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AVELINO VS.

CUENCO
(Citation: 83 Phil 17)

Facts:
On 18 Feb 1949, Senator Taada invoked his right to speak on the senate floor
to formulate charges against the then Senate President Avelino. He request to do
so on the next session (21 Feb 1949). On the next session however, Avelino
delayed the opening of the session for about two hours. Upon insistent demand
by Taada, Cuenco and Sanidad and others, Avelino was forced to open
session. He however, together with his allies initiated all dilatory and delaying
tactics to forestall Taada from delivering his piece.
Motions being raised by Taada et al were being blocked by Avelino and his
allies and they even ruled Taada and Sanidad, among others, as being out of
order.
Avelinos camp then moved to adjourn the session due to the disorder. Sanidad
however countered and they requested the said adjournment to be placed in
voting.
Avelino just banged his gavel and he hurriedly left his chair and he was
immediately followed by his followers. Senator Cabili then stood up, and asked
that it be made of record it was so made that the deliberate abandonment
of the Chair by the Avelino, made it incumbent upon Senate President Pro-
tempore Arranz and the remaining members of the Senate to continue the
session in order not to paralyze the functions of the Senate.
Tanada was subsequently recognized to deliver his speech. Later, Arranz yielded
to Sanidads Resolution (No. 68) that Cuenco be elected as the Senate
President. This was unanimously approved and was even recognized by the
President of the Philippines the following day.
Cuenco took his oath of office thereafter. Avelino then filed a quo warranto
proceeding before the SC to declare him as the rightful Senate President.

Issue:
Whether or not the Supreme Court can take cognizance/judicial intervention of
the case?

Ruling:
No. By a vote of 6 to 4, the SC held that they cannot take cognizance of the
case. This is in view of the separation of powers, the political nature of the
controversy and the constitutional grant to the Senate of the power to elect its
own president, which power should not be interfered with, nor taken over, by the
judiciary. The SC should abstain in this case because the selection of the
presiding officer affects only the Senators themselves who are at liberty at any
time to choose their officers, change or reinstate them. Anyway, if, as the petition
must imply to be acceptable, the majority of the Senators want petitioner to
preside, his remedy lies in the Senate Session Hall not in the Supreme Court.
When faced with a justiciable controversy, the Philippine Supreme Court could
dismiss the case because the issue involves a political question and necessarily
begs off deciding it. In the case of Sanidad vs. Comelec (G.R. L-44640, 12
October 1976), the Philippine Supreme Court had the occassion to define it as
such:At the threshold, it is necessary to clarify what is a "political question". It
must be noted that this device has been utilized by the judiciary "to avoid
determining questions it is ill equipped to determine or that could be settled in
any event only with the effective support of the political branches." According to
Weston, judges, whether "personal representatives of a truly sovereign king, or
taking their seats as the creatures of a largely popular sovereignty speaking
through a written constitution, derive their power by a delegation, which clearly or
obscurely as the case may be, delineates and delimits their delegated
jurisdiction. . . . Judicial questions . . . are those which the sovereign has set to
be decided in the courts. Political question, similarly, are those which the
sovereign has entrusted to the so-called political departments of government or
has reserved to be settled by its own extra-governmental action." Reflecting a
similar concept, this Court has defined a "political question" as a "matter which is
to be exercised by the people in their primary political capacity or that has been
specifically delegated to some other department or particular officer of the
government, with discretionary power to act." 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 legislative or executive branch of government.