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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-51122 March 25, 1982
EUGENIO J. PUYAT, ERWIN L. CHIONGBIAN, EDGARDO P. REYES, ANTONIO G. PUYAT,
JAIME R. BLANCO, RAFAEL R. RECTO and REYNALDO L. LARDIZABAL, petitioners,
vs.
HON. SIXTO T. J. DE GUZMAN, JR., as Associate Commissioner of the Securities &
Exchange Commission, EUSTAQUIO T. C. ACERO, R. G. VILDZIUS, ENRIQUE M. BELO,
MANUEL G. ABELLO, SERVILLANO DOLINA, JUANITO MERCADO and ESTANISLAO A.
FERNANDEZ, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J .:
This suit for certiorari and Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction is poised against the Order of
respondent Associate Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
granting Assemblyman Estanislao A. Fernandez leave to intervene in SEC Case No. 1747.
A question of novel import is in issue. For its resolution, the following dates and allegations are
being given and made:
a) May 14,1979. An election for the eleven Directors of the International Pipe Industries
Corporation (IPI) a private corporation, was held. Those in charge ruled that the following were
elected as Directors:
Eugenio J. Puyat Eustaquio T.C. Acero
Erwin L. Chiongbian R. G. Vildzius
Edgardo P. Reyes Enrique M. Belo
Antonio G. Puyat Servillano Dolina
Jaime R. Blanco Juanito Mercado
Rafael R. Recto
Those named on the left list may be called the Puyat Group; those on the right, the Acero
Group. Thus, the Puyat Group would be in control of the Board and of the management of IPI.
b) May 25, 1979. The Acero Group instituted at the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) quo warrantoproceedings, docketed as Case No. 1747 (the SEC Case), questioning the
election of May 14, 1979. The Acero Group claimed that the stockholders' votes were not
properly counted.
c) May 25-31, 1979. The Puyat Group claims that at conferences of the parties with respondent
SEC Commissioner de Guzman, Justice Estanislao A. Fernandez, then a member of the Interim
Batasang Pambansa, orally entered his appearance as counsel for respondent Acero to which
the Puyat Group objected on Constitutional grounds. Section 11, Article VIII, of the 1973
Constitution, then in force, provided that no Assemblyman could "appear as counsel before ...
any administrative body", and SEC was an administrative body. Incidentally, the same
prohibition was maintained by the April 7, 1981 plebiscite. The cited Constitutional prohibition
being clear, Assemblyman Fernandez did not continue his appearance for respondent Acero.
d) May 31, 1979. When the SEC Case was called, it turned out that:
(i) On May 15, 1979, Assemblyman Estanislao A. Fernandez had purchased
from Augusto A. Morales ten (10) shares of stock of IPI for P200.00 upon request
of respondent Acero to qualify him to run for election as a Director.
(ii) The deed of sale, however, was notarized only on May 30, 1979 and was
sought to be registered on said date.
(iii) On May 31, 1979, the day following the notarization of Assemblyman
Fernandez' purchase, the latter had filed an Urgent Motion for Intervention in the
SEC Case as the owner of ten (10) IPI shares alleging legal interest in the matter
in litigation.
e) July 17, 1979. The SEC granted leave to intervene on the basis of Atty. Fernandez'
ownership of the said ten shares.
1
It is this Order allowing intervention that precipitated the
instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction.
f) July 3, 1979. Edgardo P. Reyes instituted a case before the Court of First Instance of Rizal
(Pasig), Branch XXI, against N.V. Verenigde Bueinzenfabrieken Excelsior De Maas and
respondent Eustaquio T. C. Acero and others, to annul the sale of Excelsior's shares in the IPI
to respondent Acero (CC No. 33739). In that case, Assemblyman Fernandez appeared as
counsel for defendant Excelsior In L-51928, we ruled that Assemblyman Fernandez could not
appear as counsel in a case originally filed with a Court of First Instance as in such situation the
Court would be one "without appellate jurisdiction."
On September 4, 1979, the Court en banc issued a temporary Restraining Order enjoining
respondent SEC Associate Commissioner from allowing the participation as an intervenor, of
respondent Assemblyman Estanislao Fernandez at the proceedings in the SEC Case.
The Solicitor General, in his Comment for respondent Commissioner, supports the stand of the
latter in allowing intervention. The Court en banc, on November 6, 1979, resolved to consider
the Comment as an Answer to the Petition.
The issue which will be resolved is whether or not Assemblyman Fernandez, as a then
stockholder of IPI may intervene in the SEC Case without violating Section 11, Article VIII of the
Constitution, which, as amended, now reads:
SEC. 11.
No Member of the Batasang Pambansa shall appear as counsel before any court
without appellate jurisdiction.
before any court in any civil case wherein the Government, or any subdivision,
agency, or instrumentality thereof is the adverse party,
or in any criminal case wherein any officer or employee of the Government is
accused of an offense committed in relation to his office,
or before any administrative body.
Neither shall he, directly or indirectly be interested financially in any contract with,
or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any
subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned
or controlled corporation, during his term of office.
He shall not accept employment to intervene in any cause or matter where he
may be called to act on account of his office. (Emphasis supplied)
What really has to be resolved is whether or not, in intervening in the SEC Case, Assemblyman
Fernandez is, in effect, appearing as counsel, albeit indirectly, before an administrative body in
contravention of the Constitutional provision.
Ordinarily, by virtue of the Motion for Intervention, Assemblyman Fernandez cannot be said to
be appearing as counsel. Ostensibly, he is not appearing on behalf of another, although he is
joining the cause of the private respondents. His appearance could theoretically be for the
protection of his ownership of ten (10) shares of IPI in respect of the matter in litigation and not
for the protection of the petitioners nor respondents who have their respective capable and
respected counsel.
However, certain salient circumstances militate against the intervention of Assemblyman
Fernandez in the SEC Case. He had acquired a mere P200.00 worth of stock in IPI,
representing ten shares out of 262,843 outstanding shares. He acquired them "after the fact"
that is, on May 30, 1979, after the contested election of Directors on May 14, 1979, after the quo
warranto suit had been filed on May 25, 1979 before SEC and one day before the scheduled
hearing of the case before the SEC on May 31, 1979. And what is more, before he moved to
intervene, he had signified his intention to appear as counsel for respondent Eustaquio T. C.
Acero,
2
but which was objected to by petitioners. Realizing, perhaps, the validity of the
objection, he decided, instead, to "intervene" on the ground of legal interest in the matter under
litigation. And it maybe noted that in the case filed before the Rizal Court of First Instance (L-
51928), he appeared as counsel for defendant Excelsior, co-defendant of respondent Acero
therein.
Under those facts and circumstances, we are constrained to find that there has been an indirect
"appearance as counsel before ... an administrative body" and, in our opinion, that is a
circumvention of the Constitutional prohibition. The "intervention" was an afterthought to enable
him to appear actively in the proceedings in some other capacity. To believe the avowed
purpose, that is, to enable him eventually to vote and to be elected as Director in the event of an
unfavorable outcome of the SEC Case would be pure naivete. He would still appear as counsel
indirectly.
A ruling upholding the "intervention" would make the constitutional provision ineffective. All an
Assemblyman need do, if he wants to influence an administrative body is to acquire a minimal
participation in the "interest" of the client and then "intervene" in the proceedings. That which
the Constitution directly prohibits may not be done by indirection or by a general legislative act
which is intended to accomplish the objects specifically or impliedly prohibited.
3

In brief, we hold that the intervention of Assemblyman Fernandez in SEC. No. 1747 falls within
the ambit of the prohibition contained in Section 11, Article VIII of the Constitution.
Our resolution of this case should not be construed as, absent the question of the constitutional
prohibition against members of the Batasan, allowing any stockholder, or any number of
stockholders, in a corporation to intervene in any controversy before the SEC relating to intra-
corporate matters. A resolution of that question is not necessary in this case.
WHEREFORE, respondent Commissioner's Order granting Atty. Estanislao A. Fernandez leave
to intervene in SEC Case No. 1747 is hereby reversed and set aside. The temporary
Restraining Order heretofore issued is hereby made permanent.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez, Guerrero, Abad Santos, De
Castro, Ericta, Plana and Escolin, JJ., concur.
Aquino, J., took no part.
Barredo, J., I reserve my vote.


Footnotes
1 p. 23, Rollo.
2 p. 6, Ibid.
3 Am. Digest, 2d Dicennial Ed., Vol. 5, citing Atkinson vs. Board, etc., 108 P.
1046.
EN BANC
[G.R. No. 134577. November 18, 1998]
SEN. MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO and SEN. FRANCISCO S. TATAD, petitioners,
vs. SEN. TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR. and SEN. MARCELO B. FERNAN, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
PANGANIBAN, J .:
The principle of separation of powers ordains that each of the three great branches of
government has exclusive cognizance of and is supreme in matters falling within its own
constitutionally allocated sphere.
Constitutional respect and a becoming regard for the sovereign acts of a coequal branch
prevents this Court from prying into the internal workings of the Senate. Where no provision of
the Constitution or the laws or even the Rules of the Senate is clearly shown to have been
violated, disregarded or overlooked, grave abuse of discretion cannot be imputed to Senate
officials for acts done within their competence and authority. This Court will be neither a tyrant
nor a wimp; rather, it will remain steadfast and judicious in upholding the rule and majesty of the
law.
The Case

On July 31, 1998, Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Francisco S. Tatad instituted an
original petition for quo warranto under Rule 66, Section 5, Rules of Court, seeking the ouster of
Senator Teofisto T. Guingona Jr. as minority leader of the Senate and the declaration of
Senator Tatad as the rightful minority leader.
On August 4, 1998, the Court, upon receipt of the Petition, required the respondents and
the solicitor general to file COMMENT thereon within a non-extendible period of fifteen (15)
days from notice. On August 25, 1998, both respondents and the solicitor general submitted
their respective Comments. In compliance with a Resolution of the Court dated September 1,
1998, petitioners filed their Consolidated Reply on September 23, 1998. Noting said pleading,
this Court gave due course to the petition and deemed the controversy submitted for decision,
without need of memoranda, on September 29, 1998.
In the regular course, the regional trial courts and this Court have concurrent
jurisdiction
[1]
to hear and decide petitions for quo warranto (as well as certiorari, prohibition
and mandamus), and a basic deference to the hierarchy of courts impels a filing of such
petitions in the lower tribunals.
[2]
However, for special and important reasons or for exceptional
and compelling circumstances, as in the present case, this Court has allowed exceptions to this
doctrine.
[3]
In fact, original petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus and quo
warranto assailing acts of legislative officers like the Senate President
[4]
and the Speaker of the
House
[5]
have been recognized as exceptions to this rule.
The Facts

The Senate of the Philippines, with Sen. John Henry R. Osmea as presiding officer, convened
on July 27, 1998 for the first regular session of the eleventh Congress. At the time, in terms of
party affiliation, the composition of the Senate was as follows:
[6]

10 members -Laban ng Masang Pilipino (LAMP)
7 members - Lakas-National Union of Christian Democrats-United Muslim Democrats
of the Philippines (Lakas-NUCD-UMDP)
1 member - Liberal Party (LP)
1 member - Aksyon Demokrasya
1 member - Peoples Reform Party (PRP)
1 member - Gabay Bayan
2 members - Independent
----------
23 - total number of senators
[7]
(The last six members are all classified by petitioners as
independent.)
On the agenda for the day was the election of officers. Nominated by Sen. Blas F. Ople to
the position of Senate President was Sen. Marcelo B. Fernan. Sen. Francisco S. Tatad was
also nominated to the same position by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. By a vote of 20 to
2,
[8]
Senator Fernan was declared the duly elected President of the Senate.
The following were likewise elected: Senator Ople as president pro tempore, and Sen.
Franklin M. Drilon as majority leader.
Senator Tatad thereafter manifested that, with the agreement of Senator Santiago,
allegedly the only other member of the minority, he was assuming the position of minority
leader. He explained that those who
had voted for Senator Fernan comprised the majority, while only those who had voted
for him, the losing nominee, belonged to the minority.
During the discussion on who should constitute the Senate minority, Sen. Juan M. Flavier
manifested that the senators belonging to the Lakas-NUCD-UMDP Party -- numbering seven (7)
and, thus, also a minority -- had chosen Senator Guingona as the minority leader. No
consensus on the matter was arrived at. The following session day, the debate on the
question continued, with Senators Santiago and Tatad delivering privilege speeches. On the
third session day, the Senate met in caucus, but still failed to resolve the issue.
On July 30, 1998, the majority leader informed the body that he was in receipt of a letter
signed by the seven Lakas-NUCD-UMDP senators,
[9]
stating that they had elected Senator
Guingona as the minority leader. By virtue thereof, the Senate President formally recognized
Senator Guingona as the minority leader of the Senate.
The following day, Senators Santiago and Tatad filed before this Court the subject petition
for quo warranto, alleging in the main that Senator Guingona had been usurping, unlawfully
holding and exercising the position of Senate minority leader, a position that, according to them,
rightfully belonged to Senator Tatad.
Issues

From the parties pleadings, the Court formulated the following issues for resolution:
1. Does the Court have jurisdiction over the petition?
2. Was there an actual violation of the Constitution?
3. Was Respondent Guingona usurping, unlawfully holding and exercising the position of
Senate minority leader?
4. Did Respondent Fernan act with grave abuse of discretion in recognizing Respondent
Guingona as the minority leader?
The Courts Ruling

After a close perusal of the pleadings
[10]
and a careful deliberation on the
arguments, pro and con, the Court finds that no constitutional or legal infirmity or grave abuse of
discretion attended the recognition of and the assumption into office by Respondent Guingona
as the Senate minority leader.
First Issue: The Courts Jurisdiction

Petitioners principally invoke Avelino v. Cuenco
[11]
in arguing that this Court has jurisdiction
to settle the issue of who is the lawful Senate minority leader. They submit that the definitions of
majority and minority involve an interpretation of the Constitution, specifically Section 16 (1),
Article VI thereof, stating that [t]he Senate shall elect its President and the House of
Representatives its Speaker, by a majority vote of all its respective Members.
Respondents and the solicitor general, in their separate Comments, contend in common
that the issue of who is the lawful Senate minority leader is an internal matter pertaining
exclusively to the domain of the legislature, over which the Court cannot exercise jurisdiction
without transgressing the principle of separation of powers. Allegedly, no constitutional issue is
involved, as the fundamental law does not provide for the office of a minority leader in the
Senate. The legislature alone has the full discretion to provide for such office and, in that event,
to determine the procedure of selecting its occupant.
Respondents also maintain that Avelino cannot apply, because there exists no question
involving an interpretation or application of the Constitution, the laws or even the Rules of the
Senate; neither are there peculiar circumstances impelling the Court to assume jurisdiction
over the petition. The solicitor general adds that there is not even any legislative practice to
support the petitioners theory that a senator who votes for the winning Senate President is
precluded from becoming the minority leader.
To resolve the issue of jurisdiction, this Court carefully reviewed and deliberated on the
various important cases involving this very important and basic question, which it has ruled
upon in the past.
The early case Avelino v. Cuenco cautiously tackled the scope of the Courts power of
judicial review; that is, questions involving an interpretation or application of a provision of the
Constitution or the law, including the rules of either house of Congress. Within this scope falls
the jurisdiction of the Court over questions on the validity of legislative or executive acts that are
political in nature, whenever the tribunal finds constitutionally imposed limits on powers or
functions conferred upon political bodies.
[12]

In the aforementioned case, the Court initially declined to resolve the question of who was
the rightful Senate President, since it was deemed a political controversy falling exclusively
within the domain of the Senate. Upon a motion for reconsideration, however, the Court
ultimately assumed jurisdiction (1) in the light of subsequent events which justify its
intervention; and (2) because the resolution of the issue hinged on the interpretation of the
constitutional provision on the presence of a quorum to hold a session
[13]
and therein elect a
Senate President.
Justice Feria elucidated in his Concurring Opinion: [I] concur with
the majority that this Court has jurisdiction over cases like the present x x x so as to
establish in this country the judicial supremacy, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, to
see that no one branch or agency of the government transcends the Constitution, not only in
justiceable but political questions as well.
[14]

Justice Perfecto, also concurring, said in part:
Indeed there is no denying that the situation, as obtaining in the upper chamber of Congress, is
highly explosive. It had echoed in the House of Representatives. It has already involved the
President of the Philippines. The situation has created a veritable national crisis, and it is
apparent that solution cannot be expected from any quarter other than this Supreme Court,
upon which the hopes of the people for an effective settlement are pinned.
[15]

x x x This case raises vital constitutional questions which no one can settle or decide if this
Court should refuse to decide them.
[16]

x x x The constitutional question of quorum should not be left unanswered.
[17]

In Taada v. Cuenco,
[18]
this Court endeavored to define political question. And we said
that it refers to 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.
[19]

