Category: LATEST SUPREME COURT CASES


CASE 2011-0059: AFP MUTUAL BENEFIT ASSOCIATION, INC. VS. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, MARIKINA CITY, BRANCH 193 AND SOLID HOMES, INC. (G.R. NO. 183906, 14 FEBRUARY 2011, ABAD, J.) SUBJECTS: RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT; MANDAMUS; PROHIBITION; RES JUDICATA. (BRIEF TITLE: AFPMBAI VS. RTC MARIKINA CITY ET AL.)

SECOND DIVISION

 

AFP MUTUAL BENEFIT                        G.R. No. 183906

ASSOCIATION, INC.,

                             Petitioner,                       Present:

                                                                     CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

          - versus -                                             NACHURA,

  PERALTA,

  ABAD, and

  MENDOZA, JJ.

REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,

MARIKINA CITY, BRANCH 193          Promulgated:

and SOLID HOMES, INC.,

Respondents.                    February 14, 2011

x ———————————————————————————— x

 

DECISION

 

ABAD, J.:

This is about a trial court order that gave due course to a petition for relief from judgment that would litigate anew issues between the same parties that had already been once decided with finality.

The Facts and the Case

In 1976 Investco, Inc. (Investco) entered into a contract to sell to Solid Homes, Inc. (Solid Homes) certain properties inQuezon City and in Marikina City.  But, because Solid Homes defaulted in payments, Investco sued for specific performance and damages.  During the pendency of the action, Investco sold the properties to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Mutual Benefits Association, Inc. (AFPMBAI).  Following full payment of the consideration of the sale, the Register of Deeds issued new certificates of title to AFPMBAI covering the properties.[1]

Subsequently, Solid Homes filed an action against the Register of Deeds, AFPMBAI, and Investco with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Marikina City for annotation of lis pendens and damages.  When the matter reached this Court through two related cases, it rendered a decision, directing the Register of Deeds to cancel Solid Homes’ notice of lis pendens on AFPMBAI’s titles and declared AFPMBAI a buyer in good faith and for value.[2]

          On August 26, 2003 Solid Homes filed another action with the RTC of Marikina City, Branch 193, to cancel the same certificates of title of AFPMBAI.  On motion filed by the latter, however, the RTC issued an order dated January 23, 2004, dismissing the complaint on ground of res judicata in view of the decision in the previous actions.  Solid Homes filed a motion for reconsideration but the RTC denied it.  The RTC also denied as prohibited pleading Solid Homes’ second motion for reconsideration.[3]

Undeterred, Solid Homes filed a petition for relief from judgment, that is, from the order of dismissal dated November 26, 2004, claiming that Investco and AFPMBAI committed extrinsic fraud in the proceedings that led to the judgment that the Court rendered against Solid Homes in G.R. 104769 and G.R. 135016.  This fraud consisted in AFPMBAI’s alleged failure to disclose its knowledge of a prior sale between Investco and Solid Homes.  Solid Homes claimed that it had evidence to prove this.[4]

Meantime, Solid Homes caused the annotation of notices of lis pendens on AFPMBAI’s titles based on its pending petition for relief from judgment before the RTC.[5]  After hearing or on July 18, 2008 the RTC issued an order, giving due course to Solid Homes’ petition.[6]

Without filing a motion for reconsideration of the RTC’s July 18, 2008 order, AFPMBAI filed the present petition for prohibition and mandamus with application for temporary restraining order and preliminary mandatory injunction directly with this Court.[7]  On August 27, 2008 the Court issued a temporary restraining order, enjoining the Marikina City RTC from further proceeding in the case and Solid Homes from causing the annotation of notice of lis pendens on any of AFPMBAI’s certificates of title.[8]

          The petition alleged that the RTC gravely abused its discretion in giving due course to Solid Homes’ petition for relief from judgment on several grounds:[9]

1.       Solid Homes filed its petition for relief from judgment beyond the period allowed by the rules;[10]

2.       Its petition for relief did not include an affidavit of merit showing the supposed fraud, accident, mistake, and excusable negligence it relied on;[11]

3.       The grounds that Solid Homes invoked—AFPMBAI’s alleged fraud in acquiring the subject property—is not the fraud contemplated by Section 2, Rule 38 of the Rules of Civil Procedure;[12]

4.       The grant of Solid Homes’ petition for relief based on AFPMBAI’s alleged fraud in acquiring its titles to the property subject of the March 3, 2000 decision of the Court in G.R. 104769 and G.R. 135016, AFPMBAI v. CA, is already barred by res judicata;[13] and

5.       The annotation of a notice of lis pendens under Section 14, Rule 13 of the Rules of Civil Procedure is allowed only in actions affecting title to or possession of real property, not petitions for relief from judgment.[14]

          Solid Homes’ comment on the petition hardly answered the above grounds.  It instead raised threshold issues involving technical defects in AFPMBAI’s petition for prohibition and mandamus.  Thus, Solid Homes claim that:

a.       AFPMBAI did not file the required motion for reconsideration of the RTC order dated July 18, 2008 that it assails in its petition;[15]

b.       Mandamus is not an appropriate remedy and the petition should have been filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) since it raised both questions of fact and law;[16]

c.       The jurat in the petition’s verification and certification erroneously used a community tax certificate as basis for identification;[17] and

d.       The petition did not contain an affidavit of service and an explanation why personal mode of service was not observed.[18]

Issues Presented

The case, thus, presents the following issues:

1.       Whether or not the petition is technically deficient as Solid Homes points out, justifying its outright dismissal;

2.       Whether or not Solid Homes filed its petition for relief from judgment with the RTC beyond the period allowed by the rules;

3.       Whether or not such petition include an appropriate affidavit of merit that shows the supposed fraud, accident, mistake, and excusable negligence Solid Homes relied on;

4.       Whether or not the fraud that Solid Homes invoked as ground for its petition for relief—AFPMBAI’s alleged fraud in acquiring the subject property—is the fraud contemplated by the rules; 

5.       Whether or not the RTC’s grant of Solid Homes’ petition for relief based on AFPMBAI’s alleged fraud in acquiring its titles to the subject property is barred by res judicata; and

6.       Whether or not the annotation of a notice of lis pendens is allowed in connection with a pending petition for relief from judgment.

Rulings of the Court

One.  Regarding AFPMBAI’s failure to file a motion for reconsideration of the assailed RTC order, which motion is required prior to the filing of a petition for prohibition or mandamus, the Court recognizes certain exceptions to such requirement as enumerated in Diamond Builders Conglomeration v. Country Bankers Insurance Corporation.[19]  These include situations, such as exists in this case, where the petition raises only pure questions of law and the questioned order is a patent nullity.  The direct recourse to this Court rather than to the CA is also justified since the petition raises only questions of law.  Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court states that a petition for prohibition and mandamus may be filed in the Supreme Court.

Since AFPMBAI does not seek the performance by respondent RTC of some clearly defined ministerial duty, the Court agrees that the remedy of mandamus seems inappropriate in this case.  Still the action is saved by the fact that it is also one for prohibition.  AFPMBAI seeks to prevent the Marikina City RTC from hearing and adjudicating in excess of its jurisdiction Solid Homes’ seriously flawed petition for relief from judgment.  Prohibition is a correct remedy.

On the matter of the petition’s supposed lack of affidavit of service as well as an explanation regarding petitioner’s resort to service by registered mail, the record of the case shows that such affidavit and explanation are on page 42-A of the petition filed with the Court. 

As for the defective jurat, AFPMBAI cured the same by filing an amended verification and certification in compliance with the Court’s resolution of August 27, 2008.  The interest of justice in this case justified the correction.

          Two.  AFPMBAI points out that Solid Homes filed its petition for relief from judgment with the RTC beyond the period allowed by the rules.[20]  The Court agrees.  Section 3, Rule 38 of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a petition for relief from judgment must be filed within 60 days from notice of such judgment or within six months from the entry of judgment.  The RTC issued its order denying Solid Homes’ original motion for reconsideration of its order dismissing its action on April 21, 2004.[21] This means that the RTC’s order of dismissal had long become final and executory when Solid Homes filed its petition for relief nearly 10 months later on February 14, 2005.[22]   The period cannot be counted from the RTC’s order denying its second motion for reconsideration since such motion was a prohibited pleading.

Three.  AFPMBAI alleges that Solid Homes’ affidavit of merit was fatally defective.  But the Court cannot make a determination regarding this point since, although AFPMBAI attached Solid Homes’ petition for relief as Annex “N”,[23] it did not include a copy of Solid Homes’ affidavit of merit.

Four.  The RTC gave due course to Solid Homes’ petition for relief from judgment based on AFPMBAI and Investco’s alleged commission of extrinsic fraud in the proceedings that led to the judgment that the Court rendered against Solid Homes in G.R. 104769 and G.R. 135016.[24]

          But the extrinsic fraud that will justify a petition for relief from judgment is that fraud which the prevailing party caused to prevent the losing party from being heard on his action or defense.  Such fraud concerns not the judgment itself but the manner in which it was obtained.[25]  For example, the petition of a defending party would be justified where the plaintiff deliberately caused with the process server’s connivance the service of summons on defendant at the wrong address and thus succeeded in getting a judgment by default against him. 

Here, the fraud that Solid Homes proposed as ground for its petition for relief is Investco and AFPMBAI’s alleged prior knowledge of the sale of the disputed lands to Solid Homes, which fraud goes into the merit of the case rather than on Solid Homes’ right to be heard on its action.  In effect the RTC will rehear the issue of whether or not AFPMBAI was a buyer in good faith, an issue barred by res judicata since the Court has already decided the same with finality in the latter’s favor on March 3, 2000 in G.R. 104769 and G.R. 135016, AFPMBAI v. CA.  The principle of res judicata holds that issues actually and directly resolved in a former suit cannot be raised in any future case between the same parties.[26]

With the Court’s above rulings, Solid Homes is not entitled to notices of lis pendens in connection with Civil Case 2003-901-MK. 

          WHEREFORE, the Court:

1.       GRANTS the petition;

2.       ORDERS the permanent dismissal of Civil Case 2003-901-MK of the Regional Trial Court of Marikina City, Branch 193;

3.       SETS ASIDE the order of that court dated July 18, 2008;

4.       MAKES PERMANENT the temporary restraining order that this Court issued on August 27, 2008 which enjoined the same court from proceeding in the case; and

5.       ORDERS the Register of Deeds of Marikina City to cancel Solid Homes’ notices of lis pendens annotated on AFPMBAI’s Transfer Certificates of Title 104941 to 104946, relative to Civil Case 2003-901-MK.

          SO ORDERED.

ROBERTO A. ABAD

                                                              Associate Justice

 

 

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA      DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

                  Associate Justice                                  Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

          I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

                                                      ANTONIO T. CARPIO

                                                   Associate Justice

                                Chairperson, Second Division                

 

 

CERTIFICATION

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

                                                             RENATO C. CORONA

                                                            Chief Justice


[1]  AFP Mutual Benefit Association, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 383 Phil. 959 (2000).

[2]  Id. at 978.

[3]  Rollo, p. 218.

[4]  Id. at 43-44.

[5]  Id. at 12.

[6]  Supra note 4.

[7]  Id. at 3.

[8]  Id. at 316-317.

[9]  Id. at 15.

[10]  Id. at 19-21.

[11]  Id. at 25-27.

[12]  Id. at 27-30.

[13]  Id. at 30-33.

[14]  Id. at 34-37.

[15]  Id. at 347-348.

[16]  Id. at 348-350.

[17]  Id. at 354.

[18]  Id. at 343-346.

[19]  G.R. No. 171820, December 13, 2007, 540 SCRA 194, 210.

[20]  Rollo, pp. 19-21.

[21]  Id. at 184.

[22]  Id. at 221.

[23]  Id.

[24] Supra note 4; supra note 22.

[25]  Benatiro v. Heirs of Evaristo Cuyos, G.R. No. 161220, July 30, 2008, 560 SCRA 478, 495.

[26]  Heirs of Panfilo F. Abalos v. Bucal, G.R. No. 156224, February 19, 2008, 546 SCRA 252, 271-272.

CASE  2011-0058: MA. MERCEDITAS N. GUTIERREZ VS.  THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE, RISA HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL, DANILO D. LIM, FELIPE PESTAÑO, EVELYN PESTAÑO, RENATO M. REYES, JR., SECRETARY GENERAL OF BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN (BAYAN); MOTHER MARY JOHN MANANZAN, CO-CHAIRPERSON OF PAGBABAGO; DANILO RAMOS, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF KILUSANG MAGBUBUKID NG PILIPINAS (KMP); ATTY. EDRE OLALIA, ACTING SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLE’S LAWYERS (NUPL); FERDINAND R. GAITE, CHAIRPERSON, CONFEDERATION FOR UNITY, RECOGNITION AND ADVANCEMENT OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES (COURAGE); AND JAMES TERRY RIDON OF THE LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS (LFS),FELICIANO BELMONTE, JR. (G.R. NO. 193459, 15 FEBRUARY 2011, CARPIO MORALES, J.) SUBJECTS: IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS WITHIN REACH OF JUDICIAL REVIEW; ABBREVIATED PROCEEDINGS NOT INDICATION OF BIAS; IMPEACHMENT RULES; PROMULGATION; ONE-YEAR BAR RULE; APPLICABILITY OF RULES ON CRIM PROCEDURES. (BRIEF TITLE: GUTIERREZ VS. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ET AL.)

 

EN BANC

 

MA. MERCEDITAS N. GUTIERREZ                                

                                      Petitioner,

 

 

- versus -

 

 

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE, RISA HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL, DANILO D. LIM, FELIPE PESTAÑO, EVELYN PESTAÑO, RENATO M. REYES, JR., SECRETARY GENERAL OF BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN (BAYAN); MOTHER MARY JOHN MANANZAN, CO-CHAIRPERSON OF PAGBABAGO; DANILO RAMOS, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF KILUSANG MAGBUBUKID NG PILIPINAS (KMP); ATTY. EDRE OLALIA, ACTING SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLE’S LAWYERS (NUPL); FERDINAND R. GAITE, CHAIRPERSON, CONFEDERATION FOR UNITY, RECOGNITION AND ADVANCEMENT OF GOVERNMENT

 

EMPLOYEES (COURAGE); and JAMES TERRY RIDON OF THE LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS (LFS),

                                 Respondents.

 

FELICIANO BELMONTE, JR.,

                 Respondent-Intervenor.

G.R. No. 193459

 

 

Present:

 

CORONA, C.J.,

CARPIO,

CARPIO MORALES,

VELASCO, JR.,*

NACHURA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

BRION,

PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,

ABAD, 

VILLARAMA, JR.,

PEREZ, 

MENDOZA, and

SERENO, JJ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promulgated:

February 15, 2011

 

 x————————————————————————– x

 

 

 

D E C I S I O N

 

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

          The Ombudsman, Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez (petitioner), challenges via petition for certiorari and prohibition the Resolutions of September 1 and 7, 2010 of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice (public respondent).

