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JUAN DOMINO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, NARCISO Ra. GRAFILO, JR., EDDY B. JAVA, JUAN P. BAYONITO, JR.

, ROSARIO
SAMSON and DIONISIO P. LIM, SR., respondents.

LUCILLE CHIONGBIAN-SOLON, intervenor.

DECISION

DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:

Challenged in this case for certiorari with a prayer for preliminary injunction are the Resolution of 6 May 1998 [1] of the Second Division of
the Commission on Elections (hereafter COMELEC), declaring petitioner Juan Domino (hereafter DOMINO) disqualified as candidate for
representative of the Lone Legislative District of the Province of Sarangani in the 11 May 1998 elections, and the Decision of 29 May
1998[2] of the COMELEC en banc denying DOMINOs motion for reconsideration.

The antecedents are not disputed.

On 25 March 1998, DOMINO filed his certificate of candidacy for the position of Representative of the Lone Legislative District of the
Province of Sarangani indicating in item nine (9) of his certificate that he had resided in the constituency where he seeks to be elected for
one (1) year and two (2) months immediately preceding the election. [3]

On 30 March 1998, private respondents Narciso Ra. Grafilo, Jr., Eddy B. Java, Juan P. Bayonito, Jr., Rosario Samson and Dionisio P. Lim, Sr.,
filed with the COMELEC a Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy, which was docketed as SPA No. 98-022 and
assigned to the Second Division of the COMELEC. Private respondents alleged that DOMINO, contrary to his declaration in the certificate of
candidacy, is not a resident, much less a registered voter, of the province of Sarangani where he seeks election. To substantiate their
allegations, private respondents presented the following evidence:

1. Annex A the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent for the position of Congressman of the Lone District of the Province of Sarangani filed
with the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor of Sarangani on March 25, 1998, where in item 4 thereof he wrote his date of birth
as December 5, 1953; in item 9, he claims he have resided in the constituency where he seeks election for one (1) year and two (2) months;
and, in item 10, that he is registered voter of Precinct No. 14A-1, Barangay Poblacion, Alabel, Sarangani;

2. Annex B Voters Registration Record with SN 31326504 dated June 22, 1997 indicating respondents registration at Precinct No. 4400-A,
Old Balara, Quezon City;

3. Annex C Respondents Community Tax Certificate No. 11132214C dated January 15, 1997;

4. Annex D Certified true copy of the letter of Herson D. Dema-ala, Deputy Provincial & Municipal Treasurer of Alabel, Sarangani, dated
February 26, 1998, addressed to Mr. Conrado G. Butil, which reads:

In connection with your letter of even date, we are furnishing you herewith certified xerox copy of the triplicate copy of COMMUNITY TAX
CERTIFICATE NO. 11132214C in the name of Juan Domino.

Furthermore, Community Tax Certificate No. 11132212C of the same stub was issued to Carlito Engcong on September 5, 1997, while
Certificate No. 11132213C was also issued to Mr. Juan Domino but was cancelled and serial no. 11132215C was issued in the name of
Marianita Letigio on September 8, 1997.

5. Annex E The triplicate copy of the Community Tax Certificate No. 11132214C in the name of Juan Domino dated September 5, 1997;

6. Annex F Copy of the letter of Provincial Treasurer Lourdes P. Riego dated March 2, 1998 addressed to Mr. Herson D. Dema-ala, Deputy
Provincial Treasurer and Municipal Treasurer of Alabel, Sarangani, which states:

For easy reference, kindly turn-over to the undersigned for safekeeping, the stub of Community Tax Certificate containing Nos. 11132201C-
11132250C issued to you on June 13, 1997 and paid under Official Receipt No. 7854744.

Upon request of Congressman James L. Chiongbian.

7. Annex G Certificate of Candidacy of respondent for the position of Congressman in the 3 rd District of Quezon City for the 1995 elections
filed with the Office of the Regional Election Director, National Capital Region, on March 17, 1995, where, in item 4 thereof, he wrote his
birth date as December 22, 1953; in item 8 thereof his residence in the constituency where I seek to be elected immediately preceding the
election as 3 years and 5 months; and, in item 9, that he is a registered voter of Precinct No. 182, Barangay Balara, Quezon City;

8. Annex H a copy of the APPLICATION FOR TRANSFER OF REGISTRATION RECORDS DUE TO CHANGE OF RESIDENCE of respondent dated
August 30, 1997 addressed to and received by Election Officer Mantil Alim, Alabel, Sarangani, on September 22, 1997, stating among
others, that [T]he undersigneds previous residence is at 24 Bonifacio Street, Ayala Heights, Quezon City, III District, Quezon City; wherein he
is a registered voter and that for business and residence purposes, the undersigned has transferred and conducts his business and reside at
Barangay Poblacion, Alabel, Province of Sarangani prior to this application;
9. Annex I Copy of the SWORN APPLICATION FOR CANCELLATION OF VOTERS [TRANSFER OF] PREVIOUS REGISTRATION of respondent
subscribed and sworn to on 22 October 1997 before Election Officer Mantil Allim at Alabel, Sarangani. [4]

For his defense, DOMINO maintains that he had complied with the one-year residence requirement and that he has been residing in
Sarangani since January 1997. In support of the said contention, DOMINO presented before the COMELEC the following exhibits, to wit:

1. Annex 1 - Copy of the Contract of Lease between Nora Dacaldacal as Lessor and Administrator of the properties of deceased spouses
Maximo and Remedios Dacaldacal and respondent as Lessee executed on January 15, 1997, subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public
Johnny P. Landero;

2. Annex 2 - Copy of the Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate with Absolute Deed of sale executed by and between the heirs of deceased
spouses Maximo and Remedios Dacaldacal, namely: Maria Lourdes, Jupiter and Beberlie and the respondent on November 4, 1997,
subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Jose A. Alegario;

3. Annex 3 - True Carbon Xerox copy of the Decision dated January 19, 1998, of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Metro Manila, Branch 35,
Quezon City, in Election Case NO. 725 captioned as In the Matter of the Petition for the Exclusion from the List of voters of Precinct No.
4400-A Brgy. Old Balara, Quezon City, Spouses Juan and Zorayda Domino, Petitioners, -versus- Elmer M. Kayanan, Election Officer, Quezon
City, District III, and the Board of Election Inspectors of Precinct No. 4400-A, Old Balara, Quezon City, Respondents. The dispositive portion of
which reads:

1. Declaring the registration of petitioners as voters of Precinct No. 4400-A, Barangay Old Balara, in District III Quezon City as completely
erroneous as petitioners were no longer residents of Quezon City but of Alabel, Sarangani where they have been residing since December
1996;

2. Declaring this erroneous registration of petitioners in Quezon City as done in good faith due to an honest mistake caused by
circumstances beyond their control and without any fault of petitioners;

3. Approving the transfer of registration of voters of petitioners from Precinct No. 4400-A of Barangay Old Balara, Quezon City to Precinct
No. 14A1 of Barangay Poblacion of Alabel, Sarangani; and

4. Ordering the respondents to immediately transfer and forward all the election/voters registration records of the petitioners in Quezon
City to the Election Officer, the Election Registration Board and other Comelec Offices of Alabel, Sarangani where the petitioners are
obviously qualified to exercise their respective rights of suffrage.

4. Annex 4 - Copy of the Application for Transfer of Registration Records due to Change of Residence addressed to Mantil Alim, COMELEC
Registrar, Alabel, Sarangani, dated August 30, 1997.

5. Annex 5 - Certified True Copy of the Notice of Approval of Application, the roster of applications for registration approved by the Election
Registration Board on October 20, 1997, showing the spouses Juan and Zorayda Bailon Domino listed as numbers 111 and 112 both under
Precinct No. 14A1, the last two names in the slate indicated as transferees without VRR numbers and their application dated August 30,
1997 and September 30, 1997, respectively.

6. Annex 6 - same as Annex 5

7. Annex 6-a - Copy of the Sworn Application for Cancellation of Voters Previous Registration (Annex I, Petition);

8. Annex 7 - Copy of claim card in the name of respondent showing his VRR No. 31326504 dated October 20, 1997 as a registered voter of
Precinct No. 14A1, Barangay Poblacion, Alabel, Sarangani;

9. Annex 7-a - Certification dated April 16, 1998, issued by Atty. Elmer M. Kayanan, Election Officer IV, District III, Quezon City, which reads:

This is to certify that the spouses JUAN and ZORAYDA DOMINO are no longer registered voters of District III, Quezon City. Their registration
records (VRR) were transferred and are now in the possession of the Election Officer of Alabel, Sarangani.

This certification is being issued upon the request of Mr. JUAN DOMINO.

10. Annex 8 - Affidavit of Nora Dacaldacal and Maria Lourdes Dacaldacal stating the circumstances and incidents detailing their alleged
acquaintance with respondent.

11. Annexes 8-a, 8-b, 8-c and 8-d - Copies of the uniform affidavits of witness Myrna Dalaguit, Hilario Fuentes, Coraminda Lomibao and
Elena V. Piodos subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Bonifacio F. Doria, Jr., on April 18, 1998, embodying their alleged personal
knowledge of respondents residency in Alabel, Sarangani;

12. Annex 8-e - A certification dated April 20, 1998, subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Bonifacio, containing a listing of the
names of fifty-five(55) residents of Alabel, Sarangani, declaring and certifying under oath that they personally know the respondent as a
permanent resident of Alabel, Sarangani since January 1997 up to present;
13. Annexes 9, 9-a and 9-b- Copies of Individual Income Tax Return for the year 1997, BIR form 2316 and W-2, respectively, of respondent;
and,

14. Annex 10 - The affidavit of respondent reciting the chronology of events and circumstances leading to his relocation to the Municipality
of Alabel, Sarangani, appending Annexes A, B, C, D, D-1, E, F, G with sub-markings G-1 and G-2 and H his CTC No. 111`32214C dated
September 5, 1997, which are the same as Annexes 1, 2, 4, 5, 6-a, 3, 7, 9 with sub-markings 9-a and 9-b except Annex H.[5]

On 6 May 1998, the COMELEC 2nd Division promulgated a resolution declaring DOMINO disqualified as candidate for the position of
representative of the lone district of Sarangani for lack of the one-year residence requirement and likewise ordered the cancellation of his
certificate of candidacy, on the basis of the following findings:

What militates against respondents claim that he has met the residency requirement for the position sought is his own Voters Registration
Record No. 31326504 dated June 22, 1997 [Annex B, Petition] and his address indicated as 24 Bonifacio St., Ayala Heights, Old Balara,
Quezon City. This evidence, standing alone, negates all his protestations that he established residence at Barangay Poblacion, Alabel,
Sarangani, as early as January 1997. It is highly improbable, nay incredible, for respondent who previously ran for the same position in the
3rd Legislative District of Quezon City during the elections of 1995 to unwittingly forget the residency requirement for the office sought.

Counting, therefore, from the day after June 22, 1997 when respondent registered at Precinct No. 4400-A, up to and until the day of the
elections on May 11, 1998, respondent clearly lacks the one (1) year residency requirement provided for candidates for Member of the
House of Representatives under Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution.

All told, petitioners evidence conspire to attest to respondents lack of residence in the constituency where he seeks election and while it
may be conceded that he is a registered voter as contemplated under Section 12 of R.A. 8189, he lacks the qualification to run for the
position of Congressman for the Lone District of the Province of Sarangani. [6]

On 11 May 1998, the day of the election, the COMELEC issued Supplemental Omnibus Resolution No. 3046, ordering that the votes cast for
DOMINO be counted but to suspend the proclamation if winning, considering that the Resolution disqualifying him as candidate had not yet
become final and executory.[7]

The result of the election, per Statement of Votes certified by the Chairman of the Provincial Board of Canvassers, [8] shows that DOMINO
garnered the highest number of votes over his opponents for the position of Congressman of the Province of Sarangani.

On 15 May 1998, DOMINO filed a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated 6 May 1998, which was denied by the COMELEC en
banc in its decision dated 29 May 1998. Hence, the present Petition for Certiorari with prayer for Preliminary Mandatory Injunction alleging,
in the main, that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction when it ruled that he did
not meet the one-year residence requirement.

On 14 July 1998, acting on DOMINOs Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order, the Court directed the parties to maintain
the status quo prevailing at the time of the filing of the instant petition.[9]

On 15 September 1998, Lucille L. Chiongbian-Solon, (hereafter INTERVENOR), the candidate receiving the second highest number of votes,
was allowed by the Court to Intervene.[10]

INTERVENOR in her Motion for Leave to Intervene and in her Comment in Intervention[11] is asking the Court to uphold the disqualification of
petitioner Juan Domino and to proclaim her as the duly elected representative of Sarangani in the 11 May 1998 elections.

Before us DOMINO raised the following issues for resolution, to wit:

a. Whether or not the judgment of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City declaring petitioner as resident of Sarangani and not of
Quezon City is final, conclusive and binding upon the whole world, including the Commission on Elections.

b. Whether or not petitioner herein has resided in the subject congressional district for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the May
11, 1998 elections; and

c. Whether or not respondent COMELEC has jurisdiction over the petition a quo for the disqualification of petitioner.[12]

The first issue.

The contention of DOMINO that the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City in the exclusion proceedings declaring him a
resident of the Province of Sarangani and not of Quezon City is final and conclusive upon the COMELEC cannot be sustained.

The COMELEC has jurisdiction as provided in Sec. 78, Art. IX of the Omnibus Election Code, over a petition to deny due course to or cancel
certificate of candidacy. In the exercise of the said jurisdiction, it is within the competence of the COMELEC to determine whether false
representation as to material facts was made in the certificate of candidacy, that will include, among others, the residence of the candidate.
The determination of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City in the exclusion proceedings as to the right of DOMINO to be included or
excluded from the list of voters in the precinct within its territorial jurisdiction, does not preclude the COMELEC, in the determination of
DOMINOs qualification as a candidate, to pass upon the issue of compliance with the residency requirement.

The proceedings for the exclusion or inclusion of voters in the list of voters are summary in character. Thus, the factual findings of the trial
court and its resultant conclusions in the exclusion proceedings on matters other than the right to vote in the precinct within its territorial
jurisdiction are not conclusive upon the COMELEC. Although the court in inclusion or exclusion proceedings may pass upon any question
necessary to decide the issue raised including the questions of citizenship and residence of the challenged voter, the authority to order the
inclusion in or exclusion from the list of voters necessarily caries with it the power to inquire into and settle all matters essential to the
exercise of said authority. However, except for the right to remain in the list of voters or for being excluded therefrom for the particular
election in relation to which the proceedings had been held, a decision in an exclusion or inclusion proceeding, even if final and
unappealable, does not acquire the nature of res judicata.[13] In this sense, it does not operate as a bar to any future action that a party may
take concerning the subject passed upon in the proceeding.[14] Thus, a decision in an exclusion proceeding would neither be conclusive on
the voters political status, nor bar subsequent proceedings on his right to be registered as a voter in any other election. [15]

Thus, in Tan Cohon v. Election Registrar[16] we ruled that:

xxx It is made clear that even as it is here held that the order of the City Court in question has become final, the same does not
constitute res adjudicata as to any of the matters therein contained. It is ridiculous to suppose that such an important and intricate matter
of citizenship may be passed upon and determined with finality in such a summary and peremptory proceeding as that of inclusion and
exclusion of persons in the registry list of voters. Even if the City Court had granted appellants petition for inclusion in the permanent list of
voters on the allegation that she is a Filipino citizen qualified to vote, her alleged Filipino citizenship would still have been left open to
question.

Moreover, the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City in its 18 January decision exceeded its jurisdiction when it declared DOMINO a
resident of the Province of Sarangani, approved and ordered the transfer of his voters registration from Precinct No. 4400-A of Barangay
Old Balara, Quezon City to precinct 14A1 of Barangay Poblacion, Alabel, Sarangani. It is not within the competence of the trial court, in an
exclusion proceedings, to declare the challenged voter a resident of another municipality. The jurisdiction of the lower court over exclusion
cases is limited only to determining the right of voter to remain in the list of voters or to declare that the challenged voter is not qualified to
vote in the precinct in which he is registered, specifying the ground of the voters disqualification. The trial court has no power to order the
change or transfer of registration from one place of residence to another for it is the function of the election Registration Board as provided
under Section 12 of R.A. No. 8189.[17] The only effect of the decision of the lower court excluding the challenged voter from the list of
voters, is for the Election Registration Board, upon receipt of the final decision, to remove the voters registration record from the
corresponding book of voters, enter the order of exclusion therein, and thereafter place the record in the inactive file. [18]

Finally, the application of the rule on res judicata is unavailing. Identity of parties, subject matter and cause of action are indispensable
requirements for the application of said doctrine. Neither herein Private Respondents nor INTERVENOR, is a party in the exclusion
proceedings. The Petition for Exclusion was filed by DOMINO himself and his wife, praying that he and his wife be excluded from the Voters
List on the ground of erroneous registration while the Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy was filed by private
respondents against DOMINO for alleged false representation in his certificate of candidacy. For the decision to be a basis for the dismissal
by reason of res judicata, it is essential that there must be between the first and the second action identity of parties, identity of subject
matter and identity of causes of action.[19] In the present case, the aforesaid essential requisites are not present. In the case of Nuval v.
Guray, et al.,[20] the Supreme Court in resolving a similar issue ruled that:

The question to be solved under the first assignment of error is whether or not the judgment rendered in the case of the petition for the
exclusion of Norberto Gurays name from the election list of Luna, is res judicata, so as to prevent the institution and prosecution of an
action in quo warranto, which is now before us.

The procedure prescribed by section 437 of the Administrative Code, as amended by Act No. 3387, is of a summary character and the
judgment rendered therein is not appealable except when the petition is tried before the justice of the peace of the capital or the circuit
judge, in which case it may be appealed to the judge of first instance, with whom said two lower judges have concurrent jurisdiction.

The petition for exclusion was presented by Gregorio Nuval in his dual capacity as qualified voter of the municipality of Luna, and as a duly
registered candidate for the office of president of said municipality, against Norberto Guray as a registered voter in the election list of said
municipality. The present proceeding of quo warranto was interposed by Gregorio Nuval in his capacity as a registered candidate voted for
the office of municipal president of Luna, against Norberto Guray, as an elected candidate for the same office. Therefore, there is no
identity of parties in the two cases, since it is not enough that there be an identity of persons, but there must be an identity of capacities in
which said persons litigate. ( Art. 1259 of the Civil Code; Bowler vs. Estate of Alvarez, 23 Phil., 561; 34 Corpus Juris, p. 756, par. 1165)

In said case of the petition for the exclusion, the object of the litigation, or the litigious matter was the exclusion of Norberto Guray as a
voter from the election list of the municipality of Luna, while in the present quo warranto proceeding, the object of the litigation, or the
litigious matter is his exclusion or expulsion from the office to which he has been elected. Neither does there exist, then, any identity in the
object of the litigation, or the litigious matter.
In said case of the petition for exclusion, the cause of action was that Norberto Guray had not the six months legal residence in the
municipality of Luna to be a qualified voter thereof, while in the present proceeding of quo warranto, the cause of action is that Norberto
Guray has not the one years legal residence required for eligibility to the office of municipal president of Luna. Neither does there exist
therefore, identity of causes of action.

In order that res judicata may exist the following are necessary: (a) identity of parties; (b) identity of things; and (c) identity of issues
(Aquino vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil. 850). And as in the case of the petition for exclusion and in the present quo warranto proceeding, as
there is no identity of parties, or of things or litigious matter, or of issues or causes of action, there is no res judicata.

The Second Issue.

Was DOMINO a resident of the Province of Sarangani for at least one year immediately preceding the 11 May 1998 election as stated in his
certificate of candidacy?

We hold in the negative.

It is doctrinally settled that the term residence, as used in the law prescribing the qualifications for suffrage and for elective office, means
the same thing as domicile, which imports not only an intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled
with conduct indicative of such intention.[21]Domicile denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, whenever absent for business,
pleasure, or some other reasons, one intends to return.[22] Domicile is a question of intention and circumstances. In the consideration of
circumstances, three rules must be borne in mind, namely: (1) that a man must have a residence or domicile somewhere; (2) when once
established it remains until a new one is acquired; and (3) a man can have but one residence or domicile at a time.[23]

Records show that petitioners domicile of origin was Candon, Ilocos Sur [24] and that sometime in 1991, he acquired a new domicile of choice
at 24 Bonifacio St. Ayala Heights, Old Balara, Quezon City, as shown by his certificate of candidacy for the position of representative of the
3rd District of Quezon City in the May 1995 election. Petitioner is now claiming that he had effectively abandoned his residence in Quezon
City and has established a new domicile of choice at the Province of Sarangani.

A persons domicile once established is considered to continue and will not be deemed lost until a new one is established. [25] To successfully
effect a change of domicile one must demonstrate an actual removal or an actual change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning
the former place of residence and establishing a new one and definite acts which correspond with the purpose. [26] In other words, there
must basically be animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for
an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must
be actual.[27]

It is the contention of petitioner that his actual physical presence in Alabel, Sarangani since December 1996 was sufficiently established by
the lease of a house and lot located therein in January 1997 and by the affidavits and certifications under oath of the residents of that place
that they have seen petitioner and his family residing in their locality.

While this may be so, actual and physical is not in itself sufficient to show that from said date he had transferred his residence in that
place. To establish a new domicile of choice, personal presence in the place must be coupled with conduct indicative of that
intention. While residence simply requires bodily presence in a given place, domicile requires not only such bodily presence in that place
but also a declared and probable intent to make it ones fixed and permanent place of abode, ones home. [28]

As a general rule, the principal elements of domicile, physical presence in the locality involved and intention to adopt it as a domicile, must
concur in order to establish a new domicile. No change of domicile will result if either of these elements is absent. Intention to acquire a
domicile without actual residence in the locality does not result in acquisition of domicile, nor does the fact of physical presence without
intention.[29]

The lease contract entered into sometime in January 1997, does not adequately support a change of domicile. The lease contract may be
indicative of DOMINOs intention to reside in Sarangani but it does not engender the kind of permanency required to prove abandonment of
ones original domicile. The mere absence of individual from his permanent residence, no matter how long, without the intention to
abandon it does not result in loss or change of domicile.[30] Thus the date of the contract of lease of a house and lot located in the province
of Sarangani, i.e., 15 January 1997, cannot be used, in the absence of other circumstances, as the reckoning period of the one-year
residence requirement.

Further, Dominos lack of intention to abandon his residence in Quezon City is further strengthened by his act of registering as voter in one
of the precincts in Quezon City. While voting is not conclusive of residence, it does give rise to a strong presumption of residence especially
in this case where DOMINO registered in his former barangay. Exercising the right of election franchise is a deliberate public assertion of
the fact of residence, and is said to have decided preponderance is a doubtful case upon the place the elector claims as, or believes to be,
his residence.[31] The fact that a party continuously voted in a particular locality is a strong factor in assisting to determine the status of his
domicile.[32]
His claim that his registration in Quezon City was erroneous and was caused by events over which he had no control cannot be
sustained. The general registration of voters for purposes of the May 1998 elections was scheduled for two (2) consecutive weekends, viz.:
June 14, 15, 21, and 22.[33]

While, Dominos intention to establish residence in Sarangani can be gleaned from the fact that be bought the house he was renting on
November 4, 1997, that he sought cancellation of his previous registration in Quezon City on 22 October 1997, [34] and that he applied for
transfer of registration from Quezon City to Sarangani by reason of change of residence on 30 August 1997, [35] DOMINO still falls short of
the one year residency requirement under the Constitution.

In showing compliance with the residency requirement, both intent and actual presence in the district one intends to represent must satisfy
the length of time prescribed by the fundamental law.[36] Dominos failure to do so rendered him ineligible and his election to office null and
void.[37]

The Third Issue.

DOMINOs contention that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction in the present petition is bereft of merit.

As previously mentioned, the COMELEC, under Sec. 78, Art. IX of the Omnibus Election Code, has jurisdiction over a petition to deny due
course to or cancel certificate of candidacy. Such jurisdiction continues even after election, if for any reason no final judgment of
disqualification is rendered before the election, and the candidate facing disqualification is voted for and receives the highest number of
votes[38] and provided further that the winning candidate has not been proclaimed or has taken his oath of office. [39]

It has been repeatedly held in a number of cases, that the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunals sole and exclusive jurisdiction over
all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of Congress as provided under Section 17 of Article VI of the
Constitution begins only after a candidate has become a member of the House of Representatives. [40]

The fact of obtaining the highest number of votes in an election does not automatically vest the position in the winning candidate.[41] A
candidate must be proclaimed and must have taken his oath of office before he can be considered a member of the House of
Representatives.

In the instant case, DOMINO was not proclaimed as Congressman-elect of the Lone Congressional District of the Province of Sarangani by
reason of a Supplemental Omnibus Resolution issued by the COMELEC on the day of the election ordering the suspension of DOMINOs
proclamation should he obtain the winning number of votes. This resolution was issued by the COMELEC in view of the non-finality of its 6
May 1998 resolution disqualifying DOMINO as candidate for the position.

Considering that DOMINO has not been proclaimed as Congressman-elect in the Lone Congressional District of the Province of Sarangani he
cannot be deemed a member of the House of Representative. Hence, it is the COMELEC and not the Electoral Tribunal which has
jurisdiction over the issue of his ineligibility as a candidate.[42]

Issue raised by INTERVENOR.

After finding that DOMINO is disqualified as candidate for the position of representative of the province of Sarangani, may INTERVENOR, as
the candidate who received the next highest number of votes, be proclaimed as the winning candidate?

It is now settled doctrine that the candidate who obtains the second highest number of votes may not be proclaimed winner in case the
winning candidate is disqualified.[43]

In every election, the peoples choice is the paramount consideration and their expressed will must, at all times, be given effect. When the
majority speaks and elects into office a candidate by giving the highest number of votes cast in the election for that office, no one can be
declared elected in his place.[44]

It would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally guaranteed right to suffrage if a candidate who has not
acquired the majority or plurality of votes is proclaimed a winner and imposed as the representative of a constituency, the majority of
which have positively declared through their ballots that they do not choose him. [45] To simplistically assume that the second placer would
have received the other votes would be to substitute our judgment for the mind of the voters. He could not be considered the first among
qualified candidates because in a field which excludes the qualified candidate, the conditions would have substantially changed.[46]

Sound policy dictates that public elective offices are filled by those who have received the highest number of votes cast in the election for
that office, and it is fundamental idea in all republican forms of government that no one can be declared elected and no measure can be
declared carried unless he or it receives a majority or plurality of the legal votes cast in the election. [47]

The effect of a decision declaring a person ineligible to hold an office is only that the election fails entirely, that the wreath of victory cannot
be transferred[48]from the disqualified winner to the repudiated loser because the law then as now only authorizes a declaration of election
in favor of the person who haS obtained a plurality of votes [49] and does not entitle the candidate receiving the next highest number of
votes to be declared elected. In such case, the electors have failed to make a choice and the election is a nullity.[50] To allow the defeated
and repudiated candidate to take over the elective position despite his rejection by the electorate is to disenfranchise the electorate
without any fault on their part and to undermine the importance and meaning of democracy and the peoples right to elect officials of their
choice.[51]

INTERVENORs plea that the votes cast in favor of DOMINO be considered stray votes cannot be sustained. INTERVENORs reliance on the
opinion made in the Labo, Jr. case[52] to wit: if the electorate, fully aware in fact and in law of a candidates disqualification so as to bring
such awareness within the realm of notoriety, would nevertheless cast their votes in favor of the ineligible candidate, the electorate may be
said to have waived the validity and efficacy of their votes by notoriously misapplying their franchise or throwing away their votes, in which
case, the eligible candidate obtaining the next higher number of votes may be deemed elected, is misplaced.

Contrary to the claim of INTERVENOR, petitioner was not notoriously known by the public as an ineligible candidate. Although the
resolution declaring him ineligible as candidate was rendered before the election, however, the same is not yet final and executory. In fact,
it was no less than the COMELEC in its Supplemental Omnibus Resolution No. 3046 that allowed DOMINO to be voted for the office and
ordered that the votes cast for him be counted as the Resolution declaring him ineligible has not yet attained finality. Thus the votes cast
for DOMINO are presumed to have been cast in the sincere belief that he was a qualified candidate, without any intention to misapply their
franchise. Thus, said votes can not be treated as stray, void, or meaningless. [53]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED. The resolution dated 6 May 1998 of the COMELEC 2nd Division and the decision dated 29
May 1998 of the COMELEC En Banc, are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 202242 April 16, 2013

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, Petitioner,


vs.
JUDICIALAND BAR COUNCIL, SEN. FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO and REP. NIEL C. TUPAS, JR.,Respondents.

RESOLUTION

MENDOZA, J.:

This resolves the Motion for Reconsideration 1 filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on behalf of the respondents, Senator
Francis Joseph G. Escudero and Congressman Niel C. Tupas, Jr. (respondents), duly opposed 2 by the petitioner, former Solicitor General
Francisco I. Chavez (petitioner).

By way of recapitulation, the present action stemmed from the unexpected departure of former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona on May 29,
2012, and the nomination of petitioner, as his potential successor. In his initiatory pleading, petitioner asked the Court to determine 1]
whether the first paragraph of Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution allows more than one (1) member of Congress to sit in the
JBC; and 2] if the practice of having two (2) representatives from each House of Congress with one (1) vote each is sanctioned by the
Constitution.

On July 17, 2012, the Court handed down the assailed subject decision, disposing the same in the following manner:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The current numerical composition of the Judicial and Bar Council is declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
The Judicial and Bar Council is hereby enjoined to reconstitute itself so that only one (1) member of Congress will sit as a representative in
its proceedings, in accordance with Section 8(1), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution.

This disposition is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

On July 31, 2012, following respondents motion for reconsideration and with due regard to Senate Resolution Nos. 111,3 112,4 113,5 and
114,6 the Court set the subject motion for oral arguments on August 2, 2012. 7 On August 3, 2012, the Court discussed the merits of the
arguments and agreed, in the meantime, to suspend the effects of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the July 17, 2012
Decision which decreed that it was immediately executory. The decretal portion of the August 3, 2012 Resolution 8 reads:

WHEREFORE, the parties are hereby directed to submit their respective MEMORANDA within ten (10) days from notice. Until further
orders, the Court hereby SUSPENDS the effect of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the Courts July 17, 2012 Decision,
which reads: "This disposition is immediately executory."9

Pursuant to the same resolution, petitioner and respondents filed their respective memoranda. 10

Brief Statement of the Antecedents

In this disposition, it bears reiterating that from the birth of the Philippine Republic, the exercise of appointing members of the Judiciary has
always been the exclusive prerogative of the executive and legislative branches of the government. Like their progenitor of American
origins, both the Malolos Constitution11 and the 1935 Constitution12vested the power to appoint the members of the Judiciary in the
President, subject to confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. It was during these times that the country became witness to the
deplorable practice of aspirants seeking confirmation of their appointment in the Judiciary to ingratiate themselves with the members of
the legislative body.13

Then, under the 1973 Constitution,14 with the fusion of the executive and legislative powers in one body, the appointment of judges and
justices ceased to be subject of scrutiny by another body. The power became exclusive and absolute to the Executive, subject only to the
condition that the appointees must have all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications.

Prompted by the clamor to rid the process of appointments to the Judiciary of the evils of political pressure and partisan activities,15 the
members of the Constitutional Commission saw it wise to create a separate, competent and independent body to recommend nominees to
the President.

Thus, it conceived of a body, representative of all the stakeholders in the judicial appointment process, and called it the Judicial and Bar
Council (JBC). The Framers carefully worded Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution in this wise:

Section 8. (1) A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex
officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex officio Members, a representative of the Integrated
Bar, a professor of law, a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector.

From the moment of the creation of the JBC, Congress designated one (1) representative to sit in the JBC to act as one of the ex-officio
members.16 Pursuant to the constitutional provision that Congress is entitled to one (1) representative, each House sent a representative to
the JBC, not together, but alternately or by rotation.

In 1994, the seven-member composition of the JBC was substantially altered.1wphi1 An eighth member was added to the JBC as the two
(2) representatives from Congress began sitting simultaneously in the JBC, with each having one-half (1/2) of a vote.17

In 2001, the JBC En Banc decided to allow the representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives one full vote each.18 It has
been the situation since then.

Grounds relied upon by Respondents

Through the subject motion, respondents pray that the Court reconsider its decision and dismiss the petition on the following grounds: 1]
that allowing only one representative from Congress in the JBC would lead to absurdity considering its bicameral nature; 2] that the failure
of the Framers to make the proper adjustment when there was a shift from unilateralism to bicameralism was a plain oversight; 3] that two
representatives from Congress would not subvert the intention of the Framers to insulate the JBC from political partisanship; and 4] that
the rationale of the Court in declaring a seven-member composition would provide a solution should there be a stalemate is not exactly
correct.

While the Court may find some sense in the reasoning in amplification of the third and fourth grounds listed by respondents, still, it finds
itself unable to reverse the assailed decision on the principal issues covered by the first and second grounds for lack of merit. Significantly,
the conclusion arrived at, with respect to the first and second grounds, carries greater bearing in the final resolution of this case.

As these two issues are interrelated, the Court shall discuss them jointly.

Ruling of the Court

The Constitution evinces the direct action of the Filipino people by which the fundamental powers of government are established, limited
and defined and by which those powers are distributed among the several departments for their safe and useful exercise for the benefit of
the body politic.19 The Framers reposed their wisdom and vision on one suprema lex to be the ultimate expression of the principles and the
framework upon which government and society were to operate. Thus, in the interpretation of the constitutional provisions, the Court
firmly relies on the basic postulate that the Framers mean what they say. The language used in the Constitution must be taken to have been
deliberately chosen for a definite purpose. Every word employed in the Constitution must be interpreted to exude its deliberate intent
which must be maintained inviolate against disobedience and defiance. What the Constitution clearly says, according to its text, compels
acceptance and bars modification even by the branch tasked to interpret it.

For this reason, the Court cannot accede to the argument of plain oversight in order to justify constitutional construction. As stated in the
July 17, 2012 Decision, in opting to use the singular letter "a" to describe "representative of Congress," the Filipino people through the
Framers intended that Congress be entitled to only one (1) seat in the JBC. Had the intention been otherwise, the Constitution could have,
in no uncertain terms, so provided, as can be read in its other provisions.

A reading of the 1987 Constitution would reveal that several provisions were indeed adjusted as to be in tune with the shift to
bicameralism. One example is Section 4, Article VII, which provides that a tie in the presidential election shall be broken "by a majority of all
the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately." 20 Another is Section 8 thereof which requires the nominee to replace the
Vice-President to be confirmed "by a majority of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately."21 Similarly, under
Section 18, the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus may be revoked or continued by
the Congress, voting separately, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members." 22 In all these provisions, the bicameral nature of
Congress was recognized and, clearly, the corresponding adjustments were made as to how a matter would be handled and voted upon by
its two Houses.

Thus, to say that the Framers simply failed to adjust Section 8, Article VIII, by sheer inadvertence, to their decision to shift to a bicameral
form of the legislature, is not persuasive enough. Respondents cannot just lean on plain oversight to justify a conclusion favorable to them.
It is very clear that the Framers were not keen on adjusting the provision on congressional representation in the JBC because it was not in
the exercise of its primary function to legislate. JBC was created to support the executive power to appoint, and Congress, as one whole
body, was merely assigned a contributory non-legislative function.

