Sunday, July 13, 2014

state the rule on impeachment

Section 3. (1) x x x
(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof.
(3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary to either affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded.
(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.

does rule 16 and 17 of the House contravene the CONSTITUTION?


From the records of the Constitutional Commission, to the amicus curiae briefs of two former Constitutional Commissioners, it is without a doubt that the term "to initiate" refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint coupled with Congress' taking initial action of said complaint.
Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing and referral or endorsement of the impeachment complaint to the House Committee on Justice or, by the filing by at least one-third of the members of the House of Representatives with the Secretary General of the House, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated, another impeachment complaint may not be filed against the same official within a one year period.
Under Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House Impeachment Rules, impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated (1) if there is a finding by the House Committee on Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is sufficient in substance, or (2) once the House itself affirms or overturns the finding of the Committee on Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is not sufficient in substance or (3) by the filing or endorsement before the Secretary-General of the House of Representatives of a verified complaint or a resolution of impeachment by at least 1/3 of the members of the House. These rules clearly contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI since the rules give the term "initiate" a meaning different meaning from filing and referral.

how did fr. bernas explain the term "to initiate" an impeachment proceeding?

Father Bernas explains that in these two provisions, the common verb is "to initiate." The object in the first sentence is "impeachment case." The object in the second sentence is "impeachment proceeding." Following the principle of reddendo singuala sinuilis, the term "cases" must be distinguished from the term "proceedings." An impeachment case is the legal controversy that must be decided by the Senate. Above-quoted first provision provides that the House, by a vote of one-third of all its members, can bring a case to the Senate. It is in that sense that the House has "exclusive power" to initiate all cases of impeachment. No other body can do it. However, before a decision is made to initiate a case in the Senate, a "proceeding" must be followed to arrive at a conclusion. A proceeding must be "initiated." To initiate, which comes from the Latin word initium, means to begin. On the other hand, proceeding is a progressive noun. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It takes place not in the Senate but in the House and consists of several steps: (1) there is the filing of a verified complaint either by a Member of the House of Representatives or by a private citizen endorsed by a Member of the House of the Representatives; (2) there is the processing of this complaint by the proper Committee which may either reject the complaint or uphold it; (3) whether the resolution of the Committee rejects or upholds the complaint, the resolution must be forwarded to the House for further processing; and (4) there is the processing of the same complaint by the House of Representatives which either affirms a favorable resolution of the Committee or overrides a contrary resolution by a vote of one-third of all the members. If at least one third of all the Members upholds the complaint, Articles of Impeachment are prepared and transmitted to the Senate. It is at this point that the House "initiates an impeachment case." It is at this point that an impeachable public official is successfully impeached. That is, he or she is successfully charged with an impeachment "case" before the Senate as impeachment court.
Father Bernas further explains: The "impeachment proceeding" is not initiated when the complaint is transmitted to the Senate for trial because that is the end of the House proceeding and the beginning of another proceeding, namely the trial. Neither is the "impeachment proceeding" initiated when the House deliberates on the resolution passed on to it by the Committee, because something prior to that has already been done. The action of the House is already a further step in the proceeding, not its initiation or beginning. Rather, the proceeding is initiated or begins, when a verified complaint is filed and referred to the Committee on Justice for action. This is the initiating step which triggers the series of steps that follow.
The framers of the Constitution also understood initiation in its ordinary meaning. Thus when a proposal reached the floor proposing that "A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary… to initiate impeachment proceedings," this was met by a proposal to delete the line on the ground that the vote of the House does not initiate impeachment proceeding but rather the filing of a complaint does.146 Thus the line was deleted and is not found in the present Constitution.
Father Bernas concludes that when Section 3 (5) says, "No impeachment proceeding shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year," it means that no second verified complaint may be accepted and referred to the Committee on Justice for action. By his explanation, this interpretation is founded on the common understanding of the meaning of "to initiate" which means to begin. He reminds that the Constitution is ratified by the people, both ordinary and sophisticated, as they understand it; and that ordinary people read ordinary meaning into ordinary words and not abstruse meaning, they ratify words as they understand it and not as sophisticated lawyers confuse it.

How did the supreme court rule on the impeachment of chief justice davide?

Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing of the impeachment complaint and referral to the House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated in the foregoing manner, another may not be filed against the same official within a one year period following Article XI, Section 3(5) of the Constitution.
In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint, was filed by former President Estrada against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, on June 2, 2003 and referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the second impeachment complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice on October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional prohibition against the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a one-year period. 

x x x

WHEREFORE, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings which were approved by the House of Representatives on November 28, 2001 are unconstitutional. Consequently, the second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. which was filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William B. Fuentebella with the Office of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives on October 23, 2003 is barred under paragraph 5, section 3 of Article XI of the Constitution. 

the "seven pillars" of limitations of the power of judicial review,

In Demetria v. Alba,134 this Court, through Justice Marcelo Fernan cited the "seven pillars" of limitations of the power of judicial review, enunciated by US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis in Ashwander v. TVA135 as follows:
1. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of legislation in a friendly, non-adversary proceeding, declining because to decide such questions 'is legitimate only in the last resort, and as a necessity in the determination of real, earnest and vital controversy between individuals. It never was the thought that, by means of a friendly suit, a party beaten in the legislature could transfer to the courts an inquiry as to the constitutionality of the legislative act.'

2. The Court will not 'anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it.' . . . 'It is not the habit of the Court to decide questions of a constitutional nature unless absolutely necessary to a decision of the case.' 

3. The Court will not 'formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied.' 

4. The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of. This rule has found most varied application. Thus, if a case can be decided on either of two grounds, one involving a constitutional question, the other a question of statutory construction or general law, the Court will decide only the latter. Appeals from the highest court of a state challenging its decision of a question under the Federal Constitution are frequently dismissed because the judgment can be sustained on an independent state ground. 

5. The Court will not pass upon the validity of a statute upon complaint of one who fails to show that he is injured by its operation. Among the many applications of this rule, none is more striking than the denial of the right of challenge to one who lacks a personal or property right. Thus, the challenge by a public official interested only in the performance of his official duty will not be entertained . . . In Fairchild v. Hughes, the Court affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by a citizen who sought to have the Nineteenth Amendment declared unconstitutional. In Massachusetts v. Mellon, the challenge of the federal Maternity Act was not entertained although made by the Commonwealth on behalf of all its citizens.

6. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of a statute at the instance of one who has availed himself of its benefits. 

7. When the validity of an act of the Congress is drawn in question, and even if a serious doubt of constitutionality is raised, it is a cardinal principle that this Court will first ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided (citations omitted).

what is "lis mota"?

Lis Mota
It is a well-settled maxim of adjudication that an issue assailing the constitutionality of a governmental act should be avoided whenever possible. Thus, in the case of Sotto v. Commission on Elections,115 this Court held:
x x x It is a well-established rule that a court should not pass upon a constitutional question and decide a law to be unconstitutional or invalid, unless such question is raised by the parties and that when it is raised, if the record also presents some other ground upon which the court may rest its judgment, that course will be adopted and the constitutional question will be left for consideration until a case arises in which a decision upon such question will be unavoidable.116 [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]
The same principle was applied in Luz Farms v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform,117 where this Court invalidated Sections 13 and 32 of Republic Act No. 6657 for being confiscatory and violative of due process, to wit:
It has been established that this Court will assume jurisdiction over a constitutional question only if it is shown that the essential requisites of a judicial inquiry into such a question are first satisfied. Thus, there must be an actual case or controversy involving a conflict of legal rights susceptible of judicial determination, the constitutional question must have been opportunely raised by the proper party, and the resolution of the question is unavoidably necessary to the decision of the case itself.118 [Emphasis supplied]
Succinctly put, courts will not touch the issue of constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the very lis mota or crux of the controversy.

what are standards that determine a "political question"?

Of these standards, the more reliable have been the first three:

 (1) a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department;

(2) the lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; and

 (3) the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion. These standards are not separate and distinct concepts but are interrelated to each in that the presence of one strengthens the conclusion that the others are also present.

what is a political question?

In the leading case of Tanada v. Cuenco,98 Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion defined the term "political question," viz:

[T]he term "political question" connotes, in legal parlance, what it means in ordinary parlance, namely,

 a question of policy

In other words, in the language of Corpus Juris Secundum, it refers to

 "those questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity

or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the Legislature or executive branch of the Government.

It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure.99 (Italics in the original) 

x x x
 Truly political questions are thus beyond judicial review, the reason for respect of the doctrine of separation of powers to be maintained. On the other hand, by virtue of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, courts can review questions which are not truly political in nature.



When suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the person complaining has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.77 In fine, when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right,78 the mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest.


In the case of a taxpayer, he is allowed to sue where there is a claim that public funds are illegally disbursed, or that public money is being deflected to any improper purpose, or that there is a wastage of public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law.79 Before he can invoke the power of judicial review, however, he must specifically prove that he has sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation and that he would sustain a direct injury as a result of the enforcement of the questioned statute or contract. It is not sufficient that he has merely a general interest common to all members of the public.80

At all events, courts are vested with discretion as to whether or not a taxpayer's suit should be entertained.81 This Court opts to grant standing to most of the petitioners, given their allegation that any impending transmittal to the Senate of the Articles of Impeachment and the ensuing trial of the Chief Justice will necessarily involve the expenditure of public funds. 


As for a legislator, he is allowed to sue to question the validity of any official action which he claims infringes his prerogatives as a legislator.82 Indeed, a member of the House of Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in his office.83

While an association has legal personality to represent its members,84 especially when it is composed of substantial taxpayers and the outcome will affect their vital interests,85 the mere invocation by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or any member of the legal profession of the duty to preserve the rule of law and nothing more, although undoubtedly true, does not suffice to clothe it with standing. Its interest is too general. It is shared by other groups and the whole citizenry. However, a reading of the petitions shows that it has advanced constitutional issues which deserve the attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents.86 It, therefore, behooves this Court to relax the rules on standing and to resolve the issues presented by it.

what is the difference between the rule on real-party-in-interest and the rule on standing?

There is, however, a difference between the rule on real-party-in-interest and the rule on standing, for the former is a concept of civil procedure73 while the latter has constitutional underpinnings.74 In view of the arguments set forth regarding standing, it behooves the Court to reiterate the ruling in Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato75 to clarify what is meant by locus standi and to distinguish it from real party-in-interest.
The difference between the rule on standing and real party in interest has been noted by authorities thus: "It is important to note . . . that standing because of its constitutional and public policy underpinnings, is very different from questions relating to whether a particular plaintiff is the real party in interest or has capacity to sue. Although all three requirements are directed towards ensuring that only certain parties can maintain an action, standing restrictions require a partial consideration of the merits, as well as broader policy concerns relating to the proper role of the judiciary in certain areas.
Standing is a special concern in constitutional law because in some cases suits are brought not by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or by official action taken, but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest. Hence the question in standing is whether such parties have "alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions."
x x x
On the other hand, the question as to "real party in interest" is whether he is "the party who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or the 'party entitled to the avails of the suit.'
Locus standi or legal standing or has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. The gist of the question of standing is whether a party alleges such personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.

state the essential requisites for judicial review

Essential Requisites for Judicial Review
As clearly stated in Angara v. Electoral Commission, the courts' power of judicial review, like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, is subject to several limitations, namely:
 (1) an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power;
 (2) the person challenging the act must have "standing" to challenge; he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; 
(3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and
 (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.

Give examples of cases in which the Court exercised the power of judicial review over congressional actions.

There is indeed a plethora of cases in which this Court exercised the power of judicial review over congressional action. 
Thus, in Santiago v. Guingona, Jr.,60 this Court ruled that it is well within the power and jurisdiction of the Court to inquire whether the Senate or its officials committed a violation of the Constitution or grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of their functions and prerogatives.
 In Tanada v. Angara,61 in seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravened the Constitution, it held that the petition raises a justiciable controversy and that when an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. 
 In Bondoc v. Pineda,62 this Court declared null and void a resolution of the House of Representatives withdrawing the nomination, and rescinding the election, of a congressman as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal for being violative of Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution. 
 In Coseteng v. Mitra,63 it held that the resolution of whether the House representation in the Commission on Appointments was based on proportional representation of the political parties as provided in Section 18, Article VI of the Constitution is subject to judicial review.
 In Daza v. Singson,64 it held that the act of the House of Representatives in removing the petitioner from the Commission on Appointments is subject to judicial review. 
In Tanada v. Cuenco,65 it held that although under the Constitution, the legislative power is vested exclusively in Congress, this does not detract from the power of the courts to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress. 
In Angara v. Electoral Commission,66 it ruled that confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member, irrespective of whether his election is contested, is not essential before such member-elect may discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of a member of the National Assembly.

compare the rule on impeachment between the U.S. and the Philippine Constitution?

