Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 174588 December 11, 2013 DAV AO NEW TOWN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. SPOUSES GLORIA ESPINO SALIGA and CESAR SALIGA, and SPOUSES DEMETRIO EHARA and ROBERTA SUGUE EHARA, Respondents.

The subject property had been
reclassified as non-agricultural prior
to June 15, 1988; hence, they are no
longer covered by R.A. No. 6657
At the core of the controversy is the questioned reclassification of the property to non-agricultural uses. This issue is intertwined with and on which depends the resolution of the issue concerning the claimed agricultural leasehold relationship.
In reversing the PARAD and holding that the property was still agricultural, the DARAB considered the Comprehensive Development Plan (approved by the HSRC through Board Resolution R-39-4 dated July 31, 1980) and Davao City Ordinance No. 363, series of 1982 (adopting the Comprehensive Development Plan) as invalid reclassification measures. It gave as reason the absence of the requisite certification from the HLURB and the approval of the DAR. In the alternative, and citing P.D. No. 27, in relation with R.A. No. 6657, as basis, the DARAB considered the alleged reclassification ineffective so as to free the property from the legal effects of P.D. No. 27 that deemed it taken under the government’s operation land transfer (OLT) program as of October 21, 1972.
We differ from, and cannot accept, the DARAB’s position.
We hold that the property had been reclassified to non-agricultural uses and was, therefore, already outside the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) after it took effect on July 15, 1988.
1. Power of the local government units to
reclassify lands from agricultural to nonagricultural
uses; the DAR approval is not
required
Indubitably, the City Council of Davao City has the authority to adopt zoning resolutions and ordinances. Under Section 3 of R.A. No. 226430 (the then governing Local Government Code), municipal and/or city officials are specifically empowered to "adopt zoning and subdivision ordinances or regulations in consultation with the National Planning Commission."31
In Pasong Bayabas Farmers Asso., Inc. v. Court of Appeals,32 the Court held that this power of the local government units to reclassify or convert lands to non-agricultural uses is not subject to the approval of the DAR.33 There, the Court affirmed the authority of the Municipal Council of Carmona to issue a zoning classification and to reclassify the property in dispute from agricultural to residential through the Council’s Kapasiyahang Bilang 30, as approved by the HSRC.
In the subsequent case of Junio v. Secretary Garilao,34 this Court clarified, once and for all, that "with respect to areas classified and identified as zonal areas not for agricultural uses, like those approved by the HSRC before the effectivity of RA 6657 on June 15, 1988, the DAR’s clearance is no longer necessary for conversion."35 The Court in that case declared the disputed landholding as validly reclassified from agricultural to residential pursuant to Resolution No. 5153-A of the City Council of Bacolod.
Citing the cases of Pasong Bayabas Farmers Asso., Inc. and Junio, this Court arrived at significantly similar ruling in the case of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (ARBA) v. Nicolas.36
Based on these considerations, we hold that the property had been validly reclassified as non-agricultural land prior to June 15, 1988. We note the following facts established in the records that support this conclusion: (1) the Davao City Planning and Development Board prepared the Comprehensive Development Plan for the year 1979-2000 in order to provide for a comprehensive zoning plan for Davao City; (2) the HSRC approved this Comprehensive Development Plan through Board Resolution R-39-4 dated July 31, 1980; (3) the HLURB confirmed the approval per the certification issued on April 26, 2006;37 (4) the City Council of Davao City adopted the Comprehensive Development Plan through its Resolution No. 894 and City Ordinance No. 363, series of 1982;38 (5) the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator, Office of the Zoning Administrator expressly certified on June 15, 1995 that per City Ordinance No. 363, series of 1982 as amended by S.P. Resolution No. 2843, Ordinance No. 561, series of 1992, the property (located in barangay Catalunan Pequeño) is within an "urban/urbanizing" zone;39 (6) the Office of the City Agriculturist confirmed the above classification and further stated that the property is not classified as prime agricultural land and is not irrigated nor covered by an irrigation project as certified by the National Irrigation Administration, per the certification issued on December 4, 1998;40 and (7) the HLURB, per certification dated May 2, 1996,41 quoted the April 8, 1996 certification issued by the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator stating that "the Mintal District which includes barangay Catalunan Pequeño, is identified as one of the ‘urbaning [sic] district centers and priority areas and for development and investments’ in Davao City."

FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 200454 October 22, 2014 HOLY TRINITY REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. VICTORIO DELA CRUZ, LORENZO MANALAYSAY, RICARDO MARCELO, JR. and LEONCIO DE GUZMAN, Respondents.

The Dakila property was not an agricultural land within the coverage of R.A.No. 6657 or P.D. No. 27
The CA declared that the Dakila property as an agricultural land; and that there was no valid reclassification under Municipal Resolution No. 16-98 because the law required an ordinance, not a resolution.
We agree in part with the CA.
Under Republic Act No. 7160, local government units, such as the Municipality of Malolos, Bulacan, are vested with the power to reclassify lands. However, Section 20, Chapter II, Title I of Republic Act No. 7160 ordains:
Section 20. Reclassification of Lands. – (a) A city or municipality may, through an ordinance passed by the sanggunian after conducting public hearings for the purpose, authorize the reclassification of agricultural lands and provide for the manner of their utilization or disposition in the following cases: (1) when the land ceases to be economically feasible and sound for agricultural purposes as determined by the Department of Agriculture or(2) where the land shall have substantially greater economic value for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes, as determined by the sanggunian concerned: x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, an ordinance is required in order to reclassify agricultural lands, and such may only be passed after the conduct of public hearings.
The petitioner claims the reclassification on the basis of Municipal Resolution No. 16-98. Given the foregoing clarifications, however, the resolution was ineffectual for that purpose. A resolution was a mere declaration of the sentiment or opinionof the lawmaking body on a specific matter that was temporary in nature, and differed from an ordinance in that the latter was a law by itself and possessed a general and permanent character.49 We also note that the petitioner did not show if the requisite public hearings were conducted at all.In the absence of any valid and complete reclassification,therefore, the Dakila property remained under the category of an agricultural land.
Nonetheless, the Dakila property was not an agricultural land subject to the coverage of Republic Act No. 6657 or Presidential Decree No. 27.

THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 171674 August 4, 2009 DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM (DAR), represented by HON. NASSER C. PANGANDAMAN, in his capacity as DAR OIC-Secretary, Petitioner, vs. CARMEN S. TONGSON, Respondent.

