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G.R. No. 80391. February 28, 1989.* development and social progress.

development and social progress.” At the same time, it relieves the central
government of the burden of managing local affairs and enables it to concentrate
SULTAN ALIMBUSAR P. LIMBONA, petitioner, vs. CONTE MANGELIN, SALIC ALI, on national concerns. The President exercises “general supervision” over them, but
SALINDATO ALI, PILIMPINAS CONDING, ACMAD TOMAWIS, GERRY TOMAWIS, JESUS only to “ensure that local affairs are administered according to law.” He has no
ORTIZ, ANTONIO DELA FUENTE, DIEGO PALOMARES, JR., RAKIL DAGALANGIT, and control over their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his
BIMBO SINSUAT, respondents. own.
Constitutional Law; Due Process in Administrative Proceedings; Access to Judicial Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Decentralization of power involves an abdication
Remedies; No one may be punished for seeking redress in the courts, unless the of political power in favor of local government units declared to be autonomous.—
recourse amounts to malicious prosecution.—In the second place, the resolution Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political
appears strongly to be a bare act of vendetta by the other Assemblyman against the power in favor of local government units declared to be autonomous. In that case,
petitioner arising from what the former perceive to be obduracy on the part of the the autonomous government is free to chart its own destiny and shape its future
latter. Indeed, it (the resolution) speaks of “a case [having been filed] [by the with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a constitutional
petitioner] before the Supreme Court . . . on question which should have been author, decentralization of power amounts to “self-immolation,” since in that event,
resolved within the confines of the Assembly—an act which some members the autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities
claimed unnecessarily and unduly assails their integrity and character as but to its constituency.
representative of the people,” an act that cannot possibly justify expulsion. Access
to judicial remedies is guaranteed by the Constitution, and, unless the recourse PETITION to review the decision of the Sangguniang Pampook of Region XII,
amounts to malicious prosecution, no one may be punished for seeking redress in Cotabato City.
the courts.
SARMIENTO, J.:
Same; Autonomous Regions; Administrative Law; The autonomous governments of
Mindanao are subject to the jurisdiction of our national courts.—An examination of The acts of the Sangguniang Pampook of Region XII are assailed in this petition. The
the very Presidential Decree creating the autonomous governments of Mindanao antecedent facts are as follows:
persuades us that they were never meant to exercise autonomy in the second 1. On September 24, 1986, petitioner Sultan Alimbusar Limbona was appointed as a
sense, that is, in which the central government commits an act of self-immolation. member of the Sangguniang Pampook, Regional Autonomous Government, Region
Presidential Decree No. 1618, in the first place, mandates that “[t]he President shall XII, representing Lanao del Sur.
have the power of general supervision and control over Autonomous Regions.” In
the second place, the Sangguniang Pampook, their legislative arm, is made to 2. On March 12, 1987 petitioner was elected Speaker of the Regional Legislative
discharge chiefly administrative services. x x x Hence, we assume jurisdiction. And if Assembly or Batasang Pampook of Central Mindanao (Assembly for brevity).
we can make an inquiry in the validity of the expulsion in question, with more
reason can we review the petitioner’s removal as Speaker. 3. Said Assembly is composed of eighteen (18) members. Two of said members,
respondents Acmad Tomawis and Rakil Dagalangit, filed on March 23, 1987 with
Same; Same; Same; Decentralization; Autonomy is either decentralization of the Commission on Elections their respective certificates of candidacy in the May
administration or decentralization of power.—Now, autonomy is either 11, 1987 congressional elections for the district of Lanao del Sur but they later
decentralization of administration or decentralization of power. There is withdrew from the aforesaid election and thereafter resumed again their positions
decentralization of administration when the central government delegates as members of the Assembly.
administrative powers to political subdivision in order to broaden the base of
government power and in the process to make local governments “more responsive 4. On October 21, 1987 Congressman Datu Guimid Matalam, Chairman of the
and accountable,” and “ensure their fullest development as self-reliant Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of Representatives, invited Mr. Xavier
communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national
Razul, Pampook Speaker of Region XI, Zamboanga City and the petitioner in his 3. Dagalangit, Rakil
capacity as Speaker of the Assembly, Region XII, in a letter which reads:
4. Dela Fuente, Antonio
The Committee on Muslim Affairs will undertake consultations and dialogues with
local government officials, civic, religious organizations and traditional leaders on 5. Mangelen, Conte
the recent and present political developments and other issues affecting Regions IX 6. Ortiz, Jesus
and XII.
7. Palomares, Diego
The result of the conference, consultations and dialogues would hopefully chart the
autonomous governments of the two regions as envisioned and may prod the 8. Sinsuat, Bimbo
President to constitute immediately the Regional Consultative Commission as
mandated by the Commission. 9. Tomawis, Acmad

You are requested to invite some members of the Pampook Assembly of your 10. Tomawis, Jerry
respective assembly on November 1 to 15, 1987, with venue at the Congress of the
After declaring the presence of a quorum, the Speaker Pro-Tempore was authorized
Philippines. Your presence, unstinted support and cooperation is (sic)
to preside in the session. On Motion to declare the seat of the Speaker vacant, all
indispensable.
Assemblymen in attendance voted in the affirmative, hence, the chair declared said
5. Consistent with the said invitation, petitioner sent a telegram to Acting Secretary seat of the Speaker vacant.
Johnny Alimbuyao of the Assembly to wire all Assemblymen that there shall be no
8. On November 5, 1987, the session of the Assembly resumed with the following
session in November as “our presence in the house committee hearing of Congress
Assemblymen present:
take (sic) precedence over any pending business in batasang pampook x x x.”
1. Mangelen Conte—Presiding Officer
6. In compliance with the aforesaid instruction of the petitioner, Acting Secretary
Alimbuyao sent to the members of the Assembly the following telegram: 2. Ali Salic

3. Ali Salindatu

TRANSMITTING FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE TELEGRAM RECEIVED 4. Aratuc, Malik
FROM SPEAKER LIMBONA QUOTE CONGRESSMAN JIMMY MATALAM CHAIRMAN OF
THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON MUSLIM AFFAIRS REQUESTED ME TO ASSIST SAID 5. Cajelo, Rene
COMMITTEE IN THE DISCUSSION OF THE PROPOSED AUTONOMY ORGANIC NOV.
6. Conding, Pilipinas (sic)
1ST TO 15. HENCE WIRE ALL ASSEMBLYMEN THAT THERE SHALL BE NO SESSION IN
NOVEMBER AS OUR PRESENCE IN THE HOUSE COMMITTEE HEARING OF CONGRESS 7. Dagalangit, Rakil
TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER ANY PENDING BUSINESS IN BATASANG PAMPOOK OF
MATALAM FOLLOWS UNQUOTE REGARDS. 8. Dela Fuente, Antonio

7. On November 2, 1987, the Assembly held session in defiance of petitioner’s 9. Ortiz, Jesus
advice, with the following assemblymen present:
10. Palamares, Diego
1. Sali, Salic
11. Quijano, Jesus
2. Conding, Pilipinas (sic)
12. Sinsuat, Bimbo Pending further proceedings, this Court, on January 19, 1988, received a resolution
filed by the Sangguniang Pampook, “EXPELLING ALIMBUSAR P. LIMBONA FROM
13. Tomawis, Acmad MEMBERSHIP OF THE SANGGUNIANG PAMPOOK, AUTONOMOUS REGION XII,”3 on
14. Tomawis, Jerry the grounds, among other things, that the petitioner “had caused to be prepared
and signed by him paying [sic] the salaries and emoluments of Odin Abdula, who
An excerpt from the debates and proceeding of said session reads: was considered resigned after filing his Certificate of Candidacy for Congressmen
for the First District of Maguindanao in the last May 11, elections . . . and nothing in
HON. DAGALANGIT: Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members of the House, with the the record of the Assembly will show that any request for reinstatement by Abdula
presence of our colleagues who have come to attend the session today, I move to was ever made . . .”4 and that “such action of Mr. Limbona in paying Abdula his
call the names of the new comers in order for them to cast their votes on the salaries and emoluments without authority from the Assembly . . . constituted a
previous motion to declare the position of the Speaker vacant. But before doing so, usurpation of the power of the Assembly,”5 that the petitioner “had recently
I move also that the designation of the Speaker Pro Tempore as the Presiding caused withdrawal of so much amount of cash from the Assembly resulting to the
Officer and Mr. Johnny Evangelista as Acting Secretary in the session last November non-payment of the salaries and emoluments of some Assembly [sic],”6 and that he
2, 1987 be reconfirmed in today’s session. had “filed a case before the Supreme Court against some members of the Assembly
on question which should have been resolved within the confines of the
HON. SALIC ALI: I second the motion
Assembly,”7 for which the respondents now submit that the petition had become
PRESIDING OFFICER: Any comment or objections on the two motions presented? “moot and academic”.8
The chair hears none and the said motions are approved. x x x.
The first question, evidently, is whether or not the expulsion of the petitioner
Twelve (12) members voted in favor of the motion to declare the seat of the (pending litigation) has made the case moot and academic.
Speaker vacant; one abstained and none voted against.1
We do not agree that the case has been rendered moot and academic by reason
Accordingly, the petitioner prays for judgment as follows: simply of the expulsion resolution so issued. For, if the petitioner’s expulsion was
done purposely to make this petition moot and academic, and to preempt the
WHEREFORE, petitioner respectfully prays that— Court, it will not make it academic.
(a) This Petition be given due course; On the ground of the immutable principle of due process alone, we hold that the
expulsion in question is of no force and effect. In the first place, there is no showing
(b) Pending hearing, a restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction be issued
that the Sanggunian had conducted an investigation, and whether or not the
enjoining respondents from proceeding with their session to be held on November
petitioner had been heard in his defense, assuming that there was an investigation,
5, 1987, and on any day thereafter;
or otherwise given the opportunity to do so. On the other hand, what appears in
(c) After hearing, judgment be rendered declaring the proceedings held by the records is an admission by the Assembly (at least, the respondents) that “since
respondents of their session on November 2, 1987 as null and void; November, 1987 up to this writing, the petitioner has not set foot at the
Sangguniang Pampook.”9 To be sure, the private respondents aver that “[t]he
(d) Holding the election of petitioner as Speaker of said Legislative Assembly or Assemblymen, in a conciliatory gesture, wanted him to come to Cotabato City,”10
Batasan Pampook, Region XII held on March 12, 1987 valid and subsisting; and but that was “so that their differences could be threshed out and settled.”11
Certainly, that avowed wanting or desire to thresh out and settle, no matter how
(e) Making the injunction permanent.
conciliatory it may be cannot be a substitute for the notice and hearing
Petitioner likewise prays for such other relief as may be just and equitable.2 contemplated by law.
While we have held that due process, as the term is known in administrative law, for the respective regions,”19 except to “act on matters which are within the
does not absolutely require notice and that a party need only be given the jurisdiction and competence of the National Government,”20 “which include, but
opportunity to be heard,12 it does not appear herein that the petitioner had, to are not limited to, the following:
begin with, been made aware that he had in fact stood charged of graft and
corruption before his collegues. It cannot be said therefore that he was accorded (1) National defense and security;
any opportunity to rebut their accusations. As it stands, then, the charges now (2) Foreign relations;
levelled amount to mere accusations that cannot warrant expulsion.
(3) Foreign trade;
In the second place, the resolution appears strongly to be a bare act of vendetta by
the other Assemblymen against the petitioner arising from what the former (4) Currency, monetary affairs, foreign exchange, banking and quasi-banking, and
perceive to be abduracy on the part of the latter. Indeed, it (the resolution) speaks external borrowing;
of “a case [having been filed] [by the petitioner] before the Supreme Court . . . on
question which should have been resolved within the confines of the Assembly—an (5) Disposition, exploration, development, exploitation or utilization of all natural
act which some members claimed unnecessarily and unduly assails their integrity resources;
and character as representative of the people,”13 an act that cannot possibly justify
(6) Air and sea transport;
expulsion. Access to judicial remedies is guaranteed by the Constitution,14 and,
unless the recourse amounts to malicious prosecution, no one may be punished for (7) Postal matters and telecommunications;
seeking redress in the courts.
(8) Customs and quarantine;
We therefore order reinstatement, with the caution that should the past acts of the
petitioner indeed warrant his removal, the Assembly is enjoined, should it still be so (9) Immigration and deportation;
minded, to commence proper proceedings therefor in line with the most
(10) Citizenship and naturalization;
elementary requirements of due process. And while it is within the discretion of the
members of the Sanggunian to punish their erring colleagues, their acts are (11) National economic, social and educational planning; and
nonetheless subject to the moderating hand of this Court in the event that such
discretion is exercised with grave abuse. (12) General auditing.”21

It is, to be sure, said that precisely because the Sangguniang Pampook(s) are In relation to the central government, it provides that “[t]he President shall have
“autonomous,” the courts may not rightfully intervene in their affairs, much less the power of general supervision and control over the Autonomous Regions xxx.”22
strike down their acts. We come, therefore, to the second issue: Are the so-called
Now, autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of
autonomous governments of Mindanao, as they are now constituted, subject to the
power. There is decentralization of administration when the central government
jurisdiction of the national courts? In other words, what is the extent of self-
delegates administrative powers to political subdivisions in order to broaden the
government given to the two autonomous governments of Region IX and XII?
base of government power and in the process to make local governments “more
The autonomous governments of Mindanao were organized in Regions IX and XII by responsive and accountable,”23 and “ensure their fullest development as self-
Presidential Decree No. 161815 promulgated on July 25, 1979. Among other things, reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of
the Decree established “internal autonomy”16 in the two regions “[w]ithin the national development and social progress.”24 At the same time, it relieves the
framework of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of central government of the burden of managing local affairs and enables it to
the Philippines and its Constitution,”17 “with legislative and executive machinery to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises “general supervision”25
exercise the powers and responsibilites”18 specified therein. It requires the over them, but only to “ensure that local affairs are administered according to
autonomous regional governments to “undertake all internal administrative matters
law.”26 He has no control over their acts in the sense that he can substitute their Department of Local Government).32 If the Sangguniang Pampook (of Region XII),
judgments with his own.27 then, is autonomous in the latter sense, its acts are, debatably, beyond the domain
of this Court in perhaps the same way that the internal acts, say, of the Congress of
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political the Philippines are beyond our jurisdiction. But if it is autonomous in the former
power in the favor of local governments units declared to be autonomous. In that category only, it comes unarguably under our jurisdiction.
case, the autonomous government is free to chart its own destiny and shape its
future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a An examination of the very Presidential Decree creating the autonomous
constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to “self-immolation,” governments of Mindanao persuades us that they were never meant to exercise
since in that event, the autonomous government becomes accountable not to the autonomy in the second sense, that is, in which the central government commits an
central authorities but to its constituency.28 act of self-immolation. Presidential Decree No. 1618, in the first place, mandates
that “[t]he President shall have the power of general supervision and control over
But the question of whether or not the grant of autonomy to Muslim Mindanao Autonomous Regions.”33 In the second place, the Sangguniang Pampook, their
under the 1987 Constitution involves, truly, an effort to decentralize power rather legislative arm, is made to discharge chiefly administrative services, thus:
than mere administration is a question foreign to this petition, since what is
involved herein is a local government unit constituted prior to the ratification of the SEC. 7. Powers of the Sangguniang Pampook.—The Sangguniang Pampook shall
present Constitution. Hence, the Court will not resolve that controversy now, in this exercise local legislative powers over regional affairs within the framework of
case, since no controversy in fact exists. We will resolve it at the proper time and in national development plans, policies and goals, in the following areas:
the proper case.
(1) Organization of regional administrative system;
Under the 1987 Constitution, local government units enjoy autonomy in these two
senses, thus: (2) Economic, social and cultural development of the Autonomous Region;

Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines (3) Agricultural, commercial and industrial programs for the Autonomous Region;
are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous (4) Infrastructure development for the Autonomous Region;
regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.29
(5) Urban and rural planning for the Autonomous Region;
Sec. 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.30
(6) Taxation and other revenue-raising measures as provided for in this Decree;
xxx xxx xxx
(7) Maintenance, operation and administration of schools established by the
Sec. 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Autonomous Region;
Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas
sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and (8) Establishment, operation and maintenance of health, welfare and other social
social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this services, programs and facilities;
Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the
Republic of the Philippines.31 (9) Preservation and development of customs, traditions, languages and culture
indigenous to the Autonomous Region; and
An autonomous government that enjoys autonomy of the latter category [CONST.
(1987), art. X, sec. 15.] is subject alone to the decree of the organic act creating it (10) Such other matters as may be authorized by law, including the enactment of
and accepted principles on the effects and limits of “autonomy.” On the other hand, such measures as may be necessary for the promotion of the general welfare of the
an autonomous government of the former class is, as we noted, under the people in the Autonomous Region.
supervision of the national government acting through the President (and the
The President shall exercise such powers as may be necessary to assure that themselves behind his back in an apparent act of mutiny. Under the circumstances,
enactment and acts of the Sangguniang Pampook and the Lupong Tagapagpaganap we find equity on his side. For this reason, we uphold the “recess” called on the
ng Pook are in compliance with this Decree, national legislation, policies, plans and ground of good faith.
programs.
It does not appear to us, moreover, that the petitioner had resorted to the
The Sangguniang Pampook shall maintain liaison with the Batasang Pambansa.34 aforesaid “recess” in order to forestall the Assembly from bringing about his ouster.
This is not apparent from the pleadings before us. We are convinced that the
Hence, we assume jurisdiction. And if we can make an inquiry in the validity of the invitation was what precipitated it.
expulsion in question, with more reason can we review the petitioner’s removal as
Speaker. In holding that the “recess” in question is valid, we are not to be taken as
establishing a precedent, since, as we said, a recess can not be validly declared
Briefly, the petitioner assails the legality of his ouster as Speaker on the grounds without a session having been first opened. In upholding the petitioner herein, we
that: (1) the Sanggunian, in convening on November 2 and 5, 1987 (for the sole are not giving him a carte blanche to order recesses in the future in violation of the
purpose of declaring the office of the Speaker vacant), did so in violation of the Rules, or otherwise to prevent the lawful meetings thereof.
Rules of the Sangguniang Pampook since the Assembly was then on recess; and (2)
assuming that it was valid, his ouster was ineffective nevertheless for lack of Neither are we, by this disposition, discouraging the Sanggunian from reorganizing
quorum. itself pursuant to its lawful prerogatives. Certainly, it can do so at the proper time.
In the event that he petitioner should initiate obstructive moves, the Court is
Upon the facts presented, we hold that the November 2 and 5, 1987 sessions were certain that it is armed with enough coercive remedies to thwart them.39
invalid. It is true that under Section 31 of the Region XII Sanggunian Rules,
“[s]essions shall not be suspended or adjourned except by direction of the In view hereof, we find no need in dwelling on the issue of quorum.
Sangguniang Pampook,”35 but it provides likewise that “the Speaker may, on [sic]
his discretion, declare a recess of “short intervals.”36 Of course, there is WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Sangguniang
disagreement between the protagonists as to whether or not the recess called by Pampook, Region XII, is ENJOINED to (1) REINSTATE the petitioner as Member,
the petitioner effective November 1 through 15, 1987 is the “recess of short Sangguniang Pampook, Region XII; and (2) REINSTATE him as Speaker thereof. No
intervals” referred to; the petitioner says that it is while the respondents insist that, costs.
to all intents and purposes, it was an adjournment and that “recess” as used by SO ORDERED.
their Rules only refers to “a recess when arguments get heated up so that
protagonists in a debate can talk things out informally and obviate dissenssion [sic]
and disunity.”37 The Court agrees with the respondents on this regard, since clearly,
the Rules speak of “short intervals.” Secondly, the Court likewise agrees that the
Speaker could not have validly called a recess since the Assembly had yet to
convene on November 1, the date session opens under the same Rules.38 Hence,
there can be no recess to speak of that could possibly interrupt any session. But
while this opinion is in accord with the respondents own, we still invalidate the twin
sessions in question, since at the time the petitioner called the “recess,” it was not
a settled matter whether or not he could do so. In the second place, the invitation
G.R. No. 152774. May 27, 2004.*
tendered by the Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of Representatives
provided a plausible reason for the intermission sought. Thirdly, assuming that a THE PROVINCE OF BATANGAS, represented by its Governor, HERMILANDO I.
valid recess could not be called, it does not appear that the respondents called his MANDANAS, petitioner, vs. HON. ALBERTO G. ROMULO, Executive Secretary and
attention to this mistake. What appears is that instead, they opened the sessions Chairman of the Oversight Committee on Devolution; HON. EMILIA BONCODIN,
Secretary, Department of Budget and Management; HON. JOSE D. LINA, JR., Same; Hierarchy of Courts; The rule on hierarchy of courts may be relaxed when the
Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government, respondents. redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional
and compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for
Actions; Parties; Locus Standi; The gist of the question of standing is whether a the exercise of the Supreme Court’s primary jurisdiction.—Considering that these
party has “alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to facts, which are necessary to resolve the legal question now before this Court, are
assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon no longer in issue, the same need not be determined by a trial court. In any case,
which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional the rule on hierarchy of courts will not prevent this Court from assuming
questions.”—The gist of the question of standing is whether a party has “alleged jurisdiction over the petition. The said rule may be relaxed when the redress
such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional and
adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the
largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.” Accordingly, it exercise of this Court’s primary jurisdiction. The crucial legal issue submitted for
has been held that the interest of a party assailing the constitutionality of a statute resolution of this Court entails the proper legal interpretation of constitutional and
must be direct and personal. Such party must be able to show, not only that the law statutory provisions. Moreover, the “transcendental importance” of the case, as it
or any government act is invalid, but also that he has sustained or is in imminent necessarily involves the application of the constitutional principle on local
danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not autonomy, cannot be gainsaid. The nature of the present controversy, therefore,
merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the warrants the relaxation by this Court of procedural rules in order to resolve the case
person complaining has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to forthwith.
which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or
penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of. Same; Moot and Academic Questions; Supervening events, whether intended or
accidental, cannot prevent the Court from rendering a decision if there is a grave
Same; Same; Same; Local Autonomy; Local Government Code; A local government violation of the Constitution; Another reason justifying the resolution by the Court
unit (LGU), seeking relief in order to protect or vindicate an interest of its own, and of the substantive issue now before it is the rule that courts will decide a question
of the other LGUs, pertaining to their interest in their share in the national taxes or otherwise moot and academic if it is “capable of repetition, yet evading review.”—
the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), has the requisite standing to bring suit.—The Granting arguendo that, as contended by the respondents, the resolution of the
Court holds that the petitioner possesses the requisite standing to maintain the case had already been overtaken by supervening events as the IRA, including the
present suit. The petitioner, a local government unit, seeks relief in order to protect LGSEF, for 1999, 2000 and 2001, had already been released and the government is
or vindicate an interest of its own, and of the other LGUs. This interest pertains to now operating under a new appropriations law, still, there is compelling reason for
the LGUs’ share in the national taxes or the IRA. The petitioner’s constitutional this Court to resolve the substantive issue raised by the instant petition.
claim is, in substance, that the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and Supervening events, whether intended or accidental, cannot prevent the Court
2001, and the OCD resolutions contravene Section 6, Article X of the Constitution, from rendering a decision if there is a grave violation of the Constitution. Even in
mandating the “automatic release” to the LGUs of their share in the national taxes. cases where supervening events had made the cases moot, the Court did not
Further, the injury that the petitioner claims to suffer is the diminution of its share hesitate to resolve the legal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling
in the IRA, as provided under Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991, principles to guide the bench, bar and public. Another reason justifying the
occasioned by the implementation of the assailed measures. These allegations are resolution by this Court of the substantive issue now before it is the rule that courts
sufficient to grant the petitioner standing to question the validity of the assailed will decide a question otherwise moot and academic if it is “capable of repetition,
provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the OCD resolutions as the yet evading review.” For the GAAs in the coming years may contain provisos similar
petitioner clearly has “a plain, direct and adequate interest” in the manner and to those now being sought to be invalidated, and yet, the question may not be
distribution of the IRA among the LGUs. decided before another GAA is enacted. It, thus, behooves this Court to make a
categorical ruling on the substantive issue now.
Municipal Corporations; Local Autonomy; Local Government Code; Consistent with act to receive the “just share” accruing to them from the national coffers. As
the principle of local autonomy, the Constitution confines the President’s power emphasized by the Local Government Code of 1991, the “just share” of the LGUs
over the LGUs to one of general supervision, which provision has been interpreted shall be released to them “without need of further action.”
to exclude the power of control.—Consistent with the principle of local autonomy,
the Constitution confines the President’s power over the LGUs to one of general Same; Same; Same; Internal Revenue Allotments; Local Government Service
supervision. This provision has been interpreted to exclude the power of control. Equalization Fund (LGSEF); Statutory Construction; The entire process involving the
The distinction between the two powers was enunciated in Drilon v. Lim: An officer distribution and release of the LGSEF is constitutionally impermissible—to subject
in control lays down the rules in the doing of an act. If they are not followed, he its distribution and release to the vagaries of the implementing rules and
may, in his discretion, order the act undone or redone by his subordinate or he may regulations, including the guidelines and mechanisms unilaterally prescribed by the
even decide to do it himself. Supervision does not cover such authority. The Oversight Committee from time to time, makes the release not automatic; Where
supervisor or superintendent merely sees to it that the rules are followed, but he the law, the Constitution in this case, is clear and unambiguous, it must be taken to
himself does not lay down such rules, nor does he have the discretion to modify or mean exactly what it says, and courts have no choice but to see to it that the
replace them. If the rules are not observed, he may order the work done or re-done mandate is obeyed.—To the Court’s mind, the entire process involving the
but only to conform to the prescribed rules. He may not prescribe his own manner distribution and release of the LGSEF is constitutionally impermissible. The LGSEF is
for doing the act. He has no judgment on this matter except to see to it that the part of the IRA or “just share” of the LGUs in the national taxes. To subject its
rules are followed. distribution and release to the vagaries of the implementing rules and regulations,
including the guidelines and mechanisms unilaterally prescribed by the Oversight
Same; Same; Same; When parsed, it would be readily seen that Section 6, Article X Committee from time to time, as sanctioned by the assailed provisos in the GAAs of
of the Constitution readily mandates that (1) the LGUs shall have a “just share” in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the OCD resolutions, makes the release not automatic, a
the national taxes, (2) the “just share” shall be determined by law, and (3) the “just flagrant violation of the constitutional and statutory mandate that the “just share”
share” shall be automatically released to the LGUs.—Section 6, Article X of the of the LGUs “shall be automatically released to them.” The LGUs are, thus, placed at
Constitution reads: Sec. 6. Local government units shall have a just share, as the mercy of the Oversight Committee. Where the law, the Constitution in this case,
determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to is clear and unambiguous, it must be taken to mean exactly what it says, and courts
them. When parsed, it would be readily seen that this provision mandates that (1) have no choice but to see to it that the mandate is obeyed. Moreover, as correctly
the LGUs shall have a “just share” in the national taxes; (2) the “just share” shall be posited by the petitioner, the use of the word “shall” connotes a mandatory order.
determined by law; and (3) the “just share” shall be automatically released to the Its use in a statute denotes an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the
LGUs. idea of discretion.

Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; The LGUs are not required to perform any Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The Oversight Committee exercising discretion,
act to receive the “just share” accruing to them from the national coffers—the “just even control, over the distribution and release of a portion of the IRA, the LGSEF, is
share” of the LGUs shall be released to them “without need of further action”; an anathema to and subversive of the principle of local autonomy as embodied in
“Automatic” means “involuntary either wholly or to a major extent so that any the Constitution; The Oversight Committee’s authority is undoubtedly limited to the
activity of the will is largely negligible; of a reflex nature; without volition; implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991, not to supplant or subvert
mechanical; like or suggestive of an automation.”—Webster’s Third New the same, and neither can it exercise control over the IRA, or even a portion
International Dictionary defines “automatic” as “involuntary either wholly or to a thereof, of the LGUs.—Indeed, the Oversight Committee exercising discretion, even
major extent so that any activity of the will is largely negligible; of a reflex nature; control, over the distribution and release of a portion of the IRA, the LGSEF, is an
without volition; mechanical; like or suggestive of an automaton.” Further, the word anathema to and subversive of the principle of local autonomy as embodied in the
“automatically” is defined as “in an automatic manner: without thought or Constitution. Moreover, it finds no statutory basis at all as the Oversight Committee
conscious intention.” Being “automatic,” thus, connotes something mechanical, was created merely to formulate the rules and regulations for the efficient and
spontaneous and perfunctory. As such, the LGUs are not required to perform any effective implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991 to ensure
“compliance with the principles of local autonomy as defined under the provisions of the Local Government Code, a substantive law, it may not do so
Constitution.” In fact, its creation was placed under the title of “Transitory through appropriations laws or GAAs—any amendment to the Local Government
Provisions,” signifying its ad hoc character. According to Senator Aquilino Q. Code should be done in a separate law, not in the appropriations law, because
Pimentel, the principal author and sponsor of the bill that eventually became Rep. Congress cannot include in a general appropriations bill matters that should be
Act No. 7160, the Committee’s work was supposed to be done a year from the more properly enacted in a separate legislation.—The respondents argue that this
approval of the Code, or on October 10, 1992. The Oversight Committee’s authority modification is allowed since the Constitution does not specify that the “just share”
is undoubtedly limited to the implementation of the Local Government Code of of the LGUs shall only be determined by the Local Government Code of 1991. That
1991, not to supplant or subvert the same. Neither can it exercise control over the it is within the power of Congress to enact other laws, including the GAAs, to
IRA, or even a portion thereof, of the LGUs. increase or decrease the “just share” of the LGUs. This contention is untenable. The
Local Government Code of 1991 is a substantive law. And while it is conceded that
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The assailed provisos in the Gen-eral Congress may amend any of the provisions therein, it may not do so through
Appropriations Acts (GAAs) of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the Oversight Committee appropriations laws or GAAs. Any amendment to the Local Government Code of
on Devolution (OCD) resolutions constitute a “withholding” of a portion of the IRA 1991 should be done in a separate law, not in the appropriations law, because
—they effectively encroach on the fiscal autonomy enjoyed by the LGUs and must Congress cannot include in a general appropriation bill matters that should be more
be struck down.—In like manner, the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 properly enacted in a separate legislation.
and 2001, and the OCD resolutions constitute a “withholding” of a portion of the
IRA. They put on hold the distribution and release of the five billion pesos LGSEF Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Doctrine of Inappropriate
and subject the same to the implementing rules and regulations, including the Provisions; Words and Phrases; A general appropriations bill is a special type of
guidelines and mechanisms prescribed by the Oversight Committee from time to legislation, whose content is limited to specified sums of money dedicated to a
time. Like Section 4 of A.O. 372, the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 specific purpose or a separate fiscal unit—any provision therein which is intended
and 2001 and the OCD resolutions effectively encroach on the fiscal autonomy to amend another law is considered an “inappropriate provision.”—A general
enjoyed by the LGUs and must be struck down. They cannot, therefore, be upheld. appropriations bill is a special type of legislation, whose content is limited to
specified sums of money dedicated to a specific purpose or a separate fiscal unit.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The only possible exception to the mandatory Any provision therein which is intended to amend another law is considered an
automatic release of the LGUs’ IRA is if the national internal revenue collections for “inappropriate provision.” The category of “inappropriate provisions” includes
the current fiscal year is less than 40 percent of the collections of the preceding unconstitutional provisions and provisions which are intended to amend other laws,
third fiscal year, in which case what should be automatically released shall be a because clearly these kinds of laws have no place in an appropriations bill.
proportionate amount of the collections for the current fiscal year.—Thus, from the Increasing or decreasing the IRA of the LGUs or modifying their percentage sharing
above provision, the only possible exception to the mandatory automatic release of therein, which are fixed in the Local Government Code of 1991, are matters of
the LGUs’ IRA is if the national internal revenue collections for the current fiscal general and substantive law. To permit Congress to undertake these amendments
year is less than 40 percent of the collections of the preceding third fiscal year, in through the GAAs, as the respondents contend, would be to give Congress the
which case what should be automatically released shall be a proportionate amount unbridled authority to unduly infringe the fiscal autonomy of the LGUs, and thus
of the collections for the current fiscal year. The adjustment may even be made on put the same in jeopardy every year. This, the Court cannot sanction.
a quarterly basis depending on the actual collections of national internal revenue
taxes for the quarter of the current fiscal year. In the instant case, however, there is Same; Same; It is well to note that the principle of local autonomy, while
no allegation that the national internal revenue tax collections for the fiscal years concededly expounded in greater detail in the present Constitution, dates back to
1999, 2000 and 2001 have fallen compared to the preceding three fiscal years. the turn of the century when President William McKinley, in his Instructions to the
Second Philippine Commission dated 7 April 1900, ordered the new Government
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutes; Appropriations Bills; Amendments and “to devote their attention in the first instance to the establishment of municipal
Repeals of Laws; While it is conceded that Congress may amend any of the governments in which the natives of the Islands, both in the cities and in the rural
communities, shall be afforded the opportunity to manage their own affairs to the
fullest extent of which they are capable, and subject to the least degree of
supervision and control in which a careful study of their capacities and observation CALLEJO, SR., J.:
of the workings of native control show to be consistent with the maintenance of The Province of Batangas, represented by its Governor, Hermilando I. Mandanas,
law, order and loyalty.”—In closing, it is well to note that the principle of local filed the present petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus under Rule 65 of
autonomy, while concededly expounded in greater detail in the present the Rules of Court, as amended, to declare as unconstitutional and void certain
Constitution, dates back to the turn of the century when President William provisos contained in the General Appropriations Acts (GAA) of 1999, 2000 and
McKinley, in his Instructions to the Second Philippine Commission dated April 7, 2001, insofar as they uniformly earmarked for each corresponding year the amount
1900, ordered the new Government “to devote their attention in the first instance of five billion pesos (P5,000,000,000.00) of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for
to the establishment of municipal governments in which the natives of the Islands, the Local Government Service Equalization Fund (LGSEF) and imposed conditions
both in the cities and in the rural communities, shall be afforded the opportunity to for the release thereof.
manage their own affairs to the fullest extent of which they are capable, and
subject to the least degree of supervision and control in which a careful study of Named as respondents are Executive Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, in his capacity as
their capacities and observation of the workings of native control show to be Chairman of the Oversight Committee on Devolution, Secretary Emilia Boncodin of
consistent with the maintenance of law, order and loyalty.” While the 1935 the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Secretary Jose Lina of the
Constitution had no specific article on local autonomy, nonetheless, it limited the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
executive power over local governments to “general supervision . . . as may be
provided by law.” Subsequently, the 1973 Constitution explicitly stated that “[t]he Background
State shall guarantee and promote the autonomy of local government units,
On December 7, 1998, then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada issued Executive
especially the barangay to ensure their fullest development as self-reliant
Order (E.O.) No. 48 entitled “ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM FOR DEVOLUTION
communities.” An entire article on Local Government was incorporated therein. The
ADJUSTMENT AND EQUALIZATION.” The program was established to “facilitate the
present Constitution, as earlier opined, has broadened the principle of local
process of enhancing the capacities of local government units (LGUs) in the
autonomy. The 14 sections in Article X thereof markedly increased the powers of
discharge of the functions and services devolved to them by the National
the local governments in order to accomplish the goal of a more meaningful local
Government Agencies concerned pursuant to the Local Government Code.”1 The
autonomy.
Oversight Committee (referred to as the Devolution Committee in E.O. No. 48)
Same; Same; The value of local governments as institutions of democracy is constituted under Section 533(b) of Republic Act No. 7160 (The Local Government
measured by the degree of autonomy that they enjoy—our national officials should Code of 1991) has been tasked to formulate and issue the appropriate rules and
not only comply with the constitutional provisions on local autonomy but should regulations necessary for its effective implementation.2 Further, to address the
also appreciate the spirit and liberty upon which these provisions are based.— funding shortfalls of functions and services devolved to the LGUs and other funding
Indeed, the value of local governments as institutions of democracy is measured by requirements of the program, the “Devolution Adjustment and Equalization Fund”
the degree of autonomy that they enjoy. As eloquently put by M. De Tocqueville, a was created.3 For 1998, the DBM was directed to set aside an amount to be
distinguished French political writer, “[l]ocal assemblies of citizens constitute the determined by the Oversight Committee based on the devolution status appraisal
strength of free nations. Township meetings are to liberty what primary schools are surveys undertaken by the DILG.4 The initial fund was to be sourced from the
to science; they bring it within the people’s reach; they teach men how to use and available savings of the national government for CY 1998.5 For 1999 and the
enjoy it. A nation may establish a system of free governments but without the spirit succeeding years, the corresponding amount required to sustain the program was
of municipal institutions, it cannot have the spirit of liberty.” Our national officials to be incorporated in the annual GAA.6 The Oversight Committee has been
should not only comply with the constitutional provisions on local autonomy but authorized to issue the implementing rules and regulations governing the equitable
should also appreciate the spirit and liberty upon which these provisions are based. allocation and distribution of said fund to the LGUs.7
The LGSEF in the GAA of 1999 OCD-99-003

In Republic Act No. 8745, otherwise known as the GAA of 1999, the program was RESOLUTION REQUESTING HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA
renamed as the LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE EQUALIZATION FUND (LGSEF). TO APPROVE THE REQUEST OF THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON DEVOLUTION TO
Under said appropriations law, the amount of P96,780,000,000 was allotted as the SET ASIDE TWENTY PERCENT (20%) OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE
share of the LGUs in the internal revenue taxes. Item No. 1, Special Provisions, Title EQUALIZATION FUND (LGSEF) FOR LOCAL AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROJECTS AND
XXXVI—A. Internal Revenue Allotment of Rep. Act No. 8745 contained the following OTHER PRIORITY INITIATIVES FOR LGUs INSTITUTIONAL AND CAPABILITY BUILDING
proviso: IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE IMPLEMENTING GUIDELINES AND MECHANICS AS
PROMULGATED BY THE COMMITTEE.
. . . PROVIDED, That the amount of FIVE BILLION PESOS (P5,000,000,000) shall be
earmarked for the Local Government Service Equalization Fund for the funding These OCD resolutions were approved by then President Estrada on October 6,
requirements of projects and activities arising from the full and efficient 1999.
implementation of devolved functions and services of local government units
pursuant to R.A. No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of Under the allocation scheme adopted pursuant to Resolution No. OCD-99-005, the
1991: PROVIDED, FURTHER, That such amount shall be released to the local five billion pesos LGSEF was to be allocated as follows:
government units subject to the implementing rules and regulations, including such 1. The PhP4 Billion of the LGSEF shall be allocated in accordance with the allocation
mechanisms and guidelines for the equitable allocations and distribution of said scheme and implementing guidelines and mechanics promulgated and adopted by
fund among local government units subject to the guidelines that may be the OCD. To wit:
prescribed by the Oversight Committee on Devolution as constituted pursuant to
Book IV, Title III, Section 533(b) of R.A. No. 7160. The Internal Revenue Allotment a. The first PhP2 Billion of the LGSEF shall be allocated in accordance with the codal
shall be released directly by the Department of Budget and Management to the formula sharing scheme as prescribed under the 1991 Local Government Code;
Local Government Units concerned.
b. The second PhP2 Billion of the LGSEF shall be allocated, in accordance with a
On July 28, 1999, the Oversight Committee (with then Executive Secretary Ronaldo modified 1992 cost of devolution fund (CODEF) sharing scheme, as recommended
B. Zamora as Chairman) passed Resolution Nos. OCD-99-003, OCD-99-005 and OCD- by the respective leagues of provinces, cities and municipalities to the OCD. The
99-006 entitled as follows: modified CODEF sharing formula is as follows:

OCD-99-005

RESOLUTION ADOPTIG THE ALLOCATION SCHEME FOR THE PhP5 BILLION CY 1999
LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE EQUALIZATION FUND (LGSEF) AND REQUESTING HIS
EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA TO APPROVE SAID ALLOCATION
SCHEME.
This is applied to the P2 Billion after the approved amounts granted to individual
OCD-99-006 provinces, cities and municipalities as assistance to cover decrease in 1999 IRA
share due to reduction in land area have been taken out.
RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE ALLOCATION SCHEME FOR THE PhP4.0 BILLION OF
THE 1999 LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE EQUALIZATION FUND AND ITS 2. The remaining PhP1 Billion of the LGSEF shall be earmarked to support local
CONCOMITANT GENERAL FRAMEWORK, IMPLEMENTING GUIDELINES AND affirmative action projects and other priority initiatives submitted by LGUs to the
MECHANICS FOR ITS IMPLEMENTATION AND RELEASE, AS PROMULGATED BY THE Oversight Committee on Devolution for approval in accordance with its prescribed
OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON DEVOLUTION. guidelines as promulgated and adopted by the OCD.
In Resolution No. OCD-99-003, the Oversight Committee set aside the one billion damaged by man-made or natural calamities and disaster as well as facilities for
pesos or 20% of the LGSEF to support Local Affirmative Action Projects (LAAPs) of water supply, flood control and river dikes;
LGUs. This remaining amount was intended to “respond to the urgent need for
additional funds assistance, otherwise not available within the parameters of other i. provision of local electrification facilities;
existing fund sources.” For LGUs to be eligible for funding under the one-billion- j. livelihood and food production services, facilities and equipment;
peso portion of the LGSEF, the OCD promulgated the following:
k. other projects that may be authorized by the OCD consistent with the
III. CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY: aforementioned objectives and guidelines;
1. LGUs (province, city, municipality, or barangay), individually or by group or multi- 4. Except on extremely meritorious cases, as may be determined by the Oversight
LGUs or leagues of LGUs, especially those belonging to the 5th and 6th class, may Committee on Devolution, this portion of the LGSEF shall not be used in
access the fund to support any projects or activities that satisfy any of the expenditures for personal costs or benefits under existing laws applicable to
aforecited purposes. A barangay may also access this fund directly or through their governments. Generally, this fund shall cover the following objects of expenditures
respective municipality or city. for programs, projects and activities arising from the implementation of devolved
2. The proposed project/activity should be need-based, a local priority, with high and regular functions and services:
development impact and are congruent with the sociocultural, economic and a. acquisition/procurement of supplies and materials critical to the full and effective
development agenda of the Estrada Administration, such as food security, poverty implementation of devolved programs, projects and activities;
alleviation, electrification, and peace and order, among others.
b. repair and/or improvement of facilities;
3. Eligible for funding under this fund are projects arising from, but not limited to,
the following areas of concern: c. repair and/or upgrading of equipment;

a. delivery of local health and sanitation services, hospital services and other d. acquisition of basic equipment;
tertiary services;
e. construction of additional or new facilities;
b. delivery of social welfare services;
f. counterpart contribution to joint arrangements or collective projects among
c. provision of socio-cultural services and facilities for youth and community groups of municipalities, cities and/or provinces related to devolution and delivery
development; of basic services.

d. provision of agricultural and on-site related research; 5. To be eligible for funding, an LGU or group of LGU shall submit to the Oversight
Committee on Devolution through the Department of Interior and Local
e. improvement of community-based forestry projects and other local projects on Governments, within the prescribed schedule and timeframe, a Letter Request for
environment and natural resources protection and conservation; Funding Support from the Affirmative Action Program under the LGSEF, duly signed
f. improvement of tourism facilities and promotion of tourism; by the concerned LGU(s) and endorsed by cooperators and/or beneficiaries, as well
as the duly signed Resolution of Endorsement by the respective Sanggunian(s) of
g. peace and order and public safety; the LGUs concerned. The LGU-proponent shall also be required to submit the
Project Request (PR), using OCD Project Request Form No. 99-02, that details the
h. construction, repair and maintenance of public works and infrastructure, following:
including public buildings and facilities for public use, especially those destroyed or
(a) general description or brief of the project;
(b) objectives and justifications for undertaking the project, which should highlight 1. The PhP3.5 Billion of the CY 2000 LGSEF shall be allocated to and shared by the
the benefits to the locality and the expected impact to the local program/project four levels of LGUs, i.e., provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays, using the
arising from the full and efficient implementation of social services and facilities, at following percentage-sharing formula agreed upon and jointly endorsed by the
the local levels; various Leagues of LGUs:

(c) target outputs or key result areas;

(d) schedule of activities and details of requirements;

(e) total cost requirement of the project;

(f) proponent’s counterpart funding share, if any, and identified source(s) of


counterpart funds for the full implementation of the project;
Provided that the respective Leagues representing the provinces, cities,
(g) requested amount of project cost to be covered by the LGSEF.
municipalities and barangays shall draw up and adopt the horizontal
Further, under the guidelines formulated by the Oversight Committee as contained distribution/sharing schemes among the member LGUs whereby the Leagues
in Attachment-Resolution No. OCD-99-003, the LGUs were required to identify the concerned may opt to adopt direct financial assistance or projectbased
projects eligible for funding under the one-billion-peso portion of the LGSEF and arrangement, such that the LGSEF allocation for individual LGU shall be released
submit the project proposals thereof and other documentary requirements to the directly to the LGU concerned;
DILG for appraisal. The project proposals that passed the DILG’s appraisal would
Provided further that the individual LGSEF shares to LGUs are used in accordance
then be submitted to the Oversight Committee for review, evaluation and approval.
with the general purposes and guidelines promulgated by the OCD for the
Upon its approval, the Oversight Committee would then serve notice to the DBM
implementation of the LGSEF at the local levels pursuant to Res. No. OCD-99-006
for the preparation of the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and Notice of
dated October 7, 1999 and pursuant to the Leagues’ guidelines and mechanism as
Cash Allocation (NCA) to effect the release of funds to the said LGUs.
approved by the OCD;
The LGSEF in the GAA of 2000
Provided further that each of the Leagues shall submit to the OCD for its approval
Under Rep. Act No. 8760, otherwise known as the GAA of 2000, the amount of their respective allocation scheme, the list of LGUs with the corresponding LGSEF
P111,778,000,000 was allotted as the share of the LGUs in the internal revenue shares and the corresponding project categories if project-based;
taxes. As in the GAA of 1999, the GAA of 2000 contained a proviso earmarking five
Provided further that upon approval by the OCD, the lists of LGUs shall be endorsed
billion pesos of the IRA for the LGSEF. This proviso, found in Item No. 1, Special
to the DBM as the basis for the preparation of the corresponding NCAs, SAROs, and
Provisions, Title XXXVII—A. Internal Revenue Allotment, was similarly worded as
related budget/release documents.
that contained in the GAA of 1999.
2. The remaining P1,500,000,000 of the CY 2000 LGSEF shall be earmarked to
support the following initiatives and local affirmative action projects, to be
The Oversight Committee, in its Resolution No. OCD-2000-023 dated June 22, 2000, endorsed to and approved by the Oversight Committee on Devolution in
adopted the following allocation scheme governing the five billion pesos LGSEF for accordance with the OCD agreements, guidelines, procedures and documentary
2000: requirements:
On July 5, 2000, then President Estrada issued a Memorandum authorizing then
Executive Secretary Zamora and the DBM to implement and release the 2.5 billion
pesos LGSEF for 2000 in accordance with Resolution No. OCD-2000-023.

