Constitutional Law, Political Law

NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW

Excerpts from the January-June 2018 Decisions of the Supreme Court 

Compiled by 

CARLO L. CRUZ 

State Immunity 

Estoppel does not also lie against the government or any of its agencies arising from unauthorized or illegal acts of public officers. Hence, we cannot hold petitioners estopped from invoking their immunity from suit on account of having raised it only for the first time on appeal. (The City of Bacolod v. Phuture Vision Co., Inc., G.R. No. 190289, January 17, 2018) 

No consent to be sued and be liable for damages can thus be implied from the mere conferment and exercise of the power to issue business permits and licences. Accordingly, there is merit in petitioners’ argument that they cannot be sued by respondent since the City’s consent had not been secured for this purpose. This is notwithstanding petitioners’ failure to raise this exculpatory defense at the first instance before the trial court or even before the appellate court. (The City of Bacolod v. Phuture Vision Co., Inc., G.R. No. 190289, January 17, 2018) 

[Note: It must be emphasized that the nature of bingo operations is a form of gambling; thus, its operation is a mere privilege which could not only be regulated, but may also very well be revoked or closed down when public interests so require. In this jurisdiction, we adhere to the principle that injury alone does not give respondent the right to recover damages, but it must also have a right of action for the legal wrong inflicted by petitioners. In order that the law will give redress for an act causing damage, there must be damnum et injuria; that act must be not only hurtful, but wrongful. (The City of Bacolod v. Phuture Vision Co., Inc., G.R. No. 190289, January 17, 2018)] 

Solco theorizes that the CA necessarily held the City Government of Makati liable for the return of the proceeds of the tax sale to him when it nullified the tax sale proceedings. According to Solco, this could not be done without violating the principle of the State’s immunity from suit as the payment he made in the tax sale already formed part of the public funds of the State as taxes, having been paid to answer a delinquent tax, and as such cannot be withdrawn therefrom without the proper appropriation law. Solco pointed out, in addition, the importance of taxes as the lifeblood of the government. 

As expressly stated in Section 267, the amount deposited shall be paid to the purchaser at the auction sale if the deed is declared invalid; otherwise, it shall be returned to the depositor. In fine, such deposit is meant to reimburse the purchaser of the amount he had paid at the tax sale should the court declare the sale invalid. xxx. With this, there is an assurance that the public funds shall not be made liable whatever may be the outcome of the case. Thus, contrary to Solco’s contention, the City Government of Makati is not an indispensable party in this annulment of title/land registration case, wherein the validity of the tax sale upon which the applicant’s claim is grounded, is in issue. (Solco v. Megaworld Corporation, G.R. No. 213669, March 5, 2018) 

Separation of Powers 

Verily, this Court cannot – in the guise of interpretation – modify the explicit language of R.A. No. 9903 in waiving the collection of accrued penalties to also include claims for refund. It obviously violates the Trias Politica Principle entrenched in the very fabric of democracy itself. (H. Villarica Pawnshop, Inc. v. Social Security Commission, G.R. No. 228087, January 24, 2018) 

In other words, the Court cannot review the rules promulgated by Congress in the absence of any constitutional violation. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

Construing the full discretionary power granted to the Congress in promulgating its rules, the Court, in the case of Spouses Dela Paz (Ret.) v. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, et al., explained that the limitation of this unrestricted power deals only with the imperatives of quorum, voting and publication. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

The Court’s power of review, as provided under Section 18, Article VII, does not empower the Court to advise, nor dictate its own judgment upon the President, as to which and how these military powers should be exercised. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

In the same vein, Ordinance No. 092-2000 reflects the wisdom of the Sangguniang Panlungsod as elected representatives of the people of Davao City. In local affairs, acts of local officials must be upheld when it is clear that these were performed squarely within the statutory authority granted to them and in the exercise of their sound discretion. (Evasco v. Montanez, G.R. No. 199172, February 21, 2018) 

Without a law to justify its action, the issuance of DOJ Circular No. 41 is an unauthorized act of the DOJ of empowering itself under the pretext of dire exigency or urgent necessity. This action runs afoul the separation of powers between the three branches of the government and cannot be upheld. Even the Supreme Court, in the exercise of its power to promulgate rules is limited in that the same shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. (Genuino v. de Lima, G.R. No. 197930; Arroyo v. de Lima, G.R. No. 199034; Arroyo v. de Lima, G.R. No. 199046, April 17, 2018) 

Delegation of Power 

Local Governments 

Republic Act No. 4354 otherwise known as the Revised Charter of the City of Davao (Davao City Charter), enacted on June 19, 1965, vested the local Sangguniang Panlungsod with the legislative power to regulate, prohibit, and fix license fees for the display, construction, and maintenance of billboards and similar structures. With the aforementioned law, Congress expressly granted the Davao City government, through the Sangguniang Panlungsod, police power to regulate billboard structures within its territorial jurisdiction. (Evasco v. Montañez, G.R. No. 199172, February 21, 2018) 

[Note: As stated earlier, the power to regulate billboards within its territorial jurisdiction has been delegated by Congress to the city government via the Davao City Charter. This direct and specific grant takes precedence over requirements set forth in another law of general application, in this case the National Building Code. Stated differently, the city government does not need to refer to the procedures laid down in the National Building Code to exercise this power. Thus, the consistency between Ordinance No. 092-2000 with the National Building Code is irrelevant to the validity of the former. To be clear, even if the National Building Code imposes minimum requirements as to the construction and regulation of billboards, the city government may impose stricter limitations because its police power to do so originates from its charter and not from the National Building Code. The ordinance specifically governs billboards and other similar structures situated within Davao City, independent of the provisions of the National Building Code. (Evasco v. Montañez, G.R. No. 199172, February 21, 2018)] 

Administrative Bodies 

The Court has consistently held that technical rules applicable to judicial proceedings are not exact replicas of those in administrative investigations. Recourse to discovery procedures as sanctioned by the Rules of Court is then not mandatory for the OGCLS-BSP. Hence, We cannot subscribe to Norlina’s tenacious insistence for the OGCLS-BSP to strictly adhere to the Rules of Court so as not to purportedly defeat her rights. (Sibayan v. Alda, G.R. No. 233395, January 17, 2018) 

Thus, the doctrine of primary administrative jurisdiction refers to the competence of a court to take cognizance of a case at first instance. Unlike the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, it cannot be waived. (Republic v. Gallo, G.R. No. 207074, January 17, 2018) 

[Note: However, for reasons of equity, in cases where jurisdiction is lacking, this Court has ruled that failure to raise the issue of non-compliance with the doctrine of primary administrative jurisdiction at an opportune time may bar a subsequent filing of a motion to dismiss based on that ground by way of laches. (Republic v. Gallo, G.R. No. 207074, January 17, 2018)] 

[The] CIAC (Construction Industry Arbitration Commission) is a quasi-judicial body exercising quasi-judicial powers. (Metro Rail Development Corporation v. Gammon Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 200401, January 17, 2018) 

[Note: CIAC was created under Executive Order No. 1008 to establish an arbitral machinery that will settle expeditiously problems arising from, or connected with, contracts in the construction industry. Its jurisdiction includes construction disputes between or among parties to an arbitration agreement, or those who are otherwise bound by the latter, directly or by reference. Thus, any project owner, contractor, subcontractor, fabricator, or project manager of a construction project who is bound by an arbitration agreement in a construction contract is under CIAC’s jurisdiction in case of any dispute. (Metro Rail Development Corporation v. Gammon Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 200401, January 17, 2018)] 

[Note: A quasi-judicial agency is a government body, not part of the judiciary or the legislative branch, which adjudicates disputes and creates rules which affect private parties’ rights. It is created by an enabling statute, and thus, its existence continues beyond the resolution of a dispute and is independent from the will of the parties. Its powers are limited to those expressly granted or necessarily implied in the enabling law. (Metro Rail Development Corporation v. Gammon Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 200401, January 17, 2018)] 

[Note: Quasi-judicial or administrative adjudicatory power has been defined as the power: “(1) to hear and determine questions of fact to which legislative policy is to apply, and (2) to decide in accordance with the standards laid down by the law itself in enforcing and administering the same law.” (Metro Rail Development Corporation v. Gammon Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 200401, January 17, 2018)] 

[Note: Arbitration under a quasi-judicial body is similar to commercial arbitration in that its factual findings are generally accorded respect and finality. However, commercial arbitration is conducted by ad-hoc bodies created by stipulation of parties for the purpose of settling disputes concerning their private or proprietary interests. In general, the findings in commercial arbitration are respected to uphold the autonomy of arbitral awards. On the other hand, quasi-judicial agencies were created for a speedier resolution of controversies on matters of state interest that require specialized knowledge and expertise. (Metro Rail Development Corporation v. Gammon Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 200401, January 17, 2018)] 

[Note: Initially, CIAC decisions are appealable only to this Court. However, when the Rules of Court were enacted, appeals from CIAC decisions became appealable to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43. (Metro Rail Development Corporation v. Gammon Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 200401, January 17, 2018)] 

The SSS (through the SSC) is empowered to issue the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of R.A. No. 9903. Quasi-legislative power is exercised by administrative agencies through the promulgation of rules and regulations within the confines of the granting statute and the doctrine of non-delegation of powers from the separation of the branches of the government. (H. Villarica Pawnshop, Inc. v. Social Security Commission, G.R. No. 228087, January 24, 2018) 

… until and unless declared invalid in a proper case, the basic formulas contained in DAR administrative orders partake of the nature of statutes; xxx (Land Bank of the Philippines v. Alcantara, G.R. No. 187423, February 28, 2018) 

Indeed, non-ICCs/IPs cannot be subjected to the special and limited jurisdiction of the NCIP even if the dispute involves rights of ICCs/IPs since the NCIP has no power and authority to decide on a controversy involving rights of non-ICCs/IPs which should be brought before the courts of general jurisdiction within the legal bounds of rights and remedies. Plainly, contrary to the court a quo‘s conclusion, this case cannot be subjected to the NCIP’s jurisdiction as respondents are clearly non- ICCs/IPs. (Heirs of Tunged v. Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc., G.R. No. 231737, March 6, 2018) 

Bangko Sentral’s Monetary Board is a quasi-judicial agency. Its decisions, resolutions, and orders are the decisions, resolutions, and orders of a quasi-judicial agency. Any action filed against the Monetary Board is an action against a quasi-judicial agency. This does not mean, however, that Bangko 

Sentral only exercises quasi-judicial functions. As an administrative agency, it likewise exercises “powers and/or functions which may be characterized as administrative, investigatory, regulatory, quasi- legislative, or quasi-judicial, or a mix of these five, as may be conferred by the Constitution or by statute.” (Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, G.R. No. 200678, June 4, 2018) 

[Note: As previously discussed, respondent Bangko Sentral exercises a myriad of functions, including those that may not be necessarily exercised by a quasi-judicial agency. It is settled, however, that it exercises its quasi-judicial functions through respondent Monetary Board. Any petition for certiorari against an act or omission of Bangko Sentral, when it acts through the Monetary Board, must be filed with the Court of Appeals. (Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, G.R. No. 200678, June 4, 2018)] 

National Territory 

The Information categorically alleged that the incident happened along the river bank of Brgy. San Roque, Municipality of Villareal, Province of Samar. Under Section 2(a) of PD 532, “Philippine waters”’ is defined as follows: [A]ll bodies of water, such as but not limited to, seas, gulfs, bays around, between and connecting each of the Islands of the Philippine Archipelago, irrespective of its depth, breadth, length or dimension, and all other waters belonging to the Philippines by historic or Iegal title, including territorial sea, the sea-bed, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction. From this definition, it is clear that a river is considered part of Philippine waters. (People v. dela Peña, G.R. No. 219581, January 31, 2018) 

Fundamental Principles and State Policies 

Social Justice 

To this end, the Court upholds and abides by this canon of interpretation against applicants of the benefits of R.A. No. 9903 as a recognition to the constitutional policies of freeing the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services and affording full protection to labor. It is consistent with the congressional intent of placing a primary importance in helping the SSS increase its funds through stimulating cash inflows by encouraging delinquent employers to settle their accountabilities. Thus, R.A. No. 9903 shall be understood as not to include a refund of penalties paid before its effectivity. (H. Villarica Pawnshop, Inc. v. Social Security Commission, G.R. No. 228087, January 24, 2018) 

The Court has reiterated that the policy of social justice is not intended to countenance wrongdoing simply because it is committed by the underprivileged. At best, it may mitigate the penalty but it certainly will not condone the offense. Compassion for the poor is an imperative of every humane society but only when the recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege. Social justice cannot be permitted to be (a) refuge of scoundrels any more than can equity be an impediment to the punishment of the guilty. Those who invoke social justice may do so only if their hands are clean and their motives blameless and not simply because they happen to be poor. This great policy of our Constitution is not meant for the protection of those who have proved they are not worthy of it, like the workers who have tainted the cause of labor with the blemishes of their own character. (Central Azucarera de Bais v. Heirs of Zuelo Apostol, G.R. No. 215314, March 14, 2018) Youth 

Necessarily, herein minor appellants shall be entitled to appropriate disposition under Section 51, R.A. No. 9344, which extends even to one who has exceeded the age limit of twenty-one (21) years, so long as he committed the crime when he was still a child, and provides for the confinement of convicted children. (People v. Sisracon, G.R. No. 226494, February 14, 2018) 

We note, however, that FFF, being a minor at the time of the commission of the offense, should benefit from a suspended sentence pursuant to Section 38 of RA 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006. (People v. Lababo, G.R. No. 234651, June 6, 2018) 

Women By enacting the Constitution and signing on the CEDAW, the State has committed to ensure and to promote gender equality. In 2009, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women, which provides that the State “shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations.” This necessarily includes the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Thus, Article 26 should be interpreted to mean that it is irrelevant for courts to determine if it is the foreign spouse that procures the divorce abroad. Once a divorce decree is issued, the divorce becomes “validly obtained” and capacitates the foreign spouse to marry. The same status should be given to the Filipino spouse. The national law of Japan does not prohibit the Filipino spouse from initiating or participating in the divorce proceedings. It would be inherently unjust for a Filipino woman to be prohibited by her own national laws from something that a foreign law may allow. Parenthetically, the prohibition on Filipinos from participating in divorce proceedings will not be protecting our own nationals. (Racho v. Tanaka, G.R. No. 199515, June 25, 2018) 

Ecology Our legislators saw the need for a concerted effort of the government and society to abate, control, and prevent the pollution of our country’s water resources. Hence, the Clean Water Act was enacted in the hope that “this vital measure will offer the future generation an abundant supply of potable water, clean rivers to swim [in], and a better access to safe water for their daily use.” (Republic v. N. de la Merced & Sons, Inc., G.R. No. 201501, January 22, 2018) 

Given that the writ of kalikasan is an extraordinary remedy and the RPEC allows direct action to this Court and the CA where it is dictated by public welfare, this Court is of the view that the prior 30- day notice requirement for citizen suits under R.A. 9003 and R.A. 8749 is inapplicable. It is ultimately within the Court’s discretion whether or not to accept petitions brought directly before it. (Osmeña v. Garganera, G.R. No. 231164, March 20, 2018) 

Labor 

When the evidence in labor cases is in equipoise, doubt is resolved in favor of the employee. (Hubilla v. HSY Marketing Ltd., Co., G.R. No. 207354, January 10, 2018) 

[Note: Where both parties in a labor case have not presented substantial evidence to prove their allegations, the evidence is considered to be in equipoise. In such a case, the scales of justice are tilted in favor of labor. Thus, petitioners are hereby considered to have been illegally dismissed. (Hubilla v. HSY Marketing Ltd., Co., G.R. No. 207354, January 10, 2018)] 

The Legislative Department 

Laws 

In this regard, it must be said that there is no merit in the contention of petitioner that the amendment introduced by R.A. No. 9700 cannot be applied retroactively in the case at bar. Primarily, a cursory reading of the provision readily reveals that Section 19 of R.A. No. 9700 merely highlighted the exclusive jurisdiction of the DAR to rule on agrarian cases by adding a clause which mandates the automatic referral of cases upon the existence of the requisites therein stated. Simply, R.A. No. 9700 does not deviate but merely reinforced the jurisdiction of the DAR set forth under Section 50 of R.A. No. 6657. Moreover, in the absence of any stipulation to the contrary, as the amendment is essentially procedural in nature it is deemed to apply to all actions pending and undetermined at the time of its passage. (Chailese Development Company, Inc. v. Dizon, G.R. No. 206788, February 14, 2018) 

Parliamentary Immunity 

Petitioner admits that he uttered the questioned statements, describing private respondent as former VP Binay’s “front” or “dummy” in connection with the so-called Hacienda Binay, in response to media interviews during gaps and breaks in plenary and committee hearings in the Senate. With Jimenez as our guidepost, it is evident that petitioner’s remarks fall outside the privilege of speech or debate under Section 11, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. The statements were clearly not part of any speech delivered in the Senate or any of its committees. They were also not spoken in the course of any debate in said fora. It cannot likewise be successfully contended that they were made in the official discharge or performance of petitioner’s duties as a Senator, as the remarks were not part of or integral to the legislative process. (Trillanes v. Castillo-Marigomen, G.R. No. 223451, March 14, 2018, citing Jimenez v. Cabangbang, 124 Phil. 196 [1966]) 

[Note: To participate in or respond to media interviews is not an official function of any lawmaker; it is not demanded by his sworn duty nor is it a component of the process of enacting laws. Indeed, a lawmaker may well be able to discharge his duties and legislate without having to communicate with the press. A lawmaker’s participation in media interviews is not a legislative act, but is “political in nature,” outside the ambit of the immunity conferred under the Speech or Debate Clause in the 1987 Constitution. Contrary to petitioner’s stance, therefore, he cannot invoke parliamentary immunity to cause the dismissal of private respondent’s Complaint. The privilege arises not because the statement is made by a lawmaker, but because it is uttered in furtherance of legislation. (Trillanes v. Castillo-Marigomen, G.R. No. 223451, March 14, 2018)] 

Appropriations 

The petitioners contended that the implementation of the MVPSP using the funds allocated under the item MF02: Motor Vehicle Registration and Driver’s Licensing Regulatory Services was unconstitutional because the item constituted a lump- sum appropriation that undermined the exercise by the President of his veto power under Article VI, Section 27(2) of the Constitution. 

