Political Law Part IV – Declaration of Principles and State Policies



Section 1. The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.

a. The basic principles underlying the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.

b.Manifestations of a republican state.

c.   Define “state”


d.   Elements of a state. Define each:

1. people

2. territory

3. sovereignty

4. government

e. Different meanings of the word “people” as used      in the constitution:

1. as inhabitants (Art. XIII, Sec. 1; Art. III, Sec. 2);

2. as citizens (Preamble; Art. II, Sec. 1 & 4; Art. III, Sec. 7);

3. as voters (Art. VII, Sec. 4)

f. Presidential & parliamentary forms of government



The government of the Philippines under the 1973 Constitution is “essentially presidential with parliamentary features.”


The form of government is “essentially parliamentary with presidential features.”

g. Two-fold function of the government


        1)BACANI VS. NACOCO, 100 Phil. 468 (Ministrant [merely directory] and Constituent [Mandatory] Functions)

       2)   ACCFA VS. CUGCO, 30 SCRA 649

Due to complexities of the changing society, the two-fold function of the government as classified by President Wilson is no longer relevant.

h. Parents Patriae


1)   GOVT. VS. MONTE DE PIEDAD, 35 Phil 738

          2)   CABANAS VS. PILAPIO, 58 SCRA 94

i.   De jure govt.? De facto govt.?


1. AQUINO VS. COMELEC, 62 SCRA 275 (on the de jure aspect)  


A government formed as a result of a people’s revolution, is considered de jure if it is already accepted by the family of nations or other countries like the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and others.

3.           Estrada vs. Macapagal & Desierto, infra.

j. The three (3) kinds of de facto government?

Read: CO KIM CHAM VS. VALDEZ TAN KEH, 75 Phil. 113

There are several kinds of de facto governments.

a.           The first, or government de facto in a proper legal sense, is that government that gets possession and control of, or usurps, by force or by the voice of the majority, the rightful legal governments and maintains itself against the will of the latter, such as the government of England under the Commonwealth, first by Parliament and later by Cromwell as Protector.

b.           The second is that which is established and maintained by military forces who invade and occupy a territory of the enemy in the course of war, and which is denominated a government of paramount force, as the cases of Castine, in Maine, which was reduced to British possession in the war of 1812, and Tampico, Mexico, occupied during the war with Mexico, by the troops of the United States.

c.           And the third is that established as an independent government by the inhabitants of a country who rise in insurrection against the parent state of such as the government of the Southern Confederacy in revolt not concerned in the present case with the first kind, but only with the second and third kinds of de facto governments.

“But there is another description of government, called also by publicists a government de facto, but which might, perhaps, be more aptly denominated a government of paramount force. Its distinguishing characteristics are

(1), that its existence is maintained by active military power with the territories, and against the rightful authority of an established and lawful government; and

(2), that while it exists it necessarily be obeyed in civil matters by private citizens who, by acts of obedience rendered in submission to such force, do not become responsible, or wrongdoers, for those acts, though not warranted by the laws of the rightful government.

On the other hand, laws of a political nature or affecting political relations, such as, among others, the right of assembly, the right to bear arms, the freedom of the press, and the right to travel freely in the territory occupied, are considered as suspended or in abeyance during the military occupation. Although the local and civil administration of justice is suspended as a matter of course as soon as a country is militarily occupied, it is not usual for the invader to take the whole administration into his own hands. In practice, the local ordinary tribunals are authorized to continue administering justice; and judges and other judicial officers are kept in their posts if they accept the authority of the belligerent occupant or are required to continue in their positions under the supervision of the military or civil authorities appointed, by the Commander in Chief of the occupant. These principles and practice have the sanction of all publicists who have considered the subject, and have been asserted by the Supreme Court and applied by the President of the United States.

