Judicial Power and Jurisdiction
Under Article VIII, §1, the judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be provided by law. This power includes the duty to settle actual controversies involving rights that are legally demandable and enforceable and to determine if any branch or instrumentality of government has acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of excess of jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction. It exercises original jurisdiction (cases are directly filed with the SC in the first instance without passing through any of the lower courts) over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus. (Art. VIII, §5(1)). It also has original jurisdiction over writs of amparo, habeas data and the environmental writ of kalikasan. It exercises appellate jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm final judgments, and orders of the lower courts in:
- All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question.
- All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any penalty imposed in relation thereto.
- All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue.
- All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.
- All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved. (Art. VIII, §5(1), (2))
The Supreme Court has administrative supervision over all courts and court personnel. (Article VIII, §6) It exercises this power through the Office of the Court Administrator.
The Supreme Court has the exclusive power to promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. Any such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court. (Art. VIII, §54(5))