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RIGHT TO INFORMATION

1. CHAVEZ v PEA

FACTS: On November 20, 1973, the government, through the Commissioner of Public Highways, signed a contract with the Construction
and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP for brevity) to reclaim certain foreshore and offshore areas of Manila Bay. The
contract also included the construction of Phases I and II of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road. CDCP obligated itself to carry out all the
works in consideration of fifty percent of the total reclaimed land.

On February 4, 1977, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1084 creating PEA. PD No. 1084 tasked PEA
to reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas, and to develop, improve, acquire, x x x lease and sell any and all kinds of
lands.[1] On the same date, then President Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1085 transferring to PEA the lands reclaimed in the
foreshore and offshore of the Manila Bay[2] under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP).

On December 29, 1981, then President Marcos issued a memorandum directing PEA to amend its contract with CDCP, so that [A]ll future
works in MCCRRP x x x shall be funded and owned by PEA. Accordingly, PEA and CDCP executed a Memorandum of Agreement dated
December 29, 1981, which stated:

(i) CDCP shall undertake all reclamation, construction, and such other works in the MCCRRP as may be agreed upon by the parties, to
be paid according to progress of works on a unit price/lump sum basis for items of work to be agreed upon, subject to price escalation,
retention and other terms and conditions provided for in Presidential Decree No. 1594. All the financing required for such works shall be
provided by PEA.
xxx
(iii) x x x CDCP shall give up all its development rights and hereby agrees to cede and transfer in favor of PEA, all of the rights, title,
interest and participation of CDCP in and to all the areas of land reclaimed by CDCP in the MCCRRP as of December 30, 1981 which
have not yet been sold, transferred or otherwise disposed of by CDCP as of said date, which areas consist of approximately Ninety-Nine
Thousand Four Hundred Seventy Three (99,473) square meters in the Financial Center Area covered by land pledge No. 5 and
approximately Three Million Three Hundred Eighty Two Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Eight (3,382,888) square meters of reclaimed
areas at varying elevations above Mean Low Water Level located outside the Financial Center Area and the First Neighborhood Unit.[3]

On January 19, 1988, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517, granting and transferring to PEA the parcels
of land so reclaimed under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP) containing a total area of one million
nine hundred fifteen thousand eight hundred ninety four (1,915,894) square meters. Subsequently, on April 9, 1988, the Register of Deeds
of the Municipality of Paraaque issued Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 7309, 7311, and 7312, in the name of PEA, covering the three
reclaimed islands known as the Freedom Islands located at the southern portion of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road, Paraaque City. The
Freedom Islands have a total land area of One Million Five Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand Four Hundred and Forty One (1,578,441)
square meters or 157.841 hectares.

On April 25, 1995, PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA for brevity) with AMARI, a private corporation, to develop the
Freedom Islands. The JVA also required the reclamation of an additional 250 hectares of submerged areas surrounding these islands to
complete the configuration in the Master Development Plan of the Southern Reclamation Project-MCCRRP. PEA and AMARI entered
into the JVA through negotiation without public bidding.[4] On April 28, 1995, the Board of Directors of PEA, in its Resolution No. 1245,
confirmed the JVA. [5] On June 8, 1995, then President Fidel V. Ramos, through then Executive Secretary Ruben Torres, approved the
JVA.[6]

On November 29, 1996, then Senate President Ernesto Maceda delivered a privilege speech in the Senate and denounced the JVA as
the grandmother of all scams. As a result, the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, and the Committee
on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, conducted a joint investigation. The Senate Committees reported the results of
their investigation in Senate Committee Report No. 560 dated September 16, 1997.[7] Among the conclusions of their report are: (1) the
reclaimed lands PEA seeks to transfer to AMARI under the JVA are lands of the public domain which the government has not classified
as alienable lands and therefore PEA cannot alienate these lands; (2) the certificates of title covering the Freedom Islands are thus void,
and (3) the JVA itself is illegal.

On December 5, 1997, then President Fidel V. Ramos issued Presidential Administrative Order No. 365 creating a Legal Task Force to
conduct a study on the legality of the JVA in view of Senate Committee Report No. 560. The members of the Legal Task Force were the
Secretary of Justice,[8] the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel,[9] and the Government Corporate Counsel.[10] The Legal Task Force
upheld the legality of the JVA, contrary to the conclusions reached by the Senate Committees.[11]

On April 4 and 5, 1998, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Today published reports that there were on-going renegotiations between PEA
and AMARI under an order issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos. According to these reports, PEA Director Nestor Kalaw, PEA
Chairman Arsenio Yulo and retired Navy Officer Sergio Cruz composed the negotiating panel of PEA.

On April 13, 1998, Antonio M. Zulueta filed before the Court a Petition for Prohibition with Application for the Issuance of a Temporary
Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction docketed as G.R. No. 132994 seeking to nullify the JVA. The Court dismissed the petition
for unwarranted disregard of judicial hierarchy, without prejudice to the refiling of the case before the proper court.[12]

On April 27, 1998, petitioner Frank I. Chavez (Petitioner for brevity) as a taxpayer, filed the instant Petition for Mandamus with Prayer for
the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order. Petitioner contends the government stands to lose
billions of pesos in the sale by PEA of the reclaimed lands to AMARI. Petitioner prays that PEA publicly disclose the terms of any
renegotiation of the JVA, invoking Section 28, Article II, and Section 7, Article III, of the 1987 Constitution on the right of the people to
information on matters of public concern. Petitioner assails the sale to AMARI of lands of the public domain as a blatant violation of
Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting the sale of alienable lands of the public domain to private corporations. Finally,
petitioner asserts that he seeks to enjoin the loss of billions of pesos in properties of the State that are of public dominion.

After several motions for extension of time,[13] PEA and AMARI filed their Comments on October 19, 1998 and June 25, 1998,
respectively. Meanwhile, on December 28, 1998, petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion: (a) to require PEA to submit the terms of the
renegotiated PEA-AMARI contract; (b) for issuance of a temporary restraining order; and (c) to set the case for hearing on oral argument.
Petitioner filed a Reiterative Motion for Issuance of a TRO dated May 26, 1999, which the Court denied in a Resolution dated June 22,
1999.

In a Resolution dated March 23, 1999, the Court gave due course to the petition and required the parties to file their respective
memoranda.
On March 30, 1999, PEA and AMARI signed the Amended Joint Venture Agreement (Amended JVA, for brevity). On May 28, 1999, the
Office of the President under the administration of then President Joseph E. Estrada approved the Amended JVA.

Due to the approval of the Amended JVA by the Office of the President, petitioner now prays that on constitutional and statutory grounds
the renegotiated contract be declared null and void.

ISSUE: V. WHETHER THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO INFORMATION INCLUDES OFFICIAL INFORMATION ON ON-GOING
NEGOTIATIONS BEFORE A FINAL AGREEMENT

RULING: Section 7, Article III of the Constitution explains the peoples right to information on matters of public concern in this manner:

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 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. (Emphasis supplied)

The State policy of full transparency in all transactions involving public interest reinforces the peoples right to information on matters of
public concern. This State policy is expressed in Section 28, Article II of the Constitution, thus:

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)

These twin provisions of the Constitution seek to promote transparency in policy-making and in the operations of the government, as well
as provide the people sufficient information to exercise effectively other constitutional rights. These twin provisions are essential to the
exercise of freedom of expression. If the government does not disclose its official acts, transactions and decisions to citizens, whatever
citizens say, even if expressed without any restraint, will be speculative and amount to nothing. These twin provisions are also essential
to hold public officials at all times x x x accountable to the people,[29] for unless citizens have the proper information, they cannot hold
public officials accountable for anything. Armed with the right information, citizens can participate in public discussions leading to the
formulation of government policies and their effective implementation. An informed citizenry is essential to the existence and proper
functioning of any democracy. As explained by the Court in Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr.[30]

An essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and
the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that the government
may perceive and be responsive to the peoples will. Yet, this open dialogue can be effective only to the extent that the citizenry is informed
and thus able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the participants in the discussion are aware of the issues and have access to
information relating thereto can such bear fruit.

PEA asserts, citing Chavez v. PCGG,[31] that in cases of on-going negotiations the right to information is limited to definite propositions
of the government. PEA maintains the right does not include access to intra-agency or inter-agency recommendations or communications
during the stage when common assertions are still in the process of being formulated or are in the exploratory stage.

Also, AMARI contends that petitioner cannot invoke the right at the pre-decisional stage or before the closing of the transaction. To
support its contention, AMARI cites the following discussion in the 1986 Constitutional Commission:

Mr. Suarez. And when we say transactions which should be distinguished from contracts, agreements, or treaties or whatever, does the
Gentleman refer to the steps leading to the consummation of the contract, or does he refer to the contract itself?

Mr. Ople: The transactions used here, I suppose is generic and therefore, it can cover both steps leading to a contract and already a
consummated contract, Mr. Presiding Officer.

Mr. Suarez: This contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction.

Mr. Ople: Yes, subject only to reasonable safeguards on the national interest.

Mr. Suarez: Thank you.[32] (Emphasis supplied)

AMARI argues there must first be a consummated contract before petitioner can invoke the right. Requiring government officials to reveal
their deliberations at the pre-decisional stage will degrade the quality of decision-making in government agencies. Government officials
will hesitate to express their real sentiments during deliberations if there is immediate public dissemination of their discussions, putting
them under all kinds of pressure before they decide.

We must first distinguish between information the law on public bidding requires PEA to disclose publicly, and information the
constitutional right to information requires PEA to release to the public. Before the consummation of the contract, PEA must, on its own
and without demand from anyone, disclose to the public matters relating to the disposition of its property. These include the size, location,
technical description and nature of the property being disposed of, the terms and conditions of the disposition, the parties qualified to bid,
the minimum price and similar information. PEA must prepare all these data and disclose them to the public at the start of the disposition
process, long before the consummation of the contract, because the Government Auditing Code requires public bidding. If PEA fails to
make this disclosure, any citizen can demand from PEA this information at any time during the bidding process.

Information, however, on on-going evaluation or review of bids or proposals being undertaken by the bidding or review committee is not
immediately accessible under the right to information. While the evaluation or review is still on-going, there are no official acts,
transactions, or decisions on the bids or proposals. However, once the committee makes its official recommendation, there arises a
definite proposition on the part of the government. From this moment, the publics right to information attaches, and any citizen can access
all the non-proprietary information leading to such definite proposition. In Chavez v. PCGG,[33] the Court ruled as follows:

Considering the intent of the framers of the Constitution, we believe that it is incumbent upon the PCGG and its officers, as well as other
government representatives, to disclose sufficient public information on any proposed settlement they have decided to take up with the
ostensible owners and holders of ill-gotten wealth. Such information, though, must pertain to definite propositions of the government, not
necessarily to intra-agency or inter-agency recommendations or communications during the stage when common assertions are still in
the process of being formulated or are in the exploratory stage. There is need, of course, to observe the same restrictions on disclosure
of information in general, as discussed earlier such as on matters involving national security, diplomatic or foreign relations, intelligence
and other classified information. (Emphasis supplied)
Contrary to AMARIs contention, the commissioners of the 1986 Constitutional Commission understood that the right to information
contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction. Certainly, a consummated contract is not a
requirement for the exercise of the right to information. Otherwise, the people can never exercise the right if no contract is consummated,
and if one is consummated, it may be too late for the public to expose its defects.

Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public in the dark until the contract, which may be grossly disadvantageous to the
government or even illegal, becomes a fait accompli. This negates the State policy of full transparency on matters of public concern, a
situation which the framers of the Constitution could not have intended. Such a requirement will prevent the citizenry from participating in
the public discussion of any proposed contract, effectively truncating a basic right enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We can allow neither an
emasculation of a constitutional right, nor a retreat by the State of its avowed policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public
interest.

The right covers three categories of information which are matters of public concern, namely: (1) official records; (2) documents and
papers pertaining to official acts, transactions and decisions; and (3) government research data used in formulating policies. The first
category refers to any document that is part of the public records in the custody of government agencies or officials. The second category
refers to documents and papers recording, evidencing, establishing, confirming, supporting, justifying or explaining official acts,
transactions or decisions of government agencies or officials. The third category refers to research data, whether raw, collated or
processed, owned by the government and used in formulating government policies.

The information that petitioner may access on the renegotiation of the JVA includes evaluation reports, recommendations, legal and
expert opinions, minutes of meetings, terms of reference and other documents attached to such reports or minutes, all relating to the
JVA. However, the right to information does not compel PEA to prepare lists, abstracts, summaries and the like relating to the renegotiation
of the JVA.[34] The right only affords access to records, documents and papers, which means the opportunity to inspect and copy them.
One who exercises the right must copy the records, documents and papers at his expense. The exercise of the right is also subject to
reasonable regulations to protect the integrity of the public records and to minimize disruption to government operations, like rules
specifying when and how to conduct the inspection and copying.[35]

The right to information, however, does not extend to matters recognized as privileged information under the separation of powers.[36]
The right does not also apply to information on military and diplomatic secrets, information affecting national security, and information on
investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused, which courts have long recognized as
confidential.[37] The right may also be subject to other limitations that Congress may impose by law.