The date of taking of the subject land for purposes of computing just compensation should be reckoned from the issuance dates of the emancipation patents. An emancipation patent constitutes the conclusive authority for the issuance of a Transfer Certificate of Title in the name of the grantee. It is from the issuance of an emancipation patent that the grantee can acquire the vested right of ownership in the landholding, subject to the payment of just compensation to the landowner.30G.R. No. 168533, February 4, 2008, 543 SCRA 627, 640.

FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 153817 March 31, 2006 NOLITO D. SOLMAYOR, VICENTE LASTIMA, JUANITO B. SUAREZ, GERVACIO BATAUSA (dec.) represented by Antonio Batausa, VICTORIANO CANDIA, PRIMITIVO BORRES (dec.) represented by Rogelio Borres, TIBURCIO MANULAT (dec.) represented by Teresita Manulat Palaca, PATRICIO ASTACAAN, JUANITO AMIGABLE, OZITA MENDOZA, LUIS CANDOG (dec.) represented by Jovencia Candog and SABINO CELADES (dec.) represented by Sergia Estante, Petitioners, vs. ANTONIO L. ARROYO, Respondent.

The crux of this case is whether or not grounds exist to warrant the cancellation of CLTs and EPs issued to appellees as the identified tenant-beneficiaries on the land. The determination of this issue in turn hinges on the question of whether or not the subject land is exempt under OLT coverage of PD 27.
In the recent case of Eudosia Daez vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 133507, February 17, 2000, the Supreme Court set forth the requirements for coverage under the OLT program in this wise:
"PD 27, which implemented the Operation Land Transfer (OLT) Program, covers tenanted rice or corn lands. The requisites for coverage under the OLT Program are the following: (1) the land must be devoted to rice or corn crops; and (2) there must be a system of share-crop or lease tenancy obtaining therein. If either requisite is absent, a landowner may apply for exemption. If either for [sic] those requisites is absent, the land is not covered under OLT.
x x x x
Thus, on one hand, exemption from coverage of OLT lies if: (1) the land is not devoted to rice or corn crops even if it is tenanted; or (2) the land is untenanted even though it is devoted to rice or corn crops."
Guided by the foregoing, it is essential to determine whether or not tenancy relationship exists between Mr. Arroyo and the appellees. In the absence of the all important element of tenancy, the subject land falls outside OLT coverage of PD 27 even if incidentally it is devoted to rice and/or corn. In the case of Prudential Bank vs. Gapultos, 181 SCRA 160 [1990], the Supreme Court lists the requisites essential for the establishment of tenancy relationship, thus:
"The essential requisites of tenancy relationship are: (1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; (2) the subject is agricultural land; (3) there is consent; (4) the purpose is agricultural production; (5) there is personal cultivation; and (6) there is sharing of harvests. All these requisites must concur in order to create a tenancy relationship between the parties. The absence of one does not make an occupant of a parcel of land, or a cultivator thereof, or a planter thereon, a de jure tenant. Unless a person has established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by Land Reform Program of the government under existing tenancy laws."

x x x x

 
Applying the above-stated requirements in the case at bar, we find the absence of tenancy relationship between the parties. Firstly, subject land is not an agricultural land, as the term is understood. Uncontroverted evidence shows that the subject land had been classified as residential/commercial even prior to the effectivity of PD 27. Per Official Zoning Map of the City of Davao adopted under Resolution No. 711, Ordinance No. 281, s. of 1972 (p. 243, Records), the land was classified as "Commercial Zone and Residential Zone Class B". This classification confirmed the residential character of the subject land as appearing in Mr. Arroyo’s tax declarations filed way back in 1968 (pp. 187-190, Records). x x x
The residential character of the subject property is likewise confirmed by the following government agencies or offices:
1. The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Davao City, which issued a Zoning Certification to the effect that the subject land is within the Residential/Commercial Zone under the Zoning Ordinance of Davao City adopted through a Sangguniang Bayan Resolution and ratified by the HLURB, through Board Resolution No. 39-4, s. of 1980 dated July 31, 1980 (p. 208, Records).
2. The Office of the Zoning Administrator, City of Davao, certifying to the effect that the subject land is within a Residential Zone Class "B" in the Zonification Ordinance of Davao City (p. 126, Records).
3. The Bureau of Soils of then Ministry of Agriculture, Davao City, which submitted a Certification to the effect that the subject land is suitable for urban use/housing projects (p. 127, Records).
4. The Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator, Office of the Zoning Administrator, certifying to the effect that the subject land was classified as Major Commercial Zone (C-2) and High Density Residential Zone (R-2) in the City Ordinance No. 363, s. of 1982 or better known as Expanded Zoning Ordinance of Davao City (p. 160, Records).
To cap it all, even the DAR Provincial Task Force on Illegal Conversion, after conducting on April 10, 2000 an investigation on the reported illegal conversion of the subject land, admitted on its report of June 2, 2000 that it is no longer agricultural, it being classified as commercial and residential zones. Consequently, they ruled out any act of illegal conversion. 

