February 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected February 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Constitutional Law

Administrative cases; right to be presumed innocent. The trial court was correct in declaring that respondents had the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This means that an employee who has a pending administrative case filed against him is given the benefit of the doubt and is considered innocent until the contrary is proven. In this case, respondents were placed under preventive suspension for 90 days from 23 May 2002 to 21 August 2002. After serving the period of their preventive suspension and without the administrative case being finally resolved, respondents should have been reinstated and entitled to the grant of step increment. The Board of Trustees of the Government Service Insurance System, et al. v. Albert M. Velasco, et al. G.R. No. 170463, February 2, 2011.

Equal Protection; valid classification. 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. The SC held 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 found that the imposition of the P100 million average annual income requirement for the creation of component cities was arbitrarily made as 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. The SC also found that 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. League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al./League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al./League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al. G.R. No. 176951/G.R. No. 177499/G.R. No. 178056, February 15, 2011.

Expropriation; abandonment of public purpose. In this case, the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) and/or its predecessor agency had not actually used the lots subject of the final decree of expropriation in Civil Case No. R-1881 for the purpose they were originally taken by the government, i.e., for the expansion and development of Lahug Airport. In fact, the Lahug Airport had been closed and abandoned. Also, in this case, it was preponderantly established by evidence that the National Airport Corporation, MCIAA’s predecessor, through its team of negotiators, had given assurance to the affected landowners that they would be entitled to repurchase their respective lots in the event they are no longer used for airport purposes. The SC held that the government acquires only such rights in expropriated parcels of land as may be allowed by the character of its title over the properties. This means that in the event the particular public use for which a parcel of land is expropriated is abandoned, the owner shall not be entitled to recover or repurchase it as a matter of right, unless such recovery or repurchase is expressed in or irresistibly deducible from the condemnation judgment. The SC held that the decision in Civil Case No. R-1881 enjoined MCIAA, as a condition of approving expropriation, to allow recovery or repurchase upon abandonment of the Lahug airport project. In effect, the government merely held the properties condemned in trust until the proposed public use or purpose for which the lots were condemned was actually consummated by the government.  Since the government failed to perform the obligation that is the basis of the transfer of the property, then the lot owners can demand the reconveyance of their old properties after the payment of the condemnation price. A condemnor should commit to use the property pursuant to the purpose stated in the petition for expropriation, failing which it should file another petition for the new purpose.  If not, then it behooves the condemnor to return the said property to its private owner, if the latter so desires. The government cannot plausibly keep the property it expropriated in any manner it pleases and, in the process, dishonor the judgment of expropriation. Anunciacion Vda. De Ouano, et al. v. Republic of the Philippines, et al./Mactan-Cebu International Airport [MCIAA] v. Ricardo L. Inocian, in his personal capacity and as Attorney-in-Fact of Olympia E. Esteves, et al. and Aletha Suico Magat in her personal capacity and as Attorney-in-Fact of Philip M. Suico, et al. G.R. Nos. 168770 & 168812, February 9, 2011.

Expropriation; reconveyance of expropriated property. In accordance with Art. 1187 of the Civil Code on mutual compensation, MCIAA may keep whatever income or fruits it may have obtained from the parcels of land expropriated. In turn, the landowners need not require the accounting of interests earned by the amounts they received as just compensation. Following Art. 1189 of the Civil Code providing that if the thing is improved by its nature, or by time, the improvement shall inure to the benefit of the creditor, the landowners do not have to settle the appreciation of the values of their respective lots as part of the reconveyance process, since the value increase is merely the natural effect of nature and time. Anunciacion Vda. De Ouano, et al. v. Republic of the Philippines, et al./Mactan-Cebu International Airport [MCIAA] v. Ricardo L. Inocian, in his personal capacity and as Attorney-in-Fact of Olympia E. Esteves, et al. and Aletha Suico Magat in her personal capacity and as Attorney-in-Fact of Philip M. Suico, et al. G.R. Nos. 168770 & 168812, February 9, 2011.

Impeachment; narration of facts. Petitioner urged the Court to look into the narration of facts constituting the offenses vis-à-vis her submissions disclaiming the allegations in the complaints. The SC denied this as that 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. Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez v. The House of Representatives Committee on Justice, et al. G.R. No. 193459, February 15, 2011.