The doctrine upon this subject is thus summed up by Halleck, in his work on International Law (Vol. 2, p. 444): “The right of one belligerent to occupy and govern the territory of the enemy while in its military possession, is one of the incidents of war, and flows directly from the right to conquer. We, therefore, do not look to the Constitution or political institutions of the conqueror, for authority to establish a government for the territory of the enemy in his possession, during its military occupation, nor for the rules by which the powers of such government are regulated and limited. Such authority and such rules are derived directly from the laws war, as established by the usage of the of the world, and confirmed by the writings of publicists and decisions of courts  in fine, from the law of nations. . . . The municipal laws of a conquered territory, or the laws which regulate private rights, continue in force during military occupation, excepts so far as they are suspended or changed by the acts of conqueror. . . . He, nevertheless, has all the powers of a de facto government, and can at his pleasure either change the existing laws or make new ones.”

The governments by the Philippine Executive Commission and the Republic of the Philippines during the Japanese military occupation being de facto governments, it necessarily follows that the judicial acts and proceedings of the courts of justice of those governments, which are not of a political complexion, were good and valid, and, by virtue of the well-known principle of postliminy (postliminium) in international law, remained good and valid after the liberation or reoccupation of the Philippines by the American and Filipino forces under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur. According to that well-known principle in international law, the fact that a territory which has been occupied by an enemy comes again into the power of its legitimate government of sovereignty, “does not, except in a very few cases, wipe out the effects of acts done by an invader, which for one reason or another it is within his competence to do. Thus judicial acts done under his control, when they are not of a political complexion, administrative acts so done, to the extent that they take effect during the continuance of his control, and the various acts done during the same time by private persons under the sanction of municipal law, remain good. Were it otherwise, the whole social life of a community would be paralyzed by an invasion; and as between the state and the individuals the evil would be scarcely less,  it would be hard for example that payment of taxes made under duress should be ignored, and it would be contrary to the general interest that the sentences passed upon criminals should be annulled by the disappearance of the intrusive government .” (Hall, International Law, 7th ed., p. 518.) And when the occupation and the abandonment have been each an incident of the same war as in the present case, postliminy applies, even though the occupant has acted as conqueror and for the time substituted his own sovereignty as the Japanese intended to do apparently in granting independence to the Philippines and establishing the so-called Republic of the Philippines. (Taylor, International Law, p. 615.)

l.   Sovereignty:

1. legal

2. political

m.   The doctrine of sovereignty as auto-limitation?



“By the Agreement, it should be noted, the Philippine Government merely consents that the United States exercise jurisdiction in certain cases. The consent was given purely as a matter of comity, courtesy, or expediency. The Philippine Government has not abdicated its sovereignty over the bases as part of the Philippine territory or divested itself completely of jurisdiction over offenses committed therein. Under the terms of the treaty, the United States Government has prior or preferential but not exclusive jurisdiction of such offenses. The Philippine Government retains not only jurisdictional rights not granted, but also all such ceded rights as the United States Military authorities for reasons of their own decline to make use of. The first proposition is implied from the fact of Philippine sovereignty over the bases; the second from the express provisions of the treaty.”    “Nothing is better settled than that the Philippines being independent and sovereign, its authority may be exercised over its entire domain. There is no portion thereof that is beyond its power. Within its limits, its decrees are supreme, its commands paramount. Its laws govern therein, and everyone to whom it applies must submit to its terms. That is the extent of its jurisdiction, both territorial and personal. Necessarily, likewise, it has to be exclusive. If it were not thus, there is a diminution of sovereignty.”  Then came this paragraph dealing with the principle of auto-limitation: “It is to be admitted any state may, by its consent, express or implied, submit to a restriction of its sovereign rights. There may thus be a curtailment of what otherwise is a power plenary in character. That is the concept of sovereignty as auto-limitation, which, in the succinct language of Jellinek, “is the property of a state-force due to which it has the exclusive capacity of legal self-determination and self-restriction.” A state then, if it chooses to, may refrain from the exercise of what otherwise is illimitable competence.”  The opinion was at pains to point out though that even then, there is at the most diminution of jurisdictional rights, not its disappearance.

               2.  PEOPLE VS. GOZO, 53 SCRA 476

               3.   COMMISSIONER VS. ROBERTSON, 143 SCRA 397

2. Section 2. The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national police, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity among all nations.

a. difference between aggressive & defensive war

b. Read:

1)           MEJOFF VS. DIRECTOR OF PRISONS, 90 Phil. 70

The Philippines adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights since it is a generally accepted principle of international law. As such, it should be applied to illegal aliens like the petitioner so that it would be a violation of the said international law to detain him for an unreasonable length of time since no vessel from his country is willing to take him.