There is no claim by PEA that the information demanded by petitioner is privileged information rooted in the separation of powers. The
information does not cover Presidential conversations, correspondences, or discussions during closed-door Cabinet meetings which, like
internal deliberations of the Supreme Court and other collegiate courts, or executive sessions of either house of Congress,[38] are
recognized as confidential. This kind of information cannot be pried open by a co-equal branch of government. A frank exchange of
exploratory ideas and assessments, free from the glare of publicity and pressure by interested parties, is essential to protect the
independence of decision-making of those tasked to exercise Presidential, Legislative and Judicial power.[39] This is not the situation in
the instant case.

We rule, therefore, that the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final contract.
The information, however, must constitute definite propositions by the government and should not cover recognized exceptions like
privileged information, military and diplomatic secrets and similar matters affecting national security and public order.[40] Congress has
also prescribed other limitations on the right to information in several legislations.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Public Estates Authority and Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation are
PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from implementing the Amended Joint Venture Agreement which is hereby declared NULL and
VOID ab initio.

2.) GARCIA V BOARD OF INVESTMENTS

In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with a prayer for preliminary injunction, the petitioner, as congressman for the second district
of Bataan, assails the approval by the Board of Investments (BOI) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the amended
application for registration of the Bataan Petrochemical Corporation, which seeks to transfer the site of its petrochemical complex from
Bataan, the original situs of choice, to the province of Batangas.

Since the case presents purely legal issues, and the subject of the controversy vitally affects the economic interests of the country which
should not pend for too long, the Court, after hearing the parties' extensive oral and written arguments on the petitioner's application for
preliminary injunction, believes that it may now decide the merits of the petition as well.

Proclamation No. 361 dated March 6, 1968, as amended by Proclamation No. 630 dated November 29, 1969, reserved a 388-hectare
parcel of land of the public domain located at Lamao, Limay, Bataan for "industrial estate purposes," in line with the State policy of
promoting and rationalizing the industrialization of the Philippines. P.D. No. 1803, dated January 16, 1981, enlarged the area by 188
hectares, making it a total of 576 hectares, reserved for the Petrochemical Industrial Zone under the administration, management and
ownership of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC).

The Bataan Refining Corporation (BRC for short) is a wholly government-owned corporation, located in Bataan. It produces 60% of the
national output of naphtha.

Taiwanese investors in a petrochemical project formed the Bataan Petrochemical Corporation (BPC) and applied with BOI for registration
as a new domestic producer of petrochemicals. Its application specified Bataan as the plant site. One of the terms and conditions for the
registration of the project was the use of "naphtha cracker" and "naphtha" as feedstock or fuel for its petrochemical plant. The
petrochemical project was to be a joint venture with PNOC. BPC was issued a Certificate of Registration on February 24, 1988 by BOI.

BPC was accorded pioneer status and was given fiscal and other incentives by BOI, like, (1) exemptions from tax on raw materials, (2)
repatriation of the entire proceeds of liquidation of investments in currency originally made and at the exchange rate obtaining at the time
of repatriation; and (3) remittance of earnings on investments. As additional incentive, the House of Representatives approved a bill
introduced by the petitioner, Congressman Garcia, eliminating the 48% ad valorem tax on naphtha if and when it would be us ed as raw
material in the petrochemical plant. The chairman of BPC, Tomas T.N. Hsi, profusely welcomed the bill, stating:

This project is aiming at a boon not only to the province of Bataan, but to the country of the Philippines in general. It will support the
development of the Philippine petrochemical industry by providing an ability to compete in the world market for manufactured
petrochemical derivatives such as polyethylene and polypropylene products . . . (p. 7, Rollo.)
However, in February 1989, A. T. Chong, chairman of USI Far East Corporation, the major investor in BPC personally delivered to Trade
Secretary Jose Concepcion a letter dated January 25, 1989, advising him of BPC's desire to amend the original registration certificate of
its project by changing the job site from Limay, Bataan, to Batangas (Annex F, p. 51, Rollo). News of the shift was published by one of
the major Philippine dailies which disclosed that the cause of the relocation of the project is the insurgency and unstable labor situation
in Bataan. The presence in Batangas of a huge liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) depot owned by the Pilipinas Shell Corporation was another
consideration.

The congressmen of Bataan vigorously opposed the transfer of the proposed petrochemical plant to Batangas. At a conference of the
Taiwanese investors with President Aquino and her Secretary of Defense and Chief of Staff of the Army, the President expressed her
preference that the Bataan petrochemical plant be established in Bataan.

However, despite speeches in the Senate and in the House opposing the transfer of the project to Batangas, BPC filed in the BOI on April
11, 1989 a request for "approval of an amendment of its investment application ... for establishing a petrochemical complex in the
Philippines." (Annex F, p. 51, Rollo.) The amendments consisted of. (1) increasing the investment amount from US$220 million to US$320
million; (2) increasing the production capacity of its naphtha cracker, polyetheylene plant and polypropylene plant; (3) changing the
feedstock from naphtha only to "naphtha and/or liquefied petroleum gas;" (4) transferring the job site from Limay, Bataan to Batangas
(Annex F, p. 51, Rollo).

Senator Ernesto Maceda, Antonio Francisco, vice-president and general manager of the Bataan Refining Corporation, Congressman
Felicito C. Payumo of the lst District of Bataan, herein petitioner Congressman Enrique Garcia of the Second District, the provincial
Governor of Bataan, the League of Mayors and various civic and professional organizations all opposed the transfer of the project to
Batangas (pp. 10, 11, 12, Rollo; Annex Q, p. 81, Rollo).

On May 4, 1989, petitioner addressed a letter to Secretary Concepcion of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through BOI vice-
chairman and manager Tomas Alcantara, requesting for "a copy of the amendment reportedly submitted by Taiwanese investors, to their
original application for the installation of the Bataan Petrochemical Plant, as well as the original application itself together with any and all
attachments to said original application and the amendment thereto." (Annex K, p. 70, Rollo.)

On May 21, 1989, BOI vice-chairman Alcantara informed petitioner that the Taiwanese investors declined to give their consent to the
release of the documents requested (Annex O).

On May 25, 1989, the BOI approved the revision of the registration of BPC's petrochemical project (Annex S, p. 84, Rollo).

On June 26, 1989, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition in this Court, with a prayer for preliminary injunction, alleging that
the BOI and DTI gravely abused their discretion:

(a) in not observing due process in approving without a hearing, the revisions in the registration of the BPC's petrochemical project;

(b) in refusing to furnish the petitioner with copies of BPC's application for registration and its supporting papers in violation of the
Government's policy of transparency;

(c) in approving the change in the site of BPC's petrochemical plant from Bataan to Batangas in violation of PD Nos. 949 and 1803
which establishes Lamao, Limay, Bataan as the "petrochemical industrial zone;"

(d) in approving the change in feedstock from naphtha only, to naphtha and/or lpg; and

(e) in showing gross partiality for BPC.

This Court is not concerned with the economic, social, and political aspects of this case for it does not possess the necessary technology
and scientific expertise to determine whether the transfer of the proposed BPC petrochemical complex from Bataan to Batangas and the
change of fuel from naphtha only to "naphtha and/or LPG" will be best for the project and for our country. This Court is not about to delve
into the economics and politics of this case. It is concerned simply, with the alleged violation of due process and the alleged extra limitation
of power and discretion on the part of the public respondents in approving the transfer of the project to Batangas without giving due notice
and an opportunity to be heard to the vocal opponents of that move.

The Omnibus Investments Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 226) of July 16, 1987 expressly declares it to be the policy of the State "to
accelerate the sound development of the national economy ... by encouraging private Filipino and foreign investments in industry,
agriculture, forestry, mining, tourism and other sectors of the economy." For this purpose, the Code mandates the holding of "consultations
with affected communities whenever necessary" (Art. 2, subpar. 2 of the Omnibus Investments Code). Correspondingly, Art. 33 provides
that: whenever necessary, the Board, through the People's Economic Councils, shall consult the communities affected on the acceptability
of locating the registered enterprise within their community."

The Code also requires the "publication of applications for registration," hence, the payment of publication and other necessary fees ...
prior to the processing and approval of such applications (Art. 7, subpar. 3, Omnibus Investments Code).

As provided by the law, the BPC's application for registration as a "new export producer of ethylene, polyethylene and polypropylene was
published in the "Philippine Daily Inquirer" issue of December 21, 1987. The notice invited "any person with valid objections to or pertinent
comments on the above-mentioned application ... (to file) his/her comments/objections in writing with the BOI within one (1) week from
the date of this publication" (Annex 1, public respondent's Comment).

Since the BPC's amended application (particularly the change of location from Bataan to Batangas) was in effect a new application, it
should have been published so that whoever may have any objection to the transfer may be heard. The BOI's failure to publish such
notice and to hold a hearing on the amended application deprived the oppositors, like the petitioner, of due process and amounted to a
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the BOI.

There is no merit in the public respondents' contention that the petitioner has "no legal interest" in the matter of the transfer of the BPC
petrochemical plant from the province of Bataan to the province of Batangas. The provision in the Investments Code requiring publication
of the investor's application for registration in the BOI is implicit recognition that the proposed investment or new industry is a matter of
public concern on which the public has a right to be heard. And, when the BOI approved BPC's application to establish its petrochemical
plant in Limay, Bataan, the inhabitants of that province, particularly the affected community in Limay, and the petitioner herein as the duly
elected representative of the Second District of Bataan acquired an interest in the project which they have a right to protect. Their interest
in the establishment of the petrochemical plant in their midst is actual, real, and vital because it win affect not only their economic life but
even the air they will breathe.

Hence, they have a right to be heard or "be consulted" on the proposal to transfer it to another site for the Investments Code does require
that the "affected communities" should be consulted. While this Court may not require BOI to decide that controversy in a particular way,
we may require the Board to comply with the law and its own rules and regulations prescribing such notice and hearing.

This Court in the cases of Tañada vs. Tuvera, 136 SCRA 27 and Legaspi vs. Civil Service Commission, 150 SCRA 530, has recognized
a citizen's interest and personality to procure the enforcement of a public duty and to bring an action to compel the performance of that
duty. In this case, what the petitioner seeks is for the Board of Investments to hold a hearing where he may present evidence in support
of his opposition to the BPC's amended application for registration (which amounts to a new application) since one of the effects of the
amendment is to change the site of its petrochemical plant from Bataan to Batangas.

The petitioner's request for xerox copies of certain documents flied by BPC together with its original application, and its amended
application for registration with BOI, may not be denied, as it is the constitutional right of a citizen to have access to information on matters
of public concern under Article III, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution. The confidentiality of the records on BPC's applications is not
absolute for Article 81 of the Omnibus Investments Code provides that they may be disclosed "upon the consent of the applicant, or on
orders of a court of competent jurisdiction.' As a matter of fact, a xerox copy of BPC's position paper dated April 10, 1989, in support of
its request for the transfer of its petrochemical plant to Batangas, has been submitted to this Court as Annex A of its memorandum.

However, just as the confidentiality of an applicant's records in the BOI is not absolute, neither is the petitioner's right of access to them
unlimited. The Constitution does not open every door to any and all information. "Under the Constitution, access to official records, papers,
etc. is subject to limitations as may be provided by law (Art. III, Sec. 7, second sentence). The law may exempt certain types of information
from public scrutiny (Legaspi vs. Civil Service Commission, 150 SCRA 530). The trade secrets and confidential, commercial and financial
information of the applicant BPC, and matters affecting national security are excluded from the privilege.

At the oral argument on the petitioner's application for a preliminary action on July 4, 1989, the Court was informed that if the BOI will
hold a hearing on the BPC's amended application, the petitioner will be able to present his evidence in opposition to the transfer of the
project to Batangas within a period of one week. After such hearing, the BOI shall render its decision which the petitioner may appeal to
the President as provided in Article 36 of the Investments Code. Her decision will be final and unappealable.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is granted. The Board of Investments is ordered: (1) to publish the amended application for
registration of the Bataan Petrochemical Corporation, (2) to allow the petitioner to have access to its records on the original and amended
applications for registration, as a petrochemical manufacturer, of the respondent Bataan Petrochemical Corporation, excluding, however,
privileged papers containing its trade secrets and other business and financial information, and (3) to set for hearing the petitioner's
opposition to the amended application in order that he may present at such hearing all the evidence in his possession in support of his
opposition to the transfer of the site of the BPC petrochemical plant to Batangas province. The hearing shall not exceed a period of ten
(10) days from the date fixed by the BOI, notice of which should be served by personal service to the petitioner through counsel, at least
three (3) days in advance. The hearings may be held from day to day for a period of ten (10) days without postponements. The petition
for a writ of prohibition or preliminary injunction is denied. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

3. LEGASPI v CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

FACTS: The fundamental right of the people to information on matters of public concern is invoked in this special civil action for mandamus
instituted by petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi against the Civil Service Commission. The respondent had earlier denied Legaspi's request
for information on the civil service eligibilities of certain persons employed as sanitarians in the Health Department of Cebu City. These
government employees, Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, had allegedly represented themselves as civil service eligibles who
passed the civil service examinations for sanitarians.

Claiming that his right to be informed of the eligibilities of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, is guaranteed by the Constitution, and
that he has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy to acquire the information, petitioner prays for the issuance of the extraordinary
writ of mandamus to compel the respondent Commission to disclose said information.

