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Gender Corner
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Gender Corner

Legal Feminism in Philippine Gender Jurisprudence

10 May 2024
03 May 2024
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31 January 2024
26 January 2024
06 December 2023
02 December 2023
30 November 2023
28 November 2023
28 November 2023
28 November 2023
11 October 2023
05 October 2023
21 September 2023

WOMEN’S
MONTH

GENDER
DATA

2022-2023 Search for Inspirational Women in the Judiciary

CEDAW –
Full Text

A.M. No. 21-11-25-SC
(Guidelines on the Use of Gender-Fair Language)

CEDAW
Gender Discrimination defined

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7877 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995), SEC. 3

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11313
(Safe Spaces Act)

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9710
An Act Providing for the Magna Carta of Women

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9710
An Act Providing for the Magna Carta of Women

COMPARISON BETWEEN R.A. NO. 11313 (Safe Spaces Act), R.A. 7877 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act),
AND R.A. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Children)

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9262
(Anti-Violence Against
Women and their Children
Act of 2004),
SEC. 3 (A).

COMPARISON BETWEEN R.A. NO. 7877
(Anti-Sexual Harassment Act), AND OFFENSES OF RAPE, ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS, QUALIFIED SEDUCTION AND UNJUST VEXATION UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11313,
OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE SAFE SPACES ACT, DOES NOT UNDO REPUBLIC
ACT NO. 7877, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS
THE ANTI-SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT OF 1995

2022-2023 Search for Inspirational Women in the Judiciary

CEDAW –
Full
Text

A.M.
No. 21-11-25-SC

CEDAW Gender Discrimination defined

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7877 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995), SEC. 3

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11313
(Safe Spaces
Act)

COMPARISON BETWEEN R.A. NO. 11313 (Safe Spaces Act), R.A. 7877 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act), AND R.A. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Children)

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9262
(Anti-Violence Against
Women and their Children
Act of 2004),
SEC. 3 (A).

COMPARISON BETWEEN R.A. NO. 7877
(Anti-Sexual Harassment Act), AND OFFENSES OF RAPE, ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS, QUALIFIED SEDUCTION AND UNJUST VEXATION UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11313,
OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE SAFE SPACES ACT, DOES NOT UNDO REPUBLIC
ACT NO. 7877, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS
THE ANTI-SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT OF 1995

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CEDAW - Gender Discrimination defined

The term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. (Article 1, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women)

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7877
(Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995), SEC. 3

Sexual harassment as defined and penalized under Republic Act No. 7877 requires three elements for an accused to be convicted: (1) that the employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor, or any other person has authority, influence, or moral-ascendancy over another; (2) the authority, influence, or moral ascendancy exists in a work-related, training-related, or education-related environment, and (3) the employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor, or any other person who has authority, influence, or moral-ascendancy over another makes a demand, request, or requirement of a sexual favor.

The key elements which distinguish sexual harassment, as penalized by Republic Act 7877, from other chastity-related and vexatious offenses are: first, its setting; and second, the person who may commit it. As to its setting, the offense may only be committed in a work-related, training-related, or education-related environment. As to the perpetrator, it may be committed by a person who exercises authority, influence, or moral ascendancy over another.  (Escandor v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 211962, July 6, 2020)

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11313 (Safe Spaces Act)

WHAT IS GENDER?

Republic Act No. 11313, or the Safe Spaces Act, prohibits and penalizes several forms of gender-based sexual harassment.  The Safe Spaces Act defines gender as “a set of socially ascribed characteristics, norms, roles, attitudes, values and expectations identifying the social behavior of men and women, and the relations between them.”

WHAT IS A PUBLIC SPACE?

Refers to streets, alleys, public parks, schools, buildings, malls, bars, restaurants, transportation terminals, public markets, spaces used as evacuation centers, government offices, public utility vehicles as well as private vehicles covered by app-based transport network services and other recreational spaces such as, but not limited to, cinema halls, theaters and spas. (Sec. 3(g))

The crimes of gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment are committed through any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks.

Gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment includes catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs, persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance, relentless requests for personal details, statement of sexual comments and suggestions, public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any advances, whether verbal or physical, that is unwanted and has threatened one’s sense of personal space and physical safety, and committed in public spaces such as alleys, roads, sidewalks and parks.  Acts constitutive of gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment are those performed in buildings, schools, churches, restaurants, malls, public washrooms, bars, internet shops, public markets, transportation terminals or public utility vehicles. (Sec. 4)

WHAT IS GENDER-BASED ONLINE SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

Gender-based online sexual harassment includes acts that use information and communications technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats, unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist remarks and comments online whether publicly or through direct and private messages, invasion of victim’s privacy through cyberstalking and incessant messaging, uploading and sharing without the consent of the victim, any form of media that contains photos, voice, or video with sexual content, any unauthorized recording and sharing of any of the victim’s photos, videos, or any information online, impersonating identities of victims online or posting lies about victims to harm their reputation, or filing, false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims. (Sec.12)

WHEN CAN THERE BE QUALIFIED GENDER-BASED STREETS, PUBLIC SPACES AND ONLINE SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

(a) If the act takes place in a common carrier or PUV, including, but not limited to, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, or app-based transport network vehicle services, where the perpetrator is the driver of the vehicle and the offended party is a passenger;

(b) If the offended party is a minor, a senior citizen, or a person with disability (PWD), or a breastfeeding mother nursing her child;

(c) If the offended party is diagnosed with a mental problem tending to impair consent;

(d) If the perpetrator is a member of the uniformed services, such as the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the act was perpetrated while the perpetrator was in uniform; and

(e) If the act takes place in the premises of a government agency offering frontline services to the public and the perpetrator is a government employee.

The penalty next higher in degree will be applied in the aforementioned cases. (Sec. 15)

WHAT IS GENDER-BASED SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE?

The crime of gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace includes the following:

(a) An act or series of acts involving any unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demand for sexual favors or any act of sexual nature, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems, that has or could have a detrimental effect on the conditions of an individual’s employment or education, job performance or opportunities;

(b) A conduct of sexual nature and other conduct-based on sex affecting the dignity of a person, which is unwelcome, unreasonable, and offensive to the recipient, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems;

(c) A conduct that is unwelcome and pervasive and creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment for the recipient: Provided, That the crime of gender-based sexual harassment may also be committed between peers and those committed to a superior officer by a subordinate, or to a teacher by a student, or to a trainer by a trainee; and

(d) Information and communication system refers to a system for generating, sending, receiving, storing or otherwise processing electronic data messages or electronic documents and includes the computer system or other similar devices by or in which data are recorded or stored and any procedure related to the recording or storage of electronic data messages or electronic documents. (Sec. 16)

WHAT IS GENDER-BASED SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN EDUCATIONAL AND TRAINING INSTITUTIONS?

Gender-based sexual harassment in educational and training institutions may be committed by principals, school heads, teachers, instructors, professors, coaches, trainers, or any person who has authority, influence or moral ascendency over another, students, and trainees. (Sec. 26, IRR of R.A. No. 11313)

All schools, whether public or private, shall designate an officer-in-charge to receive complaints regarding violations of this Act, and shall, ensure that the victims are provided with a gender-sensitive environment that is both respectful to the victims’ needs and conducive to truth-telling.

Every school must adopt and publish grievance procedures to facilitate the filing of complaints by students and faculty members. Even if an individual does not want to file a complaint or does not request that the school take any action on behalf of a student or faculty member and school authorities have knowledge or reasonably know about a possible or impending act of gender-based sexual harassment or sexual violence, the school should promptly investigate to determine the veracity of such information or knowledge and the circumstances under which the act of gender-based sexual harassment or sexual violence were committed, and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation. If a school knows or reasonably should know about acts of gender-based sexual harassment or sexual violence being committed that creates a hostile environment, the school must take immediate action to eliminate the same acts, prevent their recurrence, and address their effects.

