Top 10 Landmark Cases Decided by the Philippine Supreme Court

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Among the thousands of cases decided by the Supreme Court of the Philippines over the years, there have been controversial cases and publicized cases. There have also been those cases that became memorable because they set standards and precedents that hold true with the passing of time, expounded often-cited doctrines, or explored novel concepts that had not been tackled before. This is a list of the top ten cases that have become landmarks in Philippine jurisprudence.

In Re Mallare, A.M. No. 533 September 12, 1974

This 1974 case, still cited today, said that in cases where a person needed to elect Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, the acts of registering to vote and exercising the right of suffrage were enough to show that he elected Filipino citizenship, without need for any formal declaration.

Ynot vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 74457 March 20, 1987

In 1980, someone challenged an Executive Order issued by President Marcos because it imposed a penalty without giving the violator a right to be heard. He succeeded in having the law declared unconstitutional and was commended by the Supreme Court "for his spirit" in asserting his rights.

United States vs. Ah Chong, G.R. No. L-5272 March 19, 1910

The events in this case happened in 1908, during the American regime, yet it is still quoted today as the textbook example of a "mistake of fact". The accused was absolved of stabbing and killing the person trying to enter his room. He thought it was a robber, but it was only his roommate.

Villavicencio vs. Lukban, G.R. No. L-14639 March 25, 1919

In 1918, the mayor of Manila had 170 "women of ill repute" forcibly rounded up, put on a ship, and sent to Davao as laborers. A writ of habeas corpus was filed against him. The Supreme Court said that the women were not chattels but Filipino citizens who had the fundamental right not to be forced to change their place of residence.

Cayetano vs. Monsod, G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991

This 1991 case is often cited for its definition of what constitutes the practice of law.

Primicias vs. Fugoso, G.R. No. L-1800 January 27, 1948

In 1947, the mayor of Manila refused to grant a permit to hold a rally at Plaza Miranda. The Supreme Court said that the mayor's fear that trouble may arise during the rally was not enough reason to suppress the fundamental right of the people to free speech and peaceful assembly to petition the government for redress of grievances.

People vs. Genosa, G.R. No. 135981. January 15, 2004

This case, stemming from a wife's killing of her husband in 1995, is the first to use "battered woman syndrome" as a defense.

Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726 (1940)

This 1940 case is known primarily for Justice Jose P. Laurel's definition of social justice.

Chua-Qua vs. Clave, G.R. No. L-49549 August 30, 1990

In 1976, 20 years before America's Mary Kay Letourneau made headlines, a teacher married her student and got fired. The Supreme Court, quoting "The heart has reasons of its own which reason itself does not know," took her side!

Oposa vs. Factoran, G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993

In 1990, 44 children, through their parents, sought to make the DENR Secretary stop issuing licenses to cut timber, invoking their right to a healthful environment. They brought the case in the name of all the children in the Philippines and in the name of the generations yet unborn!




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