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G.R. No.

1051 May 19, 1903

THE UNITED STATES, complainant-appellee,

FRED L. DORR, ET AL., defendants-appellants.

F. G. Waite for appellants.

Solicitor-General Araneta for appellee.


The defendants have been convicted upon a complaint charging them with the
offense of writing, publishing, and circulating a scurrilous libel against the
Government of the United States and the Insular Government of the Philippine
Islands. The complaint is based upon section 8 of Act No. 292 of the
Commission, which is as follows:

Every person who shall utter seditious words or speeches, write, publish,
or circulate scurrilous libels against the Government of the United States
or the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands, or which tend to
disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in executing his office, or which
tend to instigate others to cabal or meet together for unlawful purposes,
or which suggest or incite rebellious conspiracies or riots, or which tend
to stir up the people against the lawful authorities, or to disturb the
peace of the community, the safety and order of the Government, or who
shall knowingly conceal such evil practices, shall be punished by a fine
not exceeding two thousand dollars or by imprisonment not exceeding
two years, or both, in the discretion of the court.

The alleged libel was published as an editorial in the issue of the "Manila
Freedom" of April 6, 1902, under the caption of "A few hard facts."

The Attorney-General in his brief indicates the following passages of the article
as those upon which he relies to sustain the conviction:

Sidney Adamson, in a late letter in "Leslie's Weekly," has the following to

say of the action of the Civil Commission in appointing rascally natives to
important Government positions:

"It is a strong thing to say, but nevertheless true, that the Civil
Commission, through its ex-insurgent office holders, and by its
continual disregard for the records of natives obtained during the
military rule of the Islands, has, in its distribution of offices,
constituted a protectorate over a set of men who should be in jail
or deported. . . . [Reference is then made to the appointment of one
Tecson as justice of the peace.] This is the kind of foolish work that
the Commission is doing all over the Islands, reinstating
insurgents and rogues and turning down the men who have during
the struggle, at the risk of their lives, aided the Americans."

xxx xxx xxx

There is no doubt but that the Filipino office holders of the Islands are in
a good many instances rascals.

xxx xxx xxx

The commission has exalted to the highest positions in the Islands

Filipinos who are alleged to be notoriously corrupt and rascally, and men
of no personal character.

xxx xxx xxx

Editor Valdez, of "Miau," made serious charges against two of the native
Commissioners — charges against Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, which, if true,
would brand the man as a coward and a rascal, and with what result? . . .
[Reference is then made to the prosecution and conviction of Valdez for libel
"under a law which specifies that the greater the truth the greater the libel."] Is
it the desire of the people of the United States that the natives against whom
these charges have been made (which, if true, absolutely vilify their personal
characters) be permitted to retain their seats on the Civil Commission, the
executive body of the Philippine Government, without an investigation?

xxx xxx xxx

It is a notorious fact that many branches of the Government organized by

the Civil Commission are rotten and corrupt. The fiscal system, upon
which life, liberty, and justice depends, is admitted by the Attorney-
General himself to be most unsatisfactory. It is a fact that the Philippine
judiciary is far from being what it should. Neither fiscals nor judges can
be persuaded to convict insurgents when they wish to protect them.

xxx xxx xxx

Now we hear all sorts of reports as to rottenness existing in the province

[of Tayabas], and especially the northern end of it; it is said that it is
impossible to secure the conviction of lawbreakers and outlaws by the
native justices, or a prosecution by the native fiscals.

xxx xxx xxx

The long and short of it is that Americans will not stand for an arbitrary
government, especially when evidences of carpetbagging and rumors of
graft are too thick to be pleasant.

We do not understand that it is claimed that the defendants succeeded in

establishing at the trial the truth of any of the foregoing statements. The only
question which we have considered is whether their publication constitutes an
offense under section 8 of Act No. 292, above cited.

Several allied offenses or modes of committing the same offense are defined in
that section, viz: (1) The uttering of seditious words or speeches; (2) the writing,
publishing, or circulating of scurrilous libels against the Government of the
United States or the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands; (3) the
writing, publishing, or circulating of libels which tend to disturb or obstruct
any lawful officer in executing his office; (4) or which tend to instigate others to
cabal or meet together for unlawful purposes; (5) or which suggest or incite
rebellious conspiracies or riots; (6) or which tend to stir up the people against
the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community, the safety and
order of the Government; (7) knowingly concealing such evil practices.

The complaint appears to be framed upon the theory that a writing, in order to
be punishable as a libel under this section, must be of a scurrilous nature and
directed against the Government of the United States or the Insular
Government of the Philippine Islands, and must, in addition, tend to some one
of the results enumerated in the section. The article in question is described in
the complaint as "a scurrilous libel against the Government of the United
States and the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands, which tends to
obstruct the lawful officers of the United States and the Insular Government of
the Philippine Islands in the execution of their offices, and which tends to
instigate others to cabal and meet together for unlawful purposes, and which
suggests and incites rebellious conspiracies, and which tends to stir up the
people against the lawful authorities, and which disturbs the safety and order
of the Government of the United States and the Insular Government of the
Philippine Islands." But it is "a well-settled rule in considering indictments that
where an offense may be committed in any of several different modes, and the
offense, in any particular instance, is alleged to have been committed in two or
more modes specified, it is sufficient to prove the offense committed in any one
of them, provided that it be such as to constitute the substantive offense"
(Com. vs. Kneeland, 20 Pick., Mass., 206, 215), and the defendants may,
therefore, be convicted if any one of the substantive charges into which the
complaint may be separated has been made out.

We are all, however, agreed upon the proposition that the article in question
has no appreciable tendency to "disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in
executing his office," or to "instigate" any person or class of persons "to cabal or
meet together for unlawful purposes," or to "suggest or incite rebellious
conspiracies or riots," or to "stir up the people against the lawful authorities or
to disturb the peace of the community, the safety and order of the
Government." All these various tendencies, which are described in section 8 of
Act No. 292, each one of which is made an element of a certain form of libel,
may be characterized in general terms as seditious tendencies. This is
recognized in the description of the offenses punished by this section, which is
found in the title of the act, where they are defined as the crimes of the
"seditious utterances, whether written or spoken."

Excluding from consideration the offense of publishing "scurrilous libels

against the Government of the United States or the Insular Government of the
Philippine Islands," which may conceivably stand on a somewhat different
footing, the offenses punished by this section all consist in inciting, orally or in
writing, to acts of disloyalty or disobedience to the lawfully constituted
authorities in these Islands. And while the article in question, which is, in the
main, a virulent attack against the policy of the Civil Commission in appointing
natives to office, may have had the effect of exciting among certain classes
dissatisfaction with the Commission and its measures, we are unable to
discover anything in it which can be regarded as having a tendency to produce
anything like what may be called disaffection, or, in other words, a state of
feeling incompatible with a disposition to remain loyal to the Government and
obedient to the laws. There can be no conviction, therefore, for any of the
offenses described in the section on which the complaint is based, unless it is
for the offense of publishing a scurrilous libel against the Government of the of
the United States or the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands.

Can the article be regarded as embraced within the description of "scurrilous

libels against the Government of the United States or the Insular Government
of the Philippine Islands?" In the determination of this question we have
encountered great difficulty, by reason of the almost entire lack of American
precedents which might serve as a guide in the construction of the law. There
are, indeed, numerous English decisions, most of them of the eighteenth
century, on the subject of libelous attacks upon the "Government, the
constitution, or the law generally," attacks upon the Houses of Parliament, the
Cabinet, the Established Church, and other governmental organisms, but
these decisions are not now accessible to us, and, if they were, they were made
under such different conditions from those which prevail at the present day,
and are founded upon theories of government so foreign to those which have
inspired the legislation of which the enactment in question forms a part, that
they would probably afford but little light in the present inquiry. In England, in
the latter part of the eighteenth century, any "written censure upon public men
for their conduct as such," as well as any written censure "upon the laws or
upon the institutions of the country," would probably have been regarded as a
libel upon the Government. (2 Stephen, History of the Criminal Law of
England, 348.) This has ceased to be the law in England, and it is doubtful
whether it was ever the common law of any American State. "It is true that
there are ancient dicta to the effect that any publication tending to "possess the
people with an ill opinion of the Government" is a seditious libel ( per Holt, C.
J., in R. vs. Tuchin, 1704, 5 St. Tr., 532, and Ellenborough, C. J., in
R. vs. Cobbett, 1804, 29 How. St. Tr., 49), but no one would accept that
doctrine now. Unless the words used directly tend to foment riot or rebellion or
otherwise to disturb the peace and tranquility of the Kingdom, the utmost
latitude is allowed in the discussion of all public affairs." (11 Enc. of the Laws
of England, 450.) Judge Cooley says (Const. Lim., 528): "The English common
law rule which made libels on the constitution or the government indictable, as
it was administered by the courts, seems to us unsuited to the condition and
circumstances of the people of America, and therefore never to have been
adopted in the several States."

We find no decisions construing the Tennessee statute (Code, sec. 6663), which
is apparently the only existing American statute of a similar character to that
in question, and from which much of the phraseology of then latter appears to
have been taken, though with some essential modifications.

The important question is to determine what is meant in section 8 of Act No.

292 by the expression "the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands." Does
it mean in a general and abstract sense the existing laws and institutions of
the Islands, or does it mean the aggregate of the individuals by whom the
government of the Islands is, for the time being, administered? Either sense
would doubtless be admissible.

We understand, in modern political science, . . . by the term government, that

institution or aggregate of institutions by which an independent society makes
and carries out those rules of action which are unnecessary to enable men to
live in a social state, or which are imposed upon the people forming that society
by those who possess the power or authority of prescribing them. Government
is the aggregate of authorities which rule a society. By "dministration, again, we
understand in modern times, and especially in more or less free countries, the
aggregate of those persons in whose hands the reins of government are for the
time being (the chief ministers or heads of departments)." (Bouvier, Law
Dictionary, 891.) But the writer adds that the terms "government" and
"administration" are not always used in their strictness, and that "government"
is often used for "administration."

In the act of Congress of July 14, 1798, commonly known as the "Sedition Act,"
it is made an offense to "write, print, utter, or published," or to "knowingly and
willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering, or publishing any false,
scandalous, and malicious writing or writings against the Government of the
United States, or either House of the Congress of the United States, or the
President of the United States, with intent to defame the said Government, or
either House of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or
either of them, into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against them or either
or any of them the hatred of the good people of the United States," etc. The
term "government" would appear to be used here in the abstract sense of the
existing political system, as distinguished from the concrete organisms of the
Government — the Houses of Congress and the Executive — which are also
specially mentioned.

Upon the whole, we are of the opinion that this is the sense in which the term
is used in the enactment under consideration.

It may be said that there can be no such thing as a scurrilous libel, or any sort
of a libel, upon an abstraction like the Government in the sense of the laws and
institutions of a country, but we think an answer to this suggestion is that the
expression "scurrilous libel" is not used in section 8 of Act No. 292 in the sense
in which it is used in the general libel law (Act No. 277) — that is, in the sense
of written defamation of individuals — but in the wider sense, in which it is
applied in the common law to blasphemous, obscene, or seditious publications
in which there may be no element of defamation whatever. "The word 'libel' as
popularly used, seems to mean only defamatory words; but words written, if
obscene, blasphemous, or seditious, are technically called libels, and the
publication of them is, by the law of England, an indictable offense."
(Bradlaugh vs. The Queen, 3 Q. B. D., 607, 627, per Bramwell L. J. See
Com. vs. Kneeland, 20 Pick., 206, 211.)

While libels upon forms of government, unconnected with defamation of

individuals, must in the nature of things be of uncommon occurrence, the
offense is by no means an imaginary one. An instance of a prosecution for an
offense essentially of this nature is Republica vs. Dennie, 4 Yeates (Pa.), 267,
where the defendant was indicted "as a factious and seditious person of a
wicked mind and unquiet and turbulent disposition and conversation,
seditiously, maliciously, and willfully intending, as much as in him lay, to bring
into contempt and hatred the independence of the United States, the
constitution of this Commonwealth and of the United States, to excite popular
discontent and dissatisfaction against the scheme of polity instituted, and
upon trial in the said United States and in the said Commonwealth, to molest,
disturb, and destroy the peace and tranquility of the said United States and of
the said Commonwealth, to condemn the principles of the Revolution, and
revile, depreciate, and scandalize the characters of the Revolutionary patriots
and statesmen, to endanger, subvert, and totally destroy the republican
constitutions and free governments of the said United States and this
Commonwealth, to involve the said United States and this Commonwealth in
civil war, desolation, and anarchy, and to procure by art and force a radical
change and alteration in the principles and forms of the said constitutions and
governments, without the free will, wish, and concurrence of the people of the
said United States and this Commonwealth, respectively," the charge being
that "to fulfill, perfect, and bring to effect his wicked, seditious, and detestable
intentions aforesaid he . . . falsely, maliciously, factiously, and seditiously did
make, compose, write, and publish the following libel, to wit; 'A democracy is
scarcely tolerable at any period of national history. Its omens are always
sinister and its powers are unpropitious. With all the lights or experience
blazing before our eyes, it is impossible not to discover the futility of this form
of government. It was weak and wicked at Athens, it was bad in Sparta, and
worse in Rome. It has been tried in France and terminated in despotism. it was
tried in England and rejected with the utmost loathing and abhorrence. It is on
its trial here and its issue will be civil war, desolation, and anarchy. No wise
man but discerns its imperfections; no good man but shudders at its miseries;
no honest man but proclaims its fraud, and no brave man but draws his sword
against its force. The institution of a scheme of polity so radically contemptible
and vicious is a memorable example of what the villainy of some men can
devise, the folly of others receive, and both establish, in despite of reason,
reflection, and sensation.'"

An attack upon the lawfully established system of civil government in the

Philippine Islands, like that which Dennie was accused of making upon the
republican form of government lawfully established in the United States and in
the State of Pennsylvania would, we think, if couched in scandalous language,
constitute the precise offense described in section 8 of Act No. 292 as a
scurrilous libel against the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands.