          Before the 15th Congress opened its first session on July 26, 2010 (the fourth Monday of July, in accordance with Section 15, Article VI of the Constitution) or on July 22, 2010, private respondents Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Danilo Lim, and spouses Felipe and Evelyn Pestaño (Baraquel group) filed an impeachment complaint[1] against petitioner, upon the endorsement of Party-List Representatives Arlene Bag-ao and Walden Bello.[2]   

          A day after the opening of the 15th Congress or on July 27, 2010, Atty. Marilyn Barua-Yap, Secretary General of the House of Representatives, transmitted the impeachment complaint to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.[3] who, by Memorandum ofAugust 2, 2010, directed the Committee on Rules to include it in the Order of Business.[4]

          On August 3, 2010, private respondents Renato Reyes, Jr., Mother Mary John Mananzan, Danilo Ramos, Edre Olalia, Ferdinand Gaite and James Terry Ridon (Reyes group) filed another impeachment complaint[5] against petitioner with a resolution of endorsement by Party-List Representatives Neri Javier Colmenares, Teodoro Casiño, Rafael Mariano, Luzviminda Ilagan, Antonio Tinio and Emerenciana de Jesus.[6]  On even date, the House of Representatives provisionally adopted the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the 14th Congress.  By letter still of even date,[7] the Secretary General transmitted the Reyes group’s complaint to Speaker Belmonte who, by Memorandum of August 9, 2010,[8] also directed the Committee on Rules to include it in the Order of Business.

          On August 10, 2010, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, as chairperson of the Committee on Rules,[9] instructed Atty. Artemio Adasa, Jr., Deputy Secretary General for Operations, through Atty. Cesar Pareja, Executive Director of the Plenary Affairs Department, to include the two complaints in the Order of Business,[10] which was complied with by their inclusion in the Order of Business for the following day, August 11, 2010.

          On August 11, 2010 at 4:47 p.m., during its plenary session, the House of Representatives simultaneously referred both complaints to public respondent.[11]  

          After hearing, public respondent, by Resolution of September 1, 2010, found both complaints sufficient in form, which complaints it considered to have been referred to it at exactly the same time.

          Meanwhile, the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the 15th Congress was published on September 2, 2010.

          On September 6, 2010, petitioner tried to file a motion to reconsider the September 1, 2010 Resolution of public respondent.  Public respondent refused to accept the motion, however, for prematurity;  instead, it advised petitioner to await the notice for her to file an answer to the complaints, drawing petitioner to furnish copies of her motion to each of the 55 members of public respondent.

          After hearing, public respondent, by Resolution of September 7, 2010, found the two complaints, which both allege culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust,[12] sufficient in substance.  The determination of the sufficiency of substance of the complaints by public respondent, which assumed hypothetically the truth of their allegations, hinged on the issue of whether valid judgment to impeach could be rendered thereon.  Petitioner was served also on September 7, 2010 a notice directing her to file an answer to the complaints within 10 days.[13]

          Six days following her receipt of the notice to file answer or on September 13, 2010, petitioner filed with this Court the present petition with application for injunctive reliefs.  The following day or on September 14, 2010, the Court En BancRESOLVED to direct the issuance of a status quo ante order[14] and to require respondents to comment on the petition in 10 days.  The Court subsequently, by Resolution of September 21, 2010, directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to file in 10 days its Comment on the petition 

          The Baraquel group which filed the first complaint, the Reyes group which filed the second complaint, and public respondent (through the OSG and private counsel) filed their respective Comments on September 27, 29 and 30, 2010.

          Speaker Belmonte filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene dated October 4, 2010 which the Court granted by Resolution of October 5, 2010.

          Under an Advisory[15] issued by the Court, oral arguments were conducted on October 5 and 12, 2010, followed by petitioner’s filing of a Consolidated Reply of October 15, 2010 and the filing by the parties of Memoranda within the given 15-day period.

          The petition is harangued by procedural objections which the Court shall first resolve.

Respondents raise the impropriety of the remedies of certiorari and prohibition.  They argue that public respondent was not exercising any judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial function in taking cognizance of the two impeachment complaints as it was exercising a political act that is discretionary in nature,[16] and that its function is inquisitorial that is akin to a preliminary investigation.[17] 

These same arguments were raised in Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representatives.[18] The argument that impeachment proceedings are beyond the reach of judicial review was debunked in this wise:

The major difference between the judicial power of the Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme Court is that while the power of judicial review is only impliedly granted to the U.S. Supreme Court and is discretionary in nature, that granted to the Philippine Supreme Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for in the Constitution, is not just a power but also a duty, and it was given an expanded definition to include the power to correct any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any government branch or instrumentality.

There are also glaring distinctions between the U.S. Constitution and the Philippine Constitution with respect to the power of the House of Representatives over impeachment proceedings.  While the U.S. Constitution bestows sole power of impeachment to the House of Representatives without limitation, our Constitution, though vesting in the House of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate impeachment cases, provides for several limitations to the exercise of such power as embodied in Section 3(2), (3), (4) and (5), Article XI thereof.  These limitations include the manner of filing, required vote to impeach, and the one year bar on the impeachment of one and the same official. 

Respondents are also of the view that judicial review of impeachments undermines their finality and may also lead to conflicts between Congress and the judiciary. Thus, they call upon this Court to exercise judicial statesmanship on the principle that “whenever possible, the Court should defer to the judgment of the people expressed legislatively, recognizing full well the perils of judicial willfulness and pride.”

But did not the people also express their will when they instituted the above-mentioned safeguards in the Constitution?  This shows thatthe Constitution did not intend to leave the matter of impeachment to the sole discretion of Congress.  Instead, it provided for certain well-defined limits, or in the language of Baker v. Carr, “judicially discoverable standards” for determining the validity of the exercise of such discretion, through the power of judicial review.

x x x x

There is indeed a plethora of cases in which this Court exercised the power of judicial review over congressional action.  Thus, inSantiago v. Guingona, Jr., this Court ruled that it is well within the power and jurisdiction of the Court to inquire whether the Senate or its officials committed a violation of the Constitution or grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of their functions and prerogatives.  In Tañada v. Angara, in seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravened the Constitution, it held that the petition raises a justiciable controversy and that when an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute.  In Bondoc v. Pineda, this Court declared null and void a resolution of the House of Representatives withdrawing the nomination, and rescinding the election, of a congressman as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal for being violative of Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution.  In Coseteng v. Mitra, it held that the resolution of whether the House representation in the Commission on Appointments was based on proportional representation of the political parties as provided in Section 18, Article VI of the Constitution is subject to judicial review.  In Daza v. Singson, it held that the act of the House of Representatives in removing the petitioner from the Commission on Appointments is subject to judicial review.  In Tañada v. Cuenco, it held that although under the Constitution, the legislative power is vested exclusively in Congress, this does not detract from the power of the courts to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress.  In Angara v. Electoral Commission, it ruled that confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member, irrespective of whether his election is contested, is not essential before such member-elect may discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of a member of the National Assembly. 

Finally, there exists no constitutional basis for the contention that the exercise of judicial review over impeachment proceedings would upset the system of checks and balances.  Verily, the Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole and “one section is not to be allowed to defeat another.”  Both are integral components of the calibrated system of independence and interdependence that insures that no branch of government act beyond the powers assigned to it by the Constitution.[19] (citations omitted; italics in the original; underscoring supplied)

Francisco characterizes the power of judicial review as a duty which, as the expanded certiorari jurisdiction[20] of this Courtreflects, includes the power to “determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.”[21]   

In the present case, petitioner invokes the Court’s expanded certiorari jurisdiction, using the special civil actions of certiorari and prohibition as procedural vehicles.  The Court finds it well-within its power to determine whether public respondent committed a violation of the Constitution or gravely abused its discretion in the exercise of its functions and prerogatives that could translate as lack or excess of jurisdiction, which would require corrective measures from the Court.

Indubitably, the Court is not asserting its ascendancy over the Legislature in this instance, but simply upholding the supremacy of the Constitution as the repository of the sovereign will.[22] 

Respondents do not seriously contest all the essential requisites for the exercise of judicial review, as they only assert that the petition is premature and not yet ripe for adjudication since petitioner has at her disposal a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of the proceedings before public respondent.  Public respondent argues that when petitioner filed the present petition[23] on September 13, 2010, it had not gone beyond the determination of the sufficiency of form and substance of the two complaints.

An aspect of the “case-or-controversy” requirement is the requisite
of ripeness.[24]  The question of ripeness is especially relevant in light of the direct, adverse effect on an individual by the challenged conduct.[25]  In the present petition, there is no doubt that questions on, inter alia, the validity of the simultaneous referral of the two complaints and on the need to publish as a mode of promulgating the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the House (Impeachment Rules) present constitutional vagaries which call for immediate interpretation.

The unusual act of simultaneously referring to public respondent two impeachment complaints presents a novel situation to invoke judicial power.  Petitioner cannot thus be considered to have acted prematurely when she took the cue from the constitutional limitation that only one impeachment proceeding should be initiated against an impeachable officer within a period of one year.

          And so the Court proceeds to resolve the substantive issue ─ whether public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing its two assailed Resolutions.  Petitioner basically anchors her claim on alleged violation of the due process clause (Art. III, Sec. 1) and of the one-year bar provision (Art. XI, Sec 3, par. 5) of the Constitution.

 

 

Due process of law

Petitioner alleges that public respondent’s chairperson, Representative Niel Tupas, Jr. (Rep. Tupas), is the subject of an investigation she is conducting, while his father, former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas, Sr., had been charged by her with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act before the Sandiganbayan.  To petitioner, the actions taken by her office against Rep. Tupas and his father influenced the proceedings taken by public respondent in such a way that bias and vindictiveness played a big part in arriving at the finding of sufficiency of form and substance of the complaints against her.

The Court finds petitioner’s allegations of bias and vindictiveness bereft of merit, there being hardly any indication thereof.  Mere suspicion of partiality does not suffice.[26]

The act of the head of a collegial body cannot be considered as that of the entire body itself.   So GMCR, Inc. v. BellTelecommunications Phils.[27] teaches

First.  We hereby declare that the NTC is a collegial body requiring a majority vote out of the three members of the commission in order to validly decide a case or any incident therein.  Corollarily, the vote alone of the chairman of the commission, as in this case, the vote of Commissioner Kintanar, absent the required concurring vote coming from the rest of the membership of the commission to at least arrive at a majority decision, is not sufficient to legally render an NTC order, resolution or decision.

Simply put, Commissioner Kintanar is not the National Telecommunications Commission.  He alone does not speak and in behalf of the NTC.  The NTC acts through a three-man body x x x. [28]

In the present case, Rep. Tupas, public respondent informs, did not, in fact, vote and merely presided over the proceedings when it decided on the sufficiency of form and substance of the complaints.[29] 

Even petitioner’s counsel conceded during the oral arguments that there are no grounds to compel the inhibition of Rep. Tupas.

JUSTICE CUEVAS: 

Well, the Committee is headed by a gentleman who happened to be a respondent in the charges that the Ombudsman filed.  In addition to that[,] his father was likewise a respondent in another case.  How can he be expected to act with impartiality, in fairness and in accordance with law under that matter, he is only human we grant him that benefit. 

                        JUSTICE MORALES:

                                    Is he a one-man committee? 

JUSTICE CUEVAS: 

He is not a one-man committee, Your Honor, but he decides. 

                        JUSTICE MORALES: 

                                    Do we presume good faith or we presume bad faith? 

                        JUSTICE CUEVAS: 

We presume that he is acting in good faith, Your Honor, but then (interrupted)

                        JUSTICE MORALES: 

So, that he was found liable for violation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, does that mean that your client will be deprived of due process of law?  

                        JUSTICE CUEVAS: 

No, what we are stating, Your Honor, is that expectation of a client goes with the Ombudsman, which goes with the element of due process is the lack of impartiality that may be expected of him. 

                        JUSTICE MORALES: 

But as you admitted the Committee is not a one-man committee?

JUSTICE CUEVAS: 

That is correct, Your Honor. 

                        JUSTICE MORALES:

So, why do you say then that there is a lack of impartiality?

                        JUSTICE CUEVAS: 

Because if anything before anything goes (sic) he is the presiding officer of the committee as in this case there were objections relative to the existence of the implementing rules not heard, there was objection made by Congressman Golez to the effect that this may give rise to a constitutional crisis. 

                        JUSTICE MORALES: 

That called for a voluntary inhibition.  Is there any law or rule you can cite which makes it mandatory for the chair of the committee to inhibit given that he had previously been found liable for violation of a law[?]

                        JUSTICE CUEVAS: 

There is nothing, Your Honor.  In our jurisprudence which deals with the situation whereby with that background as the material or pertinent antecedent that there could be no violation of the right of the petitioner to due process.  What is the effect of notice, hearing if the judgment cannot come from an impartial adjudicator.[30]    (emphasis and underscoring supplied) 

Petitioner contends that the “indecent and precipitate haste” of public respondent in finding the two complaints sufficient in form and substance is a clear indication of bias, she pointing out that it only took public respondent five minutes to arrive thereat.   

 

An abbreviated pace in the conduct of proceedings is not per se an indication of bias, however.  So Santos-Concio v. Department of Justice[31] holds:    

Speed in the conduct of proceedings by a judicial or quasi-judicial officer cannot per se be instantly attributed to an injudicious performance of functions.  For one’s prompt dispatch may be another’s undue haste.  The orderly administration of justice remains as the paramount and constant consideration, with particular regard of the circumstances peculiar to each case. 

The presumption of regularity includes the public officer’s official actuations in all phases of work.  Consistent with such presumption, it was incumbent upon petitioners to present contradictory evidence other than a mere tallying of days or numerical calculation. This, petitioners failed to discharge.  The swift completion of the Investigating Panel’s initial task cannot be relegated as shoddy or shady without discounting the presumably regular performance of not just one but five state prosecutors.[32]  (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioner goes on to contend that her participation in the determination of sufficiency of form and substance was indispensable.  As mandated by the Impeachment Rules, however, and as, in fact, conceded by petitioner’s counsel, the participation of the impeachable officer starts with the filing of an answer.       

JUSTICE MORALES: 

Is it not that the Committee should first determine that there is sufficiency in form and substance before she is asked to file her answer (interrupted)

                        JUSTICE CUEVAS: 

                                                That is correct, Your Honor. 

                        JUSTICE MORALES: 

During which she can raise any defenses she can assail the regularity of the proceedings and related irregularities? 

                        JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Yes.  We are in total conformity and in full accord with that statement, Your Honorbecause it is only after a determination that the complaint is sufficient in form and substance that a complaint may be filed, Your Honor, without that but it may be asked, how is not your action premature, Your Honor, our answer is- no, because of the other violations involved and that is (interrupted).[33] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) 

Rule III(A) of the Impeachment Rules of the 15th Congress reflects the impeachment procedure at the Committee-level, particularly Section 5[34] which denotes that petitioner’s initial participation in the impeachment proceedings – the opportunity to file an Answer – starts after the Committee on Justice finds the complaint sufficient in form and substance.  That the Committee refused to accept petitioner’s motion for reconsideration from its finding of sufficiency of form of the impeachment complaints is apposite, conformably with the Impeachment Rules.

Petitioner further claims that public respondent failed to ascertain the sufficiency of form and substance of the complaints on the basis of the standards set by the Constitution and its own Impeachment Rules.[35]

The claim fails.

