Political Law

Valentino Legaspi vs Secretary of Finance

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G.R. No. L-58289 – 15 SCRA 418 – Political Law – Basic Concepts – Forms of Government

Legaspi, then incumbent member of the interim Batasang Pambansa, petitioned to declare Presidential Decree 1840 “granting tax amnesty and filing of statement of assets and liabilities and some other purposes” unconstitutional. He argued that said decree was promulgated despite the fact that under the Constitution “(T)he Legislative power shall be vested in a Batasang Pambansa” (Sec. 1, Article VIII) and the President may grant amnesty only “with concurrence of the Batasang Pambansa.”

ISSUE: Whether or not the President (PM) can issue such decrees.

HELD: It is to be observed that the original text mentions President (Prime Minister). This is so because “. . . The incumbent President of the Philippines shall be the Prime Minister and he shall continue to exercise all his powers even after the interim Batasang Pambansa is organized and ready to discharge its functions, and likewise he shall continue to exercise his powers and prerogatives under the 1935 Constitution and the powers vested in the President and the Prime Minister under this Constitution.” Parenthetically, the term “Incumbent President” employed in the transitory provisions could only refer to President Ferdinand E. Marcos (Aquino vs. Commission on Elections, 62 SCRA 275).  “After the April 7 amendments there exists no longer “a President (Prime Minister)” but “A President and A Prime Minister.” They are now two different offices which cannot be held by a single person – not a transitory one but a regular one provided for and governed by the main provisions of the newly amended Constitution. Subsequent events accept the reality that we are no longer governed by the transitory provisions of the Constitution.” This form of government is essentially parliamentary with presidential features.

Read other versions of this digest here (Amnesty) and here (Martial Law)

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