Impeachment; publication requirement. Petitioner contended 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 tacked 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.” While “promulgation” would seem synonymous to “publication,” there is a statutory difference in their usage. Promulgation must thus be used in the context in which it is generally understood, that is, to make known. 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. 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 the Supreme 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 SC observed that it is in no position to dictate a mode of promulgation beyond the dictates of the Constitution. 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. Even assuming that publication is required, lack of it does not nullify the proceedings taken prior to the effectiveness of the Impeachment Rules, which faithfully comply with the relevant self-executing provisions of the Constitution.  Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez v. The House of Representatives Committee on Justice, et al. G.R. No. 193459, February 15, 2011.

Impeachment; 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 reckoned 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 posited that within one year from July 22, 2010, no second impeachment complaint may be accepted and referred to public respondent. Contrary to petitioner’s claim, the SC found that the previous case of Francisco v. House of Representatives was applicable to this case. There the SC held that the term “initiate” means to file the complaint and take initial action on it. 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. With a simultaneous referral of multiple complaints filed, more than one lighted matchstick light the candle at the same time.  According to the SC, what is important is that there should only be one candle that is kindled in a year, such that once the candle starts burning, subsequent matchsticks can no longer rekindle the candle. Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez v. The House of Representatives Committee on Justice, et al. G.R. No. 193459, February 15, 2011.

Impeachment; sufficiency of form and substance. Petitioner claimed that Congress 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. The SC found this claim to be untenable. 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. 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,” 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.” 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.”  Prudential considerations behooved the Supreme 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. Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez v. The House of Representatives Committee on Justice, et al. G.R. No. 193459, February 15, 2011.

Internal Revenue Allotment; just share. 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. League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al./League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al./League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al. G.R. No. 176951/G.R. No. 177499/G.R. No. 178056, February 15, 2011.

International Agreements; limitations on sovereignty. The RP, by entering into the Agreement, does thereby abdicate its sovereignty, abdication being done by its waiving or abandoning its right to seek recourse through the Rome Statute of the ICC for erring Americans committing international crimes in the country. As it were, the Agreement is but a form of affirmance and confirmation of the Philippines’ national criminal jurisdiction.  National criminal jurisdiction being primary, it is always the responsibility and within the prerogative of the RP either to prosecute criminal offenses equally covered by the Rome Statute or to accede to the jurisdiction of the ICC.  Thus, the Philippines may decide to try “persons” of the US, as the term is understood in the Agreement, under our national criminal justice system; or it may opt not to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over its erring citizens or over US “persons” committing high crimes in the country and defer to the secondary criminal jurisdiction of the ICC over them.  In the same breath, the US must extend the same privilege to the Philippines with respect to “persons” of the RP committing high crimes within US territorial jurisdiction. By their nature, treaties and international agreements actually have a limiting effect on the otherwise encompassing and absolute nature of sovereignty.  By their voluntary act, nations may decide to surrender or waive some aspects of their state power or agree to limit the exercise of their otherwise exclusive and absolute jurisdiction.  The usual underlying consideration in this partial surrender may be the greater benefits derived from a pact or a reciprocal undertaking of one contracting party to grant the same privileges or immunities to the other.  Bayan Muna, as represented by Rep. Satur Ocampo, et al. v. Alberto Romulo, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, et al. G.R. No. 159618, February 1, 2011.

International Agreements; treaties and executive agreements. Under international law, there is no difference between treaties and executive agreements in terms of their binding effects on the contracting states concerned, as long as the negotiating functionaries have remained within their powers. However, a treaty has greater “dignity” than an executive agreement, because its constitutional efficacy is beyond doubt, a treaty having behind it the authority of the President, the Senate, and the people; a ratified treaty, unlike an executive agreement, takes precedence over any prior statutory enactment. Petitioner, in this case, argues that the Non-Surrender Agreement between the Philippines and the US is of dubious validity, partaking as it does of the nature of a treaty; hence, it must be duly concurred in by the Senate.  Petitioner relies on the case, Commissioner of Customs v. Eastern Sea Trading, in which the Court stated: international agreements involving political issues or changes of national policy and those involving international arrangements of a permanent character usually take the form of treaties; while those embodying adjustments of detail carrying out well established national policies and traditions and those involving arrangements of a more or less temporary nature  take the form of executive agreements. According to petitioner, the subject of the Agreement does not fall under any of the subject-categories that are enumerated in the Eastern Sea Trading case that may be covered by an executive agreement, such as commercial/consular relations, most-favored nation rights, patent rights, trademark and copyright protection, postal and navigation arrangements and settlement of claims. The Supreme Court held, however, that the categorization of subject matters that may be covered by international agreements mentioned in Eastern Sea Trading is not cast in stone.  There are no hard and fast rules on the propriety of entering, on a given subject, into a treaty or an executive agreement as an instrument of international relations.  The primary consideration in the choice of the form of agreement is the parties’ intent and desire to craft an international agreement in the form they so wish to further their respective interests.  The matter of form takes a back seat when it comes to effectiveness and binding effect of the enforcement of a treaty or an executive agreement, as the parties in either international agreement each labor under the pacta sunt servanda principle. Bayan Muna, as represented by Rep. Satur Ocampo, et al. v. Alberto Romulo, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, et al. G.R. No. 159618, February 1, 2011.