The determination of sufficiency of form and substance of an impeachment complaint is an exponent of the express constitutional grant of rule-making powers of the House of Representatives which committed such determinative function to public respondent.  In the discharge of that power and in the exercise of its discretion, the House has formulated determinable standards as to the form and substance of an impeachment complaint.  Prudential considerations behoove the Court to respect the compliance by the House of its duty to effectively carry out the constitutional purpose, absent any contravention of the minimum constitutional guidelines. 

Contrary to petitioner’s position that the Impeachment Rules do not provide for comprehensible standards in determining the sufficiency of form and substance, the Impeachment Rules are clear in echoing the constitutional requirements and providing that there must be a “verified complaint or resolution,”[36] and that the substance requirement is met if there is “a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee.”[37]      

          Notatu dignum is the fact that it is only in the Impeachment Rules where a determination of sufficiency of form and substance of an impeachment complaint is made necessary.  This requirement is not explicitly found in the organic law, as Section 3(2), Article XI of the Constitution basically merely requires a “hearing.”[38]  In the discharge of its constitutional duty, the House deemed that a finding of sufficiency of form and substance in an impeachment complaint is vital “to effectively carry out” the impeachment process, hence, such additional requirement in the Impeachment Rules.    

          Petitioner urges the Court to look into the narration of facts constitutive of the offenses vis-à-vis her submissions disclaiming the allegations in the complaints.

          This the Court cannot do. 

          Francisco instructs that this issue would “require the Court to make a determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense.  Such a determination is a purely political question which the Constitution has left to the sound discretion of the legislature. Such an intent is clear from the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission.  x x x x Clearly, the issue calls upon this court to decide a non-justiciable political question which is beyond the scope of its judicial power[.]”[39]  Worse, petitioner urges the Court to make a preliminary assessment of certain grounds raised, upon a hypothetical admission of the facts alleged in the complaints, which involve matters of defense.

          In another vein, petitioner, pursuing her claim of denial of due process, questions the lack of or, more accurately, delay in the publication of the Impeachment Rules. 

          To recall, days after the 15th Congress opened on July 26, 2010 or on August 3, 2010, public respondent provisionally adopted the Impeachment Rules of the 14th Congress and thereafter published on September 2, 2010 its  Impeachment Rules, admittedly substantially identical with that of the 14th Congress, in two newspapers of general circulation.[40]

          Citing Tañada v. Tuvera,[41] petitioner contends that she was deprived of due process since the Impeachment Rules was published only on September 2, 2010 a day after public respondent ruled on the sufficiency of form of the complaints.  She likewise tacks her contention on Section 3(8), Article XI of the Constitution which directs that “Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this section.”

Public respondent counters that “promulgation” in this case refers to “the publication of rules in any medium of information, not necessarily in the Official Gazette or newspaper of general circulation.”[42]

Differentiating Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations[43] which held that the Constitution categorically requires publication of the rules of procedure in legislative inquiries, public respondent explains that the Impeachment Rules is intended to merely enable Congress to effectively carry out the purpose of Section 3(8), Art. XI of Constitution.   

Black’s Law Dictionary broadly defines promulgate as

To publish; to announce officially; to make public as important or obligatory.  The formal act of announcing a statute or rule of court.  An administrative order that is given to cause an agency law or regulation to become known or obligatory.[44] (emphasis supplied)

While “promulgation” would seem synonymous to “publication,” there is a statutory difference in their usage.   

The Constitution notably uses the word “promulgate” 12 times.[45]  A number of those instances involves the promulgation of various rules, reports and issuances emanating from Congress, this Court, the Office of the Ombudsman as well as other constitutional offices.

To appreciate the statutory difference in the usage of the terms “promulgate” and “publish,” the case of the Judiciary is in point.  In promulgating rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, the Court has invariably required the publication of these rules for their effectivity.   As far as promulgation of judgments is concerned, however, promulgation means “the delivery of the decision to the clerk of court for filing and publication.”[46] 

Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution contains a similar provision directing Congress to “promulgate its rules for the canvassing of the certificates” in the presidential and vice presidential elections.  Notably, when Congress approved its canvassing rules for the May 14, 2010 national elections on May 25, 2010,[47] it did not require the publication thereof for its effectivity. Rather, Congress made the canvassing rules effective upon its adoption.  

In the case of administrative agencies, “promulgation” and “publication” likewise take on different meanings as they are part of a multi-stage procedure in quasi-legislation.  As detailed in one case,[48] the publication of implementing rules occurs after their promulgation or adoption.

Promulgation must thus be used in the context in which it is generally understood—that is, to make known. Generalia verba sunt generaliter inteligencia.  What is generally spoken shall be generally understood.  Between the restricted sense and the general meaning of a word, the general must prevail unless it was clearly intended that the restricted sense was to be used.[49] 

Since the Constitutional Commission did not restrict “promulgation” to “publication,” the former should be understood to have been used in its general sense.  It is within the discretion of Congress to determine on how to promulgate its Impeachment Rules, in much the same way that the Judiciary is permitted to determine that to promulgate a decision means to deliver the decision to the clerk of court for filing and publication. 

It is not for this Court to tell a co-equal branch of government how to promulgate when the Constitution itself has not prescribed a specific method of promulgation.  The Court is in no position to dictate a mode of promulgation beyond the dictates of the Constitution. 

Publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation is but one avenue for Congress to make known its rules.  Jurisprudence emphatically teaches that

x x x in the absence of constitutional or statutory guidelines or specific rules, this Court is devoid of any basis upon which to determine the legality of the acts of the Senate relative thereto.  On grounds of respect for the basic concept of separation of powers, courts may not intervene in the internal affairs of the legislature; it is not within the province of courts to direct Congress how to do its work.  In the words of Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, this Court is of the opinion that where no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the legislature must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate as well as to implement them, before the courts may intervene.[50]  (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)

Had the Constitution intended to have the Impeachment Rules published, it could have stated so as categorically as it did in the case of the rules of procedure in legislative inquiries, per Neri.  Other than “promulgate,” there is no other single formal term in the English language to appropriately refer to an issuance without need of it being published.

IN FINE, petitioner cannot take refuge in Neri since inquiries in aid of legislation under Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution is the sole instance in the Constitution where there is a categorical directive to duly publish a set of rules of procedure.  Significantly notable in Neri is that with respect to the issue of publication, the Court anchored its ruling on the 1987Constitution’s directive, without any reliance on or reference to the 1986 case of Tañada v. Tuvera.[51]  Tañada naturally could neither have interpreted a forthcoming 1987 Constitution nor had kept a tight rein on the Constitution’s intentions as expressed through the allowance of either a categorical term or a general sense of making known the issuances.

From the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, then Commissioner, now retired Associate Justice Florenz Regalado intended Section 3(8), Article XI to be the vehicle for the House to fill the gaps in the impeachment process. 

MR. REGALADO.  Mr. Presiding Officer, I have decided to put in an additional section because, for instance, under Section 3 (2), there is mention of indorsing a verified complaint for impeachment by any citizen alleging ultimate facts constituting a ground or grounds for impeachment.  In other words, it is just like a provision in the rules of court.  Instead, I propose that this procedural requirement, like indorsement of a complaint by a citizen to avoid harassment or crank complaints, could very well be taken up in a new section 4 which shall read as follows: THE CONGRESS SHALL PROMULGATE ITS RULES ON IMPEACHMENT TO EFFECTIVELY CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES THEREOF.  I think all these other procedural requirements could be taken care of by the Rules of Congress.[52] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The discussion clearly rejects the notion that the impeachment provisions are not self-executing.  Section 3(8) does not, in any circumstance, operate to suspend the entire impeachment mechanism which the Constitutional Commission took pains in designing even its details.       

As against constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon a different principle and have often become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate directly upon the people in a manner similar to that of statutory enactments, and the function of constitutional conventions has evolved into one more like that of a legislative body.  Hence, unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing.  If the constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the legislature would have the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law.  This can be cataclysmic. That is why the prevailing view is, as it has always been, that —

. . . in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing rather than non-self-executing . . . .  Unless the contrary is clearly intended, the provisions of the Constitution should be considered self-executing, as a contrary rule would give the legislature discretion to determine when, or whether, they shall be effective.  These provisions would be subordinated to the will of the lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless by simply refusing to pass the needed implementing statute.[53](emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

Even assuming arguendo that publication is required, lack of it does not nullify the proceedings taken prior to the effectivity of the Impeachment Rules which faithfully comply with the relevant self-executing provisions of the Constitution.  Otherwise, in cases where impeachment complaints are filed at the start of each Congress, the mandated periods under Section 3, Article XI of the Constitution would already run or even lapse while awaiting the expiration of the 15-day period of publication prior to the effectivity of the Impeachment Rules.  In effect, the House would already violate the Constitution for its inaction on the impeachment complaints pending the completion of the publication requirement.        

Given that the Constitution itself states that any promulgation of the rules on impeachment is aimed at “effectively carry[ing] out the purpose” of impeachment proceedings, the Court finds no grave abuse of discretion when the House deemed it proper toprovisionally adopt the Rules on Impeachment of the 14th Congress, to meet the exigency in such situation of early filing and in keeping with the “effective” implementation of the “purpose” of the impeachment provisions.  In other words, the provisional adoption of the previous Congress’ Impeachment Rules is within the power of the House to promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the avowed purpose.

Moreover, the rules on impeachment, as contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, merely aid or supplement theprocedural aspects of impeachment.  Being procedural in nature, they may be given retroactive application to pending actions.  “It is axiomatic that the retroactive application of procedural laws does not violate any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected, nor is it constitutionally objectionable.  The reason for this is that, as a general rule, no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws.”[54]  In the present case, petitioner fails to allege any impairment of vested rights.

It bears stressing that, unlike the process of inquiry in aid of legislation where the rights of witnesses are involved,impeachment is primarily for the protection of the people as a body politic, and not for the punishment of the offender.[55]

Even Neri concedes that the unpublished rules of legislative inquiries were not considered null and void in its entirety. Rather, 

x x x [o]nly those that result in violation of the rights of witnesses should be considered null and void, considering that therationale for the publication is to protect the rights of witnesses as expressed in Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution.  Sans such violation, orders and proceedings are considered valid and effective.[56] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioner in fact does not deny that she was fully apprised of the proper procedure.  She even availed of and invoked certain provisions[57] of the Impeachment Rules when she, on September 7, 2010, filed the motion for reconsideration and later filed the present petition.  The Court thus finds no violation of the due process clause.

 

 

 

The one-year bar rule

          Article XI, Section 3, paragraph (5) of the Constitution reads: “No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”

          Petitioner reckons the start of the one-year bar from the filing of the first impeachment complaint against her on July 22, 2010 or four days before the opening on July 26, 2010 of the 15th Congress.  She posits that within one year from July 22, 2010, no second impeachment complaint may be accepted and referred to public respondent.  

          On the other hand, public respondent, respondent Reyes group and respondent-intervenor submit that the initiation starts with the filing of the impeachment complaint and ends with the referral to the Committee, following Francisco, but venture to alternatively proffer that the initiation ends somewhere between the conclusion of the Committee Report and the transmittal of the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.  Respondent Baraquel group, meanwhile, essentially maintains that under either the prevailing doctrine or the parties’ interpretation, its impeachment complaint could withstand constitutional scrutiny.

          Contrary to petitioner’s asseveration, Francisco[58] states that the term “initiate” means to file the complaint and take initial action on it.[59]  The initiation starts with the filing of the complaint which must be accompanied with an action to set the complaint moving.  It refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint coupled with Congress’ taking initial action of said complaint.  The initial action taken by the House on the complaint is the referral of the complaint to the Committee on Justice.   

          Petitioner misreads the remark of Commissioner Joaquin Bernas, S.J. that “no second verified impeachment may be accepted and referred to the Committee on Justice for action”[60] which contemplates a situation where a first impeachment complaint had already been referred.  Bernas and Regalado, who both acted as amici curiae in Francisco, affirmed that the act of initiating includes the act of taking initial action on the complaint.       

            From the records of the Constitutional Commission, to the amicus curiae briefs of two former Constitutional Commissioners, it is without a doubt that the term “to initiate” refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint coupled with Congress’ taking initial action of said complaint.

            Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing and referral or endorsement of the impeachment complaint to the House Committee on Justice or, by the filing by at least one-third[61] of the members of the House of Representatives with the Secretary General of the House, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated, another impeachment complaint may not be filed against the same official within a one year period.[62] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The Court, in Francisco, thus found that the assailed provisions of the 12th Congress’ Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings ─ Sections 16[63] and 17[64] of Rule V thereof ─ “clearly contravene Section 3(5) of Article XI since they g[a]ve the term ‘initiate’ a meaning different from filing and referral.”[65]

          Petitioner highlights certain portions of Francisco which delve on the relevant records of the Constitutional Commission, particularly Commissioner Maambong’s statements[66] that the initiation starts with the filing of the complaint. 

          Petitioner fails to consider the verb “starts” as the operative word.  Commissioner Maambong was all too keen to stress that the filing of the complaint indeed starts the initiation and that the House’s action on the committee report/resolution is not part of that initiation phase. 

          Commissioner Maambong saw the need “to be very technical about this,”[67] for certain exchanges in the Constitutional Commission deliberations loosely used the term, as shown in the following exchanges.    

            MR. DAVIDE. That is for conviction, but not for initiation.  Initiation of impeachment proceedings still requires a vote of one-fifth of the membership of the House under the 1935 Constitution.

            MR. MONSOD.  A two-thirds vote of the membership of the House is required to initiate proceedings.

            MR. DAVIDE.  No. for initiation of impeachment proceedings, only one-fifth vote of the membership of the House is required; for conviction, a two-thirds vote of the membership is required.

x x x x

            MR. DAVIDE.  However, if we allow one-fifth of the membership of the legislature to overturn a report of the committee, we have here Section 3 (4) which reads:

       No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.

            So, necessarily, under this particular subsection, we will, in effect, disallow one-fifth of the members of the National Assembly to revive an impeachment move by an individual or an ordinary Member.    

            MR. ROMULO.  Yes. May I say that Section 3 (4) is there to look towards the possibility of a very liberal impeachment proceeding. Second, we were ourselves struggling with that problem where we are faced with just a verified complaint rather than the signatures of one-fifth, or whatever it is we decide, of the Members of the House.  So whether to put a period for the Committee to report, whether we should not allow the Committee to overrule a mere verified complaint, are some of the questions we would like to be discussed.       

            MR. DAVIDE.  We can probably overrule a rejection by the Committee by providing that it can be overturned by, say, one-half or a majority, or one-fifth of the members of the legislature, and that such overturning will not amount to a refiling which is prohibited under Section 3 (4)

            Another point, Madam President. x x x[68] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

          An apparent effort to clarify the term “initiate” was made by Commissioner Teodulo Natividad:

            MR. NATIVIDAD.  How many votes are needed to initiate?

            MR. BENGZON.  One-third.

            MR. NATIVIDAD.  To initiate is different from to impeach; to impeach is different from to convict.  To impeach means to file the case before the Senate.

