HCM Rights Case Digests
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Human and Cultural Minority Rights Lex Talionis Fraternitas Inc.
Human and Cultural Minority Rights Case Digests
Cariño vs CHR (G.R. No. 96681 Dec 2, 1991) Commission on Human Rights has no jurisdiction or adjudicatory powers over, or the power to try and decide, or hear and determine, certain specific type of cases, like alleged human rights violations involving civil or political rights
On September 17, 1990, a Monday and a class day, some 800 public school teachers, among them members of the Manila Public School Teachers Association (MPSTA) and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) undertook what they described as "mass concerted actions" to "dramatize and highlight" their plight resulting from the alleged failure of the public authorities to act upon grievances that had time and again been brought to the latter's attention. The "mass actions" consisted in staying away from their classes, converging at the Liwasang Bonifacio, gathering in peaceable assemblies, etc. Through their representatives, the teachers participating in the mass actions were served with an order of the Secretary of Education to return to work in 24 hours or face dismissal, and a memorandum directing the DECS officials concerned to initiate dismissal proceedings against those who did not comply and to hire their replacements. For failure to heed the return-to-work order, the CHR complainants (private respondents) were administratively charged on the basis of the principal's report and given five (5) days to answer the charges. They were also preventively suspended for ninety (90) days "pursuant to Section 41 of P.D. 807" and temporarily replaced. The case eventually resulted in a Decision of Secretary Cariño dated December 17, 1990, rendered after evaluation of the evidence as well as the answers, affidavits and documents submitted by the respondents, decreeing dismissal from the service of Apolinario Esber and the suspension for nine (9) months of Babaran, Budoy and del Castillo.
Issue: WoN the Commission on Human Rights has jurisdiction or adjudicatory powers over, or the power to try and decide, or hear and determine, certain specific type of cases, like alleged human rights violations involving civil or political rights Held: No, CHR have no power to do so. The most that may be conceded to the Commission in the way of adjudicative power is that it may investigate, i.e., receive evidence and make findings of fact as regards claimed human rights violations involving civil and political rights. But fact finding is not adjudication, and cannot be likened to the judicial function of a court of justice, or even a quasi-judicial agency or official. The function of receiving evidence and ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial function, properly speaking. To be considered such, the faculty of receiving evidence and making factual conclusions in a controversy must be accompanied by the authority of applying the law to those factual conclusions to the end that the controversy may be decided or determined authoritatively, finally and definitively, subject to such appeals or modes of review as may be provided by law. This function, to repeat, the Commission does not have. Hence it is that the Commission on Human Rights, having merely the power "to investigate," cannot and should not "try and resolve on the merits" (adjudicate) the matters involved in Striking Teachers HRC Case No. 90-775, as it has announced it means to do; and it cannot do so even if there be a claim that in the administrative disciplinary proceedings against the teachers in question, initiated and conducted by the DECS, their human rights, or civil or political rights had been transgressed. More particularly, the Commission has no power to "resolve on the merits" the question of (a) whether or not the mass concerted actions engaged in by the teachers constitute and are prohibited or otherwise restricted by law; (b) whether or not the act of carrying on and taking part in those actions, and the failure of the teachers to discontinue those actions, and return to their classes despite the order to this effect by the Secretary of Education, constitute
infractions of relevant rules and regulations warranting administrative disciplinary sanctions, or are justified by the grievances complained of by them; and (c) what where the particular acts done by each individual teacher and what sanctions, if any, may properly be imposed for said acts or omissions. These are matters undoubtedly and clearly within the original jurisdiction of the Secretary of Education, being within the scope of the disciplinary powers granted to him under the Civil Service Law, and also, within the appellate jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission. The Commission on Human Rights simply has no place in this scheme of things. It has no business intruding into the jurisdiction and functions of the Education Secretary or the Civil Service Commission. It has no business going over the same ground traversed by the latter and making its own judgment on the questions involved. This would accord success to what may well have been the complaining teachers' strategy to abort, frustrate or negate the judgment of the Education Secretary in the administrative cases against them which they anticipated would be adverse to them. This cannot be done. It will not be permitted to be done. In any event, the investigation by the Commission on Human Rights would serve no useful purpose. If its investigation should result in conclusions contrary to those reached by Secretary Cariño, it would have no power anyway to reverse the Secretary's conclusions. Reversal thereof can only by done by the Civil Service Commission and lastly by this Court. The only thing the Commission can do, if it concludes that Secretary Cariño was in error, is to refer the matter to the appropriate Government agency or tribunal for assistance; that would be the Civil Service Commission. 35 It cannot arrogate unto itself the appellate jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission. Simon vs. CHR (G.R. No. 100150 Jan 5, 1994) CHR’s power to cite for contempt should be understood to apply only to violations of its adopted operational guidelines and rules of procedure essential to carry out its investigatorial powers.
