Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Manila

 

EN BANC

 

DATU MICHAEL ABAS KIDA,

in his personal capacity, and in representation of MAGUINDANAO FEDERATION OF AUTONOMOUS IRRIGATORS ASSOCIATION, INC., HADJI MUHMINA J. USMAN, JOHN ANTHONY L. LIM, JAMILON T. ODIN, ASRIN TIMBOL JAIYARI, MUJIB M. KALANG, ALIH AL-SAIDI J. SAPI-E, KESSAR DAMSIE ABDIL, and BASSAM ALUH SAUPI,

Petitioners,

- versus -

 

SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President JUAN PONCE ENRILE, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, thru SPEAKER FELICIANO BELMONTE, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, thru its Chairman, SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., PAQUITO OCHOA, JR., Office of the President Executive Secretary, FLORENCIO ABAD, JR., Secretary of Budget, and ROBERTO TAN, Treasurer of the Philippines,

Respondents.

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

BASARI D. MAPUPUNO,

Petitioner,

- versus -

 

SIXTO BRILLANTES, in his capacity as Chairman of the Commission on Elections, FLORENCIO ABAD, JR. in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, PAQUITO OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, in his capacity as Senate President, and FELICIANO BELMONTE, in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives,

Respondents.

X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN,

Petitioner,

- versus -

 

PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as the Executive Secretary, and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,

Respondents.

X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X ALMARIM CENTI TILLAH, DATU

CASAN CONDING CANA, and PARTIDO DEMOKRATIKO PILIPINO LAKAS NG BAYAN (PDP-LABAN),

Petitioners,

- versus -

 

THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, through its Chairman, SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary, HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, JR., in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, and HON. ROBERTO B. TAN, in his capacity as Treasurer of the Philippines,

Respondents.

X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X ATTY. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL,

Petitioner,

- versus -

 

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, through EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,

Respondents.

X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X LOUIS BAROK C. BIRAOGO,

Petitioner,

- versus -

 

THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,

Respondents.

X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X JACINTO V. PARAS,

Petitioner,

 

 

 

 

- versus -

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,

Respondents.

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

MINORITY RIGHTS FORUM, PHILIPPINES, INC.,

Respondents-Intervenor.

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 196271

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 196305

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 197221

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 197280

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 197282

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 197392

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 197454

 

Present:

CORONA, C.J.,

CARPIO,

VELASCO, JR.,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

BRION,

PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,*

ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

PEREZ,

MENDOZA,

SERENO,**

REYES, and

PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

 

Promulgated:

 

February 28, 2012

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

 

 

RESOLUTION

 

BRION, J.:

 

 

We resolve: (a) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Datu Michael Abas Kida, et al. in G.R. No. 196271; (b) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Rep. Edcel Lagman in G.R. No. 197221; (c) the ex abundante ad cautelam motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Basari Mapupuno in G.R. No. 196305; (d) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Atty. Romulo Macalintal in G.R. No. 197282; (e) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Almarim Centi Tillah, Datu Casan Conding Cana and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan in G.R. No. 197280; (f) the manifestation and motion filed by petitioners Almarim Centi Tillah, et al. in G.R. No. 197280; and (g) the very urgent motion to issue clarificatory resolution that the temporary restraining order (TRO) is still existing and effective.

 

These motions assail our Decision dated October 18, 2011, where we upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act (RA) No. 10153. Pursuant to the constitutional mandate of synchronization, RA No. 10153 postponed the regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) (which were scheduled to be held on the second Monday of August 2011) to the second Monday of May 2013 and recognized the Presidents power to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) to temporarily assume these positions upon the expiration of the terms of the elected officials.

The Motions for Reconsideration

 

The petitioners in G.R. No. 196271 raise the following grounds in support of their motion:

 

I.                   THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE ARMM ELECTIONS ARE LOCAL ELECTIONS, CONSIDERING THAT THE CONSTITUTION GIVES THE ARMM A SPECIAL STATUS AND IS SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM ORDINARY LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS.

 

II.                R.A. 10153 AND R.A. 9333 AMEND THE ORGANIC ACT.

 

III.             THE SUPERMAJORITY PROVISIONS OF THE ORGANIC ACT (R.A. 9054) ARE NOT IRREPEALABLE LAWS.

 

IV.             SECTION 3, ARTICLE XVII OF R.A. 9054 DOES NOT VIOLATE SECTION 18, ARTICLE X OF THE CONSTITUTION.

 

V.                BALANCE OF INTERESTS TILT IN FAVOR OF THE DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE[.][1]

 

 

The petitioner in G.R. No. 197221 raises similar grounds, arguing that:

 

I.                   THE ELECTIVE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE OFFICIALS OF ARMM CANNOT BE CONSIDERED AS OR EQUATED WITH THE TRADITIONAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS (LGUs) BECAUSE (A) THERE IS NO EXPLICIT CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION ON SUCH PARITY; AND (B) THE ARMM IS MORE SUPERIOR THAN LGUs IN STRUCTURE, POWERS AND AUTONOMY, AND CONSEQUENTLY IS A CLASS OF ITS OWN APART FROM TRADITIONAL LGUs.

 

II.                THE UNMISTAKABLE AND UNEQUIVOCAL CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE FOR AN ELECTIVE AND REPRESENTATIVE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT AND LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY IN ARMM INDUBITABLY PRECLUDES THE APPOINTMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF OFFICERS-IN-CHARGE (OICs), ALBEIT MOMENTARY OR TEMPORARY, FOR THE POSITIONS OF ARMM GOVERNOR, VICE GOVERNOR AND MEMBERS OF THE REGIONAL ASSEMBLY.

 

III.             THE PRESIDENTS APPOINTING POWER IS LIMITED TO APPOINTIVE OFFICIALS AND DOES NOT EXTEND TO ELECTIVE OFFICIALS EVEN AS THE PRESIDENT IS ONLY VESTED WITH SUPERVISORY POWERS OVER THE ARMM, THEREBY NEGATING THE AWESOME POWER TO APPOINT AND REMOVE OICs OCCUPYING ELECTIVE POSITIONS.

 

IV.             THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT PROSCRIBE THE HOLDOVER OF ARMM ELECTED OFFICIALS PENDING THE ELECTION AND QUALIFICATION OF THEIR SUCCESSORS.

 

V.                THE RULING IN OSMENA DOES NOT APPLY TO ARMM ELECTED OFFICIALS WHOSE TERMS OF OFFICE ARE NOT PROVIDED FOR BY THE CONSTITUTION BUT PRESCRIBED BY THE ORGANIC ACTS.

