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Dec 7, 2009

Sec. 1: President

“The executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines.”

Sec. 2: Qualifications
  1. Natural-born citizen
  2. Registered voter
  3. Able to read and write
  4. At least 40 yrs old on the day of election
  5. Resident for at least 10 yrs immediately preceding the election

Sec. 3: Vice-President
  • Same qualifications and term of office as Pres
  • Elected and removed in same manner as Pres
  • May be a member of the Cabinet without need of confirmation



Sec. 4: Election and Term of Office

PRESIDENT – six years without re-election
VICE-PRESIDENT – six years, 2 successive terms

Q: If the Vice-President succeeds in the Presidency, is he allowed to run for President in the next election?
A: Yes, provided he did not hold the office of the President for more than 4 yrs.

Congress as Board of Canvassers

PROCEDURE:
  1. Duly certified returns from each province or city shall be transmitted to Congress, directed to the Senate President
  2. Upon receipt of certificate of canvass, the Senate President shall, not later than 30 days after election day, open all the certificates in the presence of the Senate and the House of reps in a joint public session
  3. Congress shall determine the due authenticity and due execution of the certificate canvass and start canvassing the votes
  4. Congress shall proclaim the candidate having the highest number of votes
  5. In case of tie, Congress shall vote separately and the candidate having the majority votes of all members of both Houses shall be proclaimed the winner

Role of Congress in Presidential Election is to canvass the votes (See Barbers vs. Comelec)

Supreme Court en banc as Presidential Electoral Tribunal
Sole judge of all contents relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose


NOTA BENE:

  • No pre-proclamation controversy is allowed against Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidates, EXCEPT: the correction of manifest errors in the certificate of canvass or election returns or State of Votes
  • Only the candidate who garners the second or third highest number of votes may question the proclamation of a winner.

COMELEC has no jurisdiction over pre-proclamation controversies in presidential, vice-presidential, senatorial and congressional elections; Correction of Manifest Error in the Statement of Votes may be filed directly with COMELEC en banc

Sandoval vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 133842, Jan. 26, 2000

The case involves the elective office of congressman of one legislative district, which is contested on the ground of manifest error arising from the non-inclusion of 19 election returns in the canvass, thus making the same incomplete.

While the COMELEC has exclusive jurisdiction over all pre-proclamation controversies, the exception to the general rule can be found under sec. 15 of RA 7166 which prohibits candidates in the presidential, vice-presidential, senatorial and congressional elections from filing pre-proclamation cases.

The prohibition aims to avoid delay in the proclamation of the winner in the election, which delay might result in a vacuum in these sensitive posts. The law, nonetheless, provides an exception to the exception. The second sentence of Sec. 15 allows the filing of petitions for correction of manifest errors in the certificate of canvass or election returns even in elections for president, vice-president and members of the House for the simple reason that the correction of manifest error will not prolong the process of canvassing nor delay the proclamation of the winner in the election.

Correction of a manifest error in the Statement of Votes may be filed directly with the COMELEC en banc (rule 27, sec. 5, 1993 Rules of the COMELEC). This is another exception to the rule that pre-proclamation controversies must first be heard and decided by a division of the Commission.

In determination of the case, the COMELEC must observe due process of law since this involves the exercise of its quasi-judicial power.


Protestant cannot be substituted by widow in case of death of the former pending resolution of election protest; Substitute must be a real party in interest

Poe vs. Arroyo, PET Case No. 002, March 29, 2005

FACTS:

GMA and FPJ both ran for President in the May 10, 2004 elections. GMA obtained the highest number of votes, with FPJ at second place. On July 23, 2004, after GMA took her Oath of Office, FPJ seasonably filed an election protest but while case was pending, FPJ died of cardio-pulmonary arrest. Mrs. FPJ, through counsel, filed a petition for substitution, substituting herself for her deceased husband.

ISSUE: Whether or not the window of a deceased candidate is a proper party in an election contest

RULING:

...only two persons, the 2nd and 3rd placers, may contest the election. By this express enumeration, the rule makers have in effect determined the real parties in interest concerning an on-going election contest. It envisioned a scenario where, if the declared winner had not been truly voted upon by the electorate, the candidate who received that 2nd or 3rd highest number of votes would be the legitimate beneficiary in a successful election contest.

Suppletory application of the Rules of Court

Rule 3, Sec. 16 is the rule on substitution in the Rules of Court. This rule allows substitution by a legal representative. It can be gleaned from the citation of this rule that movant/intervenor seeks to appear before this Tribunal as the legal representative/substitute of the late protestant prescribed by said Sec. 16. However, in our application of this rule to an election contest, we have every time ruled that a public office is personal to the public officer and not a property transmissible to the heirs upon death. Thus, we consistently rejected substation by the widow or the heirs in election contests where the protestant dies during the pendency of the protest. In Vda. De De Mesa vs. Mencias, we recognized substitution upon the death of the protestee but denied substitution by the widow or heirs since they are not the real parties in interest. Similarly, in the later case of De la Victoria vs. Commission on Elections, we struck down the claim of the surviving spouse and children of the protestee to the contested office for the same reason. Even in analogous cases before other electoral tribunals, involving substitution by the widow of a deceased protestant, in cases where the widow is not a real party in interest, we denied substitution by the wife or heirs.

Who may question: Real Party in Interest

...We have held...that while the right to a public office is personal and exclusive to the public officer, an election protest is not purely personal and exclusive to the protestant or to the protestee such that the death of either would oust the court of all authority to continue the protest proceedings. Hence, we have allowed substitution and intervention by only by a real party in interest. A real party in interest is the party who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, and the party who is entitled to the avails of the suit. In Vda. De De Mesa vs. Mencias and Lomugdang vs. Javier, we permitted substitution by the vice-mayor since the vice-mayor is a real party in interest considering that if the protest succeeds and the protestee is unseated, the vice-mayor succeeds to the office of the mayor that becomes vacant if the one duly elected cannot assume office. In contrast, herein movant/intervenor, Mrs. FPJ, herself denies any claim to the august office of President. Thus, given the circumstances of this case, we can conclude that protestant’s widow is not a real party in interest to this election protest.


Effect of resumption of old post on the election protest

Santiago vs. Ramos, PET Case No. 001, Feb. 13, 1996

In assuming the office of Senator, the protestant has effectively abandoned or withdrawn her election protests, thereby making it moot.

The term of office of the Senators elected in the 8 May 1995 election is six years, the first three of which coincides with the last three years of the term of the President elected in the 11 May 1992 synchronized elections. The latter would be Protestant Santiago’s term if she would succeed in proving in the instant protest that she was the true winner in the 1992 elections. In assuming the office of Senator then, the Protestant has effectively abandoned or withdrawn this protest, or at the very least, in the language of Moraleja, abandoned her “determination to protect and pursue the public interest involved in the matter of who is the real choice of the electorate.” Such abandonment or withdrawal operates to render moot the instant protest. Moreover, the dismissal of this protest would serve public interest as it would dissipate the aura of uncertainty as to the results of the 1992 presidential election, thereby enhancing the all-to crucial political stability of the nation during this period of national recovery. It must also be stressed that under the Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, an election protest may be summarily dismissed, regardless of the public policy and public interest implications thereof, on the following grounds: (1) The petition is insufficient in form and substance; (2) The petition is filed beyond the periods provided in Rules 14 and 15 hereof; (3) The filing fee is not paid within the periods provided for in these Rules; (4) The cash deposit, or the first P 100,000.00 thereof, is not paid within 10 days after the filing of the protest; and (5) The petition or copies thereof and the annexes thereto filed with the Tribunal are not clearly legible. Other grounds for a motion to dismiss, e.g., those provided in the Rules of Court which apply in a suppletory character, may likewise be pleaded as affirmative defenses in the answer. After which, the Tribunal may, in its discretion, hold a preliminary hearing on such grounds. In sum, if an election be dismissed on technical grounds, then it must be, for a decidedly stronger reason, if it has become moot due to its abandonment by the Protestant.

