Political Law

Bara Lidasan vs Commission on Elections

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G.R. No. L-28089 – 21 SCRA 496 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Legislative Department – Legislative Powers; Lawmaking Power – Effect if Title Does Not Completely Express the Subject

Bara Lidasan was a resident of Parang, Cotabato. Later, Republic Act No. 4790, entitled “An Act Creating the Municipality of Dianaton in the Province of Lanao del Sur,” was passed. Lidasan however discovered that certain barrios located in Cotabato were included in Dianaton, Lanao Del Sur, pursuant to RA 4790. [Remarkably, even the Congressman of Cotabato voted in favor of RA 4790.]  Pursuant to this law, COMELEC proceeded to establish precincts for voter registration in the said territories of Dianaton. Lidasan then filed a case to have RA 4790 be nullified for being unconstitutional. He averred that the law did not clearly indicate in its title that in creating Dianaton, it would be including in its territory several barrios from Cotabato.

ISSUE: Whether or not RA 4790 is constitutional.

HELD: No. It is void. The baneful effect of the defective title here presented is not so difficult to perceive. Such title did not inform the members of Congress as to the full impact of the law; it did not apprise the people in the towns of Buldon and Parang in Cotabato and in the province of Cotabato itself that part of their territory is being taken away from their towns and province and added to the adjacent Province of Lanao del Sur; it kept the public in the dark as to what towns and provinces were actually affected by the bill that even a Congressman from Cotabato voted for it only to find out later on that it is to the prejudice of his own province.

The rule is “No bill which may be enacted into law shall embrace more than one subject which shall be expressed in the title of the bill”. The title should inform the legislators, the persons interested in the subject of the bill, and the public, of the nature, scope and consequences of the proposed law and its operation. Here, the title — “An Act Creating the Municipality of Dianaton, in the Province of Lanao del Sur” — projects the impression that solely the province of Lanao del Sur is affected by the creation of Dianaton. Not the slightest intimation is there that communities in the adjacent province of Cotabato are incorporated in this new Lanao del Sur town.

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