Thereafter, the Oversight Committee, now under the administration of President


Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, promulgated Resolution No. OCD-2001-29 entitled
“ADOPTING RESOLUTION NO. OCD-2000-023 IN THE ALLOCATION,
IMPLEMENTATION AND RELEASE OF THE REMAINING P2.5 BILLION LGSEF FOR CY
2000.” Under this resolution, the amount of one billion pesos of the LGSEF was to
be released in accordance with paragraph 1 of Resolution No. OCD-2000-23, to
complete the 3.5 billion pesos allocated to the LGUs, while the amount of 1.5 billion
pesos was allocated for the LAAP. However, out of the latter amount, P400,000,000 RESOLVED FURTHER, that the P1.9 B earmarked for priority projects shall be
was to be allocated and released as follows: P50,000,000 as financial assistance to distributed according to the following criteria:
the LAAPs of LGUs; P275,360,227 as financial assistance to cover the decrease in
the IRA of LGUs concerned due to reduction in land area; and P74,639,773 for the 1.0 For projects of the 4th, 5th and 6th class LGUs; or
LGSEF Capability-Building Fund.
2.0 Projects in consonance with the President’s State of the Nation Address
The LGSEF in the GAA of 2001 (SONA)/summit commitments.

In view of the failure of Congress to enact the general appropriations law for 2001, RESOLVED FURTHER, that the remaining P100 million LGSEF capability building fund
the GAA of 2000 was deemed re-enacted, together with the IRA of the LGUs therein shall be distributed in accordance with the recommendation of the Leagues of
and the proviso earmarking five billion pesos thereof for the LGSEF. Provinces, Cities, Municipalities and Barangays, and approved by the OCD.

On January 9, 2002, the Oversight Committee adopted Resolution No. OCD-2002- Upon receipt of a copy of the above resolution, Gov. Mandanas wrote to the
001 allocating the five billion pesos LGSEF for 2001 as follows: individual members of the Oversight Committee seeking the reconsideration of
Resolution No. OCD-2002-001. He also wrote to Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo urging her
to disapprove said resolution as it violates the Constitution and the Local
Government Code of 1991.

On January 25, 2002, Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo approved Resolution No. OCD-2002-


001.

The Petitioner’s Case

RESOLVED FURTHER, that the P3.0 B of the CY 2001 LGSEF which is to be allocated The petitioner now comes to this Court assailing as unconstitutional and void the
according to the modified codal formula shall be released to the four levels of LGUs, provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, relating to the LGSEF. Similarly
i.e., provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, as follows: assailed are the Oversight Committee’s Resolutions Nos. OCD-99-003, OCD-99-005,
OCD-99-006, OCD-2000-023, OCD-2001-029 and OCD-2002-001 issued pursuant
thereto. The petitioner submits that the assailed provisos in the GAAs and the OCD
resolutions, insofar as they earmarked the amount of five billion pesos of the IRA of
the LGUs for 1999, 2000 and 2001 for the LGSEF and imposed conditions for the
release thereof, violate the Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991.
Section 6, Article X of the Constitution is invoked as it mandates that the “just The petitioner prays that the Court declare as unconstitutional and void the
share” of the LGUs shall be automatically released to them. Sections 18 and 286 of assailed provisos relating to the LGSEF in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the
the Local Government Code of 1991, which enjoin that the “just share” of the LGUs assailed OCD resolutions (Resolutions Nos. OCD-99-003, OCD-99-005, OCD-99-006,
shall be “automatically and directly” released to them “without need of further OCD-2000-023, OCD-2001-029 and OCD-2002-001) issued by the Oversight
action” are, likewise, cited. Committee pursuant thereto. The petitioner, likewise, prays that the Court direct
the respondents to rectify the unlawful and illegal distribution and releases of the
The petitioner posits that to subject the distribution and release of the five-billion- LGSEF for the aforementioned years and release the same in accordance with the
peso portion of the IRA, classified as the LGSEF, to compliance by the LGUs with the sharing formula under Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991. Finally,
implementing rules and regulations, including the mechanisms and guidelines the petitioner urges the Court to declare that the entire IRA should be released
prescribed by the Oversight Committee, contravenes the explicit directive of the automatically without further action by the LGUs as required by the Constitution
Constitution that the LGUs’ share in the national taxes “shall be automatically and the Local Government Code of 1991.
released to them.” The petitioner maintains that the use of the word “shall” must
be given a compulsory meaning. The Respondents’ Arguments

To further buttress this argument, the petitioner contends that to vest the The respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General, urge the Court to
Oversight Committee with the authority to determine the distribution and release dismiss the petition on procedural and substantive grounds. On the latter, the
of the LGSEF, which is a part of the IRA of the LGUs, is an anathema to the principle respondents contend that the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001
of local autonomy as embodied in the Constitution and the Local Government Code and the assailed resolutions issued by the Oversight Committee are not
of 1991. The petitioner cites as an example the experience in 2001 when the constitutionally infirm. The respondents advance the view that Section 6, Article X
release of the LGSEF was long delayed because the Oversight Committee was not of the Constitution does not specify that the “just share” of the LGUs shall be
able to convene that year and no guidelines were issued therefor. Further, the determined solely by the Local Government Code of 1991. Moreover, the phrase
possible disapproval by the Oversight Committee of the project proposals of the “as determined by law” in the same constitutional provision means that there exists
LGUs would result in the diminution of the latter’s share in the IRA. no limitation on the power of Congress to determine what is the “just share” of the
LGUs in the national taxes. In other words,
Another infringement alleged to be occasioned by the assailed OCD resolutions is
the improper amendment to Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991 on Congress is the arbiter of what should be the “just share” of the LGUs in the
the percentage sharing of the IRA among the LGUs. Said provision allocates the IRA national taxes.
as follows: Provinces—23%; Cities—23%; Municipalities—34%; and Barangays—
20%.8 This formula has been improperly amended or modified, with respect to the The respondents further theorize that Section 285 of the Local Government Code of
five-billion-peso portion of the IRA allotted for the LGSEF, by the assailed OCD 1991, which provides for the percentage sharing of the IRA among the LGUs, was
resolutions as they invariably provided for a different sharing scheme. not intended to be a fixed determination of their “just share” in the national taxes.
Congress may enact other laws, including appropriations laws such as the GAAs of
The modifications allegedly constitute an illegal amendment by the executive 1999, 2000 and 2001, providing for a different sharing formula. Section 285 of the
branch of a substantive law. Moreover, the petitioner mentions that in the Letter Local Government Code of 1991 was merely intended to be the “default share” of
dated December 5, 2001 of respondent Executive Secretary Romulo addressed to the LGUs to do away with the need to determine annually by law their “just share.”
respondent Secretary Boncodin, the former endorsed to the latter the release of However, the LGUs have no vested right in a permanent or fixed percentage as
funds to certain LGUs from the LGSEF in accordance with the handwritten Congress may increase or decrease the “just share” of the LGUs in accordance with
instructions of President Arroyo. Thus, the LGUs are at a loss as to how a portion of what it believes is appropriate for their operation. There is nothing in the
the LGSEF is actually allocated. Further, there are still portions of the LGSEF that, to Constitution which prohibits Congress from making such determination through the
date, have not been received by the petitioner; hence, resulting in damage and appropriations laws. If the provisions of a particular statute, the GAA in this case,
injury to the petitioner.
are within the constitutional power of the legislature to enact, they should be The gist of the question of standing is whether a party has “alleged such a personal
sustained whether the courts agree or not in the wisdom of their enactment. 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
On procedural grounds, the respondents urge the Court to dismiss the petition for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.”9 Accordingly, it has been held
outright as the same is defective. The petition allegedly raises factual issues which that the interest of a party assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct
should be properly threshed out in the lower courts, not this Court, not being a and personal. Such party must be able to show, not only that the law or any
trier of facts. Specifically, the petitioner’s allegation that there are portions of the government act is invalid, but also that he has sustained or is in imminent danger of
LGSEF that it has not, to date, received, thereby causing it (the petitioner) injury sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he
and damage, is subject to proof and must be substantiated in the proper venue, i.e., suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the person complaining
the lower courts. has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully
Further, according to the respondents, the petition has already been rendered entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason
moot and academic as it no longer presents a justiciable controversy. The IRAs for of the statute or act complained of.10
the years 1999, 2000 and 2001, have already been released and the government is The Court holds that the petitioner possesses the requisite standing to maintain the
now operating under the 2003 budget. In support of this, the respondents present suit. The petitioner, a local government unit, seeks relief in order to protect
submitted certifications issued by officers of the DBM attesting to the release of the or vindicate an interest of its own, and of the other LGUs. This interest pertains to
allocation or shares of the petitioner in the LGSEF for 1999, 2000 and 2001. There the LGUs’ share in the national taxes or the IRA. The petitioner’s constitutional
is, therefore, nothing more to prohibit. claim is, in substance, that the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and
Finally, the petitioner allegedly has no legal standing to bring the suit because it has 2001, and the OCD resolutions contravene Section 6, Article X of the Constitution,
not suffered any injury. In fact, the petitioner’s “just share” has even increased. mandating the “automatic release” to the LGUs of their share in the national taxes.
Pursuant to Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991, the share of the Further, the injury that the petitioner claims to suffer is the diminution of its share
provinces is 23%. OCD Nos. 99-005, 99-006 and 99-003 gave the provinces 40% of in the IRA, as provided under Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991,
P2 billion of the LGSEF. OCD Nos. 2000-023 and 2001-029 apportioned 26% of P3.5 occasioned by the implementation of the assailed measures. These allegations are
billion to the provinces. On the other hand, OCD No. 2001-001 allocated 25% of P3 sufficient to grant the petitioner standing to question the validity of the assailed
billion to the provinces. Thus, the petitioner has not suffered any injury in the provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the OCD resolutions as the
implementation of the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and petitioner clearly has “a plain, direct and adequate interest” in the manner and
the OCD resolutions. distribution of the IRA among the LGUs.

The Ruling of the Court Procedural Issues The petition involves a significant legal issue

Before resolving the petition on its merits, the Court shall first rule on the following The crux of the instant controversy is whether the assailed provisos contained in
procedural issues raised by the respondents: (1) whether the petitioner has legal the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the OCD resolutions infringe the
standing or locus standi to file the present suit; (2) whether the petition involves Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991. This is undoubtedly a legal
factual questions that are properly cognizable by the lower courts; and (3) whether question. On the other hand, the following facts are not disputed:
the issue had been rendered moot and academic. 1. The earmarking of five billion pesos of the IRA for the LGSEF in the assailed
The petitioner has locus standi provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and re-enacted budget for 2001;

to maintain the present suit 2. The promulgation of the assailed OCD resolutions providing for the allocation
schemes covering the said five billion pesos and the implementing rules and
regulations therefor; and
3. The release of the LGSEF to the LGUs only upon their compliance with the As earlier intimated, the resolution of the substantive legal issue in this case calls
implementing rules and regulations, including the guidelines and mechanisms, for the application of a most important constitutional policy and principle, that of
prescribed by the Oversight Committee. local autonomy.16 In Article II of the Constitution, the State has expressly adopted
as a policy that:
Considering that these facts, which are necessary to resolve the legal question now
before this Court, are no longer in issue, the same need not be determined by a Section 25. The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments.
trial court.11 In any case, the rule on hierarchy of courts will not prevent this Court
from assuming jurisdiction over the petition. The said rule may be relaxed when the An entire article (Article X) of the Constitution has been devoted to guaranteeing
redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional and promoting the autonomy of LGUs. Section 2 thereof reiterates the State policy
and compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for in this wise:
the exercise of this Court’s primary jurisdiction.12 Section 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.
The crucial legal issue submitted for resolution of this Court entails the proper legal Consistent with the principle of local autonomy, the Constitution confines the
interpretation of constitutional and statutory provisions. Moreover, the President’s power over the LGUs to one of general supervision.17 This provision has
“transcendental importance” of the case, as it necessarily involves the application been interpreted to exclude the power of control. The distinction between the two
of the constitutional principle on local autonomy, cannot be gainsaid. The nature of powers was enunciated in Drilon v. Lim:18
the present controversy, therefore, warrants the relaxation by this Court of
procedural rules in order to resolve the case forthwith. An officer in control lays down the rules in the doing of an act. If they are not
followed, he may, in his discretion, order the act undone or redone by his
The substantive issue needs to be resolved subordinate or he may even decide to do it himself. Supervision does not cover
notwithstanding the supervening events such authority. The supervisor or superintendent merely sees to it that the rules are
followed, but he himself does not lay down such rules, nor does he have the
Granting arguendo that, as contended by the respondents, the resolution of the discretion to modify or replace them. If the rules are not observed, he may order
case had already been overtaken by supervening events as the IRA, including the the work done or re-done but only to conform to the prescribed rules. He may not
LGSEF, for 1999, 2000 and 2001, had already been released and the government is prescribe his own manner for doing the act. He has no judgment on this matter
now operating under a new appropriations law, still, there is compelling reason for except to see to it that the rules are followed.19
this Court to resolve the substantive issue raised by the instant petition.
Supervening events, whether intended or accidental, cannot prevent the Court The Local Government Code of 199120 was enacted to flesh out the mandate of
from rendering a decision if there is a grave violation of the Constitution.13 Even in the Constitution.21 The State policy on local autonomy is amplified in Section 2
cases where supervening events had made the cases moot, the Court did not thereof:
hesitate to resolve the legal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy.—(a) It is hereby declared the policy of the State that
principles to guide the bench, bar and public.14 the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and
Another reason justifying the resolution by this Court of the substantive issue now meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as
before it is the rule that courts will decide a question otherwise moot and academic self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment
if it is “capable of repetition, yet evading review.”15 For the GAAs in the coming of national goals. Toward this end, the State shall provide for a more responsive and
years may contain provisos similar to those now being sought to be invalidated, and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of
yet, the question may not be decided before another GAA is enacted. It, thus, decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers,
behooves this Court to make a categorical ruling on the substantive issue now. authority, responsibilities, and resources. The process of decentralization shall
proceed from the National Government to the local government units.
Substantive Issue
Guided by these precepts, the Court shall now determine whether the assailed Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “automatic” as “involuntary
provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, earmarking for each corresponding either wholly or to a major extent so that any activity of the will is largely negligible;
year the amount of five billion pesos of the IRA for the LGSEF and the OCD of a reflex nature; without volition; mechanical; like or suggestive of an
resolutions promulgated pursuant thereto, transgress the Constitution and the automaton.” Further, the word “automatically” is defined as “in an automatic
Local Government Code of 1991. manner: without thought or conscious intention.” Being “automatic,” thus,
connotes something mechanical, spontaneous and perfunctory. As such, the LGUs
The assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 are not required to perform any act to receive the “just share” accruing to them
and 2001 and the OCD resolutions violate the from the national coffers. As emphasized by the Local Government Code of 1991,
the “just share” of the LGUs shall be released to them “without need of further
constitutional precept on local autonomy action.” Construing Section 286 of the LGC, we held in Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre,22
viz.:
Section 6, Article X of the Constitution reads:
Section 4 of AO 372 cannot, however, be upheld. A basic feature of local fiscal
Sec. 6. Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the autonomy is the automatic release of the shares of LGUs in the National internal
national taxes which shall be automatically released to them. revenue. This is mandated by no less than the Constitution. The Local Government
Code specifies further that the release shall be made directly to the LGU concerned
When parsed, it would be readily seen that this provision mandates that (1) the
within five (5) days after every quarter of the year and “shall not be subject to any
LGUs shall have a “just share” in the national taxes; (2) the “just share” shall be
lien or holdback that may be imposed by the national government for whatever
determined by law; and (3) the “just share” shall be automatically released to the
purpose.” As a rule, the term “SHALL” is a word of command that must be given a
LGUs.
compulsory meaning. The provision is, therefore, IMPERATIVE.
The Local Government Code of 1991, among its salient provisions, underscores the
Section 4 of AO 372, however, orders the withholding, effective January 1, 1998, of
automatic release of the LGUs’ “just share” in this wise:
10 percent of the LGUs’ IRA “pending the assessment and evaluation by the
Sec. 18. Power to Generate and Apply Resources.—Local government units shall Development Budget Coordinating Committee of the emerging fiscal situation” in
have the power and authority to establish an organization that shall be responsible the country. Such withholding clearly contravenes the Constitution and the law.
for the efficient and effective implementation of their development plans, program Although temporary, it is equivalent to a holdback, which means “something held
objectives and priorities; to create their own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, back or withheld, often temporarily.” Hence, the “temporary” nature of the
fees, and charges which shall accrue exclusively for their use and disposition and retention by the national government does not matter. Any retention is prohibited.
which shall be retained by them; to have a just share in national taxes which shall
In sum, while Section 1 of AO 372 may be upheld as an advisory effected in times of
be automatically and directly released to them without need of further action;
national crisis, Section 4 thereof has no color of validity at all. The latter provision
... effectively encroaches on the fiscal autonomy of local governments. Concededly,
the President was well-intentioned in issuing his Order to withhold the LGUs’ IRA,
Sec. 286. Automatic Release of Shares—(a) The share of each local government unit but the rule of law requires that even the best intentions must be carried out within
shall be released, without need of any further action, directly to the provincial, city, the parameters of the Constitution and the law. Verily, laudable purposes must be
municipal or barangay treasurer, as the case may be, on a quarterly basis within five carried out by legal methods.23
(5) days after the end of each quarter, and which shall not be subject to any lien or
holdback that may be imposed by the national government for whatever purpose. The “just share” of the LGUs is incorporated as the IRA in the appropriations law or
GAA enacted by Congress annually. Under the assailed provisos in the GAAs of
(b) Nothing in this Chapter shall be understood to diminish the share of local 1999, 2000 and 2001, a portion of the IRA in the amount of five billion pesos was
government units under existing laws. earmarked for the LGSEF, and these provisos imposed the condition that “such
amount shall be released to the local government units subject to the appraisal of the DILG to be submitted to the Oversight Committee for review,
implementing rules and regulations, including such mechanisms and guidelines for evaluation and approval. It was only upon approval thereof that the Oversight
the equitable allocations and distribution of said fund among local government Committee would direct the DBM to release the funds for the projects.
units subject to the guidelines that may be prescribed by the Oversight Committee
on Devolution.” Pursuant thereto, the Oversight Committee, through the assailed To the Court’s mind, the entire process involving the distribution and release of the
OCD resolutions, apportioned the five billion pesos LGSEF such that: LGSEF is constitutionally impermissible. The LGSEF is part of the IRA or “just share”
of the LGUs in the national taxes. To subject its distribution and release to the
For 1999 vagaries of the implementing rules and regulations, including the guidelines and
mechanisms unilaterally prescribed by the Oversight Committee from time to time,
P2 billion—allocated according to Sec. 285 LGC as sanctioned by the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the
P2 billion—Modified Sharing Formula (Provinces—40%; OCD resolutions, makes the release not automatic, a flagrant violation of the
constitutional and statutory mandate that the “just share” of the LGUs “shall be
Cities—20%; Municipalities—40%) automatically released to them.” The LGUs are, thus, placed at the mercy of the
Oversight Committee.
P1 billion—projects (LAAP) approved by OCD.24

For 2000
Where the law, the Constitution in this case, is clear and unambiguous, it must be
P3.5 billion—Modified Sharing Formula (Provinces—26%; taken to mean exactly what it says, and courts have no choice but to see to it that
the mandate is obeyed.27 Moreover, as correctly posited by the petitioner, the use
Cities—23%; Municipalities—35%; Barangays—16%);
of the word “shall” connotes a mandatory order. Its use in a statute denotes an
P1.5 billion—projects (LAAP) approved by the OCD.25 imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion.28

For 2001 Indeed, the Oversight Committee exercising discretion, even control, over the
distribution and release of a portion of the IRA, the LGSEF, is an anathema to and
P3 billion—Modified Sharing Formula (Provinces—25%; subversive of the principle of local autonomy as embodied in the Constitution.
Moreover, it finds no statutory basis at all as the Oversight Committee was created
Cities—25%; Municipalities—35%; Barangays—15%)
merely to formulate the rules and regulations for the efficient and effective
P1.9 billion—priority projects implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991 to ensure “compliance with
the principles of local autonomy as defined under the Constitution.”29 In fact, its
P100 million—capability building fund.26 creation was placed
Significantly, the LGSEF could not be released to the LGUs without the Oversight under the title of “Transitory Provisions,” signifying its ad hoc character. According
Committee’s prior approval. Further, with respect to the portion of the LGSEF to Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, the principal author and sponsor of the bill that
allocated for various projects of the LGUs (P1 billion for 1999; P1.5 billion for 2000 eventually became Rep. Act No. 7160, the Committee’s work was supposed to be
and P2 billion for 2001), the Oversight Committee, through the assailed OCD done a year from the approval of the Code, or on October 10, 1992.30 The
resolutions, laid down guidelines and mechanisms that the LGUs had to comply Oversight Committee’s authority is undoubtedly limited to the implementation of
with before they could avail of funds from this portion of the LGSEF. The guidelines the Local Government Code of 1991, not to supplant or subvert the same. Neither
required (a) the LGUs to identify the projects eligible for funding based on the can it exercise control over the IRA, or even a portion thereof, of the LGUs.
criteria laid down by the Oversight Committee; (b) the LGUs to submit their project
proposal’s to the DILG for appraisal; (c) the project proposals that passed the
That the automatic release of the IRA was precisely intended to guarantee and MR. MAAMBONG. Also, this provision on “automatic release of national tax share”
promote local autonomy can be gleaned from the discussion below between points to more local autonomy. Is this the intention?
Messrs. Jose N. Nolledo and Regalado M. Maambong, then members of the 1986
Constitutional Commission, to wit: MR. NOLLEDO. Yes, the Commissioner is perfectly right.32

MR. MAAMBONG. Unfortunately, under Section 198 of the Local Government The concept of local autonomy was explained in Ganzon v. Court of Appeals33 in
Code, the existence of subprovinces is still acknowledged by the law, but the this wise:
statement of the Gentleman on this point will have to be taken up probably by the As the Constitution itself declares, local autonomy ‘means a more responsive and
Committee on Legislation. A second point, Mr. Presiding Officer, is that under Article accountable local government structure instituted through a system of
2, Section 10 of the 1973 Constitution, we have a provision which states: decentralization.’ The Constitution, as we observed, does nothing more than to
The State shall guarantee and promote the autonomy of local government units, break up the monopoly of the national government over the affairs of local
especially the barrio, to insure their fullest development as self-reliant governments and as put by political adherents, to “liberate the local governments
communities. from the imperialism of Manila.” Autonomy, however, is not meant to end the
relation of partnership and interdependence between the central administration
This provision no longer appears in the present configuration; does this mean that and local government units, or otherwise, to usher in a regime of federalism. The
the concept of giving local autonomy to local governments is no longer adopted as Charter has not taken such a radical step. Local governments, under the
far as this Article is concerned? Constitution, are subject to regulation, however limited, and for no other purpose
than precisely, albeit paradoxically, to enhance self-government.
MR. NOLLEDO. No. In the report of the Committee on Preamble, National Territory,
and Declaration of Principles, that concept is included and widened upon the As we observed in one case, decentralization means devolution of national
initiative of Commissioner Bennagen. administration—but not power—to the local levels. Thus:

MR. MAAMBONG. Thank you for that. Now, autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of
power. There is decentralization of administration when the central government
With regard to Section 6, sources of revenue, the creation of sources as provided by delegates administrative powers to political subdivisions in order to broaden the
previous law was, “subject to limitations as may be provided by law,” but now, we base of government power and in the process to make local governments ‘more
are using the term “subject to such guidelines as may be fixed by law.” In Section 7, responsive and accountable’ and ‘ensure their fullest development as self-reliant
mention is made about the “unique, distinct and exclusive charges and communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national
contributions,” and in Section 8, we talk about “exclusivity of local taxes and the development and social progress.’ At the same time, it relieves the central
share in the national wealth.” Incidentally, I was one of the authors of this government of the burden of managing local affairs and enables it to concentrate
provision, and I am very thankful. Does this indicate local autonomy, or was the on national concerns. The President exercises ‘general supervision’ over them, but
wording of the law changed to give more autonomy to the local government units? only to ‘ensure that local affairs are administered according to law.’ He has no
31 control over their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his
MR. NOLLEDO. Yes. In effect, those words indicate also “decentralization” because own.
local political units can collect taxes, fees and charges subject merely to guidelines, Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political
as recommended by the league of governors and city mayors, with whom I had a power in the [sic] favor of local governments [sic] units declared to be autonomous.
dialogue for almost two hours. They told me that limitations may be questionable In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart its own destiny and shape
in the sense that Congress may limit and in effect deny the right later on. its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a
constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to ‘self-immolation,’ since
in that event, the autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991
authorities but to its constituency.34
Section 28438 of the Local Government Code provides that, beginning the third
year of its effectivity, the LGUs’ share in the

Local autonomy includes both administrative and fiscal autonomy. The fairly recent national internal revenue taxes shall be 40%. This percentage is fixed and may not
case of Pimentel v. Aguirre35 is particularly instructive. The Court declared therein be reduced except “in the event the national government incurs an unmanageable
that local fiscal autonomy includes the power of the LGUs to, inter alia, allocate public sector deficit” and only upon compliance with stringent requirements set
their resources in accordance with their own priorities: forth in the same section:

Under existing law, local government units, in addition to having administrative Sec. 284.
autonomy in the exercise of their functions, enjoy fiscal autonomy as well. Fiscal
autonomy means that local governments have the power to create their own Provided, That in the event that the national government incurs an unmanageable
sources of revenue in addition to their equitable share in the national taxes public sector deficit, the President of the Philippines is hereby authorized, upon
released by the national government, as well as the power to allocate their recommendation of Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Interior and Local
resources in accordance with their own priorities. It extends to the preparation of Government and Secretary of Budget and Management, and subject to consultation
their budgets, and local officials in turn have to work within the constraints thereof. with the presiding officers of both Houses of Congress and the presidents of the
They are not formulated at the national level and imposed on local governments, liga, to make the necessary adjustments in the internal revenue allotment of local
whether they are relevant to local needs and resources or not . . .36 government units but in no case shall the allotment be less than thirty percent
(30%) of the collection of the national internal revenue taxes of the third fiscal year
Further, a basic feature of local fiscal autonomy is the constitutionally mandated preceding the current fiscal year; Provided, further That in the first year of the
automatic release of the shares of LGUs in the national internal revenue.37 effectivity of this Code, the local government units shall, in addition to the thirty
percent (30%) internal revenue allotment which shall include the cost of devolved
Following this ratiocination, the Court in Pimentel struck down as unconstitutional functions for essential public services, be entitled to receive the amount equivalent
Section 4 of Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 372 which ordered the withholding, to the cost of devolved personnel services.
effective January 1, 1998, of ten percent of the LGUs’ IRA “pending the assessment
and evaluation by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee of the Thus, from the above provision, the only possible exception to the mandatory
emerging fiscal situation.” automatic release of the LGUs’ IRA is if the national internal revenue collections for
the current fiscal year is less than 40 percent of the collections of the preceding
In like manner, the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the third fiscal year, in which case what should be automatically released shall be a
OCD resolutions constitute a “withholding” of a portion of the IRA. They put on proportionate amount of the collections for the current fiscal year. The adjustment
hold the distribution and release of the five billion pesos LGSEF and subject the may even be made on a quarterly basis depending on the actual collections of
same to the implementing rules and regulations, including the guidelines and national internal revenue taxes for the quarter of the current fiscal year. In the
mechanisms prescribed by the Oversight Committee from time to time. Like Section instant case, however, there is no allegation that the national internal revenue tax
4 of A.O. 372, the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the collections for the fiscal years 1999, 2000 and 2001 have fallen compared to the
OCD resolutions effectively encroach on the fiscal autonomy enjoyed by the LGUs preceding three fiscal years.
and must be struck down. They cannot, therefore, be upheld.
Section 285 then specifies how the IRA shall be allocated among the LGUs:
The assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000
Sec. 285. Allocation to Local Government Units.—The share of local government
and 2001 and the OCD resolutions cannot amend units in the internal revenue allotment shall be allocated in the following manner:
(a) Provinces—Twenty-three (23 %) It is relevant to point out at this juncture that, unlike those of 1999, 2000 and 2001,
the GAAs of 2002 and 2003 do not contain provisos similar to the herein assailed
(b) Cities—Twenty-three percent (23%); provisos. In other words, the GAAs of 2002 and 2003 have not earmarked any
(c) Municipalities—Thirty-four (34%); and amount of the IRA for the LGSEF. Congress had perhaps seen fit to discontinue the
practice as it recognizes its infirmity. Nonetheless, as earlier mentioned, this Court
(d) Barangays—Twenty percent (20%). has deemed it necessary to make a definitive ruling on the matter in order to
prevent its recurrence in future appropriations laws and that the principles
However, this percentage sharing is not followed with respect to the five billion enunciated herein would serve to guide the bench, bar and public.
pesos LGSEF as the assailed OCD resolutions, implementing the assailed provisos in
the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, provided for a different sharing scheme. For Conclusion
example, for 1999, P2 billion of the LGSEF was allocated as follows: Provinces—
40%; Cities—20%; Municipalities—40%.39 For 2000, P3.5 billion of the LGSEF was In closing, it is well to note that the principle of local autonomy, while concededly
allocated in this manner: Prov-inces—26%; Cities—23%; Municipalities—35%; expounded in greater detail in the present Constitution, dates back to the turn of
Barangays—26%.40 For 2001, P3 billion of the LGSEF was allocated, thus: Prov-inces the century when President William McKinley, in his Instructions to the Second
—25%; Cities—25%; Municipalities—35%; Barangays—15%.41 Philippine

The respondents argue that this modification is allowed since the Constitution does Commission dated April 7, 1900, ordered the new Government “to devote their
not specify that the “just share” of the LGUs shall only be determined by the Local attention in the first instance to the establishment of municipal governments in
Government Code of 1991. That it is within the power of Congress to enact other which the natives of the Islands, both in the cities and in the rural communities,
laws, including the GAAs, to increase or decrease the “just share” of the LGUs. This shall be afforded the opportunity to manage their own affairs to the fullest extent
contention is untenable. The Local Government Code of 1991 is a substantive law. of which they are capable, and subject to the least degree of supervision and
And while it is conceded that Congress may amend any of the provisions therein, it control in which a careful study of their capacities and observation of the workings
may not do so through appropriations laws or GAAs. Any amendment to the Local of native control show to be consistent with the maintenance of law, order and
Government Code of 1991 should be done in a separate law, not in the loyalty.”45 While the 1935 Constitution had no specific article on local autonomy,
appropriations law, because Congress cannot include in a general appropriation bill nonetheless, it limited the executive power over local governments to “general
matters that should be more properly enacted in a separate legislation.42 supervision . . . as may be provided by law.”46 Subsequently, the 1973 Constitution
explicitly stated that “[t]he State shall guarantee and promote the autonomy of
A general appropriations bill is a special type of legislation, whose content is limited local government units, especially the barangay to ensure their fullest development
to specified sums of money dedicated to a specific purpose or a separate fiscal as self-reliant communities.”47 An entire article on Local Government was
unit.43 Any provision therein which is intended to amend another law is considered incorporated therein. The present Constitution, as earlier opined, has broadened
an “inappropriate provision.” The category of “inappropriate provisions” includes the principle of local autonomy. The 14 sections in Article X thereof markedly
unconstitutional provisions and provisions which are intended to amend other laws, increased the powers of the local governments in order to accomplish the goal of a
because clearly these kinds of laws have no place in an appropriations bill.44 more meaningful local autonomy.

Increasing or decreasing the IRA of the LGUs or modifying their percentage sharing Indeed, the value of local governments as institutions of democracy is measured by
therein, which are fixed in the Local Government Code of 1991, are matters of the degree of autonomy that they enjoy.48 As eloquently put by M. De Tocqueville,
general and substantive law. To permit Congress to undertake these amendments a distinguished French political writer, “[l]ocal assemblies of citizens constitute the
through the GAAs, as the respondents contend, would be to give Congress the strength of free nations. Township meetings are to liberty what primary schools are
unbridled authority to unduly infringe the fiscal autonomy of the LGUs, and thus to science; they bring it within the people’s reach; they teach men how to use and
put the same in jeopardy every year. This, the Court cannot sanction. enjoy it. A nation may establish a system of free governments but without the spirit
of municipal institutions, it cannot have the spirit of liberty.”49
Our national officials should not only comply with the constitutional provisions on
local autonomy but should also appreciate the spirit and liberty upon which these
provisions are based.50

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed provisos in the General


Appropriations Acts of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the assailed OCD Resolutions, are
declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 91649. May 14, 1991.*

ATTORNEYS HUMBERTO BASCO, EDILBERTO BALCE, SOCRATES MARANAN AND


LORENZO SANCHEZ, petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENTS AND GAMING
CORPORATION (PAGCOR), respondent.

Constitutional Law; Taxation; Municipal Corporations; Municipal corporations have


no inherent power to tax; their power to tax must always yield to a legislative act.—
The City of Manila, being a mere Municipal corporation has no inherent right to
impose taxes (Icard v. City of Baguio, 83 Phil. 870; City of Iloilo v. Villanueva, 105
Phil. 337; Santos v. Municipality of Caloocan, 7 SCRA 643). Thus, “the Charter or
statute must plainly show an intent to confer that power or the municipality cannot
assume it” (Medina v. City of Baguio, 12 SCRA 62). Its “power to tax” therefore must
always yield to a legislative act which is superior having been passed upon by the
state itself which has the “inherent power to tax” (Bernas, the Revised [1973]
Philippine Constitution, Vol. 1, 1983 ed. p. 445).

Same; Same; Same; Same; Congress has the power of control over local
governments; if Congress can grant a municipal corporation the power to tax
certain matters, it can also provide for exemptions or even take back the power.—
The Charter of the City of Manila is subject to control by Congress. It should be
stressed that “municipal corporations are mere creatures of Congress” (Unson v.
Lacson, G.R. No. 7909, January 18, 1957) which has the power to “create and italics supplied). Otherwise, mere creatures of the State can defeat National policies
abolish municipal corporations” due to its “general legislative powers” (Asuncion v. thru extermination of what local authorities may perceive to be undesirable
Yriantes, 28 Phil. 67; Merdanillo v. Orandia, 5 SCRA 541). Congress, therefore, has activities or enterprise using the power to tax as “a tool for regulation” (U.S. v.
the power of control over local governments (Hebron v. Reyes, G.R. No. 9124, July Sanchez, 340 US 42). The power to tax which was called by Justice Marshall as the
2, 1950). And if Congress can grant the City of Manila the power to tax certain “power to destroy” (Mc Culloch v. Maryland, supra) cannot be allowed to defeat an
matters, it can also provide for exemptions or even take back the power. instrumentality or creation of the very entity which has the inherent power to wield
it.
Same; Same; Same; License Fees; The power of local governments to regulate
gambling thru the grant of franchises, licenses or permits was withdrawn by PD Same; Same; Same; Same; The power of local government to impose taxes and fees
771, it is now vested exclusively on the National Government.—The City of Manila’s is always subject to limitations which Congress may provide by law.—The power of
power to impose license fees on gambling, has long been revoked. As early as 1975, local government to “impose taxes and fees” is always subject to “limitations”
the power of local governments to regulate gambling thru the grant of “franchise, which Congress may provide by law. Since PD 1869 remains an “operative” law until
licenses or permits” was withdrawn by P.D. No. 771 and was vested exclusively on “amended, repealed or revoked” (Sec. 3, Art. XVIII, 1987 Constitution), its
the National Government. xxx xxx Therefore, only the National Government has the “exemption clause” remains as an exception to the exercise of the power of local
power to issue “licenses or permits” for the operation of gambling. Necessarily, the governments to impose taxes and fees. It cannot therefore be violative but rather is
power to demand or collect license fees which is a consequence of the issuance of consistent with the principle of local autonomy.
“licenses or permits” is no longer vested in the City of Manila.
Same; Same; Same; Local Autonomy; The principle of local autonomy does not
Same; Same; Same; Same; Local governments have no power to tax make local governments sovereign within the state, it simply means
instrumentalities of the National Government; PAGCOR, being an instrumentality of decentralization.—Besides, the principle of local autonomy under the 1987
the Government, is therefore exempt from local taxes.—Local governments have no Constitution simply means “decentralization” (III Records of the 1987 Constitutional
power to tax instrumentalities of the National Government. PAGCOR is a Commission, pp. 435-436, as cited in Bernas, the Constitution of the Republic of the
government owned or controlled corporation with an original charter, PD 1869. All Philippines, Vol. II, First Ed., 1988, p. 374). It does not make local governments
of its shares of stocks are owned by the National Government. xxx xxx PAGCOR has sovereign within the state or an “imperium in imperio.” Local Government has been
a dual role, to operate and to regulate gambling casinos. The latter role is described as a political subdivision of a nation or state which is constituted by law
governmental, which places it in the category of an agency or instrumentality of the and has substantial control of local affairs. In a unitary system of government, such
Government. Being an instrumentality of the Government, PAGCOR should be and as the government under the Philippine Constitution, local governments can only
actually is exempt from local taxes. Otherwise, its operation might be burdened, be an intra sovereign subdivision of one sovereign nation, it cannot be an imperium
impeded or subjected to control by a mere Local government. “The states have no in imperio. Local government in such a system can only mean a measure of
power by taxation or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden or in any manner control decentralization of the function of government. (italics supplied)
the operation of constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the
powers vested in the federal government.” (MC Culloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat 316, Same; Equal Protection Clause; The “equal protection” clause does not preclude
4 L Ed. 579) This doctrine emanates from the “supremacy” of the National classification of individuals who may be accorded different treatment under the law
Government over local governments. “Justice Holmes, speaking for the Supreme as long as the classification is not unreasonable or arbitrary.—Petitioners next
Court, made reference to the entire absence of power on the part of the States to contend that P.D. 1869 violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution,
touch, in that way (taxation) at least, the instrumentalities of the United States because “it legalized PAGCOR—conducted gambling, while most gambling are
(Johnson v. Maryland, 254 US 51) and it can be agreed that no state or political outlawed together with prostitution, drug trafficking and other vices” (p. 82, Rollo).
subdivision can regulate a federal instrumentality in such a way as to prevent it We, likewise, find no valid ground to sustain this contention. The petitioners’
from consummating its federal responsibilities, or even to seriously burden it in the posture ignores the well-accepted meaning of the clause “equal protection of the
accomplishment of them.” (Antieau, Modern Constitutional Law, Vol. 2, p. 140, laws.” The clause does not preclude classification of individuals who may be
accorded different treatment under the law as long as the classification is not principles on social justice, role of youth and educational values” being raised, is up
unreasonable or arbitrary (Itchong v. Hernandez, 101 Phil. 1155). A law does not for Congress to determine.
have to operate in equal force on all persons or things to be conformable to Article
III, Section 1 of the Constitution (DECS v. San Diego, G.R. No. 89572, December 21, PADILLA, J., Concurring
1989). The “equal protection clause” does not prohibit the Legislature from Constitutional Law; Legislative Department; The legislative department must
establishing classes of individuals or objects upon which different rules shall outlaw all forms of gambling, as a fundamental policy.—Gambling is reprehensible
operate (Laurel v. Misa, 43 O.G. 2847). The Constitution does not require situations whether maintained by government or privatized. The revenues realized by the
which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the government out of “legalized” gambling will, in the long run, be more than offset
same (Gomez v. Palomar, 25 SCRA 827). Just how P.D. 1869 in legalizing gambling and negated by the irreparable damage to the people’s moral values. Also, the
conducted by PAGCOR is violative of the equal protection is not clearly explained in moral standing of the government in its repeated avowals against “illegal gambling”
the petition. The mere fact that some gambling activities like cockfighting (P.D. 449) is fatally flawed and becomes untenable when it itself engages in the very activity it
horse racing (R.A. 306 as amended by RA 983), sweepstakes, lotteries and races (RA seeks to eradicate. One can go through the Court’s decision today and mentally
1169 as amended by B.P. 42) are legalized under certain conditions, while others replace the activity referred to therein as gambling, which is legal only because it is
are prohibited, does not render the applicable laws, P.D. 1869 for one, authorized by law and run by the government, with the activity known as
unconstitutional. “If the law presumably hits the evil where it is most felt, it is not prostitution. Would prostitution be any less reprehensible were it to be authorized
to be overthrown because there are other instances to which it might have been by law, franchised, and “regulated” by the government, in return for the substantial
applied.” (Gomez v. Palomar, 25 SCRA 827) “The equal protection clause of the 14 revenues it would yield the government to carry out its laudable projects, such as
th Amendment does not mean that all occupations called by the same name must infrastructure and social amelioration? The question, I believe, answers itself. I
be treated the same way; the state may do what it can to prevent which is deemed submit that the sooner the legislative department outlaws all forms of gambling, as
as evil and stop short of those cases in which harm to the few concerned is not less a fundamental state policy, and the sooner the executive implements such policy,
than the harm to the public that would insure if the rule laid down were made the better it will be for the nation.
mathematically exact.” (Dominican Hotel v. Arizana, 249 U.S. 2651).
PARAS, J.:

A TV ad proudly announces:
Same; Statutes; Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality, for a
law to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal breach of “The new PAGCOR—responding through responsible gaming.”
the Constitution.—Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality
(Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387; Salas v. Jarencio, 48 SCRA 734; Peralta v. But the petitioners think otherwise, that is why, they filed the instant petition
Comelec, 82 SCRA 30; Abbas v. Comelec, 179 SCRA 287). Therefore, for PD 1869 to seeking to annul the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)
be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal breach of the Charter—PD 1869, because it is allegedly contrary to morals, public policy and
Constitution, not merely a doubtful and equivocal one. In other words, the grounds order, and because—
for nullity must be clear and beyond reasonable doubt. (Peralta v. Comelec, supra)
“A. It constitutes a waiver of a right prejudicial to a third person with a right
Those who petition this Court to declare a law, or parts thereof, unconstitutional
recognized by law. It waived the Manila City government’s right to impose taxes and
must clearly establish the basis for such a declaration. Otherwise, their petition
license fees, which is recognized by law;
must fail. Based on the grounds raised by petitioners to challenge the
constitutionality of P.D. 1869, the Court finds that petitioners have failed to “B. For the same reason stated in the immediately preceding paragraph, the law
overcome the presumption. The dismissal of this petition is therefore, inevitable. has intruded into the local government’s right to impose local taxes and license
But as to whether P.D. 1869 remains a wise legislation considering the issues of fees. This, in contravention of the constitutionally enshrined principle of local
“morality, monopoly, trend to free enterprise, privatization as well as the state autonomy;
“C. It violates the equal protection clause of the constitution in that it legalizes “(b) To establish and operate clubs and casinos, for amusement and recreation,
PAGCOR—conducted gambling, while most other forms of gambling are outlawed, including sports gaming pools, (basketball, football, lotteries, etc.) and such other
together with prostitution, drug trafficking and other vices; forms of amusement and recreation including games of chance, which may be
allowed by law within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines and which will:
“C. It violates the avowed trend of the Cory government away from monopolistic (1) generate sources of additional revenue to fund infrastructure and socio-civic
and crony economy, and toward free enterprise and privatization.” (p. 2, Amended projects, such as flood control programs, beautification, sewerage and sewage
Petition; p. 7, Rollo) projects, Tulungan ng Bayan Centers, Nutritional Programs, Population Control and
In their Second Amended Petition, petitioners also claim that PD 1869 is contrary to such other essential public services; (2) create recreation and integrated facilities
the declared national policy of the “new restored democracy” and the people’s will which will expand and improve the country’s existing tourist attractions; and (3)
as expressed in the 1987 Constitution. The decree is said to have a “gambling minimize, if not totally eradicate, all the evils, malpractices and corruptions that are
objective” and therefore is contrary to Sections 11, 12 and 13 of Article II, Sec. 1 of normally prevalent on the conduct and operation of gambling clubs and casinos
Article VIII and Section 3 (2) of Article XIV, of the present Constitution (p. 3, Second without direct government involvement.” (Section 1, P.D. 1869)
Amended Petition; p. 21, Rollo). To attain these objectives PAGCOR is given territorial jurisdiction all over the
The procedural issue is whether petitioners, as taxpayers and practicing lawyers Philippines. Under its Charter’s repealing clause, all laws, decrees, executive orders,
(petitioner Basco being also the Chairman of the Committee on Laws of the City rules and regulations, inconsistent therewith, are accordingly repealed, amended or
Council of Manila), can question and seek the annulment of PD 1869 on the alleged modified.
grounds mentioned above. It is reported that PAGCOR is the third largest source of government revenue, next
The Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) was created by to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. In 1989 alone,
virtue of P.D. 1067-A dated January 1, 1977 and was granted a franchise under P.D PAGCOR earned P3.43 Billion, and directly remitted to the National Government a
1067-B also dated January 1, 1977 “to establish, operate and maintain gambling total of P2.5 Billion in form of franchise tax, government’s income share, the
casinos on land or water within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines.” Its President’s Social Fund and Host Cities’ share. In addition, PAGCOR sponsored other
operation was originally conducted in the well known floating casino “Philippine sociocultural and charitable projects on its own or in cooperation with various
Tourist.” The operation was considered a success for it proved to be a potential governmental agencies, and other private associations and organizations. In its 3
source of revenue to fund infrastructure and socioeconomic projects, thus, P.D. 1/2 years of operation under the present administration, PAGCOR remitted to the
1399 was passed on June 2, 1978 for PAGCOR to fully attain this objective. government a total of P6.2 Billion. As of December 31, 1989, PAGCOR was
employing 4,494 employees in its nine (9) casinos nationwide, directly supporting
Subsequently, on July 11, 1983, PAGCOR was created under P.D. 1869 to enable the the livelihood of Four Thousand Four Hundred Ninety-Four (4,494) families.
Government to regulate and centralize all games of chance authorized by existing
franchise or permitted by law, under the following declared policy— But the petitioners, are questioning the validity of P.D No. 1869. They allege that
the same is “null and void” for being “contrary to morals, public policy and public
“Section 1 . Declaration of Policy.—It is hereby declared to be the policy of the order,” monopolistic and tends toward “crony economy”, and is violative of the
State to centralize and integrate all games of chance not heretofore authorized by equal protection clause and local autonomy as well as for running counter to the
existing franchises or permitted by law in order to attain the following objectives: state policies enunciated in Sections 11 (Personal Dignity and Human Rights), 12
(Family) and 13 (Role of Youth) of Article II, Section 1 (Social Justice) of Article XIII
“(a) To centralize and integrate the right and authority to operate and conduct and Section 2 (Educational Values) of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution.
games of chance into one corporate entity to be controlled, administered and
supervised by the Government. This challenge to P.D. No. 1869 deserves a searching and thorough scrutiny and the
most deliberate consideration by the Court, involving as it does the exercise of what
has been described as “the highest and most delicate function which belongs to the
judicial department of the government.” (State v. Manuel, 20 N.C. 144; Lozano v. cognizance of this petition. (Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng
Martinez, 146 SCRA 323). Pilipinas Inc. v. Tan, 163 SCRA 371)

