Development of the Judiciary as an Independent Branch of the Government in the Philippines

Development of the Judiciary as an Independent Branch of the Government in the Philippines

Get Started. It's Free
or sign up with your email address
Development of the Judiciary as an Independent Branch of the Government in the Philippines by Mind Map: Development of the Judiciary as an Independent Branch of the Government in the Philippines

1. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 further provides that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and its six Associate Justices shall be appointed by the President of the United States with the consent and advice of the U.S. Senate.

1.1. The enactment of the Administrative Code of 1917 made the Supreme Court the highest tribunal. It also increased the total membership of the Supreme Court, having one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices.

2. Pre-Hispanic Period

2.1. Typically, a Barangay is headed by a datu or a local chief who exercises all functions of government—executive, legislative and judicial

2.2. Each Barangay has its own laws. Laws may be oral laws, which are the traditions and customs of the locality handed down from a generation to generation, or written laws as promulgated by the datu who is typically aided by a group of elders.

2.2.1. In a confederation of barangays, the laws are promulgated by a superior datu with the aid of the inferior datus.

2.2.2. In a resolution of dispute, the datu acts as a judge while a group of elders sits as a jury. If a dispute is between datus or between members of different barangays, the dispute is settled through arbitration with some other datus or elders, serving as arbiters or mediators, from other barangays.

2.3. All trials are held public. When a datu is in doubt if who between the parties are guilty, the trial is resorted to trial by ordeal—a common practice in criminal cases. An accused who was innocent was always perceived to be always successful in such ordeals, because the deities or gods of these pre-Hispanic people made the said accused do so.

3. Hispanic Period

3.1. In the royal order of August 14, 1569, Miguel López de Legazpi was confirmed as the Governor and Captain-General of the Philippines.

3.1.1. He was empowered to administer civil and criminal justice in the islands. Under the same order, Legazpi had original and appellate jurisdiction in all suits and constituted in his person all authority of a department of justice, with complete administrative and governmental control of all judicial offices. In subsequent cédulas and royal orders, it was made the duty of all officials to enforce all laws and ordinances issued for the benefits of the locals, but these were not made to have been done. As a result of these developments, the first real audiencia (which is the Real Audiencia of Manila) or high court was established in the Philippines through the royal decree of May 5, 1583. The decree stated that "the court is founded in the interests of good government and the administration of justice, with the same authority and preeminence as each of the royal audiencias in the town of Valladolid and the city of Granada. The audiencia was composed of a president, three oidores or auditors, a fiscal or prosecuting attorney, and the necessary auxiliary officials, such as the court's secretaries and clerks. The first president was Governor-Captain General Santiago de Vera. The Real Audiencia of Manila had a jurisdiction covering Luzon and the rest of the archipelago. It was given an appellate jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases decided by the governors, alcaldes mayores and other magistrates of the islands. The audiencia may only take cognizance of a civil case in its first instance when, on account of its importance, the amount involved and the dignity of the parties might be tried in a superior court; and of criminal cases which may arise in the place where the audiencia might meet. The decisions of the audiencia in both civil and criminal cases were to be executed without any appeal, except in civil cases were the amount was so large as to justify an appeal to the King; such appeal to the King must be made within one year. All cases were to be decided by a majority vote, and in case of a tie, an advocate was chosen for the determination of the case.

3.2. The audiencia would later on be dissolved through the royal cédula of August 9, 1589.

3.2.1. The audiencia would later on be reestablished through the royal decree of May 25, 1596, and on May 8, 1598, it had resumed its functions as a high court. By its reestablishment, the audiencia was composed of a president as represented by the governor, four associate justices, prosecuting attorney with the office of protector of the Indians, the assistant prosecuting officers, a reporter, clerk and other officials.

3.2.2. By a royal order of March 11, 1776, the audiencia was reorganized; it consisted of the president, a regent, the immediate head of the audiencia, five oidores or associate justices, two assistant prosecuting attorneys, five subordinate officials, and two reporters. It had also been allowed to perform the duties of a probate court in special cases. When the high court is acting as administrative or advisory body, the audiencia acted under the name of real acuerdo. Later on the governor-general was removed as the president of the audiencia and the real acuerdo was abolished by virtue of the royal decree of July 4, 1861. The same royal decree converted the court to a pure judicial body, with its decisions appealable to the Supreme Court of Spain.

3.2.3. By the royal decree of October 24, 1870, the audiencia was branched into two chambers; these two branches were later renamed as sala de lo civil and sala de lo criminal by virtue of royal decree of May 23, 1879.

3.2.4. On February 26, 1886, the territorial audiencia of Cebu was established through a royal decree, and covers the jurisdiction of the islands of Cebu, Negros, Panay, Samar, Paragua, Calamianes, Masbate, Ticao, Leyte, Jolo and Balabac, including the smaller and adjacent islands of aforementioned islands. By January 5, 1891, a royal decree had established the territorial audiencias of Manila and Cebu. By virtue of a royal decree, the territorial audiencia in Cebu continued until May 19, 1893 when it ceased to be territorial; its audiencia for criminal cases, however, was retained.[7] From the same royal decree, the audiencia in Vigan was established and covers criminal cases in Luzon and Batanes. These courts decisions are not considered final as they are still appealable to the Audiencia Territorial of Manila and those of the audiencia to the Supreme Court of Spain.

