Wednesday, September 28, 2011

After careful evaluation of the case, respondent is found to be discharging pollutive wastewater computed in two periods reckoned from March 14, 2000 - the date of initial sampling until November 3, 2003 - the date it requested for a re-sampling covering 932 days in consideration of the interval of time when subsequent monitoring was conducted after an interval of more than 2 years and from March 15, 2006 - the date when re-sampling was done until April 17, 2007 covering 448 days[6] for a total of 1,247 days.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent is hereby ordered to pay within fifteen (15) days from receipt hereof the accumulated daily penalties amounting to a total of Pesos: One Million Two Hundred Forty-Seven (Thousand) Pesos Only (PHP 1,247,000.00) prior to dismissal of the case and without prejudice of filing another case for its subsequent violations. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

THIRD DIVISION
[ G.R. No. 191427, May 30, 2011 ]
UNIVERSAL ROBINA CORP. (CORN DIVISION), PETITIONER, VS. LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, RESPONDENT.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

reclaimed lands....

To recall, the Court's decision of July 9, 2002 ("Decision" for brevity) on the instant case states in its summary:

We can now summarize our conclusions as follows:

1. The 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands, now covered by certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public domain. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws.

2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man.

3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of 77.34 hectares of the Freedom Islands, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain.

4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 hectares of still submerged areas of Manila Bay, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the alienation of natural resources other than agricultural lands of the public domain. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public service. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain.

Clearly, the Amended JVA violates glaringly Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Under Article 1409 of the Civil Code, contracts whose "object or purpose is contrary to law," or whose "object is outside the commerce of men," are "inexistent and void from the beginning." The Court must perform its duty to defend and uphold the Constitution, and therefore declares the Amended JVA null and void ab initio.

Amari seeks the inhibition of Justice Antonio T. Carpio, ponente of the Decision, on the ground that Justice Carpio, before his appointment to the Court, wrote in his Manila Times column of July 1, 1997, "I have always maintained that the law requires the public bidding of reclamation projects." Justice Carpio, then a private law practitioner, also stated in the same column, "The Amari-PEA reclamation contract is legally flawed because it was not bid out by the PEA." Amari claims that because of these statements Justice Carpio should inhibit himself "on the grounds of bias and prejudgment" and that the instant case should be "re-deliberated" after being assigned to a new ponente.

The motion to inhibit Justice Carpio must be denied for three reasons. First, the motion to inhibit came after Justice Carpio had already rendered his opinion on the merits of the case. The rule is that a motion to inhibit must be denied if filed after a member of the Court had already given an opinion on the merits of the case,[1] the rationale being that "a litigant cannot be permitted to speculate upon the action of the Court xxx (only to) raise an objection of this sort after a decision has been rendered." Second, as can be readily gleaned from the summary of the Decision quoted above, the absence of public bidding is not one of the ratio decidendi of the Decision which is anchored on violation of specific provisions of the Constitution. The absence of public bidding was not raised as an issue by the parties. The absence of public bidding was mentioned in the Decision only to complete the discussion on the law affecting reclamation contracts for the guidance of public officials. At any rate, the Office of the Solicitor General in its Motion for Reconsideration concedes that the absence of public bidding in the disposition of the Freedom Islands rendered the Amended JVA null and void.[2] Third, judges and justices are not disqualified from participating in a case just because they have written legal articles on the law involved in the case. As stated by the Court in Republic v. Cocofed,[3] —

The mere fact that, as a former columnist, Justice Carpio has written on the coconut levy will not disqualify him, in the same manner that jurists will not be disqualified just because they may have given their opinions as textbook writers on the question involved in a case.

Besides, the subject and title of the column in question was "The CCP reclamation project" and the column referred to the Amari-PEA contract only in passing in one sentence.

Amari's motion to set the case for oral argument must also be denied since the pleadings of the parties have discussed exhaustively the issues involved in the case.

The motions for reconsideration reiterate mainly the arguments already discussed in the Decision. We shall consider in this Resolution only the new arguments raised by respondents.

In its Supplement to Motion for Reconsideration, Amari argues that the Decision should be made to apply prospectively, not retroactively to cover the Amended JVA. Amari argues that the existence of a statute or executive order prior to its being adjudged void is an operative fact to which legal consequences are attached, citing De Agbayani v. PNB,[4] thus:

x x x. It does not admit of doubt that prior to the declaration of nullity such challenged legislative or executive act must have been in force and had to be complied with. This is so as until after the judiciary, in an appropriate case, declares its invalidity, it is entitled to obedience and respect. Parties may have acted under it and may have changed their positions. What could be more fitting than that in a subsequent litigation regard be had to what has been done while such legislative or executive act was in operation and presumed to be valid in all respects. It is now accepted as a doctrine that prior to its being nullified, its existence as a fact must be reckoned with. This is merely to reflect awareness that precisely because the judiciary is the governmental organ which has the final say on whether or not a legislative or executive measure is valid, a period of time may have elapsed before it can exercise the power of judicial review that may lead to a declaration of nullity. It would be to deprive the law of its quality of fairness and justice then, if there be no recognition of what had transpired prior to such adjudication.

In the language of an American Supreme Court decision: "The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination [of unconstitutionality], is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects, — with respect to particular relations, individual and corporate, and particular conduct, private and official." This language has been quoted with approval in a resolution in Araneta v. Hill and the decision in Manila Motor Co., Inc. v. Flores. x x x.

x x x

x x x That before the decision they were not constitutionally infirm was admitted expressly. There is all the more reason then to yield assent to the now prevailing principle that the existence of a statute or executive order prior to its being adjudged void is an operative fact to which legal consequences are attached.

Amari now claims that "assuming arguendo that Presidential Decree Nos. 1084 and 1085, and Executive Order Nos. 525 and 654 are inconsistent with the 1987 Constitution, the limitation imposed by the Decision on these decrees and executive orders should only be applied prospectively from the finality of the Decision."

Amari likewise asserts that a new doctrine of the Court cannot operate retroactively if it impairs vested rights. Amari maintains that the new doctrine embodied in the Decision cannot apply retroactively on those who relied on the old doctrine in good faith, citing Spouses Benzonan v. Court of Appeals,[5] thus:

At that time, the prevailing jurisprudence interpreting section 119 of R.A. 141 as amended was that enunciated in Monge and Tupas cited above. The petitioners Benzonan and respondent Pe and the DBP are bound by these decisions for pursuant to Article 8 of the Civil Code "judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines." But while our decisions form part of the law of the land, they are also subject to Article 4 of the Civil Code which provides that "laws shall have no retroactive effect unless the contrary is provided." This is expressed in the familiar legal maxim lex prospicit, non respicit, the law looks forward not backward. The rationale against retroactivity is easy to perceive. The retroactive application of a law usually divests rights that have already become vested or impairs the obligations of contract and hence, is unconstitutional (Francisco v. Certeza, 3 SCRA 565 [1961]).

The same consideration underlies our rulings giving only prospective effect to decisions enunciating new doctrines. Thus, we emphasized in People v. Jabinal, 55 SCRA 607 [1974] "x x x when a doctrine of this Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, the new doctrine should be applied prospectively and should not apply to parties who had relied on the old doctrine and acted on the faith thereof.

There may be special cases where weighty considerations of equity and social justice will warrant a retroactive application of doctrine to temper the harshness of statutory law as it applies to poor farmers or their widows and orphans. In the present petitions, however, we find no such equitable considerations. Not only did the private respondent apply for free agricultural land when he did not need it and he had no intentions of applying it to the noble purposes behind the law, he would now repurchase for only P327,995.00, the property purchased by the petitioners in good faith for P1,650,000.00 in 1979 and which, because of improvements and the appreciating value of land must be worth more than that amount now.

The buyers in good faith from DBP had a right to rely on our rulings in Monge and Tupas when they purchased the property from DBP in 1979 or thirteen (13) years ago. Under the rulings in these two cases, the period to repurchase the disputed lot given to respondent Pe expired on June 18, 1982. He failed to exercise his right. His lost right cannot be revived by relying on the 1988 case of Belisario. The right of petitioners over the subject lot had already become vested as of that time and cannot be impaired by the retroactive application of the Belisario ruling.

Amari's reliance on De Agbayani and Spouses Benzonan is misplaced. These cases would apply if the prevailing law or doctrine at the time of the signing of the Amended JVA was that a private corporation could acquire alienable lands of the public domain, and the Decision annulled the law or reversed this doctrine. Obviously, this is not the case here.

Under the 1935 Constitution, private corporations were allowed to acquire alienable lands of the public domain. But since the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution, private corporations were banned from holding, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. The 1987 Constitution continued this constitutional prohibition. The prevailing law before, during and after the signing of the Amended JVA is that private corporations cannot hold, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. The Decision has not annulled or in any way changed the law on this matter. The Decision, whether made retroactive or not, does not change the law since the Decision merely reiterates the law that prevailed since the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution. Thus, De Agbayani, which refers to a law that is invalidated by a decision of the Court, has no application to the instant case.

Likewise, Spouses Benzonan is inapplicable because it refers to a doctrine of the Court that is overruled by a subsequent decision which adopts a new doctrine. In the instant case, there is no previous doctrine that is overruled by the Decision. Since the case of Manila Electric Company v. Judge Castro-Bartolome,[6] decided on June 29, 1982, the Court has applied consistently the constitutional provision that private corporations cannot hold, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. The Court reiterated this in numerous cases, and the only dispute in the application of this constitutional provision is whether the land in question had already become private property before the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution.[7] If the land was already private land before the 1973 Constitution because the corporation had possessed it openly, continuously, exclusively and adversely for at least thirty years since June 12, 1945 or earlier, then the corporation could apply for judicial confirmation of its imperfect title. But if the land remained public land upon the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution, then the corporation could never hold, except by lease, such public land. Indisputably, the Decision does not overrule any previous doctrine of the Court.

The prevailing doctrine before, during and after the signing of the Amended JVA is that private corporations cannot hold, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. This is one of the two main reasons why the Decision annulled the Amended JVA. The other main reason is that submerged areas of Manila Bay, being part of the sea, are inalienable and beyond the commerce of man, a doctrine that has remained immutable since the Spanish Law on Waters of 1886. Clearly, the Decision merely reiterates, and does not overrule, any existing judicial doctrine.

Even on the characterization of foreshore lands reclaimed by the government, the Decision does not overrule existing law or doctrine. Since the adoption of the Regalian doctrine in this jurisdiction, the sea and its foreshore areas have always been part of the public domain. And since the enactment of Act No. 1654 on May 18, 1907 until the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution, statutory law never allowed foreshore lands reclaimed by the government to be sold to private corporations. The 1973 and 1987 Constitution enshrined and expanded the ban to include any alienable land of the public domain.

