Jurisdiction over the remedies

The most basic jurisdiction to the Supreme Court and such other courts as may be created by law is the power and duty to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable. In the words of no less than the Supreme Court, judicial power includes the power to "settle justiciable controversies or disputes involving rights that are enforceable and demandable before the courts of justice or the redress of wrongs for violations of such rights"[1] In simplest terms, this is the most basic subject-matter jurisdiction of the courts and it is up for Congress to approtion this power.The 1987 Constitution, however, has expanded judicial power to include not only the settlement of actual controversies but also the determination of the existence of grave abuse of discretion by any government instrumentality. This expanded power does not require actual controversy as long as grave abuse of discretion was committed by any branch, office, commission, or any instrumentality of the government.

Jurisprudence refers to the first power as traditional power of judicial review. The second one is called the expanded or extraordinary power of judicial review.[2]

The relevance of all these discussions on jurisdiction over the remedies is the fact that not all questions can be passed upon by the courts. In short, judicial review is not always the remedy and there are cases in which there is no remedy to question a government act or omission. The courts would have no jurisdiction over the remedies because the "remedy" (quotes intended) would be suffrage, not judicial recourse.

On one hand, there are questions classified as "justiciable controversies" and, on the other hand, there are those which are labeled as "political controversies." Political controversies or political questions are also called "non-justiciable questions."

Political or non-justiciable questions are those which cannot be passed upon or resolved by courts because to do so would be violative of the principle of separation of powers. Such questions or political matters belong to the political branches of the Government -- the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch -- and they are considered policy matters. The remedy to question policy matters would not be to go to court; rather, to vote out those who advocate such policies.

Going back to the discussion on judicial power, the remedy of judicial review is available only to (1) controversies involving rights which are legal demandable and enforceable (the actual controversy test) and (2) controversies involving grave abuse of discretion in any instrumentality of the Government. Beyond these, courts cannot step in to hear and decide. In other words, over policy questions, judicial review would not be the proper remedy; there would be no remedy.

In raising a question to the courts, a party-litigant must show the existence of the court's jurisdiction over the remedies -- i.e. the remedy of judicial review -- to pass upon, resolve or decide a question which must be a justiciable one, not a political one.

[1] Lopez v. Roxas, 124 Phil. 168, 173 (1966) [Per C.J. Concepcion, En Banc].

[2] Association of Medical Clinics for Overseas Workers, Inc. (AMCOW) v. GCC Approved Medical Centers Association, Inc., 802 Phil. 116, 137-139 (2016) [Per J. Brion, En Banc] and Araullo v. Aquino III, 111 Phil. 457, 525-527 (2014) [Per J. Bersamin, En Banc].

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