Category Archives: Constitutional Law

Bishop Roderick S. Pabillo et al., v. Commission on Elections En Banc, G.R. No. 216098, 21 April 2015

Constitutional Law; Requisites for Judicial Review; Public Interest Exception – Indeed, the conduct of the upcoming 2016 Elections is dependent on the functional state of the existing PCOS machines purchased by the COMELEC. PCOS means “a technology wherein an optical ballot scanner, into which optical scan paper ballots marked by hand by the voter are inserted to be counted, is located in every precinct.” As the AES’s groundwork mechanism, it is imperative that the PCOS machines, come election day, are of optimal utility. Following the CAC’s recommendation to re-use the existing technology for the said elections, the COMELEC proceeded to procure services for the repair and refurbishment  of the PCOS machines. The COMELEC, however, through its Resolution No. 9922, decided to pursue a direct contracting arrangement with Smartmatic-TIM, which has now resulted in the execution of the Extended Warranty Contract (Program 1). Petitioners assail the validity of the foregoing courses of action mainly for violating the GPRA. Thus, if only to ensure that the upcoming elections is not mired with illegality at this basic, initial front, this Court, pursuant to its unyielding duty as final arbiter of the laws, deems it proper to thresh out the above-stated substantive issues, reasonably unfettered by the rigors of procedure.

Administrative Law; Government Procurement; Alternative Procurement Methods; Requisites – [T]he Manual of Procedures for the Procurement of Goods and Services of the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB Manual) explains that the GPRA allows the use of alternative methods of procurement in some exceptional instances, provided: (a) there is prior approval of the Head of the Procuring Entity on the use of alternative methods of procurement, as recommended by the BAC; and (b) the conditions required by law for the use of alternative methods are present. As additional requisites, (c) the Procuring Entity must ensure that the method chosen promotes economy and efficiency, and (d) that the most advantageous price for the government is obtained.

Words and Phrases; Proprietary Nature – Goods are considered to be of “proprietary nature” when they are owned by a person who has a protectable interest in them or an interest protected by intellectual property laws.

Administrative Law; Government Procurement; Services for Repair and Refurbishment Are Covered By Public Bidding Requirement – However, it is at once apparent that the “goods” subject of these cases neither pertain to the PCOS machines nor the software program aforementioned, but rather to the services for the machines’ repair and refurbishment, which in itself constitutes a distinct contract object that is susceptible to government procurement through competitive public bidding. As defined in Section 5 (h), Article I of the GPRA, “services such as the repair and maintenance of equipment” are included within the ambit of the term “goods” as applied within the context of the procurement law.

Intellectual Property Law; Scope of License to Use – At any rate, even if it is assumed that Smartmatic-TIM is the proprietary source of the services or that the intended repair and refurbishment would necessarily entail a modification of the PCOS hardware and software of which its existing intellectual property rights cover, the COMELEC is still not bound to engage Smartmatic-TIM on an exclusive basis. Based on the 2009 AES Contract, Smartmatic-TIM would grant the COMELEC a perpetual, but non-exclusive license to use, modify, and customize the PCOS systems and software, including the right to alter and modify the source code itself, for all future elections, when the latter exercises its option to purchase (which it eventually did), with certain limitations as hereunder stated:

XXX

Indeed, the license granted is but a natural incident of the COMELEC’s exercise of the OTP, by which it had acquired ownership over the PCOS machines; hence, the COMELEC should already be able to freely exploit them for the purpose that they were purchased. The only limitations, as may be above-gleaned, are on their commercialization as such would be clearly foreign to the contract’s objective. It would be both absurd and unfair if the COMELEC’s ability to effectively operate the machines would remain solely dependent on Smartmatic-TIM notwithstanding its acquired ownership over the same. While the intellectual property rights of Smartmatic-TIM were acknowledged by the COMELEC, by no means was it precluded – as it should not be precluded – from the complete utilization of the machines as long as it advances election-related purposes: XXX

Full text here.