There are, of course, decisions of the Court which, while recognizing a violation of the law or Constitution, hold that the sale or transfer of the land may no longer be invalidated because of "weighty considerations of equity and social justice."[8] The invalidation of the sale or transfer may also be superfluous if the purpose of the statutory or constitutional ban has been achieved. But none of these cases apply to Amari.

Thus, the Court has ruled consistently that where a Filipino citizen sells land to an alien who later sells the land to a Filipino, the invalidity of the first transfer is corrected by the subsequent sale to a citizen.[9] Similarly, where the alien who buys the land subsequently acquires Philippine citizenship, the sale is validated since the purpose of the constitutional ban to limit land ownership to Filipinos has been achieved.[10] In short, the law disregards the constitutional disqualification of the buyer to hold land if the land is subsequently transferred to a qualified party, or the buyer himself becomes a qualified party. In the instant case, however, Amari has not transferred the Freedom Islands, or any portion of it, to any qualified party. In fact, Amari admits that title to the Freedom Islands still remains with PEA.[11]

The Court has also ruled consistently that a sale or transfer of the land may no longer be questioned under the principle of res judicata, provided the requisites for res judicata are present.[12] Under this principle, the courts and the parties are bound by a prior final decision, otherwise there will be no end to litigation. As the Court declared in Toledo-Banaga v. Court of Appeals,[13] "once a judgement has become final and executory, it can no longer be disturbed no matter how erroneous it may be." In the instant case, there is no prior final decision adjudicating the Freedom Islands to Amari.

There are, moreover, special circumstances that disqualify Amari from invoking equity principles. Amari cannot claim good faith because even before Amari signed the Amended JVA on March 30, 1999, petitioner had already filed the instant case on April 27, 1998 questioning precisely the qualification of Amari to acquire the Freedom Islands. Even before the filing of this petition, two Senate Committees[14] had already approved on September 16, 1997 Senate Committee Report No. 560. This Report concluded, after a well-publicized investigation into PEA's sale of the Freedom Islands to Amari, that the Freedom Islands are inalienable lands of the public domain. Thus, Amari signed the Amended JVA knowing and assuming all the attendant risks, including the annulment of the Amended JVA.

Amari has also not paid to PEA the full reimbursement cost incurred by PEA in reclaiming the Freedom Islands. Amari states that it has paid PEA only P300,000,000.00[15] out of the P1,894,129,200.00 total reimbursement cost agreed upon in the Amended JVA. Moreover, Amari does not claim to have even initiated the reclamation of the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas covered in the Amended JVA, or to have started to construct any permanent infrastructure on the Freedom Islands. In short, Amari does not claim to have introduced any physical improvement or development on the reclamation project that is the subject of the Amended JVA. And yet Amari claims that it had already spent a "whopping P9,876,108,638.00" as its total development cost as of June 30, 2002.[16] Amari does not explain how it spent the rest of the P9,876,108,638.00 total project cost after paying PEA P300,000,000.00. Certainly, Amari cannot claim to be an innocent purchaser in good faith and for value.

In its Supplement to Motion for Reconsideration, PEA claims that it is "similarly situated" as the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) which under R.A. No. 7227 is tasked to sell portions of the Metro Manila military camps and other military reservations. PEA's comparison is incorrect. The Decision states as follows:

As the central implementing agency tasked to undertake reclamation projects nationwide, with authority to sell reclaimed lands, PEA took the place of DENR as the government agency charged with leasing or selling reclaimed lands of the public domain. The reclaimed lands being leased or sold by PEA are not private lands, in the same manner that DENR, when it disposes of other alienable lands, does not dispose of private lands but alienable lands of the public domain. Only when qualified private parties acquire these lands will the lands become private lands. In the hands of the government agency tasked and authorized to dispose of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, these lands are still public, not private lands.

PEA is the central implementing agency tasked to undertake reclamation projects nationwide. PEA took the place of Department of Environment and Natural Resources ("DENR" for brevity) as the government agency charged with leasing or selling all reclaimed lands of the public domain. In the hands of PEA, which took over the leasing and selling functions of DENR, reclaimed foreshore lands are public lands in the same manner that these same lands would have been public lands in the hands of DENR. BCDA is an entirely different government entity. BCDA is authorized by law to sell specific government lands that have long been declared by presidential proclamations as military reservations for use by the different services of the armed forces under the Department of National Defense. BCDA's mandate is specific and limited in area, while PEA's mandate is general and national. BCDA holds government lands that have been granted to end-user government entities — the military services of the armed forces. In contrast, under Executive Order No. 525, PEA holds the reclaimed public lands, not as an end-user entity, but as the government agency "primarily responsible fo integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government."

In Laurel v. Garcia,[17] cited in the Decision, the Court ruled that land devoted to public use by the Department of Foreign Affairs, when no longer needed for public use, may be declared patrimonial property for sale to private parties provided there is a law authorizing such act. Well-settled is the doctrine that public land granted to an end-user government agency for a specific public use may subsequently be withdrawn by Congress from public use and declared patrimonial property to be sold to private parties. R.A. No. 7227 creating the BCDA is a law that declares specific military reservations no longer needed for defense or military purposes and reclassifies such lands as patrimonial property for sale to private parties.

Government owned lands, as long they are patrimonial property, can be sold to private parties, whether Filipino citizens or qualified private corporations. Thus, the so-called Friar Lands acquired by the government under Act No. 1120 are patrimonial property[18] which even private corporations can acquire by purchase. Likewise, reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain if sold or transferred to a public or municipal corporation for a monetary consideration become patrimonial property in the hands of the public or municipal corporation. Once converted to patrimonial property, the land may be sold by the public or municipal corporation to private parties, whether Filipino citizens or qualified private corporations.

We reiterate what we stated in the Decision is the rationale for treating PEA in the same manner as DENR with respect to reclaimed foreshore lands, thus:

To allow vast areas of reclaimed lands of the public domain to be transferred to PEA as private lands will sanction a gross violation of the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. PEA will simply turn around, as PEA has now done under the Amended JVA, and transfer several hundreds of hectares of these reclaimed and still to be reclaimed lands to a single private corporation in only one transaction. This scheme will effectively nullify the constitutional ban in Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which was intended to diffuse equitably the ownership of alienable lands of the public domain among Filipinos, now numbering over 80 million strong.

This scheme, if allowed, can even be applied to alienable agricultural lands of the public domain since PEA can "acquire x x x any and all kinds of lands." This will open the floodgates to corporations and even individuals acquiring hundreds, if not thousands, of hectares of alienable lands of the public domain under the guise that in the hands of PEA these lands are private lands. This will result in corporations amassing huge landholdings never before seen in this country — creating the very evil that the constitutional ban was designed to prevent. This will completely reverse the clear direction of constitutional development in this country. The 1935 Constitution allowed private corporations to acquire not more than 1,024 hectares of public lands. The 1973 Constitution prohibited private corporations from acquiring any kind of public land, and the 1987 Constitution has unequivocally reiterated this prohibition.

Finally, the Office of the Solicitor General and PEA argue that the cost of reclaiming deeply submerged areas is "enormous" and "it would be difficult for PEA to accomplish such project without the participation of private corporations."[19] The Decision does not bar private corporations from participating in reclamation projects and being paid for their services in reclaiming lands. What the Decision prohibits, following the explicit constitutional mandate, is for private corporations to acquire reclaimed lands of the public domain. There is no prohibition on the directors, officers and stockholders of private corporations, if they are Filipino citizens, from acquiring at public auction reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain. They can acquire not more than 12 hectares per individual, and the land thus acquired becomes private land.

Despite the nullity of the Amended JVA, Amari is not precluded from recovering from PEA in the proper proceedings, on a quantum meruit basis, hatever Amari may have incurred in implementing the Amended JVA prior to its declaration of nullity.

[ G. R. No. 133250, May 06, 2003 ]
FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, PETITIONER, VS. PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY AND AMARI COASTAL BAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, RESPONDENTS.
Subject of the controversy is Resolution No. 93-032[2] issued by petitioner National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), through its Chairman, petitioner Rafael Alunan III and its four Commissioners, Guillermo P. Enriquez, Jr., Edgar Dula Torre, Federico S. Comandante and Alexis Canonizado. The Resolution provides, as follows –

"NOW THEREFORE, the Commission, in the exercise of its power to administer and control the PNP under Sec. 6, Art. XVI, of the Constitution, in relation with (sic) Sec. 14, R.A. No. 6975, has resolved, as it hereby resolves, to issue the following clarificatory guidelines regarding the application of Board of Officers Resolution No. 5, dated 2 January 1992, as amended by Resolution No. 10, dated June 19, 1992:

1. That CIS Agents, including the NAPOLCOM operatives, who opted to be absorbed as non-uniformed personnel of the PNP and who were appointed to plantilla positions thereof, shall be considered as civilian personnel of the PNP and covered by existing civil service laws, rules and regulations affecting government employees in general;

2. That not being a part of the uniformed personnel of the PNP, such CIS Agents and NAPOLCOM operatives are not empowered to exercise the powers of peace officers vested by law to the PNP; such as (a) enforcement of laws; (b) effecting arrest, search and seizures; and (c) investigation of the commission of crimes and offenses;

3. That as civilian personnel of the PNP, they shall be utilized mainly in purely administrative, technical, monitoring or research work;

4. That the assignment of equivalent ranks to the aforementioned PNP non-uniformed personnel should not be construed as an investiture of any command authority over the lower level PNP uniformed personnel."[3]

This Resolution became the subject of a Prohibition and Mandamus suit filed with respondent court by private respondents in their capacity as agents and regular employees of the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS).[4] Private respondents complained that the Resolution violates provisions of R.A. No. 6975, creating the Philippine National Police (PNP) and R.A. No. 5750, the law governing CIS agents. According to private respondents, R.A. No. 5750, which granted CIS agents, including civilian operatives, police powers, has not been repealed by R.A. No. 6975, such that the CIS agents absorbed into the PNP, including civilian operatives, still enjoy the police powers granted to them by R.A. No. 5750.

x x x
It is not disputed that the questioned Resolution strips members of the CIS with police power and instead, classifies them as civilian personnel of the PNP. This does not hold true for all former members of the CIS, but only applies to those who opted to be absorbed as non-uniformed personnel of the PNP.

Does this violate R.A. No. 6975? We find that it does not.

Urged by the Constitutional mandate for the establishment and maintenance of one police force,[8] R.A. No. 6975 was promulgated creating the Philippine National Police. The new police force absorbed the members of the former National Police Commission, Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police, all three of which were accordingly abolished.[9]

R.A. No. 6975, therefore, had the effect of revising the whole police force system and substituting a new unified one in its place. This, alone, proves that R.A. No. 5750 has already been repealed because a subsequent statute revising the whole subject matter of a former statute, and evidently intended as a substitute for it, operates to repeal the earlier statute. The revising statute is in effect a legislative declaration that whatever is embraced in the new statute shall prevail, and whatever is excluded therefrom is discarded.[10]

Further, with the abolition of the Philippine Constabulary, including, necessarily, its Criminal Investigation Service (CIS), R.A. No. 5750, which provides for the qualifications, selection and appointment of civilian investigation agents of the CIS as well as their powers as peace officers, has been rendered inutile. Indeed, considering that CIS members have been absorbed by the new PNP, R.A. No. 5750 has lost its function.

