Political Law

Randolf David vs President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

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G.R. No. 171396 – 489 SCRA 160 – Political Law – The Executive Branch – Presidential Proclamation 1017 – Take Care Clause – Take Over Power – Calling Out Power

Bill of Rights – Freedom of Speech – Overbreadth

In February 2006, due to the escape of some Magdalo members and the discovery of a plan (Oplan Hackle I) to assassinate the president, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) issued Presidential Proclamation 1017 (PP1017) and is to be implemented by General Order No. 5 (GO 5). The said law was aimed to suppress lawlessness and the connivance of extremists to bring down the government.

Pursuant to such PP, GMA cancelled all plans to celebrate EDSA I and at the same time revoked all permits issued for rallies and other public organization/meeting. Notwithstanding the cancellation of their rally permit, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) head Randolf David proceeded to rally which led to his arrest.

Later that day, the Daily Tribune, which Cacho-Olivares is the editor, was raided by the CIDG and they seized and confiscated anti-GMA articles and write ups. Later still, another known anti-GMA news agency (Malaya) was raided and seized. On the same day, Beltran of Anakpawis, was also arrested. His arrest was however grounded on a warrant of arrest issued way back in 1985 for his actions against Marcos. His supporters cannot visit him in jail because of the current imposition of PP 1017 and GO 5.

In March, GMA issued PP 1021 which declared that the state of national emergency ceased to exist. David and some opposition Congressmen averred that PP1017 is unconstitutional for it has no factual basis and it cannot be validly declared by the president for such power is reposed in Congress.  Also such declaration is actually a declaration of martial law. Olivares-Cacho also averred that the emergency contemplated in the Constitution are those of natural calamities and that such is an overbreadth. Petitioners claim that PP 1017 is an overbreadth because it encroaches upon protected and unprotected rights. The Sol-Gen argued that the issue has become moot and academic by reason of the lifting of PP 1017 by virtue of the declaration of PP 1021. The Sol-Gen averred that PP 1017 is within the president’s calling out power, take care power, and take over power.

ISSUE: Whether or not PP 1017 and GO 5 is constitutional.

HELD: PP 1017 and its implementing GO are partly constitutional and partly unconstitutional.

The issue cannot be considered as moot and academic by reason of the lifting of the questioned PP. It is still in fact operative because there are parties still affected due to the alleged violation of the said PP. Hence, the SC can take cognition of the case at bar. The SC ruled that PP 1017 is constitutional in part and at the same time some provisions of which are unconstitutional. The SC ruled in the following way;

Resolution by the SC  on the Factual Basis of its declaration

The petitioners were not able to prove that GMA has no factual basis in issuing PP 1017 and GO 5. A reading of the Solicitor General’s Consolidated Comment and Memorandum shows a detailed narration of the events leading to the issuance of PP 1017, with supporting reports forming part of the records.  Mentioned are the escape of the Magdalo Group, their audacious threat of the Magdalo D-Day, the defections in the military, particularly in the Philippine Marines, and the reproving statements from the communist leaders. There was also the Minutes of the Intelligence Report and Security Group of the Philippine Army showing the growing alliance between the NPA and the military.  Petitioners presented nothing to refute such events.  Thus, absent any contrary allegations, the Court is convinced that the President was justified in issuing PP 1017 calling for military aid. Indeed, judging the seriousness of the incidents, GMA was not expected to simply fold her arms and do nothing to prevent or suppress what she believed was lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.  However, the exercise of such power or duty must not stifle liberty.

Resolution by the SC on the Overbreadth Theory

First and foremost, the overbreadth doctrine is an analytical tool developed for testing “on their faces” statutes in free speech cases. The 7 consolidated cases at bar are not primarily “freedom of speech”cases. Also, a plain reading of PP 1017 shows that it is not primarily directed to speech or even speech-related conduct.  It is actually a call upon the AFP to prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence. Moreover, the overbreadth doctrine is not intended for testing the validity of a law that “reflects legitimate state interest in maintaining comprehensive control over harmful, constitutionally unprotected conduct.” Undoubtedly, lawless violence, insurrection and rebellion are considered “harmful” and “constitutionally unprotected conduct.” Thus, claims of facial overbreadth are entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their terms, seek to regulate only “spoken words” and again, that “overbreadth claims, if entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected conduct.” Here, the incontrovertible fact remains that PP 1017 pertains to a spectrum of conduct, not free speech, which is manifestly subject to state regulation.

Resolution by the SC on the Calling Out Power Doctrine

On the basis of Sec 17, Art 7 of the Constitution, GMA declared PP 1017.  The SC considered the President’s “calling-out” power as a discretionary power solely vested in his wisdom, it stressed that “this does not prevent an examination of whether such power was exercised within permissible constitutional limits or whether it was exercised in a manner constituting grave abuse of discretion. The SC ruled that GMA has validly declared PP 1017 for the Constitution grants the President, as Commander-in-Chief, a “sequence” of graduated powers.  From the most to the least benign, these are: the calling-out power, the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and the power to declare Martial Law. The only criterion for the exercise of the calling-out power is that “whenever it becomes necessary,” the President may call the armed forces “to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.” And such criterion has been met.

Resolution by the SC on the Take Care Doctrine

Pursuant to the 2nd sentence of Sec 17, Art 7 of the Constitution (He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.) the president declared PP 1017. David et al averred that PP 1017 however violated Sec 1, Art 6 of the Constitution for it arrogated legislative power to the President. Such power is vested in Congress. They assail the clause “to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.” The SC noted that such provision is similar to the power that granted former President Marcos legislative powers (as provided in PP 1081).  The SC ruled that the assailed PP 1017 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants GMA the authority to promulgate “decrees.”  Legislative power is peculiarly within the province of the Legislature.  Sec 1, Article 6 categorically states that “[t]he legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.”  To be sure, neither Martial Law nor a state of rebellion nor a state of emergency can justify GMA'[s exercise of legislative power by issuing decrees. The president can only “take car” of the carrying out of laws but cannot create or enact laws.

Resolution by the SC on the Take Over Power Doctrine

The president cannot validly order the taking over of private corporations or institutions such as the Daily Tribune without any authority from Congress. On the other hand, the word emergency contemplated in the constitution is not limited to natural calamities but rather it also includes rebellion. The SC made a distinction; the president can declare the state of national emergency but her exercise of emergency powers does not come automatically after it for such exercise needs authority from Congress. The authority from Congress must be based on the following:

(1) There must be a war or other emergency.

(2)  The delegation must be for a limited period only.

(3)  The delegation must be subject to such restrictions as the Congress may prescribe.

(4)  The emergency powers must be exercised to carry out a national policy declared by Congress.

Resolution by the SC on the Issue that PP 1017 is a Martial Law Declaration

The SC ruled that PP 1017 is not a Martial Law declaration and is not tantamount to it. It is a valid exercise of the calling out power of the president by the president.

Note: Other cases consolidated here are: G.R. No. 171409, G.R. No. 171485, G.R. No. 171483, G.R. No. 171400, G.R. No. 171489, and G.R. No. 171424.

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