Under the system of Performance Informed Budgeting, the PAPS are grouped or aligned into the Major Final Outputs (MFOs). However, the groupings do not mean that there are no longer any line- items. As explained in Belgica v. Executive Secretary, line-items under appropriations should be “specific appropriations of money” that will enable the President to discernibly veto the same, to wit: 

An item, as defined in the field of appropriations, pertains to “the particulars, the details, the distinct and severable parts of the appropriation or of the bill.” In the case of Bengzon v. Secretary of Justice of the Philippine Islands, the US Supreme Court characterized an item of appropriation as follows: 

“An item of an appropriation bill obviously means an item which, in itself, is a specific appropriation of money, not some general provision of law which happens to be put into an appropriation bill.” 

On this premise, it may be concluded that an appropriation bill, to ensure that the President may be able to exercise his power of item veto, must contain “specific appropriations of money” and not only “general provisions” which provide for parameters of appropriation. 

Further, it is significant to point out that an item of appropriation must be an item characterized by singular correspondence – meaning an allocation of a specified singular amount for a specified singular purpose, otherwise known as a “line-item.” This treatment not only allows the item to be consistent with its definition as a “specific appropriation of money” but also ensures that the President may discernibly veto the same. (Dela Cruz v. Ochoa, G.R. No. 219683, January 23, 2018) 

[Note: In Araullo v. Aquino III, the Court has expounded the term item as the last and indivisible purpose of a program in the appropriation law, which is distinct from the expense category or allotment class. (Dela Cruz v. Ochoa, G.R. No. 219683, January 23, 2018)] 

The petitioners’ contention that the MF02 constituted a lump-sum appropriation had no basis. The specific appropriations of money were still found under Details of the FY 2014 Budget which was attached to the 2014 GAA. They specified and contained the authorized budgetary programs and projects under the GAA xxx. As gleaned from the Details of the FY 2014 Budget, the MFOs constituted the expense category or class; while the last and indivisible purpose of each program under the MFOs were enumerated under the Details of the FY 2014 Budget. In particular, the specific purpose provided under the MF02 was an appropriation for a motor vehicle registration system. Such specific purpose satisfied the requirement of a valid line-item that the President could discernibly veto. (Dela Cruz v. Ochoa, G.R. No. 219683, January 23, 2018) 

[Note: In Jacomille v. Abaya, the Court, upholding the legality of the procurement of the MVPSP, opined that whatever defects had attended its procurement were “cured” by the appropriation for the full amount of the project under the 2014 GAA. (Dela Cruz v. Ochoa, G.R. No. 219683, January 23, 2018)] 

To explain, Section 29(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution ordains that: “No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.” The only exception is found in Section 25(5), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, by which the President of the Philippines, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Philippines, and the heads of the Constitutional Commissions are authorized to transfer appropriations to augment any item in the GAA for their respective offices from the savings in other items of their respective appropriations. The CESB is definitely not among the officials or agencies authorized to transfer their savings in other items of its appropriation. The CESB came into being by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1 on September 1, 1974. The CESB, although intended to be an autonomous entity, is administratively attached to the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and does not wield the power to authorize the augmentation of items of its appropriations from savings in other items of its appropriations. With the CSC being the office vested with fiscal autonomy by the 1987 Constitution, the CESB’s use of its savings to cover the CNA benefits for its employees had no legal basis. (Career Executive Service Board v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 212348, June 19, 2018) 

Tax Exemptions 

Lastly, while tax exemptions are strictly construed against the taxpayer, the government should not misuse technicalities to keep money it is not entitled to. (Philippine Air Lines v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. Nos. 206079-80, January 17, 2018) 

While tax amnesty is in the nature of a tax exemption, which is strictly construed against the taxpayer, the Court cannot disregard the plain text of R.A. No. 9480. (Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Covanta Energy Philippine Holdings, Inc., G.R. No. 203160, January 24, 2018) 

[Note: Considering that CEPHI completed the requirements and paid the corresponding amnesty tax, it is considered to have totally complied with the tax amnesty program. As a matter of course, CEPHI is entitled to the immediate enjoyment of the immunities and privileges of the tax amnesty program. Nonetheless, the Court emphasizes that the immunities and privileges granted to taxpayers under R.A. No. 9480 is not absolute. It is subject to a resolutory condition insofar as the taxpayers’ enjoyment of the immunities and privileges of the law is concerned. These immunities cease upon proof that they underdeclared their net worth by 30%. (Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Covanta Energy Philippine Holdings, Inc., G.R. No. 203160, January 24, 2018)] 

Executive Department 

Presidential Immunity 

Presidential privilege of immunity from suit is a well-settled doctrine in our jurisprudence. The President may not be sued during his tenure or actual incumbency, and there is no need to expressly grant such privilege in the Constitution or law. This privilege stems from the recognition of the President’s vast and significant functions which can be disrupted by court litigations. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

[Note: It is, thus, clear that petitioners in G.R. Nos. 236061 and 236145 committed a procedural misstep in including the President as a respondent in their petitions. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018)] 

Military Powers 

The determination of which among the Constitutionally given military powers should be exercised in a given set of factual circumstances is a prerogative of the President. The Court’s power of review, as provided under Section 18, Article VII, does not empower the Court to advise, nor dictate its own judgment upon the President, as to which and how these military powers should be exercised. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

[Note: Congressional check on the President’s martial law and suspension powers thus consists of: First. The power to review the President’s proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and to revoke such proclamation or suspension. The review is “automatic in the sense that it may be activated by Congress itself at any time after the proclamation or suspension is made.” The Congress’ decision to revoke the proclamation or suspension cannot be set aside by the President. Second. The power to approve any extension of the proclamation or suspension, upon the President’s initiative, for such period as it may determine, if the invasion or rebellion persists and public safety requires it. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018)] 

When approved by the Congress, the extension of the proclamation or suspension, as described during the deliberations on the 1987 Constitution, becomes a “joint executive and legislative act” or a “collective judgment” between the President and the Congress xxx. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

The provision is indisputably silent as to how many times the Congress, upon the initiative of the President, may extend the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus. Such silence, however, should not be construed as a vacuum, flaw or deficiency in the provision. While it does not specify the number of times that the Congress is allowed to approve an extension of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, Section 18, Article VII is clear that the only limitations to the exercise of the congressional authority to extend such proclamation or suspension are that the extension should be upon the President’s initiative; that it should be grounded on the persistence of the invasion or rebellion and the demands of public safety; and that it is subject to the Court’s review of the sufficiency of its factual basis upon the petition of any citizen. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

Section 18, Article VII did not also fix the period of the extension of the proclamation and suspension. However, it clearly gave the Congress the authority to decide on its duration; thus, the provision states that the extension shall be ―for a period to be determined by the Congress.” If it were the intention of the framers of the Constitution to limit the extension to sixty (60) days, as petitioners in G.R. No. 235935 theorize, they would not have expressly vested in the Congress the power to fix its duration. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

[Note: The information upon which the extension of martial law or of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall be based principally emanate from and are in the possession of the Executive Department. Thus, “the Court will have to rely on the fact-finding capabilities of the [E]xecutive [D]epartment; in turn, the Executive Department will have to open its findings to the scrutiny of the Court.” (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018)] 

[Note: The requirement of the Constitution is therefore adequately met when there is sufficient factual basis to hold that the present and past acts constituting the actual rebellion are of such character that endanger and will endanger public safety. This permissive approach is sanctioned not only by an acknowledgment that the Congress is and should be allowed flexibility but also because the Court is without the luxury of time to determine accuracy and precision. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018)] 

Martial law is a law of necessity. “Necessity creates the conditions for martial law and at the same time limits the scope of martial law.” Thus, when the need for which Proclamation No. 216 was further extended no longer exists, the President can lift the martial law imposition even before the end of the one-year period. Under the same circumstances, the Congress itself may pass a resolution pre- terminating the extension. This power emanates from Congress’ authority, granted under the Constitution, to approve the extension and to fix its duration. The power to determine the period of the extension necessarily includes the power to shorten it. Furthermore, considering that this Court’s judgment on the constitutionality of an extension is “transitory,” or “valid at that certain point of time,” any citizen may petition the Court to review the sufficiency of the factual basis for its continued implementation should the President and the Congress fail or refuse to lift the imposition of martial law. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

Judicial Department 

Judicial Power 

Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution pertains to the Court’s judicial power to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. The first part is to be known as the traditional concept of judicial power while the latter part, an innovation of the 1987 Constitution, became known as the court’s expanded jurisdiction. Under its expanded jurisdiction, courts can now delve into acts of any branch or instrumentality of the Government traditionally considered as political if such act was tainted with grave abuse of discretion. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

Hence, the Court concluded that a petition for certiorari pursuant to Section 1 or Section 5 of Article VIII is not the proper tool to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. We held that to apply the standard of review in a petition for certiorari will emasculate the Court’s constitutional task under Section 18, Article VII, which was precisely meant to provide an additional safeguard against possible martial law abuse and limit the extent of the powers of the Commander-in-Chief. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

[Note: With regard to the extension of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ, the same special and specific jurisdiction is vested in the Court to review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis thereof. Necessarily, and by parity of reasoning, a certiorari petition invoking the Court’s expanded jurisdiction is not the proper remedy to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the Congress’ extension of the proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018)] 

Furthermore, as in the case of the Court’s review of the President’s proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ, the Court’s judicial review of the Congress’ extension of such proclamation or suspension is limited only to a determination of the sufficiency of the factual basis thereof. By its plain language, the Constitution provides such scope of review in the exercise of the Court’s sui generis authority under Section 18, Article VII, which is principally aimed at balancing (or curtailing) the power vested by the Constitution in the Congress to determine whether to extend such proclamation or suspension. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

A.C. No. 58-2003 is an implementation of Section 42 of B.P. Blg. 129, or the basic provision on longevity pay granted by law to justices and judges in the judiciary. Section 42 of B.P. Big. 129 is intended to recompense justices and judges for each five-year period of continuous, efficient, and meritorious service rendered in the Judiciary. The purpose of the law is to reward long service, from the lowest to the highest court in the land. xxx. On the other hand, A.C. No. 58-2003 was issued by this Court pursuant to its constitutional power to interpret laws and, as such, has the force and effect of law. In crafting the circular, the Court duly considered the long-standing policy of according liberal construction to retirement laws covering government personnel.. (Re: Application for Optional Retirement under Republic Act No. 910, as amended by Republic Act No. 5095 and Republic Act No. 9946, of Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr., A.M. No. 15-11-01-SC, March 6, 2018) 

Jurisdiction 

Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution, in part, provides that the Supreme Court shall exercise original jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus. This Court, the Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts have concurrent jurisdiction to issue the extraordinary writs, including quo warranto. Relatedly, Section 7, Rule 66 of the Rules of Court provides that the venue of an action for quo warranto, when commenced by the Solicitor General, is either the Regional Trial Court in the City of Manila, in the Court of Appeals, or in the Supreme Court. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

The Court reaffirms its authority to decide the instant quo warranto action. This authority is expressly conferred on the Supreme Court by the Constitution under Section 5, Article VIII xxx. Section 5 of Article VIII does not limit the Court’s quo warranto jurisdiction only to certain public officials or that excludes impeachable officials therefrom. xxx. The Constitution defines judicial power as a “duty” to be performed by the courts of justice. Thus, for the Court to repudiate its own jurisdiction over this case would be to abdicate a constitutionally imposed responsibility (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018) 

[Note: The Court’s quo warranto jurisdiction over impeachable officers also finds basis in paragraph 7, Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution which designates it as the sole judge of the qualifications of the President and Vice-President, both of whom are impeachable officers. With this authority, the remedy of quo warranto was provided in the rules of the Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018)] 

With the enactment of R.A. No. 1125, the CTA (Court of Tax Appeals) was granted the exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal all cases involving disputed assessments of internal revenue taxes, customs duties, and real property taxes. In general, it has jurisdiction over cases involving liability for payment of money to the Government or the administration of the laws on national internal revenue, customs, and real property. (Steel Corporation of the Philippines v. Bureau of Customs, G.R. No. 220502, February 12, 2018) 

A petition for certiorari is the proper remedy to challenge the constitutionality of Sec. 8(3) of R.A. No. 6770. (Ifurung v. Carpio-Morales, G.R. No. 232131, April 24, 2018) 

[Note: Clear from his petition was that the petitioner beseeches the Court for a declaration primarily as to the unconstitutionality of Sec. 8(3) in relation to Sec. 7 of R.A. No. 6770, and as a consequence thereof, a pronouncement that the incumbent Ombudsman and the deputies are de facto officers and whose offices are vacant. The petition does not task the Court to scrutinize the qualifications of the respondents to hold office as Ombudsman and deputies but rather to determine the constitutionality of Sec. 8(3) of R.A. No. 6770 in so far as their term of office is concerned. (Ifurung v. Carpio-Morales, G.R. No. 232131, April 24, 2018)] 

(I)n Matting Industrial and Commercial Corporation v. Caras (647 Phil. 324 [2010]), this Court stated that jurisdiction over intra-corporate disputes involving the illegal dismissal of corporate officers was with the Regional Trial Court, not with the Labor Arbiter. (Malcaba v. Prohealth Pharma Philippines, Inc., G.R. 209085, June 6, 2018) 

When a tax case is pending on appeal with the Court of Tax Appeals, the Court of Tax Appeals has the exclusive jurisdiction to enjoin the levy of taxes and the auction of a taxpayer’s properties in relation to that case. (Philippine Ports Authority v. The City of Davao, G.R. No. 190324, June 6, 2018) 

[Note: In this case, the Court of Tax Appeals had jurisdiction over petitioner’s appeal to resolve the question of whether or not it was liable for real property tax. To recall, the real property tax liability was the very reason for the acts which petitioner wanted to have enjoined. It was, thus, the Court of Tax Appeals, and not the Court of Appeals, that had the power to preserve the subject of the appeal, to give effect to its final determination, and, when necessary, to control auxiliary and incidental matters and to prohibit or restrain acts which might interfere with its exercise of jurisdiction over petitioner’s appeal. Thus, respondents’ acts carried out pursuant to the imposition of the real property tax were also within the jurisdiction of the Court of Tax Appeals. (Philippine Ports Authority v. The City of Davao, G.R. No. 190324, June 6, 2018)] 

[Note: Even if the law had vested the Court of Appeals with jurisdiction to issue injunctive relief in real property tax cases such as this, the Court of Appeals was still correct in dismissing the petition before it. Once a court acquires jurisdiction over a case, it also has the power to issue all auxiliary writs necessary to maintain and exercise its jurisdiction, to the exclusion of all other courts. Thus, once the Court of Tax Appeals acquired jurisdiction over petitioner’s appeal, the Court of Appeals would have been precluded from taking cognizance of the case. (Philippine Ports Authority v. The City of Davao, G.R. No. 190324, June 6, 2018)] Requisites for Judicial Inquiry 

We note at the outset that Dela Merced & Sons’ attempt to assail the constitutionality of Sec. 28 of R.A. 9275 constitutes a collateral attack. This is contrary to the rule that issues of constitutionality must be pleaded directly. Unless a law is annulled in a direct proceeding, the legal presumption of the law’s validity remains. (Republic v. N. dela Merced & Sons, Inc., G.R. No. 201501, January 22, 2018) 

[Note: Nevertheless, even if the issue of constitutionality was properly presented, Dela Merced & Sons still failed to satisfy the fourth requisite for this Court to undertake a judicial review. Specifically, the issue of constitutionality of Sec. 28 of R.A. 9275 is not the lis mota of this case. The lis mota requirement means that the petitioner who questions the constitutionality of a law must show that the case cannot be resolved unless the disposition of the constitutional question is unavoidable. Consequently, if there is some other ground (i.e. a statute or law) upon which the court may rest its judgment, that course should be adopted and the question of constitutionality avoided. In this case, Dela Merced & Sons failed to show that the case cannot be legally resolved unless the constitutional issue it has raised is resolved. Hence, the presumption of constitutionality of Sec. 28 of R.A. 9275 stands. (Republic v. N. dela Merced & Sons, Inc., G.R. No. 201501, January 22, 2018)] 