The protestant abandoned her election protest when she waived the revision of the remaining ballots and failed to inform the tribunal whether she still intends to present additional evidence after the completion of the revision of the ballots from the pilot areas

This Tribunal cannot close its eyes to the fact that the Protestant has decided to waive the revision of the remaining unrevised ballots from 4,017 precincts out of the 17,527 precincts of the designated three pilot areas. This is an unabashed reversal from her original stand in her Motion and Manifestation dated 18 October 1993. Taking this into account, this Tribunal declared in its resolution of 21 October 1993: After deliberating on the foregoing pleadings and the arguments of the parties, the Tribunal rules for the Protestant insofar as the revision of the remaining ballot boxes from her pilot areas are concerned, and against the immediate application of Rule 61 of the Rules of the Tribunal to the Protestee in respect of the Counter-Protest. At this stage of the proceedings in this case it cannot be reasonably determined whether the revised ballots are “considerable” enough to establish a trend either in favor of or against the Protestant as would justify an appropriate action contemplated in Rule 61 of the Rules of the Tribunal, or whether the unrevised ballots from said areas would not, in the language of the Protestant, “materially affect the result of the representative sample of the ballot boxes so far revised.” As to the 1,300 ballot boxes from Makati, the proper time to raise the objections to the ballot boxes and its contents would be during the revision stage. Consequently, we resolved therein to: A. ORDER the revision of the remaining unrevised ballot boxes enumerated in the aforequoted paragraph A to the 5 October 1995 Resolution and for the purpose to DiRECT the Acting Clerk of Court of the Tribunal to collect said ballot boxes and other election documents and paraphernalia from their respective custodians in the event that their revisions in connection with other election protests in which they are involved have been terminated, and if such revisions are not yet completed, to coordinate with the appropriate tribunal or court in which such other election protests are pending and which have already obtained custody of the ballot boxes and started revision with the end in view of either seeking expeditious revisions in such other election protests or obtaining the custody of the ballot boxes and related election documents and paraphernalia for their immediate delivery to the Tribunal; and B. REQUIRE the Protestant to inform the Tribunal, within ten (10) days from receipt hereof, if after the completion of the revision of the ballots from her pilot areas she would present evidence in connection therewith. Until the present,however, the Protestant has not informed the Tribunal whether after the completion of the revision of the ballots from her pilot areas, she still intends to present evidence in connection therewith. This failure then, is nothing short of a manifest indication that she no longer intends to do so.


Sec. 6: Privilege and Salary

PRIVILEGES:
  1. Official residence (Malacanang Palace)
  2. Immunity from suit – not provided in the Constitution; to prevent distraction from performance of duties

SALARY
  • Fixed by law
  • Cannot be decreased during tenure (actual time he held office) and cannot be increased during his term (only upon expiration of the term)
  • Shall not receive during tenure any other emolument from Government or any other source

Sec. 7 and 8: Assumption of Office and Succession
WHEN: before noon of June 30
  • If President-elect fails to qualify, dies or is permanently incapacitated, Vice-President-elect becomes the President
  • If the President-elect becomes incapacitated temporarily, the Vice-President-elect will act as President until such a time that the President can assume office
  • If there is failure to elect the president, the Vice-President will assume or act as President
  • If the President, during his term, dies, gets disabled permanently, is removed from office, or resigns, the Vice-President becomes the President

SUCCESSION IN CASE OF VACANCY:
  1. Vice-President
  2. Senate President
  3. Speaker of the House

Sec. 9: Vacancy of Vice-Presidency
The President shall nominate one from the Senate and the House of Reps who shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all the Members of the Houses, voting separately

Sec. 10: Special Election in Case of Vacancy
WHEN: 10:00 a.m. of the third day after the vacancy
Congress will convene without need of a call and within 7 days enact a law calling for a special election to be held not earlier than 45 days nor later than 60 days from time of such call

Sec. 11: Acting President
GROUND: inability to discharge the powers and duties of the office
HOW: written declaration of the President or majority of his Cabinet
Vice-President shall assume office as Acting President
RESUMPTION OF OFFICE: also through written declaration of the President; if majority of Cabinet denies such declaration, Congress shall decide the issue (if not in session, Congress will convene within 48 hrs) within 10 days (12 days if not in session), by 2/3 vote

Sec. 12: Illness of the President
Public shall be informed of the state of his health
Members of the Cabinet in charge of national security and foreign relations and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces shall not be denied access to the President during such illness

Sec. 13: Prohibition
  1. Cannot hold any other office or employment during tenure
  2. Cannot, during tenure, directly or indirectly practice any profession, participate in any business or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government
  3. Strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office
  4. President’s spouse and relatives by consanguinity or affinity within the 4th civil degree be appointed as members of the Constitutional Commissions, or the Office of the Ombudsman, or as Secretaries, Undersecretaries, chairmen or heads of bureaus or offices, including GOCCs and subsidiaries

WHO CANNOT HOLD ANY OTHER OFFICE DURING TENURE:
  1. President
  2. Vice-President
  3. Cabinet Members
  4. Deputies and Assistants

EXCEPTIONS:
  1. When Vice-President is appointed as member of the Cabinet
  2. When Vice-President acts as President
  3. When Secretary of Justice is also a member of the Judiciary


Q: Does the President have the same prohibition as Congress?
A: No, because Congress is only prohibited from holding offices in GOCCs and any other government instrumentality, agency or subsidiary during term while Executive is prohibited from holding any other office, whether public or private during tenure.

Q: What is ex officio capacity?
A: When an official holds other duties for the same office where he does not receive additional compensation and the office is required by his primary function.

Sec. 14 and 15: Appointments extended by Acting President
  • Effective unless revoked by the elected President within 90 days from his assumption or reassumption of office
  • Acting President shall not make appointments 2 mos immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, EXCEPT: temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety

Sec. 16: Appointing Power

TYPES OF APPOINTMENT:
  1. Regular
  2. Ad Interim
  3. Temporary

Acting Appointments, effect and validity (See Pimental vs. Executive Secretary)

Q: When is Congress considered to be in recess?
A: Recess it not the time between the adjournment of Congress and the start of its regular session. The recess referred to here is the times of interval of the session of the same Congress.

Q: How long will ad interim appointments last?
A: Such appointments will last until disapproved by the Commission on Appointments or until the next adjournment of Congress.

WHO ARE APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT:
  1. Heads of executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, 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 – requires confirmation from Commission on Appointments
  2. All other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided by law
  3. Those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint
  4. Officers lower in rank whose appointments the Congress may by law vest in the President alone

Nature of Ad Interim Appointment; Rights of Ad Interim Appointee; How Ad Interim Appointment is Terminated; Effect of Ad Interim Appointment as to Reappointment

Matibag vs. Benipayo, G.R. No. 149036, April 2, 2002

FACTS:

COMELEC en banc appointed petitioner as “Acting Director IV” of the EID. Such appointment was renewed in “temporary” capacity twice, first by Chairperson Demetrio and then by Commissioner Javier. Later, PGMA appointed, ad interim, Benipayo as COMELEC Chairman, and Borra and Tuason as COMELEC Commissioners, each for a term of 7 yrs. The three took their oaths of office and assumed their positions. However, since the Commission on Appointments did not act on said appointments, PGMA renewed the ad interim appointments.

ISSUES:
  • Whether or not the assumption of office by Benipayo, Borra and Tuason on the basis of the ad interim appointments issued by the President amounts to a temporary appointment prohibited by Sec. 1(2), Art. IX-C
  • Assuming that the first ad interim appointments and the first assumption of office by Benipayo, Borra and Tuason are legal, whether or not the renewal of their ad interim appointments and subsequent assumption of office to the same positions violate the prohibition on reappointment under Sec. 1(2), Art. IX-C

RULING:

Nature of an Ad Interim Appointment

An ad interim appointment is a permanent appointment because it takes effect immediately and can no longer be withdrawn by the President once the appointee has qualified into office. The fact that is subject to confirmation by the Commission on Appointments does not alter its permanent character. The Constitution itself makes an ad interim appointment permanent in character by making it effective until disapproved by the Commission on Appointments or until the next adjournment of Congress. The second paragraph of Sec.16, Art.VII of the Constitution provides as follows:

“The President shall have the power to make appointments during the recess of the Congress, whether voluntary or compulsory, but such appointments shall be effective only until disapproval by the Commission on Appointments or until the next adjournment of the Congress.”

Thus, the ad interim appointment remains effective until such disapproval or next adjournment, signifying that it can no longer be withdrawn or revoked by the President. xxx

...the term “ad interim appointment”… means a permanent appointment made by the President in the meantime that Congress is in recess. It does not mean a temporary appointment that can be withdrawn or revoked at any time. The term, although not found in the text of the Constitution, has acquired a definite legal meaning under Philippine jurisprudence.

Rights of an Ad Interim Appointee

An ad interim appointee who has qualified and assumed office becomes at that moment a government employee and therefore part of the civil service. He enjoys the constitution protection that “[n]o officer or employee in the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause provided by law.” Thus, an ad interim appointment becomes complete and irrevocable once the appointee has qualified into office. The withdrawal or revocation of an ad interim appointment is possible only if it is communicated to the appointee before the moment he qualifies, and any withdrawal or revocation thereafter is tantamount to removal from office. Once an appointee has qualified, he acquires a legal right to the office which is protected not only by statute but also by the Constitution. He can only be removed for cause, after notice and hearing, consistent with the requirements of due process.

How Ad Interim Appointment is Terminated

An ad interim appointment can be terminated for two causes specified in the Constitution. The first cause is the disapproval of his ad interim appointment by the Commission on Appointments. The second cause is the adjournment of Congress without the Commission on Appointments acting on his appointment. These two causes are resolutory conditions expressly imposed by the Constitution on all ad interim appointments. These resolutory conditions constitute, in effect, a Sword of Damocles over the heads of ad interim appointees. No one, however, can complain because it is the Constitution itself that places the Sword of Damocles over the heads of the ad interim appointees.