“The meaning of “reasonable time” depends upon the circumstances, specially the difficulties of obtaining a passport, the availability of transportation, the diplomatic arrangements concerned and the efforts displayed to send the deportee away. Considering that this Government desires to expel the alien, and does not relish keeping him at the people’s expense, we must presume it is making efforts to carry out the decree of exclusion by the highest officer of the land. On top of this presumption assurances were made during the oral argument that the Government is really trying to expedite the expulsion of this petitioner. On the other hand, the record fails to show how long he has been under confinement since the last time he was apprehended. Neither does he indicate neglected opportunities to send him abroad. And unless it is shown that the deportee is being indefinitely imprisoned under the pretense of awaiting a chance for deportation 3 or unless the Government admits that it can not deport him  or unless the detainee is being held for too long a period our courts will not interfere.

2)            KURODA VS. JALANDONI, 83 Phil 171

Petitioner argues that respondent Military Commission has no Jurisdiction to try petitioner for acts committed in violation of the Hague Convention on Rules and Regulations covering Land Warfare and the Geneva Convention because the Philippines is not a signatory to the first and signed the second only in 1947. It cannot be denied that the rules and regulation of the Hague and Geneva conventions form, part of and are wholly based on the generally accepted principals of international law. In facts these rules and principles were accepted by the two belligerent nation the United State and Japan who were signatories to the two Convention, Such rule and principles therefore form part of the law of our nation even if the Philippines was not a signatory to the conventions embodying them for our Constitution has been deliberately general and extensive in its scope and is not confined to the recognition of rule and principle of international law as continued inn treaties to which our government may have been or shall be a signatory.

Furthermore when the crimes charged against petitioner were allegedly committed the Philippines was under the sovereignty of United States and thus we were equally bound together with the United States and with Japan to the right and obligation contained in the treaties between the belligerent countries. These rights and obligation were not erased by our assumption of full sovereignty. If at all our emergency as a free state entitles us to enforce the right on our own of trying and punishing those who committed crimes against crimes against our people. In this connection it is well to remember what we have said in the case of Laurel vs. Misa (76 Phil., 372):

3)           SALONGA VS. HERMOSO, 97 SCRA 121

4)           AGUSTIN VS. EDU,  88 SCRA 195

The Geneva Convention on Road Signs and Signals, is also considered part of the law of the Philippines since the same is a generally accepted principle of international law in accordance with the Incorporation clause of the Constitution.

5)           REYES VS. BAGATSING,125 SCRA 553

Respondent Mayor posed the issue of the applicability of Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila prohibiting the holding or staging of rallies or demonstrations within a radius of five hundred (500) feet from any foreign mission or chancery and for other purposes. It is to be admitted that it finds support In the previously quoted Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. There was no showing, however, that the distance between the chancery and the embassy gate is less than 500 feet. Even if it could be shown that such a condition is satisfied. it does not follow that respondent Mayor could legally act the way he did. The validity of his denial of the permit sought could still be challenged. It could be argued that a case of unconstitutional application of such ordinance to the exercise of the right of peaceable assembly presents itself. As in this case there was no proof that the distance is less than 500 feet, the need to pass on that issue was obviated, Should it come, then the qualification and observation of Justices Makasiar and Plana certainly cannot be summarily brushed aside. The high estate accorded the rights to free speech and peaceable assembly demands nothing less.

Without saying that the Ordinance is obnoxious per se to the constitution, it cannot be validly invoked whenever its application would collide with a constitutionally guaranteed right such as freedom of assembly and/or expression, as in the case at bar, regardless of whether the chancery of any foreign embassy is beyond or within 500 feet from the situs of the rally or demonstration.

3. Section 3. Civilian authority is, at all times supreme over the military. The armed forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.

See also:

Art. VII, Sec. 18

Art. XVI, Sec. 5 (2)

Art. XVI, Sec. 5 (4)

4. Section 4. The prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people. The Government may call upon the people to defend the State and in the fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal and military service.


