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De La Salle University University Student Government Judiciary Branch

MIKEE KARINA DE VEGA and JASON DON DIZON, Petitioners

- Versus -

CARLO IÑIGO V. INOCENCIO and PATRICK ANTHONY R. KAHN, Respondents

X--------------------------------------------------X

COMMENT/OPPOSITION (RE: RESPONDENTS’ MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND DISMISSAL DATED 7 NOVEMBER 2014)

I.

Introduction

We approach this honorable court on a matter of transcendental importance. At trial is not simply two concerned citizens and the University Student Governments top officials, but the entire democratic process protected by the USG Constitution. We approach this honorable court carrying the cause of defending democratic process as it ought to be both by the spirit of our Constitution and by the spirit of Faith, Service and Communion. We feel as petitioners, that the filed motion for reconsideration, its allegations and misguided judicial references lead the discussion away from the issue of constitutionality to the legal standing of the petitioners, whose concern they considered legitimate enough to be noticed and considered by the USG, as stated in the last paragraph in the second part of their Motion for Reconsideration. Given the serious allegations and misguided arguments contained in the Motion for Reconsideration that also prays for the dismissal of our petition, we feel that as petitioners, we are entitled by due process to file a comment in response. Hence, this comment/opposition.

II.

Grounds Relied Upon For The Comment/Opposition

Respondents raised the following arguments and counter-arguments in response to both the complaint petitioners filed through their Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Urgent Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or Writ for Preliminary Injunction filed and received by this Honorable Court last November 4, 2014, hereafter referred to as "Petition for Certiorari" and the resolution of this Honorable Court honoring the request for the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) released to both parties on the

same day, hereafter referred to as "Resolution":

THAT THERE WAS A VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS AND RIGHT OF RESPONSE ON THE PART OF BOTH THE PETITIONERS AND THIS HONORABLE COURT

THAT PETITIONERS DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO FILE THEIR PETITION FOR CERTIORARI DUE TO A LACK OF LOCUS STANDI ON THE MATTER

THAT THERE IS NO ACTUAL CONTROVERSY DUE TO LACK OF ACTUAL DAMAGES

THAT THE LEGAL QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY IS NOT THE MAIN ISSUE OF THE CASE BECAUSE THE ISSUE IS BASED ON FACTUALITY

THAT THE COURT TRIED TO USURP LEGISLATIVE POWER IN AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION

THAT THE PETITION WAS NOT RAISED AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY WHICH CONSTITUTES BAD FAITH AND CIRCUMVENTION OF THE PROPER METHOD OF DEMOCRACY AND REPRESENTATION

THAT THE DOCTRINE OF EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES MUST BE UPHELD IN THIS CASE

THAT THAT THE DOCTRINE OF REGULARITY AND OPERATIVE FACT MUST BE UPHELD IN THIS CASE

HENCE, this comment which aims to enlighten the court on some misconceptions that the respondents may have due to their attachment to the plebiscite.

The filing of this comment is in exercise of a right guaranteed by section 6, Rule 58 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which states, to wit:

Section 6. Grounds for objection to, or for motion of dissolution of, injunction or restraining order. The application for injunction or restraining order may be denied, upon a showing of its insufficiency. The injunction or restraining order may also be denied, or, if granted, may be dissolved, on other grounds upon affidavits of the party or person enjoined, which may be opposed by the applicant also by affidavits. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

III.

Discussion

Petitioners would like to oppose the following arguments and counter-arguments opposing parties have presented in their Motion for Reconsideration:

THAT THERE WAS A VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS AND RIGHT OF RESPONSE ON THE PART OF BOTH THE PETITIONERS AND THIS HONORABLE COURT

Respondents assert that they have not been notified nor given copies of the formal pleading filed by the petitioners and were only made aware by hearsay. It is under this premise that they claim that their right to response and due process have been violated.

While petitioners concede that the due process clause of the Constitution as an important aspect of the law, it must first be understood that due process does not mean that there must be specific methods of notification. Respondents have been furnished a copy of the complaint on November 4, 2014 by this Honorable Court via electronic mail through their respective e-mail accounts. We do not see why such a method of notification is invalid specially when respondents themselves have relied on this Honorable Court as an intermediary to facilitate the transfer and notification of legal documents regarding the issue. We say that these methods of notification are adequate.

