Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 2005 > September 2005 Decisions > CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : CALLEJO, SR., J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita:




CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : CALLEJO, SR., J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et al.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. NO. 168056 : September 01, 2005]

ABAKADA GURO PARTY LIST (FORMERLY AASJAS) OFFICERS SAMSON S. ALCANTARA AND ED VINCENT S. ALBANO, Petitioners, v. THE HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA; HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE CESAR PURISIMA; AND HONORABLE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE GUILLERMO PARAYNO, JR., Respondents.

[G.R. NO. 168207]

AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., LUISA P. EJERCITO-ESTRADA, JINGGOY E. ESTRADA, PANFILO M. LACSON, ALFREDO S. LIM, JAMBY A.S. MADRIGAL, AND SERGIO R. OSMEÑA III, Petitioners, v. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO R. ERMITA, CESAR V. PURISIMA, SECRETARY OF FINANCE, GUILLERMO L. PARAYNO, JR., COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondents.

[G.R. NO. 168461]

ASSOCIATION OF PILIPINAS SHELL DEALERS, INC. REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, ROSARIO ANTONIO; PETRON DEALERS' ASSOCIATION REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, RUTH E. BARBIBI; ASSOCIATION OF CALTEX DEALERS' OF THE PHILIPPINES REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, MERCEDITAS A. GARCIA; ROSARIO ANTONIO DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "ANB NORTH SHELL SERVICE STATION”; LOURDES MARTINEZ DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "SHELL GATE - N. DOMINGO”; BETHZAIDA TAN DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "ADVANCE SHELL STATION”; REYNALDO P. MONTOYA DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "NEW LAMUAN SHELL SERVICE STATION”; EFREN SOTTO DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "RED FIELD SHELL SERVICE STATION”; DONICA CORPORATION REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, DESI TOMACRUZ; RUTH E. MARBIBI DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "R&R PETRON STATION”; PETER M. UNGSON DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "CLASSIC STAR GASOLINE SERVICE STATION”; MARIAN SHEILA A. LEE DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "NTE GASOLINE & SERVICE STATION”; JULIAN CESAR P. POSADAS DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "STARCARGA ENTERPRISES”; ADORACION MAÑEBO DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "CMA MOTORISTS CENTER”; SUSAN M. ENTRATA DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "LEONA'S GASOLINE STATION AND SERVICE CENTER”; CARMELITA BALDONADO DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "FIRST CHOICE SERVICE CENTER”; MERCEDITAS A. GARCIA DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "LORPED SERVICE CENTER”; RHEAMAR A. RAMOS DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "RJRAM PTT GAS STATION”; MA. ISABEL VIOLAGO DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "VIOLAGO-PTT SERVICE CENTER”; MOTORISTS' HEART CORPORATION REPRESENTED BY ITS VICE-PRESIDENT FOR OPERATIONS, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA; MOTORISTS' HARVARD CORPORATION REPRESENTED BY ITS VICE-PRESIDENT FOR OPERATIONS, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA; MOTORISTS' HERITAGE CORPORATION REPRESENTED BY ITS VICE-PRESIDENT FOR OPERATIONS, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA; PHILIPPINE STANDARD OIL CORPORATION REPRESENTED BY ITS VICE-PRESIDENT FOR OPERATIONS, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA; ROMEO MANUEL DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "ROMMAN GASOLINE STATION”; ANTHONY ALBERT CRUZ III DOING BUSINESS UNDER THE NAME AND STYLE OF "TRUE SERVICE STATION”, Petitioners, v. CESAR V. PURISIMA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND GUILLERMO L. PARAYNO, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondents.