1.           PEOPLE VS. LAGMAN, 66 Phil. 13

“The appellant’s argument that he does not want to join the armed forces because “he does not want to kill or be killed” and that “he has no military inclination” is not acceptable because it is his obligation to join the armed forces in connection with the “defense of the State” provision of the Constitution.

2. PEOPLE VS. MANAYAO, 78 Phil. 721

3. PD1706, August 8, 1980

4. Exec. Order No. 264

 5.  Section 5. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.

6.  Section 6. The separation of church and State shall be inviolable.



     2)   GERMAN VS. BARANGAN, 135 SCRA 514

(NOTE: Read the dissenting opinions in    both cases)

3) Other provisions:

Other provisions on church & state:

1.           ART. III, Sec. 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. NO RELIGIOUS TEST SHALL BE REQUIRED FOR THE EXERCISE OF CIVIL OR POLITICAL RIGHTS.

2.           ART. VI, Sec. 28 (3). Charitable institutions, churches, mosques, non-profit cemeteries…actually, directly and exclusively used for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation.

3.           ART. VI, Sec. 29 .(2). No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, for the benefit, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination or religion, except when such priest, minister.. is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium.

4.           ART. IX, C, 2(5). Religious denominations and sects shall not be registered…as political parties. (NOTE: Religious organizations are also prohibited ion connection with sectoral representatives under Art. VI)

5.            ART. XIV, Sec. 3(3). At the option in writing by parents, religion shall be allowed to be taught to their children in elementary and high schools within the regular class hours by instructors designated or approved by religious authorities to which said children belong, without additional cost to the government.

7.           Sections 7.  The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be  national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination,

8.           Section 8. The Philippines, consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear  weapons in its territory.

1.           meaning of “nuclear-free” Philippines;

2.            Art. XVIII, Secs. 4 & 25

9.           Sections 9. The State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all..

10.         The state shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.

11.        The state values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.

a. Read together with entire provisions of Article XIII

12.         9.  Section 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civil efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support the support of the government.

NOTE: Father Bernas opines that this provision does not take a stand on divorce. As such, a Divorce Law to be passed by Congress may or may not be unconstitutional. But definitely, a law allowing  abortion ,  other than therapeutic, is unconstitutional.

1. Read together with the entire provisions of Article XV.

2.   Read:

a)           GINSBERG VS. NEW YORK, 390 US 629 (1969)

A law prohibiting the sale of “girlie magazines” [bold?) is constitutional and does not violate the above provision. This is so because parents could buy said magazines for their children if they believe the same is already suitable to the understanding of their child. This is in accordance with this provision which states that the parents have the “natural and primary right in rearing their child for civic efficiency…”

b)   MEYER VS. NEBRASKA, 260 US 260 (1922)

c)  PIERCE  VS. SOCIETY OF SISTERS, 268 US   510 (1925)

A law requiring small kids to be enrolled in public schools only is unconstitutional since it interferes with the right of parents in rearing their children. They have the right to choose which school is best suited for the development of their children without interference from the State.



10.  Section 13. The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.


1)  PD 684

2)  PD 935

3)  PD 1102

4)  PD 603; see the objectives of the law

11.        Sections 14. The State recognizes the role of women in nation building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of men and women.

12.        Section 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

13.        Section 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.

14.        Section 17. The State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote human liberation and development. 

1)   Read together with Article XIV

Read :


OPOSA VS. FACTORAN, July 30, 1993;

In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology which the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of “inter-generational responsibility” and “inter-generational justice.” Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have a cause of action to “prevent the misappropriation or impairment” of Philippine rainforests and “arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country’s vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth.”

The minors-petitioners have the personality to sue since the case deals with the timber licensing agreements entered into by the government which if not stopped would be prejudicial to their future. This is so because the DENR holds  in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations the natural resources of the country. The subject matter of the complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but to all citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough to ensure the full protection of all concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for the filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter being but an incident to the former.

Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter expounded, considers the “rhythm and harmony of nature.” Nature means the created world in its entirety. 9 Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country’s forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations.  Needless to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors’ assertion of their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come.

The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right  the right to a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our nation’s constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides:

Sec. 16.    The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.

This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same article:

Sec. 15.    The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation  aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners  the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come  generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.