As We enter upon the task of passing on the validity of an act of a co-equal and “With particular regard to the requirement of proper party as applied in the cases
coordinate branch of the government We need not be reminded of the time- before us, We hold that the same is satisfied by the petitioners and intervenors
honored principle, deeply ingrained in our jurisprudence, that a statute is presumed because each of them has sustained or is in danger of sustaining an immediate
to be valid. Every presumption must be indulged in favor of its constitutionality. This injury as a result of the acts or measures complained of. And even if, strictly
is not to say that We approach Our task with diffidence or timidity. Where it is clear speaking they are not covered by the definition, it is still within the wide discretion
that the legislature or the executive for that matter, has over-stepped the limits of of the Court to waive the requirement and so remove the impediment to its
its authority under the constitution, We should not hesitate to wield the axe and let addressing and resolving the serious constitutional questions raised.
it fall heavily, as fall it must, on the offending statute (Lozano v. Martinez, supra).
“In the first Emergency Powers Cases, ordinary citizens and taxpayers were allowed
In Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers’ Union, et al, 59 SCRA 54, the Court thru Mr. to question the constitutionality of several executive orders issued by President
Justice Zaldivar underscored the— Quirino although they were involving only an indirect and general interest shared in
common with the public. The Court dismissed the objection that they were not
proper parties and ruled that ‘the transcendental importance to the public of these
“x x x thoroughly established principle which must be followed in all cases where cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we
questions of constitutionality as obtain in the instant cases are involved. All must technicalities of procedure.’ We have since then applied the exception in
presumptions are indulged in favor of constitutionality; one who attacks a statute many other cases.” (Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines, Inc. v. Sec.
alleging unconstitutionality must prove its invalidity beyond a reasonable doubt; of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 343).
that a law may work hardship does not render it unconstitutional; that if any Having disposed of the procedural issue, We will now discuss the substantive issues
reasonable basis may be conceived which supports the statute, it will be upheld raised.
and the challenger must negate all possible basis; that the courts are not concerned
with the wisdom, justice, policy or expediency of a statute and that a liberal Gambling in all its forms, unless allowed by law, is generally prohibited. But the
interpretation of the constitution in favor of the constitutionality of legislation prohibition of gambling does not mean that the Government cannot regulate it in
should be adopted.” (Danner v. Hass, 194 N.W. 2nd 534, 539; Spurbeck v. Statton, the exercise of its police power.
106 N.W. 2 nd 660, 663; 59 SCRA 66; see also e.g. Salas v. Jarencio, 46 SCRA 734,
739 [1970]; Peralta v. Commission on Elections, 82 SCRA 30, 55 [1978]; and Heirs of The concept of police power is well-established in this jurisdiction. It has been
Ordona v. Reyes, 125 SCRA 220, 241-242 [1983] cited in Citizens Alliance for defined as the “state authority to enact legislation that may interfere with personal
Consumer Protection v. Energy Regulatory Board, 162 SCRA 521, 540) liberty or property in order to promote the general welfare.” (Edu v. Ericta, 35 SCRA
481, 487) As defined, it consists of (1) an imposition or restraint upon liberty or
Of course, there is first, the procedural issue. The respondents are questioning the property, (2) in order to foster the common good. It is not capable of an exact
legal personality of petitioners to file the instant petition. definition but has been, purposely, veiled in general terms to underscore its all-
comprehensive embrace. (Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. v. Drilon,
Considering however the importance to the public of the case at bar, and in keeping 163 SCRA 386).
with the Court’s duty, under the 1987 Constitution, to determine whether or not
the other branches of government have kept themselves within the limits of the Its scope, ever-expanding to meet the exigencies of the times, even to anticipate
Constitution and the laws and that they have not abused the discretion given to the future where it could be done, provides enough room for an efficient and
them, the Court has brushed aside technicalities of procedure and has taken flexible response to conditions and circumstances thus assuming the greatest
benefits. (Edu v. Ericta, supra)
It finds no specific Constitutional grant for the plain reason that it does not owe its lieu of all kinds of taxes, levies, fees or assessments of any kind, nature or
origin to the charter. Along with the taxing power and eminent domain, it is inborn description, levied, established or collected by any municipal, provincial or national
in the very fact of statehood and sovereignty. It is a fundamental attribute of government authority” (Section 13 [2]).
government that has enabled it to perform the most vital functions of governance.
Marshall, to whom the expression has been credited, refers to it succinctly as the Their contention stated hereinabove is without merit for the following reasons:
plenary power of the state “to govern its citizens”. (Tribe, American Constitutional (a) The City of Manila, being a mere Municipal corporation has no inherent right to
Law, 323, 1978). The police power of the State is a power coextensive with self- impose taxes (Icard v. City of Baguio, 83 Phil. 870; City of Iloilo v. Villanueva, 105
protection and is most aptly termed the “law of overwhelming necessity.” (Rubi v. Phil. 337; Santos v. Municipality of Caloocan, 7 SCRA 643). Thus, “the Charter or
Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil. 660, 708) It is “the most essential, insistent, statute must plainly show an intent to confer that power or the municipality cannot
and illimitable of powers.” (Smith Bell & Co. v. National, 40 Phil. 136) It is a dynamic assume it” (Medina v. City of Baguio, 12 SCRA 62). Its “power to tax” therefore must
force that enables the state to meet the exigencies of the winds of change. always yield to a legislative act which is superior having been passed upon by the
What was the reason behind the enactment of P.D. 1869? state itself which has the “inherent power to tax” (Bernas, the Revised [1973]
Philippine Constitution, Vol. 1, 1983 ed. p. 445).
P.D. 1869 was enacted pursuant to the policy of the government to “regulate and
centralize thru an appropriate institution all games of chance authorized by existing (b) The Charter of the City of Manila is subject to control by Congress. It should be
franchise or permitted by law” (1st whereas clause, PD 1869). As was subsequently stressed that “municipal corporations are mere creatures of Congress” (Unson v.
proved, regulating and centralizing gambling operations in one corporate entity— Lacson, G.R. No. 7909, January 18, 1957) which has the power to “create and
the PAGCOR, was beneficial not just to the Government but to society in general. It abolish municipal corporations” due to its “general legislative powers” (Asuncion v.
is a reliable source of much needed revenue for the cash strapped Government. It Yriantes, 28 Phil. 67; Merdanillo v. Orandia, 5 SCRA 541). Congress, therefore, has
provided funds for social impact projects and subjected gambling to “close scrutiny, the power of control over Local governments (Hebron v. Reyes, G.R. No. 9124, July
regulation, supervision and control of the Government” (4th Whereas Clause, PD 2, 1950). And if Congress can grant the City of Manila the power to tax certain
1869). With the creation of PAGCOR and the direct intervention of the Government, matters, it can also provide for exemptions or even take back the power.
the evil practices and corruptions that go with gambling will be minimized if not (c) The City of Manila’s power to impose license fees on gambling, has long been
totally eradicated. Public welfare, then, lies at the bottom of the enactment of PD revoked. As early as 1975, the power of local governments to regulate gambling
1896. thru the grant of “franchise, licenses or permits” was withdrawn by P.D. No. 771
Petitioners contend that P.D. 1869 constitutes a waiver of the right of the City of and was vested exclusively on the National Government, thus:
Manila to impose taxes and legal fees; that the exemption clause in P.D. 1869 is “Section 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the authority of
violative of the principle of local autonomy. They must be referring to Section 13 chartered cities and other local governments to issue license, permit or other form
par. (2) of P.D. 1869 which exempts PAGCOR, as the franchise holder from paying of franchise to operate, maintain and establish horse and dog race tracks, jai-alai
any “tax of any kind or form, income or otherwise, as well as fees, charges or levies and other forms of gambling is hereby revoked.
of whatever nature, whether National or Local.”
“Section 2. Hereafter, all permits or franchises to operate, maintain and establish,
“(2)Income and other taxes.—(a) Franchise Holder: No tax of any kind or form, horse and dog race tracks, jai-alai and other forms of gambling shall be issued by
income or otherwise as well as fees, charges or levies of whatever nature, whether the national government upon proper application and verification of the
National or Local, shall be assessed and collected under this franchise from the qualification of the applicant x x x.”
Corporation; nor shall any form of tax or charge attach in any way to the earnings of
the Corporation, except a franchise tax of five (5%) percent of the gross revenues or
earnings derived by the Corporation from its operations under this franchise. Such
tax shall be due and payable quarterly to the National Government and shall be in
Therefore, only the National Government has the power to issue “licenses or responsibilities, or even to seriously burden it in the accmplishment of them.”
permits” for the operation of gambling. Necessarily, the power to demand or collect (Antieau, Modern Constitutional Law, Vol. 2, p. 140, italics supplied)
license fees which is a consequence of the issuance of “licenses or permits” is no
longer vested in the City of Manila. Otherwise, mere creatures of the State can defeat National policies thru
extermination of what local authorities may perceive to be undesirable activities or
(d) Local governments have no power to tax instrumentalities of the National enterprise using the power to tax as “a tool for regulation” (U.S. v. Sanchez, 340 US
Government. PAGCOR is a government owned or controlled corporation with an 42). The power to tax which was called by Justice Marshall as the “power to
original charter, PD 1869. All of its shares of stocks are owned by the National destroy” (Mc Culloch v. Maryland, supra) cannot be allowed to defeat an
instrumentality or creation of the very entity which has the inherent power to wield
Government. In addition to its corporate powers (Sec. 3, Title II,PD 1869) it also it.
exercises regulatory powers, thus:
(e) Petitioners also argue that the Local Autonomy Clause of the Constitution will be
“Sec. 9. Regulatory Power.—The Corporation shall maintain a Registry of the violated by P.D. 1869. This is a pointless argument. Article X of the 1987
affiliated entities, and shall exercise all the powers, authority and the Constitution (on Local Autonomy) provides:
responsibilities vested in the Securities and Exchange Commission over such
affiliating entities mentioned under the preceding section, including, but not “Sec. 5. Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own source of
limited to amendments of Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, changes in revenue and to levy taxes, fees, and other charges subject to such guidelines and
corporate term, structure, capitalization and other matters concerning the limitation as the congress may provide, consistent with the basic policy on local
operation of the affiliated entities, the provisions of the Corporation Code of the autonomy. Such taxes, fees and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local
Philippines to the contrary notwithstanding, except only with respect to original government.” (italics supplied)
incorporation.”
The power of local government to “impose taxes and fees” is always subject to
PAGCOR has a dual role, to operate and to regulate gambling casinos. The latter role “limitations” which Congress may provide by law. Since PD 1869 remains an
is governmental, which places it in the category of an agency or instrumentality of “operative” law until “amended, repealed or revoked” (Sec. 3, Art. XVIII, 1987
the Government. Being an instrumentality of the Government, PAGCOR should be Constitution), its “exemption clause” remains as an exception to the exercise of the
and actually is exempt from local taxes. Otherwise, its operation might be power of local governments to impose taxes and fees. It cannot therefore be
burdened, impeded or subjected to control by a mere Local government. violative but rather is consistent with the principle of local autonomy.

“The states have no power by taxation or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden or in Besides, the principle of local autonomy under the 1987 Constitution simply means
any manner control the operation of constitutional laws enacted by Congress to “decentralization” (III Records of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, pp. 435-436,
carry into execution the powers vested in the federal government.” (MC Culloch v. as cited in Bernas, The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Vol. II, First
Marland, 4 Wheat 316, 4 L Ed. 579) Ed., 1988, p. 374). It does not make local governments sovereign within the state or
an “imperium in imperio.”
This doctrine emanates from the “supremacy” of the National Government over
local governments. “Local Government has been described as a political subdivision of a nation or state
which is constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs. In a unitary
“Justice Holmes, speaking for the Supreme Court, made reference to the entire system of government, such as the government under the Philippine Constitution,
absence of power on the part of the States to touch, in that way (taxation) at least, local governments can only be an intra sovereign subdivision of one sovereign
the instrumentalities of the United States (Johnson v. Maryland, 254 US 51) and it nation, it cannot be an imperium in imperio . Local government in such a system
can be agreed that no state or political subdivision can regulate a federal can only mean a measure of decentralization of the function of government. (italics
instrumentality in such a way as to prevent it from consummating its federal supplied)
As to what state powers should be “decentralized” and what may be delegated to amended by B.P. 42) are legalized under certain conditions, while others are
local government units remains a matter of policy, which concerns wisdom. It is prohibited, does not render the applicable laws, P.D. 1869 for one, unconstitutional.
therefore a political question. (Citizens Alliance for Consumer Protection v. Energy
Regulatory Board, 162 SCRA 539). “If the law presumably hits the evil where it is most felt, it is not to be overthrown
because there are other instances to which it might have been applied.” (Gomez v.
What is settled is that the matter of regulating, taxing or otherwise dealing with Palomar, 25 SCRA 827)
gambling is a State concern and hence, it is the sole prerogative of the State to
retain it or delegate it to local governments. “The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment does not mean that all
occupations called by the same name must be treated the same way; the state may
“As gambling is usually an offense against the State, legislative grant or express do what it can to prevent which is deemed as evil and stop short of those cases in
charter power is generally necessary to empower the local corporation to deal with which harm to the few concerned is not less than the harm to the public that would
the subject. x x x In the absence of express grant of power to enact, ordinance insure if the rule laid down were made mathematically exact.” (Dominican Hotel v.
provisions on this subject which are inconsistent with the state laws are void.” Arizana, 249 US 2651).
(Ligan v. Gadsden, Ala App. 107 So. 733 Ex-Parte Solomon, 9, Cals. 440, 27 PAC 757
following in re Ah You, 88 Cal. 99, 25 PAC 974, 22 Am St. Rep. 280, 11 LRA 480, as Anent petitioners’ claim that PD 1869 is contrary to the “avowed trend of the Cory
cited in Mc Quinllan Vol. 3 ibid, p. 548, italics supplied) Government away from monopolies and crony economy and toward free enterprise
and privatization” suffice it to state that this is not a ground for this Court to nullify
Petitioners next contend that P.D. 1869 violates the equal protection clause of the P.D. 1869. If, indeed, PD 1869 runs counter to the government’s policies then it is
Constitution, because “it legalized PAGCOR—conducted gambling, while most for the Executive Department to recommend to Congress its repeal or amendment.
gambling are outlawed together with prostitution, drug trafficking and other vices”
(p. 82, Rollo). “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
We, likewise, find no valid ground to sustain this contention. The petitioners’ are within the domain of the political branches of government and of the people
posture ignores the well-accepted meaning of the clause “equal protection of the themselves as the repository of all state power.” (Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr., 170
laws.” The clause does not preclude classification of individuals who may be SCRA 256).
accorded different treatment under the law as long as the classification is not
unreasonable or arbitrary (Itchong v. Hernandez, 101 Phil. 1155). A law does not On the issue of “monopoly,” however, the Constitution provides that:
have to operate in equal force on all persons or things to be conformable to Article “Sec. 19. The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when public interest so
III, Section 1 of the Constitution (DECS v. San Diego, G.R. No. 89572, December 21, requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be
1989). allowed.” (Art. XII, National Economy and Patrimony)
The “equal protection clause” does not prohibit the Legislature from establishing It should be noted that, as the provision is worded, monopolies are not necessarily
classes of individuals or objects upon which different rules shall operate (Laurel v. prohibited by the Constitution. The state must still decide whether public interest
Misa, 43 O.G. 2847). The Constitution does not require situations which are demands that monopolies be regulated or prohibited. Again, this is a matter of
different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same policy for the Legislature to decide.
(Gomez v. Palomar, 25 SCRA 827).
On petitioners’ allegation that P.D. 1869 violates Sections 11 (Personality Dignity) 12
Just how P.D. 1869 in legalizing gambling conducted by (Family) and 13 (Role of Youth) of Article II; Section 13 (Social Justice) of Article XIII
PAGCOR is violative of the equal protection is not clearly explained in the petition. and Section 2 (Educational Values) of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution, suffice it
The mere fact that some gambling activities like cockfighting (P.D 449) horse racing to state also that these are merely statements of principles and policies. As such,
(R.A. 306 as amended by RA 983), sweepstakes, lotteries and races (RA 1169 as
they are basically not self-executing, meaning a law should be passed by Congress Parenthetically, We wish to state that gambling is generally immoral, and this is
to clearly define and effectuate such principles. precisely so when the gambling resorted to is excessive. This excessiveness
necessarily depends not only on the financial resources of the gambler and his
“In general, therefore, the 1935 provisions were not intended to be self-executing family but also on his mental, social, and spiritual outlook on life. However, the
principles ready for enforcement through the courts. They were rather directives mere fact that some persons may have lost their material fortunes, mental control,
addressed to the executive and the legislature. If the executive and the legislature physical health, or even their lives does not necessarily mean that the same are
failed to heed the directives of the articles the available remedy was not judicial or directly attributable to gambling. Gambling may have been the antecedent, but
political. The electorate could express their displeasure with the failure of the certainly not necessarily the cause. For the same consequences could have been
executive and the legislature through the language of the ballot.” (Bernas, Vol. II, p. preceded by an overdose of food, drink, exercise, work, and even sex.
2)
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality (Yu Cong Eng v.
Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387; Salas v. Jarencio, 48 SCRA 734; Peralta v. Comelec, 82 SCRA SO ORDERED.
30; Abbas v. Comelec, 179 SCRA 287). Therefore, for PD 1869 to be nullified, it must
be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not
merely a doubtful and equivocal one. In other words, the grounds for nullity must
be clear and beyond reasonable doubt. (Peralta v. Comelec, supra) Those who
petition this Court to declare a law, or parts thereof, unconstitutional must clearly
establish the basis for such a declaration. Otherwise, their petition must fail. Based
on the grounds raised by petitioners to challenge the constitutionality of P.D. 1869,
the Court finds that petitioners have failed to overcome the presumption. The
dismissal of this petition is therefore, inevitable. But as to whether P.D. 1869
remains a wise legislation considering the issues of “morality, monopoly, trend to
free enterprise, privatization as well as the state principles on social justice, role of
youth and educational values” being raised, i s up for Congress to determine.

As this Court held in Citizens’ Alliance for Consumer Protection v. Energy Regulatory
Board, 162 SCRA 521—

“Presidential Decree No. 1956, as amended by Executive Order No. 137 has, in any
case, in its favor the presumption of validity and constitutionality which petitioners
Valmonte and the KMU have not overturned. Petitioners have not undertaken to
identify the provisions in the Constitution which they claim to have been violated
by that statute. This Court, however, is not compelled to speculate and to imagine
how the assailed legislation may possibly offend some provision of the Constitution.
The Court notes, further, in this respect that petitioners have in the main put in
question the wisdom, justice and expediency of the establishment of the OPSF,
issues which are not properly addressed to this Court and which this Court may not
constitutionally pass upon. Those issues should be addressed rather to the political
departments of government: the President and the Congress.”
MAYOR PABLO P. MAGTAJAS & THE CITY OF CAGAYAN DE ORO, petitioners, vs.
PRYCE PROPERTIES CORPORATION, INC. & PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENT AND GAMING
CORPO-RATION, respondents.

Constitutional Law; Separation of Powers; Gambling; The morality of gambling is


not a justiciable issue.—The morality of gambling is not a justiciable issue.
Gambling is not illegal per se. While it is generally considered inimical to the
interests of the people, there is nothing in the Constitution categorically proscribing
or penalizing gambling or, for that matter, even mentioning it at all. It is left to
Congress to deal with the activity as it sees fit. In the exercise of its own discretion,
the legislature may prohibit gambling altogether or allow it without limitation or it
may prohibit some forms of gambling and allow others for whatever reasons it may
consider sufficient. Thus, it has prohibited jueteng and monte but permits lotteries,
cockfighting and horse-racing. In making such choices, Congress has consulted its
own wisdom, which this Court has no authority to review, much less reverse. Well
has it been said that courts do not sit to resolve the merits of conflicting theories.
That is the prerogative of the political departments. It is settled that questions
regarding the wisdom, morality, or practicibility of statutes are not addressed to the
judiciary but may be resolved only by the legislative and executive departments, to
which the function belongs in our scheme of government. That function is
exclusive. Whichever way these branches decide, they are answerable only to their
own conscience and the constituents who will ultimately judge their acts, and not
to the courts of justice.

Local Governments; Tests of a valid ordinance.—The tests of a valid ordinance are


well established. A long line of decisions has held that to be valid, an ordinance
must conform to the following substantive requirements: 1) It must not contravene
the constitution or any statute; 2) It must not be unfair or oppressive; 3) It must not
be partial or discriminatory; 4) It must not prohibit but may regulate trade; 5) It
must be general and consistent with public policy; 6) It must not be unreasonable.

Same; Gambling; Statutory Construction; Local Government Code; Under the rule
of noscitur a sociis, a word or phrase should be interpreted in relation to, or given
the same meaning of, words with which it is associated, and, since the word
“gambling” is associated with “and other prohibited games of chance,” under Sec.
458 of the Local Government Code, the word should be read as referring only to longer be able to exercise its powers as a prime source of government revenue
illegal gambling.—We begin by observing that under Sec. 458 of the Local through the operation of casinos.
Government Code, local government units are authorized to prevent or suppress,
among others, “gambling and other prohibited games of chance.” Obviously, this Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Implied Repeals; It is a familiar rule that implied
provision excludes games of chance which are not prohibited but are in fact repeals are not lightly presumed in the absence of a clear and unmistakable
permitted by law. The petitioners are less than accurate in claiming that the Code showing of such intention.—It is noteworthy that the petitioners have cited only
could have excluded such games of chance but did not. In fact it does. The language Par. (f) of the repealing clause, conveniently discarding the rest of the provision
of the section is clear and unmistakable. Under the rule of noscitur a sociis, a word which painstakingly mentions the specific laws or the parts thereof which are
or phrase should be interpreted in relation to, or given the same meaning of, words repealed (or modified) by the Code. Significantly, P.D. 1869 is not one of them. x x x
with which it is associated. Accordingly, we conclude that since the word Furthermore, it is a familiar rule that implied repeals are not lightly presumed in the
“gambling” is associated with “and other prohibited games of chance,” the word absence of a clear and unmistakable showing of such intention.
should be read as referring to only illegal gambling which, like the other prohibited Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; It is a canon of legal hermeneutics that
games of chance, must be prevented or suppressed. instead of pitting one statute against another in an inevitably destructive
Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutes; The ordinances in question contravene P.D. confrontation, courts must exert every effort to reconcile them, remembering that
1869 which has not been repealed by the Local Government Code.—The apparent both laws deserve a becoming respect as the handiwork of a coordinate branch of
flaw in the ordinances in question is that they contravene P.D. 1869 and the public the government.—There is no sufficient indication of an implied repeal of P.D. 1869.
policy embodied therein insofar as they prevent PAGCOR from exercising the power On the contrary, as the private respondent points out, PAGCOR is mentioned as the
conferred on it to operate a casino in Cagayan de Oro City. The petitioners have an source of funding in two later enactments of Congress, to wit, R.A. 7309, creating a
ingenious answer to this misgiving. They deny that it is the ordinances that have Board of Claims under the Department of Justice for the benefit of victims of unjust
changed P.D. 1869 for an ordinance admittedly cannot prevail against a statute. punishment or detention or of violent crimes, and R.A. 7648, providing for
Their theory is that the change has been made by the Local Government Code measures for the solution of the power crisis. PAGCOR revenues are tapped by
itself, which was also enacted by the national lawmaking authority. In their view, these two statutes. This would show that the PAGCOR charter has not been
the decree has been, not really repealed by the Code, but merely “modified pro repealed by the Local Government Code but has in fact been improved as it were to
tanto” in the sense that PAGCOR cannot now operate a casino over the objection of make the entity more responsive to the fiscal problems of the government. It is a
the local government unit concerned. This modification of P.D. 1869 of the Local canon of legal hermeneutics that instead of pitting one statute against another in
Government Code is permissible because one law can change or repeal another an inevitably destructive confrontation, courts must exert every effort to reconcile
law. It seems to us that the petitioners are playing with words. While insisting that them, remembering that both laws deserve a becoming respect as the handiwork
the decree has only been “modifiedpro tanto,” they are actually arguing that it is of a coordinate branch of the government. On the assumption of a conflict between
already dead, repealed and useless for all intents and purposes because the Code P.D. 1869 and the Code, the proper action is not to uphold one and annul the other
has shorn PAGCOR of all power to centralize and regulate casinos. Strictly speaking, but to give effect to both by harmonizing them if possible. This is possible in the
its operations may now be not only prohibited by the local government unit; in fact, case before us. The proper resolution of the problem at hand is to hold that under
the prohibition is not only discretionary but mandated by Section 458 of the Code if the Local Government Code, local government units may (and indeed must)
the word “shall” as used therein is to be given its accepted meaning. Local prevent and suppress all kinds of gambling within their territories except only those
government units have now no choice but to prevent and suppress gambling, which allowed by statutes like P.D. 1869. The exception reserved in such laws must be
in the petitioners’ view includes both legal and illegal gambling. Under this read into the Code, to make both the Code and such laws equally effective and
construction, PAGCOR will have no more games of chance to regulate or centralize mutually complementary.
as they must all be prohibited by the local government units pursuant to the Same; Same; Same; There are indeed two kinds of gambling, to wit, the illegal and
mandatory duty imposed upon them by the Code. In this situation, PAGCOR cannot those authorized by law.—This approach would also affirm that there are indeed
continue to exist except only as a toothless tiger or a white elephant and will no
two kinds of gambling, to wit, the illegal and those authorized by law. Legalized national legislature is still the principal of the local government units, which cannot
gambling is not a modern concept; it is probably as old as illegal gambling, if not defy its will or modify or violate it.
indeed more so. The petitioners’ suggestion that the Code authorizes them to
prohibit all kinds of gambling would erase the distinction between these two forms PADILLA, J., Concurring:
of gambling without a clear indication that this is the will of the legislature. Gambling; It is worth remembering that 1) what is legal is not always moral and 2)
Plausibly, following this theory, the City of Manila could, by mere ordinance, the ends do not always justify the means.—However, despite the legality of the
prohibit the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office from conducting a lottery as opening and operation of a casino in Cagayan de Oro City by respondent PAGCOR, I
authorized by R.A. 1169 and B.P. 42 or stop the races at the San Lazaro Hippodrome wish to reiterate my view that gambling in any form runs counter to the
as authorized by R.A. 309 and R.A. 983. government’s own efforts to reestablish and resurrect the Filipino moral character
Same; Same; The rationale of the requirement that the ordinances should not which is generally perceived to be in a state of continuing erosion. It is in the light of
contravene a statute is obvious as municipal governments are only agents of the this alarming perspective that I call upon government to carefully weigh the
national government and that the delegate cannot be superior to the principal or advantages and disadvantages of setting up more gambling facilities in the country.
exercise powers higher than those of the latter.—In light of all the above That the PAGCOR contributes greatly to the coffers of the government is not
considerations, we see no way of arriving at the conclusion urged on us by the enough reason for setting up more gambling casinos because, undoubtedly, this will
petitioners that the ordinances in question are valid. On the contrary, we find that not help improve, but will cause a further deterioration in the Filipino moral
the ordinances violate P.D. 1869, which has the character and force of a statute, as character. It is worth remembering in this regard that, 1) what is legal is not always
well as the public policy expressed in the decree allowing the playing of certain moral and 2) the ends do not always justify the means.
games of chance despite the prohibition of gambling in general. The rationale of the Same; The national government (through PAGCOR) should reexamine and re-
requirement that the ordinances should not contravene a statute is obvious. evaluate its decision of imposing the gambling casino on the residents of Cagayan
Municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Local councils de Oro City.—In the present case, it is my considered view that the national
exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred on them by Congress as the government (through PAGCOR) should re-examine and re-evaluate its decision of
national lawmaking body. The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or imposing the gambling casino on the residents of Cagayan de Oro City; for it is
exercise powers higher than those of the latter. It is a heresy to suggest that the abundantly clear that public opinion in the city is very much against it, and again
local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from which they have the question must be seriously deliberated: will the prospects of revenue to be
derived their power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the mandate realized from the casino outweigh the further destruction of the Filipino sense of
of the statute. values?
Same; Same; Congress retains control of the local government units although in DAVIDE, JR., J., Concurring:
significantly reduced degree now than under the previous Constitutions.—This
basic relationship between the national legislature and the local government units Pleadings and Practice; Prohibition; Court of Appeals; Hierarchy of Courts; The
has not been enfeebled by the new provisions in the Constitution strengthening the petition for prohibition should have been initially filed with the Regional Trial Court,
policy of local autonomy. Without meaning to detract from that policy, we here instead of the Court of Appeals.—It must at once be noted that private respondent
confirm that Congress retains control of the local government units although in Pryce Properties Corporation (PRYCE) directly filed with the Court of Appeals its so-
significantly reduced degree now than under our previous Constitutions. The power called petition for prohibition, thereby invoking the said court’s original jurisdiction
to create still includes the power to destroy. The power to grant still includes the to issue writs of prohibition under Section 9(1) of B.P. Blg. 129. As I see it, however,
power to withhold or recall. True, there are certain notable innovations in the the principal cause of action therein is one for declaratory relief: to declare null and
Constitution, like the direct conferment on the local government units of the power unconstitutional x x x the challenged ordinances enacted by the Sangguniang
to tax, which cannot now be withdrawn by mere statute. By and large, however, the Panglungsod of the City of Cagayan de Oro. x x x Accordingly, the Court of Appeals
does not have jurisdiction over the nature of the action. Even assuming arguendo
that the case is one for prohibition, then, under this Court’s established policy youth. Demonstrations were led by the mayor and the city legislators. The media
relative to the hierarchy of courts, the petition should have been filed with the trumpeted the protest, describing the casino as an affront to the welfare of the city.
Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City. I find no special or compelling reason
why it was not filed with the said court. I do not wish to entertain the thought that The trouble arose when in 1992, flush with its tremendous success in several cities,
PRYCE doubted a favorable verdict therefrom, in which case the filing of the PAGCOR decided to expand its operations to Cagayan de Oro City. To this end, it
petition with the Court of Appeals may have been impelled by tactical leased a portion of a building belonging to Pryce Properties Corporation, Inc., one
considerations. A dismissal of the petition by the Court of Appeals would have been of the herein private respondents, renovated and equipped the same, and prepared
in order pursuant to our decisions in People vs. Cuaresma (172 SCRA 415 [1989]) to inaugurate its casino there during the Christmas season.
and Defensor-Santiago vs. Vasquez (217 SCRA 633 [1993]).

The reaction of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cagayan de Oro City was swift and
Constitutional Law; Statutory Construction; A contravention of a law is not hostile. On December 7, 1992, it enacted Ordinance No. 3353 reading as follows:
necessarily a contravention of the constitution.—The nullification by the Court of ORDINANCE NO. 3353
Appeals of the challenged ordinances as unconstitutional primarily because it is in
contravention to P.D. No. 1869 is unwarranted. A contravention of a law is not AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING THE ISSUANCE OF BUSINESS PERMIT AND
necessarily a contravention of the constitution. In any case, the ordinances can still CANCELLING EXISTING BUSINESS PERMIT TO ANY ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE USING
stand even if they be conceded as offending P.D. No. 1869. They can be reconciled, AND ALLOWING TO BE USED ITS PREMISES OR PORTION THEREOF FOR THE
which is not impossible to do. So reconciled, the ordinances should be construed as OPERATION OF CASINO.
not applying to PAGCOR.
BE IT ORDAINED by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Cagayan de Oro, in
Gambling; Gambling, even if legalized, would be inimical to the general welfare of session assembled that:
the inhabitants of the City, or of any place for that matter, accordingly, PAGCOR
must consider the valid concerns of the people of the City of Cagayan de Oro and SECTION1.—That pursuant to the policy of the city banning the operation of casino
should not impose its will upon them in an arbitrary, if not despotic, manner.— within its territorial jurisdiction, no business permit shall be issued to any person,
From the pleadings, it is obvious that the government and the people of Cagayan de partnership or corporation for the operation of casino within the city limits.
Oro City are, for obvious reasons, strongly against the opening of the gambling
SECTION2.—That it shall be a violation of existing business permit by any persons,
casino in their city. Gambling, even if legalized, would be inimical to the general
partnership or corporation to use its business establishment or portion thereof, or
welfare of the inhabitants of the city, or of any place for that matter. The PAGCOR,
allow the use thereof by others for casino operation and other gambling activities.
as a government-owned corporation, must consider the valid concerns of the
people of the City of Cagayan de Oro and should not impose its will upon them in SECTION3.—PENALTIES.—Any violation of such existing business permit as defined
an arbitrary, if not despotic, manner. in the preceding section shall suffer the following penalties, to wit:

a) Suspension of the business permit for sixty (60) days for the first offense and a
fine of P1,000.00/day
CRUZ, J.:
b) Suspension of the business permit for Six (6) months for the second offense, and
There was instant opposition when PAGCOR announced the opening of a casino in
a fine of P3,000.00/day
Cagayan de Oro City. Civic organizations angrily denounced the project. The
religious elements echoed the objection and so did the women’s groups and the c) Permanent revocation of the business permit and imprisonment of One (1) year,
for the third and subsequent offenses.
SECTION4.—This Ordinance shall take effect ten (10) days from publication thereof. b) Imprisonment of not less than six (6) months nor more than one (1) year or a
fine in the amount of P5,000.00 or both at the discretion of the court against the
Nor was this all. On January 4, 1993, it adopted a sterner Ordinance No. 3375-93 manager, supervisor, and/or any person responsible in the establishment, conduct
reading as follows: and maintenance of gambling CASINO.
ORDINANCE NO. 3375-93 SECTION3.—This Ordinance shall take effect ten (10) days after its publication in a
AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING THE OPERATION OF CASINO AND PROVIDING local newspaper of general circulation.
PENALTY FOR VIOLATION THEREFOR. Pryce assailed the ordinances before the Court of Appeals, where it was joined by
WHEREAS, the City Council established a policy as early as 1990 against CASINO PAGCOR as intervenor and supplemental petitioner. Their challenge succeeded. On
under its Resolution No. 2295; March 31, 1993, the Court of Appeals declared the ordinances invalid and issued
the writ prayed for to prohibit their enforcement.1 Reconsideration of this decision
WHEREAS, on October 14, 1992, the City Council passed another Resolution No. was denied on July 13, 1993.2
2673, reiterating its policy against the establishment of CASINO;
Cagayan de Oro City and its mayor are now before us in this petition for review
WHEREAS, subsequently, thereafter, it likewise passed Ordinance No. 3353, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.3 They aver that the respondent Court of
prohibiting the issuance of Business Permit and to cancel existing Business Permit Appeals erred in holding that:
to any establishment for the using and allowing to be used its premises or portion
thereof for the operation of CASINO; 1. Under existing laws, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Cagayan de Oro
does not have the power and authority to prohibit the establishment and operation
WHEREAS, under Art. 3, section 458, No. (4), sub paragraph VI of the Local of a PAGCOR gambling casino within the City’s territorial limits.
Government Code of 1991 (Rep. Act 7160) and under Art. 99, No. (4), Paragraph VI
of the implementing rules of the Local Government Code, the City Council as the 2. The phrase “gambling and other prohibited games of chance” found in Sec. 458,
Legislative Body shall enact measure to suppress any activity inimical to public par. (a), sub-par. (1)-(v) of R.A. 7160 could only mean “illegal gambling.”
morals and general welfare of the people and/or regulate or prohibit such activity 3. The questioned Ordinances in effect annul P.D. 1869 and are therefore invalid on
pertaining to amusement or entertainment in order to protect social and moral that point.
welfare of the community.
4. The questioned Ordinances are discriminatory to casino and partial to
NOW THEREFORE, cockfighting and are therefore invalid on that point.
BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council in session duly assembled that: 5. The questioned Ordinances are not reasonable, not consonant with the general
SECTION1.—The operation of gambling CASINO in the City of Cagayan de Oro is powers and purposes of the instrumentality concerned and inconsistent with the
hereby prohibited. laws or policy of the State.

SECTION2.—Any violation of this Ordinance shall be subject to the following 6. It had no option but to follow the ruling in the case of Basco, et al. v. PAGCOR,
penalties: G.R. No. 91649, May 14, 1991, 197 SCRA 53 in disposing of the issues presented in
this present case.
a) Administrative fine of P5,000.00 shall be imposed against the proprietor,
partnership or corporation undertaking the operation, conduct, maintenance of PAGCOR is a corporation created directly by P.D. 1869 to help centralize and
gambling CASINO in the City and closure thereof; regulate all games of chance, including casinos on land and sea within the territorial
jurisdiction of the Philippines. In Basco v. Philippine Amusements and Gaming
Corporation,4 this Court sustained the constitutionality of the decree and even
cited the benefits of the entity to the national economy as the third highest property, drug addiction, maintenance of drug dens, drug pushing, juvenile delin-
revenue-earner in the government, next only to the BIR and the Bureau of Customs. quency, the printing, distribution or exhibition of obscene or pornographic
materials or publications, and such other activities inimical to the welfare and
morals of the inhabitants of the city;
Cagayan de Oro City, like other local political subdivisions, is empowered to enact This section also authorizes the local government units to regulate properties and
ordinances for the purpose indicated in the Local Government Code. It is expressly businesses within their territorial limits in the interest of the general welfare.5
vested with the police power under what is known as the General Welfare Clause
now embodied in Section 16 as follows: The petitioners argue that by virtue of these provisions, the Sangguniang
Panlungsod may prohibit the operation of casinos because they involve games of
chance, which are detrimental to the people. Gambling is not allowed by general
SEC.16.—General Welfare.—Every local government unit shall exercise the powers law and even by
expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers the Constitution itself. The legislative power conferred upon local government units
necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and may be exercised over all kinds of gambling and not only over “illegal gambling” as
those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their the respondents erroneously argue. Even if the operation of casinos may have been
respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, permitted under P.D. 1869, the government of Cagayan de Oro City has the
among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health authority to prohibit them within its territory pursuant to the authority entrusted
and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology,encourage and to it by the Local Government Code.
support the development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological
capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, It is submitted that this interpretation is consonant with the policy of local
promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and autonomy as mandated in Article II, Section 25, and Article X of the Constitution, as
preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants. well as various other provisions therein seeking to strengthen the character of the
nation. In giving the local government units the power to prevent or suppress
In addition, Section 458 of the said Code specifically declares that: gambling and other social problems, the Local Govern-ment Code has recognized
Sec.458.—Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation.—(a) The Sangguniang the competence of such communities to determine and adopt the measures best
Panlungsod, as the legislative body of the city, shall enact ordinances, approve expected to promote the general welfare of their inhabitants in line with the
resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare of the city and its policies of the State.
inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code and in the proper exercise of the The petitioners also stress that when the Code expressly authorized the local
corporate powers of the city as provided for under Section 22 of this Code, and government units to prevent and suppress gambling and other prohibited games of
shall: chance, like craps, baccarat, blackjack and roulette, it meant all forms of gambling
(1)Approve ordinances and pass resolutions necessary for an efficient and effective without distinction. Ubi lex non distinguit, nec nos distinguere debemos.6
city government, and in this connection, shall: Otherwise, it would have expressly excluded from the scope of their power casinos
and other forms of gambling authorized by special law, as it could have easily done.
xxx The fact that it did not do so simply means that the local government units are
permitted to prohibit all kinds of gambling within their territories, including the
(v) Enact ordinances intended to prevent, suppress and impose appropriate operation of casinos.
penalties for habitual drunkenness in public places, vagrancy, mendicancy,
prostitution, establishment and maintenance of houses of ill repute, gambling and The adoption of the Local Government Code, it is pointed out, had the effect of
other prohibited games of chance, fraudulent devices and ways to obtain money or modifying the charter of the PAGCOR. The Code is not only a later enactment than
P.D. 1869 and so is deemed to prevail in case of inconsistencies between them. This is the opportune time to stress an important point.
More than this, the powers of the PAGCOR under the decree are expressly
discontinued by the Code insofar as they do not conform to its philosophy and The morality of gambling is not a justiciable issue. Gambling is not illegal per se.
provisions, pursuant to Par. (f) of its repealing clause reading as follows: While it is generally considered inimical to the interests of the people, there is
nothing in the Constitution categorically proscribing or penalizing gambling or, for
(f) All general and special laws, acts, city charters, decrees, executive orders, that matter, even mentioning it at all. It is left to Congress to deal with the activity
proclamations and administrative regulations, or part or parts thereof which are as it sees fit. In the exercise of its own discretion, the legislature may prohibit
inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Code are hereby repealed or gambling altogether or allow it without limitation or it may prohibit some forms of
modified accordingly. gambling and allow others for whatever reasons it may consider sufficient. Thus, it
has prohibited jueteng and monte but permits lotteries, cockfighting and horse-
It is also maintained that assuming there is doubt regarding the effect of the Local racing. In making such choices, Congress has consulted its own wisdom, which this
Government Code on P.D. 1869, the doubt must be resolved in favor of the Court has no authority to review, much less reverse. Well has it been said that
petitioners, in accordance with the direction in the Code calling for its liberal courts do not sit to resolve the merits of conflicting theories.8 That is the
interpretation in favor of the local government units. Section 5 of the Code prerogative of the political departments. It is settled that questions regarding the
specifically provides: wisdom, morality, or practicibility of statutes are not addressed to the judiciary but
Sec.5. Rules of Interpretation.—In the interpretation of the provisions of this Code, may be resolved only by the legislative and executive departments, to which the
the following rules shall apply: function belongs in our scheme of government. That function is exclusive.
Whichever way these branches decide, they are answerable only to their own
(a) Any provision on a power of a local government unit shall be liberally conscience and the constituents who will ultimately judge their acts, and not to the
interpreted in its favor, and in case of doubt, any question thereon shall be resolved courts of justice.
in favor of devolution of powers and of the lower local government unit. Any fair
and reasonable doubt as to the existence of the power shall be interpreted in favor The only question we can and shall resolve in this petition is the validity of
of the local government unit concerned; Ordinance No. 3355 and Ordinance No. 3375-93 as enacted by the Sangguniang
Panlungsod of Cagayan de Oro City. And we shall do so only by the criteria laid
xxx down by law and not by our own convictions on the propriety of gambling.

(c) The general welfare provisions in this Code shall be liberally interpreted to give The tests of a valid ordinance are well established. A long line of decisions9 has held
more powers to local government units in accelerating economic development and that to be valid, an ordinance must conform to the following substantive
upgrading the quality of life for the people in the community; x x x (Emphasis requirements:
supplied.)
1) It must not contravene the constitution or any statute.
Finally, the petitioners also attack gambling as intrinsically harmful and cite various
provisions of the Constitution and several decisions of this Court expressive of the 2) It must not be unfair or oppressive.
general and official disapprobation of the vice. They invoke the State policies on the 3) It must not be partial or discriminatory.
family and the proper upbringing of the youth and, as might be expected, call
attention to the old case of U.S. v. Salaveria,7 which sustained a municipal 4) It must not prohibit but may regulate trade.
ordinance prohibiting the playing of panguingue. The petitioners decry the
immorality of gambling. They also impugn the wisdom of P.D. 1869 (which they 5) It must be general and consistent with public policy.
describe as “a martial law instrument”) in creating PAGCOR and authorizing it to 6) It must not be unreasonable.
operate casinos “on land and sea within the territorial jurisdiction of the
Philippines.”
We begin by observing that under Sec. 458 of the Local Government Code, local construction, PAGCOR will have no more games of chance to regulate or centralize
government units are authorized to prevent or suppress, among others, “gambling as they must all be prohibited by the local government units pursuant to the
and other prohibited games of chance.” Obviously, this provision excludes games of mandatory duty imposed upon them by the Code. In this situation, PAGCOR cannot
chance which are not prohibited but are in fact permitted by law. The petitioners continue to exist except only as a toothless tiger or a white elephant and will no
are less than accurate in claiming that the Code could have excluded such games of longer be able to exercise its powers as a prime source of government revenue
chance but did not. In fact it does. The language of the section is clear and through the operation of casinos.
unmistakable. Under the rule ofnoscitur a sociis, a word or phrase should be
interpreted in relation to, or given the same meaning of, words with which it is It is noteworthy that the petitioners have cited only Par. (f) of the repealing clause,
associated. Accordingly, we conclude that since the word “gambling” is associated conveniently discarding the rest of the provision which painstakingly mentions the
with “and other prohibited games of chance,” the word should be read as referring specific laws or the parts thereof which are repealed (or modified) by the Code.
to only illegal gambling which, like the other prohibited games of chance, must be Significantly, P.D. 1869 is not one of them. A reading of the entire repealing clause,
prevented or suppressed. which is reproduced below, will disclose the omission:

We could stop here as this interpretation should settle the problem quite SEC.534. Repealing Clause.—a) Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, otherwise known as the
conclusively. But we will not. The vigorous efforts of the petitioners on behalf of the “Local Government Code,” Executive Order No. 112 (1987), and Executive Order No.
inhabitants of Cagayan de Oro City, and the earnestness of their advocacy, deserve 319 (1988) are hereby repealed.
more than short shrift from this Court. (b) Presidential Decree Nos. 684, 1191, 1508 and such other decrees, orders,
The apparent flaw in the ordinances in question is that they contravene P.D. 1869 instructions, memoranda and issuances related to or concerning the barangay are
and the public policy embodied therein insofar as they prevent PAGCOR from hereby repealed.
exercising the power conferred on it to operate a casino in Cagayan de Oro City. The (c) The provisions of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of Republic Act No. 1939 regarding hospital
petitioners have an ingenious answer to this misgiving. They deny that it is the fund; Section 3, a (3) and b (2) of Republic Act. No. 5447 regarding the Special
ordinances that have changed P.D. 1869 for an ordinance admittedly cannot prevail Education Fund; Presidential Decree No. 144 as amended by Presidential Decree
against a statute. Their theory is that the change has been made by the Local Nos. 559 and 1741; Presidential Decree No. 231 as amended; Presidential Decree
Government Code itself, which was also enacted by the national lawmaking No. 436 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 558; and Presidential Decree Nos.
authority. In their view, the decree has been, not really repealed by the Code, but 381, 436, 464, 477, 526, 632, 752, and 1136 are hereby repealed and rendered of
merely “modified pro tanto” in the sense that PAGCOR cannot now operate a no force and effect.
casino over the objection of the local government unit concerned. This modification
of P.D. 1869 of the Local Government Code is permissible because one law can (d) Presidential Decree No. 1594 is hereby repealed insofar as it governs locally-
change or repeal another law. funded projects.

