Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 59

A.M. No.

88-7-1861-RTC October 5, 1988


IN RE: DESIGNATION OF JUDGE RODOLFO U. MANZANO AS MEMBER OF THE ILOCOS NORTE
PROVINCIAL COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE.
PADILLA, J .:
On 4 July 1988, Judge Rodolfo U. Manzano, Executive Judge, RTC, Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Branch 19, sent this
Court a letter which reads:
Hon. Marcelo Fernan Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines Manila
Thru channels: Hon. Leo Medialdea Court Administrator Supreme Court of the Philippines
Sir:
By Executive Order RF6-04 issued on June 21, 1988 by the Honorable Provincial Governor of Ilocos Norte, Hon.
Rodolfo C. Farinas, I was designated as a member of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Committee on Justice created
pursuant to Presidential Executive Order No. 856 of 12 December 1986, as amended by Executive Order No. 326
of June 1, 1988. In consonance with Executive Order RF6-04, the Honorable Provincial Governor of Ilocos Norte
issued my appointment as a member of the Committee. For your ready reference, I am enclosing herewith machine
copies of Executive Order RF6-04 and the appointment.
Before I may accept the appointment and enter in the discharge of the powers and duties of the position as
member of the Ilocos (Norte) Provincial Committee on Justice, may I have the honor to request for the issuance by
the Honorable Supreme Court of a Resolution, as follows:
(1) Authorizing me to accept the appointment and to as assume and discharge the powers and duties attached to
the said position;
(2) Considering my membership in the Committee as neither violative of the Independence of the Judiciary nor a
violation of Section 12, Article VIII, or of the second paragraph of Section .7, Article IX (B), both of the Constitution,
and will not in any way amount to an abandonment of my present position as Executive Judge of Branch XIX,
Regional Trial Court, First Judicial Region, and as a member of the Judiciary; and
(3) Consider my membership in the said Committee as part of the primary functions of an Executive Judge.
May I please be favored soon by your action on this request.
Very respectfully yours,
(Sgd) RODOLFO U. MANZANO Judge
An examination of Executive Order No. 856, as amended, reveals that Provincial/City Committees on Justice are
created to insure the speedy disposition of cases of detainees, particularly those involving the poor and indigent
ones, thus alleviating jail congestion and improving local jail conditions. Among the functions of the Committee
are
3.3 Receive complaints against any apprehending officer, jail warden, final or judge who may be found to have
committed abuses in the discharge of his duties and refer the same to proper authority for appropriate action;
3.5 Recommend revision of any law or regulation which is believed prejudicial to the proper administration of
criminal justice.
It is evident that such Provincial/City Committees on Justice perform administrative functions. Administrative
functions are those which involve the regulation and control over the conduct and affairs of individuals for; their own
welfare and the promulgation of rules and regulations to better carry out the policy of the legislature or such as are
devolved upon the administrative agency by the organic law of its existence (Nasipit Integrated Arrastre and
Stevedoring Services Inc., vs. Tapucar, SP-07599-R, 29 September 1978, Blacks Law Dictionary).
Furthermore, under Executive Order No. 326 amending Executive Order No. 856, it is provided that
Section 6. Supervision.The Provincial/City Committees on Justice shall be under the supervision of the Secretary
of justice Quarterly accomplishment reports shall be submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Justice.
Under the Constitution, the members of the Supreme Court and other courts established by law shag not be
designated to any agency performing quasi- judicial or administrative functions (Section 12, Art. VIII, Constitution).
Considering that membership of Judge Manzano in the Ilocos Norte Provincial Committee on Justice, which
discharges a administrative functions, will be in violation of the Constitution, the Court is constrained to deny his
request.
Former Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando in his concurring opinion in the case of Garcia vs. Macaraig (39 SCRA
106) ably sets forth:
2. While the doctrine of separation of powers is a relative theory not to be enforced with pedantic rigor, the practical
demands of government precluding its doctrinaire application, it cannot justify a member of the judiciary being
required to assume a position or perform a duty non-judicial in character. That is implicit in the principle. Otherwise
there is a plain departure from its command. The essence of the trust reposed in him is to decide. Only a higher
court, as was emphasized by Justice Barredo, can pass on his actuation. He is not a subordinate of an executive or
legislative official, however eminent. It is indispensable that there be no exception to the rigidity of such a norm if
he is, as expected, to be confined to the task of adjudication. Fidelity to his sworn responsibility no less than the
maintenance of respect for the judiciary can be satisfied with nothing less.
This declaration does not mean that RTC Judges should adopt an attitude of monastic insensibility or unbecoming
indifference to Province/City Committee on Justice. As incumbent RTC Judges, they form part of the structure of
government. Their integrity and performance in the adjudication of cases contribute to the solidity of such structure.
As public officials, they are trustees of an orderly society. Even as non-members of Provincial/City Committees on
Justice, RTC judges should render assistance to said Committees to help promote the laudable purposes for which
they exist, but only when such assistance may be reasonably incidental to the fulfillment of their judicial duties.
ACCORDINGLY, the aforesaid request of Judge Rodolfo U. Manzano is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.


Separate Opinions

GUTIERREZ, JR., J ., dissenting:
The Constitution prohibits the designation of members of the judiciary to any agency performing quasi-judicial or
administrative functions (Section 12, Article VIII, Constitution.).
Insofar as the term "quasi-judicial" is concerned, it has a fairly clear meaning and Judges can confidently refrain
from participating in the work of any administrative agency which adjudicates disputes and controversies involving
the rights of parties within its jurisdiction. The issue involved in this case is where to draw the line insofar as
administrative functions are concerned.
"Administrative functions" as used in Section 12 refers to the executive machinery of government and the
performance by that machinery of governmental acts. It refers to the management actions, determinations, and
orders of executive officials as they administer the laws and try to make government effective. There is an element
of positive action, of supervision or control.
Applying the definition given in the opinion of the majority which reads:
Administrative functions are those which involve the regulation and control over the conduct and affairs of
individuals for their own welfare and the promulgation of rules and regulations to better carry out the policy of the
legislature or such as are devolved upon the administrative agency by the organic law of its existence (Nasipit
Integrated Arrastre and Stevedoring Services Inc. v. Tapucar, S.P-07599-R, 29 September 1978, Black's Law
Dictionary. )
we can readily see that membership in the Provincial or City Committee on Justice would not involve any regulation
or control over the conduct and affairs of individuals. Neither will the Committee on Justice promulgate rules and
regulations nor exercise any quasi-legislative functions. Its work is purely advisory. I do not see anything wrong in a
member of the judiciary joining any study group which concentrates on the administration of justice as long as the
group merely deliberates on problems involving the speedy disposition of cases particularly those involving the
poor and needy litigants or detainees, pools the expertise and experiences of the members, and limits itself to
recommendations which may be adopted or rejected by those who have the power to legislate or administer the
particular function involved in their implementation.
We who are Judges cannot operate in a vacuum or in a tight little world of our own. The administration of justice
cannot be pigeonholed into neat compartments with Judges, Fiscals, Police, Wardens, and various other officials
concerned erecting water-tight barriers against one another and limiting our interaction to timidly peeping over
these unnecessary and impractical barriers into one another's work, all the while blaming the Constitution for such
a quixotic and unreal interpretation. As intimated in the majority opinion, we should not be monastically insensible
or indifferent to projects or movements cogitating on possible solutions to our common problems of justice and
afterwards forwarding their findings to the people, public or private, where these findings would do the most good.
The majority opinion suggests the giving of assistance by Judges to the work of the Committees on Justice.
Assistance is a vague term. Can Judges be designated as observers? Advisers? Consultants? Is it the act of being
"designated" which is proscribed by the Constitution or is it participation in the prohibited functions? If judges
cannot become members, why should they be allowed or even encouraged to assist these Committees The line
drawn by the majority is vague and unrealistic.
The constitutional provision is intended to shield Judges from participating in activities which may compromise their
independence or hamper their work. Studying problems involving the administration of justice and arriving at purely
recommendatory solutions do not in any way involve the encroachment of. the judiciary into executive or legislative
functions or into matters which are none of its concerns. Much less is it an encroachment of the other departments
into judicial affairs.
As the visible representation of the law and of justice in his community, the Judge should not shy away from public
activities which do not interfere with the prompt and proper performance of his office, but which, in fact, enhance
his effectiveness as a Judge. He cannot stop mingling in civic intercourse or shut himself into solitary seclusion.
The Committees on Justice will also be immensely benefited by the presence of Judges in the study groups. The
work of the Committees is quite important. Let it not be said that the Judges the officials most concerned with
justice have hesitated to join in such a worthy undertaking because of a strained interpretation of their functions.
It is well for this Court to be generally cautious, conservative or restrictive when it interprets provisions of the
Constitution or statutes vesting us with powers or delimit the exercise of our jurisdiction and functions. However, we
should not overdo it. The basic principles of constitutional interpretation apply as well to the provisions which define
or circumscribe our powers and functions as they do to the provisions governing the other dependents of
government. The Court should not adopt a strained construction which impairs its own efficiency to meet the
responsibilities brought about by the changing times and conditions of society. The familiar quotation is apt in this
caseconstitutional provisions are interpreted by the spirit which vivifies and not by the letter which killeth.
I, therefore, dissent from the majority opinion and vote to allow Judge Rodolfo U.
Fernan C.J., Narvasa and Grio-Aquino, JJ., join in Gutierrez dissent.
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J ., dissenting:
I hesitate to give such a restrictive and impractical interpretation to Section 12, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution,
and thus join the dissent of Justice Gutierrez, Jr.
What I believe is contemplated by the Constitutional prohibition is designation, for example, to such quasi-judicial
bodies as the SEC, or administrative agencies like the BIR. Those are full-time positions involving running the
affairs of government, which will interfere with the discharge of judicial functions or totally remove a Judge/Justice
from the performance of his regular functions.
The Committee on Justice cannot be likened to such an administrative agency of government. It is a study group
with recommendatory functions. In fact, membership by members of the Bench in said committee is called for by
reason of the primary functions of their position.
The matter of supervision by the Secretary of Justice provided for under E.O. No. 326 amending E.O. No. 856,
need not be a cause for concern. That supervision is confined to Committee work and will by no means extend to
the performance of judicial functions per se.
Manzano to become a member of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Committee on Justice.


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 functi on. 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.
G.R. No. L-38025 August 20, 1979
DANTE O. CASIBANG, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE NARCISO A. AQUINO, Judge of the Court of First
Instance of Pangasinan, Branch XIV, and REMEGIO P. YU, respondents.
Nicanor & Bautista and Agaton D. Yaranon for petitioner.
Bince, Sevilleja, Agsalud & Associates for respondents.