This is not the first tune that the writ of mandamus is sought to enforce the fundamental right to information. The same remedy was
resorted to in the case of Tanada et. al. vs. Tuvera et. al., (G.R. No. L-63915, April 24,1985,136 SCRA 27) wherein the people's right to
be informed under the 1973 Constitution (Article IV, Section 6) was invoked in order to compel the publication in the Official Gazette of
various presidential decrees, letters of instructions and other presidential issuances. Prior to the recognition of the right in said Constitution
the statutory right to information provided for in the Land Registration Act (Section 56, Act 496, as amended) was claimed by a newspaper
editor in another mandamus proceeding, this time to demand access to the records of the Register of Deeds for the purpose of gathering
data on real estate transactions involving aliens (Subido vs. Ozaeta, 80 Phil. 383 [1948]).

The constitutional right to information on matters of public concern first gained recognition in the Bill of Rights, Article IV, of the 1973
Constitution, which states:
Sec. 6. 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 acts, transactions, or decisions, shall be afforded the citizen subject to such limitations as may be provided
by law.

The foregoing provision has been retained and the right therein provided amplified in Article III, Sec. 7 of the 1987 Constitution with the
addition of the phrase, "as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development." The new provision reads:
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 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 stations as may be provided by law.
These constitutional provisions are self-executing. They supply the rules by means of which the right to information may be enjoyed
(Cooley, A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations 167 [1927]) by guaranteeing the right and mandating the duty to afford access to
sources of information. Hence, the fundamental right therein recognized may be asserted by the people upon the ratification of the
constitution without need for any ancillary act of the Legislature. (Id. at, p. 165) What may be provided for by the Legislature are reasonable
conditions and limitations upon the access to be afforded which must, of necessity, be consistent with the declared State policy of full
public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest (Constitution, Art. 11, Sec. 28). However, it cannot be overemphasized that
whatever limitation may be prescribed by the Legislature, the right and the duty under Art. III Sec. 7 have become operative and
enforceable by virtue of the adoption of the New Charter. Therefore, the right may be properly invoked in a mandamus proceeding such
as this one.
The Solicitor General interposes procedural objections to Our giving due course to this Petition. He challenges the petitioner's standing
to sue upon the ground that the latter does not possess any clear legal right to be informed of the civil service eligibilities of the government
employees concerned. He calls attention to the alleged failure of the petitioner to show his actual interest in securing this particular
information. He further argues that there is no ministerial duty on the part of the Commission to furnish the petitioner with the information
he seeks.

ISSUE: WON Legaspi's request for information on the civil service eligibilities of certain persons employed as sanitarians in the Health
Department of Cebu City should be approved.

RULING: 1. To be given due course, a Petition for mandamus must have been instituted by a party aggrieved by the alleged inaction of
any tribunal, corporation, board or person which unlawfully excludes said party from the enjoyment of a legal right. (Ant;-Chinese League
of the Philippines vs. Felix, 77 Phil. 1012 [1947]). The petitioner in every case must therefore be an "aggrieved party" in the sense that
he possesses a clear legal right to be enforced and a direct interest in the duty or act to be performed.

In the case before Us, the respondent takes issue on the personality of the petitioner to bring this suit. It is asserted that, the instant
Petition is bereft of any allegation of Legaspi's actual interest in the civil service eligibilities of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, At
most there is a vague reference to an unnamed client in whose behalf he had allegedly acted when he made inquiries on the subject
(Petition, Rollo, p. 3).

But what is clear upon the face of the Petition is that the petitioner has firmly anchored his case upon the right of the people to information
on matters of public concern, which, by its very nature, is a public right. It has been held that:
* * * when the question is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the people
are regarded as the real party in interest and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show that he has
any legal or special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution of the laws
* * * (Tanada et. al. vs. Tuvera, et. al., G.R. No. L- 63915, April 24, 1985, 136 SCRA 27, 36).

From the foregoing, it becomes apparent that when a mandamus proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the requirement of
personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that the petitioner is a citizen, and therefore, part of the general "public" which possesses
the right.

The Court had opportunity to define the word "public" in the Subido case, supra, when it held that even those who have no direct or
tangible interest in any real estate transaction are part of the "public" to whom "(a)ll records relating to registered lands in the Office of
the Register of Deeds shall be open * * *" (Sec. 56, Act No. 496, as amended). In the words of the Court:

* * * "Public" is a comprehensive, all-inclusive term. Properly construed, it embraces every person. To say that only those who have a
present and existing interest of a pecuniary character in the particular information sought are given the right of inspection is to make an
unwarranted distinction. *** (Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra at p. 387).

The petitioner, being a citizen who, as such is clothed with personality to seek redress for the alleged obstruction of the exercise of the
public right. We find no cogent reason to deny his standing to bring the present suit.

2. For every right of the people recognized as fundamental, there lies a corresponding duty on the part of those who govern, to respect
and protect that right. That is the very essence of the Bill of Rights in a constitutional regime. Only governments operating under
fundamental rules defining the limits of their power so as to shield individual rights against its arbitrary exercise can properly claim to be
constitutional (Cooley, supra, at p. 5). Without a government's acceptance of the limitations imposed upon it by the Constitution in order
to uphold individual liberties, without an acknowledgment on its part of those duties exacted by the rights pertaining to the citizens, the
Bill of Rights becomes a sophistry, and liberty, the ultimate illusion.

In recognizing the people's right to be informed, both the 1973 Constitution and the New Charter expressly mandate the duty of the State
and its agents to afford access to official records, documents, papers and in addition, government research data used as basis for policy
development, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. The guarantee has been further enhanced in the New Constitution
with the adoption of a policy of full public disclosure, this time "subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law," in Article 11, Section
28 thereof, to wit:

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. (Art. 11, Sec. 28).
In the Tanada case, supra, the constitutional guarantee was bolstered by what this Court declared as an imperative duty of the
government officials concerned to publish all important legislative acts and resolutions of a public nature as well as all executive orders
and proclamations of general applicability. We granted mandamus in said case, and in the process, We found occasion to expound briefly
on the nature of said duty:
* * * That duty must be enforced if the Constitutional right of the people to be informed on matters of public concern is to be given
substance and reality. The law itself makes a list of what should be published in the Official Gazette. Such listing, to our mind, leaves
respondents with no discretion whatsoever as to what must be in included or excluded from such publication. (Tanada v. Tuvera, supra, at
39). (Emphasis supplied).

The absence of discretion on the part of government agencia es in allowing the examination of public records, specifically, the records in
the Office of the Register of Deeds, is emphasized in Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra:

Except, perhaps when it is clear that the purpose of the examination is unlawful, or sheer, idle curiosity, we do not believe it is the duty
under the law of registration officers to concern themselves with the motives, reasons, and objects of the person seeking access to the
records. It is not their prerogative to see that the information which the records contain is not flaunted before public gaze, or that scandal
is not made of it. If it be wrong to publish the contents of the records, it is the legislature and not the officials having custody thereof which
is called upon to devise a remedy. *** (Subido v. Ozaeta, supra at 388). (Emphasis supplied).

It is clear from the foregoing pronouncements of this Court that government agencies are without discretion in refusing disclosure of, or
access to, information of public concern. This is not to lose sight of the reasonable regulations which may be imposed by said agencies
in custody of public records on the manner in which the right to information may be exercised by the public. In the Subido case, We
recognized the authority of the Register of Deeds to regulate the manner in which persons desiring to do so, may inspect, examine or
copy records relating to registered lands. However, the regulations which the Register of Deeds may promulgate are confined to:
* * * prescribing the manner and hours of examination to the end that damage to or loss of, the records may be avoided, that undue
interference with the duties of the custodian of the books and documents and other employees may be prevented, that the right of other
persons entitled to make inspection may be insured * * * (Subido vs. Ozaeta, 80 Phil. 383, 387)
Applying the Subido ruling by analogy, We recognized a similar authority in a municipal judge, to regulate the manner of inspection by
the public of criminal docket records in the case of Baldoza vs. Dimaano (Adm. Matter No. 1120-MJ, May 5, 1976, 71 SCRA 14). Said
administrative case was filed against the respondent judge for his alleged refusal to allow examination of the criminal docket records in
his sala. Upon a finding by the Investigating Judge that the respondent had allowed the complainant to open and view the subject records,
We absolved the respondent. In effect, We have also held that the rules and conditions imposed by him upon the manner of examining
the public records were reasonable.

In both the Subido and the Baldoza cases, We were emphatic in Our statement that the authority to regulate the manner of examining
public records does not carry with it the power to prohibit. A distinction has to be made between the discretion to refuse outright the
disclosure of or access to a particular information and the authority to regulate the manner in which the access is to be afforded. The first
is a limitation upon the availability of access to the information sought, which only the Legislature may impose (Art. III, Sec. 6, 1987
Constitution). The second pertains to the government agency charged with the custody of public records. Its authority to regulate access
is to be exercised solely to the end that damage to, or loss of, public records may be avoided, undue interference with the duties of said
agencies may be prevented, and more importantly, that the exercise of the same constitutional right by other persons shall be assured
(Subido vs. Ozaetal supra).

Thus, while the manner of examining public records may be subject to reasonable regulation by the government agency in custody
thereof, the duty to disclose the information of public concern, and to afford access to public records cannot be discretionary on the part
of said agencies. Certainly, its performance cannot be made contingent upon the discretion of such agencies. Otherwise, the enjoyment
of the constitutional right may be rendered nugatory by any whimsical exercise of agency discretion. The constitutional duty, not being
discretionary, its performance may be compelled by a writ of mandamus in a proper case.
But the constitutional guarantee to information on matters of public concern is not absolute. It does not open every door to any and all
information. Under the Constitution, access to official records, papers, etc., are "subject to limitations as may be provided by law" (Art. III,
Sec. 7, second sentence). The law may therefore exempt certain types of information from public scrutiny, such as those affecting national
security (Journal No. 90, September 23, 1986, p. 10; and Journal No. 91, September 24, 1986, p. 32, 1986 Constitutional Commission).
It follows that, in every case, the availability of access to a particular public record must be circumscribed by the nature of the information
sought, i.e., (a) being of public concern or one that involves public interest, and, (b) not being exempted by law from the operation of the
constitutional guarantee. The threshold question is, therefore, whether or not the information sought is of public interest or public concern.

In determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern there is no rigid test which can be applied. "Public concern" like
"public interest" is a term that eludes exact definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want to
know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen.
In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine in a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance, as it
relates to or affects the public.

The public concern invoked in the case of Tanada v. Tuvera, supra, was the need for adequate notice to the public of the various laws
which are to regulate the actions and conduct of citizens. In Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra, the public concern deemed covered by the statutory
right was the knowledge of those real estate transactions which some believed to have been registered in violation of the Constitution.

The information sought by the petitioner in this case is the truth of the claim of certain government employees that they are civil service
eligibles for the positions to which they were appointed. The Constitution expressly declares as a State policy that:
Appointments in the civil service shall be made only according to merit and fitness to be determined, as far as practicable, and except as
to positions which are policy determining, primarily confidential or highly technical, by competitive examination. (Art. IX, B, Sec. 2.[2]).

Public office being a public trust, [Const. Art. XI, Sec. 1] it is the legitimate concern of citizens to ensure that government positions requiring
civil service eligibility are occupied only by persons who are eligibles. Public officers are at all times accountable to the people even as to
their eligibilities for their respective positions.
b. But then, it is not enough that the information sought is of public interest. For mandamus to lie in a given case, the information must
not be among the species exempted by law from the operation of the constitutional guarantee.
In the instant, case while refusing to confirm or deny the claims of eligibility, the respondent has failed to cite any provision in the Civil
Service Law which would limit the petitioner's right to know who are, and who are not, civil service eligibles. We take judicial notice of the
fact that the names of those who pass the civil service examinations, as in bar examinations and licensure examinations for various
professions, are released to the public. Hence, there is nothing secret about one's civil service eligibility, if actually possessed. Petitioner's
request is, therefore, neither unusual nor unreasonable. And when, as in this case, the government employees concerned claim to be
civil service eligibles, the public, through any citizen, has a right to verify their professed eligibilities from the Civil Service Commission.

The civil service eligibility of a sanitarian being of public concern, and in the absence of express limitations under the law upon access to
the register of civil service eligibles for said position, the duty of the respondent Commission to confirm or deny the civil service eligibility
of any person occupying the position becomes imperative. Mandamus, therefore lies.
WHEREFORE, the Civil Service Commission is ordered to open its register of eligibles for the position of sanitarian, and to confirm or
deny, the civil service eligibility of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, for said position in the Health Department of Cebu City, as
requested by the petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi.

4.) CHAVEZ v PCGG

FACTS: Petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, as “taxpayer, citizen and former government official who initiated the prosecution of the Marcoses
and their cronies who committed unmitigated plunder of the public treasury and the systematic subjugation of the country’s economy,”
alleges that what impelled him to bring this action were several news reports[2] bannered in a number of broadsheets sometime in
September 1997. These news items referred to (1) the alleged discovery of billions of dollars of Marcos assets deposited in various
coded accounts in Swiss banks; and (2) the reported execution of a compromise, between the government (through PCGG) and the
Marcos heirs, on how to split or share these assets.