The Court ruled that the validity of the selection of members of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal by the senators was not a political question. The choice of these members did not
depend on the Senates full discretionary authority, but was subject to mandatory constitutional
limitations.
[20]
Thus, the Court held that not only was it clearly within its jurisdiction to pass upon
the validity of the selection proceedings, but it was also its duty to consider and determine the
issue.
In another landmark case, Lansang v. Garcia,
[21]
Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion wrote
that the Court had authority to and should inquire into the existence of the factual bases
required by the Constitution for the suspension of the privilege of the writ [of habeas
corpus]. This ruling was made in spite of the previous pronouncements in Barcelon v.
Baker
[22]
and Montenegro v. Castaeda
[23]
that the authority to decide whether the exigency has
arisen requiring suspension (of the privilege x x x) belongs to the President and his decision is
final and conclusive upon the courts and upon all other persons. But the Chief Justice
cautioned: the function of the Court is merely to check -- not to supplant --- the Executive, or to
ascertain merely whether he has gone beyond the constitutional limits of his
jurisdiction, not to exercise the power vested in himor to determine the wisdom of his act.
The eminent Chief Justice aptly explained later in Javellana v. Executive Secretary:
[24]

The reason why the issue under consideration and other issues of similar character are
justiciable, not political, is plain and simple. One of the principal bases of the non-justiciability of
so-called political questions is the principle of separation of powers -- characteristic of the
presidential system of government -- the functions of which are classified or divided, by reason
of their nature, into three (3) categories, namely, 1) those involving the making of laws, which
are allocated to the legislative department; 2) those concerning mainly with the enforcement of
such laws and of judicial decisions applying and/or interpreting the same, which belong to the
executive department; and 3) those dealing with the settlement of disputes, controversies or
conflicts involving rights, duties or prerogatives that are legally demandable and enforceable,
which are apportioned to courts of justice. Within its own sphere -- but only within such sphere
each department is supreme and independent of the others, and each is devoid of authority not
only to encroach upon the powers or field of action assigned to any of the other departments,
but also to inquire into or pass upon the advisability or wisdom of the acts performed, measures
taken or decisions made by the other departments -- provided that such acts, measures or
decision are within the area allocated thereto by the Constitution."
Accordingly, when the grant of power is qualified, conditional or subject to limitations, the issue
of whether or not the prescribed qualifications or conditions have been met, or the limitations
respected is justiciable or non-political, the crux of the problem being one of legality or validity of
the contested act, not its wisdom. Otherwise, said qualifications, conditions or limitations --
particularly those prescribed by the Constitution -- would be set at naught. What is more, the
judicial inquiry into such issue and the settlement thereof are the main functions of the courts of
justice under the presidential form of government adopted in our 1935 Constitution, and the
system of checks and balances, one of its basic predicates. As a consequence, we have
neither the authority nor the discretion to decline passing upon said issue, but are under the
ineluctable obligation -- made particularly more exacting and peremptory by our oath, as
members of the highest Court of the land, to support and defend the Constitution -- to settle
it. This explains why, in Miller v. Johnson [92 Ky. 589, 18 SW 522, 523], it was held that courts
have a duty, rather than a power, to determine whether another branch of the government has
kept within constitutional limits.
Unlike our previous constitutions, the 1987 Constitution is explicit in defining the scope of
judicial power. The present Constitution now fortifies the authority of the courts to determine in
an appropriate action the validity of the acts of the political departments. It speaks of judicial
prerogative in terms of duty, viz.:
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.
[25]

This express definition has resulted in clearer and more resolute pronouncements of the
Court. Daza v. Singson,
[26]
Coseteng v. Mitra Jr.
[27]
and Guingona Jr. v. Gonzales
[28]
similarly
resolved issues assailing the acts of the leaders of both houses of Congress in apportioning
among political parties the seats to which each chamber was entitled in the Commission on
Appointments. The Court held that the issue was justiciable, even if the question were political
in nature, since it involved the legality, not the wisdom, of the manner of filling the Commission
on Appointments as prescribed by [Section 18, Article VI of] the Constitution.
The same question of jurisdiction was raised in Taada v. Angara,
[29]
wherein the
petitioners sought to nullify the Senates concurrence in the ratification of the World Trade
Organization (WTO) Agreement. The Court ruled: Where an action of the legislative branch is
seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the
duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. The Court en bancunanimously stressed that in
taking jurisdiction over petitions questioning an act of the political departments of government, it
will not review the wisdom, merits or propriety of such action, and will strike it down only on
either of two grounds: (1) unconstitutionality or illegality and (2) grave abuse of discretion.
Earlier in Co v. Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives
[30]
(HRET), the Court
refused to reverse a decision of the HRET, in the absence of a showing that said tribunal had
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The Court ruled that full
authority had been conferred upon the electoral tribunals of the House of Representatives and
of the Senate as sole judges of all contests relating to
the election, the returns, and the qualifications of their respective members. Such
jurisdiction is original and exclusive.
[31]
The Court may inquire into a decision or resolution of
said tribunals only if such decision or resolution was rendered without or in excess of
jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion.
[32]

Recently, the Court, in Arroyo v. De Venecia,
[33]
was asked to reexamine the enrolled bill
doctrine and to look beyond the certification of the Speaker of the House of Representatives
that the bill, which was later enacted as Republic Act 8240, was properly approved by the
legislative body. Petitioners claimed that certain procedural rules of the House had been
breached in the passage of the bill. They averred further that a violation of the constitutionally
mandated House rules was a violation of the Constitution itself.
The Court, however, dismissed the petition, because the matter complained of concerned
the internal procedures of the House, with which the Court had no concern. It enucleated:
[34]

It would be an unwarranted invasion of the prerogative of a coequal department for this Court
either to set aside a legislative action as void because the Court thinks the House has
disregarded its own rules of procedure, or to allow those defeated in the political arena to seek a
rematch in the judicial forum when petitioners can find their remedy in that department
itself. The Court has not been invested with a roving commission to inquire into complaints, real
or imagined, of legislative skullduggery. It would be acting in excess of its power and would
itself be guilty of grave abuse of discretion were it to do so. x x x In the absence of anything to
the contrary, the Court must assume that Congress or any House thereof acted in the good faith
belief that its conduct was permitted by its rules, and deference rather than disrespect is due the
judgment of that body.
In the instant controversy, the petitioners -- one of whom is Senator Santiago, a well-known
constitutionalist -- try to hew closely to these jurisprudential parameters. They claim that
Section 16 (1), Article VI of the Constitution, has not been observed in the selection of the
Senate minority leader. They also invoke the Courts expanded judicial power to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of respondents.
Dissenting in part, Mr. Justice Vicente V. Mendoza submits that the Court has no
jurisdiction over the petition. Well-settled is the doctrine, however, that jurisdiction over the
subject matter of a case is determined by the allegations of the complaint or petition, regardless
of whether the plaintiff or petitioner is entitled to the relief asserted.
[35]
In light of the aforesaid
allegations of petitioners, it is clear that this Court has jurisdiction over the petition. It is well
within the power and jurisdiction of the Court to inquire whether indeed the Senate or its officials
committed a violation of the Constitution or gravely abused their discretion in the exercise of
their functions and prerogatives.
Second Issue: Violation of the Constitution

Having assumed jurisdiction over the petition, we now go to the next crucial question: In
recognizing Respondent Guingona as the Senate minority leader, did the Senate or its officials,
particularly Senate President Fernan, violate the Constitution or the laws?
Petitioners answer the above question in the affirmative. They contend that the
constitutional provision requiring the election of the Senate President by majority vote of all its
members carries with it a judicial duty to determine the concepts of majority and minority, as
well as who may elect a minority leader. They argue that majority in the aforequoted
constitutional provision refers to that group of senators who (1) voted for the winning Senate
President and (2) accepted committee chairmanships. Accordingly, those who voted for the
losing nominee and accepted no such chairmanships comprise the minority, to whom the right
to determine the minority leader belongs. As a result, petitioners assert, Respondent Guingona
cannot be the legitimate minority leader, since he voted for Respondent Fernan as Senate
President. Furthermore, the members of the Lakas-NUCD-UMDP cannot choose the minority
leader, because they did not belong to the minority, having voted for Fernan and accepted
committee chairmanships.
We believe, however, that the interpretation proposed by petitioners finds no clear support
from the Constitution, the laws, the Rules of the Senate or even from practices of the Upper
House.
The term majority has been judicially defined a number of times. When referring to a
certain number out of a total or aggregate, it simply means the number greater than half or
more than half of any total.
[36]
The plain and unambiguous words of the subject constitutional
clause simply mean that the Senate President must obtain the votes of more than one half
of all the senators. Not by any construal does it thereby delineate whocomprise the majority,
much less the minority, in the said body. And there is no showing that the framers of our
Constitution had in mind other than the usual meanings of these terms.
In effect, while the Constitution mandates that the President of the Senate must be elected
by a number constituting more than one half of all the members thereof, it does not provide that
the members who will not vote for him shall ipso facto constitute the minority, who could
thereby elect the minority leader. Verily, no law or regulation states that the defeated candidate
shall automatically become the minority leader.
The Comment
[37]
of Respondent Guingona furnishes some relevant precedents, which were
not contested in petitioners Reply. During the eighth Congress, which was the first to convene
after the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, the nomination of Sen. Jovito R. Salonga as
Senate President was seconded by a member of the minority, then Sen. Joseph E.
Estrada.
[38]
During the ninth regular session, when Sen. Edgardo J. Angara assumed the Senate
presidency in 1993, a consensus was reached to assign committee chairmanships to all
senators, including those belonging to the minority.
[39]
This practice continued during the tenth
Congress, where even the minority leader was allowed to chair a committee.
[40]
History would
also show that the majority in either house of Congress has referred to the political party to
which the most number of lawmakers belonged, while the minority normally referred to a party
with a lesser number of members.
Let us go back to the definitions of the terms majority and minority. Majority may also
refer to the group, party, or faction with the larger number of votes,
[41]
not necessarily more
than one half. This is sometimes referred to as plurality. In contrast, minority is a group, party,
or faction with a smaller number of votes or adherents than the
majority.
[42]
Between two unequal parts or numbers comprising a whole or totality, the greater
number would obviously be the majority, while the lesser would be the minority. But where
there are more than two unequal groupings, it is not as easy to say which is the minority entitled
to select the leader representing all the minorities. In a government with a multi-party
system such as in the Philippines (as pointed out by petitioners themselves), there could be
several minority parties, one of which has to be identified by the Comelec as the dominant
minority party for purposes of the general elections. In the prevailing composition of the
present Senate, members either belong to different political parties or are independent. No
constitutional or statutory provision prescribe which of the many minority groups or the
independents or a combination thereof has the right to select the minority leader.
While the Constitution is explicit on the manner of electing a Senate President and a House
Speaker, it is, however, dead silent on the manner of selecting the other officers in both
chambers of Congress. All that the Charter says is that [e]ach House shall choose such other
officers as it may deem necessary.
[43]
To our mind, the method of choosing who will be such
other officers is merely a derivative of the exercise of the prerogative conferred by the
aforequoted constitutional provision. Therefore, such method must be prescribed by the
Senate itself, not by this Court.
In this regard, the Constitution vests in each house of Congress the power to determine
the rules of its proceedings.
[44]
Pursuant thereto, the Senate formulated and adopted a set of
rules to govern its internal affairs.
[45]
Pertinent to the instant case are Rules I and II thereof,
which provide:
Rule I
ELECTIVE OFFICERS
SECTION 1. The Senate shall elect, in the manner hereinafter provided, a President, a
President Pro Tempore, a Secretary, and a Sergeant-at-Arms.
These officers shall take their oath of office before entering into the discharge of their duties.
Rule II
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
SEC. 2. The officers of the Senate shall be elected by the majority vote of all its
Members. Should there be more than one candidate for the same office, a nominal vote shall
be taken; otherwise, the elections shall be byviva voce or by resolution.
Notably, the Rules of the Senate do not provide for the positions of majority and minority
leaders. Neither is there an open clause providing specifically for such offices and prescribing
the manner of creating them or of choosing the holders thereof. At any rate, such offices, by
tradition and long practice, are actually extant. But, in the absence of constitutional or statutory
guidelines or specific rules, this Court is devoid of any basis upon which to determine the
legality of the acts of the Senate relative thereto. On grounds of respect for the basic concept of
separation of powers, courts may not intervene in the internal affairs of the legislature; it is not
within the province of courts to direct Congress how to do its work.
[46]
Paraphrasing the words of
Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, this Court is of the opinion that where no specific, operable
norms and standards are shown to exist, then the legislature must be given a real and effective
opportunity to fashion and promulgate as well as to implement them, before the courts may
intervene.
[47]

Needless to state, legislative rules, unlike statutory laws, do not have the imprints of
permanence and obligatoriness during their effectivity. In fact, they are subject to revocation,
modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them.
[48]
Being merely matters of
procedure, their observance are of no concern to the courts, for said rules may be waived or
disregarded by the legislative body
[49]
at will, upon the concurrence of a majority.
In view of the foregoing, Congress verily has the power and prerogative to provide for such
officers as it may deem. And it is certainly within its own jurisdiction and discretion to prescribe
the parameters for the exercise of this prerogative. This Court has no authority to
interfere and unilaterally intrude into that exclusive realm, without running afoul of
constitutional principles that it is bound to protect and uphold -- the very duty that
justifies the Courts being. Constitutional respect and a becoming regard for the
sovereign acts of a coequal branch prevents this Court from prying into the internal
workings of the Senate. To repeat, this Court will be neither a tyrant nor a wimp; rather,
it will remain steadfast and judicious in upholding the rule and majesty of the law.
To accede, then, to the interpretation of petitioners would practically amount to
judicial legislation, a clear breach of the constitutional doctrine of separation of
powers. If for this argument alone, the petition would easily fail.
While no provision of the Constitution or the laws or the rules and even the practice of the
Senate was violated, and while the judiciary is without power to decide matters over which full
discretionary authority has been lodged in the legislative department, this Court may still inquire
whether an act of Congress or its officials has been made with grave abuse
of discretion.
[50]
This is the plain implication of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, which
expressly confers upon the judiciary the power and the duty not only to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, but likewise 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.
Explaining the above-quoted clause, former Chief Justice Concepcion, who was a member
of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, said in part:
[51]

xxx the powers of government are generally considered divided into three branches: the
Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. Each one is supreme within its own sphere and
independent of the others. Because of that supremacy[, the] power to determine whether a
given law is valid or not is vested in courts of justice.
Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the limits of power of the agencies and offices of the
government as well as those of its officers. In other words, the judiciary is the final arbiter on
the question whether or not a branch of government or any of its officials has acted without
jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of discretion
amounting to excess of jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a
duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature.
This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which means that the courts cannot
hereafter evade the duty to settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters constitute
a political question.
With this paradigm, we now examine the two other issues challenging the actions, first, of
Respondent Guingona and, second, of Respondent Fernan.
Third Issue: Usurpation of Office

Usurpation generally refers to unauthorized arbitrary assumption and exercise of
power
[52]
by one without color of title or who is not entitled by law thereto.
[53]
A quo
warranto proceeding is the proper legal remedy to determine the right or title to the contested
public office and to oust the holder from its enjoyment.
[54]
The action may be brought by the
solicitor general or a public prosecutor
[55]
or any person claiming to be entitled to the public
office or position usurped or unlawfully held or exercised by another.
[56]
The action shall be
brought against the person who allegedly usurped, intruded into or is unlawfully holding or
exercising such office.
[57]

In order for a quo warranto proceeding to be successful, the person suing must show that
he or she has a clear right to the contested office or to use or exercise the functions of the office
allegedly usurped or unlawfully held by the respondent.
[58]
In this case, petitioners present no
sufficient proof of a clear and indubitable franchise to the office of the Senate minority leader.
As discussed earlier, the specific norms or standards that may be used in determining who
may lawfully occupy the disputed position has not been laid down by the Constitution, the
statutes, or the Senate itself in which the power has been vested. Absent any clear-cut
guideline, in no way can it be said that illegality or irregularity tainted Respondent Guingonas
assumption and exercise of the powers of the office of Senate minority leader. Furthermore, no
grave abuse of discretion has been shown to characterize any of his specific acts as minority
leader.
Fourth Issue: Fernans Recognition of Guingona

The all-embracing and plenary power and duty of the Court 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 is restricted only by the definition and
confines of the term grave abuse of discretion.
By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment
as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as
to amount to an evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by
law, or to act at all in contemplation of law as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary
and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility.
[59]

By the above standard, we hold that Respondent Fernan did not gravely abuse his
discretion as Senate President in recognizing Respondent Guingona as the minority leader. Let
us recall that the latter belongs to one of the minority parties in the Senate, the Lakas-NUCD-
UMDP. By unanimous resolution of the members of this party that he be the minority leader, he
was recognized as such by the Senate President. Such formal recognition by Respondent
Fernan came only after at least two Senate sessions and a caucus, wherein both sides were
liberally allowed to articulate their standpoints.
Under these circumstances, we believe that the Senate President cannot be accused of
capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment or of an arbitrary and despotic manner by
reason of passion or hostility. Where no provision of the Constitution, the laws or even the
rules of the Senate has been clearly shown to have been violated, disregarded or
overlooked, grave abuse of discretion cannot be imputed to Senate officials for acts
done within their competence and authority.
WHEREFORE, for the above reasons, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa CJ., Davide, Jr., Melo, Puno, Martinez, Quisumbing, and Pardo JJ., concur.
Romero, J., Please see Separate Opinion.
Bellosillo, J., No part. Did not take part in deliberation.
Vitug, J., Please see Separate Opinion.
Kapunan. J., concur with Justice Mendoza, see concurring and dissenting opinion.
Mendoza, J., Please see concurring and dissenting opinion.
Purisima, J., concur and dissent with the opinion of Justice Mendoza.