In these consolidated petitions, petitioners are questioning the constitutionality of a congressional act, specifically the approval of the President’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao. Petitioners in G.R. No. 235935 and 236155 have also put in issue the manner in which the Congress deliberated upon the President’s request for extension. Clearly, therefore, it is the Congress as a body, and not just its leadership, which has interest in the subject matter of these cases. Consequently, it was procedurally incorrect for petitioners in G.R. Nos. 235935, 236061 and 236155 to implead only the Senate President and the House Speaker among the respondents. (Lagman v. Senate President, G.R. No. 235935, February 6, 2018) 

While the lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of an action, nevertheless, the party raising such question may be estopped if he has actively taken part in the very proceedings which he questions and he only objects to the court’s jurisdiction because the judgment or the order subsequently rendered is adverse to him. (Specified Contractors and Development, Inc. v. Pobocan, G.R. No. 212472, January 11, 2018) 

Hierarchy of Courts 

While the hierarchy of courts serves as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs, a direct invocation of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction to issue such writs is allowed when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. In the instant case, direct resort to the Court is justified considering that the action for quo warranto questions the qualification of no less than a Member of the Court. The issue of whether a person usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office is a matter of public concern over which the government takes special interest as it obviously cannot allow an intruder or impostor to occupy a public position. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

Petitioner’s direct resort to this Court, instead of to the Court of Appeals for intermediate review as sanctioned by the rules, violates the principle of hierarchy of courts. xxx. Nonetheless, the doctrine of hierarchy of courts is not inviolable, and this Court has provided several exceptions to the doctrine. One of these exceptions is the exigency of the situation being litigated. Here, the controversy between the parties has been dragging on since 2010, which should not be the case when the initial dispute – an ejectment case – is, by nature and design, a summary procedure and should have been resolved with expediency. (Intramuros Administration v. Offshore Construction Development Company, G.R. No. 196795, March 7, 2018) 

[Note: Moreover, this Court’s rules of procedure permit the direct resort to this Court from a decision of the Regional Trial Court upon questions of law, such as those which petitioner raises in this case. (Intramuros Administration v. Offshore Construction Development Company, G.R. No. 196795, March 7, 2018)] 

Rule-Making Authority 

It is true that initially, the changes that may be corrected under the summary procedure of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are clerical or harmless errors. Errors that affect the civil status, citizenship or nationality of a person, are considered substantial errors that were beyond the purview of the rule. (Republic v. Tipay, G.R. No. 209527, February 14, 2018) 

[Note: R.A. No. 9048 defined a clerical or typographical error as a mistake committed in the performance of clerical work, which is harmless and immediately obvious to the understanding. It was further amended in 2011, when R.A. No. 10172 was passed to expand the authority of local civil registrars and the Consul General to make changes in the day and month in the date of birth, as well as in the recorded sex of a person when it is patently clear that there was a typographical error or mistake in the entry. Unfortunately, however, when Virgel filed the petition for correction with the RTC in 2009, R.A. No. 10172 was not yet in effect. As such, to correct the erroneous gender and date of birth in Virgel’s birth certificate, the proper remedy was to commence the appropriate adversarial proceedings with the RTC, pursuant to Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The changes in the entries pertaining to the gender and date of birth are indisputably substantial corrections, outside the contemplation of a clerical or typographical error that may be corrected administratively. (Republic v. Tipay, G.R. No. 209527, February 14, 2018)] To emphasize, the distinction in criminal law is this: substantive law is that which declares what acts are crimes and prescribes the punishment for committing them, as distinguished from the procedural law which provides or regulates the steps by which one who commits a crime is to be punished. Based on the above, it may be gleaned that the chain of custody rule is a matter of evidence and a rule of procedure. It is therefore the Court who has the last say regarding the appreciation of evidence. (People v. Teng Moner y Adam, G.R. No. 202206, March 5, 2018) 

[Note: The power to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts is a traditional power of this Court. This includes the power to promulgate the rules of evidence. On the other hand, the Rules of Evidence are provided in the Rules of Court issued by the Supreme Court. However, the chain of custody rule is not found in the Rules of Court. Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165 was passed by the legislative department and its implementing rules were promulgated by PDEA, in consultation with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other agencies under and within the executive department. (People v. Teng Moner y Adam, G.R. No. 202206, March 5, 2018)] 

[Note: xxx. … the Court’s power to promulgate judicial rules, including rules of evidence, is no longer shared by the Court with Congress. xxx. …the chain of custody rule is a matter of evidence and a rule of procedure, and that the Court has the last say regarding the appreciation of evidence. Evidentiary matters are indeed well within the powers of courts to appreciate and rule upon, and so, when the courts find appropriate, substantial compliance with the chain of custody rule as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items have been preserved may warrant the conviction of the accused. (People v. Teng Moner y Adam, G.R. No. 202206, March 5, 2018, cited in People v. Sipin, G.R. No. 224290, June 11, 2018)] 

[Note: Jurisprudence dictates that the procedure enshrined in Section 21, Article II of RA 9165 is a matter of substantive law, and cannot be brushed aside as a simple procedural technicality; or worse, ignored as an impediment to the conviction of illegal drug suspects. (People v. Baptista, G.R. No. 225783, August 20, 2018, citing People v. Macapundag, G.R. No. 225965, March 13, 2017, 820 SCRA 204, 215, further citing People v. Umipang, 686 Phil 1024 (2012), at 1038)] 

Foremost, the rule-making power of the Court in matters of pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts is vested by Section 5(5), Article VIII of the Constitution. Hence, being plenary in nature, the Court cannot be called upon by a private citizen to exercise such power in a particular manner, especially through the vehicle of a petition for certiorari or prohibition, which is intended for an entirely different purpose. (Mercado v. Lopena, G.R. No. 230170, June 6, 2018) 

[Note: The concept of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) was first introduced to this jurisdiction under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC). As defined therein, a SLAPP refers to an action whether civil, criminal or administrative, brought against any person, institution or any government agency or local government unit or its officials and employees, with the intent to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that such person, institution or government agency has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights. In application, the allegation of SLAPP is set up as a defense in those cases claimed to have been filed merely as a harassment suit against environmental actions. xxx. Transposed to this case, the Court finds no occasion to apply the foregoing rules as the Petition has no relation at all to “the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights.” R.A. No. 9262, which involves cases of violence against women and their children, is not among those laws included under the scope of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC xxx. (Mercado v. Lopena, G.R. No. 230170, June 6, 2018)] 

[Note: SLAPP, as a defense, is a mere privilege borne out of procedural rules; accordingly, it may only be exercised in the manner and within the scope prescribed by the Court as a rule-making body. Here, petitioners cannot, under the guise of substantial justice, rely on a remedy that is simply not available to them. In fact, by invoking the Court’s rule-making power in their Petition, petitioners have admitted that the instant action has no basis under any of the rules promulgated by the Court. The Court takes this occasion to remind petitioners that rules of procedure are not a “one-size-fits-all” tool that may be invoked in any and all instances at the whim of the litigant as this would be anathema to the orderly administration of justice. (Mercado v. Lopena, G.R. No. 230170, June 6, 2018)] 

Judges 

According to the Republic, because respondent failed to fulfill the JBC requirement of filing the complete SALNs, her integrity remains unproven. The Republic posits that the JBC’s ostensible nomination of respondent does not extinguish the fact that the latter failed to comply with the SALN requirement as the filing thereof remains to be a constitutional and statutory requirement. 

If a candidate appointed despite being unable to comply with the requirements of the JBC and despite the lack of the aforementioned qualifications at the time of application, the appointment may be the subject of a quo warranto provided it is filed within one year from the appointment or discovery of the defect. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

[Note: When the Solicitor General files a quo warranto petition in behalf of the people and where the interests of the public is [sic] involved, the lapse of time presents no effective bar. A quo warranto action is a governmental function and not a proprietary function, and therefore the doctrine of laches does not apply. Indeed, when the government is the real party in interest, and is proceeding mainly to assert its rights, there can be no defense on the ground of laches or prescription. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018)] 

[Note: The Republic cannot be faulted for questioning respondent’s qualification for office only upon discovery of the cause of ouster. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018)] 

[Note: As will be demonstrated hereunder, respondent was never forthright as to whether or not she filed her SALNs covering the period of her employment in U.P. xxx. Even up to the present, respondent has not been candid on whether she filed the required SALNs or not. xxx. Hence, until recently, when respondent’s qualification for office was questioned during the hearings conducted by the House Committee on Justice on the impeachment complaint against the respondent, there was no indication that would have prompted the Republic to assail respondent’s appointment, much less question the wisdom or reason behind the said recommending and appointing authorities’ actions. The defect on respondent’s appointment was therefore not discernible, but was, on the contrary, deliberately rendered obscure. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018)] 

[Note: On another point, the one-year prescriptive period was necessary for the government to be immediately informed if any person claims title to an office so that the government may not be faced with the predicament of having to pay two salaries, one for the person actually holding it albeit illegally, and another to the person not rendering service although entitled to do so. It would thus be absurd to require the filing of a petition for quo warranto within the one-year period for such purpose when it is the State itself which files the same not for the purpose of determining who among two private individuals are entitled to the office. Stated in a different manner, the purpose of the instant petition is not to inform the government that it is facing a predicament of having to pay two salaries; rather, the government, having learned of the predicament that it might be paying an unqualified person, is acting upon it head-on. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018)] 

[Note: Most importantly, urgency to resolve the controversy on the title to a public office to prevent a hiatus or disruption in the delivery of public service is the ultimate consideration in prescribing a limitation on when an action for quo warranto may be instituted. However, it is this very same concern that precludes the application of the prescriptive period when it is the State which questions the eligibility of the person holding a public office and not merely the personal interest of a private individual claiming title thereto. Again, as We have stated in the assailed Decision, when the government is the real party in interest and asserts its rights, there can be no defense on the ground of laches or limitation; otherwise, it would be injurious to public interest if this Court will not act upon the case presented before it by the Republic and merely allow the uncertainty and controversy surrounding the Chief Justice position to continue. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018)] 

The qualifications of an aspiring Member of the Supreme Court are enshrined in Section 7, Article VIII of the Constitution. xxx. Evidently, more than age, citizenship and professional qualifications, our fundamental law is clear that a member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence. xxx. Emphatically, integrity is not only a prerequisite for an aspiring Member of the Court but is likewise a continuing requirement common to judges and lawyers alike. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

Failure to file the SALN is clearly a violation of the law. The offense is penal in character and is a clear breach of the ethical standards set for public officials and employees. It disregards the requirement of transparency as a deterrent to graft and corruption. For these reasons, a public official who has failed to comply with the requirement of filing the SALN cannot be said to be of proven integrity and the Court may consider him/her disqualified from holding public office. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) Such failure to file and to submit the SALNs to the JBC is a clear violation not only of the JBC rules, but also of the law and the Constitution. The discordance between respondent’s non-filing and non-submission of the SALNs and her claimed integrity as a person is too patent to ignore. For lack of proven integrity, respondent ought to have been disqualified by the JBC and ought to have been excluded from the list of nominees transmitted to the President. As the qualification of proven integrity goes into the barest standards set forth under the Constitution to qualify as a Member of the Court, the subsequent nomination and appointment to the position will not qualify an otherwise excluded candidate. In other words, the inclusion of respondent in the shortlist of nominees submitted to the President cannot override the minimum Constitutional qualifications. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

[Note: The effect of a finding that a person appointed to an office is ineligible therefor is that his presumably valid appointment will give him color of title that confers on him the status of a de facto officer. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018)] 

Respondent insists that the filing of SALNs bears no relation to the Constitutional qualification of integrity. For her, the measure of integrity should be as what the JBC sets it to be and that in any case, the SALN laws, being malum prohibitum, do not concern adherence to moral and ethical principles. 

Respondent’s argument, however, dangerously disregards that the filing of SALN is not only a requirement under the law, but a positive duty required from every public officer or employee, first and foremost by the Constitution. The SALN laws were passed in aid of the enforcement of the Constitutional duty to submit a declaration under oath of one’s assets, liabilities, and net worth. This positive Constitutional duty of filing one’s SALN is so sensitive and important that it even shares the same category as the Constitutional duty imposed upon public officers and employees to owe allegiance to the State and the Constitution. As such, offenses against the SALN laws are not ordinary offenses but violations of a duty which every public officer and employee owes to the State and the Constitution. In other words, the violation of SALN laws, by itself, defeats any claim of integrity as it is inherently immoral to violate the will of the legislature and to violate the Constitution. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018) 

For lack of a Constitutional qualification, respondent is ineligible to hold the position of Chief Justice and is merely holding a colorable right or title thereto. As such, respondent has never attained the status of an impeachable official and her removal from the office, other than by impeachment, is justified. The remedy, therefore, of a quo warranto at the instance of the State is proper to oust respondent from the appointive position of Chief Justice. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No.237428, May 11, 2018) 

The present is the exigent and opportune time for the Court to establish well-defined guidelines that would serve as guide posts for the bench, the bar and the JBC, as well, in the discharge of its Constitutionally-mandated functions. In sum, this Court holds: 

Quo warranto as a remedy to oust an ineligible public official may be availed of, provided that the requisites for the commencement thereof are present, when the subject act or omission was committed prior to or at the time of appointment or election relating to an official’s qualifications to hold office as to render such appointment or election invalid. Acts or omissions, even if it relates to the qualification of integrity being a continuing requirement but nonetheless committed during the incumbency of a validly appointed and/or validly elected official cannot be the subject of a quo warranto proceeding, but of impeachment if the public official concerned is impeachable and the act or omission constitutes an impeachable offense, or to disciplinary, administrative or criminal action, if otherwise. 

Members of the Judiciary are bound by the qualifications of honesty, probity, competence, and integrity. In ascertaining whether a candidate possesses such qualifications, the JBC in the exercise of its Constitutional mandate, set certain requirements which should be complied with by the candidates to be able to qualify. These requirements, as well as subsequent changes thereto, are announced and published to notify not only the applicants but the public as well. Changes to such set of requirements, as agreed upon by the JBC En Banc through a proper deliberation, such as in this case when the JBC decided to allow substantial compliance with the SALN submission requirement, should also be announced and published for the same purpose of apprising the candidates and the public of such changes. At any rate, if a candidate appointed despite being unable to comply with the requirements of the JBC and despite the lack of the aforementioned qualifications at the time of application, the appointment may be the subject of a quo warranto provided it is filed within one year from the appointment or discovery of the defect. Only the Solicitor General may institute the quo warranto petition. 

The willful non-filing of a SALN is an indication of dishonesty, lack of probity and lack of integrity. More so if the non-filing is repeated in complete disregard of the mandatory requirements of the Constitution and the law. 