It seems to us that the petitioners are playing with words. While insisting that the (e) The following provisions are hereby repealed or amended insofar as they are
decree has only been “modified pro tanto,” they are actually arguing that it is inconsistent with the provisions of this Code: Sections 2, 16, and 29 of Presidential
already dead, repealed and useless for all intents and purposes because the Code Decree No. 704; Sections 12 of Presidential Decree No. 87, as amended; Sections
has shorn PAGCOR of all power to centralize and regulate casinos. Strictly speaking, 52, 53, 66, 67, 68, 69 70, 71, 72, 73, and 74 of Presidential Decree No. 463, as
its operations may now be not only prohibited by the local government unit; in fact, amended; and Section 16 of Presidential Decree No. 972, as amended, and
the prohibition is not only discretionary but mandated by Section 458 of the Code if
the word “shall” as used therein is to be given its accepted meaning. Local (f) All general and special laws, acts, city charters, decrees, executive orders,
government units have now no choice but to prevent and suppress gambling, which proclamations and administrative regulations, or part or parts thereof which are
in the petitioners’ view includes both legal and illegal gambling. Under this inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Code are hereby repealed or
modified accordingly.
Furthermore, it is a familiar rule that implied repeals are not lightly presumed in the a clear indication that this is the will of the legislature. Plausibly, following this
absence of a clear and unmistakable showing of such intention. In Lichauco & Co. v. theory, the City of Manila could, by mere ordinance, prohibit the Philippine Charity
Apostol,10 this Court explained: Sweepstakes Office from conducting a lottery as authorized by R.A. 1169 and B.P. 42
or stop the races at the San Lazaro Hippodrome as authorized by R.A. 309 and R.A.
The cases relating to the subject of repeal by implication all proceed on the 983.
assumption that if the act of later date clearly reveals an intention on the part of
the lawmaking power to abrogate the prior law, this intention must be given effect; In light of all the above considerations, we see no way of arriving at the conclusion
but there must always be a sufficient revelation of this intention, and it has become urged on us by the petitioners that the ordinances in question are valid. On the
an unbending rule of statutory construction that the intention to repeal a former contrary, we find that the ordinances violate P.D. 1869, which has the character and
law will not be imputed to the Legislature when it appears that the two statutes, or force of a statute, as well as the public policy expressed in the decree allowing the
provisions, with reference to which the question arises bear to each other the playing of certain games of chance despite the prohibition of gambling in general.
relation of general to special.
The rationale of the requirement that the ordinances should not contravene a
There is no sufficient indication of an implied repeal of P.D. 1869. On the contrary, statute is obvious. Municipal governments are only agents of the national
as the private respondent points out, PAGCOR is mentioned as the source of government. Local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred on
funding in two later enactments of Congress, to wit, R.A. 7309, creating a Board of them by Congress as the national lawmaking body. The delegate cannot be superior
Claims under the Department of Justice for the benefit of victims of unjust to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter. It is a heresy to
punishment or detention or of violent crimes, and R.A. 7648, providing for suggest that the local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from which
measures for the solution of the power crisis. PAGCOR revenues are tapped by they have derived their power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the
these two statutes. This would show that the PAGCOR charter has not been mandate of the statute.
repealed by the Local Government Code but has in fact been improved as it were to
make the entity more responsive to the fiscal problems of the government. Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights
wholly from the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life, without which
It is a canon of legal hermeneutics that instead of pitting one statute against they cannot exist. As it creates, so it may destroy. As it may destroy, it may abridge
another in an inevitably destructive confrontation, courts must exert every effort to and control. Unless there is some constitutional limitation on the right, the
reconcile them, remembering that both laws deserve a becoming respect as the legislature might, by a single act, and if we can suppose it capable of so great a folly
handiwork of a coordinate branch of the government. On the assumption of a and so great a wrong, sweep from existence all of the municipal corporations in the
conflict between P.D. 1869 and the Code, the proper action is not to uphold one state, and the corporation could not prevent it. We know of no limitation on the
and annul the other but to give effect to both by harmonizing them if possible. This right so far as to the corporation themselves are concerned. They are, so to phrase
is possible in the case before us. The proper resolution of the problem at hand is to it, the mere tenants at will of the legis-lature.11
hold that under the Local Government Code, local government units may (and
indeed must) prevent and suppress all kinds of gambling within their territories This basic relationship between the national legislature and the local government
except only those allowed by statutes like P.D. 1869. The exception reserved in such units has not been enfeebled by the new provisions in the Constitution
laws must be read into the Code, to make both the Code and such laws equally strengthening the policy of local autonomy. Without meaning to detract from that
effective and mutually complementary. policy, we here confirm that Congress retains control of the local government units
although in significantly reduced degree now than under our previous
This approach would also affirm that there are indeed two kinds of gambling, to Constitutions. The power to create still includes the power to destroy. The power to
wit, the illegal and those authorized by law. Legalized gambling is not a modern grant still includes the power to withhold or recall. True, there are certain notable
concept; it is probably as old as illegal gambling, if not indeed more so. The innovations in the Constitution, like the direct conferment on the local government
petitioners’ suggestion that the Code authorizes them to prohibit all kinds of units of the power to tax,12 which cannot now be withdrawn by mere statute. By
gambling would erase the distinction between these two forms of gambling without
and large, however, the national legislature is still the principal of the local SABER, and DATU JAMAL ASHLEY ABBAS, representing the other taxpayers of
government units, which cannot defy its will or modify or violate it. Mindanao, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and HONORABLE
GUILLERMO C. CARAGUE, DEPARTMENT SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND
The Court understands and admires the concern of the petitioners for the welfare MANAGEMENT, respondents.
of their constituents and their apprehensions that the welfare of Cagayan de Oro
City will be endangered by the opening of the casino. We share the view that “the G.R. No. 89965. November 10, 1989.*
hope of large or easy gain, obtained without special effort, turns the head of the
workman”13 and that “habitual gambling is a cause of laziness and ruin.”14 In ATTY. ABDULLAH D. MAMA-O, petitioner, vs. HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his
People v. Gorostiza,15 we declared: “The social scourge of gambling must be capacity as the Secretary of the Budget, and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,
stamped out. The laws against gambling must be enforced to the limit.” George respondents.
Washington called gambling “the child of avarice, the brother of iniquity and the Constitutional Law; It is neither necessary nor determinate to rule on the nature of
father of mischief.” Nevertheless, we must recognize the power of the legislature to the Tripoli Agreement; Case at bar.—We find it neither necessary nor determinative
decide, in its own wisdom, to legalize certain forms of gambling, as was done in P.D. of the case to rule on the nature of the Tripoli Agreement and its binding effect on
1869 and impliedly affirmed in the Local Government Code. That decision can be the Philippine Government whether under public international or internal
revoked by this Court only if it contravenes the Constitution as the touchstone of all Philippine law. In the first place, it is now the Constitution itself that provides for
official acts. We do not find such contravention here. the creation of an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao. The standard for any
We hold that the power of PAGCOR to centralize and regulate all games of chance, inquiry into the validity of R.A. No. 6734 would therefore be what is so provided in
including casinos on land and sea within the territorial jurisdiction of the the Constitution. Thus, any conflict between the provisions of R.A. No. 6734 and
Philippines, remains unimpaired. P.D. 1869 has not been modified by the Local the provisions of the Tripoli Agreement will not have the effect of enjoining the
Government Code, which empowers the local government units to prevent or implementation of the Organic Act. Assuming for the sake of argument that the
suppress only those forms of gambling prohibited by law. Tripoli Agreement is a binding treaty or international agreement, it would then
constitute part of the law of the land. But as internal law it would not be superior to
Casino gambling is authorized by P.D. 1869. This decree has the status of a statute R.A. No. 6734, an enactment of the Congress of the Philippines, rather it would be
that cannot be amended or nullified by a mere ordinance. Hence, it was not in the same class as the latter [SALONGA, PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW 320 (4th
competent for the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cagayan de Oro City to enact ed., 1974), citing Head Money Cases, 112 U.S. 580 (1884) and Foster v. Nelson, 2
Ordinance No. 3353 prohibiting the use of buildings for the operation of a casino Pet. 253 (1829)]. Thus, if at all, R.A. No. 6734 would be amendatory of the Tripoli
and Ordinance No. 3375-93 prohibiting the operation of casinos. For all their Agreement, being a subsequent law. Only a determination by this Court that R.A.
praiseworthy motives, these ordinance are contrary to P.D. 1869 and the public No. 6734 contravenes the Constitution would result in the granting of the reliefs
policy announced therein and are therefore ultra vires and void. sought.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the challenged decision of the respondent Same; Creation of autonomous region under the Constitution and R.A. 6734; How
Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED, with costs against the petitioners. It is so ordered. to take effect; Single plebiscite contemplated, determinative of (1) whether there
shall be an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao and (2) which provinces and
cities, shall compromise it.—Thus, under the Constitution and R.A. No. 6734, the
G.R. No. 89651. November 10, 1989.* creation of the autonomous region shall take effect only when approved by a
majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite, and only those
provinces and cities where a majority vote in favor of the Organic Act shall be
included in the autonomous region. The provinces and cities wherein such a
DATU FIRDAUSI I.Y. ABBAS, DATU BLO UMPAR ADIONG, DATU MACALIMPOWAC majority is not attained shall not be included in the autonomous region. It may be
DELANGALEN, CELSO PALMA, ALI MONTAHA BABAO, JULMUNIR JANNARAL, RASHID that even if an autonomous region is created, not all of the thirteen (13) provinces
and nine (9) cities mentioned in Article II, section 1(2) of R.A. No. 6734 shall be wisdom of the law. This the Court cannot do without doing violence to the
included therein. The single plebiscite contemplated by the Constitution and R.A. separation of governmental powers.
No. 6734 will therefore be determinative of (1) whether there shall be an
autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao and (2) which provinces and cities, among Same; Equal Protection; Permits of reasonable classification; The guarantee of
those enumerated in R.A. No. 6734, shall comprise it. equal protection is not infringed in the case at bar; Reason.—Moreover, equal
protection permits of reasonable classification [People v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 (1936);
Same; The creation of the autonomous region is made to depend, not on the total Laurel v. Misa, 76 Phil. 372 (1946); J.M. Tuason and Co. v. Land Tenure
majority vote in the plebiscite, but on the will of the majority in each of the Administration, G.R. No. L-21064, February 18, 1970, 31 SCRA 413]. In Dumlao v.
constituent units; Case at bar.—If the framers of the Constitution intended to Commission on Elections [G.R. No. 52245, January 22, 1980, 95 SCRA 392], the
require approval by a majority of all the votes cast in the plebiscite they would have Court ruled that one class may be treated differently from another where the
so indicated. Thus, in Article XVIII, section 27, it is provided that “[t]his Constitution groupings are based on reasonable and real distinctions. The guarantee of equal
shall take effect immediately upon its ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a protection is thus not infringed in this case, the classification having been made by
plebiscite held for the purpose x x x.” Comparing this with the provision on the Congress on the basis of substantial distinctions as set forth by the Constitution
creation of the autonomous region, which reads: The creation of the autonomous itself.
region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the
constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only Same; Courts; Judicial power, defined; Case at bar; No actual contoversy between
provinces, cities and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be real litigants; No conflicting claims involving the application of national law resulting
included in the autonomous region. [Art. X, sec. 18, para. 2.] it will readily be seen in an alleged violation of religious freedom.—As enshrined in the Constitution,
that the creation of the autonomous region is made to depend, not on the total judicial power includes the duty to settle actual controversies involving rights which
majority vote in the plebiscite, but on the will of the majority in each of the are legally demandable and enforceable [Art. VIII, Sec. 1]. As a condition precedent
constituent units and the proviso underscores this. For if the intention of the for the power to be exercised, an actual controversy between litigants must first
framers of the Constitution was to get the majority of the totality of the votes cast, exist [Angara v. Electoral Commission, supra; Tan v. Macapagal, G.R. No. L-34161,
they could have simply adopted the same phraseology as that used for the February 29, 1972, 43 SCRA 677]. In the present case, no actual controversy
ratification of the Constitution, i.e. “the creation of the autonomous region shall be between real litigants exists. There are no conflicting claims involving the
effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the application of national law resulting in an alleged violation of religious freedom.
purpose.” This being so, the Court in this case may not be called upon to resolve what is
merely a perceived potential conflict between the provisions of the Muslim Code
Same; What is required by the Constitution is a simple majority of votes approving and national law.
the organic act in individual constituent units.—It is thus clear that what is required
by the Constitution is a simple majority of votes approving the Organic Act in Same; Local Governments; The power to merge administrative regions is a power
individual constituent units and not a double majority of the votes in all constituent which has traditionally been lodged with the President to facilitate the exercise of
units put together, as well as in the individual constituent units. the power of general supervision over local governments; No conflict between the
power of the President to merge administrative regions with the Constitutional
Same; Separation of powers; The ascertainment by Congress of the areas that share provision requiring plebiscite in the merger of local government units; Reason.—It
common attributes is within the exclusive realm of legislature’s discretion.— must be pointed out that what is referred to in R.A. No. 6734 is the merger of
Petitioner’s argument is not tenable. The Constitution lays down the standards by administrative regions, i.e. Regions I to XII and the National Capital Region, which
which Congress shall determine which areas should constitute the autonomous are mere groupings of contiguous provinces for administrative purposes [Integrated
region. Guided by these constitutional criteria, the ascertainment by Congress of Reorganization Plan (1972), which was made as part of the law of the land by Pres.
the areas that share common attributes is within the exclusive realm of the Dec. No. 1; Presidential Decree No. 742]. Administrative regions are not territorial
legislature’s discretion. Any review of this ascertainment would have to go into the and political subdivisions like provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays [see
Art. X, sec. 1 of the Constitution]. While the power to merge administrative regions These consolidated petitions pray that the Court: (1) enjoin the Commission on
is not expressly provided for in the Constitution, it is a power which has Elections (COMELEC) from conducting the plebiscite and the Secretary of Budget
traditionally been lodged with the President to facilitate the exercise of the power and Management from releasing funds to the COMELEC for that purpose; and (2)
of general supervision over local governments [see Art. X, sec. 4 of the declare R.A. No. 6734, or parts thereof, unconstitutional.
Constitution]. There is no conflict between the power of the President to merge
administrative regions with the constitutional provision requiring a plebiscite in the After a consolidated comment was filed by the Solicitor General for the
merger of local government units because the requirement of a plebiscite in a respondents, which the Court considered as the answer, the case was deemed
merger expressly applies only to provinces, cities, municipalities or barangays, not submitted for decision, the issues having been joined. Subsequently, petitioner
to administrative regions. Mama-o filed a “Manifestation with Motion for Leave to File Reply on Respondents’
Comment and to Open Oral Arguments,” which the Court noted.
Same; The creation of the autonomous region when to take effect; The provisions
in R.A. No. 6734 requiring an oversight committee do not provide for a different The arguments against R.A. No. 6734 raised by petitioners may generally be
date of effectivitiy; Reason; Case at bar.—Under the Constitution, the creation of categorized into either of the following:
the autonomous region hinges only on the result of the plebiscite. If the Organic (a) that R.A. 6734, or parts thereof, violates the Constitution, and
Act is approved by majority of the votes cast by constituent units in the scheduled
plebiscite, the creation of the autonomous region immediately takes effect. The (b) that certain provisions of R.A. No. 6734 conflict with the Tripoli Agreement.
questioned provisions in R.A. No. 6734 requiring an Oversight Committee to
supervise the transfer do not provide for a different date of effectivity. Much less The Tripoli Agreement, more specifically, the Agreement Between the Government
would the organization of the Oversight Committee cause an impediment to the of the Republic of the Philippines and Moro National Liberation Front with the
operation of the Organic Act, for such is evidently aimed at effecting a smooth Participation of the Quadripartite Ministerial Commission Members of the Islamic
transition period for the regional government. The constitutional objection on this Conference and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference”
point thus cannot be sustained as there is no basis therefor. took effect on December 23, 1976. It provided for “[t]he establishment of
Autonomy in the Southern Philippines within the realm of the sovereignty and
Same; Statutes; Presumption of constitutionality; Court finds that petitioners have territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines” and enumerated the thirteen
failed to overcome the presumption.—Every law has in its favor the presumption of (13) provinces comprising the “areas of autonomy.”2
constitutionality [Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387 (1925); Salas v. Jarencio, G.R.
No. L-29788, August 30, 1979, 46 SCRA 734; Morfe v. Mutuc, supra; Peralta v. In 1987, a new Constitution was ratified, which for the first time provided for
COMELEC, G.R. No. L-47771, March 11, 1978, 82 SCRA 30]. Those who petition this regional autonomy. Article X, section 15 of the charter provides that “[t]here shall
Court to declare a law, or parts thereof, unconstitutional must clearly establish the be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras
basis for such a declaration. Otherwise, their petition must fail. Based on the consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing
grounds raised by petitioners to challenge the constitutionality of R.A. No. 6734, common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social
the Court finds that petitioners have failed to overcome the presumption. The structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this
dismissal of these two petitions is, therefore, inevitable. Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the
Republic of the Philippines.”
CORTÉS, J.:
To effectuate this mandate, the Constitution further provides:
The present controversy relates to the plebiscite in thirteen (13) provinces and nine
(9) cities in Mindanao and Palawan,1 scheduled for November 19, 1989, in Sec. 16. The President shall exercise general supervision over autonomous regions
implementation of Republic Act No. 6734, entitled “An Act Providing for an Organic to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.
Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”
Sec. 17. All powers, functions, and responsibilities not granted by this Constitution Sec. 21. The preservation of peace and order within the regions shall be the
or by law to the autonomous regions shall be vested in the National Government. responsibility of the local police agencies which shall be organized, maintained,
supervised, and utilized in accordance with applicable laws. The defense and
Sec. 18. The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with security of the region shall be the responsibility of the National Government.
the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed
of representatives appointed by the President from a list of nominees from Pursuant to the constitutional mandate, R.A. No. 6734 was enacted and signed into
multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government law on August 1, 1989.
for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both
of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The 1. The Court shall dispose first of the second category of arguments raised by
organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal, family, and petitioners, i.e. that certain provisions of R.A. No. 6734 conflict with the provisions
property law jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of this Constitution and of the Tripoli Agreement.
national laws.

The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by Petitioners premise their arguments on the assumption that the Tripoli Agreement
majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the is part of the law of the land, being a binding international agreement. The Solicitor
purpose, provided that only the provinces, cities, and geographic areas voting General asserts that the Tripoli Agreement is neither a binding treaty, not having
favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region. been entered into by the Republic of the Philippines with a sovereign state and
Sec. 19. The first Congress elected under this Constitution shall, within eighteen ratified according to the provisions of the 1973 or 1987 Constitutions, nor a binding
months from the time of organization of both Houses, pass the organic acts for the international agreement.
autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras. We find it neither necessary nor determinative of the case to rule on the nature of
Sec. 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this the Tripoli Agreement and its binding effect on the Philippine Government whether
Constitution and national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide under public international or internal Philippine law. In the first place, it is now the
for legislative powers over: Constitution itself that provides for the creation of an autonomous region in
Muslim Mindanao. The standard for any inquiry into the validity of R.A. No. 6734
(1) Administrative organization; would therefore be what is so provided in the Constitution. Thus, any conflict
between the provisions of R.A. No. 6734 and the provisions of the Tripoli
(2) Creation of sources of revenues; Agreement will not have the effect of enjoining the implementation of the Organic
(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources; Act. Assuming for the sake of argument that the Tripoli Agreement is a binding
treaty or international agreement, it would then constitute part of the law of the
(4) Personal, family, and property relations; land. But as internal law it would not be superior to R.A. No. 6734, an enactment of
the Congress of the Philippines, rather it would be in the same class as the latter
(5) Regional urban and rural planning development; [SALONGA, PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW 320 (4th ed., 1974), citing Head Money
Cases, 112 U.S. 580 (1884) and Foster v. Nelson, 2 Pet. 253 (1829)]. Thus, if at all,
(6) Economic, social and tourism development;
R.A. No. 6734 would be amendatory of the Tripoli Agreement, being a subsequent
(7) Educational policies; law. Only a determination by this Court that R.A. No. 6734 contravenes the
Constitution would result in the granting of the reliefs sought.3
(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and
2. The Court shall therefore only pass upon the constitutional questions which have
(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the been raised by petitioners.
general welfare of the people of the region.
Petitioner Abbas argues that R.A. No. 6734 unconditionally creates an autonomous constituent units in a plebiscite, and only those provinces and cities where a
region in Mindanao, contrary to the aforequoted provisions of the Constitution on majority vote in favor of the Organic Act shall be included in the autonomous
the autonomous region which make the creation of such region dependent upon region. The provinces and cities wherein such a majority is not attained shall not be
the outcome of the plebiscite. included in the autonomous region. It may be that even if an autonomous region is
created, not all of the thirteen (13) provinces and nine (9) cities mentioned in
In support of his argument, petitioner cites Article II, section 1(1) of R.A. No. 6734 Article II, section 1(2) of R.A. No. 6734 shall be included therein. The single
which declares that “[t]here is hereby created the Autonomous Region in Muslim plebiscite contemplated by the Constitution and R.A. No. 6734 will therefore be
Mindanao, to be composed of provinces and cities voting favorably in the plebiscite determinative of (1) whether there shall be an autonomous region in Muslim
called for the purpose, in accordance with Section 18, Article X of the Constitution.” Mindanao and (2) which provinces and cities, among those enumerated in R.A. No.
Petitioner contends that the tenor of the above provision makes the creation of an 6734, shall comprise it. [See III RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION
autonomous region absolute, such that even if only two provinces vote in favor of 487-492 (1986)].
autonomy, an autonomous region would still be created composed of the two
provinces where the favorable votes were obtained. As provided in the Constitution, the creation of the autonomous region in Muslim
Mindanao is made effective upon the approval “by majority of the votes cast by the
The matter of the creation of the autonomous region and its composition needs to constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose” [Art. X, sec. 18]. The
be clarified. question has been raised as to what this majority means. Does it refer to a majority
First, the questioned provision itself in R.A. No. 6734 refers to Section 18, Article X of the total votes cast in the plebiscite in all the constituent units, or a majority in
of the Constitution which sets forth the conditions necessary for the creation of the each of the constituent units, or both?
autonomous region. We need not go beyond the Constitution to resolve this question.
The reference to the constitutional provision cannot be glossed over for it clearly If the framers of the Constitution intended to require approval by a majority of all
indicates that the creation of the autonomous region shall take place only in accord the votes cast in the plebiscite they would have so indicated. Thus, in Article XVIII,
with the constitutional requirements. Second, there is a specific provision in the section 27, it is provided that “[t]his Constitution shall take effect immediately upon
Transitory Provisions (Article XIX) of the Organic Act, which incorporates its ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite held for the purpose x x
substantially the same requirements embodied in the Constitution and fills in the x.” Comparing this with the provision on the creation of the autonomous region,
details, thus: which reads:
SEC. 13. The creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao shall take The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by
effect when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the
provided in paragraph (2) of Sec. 1 of Article II of this Act in a plebiscite which shall purpose, provided that only provinces, cities and geographic areas voting favorably
be held not earlier than ninety (90) days or later than one hundred twenty (120) in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region. [Art. X, sec. 18, para.
days after the approval of this Act: Provided, That only the provinces and cities 2].
voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao. The provinces and cities which in the plebiscite do not vote for it will readily be seen that the creation of the autonomous region is made to
inclusion in the Autonomous Region shall remain in the existing administrative depend, not on the total majority vote in the plebiscite, but on the will of the
regions: Provided, however, That the President may, by administrative majority in each of the constituent units and the proviso underscores this. For if the
determination, merge the existing regions. intention of the framers of the Constitution was to get the majority of the totality of
the votes cast, they could have simply adopted the same phraseology as that used
Thus, under the Constitution and R.A. No. 6734, the creation of the autonomous for the ratification of the Constitution, i.e. “the creation of the autonomous region
region shall take effect only when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the
shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite 6734 to include the other non-Muslim areas denies said areas equal protection of
called for the purpose.” the law, and therefore is violative of the Constitution.

It is thus clear that what is required by the Constitution is a simple majority of votes Petitioner’s contention runs counter to the very same constitutional provision he
approving the Organic Act in individual constituent units and not a double majority had earlier invoked. Any determination by Congress of what areas in Mindanao
of the votes in all constituent units put together, as well as in the individual should comprise the autonomous region, taking into account shared historical and
constituent units. cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics,
would necessarily carry with it the exclusion of other areas. As earlier stated, such
More importantly, because of its categorical language, this is also the sense in determination by Congress of which areas should be covered by the organic act for
which the vote requirement in the plebiscite provided under Article X, section 18 the autonomous region constitutes a recognized legislative prerogative, whose
must have been understood by the people when they ratified the Constitution. wisdom may not be inquired into by this Court.
Invoking the earlier cited constitutional provisions, petitioner Mama-o, on the other Moreover, equal protection permits of reasonable classification [People v. Vera, 65
hand, maintains that only those areas which, to his view, share common and Phil. 56 (1936); Laurel v. Misa, 76 Phil. 372 (1946); J.M. Tuason and Co. v. Land
distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and Tenure Administration, G.R. No. L-21064, February 18, 1970, 31 SCRA 413]. In
other relevant characteristics should be properly included within the coverage of Dumlao v. Commission on Elections [G.R. No. 52245, January 22, 1980, 95 SCRA
the autonomous region. He insists that R.A. No. 6734 is unconstitutional because 392], the Court ruled that one class may be treated differently from another where
only the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and the groupings are based on reasonable and real distinctions. The guarantee of
Maguindanao and the cities of Marawi and Cotabato, and not all of the thirteen equal protection is thus not infringed in this case, the classification having been
(13) provinces and nine (9) cities included in the Organic Act, possess such made by Congress on the basis of substantial distinctions as set forth by the
concurrence in historical and cultural heritage and other relevant characteristics. By Constitution itself.
including areas which do not strictly share the same characteristics as the others,
petitioner claims that Congress has expanded the scope of the autonomous region Both petitions also question the validity of R.A. No. 6734 on the ground that it
which the Constitution itself has prescribed to be limited. violates the constitutional guarantee on free exercise of religion [Art. III, sec. 5]. The
objection centers on a provision in the Organic Act which mandates that should
Petitioner’s argument is not tenable. The Constitution lays down the standards by there be any conflict between the Muslim Code [P.D. No. 1083] and the Tribal Code
which Congress shall determine which areas should constitute the autonomous (still to be enacted) on the one hand, and the national law on the other hand, the
region. Guided by these constitutional criteria, the ascertainment by Congress of Shari‘ah courts created under the same Act should apply national law. Petitioners
the areas that share common attributes is within the exclusive realm of the maintain that the Islamic Law (Shari‘ah) is derived from the Koran, which makes it
legislature’s discretion. Any review of this ascertainment would have to go into the part of divine law. Thus it may not be subjected to any “man-made” national law.
wisdom of the law. This the Court cannot do without doing violence to the Petitioner Abbas supports this objection by enumerating possible instances of
separation of governmental powers. [Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 conflict between provisions of the Muslim Code and national law, wherein an
(1936); Morfe v. Mutuc, G.R. No. L-20387, January 31, 1968, 22 SCRA 424]. application of national law might be offensive to a Muslim’s religious convictions.
After assailing the inclusion of non-Muslim areas in the Organic Act for lack of basis, As enshrined in the Constitution, judicial power includes the duty to settle actual
petitioner Mama-o would then adopt the extreme view that other non-Muslim controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable [Art.
areas in Mindanao should likewise be covered. He argues that since the Organic Act VIII, Sec. 1]. As a condition precedent for the power to be exercised, an actual
covers several non-Muslim areas, its scope should be further broadened to include controversy between litigants must first exist [Angara v. Electoral Commission,
the rest of the non-Muslim areas in Mindanao in order for the others to similarly supra; Tan v. Macapagal, G.R. No. L-34161, February 29, 1972, 43 SCRA 677]. In the
enjoy the benefits of autonomy. Petitioner maintains that the failure of R.A. No. present case, no actual controversy between real litigants exists. There are no
conflicting claims involving the application of national law resulting in an alleged
violation of religious freedom. This being so, the Court in this case may not be Petitioners likewise question the validity of provisions in the Organic Act which
called upon to resolve what is merely a perceived potential conflict between the create an Oversight Committee to supervise the transfer to the autonomous region
provisions of the Muslim Code and national law. of the powers, appropriations, and properties vested upon the regional government
by the Organic Act [Art. XIX, Secs. 3 and 4]. Said provisions mandate that the
Petitioners also impugn the constitutionality of Article XIX, section 13 of R.A. No. transfer of certain national government offices and their properties to the regional
6734 which, among others, states: government shall be made pursuant to a schedule prescribed by the Oversight
... Provided, That only the provinces and cities voting favorably in such plebiscite Committee, and that such transfer should be accomplished within six (6) years from
shall be included in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The provinces the organization of the regional government.
and cities which in the plebiscite do not vote for inclusion in the Autonomous It is asserted by petitioners that such provisions are unconstitutional because while
Region shall remain in the existing administrative regions: Provided, however, that the Constitution states that the creation of the autonomous region shall take effect
the President may, by administrative determination, merge the existing regions. upon approval in a plebiscite, the requirement of organizing an Oversight
According to petitioners, said provision grants the President the power to merge Committee tasked with supervising the transfer of powers and properties to the
regions, a power which is not conferred by the Constitution upon the President. regional government would in effect delay the creation of the autonomous region.
That the President may choose to merge existing regions pursuant to the Organic Under the Constitution, the creation of the autonomous region hinges only on the
Act is challenged as being in conflict with Article X, Section 10 of the Constitution result of the plebiscite. If the Organic Act is approved by majority of the votes cast
which provides: by constituent units in the scheduled plebiscite, the creation of the autonomous
No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, region immediately takes effect. The questioned provisions in R.A. No. 6734
abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the requiring an Oversight Committee to supervise the transfer do not provide for a
criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a different date of effectivity. Much less would the organization of the Oversight
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. Committee cause an impediment to the operation of the Organic Act, for such is
evidently aimed at effecting a smooth transition period for the regional
It must be pointed out that what is referred to in R.A. No. 6734 is the merger of government. The constitutional objection on this point thus cannot be sustained as
administrative regions, i.e. Regions I to XII and the National Capital Region, which there is no basis therefor.
are mere groupings of contiguous provinces for administrative purposes [Integrated
Reorganization Plan (1972), which was made as part of the law of the land by Pres. Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality [Yu Cong Eng v.
Dec. No. 1, Pres. Dec. No. 742]. Administrative regions are not territorial and Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387 (1925); Salas v. Jarencio, G.R. No. L-29788, August 30, 1979,
political subdivisions like provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays [see Art. X, 46 SCRA 734; Morfe v. Mutuc, supra; Peralta v. COMELEC, G.R. No. L-47771, March
sec. 1 of the Constitution]. While the power to merge administrative regions is not 11, 1978, 82 SCRA 30]. Those who petition this Court to declare a law, or parts
expressly provided for in the Constitution, it is a power which has traditionally been thereof, unconstitutional must clearly establish the basis for such a declaration.
lodged with the President to facilitate the exercise of the power of general Otherwise, their petition must fail. Based on the grounds raised by petitioners to
supervision over local governments [see Art. X, sec. 4 of the Constitution]. There is challenge the constitutionality of R.A. No. 6734, the Court finds that petitioners
no conflict between the power of the President to merge administrative regions have failed to overcome the presumption. The dismissal of these two petitions is,
with the constitutional provision requiring a plebiscite in the merger of local therefore, inevitable.
government units because the requirement of a plebiscite in a merger expressly WHEREFORE, the petitions are DISMISSED for lack of merit.
applies only to provinces, cities, municipalities or barangays, not to administrative
regions. SO ORDERED.
Court rules; Power of Supreme Court to suspend procedural rules.—The
Metropolitan Manila Authority is correct in invoking the doctrine that the validity of
a law or act can be challenged only in a direct action and not collaterally. That is
indeed the settled principle. However, that rule is not inflexible and may be relaxed
by the Court under exceptional circumstances, such as those in the present
controversy. x x x. Regrettably, not one of the complainants has filed a formal
challenge to the ordinances, including Monsanto and Trieste, who are lawyers and
could have been more assertive of their rights. Given these considerations, the
Court feels it must address the problem squarely presented to it and decide it as
categorically rather than dismiss the complaints on the basis of the technical
objection raised and thus, through its inaction, allow them to fester. The step we
now take is not without legal authority or judicial precedent. Unquestionably, the
Court has the power to suspend procedural rules in the exercise of its inherent
power, as expressly recognized in the Constitution, to promulgate rules concerning
“pleading, practice and procedure in all courts.” In proper cases, procedural rules
may be relaxed or suspended in the interest of substantial justice, which otherwise
may be miscarried because of a rigid and formalistic adherence to such rules,

Administrative Law; Local Government; Delegation of legislative power.—The Court


holds that there is a valid delegation of legislative power to promulgate such
measures, it appearing that the requisites of such delegation are present. These
requisites are: 1) the completeness of the statute making the delegation; and 2) the
presence of a sufficient standard. Under the first requirement, the statute must
leave the legislature complete in all its terms and provisions such that all the
delegate will have to do when the statute reaches it is to implement it. What only
can be delegated is not the discretion to determine what the law shall be but the
discretion to determine how the law shall be enforced. This has been done in the
second requirement, the enforcement may be effected only in accordance with a
sufficient standard, the function of which is to map out the boundaries of the
delegate’s authority and thus “prevent the delegation from running riot.” This
requirement has also been met. It is settled that the “convenience and welfare” of
the public, particularly the motorists and passengers in the case at bar, is an
G.R. No. 102782. December 11, 1991.* acceptable sufficient standard to delimit the delegate’s authority.

Same; Same; Requisites for validity of a municipal ordinance; Measures under


consideration do not conform to existing law.—According to Elliot, a municipal
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL, RODOLFO A. MALAPIRA, STEPHEN A. MONSANTO, DAN R. ordinance, to be valid: 1) must not contravene the Constitution or any statute; 2)
CALDERON, and GRANDY N. TRIESTE, petitioners, vs. THE METROPOLITAN MANILA must not be unfair or oppressive; 3) must not be partial or discriminatory; 4) must
AUTHORITY and the MUNICIPALITY OF MANDALUYONG, respondents. not prohibit but may regulate trade; 5) must not be unreasonable; and 6) must be
general and consistent with public policy. A careful study of the Gonong decision
will show that the measures under consideration do not pass the first criterion Another letter was received by the Court on February 14, 1991, from Stephen L.
because they do not conform to existing law. The pertinent law is PD 1605. PD1605 Monsanto, complaining against the confiscation of his driver’s license by Traffic
does not allow either the removal of the license plates or the confiscation of Enforcer A.D. Martinez for an alleged traffic violation in Mandaluyong.
driver’s licenses for traffic violations committed in Metropolitan Manila.
This was followed by a letter-complaint filed on March 7, 1991, from Dan R.
Same; Same; Same.—The requirement that the municipal enactment must not Calderon, a lawyer, also for confiscation of his driver’s license by Pat. R.J. Tano-an of
violate existing law explains itself. Local political subdivisions are able to legislate the Makati Police Force.
only by virtue of a valid delegation of legislative power from the national legislature
(except only that the power to create their own sources of revenue and to levy Still another complaint was received by the Court dated April 29, 1991, this time
taxes is conferred by the Constitution itself). They are mere agents vested with from Grandy N. Trieste, another lawyer, who also protested the removal of his front
what is called the power of subordinate legislation. As delegates of the Congress, license plate by E. Ramos of the Metropolitan Manila Authority-Traffic Operations
the local government unit cannot contravene but must obey at all times the will of Center and the confiscation of his driver’s license by Pat. A.V. Emmanuel of the
their principal. In the case before us, the enactments in question, which are merely Metropolitan Police Command-Western Police District.
local in origin, cannot prevail against the decree, which has the force and effect of a Required to submit a Comment on the complaint against him, Allan D. Martinez
statute. invoked Ordinance No. 7, Series of 1988, of Mandaluyong, authorizing the
CRUZ, J.: confiscation of driver’s licenses and the removal of license plates of motor vehicles
for traffic violations.
In Metropolitan Traffic Command, West Traffic District vs. Hon. Arsenio M. Gonong,
G.R. No. 91023, promulgated on July 13, 1990,1 the Court held that the confiscation For his part, A.V. Emmanuel said he confiscated Trieste’s driver’s license pursuant to
of the license plates of motor vehicles for traffic violations was not among the a memorandum dated February 27, 1991, from the District Commander of the
sanctions that could be imposed by the Metro Manila Commission under PD 1605 Western Traffic District of the Philippine National Police, authorizing such sanction
and was permitted only under the conditions laid down by LOI 43 in the case of under certain conditions.
stalled vehicles obstructing the public streets. It was there also observed that even Director General Cesar P. Nazareno of the Philippine National Police assured the
the confiscation of driver’s licenses for traffic violations was not directly prescribed Court in his own Comment that his office had never authorized the removal of the
by the decree nor was it allowed by the decree to be imposed by the Commission. license plates of illegally parked vehicles and that he had in fact directed full
No motion for reconsideration of that decision was submitted. The judgment compliance with the above-mentioned decision in a memorandum, copy of which
became final and executory on August 6,1990, and it was duly entered in the Book he attached, entitled Removal of Motor Vehicle License Plates and dated February
of Entries of Judgments on July 13, 1990. 28,1991.
Subsequently, the following developments transpired: Pat. R.J. Tano-an, on the other hand, argued that the Gonong decision prohibited
In a letter dated October 17, 1990, Rodolfo A. Malapira complained to the Court only the removal of license plates and not the confiscation of driver’s licenses.
that when he was stopped for an alleged traffic violation, his driver’s license was On May 24,1990, the Metropolitan Manila Authority issued Ordinance No. 11,
confiscated by Traffic Enforcer Angel de los Reyes in Quezon City. Series of 1991, authorizing itself “to detach the license plate/tow and impound
On December 18,1990, the Caloocan-Manila Drivers and Operators Association sent attended/unattended/abandoned motor vehicles illegally parked or obstructing the
a letter to the Court asking who should enforce the decision in the above- flow of traffic in Metro Manila.”
mentioned case, whether they could seek damages for confiscation of their driver’s On July 2,1991, the Court issued the following resolution:
licenses, and where they should file their complaints.
The attention of the Court has been called to the enactment by the Metropolitan The flaw in the measure was that it violated existing law, specifically PD 1605, which
Manila Authority of Ordinance No. 11, Series of 1991, providing inter alia that: does not permit, and so impliedly prohibits, the removal of license plates and the
confiscation of driver’s licenses for traffic violations in Metropolitan Manila. He
Section 2. Authority to Detach Plate/Tow and Impound. The Metropolitan Manila made no mention, however, of the alleged impropriety of examining the said
Authority, thru the Traffic Operations Center, is authorized to detach the license ordinance in the absence of a formal challenge to its validity.
plate/tow and impound attended/unattended/abandoned motor vehicles illegally
parked or obstructing the flow of traffic in Metro Manila. On October 24,1991, the Office of the Solicitor General submitted a motion for the
early resolution of the questioned sanctions, to remove once and for all the
The provision appears to be in conflict with the decision of the Court in the case at uncertainty of their validity. A similar motion was filed by the Metropolitan Manila
bar (as reported in 187 SCRA 432), where it was held that the license plates of Authority, which reiterated its contention that the incidents inquestion should be
motor vehicles may not be detached except only under the conditions prescribed in dismissed because there was no actual case or controversy before the Court.
LOI 43. Additionally, the Court has received several complaints against the
confiscation by police authorities of driver’s licenses for alleged traffic violations, The Metropolitan Manila Authority is correct in invoking the doctrine that the
which sanction is, according to the said decision, not among those that may be validity of a law or act can be challenged only in a direct action and not collaterally.
imposed under PD 1605. That is indeed the settled principle. However, that rule is not inflexible and may be
relaxed by the Court under exceptional circumstances, such as those in the present
To clarify these matters for the proper guidance of law-enforcement officers and controversy.
motorists, the Court Resolved to require the Metropolitan Manila Authority and the
Solicitor General to submit, within ten {10) days from notice hereof, separate The Solicitor General notes that the practices complained of have created a great
COMMENTS on such sanctions in light of the said decision. deal of confusion among motorists about the state of the law on the questioned
sanctions. More importantly, he maintains that these sanctions are illegal, being
In its Comment, the Metropolitan Manila Authority defended the said ordinance on violative of law and the Gonong decision, and should therefore be stopped. We also
the ground that it was adopted pursuant to the powers conferred upon it by EO note the disturbing report that one policeman who confiscated a driver’s license
392, It particularly cited Section 2 thereof vesting in the Council (its governing dismissed the Gonong decision as “wrong” and said the police would not stop their
body) the responsibility among others of: “habit” unless they received orders “from the top.” Regrettably, not one of the
1. Formulation of policies on the delivery of basic services requiring coordination or complainants has filed a formal challenge to the ordinances, including Monsanto
consolidation for the Authority; and and Trieste, who are lawyers and could have been more assertive of their rights.

2. Promulgation of resolutions and other issuances of metropolitan wide Given these considerations, the Court feels it must address the problem squarely
application, approval of a code of basic services requiring coordination, and presented to it and decide it as categorically rather than dismiss the complaints on
exercise of its rule-making powers. (Emphasis supplied) the basis of the technical objection raised and thus, through its inaction, allow
them to fester.
The Authority argued that there was no conflict between the decision and the
ordinance because the latter was meant to supplement and not supplant the latter. The step we now take is not without legal authority or judicial precedent.
It stressed that the decision itself said that the confiscation of license plates was Unquestionably, the Court has the power to suspend procedural rules in the
invalid in the absence of a valid law or ordinance, which was why Ordinance No. 11 exercise of its inherent power, as expressly recognized in the Constitution, to
was enacted. The Authority also pointed out that the ordinance could not be promulgate rules concerning “pleading, practice and procedure in all courts."2 In
attacked collaterally but only in a direct action challenging its validity. proper cases, procedural rules may be relaxed or suspended in the interest of
substantial justice, which otherwise may be miscarried because of a rigid and
For his part, the Solicitor General expressed the view that the ordinance was null formalistic adherence to such rules.
and void because it represented an invalid exercise of a delegated legislative power.
The Court has taken this step in a number of such cases, notably Araneta vs. It is stressed that this action is not intended to disparage procedural rules, which
Dinglasan,3 where Justice Tuason justified the deviation on the ground that “the the Court has recognized often enough as necessary to the orderly administration
transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that they be of justice. If we are relaxing them in this particular case, it is because of the failure
settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of of the proper parties to file the appropriate proceeding against the acts complained
procedure.” of, and the necessity of resolving, in the interest of the public, the important
substantive issues raised. Now to the merits.
We have made similar rulings in other cases, thus:
The Metro Manila Authority sustains Ordinance No. 11Series of 1991, under the
Be it remembered that rules of procedure are but mere tools designed to facilitate specific authority conferred upon it by EO 392, while Ordinance No. 7, Series of
the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in 1988, is justified on the basis of the General Welfare Clause embodied in the Local
technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must Government Code.4 It is not disputed that both measures were enacted to promote
always be avoided. (Aznar III vs. Bernad, G.R. No. 81190, May 9,1988,161 SCRA the comfort and convenience of the public and to alleviate the worsening traffic
276.) Time and again, this Court has suspended its own rules and excepted a problems in Metropolitan Manila due in large part to violations of traffic rules.
particular case from their operation whenever the higher interests of justice so
require. In the instant petition, we forego a lengthy disquisition of the proper The Court holds that there is a valid delegation of legislative power to promulgate
procedure that should have been taken by the parties involved and proceed directly such measures, it appearing that the requisites of such delegation are present.
to the merits of the case. (Piczon vs. Court of Appeals, 190 SCRA 31). These requisites are: 1) the completeness of the statute making the delegation; and
2) the presence of a sufficient standard.5
Three of the cases were consolidated for argument and the other two were argued
separately on other dates. Inasmuch as all of them present the same fundamental Under the first requirement, the statute must leave the legislature complete in all
question which, in our view, is decisive, they will be disposed of jointly. For the its terms and provisions such that all the delegate will have to do when the statute
same reason we will pass up the objection to the personality or sufficiency of reaches it is to implement it. What only can be delegated is not the discretion to
interest of the petitioners in case G.R. No. L-3054 and case G.R. No. L-3056 and the determine what the law shall be but the discretion to determine how the law shall
question whether prohibition lies in cases G.R. Nos. L-2044 and L2756. No practical be enforced. This has been done in the case at bar.
benefit can be gained from a discussion of these procedural matters, since the
decision in the cases wherein the petitioners’ cause of action or the propriety of the As a second requirement, the enforcement may be effected only in accordance with
procedure followed is not in dispute, will be controlling authority on the others. a sufficient standard, the function of which is to map out the boundaries of the
Above all, the transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that delegate’s authority and thus “prevent the delegation from running riot.” This
they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of requirement has also been met. It is settled that the “convenience and welfare” of
procedure. (Avelino vs. Cuenco, G.R. No. L-2821 cited in Araneta vs. Dinglasan, 84 the public, particularly the motorists and passengers in the case at bar, is an
Phil. 368.) acceptable sufficient standard to delimit the delegate’s authority.6

Accordingly, the Court will consider the motion to resolve filed by the Solicitor But the problem before us is not the validity of the delegation of legislative power.
General a petition for prohibition against the enforcement of Ordinance No. 11- The question we must resolve is the validity of the exercise of such delegated
Series of 1991, of the Metropolitan Manila Authority, and Ordinance No. 7, Series power.
of 1988, of the Municipality of Mandaluyong. Stephen A. Monsanto, Rodolfo A. The measures in question are enactments of local governments acting only as
Malapira, Dan R. Calderon, and Grandy N. Trieste are considered co-petitioners and agents of the national legislature. Necessarily, the acts of these agents must reflect
the Metropolitan Manila Authority and the Municipality of Mandaluyong are and conform to the will of their principal. To test the validity of such acts in the
hereby impleaded as respondents. This petition is docketed as G.R. No. 102782. The specific case now before us, we apply the particular requisites of a valid ordinance
comments already submitted are duly noted and shall be taken into account by the as laid down by the accepted principles governing municipal corporations.
Court in the resolution of the substantive issues raised.
According to Elliot, a municipal ordinance, to be valid: 1) must not contravene the Section 5. In case of traffic violations, the driver’s license shall not be confiscated
Constitution or any statute; 2) must not be unfair or oppressive; 3) must not be but the erring driver shall be immediately issued a traffic citation ticket prescribed
partial or discriminatory; 4) must not prohibit but may regulate trade; 5) must not by the Metropolitan Manila Commission which shall state the violation committed,
be unreasonable; and 6) must be general and consistent with public policy.7 the amount of fine imposed for the violation and an advice that he can make
payment to the city or municipal treasurer where the violation was committed or to
A careful study of the Gonong decision will show that the measures under the Philippine National Bank or Philippine Veterans Bank or their branches within
consideration do not pass the first criterion because they do not conform to existing seven days from the date of issuance of the citation ticket.
law. The pertinent law is PD 1605. PD 1605 does not allow either the removal of
license plates or the confiscation of driver’s licenses for traffic violations committed If the offender fails to pay the fine imposed within the period herein prescribed, the
in Metropolitan Manila. There is nothing in the following provisions of the decree Metropolitan Manila Commission or the lawenforcement agency concerned shall
authorizing the Metropolitan Manila Commission (and now the Metropolitan endorse the case to the proper fiscal for appropriate proceedings preparatory to
Manila Authority) to impose such sanctions: the filing of the case with the competent traffic court, city or municipal court.

