Sunday, September 16, 2012

Case Digest Compendium in Political law

Political Law Case Digests



G.R. No. 163858. June 28, 2005

Facts: UNILAB hired a private investigator to investigate a place purported to be manufacturing fake UNILAB products, especially Revicon multivitamins. The agent took some photographs where the clandestine manufacturing operation was taking place. UNILAB then sought the help of the NBI, which thereafter filed an application for the issuance of search warrant in the RTC of Manila. After finding probable cause, the court issued a search warrant directing the police to seize “finished or unfinished products of UNILAB, particularly REVICON multivitamins.” No fake Revicon was however found; instead, sealed boxes where seized, which, when opened contained 60 ml bottles of Disudrin and 200mg tablets of Inoflox, both were brands used by UNILAB. NBI prayed that some of the sized items be turned over to the custody of the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) for examination. The court granted the motion. The respondents then filed a motion to quash the search warrant or to suppress evidence, alleging that the seized items are considered to be fruit of a poisonous tree, and therefore inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding, which the petitioners opposed alleging that the boxes of Disudrin and Inoflox were seized under the plain view doctrine. The court, however, granted the motion of the respondents.

Issue: Whether or not the seizure of the sealed boxes which, when opened, contained Disudrin syrup and Inoflox, were valid under the plain view doctrine.

Held: It is true that things not described in the warrant may be seized under the plain view doctrine. However, seized things not described in the warrant cannot be presumed as plain view. The State must adduce evidence to prove that the elements for the doctrine to apply are present, namely: (a) the executing law enforcement officer has a prior justification for an initial intrusion or otherwise properly in a position from which he can view a particular order; (b) the officer must discover incriminating evidence inadvertently; and (c) it must be immediately apparent to the police that the items they observe may be evidence of a crime, contraband, or otherwise subject to seizure
It was thus incumbent on the NBI and the petitioner to prove that the items were seized on plain view. It is not enough that the sealed boxes were in the plain view of the NBI agents. However, the NBI failed to present any of officers who were present when the warrant was enforced to prove that the the sealed boxes was discovered inadvertently, and that such boxes and their contents were incriminating and immediately apparent. It must be stressed that only the enforcing officers had personal knowledge whether the sealed boxes and their contents thereof were incriminating and that they were immediately apparent. There is even no showing that the NBI agents knew the contents of the sealed boxes before they were opened. In sum then, the petitioner and the NBI failed to prove that the plain view doctrine applies to the seized items.


G.R. No. 143372 December 13, 2005

Facts: On 30 September 1990, a news item appeared in the People’s Journal claiming that a certain Francis Thoenen, a Swiss national who allegedly shoots wayward neighbors’ pets that he finds in his domain. It also claimed that BF Homes residents, in a letter through lawyer Atty. Efren Angara, requested for the deportation of Thoenen to prevent the recurrence of such incident in the future. Thoenen claimed that the article destroyed the respect and admiration he enjoyed in the community. He is seeking for damages.
The petitioners admitted publication of the news item, ostensibly out of a “social and moral duty to inform the public on matters of general interest, promote the public good and protect the moral public (sic) of the people,” and that the story was published in good faith and without malice.

Issue: Whether or not the news report fall under privileged communication and therefore protected by the constitutional provision on freedom of speech.

Held: The right of free speech is not absolute. Libel is not protected speech. In the instant case, even if we assume that the letter written by Atty. Angara is privileged communication, it lost its character when the matter was published in the newspaper and circulated among the general population, especially since the individual alleged to be defamed is neither a public official nor a public figure.
Moreover, the news item contained falsehoods on two levels. First, the BF Homes residents did not ask for the deportation of Thoenen, more so because the letter of the Atty. Anagara was a mere request for verification of Thoenen’s status as a foreign resident. The article is also untrue because the events she reported never happened. Worse, the main source of information, Atty. Efren Angara, apparently either does not exist, or is not a lawyer.
There is no constitutional value in false statements of fact. Neither the intentional lie nor the careless error materially advances society’s interest in ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open’ debate. Calculated falsehood falls into that class of utterances which “are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality… The knowingly false statement and the false statement made with reckless disregard of the truth, do not enjoy constitutional protection”


G.R. No. 146706. July 15, 2005

Facts: On June 3, 1994, a Special Mission Group from the PAF Special Operations Squadron conducted routine surveillance operations at the Manila Domestic Airport to check on reports of alleged drug trafficking and smuggling being facilitated by certain PAL personnel. They were ordered to keep close watch on the second airplane, an Airbus 300 parked inside the Domestic Airport terminal. At around 11:30 that same evening, three (3) persons had boarded the Airbus 300. The team did not move, but continued its surveillance. At 12:15 a.m. the team leader reported that the three (3) persons who earlier boarded the Airbus 300 had disembarked with their abdominal areas bulging and then boarded an airplane tow truck with its lights off. At the Lima Gate of the Domestic Airport, the team blocked and stopped the tow truck. The team leader identified himself and asked the four (4) persons on board to alight, and approached Aurelio Mandin whose uniform was partly open, showing a girdle. Then, a package wrapped in brown packaging tape fell. Suspecting that the package contained smuggled items, the leader yelled to his teammates, “Positive!” Thereupon, the rest of the team surrounded petitioner and his two co-accused who surrendered without a fight. The team searched their bodies and found that the three were wearing girdles beneath their uniforms, all containing packets wrapped in packaging tape. Mandin yielded five (5) packets, while petitioner and Santos had four (4) each. The team confiscated the packets and brought all the accused to the PAFSECOM Office.

Issue: Whether or not the seized items are admissible in evidence.