Ad Interim Appointment vs. Temporary Appointment

While an ad interim appointment is permanent and irrevocable except as provided by law, an appointment or designation in a temporary or acting capacity can be withdrawn or revoked at the pleasure of the appointing power. A temporary or acting appointee does not enjoy any security of tenure, no matter how briefly. This is the kind of appointment that the Constitution prohibits the President from making to the three independent constitutional commissions, including the COMELEC xxx

Was the renewal of appointment valid?

There is no dispute that an ad interim appointee disapproved by the Commission on Appointments can no longer be extended a new appointment. The disapproval is a final decision of the Commission on Appointments in the exercise of its checking power on the appointing authority of the President. The disapproval is a decision on the merits, being a refusal by the Commission on Appointments to give its consent after deliberating on the qualifications of the appointee. Since the Constitution does not provide for any appeal from such decision, the disapproval is final and binding on the appointee as well as on the appointing power. In this instance, the President can no longer renew the appointment not because of the constitutional prohibition on reappointment, but because of a final decision by the Commission on Appointments to withhold its consent to the appointment.

An ad interim appointment that is by-passed because of lack of time or failure of the Commission on Appointments to organize is another matter. A by-passed appointment is one that has not been finally acted upon on the merits by the Commission on Appointments at the close of the session of Congress. There is no final decision by the Commission on Appointments to give or withhold its consent to the appointment as required by the Constitution. Absent such decision, the President is free to renew the ad interim appointment of a by-passed appointee xxx

The prohibition on reappointment in Section 1 (2), Article IX-C of the Constitution applies neither to disapproved nor by-passed ad interim appointments. A disapproved ad interim appointment cannot be revived by another ad interim appointment because the disapproval is final under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution, and not because a reappointment is prohibited under Section 1 (2), Article IX-C of the Constitution. A by-passed ad interim appointment can be revived by a new ad interim appointment because there is no final disapproval under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution, and such new appointment will not result in the appointee serving beyond the fixed term of seven years.

Appointment Power of President; Power of Control

Rufino vs. Endriga, G.R. No. 139554, July 21, 2006

Appointment Power of President

Under Section 16, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, the President appoints three groups of officers. The first group refers to the heads of the Executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in the President by the Constitution. The second group refers to those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint. The third group refers to all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided by law.

Under the same Section 16, there is a fourth group of lower-ranked officers whose appointments Congress may by law vest in the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards. The present case involves the interpretation of Section 16, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution with respect to the appointment of this fourth group of officers.

The President appoints the first group of officers with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. The President appoints the second and third groups of officers without the consent of the Commission on Appointments. The President appoints the third group of officers if the law is silent on who is the appointing power, or if the law authorizing the head of a department, agency, commission, or board to appoint is declared unconstitutional. Thus, if Section 6(b) and (c) of PD 15 is found unconstitutional, the President shall appoint the trustees of the CCP Board because the trustees fall under the third group of officers.

Scope of Appointment Power of the Heads of Departments, Agencies, Commissions or Boards

The framers of the 1987 Constitution clearly intended that Congress could by law vest the appointment of lower-ranked officers in the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards. The deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission explain this intent beyond any doubt.

The framers of the 1987 Constitution changed the qualifying word “inferior” to the less disparaging phrase “lower in rank” purely for style. However, the clear intent remained that these inferior or lower in rank officers are the subordinates of the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards who are vested by law with the power to appoint. The express language of the Constitution and the clear intent of its framers point to only one conclusion — the officers whom the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards may appoint must be of lower rank than those vested by law with the power to appoint.

Congress may vest the authority to appoint only in the heads of the named offices

Further, Section 16, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution authorizes Congress to vest “in the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards” the power to appoint lower-ranked officers. xxx

In a department in the Executive branch, the head is the Secretary. The law may not authorize the Undersecretary, acting as such Undersecretary, to appoint lower-ranked officers in the Executive department. In an agency, the power is vested in the head of the agency for it would be preposterous to vest it in the agency itself. In a commission, the head is the chairperson of the commission. In a board, the head is also the chairperson of the board. In the last three situations, the law may not also authorize officers other than the heads of the agency, commission, or board to appoint lower-ranked officers.

The grant of the power to appoint to the heads of agencies, commissions, or boards is a matter of legislative grace. Congress has the discretion to grant to, or withhold from, the heads of agencies, commissions, or boards the power to appoint lower-ranked officers. If it so grants, Congress may impose certain conditions for the exercise of such legislative delegation, like requiring the recommendation of subordinate officers or the concurrence of the other members of the commission or board.

This is in contrast to the President’s power to appoint which is a self-executing power vested by the Constitution itself and thus not subject to legislative limitations or conditions. The power to appoint conferred directly by the Constitution on the Supreme Court en banc and on the Constitutional Commissions is also self-executing and not subject to legislative limitations or conditions.
The Constitution authorizes Congress to vest the power to appoint lower-ranked officers specifically in the “heads” of the specified offices, and in no other person. The word “heads” refers to the chairpersons of the commissions or boards and not to their members xxx.

President’s Power of Control

The presidential power of control over the Executive branch of government extends to all executive employees from the Department Secretary to the lowliest clerk. This constitutional power of the President is self-executing and does not require any implementing law. Congress cannot limit or curtail the President’s power of control over the Executive branch.
xxx

The CCP does not fall under the Legislative or Judicial branches of government. The CCP is also not one of the independent constitutional bodies. Neither is the CCP a quasi-judicial body nor a local government unit. Thus, the CCP must fall under the Executive branch. Under the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, any agency “not placed by law or order creating them under any specific department” falls “under the Office of the President.”

Since the President exercises control over “all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices,” the President necessarily exercises control over the CCP which is an office in the Executive branch. In mandating that the President “shall have control of all executive x x x offices,” Section 17, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution does not exempt any executive office — one performing executive functions outside of the independent constitutional bodies — from the President’s power of control. There is no dispute that the CCP performs executive, and not legislative, judicial, or quasi-judicial functions.

The President’s power of control applies to the acts or decisions of all officers in the Executive branch. This is true whether such officers are appointed by the President or by heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards. The power of control means the power to revise or reverse the acts or decisions of a subordinate officer involving the exercise of discretion.

In short, the President sits at the apex of the Executive branch, and exercises “control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices.” There can be no instance under the Constitution where an officer of the Executive branch is outside the control of the President. The Executive branch is unitary since there is only one President vested with executive power exercising control over the entire Executive branch. Any office in the Executive branch that is not under the control of the President is a lost command whose existence is without any legal or constitutional basis.

The Legislature cannot validly enact a law that puts a government office in the Executive branch outside the control of the President in the guise of insulating that office from politics or making it independent. If the office is part of the Executive branch, it must remain subject to the control of the President. Otherwise, the Legislature can deprive the President of his constitutional power of control over “all the executive x x x offices.” If the Legislature can do this with the Executive branch, then the Legislature can also deal a similar blow to the Judicial branch by enacting a law putting decisions of certain lower courts beyond the review power of the Supreme Court. This will destroy the system of checks and balances finely structured in the 1987 Constitution among the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.

Of course, the President’s power of control does not extend to quasi-judicial bodies whose proceedings and decisions are judicial in nature and subject to judicial review, even as such quasi-judicial bodies may be under the administrative supervision of the President. It also does not extend to local government units, which are merely under the general supervision of the President.


Sec. 17: Power of Control

Power to Reorganize

Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB vs. Zamora, G.R. No. 142801-802, July 10, 2001

FACTS:

Pres. Estrada issued EO 191, deactivating the EIIB and transferring its functions to the BOC and NBI. As a result, the EIIB personnel were deemed separated from service.

RULING:

Deactivation vs. Abolition

At first glance, it seems that the resolution of this case hinges on the question – Does the “deactivation” of EIIB constitute “abolition” of an office? However, after coming to terms with the prevailing law and jurisprudence, we are certain that the ultimate queries should be – a) Does the President have the authority to reorganize the executive department? And b) How should the reorganization be carried out?

Surely, there exists a distinction between the words “deactivate” and “abolish.” To “deactivate” means to render inactive or ineffective or to break up by discharging or reassigning personnel, while to “abolish” means to do away with, to annul, abrogate or destroy completely. In essence, abolition denotes an intention to do away with the office wholly and permanently. Thus, while in abolition, the office ceases to exist, the same is not true in deactivation where the office continues to exist, albeit remaining dormant or inoperative. Be that as it may, deactivation and abolition are both reorganization measures.

GR: Congress has power to abolish

The general rule has always been that the power to abolish a public office is lodged with the legislature. This proceeds from the legal precept that the power to create includes the power to create includes the power to destroy. A public office is either created by the Constitution, by statute, or by authority of law. Thus, except where the office was created by the Constitution itself, may be abolished by the same legislature that brought it into existence.

The exception, however, is that as far as bureaus, agencies or offices in the executive department are concerned, the President’s power of control may justify him to inactivate the functions of a particular office, or certain laws may grant him the broad authority to carry out reorganization measures.

What law gives President power to reorganize?

