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9/9/2015 G.R. No.

97710

TodayisWednesday,September09,2015

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

ENBANC

G.R.No.97710September26,1991

DR.EMIGDIOA.BONDOC,petitioner,
vs.
REPRESENTATIVESMARCIANOM.PINEDA,MAGDALENOM.PALACOL,COL.JUANITOG.CAMASURA,
JR.,oranyotherrepresentativewhomaybeappointedvicerepresentativeJuanitaG.Camasura,Jr.,and
THEHOUSEOFREPRESENTATIVESELECTORALTRIBUNAL,respondents.

EstelitoP.Mendoza,RomuloC.FelixmeraandHoracioS.J.Apostolforpetitioner.

NicanorS.BautistaforrespondentMarcianoM.Pineda.

BenedictoR.PalacolforrespondentM.M.Palacol.

GRIOAQUIO,J.:p

Thiscaseinvolvesaquestionofpower.MaytheHouseofRepresentatives,attherequestofthedominantpolitical
party therein, change that party's representation in the House Electoral Tribunal to thwart the promulgation of a
decisionfreelyreachedbythetribunalinanelectioncontestpendingtherein?MaytheSupremeCourtreviewand
annulthatactionoftheHouse?

EventheSupremeCourtoftheUnitedStatesoveracenturyago,inMarburyvs.Madison,2L.ed.60(1803),had
hesitatedtoembarkuponalegalinvestigationoftheactsoftheothertwobranchesoftheGovernment,findingit
"peculiarlyirksomeaswellasdelicate"becauseitcouldbeconsideredbysomeas"anattempttointrude"intothe
affairsoftheothertwoandtointermeddlewiththeirprerogatives.

Inthepast,theSupremeCourt,asheadofthethirdandweakestbranchofourGovernment,wasalltoowillingto
avoid a political confrontation with the other two branches by burying its head ostrichlike in the sands of the
"politicalquestion"doctrine,theacceptedmeaningofwhichisthat'wherethematterinvolvedislefttoadecisionby
thepeopleactingintheirsovereigncapacityortothesoledeterminationbyeitherorboththelegislativeorexecutive
branch of the government, it is beyond judicial cognizance. Thus it was that in suits where the party proceeded
against was either the President or Congress, or any of its branches for that matter, the courts refused to act."
(Aquinovs.PonceEnrile,59SCRA183,196.)

Intime,however,thedutyofthecourtstolookintotheconstitutionalityandvalidityoflegislativeorexecutiveaction,
especiallywhenprivaterightsareaffectedcametoberecognized.AswepointedoutinthecelebratedAquinocase,
ashowingthatplenarypowerisgrantedeitherdepartmentofgovernmentmaynotbeanobstacletojudicialinquiry,
fortheimprovidentexerciseortheabusethereofmaygiverisetoajusticiablecontroversy.Since"aconstitutional
grantofauthorityisnotusuallyunrestricted,limitationsbeingprovidedforastowhatmaybedoneandhowitisto
be accomplished, necessarily then, it becomes the responsibility of the courts to ascertain whether the two
coordinate branches have adhered to the mandate of the fundamental law. The question thus posed is judicial
ratherthanpolitical.ThedutyremainstoassurethatthesupremacyoftheConstitutionisupheld"(Aquinovs.Ponce
Enrile,59SCRA183,196).

ThatdutyisapartofthejudicialpowervestedinthecourtsbyanexpressgrantunderSection1,ArticleVIIIofthe
1987ConstitutionofthePhilippineswhichdefinesjudicialpowerasbothauthorityanddutyofthecourts'tosettle
actualcontroversiesinvolvingrightswhicharelegallydemandableandenforceable,andtodeterminewhetherornot
therehasbeenagraveabuseofdiscretionamountingtolackorexcessofjurisdictiononthepartofanybranchor
instrumentalityoftheGovernment."

The power and duty of the courts to nullify in appropriate cases, the actions of the executive and legislative

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branches of the Government, does not mean that the courts are superior to the President and the Legislature. It
does mean though that the judiciary may not shirk "the irksome task" of inquiring into the constitutionality and
legalityoflegislativeorexecutiveactionwhenajusticiablecontroversyisbroughtbeforethecourtsbysomeonewho
hasbeenaggrievedorprejudicedbysuchaction,asinthiscase.Itis

aplainexerciseofthejudicialpower,thatpowervestedincourtstoenablethemtoadministerjustice
accordingtolaw....Itissimplyanecessaryconcomitantofthepowertohearanddisposeofacaseor
controversy properly before the court, to the determination of which must be brought the test and
measureofthelaw.(Veravs.Avelino,77Phil.192,203.)

InthelocalandcongressionalelectionsheldonMay11,1987,MarcianoM.PinedaoftheLabanngDemokratikong
Pilipino (LDP) and Dr. Emigdio A. Bondoc of the Nacionalista Party (NP) were rival candidates for the position of
Representative for the Fourth District of the province of Pampanga. Each received the following votes in the
canvassmadebytheProvincialBoardofCanvassersofPampanga:

MarcianoM.Pineda....................31,700votes

EmigdioA.Bondoc.....................28,400votes

Difference......................................3,300votes

OnMay19,1987,Pinedawasproclaimedwinnerintheelection.Induetime,Bondocfiledaprotest(HRETCase
No. 25) in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal ( for short) which is composed of nine (9) members,
three of whom are Justices of the Supreme Court and the remaining six are members of the House of
Representatives chosen on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and the parties or
organizations registered under the partylist system represented therein (Sec. 17, Art. VI, 1987 Constitution) as
follows:

AMEURFINAM.HERRERA Chairman

AssociateJustice

SupremeCourt

ISAGANIA.CRUZ Member

AssociateJustice

SupremeCourt

FLORENTINOP.FELICIANO Member

AssociateJustice

SupremeCourt

HONORATOY.AQUINO Member

Congressman

1stDistrict

BenguetLDP

DAVIDA.PONCEDELEON Member

Congressman

1stDistrictPalawan

LDP

SIMEONE.GARCIA,JR. Member

Congressman

2ndDistrictNuevaEcija

LDP
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JUANITOG.CAMASURA,JR. Member

Congressman

1stDistrictDavaodelSur

LDP

JOSEE.CALINGASAN Member

Congressman

4thDistrictBatangas

LDP

ANTONIOH.CERILLES Member

Congressman

2ndDistrictZamboangadelSur

(formerlyGAD,nowNP)

Aftertherevisionoftheballots,thepresentationofevidence,andsubmissionofmemoranda,Bondoc'sprotestwas
submittedfordecisioninJuly,1989.

ByOctober1990,adecisionhadbeenreachedinwhichBondocwonoverPinedabyamarginoftwentythree(23)
votes.Atthatpoint,theLDPmembersintheTribunalinsistedonareappreciationandrecountoftheballotscastin
someprecincts,therebydelayingbyatleastfour(4)monthsthefinalizationofthedecisioninthecase.

ThereexaminationandreappreciationoftheballotsresultedinincreasingBondoc'sleadoverPinedato107votes.
CongressmanCamasuravotedwiththeSupremeCourtJusticesandCongressmanCerillestoproclaimBondocthe
winnerofthecontest.

Movedbycandorandhonesty,CongressmanCamasurarevealedonMarch4,1991,tohis'Chief,"Congressman
JoseS.Cojuangco,Jr.,LDPSecretaryGeneral,notonlythefinaltallyintheBondoccasebutalsothathevotedfor
Bondoc "consistent with truth and justice and self respect," and to honor a "gentlemen's agreement" among the
membersoftheHRETthattheywould"abidebytheresultoftheappreciationofthecontestedballot1Congressman
Camasura'srevelationstirredahornets'nestintheLDPwhichwentintoaflurryofplottingappropriatemovestoneutralize
theproBondocmajorityintheTribunal.

OnMarch5,1991,theHRETissuedaNoticeofPromulgationofDecisiononMarch14,1991at2:30P.M.inHRET
CaseNo.25.AcopyofthenoticewasreceivedbyBondoc'scounselonMarch6,1991.