MAKASIAR, J .:
Respondent Remigio P. Yu was proclaimed on November 9, 1971 as the elected Mayor of Rosales, Pangasinan in
the 1971 local elections, by a plurality of 501 votes over his only rival, herein petitioner, who seasonably filed on
November 24, 1971 a protest against the election of the former with the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, on
the grounds of (1) anomalies and irregularities in the appreciation, counting and consideration of votes in specified
electoral precincts; (2) terrorism; (3) rampant vote buying; (4) open voting or balloting; and (5) excessive campaign
expenditures and other violations of the 1971 Election Code.
Respondent Yu filed on November 29, 1971 his answer and counter-protest which petitioner answered on
December 10, 1971. However, respondent Yu withdrew his counter-protest after waiving the opening and revision
of the ballot boxes specified therein.
Proceedings therein continued with respect to the election protest of petitioner before the Court of First Instance of
Pangasinan, Branch XIV, presided by respondent Judge, who initially took cognizance of the same as it is
unquestionably a justiciable controversy.
In the meantime or on September 21, 1972, the incumbent President of the Republic of the Philippines issued
Proclamation No. 1081, placing the entire country under Martial Law; and two months thereafter, more or less, or
specifically on November 29, 1972, the 1971 Constitutional Convention passed and approved a Constitution to
supplant the 1935 Constitution; and the same was thereafter overwhelmingly ratified by the sovereign people of the
Republic of the Philippines on January 17, 1973; and on March 31, 1973, this Court declared that "there is no
further judicial obstacle to the new Constitution being considered in force and effect" (Javellana vs. Executive
Secretary, 50 SCRA 30 [1973]).
Thereafter or on October 10, 1973, at which time petitioner had already completed presenting his evidence and in
fact had rested his case, respondent Yu moved to dismiss the election protest of petitioner on the ground that the
trial court had lost jurisdiction over the same in view of the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution by reason of which
principally) Section 9 of Article XVII [Transitory Provisions] and Section 2 of Article XI a political question has
intervened in the case. Respondent Yu contended that "... the provisions in the 1935 Constitution relative to all
local governments have been superseded by the 1973 Constitution. Therefore, all local government should adhere
to our parliamentary form of government. This is clear in the New Constitution under its Article XI." He further
submitted that local elective officials (including mayors) have no more four-year term of office. They are only in
office at the pleasure of the appointing power embodied in the New Constitution, and under Section 9 of Article
XVII.
Petitioner vigorously opposed the motion to dismiss, and, relying mainly on Sections 7 and 8 of Article XVII
(Transitory Provisions) of the New Constitution and G.O. No. 3, contended that the New Constitution did not divest
the Court of First Instance of its jurisdiction to hear and decide election protests pending before them at the time of
its ratification and effectivity; that the ratification of the New Constitution and its effectivity did not automatically
abolish the office and position of municipal mayor nor has it automatically cut short the tenure of the office, so as to
render the issue as to who is the lawfully elected candidate to said office or position moot and academic; that
election protests involve public interest such that the same must be heard until terminated and may not be
dismissed on mere speculation that the office involved may have been abolished, modified or reorganized; and that
the motion to dismiss was filed manifestly for delay.
Respondent Yu replied pointing out, among others, that petitioner failed to refute the issue of political question; and
reiterated his stand, expanding his arguments on the political question, thus:
It is an undeniable fact that this case has its source from the 1971 elections for municipal mayoralty. Unsatisfied
with the counting of votes held by the Board of Canvassers, the herein protestant filed this present case. And
before the termination of the same and pending trial, the Filipino people in the exercise of their free will and
sovereign capacity approved a NEW CONSTITUTION, thus a NEW FORM OF GOVERNMENT-PARLIAMENTARY
IN FORM was enforced. We find this provision under Article XI of the New Constitution, which provides:
SEC. 2. The National Assembly shall enact a local government code which may not thereafter be amended except
by a majority vote of all its members, defining a more responsive and accountable local government structure with
an effective system of recall, allocating among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities,
and resources, and providing for the qualifications, election and removal, term, salaries, powers, functions, and
duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units. However,
any change in the existing form of local government shall not take effect until ratified by a majority of the votes cast
in a plebiscite called for the purpose.
It is respectfully submitted that the contention of the protestant to the effect that the New Constitution "shows that
the office of the Municipal Mayor has not been abolished ... ," is not ACCURATE. Otherwise, the provisions of
Section 9 of Article XVII, is meaningless.
All officials and employees in the existing Government of the Republic shall continue in office until otherwise
provided by law or decreed by the incumbent President of the Philippines, ...
In the above-quoted provision is the protection of the officials and employees working in our government,
otherwise, by the force of the New Constitution they are all out of the government offices. In fact, in the case
above-cited (Javellana) we are all performing our duties in accordance with the New Constitution.
Therefore, election cases of the 1935 Constitution being interwoven in the political complexion of our new
Constitution should be dismissed because only those incumbent official and employees existing in the new
government are protected by the transitional provisions of the New Fundamental Law of the Land. The protestant,
we respectfully submit, is not covered by the provisions of Section 9 Article XVII of the Constitution. And in case he
will win in this present case he has no right to hold the position of mayor of the town of Rosales, Pangasinan,
because he was not then an official of the government at the time the New Constitution was approved by the
Filipino People. His right if proclaimed a winner is derived from the 1935 Constitution which is changed by the
Filipino people.
On December 18, 1973, the trial court, presided by respondent Judge, sustained the political question theory of
respondent Yu and ordered the dismissal of the electoral protest. Thus:
There is no dispute that the Filipino people have accepted and submitted to a new Constitution to replace the 1935
Constitution, and that we are now living under its aegis and protection. ...
xxx xxx xxx
Under Section 9, Article XVII, of the new Constitution, above-quoted, only those officials and employees of the
existing Government of the Republic of the Philippines like the protestee herein, are given protection and are
authorized to continue in office at the pleasure of the incumbent President of the Philippines, while under Section 2
of Article XI of the new Constitution, also above-quoted, the intention of completely revamp the whole local
government structure, providing for different qualifications, election and removal, term, salaries, powers, functions,
and duties, is very clear. These present questions of policy, the necessity and expediency of which are outside the
range of judicial review. With respect to the fate of incumbent oficials and employees in the existing Government of
the Republic of the Philippines, as well as to the qualifications, election and removal, term of office, salaries, and
powers of all local officials under the parliamentary form of government these have been entrusted or delegated
by the sovereign people or has reserved it to be settled by the incumbent Chief Executive or by the National
Assembly with full discretionary authority therefor. As if to supplement these delegated powers, the people have
also decreed in a referendum the suspension of all elections. Thus, in the United States, questions relating to what
persons or organizations constituted the lawful government of a state of the Union (Luther vs. Borden, 7 How. 1,
12, L. Ed 58), and those relating to the political status of a state (Highland Farms Dairy vs. Agnew, 57 S. et 549,
300 U.S. 608, 81 L.ed 835), have been held to be political and for the judiciary to determine.
To the mind of the Court, therefore, the ratification and effectivity of the new Constitution has tainted this case with
a political complexion above and beyond the power of judicial review. As fittingly commented by Mr. Justice
Antonio in a separate opinion in the Javellana, et al. cases, 69 0. G. No. 36, September 3, 1973, p. 8008:
The essentially political nature of the question is at once manifest by understanding that in the final analysis, what
is assailed is not merely the validity of Proclamation No. 1102 of the President, which is merely declaratory of the
fact of the approval or ratification, but the legitimacy of the government. It is addressed more to the frame-work and
political character of this government which now functions under the new Charter. It seeks to nullify a Constitution
that is already effective. In other words, where a complete change in the fundamental law has been effected
through political action, the Court whose existence is affected by such a change is, in the words of Mr. Meville
Fuller Weston "precluded from passing upon the fact of change by a logical difficulty which is not to be surmounted
as the change relates to the existence of a prior point in the Court's "chain of title" to its authority and "does not
relate merely to a question of the horizontal distribution of powers." It involves a matter which 'the sovereign has
entrusted to the so-called political departments or has reserved to be settled by its own extra-governmental action."
The present Government functions under the new Constitution which has become effective through political action.
Judicial power presupposes an established government and an effective constitution. If it decides at all as a court,
it necessarily affirms the existence and authority of the Government under which it is exercising judicial power.
The Court is not unaware of provisions of the new Constitution, particularly Sections 7 and 8, Article XVII
(Transitory Provisions) decreeing that all existing laws not inconsistent with the new Constitution shall remain
operative until amended, modified, or repealed by the National Assembly, and that all courts existing at the time of
the ratification of the said new Constitution shall continue and exercise their jurisdiction until otherwise provided by
law in accordance with the new Constitution, and all cases pending in said courts shall be heard, tried and
determined under the laws then in force. Again, to the mind of the Court, these refer to matters raised in the
enforcement of existing laws or in the invocation of a court's jurisdiction which have not been "entrusted to the so-
called political department or has reserved to be settled by its own extra governmental action.
Hence, this petition.
We reverse.
The thrust of the aforesaid political question theory of respondent Yu is that the 1973 Constitution, through Section
9 of Article XVII thereof, protected only those incumbents, like him, at the time of its ratification and effectivity and
are the only ones authorized to continue in office and their term of office as extended now depends on the pleasure
of, as the same has been entrusted or committed to, the incumbent President of the Philippines or the Legislative
Department; and that Section 2 of Article XI thereof entrusted to the National Assembly the revamp of the entire
local government structure by the enactment of a local government code, thus presenting a question of policy, the
necessity and expediency of which are outside the range of judicial review. In short, for the respondent Judge to
still continue assuming jurisdiction over the pending election protest of petitioner is for him to take cognizance of a
question or policy "in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the Legislative or Executive
branch of the government."
I
There is an imperative need to re-state pronouncements of this Court on the new Constitution which are decisive in
the resolution of the political question theory of respondent Yu.
WE ruled:
1. That Section 9 of Article XVII of the 1973 Constitution did not render moot and academic pending election
protest cases (Santos vs. Castaeda, 65 SCRA 114 [1975]; Euipilag vs. Araula, 60 SCRA 211 [1974]; Nunez vs.
Averia, 57 SCRA 726 [1974]; Parades vs. Abad, L-36927, Sunga vs. Mosueda, L-37715, Valley vs. Caro, L-38331,
56 SCRA 522, [1974]).
2. That "the constitutional grant of privilege to continue in office, made by the new Constitution for the benefit of
persons who were incumbent officials or employees of the Government when the new Constitution took effect,
cannot be fairly construed as indiscriminately encompassing every person who at the time happened to be
performing the duties of an elective office, albeit under protest or contest" and that "subject to the constraints
specifically mentioned in Section 9, Article XVII of the Transitory Provisions, it neither was, nor could have been the
intention of the framers of our new fundamental law to disregard and shunt aside the statutory right of a condidate
for elective position who, within the time-frame prescribed in the Election Code of 1971, commenced proceedings
beamed mainly at the proper determination in a judicial forum of a proclaimed candidate-elect's right to the
contested office."' (Santos vs. Castaeda, supra); and We rationalized that "the Constitutional Convention could not
have intended, as in fact it .did not intend, to shielf or protect those who had been unduly elected. To hold that the
right of the herein private respondents to the respective offices which they are now holding, may no longer be
subject to question, would be tantamount to giving a stamp of approval to what could have been an election victory
characterized by fraud, threats, intimidation, vote buying, or other forms of irregularities prohibited by the Election
Code to preserve inviolate the sanctity of the ballot." (Parades, Sunga and Valley cases, supra).
3. That "the right of the private respondents (protestees) to continue in office indefinitely arose not only by virtue of
Section 9 of Article XVII of the New Constitution but principally from their having been proclaimed elected to their
respective positions as a result of the November 8, 1971 elections. Therefore, if in fact and in law, they were not
duly elected to their respective positions and consequently, have no right to hold the same, perform their functions,
enjoy their privileges and emoluments, then certainly, they should not be allowed to enjoy the indefinite term of
office given to them by said constitutional provision" (Parades, Sunga and Valley cases, supra).
4. That "until a subsequent law or presidential decree provides otherwise, the right of respondent (protestee) to
continue as mayor rests on the legality of his election which has been protested by herein petitioner. Should the
court decide adversely against him the electoral protest, respondent (protestee) would cease to be mayor even
before a law or presidential decree terminates his tenure of office pursuant to said Section 9 of Article XVII of the
1973 Constitution" (Euipilag, supra).
5. That "there is a difference between the 'term' of office and the 'right' to hold an office. A 'term' of office is the
period during winch an elected officer or appointee is entitled to hold office, perform its functions and enjoy its
privileges and emoluments. A 'right' to hold a public office is the just and legal claim to hold and enjoy the powers
and responsibilities of the office. In other words, the 'term' refers to the period, duration of length of time during
which the occupant of an office is .entitled to stay therein whether such period be definite or indefinite. Hence,
although Section 9, Article XVII of the New Constitution made the term of the petitioners indefinite, it did not
foreclose any challenge by the herein petitioners, in an election protest, of the 'right' of the private respondents to
continue holding their respective office. What has been directly affected by said constitutional provision is the 'term'
to the office, although the 'right' of the incumbent to an office which he is legally holding is co-extensive with the
'term' thereof," and that "it is erroneous to conclude that under Section 9, Article XVII of the New Constitution, the
term of office of the private respondents expired, and that they are now holding their respective offices under a new
term. We are of the opinion that they hold their respective offices still under the term to which they have been
elected, although the same is now indefinite" (Parades, Sunga and Valley cases, supra).
6. That the New Constitution recognized the continuing jurisdiction of courts of first instance to hear, try and decide
election protests: "Section 7 of Article XVII of the New Constitution provides that 'all existing laws not inconsistent
with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, modified or repealed by the National Assembly. 'And
there has been no amendment, modification or repeal of Section 220 of the Election Code of 1971 which gave the
herein petitioners the right to file an election contest against those proclaimed elected," and "according to Section
8, Article XVII of the New Constitution 'all courts existing at the time of the ratification of this Constitution shall
continue and exercise their jurisdiction until otherwise provided by law in accordance with this Constitution, and all
cases pending in said courts shall be heard, tried and determined under the laws then in force.' Consequently, the
Courts of First Instance presided over by the respondent-Judges should continue and exercise their jurisdiction to
hear, try and decide the election protests filed by herein petitioners" (Santos, Euipilag, Nunez, Parades, Sunga and
Valley cases, supra).
While under the New Constitution the Commission on Elections is now the sole judge of all contests relating to the
elections, returns, and qualifications of members of the National Assembly as well as elective provincial and city
officials (par. 2 of Sec. 2, Article XII-C of the 1973 Constitution), such power does not extend to electoral contests
concerning municipal elective positions.
7. That General Order No. 3, issued by the President of the Philippines merely reiterated his powers under Section
9 of Article XVII of the New Constitution. The President did not intend thereby to modify the aforesaid constitutional
provision (Euipilag, supra).
General Order No. 3, as amended by General Order No. 3-A, does not expressly include electoral contests of
municipal elective positions as among those removed from the jurisdiction of the courts; for said General Order,
after affirming the jurisdiction of the Judiciary to decide in accordance with the existing laws on criminal and ci vil
cases, simply removes from the jurisdiction of the Civil Court certain crimes specified therein as well as the validity,
legality or constitutionality of any decree, order or acts issued by the President or his duly designated
representative or by public servants pursuant to his decrees and orders issued under Proclamation No. 1081.
8. That General Order No. 3 may not be invoked by the courts to avoid exercise of their jurisdiction because to do
co "is nothing short of unwarranted abdication of judicial', authority, which no judge duly imbued with the
implications of the paramount principle of independence of the judiciary should ever think of doing. It is unfortunate
indeed that respondent Judge is apparently unaware that it is a matter of highly significant historical fact that this
Court has always deemed General Order No. 3 including its amendment by General Order No. 3-A as practically
inoperative even in the light of Proclamation No. 1081 of September 21, 1972 and Proclamation No. 1104 of
January 17, 1973, placing the whole Philippines under martial law. While the members of the Court are not agreed
on whether or not particular instances of attack against the validity of certain Presidential decrees raise political
questions which the Judiciary would not interfere with, there is unanimity among Us in the view that it is for the
Court rather than the Executive to determine whether or not We may take cognizance of any given case involving
the validity of acts of the Executive Department purportedly under the authority of the martial law proclamations"
(Lina vs. Purisima, 3 PHILAJUR 605, 610-611, 82 SCRA 344 [1978]).
II
1. In the light of the foregoing pronouncements, We hold that the electoral protest case herein involved has
remained a justiciable controversy. No political question has ever been interwoven into this case. Nor is there any
act of the incumbent President or the Legislative Department to be indirectly reviewed or interfered with if the
respondent Judge decides the election protest. The term "political question" connotes what it means in ordinary
parlance, namely, a question of policy. 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
legality, of a particular measure" (Taada vs. Cuenco, L-1052, Feb. 28, 1957). A broader definition was advanced
by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brennan in Baker vs. Carr (369 U.S. 186 [1962]): "Prominent on the surface of any
case held to involve a political question is found a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to
a coordinate political department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; or
the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion; or the
impossibility of a court's undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of respect due coordinate
branches of the government; or an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made;
or the potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question"
(p. 217). And Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando, then an Associate Justice, of this Court fixed the limits of the
term, thus: "The term has been made applicable to controversies clearly non-judicial and therefore beyond its
jurisdiction or to an issue involved in a case appropriately subject to its cognizance, as to which there has been a
prior legislative or executive determination to which deference must be paid (Cf. Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil. 192
[1946]; Lopez vs. Roxas, L-25716, July 28, 1966, 17 SCRA 756; Gonzales vs. Commission on Elections, L-28196,
Nov. 9, 1967, 21 SCRA 774). It 'has likewise been employed loosely to characterize a suit where the party
proceeded against is the President or Congress, or any branch thereof (Cf. Planas vs. Gil, 67 Phil. 62 [1937]; Vera
vs. Avelino, 77 Phil. 192 [1946]). If to be delimited with accuracy; 'political questions' should refer to such as would
under the Constitution be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity or in regard to which full discretionary
authority is vested either in the President or Congress. It is thus beyond the competence of the judiciary to pass
upon. ..." (Lansang vs. Garcia, 42 SCRA 448, 504-505 [1971]).
2. The only issue in the electoral protest case dismissed by respondent Judge on the ground of political question is
who between protestant herein petitioner and protestee herein respondent Yu was the duly elected
mayor of Rosales, Pangasinan, and legally entitled to enjoy the rights, privileges and emoluments appurtenant
thereto and to discharge the functions, duties and obligations of the position. If the protestee's election is upheld by
the respondent Judge, then he continues in office; otherwise, it is the protestant, herein petitioner. That is the only
consequence of a resolution of the issue therein involved a purely justiciable question or controversy as it
implies a given right, legally demandable and enforceable, an act or ommission violative of said right, and a
remedy, granted or sanctioned by law, for said breach of right (Tan vs. Republic, 107 Phil. 632-633 [1960]). Before
and after the ratification and effectivity of the New Constitution, the nature of the aforesaid issue as well as the
consequences of its resolution by the Court, remains the same as above-stated.
3. Any judgment to be made on that issue will not in any way collide or interfere with the mandate of Section 9 of
Article XVII of the New Constitution, as it will merely resolve who as between protestant and protestee is the duly
elected mayor of Rosales, Pangasinan; hence, entitled to enjoy the extended term as mandated by said provision
of the New Constitution. As construed by this Court, the elective officials referred to in Section 9 of Article XVII are
limited to those duly elected as the right to said extended term was not personal to whosoever was incumbent at
the time of the ratification and effectivity of the New Constitution. Nor would such judgment preempt, collide or
interfere with the power or discretion entrusted by the New Constitution to the incumbent President or the
Legislative Department, with respect to the extended term of the duly elected incumbents; because whoever
between protestant and protestee is declared the duly elected mayor will be subject always to whatever action the
President or the Legislative Department will take pursuant thereto.
4. Neither does Section 2 of Article XI stigmatize the issue in that electoral protest case with a political color. For
simply, that section allocated unto the National Assembly the power to enact a local government code "which may
not thereafter be amended except by a majority of all its Members, defining a more responsive and accountable
local government allocating among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and
resources, and providing for their qualifications, election and removal, term, salaries, powers, functions and duties
of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units" but "... any
change in the existing form of local government shall not take effect until ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a
plebiscite called for the purpose." It is apparent at once that such power committed by the New Constitution to the
National Assembly will not be usurped or preempted by whatever ruling or judgment the respondent Judge will
render in the electoral protest case. Whoever will prevail in that contest will enjoy the indefinite term of the disputed
office of mayor of Rosales, Pangasinan in the existing set-up of local government in this country; subject always to
whatever change or modification the National Assembly will introduce when it will enact the local government code.
III
The construction made by respondent Judge of Sections 7 and 8 of Article XVII of the New Constitution "... that
these refer to matters raised in the enforcement of existing laws or in the invocation of a court's jurisdiction which
have not been 'entrusted to the so-called political department or reserved to be settled by its own extra-
governmental action,"' strained as it is, cannot be sustained in view of the result herein reached on the issue of
political question as well as Our previous pronouncements as above restated on the same Sections 7 and 8 of the
New Constitution.
WHEREFORE, RESPONDENT COURT'S ORDER OF DISMISSAL IS HEREBY SET ASIDE AND THE
RESPONDENT COURT IS DIRECTED TO IMMEDIATELY PROCEED WITH THE TRIAL AND DETERMINATION
OF THE ELECTION PROTEST BEFORE IT ON THE MERITS. THIS DECISION SHALL BE IMMEDIATELY
EXECUTORY UPON PROMULGATION HEREOF. NO COSTS.
Teehankee (Chairman), Fernandez, Guerrero, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ,, concur.

