C. Separation of powers

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1. Actual Division in our Constitution

The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not through express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government. (Angara v. The Electoral Commission, G.R. No. L-45081, 15 July 1936)

a. Legislature, Executive, Judiciary

It is the duty of the Legislature to make the law; of the Executive to execute the law; and of the Judiciary to construe the law. The Legislature has no authority to execute or construe the law, the Executive has no authority to make or construe the law, and the Judiciary has no power to make or execute the law. Subject to the Constitution only, the power of each branch is supreme within its own jurisdiction, and it is for the Judiciary only to say when any Act of the Legislature is or is not constitutional. (The United States v. Ang Tang Ho, G.R. No. 17122, 27 February 1922)

1) Enforcement of national budget

The enforcement of the national budget, as primarily contained in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), is indisputably a function both constitutionally assigned and properly entrusted to the Executive branch of government. (Belgica v. Ochoa, Jr., En Banc, G.R. No. 208566, 19 November 2013)

Thus, unless the Constitution provides otherwise, the Executive department should exclusively exercise all roles and prerogatives which go into the implementation of the national budget as provided under the GAA as well as any other appropriation law. (Ibid.)

BAR EXAM QUESTION
(Question B.17, Political Law, 2019 Bar Exam)
In 2014, Congress enacted an appropriation law containing a provision that gives individual legislators the discretion to determine, post-enactment, how much funds would go to a specific project or beneficiary which they themselves also determine. Consequently, disbursements were made in the interim pursuant thereto.
Eventually, Mr. Z filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of the statutory provision on the grounds that it violates the separation of powers principle.
On the other hand, certain Congressman argued that there was nothing wrong with the provision because, after all, the power to appropriate belongs to Congress.
(a) Rule on the arguments of the parties. (2.5%)
Suggested Answer:
Petition should be granted. Answer
Under the 1987 Constitution and jurisprudence, the separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It is the duty of the Legislature to make the law; of the Executive to execute the law; and of the Judiciary to construe the law. Rule
In the case at bar, the questioned law violates the separation of powers as it granted the Legislature the authority to enforce the law. However, such power to execute the law is exclusively with the Executive. Apply
Thus, the petition should be granted on the ground that the law violates the principle of separation of powers. Conclusion

2. Inter-Branch Courtesy

Inter-branch courtesy is but a consequence of the doctrine of separation of powers. (Kilusang Mayo Uno v. Aquino, G.R. No. 210500, 02 April 2019)

The concept of separation of powers presupposes mutual respect by and between the three departments of the government. (Tecson v. Salas, G.R. No. L-27524, 31 July 1970)

3. Independent of each Branch

The concept of the independence of the three branches of government, on the other hand, extends from the notion that the powers of government must be divided to avoid concentration of these powers in any one branch; the division, it is hoped, would avoid any single branch from lording its power over the other branches or the citizenry. To achieve this purpose, the divided power must be wielded by co-equal branches of government that are equally capable of independent action in exercising their respective mandates; lack of independence would result in the inability of one branch of government to check the arbitrary or self-interest assertions of another or others. (Re: COA Opinion on the Computation of the Appraised Value of the Properties Purchased by the Retired Chief/Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, En Banc, A.M. No. 11-7-10-SC, 31 July 2012)

The Constitution expressly prohibits Congress from depriving the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction, as enumerated in Section 5, Article VII of the Constitution, or from passing a law that undermines the security of tenure of the members of the judiciary. The Constitution also mandates that the judiciary shall enjoy fiscal autonomy, and grants the Supreme Court administrative supervision over all courts and judicial personnel. Jurisprudence has characterized administrative supervision as exclusive, noting that only the Supreme Court can oversee the judges and court personnel’s compliance with all laws, rules and regulations. No other branch of government may intrude into this power, without running afoul of the doctrine of separation of powers. (Re: COA Opinion on the Computation of the Appraised Value of the Properties Purchased by the Retired Chief/Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, En Banc, A.M. No. 11-7-10-SC, 31 July 2012)

4. In relation to Doctrine of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

In connection with acts of administrative agencies, ripeness is ensured under the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. Courts may only take cognizance of a case or controversy if the petitioner has exhausted all remedies available to it under the law. The doctrine ensures that the administrative agency exercised its power to its full extent, including its authority to correct or reconsider its actions. It would, thus, be premature for courts to take cognizance of the case prior to the exhaustion of remedies, not to mention it would violate the principle of separation of powers. (Kilusang Mayo Uno v. Aquino, G.R. No. 210500, 02 April 2019)

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