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Avelino v. Cuenco ( March 4, 1949) Original Action in the Supreme Court.

Quo Warranto Ponente: Per Curiam

FACTS: (Essential facts established) February 18,1949 n the session of !enate, !enator "oren#o $a%ada re&uested to s'ea( on the floor on the ne)t session day on February *1, 1949 to formulate char+es a+ainst !enate President ,ose -.elino -''ro.ed/0ranted February *1, 1949 !e.eral dilatory tactics 1as em'loyed by the !enate President and his follo1ers to 're.ent !enator $a%ada from deli.erin+ his 'ri.ile+e s'eech ( delayin+ the start of session and o''osin+ motion for roll call and motion to read the minutes) !enator $a%ada re'eatedly stood u' to claim his ri+ht ot his one2hour 'ri.ile+e s'eech but 1as continuously i+nored3 !enate President -.elino announced that he 1ould order the arrest of any senator 1ho 1ould s'ea( 1ithout bein+ 're.iously reco+ni#ed by him3 !ome disorderly conduct bro(e out in the !enate +allery3 (!houts 1ere heard from indi.iduals of the sudience, 1here t1o fist fi+hts too( 'lace3 $he detonation of a +unshot 1as heard from outside) 4 res'ondents contend that the 'olice officers 'resent 1ere able to maintain order and no shots 1ere fired5 res'ondents also alle+ed that it a''eared to be 'rearran+ed -t about this same time !enator Pablo -n+eles, one of the 'etitioner7s follo1ers, 1as reco+ni#ed by 'etitioner, and he mo.ed for ad8ournment of session, e.idently, a+ain, in 'ursuance of the abo.e2mentioned cons'iracy to mu##le !enator $a%ada3 !enator !anidad re+istered his o''osition to the ad8ournment of the session and this o''osition 1as seconded by herein res'ondent 1ho mo.ed that the motion of ad8ournment be submitted to a .ote3 -nother commotion ensued3 !uddenly, the 'etitioner ban+ed the +a.el and abandonin+ the Chair hurriedly 1al(ed out of the session hall follo1ed by !enator, $irona, Francisco, $orres, 9a+alona and Clarin, 1hile the rest of the senators remained3224 :es'ondents claim that the session 1as not ad8ourned ;;; $he abo.e2stated facts 1ere almost the same in all as'ects of the res'ondent<s .ersion of the facts 1ith little different claims as stated Petitioners version of the facts (from Dissent of Perfecto, J.) February *1, 1949 Petitioner o'ened the session in !enate and ** !enators ans1ered in the roll call =hile the minutes of the 'recedin+ session 1as bein+ read the cro1d of more than 1,>>> 'eo'le 1ho entered the !enate hall to 1itness the session, became unruly, the re'eated efforts of 'etitioner as 1ell as the ser+eant2at2 arms and other 'eace officers to maintain 'eace and order not1ithstandin+3 Fi+hts and commotions ensued and se.eral shots 1ere fired amon+ the audience3 $he !enator 1ho s'o(e could not be heard because the s'ectators 1ould either shout to dro1n their .oices or 1ould demeans that some other !enator should ta(e the floor and be reco+ni#ed by 'etitioner Pandemonium rei+ned and it 1as im'ossible for the !enate to 'roceed 1ith its deliberations free from undue 'ressure and 1ithout +ra.e dan+er to its inte+rity as a body and to the 'ersonal safety of the members thereof3 !enator Pablo -n+eles mo.ed for ad8ournment until $hursday, February *4, 19493 $here bein+ no ob8ection, 'etitioner ad8ourned the session until February *4, 19493 $hereu'on 'etitioner and nine other !enator namely, ?icente ,3 Francisco, Fernando "o'e#, Emiliano $ria $irona, Pablo -n+eles, !uli'ada Pendatun, :amon $orres, Enri&ue# 9a+alona, Carlos $an, and @le+ario Clarin left the session hall3 >>Continuation of undis uted facts !enator 9elencio -rran#, !enate President Pro2tem'ore, ur+ed by those senators 'resent too( the Chair and 'roceeded 1ith the session3 !enator Cabili stood u', and as(ed that it be made of record A it 1as so made A that the deliberate abandonment of the Chair by the 'etitioner, made it incumbent u'on !enate President Pro2tem'ore -rran# and the remainin+ members of the !enate to continue the session in order not to 'araly#e the functions of the !enate3

