Open Letter to Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Minister of Justice Ricardo C. Puno, and Presidential Assistant for Legal Affairs Manuel M. Lazaro Re: PCO Cases and Lansang Doctrine
The Author, then in his sophomore year in the Ateneo de Manila University Law School, writes the Solicitor General, Minister of Justice, and Presidential Assistant for Legal Affairs to clarify the issue of whether the Morales case effectively reinstated the doctrine of the Lansang case — i.e., that the President’s power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is subject to judicial inquiry. Invoking Article X of the Constitution, Paguia asserts that Morales, decided six days after the Padilla case, which reversed Lansang, effectively re-established the latter. Following the wording of the constitutional provisions, the 8-vote or 5-vote requirements (mistakenly referred to by the mentioned officials in maintaining the opposite view) should only be applied for the purpose of rendering a valid decision. Neither should be applied in the sense of reversing a prior doctrine. The Constitution is explicit: the reversal must be made by the Court “sitting en banc.” Therefore, where the Court renders a valid decision en banc, as in Morales where more than eight concurrences was reached (including qualified concurrences), reversal occurs as a matter of law. Taking the contrary view would lead to absurd results.