Consistent with the SALN laws, however, SALNs filed need not be retained after more than ten years by the receiving office or custodian or repository unless these are the subject of investigation pursuant to the law. Thus, to be in keeping with the spirit of the law requiring public officers to file SALNs—to manifest transparency and accountability in public office—if public officers cannot produce their SALNs from their personal files, they must obtain a certification from the office where they filed and/or the custodian or repository thereof to attest to the fact of filing. In the event that said offices certify that the SALN was indeed filed but could not be located, said offices must certify the valid and legal reason of their non-availability, such as by reason of destruction by natural calamity due to fire or earthquake, or by reason of the allowed destruction after ten years under Section 8 of R.A. No. 6713. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

[Note: Accordingly, the Court, on the basis of an 8-6 vote, ruled that the respondent is ―found DISQUALIFIED from and is hereby adjudged GUILTY OF UNLAWFULLY HOLDING AND EXERCISING THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF JUSTICE. Accordingly, respondent Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno is OUSTED AND EXCLUDED therefrom.‖ (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018)] 

Under the Rules of Court, administrative complaints against judges of regular courts and special courts as we11 as justices of the CA and the Sandiganbayan may be instituted: (1) by the Supreme Court motu proprio; (2) upon a verified complaint, supported by affidavits of persons who have personal knowledge of the facts alleged therein or by documents which may substantiate said allegations; or (3) upon an anonymous complaint, supported by public records of indubitable integrity. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11-06-CA, March 13, 2018) 

[Note: The rationale for the requirement that complaints against judges and justices of the judiciary must be accompanied by supporting evidence is to protect magistrates from the filing of flimsy and virtually unsubstantiated charges against them. This is consistent with the rule that, in administrative proceedings, the complainants bear the burden of proving the allegations in their complaints by substantial evidence. If they fail to show in a satisfactory manner the facts upon which their claims are based, the respondents are not obliged to prove their exception or defense. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11-06-CA, March 13, 2018)] 

[Note: In this case, the anonymous complaint accused Justice Pizarro of selling favorable decisions, having a mistress, and habitually playing in casinos; and essentially charging him of dishonesty and violations of the Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Law, immorality, and unbecoming conduct. These accusations, however, with the only exception of gambling in casinos, are not supported by any evidence or by any public record of indubitable integrity. Thus, the bare allegations of corruption and immorality do not deserve any consideration. For this 

reason, the charges of corruption and immorality against Justice Pizarro must be dismissed for lack of merit. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11-06-CA, March 13, 2018)] 

[Note: With respect to Circular No. 4 and Administrative Matter No. 1544-0, it is with regret that the Court finds them inapplicable to the present case. It is clear from the words of these issuances that the prohibition from entering and gambling in casinos is applicable only to judges of inferior courts and court personnel. Stated differently, the aforesaid issuances do not cover justices of collegial courts for the simple reason that they are neither judges of the inferior courts nor can they be described as personnel of the court. Although the term “judge” has been held to comprehend all kinds of judges, the same is true only if the said term is not modified by any word or phrase. In the case of Circular No. 4 and Administrative Matter No. 1544- 0, the term “judge” has been qualified by the phrase “inferior courts.” Thus, absurd as it may seem, Justice Pizarro cannot be held administratively liable under Circular No. 4 and Administrative Matter No. 1544-0. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11-06-CA, March 13, 2018)] 

[Note: From the foregoing, it is opined that the term “government official connected directly to the operation of the government or any of its agencies” refers to any person employed by the government whose tasks is the performance and exercise of any of the functions and powers of such government or any agency thereof, as conferred on them by law, without any intervening agency. Simply put, a “government official connected directly to the operation of the government or any of its agencies” is a government officer who performs the functions of the government on his own judgment or discretion – essentially, a government officer under Section 2(14) of E.O. No. 292. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11- 06-CA, March 13, 2018)] 

[Note: Applying the above definition to the present case, it is clear that Justice Pizarro is covered by the term “government official connected directly with the operation of the government.” Indeed, one of the functions of the government, through the Judiciary, is the administration of justice within its territorial jurisdiction. Justice Pizarro, as a magistrate of the CA, is clearly a government official directly involved in the administration of justice; and in the performance of such function, he exercises discretion. Thus, by gambling in a casino, Justice Pizarro violated the prohibition from gambling in casinos as provided under Section 14(4)(a) of P.D. No. 1869. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11-06-CA, March 13, 2018)] 

Notwithstanding respondent’s dismissal from the service, the case remains justiciable because other penalties, such as a fine, may still be imposed if he is found guilty of an administrative offense. (See v. Judge Mislang, A.M. No. RTJ-16-2454, June 6, 2018) 

Preliminarily, the Court notes that the OCA did not make any explicit finding/recommendation on the administrative charge against respondent in connection with the issuance of the Temporary Release Order in Misc. Case No. 3957. This notwithstanding, the Court is not without power and authority to directly act on the matter. Section 6, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution vests in the Court administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof. Consistent with this authority, the Court has the discretion to directly rule on the administrative charge against respondent relative to Misc. Case No. 3957, even in the absence of prior action from the OCA. (Rodriguez v. Noel, A.M. No. RTJ-18- 2525, June 25, 2018) 

Judicial and Bar Council 

Thus, in interpreting the power of the Court vis-a-vis the power of the JBC, it is consistently held that the Court’s supervisory power consists of seeing to it that the JBC complies with its own rules and procedures. As when the policies of the JBC are being attacked, the Court, through its supervisory authority over the JBC, has the duty to inquire about the matter and ensure that the JBC is compliant with its own rules. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

JBC’s absolute autonomy from the Court as to place its non-action or improper actions beyond the latter’s reach is therefore not what the Constitution contemplates. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

What is more, the JBC’s duty to recommend or nominate, although calling for the exercise of discretion, is neither absolute nor unlimited. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

In fine, the Court has authority, as an incident of its power of supervision over the JBC, to insure that the JBC faithfully executes its duties as the Constitution requires of it. Wearing its hat of supervision, the Court is thus empowered to inquire into the processes leading to respondent’s nomination for the position of Chief Justice on the face of the Republic’s contention that respondent was ineligible to be a candidate to the position to begin with. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

[Note: As an incident of its power of supervision over the JBC, the Court has the authority to insure that the JBC performs its duties under the Constitution and complies with its own rules and standards. Indeed, supervision is an active power and implies the authority to inquire into facts and conditions that renders the power of supervision real and effective. Under its power of supervision, the Court has ample authority to look into the processes leading to respondent’s nomination for the position of Chief Justice on the face of the Republic’s contention that respondent was ineligible to be a candidate to the position to begin with. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018)] 

[Note: The question of whether or not a nominee possesses the requisite qualifications is determined based on facts and, as such, generates no exercise of discretion on the part of the nominating body. Thus, whether a nominee is of the requisite age, is a natural-born citizen, has met the years of law practice, and is of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence are to be determined based on facts and cannot be made dependent on inference or discretion, much less concessions, which the recommending authority may make or extend. To say that the determination of whether a nominee is of “proven integrity” is a task absolutely contingent upon the discretion of the JBC is to place the integrity requirement on a plateau different from the rest of the Constitutional requirements, when no such distinction is assigned by the Constitution. As well, to treat as discretionary on the part of the JBC the question of whether a nominee is of “proven integrity” is to render the Court impotent to nullify an otherwise unconstitutional nomination unless the Court’s jurisdiction is invoked on the ground of grave abuse of discretion. Such severely limiting course of action would effectively diminish the Court’s collegial power of supervision over the JBC. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018)] 

[Note: To re-align the issue in this petition, the Republic charges respondent of unlawfully holding or exercising the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The contents of the petition pose an attack to respondent’s authority to hold or exercise the position. Unmoving is the rule that title to a public office may not be contested except directly, by quo warranto proceedings. As it cannot be assailed collaterally, certiorari is an infirm remedy for this purpose. It is for this reason that the Court previously denied a certiorari and prohibition petition which sought to annul appointment to the Judiciary of an alleged naturalized citizen. Aguinaldo, et al. v. Aquino, et al., settles that when it is the qualification for the position that is in issue, the proper remedy is quo warranto, pursuant to Topacio. But when it is the act of the appointing power that is placed under scrutiny and not any disqualification on the part of the appointee, a petition for certiorari challenging the appointment for being unconstitutional or for having been done in grave abuse of discretion is the apt legal course. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018)] 

Practice of Law 

The practice of law is not a right but a mere privilege [subject] to the inherent regulatory power of the Supreme Court. (Maniago v. Atty. De Dios, 631 Phil. 139 [2010], cited in Tan v. Gumba, A.C. No. 9000, January 10, 2018) 

―A disbarred lawyer who is found to have committed an offense that constitutes another ground prior to his eventual disbarment may be heavily fined therefor. The Court does not lose its exclusive jurisdiction over his other disbarrable act or actuation committed while he was still a member of the Law Profession.‖ (Domingo v. Revilla, A.C. No. 5473, January 23, 2018) 

A disbarment case is sui generis for it is neither purely civil nor purely criminal, but is rather an investigation by the court into the conduct of its officers. The issue to be determined is whether respondent is still fit to continue to be an officer of the court in the dispensation of justice. Hence, an administrative proceeding for disbarment continues despite the desistance of a complainant, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same, or in this case, the failure of respondent to answer the charges against him despite numerous notices. (Zarcilla v. Quesada, A.C. No. 7186, March 13, 2018) 

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has no jurisdiction to investigate government lawyers charged with administrative offenses involving the performance of their official duties. (Trovela v. Robles, A.C. No. 11550, June 4, 2018) 

[Note: The acts complained of undoubtedly arose from the respondents’ performance or discharge of official duties as prosecutors of the Department of Justice. Hence, the authority to discipline respondents Robles, Obuñgen, Ang and Arellano exclusively pertained to their superior, the Secretary of Justice. In the case of Secretary De Lima, the authority to discipline pertained to the President. In either case, the authority may also pertain to the Office of the Ombudsman, which similarly exercises disciplinary jurisdiction over them as public officials pursuant to Section 15, paragraph 1, of Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989). Indeed, the accountability of respondents as officials performing or discharging their official duties as lawyers of the Government is always to be differentiated from their accountability as members of the Philippine Bar. The IBP has no jurisdiction to investigate them as such lawyers. (Trovela v. Robles, A.C. No. 11550, June 4, 2018)] 

Decisions The doctrine of stare decisis becomes operative only when judicial precedents are set by pronouncements of this Court to the exclusion of lower courts. It is true regardless whether the decisions of the lower courts are logically or legally sound as only decisions issued by this Court become part of the legal system. At the most, decisions of lower courts only have a persuasive effect. (United Coconut Planters Bank v. Sps. Uy, G.R. No. 204039, January 10, 2018) 

Ideally, the same trial judge should preside over all the stages of the proceedings, especially in cases where the conviction or acquittal of the accused mainly relies on the credibility of the witnesses. xxx. However, inevitable circumstances – the judge’s death, retirement, resignation, transfer, or removal from office – may intervene during the pendency of the case. An example is the present case, where the trial judge who heard the witnesses, Judge Francisco D. Calingin (Judge Calingin), compulsorily retired pending trial. Judge Calingin was then replaced by Judge Mordeno, who proceeded with hearing the other witnesses and writing the decision. Udang’s argument cannot be accepted as this would mean that every case where the judge had to be replaced pending decision would have to be refiled and retried so that the judge who hears the witnesses testify and the judge who writes the decision would be the same. What Udang proposes is impracticable. xxx. Applying the foregoing, the trial court decision convicting Udang is valid, regardless of the fact that the judge who heard the witnesses and the judge who wrote the decision are different. With no showing of any irregularity in the transcript of records, it is presumed to be a “complete, authentic record of everything that transpire[d] during the trial,” sufficient for Judge Mordeno to have evaluated the credibility of the witnesses, specifically, of AAA. (People v. Udang, G.R. No. 210161, January 10, 2018) 

The Court, too, issued Administrative Circular No. 1 dated January 28, 1988 which required all judges to make ”complete findings of facts in their decisions, scrutinize closely the legal aspects of the case in the light of the evidence presented, and avoid the tendency to generalize and to form conclusions without detailing the facts from which such conclusions are deduced.‖ (Go v. East Oceanic Leasing and Finance Corporation, G.R. Nos. 206841-42, January 19, 2018) 

[Note: The Constitution (Article VIII, Section 14) expressly provides that “‘[n]o decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. No petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court shall be refused due course or denied without stating the basis therefor.‖ (Go v. East Oceanic Leasing and Finance Corporation, G.R. Nos. 206841-42, January 19, 2018)] [Note: See Section 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court which states that: Sec l. Rendition of judgments and final orders. – A judgment or final order determining the merits of the case shall be in writing personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, signed by him, and filed with the clerk of court. (Go v. East Oceanic Leasing and Finance Corporation, G.R. Nos. 206841-42, January 19, 2018)] 

Likewise, his failure to cite in the Decision his factual and legal bases for finding the presence of the ordinary mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender is not a mere matter of judicial ethics. No less than the Constitution provides that no decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. The Court cannot simply accept the lame excuse that Judge Dumayas failed to cite said bases due to a mere oversight on his part that was made in good faith. (Office of the Court Administrator v. Judge Dumayas, A.M. No. RTJ-15-2435, March 6, 2018) 

[Note: In this case, a review of the records shows that the RTC had failed to clearly and distinctly state the facts and the law on which it based its ruling insofar as Go’s civil liability to East Oceanic is concerned. There is absolutely no discussion at all in the assailed Decision as to the RTC’s ruling in the collection case, particularly, on how it arrived at its conclusion finding Go liable to pay East Oceanic “‘the sum of 112,814,054.86 plus 6% interest to be computed from the time of the filing of the complaint.” (Go v. East Oceanic Leasing and Finance Corporation, G.R. Nos. 206841-42, January 19, 2018)] 

The constitutional provision clearly indicates that it contemplates only a decision, which is the judgment or order that adjudicates on the merits of a case. This is clear from the text and tenor of Section 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court xxx. The October 4, 2011 resolution did not adjudicate on the merits of G.R. No. 178083. We explicitly stated so in the resolution of March 13, 2012. What we thereby did was instead to exercise the Court’s inherent power to recall orders and resolutions before they attain finality. In so doing, the Court only exercised prudence in order to ensure that the Second Division was vested with the appropriate legal competence in accordance with and under the Court’s prevailing internal rules to review and resolve the pending motion for reconsideration. (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018) 

As we see it, the dissent must have inadvertently ignored the procedural effect that a second motion for reconsideration based on an allowable ground suspended the running of the period for appeal from the date of the filing of the motion until such time that the same was acted upon and granted. Correspondingly, granting the motion for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration has the effect of preventing the challenged decision from attaining finality. This is the reason why the second motion for reconsideration should present extraordinarily persuasive reasons. Indeed, allowing pro forma motions would indefinitely avoid the assailed judgment from attaining finality. (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018) 

[Note: By granting PAL’s motion for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration, the Court effectively averted the July 22, 2008 decision and the October 2, 2009 resolution from attaining finality. Worthy of reiteration, too, is that the March 13, 2012 resolution expressly recalled the September 7, 2011 resolution. Given the foregoing, the conclusion stated in the dissent that the Banc was divested of the jurisdiction to entertain the second motion for reconsideration for being a “third motion for reconsideration;” and the unfair remark in the dissent that “[t]he basis of the supposed residual power of the Court En Banc to, take on its own, take cognizance of Division cases is therefore suspect” are immediately rejected as absolutely legally and factually unfounded. To start with, there was no “third motion for reconsideration” to speak of. The September 11, 2011 resolution denying PAL’s second motion for reconsideration had been recalled by the October 4, 2011 resolution. Hence, PAL’s motion for reconsideration remained unresolved, negating the assertion of the dissent that the Court was resolving the second motion for reconsideration “for the second time.” (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018)] 

[Note: Nonetheless, we should stress that the rule prohibiting the filing of a second motion for reconsideration is by no means absolute. Although Section 2, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court disallows the filing of a second motion for reconsideration, the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court (IRSC) allows an exception, to wit: 

Section 3. Second motion for reconsideration. – The Court shall not entertain a second motion for reconsideration, and any exception to this rule can only be granted in the higher interest of justice by the Court en banc upon a vote of at least two-thirds of its actual membership. There is reconsideration “in the higher interest of justice” when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties. A second motion for reconsideration can only be entertained before the ruling sought to be reconsidered becomes final by operation of law or by the Court’s declaration. 

In the Division, a vote of three Members shall be required to elevate a second motion for reconsideration to the Court en banc. (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018)] 

[Note: The conditions that must concur in order for the Court to entertain a second motion for reconsideration are the following, namely: 1. The motion should satisfactorily explain why granting the same would be in the higher interest of justice; 2. The motion must be made before the ruling sought to be reconsidered attains finality; 3. If the ruling sought to be reconsidered was rendered by the Court through one of its Divisions, at least three members of the Division should vote to elevate the case to the Court En Banc; and 4. The favorable vote of at least two-thirds of the Court En Banc’s actual membership must be mustered for the second motion for reconsideration to be granted. Under the IRSC, a second motion for reconsideration may be allowed to prosper upon a showing by the movant that a reconsideration of the previous ruling is necessary in the higher interest of justice. There is higher interest of justice when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties. (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018)] 

Preliminarily, the fact alone that the judge who heard the evidence was not the one who rendered the judgment, but merely relied on the record of the case, does not render his judgment erroneous or irregular. This is so even if the judge did not have the fullest opportunity to weigh the testimonies, not having heard all the witnesses speak or observed their deportment and manner of testifying. Hence, the Court generally will not find any misapprehension of facts as it can be fairly assumed under the principle of regularity of performance of duties of public officers that the transcripts of stenographic notes were thoroughly scrutinized and evaluated by the judge himself. (People v. Villalobos, G.R. No. 228960, June 11, 2018) 

En Banc To reiterate, the Court, whether sitting En Banc or in Division, acts as a collegial body. By virtue of the collegiality, the Chief Justice alone cannot promulgate or issue any decisions or orders. (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018) [Note: In Complaint of Mr. Aurelio Indencia Arrienda Against SC Justices Puna, Kapunan, Pardo, Ynares Santiago (A.M. No. 03-11-30-SC, June 9, 2005, 460 SCRA 1), the Court has elucidated on the collegial nature of the Court in relation to the role of the Chief Justice, viz.: The complainant’s vituperation against the Chief Justice on account of what he perceived was the latter’s refusal “to take a direct positive and favorable action” on his letters of appeal overstepped the limits of proper conduct. It betrayed his lack of understanding of a fundamental principle in our system of laws. Although the Chief Justice is primus inter pares, he cannot legally decide a case on his own because of the Court’s nature as a collegial body. Neither can the Chief Justice, by himself, overturn the decision of the Court, whether of a division or the en banc. There is only one Supreme Court from whose decisions all other courts are required to take their bearings. While most of the Court’s work is performed by its three divisions, the Court remains one court-single, unitary, complete and supreme. Flowing from this is the fact that, while individual justices may dissent or only partially concur, when the Court states what the law is, it speaks with only one voice. Any doctrine or principle of law laid down by the court may be modified or reversed only by the Court en banc. (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018)] 