Defamation of individuals, whether holding official positions or not, and

whether directed to their public conduct or to their private life, may always be
adequately punished under the general libel law. Defamation of the Civil
Commission as an aggregation, it being "a body of persons definite and small
enough for its individual members to be recognized as such" (Stephen, Digest
of the Criminal Law, art. 277), as well as defamation of any of the individual
members of the Commission or of the Civil Governor, either in his public
capacity or as a private individual, may be so punished. The general libel law
enacted by the Commission was in force when Act No. 292, was passed. There
was no occasion for any further legislation on the subject of libels against the
individuals by whom the Insular Government is administered — against the
Insular Government in the sense of the aggregate of such individuals. There
was occasion for stringent legislation against seditious words or libels, and that
is the main if not the sole purpose of the section under consideration. It is not
unreasonable to suppose that the Commission, in enacting this section, may
have conceived of attacks of a malignant or scurrilous nature upon the existing
political system of the United States, or the political system established in
these Islands by the authority of the United States, as necessarily of a seditious
tendency, but it is not so reasonable to suppose that they conceived of attacks
upon the personnel of the government as necessarily tending to sedition. Had
this been their view it seems probable that they would, like the framers of the
Sedition Act of 1798, have expressly and specifically mentioned the various
public officials and collegiate governmental bodies defamation of which they
meant to punish as sedition.
The article in question contains no attack upon the governmental system of the
United States, and it is quite apparent that, though grossly abusive as respects
both the Commission as a body and some of its individual members, it
contains no attack upon the governmental system by which the authority of
the United States is enforced in these Islands. The form of government by a
Civil Commission and a Civil Governor is not assailed. It is the character of the
men who are intrusted with the administration of the government that the
writer is seeking to bring into disrepute by impugning the purity of their
motives, their public integrity, and their private morals, and the wisdom of
their policy. The publication of the article, therefore, no seditious tendency
being apparent, constitutes no offense under Act No. 292, section 8.

The judgment of conviction is reversed and the defendants are acquitted, with
costs de oficio.

G.R. No. L-2044 August 26, 1949

J. ANTONIO ARANETA, petitioner,

RAFAEL DINGLASAN, Judge of First Instance of Manila, and JOSE P.
BENGZON, Fiscal of City of Manila, respondents.


G.R. No. L-2756 August 26, 1949


EUGENIO ANGELES, Fiscal of City of Manila, respondent.


G.R. No. L-3054 August 26, 1949

EULOGIO RODRIGUEZ, Sr., por si y como Presidente del Partido

Nacionalista, recurrente,


G.R. No. L-3055 August 26, 1949

LEON MA. GURRERO, petitioner,

INDUSTRY, respondents.


G.R. No. L-3056 August 26, 1949

ANTONIO BARREDO, in his own behalf and on behalf of all taxpayers

similarly situated, petitioner,

Paredes, Diaz and Poblador, Jesus G. Barrera, Vicente Hilado, and Araneta and
Araneta for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General Felix Bautista Angelo, Assistant Solicitor General
Ruperto Kapunan, Jr., Solicitor Martiniano P. Vico and Assistant City Fiscal Julio
Villamor for respondents.
Claro M. Recto and Padilla, Carlos and Fernando as amici curiae.

Araneta and Araneta and Jesus G. Barrera for petitioners.
Assistant City Fiscal Luis B. Reyes for respondent.
Claro M. Recto as amici curiae.

Claro M. Recto, Ramon Diokno, Jose O. Vera, Alejo Mabanag, Jose B. Laurel, Jr.
and Antonio Barredo for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General Felix Bautista Angelo for respondent.
Vicente de Vera, Chairman, Commission on Elections.
Alfonso Ponce Enrile, Alva J. Hill and Honorio Poblador, Jr. and Emiliano R.
Navarro as amici curiae.
Jesus G. Barrera, Enrique M. Fernando, Ramon Sunico, and Francisco A. Rodrigo
also as amici curiae.

Claro M. Recto and Leon Ma. Guerrero for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General Felix Bautista Angelo for respondents.
V. G. Bunuan, Administrator, Sugar Quota Office.
Jesus G. Barrera, Felixberto M. Serrano, Enrique; Honorio Poblador, Jr. and
Emiliano R. Navarro as amici curiae.

Claro M. Recto and Antonio Barredo for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General Felix Bautista Angelo for respondents.
Vicente de Vera, Chairman, Commission on Elections.
Alfonso Ponce Enrile, Alva J. Hill, Jesus G. Barrera, Enrique M. Fernando, Ramon
Sunico and Francisco A. Rodrigo; Honorio Poblador, Jr. and Emiliano R. Navarro
as amici curiae.


Three of these cases were consolidated for argument and the other two were
argued separately on other dates. Inasmuch as all of them present the same
fundamental question which, in our view, is decisive, they will be disposed of
jointly. For the same reason we will pass up the objection to the personality or
sufficiency of interest of the petitioners in case G. R. No. L-3054 and case G. R.
No. L-3056 and the question whether prohibition lies in cases Nos. L-2044 and
L-2756. No practical benefit can be gained from a discussion of the procedural
matters since the decision in the cases wherein the petitioners' cause of action
or the propriety of the procedure followed is not in dispute, will be controlling
authority on the others. Above all, the transcendental importance to the public
of these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing
aside, if we must, technicalities of procedure. (Avelino vs. Cuenco, G. R. No. L-
2821.) The petitions challenge the validity of executive orders of the President
avowedly issued in virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 671. Involved in cases Nos.
L-2044 and L-2756 is Executive Order No. 62, which regulates rentals for
houses and lots for residential buildings. The petitioner, J. Antonio Araneta, is
under prosecution in the Court of First Instance of Manila for violation of the
provisions of this Executive Order, and prays for the issuance of the writ of
prohibition to the judge and the city fiscal. Involved in case L-3055 is Executive
Order No. 192, which aims to control exports from the Philippines. In this case,
Leon Ma. Guerrero seeks a writ of mandamus to compel the Administrator of
the Sugar Quota Office and the Commissioner of Customs to permit the
exportation of shoes by the petitioner. Both official refuse to issue the required
export license on the ground that the exportation of shoes from the Philippines
is forbidden by this Executive Order. Case No. L-3054 relates to Executive
Order No. 225, which appropriates funds for the operation of the Government
of the Republic of the Philippines during the period from July 1, 1949 to June
30, 1950, and for other purposes. The petitioner Eulogio Rodriguez, Sr., as a
tax-payer, an elector, and president of the Nacionalista Party, applies for a writ
of prohibition to restrain the Treasurer of the Philippines from disbursing this
Executive Order. Affected in case No. L-3056 is Executive Order No. 226, which
appropriates P6,000,000 to defray the expenses in connection with, and
incidental to, the hold lug of the national elections to be held in November,
1949. The petitioner, Antonio Barredo, as a citizen, tax-payer and voter, asks
this Court to prevent "the respondents from disbursing, spending or otherwise
disposing of that amount or any part of it."

Notwithstanding allegations in the petitions assailing the constitutionally of Act

No. 671, the petitioners do not press the point in their oral argument and
memorandum. They rest their case chiefly on the proposition that the
Emergency Powers Act (Commonwealth Act No. 671) has ceased to have any
force and effect. This is the basic question we have referred to, and it is to this
question that we will presently address ourselves and devote greater attention.
For the purpose of this decision, only, the constitutionality of Act No. 671 will
be taken for granted, and any dictum or statement herein which may appear
contrary to that hypothesis should be understood as having been made merely
in furtherance of the main thesis.

Act No. 671 in full is as follows:



Be it enacted by the National Assembly of the Philippines:

SECTION 1. The existence of war between the United States and other
countries of Europe and Asia, which involves the Philippines, makes it
necessary to invest the President with extraordinary powers in order to
meet the resulting emergency.

"SEC. 2. Pursuant to the provisions of Article VI, section 26, of the

Constitution, the President is hereby authorized, during the existence of
the emergency, to promulgate such rules and regulations as he may
deem necessary to carry out the national policy declared in section 1
hereof. Accordingly, he is, among other things, empowered (a) to transfer
the seat of the Government or any of its subdivisions, branches,
departments, offices, agencies or instrumentalities; (b) to reorganize the
Government of the Commonwealth including the determination of the
order of precedence of the heads of the Executive Department; (c) to
create new subdivisions, branches, departments, agencies or
instrumentalities of government and to abolish any of those already
existing; (d) to continue in force laws and appropriations which would
lapse or otherwise become inoperative, and to modify or suspend the
operation or application of those of an administrative character; (e) to
impose new taxes or to increase, reduce, suspend or abolish those in
existence; (f) to raise funds through the issuance of bonds or otherwise,
and to authorize the expenditure of the proceeds thereof; (g) to authorize
the national, provincial, city or municipal governments to incur in
overdrafts for purposes that he may approve; (h) to declare the
suspension of the collection of credits or the payment of debts; and (i) to
exercise such other powers as he may deem to enable the Government to
fulfill its responsibities and to maintain and enforce the authority.
SEC. 3. The President of the Philippines shall as soon as practicable
upon the convening of the Congress of the Philippines report thereto all
the rules and regulations promulgated by him under the powers herein

SEC. 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval and the rules and
regulations promulgated hereunder shall be in force and effect until the
Congress of the Philippines shall otherwise provide.

Section 26 of Article VI of the Constitution provides:

In time of war or other national emergency, the Congress may by law

authorize the President, for a limited period and subject to such
restrictions as it may prescribe, to promulgate rules and regulations to
carry out a declared national policy.

Commonwealth Act No. 671 does not in term fix the duration of its
effectiveness. The intention of the Act has to be sought for in its nature, the
object to be accomplish, the purpose to be subserved, and its relation to the
Constitution. The consequences of the various constructions offered will also
be resorted to as additional aid to interpretation. We test a rule by its results.

Article VI of the Constitution provides that any law passed by virtue thereof
should be "for a limited period." "Limited" has been defined to mean "restricted;
bounded; prescribed; confined within positive bounds; restrictive in duration,
extent or scope." (Encyclopedia Law Dictionary, 3rd ed., 669; Black's Law
Dictionary, 3rd ed., 1120.) The words "limited period" as used in the
Constitution are beyond question intended to mean restrictive in duration.
Emergency, in order to justify the delegation of emergency powers, "must be
temporary or it can not be said to be an emergency." (First Trust Joint Stock
Land Bank of Chicago vs. Adolph P. Arp, et al., 120 A. L. R., 937, 938.).

It is to be presumed that Commonwealth Act No. 671 was approved with this
limitation in view. The opposite theory would make the law repugnant to the
Constitution, and is contrary to the principle that the legislature is deemed to
have full knowledge of the constitutional scope of its powers. The assertion that
new legislation is needed to repeal the act would not be in harmony with the
Constitution either. If a new and different law were necessary to terminate the
delegation, the period for the delegation, it has been correctly pointed out,
would be unlimited, indefinite, negative and uncertain; "that which was
intended to meet a temporary emergency may become permanent law,"
(Peck vs. Fink, 2 Fed. [2d], 912); for Congress might not enact the repeal, and
even if it would, the repeal might not meet the approval of the President, and
the Congress might not be able to override the veto. Furthermore, this would
create the anomaly that, while Congress might delegate its powers by simple
majority, it might not be able to recall them except by a two-third vote. In other
words, it would be easier for Congress to delegate its powers than to take them
back. This is not right and is not, and ought not to be, the law. Corwin,
President: Office and Powers, 1948 ed., p. 160, says:

It is generally agreed that the maxim that the legislature may not
delegate its powers signifies at the very least that the legislature may not
abdicate its powers: Yet how, in view of the scope that legislative
delegations take nowadays, is the line between delegation and abdication
to be maintained? Only, I urge, by rendering the delegated powers
recoverable without the consent of the delegate; . . . .

Section 4 goes far to settle the legislative intention of this phase of Act No. 671.
Section 4 stipulates that "the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder
shall be in full force and effect until the Congress of the Philippines shall
otherwise provide." The silence of the law regarding the repeal of the authority
itself, in the face of the express provision for the repeal of the rules and
regulations issued in pursuance of it, a clear manifestation of the belief held by
the National Assembly that there was no necessity to provide for the former. It
would be strange if having no idea about the time the Emergency Powers Act
was to be effective the National Assemble failed to make a provision for this
termination in the same way that it did for the termination of the effects and
incidents of the delegation. There would be no point in repealing or annulling
the rules and regulations promulgated under a law if the law itself was to
remain in force, since, in that case, the President could not only make new
rules and regulations but he could restore the ones already annulled by the

More anomalous than the exercise of legislative function by the Executive when
Congress is in the unobstructed exercise of its authority is the fact that there
would be two legislative bodies operating over the same field, legislating
concurrently and simultaneously, mutually nullifying each other's actions.
Even if the emergency powers of the President, as suggested, be suspended
while Congress was in session and be revived after each adjournment, the
anomaly would not be limited. Congress by a two-third vote could repeal
executive orders promulgated by the President during congressional recess,
and the President in turn could treat in the same manner, between sessions of
Congress, laws enacted by the latter. This is not a fantastic apprehension; in
two instances it materialized. In entire good faith, and inspired only by the best
interests of the country as they saw them, a former President promulgated an
executive order regulating house rentals after he had vetoed a bill on the
subject enacted by Congress, and the present Chief Executive issued an
executive order on export control after Congress had refused to approve the

Quiet apart from these anomalies, there is good basis in the language of Act
No. 671 for the inference that the National Assembly restricted the life of the
emergency powers of the President to the time the Legislature was prevented
from holding sessions due to enemy action or other causes brought on by the
war. Section 3 provides:

The President of the Philippines shall as soon as practicable upon the

convening of the Congress of the Philippines report thereto all the rules
and regulations promulgated by him under the powers herein granted.

The clear tenor of this provision is that there was to be only one meeting of
Congress at which the President was to give an account of his trusteeship. The
section did not say each meeting, which it could very well have said if that had
been the intention. If the National Assembly did not think that the report in
section 3 was to be the first and last Congress Act No. 671 would lapsed, what
reason could there be for its failure to provide in appropriate and clear terms
for the filing of subsequent reports? Such reports, if the President was expected
to continue making laws in the forms of rules, regulations and executive
orders, were as important, of as unimportant, as the initial one.

As a contemporary construction, President Quezon's statement regarding the

duration of Act No. 671 is enlightening and should carry much weight,
considering his part in the passage and in the carrying out of the law. Mr.
Quezon, who called the National Assembly to a special session, who
recommended the enactment of the Emergency Powers Act, if indeed he was
not its author, and who was the very President to be entrusted with its
execution, stated in his autobiography, "The Good Fight," that Act No. 671 was
only "for a certain period" and "would become invalid unless reenacted." These
phrases connote automatical extinction of the law upon the conclusion of a
certain period. Together they denote that a new legislation was necessary to
keep alive (not to repeal) the law after the expiration of that period. They signify
that the same law, not a different one, had to be repassed if the grant should
be prolonged.

What then was the contemplated period? President Quezon in the same
paragraph of his autobiography furnished part of the answer. He said he issued
the call for a special session of the National Assembly "when it became evident
that we were completely helpless against air attack, and that it was most
unlikely the Philippine Legislature would hold its next regular session which
was to open on January 1, 1942." (Emphasis ours.) It can easily be discerned
in this statement that the conferring of enormous powers upon the President
was decided upon with specific view to the inability of the National Assembly to
meet. Indeed no other factor than this inability could have motivated the
delegation of powers so vast as to amount to an abdication by the National
Assembly of its authority. The enactment and continuation of a law so
destructive of the foundations of democratic institutions could not have been
conceived under any circumstance short of a complete disruption and
dislocation of the normal processes of government. Anyway, if we are to uphold
the constitutionality of the act on the basis of its duration, we must start with
the premise that it fixed a definite, limited period. As we have indicated, the
period that best comports with constitutional requirements and limitations,
with the general context of the law and with what we believe to be the main if
not the sole raison d'etre for its enactment, was a period coextensive with the
inability of Congress to function, a period ending with the conventing of that

It is our considered opinion, and we so hold, that Commonwealth Act No. 671
became inoperative when Congress met in regular session on May 25, 1946,
and that Executive Orders Nos. 62, 192, 225 and 226 were issued without
authority of law. In setting the session of Congress instead of the first special
session preceded it as the point of expiration of the Act, we think giving effect
to the purpose and intention of the National Assembly. In a special session, the
Congress may "consider general legislation or only such as he (President) may
designate." (Section 9, Article VI of the Constitution.) In a regular session, the
power Congress to legislate is not circumscribed except by the limitations
imposed by the organic law.