Judicial Review; expanded certiorari jurisdiction. Respondents raised the impropriety of the remedies of certiorari and prohibition.  They argued that public respondent (the Congress) 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, and that its function is inquisitorial that is akin to a preliminary investigation. The case of Francisco v. House of Representatives characterizes the power of judicial review as a duty which, as the expanded certiorari jurisdiction of the Supreme Court reflects, 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.” The SC found it well-within its power to determine whether Congress 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. Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez v. The House of Representatives Committee on Justice, et al. G.R. No. 193459, February 15, 2011.

Judicial Review; ripeness. An aspect of the “case-or-controversy” requirement is the requisite of ripeness.  The question of ripeness is especially relevant in light of the direct, adverse effect on an individual by the challenged conduct. In the present petition, the SC found 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 was, therefore, found not 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. Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez v. The House of Representatives Committee on Justice, et al. G.R. No. 193459, February 15, 2011.

Legal Standing; requirements. When suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way.  In fine, when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest. In this case, as citizens, petitioners’ interest in the subject matter of the petition is direct and personal.  At the very least, their assertions questioning the Non-Surrender Agreement between the Philippines and the US are made of a public right, i.e., to ascertain that the Agreement did not go against established national policies, practices, and obligations bearing on the State’s obligation to the community of nations. Bayan Muna, as represented by Rep. Satur Ocampo, et al. v. Alberto Romulo, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, et al. G.R. No. 159618, February 1, 2011.

Stare Decisis; nature. The principle of stare decisis enjoins adherence by lower courts to doctrinal rules established by the Supreme Court in its final decisions. It is based on the principle that once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument. Basically, it is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same issues, necessary for two simple reasons: economy and stability. In our jurisdiction, the principle is entrenched in Article 8 of the Civil Code. The previous case of Lubrica and the present case involve two different issues. The relief prayed for in the previous case of Lubrica is that the amount for deposit in favor of the landowner be determined on the basis of the time of payment and not of the time of taking. But in the present case, the prayer of the LBP is for the deposit of the valuation of the Land Bank of the Philippines and Department of Agrarian Reform and not that of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator. The principle of stare decisis, therefore, does not apply. Land Bank of the Philippines v. Hon. Ernesto P. Pagayatan, Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 46, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; and Josefina S. Lubrica, in her capacity as Assignee of Federico Suntay, et al., G.R. No. 177190, February 23, 2011.

Sovereign Immunity; expropriation. The doctrine of sovereign immunity cannot be successfully invoked to defeat a valid claim for compensation arising from the taking without just compensation and without the proper expropriation proceedings being first resorted to of the plaintiffs’ property. The SC cited the previous case of De los Santos v. Intermediate Appellate Court where it ruled that the doctrine of sovereign immunity was not an instrument for perpetrating any injustice on a citizen.  In exercising the right of eminent domain, the State exercised its jus imperii, as distinguished from its proprietary rights, or jus gestionis; yet, even in that area, where private property had been taken in expropriation without just compensation being paid, the defense of immunity from suit could not be set up by the State against an action for payment by the owners. Air Transportation Office v. Spouses David and Elisea Ramos, G.R. No. 159402, February 23, 2011.

