Monthly Archives: October 2016

CASE DIGEST: TECSON VS. COMELEC

G.R. No. 161434             March 3, 2004

MARIA JEANETTE C. TECSON and FELIX B. DESIDERIO, JR. vs.COMELEC, FPJ and VICTORINO X. FORNIER, 

G.R. No. 161634             March 3, 2004

ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ vs.FPJ

GR. No. 161824             March 3, 2004

VICTORINO X. FORNIER, vs. HON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and FPJ

Facts:

Petitioners sought for respondent Poe’s disqualification in the presidential elections for having allegedly misrepresented material facts in his (Poe’s) certificate of candidacy by claiming that he is a natural Filipino citizen despite his parents both being foreigners. Comelec dismissed the petition, holding that Poe was a Filipino Citizen. Petitioners assail the jurisdiction of the Comelec, contending that only the Supreme Court may resolve the basic issue on the case under Article VII, Section 4, paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution.

Issue:

Whether or not it is the Supreme Court which had jurisdiction.

Whether or not Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in holding that Poe was a Filipino citizen.

Ruling:

1.)   The Supreme Court had no jurisdiction on questions regarding “qualification of a candidate” for the presidency or vice-presidency before the elections are held.

“Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal”  in connection with Section 4, paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution, refers to “contests” relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the “President” or “Vice-President”, of the Philippines which the Supreme Court may take cognizance, and not of “candidates” for President or Vice-President before the elections.

2.)   Comelec committed no grave abuse of discretion in holding Poe as a Filipino Citizen.

The 1935 Constitution on Citizenship, the prevailing fundamental law on respondent’s birth, provided that among the citizens of the Philippines are “those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.”

Tracing respondent’s paternal lineage, his grandfather Lorenzo, as evidenced by the latter’s death certificate was identified as a Filipino Citizen. His citizenship was also drawn from the presumption that having died in 1954 at the age of 84, Lorenzo would have been born in 1870. In the absence of any other evidence, Lorenzo’s place of residence upon his death in 1954 was presumed to be the place of residence prior his death, such that Lorenzo Pou would have benefited from the “en masse Filipinization” that the Philippine Bill had effected in 1902. Being so, Lorenzo’s citizenship would have extended to his son, Allan—respondent’s father.

Respondent, having been acknowledged as Allan’s son to Bessie, though an American citizen,  was a Filipino citizen by virtue of paternal filiation as evidenced by the respondent’s birth certificate. The 1935 Constitution on citizenship did not make a distinction on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the child, thus, the allegation of bigamous marriage and the allegation that respondent was born only before the assailed marriage had no bearing on respondent’s citizenship in view of the established paternal filiation evidenced by the public documents presented.

But while the totality of the evidence may not establish conclusively that respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, the evidence on hand still would preponderate in his favor enough to hold that he cannot be held guilty of having made a material misrepresentation in his certificate of candidacy in violation of Section 78, in relation to Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code.

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CASE DIGEST: LACSON VS. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY

 301 SCRA 298; G.R. NO. 12809620 JAN 1999

LACSON VS. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY


Facts: 

Eleven persons believed to be members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang, an organized crime syndicate involved in bank robberies, were slain by elements of the Anti-Bank Robbery andIntelligence Task Group (ABRITG). Among those included in the ABRITG were petitioners and petitioner-intervenors.

Acting on a media expose of SPO2 Eduardo delos Reyes, a member of the Criminal Investigation Command, that what actually transpired was a summary execution and not a shoot-out between the Kuratong Baleleng gang members and the ABRITG, Ombudsman Aniano Desiertoformed a panel of investigators to investigate the said incident. Said panel found the incident as a legitimate police operation. However, a review board modified the panel’s finding and recommended the indictment for multiple murder against twenty-six respondents including herein petitioner, charged as principal, and herein petitioner-intervenors, charged as accessories. After a reinvestigation, the Ombudsman filed amended informations before the Sandiganbayan, where petitioner was charged only as an accessory.

