Symbolic function of judicial review


Everyone knows Section 1 of Article VIII on judicial power. "The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law."

"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."

Judicial review is a remedy. Nachura believes that it has three (3) main functions: checking; legitimating; and symbolic. He cites Salonga v. Paño (G.R. No. L-59524. February 18, 1985).

Recent developments in jurisprudence serve to focus attention on this not-too-well-known aspect of the Supreme Court's functions.

The setting aside or declaring void, in proper cases, of intrusions of State authority into areas reserved by the Bill of Rights for the individual as constitutionally protected spheres where even the awesome powers of Government may not enter at will is not the totality of the Court's functions.

The Court also has the duty to formulate guiding and controlling constitutional principles, precepts, doctrines, or rules. It has the symbolic function of educating bench and bar on the extent of protection given by constitutional guarantees.

In Camara v. Enage (41 SCRA 1), the petitioner who questioned a P1,195,200.00 bail bond as excessive and, therefore, constitutionally void, escaped from the provincial jail while his petition was pending. The petition became moot because of his escape but the Supreme Court nonetheless rendered a decision and stated:

The fact that the case is moot and academic should not preclude the Highest Tribunal of the Land from setting forth in language clear and unmistakable, the obligation of fidelity on the part of lower court judges to the unequivocal command of the Constitution that excessive bail shall not be required.In Gonzales v. Marcos (65 SCRA 624) whether or not the Cultural Center of the Philippines could validly be created through an executive order was mooted by Presidential Decree No. 15, the Center's new charter pursuant to the President's legislative powers under martial law. In said case, the Court discussed the constitutional mandate on the preservation and development of Filipino culture for national Identity. (Article XV, Section 9, Paragraph 2 of the [not the present] Constitution).

In the habeas corpus case of Aquino, Jr., v. Enrile (59 SCRA 183) during the pendency of the case, 26 petitioners were released from custody and one withdrew his petition. The sole remaining petitioner was facing charges of murder, subversion, and illegal possession of firearms. The fact that the petition was moot and academic did not prevent the Court in the exercise of its symbolic function from promulgating one of the most voluminous decisions ever printed in the Reports.

In this case of Salonga v. Paño, the respondents agree with the Court's earlier finding that the prosecution evidence miserably fails to establish a prima facie case against the petitioner, either as a co-conspirator of a destabilization plan to overthrow the government or as an officer or leader of any subversive organization. They have taken the initiative of dropping the charges against the petitioner. Often reiterate is the rule, however, that the Court will not validate the filing of an information based on the kind of evidence against the petitioner found in the records.

The discussion above is based on Nachura's (2014) book on political law. His books are available online and in fine book stores nationwide. Please see the following link. SOURCE: SOURCES: Nachura (2014). Outline Reviewer in Political Law. Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura. VJ Graphic Arts, Inc. www.facebook.com/vjgraphics/photos/a.662013483918998/858385384281806

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