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Land Bank of the Philippines v. Lajom, G.R. No. 184982, 20 August 2014

Constitutional Law; Agrarian Reform; Just Compensation; Time of Taking – Just compensation must be valued at the time of the taking, or the “time when the landowner was deprived of the use and benefit of his property” which, in this case, is reckoned from the date of the issuance of the emancipation patents. Hence, the valuation of the subject portion must be based on evidence showing the values prevalent on such time of taking for like agricultural lands

Constitutional Law; Agrarian Reform; Just Compensation; Award of Interest; Prospectivity of Nacar Ruling – With respect to the commonly raised issue on interest, the RTC may impose the same on the just compensation award as may be justified by the circumstances of the case and in accordance with prevailing jurisprudence. The Court has previously allowed the grant of legal interest in expropriation cases where there was delay in the payment of just compensation, deeming the same to bean effective forbearance on the part of the State. To clarify, this incremental interest is not granted on the computed just compensation; rather, it is a penaltyimposed for damages incurred by the landowner due tothe delay in its payment. Thus, legal interest shall be pegged at the rate of 12% p.a. from the time of taking until June 30, 2013. Thereafter, or beginning July 1, 2013, until fully paid, just compensation shall earn interest at the new legal rate of 6% p.a., conformably with the modification on the rules respecting interest rates introduced by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board Circular No. 799, Series of 2013.

Full text here.

MA. CAROLINA P. ARAULLO ET AL. v. BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III ET AL., G.R. NO. 209287, July 1, 2014

In a Decision dated July 1, 2014, the Supreme Court partially granted the consolidated petitions for certiorari and prohibition and declared the following acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), National Budget Circular No. 541 and related executive issuances unconstitutional for violating Section 25(5), Article  VI of the 1987 Constitution and the doctrine of separation of powers, namely:

(a) The withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Acts;

(b) The cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the Executive; and

(c) The funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the General Appropriations Acts.

The Court further declared void the use of unprogrammed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for non-compliance with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Acts (GAAs).

Remedial law; Certiorari and prohibition. The remedies of certiorari and prohibition are necessarily broader in scope and reach, and the writ of certiorari or prohibition may be issued to correct errors of jurisdiction committed not only by a tribunal, corporation, board or officer exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions but also to set right, undo and restrain any act of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction by any branch or instrumentality of the Government, even if the latter does not exercise judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions. Thus, petitions for certiorari and prohibition are appropriate remedies to raise constitutional issues and to review and/or prohibit or nullify the acts of legislative and executive officials.

Remedial law; Locus standi. Citing De Castro v. Judicial and Bar Council, the Supreme Court ruled that the assertion of a public right as a predicate for challenging a supposedly illegal or unconstitutional executive or legislative action rests on the theory that the petitioner represents the public in general. Although such petitioner may not be as adversely affected by the action complained against as are others, it is enough that he sufficiently demonstrates in his petition that he is entitled to protection or relief from the Court in the vindication of a public right. The Court likewise cited Agan, Jr. v. Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc., to explain that “[s]tanding is a peculiar concept in constitutional law because in some cases, suits are not brought by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or any other government act but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest.”

Transcendental importance as a ground to waive locus standi. Each of the petitioners has established sufficient interest in the outcome of the controversy as to confer locus standi on each of them. In addition, considering that the issues center on the extent of the power of the Chief Executive to disburse and allocate public funds, whether appropriated by Congress or not, these cases pose issues that are of transcendental importance to the entire Nation, the petitioners included. As such, the determination of such important issues call for the Court’s exercise of its broad and wise discretion “to waive the requirement and so remove the impediment to its addressing and resolving the serious constitutional questions raised.”

Administrative law; Budget process; Implementation and funding of the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP). Four phases comprise the Philippine budget process, specifically: (1) Budget Preparation; (2) Budget Legislation; (3) Budget Execution; and (4) Accountability.

