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Click here for the separate opinions of the Justices:
Concurring Justices:
Panganiban, C.J. , Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna JJ.
Dissenting Justices:
Puno, Quisumbing, Corona, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Garcia, and Velasco, Jr., JJ.


chanrobles.com - PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS - ON-LINE

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EN BANC




RAUL L. LAMBINO and ERICO B. AUMENTADO,
TOGETHER WITH 6,327,952  REGISTERED VOTERS,        

Petitioners,
               

                     G.R. No. 174153
October 25, 2006

              - versus -         
                 

THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,
               Respondent.      
x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               

ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS, INC.,
                 Intervenor.       
x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               

ONEVOICE INC., CHRISTIAN S. MONSOD, RENE
B. AZURIN, MANUEL L. QUEZON III, BENJAMIN
T. TOLOSA, JR., SUSAN V. OPLE and CARLOS P.
MEDINA, JR.
                             Intervenors.
x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               

ATTY. PETE QUIRINO QUADRA,
                    Intervenor.
x-------------------------------------------x
               

BAYAN represented by its Chairperson Dr. Carolina Pagaduan-Araullo, BAYAN MUNA represented by its Chairperson, Dr. Reynaldo Lesaca, KILUSANG MAYO UNO represented by its Secretary General Joel Maglunsod, HEAD represented by its  Secretary General Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos, ECUMENICAL BISHOPS FORUM represented by Fr. Dionito Cabillas, MIGRANTE represented by its Chairperson Concepcion Bragas-Regalado, GABRIELA represented by its Secretary General Emerenciana de Jesus, GABRIELA WOMEN’S PARTY represented by Sec. Gen. Cristina Palabay, ANAKBAYAN represented by Chairperson Eleanor de Guzman, LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS represented by Chair Vencer Crisostomo Palabay, JOJO PINEDA of the League of Concerned Professionals and Businessmen, DR. DARBY SANTIAGO of the Solidarity of Health Against Charter Change, DR. REGINALD PAMUGAS of Health Action for Human Rights,
                            Intervenors.
x--------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES, MARIO JOYO AGUJA, and ANA THERESA HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               

ARTURO M. DE CASTRO,
                Intervenor.


x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
TRADE UNION CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
LUWALHATI RICASA ANTONINO,
                     Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION (PHILCONSA), CONRADO F. ESTRELLA, TOMAS C. TOLEDO, MARIANO M. TAJON, FROILAN M. BACUNGAN, JOAQUIN T. VENUS, JR., FORTUNATO P. AGUAS, and AMADO GAT INCIONG,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
RONALD L. ADAMAT, ROLANDO MANUEL RIVERA, and RUELO BAYA,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
PHILIPPINE TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS  ORGANIZATION (PTGWO) and MR. VICTORINO F. BALAIS,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President, MANUEL VILLAR, JR.,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
SULONG BAYAN MOVEMENT FOUNDATION, INC.,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
JOSE ANSELMO I. CADIZ, BYRON D. BOCAR, MA. TANYA KARINA  A. LAT, ANTONIO L. SALVADOR, and RANDALL TABAYOYONG,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, CEBU CITY AND CEBU PROVINCE CHAPTERS,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
SENATE MINORITY LEADER AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR. and SENATORS SERGIO R. OSMEŇA III, JAMBY MADRIGAL, JINGGOY ESTRADA, ALFREDO S. LIM and PANFILO LACSON,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA and PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO,
                             Intervenors.

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
 
MAR-LEN ABIGAIL BINAY, SOFRONIO UNTALAN, JR., and RENE A.V. SAGUISAG,
                              Petitioners,

x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               
G.R. No. 174299
October 25, 2006
                 -versus-               chanroblesvirtualawlibrary


COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, represented by Chairman BENJAMIN  S. ABALOS, SR., and Commissioners  RESURRECCION Z. BORRA, FLORENTINO A. TUASON, ROMEO A. BRAWNER, RENE V. SARMIENTO, NICODEMO T. FERRER, and John Doe and Peter Doe,
                                  Respondents.
x---------------------------------------------------------------x
               




SEPARATE OPINION

 
TINGA, J:

 
I join in full the opinion of Senior Associate Justice Puno. Its enviable sang-froid, inimitable lucidity, and luminous scholarship are all so characteristic of the author that it is hardly a waste of pen and ink to write separately if only to express my deep admiration for his disquisition. It is compelling because it derives from the fundamental democratic ordinance that sovereignty resides in the people, and it seeks to effectuate that principle through the actual empowerment of the sovereign people. Justice Puno’s opinion will in the short term engender reactions on its impact on present attempts to amend the Constitution , but once the political passion of the times have been shorn, it will endure as an unequivocal message to the taongbayan that they are to be trusted to chart the course of their future.