Having arrived at this conclusion, we are relieved of the necessity of deciding

the question as to which department of government is authorized to inquire
whether the contingency on which the law is predicated still exists. The right of
one or another department to declare the emergency terminated is not in issue.
As a matter of fact, we have endeavored to find the will of the National
Assembly—call that will, an exercise of the police power or the war power —
and, once ascertained, to apply it. Of course, the function of interpreting
statutes in proper cases, as in this, will not be denied the courts as their
constitutional prerogative and duty. In so far as it is insinuated that the Chief
Executive has the exclusive authority to say that war not ended, and may act
on the strength of his opinion and findings in contravention of the law as the
courts have construed it, no legal principle can be found to support the
proposition. There is no pretense that the President has independent or
inherent power to issue such executive orders as those under review. we take it
that the respondents, in sustaining the validity of these executive orders rely
on Act No. 600, Act No. 620, or Act No. 671 of the former Commonwealth and
on no other source. To put it differently, the President's authority in this
connection is purely statutory, in no sense political or directly derived from the

Act No. 671, as we have stressed, ended ex proprio vigore with the opening of
the regular session of Congress on May 25, 1946. Acts Nos. 600 and 620
contain stronger if not conclusive indication that they were self-liquidating. By
express provision the rules and regulations to be eventually made in pursuance
of Acts Nos. 600 and 620, respectively approved on August 19, 1940 and June
6, 1941, were to be good only up to the corresponding dates of adjournment of
the following sessions of the Legislature, "unless sooner amended or repealed
by the National Assembly." The logical deduction to be drawn from this
provision is that in the mind of the lawmakers the idea was fixed that the Acts
themselves would lapse not latter than the rules and regulations. The design to
provide for the automatic repeal of those rules and regulations necessarily was
predicated on the consciousness of a prior or at best simultaneous repeal of
their source. Were not this the case, there would arise the curious spectacle,
already painted, and easily foreseen, of the Legislature amending or repealing
rules and regulations of the President while the latter was empowered to keep
or return them into force and to issue new ones independently of the National
Assembly. For the rest, the reasoning heretofore adduced against the asserted
indefinite continuance of the operation of Act No. 671 equally applies to Acts
Nos. 600 and 620.

The other corollary of the opinion we have reached is that the question whether
war, in law or in fact, continues, is irrelevant. If we were to that actual
hostilities between the original belligerents are still raging, the elusion would
not be altered. After the convening of Congress new legislation had to be
approved if the continuation of the emergency powers, or some of them, was
desired. In the light of the conditions surrounding the approval of the
Emergency Power Act, we are of the opinion that the "state of total emergency
as a result of war" envisaged in the preamble referred to the impending
invasion and occupation of the Philippines by the enemy and the consequent
total disorganization of the Government, principally the impossibility for the
National Assembly to act. The state of affairs was one which called for
immediate action and with which the National Assembly would would not be
able to cope. The war itself and its attendant chaos and calamities could not
have necessitated the delegation had the National Assembly been in a position
to operate.

After all the criticism that have been made against the efficiency of the system
of the separation of powers, the fact remains that the Constitution has set up
this form of government, with all its defects and shortcomings, in preference to
the commingling of powers in one man or group of men. The Filipino people by
adopting parliamentary government have given notice that they share the faith
of other democracy-loving people in this system, with all its faults, as the ideal.
The point is, under this framework of government, legislation is preserved for
Congress all the time, not expecting periods of crisis no matter how serious.
Never in the history of the United States, the basic features of whose
Constitution have been copied in ours, have the specific functions of the
legislative branch of enacting laws been surrendered to another department —
unless we regard as legislating the carrying out of a legislative policy according
to prescribed standards; no, not even when that Republic was fighting a total
war, or when it was engaged in a life-and-death struggle to preserve the Union.
The truth is that under our concept of constitutional government, in times of
extreme perils more than in normal circumstances "the various branches,
executive, legislative, and judicial," given the ability to act, are called upon "to
the duties and discharge the responsibilities committed to them respectively."

These observations, though beyond the issue as formulated in this decision,

may, we trust, also serve to answer the vehement plea that for the good of the
Nation, the President should retain his extraordinary powers as long asturmoil
and other ills directly or indirectly traceable to the late war harass the

Upon the foregoing considerations, the petitions will be granted. In order to

avoid any possible disruption and interruption in the normal operation of the
Government, we have deemed it best to depart in these cases from the ordinary
rule to the period for the effectivity of decisions, and to decree, as it is hereby
decreed, that this decision take effect fifteen days from the date of the entry of
final judgment provided in section 8 of Rule 53 of the Rules of Court in relation
to section 2 of Rule 35. No costs will be charged.

G.R. No. L-2089 October 31, 1949

JUSTA G. GUIDO, petitioner,

Rural Progress Administration, respondent.

Guillermo B. Guevara for petitioner.

Luis M. Kasilag and Lorenzo B. Vizconde for respondent.


This a petition for prohibition to prevent the Rural Progress Administration and
Judge Oscar Castelo of the Court of First Instance of Rizal from proceeding
with the expropriation of the petitioner Justa G. Guido's land, two adjoining
lots, part commercial, with a combined area of 22,655 square meters, situated
in Maypajo, Caloocan, Rizal, just outside the north Manila boundary, on the
main street running from this city to the north. Four grounds are adduced in
support of the petition, to wit:

(1) That the respondent RPA (Rural Progress Administration) acted

without jurisdiction or corporate power in filling the expropriation
complaint and has no authority to negotiate with the RFC a loan of
P100,000 to be used as part payment of the value of the land.
(2) That the land sought to be expropriated is commercial and therefore
excluded within the purview of the provisions of Act 539.

(3) That majority of the tenants have entered with the petitioner valid
contracts for lease, or option to buy at an agreed price, and expropriation
would impair those existing obligation of contract.

(4) That respondent Judge erred in fixing the provisional value of the
land at P118,780 only and in ordering its delivery to the respondent RPA.

We will take up only ground No. 2. Our conclusion on this branch of the case
will make superfluous a decision on the other questions raised.

Sections 1 and 2 of Commonwealth Act No. 539, copied verbatim, are as


SECTION 1. The President of the Philippines is authorized to acquire

private lands or any interest therein, through purchaser or farms for
resale at reasonable prices and under such conditions as he may fix to
their bona fide tenants or occupants or to private individuals who will
work the lands themselves and who are qualified to acquire and own
lands in the Philippines.

SEC. 2. The President may designated any department, bureau, office, or

instrumentality of the National Government, or he may organize a new
agency to carry out the objectives of this Act. For this purpose, the
agency so created or designated shall be considered a public corporation.

The National Assembly approved this enactment on the authority of section 4

of Article XIII of the Constitution which, copied verbatim, is as follows:

The Congress may authorize, upon payment of just compensation, the

expropriation of lands to be subdivided into small lots and conveyed at
cost to individuals.

What lands does this provision have in view? Does it comprehend all lands
regardless of their location, nature and area? The answer is to be found in the
explanatory statement of Delegate Miguel Cuaderno, member of the
Constitutional Convention who was the author or sponsor of the above-quoted
provision. In this speech, which was entitled "Large Estates and Trust in
Perpetuity" and is transcribed in full in Aruego's "The Framing of the Philippine
Constitution," Mr. Cuaderno said:

There has been an impairment of public tranquility, and to be sure a

continuous of it, because of the existence of these conflicts. In our
folklore the oppression and exploitation of the tenants are vividly referred
to; their sufferings at the hand of the landlords are emotionally pictured
in our drama; and even in the native movies and talkies of today, this
theme of economic slavery has been touched upon. In official documents
these same conflicts are narrated and exhaustively explained as a threat
to social order and stability.

But we should go to Rizal inspiration and illumination in this problem of

this conflicts between landlords and tenants. The national hero and his
family were persecuted because of these same conflicts in Calamba, and
Rizal himself met a martyr's death because of his exposal of the cause of
the tenant class, because he would not close his eyes to oppression and
persecution with his own people as victims.lawphi1.nêt

I ask you, gentlemen of the Convention, knowing this as you do and

feeling deeply as you must feel a regret over the immolation of the hero's
life, would you not write in the Constitution the provision on large
estates and trust in perpetuity, so that you would be the very instrument
of Providence to complete the labors of Rizal to insure domestic
tranquility for the masses of our people?

If we are to be true to our trust, if it is our purpose in drafting our

constitution to insure domestic tranquility and to provide for the well-
being of our people, we cannot, we must fail to prohibit the ownership of
large estates, to make it the duty of the government to break up existing
large estates, and to provide for their acquisition by purchase or through
expropriation and sale to their occupants, as has been provided in the
Constitutions of Mexico and Jugoslavia.

No amendment was offered and there was no debate. According to Dean

Aruego, Mr. Cuaderno's resolution was readily and totally approved by the
Convention. Mr. Cuaderno's speech therefore may be taken as embodying the
intention of the framers of the organic law, and Act No. 539 should be
construed in a manner consonant with that intention. It is to be presumed that
the National Assembly did not intend to go beyond the constitutional scope of
its powers.

There are indeed powerful considerations, aside from the intrinsic meaning of
section 4 of Article XIII of the Constitution, for interpreting Act No. 539 in a
restrictive sense. Carried to extremes, this Act would be subversive of the
Philippine political and social structure. It would be in derogation of individual
rights and the time-honored constitutional guarantee that no private property
of law. The protection against deprivation of property without due process for
public use without just compensation occupies the forefront positions
(paragraph 1 and 2) in the Bill for private use relieves the owner of his property
without due process of law; and the prohibition that "private property should
not be taken for public use without just compensation" (Section 1 [par. 2],
Article III, of the Constitution) forbids necessary implication the appropriation
of private property for private uses (29 C.J.S., 819). It has been truly said that
the assertion of the right on the part of the legislature to take the property of
and citizen and transfer it to another, even for a full compensation, when the
public interest is not promoted thereby, is claiming a despotic power, and one
inconsistent with very just principle and fundamental maxim of a free
government. (29 C.J.S., 820.)

Hand in hand with the announced principle, herein invoked, that "the
promotion of social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all
the people should be the concern of the state," is a declaration, with which the
former should be reconciled, that "the Philippines is a Republican state"
created to secure to the Filipino people "the blessings of independence under a
regime of justice, liberty and democracy." Democracy, as a way of life enshrined
in the Constitution, embraces as its necessary components freedom of
conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom in the pursuit of happiness.
Along with these freedoms are included economic freedom and freedom of
enterprise within reasonable bounds and under proper control. In paving the
way for the breaking up of existing large estates, trust in perpetuity, feudalism,
and their concomitant evils, the Constitution did not propose to destroy or
undermine the property right or to advocate equal distribution of wealth or to
authorize of what is in excess of one's personal needs and the giving of it to
another. Evincing much concern for the protection of property, the
Constitution distinctly recognize the preferred position which real estate has
occupied in law for ages. Property is bound up with every aspects of social life
in a democracy as democracy is conceived in the Constitution. The
Constitution owned in reasonable quantities and used legitimately, plays in the
stimulation to economic effort and the formation and growth of a social middle
class that is said to be the bulwark of democracy and the backbone of every
progressive and happy country.

The promotion of social justice ordained by the Constitution does not supply
paramount basis for untrammeled expropriation of private land by the Rural
Progress Administration or any other government instrumentality. Social
justice does not champion division of property or equality of economic status;
what it and the Constitution do guaranty are equality of opportunity, equality
of political rights, equality before the law, equality between values given and
received on the basis of efforts exerted in their production. As applied to
metropolitan centers, especially Manila, in relation to housing problems, it is a
command to devise, among other social measures, ways and means for the
elimination of slums, shambles, shacks, and house that are dilapidated,
overcrowded, without ventilation. light and sanitation facilities, and for the
construction in their place of decent dwellings for the poor and the destitute.
As will presently be shown, condemnation of blighted urban areas bears direct
relation to public safety health, and/or morals, and is legal.
In reality, section 4 of Article XIII of the Constitution is in harmony with the
Bill of Rights. Without that provision the right of eminent domain, inherent in
the government, may be exercised to acquire large tracts of land as a means
reasonably calculated to solve serious economic and social problem. As Mr.
Aruego says "the primary reason" for Mr. Cuaderno's recommendation was "to
remove all doubts as to the power of the government to expropriation the then
existing landed estates to be distributed at costs to the tenant-dwellers thereof
in the event that in the future it would seem such expropriation necessary to
the solution of agrarian problems therein."

In a broad sense, expropriation of large estates, trusts in perpetuity, and land

that embraces a whole town, or a large section of a town or city, bears direct
relation to the public welfare. The size of the land expropriated, the large
number of people benefited, and the extent of social and economic reform
secured by the condemnation, clothes the expropriation with public interest
and public use. The expropriation in such cases tends to abolish economic
slavery, feudalistic practices, and other evils inimical to community prosperity
and contentment and public peace and order. Although courts are not in
agreement as to the tests to be applied in determining whether the use is
public or not, some go far in the direction of a liberal construction as to hold
that public advantage, and to authorize the exercise of the power of eminent
domain to promote such public benefit, etc., especially where the interest
involved are considerable magnitude. (29 C.J.S., 823, 824. See also People of
Puerto Rico vs. Eastern Sugar Associates, 156 Fed. [2nd], 316.) In some
instances, slumsites have been acquired by condemnation. The highest court of
New York States has ruled that slum clearance and reaction of houses for low-
income families were public purposes for which New York City Housing
authorities could exercise the power of condemnation. And this decision was
followed by similar ones in other states. The underlying reasons for these
decisions are that the destruction of congested areas and insanitary dwellings
diminishes the potentialities of epidemic, crime and waste, prevents the spread
of crime and diseases to unaffected areas, enhances the physical and moral
value of the surrounding communities, and promotes the safety and welfare of
the public in general. (Murray vs. La Guardia, 52 N.E. [2nd], 884; General
Development Coop. vs. City of Detroit, 33 N.W. [2ND], 919;
Weizner vs. Stichman, 64 N.Y.S. [2nd], 50.) But it will be noted that in all these
case and others of similar nature extensive areas were involved and numerous
people and the general public benefited by the action taken.

