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Published by: Marivic Linag on Aug 06, 2011
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09/12/2014

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G. R. No. 83767 October 27, 1988 Juan Ponce Enrile, et al. vs.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal This is a Special Civil Action for certiorari to nullify and set aside t he Resolutions of the Senate Electoral Tribunal dated February 12, 1988 and May 27, 1988, denying respectively, the petitioners’ Motion for Disqualification or In hibition and their Motion for Reconsiderations thereafter filed. Facts of the Case: On October 9, 1987, the petitioners filed before the respondent Tribunal an election contest docketed as SET Case No. 002-87 against 22 candidates of th e LABAN coalition who were proclaimed senators-elect in the May 11, 1987 congres sional elections by the Commission on Elections. The respondent Tribunal was at the time composed of three (3) Justices of the Supreme Court and six (6) Senato rs, namely: Senior Associate Justice Pedro L. Yap (Chairman), Associate Justices Andres R. Narvasa and Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr. and Senators Joseph E. Estrada, Ne ptali A. Gonzales, Teofisto T. Guingona, Jose Lina, Jr., Mamintal A. J. Tamano a nd Victor S. Ziga. On November 17, 1987, the petitioners filed with the respondent Tribunal a Motion for Disqualification or Inhibition of the Senators-Members thereof fro m the hearing and resolution of SET Case No. 002-87 on the ground that all of th em are interested parties to said case, as respondents therein. The petitioners argue that considerations of public policy and the norms of fair play and due process imperatively require the mass disqualification sou ght and that the doctrine of necessity which they perceive to be the foundation of the petition of the questioned Resolution does not rule out a solution both p racticable and constitutionally unobjectionable, namely: the amendment of the re spondent Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure so as to permit the contest being decided b y only three Members of the Tribunal. The proposed amendment to the Tribunal’s Rules (Section 24) – requiring the concurrence of five (5) members for the adoption of resolution of whatever natur e is a proviso that where more than four (4) members are disqualified, the remai ning members shall constitute a quorum, if not less than three (3) including one (1) Justice, and may adopt resolutions by majority vote with no abstentions. Th is would, in the context of that situation, leave the resolution of the contest to the only three Members who would remain, all Justices of the Supreme Court, w hose disqualification is not sought. Issue: 1. Whether both the considerations of public policy and fair play and the consti tutional intent concerning mixed “judicial” and “legislative” composition of the Elector al Tribunal would appear to be substantially met and served? 2. Whether the petitioners’ proposed amendment of the respondent Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure, Section 24 is constitutional or not? Ruling: The charge that the respondent Tribunal gravely abused its discretion in its disposition of the incidents referred to must therefore fail. In the circum stances, it acted well within law and principle in dismissing the petition for d isqualification or inhibition filed by herein petitioners. The instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit. 1. In providing for a Tribunal to be staffed by both Justices of the Supreme Cou rt and Members of the Senate, the Constitution intended that both those “judicial” a nd “legislative” components commonly share the duty and authority of deciding all co ntests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of Senators. The intention of the provision is that the contest shall be reso lved by a panel or body in which the Senators are represented by their peers and that the constitutional provision mandates the participation in the same proces s of decision of the representative or representatives of the Supreme Court. 2. The Supreme Court does not agree with the petitioners’ thesis that the suggeste d devise is neither unfeasible nor repugnant to the Constitution. The Supreme Co

urt opine that in fact the most fundamental objection to such proposal lies in t he plain terms and intent of the Constitution itself which, in its Article VI, S ection 17, creates the Senate Electoral Tribunal, ordains its composition and de fines its jurisdiction and powers. “Section 17. The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members, three of whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justic e, and the remaining six shall be Members of the Senate or the House of Represen tatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional re presentation from the political parties and the parties or organizations registe red under the party-list system represented therein. The Senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman.” Rationale: Should any three (3) Senator-Members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal vo luntarily inhibit or disqualify themselves from participating in the proceedings in SET Case No. 002-87, a Tribunal would result that would be balanced between the three (3) Justice-Members and the three (3) Senators-Members and still const itute more than a bare quorum. In such a Tribunal, both the considerations of pu blic policy and fair play raised by petitioners and the constitutional intent ab ove noted concerning the mixed “judicial” and “legislative” composition of the Electoral Tribunals would appear to be substantially met and served.

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