E. The Supreme Court (composition, powers, and functions)

Atty. Jericho Del Puerto

Atty. Jericho Del Puerto

Lawyer, Author, Mentor

Frequency: ★★★☆☆

1. Composition

1 Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justice. The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen (14) Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or in its discretion, in divisions of three, five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from the occurrence thereof. (Section 4[1], Article VIII, 1987 Constitution)

Salaries. The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and of judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law. During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be decreased. (Section 10, Article VIII, Ibid.)

Promulgate rules of procedure. The Supreme Court, under its sole prerogative and authority over all matters of procedure, deems it proper to declare as ineffective the prohibition against courts other than the Supreme Court from issuing provisional injunctive writs to enjoin investigations conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman, until it is adopted as part of the rules of procedure through an administrative circular duly issued therefor. (Carpio-Morales v. CA, En Banc, G.R. No. 217126-27, 10 November 2015)

2. Powers and functions

Supreme Court’s Powers and Functions:
1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.
2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:
a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question.
b) All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any penalty imposed in relation thereto.
c) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue.
d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.
e) All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved.
3) Assign temporarily judges of lower courts to other stations as public interest may require. Such temporary assignment shall not exceed six months without the consent of the judge concerned.
4) Order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice.
5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.
6) Appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with the Civil Service Law. (Section 5, Article VIII, Ibid.)
Supreme Court En Banc’s Jurisdiction:
1) All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement, or law; (Section 4[2], Article VIII, Ibid.)
2) All other cases which under the Rules of Court are required to be heard en banc, including those involving the constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations; (Ibid.)
3) When the required number is not obtained when cases or matters are heard by a division, the case shall be decided en banc: Provided, that no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the court in a decision rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the court sitting en banc. (Section 4[3], Article VIII, Ibid.)

Decided by majority who actually took part in deliberations. The cases for En Banc resolution shall be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon. (Section 4[2], Article VIII, Ibid.)

Same; Who took no part, dissented, or abstained – state reason. Any Member who took no part, or dissented, or abstained from a decision or resolution must state the reason therefor. (Section 13, Article VIII, Ibid.)

Same; Same; Lower collegiate courts. The same requirements shall be observed by all lower collegiate courts. (Section 13, Article VIII, Ibid.)

Consultation. The conclusions of the Supreme Court in any case submitted to it for decision en banc or in division shall be reached in consultation before the case is assigned to a Member for the writing of the opinion of the Court. (Section 13, Article VIII, 1987 Constitution)

Same; Certification. A certification to this effect signed by the Chief Justice shall be issued and a copy thereof attached to the record of the case and served upon the parties.  (Ibid.)

Decision; Constiutional requirements.No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. (Section 14, Article VIII, Ibid.)

Refusal of petition for review or motion for reconsideration. No petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court shall be refused due course or denied without stating the legal basis therefor. (Paragraph 2, Section 14, Article VIII, Ibid.)

Division. Cases or matters heard by a division shall be decided or resolved with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon, and in no case, without the concurrence of at least three of such Members. (Section 4[3], Article VIII, Ibid.)

3. Administrative supervision over all courts

Administrative supervision. The Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof. (Section 6, Article VIII, Ibid.)

Power to discipline judges of lower courts. The Supreme Court en banc shall have the power to discipline judges of lower courts, or order their dismissal by a vote of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon. (Section 11, Article VIII, Ibid.)

Periods to decide or resolve cases. All cases or matters must be decided or resolved:

1) Within twenty-four (24) months from date of submission for the Supreme Court;

2) Within twelve (12) months for all lower collegiate courts; and

3) Within three (3) months for all other lower courts. (Section 15[1], Article VIII, Ibid.)

Same; Lower collegiate courts. The periods for lower collegiate courts and lower courts may be reduced by the Supreme Court. (Ibid.)

Same; Upon expiration of periods. Upon the expiration of the corresponding period, a certification to this effect signed by the Chief Justice or the presiding judge shall forthwith be issued and a copy thereof attached to the record of the case or matter, and served upon the parties. The certification shall state why a decision or resolution has not been rendered or issued within said period. (Section 15[3], Article VIII, Ibid.)

Same; Same; Resolve without further delay. Despite the expiration of the applicable mandatory period, the court, without prejudice to such responsibility as may have been incurred in consequence thereof, shall decide or resolve the case or matter submitted thereto for determination, without further delay. (Section 15[4], Article VIII, Ibid.)

When deemed submitted for decision or resolution. A case or matter shall be deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pending, brief, or memorandum required by the Rules of Court or by the court itself. (Section 15[2], Article VIII, Ibid.)

4. Report to the President and Congress

Annual Report. The Supreme Court shall, within thirty (30) days from the opening of each regular session of the Congress, submit to the President and the Congress an annual report on the operations and activities of the Judiciary. (Section 16, Article VIII, Ibid.)

•••••

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question X, Political Law, 2018 Bar Exam)

Ascertain the constitutionality of the following acts: (2.5% each)

(b) A law prohibiting any court, other than the Supreme Court, from issuing a writ of injunction against an investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman.

Suggested Answer:

It is unconstitutional. Under jurisprudence, the Supreme Court, under its sole prerogative and authority over all matters of procedure, deemed it proper to declare as ineffective the prohibition against courts other than the Supreme Court from issuing provisional injunctive writs to enjoin investigations conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman.

•••••

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