October 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected October 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Constitutional Law

Bill of Rights; Presumption of Innocence. In this case, the so-called frame-up was virtually pure allegation bereft of credible proof. The narration of the police officer who implemented the search warrant was found, after trial and appellate review, as the true story. It is on firmer ground than the self-serving statement of the accused-appellant of frame-up.  The defense cannot solely rely upon the constitutional presumption of innocence for, while it is constitutional, the presumption is not conclusive.  Notably, the accused-appellant herself stated in her brief that “no proof was proffered by the accused-appellant of the police officers’ alleged ill motive.” Stated otherwise, the narration of the incident by law enforcers, buttressed by the presumption that they have regularly performed their duties in the absence of convincing proof to the contrary, must be given weight. People of the Philippines vs. Olive Rubio Mamaril. G.R. No. 171980, October 6, 2010.

Bill of Rights; Probable Cause. There is no general formula or fixed rule for the determination of probable cause since the same must be decided in light of the conditions obtaining in given situations and its existence depends to a large degree upon the findings or opinion of the judge conducting the examination. It is presumed that a judicial function has been regularly performed, absent a showing to the contrary. The defense’s reliance of the quoted testimony of the police officer alone, without any other evidence to show that there was indeed lack of personal knowledge, is insufficient to overturn the finding of the trial court.  The accused-appellant, having failed to present substantial rebuttal evidence to defeat the presumption of regularity of duty of the issuing judge, cannot not be sustained by the Court. People of the Philippines vs. Olive Rubio Mamaril. G.R. No. 171980, October 6, 2010.

Constitutionality; Actual Controversy; Standing to Sue.  The power of judicial review can only be exercised in connection with a bona fide controversy involving a statute, its implementation or a government action.  Without such controversy, courts will decline to pass upon constitutional issues through advisory opinions, bereft as they are of authority to resolve hypothetical or moot questions.  The limitation on the power of judicial review to actual cases and controversies defines the role assigned to the judiciary in a tripartite allocation of power, to assure that the courts will not intrude into areas committed to the other branches of government.  But even with the presence of an actual case or controversy, the Court may refuse judicial review unless the constitutional question or the assailed illegal government act is brought before it by a party who possesses locus standi or the standing to challenge it.  To have standing, one must establish that he has a “personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement.”  Particularly, he must show that (1) he has suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and (3) the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable action.

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March 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected March 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law:

Constitutional Law

Constitutionality; justiciable controversy. Courts will not assume jurisdiction over a constitutional question unless the following requisites are satisfied: (1) there must be an actual case calling for the exercise of judicial review; (2) the question before the court must be ripe for adjudication; (3) the person challenging the validity of the act must have standing to do so; (4) the question of constitutionality must have been raised at the earliest opportunity and (5) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.

Respondents aver that the first three requisites are absent in this case. According to them, there is no actual case calling for the exercise of judicial power and it is not yet ripe for adjudication.

An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal rights or an assertion of opposite legal claims which is susceptible of judicial resolution as distinguished from a hypothetical or abstract difference or dispute. On the other hand, a question is considered ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it.

Contrary to respondents’ assertion, we do not have to wait until petitioner’s members have shut down their operations as a result of the MCIT or CWT. The assailed provisions are already being implemented. As we stated in Didipio Earth-Savers’ Multi-Purpose Association, Incorporated (DESAMA) v. Gozun: “By the mere enactment of the questioned law or the approval of the challenged act, the dispute is said to have ripened into a judicial controversy even without any other overt act. Indeed, even a singular violation of the Constitution and/or the law is enough to awaken judicial duty.”

If the assailed provisions are indeed unconstitutional, there is no better time than the present to settle such question once and for all.  Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, Inc. Vs. The Hon. Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, et al., G.R. No. 160756, March 9, 2010.

Constitutionality; justiciable controversy. We hold that the petitions set forth an actual case or controversy that is ripe for judicial determination. The reality is that the JBC already commenced the proceedings for the selection of the nominees to be included in a short list to be submitted to the President for consideration of which of them will succeed Chief Justice Puno as the next Chief Justice. Although the position is not yet vacant, the fact that the JBC began the process of nomination pursuant to its rules and practices, although it has yet to decide whether to submit the list of nominees to the incumbent outgoing President or to the next President, makes the situation ripe for judicial determination, because the next steps are the public interview of the candidates, the preparation of the short list of candidates, and the “interview of constitutional experts, as may be needed.”

A part of the question to be reviewed by the Court is whether the JBC properly initiated the process, there being an insistence from some of the oppositors-intervenors that the JBC could only do so once the vacancy has occurred (that is, after May 17, 2010). Another part is, of course, whether the JBC may resume its process until the short list is prepared, in view of the provision of Section 4(1), Article VIII, which unqualifiedly requires the President to appoint one from the short list to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court (be it the Chief Justice or an Associate Justice) within 90 days from the occurrence of the vacancy.