 

VI.             THE REQUIREMENT OF A SUPERMAJORITY OF VOTES IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE FOR THE VALIDITY OF A SUBSTANTIVE AMENDMENT OR REVISION OF THE ORGANIC ACTS DOES NOT IMPOSE AN IRREPEALABLE LAW.

 

VII.          THE REQUIREMENT OF A PLEBISCITE FOR THE EFFECTIVITY OF A SUBSTANTIVE AMENDMENT OR REVISION OF THE ORGANIC ACTS DOES NOT UNDULY EXPAND THE PLEBISCITE REQUIREMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION.

 

VIII.       SYNCHRONIZATION OF THE ARMM ELECTION WITH THE NATIONAL AND LOCAL ELECTIONS IS NOT MANDATED BY THE CONSTITUTION.

 

IX.             THE COMELEC HAS THE AUTHORITY TO HOLD AND CONDUCT SPECIAL ELECTIONS IN ARMM, AND THE ENACTMENT OF AN IMPROVIDENT AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL STATUTE IS AN ANALOGOUS CAUSE WARRANTING COMELECS HOLDING OF SPECIAL ELECTIONS.[2] (italics supplied)

 

 

The petitioner in G.R. No. 196305 further asserts that:

 

 

I.                   BEFORE THE COURT MAY CONSTRUE OR INTERPRET A STATUTE, IT IS A CONDITION SINE QUA NON THAT THERE BE DOUBT OR AMBIGUITY IN ITS LANGUAGE.

 

THE TRANSITORY PROVISIONS HOWEVER ARE CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS: THEY REFER TO THE 1992 ELECTIONS AND TURN-OVER OF ELECTIVE OFFICIALS.

IN THUS RECOGNIZING A SUPPOSED INTENT OF THE FRAMERS, AND APPLYING THE SAME TO ELECTIONS 20 YEARS AFTER, THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT MAY HAVE VIOLATED THE FOREMOST RULE IN STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.

 

x x x x

 

II.                THE HONORABLE COURT SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED THAT RA 9054, AN ORGANIC ACT, WAS COMPLETE IN ITSELF. HENCE, RA 10153 SHOULD BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN ENACTED PRECISELY TO AMEND RA 9054.

 

x x x x

 

III.             THE HONORABLE COURT MAY HAVE COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN DECLARING THE 2/3 VOTING REQUIREMENT SET FORTH IN RA 9054 AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

 

x x x x

 

IV.             THE HONORABLE COURT MAY HAVE COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN HOLDING THAT A PLEBISCITE IS NOT NECESSARY IN AMENDING THE ORGANIC ACT.

 

x x x x

 

V.                THE HONORABLE COURT COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN DECLARING THE HOLD-OVER OF ARMM ELECTIVE OFFICIALS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

 

x x x x

 

VI.             THE HONORABLE COURT COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN UPHOLDING THE APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS-IN-CHARGE.[3] (italics and underscoring supplied)

 

 

The petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 contends that:

 

 

A.                 

 

ASSUMING WITHOUT CONCEDING THAT THE APPOINTMENT OF OICs FOR THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE ARMM IS NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL TO BEGIN WITH, SUCH APPOINTMENT OF OIC REGIONAL OFFICIALS WILL CREATE A FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN THE BASIC STRUCTURE OF THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT SUCH THAT R.A. NO. 10153 SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED TO A PLEBISCITE IN THE ARMM FOR APPROVAL BY ITS PEOPLE, WHICH PLEBISCITE REQUIREMENT CANNOT BE CIRCUMVENTED BY SIMPLY CHARACTERIZING THE PROVISIONS OF R.A. NO. 10153 ON APPOINTMENT OF OICs AS AN INTERIM MEASURE.

 

B.

 

THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE APPOINTMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF OICs FOR THE ARMM REGIONAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT VIOLATIVE OF THE CONSTITUTION.

 

C.

 

THE HOLDOVER PRINCIPLE ADOPTED IN R.A. NO. 9054 DOES NOT VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION, AND BEFORE THEIR SUCCESSORS ARE ELECTED IN EITHER AN ELECTION TO BE HELD AT THE SOONEST POSSIBLE TIME OR IN MAY 2013, THE SAID INCUMBENT ARMM REGIONAL OFFICIALS MAY VALIDLY CONTINUE FUNCTIONING AS SUCH IN A HOLDOVER CAPACITY IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 7, ARTICLE VII OF R.A. NO. 9054.

 

D.

 

WITH THE CANCELLATION OF THE AUGUST 2011 ARMM ELECTIONS, SPECIAL ELECTIONS MUST IMMEDIATELY BE HELD FOR THE ELECTIVE REGIONAL OFFICIALS OF THE ARMM WHO SHALL SERVE UNTIL THEIR SUCCESSORS ARE ELECTED IN THE MAY 2013 SYNCHRONIZED ELECTIONS.[4]

 

 


Finally, the petitioners in G.R. No. 197280 argue that:

 

a)                 the Constitutional mandate of synchronization does not apply to the ARMM elections;

 

b)                RA No. 10153 negates the basic principle of republican democracy which, by constitutional mandate, guides the governance of the Republic;

 

c)                 RA No. 10153 amends the Organic Act (RA No. 9054) and, thus, has to comply with the 2/3 vote from the House of Representatives and the Senate, voting separately, and be ratified in a plebiscite;

 

d)                if the choice is between elective officials continuing to hold their offices even after their terms are over and non-elective individuals getting into the vacant elective positions by appointment as OICs, the holdover option is the better choice;

 

e)                 the President only has the power of supervision over autonomous regions, which does not include the power to appoint OICs to take the place of ARMM elective officials; and

 

f)                  it would be better to hold the ARMM elections separately from the national and local elections as this will make it easier for the authorities to implement election laws.

 


In essence, the Court is asked to resolve the following questions:

 

(a)              Does the Constitution mandate the synchronization of ARMM regional elections with national and local elections?

 

(b)             Does RA No. 10153 amend RA No. 9054? If so, does RA No. 10153 have to comply with the supermajority vote and plebiscite requirements? 

 

(c)              Is the holdover provision in RA No. 9054 constitutional?

 

(d)             Does the COMELEC have the power to call for special elections in ARMM?

 

(e)              Does granting the President the power to appoint OICs violate the elective and representative nature of ARMM regional legislative and executive offices?