Once a perpetrator is found guilty, the educational institution may reserve the right to strip the diploma from the perpetrator or issue an expulsion order.

The Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) of all educational institutions shall address gender-based sexual harassment and online sexual harassment in accordance with the rules and procedures contained in their CODI manual. (Sec. 21)

Minor students who are found to have committed acts of gender-based sexual harassment shall only be held liable for administrative sanctions by the school as stated in their school handbook. (Sec. 24)

SOME DUTIES INTRODUCED BY THE SAFE SPACES ACT TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT (LGUs), IMPLEMENTING BODIES, EMPLOYERS AND SCHOOL HEADS

Local Government Units

Implementing Bodies

Employers

Schools Heads

  • Pass an ordinance which localizes the applicability of the Act
  • Disseminate and post copies of the Act
  • Provide measures to prevent gender-based sexual harassment in educational institutions
  • Discourage and impose fines on acts of gender-based sexual harassment
  • Create an anti-sexual harassment hotline
  • Coordinate with the DILG

(Sec. 8)

The MMDA and the local units of the PNP for the provinces shall deputize its enforcers to be Anti-Sexual Harassment Enforcers (ASHE) who shall receive complaints on the street and immediately apprehend a perpetrator if caught in flagrante delicto
(Sec. 10)

  • Disseminate or post in a conspicuous place a copy of this Act to all persons in the workplace;
  • Provide measures to prevent gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace, such as the conduct of anti-sexual harassment seminars;
  • Create an independent internal mechanism or a committee on decorum and investigation to investigate and address complaints of gender-based sexual harassment which shall;

(1) Adequately represent the management, the employees from the supervisory rank, the rank-and-file employees, and the union, if any;
(2) Designate a woman as its head and not less than half of its members should be women;
(3) Be composed of members who should be impartial and not connected or related to the alleged perpetrator;
(4) Investigate and decide on the complaints within ten days or less upon receipt thereof;
(5) Observe due process;
(6) Protect the complainant from retaliation; and
(7) Guarantee confidentiality to the greatest extent possible

  • Provide and disseminate, in consultation with all persons in the workplace, a code of conduct or workplace policy which shall;

(1) Expressly reiterate the prohibition on gender-based sexual harassment;
(2) Describe the procedures of the internal mechanism created under Section 17(c) of this Act; and
(3) Set administrative penalties.
(Sec. 17)

  • Disseminate or post a copy of this Act in a conspicuous place in the educational institution;
  • Provide measures to prevent gender-based sexual harassment in educational institutions, like information campaigns:
  • Create an independent internal mechanism or a CODI to investigate and address complaints of gender-based sexual harassment which shall:

(1) Adequately represent the school administration, the trainers, instructors, professors or coaches and students or trainees, students and parents, as the case may be;
(2) Designate a woman as its head and not less than half of its members should be women;
(3) Ensure equal representation of persons of diverse sexual orientation, identity and/or expression, in the CODI as far as practicable;
(4) Be composed of members who should be impartial and not connected or related to the alleged perpetrator;
(5) Investigate and decide on complaints within ten (10) days or less upon receipt thereof;
(6) Observe due process;
(7) Protect the complainant from retaliation; and
(8) Guarantee confidentiality to the greatest extent possible

  • Provide and disseminate, in consultation with all persons in the educational institution, a code of conduct or school policy which shall:

(1) Expressly reiterate the prohibition on gender-based sexual harassment;
(2) Prescribe the procedures of the internal mechanism created under this Act; and
(3) Set administrative penalties.
(Sec. 22)

COMPARISON BETWEEN R.A. NO. 11313 (Safe Spaces Act), R.A. 7877 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act), AND R.A. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women And Children)

 

R.A. NO. 11313
(Safe Spaces Act)

R.A. NO. 7877 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act)

R.A. NO. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women And Children)

Relationship

No relationship required

Authority or moral ascendancy

Sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode

Acts

Gender-based discrimination or sexually predatory in nature

Abuse of power;
solicitation of sexual favors by a superior

Abuse of women and/or children where there is a background of intimacy

Liability of heads

Sec. 19: employer
Sec. 23: school heads

Sec. 5: employer or head of office, educational or training center

Sec. 30: barangay officials and law enforcers

Other reliefs

Sec. 27:
restraining order

Sec. 6:    separate and independent action for damages and other affirmative relief.

