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  SENATE VS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY ERMITA 495 SCRA 170 –   Political Law –   Constitutional Law –   Legislative Branch –   Question Hour –   Constitutionality of E.O. 464  In 2005, scandals involving anomalous transactions about the North Rail Project as well as the Garci tapes surfaced. This prompted the Senate to conduct a public hearing to investigate the said anomalies particularly the alleged overpricing in the NRP. The investigating Senate committee issued invitations to certain department heads and military officials to speak before the committee as resource persons. Ermita submitted that he and some of the department heads cannot attend the said hearing due to pressing matters that need immediate attention. AFP Chief of Staff Senga likewise sent a similar letter. Drilon, the senate president, excepted the said requests for they were sent belatedly and arrangements were already made and scheduled. Subsequently, GMA issued EO 464 which took effect immediately. EO 464 basically prohibited Department heads, Senior officials of executive departments who in the judgment of the department heads are covered by the executive privilege; Generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and such other officers who in the judgment of the Chief of Staff are covered by the executive privilege; Philippine National Police (PNP) officers with rank of chief superintendent or higher and such other officers who in the  judgment of the Chief of the PNP are covered by the executive privilege; Senior national security officials who in the judgment of the National Security Adviser are covered by the executive privilege; and Such other officers as may be determined by the President, from appearing in such hearings conducted by Congress without first securing the president’s  approval. The department heads and the military officers who were invited by the Senate committee then invoked EO 464 to except themselves. Despite EO 464, the scheduled hearing proceeded with only 2 military personnel attending. For defying President Ar royo’s order barring military personnel from testifying before legislative inquiries without her approval, Brig. Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan were relieved from their military posts and were made to face court martial proceedings. EO 464’s constitutionalit y was assailed for it is alleged that it infringes on the rights and duties of Congress to conduct investigation in aid of legislation and conduct oversight functions in the implementation of laws. ISSUE: Whether or not EO 464 is constitutional. HELD: The SC ruled that EO 464 is constitutional in part. To determine the validity of the provisions of EO 464, the SC sought to distinguish Section 21 from Section 22 of Art 6 of the 1987 Constitution. The Congress’ power of inquiry is expressly recognized in Sec tion 21 of Article VI of the Constitution. Although there is no provision in the Constitution expressly investing either House of Congress with power to make investigations and exact testimony to the end that it may exercise its legislative functions advisedly and effectively, such power is so far incidental to the legislative function as to be implied. In other words, the power of inquiry  –  with process to enforce it  –  is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information  –  which is not infrequently true  –  recourse must be had to others who do possess it. Section 22 on the other hand provides for the Question Hour. The Question Hour is closely related with the legislative power, and it is precisely as a complement to or a supplement of the Legislative Inquiry. The appearance of the members of Cabinet would be very, very essential not only in the application of check and balance but also, in effect, in aid of legislation. Section 22 refers only to Question Hour, whereas, Section 21 would refer specifically to inquiries in aid of legislation, under which anybody for that matter, may be summoned and if he refuses, he can be held in contempt of the House. A distinction was thus made between inquiries in aid of legislation and the question hour. While attendance was meant to be discretionary in the question hour, it was compulsory in inquiries in aid of legislation. Sections 21 and 22, therefore, while closely related and complementary to each other, should not be considered as pertaining to the same power of Congress. One specifically relates to the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation, the aim of which is to elicit information that may be used for legislation, while the other pertains to the power to conduct a question hour, the objective of which is to obtain information in pursuit of Congress’ oversight function.  Ultimately, the power of Congress to compel the appearance of executive officials under Section 21 and the lack of it under Section 22 find their basis in the principle of separation of powers. While the executive branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot frustrate the power of Congress to legislate by refusing to comply with its demands for information. When Congress exercises its power of inquiry, the only way for department heads to exempt themselves therefrom is by a valid claim of privilege. They are not exempt by the mere fact that they are department heads. Only one executive official may be exempted from this power —  the President on whom executive power is vested, hence, beyond the reach of Congress except through the power of impeachment. It is based on her being the highest official of the executive branch, and the due respect accorded to a co-equal branch of government which is sanctioned by a long-standing custom. The requirement then to secure presidential consent under Section 1, limited as it is only to appearances in the question hour, is valid on its face. For under Section 22, Article VI of the Constitution, the appearance of department heads in the question hour is discretionary on their part. Section 1 cannot, however, be applied to appearances of department heads in inquiries in aid of legislation. Congress is not bound in such instances to respect the refusal of the department head to appear in such inquiry, unless a valid claim of privilege is subsequently made, either by the President herself or by the Executive Secretary.   