of implementing the provisions of TRIPS within their own internal systems and processes. By and large, the arguments adduced in connection with our disposition of the third issue — derogation of legislative power — will apply to this fourth issue also. Suffice it to say that the reciprocity clause more than justifies such intrusion, if any actually exists. Besides, Article 34 does not contain an unreasonable burden, consistent as it is with due process and the concept of adversarial dispute settlement inherent in our judicial system. So too, since the Philippine is a signatory to most international conventions on patents, trademarks and copyrights, the adjustment in legislation and rules of procedure will not be substantial. 52 Fifth Issue: Concurrence Only in the WTO Agreement and Not in Other Documents Contained in the Final Act Petitioners allege that the Senate concurrence in the WTO Agreement and its annexes — but not in the other documents referred to in the Final Act, namely the Ministerial Declaration and Decisions and the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services — is defective and insufficient and thus constitutes abuse of discretion. They submit that such concurrence in the WTO Agreement alone is flawed because it is in effect a rejection of the Final Act, which in turn was the document signed by Secretary Navarro, in representation of the Republic upon authority of the President. They contend that the second letter of the President to the Senate 53 which enumerated what constitutes the Final Act should have been the subject of concurrence of the Senate. "A final act, sometimes called protocol de cloture, is an instrument which records the winding up of the proceedings of a diplomatic conference and usually includes a reproduction of the texts of treaties, conventions, recommendations and other acts agreed upon and signed by the plenipotentiaries attending the conference." 54 It is not the treaty itself. It is rather a summary of the proceedings of a protracted conference which may have taken place over several years. The text of the "Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations" is contained in just one page 55 in Vol. I of the 36-volume Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. By signing said Final Act, Secretary Navarro as representative of the Republic of the Philippines undertook: (a) to submit, as appropriate, the WTO Agreement for the consideration of their respective competent authorities with a view to seeking approval of the Agreement in accordance with their procedures; and (b) to adopt the Ministerial Declarations and Decisions.
  • 153. The assailed Senate Resolution No. 97 expressed concurrence in exactly what the Final Act required from its signatories, namely, concurrence of the Senate in the WTO Agreement. The Ministerial Declarations and Decisions were deemed adopted without need for ratification. They were approved by the ministers by virtue of Article XXV: 1 of GATT which provides that representatives of the members can meet "to give effect to those provisions of this Agreement which invoke joint action, and generally with a view to facilitating the operation and furthering the objectives of this Agreement." 56 The Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services also approved in Marrakesh does not apply to the Philippines. It applies only to those 27 Members which "have indicated in their respective schedules of commitments on standstill, elimination of monopoly, expansion of operation of existing financial service suppliers, temporary entry of personnel, free transfer and processing of information, and national treatment with respect to access to payment, clearing systems and refinancing available in the normal course of business." 57 On the other hand, the WTO Agreement itself expresses what multilateral agreements are deemed included as its integral parts, 58 as follows: Article II Scope of the WTO 1. The WTO shall provide the common institutional frame-work for the conduct of trade relations among its Members in matters to the agreements and associated legal instruments included in the Annexes to this Agreement. 2. The Agreements and associated legal instruments included in Annexes 1, 2, and 3, (hereinafter referred to as "Multilateral Agreements") are integral parts of this Agreement, binding on all Members. 3. The Agreements and associated legal instruments included in Annex 4 (hereinafter referred to as "Plurilateral Trade Agreements") are also part of this Agreement for those Members that have accepted them, and are binding on those Members. The Plurilateral Trade Agreements do not create either obligation or rights for Members that have not accepted them. 4. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 as specified in annex 1A (hereinafter referred to as "GATT 1994") is legally distinct from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, dated 30 October 1947, annexed to the Final Act adopted at the conclusion of the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment, as subsequently rectified, amended or modified (hereinafter referred to as "GATT 1947").
  • 154. It should be added that the Senate was well-aware of what it was concurring in as shown by the members' deliberation on August 25, 1994. After reading the letter of President Ramos dated August 11, 1994, 59 the senators of the Republic minutely dissected what the Senate was concurring in, as follows: 60 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Now, the question of the validity of the submission came up in the first day hearing of this Committee yesterday. Was the observation made by Senator Tañada that what was submitted to the Senate was not the agreement on establishing the World Trade Organization by the final act of the Uruguay Round which is not the same as the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization? And on that basis, Senator Tolentino raised a point of order which, however, he agreed to withdraw upon understanding that his suggestion for an alternative solution at that time was acceptable. That suggestion was to treat the proceedings of the Committee as being in the nature of briefings for Senators until the question of the submission could be clarified. And so, Secretary Romulo, in effect, is the President submitting a new . . . is he making a new submission which improves on the clarity of the first submission? MR. ROMULO: Mr. Chairman, to make sure that it is clear cut and there should be no misunderstanding, it was his intention to clarify all matters by giving this letter. THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Can this Committee hear from Senator Tañada and later on Senator Tolentino since they were the ones that raised this question yesterday? Senator Tañada, please. SEN. TAÑADA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Based on what Secretary Romulo has read, it would now clearly appear that what is being submitted to the Senate for ratification is not the Final Act of the Uruguay Round, but rather the Agreement on the World Trade Organization as well as the Ministerial Declarations and Decisions, and the Understanding and Commitments in Financial Services. I am now satisfied with the wording of the new submission of President Ramos. SEN. TAÑADA. . . . of President Ramos, Mr. Chairman. THE CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Senator Tañada. Can we hear from Senator Tolentino? And after him Senator Neptali Gonzales and Senator Lina.
  • 155. SEN. TOLENTINO, Mr. Chairman, I have not seen the new submission actually transmitted to us but I saw the draft of his earlier, and I think it now complies with the provisions of the Constitution, and with the Final Act itself . The Constitution does not require us to ratify the Final Act. It requires us to ratify the Agreement which is now being submitted. The Final Act itself specifies what is going to be submitted to with the governments of the participants. In paragraph 2 of the Final Act, we read and I quote: By signing the present Final Act, the representatives agree: (a) to submit as appropriate the WTO Agreement for the consideration of the respective competent authorities with a view to seeking approval of the Agreement in accordance with their procedures. In other words, it is not the Final Act that was agreed to be submitted to the governments for ratification or acceptance as whatever their constitutional procedures may provide but it is the World Trade Organization Agreement. And if that is the one that is being submitted now, I think it satisfies both the Constitution and the Final Act itself . Thank you, Mr. Chairman. THE CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Senator Tolentino, May I call on Senator Gonzales. SEN. GONZALES. Mr. Chairman, my views on this matter are already a matter of record. And they had been adequately reflected in the journal of yesterday's session and I don't see any need for repeating the same. Now, I would consider the new submission as an act ex abudante cautela. THE CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Senator Gonzales. Senator Lina, do you want to make any comment on this? SEN. LINA. Mr. President, I agree with the observation just made by Senator Gonzales out of the abundance of question. Then the new submissionis, I believe, stating the obvious and therefore I have no further comment to make. Epilogue In praying for the nullification of the Philippine ratification of the WTO Agreement, petitioners are invoking this Court's constitutionally imposed duty "to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" on the part of the Senate in giving its concurrence therein via Senate Resolution No. 97. Procedurally, a writ of certiorari grounded on grave
  • 156. abuse of discretion may be issued by the Court under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court when it is amply shown that petitioners have no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. 61 Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. It must be grave abuse of discretion as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law. 62 Failure on the part of the petitioner to show grave abuse of discretion will result in the dismissal of the petition. 63 In rendering this Decision, this Court never forgets that the Senate, whose act is under review, is one of two sovereign houses of Congress and is thus entitled to great respect in its actions. It is itself a constitutional body independent and coordinate, and thus its actions are presumed regular and done in good faith. Unless convincing proof and persuasive arguments are presented to overthrow such presumptions, this Court will resolve every doubt in its favor. Using the foregoing well-accepted definition of grave abuse of discretion and the presumption of regularity in the Senate's processes, this Court cannot find any cogent reason to impute grave abuse of discretion to the Senate's exercise of its power of concurrence in the WTO Agreement granted it by Sec. 21 of Article VII of the Constitution. 64 It is true, as alleged by petitioners, that broad constitutional principles require the State to develop an independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos; and to protect and/or prefer Filipino labor, products, domestic materials and locally produced goods. But it is equally true that such principles — while serving as judicial and legislative guides — are not in themselves sources of causes of action. Moreover, there are other equally fundamental constitutional principles relied upon by the Senate which mandate the pursuit of a "trade policy that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms and arrangements of exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity" and the promotion of industries "which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets," thereby justifying its acceptance of said treaty. So too, the alleged impairment of sovereignty in the exercise of legislative and judicial powers is balanced by the adoption of the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and the adherence of the Constitution to the policy of cooperation and amity with all nations. That the Senate, after deliberation and voting, voluntarily and overwhelmingly gave its consent to the WTO Agreement thereby making it "a part of the law of the land" is a legitimate exercise of its sovereign duty and power. We find no "patent and gross" arbitrariness or despotism "by reason of passion or personal hostility" in such exercise. It is not impossible to surmise that this Court, or at least some of its members, may even agree with petitioners that it is more advantageous to the national interest to strike down Senate Resolution No. 97. But that is not a legal reason to attribute grave abuse of discretion to the Senate and to nullify its decision. To do so would constitute grave abuse in the exercise of our own
  • 157. judicial power and duty. Ineludably, what the Senate did was a valid exercise of its authority. As to whether such exercise was wise, beneficial or viable is outside the realm of judicial inquiry and review. That is a matter between the elected policy makers and the people. As to whether the nation should join the worldwide march toward trade liberalization and economic globalization is a matter that our people should determine in electing their policy makers. After all, the WTO Agreement allows withdrawal of membership, should this be the political desire of a member. The eminent futurist John Naisbitt, author of the best seller Megatrends, predicts an Asian Renaissance 65 where "the East will become the dominant region of the world economically, politically and culturally in the next century." He refers to the "free market" espoused by WTO as the "catalyst" in this coming Asian ascendancy. There are at present about 31 countries including China, Russia and Saudi Arabia negotiating for membership in the WTO. Notwithstanding objections against possible limitations on national sovereignty, the WTO remains as the only viable structure for multilateral trading and the veritable forum for the development of international trade law. The alternative to WTO is isolation, stagnation, if not economic self-destruction. Duly enriched with original membership, keenly aware of the advantages and disadvantages of globalization with its on-line experience, and endowed with a vision of the future, the Philippines now straddles the crossroads of an international strategy for economic prosperity and stability in the new millennium. Let the people, through their duly authorized elected officers, make their free choice. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.
  • 158. G.R. No. 131544 March 16, 2001 EPG CONSTRUCTION CO., CIPER ELECTRICAL & ENGINEERING, SEPTA CONSTRUCTION CO., PHIL. PLUMBING CO., HOME CONSTRUCTION INC., WORLD BUILDERS CO., GLASS WORLD INC., PERFORMANCE BUILDERS DEV'T. CO., DE LEON-ARANETA CONST. CO., J.D. MACAPAGAL CONST. CO., All represented by their Atty. IN FACT, MARCELO D, FORONDA, petitioners, vs. HON. GREGORIO R. VIGILAR, In His Capacity as Secretary of Public Works and Highways, respondent. BUENA, J.: Sought to be reversed in the instant Petition for Certiorari is the Decision, dated 07 November 1997, of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 226, in Civil Case No. Q-96-29243,1 dismissing the Petition for Mandamus filed by herein petitioners against herein respondent Hon. Gregorio Vigilar, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The tapestry of facts unfurls. In 1983, the Ministry of Human Settlement, through the BLISS Development Corporation, initiated a housing project on a government property along the east bank of the Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City. For this purpose, the Ministry of Human Settlement entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Ministry of Public Works and Highways,2 where the latter undertook to develop the housing site and construct thereon 145 housing units. By virtue of the MOA, the Ministry of Public Works and Highways forged individual contracts with herein petitioners EPG Construction Co., Ciper Electrical and Engineering, Septa Construction Co., Phil. Plumbing Co., Home Construction Inc., World Builders Inc., Glass World Inc., Performance Builders Development Co. and De Leon Araneta Construction Co., for the construction of the housing units. Under the contracts, the scope of construction and funding therefor covered only around "2/3 of each housing unit."3 After complying with the terms of said contracts, and by reason of the verbal request and assurance of then DPWH Undersecretary Aber Canlas that additional funds would be available and forthcoming, petitioners agreed to undertake and perform "additional constructions"4 for the completion of the housing units, despite the absence of appropriations and written contracts to cover subsequent expenses for the "additional constructions." Petitioners then received payment for the construction work duly covered by the individual written contracts, thereby leaving an unpaid balance of P5,918,315.63,5 which amount represents the expenses for the "additional constructions" for the completion of the existing housing units. On 14 November 1988, petitioners sent a demand letter to the DPWH Secretary and submitted that their claim for payment was
  • 159. favorably recommended by DPWH Assistant Secretary for Legal Services Dominador Madamba, who recognized the existence of implied contractscovering the additional constructions. Notwithstanding, DPWH Assistant Secretary Madamba opined that payment of petitioners' money claims should be based on quantum meruit and should be forwarded to the Commission on Audit (COA) for its due consideration and approval. The money claims were then referred to COA which returned the same to the DPWH Auditor for auditorial action. On the basis of the Inspection Report of the Auditor's Technical Staff, the DPWH Auditor interposed no objection to the payment of the money claims subject to whatever action the COA may adopt. In a Second Indorsement dated 27 July 1992, the COA returned the documents to the DPWH, stating that funds should first be made available before COA could pass upon and act on the money claims. In a Memorandum dated 30 July 1992, then DPWH Secretary Jose De Jesus requested the Secretary of Budget and Management to release public funds for the payment of petitioners' money claims, stating that the "amount is urgently needed in order to settle once and for all this (sic) outstanding obligations of the government." In a Letter of the Undersecretary of Budget and Management dated 20 December 1994, the amount of P5,819,316.00 was then released for the payment of petitioners' money claims, under Advise of Allotment No. A4-1303-04-41-303. In an Indorsement dated 27 December 1995, the COA referred anew the money claims to the DPWH pursuant to COA Circular 95-006, thus: "Respectfully returned thru the Auditor to the Honorable Secretary, Department of Public Works and Highways, Port Area, Manila, the above-captioned subject (Re: Claim of Ten (10) contractors for payment of Work accomplishments on the construction of the COGEO II Housing Project, Pasig, Metro Manila) and reiterating the policy of this office as embodied in COA Circular No. 95- 006 dated May 18, 1995 totally lifting its pre-audit activities on all financial transactions of the agencies of the government involving implementation/prosecution of projects and/or payment of claims without exception so as to vest on agency heads the prerogative to exercise fiscal responsibility thereon. "The audit of the transaction shall be done after payment." In a letter dated 26 August 1996, respondent DPWH Secretary Gregorio Vigilar denied the subject money claims prompting herein petitioners to file before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 226, a Petition for Mandamus praying that herein respondent be ordered: "1) To pay petitioners the total of P5,819,316.00;
  • 160. "2) To pay petitioners moral and exemplary damages in the amount to be fixed by the Court and sum of P500,000.00 as attorney's fees. On 18 February 1997, the lower court conducted a pre-trial conference where the parties appeared and filed their respective pre-trial briefs. Further, respondent submitted a Memorandum to which petitioners filed a Rejoinder. On 07 November 1997, the lower court denied the Petition for Mandamus, in a Decision which disposed as follows: "WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant Petition for Mandamus is dismissed. The order of September 24, 1997, submitting the Manifestation and Motion for Resolution, is hereby withdrawn. "SO ORDERED." Hence, this petition where the core issue for resolution focuses on the right of petitioners-contractors to compensation for a public works housing project. In the case before us, respondent, citing among others Sections 466 and 47,7 Chapter 7, Sub-Title B, Title I, Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987 (E.O 292), posits that the "existence of appropriations and availability of funds as certified to and verified by the proper accounting officials are conditions sine qua non for the execution of government contracts."8 Respondent harps on the fact that "the additional work was pursued through the verbal request of then DPWH Undersecretary Aber P. Canlas, despite the absence of the corresponding supplemental contracts and appropriate funding."9 According to respondent, "sans showing of certificate of availability of funds, the implied contracts are considered fatally defective and considered inexistent and void ab initio." Respondent concludes that "inasmuch as the additional work done was pursued in violation of the mandatory provisions of the laws concerning contracts involving expenditure of public funds and in excess of the public official's contracting authority, the same is not binding on the government and impose no liability therefor."10 Although this Court agrees with respondent's postulation that the "implied contracts", which covered the additional constructions, are void, in view of violation of applicable laws, auditing rules and lack of legal requirements,11 we nonetheless find the instant petition laden with merit and uphold, in the interest of substantial justice, petitioners-contractors' right to be compensated for the "additional constructions" on the public works housing project, applying the principle of quantum meruit.
  • 161. Interestingly, this case is not of first impression. In Eslao vs. Commission on Audit,12 this Court likewise allowed recovery by the contractor on the basis of quantum meruit, following our pronouncement in Royal Trust Constructionvs. Commission on Audit,13 thus: "In Royal Trust Construction vs. COA, a case involving the widening and deepening of the Betis River in Pampanga at the urgent request of the local officials and with the knowledge and consent of the Ministry of Public Works, even without a written contract and the covering appropriation, the project was undertaken to prevent the overflowing of the neighboring areas and to irrigate the adjacent farmlands. The contractor sought compensation for the completed portion in the sum of over P1 million. While the payment was favorably recommended by the Ministry of Public Works, it was denied by the respondent COA on the ground of violation of mandatory legal provisions as the existence of corresponding appropriations covering the contract cost. Under COA Res. No. 36- 58 dated November 15, 1986, its existing policy is to allow recovery from covering contracts on the basis of quantum meruit if there is delay in the accomplishment of the required certificate of availability of funds to support a contract." (Emphasis ours) In the Royal Constructioncase, this Court, applying the principle of quantum meruit in allowing recovery by the contractor, elucidated: "The work done by it (the contractor) was impliedly authorized and later expressly acknowledged by the Ministry of Public Works, which has twice recommended favorable action on the petitioner's request for payment. Despite the admitted absence of a specific covering appropriation as required under COA Resolution No. 36-58, the petitioner may nevertheless be compensated for the services rendered by it, concededly for the public benefit, from the general fund allotted by law to the Betis River project. Substantial compliance with the said resolution, in view of the circumstances of this case, should suffice. The Court also feels that the remedy suggested by the respondent, to wit, the filing of a complaint in court for recovery of the compensation claimed, would entail additional expense, inconvenience and delay which in fairness should be imposed on the petitioner. "Accordingly, in the interest of substantial justice and equity, the respondent Commission on Audit is DIRECTED to determine on a quantum meruit basis the total compensation due to the petitioner for the services rendered by it in the channel improvement of the Betis River in Pampanga and to allow the payment thereof immediately upon completion of the said determination." (Emphasis ours) Similarly, this Court applied the doctrine of quantum meruit in Melchor vs. Commission on Audit14 and explained that where payment is based on quantum meruit, the amount of recovery would only be the reasonable value of the thing or services rendered regardless of any agreement as to value.15
  • 162. Notably, the peculiar circumstances present in the instant case buttress petitioners' claim for compensation for the additional constructions, despite the illegality and void nature of the "implied contracts" forged between the DPWH and petitioners-contractors. On this matter, it bears stressing that the illegality of the subject contracts proceeds from an express declaration or prohibition by law,16 and not from any intrinsic illegality. Stated differently, the subject contracts are not illegal per se. Of equal significance are circumstances attendant and peculiar in this case which necessitate allowance of petitioners' money claims — on the basis of quantum meruit — for work accomplished on the government housing project. To begin with, petitioners-contractors assented and agreed to undertake additional constructions for the completion of the housing units, believing in good faith and in the interest of the government and, in effect, the public in general, that appropriations to cover the additional constructions and completion of the public works housing project would be available and forthcoming. On this particular score, the records reveal that the verbal request and assurance of then DPWH Undersecretary Canlas led petitioners-contractors to undertake thecompletion of the government housing project, despite the absence of covering appropriations, written contracts, and certification of availability of funds, as mandated by law and pertinent auditing rules and issuances. To put it differently, the "implied contracts," declared void in this case, covered only the completion and final phase of construction of the housing units, which structures, concededly, were already existing, albeit not yet finished in their entirety at the time the "implied contracts" were entered into between the government and the contractors. Further, petitioners-contractors sent to the DPWH Secretary a demand letter pressing for their money claims, on the strength of a favorable recommendation from the DPWH Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs to the effect that implied contracts existed and that the money claims had ample basis applying the principle of quantum meruit. Moreover, as can be gleaned from the records, even the DPWH Auditor interposed no objection to the payment of the money claims, subject to whatever action the COA may adopt. Beyond this, the sum of P5,819,316.00 representing the amount of petitioners' money claims, had already been released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), under Advise of Allotment No. A4- 1303-04-41-303. Equally important is the glaring fact that the construction of the housing units had already been completed by petitioners-contractors and the subject housing units had been, since their completion, under the control and disposition of the government pursuant to its public works housing project. To our mind, it would be the apex of injustice and highly inequitable for us to defeat petitioners- contractors' right to be duly compensated for actual work performed and services rendered, where both
  • 163. the government and the public have, for years, received and accepted benefits from said housing project and reaped the fruits of petitioners-contractors' honest toil and labor. Incidentally, respondent likewise argues that the State may not be sued in the instant case, invoking the constitutional doctrine of Non-suability of the State,17 otherwise known as the Royal Prerogative of Dishonesty. Respondent's argument is misplaced inasmuch as the Principle of State Immunity finds no application in the case before us. Under these circumstances, respondent may not validly invoke the Royal Prerogative of Dishonesty and conveniently hide under the State's cloak of invincibility against suit, considering that this principle yields to certain settled exceptions. True enough, the rule, in any case, is not absolute for it does not say that the state may not be sued under any circumstance.18 Thus, in Amigable vs. Cuenca,19 this Court, in effect, shred the protective shroud which shields the State from suit, reiterating our decree in the landmark case of Ministerio vs. CFI of Cebu20 that "the doctrine of governmental immunity from suit cannot serve as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice on a citizen." It is just as important, if not more so, that there be fidelity to legal norms on the part of officialdom if the rule of law were to be maintained.21 Although the Amigable and Ministerio cases generously tackled the issue of the State's immunity from suit vis a visthe payment of just compensation for expropriated property, this Court nonetheless finds the doctrine enunciated in the aforementioned cases applicable to the instant controversy, considering that the ends of justice would be subverted if we were to uphold, in this particular instance, the State's immunity from suit. To be sure, this Court — as the staunch guardian of the citizens' rights and welfare — cannot sanction an injustice so patent on its face, and allow itself to be an instrument in the perpetration thereof. Justice and equity sternly demand that the State's cloak of invincibility against suit be shred in this particular instance, and that petitioners-contractors be duly compensated — on the basis of quantum meruit — for construction done on the public works housing project. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court dated 07 November 1997 is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. ACCORDINGLY, the Commission on Audit is hereby directed to determine and ascertain with dispatch, on aquantum meruit basis, the total compensation due to petitioners-contractors for the additional
  • 164. constructions on the housing project and to allow payment thereof upon the completion of said determination. No costs. SO ORDERED.
  • 165. G.R. No. 115634 April 27, 2000 FELIPE CALUB and RICARDO VALENCIA, DEPARTMENT of ENVIRONMENT and NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR), CATBALOGAN, SAMAR, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, MANUELA T. BABALCON, and CONSTANCIO ABUGANDA, respondents. QUISUMBING, J.: For review is the decision1 dated May 27, 1994, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 29191, denying the petition filed by herein petitioners for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, in order to annul the Order dated May 27, 1992, by the Regional Trial Court of Catbalogan, Samar. Said Order had denied petitioners' (a) Motion to Dismiss the replevin case filed by herein private respondents, as well as (b) petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of said trial court dated April 24, 1992, granting an application for a Writ of replevin.2 The pertinent facts of the case, borne by the records, are as follows: On January 28, 1992, the Forest Protection and Law Enforcement Team of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the DENR apprehended two (2) motor vehicles, described as follows: 1. Motor Vehicle with Plate No. HAK-733 loaded with one thousand and twenty six (1,026) board feet of illegally sourced lumber valued at P8,544.75, being driven by one Pio Gabon and owned by [a certain] Jose Vargas. 2. Motor Vehicle with Plate No. FCN-143 loaded with one thousand two hundred twenty four and ninety seven (1,224.97) board feet of illegally-sourced lumber valued at P9,187.27, being driven by one Constancio Abugandaand owned by [a certain] Manuela Babalcon. . . .3 Constancio Abuganda and Pio Gabon, the drivers of the vehicles, failed to present proper documents and/or licenses. Thus, the apprehending team seized and impounded the vehicles and its load of lumber at the DENR-PENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources) Office in Catbalogan.4 Seizure receipts were issued but the drivers refused to accept the receipts.5 Felipe Calub, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, then filed before the Provincial Prosecutor's Office in Samar, a criminal complaint against Abuganda, in Criminal Case No. 3795,
  • 166. for violation of Section 68 [78], Presidential Decree 705 as amended by Executive Order 277, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code.6 On January 31, 1992, the impounded vehicles were forcibly taken by Gabon and Abuganda from the custody of the DENR, prompting DENR Officer Calub this time to file a criminal complaint for grave coercion against Gabon and Abuganda. The complaint was, however, dismissed by the Public Prosecutor.7 On February 11, 1992, one of the two vehicles, with plate number FCN 143, was again apprehended by a composite team of DENR-CENR in Catbalogan and Philippine Army elements of the 802nd Infantry Brigade at Barangay Buray, Paranas, Samar. It was again loaded with forest products with an equivalent volume of 1,005.47 board feet, valued at P10,054.70. Calub duly filed a criminal complaint against Constancio Abuganda, a certain Abegonia, and several John Does, in Criminal Case No. 3625, for violation of Section 68 [78], Presidential Decree 705 as amended by Executive Order 277, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code.8 In Criminal Cases Nos. 3795 and 3625, however, Abegonia and Abuganda were acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt. But note the trial court ordered that a copy of the decision be furnished the Secretary of Justice, in order that the necessary criminal action may be filed against Noe Pagarao and all other persons responsible for violation of the Revised Forestry Code. For it appeared that it was Pagarao who chartered the subject vehicle and ordered that cut timber be loaded on it.9 Subsequently, herein private respondents Manuela Babalcon, the vehicle owner, and Constancio Abuganda, the driver, filed a complaint for the recovery of possession of the two (2) impounded vehicles with an application for replevin against herein petitioners before the RTC of Catbalogan. The trial court granted the application for replevin and issued the corresponding writ in an Order dated April 24, 1992. 10 Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss which was denied by the trial court. 11 Thus, on June 15, 1992, petitioners filed with the Supreme Court the present Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition andMandamus with application for Preliminary Injunction and/or a Temporary Restraining Order. The Court issued a TRO, enjoining respondent RTC judge from conducting further proceedings in the civil case for replevin; and enjoining private respondents from taking or attempting to take the motor vehicles and forest products seized from the custody of the petitioners. The Court further instructed the petitioners to see to it that the motor vehicles and other forest products seized are kept in a secured place and protected from deterioration, said property being incustodia legis and subject to the direct order of the Supreme Court. 12 In a Resolution issued on September 28, 1992, the Court referred said petition to respondent appellate court for appropriate disposition. 13 On May 27, 1994, the Court of Appeals denied said petition for lack of merit. It ruled that the mere seizure of a motor vehicle pursuant to the authority granted by Section 68 [78] of P.D. No. 705 as
  • 167. amended by E.O. No. 277 does not automatically place said conveyance in custodia legis. According to the appellate court, such authority of the Department Head of the DENR or his duly authorized representative to order the confiscation and disposition of illegally obtained forest products and the conveyance used for that purpose is not absolute and unqualified. It is subject to pertinent laws, regulations, or policies on that matter, added the appellate court. The DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990, is one such regulation, the appellate court said. For it prescribes the guidelines in the confiscation, forfeiture and disposition of conveyances used in the commission of offenses penalized under Section 68 [78] of P.D. No. 705 as amended by E.O. No. 277. 14 Additionally, respondent Court of Appeals noted that the petitioners failed to observe the procedure outlined in DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990. They were unable to submit a report of the seizure to the DENR Secretary, to give a written notice to the owner of the vehicle, and to render a report of their findings and recommendations to the Secretary. Moreover, petitioners' failure to comply with the procedure laid down by DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990, was confirmed by the admission of petitioners' counsel that no confiscation order has been issued prior to the seizure of the vehicle and the filing of the replevin suit. Therefore, in failing to follow such procedure, according to the appellate court, the subject vehicles could not be considered in custodia legis. 15 Respondent Court of Appeals also found no merit in petitioners' claim that private respondents' complaint for replevin is a suit against the State. Accordingly, petitioners could not shield themselves under the principle of state immunity as the property sought to be recovered in the instant suit had not yet been lawfully adjudged forfeited in favor of the government. Moreover, according to respondent appellate court, there could be no pecuniary liability nor loss of property that could ensue against the government. It reasoned that a suit against a public officer who acted illegally or beyond the scope of his authority could not be considered a suit against the State; and that a public officer might be sued for illegally seizing or withholding the possession of the property of another. 16 Respondent court brushed aside other grounds raised by petitioners based on the claim that the subject vehicles were validly seized and held in custody because they were contradicted by its own findings. 17 Their petition was found without merit. 18 Now, before us, the petitioners assign the following errors: 19 (1) THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT MERE SEIZURE OF A CONVEYANCE PURSUANT TO SECTION 68-A [78-A] OF P.D. NO. 705 AS AMENDED BY EXECUTIVE ORDER 277 DOES NOT PLACE SAID CONVEYANCE IN CUSTODIA LEGIS;
  • 168. (2) THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE OPERATIVE ACT GIVING RISE FOR THE SUBJECT CONVEYANCE TO BE IN CUSTODIA LEGIS IS ITS LAWFUL SEIZURE BY THE DENR PURSUANT TO SECTION 68-A [78-A] OF P.D. NO. 705, AS AMENDED BY E.O. NO. 277; AND (3) THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE COMPLAINT FOR REPLEVIN AGAINST THE PETITIONERS IS NOT A SUIT AGAINST THE STATE. In brief, the pertinent issues for our consideration are: (1) Whether or not the DENR-seized motor vehicle, with plate number FCN 143, is in custodia legis. (2) Whether or not the complaint for the recovery of possession of impounded vehicles, with an application for replevin, is a suit against the State. We will now resolve both issues. The Revised Forestry Code authorizes the DENR to seize all conveyances used in the commission of an offense in violation of Section 78. Section 78 states: Sec. 78. Cutting, Gathering, and/or Collecting Timber, or Other Forest Products without License. — Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forestland, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code. . . The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered, collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found. This provision makes mere possession of timber or other forest products without the accompanying legal documents unlawful and punishable with the penalties imposed for the crime of theft, as prescribed in Articles 309-310 of the Revised Penal Code. In the present case, the subject vehicles were loaded with forest products at the time of the seizure. But admittedly no permit evidencing authority to possess and transport said load of forest products was duly presented. These products, in turn, were deemed illegally sourced. Thus there was a prima facie violation of Section 68 [78] of the Revised Forestry Code, although as found by the trial court, the persons responsible for said violation were not the ones charged by the public prosecutor.
  • 169. The corresponding authority of the DENR to seize all conveyances used in the commission of an offense in violation of Section 78 of the Revised Forestry Code is pursuant to Sections 78-A and 89 of the same Code. They read as follows: Sec. 78-A. Administrative Authority of the Department Head or His Duly Authorized Representative to Order Confiscation. — In all cases of violation of this Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations, the Department Head or his duly authorized representative, may order the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned, and all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter. Sec. 89. Arrest; Institution of criminal actions. — A forest officer or employee of the Bureau [Department] or any personnel of the Philippine Constabulary/Philippine National Police shall arrest even without warrant any person who has committed or is committing in his presence any of the offenses defined in this Chapter. He shall also seize and confiscate, in favor of the Government, the tools and equipment used in committing the offense. . . [Emphasis supplied.] Note that DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990, implements Sections 78-A and 89 of the Forestry Code, as follows: Sec. 2. Conveyances Subject to Confiscation and Forfeiture. — All conveyances used in the transport of any forest product obtained or gathered illegally whether or not covered with transport documents, found spurious or irregular in accordance with Sec. 68-A [78-A] of P.D. No. 705, shall be confiscated in favor of the government or disposed of in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter. Sec. 4. Who are Authorized to Seize Conveyance. — The Secretary or his duly authorized representative such as the forest officers and/or natural resources officers, or deputized officers of the DENR areauthorized to seize said conveyances subject to policies and guidelines pertinent thereto. Deputized military personnel and officials of other agencies apprehending illegal logs and other forest products and their conveyances shall notify the nearest DENR field offices, and turn oversaid forest products and conveyances for proper action and disposition. In case where the apprehension is made by DENR field officer, the conveyance shall be deposited with the nearest CENRO/PENRO/RED Office as the case may be, for safekeeping wherever it is most convenient and secured. [Emphasis supplied.] Upon apprehension of the illegally-cut timber while being transported without pertinent documents that could evidence title to or right to possession of said timber, a warrantless seizure of the involved vehicles and their load was allowed under Section 78 and 89 of the Revised Forestry Code.
