EN BANC

 

 

 

LOUIS BAROK C. BIRAOGO,

Petitioner,

 

- versus -

 

THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010,

Respondent.

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

REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN,

REP. RODOLFO B. ALBANO, JR., REP. SIMEON A. DATUMANONG, and REP. ORLANDO B. FUA, SR.,

Petitioners,

 

 

 

- versus -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR. and DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT SECRETARY FLORENCIO B. ABAD,

Respondents.

 

G.R. No. 192935

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 193036

 

Present:

 

CORONA, C.J.,

CARPIO,

CARPIO MORALES,

VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

BRION,

PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,

ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

PEREZ,

MENDOZA, and

SERENO, JJ.

 

Promulgated:

 

December 7, 2010

 

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

 

 

 

D E C I S I O N

 

MENDOZA, J.:

 

When the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.

 

--- Justice Jose P. Laurel[1]

The role of the Constitution cannot be overlooked. It is through the Constitution that the fundamental powers of government are established, limited and defined, and by which these powers are distributed among the several departments.[2] The Constitution is the basic and paramount law to which all other laws must conform and to which all persons, including the highest officials of the land, must defer.[3] Constitutional doctrines must remain steadfast no matter what may be the tides of time. It cannot be simply made to sway and accommodate the call of situations and much more tailor itself to the whims and caprices of government and the people who run it.[4]

 

For consideration before the Court are two consolidated cases[5] both of which essentially assail the validity and constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1, dated July 30, 2010, entitled Creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010.

 

 

The first case is G.R. No. 192935, a special civil action for prohibition instituted by petitioner Louis Biraogo (Biraogo) in his capacity as a citizen and taxpayer. Biraogo assails Executive Order No. 1 for being violative of the legislative power of Congress under Section 1, Article VI of the Constitution[6] as it usurps the constitutional authority of the legislature to create a public office and to appropriate funds therefor.[7]

 

The second case, G.R. No. 193036, is a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioners Edcel C. Lagman, Rodolfo B. Albano Jr., Simeon A. Datumanong, and Orlando B. Fua, Sr. (petitioners-legislators) as incumbent members of the House of Representatives.

 

The genesis of the foregoing cases can be traced to the events prior to the historic May 2010 elections, when then Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III declared his staunch condemnation of graft and corruption with his slogan, Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. The Filipino people, convinced of his sincerity and of his ability to carry out this noble objective, catapulted the good senator to the presidency.

 

To transform his campaign slogan into reality, President Aquino found a need for a special body to investigate reported cases of graft and corruption allegedly committed during the previous administration.

 

Thus, at the dawn of his administration, the President on July 30, 2010, signed Executive Order No. 1 establishing the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 (Truth Commission). Pertinent provisions of said executive order read:

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 1

 

CREATING THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010

 

WHEREAS, Article XI, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines solemnly enshrines the principle that a public office is a public trust and mandates that public officers and employees, who are servants of the people, must at all times be accountable to the latter, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives;

 

WHEREAS, corruption is among the most despicable acts of defiance of this principle and notorious violation of this mandate;

 

WHEREAS, corruption is an evil and scourge which seriously affects the political, economic, and social life of a nation; in a very special way it inflicts untold misfortune and misery on the poor, the marginalized and underprivileged sector of society;

 

WHEREAS, corruption in the Philippines has reached very alarming levels, and undermined the peoples trust and confidence in the Government and its institutions;

 

WHEREAS, there is an urgent call for the determination of the truth regarding certain reports of large scale graft and corruption in the government and to put a closure to them by the filing of the appropriate cases against those involved, if warranted, and to deter others from committing the evil, restore the peoples faith and confidence in the Government and in their public servants;

 

WHEREAS, the Presidents battlecry during his campaign for the Presidency in the last elections kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap expresses a solemn pledge that if elected, he would end corruption and the evil it breeds;

 

WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the offenders and secure justice for all;

WHEREAS, Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Revised Administrative Code of the Philippines, gives the President the continuing authority to reorganize the Office of the President.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby order:

 

SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter referred to as the COMMISSION, which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.

The Commission shall be composed of a Chairman and four (4) members who will act as an independent collegial body.

 

SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation of reported cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and thereafter submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman.

In particular, it shall:

 

a)      Identify and determine the reported cases of such graft and corruption which it will investigate;

 

b)      Collect, receive, review and evaluate evidence related to or regarding the cases of large scale corruption which it has chosen to investigate, and to this end require any agency, official or employee of the Executive Branch, including government-owned or controlled corporations, to produce documents, books, records and other papers;

 

c)      Upon proper request or representation, obtain information and documents from the Senate and the House of Representatives records of investigations conducted by committees thereof relating to matters or subjects being investigated by the Commission;

 

d)      Upon proper request and representation, obtain information from the courts, including the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Court Administrator, information or documents in respect to corruption cases filed with the Sandiganbayan or the regular courts, as the case may be;

 

e)      Invite or subpoena witnesses and take their testimonies and for that purpose, administer oaths or affirmations as the case may be;

 

f)       Recommend, in cases where there is a need to utilize any person as a state witness to ensure that the ends of justice be fully served, that such person who qualifies as a state witness under the Revised Rules of Court of the Philippines be admitted for that purpose;

 

g)      Turn over from time to time, for expeditious prosecution, to the appropriate prosecutorial authorities, by means of a special or interim report and recommendation, all evidence on corruption of public officers and employees and their private sector co-principals, accomplices or accessories, if any, when in the course of its investigation the Commission finds that there is reasonable ground to believe that they are liable for graft and corruption under pertinent applicable laws;

 

h)      Call upon any government investigative or prosecutorial agency such as the Department of Justice or any of the agencies under it, and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, for such assistance and cooperation as it may require in the discharge of its functions and duties;

 

i)        Engage or contract the services of resource persons, professionals and other personnel determined by it as necessary to carry out its mandate;

 

j)        Promulgate its rules and regulations or rules of procedure it deems necessary to effectively and efficiently carry out the objectives of this Executive Order and to ensure the orderly conduct of its investigations, proceedings and hearings, including the presentation of evidence;

 

k)      Exercise such other acts incident to or are appropriate and necessary in connection with the objectives and purposes of this Order.

SECTION 3. Staffing Requirements. x x x.

 

SECTION 4. Detail of Employees. x x x.

SECTION 5. Engagement of Experts. x x x

 

SECTION 6. Conduct of Proceedings. x x x.

SECTION 7. Right to Counsel of Witnesses/Resource Persons. x x x.

SECTION 8. Protection of Witnesses/Resource Persons. x x x.

SECTION 9. Refusal to Obey Subpoena, Take Oath or Give Testimony. Any government official or personnel who, without lawful excuse, fails to appear upon subpoena issued by the Commission or who, appearing before the Commission refuses to take oath or affirmation, give testimony or produce documents for inspection, when required, shall be subject to administrative disciplinary action. Any private person who does the same may be dealt with in accordance with law.

SECTION 10. Duty to Extend Assistance to the Commission. x x x.

SECTION 11. Budget for the Commission. The Office of the President shall provide the necessary funds for the Commission to ensure that it can exercise its powers, execute its functions, and perform its duties and responsibilities as effectively, efficiently, and expeditiously as possible.

SECTION 12. Office. x x x.

 

SECTION 13. Furniture/Equipment. x x x.

 

SECTION 14. Term of the Commission. The Commission shall accomplish its mission on or before December 31, 2012.

 

SECTION 15. Publication of Final Report. x x x.

 

SECTION 16. Transfer of Records and Facilities of the Commission. x x x.

 

SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to expand the mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of graft and corruption during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a supplemental Executive Order.

 

 

 

SECTION 18. Separability Clause. If any provision of this Order is declared unconstitutional, the same shall not affect the validity and effectivity of the other provisions hereof.

 

SECTION 19. Effectivity. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

 

DONE in the City of Manila, Philippines, this 30th day of July 2010.

 

(SGD.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III

 

By the President:

 

(SGD.) PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.