Not only has R.A. No. 5750 lost its raison d’etre by reason of the abolition of the CIS which is its sole subject matter. A point by point analysis of the law itself will readily show that it has, indeed, been superseded by R.A. No. 6975, the PNP law.

To start off, Section 30 of R.A. No. 6975 lists down the qualifications for appointment to the PNP, thus superseding Section 1 of R.A. No. 5750. Then, too, the position of Deputy Chief as provided for under Section 2 no longer exists inasmuch as the head of the equivalent Criminal Investigation Unit is now, under Section 35(b)(4), a Director with the rank of chief superintendent. Neither is the period within which to comply with qualification requirements provided for under Section 4 of R.A. No. 5750, still available under the PNP law, which only concedes alternative requirements insofar as educational requirements are concerned for those already in the service upon its effectivity. Finally, the police powers provided for under Section 5, as well as the oath and subpoena powers under Section 6, of R.A. No. 5750 are also provided for under Section 24 of R.A. No. 6975.

In light of the foregoing, it stands clear that respondent court was in error in holding that "(W)ithout an express provision in the PNP Law which states clearly and explicitly that RA 5750 has been modified or repealed, such repeal or modification cannot be assumed."

At any rate, it is beyond dispute that the police powers provided for under R.A. No. 5750 are also provided for under the PNP law. The issue lies in the question as to who can exercise such police powers. We must stress that the questioned Resolution does not strip all former CIS agents of police powers. As clarified above, only those who opted not to join the uniformed personnel of the PNP are effectively denied such powers.

In effect, therefore, what is being introduced by the questioned Resolution is the concept that CIS civilian operatives may no longer, under the PNP structure, enjoy police powers. As stated in the questioned Resolution, "R.A. No. 6975 envisioned the PNP as a single national police organization, composed entirely of uniformed personnel who are to be appointed to their respective police ranks, governed by one set of standards and covered by its own retirement and disciplinary systems." Accordingly, police powers have been reserved for such uniformed personnel of the PNP.

That it is futile for private respondents to insist that they have a vested right to such powers may be demonstrated. Section 88 of R.A. No. 6975 provides, as follows –

"SEC. 88. Transfer, Merger and Absorption of Offices and Personnel. - All properties, equipment and finances of the transferred and absorbed agencies, including their respective financial accountabilities, are hereby transferred to the Department.

The transfer, merger and/or absorption of any government office/unit concerned shall include the functions, appropriations, funds, records, equipment, facilities, choses in action, rights, other assets and liabilities, if any, of the transferred office/unit as well as the personnel thereof, who shall, unless removed for cause and after due process, in a holdover capacity, continue to perform their respective duties and responsibilities and receive their corresponding salaries and benefits. Those personnel of the transferred, merged and/or absorbed office/unit whose positions are not included in the new position structure and staffing pattern approved by the Department or who are not reappointed shall be given preference to join the Department or any of the offices thereunder or shall be allowed to retire under existing laws, rules and regulations. x x x." (underscoring, Ours)

It is clear from the aforequoted provision that the personnel of the absorbed office or unit, such as private respondents, shall continue to perform their respective duties and responsibilities only in a hold-over capacity. This necessarily implies that such duties and responsibilities may very well be modified, changed or completely removed.

[ G.R. No. 115824, January 28, 2000 ]
HON. RAFAEL M. ALUNAN III, NATIONAL POLICE COMMISSION, COMMISSIONERS GUILLERMO P. ENRIQUEZ, JR., EDGAR DULA TORRE, FEDERICO S. COMANDANTE, ALEXIS CANONIZADO, PNP CHIEF SUPTS. ANSELMO AVENIDO, JR., EFREN FERNANDEZ AND RUFINO G. IBAY, PETITIONERS, VS. HON. MAXIMIANO C. ASUNCION, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 104, QUEZON CITY, AND CIS AGENTS AND THE REGULAR EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, INC., RESPONDENTS.

whether the People's Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) has jurisdiction over complaints filed by PNP personnel against their superiors.

Sec. 43 reads, in part:

"Sec. 43. People's Law Enforcement Board (PLEB). - (a) Creation and Functions. – Within thirty (30) days from the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations by the Commission, there shall be created by the sangguniang panglunsod/bayan in every city and municipality such number of People's Law Enforcement Boards (PLEBs) as may be necessary: Provided, That there shall be at least one (1) PLEB for every municipality and for each of the legislative districts in a city. The PLEB shall have jurisdiction to hear and decide citizen's complaints or cases filed before it against erring officers and members of the PNP. There shall be at least one (1) PLEB for every five hundred (500) city or municipal police personnel.

x x x x x x x x x.”

(Underscoring supplied)

Each PLEB is composed of a member of the sangguniang panglunsod/bayan chosen by his respective sanggunian; barangay captain of the city or municipality concerned chosen by the association of barangay captains; and three other members who shall be chosen by the peace and order council from among the respected members of the community known for their probity and integrity. Membership in the PLEB is a civic duty; however PLEB members may be paid per diem as may be determined by the city or municipal council from city or municipal funds.[20]

For emphasis, the abovecited provision of law states that the PLEB has jurisdiction to hear and decide citizen's complaints or cases against erring officers and members of the PNP.

Petitioners, PNP Superintendents Fianza and Cordoviz, are in effect asking us to rule that the complaints against them are not covered by the PLEB's jurisdiction because they cannot be considered as citizen's complaints.

Under Sec. 41 (a) of the PNP's enabling act, a citizen's complaint is "any complaint by an individual person against any member of the PNP." Penalties imposable include withholding of privileges, restriction to specified limits, suspension or forfeiture of salary, any combination thereof or dismissal. When the penalties imposable do not exceed fifteen days, the citizen's complaint should be brought before the Chief of Police; and if for a period not less than sixteen but not exceeding thirty days, before the city or municipal mayors. It is when the offense is punishable by the abovementioned penalties and for a period exceeding thirty days or by dismissal, that the complaint should be brought before the PLEB.

Section 41 paragraph (b) provides:

"(b) Internal Discipline. - In dealing with minor offenses involving internal discipline found to have been committed by any regular member of their respective commands, the duly designated supervisors and equivalent officers of the PNP shall, after due notice and summary hearing, exercise disciplinary powers as follows:

(1) Chiefs of police or equivalent supervisors x x x;

(2) Provincial directors or equivalent supervisors x x x;

(3) Police regional directors or equivalent supervisors x x x;

(4) The Chief of the PNP x x x."

Nowhere in the aforecited provision is the PLEB granted jurisdiction over offenses concerning internal discipline.

Rule II, section 1 of the PLEB Rules defines a citizen's complaint as pertaining to "any complaint initiated by a private citizen or his duly authorized representative on account of an injury, damage or disturbance sustained due to an irregular or illegal act committed by a member of the PNP."

A citizen's complaint, then, is one filed by a private citizen against a member of the PNP for the redress of injury, damage or disturbance caused by the latter's illegal or irregular acts.

Petitioner contends that since the complainants are PNP policemen, they cannot be classified as "private citizens" for purposes of filing a "citizen's complaint." Public respondents disagree and claim that respondent policemen, notwithstanding their uniforms, do not cease to be citizens.

On this point, we rule that although respondent policemen continue to be citizens, as public respondents contend, they are not the "private citizens" referred to in the laws cited above. Clearly, the term "private citizens" does not ordinarily include men in uniform, such as the respondent PNP men. This is particularly evident in the PNP law which uses the term "members of the PNP" as well as "private citizens" to refer to different groups of persons and not interchangeably. The "plain meaning rule" or verba legis in statutory construction is applicable in this situation. When the words of a statute are clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation.[21] The term "private citizen" in the PNP Law and PLEB Rules is used in its common signification and was not meant to refer to the members of the PNP, such as respondent policemen.

One of the avowed objectives of the PLEB is to enhance civilian participation in the disciplinary process of errant PNP members.[22] The PLEB is part of the system of coordination and cooperation among the citizenry, local executives and PNP provided for in the law creating the Philippine National Police.[23]

The citizen's complaint envisioned under Republic Act No. 6975 normally pertains to complaints by private individuals against PNP men and not by PNP men against their co-members or officers in a professional capacity. An example used in the Bicameral Conference Committee hearings is that of a policeman who takes fish from the market without paying for it.[24] Aside from the criminal liability attaching to the act of the policeman cognizable by the courts, the private party prejudiced can sue him before the PLEB.

However, respondent policemen are not absolutely excluded from bringing citizen's complaints with the PLEB. PNP members can file suit as private citizens only when they do so in their private capacity and not as members of the PNP. This means that the complaining PNP personnel can sue on matters of private concern and not on matters properly cognizable by the PNP chain of command. If a policeman complains against another colleague before the PLEB, he can do so when the subject matter of the complaint is one that can similarly be raised by a private individual or citizen.

But if the subject of the complaint bears a direct relation to the office of the complainant-policeman as member of the PNP, it can hardly be considered as a citizen's complaint and is, therefore, neither cognizable nor triable by the PLEB.

This conclusion is ineluctable as the PNP is the proper venue for matters involving its internal organization or discipline. The PNP hierarchy possesses the power and responsibility over its men in these matters. Section 81 of Republic Act No. 6975 reads:

"SEC. 81. Complaints and Grievances. – Uniformed personnel shall have the right to present complaints and grievances to their superiors or commanders and have them heard and adjudicated as expeditiously as possible in the best interest of the service, with due regard to due process in every case. Such complaints or grievances shall be resolved at the lowest possible level in the unit of command and the respondent shall have the right to appeal from an adverse decision to higher authorities."[25]

No better forum for the resolution of internal discipline and administrative matters can be found than the organization (PNP) itself, particularly in the enforcement of its professional code of conduct.

In matters pertaining to their job or office, PNP men are afforded the proper channel for their complaints against colleagues, superiors or commanding officers. The Chief of Police, Provincial Director, Police Regional Director and PNP Chief are the proper conduits for offenses involving internal discipline, such as simple misconduct or negligence, insubordination, frequent absences or tardiness, habitual drunkenness and gambling prohibited by law.[26] Even the PLEB Rules provide that jurisdiction over offenses involving breach of internal discipline (or any offense committed by a member of the PNP involving and affecting order and discipline within the ranks of the police organization) belongs to the duly designated supervisors and equivalent officers of the PNP. The Chiefs of Police, Provincial Directors, Police Regional Directors or their equivalent supervisors and the PNP Chief exercise disciplinary powers for breaches of internal discipline committed by any regular member of their respective commands.[27]

Having dealt with the areas over which the PLEB exercises jurisdiction, the next step is to determine whether the cases at bench fall within the ambit of said jurisdiction.

