Political Law

In Re: Saturnino Bermudez

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G.R. No. 76180 – 145 SCRA 160 – Political Law – Basic Concepts – Elements of a State – Government – De Jure vs De Facto Government

Saturnino Bermudez, as a lawyer, questioned the validity of the first paragraph of Section 5 of Article XVIII of the proposed 1986 Constitution, which provides in full as follows:

Sec. 5.  The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice-President elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of synchronization of elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992.

The first regular elections for the President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1992.

Bermudez claims that the said provision “is not clear” as to whom it refers, he then asks the Court “to declare and answer the question of the construction and definiteness as to who, among the present incumbent President Corazon Aquino and Vice President Salvador Laurel and the elected President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Vice President Arturo M. Tolentino being referred to as the “incumbent president”.

ISSUE: Whether or not said provision is ambiguous.

HELD: No. Bermudez’s allegation of ambiguity or vagueness of the aforequoted provision is manifestly gratuitous, it being a matter of public record and common public knowledge that the Constitutional Commission refers therein to incumbent President Aquino and Vice-President Laurel, and to no other persons, and provides for the extension of their term to noon of June 30, 1992 for purposes of synchronization of elections. Hence, the second paragraph of the cited section provides for the holding on the second Monday of May, 1992 of the first regular elections for the President and Vice-President under said 1986 Constitution. In previous cases, the legitimacy of the government of President Aquino was likewise sought to be questioned with the claim that it was not established pursuant to the 1973 Constitution. The said cases were dismissed outright by the Supreme Court which held that: “Petitioners have no personality to sue and their petitions state no cause of action. For the legitimacy of the Aquino government is not a justiciable matter. It belongs to the realm of politics where only the people of the Philippines are the judge. And the people have made the judgment; they have accepted the government of President Corazon C. Aquino which is in effective control of the entire country so that it is not merely a de facto government but in fact and in law a de jure government. Moreover, the community of nations has recognized the legitimacy of the present government.”

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