The underlying reason for such a limited participation can easily be discerned. Congress has two (2) Houses. The need to recognize the
existence and the role of each House is essential considering that the Constitution employs precise language in laying down the functions
which particular House plays, regardless of whether the two Houses consummate an official act by voting jointly or separately. Whether in
the exercise of its legislative23 or its non-legislative functions such as inter alia, the power of appropriation,24 the declaration of an
existence of a state of war,25 canvassing of electoral returns for the President and Vice-President,26 and impeachment,27 the dichotomy of
each House must be acknowledged and recognized considering the interplay between these two Houses. In all these instances, each House
is constitutionally granted with powers and functions peculiar to its nature and with keen consideration to 1) its relationship with the other
chamber; and 2) in consonance with the principle of checks and balances, as to the other branches of government.

In checkered contrast, there is essentially no interaction between the two Houses in their participation in the JBC. No mechanism is
required between the Senate and the House of Representatives in the screening and nomination of judicial officers. Rather, in the creation
of the JBC, the Framers arrived at a unique system by adding to the four (4) regular members, three (3) representatives from the major
branches of government - the Chief Justice as ex-officio Chairman (representing the Judicial Department), the Secretary of Justice
(representing the Executive Department), and a representative of the Congress (representing the Legislative Department). The total is
seven (7), not eight. In so providing, the Framers simply gave recognition to the Legislature, not because it was in the interest of a certain
constituency, but in reverence to it as a major branch of government.

On this score, a Member of Congress, Hon. Simeon A. Datumanong, from the Second District of Maguindanao, submitted his well-
considered position28 to then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno:

I humbly reiterate my position that there should be only one representative of Congress in the JBC in accordance with Article VIII, Section 8
(1) of the 1987 Constitution x x x.

The aforesaid provision is clear and unambiguous and does not need any further interpretation. Perhaps, it is apt to mention that the oft-
repeated doctrine that "construction and interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or
inadequate without them."

Further, to allow Congress to have two representatives in the Council, with one vote each, is to negate the principle of equality among the
three branches of government which is enshrined in the Constitution.

In view of the foregoing, I vote for the proposition that the Council should adopt the rule of single representation of Congress in the JBC in
order to respect and give the right meaning to the above-quoted provision of the Constitution. (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

On March 14, 2007, then Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, also a JBC Consultant, submitted to the Chief Justice and ex-officio JBC
Chairman his opinion,29 which reads:

8. Two things can be gleaned from the excerpts and citations above: the creation of the JBC is intended to curtail the influence of politics in
Congress in the appointment of judges, and the understanding is that seven (7) persons will compose the JBC. As such, the interpretation of
two votes for Congress runs counter to the intendment of the framers. Such interpretation actually gives Congress more influence in the
appointment of judges. Also, two votes for Congress would increase the number of JBC members to eight, which could lead to voting
deadlock by reason of even-numbered membership, and a clear violation of 7 enumerated members in the Constitution. (Emphases and
underscoring supplied)

In an undated position paper,30 then Secretary of Justice Agnes VST Devanadera opined:

As can be gleaned from the above constitutional provision, the JBC is composed of seven (7) representatives coming from different sectors.
From the enumeration it is patent that each category of members pertained to a single individual only. Thus, while we do not lose sight of
the bicameral nature of our legislative department, it is beyond dispute that Art. VIII, Section 8 (1) of the 1987 Constitution is explicit and
specific that "Congress" shall have only "xxx a representative." Thus, two (2) representatives from Congress would increase the number of
JBC members to eight (8), a number beyond what the Constitution has contemplated. (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

In this regard, the scholarly dissection on the matter by retired Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, a former JBC consultant, is worth
reiterating.31 Thus:

A perusal of the records of the Constitutional Commission reveals that the composition of the JBC reflects the Commissions desire "to have
in the Council a representation for the major elements of the community." xxx The ex-officio members of the Council consist of
representatives from the three main branches of government while the regular members are composed of various stakeholders in the
judiciary. The unmistakeable tenor of Article VIII, Section 8(1) was to treat each ex-officio member as representing one co-equal branch of
government. xxx Thus, the JBC was designed to have seven voting members with the three ex-officio members having equal say in the
choice of judicial nominees.

xxx

No parallelism can be drawn between the representative of Congress in the JBC and the exercise by Congress of its legislative powers under
Article VI and constituent powers under Article XVII of the Constitution. Congress, in relation to the executive and judicial branches of
government, is constitutionally treated as another co-equal branch in the matter of its representative in the JBC. On the other hand, the
exercise of legislative and constituent powers requires the Senate and the House of Representatives to coordinate and act as distinct bodies
in furtherance of Congress role under our constitutional scheme. While the latter justifies and, in fact, necessitates the separateness of the
two Houses of Congress as they relate inter se, no such dichotomy need be made when Congress interacts with the other two co-equal
branches of government.

It is more in keeping with the co-equal nature of the three governmental branches to assign the same weight to considerations that any of
its representatives may have regarding aspiring nominees to the judiciary. The representatives of the Senate and the House of
Representatives act as such for one branch and should not have any more quantitative influence as the other branches in the exercise of
prerogatives evenly bestowed upon the three. Sound reason and principle of equality among the three branches support this conclusion.
[Emphases and underscoring supplied]

The argument that a senator cannot represent a member of the House of Representatives in the JBC and vice-versa is, thus, misplaced. In
the JBC, any member of Congress, whether from the Senate or the House of Representatives, is constitutionally empowered to represent
the entire Congress. It may be a constricted constitutional authority, but it is not an absurdity.

From this score stems the conclusion that the lone representative of Congress is entitled to one full vote. This pronouncement effectively
disallows the scheme of splitting the said vote into half (1/2), between two representatives of Congress. Not only can this unsanctioned
practice cause disorder in the voting process, it is clearly against the essence of what the Constitution authorized. After all, basic and
reasonable is the rule that what cannot be legally done directly cannot be done indirectly. To permit or tolerate the splitting of one vote
into two or more is clearly a constitutional circumvention that cannot be countenanced by the Court. Succinctly put, when the Constitution
envisioned one member of Congress sitting in the JBC, it is sensible to presume that this representation carries with him one full vote.

It is also an error for respondents to argue that the President, in effect, has more influence over the JBC simply because all of the regular
members of the JBC are his appointees. The principle of checks and balances is still safeguarded because the appointment of all the regular
members of the JBC is subject to a stringent process of confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, which is composed of members
of Congress.

Respondents contention that the current irregular composition of the JBC should be accepted, simply because it was only questioned for
the first time through the present action, deserves scant consideration. Well-settled is the rule that acts done in violation of the
Constitution no matter how frequent, usual or notorious cannot develop or gain acceptance under the doctrine of estoppel or laches,
because once an act is considered as an infringement of the Constitution it is void from the very beginning and cannot be the source of any
power or authority.

It would not be amiss to point out, however, 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. This rule, however, is not absolute.
Under the doctrine of operative facts, actions previous to the declaration of unconstitutionality are legally recognized. They are not
nullified. This is essential in the interest of fair play. To reiterate the doctrine enunciated in Planters Products, Inc. v. Fertiphil Corporation: 32

The doctrine of operative fact, as an exception to the general rule, only applies as a matter of equity and fair play. 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.33

Under 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.

Considering that the Court is duty bound to protect the Constitution which was ratified by the direct action of the Filipino people, it cannot
correct what respondents perceive as a mistake in its mandate. Neither can the Court, in the exercise of its power to interpret the spirit of
the Constitution, read into the law something that is contrary to its express provisions and justify the same as correcting a perceived
inadvertence. To do so would otherwise sanction the Court action of making amendment to the Constitution through a judicial
pronouncement.

In other words, the Court cannot supply the legislative omission. According to the rule of casus omissus "a case omitted is to be held as
intentionally omitted."34 "The principle proceeds from a reasonable certainty that a particular person, object or thing has been omitted
from a legislative enumeration."35 Pursuant to this, "the Court cannot under its power of interpretation supply the omission even though
the omission may have resulted from inadvertence or because the case in question was not foreseen or contemplated." 36 "The Court
cannot supply what it thinks the legislature would have supplied had its attention been called to the omission, as that would be judicial
legislation."37
Stated differently, the Court has no power to add another member by judicial construction.

The call for judicial activism fails to stir the sensibilities of the Court tasked to guard the Constitution against usurpation. The Court remains
steadfast in confining its powers in the sphere granted by the Constitution itself. Judicial activism should never be allowed to become
judicial exuberance.38 In cases like this, no amount of practical logic or convenience can convince the Court to perform either an excision or
an insertion that will change the manifest intent of the Framers. To broaden the scope of congressional representation in the JBC is
tantamount to the inclusion of a subject matter which was not included in the provision as enacted. True to its constitutional mandate, the
Court cannot craft and tailor constitutional provisions in order to accommodate all of situations no matter how ideal or reasonable the
proposed solution may sound. To the exercise of this intrusion, the Court declines.

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondents is hereby DENIED.

The suspension of the effects of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the July 17, 2012 Decision of the Court, which reads,
"This disposition is immediately executory," is hereby LIFTED.

SO ORDERED.

SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY (SJS), G.R. No. 157870

Petitioner,

- versus -

DANGEROUS DRUGS BOARD and

PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT

AGENCY (PDEA),

Respondents.

x-----------------------------------------------x

ATTY. MANUEL J. LASERNA, JR., G.R. No. 158633

Petitioner,

- versus -

DANGEROUS DRUGS BOARD and

PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT

AGENCY,

Respondents.

x-----------------------------------------------x

AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., G.R. No. 161658

Petitioner,

Present:

PUNO, C.J.,

QUISUMBING,

YNARES-SANTIAGO,

CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
- versus - CORONA,

CARPIO MORALES,

AZCUNA,

TINGA,

CHICO-NAZARIO,

VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA,

REYES,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and

BRION, JJ.

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Promulgated:

Respondent.

November 3, 2008

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

In these kindred petitions, the constitutionality of Section 36 of Republic Act No. (RA) 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, insofar as it requires mandatory drug testing of candidates for public office, students of secondary and
tertiary schools, officers and employees of public and private offices, and persons charged before the prosecutors office with certain
offenses, among other personalities, is put in issue.

As far as pertinent, the challenged section reads as follows:

SEC. 36. Authorized Drug Testing.Authorized drug testing shall be done by any government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug
testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the DOH to safeguard the quality of the test results. x x x The drug testing shall employ,
among others, two (2) testing methods, the screening test which will determine the positive result as well as the type of drug used and the
confirmatory test which will confirm a positive screening test. x x x The following shall be subjected to undergo drug testing:

xxxx

(c) Students of secondary and tertiary schools.Students of secondary and tertiary schools shall, pursuant to the related rules and
regulations as contained in the schools student handbook and with notice to the parents, undergo a random drug testing x x x;

(d) Officers and employees of public and private offices.Officers and employees of public and private offices, whether domestic or overseas,
shall be subjected to undergo a random drug test as contained in the companys work rules and regulations, x x x for purposes of reducing
the risk in the workplace. Any officer or employee found positive for use of dangerous drugs shall be dealt with administratively which shall
be a ground for suspension or termination, subject to the provisions of Article 282 of the Labor Code and pertinent provisions of the Civil
Service Law;
xxxx

(f) All persons charged before the prosecutors office with a criminal offense having an imposable penalty of imprisonment of not less than
six (6) years and one (1) day shall undergo a mandatory drug test;

(g) All candidates for public office whether appointed or elected both in the national or local government shall undergo a mandatory drug
test.

In addition to the above stated penalties in this Section, those found to be positive for dangerous drugs use shall be subject to the
provisions of Section 15 of this Act.

G.R. No. 161658 (Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. v. Commission on Elections)

On December 23, 2003, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) issued Resolution No. 6486, prescribing the rules and regulations on the
mandatory drug testing of candidates for public office in connection with the May 10, 2004 synchronized national and local elections. The
pertinent portions of the said resolution read as follows:

WHEREAS, Section 36 (g) of Republic Act No. 9165 provides:

SEC. 36. Authorized Drug Testing.x x x

xxxx

(g) All candidates for public office x x x both in the national or local government shall undergo a mandatory drug test.

WHEREAS, Section 1, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides that public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the
people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency;

WHEREAS, by requiring candidates to undergo mandatory drug test, the public will know the quality of candidates they are electing and
they will be assured that only those who can serve with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency would be elected x x x.

NOW THEREFORE, The [COMELEC], pursuant to the authority vested in it under the Constitution, Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 (Omnibus
Election Code), [RA] 9165 and other election laws, RESOLVED to promulgate, as it hereby promulgates, the following rules and regulations
on the conduct of mandatory drug testing to candidates for public office[:]

SECTION 1. Coverage.All candidates for public office, both national and local, in the May 10, 2004 Synchronized National and Local
Elections shall undergo mandatory drug test in government forensic laboratories or any drug testing laboratories monitored and accredited
by the Department of Health.
SEC. 3. x x x

On March 25, 2004, in addition to the drug certificates filed with their respective offices, the Comelec Offices and employees concerned
shall submit to the Law Department two (2) separate lists of candidates. The first list shall consist of those candidates who complied with
the mandatory drug test while the second list shall consist of those candidates who failed to comply x x x.

SEC. 4. Preparation and publication of names of candidates.Before the start of the campaign period, the [COMELEC] shall prepare two
separate lists of candidates. The first list shall consist of those candidates who complied with the mandatory drug test while the second list
shall consist of those candidates who failed to comply with said drug test. x x x

SEC. 5. Effect of failure to undergo mandatory drug test and file drug test certificate.No person elected to any public office shall enter upon
the duties of his office until he has undergone mandatory drug test and filed with the offices enumerated under Section 2 hereof the drug
test certificate herein required. (Emphasis supplied.)

Petitioner Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., a senator of the Republic and a candidate for re-election in the May 10, 2004 elections,[1] filed a Petition
for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65. In it, he seeks (1) to nullify Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC Resolution No. 6486 dated
December 23, 2003 for being unconstitutional in that they impose a qualification for candidates for senators in addition to those already
provided for in the 1987 Constitution; and (2) to enjoin the COMELEC from implementing Resolution No. 6486.

Pimentel invokes as legal basis for his petition Sec. 3, Article VI of the Constitution, which states:

SECTION 3. No person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and, on the day of the election, is at least
thirty-five years of age, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately
preceding the day of the election.

According to Pimentel, the Constitution only prescribes a maximum of five (5) qualifications for one to be a candidate for, elected to, and
be a member of the Senate. He says that both the Congress and COMELEC, by requiring, via RA 9165 and Resolution No. 6486, a senatorial
aspirant, among other candidates, to undergo a mandatory drug test, create an additional qualification that all candidates for senator must
first be certified as drug free. He adds that there is no provision in the Constitution authorizing the Congress or COMELEC to expand the
qualification requirements of candidates for senator.

G.R. No. 157870 (Social Justice Society v. Dangerous

Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency)

In its Petition for Prohibition under Rule 65, petitioner Social Justice Society (SJS), a registered political party, seeks to prohibit the
Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) from enforcing paragraphs (c), (d), (f), and (g) of Sec. 36
of RA 9165 on the ground that they are constitutionally infirm. For one, the provisions constitute undue delegation of legislative power
when they give unbridled discretion to schools and employers to determine the manner of drug testing. For another, the provisions trench
in the equal protection clause inasmuch as they can be used to harass a student or an employee deemed undesirable. And for a third, a
persons constitutional right against unreasonable searches is also breached by said provisions.

G.R. No. 158633 (Atty. Manuel J. Laserna, Jr. v. Dangerous


Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency)

Petitioner Atty. Manuel J. Laserna, Jr., as citizen and taxpayer, also seeks in his Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 that Sec.
36(c), (d), (f), and (g) of RA 9165 be struck down as unconstitutional for infringing on the constitutional right to privacy, the right against
unreasonable search and seizure, and the right against self-incrimination, and for being contrary to the due process and equal protection
guarantees.

The Issue on Locus Standi

First off, we shall address the justiciability of the cases at bench and the matter of the standing of petitioners SJS and Laserna to sue. As
respondents DDB and PDEA assert, SJS and Laserna failed to allege any incident amounting to a violation of the constitutional rights
mentioned in their separate petitions.[2]

It is basic that the power of judicial review can only be exercised in connection with a bona fide controversy which involves the statute
sought to be reviewed.[3] But even with the presence of an actual case or controversy, the Court may refuse to exercise judicial review
unless the constitutional question is brought before it by a party having the requisite standing to challenge it. [4] To have standing, one must
establish that he or she has suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government; the
injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable action. [5]

The rule on standing, however, is a matter of procedure; hence, it can be relaxed for non-traditional plaintiffs, like ordinary citizens,
taxpayers, and legislators when the public interest so requires, such as when the matter is of transcendental importance, of overarching
significance to society, or of paramount public interest.[6] There is no doubt that Pimentel, as senator of the Philippines and candidate for
the May 10, 2004 elections, possesses the requisite standing since he has substantial interests in the subject matter of the petition, among
other preliminary considerations. Regarding SJS and Laserna, this Court is wont to relax the rule on locus standi owing primarily to the
transcendental importance and the paramount public interest involved in the enforcement of Sec. 36 of RA 9165.

The Consolidated Issues

The principal issues before us are as follows:

(1) Do Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC Resolution No. 6486 impose an additional qualification for candidates for senator? Corollarily,
can Congress enact a law prescribing qualifications for candidates for senator in addition to those laid down by the Constitution? and

(2) Are paragraphs (c), (d), (f), and (g) of Sec. 36, RA 9165 unconstitutional? Specifically, do these paragraphs violate the right to privacy, the
right against unreasonable searches and seizure, and the equal protection clause? Or do they constitute undue delegation of legislative
power?

Pimentel Petition

(Constitutionality of Sec. 36[g] of RA 9165 and

COMELEC Resolution No. 6486)


In essence, Pimentel claims that Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC Resolution No. 6486 illegally impose an additional qualification on
candidates for senator. He points out that, subject to the provisions on nuisance candidates, a candidate for senator needs only to meet the
qualifications laid down in Sec. 3, Art. VI of the Constitution, to wit: (1) citizenship, (2) voter registration, (3) literacy, (4) age, and (5)
residency. Beyond these stated qualification requirements, candidates for senator need not possess any other qualification to run for
senator and be voted upon and elected as member of the Senate. The Congress cannot validly amend or otherwise modify these
qualification standards, as it cannot disregard, evade, or weaken the force of a constitutional mandate, [7] or alter or enlarge the
Constitution.

Pimentels contention is well-taken. Accordingly, Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 should be, as it is hereby declared as, unconstitutional. It is basic that
if a law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is null and void and has no effect. The Constitution is
the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution. [8] In the discharge of their defined
functions, the three departments of government have no choice but to yield obedience to the commands of the Constitution.Whatever
limits it imposes must be observed.[9]

Congress inherent legislative powers, broad as they may be, are subject to certain limitations. As early as 1927, in Government v. Springer,
the Court has defined, in the abstract, the limits on legislative power in the following wise:

Someone has said that the powers of the legislative department of the Government, like the boundaries of the ocean, are unlimited. In
constitutional governments, however, as well as governments acting under delegated authority, the powers of each of the departments x x
x are limited and confined within the four walls of the constitution or the charter, and each department can only exercise such powers as
are necessarily implied from the given powers. The Constitution is the shore of legislative authority against which the waves of legislative
enactment may dash, but over which it cannot leap.[10]

Thus, legislative power remains limited in the sense that it is subject to substantive and constitutional limitations which circumscribe both
the exercise of the power itself and the allowable subjects of legislation. [11] The substantive constitutional limitations are chiefly found in
the Bill of Rights[12] and other provisions, such as Sec. 3, Art. VI of the Constitution prescribing the qualifications of candidates for senators.

In the same vein, the COMELEC cannot, in the guise of enforcing and administering election laws or promulgating rules and regulations to
implement Sec. 36(g), validly impose qualifications on candidates for senator in addition to what the Constitution prescribes. If Congress
cannot require a candidate for senator to meet such additional qualification, the COMELEC, to be sure, is also without such power. The right
of a citizen in the democratic process of election should not be defeated by unwarranted impositions of requirement not otherwise
specified in the Constitution.[13]

Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165, as sought to be implemented by the assailed COMELEC resolution, effectively enlarges the qualification requirements
enumerated in the Sec. 3, Art. VI of the Constitution. As couched, said Sec. 36(g) unmistakably requires a candidate for senator to be
certified illegal-drug clean, obviously as a pre-condition to the validity of a certificate of candidacy for senator or, with like effect, a
condition sine qua non to be voted upon and, if proper, be proclaimed as senator-elect. The COMELEC resolution completes the chain with
the proviso that [n]o person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has undergone mandatory drug
test.Viewed, therefore, in its proper context, Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and the implementing COMELEC Resolution add another qualification
layer to what the 1987 Constitution, at the minimum, requires for membership in the Senate. Whether or not the drug-free bar set up
under the challenged provision is to be hurdled before or after election is really of no moment, as getting elected would be of little value if
one cannot assume office for non-compliance with the drug-testing requirement.

It may of course be argued, in defense of the validity of Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165, that the provision does not expressly state that non-
compliance with the drug test imposition is a disqualifying factor or would work to nullify a certificate of candidacy. This argument may be
accorded plausibility if the drug test requirement is optional. But the particular section of the law, without exception, made drug-testing on
those covered mandatory, necessarily suggesting that the obstinate ones shall have to suffer the adverse consequences for not adhering to
the statutory command. And since the provision deals with candidates for public office, it stands to reason that the adverse consequence
adverted to can only refer to and revolve around the election and the assumption of public office of the candidates. Any other construal
would reduce the mandatory nature of Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 into a pure jargon without meaning and effect whatsoever.
While it is anti-climactic to state it at this juncture, COMELEC Resolution No. 6486 is no longer enforceable, for by its terms, it was intended
to cover only the May 10, 2004 synchronized elections and the candidates running in that electoral event. Nonetheless, to obviate
repetition, the Court deems it appropriate to review and rule, as it hereby rules, on its validity as an implementing issuance.

It ought to be made abundantly clear, however, that the unconstitutionality of Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 is rooted on its having infringed the
constitutional provision defining the qualification or eligibility requirements for one aspiring to run for and serve as senator.

SJS Petition

(Constitutionality of Sec. 36[c], [d], [f], and [g] of RA 9165)

The drug test prescribed under Sec. 36(c), (d), and (f) of RA 9165 for secondary and tertiary level students and public and private
employees, while mandatory, is a random and suspicionless arrangement. The objective is to stamp out illegal drug and safeguard in the
process the well being of [the] citizenry, particularly the youth, from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs. This statutory purpose, per the
policy-declaration portion of the law, can be achieved via the pursuit by the state of an intensive and unrelenting campaign against the
trafficking and use of dangerous drugs x x x through an integrated system of planning, implementation and enforcement of anti-drug abuse
policies, programs and projects.[14] The primary legislative intent is not criminal prosecution, as those found positive for illegal drug use as a
result of this random testing are not necessarily treated as criminals. They may even be exempt from criminal liability should the illegal drug
user consent to undergo rehabilitation. Secs. 54 and 55 of RA 9165 are clear on this point:

Sec. 54. Voluntary Submission of a Drug Dependent to Confinement, Treatment and Rehabilitation.A drug dependent or any person who
violates Section 15 of this Act may, by himself/herself or through his/her parent, [close relatives] x x x apply to the Board x x x for treatment
and rehabilitation of the drug dependency. Upon such application, the Board shall bring forth the matter to the Court which shall order that
the applicant be examined for drug dependency. If the examination x x x results in the certification that the applicant is a drug dependent,
he/she shall be ordered by the Court to undergo treatment and rehabilitation in a Center designated by the Board x x x.

xxxx

Sec. 55. Exemption from the Criminal Liability Under the Voluntary Submission Program.A drug dependent under the voluntary submission
program, who is finally discharged from confinement, shall be exempt from the criminal liability under Section 15 of this Act subject to the
following conditions:

xxxx

School children, the US Supreme Court noted, are most vulnerable to the physical, psychological, and addictive effects of drugs. Maturing
nervous systems of the young are more critically impaired by intoxicants and are more inclined to drug dependency. Their recovery is also
at a depressingly low rate.[15]

The right to privacy has been accorded recognition in this jurisdiction as a facet of the right protected by the guarantee against
unreasonable search and seizure[16] under Sec. 2, Art. III[17] of the Constitution. But while the right to privacy has long come into its own, this
case appears to be the first time that the validity of a state-decreed search or intrusion through the medium of mandatory random drug
testing among students and employees is, in this jurisdiction, made the focal point. Thus, the issue tendered in these proceedings is
veritably one of first impression.
US jurisprudence is, however, a rich source of persuasive jurisprudence. With respect to random drug testing among school children, we
turn to the teachings of Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton (Vernonia) and Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of
Pottawatomie County, et al. v. Earls, et al. (Board of Education),[18] both fairly pertinent US Supreme Court-decided cases involving the
constitutionality of governmental search.

In Vernonia, school administrators in Vernonia, Oregon wanted to address the drug menace in their respective institutions following the
discovery of frequent drug use by school athletes. After consultation with the parents, they required random urinalysis drug testing for the
schools athletes. James Acton, a high school student, was denied participation in the football program after he refused to undertake the
urinalysis drug testing. Acton forthwith sued, claiming that the schools drug testing policy violated, inter alia, the Fourth Amendment[19] of
the US Constitution.

The US Supreme Court, in fashioning a solution to the issues raised in Vernonia, considered the following: (1) schools stand in loco
parentis over their students; (2) school children, while not shedding their constitutional rights at the school gate, have less privacy rights;
(3) athletes have less privacy rights than non-athletes since the former observe communal undress before and after sports events; (4) by
joining the sports activity, the athletes voluntarily subjected themselves to a higher degree of school supervision and regulation; (5)
requiring urine samples does not invade a students privacy since a student need not undress for this kind of drug testing; and (6) there is
need for the drug testing because of the dangerous effects of illegal drugs on the young. The US Supreme Court held that the policy
constituted reasonable search under the Fourth[20] and 14th Amendments and declared the random drug-testing policy constitutional.

In Board of Education, the Board of Education of a school in Tecumseh, Oklahoma required a drug test for high school students desiring to
join extra-curricular activities. Lindsay Earls, a member of the show choir, marching band, and academic team declined to undergo a drug
test and averred that the drug-testing policy made to apply to non-athletes violated the Fourth and 14th Amendments. As Earls argued,
unlike athletes who routinely undergo physical examinations and undress before their peers in locker rooms, non-athletes are entitled to
more privacy.

The US Supreme Court, citing Vernonia, upheld the constitutionality of drug testing even among non-athletes on the basis of the schools
custodial responsibility and authority. In so ruling, said court made no distinction between a non-athlete and an athlete. It ratiocinated that
schools and teachers act in place of the parents with a similar interest and duty of safeguarding the health of the students. And in holding
that the school could implement its random drug-testing policy, the Court hinted that such a test was a kind of search in which even a
reasonable parent might need to engage.

In sum, what can reasonably be deduced from the above two cases and applied to this jurisdiction are: (1) schools and their administrators
stand in loco parentis with respect to their students; (2) minor students have contextually fewer rights than an adult, and are subject to the
custody and supervision of their parents, guardians, and schools; (3) schools, acting in loco parentis, have a duty to safeguard the health
and well-being of their students and may adopt such measures as may reasonably be necessary to discharge such duty; and (4) schools
have the right to impose conditions on applicants for admission that are fair, just, and non-discriminatory.

Guided by Vernonia and Board of Education, the Court is of the view and so holds that the provisions of RA 9165 requiring mandatory,
random, and suspicionless drug testing of students are constitutional. Indeed, it is within the prerogative of educational institutions to
require, as a condition for admission, compliance with reasonable school rules and regulations and policies. To be sure, the right to enroll is
not absolute; it is subject to fair, reasonable, and equitable requirements.

The Court can take judicial notice of the proliferation of prohibited drugs in the country that threatens the well-being of the
people,[21]particularly the youth and school children who usually end up as victims. Accordingly, and until a more effective method is
conceptualized and put in motion, a random drug testing of students in secondary and tertiary schools is not only acceptable but may even
be necessary if the safety and interest of the student population, doubtless a legitimate concern of the government, are to be promoted
and protected. To borrow from Vernonia, [d]eterring drug use by our Nations schoolchildren is as important as enhancing efficient
enforcement of the Nations laws against the importation of drugs; the necessity for the State to act is magnified by the fact that the effects
of a drug-infested school are visited not just upon the users, but upon the entire student body and faculty. [22] Needless to stress, the
random testing scheme provided under the law argues against the idea that the testing aims to incriminate unsuspecting individual
students.
Just as in the case of secondary and tertiary level students, the mandatory but random drug test prescribed by Sec. 36 of RA 9165 for
officers and employees of public and private offices is justifiable, albeit not exactly for the same reason. The Court notes in this regard that
petitioner SJS, other than saying that subjecting almost everybody to drug testing, without probable cause, is unreasonable, an
unwarranted intrusion of the individual right to privacy, [23] has failed to show how the mandatory, random, and suspicionless drug testing
under Sec. 36(c) and (d) of RA 9165 violates the right to privacy and constitutes unlawful and/or unconsented search under Art. III, Secs. 1
and 2 of the Constitution.[24] Petitioner Lasernas lament is just as simplistic, sweeping, and gratuitous and does not merit serious
consideration. Consider what he wrote without elaboration:

The US Supreme Court and US Circuit Courts of Appeals have made various rulings on the constitutionality of mandatory drug tests in the
school and the workplaces. The US courts have been consistent in their rulings that the mandatory drug tests violate a citizens
constitutional right to privacy and right against unreasonable search and seizure. They are quoted extensively hereinbelow. [25]

The essence of privacy is the right to be left alone.[26] In context, the right to privacy means the right to be free from unwarranted
exploitation of ones person or from intrusion into ones private activities in such a way as to cause humiliation to a persons ordinary
sensibilities. [27] And while there has been general agreement as to the basic function of the guarantee against unwarranted search,
translation of the abstract prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures into workable broad guidelines for the decision of
particular cases is a difficult task, to borrow from C. Camara v. Municipal Court.[28] Authorities are agreed though that the right to
privacy yields to certain paramount rights of the public and defers to the states exercise of police power.[29]

As the warrantless clause of Sec. 2, Art III of the Constitution is couched and as has been held, reasonableness is the touchstone of the
validity of a government search or intrusion.[30] And whether a search at issue hews to the reasonableness standard is judged by the
balancing of the government-mandated intrusion on the individuals privacy interest against the promotion of some compelling state
interest.[31] In the criminal context, reasonableness requires showing of probable cause to be personally determined by a judge. Given that
the drug-testing policy for employeesand students for that matterunder RA 9165 is in the nature of administrative search needing what was
referred to in Vernonia as swift and informal disciplinary procedures, the probable-cause standard is not required or even practicable. Be
that as it may, the review should focus on the reasonableness of the challenged administrative search in question.

The first factor to consider in the matter of reasonableness is the nature of the privacy interest upon which the drug testing, which effects a
search within the meaning of Sec. 2, Art. III of the Constitution, intrudes. In this case, the office or workplace serves as the backdrop for the
analysis of the privacy expectation of the employees and the reasonableness of drug testing requirement. The employees privacy interest in
an office is to a large extent circumscribed by the companys work policies, the collective bargaining agreement, if any, entered into by
management and the bargaining unit, and the inherent right of the employer to maintain discipline and efficiency in the workplace. Their
privacy expectation in a regulated office environment is, in fine, reduced; and a degree of impingement upon such privacy has been upheld.

Just as defining as the first factor is the character of the intrusion authorized by the challenged law. Reduced to a question form, is the
scope of the search or intrusion clearly set forth, or, as formulated in Ople v. Torres, is the enabling law authorizing a search narrowly drawn
or narrowly focused?[32]

The poser should be answered in the affirmative. For one, Sec. 36 of RA 9165 and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), as couched,
contain provisions specifically directed towards preventing a situation that would unduly embarrass the employees or place them under a
humiliating experience. While every officer and employee in a private establishment is under the law deemed forewarned that he or she
may be a possible subject of a drug test, nobody is really singled out in advance for drug testing. The goal is to discourage drug use by not
telling in advance anyone when and who is to be tested. And as may be observed, Sec. 36(d) of RA 9165 itself prescribes what, in Ople, is a
narrowing ingredient by providing that the employees concerned shall be subjected to random drug test as contained in the companys
work rules and regulations x x x for purposes of reducing the risk in the work place.

For another, the random drug testing shall be undertaken under conditions calculated to protect as much as possible the employees privacy
and dignity. As to the mechanics of the test, the law specifies that the procedure shall employ two testing methods, i.e., the screening test
and the confirmatory test, doubtless to ensure as much as possible the trustworthiness of the results. But the more important
consideration lies in the fact that the test shall be conducted by trained professionals in access-controlled laboratories monitored by the
Department of Health (DOH) to safeguard against results tampering and to ensure an accurate chain of custody.[33] In addition, the IRR
issued by the DOH provides that access to the drug results shall be on the need to know basis;[34] that the drug test result and the records
shall be [kept] confidential subject to the usual accepted practices to protect the confidentiality of the test results.[35] Notably, RA 9165
does not oblige the employer concerned to report to the prosecuting agencies any information or evidence relating to the violation of
the ComprehensiveDangerous Drugs Act received as a result of the operation of the drug testing. All told, therefore, the intrusion into the
employees privacy, under RA 9165, is accompanied by proper safeguards, particularly against embarrassing leakages of test results, and is
relatively minimal.

To reiterate, RA 9165 was enacted as a measure to stamp out illegal drug in the country and thus protect the well-being of the citizens,
especially the youth, from the deleterious effects of dangerous drugs. The law intends to achieve this through the medium, among others,
of promoting and resolutely pursuing a national drug abuse policy in the workplace via a mandatory random drug test. [36] To the Court, the
need for drug testing to at least minimize illegal drug use is substantial enough to override the individuals privacy interest under the
premises.The Court can consider that the illegal drug menace cuts across gender, age group, and social- economic lines. And it may not be
amiss to state that the sale, manufacture, or trafficking of illegal drugs, with their ready market, would be an investors dream were it not
for the illegal and immoral components of any of such activities. The drug problem has hardly abated since the martial law public execution
of a notorious drug trafficker. The state can no longer assume a laid back stance with respect to this modern-day scourge. Drug
enforcement agencies perceive a mandatory random drug test to be an effective way of preventing and deterring drug use among
employees in private offices, the threat of detection by random testing being higher than other modes. The Court holds that the chosen
method is a reasonable and enough means to lick the problem.

Taking into account the foregoing factors, i.e., the reduced expectation of privacy on the part of the employees, the compelling state
concern likely to be met by the search, and the well-defined limits set forth in the law to properly guide authorities in the conduct of the
random testing, we hold that the challenged drug test requirement is, under the limited context of the case, reasonable and, ergo,
constitutional.

Like their counterparts in the private sector, government officials and employees also labor under reasonable supervision and restrictions
imposed by the Civil Service law and other laws on public officers, all enacted to promote a high standard of ethics in the public
service.[37] And if RA 9165 passes the norm of reasonableness for private employees, the more reason that it should pass the test for civil
servants, who, by constitutional command, are required to be accountable at all times to the people and to serve them with utmost
responsibility and efficiency.[38]

Petitioner SJS next posture that Sec. 36 of RA 9165 is objectionable on the ground of undue delegation of power hardly commends itself for
concurrence. Contrary to its position, the provision in question is not so extensively drawn as to give unbridled options to schools and
employers to determine the manner of drug testing. Sec. 36 expressly provides how drug testing for students of secondary and tertiary
schools and officers/employees of public/private offices should be conducted. It enumerates the persons who shall undergo drug testing. In
the case of students, the testing shall be in accordance with the school rules as contained in the student handbook and with notice to
parents. On the part of officers/employees, the testing shall take into account the companys work rules. In either case, the random
procedure shall be observed, meaning that the persons to be subjected to drug test shall be picked by chance or in an unplanned way. And
in all cases, safeguards against misusing and compromising the confidentiality of the test results are established.