Section 1. The Metropolitan Manila Commission shall have the power to impose If at the time a driver renews his driver’s license and records show that he has an
fines and otherwise discipliñe drivers and operators of motor vehicles for violations unpaid fine, his driver’s license shall not be renewed until he has paid the fine and
of traffic laws, ordinances, rules and regulations in Metropolitan Manila in such corresponding surcharges.
amounts and under such penalties as are herein prescribed. For this purpose, the
powers of the Land Transportation Commission and the Board of Transportation xxx
under existing laws over such violations and punishment thereof are hereby Section 8. Insofar as the Metropolitan Manila area is concerned, all laws, decrees,
transferred to the Metropolitan Manila Commission. When the proper penalty to orders, ordinances, rules and regulations, or parts thereof inconsistent herewith are
be imposed is suspension or revocation of driver’s license or certificate of public hereby repealed or modified accordingly. (Emphasis supplied).
convenience, the Metropolitan Manila Commission or its representatives shall
suspend or revoke such license or certificate. The suspended or revoked driver’s In fact, the above provisions prohibit the imposition of such sanctions in
license or the report of suspension or revocation of the certificate of public Metropolitan Manila. The Commission was allowed to “impose fines and otherwise
convenience shall be sent to the Land Transportation Commission or the Board of discipline” traffic violators only “in such amounts and under such penalties as are
Transportation, as the case may be, for their records update. herein prescribed,” that is, by the decree itself. Nowhere is the removal of license
plates directly imposed by the decree or at least allowed by it to be imposed by the
xxx Commission. Notably, Section 5 thereof expressly provides that “in case of traffic
Section 3. Violations of traffic laws, ordinances, rules and regulations, committed violations, the driver’s license shall not be confiscated.” These restrictions are
within a twelve-month period, reckoned from the date of birth of the licensee, shall applicable to the Metropolitan Manila Authority and all other local political
subject the violator to graduated fines as follows: P10.00 for the first offense, subdivisions comprising Metropolitan Manila, including the Municipality of
P20.00 for the second offense, P50.00 for the third offense, a one-year suspension Mandaluyong.
of driver’s license for the fourth offense, and a revocation of the driver’s license for The requirement that the municipal enactment must not violate existing law
the fifth offense: Provided, That the Metropolitan Manila Commission may impose explains itself. Local political subdivisions are able to legislate only by virtue of a
higher penalties as it may deem proper for violations of its ordinances prohibiting valid delegation of legislative power from the national legislature (except only that
or regulating the use of certain public roads, streets and thoroughfares in the power to create their own sources of revenue and to levy taxes is conferred by
Metropolitan Manila. the Constitution itself).8 They are mere agents vested with what is called the power
xxx of subordinate legislation. As delegates of the Congress, the local government unit
cannot contravene but must obey at all times the will of their principal. In the case
before us, the enactments in question, which are merely local in origin, cannot To sustain the ordinance would be to open the floodgates to other ordinances
prevail against the decree, which has the force and effect of a statute. amending and so violating national laws in the guise of implementing them. Thus,
ordinances could be passed imposing additional requirements for the issuance of
The self-serving language of Section 2 of the challenged ordinance is worth noting. marriage licenses, to prevent bigamy; the registration of vehicles, to minimize
Curiously, it is the measure itself, which was enacted by the Metropolitan Manila carnapping; the execution of contracts, to forestall fraud; the validation of
Authority, that authorizes the Metropolitan Manila Authority to impose the passports, to deter imposture; the exercise of freedom of speech, to reduce
questioned sanction. disorder; and so on. The list is endless, but the means, even if the end be valid,
In Villacorta vs. Bernardo,9 the Court nullified an ordinance enacted by the would be ultra vires.
Municipal Board of Dagupan City for being violative of the Land Registration Act. The measures in question do not merely add to the requirement of PD 1605 but,
The decision held in part; worse, impose sanctions the decree does not allow and in fact actually prohibits. In
In declaring the said ordinance null and void, the court a quo declared: so doing, the ordinances disregard and violate and in effect partially repeal the law.

“From the above-recited requirements, there is no showing that would justify the We here emphasize the ruling in the Gonong Case that PD 1605 applies only to the
enactment of the questioned ordinance, Section 1 of said ordinance clearly Metropolitan Manila area. It is anexception to the general authority conferred by
conflicts with Section 44 of R.A. No. 4136 on the Commissioner of Land Transportation to punish violations of
traffic rules elsewhere in the country with the sanctions therein prescribed,
Act 496, because the latter law does not require subdivision plans to be submitted including those here questioned.
to the City Engineer before the same is submitted for approval to and verification
by the General Land Registration Office or by the Director of Lands as provided for The Court agrees that the challenged ordinances were enacted with the best of
in Section 68 of said Act. Section 2 of the same ordinance also contravenes the motives and shares the concern of the rest of the public for the effective reduction
provisions of Section 44 of Act 496, the latter being silent on a service fee of P0.03 of traffic problems in Metropolitan Manila through the imposition and enforcement
per square meter of every lot subject of such subdivision application; Section 3 of of more deterrent penalties upon traffic violators. At the same time, it must also
the ordinance in question also conflicts with Section 44 of Act 496, because the reiterate the public misgivings over the abuses that may attend the enforcement of
latter law does not mention of a certification to be made by the City Engineer such sanctions, including the illicit practices described in detail in the Gonong
before the Register of Deeds allows registration of the subdivision plan; and the last decision. At any rate, the fact is that there is no statutory authority for—and indeed
section of said ordinance imposes a penalty for its violation, which Section 44 of Act there is a statutory prohibition against—the imposition of such penalties in the
496 does not impose. In other words, Ordinance 22 of the City of Dagupan imposes Metropolitan Manila area. Hence, regardless of their merits, they cannot be
upon a subdivision owner additional conditions. imposed by the challenged enactments by virtue only of the delegated legislative
powers.
xxx
It is for Congress to determine, in the exercise of its own discretion, whether or not
“The Court takes note of the laudable purpose of the ordinance in bringing to a halt to impose such sanctions, either directly through a statute or by simply delegating
the surreptitious registration of lands belonging to the government. But as already authority to this effect to the local governments in Metropolitan Manila. Without
intimated above, the powers of the board in enacting such a laudable ordinance such action, PD 1605 remains effective and continues to prohibit the confiscation of
cannot be held valid when it shall impede the exercise of rights granted in a general license plates of motor vehicles (except under the conditions prescribed in LOI 43)
law and/or make a general law subordinated to a local ordinance.” and of driver’s licenses as well for traffic violations in Metropolitan Manila.

We affirm. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:


(1) declaring Ordinance No. 11, Series of 1991, of the Metropolitan Manila and confiscation of the license plate of any illegally parked vehicle is not among the
Authority and Ordinance No. 7, Series of 1988, of the Municipality of Mandaluyong, specified penalties. Moreover, although the Metropolitan Manila Commission is
NULL and VOID; and authorized by the decree to “otherwise discipline” and “impose higher penalties”
on traffic violators, whatever sanctions it may impose must be “in such amounts
(2) enjoining all law-enforcement authorities in Metropolitan Manila from removing and under such penalties as are herein prescribed.” The petitioner has not pointed
the license plates of motor vehicles (except when authorized under LOI 43) and to any such additional sanctions, relying instead on its argument that the applicable
confiscating driver’s licenses for traffic violations within the said area. authority for the questioned act in LOI 43.
SO ORDERED. Same; Same; Same; What the LOI punishes is not a traffic violation but a traffic
obstruction which is an altogether different offense.—It would appear that what
the LOI punishes is not a traffic violation but a traffic obstruction, which is an
altogether different offense. A violation imports an intentional breach or disregard
of a rule, as where a driver leaves his vehicle in a no-parking area against a known
and usually visible prohibition. Contrary to the common impression, LOI 43 does
not punish illegal parking per se but parking of stalled vehicles, i.e., those that
involuntarily stop on the road due to some unexpected trouble such as engine
defect, lack of gasoline, punctured tires, or other similar cause. The vehicle is
deemed illegally parked because it obstructs the flow of traffic, but only because it
has stalled. The obstruction is not deliberate. In fact, even the petitioner recognizes
that “there is a world of difference between a stalled vehicle and an illegally parked
and unattended one” and suggests a different treatment for either. “The first means
one which stopped unnecessarily or broke down while the second means one
which stopped to accomplish something, including temporary rest.”

Same; Same; Same; LOI 43 deals with motor vehicles that stall on the streets and
highways and not those that are intentionally parked in a public place in violation of
a traffic law or regulation.—LOI 43 deals with motor vehicles “that stall on the
streets and highways” and not those that are intentionally parked in a public place
in violation of a traffic law or regulation. The purpose of the LOI evidently is to
discipline the motorist into keeping his vehicle in good condition before going out
G.R. No. 91023. July 13, 1990.* into the streets so as not to cause inconvenience to the public when the car breaks
down and blocks other vehicles. That is why, for the first offense, the stalled vehicle
is immediately towed at the owner’s expense to clear the street of the traffic
METROPOLITAN TRAFFIC COMMAND WEST TRAFFIC DISTRICT, petitioner, vs. HON. obstruction. Where it appears that the owner has not learned from his first
ARSENIO M. GONONG, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, experience because the vehicle has stalled again, presumably due to his failure to
Branch 8 at Manila, and DANTE S. DAVID, respondents. repair it, the penalty shall be confiscation of the license plate and cancellation of
the certificate of registration.
Transportation; Presidential Decree No. 1605; LOI 43; Under PD 1605, removal and
confiscation of the license plate of any illegally parked vehicle is not among the Same; Same; Same; It is not alleged or shown that private respondent’s vehicle
specified penalties.—A careful reading of the above decree will show that removal stalled on a public thoroughfare and obstructed the flow of traffic; Case at bar.—In
the case of the private respondent, it is not alleged or shown that his vehicle stalled license plate of the motor vehicle. If at all, the private respondent may be held
on a public thoroughfare and obstructed the flow of traffic. The charge against him liable for illegal parking only and subjected to any of the specific penalties
is that he purposely parked his vehicle in a no-parking area (although this is mentioned in Section 3 of the decree.
disputed by him). The act, if true, is a traffic violation that may not be punished
under LOI 43. The applicable law is PD 1605, which does not include removal and Same; Property; A license plate is strictly speaking not a property right but it does
confiscation of the license plate of the vehicle among the imposable penalties. not follow that it may be removed or confiscated without lawful cause.—While it is
true that the license plate is strictly speaking not a property right, it does not follow
Same; Same; Same; Even if LOI 43 were applicable, the penalty of confiscation that it may be removed or confiscated without lawful cause. Due process is a
would still not be justified as it has not been alleged much less shown, that the guaranty against all forms of official arbitrariness. Under the principle that ours is a
illegal parking was a second or subsequent offense.—Indeed, even if LOI 43 were government of laws and not of men, every official must act by and within the
applicable, the penalty of confiscation would still not be justified as it has not been authority of a valid law and cannot justify the
alleged, much less shown, that the illegal parking was a second or subsequent
offense. That circumstance must be established at a trial before a court of justice CRUZ, J.:
where the vehicle owner shall have a right to be heard in his defense. The second We deal here with a practice known to many motorists in Metro Manila: the
or subsequent offense cannot be simply pronounced by the traffic authorities removal of the license plates of illegally parked vehicles. This was challenged by the
without hearing and without proof. Confiscation of the registry plate without a private respondent in the regional trial court of Manila, which held the practice
judicial finding that the offense charged is a second or subsequent one would, unlawful. The petitioner is now before us, urging reversal of the decision for grave
unless the owner concedes this point, be invalid. abuse of discretion.
Same; Same; Same; Court finds that there is no inconsistency between LOI 43 and The original complaint was filed with the said court on August 10, 1989, by Dante S.
PD 1605 whichever is considered the special law either because of its subject or its David, a lawyer, who claimed that the rear license plate of his car was removed by
territorial application.—We find that there is no inconsistency between LOI 43 and the Metropolitan Traffic Command while the vehicle was parked on Escolta. He
PD 1605, whichever is considered the special law either because of its subject or its questioned the petitioner’s act on the ground not only that the car was not illegally
territorial application. The former deals with motor vehicles that have stalled on a parked but, more importantly, that there was no ordinance or law authorizing such
public road while the latter deals with motor vehicles that have been deliberately removal. He asked that the practice be permanently enjoined and that in the
parked in a no-parking area; and while both cover illegal parking of motor vehicles, meantime a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction be
the offense is accidental under the first measure and intentional under the second. issued.
This explains why the sanctions are different. The purpose of the LOI is to
discourage the use of the public streets by motor vehicles that are likely to break Judge Arsenio M. Gonong issued a temporary restraining order on August 14, 1989,
down while that of the decree is to penalize the driver for his defiance of the traffic and hearings on the writ of preliminary injunction were held on August 18, 23, and
laws. 25, 1989. The writ was granted on this last date. The parties also agreed to submit
the case for resolution on the sole issue of whether there was a law or ordinance
Same; Same; Same; If at all, the private respondent may be held liable for illegal authorizing the removal of the license plates of illegally parked vehicles. The parties
parking only and subjected to any of the specific penalties mentioned in Section 3 then submitted simultaneous memoranda in support of their respective positions,
of the decree.—As it has not been shown that the private respondent’s motor following which the respondent judge rendered the assailed decision.
vehicle had stalled because of an engine defect or some other accidental cause and,
no less importantly, that it had stalled on the road for a second or subsequent time, In ruling for the complainant, Judge Gonong held that LOI 4 3, which the defendant
confiscation of the license plate cannot be justified under LOI 43. And neither can had invoked, did not empower it “to d e tach, remove and confiscate vehicle plates
that sanction be sustained under PD 1605, which clearly provides that “in case of of motor vehicles illegally parked and unattended as in the case at bar. It merely
traffic violations, (even) the driver’s license shall not be confiscated,” let alone the authorizes the removal of said vehicles when they are obstacles to free passage or
continued flow of traffic on streets and highways.” At any rate, he said, the LOI had the enforcement of LOI 43, the remedy is not to disregard it or consider it revoked
been repealed by PD 1605. Moreover, the defendant had not been able to point to but to prosecute the guilty parties.
any MMC rule or regulation or to any city ordinance to justify the questioned act.
On the allegation that the practice was “the root cause of graft and corruption or at In his comment, the private respondent argues that LOI 43 has been repealed by PD
the very least the equivalent of street racket among defendant’s deployed agents,” 1605, which specifies all the sanctions available against the various traffic
His Honor made the following pointed observations: violations, including illegal parking. He stresses that removal and confiscation of the
license plates of illegally parked vehicles is not one of them, the penalties being
At this juncture, it may not be amiss to say, that if the arbitrary and capricious limited in the decree to imposition of fine and suspension or revocation of driver’s
detachment and confiscation of vehicles plates illegally parked and unattended as in licenses or certificates of public convenience, etc. Expressio unius est exclusio
the act complained of in the instant case, the image of the man clothed in a traffic alterius. He agrees that the special law prevails over the general law but maintains
or police uniform will be greatly impaired if not cursed with disrespect on the part it is PD 1605 that is the special law because it is applicable only on Metro Manila
of those who have suffered at his hands. Worse, he will cease (if he had not already and LOI 43 that is the general law because it was intended to operate throughout
ceased) to be the law-abiding, courageous and valiant protector of a citizen of the the country. As for his allegation that the challenged practice is a source of graft, he
Republic that he is meant to be, and instead his real oppressor and enemy, thereby maintains that it was not improper to discuss it in his memorandum because it was
fortifying the contemporaneous public perception that he is a dyed-in-the-wool pertinent to the central issue under consideration. Finally, he claims that removal
extortionist if not an unmitigated chiseler.1 and confiscation of the license plate without notice and hearing violates due
process because such license plate is a form of property protected by the Bill of
It bears noting that this petition should have been filed first with the Court of Rights against unlawful deprivation.
Appeals, which has concurrent jurisdiction with this Court on decisions of the
regional trial courts involving questions of law. However, in view of the importance In its reply, the petitioner faults the private respondent for belatedly raising the
of the issue raised, we have decided to take cognizance thereof under Rule 65 of constitutionality of LOI 43, suggesting faintly that this should not be permitted. In
the Rules of Court so we can address and resolve the question directly. any case, it maintains, the license plate is not property in the constitutional sense,
being merely the identification of the vehicle, and its “temporary confiscation” does
Upon the filing of this petition, we issued a temporary restraining order dated not deprive the owner of the use of the vehicle itself. Hence, there is no unlawful
February 6, 1990, to prevent enforcement of the said decision until further orders taking under the due process clause. The petitioner also takes issue with the
from this Court. Thereafter, we required a comment from the private respondent, contention that it is PD 1605 that should be considered the special law because of
to which the petitioner filed a reply as also directed. its limited territorial application. Repeal of LOI 43 on that ground would run counter
The petitioner reiterates and reinforces its argument in the court below and insists to the legislative intention as it is in fact in Metro Manila that the problem of illegal
that LOI 43 remains in force despite the issuance of PD 1605. It contends that there parking is most acute. LOI 43, entitled Measures to Effect a Continuing Flow of
is no inconsistency between the two measures because the former deals with Transportation on Streets and Highways, was issued on November 28, 1972, with
illegally parked vehicles anywhere in the Philippines whereas the latter deals with the following pertinent provisions:
the regulation of the flow of traffic in the Metro Manila area only. The two
measures may be enforced together because implied repeals are not favored and, Motor vehicles that stall on the streets and highways, streets and sidewalks, shall
furthermore, to look at them another way, LOI 43 is the special law dealing only immediately be removed by their owners/users; otherwise said vehicles shall be
with illegal parking while PD 1605 is the general law dealing with all other kinds of dealt with and disposed in the manner stated hereunder;
traffic violations. The special law must of course prevail over the general law. The
petitioner also deplores the above-quoted remarks of the trial judge, pointing out 1. For the first offense the stalled or illegally parked vehicle shall be removed,
that the parties had agreed to limit the issue to whether there was a statutory basis towed and impounded at the expense of the owner, user or claimant;
for the act complained of. And even assuming that abuses have been committed in
2. For the second and subsequent offenses, the registry plates of the vehicles shall the Philippine National Bank or Philippine Veterans Bank or their branches within
be confiscated and the owner’s certificate of registration cancelled. (Emphasis seven days from the date of issuance of the citation ticket. If the offender fails to
supplied). pay the fine imposed within the period

PD 1605 (Granting the Metropolitan Manila Commission Central Powers Related to herein prescribed, the Metropolitan Manila Commission or the law-enforcement
Traffic Management, Providing Penalties, and for Other Purposes) was issued, also agency concerned shall endorse the case to the proper fiscal for appropriate
by President Marcos, on November 21, 1978, and pertinently provides: proceedings preparatory to the filing of the case with the competent traffic court,
city or municipal court.
Section 1. The Metropolitan Manila Commission shall have the power to impose
fines and otherwise discipline drivers and operators of motor vehicles for violations If at the time a driver renews his driver’s license and records show that he has an
of traffic laws, ordinances, rules and regulations in Metropolitan Manila in such unpaid fine, his driver’s license shall not be renewed until he has paid the fine and
amounts and under such penalties as are herein prescribed. For this purpose, the corresponding surcharges.
powers of the Land Transportation Commission and the Board of Transportation
under existing laws over such violations and punishment thereof are hereby x x x
transferred to the Metropolitan Manila Commission. When the proper penalty to Section 8. Insofar as the Metropolitan Manila area is concerned, all laws, decrees,
be imposed is suspension or revocation of driver’s license or certificate of public orders, ordinances, rules and regulations, or parts thereof inconsistent herewith are
convenience, the Metropolitan Manila Commission or its representatives shall hereby repealed or modified accordingly. (Emphasis supplied).
suspend or revoke such license or certificate. The suspended or revoked driver’s
license or thereport of suspension or revocation of the certificate of public A careful reading of the above decree will show that removal and confiscation of
convenience shall be sent to the Land Tranportation Commission or the Board of the license plate of any illegally parked vehicle is not among the specified penalties.
Transportation, as the case may be, for their records update. Moreover, although the Metropolitan Manila Commission is authorized by the
decree to “otherwise discipline” and “impose higher penalties” on traffic violators,
x x x whatever sanctions it may impose must be “in such amounts and under such
Section 3. Violations of traffic laws, ordinances, rules and regulations, committed penalties as are herein prescribed.” The petitioner has not pointed to any such
within a twelve-month period, reckoned from the date of birth of the licensee, shall additional sanctions, relying instead on its argument that the applicable authority
subject the violator to graduated fines as follows: P10.00 for the first offense, for the questioned act is LOI 43.
P20.00 for the second offense, P50.00 for the third offense, a one-year suspension The petitioner stresses that under the decree, “the powers of the Land
of driver’s license for the fourth offense, and a revocation of the driver’s license for Transportation Commission and the Board of Transportation over such violations
the fifth offense: Provided, That the Metropolitan Manila Commission may impose and punishment thereof are (hereby) transferred to the Metropolitan Manila
higher penalties as it may deem proper for violations of its ordinances prohibiting Commission,” and one of such laws is LOI 43. The penalties prescribed by the LOI
or regulating the use of certain public roads, streets or thoroughfares in are therefore deemed incorporated in PD 1605 as additional to the other penalties
Metropolitan Manila. therein specified.
x x x It would appear that what the LOI punishes is not a traffic violation but a traffic
Section 5. In case of traffic violations, the driver’s license shall not be confiscated obstruction, which is an altogether different offense. A violation imports an
but the erring driver shall be immediately issued a traffic citation ticket prescribed intentional breach or disregard of a rule, as where a driver leaves his vehicle in a
by the Metropolitan Manila Commission which shall state the violation committed, no-parking area against a known and usually visible prohibition. Contrary to the
the amount of fine imposed for the violation and an advice that he can make common impression, LOI 43 does not punish illegal parking per se but parking of
payment to the city or municipal treasurer where the violation was committed or to stalled vehicles, i.e., those that involuntarily stop on the road due to some
unexpected trouble such as engine defect, lack of gasoline, punctured tires, or
other similar cause. The vehicle is deemed illegally parked because it obstructs the registry plate without a judicial finding that the offense charged is a second or
flow of traffic, but only because it has stalled. The obstruction is not deliberate. In subsequent one would, unless the owner concedes this point, be invalid.
fact, even the petitioner recognizes that “there is a world of difference between a
stalled vehicle and an illegally parked and unattended one” and suggests a different While it is true that the license plate is strictly speaking not a property right, it does
treatment for either. “The first means one which stopped unnecessarily or broke not follow that it may be removed or confiscated without lawful cause. Due process
down while the second means one which stopped to accomplish something, is a guaranty against all forms of official arbitrariness. Under the principle that ours
including temporary rest.”2 is a government of laws and not of men, every official must act by and within the
authority of a valid law and cannot justify the lack of it on the pretext alone of good
LOI 43 deals with motor vehicles “that stall on the streets and highways” and not intentions. It is recalled that more than seventy years ago, the mayor of Manila
those that are intentionally parked in a public place in violation of a traffic law or deported one hundred seventy prostitutes to Davao for the protection of the
regulation. The purpose of the LOI evidently is to discipline the motorist into morals and health of the city. This Court acknowledged his praiseworthy purpose
keeping his vehicle in good condition before going out into the streets so as not to but just the same annulled his unauthorized act, holding that no one could take the
cause inconvenience to the public when the car breaks down and blocks other law into his own hands.3 We can rule no less in the case before us.
vehicles. That is why, for the first offense, the stalled vehicle is immediately towed
at the owner’s expense to clear the street of the traffic obstruction. Where it We find that there is no inconsistency between LOI 43 and PD 1605, whichever is
appears that the owner has not learned from his first experience because the considered the special law either because of its subject or its territorial application.
vehicle has stalled again, presumably due to his failure to repair it, the penalty shall The former deals with motor vehicles that have stalled on a public road while the
be confiscation of the license plate and cancellation of the certificate of latter deals with motor vehicles that have been deliberately parked in a no-parking
registration. area; and while both cover illegal parking of motor vehicles, the offense is
accidental under the first measure and intentional under the second. This explains
It is worth noting that it is not the driver’s license that is confiscated and canceled why the sanctions are different. The purpose of the LOI is to discourage the use of
when the vehicle stalls on a public street. The LOI goes against the vehicle itself. The the public streets by motor vehicles that are likely to break down while that of the
object of the measure is to ensure that only motor vehicles in good condition may decree is to penalize the driver for his defiance of the traffic laws.
use the public streets, and this is effected by confiscating the license plates and
canceling the certificates of registration of those vehicles that are not roadworthy. As it has not been shown that the private respondent’s motor vehicle had stalled
because of an engine defect or some other accidental cause and, no less
In the case of the private respondent, it is not alleged or shown that his vehicle importantly, that it had stalled on the road for a second or subsequent time,
stalled on a public thoroughfare and obstructed the flow of traffic. The charge confiscation of the license plate cannot be justified under LOI 43. And neither can
against him is that he purposely parked his vehicle in a no-parking area (although that sanction be sustained under PD 1605, which clearly provides that “in case of
this is disputed by him). The act, if true, is a traffic violation that may not be traffic violations, (even) the driver’s license shall not be confiscated,” let alone the
punished under LOI 43. The applicable law is PD 1605, which does not include license plate of the motor vehicle. If at all, the private respondent may be held
removal and confiscation of the license plate of the vehicle among the imposable liable for illegal parking only and subjected to any of the specific penalties
penalties. mentioned in Section 3 of the decree.

Indeed, even if LOI 43 were applicable, the penalty of confiscation would still not be We recognize the problem of the traffic policeman who comes upon an illegally
justified as it has not been alleged, much less shown, that the illegal parking was a parked and unattended vehicle and is unable to serve a citation on the offending
second or subsequent offense. That circumstance must be established at a trial driver who is nowhere insight. But that problem is not addressed to the courts; it is
before a court of justice where the vehicle owner shall have a right to be heard in for the legislative and administrative authorities to solve. What is clear to the Court
his defense. The second or subsequent offense cannot be simply pronounced by is that the difficulty cannot be avoided by the removal of the license plate of the
the traffic authorities without hearing and without proof. Confiscation of the offending vehicle because the petitioner has not shown that this penalty is
authorized by a valid law or ordinance.
The petitioner complains that the respondent judge did not confine himself to the We realize the seriousness of our traffic problems, particularly in Metro Manila, and
issue agreed upon by the parties and made gratuitous accusations that were not commend the earnest efforts of the police to effect a smoother flow of vehicles in
only irrelevant but virtually condemned the whole traffic force as corrupt. Assuming the public thoroughfares for the comfort and convenience of the people. But we
that this issue was indeed not properly raised at the trial, the Court is nevertheless must add, as a reminder that must be made, that such efforts must be authorized
not inhibited from considering it in this proceeding, on the basis of its own by a valid law, which must clearly define the offenses proscribed and as clearly
impressions on the matter. specify the penalties prescribed.

This Court is not isolated from the mainstream of society and secluded in a world of WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The Court holds that LOI 43 is valid but
its own, unconcerned with the daily lives of the rest of the nation. On the contrary, may be applied only against motor vehicles that have stalled in the public streets
the members of this Court mix with the people and know their problems and due to some involuntary cause and not those that have been intentionally parked in
complaints. And among these are the alleged abuses of the police in connection violation of the traffic laws. The challenged decision of the trial court is AFFIRMED
with the issue now before us. in so far as it enjoins confiscation of the private respondent’s license plate for
alleged deliberate illegal parking, which is subject to a different penalty. The
It is claimed that the removal of the license plates of illegally parked motor vehicles temporary restraining order dated February 6, 1990, is LIFTED.
in Metro Manila has become a veritable gold mine for some police officers. To be
sure, we do not have hard, provable facts at hand but only vague and SO ORDERED.
unsubstantiated rumors that could be no more than malicious and invented
charges. Nevertheless, these accusations have become too prevalent and
apparently too persuasive that they cannot be simply swept under the rug.

The widespread report is that civilian “agents,” mostly street urchins under the
control and direction of certain policemen, remove these license plates from
illegally parked vehicles and later discreetly suggest to the owners that these may
be retrieved for an unofficial fee. This ranges from P50.00 to P200.00, depending on
the type of vehicle. If the owner agrees, payment is usually made and the license
plate returned at a private rendezvous. No official receipt is issued. Everything is
done quietly. The owners, it is said, prefer this kind of fast settlement to the
inconvenience of an official proceeding that may entail not only the payment of a
higher fine but also other administrative impositions, like attendance at a traffic
seminar.

The Court is not saying that these reports are true nor is it stigmatizing the entire
police force on the basis of these unsubstantiated charges. But it does believe and
stress that the proper authorities should take official notice of these reports instead
of blandly dismissing them as mere canards that do not deserve their attention and
concern. An inquiry is in our view indicated. The old adage that where there’s
smoke there’s fire is not necessarily true and can hardly be the rationale of a
judicial conclusion; but the Court feels just the same that serious steps should be
taken, especially because of the persistence of these charges, to determine the
source of the smoke.
Same; Same; Same; Police power is lodged primarily in the National Legislature
which may delegate the power to the President and administrative boards as well
as the lawmaking bodies of municipal corporations or local government units.—It
bears stressing that police power is lodged primarily in the National Legislature. It
cannot be exercised by any group or body of individuals not possessing legislative
power. The National Legislature, however, may delegate this power to the President
and administrative boards as well as the lawmaking bodies of municipal
corporations or local government units. Once delegated, the agents can exercise
only such legislative powers as are conferred on them by the national lawmaking
body.

Same; Same; Same; Definition of Local Government.—A local government is a


“political subdivision of a nation or state which is constituted by law and has
substantial control of local affairs.” The Local Government Code of 1991 defines a
local government unit as a “body politic and corporate”—one endowed with
powers as a political subdivision of the National Government and as a corporate
entity representing the inhabitants of its territory. Local government units are the
provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays. They are also the territorial and
political subdivisions of the state.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Police power delegated to the local government units in
the Local Government Code of 1991.—Our Congress delegated police power to the
local government units in the Local Government Code of 1991. This delegation is
found in Section 16 of the same Code, known as the general welfare clause.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Local government units exercise police power through
G.R. No. 135962. March 27, 2000.* their respective legislative bodies.—Local government units exercise police power
through their respective legislative bodies. The legislative body of the provincial
government is the sangguniang panlalawigan, that of the city government is the
sangguniang panlungsod, that of the municipal government is the sangguniang
METROPOLITAN MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner, vs. BEL-AIR
bayan, and that of the barangay is the sangguniang barangay. The Local
VILLAGE ASSOCIATION, INC., respondent.
Government Code of 1991 empowers the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang
Constitutional Law; Political Subdivision; Police Power; Definition of Police Power.— panlungsod and sangguniang bayan to “enact ordinances, approve resolutions and
Police power is an inherent attribute of sovereignty. It has been defined as the appropriate funds for the general welfare of the [province, city or municipality, as
power vested by the Constitution in the legislature to make, ordain, and establish the case may be], and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of the Code and in the
all manner of wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes and ordinances, either with proper exercise of the corporate powers of the [province, city municipality]
penalties or without, not repugnant to the Constitution, as they shall judge to be provided under the Code x x x.” The same Code gives the sangguniang barangay the
for the good and welfare of the commonwealth, and for the subjects of the same. power to “enact ordinances as may be necessary to discharge the responsibilities
The power is plenary and its scope is vast and pervasive, reaching and justifying conferred upon it by law or ordinance and to promote the general welfare of the
measures for public health, public safety, public morals, and the general welfare. inhabitants thereon.”
Same; Same; Same; There is no syllable in Republic Act No. 7924 that grants the and police power. In the case at bar, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Makati City did
Metro Manila Development Authority police power, let alone legislative power.—It not pass any ordinance or resolution ordering the opening of Neptune Street,
will be noted that the powers of the MMDA are limited to the following acts: hence, its proposed opening by petitioner MMDA is illegal and the respondent
formulation, coordination, regulation, implementation, preparation, management, Court of Appeals did not err in so ruling.
monitoring, setting of policies, installation of a system and administration. There is
no syllable in R.A. No. 7924 that grants the MMDA police power, let alone PUNO, J.:
legislative power. Even the Metro Manila Council has not been delegated any Not infrequently, the government is tempted to take legal shortcuts to solve urgent
legislative power. Unlike the legislative bodies of the local government units, there problems of the people. But even when government is armed with the best of
is no provision in R.A. No. 7924 that empowers the MMDA or its Council to “enact intention, we cannot allow it to run roughshod over the rule of law. Again, we let
ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare” of the hammer fall and fall hard on the illegal attempt of the MMDA to open for public
the inhabitants of Metro Manila. The MMDA is, as termed in the charter itself, a use a private road in a private subdivision. While we hold that the general welfare
“development authority.” should be promoted, we stress that it should not be achieved at the expense of the
Same; Same; Same; Metro Manila Development Authority is not a political unit of rule of law.
government.—Clearly, the MMDA is not a political unit of government. The power Petitioner MMDA is a government agency tasked with the delivery of basic services
delegated to the MMDA is that given to the Metro Manila Council to promulgate in Metro Manila. Respondent Bel-Air Village Association, Inc. (BAVA) is a non-stock,
administrative rules and regulations in the implementation of the MMDA’s non-profit corporation whose members are homeowners in Bel-Air Village, a
functions. There is no grant of authority to enact ordinances and regulations for the private subdivision in Makati City. Respondent BAVA is the registered owner of
general welfare of the inhabitants of the metropolis. Neptune Street, a road inside BelAir Village.
Same; Same; Same; Metro Manila Development Authority is not a local government On December 30, 1995, respondent received from petitioner, through its Chairman,
unit or a public corporation endowed with legislative power.—It is thus beyond a notice dated December 22, 1995 requesting respondent to open Neptune Street
doubt that the MMDA is not a local government unit or a public corporation to public vehicular traffic starting January 2, 1996. The notice reads:
endowed with legislative power. It is not even a “special metropolitan political
subdivision” as contemplated in Section 11, Article X of the Constitution. The “SUBJECT: NOTICE of the Opening of Neptune Street to Traffic
creation of a “special metropolitan political subdivision” requires the approval by a
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. R.A. “Dear President Lindo,
No. 7924 was not submitted to the inhabitants of Metro Manila in a plebiscite. The
“Please be informed that pursuant to the mandate of the MMDA law or Republic
Chairman of the MMDA is not an official elected by the people, but appointed by
Act No. 7924 which requires the Authority to rationalize the use of roads and/or
the President with the rank and privileges of a cabinet member. In fact, part of his
thoroughfares for the safe and convenient movement of persons, Neptune Street
function is to perform such other duties as may be assigned to him by the
shall be opened to vehicular traffic effective January 2, 1996.
President, whereas in local government units, the President merely exercises
supervisory authority. This emphasizes the administrative character of the MMDA. “In view whereof, the undersigned requests you to voluntarily open the points of
entry and exit on said street.
Same; Same; Same; Unlike the Metro Manila Commission, the Metro Manila
Development Authority has no power to enact ordinances for the welfare of the
community.—Clearly then, the MMC under P.D. No. 824 is not the same entity as
the MMDA under R.A. No. 7924. Unlike the MMC, the MMDA has no power to “Thank you for your cooperation and whatever assistance that may be extended by
enact ordinances for the welfare of the community. It is the local government units, your association to the MMDA personnel who will be directing traffic in the area.
acting through their respective legislative councils, that possess legislative power
“Finally, we are furnishing you with a copy of the handwritten instruction of the The Motion for Reconsideration of the decision was denied on September 28, 1998.
President on the matter. Hence, this recourse.

“Very truly yours, Petitioner MMDA raises the following questions:

PROSPERO I. ORETA “I HAS THE METROPOLITAN MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (MMDA) THE
MANDATE TO OPEN NEPTUNE STREET TO PUBLIC TRAFFIC PURSUANT TO ITS
Chairman”1 REGULATORY AND POLICE POWERS?
On the same day, respondent was apprised that the perimeter wall separating the II IS THE PASSAGE OF AN ORDINANCE A CONDITION PRECEDENT BEFORE THE
subdivision from the adjacent Kalayaan Avenue would be demolished. MMDA MAY ORDER THE OPENING OF SUBDIVISION ROADS TO PUBLIC TRAFFIC?
On January 2, 1996, respondent instituted against petitioner before the Regional III IS RESPONDENT BEL-AIR VILLAGE ASSOCIATION, INC. ESTOPPED FROM DENYING
Trial Court, Branch 136, Makati City, Civil Case No. 96-001 for injunction. OR ASSAILING THE AUTHORITY OF THE MMDA TO OPEN THE SUBJECT STREET?
Respondent prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction enjoining the opening of Neptune Street and prohibiting the IV WAS RESPONDENT DEPRIVED OF DUE PROCESS DESPITE THE SEVERAL MEETINGS
demolition of the perimeter wall. The trial court issued a temporary restraining HELD BETWEEN MMDA AND THE AFFECTED BEL-AIR RESIDENTS AND BAVA
order the following day. OFFICERS?

On January 23, 1996, after due hearing, the trial court denied issuance of a V HAS RESPONDENT COME TO COURT WITH UNCLEAN HANDS?”7
preliminary injunction.2 Respondent questioned the denial before the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 39549. The appellate court conducted an ocular Neptune Street is owned by respondent BAVA. It is a private road inside Bel-Air
inspection of Neptune Street3 and on February 13, 1996, it issued a writ of Village, a private residential subdivision in the heart of the financial and commercial
preliminary injunction enjoining the implementation of the MMDA’s proposed district of Makati City. It runs parallel to Kalayaan Avenue, a national road open to
action.4 the general public. Dividing the two (2) streets is a concrete perimeter wall
approximately fifteen (15) feet high. The western end of Neptune Street intersects
On January 28, 1997, the appellate court rendered a Decision on the merits of the Nicanor Garcia, formerly Reposo Street, a subdivision road open to public vehicular
case finding that the MMDA has no authority to order the opening of Neptune traffic, while its eastern end intersects Makati Avenue, a national road. Both ends of
Street, a private subdivision road and cause the demolition of its perimeter walls. It Neptune Street are guarded by iron gates.
held that the authority is lodged in the City Council of Makati by ordinance. The
decision disposed of as follows: Petitioner MMDA claims that it has the authority to open Neptune Street to public
traffic because it is an agent of the state endowed with police power in the delivery
“WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED; the challenged Order dated January 23, of basic services in Metro Manila. One of these basic services is traffic management
1995, in Civil Case No. 96-001, is SET ASIDE and the Writ of Preliminary Injunction which involves the regulation of the use of thoroughfares to insure the safety,
issued on February 13, 1996 is hereby made permanent. convenience and welfare of the general public. It is alleged that the police power of
MMDA was affirmed by this Court in the consolidated cases of Sangalang v.
“For want of sustainable substantiation, the Motion to Cite Roberto L. del Rosario in Intermediate Appellate Court.8 From the premise that it has police power, it is now
contempt is denied.5 urged that there is no need for the City of Makati to enact an ordinance opening
“No pronouncement as to costs. Neptune street to the public.9