Held: Our jurisprudence provides for privileged areas where searches and seizures may lawfully be effected sans a search warrant. These recognized exceptions include: (1) search of moving vehicles; (2) search in plain view; (3) customs searches; (4) waiver or consented searches; (5) stop-and-frisk situations; and (6) search incidental to a lawful arrest.
Here, it should be noted that during the incident in question, the special mission of the PAF operatives was to conduct a surveillance operation to verify reports of drug trafficking and smuggling by certain PAL personnel in the vicinity of the airport. In other words, the search made by the PAF team on petitioner and his co-accused was in the nature of a customs search. As such, the team properly effected the search and seizure without a search warrant since it exercised police authority under the customs law. Law enforcers who are tasked to effect the enforcement of the customs and tariff laws are authorized to search and seize, without a search warrant, any article, cargo or other movable property when there is reasonable cause to suspect that the said items have been introduced into the Philippines in violation of the tariff and customs law. They may likewise conduct a warrantless search of any vehicle or person suspected of holding or conveying the said articles, as in the case at bar.


G.R. No. 129472. April 12, 2005

Facts: On July 2, 1996 the accused were arrested fro possession and transport of marijuana leaves (in bricks). They were charged with the violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, with the information containing the fact that they were in possession of and were transporting, selling or offering to sell 42.410 grams of dried marijuana fruiting tops. The accused was then arraigned, pleaded guilty and convicted. Subsequently they applied for probation. Thereafter the prosecutor’s office filed two motions to admit amended information (claiming that the marijuana recovered was 42.410 kilos, not grams) and to set aside the arraignment of the accused; the accused then moved to quash the motion raising the constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

Issue: Whether or not double jeopardy attaches.

Held: To invoke the defense of double jeopardy, the following requisites must be present: (1) a valid complaint or information; (2) the court has jurisdiction to try the case; (3) the accused has pleaded to the charge; and (4) he has been convicted or acquitted or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.
An information is valid as long as it distinctly states the statutory designation of the offense and the acts or omissions constitutive thereof. In other words, if the offense is stated in such a way that a person of ordinary intelligence may immediately know what is meant, and the court can decide the matter according to law, the inevitable conclusion is that the information is valid. The inescapable conclusion, then, is that the first information is valid inasmuch as it sufficiently alleges the manner by which the crime was committed. Verily the purpose of the law, that is, to apprise the accused of the nature of the charge against them, is reasonably complied with.
Moreover, an administrative order of the Supreme Court designated Regional Trial Courts to exclusively try and decide cases of … violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, regardless of the quantity of the drugs involved. (PP. vs. Velasco)
Therefore, the requisites of double jeopardy being present, the defense attaches.


REPUBLIC, as represented by the NIA vs. CA and FRANCISCO DIAZ
G.R. No. 147245. March 31, 2005

Facts: Manuel Diaz owned approximately 172 hectares of property devoted to the planting of palay. The property was located in La Fuente, Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija, and allegedly yielded between 132 to 200 cavans of palay per hectare every year. After Manuel Diaz’s death, his son, Franciso Diaz, was appointed administrator of the property.
In 1972, the National Irrigation Administration bulldozed ten (10) hectares of the Property to build two irrigation canals. Although the canals when finished occupied only a portion of the 10 hectares, the entire area became prone to flooding two months out of every year because of the side-burrow method NIA used in the construction of the canals. NIA completed the canals without instituting expropriation proceedings or indemnifying the property’s owners. Respondent then sought compensation from NIA for the land affected by the canals, as well as for losses due to unrealized profits. In 1980, NIA belatedly offered to buy the portions of the Property occupied by the canals pursuant to NIA’s expansion program. The 1980 deeds of sale were never implemented. Respondent did not receive any consideration pursuant to these deeds. On 20 August 1993, respondent, as administrator of the Property, filed an action for damages and just compensation against NIA. NIA countered that respondent’s right to bring the action had prescribed in accordance with RA 3601, as amended by PD 552. NIA also argued that respondent’s failure to pursue the implementation of the 1980 deeds of sale amounted to laches.

Issue: Whether or not prescription or laches bars the respondent’s right to just compensation.

Held: The principle of laches finds no application in the present case. There is nothing inequitable in giving due course to respondent’s claim for compensation. Both equity and the law direct that a property owner should be compensated if his property is taken for public use.
Eminent domain is the inherent power of a sovereign state to appropriate private property to particular uses to promote public welfare. No one questions NIA’s authority to exercise the delegated power of eminent domain. However, the power of eminent domain is not limitless. NIA cannot exercise the power with wanton disregard for property rights. One basic limitation on the State’s power of eminent domain is the constitutional directive that, “private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”
The thirteen-year interval between the execution of the 1980 deeds of sale and the 1993 filing of the complaint does not bar the claim for compensation. This Court reiterated the long-standing rule “that where private property is taken by the Government for public use without first acquiring title thereto either through expropriation or negotiated sale, the owner’s action to recover the land or the value thereof does not prescribe.”

A.M. No. MTJ-01-1362. May 6, 2005

Facts: Mario Balucero was charged before the RTC of Makati Branch 133, the presiding judge of which is Napoleon Inoturan, with the violation of BP 22. Balucero, however, failed to appear during arraignment despite notice. Inoturan then issued a bench warrant against him. Balucero was subsequently arrested in Bacolod City, but was released upon posting of a property bail before the MCTC of Pulupundan, Negros Occidental, which order was signed by Judge Manuel Limsiaco, Jr. The arraignment of Balucero was subsequently set, but he failed to appear notwithstanding his receipt of notices. Inoturan then ordered that the property bond be cancelled and forfeited. He then ordered Ignacio Denila, the Clerk of Court of the MCTC to forward the property bond. Unable to comply with Inoturan’s order, Denila was cited in contempt and was detained. Denila was ordered released by Limisiaco. Upon investigation, the Office of Court Administrator found that Judge Limsiaco ordered the release of the some other accused although they did not post bail. Limsiaco was administratively charged for gross ignorance of the law and negligence in the performance of his duties.

Issue: What are the requisites before an order for release can be given in cases of bail?