Sec. 8: barangay protection orders, temporary protection orders, permanent protection orders

Penalties

  • Gender-based Sexual Harassment in Streets and Public Spaces:  Sec. 11

 Fines (₱1,000 to ₱10,000)
Community
Service of twelve (12) hours inclusive of attendance to a Gender Sensitivity Seminar to be conducted by the PNP in coordination with the LGU and the PCW;
Imprisonment (arresto menor to arresto mayor)

  • Gender-based Online Sexual Harassment: Sec. 14

Fine: ₱100,000 to ₱500,000
Imprisonment: Prision correccional in its medium period
or both at the discretion of the court

  • Qualified Gender-based Streets, Public Spaces and Online Sexual Harassment: Sec. 15

Penalty next higher in degree will be applied

  • Gender-based Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Sec. 19

Fine ₱5,000 to ₱15,000

  • Gender-based Sexual Harassment in Educational and Training Institutions: Sec. 23

Fine: ₱ 5,000 to ₱15,000

Sec. 7:1-6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of ₱10,000 to ₱20,000

Sec. 6: Fine of ₱100,000 to ₱300,000 and imprisonment  arresto mayor to prision mayor.

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9262
(Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004), SEC. 3 (A).

“Violence against women and their children” refers to any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats-cf such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”

COMPARISON BETWEEN R.A. 7877 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act), AND OFFENSES OF RAPE, ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS, QUALIFIED SEDUCTION AND UNJUST VEXATION UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE

 

R.A. 7877
 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act)

RAPE (Article 335, Revised Penal Code)

ACTS OF LASCI-VIOUSNESS
(Article 336, Revised Penal
 Code)

QUALIFIED SEDUC-TION
(Article 337, Revised Penal Code)

UNJUST VEXA-TION
(Article 287, Revised Penal Code)

Perpetra-tor

person having authority, influence or moral ascendancy  over another in work-related, educational or training environment or institution

Offender/
rapist

Any person who commits an act of lasciviousness against a person of either sex

offender is a person in public authority, priest, house servant, domestic, guardian, teacher, one entrusted with the education or custody of the offended party, or a brother or ascendant of the offended party

Any person who commits a course of conduct that causes substantial emotional distress.

Elements

 (1) employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor, or any other person who has authority, influence, or moral-ascendancy over another;
(2) authority, influence, or moral ascendancy exists in a work-related, training-related, or education-related environment, and
(3) employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor, or any other person who has authority, influence, or moral-ascendancy over another makes a demand, request, or requirement of a sexual favor.

Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:

  1. By using force or intimidation;
  2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and
  3. When the woman is under 12 years of age, even though neither of the circumstances mentioned in the 2 preceding paragraphs shall be present.

(1) offender commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness;
(2) act of lasciviousness is committed against a person of either sex;
(3) it is done under any of the following circumstances:

  1.  By using force or intimidation; or
  2.  When the offended party is deprives of reason or otherwise unconscious; or
  3. By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; or
  4. When the offended party is under 12 years of age or is demented.
  1. The offended party is a virgin, which is presumed if she is unmarried and of good reputation;
  2. She must be over 12 and under 18 years of age;
  3. The offender has sexual intercourse with her; and
  4. There is abuse of authority, confidence or relation-ship on the part of the offender.
  1. There is a human conduct that unjustly annoys or irritates another person;
  2. Such human conduct was not attended with violence;
  3. Such human conduct caused annoyance, irritation, torment, distress or distur-bance to the mind of the person.