[G.R. NO. 168463]

FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO, VINCENT CRISOLOGO, EMMANUEL JOEL J. VILLANUEVA, RODOLFO G. PLAZA, DARLENE ANTONINO-CUSTODIO, OSCAR G. MALAPITAN, BENJAMIN C. AGARAO, JR. JUAN EDGARDO M. ANGARA, JUSTIN MARC SB. CHIPECO, FLORENCIO G. NOEL, MUJIV S. HATAMAN, RENATO B. MAGTUBO, JOSEPH A. SANTIAGO, TEOFISTO DL. GUINGONA III, RUY ELIAS C. LOPEZ, RODOLFO Q. AGBAYANI AND TEODORO A. CASIÑO, Petitioners, v. CESAR V. PURISIMA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF FINANCE, GUILLERMO L. PARAYNO, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, AND EDUARDO R. ERMITA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, Respondents.

[G.R. NO. 168730]

BATAAN GOVERNOR ENRIQUE T. GARCIA, JR., Petitioner, v. HON. EDUARDO R. ERMITA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY; HON. MARGARITO TEVES, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF FINANCE; HON. JOSE MARIO BUNAG, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE OIC COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE; AND HON. ALEXANDER AREVALO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE OIC COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS, Respondents.

CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION


CALLEJO, SR., J.:



I join the concurring and dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno as I concur with the majority opinion but vote to declare as unconstitutional the deletion of the "no-pass on provision" contained in Senate Bill No. 1950 and House Bill No. 3705 (the constituent bills of Republic Act No. 9337).

The present petitions provide an opportune
occasion for the Court to re-examine
Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance


In ruling that Congress, in enacting R.A. No. 9337, complied with the formal requirements of the Constitution, the ponencia relies mainly on the Court's rulings in Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance.1 To recall, Tolentino involved Republic Act No. 7716, which similarly amended the NIRC by widening the tax base of the VAT system. The procedural attacks against R.A. No. 9337 are substantially the same as those leveled against R.A. No. 7716, e.g., violation of the "Origination Clause" (Article VI, Section 24) and the "Three-Reading Rule" and the "No-Amendment Rule" (Article VI, Section 262) of the Constitution.

The present petitions provide an opportune occasion for the Court to re-examine its rulings in Tolentino particularly with respect to the scope of the powers of the Bicameral Conference Committee vis-à-vis Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution.

The crucial issue posed by the present petitions is whether the Bicameral Conference Committee may validly introduce amendments that were not contained in the respective bills of the Senate and the House of Representatives. As a corollary, whether it may validly delete provisions uniformly contained in the respective bills of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In Tolentino, the Court declared as valid amendments introduced by the Bicameral Conference Committee even if these were not contained in the Senate and House bills. The majority opinion therein held:
As to the possibility of an entirely new bill emerging out of a Conference Committee, it has been explained:
Under congressional rules of procedures, conference committees are not expected to make any material change in the measure at issue, either by deleting provisions to which both houses have already agreed or by inserting new provisions. But this is a difficult provision to enforce. Note the problem when one house amends a proposal originating in either house by striking out everything following the enacting clause and substituting provisions which make it an entirely new bill. The versions are now altogether different, permitting a conference committee to draft essentially a new bill …
The result is a third version, which is considered an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," the only requirement for which being that the third version be germane to the subject of the House and Senate bills.

Indeed, this Court recently held that it is within the power of a conference committee to include in its report an entirely new provision that is not found either in the House bill or in the Senate Bill. If the committee can propose an amendment consisting of one or two provisions, collectively considered as an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," so long as such an amendment is germane to the subject of the bills before the committee. After all, its report was not final but needed the approval of both houses of Congress to become valid as an act of the legislative department. The charge that in this case the Conference Committee acted a third legislative chamber is thus without any basis.2
The majority opinion in Tolentino relied mainly on the practice of the United States legislature in making the foregoing disquisition. It was held, in effect, that following the US Congress' practice where a conference committee is permitted to draft a bill that is entirely different from the bills of either the House of Representatives or Senate, the Bicameral Conference Committee is similarly empowered to make amendments not found in either the House or Senate bills.