The ripeness of the controversy for judicial determination may not be doubted. The challenges to the authority of the JBC to open the process of nomination and to continue the process until the submission of the list of nominees; the insistence of some of the petitioners to compel the JBC through mandamus to submit the short list to the incumbent President; the counter-insistence of the intervenors to prohibit the JBC from submitting the short list to the incumbent President on the ground that said list should be submitted instead to the next President; the strong position that the incumbent President is already prohibited under Section 15, Article VII from making any appointments, including those to the Judiciary, starting on May 10, 2010 until June 30, 2010; and the contrary position that the incumbent President is not so prohibited are only some of the real issues for determination. All such issues establish the ripeness of the controversy, considering that for some the short list must be submitted before the vacancy actually occurs by May 17, 2010. The outcome will not be an abstraction, or a merely hypothetical exercise. The resolution of the controversy will surely settle – with finality – the nagging questions that are preventing the JBC from moving on with the process that it already began, or that are reasons persuading the JBC to desist from the rest of the process.   Arturo M. De Castro vs. Judicial and Bar Council, et al., G.R. No. 191002, G.R. No. 191032, G.R. No. 191057, A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC, G.R. No. 191149, G.R. No. 191342, March 17, 2010.

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April 2009 Decisions on Commercial, Labor and Tax Laws

Here are selected April 2009 decisions of the Supreme Court on commercial, labor and tax laws:

Commercial Law

BOT;  public bidding. In a situation where there is no other competitive bid submitted for the BOT project, that project would be awarded to the original proponent thereof.  However, when there are competitive bids submitted, the original proponent must be able to match the most advantageous or lowest bid; only when it is able to do so will the original proponent enjoy the preferential right to the award of the project over the other bidder.  These are the general circumstances covered by Section 4-A of Republic Act No. 6957, as amended. In the instant case, AEDC may be the original proponent of the NAIA IPT III Project; however, the Pre-Qualification Bids and Awards Committee (PBAC) also found the People’s Air Cargo & Warehousing Co., Inc. Consortium (Paircargo), the predecessor of PIATCO, to be a qualified bidder for the project.  Upon consideration of the bid of Paircargo/PIATCO, the PBAC found the same to be far more advantageous than the original offer of AEDC.  It is already an established fact in Agan that AEDC failed to match the more advantageous proposal submitted by PIATCO by the time the 30-day working period expired on 28 November 1996; and since it did not exercise its right to match the most advantageous proposal within the prescribed period, it cannot assert its right to be awarded the project. Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp. vs. DOTC, et al./Republic of the Philippines etc. et al. vs. Hon. CA, et al., G.R. No. 169914/G.R. No. 174166,  April 7, 2009.

Dividends. Dividends are payable to the stockholders of record as of the date of the declaration of dividends or holders of record on a certain future date, as the case may be, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. A transfer of shares which is not recorded in the books of the corporation is valid only as between the parties; hence, the transferor has the right to dividends as against the corporation without notice of transfer but it serves as trustee of the real owner of the dividends, subject to the contract between the transferor and transferee as to who is entitled to receive the dividends. Imelda O. Cojuangco, Prime Holdings, Inc., and the Estate of Ramon U. Cojuangco vs. Sandiganbayan, Republic of the Philippines and the Sheriff of Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 183278, April 24, 2009.

Holdover. As a general rule, officers and directors of a corporation hold over after the expiration of their terms until such time as their successors are elected or appointed. Sec. 23 of the Corporation Code contains a provision to this effect. The holdover doctrine has, to be sure, a purpose which is at once legal as it is practical. It accords validity to what would otherwise be deemed as dubious corporate acts and gives continuity to a corporate enterprise in its relation to outsiders.

Authorities are almost unanimous that one who continues with the discharge of the functions of an office after the expiration of his or her legal term––no successor having, in the meantime, been appointed or chosen––is commonly regarded as a de factoofficer, even where no provision is made by law for his holding over and there is nothing to indicate the contrary. By fiction of law, the acts of such de facto officer are considered valid and effective. Dr. Hans Christian M. Señeres vs. Commission on Elections and Melquiades A. Robles, G.R. No. 178678, April 16, 2009.

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March 2009 Decisions on Constitutional and Related Laws

Here are selected March 2009 decisions on constitutional and related laws:

Administrative Law

Bidding. During the preliminary examination stage, the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) checks whether all the required documents were submitted by the eligible bidders. Note should be taken of the fact that the technical specifications of the product bidded out is among the documentary requirements evaluated by the BAC during the preliminary examination stage. At this point, therefore, the BAC should have already discovered that the technical specifications of Audio Visual’s document camera differed from the bid specifications in at least three (3) respects, namely: the 15 frames/second frame rate, the weight specification, and the power supply requirement. Using the non-discretionary criteria laid out in R.A. No. 9184 and IRR-A, therefore, the BAC should have rated Audio Visual’s bid as “failed” instead of “passed.” Commission on Audit, etc. vs. Link Worth International Inc., G.R. No. 184173, March 13, 2009.

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