x x x

 
Secondly, the records show that the land in dispute was never intended for agricultural production. For one, no agricultural improvements were introduced upon the land since its acquisition by Mr. Arroyo in 1951. In fact, for more than a decade since 1972, the disputed land was subject of numerous business proposals (attached to Appeal/Memorandum) from various land developers for purposes of developing it into a residential and commercial area. For another, the subject property is situated in a commercial and residential area. As the records show, it is adjacent to the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) subdivision and other residential or commercial establishments, and surrounded by GSIS Heights, Villa Josefina Subdivision, Flores Village, Central Park Subdivision, Poly Subdivision, San Miguel Village, New Matina Golf Club, Davao Memorial Park, Shrine of the Infant Jesus, Matina Public Market and Venees hotel.
The fact that appellees may perhaps have planted rice or corn on the said land, situated in the middle of what appears to be a fast growing residential and business area in the heart of a metropolitan area, is of little moment. Such agricultural activity cannot, by any strained interpretation of law, amount to converting the land in question into agricultural land and subject it to the agrarian reform program of the government. The Supreme Court in Hilario vs. Intermediate Appellate Court (supra) held that:
"x x x. But even if the claim of the private respondent that some corn was planted on the lots is true, this does not convert residential land into agricultural land.
The presumption assumed by the appellate court, that a parcel of land which is located in a poblacion is not necessarily devoted to residential purposes, is wrong. It should be the other way around. A lot inside the poblacion should be presumed residential, or commercial or non-agricultural unless there is clearly preponderant evidence to show that it is agricultural." (underlining supplied)
Clearly, therefore, two (2) requisites – that the land is agricultural and that the purpose thereof is agricultural production – necessary to establish the existence of tenancy relationship between Mr. Arroyo and the appellees are absent. On the other requirements for the creation of tenancy relationship, suffice it to reiterate the well-established rule that "[A]ll these requisites must concur in order to create a tenancy relationship between the parties. The absence of one does not make an occupant of a parcel of land, or a cultivator thereof, or a planter thereon, a de jure tenant. Unless a person has established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by Land Reform Program of the government under existing tenancy laws" (Prudential Bank v. Gapultos, supra).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Laches is principally a doctrine of equity. Courts apply laches to avoid recognizing a right when to do so would result in a clearly inequitable situation or in an injustice.12 The principle of laches finds no application in the present case. There is nothing inequitable in giving due course to respondent’s claim for compensation. Both equity and the law direct that a property owner should be compensated if his property is taken for public use.
Eminent domain is the inherent power of a sovereign state to appropriate private property to particular uses to promote public welfare.13 No one questions NIA’s authority to exercise the delegated power of eminent domain. However, the power of eminent domain is not limitless. NIA cannot exercise the power with wanton disregard for property rights. One basic limitation on the State’s power of eminent domain is the constitutional directive that, "[p]rivate property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation."14
The thirteen-year interval between the execution of the 1980 deeds of sale and the filing of the complaint in 1993 does not bar respondent’s claim for compensation. In National Power Corporation v. Campos, Jr.,15 this Court reiterated the long-standing rule "that where private property is taken by the Government for public use without first acquiring title thereto either through expropriation or negotiated sale, the owner’s action to recover the land or the value thereof does not prescribe."16
Thus, in Ansaldo v. Tantuico, Jr.17 the Court allowed the landowners to seek compensation twenty-six years after the government took their land. In Amigable v. Cuenca, etc., et al.,18 Amigable filed an action to claim compensation more than thirty years after the government constructed the roads on her lot. In both cases, the property owners were silent for several years before finally bringing their claims to the attention of the authorities. In contrast, in the present case, respondent has steadfastly pursued his claim with NIA since 1972.
NIA faults respondent for "desisting from claiming just compensation from NIA in 1980,"19 referring to the 1980 deeds of sale which were never implemented. NIA conveniently fails to mention that, as the other party to the 1980 deeds of sale, it was equally delinquent when it failed to perform its obligations under the deeds.
NIA is partly to blame for the delay in this case. The trial and appellate courts found that NIA stalled and prolonged negotiations with respondent. Eight years passed before NIA even offered to buy the area occupied by the canals. More than three decades later, respondent has yet to receive an iota of compensation from NIA. In the meantime, NIA has been charging respondent and the other farmers in the area irrigation fees for the beneficial use of these canals.20
NIA’s conduct shows callous disregard for the rights of the Property’s owners and for NIA’s own duties under the law. As the expropriating agency in this case, NIA should have instituted the proceedings necessary to acquire the private property it took for public purpose and to compensate the Property’s owners. Section 2(e) of RA 3601, as amended by PD 552, expressly states that the NIA should "exercise the right of eminent domain in the manner provided by law for the institution of expropriation proceedings."21
The exercise of eminent domain entails payment of just compensation. Otherwise, title over the expropriated property cannot pass to the government.22 Following its own enabling law, NIA should have taken steps to acquire the affected portion of the Property either through "any mode of acquisition" or "the institution of expropriation proceedings."23 RA 3601, as amended, does not authorize NIA to simply appropriate part of the Property without instituting legal proceedings or compensating respondent.

G.R. No. 147245. March 31, 2005
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES REPRESENTED BY THE NATIONAL IRRIGATION ADMINISTRATION, Petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and FRANCISCO DIAZ, IN HIS CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE MANUEL DIAZ, Respondents

XXX

Just compensation is "the fair value of the property as between one who receives, and one who desires to sell, x x x fixed at the time of the actual taking by the government."40 This rule holds true when the property is taken before the filing of an expropriation suit, and even if it is the property owner who brings the action for compensation.41
In affirming the trial court’s award, the Court of Appeals cited Garcia v. Court of Appeals,42 which provides an exception to the rule. In Garcia, the Court held that when the government takes property, not for the purpose of eminent domain, and the government does not initiate condemnation proceedings or other attempts to acquire such property, just compensation should be reckoned not at the time of taking but at the time the trial court made its order of expropriation.43
However, the Garcia ruling does not apply to the present case. The 15,677, 1,897 and 4,499 square meter portions – a total of 22,073 square meters ("Canal Sites") – of the Property identified in the 1980 deeds of sale are occupied by irrigation canals. There is no dispute that the Canal Sites serve a public purpose because the canals provide much-needed irrigation to farms in the locality. There is also no dispute that when NIA actually took over the Canal Sites, the purpose was to exercise NIA’s delegated power of eminent domain.
Just compensation for the Canal Sites must thus be computed as of the time of taking. In this case, respondent does not contest that NIA’s valuation of P1.39 per square meter was the approximate fair market value of the Property in 1972. Respondent even agreed to this price when he signed the 1980 deeds of sale. At the least, P1.39 per square meter was "that sum of money which a person, desirous but not compelled to buy, and an owner, willing but not compelled to sell, would agree on as a price."44

Friday, June 26, 2015

Just compensation has been defined as "the full and fair equivalent of the property taken from its owner by the expropriator. The measure is not the taker's gain, but the owner’s loss. The word ‘just’ is used to qualify the meaning of the word ‘compensation’ and to convey thereby the idea that the amount to be tendered for the property to be taken shall be real, substantial, full and ample."13 The payment of just compensation for private property taken for public use is guaranteed no less by our Constitution and is included in the Bill of Rights.14 As such, no legislative enactments or executive issuances can prevent the courts from determining whether the right of the property owners to just compensation has been violated. It is a judicial function that cannot "be usurped by any other branch or official of the government."15 Thus, we have consistently ruled that statutes and executive issuances fixing or providing for the method of computing just compensation are not binding on courts and, at best, are treated as mere guidelines in ascertaining the amount thereof.16 In National Power Corporation v. Bagui,17 where the same petitioner also invoked the provisions of Section 3A of RA No. 6395, we held that:
Moreover, Section 3A-(b) of R.A. No. 6395, as amended, is not binding on the Court. It has been repeatedly emphasized that the determination of just compensation in eminent domain cases is a judicial function and that any valuation for just compensation laid down in the statutes may serve only as a guiding principle or one of the factors in determining just compensation but it may not substitute the court’s own judgment as to what amount should be awarded and how to arrive at such amount.18