There are also glaring distinctions between the U.S. Constitution and the Philippine Constitution with respect to the power of the House of Representatives over impeachment proceedings. While the U.S. Constitution bestows sole power of impeachment to the House of Representatives without limitation,54 our Constitution, though vesting in the House of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate impeachment cases,55 provides for several limitations to the exercise of such power as embodied in Section 3(2), (3), (4) and (5), Article XI thereof. These limitations include the manner of filing, required vote to impeach, and the one year bar on the impeachment of one and the same official.

what is the major difference between the judicial power of the Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme Court?

The major difference between the judicial power of the Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme Court is that while the power of judicial review is only impliedly granted to the U.S. Supreme Court and is discretionary in nature, that granted to the Philippine Supreme Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for in the Constitution, is not just a power but also a duty, and it was given an expanded definition to include the power to correct any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any government branch or instrumentality.

ut magis valeat quam pereat

ut magis valeat quam pereat. The Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole. Thus, in Chiongbian v. De Leon,42 this Court, through Chief Justice Manuel Moran declared:
x x x [T]he members of the Constitutional Convention could not have dedicated a provision of our Constitution merely for the benefit of one person without considering that it could also affect others. When they adopted subsection 2, they permitted, if not willed, that said provision should function to the full extent of its substance and its terms, not by itself alone, but in conjunction with all other provisions of that great document.43 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Likewise, still in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary,44 this Court affirmed that:
It is a well-established rule in constitutional construction that no one provision of the Constitution is to be separated from all the others, to be considered alone, but that all the provisions bearing upon a particular subject are to be brought into view and to be so interpreted as to effectuate the great purposes of the instrument. Sections bearing on a particular subject should be considered and interpreted together as to effectuate the whole purpose of the Constitution and one section is not to be allowed to defeat another, if by any reasonable construction, the two can be made to stand together.
In other words, the court must harmonize them, if practicable, and must lean in favor of a construction which will render every word operative, rather than one which may make the words idle and nugatory.45 (Emphasis supplied)
If, however, the plain meaning of the word is not found to be clear, resort to other aids is available. In still the same case of Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, this Court expounded:
While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the debates and proceedings of the constitutional convention in order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates in the constitutional convention "are of value as showing the views of the individual members, and as indicating the reasons for their votes, but they give us no light as to the views of the large majority who did not talk, much less of the mass of our fellow citizens whose votes at the polls gave that instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to construe the constitution from what appears upon its face." The proper interpretation therefore depends more on how it was understood by the people adopting it than in the framers's understanding thereof.46 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)


ratio legis est anima. The words of the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with the intent of its framers. And so did this Court apply this principle in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary38 in this wise:
A foolproof yardstick in constitutional construction is the intention underlying the provision under consideration. Thus, it has been held that the Court in construing a Constitution should bear in mind the object sought to be accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if any, sought to be prevented or remedied. A doubtful provision will be examined in the light of the history of the times, and the condition and circumstances under which the Constitution was framed. The object is to ascertain the reason which induced the framers of the Constitution to enact the particular provision and the purpose sought to be accomplished thereby, in order to construe the whole as to make the words consonant to that reason and calculated to effect that purpose.39 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As it did in Nitafan v. Commissioner on Internal Revenue40 where, speaking through Madame Justice Amuerfina A. Melencio-Herrera, it declared:
x x x The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental principle of constitutional construction that the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the people adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in constitutional construction is to ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the people in the adoption of the Constitution. It may also be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the framers.


First, verba legis, that is, wherever possible, the words used in the Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed. Thus, in J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration,36 this Court, speaking through Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, declared:
We look to the language of the document itself in our search for its meaning. We do not of course stop there, but that is where we begin. It is to be assumed that the words in which constitutional provisions are couched express the objective sought to be attained. They are to be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed in which case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the Constitution is not primarily a lawyer's document, it being essential for the rule of law to obtain that it should ever be present in the people's consciousness, its language as much as possible should be understood in the sense they have in common use. What it says according to the text of the provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the power of the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that the framers and the people mean what they say. Thus these are the cases where the need for construction is reduced to a minimum.37

what provision in the civil code acknowledges the power of judicial review as belonging to the courts?

Article 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or non-observance shall not be excused by disuse, or custom or practice to the contrary.
When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern.
Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution.

The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government.

 Who is to determine the nature, scope and extent of such powers? 

The Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. 


And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review under the Constitution