The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment.

As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners’ cause of action as anchored on a legal right comprised in the constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of Article II of the Constitution are self-executing and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The implications of this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those implications are too large and far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here.

13.      Section 18.  The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.

1)   Read together with Section 3, Article XIII, 1987 Constitution.

2) Compare it with Section 9, Article II, 1973 Constitution.

3) Read:


The right to religion prevails over contractual or legal rights. As such, an Iglesia Ni Kristo member may refuse to join a Union and despite the fact that there is a closed shop agreement in the establishment where he was employed, his employment could not be validly terminated for his non-membership in the majority union therein.

13.  Section 19. The State shall develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos.

See Art. XII

14.      Section 20. The State recognizes the indispensable role of the private sector, encourages private enterprise, and provides incentives to needed investments.

a.   Do we practice the free enterprise system in the Philippines or is it the welfare state concept? Distinguish the two.

b.   Read:     ACCFA VS. CUGCO, 30 SCRA 649 (Note: Read the separate opinion of former Chief Justice ENRIQUE FERNANDO only)

The Philippines never practiced the free enterprise system. It is the welfare-state concept which is being followed as shown by the constitutional provision on agrarian reform, housing, protection to labor… (NOTE, however, that the 1987 Constitution have provisions which provide for  “free enterprise)


Mendoza, J.

The Philippine Constitutions, starting from the 1935 document, HAVE REPUDIATED  laissez faire  (or the doctrine of free enterprise) as an economic principle, and although the present Constitution enshrines free enterprise as a policy, it nevertheless reserves to the government the power to intervene whenever necessary to promote the general welfare.

As such, free enterprise does not call for the removal of “protective regulations” for the benefit of the general public. This is so because under Art. XII, Sections 6 and 9, it is very clear that the  government reserves the power to intervene whenever necessary to promote the general welfare and when the public interest so requires.

15.  Section 21. The State shall promote comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform.

a. Read together with Secs. 4-10, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution

b. Read PD 27 – as to the extent of land reform under the MARCOS regime

c. Read RA 3844 & 6389, as amended – THE CODE OF AGRARIAN REFORMS OF THE PHILIPPINES (Read the policy of the state on this matter)

d .Read the COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM PROGRAM LAW, RA No. 6657 as signed into law by the President on June 7, 1988.

e. Read:

Association of Small Landowners vs. Hon. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, July 14, 1989

16.  Sections 22.  The State recognizes and promotes the right of indigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development.

To be discussed later with Art. X, Secs. 15-     21.

Other provisions on indigenous cultural communities:

1. Art. VI, Sec. 5(2)

2. Art. X, Secs. 15 – 21

3. Art. XII, Sec. 5

4. Art. XIII, Sec. 6

5. Art. XIV, Sec. 17

6. Art. XVI, Sec. 12

17. Section 23. The State shall encourage non-governmental, community based, or sectoral organizations that promote the welfare of the nation.

17-a. Section 24. The State recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation-building.

18.  Section 25. The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments.

a. Define “autonomy”

b. See Art. X

Read  the 1991  New Local Government Code and enumerate its provisions evidencing “autonomy” to local government units.

19.  Section 26. The State guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.

20.  Section 27. The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.

To be discussed under Article XI.

a. Please see RA 3019, The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended by RA 3047, PD 77 and BP 195..

b. PD 749, July 18, 1975, which grants immunity from prosecution to givers of bribes and other gifts and to their accomplices in bribery other than graft cases against public officers.

c. RA 1379.  Forfeiture in favor of the State any property found to have been illegally acquired by a public officer or employee.

21.        Section 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of public  disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.

Power of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation;  Public disclosure of government transactions

  CAMILO L. SABIO vs. GORDON, G.R. No. 174340,  October 17, 2006, 504 SCRA 704

Sandoval-Gutierrez, J.