!enate President Pro2tem'ore -rran# then su++ested that res'ondent !enator Cuenco be desi+nated to 'reside the session 1hich su++estion 1as carried unanimously3 $he res'ondent thereu'on too( the Chair3 B'on motion of !enator -rran#, 1hich 1as a''ro.ed 0re+orio -bad 1as a''ointed -ctin+ !ecretary, because the -ssistance !ecretary, 1ho 1as then actin+ as !ecretary, had follo1ed the 'etitioner 1hen the latter abandoned the session3 !enator $a%ada, after bein+ reco+ni#ed by the Chair, 1as then finally able to his 'ri.ile+e s'eech3 $hereafter !enator !anidad read aloud the com'lete te)t of said :esolution Co3 D8 (:esolution @rderin+ $he n.esti+ation @f Char+es Filed -+ainst $he !enate President, ,ose -.elino), and submitted his motion for a'' thereof and the same 1as unanimously a''ro.ed3 44 !enate President ,ose -.elino, in a caucus of hi+h +o.ernment officials of the Phili''ines 0o.ernment and leaders of the "iberal Partyheld at 9alaca%an+ 'alace on ,anuary 1E, 1949, deli.ered a s'eech, 1herein he ad.ocated the 'rotection, or, at least, tolerance, of +raft and corru'tion in the +o.ernment, and 'laced the interest of +rafters and corru't officials as su'reme and abo.e the 1elfare of the 'eo'le, doctrine under 1hich it is im'ossible for an honest and clean +o.ernment to e)ist =ith !enate President Pro2tem'ore -rran# a+ain occu'yin+ the Chair, after the res'ondent had yielded it to him, !enator !anidad introduced :esolution Co3 DF, entitled G:esolution declarin+ .acant the 'osition of the President of the !enate and desi+nated the Honorable 9ariano ,esus Cuenco -ctin+ President of the !enate3G Put to a .ote, the said resolution 1as unanimously a''ro.ed3 !enator Cuenco too( the oath3 $he ne)t day the President of the Phili''ines reco+ni#ed the res'ondent as actin+ 'resident of the Phili''ines !enate3 !" his etition in this quo arranto roceedin# etitioners as$ed the Court to dec%are him the ri#htfu% President of the Phi%i ines senate and oust res ondent. The va%idit" of reso%ution nos. &' and &( )ere assai%ed *ecause of the a%%e#ed a*sence of a +uorum necessar" for the Senate to do an" *usiness.

,SS-.S: 13 =@C the Court has 8urisdiction the sub8ect matterI (raised by res'ondent) Co $he court by a .ote of D24 resol.ed to deny the 'etition 1ithout 're8udice to the 'romul+ation of a more e)tended o'inion3 :eason: 6octrine of !e'aration of Po1ers3 Constitution +ranted the !enate the 'o1er to elect its o1n 'resident3 ,udiciary should not inter.ene3 :emedy lies in the !enate !ession Hall not in the !u'reme Court *3 =@C :esolutions Cos3 D8 and DF 1ere .alidly a''ro.edI a3 =@C the session of the so2called rum' !enate a continuation of the session .alidly assembled 1ith ** !enators in the mornin+ of February *1, 1949I Jes, it<s a continuation3 - minority of 1> senators may not, by the Hall, 're.ent the other 1* senators from 'assin+ a resolution that met 1ith their unanimous endorsement =@C there 1as a &uorum in that sessionI 4 member belie.e there is &uorum5 4 members belie.e there is no &uorum5 * members declined to render their o'inion because of their refusal to ta(e 8urisdiction51 member is absent from the Phili''ines3 Conclusion: E)istence of a &uorum is doubtful Dissents