Petitioner, invoking his constitutional right to information[3] and the correlative duty of the state to disclose publicly all its transactions
involving the national interest,[4] demands that respondents make public any and all negotiations and agreements pertaining to PCGG’s
task of recovering the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. He claims that any compromise on the alleged billions of ill-gotten wealth involves an
issue of “paramount public interest,” since it has a “debilitating effect on the country’s economy” that would be greatly prejudicial to the
national interest of the Filipino people. Hence, the people in general have a right to know the transactions or deals being contrived and
effected by the government.
Respondents, on the other hand, do not deny forging a compromise agreement with the Marcos heirs. They claim, though, that petitioner’s
action is premature, because there is no showing that he has asked the PCGG to disclose the negotiations and the Agreements. And
even if he has, PCGG may not yet be compelled to make any disclosure, since the proposed terms and conditions of the Agreements
have not become effective and binding.

Respondents further aver that the Marcos heirs have submitted the subject Agreements to the Sandiganbayan for its approval in Civil
Case No. 141, entitled Republic v. Heirs of Ferdinand E. Marcos, and that the Republic opposed such move on the principal grounds that
(1) said Agreements have not been ratified by or even submitted to the President for approval, pursuant to Item No. 8 of the General
Agreement; and (2) the Marcos heirs have failed to comply with their undertakings therein, particularly the collation and submission of an
inventory of their assets. The Republic also cited an April 11, 1995 Resolution in Civil Case No. 0165, in which the Sandiganbayan
dismissed a similar petition filed by the Marcoses’ attorney-in-fact.

Furthermore, then President Fidel V. Ramos, in his May 4, 1998 Memorandum[5] to then PCGG Chairman Magtanggol Gunigundo,
categorically stated:

“This is to reiterate my previous position embodied in the Palace Press Release of 6 April 1995 that I have not authorized you to approve
the Compromise Agreements of December 28, 1993 or any agreement at all with the Marcoses, and would have disapproved them had
they been submitted to me.

“The Full Powers of Attorney of March 1994 and July 4, 1994, did not authorize you to approve said Agreements, which I reserve for
myself as President of the Republic of the Philippines.”

ISSUE: Petitioner asks this Court to define the nature and the extent of the people’s constitutional right to information on matters of public
concern. Does this right include access to the terms of government negotiations prior to their consummation or conclusion? May the
government, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), be required to reveal the proposed terms of a
compromise agreement with the Marcos heirs as regards their alleged ill-gotten wealth? More specifically, are the “General Agreement”
and “Supplemental Agreement,” both dated December 28, 1993 and executed between the PCGG and the Marcos heirs, valid and
binding?
(1) Whether or not this Court could require the PCGG to disclose to the public the details of any agreement, perfected or not, with the
Marcoses;

RULING:
Public Disclosure of Terms of Any Agreement, Perfected or Not

In seeking the public disclosure of negotiations and agreements pertaining to a compromise settlement with the Marcoses as regards
their alleged ill-gotten wealth, petitioner invokes the following provisions of the Constitution:

“Sec. 7 [Article III]. 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 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.”

“Sec. 28 [Article II]. 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.”

Respondents’ opposite view is that the above constitutional provisions refer to completed and operative official acts, not to those still
being considered. As regards the assailed Agreements entered into by the PCGG with the Marcoses, there is yet no right of action that
has accrued, because said Agreements have not been approved by the President, and the Marcos heirs have failed to fulfill their express
undertaking therein. Thus, the Agreements have not become effective. Respondents add that they are not aware of any ongoing
negotiation for another compromise with the Marcoses regarding their alleged ill-gotten assets.

The “information” and the “transactions” referred to in the subject provisions of the Constitution have as yet no defined scope and extent.
There are no specific laws prescribing the exact limitations within which the right may be exercised or the correlative state duty may be
obliged. However, the following are some of the recognized restrictions: (1) national security matters and intelligence information, (2)
trade secrets and banking transactions, (3) criminal matters, and (4) other confidential information.

Limitations to the Right: (1) National Security Matters

At the very least, this jurisdiction recognizes the common law holding that there is a governmental privilege against public disclosure with
respect to state secrets regarding military, diplomatic and other national security matters.[24] But where there is no need to protect such
state secrets, the privilege may not be invoked to withhold documents and other information,[25] provided that they are examined “in strict
confidence” and given “scrupulous protection.”

Likewise, 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.[26]

(2) Trade Secrets and Banking Transactions

The drafters of the Constitution also unequivocally affirmed that, aside from national security matters and intelligence information, trade
or industrial secrets (pursuant to the Intellectual Property Code[27] and other related laws) as well as banking transactions (pursuant to
the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act[28]) are also exempted from compulsory disclosure.[29]

(3) Criminal Matters

Also excluded are classified law enforcement matters, such as those relating to the apprehension, the prosecution and the detention of
criminals,[30] which courts may not inquire into prior to such arrest, detention and prosecution. Efforts at effective law enforcement would
be seriously jeopardized by free public access to, for example, police information regarding rescue operations, the whereabouts of
fugitives, or leads on covert criminal activities.

(4) Other Confidential Information

The Ethical Standards Act[31] further prohibits public officials and employees from using or divulging “confidential or classified information
officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public.”[32]
Other acknowledged limitations to information access include diplomatic correspondence, closed door Cabinet meetings and executive
sessions of either house of Congress, as well as the internal deliberations of the Supreme Court.[33]

Scope: Matters of Public Concern and Transactions Involving Public Interest

In Valmonte v. Belmonte Jr.,[34] the Court emphasized that the information sought must be “matters of public concern,” access to which
may be limited by law. Similarly, the state policy of full public disclosure extends only to “transactions involving public interest” and
may also be “subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law.” As to the meanings of the terms “public interest” and “public concern,”
the Court, in Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission,[35] elucidated:

“In determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern there is no rigid test which can be applied. ‘Public concern’
like ‘public interest’ is a term that eludes exact definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want
to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen.
In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine on a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance, as it
relates to or affects the public.”

Considered a public concern in the above-mentioned case was the “legitimate concern of citizens to ensure that government positions
requiring civil service eligibility are occupied only by persons who are eligibles.” So was the need to give the general public adequate
notification of various laws that regulate and affect the actions and conduct of citizens, as held in Tañada. Likewise did the “public nature
of the loanable funds of the GSIS and the public office held by the alleged borrowers (members of the defunct Batasang Pambansa)”
qualify the information sought in Valmonte as matters of public interest and concern. In Aquino-Sarmiento v. Morato,[36] the Court also
held that official acts of public officers done in pursuit of their official functions are public in character; hence, the records pertaining to
such official acts and decisions are within the ambit of the constitutional right of access to public records.

Under Republic Act No. 6713, public officials and employees are mandated to “provide information on their policies and procedures in
clear and understandable language, [and] ensure openness of information, public consultations and hearings whenever appropriate x x
x,” except when “otherwise provided by law or when required by the public interest.” In particular, the law mandates free public access,
at reasonable hours, to the annual performance reports of offices and agencies of government and government-owned or controlled
corporations; and the statements of assets, liabilities and financial disclosures of all public officials and employees.[37]

In general, writings coming into the hands of public officers in connection with their official functions must be accessible to the public,
consistent with the policy of transparency of governmental affairs. This principle is aimed at affording the people an opportunity to
determine whether those to whom they have entrusted the affairs of the government are honestly, faithfully and competently performing
their functions as public servants.[38] Undeniably, the essence of democracy lies in the free flow of thought;[39] but thoughts and ideas
must be well-informed so that the public would gain a better perspective of vital issues confronting them and, thus, be able to criticize as
well as participate in the affairs of the government in a responsible, reasonable and effective manner. Certainly, it is by ensuring an
unfettered and uninhibited exchange of ideas among a well-informed public that a government remains responsive to the changes desired
by the people.[40]

The Nature of the Marcoses’ Alleged Ill-Gotten Wealth

We now come to the immediate matter under consideration.

Upon the departure from the country of the Marcos family and their cronies in February 1986, the new government headed by President
Corazon C. Aquino was specifically mandated to “[r]ecover ill-gotten properties amassed by the leaders and supporters of the previous
regime and [to] protect the interest of the people through orders of sequestration or freezing of assets or accounts.”[41] Thus, President
Aquino’s very first executive orders (which partook of the nature of legislative enactments) dealt with the recovery of these alleged ill-
gotten properties.

Executive Order No. 1, promulgated on February 28, 1986, only two (2) days after the Marcoses fled the country, created the PCGG
which was primarily tasked to assist the President in the recovery of vast government resources allegedly amassed by former President
Marcos, his immediate family, relatives and close associates both here and abroad.

Under Executive Order No. 2, issued twelve (12) days later, all persons and entities who had knowledge or possession of ill-gotten assets
and properties were warned and, under pain of penalties prescribed by law, prohibited from concealing, transferring or dissipating them
or from otherwise frustrating or obstructing the recovery efforts of the government.

On May 7, 1986, another directive (EO No. 14) was issued giving additional powers to the PCGG which, taking into account the overriding
considerations of national interest and national survival, required it to achieve expeditiously and effectively its vital task of recovering ill-
gotten wealth.

With such pronouncements of our government, whose authority emanates from the people, there is no doubt that the recovery of the
Marcoses’ alleged ill-gotten wealth is a matter of public concern and imbued with public interest.[42] We may also add that “ill-gotten
wealth,” by its very nature, assumes a public character. Based on the aforementioned Executive Orders, “ill-gotten wealth” refers to
assets and properties purportedly acquired, directly or indirectly, by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives and close
associates through or as a result of their improper or illegal use of government funds or properties; or their having taken undue advantage
of their public office; or their use of powers, influences or relationships, “resulting in their unjust enrichment and causing grave damage
and prejudice to the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.” Clearly, the assets and properties referred to supposedly
originated from the government itself. To all intents and purposes, therefore, they belong to the people. As such, upon reconveyance
they will be returned to the public treasury, subject only to the satisfaction of positive claims of certain persons as may be adjudged by
competent courts. Another declared overriding consideration for the expeditious recovery of ill-gotten wealth is that it may be used for
national economic recovery.

We believe the foregoing disquisition settles the question of whether petitioner has a right to respondents’ disclosure of any agreement
that may be arrived at concerning the Marcoses’ purported ill-gotten wealth.

Access to Information on Negotiating Terms

But does the constitutional provision likewise guarantee access to information regarding ongoing negotiations or proposals prior to the
final agreement? This same clarification was sought and clearly addressed by the constitutional commissioners during their deliberations,
which we quote hereunder:[43]
“MR. SUAREZ. And when we say ‘transactions’ which should be distinguished from contracts, agreements, or treaties or whatever, does
the Gentleman refer to the steps leading to the consummation of the contract, or does he refer to the contract itself?

“MR. OPLE. The ‘transactions’ used here, I suppose, is generic and, therefore, it can cover both steps leading to a contract, and already
a consummated contract, Mr. Presiding Officer.

“MR. SUAREZ. This contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction?

“MR. OPLE. Yes, subject to reasonable safeguards on the national interest.”

Considering the intent of the framers of the Constitution, we believe that it is incumbent upon the PCGG and its officers, as well as other
government representatives, to disclose sufficient public information on any proposed settlement they have decided to take up with the
ostensible owners and holders of ill-gotten wealth. Such information, though, must pertain to definite propositions of the government, not
necessarily to intra-agency or inter-agency recommendations or communications[44] during the stage when common assertions are still
in the process of being formulated or are in the “exploratory” stage. There is a need, of course, to observe the same restrictions on
disclosure of information in general, as discussed earlier -- such as on matters involving national security, diplomatic or foreign relations,
intelligence and other classified information.
From the foregoing disquisition, it is crystal clear to the Court that the General and Supplemental Agreements, both dated December 28,
1993, which the PCGG entered into with the Marcos heirs, are violative of the Constitution and the laws aforementioned.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.

5.) Gonzales v NARVASA

FACTS: In this petition for prohibition and mandamus filed on December 9, 1999, petitioner Ramon A. Gonzales, in his capacity as a
citizen and taxpayer, assails the constitutionality of the creation of the Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform (PCCR) and of
the positions of presidential consultants, advisers and assistants. Petitioner asks this Court to enjoin the PCCR and the presidential
consultants, advisers and assistants from acting as such, and to enjoin Executive Secretary Ronaldo B. Zamora from enforcing their
advice and recommendations. In addition, petitioner seeks to enjoin the Commission on Audit from passing in audit expenditures for the
PCCR and the presidential consultants, advisers and assistants. Finally, petitioner prays for an order compelling respondent Zamora to
furnish petitioner with information on certain matters.

On January 28, 2000, respondent Hon. Andres R. Narvasa, impleaded in his capacity as Chairman of the PCCR, filed his Comment to
the Petition. The rest of the respondents, who are being represented in this case by the Solicitor General, filed their Comment with this
Court on March 7, 2000. Petitioner then filed a Consolidated Reply on April 24, 2000, whereupon this case was considered submitted for
decision.

I. Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform

The Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform (PCCR) was created by President Estrada on November 26, 1998 by virtue of
Executive Order No. 43 (E.O. No. 43) in order to study and recommend proposed amendments and/or revisions to the 1987 Constitution,
and the manner of implementing the same.[1] Petitioner disputes the constitutionality of the PCCR on two grounds. First, he contends
that it is a public office which only the legislature can create by way of a law.[2] Secondly, petitioner asserts that by creating such a body
the President is intervening in a process from which he is totally excluded by the Constitution the amendment of the fundamental
charter.[3]

It is alleged by respondents that, with respect to the PCCR, this case has become moot and academic. We agree.

An action is considered moot when it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because the issues involved have become academic
or dead.[4] Under E.O. No. 43, the PCCR was instructed to complete its task on or before June 30, 1999.[5] However, on February 19,
1999, the President issued Executive Order No. 70 (E.O. No. 70), which extended the time frame for the completion of the commissions
work, viz

SECTION 6. Section 8 is hereby amended to read as follows:

Time Frame. The Commission shall commence its work on 01 January 1999 and complete the same on or before 31 December 1999.
The Commission shall submit its report and recommendations to the President within fifteen (15) working days from 31 December 1999.

The PCCR submitted its recommendations to the President on December 20, 1999 and was dissolved by the President on the same day.
It had likewise spent the funds allotted to it.[6] Thus, the PCCR has ceased to exist, having lost its raison detre. Subsequent events have
overtaken the petition and the Court has nothing left to resolve.

The staleness of the issue before us is made more manifest by the impossibility of granting the relief prayed for by petitioner. Basically,
petitioner asks this Court to enjoin the PCCR from acting as such.[7] Clearly, prohibition is an inappropriate remedy since the body sought
to be enjoined no longer exists. It is well established that prohibition is a preventive remedy and does not lie to restrain an act that is
already fait accompli.[8] At this point, any ruling regarding the PCCR would simply be in the nature of an advisory opinion, which is
definitely beyond the permissible scope of judicial power.

In addition to the mootness of the issue, petitioners lack of standing constitutes another obstacle to the successful invocation of judicial
power insofar as the PCCR is concerned.

ISSUE: The question in standing is whether a party has alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure
that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult
constitutional questions.[9] In assailing the constitutionality of E.O. Nos. 43 and 70, petitioner asserts his interest as a citizen and taxpayer.

RULING:
Petitioner does not have the personality to raise this issue before the Court. First of all, he has not proven that he has sustained or is in
danger of sustaining any injury as a result of the appointment of such presidential advisers. Secondly, petitioner has not alleged the
necessary facts so as to enable the Court to determine if he possesses a taxpayers interest in this particular issue. Unlike the PCCR
which was created by virtue of an executive order, petitioner does not allege by what official act, whether it be by means of an executive
order, administrative order, memorandum order, or otherwise, the President attempted to create the positions of presidential advisers,
consultants and assistants. Thus, it is unclear what act of the President petitioner is assailing. In support of his allegation, petitioner
merely annexed a copy of the Philippine Government Directory (Annex C) listing the names and positions of such presidential consultants,
advisers and assistants to his petition. However, appointment is obviously not synonymous with creation. It would be improvident for this
Court to entertain this issue given the insufficient nature of the allegations in the Petition.

III. Right to Information

Finally, petitioner asks us to issue a writ of mandamus ordering Executive Secretary Ronaldo B. Zamora to answer his letter (Annex D)
dated October 4, 1999 requesting for the names of executive officials holding multiple positions in government, copies of their
appointments, and a list of the recipients of luxury vehicles seized by the Bureau of Customs and turned over to Malacanang.[27]

The right to information is enshrined in Section 7 of the Bill of Rights which provides that

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 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.

Under both the 1973[28] and 1987 Constitution, this is a self-executory provision which can be invoked by any citizen before the courts.
This was our ruling in Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission,[29] wherein the Court classified the right to information as a public right and
when a [m]andamus proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the requirement of personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact
that the petitioner is a citizen, and therefore, part of the general public which possesses the right. However, Congress may provide for
reasonable conditions upon the access to information. Such limitations were embodied in Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise knows as the
Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which took effect on March 25, 1989. This law provides that,
in the performance of their duties, all public officials and employees are obliged to respond to letters sent by the public within fifteen (15)
working days from receipt thereof and to ensure the accessibility of all public documents for inspection by the public within reasonable
working hours, subject to the reasonable claims of confidentiality.[30]

Elaborating on the significance of the right to information, the Court said in Baldoza v. Dimaano[31] that [t]he incorporation of this right in
the Constitution is a recognition of the fundamental role of free exchange of information in a democracy. There can be no realistic
perception by the public of the nations problems, nor a meaningful democratic decisionmaking if they are denied access to information of
general interest. Information is needed to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of the times. The information to
which the public is entitled to are those concerning matters of public concern, a term which embrace[s] a broad spectrum of subjects
which the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally arouse the
interest of an ordinary citizen. In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine in a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is
of interest or importance, as it relates to or affects the public.[32]

Thus, we agree with petitioner that respondent Zamora, in his official capacity as Executive Secretary, has a constitutional and statutory
duty to answer petitioners letter dealing with matters which are unquestionably of public concern that is, appointments made to public
offices and the utilization of public property. With regard to petitioners request for copies of the appointment papers of certain officials,
respondent Zamora is obliged to allow the inspection and copying of the same subject to the reasonable limitations required for the orderly
conduct of official business.

WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed, with the exception that respondent Zamora is ordered to furnish petitioner with the
information requested.

6.) VALMONTE v BELMONTE

FACTS:
On June 20, 1986, apparently not having yet received the reply of the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) Deputy General
Counsel, petitioner Valmonte wrote respondent another letter, saying that for failure to receive a reply, "(W)e are now considering
ourselves free to do whatever action necessary within the premises to pursue our desired objective in pursuance of public interest." [Rollo,
p. 8.]

On June 26, 1986, Valmonte, joined by the other petitioners, filed the instant suit.

On July 19, 1986, the Daily Express carried a news item reporting that 137 former members of the defunct interim and regular Batasang
Pambansa, including ten (10) opposition members, were granted housing loans by the GSIS [Rollo, p. 41.]

Separate comments were filed by respondent Belmonte and the Solicitor General. After petitioners filed a consolidated reply, the petition
was given due course and the parties were required to file their memoranda. The parties having complied, the case was deemed submitted
for decision.

In his comment respondent raises procedural objections to the issuance of a writ of mandamus, among which is that petitioners have
failed to exhaust administrative remedies.

Respondent claims that actions of the GSIS General Manager are reviewable by the Board of Trustees of the GSIS. Petitioners, however,
did not seek relief from the GSIS Board of Trustees. It is therefore asserted that since administrative remedies were not exhausted, then
petitioners have no cause of action.

ISSUE: whether or not they are entitled to the documents sought, by virtue of their constitutional right to information. Hence, it
is argued that this case falls under one of the exceptions to the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies

RULING:
This is not the first time that the Court is confronted with a controversy directly involving the constitutional right to information. In Tañada
v. Tuvera, G.R. No. 63915, April 24,1985, 136 SCRA 27 and in the recent case of Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 72119,
May 29, 1987,150 SCRA 530, the Court upheld the people's constitutional right to be informed of matters of public interest and ordered
the government agencies concerned to act as prayed for by the petitioners.

The pertinent provision under the 1987 Constitution is Art. 111, Sec. 7 which states:

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 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.

The right of access to information was also recognized in the 1973 Constitution, Art. IV Sec. 6 of which provided:
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 acts, transactions, or decisions, shall be afforded the citizen subject to such limitations as may be provided
by law.

An informed citizenry with access to the diverse currents in political, moral and artistic thought and data relative to them, and the free
exchange of ideas and discussion of issues thereon, is vital to the democratic government envisioned under our Constitution. The
cornerstone of this republican system of government is delegation of power by the people to the State. In this system, governmental
agencies and institutions operate within the limits of the authority conferred by the people. Denied access to information on the inner
workings of government, the citizenry can become prey to the whims and caprices of those to whom the power had been delegated. The
postulate of public office as a public trust, institutionalized in the Constitution (in Art. XI, Sec. 1) to protect the people from abuse of
governmental power, would certainly be were empty words if access to such information of public concern is denied, except und er
limitations prescribed by implementing legislation adopted pursuant to the Constitution.

Petitioners are practitioners in media. As such, they have both the right to gather and the obligation to check the accuracy of information
the disseminate. For them, the freedom of the press and of speech is not only critical, but vital to the exercise of their professions. The
right of access to information ensures that these freedoms are not rendered nugatory by the government's monopolizing pertinent
information. For an essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the
government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that
the government may perceive and be responsive to the people's will. Yet, this open dialogue can be effective only to the extent that the
citizenry is informed and thus able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the participants in the discussion are aware of the issues
and have access to information relating thereto can such bear fruit.

The right to information is an essential premise of a meaningful right to speech and expression. But this is not to say that the right to
information is merely an adjunct of and therefore restricted in application by the exercise of the freedoms of speech and of the press. Far
from it. The right to information goes hand-in-hand with the constitutional policies of full public disclosure * and honesty in the public
service. ** It is meant to enhance the widening role of the citizenry in governmental decision-making as well as in checking abuse in
government.

Yet, like all the constitutional guarantees, the right to information is not absolute. As stated in Legaspi, the people's right to information is
limited to "matters of public concern," and is further "subject to such limitations as may be provided by law." Similarly, the State's policy
of full disclosure is limited to "transactions involving public interest," and is "subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law."

Hence, before mandamus may issue, it must be clear that the information sought is of "public interest" or "public concern," and is not
exempted by law from the operation of the constitutional guarantee [Legazpi v. Civil Service Commission, supra, at p. 542.]

The Court has always grappled with the meanings of the terms "public interest" and "public concern".

In sum, the public nature of the loanable funds of the GSIS and the public office held by the alleged borrowers make the information
sought clearly a matter of public interest and concern.

A second requisite must be met before the right to information may be enforced through mandamus proceedings, viz., that the information
sought must not be among those excluded by law.

Respondent maintains that a confidential relationship exists between the GSIS and its borrowers. It is argued that a policy of confidentiality
restricts the indiscriminate dissemination of information.

Yet, respondent has failed to cite any law granting the GSIS the privilege of confidentiality as regards the documents subject of this
petition. His position is apparently based merely on considerations of policy. The judiciary does not settle policy issues. The Court can
only declare what the law is, and not what the law should be. Under our system of government, policy issues are within the domain of the
political branches of the government, and of the people themselves as the repository of all State power.

Respondent however contends that in view of the right to privacy which is equally protected by the Constitution and by existing laws, the
documents evidencing loan transactions of the GSIS must be deemed outside the ambit of the right to information.

There can be no doubt that right to privacy is constitutionally protected. When the information requested from the government
intrudes into the privacy of a citizen, a potential conflict between the rights to information and to privacy may arise. However, the competing
interests of these rights need not be resolved in this case. Apparent from the above-quoted statement of the Court in Morfe is that the
right to privacy belongs to the individual in his private capacity, and not to public and governmental agencies like the GSIS. Moreover,
the right cannot be invoked by juridical entities like the GSIS. As held in the case of Vassar College v. Loose Wills Biscuit Co. [197 F. 982
(1912)], a corporation has no right of privacy in its name since the entire basis of the right to privacy is an injury to the feelings and
sensibilities of the party and a corporation would have no such ground for relief.

Neither can the GSIS through its General Manager, the respondent, invoke the right to privacy of its borrowers. The right is
purely personal in nature nd hence may be invoked only by the person whose privacy is claimed to be violated.

In fine, petitioners are entitled to access to the documents evidencing loans granted by the GSIS, subject to reasonable regulations that
the latter may promulgate relating to the manner and hours of examination, to the end that damage to or loss of the records may be
avoided, that undue interference with the duties of the custodian of the records may be prevented and that the right of other persons
entitled to inspect the records may be insured [Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, supra at p. 538, quoting Subido v. Ozaeta, 80 Phil.
383, 387.] The petition, as to the second and third alternative acts sought to be done by petitioners, is meritorious.

However, the same cannot be said with regard to the first act sought by petitioners, i.e., "to furnish petitioners the list of the names of the
Batasang Pambansa members belonging to the UNIDO and PDP-Laban who were able to secure clean loans immediately before the
February 7 election thru the intercession/marginal note of the then First Lady Imelda Marcos."

Although citizens are afforded the right to information and, pursuant thereto, are entitled to "access to official records," the Constitution
does not accord them a right to compel custodians of official records to prepare lists, abstracts, summaries and the like in their desire to
acquire information on matters of public concern.

It must be stressed that it is essential for a writ of mandamus to issue that the applicant has a well-defined, clear and certain legal right
to the thing demanded and that it is the imperative duty of defendant to perform the act required. The corresponding duty of the respondent
to perform the required act must be clear and specific [Lemi v. Valencia, G.R. No. L-20768, November 29,1968,126 SCRA 203; Ocampo
v. Subido, G.R. No. L-28344, August 27, 1976, 72 SCRA 443.] The request of the petitioners fails to meet this standard, there being no
duty on the part of respondent to prepare the list requested.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby granted and respondent General Manager of the Government Service Insurance System is
ORDERED to allow petitioners access to documents and records evidencing loans granted to Members of the former Batasang
Pambansa, as petitioners may specify, subject to reasonable regulations as to the time and manner of inspection, not incompatible with
this decision, as the GSIS may deem necessary.