Human and Cultural Minority Rights Lex Talionis Fraternitas Inc. A "Demolition Notice," dated 9 July 1990, signed by Carlos Quimpo (one of the petitioners) in his capacity as an Executive Officer of the Quezon City Integrated Hawkers Management Council under the Office of the City Mayor, was sent to, and received by, the private respondents (being the officers and members of the North EDSA Vendors Association, Incorporated). In said notice, the respondents were given a grace-period of three (3) days (up to 12 July 1990) within which to vacate the questioned premises of North EDSA. Prior to their receipt of the demolition notice, the private respondents were informed by petitioner Quimpo that their stalls should be removed to give way to the "People's Park". On 12 July 1990, the group, led by their President Roque Fermo, filed a letter-complaint (Pinag-samang Sinumpaang Salaysay) with the CHR against the petitioners, asking the late CHR Chairman Mary Concepcion Bautista for a letter to be addressed to then Mayor Brigido Simon, Jr., of Quezon City to stop the demolition of the private respondents' stalls, sari-sari stores, and carinderia along North EDSA. The complaint was docketed as CHR Case No. 90-1580. On 23 July 1990, the CHR issued an Order, directing the petitioners "to desist from demolishing the stalls and shanties at North EDSA pending resolution of the vendors/squatters' complaint before the Commission" and ordering said petitioners to appear before the CHR. In an Order, dated 25 September 1990, the CHR cited the petitioners in contempt for carrying out the demolition of the stalls, sari-sari stores and carinderia despite the "order to desist", and it imposed a fine of P500.00 on each of them. Issue: Whether or not the CHR has jurisdiction: a) to investigate the alleged violations of the "business rights" of the private respondents whose stalls were demolished by the petitioners at the instance and authority given by the Mayor of Quezon City; b) to impose the fine of P500.00 each on the petitioners for contempt;
Held: a) Recalling the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, aforequoted, it is readily apparent that the delegates envisioned a Commission on Human Rights that would focus its attention to the more severe cases of human rights violations. Delegate Garcia, for instance, mentioned such areas as the "(1) protection of rights of political detainees, (2) treatment of prisoners and the prevention of tortures, (3) fair and public trials, (4) cases of disappearances, (5) salvagings and hamletting, and (6) other crimes committed against the religious." While the enumeration has not likely been meant to have any preclusive effect, more than just expressing a statement of priority, it is, nonetheless, significant for the tone it has set. In any event, the delegates did not apparently take comfort in peremptorily making a conclusive delineation of the CHR's scope of investigatorial jurisdiction. They have thus seen it fit to resolve, instead, that "Congress may provide for other cases of violations of human rights that should fall within the authority of the Commission, taking into account its recommendation." In the particular case at hand, there is no cavil that what are sought to be demolished are the stalls, sari-sari stores and carinderia, as well as temporary shanties, erected by private respondents on a land which is planned to be developed into a "People's Park". More than that, the land adjoins the North EDSA of Quezon City which, this Court can take judicial notice of, is a busy national highway. The consequent danger to life and limb is not thus to be likewise simply ignored. It is indeed paradoxical that a right which is claimed to have been violated is one that cannot, in the first place, even be invoked, if it is, in fact, extant. Be that as it may, looking at the standards hereinabove discoursed vis-avis the circumstances obtaining in this instance, we are not prepared to conclude that the order for the demolition of the stalls, sari-sari stores and carinderia of the private respondents can fall within the compartment of "human rights violations involving civil and political rights" intended by the Constitution. b) No, on its contempt powers, the CHR is constitutionally authorized to "adopt its operational guidelines and rules of
procedure, and cite for contempt for violations thereof in accordance with the Rules of Court." Accordingly, the CHR acted within its authority in providing in its revised rules, its power "to cite or hold any person in direct or indirect contempt, and to impose the appropriate penalties in accordance with the procedure and sanctions provided for in the Rules of Court." That power to cite for contempt, however, should be understood to apply only to violations of its adopted operational guidelines and rules of procedure essential to carry out its investigatorial powers. To exemplify, the power to cite for contempt could be exercised against persons who refuse to cooperate with the said body, or who unduly withhold relevant information, or who decline to honor summons, and the like, in pursuing its investigative work. The "order to desist" (a semantic interplay for a restraining order) in the instance before us, however, is not investigatorial in character but prescinds from an adjudicative power that it does not possess. Marcos vs. Manglapus (G.R. No. 88211 Oct 27, 1989) The right to return to one's country is not among the rights specifically guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, which treats only of the liberty of abode and the right to travel.