/oran, C.J. $he court has 8urisdiction because the issue as to the le+al ca'acity of the Cuenco +rou' cannot be decided by the -.elino +rou' nor the Cuenco +rou'3 $herefore, the conflict 1ill remain unsettled if the court refuses to inter.ene $he session 1herein res'ondent 1as elected as actin+ President of the !enate 1as ille+al because 1hen !enator 9abana+ raised the &uestion of a quorum and the roll 1as called, only t1el.e senators 1ere 'resent3 n the Phili''ines there are t1enty2four senators, and therefore, the quorum must be thirteen3 $herefore, his election 1as not le+al not attained the &uorum 1hich should be the ma8ority of all the members of !enate Perfecto, J. $he court has 8urisdiction because of the le+al issues raised, i3e3, le+ality of the ad8ournment, le+ality of Cuenco<s election as -ctin+ !enate President, &uestion of the e)istence of &uorum $he 'o1er to ad8ourn is one of the e)clusi.e ' of a le+islati.e chamber3 t cannot be e)ercised by any sin+le indi.idual, 1ithout usur'ation of the collecti.e 'rero+ati.es3 t is too tremendous a 'o1er to be 1ielded by a sin+le indi.idual3 $here is no 'ro.ision in the 'resent rules of the !enate 1hich e)'ressly or im'liedly authori#es an ad8ournment 1ithout the consent of the body or one 1hich authori#es the 'residin+ officer to decree motu proprio said ad8ournment, and the sound 'arliamentary 'ractice and e)'erience in thiscountry and in the Bnited !tates of -merica, u'on 1hich ours is 'atterned, 1ould not authori#e the e)istence of such a 'ro.ision3 $he Constitution 'ro.ides that a ma8ority of each House 1ould constitute a ma8ority3 $he 'hrase Keach HouseL refers to full membershi' therefore 1* cannot be a ma8ority in the senate 1ith *4 members3 - ma8ority cannot be less than 1M because ma8ority means more than one2half3 =ithout a &uorum, conse&uently, resolution nos3 D8 and DF are in.alid3 $he e)istence of a quorum in a collecti.e body is an indis'ensable condition for effecti.e collecti.e action3 Tuason, J 1* senators 1ho elected -ctin+ !enate President cuenco did not constitute a &uorum3 $herefore, his election is in.alid


0.S12-T,13 13 /1T,13 F10 0.C13S,D.0AT,13 (/arch 45, 4656) Ny a ma8ority .ote of F, the court assume 8urisdiction the case in li+ht of the subse&uent e.ents 1hich 8ustify inter.ention $he Chief ,ustice a+rees 1ith the result of the ma8ority7s 'ronouncement of the quorum u'on the +round that, under the 'eculiar circumstances of the case,the constitutional re&uirement in that re+ard has become a mere formalism3 He belie.e that the +rou' has done enou+h to satisfy the re&uirements of the Constitutionand that the ma8ority7s rulin+ is in conformity 1ith substantial 8ustice and 1ith the re&uirements of 'ublic interest3 $he 8ud+ment of the Court is, therefore, that res'ondent 9ariano ,3 Cuencohas been le+ally elected as !enate President and the 'etition is dismissed, 1ith costs a+ainst 'etitioner3 Feria, J., Concurrin+ o'inion ( 1hich e)'lanation of the rulin+) -rt3 M (4) $itle ? of the Constitution of 19ME 'ro.ided that Gthe ma8ority of all the members of the Cational -ssembly constitute a quorum to do businessG and the fact that said 'ro.ision 1as amended in the Constitution of 19M9,so as to read Ga ma8ority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business,G sho1s the intention of the framers of the Constitution to base the ma8ority, not on the number fi)ed or 'ro.ided for the Constitution, but on

