Grave Abuse of Discretion: What is Grave Abuse of Discretion?

Grave Abuse of Discretion: What is Grave Abuse of Discretion?

Grave abuse of discretion is an almost common term for bar students to encounter. While discretion is a known attribute that judges exercise when analyzing a case, it is also the usual remedy sought by parties unsatisfied with a case decision.

This article seeks not only to define grave abuse of discretion but to check some cases. Said cases to be used as examples may or may not have proved grave abuse of discretion depending on how proper the remedy was used.

The term “grave abuse of discretion” was mentioned in the 1987 Philippine Constitution as it defined judicial power. to wit:


Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and 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.


Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution

With this constitutional provision, Justice Kapunan defined grave abuse of discretion as:

“…capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment that is patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law; or to act at all in contemplation of law as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility.”

GR No. 141284, 15 August 2000

The term “grave abuse of discretion” then becomes an issue raised in courts by an aggrieved party in accordance to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. This was the same allegation thrown against the President in GR No. 225973.

grave abuse of discretion

Allegations of Grave Abuse of Discretion

The allegations stemmed from the President’s decision to allow the burial of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos’s burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB). This was a move seen by several society groups as the current President’s way of fulfilling his campaign promise to the Marcos family. This was the basis of the memorandum issued by Delfin N. Lorenzana, Secretary of National Defense to the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

This was the discretion, petitioners in the said case alleged, that led to:

“… violating the letter and spirit of the 1987 Constitution, which is a “post-dictatorship charter” and a “human rights constitution”.”

GR No. 225973


The Court disagreed. According to Justice Caguioa:

“As the Office of the Solicitor General ( OSG) logically reasoned out, while the Constitution is a product of our collective history as a people, its entirety should not be interpreted as providing guiding principles to just about anything remotely related to the Martial Law period such as the proposed Marcos burial at the LNMB.”

GR No. 225973

Justice Caguioa’s basis on whether there was grave abuse of discretion or not was Almario et al. vs Executive Secretary, to wit:

There is grave abuse of discretion when an act is (1) done contrary to the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence or (2) executed whimsically, capriciously or arbitrarily, out of malice, ill will or personal bias.

GR No. 189028, 16 July 2013

Jurisprudence made the Court, first and foremost, well-aware of all events, proven or not, that transpired during the Marcos years. As to the petitioners’ definition of the word “bayani” (hero), it is not automatically conferred on the late President simply by getting buried at LNMB. His military record though was used as basis to have his remains buried at LNMB, a site proclaimed as a “military shrine” under Presidential Decree 1076.

In effect, this is less about him being a “hero” and more of a war veteran buried in a government-proclaimed military shrine. Hence, the Court found no legal basis as to whether there is grave abuse of discretion in the President’s decision.

This will not be the last time grave abuse of discretion would be discussed. More articles yet to come analyzing other legal maxims to go with relevant jurisprudence. With sensible, well-thought out research as experienced by my previous clients in the website content niche, I can get the rest of the articles published with the right links as referenced.

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