Sovereign Immunity; sovereign function and proprietary function. The immunity from suit is based on the political truism that the State, as a sovereign, can do no wrong. Practical considerations dictate the establishment of immunity from suit in favor of the State. Otherwise, and the State is suable at the instance of every other individual, government service may be severely obstructed and public safety endangered because of the number of suits that the State has to defend against. An unincorporated government agency without any separate juridical personality of its own enjoys immunity from suit because it is invested with an inherent power of sovereignty. Accordingly, a claim for damages against the agency cannot prosper; otherwise, the doctrine of sovereign immunity is violated. However, the need to distinguish between an unincorporated government agency performing governmental function and one performing proprietary functions has arisen. The immunity has been upheld in favor of the former because its function is governmental or incidental to such function; it has not been upheld in favor of the latter whose function was not in pursuit of a necessary function of government but was essentially a business. In this case, the juridical character of the Air Transportation Office (“ATO”) as an agency of the Government was not performing a purely governmental or sovereign function, but was instead involved in the management and maintenance of the Loakan Airport, an activity that was not the exclusive prerogative of the State in its sovereign capacity. Hence, the ATO had no claim to the State’s immunity from suit. Air Transportation Office v. Spouses David and Elisea Ramos, G.R. No. 159402, February 23, 2011.

Supreme Court; modification of doctrines and principles. The doctrine of immutability of decisions applies only to final and executory decisions. Since the present cases may involve a modification or reversal of a Court-ordained doctrine or principle, the judgment rendered by the Special Third Division may be considered unconstitutional, hence, it can never become final. A decision rendered by a Division of the SC in violation of the constitutional provision, that only the SC En Banc may modify or reverse a SC doctrine and principle, would be in excess of jurisdiction and, therefore, invalid.  Any entry of judgment may thus be said to be “inefficacious” since the decision is void for being unconstitutional. That a judgment must become final at some definite point at the risk of occasional error cannot be appreciated in a case that embroils not only a general allegation of “occasional error” but also a serious accusation of a violation of the Constitution, viz., that doctrines or principles of law were modified or reversed by the Court’s Special Third Division August 4, 2009 Resolution. David Lu v. Paterno Lu Ym, Sr., et al./Paterno Lu Ym, Sr., et al. v. David Lu/John Lu Ym, et al. v. The Hon. Court of Appeals of Ceby City, et al. G.R. No. 153690/G.R. No. 157381/G.R. No. 170889. February 15, 2011.

Administrative Law

Administrative Proceedings; findings of fact of quasi-judicial agencies. Petitioners argue that the Commission on Audit (COA) committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in declaring the prepayment stipulation in the contract between Land Bank and Remad Livestock Corporation (REMAD) proscribed by the State Audit Code of the Philippines. The Supreme Court did not give merit to petitioner’s argument. It emphasized that the COA Auditor noted that “nowhere in the documents reviewed disclosed about prepayment scheme with REMAD. It is well settled that findings of fact of quasi-judicial agencies, such as the COA, are generally accorded respect and even finality by this Court, if supported by substantial evidence, in recognition of their expertise on the specific matters under their jurisdiction.  If the prepayment scheme was in fact authorized, petitioners should have produced the document to prove such fact as alleged by them in the present petition.  However, the Supreme Court was at a loss as to whether the prepayment scheme was authorized as its review of “Annex I,” the document to which petitioners base their authority to make advance payments, does not contain such a stipulation or provision. In addition, the Supreme Court noted that much reliance was made by petitioners on their allegation that the terms of the Credit Facility Proposal allowed for prepayments or advancement of the payments prior to the delivery of the cattle by the supplier REMAD.  It appears, however, that a CFP, even if admittedly a pro forma contract and emanating from the Land Bank main office, is merely a facility proposal and not the contract of loan between Land Bank and the cooperatives. It is in the loan contract that the parties embody the terms and conditions of a transaction. If there is any agreement to release the loan in advance to REMAD as a form of prepayment scheme, such a stipulation should exist in the loan contract. There is, nevertheless, no proof of such stipulation as petitioners had failed to attach the CFPs or the loan contracts relating to the present petition. Based on the foregoing, the COA was not faulted for finding that petitioners facilitated the commission of the irregular transaction. Ruben Reyna, et al. v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 167219, February 8, 2011.

Agrarian Law

Agrarian Reform; exclusion and exemption from coverage. The deliberations of the 1987 Constitutional Commission show a clear intent to exclude, inter alia, all lands exclusively devoted to livestock, swine and poultry-raising from the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Petitioner’s admission that, since 2001, it leased another ranch for its own livestock is fatal to its cause. The SC, in this case, accorded respect to the CA’s observation that the assailed MARO reports and the Investigating Team’s Report do not actually contradict one another, finding that the 43 cows, while owned by petitioner, were actually pastured outside the subject property. Milestone Farms, Inc. v. Office of the President, G.R. No. 182332, February 23, 2011.

