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.

CASE DIGEST: CONSUNJI VS. COURT OF APPEALS

GR No. 137873 April 20, 2001

Consunji vs. Court of Appeals

FACTS:

At around 1:30 p.m., November 2, 1990, Jose Juego, a construction worker of D. M. Consunji, Inc., fell 14 floors from the Renaissance Tower, Pasig City to his death. On May 9, 1991, Jose Juego’s widow, Maria, filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig a complaint for damages against the deceased’s employer, D.M. Consunji, Inc. The employer raised, among other defenses, the widow’s prior availment of the benefits from the State Insurance Fund. After trial, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of the widow Maria Juego.

On appeal by D. M. Consunji, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the decision of the RTC in toto.

D. M. Consunji then sought the reversal of the CA decision.

ISSUES:

  1. Whether or not the petitioner is held liable under the grounds of negligence.
  2. Whether or not the injured employee or his heirs in case of death have a right of selection or choice of action between availing themselves of the worker’s right under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and suing in the regular courts under the Civil Code for higher damages (actual, moral and exemplary) from the employers by virtue of the negligence or fault of the employers or whether they may avail themselves cumulatively of both actions,

RULING:

  1. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (the thing or transaction speaks for itself) is peculiar to the law of negligence which recognizes that prima facie negligence may be established without direct proof and furnishes a substitute for specific proof of negligence. It has the following requisites: (1) the accident was of a kind which does not ordinarily occur unless someone is negligent; (2) the instrumentality or agency which caused the injury was under the exclusive control of the person charged with negligence; and (3)the injury suffered must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the person injured. All the requisites for the application of the rule of res ipsa loquitur are present in the case at bar, thus a reasonable presumption or inference of appellant’s negligence arises. Petitioner does not cite any other evidence to rebut the inference or presumption of negligence arising from the application of res ipsa loquitur, or to establish any defense relating to the incident.
  2. The claims for damages sustained by workers in the course of their employment could be filed only under the Workmen´s Compensation Law, to the exclusion of all further claims under other laws. In the course of availing the remedies provided under the Workmen’s Compensation law, the claimants are deemed to have waived their known right of the remedies provided by other laws. The Court of Appeals, however, held that the case at bar came under exception because private respondent was unaware of petitioner´s negligence when she filed her claim for death benefits from the State Insurance Fund. Had the claimant been aware, she would’ve opted to avail of a better remedy than that of which she already had.

CASE DIGEST: TAÑADA VS. TUVERA

G.R. No. L-63915 (146 SCRA 446) April 24, 1985

Tañada vs. Tuvera

FACTS:

Petitioners sought a writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and administrative orders, invoking the right to be informed on matters of public concern as recognized by the 1973 constitution.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the publication of presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and administrative orders is necessary before its enforcement.

RULING:

Yes, publication is necessary.

Article 2 of the Civil Code provides that “laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided ” The Court has ruled that publication in the Official Gazette is necessary in those cases where the legislation itself does not provide for its effectivity date-for then the date of publication is material for determining its date of effectivity, which is the fifteenth day following its publication-but not when the law itself provides for the date when it goes into effect. Article 2 does not dismiss with the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for the date of its effectivity.

The publication of all presidential issuances “of a public nature” or “of general applicability” is mandated by law. Obviously, presidential decrees that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for their violation or otherwise impose a burden or. the people, such as tax and revenue measures, fall within this category. Other presidential issuances which apply only to particular persons or class of persons such as administrative and executive orders need not be published on the assumption that they have been circularized to all concerned.

Publication is, therefore, mandatory.