Respondent policemen in the first petition accuse petitioner Fianza of issuing illegal orders pertaining to transfers of assignment and dropping from the rolls without any formal investigation. They accuse him of issuing these orders in retaliation for their raids on jueteng operations protected by him.

The merits of the case are not disputed in the instant petition. What is at issue is where the case should be adjudicated.

Though the policemen impute ill motives to petitioner for issuing illegal orders, there is no question that the principal and basic issue is the wrongful issuance of such order. In other words, accusations of "coddling" or protecting jueteng operators do not alter the fact that the main dispute refers to the ensuing transfer and dismissal orders issued by respondent policemen's superiors in the PNP.

We pointed out earlier that the Chief of the PNP and his subordinates have the power to transfer and utilize PNP personnel in accordance with their strategy.[28] The issuance of the questioned orders comes within the purview of the abovementioned power. Hence, the propriety or illegality of the orders should be raised before the proper superiors or commanding officers[29] and not before a civilian body like the PLEB. To repeat, nowhere in the law creating the PLEB is this power or function mentioned.[30]

For the foregoing reasons, we rule that the PLEB has no jurisdiction over the complaint lodged against petitioner Fianza by respondent
policemen.


[ G.R. No. 109638, March 31, 1995 ]
PNP SUPT. FLORENCIO D. FIANZA, PETITIONER, VS. THE PLEB (PEOPLE'S LAW ENFORCEMENT BOARD) OF THE CITY OF BAGUIO, THE NATIONAL POLICE COMMISSION (NAPOLCOM), SPO3 FERNANDO TAFALENG, PO3 OCTAVIO PAWINGI, PO2 FERDINAND SEGUNDO, PO3 METODIO AQUINO, PO3 BENJAMIN NAKIGO, PO3 SALVADOR GALISTE, PO3 ROMEO BAUTISTA AND PO3 ALFREDO MATIAS, RESPONDENTS.

SA ACADEMIC FREEDOM ON HIGHER LEARNING, PWEDENG WALAY ATTENDANCE...

Petitioner is the Dean of the College of Education of said university, since January 1994 to the present. He has served the university as faculty member and as administrator for almost 13 years.[2]

Respondent, Dr. Sixto O. Daleon, is a Professor 6 and officer-in-charge of the Graduate School of USP, with a salary grade of CS 29. The other respondents, Agulo, Tecson and Alaba, are faculty members of said university. They enrolled under Dr. Daleon in the subject Ed.D. 317, which is a Seminar in Curriculum Development, during the first semester of 1994-1995. At the end of the semester, Dr. Daleon gave the three final passing grades of 1.0, 1.25 and 1.5, respectively.[3] They were graded without requiring them to attend regular classes. Instead, Dr. Daleon gave them a special program of self-study with reading materials, once a week tutorial meetings, quizzes, and term papers.

Sometime in June 1995, several doctoral students complained to petitioner that during the first semester of school year 1994-1995, there were “ghost students” in the Ed.D. 317 class of Dr. Daleon. According to them, these “ghost students”, namely Agulo, Alaba and Tecson were given passing grades despite their failure to attend classes.[4]

On June 13, 1995, petitioner informed Dr. Daleon of the complaint. Petitioner requested the latter to furnish him with photocopies of exams, term papers, and record of attendance of the students involved. Dr. Daleon ignored the request.[5]

On July 28, 1995, the matter was raised in a university council meeting where it was agreed that the University President, Dr. Edmundo Prantilla, would create a committee to investigate the complaint.

In a letter dated August 10, 1995, Dr. Daleon apologized for the delay in responding to petitioner’s letter-request dated June 15, 1995. Dr. Daleon admitted that he made special arrangements with Agulo, Alaba and Tecson regarding their course without petitioner’s approval.

Thereafter, petitioner wrote Dr. Prantilla recommending that Agulo, Tecson and Alaba be required to attend regular classes in school year 1995-1996 and comply with the course requirements in Ed.D. 317. Dr. Prantilla approved the recommendations. However, on December 1, 1995, Dr. Prantilla entertained the appeal of Agulo for the validation of the grades given by Dr. Daleon to the three of them. On December 23, 1995, the Board of Regents passed its Resolution No. 2432 Series of 1995, upholding the grade given by Dr. Daleon to Agulo.

Consequently, petitioner filed a Complaint-Affidavit against Dr. Daleon before the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao. The complaint for gross incompetence, insubordination and violation of R.A. 6770[6] was docketed as OMB-ADM-3-96-0132.

X X X X

Professor 2 of the College of Education, USP. These affidavits averred that during the graduate school orientation program sometime in July 1995, the university’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Luz D. Ancheta, declared that special arrangements between a professor and a graduate student may be allowed on a case-to-case basis. Dr. Ancheta made this statement in reply to Dr. Daleon’s query on the policy of USP on attendance of graduate school students and whether Dr. Daleon could give grades to students who do not attend classes. In her reply to Dr. Daleon’s query, the VPAA even cited her experience when she pursued her doctoral course at UP Los Baños. According to Dr. Ancheta, she was given a special arrangement by one of her professors. She added that she, too, had allowed the same special arrangement for her students at the USP Graduate School.

Public respondent also anchored his decision on Article 140 of the University Code, which provides that the rules on attendance of students shall be enforced in all classes subject to the modification by the Dean in the case of graduate students and other courses.[16] It is undisputed that at the time that Dr. Daleon handled the graduate class in Ed.D. 317, he had already been duly designated Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Graduate School by the President of USP and was even entitled to the emoluments inherent to the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.[17] Accordingly, as OIC, performing the functions of the Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Daleon had the authority to modify the rule on attendance without seeking permission of petitioner.

Further, Dr. Daleon’s teaching style had the support of the members of the Board of Regents, the body with the authority to formulate university policies, fully knowing the policy on attendance of students in the graduate school. In passing Resolution No. 2432, S. 1995,[18] not only did they validate the grade given by Dr. Daleon to Agulo, but they also gave an imprimatur on the propriety, regularity and acceptability of Dr. Daleon’s instructional approach. In said resolution, the BOR cited Article 155 and Article 3 of the University Code, thus:

The Board upheld the first grading sheet submitted by Dr. S. Daleon in the light of the following provisions of the University Code: (1) Article 155 which states that “no grade shall be changed after the report has been submitted” and (2) Article 3 which states that “Every member of the faculty shall enjoy academic freedom, which is the right of the professor to teach the subject of his specialization according to his best lights… nor shall any restraint be placed upon him in the choice of subjects for research and investigation.”

The Dean must promote unity in his unit and must ensure that the dignity of every professor in his unit is respected.[19]

As held by the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao, the Resolution of the Board of Regents is clearly an exercise of its sound discretion as the final arbiter of issues affecting the internal operations of the university and as interpreter of the policies of the school.[20]

Finally, we agree with respondents’ position on the primacy of academic freedom in regard to higher institutions of learning. Dr. Daleon’s teaching style, validated by the action of the USP Board of Regents, is bolstered by the constitutional guarantee on academic freedom.[21] Academic freedom is two-tiered – that of the academic institution and the teacher’s.

Institutional academic freedom includes the right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims and objectives and the methods on how best to attain them, free from outside coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public welfare calls for some restraint.[22] It encompasses the freedom to determine for itself on academic grounds: who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.”[23] The right of the school to confirm and validate the teaching method of Dr. Daleon is at once apparent in the third freedom, i.e., “how it shall be taught.”

Academic freedom also accords a faculty member the right to pursue his studies in his particular specialty.[24] It is defined as a right claimed by the accredited educator, as teacher and as investigator, to interpret his findings and to communicate his conclusions without being subjected to any interference, molestation, or penalty because these conclusions are unacceptable to some constituted authority within or beyond the institution.[25] As applied to the case at bar, academic freedom clothes Dr. Daleon with the widest latitude to innovate and experiment on the method of teaching which is most fitting to his students (graduate students at that), subject only to the rules and policies of the university. Considering that the Board of Regents, whose task is to lay down school rules and policies of the University of Southeastern Philippines, has validated his teaching style, we see no reason for petitioner to complain before us simply because he holds a contrary opinion on the matter.

In our view, petitioner failed to establish that Dr. Daleon and the Board of Regents of the University of Southeastern Philippines acted in evident bad faith or with manifest partiality in the performance of their official duties. Hence, there is no basis to hold that the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao committed any grave abuse of discretion in exonerating respondents below from both administrative and criminal charges. The resolution of that Office is in order for it accords with the facts and the law.

[ G.R. No. 134372, August 22, 2002 ]
MANUEL CAMACHO, PETITIONER, VS. ATTY. JOVITO A. CORESIS, JR., GRAFT INVESTIGATION OFFICER I AND/OR OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN - MINDANAO, SIXTO O. DALEON, AIDA AGULO, DESIDERIO ALABA, NORMA TECSON, AND THE BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHEASTERN PHILIPPINES; SECRETARY RICARDO GLORIA, ASSISTANT SECRETARY RENO CAPINPIN – OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORTS (DECS), DR. EDMUNDO B. PRANTILLA, AND NEDA REGIONAL DIRECTOR SANTIAGO ENGINCO, RESPONDENTS.
It is true that schools have the power to instill discipline in their students as subsumed in their academic freedom and that “the establishment of rules governing university-student relations, particularly those pertaining to student discipline, may be regarded as vital, not merely to the smooth and efficient operation of the institution, but to its very survival.”[94] This power, however, does not give them the untrammeled discretion to impose a penalty which is not commensurate with the gravity of the misdeed. If the concept of proportionality between the offense committed and the sanction imposed is not followed, an element of arbitrariness intrudes. That would give rise to a due process question.[95]

We agree with respondent CHED that under the circumstances, the penalty of expulsion is grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the acts committed by private respondents Bungubung, Reverente, and Valdes, Jr. Each of the two mauling incidents lasted only for few seconds and the victims did not suffer any serious injury. Disciplinary measures especially where they involve suspension, dismissal or expulsion, cut significantly into the future of a student. They attach to him for life and become a mortgage of his future, hardly redeemable in certain cases. Officials of colleges and universities must be anxious to protect it, conscious of the fact that, appropriately construed, a disciplinary action should be treated as an educational tool rather than a punitive measure.[96]

[ G.R. No. 127980, December 19, 2007 ]
DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY, INC., EMMANUEL SALES, RONALD HOLMES, JUDE DELA TORRE, AMPARO RIO, CARMELITA QUEBENGCO, AGNES YUHICO AND JAMES YAP, PETITIONERS, VS. THE COURT OF APPEALS, HON. WILFREDO D. REYES, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH 36, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, THE COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CULTURE AND SPORTS, ALVIN AGUILAR, JAMES PAUL BUNGUBUNG, RICHARD REVERENTE AND ROBERTO VALDES, JR., RESPONDENTS.
As part of its academic freedom, the University of the Philippines has the prerogative to determine who may teach its students. The Civil Service Commission has no authority to force it to dismiss a member of its faculty even in the guise of enforcing Civil Service Rules.

