Facts: The petitions challenge the validity of executive orders of the President avowedly issued in virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 671. Involved in cases Nos. L-2044 and L-2756 is Executive Order No. 62, which regulates rentals for houses and lots for residential buildings. The petitioner, Antonio Araneta, is under prosecution in the Court of First Instance of Manila for violation of the provisions of this E0 62, and prays for the issuance of the writ of prohibition to the judge (Dinglasan) and the city fiscal. Involved in case L-3055 is Executive Order No. 192, which aims to control exports from the Philippines. In this case, Leon Ma. Guerrero seeks a writ of mandamus to compel the Administrator of the Sugar Quota Office and the Commissioner of Customs to permit the exportation of shoes by the petitioner. Both official refuse to issue the required export license on the ground that the exportation of shoes from the Philippines is forbidden by this EO 192. Case No. L-3054 relates to Executive Order No. 225, which appropriates funds for the operation of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines during the period from July 1, 1949 to June 30, 1950, and for other purposes. The petitioner Eulogio Rodriguez, Sr., as a tax-payer, an elector, and president of the Nacionalista Party, applies for a writ of prohibition to restrain the Treasurer of the Philippines from disbursing this Executive Order. Affected in case No. L-3056 is Executive Order No. 226, which appropriates P6,000,000 to defray the expenses in connection with, and incidental to, the hold lug of the national elections to be held in November, 1949. The petitioner, Antonio Barredo, as a citizen, tax-payer and voter, asks this Court to prevent “the respondents from disbursing, spending or otherwise disposing of that amount or any part of it.”
They all aver that CA 671, otherwise known as AN ACT DECLARING A STATE OF TOTAL EMERGENCY AS A RESULT OF WAR INVOLVING THE PHILIPPINES AND AUTHORIZING THE PRESIDENT TO PROMULGATE RULES AND REGULATIONS TO MEET SUCH EMERGENCY or simply the Emergency Powers Act, is already inoperative and that all EOs issued pursuant to said CA had likewise ceased.
Issue: WON CA 671 had ceased to exist
Ruling: Yes. Commonwealth Act No. 671 does not in term fix the duration of its effectiveness. The intention of the Act has to be sought for in its nature, the object to be accomplish, the purpose to be subserved, and its relation to the Constitution. Article VI of the Constitution provides that any law passed by virtue thereof should be “for a limited period.” Emergency, in order to justify the delegation of emergency powers, “must be temporary or it can not be said to be an emergency.” It is to be presumed that Commonwealth Act No. 671 was approved with this limitation in view.
Section 4 goes far to settle the legislative intention of this phase of Act No. 671. Section 4 stipulates that “the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder shall be in full force and effect until the Congress of the Philippines shall otherwise provide.” The silence of the law regarding the repeal of the authority itself, in the face of the express provision for the repeal of the rules and regulations issued in pursuance of it, a clear manifestation of the belief held by the National Assembly that there was no necessity to provide for the former. It would be strange if having no idea about the time the Emergency Powers Act was to be effective the National Assemble failed to make a provision for this termination in the same way that it did for the termination of the effects and incidents of the delegation. There would be no point in repealing or annulling the rules and regulations promulgated under a law if the law itself was to remain in force, since, in that case, the President could not only make new rules and regulations but he could restore the ones already annulled by the legislature.
There is good basis in the language of Act No. 671 for the inference that the National Assembly restricted the life of the emergency powers of the President to the time the Legislature was prevented from holding sessions due to enemy action or other causes brought on by the war. Section 3 provides:
The President of the Philippines shall as soon as practicable upon the convening of the Congress of the Philippines report thereto all the rules and regulations promulgated by him under the powers herein granted.
The clear tenor of this provision is that there was to be only one meeting of Congress at which the President was to give an account of his trusteeship. The section did not say each meeting, which it could very well have said if that had been the intention. If the National Assembly did not think that the report in section 3 was to be the first and last Congress Act No. 671 would lapsed, what reason could there be for its failure to provide in appropriate and clear terms for the filing of subsequent reports? Such reports, if the President was expected to continue making laws in the forms of rules, regulations and executive orders, were as important, of as unimportant, as the initial one.