7.) AQUINO v MORATO

FACTS:
At issue in this petition is the citizen's right of access to official records as guaranteed by the constitution.

In February 1989, petitioner, herself a member of respondent Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), wrote its
records officer requesting that she be allowed to examine the board's records pertaining to the voting slips accomplished by the individual
board members after a review of the movies and television productions. It is on the basis of said slips that films are either banned, cut or
classified accordingly.

Acting on the said request, the records officer informed petitioner that she has to secure prior clearance from respondent Manuel Morato,
as chairman of MTRCB, to gain access to the records sought to be examined.

Petitioner's request was eventually denied by respondent Morato on the ground that whenever the members of the board sit in judgment
over a film, their decisions as reflected in the individual voting slips partake the nature of conscience votes and as such, are purely and
completely private and personal. It is the submission of respondents that the individual voting slips is the exclusive property of the member
concerned and anybody who wants access thereto must first secure his (the member's) consent, otherwise, a request therefor may be
legally denied.

Petitioner argues, on the other hand, that the records she wishes to examine are public in character and other than providing for
reasonable conditions regulating the manner and hours of examination, respondents Morato and the classification board have no authority
to deny any citizen seeking examination of the board's records.

On February 27, 1989, respondent Morato called an executive meeting of the MTRCB to discuss, among others, the issue raised by
petitioner. In said meeting, seventeen (17) members of the board voted to declare their individual voting records as classified documents
which rendered the same inaccessible to the public without clearance from the chairman. Thereafter, respondent Morato denied
petitioner's request to examine the voting slips. However, it was only much later, i.e., on July 27, 1989, that respondent Board issued
Resolution No. 10-89 which declared as confidential, private and personal, the decision of the reviewing committee and the voting slips
of the members.

Petitioner brought the matter to the attention of the Executive Secretary, which in turn, referred the same to respondent Morato for
appropriate comment.

Another incident which gave rise to this petition occurred in a board meeting held on June 22, 1989. In that meeting, respondent Morato
told the board that he has ordered some deletions on the movie "Mahirap ang Magmahal" notwithstanding the fact that said movie was
earlier approved for screening by the Board with classification "R-18 without cuts". He explained that his power to unilaterally change the
decision of the Review Committee is authorized by virtue of MTRCB Resolution No. 88-1-25 (dated June 22,1988) which allows the
chairman of the board "to downgrade a film (already) reviewed especially those which are controversial."

Petitioner informed the Board, however, that respondent Morato possesses no authority to unilaterally reverse a decision of the review
committee under PD 1986 (Creating the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board).

After the matter was referred by the Deputy Executive Secretary to the Justice Secretary, the latter opined that PD 1896 does not vest
respondent Morato any authority to unilaterally reverse the decision of the review committee but declined to comment on the
constitutionality of Res. No. 10-89 on the ground that the resolution thereof is a judicial prerogative (Rollo, pp. 38-42).

The Justice Secretary's opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, respondent Morato opted to ignore it.

ISSUE: MORATO AND THE MTRCB BY APPROVING AND ENFORCING RESOLUTION NO. 10-89 ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE
OF DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO LACK OF JURISDICTION BECAUSE THE SAME VIOLATES ARTICLE III SECTION 7 OF THE
1987 CONSTITUTION.

RULING:
In this regard, We find respondents' refusal to allow petitioner to examine the records of respondent MTRCB, pertaining to the decisions
of the review committee as well as the individual voting slips of its members, as violative of petitioner's constitutional right of access to
public records. More specifically, Sec. 7, Art. III of the Constitution provides that:

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 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. (emphasis supplied)

As We held in Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission (150 SCRA 530 [1987]), this constitutional provision is self-executory and supplies
"the rules by means of which the right to information may be enjoyed (Cooley, A Treatise on Constitutional Limitations 167 [1927]) by
guaranteeing the right and mandating the duty to afford access to sources of information. Hence, the fundamental right therein recognized
may be asserted by the people upon the ratification of the constitution without need for any ancillary act of the Legislature (Id. at 165).
What may be provided for by the Legislature are reasonable conditions and limitations upon the access to be afforded which must, of
necessity, be consistent with the declared State Policy of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest (Constitution,
Art. II, Sec. 28)." (See also Tañada v. Tuvera, 136 SCRA 27 [1985]; Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr., 170 SCRA 256 [1989]).

Respondents contend, however, that what is rendered by the members of the board in reviewing films and reflected in their individual
voting slip is their individual vote of conscience on the motion picture or television program and as such, makes the individual voting slip
purely private and personal; an exclusive property of the member concerned.

The term private has been defined as "belonging to or concerning, an individual person, company, or interest"; whereas, public means
"pertaining to, or belonging to, or affecting a nation, state, or community at large" (People v. Powell, 274 NW 372 [1937]). May the
decisions of respondent Board and the individual members concerned, arrived at in an official capacity, be considered private? Certainly
not. As may be gleaned from the decree (PD 1986) creating the respondent classification board, there is no doubt that its very existence
is public is character; it is an office created to serve public interest. It being the case, respondents can lay no valid claim to privacy. The
right to privacy belongs to the individual acting in his private capacity and not to a governmental agency or officers tasked with, and acting
in, the discharge of public duties (See Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr., supra.) There can be no invasion of privacy in the case at bar since
what is sought to be divulged is a product of action undertaken in the course of performing official functions. To declare otherwise would
be to clothe every public official with an impregnable mantle of protection against public scrutiny for their official acts.

Further, the decisions of the Board and the individual voting slips accomplished by the members concerned are acts made pursuant to
their official functions, and as such, are neither personal nor private in nature but rather public in character. They are, therefore, public
records access to which is guaranteed to the citizenry by no less than the fundamental law of the land. Being a public right, the exercise
thereof cannot be made contingent on the discretion, nay, whim and caprice, of the agency charged with the custody of the official records
sought to be examined. The constitutional recognition of the citizen's right of access to official records cannot be made dependent upon
the consent of the members of the board concerned, otherwise, the said right would be rendered nugatory. As stated by this Court in
Subido v. Ozaeta (80 Phil. 383 [1948]):

Except, perhaps when it is clear that the purpose of the examinations is unlawful, or sheer, idle curiosity, we do not believe it is the duty
under the law of registration officers to concern themselves with the motives, reasons, and objects of the person seeking access to the
records. It is not their prerogative to see that the information which the records contain is not flaunted before public gaze, or that scandal
is not made of it. If it be wrong to publish the contents of the records, it is the legislature and not the officials having custody thereof which
is called upon to devise a remedy. (emphasis supplied)

It is significant to point out that this Court in the 1948 case of Subido v. Ozaeta, supra, upheld the right to information based on the
statutory right then provided in Sec. 56 of the Land Registration Act (Act 496, as amended). Consequently, We see no cogent reason
why said right, now constitutionalized, should be given less efficacy and primacy than what the fundament law mandates.

The Court is not unaware of RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) which provides, among
others, certain exceptions as regards the availability of official records or documents to the requesting public, e.g., closed door Cabinet
sessions and deliberations of this Court. Suffice it to state, however, that the exceptions therein enumerated find no application in the
case at bar. Petitioner request is not concerned with the deliberations of respondent Board but with its documents or records made after
a decision or order has been rendered. Neither will the examination involve disclosure of trade secrets or matters pertaining to national
security which would otherwise limit the right of access to official records (See Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, supra).

It is at once apparent from a reading of the above provisions of PD 1986 that respondent Morato, as Chairman of the MTRCB, is not
vested with any authority to reverse or overrule by himself alone a decision rendered by a committee which conducted a review of motion
pictures or television programs.

The power to classify motion pictures into categories such as "General Patronage" or "For Adults Only" is vested with the respondent
Board itself and not with the Chairman thereof (Sec. 3 [e], PD 1986). As Chief Executive Officer, respondent Morato's function as
Chairman of the Board calls for the implementation and execution, not modification or reversal, of the decisions or orders of the latter
(Sec. 5 [a], Ibid.). The power of classification having been reposed by law exclusively with the respondent Board, it has no choice but to
exercise the same as mandated by law, i.e., as a collegial body, and not transfer it elsewhere or discharge said power through the
intervening mind of another. Delegata potestas non potest delegari — a delegated power cannot be delegated. And since the act of
classification involves an exercise of the Board's discretionary power with more reason the Board cannot, by way of the assailed
resolution, delegate said power for it is an established rule in administrative law that discretionary authority cannot be a subject of
delegation.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. Resolution Nos. 10-89 and 88-1-25 issued by the respondent Board are hereby
declared null and void.

8.) ECHEGARAY v SOJ

FACTS:
In their Supplemental Motion to Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, public respondents attached a copy of House Resolution No. 629
introduced by Congressman Golez entitled "Resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representative to reject any move to review
Republic Act No. 7659 which provided for the re-imposition of death penalty, notifying the Senate, the Judiciary and the Executive
Department of the position of the House of Representative on this matter, and urging the President to exhaust all means under the law
to immediately implement the death penalty law." The Resolution was concurred in by one hundred thirteen (113) congressman.
In their Consolidated Comment, petitioner contends: (1) the stay order. . . is within the scope of judicial power and duty and does not
trench on executive powers nor on congressional prerogatives; (2) the exercise by this Court of its power to stay execution was
reasonable; (3) the Court did not lose jurisdiction to address incidental matters involved or arising from the petition; (4) public respondents
are estopped from challenging the Court's jurisdiction; and (5) there is no certainty that the law on capital punishment will not be repealed
or modified until Congress convenes and considers all the various resolutions and bills filed before it.

Prefatorily, the Court likes to emphasize that the instant motions concern matters that are not incidents in G.R. No. 117472, where the
death penalty was imposed on petitioner on automatic review of his conviction by this Court. The instant motions were filed in this case,
G.R. No. 132601, where the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8177 (Lethal Injection Law) and its implementing rules and regulations was
assailed by petitioner. For this reason, the Court in its Resolution of January 4, 1999 merely noted the Motion to Set Aside of Rodessa
"Baby" R. Echegaray dated January 7, 1999 and Entry of Appearance of her counsel dated January 5, 1999. Clearly, she has no legal
standing to intervene in the case at bar, let alone the fact that the interest of the State is properly represented by the Solicitor General.

ISSUE:

RULING:
First. We do not agree with the sweeping submission of the public respondents that this Court lost its jurisdiction over the case at bar and
hence can no longer restrain the execution of the petitioner. Obviously, public respondents are invoking the rule that final judgments can
no longer be altered in accord with the principle that "it is just as important that there should be a place to end as there should be a place
to begin litigation." 1 To start with, the Court is not changing even a comma of its final Decision. It is appropriate to examine with precision
the metes and bounds of the Decision of this Court that became final.

The records will show that before the Entry of Judgment, the Secretary of Justice, the Honorable Serafin Cuevas, filed with this Court on
October 21, 1998 a Compliance where he submitted the Amended Rules and Regulations implementing R.A. No. 8177 in compliance
with our Decision. On October 28, 1998, Secretary Cuevas submitted a Manifestation informing the Court that he has caused the
publication of the said Amended Rules and Regulations as required by the Administrative Code. It is crystalline that the Decision of this
Court that became final and unalterable mandated: (1) that R.A. No. 8177 is not unconstitutional; (2) that sections 17 and 19 of the Rules
and Regulations to Implement R.A. No. 8177 are invalid, and (3) R.A. No. 8177 cannot be enforced and implemented until sections 17
and 19 of the Rules and Regulations to Implement R.A. No. 8177 are amended. It is also daylight clear that this Decision was not altered
a whit by this Court. Contrary to the submission of the Solicitor General, the rule on finality of judgment cannot divest this Court of its
jurisdiction to execute and enforce the same judgment.

The more disquieting dimension of the submission of the public respondents that this Court has no jurisdiction to restrain the execution
of petitioner is that it can diminish the independence of the judiciary. Since the implant of republicanism in our soil, our courts have been
conceded the jurisdiction to enforce their final decisions. In accord with this unquestioned jurisdiction, this Court promulgated rules
concerning pleading, practice and procedure which, among others, spelled out the rules on execution of judgments. These rules are all
predicated on the assumption that courts have the inherent, necessary and incidental power to control and supervise the process of
execution of their decisions. Rule 39 governs execution, satisfaction and effects of judgments in civil cases. Rule 120 governs judgments
in criminal cases. It should be stressed that the power to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and procedure was granted by our
Constitutions to this Court to enhance its independence, for in the words of Justice Isagani Cruz "without independence and integrity,
courts will lose that popular trust so essential to the maintenance of their vigor as champions of justice." 9 Hence, our Constitutions
continuously vested this power to this Court for it enhances its independence. Under the 1935 Constitution, the power of this Court to
promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure was granted but it appeared to be co-existent with legislative power for it
was subject to the power of Congress to repeal, alter or supplement.

