Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Police power versus eminent domain.

Police power versus eminent domain.

Police power is the inherent power of the State to regulate or to restrain the use of liberty and property for public welfare.[58] The only limitation is that the restriction imposed should be reasonable, not oppressive.[59] In other words, to be a valid exercise of police power, it must have a lawful subject or objective and a lawful method of accomplishing the goal.[60] Under the police power of the State, “property rights of individuals may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to fulfill the objectives of the government.”[61] The State “may interfere with personal liberty, property, lawful businesses and occupations to promote the general welfare [as long as] the interference [is] reasonable and not arbitrary.”[62] Eminent domain, on the other hand, is the inherent power of the State to take or appropriate private property for public use.[63] The Constitution, however, requires that private property shall not be taken without due process of law and the payment of just compensation.[64]

Traditional distinctions exist between police power and eminent domain.

In the exercise of police power, a property right is impaired by regulation,[65] or the use of property is merely prohibited, regulated or restricted[66] to promote public welfare. In such cases, there is no compensable taking, hence, payment of just compensation is not required. Examples of these regulations are property condemned for being noxious or intended for noxious purposes (e.g., a building on the verge of collapse to be demolished for public safety, or obscene materials to be destroyed in the interest of public morals)[67] as well as zoning ordinances prohibiting the use of property for purposes injurious to the health, morals or safety of the community (e.g., dividing a city’s territory into residential and industrial areas).[68] It has, thus, been observed that, in the exercise of police power (as distinguished from eminent domain), although the regulation affects the right of ownership, none of the bundle of rights which constitute ownership is appropriated for use by or for the benefit of the public.[69]

On the other hand, in the exercise of the power of eminent domain, property interests are appropriated and applied to some public purpose which necessitates the payment of just compensation therefor. Normally, the title to and possession of the property are transferred to the expropriating authority. Examples include the acquisition of lands for the construction of public highways as well as agricultural lands acquired by the government under the agrarian reform law for redistribution to qualified farmer beneficiaries. However, it is a settled rule that the acquisition of title or total destruction of the property is not essential for “taking” under the power of eminent domain to be present.[70] Examples of these include establishment of easements such as where the land owner is perpetually deprived of his proprietary rights because of the hazards posed by electric transmission lines constructed above his property[71] or the compelled interconnection of the telephone system between the government and a private company.[72] In these cases, although the private property owner is not divested of ownership or possession, payment of just compensation is warranted because of the burden placed on the property for the use or benefit of the public.

The 20% senior citizen discount is an exercise of police power.     

It may not always be easy to determine whether a challenged governmental act is an exercise of police power or eminent domain. The very nature of police power as elastic and responsive to various social conditions[73] as well as the evolving meaning and scope of public use[74] and just compensation[75] in eminent domain evinces that these are not static concepts. Because of the exigencies of rapidly changing times, Congress may be compelled to adopt or experiment with different measures to promote the general welfare which may not fall squarely within the traditionally recognized categories of police power and eminent domain. The judicious approach, therefore, is to look at the nature and effects of the challenged governmental act and decide, on the basis thereof, whether the act is the exercise of police power or eminent domain. Thus, we now look at the nature and effects of the 20% discount to determine if it constitutes an exercise of police power or eminent domain.

The 20% discount is intended to improve the welfare of senior citizens who, at their age, are less likely to be gainfully employed, more prone to illnesses and other disabilities, and, thus, in need of subsidy in purchasing basic commodities. It may not be amiss to mention also that the discount serves to honor senior citizens who presumably spent the productive years of their lives on contributing to the development and progress of the nation. This distinct cultural Filipino practice of honoring the elderly is an integral part of this law.

As to its nature and effects, the 20% discount is a regulation affecting the ability of private establishments to price their products and services relative to a special class of individuals, senior citizens, for which the Constitution affords preferential concern.[76] In turn, this affects the amount of profits or income/gross sales that a private establishment can derive from senior citizens. In other words, the subject regulation affects the pricing, and, hence, the profitability of a private establishment. However, it does not purport to appropriate or burden specific properties, used in the operation or conduct of the business of private establishments, for the use or benefit of the public, or senior citizens for that matter, but merely regulates the pricing of goods and services relative to, and the amount of profits or income/gross sales that such private establishments may derive from, senior citizens.