Nothing that I inscribe will improve on Justice Puno’s opinion. I only write separately to highlight a few other points which also inform my vote to grant the petitions.

I.

I agree with Justice Puno that Santiago v. COMELEC[1] and PIRMA v. COMELEC[2] had not acquired value as precedent and should be reversed in any case. I add that the Court has long been mindful of the rule that it necessitates a majority, and not merely a plurality, in order that a decision can stand as precedent. That principle has informed the members of this Court as they deliberated and voted upon contentious petitions, even if this consideration is not ultimately reflected on the final draft released for promulgation.

The curious twist to Santiago and PIRMA is that for all the denigration heaped upon Rep. Act No. 6735 in those cases, the Court did not invalidate any provision of the statute. All the Court said then was that the law was “inadequate”. Since this “inadequate” law was not annulled by the Court, or repealed by Congress, it remained part of the statute books.[3]

I maintain that even if Rep. Act No. 6735 is truly “inadequate”, the Court in Santiago should not have simply let the insufficiency stand given that it was not minded to invalidate the law itself. Article 9 of the Civil Code provides that “[n]o judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the laws.”[4] As explained by the Court recently in Reyes v. Lim,[5] “[Article 9] calls for the application of equity, which[, in the revered Justice Cardozo’s words,] ‘fills the open spaces in the law.’”[6] Certainly, any court that refuses to rule on an action premised on Rep. Act No. 6735 on the ground that the law is “inadequate” would have been found in grave abuse of discretion. The previous failure by the Court to “fill the open spaces” in Santiago further highlights that decision’s status as an unfortunate aberration. chan robles virtual law library

I am mindful of the need to respect stare decisis, to the point of having recently decried a majority ruling that was clearly minded to reverse several precedents but refused to explicitly say so.[7] Yet the principle is not immutable.[8] The passionate words of Chief Justice Panganiban in Osmeña v. COMELEC[9] bear quoting:cralaw

Before I close, a word about stare decisis. In the present case, the Court is maintaining the ad ban to be consistent with its previous holding in NPC vs. Comelec. Thus, respondent urges reverence for the stability of judicial doctrines. I submit, however, that more important than consistency and stability are the verity, integrity and correctness of jurisprudence. As Dean Roscoe Pound explains, "Law must be stable but it cannot stand still." Verily, it must correct itself and move in cadence with the march of the electronic age. Error and illogic should not be perpetuated. After all, the Supreme Court, in many cases, has deviated from stare decisis and reversed previous doctrines and decisions.[[10]] It should do no less in the present case.[11]

Santiago established a tenet that the Supreme Court may affirm a law as constitutional, yet declare its provisions as inadequate to accomplish the legislative purpose, then barred the enforcement of the law. That ruling is erroneous, illogical, and should not be perpetuated.

II.

Following Justice Puno’s clear demonstration why Santiago should not be respected as precedent, I agree that the COMELEC’s failure to take cognizance of the petitions as mandated by Rep. Act No. 6735 constitutes grave abuse of discretion correctible through the petitions before this Court.

The Court has consistently held in cases such as Abes v. COMELEC[12], Sanchez v. COMELEC[13], and Sambarani v. COMELEC[14] that “the functions of the COMELEC under the Constitution are essentially executive and administrative in nature”.[15] More pertinently, in Buac v. COMELEC[16], the Court held that the jurisdiction of the COMELEC relative to the enforcement and administration of a law relative to a plebiscite fell under the jurisdiction of the poll body under its constitutional mandate “to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of a xxx plebiscite”.[17]

Rep. Act No. 6735 is a law relative to the conduct of a plebiscite. The primary task of the COMELEC under Rep. Act No. 6735 is to enforce and administer the said law, functions that are essentially executive and administrative in nature. Even the subsequent duty of the COMELEC of determining the sufficiency of the petitions after they have been filed is administrative in character. By any measure, the COMELEC’s failure to perform its executive and administrative functions under Rep. Act No. 6735 constitutes grave abuse of discretion.