  • 170. Note further that petitioners' failure to observe the procedure outlined in DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990 was justifiably explained. Petitioners did not submit a report of the seizure to the Secretary nor give a written notice to the owner of the vehicle because on the 3rd day following the seizure, Gabon and Abuganda, drivers of the seized vehicles, forcibly took the impounded vehicles from the custody of the DENR. Then again, when one of the motor vehicles was apprehended and impounded for the second time, the petitioners, again were not able to report the seizure to the DENR Secretary nor give a written notice to the owner of the vehicle because private respondents immediately went to court and applied for a writ of replevin. The seizure of the vehicles and their load was done upon their apprehension for a violation of the Revised Forestry Code. It would be absurd to require a confiscation order or notice and hearing before said seizure could be effected under the circumstances. Since there was a violation of the Revised Forestry Code and the seizure was in accordance with law, in our view the subject vehicles were validly deemed in custodia legis. It could not be subject to an action for replevin. For it is property lawfully taken by virtue of legal process and considered in the custody of the law, and not otherwise. 20 In Mamanteo, et. al. v. Deputy Sheriff Magumun, A.M. No. P-98-1264, promulgated on July 28, 1999, the case involves property to be seized by a Deputy Sheriff in a replevin suit. But said property were already impounded by the DENR due to violation of forestry laws and, in fact, already forfeited in favor of the government by order of the DENR. We said that such property was deemed in custodia legis. The sheriff could not insist on seizing the property already subject of a prior warrant of seizure. The appropriate action should be for the sheriff to inform the trial court of the situation by way of partial Sheriff's Return, and wait for the judge's instructions on the proper procedure to be observed. Note that property that is validly deposited in custodia legis cannot be the subject of a replevin suit. In Mamanteo v. Deputy Sheriff Magumun, we elucidated further: . . . the writ of replevin has been repeatedly used by unscrupulous plaintiffs to retrieve their chattel earlier taken for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code, tax assessment, attachment or execution. Officers of the court, from the presiding judge to the sheriff, are implored to be vigilant in their execution of the law otherwise, as in this case, valid seizure and forfeiture proceedings could easily be undermined by the simple devise of a writ of replevin. . . 21 On the second issue, is the complaint for the recovery of possession of the two impounded vehicles, with an application for replevin, a suit against the State? Well established is the doctrine that the State may not be sued without its consent. 22 And a suit against a public officer for his official acts is, in effect, a suit against the State if its purpose is to hold the State ultimately liable. 23 However, the protection afforded to public officers by this doctrine generally applies
  • 171. only to activities within the scope of their authority in good faith and without willfulness, malice or corruption. 24 In the present case, the acts for which the petitioners are being called to account were performed by them in the discharge of their official duties. The acts in question are clearly official in nature. 25 In implementing and enforcing Sections 78-A and 89 of the Forestry Code through the seizure carried out, petitioners were performing their duties and functions as officers of the DENR, and did so within the limits of their authority. There was no malice nor bad faith on their part. Hence, a suit against the petitioners who represent the DENR is a suit against the State. It cannot prosper without the State's consent. Given the circumstances in this case, we need not pursue the Office of the Solicitor General's line for the defense of petitioners concerning exhaustion of administrative remedies. We ought only to recall that exhaustion must be raised at the earliest time possible, even before filing the answer to the complaint or pleading asserting a claim, by a motion to dismiss. 26 If not invoked at the proper time, this ground for dismissal could be deemed waived and the court could take cognizance of the case and try it. 27 ACCORDINGLY, the Petition is GRANTED, and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 29191 is SET ASIDE.1âwphi1 Consequently, the Order issued by the Regional Trial Court of Catbalogan, dated May 27, 1992, and the Writ of replevin issued in the Order dated April 24, 1992, are ANNULLED. The Sheriff of the Regional Trial Court of Catbalogan, Branch 29, is directed to take possession of the subject motor vehicle, with plate number FCN 143, for delivery to the custody of and appropriate disposition by petitioners. Let a copy of this decision be provided the Honorable Secretary of Justice for his appropriate action, against any and all persons responsible for the abovecited violation of the Revised Forestry Code. Costs against private respondents.1âwphi1.nêt SO ORDERED.
  • 172. [G.R. No. 154411. June 19, 2003] NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, petitioner, vs. HEIRS OF ISIDRO GUIVELONDO, COURT OF APPEALS, HON. ISAIAS DICDICAN, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Cebu City, and PASCUAL Y. ABORDO, Sheriff, Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Cebu City, respondents. D E C I S I O N YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: On February 23, 1999, petitioner National Housing Authority filed with the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 11, an Amended Complaint for eminent domain against Associacion Benevola de Cebu, Engracia Urot and the Heirs of Isidro Guivelondo, docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-23386. Petitioner alleged that defendant Associacion Benevola de Cebu was the claimant/owner of Lot 108-C located in the Banilad Estate, Cebu City; that defendant Engracia Urot was the claimant/owner of Lots Nos. 108-F, 108-I, 108-G, 6019-A and 6013-A, all of the Banilad Estate; that defendant Heirs of Isidro Guivelondo were the claimants/owners of Cadastral Lot No. 1613-D located at Carreta, Mabolo, Cebu City; and that the lands are within a blighted urban center which petitioner intends to develop as a socialized housing project.[1] On November 12, 1999, the Heirs of Isidro Guivelondo, respondents herein, filed a Manifestation stating that they were waiving their objections to petitioner’s power to expropriate their properties. Hence, the trial court issued an Order as follows: WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares that the plaintiff has a lawful right to expropriate the properties of the defendants who are heirs of Isidro Guivelondo. The appointment of commissioners who would ascertain and report to the Court the just compensation for said properties will be done as soon as the parties shall have submitted to the Court the names of persons desired by them to be appointed as such commissioners. SO ORDERED.[2] Thereafter, the trial court appointed three Commissioners to ascertain the correct and just compensation of the properties of respondents. On April 17, 2000, the Commissioners submitted their report wherein they recommended that the just compensation of the subject properties be fixed at P11,200.00 per square meter.[3] On August 7, 2000, the trial court rendered Partial Judgment adopting the recommendation of the Commissioners and fixing the just compensation of the lands of respondent Heirs of Isidro Guivelondo at P11,200.00 per square meter, to wit:
  • 173. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby rendered by the Court in this case fixing the just compensation for the lands of the defendants who are the heirs of Isidro Guivelondo, more particularly Lots Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 6016-F, 6016-H, 6016-E and 6016-D of Csd-10219, which were sought to be expropriated by the plaintiff at P11,200.00 per square meter and ordering the plaintiff to pay to the said defendants the just compensation for the said lands computed at P11,200.00 per square meter. IT IS SO ORDERED.[4] Petitioner NHA filed two motions for reconsideration dated August 30, 2000 and August 31, 2000, assailing the inclusion of Lots 12, 13 and 19 as well as the amount of just compensation, respectively. Respondent Heirs also filed a motion for reconsideration of the Partial Judgment. On October 11, 2000, the trial court issued an Omnibus Order denying the motion for reconsideration of respondent Heirs and the August 31, 2000 motion of petitioner, on the ground that the fixing of the just compensation had adequate basis and support. On the other hand, the trial court granted petitioner’s August 30, 2000 motion for reconsideration on the ground that the Commissioner’s Report did not include Lots 12, 13 and 19 within its coverage. Thus: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the Court hereby denies the motion of the heirs of Isidro Guivelondo (with the exception of Carlota Mercado and Juanita Suemith) for reconsideration of the partial judgment rendered in this case on August 7, 2000 and plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of said judgment, dated August 31, 2000. However, the Court hereby grants the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of said judgment, dated August 30, 2000. Accordingly, the judgment rendered in this case on August 7, 2000 is hereby set aside insofar as it has fixed just compensations for Lots Nos. 12, 13 and 19 of Csd-10219 because the fixing of said just compensations appears to lack adequate basis. SO ORDERED.[5] Petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 61746.[6] Meanwhile, on October 31, 2000, the trial court issued an Entry of Judgment over the Partial Judgment dated August 7, 2000 as modified by the Omnibus Order dated October 11, 2000.[7] Subsequently, respondent Heirs filed a Motion for Execution, which was granted on November 22, 2000. On January 31, 2001, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari on the ground that the Partial Judgment and Omnibus Order became final and executory when petitioner failed to appeal the same.[8]
  • 174. Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration and Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for a Clarificatory Ruling were denied in a Resolution dated March 18, 2001.[9] A petition for review was filed by petitioner with this Court, which was docketed as G.R. No. 147527. However, the same was denied in a Minute Resolution dated May 9, 2001 for failure to show that the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error.[10] Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was however denied with finality on August 20, 2001.[11] Prior to the aforesaid denial of the Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner, on July 16, 2001, filed with the trial court a Motion to Dismiss Civil Case No. CEB-23386, complaint for eminent domain, alleging that the implementation of its socialized housing project was rendered impossible by the unconscionable value of the land sought to be expropriated, which the intended beneficiaries can not afford.[12] The Motion was denied on September 17, 2001, on the ground that the Partial Judgment had already become final and executory and there was no just and equitable reason to warrant the dismissal of the case.[13] Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied in an Order dated November 20, 2001.[14] Petitioner thus filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 68670, praying for the annulment of the Order of the trial court denying its Motion to Dismiss and its Motion for Reconsideration.[15] On February 5, 2002, the Court of Appeals summarily dismissed the petition. Immediately thereafter, respondent Sheriff Pascual Y. Abordo of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 11, served on petitioner a Notice of Levy pursuant to the Writ of Execution issued by the trial court to enforce the Partial Judgment of August 7, 2000 and the Omnibus Order of October 11, 2000.[16] On February 18, 2002, the Court of Appeals set aside the dismissal of the petition and reinstated the same.[17] Thereafter, a temporary restraining order was issued enjoining respondent sheriff to preserve the status quo.[18] On May 27, 2002, respondent sheriff served on the Landbank of the Philippines a Notice of Third Garnishment against the deposits, moneys and interests of petitioner therein.[19] Subsequently, respondent sheriff levied on funds and personal properties of petitioner.[20] On July 16, 2002, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed decision dismissing the petition for certiorari.[21] Hence, petitioner filed this petition for review, raising the following issues: 1) WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE CAN BE COMPELLEDAND COERCED BY THE COURTS TO EXERCISE OR CONTINUE WITH THE EXERCISE OF ITS INHERENT POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN;
  • 175. 2) WHETHER OR NOT JUDGMENT HAS BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY AND IF ESTOPPEL OR LACHES APPLIES TO GOVERNMENT; 3) WHETHER OR NOT WRITS OF EXECUTION AND GARNISHMENT MAY BE ISSUED AGAINST THE STATE IN AN EXPROPRIATION WHEREIN THE EXERCISE OF THE POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN WILL NOT SERVE PUBLIC USE OR PURPOSE {APPLICATION OF SUPREME COURT ADMINISTRATIVE CIRCULAR NO. 10-2000}.[22] Respondent Heirs of Isidro Guivelondo filed their Comment, arguing as follows: I AS EARLIER UPHELD BY THE HONORABLE COURT, THE JUDGMENT OF THE TRIAL COURT IS ALREADY FINAL AND EXECUTORY, HENCE, COULD NO LONGER BE DISTURBED NOR SET ASIDE II THE FUNDS AND ASSETS OF THE PETITIONER ARE NOT EXEMPT FROM LEVY AND GARNISHMENT III THE ISSUES RAISED IN THIS SECOND PETITION FOR REVIEW WERE ALREADY RESOLVED BY THE HONORABLE COURT[23] In the early case of City of Manila v. Ruymann,[24] the Court was confronted with the question: May the petitioner, in an action for expropriation, after he has been placed in possession of the property and before the termination of the action, dismiss the petition? It resolved the issue in the affirmative and held: The right of the plaintiff to dismiss an action with the consent of the court is universally recognized with certain well-defined exceptions. If the plaintiff discovers that the action which he commenced was brought for the purpose of enforcing a right or a benefit, the advisability or necessity of which he later discovers no longer exists, or that the result of the action would be different from what he had intended, then he should be permitted to withdraw his action, subject to the approval of the court. The plaintiff should not be required to continue the action, subject to some well-defined exceptions, when it is not to his advantage to do so. Litigation should be discouraged and not encouraged. Courts should not require parties to litigate when they no longer desire to do so. Courts, in granting permission to dismiss an action, of course, should always take into consideration the effect which said dismissal would have upon the rights of the defendant.[25]
  • 176. Subsequently, in Metropolitan Water District v. De Los Angeles,[26] the Court had occasion to apply the above-quoted ruling when the petitioner, during the pendency of the expropriation case, resolved that the land sought to be condemned was no longer necessary in the maintenance and operation of its system of waterworks. It was held: It is not denied that the purpose of the plaintiff was to acquire the land in question for a public use. The fundamental basis then of all actions brought for the expropriation of lands, under the power of eminent domain, is public use. That being true, the very moment that it appears at any stage of the proceedings that the expropriation is not for a public use, the action must necessarily fail and should be dismissed, for the reason that the action cannot be maintained at all except when the expropriation is for some public use. That must be true even during the pendency of the appeal of at any other stage of the proceedings. If, for example, during the trial in the lower court, it should be made to appear to the satisfaction of the court that the expropriation is not for some public use, it would be the duty and the obligation of the trial court to dismiss the action. And even during the pendency of the appeal, if it should be made to appear to the satisfaction of the appellate court that the expropriation is not for public use, then it would become the duty and the obligation of the appellate court to dismiss it.[27] Notably, the foregoing cases refer to the dismissal of an action for eminent domain at the instance of the plaintiff during the pendency of the case. The rule is different where the case had been decided and the judgment had already become final and executory. Expropriation proceedings consists of two stages: first, condemnation of the property after it is determined that its acquisition will be for a public purpose or public use and, second, the determination of just compensation to be paid for the taking of private property to be made by the court with the assistance of not more than three commissioners.[28] Thus: There are two (2) stages in every action for expropriation. The first is concerned with the determination of the authority of the plaintiff to exercise the power of eminent domain and the propriety of its exercise in the context of the facts involved in the suit. It ends with an order, if not of dismissal of the action, “of condemnation declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful right to take the property sought to be condemned, for the public use or purpose described in the complaint, upon the payment of just compensation to be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint.” An order of dismissal, if this be ordained, would be a final one, of course, since it finally disposes of the action and leaves nothing more to be done by the Court on the merits. So, too, would an order of condemnation be a final one, for thereafter, as the Rules expressly state, in the proceedings before the Trial Court, “no objection to the exercise of the right of condemnation (or the propriety thereof) shall be filed or heard.” The second phase of the eminent domain action is concerned with the determination by the Court of “the just compensation for the property sought to be taken.” This is done by the Court with the
  • 177. assistance of not more than three (3) commissioners. The order fixing the just compensation on the basis of the evidence before, and findings of, the commissioners would be final, too. It would finally dispose of the second stage of the suit, and leave nothing more to be done by the Court regarding the issue. Obviously, one or another of the parties may believe the order to be erroneous in its appreciation of the evidence or findings of fact or otherwise. Obviously, too, such a dissatisfied party may seek a reversal of the order by taking an appeal therefrom.[29] The outcome of the first phase of expropriation proceedings, which is either an order of expropriation or an order of dismissal, is final since it finally disposes of the case. On the other hand, the second phase ends with an order fixing the amount of just compensation. Both orders, being final, are appealable.[30] An order of condemnation or dismissal is final, resolving the question of whether or not the plaintiff has properly and legally exercised its power of eminent domain.[31] Once the first order becomes final and no appeal thereto is taken, the authority to expropriate and its public use can no longer be questioned.[32] The above rule is based on Rule 67, Section 4 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides: Order of expropriation. — If the objections to and the defenses against the right of the plaintiff to expropriate the property are overruled, or when no party appears to defend as required by this Rule, the court may issue an order of expropriation declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful right to take the property sought to be expropriated, for the public use or purpose described in the complaint, upon the payment of just compensation to be determined as of the date of the taking of the property or the filing of the complaint, whichever came first. A final order sustaining the right to expropriate the property may be appealed by any party aggrieved thereby. Such appeal, however, shall not prevent the court from determining the just compensation to be paid. After the rendition of such an order, the plaintiff shall not be permitted to dismiss or discontinue the proceeding except on such terms as the court deems just and equitable. (underscoring ours) In the case at bar, petitioner did not appeal the Order of the trial court dated December 10, 1999, which declared that it has a lawful right to expropriate the properties of respondent Heirs of Isidro Guivelondo. Hence, the Order became final and may no longer be subject to review or reversal in any court.[33] A final and executory decision or order can no longer be disturbed or reopened no matter how erroneous it may be. Although judicial determinations are not infallible, judicial error should be corrected through appeals, not through repeated suits on the same claim.[34] Petitioner anchors its arguments on the last paragraph of the above-quoted Rule 67, Section 4. In essence, it contends that there are just and equitable grounds to allow dismissal or discontinuance of the
  • 178. expropriation proceedings. More specifically, petitioner alleges that the intended public use was rendered nugatory by the unreasonable just compensation fixed by the court, which is beyond the means of the intended beneficiaries of the socialized housing project. The argument is tenuous. Socialized housing has been recognized as public use for purposes of exercising the power of eminent domain. Housing is a basic human need. Shortage in housing is a matter of state concern since it directly and significantly affects public health, safety, the environment and in sum, the general welfare. The public character of housing measures does not change because units in housing projects cannot be occupied by all but only by those who satisfy prescribed qualifications. A beginning has to be made, for it is not possible to provide housing for all who need it, all at once. xxx xxx xxx. In the light of the foregoing, this Court is satisfied that “socialized housing” falls with the confines of “public use”. xxx xxx xxx. Provisions on economic opportunities inextricably linked with low-cost housing, or slum clearance, relocation and resettlement, or slum improvement emphasize the public purpose of the project.[35] The public purpose of the socialized housing project is not in any way diminished by the amount of just compensation that the court has fixed. The need to provide decent housing to the urban poor dwellers in the locality was not lost by the mere fact that the land cost more than petitioner had expected. It is worthy to note that petitioner pursued its petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals assailing the amount of just compensation and its petition for review with this Court which eloquently indicates that there still exists a public use for the housing project. It was only after its appeal and petitions for review were dismissed that petitioner made a complete turn-around and decided it did not want the property anymore. Respondent landowners had already been prejudiced by the expropriation case. Petitioner cannot be permitted to institute condemnation proceedings against respondents only to abandon it later when it finds the amount of just compensation unacceptable. Indeed, our reprobation in the case of Cosculluela v. Court of Appeals[36] is apropos: It is arbitrary and capricious for a government agency to initiate expropriation proceedings, seize a person’s property, allow the judgment of the court to become final and executory and then refuse to pay on the ground that there are no appropriations for the property earlier taken and profitably used. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the cavalier attitude of government officials who adopt such a despotic and irresponsible stance.
  • 179. In order to resolve the issue of the propriety of the garnishment against petitioner’s funds and personal properties, there is a need to first determine its true character as a government entity. Generally, funds and properties of the government cannot be the object of garnishment proceedings even if the consent to be sued had been previously granted and the state liability adjudged.[37] The universal rule that where the State gives its consent to be sued by private parties either by general or special law, it may limit claimant’s action “only up to the completion of proceedings anterior to the stage of execution” and that the power of the Courts ends when the judgment is rendered, since government funds and properties may not be seized under writs of execution or garnishment to satisfy such judgments, is based on obvious considerations of public policy. Disbursements of public funds must be covered by the corresponding appropriation as required by law. The functions and public services rendered by the State cannot be allowed to be paralyzed or disrupted by the diversion of public funds from their legitimate and specific objects, as appropriated by law.[38] However, if the funds belong to a public corporation or a government-owned or controlled corporation which is clothed with a personality of its own, separate and distinct from that of the government, then its funds are not exempt from garnishment.[39] This is so because when the government enters into commercial business, it abandons its sovereign capacity and is to be treated like any other corporation.[40] In the case of petitioner NHA, the matter of whether its funds and properties are exempt from garnishment has already been resolved squarely against its predecessor, the People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC), to wit: The plea for setting aside the notice of garnishment was premised on the funds of the People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation deposited with petitioner being “public in character.” There was not even a categorical assertion to that effect. It is only the possibility of its being “public in character.” The tone was thus irresolute, the approach diffident. The premise that the funds cold be spoken of as public in character may be accepted in the sense that the People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation was a government-owned entity. It does not follow though that they were exempt from garnishment.[41] This was reiterated in the subsequent case of Philippine Rock Industries, Inc. v. Board of Liquidators:[42] Having a juridical personality separate and distinct from the government, the funds of such government- owned and controlled corporations and non-corporate agency, although considered public in character, are not exempt from garnishment. This doctrine was applied to suits filed against the Philippine Virginia Tobacco Administration (PNB vs. Pabalan, et al., 83 SCRA 695); the National Shipyard &
  • 180. Steel Corporation (NASSCO vs. CIR, 118 Phil. 782); the Manila Hotel Company (Manila Hotel Employees Asso. vs. Manila Hotel Co., 73 Phil. 374); and the People's Homesite and Housing Corporation (PNB vs. CIR, 81 SCRA 314). [emphasis ours] Hence, it is clear that the funds of petitioner NHA are not exempt from garnishment or execution. Petitioner’s prayer for injunctive relief to restrain respondent Sheriff Pascual Abordo from enforcing the Notice of Levy and Garnishment against its funds and properties must, therefore, be denied. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 68670, affirming the trial court’s Order denying petitioner’s Motion to Dismiss the expropriation proceedings in Civil Case No. CEB-23386, is AFFIRMED. Petitioner’s prayer for injunctive relief against the levy and garnishment of its funds and personal properties is DENIED. The Temporary Restraining Order dated January 22, 2003 is LIFTED. SO ORDERED.
  • 181. G.R. No. 107271 September 10, 2003 CITY OF CALOOCAN and NORMA M. ABRACIA, petitioners, vs. HON. MAURO T. ALLARDE, Presiding Judge of Branch 123, RTC of Caloocan City, ALBERTO A. CASTILLO, Deputy Sheriff of Branch 123, RTC of Caloocan City, and DELFINA HERNANDEZ SANTIAGO and PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK (PNB), respondents. CORONA, J.: Assailed in this petition for certiorari is the decision1 dated August 31, 1992, of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP No. 27423, ordering the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 123, to implement an alias writ of execution dated January 16, 1992. The dispositive portion read as follows: WHEREFORE the petition is hereby granted ordering the Regional Trial Court of Kaloocan City, Branch 123, to immediately effect the alias writ of execution dated January 16, 1992 without further delay. Counsel for the respondents are warned that a repetition of their contemptuous act to delay the execution of a final and executory judgment will be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED.2 It is important to state at the outset that the dispute between petitioner and private respondent has been litigated thrice before this Court: first, in G.R. No. L-39288-89, entitled Heirs of Abelardo Palomique, et al. vs. Marcial Samson, et al., decided on January 31, 1985; second, in G.R. No. 98366, entitled City Government of Caloocan vs. Court of Appeals, et al., resolved on May 16, 1991, and third, in G.R. No. 102625, entitled Santiago vs. Sto. Tomas, et al., decided on August 1, 1995. This is not to mention the numerous concurrent efforts by the City Government of Caloocan to seek relief from other judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. The present petition for certiorari is the fourth time we are called upon to resolve the dispute. The factual and procedural antecedents follow. Sometime in 1972, Marcial Samson, City Mayor of Caloocan City, through Ordinance No. 1749, abolished the position of Assistant City Administrator and 17 other positions from the plantilla of the local government of Caloocan. Then Assistant City Administrator Delfina Hernandez Santiago and the 17 affected employees of the City Government assailed the legality of the abolition before the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Caloocan City, Branch 33.
  • 182. In 1973, the CFI declared the abolition illegal and ordered the reinstatement of all the dismissed employees and the payment of their back salaries and other emoluments. The City Government of Caloocan appealed to the Court of Appeals. Respondent Santiago and her co-parties moved for the dismissal of the appeal for being dilatory and frivolous but the appellate court denied their motion. Thus, they elevated the case on certiorari before this Court, docketed as G.R. No. L-39288-89, Heirs of Abelardo Palomique, et al. vs. Marcial Samson, et al. In our Resolution dated January 31, 1985, we held that the appellate court "erred in not dismissing the appeal," and "that the appeal of the City Government of Caloocan was frivolous and dilatory." In due time, the resolution lapsed into finality and entry of judgment was made on February 27, 1985. In 1986, the City Government of Caloocan paid respondent Santiago P75,083.37 in partial payment of her backwages, thereby leaving a balance of P530,761.91. Her co-parties were paid in full.3 In 1987, the City of Caloocan appropriated funds for her unpaid back salaries. This was included in Supplemental Budget No. 3 for the fiscal year 1987. Surprisingly, however, the City later refused to release the money to respondent Santiago. Respondent Santiago exerted effort for the execution of the remainder of the money judgment but she met stiff opposition from the City Government of Caloocan. On February 12, 1991, Judge Mauro T. Allarde, RTC of Caloocan City, Branch 123, issued a writ of execution for the payment of the remainder of respondent Santiago’s back salaries and other emoluments.4 For the second time, the City Government of Caloocan went up to the Court of Appeals and filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction to stop the trial court from enforcing the writ of execution. The CA dismissed the petition and affirmed the order of issuance of the writ of execution.5 One of the issues raised and resolved therein was the extent to which back salaries and emoluments were due to respondent Santiago. The appellate court held that she was entitled to her salaries from October, 1983 to December, 1986. And for the second time, the City Government of Caloocan appealed to this Court in G.R. No. 98366, City Government of Caloocan vs. Court of Appeals, et al. The petition was dismissed, through our Resolution of May 16, 1991, for having been filed late and for failure to show any reversible error on the part of the Court of Appeals. The resolution subsequently attained finality and the corresponding entry of judgment was made on July 29, 1991. On motion of private respondent Santiago, Judge Mauro T. Allarde ordered the issuance of an alias writ of execution on March 3, 1992. The City Government of Caloocan moved to reconsider the order, insisting in the main that respondent Santiago was not entitled to backwages from 1983 to 1986. The court a quo denied the motion and forthwith issued the alias writ of execution. Unfazed, the City Government of Caloocan filed a motion to quash the writ, maintaining that the money judgment sought
  • 183. to be enforced should not have included salaries and allowances for the years 1983-1986. The trial court likewise denied the motion. On July 27, 1992, Sheriff Alberto A. Castillo levied and sold at public auction one of the motor vehicles of the City Government of Caloocan, with plate no. SBH-165, for P100,000. The proceeds of the sale were turned over to respondent Santiago in partial satisfaction of her claim, thereby leaving a balance of P439,377.14, inclusive of interest. Petitioners filed a motion questioning the validity of the auction sale of the vehicle with plate no. SBH-165, and a supplemental motion maintaining that the properties of the municipality were exempt from execution. In his Order dated October 1, 1992, Judge Allarde denied both motions and directed the sheriff to levy and schedule at public auction three more vehicles of the City of Caloocan -6< /p> ONE (1) Unit Motor Vehicle (Hunter Station Wagon); Motor No. C-240-199629; Chassis No. MBB- 910369C; ONE (1) Unit Motor Vehicle (Hunter Series 11-Diesel); Engine No. 4FB1-174328, Chassis No. MBB- 910345C; Plate No. SDL-653; ONE (1) Unit Motor Vehicle (Hunter Series 11-Diesel); Engine No. 4FB-165196; Chassis No. MBB 910349C. All the vehicles, including that previously sold in the auction sale, were owned by the City and assigned for the use of herein petitioner Norma Abracia, Division Superintendent of Caloocan City, and other officials of the Division of City Schools. Meanwhile, the City Government of Caloocan sought clarification from the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on whether respondent Santiago was considered to have rendered services from 1983-1986 as to be entitled to backwages for that period. In its Resolution No. 91-1124, the CSC ruled in the negative. On November 22, 1991, private respondent Santiago challenged the CSC resolution before this Court in G.R. No. 102625, Santiago vs. Sto. Tomas, et al. On July 8, 1993, we initially dismissed the petition for lack of merit; however, we reconsidered the dismissal of the petition in our Resolution dated August 1, 1995, this time ruling in favor of respondent Santiago: The issue of petitioner Santiago’s right to back salaries for the period from October 1983 to December 1986 having been resolved in G.R. No. 98366 on 16 May 1991, CSC Resolution No. 91- 1124 promulgated later on 24 September 1991 – in particular, its ruling on the extent of backwages due petitioner Santiago – was in fact moot and academic at the time of its promulgation. CSC Resolution No. 91-1124 could not, of course, set aside what had been judicially
  • 184. decided with finality x x x x the court considers that resort by the City Government of Caloocan to respondent CSC was but another attempt to deprive petitioner Santiago of her claim to back salaries x x x and a continuation of the City’s abuse and misuse of the rules of judicial procedure. The City’s acts have resulted in wasting the precious time and resources of the courts and respondent CSC. (Underscoring supplied). On October 5, 1992, the City Council of Caloocan passed Ordinance No. 0134, Series of 1992, which included the amount of P439,377.14 claimed by respondent Santiago as back salaries, plus interest.7 Pursuant to the subject ordinance, Judge Allarde issued an order dated November 10, 1992, decreeing that: WHEREFORE, the City Treasurer (of Caloocan), Norberto Azarcon is hereby ordered to deliver to this Court within five (5) days from receipt hereof, (a) manager’s check covering the amount of P439,378.00 representing the back salaries of petitioner Delfina H. Santiago in accordance with Ordinance No. 0134 S. 1992 and pursuant to the final and executory decision in these cases. Then Caloocan Mayor Macario A. Asistio, Jr., however, refused to sign the check intended as payment for respondent Santiago’s claims. This, despite the fact that he was one of the signatories of the ordinance authorizing such payment. On April 29, 1993, Judge Allarde issued another order directing the Acting City Mayor of Caloocan, Reynaldo O. Malonzo, to sign the check which had been pending before the Office of the Mayor since December 11, 1992. Acting City Mayor Malonzo informed the trial court that "he could not comply with the order since the subject check was not formally turned over to him by the City Mayor" who went on official leave of absence on April 15, 1993, and that "he doubted whether he had authority to sign the same."8 Thus, in an order dated May 7, 1993, Judge Allarde ordered Sheriff Alberto A. Castillo to immediately garnish the funds of the City Government of Caloocan corresponding to the claim of respondent Santiago.9 On the same day, Sheriff Alberto A. Castillo served a copy of the Notice of Garnishment on the Philippine National Bank (PNB), Sangandaan Branch, Caloocan City. When PNB immediately notified the City of Caloocan of the Notice of Garnishment, the City Treasurer sent a letter-advice informing PNB that the order of garnishment was "illegal," with a warning that it would hold PNB liable for any damages which may be caused by the withholding of the funds of the city. PNB opted to comply with the order of Judge Allarde and released to the Sheriff a manager’s check amounting to P439,378. After 21 long years, the claim of private respondent Santiago was finally settled in full. On June 4, 1993, however, while the instant petition was pending, the City Government of Caloocan filed yet another motion with this Court, a Motion to Declare in Contempt of Court; to Set Aside the Garnishment and Administrative Complaint against Judge Allarde, respondent Santiago and PNB.
  • 185. Subsequently, the City Government of Caloocan filed a Supplemental Petition formally impleading PNB as a party-respondent in this case. The instant petition for certiorari is directed this time against the validity of the garnishment of the funds of the City of Caloocan, as well as the validity of the levy and sale of the motor vehicles belonging to the City of Caloocan. More specifically, petitioners insist that Judge Allarde gravely abused his discretion in: (a) ordering the garnishment of the funds of the City of Caloocan deposited with the PNB, since it is settled that public funds are beyond the reach of garnishment and even with the appropriation passed by the City Council, the authority of the Mayor is still needed for the release of the appropriation; (b) ordering the levy and sale at public auction of three (3) motor vehicles owned by the City of Caloocan, which vehicles are necessary for public use and cannot be attached nor sold in an execution sale to satisfy a money judgment against the City of Caloocan; (c) peremptorily denying petitioner City of Caloocan’s urgent motions to vacate and set aside the auction sale of the motor vehicle with PLATE NO. SBH-165, notwithstanding that the auction sale by the Sheriff was tainted with serious irregularities, more particularly: i. non-compliance with the mandatory posting of the notice of sale; ii. non-observance of the procedure that a sale through public auction has to be made and consummated at the time of the auction, at the designated place and upon actual payment of the purchase price by the winning bidder; iii. violation of Sec. 21, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court to the effect that sale of personal property capable of manual delivery ‘must be sold within the view of those attending the sale;’ and, iv. the Sheriff’s Certificate of Sale contained false narration of facts respecting the actual time of the public auction; (d) the enforcement of the levy made by the Sheriff covering the three (3) motor vehicles based on an alias writ that has long expired. The petition has absolutely no merit. The trial court committed no grave abuse of discretion in implementing the alias writ of execution to settle the claim of respondent Santiago, the satisfaction of which petitioner had been maliciously evading for 21 years.