Executive Secretary

 

Nature of the Truth Commission

 

As can be gleaned from the above-quoted provisions, the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) is a mere ad hoc body formed under the Office of the President with the primary task to investigate reports of graft and corruption committed by third-level public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories during the previous administration, and thereafter to submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. Though it has been described as an independent collegial body, it is essentially an entity within the Office of the President Proper and subject to his control. Doubtless, it constitutes a public office, as an ad hoc body is one.[8]

 

To accomplish its task, the PTC shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987. It is not, however, a quasi-judicial body as it cannot adjudicate, arbitrate, resolve, settle, or render awards in disputes between contending parties. All it can do is gather, collect and assess evidence of graft and corruption and make recommendations. It may have subpoena powers but it has no power to cite people in contempt, much less order their arrest. Although it is a fact-finding body, it cannot determine from such facts if probable cause exists as to warrant the filing of an information in our courts of law. Needless to state, it cannot impose criminal, civil or administrative penalties or sanctions.

The PTC is different from the truth commissions in other countries which have been created as official, transitory and non-judicial fact-finding bodies to establish the facts and context of serious violations of human rights or of international humanitarian law in a countrys past.[9] They are usually established by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil strife or authoritarianism to serve as mechanisms for transitional justice.

 

Truth commissions have been described as bodies that share the following characteristics: (1) they examine only past events; (2) they investigate patterns of abuse committed over a period of time, as opposed to a particular event; (3) they are temporary bodies that finish their work with the submission of a report containing conclusions and recommendations; and (4) they are officially sanctioned, authorized or empowered by the State.[10] Commissions members are usually empowered to conduct research, support victims, and propose policy recommendations to prevent recurrence of crimes. Through their investigations, the commissions may aim to discover and learn more about past abuses, or formally acknowledge them. They may aim to prepare the way for prosecutions and recommend institutional reforms.[11]

 

Thus, their main goals range from retribution to reconciliation. The Nuremburg and Tokyo war crime tribunals are examples of a retributory or vindicatory body set up to try and punish those responsible for crimes against humanity. A form of a reconciliatory tribunal is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, the principal function of which was to heal the wounds of past violence and to prevent future conflict by providing a cathartic experience for victims.

 

The PTC is a far cry from South Africas model. The latter placed more emphasis on reconciliation than on judicial retribution, while the marching order of the PTC is the identification and punishment of perpetrators. As one writer[12] puts it:

 

The order ruled out reconciliation. It translated the Draconian code spelled out by Aquino in his inaugural speech: To those who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: There can be no reconciliation without justice. When we allow crimes to go unpunished, we give consent to their occurring over and over again.

 

The Thrusts of the Petitions

 

Barely a month after the issuance of Executive Order No. 1, the petitioners asked the Court to declare it unconstitutional and to enjoin the PTC from performing its functions. A perusal of the arguments of the petitioners in both cases shows that they are essentially the same. The petitioners-legislators summarized them in the following manner:

 

(a) E.O. No. 1 violates the separation of powers as it arrogates the power of the Congress to create a public office and appropriate funds for its operation.

 

(b) The provision of Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987 cannot legitimize E.O. No. 1 because the delegated authority of the President to structurally reorganize the Office of the President to achieve economy, simplicity and efficiency does not include the power to create an entirely new public office which was hitherto inexistent like the Truth Commission.

 

(c) E.O. No. 1 illegally amended the Constitution and pertinent statutes when it vested the Truth Commission with quasi-judicial powers duplicating, if not superseding, those of the Office of the Ombudsman created under the 1987 Constitution and the Department of Justice created under the Administrative Code of 1987.

 

(d) E.O. No. 1 violates the equal protection clause as it selectively targets for investigation and prosecution officials and personnel of the previous administration as if corruption is their peculiar species even as it excludes those of the other administrations, past and present, who may be indictable.

 

(e) The creation of the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 violates the consistent and general international practice of four decades wherein States constitute truth commissions to exclusively investigate human rights violations, which customary practice forms part of the generally accepted principles of international law which the Philippines is mandated to adhere to pursuant to the Declaration of Principles enshrined in the Constitution.

 

(f) The creation of the Truth Commission is an exercise in futility, an adventure in partisan hostility, a launching pad for trial/conviction by publicity and a mere populist propaganda to mistakenly impress the people that widespread poverty will altogether vanish if corruption is eliminated without even addressing the other major causes of poverty.

 

(g) The mere fact that previous commissions were not constitutionally challenged is of no moment because neither laches nor estoppel can bar an eventual question on the constitutionality and validity of an executive issuance or even a statute.[13]

 

 

In their Consolidated Comment,[14] the respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), essentially questioned the legal standing of petitioners and defended the assailed executive order with the following arguments:

 

1] E.O. No. 1 does not arrogate the powers of Congress to create a public office because the Presidents executive power and power of control necessarily include the inherent power to conduct investigations to ensure that laws are faithfully executed and that, in any event, the Constitution, Revised Administrative Code of 1987 (E.O. No. 292), [15] Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1416[16] (as amended by P.D. No. 1772), R.A. No. 9970,[17] and settled jurisprudence that authorize the President to create or form such bodies.

 

2] E.O. No. 1 does not usurp the power of Congress to appropriate funds because there is no appropriation but a mere allocation of funds already appropriated by Congress.

 

3] The Truth Commission does not duplicate or supersede the functions of the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), because it is a fact-finding body and not a quasi-judicial body and its functions do not duplicate, supplant or erode the latters jurisdiction.

 

4] The Truth Commission does not violate the equal protection clause because it was validly created for laudable purposes.

 

 

The OSG then points to the continued existence and validity of other executive orders and presidential issuances creating similar bodies to justify the creation of the PTC such as Presidential Complaint and Action Commission (PCAC) by President Ramon B. Magsaysay, Presidential Committee on Administrative Performance Efficiency (PCAPE) by President Carlos P. Garcia and Presidential Agency on Reform and Government Operations (PARGO) by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.[18]

From the petitions, pleadings, transcripts, and memoranda, the following are the principal issues to be resolved:

 

1.                           Whether or not the petitioners have the legal standing to file their respective petitions and question Executive Order No. 1;

 

2.                           Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 violates the principle of separation of powers by usurping the powers of Congress to create and to appropriate funds for public offices, agencies and commissions;

3. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 supplants the powers of the Ombudsman and the DOJ;

 

4. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 violates the equal protection clause; and

 

5. Whether or not petitioners are entitled to injunctive relief.

 

Essential requisites for judicial review

 

Before proceeding to resolve the issue of the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1, the Court needs to ascertain whether the requisites for a valid exercise of its power of judicial review are present.

 

Like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, the power of judicial review is subject to limitations, to wit: (1) there must be an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have the standing to question the validity of the subject act or issuance; otherwise stated, he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.[19]

 

Among all these limitations, only the legal standing of the petitioners has been put at issue.

 

Legal Standing of the Petitioners

 

The OSG attacks the legal personality of the petitioners-legislators to file their petition for failure to demonstrate their personal stake in the outcome of the case. It argues that the petitioners have not shown that they have sustained or are in danger of sustaining any personal injury attributable to the creation of the PTC. Not claiming to be the subject of the commissions investigations, petitioners will not sustain injury in its creation or as a result of its proceedings.[20]

 

The Court disagrees with the OSG in questioning the legal standing of the petitioners-legislators to assail Executive Order No. 1. Evidently, their petition primarily invokes usurpation of the power of the Congress as a body to which they belong as members. This certainly justifies their resolve to take the cudgels for Congress as an institution and present the complaints on the usurpation of their power and rights as members of the legislature before the Court. As held in Philippine Constitution Association v. Enriquez,[21]

 

To the extent the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution.

An act of the Executive which injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury, which can be questioned by a member of Congress. In such a case, any member of Congress can have a resort to the courts.

 

Indeed, legislators have a legal standing to see to it that the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in their office remain inviolate. Thus, they are allowed to question the validity of any official action which, to their mind, infringes on their prerogatives as legislators.[22]

 

With regard to Biraogo, the OSG argues that, as a taxpayer, he has no standing to question the creation of the PTC and the budget for its operations.[23] It emphasizes that the funds to be used for the creation and operation of the commission are to be taken from those funds already appropriated by Congress. Thus, the allocation and disbursement of funds for the commission will not entail congressional action but will simply be an exercise of the Presidents power over contingent funds.