 

(f)               Does the appointment power granted to the President exceed the Presidents supervisory powers over autonomous regions?

 

 

The Courts Ruling

 

We deny the motions for lack of merit.

 

Synchronization mandate includes ARMM elections

 

The Court was unanimous in holding that the Constitution mandates the synchronization of national and local elections. While the Constitution does not expressly instruct Congress to synchronize the national and local elections, the intention can be inferred from the following provisions of the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII) of the Constitution, which state:

 

Section 1. The first elections of Members of the Congress under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1987.

 

The first local elections shall be held on a date to be determined by the President, which may be simultaneous with the election of the Members of the Congress. It shall include the election of all Members of the city or municipal councils in the Metropolitan Manila area.

 

Section 2. The Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, and the local officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30, 1992.

 

Of the Senators elected in the elections in 1992, the first twelve obtaining the highest number of votes shall serve for six years and the remaining twelve for three years.

 

x x x x

 

Section 5. The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice-President elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of synchronization of elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992.

 

The first regular elections for the President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1992.

 

To fully appreciate the constitutional intent behind these provisions, we refer to the discussions of the Constitutional Commission:

 

MR. MAAMBONG. For purposes of identification, I will now read a section which we will temporarily indicate as Section 14. It reads: THE SENATORS, MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE LOCAL OFFICIALS ELECTED IN THE FIRST ELECTION SHALL SERVE FOR FIVE YEARS, TO EXPIRE AT NOON OF JUNE 1992.

 

This was presented by Commissioner Davide, so may we ask that Commissioner Davide be recognized.

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rodrigo). Commissioner Davide is recognized.

 

MR. DAVIDE. Before going to the proposed amendment, I would only state that in view of the action taken by the Commission on Section 2 earlier, I am formulating a new proposal. It will read as follows: THE SENATORS, MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE LOCAL OFFICIALS FIRST ELECTED UNDER THIS CONSTITUTION SHALL SERVE UNTIL NOON OF JUNE 30, 1992.

 

I proposed this because of the proposed section of the Article on Transitory Provisions giving a term to the incumbent President and Vice-President until 1992. Necessarily then, since the term provided by the Commission for Members of the Lower House and for local officials is three years, if there will be an election in 1987, the next election for said officers will be in 1990, and it would be very close to 1992. We could never attain, subsequently, any synchronization of election which is once every three years.

 

So under my proposal we will be able to begin actual synchronization in 1992, and consequently, we should not have a local election or an election for Members of the Lower House in 1990 for them to be able to complete their term of three years each. And if we also stagger the Senate, upon the first election it will result in an election in 1993 for the Senate alone, and there will be an election for 12 Senators in 1990. But for the remaining 12 who will be elected in 1987, if their term is for six years, their election will be in 1993. So, consequently we will have elections in 1990, in 1992 and in 1993. The later election will be limited to only 12 Senators and of course to the local officials and the Members of the Lower House. But, definitely, thereafter we can never have an election once every three years, therefore defeating the very purpose of the Commission when we adopted the term of six years for the President and another six years for the Senators with the possibility of staggering with 12 to serve for six years and 12 for three years insofar as the first Senators are concerned. And so my proposal is the only way to effect the first synchronized election which would mean, necessarily, a bonus of two years to the Members of the Lower House and a bonus of two years to the local elective officials.

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rodrigo). What does the committee say?

 

MR. DE CASTRO. Mr. Presiding Officer.

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rodrigo). Commissioner de Castro is recognized.

 

MR. DE CASTRO. Thank you.

 

During the discussion on the legislative and the synchronization of elections, I was the one who proposed that in order to synchronize the elections every three years, which the body approved the first national and local officials to be elected in 1987 shall continue in office for five years, the same thing the Honorable Davide is now proposing. That means they will all serve until 1992, assuming that the term of the President will be for six years and continue beginning in 1986. So from 1992, we will again have national, local and presidential elections. This time, in 1992, the President shall have a term until 1998 and the first 12 Senators will serve until 1998, while the next 12 shall serve until 1995, and then the local officials elected in 1992 will serve until 1995. From then on, we shall have an election every three years.

 

So, I will say that the proposition of Commissioner Davide is in order, if we have to synchronize our elections every three years which was already approved by the body.

 

Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer.

 

x x x x

 

MR. GUINGONA. What will be synchronized, therefore, is the election of the incumbent President and Vice-President in 1992.

 

MR. DAVIDE. Yes.

 

MR. GUINGONA. Not the reverse. Will the committee not synchronize the election of the Senators and local officials with the election of the President?

 

MR. DAVIDE. It works both ways, Mr. Presiding Officer. The attempt here is on the assumption that the provision of the Transitory Provisions on the term of the incumbent President and Vice-President would really end in 1992.

 

MR. GUINGONA. Yes.

 

MR. DAVIDE. In other words, there will be a single election in 1992 for all, from the President up to the municipal officials.[5] (emphases and underscoring ours)

 

 

The framers of the Constitution could not have expressed their objective more clearly there was to be a single election in 1992 for all elective officials from the President down to the municipal officials. Significantly, the framers were even willing to temporarily lengthen or shorten the terms of elective officials in order to meet this objective, highlighting the importance of this constitutional mandate.

 

We came to the same conclusion in Osmea v. Commission on Elections,[6] where we unequivocally stated that the Constitution has mandated synchronized national and local elections."[7] Despite the length and verbosity of their motions, the petitioners have failed to convince us to deviate from this established ruling.

 

Neither do we find any merit in the petitioners contention that the ARMM elections are not covered by the constitutional mandate of synchronization because the ARMM elections were not specifically mentioned in the above-quoted Transitory Provisions of the Constitution.

 

That the ARMM elections were not expressly mentioned in the Transitory Provisions of the Constitution on synchronization cannot be interpreted to mean that the ARMM elections are not covered by the constitutional mandate of synchronization. We have to consider that the ARMM, as we now know it, had not yet been officially organized at the time the Constitution was enacted and ratified by the people. Keeping in mind that a constitution is not intended to provide merely for the exigencies of a few years but is to endure through generations for as long as it remains unaltered by the people as ultimate sovereign, a constitution should be construed in the light of what actually is a continuing instrument to govern not only the present but also the unfolding events of the indefinite future. Although the principles embodied in a constitution remain fixed and unchanged from the time of its adoption, a constitution must be construed as a dynamic process intended to stand for a great length of time, to be progressive and not static.[8]

 

To reiterate, Article X of the Constitution, entitled Local Government, clearly shows the intention of the Constitution to classify autonomous regions, such as the ARMM, as local governments. We refer to Section 1 of this Article, which provides:

 

Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided. 