Held: Bail is the security given for the release of a person in custody of the law, furnished by him or a bondsman, conditioned upon his appearance before any court as required under the conditions herein after specified. It is thus clear that without bail, an accused under detention cannot be released. As found by the investigating Judges, accused Balucero did not post bail but still respondent Judge Limsiaco ordered his release.
A person applying for bail should be in the custody of the law or otherwise deprived of liberty. Indeed, bail is unavailing with respect to an accused who has not voluntarily surrendered or has yet to be placed in legal custody. In this case, Limsiaco issued the Order for the release of accused Balucero on November 21, 1996 or fifteen (15) days before December 6, 1996, the day he was actually arrested.
Moreover, Limsiaco acted without authority in approving Balucero’s alleged application for bail. Section 17, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that “if the accused is arrested in a province, city of municipality, other than where the case is pending, bail may be filed with any Regional Trial Court of said place, or if no judge thereof is available, with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge, or municipal circuit trial judge therein.” Here, respondent should not have approved Balucero’s application for bail. It is only one of the 14 Branches of the RTC in Bacolod City which has the authority to act thereon.


LUCENA GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL, INC., petitioner, vs. JAC LINER, INC., respondent.
G.R. No. 148339. February 23, 2005

Facts: The City of Lucena enacted an ordinance which provides, inter alia, that: all buses, mini-buses and out-of-town passenger jeepneys shall be prohibited from entering the city and are hereby directed to proceed to the common terminal, for picking-up and/or dropping of their passengers; and (b) all temporary terminals in the City of Lucena are hereby declared inoperable starting from the effectivity of this ordinance. It also provides that all jeepneys, mini-buses, and buses shall use the grand central terminal of the city. JAC Liner, Inc. assailed the city ordinance as unconstitutional on the ground that, inter alia, the same constituted an invalid exercise of police power, an undue taking of private property, and a violation of the constitutional prohibition against monopolies.

Issue: Whether or not the ordinance satisfies the requisite of valid exercise of police power, i.e. lawful subject and lawful means.

Held: The local government may be considered as having properly exercised its police power only if the following requisites are met: (1) the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require the interference of the State, and (2) the means employed are reasonably necessary for the attainment of the object sought to be accomplished and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. Otherwise stated, there must be a concurrence of a lawful subject and lawful method
The questioned ordinances having been enacted with the objective of relieving traffic congestion in the City of Lucena, they involve public interest warranting the interference of the State. The first requisite for the proper exercise of police power is thus present. This leaves for determination the issue of whether the means employed by the Lucena Sangguniang Panlungsod to attain its professed objective were reasonably necessary and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. The ordinances assailed herein are characterized by overbreadth. They go beyond what is reasonably necessary to solve the traffic problem. Additionally, since the compulsory use of the terminal operated by petitioner would subject the users thereof to fees, rentals and charges, such measure is unduly oppressive, as correctly found by the appellate court. What should have been done was to determine exactly where the problem lies and then to stop it right there.
The true role of Constitutional Law is to effect an equilibrium between authority and liberty so that rights are exercised within the framework of the law and the laws are enacted with due deference to rights. It is its reasonableness, not its effectiveness, which bears upon its constitutionality. If the constitutionality of a law were measured by its effectiveness, then even tyrannical laws may be justified whenever they happen to be effective.



G.R. No. 14995, February 26, 2004

Facts: Respondent Lilia B. Organo is a revenue collection officer of the BIR, Revenue Region 7, Quezon City. On May 13, 1997, then BIR Commissioner Liwayway Vinsons-Chato filed with the BIR a formal administrative charge against petitioner for grave misconduct and dishonesty.
Respondent filed a verified answer, in which she admitted that she had no specific authority allowing her to receive withholding tax returns and check payments. She alleged in her counter-affidavit that her duties as collection officer consisted merely of collecting delinquent accounts and performing other tasks that her supervisor would assign to her from time to time; and that her acceptance of the withholding tax returns and check payments for transmittal to BIR-authorized banks was a mere assistance extended to taxpayers, without any consideration.
The administrative case against respondent was transferred to the Office of Ombudsman, which adopted the “proceedings, evidence/exhibits presented at the administrative proceedings before the BIR.” In due course, it rendered its decision finding respondent guilty of grave misconduct.

Issue: Whether or not respondent is liable for grave misconduct.

Held: The Court held that by accommodating and accepting withholding tax returns and checks payments respondent disregarded as established BIR rule. Revenue Regulation No. 4-93 requires payments through the banks precisely to avoid, whenever possible, BIR employee’s direct receipt of tax payments. Yet, respondent was not deterred from making accommodations that circumvented this provision.
To compound matters, her acts were essential ingredients paving the way for the commission of fraud against, and consequent damage to, the government. Her claimed ignorance thereof cannot erase her liability. Obviously, she disregarded the established practice and rules. In the face of her silence, the fact that the checks ended up in an unauthorized BIR account eloquently speaks, at the very least, of her gross negligence in taking care of collections that should not have passed through her hands in the first place.
Because of her complicity in the transgression of the cited BIR regulation as well as her gross negligence, respondent is administratively liable for simple misconduct and is suspended for six months.


G.R. No. 149154, June 10, 2003

Facts: The Board of Directors (BOD) of the Catbalogan Water District granted to themselves RATA, rice allowance, productivity incentive, anniversary, and year-end bonus and cash gifts, as authorized by Resolution No. 313 of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). The COA disallowed and ordered the refund of these allowances as they are not allowed by P.D. No. 198, the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973.

Issue: Whether COA is vested with authority to disallow release of allowance not authorized by law even if authorized by the LWUA.

Held: Art. IX, Sec. 2 D of the Constitution mandates the COA to audit all the government agencies, including government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) with original charters. The COA is vested with authority to disallow illegal or irregular disbursements of government funds. A Water District is a GOCC with a special charter since it is created pursuant to special law, PD 198. The COA can disallow allowances not authorized by law, even if authorized by the LWUA.
Considering that the disallowed allowances were received in good faith, without knowledge that payment had no legal basis, the allowances need not to be refunded.