On March 13, 1991, the eve of the promulgation of the Bondoc decision, Congressman Cojuangco informed
CongressmanCamasurabyletter 2thatonFebruary28,1991yet,theLDPDavaodelSurChapteratDigos,Davaodel
Sur, by Resolution No. 0391 had already expelled him and Congressman Benjamin Bautista from the LDP for having
allegedly helped to organize the Partido Pilipino of Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, and for allegedly having invited LDP
membersinDavaodelSurtojoinsaidpoliticalpartyandthatasthoseactsare"notonlyinimicaluncalledfor,unethicaland
immoral,butalsoacompletebetrayalto(sic)thecauseandobjectives,andloyaltytoLDP,"inameetingonMarch12,1991,
theLDPExecutiveCommitteeunanimouslyconfirmedtheexpulsions.3

At the same time, Congressman Cojuangco notified Speaker Ramon V. Mitra about the ouster of the two
congressmen from the LDP, and asked the House of Representatives, through the Speaker, to take note of it
'especiallyinmatterswherepartymembershipisaprerequisite.4

At 9:45 in the morning of March 4, 1991, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Mme. Justice Armeurfina M. Herrera,
received the following letter dated March 13, 1991, from the Office of the Secretary General of the House of
Representatives,informingtheTribunalthatonthebasisoftheletterfromtheLDP,theHouseofRepresentatives,
during its plenary session on March 13, 1991, decided to withdraw the nomination and rescind the election of
CongressmanCamasura,Jr.totheHouseofElectoralTribunal.Theletterreadsasfollows:

13March1991

HonorableJusticeAmeurfinaMelencioHerreraChairman

HouseofRepresentativesElectoralTribunalConstitutionHillsQuezonCity
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DearHonorableJusticeMelencioHerrera:

I have the honor to notify the House of Electoral Tribunal of the decision of the House of
Representatives during its plenary session on 13 March 1991, to withdraw the nomination and to
rescindtheelectionoftheHonorableJuanitoG.Camasura,Jr.totheHouseElectoralTribunalonthe
basisofanLDPcommunicationwhichisselfexplanatoryandcopiesofwhichareheretoattached.

Thankyou.

FortheSecretaryGeneral

(SGD.)JosefinaD.AzarconOfficerinchargeOperationsDepartment(p.10,Rollo.)

JusticesHerrera, Cruz, andFeliciano promptly apprisedtheChief Justice andAssociate Justices of the Supreme
Court in writing, of this "distressing development' and asked to be relieved from their assignments in the HRET
because

By the above action (of the House) the promulgation of the decision of the Tribunal in the electoral
protestentitled"Bondocv.Pineda"(HRETCaseNo.25),previouslyscheduledfor14March1991,is
soughttobeaborted(SeetheConsolidatedBankandTrustCorporationv.Hon.IntermediateAppellate
Court,G.R.No.7377778promulgated12September1990).Eveniftherewerenolegalimpedimentto
itspromulgation,thedecisionwhichwasreachedona5to4votemaynowbeconfidentlyexpectedto
beoverturnedonamotionforreconsiderationbythepartylitigantwhichwouldhavebeendefeated.

ThedecisioninBondocv.Pinedawas ready as early as October 1990 with a margin of 23 votes in


favorofprotestantBondoc.BecausesomemembersoftheTribunalrequestedreappreciationofsome
ballots,thefinalizationofthedecisionhadtobedeferredbyatleast4months.

Withthereappreciationcompleted,thedecision,nowwithamarginof107votesinfavorofprotestant
Bondoc,andconcurredinbyJusticesAmeurfinaA.MelencioHerrera,IsaganiA.CruzandFlorentino
P.Feliciano,andCongressmenJuanitaG.CamasuraandAntonioH.Cerilles,issetforpromulgation
on14March1991,withCongressmenHonoratoY.Aquino,DavidA.PoncedeLeonSimeonE.Garcia,
Jr.andJoseE.Calingasan,dissenting.

CongressmanCasamura'svoteintheBondocv.Pinedacasewas,inourview,aconsciencevote,for
which he earned the respect of the Tribunal but also the loss of the confidence of the leader of his
party.

Under the above circumstances an untenable situation has come about. It is extremely difficult to
continuewithmembershipintheTribunalandfortheTribunaltopreserveit.8integrityandcredibility
asaconstitutionalbodychargedwithajudicialtask.Itiscleartousthattheunseatingofanincumbent
member of Congress is being prevented at all costs. We believe that the Tribunal should not be
hamperedintheperformanceofitsconstitutionalfunctionbyfactorswhichhavenothingtodowiththe
meritsofthecasesbeforeit.

Inthisconnection,ourownexperienceteachesthattheprovisionforproportionalrepresentationinthe
TribunalfoundinArticleVI,Section17ofthe1987Constitution,shouldbeamendedtoprovideinstead
forareturntothecompositionmandatedinthe1935Constitution,thatis:three(3)memberschosenby
theHouseorSenateuponnominationofthepartyhavingthelargestnumberofvotesandthree(3)of
thepartyhavingthesecondlargestnumberofvotes:andajudicialcomponentconsistingofthree(3)
justicesfromtheSupremeCourt.Thereby,nopartyorcoalitionofpartiescandominatethelegislative
componentintheTribunal.

In the alternative, the Senate Electoral Tribunal could perhaps sit as the sole judge of all contests
relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the House of Representatives.
Similarly, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal could sit as the sole judge of all such
contestsinvolvingmembersoftheSenate.Inthisway,thereshouldbelesserchancesofnonjudicial
elementsplayingadecisiveroleintheresolutionofelectioncontests.

We suggest that there should also be a provision in the Constitution that upon designation to
membershipintheElectoralTribunal,thosesodesignatedshoulddivestthemselvesofaffiliationwith
their respective political parties, to insure their independence and objectivity as they sit in Tribunal
deliberations.

There are only three (3) remaining cases for decision by the Tribunal. Bondoc should have been
promulgated today, 14 March 1991. Cabrera v. Apacible (HRET Case No. 21) is scheduled for
promulgationon31March1991andLucmanv.Dimaporo(HRETCaseNo.45),aftertheHolyWeek

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recess.

But political factors are blocking the accomplishment of the constitutionally mandated task of the
Tribunalwellaheadofthecompletionofthepresentcongressionalterm.

Under these circumstances, we are compelled to ask to be relieved from the chairmanship and
membershipintheTribunal.

xxxxxxxxx

At the open session of the HRET in the afternoon of the same day, the Tribunal issued Resolution No. 910018
cancellingthepromulgationofthedecisioninHRETCaseNo.25.Theresolutionreads:

In view of the formal notice the Tribunal has received at 9:45 tills morning from the House of
Representatives that at its plenary session held on March 13, 1991, it had voted to withdraw the
nomination and rescind the election of Congressman Camasura to the House of Representatives
Electoral Tribunal,' the Tribunal Resolved to cancel the promulgation of its Decision in Bondoc vs.
Pineda (HRET Case No. 25) scheduled for this afternoon. This is because, without Congressman
Camasura'svote,thedecisionlackstheconcurrenceoffivemembersasrequiredbySection24ofthe
RulesoftheTribunaland,therefore,cannotbevalidlypromulgated.

TheTribunalnotedthatthethree(3)JusticesmembersoftheSupremeCourt,beingoftheopinionthat
thisdevelopmentunderminestheindependenceoftheTribunalandderailstheorderlyadjudicationof
electoral cases, they have asked the Chief Justice, in a letter of even date, for their relief from
membershipintheTribunal.

The Tribunal further Noted that Congressman Cerilles also manifested his intention to resign as a
memberoftheTribunal.

TheTribunalfurtherNotedthatCongressmenAquino,PoncedeLeon,Garcia,Jr.,andCalingasanalso
manifestedasimilarintention.(p.37,Rollo.)