Moreover, petitioners question the threshold of the respondents in their definition of what constitutes due process. In Ledesma v. Court of Appeals, the Court established the doctrine of due process:

"Due process, as a constitutional precept, does not always and in all situations require a trial-type proceeding. Due process is satisfied when a person is notified of the charges against him and given an opportunity to explain or defend himself."

Hence, in defense of this Honorable Court, respondentsclaim that their right to due process has been violated due to a lack of hearing cannot hold water in this discussion. They have been notified as explained in the foregoing but, moreover, their opportunity to explain and defend themselves are enshrined in the very document this Comment/Opposition is created for. Otherwise stated, the mere fact that the respondents have been able to file a Motion for Reconsideration is a testament to how this Honorable Court has been able to preserve their right to due process.

It is also important to examine the nature of the decision that the Honorable Court has

preemptively created. Petitioners once again concede that the standard for when the lack of notice for the preliminary injunction is acceptable is the great or irreparable injury test. According to the Philippine Supreme Court's decision in Social Security Commission vs. Bayona, "an irreparable

injury [ will enjoin includes that degree of wrong of a repeated and continuing kind which produce hurt, inconvenience, or damage that can be estimated only by conjecture, and not by any accurate standard of measurement" (emphasis and underscoring provided).

]

In this particular circumstance, respondents clearly skirted the issue because the injury that we have cited in our Petition for Certiorari was clearly not "[a] speculation or presumption of a low voters' turnout for the plebiscite." Our Petition for Certiorari does not even include any of the aforementioned terminologies. The injury pointed out was the fact that the rights of students to fully be represented and empowered in the process of constitutional amendment has been transgressed. Petitioners have proven this through the discussion on the exclusion of the freshmen electorate in the creation of the proposed amendments, the poor information dissemination, the lack of consultation of student sectors and the mishandling of voting procedures in Plebiscite 2014. This injury, not only to petitioners but to the entire student population, is irreparable as to continue the Plebiscite 2014 despite its unconstitutionality renders the entire process as null and void, or, worse, future generations of Lasallians would have to live under an unconstitutionally-amended constitution. Such an irony must not exist in order for us to protect the sanctity and integrity of the fundamental law of our University Student Government and petitioners believe that, as the vanguard of judicial interpretation and as an equal branch of government, the Judiciary ought to protect this right.

The provision of law allowing for the civil action for the Urgent Application for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), hereafter referred to as "Application for TRO," was created to prevent an irreparable injury, which petitioners have reiterated in the aforementioned. Respondents' challenge to petitioners to provide an actual and tangibly-measured damage is an unreasonable burden given that the only proof necessary was a conjecture, which by definition means "an opinion or idea formed without proof or sufficient evidence." (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) The possibility of the unconstitutionality, which the Judiciary has acknowledged in its decision to grant the Application for TRO, is a sufficient cause to continue said TRO. The same principle of prevention has been exercised by the Philippine Supreme Court which issued a TRO on the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and the disbursement acceleration fund (DAP) once issues of its constitutionality have been raised by individual concerned citizens.

Assuming only for the sake of argument, that the court has failed in notifying the respondents of charges brought upon them by the petition, we contend that this court has still acted within the reasonable bounds of their power as granted them by the 1997 Rules for Civil Procedure, where section 5 states, to wit:

Section 5. Preliminary injunction not granted without notice; exception. No preliminary injunction shall be granted without hearing and prior notice to the party or person sought to be enjoined. If it shall appear from facts shown by affidavits or by the verified application that great or irreparable injury would result to the applicant before the matter can be heard on notice, the court to which the application for preliminary injunction was made, may issue a temporary restraining order to be effective only for a period of twenty (20) days from service on the party or person sought to be enjoined, except as herein provided. Within the said twenty-day period, the court must order said party or person to show cause, at a specified time and place, why the injunction should not be granted, determine within the same period whether or not the preliminary injunction shall be granted, and accordingly issue the corresponding order. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Knowing very well the efficiency of COMELEC in canvassing votes and proclaiming results, canvassing and promulgation of the plebiscites results may have been over before this court

establishes beyond all reasonable doubt that the plebiscite was indeed unconstitutional, which would have mooted the petition way before it prospers.