G.R. No. L-10520 February 28, 1957
LORENZO M. TAADA and DIOSDADO MACAPAGAL, petitioners, vs. MARIANO JESUS CUENCO,
FRANCISCO A. DELGADO, ALFREDO CRUZ, CATALINA CAYETANO, MANUEL SERAPIO, PLACIDO
REYES, and FERNANDO HIPOLITO in his capacity as cashier and disbursing officer, respondents.
Taada, Teehankee and Macapagal for petitioners. Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and Solicitor
Troadio T. Quiazon, Jr. for respondents.
CONCEPCION, J .:
Petitioner Lorenzo M. Taada is a member of the Senate of the Philippines, and President of the Citizens Party,
whereas petitioner Diosdado Macapagal, a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, was one of
the official candidates of the Liberal Party for the Senate, at the General elections held in November, 1955, in
which Pacita Madrigal Warns, Lorenzo Sumulong, Quintin Paredes, Francisco Rodrigo, Pedro Sabido, Claro M.
Recto, Domocao Alonto and Decoroso Rosales, were proclaimed elected. Subsequently, the elections of this
Senators-elect-who eventually assumed their respective seats in the Senate-was contested by petitioner
Macapagal, together with Camilo Osias, Geronima Pecson, Macario Peralta, Enrique Magalona, Pio Pedrosa and
William Chiongbian-who had, also, run for the Senate, in said election-in Senate Electoral Case No. 4, now
pending before the Senate Electoral Tribunal. .
The Senate, in its session of February 22, 1956, upon nomination of Senator Cipriano Primicias, on behalf of the
Nacionalista Party, chose Senators Jose P. Laurel, Fernando Lopez and Cipriano Primicias, as members of the
Senate Electoral Tribunal. Upon nomination of petitioner Senator Taada, on behalf of the Citizens Party, said
petitioner was next chosen by the Senate as member of said Tribunal. Then, upon nomination of Senator Primicias
on behalf of the Committee on Rules of the Senate, and over the objections of Senators Taada and Sumulong,
the Senate choose respondents Senators Mariano J. Cuenco and Francisco A. Delgado as members of the same
Electoral Tribunal. Subsequently, the Chairman of the latter appointed: (1) Alfredo Cruz and Catalina Cayetano, as
technical assistant and private secretary, respectively, to Senator Cuenco, as supposed member of the Senate
Electoral Tribunal, upon his recommendation of said respondent; and (2) Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes, as
technical assistant and private secretary, respectively to Senator Delgado, as supposed member of said Electoral
Tribunal, and upon his recommendation.
Soon, thereafter, Senator Lorenzo M. Taada and Congressman Diosdado Macapagal instituted the case at bar
against Senators Cuenco and Delgado, and said Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido
Reyes, as well as Fernando Hipolito, in his capacity as Cashier and Disbursing Officer of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal. Petitioners allege that on February 22, 1956, as well as at present, the Senate consists of 23 Senators
who belong to the Nacionalista Party, and one (1) Senator-namely, petitioner, Lorenzo M. Taada-belonging to the
Citizens Party; that the Committee on Rules for the Senate, in nominating Senators Cuenco and Delgado, and the
Senate, in choosing these respondents, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, had "acted absolutely
without power or color of authority and in clear violation .. of Article VI, Section 11 of the Constitution"; that "in
assuming membership in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, by taking the corresponding oath of office therefor", said
respondents had "acted absolutely without color of appointment or authority and are unlawfully, and in violation of
the Constitution, usurping, intruding into and exercising the powers of members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal";
that, consequently, the appointments of respondents, Cruz, Cayetano, Serapio and Reyes, as technical assistants
and private secretaries to Senators Cuenco and Delgado-who caused said appointments to be made-as members
of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, are unlawful and void; and that Senators Cuenco and Delgado "are threatening
and are about to take cognizance of Electoral Case No. 4 of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, as alleged members
thereof, in nullification of the rights of petitioner Lorenzo M. Taada, both as a Senator belonging to the Citizens
Party and as representative of the Citizens Party in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and in deprivation of the
constitutional rights of petitioner Diosdado Macapagal and his co-protestants to have their election protest tried and
decided-by an Electoral Tribunal composed of not more than three (3) senators chosen by the Senate upon
nomination of the party having the largest number of votes in the Senate and not more than the (3) Senators upon
nomination of the Party having the second largest number of votes therein, together, three (3) Justice of the
Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice, instead of by an Electoral Tribunal packed with five members
belonging to the Nacionalista Party, which is the rival party of the Liberal Party, to which the Petitioner Diosdado
Macapagal and his co-protestants in Electoral Case No. 4 belong, the said five (5) Nacionalista Senators having
been nominated and chosen in the manner alleged.. hereinabove.".
Petitioners pray that:.
"1. Upon petitioners' filing of bond in such amount as may be determined by this Honorable Court, a writ of
preliminary injunction be immediately issued directed to respondents Mariano J. Cuenco, Francisco A. Delgado,
Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes, restraining them from continuing to usurp,
intrude into and/ or hold or exercise the said public offices respectively being occupied by them in the Senate
Electoral Tribunal, and to respondent Fernando Hipolito restraining him from paying the salaries of respondent
Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes, pending this action.
"2. After hearing, judgment be rendered ousting respondent Mariano J. Cuenco Francisco A. Delgado, Alfredo
Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes from the aforementioned public offices in the Senate
Electoral Tribunal and that they be altogether excluded therefrom and making the Preliminary injunction
permanent, with costs against the respondents.".
Respondents have admitted the main allegations of fact in the petition, except insofar as it questions the legality,
and validity of the election of respondents Senators Cuenco and Delgado, as members of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal, and of the appointment of respondent Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido
Reyes as technical assistants and private secretaries to said respondents Senators. Respondents, likewise, allege,
by way of special and affirmative defenses, that: (a) this Court is without power, authority of jurisdiction to direct or
control the action of the Senate in choosing the members of the Electoral Tribunal; and (b) that the petition states
no cause of action, because "petitioner Taada has exhausted his right to nominate after he nominated himself and
refused to nominate two (2) more Senators", because said petitioner is in estoppel, and because the present action
is not the proper remedy. .
I. Respondents assail our jurisdiction to entertain the petition, upon the ground that the power to choose six (6)
Senators as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal has been expressly conferred by the Constitution upon the
Senate, despite the fact that the draft submitted to the constitutional convention gave to the respective political
parties the right to elect their respective representatives in the Electoral Commission provided for in the original
Constitution of the Philippines, and that the only remedy available to petitioners herein "is not in the judicial forum",
but "to bring the matter to the bar of public opinion.".
We cannot agree with the conclusion drawn by respondents from the foregoing facts. To begin with, unlike the
cases of Alejandrino vs. Quezon (46 Phil., 83) and Vera vs. Avelino (77 Phil., 192)-relied upon by the respondents
this is not an action against the Senate, and it does not seek to compel the latter, either directly or indirectly, to
allow the petitioners to perform their duties as members of said House. Although the Constitution provides that the
Senate shall choose six (6) Senators to be members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, the latter is part neither of
Congress nor of the Senate. (Angara vs. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil., 139, Suanes vs. Chief Accountant, 81
Phil., 818; 46 Off. Gaz., 462.).
Secondly, although the Senate has, under the Constitution, the exclusive power to choose the Senators who shall
form part of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, the fundamental law has prescribed the manner in which the authority
shall be exercised. As the author of a very enlightening study on judicial self-limitation has aptly put it:.
"The courts are called upon to say, on the one hand, by whom certain powers shall be exercised, and on the other
hand, to determine whether the powers possessed have been validly exercised. In performing the latter function,
they do not encroach upon the powers of a coordinate branch of the, government, since the determination of the
validity of an act is not the same, thing as the performance of the act. In the one case we are seeking to ascertain
upon whom devolves the duty of the particular service. In the other case we are merely seeking to determine
whether the Constitution has been violated by anything done or attented by either an executive official or the
legislative." (Judicial Self-Limitation by Finkelstein, pp. 221, 224, 244, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 39; emphasis
supplied,).
The case of Suanes vs. Chief Accountant (supra) cited by respondent refutes their own pretense. This Court
exercised its jurisdiction over said case and decided the same on the merits thereof, despite the fact that it involved
an inquiry into the powers of the Senate and its President over the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the personnel
thereof. .
Again, under the Constitution, "the legislative power" is vested exclusively in the Congress of the Philippines. Yet,
this does not detract from the power of the courts to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress 1 And,
since judicial power includes the authority to inquire into the legality of statutes enacted by the two Houses of
Congress, and approved by the Executive, there can be no reason why the validity of an act of one of said Houses,
like that of any other branch of the Government, may not be determined in the proper actions. Thus, in the exercise
of the so-called "judicial supremacy", this Court declared that a resolution of the defunct National Assembly could
not bar the exercise of the powers of the former Electoral Commission under the original Constitution. 2 (Angara
vs. Electoral Commission, supra), and annulled certain acts of the Executive 3 as incompatible with the
fundamental law.
In fact, whenever the conflicting claims of the parties to a litigation cannot properly be settled without inquiring into
the validity of an act of Congress or of either House thereof, the courts have, not only jurisdiction to pass upon said
issue, but, also, the duty to do so, which cannot be evaded without violating the fundamental law and paving the
way to its eventual destruction. 4.
Neither are the cases of Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito (78 Phil., 1) and Cabili vs. Francisco (88 Phil., 654), likewise,
invoked by respondents, in point. In the Mabanag case, it was held that the courts could not review the finding of
the Senate to the effect that the members thereof who had been suspended by said House should not be
considered in determining whether the votes cast therein, in favor of a resolution proposing an amendment to the
Constitution, sufficed to satisfy the requirements of the latter, such question being a political one. The weight of this
decision, as a precedent, has been weakened, however, by our resolutions in Avelino vs. Cuenco (83 Phil., 17), in
which this Court proceeded to determine the number essential to constitute a quorum in the Senate. Besides, the
case at bar does not hinge on the number of votes needed for a particular act of said body. The issue before us is
whether the Senate-after acknowledging that the Citizens Party is the party, having the second largest number of
votes in the Senate, to which party the Constitution gives the right to nominate three (3) Senators for the Senate
electoral Tribunal-could validly choose therefor two (2) Nacionalista Senators, upon nomination by the floor leader
of the Nacionalista Party in the Senate, Senator Primicias claiming to act on behalf of the Committee on Rules for
the Senate.
The issue in the Cabili case was whether we could review a resolution of the Senate reorganizing its representation
in the Commission on Appointments. This was decided in the negative, upon the authority of Alejandrino vs.
Quezon (supra) and Vera vs. Avelino (supra), the main purpose of the petition being "to force upon the Senate the
reinstatement of Senator Magalona in the Commission on Appointments," one-half (1/2) of the members of which is
to be elected by each House on the basis of proportional representation of the political parties therein. Hence, the
issue depended mainly on the determination of the political alignment of the members of the Senate at the time of
said reorganization and of the necessity or advisability of effecting said reorganization, which is a political question.
We are not called upon, in the case at bar, to pass upon an identical or similar question, it being conceded,
impliedly, but clearly, that the Citizens Party is the party with the second largest number of votes in the Senate. The
issue, therefore, is whether a right vested by the Constitution in the Citizens Party may validly be exercised, either
by the Nacionalista Party, or by the Committee on Rules for the Senate, over the objection of said Citizens Party.
x x x x x x x x x
The only ground upon which respondents' objection to the jurisdiction of this Court and their theory to the effect that
the proper remedy for petitioners herein is, not the present action, but an appeal to public opinion, could possibly
be entertained is, therefore, whether the case at bar raises merely a political question, not one justiciable in nature.
In this connection, respondents assert in their answer that "the remedy of petitioners is not in the judicial forum,
but, to use petitioner, Taada's own words, to bring the matter to the bar of public opinion' (p. 81, Discussion on the
Creation of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, February 21, 1956)." This allegation may give the impression that said
petitioner had declared, on the floor of the Senate, that his only relief against the acts complained of in the petition
is to take up the issue before the people- which is not a fact. During the discussions in the Senate, in the course of
the organization of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, on February 21, 1956, Senator Taada was asked what
remedies he would suggest if he nominated two (2) Nacionialista Senators and the latter declined the, nomination.
Senator Taada replied:.
"There are two remedies that occur to my mind right now, Mr. Senator; one is the remedy open to all of us that if we
feel aggrieved and there is no recourse in the court of justice, we can appeal to public opinion. Another remedy is
an action in the Supreme Court. Of course, as Senator Rodriguez, our President here, has said one day; "If you
take this matter to the Supreme Court, you will lose, because until now the Supreme Court has always ruled
against any action that would constitute interference in the business of anybody pertaining to the Senate. The
theory of separation of powers will be upheld by the Supreme Court." But that learned opinion of Senator
Rodriguez, our President, notwithstanding, I may take the case to the Supreme Court if my right herein is not
respected. I may lose, Mr. President, but who has not lost in the Supreme Court? I may lose because of the theory
of the separation of powers, but that does not mean, Mr. President, that what has been done here is pursuant to
the provision of the Constitution." (Congressional Record, Vol. III, p. 339; emphasis supplied.).
This statement did not refer to the nomination, by Senator Primicias, and the election, by the Senate, of Senators
Cuenco and Delgado as members of said Tribunal. Indeed, said nomination and election took place the day after
the aforementioned statement of Senator Taada was made. At any rate, the latter announced that he might "take
the case to the Supreme Court if my right here is not respected.".
As already adverted to, the objection to our jurisdiction hinges on the question whether the issue before us is
political or not. In this connection, Willoughby lucidly states:.
"Elsewhere in this treatise the well-known and well-established principle is considered that it is not within the
province of the courts to pass judgment upon the policy of legislative or executive action. Where, therefore,
discretionary powers are granted by the Constitution or by statute, the manner in which those powers are exercised
is not subject to judicial review. The courts, therefore, concern themselves only with the question as to the
existence and extent of these discretionary powers.
"As distinguished from the judicial, the legislative and executive departments are spoken of as the political
departments of government because in very many cases their action is necessarily dictated by considerations of
public or political policy. These considerations of public or political policy of course will not permit the legislature to
violate constitutional provisions, or the executive to exercise authority not granted him by the Constitution or by,
statute, but, within these limits, they do permit the departments, separately or together, to recognize that a certain
set of facts exists or that a given status exists, and these determinations, together with the consequences that flow
therefrom, may not be traversed in the courts." (Willoughby on the Constitution of the United States, Vol. 3, p.
1326; emphasis supplied.).
To the same effect is the language used in Corpus Juris Secundum, from which we quote:.
"It is well-settled doctrine that political questions are not within the province of the judiciary, except to the extent
that power to deal with such questions has been conferred upon the courts by express constitutional or statutory
provisions.
"It is not easy, however, to define the phrase `political question', nor to determine what matters, fall within its scope.
It is frequently used to designate all questions that lie outside the scope of the judicial 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." (16 C.J.S., 413; see, also
Geauga Lake Improvement Ass'n. vs. Lozier, 182 N. E. 491, 125 Ohio St. 565; Sevilla vs, Elizalde, 112 F. 2d 29,
72 App. D. C., 108; emphasis supplied.).
Thus, it has been repeatedly held that the question whether certain amendments to the Constitution are invalid for
non-compliance with the procedure therein prescribed, is not a political one and may be settled by the Courts. 5 .
In the case of In re McConaughy (119 N.W. 408), the nature of political question was considered carefully. The
Court said:.
"At the threshold of the case we are met with the assertion that the questions involved are political, and not judicial.
If this is correct, the court has no jurisdiction as the certificate of the state canvassing board would then be final,
regardless of the actual vote upon the amendment. The question thus raised is a fundamental one; but it has been
so often decided contrary to the view contended for by the Attorney General that it would seem to be finally settled.
x x x x x x x x x.
" .. What is generally meant, when it is, said that a question is political, and not judicial, is that it is a matter which,
is to be exercised by the people in their primary political capacity, or that it has been specifically delegated to some
other department or particular officer of the government, with discretionary power to act. See State vs.
Cunningham, 81 Wis. 497, 51 L. R. A. 561; In Re Gunn, 50 Kan. 155; 32 Pac. 470, 948, 19 L. R. A. 519; Green vs.
Mills, 69 Fed. 852, 16, C. C. A. 516, 30 L. R. A. 90; Fletcher vs. Tuttle, 151 Ill. 41, 37 N. E. 683, 25 L. R. A. 143, 42
Am. St. Rep. 220. Thus the Legislature may in its discretion determine whether it will pass a law or submit a
proposed constitutional amendment to the people. The courts have no judicial control over such matters, not
merely because they involve political question, but because they are matters which the people have by the
Constitution delegated to the Legislature. The Governor may exercise the powers delegated to him, free from
judicial control, so long as he observes the laws and acts within the limits of the power conferred. His discretionary
acts cannot be controllable, not primarily because they are of a political nature, but because the Constitution and
laws have placed the particular matter under his control. But every officer under a constitutional government must
act according to law and subject him to the restraining and controlling power of the people, acting through the
courts, as well as through the executive or the Legislature. One department is just as representative as the other,
and the judiciary is the department which is charged with the special duty of determining the limitations which the
law places upon all official action. The recognition of this principle, unknown except in Great Britain and America, is
necessary, to the end that the government may be one of laws and not men'-words which Webster said were the
greatest contained in any written constitutional document." (pp. 411, 417; emphasis supplied.).
In short, the term "political question" connotes, in legal parlance, what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a
question of policy. In other words, in the language of Corpus Juris Secundum (supra), 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 Legislature or executive branch of the Government." It is
concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure.
Such is not the nature of the question for determination in the present case. Here, we are called upon to decide
whether the election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado, by the Senate, as members of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal, upon nomination by Senator Primicias-a member and spokesman of the party having the largest number
of votes in the Senate-on behalf of its Committee on Rules, contravenes the constitutional mandate that said
members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal shall be chosen "upon nomination .. of the party having the second
largest number of votes" in the Senate, and hence, is null and void. This is not a political question. The Senate is
not clothed with "full discretionary authority" in the choice of members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal. The
exercise of its power thereon is subject to constitutional limitations which are claimed to be mandatory in nature. It
is clearly within the legitimate prove of the judicial department to pass upon the validity the proceedings in
connection therewith.
".. whether an election of public officers has been in accordance with law is for the judiciary. Moreover, where the
legislative department has by statute prescribed election procedure in a given situation, the judiciary may
determine whether a particular election has been in conformity with such statute, and, particularly, whether such
statute has been applied in a way to deny or transgress on the constitutional or statutory rights .." (16 C.J.S., 439;
emphasis supplied.).
It is, therefore, our opinion that we have, not only jurisdiction, but, also, the duty, to consider and determine the
principal issue raised by the parties herein.
II. Is the election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado, by the Senate, as members of the Electoral Tribunal, valid and
lawful?.
Section 11 of Article VI of the Constitution, reads:.
"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 of the House of
Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen by each House, three upon nomination of the party
having the largest number of votes and three of the party having the second largest number of votes therein. The
Senior Justice in each Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman." (Emphasis supplied.).
It appears that on February 22, 1956, as well as at present, the Senate of the Philippines consists of twenty three
(23) members of the Nacionalista Party and one (1) member of the Citizens Party, namely, Senator Taada, who
is, also, the president of said party. In the session of the Senate held on February 21, 1956, Senator Sabido moved
that Senator Taada, "the President of the Citizens Party, be given the privilege to nominate .. three (3) members"
of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, pp. 328-329), referring to those
who, according to the provision above-quoted, should be nominated by "the party having the second largest
number of votes" in the Senate. Senator Taada objected formally to this motion upon the-ground: (a) that the right
to nominate said members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal belongs, not to the Nacionalista Party of which Senator
Sabido and the other Senators are members-but to the Citizens Party, as the one having the second largest
number of votes in the Senate, so that, being devoid of authority to nominate the aforementioned members of said
Tribunal, the Nacionalista Party cannot give it to the Citizens Party, which, already, has such authority, pursuant to
the Constitution; and (b) that Senator Sabido's motion would compel Senator Taada to nominate three (3)
Senators to said Tribunal, although as representative of the minority party in the Senate he has "the right to
nominate one, two or three to the Electoral Tribunal," in his discretion. Senator Taada further stated that he
reserved the right to determine how many he would nominate, after hearing the reasons of Senator Sabido in
support of his motion. After some discussion, in which Senators Primicias, Cea, Lim, Sumulong, Zulueta, and
Rodrigo took part, the Senate adjourned until the next morning, February 22, 1956 (Do., do, pp. 329, 330, 332-333,
336, 338, 339, 343).
Then, said issues were debated upon more extensively, with Senator Sumulong, not only seconding the opposition
of Senator Taada, but, also, maintaining that "Senator Taada should nominate only one" member of the Senate,
namely, himself, he being the only Senator who belongs to the minority party in said House (Do., do., pp. 360-364,
369). Thus, a new issue was raised - whether or not one who does not belong to said party may be nominated by
its spokesman, Senator Taada - on which Senators Paredes, Pelaez, Rosales and Laurel, as well as the other
Senators already mentioned, expressed their views (Do., do., pp. 345, 349, 350, 354, 358, 364, 375). Although the
deliberations of the Senate consumed the whole morning and afternoon of February 22, 1956, a satisfactory
solution of the question before the Senate appeared to be remote. So, at 7:40 p.m., the meeting was suspended,
on motion of Senator Laurel, with a view to seeking a compromise formula (Do., do., pp. 377). When session was
resumed at 8:10 p.m., Senator Sabido withdrew his motion above referred to. Thereupon, Senator Primicias, on
behalf of the Nacionalista Party, nominated, and the Senate elected, Senators Laurel, Lopez and Primicias, as
members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal. Subsequently, Senator Taada stated:.
"On behalf of the Citizens Party, the minority party in this Body, I nominate the only Citizens Party member in this
Body, and that is Senator Lorenzo M. Taada.".
Without an objection, this nomination was approved by the House. Then, Senator Primicias stood up and said:.
"Now, Mr. President, in order to comply with the provision in the Constitution, the Committee on Rules of the
Senate-and I am now making this proposal not on behalf of the Nacionalista Party but on behalf of the Committee
on Rules of the Senate-I nominate two other members to complete the membership of the Tribunal: Senators
Delgado and Cuenco.".
What took place thereafter appears in the following quotations from the Congressional Record for the Senate.
"SENATOR TAADA. Mr. President.
"EL PRESIDENTE INTERINO. Caballero de Quezon.
"SENATOR TAADA. I would like to record my opposition to the nominations of the last two named gentlemen,
Senators Delgado and Cuenco, not because I don't believe that they do not deserve to be appointed to the tribunal
but because of my sincere and firm conviction that these additional nominations are not sanctioned by the
Constitution. The Constitution only permits the Nacionalista Party or the party having the largest number of votes to
nominate three.
"SENATOR SUMULONG. Mr. President.
"EL PRESIDENTE INTERINO. Caballero de Rizal.
"SENATOR SUMULONG. For the reasons that I have stated a few moments ago when I took the floor, I also wish
to record my objection to the last nominations, to the nomination of two additional NP's to the Electoral Tribunal.
"EL PRESIDENTE INTERINO. Esta dispuesto el Senado a votar? (Varios Senadores: Si.) Los que esten
conformes con la nominacion hecha por el Presidente del Comite de Reglamentos a favor de los Senadores
Delgado y Cuenco para ser miembros del Tribunal Electoral, digan, si. (Varios Senadores: Si.) Los que no lo esten
digan, no (Silencio.) Queda aprobada." (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, p. 377; emphasis supplied.).
Petitioners maintain that said nomination and election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado-who belong to the
Nacionalista Party-as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, are null and void and have been made without
power or color of authority, for, after the nomination by said party, and the election by the Senate, of Senators
Laurel, Lopez and Primicias, as members of said Tribunal, the other Senators, who shall be members thereof, must
necessarily be nominated by the party having the second largest number of votes in the Senate, and such party is,
admittedly, the Citizens Party, to which Senator Taada belongs and which he represents.
Respondents allege, however, that the constitutional mandate to the effect that "each Electoral Tribunal shall be
compose of nine (9) members," six (6) of whom "shall be members of the Senate or of the House of
Representatives, as the case may be", is mandatory; that when-after the nomination of three (3) Senators by the
majority party, and their election by the Senate, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal-Senator Taada
nominated himself only, on behalf of the minority party, he thereby "waived his right to no two more Senators;" that,
when Senator Primicias nominated Senators Cuenco and Delgado, and these respondents were chosen by the
Senate, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, Said Senator Primicias and the Senate merely complied with
the aforementioned provision of the fundamental law, relative to the number of members of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal; and, that, accordingly, Senators Cuenco and Delgado are de jure members of said body, and the
appointment of their co-respondents, Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes is valid
and lawful.
At the outset, it will be recalled that the proceedings the organization of the Senate Electoral Tribunal began with a
motion of Senator Sabido to the effect that "the distinguished gentleman from Quezon, the President of the Citizens
Party, be given the privilege to nominate the three Members" of said Tribunal. Senator Primicias inquired why the
movant had used the word "privilege". Senator Sabido explained that the present composition of the Senate had
created a condition or situation which was not anticipated by the framers of our Constitution; that although Senator
Taada formed part of the Nacionalista Party before the end of 1955, he subsequently parted ways with" said
party; and that Senator Taada "is the distinguished president of the Citizens Party," which "approximates the
situation desired by the framers of the Constitution" (Congressional Record for the Senate Vol. III, pp. 329-330).
Then Senator Lim intervened, stating:.
"At present Senator Taada is considered as forming the only minority or the one that has the second largest
number of votes in the existing Senate, is not that right? And if this is so, he should be given this as a matter of
right, not as a matter of privilege. .. I don't believe that we should be allowed to grant this authority to Senator
Taada only as a privilege but we must grant it as a matter of right." (Id., id., p. 32; emphasis supplied.).
Similarly, Senator Sumulong maintained that "Senator Taada, as Citizens Party Senator, has the right and not a
mere privilege to nominate," adding that:.
".. the question is whether we have a party here having the second largest number of votes, and it is clear in my
mind that there is such a party, and that is the Citizens Party to which the gentleman from Quezon belongs. .. We
have to bear in mind, .. that when Senator Taada was included in the Nacionalista Party ticket in 1953, it was by
virtue of a coalition or an alliance between the Citizens Party and the Nacionalista Party at that time, and I maintain
that when Senator Taada as head of the Citizens Party entered into a coalition with the Nacionalista Party, he did
not thereby become a Nacionalista because that was a mere coalition, not a fusion. When the Citizens Party
entered into a mere coalition, that party did not lose its personality as a party separate and distinct from the,
Nacionalista Party. And we should also remember that the certificate of candidacy filed by Senator Taada in the
1953 election was one to the effect that he belonged to the Citizens Party .." (Id., id., p. 360; emphasis supplied.).
The debate was closed by Senator Laurel, who remarked, referring to Senator Taada:.
"..there is no doubt that he does not belong to the majority in the first place, and that, therefore, he belongs to the
minority. And whether we like it or not, that is the reality of the actual situation-that he is not a Nacionalista now,
that he is the head and the representative of the Citizens Party. I think that on equitable ground and from the point
of view of public opinion, his situation .. approximates or approaches what is within the spirit of that Constitution. ..
and from the point of view of the spirit of the Constitution it would be a good thing if we grant the opportunity to
Senator Taada to help us in the organization of this Electoral Tribunal (Id., id., p. 376; emphasis supplied.).
The foregoing statements and the fact that, thereafter, Senator Sabido withdrew his motion to grant Senator
Taada the "privilege" to nominate, and said petitioner actually nominated himself "on behalf of the Citizens Party,
the minority party in this Body"-not only without any, objection whatsoever, but, also, with the approval of the
Senate-leave no room for doubt that the Senate-leave no room for doubt that the Senate has regarded the Citizens
Party, represented by Senator Taada, as the party having the second largest number of votes in said House.
Referring, now, to the contention of respondents herein, their main argument in support of the mandatory character
of the constitutional provision relative to the number of members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal is that the word
"shall", therein used, is imperative in nature and that this is borne out by an opinion of the Secretary of Justice
dated February 1, 1939, pertinent parts of which are quoted at the footnote. 6.
Regardless of the respect due its author, as a distinguished citizen and public official, said opinion has little, if any,
weight in the solution of the question before this Court, for the practical construction of a Constitution is of little, if
any, unless it has been uniform .." 6a Again, "as a general rule, it is only in cases of substantial doubt and
ambiguity that the doctrine of contemporaneous or practical construction has any application". As a consequence,
"where the meaning of a constitutional provision is clear, a contemporaneous or practical executive interpretation
thereof is entitled to no weight, and will not be allowed to distort or in any way change its natural meaning." The
reason is that "the application of the doctrine of contemporaneous construction is more restricted as applied to the
interpretation of constitutional provisions than when applied to statutory provisions", and that, "except as to matters
committed by the Constitution, itself to the discretion of some other department, contemporary or practical
construction is not necessarily binding upon the courts, even in a doubtful case." Hence, "if in the judgment of the
court, such construction is erroneous and its further application is not made imperative by any paramount
considerations of public policy, it may he rejected." (16 C. J. S., 71-72; emphasis supplied.) 6b.
The aforemention opinion of the Secretary of Justice is not backed up by a, "uniform" application of the view therein
adopted, so essential to give thereto the weight accorded by the rules on contemporaneous constructions.
Moreover, said opinion tends to change the natural meaning of section 11 of Article VI of the Constitution, which is
clear. What is more, there is not the slightest doubt in our mind that the purpose and spirit of said provisions do not
warrant said change and that the rejection of the latter is demanded by paramount considerations of public policy. .
The flaw in the position taken in said opinion and by respondent herein is that, while, it relies upon the compulsory
nature of the word "shall", as regards the number of members of the Electoral Tribunals, it ignores the fact that the
same term is used with respect to the method prescribed for their election, and that both form part of a single
sentence and must be considered, therefore, as integral portions of one and the same thought. Indeed,
respondents have not even tried to show and we cannot conceive-why "shall" must be deemed mandatory insofar
as the number of members of each Electoral Tribunal, and should be considered directory as regards the
procedure for their selection. More important still, the history of section 11 of Article VI of the Constitution and the
records of the Convention, refute respondents' pretense, and back up the theory of petitioners herein.
Commenting on the frame of mind of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, when they faced the task of
providing for the adjudication of contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the
Legislative Department, Dr. Jose M. Aruego, a member of said Convention, says:.
"The experience of the Filipino people under the provisions of the organic laws which left to the lawmaking body
the determination of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its members was not altogether satisfactory. There
were many complaints against the lack of political justice in this determination; for in a great number of cases, party
interests controlled and dictated the decisions. The undue delay in the dispatch of election contests for legislative
seats, the irregularities that characterized the proceedings in some of them, and the very apparent injection of
partisanship in the determination of a great number of the cases were decried by a great number of the people as
well as by the organs of public opinion.
"The faith of the people in the uprightness of the lawmaking body in the performance of this function assigned to it
in the organic laws was by no means great. In fact so blatant was the lack of political justice in the decisions that
there was, gradually built up a camp of thought in the Philippines inclined to leave to the courts the determination of
election contests, following the practice in some countries, like England and Canada.
"Such were the conditions of things at the time of the meeting of the convention." (The Framing of the Philippine
Constitution by Aruego, Vol. 1, pp. 257-258; emphasis supplied.).
This view is shared by distinguished members of the Senate. Thus, in its session of February 22, 1956, Senator
Sumulong declared:.
".. when you leave it to either House to decide election protests involving its own members, that is virtually placing
the majority party in a position to dictate the decision in those election cases, because each House will be
composed of a majority and a minority, and when you make each House the judge of every election protest
involving any member of that House, you place the majority in a position to dominate and dictate the decision in the
case and result was, there were so many abuses, there were so main injustices: committed by the majority at the
expense and to the prejudice of the minority protestants. Statements have been made here that justice was done
even under the old system, like that case involving Senator Mabanag, when he almost became a victim of the
majority when he had an election case, and it was only through the intervention of President Quezon that he was
saved from becoming the victim of majority injustices.
"It is true that justice had sometimes prevailed under the old system, but the record will show that those cases were
few and they were the rare exceptions. The overwhelming majority of election protests decided under the old
system was that the majority being then in a position to dictate the, decision in the election protest, was tempted to
commit as it did commit many abuses and injustices." (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. 111, p. 361;
emphasis supplied.).
Senator Paredes, a veteran legislator and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, said:.
".. what was intended in the creation of the electoral tribunal was to create a sort of collegiate court composed of
nine members: Three of them belonging to the party having the largest number of votes, and three from the party
having the second largest number votes so that these members may represent the party, and the members of said
party who will sit before the electoral tribunal as protestees. For when it comes to a party, Mr. President, there
ground to believe that decisions will be made along party lines." (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, p.
351; emphasis supplied.).
Senator Laurel, who played an important role in the framing of our Constitution, expressed himself as follows:.
"Now, with reference to the protests or contests, relating to the election, the returns and the qualifications of the
members of the legislative bodies, I heard it said here correctly that there was a time when that was given to the
corresponding chamber of the legislative department. So the election, returns and qualifications of the members, of
the Congress or legislative body was entrusted to that body itself as the exclusive body to determine the election,
returns and qualifications of its members. There was some doubt also expressed as to whether that should
continue or not, and the greatest argument in favor of the retention of that provision was the fact that was, among
other things, the system obtaining in the United States under the Federal Constitution of the United States, and
there was no reason why that power or that right vested in the legislative body should not be retained. But it was
thought that would make the determination of this contest, of this election protest, purely political as has been
observed in the past." (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, p. 376; emphasis supplied.).
It is interesting to note that not one of the members of the Senate contested the accuracy of the views thus
expressed.
Referring particularly to the philosophy underlying the constitutional provision quoted above, Dr. Aruego states:.
"The defense of the Electoral Commission was based primarily upon the hope and belief that the abolition of Party
line because of the equal representation in this body of the majority and the minority parties of the National
Assembly and the intervention of some members of the Supreme Court who, under the proposed constitutional
provision, would also be members of the same, would insure greater political justice in the determination of election
contests for seats in the National Assembly than there would be if the power had been lodged in the lawmaking
body itself. Delegate Francisco summarized the arguments for the creation of the Electoral Commission in the
following words:.
"I understand that from the time that this question is placed in the hands of members not only of the majority party
but also of the minority party, there is already a condition, a factor which would make protests decided in a non-
partisan manner. We know from experience that many times in the many protests tried in the House or in the
Senate, it was impossible to prevent the factor of party from getting in. From the moment that it is required that not
only the majority but also the minority should intervene in these questions, we have already enough guarantee that
there would be no tyranny on the part of the majority.
`But there is another more detail which is the one which satisfies me most, and that is the intervention of three
justices. So that with this intervention of three justices if there would be any question as to the justice applied by the
majority or the minority, if there would be any fundamental disagreement, or if there would be nothing but questions
purely of party in which the members of the majority as well as those of the minority should wish to take lightly a
protest because the protestant belongs to one of said parties, we have in this case, as a check upon the two
parties, the actuations of the three justices. In the last analysis, what is really applied in the determination of
electoral cases brought before the tribunals of justice or before the House of Representatives or the Senate? Well,
it is nothing more than the law and the doctrine of the Supreme Court. If that is the case, there will be greater skill
in the application of the laws and in the application of doctrines to electoral matters having as we shall have three
justices who will act impartially in these electoral questions.
`I wish to call the attention of my distinguished colleagues to the fact that in electoral protests it is impossible to set
aside party interests. Hence, the best guarantee, I repeat, for the administration of justice to the parties, for the fact
that the laws will not be applied rightfully or incorrectly as well as for the fact that the doctrines of the Supreme
Court will be applied rightfully, the best guarantee which we shall have, I repeat, is the intervention of the three
justices. And with the formation of the Electoral Commission, I say again, the protestants as well as the protestees
could remain tranquil in the certainty that they will receive the justice that they really deserve. If we eliminate from
this precept the intervention of the party of the minority and that of the three justices, then we shall be placing
protests exclusively in the hands of the party in power. And I understand, gentlemen, that in practice that has not
given good results. Many have criticized, many have complained against, the tyranny of the majority in electoral
cases .. I repeat that the best guarantee the fact that these questions will be judged not only by three members of
the majority but also by three members of the minority, with the additional guarantee of the impartial judgment of
three justices of the Supreme Court." (The Framing of the Philippine Constitution by Aruego, Vol. I, pp. 261-263;
emphasis supplied.).
The foregoing was corroborated by Senator Laurel. Speaking for this Court, in Angara vs. Electoral Commission
(63 Phil., 139), he asserted:.
"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 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 Constitution, the creation of the Electoral Commission is the expression of the wisdom `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," (Pp. 174-175.) 7.
As a matter of fact, during the deliberations of the convention, Delegates Conejero and Roxas said:.
"El Sr. CONEJERO. Antes de votarse la enmienda, quisiera pedir informacion del Subcomite de Siete.
"El Sr. PRESIDENTE. Que dice el Comite?" El Sr. ROXAS. Con mucho gusto. "El Sr. CONEJERO. Tal como esta
el draft., dando tres miembrosala mayoria, y otros t?-es a la minyoryia y atros a la Corte Suprerma, no cree su
Senoria que este equivale pricticamente a dejar el asunto a los miembros del Tribunal Supremo?.
"El Sr. ROXAS. Si y no. Creemos que si el tribunal a la Comision esta cotistuido en esa forma, tanto los miembros
de la mayoria como los de la minoria asi como los miembros de la Corte Saprema consideration la cuestion sobre
la base de sus meritos, sabiendo que el partidismo no es suficiente para dar el triunbo.
"El Sr. CONEJERO. Cree Su Senoria que en un caso como ese, podriamos hacer que tanto los de la mayoria
como los de la minoria prescindieran del partidisrno?.
"El Sr. ROXAS. Creo que si, porque el partidismo no les daria el triunfo." (Angara vs. Electoral Commission, supra,
pp. 168-169; emphasis supplied.).
It is clear from the foregoing that the main objective of the framers of our Constitution in providing for the
establishment, first, of an Electoral Commission, 8 and then 9 of one Electoral Tribunal for each House of
Congress, was to insure the exercise of judicial impartiality in the disposition of election contests affecting members
of the lawmaking body. To achieve this purpose, two devices were resorted to, namely: (a) the party having the
largest number of votes, and the party having the second largest number of votes, in the National Assembly or in
each House of Congress, were given the same number of representatives in the Electoral Commission or Tribunal,
so that they may realize that partisan considerations could not control the adjudication of said cases, and thus be
induced to act with greater impartiality; and (b) the Supreme Court was given in said body the same number of
representatives as each one of said political parties, so that the influence of the former may be decisive and endow
said Commission or Tribunal with judicial temper.
This is obvious from the very language of the constitutional provision under consideration. In fact, Senator Sabido-
who had moved to grant to Senator Taada the privilege" to make the nominations on behalf of party having the
second largest number of votes in the Senate-agrees with it. As Senator Sumulong inquired:.
"..I suppose Your Honor will agree with me that the framers of the Constitution precisely thought of creating this
Electoral Tribunal so as to prevent the majority from ever having a preponderant majority in the Tribunal."
(Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, p. 330; emphasis supplied.).
Senator Sabido replied:.
"That is so, .." (Id., p. 330.).
Upon further interpretation, Senator Sabido said:.
".. the purpose of the creation of the Electoral Tribunal and of its composition is to maintain a balance between the
two parties and make the members of the Supreme Court the controlling power so to speak of the Electoral
Tribunal or hold the balance of power. That is the ideal situation." (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, p.
349; emphasis supplied.).
Senator Sumulong opined along the same line. His words were: .
"..The intention is that when the three from the majority and the three from the minority become members of the
Tribunal it is hoped that they will become aware of their judicial functions, not to protect the protestants or the
protegees. It is hoped that they will act as judges because to decide election cases is a judicial function. But the
framers of, the Constitution besides being learned were men of experience. They knew that even Senators like us
are not angels, that we are human beings, that if we should be chosen to go to the Electoral Tribunal no one can
say that we will entirely be free from partisan influence to favor our party, so that in, case that hope that the three
from the majority and the three from the minority who will act as Judges should result in disappointment, in case
they do not act as judges but they go there and vote along party liner, still there is the guarantee that they will offset
each other and the result will be that the deciding vote will reside in the hands of the three Justices who have no
partisan motives to favor either the protestees or the protestants. In other words, the whole idea is to prevent the
majority from controlling and dictating the decisions of the Tribunal and to make sure that the decisive vote will be
wielded by the Congressmen or Senators who are members the Tribunal but will be wielded by the Justices who,
by virtue of their judicial offices, will have no partisan motives to serve, either protestants, or protestees. That is my
understanding of the intention of the framers of the Constitution when they decided to create the Electoral Tribunal.
x x x x x x x x x.
"My idea is that the intention of the framers of the constitution in creating the Electoral Tribunal is to insure
impartially and independence in its decision, and that is sought to be done by never allowing the majority party to
control the Tribunal, and secondly by seeing to it that the decisive vote in the Tribunal will be left in the hands of
persons who have no partisan interest or motive to favor either protestant or protestee." (Congressional Record for
the Senate, Vol. III, pp. 362-363, 365-366; emphasis supplied.).
So important in the "balance of powers" between the two political parties in the Electoral Tribunals, that several
members of the Senate questioned the right of the party having the second largest number of votes in the Senate
and, hence, of Senator Taada, as representative of the Citizens Party-to nominate for the Senate Electoral
Tribunal any Senator not belonging to said party. Senators Lim, Sabido, Cea and Paredes maintained that the spirit
of the Constitution would be violated if the nominees to the Electoral Tribunals did not belong to the parties
respectively making the nominations. 10.
It is not necessary, for the purpose of this decision, to determine whether the parties having the largest, and the
second largest, number of votes in each House may nominate, to the Electoral Tribunals, those members of
Congress who do not belong to the party nominating them. It is patent, however, that the most vital feature of the
Electoral Tribunals is the equal representation of said parties therein, and the resulting equilibrium to be maintained
by the Justices of the Supreme Court as members of said Tribunals. In the words of the members of the present
Senate, said feature reflects the "intent" "purpose", and "spirit of the Constitution", pursuant to which the Senate
Electoral Tribunal should be organized (Congressional Record for the Senate, pp. 330, 337, 348-9, 350, 351, 355,
358, 362-3, 364, 370, 376).
Now then, it is well settled that "the purpose of all rules or maxims as to the construction or interpretation of
statutes is to discover the true intention of the law" (82 C. J. S., 526) and that.
"As a general rule of statutory construction, the spirit or intention of a statute prevails over the letter thereof, and
whatever is within the spirit of statute is within the statute although it is not within the letter, while that which is
within the letter, but not within the spirit of a statute, is not within the statute; but, where the law is free and clear
from ambiguity, the letter of it is not to be disregarded on the pretext of pursuing its spirit." (82 C. J. S., 613.).
"There is no universal rule or absolute test by which directory provisions in a statute may in all circumstances be
distinguished from those which are mandatory. However, in the determination of this question, as of every other
question of statutory construction, the prime object is to ascertain the legislative intent. The legislative intent must
be obtained front all the surrounding circumstances, and the determination does not depend on the form of the
statute. Consideration must be given to the entire statute, its nature, its object, and the consequences which would
result from construing it one way or the other, and the statute must be construed in connection with other related
statutes. Words of permissive character may be given a mandatory significance in order to effect the legislative
intent, and, when the terms of a statute are such that they cannot be made effective to the extent of giving each
and all of them some reasonable operation, without construing the statute as mandatory, such construction should
be given; .. On the other hand, the language of a statute, however mandatory in form, may be deemed directory
whenever legislative purpose can best be carried out by such construction, and the legislative intent does not
require a mandatory construction; but the construction of mandatory words as directory should not be lightly
adopted and never where it would in fact make a new law instead of that passed by the legislature. .. Whether a
statute is mandatory or directory depends on whether the thing directed to be done is of the essence of the thing
required, or is a mere matter of form, and what is a matter of essence can often be determined only by judicial
construction. Accordingly, when a particular provision of a statute relates to some immaterial matter, as to which
compliance with the statute is a matter of convenience rather than substance, or where the directions of a statute
are given merely with a view to the proper, orderly, and prompt conduct of business, it is generally regarded as
directory, unless followed by words of absolute prohibition; and a statute is regarded as directory were no
substantial rights depend on it, no injury can result from ignoring it, and the purpose of the legislative can be
accomplished in a manner other than that prescribed, with substantially the same result. On the other hand, a
provision relating to the essence of the thing to be done, that is, to matters of substance, is mandatory, and when a
fair interpretation of a statute, which directs acts or proceedings to be done in a certain way shows that the
legislature intended a compliance with such provision to be essential to the validity of the act or proceeding, or
when same antecedent and pre-requisite conditions must exist prior to the exercise of power, or must be performed
before certain other powers can be exercise, the statute must be regarded as mandatory. (Id., pp. 869-874.) (See
also, Words and Phrases, Vol. 26, pp. 463-467; emphasis supplied.).
What has been said above, relative to the conditions antecedent to, and concomitant with, the adoption of section
11 of Article VI of the Constitution, reveals clearly that its framers intended to prevent the majority party from
controlling the Electoral Tribunals, and that the structure thereof is founded upon the equilibrium between the
majority and the minority parties therein, with the Justices of the Supreme Court, who are members of said
Tribunals, holding the resulting balance of power. The procedure prescribed in said provision for the selection of
members of the Electoral Tribunals is vital to the role they are called upon to play. it constitutes the essence of said
Tribunals. Hence, compliance with said procedure is mandatory, and acts performed in violation thereof are null
and void. 11.
It is true that the application of the foregoing criterion would limit the membership of the Senate Electoral Tribunal,
in the case at bar, to seven (7), instead of nine (9), members; but, it is conceded that the present composition of
the Senate was not foreseen by the framers of our Constitution (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, pp.
329, 342, 349, 354, 359, 375). Furthermore, the spirit of the law prevails over its letter, and the solution herein
adopted maintains the spirit of the Constitution, for partisan considerations can not be decisive in a tribunal
consisting of three (3) Justices of the Supreme Court, three (3) members nominated by the majority party and
either one (1) or two (2) members nominated by the party having the second largest number of votes in the House
concerned.
Upon the other hand, what would be the result of respondents' contention if upheld? Owing to the fact that the
Citizens Party 12 has only one member in the Upper House, Senator Taada felt he should nominate, for the
Senate Electoral Tribunal, only said member of the Citizens Party. The same is, thus, numerically handicapped,
vis-a-vis the majority party, in said Tribunal. Obviously, Senator Taada did not nominate other two Senators,
because, otherwise, he would worsen the already disadvantageous position, therein, of the Citizens Party. Indeed,
by the aforementioned nomination and election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado, if the same were sanctioned, the
Nacionalista Party would have five (5) members in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, as against one (1) member of the
Citizens Party and three members of the Supreme Court. With the absolute majority thereby attained by the
majority party in said Tribunal, the philosophy underlying the same would be entirely upset. The equilibrium
between the political parties therein would be destroyed. What is worst, the decisive moderating role of the Justices
of the Supreme Court would be wiped out, and, in lieu thereof, the door would be thrown wide open for the
predominance of political considerations in the determination of election protests pending before said Tribunal,
which is precisely what the fathers of our Constitution earnestly strove to forestall. 13.
This does not imply that the honesty, integrity or impartiality of Senators Cuenco and Delgado are being
questioned. As a matter of fact, when Senator Taada objected to their nomination, he explicitly made of record
that his opposition was based, not upon their character, but upon the principle involved. When the election of
members of Congress to the Electoral Tribunal is made dependent upon the nomination of the political parties
above referred to, the Constitution thereby indicates its reliance upon the method of selection thus established,
regardless of the individual qualities of those chosen therefor. Considering the wealth of experience of the
delegatesto the Convention, as lawyers of great note, as veteran politicians and as leaders in other fields of
endeavor, they could not, and did not, ignore the fact that the Constitution must limit itself to giving general patterns
or norms of action. In connection, particularly, with the composition of the Electoral Tribunals, they believed that,
even the most well meaning individuals often find it difficult to shake off the bias and prejudice created by political
antagonisms and to resist the demands of political exigencies, the pressure of which is bound to increase in
proportion to the degree of predominance of the party from which it comes. As above stated, this was confirmed by
distinguished members of the present Senate. (See pp. 25-28, 33, 34, supra.).
In connection with the argument of the former Secretary of Justice to the effect that when "there is no minority party
represented in the Assembly, the necessity for such a check by the minority disappears", the following
observations of the petitioners herein are worthy of notice:.
" Under the interpretation espoused by the respondents, the very frauds or terrorism committed by a party would
establish the legal basis for the final destruction of minority parties in the Congress at least. Let us suppose, for
example, that in the Senate, the 15 or 16 senators with unexpired terms belong to the party A. In the senatorial
elections to fill the remaining 8 seats, all the 8 candidates of party A are proclaimed elected through alleged fraud
and/or terrorism. (The ouster of not less than 3 senators-elect in the elections held since liberation attests to the
reality of election frauds and terrorism in our country.) There being no senator or only one senator belonging to the
minority, who would sit in judgment on the election candidates of the minority parties? According to the contention
of the respondents, it would be a Senate Electoral Tribunal made up of three Supreme Court Justices and 5 or 6
members of the same party A accused of fraud and terrorism. Most respectfully, we pray this Honorable Court to
reject an interpretation that would make of a democratic constitution the very instrument by which a corrupt and
ruthless party could entrench itself in power the legislature and thus destroy democracy in the Philippines.
x x x x x x x x x.
".. When there are no electoral protests filed by the Minority party, or when the only electoral protests filed are by
candidates of the majority against members-elect of the same majority party, there might be no objection to the
statement. But if electoral protests are filed by candidates of the minority party, it is at this point that a need for a
check on the majority party is greatest, and contrary to the observation made in the above-quoted opinion, such a
cheek is a function that cannot be successfully exercised by the 3 Justices of the Supreme Court, for the obvious
and simple reason that they could easily be outvoted by the 6 members of the majority party in the Tribunal.
x x x x x x x x x.
"In the case of the cited opinion of Secretary Abad Santos rendered in 1939, it, did not appear that there were
minority party candidates who were adversely affected by the ruling of the Secretary of Justice and who could have
brought a test case to court." (Emphasis supplied.).
The defenses of waiver and estoppel set up against petitioner Taada are untenable. Although "an individual may
waive constitutional provisions intended for his benefit", particularly those meant for the protection of his property,
and, sometimes, even those tending "to secure his personal liberty", the power to waive does not exist when
"public policy or public morals" are involved. (11 Am. Jur. 765; I Cooley's Constitutional Limitations, pp. 368-371).
The procedure outlined in the Constitution for the organization, of the Electoral Tribunals was adopted in response
to the demands of the common weal, and it has been held that where a statute is founded on public policy, those to
whom it applies should not be permitted to waive its provisions" (82 C. J. S., 874). Besides, there can be no waiver
without an intent to such effect, which Senator Taada did not have. Again, the alleged waiver or exhaustion of his
rights does not justify the exercise thereof by a person or party, other than that to which it is vested exclusively by
the Constitution.
The rule estoppel is that "whenever a party has, by his declaration, act or omissions, intentionally and deliberately
led another to believe a particular thing true, and to act upon such belief, he cannot, in a litigation arising out of
such declaration, act or omission, be permitted to falsify it" (Rule 69, sec. 68 [a], Rules of Court). In the case at bar,
petitioner Senator Taada did not lead the Senate to believe that Senator Primicias could nominate Senators
Cuenco and Delgado. On the contrary, said petitioner repeatedly asserted that his was the exclusive right to make
the nomination. He, likewise, specifically contested said nomination of Senators Cuenco and Delgado. Again, the
rule on estoppel applies to questions of fact, not of law, about the truth of which the other party is ignorant (see
Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3, pp. 490, 495). Such is not the nature of the situation that
confronted Senator Taada and the other members of the Senate. Lastly, the case of Zandueta vs. De la Costa (66
Phil., 615), cited by respondents, is not in point. Judge Zandueta assumed office by virtue of an appointment, the
legality of which he later on assailed. In the case at bar, the nomination and election of Senator Taada as member
of the Senate Electoral Tribunal was separate, distinct and independent from the nomination and election of
Senators Cuenco and Delgado.
In view of the foregoing, we hold that the Senate may not elect, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, those
Senators who have not been nominated by the political parties specified in the Constitution; that the party having
the largest number of votes in the Senate may nominate not more than three (3) members thereof to said Electoral
Tribunal; that the party having the second largest number of votes in the Senate has the exclusive right to nominate
the other three (3) Senators who shall sit as members in the Electoral Tribunal; that neither these three (3)
Senators, nor any of them, may be nominated by a person or party other than the one having the second largest
number of votes in the Senate or its representative therein; that the Committee on Rules for the Senate has no
standing to validly make such nomination and that the nomination of Senators Cuenco and Delgado by Senator
Primicias, and the election of said respondents by the Senate, as members of said Tribunal, are null and void ab
initio.
As regards respondents Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes, we are not prepared
to hold, however, that their appointments were null and void. Although recommended by Senators Cuenco and
Delgado, who are not lawful members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, they were appointed by its Chairman,
presumably, with the consent of the majority of the de jure members of said body 14 or, pursuant to the Rules
thereof. At any rate, as held in Suanes vs. Chief Accountant (supra), the election of its personnel is an internal
matter falling within the jurisdiction and control of said body, and there is every reason to believe that it will,
hereafter take appropriate measures, in relation to the four (4) respondents abovementioned, conformably with the
spirit of the Constitution and of, the decision in the case at bar.
Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered declaring that, respondents Senators Mariano Jesus Cuenco and
Francisco A. Delgado have not been duly elected as Members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, that they are not
entitled to act as such and that they should be, as they are hereby, enjoined from exercising the powers and duties
of Members of said Electoral Tribunal and from acting in such capacity in connection with Senate Electoral Case
No. 4 thereof. With the qualification stated above, the petition is dismissed, as regards respondents Alfredo Cruz,
Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes. Without special pronouncement as to costs. It is so
ordered.
Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Reyes, J.B.L., and Felix, JJ., concur.

