September 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

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

Constitutional Law

Constitutionality; Presidential Proclamation 310; inalienable lands.  The Court declared as unconstitutional Presidential Proclamation 310, which took 670 hectares from petitioner’s registered lands for distribution to indigenous peoples and cultural communities, on the basis that such lands are inalienable, being part of the functions of an educational institution.  It did not matter that it was President Arroyo who, in this case, attempted by proclamation to appropriate the lands for distribution to indigenous peoples and cultural communities.  The lands by their character have become inalienable from the moment President Garcia dedicated them for petitioner’s use in scientific and technological research in the field of agriculture.  They have ceased to be alienable public lands.  Central Mindanao University, etc. vs. The Hon. Executive Secretary, et al. G.R. No. 184869, September 21, 2010.

Constitutionality; Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000.  The Court dismissed petitioners’ argument that Republic Act No. 8762, known as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 200, violates the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the State to develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos.  The provisions of Article II of the 1987 Constitution, the declarations of principles and state policies, are not self-executing.  Legislative failure to pursue such policies cannot give rise to a cause of action in the courts.  Further, while Section 19, Article II of the 1987 Constitution requires the development of a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipino entrepreneurs, it does not impose a policy of Filipino monopoly of the economic environment.  The objective is simply to prohibit foreign powers or interests from maneuvering our economic policies and ensure that Filipinos are given preference in all areas of development.  The 1987 Constitution takes into account the realities of the outside world as it requires the pursuit of a trade policy that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms and arrangements of exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity; and speaks of industries which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets as well as of the protection of Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign competition and trade practices.  Thus, while the Constitution mandates a bias in favor of Filipino goods, services, labor and enterprises, it also recognizes the need for business exchange with the rest of the world on the bases of equality and reciprocity and limits protection of Filipino enterprises only against foreign competition and trade practices that are unfair.  In other words, the 1987 Constitution does not rule out the entry of foreign investments, goods, and services. While it does not encourage their unlimited entry into the country, it does not prohibit them either.  In fact, it allows an exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity, frowning only on foreign competition that is unfair. The key, as in all economies in the world, is to strike a balance between protecting local businesses and allowing the entry of foreign investments and services.  More important, Section 10, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution gives Congress the discretion to reserve to Filipinos certain areas of investments upon the recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority and when the national interest requires.  Thus, Congress can determine what policy to pass and when to pass it depending on the economic exigencies.  It can enact laws allowing the entry of foreigners into certain industries not reserved by the Constitution to Filipino citizens.  In this case, Congress has decided to open certain areas of the retail trade business to foreign investments instead of reserving them exclusively to Filipino citizens.

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July 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

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

Agrarian reform; coverage.  Lands that are not directly, actually and exclusively used for pasture nor devoted to commercial livestock raising are not excluded from the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.  A.Z. Arnaiz Realty, Inc. vs. Office of the President. G.R. No. 170623, July 7, 2010.

Certificate of candidacy; residency requirement.  The Omnibus Election Code provides that a certificate of candidacy may be denied due course or cancelled if there is any false representation of a material fact.  The critical material facts are those that refer to a candidate’s qualifications for elective office, such as his or her citizenship and residence.  The false representation must be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. Given the purpose of the requirement, it must be made with the intention to deceive the electorate as to the would-be candidate’s qualifications for public office.  Thus, the misrepresentation cannot be the result of a mere innocuous mistake, and cannot exist in a situation where the intent to deceive is patently absent, or where no deception on the electorate results. The foregoing are the legal standards by which the COMELEC must act on a petition to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy.  Thus, in considering the residency of a candidate as stated in the certificate of candidacy, the COMELEC must determine whether or not the candidate deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform or hide a fact about his or her residency that would otherwise render him or her ineligible for the position sought.  The COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in this case when, in considering the residency issue, it based its decision solely on very personal and subjective assessment standards, such as the nature or design and furnishings of the dwelling place in relation to the stature of the candidate.  Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra vs. Commission on Elections, et al. G.R. No. 191938, July 2, 2010.