The accused filed separate motions questioning the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, asserting that under the amended informations, the cases fall within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court pursuant to Section 2 of R.A. 7975. They contend that the said law limited the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to cases where one or ore of the “principal accused” are government officals with Salary Grade 27 or higher, or PNP officials with rank of Chief Superintendent or higher. Thus, they did not qualify under said requisites. However, pending resolution of their motions, R.A. 8249 was approved amending the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan by deleting the word “principal” from the phrase “principal accused” in Section 2 of R.A. 7975.

Petitioner questions the constitutionality of Section 4 of R.A. 8249, including Section 7 which provides that the said law shall apply to all cases pending in any court over which trial has not begun as of the approval hereof.

Issues: 

(1) Whether or not Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate the petitioners’ right to due process and the equal protection clause of the Constitution as the provisions seemed to have been introduced for the Sandiganbayan to continue to acquire jurisdiction over the Kuratong Baleleng case.

(2) Whether or not said statute may be considered as an ex-post facto statute.

(3) Whether or not the multiple murder of the alleged members of the Kuratong Baleleng was committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers which is essential to the determination whether the case falls within the Sandiganbayan’s or Regional Trial Court’s jurisdiction.

RULING:

1.) RIGHTS NOT VIOLATED.

Petitioner and intervenors’ contention that Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate their right to equal protection of the law is too shallow to deserve merit. No concrete evidence and convincing argument were presented to warrant such a declaration. Every classification made by the law is presumed reasonable and the party who challenges the law must present proof of arbitrariness. The classification is reasonable and not arbitrary when the following concur: (1) it must rest on substantial distinction; (2) it must be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) must not be limited to existing conditions only, and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class; all of which are present in this case.

Paragraph a of Section 4 provides that it shall apply “to all cases involving” certain public officials and under the transitory provision in Section 7, to “all cases pending in any court.” Contrary to petitioner and intervenors’ argument, the law is not particularly directed only to the Kuratong Baleleng cases. The transitory provision does not only cover cases which are in the Sandiganbayan but also in “any court.”

2.) NOT EX POST FACTO LAW.

There is nothing ex post facto in R.A. 8249. Ex post facto law, generally, provides retroactive effect of penal laws. R.A. 8249 is not apenal law. It is a substantive law on jurisdiction which is not penal in character. Penal laws are those acts of the Legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations or those that define crimes and provide for their punishment. R.A. 7975, as regards the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction, its mode of appeal and other procedural matters, has been declared by the Court as not a penal law, but clearly a procedural statute, one which prescribes rules of procedure by which courts applying laws of all kinds can properly administer justice. Not being a penal law, the retroactive application of R.A. 8249 cannot be challenged as unconstitutional.

3.) RTC HAS JURISDICTION.

In People vs. Montejo, it was held that an offense is said to have been committed in relation to the office if it is intimately connected with the office of the offender and perpetrated while he was in the performance of his official functions. Such intimate relation must be alleged in the information which is essential in determining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. However, upon examination of the amended information, there was no specific allegation of facts that the shooting of the victim by the said principal accused was intimately related to the discharge of their official duties as police officers. Likewise, the amended information does not indicate that the said accused arrested and investigated the victim and then killed the latter while in their custody. The stringent requirement that the charge set forth with such particularity as will reasonably indicate the exact offense which the accused is alleged to have committed in relation to his office was not established.

Consequently, for failure to show in the amended informations that the charge of murder was intimately connected with the discharge of official functions of the accused PNP officers, the offense charged in the subject criminal cases is plain murder and, therefore, within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and not the Sandiganbayan.


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CASE DIGEST: MINORS OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. DENR

G.R. No 101083

Minors of the Philippines vs. DENR

July 30, 1993

FACTS:

Petitioner minors, represented by their parents, contended that the granting of the TLAs (Timber License Agreement) by respondent DENR was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or granted. RTC dismissed the class suit on the ff grounds: 1)lack of cause of action; 2)the issue involved a  political question and 3)the relief sought would violate the non-impairment of contracts clause.

