Political Law (Constitutional Law) – Article VIII





1. Judicial power is the authority to settle justiciable controversies or disputes involving rights that are enforceable and demandable before the courts of justice or the redress of wrongs for violations of such rights.

2.  Vested in the Supreme Court and such lower courts as may be established by law.

3. Since the courts are given ‘judicial power’ and nothing more, courts may neither attempt to assume or be compelled to perform non-judicial functions.  They may not be charged with administrative functions except when reasonably incidental to the fulfillment of their duties.

4.  In order that courts may exercise this power, there must exist the following:

  1. An actual controversy with legally demandable and enforceable rights;
  2. Involving real parties in interest;
  3. The exercise of such power will bind the parties by virtue of the court’s application of existing laws.

5.  Judicial power cannot be exercised in vacuum.  Without any laws from which rights arise and which are violated, there can be no recourse to the courts.

6.  The courts cannot be asked for advisory opinions.

7.  Judicial power includes:

  1. The duty of the courts to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable; and
  1. To determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.

Political Questions:

1.  A ‘political question’ is one the resolution of which has been vested by the Constitution exclusively in either the people, in the exercise of their sovereign capacity, or in which full discretionary authority has been delegated to a co-equal branch of the Government.

2.  Thus, while courts can determine questions of legality with respect to governmental action, they cannot review government policy and the wisdom thereof, for these questions have been vested by the Constitution in the Executive and Legislative Departments.


1.  Defining enforceable and demandable rights and prescribing remedies for violations of such rights; and

2.  Determining the court with jurisdiction to hear and decide controversies or disputes arising from legal rights.

3.  Thus, Congress has the power to define, prescribe and apportion the jurisdiction of various courts.

  1. BUT, Congress cannot deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over cases provided for in the Constitution.
  2. Creation and abolition of courts:
    1. The power to create courts implies the power to abolish and even re-organize courts.
    2. BUT this power cannot be exercised in a manner which would undermine the security of tenure of the judiciary.
    3. If the abolition/re-organization is done in good faith and not for political or personal reasons, then it is VALID.  (same rule applies for civil servants)


  1. The entire judiciary shall enjoy fiscal autonomy.
  2. Annual appropriations for the judiciary cannot be reduced below the amount appropriated for the previous year.
  3. Once approved, appropriations shall be automatically and regularly released.

Secs. 4-7; 12 JUDICIARY

Composition of the Supreme Court:

  1. Chief Justice and
  2. 14 Associate Justices

Note:  Members of the Supreme Court and of other courts established by law shall not be designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.

Qualifications of members of the SC:

1.  Natural born citizen of the Philippines

2.  At least 40 years old

3.  At least 15 years of experience as a judge or in the practice of law in the Philippines

4.  Person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.

Qualifications of members of lower collegiate courts (CA, CTA, Sandiganbayan)

1.  Natural born citizen of the Philippines

2.  Member of the Philippine bar

3.  Possesses other qualifications prescribed by Congress

4.  Person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.

Qualifications of judges of lower non-collegiate courts:

1.  Citizen of the Philippines (may be a naturalized citizen)

2.  Member of the Philippine Bar

3.  Possesses other qualifications prescribed by Congress

4.  Person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.


1.  The Judicial and Bar Council is under the supervision of the SC.

A.  Is under the supervision of the Supreme Court and is composed of:

  1. Chief Justice, as ex-officio chairman
  2. Secretary of Justice, as an ex-officio member
  3. Representative of Congress, as an ex-officio member
  4. Representative of the Integrated Bar
  5. A professor of law
  6. A retired member of the SC; and
  7. Private sector representative

Note:  The last four re the regular members of the JBC.  Regular members are appointed by the President with CA approval.  Regular members serve for 4 years, with staggered terms.

B.  Functions of JBC

  1. Principal function:  recommend appointees to the Judiciary
  2. Exercise such other functions as the SC may assign to it.

C.  Appointments to the Judiciary  

  1. President shall appoint from a list of at least 3 nominees for each vacancy, as prepared by the JBC.
  2. No CA confirmation is needed for appointments to the Judiciary.
  3. Vacancies in SC should be filled within 90 days from the occurrence of the vacancy.
  4. Vacancies in lower courts should be filled within 90 days from submission to the President of the JBC list.

Sec. 10.  SALARIES

1.  Salaries of SC Justices and judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law.

2.  Cannot be decreased during their continuance in office, but can be increased.

3.  Members of the Judiciary are NOT exempt from payment of income tax.


1.  Members of the SC and judges of the lower courts hold office during good behavior until

a.  The age of 70 years old; or

b.  They become incapacitated to discharge their duties.

2.  Disciplinary action against judges of lower courts:

a.  Only the SC en banc has jurisdiction to discipline or dismiss judges of lower courts.

b.  Disciplinary action/dismissal:  Majority vote of SC Justices who took part in the deliberations and voted therein.

3.  Removal of SC Justices:

a.  Only by IMPEACHMENT.

b.  Cannot be disbarred while they hold office.

