Case Digest: Datu Kida v. Senate

G.R. No. 196271 : February 28, 2012

DATU MICHAEL ABAS KIDA, IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY, AND IN REPRESENTATION OF MAGUINDANAO FEDERATION OF AUTONOMOUS IRRIGATORS ASSOCIATION, INC., HADJI MUHMINA J. USMAN, JOHN ANTHONY L. LIM, JAMILON T. ODIN, ASRIN TIMBOL JAIYARI, MUJIB M. KALANG, ALIH AL-SAIDI J. SAPI-E, KESSAR DAMSIE ABDIL, AND BASSAM ALUH SAUPI,Petitioners, v. SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT JUAN PONCE ENRILE, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THRU SPEAKER FELICIANO BELMONTE, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THRU ITS CHAIRMAN, SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., PAQUITO OCHOA, JR., OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, FLORENCIO ABAD, JR., SECRETARY OF BUDGET, AND ROBERTO TAN, TREASURER OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

G.R. NO. 196305

BASARI D. MAPUPUNO, Petitioner, v. SIXTO BRILLANTES, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, FLORENCIO ABAD, JR. IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, PAQUITO OCHOA, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SENATE PRESIDENT, AND FELICIANO BELMONTE, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,Respondents.

G.R. NO. 197221

REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, Petitioner, v. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, AND THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondents.

G.R. NO. 197280

ALMARIM CENTI TILLAH, DATU CASAN CONDING CANA, AND PARTIDO DEMOKRATIKO PILIPINO LAKAS NG BAYAN (PDP-LABAN), Petitioners, v. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THROUGH ITS CHAIRMAN, SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, AND HON. ROBERTO B. TAN, IN HIS CAPACITY AS TREASURER OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

G.R. NO. 197282

ATTY. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, THROUGH EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Respondents.

G.R. NO. 197392

LOUIS BAROK C. BIRAOGO, Petitioner, v. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Respondents.

G.R. NO. 197454

JACINTO V. PARAS, Petitioner, v. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., AND THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,Respondents.

MINORITY RIGHTS FORUM, PHILIPPINES, INC., Respondents-Intervenor.

BRION, J.:


FACTS:

These cases are motions for reconsideration assailing the SCs Decision dated October 18, 2011, where it upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act (RA) No. 10153. Pursuant to the constitutional mandate of synchronization, RA No. 10153 postponed the regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) (which were scheduled to be held on the second Monday of August 2011) to the second Monday of May 2013 and recognized the Presidents power to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) to temporarily assume these positions upon the expiration of the terms of the elected officials.

ISSUES:
1. Does the Constitution mandate the synchronization of ARMM regional elections with national and local elections? 

2. Does RA No. 10153 amend RA No. 9054? If so, does RA No. 10153 have to comply with the supermajority vote and plebiscite requirements? 
3. Is the holdover provision in RA No. 9054 constitutional? 
4. Does the COMELEC have the power to call for special elections in ARMM? 
5. Does granting the President the power to appoint OICs violate the elective and representative nature of ARMM regional legislative and executive offices? 
6. Does the appointment power granted to the President exceed the President's supervisory powers over autonomous regions?

HELD: The constitutionality of RA No. 10153 is upheld.

POLITICAL LAW: synchronization of ARMM


1. The framers of the Constitution could not have expressed their objective more clearly there was to be a single election in 1992 for all elective officials from the President down to the municipal officials. Significantly, the framers were even willing to temporarily lengthen or shorten the terms of elective officials in order to meet this objective, highlighting the importance of this constitutional mandate. That the ARMM elections were not expressly mentioned in the Transitory Provisions of the Constitution on synchronization cannot be interpreted to mean that the ARMM elections are not covered by the constitutional mandate of synchronization. The ARMM had not yet been officially organized at the time the Constitution was enacted and ratified by the people. Keeping in mind that a constitution is not intended to provide merely for the exigencies of a few years but is to endure through generations for as long as it remains unaltered by the people as ultimate sovereign, a constitution should be construed in the light of what actually is a continuing instrument to govern not only the present but also the unfolding events of the indefinite future. Although the principles embodied in a constitution remain fixed and unchanged from the time of its adoption, a constitution must be construed as a dynamic process intended to stand for a great length of time, to be progressive and not static.