Friday, January 15, 2016

"It has been frequently decided, and it may be stated as a general rule recognized by all courts, that statutes providing for election contests are to be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officers may not be defeated by mere technical objections

Moreover, the Comelec Rules of Procedure are subject to a liberal construction. This liberality is for the purpose of promoting the effective and efficient implementation of the objectives of ensuring the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections and for achieving just, expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every action and proceeding brought before the Comelec.[17] Thus we have declared:
"It has been frequently decided, and it may be stated as a general rule recognized by all courts, that statutes providing for election contests are to be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officers may not be defeated by mere technical objections. An election contest, unlike an ordinary action, is imbued with public interest since it involves not only the adjudication of the private interests of rival candidates but also the paramount need of dispelling the uncertainty which beclouds the real choice of the electorate with respect to who shall discharge the prerogatives of the office within their gift. Moreover, it is neither fair nor just to keep in office for an uncertain period one whose right to it is under suspicion. It is imperative that his claim be immediately cleared not only for the benefit of the winner but for the sake of public interest, which can only be achieved by brushing aside technicalities of procedure which protract and delay the trial of an ordinary action."[18]

[ G.R. No. 138218, March 17, 2000 ]


The writ of amparo originated in Mexico. "Amparo" literally means "protection" in Spanish.[

The case at bar is the first decision on the application of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo (Amparo Rule). Let us hearken to its beginning.

The adoption of the Amparo Rule surfaced as a recurring proposition in the recommendations that resulted from a two-day National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances sponsored by the Court on July 16-17, 2007. The Summit was "envisioned to provide a broad and fact-based perspective on the issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,"[71] hence "representatives from all sides of the political and social spectrum, as well as all the stakeholders in the justice system"[72] participated in mapping out ways to resolve the crisis.

On October 24, 2007, the Court promulgated the Amparo Rule "in light of the prevalence of extralegal killing and enforced disappearances."[73] It was an exercise for the first time of the Court's expanded power to promulgate rules to protect our people's constitutional rights, which made its maiden appearance in the 1987 Constitution in response to the Filipino experience of the martial law regime.[74] As the Amparo Rule was intended to address the intractable problem of "extralegal killings" and "enforced disappearances," its coverage, in its present form, is confined to these two instances or to threats thereof. "Extralegal killings" are "killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings."[75] On the other hand, "enforced disappearances" are "attended by the following characteristics: an arrest, detention or abduction of a person by a government official or organized groups or private individuals acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the refusal of the State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the protection of law."[76]

The writ of amparo originated in Mexico. "Amparo" literally means "protection" in Spanish.[77] In 1837, de Tocqueville's Democracy in America became available in Mexico and stirred great interest. Its description of the practice of judicial review in the U.S. appealed to many Mexican jurists.[78] One of them, Manuel Crescencio Rejón, drafted a constitutional provision for his native state, Yucatan,[79] which granted judges the power to protect all persons in the enjoyment of their constitutional and legal rights. This idea was incorporated into the national constitution in 1847, viz:
The federal courts shall protect any inhabitant of the Republic in the exercise and preservation of those rights granted to him by this Constitution and by laws enacted pursuant hereto, against attacks by the Legislative and Executive powers of the federal or state governments, limiting themselves to granting protection in the specific case in litigation, making no general declaration concerning the statute or regulation that motivated the violation.[80]
Since then, the protection has been an important part of Mexican constitutionalism.[81] If, after hearing, the judge determines that a constitutional right of the petitioner is being violated, he orders the official, or the official's superiors, to cease the violation and to take the necessary measures to restore the petitioner to the full enjoyment of the right in question. Amparo thus combines the principles of judicial review derived from the U.S. with the limitations on judicial power characteristic of the civil law tradition which prevails in Mexico. It enables courts to enforce the constitution by protecting individual rights in particular cases, but prevents them from using this power to make law for the entire nation.[82]