When Congress merely seeks to be informed on how department heads are implementing the statutes which it has issued, its right to such information is not as imperative as that of the President to whom, as Chief Executive, such department heads must give a report of their performance as a matter of duty. In such instances, Section 22, in keeping with the separation of powers, states that Congress may only request   their appearance. Nonetheless, when the inquiry in which Congress requires their appearance is ‘in aid of legislation’ under Section 21, the appearance is   mandatory   for the same reasons stated in   Arnault  .  BANAT VS COMELEC 2009 Facts: On 27 June 2002, BANAT filed a Petition to Proclaim the Full Number of Party-List Representatives Provided by the Constitution , docketed as NBC No. 07-041 (PL) before the NBC. BANAT filed its petition because the Chairman and the Members of the COMELEC have recently been quoted in the national papers that the COMELEC is duty bound to and shall implement the Veterans  ruling, that is, would apply the Panganiban formula in allocating party-list seats. BANAT filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus assailing the ruling in NBC Resolution No. 07-88. BANAT did not file a motion for reconsideration of NBC Resolution No. 07-88. On 9 July 2007, Bayan Muna, Abono, and A Teacher asked the COMELEC, acting as NBC, to reconsider its decision to use the Veterans  formula as stated in its NBC Resolution No. 07-60 because the Veterans formula is violative of the Constitution and of Republic Act No. 7941 (R.A. No. 7941). On the same day, the COMELEC denied reconsideration during the proceedings of the NBC. Facts: Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) filed before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) a petition to proclaim the full number of party list representatives provided by the Constitution. However, the recommendation of the head of the legal group of COMELEC’s national board of canvassers to declare the petition moot and academic was approved by the COMELEC en banc, and declared further in a resolution that the winning party list will be resolved using the Veterans ruling. BANAT then filed a petition before the SC assailing said resolution of the COMELEC. Issues: (1) Is the 20% allocation for party-list representatives provided in Sec 5 (2), Art VI of the Constitution mandatory or is it merely a ceiling? (2) Is the 2% threshold and “qualifier” votes prescribed by the same Sec 11 (b) of RA 7941 constitutional? (3) Does the Constitution prohibit major political parties from participating in the party-list elections? If not, can major political parties participate in the party-list elections? Held: (1) Neither the Constitution nor RA 7941 mandates the filling up of the entire 20% allocation of party-list representatives found in the Constitution. The Constitution, in paragraph 1, Sec 5 of Art VI, left the determination of the number of the members of the House of Representatives to Congress. The 20% allocation of party-list representatives is merely a ceiling; party-list representatives cannot be more then 20% of the members of the House of Representatives. (2) No. We rule that, in computing the allocation of additional seats, the continued operation of the two percent threshold for the distribution of the additional seats as found in the second clause of Sec 11(b) of RA 7941 is unconstitutional. This Court finds that the two percent threshold makes it mathematically impossible to achieve the maximum number of available party-list seats when the available party-list seat exceeds 50. The continued operation of the two percent threshold in the distribution of the additional seats frustrates the attainment of the permissive ceiling that 20% of the members of the House of Representatives shall consist of party-list representatives.We therefore strike down the two percent threshold only in relation to the distribution of the additional seats as found in the second clause of Sec 11 (b) of RA 7941. The two percent threshold presents an unwarranted obstacle to the full implementation of Sec 5 (2), Art VI of the Constitution and prevents the attainment of “the -broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives.” (3) No. Neither the Constitution nor RA 7941 prohibits major political parties from participating in the party-list system. On the contrary, the framers of the Constitution clearly intended the major political parties to participate in party-list elections through their sectoral wings. However, by vote of 8-7, the Court decided to continue the ruling in Veterans disallowing major political parties from participating in the party-list elections, directly or indirectly.  BELGICA VS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY G.R. No. 208566 –   Political Law –   Constitutional Law –   Local Government –   Invalid Delegation   Legislative Department –   Invalid Delegation of Legislative Power This case is consolidated with G.R. No. 208493 and G.R. No. 209251. The so-called pork barrel system has been around in the Philippines since about 1922. Pork Barrel is commonly known as the lump-sum, discretionary funds of the members of the Congress. It underwent several legal designations from “ Congressional Pork Barrel  ” to the latest “ Priority Development Assistance Fund  ” or PDAF . The allocation for the pork barrel is integrated in the annual General Appropriations Act   (GAA). Since 2011, the allocation of the PDAF has been done in the following manner: a. P70 million : for each member of the lower house; broken down to  –   P40 million for “ hard projects ” (infrastructure projects like roads, buildings, schools, etc.), and P30 million for “ soft projects ” (scholarship grants, medical assistance, livelihood programs, IT development, etc.);  b. P200 million : for each senator; broken down to  –  P100 million for hard projects, P100 million for soft projects; c. P200 million : for the Vice-President; broken down to  –  P100 million for hard projects, P100 million for soft projects. The PDAF articles in the GAA do provide for realignment of funds  whereby certain cabinet members may request for the realignment of funds into their department provided that the request for realignment is approved or concurred by the legislator concerned. Presidential