June 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

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

Constitutional Law

Commission on Audit; jurisdiction over Boy Scouts.  The issue was whether or not the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (“BSP”) fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit.  The BSP contends that it is not a government-owned or controlled corporation; neither is it an instrumentality, agency, or subdivision of the government.  The Supreme Court, however, held that not all corporations, which are not government owned or controlled, are ipso facto to be considered private corporations as there exists another distinct class of corporations or chartered institutions which are otherwise known as “public corporations.” These corporations are treated by law as agencies or instrumentalities of the government which are not subject to the tests of ownership or control and economic viability but to a different criteria relating to their public purposes/interests or constitutional policies and objectives and their administrative relationship to the government or any of its departments or offices.  As presently constituted, the BSP is a public corporation created by law for a public purpose, attached to the Department of Education Culture and Sports pursuant to its Charter and the Administrative Code of 1987.  It is not a private corporation which is required to be owned or controlled by the government and be economically viable to justify its existence under a special law.     The economic viability test would only apply if the corporation is engaged in some economic activity or business function for the government, which is not the case for BSP.  Therefore, being a public corporation, the funds of the BSP fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit.  Boy Scouts of the Philippines vs. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 177131. June 7, 2011.

Local governments; principle of local autonomy.  The claim of petitioners in this case that the subject proclamation and administrative orders violate the principle of local autonomy is anchored on the allegation that, through them, the President authorized the DILG Secretary to take over the operations of the ARMM and assume direct governmental powers over the region.  The Supreme Court held that in the first place, the DILG Secretary did not take over control of the powers of the ARMM.  The SC observed that after law enforcement agents took respondent Governor of ARMM into custody for alleged complicity in the Maguindanao massacre, the ARMM Vice-Governor, petitioner Ansaruddin Adiong, assumed the vacated post on December 10, 2009 pursuant to the rule on succession found in Article VII, Section 12, of RA 9054.  In turn, Acting Governor Adiong named the then Speaker of the ARMM Regional Assembly, petitioner Sahali-Generale, Acting ARMM Vice-Governor.  In short, the DILG Secretary did not take over the administration or operations of the ARMM.  Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, et al. v. Hon. Ronaldo Puno, et al., G.R. No. 190259. June 7, 2011.

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