The DAP was to be implemented and funded (1) by declaring “savings” coming from the various departments and agencies derived from pooling unobligated allotments and withdrawing unreleased appropriations; (2) releasing unprogrammed funds; and (3) applying the “savings” and unprogrammed funds to augment existing [program, activity or project] or to support other priority PAPs.

Administrative law; Nature of the DAP. The DAP was a government policy or strategy designed to stimulate the economy through accelerated spending. In the context of the DAP’s adoption and implementation being a function pertaining to the Executive as the main actor during the Budget Execution Stage under its constitutional mandate to faithfully execute the laws, including the GAAs, Congress did not need to legislate to adopt or to implement the DAP.

Constitutional law; The DAP is not an appropriation measure and does not contravene Section 29(1), Article VI. The President, in keeping with his duty to faithfully execute the laws, had sufficient discretion during the execution of the budget to adapt the budget to changes in the country’s economic situation. He could adopt a plan like the DAP for the purpose. He could pool the savings and identify the PAPs to be funded under the DAP. The pooling of savings pursuant to the DAP, and the identification of the PAPs to be funded under the DAP did not involve appropriation in the strict sense because the money had been already set apart from the public treasury by Congress through the GAAs. In such actions, the Executive did not usurp the power vested in Congress under Section 29(1), Article VI of the Constitution [that no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law].

Requisites of a valid transfer of appropriated funds under Section 25(5), Article VI. The transfer of appropriated funds, to be valid under Section 25(5), [Article VI of the Constitution], must be made upon a concurrence of the following requisites, namely: (1) There is a law authorizing the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of the Constitutional Commissions to transfer funds within their respective offices; (2) The funds to be transferred are savings generated from the appropriations for their respective offices; and (3) The purpose of the transfer is to augment an item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices.

It is then indubitable that the power to augment was to be used only when the purpose for which the funds had been allocated were already satisfied, or the need for such funds had ceased to exist, for only then could savings be properly realized. This interpretation prevents the Executive from unduly transgressing Congress’ power of the purse.

Savings, defined. The definition of “savings” under the 2011, 2012 and 2013 GAAs refer to portions or balances of any programmed appropriation in this Act free from any obligation or encumbrance which are: (i) still available after the completion or final discontinuance or abandonment of the work, activity or purpose for which the appropriation is authorized; (ii) from appropriations balances arising from unpaid compensation and related costs pertaining to vacant positions and leaves of absence without pay; and (iii) from appropriations balances realized from the implementation of measures resulting in improved systems and efficiencies and thus enabled agencies to meet and deliver the required or planned targets.

The Court agreed with petitioners that respondents were forcing the generation of savings in order to have a larger fund available for discretionary spending. Respondents, by withdrawing unobligated allotments in the middle of the fiscal year, in effect deprived funding for PAPs with existing appropriations under the GAAs.

The mandate of Section 28, Chapter IV, Book VI of the Administrative Code is to revert to the General Fund balances of appropriations that remained unexpended at the end of the fiscal year. The Executive could not circumvent this provision by declaring unreleased appropriations and unobligated allotments as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year.

Augmentation is valid only when funding is deficient. The GAAs for 2011, 2012 and 2013 set as a condition for augmentation that the appropriation for the PAP item to be augmented must be deficient, to wit: – x x x Augmentation implies the existence in this Act of a program, activity, or project with an appropriation, which upon implementation, or subsequent evaluation of needed resources, is determined to be deficient. In no case shall a non-existent program, activity, or project, be funded by augmentation from savings or by the use of appropriations otherwise authorized in this Act.

The President cannot substitute his own will for that of Congress. The Court held that the “savings” pooled under the DAP were allocated to PAPs that were not covered by any appropriations in the pertinent GAAs. Although the [Office of the Solicitor General] rightly contends that the Executive was authorized to spend in line with its mandate to faithfully execute the laws (which included the GAAs), such authority did not translate to unfettered discretion that allowed the President to substitute his own will for that of Congress. He was still required to remain faithful to the provisions of the GAAs, given that his power to spend pursuant to the GAAs was but a delegation to him from Congress. Verily, the power to spend the public wealth resided in Congress, not in the Executive. Moreover, leaving the spending power of the Executive unrestricted would threaten to undo the principle of separation of powers.

