Category Archives: Philippines – Political Law

Synchronization of ARMM elections

Republic Act No. 10153 provided for the synchronization of the ARMM elections with the national and local elections.  Thus, the next regular elections of the ARMM Governor, the ARMM Vice-Governor, and the members of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly will be held on the on the second Monday of May 2013, which coincides with our national and local elections.

Pending the elections in May 2013, the President is authorized to appoint officers-in-charge for the office of the Governor, the Vice-Governor and the members of the Regional Legislative Assembly.  RA 10153 creates a screening committee, whose members will be appointed by the President, which shall screen and recommend, in consultation with the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, the persons who will be appointed officers-in-charge.

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Omnibus Election Code: An Overview

Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, is the basic law governing the conduct of an election. Among others, it covers the following:

(a) the election of national and local officials;

(b) the powers and functions of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), which is the government agency tasked with the implementation of the Code and other election laws;

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Requirements for expenditure of public funds

Can government officials validly enter into contracts for the expenditure of public funds if no funds have been appropriated for the expenditure?  In Philippine National Railways v. Kanlaon Construction Enterprises, Co., Inc., G.R. No. 182967, April 6, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that three contracts entered into by the Philippine National Railways are void for failure to comply with the requirements of the Administrative Code of 1987.

According to the Court:

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Local Government Code of the Philippines: An Overview

One of the fundamental state policies enshrined in the Constitution is the autonomy of local government units. (Const., Art. II, Sec. 25). In this regard, the Constitution mandated Congress to “enact a local government code which shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units.” (Const., art. X, sec. 1)

Pursuant to the mandate given by the Constitution, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. The Code is divided into four books and covers the following:

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The Supreme Court changes its mind (again)

We know that the Supreme Court can reverse itself but who would have  guessed that the Supreme Court will reverse itself and then  reverse itself two more times?

This is what happened in League of Cities of the Philippines vs. COMELEC.

On November 18, 2008, the Supreme Court en banc, by a majority vote, declared several laws creating cities (the “Cityhood Laws”) unconstitutional for contravening the equal protection clause and Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution.

On December 21, 2009, the Supreme Court en banc issued another decision declaring the Cityhood Laws constitutional.

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The Supreme Court changes its mind

Surely, the Supreme Court is entitled to change its mind.  This is particularly true if the Court, in rendering the original decision, did not take into account a crucial matter that would have brought a different result to the case being considered.

It seems that lately, the Court is more prone to change its mind.  For example, sometime in 2009, the Court declared certain provisions of Republic Act 95 (which created the Philippine National Red Cross) as unconstitutional on the ground that the law violated the Constitutional prohibition against Congress creating a private corporation (see Liban vs. Gordon, G.R. No. 175352, July 15, 2009).

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Claire dela Fuente and Freedom of Expression

Philippine newspapers reported that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) canceled the franchise of a bus company owned and managed by singer Claire de la Fuente.  According to the LFTRB, the bus company participated in an unlawful strike in November 2010.  The strike left thousands of Metro Manila commuters stranded. Bus companies were then protesting the plan of the  Metro Manila Development Authority to include buses in the plate number coding scheme as part of an effort to reduce traffic congestion along EDSA. [Inquirer, January 21]

An LFTRB board member was quoted as saying that the bus company’s position is that the transport strike “is legal and lawful even if it would paralyze transportation and inconvenience the public.” [Manila Bulletin, January 21]

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The grandfather slays Medusa

Have we abandoned the control test (in favor of the grandfather rule)  in determining the nationality of a Philippine corporation engaged in a partly nationalized activity?

Medusa by Caravaggio

It would appear so insofar as the General Counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is concerned.  In SEC OGC Opinion No. 10-31 dated December 9, 2010 (which involves Australian mining company Medusa Mining Ltd), the SEC’s General Counsel ruled:

. . . we now opine that the control test must not be applied in determining if a corporation satisfies the Constitution’s requirements in certain areas of activities. . .  applying the control test effectively circumvents the Constitutional mandate that corporations engaging in certain activities must be 60% owned by Filipino citizens. . . Having established that the grandfather rule, instead of the control test, is the standard consistent with the provisions of the Constitutional (sic) and the Mining Act restricting foreign participation in a mineral production sharing agreement, we now apply the grandfather rule to the joint mining venture. . .

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