The Court, in acting by enjoining all parties to temporarily cease activities regarding the plebiscite only acted in protection of the petitioners right to be free from great or irreparable injury, which the motion for reconsideration failed to refute.

Petitioners respectfully conclude that this Honorable Court did not violate the rights of the respondents to a due process despite the grant of the Application for TRO.

THAT PETITIONERS DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO FILE THEIR PETITION FOR CERTIORARI DUE TO A LACK OF LOCUS STANDI ON THE MATTER

Respondents claim that petitioners have no locus standi because the latter was "not actually damaged as constituents of the USG" and, thus, have no legal personality in order to file the Petition for Certiorari.

Petitioners would first like to point out a contradiction in the statements of the respondents. They cannot claim the absence of proof of damage as constituents because, first, they have conceded that both are qualified as stakeholders. A stakeholder, as defined, is "one who is involved in or affected by a course of action." (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) To agree that petitioners are stakeholders is a concession that there is a possibility of effects due to the Plebiscite 2014. Second, the claim that there is no damage to petitioners is blatantly contradictory to the statement of the respondents that "[petitioners'] direct injury is merely a far off and remote damage." This concedes that there is, in fact, a direct injury to be sustained by petitioners.

To begin with, however, respondents simply were unresponsive to the damages pointed out by the petitioners namely - (a) "both petitioners will be direct recipients of the possible results of the plebiscite should its invalidity continue to be unquestioned" and (b) "the continuation of a constitutionally invalid plebiscite is contrary to the rights of both petitioners, as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of Students, as enumerated in Article IV of the USG Constitution." Petitioners cannot fathom why respondents, who are both University Student Government officials, do not consider the possible transgression of rights of their constituents an actual damage. While we will agree that the implications of the passage or rejection of Plebiscite 2014 produce long-term damage, the continuation of an unconstitutional plebiscite is harmful in and of itself, which renders it deserving of a certiorari. In fact, according to Imbong v. Ochoa, "one can challenge the constitutionality of a statute only if he asserts a violation of his own rights." This is something petitioners were certainly able to do.

Respondents also seem to misdirect the Petition for Certiorari in their interpretation of the following discussion:

"Lastly,

given

that

the

matter

at

hand

is

a

question

of

constitutionality, the matter is considered to be of transcendental

importance. Assuming but not conceding the inexistence of direct

personal interest, petitioners may serve as representations of the public and the raising of this matter of transcendental importance is a matter that must be resolved not only for the current generation of Lasallians but also for the coming generations who will be affected by the constitutional amendments" (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

We would like to clarify that the words underscored was not a concession that petitioners were unable to cite actual damages. Rather, these statements refer to dynamism - as petitioners were dynamic and responsive enough to assume that, even in the absence of an actual damage, there is still cause for petitioners to file said Petition for Certiorari due to the doctrine of transcendental importance.

Respondents, however, "cautioned" this Honorable Court that "[the doctrine of] Transcendental Importance is a doctrine used to discuss moot and academic cases and serve as an exception to it and not something that can be used as basis for petitioners to properly invoke Judicial Review."

We disagree.

The doctrine of transcendental importance is NOT used to discuss moot and academic cases as, to begin with, there is no actual controversy in such. It is absurd for respondents to even assert that the Philippine Supreme Court would create a doctrine for discussions, over which they do not have any jurisdiction. What is certain, however, is that this doctrine may be invoked when the matter is of "overreaching significance to society or of paramount public interest" - that is, questions of constitutionality, which the Petition for Certiorari brings up to this Honorable Court. We caution this Honorable Court to refer to Banat v. COMELEC and discover, upon perusal, that the aforementioned case is not jurisprudence which clarifies the doctrine of transcendental importance but rather it decides upon the required percentage of voters in order for a party-list to win a seat in Congress.