In the whereas clause of E.O. No. 191, former President Estrada anchored his authority to deactivate EIIB on Section 77 of Republic Act 8745 (FY 1999 General Appropriations Act), a provision similar to Section 62 of R.A. 7645 quoted in Larin, thus;

“Sec. 77. Organized Changes. Unless otherwise provided by law or directed by the President of the Philippines, no changes in key positions or organizational units in any department or agency shall be authorized in their respective organizational structures and funded from appropriations provided by this Act.”

We adhere to the precedent or ruling in Larin that this provision recognizes the authority of the President to effect organizational changes in the department or agency under the executive structure. Such a ruling further finds support in Section 78 of Republic Act No. 8760. Under this law, the heads of departments, bureaus, offices and agencies and other entities in the Executive Branch are directed (a) to conduct a comprehensive review of their respective mandates, missions, objectives, functions, programs, projects, activities and systems and procedures; (b) identify activities which are no longer essential in the delivery of public services and which may be scaled down, phased-out or abolished; and (c) adopt measures that will result in the streamlined organization and improved overall performance of their respective agencies. Section 78 ends up with the mandate that the actual streamlining and productivity improvement in agency organization and operation shall be effected pursuant to Circulars or Orders issued for the purpose by the Office of the President. The law has spoken clearly. We are left only with the duty to sustain.

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

Was the reorganization valid?

It having been duly established that the President has the authority to carry out reorganization in any branch or agency of the executive department, what is then left for us to resolve is whether or not the reorganization is valid. In this jurisdiction, reorganizations have been regarded as valid provided they are pursued in good faith. Reorganization is carried out in ‘good faith’ if it is for the purpose of economy or to make bureaucracy more efficient. Pertinently, Republic Act No. 6656 provides for the circumstances which may be considered as evidence of bad faith in the removal of civil service employees made as a result of reorganization, to wit: (a) where there is a significant increase in the number of positions in the new staffing pattern of the department or agency concerned; (b) where an office is abolished and another performing substantially the same functions is created; (c) where incumbents are replaced by those less qualified in terms of status of appointment, performance and merit; (d) where there is a classification of offices in the department or agency concerned and the reclassified offices perform substantially the same functions as the original offices, and (e) where the removal violates the order of separation.

While basically, the functions of the EIIB have devolved upon the Task Force Aduana, we find the latter to have additional new powers. The Task Force Aduana, being composed of elements from the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and Intelligence Service Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), has the essential power to effect searches, seizures and arrests. The EIIB did not have this power. The Task Force Aduana has the power to enlist the assistance of any department, bureau, office, or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations; and to use their personnel, facilities and resources. Again, the EIIB did not have this power. And, the Task Force Aduana has the additional authority to conduct investigation of cases involving ill-gotten wealth. This was not expressly granted to the EIIB.

Consequently, it cannot be said that there is a feigned reorganization. In Blaquera v. Civil Sevice Commission, we ruled that a reorganization in good faith is one designed to trim the fat off the bureaucracy and institute economy and greater efficiency in its operation.

Valid abolition of office is not separation

Lastly, we hold that petitioners’ right to security of tenure is not violated. Nothing is better settled in our law than that the abolition of an office within the competence of a legitimate body if done in good faith suffers from no infirmity. Valid abolition of offices is neither removal nor separation of the incumbents.

Alter Ego Doctrine or Qualified Political Agency

Sec. of DOTC vs. Mabalot, 378 SCRA 129 (2000)

FACTS:

The Sec. of DOTC issued to LTFRB Chairman MO 96-735, transferring the regional functions of that office to DOTCCAR Regional Office, pending creation of a Regional LTFRO. Later, the new Sec. of DOTC issued DO 97-1025, establishing the DOTCCAR Regional Office as the Regional Office of the LTFRB to exercise regional functions of the LTFRB in the CAR subject to the direct supervision and control of the LTFRB Central Office. Mabalot protested.

ISSUE: W/N the MO and DO are violative of the provision of the Constitution against encroachment on the powers of the legislative department

HELD:

SC upheld the validity of the issuance of the challenged orders.

In the absence of any patent or latent constitutional or statutory infirmity attending the issuance of the challenged orders, Court upholds. The President, through his duly constituted political agent and alter ego, may legally and validly decree the reorganization of the Department, particularly the establishment of the DOTCCAR as the LTFRB Regional Office of CAR with the concomitant transfer and performance of public functions and responsibilities appurtenant to a regional office of the LTFRB.

There are three modes of establishing an administrative body: (1) Constitution; (2) Statute; and (3) by authority of law. This case falls under the third category.

The DOTC Secretary, as alter ego of the President, is authorized by law to create and establish the LTFRB-CAR Regional Office. This is anchored on the President’s “power of control” under sec. 17, Art. VII, 1987 Constitution.

Control

By definition, control is “the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter.” It includes the authority to order the doing of an act by a subordinate or to undo such act or to assume a power directly vested in him by law.

Under sec. 20, Bk. III, E.O. 292, the Chief Executive is granted residual powers, stating that “unless Congress provides otherwise, the President shall exercise such other powers and functions vested in the President which are provided for under the laws xxx”

What law then gives him the power to reorganize? It is PD 1772 which amended PD 1416. These decrees expressly grant the President of the Philippines the continuing authority to reorganize the national government, which includes the power to group, consolidate bureaus and agencies, to abolish offices, to transfer functions, to create and classify functions, services and activities and to standardize salaries and materials.

Granted that the President has the power to reorganize, was the reorganization of DOTCCAR valid?

In this jurisdiction, reorganization is regarded as valid provided it is pursued in good faith. As a general rule, a reorganization is carried out in good faith if it is for the purpose of economy or to make bureaucracy more efficient. The reorganization in the instant case was decreed “in the interest of service” and “for purposes of economy and more effective coOrdination of the DOTC functions in the Cordillera Administrative Region.” It thus bear the earmarks of good faith.


Power of President to Contract or Guarantee Foreign Loans may be delegated to Secretary of Finance but must first secure Prior Consent; What Powers May Not Be Delegated

Constantino vs. Cuisia, .G.R. No. 106064, Oct. 13, 2005

Power of President to contract or guarantee foreign loans (Sec. 20, Art. VII)

For their first constitutional argument, petitioners submit that the buyback and bond-conversion schemes do not constitute the loan “contract” or “guarantee” contemplated in the Constitution and are consequently prohibited. Sec. 20, Art. VII of the Constitution provides xxx

The language of the Constitution is simple and clear as it is broad. It allows the President to contract and guarantee foreign loans. It makes no prohibition on the issuance of certain kinds of loans or distinctions as to which kinds of debt instruments are more onerous than others. This Court may not ascribe to the Constitution meanings and restrictions that would unduly burden the powers of the President. The plain, clear and unambiguous language of the Constitution should be construed in a sense that will allow the full exercise of the power provided therein. It would be the worst kind of judicial legislation if the courts were to misconstrue and change the meaning of the organic act.

The only restriction that the Constitution provides, aside from the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board, is that the loans must be subject to limitations provided by law. In this regard, we note that Republic Act (R.A.) No. 245 as amended by Pres. Decree (P.D.) No. 142, s. 1973, entitled An Act Authorizing the Secretary of Finance to Borrow to Meet Public Expenditures Authorized by Law, and for Other Purposes, allows foreign loans to be contracted in the form of, inter alia, bonds.
xxx

Under the foregoing provisions, sovereign bonds may be issued not only to supplement government expenditures but also to provide for the purchase, redemption, or refunding of any obligation, either direct or guaranteed, of the Philippine Government.

On the Buyback Scheme

In their Comment, petitioners assert that the power to pay public debts lies with Congress and was deliberately withheld by the Constitution from the President. It is true that in the balance of power between the three branches of government, it is Congress that manages the country’s coffers by virtue of its taxing and spending powers. However, the law-making authority has promulgated a law ordaining an automatic appropriations provision for debt servicing by virtue of which the President is empowered to execute debt payments without the need for further appropriations.
xxx

Buyback is a necessary power which springs from the grant of the foreign borrowing power. Every statute is understood, by implication, to contain all such provisions as may be necessary to effectuate its object and purpose, or to make effective rights, powers, privileges or jurisdiction which it grants, including all such collateral and subsidiary consequences as may be fairly and logically inferred from its terms. The President is not empowered to borrow money from foreign banks and governments on the credit of the Republic only to be left bereft of authority to implement the payment despite appropriations therefor.

On Delegation of Power

Petitioners stress that unlike other powers which may be validly delegated by the President, the power to incur foreign debts is expressly reserved by the Constitution in the person of the President. They argue that the gravity by which the exercise of the power will affect the Filipino nation requires that the President alone must exercise this power. They submit that the requirement of prior concurrence of an entity specifically named by the Constitution–the Monetary Board–reinforces the submission that not respondents but the President “alone and personally” can validly bind the country.

Petitioners’ position is negated both by explicit constitutional and legal imprimaturs, as well as the doctrine of qualified political agency.

The evident exigency of having the Secretary of Finance implement the decision of the President to execute the debt-relief contracts is made manifest by the fact that the process of establishing and executing a strategy for managing the government’s debt is deep within the realm of the expertise of the Department of Finance, primed as it is to raise the required amount of funding, achieve its risk and cost objectives, and meet any other sovereign debt management goals.

