FACTS: Petitioners Liban, et al., who were officers of the Board of Directors of the Quezon City Red Cross Chapter, filed with the Supreme Court what they styled as “Petition to Declare Richard J. Gordon as Having Forfeited His Seat in the Senate” against respondent Gordon, who was elected Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Board of Governors during his incumbency as Senator. Gordon filed a motion for partial reconsideration on a Supreme Court decision which ruled that being chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) did not disqualify him from being a Senator, and that the charter creating PNRC is unconstitutional as the PNRC is a private corporation and the Congress is precluded by the Constitution to create such.The Court then ordered the PNRC to incorporate itself with the SEC as a private corporation. Gordon takes exception to the second part of the ruling, which addressed the constitutionality of the statute creating the PNRC as a private corporation. Gordon avers that the issue of constitutionality was only touched upon in the issue of locus standi. It is a rule that the constitutionality will not be touched upon if it is not the lis mota of the case.
ISSUE: Was it proper for the Court to have ruled on the constitutionality of the PNRC statute? Whether respondent should be automatically removed as a Senator pursuant to Section 13, Article VI of the Philippine Constitution
DECISION: No, it was not correct for the Court to have decided on the constitutional issue because it was not the very lis mota of the case. The PNRC is sui generis in nature; it is neither strictly a GOCC nor a private corporation. The office of the PNRC Chairman is not a government office or an office in a government-owned or controlled corporation for purposes of the prohibition in Section 13, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.
RATIO DECIDENDI: The Court will not touch the issue of unconstitutionality unless it is the very lis mota. It is a well-established rule that a court should not pass upon a constitutional question and decide a law to be unconstitutional or invalid, unless such question is raised by the parties and that when it is raised, if the record also presents some other ground upon which the court may [rest] its judgment, that course will be adopted and the constitutional question will be left for consideration until such question will be unavoidable. PNRC is a Private Organization Performing Public Functions the Philippine government does not own the PNRC. It does not have government assets and does not receive any appropriation from the Philippine Congress. It is financed primarily by contributions from private individuals and private entities obtained through solicitation campaigns organized by its Board of Governors. The PNRC is not government-owned but privately owned.