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FRANCISCO VS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (GR # 160261, November 10, 2003)

DOCTRINES: Impeachment Proceedings; Political Question; Judicial Branch; Supremacy of Constitution


over other rules and laws of the land

FACTS:

On 28 November 2001, the 12th Congress of the House of Representatives adopted and approved the
Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings, superseding the previous House Impeachment Rules
approved by the 11th Congress.
On 22 July 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a Resolution, which directed the Committee on
Justice to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner of disbursements and expenditures
by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).
On 2 June 2003, former President Joseph E. Estrada filed an impeachment complaint (first impeachment
complaint) against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven Associate Justices of the Supreme Court for
culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of the public trust and other high crimes. The complaint
was endorsed by House Representatives, and was referred to the House Committee on Justice on 5 August
2003 in accordance with Section 3(2) of Article XI of the Constitution. The House Committee on Justice
ruled on 13 October 2003 that the first impeachment complaint was sufficient in form, but voted to
dismiss the same on 22 October 2003 for being insufficient in substance.
The following day or on 23 October 2003, the second impeachment complaint was filed with the
Secretary General of the House by House Representatives against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.,
founded on the alleged results of the legislative inquiry initiated by above-mentioned House Resolution. The
second impeachment complaint was accompanied by a Resolution of Endorsement/Impeachment signed
by at least 1/3 of all the Members of the House of Representatives.
Various petitions for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus were filed with the Supreme Court against
the House of Representatives, et. al., most of which petitions contend that the filing of the second
impeachment complaint is unconstitutional as it violates the provision of Section 5 of Article XI of the
Constitution that [n]o impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once
within a period of one year.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the offenses alleged in the Second impeachment complaint constitute valid impeachable
offenses under the Constitution.
2. Whether or not Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the Rules on Impeachment adopted by the 12th
Congress are unconstitutional for violating the provisions of Section 3, Article XI of the Constitution.
3. Whether the second impeachment complaint is barred under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the
Constitution.

HELD:
1. This issue is a non-justiciable political question which is beyond the scope of the judicial power of the
Supreme Court under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution.
Any discussion of this issue would require the Court to make a determination of what constitutes an
impeachable offense. Such a determination is a purely political question which the Constitution has left
to the sound discretion of the legislation. Such an intent is clear from the deliberations of the
Constitutional Commission.
Courts will not touch the issue of constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the very lis
mota or crux of the controversy.
2. The Rule of Impeachment adopted by the House of Congress is unconstitutional.
Section 3 of Article XI provides that The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to
effectively carry out the purpose of this section. Clearly, its power to promulgate its rules on
impeachment is limited by the phrase to effectively carry out the purpose of this section. Hence, these
rules cannot contravene the very purpose of the Constitution which said rules were intended to
effectively carry out. Moreover, Section 3 of Article XI clearly provides for other specific limitations on
its power to make rules.
It is basic that all rules must not contravene the Constitution which is the fundamental law. If as alleged
Congress had absolute rule making power, then it would by necessary implication have the power to
alter or amend the meaning of the Constitution without need of referendum.
3. It falls within the one year bar provided in the Constitution.
Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing of the impeachment complaint and
referral to the House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon, the meaning of Section 3 (5)
of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated in the foregoing
manner, another may not be filed against the same official within a one year period following Article XI,
Section 3(5) of the Constitution.
Considering that the first impeachment complaint, was filed by former President Estrada against Chief
Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, on June 2, 2003 and
referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the second impeachment complaint filed
by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice on
October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional prohibition against the initiation of impeachment
proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a one-year period.

Hence, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings which were
approved by the House of Representatives on November 28, 2001 are unconstitutional. Consequently, the
second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. which was filed by
Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William B. Fuentebella with the Office of the Secretary
General of the House of Representatives on October 23, 2003 is barred under paragraph 5, section 3 of
Article XI of the Constitution.

WHEN IS A COMPLAINT FOR IMPEACHMENT DEEMED INITIATED? It is initiated when the


complaint (accompanied by a resolution for indorsement) has been filed with the house of representatives
and referred to the appropriate Committee. The voting of 1/3 by the House DOES NOT initiate the
impeachment proceedings.