Agrarian Reform; just compensation. The issue in this case is whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that RA 6657, rather than P.D. No. 27/E.O. No. 228, is the law that should apply in the determination of just compensation for the subject agricultural land. The LBP and the DAR argue that P.D. No. 27, as reaffirmed by E.O. No. 228, should be applied in determining the just compensation for the subject property of the case. They contend that P.D. No. 27 and E.O. No. 228 prescribe the formula in determining the just compensation of rice and corn lands tenanted as of October 21, 1972. As the subject property was tenanted and devoted to rice production in 1972, the just value should be fixed at the prevailing rate at that time, when the emancipation of the tenant-farmers from the bondage of the soil was declared in P.D. No. 27. As to R.A. No. 6657, both the LBP and the DAR insist that it applies only to ricelands and cornlands not tenanted as of October 21, 1972. According to them, the government’s OLT program on tenanted privately-owned rice and corn lands pursuant to P.D. No. 27 continues separately and distinctly from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) acquisition and distribution program under R.A. No. 6657. The SC held that RA 6657 is the applicable law, with PD 27 and EO 228 having only suppletory effect. This is so since the provisions of R.A. No. 6657 are also applicable to the agrarian reform process of lands placed under the coverage of P.D. No. 27/E.O. No. 228, which has not been completed upon the effectivity of R.A. No. 6657. It would certainly be inequitable to determine just compensation based on the guideline provided by PD 27 and EO 228 considering the DAR’s failure to determine the just compensation for a considerable length of time. Land Bank of the Philippines v. Magin V. Ferrer, et al./Department of Agrarian Reform, represented by Secretary Nasser C. Pangandaman v. Antonio V. Ferrer and Ramon V. Ferrer. G.R. No. 172230, February 2, 2011.

Agrarian Reform; initial valuation and just compensation. It is the initial valuation made by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Land Bank of the Philippines that must be released to the landowner in order for DAR to take possession of the property. Otherwise stated, Sec. 16 of RA 6657 does not authorize the release of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator’s determination of just compensation for the land which has not yet become final and executory. Land Bank of the Philippines v. Hon. Ernesto P. Pagayatan, Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 46, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; and Josefina S. Lubrica, in her capacity as Assignee of Federico Suntay, et al., G.R. No. 177190, February 23, 2011.

Civil Service Law

Regulations; Civil Service. Not all rules and regulations adopted by every government agency are to be filed with the UP Law Center. Only those of general or of permanent character are to be filed. Resolution No. 372 was about the new GSIS salary structure, Resolution No. 306 was about the authority to pay the 2002 Christmas Package, and Resolution No. 197 was about the GSIS merit selection and promotion plan. Clearly, the assailed resolutions pertained only to internal rules meant to regulate the personnel of the GSIS. There was no need for the publication or filing of these resolutions with the UP Law Center. The Board of Trustees of the Government Service Insurance System, et al. v. Albert M. Velasco, et al. G.R. No. 170463, February 2, 2011.

Local Government Code

Cityhood; criteria for conversion. The cases involved here 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, 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 SC En Banc, by a 6-5 vote, granted the petitions and struck down the Cityhood Laws as unconstitutional for violating Sections 10 and 6, Article X, and the equal protection clause. Then, in another Decision dated December 21, 2009, the SC En Banc, by a vote of 6-4, declared the Cityhood Laws as constitutional. Thereafter, on August 24, 2010, the Court En Banc, through a Resolution, by a vote of 7-6, reinstated the November 18, 2008 Decision.  The SC held that the Cityhood laws were constitutional. Based on the deliberations by Congress on R.A. No. 9009, 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.  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. League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al./League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al./League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al. G.R. No. 176951/G.R. No. 177499/G.R. No. 178056, February 15, 2011.

Legislative power; amendment. R.A. No. 9009 amended the LGC.  But the SC also held 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. League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al./League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al./League of Cities of the Phil. etc., et al. v. COMELEC, et al. G.R. No. 176951/G.R. No. 177499/G.R. No. 178056, February 15, 2011.

(Teng thanks Charmaine Rose K. Haw for her help in the preparation of this post.)

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