The ponencia upholds the acts of the Bicameral Conference Committee with respect to R.A. No. 9337, following the said ruling in Tolentino.

To my mind, this unqualified adherence by the majority opinion in Tolentino, and now by the ponencia, to the practice of the US Congress and its conference committee system ought to be re-examined. There are significant textual differences between the US Federal Constitution's and our Constitution's prescribed congressional procedure for enacting laws. Accordingly, the degree of freedom accorded by the US Federal Constitution to the US Congress markedly differ from that accorded by our Constitution to the Philippine Congress.

Section 7, Article I of the US Federal Constitution reads:
[1] All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

[2] Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to the House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall, likewise, be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its return in which Case it shall not be a Law.

[3] Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to Which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
On the other hand, Article VI of our Constitution prescribes for the following procedure for enacting a law:
Sec. 26. (1) Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.

(2) No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal.

Sec. 27. (1) Every bill passed by Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President. If he approves the same, he shall sign it; otherwise, he shall veto it and return the same with his objections to the House where it originated, which shall enter the objections at large in its Journal and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of all the Members of such House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of all the Members of that House, it shall become a law. In all such cases, the votes of each House shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the Members voting for or against shall be entered in its Journal. The President shall communicate his veto of any bill to the House where it originated within thirty days after the date of receipt thereof; otherwise, it shall become a law as if he had signed it.

(2) The President shall have the power to veto any particular item or items in an appropriation, revenue, or tariff bill, but the veto shall not affect the item or items to which he does not object.
Two distinctions are readily apparent between the two procedures:
  1. Unlike the US Federal Constitution, our Constitution prescribes the "three-reading" rule or that no bill shall become a law unless it shall have been read on three separate days in each house except when its urgency is certified by the President; and

  2. Unlike the US Federal Constitution, our Constitution prescribes the "no-amendment" rule or that no amendments shall be allowed upon the last reading of the bill.
American constitutional experts have lamented that certain congressional procedures have not been entrenched in the US Federal Constitution. According to a noted constitutional law professor, the absence of the "three-reading" requirement as well as similar legislative-procedure rules from the US Federal Constitution is a "cause for regret.”3

In this connection, it is interesting to note that the conference committee system in the US Congress has been described in this wise:
Conference Committees

Another main mechanism of joint House and Senate action is the conference committee. Inherited from the English Constitution, the conference committee system is an evolutionary product whose principal threads were woven on the loom of congressional practice into a unified pattern by the middle of the nineteenth century. "By 1852," writes Ada McCown, historian of the origin and development of the conference committee, "the customs of presenting identical reports from the committees of conference in both houses, of granting high privilege to these conference reports, of voting upon the conference report as a whole and permitting no amendment of it, of keeping secret the discussions carried on in the meetings of the conference committee, had become established in American parliamentary practice.”

Conference committees are composed of Senators and Representatives, usually three each, appointed by the presiding officers of both houses, for the purpose of adjusting differences between bills they have passed. This device has been extensively used by every Congress since 1789. Of the 1157 laws enacted by the 78th Congress, for example, 107 went through conference and, of these, 36 were appropriation bills on which the House had disagreed to Senate amendments. In practice, most important legislation goes through the conference closet and is there revised, sometimes beyond recognition, by the all-powerful conferees or managers, as they are styled. A large body of law and practice has been built up over the years governing conference procedure and reports.

Suffice it to say here that serious evils have marked the development of the conference committee system. In the first place, it is highly prodigal of members' time. McConachie calculated that the average time consumed in conference was 33 days per bill. Bills are sent to conference without reading the amendments of the other chamber. Despite rules to the contrary, conferees do not confine themselves to matters in dispute, but often initiate entirely new legislation and even strike out identical provisions previously approved by both houses. This happened during the 78th Congress, for instance, when an important amendment to the surplus property bill, which had been approved by both houses, was deleted in conference.

