As to the effect of the Court’s finding that the current composition of the JBC is unconstitutional, it bears mentioning that as a general rule, an unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is inoperative as if it has not been passed at all.56 This rule, however, is not absolute. In the interest of fair play under the doctrine of operative facts, actions previous to the declaration of unconstitutionality are legally recognized. They are not nullified. In Planters Products, Inc. v. Fertiphil Corporation,57 the Court explained:
The doctrine of operative fact, as an exception to the general rule, only applies as a matter of equity and fair play.1âwphi1 It nullifies the effects of an unconstitutional law by recognizing that the existence of a statute prior to a determination of unconstitutionality is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot always be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration.
The doctrine is applicable when a declaration of unconstitutionality will impose an undue burden on those who have relied on the invalid law. Thus, it was applied to a criminal case when a declaration of unconstitutionality would put the accused in double jeopardy or would put in limbo the acts done by a municipality in reliance upon a law creating it.
Considering the circumstances, the Court finds the exception applicable in this case and holds that notwithstanding its finding of unconstitutionality in the current composition of the JBC, all its prior official actions are nonetheless valid.