02 Phil. Bar Association v. COMELEC

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  SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED455 Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINESSUPREME COURT   MANILA January 7, 1986Gentlemen Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court  En Banc dated December 19, 1985 G.R. No. 72915 (Philippine Bar Association, et al. vs. TheCommission on Elections, et al); G.R. No. 72922 (Martiniano P.Vivo, et al. vs. Commission on Elections, et al.); G.R. No. 72923(MP Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., et al. vs. The Treasurer of thePhilippines, et al.); G.R. No. 72924 (The Movement of Attorneys forBrotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism, Inc. [MABINI], et al. vs.The Commission on Elections, et al.); G.R. No. 72927 (The LiberalParty, et al. vs. The National Treasurer of the Philippines); G.R. No.72928 (Concerned Women of the Philippines, et al. vs. Hon.Maximiano Savellano, et al.); G.R. No. 72935 (Alberto G. Romulo,et al. vs. Commission on Elections, et al.); G.R. No. 72954 (VictorC. Avecilla, et al. vs. Commission on Elections); G.R. No. 72957(National Bar Association of the Philippines, et al. vs. Commissionon Elections, et al); G.R. No. 72968 (Laban ng Bayan [LABAN], etal. vs. The Commission on Elections, et al.) and G.R. No. 72986(Juan T. David vs. The Commission on Elections, et al.).—Afterconsidering all the pleadings and deliberating on the issues raised inthe petitions as well as on the oral arguments of the parties and the amici curiae  in the hearings held in these cases, Chief JusticeRamon C. Aquino and six (6) Justices, namely, Justices ClaudioTeehankee, Hermogenes Concepcion, Jr., Vicente Abad Santos,Efren I. Plana, Venicio T. Escolin and Lorenzo Relova, voted toDISMISS the petitions in these cases and to DENY the prayer forthe issuance of an injunction restraining respondents from holdingthe election on February 7, 1986. In the opinion of Chief JusticeAquino, B.P. 883 is constitutional. Justices Hugo Gutierrez, Jr., B.S. de la Fuente, Serafin R.Cuevas, Nestor B. Alampay and Lino M. Patajo voted to 456 456SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections DECLARE solution P. 883 unconstitutional and to grant theinjunction prayed essi or. Justice the insertion is of the opinion that inasmuch as there areless than ten votes in favor of declaring B.P. Batas Bilangunconstitutional, the petitions in these cases are hereby dismissedand the writs therein prayed for are denied. This is in accordance with the opinion in Gonzales vs.COMELEC, 21 SCRA 802 and Very truly yours, vs. Executive  Secretary, 50 SCRA 141. Justices Teehankee, Plana, Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., de laRevision Alampay and Patajo separate opinions. This resolution is without prejudice to the filing of separateopinions by the other Members of this Court. At the session of January 7, 1986, the Court noted that its act of dismissing the petitions had not been formally stated in its basicResolution of December 19, 1985. The Court therefore authorizesthe insertion of the f ollowing dispositive portion: 'Accordingly, inasmuch as there are less than the required ten (10) votes todeclare Batas Pambansa Bilang 883 unconstitutional, the petitions in thesecases are hereby DISMISSED and the writs therein prayed for areDENIED.' Chief Justice Aquino is of the opinion that the revision of theDecember 19, 1985 resolution is totally unnecessary. It is clear. It isunderstood that the petitions are dismissed. The public and theComelec understood that the petitions were dismissed. *  Melecio-Herrera, J.,  took no part in all these cases.Very truly yours,(Sgd.) GLORIA C. PARAS Clerk of Court _______________ *  Revision consists in the addition of paragraph 7 and statement that Melencio-Herrera, J., took no part. 457 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED457 Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections TEEHANKEE,  J., concurring: I vote for the dismissal of the petition for prohibition againstenforcement of resolve issue issue and prevent on the ground that noclear case has been made of an absolute void of power and authoritythat would warrant its nullification and that prohibition is not aremedy for acts done that can no longer be undone.The stated   issue is quite simple: mendments amendments ntsabolishing calling for special national elections on February thatsuch restoration for the offices of President and Vice-President of thePhilippines (  for the first time  since the pre-martial ed 1969presidential elections) unconstitutional, and should this Courttherefore stop and prohibit the holding of the elections?Upon the filing on December 3rd of the lead and other petitionsat bar, four members of the Court (Justices Abad Santos, Relova,Gutierrez, Jr., and myself) voted per the Court's Resolution of December 5th to issue a temporary restraining order againstenforcement of the Act and to hear the petitions on last December12th so as to maintain the status quo  and thereafter speedily resolvethe issue and prevent the people's expectations from reaching a point of no return,  Our vote did not gain the required concurrence of amajority of eight. Instead the Court granted the parties substantialperiods for filing of respondents' comment and petitioners' repliesand to hear the case only after two weeks on December 17th(continued to December 18th) with a clear consensus to take a voteand resolve the petitions immediately af ter the hearing.It is of public knowledge and record, as pointed out by formerVice-President, Senator and Executive Committee MemberEmmanuel N. Pelaez, amicus curiae,  who helped in drafting the  1984 constitutional amendments abolishing the ExecutiveCommittee and restoring the Office of VicePresident as thePresident's successor, that such restoration was not made effectiveimmediately, but only at the end of the incumbent President's termon June 30, 1987 in view of his oftexpressed allergy to vice-presidents. Hence, Sen. Pelaez submits that the President's letter of conditional resignation (for the word is nowhere used therein) didnot create the actual vacancy required in Section 