G.R. No. L-45081 – 63 Phil. 139 – Political Law – Basic Principles – Branches of Government; Separation of Powers; System of Checks and Balances
In the elections of September 17, 1935, Jose Angara, and the respondents, Pedro Ynsua et al. were candidates voted for the position of member of the National Assembly for the first district of the Province of Tayabas. On October 7, 1935, Angara was proclaimed as member-elect of the NA for the said district. On November 15, 1935, he took his oath of office. On December 3, 1935, the NA in session assembled, passed Resolution No. 8 confirming the election of the members of the National Assembly against whom no protest had thus far been filed. On December 8, 1935, Ynsua, filed before the Electoral Commission a “Motion of Protest” against the election of Angara. On December 9, 1935, the Electoral Commission adopted a resolution, par. 6 of which fixed said date as the last day for the filing of protests against the election, returns and qualifications of members of the NA, notwithstanding the previous confirmation made by the NA. Angara filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that by virtue of the NA proclamation, Ynsua can no longer protest. Ynsua insisted that his protest must be taken cognizance by the Electoral Commission as it is the body established by the Constitution to settle disputes pertaining to the election of members of the National Assembly. The Electoral Commission agreed with Ynsua and his protest was given due course. Angara now questions before the Supreme Court the validity of the act of the Electoral Commission in fixing the deadline of the filing of protests. Ynsua averred that the Supreme Court has no power to review the acts of the Electoral Commission
ISSUES: Whether or not the SC has jurisdiction over such matter.
Whether or not EC acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in taking cognizance of the election protest.
HELD: (a). The government established by the Constitution follows the theory of separation of powers of the legislative, the executive and the judicial.
(b) The system of checks and balances and the overlapping of functions and duties often makes difficult the delimitation of the powers granted.
(c) That in cases of conflict between the several departments and among the agencies thereof, the judiciary, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, is the only constitutional mechanism devised finally to resolve the conflict and allocate constitutional boundaries.
(d) That judicial supremacy is but the power of judicial review in actual and appropriate cases and controversies, and is the power and duty to see that no one branch or agency of the government transcends the Constitution, which is the source of all authority.
(e) That the Electoral Commission is an independent constitutional creation with specific powers and functions to execute and perform, closer for purposes of classification to the legislative than to any of the other two departments of the government.
(f) That the Electoral Commission is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly.
(g) That under the organic law prevailing before the (1935) Constitution went into effect, each house of the legislature was respectively the sole judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of their elective members.
(h) That the (1935) Constitution has transferred all the powers previously exercised by the legislature with respect to contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of its members, to the Electoral Commission.
(i) That such transfer of power from the legislature to the Electoral Commission was full, clear and complete, and carried with it ex necesitate rei the implied power inter alia to prescribe the rules and regulations as to the time and manner of filing protests.
(j) That the avowed purpose in creating the Electoral Commission was to have an independent constitutional organ pass upon all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, devoid of partisan influence or consideration, which object would be frustrated if the National Assembly were to retain the power to prescribe rules and regulations regarding the manner of conducting said contests.
(k) That section 4 of article VI of the (1935) Constitution repealed not only section 18 of the Jones Law making each house of the Philippine Legislature respectively the sole judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its elective members, but also section 478 of Act No. 3387 empowering each house to prescribe by resolution the time and manner of filing contests against the election of its members, the time and manner of notifying the adverse party, and bond or bonds, to be required, if any, and to fix the costs and expenses of contest.
(l) That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member, irrespective of whether his election is contested or not, is not essential before such member-elect may discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of a member of the National Assembly.
(m) That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member against whom no protest had been filed prior to said confirmation, does not and cannot deprive the Electoral Commission of its incidental power to prescribe the time within which protest against the election of any member of the National Assembly should be filed.
Read another version of this digest here (Judicial Review).