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G.R. No. 91500 – 190 SCRA 782 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Judicial Department – Judicial Review – Declaratory Relief Not Among the Supreme Court’s Original Jurisdiction
In January 1960, Republic Act 3001 was passed granting Allied Broadcasting Center, Inc. (ABC) the right to operate broadcasting stations. ABC subsequently established 10 radio stations. In November 1974, Presidential Decree 576-A was passed delineating and restricting radio station ownership. It basically regulated entities like ABC of their ownership of some of its stations. One of the law’s provisions is that a broadcasting station should only own one radio station per municipality or city. This made ABC lose 7 of its radio stations. ABC then filed directly with the Supreme Court a petition to declare the said law as invalid. It alleged that the law is arbitrary.
ISSUE: Whether or not there exists a controversy between ABC and the government by virtue of the law.
HELD: No. The SC ruled that ABC’s petition is actually a petition of declaratory relief which is not among the petitions within the original jurisdiction of the SC even if only questions of law are involved – on this procedural lapse alone, the case is already dismissed.
The SC ruled that there is no actual case or controversy involving the law sought to be nullified. Though ABC did lose 7 of its original 10 radio stations pursuant to the said law, there is nothing in the case which indicated that ABC complied under protest. ABC is therefore deemed to have merely complied with the law and ABC is now estopped from disclaiming such compliance.
ABC does not allege that it has filed an application for a license to operate a radio or television station in excess of the authorized number and that the same is being denied or refused on the basis of the restrictions under PD. 576-A. ABC does not also allege that it had been penalized or is being penalized for a violation under said PD. There is, likewise, no DIRECT allegation that any of ABC’s stations had been confiscated or shut down pursuant to PD 576-A. Obviously, the constitutional challenge is not being raised in the context of a specific case or controversy wherein ABC has asserted its rights. All that ABC seeks is the nullification of PD 576-A and the reinstatement of its rights under RA 3001.
Judicial review cannot be exercised in vacuo. Judicial power is the right to determine actual controversies arising between adverse litigants. The function of the courts is to determine controversies between litigants and not to give advisory opinions. The power of judicial review can only be exercised in connection with a bona fide case or controversy which involves the statute sought to be reviewed.