III.

It has been argued that the subject petitions for initiative are barred under Republic Act No. 6735 as they allegedly embrace more than one subject. Section 10 of Rep. Act No. 6735 classifies as a “prohibited measure,” a petition submitted to the electorate that embraces more than one subject.[18]  On this point, reliance is apparently placed on the array of provisions which are to be affected by the amendments proposed in the initiative petition.

Section 10 of Rep. Act No. 6735 is a reflection of the long-enshrined constitutional principle that the laws passed by Congress “shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof”.[19] The one-subject requirement under the Constitution is satisfied if all the parts of the statute are related, and are germane to the subject matter expressed in the title, or as long as they are not inconsistent with or foreign to the general subject and title.[20] An act having a single general subject, indicated in the title, may contain any number of provisions, no matter how diverse they may be, so long as they are not inconsistent with or foreign to the general subject, and may be considered in furtherance of such subject by providing for the method and means of carrying out the general object.[21]

The precedents governing the one-subject, one-title rule under the Constitution should apply as well in the interpretation of Section 10 of Rep. Act No. 6735For as long as it can be established that an initiative petition embraces a single general subject, the petition may be allowed no matter the number of constitutional provisions proposed for amendment if the amendments are germane to the subject of the petition. chan robles virtual law library

Both the Sigaw ng Bayan and the Lambino initiative petitions expressly propose the changing of the form of government from bicameral-presidential to unicameral-parliamentary. Such a proposal may strike as comprehensive, necessitating as it will the reorganization of the executive and legislative branches of government, nevertheless it ineluctably encompasses only a single general subject still.

The 1987 Constitution (or any constitution for that matter) is susceptible to division into several general spheres. To cite the broadest of these spheres by way of example, Article III enumerates the guaranteed rights of the people under the Bill of Rights; Articles VI, VII and VIII provide for the organizational structure of government; while Articles II, XII, XIII & XIV, XV and XVI enunciate policy principles of the State. What would clearly be prohibited under Section 10 of Rep. Act No. 6735 is an initiative petition that seeks to amend provisions which do not belong to the same sphere. For example, had a single initiative petition sought not only to change the form of government from presidential to parliamentary but also to amend the Bill of Rights, said petition would arguably have been barred under Section 10, as that petition ostensibly embraces more than one subject, with each subject bearing no functional relation to the other. But that is not the case with the present initiative petitions.

Neither can it be argued that the initiative petitions embrace more than one subject since the proposed amendments seek to affect two separate branches of government. The very purpose of the initiative petitions is to fuse the powers of the executive and legislative branches of government; hence, the amendments intended to effect such general intent necessarily affects the two branches. If it required that to propose a shift in government from presidential to parliamentary, the amendments to Article VII (Executive Branch) have to be segregated to a different petition from that which would propose amendments to Article VI (Legislative Branch), then the result would be two initiative petitions ─ both subject to separate authentications, consideration and even plebiscites, all to effect one general proposition. This scenario, which entertains the possibility that one petition would ultimately fail while the other succeeds, could thus allow for the risk that the executive branch could be abolished without transferring executive power to the legislative branch. An absurd result, indeed.

I am not even entirely comfortable with the theoretical underpinnings of Section 10. The Constitution indubitably grants the people the right to seek amendment of the charter through initiative, and mandates Congress to “provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.” In doing so, Congress may not restrict the right to initiative on grounds that are not provided for in the Constitution.  If for example the implementing law also provides that certain provisions of the Constitution may not be amended through initiative, that prohibition should not be sustained. Congress is tasked with the implementation, and not the restriction of the right to initiative.