The Facts:

On February 20, 2006, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago introduced Philippine Senate Resolution No. 455 (Senate Res. No. 455),[1][4] “directing an inquiry in aid of legislation on the anomalous losses incurred by the Philippines Overseas Telecommunications Corporation (POTC),  Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (PHILCOMSAT), and PHILCOMSAT Holdings Corporation (PHC) due to the alleged improprieties in their operations by their respective Board of Directors.”    The pertinent portions of the Resolution read:

WHEREAS, in the last quarter of 2005, the representation and entertainment expense of the PHC skyrocketed to P4.3 million, as compared to the previous year’s mere P106 thousand;

WHEREAS, some board members established wholly owned PHC subsidiary called Telecommunications Center, Inc. (TCI), where PHC funds are allegedly siphoned; in 18 months, over P73 million had been allegedly advanced to TCI without any accountability report given to PHC and PHILCOMSAT;

WHEREAS, the Philippine Star, in its 12 February 2002 issue reported that the executive committee of Philcomsat has precipitately released P265 million and granted P125 million loan to a relative of an executive committee member; to date there have been no payments given, subjecting the company to an estimated interest income loss of P11.25 million in 2004;

WHEREFORE, be it resolved that the proper Senate Committee shall conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation, on the anomalous losses incurred by the Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Corporation (POTC), Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (PHILCOMSAT), and Philcomsat Holdings Corporations (PHC) due to the alleged improprieties in the operations by their respective board of directors.

On May 8, 2006, Chief of Staff  Rio C. Inocencio, under the authority of Senator Richard J. Gordon, wrote Chairman Camilo L. Sabio of the PCGG, one of the herein petitioners, inviting him to be one of the resource persons in the public meeting jointly conducted by the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and Committee on Public Services.  The purpose of the public meeting was to deliberate on Senate Res. No. 455.[2][6]

On May 9, 2006, Chairman Sabio declined the invitation because of prior commitment.[3][7] At the same time, he invoked Section 4(b) of           E.O. No. 1 earlier quoted.

On August 10, 2006, Senator Gordon issued a Subpoena Ad Testificandum,[4][8] approved by Senate President Manuel Villar, requiring Chairman Sabio and PCGG Commissioners Ricardo Abcede, Nicasio Conti, Tereso Javier and Narciso Nario to appear in the public hearing scheduled on August 23, 2006 and testify on what they know relative to the matters specified in Senate Res. No. 455.   All were disregarded by the petitioners.

On September 12, 2006, at around 10:45 a.m., Major General Balajadia arrested Chairman Sabio in his office at IRC Building, No. 82 EDSA, Mandaluyong City and brought him to the Senate premises where he was detained.

Hence, Chairman Sabio filed with the Supreme Court a petition for habeas corpus against the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and Committee on Public Services, their Chairmen, Senators Richard Gordon and Joker P. Arroyo and Members.  The case was docketed as G.R. No. 174340.

Chairman Sabio, Commissioners Abcede, Conti,  Nario, and Javier; and the PCGG’s nominees Andal and Jalandoni alleged: first, respondent Senate Committees disregarded Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 without any justifiable reason; second, the inquiries conducted by respondent Senate Committees are  not in aid of legislation; third, the inquiries were conducted in the absence of duly published Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation; and fourth, respondent Senate Committees are not vested with the power of contempt.

In their Consolidated Comment, the above-named respondents countered: first, the issues raised in the petitions involve political questions over which this Court has no jurisdiction; second, Section 4(b) has been repealed by the Constitution; third, respondent Senate Committees are vested with contempt power; fourth,  Senate’s Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation have been duly published;  fifth, respondents have not violated any civil right of the individual petitioners, such as their (a) right to privacy; and (b) right against self-incrimination; and sixth, the inquiry does not constitute undue encroachment into justiciable controversies.

I S S U E:

Is  Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1  repealed by the 1987 Constitution? Is its implementation wherein the petitioners are exempt from appearing in investigations involving their transactions violates Section 28, Art. II of the Constitution?

Section 4(b) of E.O. No.1,  which limits the power of legislative inquiry by exempting all PCGG members or staff from testifying in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding provides:

No member or staff of the Commission shall be required to testify or produce evidence in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding concerning matters within its official cognizance.

The Congress’ power of inquiry has been recognized in foreign jurisdictions long before it reached our shores through McGrain v. Daugherty,[5][15] cited in Arnault v. Nazareno.[6][16]  In those earlier days, American courts considered the power of inquiry as inherent in the power to legislate.