“SO ORDERED.”6 Police power is an inherent attribute of sovereignty. It has been defined as the
power vested by the Constitution in the legislature to make, ordain, and establish
all manner of wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes and ordinances, either with panlalawigan, that of the city government is the sangguniang panlungsod, that of
penalties or without, not repugnant to the Constitution, as they shall judge to be the municipal government is the sangguniang bayan, and that of the barangay is
for the good and welfare of the commonwealth, and for the subjects of the the sangguniang barangay. The Local Government Code of 1991 empowers the
same.10 The power is plenary and its scope is vast and pervasive, reaching and sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod and sangguniang bayan to
justifying measures for public health, public safety, public morals, and the general “enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general
welfare.11 welfare of the [province, city or municipality, as the case may be], and its
inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of the Code and in the proper exercise of the
It bears stressing that police power is lodged primarily in the National corporate powers of the [province, city municipality] provided under the Code x x
Legislature.12 It cannot be exercised by any group or body of individuals not x.”22 The same Code gives the sangguniang barangay the power to “enact
possessing legislative power.13 The National Legislature, however, may delegate ordinances as may be necessary to discharge the responsibilities conferred upon it
this power to the President and administrative boards as well as the lawmaking by law or ordinance and to promote the general welfare of the inhabitants
bodies of municipal corporations or local government units.14 Once delegated, the thereon.”23
agents can exercise only such legislative powers as are conferred on them by the
national lawmaking body.15 Metropolitan or Metro Manila is a body composed of several local government
units—i.e., twelve (12) cities and five (5) municipalities, namely, the cities of
A local government is a “political subdivision of a nation or state which is Caloocan, Manila, Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, Muntinlupa, Las
constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs.”16 The Local Pinas, Marikina, Parañaque and Valenzuela, and the municipalities of Malabon,
Government Code of 1991 defines a local government unit as a “body politic and Navotas, Pateros, San Juan and Taguig. With the passage of Republic Act (R.A.) No.
corporate”17—one endowed with powers as a political subdivision of the National 792424 in 1995, Metropolitan Manila was declared as a “special development and
Government and as a corporate entity representing the inhabitants of its administrative region” and the Administration of “metrowide” basic services
territory.18 Local government units are the provinces, cities, municipalities and affecting the region placed under “a development authority” referred to as the
barangays.19 They are also the territorial and political subdivisions of the state.20 MMDA.25
Our Congress delegated police power to the local government units in the Local “Metro-wide services” are those “services which have metrowide impact and
Government Code of 1991. This delegation is found in Section 16 of the same Code, transcend local political boundaries or entail huge expenditures such that it would
known as the general welfare clause, viz.. not be viable for said services to be provided by the individual local government
“Sec. 16. General Welfare.—Every local government unit shall exercise the powers units comprising Metro Manila.”26 There are seven (7) basic metro-wide services
expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers and the scope of these services cover the following: (1) development planning; (2)
necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and transport and traffic management; (3) solid waste disposal and management; (4)
those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their flood control and sewerage management; (5) urban renewal, zoning and land use
respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, planning, and shelter services; (6) health and sanitation, urban protection and
among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health pollution control; and (7) public safety. The basic service of transport and traffic
and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage and management includes the following:
support the development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological “(b) Transport and traffic management which include the formulation, coordination,
capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, and monitoring of policies, standards, programs and projects to rationalize the
promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and existing transport operations, infrastructure requirements, the use of
preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants.”21 thoroughfares, and promotion of safe and convenient movement of persons and
Local government units exercise police power through their respective legislative goods; provision for the mass transport system and the institution of a system to
bodies. The legislative body of the provincial government is the sangguniang regulate road users; administration and implementation of all traffic enforcement
operations, traffic engineering services and traffic education programs, including units, duly licensed security guards, or members of non-governmental organizations
the institution of a single ticketing system in Metropolitan Manila;”27 to whom may be delegated certain authority, subject to such conditions and
requirements as the Authority may impose; and
In the delivery of the seven (7) basic services, the MMDA has the following powers
and functions: (g) Perform other related functions required to achieve the objectives of the
MMDA, including the undertaking of delivery of basic services to the local
“Sec. 5. Functions and powers of the Metro Manila Development Authority.—The government units, when deemed necessary subject to prior coordination with and
MMDA shall: consent of the local government unit concerned.”
(a) Formulate, coordinate and regulate the implementation of medium and long- The implementation of the MMDA’s plans, programs and projects is undertaken by
term plans and programs for the delivery of metrowide services, land use and the local government units, nationalgovernment agencies, accredited people’s
physical development within Metropolitan Manila, consistent with national organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector as well as by
development objectives and priorities; the MMDA itself. For this purpose, the MMDA has the power to enter into
(b) Prepare, coordinate and regulate the implementation of medium-term contracts, memoranda of agreement and other cooperative arrangements with
investment programs for metro-wide services which shall indicate sources and uses these bodies for the delivery of the required services within Metro Manila.28
of funds for priority programs and projects, and which shall include the packaging The governing board of the MMDA is the Metro Manila Council. The Council is
of projects and presentation to funding institutions; composed of the mayors of the component 12 cities and 5 municipalities, the
(c) Undertake and manage on its own metro-wide programs and projects for the president of the Metro Manila Vice-Mayors’ League and the president of the Metro
delivery of specific services under its jurisdiction, subject to the approval of the Manila Councilors’ League.29 The Council is headed by a Chairman who is
Council. For this purpose, MMDA can create appropriate project management appointed by the President and vested with the rank of cabinet member. As the
offices; policy-making body of the MMDA, the Metro Manila Council approves metro-wide
plans, programs and projects, and issues the necessary rules and regulations for the
(d) Coordinate and monitor the implementation of such plans, programs and implementation of said plans; it approves the annual budget of the MMDA and
projects in Metro Manila; identify bottlenecks and adopt solutions to problems of promulgates the rules and regulations for the delivery of basic services, collection
implementation; of service and regulatory fees, fines and penalties. These functions are particularly
enumerated as follows:
(e)The MMDA shall set the policies concerning traffic in Metro Manila, and shall
coordinate and regulate the implementation of all programs and projects “Sec. 6. Functions of the Metro Manila Council.—
concerning traffic management, specifically pertaining to enforcement, engineering
and education. Upon request, it shall be extended assistance and cooperation, (a) The Council shall be the policy-making body of the MMDA;
including but not limited to, assignment of personnel, by all other government (b) It shall approve metro-wide plans, programs and projects and issue rules and
agencies and offices concerned; regulations deemed necessary by the MMDA to carry out the purposes of this Act;
(f)Install and administer a single ticketing system, fix, impose and collect fines and (c) It may increase the rate of allowances and per diems of the members of the
penalties for all kinds of violations of traffic rules and regulations, whether moving Council to be effective during the term of the succeeding Council. It shall fix the
or non-moving in nature, and confiscate and suspend or revoke drivers’ licenses in compensation of the officers and personnel of the MMDA, and approve the annual
the enforcement of such traffic laws and regulations, the provisions of RA 4136 and budget thereof for submission to the Department of Budget and Management
PD 1605 to the contrary notwithstanding. For this purpose, the Authority shall (DBM);
impose all traffic laws and regulations in Metro Manila, through its traffic operation
center, and may deputize members of the PNP, traffic enforcers of local government
(d) It shall promulgate rules and regulations and set policies and standards for Petitioner cannot seek refuge in the cases of Sangalang v. Intermediate Appellate
metro-wide application governing the delivery of basic services, prescribe and Court32 where we upheld a zoning ordinance issued by the Metro Manila
collect service and regulatory fees, and impose and collect fines and penalties.” Commission (MMC), the predecessor of the MMDA, as an exercise of police power.
The first Sangalang decision was on the merits of the petition,33 while the second
Clearly, the scope of the MMDA’s function is limited to the delivery of the seven (7) decision denied reconsideration of the first case and in addition discussed the case
basic services. One of these is transport and traffic management which includes the of Yabut v. Court of Appeals.34
formulation and monitoring of policies, standards and projects to rationalize the
existing transport operations, infrastructure requirements, the use of thoroughfares Sangalang v. IAC involved five (5) consolidated petitions filed by respondent BAVA
and promotion of the safe movement of persons and goods. It also covers the mass and three residents of Bel-Air Village against other residents of the Village and the
transport system and the institution of a system of road regulation, the Ayala Corporation, formerly the Makati Development Corporation, as the developer
administration of all traffic enforcement operations, traffic engineering services and of the subdivision. The petitioners sought to enforce certain restrictive easements
traffic education programs, including the institution of a single ticketing system in in the deeds of sale over their respective lots in the subdivision. These were the
Metro Manila for traffic violations. Under this service, the MMDA is expressly prohibition on the setting up of commercial and advertising signs on the lots, and
authorized “to set the policies concerning traffic” and “coordinate and regulate the the condition that the lots be used only for residential purposes. Petitioners alleged
implementation of all traffic management programs.” In addition, the MMDA may that respondents, who were residents along Jupiter Street of the subdivision,
“install and administer a single ticketing system,” fix, impose and collect fines and converted their residences into commercial establishments in violation of the “deed
penalties for all traffic violations. restrictions,” and that respondent Ayala Corporation ushered in the full
“commercialization” of Jupiter Street by tearing down the perimeter wall that
It will be noted that the powers of the MMDA are limited to the following acts: separated the commercial from the residential section of the village.35
formulation, coordination, regulation, implementation, preparation, management,
monitoring, setting of policies, installation of a system and administration. There is The petitions were dismissed based on Ordinance No. 81 of the Municipal Council
no syllable in R.A. No. 7924 that grants the MMDA police power, let alone of Makati and Ordinance No. 81-01 of the Metro Manila Commission (MMC).
legislative power. Even the Metro Manila Council has not been delegated any Municipal Ordinance No. 81 classified Bel-Air Village as a Class A Residential Zone,
legislative power. Unlike the legislative bodies of the local government units, there with its boundary in the south extending to the center line of Jupiter Street. The
is no provision in R.A. No. 7924 that empowers the MMDA or its Council to “enact Municipal Ordinance was adopted by the MMC under the Comprehensive Zoning
ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare” of Ordinance for the National Capital Region and promulgated as MMC Ordinance No.
the inhabitants of Metro Manila. The MMDA is, as termed in the charter itself, a 81-01. Bel-Air Village was indicated therein as bounded by Jupiter Street and the
block adjacent thereto was classified as a High Intensity Commercial Zone.36
“development authority.”30 It is an agency created for the purpose of laying down
policies and coordinating with the various national government agencies, people’s We ruled that since both Ordinances recognized Jupiter Street as the boundary
organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector for the between Bel-Air Village and the commercial district, Jupiter Street was not for the
efficient and expeditious delivery of basic services in the vast metropolitan area. All exclusive benefit of Bel-Air residents. We also held that the perimeter wall on said
its functions are administrative in nature and these are actually summed up in the street was constructed not to separate the residential from the commercial blocks
charter itself, viz.: but simply for security reasons, hence, in tearing down said wall, Ayala Corporation
did not violate the “deed restrictions” in the deeds of sale.
“Sec. 2. Creation of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.—x x x.
We upheld the ordinances, specifically MMC Ordinance No. 81-01, as a legitimate
The MMDA shall perform planning, monitoring and coordinative functions, and in exercise of police power.37 The power of the MMC and the Makati Municipal
the process exercise regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of Council to enact zoning ordinances for the general welfare prevailed over the “deed
metro-wide services within Metro Manila, without diminution of the autonomy of restrictions.”
the local government units concerning purely local matters.”31
In the second Sangalang/Yabut decision, we held that the opening of Jupiter Street efficiently and economically if integrated under a system of central planning; and
was warranted by the demands ofthe common good in terms of “traffic this coordination, “especially in the maintenance of peace and order and the
decongestion and public convenience.” Jupiter was opened by the Municipal Mayor eradication of social and economic ills that fanned the flames of rebellion and
to alleviate traffic congestion along the public streets adjacent to the Village.38 The discontent [were] part of reform measures under Martial Law essential to the
same reason was given for the opening to public vehicular traffic of Orbit Street, a safety and security of the State.”41 Metropolitan Manila was established as a
road inside the same village. The destruction of the gate in Orbit Street was also “public corporation” with the following powers:
made under the police power of the municipal government. The gate, like the
perimeter wall along Jupiter, was a public nuisance because it hindered and “Section 1. Creation of the Metropolitan Manila.—There is hereby created a public
impaired the use of property, hence, its summary abatement by the mayor was corporation, to be known as the Metropolitan Manila, vested with powers and
proper and legal.39 attributes of a corporation including the power to make contracts, sue and be sued,
acquire, purchase, expropriate, hold, transfer and dispose of property and such
Contrary to petitioner’s claim, the two Sangalang cases do not apply to the case at other powers as are necessary to carry out its purposes. The Corporation shall be
bar. Firstly, both involved zoning ordinances passed by the municipal council of administered by a Commission created under this Decree.”42
Makati and the MMC. In the instant case, the basis for the proposed opening of
Neptune Street is contained in the notice of December 22, 1995 sent by petitioner The administration of Metropolitan Manila was placed under the Metro Manila
to respondent BAVA, through its president. The notice does not cite any ordinance Commission (MMC) vested with the following powers:
or law, either by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Makati City or by the MMDA, as “Sec. 4. Powers and Functions of the Commission.—The Commission shall have the
the legal basis for the proposed opening of Neptune Street. Petitioner MMDA following powers and functions:
simply relied on its authority under its charter “to rationalize the use of roads
and/or thoroughfares for the safe and convenient movement of persons.” 1.To act as a central government to establish and administer programs and provide
Rationalizing the use of roads and thoroughfares is one of the acts that fall within services common to the area;
the scope of transport and traffic management. By no stretch of the imagination,
however, can this be interpreted as an express or implied grant of ordinancemaking 2. To levy and collect taxes and special assessments, borrow and expend money and
power, much less police power. issue bonds, revenue certificates, and other obligations of indebtedness. Existing
tax measures should, however, continue to be operative until otherwise modified or
Secondly, the MMDA is not the same entity as the MMC in Sangalang. Although the repealed by the Commission;
MMC is the forerunner of the present MMDA, an examination of Presidential
Decree (P.D.) No. 824, the charter of the MMC, shows that the latter possessed 3. To charge and collect fees for the use of public service facilities;
greater powers which were not bestowed on the present MMDA.
4. To appropriate money for the operation of the metropolitan government and
Metropolitan Manila was first created in 1975 by Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 824. review appropriations for the city and municipal units within its jurisdiction with
It comprised the Greater Manila authority to disapprove the same if found to be not in accordance with the
established policies of the Commission, without prejudice to any contractual
Area composed of the contiguous four (4) cities of Manila, Quezon, Pasay and obligation of the local government units involved existing at the time of approval of
Caloocan, and the thirteen (13) municipalities of Makati, Mandaluyong, San Juan, this Decree;
Las Piñas, Malabon, Navotas, Pasig, Pateros, Parañaque, Marikina, Muntinlupa and
Taguig in the province of Rizal, and Valenzuela in the province of Bulacan.40 5.To review, amend, revise or repeal all ordinances, resolutions and acts of cities
Metropolitan Manila was created as a response to the finding that the rapid growth and municipalities within Metropolitan Ma-nila;
of population and the increase of social and economic requirements in these areas
demand a call for simultaneous and unified development; that the public services
rendered by the respective local governments could be administered more
6.To enact or approve ordinances, resolutions and to fix penalties for any violation ordinances, resolutions and acts of any of the four (4) cities and thirteen (13)
thereof which shall not exceed a fine of P10,000.00 or imprisonment of six years or municipalities comprising Metro Manila.
both such fine and imprisonment for a single offense;
P.D. No. 824 further provided:
7. To perform general administrative, executive and policymaking functions;
“Sec. 9. Until otherwise provided, the governments of the four cities and thirteen
8. To establish a fire control operation center, which shall direct the fire services of municipalities in the Metropolitan Manila shall continue to exist in their present
the city and municipal governments in the metropolitan area; form except as may be inconsistent with this Decree. The members of the existing
city and municipal councils in Metropolitan Manila shall, upon promulgation of this
9. To establish a garbage disposal operation center, which shall direct garbage Decree, and until December 31, 1975, become members of the Sangguniang Bayan
collection and disposal in the metropolitan area; which is hereby created for every city and municipality of Metropolitan Manila.
10. To establish and operate a transport and traffic center, which shall direct traffic In addition, the Sangguniang Bayan shall be composed of as many barangay
activities; captains as may be determined and chosen by the Commission, and such number
11. To coordinate and monitor governmental and private activities pertaining to of representatives from other sectors of the society as may be appointed by the
essential services such as transportation, flood control and drainage, water supply President upon recommendation of the Commission.
and sewerage, social, health and environmental services, housing, park x x x.
development, and others;
The Sangguniang Bayan may recommend to the Commission ordinances,
12. To insure and monitor the undertaking of a comprehensive social, economic and resolutions or such measures as it may adopt; Provided, that no such ordinance,
physical planning and development of the area; resolution or measure shall become effective, until after its approval by the
13. To study the feasibility of increasing barangay participation in the affairs of their Commission; and Provided further, that the power to impose taxes and other levies,
respective local governments and to propose to the President of the Philippines the power to appropriate money and the power to pass ordinances or resolutions
definite programs and policies for implementation; with penal sanctions shall be vested exclusively in the Commission.”

14. To submit within thirty (30) days after the close of each fiscal year an annual The creation of the MMC also carried with it the creation of the Sangguniang
report to the President of the Philippines and to submit a periodic report whenever Bayan. This was composed of the members of the component city and municipal
deemed necessary; and councils, barangay captains chosen by the MMC and sectoral representatives
appointed by the President. The Sangguniang Bayan had the power to recommend
15. To perform such other tasks as may be assigned or directed by the President of to the MMC the adoption of ordinances, resolutions or measures. It was the MMC
the Philippines.” itself, however, that possessed legislative powers. All ordinances, resolutions and
measures recommended by the Sangguniang Bayan were subject to the MMC’s
The MMC was the “central government” of Metro Manila for the purpose of approval. Moreover, the power to impose taxes and other levies, the power to
establishing and administering programs providing services common to the area. As appropriate money, and the power to pass ordinances or resolutions with penal
a “central government” it had the power to levy and collect taxes and special sanctions were vested exclusively in the MMC.
assessments, the power to charge and collect fees; the power to appropriate
money for its operation, and at the same time, review appropriations for the city Thus, Metropolitan Manila had a “central government,” i.e., the MMC which fully
and municipal units within its jurisdiction. It was bestowed the power to enact or possessed legislative and police powers. Whatever legislative powers the
approve ordinances, resolutions and fix penalties for violation of such ordinances component cities and municipalities had were all subject to review and approval by
and resolutions. It also had the power to review, amend, revise or repeal all the MMC.
After President Corazon Aquino assumed power, there was a clamor to restore the The MMA’s power was limited to the “delivery of basic urban services requiring
autonomy of the local government units in Metro Manila. Hence, Sections 1 and 2 coordination in Metropolitan Manila.”47 The MMA’s governing body, the
of Article X of the 1987 Constitution provided: Metropolitan Manila Council, although composed of the mayors of the component
cities and municipalities, was merely given the power of: (1) formulation of policies
“Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the on the delivery of basic services requiring coordination and consolidation; and (2)
Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays. There shall be promulgation of resolutions and other issuances, approval of a code of basic
autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as herein provided. services and the exercise of its rule-making power.48
Section 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.” Under the 1987 Constitution, the local government units became primarily
The Constitution, however, recognized the necessity of creating metropolitan responsible for the governance of their respective political subdivisions. The MMA’s
regions not only in the existing National Capital Region but also in potential jurisdiction was limited to addressing common problems involving basic services
equivalents in the Visayas and Mindanao.43 Section 11 of the same Article X thus that transcended local boundaries. It did not have legislative power. Its power was
provided: merely to provide the local government units technical assistance in the
preparation of local development plans. Any semblance of legislative power it had
“Section 11. The Congress may, by law, create special metropolitan political was confined to a “review [of] legislation proposed by the local legislative
subdivisions, subject to a plebiscite as set forth in Section 10 hereof. The assemblies to ensure consistency among local governments and with the
component cities and municipalities shall retain their basic autonomy and shall be comprehensive development plan of Metro Manila,” and to “advise the local
entitled to their own local executives and legislative assemblies. The jurisdiction of governments accordingly.”49
the metropolitan authority that will thereby be created shall be limited to basic
services requiring coordination.” When R.A. No. 7924 took effect, Metropolitan Manila became a “special
development and administrative region” and the MMDA a “special development
The Constitution itself expressly provides that Congress may, by law, create “special authority” whose functions were “without prejudice to the autonomy of the
metropolitan political subdivisions” which shall be subject to approval by a majority affected local government units.” The character of the MMDA was clearly defined in
of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected; the the legislative debates enacting its charter.
jurisdiction of this subdivision shall be limited to basic services requiring
coordination; and the cities and municipalities comprising this subdivision shall R.A. No. 7924 originated as House Bill No. 14170/11116 and was introduced by
retain their basic autonomy and their own local executive and legislative several legislators led by Dante Tinga, Roilo Golez and Feliciano Belmonte. It was
assemblies.44 Pending enactment of this law, the Transitory Provisions of the presented to the House of Representatives by the Committee on Local
Constitution gave the President of the Philippines the power to constitute the Governments chaired by Congressman Ciriaco R. Alfelor. The bill was a product of
Metropolitan Authority, viz.: Committee consultations with the local government units in the National Capital
Region (NCR), with former Chairmen of the MMC and MMA,50 and career officials
“Section 8. Until otherwise provided by Congress, the President may constitute the of said agencies. When the bill was first taken up by the Committee on Local
Metropolitan Authority to be composed of the heads of all local government units Governments, the following debate took place:
comprising the Metropolitan Manila area.”45
“THE CHAIRMAN [Hon. Ciriaco Alfelor]: Okay, Let me explain. This has been debated
In 1990, President Aquino issued Executive Order (E.O.) No. 392 and constituted the a long time ago, you know. It’s a special... we can create a special metropolitan
Metropolitan Manila Authority (MMA). The powers and functions of the MMC were political subdivision.
devolved to the MMA.46 It ought to be stressed, however, that not all powers and
functions of the MMC were passed to the MMA. Actually, there are only six (6) political subdivisions provided for in the Constitution:
barangay, municipality, city, province, and we have the Autonomous Region of
Mindanao and we have the Cordillera. So we have 6. Now . . . .
HON. [Elias] LOPEZ: May I interrupt, Mr. Chairman. In the case of the Autonomous Clearly, the MMDA is not a political unit of government. The power delegated to
Region, that is also specifically mandated by the Constitution. the MMDA is that given to the Metro Manila Council to promulgate administrative
rules and regulations in the implementation of the MMDA’s functions. There is no
THE CHAIRMAN: That’s correct. But it is considered to be a political subdivision. grant of authority to enact ordinances and regulations for the general welfare of
What is the meaning of a political subdivision? Meaning to say, that it has its own the inhabitants of the metropolis. This was explicitly stated in the last Committee
government, it has its own political personality, it has the power to tax, and all deliberations prior to the bill’s presentation to Congress. Thus:
governmental powers: police power and everything. All right. Authority is different;
because it does not have its own government. It is only a council, it is an “THE CHAIRMAN: Yeah, but we have to go over the suggested revision. I think this
organization of political subdivision, powers,‘no, which is not imbued with any was already approved before, but it was reconsidered in view of the proposals, set-
political power. up, to make the MMDA stronger. Okay, so if there is no objection to paragraph
“f”. . . And then next is paragraph “b,” under Section 6. “It shall approve metrowide
If you go over Section 6, where the powers and functions of the Metro Manila plans, programs and projects and issue ordinances or resolutions deemed
Development Authority, it is purely coordinative. And it provides here that the necessary by the MMDA to carry out the purposes of this Act.” Do you have the
council is policy-making. All right. powers? Does the MMDA . . . because that takes the form of a local government
Under the Constitution is a Metropolitan Authority with coordinative power. unit, a political subdivision.
Meaning to say, it coordinates all of the different basic services which have to be HON. [Feliciano] BELMONTE: Yes, I believe so, your Honor. When we say that it has
delivered to the constituency. All right. the policies, it’s very clear that those policies must be followed. Otherwise, what’s
There is now a problem. Each local government unit is given its respective . . . as a the use of empowering it to come out with policies. Now, the policies may be in the
political subdivision. Kalookan has its powers, as provided for and protected and form of a resolution or it may be in the form of a ordinance. The term “ordinance”
guaranteed by the Constitution. All right, the exercise. However, in the exercise of in this case really gives it more teeth, your honor. Otherwise, we are going to see a
that power, it might be deleterious and disadvantageous to other local government situation where you have the power to adopt the policy but you cannot really make
units. So, we are forming an authority where all of these will be members and then it stick as in the case now, and I think here is Chairman Bunye. I think he will agree
set up a policy in order that the basic services can be effectively coordinated. All that that is the case now. You’ve got the power to set a policy, the body wants to
right. follow your policy, then we say let’s call it an ordinance and see if they will not
follow it.
Of course, we cannot deny that the MMDA has to survive. We have to provide
some funds, resources. But it does not possess any political power. We do not elect THE CHAIRMAN: That’s very nice. I like that. However, there is a constitutional
the Governor. We do not have the power to tax. As a matter of fact, I was trying to impediment. You are making this MMDA a political subdivision. The creation of the
intimate to the author that it must have the power to sue and be sued because it MMDA would be subject to a plebiscite. That is what I’m trying to avoid. I’ve been
coordinates. All right. It coordinates practically all these basic services so that the trying to avoid this kind of predicament. Under the Constitution it states: if it is a
flow and the distribution of the basic services will be continuous. Like traffic, we political subdivision, once it is created it has to be subject to a plebiscite. I’m trying
cannot deny that. It’s before our eyes. Sewerage, flood control, water system, peace to make this as administrative. That’s why we place the Chairman as a cabinet rank.
and order, we cannot deny these. It’s right on our face. We have to look for a HON. BELMONTE: All right, Mr. Chairman, okay, what you are saying there is . . . .
solution. What would be the right solution? All right, we envision that there should
be a coordinating agency and it is called an authority. All right, if you do not want to THE CHAIRMAN: In setting up ordinances, it is a political exercise. Believe me.
call it an authority, it’s alright. We may call it a council or maybe a management
agency. HON. [Elias] LOPEZ: Mr. Chairman, it can be changed into issuances of rules and
regulations. That would be . . . it shall also be enforced.
x x x.”51
HON. BELMONTE: Okay, I will . . . . ordinances for the welfare of the community. It is the local government units,
acting through their respective legislative councils, that possess legislative power
HON. LOPEZ: And you can also say that violation of such rule, you impose a and police power. In the case at bar, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Makati City did
sanction. But you know, ordinance has a different legal connotation. not pass any ordinance or resolution ordering the opening of Neptune Street,
HON. BELMONTE: All right. I defer to that opinion, your Honor. hence, its proposed opening by petitioner MMDA is illegal and the respondent
Court of Appeals did not err in so ruling. We desist from ruling on the other issues
THE CHAIRMAN: So instead of ordinances, say rules and regulations. as they are unnecessary.

HON. BELMONTE: Or resolutions. Actually, they are actually considering resolutions We stress that this decision does not make light of the MMDA’s noble efforts to
now. solve the chaotic traffic condition in Metro Manila. Everyday, traffic jams and traffic
bottlenecks plague the metropolis. Even our once sprawling boulevards and
THE CHAIRMAN: Rules and resolutions. avenues are now crammed with cars while city streets are clogged with motorists
and pedestrians. Traffic has become a social malaise affecting our people’s
HON. BELMONTE: Rules, regulations and resolutions.”52
productivity and the efficient delivery of goods and services in the country. The
The draft of H.B. No. 14170/11116 was presented by the Committee to the House MMDA was created to put some order in the metropolitan transportation system
of Representatives. The explanatory note to the bill stated that the proposed but unfortunately the powers granted by its charter are limited. Its good intentions
MMDA is a “development authority” which is a “national agency, not a political cannot justify the opening for public use of a private street in a private subdivision
government unit.”53 The explanatory note was adopted as the sponsorship speech without any legal warrant. The promotion of the general welfare is not antithetical
of the Committee on Local Governments. No interpellations or debates were made to the preservation of the rule of law of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 39549 are
on the floor and no amendments introduced. The bill was approved on second affirmed.
reading on the same day it was presented.54
SO ORDERED.
When the bill was forwarded to the Senate, several amendments were made. These
amendments, however, did not affect the nature of the MMDA as originally
conceived in the House of Representatives.55

It is thus beyond doubt that the MMDA is not a local government unit or a public
corporation endowed with legislative power. It is not even a “special metropolitan
political subdivision” as contemplated in Section 11, Article X of the Constitution.
The creation of a “special metropolitan political subdivision” requires the approval
by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly
affected.56 R.A. No. 7924 was not submitted to the inhabitants of Metro Manila ina
plebiscite. The Chairman of the MMDA is not an official elected by the people, but
appointed by the President with the rank and privileges of a cabinet member. In
fact, part of his function is to perform such other duties as may be assigned to him
by the President,57 whereas in local government units, the President merely
exercises supervisory authority. This emphasizes the administrative character of the
MMDA.

Clearly then, the MMC under P.D. No. 824 is not the same entity as the MMDA
under R.A. No. 7924. Unlike the MMC, the MMDA has no power to enact
and we have long recognized this writ as proper for testing the constitutionality of
election laws, rules, and regulations.

Same; Delegation of Powers; There is neither an express prohibition nor an express


grant of authority in the Constitution for Congress to delegate to regional or local
legislative bodies the power to create local government units.—There is neither an
express prohibition nor an express grant of authority in the Constitution for
Congress to delegate to regional or local legislative bodies the power to create local
government units. However, under its plenary legislative powers, Congress can
delegate to local legislative bodies the power to create local government units,
subject to reasonable standards and provided no conflict arises with any provision
of the Constitution. In fact, Congress has delegated to provincial boards, and city
and municipal councils, the power to create barangays within their jurisdiction,
subject to compliance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code,
and the plebiscite requirement in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. However,
under the Local Government Code, “only x x x an Act of Congress” can create
provinces, cities or municipalities.

G.R. No. 177597. July 16, 2008.*


Same; Election Laws; Each City with a population of at least two hundred fifty
BAI SANDRA S. A. SEMA, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and DIDAGEN thousand, or each province, shall have at least have one representative in the
P. DILANGALEN, respondents. House of Representatives.—There is no provision in the Constitution that conflicts
with the delegation to regional legislative bodies of the power to create
G.R. No. 178628. July 16, 2008.* municipalities and barangays, provided Section 10, Article X of the Constitution is
followed. However, the creation of provinces and cities is another matter. Section 5
PERFECTO F. MARQUEZ, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
(3), Article VI of the Constitution provides, “Each city with a population of at least
Constitutional Law; Writs of Prohibition; The writ of prohibition is appropriate to two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one
test the constitutionality of election laws, rules and regulations.—The Writ of representative” in the House of Representatives. Similarly, Section 3 of the
Prohibition is Appropriate to Test the Constitutionality of Election Laws, Rules and Ordinance appended to the Constitution provides, “Any province that may
Regulations. The purpose of the writ of Certiorari is to correct grave abuse of hereafter be created, or any city whose population may hereafter increase to more
discretion by “any tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following
functions.” On the other hand, the writ of Mandamus will issue to compel a election to at least one Member x x x.”
tribunal, corporation, board, officer, or person to perform an act “which the law
Same; A province cannot be created without a legislative district because it will
specifically enjoins as a duty.” True, the COMELEC did not issue Resolution No. 7902
violate Section 5(3), Article VI of the Constitution as well as Section 3 of the
in the exercise of its judicial or quasi-judicial functions. Nor is there a law which
Ordinance appended to the Constitution.—A province cannot be created without a
specifically enjoins the COMELEC to exclude from canvassing the votes cast in
legislative district because it will violate Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution
Cotabato City for representative of “Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato
as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. For the same
City.” These, however, do not justify the outright dismissal of the petition in G.R.
reason, a city with a population of 250,000 or more cannot also be created without
No. 177597 because Sema also prayed for the issuance of the writ of Prohibition
a legislative district. Thus, the power to create a province, or a city with a
population of 250,000 or more, requires also the power to create a legislative legislative power x x x except on the following matters: x x x (k) National elections. x
district. Even the creation of a city with a population of less than 250,000 involves x x.” Since the ARMM Regional Assembly has no legislative power to enact laws
the power to create a legislative district because once the city’s population reaches relating to national elections, it cannot create a legislative district whose
250,000, the city automatically becomes entitled to one representative under representative is elected in national elections. Whenever Congress enacts a law
Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance creating a legislative district, the first representative is always elected in the “next
appended to the Constitution. Thus, the power to create a province or city national elections” from the effectivity of the law.
inherently involves the power to create a legislative district.
Same; Same; The power to create or reapportion legislative districts cannot be
Same; Congress; Delegation of Powers; The power to reapportion legislative delegated by Congress but must be exercised by Congress itself.—Neither the
districts necessarily includes the power to create legislative districts out of existing framers of the 1987 Constitution in adopting the provisions in Article X on regional
ones.—Section 5(1), Article VI of the Constitution vests in Congress the power to autonomy, nor Congress in enacting RA 9054, envisioned or intended these
increase, through a law, the allowable membership in the House of disastrous consequences that certainly would wreck the tri-branch system of
Representatives. Section 5 (4) empowers Congress to reapportion legislative government under our Constitution. Clearly, the power to create or reapportion
districts. The power to reapportion legislative districts necessarily includes the legislative districts cannot be delegated by Congress but must be exercised by
power to create legislative districts out of existing ones. Congress exercises these Congress itself. Even the ARMM Regional Assembly recognizes this.
powers through a law that Congress itself enacts, and not through a law that
regional or local legislative bodies enact. The allowable membership of the House Same; Local Autonomy; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); It is
of Representatives can be increased, and new legislative districts of Congress can axiomatic that organic acts of autonomous regions cannot prevail over the
be created, only through a national law passed by Congress. In Montejo v. constitution.—It is axiomatic that organic acts of autonomous regions cannot
COMELEC, 242 SCRA 415 (1995), we held that the “power of redistricting x x x is prevail over the Constitution. Section 20, Article X of the Constitution expressly
traditionally regarded as part of the power (of Congress) to make laws,” and thus is provides that the legislative powers of regional assemblies are limited “[w]ithin its
vested exclusively in Congress. territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national
laws, x x x.” The Preamble of the ARMM Organic Act (RA 9054) itself states that the
Same; Same; An inferior legislative body, created by a superior legislative body, ARMM Government is established “within the framework of the Constitution.” This
cannot change the membership of the superior legislative body.—This textual follows Section 15, Article X of the Constitution which mandates that the ARMM
commitment to Congress of the exclusive power to create or reapportion legislative “shall be created x x x within the framework of this Constitution and the national
districts is logical. Congress is a national legislature and any increase in its allowable sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”
membership or in its incumbent membership through the creation of legislative
districts must be embodied in a national law. Only Congress can enact such a law. It Same; Same; The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional
would be anomalous for regional or local legislative bodies to create or reapportion Assembly cannot create a province without a legislative district because the
legislative districts for a national legislature like Congress. An inferior legislative Constitution mandates that every province shall have a legislative district.—We rule
body, created by a superior legislative body, cannot change the membership of the that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional
superior legislative body. Assembly the power to create provinces and cities, is void for being contrary to
Section 5 of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as well as
Same; Same; Nothing in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution authorizes Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Only Congress can create
autonomous regions, expressly or impliedly, to create or reapportion legislative provinces and cities because the creation of provinces and cities necessarily
districts for Congress.—Nothing in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution includes the creation of legislative districts, a power only Congress can exercise
authorizes autonomous regions, expressly or impliedly, to create or reapportion under Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance
legislative districts for Congress. On the other hand, Section 3, Article IV of RA 9054 appended to the Constitution. The ARMM Regional Assembly cannot create a
amending the ARMM Organic Act, provides, “The Regional Assembly may exercise province without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that every
province shall have a legislative district. Moreover, the ARMM Regional Assembly Resolution, which after all, reaffirms the very legislative district whose seat in
cannot enact a law creating a national office like the office of a district Congress she had sought to be elected to. Her standing to raise the present petition
representative of Congress because the legislative powers of the ARMM Regional is materially affected by her express consent and active campaign for election from
Assembly operate only within its territorial jurisdiction as provided in Section 20, the legislative district which she now seeks to invalidate. A party challenging the
Article X of the Constitution. Thus, we rule that MMA Act 201, enacted by the constitutionality of a law, act or statute must show “not only that the law is invalid,
ARMM Regional Assembly and creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, is void. but also that he or she has sustained or is in immediate, or imminent danger of
sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement,” that party has been or
Same; Republic Act No. 9054; Section 19, Article VI of Republic Act No. 9054 is about to be, denied some right or privilege to which he or she is lawfully entitled.
declared unconstitutional insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly of the Sema’s prior avowal that she was running for the Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the power to create provinces and cities. City legislative district, and her campaign for election to that district, belie the
—Wherefore, we declare Section 19, Article VI of Republic Act No. 9054 existence of injury on her part caused by the COMELEC resolution that affirmed
UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly of the that very legislative district.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the power to create provinces and cities.
Thus, we declare VOID Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 creating the Same; Commission on Elections (COMELEC); The COMELEC does not have the
Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Consequently, we rule that COMELEC Resolution No. requisite power to call elections, as the same is part of the plenary legislative
7902 is VALID. power.—Marquez does not have a valid cause of action before this Court. His prayer
is to compel the COMELEC to provide for new congressional elections for Cotabato
City.The relief sought does not lie simply because Rep. Dilangalen, by virtue of his
TINGA,  J., Dissenting and Concurring Opinion: electoral victory, lawfully represents the City in addition to the Province of Shariff
Kabunsuan. From another perspective, the COMELEC does not have the requisite
Courts; Appeals; It is cardinal that the Court’s power of judicial review may be power to call elections, as the same is part of the plenary legislative power. Only
exercised in constitutional cases only if all the following requisites are complied Congress, which was not impleaded as a party to Marquez’s petition, has the power
with: 1) the existence of an actual and appropriate case or controversy; 2) a to set congressional elections only for Cotabato City, if ever. Even assuming that
personal and substantial interest of the party raising the constitutional question; 3) Congress was impleaded, it would be improper for this Court to compel Congress
the exercise of judicial review is pleaded at the earliest opportunity; and 4) the by judicial fiat to pass a law or resolution for the holding of such elections.
constitutional question is the lis mota of the case.—It is clear that both petitioners
rely on constitutional issues in support of their petitions as they posit that under Constitutional Law; Delegation of Powers; A logical corollary to the doctrine of
the Constitution Shariff Kabunsuan is entitled to its own separate legislative district. separation of powers is the principle of non-delegation of powers, as expressed in
It is cardinal that the Court’s power of judicial review may be exercised in the Latin maxim potestas delegata non delegare potest (what has been delegated
constitutional cases only if all the following requisites are complied with, namely: cannot be delegated).—The
(1) the existence of an actual and appropriate case or controversy; (2) a personal Constitution expressly vests legislative power in the Congress of the Philippines,
and substantial interest of the party raising the constitutional question; (3) the consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Traditionally, the delegation
exercise of judicial review is pleaded at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the of Congress of its legislative powers had been frowned upon. “A logical corollary to
constitutional question is the lis mota of the case. the doctrine of separation of powers is the principle of non-delegation of powers,
Election Laws; Sema’s prior avowal that she was running for the Shariff Kabunsuan as expressed in the Latin maxim potestas delegata non delegare potest (what has
with Cotabato City legislative district, and her campaign for election to that district, been delegated cannot be delegated). This is based on the ethical principle that
belie the existence of injury on her part caused by the COMELEC resolution that such delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by
affirmed that very legislative district.—It would indeed be difficult to assess injury the delegate through the instrumentality of his own judgment and not through the
for purposes of locus standi on the part of Sema by reason of the assailed COMELEC intervening mind of another.”
Same; Same; The strict application of the non-delegation doctrine has in recent special elections to fill in congressional vacancies; the authorization of the
times, been relaxed, if not minimized altogether, particularly in the context of President to exercise emergency powers; the system for initiative and referendum;
regulatory jurisdiction of administrative agencies.—The strict application of the the salaries of the President and Vice-President; the creation and allocation of
non-delegation doctrine has, in recent times, been relaxed, if not minimized jurisdiction of lower courts; and on many other matters of grave import.
altogether, particularly in the context of regulatory jurisdiction of administrative
agencies. In every industrialized nation, administrative agencies, which are Same; Same; As to those powers which would normally fall within the plenary
generally part of the executive branch, have been granted considerable lawmaking legislative power, the Constitution has decided to doubly emphasize that it is the
power. “Given the volume and variety of interactions in today’s society, it is Congress which is so empowered to perform such tasks.—May these specified
doubtful if the legislature can promulgate laws that will deal adequately with and functions be delegated by Congress to another body? These specific functions are
respond promptly to the minutiae of everyday life. Hence, the need to delegate to non-delegable, for they are textually committed by the Constitution to Congress.
administrative bodies—the principal agencies tasked to execute laws in their Perhaps it is possible to segregate these particular functions to those which would,
specialized fields—the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement even absent constitutional definition, anyway fall within the plenary legislative
a given statute and effectuate its policies.” In the context of delegation of legislative power, and those which are not plenary in nature but were especially designated to
powers to local governments, a noted authority on the subject has this to say: The Congress by the Constitution. Still, in either case, only Congress, and no other body,
state legislative power—that is, the exercise of the policy-making judgment and can carry out that function. As to those powers which would normally fall within
discretion on state matters that state constitutions vest and recognize in the the plenary legislative power, the Constitution has decided to doubly emphasize
legislature—cannot be delegated to some other person or body but must rest with that it is the Congress which is so empowered to perform such tasks. With respect
the legislature itself. Thus, the legislature cannot delegate to a commission the to the non-plenary functions assigned to Congress, it is clear that the assignment
power to determine the form of government, powers and functions of proposed implies the delegation by the Constitution to Congress of specific, wholly original
municipalities since these matters require legislative judgment. But the details of functions.
organization of its own government can be left to a municipality, limited only by Same; Same; Local Autonomy; The guarantee of local autonomy is actualized
general state law; and such basic state powers as the police power, taxing power, through a local government code that delineates the structure and powers of local
and power of eminent domain can be, and almost always are, delegated to local governments, and through constitutional measures that entitle local government
governments for their use for local purposes. The rule against delegation of state units to generate their own revenue stream and assure the same to their fair share
legislative authority is no barrier to the delegation of powers of local self in the national internal revenue.—Section 2, Article X guarantees that the territorial
government to local units. x x x and political subdivisions in the Philippines shall enjoy local autonomy. The
Same; Same; Nothwithstanding the exceptions that have been carved to the rule of guarantee of local autonomy is actualized through a local government code that
non-delegation, it bears notice that while our Constitution broadly endows delineates the structure and powers of local governments, and through
legislative powers to Congress it also specifically conditions the emergence of constitutional measures that entitle local government units to generate their own
certain rights, duties and obligations upon the enactment of a law oriented towards revenue stream and assure the same to their fair share in the national internal
such constitutional predicate.—Notwithstanding the exceptions that have been revenue. Local government rule, in constitutional contemplation, is a live being that
carved to the rule of non-delegation, it bears notice that while our Constitution exists to counterbalance the rule of the national government, and is not a mere
broadly endows legislative powers to Congress it also specifically conditions the palliative established in the Constitution to soothe the people with the illusion of
emergence of certain rights, duties and obligations upon the enactment of a law having a more direct say in their governance.
oriented towards such constitutional predicate. These include the prohibition of Same; Local Autonomy; The idea behind the constitutional provisions for
political dynasties as may be defined by law, the reasonable conditions prescribed autonomous regions is to allow the separate development of peoples with
by law relating to full public disclosure of all the State’s transactions involving public distinctive cultures and traditions.—In Disomangcop v. Datumanong, 444 SCRA 203
interest; the manner by which Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired; the (2004), the Court explained at length the vital constitutional purposes of local
date of regular elections for members of Congress; the manner of conduct of
autonomy: x x x According to Commissioner Jose Nolledo, Chairman of the Same; Same; Same; Republic Act 9054; Attuned with enhanced local government
Committee which drafted the provisions, it “is an indictment against the status quo rule, Congress had, through Rep. Act No. 9054, taken the bold step of delegating to
of a unitary system that, to my mind, has ineluctably tied the hands of progress in a local legislative assembly the power to create provinces, albeit prudently
our country . . . our varying regional characteristics are factors to capitalize on to withholding any ability to create legislative districts as well.—It bears
attain national strength through decentralization.” The idea behind the reemphasizing that the Constitution also actualizes a preference for local
Constitutional provisions for autonomous regions is to allow the separate government rule, and thusly provides: The Congress shall enact a local government
development of peoples with distinctive cultures and traditions. These cultures, as code which shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government
a matter of right, must be allowed to flourish. structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms
of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government
Same; Same; On the other hand, the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the
Mindanao and the Cordilleras, which is peculiar to the 1987 Constitution, qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and
contemplates the grant of political autonomy and not just administrative autonomy functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the
to these regions.—On the other hand, the creation of autonomous regions in organization and operation of the local units. Attuned with enhanced local
Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras, which is peculiar to the 1987 Constitution, government rule, Congress had, through Rep. Act No. 9054, taken the bold step of
contemplates the grant of political autonomy and not just administrative autonomy delegating to a local legislative assembly the power to create provinces, albeit
to these regions. Thus, the provision in the Constitution for an autonomous prudently withholding any ability to create legislative districts as well.
regional government with a basic structure consisting of an executive department
and a legislative assembly and special courts with personal, family and property law Same; Same; Republic Act No. 9054; The subsequent passage of Rep. Act No. 9054
jurisdiction in each of the autonomous regions [Art. X, sec. 18]. granted to the Regional Assembly the power, function and responsibility to create
provinces and other local government units which had been exercised by the
Same; Same; It should be emphasized that local autonomy cannot be in denigration National Government.—Section 17, Article X states that “[a]ll powers, functions,
of the Constitution.—Unfortunately, the majority gives short shrift to the and responsibilities not granted by this Constitution or by law to the autonomous
considerations of local autonomy, even as such paradigm partakes of a regions shall be vested in the National Government.” The original Organic Act for
constitutional mandate. If anything, these provisions should dissuade against a Muslim Mindanao did not grant to the regional government the power to create
reflexive dismissal of the provisions of the Organic Acts. It should be emphasized provinces, thus at that point, such power was properly exercised by the National
that local autonomy cannot be in denigration of the Constitution. It is repeatedly Government. But the subsequent passage of Rep. Act No. 9054 granted to the
emphasized within Article X that the grant of local autonomy and the subsequent Regional Assembly the power, function and responsibility to create provinces and
exercise of powers by the autonomous government must remain within the other local government units which had been exercised by the National
confines of the Constitution. At the same time, if there is no constitutional bar Government.
against the exercise of the powers of government by the autonomous government
in Muslim Mindanao, particularly by the Regional Assembly, then there is no basis Same; Republic Act No. 9054; It bears noting that there is no contention presented
to thwart the constitutional design by denying such powers to that body. thus far that the creation of Shariff Kabunsuan was not in accordance with the
criteria established in the Local Government Code (LGC), thus this aspect of
Same; Same; Delegations of Powers; Considering the constitutional mandate of unconstitutionality of Rep. Act No. 9054 may not be material to the petitions at bar.
local autonomy for Muslim Mindanao, it can be said that such delegation is in —It bears noting that there is no contention presented thus far that the creation of
furtherance of the constitutional design.—May such power be delegated by Shariff Kabunsuan was not in accordance with the criteria established in the LGC,
Congress to a local legislative body such as the Regional Assembly? Certainly, thus this aspect of unconstitutionality of Rep. Act No. 9054 may not be material to
nothing in the Constitution bars Congress from doing so. In fact, considering the the petitions at bar.
constitutional mandate of local autonomy for Muslim Mindanao, it can be said that
such delegation is in furtherance of the constitutional design.
Same; Congress; Congress does not have any express or plenary legislative power to Assembly. If we were to rule that Congress may delegate the power to increase the
create legislative districts, except by reapportionment.—How exactly does a composition of the House of Representatives, there would be no impediment for us
legislative district come into being? In theory, Congress does not have any express to similarly rule that those other specific functions tasked by the Constitution to
or plenary legislative power to create legislative districts, except by Congress may be delegated as well. To repeat, these include gravely important
reapportionment. Under the Constitution, such reapportionment occurs within functions as the enactment of a law defining political dynasties; the enactment of
three years following the return of the census, but this Court has likewise reasonable conditions relating to full public disclosure of all the State’s transactions
recognized that reapportionment can also be made through a special law, such as in involving public interest; the manner by which Philippine citizenship may be lost or
the charter of a new city. Still, even in exercising this limited power through the reacquired; the date of regular elections for members of Congress; the provision for
constitutionally mandated reapportionment, Congress cannot substitute its own the manner of conduct of special elections to fill in congressional vacancies; the
discretion for the standards set forth in Section 5, Article VI. And should general authorization of the President to exercise emergency powers; the prescription of a
reapportionment made by Congress violate the parameters set forth by the system for initiative and referendum; the salaries of the President and Vice-
Constitution, such act may be invalidated by the Court, as it did in Macias v. President; and the creation and allocation of jurisdiction of lower courts.
COMELEC, 3 SCRA 1 (1961).