 

As correctly pointed out by the OSG, Biraogo has not shown that he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any personal and direct injury attributable to the implementation of Executive Order No. 1. Nowhere in his petition is an assertion of a clear right that may justify his clamor for the Court to exercise judicial power and to wield the axe over presidential issuances in defense of the Constitution. The case of David v. Arroyo[24] explained the deep-seated rules on locus standi. Thus:

 

Locus standi is defined as a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question. In private suits, standing is governed by the real-parties-in interest rule as contained in Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. It provides that every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest. Accordingly, the real-party-in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Succinctly put, the plaintiffs standing is based on his own right to the relief sought.

 

 The difficulty of determining locus standi arises in public suits. Here, the plaintiff who asserts a public right in assailing an allegedly illegal official action, does so as a representative of the general public. He may be a person who is affected no differently from any other person. He could be suing as a stranger, or in the category of a citizen, or taxpayer. In either case, he has to adequately show that he is entitled to seek judicial protection. In other words, he has to make out a sufficient interest in the vindication of the public order and the securing of relief as a citizen or taxpayer.

 

Case law in most jurisdictions now allows both citizen and taxpayer standing in public actions. The distinction was first laid down in Beauchamp v. Silk, where it was held that the plaintiff in a taxpayers suit is in a different category from the plaintiff in a citizens suit. In the former, the plaintiff is affected by the expenditure of public funds, while in the latter, he is but the mere instrument of the public concern. As held by the New York Supreme Court in People ex rel Case v. Collins: In matter of mere public right, howeverthe people are the real partiesIt is at least the right, if not the duty, of every citizen to interfere and see that a public offence be properly pursued and punished, and that a public grievance be remedied. With respect to taxpayers suits, Terr v. Jordan held that the right of a citizen and a taxpayer to maintain an action in courts to restrain the unlawful use of public funds to his injury cannot be denied.

 

However, to prevent just about any person from seeking judicial interference in any official policy or act with which he disagreed with, and thus hinders the activities of governmental agencies engaged in public service, the United State Supreme Court laid down the more stringent direct injury test in Ex Parte Levitt, later reaffirmed in Tileston v. Ullman. The same Court ruled that for a private individual to invoke the judicial power to determine the validity of an executive or legislative action, he must show that he has sustained a direct injury as a result of that action, and it is not sufficient that he has a general interest common to all members of the public.

 

This Court adopted the direct injury test in our jurisdiction. In People v. Vera, it held that the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain direct injury as a result. The Vera doctrine was upheld in a litany of cases, such as, Custodio v. President of the Senate, Manila Race Horse Trainers Association v. De la Fuente, Pascual v. Secretary of Public Works and Anti-Chinese League of the Philippines v. Felix. [Emphases included. Citations omitted]

 

 

Notwithstanding, the Court leans on the doctrine that the rule on standing is a matter of procedure, hence, can be relaxed for nontraditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and legislators when the public interest so requires, such as when the matter is of transcendental importance, of overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest.[25]

 

Thus, in Coconut Oil Refiners Association, Inc. v. Torres,[26] the Court held that in cases of paramount importance where serious constitutional questions are involved, the standing requirements may be relaxed and a suit may be allowed to prosper even where there is no direct injury to the party claiming the right of judicial review. In the first Emergency Powers Cases,[27] ordinary citizens and taxpayers were allowed to question the constitutionality of several executive orders although they had only an indirect and general interest shared in common with the public.

 

The OSG claims that the determinants of transcendental importance[28] laid down in CREBA v. ERC and Meralco[29] are non-existent in this case. The Court, however, finds reason in Biraogos assertion that the petition covers matters of transcendental importance to justify the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court. There are constitutional issues in the petition which deserve the attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents. Where the issues are of transcendental and paramount importance not only to the public but also to the Bench and the Bar, they should be resolved for the guidance of all.[30] Undoubtedly, the Filipino people are more than interested to know the status of the Presidents first effort to bring about a promised change to the country. The Court takes cognizance of the petition not due to overwhelming political undertones that clothe the issue in the eyes of the public, but because the Court stands firm in its oath to perform its constitutional duty to settle legal controversies with overreaching significance to society.

 

Power of the President to Create the Truth Commission

 

In his memorandum in G.R. No. 192935, Biraogo asserts that the Truth Commission is a public office and not merely an adjunct body of the Office of the President.[31] Thus, in order that the President may create a public office he must be empowered by the Constitution, a statute or an authorization vested in him by law. According to petitioner, such power cannot be presumed[32] since there is no provision in the Constitution or any specific law that authorizes the President to create a truth commission.[33] He adds that Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987, granting the President the continuing authority to reorganize his office, cannot serve as basis for the creation of a truth commission considering the aforesaid provision merely uses verbs such as reorganize, transfer, consolidate, merge, and abolish.[34] Insofar as it vests in the President the plenary power to reorganize the Office of the President to the extent of creating a public office, Section 31 is inconsistent with the principle of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution and must be deemed repealed upon the effectivity thereof.[35]

 

Similarly, in G.R. No. 193036, petitioners-legislators argue that the creation of a public office lies within the province of Congress and not with the executive branch of government. They maintain that the delegated authority of the President to reorganize under Section 31 of the Revised Administrative Code: 1) does not permit the President to create a public office, much less a truth commission; 2) is limited to the reorganization of the administrative structure of the Office of the President; 3) is limited to the restructuring of the internal organs of the Office of the President Proper, transfer of functions and transfer of agencies; and 4) only to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency.[36] Such continuing authority of the President to reorganize his office is limited, and by issuing Executive Order No. 1, the President overstepped the limits of this delegated authority.

 

The OSG counters that there is nothing exclusively legislative about the creation by the President of a fact-finding body such as a truth commission. Pointing to numerous offices created by past presidents, it argues that the authority of the President to create public offices within the Office of the President Proper has long been recognized.[37] According to the OSG, the Executive, just like the other two branches of government, possesses the inherent authority to create fact-finding committees to assist it in the performance of its constitutionally mandated functions and in the exercise of its administrative functions.[38] This power, as the OSG explains it, is but an adjunct of the plenary powers wielded by the President under Section 1 and his power of control under Section 17, both of Article VII of the Constitution.[39]

 

It contends that the President is necessarily vested with the power to conduct fact-finding investigations, pursuant to his duty to ensure that all laws are enforced by public officials and employees of his department and in the exercise of his authority to assume directly the functions of the executive department, bureau and office, or interfere with the discretion of his officials.[40] The power of the President to investigate is not limited to the exercise of his power of control over his subordinates in the executive branch, but extends further in the exercise of his other powers, such as his power to discipline subordinates,[41] his power for rule making, adjudication and licensing purposes[42] and in order to be informed on matters which he is entitled to know.[43]

 

The OSG also cites the recent case of Banda v. Ermita,[44] where it was held that the President has the power to reorganize the offices and agencies in the executive department in line with his constitutionally granted power of control and by virtue of a valid delegation of the legislative power to reorganize executive offices under existing statutes.

 

Thus, the OSG concludes that the power of control necessarily includes the power to create offices. For the OSG, the President may create the PTC in order to, among others, put a closure to the reported large scale graft and corruption in the government.[45]

 

The question, therefore, before the Court is this: Does the creation of the PTC fall within the ambit of the power to reorganize as expressed in Section 31 of the Revised Administrative Code? Section 31 contemplates reorganization as limited by the following functional and structural lines: (1) restructuring the internal organization of the Office of the President Proper by abolishing, consolidating or merging units thereof or transferring functions from one unit to another; (2) transferring any function under the Office of the President to any other Department/Agency or vice versa; or (3) transferring any agency under the Office of the President to any other Department/Agency or vice versa. Clearly, the provision refers to reduction of personnel, consolidation of offices, or abolition thereof by reason of economy or redundancy of functions. These point to situations where a body or an office is already existent but a modification or alteration thereof has to be effected. The creation of an office is nowhere mentioned, much less envisioned in said provision. Accordingly, the answer to the question is in the negative.