G.R. 151908, August 12, 2003

Facts: The NTC issued Billing Circular 13-6-2000 which promulgated rules and regulations on the billing of telecommunications services. Petitioners filed with the RTC a petition to declare the circular as unconstitutional. A motion to dismiss was filed by the NTC on the ground of petitioner’s to exhaust administrative remedies. The RTC denied the motion to dismiss but on certiorari, the CA reversed RTC.

Held: 1. Administrative bodies had (a) quasi-legislative or rule-making powers and (b) quasi-judicial or administrative adjudicatory powers. Quasi-legislative or rule-making power is the power to make rules and regulations which results in delegated legislation that is within the confines of the granting statute and the doctrine of non-delegability and separability of powers. To be valid, such rules and regulations must conform to, and be consistent with, the provisions of enabling statute.
Quasi-judicial or administrative adjudicatory power is the power to hear and determine questions of fact to which the legislative policy is to apply and to decide in accordance with the standards laid down by law itself in enforcing and administering the same law. In carrying out their quasi-judicial functions, the administrative officers or bodies are required to investigate facts or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, weigh evidence, and draw conclusions from them for their official action and exercise of discretion in a judicial.
2. The determination of whether a specific rule or set of rules issued by an administrative body contravenes the law or the constitution is within the judicial power as defined by the Constitution which is “ the duty of the Courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there haw been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.” The NTC circular was issued pursuant to its quasi-legislative or rule-making power. Hence, the action must be filed directly with the regular courts without requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies.
3. Where the act of administrative agency was performed pursuant to its quasi-judicial function, exhaustion of administrative remedy is required, before going to court.
4. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction applies only where the administrative agency exercises its quasi-judicial or adjudicatory function. Thus, in cases involving specialized disputes, the same must be referred to an administrative agency of special competence pursuant to the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. This doctrine of primary jurisdiction applies where the claim requires the resolution of issues which, under a regulatory scheme, has been placed within the special competence of an administrative body. In such case, the judicial process is suspended pending referral of such issues to the administrative body for its view.


G.R. No. 155320. February 5,2004

Facts: Renato F. Herrera, former Director III at DAR Central Office, approved the request for shift of item number of Plaridel Elmer J. Bohol, a Senior Agrarian Reform officer at the BARIE. The shift or item number from 577-1 of Fund 108 to 562-3 of Fund 101 resulted to Bohol ontaining his salary under Fund 101. When Bohol was informed that he could not draw his salary under such item anymore because his item was recalled and was given to another person, he charged Herrera before the Office of the Ombudsman, with Grave Misconduct and/or Inefficiency and Incompetence. The Ombudsman found Renato Herrera guilty of simple misconduct and was suspended for one month without pay. Such decision was contested by Herrera and he even appealed to the CA on the ground that he did not fail to take measures to correct respondent’s recall; but, such petition was just denied by the CA.A petition for review was raised to the SC stressing that one month suspension, as stated in the Ombudsman Act of 1998, is appealable considering that it is not among those enumerated as final and unappealable.

Issue: Whether or not the provision in R.A. No. 6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1998, providing suspension of not more than one month’s salary is final and unappealable.

Held: Sec. 27 of RA No. 6770 states that: “any order, directive or decision imposing the penalty of public censure, reprimand, suspension of not more than one month’s salary shall be final and unappealable…”
Salary suspension is an effect of work suspension following the “no work, no pay” principle. It will be the employee concerned who will be suspended and such suspension without pay,being final, and unappealable, is clearly expressed the law. RA No. 6770, therefore, is a legal and clear basis of denying the petitioner’s appeal.


G.R. No. 154499, February 27, 2004

Facts: In a letter dated May 19,1999, addressed to then BSP Governor Singson, RBSMI charge the petitioner with violation of RA No. 6713 ( code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees). The Monetary Board (MB) of the BSP created an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate the matter.
The ensuing investigation disclosed that sometime in September 1996, RBSMI, which had a history of major violations/exceptions dating back to 1995, underwent periodic examination by the BSP. The examination team headed by Principio noted serious 20 exceptions/violations and deficiencies of RBSMI.
Through Resolution No. 96, the MB required RBSMI to submit within 15 days a written explanation with respect to the findings of the examiner. It also directed the Department of Rural Banks DRB), to verify, monitor and report to the Deputy Governor, Supervision and Examination Sector (SES) on the findings noted, until the same shall have been corrected.
Meanwhile on June 13,1997, the MB approved Resolution No. 724 ordering RBSMI to correct the major exceptions noted within 30 days from receipt of the advice, and to remit to the BSP the amount of P2,538,483.00 as fines and penalties for incurring deficiencies in reserves against deposit liabilities.
More than a year after, however, the RBSMI asked for a reconsideration of MB Resolution No. 724 insofar as the imposition of fine amounting to P P2,538,483.00.On January 21, 1999, the MB adopted Resolution No. 71, authorizing the conditional reversal of sixty of the dispute on the findings on reserve deficiency. Subsequently, on April 7, 1999, the MB approved the interim reversal of the entire amount of the penalty “pending the outcome of the study on the legal and factual basis for the imposition of the penalty.”
The above incidents, particularly the alleged “brokering” by Reyes and the petitioners’ “unsupported” recommendation to impose a penalty of P2,538,483.00 for legal reserve deficiency, prompted the respondent to file the letter-complaint charging the petitioners with “unprofessionalism.”
In the Decision if March 14,2003, this Court found Deputy Governor Reyes and Director Domo-ong liable for violation of the “standards of professionalism” prescribed by RA 6713in that they used the distressed financial condition of respondent RBSMI as the subject of a case study in one of the BSP seminars and did the “brokering” of the sale of RBSMI. The Court modified the decision of the CA by reducing the penalty imposed from the a fine equivalent to six months’salary to a fine of 2 months salary for Reyes and one month salary for Domo-ong.
The court exonerated petitioner Proncipio of the Administrative charges. The exoneration is subject to RBSMI’s Motion for Partial Reconsideration.

