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Abbas vs.

Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET)


Electoral Tribunals
Date: October 27, 1988
Ponente: Gancayco J.
SUMMARY:
This is a petition to nullify the resolutions of the Senate
Electoral Tribunal denying a petition for mass
disqualification of 22 senators. The Senate Electoral
Tribunal is composed of 3 justices and 6 senators. House
rules state that the minimum to have a quorum would be
to have at least 3 senators and 1 Justice. All the senators
who are members of the tribunal have interest in the case
of disqualification given that they are respondents. The
issue is then is if the 3 justices alone, being the only
remaining members of the SET, did not commit grave
abuse of discretion denying the petition. The court holds
that the SET can render judgement given the unusual
circumstances. Petition Dismissed.
ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the SET can render judgement
given a lack of Senator-members?
FACTS:
1. This is a petition to nullify the resolution of the SET
denying the Motion for Disqualification/ Inhibition
against 22 candidates of the LABAN coalition who
were proclaimed senators elect in the May 11, 1987
congressional elections by the Commission on
Elections.
2. The Petitioners filed with the SET a Motion for
Disqualification or Inhibition of the Senator-Members
thereof from the hearing and resolution of the case
on the ground that all of them are interested parties
to said case. Senators Saguisag and Paterno also filed
for disqualification of Senator-Members.
3. Senator Enrile voluntary inhibited himself from
performing and the 5 senators were disqualified to be

part of the tribunal leaving only the 3 Justices to be


part of the Tribunal.
4. Petitioners argue that the SET cannot make a
judgement because there are no senator-members.
HOLDING:
Art VI Sec 17 is a clear expression of an intent that all
(such) contests shall be resolved by a panel or body in
which their (the Senators) peers in that Chamber are
represented The Constitutional provision clearly
mandates the participation in the same process of
decision of a representative or representatives of the
Supreme Court.
In this situation where senators cannot sit in the tribunal
due to the proposed mass disqualification, if sanctioned
and ordered, would leave the Tribunal no alternative but
to abandon a duty that no other court or body can
perform, but which it cannot lawfully discharge if shorn
of the participation of its entire membership of Senators.
The overriding consideration is that the Tribunal be not
prevented from discharging a duty which it alone has the
power to perform, the performance of which is in the
highest public interest as evidenced by its being expressly
imposed by no less than the fundamental law.
RULING:
The charge that the respondent Tribunal gravely abused
its discretion in its disposition of the incidents referred to
must therefore fail. In the circumstances, it acted well
within law and principle in dismissing the petition for
disqualification or inhibition filed by herein petitioners.
The instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of
merit. SO ORDERED.

Related Provisions:
Art VI Sec. 17 1987 Consti. The Senate
and the House of Representatives shall
each have an Electoral Tribunal which
shall be the sole judge of all contests
relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of their respective
Members. Each Electoral Tribunal shall
be composed of nine Members, three
of whom shall be Justices of the
Supreme Court to be designated by the
Chief Justice, and the remaining six
shall be Members of the Senate or the
House of Representatives, as the case
may be, who shall be chosen on the
basis of proportional representation
from the political parties and the
parties or organizations registered
under the partylist system represented
therein. The senior Justice in the
Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman.

The Tribunals Rules (Section 24)


requiring the concurrence of five (5)
members for the adoption of
resolutions of whatever natureis a
proviso that where more than four
(4) members are disqualified, the
remaining members shall constitute
a quorum, if not less than three (3)
including one (1) Justice, and may
adopt resolutions by majority vote
with no abstentions.
The respondent Tribunal was at the time
composed of three (3) Justices of the Supreme
Court and six (6) Senators, namely: Senior
Associate Justice Pedro L. Yap (Chairman).
Associate Justices Andres R. Narvasa and Hugo E.
Gutierrez, Jr., and Senators Joseph E. Estrada
(Replaced by Juan Ponce Enrile) , Neptali A.
Gonzales, Teofisto T. Guingona, Jose Lina, Jr.,
Mamintal A.J. Tamano and Victor S. Ziga.