Liban v. Gordon (G.R. No.175352; January 18, 2011)


FACTS: Respondent filed a motion for partial reconsideration on a Supreme Court decision which ruled that being chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) did not disqualify him from being a Senator, and that the charter creating PNRC is unconstitutional as the PNRC is a private corporation and the Congress is precluded by the Constitution to create such.The Court then ordered the PNRC to incorporate itself with the SEC as a private corporation. Respondent takes exception to the second part of the ruling, which addressed the constitutionality of the statute creating the PNRC as a private corporation. Respondent avers that the issue of constitutionality was only touched upon in the issue of locus standi. It is a rule that the constitutionality will not be touched upon if it is not the lis mota of the case.

ISSUE: Was it proper for the Court to have ruled on the constitutionality of the PNRC statute?

HELD: In the case at bar, the constitutionality of the PNRC statute was raised in the issue of standing. As such, the Court should not have declared certain provisions of such as unconstitutional. On the substantive issue, the PNRC is sui generis. It is unlike the private corporations that the Constitution wants to prevent Congress from creating. First, the PNRC is not organized for profit. It is an organization dedicated to assist victims of war and administer relief to those who have been devastated by calamities, among others. It is entirely devoted to public service. It is not covered by the prohibition since the Constitution aims to eliminate abuse by the Congress, which tend to favor personal gain. Secondly, the PNRC was created in order to participate in the mitigation of the effects of war, as embodied in the Geneva Convention. The creation of the PNRC is compliance with international treaty obligations. Lastly, the PNRC is a National Society, an auxiliary of the government. It is not like government instrumentalities and GOCC.

The PNRC is regulated directly by international humanitarian law, as opposed to local law regulating the other mentioned entities. As such, it was improper for the Court to have declared certain portions of the PNRC statute as unconstitutional. However, it is the stand of Justice Carpio that there is no mandate for the Government to create a National Society to this effect. He also raises the fact that the PNRC is not sui generis in being a private corporation organized for public needs. Justice Abad is of the opinion that the PNRC is neither private or governmental, hence it was within the power of Congress to create.

It has been consistently held in Jurisprudence that the Court should exercise judicial restraint when it comes to issues of constitutionality where it is not the lis mota of the case.