Issue: Whether or not the Superior officer shall not be civilly liable for the wrongful acts, omissions of duty, negligence or misfeasance of his subordinate officer.

Held: The immunity of public officers from liability for nonfeasance, negligence or omissions of duty of their official subordinate and even for the latter’s misfeasance or positive wrong rests, according to MECHEM, “upon obvious considerations of public policy, the necessities of the public service and the perplexities and embarrassments of a contrary doctrine.” These official subordinates are themselves public officers though of an inferior grade, and therefore directly liable in the cases in which any public officer is liable, for their own misdeeds or defaults.
Under the Admin Code of 1987, which provides that head of a department or a superior officer shall not be civilly liable for the wrongful acts, omissions of duty, negligence, misfeasance of his subordinates, unless he has actually authorized by written order the specific act or misconduct complained of.


P.E.T. CASE No. 002. March 29, 2005

Facts: In the 2004 election, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) was proclaimed the duly elected President of the Philippines. The second-placer in the elections, Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ), filed an election protest before the Electoral Tribunal. When the Protestant died in the course of his medical treatment, his widow, Mrs. Jesusa Sonora Poe a.k.a. Susan Roces filed a motion to intervene as a substitute for deceased protestant FPJ. She claims that there is an urgent need for her to continue and substitute for her late husband to ascertain the true and genuine will of the electorate in the interest of the Filipino people. The Protestee, GMA asserts that the widow of a deceased candidate is not the proper party to replace the deceased protestant since a public office is personal and not a property that passes on to the heirs. Protestee also contends that under the Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, only the registered candidates who obtained the 2nd and 3rd highest votes for the presidency may contest the election of the president.

Issue: May the widow substitute/intervene for the protestant who died during the pendency of the latter’s protest case?

Held: Only the registered candidate for President or for Vice-President of the Philippines who received the second or third highest number of votes may contest the election of the President or the Vice-President, as the case may be, by filing a verified petition with the Clerk of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal within thirty (30) days after the proclamation of the winner.
An election protest is not purely personal and exclusive to the protestant or to the protestee, hence, substitution and intervention is allowed but only by a real party in interest. Note that Mrs. FPJ herself denies any claim to the office of President but rather stresses that it is with the “paramount public interest” in mind that she desires “to pursue the process” commenced by her late husband. However, nobility of intention is not the point of reference in determining whether a person may intervene in an election protest. In such intervention, the interest which allows a person to intervene in a suit must be in the matter of litigation and of such direct and immediate character that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the effect of the judgment. In this protest, Mrs. FPJ will not immediately and directly benefit from the outcome should it be determined that the declared president did not truly get the highest number of votes.

G.R. No. 159139. January 13, 2004

Facts: On June 7, 1995, Congress passed R.A. 8046 (An act authorizing the COMELEC to conduct a nationwide demonstration of a computerized election system and pilot-test it in the March 1996 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and for other purposes). On December 22, 1997, Congress enacted R.A. 8436 (An act authorizing the COMELEC to use an automated election system in the May 11, 1998 national or local elections and in subsequent national and local electoral exercises, providing funds therefore and for other purposes).
On October 29, 2002, COMELEC adopted its Resolution 02-0170 a modernization program for the 2004 elections. It resolved to conduct biddings for the three phases of its Automated Election System: namely, Phase I-Voter Registration and Validation System; Phase II-Automated Counting and Canvassing System; and Phase III-Electronic Transmissions.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued EO No. 172, which allocated the sum of P 2.5 billion to fund the AES for May 10, 2004 elections. She authorized the release of an additional P 500 million, upon the request of COMELEC.
The COMELEC issued an “Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid”. There are 57 bidders who participated therein. The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) found MPC and the Total Information Management Corporation (TIMC) eligible. Both were referred to Technical Working Group (TWG) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
However, the DOST said in its Report on the Evaluation of Technical Proposals on Phase II that both MPC and TIMC had obtained a number of failed marks in technical evaluation. Notwithstanding these failures, the COMELEC en banc issued Resolution No. 6074, awarding the project to MPC.
Wherefore, petitioners Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines wrote a letter to the COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos, Sr. They protested the award of the contract to respondent MPC. However in a letter-reply, the COMELEC rejected the protest.

Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in awarding the contract to MPC in violation of law and in disregard of its own bidding rules and procedure.

Held: The Court has explained that COMELEC flagrantly violated the public policy on public biddings (1) by allowing MPC/MPEI to participate in the bidding even though it was not qualified to do so; and (2) by eventually awarding the contract to MPC/MPEI. It is clear that the Commission further desecrated the law on public bidding by permitting the winning bidder to alter the subject of the contract, in effect allowing a substantive amendment without public bidding.


G.R. No. 148334. January 21, 2004

Facts: Following the appointment of Senator Teofisto Guingona as Vice-President of the Philippines, the Senate on February 8, 2001 passed Resolution No. 84, calling on COMELEC to fill the vacancy through a special election to be held simultaneously with the regular elections on May 14, 2001. Twelve senators, with 6-year term each, were due to be elected in that election. The resolution further provides that the “Senatorial candidate garnering the 13th highest number of votes shall serve only for the unexpired term of former Senator Teofisto Guingona, Jr. which ends on June 30, 2004.
On June 5, 2001, after canvassing the election results, the COMELEC proclaimed 13 candidates as the elected Senators, with the first 12 Senators to serve the unexpired term of 6 years and the 13th Senator to serve the full term of 3 years of Senator Teofisto Guingona, Jr. Gregorio Honasan ranked 13th.
Petitioners Arturo Tolentino and Arturo Mojica, as voters and taxpayers, filed the instant petition for prohibition, praying for the nullification of Resolution No. 01-005.