 

 

The inclusion of autonomous regions in the enumeration of political subdivisions of the State under the heading Local Government indicates quite clearly the constitutional intent to consider autonomous regions as one of the forms of local governments.

 

That the Constitution mentions only the national government and the local governments, and does not make a distinction between the local government and the regional government, is particularly revealing, betraying as it does the intention of the framers of the Constitution to consider the autonomous regions not as separate forms of government, but as political units which, while having more powers and attributes than other local government units, still remain under the category of local governments. Since autonomous regions are classified as local governments, it follows that elections held in autonomous regions are also considered as local elections.

 

The petitioners further argue that even assuming that the Constitution mandates the synchronization of elections, the ARMM elections are not covered by this mandate since they are regional elections and not local elections.

 

In construing provisions of the Constitution, the first rule is verba legis, that is, wherever possible, the words used in the Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed.[9] Applying this principle to determine the scope of local elections, we refer to the meaning of the word local, as understood in its ordinary sense. As defined in Websters Third New International Dictionary Unabridged, local refers to something that primarily serves the needs of a particular limited district, often a community or minor political subdivision. Obviously, the ARMM elections, which are held within the confines of the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao, fall within this definition.

 

To be sure, the fact that the ARMM possesses more powers than other provinces, cities, or municipalities is not enough reason to treat the ARMM regional elections differently from the other local elections. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguire debemus.  When the law does not distinguish, we must not distinguish.[10]

 

RA No. 10153 does not amend RA No. 9054

 

The petitioners are adamant that the provisions of RA No. 10153, in postponing the ARMM elections, amend RA No. 9054.

We cannot agree with their position.

 

A thorough reading of RA No. 9054 reveals that it fixes the schedule for only the first ARMM elections;[11] it does not provide the date for the succeeding regular ARMM elections. In providing for the date of the regular ARMM elections, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 clearly do not amend RA No. 9054 since these laws do not change or revise any provision in RA No. 9054. In fixing the date of the ARMM elections subsequent to the first election, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 merely filled the gap left in RA No. 9054.

 

We reiterate our previous observations:

 

This view that Congress thought it best to leave the determination of the date of succeeding ARMM elections to legislative discretion finds support in ARMMs recent history.

 

To recall, RA No. 10153 is not the first law passed that rescheduled the ARMM elections.  The First Organic Act RA No. 6734 not only did not fix the date of the subsequent elections; it did not even fix the specific date of the first ARMM elections, leaving the date to be fixed in another legislative enactment. Consequently, RA No. 7647, RA No. 8176, RA No. 8746, RA No. 8753, and RA No. 9012 were all enacted by Congress to fix the dates of the ARMM elections. Since these laws did not change or modify any part or provision of RA No. 6734, they were not amendments to this latter law.  Consequently, there was no need to submit them to any plebiscite for ratification.

 

The Second Organic Act  RA No. 9054  which lapsed into law on March 31, 2001, provided that the first elections would be held on the second Monday of September 2001. Thereafter, Congress passed RA No. 9140 to reset the date of the ARMM elections.  Significantly, while RA No. 9140 also scheduled the plebiscite for the ratification of the Second Organic Act (RA No. 9054), the new date of the ARMM regional elections fixed in RA No. 9140 was not among the provisions ratified in the plebiscite held to approve RA No. 9054. Thereafter, Congress passed RA No. 9333, which further reset the date of the ARMM regional elections. Again, this law was not ratified through a plebiscite.

 

From these legislative actions, we see the clear intention of Congress to treat the laws which fix the date of the subsequent ARMM elections as separate and distinct from the Organic Acts. Congress only acted consistently with this intent when it passed RA No. 10153 without requiring compliance with the amendment prerequisites embodied in Section 1 and Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054.[12] (emphases supplied)

 

 

The petitioner in G.R. No. 196305 contends, however, that there is no lacuna in RA No. 9054 as regards the date of the subsequent ARMM elections. In his estimation, it can be implied from the provisions of RA No. 9054 that the succeeding elections are to be held three years after the date of the first ARMM regional elections.

 

We find this an erroneous assertion. Well-settled is the rule that the court may not, in the guise of interpretation, enlarge the scope of a statute and include therein situations not provided nor intended by the lawmakers. An omission at the time of enactment, whether careless or calculated, cannot be judicially supplied however later wisdom may recommend the inclusion.[13] Courts are not authorized to insert into the law what they think should be in it or to supply what they think the legislature would have supplied if its attention had been called to the omission.[14] Providing for lapses within the law falls within the exclusive domain of the legislature, and courts, no matter how well-meaning, have no authority to intrude into this clearly delineated space.

 

Since RA No. 10153 does not amend, but merely fills in the gap in RA No. 9054, there is no need for RA No. 10153 to comply with the amendment requirements set forth in Article XVII of RA No. 9054.

 

Supermajority vote requirement makes RA No. 9054 an irrepealable law

 

Even assuming that RA No. 10153 amends RA No. 9054, however, we have already established that the supermajority vote requirement set forth in Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054[15] is unconstitutional for violating the principle that Congress cannot pass irrepealable laws.

 

The power of the legislature to make laws includes the power to amend and repeal these laws. Where the legislature, by its own act, attempts to limit its power to amend or repeal laws, the Court has the duty to strike down such act for interfering with the plenary powers of Congress. As we explained in Duarte v. Dade:[16]

 

A state legislature has a plenary law-making power over all subjects, whether pertaining to persons or things, within its territorial jurisdiction, either to introduce new laws or repeal the old, unless prohibited expressly or by implication by the federal constitution or limited or restrained by its own. It cannot bind itself or its successors by enacting irrepealable laws except when so restrained. Every legislative body may modify or abolish the acts passed by itself or its predecessors. This power of repeal may be exercised at the same session at which the original act was passed; and even while a bill is in its progress and before it becomes a law. This legislature cannot bind a future legislature to a particular mode of repeal. It cannot declare in advance the intent of subsequent legislatures or the effect of subsequent legislation upon existing statutes. [emphasis ours]

 

 

Under our Constitution, each House of Congress has the power to approve bills by a mere majority vote, provided there is quorum.[17] In requiring all laws which amend RA No. 9054 to comply with a higher voting requirement than the Constitution provides (2/3 vote), Congress, which enacted RA No. 9054, clearly violated the very principle which we sought to establish in Duarte. To reiterate, the act of one legislature is not binding upon, and cannot tie the hands of, future legislatures.[18]

 

We also highlight an important point raised by Justice Antonio T. Carpio in his dissenting opinion, where he stated: Section 1, Article XVII of RA 9054 erects a high vote threshold for each House of Congress to surmount, effectively and unconstitutionally, taking RA 9054 beyond the reach of Congress amendatory powers. One Congress cannot limit or reduce the plenary legislative power of succeeding Congresses by requiring a higher vote threshold than what the Constitution requires to enact, amend or repeal laws. No law can be passed fixing such a higher vote threshold because Congress has no power, by ordinary legislation, to amend the Constitution.[19]

 

Plebiscite requirement in RA No. 9054 overly broad

 

Similarly, we struck down the petitioners contention that the plebiscite requirement[20] applies to all amendments of RA No. 9054 for being an unreasonable enlargement of the plebiscite requirement set forth in the Constitution.