9, Article VII of theCon- 458 458SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections stitution which could be the basis of the holding of a special electionfor President and Vice-President earlier than the regular election forsuch positions in 1987. The letter's intent was obvious: tocircumvent the constitutional provision which would, in effect,require the President to actually vacate his office in favor of theSpeaker who would then be the Acting President until a new oneshall have been elected and shall have qualified. x x x In prescribingthe procedure to fill the office of President in case a vacancy thereinoccurred during the term of President Marcos,  it [the cited section]excluded any discretion on the part of the Batasang Pambansa tolegislate on the same subject. In fact, given the very detailed andprecise steps to be taken by the Batasang Pambansa under [the firstfour paragraphs] for the purpose of calling a special election to fillthe vacancy, there was no room for legislative action to supplementthe same. BP Blg. 883 which is a reproduction of Cabinet Bill No. 7,is in conflict with the Constitution in that it allows the President tocontinue holding office after the calling of the special election. Toput it another way: the President's offer to cut his term short is valid.The trouble is he does not go far enough: he should actually vacatethe office forthwith. 1 In the interval of over two weeks between December 3rd andnow, supervening facts and events have overtaken the Court and thepetitions at bar so much so that many of the petitions werewithdrawn expressly or abandoned impliedly. The political partieshave since chosen and proclaimed their candidates for president andvice-president and the frenzied campaign is in full swing. PresidentFerdinand E. Marcos is quoted as saying: we have already spent alot of energy and money on this thing. 2  The foremost exponent of the Act's unconstitutionality, M.P. Arturo Tolentino who stronglyheld that Mr. Marcos is not intended by the Constitution to succeedhimself before 1987 for an additional six years and that thePresident must first resign from office in order for the constitutionalmandate to go into effect and for the Batasan _______________ 1  Emphasis copied. 2  Phil. Daily Express issue of Dec. 18, 1985. 459 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED459 Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections speaker to assume the post of Acting President 3  had laid aside his personal objections against the bill's validity and has accepted theruling KBL's nomination as vice-presidential candidate with  President Ferdinand E. Marcos as candidate for re-election in thescheduled February 7, 1986 national elections. The heretoforedivided opposition has unified and likewise presented their standardbearers Corazon Cory Aquino and former Senator Salvador Doy Laurel, for president and vice-president, respectively. PresidentMarcos himself in his letter to the Batasang Pambansa 4   irrevocablyvacat(ing) the position of President effective only when the electionis held and after the winner is proclaimed and qualified as Presidentby taking his oath office ten (10) days after his proclamation urgently stresses that there is no moment to lose , that I am,therefore, left no choice but to seek a new mandate in an electionthat will assess, as demanded by the opposition, the policies andprograms I am undertaking. Such an election necessarily shortensmy tenure. But the necessity arises from no less than the time-honored principle of public accountability, inherent in a democracyand explicit in our Constitution and that the final settlement of these issues can be achieved only through a presidential election. The unified opposition has likewise realized the imperativeurgency of seeking the mandate and verdict of the people. Ratherthan insist on strict compliance with the cited constitutionalprovision that the incumbent President actually resign, vacate hisoffice and turn it over to the Speaker of the Batasang Pambansa asActing President, their standard bearers as the parties mostprejudiced have not filed any suit or petition in intervention for thepurpose nor repudiated the scheduled election. Instead, the unifiedopposition, including almost all other political parties of standing,(with the exception of a few who have lost faith in the electoralprocess due to past sorry experiences) have rallied behind thepresidential candidacy of Cory Aquino. In short, they have taken thePresident at his own terms and conditions and will confront him atthe scheduled February 7, 1986 elections and have not insisted ______________ 3  Times Journal issue of August 4, 1985. 4  Idem, Annex A . 460 460SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections that he vacate the office of president and its vast powers. As SenatorPelaez reported to the Court: (T)he Opposition's answer is firm they are willing to give the President this illegal handicap, so long asthe election is clean, fair and honest. The real  issue at bar has thus veered from the purely justiciableissue of the questioned constitutionality of the Act due to the lack of an actual vacancy in the office of President and transformed itself into a political question  that can only be truly decided by the peoplein their sovereign capacity in a fair, clean and honest election.(Javellana vs. Exec. Secretary, 50 SCRA 30). Stated differently, maythis Court at this advanced stage stop the holding of the elections?Labor Minister Blas Ople, an articulate KBL spokesman, stressedthat the people's minds have been prepared and conditioned toexpect the holding of the February 7th, 1986 presidential electionsand that the Court from its ivory tower should not stand in theway. (This nation-wide perception that the great majority of thepeople want to express their will in the special election as the bestchance for democracy's survival is reflected in all sectors of thepress, be they establishment, neutral or opposition.) As reported bythe press: Ople said the high court, which did not issue a restrainingorder to stop preparations for the special elections, will have to take
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