If, as petitioners would have it, the President were to personally exercise every aspect of the foreign borrowing power, he/she would have to pause from running the country long enough to focus on a welter of time-consuming detailed activities–the propriety of incurring/guaranteeing loans, studying and choosing among the many methods that may be taken toward this end, meeting countless times with creditor representatives to negotiate, obtaining the concurrence of the Monetary Board, explaining and defending the negotiated deal to the public, and more often than not, flying to the agreed place of execution to sign the documents. This sort of constitutional interpretation would negate the very existence of cabinet positions and the respective expertise which the holders thereof are accorded and would unduly hamper the President’s effectivity in running the government.
Necessity thus gave birth to the doctrine of qualified political agency xxx

What powers may not be delegated

xxx There are certain presidential powers which arise out of exceptional circumstances, and if exercised, would involve the suspension of fundamental freedoms, or at least call for the supersedence of executive prerogatives over those exercised by co-equal branches of government. The declaration of martial law, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and the exercise of the pardoning power notwithstanding the judicial determination of guilt of the accused, all fall within this special class that demands the exclusive exercise by the President of the constitutionally vested power. The list is by no means exclusive, but there must be a showing that the executive power in question is of similar gravitas and exceptional import.

We cannot conclude that the power of the President to contract or guarantee foreign debts falls within the same exceptional class. Indubitably, the decision to contract or guarantee foreign debts is of vital public interest, but only akin to any contractual obligation undertaken by the sovereign, which arises not from any extraordinary incident, but from the established functions of governance.

Secretary of Finance must get prior consent of President

Another important qualification must be made. The Secretary of Finance or any designated alter ego of the President is bound to secure the latter’s prior consent to or subsequent ratification of his acts. In the matter of contracting or guaranteeing foreign loans, the repudiation by the President of the very acts performed in this regard by the alter ego will definitely have binding effect. Had petitioners herein succeeded in demonstrating that the President actually withheld approval and/or repudiated the Financing Program, there could be a cause of action to nullify the acts of respondents. Notably though, petitioners do not assert that respondents pursued the Program without prior authorization of the President or that the terms of the contract were agreed upon without the President’s authorization. Congruent with the avowed preference of then President Aquino to honor and restructure existing foreign debts, the lack of showing that she countermanded the acts of respondents leads us to conclude that said acts carried presidential approval.


Sec. 18: Commander-in-Chief Powers of the President:
  • Power to call on the military or armed forces
  • Power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus
  • Power to declare martial law


CALLING OUT POWER


Conditions for calling out the armed forces:
  • To suppress lawless violence, rebellion or invasion
  • Whenever it becomes necessary


MARTIAL LAW


Conditions for declaration of Martial Law:
  • When there is (1) rebellion or (2) invasion (grounds)
  • Public safety requires the declaration

NOTA BENE: There must be actual rebellion or invasion. Differ this from the calling out power which does not require actual rebellion or invasion but only that whenever it (the exercise of the calling out power) becomes necessary to suppress lawless violence, rebellion or invasion. (See Sanlakas vs. Reyes, G.R. No. 159085, Feb. 3, 2004)

What happens when Martial Law is declared:
  • No suspension of operation of the Constitution
  • No supplanting of the functioning of the civil courts and legislative assemblies
  • No conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function
  • No automatic suspension of the writ of habeas corpus

Constitutional guards against the power to declare Martial Law:
  • Will last only for 60 days, unless sooner revoked by Congress
  • Within 48 hours after declaration, President is required to submit a report to Congress
  • Congress shall revoke or extend the period by jointly voting with an absolute majority and President may not reverse such revocation
  • If Congress is not in session, they shall convene within 24 hours from such declaration without need for call
  • Supreme Court may nullify the declaration on the ground of lack of factual basis, judgment to be rendered within 30 days from its filing by any ordinary citizen


SUSPENSION OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS


(NOTE: the conditions and effect of the suspension of the writ is similar to declaration of martial law)

Restrictions to the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus:
  • Apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion
  • Apply only to persons judicially charged for offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion
  • The person arrested must be judicially charged within 3 days from arrest, otherwise he shall be released


Sec. 19: Executive Clemencies

“Except in cases of impeachment, or as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the President may grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment.

He shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.”

EXECUTIVE CLEMENCIES:
  1. Amnesty
  2. Pardon
  3. Reprieve
  4. Commutation
  5. Remit fines and forfeitures

Amnesty – an act of grace by the Chief Executive as a result of the grant of amnesty, the criminal liability of the offender and all the effects of the crime are completely erased. It is a blanket pardon given to a class of persons who committed crimes that are political in nature. To be valid, Congress has to concur with a majority vote (thus, it is a public act) and the accused must admit his guilt.

Pardon – a private act of the President granted after judgment by final conviction for ordinary offenses. It may be absolute or condition, in which case, acceptance of condition – if burdensome to the accused – is necessary. The effect is to relieve the accused from further punishment, thus, if given after sentence has been served, its effect is to extinguish the accessory penalties. In case of administrative cases, effect is reinstatement but no payment of backwages.

Reprieve – discretionary upon the President to suspend the enforcement of judgment

Sec. 20: Power to Contract or Guarantee Foreign Loans

Scope of Power (See Constantino vs. Cuisia)

Sec. 21: Treaty-making Power

“No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.”

Power to enter into and ratify treaties is sole prerogative of the Executive (See AKBAYAN vs. Aquino)

Power to Ratify by President vs. Senate’s Power to Concur

Bayan vs. Zamora, G.R. No. 138570, Oct. 10, 2000

Sec. 21, Art. VII vs. Sec. 25, Art. XVIII

One focal point of inquiry in this controversy is the determination of which provision of the Constitution applies, with regard to the exercise by the senate of its constitutional power to concur with the VFA. Petitioners argue that Section 25, Article XVIII is applicable considering that the VFA has for its subject the presence of foreign military troops in the Philippines. Respondents, on the contrary, maintain that Section 21, Article VII should apply inasmuch as the VFA is not a basing arrangement but an agreement which involves merely the temporary visits of United States personnel engaged in joint military exercises.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution contains two provisions requiring the concurrence of the Senate on treaties or international agreements. Section 21, Article VII, which herein respondents invoke, reads:

“No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.”

Section 25, Article XVIII, provides:

“After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

Section 21, Article VII deals with treatise or international agreements in general, in which case, the concurrence of at least two-thirds (2/3) of all the Members of the Senate is required to make the subject treaty, or international agreement, valid and binding on the part of the Philippines. This provision lays down the general rule on treatise or international agreements and applies to any form of treaty with a wide variety of subject matter, such as, but not limited to, extradition or tax treatise or those economic in nature. All treaties or international agreements entered into by the Philippines, regardless of subject matter, coverage, or particular designation or appellation, requires the concurrence of the Senate to be valid and effective.

In contrast, Section 25, Article XVIII is a special provision that applies to treaties which involve the presence of foreign military bases, troops or facilities in the Philippines. Under this provision, the concurrence of the Senate is only one of the requisites to render compliance with the constitutional requirements and to consider the agreement binding on the Philippines. Section 25, Article XVIII further requires that “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities” may be allowed in the Philippines only by virtue of a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate, ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a national referendum held for that purpose if so required by Congress, and recognized as such by the other contracting state.

It is our considered view that both constitutional provisions, far from contradicting each other, actually share some common ground. These constitutional provisions both embody phrases in the negative and thus, are deemed prohibitory in mandate and character. In particular, Section 21 opens with the clause “No treaty x x x,” and Section 25 contains the phrase “shall not be allowed.” Additionally, in both instances, the concurrence of the Senate is indispensable to render the treaty or international agreement valid and effective.

To our mind, the fact that the President referred the VFA to the Senate under Section 21, Article VII, and that the Senate extended its concurrence under the same provision, is immaterial. For in either case, whether under Section 21, Article VII or Section 25, Article XVIII, the fundamental law is crystalline that the concurrence of the Senate is mandatory to comply with the strict constitutional requirements.

On the whole, the VFA is an agreement which defines the treatment of United States troops and personnel visiting the Philippines. It provides for the guidelines to govern such visits of military personnel, and further defines the rights of the United States and the Philippine government in the matter of criminal jurisdiction, movement of vessel and aircraft, importation and exportation of equipment, materials and supplies.

Undoubtedly, Section 25, Article XVIII, which specifically deals with treaties involving foreign military bases, troops, or facilities, should apply in the instant case. To a certain extent and in a limited sense, however, the provisions of section 21, Article VII will find applicability with regard to the issue and for the sole purpose of determining the number of votes required to obtain the valid concurrence of the Senate, as will be further discussed hereunder.

Sec. 21, Art. VII should be read together with Sec. 25, Art. XVIII

At this juncture, we shall then resolve the issue of whether or not the requirements of Section 25 were complied with when the Senate gave its concurrence to the VFA.
Section 25, Article XVIII disallows foreign military bases, troops, or facilities in the country, unless the following conditions are sufficiently met, viz: (a) it must be under a treaty; (b) the treaty must be duly concurred in by the Senate and, when so required by congress, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum; and (c) recognized as a treaty by the other contracting state.

