HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., JOEL R. BUTUYAN, ROMEL R. BAGARES, ALLAN JONES F. LARDIZABAL, GILBERT T. ANDRES, IMMACULADA D. GARCIA, ERLINDA T. MERCADO, FRANCISCO A. ALCUAZ, MA. AZUCENA P. MACEDA, and ALVIN A. PETERS Vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Represented by HON. CHAIRMAN JOSE MELO, COMELEC SPECIAL BIDS and AWARDS COMMITTEE, represented by its CHAIRMAN HON. FERDINAND RAFANAN, DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET and MANAGEMENT, represented by HON. ROLANDO ANDAYA, TOTAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT CORPORATION and SMARTMATIC INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, G.R. No. 188456, FEBRUARY 10, 2010; with accompanying case: PETE QUIRINO-QUADRA vs. SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, G.R. No. 188456, FEBRUARY 10, 2010.
Re: Pars. (f) and (g), Section 6 of Republic Act No. (RA) 8436, or the Election Modernization Act, as amended by RA 9369.
Decretal : DECISION, dated September 10, 2009, denying the petitions.
“x x x.
Locus Standi and Prematurity
It is true, as postulated, that to have standing, one must, as a rule, establish having suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the alleged illegal government conduct; that the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and that the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable action.The prescription on standing, however, is a matter of procedure. Hence, it may be relaxed, as the Court has often relaxed the rule for non-traditional plaintiffs, like ordinary citizens and taxpayers, when the public interest so requires, such as when the matter is of transcendental importance, of overarching significance to society, or of paramount public interest. As we wrote in Chavez v. PCGG,where issues of public importance are presented, there is no necessity to show that the suitor has experienced or is in actual danger of suffering direct and personal injury as the requisite injury is assumed.
Petitioners counsel, when queried, hedged on what specific constitutional proscriptions or concepts had been infringed by the award of the subject automation project to Smartmatic TIM Corporation, although he was heard to say that our objection to the system is anchored on the Constitution itself a violation [sic] of secrecy of voting and the sanctity of the ballot. Petitioners also depicted the covering automation contract as constituting an abdication by the Comelec of its election-related mandate under the Constitution, which is to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of elections. Worse still, according to the petitioners, the abdication, with its anti-dummy dimension, is in favor of a foreign corporation that will be providing the hardware and software requirements. And when pressed further, petitioners came out with the observation that, owing in part to the sheer length of the ballot, the PCOS would not comply with Art. V, Sec. 2 of the Constitution prescribing secrecy of voting and sanctity of the ballot.
There is no doubt in our mind, however, about the compelling significance and the transcending public importance of the one issue underpinning this petition: the success and the far-reaching grim implications of the failure of the nationwide automation project that will be implemented via the challenged automation contract.
The doctrinal formulation may vary, but the bottom line is that the Court may except a particular case from the operations of its rules when the demands of justice so require. Put a bit differently, rules of procedure are merely tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Accordingly, technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand in the way, if the ends of justice would not be subserved by a rigid adherence to the rules of procedure. This postulate on procedural technicalities applies to matters of locus standi and the presently invoked principle of hierarchy of courts, which discourages direct resort to the Court if the desired redress is within the competence of lower courts to grant. The policy on the hierarchy of courts, which petitioners indeed failed to observe, is not an iron-clad rule. For indeed the Court has full discretionary power to take cognizance and assume jurisdiction of special civil actions for certiorari and mandamus filed directly with it for exceptionally compelling reasons or if warranted by the nature of the issues clearly and specifically raised in the petition.
The exceptions that justify a deviation from the policy on hierarchy appear to obtain under the premises. The Court will for the nonce thus turn a blind eye to the judicial structure intended, first and foremost, to provide an orderly dispensation of justice.
x x x.”