 

To say that the PTC is borne out of a restructuring of the Office of the President under Section 31 is a misplaced supposition, even in the plainest meaning attributable to the term restructure an alteration of an existing structure. Evidently, the PTC was not part of the structure of the Office of the President prior to the enactment of Executive Order No. 1. As held in Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB v. Hon. Executive Secretary,[46]

 

 

But of course, the list of legal basis authorizing the President to reorganize any department or agency in the executive branch does not have to end here. We must not lose sight of the very source of the power that which constitutes an express grant of power. Under Section 31, Book III of Executive Order No. 292 (otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987), "the President, subject to the policy in the Executive Office and in order to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency, shall have the continuing authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the Office of the President." For this purpose, he may transfer the functions of other Departments or Agencies to the Office of the President. In Canonizado v. Aguirre [323 SCRA 312 (2000)], we ruled that reorganization "involves the reduction of personnel, consolidation of offices, or abolition thereof by reason of economy or redundancy of functions." It takes place when there is an alteration of the existing structure of government offices or units therein, including the lines of control, authority and responsibility between them. The EIIB is a bureau attached to the Department of Finance. It falls under the Office of the President. Hence, it is subject to the Presidents continuing authority to reorganize. [Emphasis Supplied]

 

 

In the same vein, the creation of the PTC is not justified by the Presidents power of control. Control is essentially the power to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former with that of the latter.[47] Clearly, the power of control is entirely different from the power to create public offices. The former is inherent in the Executive, while the latter finds basis from either a valid delegation from Congress, or his inherent duty to faithfully execute the laws.

 

The question is this, is there a valid delegation of power from Congress, empowering the President to create a public office?

 

According to the OSG, the power to create a truth commission pursuant to the above provision finds statutory basis under P.D. 1416, as amended by P.D. No. 1772.[48] The said law granted the President the continuing authority to reorganize the national government, including the power to group, consolidate bureaus and agencies, to abolish offices, to transfer functions, to create and classify functions, services and activities, transfer appropriations, and to standardize salaries and materials. This decree, in relation to Section 20, Title I, Book III of E.O. 292 has been invoked in several cases such as Larin v. Executive Secretary.[49]

 

The Court, however, declines to recognize P.D. No. 1416 as a justification for the President to create a public office. Said decree is already stale, anachronistic and inoperable. P.D. No. 1416 was a delegation to then President Marcos of the authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the national government including the power to create offices and transfer appropriations pursuant to one of the purposes of the decree, embodied in its last Whereas clause:

 

WHEREAS, the transition towards the parliamentary form of government will necessitate flexibility in the organization of the national government.

 

 

Clearly, as it was only for the purpose of providing manageability and resiliency during the interim, P.D. No. 1416, as amended by P.D. No. 1772, became functus oficio upon the convening of the First Congress, as expressly provided in Section 6, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution. In fact, even the Solicitor General agrees with this view. Thus:

 

 

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: Because P.D. 1416 was enacted was the last whereas clause of P.D. 1416 says it was enacted to prepare the transition from presidential to parliamentary. Now, in a parliamentary form of government, the legislative and executive powers are fused, correct?

 

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Yes, Your Honor.

 

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: That is why, that P.D. 1416 was issued. Now would you agree with me that P.D. 1416 should not be considered effective anymore upon the promulgation, adoption, ratification of the 1987 Constitution.

 

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Not the whole of P.D. [No.] 1416, Your Honor.

 

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: The power of the President to reorganize the entire National Government is deemed repealed, at least, upon the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, correct.

 

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Yes, Your Honor.[50]

 

 

While the power to create a truth commission cannot pass muster on the basis of P.D. No. 1416 as amended by P.D. No. 1772, the creation of the PTC finds justification under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution, imposing upon the President the duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. Section 17 reads:

 

Section 17. The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed. (Emphasis supplied).

 

As correctly pointed out by the respondents, the allocation of power in the three principal branches of government is a grant of all powers inherent in them. The Presidents power to conduct investigations to aid him in ensuring the faithful execution of laws in this case, fundamental laws on public accountability and transparency is inherent in the Presidents powers as the Chief Executive. That the authority of the President to conduct investigations and to create bodies to execute this power is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution or in statutes does not mean that he is bereft of such authority.[51] As explained in the landmark case of Marcos v. Manglapus:[52]

 

x x x. The 1987 Constitution, however, brought back the presidential system of government and restored the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers by their actual distribution among three distinct branches of government with provision for checks and balances.

 

It would not be accurate, however, to state that "executive power" is the power to enforce the laws, for the President is head of state as well as head of government and whatever powers inhere in such positions pertain to the office unless the Constitution itself withholds it. Furthermore, the Constitution itself provides that the execution of the laws is only one of the powers of the President. It also grants the President other powers that do not involve the execution of any provision of law, e.g., his power over the country's foreign relations.

 

 

On these premises, we hold the view that although the 1987 Constitution imposes limitations on the exercise of specific powers of the President, it maintains intact what is traditionally considered as within the scope of "executive power." Corollarily, the powers of the President cannot be said to be limited only to the specific powers enumerated in the Constitution. In other words, executive power is more than the sum of specific powers so enumerated.

 

It has been advanced that whatever power inherent in the government that is neither legislative nor judicial has to be executive. x x x.

 

 

Indeed, the Executive is given much leeway in ensuring that our laws are faithfully executed. As stated above, the powers of the President are not limited to those specific powers under the Constitution.[53] One of the recognized powers of the President granted pursuant to this constitutionally-mandated duty is the power to create ad hoc committees. This flows from the obvious need to ascertain facts and determine if laws have been faithfully executed. Thus, in Department of Health v. Camposano,[54] the authority of the President to issue Administrative Order No. 298, creating an investigative committee to look into the administrative charges filed against the employees of the Department of Health for the anomalous purchase of medicines was upheld. In said case, it was ruled:

 

The Chief Executives power to create the Ad hoc Investigating Committee cannot be doubted. Having been constitutionally granted full control of the Executive Department, to which respondents belong, the President has the obligation to ensure that all executive officials and employees faithfully comply with the law. With AO 298 as mandate, the legality of the investigation is sustained. Such validity is not affected by the fact that the investigating team and the PCAGC had the same composition, or that the former used the offices and facilities of the latter in conducting the inquiry. [Emphasis supplied]

 

It should be stressed that the purpose of allowing ad hoc investigating bodies to exist is to allow an inquiry into matters which the President is entitled to know so that he can be properly advised and guided in the performance of his duties relative to the execution and enforcement of the laws of the land. And if history is to be revisited, this was also the objective of the investigative bodies created in the past like the PCAC, PCAPE, PARGO, the Feliciano Commission, the Melo Commission and the Zenarosa Commission. There being no changes in the government structure, the Court is not inclined to declare such executive power as non-existent just because the direction of the political winds have changed.

 

On the charge that Executive Order No. 1 transgresses the power of Congress to appropriate funds for the operation of a public office, suffice it to say that there will be no appropriation but only an allotment or allocations of existing funds already appropriated. Accordingly, there is no usurpation on the part of the Executive of the power of Congress to appropriate funds. Further, there is no need to specify the amount to be earmarked for the operation of the commission because, in the words of the Solicitor General, whatever funds the Congress has provided for the Office of the President will be the very source of the funds for the commission.[55] Moreover, since the amount that would be allocated to the PTC shall be subject to existing auditing rules and regulations, there is no impropriety in the funding.

 

Power of the Truth Commission to Investigate

 

The Presidents power to conduct investigations to ensure that laws are faithfully executed is well recognized. It flows from the faithful-execution clause of the Constitution under Article VII, Section 17 thereof.[56] As the Chief Executive, the president represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his department. He has the authority to directly assume the functions of the executive department.[57]

 

Invoking this authority, the President constituted the PTC to primarily investigate reports of graft and corruption and to recommend the appropriate action. As previously stated, no quasi-judicial powers have been vested in the said body as it cannot adjudicate rights of persons who come before it. It has been said that Quasi-judicial powers involve the power to hear and determine questions of fact to which the legislative policy is to apply and to decide in accordance with the standards laid down by law itself in enforcing and administering the same law.[58] In simpler terms, judicial discretion is involved in the exercise of these quasi-judicial power, such that it is exclusively vested in the judiciary and must be clearly authorized by the legislature in the case of administrative agencies.