The rule making power of this Court was expanded. This Court for the first time was given the power to promulgate rules concerning the
protection and enforcement of constitutional rights. The Court was also granted for the first time the power to disapprove rules of procedure
of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies. But most importantly, the 1987 Constitution took away the power of Congress to repeal, alter,
or supplement rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure. In fine, the power to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and
procedure is no longer shared by this Court with Congress, more so with the Executive. If the manifest intent of the 1987 Constitution is
to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, it is inutile to urge, as public respondents do, that this Court has no jurisdiction to control
the process of execution of its decisions, a power conceded to it and which it has exercised since time immemorial.

To be sure, it is too late in the day for public respondents to assail the jurisdiction of this Court to control and supervise the implementation
of its decision in the case at bar. As aforestated, our Decision became final and executory on November 6, 1998. The records reveal that
after November 6, 1998, or on December 8, 1998, no less than the Secretary of Justice recognized the jurisdiction of this Court by filing
a Manifestation and Urgent Motion to compel the trial judge, the Honorable Thelma A. Ponferrada, RTC, Br. 104, Quezon City to provide
him ". . . a certified true copy of the Warrant of Execution dated November 17, 1998 bearing the designated execution day of death convict
Leo Echegaray and allow (him) to reveal or announce the contents thereof, particularly the execution date fixed by such trial court to the
public when requested." The relevant portions of the Manifestation and Urgent Motion filed by the Secretary of Justice beseeching this
Court "to provide the appropriate relief" state:

xxx xxx xxx

5. Instead of filing a comment on Judge Ponferrada's Manifestation however, herein respondent is submitting the instant
Manifestation and Motion (a) to stress, inter alia, that the non-disclosure of the date of execution deprives herein respondent of vital
information necessary for the exercise of his statutory powers, as well as renders nugatory the constitutional guarantee that recognizes
the people's right to information of public concern, and (b) to ask this Honorable Court to provide the appropriate relief.

6. The non-disclosure of the date of execution deprives herein respondent of vital information necessary for the exercise of his
power of supervision and control over the Bureau of Corrections pursuant to Section 39, Chapter 8, Book IV of the Administrative Code
of 1987, in relation to Title III, Book IV of such Administrative Code, insofar as the enforcement of Republic Act No. 8177 and the Amended
Rules and Regulations to Implement Republic Act No. 8177 is concerned and for the discharge of the mandate of seeing to it that laws
and rules relative to the execution of sentence are faithfully observed.

7. On the other hand, the willful omission to reveal the information about the precise day of execution limits the exercise by the
President of executive clemency powers pursuant to Section 19, Article VII (Executive Department) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution
and Article 81 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, which provides that the death sentence shall be carried out "without prejudice to
the exercise by the President of his executive powers at all times." (Emphasis supplied) For instance, the President cannot grant reprieve,
i.e., postpone the execution of a sentence to a day certain (People v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56, 110 [1937]) in the absence of a precise date to
reckon with. The exercise of such clemency power, at this time, might even work to the prejudice of the convict and defeat the purpose
of the Constitution and the applicable statute as when the date at execution set by the President would be earlier than that designated by
the court.

8. Moreover, the deliberate non-disclosure of information about the date of execution to herein respondent and the public violates
Section 7, Article III (Bill of Rights) and Section 28, Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies) of the 1987 Philippine
Constitution which read:

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 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.

Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all
transactions involving public interest.

9. The "right to information" provision is self-executing. It supplies "the rules by means of which the right to information may be
enjoyed (Cooley, A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations, 167 [1972]) by guaranteeing the right and mandating the duty to afford
access to sources of information. Hence, the fundamental right therein recognized may be asserted by the people upon the ratification of
the Constitution without need for any ancillary act of the Legislature (Id., at p. 165) What may be provided for by the Legislature are
reasonable conditions and limitations upon the access to be afforded which must, of necessity, be consistent with the declared State
policy of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest (Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 28). However, it cannot be
overemphasized that whatever limitation may be prescribed by the Legislature, the right and the duty under Art. III, Sec. 7 have become
operative and enforceable by virtue of the adoption of the New Charter." (Decision of the Supreme Court En Banc in Legaspi v. Civil
Service Commission, 150 SCRA 530, 534-535 [1987].

The same motion to compel Judge Ponferrada to reveal the date of execution of petitioner Echegaray was filed by his counsel, Atty.
Theodore Te, on December 7, 1998. He invoked his client's right to due process and the public's right to information. The Solicitor General,
as counsel for public respondents, did not oppose petitioner's motion on the ground that this Court has no more jurisdiction over the
process of execution of Echegaray. This Court granted the relief prayed for by the Secretary of Justice and by the counsel of the petitioner
in its Resolution of December 15, 1998. There was not a whimper of protest from the public respondents and they are now estopped from
contending that this Court has lost its jurisdiction to grant said relief. The jurisdiction of this Court does not depend on the convenience of
litigants.

A last note. In 1922, the famous Clarence Darrow predicted that ". . . the question of capital punishment had been the subject of endless
discussion and will probably never be settled so long as men believe in punishment." 19 In our clime and time when heinous crimes
continue to be unchecked, the debate on the legal and moral predicates of capital punishment has been regrettably blurred by
emotionalism because of the unfaltering faith of the pro and anti-death partisans on the right and righteousness of their postulates. To be
sure, any debate, even if it is no more than an exchange of epithets is healthy in a democracy. But when the debate deteriora tes to
discord due to the overuse of words that wound, when anger threatens to turn the majority rule to tyranny, it is the especial duty of this
Court to assure that the guarantees of the Bill of Rights to the minority fully hold. As Justice Brennan reminds us ". . . it is the very purpose
of the Constitution — and particularly the Bill of Rights — to declare certain values transcendent, beyond the reach of temporary political
majorities." 20 Man has yet to invent a better hatchery of justice than the courts. It is a hatchery where justice will bloom only when we
can prevent the roots of reason to be blown away by the winds of rage. The flame of the rule of law cannot be ignited by rage, especially
the rage of the mob which is the mother of unfairness. The business of courts in rendering justice is to be fair and they can pass their
litmus test only when they can be fair to him who is momentarily the most hated by society. 21
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court grants the public respondents' Urgent Motion for Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion to Urgent
Motion for Reconsideration and lifts the Temporary Restraining Order issued in its Resolution of January 4, 1999.
The Court also orders respondent trial court judge (Hon. Thelma A. Ponferrada, Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, Branch 104) to set
anew the date for execution of the convict/petitioner in accordance with applicable provisions of law and the Rules of Court, without further
delay.

9.) BANTAY v COMELEC

FACTS:
On January 12, 2007, the Comelec issued Resolution No. 7804 prescribing rules and regulations to govern the filing of manifestation of
intent to participate and submission of names of nominees under the party-list system of representation in connection with the May 14,
2007 elections. Pursuant thereto, a number of organized groups filed the necessary manifestations. Among these and ostensibly
subsequently accredited by the Comelec to participate in the 2007 elections - are 14 party-list groups, namely: (1) BABAE KA; (2) ANG
KASANGGA; (3) AKBAY PINOY; (4) AKSA; (5) KAKUSA; (6) AHON PINOY; (7) OFW PARTY; (8) BIYAHENG PINOY; (9) ANAD; (10)
AANGAT ANG KABUHAYAN; (11) AGBIAG; (12) BANAT; (13) BANTAY LIPAD; (14) AGING PINOY. Petitioners BA-RA 7941 and UP-
LR presented a longer, albeit an overlapping, list.

Subsequent events saw BA-RA 7941 and UP-LR filing with the Comelec an Urgent Petition to Disqualify, thereunder seeking to disqualify
the nominees of certain party-list organizations. Both petitioners appear not to have the names of the nominees sought to be disqualified
since they still asked for a copy of the list of nominees. Docketed in the Comelec as SPA Case No 07-026, this urgent petition has yet to
be resolved.

Meanwhile, reacting to the emerging public perception that the individuals behind the aforementioned 14 party-list groups do not, as they
should, actually represent the poor and marginalized sectors, petitioner Rosales, in G.R. No. 177314, addressed a letter[5] dated March
29, 2007 to Director Alioden Dalaig of the Comelecs Law Department requesting a list of that groups nominees. Another letter[6] of the
same tenor dated March 31, 2007 followed, this time petitioner Rosales impressing upon Atty. Dalaig the particular urgency of the subject
request.

Neither the Comelec Proper nor its Law Department officially responded to petitioner Rosales requests. The April 13, 2007 issue of the
Manila Bulletin, however, carried the front-page banner headline COMELEC WONT BARE PARTY-LIST NOMINEES,[7] with the following
sub-heading: Abalos says party-list polls not personality oriented.

On April 16, 2007, Atty. Emilio Capulong, Jr. and ex-Senator Jovito R. Salonga, in their own behalves and as counsels of petitioner
Rosales, forwarded a letter[8] to the Comelec formally requesting action and definitive decision on Rosales earlier plea for information
regarding the names of several party-list nominees. Invoking their constitutionally-guaranteed right to information, Messrs. Capulong and
Salonga at the same time drew attention to the banner headline adverted to earlier, with a request for the Comelec, collectively or
individually, to issue a formal clarification, either confirming or denying the banner headline and the alleged statement of Chairman
Benjamin Abalos, Sr. xxx Evidently unbeknownst then to Ms. Rosales, et al., was the issuance of Comelec en banc Resolution 07-0724[9]
under date April 3, 2007 virtually declaring the nominees names confidential and in net effect denying petitioner Rosales basic disclosure
request.
According to petitioner Rosales, she was able to obtain a copy of the April 3, 2007 Resolution only on April 21, 2007. She would
later state the observation that the last part of the Order empowering the Law Department to implement this resolution and reply to all
letters inquiring on the party-list nominees is apparently a fool-proof bureaucratic way to distort and mangle the truth and give the
impression that the antedated Resolution of April 3, 2007 is the final answer to the two formal requests of Petitioners. [10]

The herein consolidated petitions are cast against the foregoing factual setting, albeit petitioners BA-RA 7941 and UP-LR appear not to
be aware, when they filed their petition on April 18, 2007, of the April 3, 2007 Comelec Resolution 07-0724.

To start off, petitioners BA-RA 7941 and UP-LR would have the Court cancel the accreditation accorded by the Comelec to the respondent
party-list groups named in their petition on the ground that these groups and their respective nominees do not appear to be qualified

The Court is unable to grant the desired plea of petitioners BA-RA 7941 and UP-LR for cancellation of accreditation on the
grounds thus advanced in their petition. For, such course of action would entail going over and evaluating the qualities of the sectoral
groups or parties in question, particularly whether or not they indeed represent marginalized/underrepresented groups. The exercise
would require the Court to make a factual determination, a matter which is outside the office of judicial review by way of special civil action
for certiorari. In certiorari proceedings, the Court is not called upon to decide factual issues and the case must be decided on the
undisputed facts on record.[13] The sole function of a writ of certiorari is to address issues of want of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion
and does not include a review of the tribunals evaluation of the evidence. [14]

Not lost on the Court of course is the pendency before the Comelec of SPA Case No. 07-026 in which petitioners BA-RA 7941 and UP-
LR themselves seek to disqualifythe nominees of the respondent party-list groups named in their petition.

Petitioners BA-RA 7941s and UP-LRs posture that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it granted the assailed
accreditations without simultaneouslydetermining the qualifications of their nominees is without basis. Nowhere in R.A. No. 7941 is there
a requirement that the qualification of a party-list nominee be determined simultaneously with the accreditation of an organization. And
as aptly pointed out by private respondent Babae Para sa Kaunlaran (Babae Ka), Section 4 of R.A. No. 7941 requires a petition for
registration of a party-list organization to be filed with the Comelec not later than ninety (90) days before the election whereas the
succeeding Section 8 requires the submission not later than forty-five (45) days before the election of the list of names whence party-list
representatives shall be chosen.

ISSUE: Whether respondent Comelec, by refusing to reveal the names of the nominees of the various party-list groups, has violated
the right to information and free access to documents as guaranteed by the Constitution;

RULING:

While the Comelec did not explicitly say so, it based its refusal to disclose the names of the nominees of subject party-list groups on
Section 7 of R.A. 7941. This provision, while commanding the publication and the posting in polling places of a certified list of party-list
system participating groups, nonetheless tells the Comelec not to show or include the names of the party-list nominees in said certified
list.
Insofar as the disclosure issue is concerned, the petitions are impressed with merit.
Assayed against the non-disclosure stance of the Comelec and the given rationale therefor is the right to information enshrined in the
self-executory[15] Section 7, Article III of the Constitution.

The right to information is a public right where the real parties in interest are the public, or the citizens to be precise. And for every right
of the people recognized as fundamentallies a corresponding duty on the part of those who govern to respect and protect that right. This
is the essence of the Bill of Rights in a constitutional regime. [16] Without a governments acceptance of the limitations upon it by the
Constitution in order to uphold individual liberties, without an acknowledgment on its part of those duties exacted by the rights pertaining
to the citizens, the Bill of Rights becomes a sophistry.

