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Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, GR 148560 (2001)
ISSUE: Whether or not RA 7080 is unconstitutional for being vague
Petitioner Joseph Estrada was prosecuted under RA 7080 (Plunder Law). He assailed, however, that the Plunder Law does not constitute an indictable offense because of its failure to provide for the statutory definition of the terms "combination" and "series" in the key phrase "a combination or series of overt or criminal acts" found in Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2, and the word "pattern" in Sec. 4. These omissions, according to Estrada, render the Plunder Law unconstitutional for being impermissibly vague and overbroad and deny him the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, hence, violative of his fundamental right to due process.
RATIO DECIDENDI: Tha Plunder Law is not unconstitutional for being vague. Congress is not restricted in the form of expression of its will, and its inability to so define the words employed in a statute will not necessarily result in the vagueness or ambiguity of the law so long as the legislative will is clear, or at least, can be gathered from the whole act, which is distinctly expressed in the Plunder Law. The void-for-vagueness doctrine states that a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application, violates the first essential of due process of law. The overbreadth doctrine, on the other hand, decrees that "a governmental purpose may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms. The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines apply only to free speech cases, but not to penal statutes.
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