Issue: WON the President have the power to bar the return of former President Marcos and family to the Philippines? Held: Yes, President Aquino has the power to bar the return of former President Marcos and family to the Philippines. It must be emphasized that the individual right involved is not the right to travel from the Philippines to other countries or within the Philippines. These are what the right to travel would normally connote. Essentially, the right involved is the right to return to one's country, a totally distinct right under international law, independent from although related to the right to travel. The right to return to one's country is not among the rights specifically guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, which treats only of the liberty of abode and the right to travel, but it is our well-considered view that the right to
Human and Cultural Minority Rights Lex Talionis Fraternitas Inc. return may be considered, as a generally accepted principle of international law and, under our Constitution, is part of the law of the land [Art. II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution.] However, it is distinct and separate from the right to travel and enjoys a different protection under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Contrary to petitioners' view, it cannot be denied that the President, upon whom executive power is vested, has unstated residual powers which are implied from the grant of executive power and which are necessary for her to comply with her duties under the Constitution. The powers of the President are not limited to what are expressly enumerated in the article on the Executive Department and in scattered provisions of the Constitution. The Court cannot close its eyes to present realities and pretend that the country is not besieged from within by a well-organized communist insurgency, a separatist movement in Mindanao, rightist conspiracies to grab power, urban terrorism, the murder with impunity of military men, police officers and civilian officials, to mention only a few. The documented history of the efforts of the Marcoses and their followers to destabilize the country, as earlier narrated in this ponencia bolsters the conclusion that the return of the Marcoses at this time would only exacerbate and intensify the violence directed against the State and instigate more chaos. As divergent and discordant forces, the enemies of the State may be contained. The military establishment has given assurances that it could handle the threats posed by particular groups. But it is the catalytic effect of the return of the Marcoses that may prove to be the proverbial final straw that would break the camel's back. With these before her, the President cannot be said to have acted arbitrarily and capriciously and whimsically in determining that the return of the Marcoses poses a serious threat to the national interest and welfare and in prohibiting their return. It will not do to argue that if the return of the Marcoses to the Philippines will cause the escalation of violence against the State, that would be the time for the President to step in and exercise the commander-in-chief powers granted her by the Constitution to suppress or stamp
out such violence. The State, acting through the Government, is not precluded from taking pre-emptive action against threats to its existence if, though still nascent they are perceived as apt to become serious and direct. Protection of the people is the essence of the duty of government. The preservation of the State the fruition of the people's sovereignty is an obligation in the highest order. The President, sworn to preserve and defend the Constitution and to see the faithful execution the laws, cannot shirk from that responsibility. Among the duties of the President under the Constitution, in compliance with his (or her) oath of office, is to protect and promote the interest and welfare of the people. Her decision to bar the return of the Marcoses and subsequently, the remains of Mr. Marcos at the present time and under present circumstances is in compliance with this bounden duty. The return of the deposed President, his wife and children cannot but pose a clear and present danger to public order and safety. Gutierrez (dissenting): There is only one Bill of Rights with the same interpretation of liberty and the same guarantee of freedom for both unloved and despised persons on one hand and the rest who are not so stigmatized on the other. I am, therefore, disturbed by the majority ruling which declares that it should not be a precedent. We are interpreting the Constitution for only one person and constituting him into a class by himself. The Constitution is a law for all classes of men at all times. To have a person as one class by himself smacks of unequal protection of the laws. With all due respect for the majority in the Court, I believe that the issue before us is one of rights and not of power. Mr. Marcos is insensate and would not live if separated from the machines which have taken over the functions of his kidneys and other organs. To treat him at this point as one with full panoply of power against whom the forces of Government should be marshalled is totally unrealistic. The Government has the power to arrest and punish him. But does it have the power to deny him his right to come home and die among familiar surroundings? Hence, this dissent. The Bill of Rights provides: Sec. 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law. (Emphasis supplied, Section 6, Art. 111, Constitution) With all due respect for the majority opinion, I disagree with its dictum on the right to travel. I do not think we should differentiate the right to return home from the right to go abroad or to move around in the Philippines. If at all, the right to come home must be more preferred than any other aspect of the right to travel.
Cruz(dissenting): It is my belief that the petitioner, as a citizen of the Philippines, is entitled to return to and live — and die — in his own country. I say this with a heavy heart but say it nonetheless. That conviction is not diminished one whit simply because many believe Marcos to be beneath contempt and undeserving of the very liberties he flounted when he was the absolute ruler of this land. Paras(dissenting): There is no dispute that the former President is still a Filipino citizen and both under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, he has the right to return to his own country except only if prevented by the demands of national safety and national security. Our Armed Forces have failed to prove this danger. They are bereft of hard evidence, and all they can rely on is sheer speculation. True, there is some danger but there is no showing as to the extent. It is incredible that one man alone together with his family, who had been ousted from this country by popular will, can arouse an entire country to rise in morbid sympathy for the cause he once espoused. Sarmiento (dissenting): The only issue that saddles the Court is simply: "whether or not, in the exercise of the powers granted by the Constitution, the President may prohibit the Marcoses from returning to the Philippines." I therefore take exception to allusions anent "the capacity of the Marcoses to stir trouble even from afar." I have legitimate reason to fear that my brethren, in passing judgment on the Marcoses (insofar as their "capacity to stir trouble" is concerned), have overstepped the bounds of judicial restraint, or even worse, convicted them without trial. I also find quite strained what the majority would have as the "real issues" facing the Court: "The right to return to one's country," pitted against "the right of travel and freedom of abode", and their supposed distinctions under international law, as if such distinctions, under international law in truth and in fact exist. There is only one right involved here, whether under municipal or international law: the light of travel, whether within one's own country, or to another, and the right to return thereto. The Constitution itself makes no distinctions; let then, no one make a distinction. Ubi lex non distinguish nec nos distinguere debemus.
Human and Cultural Minority Rights Lex Talionis Fraternitas Inc.