  • 186. Petitioner argues that the garnishment of its funds in PNB was invalid inasmuch as these were public funds and thus exempt from execution. Garnishment is considered a specie of attachment by means of which the plaintiff seeks to subject to his claim property of the defendant in the hands of a third person, or money owed by such third person or garnishee to the defendant.10 The rule is and has always been that all government funds deposited in the PNB or any other official depositary of the Philippine Government by any of its agencies or instrumentalities, whether by general or special deposit, remain government funds and may not be subject to garnishment or levy, in the absence of a corresponding appropriation as required by law:11 Even though the rule as to immunity of a state from suit is relaxed, the power of the courts ends when the judgment is rendered. Although the liability of the state has been judicially ascertained, the state is at liberty to determine for itself whether to pay the judgment or not, and execution cannot issue on a judgment against the state. Such statutes do not authorize a seizure of state property to satisfy judgments recovered, and only convey an implication that the legislature will recognize such judgment as final and make provision for the satisfaction thereof.12 The rule is based on obvious considerations of public policy. The functions and public services rendered by the State cannot be allowed to be paralyzed or disrupted by the diversion of public funds from their legitimate and specific objects, as appropriated by law.13 However, the rule is not absolute and admits of a well-defined exception, that is, when there is a corresponding appropriation as required by law. Otherwise stated, the rule on the immunity of public funds from seizure or garnishment does not apply where the funds sought to be levied under execution are already allocated by law specifically for the satisfaction of the money judgment against the government. In such a case, the monetary judgment may be legally enforced by judicial processes. Thus, in the similar case of Pasay City Government, et al. vs. CFI of Manila, Br. X, et al.,14 where petitioners challenged the trial court’s order garnishing its funds in payment of the contract price for the construction of the City Hall, we ruled that, while government funds deposited in the PNB are exempt from execution or garnishment, this rule does not apply if an ordinance has already been enacted for the payment of the City’s obligations – Upon the issuance of the writ of execution, the petitioner-appellants moved for its quashal alleging among other things the exemption of the government from execution. This move on the part of petitioner-appellants is at first glance laudable for ‘all government funds deposited with the Philippine National Bank by any agency or instrumentality of the government, whether by way of general or special deposit, remain government funds and may not be subject to garnishment or levy.’ But inasmuch as an ordinance has already been enacted expressly appropriating the amount
  • 187. of P613,096.00 as payment to the respondent-appellee, then the herein case is covered by the exception to the general rule x x x x In the instant case, the City Council of Caloocan already approved and passed Ordinance No. 0134, Series of 1992, allocating the amount of P439,377.14 for respondent Santiago’s back salaries plus interest. Thus this case fell squarely within the exception. For all intents and purposes, Ordinance No. 0134, Series of 1992, was the "corresponding appropriation as required by law." The sum indicated in the ordinance for Santiago were deemed automatically segregated from the other budgetary allocations of the City of Caloocan and earmarked solely for the City’s monetary obligation to her. The judgment of the trial court could then be validly enforced against such funds. Indeed, this conclusion is further buttressed by the Certification issued on December 23, 1992 by Norberto C. Azarcon, City Treasurer of Caloocan: CERTIFICATION This is to certify that according to the records available in this Office the claim for backwages of the HON. JUDGE DELFINA H. SANTIAGO has been properly obligated and can be collected in accordance with existing accounting and auditing rules and regulations. This is to certify further that in case the claim is not collected within the present fiscal year, such claim shall be entered in the books of Accounts Payable and can still be collected in the next fiscal year x x x x (Underscoring supplied) Petitioners’ reliance on Municipality of Makati vs. Court of Appeals, et al.,15 and Commissioner of Public Highways vs. San Diego,16 does not help their cause.17 Both cases implicitly affirmed that public funds may be garnished if there is a statute which appropriated the amount so garnished. Thus, in Municipality of Makati, citing San Diego, we unequivocally held that: In this jurisdiction, well-settled is the rule that public funds are not subject to levy and execution, unless otherwise provided by statute x x x x Similarly, we cannot agree with petitioner’s argument that the appropriation ordinance of the City Council did not authorize PNB to release the funds because only the City Mayor could authorize the release thereof. A valid appropriation of public funds lifts its exemption from execution. Here, the appropriation passed by the City Council of Caloocan providing for the payment of backwages to respondent was duly approved and signed by both the council and then Mayor Macario Asistio, Jr. The mayor’s signature approving the budget ordinance was his assent to the appropriation of funds for respondent Santiago’s backwages. If he did not agree with such allocation, he could
  • 188. have vetoed the item pursuant to Section 55 of the Local Government Code.18 There was no such veto. In view of the foregoing discourse, we dismiss petitioners’ unfounded assertion, probably made more out of sheer ignorance of prevailing jurisprudence than a deliberate attempt to mislead us, that the rule that "public funds (are) beyond the reach of levy and garnishment is not qualified by any condition."19 We now come to the issue of the legality of the levy on the three motor vehicles belonging to the City of Caloocan which petitioners claimed to be exempt from execution, and which levy was based on an alias writ that had purportedly expired. Suffice it to say that Judge Allarde, in his Order dated November 10, 1992,20 already lifted the levy on the three vehicles, thereby formally discharging them from the jurisdiction of the court and turning them over to the City Government of Caloocan: x x x x the levy of the three (3) vehicles made by Sheriff Alberto Castillo pursuant to the Orders of this Court dated October 1 and 8, 1992 is hereby lifted and the said Sheriff is hereby ordered to return the same to the City Government in view of the satisfaction of the decision in these cases x x x x It is thus unnecessary for us to discuss a moot issue. We turn to the third issue raised by petitioners that the auction sale by Sheriff Alberto A. Castillo of the motor vehicle with plate no. SBH-165 was tainted with serious irregularities. We need not emphasize that the sheriff enjoys the presumption of regularity in the performance of the functions of his office. This presumption prevails in the absence of substantial evidence to the contrary and cannot be overcome by bare and self-serving allegations. The petitioners failed to convince us that the auction sale conducted by the sheriff indeed suffered from fatal flaws. No evidence was adduced to prove that the sheriff had been remiss in the performance of his duties during the public auction sale. Indeed it would be injudicious for us to assume, as petitioners want us to do, that the sheriff failed to follow the established procedures governing public auctions. On the contrary, a review of the records shows that the sheriff complied with the rules on public auction. The sale of the City’s vehicle was made publicly in front of the Caloocan City Hall on the date fixed in the notice – July 27, 1992. In fact, petitioners in their Motion to Declare in Contempt of Court; to Set Aside the Garnishment and Administrative Complaint admitted as much: On July 27, 1992, by virtue of an alias writ of execution issued by the respondent court, a vehicle owned by the petitioner xxx was levied and sold at public auction for the amount of P100,000.00 and which amount was immediately delivered to the private respondent x x x x21
  • 189. Hence, petitioners cannot now be heard to impugn the validity of the auction sale. Petitioners, in desperation, likewise make much of the proceedings before the trial court on October 8, 1992, wherein petitioner Norma Abracia, Superintendent of the Division of City Schools of Caloocan, was commanded to appear and show cause why she should not be cited in contempt for delaying the execution of judgment. This was in connection with her failure (or refusal) to surrender the three motor vehicles assigned to the Division of City Schools to the custody of the sheriff. Petitioner Abracia, assisted by Mr. Ricardo Nagpacan of the Division of City Schools, appeared during the hearing but requested a ten-day period within which to refer the matter of contempt to a counsel of her choice. The request was denied by Judge Allarde in his assailed order dated October 8, 1992. Thus petitioner Abracia claimed, inter alia, that: (a) she was denied due process; (b) the silence of the order of Judge Allarde on her request for time violated an orderly and faithful recording of the proceedings, and (c) she was coerced into agreeing to surrender the vehicles. We do not think so. What violates due process is the absolute lack of opportunity to be heard. That opportunity, the Court is convinced, was sufficiently accorded to petitioner Abracia. She was notified of the contempt charge against her; she was effectively assisted by counsel when she appeared during the hearing on October 8, 1992; and she was afforded ample opportunity to answer and refute the charge against her. The circumstance that she opted not to avail of her chance to be heard on that occasion by asking for an extension of time within which to hire a counsel of her choice, a request denied by the trial court, did not transgress nor deprive her of her right to due process. Significantly, during the hearing on October 8, 1992, Mr. Nagpacan manifested in open court that, after conferring with petitioner Abracia, the latter was "willing to surrender these vehicles into the custody of the sheriff on the condition that the standing motion (for contempt) be withdrawn."22 Her decision was made freely and voluntarily, and after conferring with her counsel. Moreover, it was petitioner Abracia herself who imposed the condition that respondent Santiago should withdraw her motion for contempt in exchange for her promise to surrender the subject vehicles. Thus, petitioner Abracia’s claim that she was coerced into surrendering the vehicles had no basis. Even assuming ex gratia argumenti that there indeed existed certain legal infirmities in connection with the assailed orders of Judge Allarde, still, considering the totality of circumstances of this case, the nullification of the contested orders would be way out of line. For 21 long years, starting 1972 when this controversy started up to 1993 when her claim was fully paid out of the garnished funds of the City of Caloocan, respondent Santiago was cruelly and unjustly deprived of what was due her. It would be, at the very least, merciless and unchristian to make private respondent refund the City of Caloocan the amount already paid to her, only to force her to go through the same nightmare all over again.
  • 190. At any rate, of paramount importance to us is that justice has been served. No right of the public was violated and public interest was preserved. Finally, we cannot simply pass over in silence the deplorable act of the former Mayor of Caloocan City in refusing to sign the check in payment of the City’s obligation to private respondent. It was an open defiance of judicial processes, smacking of political arrogance, and a direct violation of the very ordinance he himself approved. Our Resolution in G.R. No. 98366, City Government of Caloocan vs. Court of Appeals, et al., dated May 16, 1991, dismissing the petition of the City of Caloocan assailing the issuance of a writ of execution by the trial court, already resolved with finality all impediments to the execution of judgment in this case. Yet, the City Government of Caloocan, in a blatant display of malice and bad faith, refused to comply with the decision. Now, it has the temerity to come to this Court once more and continue inflicting injustice on a hapless citizen, as if all the harm and prejudice it has already heaped upon respondent Santiago are still not enough. This Court will not condone the repudiation of just obligations contracted by municipal corporations. On the contrary, we will extend our aid and every judicial facility to any citizen in the enforcement of just and valid claims against abusive local government units. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for utter lack of merit. The assailed orders of the trial court dated October 1, 1992, October 8, 1992 and May 7, 1993, respectively, are AFFIRMED. Petitioners and their counsels are hereby warned against filing any more pleadings in connection with the issues already resolved with finality herein and in related cases. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED.
  • 191. G.R. No. 102667 February 23, 2000 AMADO J. LANSANG, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BLIND, INC., and JOSE IGLESIAS, respondents. QUISUMBING, J.: Before us is a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 27244, which set aside the ruling of the Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 8, in Civil Case No. 88-43887, and ordered petitioner Amado J. Lansang to pay private respondent Jose Iglesias P50,000.00 in moral damages, P10,000.00 in exemplary damages and P5,000.00 in attorney's fees. Like public streets, public parks are beyond the commerce of man. However, private respondents were allegedly awarded a "verbal contract of lease" in 1970 by the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), a government initiated civic body engaged in the development of national parks, including Rizal Park,1 but actually administered by high profile civic leaders and journalists. Whoever in NPDC gave such "verbal" accommodation to private respondents was unclear, for indeed no document or instrument appears on record to show the grantor of the verbal license to private respondents to occupy a portion of the government park dedicated to the national hero's memory. Private respondents were allegedly given office and library space as well as kiosks area selling food and drinks. One such kiosk was located along T.M. Kalaw St., in front of the Army and Navy Club. Private respondent General Assembly of the Blind, Inc. (GABI) was to remit to NPDC, 40 percent of the profits derived from operating the kiosks,2 without again anything shown in the record who received the share of the profits or how they were used or spent. With the change of government after the EDSA Revolution, the new Chairman of the NPDC, herein petitioner, sought to clean up Rizal Park. In a written notice dated February 23, 1988 and received by private respondents on February 29, 1988, petitioner terminated the so-called verbal agreement with GABI and demanded that the latter vacate the premises and the kiosks it ran privately within the public park.3 In another notice dated March 5, 1988, respondents were given until March 8, 1988 to vacate.4 The latter notice was signed by private respondent Iglesias, GABI president, allegedly to indicate his conformity to its contents. However, Iglesias, who is totally blind, claims that he was deceived into signing the notice. He was allegedly told by Ricardo Villanueva, then chief warden of Rizal Park, that he was merely acknowledging receipt of the notice. Although blind, Iglesias as president was knowledgeable enough to run GABI as well as its business.
  • 192. On the day of the supposed eviction, GABI filed an action for damages and injunction in the Regional Trial Court against petitioner, Villanueva, and "all persons acting on their behalf".5 The trial court issued a temporary restraining order on the same day.6 The TRO expired on March 28, 1988. The following day, GABI was finally evicted by NPDC. GABI's action for damages and injunction was subsequently dismissed by the RTC, ruling that the complaint was actually directed against the State which could not be sued without its consent. Moreover, the trial court ruled that GABI could not claim damages under the alleged oral lease agreement since GABI was a mere accommodation concessionaire. As such, it could only recover damages upon proof of the profits it could realize from the conclusion. The trial court noted that no such proof was presented.1âwphi1.nêt On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court. The Court of Appeals ruled that the mere allegation that a government official is being sued in his official capacity is not enough to protect such official from liability for acts done without or in excess of his authority.7 Granting that petitioner had the authority to evict GABI from Rizal Park, "the abusive and capricious manner in which that authority was exercised amounted to a legal wrong for which he must now be held liable for damages"8 according to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals noted that, as the trial court observed, the eviction of GABI came at the heels of two significant incidents. First, after private respondent Iglesias extended monetary support to striking workers of the NPDC, and second, after Iglesias sent the Tanodbayan, a letter on November 26, 1987, denouncing alleged graft and corruption in the NPDC.9 These, according to the Court of Appeals, should not have been taken against GABI, which had been occupying Rizal Park for nearly 20 years. GABI was evicted purportedly for violating its verbal agreement with NPDC.10 However, the Court of Appeals pointed out that NPDC failed to present proof of such violation.11 The Court of Appeals found petitioner liable for damages under Articles 19, 21, and 24 of the Civil Code.12 The Court of Appeals absolved from liability all other persons impleaded in GABI's complaint since it appeared that they were merely acting under the orders of petitioner. The new officers of NPDC, additionally impleaded by GABI, were likewise absolved from liability, absent any showing that they participated in the acts complained of. Petitioner was ordered to pay private respondent Iglesias moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees. Hence, this petition, in which petitioner raises the following issues:
  • 193. I. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' COMPLAINT AGAINST PETITIONER, AS CHAIRMAN OF NPDC, AND HIS CO- DEFENDANTS IN CIVIL CASE NO. 88-43887, IS IN EFFECT A SUIT AGAINST THE STATE WHICH CANNOT BE SUED WITHOUT ITS CONSENT. II. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT PETITIONER'S ACT OF TERMINATING RESPONDENT GABI'S CONCESSION IS VALID AND DONE IN THE LAWFUL PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY.13 Petitioner insists that the complaint filed against him is in reality a complaint against the State, which could not prosper without the latter's consent. He anchors his argument on the fact that NPDC is a government agency, and that when he ordered the eviction of GABI, he was acting in his capacity as chairman of NPDC. Petitioner avers that the mere allegation that he was being sued in his personal capacity did not remove the case from the coverage of the law of public officers and the doctrine of state immunity. Petitioner points out that Iglesias signed the notice of eviction to indicate his conformity thereto. He contends that as evidence of private respondents' bad faith, they sued petitioner instead of complying with their undertaking to vacate their library and kiosk at Rizal Park. Petitioner adds that during the actual eviction, no untoward incident occurred. GABI's properties were properly inventoried and stored. According to petitioner, the Court of Appeals' observation that the eviction was prompted by Iglesias' support for striking NPDC workers and the letter-complaint sent to the Tanodbayan is merely conjectural. Finally, petitioner avers that the move to evict GABI and award the spaces it occupied to another group was an executive policy decision within the discretion of NPDC. GABI's possession of the kiosks as concessionaire was by mere tolerance of NPDC and, thus, such possession may be withdrawn at any time, with or without cause. On the other hand, private respondents aver that petitioner acted beyond the scope of his authority when he showed malice and bad faith in ordering GABI's ejectment from Rizal Park. Quoting from the decision of the Court of Appeals, private respondents argue that petitioner is liable for damages for performing acts "to injure an individual rather than to discharge a public duty."14 While private respondents recognize the authority of petitioner to terminate the agreement with GABI "if [the contract] is prejudicial to the interest of the NPDC,"15 they maintain that petitioner's personal interest, and not that of the NPDC, was the root cause of GABI's ejecment.
  • 194. The doctrine of state immunity from suit applies to complaints filed against public officials for acts done in the performance of their duties. The rule is that the suit must be regarded as one against the state where satisfaction of the judgment against the public official concerned will require the state itself to perform a positive act, such as appropriation of the amount necessary to pay the damages awarded to the plaintiff.16 The rule does not apply where the public official is charged in his official capacity for acts that are unlawful and injurious to the rights of others.17 Public officials are not exempt, in their personal capacity, from liability arising from acts committed in bad faith.18 Neither does it apply where the public official is clearly being sued not in his official capacity but in his personal capacity, although the acts complained of may have been committed while he occupied a public position. We are convinced that petitioner is being sued not in his capacity as NPDC chairman but in his personal capacity. The complaint filed by private respondents in the RTC merely identified petitioner as chairman of the NPDC, but did not categorically state that he is being sued in that capacity.19 Also, it is evident from paragraph 4 of said complaint that petitioner was sued allegedly for having personal motives in ordering the ejectment of GABI from Rizal Park. 4. Defendant AMADO J. LANSANG, JR., the Chairman of the National Parks Development Committee, acting under the spirit of revenge, ill-will, evil motive and personal resentment against plaintiff JOSE IGLESIAS, served on the plaintiff corporation a letter, dated February 23, 1988 terminating plaintiffs lease agreement with a demand for the plaintiff corporation to vacate its office premises. . .20 (Emphasis supplied.) The parties do not dispute that it was petitioner who ordered the ejectment of GABI from their office and kiosk at Rizal Park. There is also no dispute that petitioner, as chairman of the NPDC which was the agency tasked to administer Rizal Park, had the authority to terminate the agreement with GABI21 and order the organization's ejectment. The question now is whether or not petitioner abused his authority in ordering the ejectment of private respondents. We find, however, no evidence of such abuse of authority on record. As earlier stated, Rizal Park is beyond the commerce of man and, thus, could not be the subject of a lease contract. Admittedly, there was no written contract. That private respondents were allowed to occupy office and kiosk spaces in the park was only a matter of accommodation by the previous administrator. This being so, also admittedly, petitioner may validly discontinue the accommodation extended to private respondents, who may be ejected from the park when necessary. Private respondents cannot and does not claim a vested right to continue to occupy Rizal Park.
  • 195. The Court of Appeals awarded private respondent Iglesias moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees. However, we find no evidence on record to support Iglesias' claim that he suffered moral injury as a result of GABI's ejectment from Rizal Park. Absent any satisfactory proof upon which the Court may base the amount of damages suffered, the award of moral damages cannot be sustained.22 Neither can we sustain the award of exemplary damages, which may only be awarded in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated, or compensatory damages.23 We also disallow the award for attorney's fees, which can only be recovered per stipulation of the parties, which is absent in this case. There is no showing that any of the exceptions justifying the award of attorney's fees absent a stipulation is present in this case.24 WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 27244 is hereby SET ASIDE, and the DISMISSAL of the complaint for damages by the trial court for want of merit is AFFIRMED. No costs. SO ORDERED.1âwphi1.nêt
  • 196. THE MUNICIPALITY OF HAGONOY, BULACAN, represented by the HON. FELIX V. OPLE, Municipal Mayor, and FELIX V. OPLE, in his personal capacity, Petitioners, - versus - HON. SIMEON P. DUMDUM, JR., in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of the REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 7, CEBU CITY; HON. CLERK OF COURT & EX- OFFICIO SHERIFF of the REGIONAL TRIAL COURT of CEBU CITY; HON. CLERK OF COURT & EX-OFFICIO SHERIFF of the REGIONAL TRIAL COURT of BULACAN and his DEPUTIES; and EMILY ROSE GO KO LIM CHAO, doing business under the name and style KD SURPLUS, Respondents. G.R. No. 168289 Present: CORONA, J., Chairperson, VELASCO, JR., NACHURA, PERALTA, and MENDOZA, JJ. Promulgated: March 22, 2010 x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x D E C I S I O N PERALTA, J.: This is a Joint Petition[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court brought by the Municipality of Hagonoy, Bulacan and its former chief executive, Mayor Felix V. Ople in his official and personal capacity, from the January 31, 2005 Decision[2] and the May 23, 2005 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals in CA- G.R. SP No. 81888. The assailed decision affirmed the October 20, 2003 Order[4] issued by the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 7 in Civil Case No. CEB-28587 denying petitioners’ motion to dismiss and motion to discharge/dissolve the writ of preliminary attachment previously issued in the case. The assailed resolution denied reconsideration.
  • 197. The case stems from a Complaint[5] filed by herein private respondent Emily Rose Go Ko Lim Chao against herein petitioners, the Municipality of Hagonoy, Bulacan and its chief executive, Felix V. Ople (Ople) for collection of a sum of money and damages. It was alleged that sometime in the middle of the year 2000, respondent, doing business as KD Surplus and as such engaged in buying and selling surplus trucks, heavy equipment, machinery, spare parts and related supplies, was contacted by petitioner Ople. Respondent had entered into an agreement with petitioner municipality through Ople for the delivery of motor vehicles, which supposedly were needed to carry out certain developmental undertakings in the municipality. Respondent claimed that because of Ople’s earnest representation that funds had already been allocated for the project, she agreed to deliver from her principal place of business in Cebu City twenty-one motor vehicles whose value totaled P5,820,000.00. To prove this, she attached to the complaint copies of the bills of lading showing that the items were consigned, delivered to and received by petitioner municipality on different dates.[6] However, despite having made several deliveries, Ople allegedly did not heed respondent’s claim for payment. As of the filing of the complaint, the total obligation of petitioner had already totaled P10,026,060.13 exclusive of penalties and damages. Thus, respondent prayed for full payment of the said amount, with interest at not less than 2% per month, plus P500,000.00 as damages for business losses, P500,000.00 as exemplary damages, attorney’s fees of P100,000.00 and the costs of the suit. On February 13, 2003, the trial court issued an Order[7] granting respondent’s prayer for a writ of preliminary attachment conditioned upon the posting of a bond equivalent to the amount of the claim. On March 20, 2003, the trial court issued the Writ of Preliminary Attachment[8] directing the sheriff “to attach the estate, real and personal properties” of petitioners. Instead of addressing private respondent’s allegations, petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss[9] on the ground that the claim on which the action had been brought was unenforceable under the statute of frauds, pointing out that there was no written contract or document that would evince the supposed agreement they entered into with respondent. They averred that contracts of this nature, before being undertaken by the municipality, would ordinarily be subject to several preconditions such as a public bidding and prior approval of the municipal council which, in this case, did not obtain. From this, petitioners impress upon us the notion that no contract was ever entered into by the local government with respondent.[10] To address the claim that respondent had made the deliveries under the agreement, they advanced that the bills of lading attached to the complaint were hardly probative, inasmuch as these documents had been accomplished and handled exclusively by respondent herself as well as by her employees and agents.[11]
  • 198. Petitioners also filed a Motion to Dissolve and/or Discharge the Writ of Preliminary Attachment Already Issued,[12] invoking immunity of the state from suit, unenforceability of the contract, and failure to substantiate the allegation of fraud.[13] On October 20, 2003, the trial court issued an Order[14] denying the two motions. Petitioners moved for reconsideration, but they were denied in an Order[15] dated December 29, 2003. Believing that the trial court had committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the two orders, petitioners elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. In it, they faulted the trial court for not dismissing the complaint despite the fact that the alleged contract was unenforceable under the statute of frauds, as well as for ordering the filing of an answer and in effect allowing private respondent to prove that she did make several deliveries of the subject motor vehicles. Additionally, it was likewise asserted that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in not discharging/dissolving the writ of preliminary attachment, as prayed for in the motion, and in effect disregarding the rule that the local government is immune from suit. On January 31, 2005, following assessment of the parties’ arguments, the Court of Appeals, finding no merit in the petition, upheld private respondent’s claim and affirmed the trial court’s order.[16] Petitioners moved for reconsideration, but the same was likewise denied for lack of merit and for being a mere scrap of paper for having been filed by an unauthorized counsel.[17] Hence, this petition. In their present recourse, which raises no matter different from those passed upon by the Court of Appeals, petitioners ascribe error to the Court of Appeals for dismissing their challenge against the trial court’s October 20 and December 29, 2003 Orders. Again, they reason that the complaint should have been dismissed at the first instance based on unenforceability and that the motion to dissolve/discharge the preliminary attachment should have been granted.[18] Commenting on the petition, private respondent notes that with respect to the Court of Appeals’ denial of the certiorari petition, the same was rightly done, as the fact of delivery may be properly and adequately addressed at the trial of the case on the merits; and that the dissolution of the writ of preliminary attachment was not proper under the premises inasmuch as the application for the writ sufficiently alleged fraud on the part of petitioners. In the same breath, respondent laments that the denial of petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was rightly done by the Court of Appeals, because it raised no new matter that had not yet been addressed.[19] After the filing of the parties’ respective memoranda, the case was deemed submitted for decision.
  • 199. We now rule on the petition. To begin with, the Statute of Frauds found in paragraph (2), Article 1403 of the Civil Code,[20] requires for enforceability certain contracts enumerated therein to be evidenced by some note or memorandum. The term “Statute of Frauds” is descriptive of statutes that require certain classes of contracts to be in writing; and that do not deprive the parties of the right to contract with respect to the matters therein involved, but merely regulate the formalities of the contract necessary to render it enforceable.[21] In other words, the Statute of Frauds only lays down the method by which the enumerated contracts may be proved. But it does not declare them invalid because they are not reduced to writing inasmuch as, by law, contracts are obligatory in whatever form they may have been entered into, provided all the essential requisites for their validity are present.[22] The object is to prevent fraud and perjury in the enforcement of obligations depending, for evidence thereof, on the unassisted memory of witnesses by requiring certain enumerated contracts and transactions to be evidenced by a writing signed by the party to be charged.[23] The effect of noncompliance with this requirement is simply that no action can be enforced under the given contracts.[24] If an action is nevertheless filed in court, it shall warrant a dismissal under Section 1(i),[25] Rule 16 of the Rules of Court,unless there has been, among others, total or partial performance of the obligation on the part of either party.[26] It has been private respondent’s consistent stand, since the inception of the instant case that she has entered into a contract with petitioners. As far as she is concerned, she has already performed her part of the obligation under the agreement by undertaking the delivery of the 21 motor vehicles contracted for by Ople in the name of petitioner municipality. This claim is well substantiated — at least for the initial purpose of setting out a valid cause of action against petitioners — by copies of the bills of lading attached to the complaint, naming petitioner municipality as consignee of the shipment. Petitioners have not at any time expressly denied this allegation and, hence, the same is binding on the trial court for the purpose of ruling on the motion to dismiss. In other words, since there exists an indication by way of allegation that there has been performance of the obligation on the part of respondent, the case is excluded from the coverage of the rule on dismissals based on unenforceability under the statute of frauds, and either party may then enforce its claims against the other. No other principle in remedial law is more settled than that when a motion to dismiss is filed, the material allegations of the complaint are deemed to be hypothetically admitted.[27] This hypothetical admission, according to Viewmaster Construction Corporation v. Roxas[28] and Navoa v. Court of
  • 200. Appeals,[29] extends not only to the relevant and material facts well pleaded in the complaint, but also to inferences that may be fairly deduced from them. Thus, where it appears that the allegations in the complaint furnish sufficient basis on which the complaint can be maintained, the same should not be dismissed regardless of the defenses that may be raised by the defendants.[30] Stated differently, where the motion to dismiss is predicated on grounds that are not indubitable, the better policy is to deny the motion without prejudice to taking such measures as may be proper to assure that the ends of justice may be served.[31] It is interesting to note at this point that in their bid to have the case dismissed, petitioners theorize that there could not have been a contract by which the municipality agreed to be bound, because it was not shown that there had been compliance with the required bidding or that the municipal council had approved the contract. The argument is flawed. By invoking unenforceability under the Statute of Frauds, petitioners are in effect acknowledging the existence of a contract between them and private respondent — only, the said contract cannot be enforced by action for being non-compliant with the legal requisite that it be reduced into writing. Suffice it to say that while this assertion might be a viable defense against respondent’s claim, it is principally a matter of evidence that may be properly ventilated at the trial of the case on the merits. Verily, no grave abuse of discretion has been committed by the trial court in denying petitioners’ motion to dismiss this case. The Court of Appeals is thus correct in affirming the same. We now address the question of whether there is a valid reason to deny petitioners’ motion to discharge the writ of preliminary attachment. Petitioners, advocating a negative stance on this issue, posit that as a municipal corporation, the Municipality of Hagonoy is immune from suit, and that its properties are by law exempt from execution and garnishment. Hence, they submit that not only was there an error committed by the trial court in denying their motion to dissolve the writ of preliminary attachment; they also advance that it should not have been issued in the first place. Nevertheless, they believe that respondent has not been able to substantiate her allegations of fraud necessary for the issuance of the writ.[32] Private respondent, for her part, counters that, contrary to petitioners’ claim, she has amply discussed the basis for the issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment in her affidavit; and that petitioners’ claim of immunity from suit is negated by Section 22 of the Local Government Code, which vests municipal corporations with the power to sue and be sued. Further, she contends that the arguments offered by petitioners against the writ of preliminary attachment clearly touch on matters that
  • 201. when ruled upon in the hearing for the motion to discharge, would amount to a trial of the case on the merits.[33] The general rule spelled out in Section 3, Article XVI of the Constitution is that the state and its political subdivisions may not be sued without their consent. Otherwise put, they are open to suit but only when they consent to it. Consent is implied when the government enters into a business contract, as it then descends to the level of the other contracting party; or it may be embodied in a general or special law[34] such as that found in Book I, Title I, Chapter 2, Section 22 of the Local Government Code of 1991, which vests local government units with certain corporate powers —one of them is the power to sue and be sued. Be that as it may, a difference lies between suability and liability. As held in City of Caloocan v. Allarde,[35] where the suability of the state is conceded and by which liability is ascertained judicially, the state is at liberty to determine for itself whether to satisfy the judgment or not. Execution may not issue upon such judgment, because statutes waiving non-suability do not authorize the seizure of property to satisfy judgments recovered from the action. These statutes only convey an implication that the legislature will recognize such judgment as final and make provisions for its full satisfaction. Thus, where consent to be sued is given by general or special law, the implication thereof is limited only to the resultant verdict on the action before execution of the judgment.[36] Traders Royal Bank v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[37] citing Commissioner of Public Highways v. San Diego,[38] is instructive on this point. In that case which involved a suit on a contract entered into by an entity supervised by the Office of the President, the Court held that while the said entity opened itself to suit by entering into the subject contract with a private entity; still, the trial court was in error in ordering the garnishment of its funds, which were public in nature and, hence, beyond the reach of garnishment and attachment proceedings. Accordingly, the Court ordered that the writ of preliminary attachment issued in that case be lifted, and that the parties be allowed to prove their respective claims at the trial on the merits. There, the Court highlighted the reason for the rule, to wit: The universal rule that where the State gives its consent to be sued by private parties either by general or special law, it may limit claimant’s action “only up to the completion of proceedings anterior to the stage of execution” and that the power of the Courts ends when the judgment is rendered, since government funds and properties may not be seized under writs of execution or garnishment to satisfy such judgments, is based on obvious considerations of public policy. Disbursements of public funds must be covered by the corresponding appropriations as required by law. The functions and public services rendered by the State cannot be allowed to be
  • 202. paralyzed or disrupted by the diversion of public funds from their legitimate and specific objects. x x x[39] With this in mind, the Court holds that the writ of preliminary attachment must be dissolved and, indeed, it must not have been issued in the very first place. While there is merit in private respondent’s position that she, by affidavit, was able to substantiate the allegation of fraud in the same way that the fraud attributable to petitioners was sufficiently alleged in the complaint and, hence, the issuance of the writ would have been justified. Still, the writ of attachment in this case would only prove to be useless and unnecessary under the premises, since the property of the municipality may not, in the event that respondent’s claim is validated, be subjected to writs of execution and garnishment — unless, of course, there has been a corresponding appropriation provided by law.[40] Anent the other issues raised by petitioners relative to the denial of their motion to dissolve the writ of attachment, i.e., unenforceability of the contract and the veracity of private respondent’s allegation of fraud, suffice it to say that these pertain to the merits of the main action. Hence, these issues are not to be taken up in resolving the motion to discharge, lest we run the risk of deciding or prejudging the main case and force a trial on the merits at this stage of the proceedings.[41] There is one final concern raised by petitioners relative to the denial of their motion for reconsideration. They complain that it was an error for the Court of Appeals to have denied the motion on the ground that the same was filed by an unauthorized counsel and, hence, must be treated as a mere scrap of paper.[42] It can be derived from the records that petitioner Ople, in his personal capacity, filed his Rule 65 petition with the Court of Appeals through the representation of the law firm Chan Robles & Associates. Later on, municipal legal officer Joselito Reyes, counsel for petitioner Ople, in his official capacity and for petitioner municipality, filed with the Court of Appeals a Manifestation with Entry of Appearance[43] to the effect that he, as counsel, was “adopting all the pleadings filed for and in behalf of [Ople’s personal representation] relative to this case.”[44] It appears, however, that after the issuance of the Court of Appeals’ decision, only Ople’s personal representation signed the motion for reconsideration. There is no showing that the municipal legal officer made the same manifestation, as he previously did upon the filing of the petition.[45] From this, the Court of Appeals concluded that it was as if petitioner municipality and petitioner Ople, in his official capacity, had never moved for reconsideration of the assailed decision, and adverts to the ruling in Ramos v. Court of Appeals[46] and Municipality of Pililla, Rizal v. Court of Appeals[47] that only under
  • 203. well-defined exceptions may a private counsel be engaged in lawsuits involving a municipality, none of which exceptions obtains in this case.[48] The Court of Appeals is mistaken. As can be seen from the manner in which the Manifestation with Entry of Appearance is worded, it is clear that petitioner municipality’s legal officer was intent on adopting, for both the municipality and Mayor Ople, not only the certiorari petition filed with the Court of Appeals, but also all other pleadings that may be filed thereafter by Ople’s personal representation, including the motion for reconsideration subject of this case. In any event, however, the said motion for reconsideration would warrant a denial, because there seems to be no matter raised therein that has not yet been previously addressed in the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals as well as in the proceedings below, and that would have otherwise warranted a different treatment of the issues involved. WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED IN PART. The January 31, 2005 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 81888 is AFFIRMED insofar as it affirmed the October 20, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 7 denying petitioners’ motion to dismiss in Civil Case No. CEB- 28587. The assailed decision is REVERSED insofar as it affirmed the said trial court’s denial of petitioners’ motion to discharge the writ of preliminary attachment issued in that case. Accordingly, the August 4, 2003 Writ of Preliminary Attachment issued in Civil Case No. CEB-28587 is ordered lifted. SO ORDERED.