 

The distinction between the power to investigate and the power to adjudicate was delineated by the Court in Cario v. Commission on Human Rights.[59] Thus:

 

"Investigate," commonly understood, means to examine, explore, inquire or delve or probe into, research on, study. The dictionary definition of "investigate" is "to observe or study closely: inquire into systematically: "to search or inquire into: x x to subject to an official probe x x: to conduct an official inquiry." The purpose of investigation, of course, is to discover, to find out, to learn, obtain information. Nowhere included or intimated is the notion of settling, deciding or resolving a controversy involved in the facts inquired into by application of the law to the facts established by the inquiry.

 

The legal meaning of "investigate" is essentially the same: "(t)o follow up step by step by patient inquiry or observation. To trace or track; to search into; to examine and inquire into with care and accuracy; to find out by careful inquisition; examination; the taking of evidence; a legal inquiry;" "to inquire; to make an investigation," "investigation" being in turn described as "(a)n administrative function, the exercise of which ordinarily does not require a hearing. 2 Am J2d Adm L Sec. 257; x x an inquiry, judicial or otherwise, for the discovery and collection of facts concerning a certain matter or matters."

 

"Adjudicate," commonly or popularly understood, means to adjudge, arbitrate, judge, decide, determine, resolve, rule on, settle. The dictionary defines the term as "to settle finally (the rights and duties of the parties to a court case) on the merits of issues raised: x x to pass judgment on: settle judicially: x x act as judge." And "adjudge" means "to decide or rule upon as a judge or with judicial or quasi-judicial powers: x x to award or grant judicially in a case of controversy x x."

In the legal sense, "adjudicate" means: "To settle in the exercise of judicial authority. To determine finally. Synonymous with adjudge in its strictest sense;" and "adjudge" means: "To pass on judicially, to decide, settle or decree, or to sentence or condemn. x x. Implies a judicial determination of a fact, and the entry of a judgment." [Italics included. Citations Omitted]

 

Fact-finding is not adjudication and it cannot be likened to the judicial function of a court of justice, or even a quasi-judicial agency or office. The function of receiving evidence and ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial function. To be considered as such, the act of receiving evidence and arriving at factual conclusions in a controversy must be accompanied by the authority of applying the law to the factual conclusions to the end that the controversy may be decided or resolved authoritatively, finally and definitively, subject to appeals or modes of review as may be provided by law.[60] Even respondents themselves admit that the commission is bereft of any quasi-judicial power.[61]

 

Contrary to petitioners apprehension, the PTC will not supplant the Ombudsman or the DOJ or erode their respective powers. If at all, the investigative function of the commission will complement those of the two offices. As pointed out by the Solicitor General, the recommendation to prosecute is but a consequence of the overall task of the commission to conduct a fact-finding investigation.[62] The actual prosecution of suspected offenders, much less adjudication on the merits of the charges against them,[63] is certainly not a function given to the commission. The phrase, when in the course of its investigation, under Section 2(g), highlights this fact and gives credence to a contrary interpretation from that of the petitioners. The function of determining probable cause for the filing of the appropriate complaints before the courts remains to be with the DOJ and the Ombudsman.[64]

 

At any rate, the Ombudsmans power to investigate under R.A. No. 6770 is not exclusive but is shared with other similarly authorized government agencies. Thus, in the case of Ombudsman v. Galicia,[65] it was written:

 

This power of investigation granted to the Ombudsman by the 1987 Constitution and The Ombudsman Act is not exclusive but is shared with other similarly authorized government agencies such as the PCGG and judges of municipal trial courts and municipal circuit trial courts. The power to conduct preliminary investigation on charges against public employees and officials is likewise concurrently shared with the Department of Justice. Despite the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991, the Ombudsman retains concurrent jurisdiction with the Office of the President and the local Sanggunians to investigate complaints against local elective officials. [Emphasis supplied].

 

 

Also, Executive Order No. 1 cannot contravene the power of the Ombudsman to investigate criminal cases under Section 15 (1) of R.A. No. 6770, which states:

 

(1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of its primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of government, the investigation of such cases. [Emphases supplied]

 

 

The act of investigation by the Ombudsman as enunciated above contemplates the conduct of a preliminary investigation or the determination of the existence of probable cause. This is categorically out of the PTCs sphere of functions. Its power to investigate is limited to obtaining facts so that it can advise and guide the President in the performance of his duties relative to the execution and enforcement of the laws of the land. In this regard, the PTC commits no act of usurpation of the Ombudsmans primordial duties.

 

The same holds true with respect to the DOJ. Its authority under Section 3 (2), Chapter 1, Title III, Book IV in the Revised Administrative Code is by no means exclusive and, thus, can be shared with a body likewise tasked to investigate the commission of crimes.

 

Finally, nowhere in Executive Order No. 1 can it be inferred that the findings of the PTC are to be accorded conclusiveness. Much like its predecessors, the Davide Commission, the Feliciano Commission and the Zenarosa Commission, its findings would, at best, be recommendatory in nature. And being so, the Ombudsman and the DOJ have a wider degree of latitude to decide whether or not to reject the recommendation. These offices, therefore, are not deprived of their mandated duties but will instead be aided by the reports of the PTC for possible indictments for violations of graft laws.

 

Violation of the Equal Protection Clause

 

Although the purpose of the Truth Commission falls within the investigative power of the President, the Court finds difficulty in upholding the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 in view of its apparent transgression of the equal protection clause enshrined in Section 1, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution. Section 1 reads:

 

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

 

The petitioners assail Executive Order No. 1 because it is violative of this constitutional safeguard. They contend that it does not apply equally to all members of the same class such that the intent of singling out the previous administration as its sole object makes the PTC an adventure in partisan hostility.[66] Thus, in order to be accorded with validity, the commission must also cover reports of graft and corruption in virtually all administrations previous to that of former President Arroyo.[67]

 

The petitioners argue that the search for truth behind the reported cases of graft and corruption must encompass acts committed not only during the administration of former President Arroyo but also during prior administrations where the same magnitude of controversies and anomalies[68] were reported to have been committed against the Filipino people. They assail the classification formulated by the respondents as it does not fall under the recognized exceptions because first, there is no substantial distinction between the group of officials targeted for investigation by Executive Order No. 1 and other groups or persons who abused their public office for personal gain; and second, the selective classification is not germane to the purpose of Executive Order No. 1 to end corruption.[69] In order to attain constitutional permission, the petitioners advocate that the commission should deal with graft and grafters prior and subsequent to the Arroyo administration with the strong arm of the law with equal force.[70]

 

Position of respondents

 

According to respondents, while Executive Order No. 1 identifies the previous administration as the initial subject of the investigation, following Section 17 thereof, the PTC will not confine itself to cases of large scale graft and corruption solely during the said administration.[71] Assuming arguendo that the commission would confine its proceedings to officials of the previous administration, the petitioners argue that no offense is committed against the equal protection clause for the segregation of the transactions of public officers during the previous administration as possible subjects of investigation is a valid classification based on substantial distinctions and is germane to the evils which the Executive Order seeks to correct.[72] To distinguish the Arroyo administration from past administrations, it recited the following:

 

First. E.O. No. 1 was issued in view of widespread reports of large scale graft and corruption in the previous administration which have eroded public confidence in public institutions. There is, therefore, an urgent call for the determination of the truth regarding certain reports of large scale graft and corruption in the government and to put a closure to them by the filing of the appropriate cases against those involved, if warranted, and to deter others from committing the evil, restore the peoples faith and confidence in the Government and in their public servants.

 

Second. The segregation of the preceding administration as the object of fact-finding is warranted by the reality that unlike with administrations long gone, the current administration will most likely bear the immediate consequence of the policies of the previous administration.

 

Third. The classification of the previous administration as a separate class for investigation lies in the reality that the evidence of possible criminal activity, the evidence that could lead to recovery of public monies illegally dissipated, the policy lessons to be learned to ensure that anti-corruption laws are faithfully executed, are more easily established in the regime that immediately precede the current administration.