By weight of jurisprudence, any citizen can challenge any attempt to obstruct the exercise of his right to information and may seek its
enforcement by mandamus.[17] And since every citizen by the simple fact of his citizenship possesses the right to be informed,
objections on ground of locus standi are ordinarily unavailing.[18]
Like all constitutional guarantees, however, the right to information and its companion right of access to official records are not absolute.
As articulated in Legaspi, supra, the peoples right to know is limited to matters of public concern and is further subject to such limitation
as may be provided by law. Similarly, the policy of full disclosure is confined to transactions involving public interest and is subject to
reasonable conditions prescribed by law. Too, there is also the need of preserving a measure of confidentiality on some matters, such as
military, trade, banking and diplomatic secrets or those affecting national security. [19]

The terms public concerns and public interest have eluded precise definition. But both terms embrace, to borrow from Legaspi, a broad
spectrum of subjects which the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters
naturally whet the interest of an ordinary citizen. At the end of the day, it is for the courts to determine, on a case to case basis, whether
or not at issue is of interest or importance to the public.

If, as in Legaspi, it was the legitimate concern of a citizen to know if certain persons employed as sanitarians of a health department of
a city are civil service eligibles, surely the identity of candidates for a lofty elective public office should be a matter of highest public
concern and interest.

As may be noted, no national security or like concerns is involved in the disclosure of the names of the nominees of the party-list groups
in question. Doubtless, the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in refusing the legitimate demands of the petitioners for a list
of the nominees of the party-list groups subject of their respective petitions. Mandamus, therefore, lies.
The last sentence of Section 7 of R.A. 7941 reading: [T]he names of the party-list nominees shall not be shown on the certified
list is certainly not a justifying card for the Comelec to deny the requested disclosure. To us, the prohibition imposed on the Comelec
under said Section 7 is limited in scope and duration, meaning, that it extends only to the certified list which the same provision requires
to be posted in the polling places on election day. To stretch the coverage of the prohibition to the absolute is to read into the law
something that is not intended. As it were, there is absolutely nothing in R.A. No. 7941 that prohibits the Comelec from disclosing or even
publishing through mediums other than the Certified List the names of the party-list nominees. The Comelec obviously misread the limited
non-disclosure aspect of the provision as an absolute bar to public disclosure before the May 2007 elections. The interpretation thus
given by the Comelec virtually tacks an unconstitutional dimension on the last sentence of Section 7 of R.A. No. 7941.

It has been repeatedly said in various contexts that the people have the right to elect their representatives on the basis of an informed
judgment. Hence the need for voters to be informed about matters that have a bearing on their choice. The ideal cannot be achieved in
a system of blind voting, as veritably advocated in the assailed resolution of the Comelec. The Court, since the 1914 case of Gardiner v.
Romulo,[21] has consistently made it clear that it frowns upon any interpretation of the law or rules that would hinder in any way the free
and intelligent casting of the votes in an election.[22] So it must be here for still other reasons articulated earlier.

In all, we agree with the petitioners that respondent Comelec has a constitutional duty to disclose and release the names of the nominees
of the party-list groups named in the herein petitions.

WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 177271 is partly DENIED insofar as it seeks to nullify the accreditation of the respondents named
therein. However, insofar as it seeks to compel the Comelec to disclose or publish the names of the nominees of party-list groups, sectors
or organizations accredited to participate in the May 14, 2007 elections, the same petition and the petition in G.R. No.
177314 are GRANTED. Accordingly, the Comelec is hereby ORDERED to immediately disclose and release the names of the nominees
of the party-list groups, sectors or organizations accredited to participate in the May 14, 2007 party-list elections. The Comelec is
further DIRECTED to submit to the Court its compliance herewith within five (5) days from notice hereof.

10.) Akbayan v AQUINO

FACTS:
Petitioners non-government organizations, Congresspersons, citizens and taxpayers seek via the present petition for mandamus and
prohibition to obtain from respondents the full text of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) including the
Philippine and Japanese offers submitted during the negotiation process and all pertinent attachments and annexes thereto.

Petitioners Congressmen Lorenzo R. Taada III and Mario Joyo Aguja filed on January 25, 2005 House Resolution No. 551 calling for an
inquiry into the bilateral trade agreements then being negotiated by the Philippine government, particularly the JPEPA. The Resolution
became the basis of an inquiry subsequently conducted by the House Special Committee on Globalization (the House Committee) into
the negotiations of the JPEPA.
In the course of its inquiry, the House Committee requested herein respondent Undersecretary Tomas Aquino (Usec. Aquino), Chairman
of the Philippine Coordinating Committee created under Executive Order No. 213 (CREATION OF A PHILIPPINE COORDINATING
COMMITTEE TO STUDY THE FEASIBILITY OF THE JAPAN-PHILIPPINES ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT)[1] to study
and negotiate the proposed JPEPA, and to furnish the Committee with a copy of the latest draft of the JPEPA. Usec. Aquino did not heed
the request, however.

Congressman Aguja later requested for the same document, but Usec. Aquino, by letter of November 2, 2005, replied that the
Congressman shall be provided with a copy thereof once the negotiations are completed and as soon as a thorough legal review of the
proposed agreement has been conducted.

In a separate move, the House Committee, through Congressman Herminio G. Teves, requested Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to
furnish it with all documents on the subject including the latest draft of the proposed agreement, the requests and offers etc.[2] Acting on
the request, Secretary Ermita, by letter of June 23, 2005, wrote Congressman Teves as follows:

In its letter dated 15 June 2005 (copy enclosed), [the] D[epartment of] F[oreign] A[ffairs] explains that the Committees request to be
furnished all documents on the JPEPA may be difficult to accomplish at this time, since the proposed Agreement has been a work in
progress for about three years. A copy of the draft JPEPA will however be forwarded to the Committee as soon as the text thereof is
settled and complete. (Emphasis supplied)

Congressman Aguja also requested NEDA Director-General Romulo Neri and Tariff Commission Chairman Edgardo Abon, by letter of
July 1, 2005, for copies of the latest text of the JPEPA.

Chairman Abon replied, however, by letter of July 12, 2005 that the Tariff Commission does not have a copy of the documents being
requested, albeit he was certain that Usec. Aquino would provide the Congressman with a copy once the negotiation is complete d. And
by letter of July 18, 2005, NEDA Assistant Director-General Margarita R. Songco informed the Congressman that his request addressed
to Director-General Neri had been forwarded to Usec. Aquino who would be in the best position to respond to the request.

In its third hearing conducted on August 31, 2005, the House Committee resolved to issue a subpoena for the most recent draft of the
JPEPA, but the same was not pursued because by Committee Chairman Congressman Teves information, then House Speaker Jose de
Venecia had requested him to hold in abeyance the issuance of the subpoena until the President gives her consent to the disclosure of
the documents.[3]

Amid speculations that the JPEPA might be signed by the Philippine government within December 2005, the present petition was filed
on December 9, 2005.[4] The agreement was to be later signed on September 9, 2006 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Helsinki, Finland, following which the President endorsed it to the Senate for its concurrence
pursuant to Article VII, Section 21 of the Constitution. To date, the JPEPA is still being deliberated upon by the Senate.

The JPEPA, which will be the first bilateral free trade agreement to be entered into by the Philippines with another country in the event
the Senate grants its consent to it, covers a broad range of topics which respondents enumerate as follows: trade in goods, rules of origin,
customs procedures, paperless trading, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights, government procurement, movement
of natural persons, cooperation, competition policy, mutual recognition, dispute avoidance and settlement, improvement of the business
environment, and general and final provisions.[5]

While the final text of the JPEPA has now been made accessible to the public since September 11, 2006,[6] respondents do not dispute
that, at the time the petition was filed up to the filing of petitioners Reply when the JPEPA was still being negotiated the initial drafts
thereof were kept from public view.

Before delving on the substantive grounds relied upon by petitioners in support of the petition, the Court finds it necessary to first resolve
some material procedural issues.

ISSUE: the refusal of the government to disclose the documents bearing on the JPEPA negotiations violates their right to
information on matters of publicconcern[13] and contravenes other constitutional provisions on transparency, such as that on
the policy of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest.

RULING:
To be covered by the right to information, the information sought must meet the threshold requirement that it be a matter of public concern.
From the nature of the JPEPA as an international trade agreement, it is evident that the Philippine and Japanese offers submitted during
the negotiations towards its execution are matters of public concern. This, respondents do not dispute. They only claim that diplomatic
negotiations are covered by the doctrine of executive privilege, thus constituting an exception to the right to information and the policy
of full public disclosure.

It is well-established in jurisprudence that neither the right to information nor the policy of full public disclosure is absolute, there being
matters which, albeit of public concern or public interest, are recognized as privileged in nature.
The ground relied upon by respondents is thus not simply that the information sought involves a diplomatic matter, but that it
pertains to diplomatic negotiations then in progress.

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.
Applying the principles adopted in PMPF v. Manglapus, it is clear that while the final text of the JPEPA may not be kept perpetually
confidential since there should be ample opportunity for discussion before [a treaty] is approved the offers exchanged by the parties
during the negotiations continue to be privileged even after the JPEPA is published. It is reasonable to conclude that the Japanese
representatives submitted their offers with the understanding that historic confidentiality[27] would govern the same. Disclosing these
offers could impair the ability of the Philippines to deal not only with Japan but with other foreign governments in future negotiations.

A ruling that Philippine offers in treaty negotiations should now be open to public scrutiny would discourage future Philippine
representatives from frankly expressing their views during negotiations. While, on first impression, it appears wise to deter Philippine
representatives from entering into compromises, it bears noting that treaty negotiations, or any negotiation for that matter, normally involve
a process of quid pro quo, and oftentimes negotiators have to be willing to grant concessions in an area of lesser importance in
order to obtain more favorable terms in an area of greater national interest.
Indeed, by hampering the ability of our representatives to compromise, we may be jeopardizing higher national goals for the sake of
securing less critical ones.
Diplomatic negotiations, therefore, are recognized as privileged in this jurisdiction, the JPEPA negotiations constituting no exception. It
bears emphasis, however, that such privilege is only presumptive. For as Senate v. Ermita holds, recognizing a type of information as
privileged does not mean that it will be considered privileged in all instances.Only after a consideration of the context in which the claim
is made may it be determined if there is a public interest that calls for the disclosure of the desired information, strong enough to overcome
its traditionally privileged status.

Whether petitioners have established the presence of such a public interest shall be discussed later. For now, the Court shall first pass
upon the arguments raised by petitioners against the application of PMPF v. Manglapus to the present case.

Going back to the present case, the Court recognizes that the information sought by petitioners includes documents produced and
communicated by a party external to the Philippine government, namely, the Japanese representatives in the JPEPA negotiations, and
to that extent this case is closer to the factual circumstances of CIEL than those ofFulbright.
The privileged character accorded to diplomatic negotiations does not ipso facto lose all force and effect simply because the
same privilege is now being claimed under different circumstances. The probability of the claim succeeding in the new context might
differ, but to say that the privilege, as such, has no validity at all in that context is another matter altogether.

Without delving into petitioners assertions respecting the incompatibility hypothesis, the Court notes that the ruling in PMPF v. Manglapus
is grounded more on the nature of treaty negotiations as such than on a particular socio-political school of thought. If petitioners are
suggesting that the nature of treaty negotiations have so changed that [a]n ill-timed speech by one of the parties or a frank declaration of
the concession which are exacted or offered on both sides no longer lead[s] to widespread propaganda to block the negotiations, or that
parties in treaty negotiations no longer expect their communications to be governed by historic confidentiality, the burden is on them to
substantiate the same. This petitioners failed to discharge.

To clarify, there are at least two kinds of public interest that must be taken into account. One is the presumed public interest in favor of
keeping the subject information confidential, which is the reason for the privilege in the first place, and the other is the public interest in
favor of disclosure, the existence of which must be shown by the party asking for information

Petitioners go on to assert that the non-involvement of the Filipino people in the JPEPA negotiation process effectively results in the
bargaining away of their economic and property rights without their knowledge and participation, in violation of the due process clause of
the Constitution. They claim, moreover, that it is essential for the people to have access to the initial offers exchanged during the
negotiations since only through such disclosure can their constitutional right to effectively participate in decision-making be brought to life
in the context of international trade agreements.

AT ALL EVENTS, since it is not disputed that the offers exchanged by the Philippine and Japanese representatives have not been
disclosed to the public, the Court shall pass upon the issue of whether access to the documents bearing on them is, as petitioners claim,
essential to their right to participate in decision-making.

To recapitulate, petitioners demand to be furnished with a copy of the full text of the JPEPA has become moot and academic,
it having been made accessible to the public since September 11, 2006. As for their demand for copies of the Philippine and
Japanese offers submitted during the JPEPA negotiations, the same must be denied, respondents claim of executive privilege
being valid.

Diplomatic negotiations have, since the Court promulgated its Resolution in PMPF v. Manglapus on September 13, 1988, been
recognized as privileged in this jurisdiction and the reasons proffered by petitioners against the application of the ruling therein
to the present case have not persuaded the Court. Moreover, petitioners both private citizens and members of the House of
Representatives have failed to present a sufficient showing of need to overcome the claim of privilege in this case.

That the privilege was asserted for the first time in respondents Comment to the present petition, and not during the hearings
of the House Special Committee on Globalization, is of no moment, since it cannot be interpreted as a waiver of the privilege
on the part of the Executive branch.

For reasons already explained, this Decision shall not be interpreted as departing from the ruling in Senate v. Ermita that
executive privilege should be invoked by the President or through the Executive Secretary by order of the President.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.