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[G.R. No. 146528.February 6, 2001]

JAIME SORIANO, et al. vs. JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA

EN BANC

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated FEB 6 2001.

G.R. No. 146528(Jaime N. Soriano, Philip Emmanuel C. Penaflor, Cesar B. Chavez, Sal G. Dumabok, Samuel Julius B. Garcia, Sandra P. Torresyap, Cherrie B. Belmonte, Mario S. Araos, Rodylyn Tingzon-Manzano, Fidelino A. Austria, Angelito M. Villanueva, Isabelo M. Banez III, Paul Y. Chua and Cesar C. Villariba, all officers and members of the Movement for National Security Advancement (MNSA), vs. Joseph Ejercito Estrada.)

G.R. No. 146549 (In the Matter of the Declaration of her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the constitutionally instituted 14th President of the Republic of the Philippines; Eduardo B. Inlayo, petitioner.)

G.R. No. 146579 (Concerned Citizens for effective and responsible Government, Inc.; SulongBayan Movement Foundation, Inc.; Institute of Continuing Legal Studies and Education Inc.; Eliseo P. Ocampo; Editha A. Santos; and Armando A. Ricarte, Jr., petitioners.)

G.R. No. 146631 (Oliver O. Lozano vs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.)

These cases pertain to the oath-taking on 20 January 2001 of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Philippines.The Court ordered these consolidation because they involve the same subject matter.

In G.R. No. 146528, petitioners Jaime N. Soriano, et al., ask the Court to enjoin Joseph Ejercito Estrada "from exercising the powers and authority of the President under the Constitution" and "to yield the Presidency to his constitutional successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo."

In G.R. No. 146549, petitioner Eduardo Inlayo prays that the Court declare that "the occupation of the office of [the President] of the Philippines by Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is constitutional and legal with the full support of the Filipino people and other foreign countries."

In G.R. No. 146579, petitioner ask the Court to issue a "definitive ruling on whether or not Joseph Estrada is still the President" and is "exempt from all criminal suits."

In G.R. No. 146631, petitioner Oliver Lozano prays "that the proclamation and oath-taking of Madame Arroyo" be declared null and void or that she be "declared acting President and President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, President-on-leave."

All four Petitions are plainly without merit.

First, the four Petitions are essentially for declaratory relief, over which the Supreme Court had no original jurisdiction. 1 Remotigue v. Osmeņa, 21 SCRA 837 [1967]; Rural Bank of Olongapo, Inc. v. Commissioner of Land Registration, 102 SCRA 794 [1981]; Sundiang v. Estrada and the Philippine Senate, G.R. No. 146131, 16 January 2001.Under Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, this special civil action falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts and is not within the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. 2 Alliance of Government Workers v. Minister of Labor and Employment, 124 SCRA 1 [1983].

Although the Petition in G.R. No. 146528 is captioned as a "Petition for Prohibition and Mandamus," it fails to allege, much less show, lack or excess jurisdiction, or grave abuse of jurisdiction on the part of any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person whether exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions, which Rule 65 of the Rules of Court requires to be alleged and proved before the extraordinary writ of prohibition may be issued.Neither have petitioner sufficiently alleged, much less shown, that respondent or anyone else unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty, to entitle them to the writ of mandamus.In any case, petitioners themselves admit that their plea is really one for declaratory relief, (par. 6.1. of Petition) and that they "fully understand the well-settled doctrine that this Honorable Court is bereft of jurisdiction to entertain cases for declaratory relief."

Second, petitioners have no legal standing to file the suits.They have not shown any direct and personal injury as a result of President Arroyo's oath-taking. 3 See Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato, 246 SCRA 540, 562-563 [1995]; Miranda v. Aguirre 314 SCRA 603 [1999].Specifically, Petitioner Lozano's alleged interest as a taxpayer is far too detached from the ultimate objective of his Petition, i.e., to nullify the oath-taking of Arroyo and declare Estrada as "President-on-leave." The other petitioners have not even alleged, not to say shown, any prima facie legal interest to qualify them as proper parties.Kibitzers, however well-meaning, have no locus standi.

Third, none of the Petitioners can be treated as actions for quo warranto.Under Rule 66 of the rules of Court, a plea for quo warranto may be commenced by (1) the solicitor general, (2) a public prosecutor, or (3) a person claiming to be entitled to a public office or position usurped or unlawfully held or exercised by another.None of the petitioners qualify in law to commence the action.Their Petitioner do not even remotely allege that they are.

At bottom, the Court stands by its Resolution in A.M. No. 01-1-05-SC, promulgated on 22 January 2001, which reads as follows:

A.M. No. 01-1-05-SC. - In re: Request of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to take her Oath of Office as President of the Republic of the Philippines before the ChiefJustice. - Acting on the urgent request of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be sworn in as President of the Republic of the Philippines, addressed to the Chief Justice and confirmed by a letter to the Court, dated January 20, 2001, which request was treated as an administrative matter, the Court resolved unanimously to CONFIRM the authority given by the twelve (12) members of the Court then present to the Chief Justice on January 20, 2001 to administer the Oath of Office to Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Philippines, at noon of January 20, 2001.

This Resolution is without prejudice to the disposition of any justiciable case which may be filed by a proper party.

Clearly, the herein Petitions have miserably failed to present justiciable controversies brought by the proper parties to deserve further considerations by this Court.The appropriate case for the resolution of the issues raised by petitioners may be G.R. Nos. 146710-15 entitled H.E. Joseph E. Estrada vs. Honorable Aniano Desierto, etc., et al., filed on 05 February 2001.

WHEREFORE, the Petitions at bar are DISMISSED for utter lack of merit.

Very truly yours,

LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO
Clerk of Court

(Sgd.) MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA

Asst. Clerk of Court


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