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CAMASURA, JR., or any other representative who may be appointed vice representative Juanita G. Camasura, Jr., and THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL, respondents.
Facts Mariano M. Pineda of Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) (RESPONDENT) and Dr. Emigdio A. Bondoc of Nacionalista Party (PETITIONER) were rival candidates for the position of Representative in fourth district of Pampanga. Pineda was proclaimed winner in the election. Bondoc filed HRET Case No.25 (House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal) on the basis of proportional representation from political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party list system represented therein (Sec 17, ART VI 1987 Constitution) which decided in favor of the latter. Before promulgation of the decision, Congressman Juanito Camasura one of the LDP Member of the tribunal revealed to Chief Congressman Jose Cojuanco Jr. that he voted for Bondoc “consistent with truth and justice and self -respect” and to honor a “gentlemen’s agreement”, His revelation led to his expulsion from LPD for his action was said to be betrayal to cause and obj ectives and loyalty to LDP. Tribunal has received formal notice from the house of representatives that at its plenary session, it had voted to withdraw the nomination and rescind the election of Congressman Camasura to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the Tribunal resolve to cancel the promulgation of its decision in Bondoc v Pineda because without Congressman Camasura’s vote, the decision lacks the concurrence of five members as required by Sec 24 of the Rules of Tribunal and can’t be validly promulgated.
Issue Whether or not the House of Representatives, at the request of the dominant political party therein, may change that party’s representation in the HRET to thwart the promulgation of a decision freely reached by the tribunal in an election contest pending therein 2. 3. Whether or Not the disloyalty to a party is valid cause of termination of membership in HRET Whether or Not Expulsion of Congressman Camasura violated his right to security of tenure
Ruling 1. NO. What Congressman Camasura did for voting Bondoc was a mere exercise of being a Sole judge of the election contest with Bondoc Vs Pineda and with House of Representatives Action in removing Congressman Camasura violated the right for independence of HRET.
Disloyalty to party is not valid cause for termination of membership in the HRET-
NO. As judges, the members of the tribunal must be non-partisan. They must discharge their functions with complete detachment, impartiality and independence even independence from the political party to which they belong. Hence, disloyalty to party and breach of party discipline are not valid grounds for the expulsion of a member of the tribunal. In expelling Congressman Camasura from the HRET for having cast a “conscience vote” in favor of Bondoc, based strictly on the result of the examination and appreciation of the ballots and the recount of the votes by the tribunal, the House of Representatives committed a grave abuse of discretion, an injustice and a violation of the Constitution. Its resolution of expulsion against Congressman Camasura is, therefore, null and void.
Expulsion of Congressman Camasura Violates his right to security of tenure
YES. Another reason for the nullity of the expulsion resolution of the House of Representatives is that it violates Congressman Camasura’s right to security of tenure. Members of the HRET, as sole judge of congressional election contests, are entitled to security of tenure just as members of the Judiciary enjoy security of tenure under the Constitution. Therefore, membership in the HRET may not be terminated except for a just cause, such as, the expiration of the member’s congressional term of office, his death, permanent disability, resignation from the political party he represents in the tribunal, formal affiliation with another political party or removal for other valid cause. A member may not be expelled by the House of Representatives for party disloyalty, short of proof that he has formally affiliated with another.