Notes on Blending of Powers & Checks and Balances

[1] The general rule is separation of powers. The exceptions are blending of powers and checks and balances.

[2] Constitutional entities blend powers when they put their powers together to achieve a goal. When the President signs a bill, there is a blending between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch. When the President vetoes, there is checks and balances.

[3] When the Commission on Appointments confirms the President's appointment, there is blending of powers. When it does not confirm, there is checks and balances.

[4] Checks and balances occur between and among the Three Great Branches and other constitutional bodies.

FROM THE MOMENT A LAW
IS CREATED, THE PRESIDENT
HAS POWER TO IMPLEMENT;
CONGRESS CANNOT INTERFERE

[5] From the moment the law becomes effective, any provision of law that empowers Congress or any of its members to play any role in the implementation or enforcement of the law violates the principle of separation of powers and is thus unconstitutional

[6] Any post-enactment-measure allowing legislator participation beyond oversight is bereft of any constitutional basis and hence, tantamount to impermissible interference and/or assumption of executive functions.

EXCEPTION; CONGRESS
HAS OVERSIGHT POWERS
THROUGH QUESTIONS HOUR
AND POWER OF INQUIRY

[7] Congress may still exercise its oversight function which is a mechanism of checks and balances that the Constitution itself allows. But it must be made clear that Congress‘ role must be confined to mere oversight.

SEPARATION OF POWERS
IS NOT ABSOLUTE

[8] Pursuant to the principle of separation of powers underlying our system of government, the Executive is supreme within his own sphere. However, the separation of powers, under the Constitution, is not absolute. What is more, it goes hand in hand with the system of checks and balances, under which the Executive is supreme, as regards the suspension of the privilege, but only if and when he acts within the sphere alloted to him by the Basic Law, and the authority to determine whether or not he has so acted is vested in the Judicial Department, which, in this respect, is, in turn, constitutionally supreme. In the exercise of such authority, the function of the Court is merely to check — not to supplant the Executive, or to ascertain merely whether he has gone beyond the constitutional limits of his jurisdiction, not to exercise the power vested in him or to determine the wisdom of his act.

[9] In Marcos v. Manglapus, President Cory Aquino banned the Marcoses from returning to the Philippines. Accordingly, the question for the Supreme Court to determine was whether or not there exist factual bases for the President to conclude that it was in the national interest to bar the return of the Marcoses to the Philippines. If such postulates do exist, it cannot be said that she has acted, or acts, arbitrarily or that she has gravely abused her discretion in deciding to bar their return. (G.R. No. 88211, September 15, 1989)

[10] 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.

[10] Santiago v. Guingona: "The principle of separation of powers ordains that each of the three great branches of government has exclusive cognizance of and is supreme in matters falling within its own constitutionally allocated sphere. Constitutional respect and a becoming regard for the sovereign acts of a coequal branch prevents this Court from prying into the internal workings of the Senate. Where no provision of the Constitution or the laws or even the Rules of the Senate is clearly shown to have been violated, disregarded or overlooked, grave abuse of discretion cannot be imputed to Senate officials for acts done within their competence and authority. This Court will be neither a tyrant nor a wimp; rather, it will remain steadfast and judicious in upholding the rule and majesty of the law."

[11] The separation of powers among the three co-equal branches of our government has erected an impregnable wall that keeps the power to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and procedure within the sole province of this Court. The other branches trespass upon this prerogative if they enact laws or issue orders that effectively repeal, alter or modify any of the procedural rules promulgated by this Court. Viewed from this perspective, the claim of a legislative grant of exemption from the payment of legal fees under Section 39 of R.A. 8291 necessarily fails. (In re: In the matter of Clarification of Exemption from payment of all court and Sheriff’s Fees A.M. 12-2-03-0 March 13, 2012)
POWER TO REMOVE ERRING
ELECTIVE LOCAL OFFICIALS
GIVEN BY CONGRESS TO THE
COURTS; BLENDING OF POWERS

[12] Section 61 of the Local Government Code provides for the procedure for the filing of an administrative case against an erring elective barangay official before the Sangguniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Bayan. However, the Sangguniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Bayan cannot order the removal of an erring elective barangay official from office, as the courts are exclusively vested with this power under Section 60 of the Local Government Code. Thus, if the acts allegedly committed by the barangay official are of a grave nature and, if found guilty, would merit the penalty of removal from office, the case should be filed with the regional trial court. Once the court assumes jurisdiction, it retains jurisdiction over the case even if it would be subsequently apparent during the trial that a penalty less than removal from office is appropriate. On the other hand, the most extreme penalty that the Sangguniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Bayan may impose on the erring elective barangay official is suspension; if it deems that the removal of the official from service is warranted, then it can resolve that the proper charges be filed in court. (The Sangguniang Barangay of Barangay Don Mariano Marcos vs Martinez; G.R. No. 170626, March 3, 2008)

[13] Congress clearly meant that the removal of an elective local official be done only after a trial before the appropriate court, where court rules of procedure and evidence can ensure impartiality and fairness and protect against political maneuverings. Elevating the removal of an elective local official from office from an administrative case to a court case may be justified by the fact that such removal not only punishes the official concerned but also, in effect, deprives the electorate of the services of the official for whom they voted.

