Pre-Bar Quizzer in Political Law – Part I: Constitution of Government 41-50
41. May a person validly refuse to honor an invitation to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in connection with its alleged investigation “in aid of legislation”?
Yes. In Bengzon, Jr. vs. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Nov. 20, 1991, it was held that “the power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is not, absolute or unlimited. “The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected.” It follows then that the rights of persons under the Bill of Rights must be respected, including the right to due process and the right not to be compelled to testify against one’s self. But broad as is this power of inquiry, it is not unlimited. There is no general authority to expose the private affairs of individuals without justification in terms of the functions of Congress. Nor is the Congress a law enforcement or trial agency. These are functions of the executive and judicial departments of government. No inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to and in furtherance of a legitimate task of Congress. Investigations conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to “punish” those investigated are indefensible.
41. May local legislative bodies validly cite a person in contempt of court (as what Congress could do) for refusing to appear therein or to answer the questions of the members thereof?
No. In NEGROS ORIENTAL II ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE VS. SANGGUNIANG PANGLUNGSOD OF DUMAGUETE CITY, G.R. No. 72492, Nov. 5, 1987, 155 SCRA 421, the Supreme Court held that such power was not delegated by Congress to local government units.
42. What are the bills that must exclusively originate from the House of Representatives?
Under Section 24, Art. VI, All appropriations, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. (NOTE: In Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance, the Supreme Court held that the E-VAT Law is constitutional even if the same was the VERSION which came from the Senate, not from the House of Representatives. This is so because the Senate is allowed to “propose amendments” to bills which must exclusively originate from the House of Representatives.)
43. When is transfer of appropriations allowed by the Constitution?
Only those covered by Section 25  which provides that “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the house of Representatives, the Chief justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of the constitutional commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”
44. What is the so-called “executive impoundment”?
It means that although an item of appropriation is not vetoed by the President, he however refuses for whatever reason, to spend funds made possible by Congress. It is the failure to spend or obligate budget authority of any type. Proponents of impoundment have invoked at least three (3) principal sources of authority of the President.  authority to impound given to him by Congress, either expressly or impliedly;  the executive power drawn from his power as Commander-in-chief; and  the Faithful execution clause of the Constitution. Note that in this case the SC held that the Countryside Development Fund (CDF) or “Pork Barrel” of Congressmen and Senators is CONSTITUTIONAL because the same is “set aside for ‘infrastructure, purchase of ambulances and computers and other priority projects and activities, and credit facilities to qualified beneficiaries as proposed and identified by said Senators and Congressmen. (PHILCONSA VS. ENRIQUEZ, 235 SCRA 506)
45. May the President refuse to enforce a law on the ground that in his opinion it is unconstitutional?
No. Otherwise, he will be violating the doctrine of separation of powers because by doing so, he will be arrogating unto himself the power to interpret the law, not merely to implement it. (L.S. MOON & CO. VS. HARRISON, 43 Phil.38)
2) GOV’T. VS. SPRINGER, 50 Phil. 529, read also the separate opinion.
46. The President of the Philippines, by Administrative Order, mandates the “ADOPTION OF A NATIONAL COMPUTERIZED IDENTIFICATION REFERENCE SYSTEM” and appropriating funds therefore?Is this within his “executive power”?
No as held by the Supreme Court in BLAS OPLE VS. RUBEN TORRES, ET AL., G.R. No. 127685, July 23, 1998, the AO establishes a system of identification that is all-encompassing in scope, affects the life and liberty of every Filipino citizens and foreign residents and therefore, it is supposed to be a law passed by Congress that implements it, not by an Administrative Order issued by the President. Administrative Power, which is supposed to be exercised by the President, is concerned with the work of applying policies and enforcing orders as determined by proper governmental organs. It enables the President to fix a uniform standard of administrative efficiency and check the official conduct of his agents. Prescinding from the foregoing precepts, AO 308 involves a subject that is not appropriate to be covered by an Administrative Order. An administrative order is an ordinance issued by the President which relates to specific aspects in the administrative operation of the government. It must be in harmony with the law and should be for the sole purpose of implementing the law and carrying out the legislative policy. The subject of AO 308 therefore is beyond the power of the President to issue and it is a usurpation of legislative power.
47. What is the “totality test” used by the Supreme Court in holding that former President Joseph Estrada resigned as President on January 20, 2007?
THIS IS THE TOTALITY TEST, THE TOTALITY OF PRIOR, CONTEMPORANEOUS AND POSTERIOR FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE BEARING MATERIAL RELEVANCE TO THE ISSUE.
48. Is President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a de jure or a de facto President? If de jure, how did she succeed? Resignation or permanent disability of former President Estrada?
Since both Houses of Congress had recognized that Arroyo is the President when they passed Resolution “expressing their support to the administration of Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President of the Philippines” which was passed on January 24, 2001; another resolution dated January 24, 2001 “expressing full support to the assumption into office by VP Arroyo as President of the Philippines”; and the Resolution dated February 7, 2001 “confirming President Arroyo’s nomination of Senator Teopisto Guingona, Jr. as Vice President of the Philippines”, her government is de jure.
49. May the President makes appointment to vacancies in the judiciary within two months immediately before the next presidential election and up to the end of his term” in order to comply with the requirement of Sections 4 and 8, Art. VIII for him to fill up vacancies in the judiciary within 90 days from the submission of the list of nominees by the Judicial and Bar Council?
No. Section 15, Article VII applies only to temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety and not to the judiciary.
50. What appointments made by the President shall be the subject of confirmation by the Commission on Appointments?
Only those covered by the 1st sentence of Section 16, Art. VII which are the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers are vested in him in this Constitution.
Pre-Bar Quizzer in Political Law (Doctrinal Rulings, Requisites and Definitions) July, 2008 by Atty. Larry D. Gacayan
College of Law, University of the Cordilleras
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