In Arnault, the Supreme Court adhered to a similar theoryCiting McGrain, it recognized that the power of inquiry is “an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function,” thus:

Although there is no provision in the “Constitution expressly investing either House of Congress with power to make investigations and exact testimony to the end that it may exercise its legislative functions advisedly and effectively, such power is so far incidental to the legislative function as to be implied.  In other words, the power of inquiry – with process to enforce it – is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.  A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislation body does not itself possess the requisite information – which is not infrequently true – recourse must be had to others who possess it.

Certainly, a mere provision of law cannot pose a limitation to the broad power of Congress, in the absence of any constitutional basis.

Furthermore, Section 4(b) is also inconsistent with Article XI,     Section 1 of the Constitution stating that: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.

The provision presupposes that since an incumbent of a public office is invested with certain powers and charged with certain duties pertinent to sovereignty, the powers so delegated to the officer are held in trust for the people and are to be exercised in behalf of the government or of all citizens who may need the intervention of the officers. Such trust extends to all matters within the range of duties pertaining to the office. In other words, public officers are but the servants of the people, and not their rulers.[7][24] 

Section 4(b), being in the nature of an immunity, is inconsistent with the principle of public accountability.   It places the PCGG members and staff beyond the reach of courts, Congress and other administrative bodies.  Instead of encouraging public accountability, the same provision only institutionalizes irresponsibility and non-accountability.  In Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Peña,[8][25] Justice Florentino P. Feliciano characterized as “obiter” the portion of the majority opinion barring, on the basis of Sections 4(a) and (b) of E.O. No. 1, a civil case for damages filed against the PCGG and its Commissioners. He eloquently opined:

The above underscored portions are, it is respectfully submitted, clearly obiter. It is important to make clear that the Court is not here interpreting, much less upholding as valid and constitutional, the literal terms of Section 4 (a), (b) of Executive Order No.1. If Section 4 (a) were given its literal import as immunizing the PCGG or any member thereof from civil liability “for anything done or omitted in the discharge of the task contemplated by this Order,” the constitutionality of Section 4 (a) would, in my submission, be open to most serious doubt. For so viewed, Section 4 (a) would institutionalize the irresponsibility and non-accountability of members and staff of the PCGG, a notion that is clearly repugnant to both the 1973 and 1987 Constitution and a privileged status not claimed by any other official of the Republic under the 1987 Constitution. x  x  x.

x    x   x

It would seem constitutionally offensive to suppose that a member or staff member of the PCGG could not be required to testify before the Sandiganbayan or that such members were exempted from complying with orders of this Court.    

Said provision of EO No. 1 violates Section 28, Art. II of the Constitution which mandates  that “Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”

Read together with Section 7, Article III and Sec. 20, Art. VI of the 1987 Constitution.



Political Law Reviewer by Atty. Larry D. Gacayan

College of Law, University of the Cordilleras

Baguio City

[1][4]      Annex “E” of the Petition in G.R. No. 174318.

[2][6]      Annex “F” of the Petition in G.R. No. 174318.

[3][7]      Annex “G” of the Petition in G.R. No. 174318.

[4][8]      Annex “A” of the Petition in G.R. No. 174318.

[5][15]     273 U.S. 135, 47 S. Ct. 319, 71 L. Ed. 580, 50 A.L.R. 1 (1927).

[6][16]     No. L- 3820, 87 Phil. 29 (1950).

[7][24]     De Leon, De Leon, Jr. The Law on Public Officers and  Election Law, p. 2.

[8][25]     No. L-77663, April 12, 1988, 159 SCRA 558.


About Magz

First of all, I am not a lawyer. I'm a graduate of AB Political Science and went to the College of Law but stopped going to law school for some reasons. I'm a passionate teacher who has been teaching English to speakers of other languages and a person who likes writing and blogging. I lost some important files and software when my computer broke down so the reason I created this website is to preserve the notes, reviewers and digests I collected when I was at the law school and at the same time, I want to help out law students who do not have enough time to go and read books in the library.

Posted on May 9, 2011, in Political Law and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Atty. Gacayan is our professor in Consti Law this Semester at UC. Thank you for posting this.

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