Respondents claim that petitioners assume that, as ordinary undergraduate students, they serve as a representation of an entire majority who agrees with the stipulations of the Petition on Certiorari. Petitioners never made such claims. Moreover, such an allegation of the respondents is moot and irrelevant to this case. In Imbong v. Ochoa and Jaworski v. PAGCOR, the Philippine Supreme Court decreed that "rule on standing is merely a matter of procedure, hence, can be relaxed for non-traditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers and legislators when the public interest so requires, such that when the matter is of constitutionality or transcendental importance." Under this doctrine, it is not necessary for petitioners to obtain the signatures of a substantial number of students to sue in public interest; a written or online petition has never been required by any Philippine Court in order to sue for public interest. For instance, in Imbong v. Ochoa wherein concerned citizens filed a Petition for Certiorari on the Reproductive Health Law (which was granted due to its violation of the constitutional right to religion), the petitioners were named "JAMES M. IMBONG and LOVELY-ANN C. IMBONG, for themselves and in behalf of their minor children," which proves that individuals are allowed by Courts to sue in public interest.

Petitioners lastly question the allegations of respondents that the former does not have a "citizen standing" and is not a "tax payer." For at least a year now, both petitioners have been bona fide undergraduate students of the University and according to Article II of the USG Constitution, "The members of the USG shall be all undergraduate students of the University." Moreover, they are considered taxpayers because the main funding of the University Student Government comes from the tuition fee of the students, as well. This proves that both petitioners qualify as part of the non-traditional plaintiffs - in this case, ordinary citizens and taxpayers.

Petitioners do not understand the reasoning of the respondent when they claim that petitioners "cannot qualify as tax payers because they were not able to prove any appropriation made by the USG that would endanger and be tantamount to misused public student funds." The argument on taxpayers was made by petitioners as one of the proofs of their legal standing - their identity as taxpayers is what empowers them to question the constitutionality of the decisions of the institution to which they give sovereignty through, not only their votes, but also their taxes. This argument proves that the respondents, as University Student Government officials, are accountable to both petitioners. The logical underpinnings of respondents' argument simply does not work. The standing of petitioners as taxpayers is not contingent on the misappropriation of public student funds; in fact, corruption is immaterial to the standing of citizens as taxpayers.

Hence, given the aforementioned, both petitioners do have a legal standing in this issue.

THAT THERE IS NO ACTUAL CONTROVERSY DUE TO A LACK OF A WRITTEN OR ONLINE PETITION

Petitioners would first like to clarify what it really means to have an actual controversy. In Province of North Cotabato v. Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel on Ancestral Domain, the Philippine Supreme Court determined that the only standard of actual controversy is that the case must not be moot, academic or based on extra-legal and other similar considerations.

The mere question of constitutionality is a legal issue and a controversy that is relevant at this point in time. Mootness comes from the fact that the issues have already been resolved. In this case, the Petition for Certiorari's claims that the Plebiscite 2014 is unconstitutional given its non-compliance to certain provisions of the USG Constitution. We find that this Honorable Court has seen an actual controversy as they have granted the Application for TRO under the grounds that there might be a possiblity of unconstitutionality and have called for pre-hearing and hearing sessions. All these acts concede that there is a legal issue that must be settled.

Respondents assert that the only way for there to be an actual controversy on this matter is for there to be a written or online petition from the petitioners as exemplified by the cases Santiago v. COMELEC and Lambino v. COMELEC. These assertions are irrelevant. Written and online petitions are necessary should a concerned citizen desire to create amendments for the constitution; however, the purpose of the Petition for Certiorari is not to create a new constitutional amendment but rather to question the constitutionality of the process the University Student Government underwent to impose Plebiscite 2014. We agree the cases show what proper student or citizen initiative (the more politically-correct jargon is People's Initiative) but this

Petition for Certiorari is not of the same character. This assertion neither disproves the existence of an actual controversy nor does it prove anything in this legal issue.

THAT THE LEGAL QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY IS NOT THE MAIN ISSUE OF THE CASE BECAUSE THE ISSUE IS BASED ON FACTUALITY

Respondents claim that constitutionality because majority of the argumentation from both the petitioners and the Court are of factual issues. This claim is without merit. This argumentation relies on the logical underpinning that there is a wide distinction between questions of fact and questions of law such that it is not possible to have a mixture of the two.