 

Section 18, Article X of the Constitution provides that [t]he creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose[.]  We interpreted this to mean that only amendments to, or revisions of, the Organic Act constitutionally-essential to the creation of autonomous regions  i.e., those aspects specifically mentioned in the Constitution which Congress must provide for in the Organic Act[21] require ratification through a plebiscite.  We stand by this interpretation.

 

The petitioners argue that to require all amendments to RA No. 9054 to comply with the plebiscite requirement is to recognize that sovereignty resides primarily in the people.

 

While we agree with the petitioners underlying premise that sovereignty ultimately resides with the people, we disagree that this legal reality necessitates compliance with the plebiscite requirement for all amendments to RA No. 9054. For if we were to go by the petitioners interpretation of Section 18, Article X of the Constitution that all amendments to the Organic Act have to undergo the plebiscite requirement before becoming effective, this would lead to impractical and illogical results hampering the ARMMs progress by impeding Congress from enacting laws that timely address problems as they arise in the region, as well as weighing down the ARMM government with the costs that unavoidably follow the holding of a plebiscite.

 

Interestingly, the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 posits that RA No. 10153, in giving the President the power to appoint OICs to take the place of the elective officials of the ARMM, creates a fundamental change in the basic structure of the government, and thus requires compliance with the plebiscite requirement embodied in RA No. 9054.

 

Again, we disagree.

 

The pertinent provision in this regard is Section 3 of RA No. 10153, which reads:

 

Section 3. Appointment of Officers-in-Charge. The President shall appoint officers-in-charge for the Office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and Members of the Regional Legislative Assembly who shall perform the functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office.

 

We cannot see how the above-quoted provision has changed the basic structure of the ARMM regional government. On the contrary, this provision clearly preserves the basic structure of the ARMM regional government when it recognizes the offices of the ARMM regional government and directs the OICs who shall temporarily assume these offices to perform the functions pertaining to the said offices.

 

Unconstitutionality of the holdover provision

 

The petitioners are one in defending the constitutionality of Section 7(1), Article VII of RA No. 9054, which allows the regional officials to remain in their positions in a holdover capacity. The petitioners essentially argue that the ARMM regional officials should be allowed to remain in their respective positions until the May 2013 elections since there is no specific provision in the Constitution which prohibits regional elective officials from performing their duties in a holdover capacity.

 

The pertinent provision of the Constitution is Section 8, Article X which provides:

 

Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. [emphases ours]

 

 

On the other hand, Section 7(1), Article VII of RA No. 9054 provides:

 

Section 7. Terms of Office of Elective Regional Officials. (1) Terms of Office. The terms of office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and members of the Regional Assembly shall be for a period of three (3) years, which shall begin at noon on the 30th day of September next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date three (3) years thereafter. The incumbent elective officials of the autonomous region shall continue in effect until their successors are elected and qualified.

 

 

The clear wording of Section 8, Article X of the Constitution expresses the intent of the framers of the Constitution to categorically set a limitation on the period within which all elective local officials can occupy their offices. We have already established that elective ARMM officials are also local officials; they are, thus, bound by the three-year term limit prescribed by the Constitution. It, therefore, becomes irrelevant that the Constitution does not expressly prohibit elective officials from acting in a holdover capacity. Short of amending the Constitution, Congress has no authority to extend the three-year term limit by inserting a holdover provision in RA No. 9054. Thus, the term of three years for local officials should stay at three (3) years, as fixed by the Constitution, and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress.

 

 

Admittedly, we have, in the past, recognized the validity of holdover provisions in various laws. One significant difference between the present case and these past cases[22] is that while these past cases all refer to elective barangay or sangguniang kabataan officials whose terms of office are not explicitly provided for in the  Constitution, the present case refers to local elective officials - the ARMM Governor, the ARMM Vice Governor, and the members of the Regional Legislative Assembly - whose terms fall within the three-year term limit set by Section 8, Article X of the Constitution.

 

Even assuming that a holdover is constitutionally permissible, and there had been statutory basis for it (namely Section 7, Article VII of RA No. 9054), the rule of holdover can only apply as an available option where no express or implied legislative intent to the contrary exists; it cannot apply where such contrary intent is evident.[23]

 

Congress, in passing RA No. 10153 and removing the holdover option, has made it clear that it wants to suppress the holdover rule expressed in RA No. 9054. Congress, in the exercise of its plenary legislative powers, has clearly acted within its discretion when it deleted the holdover option, and this Court has no authority to question the wisdom of this decision, absent any evidence of unconstitutionality or grave abuse of discretion. It is for the legislature and the executive, and not this Court, to decide how to fill the vacancies in the ARMM regional government which arise from the legislature complying with the constitutional mandate of synchronization.

 

COMELEC has no authority to hold special elections

 

Neither do we find any merit in the contention that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is sufficiently empowered to set the date of special elections in the ARMM. To recall, the Constitution has merely empowered the COMELEC to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election.[24] Although the legislature, under the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang [BP] 881), has granted the COMELEC the power to postpone elections to another date, this power is confined to the specific terms and circumstances provided for in the law. Specifically, this power falls within the narrow confines of the following provisions:

 

Section 5. Postponement of election. - When for any serious cause such as violenceterrorismloss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision, the Commission, motu proprio or upon a verified petition by any interested party, and after due notice and hearing, whereby all interested parties are afforded equal opportunity to be heard, shall postpone the election therein to a date which should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.