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11313, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE SAFE SPACES ACT, DOES NOT UNDO REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7877, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE ANTI-SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT OF 1995

Republic Act No. 11313, otherwise known as the Safe Spaces Act, penalizes gender-based sexual harassment, and is founded on, among others, the recognition that “both men and women must have equality, security and safety not only in private, but also on the streets, public spaces, online, workplaces and educational an training (sic) and training institutions.” It addresses four (4) categories of gender-based sexual harassment: gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment; gender-based online sexual harassment; gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace; and, gender-based sexual harassment in educational and training institutions.

In line with fundamental constitutional provisions regarding human dignity and human rights, the Safe Spaces Acts expands the concept of discrimination and protects persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. It thus recognizes gender-based sexual-harassment as including, among others, “misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs.”

The Safe Spaces Act does not undo or abandon the definition of sexual harassment under the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law of 1995. The gravamen of the offenses punished under the Safe Spaces Act is the act of sexually harassing a person on the basis of the his/her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, while that of the offense punished under the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 is abuse of one’s authority, influence or moral ascendancy so as to enable the sexual harassment of a subordinate. (Escandor v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 211962, July 6, 2020)

Privacy Notice for the Supreme Court website

Statement of Commitment to Data Privacy and Security

The Supreme Court of the Philippines respects your privacy and your data privacy rights, as well as employs reasonable measures to protect your personal data in accordance with Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA), its Implementing Rules and Regulations, and the various issuances of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) (collectively, the Data Privacy Regulations).

Brief Service Description and Its General Purpose

Use of the Supreme Court Website

The Supreme Court website serves as the online repository of Supreme Court information, references, and resources accessible to the public. By agreeing to use the Supreme Court website, you agree to the collection, use, disclosure, processing, and storage of your non-personal identification information to enable the Supreme Court to monitor the website’s engagement.

What personal data do we collect?

The Supreme Court website, other than the Email Form (see separate Privacy Notice – Email Form), does not collect personal data or cookies. The following non-personal identification information, however, are collected and stored by WordPress Statistics, a third-party service, to enable the Supreme Court to monitor the website’s performance through its engagement with visitors:

(a) Browser;

(b) Device; and

(c) Internet Protocol address.

The information collected by WordPress Statistics are limited to the foregoing.

For further understanding, please see the brief discussion on WordPress Statistics below.

Why do we collect your non-personal identification information?

The information collected through WordPress Statistics shall be processed to enable the Supreme Court, not only to effectively manage its website, but also to efficiently disseminate information to the public.

How do we process your non-personal identification information?

Where you have provided us with your non-personal identification information, you agree to our collection, use, disclosure, storage, and other processing for the purposes and in the manner set forth in this Privacy Notice.

WordPress Statistics

The Supreme Court website uses a third-party website, WordPress Statistics, to gather anonymous statistical information from site visitors and analyze the web traffic data. Such data is not shared with any other party. WordPress Statistics collects the following:

  • Browser;
  • Device; and
  • Internet Protocol address.

For more information, you may visit: https://wp-statistics.com/2018/08/16/wp-statistics-gdpr/

How do we protect your non-personal identification information?

The foregoing information, which are encrypted, shall be captured, stored, and retrieved by the Supreme Court through the third-party server, WordPress Statistics, solely for the specific purposes stated in this Privacy Notice, i.e., for reference in helping the Supreme Court in effectively managing its website. The data shall be processed and stored with utmost security and confidentiality.

Only authorized website administrators of the Supreme Court have access to the collected data stored and reported in WordPress Statistics as installed in the Supreme Court website, which in turn are subject to strict security protocols.

How long will we keep your non-personal identification information?

The collected information shall be stored in the Supreme Court website database. The Public Information Office (PIO) directly administers and maintains the database and the Supreme Court website. Only the PIO website administrators and authorized personnel shall be granted access to the database of the Supreme Court website. Sharing of any information that are contained in the said database with unauthorized persons is strictly prohibited.

The non-personal identification information collected by WordPress Statistics is stored in its database and is accessible to the Supreme Court at any time via statistics reports until WordPress Statistics is uninstalled.