Citizenship; election and constructive registration. The statutory formalities of electing Philippine citizenship are the following: (1) a statement of election under oath; (2) an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and Government of the Philippines; and (3) registration of the statement of election and of the oath with the nearest civil registry.  Here, petitioners complied with the first and second requirements upon reaching the age of majority.  However, registration of the documents of election with the civil registry was done belatedly.  Under the facts peculiar to the petitioners, the right to elect Philippine citizenship has not been lost and they should be allowed to complete the statutory requirements for such election.  Their exercise of suffrage, being elected to public office, continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, and other similar acts showing exercise of Philippine citizenship do not on their own take the place of election of citizenship.  But where, as here, the election of citizenship has in fact been done and documented within the constitutional and statutory timeframe, registration of the documents of election beyond the timeframe should be allowed if in the meanwhile positive acts of citizenship have been done publicly, consistently and continuously.  These acts constitute constructive registration.  In other words, the actual exercise of Philippine citizenship for over half a century by the petitioners is actual notice to the Philippine public, which is equivalent to formal registration of the election of Philippine citizenship.  It is not the registration of the act of election, although a valid requirement under Commonwealth Act No. 625, that will confer Philippine citizenship on the petitioners.  It is only a means of confirming the fact that citizenship has been claimed.  Having a Filipino mother is permanent.  It is the basis of the right of the petitioners to elect Philippine citizenship.  Petitioners elected Philippine citizenship in form and substance.  The failure to register the election in the civil registry should not defeat that election and negate the permanent fact that petitioners have a Filipino mother.  The lacking requirements may still be complied with subject to the imposition of appropriate administrative penalties, if any.  The documents petitioners submitted supporting their allegations that they have registered with the civil registry, although belatedly, should be examined for validation purposes by the appropriate agency, in this case the Bureau of Immigration.  Other requirements embodied in the administrative orders and other issuances of the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Justice must be complied with within a reasonable time.  Balgamelo Cabiling Ma, et al. vs. Commissioner Alipio F. Fernandez, Jr., et al. G.R. No. 183133, July 26, 2010.

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December 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected December 2009 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law and related laws:

Constitutional Law

Bill of rights;  eminent domain.  Expropriation is not limited to the acquisition of real property with a corresponding transfer of title or possession. The right-of-way easement resulting in a restriction or limitation on property rights over the land traversed by transmission lines also falls within the ambit of the term expropriation.  National Power Corporation vs. Hon. Amer Ibrahim, etc., et al., G.R. No. 183297, December 23, 2009.

Bill of Rights; eminent domain. In computing for the value of the land subject to acquisition, the formula provided in DAO No. 6, Series of 1992, as amended, requires that figures pertaining to the Capitalized Net Income (CNI) and Market Value (MV) of the property be used as inputs in arriving at the correct land valuation. Thus, the applicable formula, as correctly used by the LBP in its valuation, is LV (Land Value) = (CNI x 0.9) + (MV x 0.1).

To arrive at the figure for the CNI of lands planted to a combination of crops, Item II B.5 of the said administrative order provides that the same should be computed based on the combination of actual crops produced on the covered land.  Land Bank of the Philippines vs. Kumassie Plantation Company Incorporated/Kumassie Plantation Company Incorporated vs. Land Bank of the Philippines, et al.  G.R. No. 177404/G.R. No. 178097. December 4, 2009.

Bill of rights; eminent domain; interest. The taking of property under CARL is an exercise by the State of the power of eminent domain. A basic limitation on the State’s power of eminent domain is the constitutional directive that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. Just compensation refers to the sum equivalent to the market value of the property, broadly described to be the price fixed by the seller in open market in the usual and ordinary course of legal action and competition, or the fair value of the property as between one who receives and one who desires to sell. It is fixed at the time of the actual taking by the State. Thus, if property is taken for public use before compensation is deposited with the court having jurisdiction over the case, the final compensation must include interests on its just value, to be computed from the time the property is taken up to the time when compensation is actually paid or deposited with the court.  National Power Corporation vs. Hon. Amer Ibrahim, etc., et al., G.R. No. 183297, December 23, 2009.

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July 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected July 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on political law:

Constitutional Law

Double positions. The office of the Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross is not a government office or an office in a government-owned or controlled corporation for purposes of the prohibition in Section 13, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, which provides: “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.”  Dante Liban, et al. vs. Richard J. Gordon, G.R. No. 175352, July 15, 2009.

Illegal search. Even assuming that petitioner or any lawful occupant of the house was not present when the search was conducted, the search was done in the presence of at least two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality. Manalo was the barangay chairman of the place while Velasco was petitioner’s employee. Petitioner herself signed the certification of orderly search when she arrived at her residence. Clearly, the requirements of Section 8, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court were complied with by the police authorities who conducted the search. Further, petitioner failed to substantiate her allegation that she was just forced to sign the search warrant, inventory receipt, and the certificate of orderly search. In fact, the records show that she signed these documents together with three other persons, including the barangay chairman who could have duly noted if petitioner was really forced to sign the documents against her will.

Articles which are the product of unreasonable searches and seizures are inadmissible as evidence pursuant to Article III, Section 3(2) of the Constitution. However, in this case, the Supreme Court sustained the validity of the search conducted in petitioner’s residence and, thus, the articles seized during the search are admissible in evidence against petitioner.  Rosario Panuncio  vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 165678, July 17, 2009.

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