 

Section 6. Failure of election. - If, on account of force majeureviolenceterrorismfraud, or other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect, and in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election, the Commission shall, on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due notice and hearing, call for the holding or continuation of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect. [emphases and underscoring ours]

 

 

As we have previously observed in our assailed decision, both Section 5 and Section 6 of BP 881 address instances where elections have already been scheduled to take place but do not occur or had to be suspended because of unexpected and unforeseen circumstances, such as violence, fraud, terrorism, and other analogous circumstances.

 

 

In contrast, the ARMM elections were postponed by law, in furtherance of the constitutional mandate of synchronization of national and local elections. Obviously, this does not fall under any of the circumstances contemplated by Section 5 or Section 6 of BP 881. 

 

More importantly, RA No. 10153 has already fixed the date for the next ARMM elections and the COMELEC has no authority to set a different election date.

 

Even assuming that the COMELEC has the authority to hold special elections, and this Court can compel the COMELEC to do so, there is still the problem of having to shorten the terms of the newly elected officials in order to synchronize the ARMM elections with the May 2013 national and local elections. Obviously, neither the Court nor the COMELEC has the authority to do this, amounting as it does to an amendment of Section 8, Article X of the Constitution, which limits the term of local officials to three years.

 

Presidents authority to appoint OICs

 

The petitioner in G.R. No. 197221 argues that the Presidents power to appoint pertains only to appointive positions and cannot extend to positions held by elective officials.

 

The power to appoint has traditionally been recognized as executive in nature.[25] Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution describes in broad strokes the extent of this power, thus:

 

Section 16. The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution. He shall also appoint all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint. The Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of other officers lower in rank in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards. [emphasis ours]

 

 

The 1935 Constitution contained a provision similar to the one quoted above. Section 10(3), Article VII of the 1935 Constitution provides:

 

(3) The President shall nominate and with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, shall appoint the heads of the executive departments and bureaus, officers of the Army from the rank of colonel, of the Navy and Air Forces from the rank of captain or commander, and all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint; but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of inferior officers, in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments. [emphasis ours]

 

 

The main distinction between the provision in the 1987 Constitution and its counterpart in the 1935 Constitution is the sentence construction; while in the 1935 Constitution, the various appointments the President can make are enumerated in a single sentence, the 1987 Constitution enumerates the various appointments the President is empowered to make and divides the enumeration in two sentences. The change in style is significant; in providing for this change, the framers of the 1987 Constitution clearly sought to make a distinction between the first group of presidential appointments and the second group of presidential appointments, as made evident in the following exchange:

 

MR. FOZ. Madame President x x x I propose to put a period (.) after captain and x x x delete and all and substitute it with HE SHALL ALSO APPOINT ANY.

 

MR. REGALADO. Madam President, the Committee accepts the proposed amendment because it makes it clear that those other officers mentioned therein do not have to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.[26]

 

 

The first group of presidential appointments, specified as the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the Armed Forces, and other officers whose appointments are vested in the President by the Constitution, pertains to the appointive officials who have to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.

 

The second group of officials the President can appoint are all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint.[27] The second sentence acts as the catch-all provision for the Presidents appointment power, in recognition of the fact that the power to appoint is essentially executive in nature.[28] The wide latitude given to the President to appoint is further demonstrated by the recognition of the Presidents power to appoint officials whose appointments are not even provided for by law. In other words, where there are offices which have to be filled, but the law does not provide the process for filling them, the Constitution recognizes the power of the President to fill the office by appointment.

 

Any limitation on or qualification to the exercise of the Presidents appointment power should be strictly construed and must be clearly stated in order to be recognized.[29] Given that the President derives his power to appoint OICs in the ARMM regional government from law, it falls under the classification of presidential appointments covered by the second sentence of Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution; the Presidents appointment power thus rests on clear constitutional basis.

 

The petitioners also jointly assert that RA No. 10153, in granting the President the power to appoint OICs in elective positions, violates Section 16, Article X of the Constitution,[30] which merely grants the President the power of supervision over autonomous regions.

 

This is an overly restrictive interpretation of the Presidents appointment power. There is no incompatibility between the Presidents power of supervision over local governments and autonomous regions, and the power granted to the President, within the specific confines of RA No. 10153, to appoint OICs.

 

The power of supervision is defined as the power of a superior officer to see to it that lower officers perform their functions in accordance with law.[31] This is distinguished from the power of control or the power of an officer to alter or modify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for the latter.[32]

 

The petitioners apprehension regarding the Presidents alleged power of control over the OICs is rooted in their belief that the Presidents appointment power includes the power to remove these officials at will. In this way, the petitioners foresee that the appointed OICs will be beholden to the President, and act as representatives of the President and not of the people.

Section 3 of RA No. 10153 expressly contradicts the petitioners supposition. The provision states:

 

Section 3. Appointment of Officers-in-Charge. The President shall appoint officers-in-charge for the Office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and Members of the Regional Legislative Assembly who shall perform the functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office.

 

 

The wording of the law is clear. Once the President has appointed the OICs for the offices of the Governor, Vice Governor and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly, these same officials will remain in office until they are replaced by the duly elected officials in the May 2013 elections. Nothing in this provision even hints that the President has the power to recall the appointments he already made. Clearly, the petitioners fears in this regard are more apparent than real.

 

RA No. 10153 as an interim measure

 

We reiterate once more the importance of considering RA No. 10153 not in a vacuum, but within the context it was enacted in. In the first place, Congress enacted RA No. 10153 primarily to heed the constitutional mandate to synchronize the ARMM regional elections with the national and local elections. To do this, Congress had to postpone the scheduled ARMM elections for another date, leaving it with the problem of how to provide the ARMM with governance in the intervening period, between the expiration of the term of those elected in August 2008 and the assumption to office twenty-one (21) months away of those who will win in the synchronized elections on May 13, 2013. 

 

In our assailed Decision, we already identified the three possible solutions open to Congress to address the problem created by synchronization (a) allow the incumbent officials to remain in office after the expiration of their terms in a holdover capacity; (b) call for special elections to be held, and shorten the terms of those to be elected so the next ARMM regional elections can be held on May 13, 2013; or (c) recognize that the President, in the exercise of his appointment powers and in line with his power of supervision over the ARMM, can appoint interim OICs to hold the vacated positions in the ARMM regional government upon the expiration of their terms. We have already established the unconstitutionality of the first two options, leaving us to consider the last available option.