Lest it be overlooked, Sec. 94 of RA 9165 charges the DDB to issue, in consultation with the DOH, Department of the Interior and Local
Government, Department of Education, and Department of Labor and Employment, among other agencies, the IRR necessary to enforce
the law. In net effect then, the participation of schools and offices in the drug testing scheme shall always be subject to the IRR of RA
9165. It is, therefore, incorrect to say that schools and employers have unchecked discretion to determine how often, under what
conditions, and where the drug tests shall be conducted.

The validity of delegating legislative power is now a quiet area in the constitutional landscape. [39] In the face of the increasing complexity of
the task of the government and the increasing inability of the legislature to cope directly with the many problems demanding its attention,
resort to delegation of power, or entrusting to administrative agencies the power of subordinate legislation, has become imperative, as
here.

Laserna Petition (Constitutionality of Sec. 36[c], [d],

[f], and [g] of RA 9165)


Unlike the situation covered by Sec. 36(c) and (d) of RA 9165, the Court finds no valid justification for mandatory drug testing for persons
accused of crimes. In the case of students, the constitutional viability of the mandatory, random, and suspicionless drug testing for students
emanates primarily from the waiver by the students of their right to privacy when they seek entry to the school, and from their voluntarily
submitting their persons to the parental authority of school authorities. In the case of private and public employees, the constitutional
soundness of the mandatory, random, and suspicionless drug testing proceeds from the reasonableness of the drug test policy and
requirement.

We find the situation entirely different in the case of persons charged before the public prosecutors office with criminal offenses
punishable with six (6) years and one (1) day imprisonment. The operative concepts in the mandatory drug testing are randomness and
suspicionless. In the case of persons charged with a crime before the prosecutors office, a mandatory drug testing can never be random or
suspicionless. The ideas of randomness and being suspicionless are antithetical to their being made defendants in a criminal
complaint. They are not randomly picked; neither are they beyond suspicion. When persons suspected of committing a crime are charged,
they are singled out and are impleaded against their will. The persons thus charged, by the bare fact of being haled before the prosecutors
office and peaceably submitting themselves to drug testing, if that be the case, do not necessarily consent to the procedure, let alone waive
their right to privacy.[40] To impose mandatory drug testing on the accused is a blatant attempt to harness a medical test as a tool for
criminal prosecution, contrary to the stated objectives of RA 9165. Drug testing in this case would violate a persons right to privacy
guaranteed under Sec. 2, Art. III of the Constitution. Worse still, the accused persons are veritably forced to incriminate themselves.

WHEREFORE, the Court resolves to GRANT the petition in G.R. No. 161658 and declares Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC Resolution
No. 6486 as UNCONSTITUTIONAL; and to PARTIALLY GRANT the petition in G.R. Nos. 157870 and 158633 by declaring Sec.
36(c) and (d) of RA 9165 CONSTITUTIONAL, but declaring its Sec. 36(f) UNCONSTITUTIONAL. All concerned agencies are, accordingly,
permanently enjoined from implementing Sec. 36(f) and (g) of RA 9165. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-3820 July 18, 1950

JEAN L. ARNAULT, petitioner,


vs.
LEON NAZARENO, Sergeant-at-arms, Philippine Senate, and EUSTAQUIO BALAGTAS, Director of Prisons,respondents.

J.C. Orendain, Augusto Revilla, and Eduardo Arboleda for petitioner.


Office of the Solicitor General Felix Bautista Angelo, Lorenzo Sumulong, Lorenzo Taada, and Vicente J. Francisco for respondents.

OZAETA, J.:

This is an original petition for habeas corpus to relieve the petitioner from his confinement in the New Bilibid Prison to which he has been
committed by virtue of a resolution adopted by the Senate on May 15, 1950, which reads as follows:

Whereas, Jean L. Arnault refused to reveal the name of the person to whom he gave the P440,000, as well as answer other pertinent
questions related to the said amount; Now, therefore, be it.

Resolved, that for his refusal to reveal the name of the person to whom he gave the P440,000 Jean L. Arnault be committed to the custody
of the Sergeant-at-Arms and imprisoned in the New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa, Rizal, until discharged by further order of the Senate or by
the special committee created by Senate Resolution No. 8, such discharge to be ordered when he shall have purged the contempt by
revealing to the Senate or to the said special committee the name of the person to whom he gave the P440,000, as well as answer other
pertinent questions in connection therewith.

The facts that gave rise to the adoption of said resolution, insofar as pertinent here, may be briefly stated as follows:

In the latter part of October, 1949, the Philippine Government, through the Rural Progress Administration, bought two estates known as
Buenavista and Tambobong for the sums of P4,500,000 and P500,000, respectively. Of the first sum, P1,000,000 was paid to Ernest H. Burt,
a nonresident American, thru his attorney-in-fact in the Philippines, the Associated Estates, Inc., represented by Jean L. Arnault, for alleged
interest of the said Burt in the Buenavista Estate. The second sum of P500,000 was all paid to the same Ernest H. Burt through his other
attorney-in-fact, the North Manila Development Co., Inc., also represented by Jean L. Arnault, for the alleged interest of the said Burt in the
Tambobong Estate.
The original owner of the Buenavista Estate was the San Juan de Dios Hospital. The Philippine Government held a 25-year lease contract on
said estate, with an option to purchase it for P3,000,000 within the same period of 25 years counted from January 1, 1939. The occupation
Republic of the Philippines purported to exercise that option by tendering to the owner the sum of P3,000,000 and, upon its rejection, by
depositing it in court on June 21, 1944, together with the accrued rentals amounting to P3224,000. Since 1939 the Government has
remained in possession of the estate.

On June 29, 1946, the San Juan de Dios Hospital sold the Buenavista Estate for P5,000,000 to Ernest H. Burt, who made a down payment of
P10,000 only and agreed to pay P5000,000 within one year and the remainder in annual installments of P500,000 each, with the stipulation
that failure on his part to make any of said payments would cause the forfeiture of his down payment of P10,000 and would entitle the
Hospital to rescind to sale to him. Aside from the down payment of P10,000, Burt has made no other payment on account of the purchase
price of said estate.

The original owner of the Tambobong Estate was the Philippine Trust Company. On May 14, 1946, the Philippine Trust Company sold estate
for the sum of P1,200,000 to Ernest H. Burt, who paid P10,000 down and promise to pay P90,000 within nine months and the balance of
P1,100,000 in ten successive installments of P110,000 each. The nine-month period within which to pay the first installment of P90,000
expired on February 14, 1947, without Burt's having paid the said or any other amount then or afterwards. On September 4, 1947, the
Philippine Trust Company sold, conveyed, and delivered the Tambobong Estate to the Rural Progress Administration by an absolute deed of
sale in consideration of the sum of P750,000. On February 5, 1948, the Rural Progress Administration made, under article 1504 of the Civil
Code, a notarial demand upon Burt for the resolution and cancellation of his contract of purchase with the Philippine Trust Company due to
his failure to pay the installment of P90,000 within the period of nine months. Subsequently the Court of First Instance of Rizal ordered the
cancellation of Burt's certificate of title and the issuance of a new one in the name of the Rural Progress Administration, from which order
he appealed to the Supreme Court.1

It was in the face of the antecedents sketched in the last three preceding paragraphs that the Philippine Government, through the
Secretary of Justice as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Rural Progress Administration and as Chairman of the Board of Directors of
the Philippine National Bank, from which the money was borrowed, accomplished the purchase of the two estates in the latter part of
October, 1949, as stated at the outset.

On February 27, 1950, the Senate adopted its Resolution No. 8, which reads as follows:

RESOLUTION CREATING A SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE THE BUENAVISTA AND THE TAMBOBONG ESTATES DEAL.

WHEREAS, it is reported that the Philippine government, through the Rural Progress Administration, has bought the Buenavista and the
Tambobong Estates for the aggregate sum of five million pesos;

WHEREAS, it is reported that under the decision of the Supreme Court dated October 31, 1949, the Buenavista Estate could have been
bought for three million pesos by virtue of a contract entered into between the San Juan de Dios Hospital and Philippine Government in
1939;

WHEREAS, it is even alleged that the Philippine Government did not have to purchase the Buenavista Estate because the occupation
government had made tender of payment in the amount of three million pesos, Japanese currency, which fact is believed sufficient to vest
title of Ownership in the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to decisions of the Supreme Court sustaining the validity of payments made in
Japanese military notes during the occupation;

WHEREAS, it is reported that the Philippine Government did not have to pay a single centavo for the Tambobong Estate as it was already
practically owned by virtue of a deed of sale from the Philippine Trust Company dated September 3, 194, for seven hundred and fifty
thousand pesos, and by virtue of the recission of the contract through which Ernest H. Burt had an interest in the estate; Now, therefore, be
it.

RESOLVED, That a Special Committee, be, as it hereby is, created, composed of five members to be appointed by the President of the
Senate to investigate the Buenavista and Tambobong Estate deals. It shall be the duty of the said Committee to determine whether the said
purchase was honest, valid, and proper and whether the price involved in the deal was fair and just, the parties responsible therefor, and
any other facts the Committee may deem proper in the premises. Said Committee shall have the power to conduct public hearings;
issue subpoena or subpoena duces tecum to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents before it; and may
require any official or employee of any bureau, office, branch, subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government to assist or
otherwise cooperate with the Special Committee in the performance of its functions and duties. Said Committee shall submit its report of
findings and recommendations within two weeks from the adoption of this Resolution.

The special committee created by the above resolution called and examined various witnesses, among the most important of whom was
the herein petitioner, Jean L. Arnault. An intriguing question which the committee sought to resolve was that involved in the apparent
unnecessariness and irregularity of the Government's paying to Burt the total sum of P1,500,000 for his alleged interest of only P20,000 in
the two estates, which he seemed to have forfeited anyway long before October, 1949. The committee sought to determine who were
responsible for and who benefited from the transaction at the expense of the Government.

Arnault testified that two checks payable to Burt aggregating P1,500,000 were delivered to him on the afternoon of October 29, 1949; that
on the same date he opened a new account in the name of Ernest H. Burt with the Philippine National Bank in which he deposited the two
checks aggregating P1,500,000; and that on the same occasion he draw on said account two checks; one for P500,000, which he transferred
to the account of the Associated Agencies, Inc., with the Philippine National Bank, and another for P440,000 payable to cash, which he
himself cashed. It was the desire of the committee to determine the ultimate recipient of this sum of P440,000 that gave rise to the present
case.

At first the petitioner claimed before the Committee:

Mr. ARNAULT (reading from a note). Mr. Chairman, for questions involving the disposition of funds, I take the position that the transactions
were legal, that no laws were being violated, and that all requisites had been complied with. Here also I acted in a purely functional
capacity of representative. I beg to be excused from making answer which might later be used against me. I have been assured that it is my
constitutional right to refuse to incriminate myself, and I am certain that the Honorable Members of this Committee, who, I understand, are
lawyers, will see the justness of my position.

At as subsequent session of the committee (March 16) Senator De Vera, a member of the committee, interrogated him as follows:

Senator DE VERA. Now these transactions, according to your own typewritten statement, were legal?

Mr. ARNAULT. I believe so.

Senator DE VERA. And the disposition of that fund involved, according to your own statement, did not violate any law?

Mr. ARNAULT. I believe so.

xxx xxx xxx

Senator DE VERA. So that if the funds were disposed of in such a manner that no laws were violated, how is it that when you were asked by
the Committee to tell what steps you took to have this money delivered to Burt, you refused to answer the questions, saying that it would
incriminate you?

Mr. ARNAULT. Because it violates the rights of a citizen to privacy in his dealings with other people.

xxx xxx xxx

Senator DE VERA. Are you afraid to state how the money was disposed of because you would be incriminated, or you would be
incriminating somebody?

Mr. ARNAULT. I am not afraid; I simply stand on the privilege to dispose of the money that has been paid to me as a result of a legal
transaction without having to account for any use of it.

But when in the same session the chairman of the committee, Senator Sumulong, interrogated the petitioner, the latter testified as follows:

The CHAIRMAN. The other check of P440,000 which you also made on October 29, 1949, is payable to cash; and upon cashing this P440,000
on October 29, 1949, what did you do with that amount?

Mr. ARNAULT. I turned it over to a certain person.

The CHAIRMAN. The whole amount of P440,000?

Mr. ARNAULT. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. Who was that certain person to whom you delivered these P440,000 which you cashed on October 29, 1949?

Mr. ARNAULT. I don't remember the name; he was a representative of Burt.

The CHAIRMAN. That representative of Burt to whom you delivered the P440,000 was a Filipino?

Mr. ARNAULT. I don't know.

The CHAIRMAN. You do not remember the name of that representative of Burt to whom you delivered this big amount of P440,000?

Mr. ARNAULT. I am not sure; I do not remember the name.

The CHAIRMAN. That certain person who represented Burt to whom you delivered the big amount on October 29, 1949, gave you a receipt
for the amount?

Mr. ARNAULT. No.

The CHAIRMAN. Neither did you ask a receipt?


Mr. ARNAULT. I didn't ask.

The CHAIRMAN. And why did you give that certain person, representative of Burt, this big amount of P440,000 which forms part of the P1-
million paid to Burt?

Mr. ARNAULT. Because I have instructions to that effect.

The CHAIRMAN. Who gave you the instruction?

Mr. ARNAULT. Burt.

The CHAIRMAN. Where is the instruction; was that in writing?

Mr. ARNAULT. No.

The CHAIRMAN. By cable?

Mr. ARNAULT. No.

The CHAIRMAN. In what form did you receive that instruction?

Mr. ARNAULT. Verbal instruction.

The CHAIRMAN. When did you receive this verbal instruction from Burt to deliver these P440,000 to a certain person whose name you do
not like to reveal?

Mr. ARNAULT. I have instruction to comply with the request of the person.

The CHAIRMAN. Now, you said that instruction given to you by Burt was verbal?

Mr. ARNAULT. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. When was that instruction given to you by Burt?

Mr. ARNAULT. Long time ago.

The CHAIRMAN. In what year did Burt give you that verbal instruction; when Burt was still here in the Philippines?

Mr. ARNAULT. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. But at that time Burt already knew that he would receive the money?

Mr. ARNAULT. No.

The CHAIRMAN. In what year was that when Burt while he was here in the Philippines gave you the verbal instruction?

Mr. ARNAULT. In 1946.

The CHAIRMAN. And what has that certain person done for Burt to merit receiving these P440,000?

Mr. ARNAULT. I absolutely do not know.

The CHAIRMAN. You do not know?

Mr. ARNAULT. I do not know.

The CHAIRMAN. Burt did not tell you when he gave you the verbal instruction why that certain person should receive these P440,000?

Mr. ARNAULT. He did not tell me.

The CHAIRMAN. And Burt also authorized you to give this big amount to that certain person without receipt?

Mr. ARNAULT. He told me that a certain person would represent him and where could I meet him.

The CHAIRMAN. Did Burt know already that certain person as early as 1946?
Mr. ARNAULT. I presume much before that.

The CHAIRMAN. Did that certain person have any intervention in the prosecution of the two cases involving the Buenavista and Tambobong
estates?

Mr. ARNAULT. Not that I know of.

The CHAIRMAN. Is that certain person related to any high government official?

Mr. ARNAULT. No, I do not know.

The CHAIRMAN. Why can you not tell us the name of that certain person?

Mr. ARNAULT. Because I am not sure of his name; I cannot remember the name.

The CHAIRMAN. When gave that certain person that P440,000 on October 29, 1949, you knew already that person?

Mr. ARNAULT. Yes, I have seen him several times.

The CHAIRMAN. And the name of that certain person is a Filipino name?

Mr. ARNAULT. I would say Spanish name.

The CHAIRMAN. And how about his Christian name; is it also a Spanish name?

Mr. ARNAULT. I am not sure; I think the initial is J.

The CHAIRMAN. Did he have a middle name?

Mr. ARNAULT. I never knew it.

The CHAIRMAN. And how about his family name which according to your recollection is Spanish; can you remember the first letter with
which that family name begins?

Mr. ARNAULT. S, D or F.

The CHAIRMAN. And what was the last letter of the family name?

Mr. ARNAULT. I do not know.

The CHAIRMAN. Have you seen that person again after you have delivered this P440,000?

Mr. ARNAULT. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. Several times?

Mr. ARNAULT. Two or three times.

The CHAIRMAN. Here in Manila?

Mr. ARNAULT. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. And in spite of the fact that you met that person two or three times, you never were able to find out what was his name?

Mr. ARNAULT. If I knew, I would [have] taken it down. Mr. Peralta knows my name; of course, we have not done business. Lots of people in
Manila know me, but they don't know my name, and I don't know them. They sa{ I am "chiflado" because I don't know their names.

The CHAIRMAN. That certain person is a male or female?

Mr. ARNAULT. He is a male.

The CHAIRMAN. You are sure that he is a male at least?

Mr. ARNAULT. Let us say 38 or 40 years, more or less.

The CHAIRMAN. Can you give us, more or less, a description of that certain person? What is his complexion: light, dark or light brown?
Mr. ARNAULT. He is like the gentleman there (pointing to Senator Cabili), but smaller. He walks very straight, with military bearing.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you know the residence of that certain person to whom you gave the P440,000?

Mr. ARNAULT. No.

The CHAIRMAN. During these frequent times that you met that certain person, you never came to know his residence?

Mr. ARNAULT. No, because he was coming to the office.

The CHAIRMAN. How tall is that certain person?

Mr. ARNAULT. Between 5-2 and 5-6.

On May 15, 1950, the petitioner was haled before the bar of the Senate, which approved and read to him the following resolution:

Be it resolved by the Senate of the Philippines in Session assembled:

That Jean L. Arnault, now at the bar of the Senate, be arraigned for contempt consisting of contumacious acts committed by him during the
investigation conducted by the Special Committee created by Senate Resolution No. 8 to probe the Tambobong and Buenavista estates deal
of October 21, 1949, and that the President of the Senate propounded to him the following interrogatories:

1. What excuse have you for persistently refusing to reveal the name of the person to whom you gave the P440,000 on October 29, 1949, a
person whose name it is impossible for you not to remember not only because of the big amount of money you gave to him without
receipt, but also by your own statements you knew him as early as 1946 when General Ernest H. Burt was still in the Philippines, you made
two other deliveries of money to him without receipt, and the last time you saw him was in December 1949?

Thereupon petitioner's attorney, Mr. Orendain, submitted for him a written answer alleging that the questions were incriminatory in nature
and begging leave to be allowed to stand on his constitutional right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself. Not satisfied with
that written answer Senator Sumulong, over the objection of counsel for the petitioner, propounded to the latter the following question:

Sen. SUMULONG. During the investigation, when the Committee asked you for the name of that person to whom you gave the P440,000,
you said that you can [could] not remember his name. That was the reason then for refusing to reveal the name of the person. Now, in the
answer that you have just cited, you are refusing to reveal the name of that person to whom you gave the P440,000 on the ground that
your answer will be self-incriminating. Now, do I understand from you that you are abandoning your former claim that you cannot
remember the name of that person, and that your reason now for your refusal to reveal the name of that person is that your answer might
be self-incriminating? In other words, the question is this: What is your real reason for refusing to reveal the name of that person to whom
you gave the P440,000: that you do not remember his name or that your answer would be self-incriminating?

xxx xxx xxx

Mr. ORENDAIN. Mr. President, we are begging for the rules of procedure that the accused should not be required to testify unless he so
desires.

The PRESIDENT. It is the duty of the respondent to answer the question. The question is very clear. It does not incriminate him.

xxx xxx xxx

Mr. ARNAULT. I stand by every statement that I have made before the Senate Committee on the first, second, and third hearings to which I
was made in my letter to this Senate of May 2, 1950, in which I gave all the reasons that were in my powers to give, as requested. I cannot
change anything in those statements that I made because they represent the best that I can do , to the best of my ability.

The PRESIDENT. You are not answering the question. The answer has nothing to do with the question.

Sen. SUMULONG. I would like to remind you , Mr. Arnault, that the reason that you gave during the investigation for not revealing the name
of the person to whom you gave the P440,000 is not the same reason that you are now alleging because during the investigation you told
us: "I do not remember his name." But, now, you are now saying: "My answer might incriminate me." What is your real position?

Mr. ARNAULT. I have just stated that I stand by my statements that I made at the first, second, and third hearings. I said that I wanted to be
excused from answering the question. I beg to be excused from making any answer that might be incriminating in nature. However, in this
answer, if the detail of not remembering the name of the person has not been included, it is an oversight.

Sen. SUMULONG. Mr. Arnault, will you kindly answer a simple question: Do you remember or not the name of the person to whom you
gave the P440,000?

Mr. ARNAULT. I do not remember .


Sen. SUMULONG. Now, if you do not remember the name of that person, how can you say that your answer might be incriminating? If you
do not remember his name, you cannot answer the question; so how could your answer be self-incriminating? What do you say to that?

Mr. ARNAULT. This is too complicated for me to explain. Please, I do not see how to answer those questions. That is why I asked for a
lawyer, so he can help me. I have no means of knowing what the situation is about. I have been in jail 13 days without communication with
the outside. How could I answer the question? I have no knowledge of legal procedure or rule, of which I am completely ignorant.

xxx xxx xxx

Sen. SUMULONG. Mr. President, I ask that the question be answered.

The PRESIDENT. The witness is ordered to answer the question. It is very clear. It does not incriminate the witness.

xxx xxx xxx

Mr. ARNAULT. I do not remember. I stand on my constitutional rights. I beg to be excused from making further answer, please.

Sen. SUMULONG. In that mimeographed letter that you sent addressed to the President of the Senate, dated May 2, 1950, you stated there
that you cannot reveal the name of the person to whom you gave the P440,000 because if he is a public official you might render yourself
liable for prosecution for bribery, and that if he is a private individual you might render yourself liable for prosecution for slander. Why did
you make those statements when you cannot even tell us whether that person to whom you gave the P440,000 is a public official or a
private individual ? We are giving you this chance to convince the Senate that all these allegations of yours that your answers might
incriminate you are given by you honestly or you are just trying to make a pretext for not revealing the information desired by the Senate.

The PRESIDENT. You are ordered to answer the question.

Mr. ARNAULT. I do not even understand the question. (The question is restated and explained.)

Mr. ARNAULT. That letter of May 2, was prepared by a lawyer for me and signed it. That is all I can say how I stand about this letter. I have
no knowledge myself enough to write such a letter, so I had to secure the help of a lawyer to help me in my period of distress.

In that same session of the Senate before which the petitioner was called to show cause why he should not be adjudged guilty of contempt
of the Senate, Senator Sumulong propounded to the petitioner questions tending to elicit information from him as to the identity of the
person to whom he delivered the P440,000; but the petitioner refused to reveal it by saying that he did not remember. The President of the
Senate then propounded to him various questions concerning his past activities dating as far back as when witness was seven years of age
and ending as recently as the post liberation period, all of which questions the witness answered satisfactorily. In view thereof, the
President of the Senate also made an attempt to illicit the desired information from the witness, as follows:

The PRESIDENT. Now I am convinced that you have a good memory. Answer: Did you deliver the P440,000 as a gift, or of any consideration?

Mr. ARNAULT. I have said that I had instructions to deliver it to that person, that is all.

The PRESIDENT. Was it the first time you saw that person?

Mr. ARNAULT. I saw him various times, I have already said.

The PRESIDENT. In spite of that, you do not have the least remembrance of the name of that person?

Mr. ARNAULT. I cannot remember.

The PRESIDENT. How is it that you do not remember events that happened a short time ago and, on the other hand, you remember events
that occurred during your childhood?

Mr. ARNAULT. I cannot explain.

The Senate then deliberated and adopted the resolution of May 15 hereinabove quoted whereby the petitioner was committed to the
custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms and imprisoned until "he shall have purged the contempt by revealing to the Senate or to the aforesaid
Special Committee the name of the person to whom he gave the P440,000, as well as answer other pertinent questions in connection
therewith."

The Senate also adopted on the same date another resolution (No. 16) , to wit:

That the Special Committee created by Senate Resolution No. 8 be empowered and directed to continue its investigation of the Tambobong
and Buenavista Estates deal of October 21, 1949, more particularly to continue the examination of Jean L. Arnault regarding the name of
the person to whom he gave the P440,000 and other matters related therewith.

The first session of the Second Congress was adjourned at midnight on May 18, 1950.
The case was argued twice before us. We have given its earnest and prolonged consideration because it is the first of its kind to arise since
the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines was adopted. For the first time this Court is called upon to define the power of either
House of Congress to punish a person not a member for contempt; and we are fully conscious that our pronouncements here will set an
important precedent for the future guidance of all concerned.

Before discussing the specific issues raised by the parties, we deem it necessary to lay down the general principles of law which form the
background of those issues.

Patterned after the American system, our Constitution vests the powers of the Government in three independent but coordinate
Departments Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. The legislative power is vested in the Congress, which consists of the Senate and the
House of Representatives. (Section 1, Article VI.) Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly
behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its Members, expel a Member. (Section 10, Article VI.) The judicial power is vested
in the Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as may be established by law. (Section 1, Article VIII.) Like the Constitution of the United
States, ours does not contain an express provision empowering either of the two Houses of Congress to punish nonmembers for contempt.
It may also be noted that whereas in the United States the legislative power is shared by and between the Congress of the United States, on
the one hand, and the respective legislatures of the different States, on the other the powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution nor prohibited by it to States being reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people in the Philippines, the legislative
power is vested in the Congress of the Philippines alone. It may therefore be said that the Congress of the Philippines has a wider range of
legislative field than the Congress of the United States or any State Legislature. Our form of Government being patterned after the
American system the framers of our Constitution having drawn largely from American institutions and practices we can, in this case,
properly draw also from American precedents in interpreting analogous provisions of our Constitution, as we have done in other cases in
the past. Although there is no provision in the Constitution expressly investing either House of Congress with power to make investigations
and exact testimony to the end that it may exercise its legislative functions as to be implied. In other words, the power of inquiry with
process to enforce it is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or
effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to effect or change; and where the
legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information which is not infrequently true recourse must be had to others who
do possess it. Experience has shown that mere requests for such information are often unavailing, and also that information which is
volunteered is not always accurate or complete; so some means of compulsion is essential to obtain what is needed.
(McGrain vs.Daugherty, 273 U.S., 135; 71 L. ed., 580; 50 A.L R., 1.) The fact that the Constitution expressly gives to Congress the power to
punish its Members for disorderly behavior, does not by necessary implication exclude the power to punish for contempt any other person.
(Anderson vs. Dunn, 6, Wheaton, 204; 5 L. ed., 242.) But no person can be punished for contumacy as a witness before either House, unless
his testimony is required in a matter into which that House has jurisdiction to inquire. (Kilbourn vs. Thompson, 26 L. ed., 377.).

Since, as we have noted, the Congress of the Philippines has a wider range of legislative field than either the Congress of the United States
or a State Legislature, we think it is correct to say that the field of inquiry into which it may enter is also wider. It would be difficult to define
any limits by which the subject matter of its inquiry can be bounded. It is not necessary to do so in this case. Suffice it to say that it must be
coextensive with the range of the legislative power.

In the present case the jurisdiction of the Senate, thru the Special Committee created by it, to investigate the Buenavista and Tambobong
Estates deal is not challenged by the petitioner; and we entertain no doubt as to the Senate's authority to do so and as to the validity of
Resolution No. 8 hereinabove quoted. The transaction involved a questionable and allegedly unnecessary and irregular expenditure of no
less than P5,000,000 of public funds, of which Congress is the constitutional guardian. It also involved government agencies created by
Congress to regulate or even abolish. As a result of the yet uncompleted investigation, the investigating committee has recommended and
the Senate approved three bills (1) prohibiting the Secretary of Justice or any other department head from discharging functions and
exercising powers other than those attached to his own office, without ]previous congressional authorization; (2) prohibiting brothers and
near relatives of any President of the Philippines from intervening directly or indirectly and in whatever capacity in transactions in which
the Government is a party, more particularly where the decision lies in the hands of executive or administrative officers who are appointees
of the President; and (3) providing that purchases of the Rural Progress Administration of big landed estates at a price of P100,000 or more,
shall not become effective without previous congressional confirmation. 2

We shall now consider and pass upon each of the questions raised by the petitioner in support of his contention that his commitment is
unlawful.

First He contends that the Senate has no power to punish him for contempt for refusing to reveal the name of the person to whom he gave
the P440,000, because such information is immaterial to, and will not serve, any intended or purported legislation and his refusal to answer
the question has not embarrassed, obstructed, or impeded the legislative process. It is argued that since the investigating committee has
already rendered its report and has made all its recommendations as to what legislative measures should be taken pursuant to its findings,
there is no necessity to force the petitioner to give the information desired other than that mentioned in its report, to wit: "In justice to
Judge Quirino and to Secretary Nepomuceno, this atmosphere of suspicion that now pervades the public mind must be dissipated, and it
can only be done if appropriate steps are taken by the Senate to compel Arnault to stop pretending that he cannot remember the name of
the person to whom he gave the P440,000 and answer the questions which will definitely establish the identity of that person . . ." Senator
Sumulong, Chairman of the Committee, who appeared and argued the case for the respondents, denied that that was the only purpose of
the Senate in seeking the information from the witness. He said that the investigation had not been completed, because, due to the
contumacy of the witness, his committee had not yet determined the parties responsible for the anomalous transaction as required by
Resolution No. 8; that, by Resolution No. 16, his committee was empowered and directed to continue its investigation, more particularly to
continue its examination of the witness regarding the name of the person to whom he gave the P440,000 and other matters related
therewith; that the bills recommended by his committee had not been approved by the House and might not be approved pending the
completion of the investigation; and that those bills were not necessarily all the measures that Congress might deem it necessary to pass
after the investigation is finished.
Once an inquiry is admitted or established to be within the jurisdiction of a legislative body to make, we think the investigating committee
has the power to require a witness to answer any question pertinent to that inquiry, subject of course to his constitutional right against
self-incrimination. The inquiry, to be within the jurisdiction of the legislative body to make, must be material or necessary to the exercise of
a power in it vested by the Constitution, such as to legislate, or to expel a Member; and every question which the investigator is
empowered to coerce a witness to answer must be material or pertinent to the subject of the inquiry or investigation. So a witness may not
be coerced to answer a question that obviously has no relation to the subject of the inquiry. But from this it does not follow that every
question that may be propounded to a witness must be material to any proposed or possible legislation. In other words, the materiality of
the question must be determined by its direct relation to any proposed or possible legislation. The reason is, that the necessity or lack of
necessity for legislative action and the form and character of the action itself are determined by the sum total of the information to be
gathered as a result of the investigation, and not by a fraction of such information elicited from a single question.

In this connection, it is suggested by counsel for the respondents that the power of the Court is limited to determining whether the
legislative body has jurisdiction to institute the inquiry or investigation; that once that jurisdiction is conceded, this Court cannot control the
exercise of that jurisdiction; and it is insinuated, that the ruling of the Senate on the materiality of the question propounded to the witness
is not subject to review by this Court under the principle of the separation of powers. We have to qualify this proposition. As was said by
the Court of Appeals of New York: "We are bound to presume that the action of the legislative body was with a legitimate object if it is
capable of being so construed, and we have no right to assume that the contrary was intended." (People ex rel.McDonald vs. Keeler, 99
N.Y., 463; 52 Am. Rep., 49; 2 N.E., 615, quoted with approval by the Supreme Court of the United States in the said case of
McGrain vs. Daugherty, it is necessary deduction from the decision in Re Chapman, 41 L. ed., 1154, that where the questions are not
pertinent to the matter under inquiry a witness rightfully may refuse to answer. So we are of the opinion that where the alleged
immateriality of the information sought by the legislative body from a witness is relied upon to contest its jurisdiction, the court is in duty
bound to pass upon the contention. The fact that the legislative body has jurisdiction or the power to make the inquiry would not preclude
judicial intervention to correct a clear abuse of discretion in the exercise of that power.

Applying the criterion laid down in the last two preceding paragraphs to the resolution of the issue under consideration, we find that the
question for the refusal to answer which the petitioner was held in contempt by the Senate is pertinent to the matter under inquiry. In fact,
this is not and cannot be disputed. Senate Resolution No. 8, the validity of which is not challenged by the petitioner, requires the Special
Committee, among other things, to determine the parties responsible for the Buenavista and Tambobong estates deal, and it is obvious
that the name of the person to whom the witness gave the P440,000 involved in said deal is pertinent to that determination it is in fact
the very thing sought to be determined. The contention is not that the question is impertinent to the subject of the inquiry but that it has
no relation or materiality to any proposed legislation. We have already indicated that it is not necessary for the legislative body to show
that every question propounded to a witness is material to any proposed or possible legislation; what is required is that is that it be
pertinent to the matter under inquiry.

It is said that the Senate has already approved the three bills recommended by the Committee as a result of the uncompleted investigation
and that there is no need for it to know the name of the person to whom the witness gave the P440,000. But aside from the fact that those
bills have not yet been approved by the lower house and by the President and that they may be withdrawn or modified if after the inquiry
is completed they should be found unnecessary or inadequate, there is nothing to prevent the Congress from approving other measures it
may deem necessary after completing the investigation. We are not called upon, nor is it within our province, to determine or imagine what
those measures may be. And our inability to do so is no reason for overruling the question propounded by the Senate to the witness.

The case of Re Chapman , 166 U.S., 661; 41 L. ed., 1154, is in point here. The inquiry there in question was conducted under a resolution of
the Senate and related to charges, published in the press, that senators were yielding to corrupt influences in considering a tariff bill then
before the Senate and were speculating in stocks the value of which would be affected by pending amendments to the bill. Chapman, a
member of a firm of stock brokers dealing in the stock of the American Sugar Refining Company, appeared before the committee in
response to a subpoena and asked, among others, the following questions:

Had the firm, during the month of March, 1894, bought or sold any stock or securities, known as sugar stocks, for or in the interest, directly
or indirectly, of any United Senate senator?

Was the said firm at that time carrying any sugar stock for the benefit of, or in the interest, directly or indirectly, of any United Senate
senator?

He refused to answer the questions and was prosecuted under an Act of Congress for contempt of the Senate. Upon being convicted and
sent to jail he petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of habeas corpus. One of the questions decided by the Supreme
Court of the United States in that case was whether the committee had the right to compel the witness to answer said questions, and the
Court held that the committee did have such right, saying:

The questions were undoubtedly pertinent to the subject-matter of the inquiry. The resolution directed the committee to inquire whether
any senator has been, or is, speculating in what are known as sugar stocks during the consideration of the tariff bill now before the
Senate." What the Senate might or might not do upon the facts when ascertained, we cannot say, nor are we called upon to inquire whether
such ventures might be defensible, as contended in argument, but is plain that negative answers would have cleared that body of what the
Senate regarded as offensive imputations, while affirmative answers might have led to further action on the part of the Senate within its
constitutional powers. (Emphasis supplied.)

It may be contended that the determination of the parties responsible for the deal is incumbent upon the judicial rather than upon the
legislative branch. But we think there is no basis in fact or in law for such assumption. The petitioner has not challenged the validity of
Senate Resolution No. 8, and that resolution expressly requires the committee to determine the parties responsible for the deal. We are
bound to presume that the Senate has acted in the due performance of its constitutional function in instituting the inquiry, if the act is
capable of being so construed. On the other hand, there is no suggestion that the judiciary has instituted an inquiry to determine the
parties responsible for the deal. Under the circumstances of the case, it appearing that the questioned transaction was affected by the head
of the Department of Justice himself, it is not reasonable to expect that the Fiscal or the Court of First Instance of Manila will take the
initiative to investigate and prosecute the parties responsible for the deal until and unless the Senate shall determined those parties are
and shall taken such measures as may be within its competence to take the redress the wrong that may have been committed against the
people as a result of the transaction. As we have said, the transaction involved no less than P5,000,000 of public funds. That certainly is a
matter of a public concern which it is the duty of the constitutional guardian of the treasury to investigate.

