Category Archives: Remedial Law

People of the Philippines v. Noel Enojas, et al., G.R. No. 204894, 10 March 2014

Remedial Law; Evidence; Electronic Evidence; Admissibility; Text Messages – As to the admissibility of the text messages, the RTC admitted them in conformity with the Court’s earlier Resolution applying the Rules on Electronic Evidence to criminal actions. Text messages are to be proved
by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge of them.16 Here, PO3 Cambi, posing as the accused Enojas, exchanged text messages with the other accused in order to identify and entrap them. As the recipient of those messages sent from and to the mobile phone in his possession, PO3 Cambi had personal knowledge of such messages and was competent to testify on them.

Full text here.

NARRA NICKEL MINING AND DEVELOPMENT CORP., et al. v. REDMONT CONSOLIDATED MINES CORP., G.R. No. 195580, April 21, 2014

Remedial law; When is a case deemed moot and academic. A case is said to be moot and/or academic when it “ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical use or value.” Thus, the courts “generally decline jurisdiction over the case or dismiss it on the ground of mootness.”

Exceptions to assuming jurisdiction despite the case becoming moot. The “mootness” principle, however, does accept certain exceptions and the mere raising of an issue of “mootness” will not deter the courts from trying a case when there is a valid reason to do so. In David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, the Court provided four instances where courts can decide an otherwise moot case, thus: (1) There is a grave violation of the Constitution; (2) The exceptional character of the situation and paramount public interest is involved; (3) When constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (4) The case is capable of repetition yet evading review.

Commercial law; Tests to determine the nationality of a corporation. There are two acknowledged tests in determining the nationality of a corporation: the control test and the grandfather rule. Paragraph 7 of DOJ Opinion No. 020, Series of 2005, adopts the 1967 SEC Rules which implemented the requirement of the Constitution and other laws pertaining to the controlling interests in enterprises engaged in the exploitation of natural resources owned by Filipino citizens. The first part of paragraph 7, DOJ Opinion No. 020, stating “shares belonging to corporations or partnerships at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipino citizens shall be considered as of Philippine nationality,” pertains to the control test or the liberal rule. On the other hand, the second part of the DOJ Opinion which provides, “if the percentage of the Filipino ownership in the corporation or partnership is less than 60%, only the number of shares corresponding to such percentage shall be counted as Philippine nationality,” pertains to the stricter, more stringent grandfather rule.

Application of the Grandfather Rule. Based on the said SEC Rule and DOJ Opinion, the Grandfather Rule or the second part of the SEC Rule applies only when the 60-40 Filipino-foreign equity ownership is in doubt (i.e., in cases where the joint venture corporation with Filipino and foreign stockholders with less than 60% Filipino stockholdings [or 59%] invests in other joint venture corporation which is either 60-40% Filipino-alien or the 59% less Filipino). Stated differently, where the 60-40 Filipino- foreign equity ownership is not in doubt, the Grandfather Rule will not apply.

Existence of doubt. The assertion of petitioners that “doubt” only exists when the stockholdings are less than 60% fails to convince this Court. DOJ Opinion No. 20, which petitioners quoted in their petition, only made an example of an instance where “doubt” as to the ownership of the corporation exists. It would be ludicrous to limit the application of the said word only to the instances where the stockholdings of non-Filipino stockholders are more than 40% of the total stockholdings in a corporation. The corporations interested in circumventing our laws would clearly strive to have “60% Filipino Ownership” at face value. It would be senseless for these applying corporations to state in their respective articles of incorporation that they have less than 60% Filipino stockholders since the applications will be denied instantly. Thus, various corporate schemes and layerings are utilized to circumvent the application of the Constitution.

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.

