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Republic of the Philippines Inhibition and their Motion for Reconsideration thereafter a Petition to Recuse and later a

SUPREME COURT Supplemental Petition to Recuse the
Manila same Senators-Members of the Tribunal
On October 9, 1987, the petitioners filed on essentially the same ground. Senator
before the respondent Tribunal an Vicente T. Paterno, another respondent
EN BANC election contest docketed as SET Case in the same contest, thereafter filed his
No. 002-87 against 22 candidates of the comments on both the petitions to
G.R. No. 83767 October 27, 1988 LABAN coalition who were proclaimed recuse and the motion for disqualification
senators-elect in the May 11, 1987 or inhibition. Memoranda on the subject
FIRDAUSI SMAIL ABBAS, congressional elections by the were also filed and oral arguments were
HOMOBONO A. ADAZA, ALEJANDRO Commission on Elections. The heard by the respondent Tribunal, with
D. ALMENDRAS, ABUL KAHYR D. respondent Tribunal was at the time the latter afterwards issuing the
ALONTO, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, composed of three (3) Justices of the Resolutions now complained of.
RENE G. ESPINA, WILSON P. Supreme Court and six (6) Senators,
GAMBOA, ROILO S. GOLEZ, ROMEO namely: Senior Associate Justice Pedro
G. JALOSJOS EVA R. ESTRADA- L. Yap (Chairman). Associate Justices Senator Juan Ponce Enrile in the
KALAW, WENCESLAO R. Andres R. Narvasa and Hugo E. meantime had voluntarily inhibited
LAGUMBAY, VICENTE P. Gutierrez, Jr., and Senators Joseph E. himself from participating in the hearings
MAGSAYSAY, JEREMIAS U. Estrada, Neptali A. Gonzales, Teofisto T. and deliberations of the respondent
MONTEMAYOR, BLAS F. OPLE, Guingona, Jose Lina, Jr., Mamintal A.J. tribunal in both SET Case No. 00287 and
RAFAEL P. PALMARES, ZOSIMO Tamano and Victor S. Ziga. SET Case No. 001-87, the latter being
JESUS M. PAREDES, JR., VICENTE G. another contest filed by Augusto's
PUYAT, EDITH N. RABAT, ISIDRO S. Sanchez against him and Senator
On November 17, 1987, the petitioners, Santanina T. Rasul as alternative
RODRIGUEZ, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, with the exception of Senator Estrada
LORENZO G. TEVES, ARTURO M. respondents, citing his personal
but including Senator Juan Ponce Enrile involvement as a party in the two cases.
TOLENTINO, and FERNANDO R. (who had been designated Member of
VELOSO, petitioners, the Tribunal replacing Senator Estrada,
vs. the latter having affiliated with the Liberal The petitioners, in essence, argue that
THE SENATE ELECTORAL Party and resigned as the Opposition's considerations of public policy and the
TRIBUNAL, respondent. representative in the Tribunal) filed with norms of fair play and due process
the respondent Tribunal a Motion for imperatively require the mass
Disqualification or Inhibition of the disqualification sought and that the
Senators-Members thereof from the doctrine of necessity which they perceive
hearing and resolution of SET Case No. to be the foundation petition of the
questioned Resolutions does not rule out
002-87 on the ground that all of them are
This is a Special Civil Action for certiorari to nullify and interested parties to said case, as a solution both practicable and
set aside the Resolutions of the Senate Electoral Tribunal respondents therein. Before that, constitutionally unobjectionable, namely;
dated February 12, 1988 and May 27, 1988, denying,
Senator Rene A.V. Saguisag, one of the the amendment of the respondent
respectively, the petitioners' Motion for Disqualification or
respondents in the same case, had filed Tribunal's Rules of procedure so as to
permit the contest being decided by only Tribunal which shall be and qualifications of Senators. The
three Members of the Tribunal. the sole judge of all respondent Tribunal correctly stated one
contests relating to the part of this proposition when it held that
The proposed amendment to the election, returns, and said provision "... is a clear expression of
Tribunal's Rules (Section 24)—requiring qualifications of their an intent that all (such) contests ... shall
the concurrence of five (5) members for respective Members. be resolved by a panel or body in which
the adoption of resolutions of whatever Each Electoral Tribunal their (the Senators') peers in that
nature is a proviso that where more than shall be composed of Chamber are represented." 1 The other
four (4) members are disqualified, the nine Members, three of part, of course, is that the constitutional
remaining members shall constitute a whom shall be Justices of provision just as clearly mandates the
quorum, if not less than three (3) the Supreme Court to be participation in the same process of