[1]
21 (1), BP 129; 5 (1), Art. VIII, Constitution.
[2]
See Manalo v. Gloria, 236 SCRA 130, 138-139, September 1, 1994; citing People v.
Cuaresma, 172 SCRA 415, 423-24, April 18, 1989, and Defensor-Santiago v. Vasquez, 217
SCRA 633, 651-652, January 27, 1993.
[3]
Uy v. Contreras, 237 SCRA 167, September 26, 1994; Vergara Sr. v. Suelto, 156 SCRA 753,
December 21, 1987.
[4]
Avelino v. Cuenco, 83 Phil 17 (1949); Guingona, Jr. v. Gonzales, 214 SCRA 789, October 20,
1992.
[5]
Arroyo vs. De Venecia, 277 SCRA 268, August 14, 1997.
[6]
The solicitor general, in his Comment dated August 21, 1998, attributed to the 23 members of
the Senate the following party affiliations:
Senate President Marcelo B. Fernan - Laban ng Masang Pilipino
(LAMP)
Sen. Raul S. Roco - Aksyon Demokratiko
Sen. Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr. - Lakas-National Union of
Christian Democrats-
United Muslim
Democrats
of the Philippines
(Lakas-
NUCD-UMDP)
Sen. Franklin M. Drilon - LAMP
Sen. Juan M. Flavier - Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago - Peoples Reform Party
(PRP)
Sen. Sergio R. Osmea III - Liberal Party (LP)
Sen. Francisco S. Tatad - PRP
Sen. Gregorio B. Honasan - LP (Independent)
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile - LP (Independent)
Sen. Anna Dominique M.L. Coseteng - LAMP
Sen. Loren Legarda-Leviste - Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
Sen. Renato L. Cayetano - Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III - LAMP
Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. - LAMP
Sen. Robert Z. Barbers - Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
Sen. Rodolfo G. Biazon - LAMP
Sen. Blas F. Ople - LAMP
Sen. John Henry R. Osmea - LAMP
Sen. Robert S. Jaworski - LAMP
Sen. Ramon B. Revilla - Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. - Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta - LAMP
(Rollo, pp. 63-64. See also Comment of Respondent Guingona, Jr., rollo, p. 41.)
[7]
One position was vacant, because of the election of the incumbent, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
as the Vice President of the Philippines.
[8]
Senator Fernan abstained from voting. (Petition, p. 4; rollo, p. 6. Comment of the solicitor
general, p. 2; rollo, p. 63.)
[9]
Senators Robert Z. Barbers, Renato L. Cayetano; Juan M. Flavier, Teofisto T. Guingona Jr.,
Loren Legarda-Leviste, Ramon B. Magsaysay Jr., and Ramon B. Revilla.
[10]
The Petition was signed by both petitioners; the Comment of Senate President Fernan, by
Senator Fernan himself and Attys. Mary Jane L. Zantua and Lani Grace R. Songco; the
Comment of Senator Guingona, by Atty. Ricardo G. Nepomuceno Jr.; the Comment of the OSG,
by Sol. Gen. Ricardo P. Galvez, Asst. Sol. Gen. Carlos N. Ortega and Associate Solicitor Rico
Sebastian D. Liwanag; while the Consolidated Reply, by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.
[11]
83 Phil 17 (1949).
[12]
Bernas, The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary, Vol. II, 1988 ed.,
p. 282.
[13]
10 (2), Art. VI of the 1935 Constitution, reads:
(2) A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number
may adjourn from day to day and may compel the attendance of absent Members in such
manner and under such penalties as such House may provide.
[14]
Supra, p. 72.
[15]
At p. 76.
[16]
At p. 78.
[17]
At p. 79.
[18]
103 Phil 1051, 1068 (1957), per Concepcion, J.
[19]
Ibid., p. 1067, citing 16 CJS 413.
[20]
11, Art. VI of the 1935 Constitution.
[21]
42 SCRA 448, December 11, 1971.
[22]
5 Phil 87 (1905).
[23]
91 Phil 882 (1952).
[24]
50 SCRA 30, 84, 87, March 31, 1973.
[25]
Art. VIII, 1, par. 2.
[26]
180 SCRA 496, December 21, 1989, per Cruz, J.
[27]
187 SCRA 377, July 12, 1990, per Grio-Aquino, J.
[28]
214 SCRA 789, October 20, 1992, per Campos Jr., J.
[29]
272 SCRA 18, 47, May 2, 1997, per Panganiban, J.
[30]
199 SCRA 692, July 30, 1991, per Gutierrez Jr., J.
[31]
Citing Lazatin v. HRET, 168 SCRA 391, 1988.
[32]
Citing Robles v. HRET, 181 SCRA 780, 1990.
[33]
277 SCRA 268, August 14, 1997, per Mendoza, J.
[34]
At p. 299.
[35]
Alleje v. Court of Appeals, 240 SCRA 495, January 25, 1995; Sarmiento v. Court of Appeals,
250 SCRA 108, November 16, 1995; Times Broadcasting Network v. Court of Appeals, 274
SCRA 366, June 19, 1997; Chico v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 122704, January 5, 1998.
[36]
Perez v. De la Cruz, 27 SCRA 587, 603 (1969), citing Websters International Dictionary,
Unabridged; Concurring Opinion of J. Perfecto in Avelino v. Cuenco, supra, p. 80. See also
Petition, rollo, p. 12, citing Blacks Law Dictionary, 6th ed., 1990.
[37]
P. 15; rollo, p. 55.
[38]
Citing Record of the Senate, 8th Congress, Vol. I, No. 14, p. 9.
[39]
Citing Record of the Senate, 9th Congress, Vol. III, No. 47-A, pp. 88-94.
[40]
Then Minority Leader Ernesto C. Maceda chaired the Committees on Constitutional
Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws; and on Foreign Relations. Senator Honasan
chaired the Committees on Agrarian Reform; on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation; and on
Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement. Senator Coseteng was the chair of the
Committees on Civil Service and Government Reorganization; and on Labor, Employment and
Human Resources. (See footnote 40 of Respondent Guingonas Comment, supra.)
[41]
Websters New World Dictionary, 2nd college ed., 1972.
[42]
Ibid.
[43]
16 (1), second par., Art. VI of the Constitution.
[44]
16 (3), Art. VI of the Constitution.
[45]
Rules of the Senate (see Appendix A, Guide to the Senate by Reginald M. Pastrana and
Demaree J.B. Raval).
[46]
New York Public Interest Research Group, Inc. v. Steingut, 353 NE2d 558.
[47]
Concurring Opinion in Oposa v. Factoran Jr., 224 SCRA 792, 818, July 30, 1993.
[48]
Osmea Jr. v. Pendatun, 109 Phil 863, 870-871 (1960), citing 76 CJS 870. See also
Arroyo v. De Venecia, supra.
[49]
Ibid. See also Enrique M. Fernando, Constitution of the Philippines Annotated, 1977, pp.
188-189.
[50]
Ledesma v. Court of Appeals, 278 SCRA 656, 681, September 5, 1997.
[51]
I RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION 436.
[52]
91 CJS 551, citing State ex rel Danielson v. Village of Mound, 48 NW2d 855, 863.
[53]
67 CJS 317, citing Wheat v. Smith, 7 SW 161.
[54]
Lota v. Court of Appeals, 2 SCRA 715, 718, June 30, 1961.
[55]
2, Rule 66, Rules of Court.
[56]
5, ibid. See also Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon v. Mendez Sr., 239 SCRA 11, 18,
December 6,1994; Tarrosa v. Singson, 232 SCRA 553, 557, May 25, 1994.
In this regard, the Court notes that Petitioner Santiago has no standing to bring the
instant petition for quo warranto, for she does not claim to be rightfully entitled to the position of
Senate minority leader. We have ruled in the past:
Nothing is better settled than that a petitioner, in a quo warranto proceeding to try title
to a public office, must be able to show that he is entitled to said office. Absent such an
element, the petition must be dismissed. This is a principle that goes back to Acosta v. Flor [5
Phil 18, 22], a 1905 decision. There, the doctrine has been laid down that: No individual can
bring a civil action relating to usurpation of a public office without averring that he has a right to
the same; and at any stage of the proceedings, if it be shown that such individual has no right,
the action may be dismissed because there is no legal ground upon which it may proceed when
the fundamental basis of such action is destroyed. This has been the exacting rule, since then,
followed with stricter firmness in Cuyegkeng v. Cruz [108 Phil 1147], where this Court held that
one who does not claim to be entitled to the office allegedly usurped or unlawfully held or
exercised by another, but who merely asserts a right to be appointed thereto, cannot question
the latters title to the same by quo warranto. In other words, one whose claim is predicated
solely upon a more or less remote possibility, that he may be the recipient of the appointment,
has no cause of action against the office holder. (Garcia v. Perez, 99 SCRA 628, 633-34,
September 11, 1980, per De Castro, J.)
However, any question on standing has been rendered moot by the inclusion of
Petitioner Tatad, who claims to have the right to the contested office.
[57]
1, Rule 66, Rules of Court. In relation to this rule, Respondent Fernan claims that he is not
a proper party to the case, because he did not usurp nor is he unlawfully holding or exercising
the office of minority leader. While the action commenced by petitioners was denominated
a quo warranto petition under Rule 66, the Court notes that among the principal averments
made was that Respondent Fernan committed grave abuse of discretion in recognizing
Respondent Guingona as the Senate minority leader. Such averment brings the petition within
the purview of a certiorari proceeding under Rule 65. A basic principle in remedial law states
that it is not the title given by the parties to the action which determines its nature, but the
averments made in the pleadings. The case may, thus, be treated as a joint certiorari and quo
warranto action and, as such, Respondent Fernan is a proper, if not necessary, party thereto.
[58]
Batario Jr. v. Parentela Jr., 9 SCRA 601, November 29, 1963; Caraon-Medina v. Quizon, 18
SCRA 562, October 29, 1966.
[59]
Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Court of Appeals, 257 SCRA 200, 209, June 4, 1996,
per Kapunan, J.; citing Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Confesor, 231 SCRA 41, March 10, 1994, and
other cases. See also Imutan v. Court of Appeals, 102 SCRA 286, 292, January 27, 1981.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-17144 October 28, 1960
SERGIO OSMEA, JR., petitioner,
vs.
SALIPADA K. PENDATUN, LEON Z. GUINTO, JR., VICENTE L. PERALTA, FAUSTINO
TOBIA, LORENZO G. TEVES, JOPSE J. ROY, FAUSTINO DUGENIO, ANTONIO Y. DE PIO,
BENJAMIN T. LIGOT, PEDRO G. TRONO, FELIPE ABRIGO, FELIPE S. ABELEDA, TECLA
SAN ANDRES ZIGA, ANGEL B. FERNADEZ, and EUGENIO S. BALTAO, in their capacity
as members of the Special Committee created by House Resolution No. 59,respondents.
Antonio Y. de Pio in his own behalf.
F. S. Abeleda, A. b. Fernandez. E. S. Baltao and Tecla San Andres Ziga in their own behalf.
C. T. Villareal and R. D. Bagatsing as amici curiae.
BENGZON, J .:
On July 14, 1960, Congressman Sergio Osmea, Jr., submitted to this Court a verified petition
for "declaratory relief, certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction" against
Congressman Salapida K. Pendatun and fourteen other congressmen in their capacity as
members of the Special Committee created by House Resolution No. 59. He asked for
annulment of such Resolution on the ground of infringenment of his parliamentary immunity; he
also asked, principally, that said members of the special committee be enjoined from
proceeding in accordance with it, particularly the portion authorizing them to require him to
substantiate his charges against the President with the admonition that if he failed to do so, he
must show cause why the House should not punish him.
The petition attached a copy of House Resolution No. 59, the pertinent portions of which reads
as follows:
WHEREAS, on the 23rd day of June, 1960 , the Honorable Sergio Osmea, Jr., Member
of the House of Representatives from the Second District of the province of Cebu, took
the floor of this chamber on the one hour privilege to deliver a speech, entitled 'A
Message to Garcia;
WHEREAS, in the course of said speech, the Congressman from the Second District of
Cebu stated the following:.
xxx xxx xxx
The people, Mr. President, have been hearing of ugly reports that under your unpopular
administration the free things they used to get from the government are now for sale at
premium prices. They say that even pardons are for sale, and that regardless of the
gravity or seriousness of a criminal case, the culprit can always be bailed out forever
from jail as long as he can come across with a handsome dole. I am afraid, such an
anomalous situation would reflect badly on the kind of justice that your administration is
dispensing. . . . .
WHEREAS, the charges of the gentleman from the Second District of Cebu, if made
maliciously or recklessly and without basis in truth and in fact, would constitute a serious
assault upon the dignity and prestige of the Office of 37 3 the President, which is the one
visible symbol of the sovereignty of the Filipino people, and would expose said office to
contempt and disrepute; . . . .
Resolved by the House of Representative, that a special committee of fifteen Members
to be appointed by the Speaker be, and the same hereby is, created to investigate the
truth of the charges against the President of the Philippines made by Honorable Sergio
Osmea, Jr., in his privilege speech of June 223, 1960, and for such purpose it is
authorized to summon Honorable Sergio Osmea, jr., to appear before it to substantiate
his charges, as well as to issue subpoena and/or subpoena duces tecum to require the
attendance of witnesses and/or the production of pertinent papers before it, and if
Honorable Sergio Osmea, Jr., fails to do so to require him to show cause why he
should not be punished by the House. The special committee shall submit to the House
a report of its findings and recommendations before the adjournment of the present
special session of the Congress of the Philippines.
In support of his request, Congressman Osmea alleged; first, the Resolution violated his
constitutional absolute parliamentary immunity for speeches delivered in the House; second, his
words constituted no actionable conduct; and third, after his allegedly objectionable speech and
words, the House took up other business, and Rule XVII, sec. 7 of the Rules of House provides
that if other business has intervened after the member had uttered obnoxious words in
debate, he shall not be held to answer therefor nor be subject to censure by the House.
Although some members of the court expressed doubts of petitioner's cause of action and the
Court's jurisdiction, the majority decided to hear the matter further, and required respondents to
answer, without issuing any preliminary injunction. Evidently aware of such circumstance with its
implications, and pressed for time in view of the imminent adjournment of the legislative
session, the special committee continued to perform its talk, and after giving Congressman
Osmea a chance to defend himself, submitted its reports on July 18, 1960, finding said
congressman guilty of serious disorderly behaviour; and acting on such report, the House
approved on the same daybefore closing its sessionHouse Resolution No. 175, declaring
him guilty as recommended, and suspending him from office for fifteen months.
Thereafter, on July 19, 1960, the respondents (with the exception of Congressmen De Pio,
Abeleda, San Andres Ziga, Fernandez and Balatao)
1
filed their answer, challenged the
jurisdiction of this Court to entertain the petition, defended the power of Congress to discipline
its members with suspension, upheld a House Resolution No. 175 and then invited attention to
the fact that Congress having ended its session on July 18, 1960, the Committeewhose
members are the sole respondentshad thereby ceased to exist.
There is no question that Congressman Osmea, in a privilege speech delivered before the
House, made the serious imputations of bribery against the President which are quoted in
Resolution No. 59 and that he refused to produce before the House Committee created for the
purpose, evidence to substantiate such imputations. There is also no question that for having
made the imputations and for failing to produce evidence in support thereof, he was, by
resolution of the House, suspended from office for a period of fifteen months for serious
disorderly behaviour.
Resolution No. 175 states in part:
WHEREAS, the Special Committee created under and by virtue of Resolution No. 59,
adopted on July 8, 1960, found Representative Sergio Osmea, Jr., guilty of serious
disorderly behaviour for making without basis in truth and in fact, scurrilous, malicious,
reckless and irresponsible charges against the President of the Philippines in his
privilege speech of June 23, 1960; and
WHEREAS, the said charges are so vile in character that they affronted and degraded
the dignity of the House of Representative: Now, Therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Representatives. That Representative Sergio Osmea, Jr.,
be, as he hereby is, declared guilty of serious disorderly behaviour; and . . .
As previously stated, Osmea contended in his petition that: (1) the Constitution gave him
complete parliamentary immunity, and so, for words spoken in the House, he ought not to be
questioned; (20 that his speech constituted no disorderly behaviour for which he could be
punished; and (3) supposing he could be questioned and discipline therefor, the House had lost
the power to do so because it had taken up other business before approving House Resolution
No. 59. Now, he takes the additional position (4) that the House has no power, under the
Constitution, to suspend one of its members.
Section 15, Article VI of our Constitution provides that "for any speech or debate" in Congress,
the Senators or Members of the House of Representative "shall not be questioned in any other
place." This section was taken or is a copy of sec. 6, clause 1 of Art. 1 of the Constitution of the
United States. In that country, the provision has always been understood to mean that although
exempt from prosecution or civil actions for their words uttered in Congress, the members of
Congress may, nevertheless, be questioned in Congress itself. Observe that "they shall not be
questioned in any other place" than Congress.
Furthermore, the Rules of the House which petitioner himself has invoked (Rule XVII, sec. 7),
recognize the House's power to hold a member responsible "for words spoken in debate."
Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a fundamental privilege cherished
in every legislative assembly of the democratic world. As old as the English Parliament, its
purpose "is to enable and encourage a representative of the public to discharge his public trust
with firmness and success" for "it is indispensably necessary that he should enjoy the fullest
liberty of speech, and that he should be protected from the resentment of every one, however
powerful, to whom exercise of that liberty may occasion offense."
2
Such immunity has come to
this country from the practices of Parliamentary as construed and applied by the Congress of
the United States. Its extent and application remain no longer in doubt in so far as related to the
question before us. It guarantees the legislator complete freedom of expression without fear of
being made responsible in criminal or civil actions before the courts or any other
forum outside of the Congressional Hall. But is does not protect him from responsibility before
the legislative body itself whenever his words and conduct are considered by the latter
disorderly or unbecoming a member thereof. In the United States Congress, Congressman
Fernando Wood of New York was censured for using the following language on the floor of the
House: "A monstrosity, a measure the most infamous of the many infamous acts of the
infamous Congress." (Hinds' Precedents, Vol. 2,. pp. 798-799). Two other congressmen were
censured for employing insulting words during debate. (2 Hinds' Precedents, 799-801). In one
case, a member of Congress was summoned to testify on a statement made by him in debate,
but invoked his parliamentary privilege. The Committee rejected his plea. (3 Hinds' Precedents
123-124.)
For unparliamentary conduct, members of Parliament or of Congress have been, or could be
censured, committed to prison
3
, even expelled by the votes of their colleagues. The appendix to
this decision amply attest to the consensus of informed opinion regarding the practice and the
traditional power of legislative assemblies to take disciplinary action against its
members, including imprisonment, suspension or expulsion. It mentions one instance of
suspension of a legislator in a foreign country.
And to cite a local illustration, the Philippine Senate, in April 1949, suspended a senator for one
year.
Needless to add, the Rules of Philippine House of Representatives provide that the
parliamentary practices of the Congress of the United States shall apply in a supplementary
manner to its proceedings.
This brings up the third point of petitioner: the House may no longer take action against me, he
argues, because after my speech, and before approving Resolution No. 59, it had taken up
other business. Respondents answer that Resolution No. 59 was unanimously approved by the
House, that such approval amounted to a suspension of the House Rules, which according to
standard parliamentary practice may done by unanimous consent.
Granted, counters the petitioner, that the House may suspended the operation of its Rules, it
may not, however, affect past acts or renew its rights to take action which had already lapsed.
The situation might thus be compared to laws
4
extending the period of limitation of actions and
making them applicable to actions that had lapsed. The Supreme Court of the United States has
upheld such laws as against the contention that they impaired vested rights in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment (Campbell vs. Holt, 115 U. S. 620). The states hold divergent views. At
any rate, court are subject to revocation modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body
adopting them."
5
And it has been said that "Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with
their observancem, the courts have no concern. They may be waived or disregarded by the
legislative body." Consequently, "mere failure to conform to parliamentary usage will not
invalidate the action (taken by a deliberative body) when the requisited number of members
have agreed to a particular measure."
6