  • 204. [G.R. No. 154705. June 26, 2003] THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA, HIS EXCELLENCY AMBASSADOR SOERATMIN, and MINISTER COUNSELLOR AZHARI KASIM, petitioners, vs. JAMES VINZON, doing business under the name and style of VINZON TRADE AND SERVICES,respondent. D E C I S I O N AZCUNA, J: This is a petition for review on certiorari to set aside the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 30, 2002 and its Resolution dated August 16, 2002, in CA-G.R. SP No. 66894 entitled “The Republic of Indonesia, His Excellency Ambassador Soeratmin and Minister Counselor Azhari Kasim v. Hon. Cesar Santamaria, Presiding Judge, RTC Branch 145, Makati City, and James Vinzon, doing business under the name and style of Vinzon Trade and Services.” Petitioner, Republic of Indonesia, represented by its Counsellor, Siti Partinah, entered into a Maintenance Agreement in August 1995 with respondent James Vinzon, sole proprietor of Vinzon Trade and Services. The Maintenance Agreement stated that respondent shall, for a consideration, maintain specified equipment at the Embassy Main Building, Embassy Annex Building and the Wisma Duta, the official residence of petitioner Ambassador Soeratmin. The equipment covered by the Maintenance Agreement are air conditioning units, generator sets, electrical facilities, water heaters, and water motor pumps. It is likewise stated therein that the agreement shall be effective for a period of four years and will renew itself automatically unless cancelled by either party by giving thirty days prior written notice from the date of expiry.[1] Petitioners claim that sometime prior to the date of expiration of the said agreement, or before August 1999, they informed respondent that the renewal of the agreement shall be at the discretion of the incoming Chief of Administration, Minister Counsellor Azhari Kasim, who was expected to arrive in February 2000. When Minister Counsellor Kasim assumed the position of Chief of Administration in March 2000, he allegedly found respondent’s work and services unsatisfactory and not in compliance with the standards set in the Maintenance Agreement. Hence, the Indonesian Embassy terminated the agreement in a letter dated August 31, 2000.[2] Petitioners claim, moreover, that they had earlier verbally informed respondent of their decision to terminate the agreement. On the other hand, respondent claims that the aforesaid termination was arbitrary and unlawful. Respondent cites various circumstances which purportedly negated petitioners’ alleged dissatisfaction over respondent’s services: (a) in July 2000, Minister Counsellor Kasim still requested respondent to assign to the embassy an additional full-time worker to assist one of his other workers; (b)
  • 205. in August 2000, Minister Counsellor Kasim asked respondent to donate a prize, which the latter did, on the occasion of the Indonesian Independence Day golf tournament; and (c) in a letter dated August 22, 2000, petitioner Ambassador Soeratmin thanked respondent for sponsoring a prize and expressed his hope that the cordial relations happily existing between them will continue to prosper and be strengthened in the coming years. Hence, on December 15, 2000, respondent filed a complaint[3] against petitioners docketed as Civil Case No. 18203 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Branch 145. On February 20, 2001, petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss, alleging that the Republic of Indonesia, as a foreign sovereign State, has sovereign immunity from suit and cannot be sued as a party-defendant in the Philippines. The said motion further alleged that Ambassador Soeratmin and Minister Counsellor Kasim are diplomatic agents as defined under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and therefore enjoy diplomatic immunity.[4] In turn, respondent filed on March 20, 2001, an Opposition to the said motion alleging that the Republic of Indonesia has expressly waived its immunity from suit. He based this claim upon the following provision in the Maintenance Agreement: “Any legal action arising out of this Maintenance Agreement shall be settled according to the laws of the Philippines and by the proper court of Makati City, Philippines.” Respondent’s Opposition likewise alleged that Ambassador Soeratmin and Minister Counsellor Kasim can be sued and held liable in their private capacities for tortious acts done with malice and bad faith.[5] On May 17, 2001, the trial court denied herein petitioners’ Motion to Dismiss. It likewise denied the Motion for Reconsideration subsequently filed. The trial court’s denial of the Motion to Dismiss was brought up to the Court of Appeals by herein petitioners in a petition for certiorari and prohibition. Said petition, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66894, alleged that the trial court gravely abused its discretion in ruling that the Republic of Indonesia gave its consent to be sued and voluntarily submitted itself to the laws and jurisdiction of Philippine courts and that petitioners Ambassador Soeratmin and Minister Counsellor Kasim waived their immunity from suit. On May 30, 2002, the Court of Appeals rendered its assailed decision denying the petition for lack of merit.[6] On August 16, 2002, it denied herein petitioners’ motion for reconsideration.[7] Hence, this petition. In the case at bar, petitioners raise the sole issue of whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the trial court’s decision that petitioners have waived their immunity from suit by using as its basis the abovementioned provision in the Maintenance Agreement. The petition is impressed with merit.
  • 206. International law is founded largely upon the principles of reciprocity, comity, independence, and equality of States which were adopted as part of the law of our land under Article II, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution.[8] The rule that a State may not be sued without its consent is a necessary consequence of the principles of independence and equality of States.[9] As enunciated in Sanders v. Veridiano II,[10] the practical justification for the doctrine of sovereign immunity is that there can be no legal right against the authority that makes the law on which the right depends. In the case of foreign States, the rule is derived from the principle of the sovereign equality of States, as expressed in the maxim par in parem non habet imperium. All states are sovereign equals and cannot assert jurisdiction over one another.[11] A contrary attitude would “unduly vex the peace of nations.”[12] The rules of International Law, however, are neither unyielding nor impervious to change. The increasing need of sovereign States to enter into purely commercial activities remotely connected with the discharge of their governmental functions brought about a new concept of sovereign immunity. This concept, the restrictive theory, holds that the immunity of the sovereign is recognized only with regard to public acts or acts jure imperii, but not with regard to private acts or actsjure gestionis.[13] In United States v. Ruiz,[14] for instance, we held that the conduct of public bidding for the repair of a wharf at a United States Naval Station is an act jure imperii. On the other hand, we considered as an act jure gestionis the hiring of a cook in the recreation center catering to American servicemen and the general public at the John Hay Air Station in Baguio City,[15] as well as the bidding for the operation of barber shops in Clark Air Base in Angeles City.[16] Apropos the present case, the mere entering into a contract by a foreign State with a private party cannot be construed as the ultimate test of whether or not it is an act jure imperii or jure gestionis. Such act is only the start of the inquiry. Is the foreign State engaged in the regular conduct of a business? If the foreign State is not engaged regularly in a business or commercial activity, and in this case it has not been shown to be so engaged, the particular act or transaction must then be tested by its nature. If the act is in pursuit of a sovereign activity, or an incident thereof, then it is an act jure imperii.[17] Hence, the existence alone of a paragraph in a contract stating that any legal action arising out of the agreement shall be settled according to the laws of the Philippines and by a specified court of the Philippines is not necessarily a waiver of sovereign immunity from suit. The aforesaid provision contains language not necessarily inconsistent with sovereign immunity. On the other hand, such provision may also be meant to apply where the sovereign party elects to sue in the local courts, or otherwise waives its immunity by any subsequent act. The applicability of Philippine laws must be deemed to include Philippine laws in its totality, including the principle recognizing sovereign immunity. Hence, the proper court may have no proper action, by way of settling the case, except to dismiss it. Submission by a foreign state to local jurisdiction must be clear and unequivocal. It must be given explicitly or by necessary implication. We find no such waiver in this case.
  • 207. Respondent concedes that the establishment of a diplomatic mission is a sovereign function. On the other hand, he argues that the actual physical maintenance of the premises of the diplomatic mission, such as the upkeep of its furnishings and equipment, is no longer a sovereign function of the State.[18] We disagree. There is no dispute that the establishment of a diplomatic mission is an act jure imperii. A sovereign State does not merely establish a diplomatic mission and leave it at that; the establishment of a diplomatic mission encompasses its maintenance and upkeep. Hence, the State may enter into contracts with private entities to maintain the premises, furnishings and equipment of the embassy and the living quarters of its agents and officials. It is therefore clear that petitioner Republic of Indonesia was acting in pursuit of a sovereign activity when it entered into a contract with respondent for the upkeep or maintenance of the air conditioning units, generator sets, electrical facilities, water heaters, and water motor pumps of the Indonesian Embassy and the official residence of the Indonesian ambassador. The Solicitor General, in his Comment, submits the view that, “the Maintenance Agreement was entered into by the Republic of Indonesia in the discharge of its governmental functions. In such a case, it cannot be deemed to have waived its immunity from suit.” As to the paragraph in the agreement relied upon by respondent, the Solicitor General states that it “was not a waiver of their immunity from suit but a mere stipulation that in the event they do waive their immunity, Philippine laws shall govern the resolution of any legal action arising out of the agreement and the proper court in Makati City shall be the agreed venue thereof.[19] On the matter of whether or not petitioners Ambassador Soeratmin and Minister Counsellor Kasim may be sued herein in their private capacities, Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides: x x x 1. A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisidiction of the receiving State. He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction, except in the case of: (a) a real action relating to private immovable property situated in the territory of the receiving State, unless he holds it on behalf of the sending State for the purposes of the mission; (b) an action relating to succession in which the diplomatic agent is involved as executor, administrator, heir or legatee as a private person and not on behalf of the sending State; (c) an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in the receiving State outside his official functions. x x x
  • 208. The act of petitioners Ambassador Soeratmin and Minister Counsellor Kasim in terminating the Maintenance Agreement is not covered by the exceptions provided in the abovementioned provision. The Solicitor General believes that said act may fall under subparagraph (c) thereof,[20] but said provision clearly applies only to a situation where the diplomatic agent engages in any professional or commercial activity outside official functions, which is not the case herein. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP No. 66894 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the complaint in Civil Case No. 18203 against petitioners is DISMISSED. No costs. SO ORDERED.
  • 209. G.R. No. 157036 June 9, 2004 FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ Petitioner, vs. HON. ALBERTO G. ROMULO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY; DIRECTOR GENERAL HERMOGENES E. EBDANE, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE CHIEF OF THE PNP, ET. AL., respondents. D E C I S I O N SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: The right of individuals to bear arms is not absolute, but is subject to regulation. The maintenance of peace and order1 and the protection of the people against violence are constitutional duties of the State, and the right to bear arms is to be construed in connection and in harmony with these constitutional duties. Before us is a petition for prohibition and injunction seeking to enjoin the implementation of the "Guidelines in the Implementation of the Ban on the Carrying of Firearms Outside of Residence"2 (Guidelines) issued on January 31, 2003, by respondent Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr., Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP). The facts are undisputed: In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivered a speech before the members of the PNP stressing the need for a nationwide gun ban in all public places to avert the rising crime incidents. She directed the then PNP Chief, respondent Ebdane, to suspend the issuance of Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence (PTCFOR), thus: "THERE IS ALSO NEED TO FOCUS ON THE HIGH PROFILE CRIMES THAT TEND TO DISTURB THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PERIMETERS OF THE COMMUNITY – THE LATEST BEING THE KILLING OF FORMER NPA LEADER ROLLY KINTANAR. I UNDERSTAND WE ALREADY HAVE THE IDENTITY OF THE CULPRIT. LET US BRING THEM TO THE BAR OF JUSTICE. THE NPA WILL FIND IT MORE DIFFICULT TO CARRY OUT THEIR PLOTS IF OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES CAN RID THEMSELVES OF RASCALS IN UNIFORM, AND ALSO IF WE ENFORCE A GUN BAN IN PUBLIC PLACES. THUS, I AM DIRECTING THE PNP CHIEF TO SUSPEND INDEFINITELY THE ISSUANCE OF PERMIT TO CARRY FIREARMS IN PUBLIC PLACES. THE ISSUANCE OF PERMITS WILL NOW BE LIMITED ONLY TO OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION OF GUNS AND NOT TO CARRYING
  • 210. THEM IN PUBLIC PLACES. FROM NOW ON, ONLY THE UNIFORMED MEN IN THE MILITARY AND AUTHORIZED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS CAN CARRY FIREARMS IN PUBLIC PLACES, AND ONLY PURSUANT TO EXISTING LAW. CIVILIAN OWNERS MAY NO LONGER BRING THEIR FIREARMS OUTSIDE THEIR RESIDENCES. THOSE WHO WANT TO USE THEIR GUNS FOR TARGET PRACTICE WILL BE GIVEN SPECIAL AND TEMPORARY PERMITS FROM TIME TO TIME ONLY FOR THAT PURPOSE. AND THEY MAY NOT LOAD THEIR GUNS WITH BULLETS UNTIL THEY ARE IN THE PREMISES OF THE FIRING RANGE. WE CANNOT DISREGARD THE PARAMOUNT NEED FOR LAW AND ORDER. JUST AS WE CANNOT BE HEEDLESS OF OUR PEOPLE’S ASPIRATIONS FOR PEACE." Acting on President Arroyo’s directive, respondent Ebdane issued the assailed Guidelines quoted as follows: "TO : All Concerned FROM : Chief, PNP SUBJECT : Guidelines in the Implementation of the Ban on the Carrying of Firearms Outside of Residence. DATE : January 31, 2003 1. Reference: PD 1866 dated June 29, 1983 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations. 2. General: The possession and carrying of firearms outside of residence is a privilege granted by the State to its citizens for their individual protection against all threats of lawlessness and security. As a rule, persons who are lawful holders of firearms (regular license, special permit, certificate of registration or MR) are prohibited from carrying their firearms outside of residence. However, the Chief, Philippine National Police may, in meritorious cases as determined by him and under conditions as he may impose, authorize such person or persons to carry firearms outside of residence. 3. Purposes: This Memorandum prescribes the guidelines in the implementation of the ban on the carrying of firearms outside of residence as provided for in the Implementing Rules and Regulations, Presidential Decree No. 1866, dated June 29, 1983 and as directed by PGMA. It also prescribes
  • 211. the conditions, requirements and procedures under which exemption from the ban may be granted. 4. Specific Instructions on the Ban on the Carrying of Firearms: a. All PTCFOR are hereby revoked. Authorized holders of licensed firearms covered with valid PTCFOR may re-apply for a new PTCFOR in accordance with the conditions hereinafter prescribed. b. All holders of licensed or government firearms are hereby prohibited from carrying their firearms outside their residence except those covered with mission/letter orders and duty detail orders issued by competent authority pursuant to Section 5, IRR, PD 1866, provided, that the said exception shall pertain only to organic and regular employees. 5. The following persons may be authorized to carry firearms outside of residence. a. All persons whose application for a new PTCFOR has been approved, provided, that the persons and security of those so authorized are under actual threat, or by the nature of their position, occupation and profession are under imminent danger. b. All organic and regular employees with Mission/Letter Orders granted by their respective agencies so authorized pursuant to Section 5, IRR, PD 1866, provided, that such Mission/Letter Orders is valid only for the duration of the official mission which in no case shall be more than ten (10) days. c. All guards covered with Duty Detail Orders granted by their respective security agencies so authorized pursuant to Section 4, IRR, PD 1866, provided, that such DDO shall in no case exceed 24-hour duration. d. Members of duly recognized Gun Clubs issued Permit to Transport (PTT) by the PNP for purposes of practice and competition, provided, that such firearms while in transit must not be loaded with ammunition and secured in an appropriate box or case detached from the person. e. Authorized members of the Diplomatic Corps. 6. Requirements for issuance of new PTCFOR: a. Written request by the applicant addressed to Chief, PNP stating his qualification to possess firearm and the reasons why he needs to carry firearm outside of residence. b. Xerox copy of current firearm license duly authenticated by Records Branch, FED; c. Proof of actual threat, the details of which should be issued by the Chief of Police/Provincial or City Directors and duly validated by C, RIID; d. Copy of Drug Test Clearance, duly authenticated by the Drug Testing Center, if photocopied; e. Copy of DI/ RIID clearance, duly authenticated by ODI/RIID, if photocopied; f. Copy of Neuro-Psychiatric Clearance duly authenticated by NP
  • 212. Testing Center, if photocopied; g. Copy of Certificate of Attendance to a Gun Safety Seminar, duly validated by Chief, Operations Branch, FED; h. NBI Clearance; i. Two (2) ID pictures (2" x 2") taken not earlier than one (1) year from date of filing of application; and j. Proof of Payment 7. Procedures: a. Applications may be filed directly to the Office of the PTCFOR Secretariat in Camp Crame. In the provinces, the applications may also be submitted to the Police Regional Offices (PROs) and Provincial/City Police Offices (P/CPOs) for initial processing before they are forwarded to the office of the PTCFOR Secretariat. The processors, after ascertaining that the documentary requirements are in order, shall issue the Order of Payment (OP) indicating the amount of fees payable by the applicant, who in turn shall pay the fees to the Land Bank. b. Applications, which are duly processed and prepared in accordance with existing rules and regulations, shall be forwarded to the OCPNP for approval. c. Upon approval of the application, OCPNP will issue PTCFOR valid for one (1) year from date of issue. d. Applications for renewal of PTCFOR shall be processed in accordance with the provisions of par. 6 above. e. Application for possession and carrying of firearms by diplomats in the Philippines shall be processed in accordance with NHQ PNP Memo dated September 25, 2000, with Subj: Possession and Carrying of Firearms by Diplomats in the Philippines. 8. Restrictions in the Carrying of Firearms: a. The firearm must not be displayed or exposed to public view, except those authorized in uniform and in the performance of their official duties. b. The firearm shall not be brought inside public drinking and amusement places, and all other commercial or public establishments." Petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, a licensed gun owner to whom a PTCFOR has been issued, requested the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to reconsider the implementation of the assailed Guidelines. However, his request was denied. Thus, he filed the present petition impleading public respondents Ebdane, as Chief of PNP; Alberto G. Romulo, as Executive Secretary; and Gerry L. Barias, as Chief of the PNP-Firearms and Explosives Division. He anchored his petition on the following grounds: "I THE PRESIDENT HAS NO POWER OR AUTHORITY – MUCH LESS BY A MERE SPEECH – TO ALTER, MODIFY OR AMEND THE LAW ON FIREARMS BY IMPOSING A GUN BAN AND CANCELING EXISTING PERMITS FOR GUNS TO BE CARRIED OUTSIDE RESIDENCES. II OFFICIALLY, THERE IS NO PRESIDENTIAL ISSUANCE ON THE GUN BAN; THE PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH NEVER INVOKED POLICE POWER TO JUSTIFY THE GUN BAN; THE PRESIDENT’S VERBAL
  • 213. DECLARATION ON GUN BAN VIOLATED THE PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO PROTECT LIFE AND THEIR PROPERTY RIGHT TO CARRY FIREARMS. III THE PNP CHIEF HAS NO POWER OR AUTHORITY TO ISSUE THE QUESTIONED GUIDELINES BECAUSE: 1) THERE IS NO LAW, STATUTE OR EXECUTIVEORDER WHICH GRANTS THE PNP CHIEF THE AUTHORITY TO PROMULGATETHE PNP GUIDELINES. 2) THE IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS OF PD 1866 CANNOT BE THE SUBJECT OF ANOTHER SET OF IMPLEMENTING GUIDELINES. 3) THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH CANNOT BE A BASIS FOR THE PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTNG GUIDELINES ON THE GUN BAN. IV ASSUMING ARGUENDO, THAT THE PNP GUIDELINES IMPLEMENT PD 1866, AND THE AMENDMENTS THERETO, THE PNP CHIEF STILL HAS NO POWER OR AUTHORITY TO ISSUE THE SAME BECAUSE – 1) PER SEC 6, RA 8294, WHICH AMENDS PD 1866, THE IRR SHALL BE PROMULGATED JOINTLY BY THE DOJ AND THE DILG. 2) SEC. 8, PD 1866 STATES THAT THE IRR SHALL BE PROMULGATED BY THE CHIEF OF THE PHILIPPINE CONSTABULARY. V THE PNP GUIDELINES VIOLATE THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION BECAUSE: 1) THE RIGHT TO OWN AND CARRY A FIREARM IS NECESSARILY INTERTWINED WITH THE PEOPLE’S INHERENT RIGHT TO LIFE AND TO PROTECT LIFE. THUS, THE PNP GUIDELINES DEPRIVE PETITIONER OF THIS RIGHT WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW FOR: A) THE PNP GUIDELINES DEPRIVE PETITIONER OF HIS MOST POTENT, IF NOT HIS ONLY, MEANS TO DEFEND HIMSELF.
  • 214. B) THE QUESTIONED GUIDELINES STRIPPED PETITIONER OF HIS MEANS OF PROTECTION AGAINST CRIME DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE STATE COULD NOT POSSIBLY PROTECT ITS CITIZENS DUE TO THE INADEQUACY AND INEFFICIENCY OF THE POLICE FORCE. 2) THE OWNESHIP AND CARRYING OF FIREARMS ARE CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED PROPERTY RIGHTS WHICH CANNOT BE TAKEN AWAY WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND WITHOUT JUST CAUSE. VI ASSUMING ARGUENDO, THAT THE PNP GUIDELINES WERE ISSUED IN THE EXERCISE OF POLICE POWER, THE SAME IS AN INVALID EXERCISE THEREOF SINCE THE MEANS USED THEREFOR ARE UNREASONABLE AND UNNCESSARY FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF ITS PURPOSE – TO DETER AND PREVENT CRIME –THEREBY BECOMING UNDULY OPPRESSIVE TO LAW-ABIDING GUN-OWNERS. VII THE PNP GUIDELINES ARE UNJUST, OPPRESSIVE AND CONFISCATORY SINCE IT REVOKED ALL EXISTING PERMITS TO CARRY WITHOUT, HOWEVER, REFUNDING THE PAYMENT THE PNP RECEIVED FROM THOSE WHO ALREADY PAID THEREFOR. VIII THE PNP GUIDELINES VIOLATE THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION BECAUSE THEY ARE DIRECTED AT AND OPPRESSIVE ONLY TO LAW-ABIDING GUN OWNERS WHILE LEAVING OTHER GUN-OWNERS – THE LAWBREAKERS (KIDNAPPERS, ROBBERS, HOLD- UPPERS, MNLF, MILF, ABU SAYYAF COLLECTIVELY, AND NPA) – UNTOUCHED. IX THE PNP GUIDELINES ARE UNJUST, OPPRESSIVE AND UNFAIR BECAUSE THEY WERE IMPLEMENTED LONG BEFORE THEY WERE PUBLISHED. X THE PNP GUIDELINES ARE EFFECTIVELY AN EX POST FACTO LAW SINCE THEY APPLY RETROACTIVELY AND PUNISH ALL THOSE WHO WERE ALREADY GRANTED PERMITS TO CARRY OUTSIDE OF RESIDENCE LONG BEFORE THEIR PROMULGATION."
  • 215. Petitioner’s submissions may be synthesized into five (5) major issues: First, whether respondent Ebdane is authorized to issue the assailed Guidelines; Second, whether the citizens’ right to bear arms is a constitutional right?; Third, whether the revocation of petitioner’s PTCFOR pursuant to the assailed Guidelines is a violation of his right to property?; Fourth, whether the issuance of the assailed Guidelines is a valid exercise of police power?; and Fifth, whether the assailed Guidelines constitute an ex post facto law? The Solicitor General seeks the dismissal of the petition pursuant to the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. Nonetheless, in refutation of petitioner’s arguments, he contends that: (1) the PNP Chief is authorized to issue the assailed Guidelines; (2) petitioner does not have a constitutional right to own and carry firearms; (3) the assailed Guidelines do not violate the due process clause of the Constitution; and (4) the assailed Guidelines do not constitute an ex post facto law. Initially, we must resolve the procedural barrier. On the alleged breach of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts, suffice it to say that the doctrine is not an iron-clad dictum. In several instances where this Court was confronted with cases of national interest and of serious implications, it never hesitated to set aside the rule and proceed with the judicial determination of the cases.3 The case at bar is of similar import as it involves the citizens’ right to bear arms. I Authority of the PNP Chief Relying on the principle of separation of powers, petitioner argues that only Congress can withhold his right to bear arms. In revoking all existing PTCFOR, President Arroyo and respondent Ebdane transgressed the settled principle and arrogated upon themselves a power they do not possess – the legislative power. We are not persuaded. It is true that under our constitutional system, the powers of government are distributed among three coordinate and substantially independent departments: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. Each has exclusive cognizance of the matters within its jurisdiction and is supreme within its own sphere.4
  • 216. Pertinently, the power to make laws – the legislative power – is vested in Congress.5 Congress may not escape its duties and responsibilities by delegating that power to any other body or authority. Any attempt to abdicate the power is unconstitutional and void, on the principle that "delegata potestas non potest delegari" – "delegated power may not be delegated."6 The rule which forbids the delegation of legislative power, however, is not absolute and inflexible. It admits of exceptions. An exception sanctioned by immemorial practice permits the legislative body to delegate its licensing power to certain persons, municipal corporations, towns, boards, councils, commissions, commissioners, auditors, bureaus and directors.7 Such licensing power includes the power to promulgate necessary rules and regulations.8 The evolution of our laws on firearms shows that since the early days of our Republic, the legislature’s tendency was always towards the delegation of power. Act No. 1780,9 delegated upon the Governor- General (now the President) the authority (1) to approve or disapprove applications of any person for a license to deal in firearms or to possess the same for personal protection, hunting and other lawful purposes; and (2) to revoke such license any time.10 Further, it authorized him to issue regulations which he may deem necessary for the proper enforcement of the Act.11 With the enactment of Act No. 2711, the "Revised Administrative Code of 1917," the laws on firearms were integrated.12 The Act retained the authority of the Governor General provided in Act No. 1780. Subsequently, the growing complexity in the Office of the Governor-General resulted in the delegation of his authority to the Chief of the Constabulary. On January 21, 1919, Acting Governor-General Charles E. Yeater issued Executive Order No. 813 authorizing and directing the Chief of Constabulary to act on his behalf in approving and disapproving applications for personal, special and hunting licenses. This was followed by Executive Order No. 6114 designating the Philippine Constabulary (PC) as the government custodian of all firearms, ammunitions and explosives. Executive Order No. 215,15 issued by President Diosdado Macapagal on December 3, 1965, granted the Chief of the Constabulary, not only the authority to approve or disapprove applications for personal, special and hunting license, but also the authority to revoke the same. With the foregoing developments, it is accurate to say that the Chief of the Constabulary had exercised the authority for a long time. In fact, subsequent issuances such as Sections 2 and 3 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Presidential Decree No. 186616 perpetuate such authority of the Chief of the Constabulary. Section 2 specifically provides that any person or entity desiring to possess any firearm "shall first secure the necessary permit/license/authority from the Chief of the Constabulary." With regard to the issuance of PTCFOR, Section 3 imparts: "The Chief of Constabulary may, in meritorious cases as determined by him and under such conditions as he may impose, authorize lawful holders of firearms to carry them outside of residence." These provisions are issued pursuant to the general power granted by P.D. No. 1866 empowering him to promulgate rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the decree.17 At this juncture, it bears emphasis that P.D. No. 1866 is the chief law governing possession of firearms in the Philippines and that it was issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos in the
  • 217. exercise of his legislative power.18 In an attempt to evade the application of the above-mentioned laws and regulations, petitioner argues that the "Chief of the PNP" is not the same as the "Chief of the Constabulary," the PC being a mere unit or component of the newly established PNP. He contends further that Republic Act No. 829419 amended P.D. No. 1866 such that the authority to issue rules and regulations regarding firearms is now jointly vested in the Department of Justice and the DILG, not the Chief of the Constabulary.20 Petitioner’s submission is bereft of merit. By virtue of Republic Act No. 6975,21 the Philippine National Police (PNP) absorbed the Philippine Constabulary (PC). Consequently, the PNP Chief succeeded the Chief of the Constabulary and, therefore, assumed the latter’s licensing authority. Section 24 thereof specifies, as one of PNP’s powers, the issuance of licenses for the possession of firearms and explosives in accordance with law.22 This is in conjunction with the PNP Chief’s "power to issue detailed implementing policies and instructions" on such "matters as may be necessary to effectively carry out the functions, powers and duties" of the PNP.23 Contrary to petitioner’s contention, R.A. No. 8294 does not divest the Chief of the Constabulary (now the PNP Chief) of his authority to promulgate rules and regulations for the effective implementation of P.D. No. 1866. For one, R.A. No. 8294 did not repeal entirely P.D. No. 1866. It merely provides for the reduction of penalties for illegal possession of firearms. Thus, the provision of P.D. No. 1866 granting to the Chief of the Constabulary the authority to issue rules and regulations regarding firearms remains effective. Correspondingly, the Implementing Rules and Regulations dated September 15, 1997 jointly issued by the Department of Justice and the DILG pursuant to Section 6 of R.A. No. 8294 deal only with the automatic review, by the Director of the Bureau of Corrections or the Warden of a provincial or city jail, of the records of convicts for violations of P.D. No. 1866. The Rules seek to give effect to the beneficent provisions of R.A. No. 8294, thereby ensuring the early release and reintegration of the convicts into the community. Clearly, both P.D. No. 1866 and R.A. No. 6975 authorize the PNP Chief to issue the assailed guidelines. Corollarily, petitioner disputes President Arroyo’s declaration of a nationwide gun ban, arguing that "she has no authority to alter, modify, or amend the law on firearms through a mere speech." First, it must be emphasized that President Arroyo’s speech was just an expression of her policy and a directive to her subordinate. It cannot, therefore, be argued that President Arroyo enacted a law through a mere speech. Second, at the apex of the entire executive officialdom is the President. Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution specifies his power as Chief Executive, thus: "The President shall have control of all the
  • 218. executive departments, bureaus and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed." As Chief Executive, President Arroyo holds the steering wheel that controls the course of her government. She lays down policies in the execution of her plans and programs. Whatever policy she chooses, she has her subordinates to implement them. In short, she has the power of control. Whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to her subordinate, she may act directly or merely direct the performance of a duty.24 Thus, when President Arroyo directed respondent Ebdane to suspend the issuance of PTCFOR, she was just directing a subordinate to perform an assigned duty. Such act is well within the prerogative of her office. II Right to bear arms: Constitutional or Statutory? Petitioner earnestly contends that his right to bear arms is a constitutionally-protected right. This, he mainly anchors on various American authorities. We therefore find it imperative to determine the nature of the right in light of American jurisprudence. The bearing of arms is a tradition deeply rooted in the English and American society. It antedates not only the American Constitution but also the discovery of firearms.25 A provision commonly invoked by the American people to justify their possession of firearms is the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, which reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." An examination of the historical background of the foregoing provision shows that it pertains to the citizens’ "collective right" to take arms in defense of the State, not to the citizens’ "individual right" to own and possess arms. The setting under which the right was contemplated has a profound connection with the keeping and maintenance of a militia or an armed citizenry. That this is how the right was construed is evident in early American cases. The first case involving the interpretation of the Second Amendment that reached the United States Supreme Court is United States vs. Miller.26 Here, the indictment charged the defendants with transporting an unregistered "Stevens shotgun" without the required stamped written order, contrary to the National Firearms Act. The defendants filed a demurrer challenging the facial validity of the indictment on the ground that the National Firearms Act offends the inhibition of the Second Amendment. The District Court sustained the demurrer and quashed the indictment. On appeal, the Supreme Court interpreted the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment as referring to the
  • 219. collective right of those comprising the Militia – a body of citizens enrolled for military discipline. It does not pertain to the individual right of citizen to bear arm. Miller expresses its holding as follows: "In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense. The same doctrine was re-echoed in Cases vs. United States.27 Here, the Circuit Court of Appeals held that theFederal Firearms Act, as applied to appellant, does not conflict with the Second Amendment. It ruled that: "While [appellant’s] weapon may be capable of military use, or while at least familiarity with it might be regarded as of value in training a person to use a comparable weapon of military type and caliber, still there is no evidence that the appellant was or ever had been a member of any military organization or that his use of the weapon under the circumstances disclosed was in preparation for a military career. In fact, the only inference possible is that the appellant at the time charged in the indictment was in possession of, transporting, and using the firearm and ammunition purely and simply on a frolic of his own and without any thought or intention of contributing to the efficiency of the well regulated militia which the Second amendment was designed to foster as necessary to the security of a free state." With the foregoing jurisprudence, it is erroneous to assume that the US Constitution grants upon the American people the right to bear arms. In a more explicit language, the United States vs. Cruikshank28 decreed: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any way dependent upon that instrument." Likewise, in People vs. Persce,29 the Court of Appeals said: "Neither is there any constitutional provision securingthe right to bear arms which prohibits legislation with reference to such weapons as are specifically before us for consideration. The provision in the Constitution of the United States that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed is not designed to control legislation by the state." With more reason, the right to bear arms cannot be classified as fundamental under the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Our Constitution contains no provision similar to the Second Amendment, as we aptly observed in the early case of United States vs. Villareal:30 "The only contention of counsel which would appear to necessitate comment is the claim that the statute penalizing the carrying of concealed weapons and prohibiting the keeping and the use of
  • 220. firearms without a license, is in violation of the provisions of section 5 of the Philippine Bill of Rights. Counsel does not expressly rely upon the prohibition in the United States Constitution against the infringement of the right of the people of the United States to keep and bear arms (U. S. Constitution, amendment 2), which is not included in the Philippine Bill. But it may be well, in passing, to point out that in no event could this constitutional guaranty have any bearing on the case at bar, not only because it has not been expressly extended to the Philippine Islands, but also because it has been uniformly held that both this and similar provisions in State constitutions apply only to arms used in civilized warfare (see cases cited in 40 Cyc., 853, note 18); x x x." Evidently, possession of firearms by the citizens in the Philippines is the exception, not the rule. The right to bear arms is a mere statutory privilege, not a constitutional right. It is a mere statutory creation. What then are the laws that grant such right to the Filipinos? The first real firearm law is Act No. 1780 enacted by the Philippine Commission on October 12, 1907. It was passed to regulate the importation, acquisition, possession, use and transfer of firearms. Section 9 thereof provides: "SECTION 9. Any person desiring to possess one or more firearms for personal protection, or for use in hunting or other lawful purposes only, and ammunition therefor, shall make application for a license to possess such firearm or firearms or ammunition as hereinafter provided. Upon making such application, and before receiving the license, the applicant shall make a cash deposit in the postal savings bank in the sum of one hundred pesos for each firearm for which the license is to be issued, or in lieu thereof he may give a bond in such form as the Governor-General may prescribe, payable to the Government of the Philippine Islands, in the sum of two hundred pesos for each such firearm: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That persons who are actually members of gun clubs, duly formed and organized at the time of the passage of this Act, who at such time have a license to possess firearms, shall not be required to make the deposit or give the bond prescribed by this section, and the bond duly executed by such person in accordance with existing law shall continue to be security for the safekeeping of such arms." The foregoing provision was restated in Section 88731 of Act No. 2711 that integrated the firearm laws. Thereafter, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued P.D. No. 1866. It codified the laws on illegal possession, manufacture, dealing in, acquisition of firearms, ammunitions or explosives and imposed stiffer penalties for their violation. R.A. No. 8294 amended some of the provisions of P.D. No. 1866 by reducing the imposable penalties. Being a mere statutory creation, the right to bear arms cannot be considered an inalienable or absolute right. III
  • 221. Vested Property Right Section 1, Article III of the Constitution provides that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law." Petitioner invokes this provision, asserting that the revocation of his PTCFOR pursuant to the assailed Guidelines deprived him of his "vested property right" without due process of law and in violation of the equal protection of law. Petitioner cannot find solace to the above-quoted Constitutional provision. In evaluating a due process claim, the first and foremost consideration must be whether life, liberty or property interest exists.32 The bulk of jurisprudence is that a license authorizing a person to enjoy a certain privilege is neither a property nor property right. In Tan vs. The Director of Forestry,33 we ruled that "a license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract between the authority granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right." In a more emphatic pronouncement, we held in Oposa vs. Factoran, Jr.34 that: "Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract, property or a property right protected by the due process clause of the Constitution." Petitioner, in arguing that his PTCFOR is a constitutionally protected property right, relied heavily on Bell vs. Burson35 wherein the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "once a license is issued, continued possession may become essential in the pursuit of livelihood. Suspension of issued licenses thus involves state action that adjudicates important interest of the licensees." Petitioner’s reliance on Bell is misplaced. This case involves a driver’s license, not a license to bear arms. The catena of American jurisprudence involving license to bear arms is perfectly in accord with our ruling that a PTCFOR is neither a property nor a property right. In Erdelyi vs. O’Brien,36 the plaintiff who was denied a license to carry a firearm brought suit against the defendant who was the Chief of Police of the City of Manhattan Beach, on the ground that the denial violated her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the laws. The United States Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit ruled that Erdelyi did not have a property interest in obtaining a license to carry a firearm, ratiocinating as follows: "Property interests protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment do not arise whenever a person has only ‘an abstract need or desire for’, or ‘unilateral expectation of a benefit. x x x Rather, they arise from ‘legitimate claims of entitlement… defined by existing rules or understanding that stem from an independent source, such as state law. x x x Concealed weapons are closely regulated by the State of California. x x x Whether the statute creates a property interest in concealed weapons
  • 222. licenses depends ‘largely upon the extent to which the statute contains mandatory language that restricts the discretion of the [issuing authority] to deny licenses to applicants who claim to meet the minimum eligibility requirements. x x x Where state law gives the issuing authority broad discretion to grant or deny license application in a closely regulated field, initial applicants do not have a property right in such licenses protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. See Jacobson, supra, 627 F.2d at 180 (gaming license under Nevada law);" Similar doctrine was announced in Potts vs. City of Philadelphia,37 Conway vs. King,38 Nichols vs. County of Sta. Clara,39 and Gross vs. Norton.40 These cases enunciated that the test whether the statute creates a property right or interest depends largely on the extent of discretion granted to the issuing authority. In our jurisdiction, the PNP Chief is granted broad discretion in the issuance of PTCFOR. This is evident from the tenor of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of P.D. No. 1866 which state that "the Chief of Constabulary may, in meritorious cases as determined by him and under such conditions as he may impose, authorize lawful holders of firearms to carry them outside of residence." Following the American doctrine, it is indeed logical to say that a PTCFOR does not constitute a property right protected under our Constitution. Consequently, a PTCFOR, just like ordinary licenses in other regulated fields, may be revoked any time. It does not confer an absolute right, but only a personal privilege to be exercised under existing restrictions, and such as may thereafter be reasonably imposed.41 A licensee takes his license subject to such conditions as the Legislature sees fit to impose, and one of the statutory conditions of this license is that it might be revoked by the selectmen at their pleasure. Such a license is not a contract, and a revocation of it does not deprive the defendant of any property, immunity, or privilege within the meaning of these words in the Declaration of Rights.42 The US Supreme Court, in Doyle vs. Continental Ins. Co,43 held: "The correlative power to revoke or recall a permission is a necessary consequence of the main power. A mere license by the State is always revocable." The foregoing jurisprudence has been resonating in the Philippines as early as 1908. Thus, in The Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Amechazurra44 we ruled: "x x x no private person is bound to keep arms. Whether he does or not is entirely optional with himself, but if, for his own convenience or pleasure, he desires to possess arms, he must do so upon such terms as the Government sees fit to impose, for the right to keep and bear arms is not secured to him by law. The Government can impose upon him such terms as it pleases. If he is not satisfied with the terms imposed, he should decline to accept them, but, if for the purpose of securing possession of the arms he does agree to such conditions, he must fulfill them." IV
  • 223. Police Power At any rate, assuming that petitioner’s PTCFOR constitutes a property right protected by the Constitution, the same cannot be considered as absolute as to be placed beyond the reach of the State’s police power. All property in the state is held subject to its general regulations, necessary to the common good and general welfare. In a number of cases, we laid down the test to determine the validity of a police measure, thus: (1) The interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require the exercise of the police power; and (2) The means employed are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. Deeper reflection will reveal that the test merely reiterates the essence of the constitutional guarantees of substantive due process, equal protection, and non-impairment of property rights. It is apparent from the assailed Guidelines that the basis for its issuance was the need for peace and order in the society. Owing to the proliferation of crimes, particularly those committed by the New People’s Army (NPA), which tends to disturb the peace of the community, President Arroyo deemed it best to impose a nationwide gun ban. Undeniably, the motivating factor in the issuance of the assailed Guidelines is the interest of the public in general. The only question that can then arise is whether the means employed are appropriate and reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and are not unduly oppressive. In the instant case, the assailed Guidelines do not entirely prohibit possession of firearms. What they proscribe is merely the carrying of firearms outside of residence. However, those who wish to carry their firearms outside of their residences may re-apply for a new PTCFOR. This we believe is a reasonable regulation. If the carrying of firearms is regulated, necessarily, crime incidents will be curtailed. Criminals carry their weapon to hunt for their victims; they do not wait in the comfort of their homes. With the revocation of all PTCFOR, it would be difficult for criminals to roam around with their guns. On the other hand, it would be easier for the PNP to apprehend them. Notably, laws regulating the acquisition or possession of guns have frequently been upheld as reasonable exercise of the police power.45 In State vs. Reams,46 it was held that the legislature may regulate the right to bear arms in a manner conducive to the public peace. With the promotion of public peace as its objective and the revocation of all PTCFOR as the means, we are convinced that the issuance of the
  • 224. assailed Guidelines constitutes a reasonable exercise of police power. The ruling in United States vs. Villareal,47 is relevant, thus: "We think there can be no question as to the reasonableness of a statutory regulation prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons as a police measure well calculated to restrict the too frequent resort to such weapons in moments of anger and excitement. We do not doubt that the strict enforcement of such a regulation would tend to increase the security of life and limb, and to suppress crime and lawlessness, in any community wherein the practice of carrying concealed weapons prevails, and this without being unduly oppressive upon the individual owners of these weapons. It follows that its enactment by the legislature is a proper and legitimate exercise of the police power of the state." V Ex post facto law In Mekin vs. Wolfe,48 an ex post facto law has been defined as one – (a) which makes an action done before the passing of the law and which was innocent when done criminal, and punishes such action; or (b) which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than it was when committed; or (c) which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed; or (d) which alters the legal rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense in order to convict the defendant. We see no reason to devote much discussion on the matter. Ex post facto law prohibits retrospectivity of penal laws.49 The assailed Guidelines cannot be considered as an ex post facto law because it is prospective in its application. Contrary to petitioner’s argument, it would not result in the punishment of acts previously committed. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. SO ORDERED
  • 225. BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES (BFAR) EMPLOYEES UNION, REGIONAL OFFICE NO. VII, CEBU CITY, Petitioner, - versus - COMMISSION ON AUDIT, Respondent. G.R. No. 169815 Present: Puno, C.J., Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura,* Reyes, Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, JJ. Promulgated: August 13, 2008 x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
  • 226. D E C I S I O N PUNO, C.J.: On appeal are the Decision[1] dated April 8, 2005 of respondent Commission on Audit (COA) in LAO-N-2005-119 upholding the disallowance by the COA Legal and Adjudication Office (COA-LAO), Regional Office No. VII, Cebu City of the P10,000.00 Food Basket Allowance granted by BFAR to each of its employees in 1999, and COA Resolution[2] dated August 5, 2005, denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of said Decision. First, the facts: On October 18, 1999, petitioner Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Employees Union, Regional Office No. VII, Cebu Cityissued Resolution No. 01, series of 1999 requesting the BFAR Central Office for a Food Basket Allowance. It justified its request on the high cost of living, i.e., “the increase in prices of petroleum products which catapulted the cost of food commodities, has greatly affected the economic conditions and living standard of the government employees of BFAR Region VII and could hardly sustain its need to cope up with the four (4) basic needs, i.e., food, shelter, clothing and education.”[3] It also relied on the Employees Suggestions and Incentive Awards System (ESIAS), pursuant to Book V of Executive Order No. 292, or the Administrative Code of 1987, and approved by the Civil Service Commission on December 3, 1996. The ESIAS “includes the granting of incentives that will help employees overcome present economic difficulties, boost their morale, and further commitment and dedication to public service.”[4] Regional Director Corazon M. Corrales of BFAR Region VII indorsed the Resolution, and Malcolm I. Sarmiento, Jr., Director of BFAR recommended its approval. Honorable Cesar M. Drilon, Jr., Undersecretary for Fisheries and Livestock of the Department of Agriculture, approved the request for Authority to Grant a Gift Check or the Food Basket Allowance at the rate of P10,000.00 each to the 130 employees of BFAR Region VII, or in the total amount of P1,322,682.00.[5] On the strength of the approval, Regional Director Corrales released the allowance to the BFAR employees. On post audit, the Commission on Audit – Legal and Adjudication Office (COA-LAO) Regional Office No. VII, Cebu City disallowed the grant of Food Basket Allowance under Notice of Disallowance No. 2003-022-101 (1999) dated September 19, 2003. It ruled that the allowance had no legal basis and that it violated: a) Sec. 15(d) of the General Appropriations Act of 1999, prohibiting the payment of honoraria, allowances, or other forms of compensation to any government official or employee, except those specifically authorized by law; b) par. 4.5 of Budget Circular No. 16 dated November 28, 1998, prohibiting the grant of food, rice, gift checks, or any other form of incentives/allowances, except those authorized via Administrative Order by the Office of the President; and c) Sec. 12 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6758, or
  • 227. the Salary Standardization Law of 1989, which includes all allowances in the standardized salary rates, subject to certain exceptions. On February 26, 2004, BFAR Regional Office No. VII, through Regional Director Corrales, moved for reconsideration and prayed for the lifting of the disallowance. It argued that the grant of Food Basket Allowance would enhance the welfare and productivity of the employees. Further, it contended that the approval by the Honorable Drilon, Undersecretary for Fisheries and Livestock, of the said benefit was the law itself which vested the specific authority for its release. The Commission on Audit – Legal and Adjudication Office (COA-LAO) Regional Office No. VII, Cebu Citydenied the motion. Petitioner appealed to the Commission on Audit – Legal and Adjudication Office (COA-LAO) National, Quezon City. The appeal was denied in a Decision dated April 8, 2005. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was likewise denied in a Resolution dated August 5, 2005. Hence, this appeal. Petitioner cites the following grounds for its appeal: 1. The disallowance in question is unconstitutional as it contravenes the fundamental principle of the State enshrined under Sections 9 and 10, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, which provide as follows: SEC. 9. The State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all. SEC. 10. The State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.[6] 2. The Undersecretary for Fisheries and Livestock is an extension of the Secretary of Agriculture who is an alter-ego of the President. His approval was tantamount to the authority from the Office of the President, as contemplated in DBM Budget Circular No. 16, dated November 28, 1998.[7] 3. The grant of the Food Basket Allowance is in conformity with Sec. 12 of the Salary Standardization Law.[8] We deny the petition.