 

Fourth. Many administrations subject the transactions of their predecessors to investigations to provide closure to issues that are pivotal to national life or even as a routine measure of due diligence and good housekeeping by a nascent administration like the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), created by the late President Corazon C. Aquino under Executive Order No. 1 to pursue the recovery of ill-gotten wealth of her predecessor former President Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies, and the Saguisag Commission created by former President Joseph Estrada under Administrative Order No, 53, to form an ad-hoc and independent citizens committee to investigate all the facts and circumstances surrounding Philippine Centennial projects of his predecessor, former President Fidel V. Ramos.[73] [Emphases supplied]

 

Concept of the Equal Protection Clause

 

One of the basic principles on which this government was founded is that of the equality of right which is embodied in Section 1, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. The equal protection of the laws is embraced in the concept of due process, as every unfair discrimination offends the requirements of justice and fair play. It has been embodied in a separate clause, however, to provide for a more specific guaranty against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from the government. Arbitrariness in general may be challenged on the basis of the due process clause. But if the particular act assailed partakes of an unwarranted partiality or prejudice, the sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection clause.[74]

 

According to a long line of decisions, equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed.[75] It requires public bodies and institutions to treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner.[76] The purpose of the equal protection clause is to secure every person within a states jurisdiction against intentional and arbitrary discrimination, whether occasioned by the express terms of a statue or by its improper execution through the states duly constituted authorities.[77] In other words, the concept of equal justice under the law requires the state to govern impartially, and it may not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective.[78]

 

The equal protection clause is aimed at all official state actions, not just those of the legislature.[79] Its inhibitions cover all the departments of the government including the political and executive departments, and extend to all actions of a state denying equal protection of the laws, through whatever agency or whatever guise is taken. [80]

 

It, however, does not require the universal application of the laws to all persons or things without distinction. What it simply requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. Indeed, the equal protection clause permits classification. Such classification, however, to be valid must pass the test of reasonableness. The test has four requisites: (1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions; (2) It is germane to the purpose of the law; (3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and
(4) It applies equally to all members of the same class.[81] Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification.[82]

 

For a classification to meet the requirements of constitutionality, it must include or embrace all persons who naturally belong to the class.[83] The classification will be regarded as invalid if all the members of the class are not similarly treated, both as to rights conferred and obligations imposed. It is not necessary that the classification be made with absolute symmetry, in the sense that the members of the class should possess the same characteristics in equal degree. Substantial similarity will suffice; and as long as this is achieved, all those covered by the classification are to be treated equally. The mere fact that an individual belonging to a class differs from the other members, as long as that class is substantially distinguishable from all others, does not justify the non-application of the law to him.[84]

 

The classification must not be based on existing circumstances only, or so constituted as to preclude addition to the number included in the class. It must be of such a nature as to embrace all those who may thereafter be in similar circumstances and conditions. It must not leave out or underinclude those that should otherwise fall into a certain classification. As elucidated in Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union[85] and reiterated in a long line of cases,[86]

The guaranty of equal protection of the laws is not a guaranty of equality in the application of the laws upon all citizens of the state. It is not, therefore, a requirement, in order to avoid the constitutional prohibition against inequality, that every man, woman and child should be affected alike by a statute. Equality of operation of statutes does not mean indiscriminate operation on persons merely as such, but on persons according to the circumstances surrounding them. It guarantees equality, not identity of rights. The Constitution does not require that things which are different in fact be treated in law as though they were the same. The equal protection clause does not forbid discrimination as to things that are different. It does not prohibit legislation which is limited either in the object to which it is directed or by the territory within which it is to operate.

 

The equal protection of the laws clause of the Constitution allows classification. Classification in law, as in the other departments of knowledge or practice, is the grouping of things in speculation or practice because they agree with one another in certain particulars. A law is not invalid because of simple inequality. The very idea of classification is that of inequality, so that it goes without saying that the mere fact of inequality in no manner determines the matter of constitutionality. All that is required of a valid classification is that it be reasonable, which means that the classification should be based on substantial distinctions which make for real differences, that it must be germane to the purpose of the law; that it must not be limited to existing conditions only; and that it must apply equally to each member of the class. This Court has held that the standard is satisfied if the classification or distinction is based on a reasonable foundation or rational basis and is not palpably arbitrary. [Citations omitted]

 

Applying these precepts to this case, Executive Order No. 1 should be struck down as violative of the equal protection clause. The clear mandate of the envisioned truth commission is to investigate and find out the truth concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration[87] only. The intent to single out the previous administration is plain, patent and manifest. Mention of it has been made in at least three portions of the questioned executive order. Specifically, these are:

 

WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the offenders and secure justice for all;

 

SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter referred to as the COMMISSION, which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.

 

SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation of reported cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and thereafter submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. [Emphases supplied]

 

In this regard, it must be borne in mind that the Arroyo administration is but just a member of a class, that is, a class of past administrations. It is not a class of its own. Not to include past administrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness which the equal protection clause cannot sanction. Such discriminating differentiation clearly reverberates to label the commission as a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution.

 

Though the OSG enumerates several differences between the Arroyo administration and other past administrations, these distinctions are not substantial enough to merit the restriction of the investigation to the previous administration only. The reports of widespread corruption in the Arroyo administration cannot be taken as basis for distinguishing said administration from earlier administrations which were also blemished by similar widespread reports of impropriety. They are not inherent in, and do not inure solely to, the Arroyo administration. As Justice Isagani Cruz put it, Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification.[88]

 

 

The public needs to be enlightened why Executive Order No. 1 chooses to limit the scope of the intended investigation to the previous administration only. The OSG ventures to opine that to include other past administrations, at this point, may unnecessarily overburden the commission and lead it to lose its effectiveness.[89] The reason given is specious. It is without doubt irrelevant to the legitimate and noble objective of the PTC to stamp out or end corruption and the evil it breeds.[90]

 

The probability that there would be difficulty in unearthing evidence or that the earlier reports involving the earlier administrations were already inquired into is beside the point. Obviously, deceased presidents and cases which have already prescribed can no longer be the subjects of inquiry by the PTC. Neither is the PTC expected to conduct simultaneous investigations of previous administrations, given the bodys limited time and resources. The law does not require the impossible (Lex non cogit ad impossibilia).[91]

 

Given the foregoing physical and legal impossibility, the Court logically recognizes the unfeasibility of investigating almost a centurys worth of graft cases. However, the fact remains that Executive Order No. 1 suffers from arbitrary classification. The PTC, to be true to its mandate of searching for the truth, must not exclude the other past administrations. The PTC must, at least, have the authority to investigate all past administrations. While reasonable prioritization is permitted, it should not be arbitrary lest it be struck down for being unconstitutional. In the often quoted language of Yick Wo v. Hopkins,[92]

 

 

 

Though the law itself be fair on its face and impartial in appearance, yet, if applied and administered by public authority with an evil eye and an unequal hand, so as practically to make unjust and illegal discriminations between persons in similar circumstances, material to their rights, the denial of equal justice is still within the prohibition of the constitution. [Emphasis supplied]

 

It could be argued that considering that the PTC is an ad hoc body, its scope is limited. The Court, however, is of the considered view that although its focus is restricted, the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the laws should not in any way be circumvented. The Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights determined and all public authority administered.[93] Laws that do not conform to the Constitution should be stricken down for being unconstitutional.[94] While the thrust of the PTC is specific, that is, for investigation of acts of graft and corruption, Executive Order No. 1, to survive, must be read together with the provisions of the Constitution. To exclude the earlier administrations in the guise of substantial distinctions would only confirm the petitioners lament that the subject executive order is only an adventure in partisan hostility. In the case of US v. Cyprian,[95] it was written: A rather limited number of such classifications have routinely been held or assumed to be arbitrary; those include: race, national origin, gender, political activity or membership in a political party, union activity or membership in a labor union, or more generally the exercise of first amendment rights.