The one-subject requirement under Section 10 is not provided for as a bar to amendment under the Constitution. Arguments can be supplied for the merit of such a requirement, since it would afford a measure of orderliness when the vital question of amending the Constitution arises. The one-subject requirement does allow the voters focus when deliberating whether or not to vote for the amendments. These factors of desirability nonetheless fail to detract from the fact that the one-subject requirement imposes an additional restriction on the right to initiative not contemplated by the Constitution. Short of invalidating the requirement, a better course of action would be to insist upon its liberal interpretation. After all, the Court has consistently adhered to a liberal interpretation of the one-subject, one-title rule.[22] There is no cause to adopt a stricter interpretative rule with regard to the one-subject rule under Section 10 of Rep. Act No. 6735

IV.

During the hearing on the petitions, the argument was raised that provisions of the Constitution amended through initiative would not have the benefit of a reference source from the record of a deliberative body such as Congress or a constitutional convention. It was submitted that this consideration influenced the Constitutional Commission as it drafted Section 2, Article XVII, which expressly provided that only amendments, and not revisions, may be the subject of initiative petitions.

This argument clearly proceeds from a premise that accords supreme value to the record of deliberations of a constitutional convention or commission in the interpretation of the charter. Yet if the absence of a record of deliberations stands as so serious a flaw as to invalidate or constrict processes which change a constitution or its provisions, then the entire initiative process authorized by the Constitution should be scarlet-marked as well.

Even if this position can be given any weight in the consideration of these petitions, I would like to point out that resort to the records of deliberations is only one of many aids to constitutional construction. For one, it should be abhorred if the provision under study is itself clear, plain, and free from ambiguity. As the Court held in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary:[23]

While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the debates and proceedings of the constitutional convention in order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates in the constitutional convention "are of value as showing the views of the individual members, and as indicating the reasons for their votes, but they give us no light as to the views of the large majority who did not talk.We think it safer to construe the constitution from what appears upon its face."[24] chan robles virtual law library

Even if there is need to refer to extrinsic sources in aid of constitutional interpretation, the constitutional record does not provide the exclusive or definitive answer on how to interpret the provision. The intent of a constitutional convention is not controlling by itself, and while the historical discussion on the floor of the constitutional convention is valuable, it is not necessarily decisive. The Court has even held in Vera v. Avelino[25] that “the proceedings of the [constitutional] convention are less conclusive of the proper construction of the fundamental law than are legislative proceedings of the proper construction of a statute, since in the latter case it is the intent of the legislature that courts seek, while in the former courts are endeavoring to arrive at the intent of the people through the discussions and deliberations of their representatives.”[26] The proper interpretation of a constitution depends more on how it was understood by the people adopting it than the framers’ understanding thereof.[27]

If there is fear in the absence of a constitutional record as guide for interpretation of any amendments adopted via initiative, such absence would not preclude the courts from interpreting such amendments in a manner consistent with how courts generally construe the ConstitutionFor example, reliance will be placed on the other provisions of the Constitution to arrive at a harmonized and holistic constitutional framework. The constitutional record is hardly the Rosetta Stone that unlocks the meaning of the Constitution.

V.

I fully agree with Justice Puno that all issues relating to the sufficiency of the initiative petitions should be remanded to the COMELEC. Rep. Act No. 6735 clearly reposes on the COMELEC the task of determining the sufficiency of the petitions, including the ascertainment of whether twelve percent (12%) of all registered voters, including three percent (3%) of registered voters in every legislative district have indeed signed the initiative petitions.[28] It should be remembered that the COMELEC had dismissed the initiative petitions outright, and had yet to undertake the determination of sufficiency as required by law.

It has been suggested to the end of leading the Court to stifle the initiative petitions that the Court may at this juncture pronounce the initiative petitions as insufficient. The derivation of the factual predicates leading to the suggestion is uncertain, considering that the trier of facts, the COMELEC in this instance, has yet to undertake the necessary determination. Still, the premise has been floated that petitioners have made sufficient admissions before this Court that purportedly established the petitions are insufficient.

That premise is highly dubitable. Yet the more fundamental question that we should ask, I submit, is whether it serves well on the Court to usurp trier of facts even before the latter exercises its functions? If the Court, at this stage, were to declare the petitions as insufficient, it would be akin to the Court pronouncing an accused as guilty even before the lower court trial had began.

