The Judiciary


Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.


Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.


Section 2. Parliament shall have the power to define, prescribe, and apportion the jurisdiction of the various courts but may not deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 5 of this Article. No law shall be passed reorganizing the Judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its Members.


Section 3. The Judiciary shall enjoy fiscal autonomy. Appropriations for the Judiciary may not be reduced by the legislature below the amount appropriated for the previous year and, after approval, shall be automatically and regularly released.


Section 4. (1) The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices to be appointed by the Prime Minister, subject to the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. It may sit en banc or in its discretion, in division of three, five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from such vacancy.


(2) All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement which shall be heard by the Supreme Court en banc, and 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, shall be decided with the concurrence of two thirds of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon.


(3) 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 in the case and voted thereon, and in no case, without the concurrence of at least three of such Members. When the required number is not obtained, 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 a vote of two thirds of all the Members.


Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:


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, life imprisonment, or death.


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 6. The Supreme Court, through the Office of the Court Administrator, shall have administrative supervision over all courts and their personnel.


Section 7. (1) A person can be appointed as a Member of the Supreme Court or any lower collegiate court only if he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. A Member of the Supreme Court must be at least 40 years old and must have been a judge of a lower court or engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines for at least 15 years.


(2) Parliament shall prescribe the qualifications of judges of lower courts, but no person may be appointed judge unless he is a citizen of the Philippines and a member of the Philippine Bar.


(3) A Member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence.


Section 8. (1) A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created composed of seven members: a retired Supreme Court Justice as Chairman, with two representatives from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, two professors of law, and two representatives from the private sector as members.


(2) The members of the Council shall be appointed by the Prime Minister and confirmed by the Commission on Appointments for a term of five years without reappointment.


(3) The Council shall enjoy fiscal autonomy and its approved annual appropriation shall be automatically and regularly released.


(4) The Council shall have the following principal powers and functions:


a) Recommend appointees to all collegiate courts and lower courts;


b) Discipline justices and judges of the said courts, or order their dismissal by a majority vote of all the members of the council; and


c) Perform other powers and functions as may be authorized by law.


Section 9. The decision of the Judicial and Bar Council, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers as provided in the preceding Section, shall be appealable on certiorari to the Supreme Court.


Section 10. The Prime Minister shall appoint justices of all collegiate courts and judges of lower courts from among the list submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council within 90 days from the submission of the list. Such appointment needs no confirmation.


Section 11. The salary of the Chief Justice, the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, justices of collegiate courts and judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law. During their continuance in office, their salary shall not be decreased and upon retirement, they shall all be covered by a uniform retirement plan prescribed by law.


Section 12. The Members of the Supreme Court, Justices, and judges of lower courts shall hold office during good behavior until their 75th birthday or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office. They can choose to retire at the age of 70 years with full benefits.


Section 13. The Members of the Supreme Court and of other courts established by law shall not be designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.


Section 14. 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. A certification to this effect signed by the Chief Justice shall be issued and a copy shall be attached to the record of the case and served upon the parties. Any Members who took no part, dissented, or abstained from a decision or resolution must state the reason. The same requirements shall be observed by all collegiate and lower courts.


Section 15. No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. 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 for the refusal or denial.


Section 16. (1) All cases or matters filed after the effectivity of this Constitution must be decided or resolved within twelve months from the date of submission for the Supreme Court, and, unless reduced by the Supreme Court, six months for all collegiate courts, and three months for all other lower courts.


(2) A case or matter shall be deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum required by the Rules of Court or by the court itself.


(3) 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 of which shall be 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. The unjustified failure to render a decision or resolution within the mandatory periods may be a ground for the impeachment of the Members of the Supreme Court or the imposition of sanctions, including removal, against a collegiate court justice or judge.


(4) Despite the expiration of the applicable mandatory period, the court, without prejudice to such responsibility as may have been incurred as a consequence, thereof, shall decide or resolve the case or matter submitted to the court for determination, without further delay.


Section 17. The Supreme Court shall, within thirty days from the opening of each regular session of Parliament, submit to the Prime Minister and Parliament an annual report on the operations and activities of the Judiciary.


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2 Responses

  1. cctapang says:

    Nice job, MKDL. In light of the current constitutional crisis triggered by the conflict between prvious and current administrations, we need to make changes to how Supreme Court justices are appointed. It would be ideal to make all the supremes directly accountable to the people through a national election, but we also do not want to turn all the supremes into politicians. The best possible solution is to go back to the 1935 constitution in this regard: all Supreme Court appointees must be subject to legislative approval (in this case parliamentary approval).

    I do know the reason for the existence of the Council in the 1987 Constitution, and if we go back to the 1935 mechanism of appointing SC judges, we may also have to get rid of the Council. I want other opinions on this.

  2. The Commission of Appointments, for me, must be replaced by a select committee or a permanent committee created in the Parliament’s Standing Orders. This would make it easy to be understood.