If the subject of investigation before the committee is within the range of legitimate legislative inquiry and the proposed testimony of the
witness called relates to that subject, obedience, to its process may be enforced by the committee by imprisonment. (Sullivan vs. Hill, 73 W.
Va., 49; 79 S.E., 670; 40 Ann. Cas. [1916 B.], 1115.)

The decision in the case of Kilbourn vs. Thompson, 26 L. ed., 377, relied upon by the petitioner, is not applicable here. In that case the
inquiry instituted by the House of Representatives of the United States related to a private real-estate pool or partnership in the District of
Columbia. Jay Cook and Company had had an interest in the pool but become bankrupts, and their estate was in course of administration in
a federal bankruptcy court in Pennsylvania. The United States was one of their creditors. The trustee in the bankruptcy proceeding had
effected a settlement of the bankrupts' interest in the pool, and of course his action was subject to examination and approval or
disapproval by the bankruptcy court. Some of the creditors, including the United States, were dissatisfied with the settlement. The
resolution of the House directed the Committee "to inquire into the nature and history of said real-estate pool and the character of said
settlement, with the amount of property involve, in which Jay Cooke and Co. were interested, and the amount paid or to be paid in said
settlement, with power to send for persons and papers, and report to this House." The Supreme Court of the United States, speaking thru
Mr. Justice Miller, pointed out that the resolution contained no suggestion of contemplated legislation; that the matter was one in respect
of which no valid legislation could be had; that the bankrupts' estate and the trustee's settlement were still pending in the bankruptcy
court; and that the United States and other creditors were free to press their claims in that proceeding. And on these grounds the court
held that in undertaking the investigation "the House of Representatives not only exceeded the limit of its own authority, but assumed a
power which could only be properly exercised by another branch of the government, because the power was in its nature clearly judicial."
The principles announced and applied in that case are: that neither House of Congress possesses a "general power of making inquiry into
the private affairs of the citizen"; that the power actually possessed is limited to inquires relating to matters of which the particular House
has jurisdiction, and in respect of which it rightfully may take other action; that if the inquiry relates to a matter wherein relief or redress
could be had only by judicial proceeding, it is not within the range of this power , but must be left to the court, conformably to the
constitutional separation of government powers.

That case differs from the present case in two important respects: (1) There the court found that the subject of the inquiry, which related to
a private real-estate pool or partnership, was not within the jurisdiction of either House of Congress; while here if it is not disputed that the
subject of the inquiry, which relates to a transaction involving a questionable expenditure by the Government of P5,000,000 of public
funds, is within the jurisdiction of the Senate, (2) There the claim of the Government as a creditor of Jay Cooke and Company, which had
had an interest in the pool, was pending adjudication by the court; while here the interposition of the judicial power on the subject of the
inquiry cannot be expected, as we have pointed out above, until after the Senate shall have determined who the parties responsible are
and shall have taken such measures as may be within its competence to take to redress the wrong that may have been committed against
the people as a result of the transaction.

It is interesting to note that the decision in the case of Killbourn vs. Thompson has evoked strong criticisms from legal scholars.
(See Potts, Power of Legislative Bodies to Punish for Contempt [1926], 74 U. Pa. L. Rev., 692-699; James L. Land is, Constitutional Limitations
on the Congressional Power of Investigation [1926], 40 Harvard L. Rev., 153, 154, 214-220.) We quoted the following from Professor Land is'
criticism: "Mr. Justice Miller saw the case purely as an attempt by the House to secure to the Government certain priority rights as creditor
of the bankrupt concern. To him it assumed the character of a lawsuit between the Government and Jay Cooke and Co., with the
Government, acting through the House, attempting to override the orderliness of established procedure and thereby prefer a creditors' bill
not before the courts but before Congress. That bankruptcy proceedings had already been instituted against Jay Cooke and Co., in a federal
court gave added impetus to such a conception. The House was seeking to oust a court of prior acquired jurisdiction by an extraordinary
and unwarranted assumption of "judicial power"! The broader aspect of the investigation had not been disclosed to the Court. That Jay
Cooke and Co.'s indebtedness and the particular funds in question were only part of the great administrative problem connected with the
use and disposition of public monies, that the particular failure was of consequence mainly in relation to the security demanded for all
government deposits, that the facts connected with one such default revealed the possibility of other and greater maladministration, such
considerations had not been put before the Court. Nor had it been acquainted with the every-day nature of the particular investigation and
the powers there exerted by the House, powers whose exercise was customary and familiar in legislative practice. Instead of assuming the
character of an extraordinary judicial proceeding, the inquiry, place in its proper background, should have been regarded as a normal and
customary part of the legislative process. Detailed definiteness of legislative purpose was thus made the demand of the court in
Killbourn vs. Thompson. But investigators cannot foretell the results that may be achieved. The power of Congress to exercise control over
a real-estate pool is not a matter for abstract speculation but one to be determined only after an exhaustive examination of the problem.
Relationship, and not their possibilities, determine the extent of congressional power. Constitutionality depends upon such disclosures.
Their presence, whether determinative of legislative or judicial power, cannot be relegated to guesswork. Neither Congress nor the Court
can predict, prior to the event, the result of the investigation."

The other case relied upon by the petitioner is Marshall vs. Gordon, 243 U.S., 521; 61. ed., 881. The question there was whether the House
of Representatives exceeded its power in punishing, as for contempt of its authority, the District Attorney of the Southern District of New
York, who had written, published, and sent to the chairman of one of its committees an ill-tempered and irritating letter respecting the
action and purposes of the committee in interfering with the investigation by the grand jury of alleged illegal activities of a member of the
House of Representatives. Power to make inquires and obtain evidence by compulsory process was not involved. The court recognized
distinctly that the House of Representatives had implied power to punish a person not a member for contempt, but held that its action in
this instance was without constitutional justification. The decision was put on the ground that the letter, while offensive and vexatious, was
not calculated or likely to affect the House in any of its proceedings or in the exercise of any of its functions. This brief statement of the
facts and the issues decided in that case is sufficient to show the inapplicability thereof to the present case. There the contempt involved
consisted in the district attorney's writing to the chairman of the committee an offensive and vexatious letter, while here the contempt
involved consists in the refusal of the witness to answer questions pertinent to the subject of an inquiry which the Senate has the power
and jurisdiction to make . But in that case, it was recognized that the House of Representatives has implied power to punish a person not a
member of contempt. In that respect the case is applicable here in favor of the Senate's (and not of the Petitioner's ) contention.

Second. It is next contended for the petitioner that the Senate lacks authority to commit him for contempt for a term beyond its period of
legislative session, which ended on May 18, 1950. This contention is based on the opinion of Mr. Justice Malcolm, concurred in by Justices
Street and Villa-Real, in the case of Lopez vs. De los Reyes (1930), 55 Phil., 170. In that case it appears that on October 23, 1929, Candido
Lopez assaulted a member of the House of Representatives while the latter was going to the hall of the House of Representatives to attend
the session which was then about to begin, as a result of which assault said representative was unable to attend the sessions on that day
and those of the two days next following by reason of the threats which Candido Lopez made against him. By the resolution of the House
adopted November 6, 1929, Lopez was declared guilty of contempt of the House of Representatives and ordered punished by confinement
in Bilibid Prison for a period of twenty-four hours. That resolution was not complied with because the session of the House of
Representatives adjourned at midnight on November 8, 1929, and was reiterated at the next session on September 16, 1930. Lopez was
subsequently arrested, whereupon he applied for the writ of habeas corpus in the Court of First Instance of Manila, which denied the
application. Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, six justices voted to grant the writ: Justice Malcolm, Street, and Villa-real, on the ground
that the term of imprisonment meted out to the petitioner could not legally be extended beyond the session of the body in which the
contempt occurred; and Justices Johns, Villamor, and Ostrand, on the ground that the Philippine Legislature had no power to punish for
contempt because it was a creature merely of an Act of the Congress of the United States and not of a Constitution adopted by the people.
Chief Justice Avancea, Justice Johnson, and Justice Romualdez wrote separate opinions, concurring with Justice Malcolm, Street, and Villa-
Real, that the Legislature had inherent power to punish for contempt but dissenting from the opinion that the order of commitment could
only be executed during the particular session in which the act of contempt was committed.

Thus, on the question under consideration, the Court was equally divided and no decisive pronouncement was made. The opinion of Mr.
Justice Malcolm is based mainly on the following passage in the case of Anderson vs.Dunn, supra:

And although the legislative power continues perpetual, the legislative body ceases to exist on the moment of its adjournment or periodical
dissolution. It follows that imprisonment must terminate with that adjournment.

as well as on the following quotation from Marshall vs. Gordon, supra:

And the essential nature of the power also makes clear the cogency and application of the two limitations which were expressly pointed out
in Anderson vs. Dunn, supra, that is, that the power even when applied to subjects which justified its exercise is limited to imprisonment
and such imprisonment may not be extended beyond the session of the body in which the contempt occurred.

Interpreting the above quotations, Chief Justice Avancea held:

From this doctrine it follows, in my judgement, that the imposition of the penalty is limited to the existence of the legislative body, which
ceases to function upon its final periodical dissolution. The doctrine refers to its existence and not to any particular session thereof. This
must be so, inasmuch as the basis of the power to impose such penalty is the right which the Legislature has to self-preservation, and which
right is enforceable during the existence of the legislative body. Many causes might be conceived to constitute contempt to the Legislature,
which would continue to be a menace to its preservation during the existence of the legislative body against which contempt was
committed.

If the basis of the power of the legislature to punish for contempt exists while the legislative body exercising it is in session, then that power
and the exercise thereof must perforce continue until the final adjournment and the election of its successor.

Mr. Justice Johnson's more elaborate opinion, supported by quotations from Cooley's Constitutional Limitations and from
Jefferson's Manual, is to the same effect. Mr. Justice Romualdez said: "In my opinion, where as in the case before us, the members
composing the legislative body against which the contempt was committed have not yet completed their three-year term, the House may
take action against the petitioner herein."

We note that the quotations from Anderson vs. Dunn and Marshall vs. Gordon relied upon by Justice Malcolm are obiter dicta.
Anderson vs. Dunn was an action of trespass against the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives of the United States for assault
and battery and false imprisonment. The plaintiff had been arrested for contempt of the House, brought before the bar of the House, and
reprimanded by the Speaker, and then discharged from custody. The question as to the duration of the penalty was not involved in that
case. The question there was "whether the House of Representatives can take cognizance of contempt committed against themselves,
under any circumstances." The court there held that the House of Representatives had the power to punish for contempt, and affirmed the
judgment of the lower court in favor of the defendant. In Marshall vs. Gordon, the question presented was whether the House had the
power under the Constitution to deal with the conduct of the district attorney in writing a vexatious letter as a contempt of its authority,
and to inflict punishment upon the writer for such contempt as a matter of legislative power. The court held that the House had no such
power because the writing of the letter did not obstruct the performance of legislative duty and did not endanger the preservation of the
power of the House to carry out its legislative authority. Upon that ground alone, and not because the House had adjourned, the court
ordered the discharge of the petitioner from custody.

The case where the question was squarely decided is McGrain vs. Daugherty, supra. There it appears that the Senate had adopted a
resolution authorizing and directing a select committee of five senators to investigate various charges of misfeasance and nonfeasance in
the Department of Justice after Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty became its supervising head. In the course of the investigation the
committee caused to be served on Mally S. Daugherty, brother of Harry M. Daugherty and president of the Midland National Bank of
Washington Court House, Ohio, a subpoena commanding him to appear before it for the purpose of giving testimony relating to the subject
under consideration. The witness failed to appear without offering any excuse for his failure. The committee reported the matter to the
Senate and the latter adopted a resolution, "That the President of the Senate pro tempore issue his warrant commanding the Sergeant-at-
Arms or his deputy to take into custody the body of the said M.S. Daugherty wherever found, and to bring the said M.S. Daugherty before
the bar of the Senate, then and there to answer such questions pertinent to the matter under inquiry as the Senate may order the
President of the Senate pro tempore to propound; and to keep the said M.S. Daugherty in custody to await the further order of the
Senate." Upon being arrested, the witness petitioned the federal court in Cincinnati for a writ of habeas corpus. The federal court granted
the writ and discharged the witness on the ground that the Senate, in directing the investigation and in ordering the arrest, exceeded its
power under the Constitution. Upon appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, one of the contentions of the witness was that the
case ha become moot because the investigation was ordered and the committee was appointed during the Sixty-eighth Congress, which
expired on March 4, 1926. In overruling the contention, the court said:

. . . The resolution ordering the investigation in terms limited the committee's authority to the period of the Sixty-eighth Congress; but this
apparently was changed by a later and amendatory resolution authorizing the committee to sit at such times and places as it might deem
advisable or necessary. It is said in Jefferson's Manual: "Neither House can continue any portion of itself in any parliamentary function
beyond the end of the session without the consent of the other two branches. When done, it is by a bill constituting them commissioners
for the particular purpose." But the context shows that the reference is to the two houses of Parliament when adjourned by prorogation or
dissolution by the King. The rule may be the same with the House of Representatives whose members are all elected for the period of a
single Congress: but it cannot well be the same with the Senate, which is a continuing body whose members are elected for a term of six
years and so divided into classes that the seats of one third only become vacant at the end of each Congress, two thirds always continuing
into the next Congress, save as vacancies may occur through death or resignation.

Mr. Hinds in his collection of precedents, says: "The Senate, as a continuing body, may continue its committees through the recess
following the expiration of a Congress;" and, after quoting the above statement from Jefferson's Manual, he says: "The Senate, however
being a continuing body, gives authority to its committees during the recess after the expiration of a Congress." So far as we are advised the
select committee having this investigation in charge has neither made a final report nor been discharged; nor has been continued by an
affirmative order. Apparently its activities have been suspended pending the decision of this case. But, be this as it may, it is certain that the
committee may be continued or revived now by motion to that effect, and if, continued or revived, will have all its original powers. This
being so, and the Senate being a continuing body, the case cannot be said to have become moot in the ordinary sense. The situation is
measurably like that in Southern P. Terminal Co. vs. Interstate Commerce Commission, 219 U. S., 498, 514-516; 55 L. ed., 310, 315, 316; 31
Sup. Ct. Rep., 279, where it was held that a suit to enjoin the enforcement of an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission did not
become moot through the expiration of the order where it was capable of repetition by the Commission and was a matter of public
interest. Our judgment may yet be carried into effect and the investigation proceeded with from the point at which it apparently was
interrupted by reason of the habeas corpus proceedings. In these circumstances we think a judgment should be rendered as was done in
the case cited.

What has been said requires that the final order in the District Court discharging the witness from custody be reversed.

Like the Senate of the United States , the Senate of the Philippines is a continuing body whose members are elected for a term of six years
and so divided that the seats of only one-third become vacant every two years, two-thirds always continuing into the next Congress save as
vacancies may occur thru death or resignation. Members of the House of Representatives are all elected for a term of four years; so that
the term of every Congress is four years. The Second Congress of the Philippines was constituted on December 30, 1949, and will expire on
December 30, 1953. The resolution of the Senate committing the Petitioner was adopted during the first session of the Second Congress,
which began on the fourth Monday of January and ended in May 18, 1950.

Had said resolution of commitment been adopted by the House of Representatives, we think it could be enforced until the final
adjournment of the last session of the Second Congress in 1953. We find no sound reason to limit the power of the legislative body to
punish for contempt to the end of every session and not to the end of the last session terminating the existence of that body. The very
reason for the exercise of the power to punish for contempt is to enable the legislative body to perform its constitutional function without
impediment or obstruction. Legislative functions may be and in practice are performed during recess by duly constituted committees
charged with the duty of performing investigations or conducting hearing relative to any proposed legislation. To deny to such committees
the power of inquiry with process to enforce it would be to defeat the very purpose for which that the power is recognized in the legislative
body as an essential and appropriate auxiliary to is legislative function. It is but logical to say that the power of self-preservation is
coexistent with the life to be preserved.

But the resolution of commitment here in question was adopted by the Senate, which is a continuing body and which does not cease exist
upon the periodical dissolution of the Congress or of the House of Representatives. There is no limit as to time to the Senate's power to
punish for contempt in cases where that power may constitutionally be exerted as in the present case.

Mere reflection upon the situation at hand convinces us of the soundness of this proposition. The Senate has ordered an investigation of
the Buenavista and Tambobong estates deal, which we have found it is within its competence to make. That investigation has not been
completed because of the refusal of the petitioner as a witness to answer certain questions pertinent to the subject of the inquiry. The
Senate has empowered the committee to continue the investigation during the recess. By refusing to answer the questions, the witness has
obstructed the performance by the Senate of its legislative function, and the Senate has the power to remove the obstruction by
compelling the witness to answer the questions thru restraint of his liberty until he shall have answered them. That power subsists as long
as the Senate, which is a continuing body, persists in performing the particular legislative function involved. To hold that it may punish the
witness for contempt only during the session in which investigation was begun, would be to recognize the right of the Senate to perform its
function but at the same time to deny to it an essential and appropriate means for its performance. Aside from this, if we should hold that
the power to punish for contempt terminates upon the adjournment of the session, the Senate would have to resume the investigation at
the next and succeeding sessions and repeat the contempt proceedings against the witness until the investigation is completed-an absurd,
unnecessary, and vexatious procedure, which should be avoided.

As against the foregoing conclusion it is argued for the petitioner that the power may be abusively and oppressively exerted by the Senate
which might keep the witness in prison for life. But we must assume that the Senate will not be disposed to exert the power beyond its
proper bounds. And if, contrary to this assumption, proper limitations are disregarded, the portals of this Court are always open to those
whose rights might thus be transgressed.

Third. Lastly, the petitioner invokes the privilege against self-incrimination. He contends that he would incriminate himself if he should
reveal the name of the person to whom he gave the P440,000 if that person be a public official be (witness) might be accused of bribery,
and if that person be a private individual the latter might accuse him of oral defamation.

The ground upon which the witness' claim is based is too shaky, in firm, and slippery to afford him safety. At first he told the Committee
that the transactions were legal, that no laws were violated, and that all requisites had been replied with; but at the time he begged to be
excused from making answers "which might later be used against me." A little later he explained that although the transactions were legal
he refused to answer questions concerning them "because it violates the right of a citizen to privacy in his dealings with other people . . . I
simply stand on my privilege to dispose of the money that has been paid to me as a result of a legal transaction without having to account
for the use of it." But after being apparently convinced by the Committee that his position was untenable, the witness testified that,
without securing any receipt, he turned over the P440,000 to a certain person, a representative of Burt, in compliance with Burt's verbal
instruction made in 1946; that as far as he know, that certain person had nothing to do with the negotiations for the settlement of the
Buenavista and Tambobong cases; that he had seen that person several times before he gave him the P440,000 on October 29, 1949, and
that since then he had seen him again two or three times, the last time being in December, 1949, in Manila; that the person was a male, 39
to 40 years of age, between 5 feet, 2 inches and 5 feet, 6 inches in height. Butt the witness would not reveal the name of that person on
these pretexts: " I don't remember the name; he was a representative of Burt." "I am not sure; I don't remember the name."

We are satisfied that those answers of the witness to the important question, what is the name of that person to whom you gave the
P440,000? were obviously false. His insistent claim before the bar of the Senate that if he should reveal the name he would incriminate
himself, necessarily implied that he knew the name. Moreover, it is unbelievable that he gave the P440,000 to a person to him unknown.

"Testimony which is obviously false or evasive is equivalent to a refusal to testify and is punishable as contempt, assuming that a refusal to
testify would be so punishable." (12 Am. Jur., sec. 15, Contempt, pp. 399-400.) In the case of Mason vs. U.S., 61 L. ed., 1198, it appears that
Mason was called to testify before a grand jury engaged in investigating a charge of gambling against six other men. After stating that he
was sitting at a table with said men when they were arrested, he refused to answer two questions, claiming so to do might tend to
incriminate him: (1) "Was there a game of cards being played on this particular evening at the table at which you are sitting?" (2) "Was
there a game of cards being played at another table at this time?" The foreman of the grand jury reported the matter to the judge, who
ruled "that each and all of said questions are proper and that the answers thereto would not tend to incriminate the witness." Mason was
again called and refused to answer the first question propounded to him, but, half yielding to frustration, he said in response to the second
question: "I don't know." In affirming the conviction for contempt, the Supreme Court of the United States among other things said:

In the present case, the witness certainly were not relieved from answering merely because they declared that so to do might incriminate
them. The wisdom of the rule in this regard is well illustrated by the enforced answer, "I don't know ," given by Mason to the second
question, after he had refused to reply under a claim of constitutional privilege.

Since according to the witness himself the transaction was legal, and that he gave the P440,000 to a representative of Burt in compliance
with the latter's verbal instruction, we find no basis upon which to sustain his claim that to reveal the name of that person might
incriminate him. There is no conflict of authorities on the applicable rule, to wit:

Generally, the question whether testimony is privileged is for the determination of the Court. At least, it is not enough for the witness to
say that the answer will incriminate him. as he is not the sole judge of his liability. The danger of self-incrimination must appear reasonable
and real to the court, from all the circumstances, and from the whole case, as well as from his general conception of the relations of the
witness. Upon the facts thus developed, it is the province of the court to determine whether a direct answer to a question may criminate or
not. . . . The fact that the testimony of a witness may tend to show that he has violated the law is not sufficient to entitle him to claim the
protection of the constitutional provision against self-incrimination, unless he is at the same time liable to prosecution and punishment for
such violation. The witness cannot assert his privilege by reason of some fanciful excuse, for protection against an imaginary danger, or to
secure immunity to a third person. ( 3 Wharton's Criminal Evidence, 11th ed., secs. 1135,1136.)

It is the province of the trial judge to determine from all the facts and circumstances of the case whether the witness is justified in refusing
to answer. (People vs. Gonzo, 23 N.E. [2d], 210 [Ill. App., 1939].) A witness is not relieved from answering merely on his own declaration
that an answer might incriminate him, but rather it is for the trial judge to decide that question. (Mason vs. U.S., 244 U. S., 362; 61 L. ed.,
1193, 1200.)

As against witness's inconsistent and unjustified claim to a constitutional right, is his clear duty as a citizen to give frank, sincere, and
truthful testimony before a competent authority. The state has the right to exact fulfillment of a citizen's obligation, consistent of course
with his right under the Constitution. The witness in this case has been vociferous and militant in claiming constitutional rights and
privileges but patently recreant to his duties and obligations to the Government which protects those rights under the law. When a specific
right and a specific obligation conflict with each other, and one is doubtful or uncertain while the other is clear and imperative, the former
must give way to the latter. The right to life is one of the most sacred that the citizen may claim, and yet the state may deprive him of it if
he violates his corresponding obligation to respect the life of others. As Mr. Justice Johnson said in Anderson vs. Dunn: "The wretch
beneath the gallows may repine at the fate which awaits him, and yet it is not certain that the laws under which he suffers were made for
the security." Paraphrasing and applying that pronouncement here, the petitioner may not relish the restraint of his liberty pending the
fulfillment by him of his duty, but it is no less certain that the laws under which his liberty is restrained were made for his welfare.

From all the foregoing, it follows that the petition must be denied, and it is so ordered, with costs.

Paras, Pablo, Bengzon, Montemayor, and Reyes, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 180643 September 4, 2008

ROMULO L. NERI, petitioner,


vs.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC OFFICERS AND INVESTIGATIONS, SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRADE AND
COMMERCE, AND SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SECURITY, respondents.

RESOLUTION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

Executive privilege is not a personal privilege, but one that adheres to the Office of the President. It exists to protect public interest, not to
benefit a particular public official. Its purpose, among others, is to assure that the nation will receive the benefit of candid, objective and
untrammeled communication and exchange of information between the President and his/her advisers in the process of shaping or forming
policies and arriving at decisions in the exercise of the functions of the Presidency under the Constitution. The confidentiality of the
Presidents conversations and correspondence is not unique. It is akin to the confidentiality of judicial deliberations. It possesses the same
value as the right to privacy of all citizens and more, because it is dictated by public interest and the constitutionally ordained separation of
governmental powers.

In these proceedings, this Court has been called upon to exercise its power of review and arbitrate a hotly, even acrimoniously, debated
dispute between the Courts co-equal branches of government. In this task, this Court should neither curb the legitimate powers of any of
the co-equal and coordinate branches of government nor allow any of them to overstep the boundaries set for it by our Constitution. The
competing interests in the case at bar are the claim of executive privilege by the President, on the one hand, and the respondent Senate
Committees assertion of their power to conduct legislative inquiries, on the other. The particular facts and circumstances of the present
case, stripped of the politically and emotionally charged rhetoric from both sides and viewed in the light of settled constitutional and legal
doctrines, plainly lead to the conclusion that the claim of executive privilege must be upheld.

Assailed in this motion for reconsideration is our Decision dated March 25, 2008 (the "Decision"), granting the petition for certiorari filed by
petitioner Romulo L. Neri against the respondent Senate Committees on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, 1 Trade and
Commerce,2 and National Defense and Security (collectively the "respondent Committees"). 3

A brief review of the facts is imperative.

On September 26, 2007, petitioner appeared before respondent Committees and testified for about eleven (11) hours on matters
concerning the National Broadband Project (the "NBN Project"), a project awarded by the Department of Transportation and
Communications ("DOTC") to Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment ("ZTE"). Petitioner disclosed that then Commission on Elections
("COMELEC") Chairman Benjamin Abalos offered him P200 Million in exchange for his approval of the NBN Project. He further narrated that
he informed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ("President Arroyo") of the bribery attempt and that she instructed him not to accept the
bribe. However, when probed further on President Arroyo and petitioners discussions relating to the NBN Project, petitioner refused to
answer, invoking "executive privilege." To be specific, petitioner refused to answer questions on: (a) whether or not President Arroyo
followed up the NBN Project,4 (b) whether or not she directed him to prioritize it, 5 and (c) whether or not she directed him to approve it.6

Respondent Committees persisted in knowing petitioners answers to these three questions by requiring him to appear and testify once
more on November 20, 2007. On November 15, 2007, Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita wrote to respondent Committees and
requested them to dispense with petitioners testimony on the ground of executive privilege. 7 The letter of Executive Secretary Ermita
pertinently stated:

Following the ruling in Senate v. Ermita, the foregoing questions fall under conversations and correspondence between the President and
public officials which are considered executive privilege (Almonte v. Vasquez, G.R. 95637, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. PEA, G.R. 133250, July 9,
2002). Maintaining the confidentiality of conversations of the President is necessary in the exercise of her executive and policy decision
making process. The expectation of a President to the confidentiality of her conversations and correspondences, like the value which we
accord deference for the privacy of all citizens, is the necessity for protection of the public interest in candid, objective, and even blunt or
harsh opinions in Presidential decision-making. Disclosure of conversations of the President will have a chilling effect on the President, and
will hamper her in the effective discharge of her duties and responsibilities, if she is not protected by the confidentiality of her
conversations.

The context in which executive privilege is being invoked is that the information sought to be disclosed might impair our diplomatic as well
as economic relations with the Peoples Republic of China. Given the confidential nature in which these information were conveyed to the
President, he cannot provide the Committee any further details of these conversations, without disclosing the very thing the privilege is
designed to protect.

In light of the above considerations, this Office is constrained to invoke the settled doctrine of executive privilege as refined in Senate v.
Ermita, and has advised Secretary Neri accordingly.

Considering that Sec. Neri has been lengthily interrogated on the subject in an unprecedented 11-hour hearing, wherein he has answered
all questions propounded to him except the foregoing questions involving executive privilege, we therefore request that his testimony on
20 November 2007 on the ZTE / NBN project be dispensed with.

On November 20, 2007, petitioner did not appear before respondent Committees upon orders of the President invoking executive privilege.
On November 22, 2007, the respondent Committees issued the show-cause letter requiring him to explain why he should not be cited in
contempt. On November 29, 2007, in petitioners reply to respondent Committees, he manifested that it was not his intention to ignore the
Senate hearing and that he thought the only remaining questions were those he claimed to be covered by executive privilege. He also
manifested his willingness to appear and testify should there be new matters to be taken up. He just requested that he be furnished "in
advance as to what else" he "needs to clarify."

Respondent Committees found petitioners explanations unsatisfactory. Without responding to his request for advance notice of the
matters that he should still clarify, they issued the Order dated January 30, 2008; In Re: P.S. Res. Nos. 127,129,136 & 144; and privilege
speeches of Senator Lacson and Santiago (all on the ZTE-NBN Project), citing petitioner in contempt of respondent Committees and
ordering his arrest and detention at the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms until such time that he would appear and give his testimony.

On the same date, petitioner moved for the reconsideration of the above Order.8 He insisted that he had not shown "any contemptible
conduct worthy of contempt and arrest." He emphasized his willingness to testify on new matters, but respondent Committees did not
respond to his request for advance notice of questions. He also mentioned the petition for certiorari he previously filed with this Court on
December 7, 2007. According to him, this should restrain respondent Committees from enforcing the order dated January 30, 2008 which
declared him in contempt and directed his arrest and detention.

Petitioner then filed his Supplemental Petition for Certiorari (with Urgent Application for TRO/Preliminary Injunction) on February 1, 2008.
In the Courts Resolution dated February 4, 2008, the parties were required to observe the status quo prevailing prior to the Order dated
January 30, 2008.

On March 25, 2008, the Court granted his petition for certiorari on two grounds: first, the communications elicited by the three (3)
questions were covered by executive privilege; and second, respondent Committees committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the
contempt order. Anent the first ground, we considered the subject communications as falling under the presidential communications
privilege because (a) they related to a quintessential and non-delegable power of the President, (b) they were received by a close advisor of
the President, and (c) respondent Committees failed to adequately show a compelling need that would justify the limitation of the privilege
and the unavailability of the information elsewhere by an appropriate investigating authority. As to the second ground, we found that
respondent Committees committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the contempt order because (a) there was a valid claim of executive
privilege, (b) their invitations to petitioner did not contain the questions relevant to the inquiry, (c) there was a cloud of doubt as to the
regularity of the proceeding that led to their issuance of the contempt order, (d) they violated Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution
because their inquiry was not in accordance with the "duly published rules of procedure," and (e) they issued the contempt order arbitrarily
and precipitately.

On April 8, 2008, respondent Committees filed the present motion for reconsideration, anchored on the following grounds:

CONTRARY TO THIS HONORABLE COURTS DECISION, THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE ASSAILED ORDERS WERE ISSUED BY RESPONDENT
COMMITTEES PURSUANT TO THE EXERCISE OF THEIR LEGISLATIVE POWER, AND NOT MERELY THEIR OVERSIGHT FUNCTIONS.

II

CONTRARY TO THIS HONORABLE COURTS DECISION, THERE CAN BE NO PRESUMPTION THAT THE INFORMATION WITHHELD IN THE
INSTANT CASE IS PRIVILEGED.

III

CONTRARY TO THIS HONORABLE COURTS DECISION, THERE IS NO FACTUAL OR LEGAL BASIS TO HOLD THAT THE COMMUNICATIONS
ELICITED BY THE SUBJECT THREE (3) QUESTIONS ARE COVERED BY EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE, CONSIDERING THAT:

A. THERE IS NO SHOWING THAT THE MATTERS FOR WHICH EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE IS CLAIMED CONSTITUTE STATE SECRETS.

B. EVEN IF THE TESTS ADOPTED BY THIS HONORABLE COURT IN THE DECISION IS APPLIED, THERE IS NO SHOWING THAT THE ELEMENTS
OF PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS PRIVILEGE ARE PRESENT.

C. ON THE CONTRARY, THERE IS ADEQUATE SHOWING OF A COMPELLING NEED TO JUSTIFY THE DISCLOSURE OF THE INFORMATION
SOUGHT.
D. TO UPHOLD THE CLAIM OF EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE IN THE INSTANT CASE WOULD SERIOUSLY IMPAIR THE RESPONDENTS
PERFORMANCE OF THEIR PRIMARY FUNCTION TO ENACT LAWS.

E. FINALLY, THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO INFORMATION, AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL POLICIES ON PUBLIC
ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY OUTWEIGH THE CLAIM OF EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE.

IV

CONTRARY TO THIS HONORABLE COURTS DECISION, RESPONDENTS DID NOT COMMIT GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN ISSUING THE
ASSAILED CONTEMPT ORDER, CONSIDERING THAT:

A. THERE IS NO LEGITIMATE CLAIM OF EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE IN THE INSTANT CASE.

B. RESPONDENTS DID NOT VIOLATE THE SUPPOSED REQUIREMENTS LAID DOWN IN SENATE V. ERMITA.

C. RESPONDENTS DULY ISSUED THE CONTEMPT ORDER IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEIR INTERNAL RULES.

D. RESPONDENTS DID NOT VIOLATE THE REQUIREMENTS UNDER ARTICLE VI, SECTION 21 OF THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRING THAT ITS
RULES OF PROCEDURE BE DULY PUBLISHED, AND WERE DENIED DUE PROCESS WHEN THE COURT CONSIDERED THE OSGS
INTERVENTION ON THIS ISSUE WITHOUT GIVING RESPONDENTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT.

E. RESPONDENTS ISSUANCE OF THE CONTEMPT ORDER IS NOT ARBITRARY OR PRECIPITATE.

In his Comment, petitioner charges respondent Committees with exaggerating and distorting the Decision of this Court. He avers that there
is nothing in it that prohibits respondent Committees from investigating the NBN Project or asking him additional questions. According to
petitioner, the Court merely applied the rule on executive privilege to the facts of the case. He further submits the following
contentions: first, the assailed Decision did not reverse the presumption against executive secrecy laid down in Senate v. Ermita; second,
respondent Committees failed to overcome the presumption of executive privilege because it appears that they could legislate even
without the communications elicited by the three (3) questions, and they admitted that they could dispense with petitioners testimony if
certain NEDA documents would be given to them; third, the requirement of specificity applies only to the privilege for State, military and
diplomatic secrets, not to the necessarily broad and all-encompassing presidential communications privilege; fourth, there is no right to pry
into the Presidents thought processes or exploratory exchanges; fifth, petitioner is not covering up or hiding anything illegal; sixth, the
Court has the power and duty to annul the Senate Rules; seventh, the Senate is not a continuing body, thus the failure of the present
Senate to publish its Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation (Rules) has a vitiating effect on them; eighth, the
requirement for a witness to be furnished advance copy of questions comports with due process and the constitutional mandate that the
rights of witnesses be respected; and ninth, neither petitioner nor respondent has the final say on the matter of executive privilege, only
the Court.

For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General maintains that: (1) there is no categorical pronouncement from the Court that the assailed
Orders were issued by respondent Committees pursuant to their oversight function; hence, there is no reason for them "to make much" of
the distinction between Sections 21 and 22, Article VI of the Constitution; (2) presidential communications enjoy a presumptive privilege
against disclosure as earlier held in Almonte v. Vasquez9 and Chavez v. Public Estates Authority (PEA)10; (3) the communications elicited by
the three (3) questions are covered by executive privilege, because all the elements of the presidential communications privilege are
present; (4) the subpoena ad testificandum issued by respondent Committees to petitioner is fatally defective under existing law and
jurisprudence; (5) the failure of the present Senate to publish its Rules renders the same void; and (6) respondent Committees arbitrarily
issued the contempt order.

Incidentally, respondent Committees objection to the Resolution dated March 18, 2008 (granting the Office of the Solicitor Generals
Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit Attached Memorandum) only after the promulgation of the Decision in this case is foreclosed
by its untimeliness.