Cross-border transfers or augmentations are prohibited. By providing that the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Heads of the Constitutional Commissions may be authorized to augment any item in the GAA “for their respective offices,” Section 25(5) has delineated borders between their offices, such that funds appropriated for one office are prohibited from crossing over to another office even in the guise of augmentation of a deficient item or items. Thus, we call such transfers of funds cross-border transfers or cross-border augmentations.

Regardless of the variant characterizations of the cross-border transfers of funds, the plain text of Section 25(5) disallowing cross-border transfers was disobeyed. Cross-border transfers, whether as augmentation, or as aid, are prohibited under Section 25(5).

No violation of equal protection. Petitioners claim that the Executive discriminated against some legislators on the ground alone of their receiving less than the others could not of itself warrant a finding of contravention of the Equal Protection Clause. The denial of equal protection of any law should be an issue to be raised only by parties who supposedly suffer it, and, in these cases, such parties would be the few legislators claimed to have been discriminated against in the releases of funds under the DAP. The reason for the requirement is that only such affected legislators could properly and fully bring to the fore when and how the denial of equal protection occurred, and explain why there was a denial in their situation. The requirement was not met here.

Operative fact doctrine. The doctrine of operative fact recognizes the existence of the law or executive act prior to the determination of its unconstitutionality as an operative fact that produced consequences that cannot always be erased, ignored or disregarded. In short, it nullifies the void law or executive act but sustains its effects.  It provides an exception to the general rule that a void or unconstitutional law produces no effect. But its use must be subjected to great scrutiny and circumspection, and it cannot be invoked to validate an unconstitutional law or executive act, but is resorted to only as a matter of equity and fair play. It applies only to cases where extraordinary circumstances exist, and only when the extraordinary circumstances have met the stringent conditions that will permit its application.

The operative fact doctrine applies to the implementation of the DAP. To declare the implementation of the DAP unconstitutional without recognizing that its prior implementation constituted an operative fact that produced consequences in the real as well as juristic worlds of the Government and the Nation is to be impractical and unfair. Unless the doctrine is held to apply, the Executive as the disburser and the offices under it and elsewhere as the recipients could be required to undo everything that they had implemented in good faith under the DAP. That scenario would be enormously burdensome for the Government. Equity alleviates such burden.

Full text here.

 

 

 

JOSE JESUS M. DISINI, JR., ET AL. v. THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, ET AL., G.R. No. 203335, FEBRUARY 18, 2014

Constitutional law; Unsolicited commercial communications, also known as “spam” is entitled to protection under freedom of expression.  To prohibit the transmission of unsolicited ads would deny a person the right to read his emails, even unsolicited commercial ads addressed to him.  Commercial speech is a separate category of speech which is not accorded the same level of protection as that given to other constitutionally guaranteed forms of expression but is nonetheless entitled to protection. The State cannot rob him of this right without violating the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.  Unsolicited advertisements are legitimate forms of expression.

Criminal law; Cyberlibel under Section 4(c)(4) of the Cybercrime Law is constitutional.  The Court agrees with the Solicitor General that libel is not a constitutionally protected speech and that the government has an obligation to protect private individuals from defamation.  Indeed, cyberlibel is actually not a new crime since Article 353, in relation to Article 355 of the Penal Code, already punishes it.  In effect, Section 4(c)(4) above merely affirms that online defamation constitutes “similar means” for committing libel. But the Court’s acquiescence goes only insofar as the cybercrime law penalizes the author of the libelous statement or article.  Cyberlibel brings with it certain intricacies, unheard of when the Penal Code provisions on libel were enacted.  The culture associated with internet media is distinct from that of print.