Paras, C.J ., dissenting:.
In 1939, Section (4) of Article VI of the Philippine Constitution provided that "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." As all the members of
the National Assembly then belonged to the Nacionalista Party and a belief arose that it was impossible to comply
with the constitutional requirement that three members of the Electoral Commission should be nominated by the
party having the second largest number of votes, the opinion of the Secretary of Justice was sought on the proper
interpretation of the constitutional provision involved. Secretary of Justice Jose A. Santos accordingly rendered the
following opinion:.
"Sir:.
"I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of January 24, 1939, thru the office of His Excellency,
the President, in which you request my opinion as `to the proper interpretation of the following provision of Section
(4) of Article VI of the Philippine Constitution':.
`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.'.
"You state that `as all the members of the present National Assembly belong to the Nacionalista Party, it is
impossible to comply with the last part of the provision which requires that three members shall be nominated by
the party having the second largest number of votes in the Assembly.'.
"The main features of the constitutional provision in question are: (1) that 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; and that (2) of the six members to be chosen by the National Assembly, three shall be
nominated by the party having the largest number of votes and three by the party having the second largest
number of votes.
"Examining the history of the constitutional provision, I find that in the first two drafts it was provided that the
Electoral Commission shall be composed of `three members elected by the members of the party having the
largest number of vote three elected by the members of the party having the second largest number of votes, and
three justices of the Supreme Court ..(Aruego, The Framing of the Phil. Const., pp. 260-261). But as finally adopted
by the Convention, the Constitution explicitly states that there shall be `six members chosen by the National
Assembly, three of whom shall be nominated by the party having the largest number of votes, an and three by the
party having the second largest number of votes' (Aruego, The Framing of the Phil. Const., pp. 271-272).
"From the foregoing changes in the phraseology of the provision, it is evident that the intention of the framers of our
Constitution was that there should invariably be six members from the National Assembly. It was also intended to
create a non-partisan body to decide any partisan contest that may be brought before the Commission. The
primary object was to avoid decision based chiefly if not exclusively on partisan considerations.
"The procedure or manner of nomination cannot possibly affect the constitutional mandate that the Assembly is
entitled to six members in the Electoral Commission. When for lack of a minority representation in the Assembly
the power to nominate three minority members cannot be exercised, it logically follows that the only party the
Assembly may nominate three others, otherwise the explicit mandate of the Constitution that there shall be six
members from the National Assembly would be nullified.
"In other words, fluctuations in the total membership of the Commission were not and could not have been
intended. We cannot say that the Commission should have nine members during one legislative term and six
members during the next. Constitutional provisions must always have a consistent application. The membership of
the Commission is intended to be fixed and not variable and is not dependent upon the existence or non-existence
of one or more parties in the Assembly.
"`A cardinal rule in dealing with Constitutions is that they should receive a consistent and uniform interpretation, so
they shall not be taken to mean one thing at one time and another thing at another time, even though the
circumstances may have so changed as to make a different rule after desirable (11 Am. Jur. 659).
"It is undisputed of course that the primary purpose of the Convention in giving representation to the minority party
in the Electoral Commission was to safeguard the rights of the minority party and to protect their interests,
especially when the election of any member of the minority party is protested. The basic philosophy behind the
constitutional provision was to enable the minority party to act as a check on the majority in the Electoral
Commission, with the members of the Supreme Court as the balancing factor. Inasmuch, however, as there is no
minority party represented in the Assembly, the necessity for such a check by the minority party disappears. It is a
function that is expected to be exercised by the three Justices of the Supreme Court.
"To summarize, considering the plain terms of the constitutional provision in question, the changes that it has
undergone since it was first introduced until finally adopted by the convertion, as well as, the considerations that
must have inspired the Constitutional Convention in adopting it as it is, I have come to the conclusion that the
Electoral Commission should be composed of nine members, three from the Supreme Court and six chosen by the
National Assembly to be nominated by the party in power, there being no other party entitled to such nomination.".
Pursuant to the foregoing opinion of February 1, 1939, the Electoral Commission was formally organized, with six
members of the National Assembly all belonging to the same party and three Justices of the Supreme Court.
Constitutional amendments were introduced and duly adopted in 1940, and the Electoral Commission was
replaced by an Electoral Tribunal for each house of Congress. It is now provided that "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 of the House of Representatives, as the
case may be, who shall be chosen by each house, three upon nomination of the party having the largest number of
votes and three of the party having the second largest number of votes therein. The senior Justice in each Electoral
Tribunal shall be its Chairman." (Article VI, Section 11, of the Constitution.).
If there was any doubt on the matter, the same was removed by the amendment of 1940 the framers of which may
be assumed to have been fully aware of the one-party composition of the former National Assembly which gave
rise to the abovequoted opinion of the Secretary of Justice. When instead of wording the amendment in such a
form as to nullify said opinion, Section 11 of Article VI of the Constitution not only did not substantially depart from
the original constitutional provision but also positively and expressly ordains that "Each Electoral Tribunal shall be
composed of nine Members," the intent has become clear and mandatory that at all times the Electoral Tribunal
shall have nine Members regardless of whether or not two parties make up each house of Congress.
It is very significant that while the party having the second largest number of votes is allowed to nominate three
Members of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, it is not required that the nominees should belong to
the same party. Considering further that the six Members are chosen by each house, and not by the party or
parties, the conclusion is inescapable that party affiliation is neither controlling nor necessary.
Under the theory of the petitioners, even if there were sufficient Members belonging to the party having the second
largest of votes, the latter may nominate less than three or none at all; and the Chief Justice may similarly
designate less than three Justices. If not absurd, would frustrate the purpose of having an ideal number in the
composition of the Electoral Tribunal and guarding against the possibility of deadlocks. It would not be accurate to
argue that the Members of the Electoral Tribunal other than the Justices of the Supreme Court would naturally vote
along purely partisan lines, checked or fiscalized only by the votes of the Justices; otherwise membership in the
Tribunal may well be limited to the Justices of the Supreme Court and so others who are not Members of the
Senate or of the House of Representatives. Upon the other hand, he framers of the Constitution-not insensitive to
some such argument-still had reposed their faith and confidence in the independence, integrity and uprightness of
the Members of each House who are to sit in the Electoral Tribunals and thereby expected them, as does
everybody, to decide jointly with the Justices of the Supreme Court election contests exclusively upon their merits.
In view of the failure or unwillingness of Senator Lorenzo M. Taada of the Citizens Party, the party having the
second largest number of votes in the Senate, to nominate two other Members of the Electoral Tribunal, the Senate
was justified, in obedience to the constitutional mandate, to choose-as it did-said two Members.
I vote to dismiss the petition.
Endencia, J., concurs.
LABRADOR, J., dissenting:.
I dissent and herewith proceed to explain my reasons therefor.
The constitutional provision, in pursuance of which Senators Cuenco and Delgado were elected by the Senate
members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal is as follows:.
"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 of the House of
Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen by each House, three upon nomination of the party
having the largest number of votes and three of the party having the second largest number of votes therein. The
Senior Justice in each Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman." (Section II, Article VI of the Constitution.).
I hold that the above provision, just as any other constitutional provision, is mandatory in character and that this
character is true not only of the provision that nine members shall compose the tribunal but also that which defines
the manner in which the members shall be chosen. Such a holding is in accord with well-settled rules of statutory
construction.
"As a general proposition, there is greater likelihood that constitutional provisions will be given mandatory effect
than is true of any other class of organic law. Indeed, such a construction accords with the generally acknowledged
import of constitutional fiat; that its character is such as to require absolute compliance in all cases without
exception. And the very principles of our institutions, involving as they do concepts of constitutional supremacy, are
such as to form reasonable grounds for a presumption that the framers of a constitution intended that just such
efficacy be given to it .." (Sec. 5807, Sutherland Statutory Construction, Vol. 3, p.84.).
The majority helds that as Senator Taada, the only member of the Senate who does not belong to the
Nacionalista Party, has refused to exercise the constitutional privilege afforded him to nominate the two other
members the Senate may not elect said two other members. And the reason given for this ruling is the presumed
intention of the constitutional provision to safeguard the interests of the minority. This holding is subject to the
following fundamental objections. In the first Place, it renders nugatory the provision which fixes the membership of
the Senate Electoral Tribunal at nine, a provision which is admittedly a mandatory provision. In the second place, it
denies to the Senate the power that the constitutional provision expressly grants it, i. e., that of electing the
members of the Electoral Tribunal so in effect this right or prerogative is lodged, as a consequence of the refusal of
the minority member to nominate, in the hands of said member of the minority, contrary to the constitutional
provision. In the third place, it would make the supposedly procedural provision, the process of nomination lodged
in the minority party in the Senate, superior to and paramount over the power of election, which is in the whole
Senate itself. So by the ruling of the majority, a procedural provision overrides a substantive one and renders
nugatory the other more important mandatory provision that the Electoral Tribunal shall be composed of nine
members. In the fourth place, the majority decision has by interpretation inserted a provision in the Constitution,
which the Constitutional Convention alone had the power to introduce, namely, a proviso to the effect that if the
minority fails or refuses to exercise its privilege to nominate all the three members, the membership of the Electoral
Tribunal shall thereby be correspondingly reduced. This arrogation of power by us is not justified by any rule of law
or reason.
I consider the opinion of the Senate that the refusal of Senator Taada to nominate the two other members must
be construed as a waiver of a mere privilege, more in consonance not only with the constitutional provision as a
whole, but with the dictates of reason. The above principle (of waiver) furnishes the remedy by which two parts of
the constitutional provision, that which fixes membership at nine and that which outlines the procedure in which
said membership of nine may be elected, can be reconciled. Well known is the legal principle that provisions which
in their application may nullify each other should be reconciled to make them both effective, if the reconciliation can
be effected by the application of other legal principles. The reconciliation is brought about in this case by the
principle of waiver.
While I agree with the majority that it is the duty of this Court to step in, when a constitutional mandate is ignored,
to enforce said mandate even as against the other coordinate departments, this is not the occasion for it to do so,
for to say the least it does not clearly appear that the form and manner in which the Senate exercised its expressly
recognized power to elect its members to the Senate Electoral Tribunal has been clearly violative of the
constitutional mandate.
______________________________.
1 Casanovas vs. Hord, 8 Phil., 125; Omo vs. Insular Gov't., 11 Phil., 67; Weigall vs. Shuster, 11 Phil., 340;
Barrameda vs. Moir, 25 Phil., 44; Hamilton vs. McGirr, 30 Phil., 563; Compania Gral. de Tabacos vs. Board of
Public Utility Commissioners, 34 Phil., 136; Central Capiz vs. Ramirez, 40 Phil., 883; Concepcion vs. Paredes, 42
Phil 599; McDaniel vs. Apacible, 42 Phil., 749; U. S. vs. Ang Tan Ho, 43 Phil., 1; People vs. Pomar, 46 Phil., 440.
Agcaoili vs. Saguitan, 48 Phil., 676; Gov't. vs. Springer, 50 Phil., 259; Gov't. us. Agoncillo, 50 Phil., 348; Gov't. vs.
El Hogar Filipino, 50 Phil, 399; Manila Electric vs. Pasay Transp., 57 Phil., 600; Angara vs. Electoral Commission,
supra; People vs. Vera, 65 Phil., 56; Vargas vs. Rilloraza, 45 Off. Gaz., 3847; Endencia vs. David, 49 Off. Gaz.,
A822; Rutter vs. Esteban, 49 Off. Gaz., 1807; Comm. investment vs. Garcia, 49 Off. Gaz., 1801; Marbury vs.
Madison, 1 Cranch 137; Ex Parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333; Hepburn vs. Griswold, 8 Wall. 603; Knox vs. Lee, 12 Wall.
457; Civil Rights Cases [U. S. vs. M. Stanley; U. S. vs. M. Ryan, U. S. vs. S. Nichols; U. S. vs. Singleton; Robinson
vs. and Charleston Railroad Co.], 109 U. S. 3 Pollock vs. Farmers' Loan and Trust Co. 157 U. S. 429, 158 U. S.
601; Fairbanks vs. U. S., 181 U. S. 286.
2 Which, insofar as pertinent to the issues in the case at bar, is substantially identical to each of the Electoral
Tribunals under the Constitution as amended.
3 Araneta vs. Dinglasan, Barredo vs. Commission on Elections, and Rodriguez vs. Teasurer of the Philippines, 84
Phil., 368, 45 Off. Gaz., 4411, 4457; Nacionalista Party vs. Bautista, 85 Phil., 101, 47 Off. Gaz., 2356; Lacson vs.
Romero, 84 Phil., 740, 47 Off. Gaz., 1778; De los Santos vs. Mallare, 87 Phil., 289, 48 Off. Gaz., 1787; Lacson vs.
Roque, 92 Phil., 456, 49 Off. Gaz., 93; Jover Ledesma vs. Borra, 93 Phil., 506, 49 Off. Gaz., 2765; Ramos vs.
Avelino, 97 Phil., 844, 51 Off. Gaz., 5607.
______________________________ 4 "From the very nature of the American system of
government with Constitutions prescribing the jurisdiction and powers of each of the three branches of government,
it has devolved on the judiciary to determine whether the acts of the other two departments are in harmony with the
fundamental law. All the departments are of the government are unquestionably entitled and compelled to judge of
the Constitution for themselves; but, in doing so, they act under the obligations imposed in the instrument, and in
the order of time pointed out by it. When the, judiciary has once spoken, if the acts of the other two departments
are held to be unauthorized or despotic, in violation of the Constitution or the vested rights of the citizen, they
cease to be operative or binding.
x x x x x x x x x.
"Since the Constitution is intended for the observance of the judiciary as well as the other departments of
government and the judges are sworn to support its provisions, the court are not at liberty to overlook or disregard
its commands. It is their duty in authorized proceedings to give effect to the existing Constitution and to obey all
constitutional provisions irrespective of their opinion as to the wisdom of such provisions.
"In accordance with principles which are basic, the rule is fixed that the duty in a proper case to declare a law
unconstitutional cannot be declined and must be performed in accordance with the deliberate judgment of the
tribunal before which the validity of the enactment is directly drawn into question. When it is clear that a statute
transgresses the authority vested in the legislature by the Constitution, it is the duty of the courts to declare the act
unconstitutional cause they cannot shrink from it without violating their oaths of office. This duty of the courts to
maintain the Constitution as the fundamental law of the state is imperative and unceasing; and, as Chief Justice
Marshal said, whenever a statute is in violation of the fundamental law, the courts must so adjudge and thereby
give effect to the Constitution. Any other course would lead to the destruction of the Constitution. Since the
question as to the constitutionality of a statute is a judicial matter, the courts will not decline the exercise of
jurisdiction upon the suggestion that action might be taken by political agencies in disregard of the judgment of the
judicial tribunals." (11 Am. Jur., pp. 712-713, 713-715; emphasis supplied).
5 Rich vs. Board of Canvassers, 59 N. W. 183; State vs. McBride, 29 Am. Dec. 636; Collier vs. Frierson, 24 Ala.
100; State vs. Swift, 69 Ind. 505; State vs. Timme, 11 N.W. 785; Prohibition and Amendment Cases, 24 Kan. 700;
Kadderly vs. Portland, 74 Pac. 710; Koehler vs. Hill, 14 N. W. 738; State vs. Brockhart, 84 S. W. 1064; University
vs. Melver, 72 N. C. 76; Westinghausen vs. People, 6 N.W. 641; State vs. Powell, 27 South, 927; Bott vs. Wurtz,
43 Atl. 744; Rice vs. Palmer, 96 S. W. 396; State vs. Tooker, 37 Pac. 840.
6 "The procedure or manner of nomination cannot possibly affect the, constitutional mandate that the Assembly is
entitled to six in the Electoral Commission. When for lack of a minority representation in the Assembly the power to
nominate three minority members cannot be exercised, it logically follows that the only party in the Assembly may
nominate three others, otherwise the explicit mandate of the Constitution that there shall be six members from the
National Assembly would be nullified.
"In other words, fluctuations in the total membership of the Commission were not and could have been intended;
We cannot say that the Commission should have nine members during one legislative term and six members
during the next. Constitutional provisions must always have a consistent application. The membership of the
Commission is intended to be fixed and not variable and is not dependent upon the existence or non-existence of
one or more parties in the Assembly.
`A cardinal rule in dealing with Constitutions is that they should receive a consistent and uniform interpretation, so
they shall not be taken to mean one thing at one time and another thing at another time, even though the
circumstance may have so changed as to make a different rule seem desirable (11 Am. Jur. 659).'.
"It is undisputed of course that the primary purpose of the Convention in giving representation to the minority party
in the Electoral Commission was to safeguard the rights of the minority party and to protect their interests,
especially when the election of any member of the minority party is protected. The basic philosophy behind the
constitutional provision was to enable the minority party to act as a check on the majority of the Electoral
Commission, with the members of the Supreme Court as the balancing factor. Inasmuch, however, as there is no
minority party represented in the Assembly, the necessity for such a check by the minority party disappears. It is a
function that is expected to be exercised by the three Justices of the Supreme Court.
"To summarize, considering the plain terms of the constitutional provision in question, the changes that it has
undergone since it was first introduced until finally adopted by the Convention, as well as the considerations that
must have inspired the Constitutional Convention in adopting it as it is, I have come to the conclusion that the
Electoral Commission should be composed of nine members, three from the Supreme Court and six chosen by the
National Assembly to be nominated by the party in power, there being no other party entitled to such nomination."
Annex A to the Answers pp. 2-3.
6a Since 1939, when said opinion was rendered, the question therein raised has not been taken up or discussed,
until the events leading to the case at bar (in February 1956).
6b "Thus, in Suanes vs. Chief Accountant (supra)-in which the respondents maintained that the Electoral
Commission formed part of the National Assembly, citing in support thereof the principle of contemporaneous and
practical construction-this Court deemed it unnecessary to refute the same in order to adopt the opposite view.
7 Senator Laurel reiterated this view on the floor of the Senate, on February 22. 1956, in the following language:.
"And hence this provision that we find in the Constitution, three to represent, in the manner prescribed i n the
Constitution, the party that received the highest number of votes, meaning the majority party which is the
Nacionalista Party now, and three to represent the party receiving the next highest number of votes therein,
meaning the minority party, the party receiving the next highest number of votes. But there was a great deal of
opinion that it would be better if this political organization, so far as the legislative department is concerned, could
be tempered by a sort of a judicial reflection which could be done by drafting three, as to each Electoral Tribunal,
from the Supreme Court. And that, I think, was the reason because a great majority of the delegates to the
constitutional convention accepted that principle. That is why we have nine members in each electoral tribunal, in
the House and in the Senate. And one reason that I remember then and I am speaking from memory, Mr.
President, was that it is likely that the three members representing a party would naturally favor the protestants or
protestees, and so on. So it would be better that even on that hypothesis or on that supposition it would be better,
in case they annul each other because three votes in favor or three votes against, depending on the party of the
protestants or the protestees, that the Supreme Court decide the case because then it would be a judicial decision
in reality. Another reason is founded on the theory that the Justices of the Supreme Court are supposed to be
beyond influence, although that may not be true. But having reached the highest judicial position of the land, these
persons would likely act impartially." (Congressional Record for the Senate Vol. III, p. 376.).
8 When the legislative power was vested in a unicameral body, known as the National Assembly.
9 Upon the substitution of the National Assembly by a bicameral Congress, consisting of the Senate and the House
of Representatives.
10 Senator Lim said:.
"But in the spirit, Your Honor can see very well that those three should belong to the party having the second
largest number of votes, precisely, as Your Honor said, to maintain equilibrium because partisan considerations
naturally enter into the mind and heart of a senator belonging to a particular party. Although grammatically, I agree
with Your Honor, Your Honor can see that the spirit of the provision of the Constitution is clear that the three must
come from the party having the highest number of votes and the other three nominated must belong to the party
having the second highest number of votes. Your Honor can see the point. If we allow Your Honor to back up your
argument that equilibrium should be maintained, because partisan considerations enter when one is with the
majority party, and that no party should prevail, Your Honor should also have to consider that the spirit of the
Constitution is precisely to obviate that to the extent that the only three can be nominated from the party having the
largest number of votes and three from the party having the second largest number of votes." (Congressional
Record of the Senate, Vol. Ill, p, 337; emphasis supplied.).
________________________________.
The statement of Senator Sabido was:.
".. the purpose of the creation of the Electoral Tribunal and of its composition is to maintain a balance between the
two parties and make the members of the Supreme Court the controlling power so to speak of the Electoral
Tribunal or hold the balance of power. That is the ideal situation.".
x x x x x x x x x.
".. I said that the ideal composition in the contemplation of the framers of the Constitution is that those participating
in the electoral tribunal shall belong to the members of the party who are before the electoral tribunal either as
protestants or protestees, in order to insure impartiality in the proceeding and justice in the decision that may be
finally rendered." (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, pp. 349, 352; emphasis supplied.).
____________________________________.
Senator Cea declared:.
".. the original purpose of the Constitution is to nominate only members of the two major parties in the Senate in the
Electoral Tribunal." (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, p. 350; emphasis supplied.).
The words of Senator Paredes were:.
".. what was intended in the creation of the electoral tribunal was to create a sort of collegiate court composed of
nine members three of them belonging to the party having largest number of votes, and three from, the party
having the second largest number of votes so that these members my represent the party, and the members of
said party who will sit before the electoral tribunal as protestees. For when it comes to a party, Mr. President, there
is ground to believe that decisions will be made along party lines." (Congressional Record for the Senate, Vol. III, p.
351; emphasis supplied.).
11 The need of adopting this view is demanded, not only by the factors already adverted to, but, also, by the fact
that constitutional provisions, unlike statutory enactments, are presumed to be mandatory, "unless the contrary is
unmistakably manifest." The pertinent rule of statutory construction is set forth in the American Jurisprudence as
follows:.
"In the interpretation of Constitutions, questions frequently arise as to whether particular sections are mandatory or
directory. The courts usually hesitate to declare that a constitutional provision is directory merely in view of the
tendency of the legislature to disregard provisions which are not said to be mandatory. Accordingly, it is the general
rule to regard constitutional provisions as mandatory, and not to leave any direction to the will of a legislature to
obey or to disregard them. This presumption as to mandatory quality is usually followed unless it is unmistakably
manifest that the provisions are intended to be merely directory. The analogous rules distinguishing mandatory and
directory statutes are of little value in this connection and are rarely applied in passing upon the provisions of a
Constitution.
"So strong is the inclination in favor of giving obligatory force to the terms of the organic law that it has even been
said that neither by the courts nor by any other department of the government may any provision of the Constitution
be regarded as merely directory, but that each and everyone of its provisions should be treated as imperative and
mandatory, without reference to the rules and distinguishing between the directory and the mandatory statutes." (II
Am. Jur. 686-687; emphasis supplied.).
12 Which admittedly, has the second largest number of votes in the Senate.
13 In Angara vs. Electoral Commission (supra, 169) Senator, then Justice, Laurel, speaking for this Court, recalled
that:.
"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."(emphasis
supplied.).
Needless to say, what the Constitutional Convention thus precluded from being done by direct action or grant of
authority in the Charter of our Republic should not receive judicial sanction, when done by resolution of one House
of Congress, a mere creature of said charter.
14 Namely, the other two (2) Justices of the Supreme Court and Senators Laurel, Lopez and Primicias, or a total of
six (6) members of the Tribunal.
G.R. No. L-44640 October 12, 1976
PABLO C. SANIDAD and PABLITO V. SANIDAD, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COMMISSION ON
ELECTIONS and HONORABLE NATIONAL TREASURER, respondents.
G.R. No. L-44684. October 12,1976
VICENTE M. GUZMAN, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ELECTIONS, respondent.
G.R. No. L-44714. October 12,1976
RAUL M. GONZALES, RAUL T. GONZALES, JR., and ALFREDO SALAPANTAN, petitioners,
vs. HONORABLE COMMISSION ON SELECTIONS and HONORABLE NATIONAL TREASURER,
respondents.
MARTIN, J ,:
The capital question raised in these prohibition suits with preliminary injunction relates to the power of the
incumbent President of the Philippines to propose amendments to the present Constitution in the absence of the
interim National Assembly which has not been convened.
On September 2, 1976, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 991 calling for a national
referendum on October 16, 1976 for the Citizens Assemblies ("barangays") to resolve, among other things, the
issues of martial law, the I . assembly, its replacement, the powers of such replacement, the period of its existence,
the length of the period for tile exercise by the President of his present powers.1
Twenty days after or on September 22, 1976, the President issued another related decree, Presidential Decree No.
1031, amending the previous Presidential Decree No. 991, by declaring the provisions of presidential Decree No.
229 providing for the manner of voting and canvass of votes in "barangays" (Citizens Assemblies) applicable to the
national referendum-plebiscite of October 16, 1976. Quite relevantly, Presidential Decree No. 1031 repealed
Section 4, of Presidential Decree No. 991, the full text of which (Section 4) is quoted in the footnote below.
2