The core issues that arise from the foregoing respective contentions of the opposing parties are as follows:

(1) whether or not there is a recognized presumptive presidential communications privilege in our legal system;

(2) whether or not there is factual or legal basis to hold that the communications elicited by the three (3) questions are covered by
executive privilege;

(3) whether or not respondent Committees have shown that the communications elicited by the three (3) questions are critical to the
exercise of their functions; and

(4) whether or not respondent Committees committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the contempt order.

We shall discuss these issues seriatim.

I
There Is a Recognized Presumptive
Presidential Communications Privilege

Respondent Committees ardently argue that the Courts declaration that presidential communications are presumptively privileged
reverses the "presumption" laid down in Senate v. Ermita11 that "inclines heavily against executive secrecy and in favor of disclosure."
Respondent Committees then claim that the Court erred in relying on the doctrine in Nixon.

Respondent Committees argue as if this were the first time the presumption in favor of the presidential communications privilege is
mentioned and adopted in our legal system. That is far from the truth. The Court, in the earlier case of Almonte v. Vasquez,12 affirmed that
the presidential communications privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation of
powers under the Constitution. Even Senate v. Ermita,13 the case relied upon by respondent Committees, reiterated this concept. There,
the Court enumerated the cases in which the claim of executive privilege was recognized, among them Almonte v. Chavez, Chavez v.
Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG),14 and Chavez v. PEA.15 The Court articulated in these cases that "there are certain
types of information which the government may withhold from the public, 16" that there is a "governmental privilege against public
disclosure with respect to state secrets regarding military, diplomatic and other national security matters"; 17 and that "the right to
information does not extend to matters recognized as privileged information under the separation of powers, by which the Court
meant Presidential conversations, correspondences, and discussions in closed-door Cabinet meetings."18

Respondent Committees observation that this Courts Decision reversed the "presumption that inclines heavily against executive secrecy
and in favor of disclosure" arises from a piecemeal interpretation of the said Decision. The Court has repeatedly held that in order to arrive
at the true intent and meaning of a decision, no specific portion thereof should be isolated and resorted to, but the decision must be
considered in its entirety.19

Note that the aforesaid presumption is made in the context of the circumstances obtaining in Senate v. Ermita, which declared void
Sections 2(b) and 3 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 464, Series of 2005. The pertinent portion of the decision in the said case reads:

From the above discussion on the meaning and scope of executive privilege, both in the United States and in this jurisprudence, a clear
principle emerges. Executive privilege, whether asserted against Congress, the courts, or the public, is recognized only in relation to certain
types of information of a sensitive character. While executive privilege is a constitutional concept, a claim thereof may be valid or not
depending on the ground invoked to justify it and the context in which it is made. Noticeably absent is any recognition that executive
officials are exempt from the duty to disclose information by the mere fact of being executive officials. Indeed, the extraordinary character
of the exemptions indicates that the presumption inclines heavily against executive secrecy and in favor of disclosure. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

Obviously, the last sentence of the above-quoted paragraph in Senate v. Ermita refers to the "exemption" being claimed by the executive
officials mentioned in Section 2(b) of E.O. No. 464, solely by virtue of their positions in the Executive Branch. This means that when an
executive official, who is one of those mentioned in the said Sec. 2(b) of E.O. No. 464, claims to be exempt from disclosure, there can be no
presumption of authorization to invoke executive privilege given by the President to said executive official, such that the presumption in
this situation inclines heavily against executive secrecy and in favor of disclosure.

Senate v. Ermita 20 expounds on the premise of the foregoing ruling in this wise:

Section 2(b) in relation to Section 3 virtually provides that, once the head of office determines that a certain information is privileged, such
determination is presumed to bear the Presidents authority and has the effect of prohibiting the official from appearing before Congress,
subject only to the express pronouncement of the President that it is allowing the appearance of such official. These provisions thus allow
the President to authorize claims of privilege by mere silence.

Such presumptive authorization, however, is contrary to the exceptional nature of the privilege. Executive privilege, as already discussed, is
recognized with respect to information the confidential nature of which is crucial to the fulfillment of the unique role and responsibilities of
the executive branch, or in those instances where exemption from disclosure is necessary to the discharge of highly important executive
responsibilities. The doctrine of executive privilege is thus premised on the fact that certain information must, as a matter of necessity, be
kept confidential in pursuit of the public interest. The privilege being, by definition, an exemption from the obligation to disclose
information, in this case to Congress, the necessity must be of such high degree as to outweigh the public interest in enforcing that
obligation in a particular case.

In light of this highly exceptional nature of the privilege, the Court finds it essential to limit to the President the power to invoke the
privilege. She may of course authorize the Executive Secretary to invoke the privilege on her behalf, in which case the Executive Secretary
must state that the authority is "By order of the President", which means that he personally consulted with her. The privilege being an
extraordinary power, it must be wielded only by the highest official in the executive hierarchy. In other words, the President may not
authorize her subordinates to exercise such power. There is even less reason to uphold such authorization in the instant case where the
authorization is not explicit but by mere silence. Section 3, in relation to Section 2(b), is further invalid on this score.

The constitutional infirmity found in the blanket authorization to invoke executive privilege granted by the President to executive officials in
Sec. 2(b) of E.O. No. 464 does not obtain in this case.

In this case, it was the President herself, through Executive Secretary Ermita, who invoked executive privilege on a specific matter involving
an executive agreement between the Philippines and China, which was the subject of the three (3) questions propounded to petitioner Neri
in the course of the Senate Committees investigation. Thus, the factual setting of this case markedly differs from that passed upon in
Senate v. Ermita.
Moreover, contrary to the claim of respondents, the Decision in this present case hews closely to the ruling in Senate v. Ermita,21 to wit:

Executive privilege

The phrase "executive privilege" is not new in this jurisdiction. It has been used even prior to the promulgation of the 1986 Constitution.
Being of American origin, it is best understood in light of how it has been defined and used in the legal literature of the United States.

Schwart defines executive privilege as "the power of the Government to withhold information from the public, the courts, and the
Congress. Similarly, Rozell defines it as "the right of the President and high-level executive branch officers to withhold information from
Congress, the courts, and ultimately the public." x x x In this jurisdiction, the doctrine of executive privilege was recognized by this Court in
Almonte v. Vasquez. Almonte used the term in reference to the same privilege subject of Nixon. It quoted the following portion of the
Nixon decision which explains the basis for the privilege:

"The expectation of a President to the confidentiality of his conversations and correspondences, like the claim of confidentiality of judicial
deliberations, for example, he has all the values to which we accord deference for the privacy of all citizens and, added to those values, is
the necessity for protection of the public interest in candid, objective, and even blunt or harsh opinions in Presidential decision-making. A
President and those who assist him must be free to explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions and to do so
in a way many would be unwilling to express except privately. These are the considerations justifying a presumptive privilege for
Presidential communications. The privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation of
powers under the Constitution x x x " (Emphasis and italics supplied)

Clearly, therefore, even Senate v. Ermita adverts to "a presumptive privilege for Presidential communication," which was recognized early
on in Almonte v. Vasquez. To construe the passage in Senate v. Ermita adverted to in the Motion for Reconsideration of respondent
Committees, referring to the non-existence of a "presumptive authorization" of an executive official, to mean that the "presumption" in
favor of executive privilege "inclines heavily against executive secrecy and in favor of disclosure" is to distort the ruling in the Senate v.
Ermita and make the same engage in self-contradiction.

Senate v. Ermita22 expounds on the constitutional underpinning of the relationship between the Executive Department and the Legislative
Department to explain why there should be no implied authorization or presumptive authorization to invoke executive privilege by the
Presidents subordinate officials, as follows:

When Congress exercises its power of inquiry, the only way for department heads to exempt themselves therefrom is by a valid claim of
privilege. They are not exempt by the mere fact that they are department heads. Only one executive official may be exempted from this
power - the President on whom executive power is vested, hence, beyond the reach of Congress except through the power of
impeachment. It is based on he being the highest official of the executive branch, and the due respect accorded to a co-equal branch of
governments which is sanctioned by a long-standing custom. (Underscoring supplied)

Thus, if what is involved is the presumptive privilege of presidential communications when invoked by the President on a matter clearly
within the domain of the Executive, the said presumption dictates that the same be recognized and be given preference or priority, in the
absence of proof of a compelling or critical need for disclosure by the one assailing such presumption. Any construction to the contrary will
render meaningless the presumption accorded by settled jurisprudence in favor of executive privilege. In fact, Senate v. Ermita reiterates
jurisprudence citing "the considerations justifying a presumptive privilege for Presidential communications." 23

II

There Are Factual and Legal Bases to


Hold that the Communications Elicited by the
Three (3) Questions Are Covered by Executive Privilege

Respondent Committees claim that the communications elicited by the three (3) questions are not covered by executive privilege because
the elements of the presidential communications privilegeare not present.

A. The power to enter into an executive agreement is a "quintessential and non-delegable presidential power."

First, respondent Committees contend that the power to secure a foreign loan does not relate to a "quintessential and non-delegable
presidential power," because the Constitution does not vest it in the President alone, but also in the Monetary Board which is required to
give its prior concurrence and to report to Congress.

This argument is unpersuasive.

The fact that a power is subject to the concurrence of another entity does not make such power less executive. "Quintessential" is defined
as the most perfect embodiment of something, the concentrated essence of substance.24 On the other hand, "non-delegable" means that a
power or duty cannot be delegated to another or, even if delegated, the responsibility remains with the obligor. 25 The power to enter into
an executive agreement is in essence an executive power. This authority of the President to enter into executive agreements without the
concurrence of the Legislature has traditionally been recognized in Philippine jurisprudence. 26 Now, the fact that the President has to
secure the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board, which shall submit to Congress a complete report of its decision before contracting or
guaranteeing foreign loans, does not diminish the executive nature of the power.
The inviolate doctrine of separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government by no means
prescribes absolute autonomy in the discharge by each branch of that part of the governmental power assigned to it by the sovereign
people. There is the corollary doctrine of checks and balances, which has been carefully calibrated by the Constitution to temper the official
acts of each of these three branches. Thus, by analogy, the fact that certain legislative acts require action from the President for their
validity does not render such acts less legislative in nature. A good example is the power to pass a law. Article VI, Section 27 of the
Constitution mandates that every bill passed by Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President who shall approve
or veto the same. The fact that the approval or vetoing of the bill is lodged with the President does not render the power to pass law
executive in nature. This is because the power to pass law is generally a quintessential and non-delegable power of the Legislature. In the
same vein, the executive power to enter or not to enter into a contract to secure foreign loans does not become less executive in nature
because of conditions laid down in the Constitution. The final decision in the exercise of the said executive power is still lodged in the Office
of the President.

B. The "doctrine of operational proximity" was laid down precisely to limit the scope of the presidential communications privilege but, in
any case, it is not conclusive.

Second, respondent Committees also seek reconsideration of the application of the "doctrine of operational proximity" for the reason that
"it maybe misconstrued to expand the scope of the presidential communications privilege to communications between those who are
operationally proximate to the President but who may have "no direct communications with her."

It must be stressed that the doctrine of "operational proximity" was laid down in In re: Sealed Case27precisely to limit the scope of the
presidential communications privilege. The U.S. court was aware of the dangers that a limitless extension of the privilege risks and,
therefore, carefully cabined its reach by explicitly confining it to White House staff, and not to staffs of the agencies, and then only to White
House staff that has "operational proximity" to direct presidential decision-making, thus:

We are aware that such an extension, unless carefully circumscribed to accomplish the purposes of the privilege, could pose a significant
risk of expanding to a large swath of the executive branch a privilege that is bottomed on a recognition of the unique role of the President.
In order to limit this risk, the presidential communications privilege should be construed as narrowly as is consistent with ensuring that the
confidentiality of the Presidents decision-making process is adequately protected. Not every person who plays a role in the development
of presidential advice, no matter how remote and removed from the President, can qualify for the privilege. In particular, the privilege
should not extend to staff outside the White House in executive branch agencies. Instead, the privilege should apply only to
communications authored or solicited and received by those members of an immediate White House advisors staff who have broad and
significant responsibility for investigation and formulating the advice to be given the President on the particular matter to which the
communications relate. Only communications at that level are close enough to the President to be revelatory of his deliberations or to
pose a risk to the candor of his advisers. See AAPS, 997 F.2d at 910 (it is "operational proximity" to the President that matters in
determining whether "[t]he Presidents confidentiality interests" is implicated).(Emphasis supplied)

In the case at bar, the danger of expanding the privilege "to a large swath of the executive branch" (a fear apparently entertained by
respondents) is absent because the official involved here is a member of the Cabinet, thus, properly within the term "advisor" of the
President; in fact, her alter ego and a member of her official family. Nevertheless, in circumstances in which the official involved is far too
remote, this Court also mentioned in the Decision the organizational test laid down in Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Department of Justice.28 This
goes to show that the operational proximity test used in the Decision is not considered conclusive in every case. In determining which test
to use, the main consideration is to limit the availability of executive privilege only to officials who stand proximate to the President, not
only by reason of their function, but also by reason of their positions in the Executives organizational structure. Thus, respondent
Committees fear that the scope of the privilege would be unnecessarily expanded with the use of the operational proximity test is
unfounded.

C. The Presidents claim of executive privilege is not merely based on a generalized interest; and in balancing respondent Committees
and the Presidents clashing interests, the Court did not disregard the 1987 Constitutional provisions on government transparency,
accountability and disclosure of information.

Third, respondent Committees claim that the Court erred in upholding the Presidents invocation, through the Executive Secretary, of
executive privilege because (a) between respondent Committees specific and demonstrated need and the Presidents generalized interest
in confidentiality, there is a need to strike the balance in favor of the former; and (b) in the balancing of interest, the Court disregarded the
provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution on government transparency, accountability and disclosure of information, specifically,
Article III, Section 7;29 Article II, Sections 2430 and 28;31 Article XI, Section 1;32 Article XVI, Section 10;33 Article VII, Section 20;34 and Article
XII, Sections 9,35 21,36 and 22.37

It must be stressed that the Presidents claim of executive privilege is not merely founded on her generalized interest in confidentiality. The
Letter dated November 15, 2007 of Executive Secretary Ermita specified presidential communications privilege in relation to diplomatic
and economic relations with another sovereign nation as the bases for the claim. Thus, the Letter stated:

The context in which executive privilege is being invoked is that the information sought to be disclosed might impair our diplomatic as
well as economic relations with the Peoples Republic of China. Given the confidential nature in which this information were conveyed to
the President, he cannot provide the Committee any further details of these conversations, without disclosing the very thing the privilege is
designed to protect. (emphasis supplied)

Even in Senate v. Ermita, it was held that Congress must not require the Executive to state the reasons for the claim with such particularity
as to compel disclosure of the information which the privilege is meant to protect. This is a matter of respect for a coordinate and co-equal
department.
It is easy to discern the danger that goes with the disclosure of the Presidents communication with her advisor. The NBN Project involves a
foreign country as a party to the agreement. It was actually a product of the meeting of minds between officials of the Philippines and
China. Whatever the President says about the agreement - particularly while official negotiations are ongoing - are matters which China will
surely view with particular interest. There is danger in such kind of exposure. It could adversely affect our diplomatic as well as economic
relations with the Peoples Republic of China. We reiterate the importance of secrecy in matters involving foreign negotiations as stated
in United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 38 thus:

The nature of foreign negotiations requires caution, and their success must often depend on secrecy, and even when brought to a
conclusion, a full disclosure of all the measures, demands, or eventual concessions which may have been proposed or contemplated would
be extremely impolitic, for this might have a pernicious influence on future negotiations or produce immediate inconveniences, perhaps
danger and mischief, in relation to other powers. The necessity of such caution and secrecy was one cogent reason for vesting the power of
making treaties in the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the principle on which the body was formed confining it to a
small number of members. To admit, then, a right in the House of Representatives to demand and to have as a matter of course all the
papers respecting a negotiation with a foreign power would be to establish a dangerous precedent.

US jurisprudence clearly guards against the dangers of allowing Congress access to all papers relating to a negotiation with a foreign power.
In this jurisdiction, the recent case of Akbayan Citizens Action Party, et al. v. Thomas G. Aquino, et al.39 upheld the privileged character of
diplomatic negotiations. In Akbayan, the Court stated:

Privileged character of diplomatic negotiations

The privileged character of diplomatic negotiations has been recognized in this jurisdiction. In discussing valid limitations on the right to
information, the Court in Chavez v. PCGG held that "information on inter-government exchanges prior to the conclusion of treaties and
executive agreements may be subject to reasonable safeguards for the sake of national interest." Even earlier, the same privilege was
upheld in Peoples Movement for Press Freedom (PMPF) v. Manglapus wherein the Court discussed the reasons for the privilege in more
precise terms.

In PMPF v. Manglapus, the therein petitioners were seeking information from the Presidents representatives on the state of the then on-
going negotiations of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement. The Court denied the petition, stressing that "secrecy of negotiations with
foreign countries is not violative of the constitutional provisions of freedom of speech or of the press nor of the freedom of access to
information." The Resolution went on to state, thus:

The nature of diplomacy requires centralization of authority and expedition of decision which are inherent in executive action. Another
essential characteristic of diplomacy is its confidential nature. Although much has been said about "open" and "secret" diplomacy, with
disparagement of the latter, Secretaries of State Hughes and Stimson have clearly analyzed and justified the practice. In the words of Mr.
Stimson:

"A complicated negotiation cannot be carried through without many, many private talks and discussion, man to man; many tentative
suggestions and proposals. Delegates from other countries come and tell you in confidence of their troubles at home and of their
differences with other countries and with other delegates; they tell you of what they would do under certain circumstances and would
not do under other circumstances If these reports should become public who would ever trust American Delegations in another
conference? (United States Department of State, Press Releases, June 7, 1930, pp. 282-284)

xxxx

There is frequent criticism of the secrecy in which negotiation with foreign powers on nearly all subjects is concerned. This, it is claimed,
is incompatible with the substance of democracy. As expressed by one writer, "It can be said that there is no more rigid system of silence
anywhere in the world." (E.J. Young, Looking Behind the Censorship, J. B. Lipincott Co., 1938) President Wilson in starting his efforts for the
conclusion of the World War declared that we must have "open covenants, openly arrived at." He quickly abandoned his thought.

No one who has studied the question believes that such a method of publicity is possible. In the moment that negotiations are started,
pressure groups attempt to "muscle in." An ill-timed speech by one of the parties or a frank declaration of the concession which are
exacted or offered on both sides would quickly lead to a widespread propaganda to block the negotiations. After a treaty has been
drafted and its terms are fully published, there is ample opportunity for discussion before it is approved. (The New American
Government and Its Works, James T. Young, 4th Edition, p. 194) (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Still in PMPF v. Manglapus, the Court adopted the doctrine in U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. that the President is the sole organ of the
nation in its negotiations with foreign countries,viz:

"x x x In this vast external realm, with its important, complicated, delicate and manifold problems, the President alone has the power to
speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into
the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude; and Congress itself is powerless to invade it. As Marshall said in his great arguments of
March 7, 1800, in the House of Representatives, "The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole
representative with foreign nations." Annals, 6th Cong., col. 613 (Emphasis supplied; underscoring in the original)

Considering that the information sought through the three (3) questions subject of this Petition involves the Presidents dealings with a
foreign nation, with more reason, this Court is wary of approving the view that Congress may peremptorily inquire into not only official,
documented acts of the President but even her confidential and informal discussions with her close advisors on the pretext that said
questions serve some vague legislative need. Regardless of who is in office, this Court can easily foresee unwanted consequences of
subjecting a Chief Executive to unrestricted congressional inquiries done with increased frequency and great publicity. No Executive can
effectively discharge constitutional functions in the face of intense and unchecked legislative incursion into the core of the Presidents
decision-making process, which inevitably would involve her conversations with a member of her Cabinet.

With respect to respondent Committees invocation of constitutional prescriptions regarding the right of the people to information and
public accountability and transparency, the Court finds nothing in these arguments to support respondent Committees case.

There is no debate as to the importance of the constitutional right of the people to information and the constitutional policies on public
accountability and transparency. These are the twin postulates vital to the effective functioning of a democratic government. The citizenry
can become prey to the whims and caprices of those to whom the power has been delegated if they are denied access to information. And
the policies on public accountability and democratic government would certainly be mere empty words if access to such information of
public concern is denied.

In the case at bar, this Court, in upholding executive privilege with respect to three (3) specific questions, did not in any way curb the
publics right to information or diminish the importance of public accountability and transparency.

This Court did not rule that the Senate has no power to investigate the NBN Project in aid of legislation. There is nothing in the assailed
Decision that prohibits respondent Committees from inquiring into the NBN Project. They could continue the investigation and even call
petitioner Neri to testify again. He himself has repeatedly expressed his willingness to do so. Our Decision merely excludes from the scope
of respondents investigation the three (3) questions that elicit answers covered by executive privilege and rules that petitioner cannot be
compelled to appear before respondents to answer the said questions. We have discussed the reasons why these answers are covered by
executive privilege. That there is a recognized public interest in the confidentiality of such information is a recognized principle in other
democratic States. To put it simply, the right to information is not an absolute right.

Indeed, the constitutional provisions cited by respondent Committees do not espouse an absolute right to information. By their wording,
the intention of the Framers to subject such right to the regulation of the law is unmistakable. The highlighted portions of the following
provisions show the obvious limitations on the right to information, thus:

Article III, Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to
documents, and papers pertaining to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as
well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may
be provided by law.

Article II, Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of
all its transactions involving public interest. (Emphasis supplied)

In Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government,40 it was stated that there are no specific laws prescribing the exact limitations
within which the right may be exercised or the correlative state duty may be obliged. Nonetheless, it enumerated the recognized
restrictions to such rights, among them: (1) national security matters, (2) trade secrets and banking transactions, (3) criminal matters, and
(4) other confidential information. National security matters include state secrets regarding military and diplomatic matters, as well as
information on inter-government exchanges prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements. It was further held that even
where there is no need to protect such state secrets, they must be "examined in strict confidence and given scrupulous protection."

Incidentally, the right primarily involved here is the right of respondent Committees to obtain information allegedly in aid of legislation, not
the peoples right to public information. This is the reason why we stressed in the assailed Decision the distinction between these two
rights. As laid down in Senate v. Ermita, "the demand of a citizen for the production of documents pursuant to his right to information does
not have the same obligatory force as a subpoena duces tecum issued by Congress" and "neither does the right to information grant a
citizen the power to exact testimony from government officials." As pointed out, these rights belong to Congress, not to the individual
citizen. It is worth mentioning at this juncture that the parties here are respondent Committees and petitioner Neri and that there was no
prior request for information on the part of any individual citizen. This Court will not be swayed by attempts to blur the distinctions
between the Legislature's right to information in a legitimate legislative inquiry and the public's right to information.

For clarity, it must be emphasized that the assailed Decision did not enjoin respondent Committees from inquiring into the NBN Project.
All that is expected from them is to respect matters that are covered by executive privilege.

III.

Respondent Committees Failed to Show That


the Communications Elicited by the Three Questions
Are Critical to the Exercise of their Functions

In their Motion for Reconsideration, respondent Committees devote an unusually lengthy discussion on the purported legislative nature of
their entire inquiry, as opposed to an oversight inquiry.

At the outset, it must be clarified that the Decision did not pass upon the nature of respondent Committees inquiry into the NBN Project.
To reiterate, this Court recognizes respondent Committees power to investigate the NBN Project in aid of legislation. However, this Court
cannot uphold the view that when a constitutionally guaranteed privilege or right is validly invoked by a witness in the course of a
legislative investigation, the legislative purpose of respondent Committees questions can be sufficiently supported by the expedient of
mentioning statutes and/or pending bills to which their inquiry as a whole may have relevance. The jurisprudential test laid down by this
Court in past decisions on executive privilege is that the presumption of privilege can only be overturned by a showing of compelling
need for disclosure of the information covered by executive privilege.

In the Decision, the majority held that "there is no adequate showing of a compelling need that would justify the limitation of the privilege
and of the unavailability of the information elsewhere by an appropriate investigating authority." In the Motion for Reconsideration,
respondent Committees argue that the information elicited by the three (3) questions are necessary in the discharge of their legislative
functions, among them, (a) to consider the three (3) pending Senate Bills, and (b) to curb graft and corruption.

We remain unpersuaded by respondents assertions.

In U.S. v. Nixon, the U.S. Court held that executive privilege is subject to balancing against other interests and it is necessary to resolve the
competing interests in a manner that would preserve the essential functions of each branch. There, the Court weighed between
presidential privilege and the legitimate claims of the judicial process. In giving more weight to the latter, the Court ruled that the
President's generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.

The Nixon Court ruled that an absolute and unqualified privilege would stand in the way of the primary constitutional duty of the Judicial
Branch to do justice in criminal prosecutions. The said Court further ratiocinated, through its ruling extensively quoted in the Honorable
Chief Justice Puno's dissenting opinion, as follows:

"... this presumptive privilege must be considered in light of our historic commitment to the rule of law. This is nowhere more profoundly
manifest than in our view that 'the twofold aim (of criminal justice) is that guild shall not escape or innocence suffer.' Berger v. United
States, 295 U.S., at 88, 55 S.Ct., at 633. We have elected to employ an adversary system of criminal justice in which the parties contest all
issues before a court of law. The need to develop all relevant facts in the adversary system is both fundamental and comprehensive. The
ends of criminal justice would be defeated if judgments were to be founded on a partial or speculative presentation of the facts. The
very integrity of the judicial system and public confidence in the system depend on full disclosure of all the facts, within the framework
of the rules of evidence. To ensure that justice is done, it is imperative to the function of courts that compulsory process be available for
the production of evidence needed either by the prosecution or by the defense.

xxx xxx xxx

The right to the production of all evidence at a criminal trial similarly has constitutional dimensions. The Sixth Amendment explicitly confers
upon every defendant in a criminal trial the right 'to be confronted with the witness against him' and 'to have compulsory process for
obtaining witnesses in his favor.' Moreover, the Fifth Amendment also guarantees that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due
process of law. It is the manifest duty of the courts to vindicate those guarantees, and to accomplish that it is essential that all relevant
and admissible evidence be produced.

In this case we must weigh the importance of the general privilege of confidentiality of Presidential communications in performance of
the President's responsibilities against the inroads of such a privilege on the fair administration of criminal justice. (emphasis supplied)

xxx xxx xxx

...the allowance of the privilege to withhold evidence that is demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial would cut deeply into the guarantee
of due process of law and gravely impair the basic function of the courts. A President's acknowledged need for confidentiality in the
communications of his office is general in nature, whereas the constitutional need for production of relevant evidence in a criminal
proceeding is specific and central to the fair adjudication of a particular criminal case in the administration of justice. Without access to
specific facts a criminal prosecution may be totally frustrated. The President's broad interest in confidentiality of communication will not
be vitiated by disclosure of a limited number of conversations preliminarily shown to have some bearing on the pending criminal cases.

We conclude that when the ground for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed materials sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on
the generalized interest in confidentiality, it cannot prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair
administration of criminal justice. The generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a
pending criminal trial. (emphasis supplied)

In the case at bar, we are not confronted with a courts need for facts in order to adjudge liability in a criminal case but rather with the
Senates need for information in relation to its legislative functions. This leads us to consider once again just how critical is the subject
information in the discharge of respondent Committees functions. The burden to show this is on the respondent Committees, since they
seek to intrude into the sphere of competence of the President in order to gather information which, according to said respondents, would
"aid" them in crafting legislation.

Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon41 expounded on the nature of a legislative inquiry in aid of legislation
in this wise:

The sufficiency of the Committee's showing of need has come to depend, therefore, entirely on whether the subpoenaed materials are
critical to the performance of its legislative functions. There is a clear difference between Congress' legislative tasks and the responsibility
of a grand jury, or any institution engaged in like functions. While fact-finding by a legislative committee is undeniably a part of its task,
legislative judgments normally depend more on the predicted consequences of proposed legislative actions and their political
acceptability, than on precise reconstruction of past events; Congress frequently legislates on the basis of conflicting information provided
in its hearings. In contrast, the responsibility of the grand jury turns entirely on its ability to determine whether there is probable cause to
believe that certain named individuals did or did not commit specific crimes. If, for example, as in Nixon v. Sirica, one of those crimes is
perjury concerning the content of certain conversations, the grand jury's need for the most precise evidence, the exact text of oral
statements recorded in their original form, is undeniable. We see no comparable need in the legislative process, at least not in the
circumstances of this case. Indeed, whatever force there might once have been in the Committee's argument that the subpoenaed
materials are necessary to its legislative judgments has been substantially undermined by subsequent events. (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, the need for hard facts in crafting legislation cannot be equated with the compelling or demonstratively critical and specific need
for facts which is so essential to the judicial power to adjudicate actual controversies. Also, the bare standard of "pertinency" set
in Arnault cannot be lightly applied to the instant case, which unlike Arnault involves a conflict between two (2) separate, co-equal and
coordinate Branches of the Government.

Whatever test we may apply, the starting point in resolving the conflicting claims between the Executive and the Legislative Branches is the
recognized existence of the presumptive presidential communications privilege. This is conceded even in the Dissenting Opinion of the
Honorable Chief Justice Puno, which states:

A hard look at Senate v. Ermita ought to yield the conclusion that it bestowed a qualified presumption in favor of the Presidential
communications privilege. As shown in the previous discussion, U.S. v. Nixon, as well as the other related Nixon cases Sirica and Senate
Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, et al., v. Nixon in the D.C. Court of Appeals, as well as subsequent cases all
recognize that there is a presumptive privilege in favor of Presidential communications. The Almonte case quoted U.S. v. Nixon and
recognized a presumption in favor of confidentiality of Presidential communications.

The presumption in favor of Presidential communications puts the burden on the respondent Senate Committees to overturn the
presumption by demonstrating their specific need for the information to be elicited by the answers to the three (3) questions subject of this
case, to enable them to craft legislation. Here, there is simply a generalized assertion that the information is pertinent to the exercise of the
power to legislate and a broad and non-specific reference to pending Senate bills. It is not clear what matters relating to these bills could
not be determined without the said information sought by the three (3) questions. As correctly pointed out by the Honorable Justice Dante
O. Tinga in his Separate Concurring Opinion:

If respondents are operating under the premise that the president and/or her executive officials have committed wrongdoings that
need to be corrected or prevented from recurring by remedial legislation, the answer to those three questions will not necessarily
bolster or inhibit respondents from proceeding with such legislation. They could easily presume the worst of the president in enacting
such legislation.

For sure, a factual basis for situations covered by bills is not critically needed before legislatives bodies can come up with relevant
legislation unlike in the adjudication of cases by courts of law. Interestingly, during the Oral Argument before this Court, the counsel for
respondent Committees impliedly admitted that the Senate could still come up with legislations even without petitioner answering the
three (3) questions. In other words, the information being elicited is not so critical after all. Thus:

CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO

So can you tell the Court how critical are these questions to the lawmaking function of the Senate. For instance, question Number 1
whether the President followed up the NBN project. According to the other counsel this question has already been asked, is that correct?

ATTY. AGABIN

Well, the question has been asked but it was not answered, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO

Yes. But my question is how critical is this to the lawmaking function of the Senate?

ATTY. AGABIN

I believe it is critical, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO

Why?

ATTY. AGABIN

For instance, with respect to the proposed Bill of Senator Miriam Santiago, she would like to indorse a Bill to include Executive Agreements
had been used as a device to the circumventing the Procurement Law.

CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO


But the question is just following it up.

ATTY. AGABIN

I believe that may be the initial question, Your Honor, because if we look at this problem in its factual setting as counsel for petitioner has
observed, there are intimations of a bribery scandal involving high government officials.

CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO

Again, about the second question, were you dictated to prioritize this ZTE, is that critical to the lawmaking function of the Senate? Will it
result to the failure of the Senate to cobble a Bill without this question?

ATTY. AGABIN

I think it is critical to lay the factual foundations for a proposed amendment to the Procurement Law, Your Honor, because the petitioner
had already testified that he was offered a P200 Million bribe, so if he was offered a P200 Million bribe it is possible that other government
officials who had something to do with the approval of the contract would be offered the same amount of bribes.

CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO

Again, that is speculative.

ATTY. AGABIN

That is why they want to continue with the investigation, Your Honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO

How about the third question, whether the President said to go ahead and approve the project after being told about the alleged bribe.
How critical is that to the lawmaking function of the Senate? And the question is may they craft a Bill a remedial law without forcing
petitioner Neri to answer this question?

ATTY. AGABIN

Well, they can craft it, Your Honor, based on mere speculation. And sound legislation requires that a proposed Bill should have some basis
in fact.42

The failure of the counsel for respondent Committees to pinpoint the specific need for the information sought or how the withholding of
the information sought will hinder the accomplishment of their legislative purpose is very evident in the above oral exchanges. Due to the
failure of the respondent Committees to successfully discharge this burden, the presumption in favor of confidentiality of presidential
communication stands. The implication of the said presumption, like any other, is to dispense with the burden of proof as to whether the
disclosure will significantly impair the Presidents performance of her function. Needless to state this is assumed, by virtue of the
presumption.

Anent respondent Committees bewailing that they would have to "speculate" regarding the questions covered by the privilege, this does
not evince a compelling need for the information sought. Indeed, Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v.
Nixon43 held that while fact-finding by a legislative committee is undeniably a part of its task, legislative judgments normally depend more
on the predicted consequences of proposed legislative actions and their political acceptability than on a precise reconstruction of past
events. It added that, normally, Congress legislates on the basis of conflicting information provided in its hearings. We cannot subscribe to
the respondent Committees self-defeating proposition that without the answers to the three (3) questions objected to as privileged, the
distinguished members of the respondent Committees cannot intelligently craft legislation.

Anent the function to curb graft and corruption, it must be stressed that respondent Committees need for information in the exercise of
this function is not as compelling as in instances when the purpose of the inquiry is legislative in nature. This is because curbing graft and
corruption is merely an oversight function of Congress.44 And if this is the primary objective of respondent Committees in asking the three
(3) questions covered by privilege, it may even contradict their claim that their purpose is legislative in nature and not oversight. In any
event, whether or not investigating graft and corruption is a legislative or oversight function of Congress, respondent Committees
investigation cannot transgress bounds set by the Constitution.

In Bengzon, Jr. v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee,45 this Court ruled:

The "allocation of constitutional boundaries" is a task that this Court must perform under the Constitution. Moreover, as held in a recent
case, "the political question doctrine neither interposes an obstacle to judicial determination of the rival claims. The jurisdiction to delimit
constitutional boundaries has been given to this Court. It cannot abdicate that obligation mandated by the 1987 Constitution, although said
provision by no means does away with the applicability of the principle in appropriate cases.46 (Emphasis supplied)
There, the Court further ratiocinated that "the contemplated inquiry by respondent Committee is not really in aid of legislation because it
is not related to a purpose within the jurisdiction of Congress, since the aim of the investigation is to find out whether or not the
relatives of the President or Mr. Ricardo Lopa had violated Section 5 of R.A. No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, a matter
that appears more within the province of the courts rather than of the Legislature."47 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The general thrust and the tenor of the three (3) questions is to trace the alleged bribery to the Office of the President. 48 While it may be a
worthy endeavor to investigate the potential culpability of high government officials, including the President, in a given government
transaction, it is simply not a task for the Senate to perform. The role of the Legislature is to make laws, not to determine anyones guilt of a
crime or wrongdoing. Our Constitution has not bestowed upon the Legislature the latter role. Just as the Judiciary cannot legislate, neither
can the Legislature adjudicate or prosecute.

Respondent Committees claim that they are conducting an inquiry in aid of legislation and a "search for truth," which in respondent
Committees view appears to be equated with the search for persons responsible for "anomalies" in government contracts.

