Digest Author: Dodot

Santiago v. Guingona Jr. (1998) Petition: Special Civil Action. Quo Warranto Petitioners: Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago and Sen. Francisco S. Tatad Respondent: Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. and Sen. Marcelo B. Fernan Ponente: J. Panganiban Date: 18 September 1998 Facts: 

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.  Definition: political question (Tanada v. Cuenco [1957])

27 June 1998 – Senate convened first reg. session, 11 Congress o Sen. Fernan elected as Senate President (20 to 2); Sen. Tatad had also been nominated, by Sen. Santiago  Sen. Ople, Senate President Pro Tempore  Sen. Drilon, Majority Leader o By the end of the session, no consensus/decision on who would be Minority Leader  Sen. Tatad manifested that he would be assuming the position of minority leader  The contention: those who had voted for Fernan constituted the “majority”; those who didn’t (Tatad and Santiago), the “minority”  Sen. Flavier: Lakas-NUCD-UMDP (7 members, thus, a minority) had chosen Sen. Guingona as the Minority Leader 30 July 1998 – Majority Leader said he had received a letter signed by the 7 Lakas Senators, stating that they had selected Guingona as the Minority Leader o Senate President formally recognized Sen. Guingona as Minority Leader 31 July 1998 – Sen. Santiago and Tatad filed petition for quo warranto

Those questions which, under the Constitution are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government. It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not [the] legality, of a particular measure.  Quo warranto proceedings

Legal remedy to determine the right to a contested public office and to oust the holder from its enjoyment. (Lota v. CA [1961]) In order for a quo warranto proceeding to be successful, the person suing must show that he/she has a clear right to the contested office or to use/exercise the functions of the office allegedly usurped or unlawfully held by the respondent. Issues: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Does the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over the petition? (YES) Was there an actual violation of the Constitution? (NO) Was Guingona usurping, unlawfully holding and exercising the position of Senate Minority Leader? (NO) Did Fernan act with grave abuse of discretion in recognizing Guingona as the Minority Leader? (NO)

Ruling/Ratio Decidendi: 1. YES.  Within the jurisdiction of the court to

Pertinent laws/provisions/concepts:  Sec 16(1), Art. VI, 1987 Constitution The Senate shall elect its President and the House of Representatives, its Speaker, by a majority vote of all its respective Members. Each House shall choose such other officers as it may deem necessary.  Sec. 16(3), Art. VI, 1987 Constitution

inquire if Senate (or its officials) violated the Consti. or gravely abused their discretion in the exercise of their functions. Doctrine: jurisdiction over subject matter of a case, determined by the allegations of the complaint, regardless of whether the petitioner is entitled to the relief asserted.
(Alleje v CA [1995], Sarmiento v. CA [1995], Times Broadcasting Network v. CA [1997], Chico v. CA [1998])

Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its Members, suspend or expel a Member. A penalty of suspension, when imposed, shall not exceed sixty days.  Sec 1, Par. 2, Art. VIII, 1987 Constitution

o Petitioners’ allegation: Sec 16(1), Art. VI not observed in selection of Senate Minority Leader: invoke SC’s judicial power to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion.
 Invoked Avelino v. Cuenco: tackled scope of SC’s judicial review – questions involving interpretation/application of a provision of the Consti. or law, including rules of either house of Congress (even acts political in nature, whenever