The condemnation of a small property in behalf of 10, 20 or 50 persons and

their families does not inure to the benefit of the public to a degree sufficient to
give the use public character. The expropriation proceedings at bar have been
instituted for the economic relief of a few families devoid of any consideration of
public health, public peace and order, or other public advantage. What is
proposed to be done is to take plaintiff's property, which for all we know she
acquired by sweat and sacrifice for her and her family's security, and sell it at
cost to a few lessees who refuse to pay the stipulated rent or leave the

No fixed line of demarcation between what taking is for public use and what is
not can be made; each case has to be judge according to its peculiar
circumstances. It suffices to say for the purpose of this decision that the case
under consideration is far wanting in those elements which make for public
convenience or public use. It is patterned upon an ideology far removed from
that consecrated in our system of government and embraced by the majority of
the citizens of this country. If upheld, this case would open the gates to more
oppressive expropriations. If this expropriation be constitutional, we see no
reason why a 10-, 15-, or 25-hectare farm land might not be expropriated and
subdivided, and sold to those who want to own a portion of it. To make the
analogy closer, we find no reason why the Rural Progress Administration could
not take by condemnation an urban lot containing an area of 1,000 or 2,000
square meters for subdivision into tiny lots for resale to its occupants or those
who want to build thereon.

The petition is granted without special findings as to costs.

G.R. No. 113630 May 5, 1994


HON. ROBERTO C. DIOKNO, Presiding Judge, Br. 62, Regional Trial Court,
Makati, Metro Manila, and PRESIDENTIAL ANTI-CRIME
COMMISSION, respondents.


On balance at the fulcrum once again are the intrinsic right of the State to
prosecute perceived transgressors of the law, which can be regulated, and the
innate value of human liberty, which can hardly be weighed.

Some twelve years ago we were confronted with a similar problem when former
Senator Jovito R. Salonga invoked before this Court his "right to life and liberty
guaranteed by the due process clause, alleging that no prima facie case has
been established to warrant the filing of an information for subversion against
him."1 We resolved the issue then and sustained him. He is now back before
us, this time as counsel pleading the cause of petitioners herein who, he
claims, are in a situation far worse than his predicament twelve (12) years ago.
He postulates that no probable cause likewise exists in this case, and what is
worse is that no bail is recommended.

This petition gives us an opportunity to revisit the concept and implication of

probable cause, the existence of which is necessary for the prosecutor to have
an accused held for trial and for a trial judge to issue a warrant for his arrest.
It is mandatory therefore that there be probable cause before an information is
filed and a warrant of arrest issued. Unfortunately, however, at times a
criminal case is filed, a warrant of arrest issued and a person consequently
incarcerated on unsubstantiated allegations that only feign probable cause.

Petitioners Diosdado Jose Allado and Roberto L. Mendoza, alumni of the

College of Law, University of the Philippines, are partners of the Law Firm of
Salonga, Hernandez and Allado. In the practice of their profession, and on the
basis of an alleged extrajudicial confession of a security guard, they have been
accused of the heinous crime of kidnapping with murder by the Presidential
Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) and ordered arrested without bail by
respondent judge.

The focal source of the information against petitioners is the sworn statement
dated 16 September 1993 of Security Guard Escolastico Umbal, a discharge of
the Philippine Constabulary, implicating them as the brains behind the alleged
kidnapping and slaying of one Eugen Alexander Van Twest, a German
national. 2 In that extrajudicial confession, Umbal claimed that he and his
companions were met by petitioners at Silahis Hotel and in exchange for P2.5M
the former undertook to apprehend Van Twest who allegedly had an
international warrant of arrest against him. Thus, on 16 June 1992, after
placing him under surveillance for nearly a month, Umbal, Ex-policeman
Rolando Gamatero, AFPCIG Agent Roberto Santiago and SPO2 Sergio Antonino
abducted Van Twest. They blocked his blue Nissan Pathfinder under the
Alabang overpass and forced him into their car. They brought him to a "safe
house" just behind the New Bilibid Prisons. Umbal was tasked to watch over
their quarry. After four (4) days, Gamatero, Santiago and Antonino returned to
the "safe house" together with petitioners and SPO2 Roger Bato, known to
Umbal also as "Batok." SPO2 Bato faked the interrogation of Van Twest,
pretending it was official, and then made him sign certain documents. The
following day, Gamatero shot Van Twest in the chest with a baby armalite, after
which Antonino stabbed him repeatedly, cut off his private part, and later
burned his cadaver into fine ashes using gasoline and rubber tires. Umbal
could not recall the exact date when the incident happened, but he was certain
it was about a year ago.

A day after Umbal executed his extrajudicial confession, the operatives of the
PACC, armed with a search warrant issued by Judge Roberto A. Barrios of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Br. 11, 3separately raided the two (2) dwellings
of Santiago, one located at No. 7 Sangley Street, and the other, along
Amalingan Street, both in Green Heights Subdivision, Parañaque. The raiders
recovered a blue Nissan Pathfinder and assorted firearms and ammunition and
placed Santiago and his trusted aide, Efren Madolid, under arrest. Also
arrested later that day were Antonio and Bato who were found to have in their
possession several firearms and ammunition and Van Twest's Cartier

After evaluating the pieces of evidence gathered by PACC operatives, Sr., Supt.
Panfilo Lacson, Chief of PACC Task Force Habagat, referred the case to the
Department of Justice for the institution of criminal proceedings against
AFPCIG Agent Roberto Santiago, SPO1 Sergio Antonino, SPO2 Roger Bato, Ex-
policeman Rolando Gamatero, Efren Madolid, and petitioners herein, Atty.
Diosdado Jose Allado and Atty. Roberto L. Mendoza, for illegal possession of
firearms and ammunition, carnapping, kidnapping for ransom with murder,
and usurpation of authority. 4 In his letter to the State Prosecutor dated 17
September 1993, Sr. Supt. Lacson charged that —

Atty. Roberto L. Mendoza and Atty. Allado of Salonga, Hernandez

and Allado Law Offices . . . planned and conspired with other
suspects to abduct and kill the German national Alexander Van
Twest in order to eliminate him after forcing the victim to sign
several documents transferring ownership of several properties
amounting to several million pesos and caused the withdrawal of
P5M deposit from the victim's bank account.

Thereafter, Senior State Prosecutor Ferdinand prosecutor Ferdinand R.

Abesamis issued a subpoena to petitioners informing them that a complaint
was filed against them by PACC TF-Habagat, directing them to appear on
30 September 1993 at the Multi-Purpose Hall of the Department of Justice and
to submit their counter-affidavits. Attached to the subpoena were copies of the
affidavits executed by Umbal and members of the team who raided the two (2)
dwellings of Santiago. 5

Not satisfied merely with the affidavits attached to the subpoena, petitioner
Mendoza moved for the production of other documents for examination and
copying to enable him to fully prepare for his defense and to submit an
intelligible counter-affidavit. 6 Specifically, petitioner Mendoza was interested in
(a) the "several documents transferring ownership of several properties
amounting to several million pesos and the withdrawal of P5M deposits from
the victim's bank account," as stated in the complaint; (b) the complete records
of the PACC's investigation, including investigations on other suspects and
their disposition, PACC's Order of Battle for 1992 and early 1993; and, (c) such
other written statements issued in the above-entitled case, and all other
documents intended to be used in this case. 7 Petitioners likewise sought the
inhibition of the members of the panel of prosecutors, which was created to
conduct the preliminary investigation, on the ground that they were members
of the legal staff assigned to PACC and thus could not act with impartiality.

In its Order of 11 October 1993,8 the new panel of prosecutors composed of

Senior State Prosecutor Bernelito R. Fernandez as Chairman, with Rogelio F.
Vista and Purita M. Deynata as Members, confirmed that the motion for
inhibition of the members of the old panel as well as the appeal to the
Secretary of Justice was resolved on 8 October 1993 resulting in the creation of
a new panel. Thereafter, the new panel granted the prayer of petitioner
Mendoza for the production of additional documents used or intended to be
used against him. Meanwhile, Task Force Habagat, in compliance with the
order, submitted only copies of the request for verification of the firearms
seized from the accused, the result of the request for verification, and
a Philippine Times Journal article on the case with a marginal note of
President Fidel V. Ramos addressed to the Chief of the Philippine National
Police directing the submission of a report and summary of actions taken

Not having been provided with the requested documents, petitioners

nevertheless submitted their respective counter-affidavits denying the
accusations against them.9

After a preliminary hearing where clarificatory questions were additionally

propounded, the case was deemed submitted for resolution. But before the new
panel could resolve the case, SPO2 Bato filed a manifestation stating that he
was reconsidering the earlier waiver of his right to file counter- affidavit, 10 and
"in the greater interest of truth, justice and fair play" moved for the admissions
of his counter-affidavit 11 confessing participation in the abduction and slaying
of Van Twest and implicating petitioners Allado and Mendoza. Sometime in
January 1994, however, before petitioners could refute Bato's counter-affidavit,
he moved to suppress it on the ground that it was extracted through
intimidation and duress.

On 3 February 1994, with the new penal failing to act on the twin motions of
SPO2 Bato, petitioners heard over the radio that the panel had issued a
resolution finding a prima facie case against them and that an information
had already been filed in court. Upon verification with the Department of
Justice, however, petitioners were informed that the resolution was not yet
ready for release, but later that afternoon they were able to secure a copy of the
information for kidnapping with murder against them 12 and the 15-page
undated resolution under the letterhead of PACC, signed by the panel of
prosecutors, with the Head of the PACC Task Force recommending approval
thereof. 13 That same day, the information was filed before the Regional Trial
Court of Makati and raffled off to Branch 62 presided by respondent Judge
Roberto C. Diokno.

On 4 February 1994, respondent judge, in response to petitioners' request,

gave them until 8 February 1994 to submit their opposition to the issuance of
a warrant of arrest against all the accused. 14 On 7 February 1994, petitioners
complied with the order of respondent judge. 15 The following day,
8 February 1994, petitioner Allado filed an appeal with the Secretary of Justice
seeking review and reversal of the undated resolution of the panel
of prosecutors, 16 which appeal was adopted by petitioner Mendoza. 17 On
11 February 1994, petitioner Allado moved to defer the proceedings before the
trial court pending resolution of his appeal before the Secretary of
Justice. 18 However, on even date, respondent judge issued the assailed
warrant of arrest against petitioners. 19 Hence, on 15 February 1994,
petitioners filed with us the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition with
prayer for a temporary restraining order.

On 16 February 1994, we required respondents to comment on the petition

and set the case for hearing on 28 February 1994. After the hearing, we issued
a temporary restraining order enjoining PACC from enforcing the warrant of
arrest and respondent judge from conducting further proceedings on the case
and, instead, to elevate the records to us. Meanwhile, on 27 February 1994,
petitioners voluntarily surrendered at the Headquarters of the Capital
Command (CAPCOM), Philippine National Police (PNP), Camp Bagong Diwa,
Bicutan, Metro Manila, and on 29 February 1994, they were released on the
basis of our temporary restraining order.

Petitioners, in their 335-page petition, inclusive of annexes, principally contend

that respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion and in excess of
jurisdiction in "whimsically holding that there is probable cause against
petitioners without determining the admissibility of the evidence against
petitioners and without even stating the basis of his findings," 20 and in "relying
on the Resolution of the Panel and their certification that probable cause exists
when the certification is flawed." 21 Petitioners maintain that the records of the
preliminary investigation which respondent judge solely relied upon failed to
establish probable cause against them to justify the issuance of the warrant of
arrest. Petitioners likewise assail the prosecutors' "clear sign of bias and
impartiality (sic)." 22

On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General argues that the
determination of probable cause is a function of the judge who is merely
required to personally appreciate certain facts to convince him that the
accused probably committed the crime charged.

Section 2, Art. III, of the 1987 Constitution, lays down the requirements for the
issuance of a warrant of arrest, i.e., a warrant of arrest shall issue only upon
probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination
under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may

As early as 1915, in Buchanan v. Viuda de Esteban, 23this Court speaking

through Associate Justice Sherman Moreland defined probable cause as "the
existence of such facts and circumstances as would excite the belief, in a
reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of the prosecutor,
that the person charged was guilty of the crime for which he was prosecuted."
This definition is still relevant today as we continue to cite it in recent
cases. 24 Hence, probable cause for an arrest or for the issuance of a warrant of
arrest has been defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a
reasonable discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been
committed by the person sought to be arrested. 25 And as a protection against
false prosecution and arrest, it is the knowledge of facts, actual or apparent,
strong enough to justify a reasonable man in the belief that he was lawful
grounds for arresting the accused. 26

Pilapil v. Sandiganbayan 27 sets a standard for determining the existence of

probable cause. While it appears in that case that we have granted the
prosecutor and the trial judge seemingly unlimited latitude in determining the
existence of absence of probable cause by affirming the long-standing
procedure that they can base their findings merely on their personal opinion
and reasonable belief, yet, this permissiveness should not be interpreted as
giving them arbitrary powers and letting them loose in the determination of the
existence of probable cause, a delicate legal question which can result in the
harassment and deprivation of liberty of the person sought to be charged or
arrested. There we said —

Probable cause is a reasonable ground of presumption that a

matter is, or may be, well founded, such a state of facts in the
mind of the prosecutor as would lead a person of ordinary caution
and prudence to believe, or entertain an honest or strong
suspicion, that a thing is so. The term does not mean "actual and
positive cause" nor does it import absolute certainty. It is merely
based on opinion and reasonable belief. Thus, a finding of probable
cause does not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient
evidence to procure a conviction. It is enough that it is it believed
that the act or omission complained of constitutes the offense
charged. Precisely, there is a trial for the reception of evidence of
the prosecution in support of the charge.

Whether an act was done causing undue injury to the government

and whether the same was done with manifest partiality or evident
bad faith can only be made out by proper and sufficient testimony.
Necessarily, a conclusion can be arrived at when the case has
already proceeded on sufficient proof. 28

Accordingly, before issuing a warrant of arrest, the judge must satisfy himself
that based on the evidence submitted there is sufficient proof that a crime has
been committed and that the person to be arrested is probably guilty thereof.
In the Order of respondent judge dated 11 February 1994, it is expressly stated
that "[t]his court after careful evaluation of the evidence on record, believes and
rules that probable cause exists; and therefore, a warrant of arrest should be
issued." However, we are unable to see how respondent judge arrived at such
ruling. We have painstakingly examined the records and we cannot find any
support for his conclusion. On the contrary, we discern a number of reasons
why we consider the evidence submitted to be insufficient for a finding of
probable cause against petitioners.