Pork Barrel The president does have his own source of fund albeit not included in the GAA. The so-called presidential pork barrel comes from two sources: (a) the Malampaya Funds, from the Malampaya Gas Project  –  this has been around since 1976, and (b) the Presidential Social Fund which is derived from the earnings of PAGCOR  –  this has been around since about 1983. Pork Barrel Scam Controversy Ever since, the pork barrel system has been besieged by allegations of corruption. In July 2013, six whistle blowers, headed by Benhur Luy, exposed that for the last decade, the corruption in the pork barrel system had been facilitated by Janet Lim Napoles. Napoles had been helping lawmakers in funneling their pork barrel funds into about 20 bogus NGO’s (non -government organizations) which would make it appear that government funds are being used in legit existing projects but are in fact going to “ghost” projects. An audit was then conducted by the Commission on Audit and the r esults thereof concurred with the exposes of Luy et al. Motivated by the foregoing, Greco Belgica and several others, filed various petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the pork barrel system. ISSUES: I. Whether or not the congressional pork barrel system is constitutional. II. Whether or not presidential pork barrel system is constitutional. HELD: I.  No, the congressional pork barrel system is unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional because it violates the following principles: a. Separation of Powers As a rule, the budgeting power lies in Congress. It regulates the release of funds (power of the purse). The executive, on the other hand, implements the laws  –  this includes the GAA to which the PDAF is a part of. Only the executive may implement the law but under the p ork barrel system, what’s happening was that, after the GAA, itself a law, was enacted, the legislators themselves dictate as to which projects their PDAF funds should be allocated to  –  a clear act of implementing the law they enacted  –  a violation of the principle of separation of powers. (Note in the older case of  PHILCONSA vs Enriquez, it was  ruled that pork barrel, then called as CDF or the Countrywide Development Fund, was constitutional insofar as the legislators only recommend where their pork barrel funds go). This is also highlighted by the fact that in realigning the PDAF, the executive will still have to get the concurrence of the legislator concerned. b. Non-delegability of Legislative Power As a rule, the Constitution vests legislative power in Congress alone. (The Constitution does grant the people legislative power but only insofar as the processes of referendum and initiative are concerned). That being, legislative power cannot be delegated by Congress for it cannot delegate further that which was delegated to it by the Constitution. Exceptions to the rule are: (i) delegated legislative power to local government units but this shall involve purely local matters; (ii) authority of the President to, by law, exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy in times of war or other national emergency, or fix within specified limits, and subject to such limitations and restrictions as Congress may impose, tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts within the framework of the national development program of the Government. In this case, the PDAF articles which allow the individual legislator to identify the projects to which his PDAF money should go to is a violation of the rule on non-delegability of legislative power. The power to appropriate funds is solely lodged in Congress (in the two houses comprising it) collectively and not lodged in the individual members. Further, nowhere in the exceptions does it state that the Congress can delegate the power to the individual member of Congress. c. Principle of Checks and Balances One feature in the principle of checks and balances is the power of the president to veto items in the GAA which he may deem to be inappropriate. But this power is already being undermined because of the fact that once the GAA is approved, the legislator can now identify the project to which he will appropriate his PDAF. Under such system, how can the president veto the appropriation made by the legislator if the appropriation is made after the approval of the GAA  –  again, “Congress cannot choose a mode of bu dgeting which effectively renders the constitutionally-given power of the President useless.”   d. Local Autonomy As a rule, the local governments have the power to manage their local affairs. Through their Local Development Councils (LDCs), the LGUs can develop their own programs and policies concerning their localities. But with the PDAF, particularly on the part of the members of the hous e of representatives, what’s happening is that a congressman can either bypass or duplicate a project by the LDC and later on claim it as his own. This is an instance where the national government (note, a congressman is a national officer) meddles with the affairs of the local government  –  and this is contrary to the State policy embodied in the Constitution on local aut onomy. It’s good if that’s all that is happening under the pork barrel system but worse, the PDAF becomes more of a personal fund on the part of legislators. II.  Yes, the presidential pork barrel is valid. The main issue raised by Belgica et al against the presidential pork barrel is that it is unconstitutional because it violates Section 29 (1), Article VI of the Constitution which provides: No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation  made by law. Belgica et al emphasized that the presidential pork comes from the earnings of the Malampaya and PAGCOR and not from any appropriation from a particular legislation. The Supreme Court disagrees as it ruled that PD 910, which created the Malampaya Fund, as well as PD 1869 (as amended by PD 1993), which amended PAGCOR’s charter, provided for the appropriation, to wit:  (i) PD 910: Section 8 thereof provides that all fees, among others, collected from certain energy-related ventures shall form part of a special fund (the Malampaya Fund) which shall be used to further finance energy resource development and for other purposes which the President may direct;
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