ISSUES:

Whether or not minors had the legal personality to initiate the suit.
Whether or not the case was justiciable.
Whether or not the relief sought would violate the non-impairment of contracts clause

RULING:

The Court ruled in favor of petitioners.

The petitioners had the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing and, maintenance of the suit. The Court recognized the beneficiaries’ right of action in the field of environmental protection, citing provisions in the Constitution of the rights of the people specifically that of Sec 16, Art 2, which is the specific legal right invoked by the petitioners. The Court also stressed the correlative duty of the DENR as the branch of government tasked with the conservation, development and utilization of the country’s natural resources (E.O. No. 192 and Administrative Code of 1987). Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as the DENR’s duty to protect and advance the said right.

As to the issue on political question, the case should be afforded judicial review, citing second paragraph of sec1, Article VIII of the Constitution which states that Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. The Court may take cognizance of cases involving issues on ‘grave abuse of discretion’.

The Court also assailed the ruling of the lower court, invoking the non-impairment clause, reasoning, for one, that the respondents did not even raise the said issue. Granting for argument’s sake that respondents did, the TLA is not a contract but is only a license or a privilege which may be subject to withdrawal by proper authority if deemed necessary for the general welfare and betterment of the country.

(side issue: The Court granted the petition, allowing petitioners to amend complaint against TLA holders.)

CASE DIGEST: DONALD MEAD VS. CFI

G.R. No. L-41958

Donald Mead  vs. Hon. Manuel Argel, CFI

July 20, 1982

FACTS:

Petitioner Donald Mead assailed the legal personality of the Provincial Fiscal to file an information against him for his alleged violation of RA No. 3931 or An Act Creating a National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission. Petitioner averred that the National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission created under the said law has the authority to hear cases involving violations under the same.

ISSUES:

Whether or not the filing of the information by the provincial fiscal was proper.

RULING:

The filing by the Provincial Fiscal of the case was premature sans the findings of the Commission on the matter.

Petitioner was being sued for the offense of allegedly causing pollution of a waterway (highway canal)(Sec 9). The Court held that the exclusive authority to determine whether or not ‘pollution’ did exist is vested in the Commission, who is in better position to determine the same for such requires specialized knowledge of technical and scientific matters which are not ordinarily within the competence of Fiscals or of those sitting in a court of justice (Sec 8).

Unless the case involves that of nuisance under the Civil Code or until there is a ruling by the Commission on the alleged act of pollution, no court action shall be initiated (Sec8).

Without a prior determination or finding by the Commission that the provisions of the subject law had been violated, the provincial Fiscal lacked the authority to file the case against petitioner.

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CASE DIGEST: NPC VS. ONG CO

G.R. No. 166973

National Power Corporation vs. Benjamin Ong Co

February 10, 2009

Facts:

Petitioner expropriated respondent’s property for its Lahar Project, a project for public use.

Petitioner established its claim on RA 6395, allowing it to exercise the right to eminent domain.

Complaint was filed at the RTC on June 27, 2001. On 25 March 2002, petitioner obtained a writ of possession and on 15 April 2002 it took possession of the property.

RTC ordered the compensation of the full market value of the land valued at P1,179,000.00, with interest at 6% per annum beginning 15 April 2002, the date of actual taking, until full payment. RA 8974 sets forth the payment of land’s full market value as distinguished to RA 6395 which entitles the land owner to only 10% of market value.

Petitioner argues that compensation should only be an easement fee and not the total value and that computation of compensation should be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint (Rule 67).

Issues:

 Whether or not compensation will be governed by provisions on RA 6395 or RA 8974. Who will determine?

 Whether or not value of the property should be reckoned as of the filing of the complaint or actual taking of the land.

 Held:

 Court held that with regard to compensation, provisions on RA 8974 should govern. Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 8974 explicitly include power generation, transmission and distribution projects among the national government projects covered by the law. R.A. No. 8974 should govern the expropriation of respondent’s property since the Lahar Project is a national government project.