2. A thorough reading of RA No. 9054 reveals that it fixes the schedule for only the first ARMM elections; it does not provide the date for the succeeding regular ARMM elections. In providing for the date of the regular ARMM elections, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 clearly do not amend RA No. 9054 since these laws do not change or revise any provision in RA No. 9054. In fixing the date of the ARMM elections subsequent to the first election, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 merely filled the gap left in RA No. 9054.

Even assuming that RA No. 10153 amends RA No. 9054, however, it is well-settled that the supermajority vote requirement set forth in Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 is unconstitutional for violating the principle that Congress cannot pass irrepealable laws.

Similarly, the petitioners contention that the plebiscite requirement applies to all amendments of RA No. 9054 for being an unreasonable enlargement of the plebiscite requirement set forth in the Constitution is incorrect. Section 18, Article X of the Constitution provides that the creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose. This means that only amendments to, or revisions of, the Organic Act constitutionally-essential to the creation of autonomous regions i.e., those aspects specifically mentioned in the Constitution which Congress must provide for in the Organic Act require ratification through a plebiscite.

3. The petitioners are one in defending the constitutionality of Section 7(1), Article VII of RA No. 9054, which allows the regional officials to remain in their positions in a holdover capacity. The petitioners essentially argue that the ARMM regional officials should be allowed to remain in their respective positions until the May 2013 elections since there is no specific provision in the Constitution which prohibits regional elective officials from performing their duties in a holdover capacity.

The clear wording of Section 8, Article X of the Constitution expresses the intent of the framers of the Constitution to categorically set a limitation on the period within which all elective local officials can occupy their offices. Since elective ARMM officials are also local officials, they are, thus, bound by the three-year term limit prescribed by the Constitution. It, therefore, becomes irrelevant that the Constitution does not expressly prohibit elective officials from acting in a holdover capacity. Short of amending the Constitution, Congress has no authority to extend the three-year term limit by inserting a holdover provision in RA No. 9054. Thus, the term of three years for local officials should stay at three (3) years, as fixed by the Constitution, and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress.

4.The Constitution has merely empowered the COMELEC to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election.Although the legislature, under the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang [BP] 881), has granted the COMELEC the power to postpone elections to another date, this power is confined to the specific terms and circumstances provided for in the law. Both Section 5 and Section 6 of BP 881 address instances where elections have already been scheduled to take place but do not occur or had to be suspended because of unexpected and unforeseen circumstances, such as violence, fraud, terrorism, and other analogous circumstances. In contrast, the ARMM elections were postponed by law, in furtherance of the constitutional mandate of synchronization of national and local elections. Obviously, this does not fall under any of the circumstances contemplated by Section 5 or Section 6 of BP 881.

5. The President derives his power to appoint OICs in the ARMM regional government from law, it falls under the classification of presidential appointments covered by the second sentence of Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution; the Presidents appointment power thus rests on clear constitutional basis.

6. There is no incompatibility between the President's power of supervision over local governments and autonomous regions, and the power granted to the President, within the specific confines of RA No. 10153, to appoint OICs. The power of supervision is defined as the power of a superior officer to see to it that lower officers perform their functions in accordance with law. This is distinguished from the power of control or the power of an officer to alter or modify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for the latter.

The petitioners apprehension regarding the President's alleged power of control over the OICs is rooted in their belief that the President's appointment power includes the power to remove these officials at will. In this way, the petitioners foresee that the appointed OICs will be beholden to the President, and act as representatives of the President and not of the people. This is incorrect. Once the President has appointed the OICs for the offices of the Governor, Vice Governor and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly, these same officials will remain in office until they are replaced by the duly elected officials in the May 2013 elections. Nothing in this provision even hints that the President has the power to recall the appointments he already made. Clearly, the petitioners fears in this regard are more apparent than real.

MR DENIED.

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