Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Locus standi/legal standing to sue; justiceability; personal injury needed.

"x x x.

It has been held that as to the element of injury, such aspect is not something that just anybody with some grievance or pain may assert. It has to be direct and substantial to make it worth the court’s time, as well as the effort of inquiry into the constitutionality of the acts of another department of government. If the asserted injury is more imagined than real, or is merely superficial and insubstantial, then the courts may end up being importuned to decide a matter that does not really justify such an excursion into constitutional adjudication. The rationale for this constitutional requirement of locus standi is by no means trifle. Not only does it assure the vigorous adversary presentation of the case; more importantly, it must suffice to warrant the Judiciary’s overruling the determination of a coordinate, democratically elected organ of government, such as the President, and the clear approval by Congress, in this case. Indeed, the rationale goes to the very essence of representative democracies.

Neither can the lack of locus standi be cured by the petitioner’s claim that he is instituting the present petition as a member of the bar in good standing who has an interest in ensuring that laws and orders of the Philippine government are legally and validly issued. This supposed interest has been branded by the Court in Integrated Bar of the Phils. (IBP) v. Hon. Zamora, “as too general an interest which is shared by other groups and [by] the whole citizenry.” Thus, the Court ruled in IBP that the mere invocation by the IBP of its duty to preserve the rule of law and nothing more, while undoubtedly true, is not sufficient to clothe it with standing in that case. The Court made a similar ruling in Prof. David v. Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo and held that the petitioners therein, who are national officers of the IBP, have no legal standing, having failed to allege any direct or potential injury which the IBP, as an institution, or its members may suffer as a consequence of the issuance of Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No. 5.

We note that while the petition raises vital constitutional and statutory questions concerning the power of the President to fix the compensation packages of GOCCs and GFIs with possible implications on their officials and employees, the same cannot “infuse” or give the petitioner locus standi under the transcendental importance or paramount public interest doctrine. In Velarde v. Social Justice Society, we held that even if the Court could have exempted the case from the stringent locus standi requirement, such heroic effort would be futile because the transcendental issue could not be resolved any way, due to procedural infirmities and shortcomings, as in the present case. In other words, giving due course to the present petition which is saddled with formal and procedural infirmities explained above in this Resolution, cannot but be an exercise in futility that does not merit the Court’s liberality. As we emphasized in Lozano v. Nograles, “while the Court has taken an increasingly liberal approach to the rule of locus standi, evolving from the stringent requirements of ‘personal injury’ to the broader ‘transcendental importance’ doctrine, such liberality is not to be abused.

x x x."