No matter how noble the intentions of respondent Committees are, they cannot assume the power reposed upon our prosecutorial bodies
and courts. The determination of who is/are liable for a crime or illegal activity, the investigation of the role played by each official, the
determination of who should be haled to court for prosecution and the task of coming up with conclusions and finding of facts regarding
anomalies, especially the determination of criminal guilt, are not functions of the Senate. Congress is neither a law enforcement nor a trial
agency. Moreover, it bears stressing that no inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the
Congress, i.e. legislation. Investigations conducted solely to gather incriminatory evidence and "punish" those investigated are indefensible.
There is no Congressional power to expose for the sake of exposure. 49In this regard, the pronouncement in Barenblatt v. United States50 is
instructive, thus:

Broad as it is, the power is not, however, without limitations. Since Congress may only investigate into the areas in which it may
potentially legislate or appropriate, it cannot inquire into matters which are within the exclusive province of one of the other branches of
the government. Lacking the judicial power given to the Judiciary, it cannot inquire into matters that are exclusively the concern of the
Judiciary. Neither can it supplant the Executive in what exclusively belongs to the Executive. (Emphasis supplied.)

At this juncture, it is important to stress that complaints relating to the NBN Project have already been filed against President Arroyo and
other personalities before the Office of the Ombudsman. Under our Constitution, it is the Ombudsman who has the duty "to investigate
any act or omission of any public official, employee, office or agency when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper,
or inefficient."51 The Office of the Ombudsman is the body properly equipped by the Constitution and our laws to preliminarily determine
whether or not the allegations of anomaly are true and who are liable therefor. The same holds true for our courts upon which the
Constitution reposes the duty to determine criminal guilt with finality. Indeed, the rules of procedure in the Office of the Ombudsman and
the courts are well-defined and ensure that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of all persons, parties and witnesses alike, are
protected and safeguarded.

Should respondent Committees uncover information related to a possible crime in the course of their investigation, they have the
constitutional duty to refer the matter to the appropriate agency or branch of government. Thus, the Legislatures need for information in
an investigation of graft and corruption cannot be deemed compelling enough to pierce the confidentiality of information validly covered
by executive privilege. As discussed above, the Legislature can still legislate on graft and corruption even without the information covered
by the three (3) questions subject of the petition.

Corollarily, respondent Committees justify their rejection of petitioners claim of executive privilege on the ground that there is no privilege
when the information sought might involve a crime or illegal activity, despite the absence of an administrative or judicial determination to
that effect. Significantly, however, in Nixon v. Sirica,52 the showing required to overcome the presumption favoring confidentiality
turned, not on the nature of the presidential conduct that the subpoenaed material might reveal, but, instead, on the nature and
appropriateness of the function in the performance of which the material was sought, and the degree to which the material was
necessary to its fulfillment.

Respondent Committees assert that Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon does not apply to the case at bar
because, unlike in the said case, no impeachment proceeding has been initiated at present. The Court is not persuaded. While it is true that
no impeachment proceeding has been initiated, however, complaints relating to the NBN Project have already been filed against President
Arroyo and other personalities before the Office of the Ombudsman. As the Court has said earlier, the prosecutorial and judicial arms of
government are the bodies equipped and mandated by the Constitution and our laws to determine whether or not the allegations of
anomaly in the NBN Project are true and, if so, who should be prosecuted and penalized for criminal conduct.

Legislative inquiries, unlike court proceedings, are not subject to the exacting standards of evidence essential to arrive at accurate factual
findings to which to apply the law. Hence, Section 10 of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation provides
that "technical rules of evidence applicable to judicial proceedings which do not affect substantive rights need not be observed by the
Committee." Court rules which prohibit leading, hypothetical, or repetitive questions or questions calling for a hearsay answer, to name a
few, do not apply to a legislative inquiry. Every person, from the highest public official to the most ordinary citizen, has the right to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty in proper proceedings by a competent court or body.

IV

Respondent Committees Committed Grave


Abuse of Discretion in Issuing the Contempt Order
Respondent Committees insist that they did not commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing the contempt order because (1) there is no
legitimate claim of executive privilege; (2) they did not violate the requirements laid down in Senate v. Ermita; (3) they issued the contempt
order in accordance with their internal Rules; (4) they did not violate the requirement under Article VI, Section 21 of the Constitution
requiring the publication of their Rules; and (5) their issuance of the contempt order is not arbitrary or precipitate.

We reaffirm our earlier ruling.

The legitimacy of the claim of executive privilege having been fully discussed in the preceding pages, we see no reason to discuss it once
again.

Respondent Committees second argument rests on the view that the ruling in Senate v. Ermita, requiring invitations or subpoenas to
contain the "possible needed statute which prompted the need for the inquiry" along with the "usual indication of the subject of inquiry
and the questions relative to and in furtherance thereof" is not provided for by the Constitution and is merely an obiter dictum.

On the contrary, the Court sees the rationale and necessity of compliance with these requirements.

An unconstrained congressional investigative power, like an unchecked Executive, generates its own abuses. Consequently, claims that the
investigative power of Congress has been abused (or has the potential for abuse) have been raised many times. 53 Constant exposure to
congressional subpoena takes its toll on the ability of the Executive to function effectively. The requirements set forth in Senate v.
Ermita are modest mechanisms that would not unduly limit Congress power. The legislative inquiry must be confined to permissible areas
and thus, prevent the "roving commissions" referred to in the U.S. case, Kilbourn v. Thompson.54 Likewise, witnesses have their
constitutional right to due process. They should be adequately informed what matters are to be covered by the inquiry. It will also allow
them to prepare the pertinent information and documents. To our mind, these requirements concede too little political costs or burdens on
the part of Congress when viewed vis--vis the immensity of its power of inquiry. The logic of these requirements is well articulated in the
study conducted by William P. Marshall,55 to wit:

A second concern that might be addressed is that the current system allows committees to continually investigate the Executive without
constraint. One process solution addressing this concern is to require each investigation be tied to a clearly stated purpose. At present,
the charters of some congressional committees are so broad that virtually any matter involving the Executive can be construed to fall within
their province. Accordingly, investigations can proceed without articulation of specific need or purpose. A requirement for a more precise
charge in order to begin an inquiry should immediately work to limit the initial scope of the investigation and should also serve to contain
the investigation once it is instituted. Additionally, to the extent clear statements of rules cause legislatures to pause and seriously
consider the constitutional implications of proposed courses of action in other areas, they would serve that goal in the context of
congressional investigations as well.

The key to this reform is in its details. A system that allows a standing committee to simply articulate its reasons to investigate pro
forma does no more than imposes minimal drafting burdens. Rather, the system must be designed in a manner that imposes actual
burdens on the committee to articulate its need for investigation and allows for meaningful debate about the merits of proceeding with
the investigation.(Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, petitioners request to be furnished an advance copy of questions is a reasonable demand that should have been granted by
respondent Committees.

Unfortunately, the Subpoena Ad Testificandum dated November 13, 2007 made no specific reference to any pending Senate bill. It did not
also inform petitioner of the questions to be asked. As it were, the subpoena merely commanded him to "testify on what he knows relative
to the subject matter under inquiry."

Anent the third argument, respondent Committees contend that their Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation (the
"Rules") are beyond the reach of this Court. While it is true that this Court must refrain from reviewing the internal processes of Congress,
as a co-equal branch of government, however, when a constitutional requirement exists, the Court has the duty to look into Congress
compliance therewith. We cannot turn a blind eye to possible violations of the Constitution simply out of courtesy. In this regard, the
pronouncement in Arroyo v. De Venecia56 is enlightening, thus:

"Cases both here and abroad, in varying forms of expression, all deny to the courts the power to inquire into allegations that, in enacting a
law, a House of Congress failed to comply with its own rules, in the absence of showing that there was a violation of a constitutional
provision or the rights of private individuals.

United States v. Ballin, Joseph & Co., the rule was stated thus: The Constitution empowers each House to determine its rules of
proceedings. It may not by its rules ignore constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights, and there should be a reasonable
relation between the mode or method of proceeding established by the rule and the result which is sought to be attained."

In the present case, the Courts exercise of its power of judicial review is warranted because there appears to be a clear abuse of the power
of contempt on the part of respondent Committees. Section 18 of the Rules provides that:

"The Committee, by a vote of majority of all its members, may punish for contempt any witness before it who disobey any order of the
Committee or refuses to be sworn or to testify or to answer proper questions by the Committee or any of its members." (Emphasis
supplied)
In the assailed Decision, we said that there is a cloud of doubt as to the validity of the contempt order because during the deliberation of
the three (3) respondent Committees, only seven (7) Senators were present. This number could hardly fulfill the majority requirement
needed by respondent Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations which has a membership of seventeen (17)
Senators and respondent Committee on National Defense and Security which has a membership of eighteen (18) Senators. With respect to
respondent Committee on Trade and Commerce which has a membership of nine (9) Senators, only three (3) members were
present.57These facts prompted us to quote in the Decision the exchanges between Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.
whereby the former raised the issue of lack of the required majority to deliberate and vote on the contempt order.

When asked about such voting during the March 4, 2008 hearing before this Court, Senator Francis Pangilinan stated that any defect in the
committee voting had been cured because two-thirds of the Senators effectively signed for the Senate in plenary session. 58

Obviously the deliberation of the respondent Committees that led to the issuance of the contempt order is flawed. Instead of being
submitted to a full debate by all the members of the respondent Committees, the contempt order was prepared and thereafter presented
to the other members for signing. As a result, the contempt order which was issued on January 30, 2008 was not a faithful representation
of the proceedings that took place on said date. Records clearly show that not all of those who signed the contempt order were present
during the January 30, 2008 deliberation when the matter was taken up.

Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution states that:

The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance
with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of person appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected. (Emphasis
supplied)

All the limitations embodied in the foregoing provision form part of the witness settled expectation. If the limitations are not observed, the
witness settled expectation is shattered. Here, how could there be a majority vote when the members in attendance are not enough to
arrive at such majority? Petitioner has the right to expect that he can be cited in contempt only through a majority vote in a proceeding in
which the matter has been fully deliberated upon. There is a greater measure of protection for the witness when the concerns and
objections of the members are fully articulated in such proceeding. We do not believe that respondent Committees have the discretion to
set aside their rules anytime they wish. This is especially true here where what is involved is the contempt power. It must be stressed that
the Rules are not promulgated for their benefit. More than anybody else, it is the witness who has the highest stake in the proper
observance of the Rules.

Having touched the subject of the Rules, we now proceed to respondent Committees fourth argument. Respondent Committees argue that
the Senate does not have to publish its Rules because the same was published in 1995 and in 2006. Further, they claim that the Senate is a
continuing body; thus, it is not required to republish the Rules, unless the same is repealed or amended.

On the nature of the Senate as a "continuing body," this Court sees fit to issue a clarification. Certainly, there is no debate that the
Senate as an institution is "continuing", as it is not dissolved as an entity with each national election or change in the composition of its
members. However, in the conduct of its day-to-day business the Senate of each Congress acts separately and independently of the Senate
of the Congress before it. The Rules of the Senate itself confirms this when it states:

RULE XLIV
UNFINISHED BUSINESS

SEC. 123. Unfinished business at the end of the session shall be taken up at the next session in the same status.

All pending matters and proceedings shall terminate upon the expiration of one (1) Congress, but may be taken by the succeeding
Congress as if present for the first time. (emphasis supplied)

Undeniably from the foregoing, all pending matters and proceedings, i.e. unpassed bills and even legislative investigations, of the Senate of
a particular Congress are considered terminated upon the expiration of that Congress and it is merely optional on the Senate of the
succeeding Congress to take up such unfinished matters, not in the same status, but as if presented for the first time. The logic and
practicality of such a rule is readily apparent considering that the Senate of the succeeding Congress (which will typically have a different
composition as that of the previous Congress) should not be bound by the acts and deliberations of the Senate of which they had no part. If
the Senate is a continuing body even with respect to the conduct of its business, then pending matters will not be deemed terminated with
the expiration of one Congress but will, as a matter of course, continue into the next Congress with the same status.

This dichotomy of the continuity of the Senate as an institution and of the opposite nature of the conduct of its business is reflected in its
Rules. The Rules of the Senate (i.e. the Senates main rules of procedure) states:

RULE LI
AMENDMENTS TO, OR REVISIONS OF, THE RULES

SEC. 136. At the start of each session in which the Senators elected in the preceding elections shall begin their term of office, the President
may endorse the Rules to the appropriate committee for amendment or revision.

The Rules may also be amended by means of a motion which should be presented at least one day before its consideration, and the vote of
the majority of the Senators present in the session shall be required for its approval. (emphasis supplied)
RULE LII
DATE OF TAKING EFFECT

SEC. 137. These Rules shall take effect on the date of their adoption and shall remain in force until they are amended or repealed.
(emphasis supplied)

Section 136 of the Senate Rules quoted above takes into account the new composition of the Senate after an election and the possibility of
the amendment or revision of the Rules at the start of eachsession in which the newly elected Senators shall begin their term.

However, it is evident that the Senate has determined that its main rules are intended to be valid from the date of their adoption until they
are amended or repealed. Such language is conspicuously absent from the Rules. The Rules simply state "(t)hese Rules shall take effect
seven (7) days after publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation."59 The latter does not explicitly provide for the continued
effectivity of such rules until they are amended or repealed. In view of the difference in the language of the two sets of Senate rules, it
cannot be presumed that the Rules (on legislative inquiries) would continue into the next Congress. The Senate of the next Congress may
easily adopt different rules for its legislative inquiries which come within the rule on unfinished business.

The language of Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution requiring that the inquiry be conducted in accordance with the duly published
rules of procedure is categorical. It is incumbent upon the Senate to publish the rules for its legislative inquiries in each Congress or
otherwise make the published rules clearly state that the same shall be effective in subsequent Congresses or until they are amended or
repealed to sufficiently put public on notice.

If it was the intention of the Senate for its present rules on legislative inquiries to be effective even in the next Congress, it could have easily
adopted the same language it had used in its main rules regarding effectivity.

Lest the Court be misconstrued, it should likewise be stressed that not all orders issued or proceedings conducted pursuant to the
subject Rules are null and void. Only those that result in violation of the rights of witnesses should be considered null and void, considering
that the rationale for the publication is to protect the rights of witnesses as expressed in Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution. Sans such
violation, orders and proceedings are considered valid and effective.

Respondent Committees last argument is that their issuance of the contempt order is not precipitate or arbitrary. Taking into account the
totality of circumstances, we find no merit in their argument.

As we have stressed before, petitioner is not an unwilling witness, and contrary to the assertion of respondent Committees, petitioner did
not assume that they no longer had any other questions for him. He repeatedly manifested his willingness to attend subsequent hearings
and respond to new matters. His only request was that he be furnished a copy of the new questions in advance to enable him to adequately
prepare as a resource person. He did not attend the November 20, 2007 hearing because Executive Secretary Ermita requested respondent
Committees to dispense with his testimony on the ground of executive privilege. Note that petitioner is an executive official under the
direct control and supervision of the Chief Executive. Why punish petitioner for contempt when he was merely directed by his superior?
Besides, save for the three (3) questions, he was very cooperative during the September 26, 2007 hearing.

On the part of respondent Committees, this Court observes their haste and impatience. Instead of ruling on Executive Secretary Ermitas
claim of executive privilege, they curtly dismissed it as unsatisfactory and ordered the arrest of petitioner. They could have informed
petitioner of their ruling and given him time to decide whether to accede or file a motion for reconsideration. After all, he is not just an
ordinary witness; he is a high- ranking official in a co-equal branch of government. He is an alter ego of the President. The same haste and
impatience marked the issuance of the contempt order, despite the absence of the majority of the members of the respondent
Committees, and their subsequent disregard of petitioners motion for reconsideration alleging the pendency of his petition
for certiorari before this Court.

On a concluding note, we are not unmindful of the fact that the Executive and the Legislature are political branches of government. In a
free and democratic society, the interests of these branches inevitably clash, but each must treat the other with official courtesy and
respect. This Court wholeheartedly concurs with the proposition that it is imperative for the continued health of our democratic institutions
that we preserve the constitutionally mandated checks and balances among the different branches of government.

In the present case, it is respondent Committees contention that their determination on the validity of executive privilege should be
binding on the Executive and the Courts. It is their assertion that theirinternal procedures and deliberations cannot be inquired into by this
Court supposedly in accordance with the principle of respect between co-equal branches of government. Interestingly, it is a courtesy that
they appear to be unwilling to extend to the Executive (on the matter of executive privilege) or this Court (on the matter of judicial review).
It moves this Court to wonder: In respondent Committees paradigm of checks and balances, what are the checks to the Legislatures all-
encompassing, awesome power of investigation? It is a power, like any other, that is susceptible to grave abuse.

While this Court finds laudable the respondent Committees well-intentioned efforts to ferret out corruption, even in the highest echelons
of government, such lofty intentions do not validate or accord to Congress powers denied to it by the Constitution and granted instead to
the other branches of government.

There is no question that any story of government malfeasance deserves an inquiry into its veracity. As respondent Committees contend,
this is founded on the constitutional command of transparency and public accountability. The recent clamor for a "search for truth" by the
general public, the religious community and the academe is an indication of a concerned citizenry, a nation that demands an accounting of
an entrusted power. However, the best venue for this noble undertaking is not in the political branches of government. The customary
partisanship and the absence of generally accepted rules on evidence are too great an obstacle in arriving at the truth or achieving justice
that meets the test of the constitutional guarantee of due process of law. We believe the people deserve a more exacting "search for truth"
than the process here in question, if that is its objective.

WHEREFORE, respondent Committees Motion for Reconsideration dated April 8, 2008 is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 120265 September 18, 1995

AGAPITO A. AQUINO, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, MOVE MAKATI, MATEO BEDON and JUANITO ICARO, respondents.

KAPUNAN, J.:

The sanctity of the people's will must be observed at all times if our nascent democracy is to be preserved. In any challenge having the
effect of reversing a democratic choice, expressed through the ballot, this Court should be ever so vigilant in finding solutions which would
give effect to the will of the majority, for sound public policy dictates that all elective offices are filled by those who have received the
highest number of votes cast in an election. When a challenge to a winning candidate's qualifications however becomes inevitable, the
ineligibility ought to be so noxious to the Constitution that giving effect to the apparent will of the people would ultimately do harm to our
democratic institutions.

On March 20, 1995, petitioner Agapito A. Aquino filed his Certificate of Candidacy for the position of Representative for the new Second
Legislative District of Makati City. Among others, Aquino provided the following information in his certificate of candidacy, viz:.

(7) RESIDENCE (Complete Address): 284 AMAPOLA COR. ADALLA STS., PALM VILLAGE, MAKATI.

xxx xxx xxx

(8) RESIDENCE IN THE CONSTITUENCY WHERE I SEEK TO BE ELECTED IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE ELECTION: ______ Years
and 10 Months.

xxx xxx xxx

THAT I AM ELIGIBLE for said Office; That I will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and will maintain true
faith and allegiance thereto; That I will obey the law, rules and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities; That the obligation
imposed to such is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that the facts therein are true to the best of
my knowledge.1

On April 24, 1995, Move Makati, a duly registered political party, and Mateo Bedon, Chairman of the LAKAS-NUCD-UMDP of Barangay
Cembo, Makati City, filed a petition to disqualify Agapito A. Aquino 2 on the ground that the latter lacked the residence qualification as a
candidate for congressman which, under Section 6, Art. VI of the 1987 the Constitution, should be for a period not less than one (1) year
immediately preceding the May 8, 1995 elections. The petition was docketed as SPA No. 95-113 and was assigned to the Second Division of
the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

On April 25, 1995, a day after said petition for disqualification was filed, petitioner filed another certificate of candidacy amending the
certificate dated March 20, 1995. This time, petitioner stated in Item 8 of his certificate that he had resided in the constituency where he
sought to be elected for one (l) year and thirteen (13) days. 3

On May 2, 1995, petitioner filed his Answer dated April 29, 1995 praying for the dismissal of the disqualification case. 4

On the same day, May 2, 1995, a hearing was conducted by the COMELEC wherein petitioner testified and presented in evidence, among
others, his Affidavit dated May 2, 1995,5 lease contract between petitioner and Leonor Feliciano dated April 1, 1994,6 Affidavit of Leonor
Feliciano dated April 28,19957 and Affidavit of Daniel Galamay dated April 28, 1995.8

After hearing of the petition for disqualification, the Second Division of the COMELEC promulgated a Resolution dated May 6, 1995,
the decretal portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Commission (Second Division) RESOLVES to DISMISS the instant: petition for Disqualification
against respondent AGAPITO AQUINO and declares him ELIGIBLE to run for the Office of Representative in the Second Legislative District of
Makati City.

SO ORDERED.9
On May 7, 1995, Move Makati and Mateo Bedon filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the May 6, 1995 resolution with the COMELEC en
banc.

Meanwhile, on May 8, 1995, elections were held. In Makati City where three (3) candidates vied for the congressional seat in the Second
District, petitioner garnered thirty eight thousand five hundred forty seven (38,547) votes as against another candidate, Agusto Syjuco, who
obtained thirty five thousand nine hundred ten (35,910) votes. 10

On May 10, 1995, private respondents Move Makati and Bedon filed an Urgent Motion Ad Cautelum to Suspend Proclamation of petitioner.
Thereafter, they filed an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration of the COMELEC's Second Division resolution dated May 6, 1995 and a 2nd
Urgent Motion Ad Cautelum to Suspend Proclamation of petitioner.

On May 15, 1995, COMELEC en banc issued an Order suspending petitioner's proclamation. The dispositive portion of the order reads:

WHEREFORE, pursuant to the provisions of Section 6 of Republic Act No. 6646, the Board of Canvassers of the City of Makati is hereby
directed to complete the canvassing of election returns of the Second District of Makati, but to suspend the proclamation of respondent
Agapito A. Aquino should he obtain the winning number of votes for the position of Representative of the Second District of the City of
Makati, until the motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners on May 7, 1995, shall have been resolved by the Commission.

The Executive Director, this Commission, is directed to cause the immediate implementation of this Order. The Clerk of Court of the
Commission is likewise directed to inform the parties by the fastest means available of this Order, and to calendar the hearing of the
Motion for Reconsideration on May 17, 1995, at 10:00 in the morning, PICC Press Center, Pasay City.

SO ORDERED.11

On May 16, 1995, petitioner filed his Comment/Opposition with urgent motion to lift order of suspension of proclamation.

On June 1, 1995, petitioner filed a "Motion to File Supplemental Memorandum and Motion to Resolve Urgent Motion to Resolve Motion to
Lift Suspension of Proclamation" wherein he manifested his intention to raise, among others, the issue of whether of not the determination
of the qualifications of petitioner after the elections is lodged exclusively in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal pursuant to
Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.

Resolving petitioner's motion to lift suspension of his proclamation, the COMELEC en banc issued an Order on June 2, 1995, the decretal
portion thereof residing:

Pursuant to the said provisions and considering the attendant circumstances of the case, the Commission RESOLVED to proceed with the
promulgation but to suspend its rules, to accept the filing of the aforesaid motion, and to allow the parties to be heard thereon because the
issue of jurisdiction now before the Commission has to be studied with more reflection and judiciousness. 12

On the same day, June 2, 1995, the COMELEC en banc issued a Resolution reversing the resolution of the Second Division dated May 6,
1995. The fallo reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of the Second Division, promulgated on
May 6, 1995, is GRANTED. Respondent Agapito A. Aquino is declared ineligible and thus disqualified as a candidate for the Office of
Representative of the Second Legislative District of Makati City in the May 8, 1995 elections, for lack of the constitutional qualification of
residence. Consequently, the order of suspension of proclamation of the respondent should he obtain the winning number of votes, issued
by this Commission on May 15, 1995 is now made permanent.

Upon the finality of this Resolution, the Board of Canvassers of the City of Makati shall immediately reconvene and, on the basis of the
completed canvass of election returns, determine the winner out of the remaining qualified candidates, who shall be immediately be
proclaimed.

SO ORDERED. 13

Hence, the instant Petition for Certiorari 14 assailing the orders dated May 15, 1995 and June 2, 1995, as well as the resolution dated June 2,
1995 issued by the COMELEC en banc. Petitioner's raises the following errors for consideration, to wit:

THE COMELEC HAS NO JURISDICTION TO DETERMINE AND ADJUDGE THE DISQUALIFICATION ISSUE INVOLVING CONGRESSIONAL
CANDIDATES AFTER THE MAY 8, 1995 ELECTIONS, SUCH DETERMINATION BEING RESERVED TO AND LODGE EXCLUSIVELY WITH THE HOUSE
OF REPRESENTATIVE ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL

ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE COMELEC HAS JURISDICTION, SAID JURISDICTION CEASED IN THE INSTANT CASE AFTER THE ELECTIONS,
AND THE REMEDY/IES AVAILABLE TO THE ADVERSE PARTIES LIE/S IN ANOTHER FORUM WHICH, IT IS SUBMITTED, IS THE HRET CONSISTENT
WITH SECTION 17, ARTICLE VI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION
C

THE COMELEC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN IT PROCEEDED TO PROMULGATE ITS QUESTIONED DECISION (ANNEX "C",
PETITION) DESPITE IT OWN RECOGNITION THAT A THRESHOLD ISSUE OF JURISDICTION HAS TO BE JUDICIOUSLY REVIEWED AGAIN,
ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE COMELEC HAS JURISDICTION, THE COMELEC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION, AND SERIOUS
ERROR IN DIRECTING WITHOUT NOTICE THE SUSPENSION OF THE PROCLAMATION OF THE PETITIONER AS THE WINNING CONGRESSIONAL
CANDIDATE AND DESPITE THE MINISTERIAL NATURE OF SUCH DUTY TO PROCLAIM (PENDING THE FINALITY OF THE DISQUALIFICATION
CASE AGAINST THE PETITIONER) IF ONLY NOT TO THWART THE PEOPLE'S WILL.

THE COMELEC'S FINDING OF NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT OF ONE YEAR AGAINST THE PETITIONER IS
CONTRARY TO EVIDENCE AND TO APPLICABLE LAWS AND JURISPRUDENCE.

IN ANY CASE, THE COMELEC CRITICALLY ERRED IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE THE LEGAL IMPOSSIBILITY OF ENFORCING THE ONE YEAR
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT OF CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES IN NEWLY CREATED POLITICAL DISTRICTS WHICH WERE ONLY EXISTING FOR
LESS THAN A YEAR AT THE TIME OF THE ELECTION AND BARELY FOUR MONTHS IN THE CASE OF PETITIONER'S DISTRICT IN MAKATI OF
CONGRESSIONAL.

THE COMELEC COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT ORDERED THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS TO
"DETERMINE AND PROCLAIM THE WINNER OUT OF THE REMAINING QUALIFIED CANDIDATES" AFTER THE ERRONEOUS DISQUALIFICATION
OF YOUR PETITIONER IN THAT SUCH DIRECTIVE IS IN TOTAL DISREGARD OF THE WELL SETTLED DOCTRINE THAT A SECOND PLACE
CANDIDATE OR PERSON WHO WAS REPUDIATED BY THE ELECTORATE IS A LOSER AND CANNOT BE PROCLAIMED AS SUBSTITUTE
WINNER.15

In his first three assignments of error, petitioner vigorously contends that after the May 8, 1995 elections, the COMELEC lost its jurisdiction
over the question of petitioner's qualifications to run for member of the House of Representatives. He claims that jurisdiction over the
petition for disqualification is exclusively lodged with the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET). Given the yet unresolved
question of jurisdiction, petitioner avers that the COMELEC committed serious error and grave abuse of discretion in directing the
suspension of his proclamation as the winning candidate in the Second Congressional District of Makati City. We disagree.

Petitioner conveniently confuses the distinction between an unproclaimed candidate to the House of Representatives and a member of the
same. Obtaining the highest number of votes in an election does not automatically vest the position in the winning candidate. Section 17 of
Article VI of the 1987 Constitution reads:

The Senate and the House of Representatives shall have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the
election, returns and qualifications of their respective Members.

Under the above-stated provision, the electoral tribunal clearly assumes jurisdiction over all contests relative to the election, returns and
qualifications of candidates for either the Senate or the House only when the latter become members of either the Senate or the House of
Representatives. A candidate who has not been proclaimed 16 and who has not taken his oath of office cannot be said to be a member of
the House of Representatives subject to Section. 17 of the Constitution. While the proclamation of a winning candidate in an election is
ministerial, B.P. 881 in conjunction with Sec 6 of R.A. 6646 allows suspension of proclamation under circumstances mentioned therein.
Thus, petitioner's contention that "after the conduct of the election and (petitioner) has been established the winner of the electoral
exercise from the moment of election, the COMELEC is automatically divested of authority to pass upon the question of qualification" finds
no basis, because even after the elections the COMELEC is empowered by Section 6 (in relation to Section 7) of R.A. 6646 to continue to
hear and decide questions relating to qualifications of candidates Section 6 states:

Sec. 6. Effect of Disqualification Case. Any candidate, who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for,
and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. If for any reason a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be
disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, the Court or Commission shall continue with the
trial and hearing of the action, inquiry or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any intervenor, may during the pendency thereof
order the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the evidence of guilt is strong.

Under the above-quoted provision, not only is a disqualification case against a candidate allowed to continue after the election (and does
not oust the COMELEC of its jurisdiction), but his obtaining the highest number of votes will not result in the suspension or termination of
the proceedings against him when the evidence of guilt is strong. While the phrase "when the evidence of guilt is strong" seems to suggest
that the provisions of Section 6 ought to be applicable only to disqualification cases under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, Section
7 of R.A. 6646 allows the application of the provisions of Section 6 to cases involving disqualification based on ineligibility under Section 78
of B.P. 881. Section 7 states:

Sec. 7. Petition to Deny Due Course or to Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy. The procedure hereinabove provided shall apply to petition to
deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy based on Sec. 78 of Batas Pambansa 881.

II

We agree with COMELEC's contention that in order that petitioner could qualify as a candidate for Representative of the Second District of
Makati City the latter "must prove that he has established not just residence but domicile of choice. 17

The Constitution requires that a person seeking election to the House of Representatives should be a resident of the district in which he
seeks election for a period of not less than one (l) year prior to the elections. 18 Residence, for election law purposes, has a settled meaning
in our jurisdiction.

In Co v. Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives 19 this Court held that the term "residence" has always been understood as
synonymous with "domicile" not only under the previous Constitutions but also under the 1987 Constitution. The Court there held: 20

The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission reveal that the meaning of residence vis-a-vis the qualifications of a candidate for
Congress continues to remain the same as that of domicile, to wit:

Mr. Nolledo: With respect to Section 5, I remember that in the 1971 Constitutional Convention, there was an attempt to require residence
in the place not less than one year immediately preceding the day of elections. So my question is: What is the Committee's concept of
domicile or constructive residence?

Mr. Davide: Madame President, insofar as the regular members of the National Assembly are concerned, the proposed section merely
provides, among others, and a resident thereof', that is, in the district, for a period of not less than one year preceding the day of the
election. This was in effect lifted from the 1973 Constitution, the interpretation given to it was domicile (emphasis ours) Records of the
1987 Constitutional Convention, Vol. II, July 22, 1986, p. 87).

xxx xxx xxx

Mrs. Rosario Braid: The next question is on section 7, page 2. I think Commissioner Nolledo has raised the same point that "resident" has
been interpreted at times as a matter of intention rather than actual residence.

Mr. De Los Reyes: Domicile.

Ms. Rosario Braid: Yes, So, would the gentlemen consider at the proper time to go back to actual residence rather than mere intention to
reside?

Mr. De los Reyes: But We might encounter some difficulty especially considering that the provision in the Constitution in the Article on
Suffrage says that Filipinos living abroad may vote as enacted by law. So, we have to stick to the original concept that it should be by
domicile and not physical and actual residence. (Records of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, Vol. II, July 22, 1986, p. 110).

The framers of the Constitution adhered to the earlier definition given to the word "residence" which regarded it as having the same
meaning as domicile.

Clearly, the place "where a party actually or constructively has his permanent home," 21 where he, no matter where he may be found at any
given time, eventually intends to return and remain, i.e., his domicile, is that to which the Constitution refers when it speaks of residence
for the purposes of election law. The manifest purpose of this deviation from the usual conceptions of residency in law as explained
in Gallego vs. Vera at 22 is "to exclude strangers or newcomers unfamiliar with the conditions and needs of the community" from taking
advantage of favorable circumstances existing in that community for electoral gain. While there is nothing wrong with the practice of
establishing residence in a given area for meeting election law requirements, this nonetheless defeats the essence of representation, which
is to place through the assent of voters those most cognizant and sensitive to the needs of a particular district, if a candidate falls short of
the period of residency mandated by law for him to qualify. That purpose could be obviously best met by individuals who have either had
actual residence in the area for a given period or who have been domiciled in the same area either by origin or by choice. It would,
therefore, be imperative for this Court to inquire into the threshold question as to whether or not petitioner actually was a resident for a
period of one year in the area now encompassed by the Second Legislative District of Makati at the time of his election or whether or not
he was domiciled in the same.

As found by the COMELEC en banc petitioner in his Certificate of Candidacy for the May 11, 1992 elections, indicated not only that he was
a resident of San Jose, Concepcion, Tarlac in 1992 but that he was a resident of the same for 52 years immediately preceding that
election. 23 At the time, his certificate indicated that he was also a registered voter of the same district. 24 His birth certificate places
Concepcion, Tarlac as the birthplace of both of his parents Benigno and Aurora. 25 Thus, from data furnished by petitioner himself to the
COMELEC at various times during his political career, what stands consistently clear and unassailable is that this domicile of origin of record
up to the time of filing of his most recent certificate of candidacy for the 1995 elections was Concepcion, Tarlac.
Petitioner's alleged connection with the Second District of Makati City is an alleged lease agreement of condominium unit in the area. As
the COMELEC, in its disputed Resolution noted:

The intention not to establish a permanent home in Makati City is evident in his leasing a condominium unit instead of buying one. While a
lease contract maybe indicative of respondent's intention to reside in Makati City it does not engender the kind of permanency required to
prove abandonment of one's original domicile especially since, by its terms, it is only for a period of two (2) years, and respondent Aquino
himself testified that his intention was really for only one (l) year because he has other "residences" in Manila or Quezon City. 26

While property ownership is not and should never be an indicia of the right to vote or to be voted upon, the fact that petitioner himself
claims that he has other residences in Metro Manila coupled with the short length of time he claims to be a resident of the condominium
unit in Makati (and the fact, of his stated domicile in Tarlac) "indicate that the sole purpose of (petitioner) in transferring his physical
residence" 27 is not to acquire's new residence or domicile "but only to qualify as a candidate for Representative of the Second District of
Makati City." 28 The absence of clear and positive proof showing a successful abandonment of domicile under the conditions stated above,
the lack of identification sentimental, actual or otherwise with the area, and the suspicious circumstances under which the lease
agreement was effected all belie petitioner's claim of residency for the period required by the Constitution, in the Second District of Makati.
As the COMELEC en banc emphatically pointed out:

[T]he lease agreement was executed mainly to support the one year residence requirement as a qualification for a candidate of
Representative, by establishing a commencement date of his residence. If a perfectly valid lease agreement cannot, by itself establish;
a domicile of choice, this particular lease agreement cannot do better. 29

Moreover, his assertion that he has transferred his domicile from Tarlac to Makati is a bare assertion which is hardly supported by the facts
in the case at bench. Domicile of origin is not easily lost. To successfully effect a change of domicile, petitioner must prove an actual
removal or an actual change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one and
definite acts which correspond with the purpose.30 These requirements are hardly met by the evidence adduced in support of petitioner's
claims of a change of domicile from Tarlac to the Second District of Makati. In the absence of clear and positive proof, the domicile of origin
be deemed to continue requirements are hardly met by the evidence adduced in support of petitioner's claims of a change of domicile from
Tarlac to the Second District of Makati. In the absence of clear and positive proof, the domicile of origin should be deemed to continue.