Conference committees, moreover, suffer like other committees from the seniority rule. The senior members of the committees concerned, who are customarily appointed as managers on the part of the House and Senate, are not always the best informed on the questions at issue, nor do they always reflect the majority sentiment of their houses. Furthermore, conference reports must be accepted or rejected in toto without amendment and they are often so complex and obscure that they are voted upon without knowledge of their contents. What happens in practice is that Congress surrenders its legislative function to irresponsible committees of conference. The standing rules against including new and extraneous matter in conference reports have been gradually whittled away in recent years by the decisions of presiding officers. Senate riders attached to appropriation bills enable conference committees to legislate and the House usually accepts them rather than withhold supply, thus putting it, as Senator Hoar once declared, under a degrading duress.

It is also alleged that under this secret system lobbyist are able to kill legislation they dislike and that "jokers" designed to defeat the will of Congress can be inserted without detection. Senator George W. Norris once characterized the conference committee as a third house of Congress. "The members of this ‘house,' he said, "are not elected by the people. The people have no voice as to who these members shall be ... This conference committee is many times, in very important matters of legislation, the most important branch of our legislature. There is no record kept of the workings of the conference committee. Its work is performed, in the main, in secret. No constituent has any definite knowledge as to how members of this conference committee vote, and there is no record to prove the attitude of any member of the conference committee ... As a practical proposition we have legislation, then, not by the voice of the members of the Senate, not by the members of the House of Representatives, but we have legislation by the voice of five or six men. And for practical purposes, in most cases, it is impossible to defeat the legislation proposed by this conference committee. Every experienced legislator knows that it is the hardest thing in the world to defeat a conference report.

Despite these admitted evils, impartial students of the conference committee system defend it on net balance as an essential part of the legislative process. Some mechanism for reconciling differences under bicameral system is obviously indispensable. The remedy for the defects of the device is not to abolish it, but to keep it under congressional control. This can be done by enforcing the rules which prohibit the inclusion in conference reports of matter not committed to them by either house and forbid the deletion of items approved by both bodies; by permitting conference managers to report necessary new matter separately and the houses to consider it apart from the conference report; by fixing a deadline toward the close of a session after which no bills could be sent to conference, so as to eliminate congestion at the end of the session - a suggestion made by the elder Senator La Follete in 1919; by holding conferences in sessions open to the public, letting conference reports lie over longer, and printing them in bill form (with conference changes in italics) so as to allow members more time to examine them and discover "jokers.”4
The "three-reading" and "no-amendment" rules, absent in the US Federal Constitution, but expressly mandated by Article VI, Section 26(2) of our Constitution are mechanisms instituted to remedy the "evils" inherent in a bicameral system of legislature, including the conference committee system.

Sadly, the ponencia's refusal to apply Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution on the Bicameral Conference Committee and the amendments it introduced to R.A. No. 9337 has "effectively dismantled" the "three-reading rule" and "no-amendment rule." As posited by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a member of the Constitutional Commission:
In a bicameral system, bills are independently processed by both House of Congress. It is not unusual that the final version approved by one House differs from what has been approved by the other. The "conference committee," consisting of members nominated from both Houses, is an extra-constitutional creation of Congress whose function is to propose to Congress ways of reconciling conflicting provisions found in the Senate version and in the House version of a bill. It performs a necessary function in a bicameral system. However, since conference committees have merely delegated authority from Congress, they should not perform functions that Congress itself may not do. Moreover, their proposals need confirmation by both Houses of Congress.

In Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, the Court had the opportunity to delve into the limits of what conference committees may do. The petitioners contended that the consolidation of the House and Senate bills made by the conference committee contained provisions which neither the Senate bill nor the House bill had. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Romero laid out in great detail the provisions that had been inserted by the conference committee. These provisions, according to the petitioners had been introduced "surreptitiously" during a closed door meeting of the committee.

The Court's answer to this was that in United States practice conference committees could be held in executive sessions and amendments germane to the purpose of the bill could be introduced even if these were not in either original bill. But the Court did not bother to check whether perhaps the American practice was based on a constitutional text different from that of the Philippine Constitution.