 

 

 

A.M. No. 12-11-2-SC (March 18, 2014): GUIDELINES FOR DECONGESTING HOLDING JAILS BY ENFORCING THE RIGHTS OF ACCUSED PERSONS TO BAIL AND TO SPEEDY TRIAL

The salient provisions on the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court with respect to bail include allowing the accused to move for fixing the amount of bail pending raffle of the case to a regular branch of the court, declaring that the order fixing the amount of bail is not subject to appeal, and releasing the accused upon service of the minimum imposable penalty. With respect to speedy trial, provisions include observance of time limits for arraignment (within 10 days from date the case is raffled), termination of regular trial (within 180 days) or trial by judicial affidavit (within 60 days), and service of subpoena through email, phone calls or SMS.

The guidelines shall take effect on May 1, 2014.

AM No 12-11-2-SC

 

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF MINOR SHANG KO VINGSON YU, UDK No. 14817, January 13, 2014

Remedial law; Writ of Habeas Corpus; When the State may intervene in rearing children. Under Section 1, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the writ of habeas corpus is available, not only in cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, but also in cases involving the rightful custody over a minor. The general rule is that parents should have custody over their minor children. But the State has the right to intervene where the parents, rather than care for such children, treat them cruelly and abusively, impairing their growth and well-being and leaving them emotional scars that they carry throughout their lives unless they are liberated from such parents and property counseled.

Full text here.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. NOEL ENOJAS Y HINGPIT et al., G.R. No. 204894, March 10, 2014

Remedial Law; Admissibility of text messages as evidence. As to the admissibility of the text messages, the RTC admitted them in conformity with the Court’s earlier Resolution applying the Rules on Electronic Evidence to criminal actions. Text messages are to be proved by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge of them.

Remedial Law; Arrest without valid warrant is not a ground for acquittal. Accused lament that they were arrested without a valid warrant of arrest.  But, assuming that this was so, it cannot be a ground for acquitting them of the crime charged but for rejecting any evidence that may have been taken from them after an unauthorized search as an incident of an unlawful arrest.

Full text here.

MODESTO SANCHEZ v. ANDREW SANCHEZ, G.R. NO. 187661, December 4, 2013

Remedial law; Defense of prescription does not automatically warrant dismissal of a complaint. An allegation of prescription can effectively be used in a motion to dismiss only when the complaint on its face shows that indeed the action has already prescribed.  If the issue of prescription is one involving evidentiary matters requiring a full-blown trial on the merits, it cannot be determined in a motion to dismiss. Those issues must be resolved at the trial of the case on the merits wherein both parties will be given ample opportunity to prove their respective claims and defenses.

Full text here.

BANKERS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES and PERRY L. PE v. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, G.R. No. 206794, November 26, 2013

Remedial law; Exceptions to moot and academic principle. While the Court has recognized exceptions in applying the “moot and academic” principle, these exceptions relate only to situations where: (1) there is a grave violation of the Constitution; (2) the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved; (3) the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (4) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.

The Comelec’s Money Ban Resolution lacks the fourth requirement. We note that the Comelec did not make any parallel move on or about the May 13, 2013 elections to address the evil that its Money Ban Resolution sought to avoid and, in fact, it did not issue a similar resolution for the October 28, 2013 barangay elections. If the May 13, 2013 elections had come and gone without any need for the measures the assailed Resolution put in place and if no such measure was necessary in the elections that immediately followed (i.e., the October 28, 2013 barangay elections), we believe that it is now premature for the Court to assume that a similar Money Ban Resolution would be issued in the succeeding elections such that we now have to consider the legality of the Comelec measure that is presently assailed.

Full text here.

THE PROVINCE OF AKLAN v. JODY KING CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORP., G.R. Nos. 197592 & 202623, November 27, 2013

Remedial law; Doctrine of primary jurisdiction. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction holds that if a case is such that its determination requires the expertise, specialized training and knowledge of the proper administrative bodies, relief must first be obtained in an administrative proceeding before a remedy is supplied by the courts even if the matter may well be within their proper jurisdiction. It applies where a claim is originally cognizable in the courts, and comes into play whenever enforcement of the claim requires the resolution of issues which, under a regulatory scheme, have been placed within the special competence of an administrative agency. In such a case, the court in which the claim is sought to be enforced may suspend the judicial process pending referral of such issues to the administrative body for its view or, if the parties would not be unfairly disadvantaged, dismiss the case without prejudice. The objective of the doctrine of primary jurisdiction is to guide the court in determining whether it should refrain from exercising its jurisdiction until after an administrative agency has determined some question or some aspect of some question arising in the proceeding before the court.