actual members or incumbents, and this must be limited to actual members 1ho are not inca'acitated to dischar+e their duties by reason of death, inca'acity, or absence from the 8urisdiction of the house or for other causes 1hich ma(e attendance of the member concerned im'ossible, e.en throu+h coerci.e 'rocess 1hich each house is em'o1ered to issue to com'el its members to attend the session in order to constitute a quorum3 "e+islati.e and ,udicial Precedents: $his conclusion is in consonance 1ith the le+islati.e and 8udicial 'recedent3 n the :esolution of both Houses 'ro'osin+ an amendment of the Constitution of the Phili''ines to be a''ended to the Constitution, +rantin+ 'arity ri+htto -merican citi#en in the Phili''ines out of 1hich the case of Ma!anag v". #ope$, supra arose, both Houses of Con+ress in com'utin+ the three2fourths of all the members of the !enate and the House of :e'resentati.e .otin+se'arately, re&uired by !ec3 1, -rticle O? of the Constitution, the three2fourths of all the members 1as based, not on the number fi)ed or 'ro.ided for in the Constitution, but on the actual members 1ho ha.e &ualifiedor 1ere not dis&ualified3 n the case of %eople v". &uente", the 'ro.ision of !ec3 1, subsection *, of -ct Co3 M1>4, 1hich re&uired unanimity of .ote of the !u'reme Court in im'osin+ death e)ce'ted from the court those members of the Court 1ho 1ere le+ally dis&ualified from the case, this Court held that the absence of the Chief ,ustice -.ance%a, authori#ed by resolution of the Court, 1as a le+al dis&ualification, and his .ote 1as not necessary in the determination of the unanimity of the decision im'osin+ death 'enalty3 Perfecto, J., concurrin+ ,udicial Ghands2offG 'olicy is, in effect, a sho1in+ of official inferiority com'le)3 For the !u'reme Court to refuse to assume 8urisdiction in the case is to .iolate the Constitution3 :efusal to e)ercise the 8udicial 'o1er .ested in it is to trans+ress the fundamental la13 $his case raises .ital constitutional &uestions 1hich no one can settle or decide if this Court should refuse to decide them3 For the 'ur'ose of choosin+ res'ondent merely as -ctin+ of the !enate, as an emer+ency measure to fill the .acuum created by 'etitioner7s desertion of the office of 'residin+ officer by his 1al(ed in the session of February *1, 1949, the 'resence of the t1el.e (1*) senators 1as enou+h quorum3

$he Constitution 'ro.ides: (*) - ma8ority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may ad8ourn from day to day and may com'el the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such 'enalties as such House may 'ro.ide3 (!ec3 1>, -rticle ? 3) $he Gsmaller numberG referred to in the abo.e 'ro.ision has to act collecti.ely and cannot act as collecti.e body to 'erform the function s'ecially .ested in it by the Constitution unless 'resided by one amon+ their number3 $he collecti.e body constituted by said Gsmaller numberG has to ta(e measure to Gcom'el the attendance of absent member in such manner and under 'enalties as such House may 'ro.ide,G so as to a.oid disru'tion in the functions of the res'ecti.e le+islati.e chamber3 !aid Gsmaller numberG maybe t1el.e or e.en less than t1el.e senators to constitute a quorum for the election of a tem'orary or actin+ 'resident, 1ho 1ill ha.e to act until normalcy is restored3

Petitioner<s refusal to attend the sessions, not1ithstandin+ res'ondent7s commitment to allo1 him to 'reside them, can and should lo+ically be inter'reted as an abandonment 1hich entails forfeiture of office3 (!antia+o vs. -+ustin, 4D Phil3, 145 @rti# vs. 6e 0u#man, 49 Phil3, MF15 4D Cor'us ,uris '3 98>29815 =il(inson vs. City of Nirmin+ham, D8 !o3 9995 4M -merican ,uris'rudence '3 *F)3