The following is quoted from a reported decision of the Supreme court of Tennessee:
The rule here invoked is one of parliamentary procedure, and it is uniformly held that it is
within the power of all deliberative bodies to abolish, modify, or waive their own rules of
procedure, adopted for the orderly con duct of business, and as security against hasty
action. (Bennet vs. New Bedford, 110 Mass, 433; Holt vs.Somerville, 127 Mass. 408,
411; City of Sadalia vs. Scott, 104 Mo. App. 595, 78 S. W. 276; Ex parte Mayor, etc., of
Albany, 23 Wend. [N. Y.] 277, 280; Wheelock vs. City of Lowell, 196 Mass. 220, 230. 81
N. e. 977, 124 Am. St. Rep. 543, 12 Ann. Cas. 1109; City of Corinth vs. Sharp, 107 Miss.
696, 65 So. 888; McGraw vs.Whitson, 69 Iowa, 348, 28 N. W. 632; Tuell vs. Meacham
Contracting Co. 145 Ky. 181, 186, 140 S. W. Ann. Cas. 1913B, 802.) [Takenfrom the
case of Rutherford vs. City of Nashville, 78 south Western Reporter, p. 584.]
It may be noted in this connection, that in the case of Congressman Stanbery of Ohio, who
insulted the Speaker, for which Act a resolution of censure was presented, the House approved
the resolution, despite the argument that other business had intervened after the objectionable
remarks. (2 Hinds' Precedents pp. 799-800.)
On the question whether delivery of speeches attacking the Chief Executive constitutes
disorderly conduct for which Osmea may be discipline, many arguments pro and con have
been advanced. We believe, however, that the House is the judge of what constitutes disorderly
behaviour, not only because the Constitution has conferred jurisdiction upon it, but also because
the matter depends mainly on factual circumstances of which the House knows best but which
can not be depicted in black and white for presentation to, and adjudication by the Courts. For
one thing, if this Court assumed the power to determine whether Osmea conduct constituted
disorderly behaviour, it would thereby have assumed appellate jurisdiction, which the
Constitution never intended to confer upon a coordinate branch of the Government. The theory
of separation of powers fastidiously observed by this Court, demands in such situation a prudent
refusal to interfere. Each department, it has been said, had exclusive cognizance of matters
within its jurisdiction and is supreme within its own sphere. (Angara vs. Electoral Commission,
63 Phil., 139.)
SEC. 200. Judicial Interference with Legislature. The principle is well established that
the courts will not assume a jurisdiction in any case amount to an interference by the
judicial department with the legislature since each department is equally independent
within the power conferred upon it by the Constitution. . . . .
The general rule has been applied in other cases to cause the courts to refuse to
intervene in what are exclusively legislative functions. Thus, where the stated Senate is
given the power to example a member, the court will not review its action or revise even
a most arbitrary or unfair decision. (11 Am. Jur., Const. Law, sec. p. 902.) [Emphasis
Ours.].
The above statement of American law merely abridged the landmark case of Clifford vs.
French.
7
In 1905, several senators who had been expelled by the State Senate of California for
having taken a bribe, filed mandamus proceeding to compel reinstatement, alleging the Senate
had given them no hearing, nor a chance to make defense, besides falsity of the charges of
bribery. The Supreme Court of California declined to interfere , explaining in orthodox juristic
language:
Under our form of government, the judicial department has no power to revise even the
most arbitrary and unfair action of the legislative department, or of either house thereof,
taking in pursuance of the power committed exclusively to that department by the
Constitution. It has been held by high authority that, even in the absence of an express
provision conferring the power, every legislative body in which is vested the general
legislative power of the state has the implied power to expel a member for any cause
which it may deem sufficient. In Hiss. vs. Barlett, 3 Gray 473, 63 Am. Dec. 768, the
supreme court of Mass. says, in substance, that this power is inherent in every
legislative body; that it is necessary to the to enable the body 'to perform its high
functions, and is necessary to the safety of the state;' 'That it is a power of self-
protection, and that the legislative body must necessarily be the sole judge of the
exigency which may justify and require its exercise. '. . . There is no provision authority
courts to control, direct, supervise, or forbid the exercise by either house of the power to
expel a member. These powers are functions of the legislative department and
therefore, in the exercise of the power this committed to it, the senate is supreme. An
attempt by this court to direct or control the legislature, or either house thereof, in the
exercise of the power, would be an attempt to exercise legislative functions, which it is
expressly forbidden to do.
We have underscored in the above quotation those lines which in our opinion emphasize the
principles controlling this litigation. Although referring to expulsion, they may as well be applied
to other disciplinary action. Their gist as applied to the case at bar: the House has exclusive
power; the courts have no jurisdiction to interfere.
Our refusal to intervene might impress some readers as subconscious hesitation due to
discovery of impermissible course of action in the legislative chamber. Nothing of that sort: we
merely refuse to disregard the allocation of constitutional functions which it is our special duty to
maintain. Indeed, in the interest of comity, we feel bound to state that in a conscientious survey
of governing principles and/or episodic illustrations, we found the House of Representatives of
the United States taking the position upon at least two occasions, that personal attacks upon the
Chief Executive constitute unparliamentary conduct or breach of orders.
8
And in several
instances, it took action against offenders, even after other business had been considered.
9

Petitioner's principal argument against the House's power to suspend is the Alejandrino
precedent. In 1924, Senator Alejandrino was, by resolution of Senate, suspended from office for
12 months because he had assaulted another member of the that Body or certain phrases the
latter had uttered in the course of a debate. The Senator applied to this Court for reinstatement,
challenging the validity of the resolution. Although this Court held that in view of the separation
of powers, it had no jurisdiction to compel the Senate to reinstate petitioner, it nevertheless went
on to say the Senate had no power to adopt the resolution because suspension for 12 months
amounted to removal, and the Jones Law (under which the Senate was then functioning) gave
the Senate no power to remove an appointive member, like Senator Alejandrino. The Jones
Law specifically provided that "each house may punish its members for disorderly behaviour,
and, with the concurrence of two-thirds votes, expel an elective member (sec. 18). Note
particularly the word "elective."
The Jones Law, it mist be observed, empowered the Governor General to appoint "without
consent of the Senate and without restriction as to residence senators . . . who will, in his
opinion, best represent the Twelfth District." Alejandrino was one appointive Senator.
It is true, the opinion in that case contained an obiter dictum that "suspension deprives the
electoral district of representation without that district being afforded any means by which to fill
that vacancy." But that remark should be understood to refer particularly to
the appointive senator who was then the affected party and who was by the same Jones Law
charged with the duty to represent the Twelfth District and maybe the view of the Government of
the United States or of the Governor-General, who had appointed him.
It must be observed, however, that at that time the Legislature had only those power which were
granted to it by the Jones Law
10
; whereas now the Congress has the full legislative powers and
preprogatives of a sovereign nation, except as restricted by the Constitution. In other words, in
the Alejandrino case, the Court reached the conclusion that the Jones Law did not give the
Senate the power it then exercisedthe power of suspension for one year. Whereas now, as
we find, the Congress has the inherent legislative prerogative of suspension
11
which the
Constitution did not impair. In fact, as already pointed out, the Philippine Senate suspended a
Senator for 12 months in 1949.
The Legislative power of the Philippine Congress is plenary, subject only to such
limitations are found in the Republic's Constitution. So that any power deemed to be
legislative by usage or tradition, is necessarily possessed by the Philippine Congress,
unless the Constitution provides otherwise. (Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil., 192, 212 .)
In any event, petitioner's argument as to the deprivation of the district's representation can not
be more weightly in the matter of suspension than in the case of imprisonment of a legislator;
yet deliberative bodies have the power in proper cases, to commit one of their members to jail.
12

Now come questions of procedure and jurisdiction. the petition intended to prevent the Special
Committee from acting tin pursuance of House Resolution No. 59. Because no preliminary
injunction had been issued, the Committee performed its task, reported to the House, and the
latter approved the suspension order. The House had closed it session, and the Committee has
ceased to exist as such. It would seem, therefore, the case should be dismissed for having
become moot or academic.
13
Of course, there is nothing to prevent petitioner from filing new
pleadings to include all members of the House as respondents, ask for reinstatement and
thereby to present a justiciable cause. Most probable outcome of such reformed suit, however,
will be a pronouncement of lack of jurisdiction, as in Vera vs. Avelino
14
and Alejandrino vs.
Qeuaon.
15

At any rate, having perceived suitable solutions to the important questions of political law, the
Court thought it proper to express at this time its conclusions on such issues as were deemed
relevant and decisive.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition has to be, and is hereby dismissed. So ordered.
Paras, C. J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Barrera, Gutierrez David, Paredes, and Dizon,
JJ., concur.


Separate Opinions
REYES, J. B. L., J ., dissenting:
I concur with the majority that the petition filed by Congressman Osmea, Jr. does not make out
a case either for declaratory judgment or certiorari, since this Court has no original jurisdiction
over declaratory judgment proceedings, and certiorari is available only against bodies exercising
judicial or quasi-judicial powers. The respondent committee, being merely fact finding, was not
properly subject to certiorari.
I submit, however, that Congressman Osmea was entitled to invoke the Court's jurisdiction on
his petition for a writ of prohibition against the committee, in so far as House Resolution No. 59
(and its sequel, Resolution No. 175) constituted an unlawful attempt to divest him of an
immunity from censure or punishment, an immunity vested under the very Rules of the House of
Representatives.
House Rule XVII, on Decorum and Debates, in its section V, provides as follows:
If it is requested that a Member be called to order for words spoken in debate, the
Member making such request shall indicate the words excepted to, and they shall be
taken down in writing by the Secretary and read aloud to the House; but the Member
who uttered them shall not be held to answer, nor be subject to the censure of the
House therefor, if further debate or other business has intervened.
Now, it is not disputed that after Congressman Osmea had delivered his speech and before
the House adopted, fifteen days later, the resolution (No. 59) creating the respondent
Committee and empowering it to investigate and recommend proper action in the case, the
House had acted on other matters and debated them. That being the case, the Congressman,
even before the resolution was adopted, had ceased to be answerable for the words uttered by
him in his privilege speech. By the express wording of the Rules, he was no longer subject to
censure or disciplinary action by the House. Hence, the resolution, in so far as it attempts to
divest him of the immunity so acquired and subject him to discipline and punishment, when he
was previously not so subject, violates the constitutional inhibition against ex post
facto legislation, and Resolution Nos. 59 and 175 are legally obnoxious and invalid on that
score. The rule is well established that a law which deprives an accused person of any
substantial right or immunity possessed by him before its passage is ex post facto as to prior
offenses (Cor. Jur. vol. 16-A, section 144, p. 153; People vs. Mc Donnell, 11 Fed. Supp. 1015;
People vs. Talklington, 47 Pac. 2d 368; U. S. vs.Garfinkel, 69 F. Supp. 849).
The foregoing also answer the contention that since the immunity was but an effect of section 7
of House Rule XVII, the House could, at any time, remove it by amending those Rules, and
Resolutions Nos. 59 and 175 effected such an amendment by implication. the right of the House
to amend its Rules does not carry with it the right to retroactive divest the petitioner of an
immunity he had already acquired. The Bill of Rights is against it.
It is contended that as the liability for his speech attached when the Congressman delivered it,
the subsequent action of the House only affected the procedure for dealing with that liability. But
whatever liability Congressman Sergio Osmea, Jr. then incurred was extinguished when the
House thereafter considered other business; and this extinction is a substantive right that can
not be subsequently torn away to his disadvantage. On an analogous issue, this Court,
in People vs. Parel, 44 Phil., 437 has ruled:
In regards to the point that the subject of prescription of penalties and of penal actions
pertains to remedial and not substantive law, it is to be observed that in the Spanish
legal system, provisions for limitation or prescription of actions are invariably classified
as substantive and not as remedial law; we thus find the provisions for the prescription of
criminal actions in the Penal Code and not in the 'Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal.' This
is in reality a more logical law. In criminal cases prescription is not, strictly speaking, a
matter of procedure; it bars or cuts off the right to punish the crime and consequently,
goes directly to the substance of the action. . . . (Emphasis supplied.).
I see no substantial difference, from the standpoint of the constitutional prohibition against ex
post facto laws, that the objectionable measures happen to be House Resolutions and not
statutes. In so far as the position of petitioner Osmea is concerned, the essential point is that
he is being subjected to a punishment to which he was formerly not amenable. And while he
was only meted out a suspension of privileges that suspension is as much a penalty as
imprisonment or a fine, which the House could have inflicted upon him had it been so minded.
Such punitive action is violative of the spirit, if not of the letter, of the constitutional provision
against ex post factolegislation. Nor is it material that the punishment was inflicted in the
exercise of disciplinary power. "The ex post facto effect of a law," the Federal Supreme Court
has ruled, "can not be evaded by giving civil form to that which is essentially criminal"
(Burgess vs. Salmon, 97 L. Ed. [U. S.] 1104, 1106; Cummings vs. MIssouri, 18 L. Ed. 276).
The plain purpose of the immunity provided by the House rules is to protect the freedom of
action of its members and to relieve them from the fear of disciplinary action taken upon second
thought, as a result of political convenience, vindictiveness, or pressures. it is unrealistic to
overlook that, without the immunity so provided, no member of Congress can remain free from
the haunting fear that his most innocuous expressions may at any time afterwards place him in
jeopardy of punishment whenever a majority, however transient, should feel that the shifting
sands of political expediency so demand. A rule designed to assure that members of the House
of the House may freely act as their conscience and sense of duty should dictate complements
the parliamentary immunity from outside pressure enshrined in our Constitution, and is certainly
deserving of liberal interpretation and application.
The various precedents, cited in the majority opinion, as instances of disciplinary taken
notwithstanding intervening business, are not truly applicable. Of the five instances cited by
Deschkler (in his edition of Jefferson's Manual), the case of Congressman Watson of Georgia
involved also printed disparaging remarks by the respondent (III Hinds' Precedents, sec. 2637),
so that the debate immunity rule afforded no defense; that of Congressmen Weaver and Sparks
was one of censure for actual disorderly conduct (II Hinds, sec. 1657); while the cases of
Congressmen Stanbery of Ohio, Alex Long of Ohio, and of Lovell Rousseau of Kentucky (II
Hinds, sec. 1248, 1252 and 1655) were decided under Rule 62 of the U. s. House of
Representatives as it stood before the 1880 amendments, and was differently worded. Thus, in
the Rousseau case, the ruling of Speaker Colfax was to the following effect (II Hinds'
Precedents, page 1131):
This sixty-second rule is divided in the middle a semicolon, and the Chair asks the
attention of the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Wilson) top the language of that rule, as it
settles the whole question:
62. If a Member be called to order for words spoken in debate, the person calling him to
be order shall repeat the words excerpted to
That is, the "calling to order" is "excepting" to words spoken in debate "and they shall be
taken done in writing at the Clerk's table; and no Member shall be held to answer, or be
subject to the censure of the House, for words spoken, or other business has intervened,
after the words spoken, and before exception to them shall have been taken.
The first part of this rule declares that "calling to order" is "excepting to words spoken in
debate." the second part of the rule declares that a Member shall not be held subject to
censure for words spoken in debate if other business has intervened after the words
have been spoken and before "exception" to them has been taken. Exception to the
words of the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Grinnell) was taken by the gentleman from Illinois
(Mr. Harding), the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Banks), the gentleman from
Kentucky (Mr. Rosseau), and also by the Speaker of the House, as the records of the
Congressional Globe will show. The distinction is obvious between the two parts of the
rule. In the first part it speaks of a Member excepting to language of another and having
the words taken down. In the last part of the rule it says he shall not be censured
thereafter unless exception to his words were taken; but it omits to add as an condition
that words must also have been taken down. The substantial point, indeed the only
point, required in the latter part of the rule is, that exception to the objectionable words
must have taken.
The difference between the Rules as invoked in these cases and the Rules of our House of
Representatives is easily apparent. As Rule 62 of the United States House of Representatives
stood before 1880, all that was required to preserve the disciplinary power of the Hose was
that exception should have been taken to the remarks on the floor before further debate or other
business intervened. Under the rules of the Philippines House of Representatives, however, the
immunity becomes absolute if other debate or business has taken place before the motion for
censure is made, whether or not exceptions or point of order have been made to the remarks
complained of at the time they were uttered.
While it is clear that the parliamentary immunity established in Article VI, section 15 of our
Constitution does not bar the members being questioned and disciplined by Congress itself fro
remarks made on the floor, that disciplinary power does not, as I have noted, include the right to
retroactively amend the rules so as to divest a member of an immunity already gained. And if
Courts can shield an ordinary citizen from the effects of ex post facto legislation, I see no reason
why a member of Congress should be deprived of the same protection. Surely membership in
the Legislature does not mean forfeiture of the liberties enjoyed by the individual citizen.
The Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings. If may not
by its rules ignore constitutional restraint or violate fundamental rights and there should
be a reasonable relation between the mode or method of proceeding established by the
rule and the result which is sought to be attained. But within these limitation all matters
of method are open to the determination of the House, and it is no impeachment of the
rule to say that some other way would be better, more accurate or even more just. (U.
S. vs. Ballin, Joseph & Co., 36 Law Ed., 324-325.)
Court will not interfere with the action of the state senate in reconsideration its vote on a
resolution submitting an amendment to the Constitution, where its action was in
compliance with its own rules, and there was no constitutional provision to the contrary.
(Crawford vs. Gilchrist, 64 Fla. 41, 59 So. 963) (Emphasis supplied.).
Finally, that this Court possesses no power to direct or compel the Legislature to act in any
specified manner, should not deter it from recognizing and declaring the unconstitutionality and
nullify of the questioned resolutions and of all action that has been disbanded after the case was
filed, the basic issues remain so important as to require adjudication by this Court.