There is no dispute as to the presence of the first two requisites in the case of the VFA. The concurrence handed by the Senate through Resolution No. 18 is in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, whether under the general requirement in Section 21, Article VII, or the specific mandate mentioned in Section 25, Article XVIII, the provision in the latter article requiring ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a national referendum being unnecessary since Congress has not required it.

As to the matter of voting, Section 21, Article VII particularly requires that a treaty or international agreement, to be valid and effective, must be concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate. On the other hand, Section 25, Article XVIII simply provides that the treaty be “duly concurred in by the Senate.”

Applying the foregoing constitutional provisions, a two-thirds vote of all the members of the Senate is clearly required so that the concurrence contemplated by law may be validly obtained and deemed present. While it is true that Section 25, Article XVIII requires, among other things, that the treaty-the VFA, in the instant case-be “duly concurred in by the Senate,” it is very true however that said provision must be related and viewed in light of the clear mandate embodied in Section 21, Article VII, which in more specific terms, requires that the concurrence of a treaty, or international agreement, be made by a two -thirds vote of all the members of the Senate. Indeed, Section 25, Article XVIII must not be treated in isolation to section 21, Article, VII.

As noted, the “concurrence requirement” under Section 25, Article XVIII must be construed in relation to the provisions of Section 21, Article VII. In a more particular language, the concurrence of the Senate contemplated under Section 25, Article XVIII means that at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate favorably vote to concur with the treaty-the VFA in the instant case.

Under these circumstances, the charter provides that the Senate shall be composed of twenty-four (24) Senators. Without a tinge of doubt, two-thirds (2/3) of this figure, or not less than sixteen (16) members, favorably acting on the proposal is an unquestionable compliance with the requisite number of votes mentioned in Section 21 of Article VII. The fact that there were actually twenty-three (23) incumbent Senators at the time the voting was made, will not alter in any significant way the circumstance that more than two-thirds of the members of the Senate concurred with the proposed VFA, even if the two-thirds vote requirement is based on this figure of actual members (23). In this regard, the fundamental law is clear that two-thirds of the 24 Senators, or at least 16 favorable votes, suffice so as to render compliance with the strict constitutional mandate of giving concurrence to the subject treaty.

What constitutes a treaty

This Court is of the firm view that the phrase “recognized as a treaty” means that the other contracting party accepts or acknowledges the agreement as a treaty. To require the other contracting state, the United States of America in this case, to submit the VFA to the United States Senate for concurrence pursuant to its Constitution, is to accord strict meaning to the phrase. xxx

Moreover, it is inconsequential whether the United States treats the VFA only as an executive agreement because, under international law, an executive agreement is as binding as a treaty. To be sure, as long as the VFA possesses the elements of an agreement under international law, the said agreement is to be taken equally as a treaty.

Ratification by President vis-à-vis Concurrence of Senate

Worth stressing too, is that the ratification, by the President, of the VFA and the concurrence of the Senate should be taken as a clear an unequivocal expression of our nation’s consent to be bound by said treaty, with the concomitant duty to uphold the obligations and responsibilities embodied thereunder.

Ratification is generally held to be an executive act, undertaken by the head of the state or of the government, as the case may be, through which the formal acceptance of the treaty is proclaimed. A State may provide in its domestic legislation the process of ratification of a treaty. The consent of the State to be bound by a treaty is expressed by ratification when: (a) the treaty provides for such ratification, (b) it is otherwise established that the negotiating States agreed that ratification should be required, (c) the representative of the State has signed the treaty subject to ratification, or (d) the intention of the State to sign the treaty subject to ratification appears from the full powers of its representative, or was expressed during the negotiation.

In our jurisdiction, the power to ratify is vested in the President and not, as commonly believed, in the legislature. The role of the Senate is limited only to giving or withholding its consent, or concurrence, to the ratification.

With the ratification of the VFA, which is equivalent to final acceptance, and with the exchange of notes between the Philippines and the United States of America, it now becomes obligatory and incumbent on our part, under the principles of international law, to be bound by the terms of the agreement. Thus, no less than Section 2, Article II of the Constitution, declares that the Philippines adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations.

Who has power to ratify treaties?

By constitutional fiat and by the intrinsic nature of his office, the President, as head of State, is the sole organ and authority in the external affairs of the country. In many ways, the President is the chief architect of the nation’s foreign policy; his “dominance in the field of foreign relations is (then) conceded.” Wielding vast powers an influence, his conduct in the external affairs of the nation, as Jefferson describes, is “executive altogether."

As regards the power to enter into treaties or international agreements, the Constitution vests the same in the President, subject only to the concurrence of at least two-thirds vote of all the members of the Senate. In this light, the negotiation of the VFA and the subsequent ratification of the agreement are exclusive acts which pertain solely to the President, in the lawful exercise of his vast executive and diplomatic powers granted him no less than by the fundamental law itself. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude, and Congress itself is powerless to invade it. Consequently, the acts or judgment calls of the President involving the VFA-specifically the acts of ratification and entering into a treaty and those necessary or incidental to the exercise of such principal acts - squarely fall within the sphere of his constitutional powers and thus, may not be validly struck down, much less calibrated by this Court, in the absence of clear showing of grave abuse of power or discretion.

Senate’s Power to Concur

As to the power to concur with treaties, the constitution lodges the same with the Senate alone. Thus, once the Senate performs that power, or exercises its prerogative within the boundaries prescribed by the Constitution, the concurrence cannot, in like manner, be viewed to constitute an abuse of power, much less grave abuse thereof. Corollarily, the Senate, in the exercise of its discretion and acting within the limits of such power, may not be similarly faulted for having simply performed a task conferred and sanctioned by no less than the fundamental law.

For the role of the Senate in relation to treaties is essentially legislative in character; the Senate, as an independent body possessed of its own erudite mind, has the prerogative to either accept or reject the proposed agreement, and whatever action it takes in the exercise of its wide latitude of discretion, pertains to the wisdom rather than the legality of the act. In this sense, the Senate partakes a principal, yet delicate, role in keeping the principles of separation of powers and of checks and balances alive and vigilantly ensures that these cherished rudiments remain true to their form in a democratic government such as ours. The Constitution thus animates, through this treaty-concurring power of the Senate, a healthy system of checks and balances indispensable toward our nation’s pursuit of political maturity and growth. True enough, rudimentary is the principle that matters pertaining to the wisdom of a legislative act are beyond the ambit and province of the courts to inquire.

Power of President to Reclassify Public Lands and Sell the Same

Reclaimed Lands vs. Submerged Lands; When invalid sales may no longer be invalidated

Chavez vs. PEA & AMARI, G.R. No. 133250, May 6, 2003

FACTS:

The government through the PEA entered into a JVA with AMARI, a private corporation, in order to reclaim 157.84 hectares of lands comprising the Freedom Islands and 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay. The JVA provides, among others, the transfer of ownership of 77.34 hectares of the Freedom Islands to AMARI.

ISSUE: Whether or not the JVA is valid

RULING:

Reclaimed Lands are Alienable Lands of the Public Domain

The 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands, now covered by certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public domain. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws.

Submerged Areas are Inalienable

The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man.

JVA is invalid

The prevailing doctrine before, during and after the signing of the Amended JVA is that private corporations cannot hold, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. This is one of the two main reasons why the Decision annulled the Amended JVA. The other main reason is that submerged areas of Manila Bay, being part of the sea, are inalienable and beyond the commerce of man, a doctrine that has remained immutable since the Spanish Law on Waters of 1886. Clearly, the Decision merely reiterates, and does not overrule, any existing judicial doctrine.

Even on the characterization of foreshore lands reclaimed by the government, the Decision does not overrule existing law or doctrine. Since the adoption of the Regalian doctrine in this jurisdiction, the sea and its foreshore areas have always been part of the public domain. And since the enactment of Act No. 1654 on May 18, 1907 until the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution, statutory law never allowed foreshore lands reclaimed by the government to be sold to private corporations. The 1973 and 1987 Constitution enshrined and expanded the ban to include any alienable land of the public domain.

Exceptions to Invalid Sales: When they may be upheld

There are, of course, decisions of the Court which, while recognizing a violation of the law or Constitution, hold that the sale or transfer of the land may no longer be invalidated because of “weighty considerations of equity and social justice.” The invalidation of the sale or transfer may also be superfluous if the purpose of the statutory or constitutional ban has been achieved. But none of these cases apply to Amari.

Thus, the Court has ruled consistently that where a Filipino citizen sells land to an alien who later sells the land to a Filipino, the invalidity of the first transfer is corrected by the subsequent sale to a citizen. Similarly, where the alien who buys the land subsequently acquires Philippine citizenship, the sale is validated since the purpose of the constitutional ban to limit land ownership to Filipinos has been achieved. In short, the law disregards the constitutional disqualification of the buyer to hold land if the land is subsequently transferred to a qualified party, or the buyer himself becomes a qualified party. In the instant case, however, Amari has not transferred the Freedom Islands, or any portion of it, to any qualified party. In fact, Amari admits that title to the Freedom Islands still remains with PEA.

