PNRC as sui generis corporation

In Liban v. Gordon (2009), the Supreme Court held that the office of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Chairman is NOT a government office or an office in a government-owned or controlled corporation for purposes of the prohibition in Section 13, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. However, since the PNRC Charter is void insofar as it creates the PNRC as a private corporation, the PNRC should incorporate under the Corporation Code and register with the Securities and Exchange Commission if it wants to be a private corporation.

In 2011, the Supreme Court reconsidered and changed its mind.

A closer look at the nature of the PNRC would show that there is none like it not just in terms of structure, but also in terms of history, public service and official status accorded to it by the State and the international community. There is merit in PNRCs contention that its structure is sui generis.

The PNRC succeeded the chapter of the American Red Cross which was in existence in the Philippines since 1917. It was created by an Act of Congress after the Republic of the Philippines became an independent nation on July 6, 1946 and proclaimed on February 14, 1947 its adherence to the Convention of Geneva of July 29, 1929 for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick of Armies in the Field (the Geneva Red Cross Convention). By that action the Philippines indicated its desire to participate with the nations of the world in mitigating the suffering caused by war and to establish in the Philippines a voluntary organization for that purpose and like other volunteer organizations established in other countries which have ratified the Geneva Conventions, to promote the health and welfare of the people in peace and in war.

Based on the above, the sui generis status of the PNRC is now sufficiently established. Although it is neither a subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the government, nor a government-owned or -controlled corporation or a subsidiary thereof, as succinctly explained in the Decision of July 15, 2009, so much so that respondent, under the Decision, was correctly allowed to hold his position as Chairman thereof concurrently while he served as a Senator, such a conclusion does NOT ipso facto imply that the PNRC is a private corporation within the contemplation of the provision of the Constitution, that must be organized under the Corporation Code. As correctly mentioned by Justice Roberto A. Abad, the sui generis character of PNRC requires us to approach controversies involving the PNRC on a case-to-case basis.

In sum, the PNRC enjoys a special status as an important ally and auxiliary of the government in the humanitarian field in accordance with its commitments under international law. This Court cannot all of a sudden refuse to recognize its existence, especially since the issue of the constitutionality of the PNRC Charter was never raised by the parties. It bears emphasizing that the PNRC has responded to almost all national disasters since 1947, and is widely known to provide a substantial portion of the countrys blood requirements. Its humanitarian work is unparalleled. The Court should not shake its existence to the core in an untimely and drastic manner that would not only have negative consequences to those who depend on it in times of disaster and armed hostilities but also have adverse effects on the image of the Philippines in the international community. The sections of the PNRC Charter that were declared void must therefore stay. (G. R. No. 175352)

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