[ G.R. No. 132860, April 03, 2001 ]
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES AND ALFREDO DE TORRES, PETITIONERS, VS. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, RESPONDENT.

concurrent jurisdiction of the BOR and CSC

In University of the Philippines v. Regino,[38] this Court struck down the claim of exclusive jurisdiction of the UP BOR to discipline its employees. The Court held then:

The Civil Service Law (PD 807) expressly vests in the Commission appellate jurisdiction in administrative disciplinary cases involving members of the Civil Service. Section 9(j) mandates that the Commission shall have the power to "hear and decide administrative disciplinary cases instituted directly with it in accordance with Section 37 or brought to it on appeal." And Section 37(a) provides that, "The Commission shall decide upon appeal all administrative disciplinary cases involving the imposition of a penalty of suspension for more than thirty (30) days, or fine in an amount exceeding thirty days' salary, demotion in rank or salary or transfer, removal or dismissal from office." (Emphasis supplied)

Under the 1972 Constitution, all government-owned or controlled corporations, regardless of the manner of their creation, were considered part of the Civil Service. Under the 1987 Constitution, only government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters fall within the scope of the Civil Service pursuant to Article IX-B, Section 2(1), which states:

"The Civil Service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters."

As a mere government-owned or controlled corporation, UP was clearly a part of the Civil Service under the 1973 Constitution and now continues to be so because it was created by a special law and has an original charter. As a component of the Civil Service, UP is therefore governed by PD 807 and administrative cases involving the discipline of its employees come under the appellate jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission.[39] (Emphasis supplied)

In the more recent case of Camacho v. Gloria,[40] this Court lent credence to the concurrent jurisdiction of the CSC when it affirmed that a case against a university official may be filed either with the university's BOR or directly with the CSC. We quote:

Further, petitioner contends that the creation of the committee by the respondent Secretary, as Chairman of the USP Board of Regents, was contrary to the Civil Service Rules. However, he cites no specific provision of the Civil Service Law which was violated by the respondents in forming the investigating committee. The Civil Service Rules embodied in Executive Order 292 recognize the power of the Secretary and the university, through its governing board, to investigate and decide matters involving disciplinary action against officers and employees under their jurisdiction. Of course under EO 292, a complaint against a state university official may be filed either with the university's Board of Regents or directly with the Civil Service Commission, although the CSC may delegate the investigation of a complaint and for that purpose, may deputize any department, agency, official or group of officials to conduct such investigation.[41] (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, CSC validly took cognizance of the administrative complaints directly filed before the regional office, concerning violations of civil service rules against respondent.

III. Academic freedom may not be invoked when there are alleged violations of civil service laws and rules.

Certainly, academic institutions and personnel are granted wide latitude of action under the principle of academic freedom. Academic freedom encompasses the freedom to determine who may teach, who may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.[42] Following that doctrine, this Court has recognized that institutions of higher learning has the freedom to decide for itself the best methods to achieve their aims and objectives, free from outside coercion, except when the welfare of the general public so requires.[43] They have the independence to determine who to accept to study in their school and they cannot be compelled by mandamus to enroll a student.[44]

That principle, however, finds no application to the facts of the present case. Contrary to the matters traditionally held to be justified to be within the bounds of academic freedom, the administrative complaints filed against Sojor involve violations of civil service rules. He is facing charges of nepotism, dishonesty, falsification of official documents, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. These are classified as grave offenses under civil service rules, punishable with suspension or even dismissal.[45]

This Court has held that the guaranteed academic freedom does not give an institution the unbridled authority to perform acts without any statutory basis.[46] For that reason, a school official, who is a member of the civil service, may not be permitted to commit violations of civil service rules under the justification that he was free to do so under the principle of academic freedom.

Lastly, We do not agree with respondent's contention that his appointment to the position of president of NORSU, despite the pending administrative cases against him, served as a condonation by the BOR of the alleged acts imputed to him. The doctrine this Court laid down in Salalima v. Guingona, Jr.[47] and Aguinaldo v. Santos[48] are inapplicable to the present circumstances. Respondents in the mentioned cases are elective officials, unlike respondent here who is an appointed official. Indeed, election expresses the sovereign will of the people.[49] Under the principle of vox populi est suprema lex, the re-election of a public official may, indeed, supersede a pending administrative case. The same cannot be said of a re-appointment to a non-career position. There is no sovereign will of the people to speak of when the BOR re-appointed respondent Sojor to the post of university president.

[ G.R. No. 168766, May 22, 2008 ]
THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Petitioner, vs. HENRY A. SOJOR, Respondent.

ON THE GRANTING OF HONORS

Sec. 5 (2), Article XIV of the Constitution provides that “[a]cademic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning.” Academic freedom accords an institution of higher learning the right to decide for itself its aims and objectives and how best to attain them. This constitutional provision is not to be construed in a niggardly manner or in a grudging fashion.[39] Certainly, the wide sphere of autonomy given to universities in the exercise of academic freedom extends to the right to confer academic honors. Thus, exercise of academic freedom grants the University the exclusive discretion to determine to whom among its graduates it shall confer academic recognition, based on its established standards. And the courts may not interfere with such exercise of discretion unless there is a clear showing that the University has arbitrarily and capriciously exercised its judgment. Unlike the UP Board of Regents that has the competence and expertise in granting honors to graduating students of the University, courts do not have the competence to constitute themselves as an Honor’s Committee and substitute their judgment for that of the University officials.

[ G.R. No. 161172, December 13, 2004 ]
NADINE ROSARIO M. MORALES, PETITIONER, VS. THE BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM

At this juncture, it would be meet to recall the essential freedoms subsumed by Justice Felix Frankfurter in the term "academic freedom" cited in the case of Sweezy v. New Hampshire,[37] thus: (1) who may teach; (2) what may be taught; (3) how it shall be taught; and (4) who may be admitted to study.

Socrates, the "first of the great moralists of Greece," proud to claim the title "gadfly of the State," has deservedly earned for himself a respected place in the annals of history as a martyr to the cause of free intellectual inquiry. To Plato, this great teacher of his was the "best, the most sensible, and the most just man of his age." In 399 B.C., he willingly quaffed the goblet of hemlock as punishment for alleged "corruption" of the youth of Athens. He describes in his own words how this charge of "corruption," the forerunner of the concept of academic freedom, came about:

"Young men of the richer classes, who have not much to do, come about me of their own accord: they like to hear the pretenders examined, and they often imitate me, and examine others themselves; there are plenty of persons, as they soon discover, who think that they know something, but really know little or nothing; and then those who are examined by them, instead of being angry with themselves are angry with me. This confounded Socrates, they say; this villainous misleader of youth. And then if somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practice or teach? they do not know, and cannot tell; but in order that they may not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges which are used against all philosophers about teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth, and having no gods, and making the worse appear the better cause; for they do not like to confess that their pretense of knowledge has been detected -- which is the truth; and as they are numerous and ambitious and energetic, and are all in battle array and have persuasive tongues, they have filled your ears with their loud and inveterate calumnies.”[38]

Since Socrates, numberless individuals of the same heroic mold have similarly defied the stifling strictures of authority, whether State, Church, or various interest groups, to be able to give free rein to their ideas. Particularly odious were the insidious and blatant attempts at thought control during the time of the Inquisition until even the Medieval universities, renowned as intellectual centers in Europe, gradually lost their autonomy.

In time, such noble strivings, gathering libertarian encrustations along the way, were gradually crystallized in the cluster of freedoms which awaited the champions and martyrs of the dawning modern age. This was exemplified by the professors of the new German Universities in the 16th and 17th centuries such as the Universities of Leiden (1575), Helmstädt (1574) and Heidelberg (1652). The movement back to freedom of inquiry gained adherents among the exponents of fundamental human rights of the 19th and 20th centuries. "Academic freedom", the term as it evolved to describe the emerging rights related to intellectual liberty, has traditionally been associated with freedom of thought, speech, expression and the press; in other words, with the right of individuals in university communities, such as professors, researchers and administrators, to investigate, pursue, discuss and, in the immortal words of Socrates, "to follow the argument wherever it may lead," free from internal and external interference or pressure.

But obviously, its optimum impact is best realized where the freedom is exercised judiciously and does not degenerate into unbridled license. Early cases on this individual aspect of academic freedom have stressed the need for assuring to such individuals a measure of independence through the guarantees of autonomy and security of tenure. The components of this aspect of academic freedom have been categorized under the areas of: (1) who may teach and (2) how to teach.

It is to be realized that this individual aspect of academic freedom could have developed only pari passu with its institutional counterpart. As corporate entities, educational institutions of higher learning are inherently endowed with the right to establish their policies, academic and otherwise, unhampered by external controls or pressure. In the Frankfurter formulation, this is articulated in the areas of: (1) what shall be taught, e.g., the curriculum and (2) who may be admitted to study.

In the Philippines, the Acts which were passed with the change of sovereignty from the Spanish to the American government, namely, the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 made no mention of the rights now subsumed under the catch-all term of "academic freedom." This is most especially true with respect to the institutional aspect of the term. It had to await the drafting of the Philippine Constitutions to be recognized as deserving of legal protection.

The breakthrough for the concept itself was found in Section 5 of the 1935 Constitution which stated: "Universities established by the State shall enjoy academic freedom." The only State university at that time, being the University of the Philippines, the Charter was perceived by some as exhibiting rank favoritism for the said institution at the expense of the rest.

In an attempt to broaden the coverage of the provision, the 1973 Constitution provided in its Section 8 (2): "All institutions of higher learning shall enjoy academic freedom." In his interpretation of the provision, former U.P. President Vicente G. Sinco, who was also a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, declared that it "definitely grants the right of academic freedom to the University as an institution as distinguished from the academic freedom of a university professor.”[39]

Has the right been carried over to the present Constitution? In an attempt to give an explicit definition with an expanded coverage, the Commissioners of the Constitutional Commission of 1986 came up with this formulation: "Academic freedom shall be enjoyed by students, by teachers, and by researchers." After protracted debate and ringing speeches, the final version which was none too different from the way it was couched in the previous two (2) Constitutions, as found in Article XIV, Section 5 (2) states: "Academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning." In anticipation of the question as to whether and what aspects of academic freedom are included herein, ConCom Commissioner Adolfo S. Azcuna explained: "Since academic freedom is a dynamic concept, we want to expand the frontiers of freedom, especially in education, therefore, we shall leave it to the courts to develop further the parameters of academic freedom."[40]

More to the point, Commissioner Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon asked: "When we speak of the sentence 'academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning,' do we mean that academic freedom shall be enjoyed by the institution itself?" Azcuna replied: "Not only that, it also includes . . ." Gascon finished off the broken thought, - "the faculty and the students." Azcuna replied: "Yes."