The Court has also ruled consistently that a sale or transfer of the land may no longer be questioned under the principle of res judicata, provided the requisites for res judicata are present. Under this principle, the courts and the parties are bound by a prior final decision, otherwise there will be no end to litigation. As the Court declared...“once a judgement has become final and executory, it can no longer be disturbed no matter how erroneous it may be.” In the instant case, there is no prior final decision adjudicating the Freedom Islands to Amari.

Properties of the Public Domain are outside the commerce of man; Abandonment does not amount to conversion; Congressional enactment needed to convey lands of the public domain

Laurel vs. Garcia, G.R. Nos. 92013 & 92047, July 25, 1990

FACTS:

The Roppongi Property is one of the four properties in Japan acquired by the Philippine government under the Reparations Agreement, as part of the indemnification to the Filipino people for their losses in life and property and their suffering during WWII. The Roppongi property became the site of the Philippine Embassy until the latter was transferred to another site when the Roppongi building needed major repairs. Due to the failure of our government to provide necessary funds, the Roppongi property has remained undeveloped since that time. After many years, the Aquino administration advanced the sale of the reparation properties, which included the Roppongi lot.

RULING:

Roppongi Property belongs to the Public Domain, hence outside the Commerce of Man

The nature of the Roppongi lot as property for public service is expressly spelled out. It is dictated by the terms of the Reparations Agreement and the corresponding contract of procurement which bind both the Philippine government and the Japanese government, that these were assigned to the government sector and that the Roppongi property itself was specifically designated under the Reparations Agreement to house the Philippine Embassy. There can be no doubt that it is of public dominion unless it is convincingly shown that the property has become patrimonial; which respondents have failed to show.

As property of public dominion, the Roppongi lot is outside the commerce of man. It cannot be alienated. Its ownership is a special collective ownership for general use and enjoyment, an application to the satisfaction of collective needs, and resides in the social group. The purpose is not to serve the State as a juridical person, but the citizens; it is intended for the common and public welfare and cannot be the object of appropriation.

But since Roppongi Property has not been used for any public purpose, was there abandonment amounting to conversion of said property as patrimonial?

The fact that the Roppongi site has not been used for a long time for actual Embassy service does not automatically convert it to patrimonial property. Any such conversion happens only if the property is withdrawn from public use (Cebu Oxygen and Acetylene Co. v. Bercilles, 66 SCRA 481 [1975]). A property continues to be part of the public domain, not available for private appropriation or ownership "until there is a formal declaration on the part of the government to withdraw it from being such (Ignacio v. Director of Lands, 108 Phil. 335 [1960]) An abandonment of the intention to use the Roppongi property for public service and to make it patrimonial property under Article 422 of the Civil Code must be definite. Abandonment cannot be inferred from the non-use alone specially if the non-use was attributable not to the government's own deliberate and indubitable will but to a lack of financial support to repair and improve the property (See Heirs of Felino Santiago v. Lazarao, 166 SCRA 368 [1988]). Abandonment must be a certain and positive act based on correct legal premises. In the present case, the recent Administrative Orders authorizing a study of the status and conditions of government properties in Japan were merely directives for investigation but did not in any way signify a clear intention to dispose of the properties. Further EO 296 does not declare that the properties lost their public character, but merely intends to make the properties available to foreigners and not to Filipinos alone in case of a sale, lease or other disposition.

Conveyance effected by Congressional Enactment

Section 79 (f) of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 (Conveyances and contracts to which the Government is a party) provides that “in cases in which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is a party to any deed or other instrument conveying the title to real estate or to any other property the value of which is in excess of P100,000, the respective Department Secretary shall prepare the necessary papers which, together with the proper recommendations, shall be submitted to the Congress of the Philippines for approval by the same. Such deed, instrument, or contract shall be executed and signed by the President of the Philippines on behalf of the Government of the Philippines unless the Government of the Philippines unless the authority therefor be expressly vested by law in another officer." The requirement has been retained in Section 48, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987 (EO 292; Official authorized to convey real property), which provides that “Whenever real property of the Government is authorized by law to be conveyed, the deed of conveyance shall be executed in behalf of the government by the following: (1) for property belonging to and titled in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, by the President, unless the authority therefor is expressly vested by law in another officer; (2) for property belonging to the Republic of the Philippines but titled in the name of any political subdivision or of any corporate agency or instrumentality, by the executive head of the agency or instrumentality." Thus, it is not for the President to convey valuable real property of the government on his or her own sole will. Any such conveyance must be authorized and approved by a law enacted by the Congress. It requires executive and legislative concurrence.

Who is authorized to reclaim foreshore and submerged land; Power to order reclamation of land is reposed in the President

Chavez vs. NHA, G.R. No. 164527, Aug. 15, 2007

FACTS:

This is a Petition for Prohibition and Mandamus seeking to declare null and void the JVA entered into by NHA and the R-II Builders, Inc.

Pursuant to a Memorandum Order on waste management issued by then Pres. Aquino, NHA undertook the Smokey Mountain Development and Reclamation Project (SMDRP) for the purpose of converting the Smokey Mountain dumpsite, inclusive of foreshore and submerged areas of Manila Bay, into a low cost medium rise housing complex and industrial/commercial site. A public bidding was held and R-II Builders, Inc. (RBI) was declared the winning bidder. Subsequently, NHA and R-II builders entered into a JVA implementing the Project. MO 415 of Pres. Aquino and P.O. 39 of Pres. Ramos, coupled with Special Patents issued by the DENR in favour of NHA, classified the reclaimed lands as alienable and disposable.

ISSUES:
  • Whether or not NHA and RBI may validly reclaim foreshore and submerged land
  • Whether or not RBI can acquire the reclaimed foreshore and submerged land areas
  • Whether or not RBI, being a private corporation, is disqualified from being a transferee of public land
RULING:

Who has authority to reclaim foreshore and submerged land?

Petitioner contends that the power and authority to reclaim lands of the public domain is exclusively vested in the PEA. Thus, neither NHA nor R-II builders may validly reclaim foreshore and submerged land.

But under EO 525, the requisites for a legal and valid reclamation project are:
1. Approval by the President;
2. Favourable recommendation of PEA; and
3. Undertaken by any of the following:
(a) By PEA
(b) By any person or entity pursuant to a contract it executed with PEA
(c) By the National Government agency or entity authorized under its charter to reclaim lands subject to consultation with PEA

Thus, while PEA under PD 1084 has the power to reclaim land and under EO 525 is primarily responsible for integrating, directing and coordinating reclamation projects, such authority is NOT exclusive and such power to reclaim may be granted or delegated to another government agency or entity or may even be undertaken by the National Government itself, PEA being only an agency and a part of the National Government.

While the authority of NHA to reclaim lands is challenged by petitioner, we find that the NHA had more than enough authority to do so under existing laws. While PD 757, the charter of NHA, does not explicitly mention "reclamation" in any of the listed powers of the agency, we rule that the NHA has an implied power to reclaim land as this is vital or incidental to effectively, logically, and successfully implement an urban land reform and housing program enunciated in Sec. 9 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution.

Basic in administrative law is the doctrine that a government agency or office has express and implied powers based on its charter and other pertinent statutes. Express powers are those powers granted, allocated, and delegated to a government agency or office by express provisions of law. On the other hand, implied powers are those that can be inferred or are implicit in the wordings of the law or conferred by necessary or fair implication in the enabling act In Angara v. Electoral Commission, the Court clarified and stressed that when a general grant of power is conferred or duty enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise of the one or the performance of the other is also conferred by necessary implication. It was also explicated that when the statute does not specify the particular method to be followed or used by a government agency in the exercise of the power vested in it by law, said agency has the authority to adopt any reasonable method to carry out its functions.

The power to reclaim on the part of the NHA is implicit from PD 757, RA 7279, MO 415, RA 6957, and PD 3-A.

Is the DENR’s authorization needed before a reclamation project in Manila Bay or in any part of the Philippines can be undertaken?

...[t]he NHA is still required to procure DENR's authorization before a reclamation project in Manila Bay or in any part of the Philippines can be undertaken. The requirement applies to PEA, NHA, or any other government agency or office granted with such power under the law.

Notwithstanding the need for DENR permission, we nevertheless find petitioner's position bereft of merit.

