Monday, June 24, 2013

Dean Ed Vincent Albano's Answers to the Political Law Mock Bar Exams

Political Law Mock BarAnswers
(Supplied by Dean Ed Vincent Albano)

1. Cong. Jonathan Dela Cruz filed House Bill No. 59 seeking to increase the voting age to twenty-one (21) years old claiming that voters who are below 21 are so immature to vote. A filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of the bill. If you were the judge, how would you decide? Explain.

      If I were the judge, I would dismiss the petition on the ground that it is premature as the issue is not ripe for judicial determination. Well-settled is the rule that before the constitutionality of a law may be raised, the following requisites must be complied with:

a)      there must be an actual controversy;
b)      the person raising the constitutionality must have locus standi;
c)      timeliness of the petition;
d)      necessity to decide the issue of constitutionality of the law.

While A may have the locus standi to raise the issue as he is a taxpayer who may be adversely affected, yet, the petition is still premature as there is only a proposal before the Congress. Thus, there is no necessity yet to decide the issue. More importantly, there is no actual controversy yet, as no right has been violated by the proposed bill. The bill has yet to be enacted into law. Unless and until it is enacted into law, no right would be violated. It is a rule that that judicial review cannot be exercised in vacuo. For as defined by the constitution judicial power is the power to determine legally demandable rights. In this case, there is no demandable right yet. Hence the petition should be dismissed.

Furthermore, to act on the petition at this stage would violate the principle of separation of powers. Congress is vested with the power to legislate. To determine what the law is is for Congress to do which cannot be interfered with, by the courts by deciding an issue that is not yet ripe for judicial determination. The courts can only act on an issue raised before it if there is a violation of the rights of a party.

2. A, a Filipino citizen, migrated to Hawaii, USA in 1980 and embraced American citizenship. For purposes of the 2013 mid-term elections, he filed his certificate of candidacy. Before doing so, he executed an affidavit renouncing his American citizenship and resided in Ilocos Norte. On December 20, 2012, he went to Hawaii using his American passport and repeated it on February 14, 2013. He won in the elections, hence, the losing candidate, P, came to you for advice whether A is eligible to occupy the position as Mayor. Advice your client and what remedy will you file. Explain.

 If I were the counsel of P, I would advise him that A is not eligible to assume the position as mayor, as he is not a Filipino citizen. One of the qualifications of a person to run for public office, or to occupy a public office in the Philippines is that, he must be a citizen of the Philippines. This is by reason of public policy, that public office is reserved for the Filipinos because it would be incongruous to allow a foreigner, who owes no loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and the electorates to hold a public office.

In this case, when A executed an affidavit renouncing his American citizen, he became eligible to run for public office or even to assume the position of mayor as he had regained his Filipino citizenship. Such qualification is continuing, but when A continued to use his American passport after renouncing his other citizenship, he in effect repudiated the affidavit of renunciation of American citizenship and lost his Filipino citizenship. Such act resulted in the loss of his qualification to run for mayor.

To reacquire Filipino citizenship is not a matter of right. It is a mere privilege especially so that there are requirements provided for by law for its reacquisition. It is not a commodity which can be displayed when necessary and concealed when it is not. As A violated such rule when he used his American passport after renouncing his other citizenship, he is not qualified to run as mayor.

Hence, I would advice P to file a petition to prevent the proclamation of A as mayor. If he has been proclaimed, I would advice P to file a petition with the Comelec to annul A’s proclamation. If he has assumed office, I would advice P to file a petition for quo warranto with the RTC to annul his proclamation, unseat him and that P be proclaimed as the duly elected mayor as A was disqualified from the inception. P was the only candidate, hence, he should be proclaimed as mayor.

3.A filed his certificate of candidacy for Congressman of the First District of Laguna. He was elected, proclaimed and assumed the office. B, a voter, filed a Petition for Quo Warranto with the RTC of Laguna, seeking to question A’s eligibility, since he has not complied with the residence requirement. If you were the judge, how would you decide? Explain.

If I were the judge, I would dismiss the petition, on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. The HRET has jurisdiction and not the regular courts because under the Constitution, the HRET shall be the sole judge of all contests pertaining to the election, returns and qualification of the members of the House of Representatives. Sole means exclusive. For one to act on the petition would violate the principle of separation of powers. My acts would be void ab initio and of no effect. 


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