On the same date of September 22, 1976, the President issued Presidential Decree No. 1033, stating the
questions to be submitted to the people in the referendum-plebiscite on October 16, 1976. The Decree recites in its
"whereas" clauses that the people's continued opposition to the convening of the National Assembly evinces their
desire to have such body abolished and replaced thru a constitutional amendment, providing for a legislative body,
which will be submitted directly to the people in the referendum-plebiscite of October 16.
The questions ask, to wit:
(1) Do you want martial law to be continued?
(2) Whether or not you want martial law to be continued, do you approve the following amendments to the
Constitution? For the purpose of the second question, the referendum shall have the effect of a plebiscite within the
contemplation of Section 2 of Article XVI of the Constitution.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS:
1. There shall be, in lieu of the interim National Assembly, an interim Batasang Pambansa. Members of the interim
Batasang Pambansa which shall not be more than 120, unless otherwise provided by law, shall include the
incumbent President of the Philippines, representatives elected from the different regions of the nation, those who
shall not be less than eighteen years of age elected by their respective sectors, and those chosen by the
incumbent President from the members of the Cabinet. Regional representatives shall be apportioned among the
regions in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and on the basis of a uniform and
progressive ratio while the sectors shall be determined by law. The number of representatives from each region or
sector and the, manner of their election shall be prescribed and regulated by law.
2. The interim Batasang Pambansa shall have the same powers and its members shall have the same functions,
responsibilities, rights, privileges, and disqualifications as the interim National Assembly and the regular National
Assembly and the members thereof. However, it shall not exercise the power provided in Article VIII, Section 14(l)
of the Constitution.
3. The incumbent President of the Philippines shall, within 30 days from the election and selection of the members,
convene the interim Batasang Pambansa and preside over its sessions until the Speaker shall have been elected.
The incumbent President of the Philippines shall be the Prime Minister and he shall continue to exercise all his
powers even after the interim Batasang Pambansa is organized and ready to discharge its functions and likewise
he shall continue to exercise his powers and prerogatives under the nineteen hundred and thirty five. Constitution
and the powers vested in the President and the Prime Minister under this Constitution.
4. The President (Prime Minister) and his Cabinet shall exercise all the powers and functions, and discharge the
responsibilities of the regular President (Prime Minister) and his Cabinet, and shall be subject only to such
disqualifications as the President (Prime Minister) may prescribe. The President (Prime Minister) if he so desires
may appoint a Deputy Prime Minister or as many Deputy Prime Ministers as he may deem necessary.
5. The incumbent President shall continue to exercise legislative powers until martial law shall have been lifted.
6. Whenever in the judgment of the President (Prime Minister), there exists a grave emergency or a threat or
imminence thereof, or whenever the interim Batasang Pambansa or the regular National Assembly fails or is
unable to act adequately on any matter for any reason that in his judgment requires immediate action, he may, in
order to meet the exigency, issue the necessary decrees, orders or letters of instructions, which shall form part of
the law of the land.
7. The barangays and sanggunians shall continue as presently constituted but their functions, powers, and
composition may be altered by law.
Referenda conducted thru the barangays and under the Supervision of the Commission on Elections may be called
at any time the government deems it necessary to ascertain the will of the people regarding any important matter
whether of national or local interest.
8. All provisions of this Constitution not inconsistent with any of these amendments shall continue in full force and
effect.
9. These amendments shall take effect after the incumbent President shall have proclaimed that they have been
ratified by I majority of the votes cast in the referendum-plebiscite."
The Commission on Elections was vested with the exclusive supervision and control of the October 1976 National
Referendum-Plebiscite.
On September 27, 1976, PABLO C. SANIDAD and PABLITO V. SANIDAD, father and son, commenced L-44640
for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction seeking to enjoin the Commission on Elections from holding and
conducting the Referendum Plebiscite on October 16; to declare without force and effect Presidential Decree Nos.
991 and 1033, insofar as they propose amendments to the Constitution, as well as Presidential Decree No. 1031,
insofar as it directs the Commission on Elections to supervise, control, hold, and conduct the Referendum-
Plebiscite scheduled on October 16, 1976.
Petitioners contend that under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions there is no grant to the incumbent President to
exercise the constituent power to propose amendments to the new Constitution. As a consequence, the
Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16 has no constitutional or legal basis.
On October 5, 1976, the Solicitor General filed the comment for respondent Commission on Elections, The Solicitor
General principally maintains that petitioners have no standing to sue; the issue raised is political in nature, beyond
judicial cognizance of this Court; at this state of the transition period, only the incumbent President has the
authority to exercise constituent power; the referendum-plebiscite is a step towards normalization.
On September 30, 1976, another action for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction, docketed as L-44684, was
instituted by VICENTE M. GUZMAN, a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, asserting that the power to
propose amendments to, or revision of the Constitution during the transition period is expressly conferred on the
interim National Assembly under Section 16, Article XVII of the Constitution.3
Still another petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction was filed on October 5, 1976 by RAUL M.
GONZALES, his son RAUL, JR., and ALFREDO SALAPANTAN, docketed as L- 44714, to restrain the
implementation of Presidential Decrees relative to the forthcoming Referendum-Plebiscite of October 16.
These last petitioners argue that even granting him legislative powers under Martial Law, the incumbent President
cannot act as a constituent assembly to propose amendments to the Constitution; a referendum-plebiscite is
untenable under the Constitutions of 1935 and 1973; the submission of the proposed amendments in such a short
period of time for deliberation renders the plebiscite a nullity; to lift Martial Law, the President need not consult the
people via referendum; and allowing 15-.year olds to vote would amount to an amendment of the Constitution,
which confines the right of suffrage to those citizens of the Philippines 18 years of age and above.
We find the petitions in the three entitled cases to be devoid of merit.
I
Justiciability of question raised.
1. As a preliminary resolution, We rule that the petitioners in L-44640 (Pablo C. Sanidad and Pablito V. Sanidad)
possess locus standi to challenge the constitutional premise of Presidential Decree Nos. 991, 1031, and 1033. It is
now an ancient rule that the valid source of a stature Presidential Decrees are of such nature-may be contested by
one who will sustain a direct injuries as a in result of its enforcement. At the instance of taxpayers, laws providing
for the disbursement of public funds may be enjoined, upon the theory that the expenditure of public funds by an
officer of the State for the purpose of executing an unconstitutional act constitutes a misapplication of such funds. 4
The breadth of Presidential Decree No. 991 carries all appropriation of Five Million Pesos for the effective
implementation of its purposes. 5 Presidential Decree No. 1031 appropriates the sum of Eight Million Pesos to
carry out its provisions. 6 The interest of the aforenamed petitioners as taxpayers in the lawful expenditure of these
amounts of public money sufficiently clothes them with that personality to litigate the validity of the Decrees
appropriating said funds. Moreover, as regards taxpayer's suits, this Court enjoys that open discretion to entertain
the same or not. 7 For the present case, We deem it sound to exercise that discretion affirmatively so that the
authority upon which the disputed Decrees are predicated may be inquired into.
2. The Solicitor General would consider the question at bar as a pure political one, lying outside the domain of
judicial review. We disagree. The amending process both as to proposal and ratification, raises a judicial question.
8 This is especially true in cases where the power of the Presidency to initiate the of normally exercised by the
legislature, is seriously doubted. Under the terms of the 1973 Constitution, the power to propose amendments o
the constitution resides in the interim National Assembly in the period of transition (See. 15, Transitory provisions).
After that period, and the regular National Assembly in its active session, the power to propose amendments
becomes ipso facto the prerogative of the regular National Assembly (Sec. 1, pars. 1 and 2 of Art. XVI, 1973
constitution). The normal course has not been followed. Rather than calling the National Assembly to constitute
itself into a constituent assembly the incumbent President undertook the proposal of amendments and submitted
the proposed amendments thru Presidential Decree 1033 to the people in a Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16.
Unavoidably, the regularity regularity of the procedure for amendments, written in lambent words in the very
Constitution sought to be amended, raises a contestable issue. The implementing Presidential Decree Nos. 991,
1031, and 1033, which commonly purport to have the force and effect of legislation are assailed as invalid, thus the
issue of the validity of said Decrees is plainly a justiciable one, within the competence of this Court to pass upon.
Section 2 (2), Article X of the new Constitution provides: "All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty,
executive agreement, or law may shall be heard and decided by the Supreme Court en banc and no treaty,
executive agreement, or law may be declared unconstitutional without the concurrence of at least ten Members. ..."
The Supreme Court has the last word in the construction not only of treaties and statutes, but also of the
Constitution itself The amending, like all other powers organized in the Constitution, is in form a delegated and
hence a limited power, so that the Supreme Court is vested with that authorities to determine whether that power
has been discharged within its limits.
Political questions are neatly associated with the wisdom, of the legality of a particular act. Where the vortex of the
controversy refers to the legality or validity of the contested act, that matter is definitely justiciable or non-political.
What is in the heels of the Court is not the wisdom of the act of the incumbent President in proposing amendments
to the Constitution, but his constitutional authority to perform such act or to assume the power of a constituent
assembly. Whether the amending process confers on the President that power to propose amendments is
therefore a downright justiciable question. Should the contrary be found, the actuation of the President would
merely be a brutum fulmen. If the Constitution provides how it may be amended, the judiciary as the interpreter of
that Constitution, can declare whether the procedure followed or the authority assumed was valid or not.
10

