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Original Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition

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Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with urgent application for a TRO filed by two students in the DLSU USG Judiciary
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  De La Salle University University Student Government Judiciary Branch MIKEE KARINA DE VEGA , and 4 November 2014 JASON DON DIZON ,  Petitioners - Versus - CARLO INOCENCIO , in his capacity as President  –   University Student Government  , and PATRICK KAHN , in his capacity as Chief Legislator  –    University Student Government  Legislative Assembly  Respondents x-------------------------------------------x PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND PROHIBITION With Urgent Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or Writ for Preliminary Injunction COME NOW, the aforementioned Petitioners, as concerned students, from which the mandate of the University Student Government comes, respectfully state: I. Nature of the Petition 1.1.   This is an srcinal special civil action … praying that the Honorable Court issue:  1.1.1.   A judgment invalidating the 2014 plebiscite on the proposed reforms on the University Student Government 2009 Constitution 1.1.2.   A temporary restraining order on the current voting process II. Jurisdiction and Basis of the Petition 2.1 This petition is filed as there is no other available remedy to the petitioners for the cause  pursued by this petition 2.2 This petition is filed in time before the plebiscite is given any conclusive decision by the people and is implemented by the University Student Government 2.3 The principle of administrative exhaustion does not apply since this petition is purely legal and constitutional. The principle on hierarchy of courts also do not apply as the University Student Government does not carry a similar structure available for the application of the principle, nor is the nature of the case applicable since it is a question of constitutionality. 2.4 The petition prays for the issuance of a writ of prohibition and/or the execution of a Temporary Restraining Order on the plebiscite on the following grounds on the basis of the following:  III. Parties 3.1 Petitioner MIKEE KARINA DE VEGA, is of legal age, a Filipino, currently enrolled as a student in De La Salle University  –   Manila, carrying the ID number 11206012, falling under the  jurisdiction of the University Student Government. She may be issued notices and responses by this court at Rm. 303, Br. Gabriel Connon Hall, De La Salle University  –   Manila. 3.2 Petitioner JASON DON DIZON, is of legal age, a Filipino, currently enrolled as a student in De La Salle University  –   Manila, carrying the ID number 11316780, falling under the jurisdiction of the University Student Government. He may be issued notices and responses by this court at Rm. 303, Br. Gabriel Connon Hall, De La Salle University  –   Manila. 3.3 Respondent CARLO INOCENCIO, is of legal age, a Filipino, currently enrolled as a student in De La Salle University  –   Manila, currently the President of the University Student Government. He authorized the voting on the 2014 plebiscite on the proposed constitutional reforms. 3.4 Respondent PATRICK KAHN, is of legal age, a Filipino, currently enrolled as a student in De La Salle University  –   Manila, currently the Chief Legislator of the University Student Government. He authorized and oversaw the preparations of the different constitutional reforms as head of the Legislative Assembly. IV. Statement of Facts 4.1 That the proposed amendments were finalized by the Legislative Assembly before the election of the Freshmen Legislative Assembly Representatives. Moreover, they were informed of the conclusion of the discussion upon inquiry into the proposed amendments to the constitution. 4.2 That the “Town Hall” session was the University Student Government’s official arm in disseminating information to students on the ground, and that the first Town Hall was held in the second term of AY 2014-2015, the same term as the scheduled vote 4.2.1 The Town Hall session for STC was scheduled on the first day of the plebiscite 4.3 That the Convention of Leaders (COLE) was the University Student Government’s arm in consulting and disseminating information to Student Leaders in the University, and that COLE failed to include concerns of other leaders by ending the open forum at the point in which no more questions was raised by the pre-determined leaders. 4.4 That the attendance records in the different Town Hall meetings, as evidence of the number of students informed of the amendments, does not equal the amount of registered voters, nor does it reach the amount of students required for a simple majority in the plebiscite. Moreover, the listed attendees primarily come from University Student Government branches, rather than students without affiliations. 4.5 That the only actual basis for reforming the constitution published by the University Student Government read as follows: “ The proposed amendments in the USG Constitution were crafted to ground the USG back to its founding identity and purpose. It aims to maximize its many strengths and capabilities, and to restore the faith of the Lasallian community in a system that has  potential to effect change not only inside the University but also in society.  May it be the student body’s collective hope that the USG strives to be the leading inclusive -driven student in the country that advances student-centered research-informed services,  policies and programs for the formation of Lasallian leaders engaged in the pursuit of  social relevance and community development.  