LABRADOR, J ., dissenting:
I fully concur in the above dissent Mr. Justice J. B. L. Reyes, Reyes, and I venture to add:
Within a constitutional government and in a regime which purports to be one of law, where law
is supreme, even the Congress in the exercise of the power conferred upon it to discipline its
members, must follow the rules and regulation that it had itself promulgated for its guidance and
for that of its members. The rules in force at the time Congressman Osmea delivered the
speech declared by the House to constitutes a disorderly conduct provides:
. . . but the Member who uttered them shall not be held to answer, nor be subject to the
censure of the House therefor, if further debate or other business has intervened. (Rule
XVII, Sec. 7, Rules, House of Representatives.)
Congressman Osmea delivered the speech in question on June 23, 1960. It was only on July
8, or 15 days after June 23, 1060 when the House created the committee that would
investigated him. For fully 15 days the House took up other matters. All that was done, while the
speech was being delivered, was to have certains portions thereof deleted. I hold that pursuant
to its own Rules the House may no longer punish Congressman Osmea for the delivered
fifteen days before.
The fact that no action was promptly taken to punish Congressman Osmea immediately after
its delivery, except to have some part of the speech deleted, show that the members of the
House did not consider Osmea's speech a disorderly conduct. The idea to punish
Congressman Osmea, which came 15 days after, was, therefore, an afterthought. It is,
therefore, clear that Congressman Osmea is being made to answer for an act, after the time
during which he could be punished therefor had lapsed.
The majority opinion holds that the House can amend its rules any time. We do not dispute this
principle, but we hold that the House may not do so in utter disregard of the fundamental
principle of law that an amendment takes place only after its approval, or, as in this case, to the
extent of punishing an offense after the time to punishing an had elapsed. Since the rule, that a
member can be punished only before other proceedings have intervened, was in force at the
time Congressman Osmea delivered his speech, the House may not ignore said rule. It is said
in the majority opinion that the rule limiting the period for imposition of a penalty for a speech to
the day it was made, is merely one of procedure. With due respect to the majority, we do not
think that it is merely a rule of procedure; we believe it actually is a limitation of the time in which
the House may take punitive action against an offending member; it is alienation (in reference to
time) on the liability to punishment. As Mr. Justice J.B.L., Reyes points out, the rule is
substantive, not merely a procedural principle, and may not be ignored when invoked.
If this Government of laws and not of men, then the House should observe its own rule and not
violate it by punishing a member after the period for indictment and punishment had already
passed. Not because the subject of the Philippic is no less than the Chief Magistrate of the
nation should the rule of the House be ignored by itself. It is true that our Government is based
on the principle of separation of powers between the three branches thereof. I also agree to the
corollary proposition that this Court should not interfere with the legislature in the manner it
performs its functions; but I also hold that the Court cannot abandon its duty to pronounce what
the law is when any of its (the House) members, or any humble citizen, invokes the law.
Congressman Osmea had invoked the protection of a rule of the House. I believe it is our
bounden duty to state what the rule being invoked by him is, to point out the fact that the rule is
being violated in meting out punishment for his speech; we should not shirk our responsibility to
declare his rights under the rule simply on the board excuse of separation of powers. Even the
legislature may not ignore the rule it has promulgated for the government of the conduct of its
members, and the fact that a coordinate branches of the Government is involved, should not
deter us from performing our duty. We may not possess the power to enforce our opinion if the
House chooses to disregard the same. In such case the members thereof stand before the bar
of public opinion to answer for their act in ignoring what they themselves have approved as their
norm of conduct.
Let it be clearly understood that the writer of this dissent personally believe that vitreous attacks
against the Chief Executive, or any official or citizen for that matter, should be condemned. But
where the Rules, promulgated by the House itself, fix the period during which punishment may
be meted out, said Rules should be enforced regardless of who may be prejudicated thereby.
Only in that way may the supermacy of the law be maintained.


