Constitutional Law, Political Law

Ople v. Torres G.R. No. 127685 July 23, 1998 Executive Power and Legislative Power, Administrative Power of the Chief Executive

FACTS:

Petitioner Senator Blas Ople prays that Administrative Order No. 308 entitled “Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System” be declared unconstitutional on two grounds, viz: 

  1. It is a usurpation of the power of Congress to legislate, and 
  2. It impermissibly intrudes on our citizenry’s protected zone of privacy.

A.O. No. 308 was published in four newspapers of general circulation on January 22, 1997 and January 23, 1997. 

On January 24, 1997, petitioner filed the instant petition against respondents, then Executive Secretary Ruben Torres and the heads of the government agencies, who as members of the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee, are charged with the implementation of A.O. No. 308. On April 8, 1997, we issued a temporary restraining order enjoining its implementation.

Petitioner contends, among others, that  the establishment of a national computerized identification reference system requires a Legislative Act. 

Hence, the issuance of A.O. No. 308 by the President is, therefore, an unconstitutional usurpation of the Legislative Powers of the Congress.

ISSUE:

Whether or not A.O. No. 308 is not a mere administrative order but a law and hence, beyond the power of the President to issue.

RULING:

The line that delineates Legislative and Executive power is not indistinct. Legislative power is “the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter and repeal them.”  

The Constitution, as the will of the people in their original, sovereign and unlimited capacity, has vested this power in the Congress of the Philippines.  

The grant of legislative power to Congress is broad, general and comprehensive.  The legislative body possesses plenary power for all purposes of civil government.  

Any power, deemed to be legislative by usage and tradition, is necessarily possessed by Congress, unless the Constitution has lodged it elsewhere.  In fine, except as limited by the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative power embraces all subjects and extends to matters of general concern or common interest. 

While Congress is vested with the power to enact laws, the President executes the laws.  The executive power is vested in the Presidents. It is generally defined as the power to enforce and administer the laws.  

It is the power of carrying the laws into practical operation and enforcing their due observance. 

As head of the Executive Department, the President is the Chief Executive. He represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his department. 

He has control over the executive department, bureaus and offices. This means that he has the authority to assume directly the functions of the executive department, bureau and office or interfere with the discretion of its officials. 

Corollary to the power of control, the President also has the duty of supervising the enforcement of laws for the maintenance of general peace and public order. Thus, he is granted administrative power over bureaus and offices under his control to enable him to discharge his duties effectively. 

Administrative power is concerned with the work of applying policies and enforcing orders as determined by proper governmental organs. It enables the President to fix a uniform standard of administrative efficiency and check the official conduct of his agents. 

To this end, he can issue administrative orders, rules and regulations.

Prescinding from these precepts, we hold that A.O. No. 308 involves a subject that is not appropriate to be covered by an administrative order. 

An administrative order is:

Sec. 3. Administrative Orders. — Acts of the President which relate to particular aspects of governmental operation in pursuance of his duties as administrative head shall be promulgated in administrative orders. 

An administrative order is an ordinance issued by the President which relates to specific aspects in the administrative operation of government. It must be in harmony with the law and should be for the sole purpose of implementing the law and carrying out the legislative policy.  

We reject the argument that A.O. No. 308 implements the legislative policy of the Administrative Code of 1987. The Code is a general law and “incorporates in a unified document the major structural, functional and procedural principles of governance.” and “embodies changes in administrative structure and procedures designed to serve the people.”

As said administrative order redefines the parameters of some basic rights of our citizenry vis-a-vis the State as well as the line that separates the administrative power of the President to make rules and the legislative power of Congress, it ought to be evident that it deals with a subject that should be covered by law.

Regulations are not supposed to be a substitute for the general policy-making that Congress enacts in the form of a public law.

Assuming, arguendo, that A.O. No. 308 need not be the subject of a law, still it cannot pass constitutional muster as an administrative legislation because facially it violates the right to privacy.

The broadness, the vagueness, the overbreadth of A.O. No. 308 which if implemented will put our people’s right to privacy in clear and present danger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.