  • 228. First, we rule on the issue of constitutionality. Petitioner invokes the provisions of the 1987 Constitution on social justice to warrant the grant of the Food Basket Allowance. Time and again, we have ruled that the social justice provisions of the Constitution are not self-executing principles ready for enforcement through the courts. They are merely statements of principles and policies. To give them effect, legislative enactment is required. As we held in Kilosbayan, Incorporated v. Morato,[9] the principles and state policies enumerated in Article II and some sections of Article XII are "not self- executing provisions, the disregard of which can give rise to a cause of action in the courts. They do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights but guidelines for legislation."[10] Second, petitioner contends that the approval of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Fisheries and Livestock of the Food Basket Allowance is the law which authorizes its release. It is crystal clear that the DA Undersecretary has no authority to grant any allowance to the employees of BFAR. Section 4.5 of Budget Circular No. 16 dated November 28, 1998 states: All agencies are hereby prohibited from granting any food, rice, gift checks, or any other form of incentives/allowances except those authorized via Administrative Order by the Office of the President. In the instant case, no Administrative Order has been issued by the Office of the President to exempt BFAR from the express prohibition against the grant of any food, rice, gift checks, or any other form of incentive/allowance to its employees. Petitioner argues that the grant of the Food Basket Allowance does not violate Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 6758 or the Salary Standardization Law. This law was passed to standardize salary rates among government personnel and do away with multiple allowances and other incentive packages and the resulting differences in compensation among them.[11] Sec. 12 of the law provides: Consolidation of Allowances and Compensation. — All allowances, except for representation and transportation allowances; clothing and laundry allowances; subsistence allowance of marine officers and crew on board government vessels and hospital personnel; hazard pay; allowances of foreign service personnel stationed abroad; and such other additional compensation not otherwise specified herein as may be determined by the DBM [Department of Budget and Management], shall be deemed included in the standardized salary rates herein prescribed. Such other additional compensation, whether in cash or in kind, being received by incumbents only as of July 1, 1989 not integrated into the standardized salary rates shall continue to be authorized.
  • 229. Existing additional compensation of any national government official or employee paid from local funds of a local government unit shall be absorbed into the basic salary of said official or employee and shall be paid by the National Government. Under Sec. 12, as quoted, all kinds of allowances are integrated in the standardized salary rates. The exceptions are: 1. representation and transportation allowance (RATA); 2. clothing and laundry allowance; 3. subsistence allowance of marine officers and crew on board government vessels; 4. subsistence allowance of hospital personnel; 5. hazard pay; 6. allowances of foreign service personnel stationed abroad; and 7. such other additional compensation not otherwise specified herein as may be determined by the DBM. Petitioner contends that the Food Basket Allowance falls under the 7th category above, that of “other additional compensation not otherwise specified herein as may be determined by the DBM.” The Court has had the occasion to interpret Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 6758. In National Tobacco Administration v. Commission on Audit,[12] we held that under the first sentence of Section 12, the benefits excluded from the standardized salary rates are the "allowances" or those which are usually granted to officials and employees of the government to defray or reimburse the expenses incurred in the performance of their official functions. These are the RATA, clothing and laundry allowance, subsistence allowance of marine officers and crew on board government vessels and hospital personnel, hazard pay, and others, as enumerated in the first sentence of Section 12. We further ruled that the phrase "and such other additional compensation not otherwise specified herein as may be determined by the DBM" is a catch-all proviso for benefits in the nature of allowances similar to those enumerated. In Philippine Ports Authority v. Commission on Audit,[13] we explained that if these allowances were consolidated with the standardized salary rates, then government officials or employees would be compelled to spend their personal funds in attending to their duties. In the instant case, the Food Basket Allowance is definitely not in the nature of an allowance to reimburse expenses incurred by officials and employees of the government in the performance of their
  • 230. official functions. It is not payment in consideration of the fulfillment of official duty. It is a form of financial assistance to all officials and employees of BFAR. Petitioner itself stated that the Food Basket Allowance has the purpose of alleviating the economic condition of BFAR employees. Next, petitioner relies on National Compensation Circular No. 59 dated September 30, 1989, issued by the DBM, which is the “List of Allowances/Additional Compensation of Government Officials and Employees which shall be Deemed Integrated into the Basic Salary.” The list enumerates the following allowances/additional compensation which shall be incorporated in the basic salary, hence, may no longer be granted to government employees: 1. Cost of Living Allowance (COLA); 2. Inflation connected allowance; 3. Living Allowance; 4. Emergency Allowance; 5. Additional Compensation of Public Health Nurses assigned to public health nursing; 6. Additional Compensation of Rural Health Physicians; 7. Additional Compensation of Nurses in Malacañang Clinic; 8. Nurses Allowance in the Air Transportation Office; 9. Assignment Allowance of School Superintendents; 10. Post allowance of Postal Service Office employees; 11. Honoraria/allowances which are regularly given except the following: a. those for teaching overload; b. in lieu of overtime pay; c. for employees on detail with task forces/special projects; d. researchers, experts and specialists who are acknowledged authorities in their field of specialization; e. lecturers and resource persons; f. Municipal Treasurers deputized by the Bureau of Internal Revenue to collect and remit internal revenue collections; and
  • 231. g. Executive positions in State Universities and Colleges filled by designation from among their faculty members. 12. Subsistence Allowance of employees except those authorized under EO [Executive Order] No. 346 and uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces of thePhilippines and Integrated National Police; 13. Laundry Allowance of employees except those hospital/sanitaria personnel who attend directly to patients and who by the nature of their duties are required to wear uniforms, prison guards and uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Integrated National Police; and 14. Incentive allowance/fee/pay except those authorized under the General Appropriations Act and Section 33 of P.D. No. 807. Petitioner invokes the rule of statutory construction that “what is not included is excluded.” Inclusio unius est exclusio alterius. Petitioner claims that the Food Basket Allowance is distinct and separate from the specific allowances/additional compensation listed in the circular. Again, we reject petitioner’s contention. The Food Basket Allowance falls under the 14th category, that of incentive allowance/fee/pay. Petitioner itself justified the Food Basket Allowance as an incentive to the employees to encourage them to be more productive and efficient.[14] Under National Compensation Circular No. 59, exceptions to the incentive allowance/fee/pay category are those authorized under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and Section 33 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 807. Sec. 15(d) of the GAA for Fiscal Year 1999 or R.A. No. 8745 clearly prohibits the payment of honoraria, allowances or other forms of compensation to any government official or employee, except those specifically authorized by law. There is no law authorizing the grant of the subject Food Basket Allowance. Further, Sec. 33 of P.D. No. 807 or theCivil Service Decree of the Philippines does not exempt the Food Basket Allowance from the general rule. Sec. 33 states: Section 33. Employee Suggestions and Incentive Award System. There shall be established a government-wide employee suggestions and incentive awards system which shall be administered under such rules, regulations, and standards as may be promulgated by the Commission. In accordance with rules, regulations, and standards promulgated by the Commission, the President or the head of each department or agency is authorized to incur whatever necessary expenses involved in the honorary recognition of subordinate officers and employees of the
  • 232. government who by their suggestions, inventions, superior accomplishment, and other personal efforts contribute to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement of government operations, or who perform such other extraordinary acts or services in the public interest in connection with, or in relation to, their official employment. We are not convinced that the Food Basket Allowance falls under the incentive award system contemplated above. The decree speaks ofsuggestions, inventions, superior accomplishments, and other personal efforts contributed by an employee to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement of government operations, or other extraordinary acts or services performed by an employee in the public interest in connection with, or in relation to, his official employment. In the instant case, the Food Basket Allowance was granted to all BFAR employees, without distinction. It was not granted due to any extraordinary contribution or exceptional accomplishment by an employee. The Food Basket Allowance was primarily an economic monetary assistance to the employees. Lastly, we note, as the Office of the Solicitor General, on behalf of respondent did, that petitioner failed to exhaust its administrative remedies. It stopped seeking remedies at the level of respondent’s Legal and Adjudication Office. It failed to appeal the latter’s adverse decision to the Commission on Audit proper. The consequence for failure to exhaust administrative remedies is clear: the disallowance, as ruled by the Commission on Audit – Legal and Adjudication Office Regional Office No. VII, Cebu City and upheld by the Commission on Audit – Legal and Adjudication Office National, Quezon City, became final and executory. Sections 48 and 51 of Presidential Decree No. 1445, or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines provide: Section 48. Appeal from decision of auditors. – Any person aggrieved by the decision of an auditor of any government agency in the settlement of an account or claim may, within six months from receipt of a copy of the decision, appeal in writing to the Commission. Section 51. Finality of decisions of the Commission or any auditor. – A decision of the Commission or of any auditor upon any matter within its or his jurisdiction, if not appealed as herein provided, shall be final and executory. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Commission on Audit – Legal and Adjudication Office dated April 8, 2005 and August 5, 2005, respectively, in LAO-N- 2005-119, are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.
  • 233. G.R. No. 161872 April 13, 2004 REV. ELLY CHAVEZ PAMATONG, ESQUIRE, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent. RESOLUTION TINGA, J.: Petitioner Rev. Elly Velez Pamatong filed his Certificate of Candidacy for President on December 17, 2003. Respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) refused to give due course to petitioner’s Certificate of Candidacy in its Resolution No. 6558 dated January 17, 2004. The decision, however, was not unanimous since Commissioners Luzviminda G. Tancangco and Mehol K. Sadain voted to include petitioner as they believed he had parties or movements to back up his candidacy. On January 15, 2004, petitioner moved for reconsideration of Resolution No. 6558. Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration was docketed as SPP (MP) No. 04-001. The COMELEC, acting on petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration and on similar motions filed by other aspirants for national elective positions, denied the same under the aegis of Omnibus Resolution No. 6604 dated February 11, 2004. The COMELEC declared petitioner and thirty-five (35) others nuisance candidates who could not wage a nationwide campaign and/or are not nominated by a political party or are not supported by a registered political party with a national constituency. Commissioner Sadain maintained his vote for petitioner. By then, Commissioner Tancangco had retired. In this Petition For Writ of Certiorari, petitioner seeks to reverse the resolutions which were allegedly rendered in violation of his right to "equal access to opportunities for public service" under Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Constitution,1 by limiting the number of qualified candidates only to those who can afford to wage a nationwide campaign and/or are nominated by political parties. In so doing, petitioner argues that the COMELEC indirectly amended the constitutional provisions on the electoral process and limited the power of the sovereign people to choose their leaders. The COMELEC supposedly erred in disqualifying him since he is the most qualified among all the presidential candidates, i.e., he possesses all the constitutional and legal qualifications for the office of the president, he is capable of waging a national campaign since he has numerous national organizations under his leadership, he also has the capacity to wage an international campaign since he has practiced law in other countries, and he has a platform of government. Petitioner likewise attacks the validity of the form for theCertificate of Candidacy prepared by the COMELEC. Petitioner claims that the form does not provide clear and reasonable guidelines for
  • 234. determining the qualifications of candidates since it does not ask for the candidate’s bio-data and his program of government. First, the constitutional and legal dimensions involved. Implicit in the petitioner’s invocation of the constitutional provision ensuring "equal access to opportunities for public office" is the claim that there is a constitutional right to run for or hold public office and, particularly in his case, to seek the presidency. There is none. What is recognized is merely a privilege subject to limitations imposed by law. Section 26, Article II of the Constitution neither bestows such a right nor elevates the privilege to the level of an enforceable right. There is nothing in the plain language of the provision which suggests such a thrust or justifies an interpretation of the sort. The "equal access" provision is a subsumed part of Article II of the Constitution, entitled "Declaration of Principles and State Policies." The provisions under the Article are generally considered not self- executing,2 and there is no plausible reason for according a different treatment to the "equal access" provision. Like the rest of the policies enumerated in Article II, the provision does not contain any judicially enforceable constitutional right but merely specifies a guideline for legislative or executive action.3 The disregard of the provision does not give rise to any cause of action before the courts.4 An inquiry into the intent of the framers5 produces the same determination that the provision is not self- executory. The original wording of the present Section 26, Article II had read, "The State shall broaden opportunities to public office and prohibit public dynasties."6 Commissioner (now Chief Justice) Hilario Davide, Jr. successfully brought forth an amendment that changed the word "broaden" to the phrase "ensure equal access," and the substitution of the word "office" to "service." He explained his proposal in this wise: I changed the word "broaden" to "ENSURE EQUAL ACCESS TO" because what is important would be equal access to the opportunity. If you broaden, it would necessarily mean that the government would be mandated to create as many offices as are possible to accommodate as many people as are also possible. That is the meaning of broadening opportunities to public service. So, in order that we should not mandate the State to make the government the number one employer and to limit offices only to what may be necessary and expedient yet offering equal opportunities to access to it, I change the word "broaden."7 (emphasis supplied) Obviously, the provision is not intended to compel the State to enact positive measures that would accommodate as many people as possible into public office. The approval of the "Davide amendment" indicates the design of the framers to cast the provision as simply enunciatory of a desired policy objective and not reflective of the imposition of a clear State burden.
  • 235. Moreover, the provision as written leaves much to be desired if it is to be regarded as the source of positive rights. It is difficult to interpret the clause as operative in the absence of legislation since its effective means and reach are not properly defined. Broadly written, the myriad of claims that can be subsumed under this rubric appear to be entirely open-ended.8 Words and phrases such as "equal access," "opportunities," and "public service" are susceptible to countless interpretations owing to their inherent impreciseness. Certainly, it was not the intention of the framers to inflict on the people an operative but amorphous foundation from which innately unenforceable rights may be sourced. As earlier noted, the privilege of equal access to opportunities to public office may be subjected to limitations. Some valid limitations specifically on the privilege to seek elective office are found in the provisions9 of the Omnibus Election Code on "Nuisance Candidates" and COMELEC Resolution No. 645210 dated December 10, 2002 outlining the instances wherein the COMELEC may motu proprio refuse to give due course to or cancel aCertificate of Candidacy. As long as the limitations apply to everybody equally without discrimination, however, the equal access clause is not violated. Equality is not sacrificed as long as the burdens engendered by the limitations are meant to be borne by any one who is minded to file a certificate of candidacy. In the case at bar, there is no showing that any person is exempt from the limitations or the burdens which they create. Significantly, petitioner does not challenge the constitutionality or validity of Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code and COMELEC Resolution No. 6452 dated 10 December 2003. Thus, their presumed validity stands and has to be accorded due weight. Clearly, therefore, petitioner’s reliance on the equal access clause in Section 26, Article II of the Constitution is misplaced. The rationale behind the prohibition against nuisance candidates and the disqualification of candidates who have not evinced a bona fide intention to run for office is easy to divine. The State has a compelling interest to ensure that its electoral exercises are rational, objective, and orderly. Towards this end, the State takes into account the practical considerations in conducting elections. Inevitably, the greater the number of candidates, the greater the opportunities for logistical confusion, not to mention the increased allocation of time and resources in preparation for the election. These practical difficulties should, of course, never exempt the State from the conduct of a mandated electoral exercise. At the same time, remedial actions should be available to alleviate these logistical hardships, whenever necessary and proper. Ultimately, a disorderly election is not merely a textbook example of inefficiency, but a rot that erodes faith in our democratic institutions. As the United States Supreme Court held: [T]here is surely an important state interest in requiring some preliminary showing of a significant modicum of support before printing the name of a political organization and its candidates on the
  • 236. ballot – the interest, if no other, in avoiding confusion, deception and even frustration of the democratic [process].11 The COMELEC itself recognized these practical considerations when it promulgated Resolution No. 6558 on 17 January 2004, adopting the study Memorandum of its Law Department dated 11 January 2004. As observed in the COMELEC’s Comment: There is a need to limit the number of candidates especially in the case of candidates for national positions because the election process becomes a mockery even if those who cannot clearly wage a national campaign are allowed to run. Their names would have to be printed in the Certified List of Candidates, Voters Information Sheet and the Official Ballots. These would entail additional costs to the government. For the official ballots in automated counting and canvassing of votes, an additional page would amount to more or less FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P450,000,000.00). xxx[I]t serves no practical purpose to allow those candidates to continue if they cannot wage a decent campaign enough to project the prospect of winning, no matter how slim.12 The preparation of ballots is but one aspect that would be affected by allowance of "nuisance candidates" to run in the elections. Our election laws provide various entitlements for candidates for public office, such as watchers in every polling place,13 watchers in the board of canvassers,14 or even the receipt of electoral contributions.15 Moreover, there are election rules and regulations the formulations of which are dependent on the number of candidates in a given election. Given these considerations, the ignominious nature of a nuisance candidacy becomes even more galling. The organization of an election with bona fide candidates standing is onerous enough. To add into the mix candidates with no serious intentions or capabilities to run a viable campaign would actually impair the electoral process. This is not to mention the candidacies which are palpably ridiculous so as to constitute a one-note joke. The poll body would be bogged by irrelevant minutiae covering every step of the electoral process, most probably posed at the instance of these nuisance candidates. It would be a senseless sacrifice on the part of the State. Owing to the superior interest in ensuring a credible and orderly election, the State could exclude nuisance candidates and need not indulge in, as the song goes, "their trips to the moon on gossamer wings." The Omnibus Election Code and COMELEC Resolution No. 6452 are cognizant of the compelling State interest to ensure orderly and credible elections by excising impediments thereto, such as nuisance candidacies that distract and detract from the larger purpose. The COMELEC is mandated by the
  • 237. Constitution with the administration of elections16 and endowed with considerable latitude in adopting means and methods that will ensure the promotion of free, orderly and honest elections.17 Moreover, the Constitution guarantees that only bona fide candidates for public office shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.18 The determination of bona fidecandidates is governed by the statutes, and the concept, to our mind is, satisfactorily defined in the Omnibus Election Code. Now, the needed factual premises. However valid the law and the COMELEC issuance involved are, their proper application in the case of the petitioner cannot be tested and reviewed by this Court on the basis of what is now before it. The assailed resolutions of the COMELEC do not direct the Court to the evidence which it considered in determining that petitioner was a nuisance candidate. This precludes the Court from reviewing at this instance whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying petitioner, since such a review would necessarily take into account the matters which the COMELEC considered in arriving at its decisions. Petitioner has submitted to this Court mere photocopies of various documents purportedly evincing his credentials as an eligible candidate for the presidency. Yet this Court, not being a trier of facts, can not properly pass upon the reproductions as evidence at this level. Neither the COMELEC nor the Solicitor General appended any document to their respective Comments. The question of whether a candidate is a nuisance candidate or not is both legal and factual. The basis of the factual determination is not before this Court. Thus, the remand of this case for the reception of further evidence is in order. A word of caution is in order. What is at stake is petitioner’s aspiration and offer to serve in the government. It deserves not a cursory treatment but a hearing which conforms to the requirements of due process. As to petitioner’s attacks on the validity of the form for the certificate of candidacy, suffice it to say that the form strictly complies with Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code. This provision specifically enumerates what a certificate of candidacy should contain, with the required information tending to show that the candidate possesses the minimum qualifications for the position aspired for as established by the Constitution and other election laws. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, COMELEC Case No. SPP (MP) No. 04-001 is hereby remanded to the COMELEC for the reception of further evidence, to determine the question on whether petitioner Elly Velez Lao Pamatong is a nuisance candidate as contemplated in Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code.
  • 238. The COMELEC is directed to hold and complete the reception of evidence and report its findings to this Court with deliberate dispatch. SO ORDERED.
  • 239. G.R. No. 110526 February 10, 1998 ASSOCIATION OF PHILIPPINE COCONUT DESICCATORS, petitioner, vs. PHILIPPINE COCONUT AUTHORITY, respondent. MENDOZA, J.: At issue in this case is the validity of a resolution, dated March 24, 1993, of the Philippine Coconut Authority in which it declares that it will no longer require those wishing to engage in coconut processing to apply to it for a license or permit as a condition for engaging in such business. Petitioner Association of Philippine Coconut Desiccators (hereafter referred to as APCD) brought this suit forcertiorari and mandamus against respondent Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to invalidate the latter's Board Resolution No. 018-93 and the certificates of registration issued under it on the ground that the resolution in question is beyond the power of the PCA to adopt, and to compel said administrative agency to comply instead with the mandatory provisions of statutes regulating the desiccated coconut industry, in particular, and the coconut industry, in general. As disclosed by the parties' pleadings, the facts are as follows: On November 5, 1992, seven desiccated coconut processing companies belonging to the APCD brought suit in the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region in Makati, Metro Manila, to enjoin the PCA from issuing permits to certain applicants for the establishment of new desiccated coconut processing plants. Petitioner alleged that the issuance of licenses to the applicants would violate PCA's Administrative Order No. 02, series of 1991, as the applicants were seeking permits to operate in areas considered "congested" under the administrative order. 1 On November 6, 1992, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order and, on November 25, 1992, a writ of preliminary injunction, enjoining the PCA from processing and issuing licenses to Primex Products, Inc., Coco Manila, Superstar (Candelaria) and Superstar (Davao) upon the posting of a bond in the amount of P100,000.00.2 Subsequently and while the case was pending in the Regional Trial Court, the Governing Board of the PCA issued on March 24, 1993 Resolution No. 018-93, providing for the withdrawal of the Philippine Coconut Authority from all regulation of the coconut product processing industry. While it continues the registration of coconut product processors, the registration would be limited to the "monitoring" of their volumes of production and administration of quality standards. The full text of the resolution reads:
  • 240. RESOLUTION NO. 018-93 POLICY DECLARATION DEREGULATING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW COCONUT PROCESSING PLANTS WHEREAS, it is the policy of the State to promote free enterprise unhampered by protective regulations and unnecessary bureaucratic red tapes; WHEREAS, the deregulation of certain sectors of the coconut industry, such as marketing of coconut oils pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1960, the lifting of export and commodity clearances under Executive Order No. 1016, and relaxation of regulated capacity for the desiccated coconut sector pursuant to Presidential Memorandum of February 11, 1988, has become a centerpiece of the present dispensation; WHEREAS, the issuance of permits or licenses prior to business operation is a form of regulation which is not provided in the charter of nor included among the powers of the PCA; WHEREAS, the Governing Board of PCA has determined to follow and further support the deregulation policy and effort of the government to promote free enterprise; NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that, henceforth, PCA shall no longer require any coconut oil mill, coconut oil refinery, coconut desiccator, coconut product processor/factory, coconut fiber plant or any similar coconut processing plant to apply with PCA and the latter shall no longer issue any form of license or permit as condition prior to establishment or operation of such mills or plants; RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the PCA shall limit itself only to simply registering the aforementioned coconut product processors for the purpose of monitoring their volumes of production, administration of quality standards with the corresponding service fees/charges. ADOPTED this 24th day of March 1993, at Quezon City. 3 The PCA then proceeded to issue "certificates of registration" to those wishing to operate desiccated coconut processing plants, prompting petitioner to appeal to the Office of the President of the Philippines on April 26, 1993 not to approve the resolution in question. Despite follow-up letters sent on May 25 and June 2, 1993, petitioner received no reply from the Office of the President. The "certificates of registration" issued in the meantime by the PCA has enabled a number of new coconut mills to operate. Hence this petition. Petitioner alleges:
  • 241. I RESPONDENT PCA'S BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 018-93 IS NULL AND VOID FOR BEING AN UNDUE EXERCISE OF LEGISLATIVE POWER BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE BODY. II ASIDE FROM BEING ULTRA-VIRES, BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 018-93 IS WITHOUT ANY BASIS, ARBITRARY, UNREASONABLE AND THEREFORE IN VIOLATION OF SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS OF LAW. III IN PASSING BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 018-93, RESPONDENT PCA VIOLATED THE PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS REQUIREMENT OF CONSULTATION PROVIDED IN PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1644, EXECUTIVEORDER NO. 826 AND PCA ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 002, SERIES OF 1991. On the other hand, in addition to answering petitioner's arguments, respondent PCA alleges that this petition should be denied on the ground that petitioner has a pending appeal before the Office of the President. Respondent accuses petitioner of forum-shopping in filing this petition and of failing to exhaust available administrative remedies before coming to this Court. Respondent anchors its argument on the general rule that one who brings an action under Rule 65 must show that one has no appeal nor any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. I. The rule of requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies before a party may seek judicial review, so strenuously urged by the Solicitor General on behalf of respondent, has obviously no application here. The resolution in question was issued by the PCA in the exercise of its rule-making or legislative power. However, only judicial review of decisions of administrative agencies made in the exercise of their quasi- judicial function is subject to the exhaustion doctrine. The exhaustion doctrine stands as a bar to an action which is not yet complete 4 and it is clear, in the case at bar, that after its promulgation the resolution of the PCA abandoning regulation of the desiccated coconut industry became effective. To be sure, the PCA is under the direct supervision of the President of the Philippines but there is nothing in P.D. No. 232, P.D. No. 961, P.D. No. 1468 and P.D. No. 1644 defining the powers and functions of the PCA which requires rules and regulations issued by it to be approved by the President before they become effective. In any event, although the APCD has appealed the resolution in question to the Office of the President, considering the fact that two months after they had sent their first letter on April 26, 1993 they still had
  • 242. to hear from the President's office, meanwhile respondent PCA was issuing certificates of registration indiscriminately to new coconut millers, we hold that petitioner was justified in filing this case on June 25, 1993. 5 Indeed, after writing the Office of the President on April 26, 1993 6 petitioner sent inquiries to that office not once, but twice, on May 26, 1993 7 and on June 2, 1993, 8 but petitioner did not receive any reply. II. We now turn to the merit of the present petition. The Philippine Coconut Authority was originally created by P.D. 232 on June 30, 1973, to take over the powers and functions of the Coconut Coordinating Council, the Philippine Coconut Administration and the Philippine Coconut Research Institute. On June 11, 1978, by P.D. No. 1468, it was made "an independent public corporation . . . directly reporting to, and supervised by, the President of the Philippines," 9 and charged with carrying out the State's policy "to promote the rapid integrated development and growth of the coconut and other palm oil industry in all its aspects and to ensure that the coconut farmers become direct participants in, and beneficiaries of, such development and growth." 10 through a regulatory scheme set up by law. 11 Through this scheme, the government, on August 28, 1982, temporarily prohibited the opening of new coconut processing plants and, four months later, phased out some of the existing ones in view of overproduction in the coconut industry which resulted in cut-throat competition, underselling and smuggling of poor quality products and ultimately in the decline of the export performance of coconut- based commodities. The establishment of new plants could be authorized only upon determination by the PCA of the existence of certain economic conditions and the approval of the President of the Philippines. Thus, Executive Order No. 826, dated August 28, 1982, provided: Sec. 1. Prohibition. — Except as herein provided, no government agency or instrumentality shall hereafter authorize, approve or grant any permit or license for the establishment or operation of new desiccated coconut processing plants, including the importation of machinery or equipment for the purpose. In the event of a need to establish a new plant, or expand the capacity, relocate or upgrade the efficiencies of any existing desiccated plant, the Philippine Coconut Authority may, upon proper determination of such need and evaluation of the condition relating to: a. the existing market demand; b. the production capacity prevailing in the country or locality; c. the level and flow of raw materials; and d. other circumstances which may affect the growth or viability of the industry concerned,
  • 243. authorize or grant the application for, the establishment or expansion of capacity, relocation or upgrading of efficiencies of such desiccated coconut processing plant, subject to the approval of the President. On December 6, 1982, a phase-out of some of the existing plants was ordered by the government after finding that "a mere freeze in the present capacity of existing plants will not afford a viable solution to the problem considering that the total available limited market is not adequate to support all the existing processing plants, making it imperative to reduce the number of existing processing plants."12 Accordingly, it was ordered: 13 Sec. 1. The Philippine Coconut Authority is hereby ordered to take such action as may be necessary to reduce the number of existing desiccated coconut processing plants to a level which will insure the survival of the remaining plants. The Authority is hereby directed to determine which of the existing processing plants should be phased out and to enter into appropriate contracts with such plants for the above purpose. It was only on October 23, 1987 when the PCA adopted Resolution No. 058-87, authorizing the establishment and operation of additional DCN plants, in view of the increased demand for desiccated coconut products in the world's markets, particularly in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. Even then, the opening of new plants was made subject to "such implementing guidelines to be set forth by the Authority" and "subject to the final approval of the President." The guidelines promulgated by the PCA, as embodied in Administrative Order No. 002, series of 1991, inter aliaauthorized the opening of new plants in "non-congested areas only as declared by the PCA" and subject to compliance by applicants with "all procedures and requirements for registration under Administrative Order No. 003, series of 1981 and this Order." In addition, as the opening of new plants was premised on the increased global demand for desiccated coconut products, the new entrants were required to submit sworn statements of the names and addresses of prospective foreign buyers. This form of "deregulation" was approved by President Aquino in her memorandum, dated February 11, 1988, to the PCA. Affirming the regulatory scheme, the President stated in her memorandum: It appears that pursuant to Executive Order No. 826 providing measures for the protection of the Desiccated Coconut Industry, the Philippine Coconut Authority evaluated the conditions relating to: (a) the existing market demands; (b) the production capacity prevailing in the country or locality; (c) the level and flow of raw materials; and (d) other circumstances which may affect the growth or viability of the industry concerned and that the result of such evaluation favored the expansion of production and market of desiccated coconut products.