With this, the USG will be more effective in leading and serving the student body through  proper student representation that constantly works to promote the many effects and initiatives of its constituents and to bridge the needs and concerns of the student body to the different sectors of the Lasallian community” (as lifted from http://www.dlsu-usg.com/plebiscite2014/  )  4.6 WHEREFORE this petition is created V. Grounds for Granting the Petition The call for a plebiscite vote on the ratification of the 2014 University Student Government Constitution, otherwise known and hereafter indicated as “Plebiscite 2014,” is null an d void for being unconstitutional as they violate the following provision of the 2009 University Student Government (USG) Constitution: Article III. Section 1    –   The USG shall have the power of which emanates from the student body. It shall be the sole, unified, autonomous and democratic representative body of the students. Article IV. Section 1    –   Every student has the right to be properly informed of the programs, rules and regulations and policies of the academic community. Article IV. Section 9  –    Every student has the right to proper representation and participation in all policy-making bodies inside the University. Article XXII. Section 3.1  –    The student leaders can suggest projects,  programs and actions to the USG regarding national, sectoral and University-wide and academic-related issues. Article XXII. Section 3.3  –    The student leaders can assess the  performance of the USG and recommend necessary steps to further attain its objectives. Article XXVI Section 1  –    Any amendment or revision of this Constitution may be proposed by the students through an initiative upon a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the LA. VI. Discussion Before the discussion of the issues of constitutionality, it is important to establish the petitioners’ legal personality to impugn the constitutional validity of  Plebiscite 2014 , and the propriety of this petition: A.   Petitioners have the requisite standing to institute the present action A case is instituted by a real party in interest, which, in Philippine law, is defined as “ the  party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.”  In a public suit seeking the nullification of an illegal action, the  plaintiff must “ make out a sufficient interest in the vindication of the public order and the  securing of relief as a “citizen” or “taxpayer.”   Subsequently, another test called the “ direct injury test”  is also employed by the courts wherein petitioners have the burden to prove that they are direct recipients of policies that will be enacted by the government  –   in this case, said plebiscite. The Court held that “the  person who impugns the validity of a statute must have a personal and substantial interest  in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain a direct injury as a result of that action. Petitioners DE VEGA and DIZON claim that they do have an interest in the current matter at hand. A constitutional amendment is one that changes the entire course of student life of a Lasallian because the University Student Government holds the sole authority in representing the student body in most, if not all, arenas of multi-sectoral discussion within the university. Currently, the continuation of a constitutionally invalid plebiscite is contrary to the rights of both petitioners, as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of Students, as enumerated in Article IV of the USG Constitution.  Moreover, both petitioners are direct stakeholders as the USG is a direct recipient of an appropriation of funding coming from the tuition paid by students. Given this logic, petitioners are virtually considered to be taxpayers of the USG.  Petitioner DIZON is a sophomore student, who will be spending at least another year in the university, whereas petitioner DE VEGA holds the intention of extending her stay in the university for at least two (2) years by shifting to a double-degree program. Given these, both petitioners will be direct recipients of the possible results of the plebiscite should its invalidity continue to be unquestioned.  Lastly, given that the matter at hand is a question of constitutionality, the matter is considered to be of transcendental importance. Assuming but not conceding the inexistence of direct personal interest, petitioners may serve as representations of the public and the raising of this matter of transcendental importance is a matter that must be resolved not only for the current generation of Lasallians but also for the coming generations who will be affected by the constitutional amendments. B.   Petitioner may seek recourse directly with this honorable court Given the structure of De La Salle University, the Judiciary is empowered to resolve a matter of this nature, as mandated by Article XVIII, Section 3 of the USG Constitution: To sit en banc, hear, try and resolve, by a two-thirds vote of the members present, within three weeks any complaint involving the constitutionality, legality or jurisdiction of the acts, policies and resolutions of USG officers. As such, the Judiciary, through the Chief Magistrate is the official authority to resolve this matter of constitutionality. Plebiscite 2014 is unconstitutional and contrary to law due to the following: A.   That resolutions regarding the proposed constitutional amendments were crafted, created and approved prior to the election of the Freshmen Legislative Assembly Representatives. The USG Constitution mandates that the ratification of any amendment be passed through a plebiscite. This has two important implications. One, this means that all members of the student body must be represented in the entire process of the amendment. Two, subsequently, this means that the Legislative Assembly representatives must be able to fully represent the entire student body through their respective constituents. This is exemplified by Article III, Section 1 of the USG Constitution: The USG shall have the power of which emanates from the  student body. It shall be the sole, unified, autonomous and democratic representative body of the students. However, it is important to note that most of the resolution of the Legislative Assembly representatives regarding important and crucial amendments to the USG Constitution have  been crafted, created and approved prior to the election of the Freshmen Legislative Assembly Representatives. For instance, the Resolution Calling for the Approval of the Revised College Government Names of the University Student Government was approved
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