G.R. No. 84929 – 199 SCRA 501 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Judicial Department – Judicial Review – Legitimizing Function – Collateral attacks vs constitutionality of laws
Adela Tuason is the owner of a parcel of land. She leased the same to Julio Lagmay and 2 others. Tuason got sick and she needed to sell her land. She then sent letters to each of her lessees advising them of her intention to sell the land and that she is giving them the option to buy what they were occupying. Lagmay et al did not bother to reply. Tuason thereafter did not collect the rentals from each. Lagmay et al bothered not to pay. After 2 years, Tuason’s sisters politely advised Lagmay et al to vacate the land so that Tuason could sell the same. Lagmay et al did not reply not until 3 months and this time they agreed to buy the parcel of land. Tuason however did not reply. Lagmay et al the filed a complaint asserting their right over the land they’ve been occupying for quite some time as guaranteed by PD 1517 or the Urban Land Reform Law. The lower court ruled that Lagmay et al waived their right under the said PD when they refused to reply to Tuason’s initial offer. Lagmay et al appealed to the Court of Appeals. The CA upheld the lower court. The CA additionally pointed out that the parcel of land in question is not declared as an “urban land” under PD 1967. Lagmay et al filed a motion for reconsideration assailing the constitutionality of PD 1967. The CA denied the motion ruling that Lagmay et al cannot raise a question of law since they did not raise the same during the trial of merits.
ISSUE: Whether or not the constitutionality of PD 1967 is ripe for judicial determination in this case.
HELD: No. The Supreme Court ruled that they must avoid the issue of constitutionality in this case because the controversy can be decided by other means. The issue of constitutionality of a statute, executive order or proclamation must be the very lis mota presented in a case. The Court does not decide questions of a constitutional nature unless that question is properly raised and presented in an appropriate case and is necessary to its determination. Although the Court may deem it best for public policy to resolve the constitutional issue considering that numerous persons are affected by the questioned proclamation there are other grounds by which this case may be resolved on a non-constitutional determination.