  • 244. In view hereof and the favorable recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture, the deregulation of the Desiccated Coconut Industry as recommended in Resolution No. 058-87 adopted by the PCA Governing Board on October 28, 1987 (sic) is hereby approved.14 These measures — the restriction in 1982 on entry into the field, the reduction the same year of the number of the existing coconut mills and then the lifting of the restrictions in 1987 — were adopted within the framework of regulation as established by law "to promote the rapid integrated development and growth of the coconut and other palm oil industry in all its aspects and to ensure that the coconut farmers become direct participants in, and beneficiaries of, such development and growth." 15 Contrary to the assertion in the dissent, the power given to the Philippine Coconut Authority — and before it to the Philippine Coconut Administration — "to formulate and adopt a general program of development for the coconut and other palm oils industry" 16 is not a roving commission to adopt any program deemed necessary to promote the development of the coconut and other palm oils industry, but one to be exercised in the context of this regulatory structure. In plain disregard of this legislative purpose, the PCA adopted on March 24, 1993 the questioned resolution which allows not only the indiscriminate opening of new coconut processing plants but the virtual dismantling of the regulatory infrastructure whereby, forsaking controls theretofore placed in its keeping, the PCA limits its function to the innocuous one of "monitoring" compliance by coconut millers with quality standards and volumes of production. In effect, the PCA would simply be compiling statistical data on these matters, but in case of violations of standards there would be nothing much it would do. The field would be left without an umpire who would retire to the bleachers to become a mere spectator. As the PCA provided in its Resolution No. 018-93: NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that, henceforth, PCA shall no longer require any coconut oil mill, coconut oil refinery, coconut desiccator, coconut product processor/factory, coconut fiber plant or any similar coconut processing plant to apply with PCA and the latter shall no longer issue any form of license or permit as condition prior to establishment or operation of such mills or plants; RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the PCA shall limit itself only to simply registering the aforementioned coconut product processors for the purpose of monitoring their volumes of production, administration of quality standards with the corresponding service fees/charges. The issue is not whether the PCA has the power to adopt this resolution to carry out its mandate under the law "to promote the accelerated growth and development of the coconut and other palm oil industry."17 The issue rather is whether it can renounce the power to regulate implicit in the law creating it for that is what the resolution in question actually is.
  • 245. Under Art. II, § 3(a) of the Revised Coconut Code (P.D. No. 1468), the role of the PCA is "To formulate and adopt a general program of development for the coconut and other palm oil industry in all its aspects." By limiting the purpose of registration to merely "monitoring volumes of production [and] administration of quality standards" of coconut processing plants, the PCA in effect abdicates its role and leaves it almost completely to market forces how the coconut industry will develop. Art. II, § 3 of P.D. No. 1468 further requires the PCA: (h) To regulate the marketing and the exportation of copra and its by-products by establishing standards for domestic trade and export and, thereafter, to conduct an inspection of all copra and its by-products proposed for export to determine if they conform to the standards established; Instead of determining the qualifications of market players and preventing the entry into the field of those who are unfit, the PCA now relies entirely on competition — with all its wastefulness and inefficiency — to do the weeding out, in its naive belief in survival of the fittest. The result can very well be a repeat of 1982 when free enterprise degenerated into a "free-for-all," resulting in cut-throat competition, underselling, the production of inferior products and the like, which badly affected the foreign trade performance of the coconut industry. Indeed, by repudiating its role in the regulatory scheme, the PCA has put at risk other statutory provisions, particularly those of P.D. No. 1644, to wit: Sec. 1. The Philippine Coconut Authority shall have full power and authority to regulate the marketing and export of copra, coconut oil and their by-products, in furtherance of the steps being taken to rationalize the coconut oil milling industry. Sec. 2. In the exercise of its powers under Section 1 hereof, the Philippine Coconut Authority may initiate and implement such measures as may be necessary to attain the rationalization of the coconut oil milling industry, including, but not limited to, the following measures: (a) Imposition of floor and/or ceiling prices for all exports of copra, coconut oil and their by- products; (b) Prescription of quality standards; (c) Establishment of maximum quantities for particular periods and particular markets; (d) Inspection and survey of export shipments through an independent international superintendent or surveyor.
  • 246. In the exercise of its powers hereunder, the Philippine Coconut Authority shall consult with, and be guided by, the recommendation of the coconut farmers, through corporations owned or controlled by them through the Coconut Industry Investment Fund and the private corporation authorized to be organized under Letter of Instructions No. 926. and the Revised Coconut Code (P.D. No. 1468), Art. II, § 3, to wit: (m) Except in respect of entities owned or controlled by the Government or by the coconut farmers under Sections 9 and 10, Article III hereof, the Authority shall have full power and authority to regulate the production, distribution and utilization of all subsidized coconut-based products, and to require the submission of such reports or documents as may be deemed necessary by the Authority to ascertain whether the levy payments and/or subsidy claims are due and correct and whether the subsidized products are distributed among, and utilized by, the consumers authorized by the Authority. The dissent seems to be saying that in the same way that restrictions on entry into the field were imposed in 1982 and then relaxed in 1987, they can be totally lifted now without prejudice to reimposing them in the future should it become necessary to do so. There is really no renunciation of the power to regulate, it is claimed. Trimming down of PCA's function to registration is not an abdication of the power to regulate but is regulation itself. But how can this be done when, under Resolution No. 018-93, the PCA no longer requires a license as condition for the establishment or operation of a plant? If a number of processing firms go to areas which are already congested, the PCA cannot stop them from doing so. If there is overproduction, the PCA cannot order a cut back in their production. This is because the licensing system is the mechanism for regulation. Without it the PCA will not be able to regulate coconut plants or mills. In the first "whereas" clause of the questioned resolution as set out above, the PCA invokes a policy of free enterprise that is "unhampered by protective regulations and unnecessary bureaucratic red tape" as justification for abolishing the licensing system. There can be no quarrel with the elimination of "unnecessary red tape." That is within the power of the PCA to do and indeed it should eliminate red tape. Its success in doing so will be applauded. But free enterprise does not call for removal of "protective regulations." Our Constitutions, beginning with the 1935 document, have repudiated laissez-faire as an economic principle.18 Although the present Constitution enshrines free enterprise as a policy, 19 it nonetheless reserves to the government the power to intervene whenever necessary to promote the general welfare. This is clear from the following provisions of Art. XII of the Constitution which, so far as pertinent, state:
  • 247. Sec. 6. . . . Individuals and private groups, including corporations, cooperatives, and similar collective organizations, shall have the right to own, establish, and operate economic enterprises, subject to the duty of the State to promote distributive justice and to intervene when the common good so demands. Sec. 19. The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed. (Emphasis added). At all events, any change in policy must be made by the legislative department of the government. The regulatory system has been set up by law. It is beyond the power of an administrative agency to dismantle it. Indeed, petitioner charges the PCA of seeking to render moot a case filed by some of its members questioning the grant of licenses to certain parties by adopting the resolution in question. It is alleged that members of petitioner complained to the court that the PCA had authorized the establishment and operation of new plants in areas which were already crowded, in violation of its Administrative Order No. 002, series of 1991. In response, the Regional Trial Court issued a writ of preliminary injunction, enjoining the PCA from issuing licenses to the private respondent in that case. These allegations of petitioner have not been denied here. It would thus seem that instead of defending its decision to allow new entrants into the field against petitioner's claim that the PCA decision violated the guidelines in Administrative Order No. 002, series of 1991, the PCA adopted the resolution in question to render the case moot. In so doing, the PCA abdicated its function of regulation and left the field to untrammeled competition that is likely to resurrect the evils of cut-throat competition, underselling and overproduction which in 1982 required the temporary closing of the field to new players in order to save the industry. The PCA cannot rely on the memorandum of then President Aquino for authority to adopt the resolution in question. As already stated, what President Aquino approved in 1988 was the establishment and operation of new DCN plants subject to the guidelines to be drawn by the PCA.20 In the first place, she could not have intended to amend the several laws already mentioned, which set up the regulatory system, by a mere memoranda to the PCA. In the second place, even if that had been her intention, her act would be without effect considering that, when she issued the memorandum in question on February 11, 1988, she was no longer vested with legislative authority. 21 WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. PCA Resolution No. 018-93 and all certificates of registration issued under it are hereby declared NULL and VOID for having been issued in excess of the power of the Philippine Coconut Authority to adopt or issue. SO ORDERED.
  • 248. G.R. No. 173034 October 9, 2007 PHARMACEUTICAL AND HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HEALTH SECRETARY FRANCISCO T. DUQUE III; HEALTH UNDER SECRETARIES DR. ETHELYN P. NIETO, DR. MARGARITA M. GALON, ATTY. ALEXANDER A. PADILLA, & DR. JADE F. DEL MUNDO; and ASSISTANT SECRETARIES DR. MARIO C. VILLAVERDE, DR. DAVID J. LOZADA, AND DR. NEMESIO T. GAKO,respondents. D E C I S I O N AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: The Court and all parties involved are in agreement that the best nourishment for an infant is mother's milk. There is nothing greater than for a mother to nurture her beloved child straight from her bosom. The ideal is, of course, for each and every Filipino child to enjoy the unequaled benefits of breastmilk. But how should this end be attained? Before the Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to nullify Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 2006-0012 entitled, Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Executive Order No. 51, Otherwise Known as The "Milk Code," Relevant International Agreements, Penalizing Violations Thereof, and for Other Purposes (RIRR). Petitioner posits that the RIRR is not valid as it contains provisions that are not constitutional and go beyond the law it is supposed to implement. Named as respondents are the Health Secretary, Undersecretaries, and Assistant Secretaries of the Department of Health (DOH). For purposes of herein petition, the DOH is deemed impleaded as a co- respondent since respondents issued the questioned RIRR in their capacity as officials of said executive agency.1 Executive Order No. 51 (Milk Code) was issued by President Corazon Aquino on October 28, 1986 by virtue of the legislative powers granted to the president under the Freedom Constitution. One of the preambular clauses of the Milk Code states that the law seeks to give effect to Article 112 of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (ICMBS), a code adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1981. From 1982 to 2006, the WHA adopted several Resolutions to the effect that breastfeeding should be supported, promoted and protected, hence, it should be ensured that nutrition and health claims are not permitted for breastmilk substitutes. In 1990, the Philippines ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 24 of said instrument provides that State Parties should take appropriate measures to diminish infant and child
  • 249. mortality, and ensure that all segments of society, specially parents and children, are informed of the advantages of breastfeeding. On May 15, 2006, the DOH issued herein assailed RIRR which was to take effect on July 7, 2006. However, on June 28, 2006, petitioner, representing its members that are manufacturers of breastmilk substitutes, filed the present Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or Writ of Preliminary Injunction. The main issue raised in the petition is whether respondents officers of the DOH acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and in violation of the provisions of the Constitution in promulgating the RIRR.3 On August 15, 2006, the Court issued a Resolution granting a TRO enjoining respondents from implementing the questioned RIRR. After the Comment and Reply had been filed, the Court set the case for oral arguments on June 19, 2007. The Court issued an Advisory (Guidance for Oral Arguments) dated June 5, 2007, to wit: The Court hereby sets the following issues: 1. Whether or not petitioner is a real party-in-interest; 2. Whether Administrative Order No. 2006-0012 or the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (RIRR) issued by the Department of Health (DOH) is not constitutional; 2.1 Whether the RIRR is in accord with the provisions of Executive Order No. 51 (Milk Code); 2.2 Whether pertinent international agreements1 entered into by the Philippines are part of the law of the land and may be implemented by the DOH through the RIRR; If in the affirmative, whether the RIRR is in accord with the international agreements; 2.3 Whether Sections 4, 5(w), 22, 32, 47, and 52 of the RIRR violate the due process clause and are in restraint of trade; and 2.4 Whether Section 13 of the RIRR on Total Effect provides sufficient standards. _____________
  • 250. 1 (1) United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; (2) the WHO and Unicef "2002 Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding;" and (3) various World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolutions. The parties filed their respective memoranda. The petition is partly imbued with merit. On the issue of petitioner's standing With regard to the issue of whether petitioner may prosecute this case as the real party-in-interest, the Court adopts the view enunciated in Executive Secretary v. Court of Appeals,4 to wit: The modern view is that an association has standing to complain of injuries to its members. This view fuses the legal identity of an association with that of its members. An association has standing to file suit for its workers despite its lack of direct interest if its members are affected by the action. An organization has standing to assert the concerns of its constituents. x x x x x x x We note that, under its Articles of Incorporation, the respondent was organized x x x to act as the representative of any individual, company, entity or association on matters related to the manpower recruitment industry, and to perform other acts and activities necessary to accomplish the purposes embodied therein. The respondent is, thus, the appropriate party to assert the rights of its members, because it and its members are in every practical sense identical. x x x The respondent [association] is but the medium through which its individual members seek to make more effective the expression of their voices and the redress of their grievances. 5 (Emphasis supplied) which was reasserted in Purok Bagong Silang Association, Inc. v. Yuipco,6 where the Court ruled that an association has the legal personality to represent its members because the results of the case will affect their vital interests.7 Herein petitioner's Amended Articles of Incorporation contains a similar provision just like in Executive Secretary, that the association is formed "to represent directly or through approved representatives the pharmaceutical and health care industry before the Philippine Government and any of its agencies, the medical professions and the general public."8 Thus, as an organization, petitioner definitely has an interest in fulfilling its avowed purpose of representing members who are part of the pharmaceutical and health care industry. Petitioner is duly authorized9 to take the appropriate course of action to bring to the
  • 251. attention of government agencies and the courts any grievance suffered by its members which are directly affected by the RIRR. Petitioner, which is mandated by its Amended Articles of Incorporation to represent the entire industry, would be remiss in its duties if it fails to act on governmental action that would affect any of its industry members, no matter how few or numerous they are. Hence, petitioner, whose legal identity is deemed fused with its members, should be considered as a real party-in-interest which stands to be benefited or injured by any judgment in the present action. On the constitutionality of the provisions of the RIRR First, the Court will determine if pertinent international instruments adverted to by respondents are part of the law of the land. Petitioner assails the RIRR for allegedly going beyond the provisions of the Milk Code, thereby amending and expanding the coverage of said law. The defense of the DOH is that the RIRR implements not only the Milk Code but also various international instruments10 regarding infant and young child nutrition. It is respondents' position that said international instruments are deemed part of the law of the land and therefore the DOH may implement them through the RIRR. The Court notes that the following international instruments invoked by respondents, namely: (1) The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; (2) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and (3) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, only provide in general terms that steps must be taken by State Parties to diminish infant and child mortality and inform society of the advantages of breastfeeding, ensure the health and well-being of families, and ensure that women are provided with services and nutrition in connection with pregnancy and lactation. Said instruments do not contain specific provisions regarding the use or marketing of breastmilk substitutes. The international instruments that do have specific provisions regarding breastmilk substitutes are the ICMBS and various WHA Resolutions. Under the 1987 Constitution, international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either bytransformation or incorporation.11 The transformation method requires that an international law be transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional mechanism such as local legislation. The incorporation method applies when, by mere constitutional declaration, international law is deemed to have the force of domestic law.12 Treaties become part of the law of the land through transformation pursuant to Article VII, Section 21 of the Constitution which provides that "[n]o treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate." Thus, treaties or
  • 252. conventional international law must go through a process prescribed by the Constitution for it to be transformed into municipal law that can be applied to domestic conflicts.13 The ICMBS and WHA Resolutions are not treaties as they have not been concurred in by at least two- thirds of all members of the Senate as required under Section 21, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution. However, the ICMBS which was adopted by the WHA in 1981 had been transformed into domestic law through local legislation, the Milk Code. Consequently, it is the Milk Code that has the force and effect of law in this jurisdiction and not the ICMBS per se. The Milk Code is almost a verbatim reproduction of the ICMBS, but it is well to emphasize at this point that the Code did not adopt the provision in the ICMBS absolutely prohibiting advertising or other forms of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of the ICMBS. Instead, the Milk Code expressly provides that advertising, promotion, or other marketing materials may be allowed if such materials are duly authorized and approved by the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC). On the other hand, Section 2, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, to wit: SECTION 2. The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations. (Emphasis supplied) embodies the incorporation method.14 In Mijares v. Ranada,15 the Court held thus: [G]enerally accepted principles of international law, by virtue of the incorporation clause of the Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even if they do not derive from treaty obligations. The classical formulation in international law sees those customary rules accepted as binding result from the combination [of] two elements: the established, widespread, and consistent practice on the part of States; and a psychological element known as the opinion juris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.16 (Emphasis supplied) "Generally accepted principles of international law" refers to norms of general or customary international law which are binding on all states,17 i.e., renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy, the principle of sovereign immunity,18 a person's right to life, liberty and due process,19 and pacta sunt
  • 253. servanda,20 among others. The concept of "generally accepted principles of law" has also been depicted in this wise: Some legal scholars and judges look upon certain "general principles of law" as a primary source of international law because they have the "character of jus rationale" and are "valid through all kinds of human societies." (Judge Tanaka in his dissenting opinion in the 1966 South West Africa Case, 1966 I.C.J. 296). O'Connell holds that certain priniciples are part of international law because they are "basic to legal systems generally" and hence part of the jus gentium. These principles, he believes, are established by a process of reasoning based on the common identity of all legal systems. If there should be doubt or disagreement, one must look to state practice and determine whether the municipal law principle provides a just and acceptable solution. x x x 21 (Emphasis supplied) Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas defines customary international law as follows: Custom or customary international law means "a general and consistent practice of states followed by them from a sense of legal obligation [opinio juris]." (Restatement) This statement contains the two basic elements of custom: the material factor, that is, how states behave, and the psychological orsubjective factor, that is, why they behave the way they do. x x x x The initial factor for determining the existence of custom is the actual behavior of states. This includes several elements: duration, consistency, and generality of the practice of states. The required duration can be either short or long. x x x x x x x Duration therefore is not the most important element. More important is the consistency and the generality of the practice. x x x x x x x Once the existence of state practice has been established, it becomes necessary to determine why states behave the way they do. Do states behave the way they do because they consider it obligatory to behave thus or do they do it only as a matter of courtesy? Opinio juris, or the belief that a certain form of behavior is obligatory, is what makes practice an international rule. Without it, practice is not law.22 (Underscoring and Emphasis supplied) Clearly, customary international law is deemed incorporated into our domestic system.23
  • 254. WHA Resolutions have not been embodied in any local legislation. Have they attained the status of customary law and should they then be deemed incorporated as part of the law of the land? The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the international specialized agencies allied with the United Nations (UN) by virtue of Article 57,24 in relation to Article 6325 of the UN Charter. Under the 1946 WHO Constitution, it is the WHA which determines the policies of the WHO,26 and has the power to adopt regulations concerning "advertising and labeling of biological, pharmaceutical and similar products moving in international commerce,"27 and to "make recommendations to members with respect to any matter within the competence of the Organization."28 The legal effect of its regulations, as opposed to recommendations, is quite different. Regulations, along with conventions and agreements, duly adopted by the WHA bind member states thus: Article 19. The Health Assembly shall have authority to adopt conventions or agreements with respect to any matter within the competence of the Organization. A two-thirds vote of the Health Assembly shall be required for the adoption of such conventions or agreements, which shall come into force for each Member when accepted by it in accordance with its constitutional processes. Article 20. Each Member undertakes that it will, within eighteen months after the adoption by the Health Assembly of a convention or agreement, take action relative to the acceptance of such convention or agreement. Each Member shall notify the Director-General of the action taken, and if it does not accept such convention or agreement within the time limit, it will furnish a statement of the reasons for non-acceptance. In case of acceptance, each Member agrees to make an annual report to the Director-General in accordance with Chapter XIV. Article 21. The Health Assembly shall have authority to adopt regulations concerning: (a) sanitary and quarantine requirements and other procedures designed to prevent the international spread of disease; (b) nomenclatures with respect to diseases, causes of death and public health practices; (c) standards with respect to diagnostic procedures for international use; (d) standards with respect to the safety, purity and potency of biological, pharmaceutical and similar products moving in international commerce; (e) advertising and labeling of biological, pharmaceutical and similar products moving in international commerce. Article 22. Regulations adopted pursuant to Article 21 shall come into force for all Members after due notice has been given of their adoption by the Health Assembly except for such Members as may notify the Director-General of rejection or reservations within the period stated in the notice. (Emphasis supplied)
  • 255. On the other hand, under Article 23, recommendations of the WHA do not come into force for members,in the same way that conventions or agreements under Article 19 and regulations under Article 21 come into force. Article 23 of the WHO Constitution reads: Article 23. The Health Assembly shall have authority to make recommendations to Members with respect to any matter within the competence of the Organization. (Emphasis supplied) The absence of a provision in Article 23 of any mechanism by which the recommendation would come into force for member states is conspicuous. The former Senior Legal Officer of WHO, Sami Shubber, stated that WHA recommendations are generally not binding, but they "carry moral and political weight, as they constitute the judgment on a health issue of the collective membership of the highest international body in the field of health."29 Even the ICMBS itself was adopted as a mere recommendation, as WHA Resolution No. 34.22 states: "The Thirty-Fourth World Health Assembly x x x adopts, in the sense of Article 23 of the Constitution, the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes annexed to the present resolution." (Emphasis supplied) The Introduction to the ICMBS also reads as follows: In January 1981, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization at its sixty-seventh session, considered the fourth draft of the code, endorsed it, and unanimously recommended to the Thirty-fourth World Health Assembly the text of a resolution by which it would adopt the code in the form of a recommendation rather than a regulation. x x x (Emphasis supplied) The legal value of WHA Resolutions as recommendations is summarized in Article 62 of the WHO Constitution, to wit: Art. 62. Each member shall report annually on the action taken with respect to recommendations made to it by the Organization, and with respect to conventions, agreements and regulations. Apparently, the WHA Resolution adopting the ICMBS and subsequent WHA Resolutions urging member states to implement the ICMBS are merely recommendatory and legally non-binding. Thus, unlike what has been done with the ICMBS whereby the legislature enacted most of the provisions into law which is the Milk Code, the subsequent WHA Resolutions,30 specifically providing for exclusive breastfeeding from 0-6 months, continued breastfeeding up to 24 months, and absolutely prohibiting advertisements and promotions of breastmilk substitutes, have not been adopted as a domestic law.
  • 256. It is propounded that WHA Resolutions may constitute "soft law" or non-binding norms, principles and practices that influence state behavior.31 "Soft law" does not fall into any of the categories of international law set forth in Article 38, Chapter III of the 1946 Statute of the International Court of Justice.32 It is, however, an expression of non-binding norms, principles, and practices that influence state behavior.33 Certain declarations and resolutions of the UN General Assembly fall under this category.34 The most notable is the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which this Court has enforced in various cases, specifically, Government of Hongkong Special Administrative Region v. Olalia,35 Mejoff v. Director of Prisons,36 Mijares v. Rañada37 and Shangri-la International Hotel Management, Ltd. v. Developers Group of Companies, Inc..38 The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency attached to the UN with the mandate to promote and protect intellectual property worldwide, has resorted to soft law as a rapid means of norm creation, in order "to reflect and respond to the changing needs and demands of its constituents."39 Other international organizations which have resorted to soft law include the International Labor Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization (in the form of the Codex Alimentarius).40 WHO has resorted to soft law. This was most evident at the time of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Avian flu outbreaks. Although the IHR Resolution does not create new international law binding on WHO member states, it provides an excellent example of the power of "soft law" in international relations. International lawyers typically distinguish binding rules of international law-"hard law"-from non-binding norms, principles, and practices that influence state behavior-"soft law." WHO has during its existence generated many soft law norms, creating a "soft law regime" in international governance for public health. The "soft law" SARS and IHR Resolutions represent significant steps in laying the political groundwork for improved international cooperation on infectious diseases. These resolutions clearly define WHO member states' normative duty to cooperate fully with other countries and with WHO in connection with infectious disease surveillance and response to outbreaks. This duty is neither binding nor enforceable, but, in the wake of the SARS epidemic, the duty is powerful politically for two reasons. First, the SARS outbreak has taught the lesson that participating in, and enhancing, international cooperation on infectious disease controls is in a country's self-interest x x x if this warning is heeded, the "soft law" in the SARS and IHR Resolution could inform the development of general and consistent state practice on infectious disease surveillance and outbreak response, perhaps crystallizing eventually into customary international law on infectious disease prevention and control.41
  • 257. In the Philippines, the executive department implemented certain measures recommended by WHO to address the outbreaks of SARS and Avian flu by issuing Executive Order (E.O.) No. 201 on April 26, 2003 and E.O. No. 280 on February 2, 2004, delegating to various departments broad powers to close down schools/establishments, conduct health surveillance and monitoring, and ban importation of poultry and agricultural products. It must be emphasized that even under such an international emergency, the duty of a state to implement the IHR Resolution was still considered not binding or enforceable, although said resolutions had great political influence. As previously discussed, for an international rule to be considered as customary law, it must be established that such rule is being followed by states because they consider it obligatory to comply with such rules (opinio juris). Respondents have not presented any evidence to prove that the WHA Resolutions, although signed by most of the member states, were in fact enforced or practiced by at least a majority of the member states; neither have respondents proven that any compliance by member states with said WHA Resolutions was obligatory in nature. Respondents failed to establish that the provisions of pertinent WHA Resolutions are customary international law that may be deemed part of the law of the land. Consequently, legislation is necessary to transform the provisions of the WHA Resolutions into domestic law. The provisions of the WHA Resolutions cannot be considered as part of the law of the land that can be implemented by executive agencies without the need of a law enacted by the legislature. Second, the Court will determine whether the DOH may implement the provisions of the WHA Resolutions by virtue of its powers and functions under the Revised Administrative Code even in the absence of a domestic law. Section 3, Chapter 1, Title IX of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 provides that the DOH shall define the national health policy and implement a national health plan within the framework of the government's general policies and plans, and issue orders and regulations concerning the implementation of established health policies. It is crucial to ascertain whether the absolute prohibition on advertising and other forms of promotion of breastmilk substitutes provided in some WHA Resolutions has been adopted as part of the national health policy. Respondents submit that the national policy on infant and young child feeding is embodied in A.O. No. 2005-0014, dated May 23, 2005. Basically, the Administrative Order declared the following policy
  • 258. guidelines: (1) ideal breastfeeding practices, such as early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, extended breastfeeding up to two years and beyond; (2) appropriate complementary feeding, which is to start at age six months; (3) micronutrient supplementation; (4) universal salt iodization; (5) the exercise of other feeding options; and (6) feeding in exceptionally difficult circumstances. Indeed, the primacy of breastfeeding for children is emphasized as a national health policy. However, nowhere in A.O. No. 2005-0014 is it declared that as part of such health policy, the advertisement or promotion of breastmilk substitutes should be absolutely prohibited. The national policy of protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding cannot automatically be equated with a total ban on advertising for breastmilk substitutes. In view of the enactment of the Milk Code which does not contain a total ban on the advertising and promotion of breastmilk substitutes, but instead, specifically creates an IAC which will regulate said advertising and promotion, it follows that a total ban policy could be implemented only pursuant to a law amending the Milk Code passed by the constitutionally authorized branch of government, the legislature. Thus, only the provisions of the Milk Code, but not those of subsequent WHA Resolutions, can be validly implemented by the DOH through the subject RIRR. Third, the Court will now determine whether the provisions of the RIRR are in accordance with those of the Milk Code. In support of its claim that the RIRR is inconsistent with the Milk Code, petitioner alleges the following: 1. The Milk Code limits its coverage to children 0-12 months old, but the RIRR extended its coverage to "young children" or those from ages two years old and beyond: MILK CODE RIRR WHEREAS, in order to ensure that safe and adequate nutrition for infants is provided, there is a need to protect and promote breastfeeding and to inform the public about the proper use of breastmilk substitutes and supplements and related products through adequate, consistent and objective information and appropriate regulation of the marketing and Section 2. Purpose – These Revised Rules and Regulations are hereby promulgated to ensure the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants and young children by the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding and by ensuring the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, breastmilk supplements and related products when these are medically
  • 259. distribution of the said substitutes, supplements and related products; SECTION 4(e). "Infant" means a person falling within the age bracket of 0-12 months. indicated and only when necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution. Section 5(ff). "Young Child" means a person from the age of more than twelve (12) months up to the age of three (3) years (36 months). 2. The Milk Code recognizes that infant formula may be a proper and possible substitute for breastmilk in certain instances; but the RIRR provides "exclusive breastfeeding for infants from 0-6 months" and declares that "there is no substitute nor replacement for breastmilk": MILK CODE RIRR WHEREAS, in order to ensure that safe and adequate nutrition for infants is provided, there is a need to protect and promote breastfeeding and to inform the public about the proper use of breastmilk substitutes and supplements and related products through adequate, consistent and objective information and appropriate regulation of the marketing and distribution of the said substitutes, supplements and related products; Section 4. Declaration of Principles – The following are the underlying principles from which the revised rules and regulations are premised upon: a. Exclusive breastfeeding is for infants from 0 to six (6) months. b. There is no substitute or replacement for breastmilk. 3. The Milk Code only regulates and does not impose unreasonable requirements for advertising and promotion; RIRR imposes an absolute ban on such activities for breastmilk substitutes intended for infants from 0-24 months old or beyond, and forbids the use of health and nutritional claims. Section 13 of the RIRR, which provides for a "total effect" in the promotion of products within the scope of the Code, is vague: MILK CODE RIRR SECTION 6. The General Public and Mothers. – (a) No advertising, promotion or other marketing materials, whether written, audio Section 4. Declaration of Principles – The following are the underlying principles from which the revised rules and regulations are premised upon:
  • 260. or visual, for products within the scope of this Code shall be printed, published, distributed, exhibited and broadcast unless such materials are duly authorized and approved by an inter-agency committee created herein pursuant to the applicable standards provided for in this Code. x x x x f. Advertising, promotions, or sponsor- ships of infant formula, breastmilk substitutes and other related products are prohibited. Section 11. Prohibition – No advertising, promotions, sponsorships, or marketing materials and activities for breastmilk substitutes intended for infants and young children up to twenty-four (24) months, shall be allowed, because they tend to convey or give subliminal messages or impressions that undermine breastmilk and breastfeeding or otherwise exaggerate breastmilk substitutes and/or replacements, as well as related products covered within the scope of this Code. Section 13. "Total Effect" - Promotion of products within the scope of this Code must be objective and should not equate or make the product appear to be as good or equal to breastmilk or breastfeeding in the advertising concept. It must not in any case undermine breastmilk or breastfeeding. The "total effect" should not directly or indirectly suggest that buying their product would produce better individuals, or resulting in greater love, intelligence, ability, harmony or in any manner bring better health to the baby or other such exaggerated and unsubstantiated claim. Section 15. Content of Materials. - The following shall not be included in
  • 261. advertising, promotional and marketing materials: a. Texts, pictures, illustrations or information which discourage or tend to undermine the benefits or superiority of breastfeeding or which idealize the use of breastmilk substitutes and milk supplements. In this connection, no pictures of babies and children together with their mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, other relatives or caregivers (or yayas) shall be used in any advertisements for infant formula and breastmilk supplements; b. The term "humanized," "maternalized," "close to mother's milk" or similar words in describing breastmilk substitutes or milk supplements; c. Pictures or texts that idealize the use of infant and milk formula. Section 16. All health and nutrition claims for products within the scope of the Code are absolutely prohibited. For this purpose, any phrase or words that connotes to increase emotional, intellectual abilities of the infant and young child and other like phrases shall not be allowed. 4. The RIRR imposes additional labeling requirements not found in the Milk Code: MILK CODE RIRR SECTION 10. Containers/Label. – (a) Containers and/or labels shall be designed to provide the necessary Section 26. Content – Each container/label shall contain such message, in both Filipino and English languages, and which message cannot be readily separated therefrom,
  • 262. information about the appropriate use of the products, and in such a way as not to discourage breastfeeding. (b) Each container shall have a clear, conspicuous and easily readable and understandable message in Pilipino or English printed on it, or on a label, which message can not readily become separated from it, and which shall include the following points: (i) the words "Important Notice" or their equivalent; (ii) a statement of the superiority of breastfeeding; (iii) a statement that the product shall be used only on the advice of a health worker as to the need for its use and the proper methods of use; and (iv) instructions for appropriate preparation, and a warning against the health hazards of inappropriate preparation. relative the following points: (a) The words or phrase "Important Notice" or "Government Warning" or their equivalent; (b) A statement of the superiority of breastfeeding; (c) A statement that there is no substitute for breastmilk; (d) A statement that the product shall be used only on the advice of a health worker as to the need for its use and the proper methods of use; (e) Instructions for appropriate prepara- tion, and a warning against the health hazards of inappropriate preparation; and (f) The health hazards of unnecessary or improper use of infant formula and other related products including information that powdered infant formula may contain pathogenic microorganisms and must be prepared and used appropriately. 5. The Milk Code allows dissemination of information on infant formula to health professionals; the RIRR totally prohibits such activity: MILK CODE RIRR SECTION 7. Health Care System. – (b) No facility of the health care system shall be used for the purpose of promoting infant formula or other products within the scope of this Code. This Code does not, however, preclude the dissemination of Section 22. No manufacturer, distributor, or representatives of products covered by the Code shall be allowed to conduct or be involved in any activity on breastfeeding promotion, education and production of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on
  • 263. information to health professionals as provided in Section 8(b). SECTION 8. Health Workers. - (b) Information provided by manufacturers and distributors to health professionals regarding products within the scope of this Code shall be restricted to scientific and factual matters and such information shall not imply or create a belief that bottle- feeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding. It shall also include the information specified in Section 5(b). breastfeeding, holding of or participating as speakers in classes or seminars for women and children activities and to avoid the use of these venues to market their brands or company names. SECTION 16. All health and nutrition claims for products within the scope of the Code are absolutely prohibited. For this purpose, any phrase or words that connotes to increase emotional, intellectual abilities of the infant and young child and other like phrases shall not be allowed. 6. The Milk Code permits milk manufacturers and distributors to extend assistance in research and continuing education of health professionals; RIRR absolutely forbids the same. MILK CODE RIRR SECTION 8. Health Workers – (e) Manufacturers and distributors of products within the scope of this Code may assist in the research, scholarships and continuing education, of health professionals, in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Health. Section 4. Declaration of Principles – The following are the underlying principles from which the revised rules and regulations are premised upon: i. Milk companies, and their representatives,should not form part of any policymaking body or entity in relation to the advancement of breasfeeding. SECTION 22. No manufacturer, distributor, or representatives of products covered by the Code shall be allowed to conduct or be involved in any activity on breastfeeding promotion, education and production of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on breastfeeding, holding of or participating as speakers in classes or seminars for
  • 264. women and children activitiesand to avoid the use of these venues to market their brands or company names. SECTION 32. Primary Responsibility of Health Workers - It is the primary responsibility of the health workers to promote, protect and support breastfeeding and appropriate infant and young child feeding. Part of this responsibility is to continuously update their knowledge and skills on breastfeeding. No assistance, support, logistics or training from milk companies shall be permitted. 7. The Milk Code regulates the giving of donations; RIRR absolutely prohibits it. MILK CODE RIRR SECTION 6. The General Public and Mothers. – (f) Nothing herein contained shall prevent donations from manufacturers and distributors of products within the scope of this Code upon request by or with the approval of the Ministry of Health. Section 51. Donations Within the Scope of This Code - Donations of products, materials, defined and covered under the Milk Code and these implementing rules and regulations, shall be strictly prohibited. Section 52. Other Donations By Milk Companies Not Covered by this Code. - Donations of products, equipments, and the like, not otherwise falling within the scope of this Code or these Rules, given by milk companies and their agents, representatives, whether in kind or in cash, may only be coursed through the Inter Agency Committee (IAC), which shall determine whether such donation be accepted or otherwise. 8. The RIRR provides for administrative sanctions not imposed by the Milk Code.