 

To reiterate, in order for a classification to meet the requirements of constitutionality, it must include or embrace all persons who naturally belong to the class.[96] Such a classification must not be based on existing circumstances only, or so constituted as to preclude additions to the number included within a class, but must be of such a nature as to embrace all those who may thereafter be in similar circumstances and conditions. Furthermore, all who are in situations and circumstances which are relative to the discriminatory legislation and which are indistinguishable from those of the members of the class must be brought under the influence of the law and treated by it in the same way as are the members of the class.[97]

 

The Court is not unaware that mere underinclusiveness is not fatal to the validity of a law under the equal protection clause.[98] Legislation is not unconstitutional merely because it is not all-embracing and does not include all the evils within its reach.[99] It has been written that a regulation challenged under the equal protection clause is not devoid of a rational predicate simply because it happens to be incomplete.[100] In several instances, the underinclusiveness was not considered a valid reason to strike down a law or regulation where the purpose can be attained in future legislations or regulations. These cases refer to the step by step process.[101] With regard to equal protection claims, a legislature does not run the risk of losing the entire remedial scheme simply because it fails, through inadvertence or otherwise, to cover every evil that might conceivably have been attacked.[102]

 

In Executive Order No. 1, however, there is no inadvertence. That the previous administration was picked out was deliberate and intentional as can be gleaned from the fact that it was underscored at least three times in the assailed executive order. It must be noted that Executive Order No. 1 does not even mention any particular act, event or report to be focused on unlike the investigative commissions created in the past. The equal protection clause is violated by purposeful and intentional discrimination.[103]

 

To disprove petitioners contention that there is deliberate discrimination, the OSG clarifies that the commission does not only confine itself to cases of large scale graft and corruption committed during the previous administration.[104] The OSG points to Section 17 of Executive Order No. 1, which provides:

 

 

SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to expand the mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of graft and corruption during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a supplemental Executive Order.

 

 

The Court is not convinced. Although Section 17 allows the President the discretion to expand the scope of investigations of the PTC so as to include the acts of graft and corruption committed in other past administrations, it does not guarantee that they would be covered in the future. Such expanded mandate of the commission will still depend on the whim and caprice of the President. If he would decide not to include them, the section would then be meaningless. This will only fortify the fears of the petitioners that the Executive Order No. 1 was crafted to tailor-fit the prosecution of officials and personalities of the Arroyo administration.[105]

 

 

 

The Court tried to seek guidance from the pronouncement in the case of Virata v. Sandiganbayan,[106] that the PCGG Charter (composed of Executive Orders Nos. 1, 2 and 14) does not violate the equal protection clause. The decision, however, was devoid of any discussion on how such conclusory statement was arrived at, the principal issue in said case being only the sufficiency of a cause of action.

 

A final word

 

The issue that seems to take center stage at present is - whether or not the Supreme Court, in the exercise of its constitutionally mandated power of Judicial Review with respect to recent initiatives of the legislature and the executive department, is exercising undue interference. Is the Highest Tribunal, which is expected to be the protector of the Constitution, itself guilty of violating fundamental tenets like the doctrine of separation of powers? Time and again, this issue has been addressed by the Court, but it seems that the present political situation calls for it to once again explain the legal basis of its action lest it continually be accused of being a hindrance to the nations thrust to progress.

 

The Philippine Supreme Court, according to Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, is vested with Judicial Power that includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave of abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.

 

Furthermore, in Section 4(2) thereof, it is vested with the power of judicial review which is the power to declare a treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation unconstitutional. This power also includes the duty to rule on the constitutionality of the application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations. These provisions, however, have been fertile grounds of conflict between the Supreme Court, on one hand, and the two co-equal bodies of government, on the other. Many times the Court has been accused of asserting superiority over the other departments.

 

To answer this accusation, the words of Justice Laurel would be a good source of enlightenment, to wit: And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.[107]

 

Thus, the Court, in exercising its power of judicial review, is not imposing its own will upon a co-equal body but rather simply making sure that any act of government is done in consonance with the authorities and rights allocated to it by the Constitution. And, if after said review, the Court finds no constitutional violations of any sort, then, it has no more authority of proscribing the actions under review. Otherwise, the Court will not be deterred to pronounce said act as void and unconstitutional.

 

It cannot be denied that most government actions are inspired with noble intentions, all geared towards the betterment of the nation and its people. But then again, it is important to remember this ethical principle: The end does not justify the means. No matter how noble and worthy of admiration the purpose of an act, but if the means to be employed in accomplishing it is simply irreconcilable with constitutional parameters, then it cannot still be allowed.[108] The Court cannot just turn a blind eye and simply let it pass. It will continue to uphold the Constitution and its enshrined principles.

 

The Constitution must ever remain supreme. All must bow to the mandate of this law. Expediency must not be allowed to sap its strength nor greed for power debase its rectitude.[109]

 

 

Lest it be misunderstood, this is not the death knell for a truth commission as nobly envisioned by the present administration. Perhaps a revision of the executive issuance so as to include the earlier past administrations would allow it to pass the test of reasonableness and not be an affront to the Constitution. Of all the branches of the government, it is the judiciary which is the most interested in knowing the truth and so it will not allow itself to be a hindrance or obstacle to its attainment. It must, however, be emphasized that the search for the truth must be within constitutional bounds for ours is still a government of laws and not of men.[110]

 

WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED. Executive Order No. 1 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it is violative of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

 

As also prayed for, the respondents are hereby ordered to cease and desist from carrying out the provisions of Executive Order No. 1.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

 

See separate opinion (concurring)

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

 

 

 

 

See dissenting opinion Please see dissenting opinion

ANTONIO T. CARPIO CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

I certify that Justice Velasco left his concurring vote See concurring & dissenting opinion

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

Associate Justice Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

See separate concurring opinion See separate opinion (concurring)

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

See separate concurring opinion see my separate concurring opinion

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

Associate Justice Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See separate dissenting opinion

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

See separate opinion (concurring)

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

See dissenting opinion

MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

 

 

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Angara v. The Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139, 158 (1936).

[2] Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines; A Commentary, 1996 ed., p. xxxiv, citing Miller, Lectures on the Constitution of the United States 64 (1893); 1 Schwartz, The Powers of Government 1 (1963).

[3] Cruz, Philippine Political law, 2002 ed. p. 12.

[4] Id.

[5] Resolution dated August 24, 2010 consolidating G.R. No. 192935 with G.R. No. 193036, rollo, pp. 87-88.

[6] Section 1. The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and referendum.

[7] Biraogo Petition, p. 5, rollo, p. 7.

[8] Salvador Laurel v. Hon. Desierto, G.R. No. 145368, April 12, 2002, citing F.R. Mechem, A Treatise On The Law of Public Offices and Officers.

[9] International Center for Transitional Justice, <http://www.ictj.org/en/tj/138.html> visited November 20, 2010.

[10]Freeman, The Truth Commission and Procedural Fairness, 2006 Ed., p. 12, citing Hayner, UnspeakableTruths: Facing the Challenge of Truth Commissions.

[11]International Center for Transitional Justice, supra note 9.

[12]Armando Doronila, Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 2, 2010.

<http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20100802-284444/Truth-body-told-Take-no

prisoners> visited November 9, 2010.

[13] Lagman Petition, pp. 50-52, rollo, pp. 58-60.

[14] Rollo, pp. 111-216.

[15] Otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987.

[16] Granting Continuing Authority To The President Of The Philippines To Reorganize The National Government.

[17] Otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act of 2010.

[18] OSG Consolidated Comment, p. 33, rollo, p. 153, citing Uy v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 105965-70, March 20, 2001, 354 SCRA 651, 660-661.

[19] Senate of the Philippines v. Ermita, G.R. No. 169777, April 20, 2006, 488 SCRA 1, 35; and Francisco v.

House of Representatives, 460 Phil. 830, 842 (2003).

[20] OSG Memorandum, p. 29, rollo, p. 348.

[21] G.R. No. 113105, August 19, 1994, 235 SCRA 506, 520.

[22] Supra note 19, citing Pimentel Jr., v. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 158088, July 6, 2005, 462 SCRA 623, 631-632.

[23] OSG Memorandum, p. 30, rollo, p. 349.

[24] G.R. No. 171396, May 3, 2006, 489 SCRA 160, 216-218.

[25] Social Justice Society (SJS) v. Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, G.R.

No. 157870, November 3, 2008, 570 SCRA 410, 421; Tatad v. Secretary of the Department of Energy,

346 Phil 321 (1997); De Guia v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 104712, May 6, 1992, 208 SCRA 420, 422.

[26] G.R. 132527, July 29, 2005, 465 SCRA 47, 62.

[27] 84 Phil. 368, 373 (1949).

[28] (1) the character of the funds or other assets involved in the case; (2) the presence of a clear case of disregard of a constitutional or statutory prohibition by the public respondent agency or instrumentality of the government; and, (3) the lack of any other party with a more direct and specific interest in the questions being raised.

[29] G.R. No. 174697, July 8, 2010.

[30] Kilosbayan,Inc. v. Guingona, Jr., G.R. No. 113375, May 5, 1994, 232 SCRA 110, 139.