 The Court also held that the function for determining just compensation remains judicial in character. It held that the courts have the power to determine cases relative to the violations on the guarantees provided by the Bill of Rights.

 As to the amount to be given to respondent as compensation, the court agreed with petitioner that compensation should be computed as of the filing of complaint (2001) win compliance with Rule 67.


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CASE DIGEST: PEOPLE VS. TIBAGONG

Stephen Tibagong vs. People of the Philippines

G.R. No 182178

August 15, 2011

Facts:

Petitioner was found guilty by the lower courts for the violation of Section 11 or RA 9165.

Facts state that arresting officers, PO3 Faelogo and PO3 Paquera, received information from a caller, informing them of an illegal drug trade. The two proceeded to the reported place where they found petitioner, flicking a plastic allegedly containing shabu. The police officers arrested petitioner and seized the said plastic as well as the lighter found in the petitioner’s possession.

Petitioner denied ownership. He further claimed that he wasn’t doing anything illegal and so the arrest done was a violation of his rights and that the article seized should be inadmissible since it is the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’.

Issue:

Whether or not petitioner was right in averring that the evidence was inadmissible, it being the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’.

HELD:

The court held that the petitioner’s failure to raise the issue on the validity of his arrest before arraignment and his active participation in the proceedings in the lower court estopped him from assailing the same on appeal. He was deemed to have waived his right.

The admissibility of the articles as evidence relied on whether the search made was lawful.

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules on Criminal Procedures provides for the only occasions permitting a warrantless arrest: (a)     When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b)     When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c)     When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

The following occasions also permit a warrantless search: 1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;

  1. Search of evidence in “plain view;”
  2. Search of a moving vehicle;
  3. Consented warrantless search;
  4. Customs search;
  5. Stop and Frisk; and
  6. Exigent and emergency circumstances.

The Court held that sufficient evidence supported  the warrantless arrest of petitioner effected under Section 5 (a), or the arrest of a suspect in flagrante delicto.

The police officers witnessed petitioner flicking a transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance in plain view. Arousing their suspicion that the sachet contains shabu, the arresting officers immediately approached petitioner, introduced themselves as police officers and effected the arrest.  After laboratory examination, the white crystalline substance placed inside the plastic sachet was found positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a regulated drug.

The arrest having been lawful, the item seized was likewise lawful. Not to mention, the item’s veracity was well established.

The Court affirmed the lower courts decision and found accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

CASE DIGEST: BELLIS VS. BELLIS

G.R. No. L-23678 (June 6, 1967)

Testate of Amos Bellis vs. Edward A. Bellis, et al

FACTS:

Amos G. Bellis was a citizen of the State of Texas and of the United States. He had five legitimate children with his first wife (whom he divorced), three legitimate children with his second wife (who survived him) and, finally, three illegitimate children.

6 years prior Amos Bellis’ death, he executed two(2) wills, apportioning the remainder of his estate and properties to his seven surviving children.  The appellants filed their oppositions to the project of partition claiming that they have been deprived of their legitimes to which they were entitled according to the Philippine law. Appellants argued that the deceased wanted his Philippine estate to be governed by the Philippine law, thus the creation of two separate wills.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Philippine law be applied in the case in the determination of the illegitimate children’s successional rights

RULING:

Court ruled that provision in a foreigner’s will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed in accordance with Philippine law and not with his national law, is illegal and void, for his national law cannot be ignored in view of those matters that Article 10 — now Article 16 — of the Civil Code states said national law should govern.

Where the testator was a citizen of Texas and domiciled in Texas, the intrinsic validity of his will should be governed by his national law. Since Texas law does not require legitimes, then his will, which deprived his illegitimate children of the legitimes, is valid.

The Supreme Court held that the illegitimate children are not entitled to the legitimes under the texas law, which is the national law of the deceased.

N.B. To see why the Renvoi doctrine was not applied in this case, click HERE for the explanation.