  • 265. MILK CODE RIRR Section 46. Administrative Sanctions. – The following administrative sanctions shall be imposed upon any person, juridical or natural, found to have violated the provisions of the Code and its implementing Rules and Regulations: a) 1st violation – Warning; b) 2nd violation – Administrative fine of a minimum of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) to Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos, depending on the gravity and extent of the violation, including the recall of the offending product; c) 3rd violation – Administrative Fine of a minimum of Sixty Thousand (P60,000.00) to One Hundred Fifty Thousand (P150,000.00) Pesos, depending on the gravity and extent of the violation, and in addition thereto, the recall of the offending product, and suspension of the Certificate of Product Registration (CPR); d) 4th violation –Administrative Fine of a minimum of Two Hundred Thousand (P200,000.00) to Five Hundred (P500,000.00) Thousand Pesos, depending on the gravity and extent of the violation; and in addition thereto, the recall of the product, revocation of the CPR, suspension of the License to Operate (LTO) for one year; e) 5th and succeeding repeated violations – Administrative Fine of One Million
  • 266. (P1,000,000.00) Pesos, the recall of the offending product, cancellation of the CPR, revocation of the License to Operate (LTO) of the company concerned, including the blacklisting of the company to be furnished the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); f) An additional penalty of Two Thou-sand Five Hundred (P2,500.00) Pesos per day shall be made for every day the violation continues after having received the order from the IAC or other such appropriate body, notifying and penalizing the company for the infraction. For purposes of determining whether or not there is "repeated" violation, each product violation belonging or owned by a company, including those of their subsidiaries, are deemed to be violations of the concerned milk company and shall not be based on the specific violating product alone. 9. The RIRR provides for repeal of existing laws to the contrary. The Court shall resolve the merits of the allegations of petitioner seriatim. 1. Petitioner is mistaken in its claim that the Milk Code's coverage is limited only to children 0-12 months old. Section 3 of the Milk Code states: SECTION 3. Scope of the Code – The Code applies to the marketing, and practices related thereto, of the following products: breastmilk substitutes, including infant formula; other milk products, foods and beverages, including bottle-fed complementary foods, when marketed or otherwise represented to be suitable, with or without modification, for use as a partial or total replacement of breastmilk; feeding bottles and teats. It also applies to their quality and availability, and to information concerning their use.
  • 267. Clearly, the coverage of the Milk Code is not dependent on the age of the child but on the kind of product being marketed to the public. The law treats infant formula, bottle-fed complementary food, and breastmilk substitute as separate and distinct product categories. Section 4(h) of the Milk Code defines infant formula as "a breastmilk substitute x x x to satisfy the normal nutritional requirements of infants up to between four to six months of age, and adapted to their physiological characteristics"; while under Section 4(b), bottle-fed complementary food refers to "any food, whether manufactured or locally prepared, suitable as a complement to breastmilk or infant formula, when either becomes insufficient to satisfy the nutritional requirements of the infant." An infant under Section 4(e) is a person falling within the age bracket 0-12 months. It is the nourishment of this group of infants or children aged 0-12 months that is sought to be promoted and protected by the Milk Code. But there is another target group. Breastmilk substitute is defined under Section 4(a) as "any food being marketed or otherwise presented as a partial or total replacement for breastmilk, whether or not suitable for that purpose."This section conspicuously lacks reference to any particular age-group of children. Hence, the provision of the Milk Code cannot be considered exclusive for children aged 0-12 months. In other words, breastmilk substitutes may also be intended for young children more than 12 months of age. Therefore, by regulating breastmilk substitutes, the Milk Code also intends to protect and promote the nourishment of children more than 12 months old. Evidently, as long as what is being marketed falls within the scope of the Milk Code as provided in Section 3, then it can be subject to regulation pursuant to said law, even if the product is to be used by children aged over 12 months. There is, therefore, nothing objectionable with Sections 242 and 5(ff)43 of the RIRR. 2. It is also incorrect for petitioner to say that the RIRR, unlike the Milk Code, does not recognize that breastmilk substitutes may be a proper and possible substitute for breastmilk. The entirety of the RIRR, not merely truncated portions thereof, must be considered and construed together. As held in De Luna v. Pascual,44 "[t]he particular words, clauses and phrases in the Rule should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part thereof must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce a harmonious whole." Section 7 of the RIRR provides that "when medically indicated and only when necessary, the use of breastmilk substitutes is proper if based on complete and updated information." Section 8 of the RIRR also states that information and educational materials should include information on the proper use of infant formula when the use thereof is needed.
  • 268. Hence, the RIRR, just like the Milk Code, also recognizes that in certain cases, the use of breastmilk substitutes may be proper. 3. The Court shall ascertain the merits of allegations 345 and 446 together as they are interlinked with each other. To resolve the question of whether the labeling requirements and advertising regulations under the RIRR are valid, it is important to deal first with the nature, purpose, and depth of the regulatory powers of the DOH, as defined in general under the 1987 Administrative Code,47 and as delegated in particular under the Milk Code. Health is a legitimate subject matter for regulation by the DOH (and certain other administrative agencies) in exercise of police powers delegated to it. The sheer span of jurisprudence on that matter precludes the need to further discuss it..48 However, health information, particularly advertising materials on apparently non-toxic products like breastmilk substitutes and supplements, is a relatively new area for regulation by the DOH.49 As early as the 1917 Revised Administrative Code of the Philippine Islands,50 health information was already within the ambit of the regulatory powers of the predecessor of DOH.51 Section 938 thereof charged it with the duty to protect the health of the people, and vested it with such powers as "(g) the dissemination of hygienic information among the people and especially the inculcation of knowledge as to the proper care of infants and the methods of preventing and combating dangerous communicable diseases." Seventy years later, the 1987 Administrative Code tasked respondent DOH to carry out the state policy pronounced under Section 15, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, which is "to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them."52 To that end, it was granted under Section 3 of the Administrative Code the power to "(6) propagate health information and educate the population on important health, medical and environmental matters which have health implications."53 When it comes to information regarding nutrition of infants and young children, however, the Milk Code specifically delegated to the Ministry of Health (hereinafter referred to as DOH) the power to ensure that there is adequate, consistent and objective information on breastfeeding and use of breastmilk substitutes, supplements and related products; and the power to control such information. These are expressly provided for in Sections 12 and 5(a), to wit: SECTION 12. Implementation and Monitoring –
  • 269. x x x x (b) The Ministry of Health shall be principally responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this Code. For this purpose, the Ministry of Health shall have the following powers and functions: (1) To promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary or proper for the implementation of this Code and the accomplishment of its purposes and objectives. x x x x (4) To exercise such other powers and functions as may be necessary for or incidental to the attainment of the purposes and objectives of this Code. SECTION 5. Information and Education – (a) The government shall ensure that objective and consistent information is provided on infant feeding, for use by families and those involved in the field of infant nutrition. This responsibility shall cover the planning, provision, design and dissemination of information, and the control thereof, on infant nutrition. (Emphasis supplied) Further, DOH is authorized by the Milk Code to control the content of any information on breastmilk vis- à-visbreastmilk substitutes, supplement and related products, in the following manner: SECTION 5. x x x (b) Informational and educational materials, whether written, audio, or visual, dealing with the feeding of infants and intended to reach pregnant women and mothers of infants, shall include clear information on all the following points: (1) the benefits and superiority of breastfeeding; (2) maternal nutrition, and the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding; (3) the negative effect on breastfeeding of introducing partial bottlefeeding; (4) the difficulty of reversing the decision not to breastfeed; and (5) where needed, the proper use of infant formula, whether manufactured industrially or home-prepared. When such materials contain information about the use of infant formula, they shall include the social and financial implications of its use; the health hazards of inappropriate foods or feeding methods; and, in particular, the health hazards of unnecessary or improper use of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes. Such materials shall not use any picture or text which may idealize the use of breastmilk substitutes. SECTION 8. Health Workers –
  • 270. x x x x (b) Information provided by manufacturers and distributors to health professionals regarding products within the scope of this Code shall be restricted to scientific and factual matters, and such information shall not imply or create a belief that bottlefeeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding. It shall also include the information specified in Section 5(b). SECTION 10. Containers/Label – (a) Containers and/or labels shall be designed to provide the necessary information about the appropriate use of the products, and in such a way as not to discourage breastfeeding. x x x x (d) The term "humanized," "maternalized" or similar terms shall not be used. (Emphasis supplied) The DOH is also authorized to control the purpose of the information and to whom such information may be disseminated under Sections 6 through 9 of the Milk Code54 to ensure that the information that would reach pregnant women, mothers of infants, and health professionals and workers in the health care system is restricted to scientific and factual matters and shall not imply or create a belief that bottlefeeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding. It bears emphasis, however, that the DOH's power under the Milk Code to control information regarding breastmilk vis-a-vis breastmilk substitutes is not absolute as the power to control does not encompass the power to absolutely prohibit the advertising, marketing, and promotion of breastmilk substitutes. The following are the provisions of the Milk Code that unequivocally indicate that the control over information given to the DOH is not absolute and that absolute prohibition is not contemplated by the Code: a) Section 2 which requires adequate information and appropriate marketing and distribution of breastmilk substitutes, to wit: SECTION 2. Aim of the Code – The aim of the Code is to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants by the protection and promotion of breastfeeding and by ensuring the proper use of breastmilk substitutes and breastmilk supplements when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.
  • 271. b) Section 3 which specifically states that the Code applies to the marketing of and practices related to breastmilk substitutes, including infant formula, and to information concerning their use; c) Section 5(a) which provides that the government shall ensure that objective and consistent information is provided on infant feeding; d) Section 5(b) which provides that written, audio or visual informational and educational materials shall not use any picture or text which may idealize the use of breastmilk substitutes and should include information on the health hazards of unnecessary or improper use of said product; e) Section 6(a) in relation to Section 12(a) which creates and empowers the IAC to review and examine advertising, promotion, and other marketing materials; f) Section 8(b) which states that milk companies may provide information to health professionals but such information should be restricted to factual and scientific matters and shall not imply or create a belief that bottlefeeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding; and g) Section 10 which provides that containers or labels should not contain information that would discourage breastfeeding and idealize the use of infant formula. It is in this context that the Court now examines the assailed provisions of the RIRR regarding labeling and advertising. Sections 1355 on "total effect" and 2656 of Rule VII of the RIRR contain some labeling requirements, specifically: a) that there be a statement that there is no substitute to breastmilk; and b) that there be a statement that powdered infant formula may contain pathogenic microorganisms and must be prepared and used appropriately. Section 1657 of the RIRR prohibits all health and nutrition claims for products within the scope of the Milk Code, such as claims of increased emotional and intellectual abilities of the infant and young child. These requirements and limitations are consistent with the provisions of Section 8 of the Milk Code, to wit: SECTION 8. Health workers - x x x x (b) Information provided by manufacturers and distributors to health professionals regarding products within the scope of this Code shall be restricted to scientific and factual matters, and
  • 272. such information shall not imply or create a belief that bottlefeeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding. It shall also include the information specified in Section 5.58 (Emphasis supplied) and Section 10(d)59 which bars the use on containers and labels of the terms "humanized," "maternalized," or similar terms. These provisions of the Milk Code expressly forbid information that would imply or create a belief that there is any milk product equivalent to breastmilk or which is humanized or maternalized, as such information would be inconsistent with the superiority of breastfeeding. It may be argued that Section 8 of the Milk Code refers only to information given to health workers regarding breastmilk substitutes, not to containers and labels thereof. However, such restrictive application of Section 8(b) will result in the absurd situation in which milk companies and distributors are forbidden to claim to health workers that their products are substitutes or equivalents of breastmilk, and yet be allowed to display on the containers and labels of their products the exact opposite message. That askewed interpretation of the Milk Code is precisely what Section 5(a) thereof seeks to avoid by mandating that all information regarding breastmilk vis-a-vis breastmilk substitutes be consistent, at the same time giving the government control over planning, provision, design, and dissemination of information on infant feeding. Thus, Section 26(c) of the RIRR which requires containers and labels to state that the product offered is not a substitute for breastmilk, is a reasonable means of enforcing Section 8(b) of the Milk Code and deterring circumvention of the protection and promotion of breastfeeding as embodied in Section 260 of the Milk Code. Section 26(f)61 of the RIRR is an equally reasonable labeling requirement. It implements Section 5(b) of the Milk Code which reads: SECTION 5. x x x x x x x (b) Informational and educational materials, whether written, audio, or visual, dealing with the feeding of infants and intended to reach pregnant women and mothers of infants, shall include clear information on all the following points: x x x (5) where needed, the proper use of infant formula, whether manufactured industrially or home-prepared. When such materials contain information about the use of infant formula, they shall include the social and financial implications of its use; the health hazards of inappropriate foods or feeding methods; and, in particular, the health hazards of unnecessary or improper use of infant formula and other breastmilk
  • 273. substitutes. Such materials shall not use any picture or text which may idealize the use of breastmilk substitutes. (Emphasis supplied) The label of a product contains information about said product intended for the buyers thereof. The buyers of breastmilk substitutes are mothers of infants, and Section 26 of the RIRR merely adds a fair warning about the likelihood of pathogenic microorganisms being present in infant formula and other related products when these are prepared and used inappropriately. Petitioner’s counsel has admitted during the hearing on June 19, 2007 that formula milk is prone to contaminations and there is as yet no technology that allows production of powdered infant formula that eliminates all forms of contamination.62 Ineluctably, the requirement under Section 26(f) of the RIRR for the label to contain the message regarding health hazards including the possibility of contamination with pathogenic microorganisms is in accordance with Section 5(b) of the Milk Code. The authority of DOH to control information regarding breastmilk vis-a-vis breastmilk substitutes and supplements and related products cannot be questioned. It is its intervention into the area of advertising, promotion, and marketing that is being assailed by petitioner. In furtherance of Section 6(a) of the Milk Code, to wit: SECTION 6. The General Public and Mothers. – (a) No advertising, promotion or other marketing materials, whether written, audio or visual, for products within the scope of this Code shall be printed, published, distributed, exhibited and broadcast unless such materials are duly authorized and approved by an inter-agency committee created herein pursuant to the applicable standards provided for in this Code. the Milk Code invested regulatory authority over advertising, promotional and marketing materials to an IAC, thus: SECTION 12. Implementation and Monitoring - (a) For purposes of Section 6(a) of this Code, an inter-agency committee composed of the following members is hereby created: Minister of Health ------------------- Chairman Minister of Trade and Industry ------------------- Member
  • 274. Minister of Justice ------------------- Member Minister of Social Services and Development ------------------- Member The members may designate their duly authorized representative to every meeting of the Committee. The Committee shall have the following powers and functions: (1) To review and examine all advertising. promotion or other marketing materials, whether written, audio or visual, on products within the scope of this Code; (2) To approve or disapprove, delete objectionable portions from and prohibit the printing, publication, distribution, exhibition and broadcast of, all advertising promotion or other marketing materials, whether written, audio or visual, on products within the scope of this Code; (3) To prescribe the internal and operational procedure for the exercise of its powers and functions as well as the performance of its duties and responsibilities; and (4) To promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary or proper for the implementation of Section 6(a) of this Code. x x x (Emphasis supplied) However, Section 11 of the RIRR, to wit: SECTION 11. Prohibition – No advertising, promotions, sponsorships, or marketing materials and activities for breastmilk substitutes intended for infants and young children up to twenty-four (24) months, shall be allowed, because they tend to convey or give subliminal messages or impressions that undermine breastmilk and breastfeeding or otherwise exaggerate breastmilk substitutes and/or replacements, as well as related products covered within the scope of this Code. prohibits advertising, promotions, sponsorships or marketing materials and activities for breastmilk substitutes in line with the RIRR’s declaration of principle under Section 4(f), to wit: SECTION 4. Declaration of Principles – x x x x
  • 275. (f) Advertising, promotions, or sponsorships of infant formula, breastmilk substitutes and other related products are prohibited. The DOH, through its co-respondents, evidently arrogated to itself not only the regulatory authority given to the IAC but also imposed absolute prohibition on advertising, promotion, and marketing. Yet, oddly enough, Section 12 of the RIRR reiterated the requirement of the Milk Code in Section 6 thereof for prior approval by IAC of all advertising, marketing and promotional materials prior to dissemination. Even respondents, through the OSG, acknowledged the authority of IAC, and repeatedly insisted, during the oral arguments on June 19, 2007, that the prohibition under Section 11 is not actually operational, viz: SOLICITOR GENERAL DEVANADERA: x x x x x x x Now, the crux of the matter that is being questioned by Petitioner is whether or not there is an absolute prohibition on advertising making AO 2006-12 unconstitutional. We maintained that what AO 2006-12 provides is not an absolute prohibition because Section 11 while it states and it is entitled prohibition it states that no advertising, promotion, sponsorship or marketing materials and activities for breast milk substitutes intended for infants and young children up to 24 months shall be allowed because this is the standard they tend to convey or give subliminal messages or impression undermine that breastmilk or breastfeeding x x x. We have to read Section 11 together with the other Sections because the other Section, Section 12, provides for the inter agency committee that is empowered to process and evaluate all the advertising and promotion materials. x x x x What AO 2006-12, what it does, it does not prohibit the sale and manufacture, it simply regulates the advertisement and the promotions of breastfeeding milk substitutes. x x x x Now, the prohibition on advertising, Your Honor, must be taken together with the provision on the Inter-Agency Committee that processes and evaluates because there may be some information dissemination that are straight forward information dissemination. What the AO 2006 is trying to prevent is any material that will undermine the practice of breastfeeding, Your Honor.
  • 276. x x x x ASSOCIATE JUSTICE SANTIAGO: Madam Solicitor General, under the Milk Code, which body has authority or power to promulgate Rules and Regulations regarding the Advertising, Promotion and Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes? SOLICITOR GENERAL DEVANADERA: Your Honor, please, it is provided that the Inter-Agency Committee, Your Honor. x x x x ASSOCIATE JUSTICE SANTIAGO: x x x Don't you think that the Department of Health overstepped its rule making authority when it totally banned advertising and promotion under Section 11 prescribed the total effect rule as well as the content of materials under Section 13 and 15 of the rules and regulations? SOLICITOR GENERAL DEVANADERA: Your Honor, please, first we would like to stress that there is no total absolute ban. Second, the Inter-Agency Committee is under the Department of Health, Your Honor. x x x x ASSOCIATE JUSTICE NAZARIO: x x x Did I hear you correctly, Madam Solicitor, that there is no absolute ban on advertising of breastmilk substitutes in the Revised Rules? SOLICITOR GENERAL DEVANADERA: Yes, your Honor. ASSOCIATE JUSTICE NAZARIO: But, would you nevertheless agree that there is an absolute ban on advertising of breastmilk substitutes intended for children two (2) years old and younger? SOLICITOR GENERAL DEVANADERA:
  • 277. It's not an absolute ban, Your Honor, because we have the Inter-Agency Committee that can evaluate some advertising and promotional materials, subject to the standards that we have stated earlier, which are- they should not undermine breastfeeding, Your Honor. x x x x x x x Section 11, while it is titled Prohibition, it must be taken in relation with the other Sections, particularly 12 and 13 and 15, Your Honor, because it is recognized that the Inter-Agency Committee has that power to evaluate promotional materials, Your Honor. ASSOCIATE JUSTICE NAZARIO: So in short, will you please clarify there's no absolute ban on advertisement regarding milk substitute regarding infants two (2) years below? SOLICITOR GENERAL DEVANADERA: We can proudly say that the general rule is that there is a prohibition, however, we take exceptions and standards have been set. One of which is that, the Inter-Agency Committee can allow if the advertising and promotions will not undermine breastmilk and breastfeeding, Your Honor.63 Sections 11 and 4(f) of the RIRR are clearly violative of the Milk Code. However, although it is the IAC which is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations for the approval or rejection of advertising, promotional, or other marketing materials under Section 12(a) of the Milk Code, said provision must be related to Section 6 thereof which in turn provides that the rules and regulations must be "pursuant to the applicable standards provided for in this Code." Said standards are set forth in Sections 5(b), 8(b), and 10 of the Code, which, at the risk of being repetitious, and for easy reference, are quoted hereunder: SECTION 5. Information and Education – x x x x (b) Informational and educational materials, whether written, audio, or visual, dealing with the feeding of infants and intended to reach pregnant women and mothers of infants, shall include clear information on all the following points: (1) the benefits and superiority of breastfeeding; (2) maternal nutrition, and the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding; (3) the negative effect on breastfeeding of introducing partial bottlefeeding; (4) the difficulty of reversing the
  • 278. decision not to breastfeed; and (5) where needed, the proper use of infant formula, whether manufactured industrially or home-prepared. When such materials contain information about the use of infant formula, they shall include the social and financial implications of its use; the health hazards of inappropriate foods of feeding methods; and, in particular, the health hazards of unnecessary or improper use of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes. Such materials shall not use any picture or text which may idealize the use of breastmilk substitutes. x x x x SECTION 8. Health Workers. – x x x x (b) Information provided by manufacturers and distributors to health professionals regarding products within the scope of this Code shall be restricted to scientific and factual matters and such information shall not imply or create a belief that bottle feeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding. It shall also include the information specified in Section 5(b). x x x x SECTION 10. Containers/Label – (a) Containers and/or labels shall be designed to provide the necessary information about the appropriate use of the products, and in such a way as not to discourage breastfeeding. (b) Each container shall have a clear, conspicuous and easily readable and understandable message in Pilipino or English printed on it, or on a label, which message can not readily become separated from it, and which shall include the following points: (i) the words "Important Notice" or their equivalent; (ii) a statement of the superiority of breastfeeding; (iii) a statement that the product shall be used only on the advice of a health worker as to the need for its use and the proper methods of use; and (iv) instructions for appropriate preparation, and a warning against the health hazards of inappropriate preparation.
  • 279. Section 12(b) of the Milk Code designates the DOH as the principal implementing agency for the enforcement of the provisions of the Code. In relation to such responsibility of the DOH, Section 5(a) of the Milk Code states that: SECTION 5. Information and Education – (a) The government shall ensure that objective and consistent information is provided on infant feeding, for use by families and those involved in the field of infant nutrition. This responsibility shall cover the planning, provision, design and dissemination of information, and the control thereof, on infant nutrition. (Emphasis supplied) Thus, the DOH has the significant responsibility to translate into operational terms the standards set forth in Sections 5, 8, and 10 of the Milk Code, by which the IAC shall screen advertising, promotional, or other marketing materials. It is pursuant to such responsibility that the DOH correctly provided for Section 13 in the RIRR which reads as follows: SECTION 13. "Total Effect" - Promotion of products within the scope of this Code must be objective and should not equate or make the product appear to be as good or equal to breastmilk or breastfeeding in the advertising concept. It must not in any case undermine breastmilk or breastfeeding. The "total effect" should not directly or indirectly suggest that buying their product would produce better individuals, or resulting in greater love, intelligence, ability, harmony or in any manner bring better health to the baby or other such exaggerated and unsubstantiated claim. Such standards bind the IAC in formulating its rules and regulations on advertising, promotion, and marketing. Through that single provision, the DOH exercises control over the information content of advertising, promotional and marketing materials on breastmilk vis-a-vis breastmilk substitutes, supplements and other related products. It also sets a viable standard against which the IAC may screen such materials before they are made public. In Equi-Asia Placement, Inc. vs. Department of Foreign Affairs,64 the Court held: x x x [T]his Court had, in the past, accepted as sufficient standards the following: "public interest," "justice and equity," "public convenience and welfare," and "simplicity, economy and welfare."65 In this case, correct information as to infant feeding and nutrition is infused with public interest and welfare.
  • 280. 4. With regard to activities for dissemination of information to health professionals, the Court also finds that there is no inconsistency between the provisions of the Milk Code and the RIRR. Section 7(b)66 of the Milk Code, in relation to Section 8(b)67 of the same Code, allows dissemination of information to health professionals but suchinformation is restricted to scientific and factual matters. Contrary to petitioner's claim, Section 22 of the RIRR does not prohibit the giving of information to health professionals on scientific and factual matters. What it prohibits is the involvement of the manufacturer and distributor of the products covered by the Code in activities for the promotion, education and production of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials regarding breastfeeding that are intended forwomen and children. Said provision cannot be construed to encompass even the dissemination of information to health professionals, as restricted by the Milk Code. 5. Next, petitioner alleges that Section 8(e)68 of the Milk Code permits milk manufacturers and distributors to extend assistance in research and in the continuing education of health professionals, while Sections 22 and 32 of the RIRR absolutely forbid the same. Petitioner also assails Section 4(i)69 of the RIRR prohibiting milk manufacturers' and distributors' participation in any policymaking body in relation to the advancement of breastfeeding. Section 4(i) of the RIRR provides that milk companies and their representatives should not form part of any policymaking body or entity in relation to the advancement of breastfeeding. The Court finds nothing in said provisions which contravenes the Milk Code. Note that under Section 12(b) of the Milk Code, it is the DOH which shall be principally responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the provisions of said Code. It is entirely up to the DOH to decide which entities to call upon or allow to be part of policymaking bodies on breastfeeding. Therefore, the RIRR's prohibition on milk companies’ participation in any policymaking body in relation to the advancement of breastfeeding is in accord with the Milk Code. Petitioner is also mistaken in arguing that Section 22 of the RIRR prohibits milk companies from giving reasearch assistance and continuing education to health professionals. Section 2270 of the RIRR does not pertain to research assistance to or the continuing education of health professionals; rather, it deals with breastfeeding promotion and education for women and children. Nothing in Section 22 of the RIRR prohibits milk companies from giving assistance for research or continuing education to health professionals; hence, petitioner's argument against this particular provision must be struck down. It is Sections 971 and 1072 of the RIRR which govern research assistance. Said sections of the RIRR provide thatresearch assistance for health workers and researchers may be allowed upon approval of an ethics committee, and with certain disclosure requirements imposed on the milk company and on the recipient of the research award.