Footnotes
1
These, except Congressman Abeleda, share the views of petitioner.
2
Tenney vs. Brandhove, 341 U. S. 367.
3
Kilbourn vs. Thompson, 103 U. S. 189; Hiss. vs. Barlett & Gray. 468, 63 Am. Dec. 768,
770.
4
Rules of the House not the force of law, but they are merely in the nature of by-laws
prescribed for the orderly and convenient conduct of their own proceedings. (67 Corpus
Juris Secundum, p. 870)
5
Corpus Juris Secumdum, p. 870.
6
South Georgia Power vs. Bauman, 169 Ga. 649; 151 s. w. 515.
7
146 Cal. 604; 69 L. R. A. 556.
8
Canno's Precedents (1936) par. 2497) William Willet, Jr. of New York); par. 2498
(Louis v. Mc Fadden of Pensylvania).
9
Constitution, Jefferson's Manual and the House of Representative by Louis Deschler
(1955) p. 382.
10
the Jones Law placed "in the hands of the people of the Philippines as large a control
of their domestic affairs as can be given them, without in the meantime impairing the
rights of sovereignty by the people of the United States." (Preamble)
11
Apart from the view that power to remove includes the power to suspend asan
incident. (Burnap vs. U. s. 252, U. S. 512, 64 L. Ed. 693, 695.) This view is
distinguishable from Hebron vs. Reyes, 104 Phil., 175.(See Gregory vs. Mayor, 21 N. E.
120) But we need not explain this now. Enough to rely on congressional inherent power.
12
See appendix par. VII, Cushing.
13
This, apart from doubts on (a) our jurisdiction to entertain original petitions for
declaratory judgments, and (b) availability of certiorari or prohibition against respondents
who are not exercising judicial or ministerial functions (Rule 67, sec. 1 and 2).
14
See supra.
15
Phil., 83.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-17931 February 28, 1963
CASCO PHILIPPINE CHEMICAL CO., INC., petitioner,
vs.
HON. PEDRO GIMENEZ, in his capacity as Auditor General of the Philippines,
and HON. ISMAEL MATHAY, in his capacity as Auditor of the Central Bank, respondents.
Jalandoni & Jamir for petitioner.
Officer of the Solicitor General for respondents.
CONCEPCION, J .:
This is a petition for review of a decision of the Auditor General denying a claim for refund of
petitioner Casco Philippine Chemical Co., Inc.
The main facts are not disputed. Pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 2609, otherwise
known as the Foreign Exchange Margin Fee Law, the Central Bank of the Philippines issued on
July 1, 1959, its Circular No. 95. fixing a uniform margin fee of 25% on foreign exchange
transactions. To supplement the circular, the Bank later promulgated a memorandum
establishing the procedure for applications for exemption from the payment of said fee, as
provided in said Republic Act No. 2609. Several times in November and December 1959,
petitioner Casco Philippine Chemical Co., Inc. which is engaged in the manufacture of
synthetic resin glues, used in bonding lumber and veneer by plywood and hardwood producers
bought foreign exchange for the importation of urea and formaldehyde which are the main
raw materials in the production of said glues and paid therefor the aforementioned margin fee
aggregating P33,765.42. In May, 1960, petitioner made another purchase of foreign exchange
and paid the sum of P6,345.72 as margin fee therefor.
Prior thereto, petitioner had sought the refund of the first sum of P33,765.42, relying upon
Resolution No. 1529 of the Monetary Board of said Bank, dated November 3, 1959, declaring
that the separate importation of urea and formaldehyde is exempt from said fee. Soon after the
last importation of these products, petitioner made a similar request for refund of the sum of
P6,345.72 paid as margin fee therefor. Although the Central Bank issued the corresponding
margin fee vouchers for the refund of said amounts, the Auditor of the Bank refused to pass in
audit and approve said vouchers, upon the ground that the exemption granted by the Monetary
Board for petitioner's separate importations of urea and formaldehyde is not in accord with the
provisions of section 2, paragraph XVIII of Republic Act No. 2609. On appeal taken by
petitioner, the Auditor General subsequently affirmed said action of the Auditor of the Bank.
Hence, this petition for review.
The only question for determination in this case is whether or not "urea" and "formaldehyde" are
exempt by law from the payment of the aforesaid margin fee. The pertinent portion of Section 2
of Republic Act No. 2609 reads:
The margin established by the Monetary Board pursuant to the provision of section one
hereof shall not be imposed upon the sale of foreign exchange for the importation of the
following:.
x x x x x x x x x
XVIII. Urea formaldehyde for the manufacture of plywood and hardboard when imported
by and for the exclusive use of end-users.
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be
admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties
adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of
facts. 1wph1.t
Petitioner maintains that the term "urea formaldehyde" appearing in this provision should be
construed as "ureaand formaldehyde" (emphasis supplied) and that respondents herein, the
Auditor General and the Auditor of the Central Bank, have erred in holding otherwise. In this
connection, it should be noted that, whereas "urea" and "formaldehyde" are the principal raw
materials in the manufacture of synthetic resin glues, the National Institute of Science and
Technology has expressed, through its Commissioner, the view that:
Urea formaldehyde is not a chemical solution. It is the synthetic resin formed as a
condensation product from definite proportions of urea and formaldehyde under certain
conditions relating to temperature, acidity, and time of reaction. This produce when
applied in water solution and extended with inexpensive fillers constitutes a fairly low
cost adhesive for use in the manufacture of plywood.
Hence, "urea formaldehyde" is clearly a finished product, which is patently distinct and different
from urea" and "formaldehyde", as separate articles used in the manufacture of the synthetic
resin known as "urea formaldehyde". Petitioner contends, however, that the bill approved in
Congress contained the copulative conjunction "and" between the terms "urea" and
"formaldehyde", and that the members of Congress intended to exempt "urea" and
"formaldehyde" separately as essential elements in the manufacture of the synthetic resin glue
called "urea" formaldehyde", not the latter as a finished product, citing in support of this view the
statements made on the floor of the Senate, during the consideration of the bill before said
House, by members thereof. But, said individual statements do not necessarily reflect the view
of the Senate. Much less do they indicate the intent of the House of Representatives (see Song
Kiat Chocolate Factory vs. Central Bank, 54 Off. Gaz., 615; Mayon Motors Inc. vs. Acting
Commissioner of Internal Revenue, L-15000 [March 29, 1961]; Manila Jockey Club, Inc. vs.
Games & Amusement Board, L-12727 [February 29, 1960]). Furthermore, it is well settled that
the enrolled bill which uses the term "urea formaldehyde" instead of "urea and formaldehyde"
is conclusive upon the courts as regards the tenor of the measure passed by Congress and
approved by the President (Primicias vs. Paredes, 61 Phil. 118, 120; Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito,
78 Phil. 1; Macias vs. Comm. on Elections, L-18684, September 14, 1961). If there has been
any mistake in the printing ofthe bill before it was certified by the officers of Congress and
approved by the Executive on which we cannot speculate, without jeopardizing the principle
of separation of powers and undermining one of the cornerstones of our democratic system
the remedy is by amendment or curative legislation, not by judicial decree.
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against the petitioner.
It is so ordered.
Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes, Dizon,
Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-45081 July 15, 1936
JOSE A. ANGARA, petitioner,
vs.
THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION, PEDRO YNSUA, MIGUEL CASTILLO, and DIONISIO C.
MAYOR,respondents.
Godofredo Reyes for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General Hilado for respondent Electoral Commission.
Pedro Ynsua in his own behalf.
No appearance for other respondents.
LAUREL, J .:
This is an original action instituted in this court by the petitioner, Jose A. Angara, for the
issuance of a writ of prohibition to restrain and prohibit the Electoral Commission, one of the
respondents, from taking further cognizance of the protest filed by Pedro Ynsua, another
respondent, against the election of said petitioner as member of the National Assembly for the
first assembly district of the Province of Tayabas.
The facts of this case as they appear in the petition and as admitted by the respondents are as
follows:
(1) That in the elections of September 17, 1935, the petitioner, Jose A. Angara, and the
respondents, Pedro Ynsua, Miguel Castillo and Dionisio Mayor, were candidates voted
for the position of member of the National Assembly for the first district of the Province of
Tayabas;
(2) That on October 7, 1935, the provincial board of canvassers, proclaimed the
petitioner as member-elect of the National Assembly for the said district, for having
received the most number of votes;
(3) That on November 15, 1935, the petitioner took his oath of office;
(4) That on December 3, 1935, the National Assembly in session assembled, passed the
following resolution:
[No. 8]
RESOLUCION CONFIRMANDO LAS ACTAS DE AQUELLOS
DIPUTADOS CONTRA QUIENES NO SE HA PRESENTADO
PROTESTA.
Se resuelve: Que las actas de eleccion de los Diputados contra quienes
no se hubiere presentado debidamente una protesta antes de la
adopcion de la presente resolucion sean, como por la presente, son
aprobadas y confirmadas.
Adoptada, 3 de diciembre, 1935.
(5) That on December 8, 1935, the herein respondent Pedro Ynsua filed before the
Electoral Commission a "Motion of Protest" against the election of the herein petitioner,
Jose A. Angara, being the only protest filed after the passage of Resolutions No. 8
aforequoted, and praying, among other-things, that said respondent be declared elected
member of the National Assembly for the first district of Tayabas, or that the election of
said position be nullified;
(6) That on December 9, 1935, the Electoral Commission adopted a resolution,
paragraph 6 of which provides:
6. La Comision no considerara ninguna protesta que no se haya presentado en o
antes de este dia.
(7) That on December 20, 1935, the herein petitioner, Jose A. Angara, one of the
respondents in the aforesaid protest, filed before the Electoral Commission a "Motion to
Dismiss the Protest", alleging (a) that Resolution No. 8 of Dismiss the Protest", alleging
(a) that Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly was adopted in the legitimate
exercise of its constitutional prerogative to prescribe the period during which protests
against the election of its members should be presented; (b) that the aforesaid resolution
has for its object, and is the accepted formula for, the limitation of said period; and (c)
that the protest in question was filed out of the prescribed period;
(8) That on December 27, 1935, the herein respondent, Pedro Ynsua, filed an "Answer
to the Motion of Dismissal" alleging that there is no legal or constitutional provision
barring the presentation of a protest against the election of a member of the National
Assembly after confirmation;
(9) That on December 31, 1935, the herein petitioner, Jose A. Angara, filed a "Reply" to
the aforesaid "Answer to the Motion of Dismissal";
(10) That the case being submitted for decision, the Electoral Commission promulgated
a resolution on January 23, 1936, denying herein petitioner's "Motion to Dismiss the
Protest."
The application of the petitioner sets forth the following grounds for the issuance of the writ
prayed for:
(a) That the Constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction upon the electoral Commission
solely as regards the merits of contested elections to the National Assembly;
(b) That the Constitution excludes from said jurisdiction the power to regulate the
proceedings of said election contests, which power has been reserved to the Legislative
Department of the Government or the National Assembly;
(c) That like the Supreme Court and other courts created in pursuance of the
Constitution, whose exclusive jurisdiction relates solely to deciding the merits of
controversies submitted to them for decision and to matters involving their internal
organization, the Electoral Commission can regulate its proceedings only if the National
Assembly has not availed of its primary power to so regulate such proceedings;
(d) That Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly is, therefore, valid and should be
respected and obeyed;
(e) That under paragraph 13 of section 1 of the ordinance appended to the Constitution
and paragraph 6 of article 7 of the Tydings-McDuffie Law (No. 127 of the 73rd Congress
of the United States) as well as under section 1 and 3 (should be sections 1 and 2) of
article VIII of the Constitution, this Supreme Court has jurisdiction to pass upon the
fundamental question herein raised because it involves an interpretation of the
Constitution of the Philippines.
On February 25, 1936, the Solicitor-General appeared and filed an answer in behalf of the
respondent Electoral Commission interposing the following special defenses:
(a) That the Electoral Commission has been created by the Constitution as an
instrumentality of the Legislative Department invested with the jurisdiction to decide "all
contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the
National Assembly"; that in adopting its resolution of December 9, 1935, fixing this date
as the last day for the presentation of protests against the election of any member of the
National Assembly, it acted within its jurisdiction and in the legitimate exercise of the
implied powers granted it by the Constitution to adopt the rules and regulations essential
to carry out the power and functions conferred upon the same by the fundamental law;
that in adopting its resolution of January 23, 1936, overruling the motion of the petitioner
to dismiss the election protest in question, and declaring itself with jurisdiction to take
cognizance of said protest, it acted in the legitimate exercise of its quasi-judicial
functions a an instrumentality of the Legislative Department of the Commonwealth
Government, and hence said act is beyond the judicial cognizance or control of the
Supreme Court;
(b) That the resolution of the National Assembly of December 3, 1935, confirming the
election of the members of the National Assembly against whom no protest had thus far
been filed, could not and did not deprive the electoral Commission of its jurisdiction to
take cognizance of election protests filed within the time that might be set by its own
rules:
(c) That the Electoral Commission is a body invested with quasi-judicial functions,
created by the Constitution as an instrumentality of the Legislative Department, and is
not an "inferior tribunal, or corporation, or board, or person" within the purview of section
226 and 516 of the Code of Civil Procedure, against which prohibition would lie.
The respondent Pedro Ynsua, in his turn, appeared and filed an answer in his own behalf on
March 2, 1936, setting forth the following as his special defense:
(a) That at the time of the approval of the rules of the Electoral Commission on
December 9, 1935, there was no existing law fixing the period within which protests
against the election of members of the National Assembly should be filed; that in fixing
December 9, 1935, as the last day for the filing of protests against the election of
members of the National Assembly, the Electoral Commission was exercising a power
impliedly conferred upon it by the Constitution, by reason of its quasi-judicial attributes;
(b) That said respondent presented his motion of protest before the Electoral
Commission on December 9, 1935, the last day fixed by paragraph 6 of the rules of the
said Electoral Commission;
(c) That therefore the Electoral Commission acquired jurisdiction over the protest filed by
said respondent and over the parties thereto, and the resolution of the Electoral
Commission of January 23, 1936, denying petitioner's motion to dismiss said protest was
an act within the jurisdiction of the said commission, and is not reviewable by means of a
writ of prohibition;
(d) That neither the law nor the Constitution requires confirmation by the National
Assembly of the election of its members, and that such confirmation does not operate to
limit the period within which protests should be filed as to deprive the Electoral
Commission of jurisdiction over protest filed subsequent thereto;
(e) That the Electoral Commission is an independent entity created by the Constitution,
endowed with quasi-judicial functions, whose decision are final and unappealable;
( f ) That the electoral Commission, as a constitutional creation, is not an inferior tribunal,
corporation, board or person, within the terms of sections 226 and 516 of the Code of
Civil Procedure; and that neither under the provisions of sections 1 and 2 of article II
(should be article VIII) of the Constitution and paragraph 13 of section 1 of the
Ordinance appended thereto could it be subject in the exercise of its quasi-judicial
functions to a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court;
(g) That paragraph 6 of article 7 of the Tydings-McDuffie Law (No. 127 of the 73rd
Congress of the united States) has no application to the case at bar.
The case was argued before us on March 13, 1936. Before it was submitted for decision, the
petitioner prayed for the issuance of a preliminary writ of injunction against the respondent
Electoral Commission which petition was denied "without passing upon the merits of the case"
by resolution of this court of March 21, 1936.
There was no appearance for the other respondents.
The issues to be decided in the case at bar may be reduced to the following two principal
propositions:
1. Has the Supreme Court jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and the subject
matter of the controversy upon the foregoing related facts, and in the affirmative,
2. Has the said Electoral Commission acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in
assuming to the cognizance of the protest filed the election of the herein petitioner
notwithstanding the previous confirmation of such election by resolution of the National
Assembly?
We could perhaps dispose of this case by passing directly upon the merits of the controversy.
However, the question of jurisdiction having been presented, we do not feel justified in evading
the issue. Being a case prim impressionis, it would hardly be consistent with our sense of duty
to overlook the broader aspect of the question and leave it undecided. Neither would we be
doing justice to the industry and vehemence of counsel were we not to pass upon the question
of jurisdiction squarely presented to our consideration.
The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not
through express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the
government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its
own sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate
and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and independent
of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to
secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government. For example,
the Chief Executive under our Constitution is so far made a check on the legislative power that
this assent is required in the enactment of laws. This, however, is subject to the further check
that a bill may become a law notwithstanding the refusal of the President to approve it, by a vote
of two-thirds or three-fourths, as the case may be, of the National Assembly. The President has
also the right to convene the Assembly in special session whenever he chooses. On the other
hand, the National Assembly operates as a check on the Executive in the sense that its consent
through its Commission on Appointments is necessary in the appointments of certain officers;
and the concurrence of a majority of all its members is essential to the conclusion of treaties.
Furthermore, in its power to determine what courts other than the Supreme Court shall be
established, to define their jurisdiction and to appropriate funds for their support, the National
Assembly controls the judicial department to a certain extent. The Assembly also exercises the
judicial power of trying impeachments. And the judiciary in turn, with the Supreme Court as the
final arbiter, effectively checks the other departments in the exercise of its power to determine
the law, and hence to declare executive and legislative acts void if violative of the Constitution.
But in the main, the Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of
power to the executive, the legislative and the judicial departments of the government. The
overlapping and interlacing of functions and duties between the several departments, however,
sometimes makes it hard to say just where the one leaves off and the other begins. In times of
social disquietude or political excitement, the great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be
forgotten or marred, if not entirely obliterated. In cases of conflict, the judicial department is the
only constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of powers
between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof.
As any human production, our Constitution is of course lacking perfection and perfectibility, but
as much as it was within the power of our people, acting through their delegates to so provide,
that instrument which is the expression of their sovereignty however limited, has established a
republican government intended to operate and function as a harmonious whole, under a
system of checks and balances, and subject to specific limitations and restrictions provided in
the said instrument. The Constitution sets forth in no uncertain language the restrictions and
limitations upon governmental powers and agencies. If these restrictions and limitations are
transcended it would be inconceivable if the Constitution had not provided for a mechanism by
which to direct the course of government along constitutional channels, for then the distribution
of powers would be mere verbiage, the bill of rights mere expressions of sentiment, and the
principles of good government mere political apothegms. Certainly, the limitation and restrictions
embodied in our Constitution are real as they should be in any living constitution. In the United
States where no express constitutional grant is found in their constitution, the possession of this
moderating power of the courts, not to speak of its historical origin and development there, has
been set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of more than one and a half centuries. In
our case, this moderating power is granted, if not expressly, by clear implication from section 2
of article VIII of our constitution.
The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the nature,
scope and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of
the judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional
boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality
nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation
assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the
Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that
instrument secures and guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed
"judicial supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review under the Constitution. Even
then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be exercised
after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further to the constitutional question
raised or the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics
and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its
function is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or
expediency of legislation. More than that, courts accord the presumption of constitutionality to
legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to abide by the
Constitution but also because the judiciary in the determination of actual cases and
controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as expressed through their
representatives in the executive and legislative departments of the governments of the
government.
But much as we might postulate on the internal checks of power provided in our Constitution, it
ought not the less to be remembered that, in the language of James Madison, the system itself
is not "the chief palladium of constitutional liberty . . . the people who are authors of this blessing
must also be its guardians . . . their eyes must be ever ready to mark, their voice to pronounce .
. . aggression on the authority of their constitution." In the Last and ultimate analysis, then, must
the success of our government in the unfolding years to come be tested in the crucible of
Filipino minds and hearts than in consultation rooms and court chambers.
In the case at bar, the national Assembly has by resolution (No. 8) of December 3, 1935,
confirmed the election of the herein petitioner to the said body. On the other hand, the Electoral
Commission has by resolution adopted on December 9, 1935, fixed said date as the last day for
the filing of protests against the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National
Assembly, notwithstanding the previous confirmation made by the National Assembly as
aforesaid. If, as contended by the petitioner, the resolution of the National Assembly has the
effect of cutting off the power of the Electoral Commission to entertain protests against the
election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, submitted after
December 3, 1935, then the resolution of the Electoral Commission of December 9, 1935, is
mere surplusage and had no effect. But, if, as contended by the respondents, the Electoral
Commission has the sole power of regulating its proceedings to the exclusion of the National
Assembly, then the resolution of December 9, 1935, by which the Electoral Commission fixed
said date as the last day for filing protests against the election, returns and qualifications of
members of the National Assembly, should be upheld.
Here is then presented an actual controversy involving as it does a conflict of a grave
constitutional nature between the National Assembly on the one hand, and the Electoral
Commission on the other. From the very nature of the republican government established in our
country in the light of American experience and of our own, upon the judicial department is
thrown the solemn and inescapable obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining
constitutional boundaries. The Electoral Commission, as we shall have occasion to refer
hereafter, is a constitutional organ, created for a specific purpose, namely to determine all
contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National
Assembly. Although the Electoral Commission may not be interfered with, when and while
acting within the limits of its authority, it does not follow that it is beyond the reach of the
constitutional mechanism adopted by the people and that it is not subject to constitutional
restrictions. The Electoral Commission is not a separate department of the government, and
even if it were, conflicting claims of authority under the fundamental law between department
powers and agencies of the government are necessarily determined by the judiciary in justifiable
and appropriate cases. Discarding the English type and other European types of constitutional
government, the framers of our constitution adopted the American type where the written
constitution is interpreted and given effect by the judicial department. In some countries which
have declined to follow the American example, provisions have been inserted in their
constitutions prohibiting the courts from exercising the power to interpret the fundamental law.
This is taken as a recognition of what otherwise would be the rule that in the absence of direct
prohibition courts are bound to assume what is logically their function. For instance, the
Constitution of Poland of 1921, expressly provides that courts shall have no power to examine
the validity of statutes (art. 81, chap. IV). The former Austrian Constitution contained a similar
declaration. In countries whose constitutions are silent in this respect, courts have assumed this
power. This is true in Norway, Greece, Australia and South Africa. Whereas, in Czechoslovakia
(arts. 2 and 3, Preliminary Law to constitutional Charter of the Czechoslovak Republic, February
29, 1920) and Spain (arts. 121-123, Title IX, Constitutional of the Republic of 1931) especial
constitutional courts are established to pass upon the validity of ordinary laws. In our case, the
nature of the present controversy shows the necessity of a final constitutional arbiter to
determine the conflict of authority between two agencies created by the Constitution. Were we
to decline to take cognizance of the controversy, who will determine the conflict? And if the
conflict were left undecided and undetermined, would not a void be thus created in our
constitutional system which may be in the long run prove destructive of the entire framework?
To ask these questions is to answer them. Natura vacuum abhorret, so must we avoid
exhaustion in our constitutional system. Upon principle, reason and authority, we are clearly of
the opinion that upon the admitted facts of the present case, this court has jurisdiction over the
Electoral Commission and the subject mater of the present controversy for the purpose of
determining the character, scope and extent of the constitutional grant to the Electoral
Commission as "the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications
of the members of the National Assembly."
Having disposed of the question of jurisdiction, we shall now proceed to pass upon the second
proposition and determine whether the Electoral Commission has acted without or in excess of
its jurisdiction in adopting its resolution of December 9, 1935, and in assuming to take
cognizance of the protest filed against the election of the herein petitioner notwithstanding the
previous confirmation thereof by the National Assembly on December 3, 1935. As able counsel
for the petitioner has pointed out, the issue hinges on the interpretation of section 4 of Article VI
of the Constitution which provides:
"SEC. 4. There shall be an Electoral Commission composed of three Justice of the Supreme
Court designated by the Chief Justice, and of six Members chosen by the National Assembly,
three of whom shall be nominated by the party having the largest number of votes, and three by
the party having the second largest number of votes therein. The senior Justice in the
Commission shall be its Chairman. The Electoral Commission shall be the sole judge of all
contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National
Assembly." It is imperative, therefore, that we delve into the origin and history of this
constitutional provision and inquire into the intention of its framers and the people who adopted
it so that we may properly appreciate its full meaning, import and significance.
The original provision regarding this subject in the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902 (sec. 7, par.
5) laying down the rule that "the assembly shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and
qualifications of its members", was taken from clause 1 of section 5, Article I of the Constitution
of the United States providing that "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns,
and Qualifications of its own Members, . . . ." The Act of Congress of August 29, 1916 (sec. 18,
par. 1) modified this provision by the insertion of the word "sole" as follows: "That the Senate
and House of Representatives, respectively, shall be the sole judges of the elections, returns,
and qualifications of their elective members . . ." apparently in order to emphasize the exclusive
the Legislative over the particular case s therein specified. This court has had occasion to
characterize this grant of power to the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives,
respectively, as "full, clear and complete" (Veloso vs. Boards of Canvassers of Leyte and Samar
[1919], 39 Phil., 886, 888.)
The first step towards the creation of an independent tribunal for the purpose of deciding
contested elections to the legislature was taken by the sub-committee of five appointed by the
Committee on Constitutional Guarantees of the Constitutional Convention, which sub-committee
submitted a report on August 30, 1934, recommending the creation of a Tribunal of
Constitutional Security empowered to hear legislature but also against the election of executive
officers for whose election the vote of the whole nation is required, as well as to initiate
impeachment proceedings against specified executive and judicial officer. For the purpose of
hearing legislative protests, the tribunal was to be composed of three justices designated by the
Supreme Court and six members of the house of the legislature to which the contest
corresponds, three members to be designed by the majority party and three by the minority, to
be presided over by the Senior Justice unless the Chief Justice is also a member in which case
the latter shall preside. The foregoing proposal was submitted by the Committee on
Constitutional Guarantees to the Convention on September 15, 1934, with slight modifications
consisting in the reduction of the legislative representation to four members, that is, two
senators to be designated one each from the two major parties in the Senate and two
representatives to be designated one each from the two major parties in the House of
Representatives, and in awarding representation to the executive department in the persons of
two representatives to be designated by the President.
Meanwhile, the Committee on Legislative Power was also preparing its report. As submitted to
the Convention on September 24, 1934 subsection 5, section 5, of the proposed Article on the
Legislative Department, reads as follows:
The elections, returns and qualifications of the members of either house and all cases
contesting the election of any of their members shall be judged by an Electoral
Commission, constituted, as to each House, by three members elected by the members
of the party having the largest number of votes therein, three elected by the members of
the party having the second largest number of votes, and as to its Chairman, one Justice
of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice.
The idea of creating a Tribunal of Constitutional Security with comprehensive jurisdiction as
proposed by the Committee on Constitutional Guarantees which was probably inspired by the
Spanish plan (art. 121, Constitution of the Spanish Republic of 1931), was soon abandoned in
favor of the proposition of the Committee on Legislative Power to create a similar body with
reduced powers and with specific and limited jurisdiction, to be designated as a Electoral
Commission. The Sponsorship Committee modified the proposal of the Committee on
Legislative Power with respect to the composition of the Electoral Commission and made further
changes in phraseology to suit the project of adopting a unicameral instead of a bicameral
legislature. The draft as finally submitted to the Convention on October 26, 1934, reads as
follows:
(6) The elections, returns and qualifications of the Members of the National Assembly
and all cases contesting the election of any of its Members shall be judged by an
Electoral Commission, composed of three members elected by the party having the
largest number of votes in the National Assembly, three elected by the members of the
party having the second largest number of votes, and three justices of the Supreme
Court designated by the Chief Justice, the Commission to be presided over by one of
said justices.
During the discussion of the amendment introduced by Delegates Labrador, Abordo, and
others, proposing to strike out the whole subsection of the foregoing draft and inserting in lieu
thereof the following: "The National Assembly shall be the soled and exclusive judge of the
elections, returns, and qualifications of the Members", the following illuminating remarks were
made on the floor of the Convention in its session of December 4, 1934, as to the scope of the
said draft:
x x x x x x x x x
Mr. VENTURA. Mr. President, we have a doubt here as to the scope of the meaning of
the first four lines, paragraph 6, page 11 of the draft, reading: "The elections, returns and
qualifications of the Members of the National Assembly and all cases contesting the
election of any of its Members shall be judged by an Electoral Commission, . . ." I should
like to ask from the gentleman from Capiz whether the election and qualification of the
member whose elections is not contested shall also be judged by the Electoral
Commission.
Mr. ROXAS. If there is no question about the election of the members, there is nothing to
be judged; that is why the word "judge" is used to indicate a controversy. If there is no
question about the election of a member, there is nothing to be submitted to the
Electoral Commission and there is nothing to be determined.
Mr. VENTURA. But does that carry the idea also that the Electoral Commission shall