            MR. REGALADO.  When we speak of “initiative,” we refer here to the Articles of Impeachment.

            MR. NATIVIDAD.  So, that is the impeachment itself, because when we impeach, we are charging him with the Articles of Impeachment.  That is my understanding.[69] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

          Capping these above-quoted discussions was the explanation of Commissioner Maambong delivered on at least two occasions: 

[I]

          MR. MAAMBONG.  Mr. Presiding Officer, I am not moving for a reconsideration of the approval of the amendment submitted by Commissioner Regalado, but I will just make of record my thinking that we do not really initiate the filing of the Articles of Impeachment on the floor. The procedure, as I have pointed out earlier, was that the initiation starts with the filing of the complaint.  And what is actually done on the floor is that the committee resolution containing the Articles of Impeachment is the one approved by the body.

            As the phraseology now runs, which may be corrected by the Committee on Style, it appears that the initiation starts on the floor.  If we only have time, I could cite examples in the case of the impeachment proceedings of President Richard Nixon wherein the Committee on the Judiciary submitted the recommendation, the resolution, and the Articles of Impeachment to the body, and it was the body who approved the resolution.  It is not the body which initiates it.  It only approves or disapproves the resolution.  So, on that score, probably the Committee on Style could help in rearranging the words because we have to be very technical about this.  I have been bringing with me The Rules of the House of Representativesof the U.S. Congress.  The Senate Rules are with me.  The proceedings on the case of Richard Nixon are with me.  I have submitted my proposal, but the Committee has already decided.  Nevertheless, I just want to indicate this on record.

            Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer.[70] (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied)

[II]

            MR. MAAMBONG.  I would just like to move for a reconsideration of the approval of Section 3 (3).  My reconsideration will not at all affect the substance, but it is only with keeping with the exact formulation of the Rules of the House of Representatives of the United States regarding impeachment.

            I am proposing, Madam President, without doing damage to any of its provision, that on page 2, Section 3 (3), from lines 17 to 18, we delete the words which read: “to initiate impeachment proceedings” and the comma (,) and insert on line 19 after the word “resolution” the phrase WITH THE ARTICLES, and then capitalize the letter “i” in “impeachment” and replace the word “by” with OF, so that the whole section will now read: “A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to affirm a resolution WITH THE ARTICLES of impeachment OF the committee or to override its contrary resolution.  The vote of each Member shall be recorded.” 

            I already mentioned earlier yesterday that the initiation, as far as the House of Representatives of the United States is concerned, reallystarts from the filing of the verified complaint and every resolution to impeach always carries with it the Articles of Impeachment.  As a matter of fact, the words “Articles of Impeachment” are mentioned on line 25 in the case of the direct filing of a verified complaint of one-third of all the Members of the House.  I will mention again, Madam President, that my amendment will not vary the substance in any way.  It is only in keeping with the uniform procedure of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.

            Thank you, Madam President.[71] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)            

          To the next logical question of what ends or completes the initiation, Commissioners Bernas and Regalado lucidly explained that the filing of the complaint must be accompanied by the referral to the Committee on Justice, which is the action that sets the complaint moving.  Francisco cannot be any clearer in pointing out the material dates.

            Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing of the impeachment complaint and referral to the House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated in the foregoing manner, another may not be filed against the same official within a one year period following Article XI, Section 3(5) of the Constitution.

            In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint was filed by former President Estrada against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, on June 2, 2003 and referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the secondimpeachment complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice on October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional prohibition against the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a one-year period.[72] (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

          These clear pronouncements notwithstanding, petitioner posits that the date of referral was considered irrelevant inFrancisco.  She submits that referral could not be the reckoning point of initiation because “something prior to that had already been done,”[73] apparently citing Bernas’ discussion.

          The Court cannot countenance any attempt at obscurantism.

          What the cited discussion was rejecting was the view that the House’s action on the committee report initiates the impeachment proceedings.  It did not state that to determine the initiating step, absolutely nothing prior to it must be done. Following petitioner’s line of reasoning, the verification of the complaint or the endorsement by a member of the House – steps done prior to the filing – would already initiate the impeachment proceedings.

          Contrary to petitioner’s emphasis on impeachment complaint, what the Constitution mentions is impeachment “proceedings.  Her reliance on the singular tense of the word “complaint”[74] to denote the limit prescribed by the Constitution goes against the basic rule of statutory construction that a word covers its enlarged and plural sense.[75] 

          The Court, of course, does not downplay the importance of an impeachment complaint, for it is the matchstick that kindles the candle of impeachment proceedings.  The filing of an impeachment complaint is like the lighting of a matchstick.  Lighting the matchstick alone, however, cannot light up the candle, unless the lighted matchstick reaches or torches the candle wick.  Referring the complaint to the proper committee ignites the impeachment proceeding.  With a simultaneous referral of multiple complaints filed, more than one lighted matchsticks light the candle at the same time.  What is important is that there should only be ONECANDLE that is kindled in a year, such that once the candle starts burning, subsequent matchsticks can no longer rekindle the candle.

          A restrictive interpretation renders the impeachment mechanism both illusive and illusory. 

          For one, it puts premium on senseless haste.  Petitioner’s stance suggests that whoever files the first impeachment complaint exclusively gets the attention of Congress which sets in motion an exceptional once-a-year mechanism wherein government resources are devoted.  A prospective complainant, regardless of ill motives or best intentions, can wittingly or unwittingly desecrate the entire process by the expediency of submitting a haphazard complaint out of sheer hope to be the first in line.  It also puts to naught the effort of other prospective complainants who, after diligently gathering evidence first to buttress the case, would be barred days or even hours later from filing an impeachment complaint. 

          Placing an exceedingly narrow gateway to the avenue of impeachment proceedings turns its laudable purpose into a laughable matter.  One needs only to be an early bird even without seriously intending to catch the worm, when the process is precisely intended to effectively weed out “worms” in high offices which could otherwise be ably caught by other prompt birds within the ultra-limited season.

          Moreover, the first-to-file scheme places undue strain on the part of the actual complainants, injured party or principal witnesses who, by mere happenstance of an almost always unforeseeable filing of a first impeachment complaint, would be brushed aside and restricted from directly participating in the impeachment process. 

          Further, prospective complainants, along with their counsel and members of the House of Representatives who sign, endorse and file subsequent impeachment complaints against the same impeachable officer run the risk of violating the Constitution since they would have already initiated a second impeachment proceeding within the same year.  Virtually anybody can initiate a second or third impeachment proceeding by the mere filing of endorsed impeachment complaints.  Without any public notice that could charge them with knowledge, even members of the House of Representatives could not readily ascertain whether no other impeachment complaint has been filed at the time of committing their endorsement. 

          The question as to who should administer or pronounce that an impeachment proceeding has been initiated rests also on the body that administers the proceedings prior to the impeachment trial.  As gathered from Commissioner Bernas’ disquisition[76] inFrancisco, a proceeding which “takes place not in the Senate but in the House[77] precedes the bringing of an impeachment case to the Senate.  In fact, petitioner concedes that the initiation of impeachment proceedings is within the sole and absolute control of the House of Representatives.[78]  Conscious of the legal import of each step, the House, in taking charge of its own proceedings, must deliberately decide to initiate an impeachment proceeding, subject to the time frame and other limitations imposed by the Constitution.  This chamber of Congress alone, not its officers or members or any private individual, should own up to its processes. 

          The Constitution did not place the power of the “final say” on the lips of the House Secretary General who would otherwise be calling the shots in forwarding or freezing any impeachment complaint.  Referral of the complaint to the proper committee is not done by the House Speaker alone either, which explains why there is a need to include it in the Order of Business of the House.  It is the House of Representatives, in public plenary session, which has the power to set its own chamber into special operation by referring the complaint or to otherwise guard against the initiation of a second impeachment proceeding by rejecting a patently unconstitutional complaint.   

          Under the Rules of the House, a motion to refer is not among those motions that shall be decided without debate, but any debate thereon is only made subject to the five-minute rule.[79]  Moreover, it is common parliamentary practice that a motion to refer a matter or question to a committee may be debated upon, not as to the merits thereof, but only as to the propriety of the referral.[80]  With respect to complaints for impeachment, the House has the discretion not to refer a subsequent impeachment complaint to the Committee on Justice where official records and further debate show that an impeachment complaint filed against the same impeachable officer has already been referred to the said committee and the one year period has not yet expired, lest it becomes instrumental in perpetrating a constitutionally prohibited second impeachment proceeding.  Far from being mechanical, before the referral stage, a period of deliberation is afforded the House, as the Constitution, in fact, grants a maximum of three session days within which to make the proper referral.

          As mentioned, one limitation imposed on the House in initiating an impeachment proceeding deals with deadlines.  The Constitution states that “[a] verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter.” 

In the present case, petitioner failed to establish grave abuse of discretion on the allegedly “belated” referral of the first impeachment complaint filed by the Baraquel group.  For while the said complaint was filed on July 22, 2010, there was yet then no session in Congress.  It was only four days later or on July 26, 2010 that the 15th Congress opened from which date the 10-day session period started to run.  When, by Memorandum of August 2, 2010, Speaker Belmonte directed the Committee on Rules to include the complaint in its Order of Business, it was well within the said 10-day session period.[81]

          There is no evident point in rushing at closing the door the moment an impeachment complaint is filed.  Depriving the people (recall that impeachment is primarily for the protection of the people as a body politic) of reasonable access to the limited political vent simply prolongs the agony and frustrates the collective rage of an entire citizenry whose trust has been betrayed by an impeachable officer.  It shortchanges the promise of reasonable opportunity to remove an impeachable officer through the mechanism enshrined in the Constitution.

          But neither does the Court find merit in respondents’ alternative contention that the initiation of the impeachment proceedings, which sets into motion the one-year bar, should include or await, at the earliest, the Committee on Justice report.  To public respondent, the reckoning point of initiation should refer to the disposition of the complaint by the vote of at least one-third (1/3) of all the members of the House.[82]  To the Reyes group, initiation means the act of transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.[83]  To respondent-intervenor, it should last until the Committee on Justice’s recommendation to the House plenary.[84]

          The Court, in Francisco, rejected a parallel thesis in which a related proposition was inputed in the therein assailed provisions of the Impeachment Rules of the 12th Congress.  The present case involving an impeachment proceeding against the Ombudsman offers no cogent reason for the Court to deviate from what was settled in Francisco that dealt with the impeachment proceeding against the then Chief Justice.  To change the reckoning point of initiation on no other basis but to accommodate the socio-political considerations of respondents does not sit well in a court of law.

            x x x We ought to be guided by the doctrine of stare decisis et non quieta movere.  This doctrine, which is really “adherence to precedents,” mandates that once a case has been decided one way, then another case involving exactly the same point at issue should be decided in the same manner.  This doctrine is one of policy grounded on the necessity for securing certainty and stability of judicial decisions.  As the renowned jurist Benjamin Cardozo stated in his treatise The Nature of the Judicial Process:

            It will not do to decide the same question one way between one set of litigants and the opposite way between another.  “If a group of cases involves the same point, the parties expect the same decision.  It would be a gross injustice to decide alternate cases on opposite principles.  If a case was decided against me yesterday when I was a defendant, I shall look for the same judgment today if I am plaintiff.  To decide differently would raise a feeling of resentment and wrong in my breast; it would be an infringement, material and moral, of my rights.”  Adherence to precedent must then be the rule rather than the exception if litigants are to have faith in the even-handed administration of justice in the courts.[85]

          As pointed out in Francisco, the impeachment proceeding is not initiated “when the House deliberates on the resolution passed on to it by the Committee, because something prior to that has already been done.  The action of the House is already a further step in the proceeding, not its initiation or beginning.  Rather, the proceeding is initiated or begins, when a verified complaint is filed and referred to the Committee on Justice for action.  This is the initiating step which triggers the series of steps that follow.”[86]

          Allowing an expansive construction of the term “initiate” beyond the act of referral allows the unmitigated influx of successive complaints, each having their own respective 60-session-day period of disposition from referral.  Worse, the Committee shall conduct overlapping hearings until and unless the disposition of one of the complaints ends with the affirmance of a resolution for impeachment or the overriding[87] of a contrary resolution (as espoused by public respondent), or the House transmits the Articles of Impeachment (as advocated by the Reyes group),[88] or the Committee on Justice concludes its first report to the House plenary regardless of the recommendation (as posited by respondent-intervenor).  Each of these scenarios runs roughshod the very purpose behind the constitutionally imposed one-year bar.  Opening the floodgates too loosely would disrupt the series of steps operating in unison under one proceeding.

          The Court does not lose sight of the salutary reason of confining only one impeachment proceeding in a year.  Petitioner concededly cites Justice Adolfo Azcuna’s separate opinion that concurred with the Francisco ruling.[89]  Justice Azcuna stated that the purpose of the one-year bar is two-fold: “to prevent undue or too frequent harassment; and 2) to allow the legislature to do its principal task [of] legislation,” with main reference to the records of the Constitutional Commission, that reads:

 

            MR. ROMULO.  Yes, the intention here really is to limit.  This is not only to protect public officials who, in this case, are of the highest category from harassment but also to allow the legislative body to do its work which is lawmaking.  Impeachment proceedings take a lot of time. And if we allow multiple impeachment charges on the same individual to take place, the legislature will do nothing else but that.[90] (underscoring supplied)  

It becomes clear that the consideration behind the intended limitation refers to the element of time, and not the number of complaints.  The impeachable officer should defend himself in only one impeachment proceeding, so that he will not be precluded from performing his official functions and duties.  Similarly, Congress should run only one impeachment proceeding so as not to leave it with little time to attend to its main work of law-making.  The doctrine laid down in Francisco that initiation means filing andreferral remains congruent to the rationale of the constitutional provision.

          Petitioner complains that an impeachable officer may be subjected to harassment by the filing of multiple impeachment complaints during the intervening period of a maximum of 13 session days between the date of the filing of the first impeachment complaint to the date of referral.       

          As pointed out during the oral arguments[91] by the counsel for respondent-intervenor, the framework of privilege and layers of protection for an impeachable officer abound.  The requirements or restrictions of a one-year bar, a single proceeding, verification of complaint, endorsement by a House member, and a finding of sufficiency of form and substance – all these must be met before bothering a respondent to answer – already weigh heavily in favor of an impeachable officer.

          Aside from the probability of an early referral and the improbability of inclusion in the agenda of a complaint filed on the 11th hour (owing to pre-agenda standard operating procedure), the number of complaints may still be filtered or reduced to nil after the Committee decides once and for all on the sufficiency of form and substance.  Besides, if only to douse petitioner’s fear, a complaint will not last the primary stage if it does not have the stated preliminary requisites.

          To petitioner, disturbance of her performance of official duties and the deleterious effects of bad publicity are enough oppression.