There are as a matter of fact significant differences in the degree of freedom American and Philippine legislators have. The only rule that binds the Federal Congress is that it may formulate its own rules of procedure. For this reason, the Federal Congress is master of its own procedures. It is different with the Philippine Congress. Our Congress indeed is also authorized to formulate its own rules of procedure - but within limits not found in American law. For instance, there is the "three readings on separate days" rule. Another important rule is that no amendments may be introduced by either house during third reading. These limitations were introduced by the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions and confirmed by the 1987 Constitution as a defense against the inventiveness of the stealthy and surreptitious. These, however, were disregarded by the Court in Tolentino in favor of contrary American practice.

This is not to say that conference committees should not be allowed. But an effort should be made to lay out the scope of what conference committees may do according to the requirements and the reasons of the Philippine Constitution and not according to the practice of the American Congress. For instance, if the two Houses are not allowed to introduce and debate amendments on third reading, can they circumvent this rule by coursing new provisions through the instrumentality of a conference committee created by Congress and meeting in secret? The effect of the Court's uncritical embrace of the practice of the American Congress and its conference committees is to dismantle the no-amendment rule.5
The task at hand for the Court, but which the ponencia eschews, is to circumscribe the powers of the Bicameral Conference Committee in light of the "three-reading" and "no-amendment" rules in Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution.

The Bicameral Conference Committee, in
deleting the "no pass on provision" contained in
Senate Bill No. 1950 and House Bill No. 3705,
violated Article VI , Section 26(2) of the Constitution


Pertinently, in his dissenting opinion in Tolentino, Justice Davide (now Chief Justice) opined that the duty of the Bicameral Conference Committee was limited to the reconciliation of disagreeing provisions or the resolution of differences or inconsistencies. This proposition still applies as can be gleaned from the following text of Sections 88 and 89, Rule XIV of the Rules of the House of Representatives:
Sec. 88. Conference Committee. - In the event that the House does not agree with the Senate on the amendments to any bill or joint resolution, the differences may be settled by the conference committees of both chambers.

In resolving the differences with the Senate, the House panel shall, as much as possible, adhere to and support the House Bill. If the differences with the Senate are so substantial that they materially impair the House Bill, the panel shall report such fact to the House for the latter's appropriate action.

Sec. 89. Conference Committee Reports. -…Each report shall contain a detailed, sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in or amendments to the subject measure.



The Chairman of the House panel may be interpellated on the Conference Committee Report prior to the voting thereon. The House shall vote on the Conference Committee report in the same manner and procedure as it votes on a bill on third and final reading.
and Rule XII, Section 35 of the Rules of the Senate:
Sec. 35. In the event that the Senate does not agree with the House of Representatives on the provision of any bill or joint resolution, the differences shall be settled by a conference committee of both Houses which shall meet within ten (10) days after their composition. The President shall designate the members of the Senate Panel in the conference committee with the approval of the Senate.

Each Conference Committee Report shall contain a detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of the changes in, or amendments to the subject measure, and shall be signed by a majority of the members of each House panel, voting separately.
Justice Davide further explained that under its limited authority, the Bicameral Conference Committee could only (a) restore, wholly or partly, the specific provisions of the House Bill amended by the Senate Bill; (b) sustain, wholly or partly, the Senate's amendments, or (c) by way of compromise, to agree that neither provisions in the House Bill amended by the Senate nor the latter's amendments thereto be carried into the final form of the former. Justice Romero, who also dissented in Tolentino, added that the conference committee is not authorized to initiate or propose completely new matters although under certain legislative rules like the Jefferson's Manual, a conference committee may introduce germane matters in a particular bill. However, such matters should be circumscribed by the committee's sole authority and function to reconcile differences.