confirm also the election of those whose election is not contested?
Mr. ROXAS. There is no need of confirmation. As the gentleman knows, the action of the
House of Representatives confirming the election of its members is just a matter of the
rules of the assembly. It is not constitutional. It is not necessary. After a man files his
credentials that he has been elected, that is sufficient, unless his election is contested.
Mr. VENTURA. But I do not believe that that is sufficient, as we have observed that for
purposes of the auditor, in the matter of election of a member to a legislative body,
because he will not authorize his pay.
Mr. ROXAS. Well, what is the case with regards to the municipal president who is
elected? What happens with regards to the councilors of a municipality? Does anybody
confirm their election? The municipal council does this: it makes a canvass and
proclaims in this case the municipal council proclaims who has been elected, and it
ends there, unless there is a contest. It is the same case; there is no need on the part of
the Electoral Commission unless there is a contest. The first clause refers to the case
referred to by the gentleman from Cavite where one person tries to be elected in place of
another who was declared elected. From example, in a case when the residence of the
man who has been elected is in question, or in case the citizenship of the man who has
been elected is in question.
However, if the assembly desires to annul the power of the commission, it may do so by
certain maneuvers upon its first meeting when the returns are submitted to the
assembly. The purpose is to give to the Electoral Commission all the powers exercised
by the assembly referring to the elections, returns and qualifications of the
members. When there is no contest, there is nothing to be judged.
Mr. VENTURA. Then it should be eliminated.
Mr. ROXAS. But that is a different matter, I think Mr. Delegate.
Mr. CINCO. Mr. President, I have a similar question as that propounded by the
gentleman from Ilocos Norte when I arose a while ago. However I want to ask more
questions from the delegate from Capiz. This paragraph 6 on page 11 of the draft cites
cases contesting the election as separate from the first part of the sections which refers
to elections, returns and qualifications.
Mr. ROXAS. That is merely for the sake of clarity. In fact the cases of contested
elections are already included in the phrase "the elections, returns and qualifications."
This phrase "and contested elections" was inserted merely for the sake of clarity.
Mr. CINCO. Under this paragraph, may not the Electoral Commission, at its own
instance, refuse to confirm the elections of the members."
Mr. ROXAS. I do not think so, unless there is a protest.
Mr. LABRADOR. Mr. President, will the gentleman yield?
THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman may yield, if he so desires.
Mr. ROXAS. Willingly.
Mr. LABRADOR. Does not the gentleman from Capiz believe that unless this power is
granted to the assembly, the assembly on its own motion does not have the right to
contest the election and qualification of its members?
Mr. ROXAS. I have no doubt but that the gentleman is right. If this draft is retained as it
is, even if two-thirds of the assembly believe that a member has not the qualifications
provided by law, they cannot remove him for that reason.
Mr. LABRADOR. So that the right to remove shall only be retained by the Electoral
Commission.
Mr. ROXAS. By the assembly for misconduct.
Mr. LABRADOR. I mean with respect to the qualifications of the members.
Mr. ROXAS. Yes, by the Electoral Commission.
Mr. LABRADOR. So that under this draft, no member of the assembly has the right to
question the eligibility of its members?
Mr. ROXAS. Before a member can question the eligibility, he must go to the Electoral
Commission and make the question before the Electoral Commission.
Mr. LABRADOR. So that the Electoral Commission shall decide whether the election is
contested or not contested.
Mr. ROXAS. Yes, sir: that is the purpose.
Mr. PELAYO. Mr. President, I would like to be informed if the Electoral Commission has
power and authority to pass upon the qualifications of the members of the National
Assembly even though that question has not been raised.
Mr. ROXAS. I have just said that they have no power, because they can only judge.
In the same session, the first clause of the aforesaid draft reading "The election, returns and
qualifications of the members of the National Assembly and" was eliminated by the Sponsorship
Committee in response to an amendment introduced by Delegates Francisco, Ventura, Vinzons,
Rafols, Lim, Mumar and others. In explaining the difference between the original draft and the
draft as amended, Delegate Roxas speaking for the Sponsorship Committee said:
x x x x x x x x x
Sr. ROXAS. La diferencia, seor Presidente, consiste solamente en obviar la objecion
apuntada por varios Delegados al efecto de que la primera clausula del draft que dice:
"The elections, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly"
parece que da a la Comision Electoral la facultad de determinar tambien la eleccion de
los miembros que no ha sido protestados y para obviar esa dificultad, creemos que la
enmienda tien razon en ese sentido, si enmendamos el draft, de tal modo que se lea
como sigue: "All cases contesting the election", de modo que los jueces de la Comision
Electoral se limitaran solamente a los casos en que haya habido protesta contra las
actas." Before the amendment of Delegate Labrador was voted upon the following
interpellation also took place:
El Sr. CONEJERO. Antes de votarse la enmienda, quisiera
El Sr. PRESIDENTE. Que dice el Comite?
El Sr. ROXAS. Con mucho gusto.
El Sr. CONEJERO. Tal como esta el draft, dando tres miembros a la mayoria, y otros
tres a la minoria y tres a la Corte Suprema, no cree Su Seoria que esto equivale
practicamente a dejar el asunto a los miembros del Tribunal Supremo?
El Sr. ROXAS. Si y no. Creemos que si el tribunal o la Commission esta constituido en
esa forma, tanto los miembros de la mayoria como los de la minoria asi como los
miembros de la Corte Suprema consideraran la cuestion sobre la base de sus meritos,
sabiendo que el partidismo no es suficiente para dar el triunfo.
El Sr. CONEJERO. Cree Su Seoria que en un caso como ese, podriamos hacer que
tanto los de la mayoria como los de la minoria prescindieran del partidismo?
El Sr. ROXAS. Creo que si, porque el partidismo no les daria el triunfo.
x x x x x x x x x
The amendment introduced by Delegates Labrador, Abordo and others seeking to restore the
power to decide contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the
National Assembly to the National Assembly itself, was defeated by a vote of ninety-eight (98)
against fifty-six (56).
In the same session of December 4, 1934, Delegate Cruz (C.) sought to amend the draft by
reducing the representation of the minority party and the Supreme Court in the Electoral
Commission to two members each, so as to accord more representation to the majority party.
The Convention rejected this amendment by a vote of seventy-six (76) against forty-six (46),
thus maintaining the non-partisan character of the commission.
As approved on January 31, 1935, the draft was made to read as follows:
(6) All cases contesting the elections, returns and qualifications of the Members of the
National Assembly shall be judged by an Electoral Commission, composed of three
members elected by the party having the largest number of votes in the National
Assembly, three elected by the members of the party having the second largest number
of votes, and three justices of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice, the
Commission to be presided over by one of said justices.
The Style Committee to which the draft was submitted revised it as follows:
SEC. 4. There shall be an Electoral Commission composed of three Justices of the
Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice, and of six Members chosen by the
National Assembly, three of whom shall be nominated by the party having the largest
number of votes, and three by the party having the second largest number of votes
therein. The senior Justice in the Commission shall be its chairman. The Electoral
Commission shall be the sole judge of the election, returns, and qualifications of the
Members of the National Assembly.
When the foregoing draft was submitted for approval on February 8, 1935, the Style Committee,
through President Recto, to effectuate the original intention of the Convention, agreed to insert
the phrase "All contests relating to" between the phrase "judge of" and the words "the elections",
which was accordingly accepted by the Convention.
The transfer of the power of determining the election, returns and qualifications of the members
of the legislature long lodged in the legislative body, to an independent, impartial and non-
partisan tribunal, is by no means a mere experiment in the science of government.
Cushing, in his Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies (ninth edition, chapter VI, pages 57,
58), gives a vivid account of the "scandalously notorious" canvassing of votes by political parties
in the disposition of contests by the House of Commons in the following passages which are
partly quoted by the petitioner in his printed memorandum of March 14, 1936:
153. From the time when the commons established their right to be the exclusive judges
of the elections, returns, and qualifications of their members, until the year 1770, two
modes of proceeding prevailed, in the determination of controverted elections, and rights
of membership. One of the standing committees appointed at the commencement of
each session, was denominated the committee of privileges and elections, whose
functions was to hear and investigate all questions of this description which might be
referred to them, and to report their proceedings, with their opinion thereupon, to the
house, from time to time. When an election petition was referred to this committee they
heard the parties and their witnesses and other evidence, and made a report of all the
evidence, together with their opinion thereupon, in the form of resolutions, which were
considered and agreed or disagreed to by the house. The other mode of proceeding was
by a hearing at the bar of the house itself. When this court was adopted, the case was
heard and decided by the house, in substantially the same manner as by a committee.
The committee of privileges and elections although a select committee. The committee
of privileges and elections although a select committee was usually what is called an
open one; that is to say, in order to constitute the committee, a quorum of the members
named was required to be present, but all the members of the house were at liberty to
attend the committee and vote if they pleased.
154. With the growth of political parties in parliament questions relating to the right of
membership gradually assumed a political character; so that for many years previous to
the year 1770, controverted elections had been tried and determined by the house of
commons, as mere party questions, upon which the strength of contending factions
might be tested. Thus, for Example, in 1741, Sir Robert Walpole, after repeated attacks
upon his government, resigned his office in consequence of an adverse vote upon the
Chippenham election. Mr. Hatsell remarks, of the trial of election cases, as conducted
under this system, that "Every principle of decency and justice were notoriously and
openly prostituted, from whence the younger part of the house were insensibly, but too
successfully, induced to adopt the same licentious conduct in more serious matters, and
in questions of higher importance to the public welfare." Mr. George Grenville, a
distinguished member of the house of commons, undertook to propose a remedy for the
evil, and, on the 7th of March, 1770, obtained the unanimous leave of the house to bring
in a bill, "to regulate the trial of controverted elections, or returns of members to serve in
parliament." In his speech to explain his plan, on the motion for leave, Mr. Grenville
alluded to the existing practice in the following terms: "Instead of trusting to the merits of
their respective causes, the principal dependence of both parties is their private interest
among us; and it is scandalously notorious that we are as earnestly canvassed to attend
in favor of the opposite sides, as if we were wholly self-elective, and not bound to act by
the principles of justice, but by the discretionary impulse of our own inclinations; nay, it is
well known, that in every contested election, many members of this house, who are
ultimately to judge in a kind of judicial capacity between the competitors, enlist
themselves as parties in the contention, and take upon themselves the partial
management of the very business, upon which they should determine with the strictest
impartiality."
155. It was to put an end to the practices thus described, that Mr. Grenville brought in a
bill which met with the approbation of both houses, and received the royal assent on the
12th of April, 1770. This was the celebrated law since known by the name of the
Grenville Act; of which Mr. Hatsell declares, that it "was one of the nobles works, for the
honor of the house of commons, and the security of the constitution, that was ever
devised by any minister or statesman." It is probable, that the magnitude of the evil, or
the apparent success of the remedy, may have led many of the contemporaries of the
measure to the information of a judgement, which was not acquiesced in by some of the
leading statesmen of the day, and has not been entirely confirmed by subsequent
experience. The bill was objected to by Lord North, Mr. De Grey, afterwards chief justice
of the common pleas, Mr. Ellis, Mr. Dyson, who had been clerk of the house, and Mr.
Charles James Fox, chiefly on the ground, that the introduction of the new system was
an essential alteration of the constitution of parliament, and a total abrogation of one of
the most important rights and jurisdictions of the house of commons.
As early as 1868, the House of Commons in England solved the problem of insuring the non-
partisan settlement of the controverted elections of its members by abdicating its prerogative to
two judges of the King's Bench of the High Court of Justice selected from a rota in accordance
with rules of court made for the purpose. Having proved successful, the practice has become
imbedded in English jurisprudence (Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868 [31 & 32 Vict. c. 125] as
amended by Parliamentary Elections and Corrupt Practices Act. 1879 [42 & 43 Vict. c. 75], s. 2;
Corrupt and Illegal Practices Preventions Act, 1883 [46 & 47 Vict. c. 51;, s. 70; Expiring Laws
Continuance Act, 1911 [1 & 2 Geo. 5, c. 22]; Laws of England, vol. XII, p. 408, vol. XXI, p. 787).
In the Dominion of Canada, election contests which were originally heard by the Committee of
the House of Commons, are since 1922 tried in the courts. Likewise, in the Commonwealth of
Australia, election contests which were originally determined by each house, are since 1922
tried in the High Court. In Hungary, the organic law provides that all protests against the election
of members of the Upper House of the Diet are to be resolved by the Supreme Administrative
Court (Law 22 of 1916, chap. 2, art. 37, par. 6). The Constitution of Poland of March 17, 1921
(art. 19) and the Constitution of the Free City of Danzig of May 13, 1922 (art. 10) vest the
authority to decide contested elections to the Diet or National Assembly in the Supreme Court.
For the purpose of deciding legislative contests, the Constitution of the German Reich of July 1,
1919 (art. 31), the Constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic of February 29, 1920 (art. 19) and
the Constitution of the Grecian Republic of June 2, 1927 (art. 43), all provide for an Electoral
Commission.
The creation of an Electoral Commission whose membership is recruited both from the
legislature and the judiciary is by no means unknown in the United States. In the presidential
elections of 1876 there was a dispute as to the number of electoral votes received by each of
the two opposing candidates. As the Constitution made no adequate provision for such a
contingency, Congress passed a law on January 29, 1877 (United States Statutes at Large, vol.
19, chap. 37, pp. 227-229), creating a special Electoral Commission composed of five members
elected by the Senate, five members elected by the House of Representatives, and five justices
of the Supreme Court, the fifth justice to be selected by the four designated in the Act. The
decision of the commission was to be binding unless rejected by the two houses voting
separately. Although there is not much of a moral lesson to be derived from the experience of
America in this regard, judging from the observations of Justice Field, who was a member of
that body on the part of the Supreme Court (Countryman, the Supreme Court of the United
States and its Appellate Power under the Constitution [Albany, 1913] Relentless Partisanship
of Electoral Commission, p. 25 et seq.), the experiment has at least abiding historical interest.
The members of the Constitutional Convention who framed our fundamental law were in their
majority men mature in years and experience. To be sure, many of them were familiar with the
history and political development of other countries of the world. When , therefore, they deemed
it wise to create an Electoral Commission as a constitutional organ and invested it with the
exclusive function of passing upon and determining the election, returns and qualifications of the
members of the National Assembly, they must have done so not only in the light of their own
experience but also having in view the experience of other enlightened peoples of the world.
The creation of the Electoral Commission was designed to remedy certain evils of which the
framers of our Constitution were cognizant. Notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of some
members of the Convention to its creation, the plan, as hereinabove stated, was approved by
that body by a vote of 98 against 58. All that can be said now is that, upon the approval of the
constitutional the creation of the Electoral Commission is the expression of the wisdom and
"ultimate justice of the people". (Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.)
From the deliberations of our Constitutional Convention it is evident that the purpose was to
transfer in its totality all the powers previously exercised by the legislature in matters pertaining
to contested elections of its members, to an independent and impartial tribunal. It was not so
much the knowledge and appreciation of contemporary constitutional precedents, however, as
the long-felt need of determining legislative contests devoid of partisan considerations which
prompted the people, acting through their delegates to the Convention, to provide for this body
known as the Electoral Commission. With this end in view, a composite body in which both the
majority and minority parties are equally represented to off-set partisan influence in its
deliberations was created, and further endowed with judicial temper by including in its
membership three justices of the Supreme Court.
The Electoral Commission is a constitutional creation, invested with the necessary authority in
the performance and execution of the limited and specific function assigned to it by the
Constitution. Although it is not a power in our tripartite scheme of government, it is, to all intents
and purposes, when acting within the limits of its authority, an independent organ. It is, to be
sure, closer to the legislative department than to any other. The location of the provision
(section 4) creating the Electoral Commission under Article VI entitled "Legislative Department"
of our Constitution is very indicative. Its compositions is also significant in that it is constituted by
a majority of members of the legislature. But it is a body separate from and independent of the
legislature.
The grant of power to the Electoral Commission to judge all contests relating to the election,
returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, is intended to be as complete
and unimpaired as if it had remained originally in the legislature. The express lodging of that
power in the Electoral Commission is an implied denial of the exercise of that power by the
National Assembly. And this is as effective a restriction upon the legislative power as an
express prohibition in the Constitution (Ex parte Lewis, 45 Tex. Crim. Rep., 1;
State vs.Whisman, 36 S.D., 260; L.R.A., 1917B, 1). If we concede the power claimed in behalf
of the National Assembly that said body may regulate the proceedings of the Electoral
Commission and cut off the power of the commission to lay down the period within which
protests should be filed, the grant of power to the commission would be ineffective. The
Electoral Commission in such case would be invested with the power to determine contested
cases involving the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly
but subject at all times to the regulative power of the National Assembly. Not only would the
purpose of the framers of our Constitution of totally transferring this authority from the legislative
body be frustrated, but a dual authority would be created with the resultant inevitable clash of
powers from time to time. A sad spectacle would then be presented of the Electoral Commission
retaining the bare authority of taking cognizance of cases referred to, but in reality without the
necessary means to render that authority effective whenever and whenever the National
Assembly has chosen to act, a situation worse than that intended to be remedied by the framers
of our Constitution. The power to regulate on the part of the National Assembly in procedural
matters will inevitably lead to the ultimate control by the Assembly of the entire proceedings of
the Electoral Commission, and, by indirection, to the entire abrogation of the constitutional
grant. It is obvious that this result should not be permitted.
We are not insensible to the impassioned argument or the learned counsel for the petitioner
regarding the importance and necessity of respecting the dignity and independence of the
national Assembly as a coordinate department of the government and of according validity to its
acts, to avoid what he characterized would be practically an unlimited power of the commission
in the admission of protests against members of the National Assembly. But as we have pointed
out hereinabove, the creation of the Electoral Commission carried with it ex necesitate rei the
power regulative in character to limit the time with which protests intrusted to its cognizance
should be filed. It is a settled rule of construction that where a general power is conferred or
duty enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise of the one or the performance
of the other is also conferred (Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, eight ed., vol. I, pp. 138, 139).
In the absence of any further constitutional provision relating to the procedure to be followed in
filing protests before the Electoral Commission, therefore, the incidental power to promulgate
such rules necessary for the proper exercise of its exclusive power to judge all contests relating
to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, must be
deemed by necessary implication to have been lodged also in the Electoral Commission.
It is, indeed, possible that, as suggested by counsel for the petitioner, the Electoral Commission
may abuse its regulative authority by admitting protests beyond any reasonable time, to the
disturbance of the tranquillity and peace of mind of the members of the National Assembly. But
the possibility of abuse is not argument against the concession of the power as there is no
power that is not susceptible of abuse. In the second place, if any mistake has been committed
in the creation of an Electoral Commission and in investing it with exclusive jurisdiction in all
cases relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of members of the National Assembly,
the remedy is political, not judicial, and must be sought through the ordinary processes of
democracy. All the possible abuses of the government are not intended to be corrected by the
judiciary. We believe, however, that the people in creating the Electoral Commission reposed as
much confidence in this body in the exclusive determination of the specified cases assigned to
it, as they have given to the Supreme Court in the proper cases entrusted to it for decision. All
the agencies of the government were designed by the Constitution to achieve specific purposes,
and each constitutional organ working within its own particular sphere of discretionary action
must be deemed to be animated with the same zeal and honesty in accomplishing the great
ends for which they were created by the sovereign will. That the actuations of these
constitutional agencies might leave much to be desired in given instances, is inherent in the
perfection of human institutions. In the third place, from the fact that the Electoral Commission
may not be interfered with in the exercise of its legitimate power, it does not follow that its acts,
however illegal or unconstitutional, may not be challenge in appropriate cases over which the
courts may exercise jurisdiction.
But independently of the legal and constitutional aspects of the present case, there are
considerations of equitable character that should not be overlooked in the appreciation of the
intrinsic merits of the controversy. The Commonwealth Government was inaugurated on
November 15, 1935, on which date the Constitution, except as to the provisions mentioned in
section 6 of Article XV thereof, went into effect. The new National Assembly convened on
November 25th of that year, and the resolution confirming the election of the petitioner, Jose A.
Angara was approved by that body on December 3, 1935. The protest by the herein respondent
Pedro Ynsua against the election of the petitioner was filed on December 9 of the same year.
The pleadings do not show when the Electoral Commission was formally organized but it does
appear that on December 9, 1935, the Electoral Commission met for the first time and approved
a resolution fixing said date as the last day for the filing of election protest. When, therefore, the
National Assembly passed its resolution of December 3, 1935, confirming the election of the
petitioner to the National Assembly, the Electoral Commission had not yet met; neither does it
appear that said body had actually been organized. As a mater of fact, according to certified
copies of official records on file in the archives division of the National Assembly attached to the
record of this case upon the petition of the petitioner, the three justices of the Supreme Court
the six members of the National Assembly constituting the Electoral Commission were
respectively designated only on December 4 and 6, 1935. If Resolution No. 8 of the National
Assembly confirming non-protested elections of members of the National Assembly had the
effect of limiting or tolling the time for the presentation of protests, the result would be that the
National Assembly on the hypothesis that it still retained the incidental power of regulation in
such cases had already barred the presentation of protests before the Electoral Commission
had had time to organize itself and deliberate on the mode and method to be followed in a
matter entrusted to its exclusive jurisdiction by the Constitution. This result was not and could
not have been contemplated, and should be avoided.
From another angle, Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly confirming the election of
members against whom no protests had been filed at the time of its passage on December 3,
1935, can not be construed as a limitation upon the time for the initiation of election contests.
While there might have been good reason for the legislative practice of confirmation of the
election of members of the legislature at the time when the power to decide election contests
was still lodged in the legislature, confirmation alone by the legislature cannot be construed as
depriving the Electoral Commission of the authority incidental to its constitutional power to be
"the sole judge of all contest relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members
of the National Assembly", to fix the time for the filing of said election protests. Confirmation by
the National Assembly of the returns of its members against whose election no protests have
been filed is, to all legal purposes, unnecessary. As contended by the Electoral Commission in
its resolution of January 23, 1936, overruling the motion of the herein petitioner to dismiss the
protest filed by the respondent Pedro Ynsua, confirmation of the election of any member is not
required by the Constitution before he can discharge his duties as such member. As a matter of
fact, certification by the proper provincial board of canvassers is sufficient to entitle a member-
elect to a seat in the national Assembly and to render him eligible to any office in said body (No.
1, par. 1, Rules of the National Assembly, adopted December 6, 1935).
Under the practice prevailing both in the English House of Commons and in the Congress of the
United States, confirmation is neither necessary in order to entitle a member-elect to take his
seat. The return of the proper election officers is sufficient, and the member-elect presenting
such return begins to enjoy the privileges of a member from the time that he takes his oath of
office (Laws of England, vol. 12, pp. 331. 332; vol. 21, pp. 694, 695; U. S. C. A., Title 2, secs.
21, 25, 26). Confirmation is in order only in cases of contested elections where the decision is
adverse to the claims of the protestant. In England, the judges' decision or report in
controverted elections is certified to the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the House,
upon being informed of such certificate or report by the Speaker, is required to enter the same
upon the Journals, and to give such directions for confirming or altering the return, or for the
issue of a writ for a new election, or for carrying into execution the determination as
circumstances may require (31 & 32 Vict., c. 125, sec. 13). In the United States, it is believed,
the order or decision of the particular house itself is generally regarded as sufficient, without any
actual alternation or amendment of the return (Cushing, Law and Practice of Legislative
Assemblies, 9th ed., sec. 166).
Under the practice prevailing when the Jones Law was still in force, each house of the
Philippine Legislature fixed the time when protests against the election of any of its members
should be filed. This was expressly authorized by section 18 of the Jones Law making each
house the sole judge of the election, return and qualifications of its members, as well as by a
law (sec. 478, Act No. 3387) empowering each house to respectively prescribe by resolution the
time and manner of filing contest in the election of member of said bodies. As a matter of
formality, after the time fixed by its rules for the filing of protests had already expired, each
house passed a resolution confirming or approving the returns of such members against whose
election no protests had been filed within the prescribed time. This was interpreted as cutting off
the filing of further protests against the election of those members not theretofore contested
(Amistad vs. Claravall [Isabela], Second Philippine Legislature, Record First Period, p. 89;
Urguello vs. Rama [Third District, Cebu], Sixth Philippine Legislature; Fetalvero vs. Festin
[Romblon], Sixth Philippine Legislature, Record First Period, pp. 637-640;
Kintanar vs. Aldanese [Fourth District, Cebu], Sixth Philippine Legislature, Record First
Period, pp. 1121, 1122; Aguilar vs. Corpus [Masbate], Eighth Philippine Legislature, Record
First Period, vol. III, No. 56, pp. 892, 893). The Constitution has repealed section 18 of the
Jones Law. Act No. 3387, section 478, must be deemed to have been impliedly abrogated also,
for the reason that with the power to determine all contest relating to the election, returns and
qualifications of members of the National Assembly, is inseparably linked the authority to
prescribe regulations for the exercise of that power. There was thus no law nor constitutional
provisions which authorized the National Assembly to fix, as it is alleged to have fixed on
December 3, 1935, the time for the filing of contests against the election of its members. And
what the National Assembly could not do directly, it could not do by indirection through the
medium of confirmation.
Summarizing, we conclude:
(a) That the government established by the Constitution follows fundamentally the theory
of separation of power into the legislative, the executive and the judicial.
(b) That the system of checks and balances and the overlapping of functions and duties
often makes difficult the delimitation of the powers granted.
(c) That in cases of conflict between the several departments and among the agencies
thereof, the judiciary, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, is the only
constitutional mechanism devised finally to resolve the conflict and allocate constitutional
boundaries.
(d) That judicial supremacy is but the power of judicial review in actual and appropriate
cases and controversies, and is the power and duty to see that no one branch or agency
of the government transcends the Constitution, which is the source of all authority.
(e) That the Electoral Commission is an independent constitutional creation with specific
powers and functions to execute and perform, closer for purposes of classification to the
legislative than to any of the other two departments of the governments.
(f ) That the Electoral Commission is the sole judge of all contests relating to the
election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly.
(g) That under the organic law prevailing before the present Constitution went into effect,
each house of the legislature was respectively the sole judge of the elections, returns,
and qualifications of their elective members.
(h) That the present Constitution has transferred all the powers previously exercised by
the legislature with respect to contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications
of its members, to the Electoral Commission.
(i) That such transfer of power from the legislature to the Electoral Commission was full,
clear and complete, and carried with it ex necesitate rei the implied power inter alia to
prescribe the rules and regulations as to the time and manner of filing protests.
( j) That the avowed purpose in creating the Electoral Commission was to have an
independent constitutional organ pass upon all contests relating to the election, returns
and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, devoid of partisan influence or
consideration, which object would be frustrated if the National Assembly were to retain
the power to prescribe rules and regulations regarding the manner of conducting said
contests.
(k) That section 4 of article VI of the Constitution repealed not only section 18 of the
Jones Law making each house of the Philippine Legislature respectively the sole judge
of the elections, returns and qualifications of its elective members, but also section 478
of Act No. 3387 empowering each house to prescribe by resolution the time and manner
of filing contests against the election of its members, the time and manner of notifying
the adverse party, and bond or bonds, to be required, if any, and to fix the costs and
expenses of contest.
(l) That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election is contested or not, is not
essential before such member-elect may discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of
a member of the National Assembly.
(m) That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member against
whom no protest had been filed prior to said confirmation, does not and cannot deprive
the Electoral Commission of its incidental power to prescribe the time within which
protests against the election of any member of the National Assembly should be filed.
We hold, therefore, that the Electoral Commission was acting within the legitimate exercise of its
constitutional prerogative in assuming to take cognizance of the protest filed by the respondent
Pedro Ynsua against the election of the herein petitioner Jose A. Angara, and that the resolution
of the National Assembly of December 3, 1935 can not in any manner toll the time for filing
protests against the elections, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly,
nor prevent the filing of a protest within such time as the rules of the Electoral Commission
might prescribe.
In view of the conclusion reached by us relative to the character of the Electoral Commission as
a constitutional creation and as to the scope and extent of its authority under the facts of the
present controversy, we deem it unnecessary to determine whether the Electoral Commission is
an inferior tribunal, corporation, board or person within the purview of sections 226 and 516 of
the Code of Civil Procedure.
The petition for a writ of prohibition against the Electoral Commission is hereby denied, with
costs against the petitioner. So ordered.
Avancea, C. J., Diaz, Concepcion, and Horrilleno, JJ., concur.


