DOCTRINE: The Local Government Code does not involve the diminution of central powers inherently vested in the National Government, especially not the prerogatives solely granted by the Constitution to the President in matters of security and defense.
FACTS: On 15 January 2009, members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnapped three members from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the vicinity of the Provincial Capitol in Patikul, Sulu. Following the incident, Governor Tan of Sulu organized the Sulu Crisis Management Committee, which included the forming of the Civilian Emergency Force (CEF), a group of armed male civilians coming from different municipalities, who were redeployed to surrounding areas of Patikul. The organization of the CEF was embodied in a “Memorandum of Understanding” entered into between three parties: the provincial government of Sulu; the AFP; and the PNP. The Whereas clauses of the Memorandum alluded to the extraordinary situation in Sulu, and the willingness of civilian supporters of the municipal mayors to offer their services in order that “the early and safe rescue of the hostages may be achieved.”
On 31 March 2009, Governor Tan issued Proclamation No. 1, Series of 2009 (Proclamation 1-09), declaring a state of emergency in the province of Sulu. It cited the kidnapping incident as a ground for the said declaration, describing it as a terrorist act pursuant to the Human Security Act (R.A. 9372). It also invoked Section 465 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. 7160), which bestows on the Provincial Governor the power to carry out emergency measures during man-made and natural disasters and calamities, and to call upon the appropriate national law enforcement agencies to suppress disorder and lawless violence. In the same Proclamation, Governor Tan called upon the PNP and the CEF to set up checkpoints and chokepoints, conduct general search and seizures including arrests, and other actions necessary to ensure public safety. Subsequently, a Guideline on the implementation of Proclamation 1-09 was issued which included among others suspension of all Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence (PTCFORs) issued by the Chief of the PNP, and allowed civilians to seek exemption from the gun ban only by applying to the Office of the Governor and obtaining the appropriate identification cards. The said guidelines also allowed general searches and seizures in designated checkpoints and chokepoints.
Petitioners, who are residents of Patikul, Sulu, filed this Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition.
Petitioners contend that Proclamation No. 1 and its Implementing Guidelines were issued ultra vires, and thus null and void, for violating Sections 1 and 18, Article VII of the Constitution, which grants the President sole authority to exercise emergency powers and calling-out powers as the chief executive of the Republic and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Additionally, petitioners claim that the Provincial Governor is not authorized by any law to create civilian armed forces under his command, nor regulate and limit the issuances of PTCFORs to his own private army.
Respondents deny that Proclamation 1-09 was issued ultra vires, as Governor Tan allegedly acted pursuant to Sections 16 and 465 of the Local Government Code, which empowers the Provincial Governor to carry out emergency measures during calamities and disasters, and to call upon the appropriate national law enforcement agencies to suppress disorder, riot, lawless violence, rebellion or sedition. Furthermore, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sulu authorized the declaration of a state of emergency as evidenced by Resolution No. 4, Series of 2009 issued on 31 March 2009 during its regular session.
ISSUE: WON Section 465, in relation to Section 16, of the Local Government Code authorizes the respondent governor to declare a state of emergency, and exercise the powers enumerated under Proclamation 1-09, specifically the conduct of general searches and seizures. Subsumed herein is the secondary question of whether or not the provincial governor is similarly clothed with authority to convene the CEF under the said provisions.
HELD: NO. Only the President is vested with calling-out powers, as the commander-in-chief of the Republic. Springing from the well-entrenched constitutional precept of One President is the notion that there are certain acts which, by their very nature, may only be performed by the president as the Head of the State. One of these acts or prerogatives is the bundle of Commander-in-Chief powers to which the “calling-out” powers constitutes a portion.
In the discussions of the Constitutional Commission regarding executive power it is clear that the framers never intended for local chief executives to exercise unbridled control over the police in emergency situations.
Given the foregoing, respondent provincial governor is not endowed with the power to call upon the armed forces at his own bidding. In issuing the assailed proclamation, Governor Tan exceeded his authority when he declared a state of emergency and called upon the Armed Forces, the police, and his own Civilian Emergency Force. The calling-out powers contemplated under the Constitution is exclusive to the President. An exercise by another official, even if he is the local chief executive, is ultra vires, and may not be justified by the invocation of Section 465 of the Local Government Code, as will be discussed subsequently.
Section 465 of the Local Government Code cannot be invoked to justify the powers enumerated under Proclamation 1-09. Respondent governor characterized the kidnapping of the three ICRC workers as a terroristic act, and used this incident to justify the exercise of the powers enumerated under Proclamation 1-09. 56 He invokes Section 465, in relation to Section 16, of the Local Government Code, which purportedly allows the governor to carry out emergency measures and call upon the appropriate national law enforcement agencies for assistance. But a closer look at the said proclamation shows that there is no provision in the Local Government Code nor in any law on which the broad and unwarranted powers granted to the Governor may be based. Respondent governor has arrogated unto himself powers exceeding even the martial law powers of the President.
Petitioners rightly assert that the implementation of “General Search and Seizure including arrests in the pursuit of the kidnappers and their supporters,” would be sufficient to render the proclamation void, as general searches and seizures are proscribed, for being violative of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The Local Government Code does not involve the diminution of central powers inherently vested in the National Government, especially not the prerogatives solely granted by the Constitution to the President in matters of security and defense.
The intent behind the powers granted to local government units is fiscal, economic, and administrative in nature. The Code is concerned only with powers that would make the delivery of basic services more effective to the constituents, and should not be unduly stretched to confer calling-out powers on local executives.