Bar Q and A #9

YES, cronyism is a legal ground for the impeachment of the President. Under Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust is one of the grounds for Impeachment. This refers to violation of the oath of office and includes cronyism which involves unduly favoring a crony to the prejudice of public interest. (Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II, p. 272)

It is initiated by the filing of a verified complaint by any member of the House of Representatives or any citizen upon resolution of endorsement by any member thereof. If the verified complaint is filed by at least 1/3 of all its members of the House of Representatives, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed. [1987 Constitution, Art. XI, Sec. 3 (4)]

In Francisco v. The House of Representatives, the Supreme Court clarified that the “term ‘to initiate refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint coupled with Congress’ taking initial action of said complaint.”

The President can be impeached for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust. The Supreme Court has already ruled that the provision in Article XVIII, Section 25 of the Constitution requires a treaty even for the mere temporary presence of foreign troops in the Philippines. (Bayan v. Zamora, G.R. No. 138570, October 10, 2000, 342 SCRA 499)

The President cannot claim, therefore, that he acted in good faith. (Report of the Special Committee in the Impeachment of President Quirino, Congressional Record of the House of President Quirino, Congressional Record of the House of Representatives, Vol. IV, p. 1553). Betrayal of public trust includes violation of the oath of the office of the President (Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II, p. 272). In his oath of office, the President swore to preserve and defend the Constitution. (Article VII, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution)

a.) The elements to be established in order to hold the superior liable under the doctrine of command responsibility are as follows:

  • The existence of a superior-subordinate relationship between the accused as superior and the perpetrator of the crime as his subordinate;

  • The superior knew or had reason to know that the crime was about to be or had been committed;

  • The superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the criminal acts or punish the perpetrators thereof (Rodriguez v. GMA, R. Nos. 191805 & 193160, November 15, 2011)

b.) Yes. The President may be held accountable under the principle of command responsibility. Being the commander-in-chief of all armed forces, he necessarily possesses control over the military that qualifies him as a superior within the purview of the command responsibility doctrine.

On the issue of knowledge, it must be pointed out that although international tribunals apply a strict standard of knowledge, i.e. actual knowledge, the same may nonetheless be established through circumstantial evidence. In the Philippines, a more liberal view is adopted and superiors may be charged with constructive knowledge.

As to the issue of failure to prevent or punish, it is important to note that as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the President has the power to effectively command, control, and discipline the military. (Rodriguez v. GMA, G.R. Nos. 191805 & 193160, Nov. 15, 2011)

Presidential communications privilege applies to decision-making of the President. The deliberative process privilege applies to decision-making of executive officials. Unlike the "deliberative process privilege, “the presidential communications privilege" applies to documents in their entirety and covers final and post decisional matters, as well as pre- deliberative ones. The deliberative process privilege includes advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated. (Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, 549 SCRA77, 2008)

The contention of the employees is not correct. As held in Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB v. Zamora (360 SCRA 718, 2001), Section 31, Book III of the Administrative Code of 1987 has delegated to the President continuing authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the Office of the President to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency. Since this includes the power to abolish offices, the President can abolish the Office of the Presidential Spokesman, provided it is done in good faith. The President can also abolish the Bureau in the Department of Interior and Local Governments, provided it is done in good faith because the President has been granted continuing authority to reorganize the administrative structure of the National Government to effect economy and promote efficiency, and the powers include the abolition of government offices. (Presidential Decree No. 1416, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1772; Larin v. The Executive Secretary. 280 SCRA 713, I997)

Declaration of a state of calamity produces, inter alia, these legal effects within the Province of Aurora:

  1. Automatic Price Control — under A. No. 7581, The Price Act;

  2. Authorization for  the  importation  of  rice  under R.A. No. 8178, The Agricultural Tarrification Act;

  3. Automatic appropriation under A. No. 7160 is available for unforeseen expenditures arising from the occurrence of calamities in areas declared to be in a state of calamity;

  4. Local government units may enact a supplemental budget for supplies and materials or payment of services to prevent danger to or loss of life or property, under A. No. 7160;

  5. Entitlement to hazard allowance for Public Health Workers (under A. No. 7305, Magna Carta for Public Health Workers), who shall be compensated hazard allowances equivalent to at least twenty- five percent (25%) of the monthly basic salary of health workers receiving salary grade 19 and below, and five percent (5%) for health workers with salary grade 20 and above;

  6. Entitlement to hazard allowance for science and technological personnel of the government under A. No. 8439; and 7. A crime committed during the state of calamity will be considered aggravated under Art. 14, par. 7 of the Revised Penal Code.



The proclamation is constitutional insofar as it constitutes a call by the President for the AFP to prevent or suppress lawless violence. This is just pursuant to the President’s calling-out power under Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution.

However, PP 1017's provisions giving the President express or implied power (1) to issue decrees; (2) to direct the AFP to enforce obedience to all laws even those not related to lawless violence as well as decrees promulgated by the President; and (3) to impose standards on media or any form of prior restraint on the press, are ultra vires and unconstitutional. Likewise, under Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution, the President, in the absence of legislation, cannot take over privately-owned public utilities and businesses affected with the public interest. (David v. Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, May 3, 2006)