Since Garcia v. Loyola School of Theology,[41] we have consistently upheld the salutary proposition that admission to an institution of higher learning is discretionary upon a school, the same being a privilege on the part of the student rather than a right. While under the Education Act of 1982, students have a right "to freely choose their field of study, subject to existing curricula and to continue their course therein up to graduation," such right is subject, as all rights are, to the established academic and disciplinary standards laid down by the academic institution.[42]

"For private schools have the right to establish reasonable rules and regulations for the admission, discipline and promotion of students. This right . . . extends as well to parents . . . as parents are under a social and moral (if not legal) obligation, individually and collectively, to assist and cooperate with the schools."[43]

Such rules are "incident to the very object of incorporation and indispensable to the successful management of the college. The rules may include those governing student discipline.”[44] Going a step further, the establishment of rules governing university-student relations, particularly those pertaining to student discipline, may be regarded as vital, not merely to the smooth and efficient operation of the institution, but to its very survival.

Within memory of the current generation is the eruption of militancy in the academic groves as collectively, the students demanded and plucked for themselves from the panoply of academic freedom their own rights encapsulized under the rubric of "right to education" forgetting that, in Hohfeldian terms, they have a concomitant duty, and that is, their duty to learn under the rules laid down by the school.

Considering that respondent students are proud to claim as their own a Christian school that includes Theology as part of its curriculum and assiduously strives to turn out individuals of unimpeachable morals and integrity in the mold of the founder of the order of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and their God-fearing forbears, their barbaric and ruthless acts are the more reprehensible. It must be borne in mind that universities are established, not merely to develop the intellect and skills of the studentry, but to inculcate lofty values, ideals and attitudes; nay, the development, or flowering if you will, of the total man.

In essence, education must ultimately be religious - not in the sense that the founders or charter members of the institution are sectarian or profess a religious ideology. Rather, a religious education, as the renowned philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said, is "an education which inculcates duty and reverence.”[45] It appears that the particular brand of religious education offered by the Ateneo de Manila University has been lost on the respondent students.

Certainly, they do not deserve to claim such a venerable institution as the Ateneo de Manila University as their own a minute longer, for they may foreseeably cast a malevolent influence on the students currently enrolled, as well as those who come after them.

Quite applicable to this case is our pronouncement in Yap Chin Fah v. Court of Appeals that: "The maintenance of a morally conducive and orderly educational environment will be seriously imperiled if, under the circumstances of this case, Grace Christian is forced to admit petitioner's children and to reintegrate them to the student body."[46] Thus, the decision of petitioner university to expel them is but congruent with the gravity of their misdeeds. That there must be such a congruence between the offense committed and the sanction imposed was stressed in Malabanan v. Ramento.[47]

Having carefully reviewed the records and the procedure followed by petitioner university, we see no reason to reverse its decision founded on the following undisputed facts: that on February 8, 9 and 10, 1991, the Aquila Legis Fraternity conducted hazing activities; that respondent students were present at the hazing as auxiliaries, and that as a result of the hazing, Leonardo Villa died from serious physical injuries, while Bienvenido Marquez was hospitalized. In light of the vicious acts of respondent students upon those whom ironically they would claim as "brothers" after the initiation rites, how can we countenance the imposition of such nominal penalties as reprimand or even suspension? We, therefore, affirm petitioners' imposition of the penalty of dismissal upon respondent students. This finds authority and justification in Section 146 of the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools.[48]

[ G.R. No. 99327, May 27, 1993 ]
ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY, FATHER JOAQUIN BERNAS, S.J., DEAN CYNTHIA ROXAS-DEL CASTILLO, JUDGE RUPERTO KAPUNAN, JR., JUSTICE VENICIO ESCOLIN, FISCAL MIGUEL ALBAR, ATTYS. MARCOS HERRAS, FERDINAND CASIS, JOSE CLARO TESORO, RAMON CAGUIOA, AND RAMON ERENETA, PETITIONERS, VS. HON. IGNACIO M. CAPULONG, PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE RTC-MAKATI, BR. 134 ZOSIMO MENDOZA, JR. ERNEST MONTECILLO, ADEL ABAS, JOSEPH LLEDO AMADO SABBAN, DALMACIO LIM, JR., MANUEL ESCALONA AND JUDE FERNANDEZ, RESPONDENTS.
[ G.R. No. 149848, November 25, 2004 ]
ARSADI M. DISOMANGCOP AND RAMIR M. DIMALOTANG, PETITIONERS, VS. THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS SIMEON A. DATUMANONG AND THE SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT EMILIA T. BONCODIN, RESPONDENTS.


The 1987 Constitution mandates regional autonomy to give a bold and unequivocal answer to the cry for a meaningful, effective and forceful autonomy.[42] According to Commissioner Jose Nolledo, Chairman of the Committee which drafted the provisions, it “is an indictment against the status quo of a unitary system that, to my mind, has ineluctably tied the hands of progress in our country . . . our varying regional characteristics are factors to capitalize on to attain national strength through decentralization.”[43]

The idea behind the Constitutional provisions for autonomous regions is to allow the separate development of peoples with distinctive cultures and traditions.[44] These cultures, as a matter of right, must be allowed to flourish.[45]

Autonomy, as a national policy, recognizes the wholeness of the Philippine society in its ethnolinguistic, cultural, and even religious diversities. It strives to free Philippine society of the strain and wastage caused by the assimilationist approach.[46] Policies emanating from the legislature are invariably assimilationist in character despite channels being open for minority representation. As a result, democracy becomes an irony to the minority group.[47]

Several commissioners echoed the pervasive sentiment in the plenary sessions in their own inimitable way. Thus, Commissioner Blas Ople referred to the recognition that the Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras “do not belong to the dominant national community” as the justification for conferring on them a “measure of legal self-sufficiency, meaning self-government, so that they will flourish politically, economically and culturally,” with the hope that after achieving parity with the rest of the country they would “give up their own autonomous region in favor of joining the national mainstream.”[48] For his part, the Muslim delegate, Commissioner Ahmad Alonto, spoke of the diversity of cultures as the framework for nation-building.[49] Finally, excerpts of the poignant plea of Commissioner Ponciano Bennagen deserve to be quoted verbatim:

. . . They see regional autonomy as the answer to their centuries of struggle against oppression and exploitation. For so long, their names and identities have been debased. Their ancestral lands have been ransacked for their treasures, for their wealth. Their cultures have been defiled, their very lives threatened, and worse, extinguished, all in the name of national development; all in the name of public interest; all in the name of common good; all in the name of the right to property; all in the name of Regalian Doctrine; all in the name of national security. These phrases have meant nothing to our indigenous communities, except for the violation of their human rights.

. . .

Honorable Commissioners, we wish to impress upon you the gravity of the decision to be made by every single one of us in this Commission. We have the overwhelming support of the Bangsa Moro and the Cordillera Constitution. By this we mean meaningful and authentic regional autonomy. We propose that we have a separate Article on the autonomous regions for the Bangsa Moro and Cordillera people clearly spelled out in this Constitution, instead of prolonging the agony of their vigil and their struggle. This, too is a plea for national peace. Let us not pass the buck to the Congress to decide on this. Let us not wash our hands of our responsibility to attain national unity and peace and to settle this problem and rectify past injustices, once and for all.[50]

The need for regional autonomy is more pressing in the case of the Filipino Muslims and the Cordillera people who have been fighting for it. Their political struggle highlights their unique cultures and the unresponsiveness of the unitary system to their aspirations.[51] The Moros’ struggle for self-determination dates as far back as the Spanish conquest in the Philippines. Even at present, the struggle goes on.[52]

Perforce, regional autonomy is also a means towards solving existing serious peace and order problems and secessionist movements. Parenthetically, autonomy, decentralization and regionalization, in international law, have become politically acceptable answers to intractable problems of nationalism, separatism, ethnic conflict and threat of secession.[53]

However, the creation of autonomous regions does not signify the establishment of a sovereignty distinct from that of the Republic, as it can be installed only “within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”[54]

Regional autonomy is the degree of self-determination exercised by the local government unit vis-à-vis the central government.

In international law, the right to self-determination need not be understood as a right to political separation, but rather as a complex net of legal-political relations between a certain people and the state authorities. It ensures the right of peoples to the necessary level of autonomy that would guarantee the support of their own cultural identity, the establishment of priorities by the community’s internal decision-making processes and the management of collective matters by themselves.[55]

If self-determination is viewed as an end in itself reflecting a preference for homogeneous, independent nation-states, it is incapable of universal application without massive disruption. However, if self-determination is viewed as a means to an end—that end being a democratic, participatory political and economic system in which the rights of individuals and the identity of minority communities are protected—its continuing validity is more easily perceived.[56]

Regional autonomy refers to the granting of basic internal government powers to the people of a particular area or region with least control and supervision from the central government.[57]

The objective of the autonomy system is to permit determined groups, with a common tradition and shared social-cultural characteristics, to develop freely their ways of life and heritage, exercise their rights, and be in charge of their own business. This is achieved through the establishment of a special governance regime for certain member communities who choose their own authorities from within the community and exercise the jurisdictional authority legally accorded to them to decide internal community affairs.[58]

In the Philippine setting, regional autonomy implies the cultivation of more positive means for national integration. It would remove the wariness among the Muslims, increase their trust in the government and pave the way for the unhampered implementation of the development programs in the region.[59] Again, even a glimpse of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission could lend a sense of the urgency and the inexorable appeal of true decentralization:

MR. OPLE. . . . We are writing a Constitution, of course, for generations to come, not only for the present but for our posterity. There is no harm in recognizing certain vital pragmatic needs for national peace and solidarity, and the writing of this Constitution just happens at a time when it is possible for this Commission to help the cause of peace and reconciliation in Mindanao and the Cordilleras, by taking advantage of a heaven-sent opportunity. . . . [60]

. . .

MR. ABUBAKAR. . . . So in order to foreclose and convince the rest of the of the Philippines that Mindanao autonomy will be granted to them as soon as possible, more or less, to dissuade these armed men from going outside while Mindanao will be under the control of the national government, let us establish an autonomous Mindanao within our effort and capacity to do so within the shortest possible time. This will be an answer to the Misuari clamor, not only for autonomy but for independence.[61]

. . .

MR. OPLE. . . . The reason for this abbreviation of the period for the consideration of the Congress of the organic acts and their passage is that we live in abnormal times. In the case of Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras, we know that we deal with questions of war and peace. These are momentous issues in which the territorial integrity and the solidarity of this country are being put at stake, in a manner of speaking.