OnMarch19,1991,thisCourt,afterdeliberatingontherequestforreliefofJusticesHerrera,CruzandFeliciano,
resolvedtodirectthemtoreturntotheirdutiesintheTribunal.TheCourtobservedthat:

... in view of the sensitive constitutional functions of the Electoral Tribunals as the 'sole judge' of all
contests relationship to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of Congress, all
membersofthesebodiesareappropriatelyguidedonlybypurelylegalconsiderationsinthedecisionof
the cases before them and that in the contemplation of the Constitution the memberslegislators,
thereof,uponassumptionoftheirdutiestherein,sitintheTribunalnolongerasrepresentativesoftheir
respectivepoliticalpartiesbutasimpartialjudges.Theviewwasalsosubmittedthat,tofurtherbolster
the independence of the Tribunals, the term of office of every member thereof should be considered
coextensivewiththecorrespondinglegislativetermandmaynotbelegallyterminatedexceptonlyby
death,resignation,permanentdisability,orremovalforvalidcause,notincludingpoliticaldisloyalty.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved: a) to DECLINE the request of justices Herrera, Cruz, and
FelicianotoberelievedfromtheirmembershipintheHouseofRepresentativesElectoralTribunaland
insteadtoDIRECTthemtoresumetheirdutiestherein:b)toEXPRESSitsconcernovertheintrusion
of nonjudicial factors in the proceedings of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, which
performsfunctionspurelyjudicialincharacterdespitetheinclusionoflegislatorsinitsmembershipand
c)toNOTEtheviewthatthetermofallthemembersoftheElectoralTribunals,includingthosefrom
thelegislature,iscoextensivewiththecorrespondinglegislativetermandcannotbeterminatedatwill
but only for valid legal cause, and to REQUIRE the Justicesmembers of the Tribunal to submit the
issuetothesaidTribunalinthefirstinstance.

ParasJ.filedthisseparateconcurringopinion:'Iconcur,butIwishtoaddthatRep.Camasurashould
be allowed to cast his original vote in favor of protestant Bondoc, otherwise a political and judicial
travesty will take place.' MelencioHerrera, Cruz and Feliciano, JJ.,tookno part.Gancayco,J., is on
leave.

OnMarch21,1991,apetitionforcertiorari,prohibitionandmandamuswasfiledbyDr.EmigdioA.Bondocagainst
RepresentativesMarcianoM.Pineda,MagdalenoM.Palacol,JuanitaG.Camasura,Jr.,oranyotherrepresentative
whomaybeappointedViceRepresentativeJuanitaG.Camasura,Jr.,andtheHouseofRepresentativesElectoral
Tribunal,prayingthisCourtto:

1.AnnulthedecisionoftheHouseofRepresentativesofMarch13,1991,'towithdrawthenomination
and to rescind the nomination of Representative Juanita G. Camasura, Jr. to the House of

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RepresentativesElectoralTribunal"

2.IssueawiltofprohibitionrestrainingrespondentPalacolorwhomsoevermaybedesignatedinplace
of respondent Camasura from assuming, occupying and discharging functions as a member of the
HouseofRepresentativesElectoralTribunal

3.IssueawritofmandamusorderingrespondentCamasuratoimmediatelyreassumeanddischarge
hisfunctionsasamemberoftheHouseofRepresentativesElectoralTribunaland

4.Grantsuchotherreliefasmaybejustandequitable.

Uponreceiptofthepetition,theCourt,withoutgivingitduecourse,requiredtherespondentstocomment 5onthe
petitionwithintendaysfromnoticeandtoenjointheHRET'fromreorganizingandallowingparticipationinitsproceedingsof
Honorable Magdaleno M. Palacol or whoever is designated to replace Honorable Juanita G. Camasura in said House of
RepresentativesElectoralTribunal,untiltheissueofthewithdrawalofthenominationandrescissionoftheelectionofsaid
Congressman Camasura as member of the HRET by the House of Representatives is resolved by this Court, or until
otherwiseorderedbytheCourt."(p.39,Rollo.)

CongressmanJuanitoG.Camasura,Jr.didnotopposethepetition.

CongressmanMarcianoM.Pineda'spleaforthedismissalofthepetitioniscenteredonCongress'beingthesole
authoritythatnominatesandelectsfromitsmembers.Uponrecommendationbythepoliticalpartiestherein,those
whoaretositintheHouseofRepresentativesElectoralTribunal(andintheCommissiononAppointmentsaswell),
hence,itallegedlyhasthesolepowertoremoveanyofthemwhenevertheratiointherepresentationofthepolitical
partiesintheHouseorSenateismateriallychangedonaccountofdeath,incapacity,removalorexpulsionfromthe
politicalparty6thataTribunalmember'stermofofficeisnotcoextensivewithhislegislativeterm,7forifamemberofthe
Tribunal who changes his party affiliation is not removed from the Tribunal, the constitutional provision mandating
representationbasedonpoliticalaffiliationwouldbecompletelynullified8andthattheexpulsionofCongressmanCamasura
from the LDP, is "purely a party affair" of the LDP 9 and the decision to rescind his membership in the House Electoral
Tribunal is the sole prerogative of the HouseofRepresentative Representatives, hence, it is a purely political question
beyondthereachofjudicialreview.10

Inhiscomment,respondentCongressmanMagdalenoM.Palacolallegedthatthepetitionerhasnocauseofaction
against him because he has not yet been nominated by the LDP for membership in the HRET. 11 Moreover, the
petitionfailedtoimpleadtheHouseofRepresentativesasanindispensablepartyforitwastheHouse,nottheHRETthat
withdrewandrescindedCongressmanCamasura'smembershipintheHRET.12

TheSolicitorGeneral,ascounselfortheTribunal,arguedinasimilarveinthattheinclusionoftheHETHasaparty
respondentiserroneousbecausethepetitionstatesnocauseofactionagainsttheTribunal.Thepetitionerdoesnot
question any act or order of the HRET in violation of his rights. What he assails is the act of the House of
Representativesofwithdrawingthenomination,andrescindingtheelection,ofCongressmanJuanitanitoCamasura
asamemberoftheHRET.13

ReplyingtotheSolicitorGeneral'sManifestation,thepetitionerarguedthatwhiletheTribunalindeedhadnothingto
do with the assailed decision of the House of Representatives, it acknowledged that decision by cancelling the
promulgationofitsdecisioninHRETCaseNo.25tohis(Bondoc's)prejudice.14Hence,althoughtheTribunalmaynot
beanindispensableparty,itisanecessarypartytothesuit,toassurethatcompletereliefisaccordedtothepetitionerfor"in
theultimate,theTribunalwouldhavetoacknowledge,giverecognition,andimplementtheSupremeCourt'sdecisionasto
whetherthereliefofrespondentCongressmanCamasurafromtheOfficeoftheElectoralTribunalisvalid."15

InhisreplytoCongressmanPalacol'sComment,thepetitionerexplainedthatCongressmanPalacolwasimpleaded
asoneoftherespondentsinthiscasebecauseaftertheHouseofRepresentativeshadannouncedthetermination
ofCongressmanCamasura'smembershipintheHETHseveralnewspapersofgeneralcirculationreportedthatthe
HouseofRepresentativeswouldnominateandelectCongressmanPalacoltotakeCongressmanCamasura'sseat
intheTribunal.16

Now,istheHouseofRepresentativesempoweredbytheConstitutiontodothat,i.e.,tointerferewiththedisposition
of an election contest in the House Electoral Tribunal through the ruse of "reorganizing" the representation in the
tribunalofthemajorityparty?

Section17,ArticleVIofthe1987Constitutionsuppliestheanswertothatquestion.Itprovides:

Section17.TheSenateandtheHouseofRepresentativesshalleachhaveanElectoralTribunalwhich
shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of their
respectivemembers,EachElectoralTribunalshallbecomposedofnineMembers,threeofwhomshall
beJusticesoftheSupremeCourttobedesignatedbytheChiefJustice,andtheremainingsixshallbe
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MembersoftheSenateorHouseofRepresentatives,asthecasemaybe,whoshallbechosenonthe
basisofproportionalrepresentationfromthepoliticalpartiesandthepartiesororganizationsregistered
underthepartylistsystemrepresentedtherein.TheseniorJusticeintheElectoralTribunalshallbeits
Chairman.

Section17reechoesSection11,ArticleVIofthe1935Constitution,excepttheprovisionontherepresentationof
the main political parties in the tribunal which is now based on proportional representation from all the political
parties, instead of equal representation of three members from each of the first and second largest political
aggrupationsintheLegislature.The1935constitutionalprovisionreadsasfollows:

Sec.11.TheSenateandtheHouseofRepresentativesshallhaveanElectoralTribunalwhichshallbe
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
MembersoftheSenateoroftheHouseofRepresentatives,asthecasemaybe,whoshallbechosen
byeachHouse,threeuponnominationofthepartyhavingthelargestnumberofvotesandthreeofthe
partyhavingthesecondlargestmemberofvotestherein.TheseniorJusticeineachElectoralTribunal
shallbeitsChairman.(1935ConstitutionofthePhilippines.)