The Presidential Anti-Crime Commission relies heavily on the sworn statement

of Security Guard Umbal who supposedly confessed his participation in the
alleged kidnapping and murder of Van Twest. For one, there is serious doubt
on Van Twest's reported death since the corpus delicti has not been
established, nor have his remains been recovered. Umbal claims that Van
Twest was completely burned into ashes with the use of gasoline and rubber
tires from around ten o'clock in the evening to six o'clock the next
morning. 29 This is highly improbable, if not ridiculous. A human body cannot
be pulverized into ashes by simply burning it with the use of gasoline and
rubber tires in an open field. Even crematoria use entirely closed incinerators
where the corpse is subjected to intense heat. 30Thereafter, the remains
undergo a process where the bones are completely ground to dust.

In the case of Van Twest, there is not even any insinuation that earnest efforts
were exerted to recover traces of his remains from the scene of the alleged
cremation. 31 Could it be that the government investigators did to the place of
cremation but could not find any? Or could it be that they did not go at all
because they knew that there would not be any as no burning ever took place?
To allege then that the body of Van Twest was completely burned to ashes in
an open field with the use merely of tires and gasoline is a tale too tall to gulp.

Strangely, if not awkwardly, after Van Twest's reported abduction on

16 June 1992 which culminated in his decimation by cremation, his counsel
continued to represent him before judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings. Thus
on 31 July 1992, his counsel filed in his behalf a petition for review before this
Court, docketed as G.R. Nos. 106253, and on 18 March 1993, a memorandum
before the Securities and Exchange Commission in SEC Case No. 3896. On
26 November 1993, during the preliminary investigation conducted by the
panel of prosecutors, counsel again manifested that "even then and even as of
this time, I stated in my counter-affidavit that until the matter of death is to be
established in the proper proceedings, I shall continue to pursue my duties and
responsibilities as counsel for Mr. Van Twest." 32 Hence, even Asst. Solicitor
General Estoesta believes that counsel of Van Twest doubted the latter's
death. 33 Obviously, counsel himself does not believe that his client is in fact
already dead otherwise his obligation to his client would have ceased except to
comply with his duty "to inform the court promptly of such death . . . and to
give the name and residence of his executor, administrator, guardian or other
legal representative," 34 which he did not.
Under the circumstances, we cannot discount petitioners' theory that the
supposed death of Van Twest who is reportedly an international fugitive from
justice, a fact substantiated by petitioners and never refuted by PACC, is a
likely story to stop the international manhunt for his arrest. In this regard, we
are reminded of the leading case of U.S. v. Samarin 35 decided ninety-two years
ago where this Court ruled that when the supposed victim is wholly unknown,
his body not found, and there is but one witness who testifies to the killing,
the corpus delicti is not sufficiently proved.

Then, the extrajudicial statement of Umbal suffers from material

inconsistencies. In his sworn statement, he said that he together with his
cohorts was met by petitioners in Silahis Hotel where they hatched the plan to
abduct Van Twest. 36 However, during the preliminary investigation, he stated
that he was not part of the actual meeting as he only waited outside in the car
for his companions who supposedly discussed the plan inside Silahis Hotel. 37

Umbal also said that petitioners arrived with Bato and conducted a mock
interrogation of Van Twest who thereafter signed various documents upon
being compelled to do so. 38 During the clarificatory questioning, however,
Umbal changed his story and said that he was asked to go outside of the "safe
house" at the time Van Twest was interrogated and thus did not see if Van
Twest indeed signed certain documents. Why Umbal had to be sent out of the
"safe house,"
no explanation was offered. Did these documents really exist? Or could the
non-existence of these documents be the reason why PACC was not able to
comply with the order of the prosecutors to produce them during the
preliminary investigation? And then, what happened to the P2.5M that was
supposedly offered by petitioners in exchange for the abduction of Van Twest?
These and more remain unanswered.

Most perplexing however is that while the whole investigation was supposedly
triggered off by Umbal's confession of 16 September 1993, the application of
the PACC operatives for a search warrant to be served in the
two (2) dwellings of Santiago was filed and granted by the Regional Trial Court
of Manila on 15 September 1993, a day before Umbal executed his sworn
statement. In support of the application, the PACC agents claimed that Umbal
had been in their custody since 10 September 1993. Significantly, although he
was said to be already under their custody, Umbal claims he was never
interrogated until 16 September 1993 and only at the security barracks of Valle
Verde V, Pasig, where he was a security guard. 39

The alleged counter-affidavit of SPO2 Bato, which the panel of prosecutors also
considered in filing the charges against petitioners, can hardly be credited as
its probative value has tremendously waned. The records show that the alleged
counter-affidavit, which is self-incriminating, was filed after the panel had
considered the case submitted for resolution. And before petitioners could
refute this counter-affidavit, Bato moved to suppress the same on the ground
that it was extracted through duress and intimidation.

For sure, the credibility of Umbal is badly battered. Certainly, his bare
allegations, even if the State invokes its inherent right to prosecute, are
insufficient to justify sending two lawyers to jail, or anybody for that matter.
More importantly, the PACC operatives who applied for a warrant to search the
dwellings of Santiago never implicated petitioners. In fact they claimed that
according to Umbal, it was Santiago, and not petitioners, who masterminded
the whole affair. 40 While there may be bits of evidence against petitioners'
co-accused, i.e., referring to those seized from the dwellings of Santiago, these
do not in the least prove petitioners' complicity in the crime charged. Based on
the evidence thus far submitted there is nothing indeed, much less is there
probable cause, to incriminate petitioners. For them to stand trial and be
deprived in the meantime of their liberty, however brief, the law appropriately
exacts much more to sustain a warrant for their arrest — facts and
circumstances strong enough in themselves to support the belief that they are
guilty of a crime that in fact happened. Quite obviously, this has not been met.

Verily, respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the

warrant for the arrest of petitioners it appearing that he did not personally
examine the evidence nor did he call for the complainant and his witnesses in
the face of their incredible accounts. Instead, he merely relied on the
certification of the prosecutors that probable cause existed. For, otherwise, he
would have found out that the evidence thus far presented was utterly
insufficient to warrant the arrest of petitioners. In this regard, we restate the
procedure we outlined in various cases we have already decided.

In Soliven v. Makasiar, 41 we said that the judge (a) shall personally evaluate
the report and the supporting documents submitted by the fiscal regarding the
existence of probable cause and, on the basis thereof, issue a warrant of arrest;
or, (b) if on the basis thereof he finds no probable cause, may disregard the
fiscal's report and require the submission of supporting affidavits of witnesses
to aid him in arriving at a conclusion on the existence of probable cause.

In People v. Inting, 42 we emphasized the important features of the

constitutional mandate: (a) The determination of probable cause is a function
of the judge; it is not for the provincial fiscal or prosecutor to ascertain. Only
the judge and the judge alone makes this determination; (b) The preliminary
inquiry made by a prosecutor does not bind the judge. It merely assists him in
making the determination of probable cause. The judge does not have to follow
what the prosecutor presents to him. By itself, the prosecutor's certification of
probable cause is ineffectual. It is the report, the affidavits, the transcript of
stenographic notes (if any), and all other supporting documents behind the
prosecutor's certification which are material in assisting the judge in his
determination of probable cause; and, (c) Judges and prosecutors alike should
distinguish the preliminary inquiry which determines probable cause for the
issuance of a warrant of arrest from the preliminary investigation proper which
ascertains whether the offender should be held for trial or released. Even if the
two inquiries be conducted in the course of one and the same proceeding, there
should be no confusion about their objectives. The determination of probable
cause for the warrant is made by the judge. The preliminary investigation
proper — whether or not there is reasonable ground to believe that the accused
is guilty of the offense charged and therefore, whether or not he should be
subjected to the expense, rigors and embarrassment of trial — is a function of
the prosecutor.

In Lim v. Felix, 43 where we reiterated Soliven v. Makasiar and People v. Inting,

we said —

[T]he Judge does not have to personally examine the complainant

and his witnesses. The Prosecutor can perform the same functions
as a commissioner for the taking of the evidence. However, there
should be a report and necessary documents supporting the
Fiscal's bare certification. All these should be before the Judge.

The extent of the Judge's personal examination of the report and

its annexes depends on the circumstances of each case. We cannot
determine beforehand how cursory or exhaustive the Judge's
examination should be. The Judge has to exercise sound discretion
for, after all, the personal determination is vested in the Judge by
the Constitution. It can be as brief or as detailed as the
circumstances of each case require. To be sure, the judge must go
beyond the Prosecutor's certification and investigation report
whenever necessary. He should call for the complainant and
witnesses themselves to answer the court's probing questions
when the circumstances of the case so require.

Clearly, probable cause may not be established simply by showing that a trial
judge subjectively believes that he has good grounds for his action. Good faith
is not enough. If subjective good faith alone were the test, the constitutional
protection would be demeaned and the people would be "secure in their
persons, houses, papers and effects" only in the fallible discretion of the
judge.44 On the contrary, the probable cause test is an objective one, for in
order that there be probable cause the facts and circumstances must be such
as would warrant a belief by a reasonably discreet and prudent man that the
accused is guilty of the crime which has just been committed. 45 This, as we
said, is the standard. Hence, if upon the filing of the information in court the
trial judge, after reviewing the information and the documents attached
thereto, finds that no probable cause exists must either call for the
complainant and the witnesses themselves or simply dismiss the case. There is
no reason to hold the accused for trial and further expose him to an open and
public accusation of the crime when no probable cause exists.

But then, it appears in the instant case that the prosecutors have similarly
misappropriated, if not abused, their discretion. If they really believed that
petitioners were probably guilty, they should have armed themselves with facts
and circumstances in support of that belief; for mere belief is not enough. They
should have presented sufficient and credible evidence to demonstrate the
existence of probable cause. For the prosecuting officer "is the representative
not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation
to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern all; and whose
interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but
that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense
the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or
innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor — indeed, he
should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike
foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated
to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring
about a just one" 46

In the case at bench, the undue haste in the filing of the information and the
inordinate interest of the government cannot be ignored. From the gathering of
evidence until the termination of the preliminary investigation, it appears that
the state prosecutors were overly eager to file the case and secure a warrant for
the arrest of the accused without bail and their consequent detention. Umbal's
sworn statement is laden with inconsistencies and improbabilities. Bato's
counter-affidavit was considered without giving petitioners the opportunity to
refute the same. The PACC which gathered the evidence appears to have had a
hand in the determination of probable cause in the preliminary inquiry as the
undated resolution of the panel not only bears the letterhead of PACC but was
also recommended for approval by the head of the PACC Task Force. Then
petitioners were given the runaround in securing a copy of the resolution and
the information against them.

Indeed, the task of ridding society of criminals and misfits and sending them to
jail in the hope that they will in the future reform and be productive members
of the community rests both on the judiciousness of judges and the prudence
of prosecutors. And, whether it is a preliminary investigation by the prosecutor,
which ascertains if the respondent should be held for trial, or a preliminary
inquiry by the trial judge which determines if an arrest warrant should issue,
the bottomline is that there is a standard in the determination of the existence
of probable cause, i.e., there should be facts and circumstances sufficiently
strong in themselves to warrant a prudent and cautious man to believe that the
accused is guilty of the crime with which he is charged. Judges and
prosecutors are not off on a frolic of their own, but rather engaged in a delicate
legal duty defined by law and jurisprudence.
In this instance, Salonga v. Paño 47 finds application —

The purpose of a preliminary investigation is to secure the

innocent against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecution, and
to protect him from an open and public accusation of crime, from
the trouble, expense and anxiety of a public trial, and also to
protect the state from useless and expensive trial (Trocio v. Manta,
118 SCRA 241, citing Hashim v. Boncan, 71 Phil. 216). The right to
a preliminary investigation is a statutory grant, and to withhold it
would be to transgress constitutional due process (People v.
Oandasa, 25 SCRA 277). However, in order to satisfy the due
process clause it is not enough that the preliminary investigation is
conducted in the sense of making sure that the transgressor shall
not escape with impunity. A preliminary investigation serves not
only for the purposes of the State. More importantly, it is a part of
the guarantees of freedom and fair play which are birthrights of all
who live in the country. It is therefore imperative upon the fiscal or
the judge as the case may be, to relieve the accused from the pain of
going thru a trial once it is ascertained that the evidence is
insufficient to sustain a prima facie case or that no probable cause
exists to form a sufficient belief as to the guilt of the
accused (emphasis supplied).

The facts of this case are fatefully distressing as they showcase the seeming
immensity of government power which when unchecked becomes tyrannical
and oppressive. Hence the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, defines
the limits beyond which lie unsanctioned state actions. But on occasion, for
one reason or another, the State transcends this parameter. In consequence,
individual liberty unnecessarily suffers. The case before us, if uncurbed, can be
illustrative of a dismal trend. Needless injury of the sort inflicted by
government agents is not reflective of responsible government. Judges and law
enforcers are not, by reason of their high and prestigious office, relieved of the
common obligation to avoid deliberately inflicting unnecessary injury.

The sovereign power has the inherent right to protect itself and its people from
vicious acts which endanger the proper administration of justice; hence, the
State has every right to prosecute and punish violators of the law. This is
essential for its self- preservation, nay, its very existence. But this does not
confer a license for pointless assaults on its citizens. The right of the State to
prosecute is not a carte blanche for government agents to defy and disregard
the rights of its citizens under the Constitution. Confinement, regardless of
duration, is too high a price to pay for reckless and impulsive prosecution.
Hence, even if we apply in this case the "multifactor balancing test" which
requires the officer to weigh the manner and intensity of the interference on the
right of the people, the gravity of the crime committed and the circumstances
attending the incident, still we cannot see probable cause to order the
detention of petitioners.48

The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the people against arbitrary and
discriminatory use of political power. This bundle of rights guarantees the
preservation of our natural rights which include personal liberty and security
against invasion by the government or any of its branches or instrumentalities.
Certainly, in the hierarchy of rights, the Bill of Rights takes precedence over
the right of the State to prosecute, and when weighed against each other, the
scales of justice tilt towards the former. Thus, relief may be availed of to stop
the purported enforcement of criminal law where it is necessary to provide for
an orderly administration of justice, to prevent the use of the strong arm of the
law in an oppressive and vindictive manner, and to afford adequate protection
to constitutional rights. 49

Perhaps, this case would not have reached this Court if petitioners were
ordinary people submissive to the dictates of government. They would have
been illegally arrested and detained without bail. Then we would not have the
opportunity to rectify the injustice. Fortunately, the victims of injustice are
lawyers who are vigilant of their rights, who fight for their liberty and freedom
not otherwise available to those who cower in fear and subjection.

Let this then be a constant reminder to judges, prosecutors and other

government agents tasked with the enforcement of the law that in the
performance of their duties they must act with circumspection, lest their
thoughtless ways, methods and practices cause a disservice to their office and
maim their countrymen they are sworn to serve and protect. We thus caution
government agents, particularly the law enforcers, to be more prudent in the
prosecution of cases and not to be oblivious of human rights protected by the
fundamental law. While we greatly applaud their determined efforts to weed
society of felons, let not their impetuous eagerness violate constitutional
precepts which circumscribe the structure of a civilized community.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is GRANTED. The

temporary restraining order we issued on 28 February 1994 in favor of
petitioners, Atty. Diosdado Jose Allado and Atty. Roberto L. Mendoza, is made
permanent. The warrant of arrest issued against them is SET ASIDE and
respondent Judge Roberto C. Diokno is ENJOINED from proceeding any
further against herein petitioners in Crim. Case No. 94-1757 of the Regional
Trial Court of Makati.


