Dissension in the Court: January 2011

The following is a decision promulgated by the High Court in January 2011 where at least one Justice felt compelled to express his or her dissent from the decision penned by the ponente.

1.         Sui Generis (Leonardo-de Castro vs. Carpio)

The case of Dante V. Liban, et al vs. Richard J. Gordon originated from a petition filed by petitioners to declare Gordon as having forfeited his seat in the Senate when he accepted the chairmanship of the Board of Governors of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC). According to the petitioners, Gordon had violated Section 13, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, which reads:

SEC. 13. No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may hold any other office or employment in the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries, during his term without forfeiting his seat. Neither shall he be appointed to any office which may have been created or the emoluments thereof increased during the term for which he was elected.

In its original decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Senator Gordon did not commit such a violation because the PNRC, having been established in March 22, 1947 through Republic Act No. 95, was not a government-owned or controlled corporation, but a private corporation or organization albeit performing public functions.

That ruling, however, engendered a resultant query as to whether or not then, the PNRC was unconstitutionally established by the legislature given that under Section 7, Article XIV of the then effective 1935 Constitution, it was provided that:

SEC. 7. The Congress shall not, except by general law, provide for the formation, organization, or regulation of private corporations, unless such corporations are owned and controlled by the Government or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof.

Similar prohibitions are found in Article XIV, Section 4 of the 1973 Constitution and Article XII, Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution.  The latter reads:

SECTION 16. The Congress shall not, except by general law, provide for the formation, organization, or regulation of private corporations. Government-owned or controlled corporations may be created or established by special charters in the interest of the common good and subject to the test of economic viability.

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