Petitioners will agree that some of the argumentation in the Petition for Certiorari have yet to be verified factually (although petitioners have evidence ready to support their claims); however, the factual issues are part of the resolution of the legal issue of constitutionality. Respondents do not seem to understand the concept of lis mota - all that this requisite necessitates is that the main issue be about the constitutionality of an executive or legislative act but it does not invalidate a petition by virtue of the existence of factual issues. Lis mota dictates that other legislations must be utilized in order to resolve a dispute prior to questioning the constitutionality. In this case, there is no other way to resolve the dispute other than to answer the question of constitutionality.

Moreover, the factual issues are merely subsumed in the main legal issue of constitutionality - which, in legal parlance, is referred to as "mixed questions law and fact." In Latorre v. Latorre, the Philippine Supreme Court decreed:

"This Court [must] decide the case on the merits.

To do

so,

however, would require the examination by this Court of the probative value of the evidence presented."

This decision to refer back to evidences and factual issues is borne out of the fact that the Philippine Supreme Court acknowledges that factual issues are necessary to resolve legal issues.

Hence, in this case, the factual issues regarding the performance of the Legislative Assembly is merely subsidiary to main legal issue of constitutionality which proves that constitutionality remains to be the lis mota.

THAT THE COURT TRIED TO USURP LEGISLATIVE POWER IN AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION

Respondents asserted that this Honorable Court went beyond its jurisdiction and rashly and conspiratorially suggested that this is a move to usurp legislative power to amend the Constitution. In defense of this Honorable Court, we say that respondents have no basis for such claim except for the statement that the constitution does not prohibit the creation of amendments prior to freshmen elections. To rule in favor of petitioners, according to respondents, would be the creation of judicial legislations.

Such reasoning has no merit.

Petitioners based their claims of exclusion of the freshmen population on Article XXVI, Section

1:

"Any amendment or revision of this Constitution may be proposed by the students through an initiative upon a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the LA." (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Under this section, it is clear that two-thirds of the members of the Legislative Assembly must be present; however, no distinction has been made as to whether or not this Assembly should not include the freshmen Legislative Assembly Representatives. It is true that there is no prohibition on the creation of amendments without the completion of the Legislative Assembly but neither is there a statement from the constitution that allows upperclassmen from excluding freshmen Legislative Assembly Representatives in the creation of amendement. We think this is a matter of constitutional interpretation of the term "LA" - an act that only the Judiciary is empowered to do, not the Legislative and not the Executive.

Petitioners, however, would like to comment that the fairest way to interpret the use of the term "LA" is to include the freshmen Legislative Assembly Representatives. In Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, the Supreme 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." (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The problem with the notion that constitutional amendments can be made prior to the election of freshmen Legislative Assembly Representatives is that it is contradictory with the other provisions of the 2009 University Student Government Constitution, particularly the following:

Article III. Section 1 The USG shall have the power of which emanates from the student body. It shall be the sole, unified, autonomous and democratic representative body of the students.

Article IV. Section 9 Every student has the right to proper representation and participation in all policy-making bodies inside the University.

.

Both these sections refer to the right of students to be represented by the University Student

Government. Freshmen students are represented by their Legislative Assembly Representatives. Their opinion and input on the matter is equally important as that of upperclassmen; otherwise, the freshmen students should not be part of the plebiscite. But, the fact that they part of the plebiscite shows that they are equally protected by the Constitution insofar as their rights to participate in democracy is concerned. Petitioners do not see a reason by the same right should not be upheld in the preparatory process - that is, the creation of the proposed amendments. This is also in compliance with the equal protection clause in Article III, Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution which provides "Nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws." Upperclassmen are represented in the process of proposing amendments and ratifying said amendments; however, freshmen students are only able to access their rights in the process of ratifying. Such a distinction has no basis and should therefore not be upheld by this Honorable Court in the interest of fairness and equitability.