Fortich v. Corona, which has expounded on the authority of the Banc to accept cases from the Divisions, is still the prevailing jurisprudence regarding the construction of Section 4(3), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. However, Fortich v. Corona does not apply herein. It is notable that Fortich v. Corona sprung from the results of the voting on the motion for reconsideration filed by the Sumilao Farmers. The vote ended in an equally divided Division (“two-two”). From there, the Sumilao Farmers sought to elevate the matter to the Banc based on Section 4(3), Article VIII because the required three- member majority vote was not reached. However, the factual milieu in Fortich v. Corona is not on all fours with that in this case. (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018) 

[Note: It is well to stress that the Banc could not have assumed jurisdiction were it not for the initiative of Justice Arturo V. Brion who consulted the Members of the ruling Division as well as Chief Justice Corona regarding the jurisdictional implications of the successive retirements, transfers, and inhibitions by the Members of the ruling Division. This move by Justice Brion led to the referral of the case to the Banc in accordance with Section 3(1), Rule 2 of the IRSC that provided, among others, that any Member of the Division could request the Court En Banc to take cognizance of cases that fell under paragraph (m). This referral by the ruling Division became the basis for the Banc to issue its October 4, 2011 resolution. For sure, the Banc, by assuming jurisdiction over the case, did not seek to act as appellate body in relation to the acts of the ruling Division, contrary to the dissent’s position. The Banc’s recall of the resolution of September 7, 2011 should not be so characterized, considering that the Banc did not thereby rule on the merits of the case, and did not thereby reverse the July 22, 2008 decision and the October 2, 2009 resolution. The referral of the case to the Banc was done to address the conflict among the provisions of the IRSC that had potential jurisdictional implications on the ruling made by the Second Division. (Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Air Lines, G.R. No. 178083, March 13, 2018)] 

Appeals In the appeal of criminal cases before the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, the authority to represent the People is vested solely in the Solicitor General. This power is expressly provided in Section 35, Book IV, Title III, Chapter 12 of the Revised Administrative Code. Without doubt, the OSG is the appellate counsel of the People of the Philippines in all criminal cases. (People v. Alapan, G.R. No. 199527, January 10, 2018) 

Appeal is not a matter of right. Courts and tribunals have the discretion whether to give due course to an appeal or to dismiss it outright. The perfection of an appeal is, thus, jurisdictional. Non- compliance with the manner in which to file an appeal renders the judgment final and executory. (Malcaba v. Prohealth Pharma Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 209085, June 6, 2018) 

Contempt of Court 

In any event, what is relevant and essential in this contempt case is the fact that, by virtue of petitioner’s reliance upon the said lawful and binding SEC Decision in the use of its corporate name in lieu of the proscribed “Big Mak” mark to comply with the subject injunction order, petitioner’s good faith is clearly manifest. Petitioner’s justification of its questioned action is not at all implausible. This Court finds no reason to reject petitioner’s explanation or doubt its good faith as certainly; the use of its corporate name was warranted by the SEC Decision. It was also not unreasonable for the petitioner, through its officers, to think that the stalls and products bearing its corporate name would send the message to the public that the products were the petitioner’s and not those of respondent’s, the very evil sought to be prevented and/or eradicated by the decision in the infringement/unfair competition case. Considering that condemnation for contempt should not be made lightly, and that the power to punish contempt should be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle, the Court finds no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that there was no willful disregard or defiance of its order/ decision. We are, therefore, one with the Contempt Court in dismissing the contempt case. (L.C. Big Mak Burger, Inc. v. McDonald’s Corporation, G.R. No. 233073, February, 14, 2018) 

Civil Service Commission 

Government Agencies 

Anent whether PVB was a government or a private entity, therefore, we declare that it is the latter. The foregoing jurisprudential pronouncement remains to be good law, and should be doctrinal and controlling. (Laya v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 205813, January 10, 2018, citing Philippine Veterans Bank Employees Union-NUBE v. The Philippine Veterans Bank (G.R. Nos. 67125, 82337, August 24, 1990, 189 SCRA 14 – Note: This point is important because the Constitution provides in its Article IX-B, Section 2(1) that “the Civil Service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters.” As the Bank is not owned or controlled by the Government although it does have an original charter in the form of R.A. No. 3518, it clearly does not fall under the Civil Service and should be regarded as an ordinary commercial corporation. Section 28 of the 

said law so provides. The consequence is that the relations of the Bank with its employees should be governed by the labor laws, under which in fact they have already been paid some of their claims.) 

[Note: We also note that Congress enacted Republic Act No. 7169, whereby it acknowledged the Filipino veterans of World War II as the owners of PVB, but their ownership had not been fully realized despite the implementation of Republic Act No. 3518. xxx. It is hereby provided that the Board of Trustees of the Veterans of World War II (BTVWW II) created under Republic Act No. 3518 is hereby designated as trustee of all issued but undelivered shares of stock. With the Government having no more stake in PVB, there is no justification for the insistence of the petitioner that PVB “is a public corporation masquerading as a private corporation.” (Laya v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 205813, January 10, 2018)] 

In this regard, Section 2(1) of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 292 or the Administrative Code of 1987 defines “Government of the Republic of the Philippines” as “the corporate governmental entity through which the functions of government are exercised throughout the Philippines, including, save as the contrary appears from the context, the various arms through which political authority is made effective in the Philippines, whether pertaining to the autonomous regions, the provincial, city, municipal or barangay subdivisions or other forms of local government.” The term “Government of the Republic of the Philippines” or “Philippine Government” is broad enough to include the local governments and the central or national government which, in turn, consist of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as well as constitutional bodies and other bodies created in accordance with the constitution. 

Section 2(4) of E.O. No. 292 further states that “Agency of the Government” refers to any of the various units of the Government, including a department, bureau, office, instrumentality, or government-owned or -controlled corporations, or a local government or a distinct unit therein. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11- 06-CA, March 13, 2018) 

BCDA is a government instrumentality vested with corporate powers. (Bases Conversion and Development Authority v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 205925, June 20, 2018) 

[Note: As such, it is exempt from the payment of docket fees required under Section 21, Rule 141 of the Rules or Court xxx. (Bases Conversion and Development Authority v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 205925, June 20, 2018)] 

[Note: … it is clear that a government instrumentality may be endowed with corporate powers and at the same time retain its classification as a government “instrumentality” for all other purposes. (Bases Conversion and Development Authority v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 205925, June 20, 2018)] 

[Note: …it is clear that BCDA has an authorized capital of Php100 Billion; however, it is not divided into shares of stock. BCDA has no voting shares. There is likewise no provision which authorizes the distribution of dividends and allotments of surplus and profits to BCDA’s stockholders. Hence, BCDA is not a stock corporation. xxx. BCDA also does not qualify as a non-stock corporation because it is not organized for any of the purposes mentioned under Section 88 of the Corporation Code xxx. …it is clear that BCDA is neither a stock nor a non-stock corporation. (Bases Conversion and Development Authority v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 205925, June 20, 2018)] 

Civil servants 

Section 5 (3-b)(a) of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1067-B and Section 14(4)(a) of P.D. No. 1869, which consolidated P.D. No. 1067-B with other presidential decrees issued relative to the franchise and powers of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, did not define the meaning of the term “government officials connected directly with the operation of the government or any of its agencies” as well as the words used therein. The same is true with respect to the presidential issuances relative to such prohibition. Considering, however, that the obvious purpose of the subject prohibition is the regulation of conduct of government officials, reference may be made to pertinent administrative laws and jurisprudence pertaining thereto to comprehend the meaning of the term under scrutiny. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11- 06-CA, March 13, 2018) 

[Note: Section 2(14) of E.O. No. 292 also defines an “officer” as distinguished from a “clerk” or “employee” as “a person whose duties, not being of a clerical or manual nature, involves the exercise of discretion in the performance of the functions of the government.” On the other hand, when used with reference to a person having authority to do a particular act or perform a particular function in the exercise of governmental power, “officer” includes any government employee, agent or body having authority to do the act or exercise that function. As regards the qualifying phrase “connected directly with the operation,” its definition could not be found in the Administrative Code and other similarly applicable statutes and rules. It is settled, however, that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, words and phrases used in a statute should be given their plain, ordinary, and common usage meaning. The words should be read and considered in their natural, ordinary, commonly accepted and most obvious signification, according to good and approved usage and without resorting to forced or subtle construction. Indeed, the lawmaker is presumed to have employed the words in the statute in their ordinary and common use and acceptation. Thus, the words “connected,” “directly,” and “operation” must be given their ordinary meaning in relation to their ordinary use in organizations or institutions such as the government. Hence, the term “connected” may mean “involved” “associated” or “related;” “directly” may mean “immediately” “without any intervening agency or instrumentality or determining influence” or “without any intermediate step;” and “operation” may mean “doing or performing action” or “administration.” Additionally, “to operate” is synonymous to the terms “to exercise” and “to act.” (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11-06-CA, March 13, 2018)] 

[Note: From the foregoing, it is opined that the term “government official connected directly to the operation of the government or any of its agencies” refers to any person employed by the government whose tasks is the performance and exercise of any of the functions and powers of such government or any agency thereof, as conferred on them by law, without any intervening agency. Simply put, a “government official connected directly to the operation of the government or any of its agencies” is a government officer who performs the functions of the government on his own judgment or discretion – essentially, a government officer under Section 2(14) of E.O. No. 292. (Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint against Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro, Court of Appeals, A.M. No. 17-11- 06-CA, March 13, 2018)] 

Career and Non-Career Service 

The Civil Service Law classifies the positions in the civil service into career and non-career, to wit: 

The career service is characterized by (1) entrance based on merit and fitness to be determined as far as practicable by competitive examinations, or based on highly technical qualifications; (2) opportunity for advancement to higher career positions; and (3) security of tenure; while a non-career position is characterized by (1) entrance on bases other than those of the usual tests of merit and fitness utilized for the career service; and (2) tenure which is limited to a period specified by law, or which is coterminous with that of the appointing authority or subject to his pleasure, or limited to the duration of a particular project for which purpose employment was extended. 

There are also three levels of positions in the career service, namely: (a) the first level shall include clerical, trades, crafts and custodial service positions which involve non-professional or sub- professional work in a non-supervisory or supervisory capacity requiring less than four years of collegiate studies; (b) the second level shall include professional, technical, and scientific positions which involve professional, technical or scientific work in a non-supervisory or supervisory capacity requiring at least four years of college work up to Division Chief level; and (c) the third level shall cover positions in the Career Executive Service. 

Under the third level, such positions in the Career Executive Service are further classified into Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary, Bureau Director, Assistant Bureau Director, Regional Director, Assistant Regional Director, Chief of Department Service and other officers of equivalent rank as may be identified by the Career Executive Service Board, all of whom are appointed by the President. (Career Executive Service Board v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 196890, January 11, 2018) 

As to employment status and security of tenure, appointment in the career service shall be either permanent or temporary. Lack of civil service eligibility makes an appointment a temporary one and without a fixed and definite term and dependent entirely upon the pleasure of the appointing power. On the other hand, the acquisition of security of tenure is governed by the rules and regulations promulgated by the CESB. (Career Executive Service Board v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 196890, January 11, 2018, citing Sections 2 and 3, Article I, Circular No. 2 Series of 2003) 

Only a CES Eligible assigned to a CES position may be appointed by the President to a CES Rank. The Entry Rank in the CES shall be CESO Rank VI regardless of the position to which a CES Eligible is assigned. (Career Executive Service Board v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 196890, January 11, 2018, citing Sections 2 and 3, Article I, Circular No. 2 Series of 2003) 

In sum, for an employee to attain a permanent status in his employment, he must first be a CES eligible. Such eligibility can be acquired by passing the requisite civil service examinations and obtaining passing grade to the same. “At present, the CES eligibility examination process has four stages, namely: (1) Written Examination; (2) Assessment Center; (3) Performance Validation; and (4) Board Interview.” After completing and passing the examination process, said employee is entitled to conferment of a CES eligibility and the inclusion of his name in the roster of CES eligibles. Such conferment of eligibility is done by the CESB through a formal Board Resolution after an evaluation is done of the employee’s performance in the four stages of the CES eligibility examinations. (Career Executive Service Board v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 196890, January 11, 2018) 

Conferment of a CES eligibility does not complete one’s membership in the CES nor does it confer security of tenure. It is also necessary that an individual who was conferred CES eligibility be appointed to a CES rank. Such appointment is made by the President upon the recommendation of the CESB. Only after such process will the employee’s appointment in the service be considered as a permanent one, entitling him to security of tenure. (Career Executive Service Board v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 196890, January 11, 2018) 

[Note: Here, Lodevico was appointed as Director III as evidenced by a Letter dated May 14, 2008. The position of Director III, equivalent to Assistant Bureau Director, is considered as a Career Executive Service position, belonging to the third-level. Lodevico met the first requisite as she is a CES eligible, evidenced by a Certificate of Eligibility. However, the second requisite is wanting because there was no evidence which proves that Lodevico was appointed to a CES rank. Guilty of repetition, being CES eligible alone does not qualify her appointment as a permanent one, for there is a necessity for her appointment to an appropriate CES rank to attain security of tenure. That being said, We consider Lodevico’s appointment as mere temporary. Such being the case, her services may be terminated with or without cause as she merely serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority. “[T]he temporary appointee accepts the position with the condition that he shall surrender the office when called upon to do so by the appointing authority.” Consequently, her removal from service based on MC Nos. 1 and 2, which discharged all non-CESO occupying CES positions in all agencies, was proper. (Career Executive Service Board v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 196890, January 11, 2018)] 

Salaries and Benefits 

BCDA v. COA (599 Phil. 455 [2009]) declared that the BCDA Charter does not state that Board members may receive benefits other than per diems. Had its Charter intended the Board to receive other such benefits, then it would have expressly provided it. Similarly, in the present case, Section 8 of the DBP Charter only mentions per diem as the Board’s compensation, hence, all other compensations are excluded. (Development Bank of the Philippines v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 221706, March 13, 2018) 

Applying the rationale in this case, Section 8 of the DBP Charter, which expressly states that Board members will receive per diems, would be rendered inoperative if the Board, with the approval of the President, would grant additional benefits not cited under the law. Further, limitations on the increase of the per diems would also be rendered futile because the Board could disregard the same in allowing additional and higher benefits. (Development Bank of the Philippines v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 221706, March 13, 2018) 

[Note: Likewise, to adopt the view of the DBP would result in unbridled grant of benefits to the Board members. There are no limitations in the law that would restrain the benefits which could be readily created by the Board. The grant of additional compensation of the Board members would rest solely in the hands of the executive branch, through the authority of the DBP and with the approval of the President; and the legislative branch would have no prerogative in determining the limits of such compensation. (Development Bank of the Philippines v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 221706, March 13, 2018)] 

[Note: The COA doubts the alleged approval of President Arroyo of the DBP Memorandum because it was placed in a separate note; in contrast, DBP insists on the said approval being authentic. Nevertheless, considering that the Board cannot grant additional benefits to its members, other than per diems, then the President’s approval of the DBP Memorandum is immaterial. Again, under the DBP Charter, only the per diems of its members may be increased by the Board with the approval of the President. Notably, in BCDA v. COA, the compensation and benefit scheme was approved by then President Fidel V. Ramos (President Ramos), but the Court affirmed the disallowance of additional benefits because the BCDA Charter only allowed per diems as compensation of the Board members. (Development Bank of the Philippines v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 221706, March 13, 2018)] 

Appointments 

Appointment, by its very nature, is a highly discretionary act. As an exercise of political discretion, the appointing authority is afforded a wide latitude in the selection of personnel in his department or agency and seldom questioned, the same being a matter of wisdom and personal preference. In certain occasions, however, the selection of the appointing authority is subject to review by respondent CSC as the central personnel agency of the Government. In this regard, while there appears to be a conflict between the two interests, i.e., the discretion of the appointing authority and the reviewing authority of the CSC, this issue is hardly a novel one. In countless occasions, the Court has ruled that the only function of the CSC is merely to ascertain whether the appointee possesses the minimum requirements under the law; if it is so, then the CSC has no choice but to attest to such appointment. (Cerilles v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 180845, June 6, 2018) 

As early as Gayatao v. Civil Service Commission (285 Phil. 652 [1992]), which is analogous to this case, the Court already ruled that in instances of reorganization, there is no encroachment on the discretion of the appointing authority when the CSC revokes an appointment on the ground that the removal of the employee was done in bad faith. In such instance, the CSC is not actually directing the appointment of another but simply ordering the reinstatement of the illegally removed employee xxx. (Cerilles v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 180845, June 6, 2018) 

Discipline A civil servant is considered habitually absent when ―he or she incurs ‘unauthorized absences exceeding the allowable 2.5 days monthly leave credit under the law for at least three (3) months in a semester or at least three (3) consecutive months during the year.‖ To stress, mere failure to file leave of absence does not by itself result in any administrative liability. However, unauthorized absence is punishable if the same becomes frequent or habitual. In turn, absences become habitual when an officer or employee in the civil service exceeds the allowable monthly leave credit (2.5 days) within the given time frame. (Balloguing v. Dagan, A.M. No. P-17-3645, January 30, 2018) 

Misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public officer. To warrant dismissal from the service, the misconduct must be grave, serious, important, weighty, momentous, and not trifling. The misconduct must imply wrongful intention and not a mere error of judgment. 