Matugas v. COMELEC[29] inveighs against the propriety of the Court uncharacteristically assuming the role of trier of facts, and resolving factual questions not previously adjudicated by the lower courts or tribunals:cralaw

[P]etitioner in this case cannot "enervate" the COMELEC's findings by introducing new evidence before this Court, which in any case is not a trier of facts, and then ask it to substitute its own judgment and discretion for that of the COMELEC.

The rule in appellate procedure is that a factual question may not be raised for the first time on appeal, and documents forming no part of the proofs before the appellate court will not be considered in disposing of the issues of an action. This is true whether the decision elevated for review originated from a regular court or an administrative agency or quasi-judicial body, and whether it was rendered in a civil case, a special proceeding, or a criminal case. Piecemeal presentation of evidence is simply not in accord with orderly justice.[30]

Any present determination by the Court on the sufficiency of the petitions constitutes in effect a trial de novo, the Justices of the Supreme Court virtually descending to the level of trial court judges. This is an unbecoming recourse, and it simply is not done.

VI.

The worst position this Court could find itself in is to acquiesce to a plea that it make the choice whether to amend the Constitution or not. This is a matter which should not be left to fifteen magistrates who have not been elected by the people to make the choice for them.

A vote to grant the petitions is not a vote to amend the 1987 Constitution. It is merely a vote to allow the people to directly exercise that option. In fact, the position of Justice Puno which I share would not even guarantee that the Lambino and Sigaw ng Bayan initiative petitions would be submitted to the people in a referendum. The COMELEC will still have to determine the sufficiency of the petition. Among the questions which still have to be determined by the poll body in considering the sufficiency of the petitions is whether twelve percent (12%) of all registered voters nationwide, including three percent (3%) of registered voters in every legislative district, have indeed signed the initiative petitions.[31]

And even should the COMELEC find the initiative petitions sufficient, the matter of whether the Constitution should be amended would still depend on the choice of the electorate. The oppositors are clearly queasy about some of the amendments proposed, or the imputed motives behind the amendments. A referendum, should the COMELEC find the petitions as sufficient, would allow them to convey their uneasiness to the public at large, as well as for the proponents of the amendment to defend their proposal. The campaign period alone would allow the public to be involved in the significant deliberation on the course our nation should take, with the ensuing net benefit of a more informed, more politically aware populace. And of course, the choice on whether the Constitution should be amended would lie directly with the people. The initiative process involves participatory democracy at its most elemental; wherein the consequential debate would not be confined to the august halls of Congress or the hallowed chambers of this Court, as it would spill over to the public squares and town halls, the academic yards and the Internet blogosphere, the dining areas in the homes of the affluent and the impoverished alike.

The prospect of informed and widespread discussion on constitutional change engaged in by a people who are actually empowered in having a say whether these changes should be enacted, gives fruition to the original vision of pure democracy, as formulated in Athens two and a half millennia ago. The great hero of Athenian democracy, Pericles, was recorded as saying in his famed Funeral Oration, “We differ from other states in regarding the man who keeps aloof from public life not as ‘private’ but as useless; we decide or debate, carefully and in person all matters of policy, and we hold, not that words and deeds go ill together, but that acts are foredoomed to failure when undertaken undiscussed.”[32]

Unfortunately, given the highly politicized charge of the times, it has been peddled that an act or vote that assists the initiative process is one for the willful extinction of democracy or democratic institutions. Such a consideration should of course properly play its course in the public debates and deliberations attendant to the initiative process.       Yet as a result of the harum-scarum, the temptation lies heavy for a member of this Court perturbed with the prospect of constitutional change to relieve those anxieties by simply voting to enjoin any legal procedure that initiates the amendment or revision of the fundamental law, even at the expense of the people’s will or what the Constitution allows. A vote so oriented takes the conservative path of least resistance, even as it may gain the admiration of those who do not want to see the Constitution amended.