In the case of R.A. No. 9337, the Bicameral Conference Committee made an "amendment by deletion" with respect to the "no pass on provision" contained in both House Bill (HB) No. 3705 and Senate Bill (SB) No. 1950. HB 3705 proposed to amend Sections 106 and 108 of the NIRC by expressly stating therein that sellers of petroleum products and power generation companies selling electricity are prohibited from passing on the VAT to the consumers. SB 1950 proposed to amend Section 108 by likewise prohibiting power generation companies from passing on the VAT to the consumers. However, these "no pass on provisions" were altogether deleted by the Bicameral Conference Committee. At the least, since there was no disagreement between HB 3705 and SB 1950 with respect to the "no pass on provision" on the sale of electricity, the Bicameral Conference Committee acted beyond the scope of its authority in deleting the pertinent proviso.

At this point, it is well to recall the rationale for the "no-amendment rule" and the "three-reading rule" in Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution. The proscription on amendments upon the last reading is intended to subject all bills and their amendments to intensive deliberation by the legislators and the ample ventilation of issues to afford the public an opportunity to express their opinions or objections thereon.6 Analogously, it is said that the "three-reading rule" operates "as a self-binding mechanism that allows the legislature to guard against the consequences of its own future passions, myopia, or herd behavior. By requiring that bills be read and debated on successive days, legislature may anticipate and forestall future occasions on which it will be seized by deliberative pathologies.”7 As Jeremy Bentham, a noted political analyst, put it: "[t]he more susceptible a people are of excitement and being led astray, so much the more ought they to place themselves under the protection of forms which impose the necessity of reflection, and prevent surprises.”8

Reports of the Bicameral Conference Committee, especially in cases where substantial amendments, or in this case deletions, have been made to the respective bills of either house of Congress, ought to undergo the "three-reading" requirement in order to give effect to the letter and spirit of Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution.

The Bicameral Conference Committee Report that eventually became R.A. No. 9337, in fact, bolsters the argument for the strict compliance by Congress of the legislative procedure prescribed by the Constitution. As can be gleaned from the said Report, of the 9 Senators-Conferees,9 only 5 Senators10 unqualifiedly approved it. Senator Joker P. Arroyo expressed his qualified dissent while Senators Sergio R. Osmeña III and Juan Ponce Enrile approved it with reservations. On the other hand, of the twenty-eight (28) Members of the House of Representatives-Conferees,11 fourteen (14)12 approved the same with reservations while three13 voted no. All the reservations expressed by the conferees relate to the deletion of the "no pass on provision." Only eleven (11) unqualifiedly approved it. In other words, even among themselves, the conferees were not unanimous on their Report. Nonetheless, Congress approved it without even thoroughly discussing the reservations or qualifications expressed by the conferees therein.

This "take it or leave it" stance vis-à-vis conference committee reports opens the possibility of amendments, which are substantial and not even germane to the original bills of either house, being introduced by the conference committees and voted upon by the legislators without knowledge of their contents. This practice cannot be countenanced as it patently runs afoul of the essence of Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution. Worse, it is tantamount to Congress surrendering its legislative functions to the conference committees.

Ratification by Congress did not cure the
unconstitutional act of the Bicameral Conference
Committee of deleting the "no pass on provision”


That both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the Bicameral Conference Committee Report which deleted the "no pass on provision" did not cure the unconstitutional act of the said committee. As succinctly put by Chief Justice Davide in his dissent in Tolentino, "[t]his doctrine of ratification may apply to minor procedural flaws or tolerable breaches of the parameters of the bicameral conference committee's limited powers but never to violations of the Constitution. Congress is not above the Constitution.”14

Enrolled Bill Doctrine is not applicable where, as in
this case, there is grave violation of the Constitution


As expected, the ponencia invokes the enrolled bill doctrine to buttress its refusal to pass upon the validity of the assailed acts of the Bicameral Conference Committee. Under the "enrolled bill doctrine," the signing of a bill by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President and the certification of the Secretaries of both houses of Congress that it was passed are conclusive of its due enactment. In addition to Tolentino, the ponencia cites Fariñas v. Executive Secretary15 where the Court declined to go behind the enrolled bill vis-à-vis the allegations of the petitioners therein that irregularities attended the passage of Republic Act No. 9006, otherwise known as the Fair Election Act.