Separate Opinions
ABAD SANTOS, J ., concurring:
I concur in the result and in most of the views so ably expressed in the preceding opinion. I am,
however, constrained to withhold my assent to certain conclusions therein advanced.
The power vested in the Electoral Commission by the Constitution of judging of all contests
relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly, is
judicial in nature. (Thomas vs. Loney, 134 U.S., 372; 33 Law. ed., 949, 951.) On the other hand,
the power to regulate the time in which notice of a contested election may be given, is legislative
in character. (M'Elmoyle vs. Cohen, 13 Pet., 312; 10 Law. ed., 177; Missouri vs. Illinois, 200 U.
S. 496; 50 Law. ed., 572.)
It has been correctly stated that the government established by the Constitution follows
fundamentally the theory of the separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial.
Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly. (Article VI, sec. 1.) In the absence of any
clear constitutional provision to the contrary, the power to regulate the time in which notice of a
contested election may be given, must be deemed to be included in the grant of legislative
power to the National Assembly.
The Constitution of the United States contains a provision similar to the that found in Article VI,
section 4, of the Constitution of the Philippines. Article I, section 5, of the Constitution of the
United States provides that each house of the Congress shall be the judge of the elections,
returns, and qualifications of its own members. Notwithstanding this provision, the Congress has
assumed the power to regulate the time in which notice of a contested election may be given.
Thus section 201, Title 2, of the United States Code Annotated prescribes:
Whenever any person intends to contest an election of any Member of the House of
Representatives of the United States, he shall, within thirty days after the result of such
election shall have been determined by the officer or board of canvassers authorized by
law to determine the same, give notice, in writing, to the Member whose seat he designs
to contest, of his intention to contest the same, and, in such notice, shall specify
particularly the grounds upon which he relies in the contest. (R. S., par. 105.)
The Philippine Autonomy Act, otherwise known as the Jones Law, also contained a provision to
the effect that the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, shall be the sole judges
of the elections, returns, and qualifications of their elective members. Notwithstanding this
provision, the Philippine Legislature passed the Election Law, section 478 of which reads as
follows:
The Senate and the House of Representatives shall by resolution respectively prescribe
the time and manner of filing contest in the election of members of said bodies, the time
and manner of notifying the adverse party, and bond or bonds, to be required, if any, and
shall fix the costs and expenses of contest which may be paid from their respective
funds.
The purpose sought to be attained by the creation of the Electoral Commission was not to erect
a body that would be above the law, but to raise legislative elections contests from the category
of political to that of justiciable questions. The purpose was not to place the commission beyond
the reach of the law, but to insure the determination of such contests with the due process of
law.
Section 478 of the Election Law was in force at the time of the adoption of the Constitution,
Article XV, section 2, of which provides that
All laws of the Philippine Islands shall continue in force until the inauguration of the
Commonwealth of the Philippines; thereafter, such laws shall remain operative, unless
inconsistent with this Constitution, until amended, altered, modified, or repealed by the
National Assembly, and all references in such laws to the Government or officials of the
Philippine Islands shall be construed, in so far as applicable, to refer to the Government
and corresponding officials under this Constitution.
The manifest purpose of this constitutional provision was to insure the orderly processes of
government, and to prevent any hiatus in its operations after the inauguration of the
Commonwealth of the Philippines. It was thus provided that all laws of the Philippine Islands
shall remain operative even after the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines,
unless inconsistent with the Constitution, and that all references in such laws to the government
or officials of the Philippine Islands shall be construed, in so far as applicable, to refer to the
government and corresponding officials under the Constitution. It would seem to be consistent
not only with the spirit but the letter of the Constitution to hold that section 478 of the Election
Law remains operative and should now be construed to refer to the Electoral Commission,
which, in so far as the power to judge election contests is concerned, corresponds to either the
Senate or the House of Representative under the former regime. It is important to observe in
this connection that said section 478 of the Election Law vested the power to regulate the time
and manner in which notice of a contested election may be given, not in the Philippine
Legislature but in the Senate and House of Representatives singly. In other words, the authority
to prescribe the time and manner of filing contests in the elections of members of the Philippine
Legislature was by statute lodged separately in the bodies clothed with power to decide such
contests. Construing section 478 of the Election Law to refer to the National Assembly, as
required by Article XV, section 2, of the Constitution, it seems reasonable to conclude that the
authority to prescribe the time and manner of filing contests in the election of members of the
National Assembly is vested in the Electoral Commission, which is now the body clothed with
power to decide such contests.
In the light of what has been said, the resolution of the National Assembly of December 3, 1935,
could not have the effect of barring the right of the respondent Pedro Ynsua to contest the
election of the petitioner. By the same token, the Electoral Commission was authorized by law
to adopt its resolution of December 9, 1935, which fixed the time with in which written contests
must be filed with the commission.
Having been filed within the time fixed by its resolutions, the Electoral Commission has
jurisdiction to hear and determine the contest filed by the respondent Pedro Ynsua against the
petitioner Jose A. Angara.