Issue: Whether or not the Special Election held on May 14, 2001 should be nullified: (1) for failure to give notice by the body empowered to and (2) for not following the procedure of filling up the vacancy pursuant to R.A. 6645.

Held: (1) Where the law does not fix the time and place for holding a special election but empowers some authority to fix the time and place after the happening of a condition precedent, the statutory provision on the giving of notice is considered mandatory, and failure to do so will render the election a nullity.
The test in determining the validity of a special election in relation to the failure to give notice of the special election is whether want of notice has resulted in misleading a sufficient number of voters as would change the result of special election. If the lack of official notice misled a substantial number of voters who wrongly believed that there was no special election to fill vacancy, a choice by small percentage of voters would be void.
(2) There is no basis in the petitioners’ claim that the manner by which the COMELEC conducted the special Senatorial election on May 14, 2001 is a nullity because the COMELEC failed to document separately the candidates and to canvass separately the votes cast for the special election. No such requirement exists in our election laws. What is mandatory under Section 2 of R.A. 6645 is that the COMELEC “fix the date of election,” if necessary, and state among others, the office/s to be voted for.
Significantly, the method adopted by the COMELEC in conducting the special election on May 14, 2001 merely implemented the procedure specified by the Senate in Resolution No. 84. Initially, the original draft of said resolution as introduced by Senator Francisco Tatad made no mention of the manner by which the seat vacated by former Senator Guingona would be filled. However, upon the suggestion of Senator Raul Roco, the Senate agreed to amend the resolution by providing as it now appears, that “the senatorial cabdidate garnering the 13th highest number of votes shall serve only for the unexpired term of former Senator Teofisto Giongona, Jr.”


GR No. 153945. February 4, 2003

Facts: Reynato Baytan registered as a voter in two precincts and the COMELEC En Banc affirmed the recommendation of its Law Department to file information of double registration in violation of the Election Code. Baytan filed with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari on the grounds, among others, that there was no probable cause and that election cases must first be heard and decided by a Division before the COMELEC En Banc can assume jurisdiction.

Held: 1. It is well- settled that the finding of probable cause in the prosecution of election offenses rests in the sound discretion of the COMELEC. Generally, the Court will not interfere with such finding of the COMELEC, absent a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion. This principle emanates from the exclusive power of the COMELEC to conduct preliminary investigation of all election investigation of all election offenses and to prosecute the same.
2. Under Sec. 2, Art. IX-C of the Constitution, the COMELEC exercises both administrative and quasi-judicial powers. The administrative powers are found in Sec 2. (1), (3) to (9) of Art IX-C. The Constitution does not provide on whether these administrative powers shall be exercised by the COMELEC en banc or in division. The COMELEC en banc therefore can act on administrative matters, and this had been the practice under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. The prosecution by the COMELEC of violations of election laws is an administrative power.
3. The exercise by the COMELEC of its quasi-judicial powers is subject to Sec.3, Art.IX-C which expressly requires that all election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, shall be decided by the COMELEC in division, and the motion for reconsideration shall be decided by the COMELEC en banc.


GR No. 149147. June 18, 2003

Facts: In the May 14, 2001 elections Barot was proclaimed the 10th winning candidate for councilor of Tanjay City, Negros Oriental. On May 29, 2001 the Chairman of the Board of Canvassers sent a Memorandum to the COMELEC requesting for authority to correct the Certificate of Canvass and to proclaim Tabaloc, instead of Barot, as the 10th winning candidate for Councilor, by errors committed by the Board of Canvassers. The COMELEC considered the Memorandum as a petition, and after notice and hearing, granted the request. Tabaloc was proclaimed the 10th winning Councilor. Barot filed with the Supreme Court a petition for and prohibition.

Held: 1. Rule 27, Sec.5, par (b) of the COMELEC Rules provides that a petition for correction must be filed not later than five (5) days following the date of proclamation, impleading the candidates who may be adversely affected thereby. Rule 1, Sec.4 of the COMELEC Rules also provides that “in the interest of justice and in the order to obtain speedy disposition of all matters pending before the Commission, these rules or any option thereof may be suspended by the Commission.” The filing of the petition beyond the 5- day period was upheld in the interest of justice, it having been clearly shown that it was Tabaloc and not Barot who was the 10th winning candidate for councilor.
2. The COMELEC had the authority to consider the Memorandum of the Chairman of the Board of Canvassers, after notice and hearing, may even motu propio correct errors committed by in the tabulation of the votes.


GR No. 150799. February 3, 2003

Facts: Petitioner was a candidate for Mayor in the May 14, 2001 elections and during the canvassing, he petitioned the Board of Canvassers (BOC) to exclude the election returns contained in nine (9) ballot boxes on the ground that said boxes were not secured by the required “3 padlocks.” The BOC denied the petition and petitioner appealed to the COMELEC. The COMELEC en banc denied the appeal and ordered the BOC to proceed with the canvassing and proclaim the winning local candidates. Petitioner lost in the election.