Reliance by the ponencia on Fariñas is quite misplaced. The Court's adherence to the enrolled bill doctrine in the said case was justified for the following reasons:
The Court finds no reason to deviate from the salutary in this case where the irregularities alleged by the petitioners mostly involved the internal rules of Congress, whether House or Senate. Parliamentary rules are merely procedural and with their observance the courts have no concern. Whatever doubts there may be as to the formal validity of Rep. Act No. 9006 must be resolved in its favor. The Court reiterates its ruling in Arroyo v. De Venecia, viz.:
But the cases, both here and abroad, in varying forms of expression, all deny to the courts the power to inquire into the allegations that, in enacting a law, a House of Congress failed to comply with its own rules, in the absence of showing that there was a violation of a constitutional provision or the rights of private individuals. In Osmeña v. Pendatun, it was held: "At any rate, courts have declared that ‘the rules adopted by deliberative bodies are subject to revocation, modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them.' And it has been said that ‘Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with their observance, the courts have no concern. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body.' Consequently, ‘mere failure to conform to parliamentary usage will not invalidate the action (taken by a deliberative body) when the requisite number of members have agreed to a particular measure.16
Thus, in Fariñas, the Court's refusal to go behind the enrolled bill was based on the fact that the alleged irregularities that attended the passage of R.A. No. 9006 merely involved the internal rules of both houses of Congress. The procedural irregularities allegedly committed by the conference committee therein did not amount to a violation of a provision of the Constitution.17

In contrast, the act of the Bicameral Conference Committee of deleting the "no pass on provision" of SB 1950 and HB 3705 infringe Article VI, Section 26(2) of the Constitution. The violation of this constitutional provision warrants the exercise by the Court of its constitutionally-ordained power to strike down any act of a branch or instrumentality of government or any of its officials done with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.18

ACCORDINGLY, I join the concurring and dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno and vote to dismiss the petitions with respect to Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Republic Act No. 9337 for being premature. Further, I vote to declare as unconstitutional Section 21 thereof and the deletion of the "no pass on provision" contained in the constituent bills of Republic Act No. 9337.

Endnotes:


1 G.R. No. 115455, 25 August 1994, 235 SCRA 630.

2Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, supra, at 667-668.

3 See, for example, Vermuele, A., The Constitutional Law of Congressional Procedure, 71 U. Chi. L. Rev. 361 (Spring 2004).

4 Galloway, G., Congress at the Crossroads, pp. 98-100.

5 Bernas SJ, J., The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, A Commentary, pp. 702-703 (1996 Ed.).

6 Dissenting Opinion of Justice Romero in Tolentino, supra.

7 Vermuele, supra.

8Id. citing Bentham, J., Political Tactics.

9 Senators Ralph G. Recto, Joker P. Arroyo, Manuel B. Villar, Richard J. Gordon, Rodolfo G. Biazon, Edgardo G. Angara, M.A. Madrigal, Sergio R. Osmena III, Juan Ponce Enrile.

10 Senators Recto, Villar, Gordon, Biazon.

11 Representatives Jesli A. Lapus, Danilo E. Suarez, Arnulfo P. Fuentebella, Eric D. Singson, Junie E. Cua, Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., Salacnib Baterina, Edcel C. Lagman, Luis R. Villafuerte, Herminio G. Teves, Eduardo G. Gullas, Joey Sarte Salceda, Prospero C. Nograles, Exequiel B. Javier, Rolando G. Andaya, Jr., Guillermo P. Cua, Arthur D. Defensor, Raul V. Del Mar, Ronaldo B. Zamora, Rolex P. Suplico, Jacinto V. Paras, Vincent P. Crisologo, Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Joseph Santiago, Oscar G. Malapitan, Catalino Figueroa, Antonino P. Roman and Imee R. Marcos.