We are writing a peace Constitution. We hope that the Article on Social Justice can contribute to a climate of peace so that any civil strife in the countryside can be more quickly and more justly resolved. We are providing for autonomous regions so that we give constitutional permanence to the just demands and grievances of our own fellow countrymen in the Cordilleras and in Mindanao. One hundred thousand lives were lost in that struggle in Mindanao, and to this day, the Cordilleras is being shaken by an armed struggle as well as a peaceful and militant struggle.

. . .

Rather than give opportunity to foreign bodies, no matter how sympathetic to the Philippines, to contribute to the settlement of this issue, I think the Constitutional Commission ought not to forego the opportunity to put the stamp of this Commission through definitive action on the settlement of the problems that have nagged us and our forefathers for so long.[62]

A necessary prerequisite of autonomy is decentralization.[63]

Decentralization is a decision by the central government authorizing its subordinates, whether geographically or functionally defined, to exercise authority in certain areas. It involves decision-making by subnational units. It is typically a delegated power, wherein a larger government chooses to delegate certain authority to more local governments. Federalism implies some measure of decentralization, but unitary systems may also decentralize. Decentralization differs intrinsically from federalism in that the sub-units that have been authorized to act (by delegation) do not possess any claim of right against the central government.[64]


Decentralization comes in two forms—deconcentration and devolution. Deconcentration is administrative in nature; it involves the transfer of functions or the delegation of authority and responsibility from the national office to the regional and local offices. This mode of decentralization is also referred to as administrative decentralization.[65]

Devolution, on the other hand, connotes political decentralization, or the transfer of powers, responsibilities, and resources for the performance of certain functions from the central government to local government units.[66] This is a more liberal form of decentralization since there is an actual transfer of powers and responsibilities.[67] It aims to grant greater autonomy to local government units in cognizance of their right to self-government, to make them self-reliant, and to improve their administrative and technical capabilities.[68]

This Court elucidated the concept of autonomy in Limbona v. Mangelin,[69] thus:

Autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of power. There is decentralization of administration when the central government delegates administrative powers to political subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the process to make local governments “more responsive and accountable,” and “ensure their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social progress.” At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of managing local affairs and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises “general supervision” over them, but only to “ensure that local affairs are administered according to law.” He has no control over their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own.

Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political power in the favor of local government units declared to be autonomous. In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart its own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to “self-immolation,” since in that event the autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its constituency.

In the case, the Court reviewed the expulsion of a member from the Sangguniang Pampook, Autonomous Region. It held that the Court may assume jurisdiction as the local government unit, organized before 1987, enjoys autonomy of the former category. It refused, though, to resolve whether the grant of autonomy to Muslim Mindanao under the 1987 Constitution involves, truly, an effort to decentralize power rather than mere administration.[70]

A year later, in Cordillera Broad Coalition v. Commission on Audit,[71] the Court, with the same composition, ruled without any dissent that the creation of autonomous regions contemplates the grant of political autonomy—an autonomy which is greater than the administrative autonomy granted to local government units. It held that “the constitutional guarantee of local autonomy in the Constitution (Art. X, Sec. 2) refers to administrative autonomy of local government units or, cast in more technical language, the decentralization of government authority…. On the other hand, the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras, which is peculiar to the 1987 Constitution, contemplates the grant of political autonomy and not just administrative autonomy to these regions.”[72]

And by regional autonomy, the framers intended it to mean “meaningful and authentic regional autonomy.”[73] As articulated by a Muslim author, substantial and meaningful autonomy is “the kind of local self-government which allows the people of the region or area the power to determine what is best for their growth and development without undue interference or dictation from the central government.”[74]

To this end, Section 16, Article X[75] limits the power of the President over autonomous regions.[76] In essence, the provision also curtails the power of Congress over autonomous regions.[77] Consequently, Congress will have to re-examine national laws and make sure that they reflect the Constitution’s adherence to local autonomy. And in case of conflicts, the underlying spirit which should guide its resolution is the Constitution’s desire for genuine local autonomy.[78]

The diminution of Congress’ powers over autonomous regions was confirmed in Ganzon v. Court of Appeals,[79] wherein this Court held that “the omission (of “as may be provided by law”) signifies nothing more than to underscore local governments’ autonomy from Congress and to break Congress’ ‘control’ over local government affairs.”

This is true to subjects over which autonomous regions have powers, as specified in Sections 18 and 20, Article X of the 1987 Constitution. Expressly not included therein are powers over certain areas. Worthy of note is that the area of public works is not excluded and neither is it reserved for the National Government. The key provisions read, thus:

SEC. 18. The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal, family and property law jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of the Constitution and national laws.

The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region.

SEC. 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over:

(1)

Administrative organization;
(2)

Creation of sources of revenues;
(3)

Ancestral domain and natural resources;
(4)

Personal, family and property relations;
(5)

Regional urban and rural planning development;
(6)

Economic, social, and tourism development;
(7)

Educational policies;
(8)

Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and
(9)

Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of general welfare of the people of the region. (Emphasis supplied)

E.O. 426 officially devolved the powers and functions of the DPWH in ARMM to the Autonomous Regional Government (ARG). Sections 1 and 2 of E.O. 426 provide:

SECTION 1. Transfer of Control and Supervision. The offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) including their functions, powers and responsibilities, personnel, equipment, properties, budgets and liabilities are hereby placed under the control and supervision of the Autonomous Regional Government.

In particular, these offices are identified as the four (4) District Engineering Offices (DEO) in each of the four provinces respectively and the three (3) Area Equipment Services (AES) located in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Maguindanao (Municipality of Sultan Kudarat).

ON LOCAL AUTONOMY...

[ G.R. No. 131512, January 20, 2000 ]
LAND TRANSPORTATION OFFICE [LTO], REPRESENTED BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MANUEL F. BRUAN, LTO REGIONAL OFFICE, REGION X REPRESENTED BY ITS REGIONAL DIRECTOR, TIMOTEO A. GARCIA; AND LTO BUTUAN REPRESENTED BY ROSITA G. SADIAGA, ITS REGISTRAR, PETITIONERS, VS. CITY OF BUTUAN, REPRESENTED IN THIS CASE BY DEMOCRITO D. PLAZA II, CITY MAYOR, RESPONDENTS.

The 1987 Constitution enunciates the policy that the territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.[1] In obedience to that, mandate of the fundamental law, Republic Act ("R.A.") No.7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code,[2] expresses that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy in order to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals, and that it is a basic aim of the State to provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities and resources.

While the Constitution seeks to strengthen local units and ensure their viability, clearly, however, it has never been the intention of that organic law to create an imperium in imperio and install an intra sovereign political subdivision independent of a single sovereign state.

The Court is asked in this instance to resolve the issue of whether under the present set up the power of the Land Registration Office ("LTO") to register, tricycles in particular, as well as to issue licenses for the driving thereof, has likewise devolved to local government units.

The Regional Trial Court (Branch 2) of Butuan City held:[3] that the authority to register tricycles, the grant of the corresponding franchise, the issuance of tricycle drivers' license, and the collection of fees therefor had all been vested in the Local Government Units ("LGUs"). Accordingly, it decreed the issuance of a permanent writ of injunction against LTO, prohibiting and enjoining LTO, as well as its employees and other persons acting in its behalf, from (a) registering tricycles and (b) issuing licenses to drivers of tricycles. The Court of Appeals, on appeal to it, sustained the trial court.

The adverse rulings of both the court a quo and the appellate court prompted the LTO to file the instant petition for review on certiorari to annul and set aside the decision,[4] dated 17 November 1997, of the Court of Appeals affirming the permanent injunctive writ order of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 2) of Butuan City.

Respondent City of Butuan asserts that one of the salient provisions introduced by the Local Government Code is in the area of local taxation which allows LGUs to collect registration fees or charges along with, in its view, the corresponding issuance of all kinds of licenses or permits for the driving of tricycles.

The 1987 Constitution provides:

"Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees, and charges subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress may provide, consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy. Such taxes, fees, and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local governments."[5]

Section 129 and Section 133 of the Local Government Code read:

"SEC. 129. Power to Create Sources of Revenue. - Each local government unit shall exercise its power to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, fees, and charges subject to the provisions herein, consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy. Such taxes, fees, and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local government units."

"SEC. 133. Common Limitations on the Taxing Powers of Local Government Units. - Unless otherwise provided herein, the exercise of the taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays shall not extend to the levy of the following:

"xxx xxx xxx.

"(I) Taxes, fees or charges for the registration of motor vehicles and for the issuance of all kinds of licenses or permits for the driving thereof, except tricycles."

Relying on the foregoing provisions of the law, the Sangguniang Panglungsod ("SP") of Butuan, on 16 August 1992, passed SP Ordinance No.916-92 entitled "An Ordinance Regulating the Operation of Tricycles-for-Hire, providing mechanism for the issuance of Franchise, Registration and Permit, and Imposing Penalties for Violations thereof and for other Purposes." The ordinance provided for, among other things, the payment of franchise fees for the grant of the franchise of tricycles-for-hire, fees for the registration of the vehicle, and fees for the issuance of a permit for the driving thereof.

Petitioner LTO explains that one of the functions of the national government that, indeed, has been transferred to local government units is the franchising authority over tricycles-for-hire of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board ("LTFRB") but not, it asseverates, the authority of LTO to register all motor vehicles and to issue to qualified persons of licenses to drive such vehicles.

In order to settle the variant positions of the parties, the City of Butuan, represented by its City Mayor Democrito D. Plaza, filed on 28 June 1994 with the trial court a petition for "prohibition, mandamus, injunction with a prayer for preliminary restraining order ex-parte" seeking the declaration of the validity of SP Ordinance No.962-93 and the prohibition of the registration of tricycles-for-hire and the issuance of licenses for the driving thereof by the LTO.

LTO opposed the prayer in the petition.

On 20 March 1995, the trial court rendered a resolution; the dispositive portion read:

"In view of the foregoing, let a permanent injunctive writ be issued against the respondent Land Transportation Office and the other respondents, prohibiting and enjoining them, their employees, officers, attorney's or other persons acting in their behalf from forcing or compelling Tricycles to be registered with, and drivers to secure their licenses from respondent LTO or secure franchise from LTFRB and from collecting fees thereon. It should be understood that the registration, franchise of tricycles and driver's license/permit granted or issued by the City of Butuan are valid only within the territorial limits of Butuan City.

"No pronouncement as to costs."[6]

Petitioners timely moved for a reconsideration of the above resolution but it was to no avail. Petitioners then appealed to the Court of Appeals. In its now assailed decision, the appellate court, on 17 November 1997, sustained the trial court. It ruled:

"WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the questioned permanent injunctive writ issued by the court a quo dated March 20, 1995 AFFIRMED."[7]

Coming up to this Court, petitioners raise this sole assignment of error, to wit:

"The Court of Appeals [has] erred in sustaining the validity of the writ of injunction issued by the trial court which enjoined LTO from (1) registering tricycles-for-hire and (2) issuing licenses for the driving thereof since the Local Government Code devolved only the franchising authority of the LTFRB. Functions of the LTO were not devolved to the LGU's."[8]

The petition is impressed with merit.