          Petitioner’s claim is based on the premise that the exertion of time, energy and other resources runs directly proportional to the number of complaints filed.  This is non sequitur.  What the Constitution assures an impeachable officer is not freedom from arduous effort to defend oneself, which depends on the qualitative assessment of the charges and evidence and not on the quantitative aspect of complaints or offenses.  In considering the side of the impeachable officers, the Constitution does not promise an absolutely smooth ride for them, especially if the charges entail genuine and grave issues.  The framers of the Constitution did not concern themselves with the media tolerance level or internal disposition of an impeachable officer when they deliberated on the impairment of performance of official functions.  The measure of protection afforded by the Constitution is that if the impeachable officer is made to undergo such ride, he or she should be made to traverse it just once.  Similarly, if Congress is called upon to operate itself as a vehicle, it should do so just once.  There is no repeat ride for one full year.  This is the whole import of the constitutional safeguard of one-year bar rule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applicability of the Rules

on Criminal Procedure

          On another plane, petitioner posits that public respondent gravely abused its discretion when it disregarded its own Impeachment Rules, the same rules she earlier chastised.

          In the exercise of the power to promulgate rules “to effectively carry out” the provisions of Section 3, Article XI of the Constitution, the House promulgated the Impeachment Rules, Section 16 of which provides that “the Rules of Criminal Procedure under the Rules of Court shall, as far as practicable, apply to impeachment proceedings before the House.”

          Finding that the Constitution, by express grant, permits the application of additional adjective rules that Congress may consider in effectively carrying out its mandate, petitioner either asserts or rejects two procedural devices.

          First is on the “one offense, one complaint” rule.  By way of reference to Section 16 of the Impeachment Rules, petitioner invokes the application of Section 13, Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure which states that “[a] complaint or information must charge only one offense, except when the law prescribes a single punishment for various offenses.”  To petitioner, the two impeachment complaints are insufficient in form and substance since each  charges her with both culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.  She concludes that public respondent gravely abused its discretion when it disregarded its own rules.        

          Petitioner adds that heaping two or more charges in one complaint will confuse her in preparing her defense; expose her to the grave dangers of the highly political nature of the impeachment process; constitute a whimsical disregard of certain rules; impair her performance of official functions as well as that of the House; and prevent public respondent from completing its report within the deadline. 

          Public respondent counters that there is no requirement in the Constitution that an impeachment complaint must charge only one offense, and the nature of impeachable offenses precludes the application of the above-said Rule on Criminal Procedure since the broad terms cannot be defined with the same precision required in defining crimes.  It adds that the determination of the grounds for impeachment is an exercise of political judgment, which issue respondent-intervenor also considers as non-justiciable, and to which the Baraquel group adds that impeachment is a political process and not a criminal prosecution, during which criminal prosecution stage the complaint or information referred thereto and cited by petitioner, unlike an impeachment complaint, must already be in the name of the People of the Philippines. 

          The Baraquel group deems that there are provisions[92] outside the Rules on Criminal Procedure that are more relevant to the issue.  Both the Baraquel and Reyes groups point out that even if Sec. 13 of Rule 110 is made to apply, petitioner’s case falls under the exception since impeachment prescribes a single punishment – removal from office and disqualification to hold any public office – even for various offenses.  Both groups also observe that petitioner concededly and admittedly was not keen on pursuing this issue during the oral arguments.

          Petitioner’s claim deserves scant consideration. 

          Without going into the effectiveness of the suppletory application of the Rules on Criminal Procedure in carrying out the relevant constitutional provisions, which prerogative the Constitution vests on Congress, and without delving into the practicabilityof the application of the one offense per complaint rule, the initial determination of which must be made by the House[93] which has yet to pass upon the question, the Court finds that petitioner’s invocation of that particular rule of Criminal Procedure does not lie. Suffice it to state that the Constitution allows the indictment for multiple impeachment offenses, with each charge representing an article of impeachment, assembled in one set known as the “Articles of Impeachment.”[94]  It, therefore, follows that an impeachment complaint need not allege only one impeachable offense.

The second procedural matter deals with the rule on consolidation.  In rejecting a consolidation, petitioner maintains that the Constitution allows only one impeachment complaint against her within one year.

Records show that public respondent disavowed any immediate need to consolidate.  Its chairperson Rep. Tupas stated that “[c]onsolidation depends on the Committee whether to consolidate[; c]onsolidation may come today or may come later on after determination of the sufficiency in form and substance,” and that “for purposes of consolidation, the Committee will decide when is the time to consolidate[,  a]nd if, indeed, we need to consolidate.”[95]  Petitioner’s petition, in fact, initially describes the consolidation as merely “contemplated.”[96] 

Since public respondent, whether motu proprio or upon motion, did not yet order a consolidation, the Court will not venture to make a determination on this matter, as it would be premature, conjectural or anticipatory.[97]

          Even if the Court assumes petitioner’s change of stance that the two impeachment complaints were deemedconsolidated,[98] her claim that consolidation is a legal anomaly fails.  Petitioner’s theory obviously springs from her “proceeding =complaint” equation which the Court already brushed aside.  

 

 

 

          WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.  The assailed Resolutions of September 1, 2010 and September 7, 2010 of public respondent, the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, are NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL.  The Status Quo Ante Order issued by the Court on September 14, 2010 is LIFTED.

SO ORDERED.

                                       CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

                                                     Associate Justice       

 

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

 

 RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

 

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

                              (No Part)

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

 

 

ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice

 

 

 

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

Associate Justice

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD

                 Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.

Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

 

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

 

 

 MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

CERTIFICATION

 

 

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I hereby certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

                                                              RENATO C. CORONA

                                                                       Chief Justice


* No part.

[1]  Rollo, pp. 93-111.

[2]  Id. at 91-92.

[3]  Id. at 561.

[4]  Id. at 562.

[5]  Id. at 136-169.

[6]  Id. at 133-135.

[7]  Id. at 563.

[8]  Id. at 564.

[9]  RULES OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Rule IX, Sec. 27, par. (ss).

[10] Rollo, p. 565.

[11] Journal of the House of Representatives (15th Congress), Journal No. 9, August 11, 2010 (rollo, p. 576).

[12] As gathered from the pleadings, the two impeachment complaints are summarized as follows:

                                FIRST COMPLAINT                                          SECOND COMPLAINT

A. Betrayal of Public Trust:

1.  The dismal and unconscionable low conviction rate of the Ombudsman from 2008 onwards    1.  gross inexcusable delay in investigating and failure in prosecuting those involved in the anomalous Fertilizer Fund Scam despite the COA & Senate findings and the complaints filed against them. 
2.  The failure to take prompt and immediate action against PGMA and FG with regard to the NBN-ZTE Broadband project   2.  she did not prosecute Gen. Eliseo de la Paz for violating BSP rules[12] that prohibit the taking out of the country of currency in excess of US$10,000 without declaring the same to the Phil. Customs, despite his admission under oath before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee
3.  The delay in conducting and concluding an investigation on the death of Ensign Andrew Pestaño aboard a Philippine Navy vessel    3.   gross inexcusable delay or inaction by acting in deliberate disregard of the Court’s findings and directive in Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines v. Comelec
4.  The decision upholding the legality of the arrest and detention of Rep. Hontiveros -Baraquel by the PNP in March 2006.    
5.  The failure to conduct an investigation regarding the P1M dinner at Le Cirque Restaurant in New York             

 

B. Culpable Violation of the Constitution:

6.  The repeated delays and failure to take action on cases impressed with public interest   4. through her repeated failure and inexcusable delay in acting upon matters, she violated Sec. 12 and Sec. 13, pars. 1-3 of Art. XI and Sec. 16 of Art. III of the Constitution which mandates prompt action and speedy disposition of cases   
7.  The refusal to grant ready access to public records like SALNW     

 

[13] Rollo, p. 261.

[14] Id. at 262-263. Justices Carpio, Carpio Morales, and Sereno dissented; Justices Nachura, Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, and Mendoza were on official business.

[15]Id. at 623-625.

[16] Reyes Group’s Memorandum, pp. 5-8 (rollo, pp. 1064-1067).

[17] The Committee’s Memorandum, pp. 22-25 (id. at  915-918).

[18] 460 Phil. 830 (2003).

[19] Id. at 889-892.

[20] Id. at 883, which reads: “To ensure the potency of the power of judicial review to curb grave abuse of discretion by ‘any branch or instrumentalities of government,’ the afore-quoted Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution engraves, for the first time into its history, into block letter law the so-called ‘expanded certiorari jurisdiction’ of this Court[.]”

[21] CONSTITUTION, Art. VIII, Sec. 1.

[22] Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139, 158 (1936).

[23] The Committee’s Memorandum, p. 28 (rollo, p. 921). 

[24] Lozano v. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, June 16, 2009, 589 SCRA 356, 358. 

[25] Guingona Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 354 Phil. 415, 427-428 (1998). 

[26] Casimiro v. Tandog, 498 Phil. 660, 667 (2005).

[27] G.R. No. 126496, April 30, 1997, 271 SCRA 790. 

[28] Id. at 804.

[29] The Committee’s Memorandum, p. 36 (rollo, p. 929).

[30] Transcript of Stenographic Notes (TSN), Oral Arguments, October 5, 2010, pp. 47-50. 

[31] G. R. No. 175057, January 29, 2008, 543 SCRA 70.

[32] Id. at 89-90.

[33] TSN, Oral Arguments, October 5, 2010, pp. 54-55.

[34] Section 5. Notice to Respondents and Time to Plead.–  If the committee finds the complaint sufficient in form and substance, it shall immediately furnish the respondent(s) with a copy of the resolution and/or verified complaint, as the case may be, with written notice that he/she shall answer the complaint within ten (10) days from receipt of notice thereof and serve a copy of the answer to the complainant(s).  No motion to dismiss shall be allowed within the period to answer the complaint. 

                The answer, which shall be under oath, may include affirmative defenses. If the respondent fails or refuses to file an answer within the reglementary period, he/she is deemed to have interposed a general denial to the complaint. Within three (3) days from receipt of the answer, the complainant may file a reply, serving a copy thereof to the respondent who may file a rejoinder within three (3) days from receipt of the reply, serving a copy thereof to the complainant. If the complainant fails to file a reply, all the material allegations in the answer are deemed controverted. Together with their pleadings, the parties shall file their affidavits or counter-affidavits, as the case may be, with their documentary evidence. Such affidavits or counter-affidavits shall be subscribed before the Chairperson of the Committee on Justice or the Secretary General. Notwithstanding all the foregoing, failure presenting evidence in support of his/her defenses. 

                When there are more than one respondent, each shall be furnished with copy of the verified complaint from a Member of the House or a copy of the verified complaint from a private citizen together with the resolution of endorsement by a Member of the House of Representatives and a written notice to answer and in that case, reference to respondent in these Rules shall be understood as respondents. (underscoring supplied)

[35] Petitioner’s Memorandum, pp. 66-73 (rollo, pp. 829-836).

[36] Vide CONSTITUTION, Art. XI, Sec. 3 (2).  

[37] Vide RULES OF PROCEDURE IN IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS, Rule III, Sec. 4. 

[38] A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter.  The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution.  The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)  

[39] Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representatives, supra at 913.

[40] Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star. 

[41] 230 Phil. 528 (1986). 

[42] The Committee’s Memorandum, p. 58 (rollo, p. 951).

[43] G.R. No. 180643, March 25, 2008, 549 SCRA 77; and September 4, 2008, 564 SCRA 152, 230, where the Court resolved: “The language of Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution requiring that the inquiry be conducted in accordance with the duly published rules of procedure is categorical. (emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied).

[44] BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (6th ed.), p. 1214.

[45] The words “promulgate” and “promulgated” appear in the following sections: a)  Preamble; b) Section 2 of Article V; c) Section 4 of Article VII (twice); d) Section 18 of Article VII; e) Section 5 of Article VIII; f) Section 6 of Article IX-A; g) Section 3 of Article IX-C; h) Section 2 of Article IX-D; i) Section 3 (8) of Article XI; j) Section 13 (8) of Article XI; and k) Section 8 of Article XIV.

[46] Heritage Park Management Corp. v. CIAC, G.R. No. 148133, October 8, 2008, 568 SCRA 108, 120, citing Neria v. Commissioner on Immigration, 23 SCRA 806, 812.

[47] <http://www.congress.gov.ph/download/elections2010/acr.signed.05262010.pdf> [Last visited November 22, 2010].

[48] National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reform v. Energy Regulatory Commission, G.R. No. 163935, February 2, 2006, 481 SCRA 480, 522.

[49] Marcos v. Chief of Staff, AFP, 89 Phil. 239 (1951).

[50] Sen. Defensor Santiago v. Sen. Guingona, Jr., 359 Phil. 276, 300 (1998).

[51] Supra note 41.

[52] II RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION, p. 372 (July 28, 1986).

[53] Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, 335 Phil. 82, 102 (1997).

[54] Cheng v. Sy, G.R. No. 174238, July 7, 2009, 592 SCRA 155, 164-165.

[55] DE LEON AND DE LEON, JR., THE LAW ON PUBLIC OFFICERS AND ELECTION LAW (2003 ed.), p. 467, citing SINCO, Philippine Political Law, 11th ed. (1962), p. 374.

[56] Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, supra at 231. 

[57] 1) Rule III, Section 4 thereof, on the finding of insufficiency in form, where petitioner prayed that the complaint be returned to the Secretary General within three session days with a written explanation of the insufficiency, who shall, in turn, return the same to the complainants together with the written explanation within three session days from receipt of the committee resolution. 

2) Rule VII, Sec. 16 thereof, on the applicability of the rules of criminal procedure, where petitioner invokes the rule against duplicity of offense under Section 13, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court.      

[58] 460 Phil. 830 (2003).

[59] Id. at 927.

[60] Francisco, supra at 932.

[61] In case of a direct filing by at least one-third (1/3) of all the members of the House of Representatives under paragraph (4), Section 3, Article XI of the Constitution, there occurs an abbreviated mode of initiation wherein the filing of the complaint and the taking of initial action are merged into a single act.

[62] Francisco, supra at 932-933.

[63] Section 16.  Impeachment Proceedings Deemed Initiated. ─ In cases where a Member of the House files a verified complaint of impeachment or a citizen files a verified complaint that is endorsed by a Member of the House through a resolution of endorsement against an impeachable officer, impeachment proceedings against such official aredeemed initiated on the day the Committee on Justice finds that the verified complaint and or resolution against such official, as the case may be, is sufficient in substance, or on the date the House votes to overturn or affirm the finding of the said Committee that the verified complaint and or resolution, as the case may be, is not sufficient in substance.

         In cases where a verified complaint or a resolution of impeachment is filed or endorsed, as the case may be, by at least one-third (1/3) of the Members of the House,impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated at the time of the filing of such verified complaint or resolution of impeachment with the Secretary General.  (emphasis, underscoring and italics supplied)

[64] Section 17.  Bar Against Initiation of Impeachment ProceedingsWithin a period of one (1) year from the date impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated as provided in Section 16 hereof, no impeachment proceedings, as such, can be initiated against the same official.  (emphasis, underscoring and italics supplied)

[65] Francisco, supra at 933.

[66] Petitioner’s Memorandum, pp. 30-36 (rollo, pp. 793-799).

[67] II RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION, p. 376 (July 28, 1986).

[68] Id. at 279-280.

[69] Id. at 374-375.

[70] Id. at 375-376.

[71] Id. at 416.

[72] Francisco, supra at 940.

[73] Francisco, supra at 931.