 

In this way, RA No. 10153 is in reality an interim measure, enacted to respond to the adjustment that synchronization requires. Given the context, we have to judge RA No. 10153 by the standard of reasonableness in responding to the challenges brought about by synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections. In other words, given the plain unconstitutionality of providing for a holdover and the unavailability of constitutional possibilities for lengthening or shortening the term of the elected ARMM officials, is the choice of the Presidents power to appoint for a fixed and specific period as an interim measure, and as allowed under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution an unconstitutional or unreasonable choice for Congress to make?[33]

 

We admit that synchronization will temporarily disrupt the election process in a local community, the ARMM, as well as the communitys choice of leaders. However, we have to keep in mind that the adoption of this measure is a matter of necessity in order to comply with a mandate that the Constitution itself has set out for us. Moreover, the implementation of the provisions of RA No. 10153 as an interim measure is comparable to the interim measures traditionally practiced when, for instance, the President appoints officials holding elective offices upon the creation of new local government units.  

 

The grant to the President of the power to appoint OICs in place of the elective members of the Regional Legislative Assembly is neither novel nor innovative. The power granted to the President, via RA No. 10153, to appoint members of the Regional Legislative Assembly is comparable to the power granted by BP 881 (the Omnibus Election Code) to the President to fill any vacancy for any cause in the Regional Legislative Assembly (then called the Sangguniang Pampook).[34]

 

Executive is not bound by the principle of judicial courtesy

 

The petitioners in G.R. No. 197280, in their Manifestation and Motion dated December 21, 2011, question the propriety of the appointment by the President of Mujiv Hataman as acting Governor and Bainon Karon as acting Vice Governor of the ARMM. They argue that since our previous decision was based on a close vote of 8-7, and given the numerous motions for reconsideration filed by the parties, the President, in recognition of the principle of judicial courtesy, should have refrained from implementing our decision until we have ruled with finality on this case.

 

We find the petitioners reasoning specious.

 

Firstly, the principle of judicial courtesy is based on the hierarchy of courts and applies only to lower courts in instances where, even if there is no writ of preliminary injunction or TRO issued by a higher court, it would be proper for a lower court to suspend its proceedings for practical and ethical considerations.[35] In other words, the principle of judicial courtesy applies where there is a strong probability that the issues before the higher court would be rendered moot and moribund as a result of the continuation of the proceedings in the lower court or court of origin.[36] Consequently, this principle cannot be applied to the President, who represents a co-equal branch of government. To suggest otherwise would be to disregard the principle of separation of powers, on which our whole system of government is founded upon.

Secondly, the fact that our previous decision was based on a slim vote of 8-7 does not, and cannot, have the effect of making our ruling any less effective or binding. Regardless of how close the voting is, so long as there is concurrence of the majority of the members of the en banc who actually took part in the deliberations of the case,[37] a decision garnering only 8 votes out of 15 members is still a decision of the Supreme Court en banc and must be respected as such. The petitioners are, therefore, not in any position to speculate that, based on the voting, the probability exists that their motion for reconsideration may be granted.[38]

 

Similarly, the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282, in his Very Urgent Motion to Issue Clarificatory Resolution, argues that since motions for reconsideration were filed by the aggrieved parties challenging our October 18, 2011 decision in the present case, the TRO we initially issued on September 13, 2011 should remain subsisting and effective. He further argues that any attempt by the Executive to implement our October 18, 2011 decision pending resolution of the motions for reconsideration borders on disrespect if not outright insolence[39] to this Court.

 

In support of this theory, the petitioner cites Samad v. COMELEC,[40] where the Court held that while it had already issued a decision lifting the TRO, the lifting of the TRO is not yet final and executory, and can also be the subject of a motion for reconsideration. The petitioner also cites the minute resolution issued by the Court in Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance,[41] where the Court reproached the Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for manifesting its intention to implement the decision of the Court, noting that the Court had not yet lifted the TRO previously issued.[42]

We agree with the petitioner that the lifting of a TRO can be included as a subject of a motion for reconsideration filed to assail our decision. It does not follow, however, that the TRO remains effective until after we have issued a final and executory decision, especially considering the clear wording of the dispositive portion of our October 18, 2011 decision, which states:

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DISMISS the consolidated petitions assailing the validity of RA No. 10153 for lack of merit, and UPHOLD the constitutionality of this law. We likewise LIFT the temporary restraining order we issued in our Resolution of September 13, 2011. No costs.[43] (emphases ours)

 

 

In this regard, we note an important distinction between Tolentino and the present case. While it may be true that Tolentino and the present case are similar in that, in both cases, the petitions assailing the challenged laws were dismissed by the Court, an examination of the dispositive portion of the decision in Tolentino reveals that the Court did not categorically lift the TRO. In sharp contrast, in the present case, we expressly lifted the TRO issued on September 13, 2011. There is, therefore, no legal impediment to prevent the President from exercising his authority to appoint an acting ARMM Governor and Vice Governor as specifically provided for in RA No. 10153.

 

Conclusion

 

As a final point, we wish to address the bleak picture that the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 presents in his motion, that our Decision has virtually given the President the power and authority to appoint 672,416 OICs in the event that the elections of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials are postponed or cancelled.

 

We find this speculation nothing short of fear-mongering.

 

This argument fails to take into consideration the unique factual and legal circumstances which led to the enactment of RA No. 10153. RA No. 10153 was passed in order to synchronize the ARMM elections with the national and local elections. In the course of synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections, Congress had to grant the President the power to appoint OICs in the ARMM, in light of the fact that: (a) holdover by the incumbent ARMM elective officials is legally impermissible; and (b) Congress cannot call for special elections and shorten the terms of elective local officials for less than three years.

 

Unlike local officials, as the Constitution does not prescribe a term limit for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials, there is no legal proscription which prevents these specific government officials from continuing in a holdover capacity should some exigency require the postponement of barangay or Sangguniang Kabataan elections. Clearly, these fears have neither legal nor factual basis to stand on.

 

For the foregoing reasons, we deny the petitioners motions for reconsideration.

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY with FINALITY the motions for reconsideration for lack of merit and UPHOLD the constitutionality of RA No. 10153.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice


 

 

 

 

 

I reiterate my Dissenting Opinion

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

I reiterate my Dissenting Opinion

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

 

 

I maintain my vote joining the dissent of Justice Velasco

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

Associate Justice

 

 

(On Official Leave)

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

Associate Justice

 

 

I maintain my dissent

ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice

 

 

 

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.

Associate Justice

 

 

I join the Dissent of J. Carpio

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

 

 

 

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

 

 

(On Leave)

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

BIENVENIDO L. REYES

Associate Justice

 

 

 

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE

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 Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice



* On official leave.