Secs. 4-6, 13.  THE SUPREME COURT

Hearing of cases:

  1. En banc; or
  2. Divisions of 3, 5, or 7.

Cases required to be heard en banc:

1.  All cases involving constitutionality of a/an:

a.  Treaty

b.  International or executive agreement or

c.  Law.

2.  All cases required to be heard en banc under the Rules of Court:

a.  Appeals from Sandiganbayan; and

b.  From the Constitutional Commissions

3.  All cases involving the constitutionality, application or operation of

a.  Presidential decrees

b.  Proclamations

c.  Orders

d.  Instructions

e.  Ordinances; and

f.   Other regulations.

4.  Cases heard by a division where required majority of 3 was not obtained.

5.  Cases where SC modifies or reverses a doctrine or principle of law laid down by the SC en banc or by a division.

6.  Administrative cases to discipline or dismiss judges of lower courts; and

7.  Election contests for President and Vice-President.

Cases heard by division

1.  Must be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the members who took part in the deliberations and voted thereon.

2.  Majority vote in a division should be at least 3 members.

Powers of the SC

1.  SC has ORIGINAL jurisdiction over

a.  Cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls.

Note:  This refers to foreign ambassadors, etc., stationed in the Philippines.

b.  Petitions for certiorari, prohibiton, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.

2.  SC has APPELLATE jurisdiction over final judgments and orders in the following:

a.  All cases involving the constitutionality or validity of any

  1. treaty
  2. international or executive agreement
  3. law
  4. presidential decree
  5. proclamation
  6. order
  7. instruction
  8. ordinance, or
  9. regulation;

b.  All cases involving the legality of any

  1. tax
  2. impost
  3. assessment or
  4. toll or
  5. any penalty imposed in relation thereto;

c.  All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue

d. Criminal cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher; and

e.  All cases where ONLY errors or questions of law are involved.

3.  Temporarily assign lower court judges to other stations in the public interest.

Note:  Temporary assignment shall not exceed 6 months without the consent of the judge concerned.

4.  Order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

5.  Promulgate rules concerning:

a.  The protection and enforcement of constitutional rights;

b.  Pleading, practice and procedure in all courts;

c.  Admission to the practice of law;

d.  The Integrated Bar; and

e.  Legal assistance to the underprivileged.

Limitations on Rule Making Power

a. It should provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases.

b.  It should be uniform for all courts of the same grade.

c.  It should not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights.

6.  Appoint ALL officials and employees of the Judiciary, in accordance with Civil Service Law.

7. Exercise administrative supervision over ALL courts and the personnel thereof.

Decisions of the Supreme Court:

1. Reached in consultation before being assigned to a member for the writing of the opinion.

2. A certification to this effect must be signed by the Chief Justice and attached to the record of the case and served upon the parties.

3. Members of the SC who took no part, or who dissented or abstained must state the reasons therefore.

Note:  This procedure shall also be observed by all lower collegiate courts (CA, CTA, and the Sandiganbayan).



1.  Judicial Review is the power of the SC to declare a law, treaty, ordinance etc. unconstitutional.

2.    Lower courts may also exercise the power of judicial review, subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the SC.

3.   Only SC decisions are precedent, and thus, only SC decisions are binding on all.

Requisites                                            Code:   [A R S Co R]

1.  An ACTUAL CASE calling for the exercise of judicial power

2.  The question involved must be RIPE FOR ADJUDICATION, i.e. the government act must have had an adverse effect on the person challenging it.

3.  The person challenging the governmental act must have ‘STANDING’, i.e. a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement.

4.  The question of Constitutionality must be raised in the first instance, or at the earliest opportunity.

5.  Resolution of the issue of constitutionality is unavoidable or is the very lis mota.

Effect of a declaration of unconstitutionality:

1.  Prior to the declaration that a particular law is unconstitutional, it is considered as an ‘operative fact’ which at that time had to be complied with.

2.  Thus, vested rights may have been acquired under such law before it was declared unconstitutional.

3. These rights are not prejudiced by the subsequent declaration that the law is unconstitutional.


1.  Decisions MUST state clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.

2.  Refusal to give due course to petitions for review and motions for reconsideration must state the legal basis for such refusal.

3.  Memorandum decisions, where the appellate court adopts the findings of fact and law of the lower court, are allowed as long as the decision adopted by reference is attached to the Memorandum for easy reference.

4.  These rules only apply to courts.  They do not apply to quasi-judicial or administrative bodies nor to military tribunals.



Political Law (Constitutional Law) Reviewer & Memory Aid

Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001

Louie, Carrie, Evelyn, Thel, Gem, Ronald


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 December 20, 2011, in Constitutional Law, Political Law and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Question is this article base on 1987 constitution ?

  2. can you give me pls. the explanation of the article 8 section 12?

  3. Thank you so much for this one. It greatly helped me. By the way, do you have an explanation for Articles 15 and 16?

  4. can you give me the explanation of article 13-16????

  5. can you give me the explanation of acticle 8 …section 13-16 ????? reply need your help…asap….thankss….

  6. can you please give us the explanation of section 15

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: