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Avelino vs Cuenco

March 4, 1949 | Resolution (6-4 vote to deny petition)


Original Action in the Supreme Court for quo warranto. Petitioner Avelino president, which power should not be interfered with, nor taken over by the
asks the Court to declare him the rightful President of the Philippine Senate judiciary.
and oust respondent Cuenco. COURT: Refuse to take cognizance of VERA CASE even if the rights of
the electors of the suspended senators were allegedly affected without
Facts: any immediate remedy.
In the session of the Senate of February 18, 1949, Senator Tanada A fortiori we should abstain in this case because the selection of the
requested that his right to speak (privilege speech) on the floor the presiding officer affects only the Senators themselves who are at liberty
following session day, February 21, 1949, to formulate charges against at any time to choose their officers, change or reinstate them.
Senate President Jose Avelino, be reserved. REMEDY LIES IN THE SENATE SESSION HALL NOT IN SC
On the appointed time on the 21st, 10:00 am, a quorum had already been o Court will not sally into the legitimate domain of the Senate on the
formed at the senate and Avelino was already in his office. However, he plea that SCs refusal to intercede might led into a crisis, even a
delayed his arrival to the Senate Hall to around 11:35 am and then when he revolution.
got there, he employed some tactics to delay Tanada giving his privilege No state of things has been proved that might change the temper of the
speech, such as a lengthy reading of a resolution, calling of the roll and Filipino people as a peaceful and law-abiding citizens. We should not allow
reading of the minutes, all of which were repeatedly opposed by Tanada and oursevles to be stamped into a rash action inconsistent with the calm that
respondent Cuenco, among others. should characterize judicial deliberations.
Meanwhile, before, during and after the calling of the roll, Tanada WERTS V ROGERS [DOES NOT APPLY] Situation is not where two
repeatedly stood up to claim his right to his privilege speech, but sets of senators have constituted themselves into 2 senates actually
Avelino simply ignored this by finally declaring to everyone in the hall that functioning as such (in WERTS case) there being no question that there
anyone who from thereon speaks without his permission will be is presently one PH Senate only.
arrested. o PETITIONER and his partisans have not erected themselves into
All the while when one of his allies, Senator Tirona kept on interjecting, another Senate. His claim is merely that RESPONDENT has not
out of order! Out of order! been duly elected in his place in the same ONE PH Senate
Another ally of Avelino then moved for the adjournment of the session, in o Recognition accorded by Chief Executive to RESPONDENT makes it
which petitioner concurred and banged the gavel despite repeated adivseable to adopt the hands-off policy enunciated by this Corut in
opposition of respondent. matters of similar nautre.
Avelino then left the session hall together with 9 other senators.
Of the remaining senators (12 senators), Senate President Pro-tempore Avelinos rightful remedy for his claim is in the Session Hall and not in the
Arranz took over as Acting Chair and then allowed Tanada to deliver his Supreme Court.
privilege speech Resolution No 68, submitted it for approval which received The precedent cited by the petitioner, Werts v. Rogers does not apply
unanimous vote form the remaining Senators. because unlike the case at bar, Werts is about two sets of senators that
Senator Sanidad then introduced Resolution No. 67 Resolution declaring have constituted themselves into two senates. In the case at bar, there
vacant the position of the President of the Senate and designating the is only one Philippine Senate.
Honorable Mariano Jesus Cuenco Acting President of the Senate. Furthermore, the recognition by the President of the Philippines of Cuencos
Resolution No. 67 was unanimously approved. Cuenco took the oath. ascent makes it even more advisable to adopt the hands off policy.
The next day, the President of the Philippines recognized the respondent as
Acting President of the Senate. 2) WON Resolutions Nos. 68 and 67 were validly approved? YES
Hence, the petitioner asks the court to oust respondent and he be declared Pointless to pass on this issue since the Court has no jurisdiction, but the
rightful President of the Senate. Court offered its opinion regarding the presence of a valid quorum.