Still, the biases we should enforce as magistrates are those of the Constitution and the elements of democracy on which our rule of law is founded. Direct democracy, as embodied in the initiative process, is but a culmination of the evolution over the centuries of democratic rights of choice and self-governance. The reemergence of the Athenian democratic ideal after centuries of tyrannical rules arrived very slowly, the benefits parceled out at first only to favored classes. The Magna Carta granted limited rights to self-determination and self-governance only to a few English nobles; the American Constitution was originally intended to give a meaningful voice only to free men, mostly Caucasian, who met the property-holding requirements set by the states for voting. Yet even the very idea of popular voting, limited as it may have already been within the first few years of the American Union, met resistance from no less a revered figure as Alexander Hamilton, to whom the progressive historian Howard Zinn attributes these disconcerting words:cralaw

The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct permanent share in the government… Can a democratic assembly who annually revolve in the mass of the people be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy…[33]

This utterly paternalistic and bigoted view has not survived into the present age of modern democracy where a person’s poverty, color, or gender no longer impedes the exercise of full democratic rights. Yet a democracy that merely guarantees its citizens the right to live their lives freely is incomplete if there is no corresponding allowance for a means by which the people have a direct choice in determining their country’s direction. Initiative as a mode of amending a constitution may seem incompatible with representative democracy, yet it embodies an even purer form of democracy. Initiative, which our 1987 Constitution saw fit to grant to the people, is a progressive measure that is but a continuation of the line of evolution of the democratic ideal.

By allowing the sovereign people to directly propose and enact constitutional amendments, the initiative process should be acknowledged as the purest implement of democratic rule under law. This right granted to over sixty million Filipinos cannot be denied by the votes of less than eight magistrates for reasons that bear no cogitation on the Constitution.

I VOTE to GRANT the petitions.

 
DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

 


[1]  G.R. No. 127325, 19 March 1997, 270 SCRA 106.

[2]  G.R. No. 129754, 23 September 1997.

[3]  Petitioner Aumentado aptly refers to the comment of the late Senator Raul Roco that the Santiago ruling “created a third specie of invalid laws, a mongrel type of constitutional but inadequate and, therefore, invalid law.” Memorandum for Aumentado, p. 54.

[4]  See Civil Code,  Art. 9.

[5]  456 Phil. 1 (2003).

[6]  Id., at 10; citing I Arturo M. Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines 43 (1990) and Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process 113 (1921).

[7]  See Dissenting Opinion, Manila International Airport Authority v. City of Parañaque, G.R. No. 155650, 20 July 2006. In my ponencia in Globe Telecom v. NTC, G.R. No. 143964, 26 July 2004, 435 SCRA 110, I further observed that while an administrative agency was not enslaved to obey its own precedent, it was “essential, for the sake of clarity and intellectual honesty, that if an administrative agency decides inconsistently with previous action, that it explain thoroughly why a different result is warranted, or if need be, why the previous standards should no longer apply or should be overturned.” Id., at 144. Happily, Justice Puno’s present opinion expressly elucidates why Santiago should be reversed.

[8]  As Justice Frankfurter once wrote: “We recognize that stare decisis embodies an important social policy. It represents an element of continuity in law, and is rooted in the psychologic need to satisfy reasonable expectations. But stare decisis is a principle of policy and not a mechanical formula of adherence to the latest decision, however recent and questionable, when such adherence involves collision with a prior doctrine more embracing in its scope, intrinsically sounder, and verified by experience… This Court, unlike the House of Lords, has from the beginning rejected a doctrine of disability at self-correction.” Helvering v. Hallock, 309 U.S. 106, 119-121 (1940).

[9]  351 Phil. 692 (1998).