Finally, petitioner's submission that it would be legally impossible to impose the one year residency requirement in a newly created political
district is specious and lacks basis in logic. A new political district is not created out of thin air. It is carved out from part of a real and
existing geographic area, in this case the old Municipality of Makati. That people actually lived or were domiciled in the area encompassed
by the new Second District cannot be denied. Modern-day carpetbaggers cannot be allowed take advantage of the creation of new political
districts by suddenly transplanting themselves in such new districts, prejudicing their genuine residents in the process of taking advantage
of existing conditions in these areas. It will be noted, as COMELEC did in its assailed resolution, that petitioner was disqualified from running
in the Senate because of the constitutional two-term limit, and had to shop around for a place where he could run for public office. Nothing
wrong with that, but he must first prove with reasonable certainty that he has effected a change of residence for election law purposes for
the period required by law. This he has not effectively done.

III

The next issue here is whether or not the COMELEC erred in issuing it Order instructing the Board of Canvassers of Makati City to proclaim
as winner the candidate receiving the next higher number of votes. The answer must be in the negative.

To contend that Syjuco should be proclaimed because he was the "first" among the qualified candidates in the May 8, 1995 elections is to
misconstrue the nature of the democratic electoral process and the sociological and psychological underpinnings behind voters'
preferences. The result suggested by private respondent would lead not only to our reversing the doctrines firmly entrenched in the two
cases of Labo vs. Comelec 31 but also to a massive disenfranchisement of the thousands of voters who cast their vote in favor of a candidate
they believed could be validly voted for during the elections. Had petitioner been disqualified before the elections, the choice, moreover,
would have been different. The votes for Aquino given the acrimony which attended the campaign, would not have automatically gone to
second placer Syjuco. The nature of the playing field would have substantially changed. To simplistically assume that the second placer
would have received the other votes would be to substitute our judgment for the mind of the voter. The second placer is just that, a second
placer. He lost the elections. He was repudiated by either a majority or plurality of voters. He could not be considered the first among
qualified candidates because in a field which excludes the disqualified candidate, the conditions would have substantially changed. We are
not prepared to extrapolate the results under such circumstances.

In these cases, the pendulum of judicial opinion in our country has swung from one end to the other. In the early case of Topacio
v. Paredes. 32 we declared as valid, votes cast in favor of a disqualified, ineligilble or dead candidate provided the people who voted for such
candidate believed in good faith that at the time of the elections said candidate was either qualified, eligible or alive. The votes cast in favor
of a disqualified, ineligible or dead candidate who obtained the next higher number of votes cannot be proclaimed as winner. According to
this Court in the said case, "there is not, strictly speaking, a contest, that wreath of victory cannot be transferred from an ineligible
candidate to any other candidate when the sole question is the eligibility of the one receiving the plurality of the legally cast ballots."
Then in Ticson v. Comelec, 33 this Court held that votes cast in favor of a non-candidate in view of his unlawful change of party affiliation
(which was then a ground for disqualification) cannot be considered in the canvassing of election returns and the votes fall into the
category of invalid and nonexistent votes because a disqualified candidate is no candidate at all and is not a candidate in the eyes of the
law. As a result, this Court upheld the proclamation of the only candidate left in the disputed position.

In Geronimo v. Ramos 34 we reiterated our ruling in Topacio v. Paredes that the candidate who lost in an election cannot be proclaimed the
winner in the event the candidate who ran for the portion is ineligible. We held in Geronimo:

[I]t would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally guaranteed right to suffrage if a candidate who has not
acquired the majority or plurality of votes is proclaimed a winner and imposed as the representative of a constituency, the majority of
which have positively declared through their ballots that they do not choose him.

Sound policy dictates that public elective offices are filled by those who have received the highest number of votes cast in the election for
that office, and it is fundamental idea in all republican forms of government that no one can be declared elected and no measure can be
declared carried unless he or it receives a majority or plurality of the legal votes cast in the elections. (20 Corpus Juris 2nd, S 243, p. 676.)

However, in Santos v. Comelec 35 we made a turnabout from our previous ruling in Geronimo v. Ramos and pronounced that "votes cast for
a disqualified candidate fall within the category of invalid or non-existent votes because a disqualified candidate is no candidate at all in the
eyes of the law," reverting to our earlier ruling in Ticson v. Comelec.

In the more recent cases of Labo, Jr. v. Comelec 36 Abella v. Comelec; 37 and Benito v. Comelec, 38 this Court reiterated and upheld the ruling
in Topacio v. Paredes and Geronimo v. Ramos to the effect that the ineligibility of a candidate receiving the next higher number of votes to
be declared elected, and that a minority or defeated candidate cannot be declared elected to the office. In these cases, we put emphasis on
our pronouncement in Geronimo v. Ramos that:

The fact that a candidate who obtained the highest number of votes is later declared to be disqualified or not eligible for the office to which
he was elected does not necessarily entitle the candidate who obtained the second highest number of votes to be declared the winner of
the elective office. The votes cast for a dead, disqualified, or non-eligible person may be valid to vote the winner into office or maintain him
there. However, in the absence of a statute which clearly asserts a contrary political and legislative policy on the matter, if the votes were
cast in sincere belief that candidate was alive, qualified, or eligible; they should not be treated as stray, void or meaningless.

Synthesizing these rulings we declared in the latest case of Labo, Jr. v. COMELEC that: 39

While Ortega may have garnered the second highest number of votes for the office of city mayor, the fact remains that he was not the
choice of the sovereign will. Petitioner Labo was overwhelmingly voted by the electorate for the office of mayor in the belief that he was
then qualified to serve the people of Baguio City and his subsequent disqualification does not make respondent Ortega the mayor-elect.
This is the import of the recent case of Abella v. Comelec (201 SCRA 253 [1991]), wherein we held that:

While it is true that SPC No. 88-546 was originally a petition to deny due course to the certificate of candidacy of Larrazabal and was filed
before Larrazabal could be proclaimed the fact remains that the local elections of Feb. 1, 1988 in the province of Leyte proceeded with
Larrazabal considered as a bona fide candidate. The voters of the province voted for her in the sincere belief that she was a qualified
candidate for the position of governor.Her votes was counted and she obtained the highest number of votes. The net effect is that petitioner
lost in the election. He was repudiated by the electorate. . . What matters is that in the event a candidate for an elected position who is
voted for and who obtains the highest number of votes is disqualified for not possessing the eligibility, requirements at the time of the
election as provided by law, the candidate who obtains the second highest number of votes for the same position cannot assume the
vacated position. (Emphasis supplied).

Our ruling in Abella applies squarely to the case at bar and we see no compelling reason to depart therefrom. Like Abella, petitioner Ortega
lost in the election. He was repudiated by the electorate. He was obviously not the choice of the people of Baguio City.

Thus, while respondent Ortega (G.R. No. 105111) originally filed a disqualification case with the Comelec (docketed as SPA-92-029) seeking
to deny due course to petitioner's (Labo's) candidacy, the same did not deter the people of Baguio City from voting for petitioner Labo,
who, by then, was allowed by the respondent Comelec to be voted upon, the resolution for his disqualification having yet to attain the
degree of finality (Sec. 78, Omnibus Election Code).

And in the earlier case of Labo v. Comelec. (supra), We held:

Finally, there is the question of whether or not the private respondent, who filed the quo warranto petition, can replace the petitioner as
mayor. He cannot. The simple reason is that as he obtained only the second highest number of votes in the election, he was obviously not
the choice of the people of Baguio City.

The latest ruling of the Court in this issue is Santos v. Commission on Election, (137 SCRA 740) decided in 1985. In that case, the candidate
who placed second was proclaimed elected after the votes for his winning rival, who was disqualified as a turncoat and considered a non-
candidate, were all disregarded as stray. In effect, the second placer won by default. That decision was supported by eight members of the
Court then (Cuevas J., ponente, with Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Escolin, Relova, De la Fuente, Alampay, and Aquino, JJ., concurring) with
three dissenting (Teehankee, acting C.J., Abad Santos and Melencio-Herrera) and another two reserving their votes (Plana and Gutierrez,
Jr.). One was on official leave (Fernando, C.J.)

Re-examining that decision, the Court finds, and so holds, that it should be reversed in favor of the earlier case of Geronimo v. Santos (136
SCRA 435), which represents the more logical and democratic rule. That case, which reiterated the doctrine first announced in 1912
in Topacio vs. Paredes (23 Phil. 238) was supported by ten members of the Court. . . .

The rule, therefore, is: the ineligibility of a candidate receiving majority votes does not entitle the eligible candidate receiving the next
highest number of votes to be declared elected. A minority or defeated candidate cannot be deemed elected to the office.

Indeed, this has been the rule in the United States since 1849 (State ex rel. Dunning v. Giles, 52 Am. Dec. 149).

It is therefore incorrect to argue that since a candidate has been disqualified, the votes intended for the disqualified candidate should, in
effect, be considered null and void. This would amount to disenfranchising the electorate in whom, sovereignty resides. At the risk of being
repetitious, the people of Baguio City opted to elect petitioner Labo bona fide without any intention to missapply their franchise, and in the
honest belief that Labo was then qualified to be the person to whom they would entrust the exercise of the powers of the government.
Unfortunately, petitioner Labo turned out to be disqualified and cannot assume the office.

Whether or not the candidate whom the majority voted for can or cannot be installed, under no circumstances can a minority or defeated
candidate be deemed elected to the office. Surely, the 12,602 votes cast for petitioner Ortega is not a larger number than the 27,471 votes
cast for petitioner Labo (as certified by the Election Registrar of Baguio City; rollo, p. 109; G.R. No. 105111).

This, it bears repeating, expresses the more logical and democratic view. We cannot, in another shift of the pendulum, subscribe to the
contention that the runner-up in an election in which the winner has been disqualified is actually the winner among the remaining qualified
candidates because this clearly represents a minority view supported only by a scattered number of obscure American state and English
court decisions. 40 These decisions neglect the possibility that the runner-up, though obviously qualified, could receive votes so measly and
insignificant in number that the votes they receive would be tantamount to rejection. Theoretically, the "second placer" could receive just
one vote. In such a case, it is absurd to proclaim the totally repudiated candidate as the voters' "choice." Moreover, even in instances
where the votes received by the second placer may not be considered numerically insignificant, voters preferences are nonetheless so
volatile and unpredictable that the result among qualified candidates, should the equation change because of the disqualification of an
ineligible candidate, would not be self-evident. Absence of the apparent though ineligible winner among the choices could lead to a shifting
of votes to candidates other than the second placer. By any mathematical formulation, the runner-up in an election cannot be construed to
have obtained a majority or plurality of votes cast where an "ineligible" candidate has garnered either a majority or plurality of the votes.

In fine, we are left with no choice but to affirm the COMELEC's conclusion declaring herein petitioner ineligible for the elective position of
Representative of Makati City's Second District on the basis of respondent commission's finding that petitioner lacks the one year residence
in the district mandated by the 1987 Constitution. A democratic government is necessarily a government of laws. In a republican
government those laws are themselves ordained by the people. Through their representatives, they dictate the qualifications necessary for
service in government positions. And as petitioner clearly lacks one of the essential qualifications for running for membership in the House
of Representatives, not even the will of a majority or plurality of the voters of the Second District of Makati City would substitute for a
requirement mandated by the fundamental law itself.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Our Order restraining respondent COMELEC from proclaiming
the candidate garnering the next highest number of votes in the congressional elections for the Second District of Makati City is made
PERMANENT.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 203766 April 2, 2013

ATONG PAGLAUM, INC., represented by its President, Mr. Alan Igot, Petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondent.

PERLAS-BERNABE,*

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Cases

These cases constitute 54 Petitions for Certiorari and Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition1 filed by 52 party-list groups and organizations
assailing the Resolutions issued by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) disqualifying them from participating in the 13 May 2013 party-
list elections, either by denial of their petitions for registration under the party-list system, or cancellation of their registration and
accreditation as party-list organizations.
This Court resolved to consolidate the 54 petitions in the Resolutions dated 13 November 2012, 2 20 November 2012,3 27 November
2012,4 4 December 2012,5 11 December 2012,6 and 19 February 2013.7

The Facts Pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 7941 (R.A. No. 7941) and COMELEC Resolution Nos. 9366 and 9531, approximately
280 groups and organizations registered and manifested their desire to participate in the 13 May 2013 party-list elections.

G.R. SPP No. Group Grounds for Denial


No.

A. Via the COMELEC En Bancs automatic review of the COMELEC


Divisions resolutions approving registration of groups/organizations

Resolution dated 23 November 20128

1 204379 12-099 Alagad ng - The "artists" sector is not


(PLM) Sining (ASIN) considered marginalized and
underrepresented;
- Failure to prove track
record; and
- Failure of the nominees to
qualify under RA 7941 and
Ang Bagong Bayani.

Omnibus Resolution dated 27 November 20129

2 204455 12-041 Manila Teachers - A non-stock savings and


(PLM) Savings and loan association cannot be
Loan considered marginalized and
Association, Inc. underrepresented; and
(Manila - The first and second
Teachers) nominees are not teachers by
profession.

3 204426 12-011 Association of - Failure to show that its


(PLM) Local Athletics members belong to the
Entrepreneurs marginalized; and
and Hobbyists, - Failure of the nominees to
Inc. (ALA-EH) qualify.

Resolution dated 27 November 201210

4 204435 12-057 1 Alliance - Failure of the nominees to


(PLM) Advocating qualify: although registering
Autonomy Party as a regional political party,
(1AAAP) two of the nominees are not
residents of the region; and
four of the five nominees do
not belong to the
marginalized and
underrepresented.

Resolution dated 27 November 201211

5 204367 12-104 Akbay - Failure of the group to show


(PL) Kalusugan that its nominees belong to
(AKIN), Inc. the urban poor sector.

Resolution dated 29 November 201212


6 204370 12-011 Ako An Bisaya - Failure to represent a
(PP) (AAB) marginalized sector of
society, despite the formation
of a sectoral wing for the
benefit of farmers of Region
8;
- Constituency has district
representatives;
- Lack of track record in
representing peasants and
farmers; and
- Nominees are neither
farmers nor peasants.

Resolution dated 4 December 201213

7 204436 12-009 Abyan Ilonggo - Failure to show that the


(PP), Party (AI) party represents a
12-165 marginalized and
(PLM) underrepresented sector, as
the Province of Iloilo has
district representatives;
- Untruthful statements in the
memorandum; and
- Withdrawal of three of its
five nominees.

Resolution dated 4 December 201214

8 204485 12-175 Alliance of - Failure to establish that the


(PL) Organizations, group can represent 14
Networks and sectors; - The sectors of
Associations of homeowners
the Philippines, associations, entrepreneurs
Inc. (ALONA) and cooperatives are not
marginalized and
underrepresented; and
- The nominees do not belong
to the marginalized and
underrepresented.

B. Via the COMELEC En Bancs review on motion for reconsideration


of the COMELEC Divisions resolutions denying registration of groups
and organizations

Resolution dated 7 November 201215

9 204139 12-127 Alab ng - Failure to prove track


(PL) Mamamahayag record as an organization;
(ALAM) - Failure to show that the
group actually represents the
marginalized and
underrepresented; and
- Failure to establish that the
group can represent all
sectors it seeks to represent.

Resolution dated 7 November 201216


10 204402 12-061 Kalikasan Party-List - The group reflects an
(PP) (KALIKASAN) advocacy for the
environment, and is not
representative of the
marginalized and
underrepresented;
- There is no proof that
majority of its members
belong to the marginalized
and underrepresented;
- The group represents
sectors with conflicting
interests; and
- The nominees do not belong
to the sector which the group
claims to represent.

Resolution dated 14 November 201217

11 204394 12-145 Association of - Failure to prove


(PL) Guard, Utility membership base and track
Helper, Aider, record;
Rider, Driver/ - Failure to present activities
Domestic that sufficiently benefited its
Helper, intended constituency; and
Janitor, Agent - The nominees do not belong
and to any of the sectors which
Nanny of the the group seeks to represent.
Philippines, Inc.
(GUARDJAN)

Resolution dated 5 December 201218

12 204490 12-073 Pilipinas Para sa - Failure to show that the


(PLM) Pinoy (PPP) group represents a
marginalized and
underrepresented sector, as
Region 12 has district
representatives; and
- Failure to show a track
record of undertaking
programs for the welfare of
the sector the group seeks to
represent.

In a Resolution dated 5 December 2012,19 the COMELEC En Banc affirmed the COMELEC Second Divisions resolution to grant Partido ng
Bayan ng Bidas (PBB) registration and accreditation as a political party in the National Capital Region. However, PBB was denied
participation in the 13 May 2013 party-list elections because PBB does not represent any "marginalized and underrepresented" sector; PBB
failed to apply for registration as a party-list group; and PBB failed to establish its track record as an organization that seeks to uplift the
lives of the "marginalized and underrepresented." 20
These 13 petitioners (ASIN, Manila Teachers, ALA-EH, 1AAAP, AKIN, AAB, AI, ALONA, ALAM, KALIKASAN, GUARDJAN, PPP, and PBB) were
not able to secure a mandatory injunction from this Court. The COMELEC, on 7 January 2013 issued Resolution No. 9604,21 and excluded
the names of these 13 petitioners in the printing of the official ballot for the 13 May 2013 party-list elections.
Pursuant to paragraph 222 of Resolution No. 9513, the COMELEC En Banc scheduled summary evidentiary hearings to determine whether
the groups and organizations that filed manifestations of intent to participate in the 13 May 2013 party-list elections have continually
complied with the requirements of R.A. No. 7941 and Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. COMELEC23 (Ang Bagong Bayani). The
COMELEC disqualified the following groups and organizations from participating in the 13 May 2013 party-list elections:

G.R. No. SPP Group Grounds for Denial


No.
Resolution dated 10 October 201224

1 203818- 12-154 AKO Bicol Retained registration and


19 (PLM) Political Party accreditation as a political
12-177 (AKB) party, but denied participation
(PLM) in the May 2013 party-list
elections
- Failure to represent any
marginalized and
underrepresented sector;
- The Bicol region already
has representatives in
Congress; and
- The nominees are not
marginalized and
underrepresented.

Omnibus Resolution dated 11 October 201225

2 203766 12-161 Atong Paglaum, Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Inc. (Atong accreditation
Paglaum) - The nominees do not belong
to the sectors which the party
represents; and
- The party failed to file its
Statement of Contributions
and Expenditures for the
2010 Elections.

3 203981 12-187 Association for Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Righteousness accreditation
Advocacy on - Failure to comply, and for
Leadership violation of election laws;
(ARAL) - The nominees do not
represent the sectors which
the party represents; and
- There is doubt that the party
is organized for religious
purposes.

4 204002 12-188 Alliance for Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Rural Concerns accreditation
(ARC) - Failure of the nominees to
qualify; and
- Failure of the party to prove
that majority of its members
belong to the sectors it seeks
to represent.

5 204318 12-220 United Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Movement accreditation
Against Drugs - The sectors of drug
Foundation counsellors and lecturers,
(UNIMAD) veterans and the youth, are
not marginalized and
underrepresented;
- Failure to establish track
record; and
- Failure of the nominees to
qualify as representatives of
the youth and young urban
professionals.

Omnibus Resolution dated 16 October 201226

6 204100 12-196 1-Bro Philippine Cancelled registration


(PLM) Guardians - Failure to define the sector
Brotherhood, it seeks to represent; and
Inc. (1BRO-PGBI) - The nominees do not belong
to a marginalized and
underrepresented sector.

7 204122 12-223 1 Guardians Cancelled registration


(PLM) Nationalist - The party is a military
Philippines, Inc. fraternity;
(1GANAP/ - The sector of community
GUARDIANS) volunteer workers is too
broad to allow for meaningful
representation; and
- The nominees do not appear
to belong to the sector of
community volunteer
workers.

8 20426 12-257 Blessed Cancelled registration


(PLM) Federation of - Three of the seven
Farmers and nominees do not belong to
Fishermen the sector of farmers and
International, fishermen, the sector sought
Inc. (A to be represented; and
BLESSED - None of the nominees are
Party-List) registered voters of Region
XI, the region sought to be
represented.

Resolution dated 16 October 201227

9 203960 12-260 1st Cancelled registration


(PLM) Consumers - The sector of rural energy
Alliance for consumers is not
Rural Energy, marginalized and
Inc. (1-CARE) underrepresented;
- The partys track record is
related to electric
cooperatives and not rural
energy consumers; and
- The nominees do not belong
to the sector of rural energy
consumers.

Resolution dated 16 October 201228

10 203922 12-201 Association of Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Philippine accreditation
Electric - Failure to represent a
Cooperatives marginalized and
(APEC) underrepresented sector; and
- The nominees do not belong
to the sector that the party
claims to represent.

Resolution dated 23 October 201229

11 204174 12-232 Aangat Tayo Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Party-List Party accreditation
( AT ) - The incumbent
representative in Congress
failed to author or sponsor
bills that are beneficial to the
sectors that the party
represents (women, elderly,
youth, urban poor); and
- The nominees do not belong
to the marginalized sectors
that the party seeks to
represent.

Omnibus Resolution dated 24 October 201230

12 203976 12-288 Alliance for Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Rural and accreditation
Agrarian - The interests of the peasant
Reconstruction, and urban poor sectors that
Inc. (ARARO) the party represents differ;
- The nominees do not belong
to the sectors that the party
seeks to represent;
- Failure to show that three of
the nominees are bona fide
party members; and
- Lack of a Board resolution
to participate in the party-list
elections.

Omnibus Resolution dated 24 October 201231

13 204240 12-279 Agri-Agra na Cancelled registration


(PLM) Reporma Para sa - The party ceased to exist for
Magsasaka ng more than a year immediately
Pilipinas after the May 2010 elections;
Movement - The nominees do not belong
(AGRI) to the sector of peasants and
farmers that the party seeks to
represent;
- Only four nominees were
submitted to the COMELEC;
and
- Failure to show meaningful
activities for its constituency.

14 203936 12-248 Aksyon Cancelled registration


(PLM) Magsasaka-Partido - Failure to show that
Tinig ng majority of its members are
Masa (AKMA-PTM) marginalized and
underrepresented;
- Failure to prove that four of
its nine nominees actually
belong to the farmers sector;
and
- Failure to show that five of
its nine nominees work on
uplifting the lives of the
members of the sector.

15 204126 12-263 Kaagapay ng Cancelled registration


(PLM) Nagkakaisang - The Manifestation of Intent
Agilang and Certificate of Nomination
Pilipinong were not signed by an
Magsasaka appropriate officer of the
(KAP) party;
- Failure to show track record
for the farmers and peasants
sector; and
- Failure to show that
nominees actually belong to
the sector, or that they have
undertaken meaningful
activities for the sector.

16 204364 12-180 Adhikain at Cancelled registration


(PLM) Kilusan ng - Failure to show that
Ordinaryong nominees actually belong to
Tao Para sa the sector, or that they have
Lupa, Pabahay, undertaken meaningful
Hanapbuhay at activities for the sector.
Kaunlaran
(AKO-BAHAY)

17 204141 12-229 The True Cancelled registration


(PLM) Marcos Loyalist - Failure to show that
(for God, majority of its members are
Country and marginalized and
People) underrepresented; and
Association of - Failure to prove that two of
the Philippines, its nominees actually belong
Inc. (BANTAY) to the marginalized and
underrepresented.

18 204408 12-217 Pilipino Cancelled registration


(PLM) Association for - Change of sector (from
Country Urban urban poor youth to urban
Poor Youth poor) necessitates a new
Advancement application;
and Welfare - Failure to show track record
( PA C YAW ) for the marginalized and
underrepresented;
- Failure to prove that
majority of its members and
officers are from the urban
poor sector; and
- The nominees are not
members of the urban poor
sector.

19 204153 12-277 Pasang Masda Cancelled registration


(PLM) Nationwide - The party represents drivers
Party (PASANG and operators, who may have
MASDA) conflicting interests; and
- Nominees are either
operators or former operators.

20 203958 12-015 Kapatiran ng Cancelled registration


(PLM) mga Nakulong - Failure to prove that
na Walang Sala, na Walang Sala,
Inc. (KAKUSA) Inc. (KAKUSA)
majority of its officers and
members belong to the
marginalized and
underrepresented;
- The incumbent
representative in Congress
failed to author or sponsor
bills that are beneficial to the
sector that the party
represents (persons
imprisoned without proof of
guilt beyond reasonable
doubt);
- Failure to show track record
for the marginalized and
underrepresented; and
- The nominees did not
appear to be marginalized and
underrepresented.

Resolution dated 30 October 201232

21 204428 12-256 Ang Galing Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Pinoy (AG) accreditation
- Failure to attend the
summary hearing;
- Failure to show track record
for the marginalized and
underrepresented; and
- The nominees did not
appear to be marginalized and
underrepresented.

Resolution dated 7 November 201233

22 204094 12-185 Alliance for Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Nationalism and accreditation
Democracy - Failure to represent an
(ANAD) identifiable marginalized and
underrepresented sector;
- Only three nominees were
submitted to the COMELEC;
- The nominees do not
belong to the marginalized
and underrepresented; and
- Failure to submit its
Statement of Contribution
and Expenditures for the
2007 Elections.

Omnibus Resolution dated 7 November 201234

23 204239 12-060 Green Force for Cancelled registration and


the Environment accreditation
(PLM) Sons and - The party is an advocacy
Daughters of group and does not represent
Mother Earth the marginalized and
(GREENFORCE) underrepresented;
- Failure to comply with the
track record requirement; and
- The nominees are not
marginalized citizens.

24 204236 12-254 Firm 24-K Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Association, Inc. accreditation
(FIRM 24-K) - The nominees do not
belong to the sector that the
party seeks to represent
(urban poor and peasants of
the National Capital Region);
- Only two of its nominees
reside in the National Capital
Region; and
- Failure to comply with the
track record requirement.

25 204341 12-269 Action League Cancelled registration and


(PLM) of Indigenous accreditation
Masses (ALIM) - Failure to establish that its
nominees are members of the
indigenous people in the
Mindanao and Cordilleras
sector that the party seeks to
represent;
- Only two of the partys
nominees reside in the
Mindanao and Cordilleras;
and
- Three of the nominees do
not appear to belong to the
marginalized.

Resolution dated 7 November 201235

26 204358 12-204 Alliance of Cancelled registration


(PLM) Advocates in - The sector it represents is a
Mining specifically defined group
Advancement which may not be allowed
for National registration under the party-list
Progress system; and
(AAMA) - Failure to establish that the
nominees actually belong to
the sector.

Resolution dated 7 November 201236

27 204359 12-272 Social Cancelled registration


(PLM) Movement for - The nominees are
Active Reform disqualified from
and representing the sectors that
Transparency the party represents;
(SMART) - Failure to comply with the
track record requirement; and
- There is doubt as to whether
majority of its members are
marginalized and
underrepresented.

Resolution dated 7 November 201237

28 204238 12-173 Alliance of Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Bicolnon Party accreditation
(ABP) - Defective registration and
accreditation dating back to
2010;
- Failure to represent any
sector; and
- Failure to establish that the
nominees are employed in the
construction industry, the
sector it claims to represent.

Resolution dated 7 November 201238

29 204323 12-210 Bayani Party Cancelled registration and


(PLM) List (BAYANI) accreditation
- Failure to prove a track
record of trying to uplift the
marginalized and
underrepresented sector of
professionals; and
- One nominee was declared
unqualified to represent the
sector of professionals.

Resolution dated 7 November 201239

30 204321 12-252 Ang Agrikultura Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Natin Isulong accreditation
(AANI) - Failure to establish a track
record of enhancing the lives
of the marginalized and
underrepresented farmers
which it claims to represent;
and
- More than a majority of the
partys nominees do not
belong to the farmers sector.

Resolution dated 7 November 201240

31 204125 12-292 Agapay ng Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Indigenous accreditation
Peoples Rights - Failure to prove that its five
Alliance, Inc. nominees are members of the
(A-IPRA) indigenous people sector;
- Failure to prove that its five
nominees actively
participated in the
undertakings of the party; and
- Failure to prove that its five nominees
are bona fide
members.
Resolution dated 7 November 201241

32 204216 12-202 Philippine Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Coconut accreditation
Producers - The party is affiliated with
Federation, Inc. private and government
(COCOFED) agencies and is not
marginalized;
- The party is assisted by the
government in various
projects; and
- The nominees are not
members of the marginalized
sector of coconut farmers and
producers.

Resolution dated 7 November 201242

33 204220 12-238 Abang Lingkod Cancelled registration


(PLM) Party-List - Failure to establish a track
(ABANG record of continuously
LINGKOD) representing the peasant
farmers sector;
- Failure to show that its
members actually belong to
the peasant farmers sector;
and
- Failure to show that its
nominees are marginalized
and underrepresented, have
actively participated in
programs for the
advancement of farmers, and
adhere to its advocacies.

Resolution dated 14 November 201243

34 204158 12-158 Action Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Brotherhood for accreditation - Failure to show that the
Active party is actually able to
Dreamers, Inc. represent all of the sectors it
(ABROAD) claims to represent;
- Failure to show a complete
track record of its activities
since its registration; and
- The nominees are not part
of any of the sectors which
the party seeks to represent.

Resolution dated 28 November 201244

35 204374 12-228 Binhi-Partido ng Cancelled registration and


(PLM) mga Magsasaka accreditation
Para sa mga - The party receives
Magsasaka assistance from the
(BINHI) government through the
Department of Agriculture;
and
- Failure to prove that the
group is marginalized and
underrepresented.

Resolution dated 28 November 201245

36 204356 12-136 Butil Farmers Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Party (BUTIL) accreditation
- Failure to establish that the
agriculture and cooperative
sectors are marginalized and
underrepresented; and
- The partys nominees
neither appear to belong to
the sectors they seek to
represent, nor to have
actively participated in the
undertakings of the party.

Resolution dated 3 December 201246

37 204486 12-194 1st Cancelled registration and


(PLM) Kabalikat ng accreditation
Bayan - Declaration of untruthful
Ginhawang statements;
Sangkatauhan - Failure to exist for at least
(1st one year; and
KABAGIS) - None of its nominees
belong to the labor,
fisherfolk, and urban poor
indigenous cultural
communities sectors which it
seeks to represent.

Resolution dated 4 December 201247

38 204410 12-198 1-United Cancelled accreditation


(PLM) Transport - The party represents drivers
Koalisyon (1-UTAK) and operators, who may have
conflicting interests; and
- The partys nominees do not
belong to any marginalized
and underrepresented sector.

Resolution dated 4 December 201248

39 204421, 12-157 Coalition of Cancelled registration


204425 (PLM), Senior Citizens - The party violated election
12-191 in the laws because its nominees
(PLM) Philippines, Inc. had a term-sharing
(SENIOR agreement.
CITIZENS)

These 39 petitioners (AKB, Atong Paglaum, ARAL, ARC, UNIMAD, 1BRO-PGBI, 1GANAP/GUARDIANS, A BLESSED Party-List, 1-CARE, APEC, AT,
ARARO, AGRI, AKMA-PTM, KAP, AKO-BAHAY, BANTAY, PACYAW, PASANG MASDA, KAKUSA, AG, ANAD, GREENFORCE, FIRM 24-K, ALIM,
AAMA, SMART, ABP, BAYANI, AANI, A-IPRA, COCOFED, ABANG LINGKOD, ABROAD, BINHI, BUTIL, 1st KABAGIS, 1-UTAK, SENIOR CITIZENS)
were able to secure a mandatory injunction from this Court, directing the COMELEC to include the names of these 39 petitioners in the
printing of the official ballot for the 13 May 2013 party-list elections.
Petitioners prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. This Court issued Status Quo
Ante Orders in all petitions. This Decision governs only the 54 consolidated petitions that were granted Status Quo Ante Orders, namely:
G.R. No. SPP No. Group

Resolution dated 13 November 2012

203818-19 12-154 AKO Bicol Political Party (AKB)


(PLM)
12-177
(PLM)

203981 12-187 Association for Righteousness Advocacy on


(PLM) Leadership (ARAL)

204002 12-188 Alliance for Rural Concerns (ARC)


(PLM)

203922 12-201 Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives


(PLM) (APEC)

203960 12-260 1st


(PLM) Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy, Inc.
(1-CARE)

203936 12-248 Aksyon Magsasaka-Partido Tinig ng Masa


(PLM) (AKMA-PTM)

203958 12-015 Kapatiran ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala,


(PLM) Inc. (KAKUSA)

203976 12-288 Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction,


(PLM) Inc. (ARARO)

Resolution dated 20 November 2012

204094 12-185 Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy


(PLM) (ANAD)

204125 12-292 Agapay ng Indigenous Peoples Rights Alliance,


(PLM) Inc. (A-IPRA)

204100 12-196 1-Bro Philippine Guardians Brotherhood, Inc.


(PLM) (1BRO-PGBI)

Resolution dated 27 November 2012

204141 12-229 The True Marcos Loyalist (for God, Country


(PLM) and People) Association of the Philippines, Inc.
(BANTAY)

204240 12-279 Agri-Agra na Reporma Para sa Magsasaka ng


(PLM) Pilipinas Movement (AGRI)

204216 12-202 Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, Inc.


(PLM) (COCOFED)

204158 12-158 Action Brotherhood for Active Dreamer, Inc.


(PLM) (ABROAD)
Resolutions dated 4 December 2012

204122 12-223 1 Guardians Nationalist Philippines, Inc.


(PLM) (1GANAP/GUARDIANS)

203766 12-161 Atong Paglaum, Inc. (Atong Paglaum)


(PLM)

204318 12-220 United Movement Against Drugs Foundation


(PLM) (UNIMAD)

204263 12-257 Blessed Federation of Farmers and Fishermen


(PLM) International, Inc. (A BLESSED Party-List)

204174 12-232 Aangat Tayo Party-List Party (AT)


(PLM)

204126 12-263 Kaagapay ng Nagkakaisang Agilang Pilipinong


(PLM) Magsasaka (KAP)

204364 12-180 Adhikain at Kilusan ng Ordinaryong Tao Para sa


(PLM) Lupa, Pabahay, Hanapbuhay at Kaunlaran
(AKO-BAHAY)

204139 12-127 (PL) Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM)

204220 12-238 Abang Lingkod Party-List (ABANG


(PLM) LINGKOD)

204236 12-254 Firm 24-K Association, Inc. (FIRM 24-K)


(PLM)

204238 12-173 Alliance of Bicolnon Party (ABP)


(PLM)

204239 12-060 Green Force for the Environment Sons and


(PLM) Daughters of Mother Earth (GREENFORCE)

204321 12-252 Ang Agrikultura Natin Isulong (AANI)


(PLM)

204323 12-210 Bayani Party List (BAYANI)


(PLM)

204341 12-269 Action League of Indigenous Masses (ALIM)


(PLM)

204358 12-204 Alliance of Advocates in Mining Advancement


(PLM) for National Progress (AAMA)

204359 12-272 Social Movement for Active Reform and


(PLM) Transparency (SMART)

204356 12-136 Butil Farmers Party (BUTIL)


(PLM)

Resolution dated 11 December 2012


204402 12-061 (PL) Kalikasan Party-List (KALIKASAN)

204394 12-145 (PL) Association of Guard, Utility Helper, Aider,


Rider, Driver/Domestic Helper, Janitor, Agent
and Nanny of the Philippines, Inc.
(GUARDJAN)

204408 12-217 Pilipino Association for Country Urban Poor


(PLM) Youth Advancement and Welfare (PACYAW)

204428 12-256 Ang Galing Pinoy (AG)


(PLM)

204490 12-073 Pilipinas Para sa Pinoy (PPP)


(PLM)

204379 12-099 Alagad ng Sining (ASIN)


(PLM)

204367 12-104 (PL) Akbay Kalusugan (AKIN)

204426 12-011 Association of Local Athletics Entrepreneurs


(PLM) and Hobbyists, Inc. (ALA-EH)

204455 12-041 Manila Teachers Savings and Loan Association,


(PLM) Inc. (Manila Teachers)

204374 12-228 Binhi-Partido ng mga Magsasaka Para sa mga


(PLM) Magsasaka (BINHI)

204370 12-011 (PP) Ako An Bisaya (AAB)

204435 12-057 1 Alliance Advocating Autonomy Party


(PLM) (1AAAP)

204486 12-194 1st Kabalikat ng Bayan Ginhawang


(PLM) Sangkatauhan (1st KABAGIS)

204410 12-198 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK)


(PLM)

204421, 12-157 Coalition of Senior Citizens in the Philippines,


204425 (PLM) Inc. (SENIOR CITIZENS)
12-191
(PLM)

204436 12-009 (PP), Abyan Ilonggo Party (AI)


12-165
(PLM)

204485 12-175 (PL) Alliance of Organizations, Networks and


Associations of the Philippines, Inc. (ALONA)

204484 11-002 Partido ng Bayan ng Bida (PBB)

Resolution dated 11 December 2012


204153 12-277 Pasang Masda Nationwide Party (PASANG
(PLM) MASDA)

The Issues

We rule upon two issues: first, whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in
disqualifying petitioners from participating in the 13 May 2013 party-list elections, either by denial of their new petitions for registration
under the party-list system, or by cancellation of their existing registration and accreditation as party-list organizations; and second,
whether the criteria for participating in the party-list system laid down in Ang Bagong Bayani and Barangay Association for National
Advancement and Transparency v. Commission on Elections49 (BANAT) should be applied by the COMELEC in the coming 13 May 2013 party-
list elections.