The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law, or to disregard established rules, which must be established by substantial evidence. As distinguished from simple misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established rule, must be manifest in a charge of grave misconduct. Corruption, as an element of grave misconduct, consists in the act of an official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his station or character to procure some benefit for himself or for another person, contrary to duty and the rights of others.

Dishonesty, on the other hand, is the disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, defraud, or betray; unworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity, or integrity in principle; and lack of fairness and straightforwardness. It is a malevolent act that makes people unfit to serve the Judiciary. 

Conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service pertains to any conduct that is detrimental or derogatory or naturally or probably bringing about a wrong result; it refers to acts or omissions that violate the norm of public accountability and diminish – or tend to diminish – the people’s faith in the Judiciary. 

Insubordination, meanwhile, is defined as a refusal to obey some order, which a superior officer is entitled to give and have obeyed. The term imports a willful or intentional disregard of the lawful and reasonable instruction of the employer. (Zarate-Fernandez v. Lovendino, A.M. No. P-16-3530 [Formerly A.M. No. 16-08-306-RTC], March 6, 2018) 

Nevertheless, as the OCA correctly pointed out, dropping from the rolls is non-disciplinary in nature, and thus, Sumangil’s separation from the service shall neither result in the forfeiture of his benefits nor disqualification from reemployment in the government. (Re: Dropping from the Rolls of Mr. Florante B. Sumangil, A.M. No. 18-04-79-RTC, June 20, 2018) 

Reorganizations 

The following may be derived from the cited provisions – First, an officer or employee may be validly removed from service pursuant to a bona fide reorganization; in such case, there is no violation of security of tenure and the aggrieved employee has no cause of action against the appointing authority. Second, if, on the other hand, the reorganization is done in bad faith, as when the enumerated circumstances in Section 2 are present, the aggrieved employee, having been removed without valid cause, may demand for his reinstatement or reappointment. Third, officers and employees holding permanent appointments in the old staffing pattern shall be given preference for appointment to the new positions in the approved staffing pattern, which shall be comparable to their former position or in case there are not enough comparable positions, to positions next lower in rank. Lastly, no new employees shall be taken in until all permanent officers and employees have been appointed unless such positions are policy-determining, primarily confidential, or highly technical in nature. (Cerilles v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 180845, June 6, 2018, citing Sections 2 and 4 of Republic Act No. 6656) 

[Note: Applying the foregoing to the facts of this case, the Court finds that Respondents were able to prove bad faith in the reorganization of the Province of Zamboanga del Sur. xxx. First, the sheer number of appointments found to be violative of RA 6656 is astounding. As initially observed by the CSCRO, no less than ninety-six (96) of the appointments made by Gov. Cerilles violated the rule on preference and non-hiring of new employees embodied in Sections 4 and 5 of the said law. While the relative scale of invalidated appointments does not conclusively rule out good faith, there is, at the very least, a strong indication that the reorganization was motivated not solely by the interest of economy and efficiency, but as a systematic means to circumvent the security of tenure of the ninety-six (96) employees affected. Second, Respondents were replaced by either new employees or those holding lower positions in the old staffing pattern – circumstances that may be properly appreciated as evidence of bad faith pursuant to Section 2 and Section 4 of RA 6656. Significantly, Gov. Cerilles plainly admitted that new employees were indeed hired after the reorganization. xxx. Moreover, the Court notes that the positions of Respondents were not even abolished. However, instead of giving life to the clear mandate of RA 6656 on preference, Gov. Cerilles terminated Respondents from the service and forthwith appointed other employees in their stead. Neither did Gov. Cerilles, at the very least, demote them to lesser positions if indeed there was a reduction in the number of positions corresponding to Respondents’ previous positions. (Cerilles v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 180845, June 6, 2018)] 

All told, the Court finds that the totality of the circumstances gathered from the records reasonably lead to the conclusion that the reorganization of the Province of Zamboanga del Sur was tainted with bad faith. For this reason, following the ruling in Larin, Respondents are entitled to no less than reinstatement to their former positions without loss of seniority rights and shall be entitled to full backwages from the time of their separation until actual reinstatement; or, in the alternative, in case they have already compulsorily retired during the pendency of this case, they shall be awarded the corresponding retirement benefits during the period for which they have been retired. (Cerilles v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 180845, June 6, 2018) 

[Note: The Court is not unmindful of the plight of the incumbents who were appointed after the reorganization in place of Respondents. However, as a result of the illegal termination of Respondents, there was technically no vacancy to which the incumbents could have been appointed. Cerilles v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 180845, June 6, 2018)] 

Appeals While no decision on the appeals was ever rendered by Gov. Cerilles, it would be unjust to require Respondents to first await an issuance before elevating the matter to the CSC, given Gov. Cerilles’ delay in resolving the same. In such case, an appointing authority could easily eliminate all opportunities of appeal by the aggrieved employees by mere inaction. It is well-settled that procedural rules must not be applied with unreasonable rigidity if substantial rights stand to be marginalized; here, no less than Respondents’ means of livelihood are at stake. Proceeding therefrom, the Court cannot therefore ascribe any fault to the CSCRO in resolving the appeals of Respondents due to Gov. Cerilles’ refusal to act, especially since the CSC is, in any case, vested with jurisdiction to review the decision of the appointing authority. (Cerilles v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 180845, June 6, 2018) 

Retirement 

Severance of employment is a condition sine qua non for the release of retirement benefits. Retirement benefits are not meant to recompense employees who are still in the employ of the government; that is the function of salaries and emoluments. Retirement benefits are in the nature of a reward granted by the State to a government employee who has given the best years of his life to the service of his country.” (Government Service Insurance System Board of Trustees v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 230953, June 20, 2018) 

[Note: While Demonteverde met the two conditions for entitlement to benefits under R.A. No. 8291 in 2001, i.e., she had rendered at least fifteen (15) years in government service as a regular member, and she turned sixty (60) years of age, she continued to serve the government and did not, at that time, sever her employment with the government. Thus, not having retired from service when she turned 60 on February 22, 2001, she cannot claim that her right to retirement benefits had already accrued then. (Government Service Insurance System Board of Trustees v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 230953, June 20, 2018)] 

In fine, this Court finds it proper to emphasize that Demonteverde’s filing of separate retirement claims for her government service outside of the Judiciary and in the Judiciary was unnecessary and unwarranted. Apart from the fact that she continued to serve the government as a trial court judge after serving the NEA, the DBP, and the PAO for a total of 32 years, her service in these government agencies is creditable as part of her overall government service for retirement purposes under R.A. No. 910, as amended. (Government Service Insurance System Board of Trustees v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 230953, June 20, 2018) Considering the express wordings of R.A. No. 910, which include service “in any other branch of the Government” as creditable service in the computation of the retirement benefits of a justice or judge, Demonteverde’s years of service as in the NEA, the DBP, and the PAO were already correctly credited by the OCA as part of her government service when it granted her retirement application for her service in the Judiciary from June 30, 1995 until her retirement on February 22, 2011. (Government Service Insurance System Board of Trustees v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 230953, June 20, 2018) 

Commission on Elections 

Petitioner is correct in his contention that a prior judgment is not a precondition to filing a Petition for Disqualification. Nevertheless, the petition must necessarily fail for lack of substantial evidence to establish that private respondent committed an election offense. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

As enunciated, the COMELEC’s adjudicative function over election contests is quasi-judicial in character since the COMELEC is a governmental body, other than a court, that is vested with jurisdiction to decide the specific class of controversies it is charged with resolving. In adjudicating the rights of persons before it, the COMELEC is not just empowered but is in fact required to investigate facts or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, weigh evidence, and draw conclusions from them as basis for their official action and exercise of discretion in a judicial nature. This is simply in congruence with the concept of due process that all administrative adjudicatory bodies are enjoined to observe. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

The COMELEC is, thus, fully-clothed with authority to make factual determinations in relation to the election contests before it. This has been the thrust of the decades worth of constitutional revisions that transformed the COMELEC from a purely administrative body, whose scope of decision-making is limited to those incidental to its duty to enforce election laws, to a polling commission that also exercises original and exclusive, as well as appellate, jurisdiction over election contests. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

Considering the historical evolution of the COMELEC, the Court now declares that the polling body has full adjudicatory powers to resolve election contests outside the jurisdiction of the electoral tribunals. To rule otherwise would be an act of regression, contrary to the intent behind the constitutional innovations creating and further strengthening the Commission. There is no novelty in this pronouncement, but merely a reinstatement of Our consistent jurisprudence prior to Poe. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

[Note: In the landmark case of Aratea v. COMELEC, for instance, the COC of Romeo D. Lonzanida was cancelled and declared void ab initio because of his misrepresentation as to his eligibility. He knew fully well that he had been elected, and had served, as mayor of San Antonio, Zambales for more than three consecutive terms yet he still certified that he was eligible to run for mayor for the next succeeding term, thus constituting false material representation. No prior judgment recognizing Lonzanida’s service for three terms was necessary to effect the cancellation of his COC. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018)] 

[Note: In Maquiling v. COMELEC, Linog G. Balua, through a petition treated as one for cancellation and/or denial of due course of COC, contended that Rommel Arnado is not a resident of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and that the latter is a foreigner based on a certification by the Bureau of Immigration indicating that Arnado is American. The Court did not find issue in the COMELEC’s authority to make a factual determination as to Arnado’s citizenship and residence, though We eventually reversed the COMELEC En Banc‘s ruling and reinstated that of its First Division based on Our own appreciation of the evidence on record. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018)] 

[Note: And in Cerafica v. COMELEC, the Court reversed the COMELEC’s ruling not because of any alleged lack of authority to make factual determinations as to the eligibility of a candidate, but, quite the contrary, because it did not make use of the same authority. To reiterate, the COMELEC, as an adjunct to its adjudicatory power, may investigate facts or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, weigh evidence, and draw conclusions from them as basis for their official action. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018)] 

It may be true that the sole ground for Petitions to Deny Due Course or to Cancel COC is false material representation compounded by intent to deceive on the part of the candidate; and that the intent to deceive or mislead will be difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain absent an established fact that the candidate deviated from. Contrary to Poe, the Court categorically rules herein that the COMELEC can be the proper body to make the pronouncement against which the truth or falsity of a material representation in a COC can be measured. But lest it be misunderstood, these disquisitions will not by any means alter the outcome of Poe, for even if We dispense the requirement of a predicate judgment therein and uphold the jurisdiction of the COMELEC, the Court’s conclusion would still find mooring on the factual findings on Poe’s Filipino blood relation and residency. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

The essence of a disqualification proceeding that invokes Sec. 68 of the OEC is to bar an individual from becoming a candidate or from continuing as a candidate for public office based not on the candidate’s lack of qualification, but on his possession of a disqualification as declared by a final decision of a competent court, or as found by the Commission. The jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify candidates is limited to those enumerated in Section 68 of the OEC. All other election offenses are beyond the ambit of COMELEC jurisdiction. Meanwhile, for a Petition to Deny Due Course or to Cancel COC under Sec. 78 of the OEC to prosper, the candidate must have made a material misrepresentation involving his eligibility or qualification for the office to which he seeks election, such as the requisite residency, age, citizenship or any other legal qualification necessary to run for elective office enumerated under Sec. 74 of the OEC. Moreover, the false representation under Sec. 78 must consist of a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. The relief is granted not because of the candidate’s lack of eligibility per se, but because of his or her false misrepresentation of possessing the statutory qualifications. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

The doctrine in Poe was never meant to apply to Petitions for Disqualification. A prior court judgment is not required before the remedy under Sec. 68 of the OEC can prosper. This is highlighted by the provision itself, which contemplates of two scenarios: first, there is a final decision by a competent court that the candidate is guilty of an election offense and second, it is the Commission itself that found that the candidate committed any of the enumerated prohibited acts. Noteworthy is that in the second scenario, it is not required that there be a prior final judgment; it is sufficient that the Commission itself made the determination. The conjunction “or” separating “competent court” and “the Commission” could only mean that the legislative intent was for both bodies to be clothed with authority to ascertain whether or not there is evidence that the respondent candidate ought to be disqualified. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

Furthermore, the quantum of proof necessary in election cases is, as in all administrative cases, substantial evidence. This is defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind will accept as adequate to support a conclusion. To impose prior conviction of an election offense as a condition sine qua non before a Petition for Disqualification can be launched would be tantamount to requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, which is significantly beyond what our laws require. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

The distinction between the electoral aspect from the criminal one was further amplified in Ejercito. There, the Court rebuked therein petitioner’s assertion that the conduct of preliminary investigation to determine whether the acts enumerated under Section 68 of the OEC were indeed committed is a requirement prior to actual disqualification. Resultantly, the Court upheld the COMELEC’s disqualification of petitioner Emilio Ramon Ejercito even though there has yet to be any finding of probable cause, let alone guilt, that he spent more than the threshold amount prescribed under Sections 100-103 of the OEC, an election offense under Section 262 of the same code. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

Neither a prior conviction nor even a determination of probable cause is then a requirement before a Petition for Disqualification can be lodged. Credit must be given to petitioner for his apt observation that to rule otherwise would render inutile the remedy under Section 68 of the OEC insofar as the specific ground raised herein is concerned. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018) 

[Note: We are, therefore, constrained to rule that the COMELEC erred when, relying on Poe, it imposed the requirement of a prior court judgment before resolving the current controversy. (Francisco v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 230249, April 24, 2018] 

Commission on Audit 

The issues raised by petitioner Transco have been resolved in the similar case of National Transmission Corporation v. Commission on Audit (G.R. No. 223625, November 22, 2016), where the Court sustained the disallowance of a portion of the separation benefits of an employee corresponding to the period when he was still a contractual employee. In that case, the Court ruled that, under the EPIRA Law, contractual employees are entitled to separation benefits only if their appointments have been approved or attested to by the CSC. (National Transmission Corporation v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 227796, February 20, 2018) 

[Note: In this case, since there was no proof that Agulto’s appointment was duly approved or attested to by the CSC, the disallowance of the amount of P22,965.81 was valid and proper. Thus, the Court finds no grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent COA-CP in sustaining the disallowance. The disallowed amount, however, need not be refunded by the members of petitioner Transco’s Board of Directors as well as by Agulto, following the ruling of the Court in National Transmission Corporation xxx. (National Transmission Corporation v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 227796, February 20, 2018)] 

… the COA was correct in holding that the benefits given under the CNA were not allowed under Executive Order (EO) 180 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) because the benefits given by the CESB to its employees and officers were not subject to negotiation. xxx. The validity of the disallowance notwithstanding, we note that the CESB’s officials who authorized and caused the payment of the CNA benefits to covered officers and employees, and the latter as the recipients of the disallowed payments enjoyed the benefit of good faith and should be absolved from the liability to refund. (Career Executive Service Board v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 212348, June 19, 2018) 

Local Government 

Incidentally, in People v. Pantaleon, Jr., et al. (600 Phil. 186 [2009]), the Court held that a municipal mayor, being the chief executive of his respective municipality, is deemed an accountable officer, and is thus responsible for all the government funds within his jurisdiction. (Venezuela v. People, G.R. No. 205693, February 14, 2018) 

It is settled that an ordinance’s validity shall be upheld if the following requisites are present: First, the local government unit must possess the power to enact an ordinance covering a particular subject matter and according to the procedure prescribed by law. Second, the ordinance must not contravene the fundamental law of the land, or an act of the legislature, or must not be against public policy or must not be unreasonable, oppressive, partial, discriminating or in derogation of a common right. (Evasco v. Montañez, G.R. No. 199172, February 21, 2018) 

Under the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991, a municipality is bereft of authority to levy and impose franchise tax on franchise holders within its territorial jurisdiction. That authority belongs to provinces and cities only. A franchise tax levied by a municipality is, thus, null and void. The nullity is not cured by the subsequent conversion of the municipality into a city. (City of Pasig v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 181710, March 7, 2018) 

[Note: The doctrinal rule on the matter still rings true to this day – that the conversion of the municipality into a city does not remove the original infirmity of the subject ordinance. Such doctrine, evoked in Arabay and SMC, is squarely relevant in the case at bar. In these two separate cases, the sales taxes were paid by the petitioners pursuant to ordinances enacted prior to the conversion of the respondents into cities, or at which time, the latter were without authority to levy the said taxes. Finding the municipal ordinances to be void, the Court minced no words in declaring the payments of taxes under the ordinances to be without basis even if subsequently the respondents became cities. Fittingly, the Court ordered the refund of the said taxes to the petitioners. 