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

Digest Author: Dodot
there are constitutionally imposed limits on powers or functions conferred upon political bodies); in the case, SC assumed jurisdiction in deciding who was the rightful Senate President – resolution hinged on the interpretation of the constitutional provision on the presence of a quorum. o Respondents’ comment: issue an internal matter pertaining exclusively to the domain of the legislature – SC cannot exercise jurisdiction w/o transgressing separation-of-powers.  No Constitutional issue involved: Consti. does not provide for the office of a minority leader in the Senate: Senate has full discretion to provide for office, and procedure in selecting its occupant  Avelino does not apply: no question involving interpretation/application of Consti., laws, or rules of Senate. Other examples of SC exercising jurisdiction over acts of Exec./Legis.: o Lansang v. Garcia (1971): SC has authority to inquire into existence of factual bases required by the Consti. for suspension of writ of habeas corpus – not to supplant Executive, only to check if Executive went beyond constitutional limits of his jurisdiction. o Javellana v. Executive Secretary (1973) matter concerned with internal procedure of the House. 2. NO.  Congress has the power/prerogative to provide for its officers: to prescribe the parameters for the exercise of this prerogative. o To intrude on the jurisdiction of the legislature (in the case) would amount to Judicial Legislation – a clear breach of separation-of-powers. o In the absence of Consti. prov., laws, or specific rules – SC devoid of any basis upon which to determine the legality of acts of the Senate. Petitioners’ argument: o “Majority” must take its definition from Sec. 16(1), Art. VI: “Majority” = those who voted for Senate President; thus, “Minority” = those who did not vote for Senate President.  Thus, Guingona cannot be Senate Minority Leader because (1) he voted for Fernan and (2) the bloc of Senators who voted for him also voted for Fernan

SC: argument has no clear support – from Consti.
o Judicial definition of “majority”: number greater than half or more than half of any total. (Perez v. De la Cruz [1969], Perfecto concurring opinion in Avelino v. Cuenca) o Consti. requirement: Senate President must get votes of more than one half of all the Senators – does not provide

Judicial Power to check grave abuse of discretion more explicitly granted to the SC in the 1987 Consti. (Sec 1, Art. VIII)
o Tanada v. Angara (1997): petitioners sought to nullify Senate concurrence in ratifying the WTO Agreement – right and duty of judiciary to settle issues where one branch of gov’t infringed Consti.; but SC should only strike down acts of co-equal branches on two grounds, (1) unconstitutionality or illegality, or (2) grave abuse of discretion Some post-1987 Consti. examples of cases where SC decided it did not have jurisdiction: o Co v. HRET (1991): full authority conferred upon HRET as sole judges of all contests relating to election returns, qualifications of members – no grave abuse of discretion. o Arroyo v. De Venecia (1997): on whether a bill had been properly approved by the legislative body –

that members who will not vote for him shall ipso facto constitute the “minority”.
Precedent cited by Guingona: th in 8 Congress, nomination of Sen. Salonga as Senate President was seconded by a member of the minority – Sen. Joseph Estrada. o SC: unlike with selection of Senate President, Consti. is not explicit in the manner of selecting the Minority Leader – must be prescribed by the Senate. (Consti. vests in each house of Congress the power to determine the rules of its proceedings. [Sec. 16(3), Art. VI]) SC: neither has argument have clear support of Rules: the Rules of the Senate do not provide for the positions of majority and minority leaders. Petitioners unable to prove clearly and sufficiently their entitlement to the office of the Senate minority leader. o Absent any clear-cut guidelines, no way to establish that illegality or 


NO. 

Digest Author: Dodot
irregularity tainted Guingona’s assumption of the office of the Senate minority leader. 4. NO.  Fernan not guilty of “capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment”, or of “an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility”. o Guingona belongs to Lakas, a minority party o Recognition came after at least two Senate sessions and a caucus, where both sides allowed to articulate their standpoints.

Decision: Petition Dismissed Dissenting Opinion: J. Mendoza  Centered on whether the SC had jurisdiction over the case: Mendoza disagreed with the majority and opined that the SC did not have jurisdiction. o Political question: SC must respect internal affairs of its co-equal branches o Courts have no power to inquire into the internal org. of a house of Congress, except as the question affects the rights of third parties or a specific constitutional limitation is involved.  For this reason, the SC had, in the past, declined to assume jurisdiction over cases involving the discipline of members of the Legis. (Alejandrino v. Quezon [1924] – suspension of a Senator for assaulting a fellow Senator; Osmena v. Pendatun [1960] – suspension of a Senator for imputing bribery to Pres. Garcia) and the interpretation of rules of procedure of a house (Arroyo v. De Venecia).

Principles: Congress  Organizations and Sessions  Election of Officers

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