The Judicial Branch of the Philippine Political System

Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court and in lower courts as may be established by law. Section 1, Article VII, of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, states that judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights that are legally demandable and enforceable and the power of judicial review to determine whether or not an abuse of discretion occurred that amounted to a lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government. The Supreme Court is composed of a chief justice and 14 associate justices. The members of the Supreme Court and judges of lower courts are appointed by the president without need for confirmation and hold office during good behavior until they are 70 years of age or cannot discharge their duties due to incapacitation. Judges are chosen from a list of nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council, whose principal function is to recommend appointees.

The Supreme Court exercises original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors and other public ministers and consuls and petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus. The Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over final judgments and orders of lower courts in such cases as are enumerated in the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. It promulgates rules on pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts and admission to the practice of law. Moreover, the Supreme Court exercises administrative supervision over all courts and their personnel. The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines also vests the Judiciary with fiscal autonomy. According to Section 2 and Section 3, Article VII, of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, appropriations for the Judiciary may not be reduced by Congress below the amount appropriated for the previous years and, after approval thereof, shall be automatically and regularly released. These sections also state that no law can be passed to reorganize the Judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its members.