Under the above provision, the Justices held the deciding votes, aid it was impossible for any political party to
controlthevotinginthetribunal.

The1973ConstitutiondidnotprovideforanelectoraltribunalintheBatasangPambansa.

The use of the word "sole" in both Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution and Section 11 of the 1935 Constitution
underscorestheexclusivejurisdictionoftheHouseElectoralTribunalasjudgeofcontestsrelatingtotheelection,
returnsandqualificationsofthemembersoftheHouseofRepresentatives(Roblesvs.HouseofRepresentatives
ElectoralTribunal,G.R.No.86647,February5,1990).Thetribunalwascreatedtofunctionasanonpartisancourt
althoughtwothirdsofitsmembersarepoliticians.Itisanonpoliticalbodyinaseaofpoliticians.WhatthisCourt
hadearliersaidabouttheElectoralCommissionappliesaswelltotheelectoraltribunalsoftheSenateandHouseof
Representatives:

The purpose of the constitutional convention creating the Electoral Commission was to provide an
independent and impartial tribunal for the determination of contests to legislative office, devoid of
partisan consideration, and to transfer to that tribunal all the powers previously exercised by the
legislatureinmatterspertainingtocontestedelectionsofitsmembers.

The power granted to the electoral Commission to judge contests relating to the election and
qualificationofmembersoftheNationalAssemblyisintendedtobeascompleteandunimpairedasifit
hadremainedinthelegislature.

The Electoral Tribunals of the Senate and the House were created by the Constitution as special
tribunalstobethesolejudgeofallcontestsrelatingtoelectionreturnsandqualificationsofmembersof
the legislative houses, and, as such, are independent bodies which must be permitted to select their
own employees, and to supervise and control them, without any legislative interference. (Suanes vs.
ChiefAccountantoftheSenate,81Phil.818.)

To be able to exercise exclusive jurisdiction, the House Electoral Tribunal must be independent.Itsjurisdictionto
hearanddecidecongressionalelectioncontestsisnottobesharedbyitwiththeLegislaturenorwiththeCourts.

TheElectoralCommissionisabodyseparatefromandindependentofthelegislatureandthoughnota
powerinthetripartiteschemeofgovernment,itistoallintentsandpurposes,whenactingwithinthe
limitsofitsauthority,anindependentorganwhilecomposedofamajorityofmembersofthelegislature
itisabodyseparatefromandindependentofthelegislature.

xxxxxxxxx

The Electoral Commission, a constitutional organ created for the specific purpose of determining
contestsrelatingtoelectionreturnsandqualificationsofmembersoftheNationalAssemblymaynotbe
interferedwithbythejudiciarywhenandwhileactingwithinthelimitsofitsauthority,buttheSupreme
Court has jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission for the purpose of determining the character,
scopeandextentoftheconstitutionalgranttothecommissionassolejudgeofallcontestsrelatingto
the election and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly. (Angara vs. Electoral
Commission,63Phil.139.)

The independence of the electoral tribunal was preserved undiminished in the 1987 Constitution as the following
exchangesonthesubjectbetweenCommissionersMaambongandAzcunainthe1986ConstitutionalCommission,

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attest:

MR.MAAMBONG.Thankyou.

My questions will be very basic so we can go as fast as we can. In the case of the
electoral tribunal, either of the House or of the Senate, is it correct to say that these
tribunals are constitutional creations? I will distinguish these with the case of the
Tanodbayan and the Sandiganbayan which are created by mandate of the Constitution
buttheyarenotconstitutionalcreations.Isthatagooddistinction?

MR.AZCUNA.Thatisanexcellentstatement.

MR. MAAMBONG. Could we, therefore, say that either the Senate Electoral Tribunal or
theHouseElectoralTribunalisaconstitutionalbody.?

MR.AZCUNA.Itis,MadamPresident.

MR. MAAMBONG. If it is a constitutional body, is it then subject to constitutional


restrictions?

MR.AZCUNAItwouldbesubjecttoconstitutionalrestrictionsintendedforthatbody.

MR.MAAMBONG.Isee.ButIwanttofindoutiftherulinginthecaseofVeravs.Avelino,
77Phil.192,willstillbeapplicabletothepresentbodieswearecreatingsinceitruledthat
theelectoraltribunalsarenotseparatedepartmentsofthegovernment.Wouldthatruling
stillbevalid?

MR. AZCUNA. Yes, they are not separate departments because the separate
departmentsarethelegislative,theexecutiveandthejudiciarybuttheyareconstitutional
bodies.

MR. MAAMBONG. Although they are not separate departments of government, I would
liketoknowagainiftherulinginAngaravs.ElectoralCommission,53Phil.139,wouldstill
beapplicabletothepresentbodieswearedecidingon,whentheSupremecourtsaidthat
these electoral tribunals are independent from Congress, devoid of partisan influence or
consideration and, therefore, Congress has no power to regulate proceedings of these
electoraltribunals.

MR. AZCUNA. I think that is correct. They are independent although they are not a
separatebranchofgovernment.

MR.MAAMBONG.Thereisastatementthatinallparliamentsoftheworld,theinvariable
rule is to leave unto themselves the determination of controversies with respect to the
election and qualifications of their members, and precisely they have this Committee on
Privilegeswhichtakescareofthisparticularcontroversy.

Would the Gentleman say that the creation of electoral tribunals is an exception to this
rulebecauseapparentlywehaveanindependentelectoraltribunal?

MR. AZCUNA. To the extent that the electoral tribunals are independent, but the
Gentleman will notice that the wordings say: 'The Senate and the House of
Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal. 'It is still the Senate Electoral
TribunalandtheHouseElectoralTribunal.So,technically,itisthetribunaloftheHouse
andtribunaloftheSenatealthoughtheyareindependent.

MR.MAAMBONG.Butbothofthem,aswehaveagreedon,areindependentfromboth
bodies?

MR.AZCUNA.Thatiscorrect.

MR. MAAMBONG. This is the bottom line of my question. How can we say that these
bodiesareindependentwhenwestillhavesixpoliticianssittinginbothtribunals?

MR.AZCUNA.Politicianscanbeindependent,MadamPresident.

MR. MAAMBONG. Madam President, when we discussed a portion of this in the


Committee on the Executive, there was a comment by Chief Justice Concepcion
Commissioner Concepcionthat there seems to be some incongruity in these electoral
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tribunals,consideringthatpoliticiansstillsitinthetribunalsinspiteofthefactthatinthe
ruling in the case of Sanidad vs. Vera, Senate Electoral tribunal Case No. 1, they are
supposed to act in accordance with law and justice with complete detachment from an
politicalconsiderations.ThatiswhyIamaskingnowfortherecordhowwecouldachieve
suchdetachmentwhentherearesixpoliticianssittingthere.

MR. AZCUNA. The same reason that the Gentleman, while chosen on behalf of the
opposition,has,withsterlingcompetence,shownindependenceintheproceedingsofthis
Commission. I think we can also trust that the members of the tribunals will be
independent.(pp.111112,Journal,Tuesday,July22,1986,Emphasissupplied.)

ResolutionoftheHouseofRepresentativesviolatestheindependenceoftheHRET.

TheindependenceoftheHouseElectoralTribunalsozealouslyguardedbytheframersofourConstitution,would,
however,byamythanditsproceedingsafarceiftheHouseofRepresentatives,orthemajoritypartytherein,may
shuffleandmanipulatethepolitical(asdistinguishedfromthejudicial)componentoftheelectoraltribunal,toserve
theinterestsofthepartyinpower.

The resolution of the House of Representatives removing Congressman Camasura from the House Electoral
TribunalfordisloyaltytotheLDP,becausehecasthisvoteinfavoroftheNacionalistaParty'scandidate,Bondoc,is
a clear impairment of the constitutional prerogative of the House Electoral Tribunal to be the sole judge of the
electioncontestbetweenPinedaandBondoc.