We cannot accept the view of the Solicitor General, in pursuing his theory of non-justiciability, that the question of
the President's authority to propose amendments and the regularity of the procedure adopted for submission of the
proposal to the people ultimately lie in the judgment of the A clear Descartes fallacy of vicious circle. Is it not that
the people themselves, by their sovereign act, provided for the authority and procedure for the amending process
when they ratified the present Constitution in 1973? Whether, therefore, the constitutional provision has been
followed or not is the proper subject of inquiry, not by the people themselves of course who exercise no power of
judicial but by the Supreme Court in whom the people themselves vested that power, a power which includes the
competence to determine whether the constitutional norms for amendments have been observed or not. And, this
inquiry must be done a prior not a posterior i.e., before the submission to and ratification by the people.
Indeed, the precedents evolved by the Court or, prior constitutional cases underline the preference of the Court's
majority to treat such issue of Presidential role in the amending process as one of non-political impression. In the
Plebiscite Cases,
11
the contention of the Solicitor General that the issue on the legality of Presidential Decree No.
73 "submitting to the Pilipino people (on January 15, 1973) for ratification or rejection the Constitution of the
Republic of the Philippines proposed by the 1971 Constitutional Convention and appropriating fund s therefore "is a
political one, was rejected and the Court unanimously considered the issue as justiciable in nature. Subsequently in
the Ratification Cases
12
involving the issue of whether or not the validity of Presidential Proclamation No. 1102.
announcing the Ratification by the Filipino people of the constitution proposed by the 1971 Constitutional
Convention," partakes of the nature of a political question, the affirmative stand of' the Solicitor General was
dismissed, the Court ruled that the question raised is justiciable. Chief Justice Concepcion, expressing the majority
view, said, Thus, in the aforementioned plebiscite cases, We rejected the theory of the respondents therein that the
question whether Presidential Decree No. 73 calling a plebiscite to be held on January 15, 1973, for the ratification
or rejection of the proposed new Constitution, was valid or not, was not a proper subject of judicial inquiry because,
they claimed, it partook of a political nature, and We unanimously declared that the issue was a justiciable one.
With Identical unanimity. We overruled the respondent's contention in the 1971 habeas corpus cases, questioning
Our authority to determine the constitutional sufficiency of the factual bases of the Presidential proclamation
suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus on August 21, 1971, despite the opposite view taken by this
Court in Barcelon vs. Baker and Montenegro vs. Castaneda, insofar as it adhered to the former case, which view
We, accordingly, abandoned and refused to apply. For the same reason, We did not apply and expressly modified,
in Gonzales vs. Commission on Elections, the political-question theory adopted in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito."
13
The
return to Barcelon vs. Baker and Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, urged by the Solicitor General, was decisively refused
by the Court. Chief Justice Concepcion continued: "The reasons adduced in support thereof are, however,
substantially the same as those given in support on the political question theory advanced in said habeas corpus
and plebiscite cases, which were carefully considered by this Court and found by it to be legally unsound and
constitutionally untenable. As a consequence. Our decisions in the aforementioned habeas corpus cases partakes
of the nature and effect of a stare decisis which gained added weight by its virtual reiteration."
II
The amending process as laid out
in the new Constitution.
1. Article XVI of the 1973 Constitution on Amendments ordains:
SECTION 1. (1) Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by the National Assembly
upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members, or by a constitutional convention. (2) The National Assembly may,
by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention or, by a majority vote of all its Members,
submit the question of calling such a convention to the electorate in an election.
SECTION 2. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the
votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not later than three months after the approval of such amendment or
revision.
In the present period of transition, the interim National Assembly instituted in the Transitory Provisions is conferred
with that amending power. Section 15 of the Transitory Provisions reads:
SECTION 15. The interim National Assembly, upon special call by the interim Prime Minister, may, by a majority
vote of all its Members, propose amendments to this Constitution. Such amendments shall take effect when ratified
in accordance with Article Sixteen hereof.
There are, therefore, two periods contemplated in the constitutional life of the nation, i.e., period of normalcy and
period of transition. In times of normally, the amending process may be initiated by the proposals of the (1) regular
National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or (2) by a Constitutional Convention called by a
vote of two-thirds of all the Members of the National Assembly. However the calling of a Constitutional Convention
may be submitted to the electorate in an election voted upon by a majority vote of all the members of the National
Assembly. In times of transition, amendments may be proposed by a majority vote of all the Members of the
National Assembly upon special call by the interim Prime Minister,.
2. This Court in Aquino v. COMELEC," had already settled that the incumbent President is vested with that
prerogative of discretion as to when he shall initially convene the interim National Assembly. Speaking for the
majority opinion in that case, Justice Makasiar said: "The Constitutional Convention intended to leave to the
President the determination of the time when he shall initially convene the interim National Assembly, consistent
with the prevailing conditions of peace and order in the country." Concurring, Justice Fernandez, himself a member
of that Constitutional Convention, revealed: "(W)hen the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention voted on the
Transitory Provisions, they were aware of the fact that under the same, the incumbent President was given the
discretion as to when he could convene the interim National Assembly; it was so stated plainly by the sponsor,
Delegate Yaneza; as a matter of fact, the proposal that it be convened 'immediately', made by Delegate Pimentel
(V) was rejected. The President's decision to defer the convening of the interim National Assembly soon found
support from the people themselves. In the plebiscite of January 10-15, 1973, at which the ratification of the 1973
Constitution was submitted, the people voted against the convening of the interim National Assembly. In the
referendum of July 24, 1973, the Citizens Assemblies ("bagangays") reiterated their sovereign will to withhold the
convening of the interim National Assembly. Again, in the referendum of February 27, 1975, the proposed question
of whether the interim National Assembly shall be initially convened was eliminated, because some of the members
of Congress and delegates of the Constitutional Convention, who were deemed automatically members of the I
interim National Assembly, were against its inclusion since in that referendum of January, 1973, the people had
already resolved against it.
3. In sensu strictiore, when the legislative arm of the state undertakes the proposals of amendment to a
Constitution, that body is not in the usual function of lawmaking. lt is not legislating when engaged in the amending
process.16 Rather, it is exercising a peculiar power bestowed upon it by the fundamental charter itself. In the
Philippines, that power is provided for in Article XVI of the 1973 Constitution (for the regular National Assembly) or
in Section 15 of the Transitory Provisions (for the National Assembly). While ordinarily it is the business of the
legislating body to legislate for the nation by virtue of constitutional conferment amending of the Constitution is not
legislative in character. In political science a distinction is made between constitutional content of an organic
character and that of a legislative character'. The distinction, however, is one of policy, not of law.
17
Such being the
case, approval of the President of any proposed amendment is a misnomer
18
The prerogative of the President to
approve or disapprove applies only to the ordinary cases of legislation. The President has nothing to do with
proposition or adoption of amendments to the Constitution.
19