We find the instant case no different from Arabay and SMC. As in those cases, the cityhood law (R.A. No. 7829) of Pasig cannot breathe life into Section 32 of Municipal Ordinance No. 25, ostensibly by bringing it within the ambit of Section 151 of the LGC that authorizes cities to levy the franchise tax under Section 137 of the same law. It is beyond cavil that Section 32 of Municipal Ordinance No. 25 is an act that is null and void ab initio. It is even of little consequence that Pasig sought to collect only those taxes after its conversion into a city. A void ordinance, or provision thereof, is what it is – a nullity that produces no legal effect. It cannot be enforced; and no right could spring forth from it. The cityhood of Pasig notwithstanding, it has no right to collect franchise tax under the assailed ordinance. 

Besides, the City of Pasig had apparently misunderstood Arabay. In that case, the taxes subject of the refund claim included those paid after the conversion of Dipolog into a city. Thus, while the creation of the City of Dipolog was effective on 1 January 1970, the petitioner, Arabay, Inc., applied for the refund of taxes paid under the questioned ordinance for the period from December 1969 to July 1972. (City of Pasig v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 181710, March 7, 2018)] 

[Note: As we see it, the cited law does not lend any help to the City of Pasig’s cause. It is crystal clear from the said law that what shall continue to be in force after the conversion of Pasig into a city are the municipal ordinances existing as of the time of the approval of R.A. No. 7829. The provision contemplates ordinances that are valid and legal from their inception; that upon the approval of R.A. No. 7829, their effectivity and enforcement shall continue. To ‘continue’ means (1) to be steadfast or constant in a course or activity; (2) to keep going: maintain a course, direction, or progress; or (3) to remain in a place or condition. It presupposes something already existing. A void ordinance cannot legally exist, it cannot have binding force and effect. Such is Section 32 of Municipal Ordinance No. 25 and, being so, is outside the comprehension of Section 45 of R.A. No. 7829. (City of Pasig v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 181710, March 7, 2018)] 

[Note: Neither can the bare invocation of the principle of local autonomy provide succor to settle any ambiguity in Section 42 of R.A. No. 7829 if doubt as to its meaning may even be supposed. While we can agree that an ambiguity in the law concerning local taxing powers must be resolved in favor of fiscal autonomy, we are hampered by the nullity of Section 32 of Municipal Ordinance No. 25. At the risk of being repetitive, the said ordinance cannot be given legal effect. It must be borne in mind that the constitutionally ordained policy of local fiscal autonomy was not intended by the framers to be absolute. It does not provide unfettered authority to tax objects of any kind. The very source of local governments’ authority to tax also empowered Congress to provide limitations on the exercise of such taxing powers. Precisely, Congress’ act of withdrawing from municipalities the power to levy franchise tax by virtue of Section 142 of the LGC is a valid exercise of its constitutional authority In this case, the validity of the municipal ordinance imposing a franchise tax cannot be made to rest upon the ambiguity of a provision of law (Section 42, R.A. No. 7829) operating supposedly, albeit mistakenly, under the context of promoting local autonomy. Regard, too, must be made for the equally important doctrine that a doubt or ambiguity arising out of the term used in granting the power of taxation must be resolved against the local government unit. (City of Pasig v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 181710, March 7, 2018)] 

Accountability of Public Officers 

Accountability 

The fundamental notion that one’s tenure in government springs exclusively from the trust reposed by the public means that continuance in office is contingent upon the extent to which one is able to maintain that trust. (Office of the Ombudsman v. Regalado, G.R. Nos. 208481-82, February 7, 2018) 

As a final note, this Court has repeatedly emphasized the time-honored rule that a “[p]ublic office is a public trust [and] [p]ublic officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives.” This high constitutional standard of conduct is not intended to be mere rhetoric and taken lightly as those in the public service are enjoined to fully comply with this standard or run the risk of facing administrative sanctions ranging from reprimand to the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service. Thus, public officers, as recipients of public trust, are under obligation to perform the duties of their offices honestly, faithfully, and to the best of their ability. (Sabio v. Field Investigation Office [FIO], Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 229882, February 13, 2018) 

It is hornbook doctrine in administrative law that administrative cases are independent from criminal actions for the same acts or omissions. Thus, an absolution from a criminal charge is not a bar to an administrative prosecution, or vice versa. Given the differences in the quantum of evidence required, the procedures actually observed, the sanctions imposed, as well as the objective of the two proceedings, the findings and conclusions in one should not necessarily be binding on the other. Hence, the exoneration in the administrative case is not a bar to a criminal prosecution for the same or similar acts which were the subject of the administrative complaint or vice versa. (Flores v. People, G.R. No. 222861, April 23, 2018) 

[Note: In the case at bar, the administrative case for grave misconduct filed against petitioner and the present case for simple robbery are separate and distinct cases, and are independent from each other. The administrative and criminal proceedings may involve similar facts but each requires a different quantum of evidence. In addition, the administrative proceeding conducted was before the PNP-IAS and was summary in nature. In contrast, in the instant criminal case, the RTC conducted a full blown trial and the prosecution was required to proffer proof beyond reasonable doubt to secure petitioner’s conviction. Furthermore, the proceedings included witnesses who were key figures in the events leading to petitioner’s arrest. Witnesses of both parties were cross-examined by their respective counsels creating a clearer picture of what transpired, which allowed the trial judge to have a better appreciation of the attendant facts and determination of whether the prosecution proved the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt. (Flores v. People, G.R. No. 222861, April 23, 2018)] 

Clearly, whether or not a person is a director or an officer of a corporation, so long as he or she is the party responsible for the offense, he or she is the party that ought to be charged. Thus, while the Board of Directors is primarily responsible for the sale, respondents may still be held liable for offenses if they knowingly entered into, facilitated, or participated in their execution and ensured their implementation. (Canlas v. Bongolan, G.R. No. 199625, June 6, 2018) 

The complaint charging the petitioner with the violations was filed only on October 28, 2004, or 13 years after the April 30, 1991 deadline for the submission of the SALN for 1990, and 12 years after the April 30, 1992 deadline for the submission of the SALN for 1991. With the offenses charged against the petitioner having already prescribed after eight years in accordance with Section 1 of Act No. 3326, the informations filed against the petitioner were validly quashed. (Del Rosario v. People, G.R. No. 199930, June 27, 2018) 

This Court’s ruling in Arias v. Sandiganbayan cannot exonerate petitioners from criminal liability. Arias laid down the doctrine that heads of offices may, in good faith, rely to a certain extent on the acts of their subordinates “who prepare bids, purchase supplies, or enter into negotiations.” This is based upon the recognition that heads of offices cannot be expected to examine every single document relative to government transactions. xxx. The application of the doctrine is subject to the qualification that the public official has no foreknowledge of any facts or circumstances that would prompt him or her to investigate or exercise a greater degree of care. In a number of cases, this Court refused to apply the Arias doctrine considering that there were circumstances that should have prompted the government official to inquire further. (Abubakar v. People, G.R. Nos. 202408, 202409, and 202412, June 27, 2018) 

[Note: In the present case, the Arias doctrine cannot exonerate petitioners Abubakar, Baraguir, or Guiani from criminal liability. There were circumstances that should have prompted them to make further inquiries on the transactions subject of this case. (Abubakar v. People, G.R. Nos. 202408, 202409, and 202412, June 27, 2018)] 

Impeachment 

Quo warranto and impeachment are, thus, not mutually exclusive remedies and may even proceed simultaneously. The existence of other remedies against the usurper does not prevent the State from commencing a quo warranto proceeding. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

―The causes of action in the two proceedings are unequivocally different. In quo warranto, the cause of action lies on the usurping, intruding, or unlawfully holding or exercising of a public office, while in impeachment, it is the commission of an impeachable offense. Stated in a different manner, the crux of the controversy in this quo warranto proceedings is the determination of whether or not respondent legally holds the Chief Justice position to be considered as an impeachable officer in the first place. On the other hand, impeachment is for respondent’s prosecution for certain impeachable offenses. To be sure, respondent is not being prosecuted herein for such impeachable offenses enumerated in the Articles of Impeachment. Instead, the resolution of this case shall be based on established facts and related laws. Simply put, while respondent’s title to hold a public office is the issue in quo warranto proceedings, impeachment necessarily presupposes that respondent legally holds the public office and thus, is an impeachable officer, the only issue being whether or not she committed impeachable offenses to warrant her removal from office.‖ (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

Likewise, the reliefs sought in the two proceedings are different. Under the Rules on quo warranto, “when the respondent is found guilty of usurping, intruding into, or unlawfully holding or exercising a public office, xxx, judgment shall be rendered that such respondent be ousted and altogether excluded therefrom, xxx.‖ In short, respondent in a quo warranto proceeding shall be adjudged to cease from holding a public office, which he/she is ineligible to hold. On the other hand, in impeachment, a conviction for the charges of impeachable offenses shall result to [sic] the removal of the respondent from the public office that he/she is legally holding. It is not legally possible to impeach or remove a person from an office that he/she, in the first place, does not and cannot legally hold or occupy. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

Respondent anchors her position that she can be removed from office only by impeachment on the Court’s ruling in Lecaroz v. Sandiganbayan, Cuenca v. Fernan, In Re Gonzales, Jarque v. Desierto and Marcoleta v. Borra. It should be stressed, however, that none of these cases concerned the validity of an impeachable officer’s appointment. Lecaroz involved a criminal charge against a mayor before the Sandiganbayan, while the rest were disbarment cases filed against impeachable officers principally for acts done during their tenure in public office. Whether the impeachable officer unlawfully held his office or whether his appointment was void was not an issue raised before the Court. The principle laid down in said cases is to the effect that during their incumbency, impeachable officers cannot be criminally prosecuted for an offense that carries with it the penalty of removal, and if they are required to be members of the Philippine Bar, to qualify for their positions, they cannot be charged with disbarment. The proscription does not extend to actions assailing the public officer’s title or right to the office he or she occupies. The ruling therefore cannot serve as authority to hold that a quo warranto action can never be filed against an impeachable officer. In issuing such pronouncement, the Court is presumed to have been aware of its power to issue writs of quo warranto under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

In fact, this would not be the first time the Court shall take cognizance of a quo warranto petition against an impeachable officer. In the consolidated cases of Estrada v. Desierto, et al. and Estrada v. Macapagal-Arroyo, the Court took cognizance and assumed jurisdiction over the quo warranto petition filed against respondent therein who, at the time of the filing of the petition, had taken an oath and assumed the Office of the President. Petitioner therein prayed for judgment confirming him to be the lawful and incumbent President of the Republic temporarily unable to discharge the duties of his office, and declaring respondent to have taken her oath and to be holding the Office of the President, only in an acting capacity. In fact, in the said cases, there was not even a claim that respondent therein was disqualified from holding office and accordingly challenged respondent’s status as de jure 14th President of the Republic. By entertaining the quo warranto petition, the Court in fact determined whether then President Estrada has put an end to his official status by his alleged act of resignation. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

The provision uses the permissive term “may” which, in statutory construction, denotes discretion and cannot be construed as having a mandatory effect. We have consistently held that the term “may” is indicative of a mere possibility, an opportunity or an option. The grantee of that opportunity is vested with a right or faculty which he has the option to exercise. An option to remove by impeachment admits of an alternative mode of effecting the removal. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

We hold, therefore, that by its tenor, Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution allows the institution of a quo warranto action against an impeachable officer. After all, a quo warranto petition is predicated on grounds distinct from those of impeachment. The former questions the validity of a public officer’s appointment while the latter indicts him for the so-called impeachable offenses without questioning his title to the office he holds. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

Further, that the enumeration of “impeachable offenses” is made absolute, that is, only those enumerated offenses are treated as grounds for impeachment, is not equivalent to saying that the enumeration likewise purport [sic] to be a complete statement of the causes of removal from office. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

The courts should be able to inquire into the validity of appointments even of impeachable officers. To hold otherwise is to allow an absurd situation where the appointment of an impeachable officer cannot be questioned even when, for instance, he or she has been determined to be of foreign nationality or, in offices where Bar membership is a qualification, when he or she fraudulently represented to be a member of the Bar. Unless such an officer commits any of the grounds for impeachment and is actually impeached, he can continue discharging the functions of his office even when he is clearly disqualified from holding it. Such would result in permitting unqualified and ineligible public officials to continue occupying key positions, exercising sensitive sovereign functions until they are successfully removed from office through impeachment. This could not have been the intent of the framers of the Constitution. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, May 11, 2018) 

A quo warranto proceeding is the proper legal remedy to determine a person’s right or title to a public office and to oust the holder from its enjoyment. It is the proper action to inquire into a public officer’s eligibility or the validity of his appointment. Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto proceeding involves a judicial determination of the right to the use or exercise of the office. 

Impeachment, on the other hand, is a political process undertaken by the legislature to determine whether the public officer committed any of the impeachable offenses, namely, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. It does not ascertain the officer’s eligibility for appointment or election, or challenge the legality of his assumption of office. Conviction for any of the impeachable offenses shall result in the removal of the impeachable official from office. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018) 

Respondent, however, argues that quo warranto petitions may be filed against the President and Vice-President under the PET Rules “only because the Constitution specifically permits” them under Section 4, Article VII. According to respondent, no counterpart provision exists in the Constitution giving the same authority to the Court over the Chief Justice, the members of the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman. Respondent, thus, asserts that the Constitution made a distinction between elected and appointive impeachable officials, and limited quo warranto to elected impeachable officials. For these reasons, respondent concludes that by constitutional design, the Court is denied power to remove any of its members. 

The Court is not convinced. The argument, to begin with, acknowledges that the Constitution in fact allows quo warranto actions against impeachable officers, albeit respondent limits them to the President and Vice-President. This admission refutes the very position taken by respondent that all impeachable officials cannot be sued through quo warranto because they belong to a “privileged class” of officers who can be removed only through impeachment. To be sure, Lecaroz, etc. did not distinguish between elected and appointed impeachable officers. 

Furthermore, that the Constitution does not show a counterpart provision to paragraph 7 of Section 4, Article VII for members of this Court or the Constitutional Commissions does not mean that quo warranto cannot extend to non-elected impeachable officers. The authority to hear quo warranto petitions against appointive impeachable officers emanates from Section 5(1) of Article VIII which grants quo warranto jurisdiction to this Court without qualification as to the class of public officers over whom the same may be exercised. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018) 

By its plain language, however, Section 2 of Article XI does not preclude a quo warranto action questioning an impeachable officer’s qualifications to assume office. These qualifications include age, citizenship and professional experience – matters which are manifestly outside the purview of impeachment under the above-cited provision. 

Furthermore, Section 2 of Article XI cannot be read in isolation from Section 5(1) of Article VIII of the Constitution which gives this Court its quo warranto jurisdiction, or from Section 4, paragraph 7 of Article VII of the Constitution which designates the Court as the sole judge of the qualifications of the President and Vice-President. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018) 

Section 2 of Article XI provides that the impeachable officers may be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. Lack of qualifications for appointment or election is evidently not among the stated grounds for impeachment. It is, however, a ground for a quo warranto action over which this Court was given original jurisdiction under Section 5(1) of Article VIII. The grant of jurisdiction was not confined to unimpeachable officers. In fact, under Section 4, paragraph 7 of Article VII, this Court was expressly authorized to pass upon the qualifications of the President and Vice-President. Thus, the proscription against the removal of public officers other than by impeachment does not apply to quo warranto actions assailing the impeachable officer’s eligibility for appointment or election. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018) 

Determining title to the office on the basis of a public officer’s qualifications is the function of quo warranto. For this reason, impeachment cannot be treated as a substitute for quo warranto. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018) 

To disabuse wandering minds, there is nothing violative or intrusive of the Senate’s power to remove impeachable officials in the main Decision. In fact, in the said assailed Decision, We recognized that the Senate has the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. We have extensively discussed therein that the Court merely exercised its Constitutional duty to resolve a legal question referring to respondent’s qualification as a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. We also emphasized that this Court’s action never intends to deprive the Congress of its mandate to make a determination on impeachable officials’ culpability for acts committed while in office. We even explained that impeachment and quo warranto may proceed independently and simultaneously, albeit a ruling of removal or ouster of the respondent in one case will preclude the same ruling in the other due to legal impossibility and mootness. (Republic v. Sereno, G.R. No. 237428, Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration, June 19, 2018) 

Sandiganbayan 

It is undisputed that petitioner is a low-ranking public officer having a salary grade below 27, whose appeal from the RTC’s ruling convicting him of six (6) counts of Malversation of Public Funds Through Falsification of Public Documents falls within the appellate jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, pursuant to Section 4 (c) of RA 8249 (prior to its amendment by RA 10660) xxx. Thus, since petitioner’s case properly falls within the appellate jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, his appeal was erroneously taken to the CA. (Dizon v. People, G.R. No. 227577, January 24, 2018) 

[Note: This notwithstanding, the Court finds that the foregoing error is not primarily attributable to petitioner, since the duty to transmit the records to the proper court devolves upon the RTC. xxx. Hence, all things considered, the Court finds that petitioner’s filing of the Motion to Endorse beyond the original fifteen (15)-day period – much more the erroneous transmittal of the case to the CA by the RTC – should not be taken against him, else it result in the injudicious dismissal of his appeal. (Dizon v. People, G.R. No. 227577, January 24, 2018)] 