The Department of Transportation and Communications[9] ("DOTC"), through the LTO and the LTFRB, has since been tasked with implementing laws pertaining to land transportation. The LTO is a line agency under the DOTC whose powers and functions, pursuant to Article III, Section 4 (d) (1),[10] of R.A. No.4136, otherwise known as Land Transportation and Traffic Code, as amended, deal primarily with the registration of all motor vehicles and the licensing of drivers thereof. The LTFRB, upon the other hand, is the governing body tasked by E.O. No. 202, dated 19 June 1987, to regulate the operation of public utility or "for hire" vehicles and to grant franchises or certificates of public convenience ("CPC").[11] Finely put, registration and licensing functions are vested in the LTO while franchising and regulatory responsibilities had been vested in the LTFRB.

Under the Local Government Code, certain functions of the DOTC were transferred to the LGUs, thusly:

"SEC. 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. -

"xxx xxx xxx

"(3) Subject to the provisions of Book II of this Code, enact ordinances granting franchises and authorizing the issuance of permits or licenses, upon such conditions and for such purposes intended to promote the general welfare of the inhabitants of the city and pursuant to this legislative authority shall:

"xxx xxx xxx.

"(VI) Subject to the guidelines prescribed by the Department of Transportation and Communications, regulate the operation of tricycles and grant franchises for the operation thereof within the territorial jurisdiction of the city." (Emphasis supplied)

LGUs indubitably now have the power to regulate the operation of tricycles-for-hire and to grant franchises for the operation thereof. "To regulate" means to fix, establish, or control; to adjust by rule, method, or established mode; to direct by rule or restriction; or to subject to governing principles or laws.[12] A franchise is defined to be a special privilege to do certain things conferred by government on an individual or corporation, and which does not belong to citizens generally of common right.[13] On the other hand, "to register" means to record formally and exactly, to enroll, or to enter precisely in a list or the like,[14] and a "driver's license" is the certificate or license issued by the government which authorizes a person to operate a motor vehicle.[15] The devolution of the functions of the DOTC, performed by the LTFRB, to the LGUs, as so aptly observed by the Solicitor General, is aimed at curbing the alarming increase of accidents in national highways involving tricycles. It has been the perception that local governments are in good position to achieve the end desired by the law-making body because of their proximity to the situation that can enable them to address that serious concern better than the national government.

It may not be amiss to state, nevertheless, that under Article 458 (a)[3-VI] of the Local Government Code, the power of LGUs to regulate the operation of tricycles and to grant franchises for the operation thereof is still subject to the guidelines prescribed by the DOTC. In compliance therewith, the Department of Transportation and Communications ("DOTC") issued "Guidelines to Implement the Devolution of LTFRBs Franchising Authority over Tricycles-For-Hire to Local Government units pursuant to the Local Government Code." Pertinent provisions of the guidelines state:

"In lieu of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in the DOTC, the Sangguniang Bayan/Sangguniang Panglungsod (SB/SP) shall perform the following:

"(a)
Issue, amend, revise, renew, suspend, or cancel MTOP and prescribe the appropriate terms and conditions therefor;

"xxx xxx xxx.

"Operating Conditions:

"1.
For safety reasons, no tricycles should operate on national highways utilized by 4 wheel vehicles greater than 4 tons and where normal speed exceed 40 KPH. However, the SB/SP may provide exceptions if there is no alternative routs.

"2.
Zones must be within the boundaries of the municipality/city. However, existing zones within more than one municipality/city shall be maintained, provided that operators serving said zone shall secure MTOP's from each of the municipalities/cities having jurisdiction over the areas covered by the zone.

"3.
A common color for tricycles-for-hire operating in the same zone may be imposed. Each unit shall be assigned and bear an identification number, aside from its LTO license plate number.

"4.
An operator wishing to stop service completely, or to suspend service for more than one month, should report in writing such termination or suspension to the SB/SP which originally granted the MTOP prior thereto. Transfer to another zone may be permitted upon application.

"5.
The MTOP shall be valid for three (3) years, renewable for the same period. Transfer to another zone, change of ownership of unit or transfer of MTOP shall be construed as an amendment to an MTOP and shall require appropriate approval of the SB/SP.

"6.
Operators shall employ only drivers duly licensed by LTO for tricycles-for-hire.

"7.
No tricycle-for-hire shall be allowed to carry more passengers and/or goods than it is designed for.

"8.
A tricycle-for-hire shall be allowed to operate like a taxi service, i.e., service is rendered upon demand and without a fixed route within a zone."[16]

Such as can be gleaned from the explicit language of the statute, as well as the corresponding guidelines issued by DOTC, the newly delegated powers pertain to the franchising and regulatory powers theretofore exercised by the LTFRB and not to the functions of the LTO relative to the registration of motor vehicles and issuance of licenses for the driving thereof. Clearly unaffected by the Local Government Code are the powers of LTO under R.A. No.4136 requiring the registration of all kinds of motor vehicles "used or operated on or upon any public highway" in the country. Thus -

"SEC. 5. All motor vehicles and other vehicles must be registered. - (a) No motor vehicle shall be used or operated on or upon any public highway of the Philippines unless the same is properly registered for the current year in accordance with the provisions of this Act (Article 1, Chapter II, R.A. No. 4136).

The Commissioner of Land Transportation and his deputies are empowered at anytime to examine and inspect such motor vehicles to determine whether said vehicles are registered, or are unsightly, unsafe, improperly marked or equipped, or otherwise unfit to be operated on because of possible excessive damage to highways, bridges and other infrastructures.[17] The LTO is additionally charged with being the central repository and custodian of all records of all motor vehicles.[18]

The Court shares the apprehension of the Solicitor General if the above functions were to likewise devolve to local government units; he states:

"If the tricycle registration function of respondent LTO is decentralized, the incidence of theft of tricycles will most certainly go up, and stolen tricycles registered in one local government could be registered in another with ease. The determination of ownership thereof will also become very difficult.

"Fake driver's licenses will likewise proliferate. This likely scenario unfolds where a tricycle driver, not qualified by petitioner LTO's testing, could secure a license from one municipality, and when the same is confiscated, could just go another municipality to secure another license.

"Devolution will entail the hiring of additional personnel charged with inspecting tricycles for road worthiness, testing drivers, and documentation. Revenues raised from tricycle registration may not be enough to meet salaries of additional personnel and incidental costs for tools and equipment."[19]

The reliance made by respondents on the broad taxing power of local government units, specifically under Section 133 of the Local Government Code, is tangential. Police power and taxation, along with eminent domain, are inherent powers of sovereignty which the State might share with local government units by delegation given under a constitutional or a statutory fiat. All these inherent powers are for a public purpose and legislative in nature but the similarities just about end there. The basic aim of police power is public good and welfare. Taxation, in its case, focuses on the power of government to raise revenue in order to support its existence and carry out its legitimate objectives. Although correlative to each other in many respects, the grant of one does not necessarily carry with it the grant of the other. The two powers are, by tradition and jurisprudence, separate and distinct powers, varying in their respective concepts, character, scopes and limitations. To construe the tax provisions of Section 133(1) indistinctively would result in the repeal to that extent of LTO's regulatory power which evidently has not been intended. If it were otherwise, the law could have just said so in Section 447 and 458 of Book III of the Local Government Code in the same manner that the specific devolution of LTFRB's power on franchising of tricycles has been provided. Repeal by implication is not favored.[20] The power over tricycles granted under Section 458(a)(3)(VI) of the Local Government Code to LGUs is the power to regulate their operation and to grant franchises for the operation thereof. The exclusionary clause contained in the tax provisions of Section 133(1) of the Local Government Code must not be held to have had the effect of withdrawing the express power of LTO to cause the registration of all motor vehicles and the issuance of licenses for the driving thereof. These functions of the LTO are essentially regulatory in nature, exercised pursuant to the police power of the State, whose basic objectives are to achieve road safety by insuring the road worthiness of these motor vehicles and the competence of drivers prescribed by R. A. 4136. Not insignificant is the rule that a statute must not be construed in isolation but must be taken in harmony with the extant body of laws.[21]

The Court cannot end this decision without expressing its own serious concern over the seeming laxity in the grant of franchises for the operation of tricycles-for-hire and in allowing the indiscriminate use by such vehicles on public highways and principal thoroughfares. Senator Aquilino C. Pimentel, Jr., the principal author, and sponsor of the bill that eventually has become to be known as the Local Government Code, has aptly remarked:

"Tricycles are a popular means of transportation, specially in the countryside. They are, unfortunately, being allowed to drive along highways and principal thoroughfares where they pose hazards to their passengers arising from potential collisions with buses, cars and jeepneys.

"The operation of tricycles within a municipality may be regulated by the Sangguniang Bayan. In this connection, the Sangguniang concerned would do well to consider prohibiting the operation of tricycles along or across highways invite collisions with faster and bigger vehicles and impede the flow of traffic."[22]

The need for ensuring public safety and convenience to commuters and pedestrians alike is paramount. It might be well, indeed, for public officials concerned to pay heed to a number of provisions in our laws that can warrant in appropriate cases an incurrence of criminal and civil liabilities. Thus -

The Revised Penal Code -

"Art. 208. Prosecution of offenses; negligence and tolerance. - The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period and suspension shall be imposed upon any public officer, or officer of the law, who, in dereliction of the duties of his office, shall maliciously refrain from instituting prosecution for the punishment of violators of the law, or shall tolerate the commission of offenses."

The Civil Code -

"Art. 27. Any person suffering material or moral loss because a public servant or employee refuses or neglects, without just cause, to perform his official duty may file an action for damages and other relief against the latter, without prejudice to any disciplinary administrative action that may be taken."

"Art. 34. When a member of a city or municipal police force refuses or fails to render aid or protection to any person in case of danger to life or property, such peace officer shall be primarily liable for damages, and the city or municipality shall be subsidiarily responsible therefor. The civil action herein recognized shall be independent of any criminal, proceedings, and a preponderance of evidence shall suffice to support such action."

"Art. 2189. Provinces, cities and municipalities shall be liable for damages for the death of, or injuries suffered by, any person by reason of the defective condition of roads, streets, bridges, public buildings, and other public works under their control or supervision."

The Local Government Code -

"Sec. 24. Liability for Damages. - Local government units and their officials are not exempt from liability for death or injury to persons or damage to property."

WHEREFORE, the assailed decision which enjoins the Land Transportation Office from requiring the due registration of tricycles and a license for the driving thereof is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

No pronouncements on costs.

Let copies of this decision be likewise furnished the Department of Interior and Local Governments, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation and Communication.

SO ORDERED.

Melo, (Chairman), Panganiban, Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.