CASE 2017-0035: PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF DETECTIVE AND PROTECTIVE AGENCY OPERATORS (PADPAO), REGION 7 CHAPTER, INC., Petitioner, -versus COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (COMELEC) AND/OR ITS COMMITTEE ON THE BAN ON FIREARMS AND SECURITY (G.R. NO. 223505, 03 OCT 2017, CAGUIOA, J) (EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE, NON-IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACTS, COMELEC POWER TO ISSUE RULES) (BRIEF TITLE: PADPAO VS COMELEC)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

  

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari with prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction/temporary restraining order are DENIED for lack of merit. The Court upholds Section 2( e ), Rule III ofCOMELEC Resolution No. 10015 as valid and constitutional.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

 

COMELEC ISSUED A RESOLUTION REQUIRING, AMONG OTHERS, PRIVATE SECUTIRY AGENCIES (PSA)  AUTHORITY FROM COMELEC TO CARRY FIREARMS. PETITIONER ASSAILS THE VALIDITY OF SUCH RESOLUTION. THEY ALLEGED THAT RA 5487 GOVERNING PSAs ALREADY GRANTS THEM SUCH AUTHORITY.  THEY ALSO ARGUE THAT THE RESOLUTION VIOLATES CERTAIN CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.

 

WHAT DOES RA 5487 PROVIDES?

 

SECTION 13 OF RA 5487 STATES:

 

SEC. 13. Issuance of Firearms. -A watchman or security agency shall be entitled to possess firearms after having satisfactorily passed the requirements prescribed by the Chief, Philippine Constabulary pertinent to the possession of firearm of any caliber not higher than 45 caliber in a number not exceeding one firearm for every two watchmen or security guards in its employ: Provided, however, That a watchman or security agent shall be entitled to possess not more than one riot gun or shotgun in order to provide adequate security when circumstances so demand: Provided, further, That all the firearms mentioned herein shall be carried by the watchman or security guard only during his tour of duty in proper unifonn within the compound of the establishment except when he escorts big amounts of cash or valuables in and out of said compound.

 

BASED ON ABOVE PROVISION, WHAT IS THE ARGUMENT OF PETITIONER?

 

THAT THE POWER TO PROMULGATE RULES AND REGULATIONS WITH REGARD TO SAID LAW IS GRANTED TO THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE (PNP), IN CONSULTATION WITH THE PADPAO, UNDER SECTION 17 OF THE SAID LAW:

 

SEC. 17. Rules and Regulations by Chief, Philippine Constabulary. -The Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, in consultation with the Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agency Operators, Incorporated and subject to the provisions of existing laws, is hereby authorized to issue the rules and regulations necessary to carry out the purpose of this Act.

 

WHAT ARE THE OTHER ARGUMENTS OF PETITIONER?

 

PETITIONER FURTHER AVERS THAT RESOLUTION NO. 10015 VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTIONAL TENETS OF EQUAL PROTECTION OF LAWS AND NON-IMPAIRMENT OF OBLIGATIONS OF CONTRACTS AS IT IMPAIRS THE CONTRACTS OF ITS MEMBER PSAS WITH THEIR RESPECTIVE CLIENTS.

 

THE RESOLUTION WAS PROMULGATED IN CONNECTION WITH THE MAY 2016 ELECTIONS WHICH HAVE ALREADY TAKEN PLACE. IS THE CASE NOT MOOT?

 

IT IS NOT MOOT.

 

WHAT IS THE GENERAL RULE ON MOOTNESS?

 

AS A RULE, THE COURT MAY ONLY ADJUDICATE ACTUAL, ONGOING CONTROVERSIES.

 

WHEN IS AN ACTION MOOT?

 

“An action is considered “moot” when it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because the issues involved have become academic or dead or when the matter in dispute has already been resolved and hence, one is not entitled to judicial intervention unless the issue is likely to be raised again between the parties. There is nothing for the court to resolve as the determination thereof has been overtaken by subsequent events.”

 

WHAT ARE THE EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE ON MOOTNESS?

 

THERE ARE RECOGNIZED EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE.

 

FIRST, THERE IS A GRAVE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION;

 

SECOND, THE EXCEPTIONAL CHARACTER OF THE SITUATION AND THE PARAMOUNT PUBLIC INTEREST ARE INVOLVED;

 

THIRD, WHEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE RAISED REQUIRES FORMULATION OF CONTROLLING PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE THE BENCH, THE BAR, AND THE PUBLIC; AND

 

 FOURTH, THE CASE IS CAPABLE OF REPETITION YET EVADING REVIEW.

 

 WHAT IS THE EXCEPTION APPLICABLE TO THIS CASE?

 

THAT THE CASE IS CAPABLE OF REPETITION YET EVADING REVIEW.

 

 

FOR THIS EXCEPTION TO APPLY WHAT ARE THE FACTORS REQUIRED?