[10]  As Chief Justice Panganiban then cited: “For instance, Ebralinag vs. Davision Superintendent of Schools of Cebu, 219 SCRA 256, March 1, 1993, reversed the Court's 34-year-old doctrine laid down in Gerona vs. Secretary of Education, 106 Phil 2, August 12, 1959, and upheld the right of Jehovah's Witnesses "to refuse to salute the Philippine flag on account of their religious beliefs." Similarly, Olaguer vs. Military Commission, 150 SCRA 144, May 22, 1987, abandoned the 12-year-old ruling in Aquino Jr. vs. Military Commission, 63 SCRA 546, May 9, 1975, which recognized the jurisdiction of military tribunals to try civilians for offenses allegedly committed during martial law. The Court likewise reversed itself in EPZA vs. Dulay, 149 SCRA 305, April 29, 1987, when it vacated its earlier ruling in National Housing Authority vs. Reyes, 123 SCRA 245, June 29, 1983, on the validity of certain presidential decrees regarding the determination of just compensation. In the much earlier case of Philippine Trust Co. vs. Mitchell, 59 Phil. 30, December 8, 1933, the Court revoked its holding in Involuntary Insolvency of Mariano Velasco & Co., 55 Phil 353, November 29, 1930, regarding the relation of the insolvency law with the then Code of Civil Procedure and with the Civil Code. Just recently, the Court, in Kilosbayan vs. Morato, 246 SCRA 540, July 17, 1995, also abandoned the earlier grant of standing to petitioner-organization in Kilosbayan vs. Guingona, 232 SCRA 110, May 5, 1994.” Id., at 780.

[11]  Ibid.

[12]  129 Phil. 507, 516 (1967).

[13]  G.R. Nos. L-78461, L-79146, & L-79212, 12 August 1987, 153 SCRA 67, 75.

[14]  G.R. No. 160427, 15 September 2004, 438 SCRA 319, 326.

[15]  Ibid.

[16]  G.R. No. 155855, 26 January 2004, 421 SCRA 92.

[17]  Id., at 104. Relatedly, the Court held that “[c]ontests which do not involve the election, returns and qualifications of elected officials are not subjected to the exercise of the judicial or quasi-judicial powers of courts or administrative agencies”. Ibid.

[18]  See e.g., Memorandum of Oppositors-Intervenors Senators Pimentel, Jr., et. al., pp. 19-22; Memorandum for Intervenor Senate of the Philippines, pp. 34-35.

[19]  See 1987 Const., Art. VI, Sec. 26(1).  See also Section 19[1]. 1987 Const,  Art. VIII.

[20]  See e.g., Sumulong v. COMELEC, 73 Phil. 288, 291 (1941); Cordero v. Hon. Jose Cabatuando, et al., 116 Phil. 736, 741 (1962).

[21]  See Tio v. VRB, G.R. No. L-75697, 18 June 1987, 151 SCRA 208, 214-215; citing Public Service Co., Recktenwald, 290 Ill. 314, 8 A.L.R. 466, 470. See also Fariñas v. Executive Secretary, G.R. Nos. 147387 & 152161, 10 December 2003, 417 SCRA 503, 519.

[22]  “As a policy, this Court has adopted a liberal construction of the one title - one subject rule.” Tatad v. Secretary of Department of Energy, 346 Phil. 321, 359 (1997).

[23]  Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, G.R. Nos. 83896 & 83815; 22 February 1991, 194 SCRA 317.

[24]  Id. at 337. I have previously expressed my own doubts in relying on the constitutional or legislative deliberations as a definitive source of construction. “It is easy to selectively cite passages, sometimes out of their proper context, in order to assert a misleading interpretation. The effect can be dangerous. Minority or solitary views, anecdotal ruminations, or even the occasional crude witticisms, may improperly acquire the mantle of legislative intent by the sole virtue of their publication in the authoritative congressional record. Hence, resort to legislative deliberations is allowable when the statute is crafted in such a manner as to leave room for doubt on the real intent of the legislature.” Southern Cross Cement Corporation v. Phil. Cement Manufacturers, G.R. No. G.R. No. 158540, 8 July 2004, 434 SCRA 65, 95.

[25]  77 Phil. 192 (1946).

[26]  Id. at 215.

[27]  Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, supra note 23, at 338; citing Household Finance Corporation v. Shaffner, 203 S.W. 2d 734, 356 Mo. 808.

[28]  See Sections 5(b) & 8, Rep. Act No. 6735. See also 1987 Const., Sec. 2, Art. XVI.

[29]  G.R. No. 151944, January 20, 2004, 420 SCRA 365.

[30]  Id., at 377.  Emphasis supplied.

[31]  See Sections 5(b) & 8, Rep. Act No. 6735. See also 1987 Const., Sec. 2, Art. XVI.

[32]  From the “Funeral Oration” by Pericles, as recorded by Thucydides in the History of the Peloponnesian War.

[33]  H. Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (1980 ed.), at 95.


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