Same; Same; The Constitution clearly provided that the House of Representatives
shall be composed of not more than 250 members unless otherwise provided by Same; Republic Act No. 9054; Even as Section 19 of Rep. Act 9054 constitutionally
law.—The Court has previously recognized that such law increasing the authorizes the Regional Assembly to create provinces, there are legal limitations
membership of the House of Representatives need not be one specifically devoted that constrict the discretion of that body to exercise such power.—Even as Section
for that purpose alone, but it may be one that creates a province or charters a city 19 of Rep. Act No. 9054 constitutionally authorizes the Regional Assembly to create
with a population of more than 250,000. In Tobias v. Abalos, 239 SCRA 106 (1994), provinces, there are legal limitations that constrict the discretion of that body to
the Court pronounced that the law converting Mandaluyong into a city could exercise such power. I had earlier identified as unconstitutional the discretion of the
likewise serve the purpose of increasing the composition of the House of Regional Assembly to create local government units based on a lower standard than
Representatives: As to the contention that the assailed law violates the present that prescribed under the LGC. Another clear limitation is that the creation of
limit on the number of representatives as set forth in the Constitution, a reading of provinces cannot be authorized without the ratification through a plebiscite by the
the applicable provision, Article VI, Section 5 (1), as aforequoted, shows that the people affected by such act, a requirement imposed by the Organic Act itself and by
present limit of 250 members is not absolute. The Constitution clearly provides that Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
the House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than 250 members, CARPIO, J.:
“unless otherwise provided by law.” The inescapable import of the latter clause is
that the present composition of Congress may be increased, if Congress itself so The Case
mandates through a legislative enactment. Therefore, the increase in congressional
representation mandated by R.A. No. 7675 is not unconstitutional. These consolidated petitions1 seek to annul Resolution No. 7902, dated 10 May
2007, of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) treating Cotabato City as part of
Same; Same; Delegation of Powers; The power to increase the composition of the the legislative district of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan.2
House of Representatives is restricted by the Constitution to a law passed by
Congress, which may not delegate such law-making power to the Regional The Facts
Assembly.—I have already pointed out that when the Constitution specifically
The Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution apportioned two legislative
designates a particular function to Congress, only Congress may exercise such
districts for the Province of Maguindanao. The first legislative district consists of
function, as the same is non-delegable. The power to increase the composition of
Cotabato City and eight municipalities.3 Maguindanao forms part of the
the House of Representatives is restricted by the Constitution to a law passed by
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), created under its Organic Act,
Congress, which may not delegate such law-making power to the Regional
Republic Act No. 6734 (RA 6734), as amended by Republic Act No. 9054 (RA 9054).4
Although under the Ordinance, Cotabato City forms part of Maguindanao’s first legislative district. Cotabato City, although part of Maguindanao’s first legislative
legislative district, it is not part of the ARMM but of Region XII, having voted against district, is not part of the Province of Maguindanao.
its inclusion in the ARMM in the plebiscite held in November 1989.
The voters of Maguindanao ratified Shariff Kabunsuan’s creation in a plebiscite held
On 28 August 2006, the ARMM’s legislature, the ARMM Regional Assembly, on 29 October 2006.
exercising its power to create provinces under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054,5
enacted Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 (MMA Act 201) creating the On 6 February 2007, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City passed
Province of Shariff Kabunsuan composed of the eight municipalities in the first Resolution No. 3999 requesting the COMELEC to “clarify the status of Cotabato City
district of Maguindanao. MMA Act 201 provides: in view of the conversion of the First District of Maguindanao into a regular
province” under MMA Act 201.
“Section 1. The Municipalities of Barira, Buldon, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan,
Matanog, Parang, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Upi are hereby separated In answer to Cotabato City’s query, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 07-0407 on
from the Province of Maguindanao and constituted into a distinct and independent 6 March 2007 “maintaining the status quo with Cotabato City as part of Shariff
province, which is hereby created, to be known as the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of Maguindanao.” Resolution No. 07-
Kabunsuan. 0407, which adopted the recommendation of the COMELEC’s Law Department
under a Memorandum dated 27 February 2007,7 provides in pertinent parts:
xxxx
“Considering the foregoing, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby resolves, to
Sec. 5. The corporate existence of this province shall commence upon the adopt the recommendation of the Law Department that pending the enactment of
appointment by the Regional Governor or election of the governor and majority of the appropriate law by Congress, to maintain the status quo with Cotabato City as
the regular members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of Maguindanao.”
(Emphasis supplied)
The incumbent elective provincial officials of the Province of Maguindanao shall
continue to serve their unexpired terms in the province that they will choose or However, in preparation for the 14 May 2007 elections, the COMELEC promulgated
where they are residents: Provided, that where an elective position in both on 29 March 2007 Resolution No. 7845 stating that Maguindanao’s first legislative
provinces becomes vacant as a consequence of the creation of the Province of district is composed only of Cotabato City because of the enactment of MMA Act
Shariff Kabunsuan, all incumbent elective provincial officials shall have preference 201.8
for appointment to a higher elective vacant position and for the time being be
appointed by the Regional Governor, and shall hold office until their successors On 10 May 2007, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 7902, subject of these
shall have been elected and qualified in the next local elections; Provided, further, petitions, amending Resolution No. 07-0407 by renaming the legislative district in
that they shall continue to receive the salaries they are receiving at the time of the question as “Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City (formerly First District
approval of this Act until the new readjustment of salaries in accordance with law. of Maguindanao with Cotabato City).”9
Provided, furthermore, that there shall be no diminution in the number of the In G.R. No. 177597, Sema, who was a candidate in the 14 May 2007 elections for
members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the mother province. Representative of “Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City,” prayed for the
Except as may be provided by national law, the existing legislative district, which nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 and the exclusion from canvassing of
includes Cotabato as a part thereof, shall remain.” the votes cast in Cotabato City for that office. Sema contended that Shariff
Kabunsuan is entitled to one representative in Congress under Section 5 (3), Article
Later, three new municipalities6 were carved out of the original nine municipalities VI of the Constitution10 and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the
constituting Shariff Kabunsuan, bringing its total number of municipalities to 11. Constitution.11 Thus, Sema asserted that the COMELEC acted without or in excess
Thus, what was left of Maguindanao were the municipalities constituting its second of its jurisdiction in issuing Resolution No. 7902 which maintained the status quo in
Maguindanao’s first legislative district despite the COMELEC’s earlier directive in
Resolution No. 7845 designating Cotabato City as the lone component of corresponding representative district comes into existence neither by authority of
Maguindanao’s reapportioned first legislative district.12 Sema further claimed that that statute—which cannot provide otherwise—nor by apportionment, but by
in issuing Resolution No. 7902, the COMELEC usurped Congress’ power to create or operation of the Constitution, without a reapportionment”; (b) Section 462 of
reapportion legislative districts. Republic Act No. 7160 (RA 7160) “affirms” the apportionment of a legislative
district incident to the creation of a province; and (c) Section 5 (3), Article VI of the
In its Comment, the COMELEC, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution mandate
chose not to reach the merits of the case and merely contended that (1) Sema the apportionment of a legislative district in newly created provinces.
wrongly availed of the writ of certiorari to nullify COMELEC Resolution No. 7902
because the COMELEC issued the same in the exercise of its administrative, not (2) The COMELEC, again represented by the OSG, apparently abandoned its
quasi-judicial, power and (2) Sema’s prayer for the writ of prohibition in G.R. No. earlier stance on the propriety of issuing Resolution Nos. 07-0407 and 7902 and
177597 became moot with the proclamation of respondent Didagen P. Dilangalen joined causes with Sema, contending that Section 5 (3), Article VI of the
(respondent Dilangalen) on 1 June 2007 as representative of the legislative district Constitution is “self-executing.” Thus, every new province created by the ARMM
of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City. Regional Assembly is ipso facto entitled to one representative in the House of
Representatives even in the absence of a national law; and
In his Comment, respondent Dilangalen countered that Sema is estopped from
questioning COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 because in her certificate of candidacy (3) Respondent Dilangalen answered the issue in the negative on the following
filed on 29 March 2007, Sema indicated that she was seeking election as grounds: (a) the “province” contemplated in Section 5 (3), Article VI of the
representative of “Shariff Kabunsuan including Cotabato City.” Respondent Constitution is one that is created by an act of Congress taking into account the
Dilangalen added that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is constitutional because it provisions in RA 7160 on the creation of provinces; (b) Section 3, Article IV of RA
did not apportion a legislative district for Shariff Kabunsuan or reapportion the 9054 withheld from the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to enact measures
legislative districts in Maguindanao but merely renamed Maguindanao’s first relating to national elections, which encompasses the apportionment of legislative
legislative district. Respondent Dilangalen further claimed that the COMELEC could districts for members of the House of Representatives; (c) recognizing a legislative
not reapportion Maguindanao’s first legislative district to make Cotabato City its district in every province the ARMM Regional Assembly creates will lead to the
sole component unit as the power to reapportion legislative districts lies exclusively disproportionate representation of the ARMM in the House of Representatives as
with Congress, not to mention that Cotabato City does not meet the minimum the Regional Assembly can create provinces without regard to the requirements in
population requirement under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution for the Section 461 of RA 7160; and (d) Cotabato City, which has a population of less than
creation of a legislative district within a city.13 250,000, is not entitled to a representative in the House of Representatives.

Sema filed a Consolidated Reply controverting the matters raised in respondents’ On 27 November 2007, the Court heard the parties in G.R. No. 177597 in oral
Comments and reiterating her claim that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in issuing arguments on the following issues: (1) whether Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054,
Resolution No. 7902. delegating to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces, is
constitutional; and (2) if in the affirmative, whether a province created under
In the Resolution of 4 September 2007, the Court required the parties in G.R. No. Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of
177597 to comment on the issue of whether a province created by the ARMM Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for
Regional Assembly under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one such new province.15
representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law
creating a legislative district for such new province. The parties submitted their In compliance with the Resolution dated 27 November 2007, the parties in G.R. No.
compliance as follows: 177597 filed their respective Memoranda on the issues raised in the oral
arguments.16 On the question of the constitutionality of Section 19, Article VI of RA
(1) Sema answered the issue in the affirmative on the following grounds: (a) the 9054, the parties in G.R. No. 177597 adopted the following positions:
Court in Felwa v. Salas14 stated that “when a province is created by statute, the
(1) Sema contended that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is constitutional (a) as issuing Resolution No. 7902 depriving the voters of Cotabato City of a
a valid delegation by Congress to the ARMM of the power to create provinces representative in the House of Representatives. In its Comment to the petition in
under Section 20 (9), Article X of the Constitution granting to the autonomous G.R. No. 178628, the COMELEC, through the OSG, maintained the validity of
regions, through their organic acts, legislative powers over “other matters as may COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 as a temporary measure pending the enactment by
be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the Congress of the “appropriate law.”
region” and (b) as an amendment to Section 6 of RA 7160.17 However, Sema
concedes that, if taken literally, the grant in Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 to the
ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to “prescribe standards lower than those The Issues
mandated” in RA 7160 in the creation of provinces contravenes Section 10, Article X
of the Constitution.18 Thus, Sema proposed that Section 19 “should be construed The petitions raise the following issues:
as prohibiting the Regional Assembly from prescribing standards x x x that do not
comply with the minimum criteria” under RA 7160.19 I. In G.R. No. 177597:

(2) Respondent Dilangalen contended that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is (A) Preliminarily—


unconstitutional on the following grounds: (a) the power to create provinces was
(1) whether the writs of Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus are proper to test
not among those granted to the autonomous regions under Section 20, Article X of
the constitutionality of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902; and
the Constitution and (b) the grant under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 to the
ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to prescribe standards lower than those (2) whether the proclamation of respondent Dilangalen as representative of
mandated in Section 461 of RA 7160 on the creation of provinces contravenes Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City mooted the petition in G.R. No.
Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause; and 177597.

(3) The COMELEC, through the OSG, joined causes with respondent Dilangalen (B) On the merits—
(thus effectively abandoning the position the COMELEC adopted in its Compliance
with the Resolution of 4 September 2007) and contended that Section 19, Article VI (1) whether Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, delegating to the ARMM Regional
of RA 9054 is unconstitutional because (a) it contravenes Section 10 and Section Assembly the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, is
6,20 Article X of the Constitution and (b) the power to create provinces was constitutional; and
withheld from the autonomous regions under Section 20, Article X of the
(2) if in the affirmative, whether a province created by the ARMM Regional
Constitution.
Assembly under MMA Act 201 pursuant to Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is
On the question of whether a province created under Section 19, Article VI of RA entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a
9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without national law creating a legislative district for such province.
need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province, Sema
II. In G.R No. 177597 and G.R No. 178628, whether COMELEC Resolution No. 7902
and respondent Dilangalen reiterated in their Memoranda the positions they
is valid for maintaining the status quo in the first legislative district of Maguindanao
adopted in their Compliance with the Resolution of 4 September 2007. The
(as “Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City [formerly First District of
COMELEC deemed it unnecessary to submit its position on this issue considering its
Maguindanao with Cotabato City]”), despite the creation of the Province of Shariff
stance that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional.
Kabunsuan out of such district (excluding Cotabato City).
The pendency of the petition in G.R. No. 178628 was disclosed during the oral
The Ruling of the Court
arguments on 27 November 2007. Thus, in the Resolution of 19 February 2008, the
Court ordered G.R. No. 178628 consolidated with G.R. No. 177597. The petition in The petitions have no merit. We rule that (1) Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is
G.R. No. 178628 echoed Sema’s contention that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in unconstitutional insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to
create provinces and cities; (2) MMA Act 201 creating the Province of Shariff not to proceed with the resolution of the novel issues raised here. The Court’s
Kabunsuan is void; and (3) COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is valid. ruling in these petitions affects not only the recently concluded elections but also
all the other succeeding elections for the office in question, as well as the power of
On the Preliminary Matters the ARMM Regional Assembly to create in the future additional provinces.

On the Main Issues

Whether the ARMM Regional Assembly


The Writ of Prohibition is Appropriate Can Create the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan
to Test the Constitutionality of

Election Laws, Rules and Regulations The creation of local government units is governed by Section 10, Article X of the
The purpose of the writ of Certiorari is to correct grave abuse of discretion by “any Constitution, which provides:
tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions.”21 On the “Sec. 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided,
other hand, the writ of Mandamus will issue to compel a tribunal, corporation, merged, abolished or its boundary substantially altered except in accordance with
board, officer, or person to perform an act “which the law specifically enjoins as a the criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a
duty.”22 True, the COMELEC did not issue Resolution No. 7902 in the exercise of its majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.”
judicial or quasi-judicial functions.23 Nor is there a law which specifically enjoins
the COMELEC to exclude from canvassing the votes cast in Cotabato City for Thus, the creation of any of the four local government units—province, city,
representative of “Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City.” These, however, municipality or barangay—must comply with three conditions. First, the creation of
do not justify the outright dismissal of the petition in G.R. No. 177597 because a local government unit must follow the criteria fixed in the Local Government
Sema also prayed for the issuance of the writ of Prohibition and we have long Code. Second, such creation must not conflict with any provision of the
recognized this writ as proper for testing the constitutionality of election laws, Constitution. Third, there must be a plebiscite in the political units affected.
rules, and regulations.24
There is neither an express prohibition nor an express grant of authority in the
Respondent Dilangalen’s Proclamation Constitution for Congress to delegate to regional or local legislative bodies the
power to create local government units. However, under its plenary legislative
Does Not Moot the Petition powers, Congress can delegate to local legislative bodies the power to create local
There is also no merit in the claim that respondent Dilangalen’s proclamation as government units, subject to reasonable standards and provided no conflict arises
winner in the 14 May 2007 elections for representative of “Shariff Kabunsuan with any provision of the Constitution. In fact, Congress has delegated to provincial
Province with Cotabato City” mooted this petition. This case does not concern boards, and city and municipal councils, the power to create barangays within their
respondent Dilangalen’s election. Rather, it involves an inquiry into the validity of jurisdiction,25 subject to compliance with the criteria established in the Local
COMELEC Resolution No. 7902, as well as the constitutionality of MMA Act 201 and Government Code, and the plebiscite requirement in Section 10, Article X of the
Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054. Admittedly, the outcome of this petition, one way Constitution. However, under the Local Government Code, “only x x x an Act of
or another, determines whether the votes cast in Cotabato City for representative Congress” can create provinces, cities or municipalities.26
of the district of “Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City” will be included in Under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, Congress delegated to the ARMM Regional
the canvassing of ballots. However, this incidental consequence is no reason for us Assembly the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays within
the ARMM. Congress made the delegation under its plenary legislative powers Only by an Act of Congress
because the power to create local government units is not one of the express
legislative powers granted by the Constitution to regional legislative bodies.27 In Under the present Constitution, as well as in past28 Constitutions, the power to
the present case, the question arises whether the delegation to the ARMM increase the allowable membership in the House of Representatives, and to
Regional Assembly of the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities and reapportion legislative districts, is vested exclusively in Congress. Section 5, Article
barangays conflicts with any provision of the Constitution. VI of the Constitution provides:

There is no provision in the Constitution that conflicts with the delegation to “SECTION 5. (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more
regional legislative bodies of the power to create municipalities and barangays, than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be
provided Section 10, Article X of the Constitution is followed. However, the creation elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the
of provinces and cities is another matter. Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective
provides, “Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as
each province, shall have at least one representative” in the House of provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national,
Representatives. Similarly, Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.
provides, “Any province that may hereafter be created, or any city whose xxxx
population may hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall
be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one Member x x x.” (3) Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous,
compact, and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of at least two hundred
Clearly, a province cannot be created without a legislative district because it will fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative.
violate Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution as well as Section 3 of the
Ordinance appended to the Constitution. For the same reason, a city with a (4) Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall
population of 250,000 or more cannot also be created without a legislative district. make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in
Thus, the power to create a province, or a city with a population of 250,000 or this section.” (Emphasis supplied)
more, requires also the power to create a legislative district. Even the creation of a
city with a population of less than 250,000 involves the power to create a legislative Section 5 (1), Article VI of the Constitution vests in Congress the power to increase,
district because once the city’s population reaches 250,000, the city automatically through a law, the allowable membership in the House of Representatives. Section
becomes entitled to one representative under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the 5 (4) empowers Congress to reapportion legislative districts. The power to
Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Thus, reapportion legislative districts necessarily includes the power to create legislative
the power to create a province or city inherently involves the power to create a districts out of existing ones. Congress exercises these powers through a law that
legislative district. Congress itself enacts, and not through a law that regional or local legislative bodies
enact. The allowable membership of the House of Representatives can be
For Congress to delegate validly the power to create a province or city, it must also increased, and new legislative districts of Congress can be created, only through a
validly delegate at the same time the power to create a legislative district. The national law passed by Congress. In Montejo v. COMELEC,29 we held that the
threshold issue then is, can Congress validly delegate to the ARMM Regional “power of redistricting x x x is traditionally regarded as part of the power (of
Assembly the power to create legislative districts for the House of Representatives? Congress) to make laws,” and thus is vested exclusively in Congress.
The answer is in the negative.
This textual commitment to Congress of the exclusive power to create or
Legislative Districts are Created or Reapportioned reapportion legislative districts is logical. Congress is a national legislature and any
increase in its allowable membership or in its incumbent membership through the
creation of legislative districts must be embodied in a national law. Only Congress national elections. Whenever Congress enacts a law creating a legislative district,
can enact such a law. It would be anomalous for regional or local legislative bodies the first representative is always elected in the “next national elections” from the
to create or reapportion legislative districts for a national legislature like Congress. effectivity of the law.30
An inferior legislative body, created by a superior legislative body, cannot change
the membership of the superior legislative body. Indeed, the office of a legislative district representative to Congress is a national
office, and its occupant, a Member of the House of Representatives, is a national
official.31 It would be incongruous for a regional legislative body like the ARMM
Regional Assembly to create a national office when its legislative powers extend
The creation of the ARMM, and the grant of legislative powers to its Regional only to its regional territory. The office of a district representative is maintained by
Assembly under its organic act, did not divest Congress of its exclusive authority to national funds and the salary of its occupant is paid out of national funds. It is a
create legislative districts. This is clear from the Constitution and the ARMM self-evident inherent limitation on the legislative powers of every local or regional
Organic Act, as amended. Thus, Section 20, Article X of the Constitution provides: legislative body that it can only create local or regional offices, respectively, and it
“SECTION 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of can never create a national office.
this Constitution and national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall To allow the ARMM Regional Assembly to create a national office is to allow its
provide for legislative powers over: legislative powers to operate outside the ARMM’s territorial jurisdiction. This
(1) Administrative organization; violates Section 20, Article X of the Constitution which expressly limits the coverage
of the Regional Assembly’s legislative powers “[w]ithin its territorial jurisdiction x x
(2) Creation of sources of revenues; x.”

(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources; The ARMM Regional Assembly itself, in creating Shariff Kabunsuan, recognized the
exclusive nature of Congress’ power to create or reapportion legislative districts by
(4) Personal, family, and property relations; abstaining from creating a legislative district for Shariff Kabunsuan. Section 5 of
MMA Act 201 provides that:
(5) Regional urban and rural planning development;
“Except as may be provided by national law, the existing legislative district, which
(6) Economic, social, and tourism development;
includes Cotabato City as a part thereof, shall remain.” (Emphasis supplied)
(7) Educational policies;
However, a province cannot legally be created without a legislative district because
(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and the Constitution mandates that “each province shall have at least one
representative.” Thus, the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan without a
(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the legislative district is unconstitutional.
general welfare of the people of the region.
Sema, petitioner in G.R. No. 177597, contends that Section 5 (3), Article VI of the
Nothing in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution authorizes autonomous regions, Constitution, which provides:
expressly or impliedly, to create or reapportion legislative districts for Congress.
“Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact,
On the other hand, Section 3, Article IV of RA 9054 amending the ARMM Organic and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty
Act, provides, “The Regional Assembly may exercise legislative power x x x except thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative.” (Emphasis
on the following matters: x x x (k) National elections. x x x.” Since the ARMM supplied) and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution, which
Regional Assembly has no legislative power to enact laws relating to national states:
elections, it cannot create a legislative district whose representative is elected in
“Any province that may hereafter be created, or any city whose population may Pursuant to this Section, a representative district may come into existence: (a)
hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the indirectly, through the creation of a province—for “each province shall have at least
immediately following election to at least one Member or such number of one member” in the House of Representatives; or (b) by direct creation of several
Members as it may be entitled to on the basis of the number of its inhabitants and representative districts within a province. The requirements concerning the
according to the standards set forth in paragraph (3), Section 5 of Article VI of the apportionment of representative districts and the territory thereof refer only to the
Constitution. The number of Members apportioned to the province out of which second method of creation of representative districts, and do not apply to those
such new province was created or where the city, whose population has so incidental to the creation of provinces, under the first method. This is deducible,
increased, is geographically located shall be correspondingly adjusted by the not only from the general tenor of the provision above quoted, but, also, from the
Commission on Elections but such adjustment shall not be made within one fact that the apportionment therein alluded to refers to that which is made by an
hundred and twenty days before the election.” (Emphasis supplied) Act of Congress. Indeed, when a province is created by statute, the corresponding
representative district, comes into existence neither by authority of that statute—
serve as bases for the conclusion that the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, created on which cannot provide otherwise—nor by apportionment, but by operation of the
29 October 2006, is automatically entitled to one member in the House of Constitution, without a reapportionment.
Representatives in the 14 May 2007 elections. As further support for her stance,
petitioner invokes the statement in Felwa that “when a province is created by There is no constitutional limitation as to the time when, territory of, or other
statute, the corresponding representative district comes into existence neither by conditions under which a province may be created, except, perhaps, if the
authority of that statute—which cannot provide otherwise—nor by apportionment, consequence thereof were to exceed the maximum of 120 representative districts
but by operation of the Constitution, without a reapportionment.” prescribed in the Constitution, which is not the effect of the legislation under
consideration. As a matter of fact, provinces have been created or subdivided into
The contention has no merit. other provinces, with the consequent creation of additional representative districts,
First. The issue in Felwa, among others, was whether Republic Act No. 4695 (RA without complying with the aforementioned requirements.”32 (Emphasis supplied)
4695), creating the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Kalinga- Thus, the Court sustained the constitutionality of RA 4695 because (1) it validly
Apayao and providing for congressional representation in the old and new created legislative districts “indirectly” through a special law enacted by Congress
provinces, was unconstitutional for “creati[ng] congressional districts without the creating a province and (2) the creation of the legislative districts will not result in
apportionment provided in the Constitution.” The Court answered in the negative, breaching the maximum number of legislative districts provided under the 1935
thus: Constitution. Felwa does not apply to the present case because in Felwa the new
“The Constitution ordains: provinces were created by a national law enacted by Congress itself. Here, the new
province was created merely by a regional law enacted by the ARMM Regional
“The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than one hundred Assembly.
and twenty Members who shall be apportioned among the several provinces as
nearly as may be according to the number of their respective inhabitants, but each What Felwa teaches is that the creation of a legislative district by Congress does not
province shall have at least one Member. The Congress shall by law make an emanate alone from Congress’ power to reapportion legislative districts, but also
apportionment within three years after the return of every enumeration, and not from Congress’ power to create provinces which cannot be created without a
otherwise. Until such apportionment shall have been made, the House of legislative district. Thus, when a province is created, a legislative district is created
Representatives shall have the same number of Members as that fixed by law for by operation of the Constitution because the Constitution provides that “each
the National Assembly, who shall be elected by the qualified electors from the province shall have at least one representative” in the House of Representatives.
present Assembly districts. Each representative district shall comprise as far as This does not detract from the constitutional principle that the power to create
practicable, contiguous and compact territory.” legislative districts belongs exclusively to Congress. It merely prevents any other
legislative body, except Congress, from creating provinces because for a legislative
body to create a province such legislative body must have the power to create
legislative districts. In short, only an act of Congress can trigger the creation of a
legislative district by operation of the Constitution. Thus, only Congress has the Justice Carpio:
power to create, or trigger the creation of, a legislative district.   So, you mean to say [a] Local Government can create legislative district[s] and
pack Congress with their own representatives [?]

Moreover, if as Sema claims MMA Act 201 apportioned a legislative district to Atty. Vistan II:35
Shariff Kabunsuan upon its creation, this will leave Cotabato City as the lone   Yes, Your Honor, because the Constitution allows that.
component of the first legislative district of Maguindanao. However, Cotabato City
cannot constitute a legislative district by itself because as of the census taken in Justice Carpio:
2000, it had a population of only 163,849. To constitute Cotabato City alone as the
surviving first legislative district of Maguindanao will violate Section 5 (3), Article VI   So, [the] Regional Assembly of [the] ARMM can create and create x x x
of the Constitution which requires that “[E]ach city with a population of at least two provinces x x x and, therefore, they can have thirty-five (35) new representatives in
hundred fifty thousand x x x, shall have at least one representative.” the House of Representatives without Congress agreeing to it, is that what you are
saying? That can be done, under your theory[?]
Second. Sema’s theory also undermines the composition and independence of
the House of Representatives. Under Section 19,33 Article VI of RA 9054, the Atty. Vistan II:
ARMM Regional Assembly can create provinces and cities within the ARMM with or
  Yes, Your Honor, under the correct factual circumstances.
without regard to the criteria fixed in Section 461 of RA 7160, namely: minimum
annual income of P20,000,000, and minimum contiguous territory of 2,000 square Justice Carpio:
kilometers or minimum population of 250,000.34 The following scenarios thus
become distinct possibilities:   Under your theory, the ARMM legislature can create thirty-five (35) new
provinces, there may be x x x [only] one hundred thousand (100,000) [population],
“(1) An inferior legislative body like the ARMM Regional Assembly can create 100 x x x, and they will each have one representative x x x to Congress without any
or more provinces and thus increase the membership of a superior legislative body, national law, is that what you are saying?
the House of Representatives, beyond the maximum limit of 250 fixed in the
Constitution (unless a national law provides otherwise); Atty. Vistan II:

(2) The proportional representation in the House of Representatives based on one   Without law passed by Congress, yes, Your Honor, that is what we are saying.
representative for at least every 250,000 residents will be negated because the
xxxx
ARMM Regional Assembly need not comply with the requirement in Section 461(a)
(ii) of RA 7160 that every province created must have a population of at least Justice Carpio:
250,000; and
  So, they can also create one thousand (1000) new provinces, sen[d] one
(3) Representatives from the ARMM provinces can become the majority in the thousand (1000) representatives to the House of Representatives without a
House of Representatives through the ARMM Regional Assembly’s continuous national law[,] that is legally possible, correct?
creation of provinces or cities within the ARMM.”
Atty. Vistan II:
The following exchange during the oral arguments of the petition in G.R. No.
177597 highlights the absurdity of Sema’s position that the ARMM Regional   Yes, Your Honor.36 (Emphasis supplied)
Assembly can create provinces:
and barangays does not involve the creation of legislative districts. We leave the
resolution of this issue to an appropriate case.
Neither the framers of the 1987 Constitution in adopting the provisions in Article X
on regional autonomy,37 nor Congress in enacting RA 9054, envisioned or intended
these disastrous consequences that certainly would wreck the tribranch system of
government under our Constitution. Clearly, the power to create or reapportion In summary, we rule that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, insofar as it grants to the
legislative districts cannot be delegated by Congress but must be exercised by ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities, is void for being
Congress itself. Even the ARMM Regional Assembly recognizes this. contrary to Section 5 of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as
well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Only Congress can
The Constitution empowered Congress to create or reapportion legislative districts, create provinces and cities because the creation of provinces and cities necessarily
not the regional assemblies. Section 3 of the Ordinance to the Constitution which includes the creation of legislative districts, a power only Congress can exercise
states, “[A]ny province that may hereafter be created x x x shall be entitled in the under Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance
immediately following election to at least one Member,” refers to a province appended to the Constitution. The ARMM Regional Assembly cannot create a
created by Congress itself through a national law. The reason is that the creation of province without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that every
a province increases the actual membership of the House of Representatives, an province shall have a legislative district. Moreover, the ARMM Regional Assembly
increase that only Congress can decide. Incidentally, in the present 14th Congress, cannot enact a law creating a national office like the office of a district
there are 21938 district representatives out of the maximum 250 seats in the House representative of Congress because the legislative powers of the ARMM Regional
of Representatives. Since party-list members shall constitute 20 percent of total Assembly operate only within its territorial jurisdiction as provided in Section 20,
membership of the House, there should at least be 50 party-list seats available in Article X of the Constitution. Thus, we rule that MMA Act 201, enacted by the
every election in case 50 party-list candidates are proclaimed winners. This leaves ARMM Regional Assembly and creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, is void.
only 200 seats for district representatives, much less than the 219 incumbent Resolution No. 7902 Complies with the Constitution
district representatives. Thus, there is a need now for Congress to increase by law
the allowable membership of the House, even before Congress can create new Consequently, we hold that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902, preserving the
provinces. geographic and legislative district of the First District of Maguindanao with
Cotabato City, is valid as it merely complies with Section 5 of Article VI and Section
It is axiomatic that organic acts of autonomous regions cannot prevail over the 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as well as Section 1 of the Ordinance appended
Constitution. Section 20, Article X of the Constitution expressly provides that the to the Constitution.
legislative powers of regional assemblies are limited “[w]ithin its territorial
jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national laws, x x WHEREFORE, we declare Section 19, Article VI of Republic Act No. 9054
x.” The Preamble of the ARMM Organic Act (RA 9054) itself states that the ARMM UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly of the
Government is established “within the framework of the Constitution.” This follows Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the power to create provinces and cities.
Section 15, Article X of the Constitution which mandates that the ARMM “shall be Thus, we declare VOID Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 creating the
created x x x within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Consequently, we rule that COMELEC Resolution No.
as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.” 7902 is VALID.

The present case involves the creation of a local government unit that necessarily Let a copy of this ruling be served on the President of the Senate and the Speaker
involves also the creation of a legislative district. The Court will not pass upon the of the House of Representatives.
constitutionality of the creation of municipalities and barangays that does not SO ORDERED.
comply with the criteria established in Section 461 of RA 7160, as mandated in
Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, because the creation of such municipalities
or impede legislation.—Moreover, a liberal construction of the “one title-one
subject” rule has been invariably adopted by this court so as not to cripple or
impede legislation. Thus, in Sumulong v. Comelec (73 Phil. 288 [1941]), we ruled
that the constitutional requirement as now expressed in Article VI, Section 26(1)
“should be given a practical rather than a technical construction. It should be
G.R. No. 114783. December 8, 1994.* sufficient compliance with such requirement if the title expresses the general
subject and all the provisions are germane to that general subject.”

Same; Same; Same; Same; It is not required that all laws emanating from the
ROBERT V. TOBIAS, RAMON M. GUZMAN, TERRY T. LIM, GREGORIO D. GABRIEL, and legislature must contain all relevant data considered by Congress in the enactment
ROBERTO R. TOBIAS, JR., petitioners, vs. HON. CITY MAYOR BENJAMIN S. ABALOS, of said laws.—Proceeding now to the other constitutional issues raised by
CITY TREASURER WILLIAM MARCELINO, and THE SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD, all petitioners to the effect that there is no mention in the assailed law of any census
of the City of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, respondents. to show that Mandaluyong and San Juan had each attained the minimum
requirement of 250,000 inhabitants to justify their separation into two legislative
Municipal Corporations; Highly Urbanized Cities; Congressional Districts; The
districts, the same does not suffice to strike down the validity of R.A. No. 7675. The
statutory conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city indubitably
said Act enjoys the presumption of having passed through the regular congressional
complies with the “one city-one representative” proviso in the Constitution.—
processes, including due consideration by the members of Congress of the
Anent the first issue, we agree with the observation of the Solicitor General that the
minimum requirements for the establishment of separate legislative districts. At
statutory conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city with a population
any rate, it is not required that all laws emanating from the legislature must contain
of not less than two hundred fifty thousand indubitably ordains compliance with
all relevant data considered by Congress in the enactment of said laws.
the “one city-one representative” proviso in the Constitution: “x x x Each city with a
population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at Same; Same; Same; Same; Congressional Districts; The present composition of
least one representative” (Article VI, Section 5(3), Constitution). Hence, it is in Congress may be increased, if Congress itself so mandates through a legislative
compliance with the aforestated constitutional mandate that the creation of a enactment.—As to the contention that the assailed law violates the present limit on
separate congressional district for the City of Mandaluyong is decreed under Article the number of representatives as set forth in the Constitution, a reading of the
VIII, Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675. applicable provision, Article VI, Section 5 (1), as aforequoted, shows that the
present limit of 250 members is not absolute. The Constitution clearly provides that
Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Statutes; Titles of Bills; The creation of a
the House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than 250 members,
separate congressional district for Mandaluyong is not a subject separate and
“unless otherwise provided by law.” The inescapable import of the latter clause is
distinct from the subject of its conversion into a highly urbanized city but is a
that the present composition of Congress may be increased, if Congress itself so
natural and logical consequence of such conversion.—Contrary to petitioners’
mandates through a legislative enactment. Therefore, the increase in congressional
assertion, the creation of a separate congressional district for Mandaluyong is not a
representation mandated by R.A. No. 7675 is not unconstitutional.
subject separate and distinct from the subject of its conversion into a highly
urbanized city but is a natural and logical consequence of its conversion into a Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Congress cannot possibly preempt itself on a right
highly urbanized city. Verily, the title of R.A. No. 7675, “An Act Converting the which pertains to itself.—As to the contention that Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675 in
Municipality of Mandaluyong Into a Highly Urbanized City of Manda-luyong” effect preempts the right of Congress to reapportion legislative districts, the said
necessarily includes and contemplates the subject treated under Section 49 argument borders on the absurd since petitioners overlook the glaring fact that it
regarding the creation of a separate congressional district for Mandaluyong. was Congress itself which drafted, deliberated upon and enacted the assailed law,
including Section 49 thereof. Congress cannot possibly preempt itself on a right
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A liberal construction of the “one title-one
which pertains to itself.
subject” rule has been invariably adopted by the Supreme Court so as not to cripple
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Plebiscite; The inhabitants of San Juan, which voting population. Nevertheless, 18,621 voted “yes” whereas 7,911 voted “no.” By
used to be part of the congressional district together with Mandaluyong, were virtue of these results, R.A. No. 7675 was deemed ratified and in effect.
properly excluded from the plebiscite on the conversion of Mandaluyong into a
highly urbanized city since the matter of separate district representation was only Petitioners now come before this Court, contending that R.A. No. 7675, specifically
ancillary thereto.—Petitioners contend that the people of San Juan should have Article VIII, Section 49 thereof, is unconstitutional for being violative of three
been made to participate in the plebiscite on R.A. No. 7675 as the same involved a specific provisions of the Constitution.
change in their legislative district. The contention is bereft of merit since the Article VIII, Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675 provides:
principal subject involved in the plebiscite was the conversion of Mandaluyong into
a highly urbanized city. The matter of separate district repre-sentation was only “As a highly-urbanized city, the City of Mandaluyong shall have its own legislative
ancillary thereto. Thus, the inhabitants of San Juan were properly excluded from district with the first representative to be elected in the next national elections
the said plebiscite as they had nothing to do with the change of status of after the passage of this Act. The remainder of the former legislative district of San
neighboring Mandaluyong. Juan/Mandaluyong shall become the new legislative district of San Juan with its
first representative to be elected at the same election.”
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; “Gerry-mandering,” Defined.
—Similarly, petitioners’ additional argument that the subject law has resulted in Petitioners’ first objection to the aforequoted provision of R.A. No. 7675 is that it
“gerrymandering,” which is the practice of creating legislative districts to favor a contravenes the “one subject-one bill” rule, as enunciated in Article VI, Section 26
particular candidate or party, is not worthy of credence. As correctly observed by (1) of the Constitution, to wit:
the Solicitor General, it should be noted that Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, the author of
the assailed law, is the incumbent representative of the former San Juan/ “Section 26 (1). Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject
Mandaluyong district, having consistently won in both localities. By dividing San which shall be expressed in the title thereof.”
Juan/Mandaluyong, Rep. Zamora’s constituency has in fact been diminished, which
Petitioners allege that the inclusion of the assailed Section 49 in the subject law
development could hardly be considered as favorable to him.
resulted in the latter embracing two principal subjects, namely: (1) the conversion
BIDIN, J.: of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city; and (2) the division of the
congressional district of San Juan/Mandaluyong into two separate districts.
Invoking their rights as taxpayers and as residents of Manda-luyong, herein
petitioners assail the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7675, otherwise known Petitioners contend that the second aforestated subject is not germane to the
as “An Act Converting the Municipality of Mandaluyong into a Highly Urbanized City subject matter of R.A. No. 7675 since the said law treats of the conversion of
to be Known as the City of Mandaluyong.” Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city, as expressed in the title of the law.
Therefore, since Section49 treats of a subject distinct from that stated in the title of
Prior to the enactment of the assailed statute, the municipalities of Mandaluyong the law, the “one subject-one bill” rule has not been complied with.
and San Juan belonged to only one legislative district. Hon. Ronaldo Zamora, the
incumbent congressional representative of this legislative district, sponsored the Petitioners’ second and third objections involve Article VI, Sections 5 (1) and (4) of
bill which eventually became R.A. No. 7675. President Ramos signed R.A. No. 7675 the Constitution, which provide, to wit:
into law on February 9, 1994.
“Section 5 (1). The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than
Pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991, a plebiscite was held on April 10, two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected
1994. The people of Mandaluyong were asked whether they approved of the from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the
conversion of the Municipality of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city as Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective
provided under R.A. No. 7675. The turnout at the plebiscite was only 14.41% of the inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as
provided by law, shall be elected through a party list system of registered national, Sumulong v. Comelec (73 Phil. 288 [1941]), we ruled that the constitutional
regional and sectoral parties or organizations.” requirement as now expressed in Article VI, Section 26(1) “should be given a
practical rather than a technical construction. It should be sufficient compliance
“Section 5(4). Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress with such requirement if the title expresses the general subject and all the
shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standard provisions are germane to that general subject.”
provided in this section.”
The liberal construction of the “one title-one subject” rule had been further
Petitioners argue that the division of San Juan and Mandaluyong into separate elucidated in Lidasan v. Comelec (21 SCRA 496 [1967]), to wit:
congressional districts under Section 49 of the assailed law has resulted in an
increase in the composition of the House of Representatives beyond that provided “Of course, the Constitution does not require Congress to employ in the title of an
in Article VI, Sec. 5 (1) of the Constitution. Furthermore, petitioners contend that enactment, language of such precision as to mirror, fully index or catalogue all the
said division was not made pursuant to any census showing that the subject contents and the minute details therein. It suffices if the title should serve the
municipalities have attained the minimum population requirements. And finally, purpose of the constitutional demand that it inform the legislators, the persons
petitioners assert that Section 49 has the effect of preempting the right of Congress interested in the subject of the bill and the public, of the nature, scope and
to reapportion legislative districts pursuant to Sec. 5 (4) as aforecited. consequences of the proposed law and its operation” (emphasis supplied).

The contentions are devoid of merit. Proceeding now to the other constitutional issues raised by petitioners to the effect
that there is no mention in the assailed law of any census to show that
Anent the first issue, we agree with the observation of the Solicitor General that the Mandaluyong and San Juan had each attained the minimum requirement of
statutory conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city with a population 250,000 inhabitants to justify their separation into two legislative districts, the
of not less than two hundred fifty thousand indubitably ordains compliance with same does not suffice to strike down the validity of R.A. No. 7675. The said Act
the “one city-one representative” proviso in the Constitution: enjoys the presumption of having passed through the regular congressional
“x x x Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each processes, including due consideration by the members of Congress of the
province, shall have at least one representative” (Article VI, Section 5(3), minimum requirements for the establishment of separate legislative districts. At
Constitution). any rate, it is not required that all laws emanating from the legislature must contain
all relevant data considered by Congress in the enactment of said laws.
Hence, it is in compliance with the aforestated constitutional mandate that the
creation of a separate congressional district for the City of Mandaluyong is decreed As to the contention that the assailed law violates the present limit on the number
under Article VIII, Section of representatives as set forth in the Constitution, a reading of the applicable
provision, Article VI, Section 5 (1), as aforequoted, shows that the present limit of
Contrary to petitioners’ assertion, the creation of a separate congressional district 250 members is not absolute. The Constitution clearly provides that the House of
for Mandaluyong is not a subject separate and distinct from the subject of its Representatives shall be composed of not more than 250 members, “unless
conversion into a highly urbanized city but is a natural and logical consequence of otherwise provided by law.” The inescapable import of the latter clause is that the
its conversion into a highly urbanized city. Verily, the title of R.A. No. 7675, “An Act present composition of Congress may be increased, if Congress itself so mandates
Converting the Municipality of Mandaluyong Into a Highly Urbanized City of through a legislative enactment. Therefore, the increase in congressional
Mandaluyong” necessarily includes and contemplates the subject treated under representation mandated by R.A. No. 7675 is not unconstitutional.
Section 49 regarding the creation of a separate congressional district for
Mandaluyong. Thus, in the absence of proof that Mandaluyong and San Juan do not qualify to
have separate legislative districts, the assailed Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675 must be
Moreover, a liberal construction of the “one title-one subject” rule has been allowed to stand.
invariably adopted by this court so as not to cripple or impede legislation. Thus, in
As to the contention that Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675 in effect preempts the right of
Congress to reapportion legislative districts, the said argument borders on the
absurd since petitioners overlook the glaring fact that it was Congress itself which
drafted, deliberated upon and enacted the assailed law, including Section 49
thereof. Congress cannot possibly preempt itself on a right which pertains to itself.

Aside from the constitutional objections to R.A. No. 7675, petitioners present
further arguments against the validity thereof.

Petitioners contend that the people of San Juan should have been made to
participate in the plebiscite on R.A. No. 7675 as the same involved a change in their
legislative district. The contention is bereft of merit since the principal subject
involved in the plebiscite was the conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly
urbanized city. The matter of separate district representation was only ancillary
thereto. Thus, the inhabitants of San Juan were properly excluded from the said
plebiscite as they had nothing to do with the change of status of neighboring
Mandaluyong.

Similarly, petitioners’ additional argument that the subject law has resulted in
“gerrymandering,” which is the practice of creating legislative districts to favor a
particular candidate or party, is not worthy of credence. As correctly observed by
the Solicitor General, it should be noted that Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, the author of
the assailed law, is the incumbent representative of the former San
Juan/Mandaluyong district, having consistently won in both localities. By dividing
San Juan/Mandaluyong, Rep. Zamora’s constituency has in fact been diminished,
which development could hardly be considered as favorable to him.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
alteration of boundary of a local government unit. In contrast, no plebiscite
requirement exists under the apportionment or reapportionment provision. In
G.R. No. 176970. December 8, 2008.* Tobias v. Abalos, 239 SCRA 106 (1994), a case that arose from the division of the
congressional district formerly covering San Juan and Mandaluyong into separate
districts, we confirmed this distinction and the fact that no plebiscite is needed in a
ROGELIO Z. BAGABUYO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent. legislative reapportionment. The plebiscite issue came up because one was ordered
and held for Mandaluyong in the course of its conversion into a highly urbanized
Remedial Law; Actions; Hierarchy of Courts; Direct invocation of the Supreme city, while none was held for San Juan. In explaining why this happened, the Court
Court’s jurisdiction is allowed only when there are special and important reasons ruled that no plebiscite was necessary for San Juan because the objective of the
therefor, clearly and especially set out in the petition; Recourse must first be made plebiscite was the conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city as
to the lower-ranked court exercising concurrent jurisdiction with a higher court.— required by Article X, Section 10 the Local Government Code; the creation of a new
The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, legislative district only followed as a consequence. In other words, the
mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus. It was pursuant to this original apportionment alone and by itself did not call for a plebiscite, so that none was
jurisdiction that the petitioner filed the present petition. While this jurisdiction is needed for San Juan where only a reapportionment took place.
shared with the Court of Appeals and the RTCs, a direct invocation of the Supreme
Court’s jurisdiction is allowed only when there are special and important reasons Same; Same; Same; The plebiscite requirement that applies to the division of a
therefor, clearly and especially set out in the petition. Reasons of practicality, province, city, municipality or barangay under the Local Government Code should
dictated by an increasingly overcrowded docket and the need to prioritize in favor not apply to and be a requisite for the validity of a legislative apportionment or
of matters within our exclusive jurisdiction, justify the existence of this rule reapportionment.—These considerations clearly show the distinctions between a
otherwise known as the “principle of hierarchy of courts.” More generally stated, legislative apportionment or reapportionment and the division of a local
the principle requires that recourse must first be made to the lower-ranked court government unit. Historically and by its intrinsic nature, a legislative apportionment
exercising concurrent jurisdiction with a higher court. does not mean, and does not even imply, a division of a local government unit
where the apportionment takes place. Thus, the plebiscite requirement that applies
Municipal Corporations; Congressional Districts; Definition of Legislative to the division of a province, city, municipality or barangay under the Local
Apportionment and Reapportionment.—Legislative apportionment is defined by Government Code should not apply to and be a requisite for the validity of a
Black’s Law Dictionary as the determination of the number of representatives which legislative apportionment or reapportionment.
a State, county or other subdivision may send to a legislative body. It is the
allocation of seats in a legislative body in proportion to the population; the drawing BRION, J.:
of voting district lines so as to equalize population and voting power among the
districts. Reapportionment, on the other hand, is the realignment or change in Before us is the petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus,1 with a prayer
legislative districts brought about by changes in population and mandated by the for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary
constitutional requirement of equality of representation. injunction, filed by Rogelio Bagabuyo (petitioner) to prevent the Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) from implementing Resolution No. 7837 on the ground that
Same; Same; Plebiscite; The Constitution and the Local Government Code expressly Republic Act No. 93712—the law that Resolution No. 7837 implements—is
require a plebiscite to carry out any creation, division, merger, abolition or unconstitutional.
alteration of boundary of a local government unit; No plebiscite requirement exists
under the apportionment or reapportionment provision.—A pronounced Background Facts
distinction between Article VI, Section 5 and, Article X, Section 10 is on the On October 10, 2006, Cagayan de Oro’s then Congressman Constantino G. Jaraula
requirement of a plebiscite. The Constitution and the Local Government Code filed and sponsored House Bill No. 5859: “An Act Providing for the Apportionment
expressly require a plebiscite to carry out any creation, division, merger, abolition or of the Lone Legislative District of the City of Cagayan De Oro.”3 This law eventually
became Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9371.4 It increased Cagayan de Oro’s legislative Since the Court did not grant the petitioner’s prayer for a temporary restraining
district from one to two. For the election of May 2007, Cagayan de Oro’s voters order or writ of preliminary injunction, the May 14 National and Local Elections
would be classified as belonging to either the first or the second district, depending proceeded according to R.A. No. 9371 and Resolution No. 7837.
on their place of residence. The constituents of each district would elect their own
representative to Congress as well as eight members of the Sangguniang
Panglungsod. The respondent’s Comment on the petition, filed through the Office of the Solicitor
Section 1 of R.A. No. 9371 apportioned the City’s barangays as follows: General, argued that: 1) the petitioner did not respect the hierarchy of courts, as
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) is vested with concurrent jurisdiction over cases
“Legislative Districts—The lone legislative district of the City of Cagayan De Oro is assailing the constitutionality of a statute; 2) R.A. No. 9371 merely increased the
hereby apportioned to commence in the next national elections after the effectivity representation of Cagayan de Oro City in the House of Representatives and
of this Act. Henceforth, barangays Bonbon, Bayabas, Kauswagan, Carmen, Patag, Sangguniang
Bulua, Iponan, Baikingon, San Simon, Pagatpat, Canitoan, Balulang, Lumbia,
Pagalungan, Tagpangi, Taglimao, Tuburan, Pigsag-an, Tumpagon, Bayanga, Panglungsod pursuant to Section 5, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution; 3) the
Mambuaya, Dansulihon, Tignapoloan and Bisigan shall comprise the first district criteria established under Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution only apply
while barangays Macabalan, Puntod, Consolacion, Camaman-an, Nazareth, when there is a creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of
Macasandig, Indahag, Lapasan, Gusa, Cugman, FS Catanico, Tablon, Agusan, Puerto, boundaries of a province, city, municipality, or barangay; in this case, no such
Bugo, and Balubal and all urban barangays from Barangay 1 to Barangay 40 shall creation, division, merger, abolition or alteration of boundaries of a local
comprise the second district.”5 government unit took place; and 4) R.A. No. 9371 did not bring about any change in
Cagayan de Oro’s territory, population and income classification; hence, no
On March 13, 2007, the COMELEC en Banc promulgated Resolution No. 78376 plebiscite is required.
implementing R.A. No. 9371.
The petitioner argued in his reply that: 1) pursuant to the Court’s ruling in Del Mar
Petitioner Rogelio Bagabuyo filed the present petition against the COMELEC on v. PAGCOR,9 the Court may take cognizance of this petition if compelling reasons, or
March 27, 2007.7 On 10 April 2008, the petitioner amended the petition to include the nature and importance of the issues raised, warrant the immediate exercise of
the following as respondents: Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita; the Secretary of its jurisdiction; 2) Cagayan de Oro City’s reapportionment under R.A. No. 9371 falls
the Department of Budget and Management; the Chairman of the Commission on within the meaning of creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration
Audit; the Mayor and the members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cagayan de of boundaries of cities under Section 10, Article X of the Constitution; 3) the
Oro City; and its Board of Canvassers.8 creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries of local
government units involve a common denominator—the material change in the
In asking for the nullification of R.A. No. 9371 and Resolution No. 7837 on political and economic rights of the local government units directly affected, as well
constitutional grounds, the petitioner argued that the COMELEC cannot implement as of the people therein; 4) a voter’s sovereign power to decide on who should be
R.A. No. 9371 without providing for the rules, regulations and guidelines for the elected as the entire city’s Congressman was arbitrarily reduced by at least one half
conduct of a plebiscite which is indispensable for the division or conversion of a because the questioned law and resolution only allowed him to vote and be voted
local government unit. He prayed for the issuance of an order directing the for in the district designated by the COMELEC; 5) a voter was also arbitrarily denied
respondents to cease and desist from implementing R.A. No. 9371 and COMELEC his right to elect the Congressman and the members of the city council for the
Resolution No. 7837, and to revert instead to COMELEC Resolution No. 7801 which other legislative district, and 6) government funds were illegally disbursed without
provided for a single legislative district for Cagayan de Oro. prior approval by the sovereign electorate of Cagayan De Oro City.10
The Issues petition assails as well a resolution of the COMELEC en banc issued to implement
the legislative apportionment that R.A. No. 9371 decrees. As an action against a
The core issues, based on the petition and the parties’ memoranda, can be limited COMELEC en banc resolution, the case falls under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court that
to the following contentious points: in turn requires a review by this Court via a Rule 65 petition for certiorari.16 For
1) Did the petitioner violate the hierarchy of courts rule; if so, should the instant these reasons, we do not see the principle of hierarchy of courts to be a stumbling
petition be dismissed on this ground? block in our consideration of the present case.