[74] Section 3.  x x x

     (2)  A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof,which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter.  The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution.  The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof.

             x x x x

[75] Vide Gatchalian, etc. v. COMELEC, 146 Phil. 435, 442-443 (1970).

[76] x x x An impeachment case is the legal controversy that must be decided by the Senate.  Above-quoted first provision provides that the House, by a vote of one-third of all its members, can bring a case to the Senate.  It is in that sense that the House has “exclusive power” to initiate all cases of impeachment.  No other body can do it.  However, before a decision is made to initiate a case in the Senate, a “proceeding” must be followed to arrive at a conclusion. x x x (Francisco, supra at 930-931).

[77] Francisco, supra at 931.

[78] Petitioner’s Memorandum, p. 55 (rollo, p. 818).

[79] RULES OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Rule XIII, Sec. 96.

[80] <http://www.rulesonline.com/rror-05.htm&gt; (visited: November 12, 2010), which further explains:

“The Object of the motion to refer to a standing or special committee is usually to enable a question to be more carefully investigated and put into better shape for the assembly to consider, than can be done in the assembly itself.  Where an assembly is large and has a very large amount of business it is safer to have every main question go to a committee before final action on it is taken.” (underscoring supplied).

[81] Vide RULES OF PROCEDURE IN IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS, Rule II, Sec. 2.  Note also that Section 3 (2), Article XI of the Constitution did not use the terms “calendar days” or “working days.” 

[82] Respondent Committee’s Memorandum, p. 78 (rollo, p. 971).

[83] Respondent Reyes group’s Memorandum, p. 26 (id. at 1085). 

[84] Respondent-Intervenor’s Memorandum, p. 22 (id. at 1131).

[85] Quinto v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 189698, February 22, 2010.

[86] Francisco, supra at 931.

[87] It was made of record that “whenever the body will override the resolution of impeachment of the Committee, it is understood that the body itself will prepare the Articles of Impeachment.” [II RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION, p. 416 (July 29, 1986)].

[88] To respondents Committee and Reyes Group, any House action of dismissal of the complaint would not set in the one-year bar rule.

[89] Petitioner’s Memorandum, p. 38 (rollo, p. 801), citing the Separate Opinion of Justice Adolf Azcuna in Francisco

[90] II RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION, p. 282 (July 26, 1986).

[91] TSN, October 12, 2010, p. 212. 

[92] Citing RULES OF COURT, Rule 2, Sec. 5 & Rule 140, Sec. 1.

[93] Or by the Committee if the question is first raised therein.

[94] This is not to say, however, that it must always contain two or more charges.  In Santillon v. Miranda, et al, [121 Phil. 1351, 1355 (1965)], it was held that the plural can be understood to include the singular.

[95] Petitioner cites that the Committee stated that “although two complaints were filed against petitioner, the two were in effect merged in one proceeding by their referral on the same day to the Committee.” (TSN, Committee Hearing, September 1, 2010; rollo, p. 528-529).

[96] Id. at 48.

[97] Vide San Luis v. Rojas, G.R. No. 159127, March 3, 2008, 547 SCRA 345, 367.

[98] The Committee’s Comment, p. 29 (rollo, p. 430).

CASE 2011-0057: LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES ET AL. VS. COMELEC ET AL. (G.R. NOS. 176951, G.R. NO. 177499; G.R. No. 178056, 15 FEBRUARY 2011, BERSAMIN, J.) SUBJECTS: CREATION OF CITIES; LEGISLATIVE POWER; EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE. (BRIEF TITLE: LEAGUE OF CITIES ET AL VS. COMELEC ET AL.

x——————————————————————-x

 

RESOLUTION

BERSAMIN, J.:

 

 

          For consideration of this Court are the following pleadings:

1.       Motion for Reconsideration of the “Resolution” dated August 24, 2010 dated and filed on September 14, 2010 by respondents Municipality of Baybay, et al.; and

2.       Opposition [To the “Motion for Reconsideration of the ‘Resolution’ dated August 24, 2010”].

Meanwhile, respondents also filed on September 20, 2010 a Motion to Set “Motion for Reconsideration of the ‘Resolution’ dated August 24, 2010” for Hearing.  This motion was, however, already denied by the Court En Banc.

 

A brief background —

These cases were initiated by the consolidated petitions for prohibition filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), City of Iloilo, City of Calbayog, and Jerry P. Treñas, assailing the constitutionality of the sixteen (16) laws,[1][1] each converting the municipality covered thereby into a component city (Cityhood Laws), and seeking to enjoin the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from conducting plebiscites pursuant to the subject laws.

In the Decision dated November 18, 2008, the Court En Banc, by a 6-5 vote,[2][2] granted the petitions and struck down the Cityhood Laws as unconstitutional for violating Sections 10 and 6, Article X, and the equal protection clause.

In the Resolution dated March 31, 2009, the Court En Banc, by a 7-5 vote,[3][3] denied the first motion for reconsideration.

On April 28, 2009, the Court En Banc issued a Resolution, with a vote of 6-6,[4][4] which denied the second motion for reconsideration for being a prohibited pleading.

In its June 2, 2009 Resolution, the Court En Banc clarified its April 28, 2009 Resolution in this wise—

As a rule, a second motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading pursuant to Section 2, Rule 52 of the Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that: “No second motion for reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained.”  Thus, a decision becomes final and executory after 15 days from receipt of the denial of the first motion for reconsideration.

However, when a motion for leave to file and admit a second motion for reconsideration is granted by the Court, the Court therefore allows the filing of the second motion for reconsideration.  In such a case, the second motion for reconsideration is no longer a prohibited pleading.

In the present case, the Court voted on the second motion for reconsideration filed by respondent cities.  In effect, the Court allowed the filing of the second motion for reconsideration.  Thus, the second motion for reconsideration was no longer a prohibited pleading.  However, for lack of the required number of votes to overturn the 18 November 2008 Decision and 31 March 2009 Resolution, the Court denied the second motion for reconsideration in its 28 April 2009 Resolution.[5][5]

Then, in another Decision dated December 21, 2009, the Court En Banc, by a vote of 6-4,[6][6] declared the Cityhood Laws as constitutional.

On August 24, 2010, the Court En Banc, through a Resolution, by a vote of 7-6,[7][7] resolved the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Annul the Decision of December 21, 2009, both filed by petitioners, and the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioners-in-intervention Batangas City, Santiago City, Legazpi City, Iriga City, Cadiz City, and Oroquieta City, reinstating the November 18, 2008 Decision.  Hence, the aforementioned pleadings.

Considering these circumstances where the Court En Banc has twice changed its position on the constitutionality of the 16 Cityhood Laws, and especially taking note of the novelty of the issues involved in these cases, the Motion for Reconsideration of the “Resolution” dated August 24, 2010 deserves favorable action by this Court on the basis of the following cogent points:

 

1.

The 16 Cityhood Bills do not violate Article X, Section 10 of the Constitution. 

         

          Article X, Section 10 provides—

Section 10.  No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.

The tenor of the ponencias of the November 18, 2008 Decision and the August 24, 2010 Resolution is that the exemption clauses in the 16 Cityhood Laws are unconstitutional because they are not written in the Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC), particularly Section 450 thereof, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9009, which took effect on June 30, 2001, viz.

Section 450. Requisites for Creation. –a) A municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city if it has a locally generated annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of at least One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00) for at least two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:

x x x x

(c) The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, transfers, and non-recurring income. (Emphasis supplied)

Prior to the amendment, Section 450 of the LGC required only an average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of at least P20,000,000.00 for the last two (2) consecutive years, based on 1991 constant prices.

          Before Senate Bill No. 2157, now R.A. No. 9009, was introduced by Senator Aquilino Pimentel, there were 57 bills filed for conversion of 57 municipalities into component cities.  During the 11th Congress (June 1998-June 2001), 33 of these bills were enacted into law, while 24 remained as pending bills.  Among these 24 were the 16 municipalities that were converted into component cities through the Cityhood Laws.

          The rationale for the enactment of R.A. No. 9009 can be gleaned from the sponsorship speech of Senator Pimentel on Senate Bill No. 2157, to wit—

 

Senator Pimentel.  Mr. President, I would have wanted this bill to be included in the whole set of proposed amendments that we have introduced to precisely amend the Local Government Code.  However, it is a fact that there is a mad rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities.  Whereas in 1991, when the Local Government was approved, there were only 60 cities, today the number has increased to 85 cities, with 41 more municipalities applying for conversion to the same status.  At the rate we are going, I am apprehensive that before long this nation will be a nation of all cities and no municipalities.

It is for that reason, Mr. President, that we are proposing among other things, that the financial requirement, which, under the Local Government Code, is fixed at P20 million, be raised to P100 million to enable a municipality to have the right to be converted into a city, and the P100 million should be sourced from locally generated funds.

What has been happening, Mr. President, is, the municipalities aspiring to become cities say that they qualify in terms of financial requirements by incorporating the Internal Revenue share of the taxes of the nation on to their regularly generated revenue.  Under that requirement, it looks clear to me that practically all municipalities in this country would qualify to become cities.

It is precisely for that reason, therefore, that we are seeking the approval of this Chamber to amend, particularly Section 450 of Republic Act No. 7160, the requisite for the average annual income of a municipality to be converted into a city or cluster of barangays which seek to be converted into a city, raising that revenue requirement from P20 million to P100 million for the last two consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices.[8][8]

While R.A. No. 9009 was being deliberated upon, Congress was well aware of the pendency of conversion bills of several municipalities, including those covered by the Cityhood Laws, desiring to become component cities which qualified under the P20 million income requirement of the old Section 450 of the LGC.  The interpellation of Senate President Franklin Drilon of Senator Pimentel is revealing, thus—

THE PRESIDENT.  The Chair would like to ask for some clarificatory point.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT.  This is just on the point of the pending bills in the Senate which propose the conversion of a number of municipalities into cities and which qualify under the present standard.

            We would like to know the view of the sponsor: Assuming that this bill becomes a law, will the Chamber apply the standard as proposed in this bill to those bills which are pending for consideration?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  Mr. President, it might not be fair to make this bill, on the assumption that it is approved, retroact to the bills that are pending in the Senate conversion from municipalities to cities.

THE PRESIDENT.  Will there be an appropriate language crafted to reflect that view? Or does it not become a policy of the Chamber, assuming that this bill becomes a law tomorrow, that it will apply to those bills which are already approved by the House under the old version of the Local Government Code and are now pending in the Senate?  The Chair does not know if we can craft a language which will limit the application to those which are not yet in the Senate.  Or is that a policy that the Chamber will adopt?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  Mr. President, personally, I do not think it is necessary to put that provision because what we are saying here will form part of the interpretation of this bill.  Besides, if there is no retroactivity clause, I do not think that the bill would have any retroactive effect.

THE PRESIDENT.  So the understanding is that those bills which are already pending in the Chamber will not be affected.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  These will not be affected, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT.  Thank you Mr. Chairman.[9][9]

Clearly, based on the above exchange, Congress intended that those with pending cityhood bills during the 11th Congress would not be covered by the new and higher income requirement of P100 million imposed by R.A. No. 9009.  When the LGC was amended by R.A. No. 9009, the amendment carried with it both the letter and the intent of the law, and such were incorporated in the LGC by which the compliance of the Cityhood Laws was gauged.

          Notwithstanding that both the 11th and 12th Congress failed to act upon the pending cityhood bills, both the letter and intent of Section 450 of the LGC, as amended by R.A. No. 9009, were carried on until the 13th Congress, when the Cityhood Laws were enacted.  The exemption clauses found in the individual Cityhood Laws are the express articulation of that intent to exempt respondent municipalities from the coverage of R.A. No. 9009.

          Even if we were to ignore the above quoted exchange between then Senate President Drilon and Senator Pimentel, it cannot be denied that Congress saw the wisdom of exempting respondent municipalities from complying with the higher income requirement imposed by the amendatory R.A. No. 9009.  Indeed, these municipalities have proven themselves viable and capable to become component cities of their respective provinces.  It is also acknowledged that they were centers of trade and commerce, points of convergence of transportation, rich havens of agricultural, mineral, and other natural resources, and flourishing tourism spots.  In this regard, it is worthy to mention the distinctive traits of each respondent municipality, viz—

 

Batac, Ilocos Norte – It is the biggest municipality of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, 2nd largest and most progressive town in the province of Ilocos Norte and the natural convergence point for the neighboring towns to transact their commercial ventures and other daily activities.  A growing metropolis, Batac is equipped with amenities of modern living like banking institutions, satellite cable systems, telecommunications systems.  Adequate roads, markets, hospitals, public transport systems, sports, and entertainment facilities. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 5941, introduced by Rep. Imee R. Marcos.]

 

El Salvador, Misamis Oriental – It is located at the center of the Cagayan-Iligan Industrial Corridor and home to a number of industrial companies and corporations.  Investment and financial affluence of El Salvador is aptly credited to its industrious and preserving people.  Thus, it has become the growing investment choice even besting nearby cities and municipalities.  It is home to Asia Brewery as distribution port of their product in Mindanao.  The Gokongwei Group of Companies is also doing business in the area.  So, the conversion is primarily envisioned to spur economic and financial prosperity to this coastal place in North-Western Misamis Oriental.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 6003, introduced by Rep. Augusto H. Bacullo.]

Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte – It is the largest of the eleven (11) municipalities in the province of Agusan del Norte.  It plays strategic importance to the administrative and socio-economic life and development of Agusan del Norte.  It is the foremost in terms of trade, commerce, and industry.  Hence, the municipality was declared as the new seat and capital of the provincial government of Agusan del Norte pursuant to Republic Act No. 8811 enacted into law on August 16, 2000.  Its conversion will certainly promote, invigorate, and reinforce the economic potential of the province in establishing itself as an agro-industrial center in the Caraga region and accelerate the development of the area.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3094, introduced by Rep. Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante.]

 

Borongan, Eastern Samar – It is the capital town of Eastern Samar and the development of Eastern Samar will depend to a certain degree of its urbanization.  It will serve as a catalyst for the modernization and progress of adjacent towns considering the frequent interactions between the populace.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 2640, introduced by Rep. Marcelino C. Libanan.]

 

Lamitan, Basilan – Before Basilan City was converted into a separate province, Lamitan was the most progressive part of the city.  It has been for centuries the center of commerce and the seat of the Sultanate of the Yakan people of Basilan.  The source of its income is agro-industrial and others notably copra, rubber, coffee and host of income generating ventures.  As the most progressive town in Basilan, Lamitan continues to be the center of commerce catering to the municipalities of Tuburan, Tipo-Tipo and Sumisip.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 5786, introduced by Rep. Gerry A. Salapuddin.]

 

Catbalogan, Samar – It has always been the socio-economic-political capital of the Island of Samar even during the Spanish era.  It is the seat of government of the two congressional districts of Samar.  Ideally located at the crossroad between Northern and Eastern Samar, Catbalogan also hosts trade and commerce activates among the more prosperous cities of the Visayas like Tacloban City, Cebu City and the cities of Bicol region.  The numerous banks and telecommunication facilities showcases the healthy economic environment of the municipality.  The preeminent and sustainable economic situation of Catbalogan has further boosted the call of residents for a more vigorous involvement of governance of the municipal government that is inherent in a city government.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 2088, introduced by Rep. Catalino V. Figueroa.]