Held: 1. Lack of the required number of padlocks on the ballot boxes is not a proper issue in a pre-proclamation controversy. The issues that may be raised in a pre-proclamation controversy are enumerated in Sec 243 of the Omnibus Election Code, to wit:
a. Illegal composition or proceeding of the board of canvassers;
b. The canvassed election returns are incomplete, contain material defects, and appear to be
tampered with or falsified, or contain discrepancies in the same returns or in other authentic copies thereof as mentioned in Sections 233, 234, 235, and 236 of this Code;
c. The election returns were prepared under duress, threats, coercion, or intimidation, or they are obviously manufactured or not authentic; and
d. When substitute or fraudulent returns in controverted polling places were canvassed, the results of which materially affected the standing of the aggrieved candidate or candidates.
This enumeration is exclusive.
2. A pre-proclamation controversy is limited to an examination of the election returns on their face and the COMELEC as a general rule need not go beyond the face of the returns and investigate the alleged election irregularities. In the case of Baterina, et al. v. COMELEC, 205 SCRA 1, the following facts were shown: (a) failure to close the entries with the signatures of the election inspectors; (b) lack of inner and outer seals; (c) canvassing by the Board of copies not intended for it; (d) lack of time and date receipt by the Board of the election returns; (e) lack of signatures of petitioners’ watchers; and (f) lack of authority of the person receiving the election returns. It was held that while said facts may, indeed, involve violation of the rules governing the preparation and delivery of election returns for canvassing, they do not necessarily affect the authenticity and genuineness of the subject election returns as to warrant their exclusion from the canvassing. Above facts are clearly defects in form insufficient to support a conclusion that the election returns were tampered with or spurious.
3. The COMELEC en banc validly ordered the proclamation of the winning candidate even during the pendency of the appeal to the COMELEC from the BOC’s denial of the petition for exclusion of the questioned election returns. RA 7166, Sec 20 (I) provides as follows:
(i) The BOC shall not proclaim any candidate as winner unless authorized by the Commission after the latter has ruled on the objection brought to it on appeal by the losing party. Any proclamation in violation hereof shall be void ab initio, unless the contested returns will not adversely affect the results of the election.
Above-quoted provision applies only where the objection deals with a pre-proclamation controversy.


GR No.s 148948 & 148951, February 17, 2003

Facts: In connection with the May 11, 1998 elections, candidate for Mayor Florentino A. Bautista filed a complaint against Mayor Federico Poblete et al. for vote –buying in violation of Sec 261 (a) and (b) of the Omnibus Election Code. The Information was docketed as Criminal Case No. 7034-99 of the RTC of Imus, Cavite. Subsequently, a complaint for vote-selling in violation of Sec 261 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code was filed with the Prosecutor’s Office as witnesses in Criminal Case No. 7034-99 and the Provincial Prosecutor in Imus, Cavite filed separate Informations for vote-selling against said witnesses. On appeal, the COMELEC en banc declared that the witnesses in Criminal Case No. 7034-99 were exempt from criminal prosecution pursuant to 4th paragraph of Sec 28, RA No. 6646, otherwise known as “The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987” which grants immunity from criminal prosecution to persons who voluntarily give information and willingly testify against those liable for vote-buying or vote-selling. The Law Department of the COMELEC moved to dismiss the Informations against the said witnesses but the RTC in Imus, Cavite denied the motion to dismiss.

Held: 1. One of the effective ways of preventing the commission of vote-buying and of prosecuting those committing it is the grant of immunity from criminal liability in favor of the party whose vote was bought. Sec 28 of RA No. 6646 concludes with the following paragraph:
The giver, offeror, the promissory as well as the solicitor, acceptor, recipient and conspirator referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 261 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 shall be liable as principals: Provided, that any person, otherwise guilty under said paragraphs who voluntarily gives information and willingly testifies on any violation thereof in any official investigation or proceeding shall be exempt from prosecution and punishment for the offenses with reference to which his information and testimony were given: Provided, further, that nothing herein shall exempt such person from criminal prosecution for perjury or false testimony.
2. To avoid possible fabrication of evidence against the vote-buyers, especially by the latter’s opponents, Congress saw it fit to warn “vote-sellers” who denounce the vote-buying that they could be liable for perjury or false testimony should they not tell the truth.
3. The prosecution witnesses in Criminal Case No. 7034-99 are exempt from criminal prosecution for vote-selling by virtue of the proviso in the last paragraph of Section 28, RA 6646. At the time when the complaint for vote-selling was filed with the office of the Provincial Prosecutor, the respondents had already executed sworn statements attesting to the corrupt practice of vote-buying. It cannot then be denied that they had already voluntarily given information in the vote-buying case. In fact, they willingly testified in Crim. Case No. 7034-99.
4. The COMELEC has the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under the election laws and to prosecute the same. The Chief State Prosecutor, all Provincial and City Prosecutors, or their respective assistants are, however, given continuing authority, as deputies of the COMELEC to conduct preliminary investigation of complaints involving election offenses and to prosecute the same. This authority may be revoked or withdrawn by the COMELEC anytime whenever, in its judgment, such revocation or withdrawal is necessary to protect the integrity of the COMELEC and to promote the common good, or when it believes that the successful prosecution of the case can be done by the COMELEC. When the COMELEC nullified the resolution of the Provincial Prosecutor, it in effect withdrew the deputation granted by the COMELEC.


G.R. No. 148075. February 4, 2002

Facts: On January 30, 2001 then Vice Governor Teresita Lazaro succeeded to the office of the Governor of Laguna when then Gov. Jose Lina was appointed Secretary of the DILG. Upon assumption of office as Governor, Lazaro publicly declared her “intention to run for Governor” in the coming May 2001 elections. Subsequently, she ordered the purchase of trophies, basketballs, volleyballs, chessboard sets, t-shirts, medals and pins, and other sports materials worth P4.5 millions. Gov. Lazaro bidded 79 public works projects on March 28, 2001. Pangkat Laguna, a registered political party, filed a petition for disqualification of Gov. Lazaro for premature campaigning.

Held: 1. The act of Gov. Lazaro in “ordering the purchase of various items and the consequent distribution thereof of Laguna, in line with the local government unit’s sports and education program” is not election campaigning or partisan political activity contemplated and explicitly prescribed under the pertinent provisions of Sec 80 of the Omnibus Election Code.
2. Evidence is wanting to sufficiently establish the allegation that public funds were released, disbursed, or expended during the 45-day prohibitive period provided under the law and implementing rules. Absent such clear and convincing proof, the factual findings of the COMELEC cannot be disturbed considering that the COMELEC is the constitutional body tasked to decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections.