TosanctionsuchinterferencebytheHouseofRepresentativesintheworkoftheHouseElectoralTribunalwould
reducethetribunaltoameretoolfortheaggrandizementofthepartyinpower(LDP)whichthethreejusticesofthe
Supreme Court and the lone NP member would be powerless to stop. A minority party candidate may as well
abandonallhopeatthethresholdofthetribunal.

DisloyaltytopartyisnotavalidcauseforterminationofmembershipintheHRET.

As judges, the members of the tribunal must be nonpartisan. They must discharge their functions with complete
detachment, impartiality, and independence even independence from the political party to which they belong.
Hence,"disloyaltytoparty"and"breachofpartydiscipline,"arenotvalidgroundsfortheexpulsionofamemberof
the tribunal. In expelling Congressman Camasura from the HRET for having cast a conscience vote" in favor of
Bondoc,basedstrictlyontheresultoftheexaminationandappreciationoftheballotsandtherecountofthevotes
bythetribunal,theHouseofRepresentativescommittedagraveabuseofdiscretion,aninjustice,andaviolationof
theConstitution.ItsresolutionofexpulsionagainstCongressmanCamasurais,therefore,nullandvoid.

ExpulsionofCongressmanCamasuraviolateshisrighttosecurityoftenure.

Another reason for the nullity of the expulsion resolution of the House of Representatives is that it violates
Congressman Camasura's right to security of tenure. Members of the HRET as "sole judge" of congressional
electioncontests,areentitledtosecurityoftenurejustasmembersofthejudiciaryenjoysecurityoftenureunder
ourConstitution(Sec.2,Art.VIII,1987Constitution).Therefore,membershipintheHouseElectoralTribunalmay
notbeterminatedexceptforajustcause,suchas,theexpirationofthemember'scongressionaltermofoffice,his
death, permanent disability, resignation from the political party he represents in the tribunal, formal affiliation with
another political party, or removal for other valid cause. A member may not be expelled by the House of
Representativesfor"partydisloyalty"shortofproofthathehasformallyaffiliatedwithanotherpoliticalgroup.Asthe
recordsofthiscasefailtoshowthatCongressmanCamasurahasbecomearegisteredmemberofanotherpolitical
party, his expulsion from the LDP and from the HRET was not for a valid cause, hence, it violated his right to
securityoftenure.

There is nothing to the argument of respondent Pineda that members of the House Electoral Tribunal are not
entitledtosecurityoftenurebecause,asamatteroffact,twoSupremeCourtJusticesintheTribunalwerechanged
beforetheendofthecongressionalterm,namely:ChiefJusticeMarceloB.Fernanwho,uponhiselevationtothe
officeofChiefJustice,wasreplacedbyJusticeFlorentinoP.Feliciano,andthelatter,whowastemporarilyreplaced
byJusticeEmilioA.Gancayco,whenhe(J.Feliciano)tookaleaveofabsencetodeliveralectureinYaleUniversity.
It should be stressed, however, that those changes in the judicial composition to the HRET had no political
implicationsatallunlikethepresentattempttoremoveCongressmanCamasura.NocoercionwasappliedonChief
JusticeFernantoresignfromthetribunal,noronJusticeFelicianotogoonaleaveofabsence.Theyactedontheir
ownfreewill,forvalidreasons,andwithnocovertdesigntoderailthedispositionofapendingcaseintheHRET.

ThecaseofCongressmanCamasuraisdifferent.Hewasexpelledfrom,andby,theLDPtopunishhimfor"party
disloyalty" after he had revealed to the SecretaryGeneral of the party how he voted in the Bondoc case. The
purposeoftheexpulsionofCongressmanCamasurawastonullifyhisvoteintheBondoccasesothattheHRET's
decisionmaynotbepromulgated,andsothatthewaycouldbeclearedfortheLDPtonominateareplacementfor
Congressman Camasura in the Tribunal. That stratagem of the LDP and the House of Representatives is clearly
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aimed to substitute Congressman Camasura's vote and, in effect, to change the judgment of the HRET in the
Bondoccase.

ThejudicialpowerofthisCourthasbeeninvokedbyBondocfortheprotectionofhisrightsagainstthestrongarmof
themajoritypartyintheHouseofRepresentatives.TheCourtcannotbedeaftohispleaforrelief,norindifferentto
hischargethattheHouseofRepresentativeshadactedwithgraveabuseofdiscretioninremovingCongressman
CamasurafromtheHouseElectoralTribunal.HecallsupontheCourt,asguardianoftheConstitution,toexercise
itsjudicialpoweranddischargeitsdutytoprotecthisrightsasthepartyaggrievedbytheactionoftheHouse.The
CourtmustperformitsdutyundertheConstitution"evenwhentheviolatorbethehighestofficialofthelandorthe
Governmentitself"(ConcurringopinionofJ.AntonioBarredoinAquinovs.PonceEnrile,59SCRA183,207).

SincetheexpulsionofCongressmanCamasurafromtheHouseElectoralTribunalbytheHouseofRepresentatives
wasnotforalawfulandvalidcause,buttounjustlyinterferewiththetribunal'sdispositionoftheBondoccaseandto
deprive Bondoc of the fruits of the Tribunal's decision in his favor, the action of the House of Representatives is
clearlyviolativeoftheconstitutionalmandate(Sec.17,Art.VI,1987Constitution)whichcreatedtheHouseElectoral
Tribunaltobethe"solejudge"oftheelectioncontestbetweenPinedaandBondoc.We,therefore,declarenulland
void the resolution dated March 13, 1991 of the House of Representatives withdrawing the nomination, and
rescindingtheelection,ofCongressmanCamasuraasamemberoftheHouseElectoralTribunal.Thepetitioner,Dr.
EmigdioBondoc,isentitledtothereliefshepraysforinthiscase.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus is granted. The decision of the House of
RepresentativeswithdrawingthenominationandrescindingtheelectionofCongressmanJuanitaG.Camasura,Jr.
as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal is hereby declared null and void ab initio for being violative of the
Constitution,andCongressmanJuanitaG.Camasura,Jr.isorderedreinstatedtohispositionasamemberofthe
HouseofRepresentativesElectoralTribunal.TheHRETResolutionNo.910018datedMarch14,1991,cancelling
thepromulgationofthedecisioninHRETCaseNo.25("Dr.EmigdioBondocvs.MarcianoA.Pineda")isalsoset
aside. Considering the unconscionable delay incurred in the promulgation of that decision to the prejudice of the
speedyresolutionofelectoralcases,theCourt,intheexerciseofitsequityjurisdiction,andintheinterestofjustice,
herebydeclaresthesaiddecisionDULYPROMULGATED,effectiveuponserviceofcopiesthereofontheparties,to
bedoneimmediatelybytheTribunal.CostsagainstrespondentMarcianoA.Pineda.

SOORDERED.

Narvasa,Paras,Bidin,Medialdea,RegaladoandDavide,Jr.,JJ.,concur.

Gutierrez,Jr.,J.,concursascertifiedtobytheChiefJustice.

Fernan,C.J.,MelencioHerrera,CruzandFeliciano,JJ.,tooknopart.

SeparateOpinions

PADILLA,J.,dissenting:

Can the Supreme Court review and annul an act of the House of Representatives, assuming that said act were
politicallymotivated,butwellwithintheconstitutionalparametersofitsauthority?

ThemajoritywouldpostulatethattheCourtisempoweredtodosoonthestrengthofthesecondparagraph,Section
1ofArt.VIIIofthe1987Constitutionwhichreads:

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
instrumentalityofthegovernment.

The majority would even go as far as annul the action of the House of Representatives in withdrawing and
rescinding its nomination to the House Electoral Tribunal of Congressman Juanito J. Camasura, Jr. and order
Camasura'sreinstatementtosaidTribunal.IregretIcannotjointhemajority'sposturewhich,Ibelieve,isviolativeof
the almost sacramental doctrine of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution. It is for this reason that I
registermydissent.

