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Imbong v. Ochoa, GR 204819, April 8, 2014
Whether or not the RH Law cannot be challenged “on its face” because it is not a speech regulating measure
On December 21, 2012, Congress enacted RH Law (RA 10354). RH Law is an enhancement measure to fortify and make effective the current laws on contraception, women’s health and population control. Petitioners assail its constitutionality because according to them, it violates the right to health of women and the sanctity of life, which the State is mandated to protect and promote. The proponents of the RH law, however, assails the propriety of the facial challenge lodged by the subject petitions, contending that the RH Law cannot be challenged "on its face" as it is not a speech regulating measure.
While the Court has withheld the application of facial challenges to strictly penal statues, it has expanded its scope to cover statutes not only regulating free speech, but also those involving religious freedom, and other fundamental rights. The underlying reason for this modification is simple. For unlike its counterpart in the U.S., this Court, under its expanded jurisdiction, is mandated by the Fundamental Law not only to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, but also 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. Consequently, considering that the foregoing petitions have seriously alleged that the constitutional human rights to life, speech and religion and other fundamental rights have been violated by the assailed legislation, the Court has authority to take cognizance of the petitions and to determine if the RH Law can indeed pass constitutional scrutiny.