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Arroyo v. de Venecia

Arroyo v. de Venecia

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Published by Ronie Golpe

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Published by: Ronie Golpe on Jul 02, 2012
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JOKER P. ARROYO, EDCEL C. LAGMAN, JOHN HENRY R. OSMEÑA, WIGBERTO E.TAÑADA, and RONALDO B. ZAMORA,
 petitioners, vs
. JOSE DE VENECIA, RAUL DAZA,RODOLFO ALBANO, THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE,AND THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE,
respondents
.D E C I S I O NMENDOZA,
 J 
.:This is a petition for
certiorari
and/or prohibition challenging the validity of Republic Act No.8240, which amends certain provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code by imposing so-
called “sin taxes” (actua
lly specific taxes) on the manufacture and sale of beer and cigarettes.Petitioners are members of the House of Representatives. They brought this suit againstrespondents Jose de Venecia, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker RaulDaza, Majority Leader Rodolfo Albano, the Executive Secretary, the Secretary of Finance, andthe Commissioner of Internal Revenue, charging violation of the rules of the House which
 petitioners claim are “constitutionally mandated” so that their violation is ta
ntamount to aviolation of the Constitution.The law originated in the House of Representatives as H. No. 7198. This bill was approved onthird reading on September 12, 1996 and transmitted on September 16, 1996 to the Senate whichapproved it with certain amendments on third reading on November 17, 1996. A bicameralconference committee was formed to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the House andSenate versions of the bill.The bicameral conference committee submitted its report to the House at 8 a.m. on November21, 1996. At 11:48 a.m., after a recess, Rep. Exequiel Javier, chairman of the Committee onWays and Means, proceeded to deliver his sponsorship speech, after which he was interpellated.Rep. Rogelio Sarmiento was first to interpellate. He was interrupted when Rep. Arroyo movedto adjourn for lack of 
quorum
. Rep. Antonio Cuenco objected to the motion and asked for a headcount. After a roll call, the Chair (Deputy Speaker Raul Daza) declared the presence of a
quorum.
i[1]
Rep. Arroyo appealed the ruling of the Chair, but his motion was defeated when putto a vote. The interpellation of the sponsor thereafter proceeded.Petitioner Rep. Joker Arroyo registered to interpellate. He was fourth in the order, followingRep. Rogelio Sarmiento, Rep. Edcel C. Lagman and Rep. Enrique Garcia. In the course of hisinterpellation, Rep. Arroyo announced that he was going to raise a question on the
quorum
,although until the end of his interpellation he never did. What happened thereafter is shown inthe following transcript of the session on November 21, 1996 of the House of Representatives, aspublished by Congress in the newspaper issues of December 5 and 6, 1996:MR. ALBANO. Mr. Speaker, I move that we now approve and ratify the conference committeereport.THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). Any objection to the motion?
 
MR. ARROYO. What is that, Mr. Speaker?THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). There being none, approved.(Gavel)MR. ARROYO. No, no, no, wait a minute, Mr. Speaker, I stood up. I want to know what is thequestion that the Chair asked the distinguished sponsor.THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). There was a motion by the Majority Leader forapproval of the report, and the Chair called for the motion.MR. ARROYO. Objection, I stood up, so I wanted to object.THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). The session is suspended for one minute.(It was 3:01 p.m.)(3:40 p.m., the session was resumed)THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). The session is resumed.MR. ALBANO. Mr. Speaker, I move to adjourn until fou
r o‟clock, Wednesday, next week.
 
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). The session is adjourned until four o‟clock, Wednesday,
next week.(It was 3:40 p.m.)On the same day, the bill was signed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and thePresident of the Senate and certified by the respective secretaries of both Houses of Congress ashaving been finally passed by the House of Representatives and by the Senate on November 21,1996. The enrolled bill was signed into law by President Fidel V. Ramos on November 22,1996.Petitioners claim that there are actually four different versions of the transcript of this portion of 
Rep. Arroyo‟s interpellation: (1) the transcript of audio
-sound recording of the proceedings in thesession hall immediately after the session adjourned at 3:40 p.m. on November 21, 1996, whichpetitioner Rep. Edcel C. Lagman obtained from the operators of the sound system; (2) thetranscript of the proceedings from 3:00 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. of November 21, 1996, as certified bythe Chief of the Transcription Division on November 21, 1996, also obtained by Rep. Lagman;(3) the transcript of the proceedings from 3:00 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. of November 21, 1996 ascertified by the Chief of the Transcription Division on November 28, 1996, also obtained byRep. Lagman; and (4) the published version abovequoted. According to petitioners, the fourversions differ on three points, to wit: (1) in the audio-
sound recording the word “approved,”
which appears on line 13 in the three other versions, cannot be heard; (2) in the transcript
 
certified on November 21, 1996 the word “no” on line 17 appears only once, while in the other 
versions it is repeated three times; and (3) the published version does not contain the sentence
“(Y)ou better prepare for a quorum
because I will raise the question of the
quorum
,” which
appears in the other versions.
Petitioners‟ allegations are vehemently denied by respondents. However, there is no need to
discuss this point as petitioners have announced that, in order to expedite the resolution of thispetition, they admit, without conceding, the correctness of the transcripts relied upon by the
respondents. Petitioners agree that for purposes of this proceeding the word “approved” appears
in the transcripts.Only the proceedings of the House of Representatives on the conference committee report on H.
 No. 7198 are in question. Petitioners‟ principal argument is that R.A. No. 8240 is null and void
because it was passed in violation of the rules of the House; that these rules embody the
“constitutional mandate” in Art. VI, §16(3) that “each House may determine the rules of its proceedings” and that, consequently, violation of the House rules is a violation of the
Constitution itself. They contend that the certification of Speaker De Venecia that the law wasproperly passed is false and spurious.More specifically, petitioners charge that (1) in violation of Rule VIII, §35 and Rule XVII, §103of the rules of the House,
ii[2]
the Chair, in submitting the conference committee report to theHouse, did not call for the
 yeas
or
nays,
but simply asked for its approval by motion in order toprevent petitioner Arroyo from questioning the presence of a quorum; (2) in violation of RuleXIX, §112,
iii[3]
 
the Chair deliberately ignored Rep. Arroyo‟s question, “What is that . . . Mr.Speaker?” and did not repeat Rep. Albano‟s motion to approve or ratify; (3) in violation of Rule
XVI, §97,
1[4]
the Chair refused to recognize Rep. Arroyo and instead proceeded to act on Rep.
Albano‟s motion and afterward declared the report approved; and (4) in violation of Rule XX,
§§121-122, Rule XXI, §123, and Rule XVIII, §109,
iv[5]
the Chair suspended the session without
first ruling on Rep. Arroyo‟s question which, it is al
leged, is a point of order or a privileged
motion. It is argued that Rep. Arroyo‟s query should have been resolved upon the resumption of 
the session on November 28, 1996, because the parliamentary situation at the time of theadjournment remained upon the resumption of the session.Petitioners also charge that the session was hastily adjourned at 3:40 p.m. on November 21, 1996and the bill certified by Speaker Jose De Venecia to prevent petitioner Rep. Arroyo fromformally challenging the existence of a
quorum
and asking for a reconsideration.Petitioners urge the Court not to feel bound by the certification of the Speaker of the House that
the law had been properly passed, considering the Court‟s power under Art. VIII, §1 to pass on
claims of grave abuse of discretion by the other departments of the government, and they ask fora reexamination of Tolentino
v
. Secretary of Finance,
v[6]
which affirmed the conclusiveness of anenrolled bill, in view of the changed membership of the Court.

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