The Judiciary is the branch vested with the power to interpret the Constitution by the Constitution itself. To echo the Philippine Supreme Court in Imbong v. Ochoa, "when an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it not only becomes a right, but also a duty of the Judiciary to settle the dispute." This is not a usurpation of power but rather the exercise of the responsibility to balance the powers of other branches.

THAT THE PETITION WAS NOT RAISED AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY WHICH CONSTITUTES BAD FAITH AND CIRCUMVENTION OF THE PROPER METHOD OF DEMOCRACY AND REPRESENTATION

Respondents claim that the Petition for Certiorari was not raised at the earliest opportunity. However, they seem to have a misconception regarding the clause Issues of Constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity.

There are many remarkable mistakes with this claim. The very first being, that it unjustly transfers the burden of proving good faith on the petitioners, rather than the usual burden of proving bad faith on the part of the respondents. Equally remarkable, is the respondentsmisunderstanding of the concept of “earliest opportunity”. The only discussion provided by the Memorandum of Agreement in terms of violating the earliest opportunity rule is that

The petitioners however thought of it being convenient to file this case of stopping the plebiscite only when the USG already started its voting process, only after the COMELEC has spent on making ballots and preparing in numerous polling station.

The honorable court would note that nowhere in this line of thinking would prove, that even assuming the earliest opportunity clause meant what they thought it to be, there was a violation. In any case, this is not the true meaning of the earliest opportunity rule. The earliest opportunity rule does not point to a specific timeframe wherein a case may be filed, but it refers to a period in the proceedings. It states that for a petition to be valid for review in a hearing, it must be raised in the pleadings part of the proceeding. Earliest Opportunityrefers not to a point in the measurement of the continuous revolution of this earth, but the earliest time upon the initiation of the act. This specific view is taken by the court in Matibag vs. Benipayo 429 Phil. 554, when they held that if a matter was not raised in the pleadings of a trial, it cannot be considered in the trial, and if it is not considered in the trial, it may not be considered on appeal. Given that the

question on constitutionality is the very purpose of the petition, insofar as the petition and the rule is concerned, it is well within the earliest opportunity.

THAT THE DOCTRINE OF EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES MUST BE UPHELD IN THIS CASE

Petitioners outright deny the allegation that we have not exhausted administrative remedies. Petitioner DE VEGA was in attendance in the COLE meeting which, only at the time of this petition, found out to be about the constitutional amendments. It was in this meeting that she felt the immediate effect of being excluded from consultation for reasons earlier cited in this reply and in the original petition. Moreover, whatever openness the USG may claim to have in consultations regarding the amendments is not an adequate remedy for the relief sought by this petition, which is the nullification of an unconstitutional act by the USG. We do not understand how questions and answers may be an adequate remedy which qualifies non-exhaustion if the amendments were only made public at the time of finalization and a plebiscite is in place, and that the USG would have no incentive to respond to the relief being sought by this petition.

However, even assuming for the sake of argument that it was a valid administrative relief and that we have violated procedural law by non-exhaustion of administrative remedies, we contend that the nature of the petition falls under the special exceptions granted by the Philippine Supreme Court in Philippines vs. Lacap, which states, to wit:

Nonetheless, the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies and the corollary doctrine of primary jurisdiction, which are based on sound public policy and practical considerations, are not inflexible rules. There are many accepted exceptions, such as: (a) where there is estoppel on the part of the party invoking the doctrine; (b) where the challenged administrative act is patently illegal, amounting to lack of jurisdiction; (c) where there is unreasonable delay or official inaction that will irretrievably prejudice the complainant; (d) where the amount involved is relatively small so as to make the rule impractical and oppressive; (e) where the question involved is purely legal and will ultimately have to be decided by the courts of justice; (f) where judicial intervention is urgent; (g) when its application may cause great and irreparable damage; (h) where the controverted acts violate due process; (i) when the issue of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies has been rendered moot; (j) when there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy; (k) when strong public interest is involved; and, (l) in quo warranto proceedings.(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

We contend, by the standard of when strong public interest is involvedalone, we already qualify for an exception the rule of exhaustion of administrative remediesand therefore cannot be dismissed on such basis.