Criminal law; Section 5 of the Cybercrime Law that punishes “aiding or abetting” libel on the cyberspace is a nullity. The terms “aiding or abetting” constitute broad sweep that generates chilling effect on those who express themselves through cyberspace posts, comments, and other messages. Its vagueness raises apprehension on the part of internet users because of its obvious chilling effect on the freedom of expression, especially since the crime of aiding or abetting ensnares all the actors in the cyberspace front in a fuzzy way.  What is more, as the petitioners point out, formal crimes such as libel are not punishable unless consummated. In the absence of legislation tracing the interaction of netizens and their level of responsibility such as in other countries, Section 5, in relation to Section 4(c)(4) on Libel, Section 4(c)(3) on Unsolicited Commercial Communications, and Section 4(c)(2) on Child Pornography, cannot stand scrutiny.

Full text here.

GRECO ANTONIOUS BEDA B. BELGICA et al. v. HON. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA JR. et al., G.R. No. 208566, November 19, 2013

Constitutional Law; Validity of the pork barrel system. The Court defines the Pork Barrel System as the collective body of rules and practices that govern the manner by which lump-sum, discretionary funds, primarily intended for local projects, are utilized through the respective participations of the Legislative and Executive branches of government, including its members. The Pork Barrel System involves two (2) kinds of lump-sum discretionary funds: the Congressional Pork Barrel and the Presidential Pork Barrel.

Congressional pork barrel; Separation of powers. Post-enactment measures which govern the areas of project identification, fund release and fund realignment are not related to functions of congressional oversight and, hence, allow legislators to intervene and/or assume duties that properly belong to the sphere of budget execution. Indeed, by virtue of the foregoing, legislators have been, in one form or another, authorized to participate in — as Guingona, Jr. puts it — the various operational aspects of budgeting, including the evaluation of work and financial plans for individual activities and the regulation and release of funds in violation of the separation of powers principle. The fundamental rule, as categorically articulated in Abakada, cannot be overstated — from the moment the law becomes effective, any provision of law that empowers Congress or any of its members to play any role in the implementation or enforcement of the law violates the principle of separation of powers and is thus unconstitutional. That the said authority is treated as merely recommendatory in nature does not alter its unconstitutional tenor since the prohibition, to repeat, covers any role in the implementation or enforcement of the law. Towards this end, the Court must therefore abandon its ruling in Philconsa which sanctioned the conduct of legislator identification on the guise that the same is merely recommendatory and, as such, respondents‘ reliance on the same falters altogether.

Congressional pork barrel; Non-delegability of Legislative Power. The Court observes that the 2013 PDAF Article, insofar as it confers post-enactment identification authority to individual legislators, violates the principle of non-delegability since said legislators are effectively allowed to individually exercise the power of appropriation, which – as settled in Philconsa – is lodged in Congress. That the power to appropriate must be exercised only through legislation is clear from Section 29(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution which states that: No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law. To understand what constitutes an act of appropriation, the Court, in Bengzon v. Secretary of Justice and Insular Auditor (Bengzon), held that the power of appropriation involves (a) the setting apart by law of a certain sum from the public revenue for (b) a specified purpose. Essentially, under the 2013 PDAF Article, individual legislators are given a personal lump-sum fund from which they are able to dictate (a) how much from such fund would go to (b) a specific project or beneficiary that they themselves also determine. As these two (2) acts comprise the exercise of the power of appropriation as described in Bengzon, and given that the 2013 PDAF Article authorizes individual legislators to perform the same, undoubtedly, said legislators have been conferred the power to legislate which the Constitution does not, however, allow. 