G.R. No. 147767. January 14, 2002

Facts: Manuel Zamora, a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Compostela Valley, filed before the RTC a petition to invalidate all acts executed and resolutions issued by the Sanggunian during its sessions held on February 8 and 26, 2001 for lack of quorum. Said sessions noted the resignation letter of Board Member Sotto, declared the entire province under a state of calamity and approved the Governor to enter into the contract with the Allado Company. Zamora, the petitioner, argued that the Sanggunian, during its February 26 session, conducted official business without a quorum since only 7 out of the 14 members were present. He further questioned the February 8 session’s validity arguing that only 7 members were present and the failure to provide written notice to all members at least 24 hours before the holding of the special session. Respondents argued that Board Member Sotto was in the United States during such sessions and that the actual number of Board Members in the country was only 13 which, they claimed, should be the basis for the determination of a quorum. Such petition raised by Zamora was dismissed by the RTC but reversed and granted by the Supreme Court.

Issues: 1) Whether or not Section 53 (a) of the LGC provides and specifies applicable rule regarding the determination of a quorum.

2) Whether or not Sanggunian Members who are abroad should not be included in the counting of the entire Sangguniang body.

3) Whether or not the approved decisions during the sessions, alleged to be without quorum, is deemed to be valid.

Held: Section 53 (a) of the LGC states that : “A majority of all members of the Sanggunian who have been elected and qualified shall constitute a quorum to transact official business.” Quorum is defined as the “number of members of a body which, when legally assembled, will enable the body to transact its proper business or that number which makes a lawful body and gives it power to pass upon a law or ordinance or do any valid act.” When required to constitute a quorum, “majority” means the number greater than half or more than half of the total.
As further stated, it requires the majority of ALL members of the Sanggunian. Quorum should, thus, be based on the total number of members regardless of whether or not a member is said to be abroad.
Therefore, in cases where decisions have been made during sessions deemed to have not met the required quorum, such sessions and decisions shall be considered void.


G.R. No. 147927. February 4, 2002

Facts: Respondent Talaga was elected Mayor of Lucena City in 1992, re-elected in 1995, but lost to Tagarao in 1998 elections. Tagarao was recalled and in the May 12, 2000 recall elections, Talaga won and served the unexpired term of Tagarao until June 30, 2001. Talaga was candidate for Mayor in the May 14, 2001 elections, and a petition for cancellation of his certificate of candidacy was filed on the ground that he has served as Mayor for three consecutive terms.

Issue: Whether or not Talaga has served as Mayor of Lucena City for three consecutive terms.

Held: The term limit for elective local officials must be taken to refer to the right to be elected as well as the right to serve in the same elective position. Consequently, it is not enough that an individual has served three consecutive terms in an elective local office. He must also have been elected to the same position for the same number of times before the disqualification can apply.
In the case at bar, Talaga did not serve for 3 consecutive terms. For nearly 2 years, he was a private citizen. The continuity of his mayorship was disrupted by his defeat in the 1998 elections.
“If one is elected representative to serve the unexpired term of another, that unexpired term, no matter how short, will be considered one term for the purpose of computing the number of successive terms allowed”—this comment of Constitutional Commissioner Fr. Bernas applies only to members of the House of Representatives. Unlike government officials, there is no recall election for members of Congress.


G.R. No. 148944. February 5, 2003

Facts: City Mayor Garcia was charged by Ombudsman Special Prosecution Officer Jesus Rodrigo Tagaan for violation of the Anti-Graft Law as a result of his having entered into a contract with F.E. Zuellig for the supply of asphalt batching plant for three years. The joint affidavits of State Auditors Cabreros and Quejada alleged that petitioner entered into the contract without available funds appropriated to cover the expenditure in violation of Sections 85 and 86 of P.D. 1445 or the State Audit Code of the Phil.; that petitioner exceeded the authority granted him by the Sangguniang Panlungsod; and that the contract is manifestly disadvantageous to the City. Note however that thereafter, Special Prosecution Officer Tagaan resigned from his office and his name was withdrawn as complainant in the case. Instead of filing a counter-affidavit, Garcia filed with the Supreme Court a petition to prohibit the Ombudsman from conducting the preliminary investigation on the ground that there is no sufficient complaint.

Issue: Whether or not the complaint/affidavits filed against Garcia is sufficient in form or manner.

Held: For purposes of initiating a preliminary investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman, a complaint in any form or manner is sufficient. The Constitution states that the Ombudsman and his Deputies, as protectors of the people, shall act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against public officials or employees of the government. In Almonte vs. Vasquez, 244 SCRA 286, we held that even unverified and anonymous letters may suffice to start an investigation. The Office of the Ombudsman is different from the other investigatory and prosecutory agencies of the government because those subject to its jurisdiction are public officials who, through official pressure and influence, can quash, delay, or dismiss investigations against them. The joint affidavits of State Auditors Cabreros and Quejada contain allegations specific enough for petitioner to prepare his evidence and counter-arguments.
The fact that Special Prosecution Officer Tagaan already resigned from his office and that his name was withdrawn as complainant in the case is of no consequence. First, Tagaan’s report and affidavit still form part of the records of the case. He can still be called by subpoena, if necessary. Second, Tagaan was only a nominal party whose duty as special prosecutor was to investigate the commission of crimes and file the corresponding complaint whenever warranted. Since the illegal acts committed are public offenses, the real complainant is the State, which is represented by the remaining complainants.


G.R. No. 153881. March 24, 2003

Facts: Eight officers of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) were promoted by the President to Vice Admiral, Rear Admiral, Commodore, Naval Captain, and they assumed office without confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (COA). Petitioner, as a taxpayer, filed a petition with the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of their assumption of office, which requires confirmation of the COA.

Held: Petitioner has no locus standi. A party bringing a suit challenging the constitutionality of an act or statute must show not only that the law or act is invalid, but also that he has sustained, or is in immediate or imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. The instant petition cannot even be classified as a taxpayer’s suit because petitioner has no interest as such and this case does not involve the exercise by Congress of its taxing power.
Pursuant to Executive Order of President Ramos, the PCG was transferred from the Department of National Defense to the Office of the President, and later to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

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