The writofamparo then spread throughout the Western Hemisphere, gradually evolving into various forms, in response to the particular needs of each country.[83] It became, in the words of a justice of the Mexican Federal Supreme Court, one piece of Mexico's self-attributed "task of conveying to the world's legal heritage that institution which, as a shield of human dignity, her own painful history conceived."[84] What began as a protection against acts or omissions of public authorities in violation of constitutional rights later evolved for several purposes: (1) amparo libertad for the protection of personal freedom, equivalent to the habeas corpuswrit; (2) amparo contra leyes for the judicial review of the constitutionality of statutes; (3) amparo casacion for the judicial review of the constitutionality and legality of a judicial decision; (4) amparo administrativo for the judicial review of administrative actions; and (5) amparo agrario for the protection of peasants' rights derived from the agrarian reform process.[85]

In Latin American countries, except Cuba, the writofamparo has been constitutionally adopted to protect against human rights abuses especially committed in countries under military juntas. In general, these countries adopted an all-encompassing writ to protect the whole gamut of constitutional rights, including socio-economic rights.[86] Other countries like Colombia, Chile, Germany and Spain, however, have chosen to limit the protection of the writofamparo only to some constitutional guarantees or fundamental rights.[87]

In the Philippines, while the 1987 Constitution does not explicitly provide for the writofamparo, several of the above amparo protections are guaranteed by our charter. The second paragraph of Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, the Grave Abuse Clause, provides for the judicial power "to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government." The Clause accords a similar general protection to human rights extended by the amparo contra leyes, amparo casacion, and amparo administrativo. Amparo libertad is comparable to the remedy of habeas corpus found in several provisions of the 1987 Constitution.[88] The Clause is an offspring of the U.S. common law tradition of judicial review, which finds its roots in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison.[89]

While constitutional rights can be protected under the Grave Abuse Clause through remedies of injunction or prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court and a petition for habeas corpus under Rule 102,[90] these remedies may not be adequate to address the pestering problem of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. However, with the swiftness required to resolve a petition for a writofamparo through summary proceedings and the availability of appropriate interim and permanent reliefs under the Amparo Rule, this hybrid writ of the common law and civil law traditions - borne out of the Latin American and Philippine experience of human rights abuses - offers a better remedy to extralegal killings and enforced disappearances and threats thereof. The remedy provides rapid judicial relief as it partakes of a summary proceeding that requires only substantial evidence to make the appropriate reliefs available to the petitioner; it is not an action to determine criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or liability for damages requiring preponderance of evidence, or administrative responsibility requiring substantial evidence that will require full and exhaustive proceedings.[91]

The writofamparo serves both preventive and curative roles in addressing the problem of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. It is preventive in that it breaks the expectation of impunity in the commission of these offenses; it is curative in that it facilitates the subsequent punishment of perpetrators as it will inevitably yield leads to subsequent investigation and action. In the long run, the goal of both the preventive and curative roles is to deter the further commission of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.

In the case at bar, respondents initially filed an action for "Prohibition, Injunction, and Temporary Restraining Order"[92] to stop petitioners and/or their officers and agents from depriving the respondents of their right to liberty and other basic rights on August 23, 2007,[93] prior to the promulgation of the Amparo Rule. They also sought ancillary remedies including Protective Custody Orders, Appointment of Commissioner, Inspection and Access Orders and other legal and equitable remedies under Article VIII, Section 5(5) of the 1987 Constitution and Rule 135, Section 6 of the Rules of Court. When the Amparo Rule came into effect on October 24, 2007, they moved to have their petition treated as an amparo petition as it would be more effective and suitable to the circumstances of the Manalo brothers' enforced disappearance. The Court granted their motion.

With this backdrop, we now come to the arguments of the petitioner. Petitioners' first argument in disputing the Decision of the Court of Appeals states, viz:
The Court of Appeals seriously and grievously erred in believing and giving full faith and credit to the incredible uncorroborated, contradicted, and obviously scripted, rehearsed and self-serving affidavit/testimony of herein respondent Raymond Manalo.[94]

[ G.R. No. 180906, October 07, 2008 ]


[ G.R. No. 180906, October 07, 2008 ]