Congressional pork barrel; Checks and Balances; Accountability. The lump-sum/post-enactment legislative identification budgeting system fosters the creation of a budget within a budget which subverts the prescribed procedure of presentment and consequently impairs the President‘s power of item veto. The fact that individual legislators are given post-enactment roles in the implementation of the budget makes it difficult for them to become disinterested observers when scrutinizing, investigating or monitoring the implementation of the appropriation law. To a certain extent, the conduct of oversight would be tainted as said legislators, who are vested with post-enactment authority, would, in effect, be checking on activities in which they themselves participate. Clearly, allowing legislators to intervene in the various phases of project implementation – a matter before another office of government – renders them susceptible to taking undue advantage of their own office.

Congressional pork barrel; Local autonomy. The Court finds an inherent defect in the system which actually belies the avowed intention of making equal the unequal. In particular, the Court observes that the gauge of PDAF and CDF allocation/division is based solely on the fact of office, without taking into account the specific interests and peculiarities of the district the legislator represents. In this regard, the allocation/division limits are clearly not based on genuine parameters of equality, wherein economic or geographic indicators have been taken into consideration. As a result, a district representative of a highly-urbanized metropolis gets the same amount of funding as a district representative of a far-flung rural province which would be relatively underdeveloped compared to the former.

Presidential pork barrel; Malampaya Fund and Presidential Social Fund are valid appropriations. An appropriation made by law under the contemplation of Section 29(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution exists when a provision of law (a) sets apart a determinate or determinable amount of money and (b) allocates the same for a particular public purpose. These two minimum designations of amount and purpose stem from the very definition of the word appropriation, which means to allot, assign, set apart or apply to a particular use or purpose, and hence, if written into the law, demonstrate that the legislative intent to appropriate exists. As the Constitution does not provide or prescribe any particular form of words or religious recitals in which an authorization or appropriation by Congress shall be made, except that it be made by law, an appropriation law may – according to Philconsa – be detailed and as broad as Congress wants it to be for as long as the intent to appropriate may be gleaned from the same.

Analyzing the legal text vis-à-vis the above-mentioned principles, it may then be concluded that (a) Section 8 of PD 910, which creates a Special Fund comprised of all fees, revenues, and receipts of the [Energy Development] Board from any and all sources (a determinable amount) to be used to finance energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President‖ (a specified public purpose), and (b) Section 12 of PD 1869, as amended by PD 1993, which similarly sets aside, ―[a]fter deducting five (5%) percent as Franchise Tax, the Fifty (50%) percent share of the Government in the aggregate gross earnings of [PAGCOR], or 60%[,] if the aggregate gross earnings be less than P150,000,000.00 (also a determinable amount) to finance the priority infrastructure development projects and x x x the restoration of damaged or destroyed facilities due to calamities, as may be directed and authorized by the Office of the President of the Philippines (also a specified public purpose), are legal appropriations under Section 29(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.

Presidential pork barrel; Malampaya Fund; Undue delegation. While the designation of a determinate or determinable amount for a particular public purpose is sufficient for a legal appropriation to exist, the appropriation law must contain adequate legislative guidelines if the same law delegates rule-making authority to the Executive either for the purpose of (a) filling up the details of the law for its enforcement, known as supplementary rule-making, or (b) ascertaining facts to bring the law into actual operation, referred to as contingent rule-making. There are two (2) fundamental tests to ensure that the legislative guidelines for delegated rule-making are indeed adequate. The first test is called the completeness test. Case law states that a law is complete when it sets forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out, or implemented by the delegate. On the other hand, the second test is called the sufficient standard test. Jurisprudence holds that a law lays down a sufficient standard when it provides adequate guidelines or limitations in the law to map out the boundaries of the delegate‘s authority and prevent the delegation from running riot. To be sufficient, the standard must specify the limits of the delegate‘s authority, announce the legislative policy, and identify the conditions under which it is to be implemented.