including one (1) Justice, and may adopt designated by the Chief decision of a representative or
resolutions by majority vote with no Justice, and the representatives of the Supreme Court.
abstentions. Obviously tailored to fit the remaining six shall be
situation created by the petition for Members of the Senate Said intent is even more clearly signalled
disqualification, this would, in the context or the House of by the fact that the proportion of
of that situation, leave the resolution of Representatives, as the Senators to Justices in the prescribed
the contest to the only three Members case may be, who shall membership of the Senate Electoral
who would remain, all Justices of this be chosen on the basis of Tribunal is 2 to 1-an unmistakable
Court, whose disqualification is not proportional indication that the "legislative
sought. representation from the component" cannot be totally excluded
political parties and the from participation in the resolution of
We do not agree with petitioners' thesis parties or organizations senatorial election contests, without
that the suggested device is neither registered under the doing violence to the spirit and intent of
unfeasible nor repugnant to the party-list system the Constitution.
Constitution. We opine that in fact the represented therein. The
most fundamental objection to such senior Justice in the Where, as here, a situation is created
proposal lies in the plain terms and intent Electoral Tribunal hall be which precludes the substitution of any
of the Constitution itself which, in its its Chairman. Senator sitting in the Tribunal by any of
Article VI, Section 17, creates the Senate his other colleagues in the Senate
Electoral Tribunal, ordains its It seems quite clear to us that in thus without inviting the same objections to
composition and defines its jurisdiction providing for a Tribunal to be staffed by the substitute's competence, the
and powers. both Justices of the Supreme Court and proposed mass disqualification, if
Members of the Senate, the Constitution sanctioned and ordered, would leave the
Sec. 17. The Senate and intended that both those "judicial' and Tribunal no alternative but to abandon a
the House of 'legislative' components commonly share duty that no other court or body can
Representatives shall the duty and authority of deciding all perform, but which it cannot lawfully
each have an Electoral contests relating to the election, returns
discharge if shorn of the participation of on any case before said Tribunal. Every
its entire membership of Senators. Member of the Tribunal may, as his
conscience dictates, refrain from
To our mind, this is the overriding participating in the resolution of a case
consideration—that the Tribunal be not where he sincerely feels that his
prevented from discharging a duty which personal interests or biases would stand
it alone has the power to perform, the in the way of an objective and impartial
performance of which is in the highest judgment. What we are merely saying is
public interest as evidenced by its being that in the light of the Constitution, the
expressly imposed by no less than the Senate Electoral Tribunal cannot legally
fundamental law. function as such, absent its entire
membership of Senators and that no
It is aptly noted in the first of the amendment of its Rules can confer on
questioned Resolutions that the framers the three Justices-Members alone the
of the Constitution could not have been power of valid adjudication of a
unaware of the possibility of an election senatorial election contest.
contest that would involve all 24
Senators-elect, six of whom would The charge that the respondent Tribunal
inevitably have to sit in judgment gravely abused its discretion in its
thereon. Indeed, such possibility might disposition of the incidents referred to
surface again in the wake of the 1992 must therefore fail. In the circumstances,
elections when once more, but for the it acted well within law and principle in
last time, all 24 seats in the Senate will dismissing the petition for disqualification
be at stake. Yet the Constitution provides or inhibition filed by herein petitioners.
no scheme or mode for settling such The instant petition for certiorari is
unusual situations or for the substitution DISMISSED for lack of merit.
of Senators designated to the Tribunal
whose disqualification may be sought. SO ORDERED.
Litigants in such situations must simply
place their trust and hopes of vindication
in the fairness and sense of justice of the
Members of the Tribunal. Justices and
Senators, singly and collectively.

Let us not be misunderstood as saying

that no Senator-Member of the Senate
Electoral Tribunal may inhibit or
disqualify himself from sitting in judgment