Political Law

Emigdio Bondoc vs Marciano Pineda

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G.R. No. 97710 – 201 SCRA 792 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Legislative Department – House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal – Removal of a Member

Political Law – Basic Principles – Branches of Government – Separation of Powers

Emigdio Bondoc and Marciano Pineda were rivals for a Congressional seat in the 4th District of Pampanga. Pineda was a member of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP). While Bondoc was a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP). Pineda won in that election. However, Bondoc contested the result in the HRET (House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal). Bondoc won in the protest and he was subsequently declared as the winner by the HRET.

Meanwhile, one member of the HRET, Congressman Juanito Camasura, Jr. who was a member of LDP confessed to Rep. Jose Cojuangco (LDP’s leader) that he voted for Bondoc even though Bondoc was a member of the NP. He confessed that he believed in his conscience that Bondoc truly won the election. This resulted to Camasura’s expulsion from the LDP. Pineda then moved that they withdraw Camasura from the HRET. They further prayed that a new election be held and that the new LDP representative be appointed in the HRET. This new representative will be voting for Pineda in the reopening of the election contest. Camasura was then removed by HRET’s chairwoman Justice Ameurfina Herrera. Naturally, Bondoc questioned such action before the Supreme Court (SC).

Pineda contends that the issue is already outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court because Camasura’s removal is an official act of Congress and by virtue of the doctrine of separation of powers, the judiciary may not interfere.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Supreme Court may inquire upon the validity of the said act of the HRET without violating the doctrine of separation of powers.

HELD: Yes. The SC can settle the controversy in the case at bar without encroaching upon the function of the legislature particularly a part thereof, HRET. The issue here is a judicial question. It must be noted that what is being complained of is the act of HRET not the act of Congress. In here, when Camasura was rescinded by the tribunal, a decision has already been made, members of the tribunal have already voted regarding the electoral contest involving Pineda and Bondoc wherein Bondoc won. The LDP cannot withdraw their representative from the HRET after the tribunal has already reached a decision. They cannot hold the same election since the issue has already become moot and academic. LDP is merely changing their representative to change the outcome of the election. Camasura should be reinstated because his removal was not due to a lawful or valid cause. Disloyalty to party is not a valid cause for termination of membership in the HRET. Expulsion of Camasura violates his right to security of tenure.

**HRET is composed of 9 members. 3 members coming from the SC. 5 coming from the majority party (LDP). And 1 coming from the minority.

Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution provides:

Sec. 17. The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be 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 members of the Senate or House of Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party list system represented therein. The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman.

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