Afundamentalprincipleinourconstitutionalsystemisthatthepowersofgovernmentaredistributedamongthree
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(3)greatdepartments:legislative,executiveandjudicial.Eachofthesedepartmentsisseparatefrom,yetcoordinate
and coequal with the others each one deriving its authority directly from the fundamental law. 1 As Mr. Justice
Moreland summarized, "the three departments are not only coordinate, they are coequal and coimportant. While
interdependent, in the sense that each is unable to perform its functions fully and adequately without the other, they are
neverthelessinmanysensesindependentofeachother.Thatistosay,onedepartmentmaynotcontroloreveninterfere
withanotherintheexerciseofitsparticularfunctions.2(Emphasissupplied)

Thecompletenessoftheirseparationandmutualindependencedoesnot,however,extendtothepointthatthosein
authorityinonedepartmentcanignoreandtreattheactsofthoseinauthorityintheothers,donepursuanttothe
authority vested in them, as nugatory and not binding in every other department. 3 In other words, one department
mustnotencroachuponnorinterferewithactsdonewithintheconstitutionalcompetenceoftheotherwherefulldiscretionary
authorityhasbeendelegatedbytheConstitutiontosaiddepartment.Thatdepartmentalone,totheexclusionoftheothers,
hasbothrightanddutytoexerciseitfreefromanyencroachmentorinterferenceofwhomsoever.4

Thisprincipleordoctrineofseparationofpowersisenforcedbythejudiciarythroughtheexerciseofitspowerof
judicialreviewandprudentrefusaltoassumejurisdictionovercasesinvolvingpoliticalquestions.5

Inthecaseatbar,onenotesthatthedisputeemergedwhentheHouseofRepresentativeswithdrewandrendedthe
nomination of Congressman Juanito J. Camasura, Jr. to the House Electoral Tribunal. This act was, it seems,
precipitated by a letter of Congressman Jose S. Cojuangco, Jr. informing the Speaker of the House of
Representatives of the expulsion of Congressman Juanito J. Camasura, Jr. from the LDP for having allegedly
helped to organize the Partido Pilipino of Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. and for allegedly having invited other LDP
memberstojointhesaidpoliticalparty.Asaresultofthisletter,thenominationofCamasuratotheHouseElectoral
TribunalwaswithdrawnataplenarysessionoftheHouseofRepresentativesandtheHouseElectoralTribunalwas
informedofsuchactionoftheHouse.

PetitionerassailstheproprietyofsaidactionoftheHouseofRepresentativesasitis,healleges,butaemployto
thwartthepromulgationofadecisionintheelectoralprotestlodgedbyhim(petitionerBondoc)againstMarcianoM.
Pineda, a member of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), and which decision would be favorable to him
(Bontoc). Petitioner contends that not only does the action of the House of Representatives violate the
independence of the House Electoral Tribunal but that it also violates the security of tenure of Congressman
Camasura,Jr.insaidelectoraltribunal.

Congressman (respondent) Pineda, on the other hand, submits that the House of Representatives has the sole
authority to nominate and select from among its members who are to sit in the House Electoral Tribunal, upon
recommendationofthepoliticalpartiestherein,hence,italsohasthesolepowertoremoveanyofthemfromthe
electoraltribunalwhenevertheratiointherepresentationofthepoliticalpartiesintheHouseismateriallychanged
on account of death, incapacity, removal or expulsion of a House member from a political party. A Tribunal
member's term of office in said electoral tribunal is not, Congressman Pineda argues, coextensive with his
legislative term. Were that the fact, the constitutional provision mandating representation in the electoral tribunal
basedonpoliticalaffiliationmaybecompletelynullifiedintheeventthatamemberoftheTribunalchangesparty
affiliation.

As provided for in the Constitution, there are nine (9) members of the House Electoral Tribunal. Three (3) of the
members of the tribunal are Justices of the Supreme Court as designated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court.Theremainingsix(6)memberscomefromthemembersoftheHousechosenonthebasisofproportional
representationfromthepoliticalpartiesandthepartiesororganizationsregisteredunderthepartylistsystem. 6The
HouseofRepresentativeshasthepowertonominatethemembersoftheHouseElectoralTribunal(representingtheHouse)
provided,ofcourse,thattheproportionalrepresentationofpartiesismaintained.

Can the House of Representatives withdraw the nomination extended to a member of the electoral tribunal
(representingtheHouseofRepresentatives)afterthemajoritypartyintheHousehasexpelledhimfromitsranks?I
believeitcan.ThepowertoappointordesignateamemberoftheHouseofRepresentativestobeamemberofthe
HouseElectoralTribunalmust,tomymind,necessarilyincludethepowertoremovesaidmember.Awithdrawalof
thenominationofamemberoftheTribunalwheresuchwithdrawalwillmaintaintheproportionalrepresentationof
the political parties, mandated by the Constitution, must be recognized and respected, no matter how politically
motivateditmightbe.Constitutionallaw,itissaid,isconcernedwithpowernotwithpolicy,wisdomorexpediency.7
Thequestionthatmustbeaskedintestingthevalidityofsuchlegislativeactis,doestheHouseofRepresentativeshavethe
powertodowhatithasdoneandnotwhethertheHouseofRepresentativesshouldhavedonewhatithasdone.

Corollarytotheaboveis,cantheJudiciaryquestionalegislativeactdonewithintheconstitutionalauthoritytothe
legislature?Ibelievenot,inthesamewaythat,forinstance,theHousecannotquestiontheactoftheChiefJustice,
shouldhedeemitpropertochangetheJusticeswhositasmembersoftheHouseElectoralTribunal.Matterssuch
aswhowillbedesignatedornominatedasmembersoftheelectoraltribunal,howtheyshouldvotesurelyare
matters that not merely concern political action as far as members of the House are concerned, but are the very
essence of political action, if political life has any connotation at all. To open courts of justice to such political
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controversieswouldhavecourtssitinjudgmentoverthemanifolddisputesengenderedbypoliticalmanueversand
skirmishes.Thiswoulddragthecourtsintothepoliticalarenawhichinthelongruncouldundermineanddestroy
theirindependence.

The judicial department, in my opinion, has no power to review even the most arbitrary and unfair action of the
legislativedepartment,takenintheexerciseofpowercommittedexclusivelytoitbytheConstitution.8Itisnotwithin
theprovinceofthisCourttosuperviselegislationoroverseelegislativeactsastokeepthemwithintheboundsofpropriety,
fairnessandcommonsense.Suchacts,liketheoneatbar,areexclusivelyoflegislativeconcern.9Toholdotherwisewould
betoinvalidatetheprincipleofseparationofpowers.AsJudgeLearnedHandsoaptlyobserved,"onecannotfindamongthe
powersgrantedtocourtsanyauthoritytopassuponthevalidityofthedecisionsofanother'Department'astothescopeof
that'Department's'powers.Indeed,itistobeunderstoodthatthethree(3),Departments'wereseparateandcoequal,each
being,asitwere,aLeibnizianmonad,lookinguptotheHeavenoftheElectorate,butwithoutanymutualdependence.What
could be better evidence of complete dependence than to subject the validity of the decision of one 'Department' as to its
authorityonagivenoccasiontoreviewandreversalbyanother?SuchadoctrinemakessupremetheDepartmentthathas
thelastword."10(Emphasissupplied)

The Court should not lose sight of the fact that "sometimes the division of power tacitly accepted by society runs
countertoitsownIdeologyandtotheconstitutionalcommandments.Thismaybebecausethesocietyisstillunsure
ofwhatthebestdivisionofpowerwouldbeandsotemporarilyacceptstheexistingone,orbecausethesocietyhas
vacateditsdecisionmakingfunctionandspecialinterestgroupshavesteppedintofillthevacuum.Ineithercase,
the Court can neither validate a clearly unconstitutional distribution, and thereby subject its role as guardian to
claimsoffraud,norinvalidateafunctioningsystemwithanorderwhichwouldbeignored.Todoeitherwouldbeto
sacrificethepopularprestigewhichistheCourt'sprimarilysourceofpower."11

Even assuming that the act of the House of Representatives in withdrawing and rescinding the nomination of
CongressmanCamasura,Jr.asamemberoftheHouseElectoralTribunalispoliticallymotivated,precipitatedasit
isbytheknowledgeofhowCamasura,Jr.istovoteinoneoftheelectoralprotestsbeforesaidTribunal,this,tome,
isnotsufficientreasontoinvalidatesaidactoftheHouseofRepresentatives,sinceitisdonewithinthelimitsofits
constitutionalpower.Besides,whatotheractoftheHouse(orSenate)istherethatisnotpoliticallymotivated?After
all,thatbranchofgovernmentisapoliticalbranchandnecessarilyorpragmaticallyallofitsactsareandwillalways
bepoliticallymotivated.