The Court agrees with petitioners that the phrase “and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President” under Section 8 of PD 910 constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power insofar as it does not lay down a sufficient standard to adequately determine the limits of the President‘s authority with respect to the purpose for which the Malampaya Funds may be used. As it reads, the said phrase gives the President wide latitude to use the Malampaya Funds for any other purpose he may direct and, in effect, allows him to unilaterally appropriate public funds beyond the purview of the law.
That the subject phrase may be confined only to energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government under the principle of ejusdem generis, meaning that the general word or phrase is to be construed to include – or be restricted to – things akin to, resembling, or of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned, is belied by three (3) reasons: first, the phrase “energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government” states a singular and general class and hence, cannot be treated as a statutory reference of specific things from which the general phrase “for such other purposes” may be limited; second, the said phrase also exhausts the class it represents, namely energy development programs of the government; and, third, the Executive department has, in fact, used the Malampaya Funds for non-energy related purposes under the subject phrase, thereby contradicting respondents‘ own position that it is limited only to “energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government.” Thus, while Section 8 of PD 910 may have passed the completeness test since the policy of energy development is early deducible from its text, the phrase ―and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President under the same provision of law should nonetheless be stricken down as unconstitutional as it lies independently unfettered by any sufficient standard of the delegating law.

Presidential pork barrel; Presidential Social Fund; Financing priority infrastructure development projects an undue delegation. The Presidential Social Fund may be used to first, finance the priority infrastructure development projects and second, to finance the restoration of damaged or destroyed facilities due to calamities, as may be directed and authorized by the Office of the President of the Philippines. The Court finds that while the second indicated purpose adequately curtails the authority of the President to spend the Presidential Social Fund only for restoration purposes which arise from calamities, the first indicated purpose, however, gives him carte blanche authority to use the same fund for any infrastructure project he may so determine as a priority. Verily, the law does not supply a definition of priority infrastructure development projects and hence, leaves the President without any guideline to construe the same. In fine, the phrase “to finance the priority infrastructure development projects” must be stricken down as unconstitutional since – similar to the above-assailed provision under Section 8 of PD 910 – it lies independently unfettered by any sufficient standard of the delegating law. As they are severable, all other provisions of Section 12 of PD 1869, as amended by PD 1993, remains legally effective and subsisting.

Operative fact doctrine. All declarations of unconstititionality must only be treated as prospective in effect in view of the operative fact doctrine.

Full text here.

NATIONAL ARTIST FOR LITERATURE VIRGILIO ALMARIO et al., v. THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY et al., G.R. No. 189028, July 16, 2013

Pleadings and practice. It has been held that the remedies of prohibition and injunction are preventive and, as such, cannot be availed of to restrain an act that is already fait accompli. Where the act sought to be prohibited or enjoined has already been accomplished or consummated, prohibition or injunction becomes moot.

Nevertheless, even if the principal issue is already moot, this Court may still resolve its merits for the future guidance of both bench and bar. Courts will decide a question otherwise moot and academic if it is “capable of repetition, yet evading review.”

It is an opportune time for the Court to assert its role as republican schoolmaster, a teacher in a vital national seminar. There are times when the controversy is of such character that, to prevent its recurrence and to assure respect for constitutional limitations, this Court must pass on the merits of a case.

Administrative law. We have held that an administrative regulation adopted pursuant to law has the force and effect of law. Thus, the rules, guidelines and policies regarding the Order of National Artists jointly issued by the CCP Board of Trustees and the NCCA pursuant to their respective statutory mandates have the force and effect of law.  Until set aside, they are binding upon executive and administrative agencies, including the President himself/herself as chief executor of laws.

Constitutional law; Equal protection. There was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution when the former President gave preferential treatment to respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno.  The former President’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws and observe the rules, guidelines and policies of the NCCA and the CCP as to the selection of the nominees for conferment of the Order of National Artists proscribed her from having a free and uninhibited hand in the conferment of the said award. The manifest disregard of the rules, guidelines and processes of the NCCA and the CCP was an arbitrary act that unduly favored respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno.  The conferment of the Order of National Artists on said respondents was therefore made with grave abuse of discretion and should be set aside.

Full text here.