III
Concentration of Powers
in the President during
crisis government.
1. In general, the governmental powers in crisis government the Philippines is a crisis government today are more
or less concentrated in the President.
20
According to Rossiter, "(t)he concentration of government power in a
democracy faced by an emergency is a corrective to the crisis inefficiencies inherent in the doctrine of the
separation of powers. In most free states it has generally been regarded as imperative that the total power of the
government be parceled out among three mutually independent branches executive, legislature, and judiciary. It is
believed to be destructive of constitutionalism if any one branch should exercise any two or more types of power,
and certainly a total disregard of the separation of powers is, as Madison wrote in the Federalist, No. 47, 'the very
definition of tyranny.' In normal times the separation of powers forms a distinct obstruction to arbitrary
governmental action. By this same token, in abnormal times it may form an insurmountable barrier to a decisive
emergency action in behalf of the state and its independent existence. There are moments in the life of any
government when all powers must work together in unanimity of purpose and action, even if this means the
temporary union of executive, legislative, and judicial power in the hands of one man. The more complete the
separation of powers in a constitutional system, the more difficult and yet the more necessary will be their fusion in
time of crisis. This is evident in a comparison of the crisis potentialities of the cabinet and presidential systems of
government. In the former the all-important harmony of legislature and executive is taken for granted; in the latter it
is neither guaranteed nor to be to confidently expected. As a result, cabinet is more easily established and more
trustworthy than presidential dictatorship. The power of the state in crisis must not only be concentrated and
expanded; it must also be freed from the normal system of constitutional and legal limitations.
21
John Locke, on the
other hand, claims for the executive in its own right a broad discretion capable even of setting aside the ordinary
laws in the meeting of special exigencies for which the legislative power had not provided.
22
The rationale behind
such broad emergency powers of the Executive is the release of the government from "the paralysis of
constitutional restrains" so that the crisis may be ended and normal times restored.
2. The presidential exercise of legislative powers in time of martial law is now a conceded valid at. That sun clear
authority of the President is saddled on Section 3 (pars. 1 and 2) of the Transitory Provisions, thus:
23

The incumbent President of the Philippines shall initially convene the interim National Assembly and shall preside
over its sessions until the interim Speaker shall have been elected. He shall continue to exercise his powers and
prerogatives under the nineteen hundred and thirty-five Constitution and the powers vested in the President and
the Prime Minister under this Constitution until the calls upon the interim National Assembly to elect the interim
President and the interim Prime Minister, who shall then exercise their respective powers vested by this
Constitution.
All proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, and acts promulgated, issued, or done by the incumbent President
shall be part of the law of the land, and shall remain valid, binding, and effective even after lifting of martial law or
the ratification of this Constitution, unless modified, revoked, or superseded by subsequent proclamations, orders,
decrees, instructions, or other acts of the incumbent President, or unless expressly and explicitly modified or
repealed by the regular National Assembly.
"It is unthinkable," said Justice Fernandez, a 1971 Constitutional Convention delegate, "that the Constitutional
Convention, while giving to the President the discretion when to call the interim National Assembly to session, and
knowing that it may not be convened soon, would create a vacuum in the exercise of legislative powers. Otherwise,
with no one to exercise the lawmaking powers, there would be paralyzation of the entire governmental machinery."
24
Paraphrasing Rossiter, this is an extremely important factor in any constitutional dictatorship which extends over
a period of time. The separation of executive and legislature ordained in the Constitution presents a distinct
obstruction to efficient crisis government. The steady increase in executive power is not too much a cause for as
the steady increase in the magnitude and complexity of the problems the President has been called upon by the
Filipino people to solve in their behalf, which involve rebellion, subversion, secession, recession, inflation, and
economic crisis-a crisis greater than war. In short, while conventional constitutional law just confines the
President's power as Commander-in-Chief to the direction of the operation of the national forces, yet the facts of
our political, social, and economic disturbances had convincingly shown that in meeting the same, indefinite power
should be attributed to tile President to take emergency measures
25

IV
Authority of the incumbent
President t to propose
amendments to the Constitution.
1. As earlier pointed out, the power to legislate is constitutionally consigned to the interim National Assembly during
the transition period. However, the initial convening of that Assembly is a matter fully addressed to the judgment of
the incumbent President. And, in the exercise of that judgment, the President opted to defer convening of that body
in utter recognition of the people's preference. Likewise, in the period of transition, the power to propose
amendments to the Constitution lies in the interim National Assembly upon special call by the President (See. 15 of
the Transitory Provisions). Again, harking to the dictates of the sovereign will, the President decided not to call the
interim National Assembly. Would it then be within the bounds of the Constitution and of law for the President to
assume that constituent power of the interim Assembly vis-a-vis his assumption of that body's legislative functions?
The answer is yes. If the President has been legitimately discharging the legislative functions of the interim
Assembly, there is no reason why he cannot validly discharge the function of that Assembly to propose
amendments to the Constitution, which is but adjunct, although peculiar, to its gross legislative power. This, of
course, is not to say that the President has converted his office into a constituent assembly of that nature normally
constituted by the legislature. Rather, with the interim National Assembly not convened and only the Presidency
and the Supreme Court in operation, the urges of absolute necessity render it imperative upon the President to act
as agent for and in behalf of the people to propose amendments to the Constitution. Parenthetically, by its very
constitution, the Supreme Court possesses no capacity to propose amendments without constitutional infractions.
For the President to shy away from that actuality and decline to undertake the amending process would leave the
governmental machineries at a stalemate or create in the powers of the State a destructive vacuum, thereby
impeding the objective of a crisis government "to end the crisis and restore normal times." In these parlous times,
that Presidential initiative to reduce into concrete forms the constant voices of the people reigns supreme. After all,
constituent assemblies or constitutional conventions, like the President now, are mere agents of the people .26
2. The President's action is not a unilateral move. As early as the referendums of January 1973 and February
1975, the people had already rejected the calling of the interim National Assembly. The Lupong Tagapagpaganap
of the Katipunan ng mga Sanggunian, the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Barangay, and the Pambansang
Katipunan ng mga Barangay, representing 42,000 barangays, about the same number of Kabataang Barangay
organizations, Sanggunians in 1,458 municipalities, 72 provinces, 3 sub-provinces, and 60 cities had informed the
President that the prevailing sentiment of the people is for the abolition of the interim National Assembly. Other
issues concerned the lifting of martial law and amendments to the Constitution .27 The national organizations of
Sangguniang Bayan presently proposed to settle the issues of martial law, the interim Assembly, its replacement,
the period of its existence, the length of the period for the exercise by the President of its present powers in a
referendum to be held on October 16 .
28
The Batasang Bayan (legislative council) created under Presidential
Decree 995 of September 10, 1976, composed of 19 cabinet members, 9 officials with cabinet rank, 91 members of
the Lupong Tagapagpaganap (executive committee) of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Bayan voted in
session to submit directly to the people in a plebiscite on October 16, the previously quoted proposed amendments
to the Constitution, including the issue of martial law .29 Similarly, the "barangays" and the "sanggunians"
endorsed to the President the submission of the proposed amendments to the people on October 16. All the
foregoing led the President to initiate the proposal of amendments to the Constitution and the subsequent issuance
of Presidential Decree No, 1033 on September 22, 1976 submitting the questions (proposed amendments) to the
people in the National Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16.
V
The People is Sovereign
1. Unlike in a federal state, the location of sovereignty in a unitary state is easily seen. In the Philippines, a
republican and unitary state, sovereignty "resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them
.30 In its fourth meaning, Savigny would treat people as "that particular organized assembly of individuals in which,
according to the Constitution, the highest power exists."
31
This is the concept of popular sovereignty. It means that
the constitutional legislator, namely the people, is sovereign
32
In consequence, the people may thus write into the
Constitution their convictions on any subject they choose in the absence of express constitutional prohibition.
33

This is because, as Holmes said, the Constitution "is an experiment, as all life is all experiment."
34
"The necessities
of orderly government," wrote Rottschaefer, "do not require that one generation should be permitted to permanently
fetter all future generations." A constitution is based, therefore, upon a self-limiting decision of the people when
they adopt it.
35

2. The October 16 referendum-plebiscite is a resounding call to the people to exercise their sovereign power as
constitutional legislator. The proposed amendments, as earlier discussed, proceed not from the thinking of a single
man. Rather, they are the collated thoughts of the sovereign will reduced only into enabling forms by the authority
who can presently exercise the powers of the government. In equal vein, the submission of those proposed
amendments and the question of martial law in a referendum-plebiscite expresses but the option of the people
themselves implemented only by the authority of the President. Indeed, it may well be said that the amending
process is a sovereign act, although the authority to initiate the same and the procedure to be followed reside
somehow in a particular body.
VI
Referendum-Plebiscite not
rendered nugatory by the
participation of the 15-year olds.
1. October 16 is in parts a referendum and a plebiscite. The question - (1) Do you want martial law to be
continued? - is a referendum question, wherein the 15-year olds may participate. This was prompted by the desire
of the Government to reach the larger mas of the people so that their true pulse may be felt to guide the President
in pursuing his program for a New Order. For the succeeding question on the proposed amendments, only those of
voting age of 18 years may participate. This is the plebiscite aspect, as contemplated in Section 2, Article XVI of
the new Constitution.
36
On this second question, it would only be the votes of those 18 years old and above which
will have valid bearing on the results. The fact that the voting populace are simultaneously asked to answer the
referendum question and the plebiscite question does not infirm the referendum-plebiscite. There is nothing
objectionable in consulting the people on a given issue, which is of current one and submitting to them for
ratification of proposed constitutional amendments. The fear of commingled votes (15-year olds and 18-year olds
above) is readily dispelled by the provision of two ballot boxes for every barangay center, one containing the ballots
of voters fifteen years of age and under eighteen, and another containing the ballots of voters eighteen years of
age and above.
37
The ballots in the ballot box for voters fifteen years of age and under eighteen shall be counted
ahead of the ballots of voters eighteen years and above contained in another ballot box. And, the results of the
referendum-plebiscite shall be separately prepared for the age groupings, i.e., ballots contained in each of the two
boxes.
38

2. It is apt to distinguish here between a "referendum" and a "plebiscite." A "referendum" is merely consultative in
character. It is simply a means of assessing public reaction to the given issues submitted to the people foe their
consideration, the calling of which is derived from or within the totality of the executive power of the President.
39
It
is participated in by all citizens from the age of fifteen, regardless of whether or not they are illiterates, feeble-
minded, or ex- convicts .
40
A "plebiscite," on the other hand, involves the constituent act of those "citizens of the
Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are eighteen years of age or over, and who shall have resided in
the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months preceding
the election Literacy, property or any other substantive requirement is not imposed. It is generally associated with
the amending process of the Constitution, more particularly, the ratification aspect.
VII
1. There appeals to be no valid basis for the claim that the regime of martial law stultifies in main the freedom to
dissent. That speaks of a bygone fear. The martial law regime which, in the observation of Justice Fernando,
41
is
impressed with a mild character recorded no State imposition for a muffled voice. To be sure, there are restraints of
the individual liberty, but on certain grounds no total suppression of that liberty is aimed at. The for the referendum-
plebiscite on October 16 recognizes all the embracing freedoms of expression and assembly The President himself
had announced that he would not countenance any suppression of dissenting views on the issues, as he is not
interested in winning a "yes" or "no" vote, but on the genuine sentiment of the people on the issues at hand.
42

Thus, the dissenters soon found their way to the public forums, voicing out loud and clear their adverse views on
the proposed amendments and even (in the valid ratification of the 1973 Constitution, which is already a settled
matter.
43
Even government employees have been held by the Civil Service Commission free to participate in public
discussion and even campaign for their stand on the referendum-plebiscite issues.
44

VIII
Time for deliberation
is not short.
1. The period from September 21 to October 16 or a period of 3 weeks is not too short for free debates or
discussions on the referendum-plebiscite issues. The questions are not new. They are the issues of the day. The
people have been living with them since the proclamation of martial law four years ago. The referendums of 1973
and 1975 carried the same issue of martial law. That notwithstanding, the contested brief period for discussion is
not without counterparts in previous plebiscites for constitutional amendments. Justice Makasiar, in the
Referendum Case, recalls: "Under the old Society, 15 days were allotted for the publication in three consecutive
issues of the Official Gazette of the women's suffrage amendment to the Constitution before the scheduled
plebiscite on April 30, 1937 (Com. Act No. 34). The constitutional amendment to append as ordinance the
complicated Tydings-Kocialskowski was published in only three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette for 10
days prior to the scheduled plebiscite (Com. Act 492). For the 1940 Constitutional amendments providing for the
bicameral Congress, the reelection of the President and Vice President, and the creation of the Commission on
Elections, 20 days of publication in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette was fixed (Com Act No. 517).
And the Parity Amendment, an involved constitutional amendment affecting the economy as well as the
independence of the Republic was publicized in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette for 20 days prior to
the plebiscite (Rep. Act No. 73)."
45