3.3. These audiencias would still continue to operate even until the outbreak of the Filipino rebellion in 1896.

4. American Period

4.1. From the start of the American occupation on August 13, 1898, the audiencias of Cebu and Vigan ceased to function as the judges fled for safety

4.1.1. The following day, Wesley Merritt, the first American Military Governor, ordered the suspension of the territorial jurisdiction of the colonial Real Audiencia of Manila, and of other minor courts in the Philippines. All trial of committed crimes and offenses were transferred to the jurisdiction of the court-martial or military commissions of the United States.

4.1.2. On October 7, 1898, the civil courts throughout the islands that were constituted under Spanish laws prior to August 13 were permitted to resume their civil jurisdiction but subject to supervision of the American military government. Later on in January 1899, the civil jurisdiction of the audiencia in Manila was suspended but was restored in May 1899 after it was reestablished as the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands. The criminal jurisdiction was also restored to the newly reformed civil high court.

4.2. On June 11, 1901, the current Supreme Court was officially established through enactment of Act No. 136, otherwise known as the Judiciary Law of the Second Philippine Commission.

4.2.1. The said law reorganized the judicial system and vested the judicial power to the Supreme Court, Courts of First Instance and Justice of the Peace courts.

4.2.2. The said law also provided for the early composition of the said High Court, having one Chief Justice and six Associate Justices—all appointed by the Commission.

4.2.3. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 and the Jones Act of 1916, both passed by the U.S. Congress, ratified the jurisdiction of the Courts vested by Act No. 136.

5. Commonwealth Period

5.1. With the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines through the ratification of the 1935 Constitution, the Supreme Court's composition was increased to eleven, with one Chief Justice and ten Associate Justices.

5.1.1. The 1935 Constitution provided for the independence of the judiciary, the security of tenure of its members, prohibition on diminution of compensation during their term of office, and the method of removal of the justices through impeachment.

5.1.2. The Constitution also transferred the rule-making of the legislature to the Supreme Court on the power to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, court procedures, and admission to the practice of law.

6. Japanese Occupation

6.1. Within the brief Japanese occupation of the Philippines, the Court remained with no substantial changes in its organizational structure and jurisdiction. However, some acts and outlines of the Court were required to be approved first by the Military Governor of the Imperial Japanese Force.

6.2. In 1942, José Abad Santos—the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—was executed by Japanese troops after refusing to collaborate with the Japanese military government. He was captured on April 11, 1942 in the province of Cebu and was executed on May 7, 1942 in the town of Parang in Mindanao.

7. Independence and Postwar Period

7.1. After the end of the Japanese occupation during World War II, Philippines was granted its independence on July 4, 1946 from the United States.

7.2. The grant of independence was made through the Treaty of Manila of 1946.

7.2.1. In the said treaty, it provides that: ARTICLE V. – The Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America agree that all cases at law concerning the Government and people of the Philippines which, in accordance with section 7 (6) of the Independence Act of 1934, are pending before the Supreme Court of the United States of America at the date of the granting of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines shall continue to be subject to the review of the Supreme Court of the United States of America for such period of time after independence as may be necessary to effectuate the disposition of the cases at hand. The contracting parties also agree that following the disposition of such cases the Supreme Court of the United States of America will cease to have the right of review of cases originating in the Philippine Islands.

7.2.2. In effect of the treaty, the United States Supreme Court ceased to have appellate power to review cases originating from the Philippines after its independence, with exception of those cases pending before the United States Supreme Court filed prior to the country's independence.

7.3. On June 17, 1948, the Judiciary Act of 1948 was enacted. The law grouped cases together over which the high court could exercise its exclusive jurisdiction to review on appeal, certiorari, or writ of error

7.4. In 1973, the 1935 Constitution was revised and was replaced by the 1973 Constitution. Under the said Constitution, the membership of the court was increased to its current number, which is fifteen.

7.4.1. All members are said to be appointed by the President alone, without consent, approval, or recommendation of a body or officials.

7.4.2. The 1973 Constitution also vested in the Supreme Court administrative supervision over all lower courts which heretofore was under the Department of Justice.

8. Post–EDSA Revolution and Present

8.1. After the overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, President Corazon Aquino, using her emergency powers, promulgated a transitory charter known as the "Freedom Constitution" which did not affect the composition and powers of the Supreme Court.

8.1.1. The Freedom Charter was replaced by the 1987 Constitution which is the fundamental charter in force in the Philippines at present.

8.2. Under the current Constitution, it retained and carried the provision in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions that "judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law."

8.2.1. However, unlike the previous Constitutions, the current Constitution expanded the Supreme Court's judicial power by defining it in the second paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII as: SECTION 1. — xxx Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. Furthermore, the present Constitution provided for safeguards to ensure the independence of the Judiciary. It also provided for the Judicial and Bar Council, a constitutionally-created body that that recommends appointees for vacancies that may arise in the composition of the Supreme Court and other lower courts.