  • 281. The Milk Code endows the DOH with the power to determine how such research or educational assistance may be given by milk companies or under what conditions health workers may accept the assistance. Thus, Sections 9 and 10 of the RIRR imposing limitations on the kind of research done or extent of assistance given by milk companies are completely in accord with the Milk Code. Petitioner complains that Section 3273 of the RIRR prohibits milk companies from giving assistance, support, logistics or training to health workers. This provision is within the prerogative given to the DOH under Section 8(e)74 of the Milk Code, which provides that manufacturers and distributors of breastmilk substitutes may assist in researches, scholarships and the continuing education, of health professionals in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Health, now DOH. 6. As to the RIRR's prohibition on donations, said provisions are also consistent with the Milk Code. Section 6(f) of the Milk Code provides that donations may be made by manufacturers and distributors of breastmilk substitutesupon the request or with the approval of the DOH. The law does not proscribe the refusal of donations. The Milk Code leaves it purely to the discretion of the DOH whether to request or accept such donations. The DOH then appropriately exercised its discretion through Section 5175 of the RIRR which sets forth its policy not to request or approve donations from manufacturers and distributors of breastmilk substitutes. It was within the discretion of the DOH when it provided in Section 52 of the RIRR that any donation from milk companies not covered by the Code should be coursed through the IAC which shall determine whether such donation should be accepted or refused. As reasoned out by respondents, the DOH is not mandated by the Milk Code to accept donations. For that matter, no person or entity can be forced to accept a donation. There is, therefore, no real inconsistency between the RIRR and the law because the Milk Code does not prohibit the DOH from refusing donations. 7. With regard to Section 46 of the RIRR providing for administrative sanctions that are not found in the Milk Code, the Court upholds petitioner's objection thereto. Respondent's reliance on Civil Aeronautics Board v. Philippine Air Lines, Inc.76 is misplaced. The glaring difference in said case and the present case before the Court is that, in the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) was expressly granted by the law (R.A. No. 776) the power to impose fines and civil penalties, while the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) was granted by the same law the power to review on appeal the order or decision of the CAA and to determine whether to impose, remit, mitigate, increase or compromise such fine and civil penalties. Thus, the Court upheld the CAB's Resolution imposing administrative fines. In a more recent case, Perez v. LPG Refillers Association of the Philippines, Inc.,77 the Court upheld the Department of Energy (DOE) Circular No. 2000-06-10 implementing Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 33. The
  • 282. circular provided for fines for the commission of prohibited acts. The Court found that nothing in the circular contravened the law because the DOE was expressly authorized by B.P. Blg. 33 and R.A. No. 7638 to impose fines or penalties. In the present case, neither the Milk Code nor the Revised Administrative Code grants the DOH the authority to fix or impose administrative fines. Thus, without any express grant of power to fix or impose such fines, the DOH cannot provide for those fines in the RIRR. In this regard, the DOH again exceeded its authority by providing for such fines or sanctions in Section 46 of the RIRR. Said provision is, therefore, null and void. The DOH is not left without any means to enforce its rules and regulations. Section 12(b) (3) of the Milk Code authorizes the DOH to "cause the prosecution of the violators of this Code and other pertinent laws on products covered by this Code." Section 13 of the Milk Code provides for the penalties to be imposed on violators of the provision of the Milk Code or the rules and regulations issued pursuant to it, to wit: SECTION 13. Sanctions – (a) Any person who violates the provisions of this Code or the rules and regulations issued pursuant to this Code shall, upon conviction, be punished by a penalty of two (2) months to one (1) year imprisonment or a fine of not less than One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) nor more than Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) or both. Should the offense be committed by a juridical person, the chairman of the Board of Directors, the president, general manager, or the partners and/or the persons directly responsible therefor, shall be penalized. (b) Any license, permit or authority issued by any government agency to any health worker, distributor, manufacturer, or marketing firm or personnel for the practice of their profession or occupation, or for the pursuit of their business, may, upon recommendation of the Ministry of Health, be suspended or revoked in the event of repeated violations of this Code, or of the rules and regulations issued pursuant to this Code. (Emphasis supplied) 8. Petitioner’s claim that Section 57 of the RIRR repeals existing laws that are contrary to the RIRR is frivolous. Section 57 reads: SECTION 57. Repealing Clause - All orders, issuances, and rules and regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with these revised rules and implementing regulations are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
  • 283. Section 57 of the RIRR does not provide for the repeal of laws but only orders, issuances and rules and regulations. Thus, said provision is valid as it is within the DOH's rule-making power. An administrative agency like respondent possesses quasi-legislative or rule-making power or the power to make rules and regulations which results in delegated legislation that is within the confines of the granting statute and the Constitution, and subject to the doctrine of non-delegability and separability of powers.78 Such express grant of rule-making power necessarily includes the power to amend, revise, alter, or repeal the same.79 This is to allow administrative agencies flexibility in formulating and adjusting the details and manner by which they are to implement the provisions of a law,80 in order to make it more responsive to the times. Hence, it is a standard provision in administrative rules that prior issuances of administrative agencies that are inconsistent therewith are declared repealed or modified. In fine, only Sections 4(f), 11 and 46 are ultra vires, beyond the authority of the DOH to promulgate and in contravention of the Milk Code and, therefore, null and void. The rest of the provisions of the RIRR are in consonance with the Milk Code. Lastly, petitioner makes a "catch-all" allegation that: x x x [T]he questioned RIRR sought to be implemented by the Respondents is unnecessary and oppressive, and is offensive to the due process clause of the Constitution, insofar as the same is in restraint of trade and because a provision therein is inadequate to provide the public with a comprehensible basis to determine whether or not they have committed a violation.81 (Emphasis supplied) Petitioner refers to Sections 4(f),82 4(i),83 5(w),84 11,85 22,86 32,87 46,88 and 5289 as the provisions that suppress the trade of milk and, thus, violate the due process clause of the Constitution. The framers of the constitution were well aware that trade must be subjected to some form of regulation for the public good. Public interest must be upheld over business interests.90 In Pest Management Associationof the Philippines v. Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority,91 it was held thus: x x x Furthermore, as held in Association of Philippine Coconut Desiccators v. Philippine Coconut Authority,despite the fact that "our present Constitution enshrines free enterprise as a policy, it nonetheless reserves to the government the power to intervene whenever necessary to promote the general welfare." There can be no question that the unregulated use or proliferation of pesticides would be hazardous to our environment. Thus, in the aforecited case, the Court declared that "free enterprise does not call for removal of ‘protective regulations’." x x x It must be clearly explained and proven by competent evidence just exactly how such
  • 284. protective regulation would result in the restraint of trade. [Emphasis and underscoring supplied] In this case, petitioner failed to show that the proscription of milk manufacturers’ participation in any policymaking body (Section 4(i)), classes and seminars for women and children (Section 22); the giving of assistance, support and logistics or training (Section 32); and the giving of donations (Section 52) would unreasonably hamper the trade of breastmilk substitutes. Petitioner has not established that the proscribed activities are indispensable to the trade of breastmilk substitutes. Petitioner failed to demonstrate that the aforementioned provisions of the RIRR are unreasonable and oppressive for being in restraint of trade. Petitioner also failed to convince the Court that Section 5(w) of the RIRR is unreasonable and oppressive. Said section provides for the definition of the term "milk company," to wit: SECTION 5 x x x. (w) "Milk Company" shall refer to the owner, manufacturer, distributor of infant formula, follow-up milk, milk formula, milk supplement, breastmilk substitute or replacement, or by any other description of such nature, including their representatives who promote or otherwise advance their commercial interests in marketing those products; On the other hand, Section 4 of the Milk Code provides: (d) "Distributor" means a person, corporation or any other entity in the public or private sector engaged in the business (whether directly or indirectly) of marketing at the wholesale or retail level a product within the scope of this Code. A "primary distributor" is a manufacturer's sales agent, representative, national distributor or broker. x x x x (j) "Manufacturer" means a corporation or other entity in the public or private sector engaged in the business or function (whether directly or indirectly or through an agent or and entity controlled by or under contract with it) of manufacturing a products within the scope of this Code. Notably, the definition in the RIRR merely merged together under the term "milk company" the entities defined separately under the Milk Code as "distributor" and "manufacturer." The RIRR also enumerated in Section 5(w) the products manufactured or distributed by an entity that would qualify it as a "milk company," whereas in the Milk Code, what is used is the phrase "products within the scope of this Code." Those are the only differences between the definitions given in the Milk Code and the definition as re- stated in the RIRR.
  • 285. Since all the regulatory provisions under the Milk Code apply equally to both manufacturers and distributors, the Court sees no harm in the RIRR providing for just one term to encompass both entities. The definition of "milk company" in the RIRR and the definitions of "distributor" and "manufacturer" provided for under the Milk Code are practically the same. The Court is not convinced that the definition of "milk company" provided in the RIRR would bring about any change in the treatment or regulation of "distributors" and "manufacturers" of breastmilk substitutes, as defined under the Milk Code. Except Sections 4(f), 11 and 46, the rest of the provisions of the RIRR are in consonance with the objective, purpose and intent of the Milk Code, constituting reasonable regulation of an industry which affects public health and welfare and, as such, the rest of the RIRR do not constitute illegal restraint of trade nor are they violative of the due process clause of the Constitution. WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Sections 4(f), 11 and 46 of Administrative Order No. 2006-0012 dated May 12, 2006 are declared NULL and VOID for being ultra vires. The Department of Health and respondents are PROHIBITED from implementing said provisions. The Temporary Restraining Order issued on August 15, 2006 is LIFTED insofar as the rest of the provisions of Administrative Order No. 2006-0012 is concerned. SO ORDERED.
  • 286. G.R. No. 110526 February 10, 1998 ASSOCIATION OF PHILIPPINE COCONUT DESICCATORS, petitioner, vs. PHILIPPINE COCONUT AUTHORITY, respondent. MENDOZA, J.: At issue in this case is the validity of a resolution, dated March 24, 1993, of the Philippine Coconut Authority in which it declares that it will no longer require those wishing to engage in coconut processing to apply to it for a license or permit as a condition for engaging in such business. Petitioner Association of Philippine Coconut Desiccators (hereafter referred to as APCD) brought this suit forcertiorari and mandamus against respondent Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to invalidate the latter's Board Resolution No. 018-93 and the certificates of registration issued under it on the ground that the resolution in question is beyond the power of the PCA to adopt, and to compel said administrative agency to comply instead with the mandatory provisions of statutes regulating the desiccated coconut industry, in particular, and the coconut industry, in general. As disclosed by the parties' pleadings, the facts are as follows: On November 5, 1992, seven desiccated coconut processing companies belonging to the APCD brought suit in the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region in Makati, Metro Manila, to enjoin the PCA from issuing permits to certain applicants for the establishment of new desiccated coconut processing plants. Petitioner alleged that the issuance of licenses to the applicants would violate PCA's Administrative Order No. 02, series of 1991, as the applicants were seeking permits to operate in areas considered "congested" under the administrative order. 1 On November 6, 1992, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order and, on November 25, 1992, a writ of preliminary injunction, enjoining the PCA from processing and issuing licenses to Primex Products, Inc., Coco Manila, Superstar (Candelaria) and Superstar (Davao) upon the posting of a bond in the amount of P100,000.00.2 Subsequently and while the case was pending in the Regional Trial Court, the Governing Board of the PCA issued on March 24, 1993 Resolution No. 018-93, providing for the withdrawal of the Philippine Coconut Authority from all regulation of the coconut product processing industry. While it continues the registration of coconut product processors, the registration would be limited to the "monitoring" of their volumes of production and administration of quality standards. The full text of the resolution reads:
  • 287. RESOLUTION NO. 018-93 POLICY DECLARATION DEREGULATING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW COCONUT PROCESSING PLANTS WHEREAS, it is the policy of the State to promote free enterprise unhampered by protective regulations and unnecessary bureaucratic red tapes; WHEREAS, the deregulation of certain sectors of the coconut industry, such as marketing of coconut oils pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1960, the lifting of export and commodity clearances under Executive Order No. 1016, and relaxation of regulated capacity for the desiccated coconut sector pursuant to Presidential Memorandum of February 11, 1988, has become a centerpiece of the present dispensation; WHEREAS, the issuance of permits or licenses prior to business operation is a form of regulation which is not provided in the charter of nor included among the powers of the PCA; WHEREAS, the Governing Board of PCA has determined to follow and further support the deregulation policy and effort of the government to promote free enterprise; NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that, henceforth, PCA shall no longer require any coconut oil mill, coconut oil refinery, coconut desiccator, coconut product processor/factory, coconut fiber plant or any similar coconut processing plant to apply with PCA and the latter shall no longer issue any form of license or permit as condition prior to establishment or operation of such mills or plants; RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the PCA shall limit itself only to simply registering the aforementioned coconut product processors for the purpose of monitoring their volumes of production, administration of quality standards with the corresponding service fees/charges. ADOPTED this 24th day of March 1993, at Quezon City. 3 The PCA then proceeded to issue "certificates of registration" to those wishing to operate desiccated coconut processing plants, prompting petitioner to appeal to the Office of the President of the Philippines on April 26, 1993 not to approve the resolution in question. Despite follow-up letters sent on May 25 and June 2, 1993, petitioner received no reply from the Office of the President. The "certificates of registration" issued in the meantime by the PCA has enabled a number of new coconut mills to operate. Hence this petition. Petitioner alleges:
  • 288. I RESPONDENT PCA'S BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 018-93 IS NULL AND VOID FOR BEING AN UNDUE EXERCISE OF LEGISLATIVE POWER BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE BODY. II ASIDE FROM BEING ULTRA-VIRES, BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 018-93 IS WITHOUT ANY BASIS, ARBITRARY, UNREASONABLE AND THEREFORE IN VIOLATION OF SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS OF LAW. III IN PASSING BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 018-93, RESPONDENT PCA VIOLATED THE PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS REQUIREMENT OF CONSULTATION PROVIDED IN PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1644, EXECUTIVEORDER NO. 826 AND PCA ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 002, SERIES OF 1991. On the other hand, in addition to answering petitioner's arguments, respondent PCA alleges that this petition should be denied on the ground that petitioner has a pending appeal before the Office of the President. Respondent accuses petitioner of forum-shopping in filing this petition and of failing to exhaust available administrative remedies before coming to this Court. Respondent anchors its argument on the general rule that one who brings an action under Rule 65 must show that one has no appeal nor any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. I. The rule of requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies before a party may seek judicial review, so strenuously urged by the Solicitor General on behalf of respondent, has obviously no application here. The resolution in question was issued by the PCA in the exercise of its rule-making or legislative power. However, only judicial review of decisions of administrative agencies made in the exercise of their quasi- judicial function is subject to the exhaustion doctrine. The exhaustion doctrine stands as a bar to an action which is not yet complete 4 and it is clear, in the case at bar, that after its promulgation the resolution of the PCA abandoning regulation of the desiccated coconut industry became effective. To be sure, the PCA is under the direct supervision of the President of the Philippines but there is nothing in P.D. No. 232, P.D. No. 961, P.D. No. 1468 and P.D. No. 1644 defining the powers and functions of the PCA which requires rules and regulations issued by it to be approved by the President before they become effective. In any event, although the APCD has appealed the resolution in question to the Office of the President, considering the fact that two months after they had sent their first letter on April 26, 1993 they still had
  • 289. to hear from the President's office, meanwhile respondent PCA was issuing certificates of registration indiscriminately to new coconut millers, we hold that petitioner was justified in filing this case on June 25, 1993. 5 Indeed, after writing the Office of the President on April 26, 1993 6 petitioner sent inquiries to that office not once, but twice, on May 26, 1993 7 and on June 2, 1993, 8 but petitioner did not receive any reply. II. We now turn to the merit of the present petition. The Philippine Coconut Authority was originally created by P.D. 232 on June 30, 1973, to take over the powers and functions of the Coconut Coordinating Council, the Philippine Coconut Administration and the Philippine Coconut Research Institute. On June 11, 1978, by P.D. No. 1468, it was made "an independent public corporation . . . directly reporting to, and supervised by, the President of the Philippines," 9 and charged with carrying out the State's policy "to promote the rapid integrated development and growth of the coconut and other palm oil industry in all its aspects and to ensure that the coconut farmers become direct participants in, and beneficiaries of, such development and growth." 10 through a regulatory scheme set up by law. 11 Through this scheme, the government, on August 28, 1982, temporarily prohibited the opening of new coconut processing plants and, four months later, phased out some of the existing ones in view of overproduction in the coconut industry which resulted in cut-throat competition, underselling and smuggling of poor quality products and ultimately in the decline of the export performance of coconut- based commodities. The establishment of new plants could be authorized only upon determination by the PCA of the existence of certain economic conditions and the approval of the President of the Philippines. Thus, Executive Order No. 826, dated August 28, 1982, provided: Sec. 1. Prohibition. — Except as herein provided, no government agency or instrumentality shall hereafter authorize, approve or grant any permit or license for the establishment or operation of new desiccated coconut processing plants, including the importation of machinery or equipment for the purpose. In the event of a need to establish a new plant, or expand the capacity, relocate or upgrade the efficiencies of any existing desiccated plant, the Philippine Coconut Authority may, upon proper determination of such need and evaluation of the condition relating to: a. the existing market demand; b. the production capacity prevailing in the country or locality; c. the level and flow of raw materials; and d. other circumstances which may affect the growth or viability of the industry concerned,
  • 290. authorize or grant the application for, the establishment or expansion of capacity, relocation or upgrading of efficiencies of such desiccated coconut processing plant, subject to the approval of the President. On December 6, 1982, a phase-out of some of the existing plants was ordered by the government after finding that "a mere freeze in the present capacity of existing plants will not afford a viable solution to the problem considering that the total available limited market is not adequate to support all the existing processing plants, making it imperative to reduce the number of existing processing plants."12 Accordingly, it was ordered: 13 Sec. 1. The Philippine Coconut Authority is hereby ordered to take such action as may be necessary to reduce the number of existing desiccated coconut processing plants to a level which will insure the survival of the remaining plants. The Authority is hereby directed to determine which of the existing processing plants should be phased out and to enter into appropriate contracts with such plants for the above purpose. It was only on October 23, 1987 when the PCA adopted Resolution No. 058-87, authorizing the establishment and operation of additional DCN plants, in view of the increased demand for desiccated coconut products in the world's markets, particularly in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. Even then, the opening of new plants was made subject to "such implementing guidelines to be set forth by the Authority" and "subject to the final approval of the President." The guidelines promulgated by the PCA, as embodied in Administrative Order No. 002, series of 1991, inter aliaauthorized the opening of new plants in "non-congested areas only as declared by the PCA" and subject to compliance by applicants with "all procedures and requirements for registration under Administrative Order No. 003, series of 1981 and this Order." In addition, as the opening of new plants was premised on the increased global demand for desiccated coconut products, the new entrants were required to submit sworn statements of the names and addresses of prospective foreign buyers. This form of "deregulation" was approved by President Aquino in her memorandum, dated February 11, 1988, to the PCA. Affirming the regulatory scheme, the President stated in her memorandum: It appears that pursuant to Executive Order No. 826 providing measures for the protection of the Desiccated Coconut Industry, the Philippine Coconut Authority evaluated the conditions relating to: (a) the existing market demands; (b) the production capacity prevailing in the country or locality; (c) the level and flow of raw materials; and (d) other circumstances which may affect the growth or viability of the industry concerned and that the result of such evaluation favored the expansion of production and market of desiccated coconut products.
  • 291. In view hereof and the favorable recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture, the deregulation of the Desiccated Coconut Industry as recommended in Resolution No. 058-87 adopted by the PCA Governing Board on October 28, 1987 (sic) is hereby approved.14 These measures — the restriction in 1982 on entry into the field, the reduction the same year of the number of the existing coconut mills and then the lifting of the restrictions in 1987 — were adopted within the framework of regulation as established by law "to promote the rapid integrated development and growth of the coconut and other palm oil industry in all its aspects and to ensure that the coconut farmers become direct participants in, and beneficiaries of, such development and growth." 15 Contrary to the assertion in the dissent, the power given to the Philippine Coconut Authority — and before it to the Philippine Coconut Administration — "to formulate and adopt a general program of development for the coconut and other palm oils industry" 16 is not a roving commission to adopt any program deemed necessary to promote the development of the coconut and other palm oils industry, but one to be exercised in the context of this regulatory structure. In plain disregard of this legislative purpose, the PCA adopted on March 24, 1993 the questioned resolution which allows not only the indiscriminate opening of new coconut processing plants but the virtual dismantling of the regulatory infrastructure whereby, forsaking controls theretofore placed in its keeping, the PCA limits its function to the innocuous one of "monitoring" compliance by coconut millers with quality standards and volumes of production. In effect, the PCA would simply be compiling statistical data on these matters, but in case of violations of standards there would be nothing much it would do. The field would be left without an umpire who would retire to the bleachers to become a mere spectator. As the PCA provided in its Resolution No. 018-93: NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that, henceforth, PCA shall no longer require any coconut oil mill, coconut oil refinery, coconut desiccator, coconut product processor/factory, coconut fiber plant or any similar coconut processing plant to apply with PCA and the latter shall no longer issue any form of license or permit as condition prior to establishment or operation of such mills or plants; RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the PCA shall limit itself only to simply registering the aforementioned coconut product processors for the purpose of monitoring their volumes of production, administration of quality standards with the corresponding service fees/charges. The issue is not whether the PCA has the power to adopt this resolution to carry out its mandate under the law "to promote the accelerated growth and development of the coconut and other palm oil industry."17 The issue rather is whether it can renounce the power to regulate implicit in the law creating it for that is what the resolution in question actually is.
  • 292. Under Art. II, § 3(a) of the Revised Coconut Code (P.D. No. 1468), the role of the PCA is "To formulate and adopt a general program of development for the coconut and other palm oil industry in all its aspects." By limiting the purpose of registration to merely "monitoring volumes of production [and] administration of quality standards" of coconut processing plants, the PCA in effect abdicates its role and leaves it almost completely to market forces how the coconut industry will develop. Art. II, § 3 of P.D. No. 1468 further requires the PCA: (h) To regulate the marketing and the exportation of copra and its by-products by establishing standards for domestic trade and export and, thereafter, to conduct an inspection of all copra and its by-products proposed for export to determine if they conform to the standards established; Instead of determining the qualifications of market players and preventing the entry into the field of those who are unfit, the PCA now relies entirely on competition — with all its wastefulness and inefficiency — to do the weeding out, in its naive belief in survival of the fittest. The result can very well be a repeat of 1982 when free enterprise degenerated into a "free-for-all," resulting in cut-throat competition, underselling, the production of inferior products and the like, which badly affected the foreign trade performance of the coconut industry. Indeed, by repudiating its role in the regulatory scheme, the PCA has put at risk other statutory provisions, particularly those of P.D. No. 1644, to wit: Sec. 1. The Philippine Coconut Authority shall have full power and authority to regulate the marketing and export of copra, coconut oil and their by-products, in furtherance of the steps being taken to rationalize the coconut oil milling industry. Sec. 2. In the exercise of its powers under Section 1 hereof, the Philippine Coconut Authority may initiate and implement such measures as may be necessary to attain the rationalization of the coconut oil milling industry, including, but not limited to, the following measures: (a) Imposition of floor and/or ceiling prices for all exports of copra, coconut oil and their by- products; (b) Prescription of quality standards; (c) Establishment of maximum quantities for particular periods and particular markets; (d) Inspection and survey of export shipments through an independent international superintendent or surveyor.
  • 293. In the exercise of its powers hereunder, the Philippine Coconut Authority shall consult with, and be guided by, the recommendation of the coconut farmers, through corporations owned or controlled by them through the Coconut Industry Investment Fund and the private corporation authorized to be organized under Letter of Instructions No. 926. and the Revised Coconut Code (P.D. No. 1468), Art. II, § 3, to wit: (m) Except in respect of entities owned or controlled by the Government or by the coconut farmers under Sections 9 and 10, Article III hereof, the Authority shall have full power and authority to regulate the production, distribution and utilization of all subsidized coconut-based products, and to require the submission of such reports or documents as may be deemed necessary by the Authority to ascertain whether the levy payments and/or subsidy claims are due and correct and whether the subsidized products are distributed among, and utilized by, the consumers authorized by the Authority. The dissent seems to be saying that in the same way that restrictions on entry into the field were imposed in 1982 and then relaxed in 1987, they can be totally lifted now without prejudice to reimposing them in the future should it become necessary to do so. There is really no renunciation of the power to regulate, it is claimed. Trimming down of PCA's function to registration is not an abdication of the power to regulate but is regulation itself. But how can this be done when, under Resolution No. 018-93, the PCA no longer requires a license as condition for the establishment or operation of a plant? If a number of processing firms go to areas which are already congested, the PCA cannot stop them from doing so. If there is overproduction, the PCA cannot order a cut back in their production. This is because the licensing system is the mechanism for regulation. Without it the PCA will not be able to regulate coconut plants or mills. In the first "whereas" clause of the questioned resolution as set out above, the PCA invokes a policy of free enterprise that is "unhampered by protective regulations and unnecessary bureaucratic red tape" as justification for abolishing the licensing system. There can be no quarrel with the elimination of "unnecessary red tape." That is within the power of the PCA to do and indeed it should eliminate red tape. Its success in doing so will be applauded. But free enterprise does not call for removal of "protective regulations." Our Constitutions, beginning with the 1935 document, have repudiated laissez-faire as an economic principle.18 Although the present Constitution enshrines free enterprise as a policy, 19 it nonetheless reserves to the government the power to intervene whenever necessary to promote the general welfare. This is clear from the following provisions of Art. XII of the Constitution which, so far as pertinent, state:
  • 294. Sec. 6. . . . Individuals and private groups, including corporations, cooperatives, and similar collective organizations, shall have the right to own, establish, and operate economic enterprises, subject to the duty of the State to promote distributive justice and to intervene when the common good so demands. Sec. 19. The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed. (Emphasis added). At all events, any change in policy must be made by the legislative department of the government. The regulatory system has been set up by law. It is beyond the power of an administrative agency to dismantle it. Indeed, petitioner charges the PCA of seeking to render moot a case filed by some of its members questioning the grant of licenses to certain parties by adopting the resolution in question. It is alleged that members of petitioner complained to the court that the PCA had authorized the establishment and operation of new plants in areas which were already crowded, in violation of its Administrative Order No. 002, series of 1991. In response, the Regional Trial Court issued a writ of preliminary injunction, enjoining the PCA from issuing licenses to the private respondent in that case. These allegations of petitioner have not been denied here. It would thus seem that instead of defending its decision to allow new entrants into the field against petitioner's claim that the PCA decision violated the guidelines in Administrative Order No. 002, series of 1991, the PCA adopted the resolution in question to render the case moot. In so doing, the PCA abdicated its function of regulation and left the field to untrammeled competition that is likely to resurrect the evils of cut-throat competition, underselling and overproduction which in 1982 required the temporary closing of the field to new players in order to save the industry. The PCA cannot rely on the memorandum of then President Aquino for authority to adopt the resolution in question. As already stated, what President Aquino approved in 1988 was the establishment and operation of new DCN plants subject to the guidelines to be drawn by the PCA.20 In the first place, she could not have intended to amend the several laws already mentioned, which set up the regulatory system, by a mere memoranda to the PCA. In the second place, even if that had been her intention, her act would be without effect considering that, when she issued the memorandum in question on February 11, 1988, she was no longer vested with legislative authority. 21 WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. PCA Resolution No. 018-93 and all certificates of registration issued under it are hereby declared NULL and VOID for having been issued in excess of the power of the Philippine Coconut Authority to adopt or issue. SO ORDERED.
  • 295. G.R. No. 151445 April 11, 2002 ARTHUR D. LIM and PAULINO R. ERSANDO, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY as alter ego of HER EXCELLENCEY GLORIA MACAPAGAL- ARROYO, and HONORABLE ANGELO REYES in his capacity as Secretary of National Defense, respondents. ---------------------------------------- SANLAKAS and PARTIDO NG MANGGAGAWA, petitioners-intervenors, vs. GLORIA MACAPAGA-ARROYO, ALBERTO ROMULO, ANGELO REYES, respondents. DISSENTING OPINION SEPARATE OPINION DE LEON, JR., J.: This case involves a petition for certiorari and prohibition as well as a petition-in-intervention, praying that respondents be restrained from proceeding with the so-called "Balikatan 02-1" and that after due notice and hearing, that judgment be rendered issuing a permanent writ of injunction and/or prohibition against the deployment of U.S. troops in Basilan and Mindanao for being illegal and in violation of the Constitution. The facts are as follows: Beginning January of this year 2002, personnel from the armed forces of the United States of America started arriving in Mindanao to take part, in conjunction with the Philippine military, in "Balikatan 02-1." These so-called "Balikatan" exercises are the largest combined training operations involving Filipino and American troops. In theory, they are a simulation of joint military maneuvers pursuant to the Mutual Defense Treaty,1 a bilateral defense agreement entered into by the Philippines and the United States in 1951. Prior to the year 2002, the last "Balikatan" was held in 1995. This was due to the paucity of any formal agreement relative to the treatment of United States personnel visiting the Philippines. In the meantime,
  • 296. the respective governments of the two countries agreed to hold joint exercises on a reduced scale. The lack of consensus was eventually cured when the two nations concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (V FA) in 1999. The entry of American troops into Philippine soil is proximately rooted in the international anti-terrorism campaign declared by President George W. Bush in reaction to the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001. On that day, three (3) commercial aircrafts were hijacked, flown and smashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. by terrorists with alleged links to the al-Qaeda ("the Base"), a Muslim extremist organization headed by the infamous Osama bin Laden. Of no comparable historical parallels, these acts caused billions of dollars worth of destruction of property and incalculable loss of hundreds of lives. On February 1, 2002, petitioners Arthur D. Lim and Paulino P. Ersando filed this petition for certiorari and prohibition, attacking the constitutionality of the joint exercise.2 They were joined subsequently by SANLAKAS and PARTIDO NG MANGGAGAWA, both party-Iist organizations, who filed a petition-in- intervention on February 11, 2002. Lim and Ersando filed suit in their capacities as citizens, lawyers and taxpayers. SANLAKAS and PARTIDO, on the other hand, aver that certain members of their organization are residents of Zamboanga and Sulu, and hence will be directly affected by the operations being conducted in Mindanao. They likewise pray for a relaxation on the rules relative to locus standi citing the unprecedented importance of the issue involved. On February 71 2002 the Senate conducted a hearing on the "Balikatan" exercise wherein Vice-President Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr., who is concurrently Secretary of Foreign. Affairs, presented the Draft Terms of Reference (TOR).3 Five days later, he approved the TOR, which we quote hereunder: I. POLICY LEVEL 1. The Exercise shall be consistent with the Philippine Constitution and all its activities shall be in consonance with the laws of the land and the provisions of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). 2. The conduct of this training Exercise is in accordance with pertinent United Nations resolutions against global terrorism as understood by the respective parties. 3. No permanent US basing and support facilities shall be established. Temporary structures such as those for troop billeting, classroom instruction and messing may be set up for use by RP and US Forces during the Exercise.
  • 297. 4. The Exercise shall be implemented jointly by RP and US Exercise Co-Directors under the authority of the Chief of Staff, AFP. In no instance will US Forces operate independently during field training exercises (FTX). AFP and US Unit Commanders will retain command over their respective forces under the overall authority of the Exercise Co-Directors. RP and US participants shall comply with operational instructions of the AFP during the FTX. 5. The exercise shall be conducted and completed within a period of not more than six months, with the projected participation of 660 US personnel and 3,800 RP Forces. The Chief of Staff, AFP shall direct the Exercise Co-Directors to wind up and terminate the Exercise and other activities within the six month Exercise period. 6. The Exercise is a mutual counter-terrorism advising, assisting and training Exercise relative to Philippine efforts against the ASG, and will be conducted on the Island of Basilan. Further advising, assisting and training exercises shall be conducted in Malagutay and the Zamboanga area. Related activities in Cebu will be for support of the Exercise. 7. Only 160 US Forces organized in 12-man Special Forces Teams shall be deployed with AFP field, commanders. The US teams shall remain at the Battalion Headquarters and, when approved, Company Tactical headquarters where they can observe and assess the performance of the AFP Forces. 8. US exercise participants shall not engage in combat, without prejudice to their right of self- defense. 9. These terms of Reference are for purposes of this Exercise only and do not create additional legal obligations between the US Government and the Republic of the Philippines. II. EXERCISE LEVEL 1. TRAINING a. The Exercise shall involve the conduct of mutual military assisting, advising and training of RP and US Forces with the primary objective of enhancing the operational capabilities of both forces to combat terrorism. b. At no time shall US Forces operate independently within RP territory. c. Flight plans of all aircraft involved in the exercise will comply with the local air traffic regulations.
  • 298. 2. ADMINISTRATION & LOGISTICS a. RP and US participants shall be given a country and area briefing at the start of the Exercise. This briefing shall acquaint US Forces on the culture and sensitivities of the Filipinos and the provisions of the VF A. The briefing shall also promote the full cooperation on the part of the RP and US participants for the successful conduct of the Exercise. b. RP and US participating forces may share, in accordance with their respective laws and regulations, in the use of their resources, equipment and other assets. They will use their respective logistics channels. c. Medical evaluation shall be jointly planned and executed utilizing RP and US assets and resources. d. Legal liaison officers from each respective party shall be appointed by the Exercise Directors. 3. PUBLIC AFFAIRS a. Combined RP-US Information Bureaus shall be established at the Exercise Directorate in Zamboanga City and at GHQ, AFP in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. b. Local media relations will be the concern of the AFP and all public affairs guidelines shall be jointly developed by RP and US Forces. c. Socio-Economic Assistance Projects shall be planned and executed jointly by RP and US Forces in accordance with their respective laws and regulations, and in consultation with community and local government officials. Contemporaneously, Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Minerva Jean A. Falcon and United States Charge d' Affaires Robert Fitts signed the Agreed Minutes of the discussion between the Vice- President and Assistant Secretary Kelly.4 Petitioners Lim and Ersando present the following arguments: I THE PHILIPPINES AND THE UNITED STATES SIGNED THE MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY (MDT) in 1951 TO PROVIDE MUTUAL MILITARY ASSIST ANCE IN ACCORDANCEWITH THE 'CONSTITUTIONAL
  • 299. PROCESSE-S' OF EACH COUNTRY ONLY IN THE CASE OF AN ARMED ATTACK BY AN EXTERNAL AGGRESSOR, MEANING A THIRD COUNTRY AGAINST ONE OF THEM. BY NO STRETCH OF THE IMAGINA TION CAN IT BE SAID THAT THE ABU SAYYAF BANDITS IN BASILAN CONSTITUTE AN EXTERNAL ARMED FORCE THAT HAS SUBJECT THE PHILIPPINES TO AN ARMED EXTERNAL ATTACK TO WARRANT U.S. MILITARY ASSISTANCE UNDER THE MDT OF 1951. II NEITHER DOES THE VFA OF 1999 AUTHORIZE AMERICAN SOLDIERS TO ENGAGE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS IN PHILIPPINE TERRITORY, NOT EVEN TO FIRE BACK "IF FIRED UPON". Substantially the same points are advanced by petitioners SANLAKAS and PARTIDO. In his Comment, the Solicitor General points to infirmities in the petitions regarding, inter alia, Lim and Ersando's standing to file suit, the prematurity of the action, as well as the impropriety of availing of certiorari to ascertain a question of fact. Anent their locus standi, the Solicitor General argues that first, they may not file suit in their capacities as, taxpayers inasmuch as it has not been shown that "Balikatan 02-1 " involves the exercise of Congress' taxing or spending powers. Second, their being lawyers does not invest them with sufficient personality to initiate the case, citing our ruling in Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora.5 Third, Lim and Ersando have failed to demonstrate the requisite showing of direct personal injury. We agree. It is also contended that the petitioners are indulging in speculation. The Solicitor General is of the view that since the Terms of Reference are clear as to the extent and duration of "Balikatan 02-1," the issues raised by petitioners are premature, as they are based only on a fear of future violation of the Terms of Reference. Even petitioners' resort to a special civil action for certiorari is assailed on the ground that the writ may only issue on the basis of established facts. Apart from these threshold issues, the Solicitor General claims that there is actually no question of constitutionality involved. The true object of the instant suit, it is said, is to obtain an interpretation of the V FA. The Solicitor General asks that we accord due deference to the executive determination that "Balikatan 02-1" is covered by the VFA, considering the President's monopoly in the field of foreign relations and her role as commander-in-chief of the Philippine armed forces. Given the primordial importance of the issue involved, it will suffice to reiterate our view on this point in a related case: Notwithstanding, in view of the paramount importance and the constitutional significance of the issues raised in the petitions, this Court, in the exercise of its sound discretion,
  • 300. brushes aside the procedural barrier and takes cognizance of the petitions, as we have done in the early Emergency Powers Cases, where we had occasion to rule: 'x x x ordinary citizens and taxpayers were allowed to question the constitutionality of several executive orders issued by President Quirino although they were involving only an indirect and general interest shared in common with the public. The Court dismissed the objection that they were not proper parties and ruled that 'transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of procedure.' We have since then applied the exception in many other cases. [citation omitted] This principle was reiterated in the subsequent cases of Gonzales vs. COMELEC, Daza vs. Singson, and Basco vs. Phil, Amusement and Gaming Corporation, where we emphatically held: Considering however the importance to the public of the case at bar, and in keeping with the Court's duty, under the 1987 Constitution, to determine whether or not the other branches of the government have kept themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws that they have not abused the discretion given to them, the Court has brushed aside technicalities of procedure and has taken cognizance of this petition. xxx' Again, in the more recent case of Kilosbayan vs. Guingona, Jr., this Court ruled that in cases of transcendental importance, the Court may relax the standing requirements and allow a suit to prosper even where there is no direct injury to the party claiming the right of judicial review. Although courts generally avoid having to decide a constitutional question ba