The environmental facts of this case do not, in my considered opinion, bring it within the Court's power to strike
downthelegislativeactinquestion,itisthepeopleofthisnationnotthiscourtwhoshouldultimatelyjudgethe
actwhentheycasttheirballots.TheCourtcannotarrogateuntoitselfthepowertoinstitutewhatitperceivestobe
politicalreforms,forinthelastanalysisonwhichallelsedepend,thevitalityofapoliticalsystemwouldbegreatly
weakened by reliance on the judiciary for any and all political reforms and, in time, a complacent body politic will
result.Itistheresponsibilityofthepeopleandnoneother,toremainevervigilantabouttheirgovernmenttotheend
thattheycancontinuetoliveunderaregimeofjustice,libertyanddemocracy.ToleavethistasktotheCourt,would
inthelongrunbeinimicaltoanddestructiveofdemocraticgovernmentitself

ACCORDINGLY,IvotetoDISMISSthepetition.

SARMIENTO,J.,disssenting:

LikemydistinguishedcolleagueJusticeTeodoroPadilla,Itooamunabletoagreewiththemajority.Ibelievethat
thequestionsasJusticePadillaraiseditcantheCourtannulanactofCongress,revampingitsHouseElectoral
Tribunal?isapoliticalquestionandaquestioninwhichtheCourtcannotintervene.

It is true that under the Charter, the jurisdiction of this Court includes the power to strike down excesses of any
agencyofGovernment,buttheCharterdidnotalterordiscardtheprincipleprincipleofseparationofpowers.

Evidently,CongressmanCamasura'sousterfromtheTribunalwasaresultofpoliticalmaneuverswithinthelower
house.ThisCourt,however,isabovepoliticsandJusticesshouldbethelastpersonstogetinvolvedinthe"dirty"
worldofpolitics.Iftheydo,theyrisktheirindependence.

SeparateOpinions

PADILLA,J.,dissenting:

CantheSupremeCourtreviewandannulanactoftheHouseofRepresentatives,assumingthatsaidactwere

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politicallymotivated,butwellwithintheconstitutionalparametersofitsauthority?

ThemajoritywouldpostulatethattheCourtisempoweredtodosoonthestrengthofthesecondparagraph,Section
1ofArt.VIIIofthe1987Constitutionwhichreads:

Judicialpowerincludesthedutyofthecourtsofjusticetosettleactualcontroversiesinvolvingrights
whicharelegallydemandableandenforceable,andtodeterminewhetherornottherehasbeena
graveabuseofdiscretionamountingtolackorexcessofjurisdictiononthepartofanybranchor
instrumentalityofthegovernment.

ThemajoritywouldevengoasfarasannultheactionoftheHouseofRepresentativesinwithdrawingand
rescindingitsnominationtotheHouseElectoralTribunalofCongressmanJuanitoJ.Camasura,Jr.andorder
Camasura'sreinstatementtosaidTribunal.IregretIcannotjointhemajority'sposturewhich,Ibelieve,isviolativeof
thealmostsacramentaldoctrineofseparationofpowersenshrinedintheConstitution.ItisforthisreasonthatI
registermydissent.

Afundamentalprincipleinourconstitutionalsystemisthatthepowersofgovernmentaredistributedamongthree
(3)greatdepartments:legislative,executiveandjudicial.Eachofthesedepartmentsisseparatefrom,yetcoordinate
andcoequalwiththeotherseachonederivingitsauthoritydirectlyfromthefundamentallaw.1AsMr.Justice
Morelandsummarized,"thethreedepartmentsarenotonlycoordinate,theyarecoequalandcoimportant.While
interdependent,inthesensethateachisunabletoperformitsfunctionsfullyandadequatelywithouttheother,theyare
neverthelessinmanysensesindependentofeachother.Thatistosay,onedepartmentmaynotcontroloreveninterfere
withanotherintheexerciseofitsparticularfunctions.2(Emphasissupplied)

Thecompletenessoftheirseparationandmutualindependencedoesnot,however,extendtothepointthatthosein
authorityinonedepartmentcanignoreandtreattheactsofthoseinauthorityintheothers,donepursuanttothe
authorityvestedinthem,asnugatoryandnotbindingineveryotherdepartment.3Inotherwords,onedepartment
mustnotencroachuponnorinterferewithactsdonewithintheconstitutionalcompetenceoftheotherwherefulldiscretionary
authorityhasbeendelegatedbytheConstitutiontosaiddepartment.Thatdepartmentalone,totheexclusionoftheothers,
hasbothrightanddutytoexerciseitfreefromanyencroachmentorinterferenceofwhomsoever.4

Thisprincipleordoctrineofseparationofpowersisenforcedbythejudiciarythroughtheexerciseofitspowerof
judicialreviewandprudentrefusaltoassumejurisdictionovercasesinvolvingpoliticalquestions.5

Inthecaseatbar,onenotesthatthedisputeemergedwhentheHouseofRepresentativeswithdrewandrendedthe
nominationofCongressmanJuanitoJ.Camasura,Jr.totheHouseElectoralTribunal.Thisactwas,itseems,
precipitatedbyaletterofCongressmanJoseS.Cojuangco,Jr.informingtheSpeakeroftheHouseof
RepresentativesoftheexpulsionofCongressmanJuanitoJ.Camasura,Jr.fromtheLDPforhavingallegedly
helpedtoorganizethePartidoPilipinoofMr.EduardoCojuangco,Jr.andforallegedlyhavinginvitedotherLDP
memberstojointhesaidpoliticalparty.Asaresultofthisletter,thenominationofCamasuratotheHouseElectoral
TribunalwaswithdrawnataplenarysessionoftheHouseofRepresentativesandtheHouseElectoralTribunalwas
informedofsuchactionoftheHouse.

PetitionerassailstheproprietyofsaidactionoftheHouseofRepresentativesasitis,healleges,butaemployto
thwartthepromulgationofadecisionintheelectoralprotestlodgedbyhim(petitionerBondoc)againstMarcianoM.
Pineda,amemberoftheLabanngDemokratikongPilipino(LDP),andwhichdecisionwouldbefavorabletohim
(Bontoc).PetitionercontendsthatnotonlydoestheactionoftheHouseofRepresentativesviolatethe
independenceoftheHouseElectoralTribunalbutthatitalsoviolatesthesecurityoftenureofCongressman
Camasura,Jr.insaidelectoraltribunal.

Congressman(respondent)Pineda,ontheotherhand,submitsthattheHouseofRepresentativeshasthesole
authoritytonominateandselectfromamongitsmemberswhoaretositintheHouseElectoralTribunal,upon
recommendationofthepoliticalpartiestherein,hence,italsohasthesolepowertoremoveanyofthemfromthe
electoraltribunalwhenevertheratiointherepresentationofthepoliticalpartiesintheHouseismateriallychanged
onaccountofdeath,incapacity,removalorexpulsionofaHousememberfromapoliticalparty.ATribunal
member'stermofofficeinsaidelectoraltribunalisnot,CongressmanPinedaargues,coextensivewithhis
legislativeterm.Werethatthefact,theconstitutionalprovisionmandatingrepresentationintheelectoraltribunal
basedonpoliticalaffiliationmaybecompletelynullifiedintheeventthatamemberoftheTribunalchangesparty
affiliation.

AsprovidedforintheConstitution,therearenine(9)membersoftheHouseElectoralTribunal.Three(3)ofthe
membersofthetribunalareJusticesoftheSupremeCourtasdesignatedbytheChiefJusticeoftheSupreme
Court.Theremainingsix(6)memberscomefromthemembersoftheHousechosenonthebasisofproportional
representationfromthepoliticalpartiesandthepartiesororganizationsregisteredunderthepartylistsystem.6The
HouseofRepresentativeshasthepowertonominatethemembersoftheHouseElectoralTribunal(representingtheHouse)
provided,ofcourse,thattheproportionalrepresentationofpartiesismaintained.