There was a valid quorum because the so-called rump session is a
Issues: continuation of the morning session and that a minority of 10 senators
1) WON the Court have jurisdiction over the case? NO leaving the Senate hall, may not prevent the other 12 senators from
In view of the separation of powers, the political nature of the controversy passing a resolution that met with their unanimous endorsement.
and the constitutional grant to the Senate of the power to elect its own More so, even if the rump session was not a continuation of the morning
session, it was validly constituted, there being a majority required by the
Constitution for the transaction of business in the Senate (the minutes say QUESTION: WHO WILL DECIDE THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE
so; there were at least 14 senators at the beginning of the rump session, 12 TWO GROUPS? Conflict remains unsettled while the Court refuses to
senators left when Lopez and Pendatun left still a majority (22 only because intervene
Sotto was hospitalized and Confessor was outside the country US) o The validity of all the laws, resolutions and other measures which
Sec 10 (2), Art VI may be passed by the CUENCO group will be open to doubt
A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business because of an alleged lack of quorum in the body which authored
- The House does not mean all the members them.
There is a difference between a majority of all the members of the House o This doubt may extend, in diverse forms, to the House of
and a majority of the House, the latter requiring less number. (cf. FERIAs Representatives and to the other agencies of the government such
concurring opinion) as the Auditor General's Office.
This situation may, to a large extent, be stopped and
SEPARATE OPINIONS constitutional processes may be restored in the Senate if only
Main point of dissents: this Court, as the guardian of the Constitution, were to
The Court has jurisdiction over the case since Cuenco was not validly pronounce the final word on the constitutional mandate
elected as a Acting Senate President because there was no quorum. governing the existing conflict between the two groups.
Therefore, question is of constitutional nature since Avelino was illegally
deposed as Senate President. ON LEGALITY OF CUENCOS ELECTION AS ACTING SENATE
PRESIDENT
MORAN, CJ [CONCURRING & DISSENTING] Although AVELINOs adjournment of the session was illegal, such
ON JURISDICTION OF COURT illegality cannot be countered with another illegality
Court has jurisdiction over the case crisis in the Senate is one that Session wherein CUENCO was elected as acting President of
imperatively calls for the intervention of the Court Senate was illegal because when Senator Mabanag raised the
CUENCO cannot invoke the doctrine of non-interference by the courts question of a quorum and the roll was called, only 12 senators were
with the Senate because the legal capacity of his group of 12 present.
senators to act as a senate is being challenged by AVELINO on the o In the Philippines, there are 24 Senators, and therefore, the
ground of lack of quorum quorum must be 13.
o If this group is found sufficient to constitute a quorum under the Vote:
Constitution, then its proceedings should be free from interference o 4 no quorum
o If it is not possessed of a valid quorum, then its procedings should be o 4 there was a quorum
voided. o 2 Court has no jurisdiction
The issue as to legal capacity of CUENCO group to act as a senate o 1 absent from Philippines
cannot be considered a political question the determination of which
devolves exclusively upon the senate [involves a constitutional PERFECTO, J [DISSENTING]
question which cannot be validly decided either by CUENCO group ON QUORUM
or by AVELINO group separately] ISSUE: Who among the parties is entitled to hold the position of President of
o If CUENCO group had no quorum the AVELINO group has Senate
decidedly less No quorum. The phrase each House refer to full membership of the
o The two groups cannot act together inasmuch as the members of Senate. Quorum is 13 out of 24 senators.
the AVELINO group, possibly to avoid trouble, do not attend the Rump session held by 12 senators had no constitutional quorum to
sessions presided by the CUENCO believing as they do that the conduct business.