 

( 1) THE CHALLENGED ACTION IS IN ITS DURATION TOO SHORT TO BE FULLY LITIGATED PRIOR TO ITS CESSATION OR EXPIRATION; AND (2) THERE IS A REASONABLE EXPECTATION THAT THE SAME COMPLAINING PARTY WOULD BE SUBJECTED TO THE SAME ACTION.19

 

“The election period in 2016 was from January 10 until June 8, 2016, or a total of only 150 days. The petition was filed only on April 8, 2016. There was thus not enough time for the resolution of the controversy. Moreover, the COMELEC has consistently issued rules and regulations on the Gun Ban for previous elections in accordance with RA 7166: Resolution No. 871420 for the 2010 elections, Resolution No. 9561-A21 for the 2013 elections, and the assailed Resolution No. 10015 for the 2016 elections. Thus, the COMELEC is expected to promulgate similar rules in the next elections. Prudence accordingly dictates that the Court exercise its power of judicial review to finally settle this controversy.”

 

IS PETITIONER CORRECT WHEN IT ARGUES THAT COMELEC DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO REQUIRE PSA WRITTEN AUTHORITY FROM COMELEC AS THAT POWER BELONGS TO PNP UNDER RA 5487?

 

PETITIONER IS WRONG.

 

THE CONSTITUTION AND THE CITED LAWS SPECIFICALLY EMPOWER THE COMELEC TO ISSUE RULES AND REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING THE SO-CALLED GUN BAN DURING ELECTION PERIOD.

 

“The language of RA 5487 and its implementing rules is not so restrictive as to prohibit other government agencies from imposing additional restrictions relating to the conduct of business by PSAs and PSSPs under special circumstances. In this case, the special circumstance is the election period. The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that historically, Philippine elections have been marred by violence and unnecessary bloodshed and additional guidelines must be put in place to eliminate, or at least, lessen the threat. Whether or not the Gun Ban has been an effective deterrent is a different matter, which is beyond the Court’s domain.”

 

DOES THE COMELEC RESOLUTION VIOLATE THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE AND THE NON-IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACTS CLAUSE?

 

NO.

 

WHAT IS THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION ON EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE?

 

UNDER ARTICLE 11 OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, SECTION 1:

 

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

 

WHAT IS THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION ON NON-IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACTS?

 

UNDER ARTICLE 11 OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, SECTION 10:

 

Section 10. No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.

 

WHAT IS MEANT BY THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE?

 

IT MEANS THAT “NO PERSON OR CLASS OF PERSONS SHALL BE DEPRIVED OF THE SAME PROTECTION OF LAWS WHICH IS ENJOYED BY OTHER PERSONS OR OTHER CLASSES IN THE SAME PLACE AND IN LIKE CIRCUMSTANCES.”

 

WHEN IS IT NOT VIOLATED?

 

BY A LEGISLATION BASED ON A REASONABLE CLASSIFICATION.

 

“The equal protection clause, therefore, does not preclude classification of individuals who may be accorded different treatment under the law as long as the classification is reasonable and not arbitrary.”

FOR CLASSIFICATION TO BE REASONABLE WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?

 

THE CLASSIFICATION MUST ( 1) REST ON SUBSTANTIAL DISTINCTIONS; (2) BE GERMANE TO THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW; (3) NOT BE LIMITED TO EXISTING CONDITIONS ONLY; AND ( 4) APPLY EQUALLY TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE SAME CLASS.

 

ARE THESE REQUIREMENTS COMPLIED IN THIS CASE?

 

YES.

 

“Resolution No. 10015 applies to any and all persons, whether private individuals or public officers. Rule III thereof contains a comprehensive list of persons required to obtain written authority from the COMELEC to bear, carry, and transport firearms outside his place or residence or business. Aside from PSAs and PSSPs, the regulation applies even to the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Vice President, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, and Court of Tax Appeals and Judges of lower courts, members of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and to cashiers and disbursing officers or persons who by the nature of their official duties, profession, business or occupation habitually carry large sums of money or valuables, among others.”

 

TO WHAT LAWS OR REGULATIONS DO  THE NON-IMPAIRMENT CLAUSE APPLIES?

 

TO LAWS AND REGULATIONS THAT DEROGATE FROM PRIOR ACTS OR CONTRACTS BY ENLARGING, ABRIDGING OR IN ANY MANNER CHANGING THE INTENTION OF THE PARTIES.

 

WHEN IS THERE AN IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACT?

 

IF A SUBSEQUENT LAW CHANGES THE TERMS OF A CONTRACT BETWEEN THE PARTIES, IMPOSES NEW CONDITIONS, DISPENSES WITH THOSE AGREED UPON OR WITHDRAWS REMEDIES FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE RIGHTS OF THE PARTIES. 

 

DOES THE COMELEC REGULATION IMPAIR PSA’s CONTRACTS WITH THEIR CLIENTS?

 

NO.

 

“In this case, PSAs’ contracts with their clients are not affected in any manner by the requirement of having to obtain from the COMELEC written authority to bear, carry, and transport firearms outside of their residence or place of work and in public places, during election period. All that PSAs must do is to secure such authority.”

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SCD-2017-0036-PADPAO Region 7 Chapter Inc. Vs. Commission on Elections et al

 

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