Monday, June 1, 2015

Content-neutral restrictions (also called non-content-based restrictions)

Content-neutral restrictions (also called non-content-based restrictions) regulate speech without regard to its subject matter or the viewpoint conveyed.[1] The Supreme Court has held that the “government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech, provided the restrictions ‘are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.’”[2] Such content-neutral restrictions may be permissible even when they incidentally affect the content of speech to some degree because, in most cases, such regulations “pose a less substantial risk of excising certain ideas or viewpoints from the public dialogue.”[3]
Examples of content-neutral restrictions that have been held to be constitutional include laws that restrict the distribution of printed materials to prevent litter in a public space[4] or laws that prohibit the use of loudspeakers in order to reduce noise.[5] Facially neutral regulations, however, can be invalid if they have a disproportionate effect on a particular type of speech or expression.[6]

what is a captive audience doctrine?

Captive-audience doctrine refers to a legal principle prohibiting a person from making intrusive speech. It is also known as the captive-audience rule. The rule is recognized under both constitutional law and labor law. Under labor law, the rule prohibits a party to a union election from making a speech on company time to a mass assembly of employees within 24 hours of an election.
However, the captive-audience doctrine does not apply when the unwilling audience is located on a public street or sidewalk because they can avoid the unwanted message simply by walking away or averting their eyes. The captive-audience doctrine can be used outside the residential setting when the degree of captivity makes it impractical for the unwilling viewer or auditor to avoid exposure. [Sabelko v. City of Phoenix, 846 F. Supp. 810, 825 (D. Ariz. 1994)].


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Exception To The Absolute Confidentiality Of Foreign Currency Deposit Under RA 6426 as amended by PD 1246…

Jose filed a case for recovery of sums of money and annulment of sales of real properties and shares of stock against his daughter, Margaret, and son-in-law George. According to him, Margaret stole P35 Million and $864,000.00. During the pendency of the case, Jose died, hence he was substituted by his daughter, Elizabeth. The latter presented several Citibank checks payable to Jose and/or Margaret which Margaret allegedly deposited with China Bank, and moved for the issuance of subpoena which the trial court granted, ordering Cristina and Isable, both employees of Chinabank to testify on the case. Chinabank moved for reconsideration, which the trial court partially granted, ordering the two employees to testify only for the purpose of identifying the name or names of the Chinabank account holder and not for any other matter. From this order, Chibank filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the decision of the trial court. According to the CA, Chinabank erred when it averred that foreign currency deposits are absolutely confidential and may not be inquired into. The law (RA 6426 as amended by PD 1246) protects only the deposit not the name of the depositor.
Chinabank thus appealed via petition for review on certiorari the ruling of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court:
“As amended by Presidential Decree No. 1246, the law reads:
SEC. 8. Secrecy of Foreign Currency Deposits. – All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under Presidential Decree No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall such foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative or any other entity whether public or private: Provided, however, that said foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. (As amended by PD No. 1035, and further amended by PD No. 1246, prom. Nov. 21, 1977) (Emphasis supplied.)
Under the above provision, the law provides that all foreign currency deposits authorized under Republic Act No. 6426, as amended by Sec. 8, Presidential Decree No. 1246, Presidential Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under Presidential Decree No. 1034 are considered absolutely confidential in nature and may not be inquired into. There is only one exception to the secrecy of foreign currency deposits, that is, disclosure is allowed upon the written permission of the depositor.
This much was pronounced in the case of Intengan v. Court of Appeals, where it was held that the only exception to the secrecy of foreign currency deposits is in the case of a written permission of the depositor.”
x x x
“As to the deposit in foreign currencies entitled to be protected under the confidentiality rule, Presidential Decree No. 1034, defines deposits to mean funds in foreign currencies which are accepted and held by an offshore banking unit in the regular course of business, with the obligation to return an equivalent amount to the owner thereof, with or without interest.”
“With the foregoing, we are now tasked to determine the single material issue of whether or not petitioner China Bank is correct in its submission that the Citibank dollar checks with both Jose Gotianuy and/or Mary Margaret Dee as payees, deposited with China Bank, may not be looked into under the law on secrecy of foreign currency deposits. As a corollary issue, sought to be resolved is whether Jose Gotianuy may be considered a depositor who is entitled to seek an inquiry over the said deposits.
The Court of Appeals, in allowing the inquiry, considered Jose Gotianuy, a co-depositor of Mary Margaret Dee. It reasoned that since Jose Gotianuy is the named co-payee of the latter in the subject checks, which checks were deposited in China Bank, then, Jose Gotianuy is likewise a depositor thereof. On that basis, no written consent from Mary Margaret Dee is necessitated.
We agree in the conclusion arrived at by the Court of Appeals.”
x x x
Thus, with this, there is no issue as to the source of the funds. Mary Margaret Dee declared the source to be Jose Gotianuy. There is likewise no dispute that these funds in the form of Citibank US dollar Checks are now deposited with China Bank.
As the owner of the funds unlawfully taken and which are undisputably now deposited with China Bank, Jose Gotianuy has the right to inquire into the said deposits.
A depositor, in cases of bank deposits, is one who pays money into the bank in the usual course of business, to be placed to his credit and subject to his check or the beneficiary of the funds held by the bank as trustee.
On this score, the observations of the Court of Appeals are worth reiterating:
Furthermore, it is indubitable that the Citibank checks were drawn against the foreign currency account with Citibank, NA. The monies subject of said checks originally came from the late Jose Gotianuy, the owner of the account. Thus, he also has legal rights and interests in the CBC account where said monies were deposited. More importantly, the Citibank checks (Exhibits “AAA” to “AAA-5″) readily demonstrate (sic) that the late Jose Gotianuy is one of the payees of said checks. Being a co-payee thereof, then he or his estate can be considered as a co-depositor of said checks.
Ergo, since the late Jose Gotianuy is a co-depositor of the CBC account, then his request for the assailed subpoena is tantamount to an express permission of a depositor for the disclosure of the name of the account holder. The April 16, 1999 Order perforce must be sustained. (Emphasis supplied.)
One more point. It must be remembered that in the complaint of Jose Gotianuy, he alleged that his US dollar deposits with Citibank were illegally taken from him. On the other hand, China Bank employee Cristuta Labios testified that Mary Margaret Dee came to China Bank and deposited the money of Jose Gotianuy in Citibank US dollar checks to the dollar account of her sister Adrienne Chu. This fortifies our conclusion that an inquiry into the said deposit at China Bank is justified. At the very least, Jose Gotianuy as the owner of these funds is entitled to a hearing on the whereabouts of these funds.
All things considered and in view of the distinctive circumstances attendant to the present case, we are constrained to render a limited pro hac vice ruling. Clearly it was not the intent of the legislature when it enacted the law on secrecy on foreign currency deposits to perpetuate injustice. This Court is of the view that the allowance of the inquiry would be in accord with the rudiments of fair play, the upholding of fairness in our judicial system and would be an avoidance of delay and time-wasteful and circuitous way of administering justice.”
  CHINA BANKING CORPORATION, petitioner, 
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and JOSE “JOSEPH” GOTIANUY as substituted by ELIZABETH GOTIANUY LO, respondents,FIRST DIVISION, G.R. No. 140687, December 18, 2006

