G.R. NO.  160261 (ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR., Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY SPEAKER JOSE DE VENECIA, THE SENATE, REPRESENTED BY SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. DRILON, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO C. TEODORO, JR. AND REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160262 (SEDFREY M. CANDELARIA, CARLOS P. MEDINA, JR. AND HENEDINA RAZON-ABAD, Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE DE VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160263 (ARTURO M. DE CASTRO AND SOLEDAD M. CAGAMPANG, Petitioners v. FRANKLIN DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SENATE PRESIDENT, AND JOSE DE VENECIA, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160277 (FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, Petitioners, v. JOSE DE VENECIA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FRANKLIN DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, GILBERT TEODORO, JR., FELIX WILLIAM FUENTEBELLA, JULIO LEDESMA IV, HENRY LANOT, KIM BERNARDO LOKIN, MARCELINO LIBABAN, EMMYLOU  TALIÑO-SANTOS, DOUGLAS CAGAS, SHERWIN GATCHALIAN, LUIS BERSAMIN, JR., NERISSA SOON-RUIZ, ERNESTO NIEVA, EDGAR ERICE, ISMAEL MATHAY, SAMUEL SANGWA, ALFREDO MARAÑON, JR., CECILIA CARREON-JALOSJOS, AGAPITO AQUINO, FAUSTO SEACHON, JR., GEORGILU YUMUL-HERMIDA, JOSE CARLOS LACSON, MANUEL ORTEGA, ULIRAN JUAQUIN, SORAYA JAAFAR, WILHELMINO SY-ALVARADO, CLAUDE BAUTISTA, DEL DE GUZMAN, ZENAIDA CRUZ-DUCUT, AUGUSTO BACULIO, FAUSTINO DY III, AUGUSTO SYJUCO, ROZZANO RUFINO BIAZON, LEOVIGILDO BANAAG, ERIC SINGSON, JACINTO PARAS, JOSE SOLIS, RENATO MATUBO, HERMINO TEVES, AMADO ESPINO, JR., EMILIO MACIAS, ARTHUR PINGOY, JR., FRANCIS NEPOMUCENO, CONRADO ESTRELLA III, ELIAS BULUT, JR., JURDIN ROMUALDO, JUAN PABLO BONDOC, GENEROSO TULAGAN, PERPETUO YLAGAN, MICHAEL DUAVIT, JOSEPH DURANO, JESLI LAPUS, CARLOS COJUANGCO, GIORGIDI AGGABAO, FRANCIS ESCUDERO, RENE VELARDE, CELSO LOBREGAT, ALIPIO BADELLES, DIDAGEN DILANGALEN, ABRAHAM MITRA, JOSEPH SANTIAGO, DARLENE ANTONIO-CUSTODIO, ALETA SUAREZ, RODOLFO PLAZA, JV BAUTISTA, GREGORIO IPONG, GILBERT REMULLA, ROLEX SUPLICO, CELIA LAYUS, JUAN MIGUEL ZUBIRI, BENASING MACARAMBON, JR., JOSEFINA JOSON, MARK COJUANGCO, MAURICIO DOMOGAN, RONALDO ZAMORA, ANGELO MONTILLA, ROSELLER BARINAGA, JESNAR FALCON, REYLINA NICOLAS, RODOLFO ALBANO, JOAQUIN CHIPECO, JR., and RUY ELIAS LOPEZ, Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160292 (HERMINIO HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., JOEL RUIZ BUTUYAN, MA. CECILIA PAPA, NAPOLEON C. REYES, ANTONIO H. ABAD, JR., ALFREDO C. LIGON, JOAN P. SERRANO AND GARY S. MALLARI, Petitioners, v. HON. SPEAKER JOSE DE VENECIA, JR. AND ROBERTO P. NAZARENO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160295 (SALACNIB F. BATERINA AND DEPUTY SPEAKER RAUL M. GONZALES, Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, Respondents);

 