latter was illegally elected
o CUENCO group believing itself as possessing the consituttional ON JURISDICTION
quorum and not desiring to make any semblance of admission to 1. CUENCO: Present controversy is not justiciable in nature, involving as it
the contrary, does not find it convenient to compel attendance of does, a purely political question, the determination of which by the
any senator in the AVELINO group political agency concerned, the Senate, is binding and conclusive on the
courts [UNTENABLE]
o Assumes the premise that the question has been determined by the Agrees with Briones, that the 12 Senators who elected Senator
Seante when the 2 opposing parties claim that each one of them Cuenco Acting President of the Senate did not constitute a quorum,
represents the will of the Senate, and if the controversy hsould be thus, his election was illegal
allowed to remain unsettled, it would be impossible to determine who
is right and who is wrong, and who really represents the Senate FERIA, J [CONCURRING]
The questions raised, although political in nature, are justiciable because ON JURISDICTION
they involve the enforcement of legal precepts, such as the provisions of Theory of Separation of Powers (State Constitutions of USA) has
the Constitution and of the rules of Senate given rise to the distinction between justiceable questions which fall
Power and authority to decide such questions of law form part of the within the province of the judiciary, and political questions which are not
jurisdiction, not only expressly conferred on the SC, but of which, by within the jurisdiction of the judiciary and are to be decided, under the
express prohibition of the Constitution, it cannot be divested Constitution, by the People in their sovereign capacity or in regard to
Because the legal questions raised cannot be decided without deciding which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or
also what is the truth on the controversial facts, by the very nature of executive branch of the government, except to the extent that the power
things, the jurisdiction of the SC reached the settlement of the conflicting to deal with such question has been conferred upon the court by express
claims as to the real events or statutory provision.
Political Question involves political rights which consists in the power
2. CUENCO: He has been recognized by the President as acting Senate to participate, directly or indirectly, in the establishment or management
President and that executive recognition is binding and conclusive on the of the government
courts [ERRONEOUS] Justiciable Question affect civil, personal or property rights accorded
The actions of the President of the Philippines cannot deprive the to every member of the community or nation
Supreme Court of the jurisdiction vested in it by the Constitution The Judicial Supremacy is the power of judicial review in actual and
If the Congress of the Philippines, in which the Legislative power is appropriate cases and controversies that present justiciable issues,
vested, cannot deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction to decide which fall within the jurisdiction or power allocated to the judiciary; but
questions of law, much less can the President of the Philippines, on when the issue is a political one which comes within the exclusive sphere
whom is vested the Executive power, which in the philosophical and of the legislative or executive department of the Government to decide,
political hierarchy is of subordinate category to that of the Legislative the judicial department or Supreme Court has no power to determine
power, do so. [Power to enact laws is higher than the power to whether or not the act of the Legislature or Chief Executive is against the
execute them] Constitution.
What determines the jurisdiction of the courts is the issue involved,
3. CUENCO: To entertain the petition, is to invade and encroach upon the and not the law or constitutional provision which may be applied.
powers, rights and prerogatives solely and exclusively appertaining toth
eLegislative Department, of which the Senate is a branch ON QUORUM
[ERRONEOUS] Art 3 Title VI of the 1935 Constitution provided that the majority of all
The controversy as to the legality of the adjournment declared by the members of the National Assembly constitute a quorum top do
AVELINO, of his ouster, as a result of the resolution declaring vacant the business
position of President of the Senate, of CUENCOs election as acting o Amended in 1939 to read: a majority of each House shall
President of the Senate, and as to whether or not the twelve Senators constitute a quorum to do business
who remained in the session hall could continue holding session and if Shows intent of framers to base the majority not on the number fixed
they constitute quorum, are all legal questions upon which courts of or provided for in the but on actual members of incumbents, and this
justice have jurisdiction and the Supreme Court is the final arbiter. must be limited to actual members who are not incapacitated to
discharge their duties by reason of death, incapacity, or absence
BRIONES, J & PABLO, J IN SPANISH from the jurisdiction of the House, or for other causes which make
attendance of the member concerned impossible, even through
TUASON, J [DISSENTING] coercive process which each house is empowered to issue to
compel its members to attend the session in order to constitute a
quorum.