An Unincorporated Government Agency Without Any Separate Juridical Personality Of Its Own Enjoys Immunity From Suit Because It Is Invested With An Inherent Power Of Sovereignty….

The Facts:
Department of Health Administrative Order (AO) 27 was issued in 1998 to set the guidelines and procedure for accreditation of government suppliers of pharmaceutical products for sale or distribution to the public, which accreditation shall be valid for 3 years. AO 10 Series of 2000 amended AO 27, reducing the accreditation period to two years under Section VII thereof. It also provided that accreditation may be suspended, recalled or revoked after due deliberation and notice by the DOH Accreditation Committee. Section VII was later amended by AO 66 Series 2000, which provided for due deliberation, notice and hearing of the suspension, recall and revocation of the accreditation. On August 28, 2000, the DOH issued Memorandum 171-C providing a list of category of sanctions imposable on accredited government suppliers for violation committed during their accreditation.
In compliance with Memorandum 171-C, Undersecretary Margarita Galon invited representatives of 24 companies to a meeting. Included was the representative of Philippine Pharmawealth Inc. (PPI). During the meeting, Usec Galon handed out a document entitled “Report On Violative Products” containing a list of detailed violations by accredited government suppliers. PPI was included in the document because some of its products were found unfit for human consumption. The companies were directed to submit their respective explanations on the findings within 10 days. PPI did not submit its reply on time. Instead, it submitted a letter stating that it is referring the matter to its lawyers for preparation of a reply but with no indicated date of compliance, which DOH Usec Galon found untenable, thus she informed PPI thru letter that its accreditation had been suspended for two years in accordance with AO 10 and Memorandum No. 171-C. PPI thru letter, demanded that Usec Galon cease and desist from enforcing the suspension under pain of legal redress.
PPI then filed a complaint to declare certain DOH issuances (Memorandum No. 171-C, AO 10, Series 2000, Usec Galon’s suspension order; and AO 14, Series 2001) null and void for being in violation of Section 26, Republic Act 3720, with prayer for injunction and damages against Usec Galon and later DOH Secretary Dayrit. It claimed that its accreditation was suspended without due notice and hearing. It prayed that it be awarded moral damages, attorneys fees and costs of suit. The respondent DOH officials filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that it gave PPI the opportunity to explain but it did not do so in a timely manner. The suspension was necessary to stop the distribution and sale of substandard products. In a Manifestation and Motion, the DOH officials further moved to dismiss the case as it was a suit against the State; the complaint was improperly verified; and the corporate officer lacked the authority to file the suit.
The Regional Trial Court dismissed the case, holding that the suit is against the State, thus the principle of immunity form suit is applicable.
On appeal to the CA, however, the latter reversed and set aside the RTC decision. According to the CA, it was premature for the RTC to have dismissed the case, as the cause of actions were sufficiently alleged in the complaint. Further, by filing a complaint, the DOH officials hypothetically admitted the allegations in the complaint-that they were being sued in their official and private capacities. Thus the DOH officials, herein petitioners, elevated the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that PPI’s prayer for damages should be considered a suit against the State for it would require the needed appropriation to satisfy PPI’s claim for damages should it win. In issuing the assailed DOH issuances, they acted within the scope of their authority, hence should not be made to account individually.
The Court’s ruling:
The Petition is granted.
The doctrine of non-suability.
The discussion of this Court in Department of Agriculture v. National Labor Relations Commission[1] on the doctrine of non-suability is enlightening.
The basic postulate enshrined in the constitution that ‘(t)he State may not be sued without its consent,’ reflects nothing less than a recognition of the sovereign character of the State and an express affirmation of the unwritten rule effectively insulating it from the jurisdiction of courts.  It is based on the very essence of sovereignty.  x x x [A] sovereign is exempt from suit, not because of any formal conception or obsolete theory, but on the logical and practical ground that there can be no legal right as against the authority that makes the law on which the right depends.  True, the doctrine, not too infrequently, is derisively called ‘the royal prerogative of dishonesty’ because it grants the state the prerogative to defeat any legitimate claim against it by simply invoking its non-suability.  We have had occasion to explain in its defense, however, that a continued adherence to the doctrine of non-suability cannot be deplored, for the loss of governmental efficiency and the obstacle to the performance of its multifarious functions would be far greater in severity than the inconvenience that may be caused private parties, if such fundamental principle is to be abandoned and the availability of judicial remedy is not to be accordingly restricted.
The rule, in any case, is not really absolute for it does not say that the state may not be sued under any circumstance.  On the contrary, as correctly phrased, the doctrine only conveys, ‘the state may not be sued without its consent;’ its clear import then is that the State may at times be sued.  The State’s consent may be given either expressly or impliedly.  Express consent may be made through a general law or a special law.  x x x Implied consent, on the other hand, is conceded when the State itself commences litigation, thus opening itself to a counterclaim or when it enters into a contract.  In this situation, the government is deemed to have descended to the level of the other contracting party and to have divested itself of its sovereign immunity.  This rule, x x x is not, however, without qualification.  Not all contracts entered into by the government operate as a waiver of its non-suability; distinction must still be made between one which is executed in the exercise of its sovereign function and another which is done in its proprietary capacity[2].
As a general rule, a state may not be sued.  However, if it consents, either expressly or impliedly, then it may be the subject of a suit[3]. There is express consent when a law, either special or general, so provides.  On the other hand, there is implied consent when the state “enters into a contract or it itself commences litigation[4].”   However, it must be clarified that when a state enters into a contract, it does not automatically mean that it has waived its non-suability[5]. The State “will be deemed to have impliedly waived its non-suability [only] if it has entered into a contract in its proprietary or private capacity.  [However,] when the contract involves its sovereign or governmental capacity[,] x x x no such waiver may be implied[6].”   “Statutory provisions waiving [s]tate immunity are construed in strictissimi juris.  For, waiver of immunity is in derogation of sovereignty[7].”
The DOH can validly invoke state immunity. 
a) DOH is an unincorporated agency which
performs sovereign or governmental functions.
In this case, the DOH, being an “unincorporated agency of the government[8]” can validly invoke the defense of immunity from suit because it has not consented, either expressly or impliedly, to be sued.  Significantly, the DOH is an unincorporated agency which performs functions of governmental character.
The ruling in Air Transportation Office v. Ramos[9] is relevant, viz:
An unincorporated government agency without any separate juridical personality of its own enjoys immunity from suit because it is invested with an inherent power of sovereignty.  Accordingly, a claim for damages against the agency cannot prosper; otherwise, the doctrine of sovereign immunity is violated.  However, the need to di