In all cases, the information will be stored in a secure manner to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Upon expiration of the period of retention, the information collected through the Supreme Court website shall be disposed of and discarded in a secure manner that would prevent further processing, unauthorized access, or disclosure of your data.

Changes to our Privacy Notice:

The Privacy Notice may be updated from time to time. If material changes are required, any revisions shall be published on the Supreme Court website under the News and Announcements page for your immediate guidance. Therefore, we encourage you to review this Privacy Notice periodically so that you are up to date on our most current policies and practices.

This Privacy Notice was last updated on February 20, 2024.

How do you contact us?

If you have any privacy concerns or questions about your data privacy rights or our Privacy Notice, please contact us through:

JUDICIARY’S DATA PROTECTION OFFICER
Supreme Court of the Philippines
Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila
Philippines 1000
+63 3 8552 9566
dataprivacy.sc@judiciary.gov.ph

1987Constitution

The Supreme Court Under
the 1987 Constitution

As in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, the 1987 Constitution provides that “[t]he judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.” (Art. VII, Sec. 1). The exercise of judicial power is shared by the Supreme Court with all lower courts, but it is only the Supreme Court’s decisions that are vested with precedential value or doctrinal authority, as its interpretations of the Constitution and the laws are final and beyond review by any other branch of government.

Unlike the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, however, the 1987 Constitution defines the concept of judicial power. Under paragraph 2 of Section 1, Article VIII, “judicial power” includes not only the “duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable” but also “to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.” This latter provision dilutes the effectivity of the “political question” doctrine which places specific questions best submitted to the political wisdom of the people beyond the review of the courts.

Building on previous experiences under former Constitutions, the 1987 Constitution provides for specific safeguards to ensure the independence of the Judiciary. These are found in the following provisions:

    • The grant to the Judiciary of fiscal autonomy. “Appropriations for the Judiciary may not be reduced by the legislature below the amount appropriated for the previous year, and, after approval, shall be automatically and regularly released.” (Art. VIII, Sec. 3).
    • The grant to the Chief Justice of authority to augment any item in the general appropriation law for the Judiciary from savings in other items of said appropriation as authorized by law. (Art. VI, Sec. 25[5])
    • The removal from Congress of the power to deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 5 of Article VIII.
    • The grant to the Court of the power to appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with the Civil Service Law (Art. VIII, Sec. 5 [6])
    • The removal from the Commission of Appointments of the power to confirm appointments of justices and judges (Art. VIII, Sec. 8)
    • The removal from Congress of the power to reduce the compensation or salaries of the Justices and judges during their continuance in office. (Art. VIII, Sec. 10)
    • The prohibition against the removal of judges through legislative reorganization by providing that “(n)o law shall be passed reorganizing the Judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its members. (Art. VIII, Sec. 2)
    • The grant of sole authority to the Supreme Court to order the temporary detail of judges. (Art. VIII, Sec. 5[3])
    • The grant of sole authority to the Supreme Court to promulgate rules of procedure for the courts. (Art. VIII, Sec. 5[5])
    • The prohibition against designating members of the Judiciary to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative function. (Art. VIII, Sec. 12)
    • The grant of administrative supervision over the lower courts and its personnel in the Supreme Court. (Art. VIII, Sec. 6)

The Supreme Court under the present Constitution is composed of a Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices. The members of the Court are appointed by the President from a list, prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council, of at least three nominees for every vacancy. This new process is intended to “de-politicize” the courts of justice, ensure the choice of competent judges, and fill existing vacancies without undue delay.

RevolutionaryGovernment

The Supreme Court Under
the Revolutionary Government

Shortly after assuming office as the seventh President of the Republic of the Philippines after the successful People Power Revolution, then President Corazon C. Aquino declared the existence of a revolutionary government under Proclamation No. 1 dated February 25, 1986. Among the more significant portions of this Proclamation was an instruction for “all appointive officials to submit their courtesy resignations beginning with the members of the Supreme Court.” The call was unprecedented, considering the separation of powers that the previous Constitutions had always ordained, but understandable considering the revolutionary nature of the post-People Power government. Heeding the call, the members of the Judiciary—from the Supreme Court to the Municipal Circuit Courts—placed their offices at the disposal of the President and submitted their resignations. President Corazon C, Aquino proceeded to reorganize the entire Court, appointing all 15 members.

