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Author: Marielle Corpin

Avelino v. Cuenco  The petitioner announced that he would order the arrest of any
senator who would speak without being previously recognized by
Petition: To declare petitioner the rightful Senate President and oust him.
respondent.  At this juncture, some disorderly conduct broke out in the Senate
Petitioner: Jose Avelino – the former Senate President gallery, as if by pre-arrangement (Mentioned in the dissent, there
Respondent: Mariano Cuenco – the new Senate President thru Resolution were fights and gunshots). At about this same time Senator Pablo
No. 67 Angeles David, was recognized by petitioner, and he moved for
adjournment of session
 Senator Sanidad and respondent registered their opposition to the
DOCTRINE: adjournment and moved that the motion of Senator David be
When the Constitution declares that a majority of "each House" shall submitted to a vote.
constitute a quorum, "the House: does not mean "all" the members. Even a  Suddenly, the petitioner banged the gavel and abandoning the Chair
majority of all the members constitute "the House". There is a difference hurriedly walked out of the session hall followed by Vicente J.
between a majority of "the House", the latter requiring less number than the Francisco, Fernando Lopez, Emiliano Tria Tirona, Pablo Angeles
first. Therefore an absolute majority (12) of all the members of the Senate David, Sulipada Pendatun, Ramon Torres, Enriquez Magalona,
less one (23), constitutes constitutional majority of the Senate for the Carlos Tan, and Olegario Clarin, while the rest of the senators
purpose of a quorum. remained.
 Senator Melencio Arranz, Senate President Pro-tempore, urged by
those senators present took the Chair and proceeded with the
FACTS: session.
 On February 21, 1949, Senator Tañada and Senator Prospero  Senator Tañada, after being recognized by the Chair, was then
Sanidad filed with the Secretary of the Senate a resolution finally able to deliver his privilege speech. Thereafter Senator
enumerating charges against the then Senate President and Sanidad read aloud the complete text of said Resolution (No. 68),
ordering the investigation thereof. (Mentioned in the dissent, the and submitted his motion for approval thereof and the same was
petitioner delivered a speech wherein he advocated the protection of, unanimously approved.
or at least, tolerance, of graft and corruption in the government and  With Senate President Pro-tempore Arranz again occupying the
placed the interest of grafters and corrupt officials as supreme and Chair, after the respondent had yielded it to him, Senator Sanidad
above the welfare of the people, doctrine under which it is impossible introduced Resolution No. 67, entitled "Resolution declaring
for an honest and clean government to exist ) vacant the position of the President of the Senate and
 During the session, all senators were present except Senator Sotto designated the Honorable Mariano Jesus Cuenco Acting
who was confined in a hospital and Senator Confesor who is in the President of the Senate." Put to a vote by the remaining 12
United States senators, the said resolution was unanimously approved.
 Petitioner was late and procrastinated in opening the session by  Senator Cuenco took the oath.
taking all his time in reading first the Tanada and Sanidad resolution,  The next day the President of the Philippines recognized the
conferring with Senators Cuenco and Sanidad and in not calling to respondent as acting president of the Philippine Senate.
order the members of the senate.
 Senator Sanidad moved that the roll call and the reading of the
minutes be dispensed with but Senator Tirona and Senator David ISSUES:
opposed said motion, obviously in pursuance of a premeditated plan 1. WoN the quorum assembled with 22 senators (only) is valid
of petitioner and his partisans to make use of dilatory tactics to 2. WoN Resolution Nos. 67 and 68 are valid
prevent Senator Tañada from delivering his privilege speech. Issue not related to the topic but I’ll just include for further info
 Before and after the roll call and the reading of the minutes, Senator 3. WoN the court has jurisdiction over the case
Tañada repeatedly stood up to claim his right to deliver his one-hour
privilege speech but the petitioner, then presiding, continuously PROVISION:
ignored him. Article 5 Section 16 Paragraph 2
Author: Marielle Corpin
A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but "each House" in the above provision refer to the full membership of
a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and may compel the each chamber of Congress.
attendance of absent Members in such manner and under such  The Senate was and actually is composed of 24 Senators, and a
penalties as such House may provide. majority of them cannot be less than thirteen. Twelve is only half of
twenty-four. Nowhere and at no time has one-half even been the
majority. Majority necessarily has to be more than one-half.
RULING + RATIO:  The resolution declaring vacant the position of the President of the
1. YES. Twelve senators constitute a majority of the Senate of twenty- Senate and choosing respondent as acting President of the Senate,
three senators. has been adopted in contravention of the Constitution for lack
When the Constitution declares that a majority of "each House" shall of quorum. The fact that respondent has been designated only as
constitute a quorum, "the House: does not mean "all" the members. acting President of the Senate, a position not contemplated by the
Even a majority of all the members constitute "the House". There is a Constitution or by Republic Act No. 181 on presidential succession,
difference between a majority of "the House", the latter requiring less so much so that his position in acting capacity, according to his own
number than the first. Therefore an absolute majority (12) of all the counsel, would not entitle respondent to succeed to the position of
members of the Senate less one (23), constitutes constitutional the President of the Philippines, emphasizes the invalidity of
majority of the Senate for the purpose of a quorum. respondent's election.

Tuason, J.
2. YES. There is unanimity in the view that the session under Senator
Arranz was a continuation of the morning session and that a minority
of ten senators may not, by leaving the Hall, prevent the other twelve  It appears to me that the basis for computing a quorum of the
senators from passing a resolution that met with their unanimous Senate is the number of senators who have been elected and
endorsement. duly qualified and who have not ceased to be senators by death
or legal disqualification. If this were not so, what is the standard
3. NO. The controversy is political in nature. The constitutional grant to of computation? No satisfactory, reasonable alternative has been
the Senate of the power to elect its own president should not be or can be offered.
interfered with, nor taken over, by the judiciary. It is furthermore  Absence abroad cannot be a disqualification unless by such
believed that the recognition accorded by the Chief Executive to the absence, under the Constitution, a member of the Senate loses
respondent makes it advisable, more than ever, to adopt the hands- his office, emoluments, and other prerogatives, temporarily or
off policy wisely enunciated by this Court in matters of similar nature. permanently. There is no claim that this happens when a
senators' presence at the session be the criterion, then serious
illness or being in a remote island with which Manila has no
DISPOSITION: The Court by a vote of six justices against four resolved to regular means of communication should operate to eliminate the
deny the petition. sick or absent members from the counting for the purpose of
determining the presence of a majority.

DISSENTING OPINION: (**IMPORTANT TO KNOW)

Perfecto, J.

 The rump session held by twelve Senators, the respondent and his
supporters, after petitioner and his nine supporters had walked out
from the session hall, had no constitutional quorum to transact
business. The majority mentioned in the provision cannot be other
than the majority of the actual members of the Senate. The words