 

Bogo, Cebu – Bogo is very qualified for a city in terms of income, population and area among others.  It has been elevated to the Hall of Fame being a five-time winner nationwide in the clean and green program.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3042, introduced by Rep. Clavel A. Martinez.]

 

Tandag, Surigao del Sur – This over 350 year old capital town the province has long sought its conversion into a city that will pave the way not only for its own growth and advancement but also help in the development of its neighboring municipalities and the province as a whole.  Furthermore, it can enhance its role as the province’s trade, financial and government center.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 5940, introduced by Rep. Prospero A. Pichay, Jr.]

 

Bayugan, Agusan del Sur – It is a first class municipality and the biggest in terms of population in the entire province.  It has the most progressive and thickly populated area among the 14 municipalities that comprise the province.  Thus, it has become the center for trade and commerce in Agusan del Sur.  It has a more developed infrastructure and facilities than other municipalities in the province.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 1899, introduced by Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” G. Plaza.]

 

Carcar, Cebu – Through the years, Carcar metamorphosed from rural to urban and now boast of its manufacturing industry, agricultural farming, fishing and prawn industry and its thousands of large and small commercial establishments contributing to the bulk of economic activities in the municipality.  Based on consultation with multi-sectoral groups, political and non-government agencies, residents and common folk in Carcar, they expressed their desire for the conversion of the municipality into a component city.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3990, introduced by Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas.]

 

Guihulngan, Negros Oriental – Its population is second highest in the province, next only to the provincial capital and higher than Canlaon City and Bais City.  Agriculture contributes heavily to its economy.  There are very good prospects in agricultural production brought about by its favorable climate.  It has also the Tanon Strait that provides a good fishing ground for its numerous fishermen.  Its potential to grow commercially is certain.  Its strategic location brought about by its existing linkage networks and the major transportation corridors traversing the municipality has established Guihulngan as the center of commerce and trade in this part of Negros Oriental with the first congressional district as its immediate area of influence.  Moreover, it has beautiful tourist spots that are being availed of by local and foreign tourists.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3628, introduced by Rep. Jacinto V. Paras.]

 

Tayabas, Quezon – It flourished and expanded into an important politico-cultural center in [the] Tagalog region.  For 131 years (1179-1910), it served as the cabecera of the province which originally carried the cabecera’s own name, Tayabas.  The locality is rich in culture, heritage and trade.  It was at the outset one of the more active centers of coordination and delivery of basic, regular and diverse goods and services within the first district of Quezon Province.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3348, introduced by Rep. Rafael P. Nantes.]

 

Tabuk, Kalinga – It not only serves as the main hub of commerce and trade, but also the cultural center of the rich customs and traditions of the different municipalities in the province.  For the past several years, the income of Tabuk has been steadily increasing, which is an indication that its economy is likewise progressively growing.  [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3068, introduced by Rep. Laurence P. Wacnang.]

Available information on Baybay, Leyte; Mati, Davao Oriental; and Naga, Cebu shows their economic viability, thus:

Covering an area of 46,050 hectares, Baybay [Leyte] is composed of 92 barangays, 23 of which are in the poblacion.  The remaining 69 are rural barangays.  Baybay City is classified as a first class city.  It is situated on the western coast of the province of Leyte.  It has a Type 4 climate, which is generally wet.  Its topography is generally mountainous in the eastern portion as it slopes down west towards the shore line.  Generally an agricultural city, the common means of livelihood are farming and fishing.  Some are engaged in hunting and in forestall activities.  The most common crops grown are rice, corn, root crops, fruits, and vegetables.  Industries operating include the Specialty Products Manufacturing, Inc. and the Visayan Oil Mill.  Various cottage industries can also be found in the city such as bamboo and rattan craft, ceramics, dress-making, fiber craft, food preservation, mat weaving, metal craft, fine Philippine furniture manufacturing and other related activities.  Baybay has great potential as a tourist destination, especially for tennis players.  It is not only rich in biodiversity and history, but it also houses the campus of the Visayas State University (formerly the Leyte State University/Visayas State College of Agriculture/Visayas Agricultural College/Baybay National Agricultural School/Baybay Agricultural High School and the Jungle Valley Park.)  Likewise, it has river systems fit for river cruising, numerous caves for spelunking, forests, beaches, and marine treasures.  This richness, coupled with the friendly Baybayanos, will be an element of a successful tourism program.  Considering the role of tourism in development, Baybay City intends to harness its tourism potential. (<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baybay City> visited September 19, 2008)

 

Mati [Davao Oriental] is located on the eastern part of the island of Mindanao.  It is one hundred sixty-five (165) kilometers away from Davao City, a one and a half-hour drive from Tagum City.  Visitors can travel from Davao City through the Madaum diversion road, which is shorter than taking the Davao-Tagum highway.  Travels by air and sea are possible, with the existence of an airport and seaport.  Mati boasts of being the coconut capital of Mindanao if not the whole country.  A large portion of its fertile land is planted to coconuts, and a significant number of its population is largely dependent on it.  Other agricultural crops such as mango, banana, corn, coffee and cacao are also being cultivated, as well as the famous Menzi pomelo and Valencia oranges.  Mati has a long stretch of shoreline and one can find beaches of pure, powder-like white sand.  A number of resorts have been developed and are now open to serve both local and international tourists.  Some of these resorts are situated along the coast of Pujada Bay and the Pacific Ocean.  Along the western coast of the bay lies Mt. Hamiguitan, the home of the pygmy forest, where bonsai plants and trees grow, some of which are believed to be a hundred years old or more.  On its peak is a lake, called “Tinagong Dagat,” or hidden sea, so covered by dense vegetation a climber has to hike trails for hours to reach it.  The mountain is also host to rare species of flora and fauna, thus becoming a wildlife sanctuary for these life forms. (<http://mati.wetpain.com/?t=anon>  accessed on September 19, 2008.)

Mati is abundant with nickel, chromite, and copper.  Louie Rabat, Chamber President of the Davao Oriental Eastern Chamber of Commerce and Industry, emphasized the big potential of the mining industry in the province of Davao Oriental.  As such, he strongly recommends Mati as the mining hub in the Region.

(<http://www.pia.gov.ph/default.asp?m=12&sec=reader&rp=1&fi=p080115.htm&no.=9&date, accessed on September 19, 2008)

 

Naga [Cebu]: Historical Background—In the early times, the place now known as Naga was full of huge trees locally called as “Narra.”  The first settlers referred to this place as Narra, derived from the huge trees, which later simply became Naga.  Considered as one of the oldest settlements in the Province of Cebu, Naga became a municipality on June 12, 1829.  The municipality has gone through a series of classifications as its economic development has undergone changes and growth.  The tranquil farming and fishing villages of the natives were agitated as the Spaniards came and discovered coal in the uplands.  Coal was the first export of the municipality, as the Spaniards mined and sent it to Spain.  The mining industry triggered the industrial development of Naga.  As the years progressed, manufacturing and other industries followed, making Naga one of the industrialized municipalities in the Province of Cebu.

Class of Municipality                             1st class

Province                                               Cebu

Distance from Cebu City                       22 kms.

Number of Barangays                           28

No. of Registered Voters                      44,643 as of May 14, 2007

Total No. of Precincts                           237 (as of May 14, 2007)

Ann. Income (as of Dec. 31, 2006)       Php112,219,718.35                                                                       Agricultural, Industrial, Agro-Industrial, Mining Product

(<http://www.nagacebu.com/index.php?option=com.content&view=article id=53:naga-facts-and-figures&catid=51:naga-facts-and-figures&Itemid=75> visited September 19, 2008)

          The enactment of the Cityhood Laws is an exercise by Congress of its legislative power.  Legislative power is the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter and repeal them.[10][10]  The Constitution, as the expression of 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 powers 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.[11][11]

          Without doubt, the LGC is a creation of Congress through its law-making powers.  Congress has the power to alter or modify it as it did when it enacted R.A. No. 9009.  Such power of amendment of laws was again exercised when Congress enacted the Cityhood Laws.  When Congress enacted the LGC in 1991, it provided for quantifiable indicators of economic viability for the creation of local government units—income, population, and land area.  Congress deemed it fit to modify the income requirement with respect to the conversion  of municipalities into component cities when

it enacted R.A. No. 9009, imposing an amount of P100 million, computed only from locally-generated sources.  However, Congress deemed it wiser to exempt respondent municipalities from such a belatedly imposed modified income requirement in order to uphold its higher calling of putting flesh and blood to the very intent and thrust of the LGC, which is countryside development and autonomy, especially accounting for these municipalities as engines for economic growth in their respective provinces.

          Undeniably, R.A. No. 9009 amended the LGC.  But it is also true that, in effect, the Cityhood Laws amended R.A. No. 9009 through the exemption clauses found therein.  Since the Cityhood Laws explicitly exempted the concerned municipalities from the amendatory R.A. No. 9009, such Cityhood Laws are, therefore, also amendments to the LGC itself.  For this reason, we reverse the November 18, 2008 Decision and the August 24, 2010 Resolution on their strained and stringent view that the Cityhood Laws, particularly their exemption clauses, are not found in the LGC.

2.

The Cityhood Laws do not violate Section 6, Article X and the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

 

          Both the November 18, 2008 Decision and the August 24, 2010 Resolution impress that the Cityhood Laws violate the equal protection clause enshrined in the Constitution.  Further, it was also ruled that Section 6, Article X was violated because the Cityhood Laws infringed on the “just share” that petitioner and petitioners-in-intervention shall receive from the national taxes (IRA) to be automatically released to them.

          Upon more profound reflection and deliberation, we declare that there was valid classification, and the Cityhood Laws do not violate the equal protection clause.

As this Court has ruled, the equal protection clause of the 1987 Constitution permits a valid classification, provided that it: (1) rests on substantial distinctions; (2) is germane to the purpose of the law; (3) is not limited to existing conditions only; and (4) applies equally to all members of the same class.[12][12]

          The petitioners argue that there is no substantial distinction between municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress and municipalities that did not have pending bills, such that the mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one municipality from another for the purpose of the income requirement.  This contention misses the point.

          It should be recalled from the above quoted portions of the interpellation by Senate President Drilon of Senator Pimentel that the purpose of the enactment of R.A. No 9009 was merely to stop the “mad rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities” and the apprehension that before long the country will be a country of cities and without municipalities.  It should be pointed out that the imposition of the P100 million average annual income requirement for the creation of component cities was arbitrarily made.  To be sure, there was no evidence or empirical data, such as inflation rates, to support the choice of this amount.  The imposition of a very high income requirement of P100 million, increased from P20 million, was simply to make it extremely difficult for municipalities to become component cities.  And to highlight such arbitrariness and the absurdity of the situation created thereby, R.A. No. 9009 has, in effect, placed component cities at a higher standing than highly urbanized cities under Section 452 of the LGC, to wit—

            Section 452. Highly Urbanized Cities. – (a) Cities with a minimum population of two hundred thousand (200,000) inhabitants, as certified by the National Statistics Office, and with the latest annual income of at least Fifty Million Pesos (P50,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by the city treasurer, shall be classified as highly urbanized cities.

            (b)  Cities which do not meet above requirements shall be considered component cities of the province in which they are geographically located.  (Emphasis supplied)

          The P100 million income requirement imposed by R.A. No. 9009, being an arbitrary amount, cannot be conclusively said to be the only amount “sufficient, based on acceptable standards, to provide for all essential    government    facilities    and    services   and    special   functions

commensurate with the size of its population,” per Section 7[13][13] of the LGC.  It was imposed merely because it is difficult to comply with.  While it could be argued that P100 million, being more than P20 million, could, of course, provide the essential government facilities, services, and special functions vis-à-vis the population of a municipality wanting to become a component city, it cannot be said that the minimum amount of P20 million would be insufficient.  This is evident from the existing cities whose income, up to now, do not comply with the P100 million income requirement, some of which have lower than the P20 million average annual income.  Consider the list[14][14] below—

CITY AVERAGE ANNUAL INCOME
1.   Marawi City 5,291,522.10
2.   Palayan City 6,714,651.77
3.   Sipalay City 9,713,120.00
4.   Canlaon City 13,552,493.79
5.   Himamaylan City 15,808,530.00
6.   Isabela City 16,811,246.79
7.   Munoz City 19,693,358.61
8.   Dapitan City 20,529,181.08
9.   Tangub City 20,943,810.04
10. Bayawan City 22,943,810.04
11. Island Garden City of Samal 23,034,731.83
12. Tanjay City 23,723,612.44
13. Tabaco City 24,152,853.71
14. Oroquieta City 24,279,966.51
15. Ligao City 28,326,745.86
16. Sorsogon City 30,403,324.59
17. Maasin City 30,572,113.65
18. Escalante City 32,113,970.00
19. Iriga City 32,757,871.44
20. Gapan City 34,254,986.47
21. Candon City 36,327,705.86
22. Gingoog City 37,327,705.86
23. Masbate City 39,454,508.28
24. Passi City 40,314,620.00
25. Calbayog City 40,943,128.73
26. Calapan City 41,870,239.21
27. Cadiz City 43,827,060.00
28. Alaminos City 44,352,501.00
29. Bais City 44, 646,826.48
30. San Carlos City 46,306,129.13
31. Silay City 47,351,730.00
32. Bislig City 47,360,716.24
33. Tacurong City 49,026,281.56
34. Talisay City (Negros Occidental) 52,609,790.00
35. Kabankalan City 53,560,580.00
36. Malaybalay City 54,423,408.55
37. La Carlota City 54,760,290.00
38. Vigan City 56,831,797.19
39. Balanga City 61,556,700.49
40. Sagay City 64,266,350.00
41. Cavite City 64,566,079.05
42. Koronadal City 66,231,717.19
43. Cotabato City 66,302,114.52
44. Toledo City 70,157,331.12
45. San Jose City 70,309,233.43
46. Danao City 72,621,955.30
47. Bago City 74,305,000.00
48. Valencia City 74,557,298.92
49. Victorias City 75,757,298.92
50. Cauayan City 82,949,135.46
51. Santiago City 83,816,025.89
52. Roxas City 85,397,830.00
53. Dipolog City 85,503,262.85
54. Trece Martires City 87,413,786.64
55. Talisay City (Cebu) 87,964,972.97
56. Ozamis city 89,054,056.12
57. Surigao City 89,960,971.33
58. Panabo City 91,425,301.39
59. Digos City 92,647,699.13

 

The undeniable fact that these cities remain viable as component cities of their respective provinces emphasizes the arbitrariness of the amount of P100 million as the new income requirement for the conversion of municipalities into component cities.  This arbitrariness can also be clearly gleaned from the respective distinctive traits and level of economic development of the individual respondent municipalities as above submitted.

          Verily, the determination of the existence of substantial distinction with respect to respondent municipalities does not simply lie on the mere pendency of their cityhood bills during the 11th Congress.  This Court sees the bigger picture.  The existence of substantial distinction with respect to respondent municipalities covered by the Cityhood Laws is measured by the purpose of the law, not by R.A. No. 9009, but by the very purpose of the LGC, as provided in its Section 2 (a), thus—

            SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy.—(a) It is hereby declared the policy of the State that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals.  Toward this end, the State shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities and resources.  The process of decentralization shall proceed from the National Government to the local government units.