It must be noted at the outset that the appellate jurisdiction of the Court over the decisions and final orders of the Sandiganbayan is limited to questions of law. (Venezuela v. People, G.R. No. 205693, February 14, 2018) 

Nevertheless, in as early as 1959, forfeiture in favor of the State of any property in an amount found to have been manifestly out of proportion to a public officer or employee’s salary or to the latter’s other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, has been sanctioned under Republic Act No. 1379 (R.A. 1379). Forfeiture proceedings under R.A. 1379 are civil in nature and actions for reconveyance, revision, accounting, restitution, and damages for ill-gotten wealth, as in this case, are also called civil forfeiture proceedings. Similar to civil cases, the quantum of evidence required for forfeiture proceedings is preponderance of evidence. (Republic v. Cuenca, G.R. No. 198393, April 4, 2018) 

[Note: To recover the unexplained or ill-gotten wealth reputedly amassed by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos, former President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. l and thereby gave birth to the PCGG with the task of recovering “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 through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship.” The recovery of the reputed ill-gotten wealth was both a matter of urgency and necessity and the right of the State to recover unlawfully acquired properties eventually found flesh under Section 15, Article XI of the Constitution. (Republic v. Cuenca, G.R. No. 198393, April 4, 2018)] 

Ombudsman 

Jurisprudence has so far settled that dismissal based on the grounds provided under Section 20 is not mandatory and is discretionary on the part of the evaluating Ombudsman or Deputy Ombudsman evaluating the administrative complaint. Clearly, as the law, its implementing rules, and interpretative jurisprudence stand, the dismissal by the Ombudsman on grounds provided under Section 20 is applicable only to administrative complaints. Its invocation in the present criminal case is therefore misplaced. (Espaldon v. Buban, G.R. No. 202784, April 18, 2018) 

[Note: Sec. 4. Evaluation. – Upon receipt of the complaint, the same shall be evaluated to determine whether the same may be dismissed outright for any of the grounds stated under Section 20 of Republic Act No. 6770, provided, however, that the dismissal thereof is not mandatory and shall be discretionary on the part of the Ombudsman or the Deputy Ombudsman concerned; xxx. (Note Administrative Order No. 17, amending Administrative Order No. 7, clarifying Section 20 of RA 6770, which, provides: The Office of the Ombudsman may not conduct the necessary investigation of any administrative act or omission complained of if it believes that: (1) The complainant has an adequate remedy in another judicial or quasi-judicial body; (2) The complaint pertains to a matter outside the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman; (3) The complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith; (4) The complainant has no sufficient personal interest in the subject matter of the grievance; or (5) The complaint was filed after one year from the occurrence of the act or omission complained of.) (See Espaldon v. Buban, G.R. No. 202784, April 18, 2018)] 

Contrariwise, the procedure in criminal cases requires that the Ombudsman evaluate the complaint and after evaluation, to make its recommendations in accordance with Section 2, Rule II of the Administrative Order No. 07 xxx. Thus, the only instance when an outright dismissal of a criminal complaint is warranted is when Orders would show that the Ombudsman found the complaint to have suffered from utter lack of merit. In fact, the assailed Orders are empty except for the citation of Section 20 as basis for outright dismissal. It is thus inaccurate and misleading for the Ombudsman to profess that the criminal complaint was dismissed only after the conduct of a preliminary investigation, when the complaint never reached that stage to begin with. Clearly, the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion when it evaluated and consequently dismissed a criminal complaint based on grounds peculiar to administrative cases and in an unexplained deviation from its own rules of procedure. (Espaldon v. Buban, G.R. No. 202784, April 18, 2018) 

It must be stressed that the Office of the Ombudsman is not a constitutional commission. (Ifurung v. Carpio-Morales, G.R. No. 232131, April 24, 2018) 

To the point of being monotonous, Art. IX of the 1987 Constitution refers exclusively to the constitutional commissions; thus, such proscription as to the appointment or designation in a temporary or acting capacity of a member applies only to the constitutional commissions and cannot extend to the Ombudsman and the deputies. Indeed, Art. XI of the Constitution does not provide for such a prohibition. (Ifurung v. Carpio-Morales, G.R. No. 232131, April 24, 2018) 

In our review of Sec. 8(3) of R.A. No. 6770, we note that in case of death, resignation, removal or permanent disability of the Ombudsman, the new Ombudsman shall be appointed for a full term. Undoubtedly, Sec. 8(3) of R.A. No. 6770 is consistent with sec. 11, Art. XI of the 1987 Constitution in so far as it provides to the Ombudsman and the deputies shall serve for a term of seven years. (Ifurung v. Carpio-Morales, G.R. No. 232131, April 24, 2018) 

In Dimayuga v. Office of the Ombudsman (528 Phil. 42, 51 [2006]), we held that the Office of the Ombudsman may, for every particular investigation, decide how best to pursue each investigation. This power gives the Office of the Ombudsman the discretion to dismiss without prejudice a preliminary investigation if it finds that the final decision of the COA is necessary for its investigation and future prosecution of the case. It may also pursue the investigation because it realizes that the decision of the COA is irrelevant or unnecessary to the investigation and prosecution of the case. Since the Office of the Ombudsman is granted such latitude, its varying treatment of similarly situated investigations cannot by itself be considered a violation of any of the parties’ rights to the equal protection of the laws. Nor in the present case, can it be considered a violation of petitioner’s right to due process. (Pasok v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 218413, June 6, 2018) 

Thus, no matter the identity of the complainant, the Ombudsman may act on the matter. Moreover, it may, on its own, inquire into illegal acts of public officials, which may be discovered from any source. xxx. However, if the “the complainant has no sufficient personal interest in the subject matter of the grievance,” the Ombudsman may choose not to investigate the administrative act complained of. xxx. Section 20 of Republic Act No. 6770 uses the word “may” which signifies that it is permissive and not imperative. The power of the Ombudsman to act on an administrative complaint by a person without any personal interest in the case is, thus, discretionary. xxx. Thus, the Ombudsman may prosecute or investigate the complaint with or without the complainant’s personal interest in the outcome of the case. xxx. Thus, the law allows the filing of cases to the Ombudsman against public officers by any complainant. The Ombudsman is a tool to maintain this faith. (Canlas v. Bongolan, G.R. No. 199625, June 6, 2018) 

… not all may appeal to question a decision of the Ombudsman. (Canlas v. Bongolan, G.R. No. 199625, June 6, 2018) 

[Note: In administrative cases filed under the Civil Service Law, an allowed appeal may only be brought by the party adversely affected by the decision. (Canlas v. Bongolan, G.R. No. 199625, June 6, 2018)] 

Thus, the Ombudsman’s decision may not be appealed if it dismisses the complaint or imposes the penalty of public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one (1) month, or a fine equivalent to one (1)-month salary. Otherwise, it may be appealed to the Court of Appeals under the requirements and conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. (Canlas v. Bongolan, G.R. No. 199625, June 6, 2018) 

[Note: In the case at bar, the Office of the Ombudsman’s October 12, 2010 Decision exonerated respondents. Thus, Canlas has no right to appeal this Decision. He has no other recourse. ―The right to appeal is a mere statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner prescribed by, and in accordance with, the provisions of law. There must then be a law expressly granting such right.” (Canlas v. Bongolan, G.R. No. 199625, June 6, 2018)] 

[Note: Generally, a decision by the Ombudsman absolving respondents is unappealable. However, if it is shown that the Ombudsman acted with grave abuse of discretion, then the complainant may file a Rule 65 Petition with the proper court. (Canlas v. Bongolan, G.R. No. 199625, June 6, 2018)] 

National Economy and Patrimony 

Section 3, Article XII applies only to lands of the public domain. Private lands are, therefore, outside of the prohibitions and limitations stated therein. Thus, the appellate court correctly declared that the 12-hectare limitation on the acquisition of lands under Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution has no application to private lands. (Republic v. Rovency Realty and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 190817, January 10, 2018) 

[Note: A case in point is the absolute prohibition on private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. This prohibition could be traced to the 1973 Constitution which limited the alienation of lands of the public domain to individuals who were citizens of the Philippines. This constitutional prohibition, however, does not necessarily mean that corporations may not apply for original registration of title to lands. In fact, the Court, in several instances, affirmed the grant of applications for original registration filed by corporations, for as long as the lands were already converted to private ownership by operation of law as a result of satisfying the requisite possession required by the Public Land Act. (Republic v. Rovency Realty and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 190817, January 10, 2018)] 

[Note: In Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court (230 Phil. 590, 597 [1986]) (Director of Lands), the Court granted the application for original registration of parcels of land filed by a corporation which acquired the lands by purchase from members of the Dumagat tribe. The Court ratiocinated that the lands applied for registration were already private lands even before the corporation acquired them. The Court observed that the sellers, being members of the national cultural minorities, had by themselves and through their predecessors, possessed and occupied the lands since time immemorial. As a consequence of their open, exclusive, and undisputed possession over the said lands for the period required by law for the acquisition of alienable lands of the public domain, said lands ceased to become part of the public land and were converted, by operation of law, into private ownership. As such, the sellers, if not for their conveyance of the lands in question to the corporation, were entitled to exercise the right granted to them by the Public Land Act to have their title judicially confirmed. Considering further that the lands in question were already private in character at the time the corporation acquired them, the constitutional prohibition does not apply to the corporation. 

In Republic v. TA.N. Properties (578 Phil. 441, 461 [2008]) (TA.N. Properties), the Court stressed that what is determinative for the application of the doctrine in Director of Lands is for the corporate applicant for land registration to establish that when it acquired the land, the same was already private land by operation of law because the statutory acquisitive prescriptive period of 30 years had already lapsed. 

The pronouncements in Director of Lands and TA.N. Properties apply with equal force to the 12-hectare limitation, considering that both the limitation and the prohibition on corporations to acquire lands do not cover ownership of private lands. Stated differently, whether RRDC can acquire the subject land and to what extent depends on whether the pieces of evidence it presented before the trial court sufficiently established that the subject land is alienable and disposable land of the public domain; and that the nature and duration of the possession of its individual predecessors-in-interest converted the subject land to private land by operation of law. (Republic v. Rovency Realty and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 190817, January 10, 2018)] 

[Note: The Civil Code makes it clear that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by private persons through prescription. This is brought about by Article 1113, which states that all things which are within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription, and that property of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. Nonetheless, this does not necessarily mean that when a piece of land is declared alienable and disposable part of the public domain, it can already be acquired by prescription. In Malabanan, this Court ruled that declaration of alienability and disposability is not enough – there must be an express declaration that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial, xxx. The classification of the land as alienable and disposable land of the public domain does not change its status as property of the public dominion under Article 420(2) of the Civil Code. As such, said land, although classified as alienable and disposable, is insusceptible to acquisition by prescription. (Republic v. Rovency Realty and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 190817, January 10, 2018, citing Heirs of Mario Malabanan vs. Republic, 605 Phil. 244, 274 (2009)] 

Forest land of the public domain in the context of both the Public Land Act and the Constitution is a classification descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land looks like. (Republic v. Saromo, G.R. No. 189803, March 14, 2018, citing The Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 589 Phil. 156 [2008]) It is well-settled that a CENRO or PENRO certification is not enough to establish that a land is alienable and disposable. It should be “accompanied by an official publication of the DENR Secretary’s issuance declaring the land alienable and disposable.” (Republic v. Malijan-Javier, G.R. No. 214367, April 4, 2018) 

The subject property was originally an unregistered land, meaning it is public land owned by the State. It is presumed to belong to the State, and not privately owned by Gabriel. Thus, any sale made by Gabriel covering the subject property – whether to petitioners or respondent – is considered null and void unless the contrary is proved, on the principle that one cannot sell or dispose what he does not own. This is underscored by the fact that petitioners were able to obtain a CLOA over the subject property – and, later on, an original certificate of title in their favor. (Spouse Ybiosa v. Drilon, G.R. No. 212866, April 23, 2018) 

The general rule prevailing over claims of land is the Regalian Doctrine, which, as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, declares that the State owns all lands of the public domain. In other words, land that has not been acquired from the government, either by purchase, grant, or any other mode recognized by law, belongs to the State as part of the public domain. In turn, The Public Land Act governs the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain, except for timber and mineral lands. The law also entitles possessors of public lands to judicial confirmation of their imperfect titles xxx. (Republic v. Jabson, G.R. No. 200223, June 6, 2018) 

(A)ny applicant for registration of title to land derived through a public grant must sufficiently establish three things: (a) the subject land’s alienable and disposable nature; (b) his or her predecessors’ adverse possession thereof, and (c) the reckoning date from which such adverse possession was under a bona fide claim of ownership, that is, since June 12, 1945 or earlier. (Republic v. Jabson, G.R. No. 200223, June 6, 2018, citing Section 48 of the Public Land Act and Section 14 of PD No. 1529) 

That land has been removed from the scope of the Regalian Doctrine and reclassified as part of the public domain’s alienable and disposable portion cannot be assumed or implied. The prevailing rule is that the applicant must clearly establish the existence of a positive act of the government, such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute to prove the alienable and disposable nature of the subject land. (Republic v. Jabson, G.R. No. 200223, June 6, 2018) 

The 1987 Philippine Constitution also provides that “agricultural lands of the public domain may be further classified by law according to the uses to which they may be devoted.” Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the classification of lands of the public domain is first and foremost provided by the Constitution itself. Of the classifications of lands of the public domain, agricultural lands may further be classified by law, according to the uses it may be devoted to. 

The classification of lands of the public domain into agricultural lands, as well as their further classification into alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, is a legislative prerogative which may be exercised only through the enactment of a valid law. This prerogative has long been exercised by the legislative department through the enactment of Commonwealth Act No. 141 (CA No. 141) or the Public Land Act of 1936. Section 6 of CA No. 141 remains to this day the existing general law governing the classification of lands of the public domain into alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. (Dumo v. Republic, G.R. No. 218269, June 6, 2018) 

Social Justice and Human Rights 

Preliminarily, it is crucial to stress that no less than the basic law of the land guarantees the rights of workers to collective bargaining and negotiations as well as to participate in policy and decision- making processes affecting their rights and benefits. (Hongkong Bank Independent Labor Union v. Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, G.R. No. 218390, February 28, 2018, citing Article XIII, Section 3 of the Constitution) 

We deem it necessary to remind HSBC of the basic and well-entrenched rule that although jurisprudence recognizes the validity of the exercise by an employer of its management prerogative and will ordinarily not interfere with such, this prerogative is not absolute and is subject to limitations imposed by law, collective bargaining agreement, and general principles of fair play and justice. Indeed, being a product of said constitutionally-guaranteed right to participate, the CBA is, therefore, the law between the parties and they are obliged to comply with its provisions. (Hongkong Bank Independent Labor Union v. Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, G.R. No. 218390, February 28, 2018) 

Education 

In University of the East v. Pepanio (702 Phil. 191 [2013]), the requirement of a masteral degree for tertiary education teachers was held to be not unreasonable but rather in accord with the public interest. (Son v. University of Santo Tomas, G.R. No. 211273, April 18, 2018) 

The Family 

It is axiomatic that the validity of marriage and the unity of the family are enshrined in our Constitution and statutory laws; hence, any doubts attending the same are to be resolved in favor of the continuance and validity of the marriage and that the burden of proving the nullity of the same rests at all times upon the petitioner. “The policy of the Constitution is to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social institution, and marriage as the foundation of the family. Because of this, the Constitution decrees marriage as legally inviolable and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties.” (Singson v. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, January 8, 2018) 

Notably, a law on absolute divorce is not new in our country. Effective March 11, 1917, Philippine courts could grant an absolute divorce on the grounds of adultery on the part of the wife or concubinage on the part of the husband by virtue of Act No. 2710 of the Philippine Legislature. On March 25, 1943, pursuant to the authority conferred upon him by the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Forces in the Philippines and with the approval of the latter, the Chairman of the Philippine Executive Commission promulgated an E.O. No. 141 (“New Divorce Law‖), which repealed Act No. 2710 and provided eleven grounds for absolute divorce, such as intentional or unjustified desertion continuously for at least one year prior to the filing of the action, slander by deed or gross insult by one spouse against the other to such an extent as to make further living together impracticable, and a spouse’s incurable insanity. When the Philippines was liberated and the Commonwealth Government was restored, it ceased to have force and effect and Act No. 2710 again prevailed. From August 30, 1950, upon the effectivity of Republic Act No. 386 or the New Civil Code, an absolute divorce obtained by Filipino citizens, whether here or abroad, is no longer recognized. (Republic v. Manalo, G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018) 

CARLO L. CRUZ 

5 thoughts on “NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW

    1. Hi, Cristy! This was kindly shared to me by the remarkable Professor Carlo Cruz.
      Please feel free to save a copy of this material to your computer.

  1. Thank you very much Pinay Jurist for this wonderful work of Atty. Carlo Cruz. It saved me a lot of time in reading the cases he mentioned here. Thank you very much also Prof. Carlo Cruz for preparing this comprehensive Notes on Political Law.

    1. You’re welcome. It’s a pleasure and I’m most grateful to Prof. Carlo Cruz, as I am to you all who come here and visit my website. I wish you the best po. 🙂

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