stinguish between an unincorporated government agency performing governmental function and one performing proprietary functions has arisen.  The immunity has been upheld in favor of the former because its function is governmental or incidental to such function; it has not been upheld in favor of the latter whose function was not in pursuit of a necessary function of government but was essentially a business[10].
b) The Complaint seeks to hold the DOH
solidarily and jointly liable with the
other defendants for damages which
constitutes a charge or financial liability
against the state.
Moreover, it is settled that if a Complaint seeks to “impose a charge or financial liability against the state[11],” the defense of non-suability may be properly invoked.  In this case, PPI specifically prayed, in its Complaint and Amended and Supplemental Complaint, for the DOH, together with Secretaries Romualdez and Dayrit as well as Undersecretary Galon, to be held jointly and severally liable for moral damages, exemplary damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit[12].   Undoubtedly, in the event that PPI succeeds in its suit, the government or the state through the DOH would become vulnerable to an imposition or financial charge in the form of damages.  This would require an appropriation from the national treasury which is precisely the situation which the doctrine of state immunity aims to protect the state from.
The mantle of non-suability extends to complaints
filed against public officials for acts done in the
performance of their official functions.
As regards the other petitioners, to wit, Secretaries Romualdez and Dayrit, and Undersecretary Galon, it must be stressed that the doctrine of state immunity extends its protective mantle also to complaints filed against state officials for acts done in the discharge and performance of their duties[13]. “The suability of a government official depends on whether the official concerned was acting within his official or jurisdictional capacity, and whether the acts done in the performance of official functions will result in a charge or financial liability against the government[14].” Otherwise stated, “public officials can be held personally accountable for acts claimed to have been performed in connection with official duties where they have acted ultra vires or where there is showing of bad faith[15].” Moreover, “[t]he rule is that if the judgment against such officials will require the state itself to perform an affirmative act to satisfy the same, such as the appropriation of the amount needed to pay the damages awarded against them, the suit must be regarded as against the state x x x.  In such a situation, the state may move to dismiss the [C]omplaint on the ground that it has been filed without its consent.”[16]
It is beyond doubt that the acts imputed against Secretaries Romualdez and Dayrit, as well as Undersecretary Galon, were done while in the performance and discharge of their official functions or in their official capacities, and not in their personal or individual capacities. Secretaries Romualdez and Dayrit were being charged with the issuance of the assailed orders. On the other hand, Undersecretary Galon was being charged with implementing the assailed issuances.  By no stretch of imagination could the same be categorized as ultra vires simply because the said acts are well within the scope of their authority.  Section 4 of RA 3720 specifically provides that the BFAD is an office under the Office of the Health Secretary.  Also, the Health Secretary is authorized to issue rules and regulations as may be necessary to effectively enforce the provisions of RA 3720[17]. As regards Undersecretary Galon, she is authorized by law to supervise the offices under the DOH’s authority[18], such as the BFAD.  Moreover, there was also no showing of bad faith on their part.  The assailed issuances were not directed only against PPI.  The suspension of PPI’s accreditation only came about after it failed to submit its comment as directed by Undersecretary Galon.  It is also beyond dispute that if found wanting, a financial charge will be imposed upon them which will require an appropriation from the state of the needed amount.  Thus, based on the foregoing considerations, the Complaint against them should likewise be dismissed for being a suit against the state which absolutely did not give its consent to be sued.
Based on the foregoing considerations, and regardless of the merits of PPI’s case, this case deserves a dismissal.  Evidently, the very foundation of Civil Case No. 68200 has crumbled at this initial juncture.
PPI was not denied due process.
However, we cannot end without a discussion of PPI’s contention that it was denied due process when its accreditation was suspended “without due notice and hearing.”  It is undisputed that during the October 27, 2000 meeting, Undersecretary Galon directed representatives of pharmaceutical companies, PPI included, to submit their comment and/or reactions to the Report on Violative Products furnished them within a period of 10 days.  PPI, instead of submitting its comment or explanation, wrote a letter addressed to Undersecretary Galon informing her that the matter had already been referred to its lawyer for the drafting of an appropriate reply.  Aside from the fact that the said letter was belatedly submitted, it also failed to specifically mention when such reply would be forthcoming. Finding the foregoing explanation to be unmeritorious, Undersecretary Galon ordered the suspension of PPI’s accreditation for two years.  Clearly these facts show that PPI was not denied due process.  It was given the opportunity to explain its side.  Prior to the suspension of its accreditation, PPI had the chance to rebut, explain, or comment on the findings contained in the Report on Violative Products that several of PPI’s products are not fit for human consumption.  However, PPI squandered its opportunity to explain.  Instead of complying with the directive of the DOH Undersecretary within the time allotted, it instead haughtily informed Undersecretary Galon that the matter had been referred to its lawyers.  Worse, it impliedly told Undersecretary Galon to just wait until its lawyers shall have prepared the appropriate reply.  PPI however failed to mention when it will submit its “appropriate reply” or how long Undersecretary Galon should wait.  In the meantime, PPI’s drugs which are included in the Report on Violative Products are out and being sold in the market.  Based on the foregoing, we find PPI’s contention of denial of due process totally unfair and absolutely lacking in basis.  At this juncture, it would be trite to mention that “[t]he essence of due process in administrative proceedings is the opportunity to explain one’s side or seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.  As long as the parties are given the opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered, the demands of due process are sufficiently met.  What is offensive to due process is the denial of the opportunity to be heard.  The Court has repeatedly stressed that parties who chose not to avail themselves of the opportunity to answer charges against them cannot complain of a denial of due process[19].”
Incidentally, we find it interesting that in the earlier case of Department of Health v. Phil Pharmawealth, Inc[20]. respondent filed a Complaint against DOH anchored on the same issuances which it assails in the present case.  In the earlier case of Department of Health v. Phil Pharmawealth, Inc.,[21] PPI submitted to the DOH a request for the inclusion of its products in the list of accredited drugs as required by AO 27 series of 1998 which was later amended by AO 10 series of 2000.  In the instant case, however, PPI interestingly claims that these issuances are null and void.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is GRANTED.  Civil Case No. 68200 is ordered DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION, G.R. No. 182358, February 20, 201

THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH, AND MA. MARGARITA M. GALON, PETITIONERS, VS. PHIL PHARMAWEALTH, INC., RESPONDENT.


[1] G.R. No. 104269, November 11, 1993, 227 SCRA 693.
[2] Id. at 698-699. Citations omitted.
[3] United States of America v. Judge Guinto, 261 Phil. 777, 790 (1990).
[4] Id. at 792.
[5] Id. at 793.
[6] Id. at 795.
[7] Equitable Insurance and Casualty Co., Inc. v. Smith, Bell & Co. (Phils.), Inc., 127 Phil. 547, 549 (1967).
[8] Department of Health v. Phil Pharmawealth, Inc., 547 Phil. 148, 154 (2007).
[9] G.R. No. 159402, February 23, 2011, 644 SCRA 36.
[10] Id. at 42-43. Citations omitted.
[11] Department of Health v. Phil Pharmawealth, Inc., supra at 154.
[12] See Complaint, pp. 12-13, records, pp. 13-14; Amended and Supplemental Complaint, p. 13, records, p. 422.
[13] United States of America v. Judge Guinto, supra note 34 at 791.
[14] Department of Health v. Phil Pharmawealth, Inc., supra note 39 at 153.
[15] M. H. Wylie v. Rarang, G.R. No. 74135, May 28, 1992, 209 SCRA 357, 368. Citation omitted. See also United States of America v. Reyes, G.R. No. 79253, March 1, 1993, 219 SCRA 192, 209 where the Court held:
x x x [T]he doctrine of immunity from suit will not apply and may not be invoked where the public official is being sued in his private and personal capacity as an ordinary citizen. The cloak of protection afforded the officers and agents of the government is removed the moment they are sued in their individual capacity. This situation usually arises where the public official acts without authority or in excess of the powers vested in him. It is a well-settled principle of law that a public official may be liable in his personal private capacity for whatever damage he may have caused by his act done with malice and in bad faith, or beyond the scope of his authority or jurisdiction. (Citations omitted)
[16] United States of America v. Judge Guinto, supra note 34 at 791-792. See also Department of Health v. Phil Pharmawealth, Inc., supra note 39 at 155.
[17] See Section 26, Republic Act No. 3720.
[18] See Section 12, Chapter 3, Title IX, Book IV, Administrative Code of 1987.
[19] Flores v. Montemayor, G.R. No. 170146, June 8, 2011, 651 SCRA 396, 406-407. Citations omitted.
[20] Supra note 39.
[21] Id.

For An Acquittal To Be Considered Tainted With Grave Abuse Of Discretion, There Must Be A Showing That The Prosecution’s Right To Due Process Was Violated Or That The Trial Conducted Was A Sham…

The Facts:
Julieta (Ando) was charged with Falsification of Public Documents for making it appear that Wille’s (Tee) father, Tee Ong, the owner of To Suy Hardware, signed and executed a Deed of Sale, an Affidavit and a Transfer of Rights on January 31, 1996, despite the fact that Tee Ong was already dead at the time the allegedly falsified documents were executed and notarised.  After trial, the MTC convicted her as charged, which decision was affirmed by the RTC.  On appeal to the Court of Appeals, however, the latter acquitted Julieta, holding that the prosecution did not submit any expert witness to show that the signatures and thumb mark of Tee Ong were indeed falsified.  The lower courts erred in concluding that the signatures were forged on the basis that Tee Ong was already dead at the time of tits notarisation, and did not eliminate the possibility that Tee Ong may have signed the documents before his death, thus giving doubt to Julieta’s guilt.  Tee then filed a Petition for Certiorari to assail the CA’s acquittal of Julieta, averring that the OSG joined him in the petition.
The Issue:
May the prosecution assail the acquittal of an accused via a petition for certiorari without violating the right of accused against double jeopardy?
The Court’s ruling:
Dismissal of this petition is inevitable in view of the principle of double jeopardy, making it unnecessary to address and extrapolate on the numerous factual issues raised by Tee against the CA’s Decision dated July 28, 2011 and the procedural lapses Ando attributes to Tee. The mere fact that the decision being brought for this Court’s review is one for acquittal alerts one’s attention to a possible violation of the rule against double jeopardy.
In People v. Hon. Tria-Tirona1,  this Court reiterated that mistrial is the only exception to the well-settled, even axiomatic, principle that acquittal is immediately final and cannot be appealed on the ground of double jeopardy. This Court was categorical in stating that a re-examination of the evidence without a finding of mistrial will violate the right to repose of an accused, which is what is protected by the rule against double jeopardy.⁠2 
This petition does not allege a mistrial and the sole challenge posed by Tee and the OSG against the validity of the CA’s disposition is the latter’s supposed misappreciation of the evidence, which is an error of judgment and not of jurisdiction or a manifestation of grave abuse of discretion, hence, not correctible by a writ of certiorari.3 
In People of the Philippines v. Hon. Sandiganbayan (Third Division),4  this Court clarified that for an acquittal to be considered tainted with grave abuse of discretion, there must be a showing that the prosecution’s right to due process was violated or that the trial conducted was a sham.
Although the dismissal order is not subject to appeal, it is still reviewable but only through certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. For the writ to issue, the trial court must be shown to have acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction such as where the prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or where the trial was a sham thus rendering the assailed judgment void. The burden is on the petitioner to clearly demonstrate that the trial court blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice.5  (Citations omitted)
The petition is bereft of any allegation, much less, evidence that the prosecution’s right to due process was violated or the proceedings before the CA were a mockery such that Ando’s acquittal was a foregone conclusion. Accordingly, notwithstanding the alleged errors in the interpretation of the applicable law or appreciation of evidence that the CA may have committed in ordering Ando’s acquittal, absent any showing that the CA acted with caprice or without regard to the rudiments of due process, the CA’s findings can no longer be reversed, disturbed and set aside without violating the rule against double jeopardy. As ruled in the above-cited Sandiganbayan case:
Nonetheless, even if the Sandiganbayan proceeded from an erroneous interpretation of the law and its implementing rules, the error committed was an error of judgment and not of jurisdiction. Petitioner failed to establish that the dismissal order was tainted with grave abuse of discretion such as the denial of the prosecution’s right to due process or the conduct of a sham trial. In fine, the error committed by the Sandiganbayan is of such a nature that can no longer be rectified on appeal by the prosecution because it would place the accused in double jeopardy⁠6.  (Citation omitted)
In fine, this petition cannot be given due course without running afoul of the principle against double jeopardy.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

  PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER, VS. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, FOURTH DIVISION AND JULIETA G. ANDO, RESPONDENTS.SECOND DIVISION, G.R. No. 198589, July 25, 2012,

REYES, J.:
Carpio, (Chairperson),  Del Castillo,*  Perez, and Sereno, JJ., concur.
1 502 Phil. 31 (2005).
2 People v. Hon. Velasco, 394 Phil. 517, 558.
3 People v. Sandiganbayan (Fifth Division), G.R. No. 173396, September 22, 2010, 631 SCRA 128, 133.
4 G.R. No. 174504, March 21, 2011, 645 SCRA 726.
5 Id. at 731-732.
6 Id. at 735-736.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Freedom of expression

FACTS:On February 21, 2013, petitioners posted two (2) tarpaulins within a private compound housing the San Sebastian Cathedral of Bacolod. Each tarpaulin was approximately six feet (6') by ten feet (10') in size. They were posted on the front walls of the cathedral within public view. The first tarpaulin contains the message "IBASURA RH Law" referring to the Reproductive Health Law of 2012 or Republic Act No. 10354. The second tarpaulin is the subject of the present case.4 This tarpaulin contains the heading "Conscience Vote" and lists candidates as either "(Anti-RH) Team Buhay" with a check mark, or "(Pro-RH) Team Patay" with an "X" mark.5 The electoral candidates were classified according to their vote on the adoption of Republic Act No. 10354, otherwise known as the RH Law.6 Those who voted for the passing of the law were classified by petitioners as comprising "Team Patay," while those who voted against it form "Team Buhay.
 On February 22, 2013, respondent Atty. Mavil V. Majarucon, in her capacity as Election Officer of Bacolod City, issued a Notice to Remove Campaign Materials8 addressed to petitioner Most Rev. Bishop Vicente M. Navarra. The election officer ordered the tarpaulin’s removal within three (3) days from receipt for being oversized. COMELEC Resolution No. 9615 provides for the size requirement of two feet (2’) by three feet (3’).9

QUESTION:  Is the order of the COMELEC correct?
ANSWER: No. The main subject of this case is an alleged constitutional violation: the infringement on speech and the "chilling effect" caused by respondent COMELEC’s notice and letter.
The tarpaulin in question may be viewed as producing a caricature of those who are running for public office.Their message may be construed generalizations of very complex individuals and party-list organizations.
They are classified into black and white: as belonging to "Team Patay" or "Team Buhay."
But this caricature, though not agreeable to some, is still protected speech.

That petitioners chose to categorize them as purveyors of death or of life on the basis of a single issue — and a complex piece of legislation at that — can easily be interpreted as anattempt to stereo type the candidates and party-list organizations. Not all may agree to the way their thoughts were expressed, as in fact there are other Catholic dioceses that chose not to follow the example of petitioners.
Some may have thought that there should be more room to consider being more broad-minded and non-judgmental. Some may have expected that the authors would give more space to practice forgiveness and humility.
But, the Bill of Rights enumerated in our Constitution is an enumeration of our fundamental liberties. It is not a detailed code that prescribes good conduct. It provides space for all to be guided by their conscience, not only in the act that they do to others but also in judgment of the acts of others.
Freedom for the thought we can disagree with can be wielded not only by those in the minority. This can often be expressed by dominant institutions, even religious ones. That they made their point dramatically and in a large way does not necessarily mean that their statements are true, or that they have basis, or that they have been expressed in good taste.
Embedded in the tarpaulin, however, are opinions expressed by petitioners. It is a specie of expression protected by our fundamental law. It is an expression designed to invite attention, cause debate, and hopefully, persuade. It may be motivated by the interpretation of petitioners of their ecclesiastical duty, but their parishioner’s actions will have very real secular consequences. Certainly, provocative messages do matter for the elections.
What is involved in this case is the most sacred of speech forms: expression by the electorate that tends to rouse the public to debate contemporary issues. This is not speechby candidates or political parties to entice votes. It is a portion of the electorate telling candidates the conditions for their election. It is the substantive content of the right to suffrage.
This. is a form of speech hopeful of a quality of democracy that we should all deserve. It is protected as a fundamental and primordial right by our Constitution. The expression in the medium chosen by petitioners deserves our protection.

THE DIOCESE OF BACOLOD, REPRESENTED BY THE MOST REV. BISHOP VICENTE M. NAVARRA and THE BISHOP HIMSELF IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY, Petitioners,
vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND THE ELECTION OFFICER OF BACOLOD CITY, ATTY. MAVIL V. MAJARUCON, Respondents. EN BANC,G.R. No. 205728, January 21, 2015