The Courts Ruling

We hold that the COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in following prevailing decisions of this Court in disqualifying
petitioners from participating in the coming 13 May 2013 party-list elections. However, since the Court adopts in this Decision new
parameters in the qualification of national, regional, and sectoral parties under the party-list system, thereby abandoning the rulings in the
decisions applied by the COMELEC in disqualifying petitioners, we remand to the COMELEC all the present petitions for the COMELEC to
determine who are qualified to register under the party-list system, and to participate in the coming 13 May 2013 party-list elections, under
the new parameters prescribed in this Decision.

The Party-List System

The 1987 Constitution provides the basis for the party-list system of representation. Simply put, the party-list system is intended to
democratize political power by giving political parties that cannot win in legislative district elections a chance to win seats in the House of
Representatives.50 The voter elects two representatives in the House of Representatives: one for his or her legislative district, and another
for his or her party-list group or organization of choice. The 1987 Constitution provides:

Section 5, Article VI

(1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who
shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the
number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be
elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.

(2) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party
list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall
be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth,
and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.

Sections 7 and 8, Article IX-C

Sec. 7. No votes cast in favor of a political party, organization, or coalition shall be valid, except for those registered under the party-list
system as provided in this Constitution.

Sec. 8. Political parties, or organizations or coalitions registered under the party-list system, shall not be represented in the voters
registration boards, boards of election inspectors, boards of canvassers, or other similar bodies. However, they shall be entitled to appoint
poll watchers in accordance with law.

Commissioner Christian S. Monsod, the main sponsor of the party-list system, stressed that "the party-list system is not synonymous with
that of the sectoral representation."51 The constitutional provisions on the party-list system should be read in light of the following
discussion among its framers:

MR. MONSOD: x x x.

I would like to make a distinction from the beginning that the proposal for the party list system is not synonymous with that of the sectoral
representation. Precisely, the party list system seeks to avoid the dilemma of choice of sectors and who constitute the members of the
sectors. In making the proposal on the party list system, we were made aware of the problems precisely cited by Commissioner Bacani of
which sectors will have reserved seats. In effect, a sectoral representation in the Assembly would mean that certain sectors would have
reserved seats; that they will choose among themselves who would sit in those reserved seats. And then, we have the problem of which
sector because as we will notice in Proclamation No. 9, the sectors cited were the farmers, fishermen, workers, students, professionals,
business, military, academic, ethnic and other similar groups. So these are the nine sectors that were identified here as "sectoral
representatives" to be represented in this Commission. The problem we had in trying to approach sectoral representation in the Assembly
was whether to stop at these nine sectors or include other sectors. And we went through the exercise in a caucus of which sector should be
included which went up to 14 sectors. And as we all know, the longer we make our enumeration, the more limiting the law become
because when we make an enumeration we exclude those who are not in the enumeration. Second, we had the problem of who comprise
the farmers. Let us just say the farmers and the laborers. These days, there are many citizens who are called "hyphenated citizens." A
doctor may be a farmer; a lawyer may also be a farmer. And so, it is up to the discretion of the person to say "I am a farmer" so he would be
included in that sector.

The third problem is that when we go into a reserved seat system of sectoral representation in the Assembly, we are, in effect, giving some
people two votes and other people one vote. We sought to avoid these problems by presenting a party list system. Under the party list
system, there are no reserved seats for sectors. Let us say, laborers and farmers can form a sectoral party or a sectoral organization that
will then register and present candidates of their party. How do the mechanics go? Essentially, under the party list system, every voter has
two votes, so there is no discrimination. First, he will vote for the representative of his legislative district. That is one vote. In that same
ballot, he will be asked: What party or organization or coalition do you wish to be represented in the Assembly? And here will be attached a
list of the parties, organizations or coalitions that have been registered with the COMELEC and are entitled to be put in that list. This can be
a regional party, a sectoral party, a national party, UNIDO, Magsasaka or a regional party in Mindanao. One need not be a farmer to say
that he wants the farmers' party to be represented in the Assembly. Any citizen can vote for any party. At the end of the day, the COMELEC
will then tabulate the votes that had been garnered by each party or each organization one does not have to be a political party and
register in order to participate as a party and count the votes and from there derive the percentage of the votes that had been cast in
favor of a party, organization or coalition.

When such parties register with the COMELEC, we are assuming that 50 of the 250 seats will be for the party list system. So, we have a limit
of 30 percent of 50. That means that the maximum that any party can get out of these 50 seats is 15. When the parties register they then
submit a list of 15 names. They have to submit these names because these nominees have to meet the minimum qualifications of a
Member of the National Assembly. At the end of the day, when the votes are tabulated, one gets the percentages. Let us say, UNIDO gets
10 percent or 15 percent of the votes; KMU gets 5 percent; a womens party gets 2 1/2 percent and anybody who has at least 2 1/2 percent
of the vote qualifies and the 50 seats are apportioned among all of these parties who get at least 2 1/2 percent of the vote.

What does that mean? It means that any group or party who has a constituency of, say, 500,000 nationwide gets a seat in the National
Assembly. What is the justification for that? When we allocate legislative districts, we are saying that any district that has 200,000 votes
gets a seat. There is no reason why a group that has a national constituency, even if it is a sectoral or special interest group, should not have
a voice in the National Assembly. It also means that, let us say, there are three or four labor groups, they all register as a party or as a
group. If each of them gets only one percent or five of them get one percent, they are not entitled to any representative. So, they will begin
to think that if they really have a common interest, they should band together, form a coalition and get five percent of the vote and,
therefore, have two seats in the Assembly. Those are the dynamics of a party list system.

We feel that this approach gets around the mechanics of sectoral representation while at the same time making sure that those who really
have a national constituency or sectoral constituency will get a chance to have a seat in the National Assembly. These sectors or these
groups may not have the constituency to win a seat on a legislative district basis. They may not be able to win a seat on a district basis but
surely, they will have votes on a nationwide basis.

The purpose of this is to open the system. In the past elections, we found out that there were certain groups or parties that, if we count
their votes nationwide; have about 1,000,000 or 1,500,000 votes. But they were always third place or fourth place in each of the districts.
So, they have no voice in the Assembly. But this way, they would have five or six representatives in the Assembly even if they would not win
individually in legislative districts. So, that is essentially the mechanics, the purpose and objectives of the party list system.

BISHOP BACANI: Madam President, am I right in interpreting that when we speak now of party list system though we refer to sectors, we
would be referring to sectoral party list rather than sectors and party list?

MR. MONSOD: As a matter of fact, if this body accepts the party list system, we do not even have to mention sectors because the sectors
would be included in the party list system. They can be sectoral parties within the party list system.

xxxx

MR. MONSOD. Madam President, I just want to say that we suggested or proposed the party list system because we wanted to open up the
political system to a pluralistic society through a multiparty system. x x x We are for opening up the system, and we would like very much
for the sectors to be there. That is why one of the ways to do that is to put a ceiling on the number of representatives from any single
party that can sit within the 50 allocated under the party list system. x x x.

xxx

MR. MONSOD. Madam President, the candidacy for the 198 seats is not limited to political parties. My question is this: Are we going to
classify for example Christian Democrats and Social Democrats as political parties? Can they run under the party list concept or must
they be under the district legislation side of it only?

MR. VILLACORTA. In reply to that query, I think these parties that the Commissioner mentioned can field candidates for the Senate as
well as for the House of Representatives. Likewise, they can also field sectoral candidates for the 20 percent or 30 percent, whichever is
adopted, of the seats that we are allocating under the party list system.
MR. MONSOD. In other words, the Christian Democrats can field district candidates and can also participate in the party list system?

MR. VILLACORTA. Why not? When they come to the party list system, they will be fielding only sectoral candidates.

MR. MONSOD. May I be clarified on that? Can UNIDO participate in the party list system?

MR. VILLACORTA. Yes, why not? For as long as they field candidates who come from the different marginalized sectors that we shall
designate in this Constitution.

MR. MONSOD. Suppose Senator Taada wants to run under BAYAN group and says that he represents the farmers, would he qualify?

MR. VILLACORTA. No, Senator Taada would not qualify.

MR. MONSOD. But UNIDO can field candidates under the party list system and say Juan dela Cruz is a farmer. Who would pass on whether
he is a farmer or not?

MR. TADEO. Kay Commissioner Monsod, gusto ko lamang linawin ito. Political parties, particularly minority political parties, are not
prohibited to participate in the party list election if they can prove that they are also organized along sectoral lines.

MR. MONSOD. What the Commissioner is saying is that all political parties can participate because it is precisely the contention of political
parties that they represent the broad base of citizens and that all sectors are represented in them. Would the Commissioner agree?

MR. TADEO. Ang punto lamang namin, pag pinayagan mo ang UNIDO na isang political party, it will dominate the party list at mawawalang
saysay din yung sector. Lalamunin mismo ng political parties ang party list system. Gusto ko lamang bigyan ng diin ang "reserve." Hindi ito
reserve seat sa marginalized sectors. Kung titingnan natin itong 198 seats, reserved din ito sa political parties.

MR. MONSOD. Hindi po reserved iyon kasi anybody can run there. But my question to Commissioner Villacorta and probably also to
Commissioner Tadeo is that under this system, would UNIDO be banned from running under the party list system?

MR. VILLACORTA. No, as I said, UNIDO may field sectoral candidates. On that condition alone, UNIDO may be allowed to register for the
party list system.

MR. MONSOD. May I inquire from Commissioner Tadeo if he shares that answer?

MR. TADEO. The same.

MR. VILLACORTA. Puwede po ang UNIDO, pero sa sectoral lines.

MR. MONSOD: Sino po ang magsasabi kung iyong kandidato ng UNIDO ay hindi talagang labor leader or isang laborer? Halimbawa, abogado
ito.

MR. TADEO: Iyong mechanics.

MR. MONSOD: Hindi po mechanics iyon because we are trying to solve an inherent problem of sectoral representation. My question is:
Suppose UNIDO fields a labor leader, would he qualify?

MR. TADEO: The COMELEC may look into the truth of whether or not a political party is really organized along a specific sectoral line. If
such is verified or confirmed, the political party may submit a list of individuals who are actually members of such sectors. The lists are
to be published to give individuals or organizations belonging to such sector the chance to present evidence contradicting claims of
membership in the said sector or to question the claims of the existence of such sectoral organizations or parties. This proceeding shall
be conducted by the COMELEC and shall be summary in character. In other words, COMELEC decisions on this matter are final and
unappealable.52 (Emphasis supplied)

Indisputably, the framers of the 1987 Constitution intended the party-list system to include not only sectoral parties but also non-sectoral
parties. The framers intended the sectoral parties to constitute a part, but not the entirety, of the party-list system. As explained by
Commissioner Wilfredo Villacorta, political parties can participate in the party-list system "For as long as they field candidates who come
from the different marginalized sectors that we shall designate in this Constitution." 53

In fact, the framers voted down, 19-22, a proposal to reserve permanent seats to sectoral parties in the House of Representatives, or
alternatively, to reserve the party-list system exclusively to sectoral parties. As clearly explained by Justice Jose C. Vitug in his Dissenting
Opinion in Ang Bagong Bayani:

The draft provisions on what was to become Article VI, Section 5, subsection (2), of the 1987 Constitution took off from two staunch
positions the first headed by Commissioner Villacorta, advocating that of the 20 per centum of the total seats in Congress to be allocated
to party-list representatives half were to be reserved to appointees from the marginalized and underrepresented sectors. The proposal was
opposed by some Commissioners. Mr. Monsod expressed the difficulty in delimiting the sectors that needed representation. He was of the
view that reserving seats for the marginalized and underrepresented sectors would stunt their development into full-pledged parties
equipped with electoral machinery potent enough to further the sectoral interests to be represented. The Villacorta group, on the other
hand, was apprehensive that pitting the unorganized and less-moneyed sectoral groups in an electoral contest would be like placing babes
in the lion's den, so to speak, with the bigger and more established political parties ultimately gobbling them up. R.A. 7941 recognized this
concern when it banned the first five major political parties on the basis of party representation in the House of Representatives from
participating in the party-list system for the first party-list elections held in 1998 (and to be automatically lifted starting with the 2001
elections). The advocates for permanent seats for sectoral representatives made an effort towards a compromise that the party-list
system be open only to underrepresented and marginalized sectors. This proposal was further whittled down by allocating only half of the
seats under the party-list system to candidates from the sectors which would garner the required number of votes. The majority was
unyielding. Voting 19-22, the proposal for permanent seats, and in the alternative the reservation of the party-list system to the sectoral
groups, was voted down. The only concession the Villacorta group was able to muster was an assurance of reserved seats for selected
sectors for three consecutive terms after the enactment of the 1987 Constitution, by which time they would be expected to gather and
solidify their electoral base and brace themselves in the multi-party electoral contest with the more veteran political groups.54 (Emphasis
supplied)

Thus, in the end, the proposal to give permanent reserved seats to certain sectors was outvoted. Instead, the reservation of seats to
sectoral representatives was only allowed for the first three consecutive terms.55 There can be no doubt whatsoever that the framers of the
1987 Constitution expressly rejected the proposal to make the party-list system exclusively for sectoral parties only, and that they clearly
intended the party-list system to include both sectoral and non-sectoral parties.

The common denominator between sectoral and non-sectoral parties is that they cannot expect to win in legislative district elections but
they can garner, in nationwide elections, at least the same number of votes that winning candidates can garner in legislative district
elections. The party-list system will be the entry point to membership in the House of Representatives for both these non-traditional parties
that could not compete in legislative district elections.

The indisputable intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution to include in the party-list system both sectoral and non-sectoral parties
is clearly written in Section 5(1), Article VI of the Constitution, which states:

Section 5. (1) The House of Representative shall be composed of not more that two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by
law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in
accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as
provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.
(Emphasis supplied)

Section 5(1), Article VI of the Constitution is crystal-clear that there shall be "a party-list system of registered national, regional, and
sectoral parties or organizations." The commas after the words "national," and "regional," separate national and regional parties from
sectoral parties. Had the framers of the 1987 Constitution intended national and regional parties to be at the same time sectoral, they
would have stated "national and regional sectoral parties." They did not, precisely because it was never their intention to make the party-
list system exclusively sectoral.

What the framers intended, and what they expressly wrote in Section 5(1), could not be any clearer: the party-list system is composed of
three different groups, and the sectoral parties belong to only one of the three groups. The text of Section 5(1) leaves no room for any
doubt that national and regional parties are separate from sectoral parties.

Thus, the party-list system is composed of three different groups: (1) national parties or organizations; (2) regional parties or organizations;
and (3) sectoral parties or organizations. National and regional parties or organizations are different from sectoral parties or organizations.
National and regional parties or organizations need not be organized along sectoral lines and need not represent any particular sector.

Moreover, Section 5(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution mandates that, during the first three consecutive terms of Congress after the
ratification of the 1987 Constitution, "one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by
selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may
be provided by law, except the religious sector." This provision clearly shows again that the party-list system is not exclusively for sectoral
parties for two obvious reasons.

First, the other one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives would naturally be open to non-sectoral party-list
representatives, clearly negating the idea that the party-list system is exclusively for sectoral parties representing the "marginalized and
underrepresented." Second, the reservation of one-half of the party-list seats to sectoral parties applies only for the first "three consecutive
terms after the ratification of this Constitution," clearly making the party-list system fully open after the end of the first three congressional
terms. This means that, after this period, there will be no seats reserved for any class or type of party that qualifies under the three groups
constituting the party-list system.

Hence, the clear intent, express wording, and party-list structure ordained in Section 5(1) and (2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution
cannot be disputed: the party-list system is not for sectoral parties only, but also for non-sectoral parties.
Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act, which is the law that implements the party-list system prescribed in the Constitution,
provides:

Section 3. Definition of Terms. (a) The party-list system is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to
the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Component parties or organizations of a coalition may participate independently provided the
coalition of which they form part does not participate in the party-list system.

(b) A party means either a political party or a sectoral party or a coalition of parties.

(c) A political party refers to an organized group of citizens advocating an ideology or platform, principles and policies for the general
conduct of government and which, as the most immediate means of securing their adoption, regularly nominates and supports certain
of its leaders and members as candidates for public office.

It is a national party when its constituency is spread over the geographical territory of at least a majority of the regions. It is a regional party
when its constituency is spread over the geographical territory of at least a majority of the cities and provinces comprising the region.

(d) A sectoral party refers to an organized group of citizens belonging to any of the sectors enumerated in Section 5 hereof whose
principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concerns of their sector.

(e) A sectoral organization refers to a group of citizens or a coalition of groups of citizens who share similar physical attributes or
characteristics, employment, interests or concerns.

(f) A coalition refers to an aggrupation of duly registered national, regional, sectoral parties or organizations for political and/or election
purposes. (Emphasis supplied)

Section 3(a) of R.A. No. 7941 defines a "party" as "either a political party or a sectoral party or a coalition of parties." Clearly, a political
party is different from a sectoral party. Section 3(c) of R.A. No. 7941 further provides that a "political party refers to an organized group of
citizens advocating an ideology or platform, principles and policies for the general conduct of government." On the other hand, Section
3(d) of R.A. No. 7941 provides that a "sectoral party refers to an organized group of citizens belonging to any of the sectors enumerated in
Section 5 hereof whose principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concerns of their sector." R.A. No. 7941 provides different
definitions for a political and a sectoral party. Obviously, they are separate and distinct from each other.

R.A. No. 7941 does not require national and regional parties or organizations to represent the "marginalized and underrepresented"
sectors. To require all national and regional parties under the party-list system to represent the "marginalized and underrepresented" is to
deprive and exclude, by judicial fiat, ideology-based and cause-oriented parties from the party-list system. How will these ideology-based
and cause-oriented parties, who cannot win in legislative district elections, participate in the electoral process if they are excluded from the
party-list system? To exclude them from the party-list system is to prevent them from joining the parliamentary struggle, leaving as their
only option the armed struggle. To exclude them from the party-list system is, apart from being obviously senseless, patently contrary to
the clear intent and express wording of the 1987 Constitution and R.A. No. 7941.

Under the party-list system, an ideology-based or cause-oriented political party is clearly different from a sectoral party. A political party
need not be organized as a sectoral party and need not represent any particular sector. There is no requirement in R.A. No. 7941 that a
national or regional political party must represent a "marginalized and underrepresented" sector. It is sufficient that the political party
consists of citizens who advocate the same ideology or platform, or the same governance principles and policies, regardless of their
economic status as citizens.

Section 5 of R.A. No. 7941 states that "the sectors shall include labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural
communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals."56The sectors mentioned in Section 5
are not all necessarily "marginalized and underrepresented." For sure, "professionals" are not by definition "marginalized and
underrepresented," not even the elderly, women, and the youth. However, professionals, the elderly, women, and the youth may "lack
well-defined political constituencies," and can thus organize themselves into sectoral parties in advocacy of the special interests and
concerns of their respective sectors.

Section 6 of R.A. No. 7941 provides another compelling reason for holding that the law does not require national or regional parties, as well
as certain sectoral parties in Section 5 of R.A. No. 7941, to represent the "marginalized and underrepresented." Section 6 provides the
grounds for the COMELEC to refuse or cancel the registration of parties or organizations after due notice and hearing.

Section 6. Refusal and/or Cancellation of Registration. The COMELEC may, motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested
party, refuse or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on
any of the following grounds:

(1) It is a religious sect or denomination, organization or association organized for religious purposes;

(2) It advocates violence or unlawful means to seek its goal;


(3) It is a foreign party or organization;

(4) It is receiving support from any foreign government, foreign political party, foundation, organization, whether directly or through any of
its officers or members or indirectly through third parties for partisan election purposes;

(5) It violates or fails to comply with laws, rules or regulations relating to elections;

(6) It declares untruthful statements in its petition;

(7) It has ceased to exist for at least one (1) year; or

(8) It fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the
party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered.

None of the 8 grounds to refuse or cancel registration refers to non-representation of the "marginalized and underrepresented."

The phrase "marginalized and underrepresented" appears only once in R.A. No. 7941, in Section 2 on Declaration of Policy. 57 Section 2
seeks "to promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through the party-list
system," which will enable Filipinos belonging to the "marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who
lack well-defined political constituencies," to become members of the House of Representatives. While the policy declaration in Section 2
of R.A. No. 7941 broadly refers to "marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties," the specific implementing
provisions of R.A. No. 7941 do not define or require that the sectors, organizations or parties must be "marginalized and
underrepresented." On the contrary, to even interpret that all the sectors mentioned in Section 5 are "marginalized and underrepresented"
would lead to absurdities.

How then should we harmonize the broad policy declaration in Section 2 of R.A. No. 7941 with its specific implementing provisions, bearing
in mind the applicable provisions of the 1987 Constitution on the matter?

The phrase "marginalized and underrepresented" should refer only to the sectors in Section 5 that are, by their nature, economically
"marginalized and underrepresented." These sectors are: labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities,
handicapped, veterans, overseas workers, and other similar sectors. For these sectors, a majority of the members of the sectoral party
must belong to the "marginalized and underrepresented." The nominees of the sectoral party either must belong to the sector, or must
have a track record of advocacy for the sector represented. Belonging to the "marginalized and underrepresented" sector does not mean
one must "wallow in poverty, destitution or infirmity." It is sufficient that one, or his or her sector, is below the middle class. More
specifically, the economically "marginalized and underrepresented" are those who fall in the low income group as classified by the National
Statistical Coordination Board.58

The recognition that national and regional parties, as well as sectoral parties of professionals, the elderly, women and the youth, need not
be "marginalized and underrepresented" will allow small ideology-based and cause-oriented parties who lack "well-defined political
constituencies" a chance to win seats in the House of Representatives. On the other hand, limiting to the "marginalized and
underrepresented" the sectoral parties for labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, handicapped, veterans,
overseas workers, and other sectors that by their nature are economically at the margins of society, will give the "marginalized and
underrepresented" an opportunity to likewise win seats in the House of Representatives.

This interpretation will harmonize the 1987 Constitution and R.A. No. 7941 and will give rise to a multi-party system where those
"marginalized and underrepresented," both in economic and ideological status, will have the opportunity to send their own members to
the House of Representatives. This interpretation will also make the party-list system honest and transparent, eliminating the need for
relatively well-off party-list representatives to masquerade as "wallowing in poverty, destitution and infirmity," even as they attend
sessions in Congress riding in SUVs.

The major political parties are those that field candidates in the legislative district elections. Major political parties cannot participate in the
party-list elections since they neither lack "well-defined political constituencies" nor represent "marginalized and underrepresented"
sectors. Thus, the national or regional parties under the party-list system are necessarily those that do not belong to major political
parties. This automatically reserves the national and regional parties under the party-list system to those who "lack well-defined political
constituencies," giving them the opportunity to have members in the House of Representatives.

To recall, Ang Bagong Bayani expressly declared, in its second guideline for the accreditation of parties under the party-list system, that
"while even major political parties are expressly allowed by RA 7941 and the Constitution to participate in the party-list system, they must
comply with the declared statutory policy of enabling Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors xxx to be
elected to the House of Representatives. "However, the requirement in Ang Bagong Bayani, in its second guideline, that "the political party
xxx must represent the marginalized and underrepresented," automatically disqualified major political parties from participating in the
party-list system. This inherent inconsistency in Ang Bagong Bayani has been compounded by the COMELECs refusal to register sectoral
wings officially organized by major political parties. BANAT merely formalized the prevailing practice when it expressly prohibited major
political parties from participating in the party-list system, even through their sectoral wings.
Section 11 of R.A. No. 7941 expressly prohibited the "first five (5) major political parties on the basis of party representation in the House
of Representatives at the start of the Tenth Congress" from participating in the May 1988 party-list elections.59 Thus, major political parties
can participate in subsequent party-list elections since the prohibition is expressly limited only to the 1988 party-list elections. However,
major political parties should participate in party-list elections only through their sectoral wings. The participation of major political parties
through their sectoral wings, a majority of whose members are "marginalized and underrepresented" or lacking in "well-defined political
constituencies," will facilitate the entry of the "marginalized and underrepresented" and those who "lack well-defined political
constituencies" as members of the House of Representatives.

The 1987 Constitution and R.A. No. 7941 allow major political parties to participate in party-list elections so as to encourage them to work
assiduously in extending their constituencies to the "marginalized and underrepresented" and to those who "lack well-defined political
constituencies." The participation of major political parties in party-list elections must be geared towards the entry, as members of the
House of Representatives, of the "marginalized and underrepresented" and those who "lack well-defined political constituencies," giving
them a voice in law-making. Thus,to participate in party-list elections, a major political party that fields candidates in the legislative district
elections must organize a sectoral wing, like a labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, professional, women or youth wing, that can register
under the party-list system.

Such sectoral wing of a major political party must have its own constitution, by-laws, platform or program of government, officers and
members, a majority of whom must belong to the sector represented. The sectoral wing is in itself an independent sectoral party, and is
linked to a major political party through a coalition. This linkage is allowed by Section 3 of R.A. No. 7941, which provides that "component
parties or organizations of a coalition may participate independently (in party-list elections) provided the coalition of which they form part
does not participate in the party-list system."

Section 9 of R.A. No. 7941 prescribes the qualifications of party-list nominees. This provision prescribes a special qualification only for the
nominee from the youth sector.

Section 9. Qualifications of Party-List Nominees. No person shall be nominated as party-list representative unless he is a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, a resident of the Philippines for a period of not less than one (1) year immediately preceding
the day of the election, able to read and write, a bona fide member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least
ninety (90) days preceding the day of the election, and is at least twenty-five (25) years of age on the day of the election.

In case of a nominee of the youth sector, he must at least be twenty-five (25) but not more than thirty (30) years of age on the day of the
election.

Any youth sectoral representative who attains the age of thirty (30) during his term shall be allowed to continue in office until the
expiration of his term.1wphi1

A party-list nominee must be a bona fide member of the party or organization which he or she seeks to represent. In the case of sectoral
parties, to be a bona fide party-list nominee one must either belong to the sector represented, or have a track record of advocacy for
such sector.

In disqualifying petitioners, the COMELEC used the criteria prescribed in Ang Bagong Bayani and BANAT. Ang Bagong Bayani laid down the
guidelines for qualifying those who desire to participate in the party-list system:

First, the political party, sector, organization or coalition must represent the marginalized and underrepresented groups identified in
Section 5 of RA 7941. x x x

Second, while even major political parties are expressly allowed by RA 7941 and the Constitution to participate in the party-list system, they
must comply with the declared statutory policy of enabling "Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors x x x
to be elected to the House of Representatives." x x x.

xxxx

Third, x x x the religious sector may not be represented in the party-list system. x x x.

xxxx

Fourth, a party or an organization must not be disqualified under Section 6 of RA 7941, which enumerates the grounds for disqualification
as follows:

"(1) It is a religious sect or denomination, organization or association, organized for religious purposes;

(2) It advocates violence or unlawful means to seek its goal;

(3) It is a foreign party or organization;


(4) It is receiving support from any foreign government, foreign political party, foundation, organization, whether directly or through any of
its officers or members or indirectly through third parties for partisan election purposes;

(5) It violates or fails to comply with laws, rules or regulations relating to elections;

(6) It declares untruthful statements in its petition;

(7) It has ceased to exist for at least one (1) year; or

(8) It fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the
party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered."

Fifth, the party or organization must not be an adjunct of, or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by, the government. x x x.

xxxx

Sixth, the party must not only comply with the requirements of the law; its nominees must likewise do so. Section 9 of RA 7941 reads as
follows:

"SEC 9. Qualifications of Party-List Nominees. - No person shall be nominated as party-list representative unless he is a natural-born citizen
of the Philippines, a registered voter, a resident of the Philippines for a period of not less than one (1)year immediately preceding the day of
the election, able to read and write, a bona fide member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least ninety (90)
days preceding the day of the election, and is at least twenty-five (25) years of age on the day of the election.

In case of a nominee of the youth sector, he must at least be twenty-five (25) but not more than thirty (30) years of age on the day of the
election. Any youth sectoral representative who attains the age of thirty (30) during his term shall be allowed to continue in office until the
expiration of his term."

Seventh, not only the candidate party or organization must represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors; so also must its
nominees. x x x.

Eighth, x x x the nominee must likewise be able to contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit
the nation as a whole. (Emphasis supplied)

In 2009, by a vote of 8-7 in BANAT, this Court stretched the Ang Bagong Bayani ruling further. In BANAT, the majority officially excluded
major political parties from participating in party-list elections,60 abandoning even the lip-service that Ang Bagong Bayani accorded to the
1987 Constitution and R.A.No. 7941 that major political parties can participate in party-list elections.

The minority in BANAT, however, believed that major political parties can participate in the party-list system through their sectoral wings.
The minority expressed that "[e]xcluding the major political parties in party-list elections is manifestly against the Constitution, the intent of
the Constitutional Commission, and R.A. No. 7941. This Court cannot engage in socio-political engineering and judicially legislate the
exclusion of major political parties from the party-list elections in patent violation of the Constitution and the law." 61 The experimentations
in socio-political engineering have only resulted in confusion and absurdity in the party-list system. Such experimentations, in clear
contravention of the 1987 Constitution and R.A. No. 7941, must now come to an end.

We cannot, however, fault the COMELEC for following prevailing jurisprudence in disqualifying petitioners. In following prevailing
jurisprudence, the COMELEC could not have committed grave abuse of discretion. However, for the coming 13 May 2013 party-list
elections, we must now impose and mandate the party-list system actually envisioned and authorized under the 1987 Constitution and
R.A. No. 7941. In BANAT, this Court devised a new formula in the allocation of party-list seats, reversing the COMELEC's allocation which
followed the then prevailing formula in Ang Bagong Bayani. In BANAT, however, the Court did not declare that the COMELEC committed
grave abuse of discretion. Similarly, even as we acknowledge here that the COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion, we declare
that it would not be in accord with the 1987 Constitution and R.A. No. 7941 to apply the criteria in Ang Bagong Bayani and BANAT in
determining who are qualified to participate in the coming 13 May 2013 party-list elections. For this purpose, we suspend our rule62 that a
party may appeal to this Court from decisions or orders of the COMELEC only if the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion.

Thus, we remand all the present petitions to the COMELEC. In determining who may participate in the coming 13 May 2013 and subsequent
party-list elections, the COMELEC shall adhere to the following parameters:

1. Three different groups may participate in the party-list system: (1) national parties or organizations, (2) regional parties or organizations,
and (3) sectoral parties or organizations.

2. National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to
represent any "marginalized and underrepresented" sector.

3. Political parties can participate in party-list elections provided they register under the party-list system and do not field candidates in
legislative district elections. A political party, whether major or not, that fields candidates in legislative district elections can participate in
party-list elections only through its sectoral wing that can separately register under the party-list system. The sectoral wing is by itself an
independent sectoral party, and is linked to a political party through a coalition.

4. Sectoral parties or organizations may either be "marginalized and underrepresented" or lacking in "well-defined political constituencies."
It is enough that their principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concerns of their sector. The sectors that are "marginalized
and underrepresented" include labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, handicapped, veterans, and
overseas workers. The sectors that lack "well-defined political constituencies" include professionals, the elderly, women, and the youth.

5. A majority of the members of sectoral parties or organizations that represent the "marginalized and underrepresented" must belong to
the "marginalized and underrepresented" sector they represent. Similarly, a majority of the members of sectoral parties or organizations
that lack "well-defined political constituencies" must belong to the sector they represent. The nominees of sectoral parties or organizations
that represent the "marginalized and underrepresented," or that represent those who lack "well-defined political constituencies," either
must belong to their respective sectors, or must have a track record of advocacy for their respective sectors. The nominees of national and
regional parties or organizations must be bona-fide members of such parties or organizations.

6. National, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations shall not be disqualified if some of their nominees are disqualified, provided that
they have at least one nominee who remains qualified.

The COMELEC excluded from participating in the 13 May 2013 party-list elections those that did not satisfy these two criteria: (1) all
national, regional, and sectoral groups or organizations must represent the "marginalized and underrepresented" sectors, and (2) all
nominees must belong to the "marginalized and underrepresented" sector they represent. Petitioners may have been disqualified by the
COMELEC because as political or regional parties they are not organized along sectoral lines and do not represent the "marginalized and
underrepresented." Also, petitioners' nominees who do not belong to the sectors they represent may have been disqualified, although they
may have a track record of advocacy for their sectors. Likewise, nominees of non-sectoral parties may have been disqualified because they
do not belong to any sector. Moreover, a party may have been disqualified because one or more of its nominees failed to qualify, even if
the party has at least one remaining qualified nominee. As discussed above, the disqualification of petitioners, and their nominees, under
such circumstances is contrary to the 1987 Constitution and R.A. No. 7941.

This Court is sworn to uphold the 1987 Constitution, apply its provisions faithfully, and desist from engaging in socio-economic or political
experimentations contrary to what the Constitution has ordained. Judicial power does not include the power to re-write the Constitution.
Thus, the present petitions should be remanded to the COMELEC not because the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in
disqualifying petitioners, but because petitioners may now possibly qualify to participate in the coming 13 May 2013 party-list elections
under the new parameters prescribed by this Court.

WHEREFORE, all the present 54 petitions are GRANTED. The 13 petitions, which have been granted Status Quo Ante Orders but without
mandatory injunction to include the names of petitioners in the printing of ballots, are remanded to the Commission on Elections only for
determination whether petitioners are qualified to register under the party-list system under the parameters prescribed in this Decision but
they shall not participate in the 13 May 2013 part-list elections. The 41 petitions, which have been granted mandatory injunctions to
include the names of petitioners in the printing of ballots, are remanded to the Commission on Elections for determination whether
petitioners are qualified to register under the party-list system and to participate in the 13 May 2013 party-list elections under the
parameters prescribed in this Decision. The Commission on Elections may conduct summary evidentiary hearings for this purpose. This
Decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.