          Indeed, substantial distinction lies in the capacity and viability of respondent municipalities to become component cities of their respective provinces.  Congress, by enacting the Cityhood Laws, recognized this capacity and viability of respondent municipalities to become the State’s partners in accelerating economic growth and development in the provincial regions, which is the very thrust of the LGC, manifested by the pendency of their cityhood bills during the 11th Congress and their relentless pursuit for cityhood up to the present.  Truly, the urgent need to become a component city arose way back in the 11th Congress, and such condition continues to exist.

          Petitioners in these cases complain about the purported reduction of their “just share” in the IRA.  To be sure, petitioners are entitled to a “just share,” not a specific amount.  But the feared reduction proved to be false when, after the implementation of the Cityhood Laws, their respective shares increased, not decreased.  Consider the table[15][15] below—

CITY CY 2006 IRA

(Before Implementation of Sixteen [16] Cityhood Laws)

CY 2008 IRA

(Actual Release After Implementation of Sixteen [16] Cityhood Laws)

Bais 219,338,056.00 242,193,156.00
Batangas 334,371,984.00 388,871,770.00
Bayawan 353,150,158.00 388,840,062.00
Cadiz 329,491,285.00 361,019,211.00
Calapan 227,772,199.00 252,587,779.00
Calbayog 438,603,378.00 485,653,769.00
Cauayan 250,477,157.00 277,120,828.00
Gen. Santos 518,388,557.00 631,864,977.00
Gingoog 314,425,637.00 347,207,725.00
Himamaylan 248,154,381.00 277,532,458.00
Iloilo 358,394,268.00 412,506,278.00
Iriga 183,132,036.00 203,072,932.00
Legaspi 235,314,016.00 266,537,785.00
Ligao 215,608,112.00 239,696,441.00
Oroquieta 191,803,213.00 211,449,720.00
Pagadian 292,788,255.00 327,401,672.00
San Carlos 239,524,249.00 260,515,711.00
San Fernando 182,320,356.00 204,140,940.00
Santiago 508,326,072.00 563,679,572.00
Silay 216,372,314.00 241,363,845.00
Surigao 233,968,119.00 260,708,071.00
Tacurong 179,795,271.00 197,880,665.00
Tagaytay 130,159,136.00 152,445,295.00
Tarlac 348,186,756.00 405,611,581.00
Tangub 162,248,610.00 180,640,621.00
Urdaneta 187,721,031.00 207,129,386.00
Victorias 176,367,959.00 194,162,687.00
Zamboanga 918,013,016.00 1,009,972,704.00

 

What these petitioner cities were stating as a reduction of their respective IRA shares was based on a computation of what they would receive if respondent municipalities were not to become component cities at all.  Of course, that would mean a bigger amount to which they have staked their claim.  After considering these, it all boils down to money and how much more they would receive if respondent municipalities remain as municipalities and not share in the 23% fixed IRA from the national government for cities. 

Moreover, the debates in the Senate on R.A. No. 9009, should prove enlightening:

 

SENATOR SOTTO.  Mr. President, we just want to be enlightened again on the previous qualification and the present one being proposed.  Before there were three…

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  There are three requisites for a municipality to become a city.  Let us start with the finance.

SENATOR SOTTO.  Will the distinguished sponsor please refresh us?  I used to be the chairman of the Committee on Local Government, but the new job that was given to me by the Senate has erased completely my memory as far as the Local Government Code is concerned.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  Yes, Mr. President, with pleasure.  There are three requirements.  One is financial.

SENATOR SOTTO.  All right.  It used to be P20 million.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  It is P20 million.  Now we are raising it to P100 million of locally generated funds.

SENATOR SOTTO.  In other words, the P20 million before includes the IRA.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  No, Mr. President.

SENATOR SOTTO.  It should not have been included?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  The internal revenue share should never have been included.  That was not the intention when we first crafted the Local Government Code.  The financial capacity was supposed to be demonstrated by the municipality wishing to become a city by its own effort, meaning to say, it should not rely on the internal revenue share that comes from the government.  Unfortunately, I think what happened in past conversions of municipalities into cities was, the Department of Budget and Management, along with the Department of Finance, had included the internal revenue share as a part of the municipality, demonstration that they are now financially capable and can measure up to the requirement of the Local Government Code of having a revenue of at least P20 million.

SENATOR SOTTO.  I am glad that the sponsor, Mr. President, has spread that into the Record because otherwise, if he did not mention the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management, then I would have been blamed for the misinterpretation.  But anyway, the gentleman is correct.  That was the interpretation given to us during the hearings.

                        So now, from P20 million, we make it P100 million from locally generated income as far as population is concerned.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  As far as population is concerned, there will be no change, Mr. President.  Still 150,000.

SENATOR SOTTO.  Still 150,000?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  Yes.

SENATOR SOTTO.  And then the land area?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  As to the land area, there is no change; it is still 100 square kilometers.

SENATOR SOTTO.  But before it was “either/or”?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  That is correct.  As long as it has one of the three requirements, basically, as long as it meets the financial requirement, then it may meet the territorial requirement or the population requirement.

SENATOR SOTTO.  So, it remains “or”?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  We are now changing it into AND.

SENATOR SOTTO.  AND?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  Yes.

SENATOR SOTTO.  I see.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  That is the proposal, Mr. President.  In other words…

SENATOR SOTTO.  Does the gentleman not think there will no longer be any municipality that will qualify, Mr. President?

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  There may still be municipalities which can qualify, but it will take a little time.  They will have to produce more babies.  I do not know—expand their territories, whatever, by reclamation or otherwise.  But the whole proposal is geared towards making it difficult for municipalities to convert into cities.

 

                        On the other hand, I would like to advert to the fact that in the amendments that we are proposing for the entire Local Government Code, we are also raising the internal revenue share of the municipalities.

SENATOR SOTTO.  I see.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  So that, more or less, hindi naman sila dehado in this particular instance.

SENATOR SOTTO.  Well, then, because of that information, Mr. President, I throw my full support behind the measure.

                        Thank you, Mr. President.

SENATOR PIMENTEL.  Thank you very much, Mr. President. (Emphasis supplied)[16][16]

From the foregoing, the justness in the act of Congress in enacting the Cityhood Laws becomes obvious, especially considering that 33 municipalities were converted into component cities almost immediately prior to the enactment of R.A. No. 9009.  In the enactment of the Cityhood Laws, Congress merely took the 16 municipalities covered thereby from the disadvantaged position brought about by the abrupt increase in the income requirement of R.A. No. 9009, acknowledging the “privilege” that they have already given to those newly-converted component cities, which prior to the enactment of R.A. No. 9009, were undeniably in the same footing or “class” as the respondent municipalities.  Congress merely recognized the capacity and readiness of respondent municipalities to become component cities of their respective provinces. 

Petitioners complain of the projects that they would not be able to pursue and the expenditures that they would not be able to meet, but totally ignored the respondent municipalities’ obligations arising from the contracts they have already entered into, the employees that they have already hired, and the projects that they have already initiated and completed as component cities.  Petitioners have completely overlooked the need of respondent municipalities to become effective vehicles intending to accelerate economic growth in the countryside.  It is like the elder siblings wanting to kill the newly-borns so that their inheritance would not be diminished. 

Apropos is the following parable:

There was a landowner who went out at dawn to hire workmen for his vineyard.  After reaching an agreement with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them out to his vineyard.  He came out about midmorning and saw other men standing around the marketplace without work, so he said to them, “You too go along to my vineyard and I will pay you whatever is fair.”  They went.  He came out again around noon and mid-afternoon and did the same.  Finally, going out in late afternoon he found still others standing around.  To these he said, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “No one has hired us,” they told him.  He said, “You go to the vineyard too.”  When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workmen and give them their pay, but begin with the last group and end with the first.”  When those hired late in the afternoon came up they received a full day’s pay, and when the first group appeared they thought they would get more, yet they received the same daily wage.  Thereupon they complained to the owner, “This last group did only an hour’s work, but you have paid them on the same basis as us who have worked a full day in the scorching heat.”  “My friend,” he said to one in reply, “I do you no injustice.  You agreed on the usual wage, did you not?  Take your pay and go home.  I intend to give this man who was hired last the same pay as you.  I am free to do as I please with my money, am I not? Or are you envious because I am generous?”[17][17]

Congress, who holds the power of the purse, in enacting the Cityhood Laws, only sought the well-being of respondent municipalities, having seen their respective capacities to become component cities of their provinces, temporarily stunted by the enactment of R.A. No. 9009.  By allowing respondent municipalities to convert into component cities, Congress desired only to uphold the very purpose of the LGC, i.e., to make the local government units “enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals,” which is the very mandate of the Constitution.

Finally, we should not be restricted by technical rules of procedure at the expense of the transcendental interest of justice and equity.  While it is true that litigation must end, even at the expense of errors in judgment, it is nobler rather for this Court of last resort, as vanguard of truth, to toil in order to dispel apprehensions and doubt, as the following pronouncement of this Court instructs:

The right and power of judicial tribunals to declare whether enactments of the legislature exceed the constitutional limitations and are invalid has always been considered a grave responsibility, as well as a solemn duty.  The courts invariably give the most careful consideration to questions involving the interpretation and application of the Constitution, and approach constitutional questions with great deliberation, exercising their power in this respect with the greatest possible caution and even reluctance; and they should never declare a statute void, unless its invalidity is, in their judgment, beyond reasonable doubt.  To justify a court in pronouncing a legislative act unconstitutional, or a provision of a state constitution to be in contravention of the Constitution x x x, the case must be so clear to be free from doubt, and the conflict of the statute with the constitution must be irreconcilable, because it is but a decent respect to the wisdom, the integrity, and the patriotism of the legislative body by which any law is passed to presume in favor of its validity until the contrary is shown beyond reasonable doubt.  Therefore, in no doubtful case will the judiciary pronounce a legislative act to be contrary to the constitution.  To doubt the constitutionality of a law is to resolve the doubt in favor of its validity.[18][18]

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration of the “Resolution” dated August 24, 2010, dated and filed on September 14, 2010 by respondents Municipality of Baybay, et al. is GRANTED.  The Resolution dated August 24, 2010 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.   The Cityhood Laws—Republic Acts Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436, and 9491—are declared CONSTITUTIONAL.

            SO ORDERED.

                                                LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

                                                Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

 

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice

 

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

 

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

Associate Justice

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

 

ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice

 

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

 

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.

Associate Justice

 

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

 

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Associate Justice

 

 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

 

                                                RENATO C. CORONA

                                                Chief Justice

 


 


[1][1]   Republic Acts 9389 [Baybay City, Leyte], 9390 [Bogo City, Cebu], 9391 [Catbalogan City, Samar], 9392 [Tandag City, Surigao del Sur], 9393 [Lamitan City, Basilan], 9394 [Borongan City, Samar], 9398 [Tayabas City, Quezon], 9404 [Tabuk City, Kalinga], 9405 [Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur], 9407 [Batac City, Ilocos Norte], 9408 [Mati City, Davao Oriental], 9409 [Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental], 9434 [Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte], 9435 [El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental], 9436 [Carcar City, Cebu], and 9491 [Naga City, Cebu].

[2][2]     Penned by J. Carpio, with JJ. Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Velasco, Jr., and Brion, concurring; dissenting, J. Reyes, joined by JJ. Corona, Azcuna, Chico-Nazario, and Leonardo-De Castro; C.J. Puno, and JJ. Nachura and Tinga took no part; J. Ynares-Santiago was on leave.

[3][3]    Justice Velasco, Jr. wrote a Dissenting Opinion, joined by Justices Ynares-Santiago, Corona, Chico-Nazario, and Leonardo-De Castro.  Chief Justice Puno and Justice Nachura took no part.

[4][4]    Justice Velasco, Jr. wrote a Dissenting Opinion, joined by Justices Ynares-Santiago, Corona, Chico-Nazario, Leonardo-De Castro, and Bersamin. Chief Justice Puno and Justice Nachura took no part.  Justice Quisumbing was on leave.

[5][5]     Citations omitted.

[6][6]   Penned by J. Velasco, Jr., with JJ. Corona, Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin, Abad, and Villarama concurring; dissenting, J. Carpio, joined by JJ. Carpio-Morales, Brion, and Peralta; C.J. Puno and JJ. Nachura and Del Castillo took no part.

[7][7]   Penned by J. Carpio, with JJ. Carpio-Morales, Brion,  Peralta, Villarama, Mendoza, and Sereno, concurring; dissenting,, J. Velasco, Jr., joined by C.J. Corona, and JJ. Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin, Abad, and Perez; JJ. Nachura and  Del Castillo took no part.

[8][8]     II Record, Senate, 13th Congress, p. 164 (October 5, 2000); rollo (G.R. No. 176951), Vol. 5, p. 3765.

[9][9]     Id. at 167-168; id. at 3768-3769.

[10][10]    Review Center Association of the Philippines v. Ermita, G.R. No. 180046, April 2, 2009, 583 SCRA 428, 450, citing Kilusang Mayo Uno v. Director-General, National Economic Development Authority, G.R. No. 167798, April 19, 2006, 487 SCRA 623.

[11][11]     Id., citing Ople v. Torres, 354 Phil. 948 (1998).

[12][12]    De Guzman, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, 391 Phil. 70, 79 (2000); Tiu v. Court of Tax Appeals, 361 Phil. 229, 242 (1999).

[13][13]    SECTION 7. Creation and Conversion. As a general rule, the creation of a local government unit or its conversion from one level to another level shall be based on verifiable indicators of viability and projected capacity to provide services, to wit:

(a)     Income. — It must be sufficient, based on acceptable standards, to provide for all essential government facilities and services and special functions commensurate with the size of its population, as expected of the local government unit concerned;

(b)     Population .— It shall be determined as the total number of inhabitants within the territorial jurisdiction of the local government unit concerned; and

(c)     Land Area .— It must be contiguous, unless it comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by a local government unit independent of the others; properly identified by metes and bound with technical descriptions; and sufficient to provide for such basic services and facilities to meet the requirements of its populace.

Compliance with the foregoing indicators shall be attested to by the Department of Finance (DOF), the National Statistics Office (NSO), and the Lands Management Bureau (LMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). (Emphasis supplied.)

[14][14]    The figures reflect the actual income of the cities for 2006.  If R.A. No. 9009 is to be applied such that the figures are expressed in 2000 constant prices, the income of the cities will even be lower. (Certification from the Bureau of Local Government Finance dated December 5, 2008; rollo [G.R. No. 176951], Vol. 5, pp. 3731-3734.)

[15][15]    Based on the letter dated December 9, 2008 of the Department of Budget and Management; rollo (G.R. No. 176951), Vol. 5, pp. 3978-3986.

[16][16]    Committee Amendments re S. No. 2157, Records of the Senate, Vol. II, No. 24, October 5, 2000, pp. 165-166; id. at 3766-3767.

[17][17]     Mat. 20: 1-15.

[18][18]    Churchill v. Rafferty, 32 Phil. 580, 584 (1915).

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