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July 15, 1986

JOSE ANGARA VS THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION Facts of the Case Petitioner Angara and respondent Pedro Ynsua, Miguel Castillo and Dionisio Mayor were candidates voted for the position of member of the National Assembly for the first district of Tayabas. The provincial board of canvassers proclaimed petitioner Angara as having received the most number of votes. The petitioner took his oath of office. Respondent Ynsua filed before the Electoral Commission a motion of protest praying for the nullification of said position and to declare himself as the elected member. Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss, however the Electoral Commission dismissed the same. Petitioner argued that: a) the constitution excludes from the jurisdiction of the Electoral Commission the power to regulate the proceedings of the election contest, which power was reserved to the Legislative Department; and b) the Constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction solely as regards to the merits of contested elections to the National Assembly. Respondent argued that the Electoral Commission is not an inferior tribunal, board or person and that neither under the provisions of Sec 1 & 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution could it be subject in the exercise of quasi-judicial functions to a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court. petitioner prayed for a writ of preliminary injunction against the Electoral Tribunal. Issue: WON the SC has jurisdiction to issue the writ of prohibition against the Electoral Tribunal in taking cognizance of the case Decision: The writ of prohibition against the Electoral Commission is denied. Ratio JUDICIAL REVIEW The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the nature, scope and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions

and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its function is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. More than that, courts accord the presumption of constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but also because the judiciary in the determination of actual cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as expressed through their representatives in the executive and legislative departments of the governments of the government. CHECKS AND BALANCE The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not through express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government. JUDICIAL SUPPREMACY The Electoral Commission is a constitutional creation, invested with the necessary authority in the performance and execution of the limited and specific function assigned to it by the Constitution. Although it is not a power in our tripartite scheme of government, it is, to all intents and purposes, when acting within the limits of its authority, an independent organ. It is, to be sure, closer to the legislative department than to any other. The location of the provision (section 4) creating the Electoral Commission under Article VI entitled "Legislative Department" of our Constitution is very indicative. Its compositions is also significant in that it is constituted by a majority of members of the legislature. But it is a body separate from and independent of the legislature. The grant of power to the Electoral Commission to judge all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, is intended to be as complete and unimpaired as if it had remained originally in the legislature. The express lodging of that power in the Electoral Commission is an implied denial of the exercise of that power by the National Assembly.