Exceptions to the rule on primary jurisdiction. There are established exceptions to the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, such as: (a) where there is estoppel on the part of the party invoking the doctrine; (b) where the challenged administrative act is patently illegal, amounting to lack of jurisdiction; (c) where there is unreasonable delay or official inaction that will irretrievably prejudice the complainant; (d) where the amount involved is relatively small so as to make the rule impractical and oppressive; (e) where the question involved is purely legal and will ultimately have to be decided by the courts of justice; (f) where judicial intervention is urgent; (g) when its application may cause great and irreparable damage; (h) where the controverted acts violate due process; (i) when the issue of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies has been rendered moot; (j) when there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy; (k) when strong public interest is involved; and, (l) in quo warranto proceedings. However, none of the foregoing circumstances is applicable in the present case. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence. All the proceedings of the court in violation of the doctrine and all orders and decisions rendered thereby are null and void.

Administrative law; The Commission on Audit (COA) has primary jursidiction over money claims against the government. It is the COA and not the RTC which has primary jurisdiction to pass upon petitioner’s money claim against respondent local government unit. Such jurisdiction may not be waived by the parties’ failure to argue the issue nor active participation in the proceedings. Respondent’s collection suit being directed against a local government unit, such money claim should have been first brought to the COA. Hence, the RTC should have suspended the proceedings and refer the filing of the claim before the COA. Moreover, petitioner is not estopped from raising the issue of jurisdiction even after the denial of its notice of appeal and before the CA.

Full text here.

KOPPEL, INC. v. MAKATI ROTARY CLUB FOUNDATION, INC., G.R. No. 198075, September 4, 2013

Arbitration; Doctrine of separability. Under the doctrine of separability, an arbitration agreement is considered as independent of the main contract. Being a separate contract in itself, the arbitration agreement may thus be invoked regardless of the possible nullity or invalidity of the main contract. As a further consequence of the doctrine of separability, even the very party who repudiates the main contract may invoke its arbitration clause.

Formal request to arbitrate. The salient wordings of Rule 4.1 [of A.M. No. 07-11-08-SC or the Special Rules of Court on Alternative Dispute Resolutionreads: “[a] party to a pending action filed in violation of the arbitration agreement x x x may request the court to refer the parties to arbitration inaccordance with such agreement.” In using the word “may” to qualify the act of filing a “request” under Section 24 of R.A. No. 9285, the Special ADR Rules clearly did not intend to limit the invocation of an arbitration agreement in a pending suit solely via such “request.” After all, non-compliance with an arbitration agreement is a valid defense to any offending suit and, as such, may even be raised in an answer as provided in our ordinary rules of procedure. In this case, it is conceded that petitioner was not able to file a separate “request” of arbitration before the MeTC. However, it is equally conceded that the petitioner, as early as in its Answer with Counterclaim, had already apprised the MeTC of the existence of the arbitration clause in the 2005 Lease Contract and, more significantly, of its desire to have the same enforced in this case. This act of petitioner is enough valid invocation of his right to arbitrate.

Judicial dispute resolution distinguished from arbitration. The JDR framework is based on the processes of mediation,conciliation or early neutral evaluation which entails the submission of a dispute before a “JDR judge” who shall merely “facilitate settlement” between the parties in conflict or make a “non-binding evaluation or assessment of the chances of each party’s case.” Thus in JDR, the JDR  judge lacks the authority to render a resolution of the dispute that is binding upon the parties in conflict. In arbitration, on the other hand, the dispute is submitted to an arbitrator/s — a neutral third person or a group of thereof — who shall have the authority to render a resolution binding upon the parties.