[14] Vesting the local legislative body with the power to decide whether or not a local chief executive may be removed from office, and only relegating to the courts a mandatory duty to implement the decision, would still not free the resolution of the case from the capriciousness or partisanship of the disciplining authority. Thus, the petitioners interpretation would defeat the clear intent of the law.

[14a] Such an arrangement clearly demotes the courts to nothing more than an implementing arm of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, or Sangguniang Bayan. This would be an unmistakable breach of the doctrine on separation of powers, thus placing the courts under the orders of the legislative bodies of local governments. The courts would be stripped of their power of review, and their discretion in imposing the extreme penalty of removal from office is thus left to be exercised by political factions which stand to benefit from the removal from office of the local elective official concerned, the very evil which Congress sought to avoid when it enacted Section 60 of the Local Government Code.

CONGRESS CANNOT INTERFERE
WITH IMPLEMENTATION OF LAW
BUT MAY EXERCISE OVERSIGHT

[15] While the legislative function is deemed accomplished and completed upon the enactment and approval of the law, the creation of the congressional oversight committee permits legislative participation in the implementation and enforcement of the law.

[16] The creation of the congressional oversight committee under the law enhances, rather than violates, separation of powers. It ensures the fulfillment of the legislative policy and serves as a check to any over-accumulation of power on the part of the executive and the implementing agencies. (ABAKADA Guro Partylist vs Purisima; G.R. No. 166715, August 14, 2008)

POWER TO DECLARE IMPLEMENTING RULES
VOID IS A JUDICIAL FUNCTION; CONGRESS
CANNOT DO SO

[17] Administrative regulations enacted by administrative agencies to implement and interpret the law which they are entrusted to enforce have the force of law and are entitled to respect. Such rules and regulations partake of the nature of a statute and are just as binding as if they have been written in the statute itself. As such, they have the force and effect of law and enjoy the presumption of constitutionality and legality until they are set aside with finality in an appropriate case by a competent court. Congress, in the guise of assuming the role of an overseer, may not pass upon their legality by subjecting them to its stamp of approval without disturbing the calculated balance of powers established by the Constitution. In exercising discretion to approve or disapprove the IRR based on a determination of whether or not they conformed with the provisions of RA 9335, Congress arrogated judicial power unto itself, a power exclusively vested in this Court by the Constitution. (ABAKADA Guro Partylist vs Purisima; G.R. No. 166715, August 14, 2008)

ASIDE FROM POLITICAL QUESTIONS,
COURTS ALSO CANNOT PASS UPON
ISSUES NOT YET RIPE FOR ADJUDICATION

[18] An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial adjudication. A closely related requirement is ripeness, that is, the question must be ripe for adjudication. And a constitutional question is ripe for adjudication when the governmental act being challenged has a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. Thus, to be ripe for judicial adjudication, the petitioner must show a personal stake in the outcome of the case or an injury to himself that can be redressed by a favorable decision of the Court.

[19] In ABAKADA Guro Partylist v. Purisima, aside from the general claim that the dispute has ripened into a judicial controversy by the mere enactment of the law even without any further overt act, petitioners fail either to assert any specific and concrete legal claim or to demonstrate any direct adverse effect of the law on them. They were unable to show a personal stake in the outcome of this case or an injury to themselves. On this account, their petition is procedurally infirm.

[20] Despite the procedural infirmity of the petition in ABAKADA Guro case, public interest requires the resolution of the constitutional issues raised by petitioners. The grave nature of their allegations tends to cast a cloud on the presumption of constitutionality in favor of the law. And where an action of the legislative branch is alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. (ABAKADA Guro Partylist vs Purisima; G.R. No. 166715, August 14, 2008)

THAT CONGRESS DID NOT OVERRIDE
THE PRESIDENT'S VETO DOES NOT
PREVENT THE SUPREME COURT
FROM REVIEWING THE VALIDITY OF
SAID VETO

[21] VILLAREAL'S DISSENT: It is suggested in the majority opinion that the Governor-General having vetoed section 7 of Act No. 4051 and the Legislature not having overriden said veto the presumption is that the act of the Governor-General was constitutional and this court must respect said implied approval. If such doctrine should prevail, then the executive may encroach upon the powers of the legislature, and if the latter should acquiesce in said encroachment either by sanctioning it in the bill which is the subject of encroachment or by failing to override said veto, and the courts must respect such encroachment when the constitutionality of said bill is put in question, then the judicial branch of the government instead of being the guardian of the Constitution will become an accomplice to its violation, and the rights of the people will have no protection. (Bengzon v. Secretary of Justice and Insular Auditor, 62 Phil. 912; VILLA-REAL, J., dissenting)

[22] Please note that the majority decision in Bengzon has been heavily criticized. MAJORITY OPINION: In determining whether or not the Governor-General stepped outside the boundaries of his legislative functions, when he attempted to veto one section of Act No. 4051, while approving the rest of the bill, we are not without the aid of the construction placed on his action by both legislative and executive departments. That the Philippine Legislature intended Act No. 4051 to be an appropriation measure with various items is apparent from a reading of section 12 thereof whereby the Legislature anticipated the possibility of a partial veto of the bill by the Chief Executive. Not only this, but after the Chief Executive took action, the Legislature made no attempt to override the veto or to amend the law to bring into being the section which the Governor-General had eliminated. Then the same question came again before the executive department, and all of its united in sustaining the validity of the Government General's veto.

Popular Posts