[31] Biraogo Memorandum, p. 7, rollo, p. 69.

[32] Id. at 6, rollo, p. 68.

[33] Id. at 9, rollo, p. 71.

[34] Id. at 10, rollo, p. 72.

[35] Id. at 10-11, rollo pp. 72-73.

[36] Lagman Memorandum, G.R. No 193036, pp. 10-11, rollo, pp. 270-271.

[37] OSG Memorandum, p. 32, rollo, p. 351.

[38] Id. at 33, rollo, p. 352.

[39] OSG Consolidated Comment, p. 24, rollo, p. 144.

[40] OSG Memorandum, pp. 38-39, rollo, pp. 357-358.

[41] Citing Department of Health v. Camposano, G.R. No. 157684, April 27, 2005, 457 SCRA 438, 450.

[42] Citing Evangelista v. Jarencio, No. L-27274, November 27, 1975, 68 SCRA 99, 104.

[43] Citing Rodriguez v. Santos Diaz, No. L-19553, February 29, 1964, 10 SCRA 441, 445.

[44] G.R. No. 166620, April 20, 2010.

[45] Consolidated Comment, p. 45, rollo, p. 165.

[46] G.R. Nos. 142801-802, July 10, 2001, 360 SCRA 718, also cited in Banda, supra.

[47] The Veterans Federation of the Philippines v. Reyes, G. R. No. 155027, February 28, 2006, 483 SCRA 526, 564; DOTC v. Mabalot, 428 Phil. 154, 164-165 (2002); Mondano v. Silvosa, 97 Phil. 143 (1955).

[48] OSG Memorandum, p. 56, rollo, p. 375.

[49] G.R. No. 112745, October 16, 1997, 280 SCRA 713, 730.

[50] TSN, September 28, 2010, pp. 205-207.

[51] OSG Memorandum, p. 37, rollo, p.356.

[52] G.R. 88211, September 15, 1989, 177 SCRA 688.

[53] Id. at 691.

[54] 496 Phil. 886, 896-897 (2005).

[55] Consolidated Comment, p. 48; rollo, p. 168.

[56] Section 17. The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.

[57] Ople v. Torres, 354 Phil. 948, 967 (1998).

[58] Smart Communications, Inc. et al. v. National Telecommunications Commission, 456 Phil. 145, 156 (2003).

[59] G.R. No. 96681, December 2, 1991, 204 SCRA 483.

[60] Id. at 492.

[61] TSN, September 28, 2010, pp. 39-44; and OSG Memorandum, p. 67, rollo, p. 339.

[62] OSG Consolidated Comment, p. 55, rollo, p. 175.

[63] Id. at 56, rollo, p. 176.

[64] Id.

[65] G.R. No. 167711, October 10, 2008, 568 SCRA 327, 339.

[66] Lagman Petition, pp. 43, 50-52, rollo, pp. 51, 50-60.

[67] Lagman Memorandum, G.R. 193036, pp. 28-29, rollo, pp. 347-348.

[68] Lagman Petition, p. 31, rollo, p. 39.

[69] Id. at 28-29, rollo, pp. 36-37.

[70] Id. at 29, rollo, p. 37.

[71] OSG Memorandum, p. 88; rollo, p. 407.

[72] OSG Consolidated Comment. p. 68, rollo, p. 188.

[73] OSG Memorandum, pp. 90-93, rollo, pp. 409-412.

[74] The Philippine Judges Association v. Hon. Pardo, G.R. No. 105371, November 11, 1993, 227 SCRA 703, 711.

[75] Id. at 712, citing Ichong v. Hernandez, 101 Phil. 1155 (1957); Sison, Jr. v. Ancheta, No. L-59431, July 25, 1984, 130 SCRA 654; Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, G.R. No. 7842, July 14, 1989, 175 SCRA 343, 375.

[76] Guino v. Senkowski, 54 F 3d 1050 (2d. Cir. 1995) cited in Am. Jur, 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 302.

[77] Edward Valves, Inc. v. Wake Country, 343 N.C. 426 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 303.

[78] Lehr v. Robertson, 463 US 248, 103 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 303.

[79] See Columbus Bd. of Ed. v. Penick, 443 US 449 cited Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), pp. 316-317.

[80] See Lombard v. State of La., 373 US 267 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 316.

[81] Beltran v. Secretary of Health, 512 Phil 560, 583 (2005).

[82] Cruz, Constitutional Law, 2003 ed., p. 128.

[83] McErlain v. Taylor, 207 Ind. 240 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 367.

[84] Cruz, Constitutional Law, 2003 ed., pp. 135-136.

[85] No. L-25246, 59 SCRA 54, 77-78 (September 12, 1974).

[86] Basa v. Federacion Obrera de la Industria Tabaquera y Otros Trabajadores de Filipinas (FOITAF), No. L-27113, November 19, 1974, 61 SCRA 93, 110-111; Anuncension v. National Labor Union, No. L-26097, November 29, 1977, 80 SCRA 350, 372-373; Villegas v. Hiu Chiong Tsai Pao Ho, No. L-29646, November 10, 1978, 86 SCRA 270, 275; Dumlao v. Comelec, No. L-52245, January 22, 1980, 95 SCRA 392, 404; Ceniza v. Comelec, No. L-52304, January 28, 1980, 95 SCRA 763, 772-773; Himagan v. People, G.R. No. 113811, October 7, 1994, 237 SCRA 538; The Conference of Maritime Manning Agencies, Inc. v. POEA, G.R. No. 114714, April 21, 1995, 243 SCRA 666, 677; JMM Promotion and Management, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 120095, August 5, 1996, 260 SCRA 319, 331332; and Tiu v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127410, January 20, 1999, 301 SCRA 278, 288-289. See also Ichong v. Hernandez, No. L-7995, 101 Phil. 1155 (1957); Vera v. Cuevas, Nos. L-33693-94, May 31, 1979, 90 SCRA 379, 388; and Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, G.R. Nos. 115455, 115525, 115543, 115544, 115754, 115781, 115852, 115873, and 115931, August 25, 1994, 235 SCRA 630, 684.

[87] 7th Whereas clause, Executive Order No. 1.

[88] Cruz, Constitutional Law, 2003 ed., p. 128.

[89] OSG, Memorandum, p. 89, rollo, p. 408.

[90] 6th Whereas clause, Executive Order No. 1

[91] Lee, Handbook of Legal Maxims, 2002 Ed., p.

[92] 118 US 357, http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=118&invol=35 <accessed on December 4, 2010>.

[93] Macalintal v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 157013, July 10, 2003, 405 SCRA 614, pp. 631-632; Manila Prince Hotel vs. GSIS, 335 Phil. 82, 101 (1997).

[94] Id. at 632.

[95] 756 F. Supp. 388, N.. D. Ind., 1991, Jan 30, 1991, Crim No. HCR 90-42; also http://in.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19910130_0000002.NIN.htm/qx <accessed December 5, 2010>

[96] McErlain v. Taylor, 207 Ind. 240 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 367.

[97] Martin v. Tollefson, 24 Wash. 2d 211 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), pp. 367-368 .

[98] Nixon v. Administrator of General Services, 433 US 425 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 371.

[99] Hunter v. Flowers, 43 So 2d 435 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 370.

[100] Clements v. Fashing, 457 US 957.

[101] See Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), pp. 370-371, as footnote (A state legislature may, consistently with the Equal Protection Clause, address a problem one step at a time, or even select one phase of one field and apply a remedy there, neglecting the others. [Jeffeson v. Hackney, 406 US 535].

[102] McDonald v. Board of Election Comrs of Chicago, 394 US 802 cited in Am Jur 2d, Footnote No. 9.

[103] Ricketts v. City of Hardford, 74 F. 3d 1397 cited in Am. Jur. 2d, Vol. 16 (b), p. 303.

[104] OSG Consolidated Comment, p. 66, rollo, p.186.

[105] Lagman Memorandum, p. 30; rollo, p. 118.

[106] G.R. No. 86926, October 15, 1991; 202 SCRA 680.

[107] Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139, 158 (1936).

[108] Cruz, Philippine Political Law, 2002 ed., pp. 12-13.

[109] Id.

[110] Republic v. Southside Homeowners Association, G.R. No. 156951, September 22, 2006.