2. It is worthy to note that Article XVI of the Constitution makes no provision as to the specific date when the
plebiscite shall be held, but simply states that it "shall be held not later than three months after the approval of such
amendment or revision." In Coleman v. Miller,
46
the United States Supreme court held that this matter of
submission involves "an appraisal of a great variety of relevant conditions, political, social and economic," which
"are essentially political and not justiciable." The constituent body or in the instant cases, the President, may fix the
time within which the people may act. This is because proposal and ratification are not treated as unrelated acts,
but as succeeding steps in a single endeavor, the natural inference being that they are not to be widely separated
in time; second, it is only when there is deemed to be a necessity therefor that amendments are to be proposed,
the reasonable implication being that when proposed, they are to be considered and disposed of presently, and
third, ratification is but the expression of the approbation of the people, hence, it must be done contemporaneously.
47
In the words of Jameson, "(a)n alteration of the Constitution proposed today has relation to the sentiment and the
felt needs of today, and that, if not ratified early while that sentiment may fairly be supposed to exist. it ought to be
regarded as waived, and not again to be voted upon, unless a second time proposed by proper body
IN RESUME
The three issues are
1. Is the question of the constitutionality of Presidential Decrees Nos. 991, 1031 and 1033 political or justiciable?
2. During the present stage of the transition period, and under, the environmental circumstances now obtaining,
does the President possess power to propose amendments to the Constitution as well as set up the required
machinery and prescribe the procedure for the ratification of his proposals by the people?
3. Is the submission to the people of the proposed amendments within the time frame allowed therefor a sufficient
and proper submission?
Upon the first issue, Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro and Associate Justices Enrique M. Fernando, Claudio
Teehankee, Antonio P. Barredo, Cecilia Munoz Palma, Hermogenes Concepcion Jr. and Ruperto G. Martin are of
the view that the question posed is justiciable, while Associate Justices Felix V. Makasiar, Felix Q. Antonio and
Ramon C. Aquino hold the view that the question is political.
Upon the second issue, Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Aquino,
Concepcion Jr. and Martin voted in the affirmative, while Associate Justices Teehankee and Munoz Palma voted in
the negative. Associate Justice Fernando, conformably to his concurring and dissenting opinion in Aquino vs. Enrile
(59 SCRA 183), specifically dissents from the proposition that there is concentration of powers in the Executive
during periods of crisis, thus raising serious doubts as to the power of the President to propose amendments.
Upon the third issue, Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices Barredo, Makasiar, Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and
Martin are of the view that there is a sufficient and proper submission of the proposed amendments for ratification
by the people. Associate Justices Barredo and Makasiar expressed the hope, however that the period of time may
be extended. Associate Justices Fernando, Makasiar and Antonio are of the view that the question is political and
therefore beyond the competence and cognizance of this Court, Associate Justice Fernando adheres to his
concurrence in the opinion of Chief Justice Concepcion in Gonzales vs. COMELEC (21 SCRA 774).Associate
Justices Teehankee and MUNOZ Palma hold that prescinding from the President's lack of authority to exercise the
constituent power to propose the amendments, etc., as above stated, there is no fair and proper submission with
sufficient information and time to assure intelligent consent or rejection under the standards set by this Court in the
controlling cases of Gonzales, supra, and Tolentino vs. COMELEC (41 SCRA 702).
Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and Martin voted
to dismiss the three petitions at bar. For reasons as expressed in his separate opinion, Associate Justice Fernando
concurs in the result. Associate Justices Teehankee and Munoz Palma voted to grant the petitions.
ACCORDINGLY, the vote being 8 to 2 to dismiss, the said petitions are hereby dismissed. This decision is
immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 86344 December 21, 1989
REP. RAUL A. DAZA, petitioner, vs. REP. LUIS C. SINGSON and HON. RAOUL V. VICTORINO IN THE
LATTER'S CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS, respondent.

CRUZ, J .:
After the congressional elections of May 11, 1987, the House of Representatives proportionally apportioned its
twelve seats in the Commission on Appointments among the several political parties represented in that chamber,
including the Lakas ng Bansa, the PDP-Laban, the NP-Unido, the Liberal Party, and the KBL, in accordance with
Article VI, Section 18, of the Constitution. Petitioner Raul A. Daza was among those chosen and was listed as a
representative of the Liberal Party.
1

On September 16, 1988, the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino was reorganized, resulting in a political realignment
in the House of Representatives. Twenty four members of the Liberal Party formally resigned from that party and
joined the LDP, thereby swelling its number to 159 and correspondingly reducing their former party to only 17
members.
2

On the basis of this development, the House of Representatives revised its representation in the Commission on
Appointments by withdrawing the seat occupied by the petitioner and giving this to the newly-formed LDP. On
December 5, 1988, the chamber elected a new set of representatives consisting of the original members except the
petitioner and including therein respondent Luis C. Singson as the additional member from the LDP.
3

The petitioner came to this Court on January 13, 1989, to challenge his removal from the Commission on
Appointments and the assumption of his seat by the respondent. Acting initially on his petition for prohibition and
injunction with preliminary injunction, we issued a temporary restraining order that same day to prevent both the
petitioner and the respondent from serving in the Commission on Appointments.
4

Briefly stated, the contention of the petitioner is that he cannot be removed from the Commission on Appointments
because his election thereto is permanent under the doctrine announced in Cunanan v. Tan.
5
His claim is that the
reorganization of the House representation in the said body is not based on a permanent political realignment
because the LDP is not a duly registered political party and has not yet attained political stability.
For his part, the respondent argues that the question raised by the petitioner is political in nature and so beyond the
jurisdiction of this Court. He also maintains that he has been improperly impleaded, the real party respondent being
the House of Representatives which changed its representation in the Commission on Appointments and removed
the petitioner. Finally, he stresses that nowhere in the Constitution is it required that the political party be registered
to be entitled to proportional representation in the Commission on Appointments.
In addition to the pleadings filed by the parties, a Comment was submitted by the Solicitor General as amicus
curiae in compliance with an order from the Court.
At the core of this controversy is Article VI, Section 18, of the Constitution providing as follows:
Sec. 18. There shall be a Commission on Appointments consisting of the President of the Senate, as ex officio
Chairman, twelve Senators and twelve Members of the House of Representatives, elected by each House on the
basis of proportional representation from the political parties and parties or organizations registered under the
party-list system represented therein. The Chairman of the Commission shall not vote, except in case of a tie. The
Commission shall act on all appointments submitted to it within thirty session days of the Congress from their
submission. The Commission shall rule by a majority vote of all the Members.
Ruling first on the jurisdictional issue, we hold that, contrary to the respondent's assertion, the Court has the
competence to act on the matter at bar. Our finding is that what is before us is not a discretionary act of the House
of Representatives that may not be reviewed by us because it is political in nature. What is involved here is the
legality, not the wisdom, of the act of that chamber in removing the petitioner from the Commission on
Appointments. That is not a political question because, as Chief Justice Concepcion explained in Tanada v.
Cuenco.
6

... the term "political question" connotes, in legal parlance, what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a question
of policy. In other words, ... 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
Legislature or executive branch of the Government." It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not
legality, of a particular measure.
In the aforementioned case, the Court was asked by the petitioners therein to annul the election of two members of
the Senate Electoral Tribunal of that chamber, on the ground that they had not been validly nominated. The Senate
then consisted of 23 members from the Nacionalista Party and the petitioner as the lone member of the Citizens
Party. Senator Lorenzo M. Tanada nominated only himself as the minority representative in the Tribunal,
whereupon the majority elected Senators Mariano J. Cuenco. and Francisco Delgado, from its own ranks, to
complete the nine-man composition of the Tribunal as provided for in the 1935 Constitution. The petitioner came to
this Court, contending that under Article VI, Section 11, of that Charter, the six legislative members of the Tribunal
were to be chosen by the Senate, "three upon nomination of the party having the largest number of votes and three
of the party having the second largest number of votes therein." As the majority party in the Senate, the
Nacionalista Party could nominate only three members and could not also fill the other two seats pertaining to the
minority.
By way of special and affirmative defenses, the respondents contended inter alia that the subject of the petition
was an internal matter that only the Senate could resolve. The Court rejected this argument, holding that what was
involved was not the wisdom of the Senate in choosing the respondents but the legality of the choice in light of the
requirement of the Constitution. The petitioners were questioning the manner of filling the Tribunal, not the
discretion of the Senate in doing so. The Court held that this was a justiciable and not a political question, thus:
Such is not the nature of the question for determination in the present case. Here, we are called upon to decide
whether the election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado by the Senate, as members of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal, upon nomination by Senator Primicias-member and spokesman of the party having the largest number of
votes in the Senate-behalf of its Committee on Rules, contravenes the constitutional mandate that said members of
the Senate Electoral Tribunal shall be chosen "upon nomination ... of the party having the second largest number
of votes" in the Senate and hence, is null and void. The Senate is not clothed with "full discretionary authority" in
the choice of members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal. The exercise of its power thereon is subject to
constitutional limitations which are claimed to be mandatory in nature. It is clearly within the legitimate province of
the judicial department to pass upon the validity of the proceeding in connection therewith.
... whether an election of public officers has been in accordance with law is for the judiciary. Moreover, where the
legislative department has by statute prescribed election procedure in a given situation, the judiciary may
determine whether a particular election has been in conformity with such statute, and particularly, whether such
statute has been applied in a way to deny or transgress on constitutional or statutory rights ...' (1 6 C.J.S., 439;
emphasis supplied)
It is, therefore, our opinion that we have, not only jurisdiction but also the duty, to consider and determine the
principal issue raised by the parties herein."
Although not specifically discussed, the same disposition was made in Cunanan v. Tan as it likewise involved the
manner or legality of the organization of the Commission on Appointments, not the wisdom or discretion of the
House in the choice of its representatives.
In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive. The reason is that,
even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature, we would still not be
precluded from resolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases,
even the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly provides:
Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be
established by law.
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.
The respondent's contention that he has been improperly impleaded is even less persuasive. While he may be
technically correct in arguing that it is not he who caused the petitioner's removal, we feel that this objection is also
not an insuperable obstacle to the resolution of this controversy. We may, for one thing, treat this proceeding as a
petition for quo warranto as the petitioner is actually questioning the respondent's right to sit as a member of the
Commission on Appointments. For another, we have held as early as in the Emergency Powers Cases
7
that where
serious constitutional questions are involved, "the transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands
that they be settled promptly and definitely brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of procedure." The same policy
has since then been consistently followed by the Court, as in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections,
8
where we
held through Chief Justice Fernando:
In the course of the deliberations, a serious procedural objection was raised by five members of the Court. It is their
view that respondent Commission on Elections not being sought to be restrained from performing any specific act,
this suit cannot be characterized as other than a mere request for an advisory opinion. Such a view, from the
remedial law standpoint, has much to recommend it. Nonetheless, a majority would affirm the original stand that
under the circumstances, it could still rightfully be treated as a petition for prohibition.
The language of justice Laurel fits the case: "All await the decision of this Court on the constitutional question.
Considering, therefore, the importance which the instant case has assumed and to prevent multiplicity of suits,
strong reasons of public policy demand that [its] constitutionality ... be now resolved.' It may likewise be added that
the exceptional character of the situation that confronts us, the paramount public interest, and the undeniable
necessity for ruling, the national elections being barely six months away, reinforce our stand. It would appear
undeniable, therefore, that before us is an appropriate invocation of our jurisdiction to prevent the enforcement of
an alleged unconstitutional statute. We are left with no choice then; we must act on the matter.
Coming now to the more crucial question, the Court notes that both the petitioner and the respondent are invoking
the case of Cunanan v. Tan to support their respective positions. It is best, therefore, to make a quick review of that
case for a proper disposition of this one.
In the election for the House of Representatives held in 1961, 72 seats were won by the Nacionalista Party, 29 by
the Liberal Party and 1 by an independent. Accordingly, the representation of the chamber in the Commission on
Appointments was apportioned to 8 members from the Nacionalista Party and 4 from the Liberal Party.
Subsequently, 25 members of the Nacionalista Party, professing discontent over the House leadership, made
common cause with the Liberal Party and formed what was called the Allied Majority to install a new Speaker and
reorganize the chamber. Included in this reorganization was the House representation in the Commission on
appointments where three of the Nacionalista congressmen originally chosen were displaced by three of their party
colleagues who had joined the Allied Majority.
Petitioner Carlos Cunanan's ad interim appointment as Deputy Administrator of the Reforestration Administration
was rejected by the Commission on Appointments as thus reorganized and respondent Jorge Tan, Jr. was
thereafter designated in his place. Cunanan then came to this Court, contending that the rejection of his
appointment was null and void because the Commission itself was invalidly constituted.
The Court agreed. It noted that the Allied Majority was a merely temporary combination as the Nacionalista
defectors had not disaffiliated from their party and permanently joined the new political group. Officially, they were
still members of the Nacionalista Party. The reorganization of the Commission on Appointments was invalid
because it was not based on the proportional representation of the political parties in the House of Representatives
as required by the Constitution. The Court held:
... In other words, a shifting of votes at a given time, even if du to arrangements of a more or less temporary nature,
like the one that has led to the formation of the so-called "Allied Majority," does not suffice to authorize a
reorganization of the membership of the Commission for said House. Otherwise the Commission on Appointments
may have to be reorganized as often as votes shift from one side to another in the House. The framers of our
Constitution could not have intended to thus place a constitutional organ, like the Commission on Appointments, at
the mercy of each House of Congress.
The petitioner vigorously argues that the LDP is not the permanent political party contemplated in the Constitution
because it has not been registered in accordance with Article IX-B, Section 2(5), in relation to the other provisions
of the Constitution. He stresses that the so-called party has not yet achieved stability and suggests it might be no
different from several other political groups that have died "a-bornin'," like the LINA, or have subsequently
floundered, like the UNIDO.
The respondent also cites Cunanan but from a different viewpoint. According to him, that case expressly allows
reorganization at any time to reflect changes in the political alignments in Congress, provided only that such
changes are permanent. The creation of the LDP constituting the bulk of the former PDP-Laban and to which no
less than 24 Liberal congressmen had transferred was a permanent change. That change fully justified his
designation to the Commission on Appointments after the reduction of the LP representation therein. Thus, the
Court held:
Upon the other hand, the constitutional provision to the effect that "there shall be a Commission on Appointments
consisting of twelve (12) Senators and twelve (12) members of the House of Representatives elected by each
House, respectively, on the basis of proportional REPRESENTATION OF THE POLITICAL PARTIES THEREIN,"
necessarily connotes the authority of each House of Congress to see to it that this requirement is duly complied
with. As a consequence, it may take appropriate measures, not only upon the initial organization of the
Commission, but also, subsequently thereto. If by reason of successful election protests against members of a
House, or of their expulsion from the political party to which they belonged and/or of their affiliation with another
political party, the ratio in the representation of the political parties in the House is materially changed, the House is
clothed with authority to declare vacant the necessary number of seats in the Commission on Appointments held
by members of said House belonging to the political party adversely affected by the change and then fill said
vacancies in conformity with the Constitution.
In the course of the spirited debate on this matter between the petitioner and the respondent (who was supported
by the Solicitor General) an important development has supervened to considerably simplify the present
controversy. The petitioner, to repeat, bases his argument heavily on the non-registration of the LDP which, he
claims has not provided the permanent political realignment to justify the questioned reorganization. As he insists:
(c) Assuming that the so-called new coalesced majority is actually the LDP itself, then the proposed reorganization
is likewise illegal and ineffectual, because the LDP, not being a duly registered political party, is not entitled to the
"rights and privileges granted by law to political parties' (See. 160, BP No. 881), and therefore cannot legally claim
the right to be considered in determining the required proportional representation of political parties in the House of
Representatives.
9

xxx xxx xxx
... the clear constitutional intent behind Section 18, Article VI, of the 1987 Constitution, is to give the right of
representation in the Commission on Appointment only to political parties who are duly registered with the
Comelec.
10

On November 23, 1989, however, that argument boomeranged against the petitioner. On that date, the
Commission on Elections in an en banc resolution affirmed the resolution of its First Division dated August 28,
1989, granting the petition of the LDP for registration as a political party.
11
This has taken the wind out of the sails
of the petitioner, so to speak, and he must now limp to shore as best he can.
The petitioner's contention that, even if registered, the party must still pass the test of time to prove its permanence
is not acceptable. Under this theory, a registered party obtaining the majority of the seats in the House of
Representatives (or the Senate) would still not be entitled to representation in the Commission on Appointments as
long as it was organized only recently and has not yet "aged." The Liberal Party itself would fall in such a category.
That party was created in December 1945 by a faction of the Nacionalista Party that seceded therefrom to support
Manuel A. Roxas's bid for the Presidency of the Philippines in the election held on April 23, 1946.
12
The Liberal
Party won. At that time it was only four months old. Yet no question was raised as to its right to be represented in
the Commission on Appointments and in the Electoral Tribunals by virtue of its status as the majority party in both
chambers of the Congress.
The LDP has been in existence for more than one year now. It now has 157 members in the House of
Representatives and 6 members in the Senate. Its titular head is no less than the President of the Philippines and
its President is Senator Neptali A. Gonzales, who took over recently from Speaker Ramon V. Mitra. It is true that
there have been, and there still are, some internal disagreements among its members, but these are to be
expected in any political organization, especially if it is democratic in structure. In fact even the monolithic
Communist Party in a number of socialist states has undergone similar dissension, and even upheavals. But it
surely cannot be considered still temporary because of such discord.
If the petitioner's argument were to be pursued, the 157 members of the LDP in the House of Representatives
would have to be denied representation in the Commission on Appointments and, for that matter, also the Electoral
Tribunal. By the same token, the KBL, which the petitioner says is now "history only," should also be written off.
The independents also cannot be represented because they belong to no political party. That would virtually leave
the Liberal Party only with all of its seventeen members to claim all the twelve seats of the House of
Representatives in the Commission on Appointments and the six legislative seats in the House Electoral Tribunal.
It is noteworthy that when with 41 members the Liberal Party was alloted two of the seats in the Commission on
Appointments, it did not express any objection.
13
Inconsistently, the petitioner is now opposed to the withdrawal
from it of one seat although its original number has been cut by more than half.
As for the other condition suggested by the petitioner, to wit, that the party must survive in a general congressional
election, the LDP has doubtless also passed that test, if only vicariously. It may even be said that as it now
commands the biggest following in the House of Representatives, the party has not only survived but in fact
prevailed. At any rate, that test was never laid down in Cunanan.
To summarize, then, we hold, in view of the foregoing considerations, that the issue presented to us is justiciable
rather political, involving as it does the legality and not the wisdom of the act complained of, or the manner of fi lling
the Commission on Appointments as prescribed by the Constitution. Even if the question were political in nature, it
would still come within our powers of review under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us by Article VIII,
Section 1, of the Constitution, which includes the authority to determine whether grave abuse of discretion
amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction has been committed by any branch or instrumentality of the government.
As for the alleged technical flaw in the designation of the party respondent, assuming the existence of such a
defect, the same may be brushed aside, conformably to existing doctrine, so that the important constitutional issue
raised may be addressed. Lastly, we resolve that issue in favor of the authority of the House of Representatives to
change its representation in the Commission on Appointments to reflect at any time the changes that may transpire
in the political alignments of its membership. It is understood that such changes must be permanent and do not
include the temporary alliances or factional divisions not involving severance of political loyalties or formal
disaffiliation and permanent shifts of allegiance from one political party to another.
The Court would have preferred not to intervene in this matter, leaving it to be settled by the House of
Representatives or the Commission on Appointments as the bodies directly involved. But as our jurisdiction has
been invoked and, more importantly, because a constitutional stalemate had to be resolved, there was no
alternative for us except to act, and to act decisively. In doing so, of course, we are not imposing our will upon the
said agencies, or substituting our discretion for theirs, but merely discharging our sworn responsibility to interpret
and apply the Constitution. That is a duty we do not evade, lest we ourselves betray our oath.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order dated January 13, 1989, is LIFTED.
The Court holds that the respondent has been validly elected as a member of the Commission on Appointments
and is entitled to assume his seat in that body pursuant to Article VI, Section 18, of the Constitution. No
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Cows, Grio-
Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.
Sarmiento, J., took no part.