The DENR is deemed to have granted the authority to reclaim in the Smokey Mountain Project for the following reasons:

1. Sec. 17, Art. VII of the Constitution provides that "the President shall have control of all executive departments, bureaus and offices." The President is assigned the task of seeing to it that all laws are faithfully executed. "Control," in administrative law, means "the power of an officer to alter, modify, nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer has done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter."[71]

As such, the President can exercise executive power motu proprio and can supplant the act or decision of a subordinate with the President's own. The DENR is a department in the executive branch under the President, and it is only an alter ego of the latter. Ordinarily the proposed action and the staff work are initially done by a department like the DENR and then submitted to the President for approval. However, there is nothing infirm or unconstitutional if the President decides on the implementation of a certain project or activity and requires said department to implement it. Such is a presidential prerogative as long as it involves the department or office authorized by law to supervise or execute the Project. Thus, as in this case, when the President approved and ordered the development of a housing project with the corresponding reclamation work, making DENR a member of the committee tasked to implement the project, the required authorization from the DENR to reclaim land can be deemed satisfied. It cannot be disputed that the ultimate power over alienable and disposable public lands is reposed in the President of the Philippines and not the DENR Secretary. To still require a DENR authorization on the Smokey Mountain when the President has already authorized and ordered the implementation of the Project would be a derogation of the powers of the President as the head of the executive branch. Otherwise, any department head can defy or oppose the implementation of a project approved by the head of the executive branch, which is patently illegal and unconstitutional.
xxx

Moreover, the power to order the reclamation of lands of public domain is reposed first in the Philippine President. The Revised Administrative Code of 1987 grants authority to the President to reserve lands of public domain for settlement for any specific purpose, thus:

Section 14. Power to Reserve Lands of the Public and Private Domain of the Government.--(1) The President shall have the power to reserve for settlement or public use, and for specific public purposes, any of the lands of the public domain, the use of which is not otherwise directed by law. The reserved land shall thereafter remain subject to the specific public purpose indicated until otherwise provided by law or proclamation. (Emphasis supplied.)

Can RBI acquire reclaimed foreshore and submerged lands considered as inalienable and outside the commerce of man?

The reclaimed lands across R-10 were classified alienable and disposable lands of public domain of the State for the following reasons, viz:

First, there were three (3) presidential proclamations classifying the reclaimed lands across R-10 as alienable or disposable hence open to disposition or concession, to wit:

(1) MO 415 issued by President Aquino, of which Sec. 4 states that "[t]he land covered by the Smokey Mountain Dumpsite is hereby conveyed to the National Housing Authority as well as the area to be reclaimed across R-10."

The directive to transfer the lands once reclaimed to the NHA implicitly carries with it the declaration that said lands are alienable and disposable. Otherwise, the NHA cannot effectively use them in its housing and resettlement project.

(2) Proclamation No. 39 issued by then President Ramos by which the reclaimed lands were conveyed to NHA for subdivision and disposition to qualified beneficiaries and for development into a mixed land use (commercial/industrial) to provide employment opportunities to on-site families and additional areas for port-related activities. Said directive carries with it the pronouncement that said lands have been transformed to alienable and disposable lands. Otherwise, there is no legal way to convey it to the beneficiaries.

(3) Proclamation No. 465 likewise issued by President Ramos enlarged the reclaimed area to 79 hectares to be developed and disposed of in the implementation of the SMDRP. The authority put into the hands of the NHA to dispose of the reclaimed lands tacitly sustains the conversion to alienable and disposable lands.

Secondly, Special Patents Nos. 3591, 3592, and 3598 issued by the DENR anchored on Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 issued by President Ramos, without doubt, classified the reclaimed areas as alienable and disposable.

Admittedly, it cannot be said that MO 415, Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 are explicit declarations that the lands to be reclaimed are classified as alienable and disposable. We find however that such conclusion is derived and implicit from the authority given to the NHA to transfer the reclaimed lands to qualified beneficiaries.

The query is, when did the declaration take effect? It did so only after the special patents covering the reclaimed areas were issued. It is only on such date that the reclaimed lands became alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. It may be argued that the grant of authority to sell public lands, pursuant to PEA, does not convert alienable lands of public domain into private or patrimonial lands. We ruled in PEA that "alienable lands of public domain must be transferred to qualified private parties, or to government entities not tasked to dispose of public lands, before these lands can become private or patrimonial lands (emphasis supplied)." To lands reclaimed by PEA or through a contract with a private person or entity, such reclaimed lands still remain alienable lands of public domain which can be transferred only to Filipino citizens but not to a private corporation. This is because PEA under PD 1084 and EO 525 is tasked to hold and dispose of alienable lands of public domain and it is only when it is transferred to Filipino citizens that it becomes patrimonial property. On the other hand, the NHA is a government agency not tasked to dispose of public lands under its charter--The Revised Administrative Code of 1987. The NHA is an "end-user agency" authorized by law to administer and dispose of reclaimed lands. The moment titles over reclaimed lands based on the special patents are transferred to the NHA by the Register of Deeds, they are automatically converted to patrimonial properties of the State which can be sold to Filipino citizens and private corporations, 60% of which are owned by Filipinos. The reason is obvious: if the reclaimed land is not converted to patrimonial land once transferred to NHA, then it would be useless to transfer it to the NHA since it cannot legally transfer or alienate lands of public domain. More importantly, it cannot attain its avowed purposes and goals since it can only transfer patrimonial lands to qualified beneficiaries and prospective buyers to raise funds for the SMDRP.

From the foregoing considerations, we find that the 79-hectare reclaimed land has been declared alienable and disposable land of the public domain; and in the hands of NHA, it has been reclassified as patrimonial property.

Can RBI acquire reclaimed lands when there was no declaration that said lands are no longer needed for public use?

MO 415 and Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 are declarations that proclaimed the non-use of the reclaimed areas for public use or service as the Project cannot be successfully implemented without the withdrawal of said lands from public use or service. Certainly, the devotion of the reclaimed land to public use or service conflicts with the intended use of the Smokey Mountain areas for housing and employment of the Smokey Mountain scavengers and for financing the Project because the latter cannot be accomplished without abandoning the public use of the subject land. Without doubt, the presidential proclamations on SMDRP together with the issuance of the special patents had effectively removed the reclaimed lands from public use.

Is there a law authorizing the sale of reclaimed lands?

Petitioner next claims that RBI cannot acquire the reclaimed lands because there was no law authorizing their sale. He argues that unlike PEA, no legislative authority was granted to the NHA to sell reclaimed land.

This position is misplaced.

Petitioner relies on Sec. 60 of Commonwealth Act (CA) 141 to support his view that the NHA is not empowered by any law to sell reclaimed land, thus:

Section 60. Any tract of land comprised under this title may be leased or sold, as the case may be, to any person, corporation or association authorized to purchase or lease public lands for agricultural purposes. The area of the land so leased or sold shall be such as shall, in the judgment of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, be reasonably necessary for the purposes for which such sale or lease if requested and shall in no case exceed one hundred and forty-four hectares: Provided, however, That this limitation shall not apply to grants, donations, transfers, made to a province, municipality or branch or subdivision of the Government for the purposes deemed by said entities conducive to the public interest; but the land so granted donated or transferred to a province, municipality, or branch or subdivision of the Government shall not be alienated, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress; Provided, further, That any person, corporation, association or partnership disqualified from purchasing public land for agricultural purposes under the provisions of this Act, may lease land included under this title suitable for industrial or residential purposes, but the lease granted shall only be valid while such land is used for the purposes referred to. (Emphasis supplied.)
Reliance on said provision is incorrect as the same applies only to "a province, municipality or branch or subdivision of the Government." The NHA is not a government unit but a government corporation performing governmental and proprietary functions.

In addition, PD 757 is clear that the NHA is empowered by law to transfer properties acquired by it under the law to other parties....

Is RBI, being a private corporation, barred by the Constitution to acquire lands of public domain?

Petitioner's proposition has no legal mooring for the following reasons:

1. RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718 explicitly states that a contractor can be paid "a portion as percentage of the reclaimed land" subject to the constitutional requirement that only Filipino citizens or corporations with at least 60% Filipino equity can acquire the same. It cannot be denied that RBI is a private corporation, where Filipino citizens own at least 60% of the stocks. Thus, the transfer to RBI is valid and constitutional.

2. When Proclamations Nos. 39 and 465 were issued, inalienable lands covered by said proclamations were converted to alienable and disposable lands of public domain. When the titles to the reclaimed lands were transferred to the NHA, said alienable and disposable lands of public domain were automatically classified as lands of the private domain or patrimonial properties of the State because the NHA is an agency NOT tasked to dispose of alienable or disposable lands of public domain. The only way it can transfer the reclaimed land in conjunction with its projects and to attain its goals is when it is automatically converted to patrimonial properties of the State. Being patrimonial or private properties of the State, then it has the power to sell the same to any qualified person--under the Constitution, Filipino citizens as private corporations, 60% of which is owned by Filipino citizens like RBI.

3. The NHA is an end-user entity such that when alienable lands of public domain are transferred to said agency, they are automatically classified as patrimonial properties. The NHA is similarly situated as BCDA which was granted the authority to dispose of patrimonial lands of the government under RA 7227.

Sec. 22: Preparation and Submission of Budget
Sec. 22: The President shall submit to the Congress within thirty-days from the opening of every regular session, as the basis of the general appropriations bill, a budget of expenditures and sources of financing, including receipts from existing and proposed revenue measures.

Sec. 23: SONA
Sec. 23: The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session. He may also appear before it at any other time.

3 comments:

Aaron Lee said...

This is so helpful. Thank you so much!!

Anonymous said...

not satisfied :(

Anonymous said...

HELPFUL

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