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CantheHouseofRepresentativeswithdrawthenominationextendedtoamemberoftheelectoraltribunal
(representingtheHouseofRepresentatives)afterthemajoritypartyintheHousehasexpelledhimfromitsranks?I
believeitcan.ThepowertoappointordesignateamemberoftheHouseofRepresentativestobeamemberofthe
HouseElectoralTribunalmust,tomymind,necessarilyincludethepowertoremovesaidmember.Awithdrawalof
thenominationofamemberoftheTribunalwheresuchwithdrawalwillmaintaintheproportionalrepresentationof
thepoliticalparties,mandatedbytheConstitution,mustberecognizedandrespected,nomatterhowpolitically
motivateditmightbe.Constitutionallaw,itissaid,isconcernedwithpowernotwithpolicy,wisdomorexpediency.7
Thequestionthatmustbeaskedintestingthevalidityofsuchlegislativeactis,doestheHouseofRepresentativeshavethe
powertodowhatithasdoneandnotwhethertheHouseofRepresentativesshouldhavedonewhatithasdone.

Corollarytotheaboveis,cantheJudiciaryquestionalegislativeactdonewithintheconstitutionalauthoritytothe
legislature?Ibelievenot,inthesamewaythat,forinstance,theHousecannotquestiontheactoftheChiefJustice,
shouldhedeemitpropertochangetheJusticeswhositasmembersoftheHouseElectoralTribunal.Matterssuch
aswhowillbedesignatedornominatedasmembersoftheelectoraltribunal,howtheyshouldvotesurelyare
mattersthatnotmerelyconcernpoliticalactionasfarasmembersoftheHouseareconcerned,butarethevery
essenceofpoliticalaction,ifpoliticallifehasanyconnotationatall.Toopencourtsofjusticetosuchpolitical
controversieswouldhavecourtssitinjudgmentoverthemanifolddisputesengenderedbypoliticalmanueversand
skirmishes.Thiswoulddragthecourtsintothepoliticalarenawhichinthelongruncouldundermineanddestroy
theirindependence.

Thejudicialdepartment,inmyopinion,hasnopowertorevieweventhemostarbitraryandunfairactionofthe
legislativedepartment,takenintheexerciseofpowercommittedexclusivelytoitbytheConstitution.8Itisnotwithin
theprovinceofthisCourttosuperviselegislationoroverseelegislativeactsastokeepthemwithintheboundsofpropriety,
fairnessandcommonsense.Suchacts,liketheoneatbar,areexclusivelyoflegislativeconcern.9Toholdotherwisewould
betoinvalidatetheprincipleofseparationofpowers.AsJudgeLearnedHandsoaptlyobserved,"onecannotfindamongthe
powersgrantedtocourtsanyauthoritytopassuponthevalidityofthedecisionsofanother'Department'astothescopeof
that'Department's'powers.Indeed,itistobeunderstoodthatthethree(3),Departments'wereseparateandcoequal,each
being,asitwere,aLeibnizianmonad,lookinguptotheHeavenoftheElectorate,butwithoutanymutualdependence.What
couldbebetterevidenceofcompletedependencethantosubjectthevalidityofthedecisionofone'Department'astoits
authorityonagivenoccasiontoreviewandreversalbyanother?SuchadoctrinemakessupremetheDepartmentthathas
thelastword."10(Emphasissupplied)

TheCourtshouldnotlosesightofthefactthat"sometimesthedivisionofpowertacitlyacceptedbysocietyruns
countertoitsownIdeologyandtotheconstitutionalcommandments.Thismaybebecausethesocietyisstillunsure
ofwhatthebestdivisionofpowerwouldbeandsotemporarilyacceptstheexistingone,orbecausethesocietyhas
vacateditsdecisionmakingfunctionandspecialinterestgroupshavesteppedintofillthevacuum.Ineithercase,
theCourtcanneithervalidateaclearlyunconstitutionaldistribution,andtherebysubjectitsroleasguardianto
claimsoffraud,norinvalidateafunctioningsystemwithanorderwhichwouldbeignored.Todoeitherwouldbeto
sacrificethepopularprestigewhichistheCourt'sprimarilysourceofpower."11

EvenassumingthattheactoftheHouseofRepresentativesinwithdrawingandrescindingthenominationof
CongressmanCamasura,Jr.asamemberoftheHouseElectoralTribunalispoliticallymotivated,precipitatedasit
isbytheknowledgeofhowCamasura,Jr.istovoteinoneoftheelectoralprotestsbeforesaidTribunal,this,tome,
isnotsufficientreasontoinvalidatesaidactoftheHouseofRepresentatives,sinceitisdonewithinthelimitsofits
constitutionalpower.Besides,whatotheractoftheHouse(orSenate)istherethatisnotpoliticallymotivated?After
all,thatbranchofgovernmentisapoliticalbranchandnecessarilyorpragmaticallyallofitsactsareandwillalways
bepoliticallymotivated.

Theenvironmentalfactsofthiscasedonot,inmyconsideredopinion,bringitwithintheCourt'spowertostrike
downthelegislativeactinquestion,itisthepeopleofthisnationnotthiscourtwhoshouldultimatelyjudgethe
actwhentheycasttheirballots.TheCourtcannotarrogateuntoitselfthepowertoinstitutewhatitperceivestobe
politicalreforms,forinthelastanalysisonwhichallelsedepend,thevitalityofapoliticalsystemwouldbegreatly
weakenedbyrelianceonthejudiciaryforanyandallpoliticalreformsand,intime,acomplacentbodypoliticwill
result.Itistheresponsibilityofthepeopleandnoneother,toremainevervigilantabouttheirgovernmenttotheend
thattheycancontinuetoliveunderaregimeofjustice,libertyanddemocracy.ToleavethistasktotheCourt,would
inthelongrunbeinimicaltoanddestructiveofdemocraticgovernmentitself

ACCORDINGLY,IvotetoDISMISSthepetition.

SARMIENTO,J.,disssenting:

LikemydistinguishedcolleagueJusticeTeodoroPadilla,Itooamunabletoagreewiththemajority.Ibelievethat
thequestionsasJusticePadillaraiseditcantheCourtannulanactofCongress,revampingitsHouseElectoral
Tribunal?isapoliticalquestionandaquestioninwhichtheCourtcannotintervene.

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ItistruethatundertheCharter,thejurisdictionofthisCourtincludesthepowertostrikedownexcessesofany
agencyofGovernment,buttheCharterdidnotalterordiscardtheprincipleprincipleofseparationofpowers.

Evidently,CongressmanCamasura'sousterfromtheTribunalwasaresultofpoliticalmaneuverswithinthelower
house.ThisCourt,however,isabovepoliticsandJusticesshouldbethelastpersonstogetinvolvedinthe"dirty"
worldofpolitics.Iftheydo,theyrisktheirindependence.

Footnotes

1AnnexB,p.29,Rollo.

2AnnexD,p.34,Rollo.

3ResolutionNo.0391p.35,Rollo.

4AnnexD2p.36,Rollo.

5Thecommentsoftherespondentswerelatertreatedastheiranswererstothepetitiontowhichthe
Courtgaveduecourse.

6p.53,Rollo.

7p.93,Rollo.

8p.94,Rollo.

9p.111,Rollo.

10p.99,Rollo.

11p.127,Rollo.

12p.130,Rollo.

13p.142,Rollo.

14p.150,Rollo.

155p.152,Rollo.

16p.157,Rollo.

Padilla,J.:

1Peoplevs.Vera,65Phil.56.

2ProvinceofTarlacvs.Gale,26Phil.338,349.

3Kilbournvs.Thomson,103US168,25L.ed.177Abuevavs.Wood,45Phil.612.

4Mr.JusticeConcepcioninTanada,etal.vs.MarianoJesusCuenco,etal.,G.R.No.L10520,28
February1957.

5NeptaliGonzales,PhilippinePoliticalLaw,1966ed.,p.102.

6Section17,ArticleVI,1987Constitution.

7Bautistavs.Salonga,G.R.No.86439,13April1989,172SCRA182.

8Verav.Avelino,77Phil.192.

9Peoplev.Carlos,78Phil.535.

10deliveredonoccasionoftheOliverWendellHomesLectureof1958andpublishedinLEARNED
HAND,TheBillofRights4(1958).

11PhilippinesStrum,"TheSupremeCourtandPoliticalQuestions"astudyinjudicialevasion,1974
ed.,p.103.

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