G.R. No. 168081 October 17, 2008

ARMANDO G. YRASUEGUI, petitioners,


REYES, R.T., J.:

THIS case portrays the peculiar story of an international flight steward who
was dismissed because of his failure to adhere to the weight standards of the
airline company.

He is now before this Court via a petition for review on certiorari claiming that
he was illegally dismissed. To buttress his stance, he argues that (1) his
dismissal does not fall under 282(e) of the Labor Code; (2) continuing
adherence to the weight standards of the company is not a bona fide
occupational qualification; and (3) he was discriminated against because other
overweight employees were promoted instead of being disciplined.

After a meticulous consideration of all arguments pro and con, We uphold the
legality of dismissal. Separation pay, however, should be awarded in favor of
the employee as an act of social justice or based on equity. This is so because
his dismissal is not for serious misconduct. Neither is it reflective of his moral

The Facts

Petitioner Armando G. Yrasuegui was a former international flight steward of

Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL). He stands five feet and eight inches (5’8") with a
large body frame. The proper weight for a man of his height and body structure
is from 147 to 166 pounds, the ideal weight being 166 pounds, as mandated by
the Cabin and Crew Administration Manual1 of PAL.

The weight problem of petitioner dates back to 1984. Back then, PAL advised
him to go on an extended vacation leave from December 29, 1984 to March 4,
1985 to address his weight concerns. Apparently, petitioner failed to meet the
company’s weight standards, prompting another leave without pay from March
5, 1985 to November 1985.

After meeting the required weight, petitioner was allowed to return to work. But
petitioner’s weight problem recurred. He again went on leave without pay from
October 17, 1988 to February 1989.

On April 26, 1989, petitioner weighed 209 pounds, 43 pounds over his ideal
weight. In line with company policy, he was removed from flight duty effective
May 6, 1989 to July 3, 1989. He was formally requested to trim down to his
ideal weight and report for weight checks on several dates. He was also told
that he may avail of the services of the company physician should he wish to
do so. He was advised that his case will be evaluated on July 3, 1989.2

On February 25, 1989, petitioner underwent weight check. It was discovered

that he gained, instead of losing, weight. He was overweight at 215 pounds,
which is 49 pounds beyond the limit. Consequently, his off-duty status was

On October 17, 1989, PAL Line Administrator Gloria Dizon personally visited
petitioner at his residence to check on the progress of his effort to lose weight.
Petitioner weighed 217 pounds, gaining 2 pounds from his previous weight.
After the visit, petitioner made a commitment3 to reduce weight in a letter
addressed to Cabin Crew Group Manager Augusto Barrios. The letter, in full,

Dear Sir:

I would like to guaranty my commitment towards a weight loss from 217

pounds to 200 pounds from today until 31 Dec. 1989.

From thereon, I promise to continue reducing at a reasonable percentage until

such time that my ideal weight is achieved.

Likewise, I promise to personally report to your office at the designated time

schedule you will set for my weight check.

Respectfully Yours,

F/S Armando Yrasuegui4

Despite the lapse of a ninety-day period given him to reach his ideal weight,
petitioner remained overweight. On January 3, 1990, he was informed of the
PAL decision for him to remain grounded until such time that he satisfactorily
complies with the weight standards. Again, he was directed to report every two
weeks for weight checks.

Petitioner failed to report for weight checks. Despite that, he was given one
more month to comply with the weight requirement. As usual, he was asked to
report for weight check on different dates. He was reminded that his grounding
would continue pending satisfactory compliance with the weight standards.5

Again, petitioner failed to report for weight checks, although he was seen
submitting his passport for processing at the PAL Staff Service Division.
On April 17, 1990, petitioner was formally warned that a repeated refusal to
report for weight check would be dealt with accordingly. He was given another
set of weight check dates.6 Again, petitioner ignored the directive and did not
report for weight checks. On June 26, 1990, petitioner was required to explain
his refusal to undergo weight checks.7

When petitioner tipped the scale on July 30, 1990, he weighed at 212 pounds.
Clearly, he was still way over his ideal weight of 166 pounds.

From then on, nothing was heard from petitioner until he followed up his case
requesting for leniency on the latter part of 1992. He weighed at 219
pounds on August 20, 1992 and 205 pounds on November 5, 1992.

On November 13, 1992, PAL finally served petitioner a Notice of Administrative

Charge for violation of company standards on weight requirements. He was
given ten (10) days from receipt of the charge within which to file his answer
and submit controverting evidence.8

On December 7, 1992, petitioner submitted his Answer.9 Notably, he did not

deny being overweight. What he claimed, instead, is that his violation, if any,
had already been condoned by PAL since "no action has been taken by the
company" regarding his case "since 1988." He also claimed that PAL
discriminated against him because "the company has not been fair in treating
the cabin crew members who are similarly situated."

On December 8, 1992, a clarificatory hearing was held where petitioner

manifested that he was undergoing a weight reduction program to lose at least
two (2) pounds per week so as to attain his ideal weight.10

On June 15, 1993, petitioner was formally informed by PAL that due to his
inability to attain his ideal weight, "and considering the utmost leniency"
extended to him "which spanned a period covering a total of almost five (5)
years," his services were considered terminated "effective immediately."11

His motion for reconsideration having been denied,12 petitioner filed a

complaint for illegal dismissal against PAL.

Labor Arbiter, NLRC and CA Dispositions

On November 18, 1998, Labor Arbiter Valentin C. Reyes ruled13 that petitioner
was illegally dismissed. The dispositive part of the Arbiter ruling runs as

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered, declaring

the complainant’s dismissal illegal, and ordering the respondent to reinstate
him to his former position or substantially equivalent one, and to pay him:
a. Backwages of Php10,500.00 per month from his dismissal on June 15, 1993
until reinstated, which for purposes of appeal is hereby set from June 15, 1993
up to August 15, 1998 at ₱651,000.00;

b. Attorney’s fees of five percent (5%) of the total award.


The Labor Arbiter held that the weight standards of PAL are reasonable in view
of the nature of the job of petitioner.15 However, the weight standards need not
be complied with under pain of dismissal since his weight did not hamper the
performance of his duties.16 Assuming that it did, petitioner could be
transferred to other positions where his weight would not be a negative
factor.17 Notably, other overweight employees, i.e., Mr. Palacios, Mr. Cui, and
Mr. Barrios, were promoted instead of being disciplined.18

Both parties appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).19

On October 8, 1999, the Labor Arbiter issued a writ of execution directing the
reinstatement of petitioner without loss of seniority rights and other benefits.20

On February 1, 2000, the Labor Arbiter denied21 the Motion to Quash Writ of
Execution22 of PAL.

On March 6, 2000, PAL appealed the denial of its motion to quash to the

On June 23, 2000, the NLRC rendered judgment24 in the following tenor:

WHEREFORE, premises considered[,] the Decision of the Arbiter dated 18

November 1998 as modified by our findings herein, is hereby AFFIRMED and
that part of the dispositive portion of said decision concerning complainant’s
entitlement to backwages shall be deemed to refer to complainant’s entitlement
to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances and to his other benefits or their
monetary equivalent instead of simply backwages, from date of dismissal until
his actual reinstatement or finality hereof. Respondent is enjoined to manifests
(sic) its choice of the form of the reinstatement of complainant, whether
physical or through payroll within ten (10) days from notice failing which, the
same shall be deemed as complainant’s reinstatement through payroll and
execution in case of non-payment shall accordingly be issued by the Arbiter.
Both appeals of respondent thus, are DISMISSED for utter lack of merit.25

According to the NLRC, "obesity, or the tendency to gain weight uncontrollably

regardless of the amount of food intake, is a disease in itself."26 As a
consequence, there can be no intentional defiance or serious misconduct by
petitioner to the lawful order of PAL for him to lose weight.27
Like the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC found the weight standards of PAL to be
reasonable. However, it found as unnecessary the Labor Arbiter holding that
petitioner was not remiss in the performance of his duties as flight steward
despite being overweight. According to the NLRC, the Labor Arbiter should have
limited himself to the issue of whether the failure of petitioner to attain his
ideal weight constituted willful defiance of the weight standards of PAL.28

PAL moved for reconsideration to no avail.29 Thus, PAL elevated the matter to
the Court of Appeals (CA) via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure.30

By Decision dated August 31, 2004, the CA reversed31 the NLRC:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby GRANT the petition. The

assailed NLRC decision is declared NULL and VOID and is hereby SET ASIDE.
The private respondent’s complaint is hereby DISMISSED. No costs.


The CA opined that there was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC
because it "looked at wrong and irrelevant considerations"33 in evaluating the
evidence of the parties. Contrary to the NLRC ruling, the weight standards of
PAL are meant to be a continuing qualification for an employee’s
position.34 The failure to adhere to the weight standards is an analogous
cause for the dismissal of an employee under Article 282(e) of the Labor Code
in relation to Article 282(a). It is not willful disobedience as the NLRC seemed
to suggest.35 Said the CA, "the element of willfulness that the NLRC decision
cites is an irrelevant consideration in arriving at a conclusion on whether the
dismissal is legally proper."36 In other words, "the relevant question to ask is
not one of willfulness but one of reasonableness of the standard and whether
or not the employee qualifies or continues to qualify under this standard."37

Just like the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, the CA held that the weight
standards of PAL are reasonable.38Thus, petitioner was legally dismissed
because he repeatedly failed to meet the prescribed weight standards.39 It is
obvious that the issue of discrimination was only invoked by petitioner for
purposes of escaping the result of his dismissal for being overweight.40

On May 10, 2005, the CA denied petitioner’s motion for

reconsideration.41 Elaborating on its earlier ruling, the CA held that the weight
standards of PAL are a bona fide occupational qualification which, in case of
violation, "justifies an employee’s separation from the service."42


In this Rule 45 petition for review, the following issues are posed for resolution:












Our Ruling

I. The obesity of petitioner is a ground for dismissal under Article

282(e) 44 of the Labor Code.

A reading of the weight standards of PAL would lead to no other conclusion

than that they constitute a continuing qualification of an employee in order to
keep the job. Tersely put, an employee may be dismissed the moment he is
unable to comply with his ideal weight as prescribed by the weight standards.
The dismissal of the employee would thus fall under Article 282(e) of the Labor
Code. As explained by the CA:

x x x [T]he standards violated in this case were not mere "orders" of the
employer; they were the "prescribed weights" that a cabin crew
must maintain in order to qualify for and keep his or her position in the
company. In other words, they were standards that establish continuing
qualifications for an employee’s position. In this sense, the failure to maintain
these standards does not fall under Article 282(a) whose express terms require
the element of willfulness in order to be a ground for dismissal. The failure to
meet the employer’s qualifying standards is in fact a ground that does not
squarely fall under grounds (a) to (d) and is therefore one that falls under
Article 282(e) – the "other causes analogous to the foregoing."

By its nature, these "qualifying standards" are norms that apply prior to and
after an employee is hired. They apply prior to employment because these
are the standards a job applicant must initially meet in order to be hired. They
apply after hiring because an employee must continue to meet these
standards while on the job in order to keep his job. Under this perspective, a
violation is not one of the faults for which an employee can be dismissed
pursuant to pars. (a) to (d) of Article 282; the employee can be dismissed
simply because he no longer "qualifies" for his job irrespective of whether or not
the failure to qualify was willful or intentional. x x x45

Petitioner, though, advances a very interesting argument. He claims that

obesity is a "physical abnormality and/or illness."46 Relying on Nadura v.
Benguet Consolidated, Inc.,47 he says his dismissal is illegal:

Conscious of the fact that Nadura’s case cannot be made to fall squarely within
the specific causes enumerated in subparagraphs 1(a) to (e), Benguet invokes
the provisions of subparagraph 1(f) and says that Nadura’s illness – occasional
attacks of asthma – is a cause analogous to them.

Even a cursory reading of the legal provision under consideration is sufficient

to convince anyone that, as the trial court said, "illness cannot be included as
an analogous cause by any stretch of imagination."

It is clear that, except the just cause mentioned in sub-paragraph 1(a), all the
others expressly enumerated in the law are due to the voluntary and/or willful
act of the employee. How Nadura’s illness could be considered as "analogous"
to any of them is beyond our understanding, there being no claim or pretense
that the same was contracted through his own voluntary act.48

The reliance on Nadura is off-tangent. The factual milieu in Nadura is

substantially different from the case at bar. First, Nadura was not decided
under the Labor Code. The law applied in that case was Republic Act (RA) No.
1787. Second, the issue of flight safety is absent in Nadura, thus, the rationale
there cannot apply here. Third, in Nadura, the employee who was a miner, was
laid off from work because of illness, i.e., asthma. Here, petitioner was
dismissed for his failure to meet the weight standards of PAL. He was not
dismissed due to illness. Fourth, the issue in Nadura is whether or not the
dismissed employee is entitled to separation pay and damages. Here, the issue
centers on the propriety of the dismissal of petitioner for his failure to meet the
weight standards of PAL. Fifth, in Nadura, the employee was not accorded due
process. Here, petitioner was accorded utmost leniency. He was given more
than four (4) years to comply with the weight standards of PAL.
In the case at bar, the evidence on record militates against petitioner’s claims
that obesity is a disease. That he was able to reduce his weight from 1984 to
1992 clearly shows that it is possible for him to lose weight given the proper
attitude, determination, and self-discipline. Indeed, during the clarificatory
hearing on December 8, 1992, petitioner himself claimed that "[t]he issue is
could I bring my weight down to ideal weight which is 172, then the answer is
yes. I can do it now."49

True, petitioner claims that reducing weight is costing him "a lot of
expenses."50 However, petitioner has only himself to blame. He could have
easily availed the assistance of the company physician, per the advice of
PAL.51 He chose to ignore the suggestion. In fact, he repeatedly failed to report
when required to undergo weight checks, without offering a valid explanation.
Thus, his fluctuating weight indicates absence of willpower rather than an

Petitioner cites Bonnie Cook v. State of Rhode Island, Department of Mental

Health, Retardation and Hospitals,52 decided by the United States Court of
Appeals (First Circuit). In that case, Cook worked from 1978 to 1980 and from
1981 to 1986 as an institutional attendant for the mentally retarded at the
Ladd Center that was being operated by respondent. She twice resigned
voluntarily with an unblemished record. Even respondent admitted that her
performance met the Center’s legitimate expectations. In 1988, Cook re-applied
for a similar position. At that time, "she stood 5’2" tall and weighed over 320
pounds." Respondent claimed that the morbid obesity of plaintiff compromised
her ability to evacuate patients in case of emergency and it also put her at
greater risk of serious diseases.