On March 25, 1986, President Corazon Aquino, through Proclamation No. 3, also abolished the 1973 Constitution and put in place a Provisional “Freedom” Constitution. Under Article I, Section 2 of the Freedom Constitution, the provisions of the 1973 Constitution on the judiciary were adopted insofar as they were not inconsistent with Proclamation No. 3.

Article V of Proclamation No. 3 provided for the convening of a Constitutional Commission composed of 50 appointive members to draft a new constitution; this would be implemented by Proclamation No. 9. Under the leadership of retired SC Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma as its President, the Constitutional Commission of 1986 submitted its output of to the people for ratification.

By a vote of 76.30%, the Filipino people then ratified the Constitution submitted to them in a national plebiscite on February 2, 1987.

President Aquino, other civilian officials, and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, upon the announcement of the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, swore allegiance to the new charter on February 11, 1987 thereby putting an end to the revolutionary government.

1973

The Supreme Court Under
the 1973 Constitution

The declaration of Martial Law through Proclamation No. 1081 by former President Ferdinand E, Marcos in 1972 brought about the transition from the 1935 Constitution to the 1973 Constitution. This transition had implications on the Court’s composition and functions.

This period also brought in many legal issues of transcendental importance and consequence. Among these were the legality of the ratification of a new Constitution, the assumption of the totality of government authority by President Marcos, and the power to review the factual basis for a declaration of Martial Law by the Chief Executive, among others. Also writ large during this period was the relationship between the Court and the Chief Executive who, under Amendment No. 6 to the 1973 Constitution, had assumed legislative powers even while an elected legislative body continued to function.

The 1973 Constitution increased the number of the members of the Supreme Court from 11 to 15, with a Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices. The Justices of the Court were appointed by the President alone, without the consent, approval, or recommendation of any other body or officials.

Ayuntamiento

The Supreme Court of
the Second Republic

Following liberation from the Japanese occupation at the end of the Second World War and the Philippines’ subsequent independence from the United States, Republic Act No. 296 or the Judiciary Act of 1948 was enacted. This law grouped together the cases over which the Supreme Court could exercise exclusive jurisdiction for review on appeal, certiorari, or writ of error.

SupremeCourt

The Supreme Court During
the Commonwealth

Following the ratification of the 1935 Philippine Constitution in a plebiscite, the principle of separation of powers was adopted, not by express and specific provision to that effect, but by actual division of powers of the government—executive, legislative, and judicial—in different articles of the 1935 Constitution.

As in the United States, the judicial power was vested by the 1935 Constitution “in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as may be established by law.” It devolved on the Judiciary to determine whether the acts of the other two departments were in harmony with the fundamental law.

The Court during the Commonwealth was composed of “a Chief Justice and ten Associate Justices, and may sit en banc or in two divisions, unless otherwise provided by law.”

ArellanoCourt

The Establishment of
the Supreme Court of the Philippines

On June 11, 1901, the Second Philippine Commission passed Act No. 136 entitled “An Act Providing for the Organization of Courts in the Philippine Islands” formally establishing the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands and creating Courts of First Instance and Justices of the Peace Courts throughout the land. The judicial organization established by the Act was conceived by the American lawyers in the Philippine Commission, with its basic structures patterned after similar organizations in the United States.

The Supreme Court created under the Act was composed of a Chief Justice and six Judges. Five members of the Court could form a quorum, and the concurrence of at least four members was necessary to pronounce a judgment.

Act No. 136 abolished the Audiencia established under General Order No. 20 and declared that the Supreme Court created by the Act be substituted in its place. This effectively severed any nexus between the present Supreme Court and the Audiencia.