12 Representatives Suarez, Fuentebella, Cua, Locsin, Jr., Teves, Gullas, Javier, Cua, Defensor, Crisologo, Cayetano, Santiago, Malapitan and Marcos.

13 Representatives Del Mar, Suplico and Paras.

14 Dissenting Opinion in Tolentino, supra.

15 G.R. No. 147387, 10 December 2003, 417 SCRA 503.

16Id., pp. 529-530. (Emphases mine.)

17 By way of explanation, the constitutional issues raised in Fariñas were (1) whether Section 14 of R.A. No. 9006 was a rider or that it violated Article VI, Section 26(1) of the Constitution requiring that "[e]very bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof;" and (2) whether Section 14 of R.A. No. 9006 violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution. On both issues the Court ruled in the negative. To reiterate, unlike in the present cases, the acts of the conference committee with respect to R.A. No. 9006 in Fariñas allegedly violated the internal rules of either house of Congress, but it was not alleged therein that they amounted to a violation of any constitutional provision on legislative procedure.

18 Article VIII, Section 1, CONSTITUTION.



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  • G.R. No. 156581 - Victoria R. Arambulo, et al. v. Emerenciana R. Gungab.

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  • G.R. No. 157845 - Philippine National Bank v. Norman Y. Pike.

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  • G.R. No. 158566 - Josephine Orola, et al. v. The Rural Bank of Pontevedra, Inc., et al.

  • G.R. No. 159212 - Navotas Industrial Corporation v. German D. Cruz, et al.

  • G.R. No. 160396 - Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Employees Hired after July 1, 1989, v. Commission on Audit, et al.

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  • G.R. No. 161400 - Zenaida Ortega, et al. v. The Quezon City Government, et al.

  • G.R. No. 161223 - Virgilio A. Cadungog v. Jocelyn O. Yap.

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  • G.R. No. 161745 - Leamer Industries, Inc. v. Malayan Insurance Co., Inc.

  • G.R. No. 163410 - Concepcion R. Anceta v. Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company, Inc., et al.

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  • G.R. No. 164250 - Office of the Ombudsman, et al. v. Atty. Gil A. Valera, et al.

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  • G.R. No. 165005 - Spouses Roberto and Natividad Valderama v. Salvacion V. Macalde.

  • G.R. No. 165306 - Manly Sportwear Manufacturing, Inc. v. Dadodette Enterprises, et al.

  • G.R. No. 165675 - Spouses Eduardo Sobrejuanite, et al. v. ASB Development Corporation.

  • G.R. No. 165889 - Sacobia Hills Development Corporation, et al. v. Allan U. Ty.

  • G.R. No. 166273 - Metro Rail Transit Corporation v. Court of Tax Appeals, et al.

  • G.R. No. 166365 - Duty Free Philippines v. Rossano J. Mojica.

  • G.R. No. 166550 - Robert C. Casol, et al. v. Purefoods Corporation.

  • G.R. NO. 167499 - Miles Andrew Mari Roces v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, et al.

  • CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : AZCUNA, J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et a

  • CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : CALLEJO, SR., J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita

  • CONCURRING OPINION : CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et al.

  • SEPARATE CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: - G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Ed

  • SEPARATE OPINION : PANGANIBAN, J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et al.

  • CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : PUNO, J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et al.

  • RESOLUTION : G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et al.

  • RESOLUTION : AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et al.

  • CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : SANDOVAL - GUTIERREZ, J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduard

  • DISSENTING and CONCURRING OPINION : TINGA, J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et al

  • CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Erm

  • G.R. No. 168168 - People of the Philippines v. Edgardo Dimaano

  • G.R. No. 168056, G.R. NO. 168207, G.R. NO. 168461, G.R. NO. 168463 and G.R. NO. 168730 - ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Honorable Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, et al.