Moreover, a schedule released by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs shows that the USG made intentions of releasing information about the Plebiscite only on the 12 th of October 2014, 18 days before the start of the actual plebiscite. These 18 days were spent plotting and researching the methods by which the USG came up with the amendments and the process of holding the referendum. The insistence of the USG on the Plebiscites validity and their final decision to hold it offers the petitioners no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy to prevent the danger provided by the remedy and thus falls under another exception provided by People vs. Lacup.

Hence, respondents cannot claim that we the petitioners be in failure to comply with exhaustion of administrative remedies, but even in their ability to do so, we qualify for an exception based on jurisprudence laid down by the Supreme Court.

THAT THAT THE DOCTRINE OF REGULARITY AND OPERATIVE FACT MUST BE UPHELD IN THIS CASE

Respondents

Reconsideration.

claim

the

following

in

their

discussion

of

Part

II

in

their

Motion

for

We would also like to remind the court of both the doctrine of REGULARITY and OPERATIVE FACT which should apply in this situation, wherein in order to fully comprehend this the court could read the following cases:

CSC v. Joson, 429 SCRA 773

Tuandavs Sandiganbayan, 249 SCRA 342

Lino Luna vs Rodriguez, 37 Phil 136

US v. Abalos, 1 Phil. 73

Garchitorena v. Crescini, 37 Phil. 675

Dimaandalvs Commission on Audit, 291 SCRA, 322 and the recent case of Belgica vs.

Ochoa, G.R. No. 208493 (2013) regarding the PDAF Scandal

Also as held by the Philippine Supreme Court in Francisco vs House of Representative the court should always favor constitutionality with regards to acts of the government in order to ensure harmonious operation of governmental function, unless of course there be clear and convincing evidence to the contrary that Petitioners clearly lack in this case.

As a matter of response, we agree to the existence of the Doctrine of Operative Fact and Presumption of Constitutionality. We agree that these are privileges enjoyed by legislation. This whole discussion does not merit anything towards the dismissal of the petition since the dismissal cannot be issued on the basis of a presumption of constitutionality. The petition itself aims to discuss the constitutionality of the plebiscite and the TRO is issued towards protecting the integrity of that discussion, hence the lack of permanence. The very fact that we are fulfilling our burden in discussing the reasons why it should be unconstitutional means that we are acting with respect to the presumption of constitutionality, and the absence of a definitive ruling of the Court on its constitutionality leaves the presumption untouched. Whether or not the evidence to the contraryas indicated in the last line is sufficient is a matter that can be concluded by the court upon a perusal of presented evidence and a full hearing, not one that can be concluded by a respondent in an unsubstantiated sentence.

IV.

Conclusion

It may therefore be concluded, that the arguments presented for the purpose of dismissing our

petition and removing the TRO, failed to convince. The attacks on our non-compliance to procedural laws were blind not only to actual understanding of the procedures they aim to protect (in reference to the misunderstanding of Earliest opportunity) but also to the exceptions provided by law in which we qualify.

Moreover, the only possible grounds for the dismissal of the petition found in the Motion for Reconsideration and Dismissal filed by the respondents, is the insufficiency of proving the damage done and the unconstitutionality. This last attempt at dismissing the petition is no longer within the jurisdiction of procedural law since it necessitates a judgment on merit, not compliance, which may only be present at the conclusion of a hearing.

The only remaining justiciable issue, insofar as our original Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition is concerned, is the substance and the merit of our arguments on the Plebiscites constitutionality. It is therefore fitting that the Honorable Court should clear us of any procedural violations insofar as filing and hearing the petition is concerned.

V.

Prayer

WHEREFORE, petitioners implore and pray to this honorable judiciary that:

1. That the Motion for Reconsideration and Dismissal be junked and set aside

2. That the Hearing for the petition may be initiated at the soonest possible time, as the only remaining justiciable issue is the substance and the merit of the claims on unconstitutionality

Signed on this day, 8 th of November 2014

MIKEE KARINA DE VEGA Petitioner
MIKEE KARINA DE VEGA
Petitioner
JASON DON DIZON Petitioner
JASON DON DIZON
Petitioner