The Anglo-American legal system under which the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands was expected to operate was entirely different from the old Spanish system that Filipinos were familiar with. Adjustments had to be made; hence, the decisions of the Supreme Court during its early years reflected a blend of both the Anglo-American and Spanish systems. The jurisprudence was a gentle transition from the old order to the new.

VillamorHall

The Judicial System During
the American Occupation

After Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American War in the late 1890s, The subsequent occupation by the Americans of the Philippine Islands paved the way for considerable changes in the control, disposition, and governance of the Islands.

The judicial system established during the regime of the military government functioned as an instrument of the executive—not of the judiciary—as an independent and separate branch of government. Secretary of State John Hay, on May 12, 1899, proposed a plan for a colonial government of the Philippine Islands which would give Filipinos the largest measure of self-government. The plan contemplated an independent judiciary manned by judges chosen from qualified locals and Americans.

On May 29, 1899, General Elwell Stephen Otis, Military Governor for the Philippines, issued General Order No. 20, reestablishing the Audiencia Teritorial de Manila which was to apply Spanish laws and jurisprudence recognized by the American military governor as continuing in force.

The Audiencia was composed of a presiding officer and eight members organized into two divisions: the sala de lo civil or the civil branch, and the sala de lo criminal or the criminal branch.

It was General Otis himself who personally selected the first appointees to the Audiencia. Cayetano L. Arellano was appointed President (equivalent to Chief Justice) of the Court, with Manuel Araullo as president of the sala de lo civil and Raymundo Melliza as president of the salo de lo criminal. Gregorio Araneta and Lt. Col. E.H. Crowder were appointed associate justices of the civil branch while Ambrosio Rianzares, Julio Llorente, Major R.W. Young, and Captain W.E. Brikhimer were designated associate justices of the criminal branch. Thus, the reestablished Audiencia became the first agency of the new insular government where Filipinos were appointed side by side with Americans.

SpanishRegime

The Judicial System Under
the Spanish Regime

During the early Spanish occupation, King Philip II established the Real Audiencia de Manila which was given not only judicial but legislative, executive, advisory, and administrative functions as well. Composed of the incumbent governor general as the presidente (presiding officer), four oidores (equivalent to associate justices), an asesor (legal adviser), an alguacil mayor (chief constable), among other officials, the Real Audiencia de Manila was both a trial and appellate court. It had exclusive original, concurrent original, and exclusive appellate jurisdictions.

Initially, the Audiencia was given a non-judicial role in the colonial administration, to deal with unforeseen problems within the territory that arose from time to time—it was given the power to supervise certain phases of ecclesiastical affairs as well as regulatory functions, such as fixing of prices at which merchants could sell their commodities. Likewise, the Audiencia had executive functions, like the allotment of lands to the settlers of newly established pueblos. However, by 1861, the Audiencia had ceased to perform these executive and administrative functions and had been restricted to the administration of justice.

When the Audiencia Territorial de Cebu was established in 1886, the name of the Real Audiencia de Manila was changed to Audiencia Territorial de Manila.

Map

The Judicial System of the
Pre-Colonization Filipinos

When the Spanish colonizers first arrived in the Philippine archipelago, they found the indigenous Filipinos without any written laws. The laws enforced were mainly derived from customs, usages, and tradition. These laws were believed to be God-given and were orally transmitted from generation to generation.

A remarkable feature of these customs and traditions was that they were found to be very similar to one another notwithstanding that they were observed in widely dispersed islands of the archipelago. There were no judges and lawyers who were trained formally in the law, although there were elders who devoted time to the study of the customs, usages, and traditions of their tribes to qualify them as consultants or advisers on these matters.

The unit of government of the indigenous Filipinos was the barangay, which was a family-based community of 30 to 100 families, occupying a pook (“locality” or “area”) headed by a chieftain called datu who exercised all functions of government—executive, legislative, and judicial—a barangay was not only a political but a social and an economic organization. In the exercise of his judicial authority, the datu acted as a judge (hukom) in settling disputes and deciding cases in his barangay.