2) Does R.A. No. 9371 merely provide for the legislative reapportionment of The Plebiscite Requirement.
Cagayan de Oro City, or does it involve the division and conversion of a local The petitioner insists that R.A. No. 9371 converts and divides the City of Cagayan de
government unit? Oro as a local government unit, and does not merely provide for the City’s
3) Does R.A. No. 9371 violate the equality of representation doctrine? legislative apportionment. This argument essentially proceeds from a
misunderstanding of the constitutional concepts of apportionment of legislative
districts and division of local government units.

Our Ruling Legislative apportionment is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the determination
of the number of representatives which a State, county or other subdivision may
Except for the issue of the hierarchy of courts rule, we find the petition totally send to a legislative body.17 It is the allocation of seats in a legislative body in
without merit. proportion to the population; the drawing of voting district lines so as to equalize
population and voting power among the districts.18 Reapportionment, on the
The hierarchy of courts principle.
other hand, is the realignment or change in legislative districts brought about by
The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, changes in population and mandated by the constitutional requirement of equality
mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.11 It was pursuant to this original of representation.19
jurisdiction that the petitioner filed the present petition.
Article VI (entitled Legislative Department) of the 1987 Constitution lays down the
While this jurisdiction is shared with the Court of Appeals12 and the RTCs,13 a rules on legislative apportionment under its Section 5 which provides:
direct invocation of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction is allowed only when there are
“Sec. 5(1). (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than
special and important reasons therefor, clearly and especially set out in the
two hundred fifty members unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected
petition. Reasons of practicality, dictated by an increasingly overcrowded docket
from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the
and the need to prioritize in favor of matters within our exclusive jurisdiction, justify
Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective
the existence of this rule otherwise known as the “principle of hierarchy of courts.”
inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as
More generally stated, the principle requires that recourse must first be made to
provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national,
the lower-ranked court exercising concurrent jurisdiction with a higher court.14
regional and sectoral parties or organizations.
Among the cases we have considered sufficiently special and important to be
xxx
exceptions to the rule, are petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus and quo
warranto against our nation’s lawmakers when the validity of their enactments is (3) Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous,
assailed.15 The present petition is of this nature; its subject matter and the nature compact, and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of at least two hundred
of the issues raised—among them, whether legislative reapportionment involves a fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative.
division of Cagayan de Oro City as a local government unit—are reasons enough for
considering it an exception to the principle of hierarchy of courts. Additionally, the
(4) Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall standards of apportionment, Section 5(4) specifically mandates reapportionment as
make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in soon as the given standards are met.
this section.”
In contrast with the equal representation objective of Article VI, Section 5, Article X,
Separately from the legislative districts that legal apportionment or Section 10 expressly speaks of how local government units may be “created,
reapportionment speaks of, are the local government units (historically and divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered.” Its concern is the
generically referred to as “municipal corporations”) that the Constitution itself commencement, the termination, and the modification of local government units’
classified into provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays.20 In its strict and corporate existence and territorial coverage; and it speaks of two specific standards
proper sense, a municipality has been defined as “a body politic and corporate that must be observed in implementing this concern, namely, the criteria
constituted by the incorporation of the inhabitants of a city or town for the purpose established in the local government code and the approval by a majority of the
of local government thereof.”21 The creation, division, merger, abolition or votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. Under the Local
alteration of boundary of local government units, i.e., of provinces, cities, Government Code (R.A. No. 7160) passed in 1991, the criteria of income,
municipalities, and barangays, are covered by the Article on Local Government population and land area are specified as verifiable indicators of viability and
(Article X). Section 10 of this Article provides: capacity to provide services.24 The division or merger of existing units must comply
with the same requirements (since a new local government unit will come into
No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, being), provided that a division shall not reduce the income, population, or land
abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the area of the unit affected to less than the minimum requirement prescribed in the
criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a Code.25
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political unit directly affected.

Under both Article VI, Section 5, and Article X, Section 10 of the Constitution, the
authority to act has been vested in the Legislature. The Legislature undertakes the A pronounced distinction between Article VI, Section 5 and, Article X, Section 10 is
apportionment and reapportionment of legislative districts,22 and likewise acts on on the requirement of a plebiscite. The Constitution and the Local Government
local government units by setting the standards for their creation, division, merger, Code expressly require a plebiscite to carry out any creation, division, merger,
abolition and alteration of boundaries and by actually creating, dividing, merging, abolition or alteration of boundary of a local government unit.26 In contrast, no
abolishing local government units and altering their boundaries through legislation. plebiscite requirement exists under the apportionment or reapportionment
Other than this, not much commonality exists between the two provisions since provision. In Tobias v. Abalos,27 a case that arose from the division of the
they are inherently different although they interface and relate with one another. congressional district formerly covering San Juan and Mandaluyong into separate
districts, we confirmed this distinction and the fact that no plebiscite is needed in a
The concern that leaps from the text of Article VI, Section 5 is political legislative reapportionment. The plebiscite issue came up because one was ordered
representation and the means to make a legislative district sufficiently represented and held for Mandaluyong in the course of its conversion into a highly urbanized
so that the people can be effectively heard. As above stated, the aim of legislative city, while none was held for San Juan. In explaining why this happened, the Court
apportionment is “to equalize population and voting power among districts.”23 ruled that no plebiscite was necessary for San Juan because the objective of the
Hence, emphasis is given to the number of people represented; the uniform and plebiscite was the conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city as
progressive ratio to be observed among the representative districts; and required by Article X, Section 10 the Local Government Code; the creation of a new
accessibility and commonality of interests in terms of each district being, as far as legislative district only followed as a consequence. In other words, the
practicable, continuous, compact and adjacent territory. In terms of the people apportionment alone and by itself did not call for a plebiscite, so that none was
represented, every city with at least 250,000 people and every province needed for San Juan where only a reapportionment took place.
(irrespective of population) is entitled to one representative. In this sense,
legislative districts, on the one hand, and provinces and cities, on the other, relate The need for a plebiscite under Article X, Section 10 and the lack of requirement for
and interface with each other. To ensure continued adherence to the required one under Article VI, Section 5 can best be appreciated by a consideration of the
historical roots of these two provisions, the nature of the concepts they embody as The need for a plebiscite in the creation, division, merger, or abolition of local
heretofore discussed, and their areas of application. government units was not constitutionally enshrined until the 1973 Constitution.
However, as early as 1959, R.A. No. 226433 required, in the creation of barrios by
A Bit of History. Provincial Boards, that the creation and definition of boundaries be “upon petition
In Macias v. COMELEC,28 we first jurisprudentially acknowledged the American of a majority of the voters in the areas affected.” In 1961, the Charter of the City of
roots of our apportionment provision, noting its roots from the Fourteenth Caloocan (R.A. No. 3278) carried this further by requiring that the “Act shall take
Amendment29 of the U.S. Constitution and from the constitutions of some effect after a majority of voters of the Municipality of Caloocan vote in favor of the
American states. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 created the Philippine conversion of their municipality into a city in a plebiscite.” This was followed up to
Assembly,30 the body that acted as the lower house of the bicameral legislature 1972 by other legislative enactments requiring a plebiscite as a condition for the
under the Americans, with the Philippine Commission acting as the upper house. creation and conversion of local government units as well as the transfer of sitios
While the members of the Philippine Commission were appointed by the U.S. from one legislative unit to another.34 In 1973, the plebiscite requirement was
President with the conformity of the U.S. Senate, the members of the Philippine accorded constitutional status.
Assembly were elected by representative districts previously delineated under the Under these separate historical tracks, it can be seen that the holding of a plebiscite
Philippine Organic Act of 1902 pursuant to the mandate to apportion the seats of was never a requirement in legislative apportionment or reapportionment. After it
the Philippine Assembly among the provinces as nearly as practicable according to became constitutionally entrenched, a plebiscite was also always identified with the
population. Thus, legislative apportionment first started in our country. creation, division, merger, abolition and alteration of boundaries of local
The Jones Law or the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 maintained the government units, never with the concept of legislative apportionment.
apportionment provision, dividing the country into 12 senate districts and 90 Nature and Areas of Application.
representative districts electing one delegate each to the House of Representatives.
Section 16 of the Act specifically vested the Philippine Legislature with the The legislative district that Article VI, Section 5 speaks of may, in a sense, be called a
authority to redistrict the Philippine Islands. political unit because it is the basis for the election of a member of the House of
Representatives and members of the local legislative body. It is not, however, a
Under the 1935 Constitution, Article VI, Section 5 retained the concept of legislative political subdivision through which functions of government are carried out. It can
apportionment together with “district” as the basic unit of apportionment; the more appropriately be described as a representative unit that may or may not
concern was “equality of representation . . . as an essential feature of republican encompass the whole of a city or a province, but unlike the latter, it is not a
institutions” as expressed in the leading case of Macias v. COMELEC.31 The case corporate unit. Not being a corporate unit, a district does not act for and in behalf
ruled that inequality of representation is a justiciable, not a political issue, which of the people comprising the district; it merely delineates the areas occupied by the
ruling was reiterated in Montejo v. COMELEC.32 Notably, no issue regarding the people who will choose a representative in their national affairs.
holding of a plebiscite ever came up in these cases and the others that followed, as
no plebiscite was required. Unlike a province, which has a governor; a city or a municipality, which has a mayor;
and a barangay, which has a punong barangay, a district does not have its own chief
Article VIII, Section 2 of the 1973 Constitution retained the concept of equal executive. The role of the congressman that it elects is to ensure that the voice of
representation “in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and the people of the district is heard in Congress, not to oversee the affairs of the
on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio” with each district being, as far as legislative district. Not being a corporate unit also signifies that it has no legal
practicable, contiguous, compact and adjacent territory. This formulation was personality that must be created or dissolved and has no capacity to act. Hence,
essentially carried over to the 1987 Constitution, distinguished only from the there is no need for any plebiscite in the creation, dissolution or any other similar
previous one by the presence of party-list representatives. In neither Constitution action on a legislative district.
was a plebiscite required.
The local government units, on the other hand, are political and corporate units. Mambuaya, Dansulihon, Tignapoloan and Bisigan shall comprise the first district
They are the territorial and political subdivisions of the state.35 They possess legal while barangays Macabalan, Puntod, Consolacion, Camaman-an, Nazareth,
personality on the authority of the Constitution and by action of the Legislature. Macansandig, Indahag, Lapasan, Gusa, Cugman, FS Catanico, Tablon, Agusan,
The Constitution defines them as entities that Congress can, by law, create, divide, Puerto, Bugo and Balubal and all urban barangays from Barangay 1 to Barangay 40
abolish, merge; or whose boundaries can be altered based on standards again shall comprise the second district.”
established by both the Constitution and the Legislature.36 A local government
unit’s corporate existence begins upon the election and qualification of its chief Under these wordings, no division of Cagayan de Oro City as a political and
executive and a majority of the members of its Sanggunian.37 corporate entity takes place or is mandated. Cagayan de Oro City politically remains
a single unit and its administration is not divided along territorial lines. Its territory
As a political subdivision, a local government unit is an “instrumentality of the state remains completely whole and intact; there is only the addition of another
in carrying out the functions of government.”38 As a corporate entity with a distinct legislative district and the delineation of the city into two districts for purposes of
and separate juridical personality from the State, it exercises special functions for representation in the House of Representatives. Thus, Article X, Section 10 of the
the sole benefit of its constituents. It acts as “an agency of the community in the Constitution does not come into play and no plebiscite is necessary to validly
administration of local affairs”39 and the mediums through which the people act in apportion Cagayan de Oro City into two districts.
their corporate capacity on local concerns.40 In light of these roles, the
Constitution saw it fit to expressly secure the consent of the people affected by the Admittedly, the legislative reapportionment carries effects beyond the creation of
creation, division, merger, abolition or alteration of boundaries of local government another congressional district in the city by providing, as reflected in COMELEC
units through a plebiscite. Resolution No. 7837, for additional Sangguniang Panglunsod seats to be voted for
along the lines of the congressional apportionment made. The effect on the
These considerations clearly show the distinctions between a legislative Sangguniang Panglunsod, however, is not directly traceable to R.A. No. 9371 but to
apportionment or reapportionment and the division of a local government unit. another law—R.A. No. 663641—whose Section 3 provides:
Historically and by its intrinsic nature, a legislative apportionment does not mean,
and does not even imply, a division of a local government unit where the “SECTION 3. Other Cities.—The provision of any law to the contrary
apportionment takes place. Thus, the plebiscite requirement that applies to the notwithstanding the City of Cebu, City of Davao, and any other city with more than
division of a province, city, municipality or barangay under the Local Government one representative district shall have eight (8) councilors for each district who shall
Code should not apply to and be a requisite for the validity of a legislative be residents thereof to be elected by the qualified voters therein, provided that the
apportionment or reapportionment. cities of Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Bacolod, Iloilo and other cities comprising a
representative district shall have twelve (12) councilors each and all other cities
R.A. No. 9371 and COMELEC Res. No. 7837 shall have ten (10) councilors each to be elected at large by the qualified voters of
the said cities: Provided, That in no case shall the present number of councilors
R.A. No. 9371 is, on its face, purely and simply a reapportionment legislation passed according to their charters be reduced.”
in accordance with the authority granted to Congress under Article VI, Section 5(4)
of the Constitution. Its core provision—Section 1—provides: However, neither does this law have the effect of dividing the City of Cagayan de
Oro into two political and corporate units and territories. Rather than divide the
“SECTION 1. Legislative Districts.—The lone legislative district of the City of city either territorially or as a corporate entity, the effect is merely to enhance voter
Cagayan de Oro is hereby apportioned to commence in the next national elections representation by giving each city voter more and greater say, both in Congress and
after the effectivity of this Act. Henceforth, barangays Bonbon, Bayabas, in the Sangguniang Panglunsod.
Kauswagan, Carmen,
To illustrate this effect, before the reapportionment, Cagayan de Oro had only one
Patag, Bulua, Iponan, Baikingon, San Simon, Pagatpat, Canitoan, Balulang, Lumbia, congressman and 12 city council members citywide for its population of
Pagalungan, Tagpangi, Taglimao, Tuburan, Pigsag-an, Tumpagon, Bayanga, approximately 500,000.42 By having two legislative districts, each of them with one
congressman, Cagayan de Oro now effectively has two congressmen, each one representation for every province regardless of the size of its population. To ensure
representing 250,000 of the city’s population. In terms of services for city residents, quality representation through commonality of interests and ease of access by the
this easily means better access to their congressman since each one now services representative to the constituents, all that the Constitution requires is that every
only 250,000 constituents as against the 500,000 he used to represent. The same legislative district should comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact, and
goes true for the Sangguniang Panglungsod with its ranks increased from 12 to 16 adjacent territory. Thus, the Constitution leaves the local government units as they
since each legislative district now has 8 councilors. In representation terms, the are found and does not require their division, merger or transfer to satisfy the
fewer constituents represented translate to a greater voice for each individual city numerical standard it imposes. Its requirements are satisfied despite some
resident in Congress and in the Sanggunian; each congressman and each councilor numerical disparity if the units are contiguous, compact and adjacent as far as
represents both a smaller area and fewer constituents whose fewer numbers are practicable.
now concentrated in each representative. The City, for its part, now has twice the
number of congressmen speaking for it and voting in the halls of Congress. Since The petitioner’s contention that there is a resulting inequality in the division of
the total number of congressmen in the country has not increased to the point of Cagayan de Oro City into two districts because the barangays in the first district are
doubling its numbers, the presence of two congressman (instead of one) from the mostly rural barangays while the second district is mostly urban, is largely
same city cannot Equality of representation. unsubstantiated. But even if backed up by proper proof, we cannot question the
division on the basis of the difference in the barangays’ levels of development or
The petitioner argues that the distribution of the legislative districts is unequal. developmental focus as these are not part of the constitutional standards for
District 1 has only 93,719 registered voters while District 2 has 127,071. District 1 is legislative apportionment or reapportionment.
composed mostly of rural barangays while District 2 is composed mostly of urban
barangays.43 Thus, R.A. No. 9371 violates the principle of equality of What the components of the two districts of Cagayan de Oro would be is a matter
representation. for the lawmakers to determine as a matter of policy. In the absence of any grave
abuse of discretion or violation of the established legal parameters, this Court
A clarification must be made. The law clearly provides that the basis for districting cannot intrude into the wisdom of these policies.47
shall be the number of the inhabitants of a city or a province, not the number of
registered voters therein. We settled this very same question in Herrera v. WHEREFORE, we hereby DISMISS the petition for lack of merit. Costs against the
COMELEC44 when we interpreted a provision in R.A. No. 7166 and COMELEC petitioner.
Resolution No. 2313 that applied to the Province of Guimaras. We categorically SO ORDERED.
ruled that the basis for districting is the number of inhabitants of the Province of
Guimaras by municipality based on the official 1995 Census of Population as
certified to by Tomas P. Africa, Administrator of the National Statistics Office.

The petitioner, unfortunately, did not provide information about the actual
population of Cagayan de Oro City. However, we take judicial notice of the August
2007 census of the National Statistics Office which shows that barangays comprising
Cagayan de Oro’s first district have a total population of 254,644, while the second
district has 299,322 residents. Undeniably, these figures show a disparity in the G.R. No. 155855. January 26, 2004.*
population sizes of the districts.45 The Constitution, however, does not require
mathematical exactitude or rigid equality as a standard in gauging equality of
representation.46 In fact, for cities, all it asks is that “each city with a population of
at least two hundred fifty thousand shall have one representative,” while ensuring
MA. SALVACION BUAC and ANTONIO BAUTISTA, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON the private interest of any individual. Such a determination does not contemplate
ELECTIONS and ALAN PETER S. CAYETANO, respondents, DANTE O. TINGA, SIGFRIDO the clash of private rights of individuals and hence cannot come under the
R. TINGA, MILAGROS VALENCIA-RODRIGUEZ, MARISSE BALINA-ERON, HENRY traditional jurisdiction of courts.
DUENAS, JR., ALLAN PAUL C. CRUZ, ARNEL M. CERAFICA, DELIO SANTOS, GAMALIEL
SAN PEDRO, ROBERTO DIONISIO, ELPIDIO JAVIER, HENDRY DUENAS, SR., NICANOR Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Actions; Words and Phrases; Section 19 (1)
GARCIA, PACIFICO SANTOS, RICARDO NATIVIDAD, GABRIEL VICTORIA, ROMEO G. and (6) of the Judiciary Reorganization Act (B.P. Bilang 129, as amended), refer to
SANTOS, GEORGE A. ELIAS, DANIEL VALDEZ, MARIANITO MIRANDA, ROLANDO C. civil cases or actions; A civil action is one by which a party sues another for the
PAAC, WILFREDO C. VILLAR, MENANDRO O. TINGA, JULIAN MARIATEGUI, enforcement or protection of a right or the prevention or redress of a wrong; The
BERNARDINO ELIAS, HERMINIA C. PEREZ and RICARDO J. JORDAN, petitioners-in- determination of the public will is a subject that does not fit the jurisdiction of civil
Intervention, RICARDO D. PAPA, JR., respondent-in-Intervention, ALAN PETER S. courts, for civil courts are established essentially to resolve controversies between
CAYETANO, respondent-in-Intervention. private persons.—If the determination of the result of a plebiscite is not fit for the
exercise of judicial power, the invocation of Section 19 of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended,
Election Law; Commission on Elections; Plebiscites; Courts; Judicial Power; otherwise known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act, is ineluctably errant, viz.: Sec.
Jurisdiction; A case assailing the regularity of the conduct of a plebiscite does not fit 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases.—Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
the kind of a case calling for the exercise of judicial power—it does not involve the jurisdiction: 1. In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of
violation of any legally demandable right and its enforcement.—The key to the case pecuniary estimation; x x x 6. In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any
at bar is its nature. The case at bar involves the determination of whether the court, tribunal, person or body exercising jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person
electorate of Taguig voted in favor of, or against the conversion of the municipality or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. There cannot be any bout
of Taguig into a highly urbanized city in the plebiscite conducted for the purpose. with doubt that the aforequoted provisions refer to civil cases or actions. A civil
Respondents submit that the regular courts of justice, more specifically, the action is one by which a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a
Regional Trial Court, has the jurisdiction to adjudicate any controversy concerning right or the prevention or redress of a wrong. As stressed above, a plebiscite
the conduct of said plebiscite. We hold that the invocation of judicial power to involves the expression of the public will on a public issue. The determination of the
settle disputes involving the conduct of a plebiscite is misplaced. Section 1, Article public will is a subject that does not fit the jurisdiction of civil courts, for civil courts
VIII of the Constitution defines judicial power as including “the duty of the courts of are established essentially to resolve controversies between private persons.
justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable
and enforceable and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; What grabs the eyeball is the intent of the
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or Constitution and election laws to subject only contests relating to the elections,
instrumentality of the Government.” According to Mr. Justice Isagani Cruz, “the first returns and qualifications of elected officials—from the barangay to the President
part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power involving of the Philippines—to the exercise of judicial or quasi-judicial powers of courts or
the settlement of conflicting rights as conferred by law.” The case at bar assailing administrative tribunals; The enforcement and administration of a law relative to a
the regularity of the conduct of the Taguig plebiscite does not fit the kind of a case plebiscite falls under the jurisdiction of the COMELEC under Section 2(1), Article IX
calling for the exercise of judicial power. It does not involve the violation of any (C) of the Constitution which gives it the power to enforce and administer all laws
legally demandable right and its enforcement. There is no plaintiff or defendant in and regulations relative to the conduct of a plebiscite.—What grabs the eyeball is
the case at bar for it merely involves the ascertainment of the vote of the electorate the intent of our Constitution and election laws to subject only contests relating to
of Taguig whether they approve or disapprove the conversion of their municipality the elections, returns and qualifications of elected officials—from the barangay to
to a highly urbanized city. There is no invocation of a private right conferred by law the President of the Philippines—to the exercise of judicial or quasi-judicial powers
that has been violated and which can be vindicated alone in our courts of justice in of courts or administrative tribunals. Contests which do not involve the election,
an adversarial proceeding. Rather, the issue in the case at bar is the determination returns and qualifications of elected officials are not subjected to the exercise of
of the sovereign decision of the electorate of Taguig. The purpose of this the judicial or quasi-judicial powers of courts or administrative agencies. Clearly,
determination is more to protect the sovereignty of the people and less to vindicate controversies concerning the conduct of a plebiscite appertain to this category. In
the case at bar, the conduct of the Taguig plebiscite is the core of the controversy. the COMELEC Order or Resolution. Congressman Cayetano himself admitted that he
This is a matter that involves the enforcement and administration of a law relative received a copy of the October 3, 2001 Resolution of the COMELEC 2nd Division on
to a plebiscite. It falls under the jurisdiction of the COMELEC under Section 2(1), October 9, 2001. The records show that it was only ten (10) days after said receipt,
Article IX (C) of the Constitution which gives it the power “to enforce and or on October 19, 2001, that private respondent Cayetano filed his undated and
administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of a x x x plebiscite x x x.” unverified Motion for Reconsideration. Clearly, the COMELEC 2nd Division had no
jurisdiction to entertain his Motion.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Another reason why the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to
resolve disputes involving plebiscite results should be upheld is that such a case
involves the appreciation of ballots which is best left to the COMELEC; This is the
first time that the COMELEC’s jurisdiction over a petition to annul the results of a CARPIO-MORALES, J., Dissenting:
plebiscite has been assailed and surprisingly, this is the first time that the COMELEC Election Law; Commission on Elections; Administrative Law; It is impermissible for a
has yielded its historic jurisdiction.—From our earliest Constitution and election petitioner to call on the COMELEC to exercise a function quasi-judicial in nature but
laws, the conduct of plebiscite and determination of its result have always been the invoke a constitutionally-vested administrative power as legal basis thereof.—The
business of the COMELEC and not the regular courts. If the COMELEC has no grounds petitioners and petitioner-intervenors are raising, however—fraud,
jurisdiction over this matter, our laws would have been amended to that effect. anomalies and irregularities that attended the balloting and canvassing alleged to
There is another reason why the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to resolve disputes have seriously affected the results of the plebiscite—are similar to the grounds
involving plebiscite results should be upheld. Such a case involves the appreciation raised in an election contest. Petitioners and petitioner-intervenors are thus asking
of ballots which is best left to the COMELEC. As an independent constitutional body the COMELEC to exercise a function similar to what it exercises in election protests.
exclusively charged with the power of enforcement and administration of all laws The Constitution provides, however, that election protests are governed by Section
and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, 2(2) of Article IX-C—a quasi-judicial power of the COMELEC. Ergo, petitioners and
referendum and recall, the COMELEC has the indisputable expertise in the field of petitioner-intervenors call on the COMELEC to exercise a function quasi-judicial in
election and related laws. Consequently, we should be extra cautious in delimiting nature but invoke a constitutionally-vested administrative power as legal basis
the parameters of the COMELEC’s broad powers. We should give the thereof. This is impermissible. It bears emphasis that Section 2(2) of Article IX-C of
COMELEC enough latitude in the exercise of its expertise, for to straightjacket its the Constitution can neither be applied to the petition for revision and recount of
discretion in the enforcement and administration of laws relating to the conduct of plebiscite votes, for the Constitution expressly enunciates the quasi-judicial power
election, plebiscite or referendum may render it impotent. This is the first time that of the COMELEC as covering the exercise of exclusive original jurisdiction over all
the COMELEC’s jurisdiction over a petition to annul the results of a plebiscite has contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional,
been assailed and surprisingly, this is the first time that the COMELEC has yielded its provincial and city officials appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective
historic jurisdiction. More inexplicable is the inconsistent stance of the COMELEC on municipal official decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, involving elective
the issue. As stressed by the petitioners, the COMELEC assumed jurisdiction over barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. To extend by
the case assailing the result of the Malolos plebiscite. In the case at bar, it refused implication the jurisdiction to plebiscite results violates the clear provision of the
to exercise jurisdiction. Constitution.

Same; Same; Motions for Reconsideration; Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules Same; Same; Same; Courts; Judicial Power; Since neither the Constitution nor any
of Procedure provides that a motion for reconsideration should be filed within five law confers upon the COMELEC the jurisdiction to order the revision and recount of
(5) days from receipt of the COMELEC Order or Resolution.—Finally, it appears that ballots in plebiscites or any contests arising from plebiscite results, it is the judicial
the Motion for Reconsideration of private respondent Congressman Cayetano was branch that can take cognizance thereof.—In Lopez v. Roxas, this Court held that the
filed out of time. Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides Constitution vests the entirety of judicial power in the judicial branch “except only
that a motion for reconsideration should be filed within five (5) days from receipt of so much as the Constitution confers upon some other agency” in which case said
agency would be exercising quasi-judicial power. Consequently, where the power
has not been expressly delegated by either the law or the Constitution to “some plebiscite results in the event that they involve a nationwide plebiscite, it should be
other agency,” the same remains lodged with the judicial branch. Since neither the stressed that the present petition accentuates the present gap in the law as neither
Constitution nor any law confers upon the COMELEC the jurisdiction to order the the Constitution nor legislation provides which court or body has jurisdiction over
revision and recount of ballots in plebiscites or any contests arising from plebiscite said controversy. Recognizing such gap in the law, however, does not empower the
results, it is the judicial branch that can take cognizance thereof. judiciary to fill it in without committing judicial legislation.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Whether there was fraud or there were
anomalies or irregularities is a legal question which is determinable by a judicial or
quasi-judicial body calling for the exercise of judicial power or quasi-judicial power CARPIO, J., Dissenting:
as the case may be.—Not only by analogy with election contests can it be Election Law; Commission on Elections; Jurisdiction; The COMELEC can exercise its
concluded that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over controversies involving quasi-judicial jurisdiction only if there is an election contest involving an elective
plebiscites. The case at bar does not simply involve “the determination of whether official.—The COMELEC can exercise its quasi-judicial jurisdiction only if there is an
the electorate of Taguig voted in favor of, or against the conversion of the election contest involving an elective official. A plebiscite on whether a municipality
municipality of Taguig into a highly urbanized city” as seen by the majority. For should become a city does not involve the election into public office of any official.
petitioners are alleging that there have been fraud, anomalies and irregularities in Such a plebiscite does not involve any election contest as no one is running for any
the balloting and counting. Whether there was fraud or there were anomalies or public office. Thus, the COMELEC has no quasi-judicial jurisdiction over any dispute
irregularities is a legal question which is determinable by a judicial or quasi-judicial involving the results of such plebiscite.
body calling for the exercise of judicial power or quasi-judicial power as the case
may be. Same; Same; Same; The COMELEC’s power to enforce and administer all laws
relative to the conduct of plebiscite does not include any quasi-judicial power.—The
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The exercise of the right of the electorate of a distinction between the administrative powers and quasi-judicial jurisdiction of the
particular locality to vote in a plebiscite to convert their municipality into a city COMELEC extends to the conduct of plebiscites. The COMELEC’s power to “enforce
would be futile if it does not come with the concurrent right to a canvass free from and administer all laws relative to the conduct x x x of x x x plebiscite” does not
fraud, anomalies and irregularities, and if said right is alleged to have been include any quasi-judicial power. Any question on the validity of the plebiscite, or
impaired, then there exists a controversy which calls for the exercise of judicial any dispute on the results of the plebiscite, falls within the general jurisdiction of
power.—The majority also view the case as not calling for the exercise of judicial regular trial courts. Thus, in Salva v. Makalintal, this Court ruled: x x x We agree with
power as it does not involve violation of any legally demandable and enforceable the Solicitor General that “. . . . [t]he issuance of [COMELEC] Resolution No. 2987 is
right nor the protection of the private interest of any individual and does not thus a ministerial duty of the COMELEC that is enjoined by law and is part and
contemplate the clash of contending private parties. I beg to differ. The Taguig parcel of its administrative functions. It involves no exercise of discretionary
electorate, being directly affected by the proposed conversion into cityhood, has authority on the part of respondent COMELEC; let alone an exercise of its
the constitutionally vested right to vote in said plebiscite. The exercise of such right adjudicatory or quasi-judicial power to hear and resolve controversies defining the
would be futile if it does not come with the concurrent right to a canvass free from rights and duties of party-litigants, relative to the conduct of elections of public
fraud, anomalies and irregularities. As said right is alleged to have been impaired, officers and the enforcement of the election laws.” (Citation omitted.) Briefly,
as in the case at bar, then there exists a controversy which calls for the exercise of COMELEC Resolution No. 2987 which provides for the rules and regulations
judicial power. governing the conduct of the required plebiscite, was not issued pursuant to the
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Judicial Legislation; Statutory Construction; COMELEC’s quasi-judicial functions but merely as an incident of its inherent
Recognizing a gap in the law does not empower the judiciary to fill it in without administrative functions over the conduct of plebiscites, thus, the said resolution
committing judicial legislation.—As to the apparent fear of “jumbled justice” that may not be deemed as a “final order” reviewable by certiorari by this Court. Any
may result in giving the Regional Trial Courts jurisdiction over petitions to annul question pertaining to the validity of said resolution may be well taken in an
ordinary civil action before the trial courts. (Emphasis supplied)
Same; Same; Same; Courts; Actions; An action to annul the results of a plebiscite is case was docketed as an election protest and raffled to the COMELEC Second
one incapable of pecuniary estimation, just like an action to declare the Division.2
unconstitutionality of a law, and, under Section 19(1) and (6) of the Judiciary
Reorganization Act, expressly falls under the exclusive original jurisdiction of Private respondent Cayetano intervened and moved to dismiss the petition on the
Regional Trial Courts.—An action to annul the results of a plebiscite is one ground of lack of jurisdiction of the COMELEC. He claimed that a plebiscite cannot
incapable of pecuniary estimation, just like an action to declare the be the subject of an election protest. He averred that the jurisdiction to hear a
unconstitutionality of a law. Moreover, an action to annul the results of a plebiscite complaint involving the conduct of a plebiscite is lodged with the Regional Trial
does not fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the COMELEC in the exercise of its Court (RTC).3
quasi-judicial functions. Thus, under Section 19(1) and (6) of the Judiciary The COMELEC Second Division initially gave due course to the petition and ruled
Reorganization Act, such action expressly falls under the exclusive original that it has jurisdiction over the case. It treated the petition as akin to an election
jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts. protest considering that the
Same; Same; Same; Same; It is the law that confers jurisdiction, not experience,
practice or tradition.—The argument that Regional Trial Courts have no experience
in the revision of ballots does not hold water. Regional Trial Courts exercise same allegations of fraud and irregularities in the casting and counting of ballots
exclusive original jurisdiction over election contests involving elective municipal and preparation of returns are the same grounds for assailing the results of an
officials. Regional Trial Courts also exercise appellate jurisdiction over election election. It then ordered the Taguig ballot boxes to be brought to its Manila office
contests involving elective barangay officials. Besides, it is the law that confers and created revision committees to revise and recount the plebiscite ballots.4
jurisdiction, not experience, practice or tradition.
In an unverified motion, intervenor Cayetano moved for reconsideration of the
COMELEC Order insisting that it has no jurisdiction to hear and decide a petition
contesting the results of a plebiscite.
PUNO, J.:
In a complete turnaround, the COMELEC 2nd Division issued an Order on
This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by petitioners Ma. Salvacion November 29, 2001 granting the Motion for Reconsideration. It dismissed the
Buac and Antonio Bautista assailing the October 28, 2002 en banc Resolution of the petition to annul the results of the Taguig plebiscite and ruled that the COMELEC
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) which held that it has no jurisdiction over has no jurisdiction over said case as it involves an exercise of quasi-judicial powers
controversies involving the conduct of plebiscite and the annulment of its result. not contemplated under Section 2 (2), Article IX (C) of the 1987 Constitution.5
The facts show that in April, 1988, a plebiscite was held in Taguig for the ratification On appeal, the COMELEC en banc affirmed the ruling of its 2nd Division. It held that
of the Taguig Cityhood Law (Republic Act No. 8487) proposing the conversion of the COMELEC cannot use its power to enforce and administer all laws relative to
Taguig from a municipality into a city. Without completing the canvass of sixty-four plebiscites as this power is purely administrative or executive and not quasi-judicial
(64) other election returns, the Plebiscite Board of Canvassers declared that the in nature. It concluded that the jurisdiction over the petition to annul the Taguig
“NO” votes won and that the people rejected the conversion of Taguig to a city. plebiscite results is lodged with the RTC under Section 19 (6) of Batas Pambansa
The Board of Canvassers was, however, ordered by the COMELEC en banc to Blg. 129 which provides that the RTC shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in
reconvene and complete the canvass. The Board did and in due time issued an cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court or body exercising judicial or
Order proclaiming that the negative votes prevailed in the plebiscite conducted. quasi-judicial functions.6

Forthwith, petitioners filed with the COMELEC a petition to annul1 the results of Hence this petition.
the plebiscite with a prayer for revision and recount of the ballots cast therein. They
alleged that fraud and irregularities attended the casting and counting of votes. The
Petitioners Ma. Salvacion Buac and Antonio Bautista reiterate their submission that and which can be vindicated alone in our courts of justice in an adversarial
jurisdiction to decide plebiscite protest cases is constitutionally vested with the proceeding. Rather, the issue in the case at bar is the determination of the
COMELEC. They likewise claim that the impugned Order is discriminatory as during sovereign decision of the electorate of Taguig. The purpose of this determination is
the pendency of the Taguig case, the COMELEC assumed jurisdiction over a similar more to protect the sovereignty of the people and less to vindicate the private
case concerning the revision and recount of the plebiscite ballots involving the interest of any individual. Such a determination does not contemplate the clash of
conversion of Malolos into a city. The COMELEC resolved said case and already private rights of individuals and hence cannot come under the traditional
declared Malolos a city. jurisdiction of courts.

Respondents contend that there is no such action as a plebiscite protest under the Second. If the determination of the result of a plebiscite is not fit for the exercise of
Constitution, the laws and the COMELEC rules as they provided only for election judicial power, the invocation of Section 19 of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, otherwise
protests; the quasi-judicial jurisdiction of the COMELEC over election contests known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act, is ineluctably errant, viz.:
extends only to cases enumerated in Section 2 (2), Article IX (C) of the Constitution,
which does not include controversies over plebiscite results; and, even if the Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases.—Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive
petition to annul plebiscite results is akin to an election protest, it is the RTC that original jurisdiction:
has jurisdiction over election protests involving municipal officials, and the 1. In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary
COMELEC has only appellate jurisdiction in said cases. estimation;
The petition is impressed with merit. xxx
First. The key to the case at bar is its nature. The case at bar involves the 6. In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or
determination of whether the electorate of Taguig voted in favor of, or against the body exercising jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or body exercising judicial
conversion of the municipality of Taguig into a highly urbanized city in the plebiscite or quasi-judicial functions.
conducted for the purpose. Respondents submit that the regular courts of justice,
more specifically, the Regional Trial Court, has the jurisdiction to adjudicate any There cannot be any bout with doubt that the aforequoted provisions refer to civil
controversy concerning the conduct of said plebiscite. We hold that the invocation cases or actions. A civil action is one by which a party sues another for the
of judicial power to settle disputes involving the conduct of a plebiscite is enforcement or protection of a right or the prevention or redress of a wrong.8 As
misplaced. Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution defines judicial power as stressed above, a plebiscite involves the expression of the public will on a public
including “the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving issue. The determination of the public will is a subject that does not fit the
rights which are legally demandable and enforceable and to determine whether or jurisdiction of civil courts, for civil courts are established essentially to resolve
not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of controversies between private persons.9
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.”
According to Mr. Justice Isagani Cruz, “the first part of the authority represents the The case of Salva v. Macalintal10 does not support the overarching thesis that “any
traditional concept of judicial power involving the settlement of conflicting rights as question on the validity of plebiscite, or any dispute on the result of the plebiscite
conferred by law.”7 The case at bar assailing the regularity of the conduct of the falls within the general jurisdiction of regular trial courts.” Looking at it with clear
Taguig plebiscite does not fit the kind of a case calling for the exercise of judicial eyes, Salva resolved the validity, not of a plebiscite or its result, but of a provision in
power. It does not involve the violation of any legally demandable right and its the rules and regulations issued by the COMELEC governing the conduct of a
enforcement. There is no plaintiff or defendant in the case at bar for it merely plebiscite.
involves the ascertainment of the vote of the electorate of Taguig whether they
Third. To grant the RTC jurisdiction over petitions to annul plebiscite results can
approve or disapprove the conversion of their municipality to a highly urbanized
lead to jumbled justice. Consider for instance where the plebiscite is national as it
city. There is no invocation of a private right conferred by law that has been violated
deals with the ratification of a proposed amendment to our Constitution. Snap
thinking will tell us that it should be the COMELEC that should have jurisdiction over Fifth. The Court agrees with the following submissions of the Solicitor General, viz.:
a petition to annul its results. If jurisdiction is given to the regular courts, the result
will not enhance the orderly administration of justice. Any regional trial court from xxx
every nook and corner of the country will have jurisdiction over a petition There can hardly be any doubt that the test and intent of the constitutional grant of
questioning the results of a nationwide plebiscite. Bearing in mind that the powers to the COMELEC is to give it all the necessary and incidental powers for it to
jurisdiction of these courts is limited only within their respective judicial regions, achieve the holding of free, orderly, honest and peaceful and credible elections
the difficulties that will attend their exercise of jurisdiction would be many if not [Maruhom v. COMELEC, 331 SCRA 473 (2000)]. Hence, the all encompassing power
unmanageable. endowed the COMELEC to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative
Fourth. An eye contact with our Constitution and related laws will reveal that only to the conduct of an election (or plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall)
contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of elected officials are includes the power to cancel proclamations [Nolasco v. COMELEC, 275 SCRA 762
subject to the exercise of judicial power of our courts or quasi-judicial power of our (1997)]. The COMELEC also has the power to supervise and control the proceedings
administrative agencies, thus: (a) contests involving elective municipal officials are of the board of canvassers, suspend and/or annul illegal and void proclamations,
tried and decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, while those involving declare a failure of elections and promulgate rules and regulations concerning the
barangay officials are tried and decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction; in both conduct of elections.
cases, however, the COMELEC exercises appellate jurisdiction; (b) contests involving While the jurisdiction of the COMELEC is most commonly invoked over popular
all elective regional, provincial and city officials fall within the exclusive original elections—that which involves the choice or selection of candidates to public office
jurisdiction of the COMELEC in the exercise of its quasi-judicial power; (c) contests by popular vote, the same may likewise be invoked in connection with the conduct
involving members of the House of Representatives fall within the exclusive original of plebiscite.
jurisdiction of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal in the exercise of
quasi-judicial power; (d) contests involving members of the Senate fall within the In the present case, petitioners filed a petition for revision of ballots cast in a
exclusive original jurisdiction of the Senate Electoral Tribunal in the exercise of plebiscite. The COMELEC dismissed the petition on the ground that it has no
quasi-judicial power; and, (e) contests involving the President and the Vice jurisdiction over the petition considering that the issue
President fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral
Tribunal, also in the exercise of quasi-judicial power. COMELEC’s claim that the petition for revision of ballots is cognizable by the
Regional Trial Courts pursuant to Section 19 (6) of the Judiciary Reorganization Act
What grabs the eyeball is the intent of our Constitution and election laws to subject of 1980 which provides that “Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
only contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of elected officials jurisdiction x x x in cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal,
—from the barangay to the President of the Philippines—to the exercise of judicial person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions” lacks merit. To repeat,
or quasi-judicial powers of courts or administrative tribunals. Contests which do not the power to ascertain the true results of the plebiscite is necessarily included in
involve the election, returns and qualifications of elected officials are not subjected the power to enforce all laws relative to the conduct of plebiscite.11
to the exercise of the judicial or quasi-judicial powers of courts or administrative
agencies. Clearly, controversies concerning the conduct of a plebiscite appertain to Sixth. From our earliest Constitution and election laws, the conduct of plebiscite
this category. In the case at bar, the conduct of the Taguig plebiscite is the core of and determination of its result have always been the business of the COMELEC and
the controversy. This is a matter that involves the enforcement and administration not the regular courts. If the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over this matter, our laws
of a law relative to a plebiscite. It falls under the jurisdiction of the COMELEC under would have been amended to that effect. There is another reason why the
Section 2(1), Article IX (C) of the Constitution which gives it the power “to enforce jurisdiction of the COMELEC to resolve disputes involving plebiscite results should
and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of a x x x plebiscite x be upheld. Such a case involves the appreciation of ballots which is best left to the
x x.” COMELEC. As an independent constitutional body exclusively charged with the
power of enforcement and administration of all laws and regulations relative to the
conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall, the COMELEC
has the indisputable expertise in the field of election and related laws.
Consequently, we should be extra cautious in delimiting the parameters of the
COMELEC’s broad powers. We should give the COMELEC enough latitude in the
exercise of its expertise, for to straightjacket its discretion in the enforcement and
administration of laws relating to the conduct of election, plebiscite or referendum
may render it impotent. This is the first time that the COMELEC’s jurisdiction over a
petition to annul the results of a plebiscite has been assailed and surprisingly, this is
the first time that the COMELEC has yielded its historic jurisdiction. More
inexplicable is the inconsistent stance of the COMELEC on the issue. As stressed by
the petitioners, the COMELEC assumed jurisdiction over the case assailing the result
of the Malolos plebiscite. In the case at bar, it refused to exercise jurisdiction.

Seventh. Finally, it appears that the Motion for Reconsideration of private


respondent Congressman Cayetano was filed out of time. Section 2, Rule 19 of the
COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides that a motion for reconsideration should be
filed within five (5) days from receipt of the COMELEC Order or Resolution.
Congressman Cayetano himself admitted12 that he received a copy of the October
3, 2001 Resolution of the COMELEC 2nd Division on October 9, 2001. The records
show that it was only ten (10) days after said receipt, or on October 19, 2001, that
private respondent Cayetano filed his undated and unverified Motion for
Reconsideration. Clearly, the COMELEC 2nd Division had no jurisdiction to entertain
his Motion.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The COMELEC is directed to reinstate


the petition to annul the results of the 1998 Taguig plebiscite and to decide it
without delay.

SO ORDERED.