Cook contended that the action of respondent amounted to discrimination on

the basis of a handicap. This was in direct violation of Section 504(a) of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973,53 which incorporates the remedies contained in
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Respondent claimed, however, that
morbid obesity could never constitute a handicap within the purview of the
Rehabilitation Act. Among others, obesity is a mutable condition, thus plaintiff
could simply lose weight and rid herself of concomitant disability.

The appellate Court disagreed and held that morbid obesity is a disability
under the Rehabilitation Act and that respondent discriminated against Cook
based on "perceived" disability. The evidence included expert testimony that
morbid obesity is a physiological disorder. It involves a dysfunction of both the
metabolic system and the neurological appetite – suppressing signal system,
which is capable of causing adverse effects within the musculoskeletal,
respiratory, and cardiovascular systems. Notably, the Court stated that
"mutability is relevant only in determining the substantiality of the limitation
flowing from a given impairment," thus "mutability only precludes those
conditions that an individual can easily and quickly reverse by behavioral

Unlike Cook, however, petitioner is not morbidly obese. In the words of the
District Court for the District of Rhode Island, Cook was sometime before 1978
"at least one hundred pounds more than what is considered appropriate of her
height." According to the Circuit Judge, Cook weighed "over 320 pounds" in
1988. Clearly, that is not the case here. At his heaviest, petitioner was only less
than 50 pounds over his ideal weight.

In fine, We hold that the obesity of petitioner, when placed in the context of his
work as flight attendant, becomes an analogous cause under Article 282(e) of
the Labor Code that justifies his dismissal from the service. His obesity may
not be unintended, but is nonetheless voluntary. As the CA correctly puts it,
"[v]oluntariness basically means that the just cause is solely attributable to the
employee without any external force influencing or controlling his actions. This
element runs through all just causes under Article 282, whether they be in the
nature of a wrongful action or omission. Gross and habitual neglect, a
recognized just cause, is considered voluntary although it lacks the element of
intent found in Article 282(a), (c), and (d)."54

II. The dismissal of petitioner can be predicated on the bona fide occupational
qualification defense.

Employment in particular jobs may not be limited to persons of a particular

sex, religion, or national origin unless the employer can show that sex, religion,
or national origin is an actual qualification for performing the job. The
qualification is called a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).55 In the
United States, there are a few federal and many state job discrimination laws
that contain an exception allowing an employer to engage in an otherwise
unlawful form of prohibited discrimination when the action is based on a
BFOQ necessary to the normal operation of a business or enterprise.56

Petitioner contends that BFOQ is a statutory defense. It does not exist if there
is no statute providing for it.57 Further, there is no existing BFOQ statute that
could justify his dismissal.58

Both arguments must fail.

First, the Constitution,59 the Labor Code,60 and RA No. 727761 or the Magna
Carta for Disabled Persons62 contain provisions similar to BFOQ.

Second, in British Columbia Public Service Employee Commission (BSPSERC) v.

The British Columbia Government and Service Employee’s Union
(BCGSEU),63 the Supreme Court of Canada adopted the so-called "Meiorin Test"
in determining whether an employment policy is justified. Under this test, (1)
the employer must show that it adopted the standard for a purpose rationally
connected to the performance of the job;64 (2) the employer must establish that
the standard is reasonably necessary65 to the accomplishment of that work-
related purpose; and (3) the employer must establish that the standard is
reasonably necessary in order to accomplish the legitimate work-related
purpose. Similarly, in Star Paper Corporation v. Simbol,66 this Court held that
in order to justify a BFOQ, the employer must prove that (1) the employment
qualification is reasonably related to the essential operation of the job involved;
and (2) that there is factual basis for believing that all or substantially all
persons meeting the qualification would be unable to properly perform the
duties of the job.67

In short, the test of reasonableness of the company policy is used because it is

parallel to BFOQ.68 BFOQ is valid "provided it reflects an inherent quality
reasonably necessary for satisfactory job performance."69

In Duncan Association of Detailman-PTGWTO v. Glaxo Wellcome Philippines,

Inc.,70 the Court did not hesitate to pass upon the validity of a company policy
which prohibits its employees from marrying employees of a rival company. It
was held that the company policy is reasonable considering that its purpose is
the protection of the interests of the company against possible competitor
infiltration on its trade secrets and procedures.

Verily, there is no merit to the argument that BFOQ cannot be applied if it has
no supporting statute. Too, the Labor Arbiter,71 NLRC,72 and CA73 are one in
holding that the weight standards of PAL are reasonable. A common carrier,
from the nature of its business and for reasons of public policy, is bound to
observe extraordinary diligence for the safety of the passengers it
transports.74 It is bound to carry its passengers safely as far as human care
and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons,
with due regard for all the circumstances.75

The law leaves no room for mistake or oversight on the part of a common
carrier. Thus, it is only logical to hold that the weight standards of PAL show
its effort to comply with the exacting obligations imposed upon it by law by
virtue of being a common carrier.

The business of PAL is air transportation. As such, it has committed itself to

safely transport its passengers. In order to achieve this, it must necessarily rely
on its employees, most particularly the cabin flight deck crew who are on board
the aircraft. The weight standards of PAL should be viewed as imposing strict
norms of discipline upon its employees.

In other words, the primary objective of PAL in the imposition of the weight
standards for cabin crew is flight safety. It cannot be gainsaid that cabin
attendants must maintain agility at all times in order to inspire passenger
confidence on their ability to care for the passengers when something goes
wrong. It is not farfetched to say that airline companies, just like all common
carriers, thrive due to public confidence on their safety records. People,
especially the riding public, expect no less than that airline companies
transport their passengers to their respective destinations safely and soundly.
A lesser performance is unacceptable.

The task of a cabin crew or flight attendant is not limited to serving meals or
attending to the whims and caprices of the passengers. The most important
activity of the cabin crew is to care for the safety of passengers and the
evacuation of the aircraft when an emergency occurs. Passenger safety goes to
the core of the job of a cabin attendant. Truly, airlines need cabin attendants
who have the necessary strength to open emergency doors, the agility to attend
to passengers in cramped working conditions, and the stamina to withstand
grueling flight schedules.

On board an aircraft, the body weight and size of a cabin attendant are
important factors to consider in case of emergency. Aircrafts have constricted
cabin space, and narrow aisles and exit doors. Thus, the arguments of
respondent that "[w]hether the airline’s flight attendants are overweight or not
has no direct relation to its mission of transporting passengers to their
destination"; and that the weight standards "has nothing to do with
airworthiness of respondent’s airlines," must fail.

The rationale in Western Air Lines v. Criswell76 relied upon by petitioner cannot
apply to his case. What was involved there were two (2) airline pilots who were
denied reassignment as flight engineers upon reaching the age of 60, and a
flight engineer who was forced to retire at age 60. They sued the airline
company, alleging that the age-60 retirement for flight engineers violated the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Age-based BFOQ and being
overweight are not the same. The case of overweight cabin attendants is
another matter. Given the cramped cabin space and narrow aisles and
emergency exit doors of the airplane, any overweight cabin attendant would
certainly have difficulty navigating the cramped cabin area.

In short, there is no need to individually evaluate their ability to perform their

task. That an obese cabin attendant occupies more space than a slim one is an
unquestionable fact which courts can judicially recognize without introduction
of evidence.77 It would also be absurd to require airline companies to
reconfigure the aircraft in order to widen the aisles and exit doors just to
accommodate overweight cabin attendants like petitioner.

The biggest problem with an overweight cabin attendant is the possibility of

impeding passengers from evacuating the aircraft, should the occasion call for
it. The job of a cabin attendant during emergencies is to speedily get the
passengers out of the aircraft safely. Being overweight necessarily impedes
mobility. Indeed, in an emergency situation, seconds are what cabin attendants
are dealing with, not minutes. Three lost seconds can translate into three lost
lives. Evacuation might slow down just because a wide-bodied cabin attendant
is blocking the narrow aisles. These possibilities are not remote.

Petitioner is also in estoppel. He does not dispute that the weight standards of
PAL were made known to him prior to his employment. He is presumed to
know the weight limit that he must maintain at all times.78 In fact, never did he
question the authority of PAL when he was repeatedly asked to trim down his
weight. Bona fides exigit ut quod convenit fiat. Good faith demands that what is
agreed upon shall be done. Kung ang tao ay tapat kanyang tutuparin ang

Too, the weight standards of PAL provide for separate weight limitations based
on height and body frame for both male and female cabin attendants. A
progressive discipline is imposed to allow non-compliant cabin attendants
sufficient opportunity to meet the weight standards. Thus, the clear-cut rules
obviate any possibility for the commission of abuse or arbitrary action on the
part of PAL.

III. Petitioner failed to substantiate his claim that he was discriminated

against by PAL.

Petitioner next claims that PAL is using passenger safety as a convenient

excuse to discriminate against him.79 We are constrained, however, to hold
otherwise. We agree with the CA that "[t]he element of discrimination came into
play in this case as a secondary position for the private respondent in order to
escape the consequence of dismissal that being overweight entailed. It is a
confession-and-avoidance position that impliedly admitted the cause of
dismissal, including the reasonableness of the applicable standard and the
private respondent’s failure to comply."80 It is a basic rule in evidence that each
party must prove his affirmative allegation.81

Since the burden of evidence lies with the party who asserts an affirmative
allegation, petitioner has to prove his allegation with particularity. There is
nothing on the records which could support the finding of discriminatory
treatment. Petitioner cannot establish discrimination by simply naming the
supposed cabin attendants who are allegedly similarly situated with him.
Substantial proof must be shown as to how and why they are similarly situated
and the differential treatment petitioner got from PAL despite the similarity of
his situation with other employees.

Indeed, except for pointing out the names of the supposed overweight cabin
attendants, petitioner miserably failed to indicate their respective ideal weights;
weights over their ideal weights; the periods they were allowed to fly despite
their being overweight; the particular flights assigned to them; the
discriminating treatment they got from PAL; and other relevant data that could
have adequately established a case of discriminatory treatment by PAL. In the
words of the CA, "PAL really had no substantial case of discrimination to

We are not unmindful that findings of facts of administrative agencies, like the
Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, are accorded respect, even finality.83 The reason is
simple: administrative agencies are experts in matters within their specific and
specialized jurisdiction.84 But the principle is not a hard and fast rule. It only
applies if the findings of facts are duly supported by substantial evidence. If it
can be shown that administrative bodies grossly misappreciated evidence of
such nature so as to compel a conclusion to the contrary, their findings of facts
must necessarily be reversed. Factual findings of administrative agencies do
not have infallibility and must be set aside when they fail the test of

Here, the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC inexplicably misappreciated evidence.
We thus annul their findings.

To make his claim more believable, petitioner invokes the equal protection
clause guaranty86 of the Constitution. However, in the absence of governmental
interference, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution cannot be
invoked.87 Put differently, the Bill of Rights is not meant to be invoked against
acts of private individuals.88 Indeed, the United States Supreme Court, in
interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment,89 which is the source of our equal
protection guarantee, is consistent in saying that the equal protection erects no
shield against private conduct, however discriminatory or wrongful.90 Private
actions, no matter how egregious, cannot violate the equal protection

IV. The claims of petitioner for reinstatement and wages are moot.

As his last contention, petitioner avers that his claims for reinstatement and
wages have not been mooted. He is entitled to reinstatement and his full
backwages, "from the time he was illegally dismissed" up to the time that the
NLRC was reversed by the CA.92

At this point, Article 223 of the Labor Code finds relevance:

In any event, the decision of the Labor Arbiter reinstating a dismissed or

separated employee, insofar as the reinstatement aspect is concerned, shall
immediately be executory, even pending appeal. The employee shall either be
admitted back to work under the same terms and conditions prevailing prior to
his dismissal or separation or, at the option of the employer, merely reinstated
in the payroll. The posting of a bond by the employer shall not stay the
execution for reinstatement provided herein.
The law is very clear. Although an award or order of reinstatement is self-
executory and does not require a writ of execution,93 the option to exercise
actual reinstatement or payroll reinstatement belongs to the employer. It does
not belong to the employee, to the labor tribunals, or even to the courts.

Contrary to the allegation of petitioner that PAL "did everything under the sun"
to frustrate his "immediate return to his previous position,"94 there is evidence
that PAL opted to physically reinstate him to a substantially equivalent position
in accordance with the order of the Labor Arbiter.95 In fact, petitioner duly
received the return to work notice on February 23, 2001, as shown by his

Petitioner cannot take refuge in the pronouncements of the Court in a

case97 that "[t]he unjustified refusal of the employer to reinstate the dismissed
employee entitles him to payment of his salaries effective from the time the
employer failed to reinstate him despite the issuance of a writ of
execution"98 and ""even if the order of reinstatement of the Labor Arbiter is
reversed on appeal, it is obligatory on the part of the employer to reinstate and
pay the wages of the employee during the period of appeal until reversal by the
higher court."99 He failed to prove that he complied with the return to work
order of PAL. Neither does it appear on record that he actually rendered
services for PAL from the moment he was dismissed, in order to insist on the
payment of his full backwages.

In insisting that he be reinstated to his actual position despite being

overweight, petitioner in effect wants to render the issues in the present case
moot. He asks PAL to comply with the impossible. Time and again, the Court
ruled that the law does not exact compliance with the impossible.100

V. Petitioner is entitled to separation pay.

Be that as it may, all is not lost for petitioner.

Normally, a legally dismissed employee is not entitled to separation pay. This

may be deduced from the language of Article 279 of the Labor Code that "[a]n
employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to
reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his
full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their
monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld
from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement." Luckily for petitioner, this
is not an ironclad rule.

Exceptionally, separation pay is granted to a legally dismissed employee as an

act "social justice,"101 or based on "equity."102 In both instances, it is required
that the dismissal (1) was not for serious misconduct; and (2) does not reflect
on the moral character of the employee.103
Here, We grant petitioner separation pay equivalent to one-half (1/2) month’s
pay for every year of service.104 It should include regular allowances which he
might have been receiving.105 We are not blind to the fact that he was not
dismissed for any serious misconduct or to any act which would reflect on his
moral character. We also recognize that his employment with PAL lasted for
more or less a decade.

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision of the Court of Appeals

is AFFIRMED but MODIFIED in that petitioner Armando G. Yrasuegui is
entitled to separation pay in an amount equivalent to one-half (1/2) month’s
pay for every year of service, which should include his regular allowances.


G.R. No. 164815 September 3, 2009





For resolution is the Letter-Appeal1 of Senior Inspector (Sr. Insp.) Jerry C.

Valeroso (Valeroso) praying that our February 22, 2008 Decision2 and June 30,
2008 Resolution3 be set aside and a new one be entered acquitting him of the
crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

The facts are briefly stated as follows:

Valeroso was charged with violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866, committed
as follows:

That on or about the 10th day of July, 1996, in Quezon City, Philippines, the
said accused without any authority of law, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly have in his/her possession and under his/her
custody and control

One (1) cal. 38 "Charter Arms" revolver bearing serial no. 52315 with five (5)
live ammo.

without first having secured the necessary license/permit issued by the proper

When arraigned, Valeroso pleaded "not guilty."5 Trial on the merits ensued.

During trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses: Senior Police Officer
(SPO)2 Antonio Disuanco (Disuanco) of the Criminal Investigation Division of
the Central Police District Command; and Epifanio Deriquito (Deriquito),
Records Verifier of the Firearms and Explosives Division in Camp Crame. Their
testimonies are summarized as follows:

On July 10, 1996, at around 9:30 a.m., Disuanco received a Dispatch Order
from the desk officer directing him and three (3) other policemen to serve a
Warrant of Arrest, issued by Judge Ignacio Salvador, against Valeroso for a
case of kidnapping with ransom.6

After a briefing, the team conducted the necessary surveillance on Valeroso

checking his hideouts in Cavite, Caloocan, and Bulacan. Eventually, the team
members proceeded to the Integrated National Police (INP) Central Police
Station in Culiat, Quezon City, where they saw Valeroso about to board a
tricyle. Disuanco and his team approached Valeroso. They put him under
arrest, informed him of his constitutional rights, and bodily searched him.
They found a Charter Arms revolver, bearing Serial No. 52315, with five (5)
pieces of live ammunition, tucked in his waist.7

Valeroso was then brought to the police station for questioning. Upon
verification in the Firearms and Explosives Division in Camp Crame, Deriquito
presented a certification8 that the subject firearm was not issued to Valeroso,
but was licensed in the name of a certain Raul Palencia Salvatierra of
Sampaloc, Manila.9

On the other hand, Valeroso, SPO3 Agustin R. Timbol, Jr. (Timbol), and Adrian
Yuson testified for the defense. Their testimonies are summarized as follows:

On July 10, 1996, Valeroso was sleeping inside a room in the boarding house
of his children located at Sagana Homes, Barangay New Era, Quezon City. He
was awakened by four (4) heavily armed men in civilian attire who pointed their
guns at him and pulled him out of the room.10 The raiding team tied his hands
and placed him near the faucet (outside the room) then went back inside,
searched and ransacked the room. Moments later, an operative came out of the
room and exclaimed, "Hoy, may nakuha akong baril sa loob!"11

Disuanco informed Valeroso that there was a standing warrant for his arrest.
However, the raiding team was not armed with a search warrant.12

Timbol testified that he issued to Valeroso a Memorandum Receipt13 dated July

1, 1993 covering the subject firearm and its ammunition, upon the verbal
instruction of Col. Angelito Moreno.14
On May 6, 1998, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 97, Quezon City,
convicted Valeroso as charged and sentenced him to suffer the indeterminate
penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to six (6)
years, as maximum. The gun subject of the case was further ordered
confiscated in favor of the government.15

On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed16 the RTC decision but the
minimum term of the indeterminate penalty was lowered to four (4) years and
two (2) months.

On petition for review, we affirmed17 in full the CA decision. Valeroso filed a

Motion for Reconsideration18 which was denied with finality19on June 30,

Valeroso is again before us through this Letter-Appeal20 imploring this Court to

once more take a contemplative reflection and deliberation on the case,
focusing on his breached constitutional rights against unreasonable search
and seizure.21

Meanwhile, as the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) failed to timely file its
Comment on Valeroso’s Motion for Reconsideration, it instead filed a
Manifestation in Lieu of Comment.22

In its Manifestation, the OSG changed its previous position and now
recommends Valeroso’s acquittal. After a second look at the evidence
presented, the OSG considers the testimonies of the witnesses for the defense
more credible and thus concludes that Valeroso was arrested in a boarding
house. More importantly, the OSG agrees with Valeroso that the subject
firearm was obtained by the police officers in violation of Valeroso’s
constitutional right against illegal search and seizure, and should thus be
excluded from the evidence for the prosecution. Lastly, assuming that the
subject firearm was admissible in evidence, still, Valeroso could not be
convicted of the crime, since he was able to establish his authority to possess
the gun through the Memorandum Receipt issued by his superiors.

After considering anew Valeroso’s arguments through his Letter-Appeal,

together with the OSG’s position recommending his acquittal, and keeping in
mind that substantial rights must ultimately reign supreme over technicalities,
this Court is swayed to reconsider.23

The Letter-Appeal is actually in the nature of a second motion for

reconsideration. While a second motion for reconsideration is, as a general
rule, a prohibited pleading, it is within the sound discretion of the Court to
admit the same, provided it is filed with prior leave whenever substantive
justice may be better served thereby.24
This is not the first time that this Court is suspending its own rules or
excepting a particular case from the operation of the rules. In De Guzman v.
Sandiganbayan,25 despite the denial of De Guzman’s motion for
reconsideration, we still entertained his Omnibus Motion, which was actually a
second motion for reconsideration. Eventually, we reconsidered our earlier
decision and remanded the case to the Sandiganbayan for reception and
appreciation of petitioner’s evidence. In that case, we said that if we would not
compassionately bend backwards and flex technicalities, petitioner would
surely experience the disgrace and misery of incarceration for a crime which he
might not have committed after all.26 Also in Astorga v. People,27on a second
motion for reconsideration, we set aside our earlier decision, re-examined the
records of the case, then finally acquitted Benito Astorga of the crime of
Arbitrary Detention on the ground of reasonable doubt. And in Sta. Rosa Realty
Development Corporation v. Amante,28 by virtue of the January 13, 2004 En
Banc Resolution, the Court authorized the Special First Division to suspend
the Rules, so as to allow it to consider and resolve respondent’s second motion
for reconsideration after the motion was heard on oral arguments. After a re-
examination of the merits of the case, we granted the second motion for
reconsideration and set aside our earlier decision.

Clearly, suspension of the rules of procedure, to pave the way for the re-
examination of the findings of fact and conclusions of law earlier made, is not
without basis.

We would like to stress that rules of procedure are merely tools designed to
facilitate the attainment of justice. They are conceived and promulgated to
effectively aid the courts in the dispensation of justice. Courts are not slaves to
or robots of technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. In rendering justice,
courts have always been, as they ought to be, conscientiously guided by the
norm that, on the balance, technicalities take a backseat to substantive rights,
and not the other way around. Thus, if the application of the Rules would tend
to frustrate rather than to promote justice, it would always be within our power
to suspend the rules or except a particular case from its operation.29

Now on the substantive aspect.

The Court notes that the version of the prosecution, as to where Valeroso was
arrested, is different from the version of the defense. The prosecution claims
that Valeroso was arrested near the INP Central Police Station in Culiat,
Quezon City, while he was about to board a tricycle. After placing Valeroso
under arrest, the arresting officers bodily searched him, and they found the
subject firearm and ammunition. The defense, on the other hand, insists that
he was arrested inside the boarding house of his children. After serving the
warrant of arrest (allegedly for kidnapping with ransom), some of the police
officers searched the boarding house and forcibly opened a cabinet where they
discovered the subject firearm.
After a thorough re-examination of the records and consideration of the joint
appeal for acquittal by Valeroso and the OSG, we find that we must give more
credence to the version of the defense.

Valeroso’s appeal for acquittal focuses on his constitutional right against

unreasonable search and seizure alleged to have been violated by the arresting
police officers; and if so, would render the confiscated firearm and ammunition
inadmissible in evidence against him.

The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is secured by Section 2,

Article III of the Constitution which states:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and
for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest
shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the
judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched
and the persons or things to be seized.

From this constitutional provision, it can readily be gleaned that, as a general

rule, the procurement of a warrant is required before a law enforcer can validly
search or seize the person, house, papers, or effects of any individual.30

To underscore the significance the law attaches to the fundamental right of an

individual against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Constitution
succinctly declares in Article III, Section 3(2), that "any evidence obtained in
violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible in evidence for
any purpose in any proceeding."31

The above proscription is not, however, absolute. The following are the well-
recognized instances where searches and seizures are allowed even without a
valid warrant:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;

2. [Seizure] of evidence in "plain view." The elements are: a) a prior valid

intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police are
legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; b) the evidence was
inadvertently discovered by the police who have the right to be where
they are; c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; and d) "plain
view" justified mere seizure of evidence without further search;

3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the

vehicle’s inherent mobility reduces expectation of privacy especially when
its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable
suspicion amounting to probable cause that the occupant committed a
criminal activity;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk;

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.32

8. Search of vessels and aircraft; [and]

9. Inspection of buildings and other premises for the enforcement of fire,

sanitary and building regulations.33

In the exceptional instances where a warrant is not necessary to effect a valid

search or seizure, what constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search or
seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the
circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the
presence or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and
seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the articles

In light of the enumerated exceptions, and applying the test of reasonableness

laid down above, is the warrantless search and seizure of the firearm and
ammunition valid?

We answer in the negative.

For one, the warrantless search could not be justified as an incident to a lawful
arrest. Searches and seizures incident to lawful arrests are governed by Section
13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, which reads:

SEC. 13. Search incident to lawful arrest. – A person lawfully arrested may be
searched for dangerous weapons or anything which may have been used or
constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.

We would like to stress that the scope of the warrantless search is not without
limitations. In People v. Leangsiri,35 People v. Cubcubin, Jr.,36 and People v.
Estella,37 we had the occasion to lay down the parameters of a valid
warrantless search and seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest.

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the
person arrested in order to remove any weapon that the latter might use in
order to resist arrest or effect his escape. Otherwise, the officer’s safety might
well be endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is entirely
reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize any evidence on the
arrestee’s person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction.38

Moreover, in lawful arrests, it becomes both the duty and the right of the
apprehending officers to conduct a warrantless search not only on the person
of the suspect, but also in the permissible area within the latter’s
reach.39 Otherwise stated, a valid arrest allows the seizure of evidence or
dangerous weapons either on the person of the one arrested or within the area
of his immediate control.40 The phrase "within the area of his immediate
control" means the area from within which he might gain possession of a
weapon or destructible evidence.41A gun on a table or in a drawer in front of
one who is arrested can be as dangerous to the arresting officer as one
concealed in the clothing of the person arrested.42

In the present case, Valeroso was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest

allegedly for kidnapping with ransom. At that time, Valeroso was sleeping
inside the boarding house of his children. He was awakened by the arresting
officers who were heavily armed. They pulled him out of the room, placed him
beside the faucet outside the room, tied his hands, and then put him under the
care of Disuanco.43 The other police officers remained inside the room and
ransacked the locked cabinet44 where they found the subject firearm and
ammunition.45 With such discovery, Valeroso was charged with illegal
possession of firearm and ammunition.

From the foregoing narration of facts, we can readily conclude that the
arresting officers served the warrant of arrest without any resistance from
Valeroso. They placed him immediately under their control by pulling him out
of the bed, and bringing him out of the room with his hands tied. To be sure,
the cabinet which, according to Valeroso, was locked, could no longer be
considered as an "area within his immediate control" because there was no way
for him to take any weapon or to destroy any evidence that could be used
against him.

The arresting officers would have been justified in searching the person of
Valeroso, as well as the tables or drawers in front of him, for any concealed
weapon that might be used against the former. But under the circumstances
obtaining, there was no comparable justification to search through all the desk
drawers and cabinets or the other closed or concealed areas in that room

It is worthy to note that the purpose of the exception (warrantless search as an

incident to a lawful arrest) is to protect the arresting officer from being harmed
by the person arrested, who might be armed with a concealed weapon, and to
prevent the latter from destroying evidence within reach. The exception,
therefore, should not be strained beyond what is needed to serve its
purpose.47 In the case before us, search was made in the locked cabinet which
cannot be said to have been within Valeroso’s immediate control. Thus, the
search exceeded the bounds of what may be considered as an incident to a
lawful arrest.48

Nor can the warrantless search in this case be justified under the "plain view

The "plain view doctrine" may not be used to launch unbridled searches and
indiscriminate seizures or to extend a general exploratory search made solely to
find evidence of defendant’s guilt. The doctrine is usually applied where a
police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused, but nonetheless
inadvertently comes across an incriminating object.49

As enunciated in People v. Cubcubin, Jr.50 and People v. Leangsiri:51

What the "plain view" cases have in common is that the police officer in each of
them had a prior justification for an intrusion in the course of which[,] he came
inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The
doctrine serves to supplement the prior justification – whether it be a warrant
for another object, hot pursuit, search incident to lawful arrest, or some other
legitimate reason for being present unconnected with a search directed against
the accused – and permits the warrantless seizure. Of course, the extension of
the original justification is legitimate only where it is immediately apparent to
the police that they have evidence before them; the "plain view" doctrine may
not be used to extend a general exploratory search from one object to another
until something incriminating at last emerges.52

Indeed, the police officers were inside the boarding house of Valeroso’s
children, because they were supposed to serve a warrant of arrest issued
against Valeroso. In other words, the police officers had a prior justification for
the intrusion. Consequently, any evidence that they would inadvertently
discover may be used against Valeroso. However, in this case, the police
officers did not just accidentally discover the subject firearm and ammunition;
they actually searched for evidence against Valeroso.

Clearly, the search made was illegal, a violation of Valeroso’s right against
unreasonable search and seizure. Consequently, the evidence obtained in
violation of said right is inadmissible in evidence against him.1avvphi1

Unreasonable searches and seizures are the menace against which the
constitutional guarantees afford full protection. While the power to search and
seize may at times be necessary for public welfare, still it may be exercised and
the law enforced without transgressing the constitutional rights of the citizens,
for no enforcement of any statute is of sufficient importance to justify
indifference to the basic principles of government. Those who are supposed to
enforce the law are not justified in disregarding the rights of an individual in
the name of order. Order is too high a price to pay for the loss of liberty.53

Because a warrantless search is in derogation of a constitutional right, peace

officers who conduct it cannot invoke regularity in the performance of official

The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are

stripped naked of their rights as human beings, democracy cannot survive and
government becomes meaningless. This explains why the Bill of Rights,
contained as it is in Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position of
primacy in the fundamental law way above the articles on governmental

Without the illegally seized firearm, Valeroso’s conviction cannot stand. There
is simply no sufficient evidence to convict him.56 All told, the guilt of Valeroso
was not proven beyond reasonable doubt measured by the required moral
certainty for conviction. The evidence presented by the prosecution was not
enough to overcome the presumption of innocence as constitutionally ordained.
Indeed, it would be better to set free ten men who might probably be guilty of
the crime charged than to convict one innocent man for a crime he did not

With the foregoing disquisition, there is no more need to discuss the other
issues raised by Valeroso.

One final note. The Court values liberty and will always insist on the
observance of basic constitutional rights as a condition sine qua non against
the awesome investigative and prosecutory powers of the government.58

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the February 22, 2008 Decision and
June 30, 2008 Resolution are RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE. Sr. Insp.
Jerry Valeroso is hereby ACQUITTED of illegal possession of firearm and