Constitutional Law, Political Law

Municipality of San Juan v. CA G.R. No. 125183 September 29, 1997 Presumption of Validity of a Law

FACTS:

In 1978, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Proc. No. 1716 reserving for Municipal Government Center Site Purposes certain parcels of land of the public domain located in San Juan, Metro Manila.

In 1986, President Corazon Aquino took the reigns of power under a revolutionary government. On March 24, 1986, she issued her historic Proclamation No. 3, promulgating the Provisional Constitution, or more popularly referred to as the Freedom Constitution. 

Under Article II, Section 1 of the Freedom Constitution, the President shall continue to exercise legislative power until a legislature is elected and convened under a new constitution. 

President Corazon Aquino issued Proclamation No. 164 which amended the former Proclamation by excluding from its operation the parcels of land not being utilized for government center site purposes but actually occupied for residential purposes open to disposition under the provisions of the Public Land Act.

Then came the ratification of the draft constitution, to be known later as the 1987 Constitution. When Congress was convened on July 26, 1987, President Aquino lost this legislative power under the Freedom Constitution. 

Proclamation No. 164, amending Proclamation No. 1716 was issued on October 6, 1987 when legislative power was already solely on Congress.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Proclamation No. 164 is valid.

RULING:

Although quite lamentably, this matter has escaped the attention of petitioner as well as the courts before which this case has already passed through, this Court cannot help noticing this basic flaw in the issuance of Proclamation No. 164. 

Because this unauthorized act by the then president constitutes a direct derogation of the most basic principle in the separation of powers between the three branches of government enshrined in our Constitution, we cannot simply close our eyes and rely upon the principle of the presumption of validity of a law.

There is a long standing principle that every statute is presumed to be valid. However, this rests upon the premise that the statute was duly enacted by legislature. This presumption cannot apply when there is clear usurpation of legislative power by the executive branch. For this Court to allow such disregard of the most basic of all constitutional principles by reason of the doctrine of presumption of validity of a law would be to turn its back to its sacred duty to uphold and defend the Constitution. 

Thus, also, it is in the discharge of this task that we take this exception from the Court’s usual practice of not entertaining constitutional questions unless they are specifically raised, insisted upon, and adequately argued.

Proclamation is hereby declared NULL and VOID.

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