As a contemporary construction, President Quezon’s statement regarding the duration of Act No. 671 is enlightening and should carry much weight, considering his part in the passage and in the carrying out of the law. Mr. Quezon, who called the National Assembly to a special session, who recommended the enactment of the Emergency Powers Act, if indeed he was not its author, and who was the very President to be entrusted with its execution, stated in his autobiography, “The Good Fight,” that Act No. 671 was only “for a certain period” and “would become invalid unless reenacted.” These phrases connote automatical extinction of the law upon the conclusion of a certain period. Together they denote that a new legislation was necessary to keep alive (not to repeal) the law after the expiration of that period. They signify that the same law, not a different one, had to be repassed if the grant should be prolonged.
What then was the contemplated period? President Quezon in the same paragraph of his autobiography furnished part of the answer. He said he issued the call for a special session of the National Assembly “when it became evident that we were completely helpless against air attack, and that it was most unlikely the Philippine Legislature would hold its next regular session which was to open on January 1, 1942.” (Emphasis ours.) It can easily be discerned in this statement that the conferring of enormous powers upon the President was decided upon with specific view to the inability of the National Assembly to meet. Indeed no other factor than this inability could have motivated the delegation of powers so vast as to amount to an abdication by the National Assembly of its authority. The enactment and continuation of a law so destructive of the foundations of democratic institutions could not have been conceived under any circumstance short of a complete disruption and dislocation of the normal processes of government. Anyway, if we are to uphold the constitutionality of the act on the basis of its duration, we must start with the premise that it fixed a definite, limited period. As we have indicated, the period that best comports with constitutional requirements and limitations, with the general context of the law and with what we believe to be the main if not the sole raison d’etre for its enactment, was a period coextensive with the inability of Congress to function, a period ending with the conventing of that body.
It is our considered opinion, and we so hold, that Commonwealth Act No. 671 became inoperative when Congress met in regular session on May 25, 1946, and that Executive Orders Nos. 62, 192, 225 and 226 were issued without authority of law. In setting the session of Congress instead of the first special session preceded it as the point of expiration of the Act, we think giving effect to the purpose and intention of the National Assembly. In a special session, the Congress may “consider general legislation or only such as he (President) may designate.” (Section 9, Article VI of the Constitution.) In a regular session, the power Congress to legislate is not circumscribed except by the limitations imposed by the organic law.
There is no pretense that the President has independent or inherent power to issue such executive orders as those under review. we take it that the respondents, in sustaining the validity of these executive orders rely on Act No. 600, Act No. 620, or Act No. 671 of the former Commonwealth and on no other source. To put it differently, the President’s authority in this connection is purely statutory, in no sense political or directly derived from the Constitution.
Act No. 671, as we have stressed, ended ex proprio vigore with the opening of the regular session of Congress on May 25, 1946. Acts Nos. 600 and 620 contain stronger if not conclusive indication that they were self-liquidating. By express provision the rules and regulations to be eventually made in pursuance of Acts Nos. 600 and 620, respectively approved on August 19, 1940 and June 6, 1941, were to be good only up to the corresponding dates of adjournment of the following sessions of the Legislature, “unless sooner amended or repealed by the National Assembly.” The logical deduction to be drawn from this provision is that in the mind of the lawmakers the idea was fixed that the Acts themselves would lapse not latter than the rules and regulations. The design to provide for the automatic repeal of those rules and regulations necessarily was predicated on the consciousness of a prior or at best simultaneous repeal of their source. Were not this the case, there would arise the curious spectacle, already painted, and easily foreseen, of the Legislature amending or repealing rules and regulations of the President while the latter was empowered to keep or return them into force and to issue new ones independently of the National Assembly. For the rest, the reasoning heretofore adduced against the asserted indefinite continuance of the operation of Act No. 671 equally applies to Acts Nos. 600 and 620.