** On leave.

[1] Rollo, G.R. No. 196271, p. 1221.

[2] Id. at 1261-1263.

[3] Id. at 1345-1383.

[4] Id. at 1174-1175.

[5] V Record of the Constitutional Commission, October 3, 1986, pp. 429-431.

[6] G.R. Nos. 100318, 100308, 100417, and 100420, July 30, 1991, 199 SCRA 750.

[7] Id. at 762.

[8] See Ruben, Statutory Construction, 5th ed., 2003, p. 435, citing Roman Cath. Apostolic Adm. of Davao, Inc. v. Land Reg. Com., et al., 102 Phil. 596 (1957).

 

[9] Francisco, Jr. v. The House of Representatives, 460 Phil. 830, 884 (2003).

 

[10] Amores v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 189600, June 29, 2010, 622 SCRA 593, citing Adasa v. Abalos, G.R. No. 168617, February 19, 2007, 516 SCRA 261, 280, and Philippine Free Press, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 510 Phil. 411, 433 (2005).

[11] Section 7, Article XVIII of RA No. 9054 provides:

Section 7. First Regular Elections. The first regular elections of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and members of the regional legislative assembly under this Organic Act shall be held on the second Monday of September 2001. The Commission on Elections shall promulgate rules and regulations as may be necessary for the conduct of said election.

 

The election of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor, and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) set forth in Republic Act No. 8953 is hereby reset accordingly.

 

The funds for the holding of the ARMM elections shall be taken from the savings of the national government or shall be provided in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

[12] Rollo, G.R. No. 196271, pp. 1035-1037.

[13] Ruben, supra note 8, at 74, citing Morales v. Subido, etc., 135 Phil. 346 (1968).

[14] Id., citing People v. Garcia, 85 Phil. 651 (1950).

[15] Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 provides: Consistent with the provisions of the Constitution, this Organic Act may be re-amended or revised by the Congress of the Philippines upon a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the Members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate voting separately.

[16] 32 Phil. 36, 49 (1915), citing Lewis' Southernland on Statutory Construction, section 244.  

[17] CONSTITUTION, Article VI, Section 16(2) states: A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and may compel the attendance of absent Members in such manner, and under such penalties, as such House may provide.

[18] See The City of Davao v. The Regional Trial Court, Branch XII, Davao City, 504 Phil. 543 (2005), citing 59 C.J., sec. 500, pp. 899-900.  

[19] Rollo, G.R. No. 196271, pp. 1084-1085.

[20] Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 provides: Any amendment to or revision of this Organic Act shall become effective only when approved by a majority of the vote cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose, which shall be held not earlier than sixty (60) days or later than ninety (90) days after the approval of such amendment or revision.

[21] These include: (a) the basic structure of the regional government; (b) the regions judicial system, i.e., the  special  courts  with  personal, family, and property law jurisdiction; and (c) the grant and extent of the legislative powers constitutionally conceded to the regional government under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution.

[22] Adap v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 161984, February 21, 2007, 516 SCRA 403; Sambarani v. COMELEC, 481 Phil. 661 (2004); and Montesclaros v. Comelec, 433 Phil. 620 (2002).

[23] Guekeko v. Santos, 76 Phil. 237 (1946).

[24] See CONSTITUTION, Article IX(C), Section 2.

[25] Hon. Luis Mario M. General, Commissioner, National Police Commission v. Hon. Alejandro S. Urro, in his capacity as the new appointee vice herein petitioner Hon. Luis Mario M. General, National Police Commission, and Hon. Luis Mario M. General, Commissioner, National Police Commission v. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, thru Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza, in Her capacity as the appointing power, Hon. Ronaldo V. Puno, in His capacity as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government and as Ex-Officio Chairman of the National Police Commission and Hon. Eduardo U. Escueta, Alejandro S. Urro, and Hon. Constancia P. de Guzman as the midnight appointee, G.R. No. 191560, March 29, 2011.

[26] II Record of the Constitutional Commission, July 31, 1986, p. 520.

[27] CONSTITUTION, Article VII, Section 16.

[28] Pimentel, Jr. v. Exec. Secretary Ermita, 509 Phil. 567 (2005).

[29] Id. at 573, citing Sarmiento III v. Commissioner Mison, 240 Phil. 505 (1987).

[30] Section 16. The President shall exercise general supervision over autonomous regions to ensure that laws are faithfully executed.

[31] Bito-onon v. Hon. Yap Fernandez, 403 Phil. 693, 702 (2001), citing Drilon v. Lim, G.R. No. 112497, August 4, 1994, 235 SCRA 135, 141.

[32] Drilon v. Lim, supra, at 140-141.

[33] Rollo, G.R. No. 196271, pp. 1057-1058.

[34] Section 35. Filling of vacancy. - Pending an election to fill a vacancy arising from any cause in the Sangguniang Pampook, the vacancy shall be filled by the President, upon recommendation of the Sangguniang Pampook: Provided, That the appointee shall come from the same province or sector of the member being replaced.

[35] Rep. of the Phils. v. Sandiganbayan (First Div.), 525 Phil. 804 (2006).

[36] Eternal Gardens Memorial Park Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 247 Phil. 387, 394 (1988).

[37] Section 1(a), Rule 12 of the 2010 Internal Rules of the Supreme Court provides: SECTION 1. Voting requirements. (a) All decisions and actions in Court en banc cases shall be made upon the concurrence of the majority of the Members of the Court who actually took part in the deliberations on the issue or issues involved and voted on them.

[38] Rollo, G.R. No. 196271, p. 1440.

[39] Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, G.R. No. 115455, September 23, 1994, Minute Resolution.

[40] G.R. Nos. 107854 and 108642, July 16, 1993, 224 SCRA 631.

[41] G.R. Nos. 115455, 115525, 115543, 115544, 115754, 115781, 115852, 115873, and 115931, August 25, 1994, 235 SCRA 630.

[42] The Court, in its Minute Resolution dated September 23, 1994, stated thus:

The Court calls the attention of respondents of the fact that the temporary restraining order issued on June 30, 1994 was effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court. Although the petitions in connection with which the TRO was issued were subsequently dismissed, the decision is not yet final and the TRO previously issued has not been lifted xxx because the TRO in these cases was expressly made effective until otherwise ordered by this Court. (Rollo, G.R. No. 196271, p. 1426; emphasis ours.)

[43] Rollo, G.R. No. 196271, p. 1067.