G.R.NO.  160310 (LEONILO R. ALFONSO, PETER ALVAREZ, SAMUEL DOCTOR, MELVIN MATIBAG, RAMON MIQUIBAS, RODOLFO MAGSINO, EDUARDO MALASAGA, EDUARDO SARMIENTO, EDGARDO NAOE, LEONARDO GARCIA, EDGARDO SMITH, EMETERIO MENDIOLA, MARIO TOREJA, GUILLERMO CASTASUS, NELSON A. LOYOLA, WILFREDO BELLO, JR., RONNIE TOQUILLO, KATE ANN VITAL, ANGELITA Q. GUZMAN, MONICO PABLES, JAIME BOAQUINA, ERNA LAHUZ, LITA A. AQUINO, MILA P. GABITO, JANETTE ARROYO, RIZALDY EMPIG, ERNA LAHUZ, HOMER CALIBAG, DR. BING ARCE, SIMEON ARCE, JR., EL DELLE ARCE, WILLIE RIVERO, DANTE DIAZ, ALBERTO BUENAVISTA, FAUSTO BUENAVISTA, EMILY SENERIS, ANNA CLARISSA LOYOLA, SALVACION LOYOLA, RAINIER QUIROLGICO, JOSEPH LEANDRO LOYOLA, ANTONIO LIBREA, FILEMON SIBULO, MANUEL D. COMIA, JULITO U. SOON, VIRGILIO LUSTRE, AND NOEL ISORENA, MAU RESTRIVERA, MAX VILLAESTER, AND EDILBERTO GALLOR, Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY HON. SPEAKER JOSE C. DE VENECIA, JR., THE SENATE, REPRESENTED BY HON. SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, HON. FELIX FUENTEBELLA, ET AL., Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160318 (PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, INC., CRISPIN REYES, Petitioners, v. HON. SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, ALL MEMBERS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HON. SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. DRILON, AND ALL MEMBERS, PHILIPPINE SENATE, Respondents;

 

G.R. NO. 160342 (ATTY. FERNANDO P.R PERITO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS A MEMBER OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, MANILA III, AND ENGR. MAXIMO N. MENEZ, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS A TAXPAYER AND MEMBER OF THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION, Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY THE 83 HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE LED BY HON. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM FUENTEBELLA, Respondents);

 

 

 

G.R. NO. 160343 (INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160360 (CLARO B. FLORES, Petitioner, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER, AND THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH THE SENATE PRESIDENT, Respondents.);

 

G.R. NO. 130365 (UP LAW ALUMNI FOUNDATION, INC., GOERING G.C. PADERANGA, DANILO V. ORTIZ, GLORIA C. ESTENZO-RAMOS, LIZA D. CORRO, LUIS V. DIORES, SR., BENJAMIN S. RALLON, ROLANDO P. NONATO, DANTE T. RAMOS, ELSE R. DIVINAGRACIA, KAREN B. CAPARROS-ARQUILLANO, SYLVA G. AGUIRRE-PADERANGA, FOR THEMSELVES AND IN BEHALF OF OTHER CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SPEAKER JOSE DE VENECIA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES FELIX FUENTEBELLA AND GILBERTO TEODORO, BY THEMSELVES AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GROUP OF MORE THAN 80 HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES WHO SIGNED AND FILED THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO DAVIDE, JR., Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160370 (FR. RANHILIO CALLANGAN AQUINO, Petitioner,  v. THE HONORABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE HONORABLE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Respondents);

 

G.R. NO.  160376 (NILO A. MALANYAON, Petitioner,  v. HON. FELIX WILLIAM FUENTEBELLA AND GILBERT TEODORO, IN REPRESENTATION OF THE 86 SIGNATORIES OF THE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY ITS SPEAKER, HON. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, Respondents.);

 

            G.R. NO. 160392 (VENICIO S. FLORES AND HECTOR L. HOFILEÑA, Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AND THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, Respondents);

 

            G.R. NO. 160397 (IN THE MATTER OF THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. – ATTY. DIOSCORO U. VALLEJOS, JR., Petitioner);

 

            G.R. NO.  160403 (PHILIPPINE BAR ASSOCIATION, Petitioner, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, HON. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT, HON. FRANKLIN DRILON, Respondents);

 

            G.R. NO.  160405 (DEMOCRITO C. BARCENAS, PRESIDENT OF IBP CEBU CITY CHAPTER, MANUEL M. MONZON, PRESIDING OF IBP, CEBU PROVINCE, VICTOR A. MAAMBONG, PROVINCIA.L BOARD MEMBER, ADELINO B. SITOY, DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF CEBU, YOUNG LAWYERS ASSOCIATION OF CEBU, INC. [YLAC], REPRESENTED BY ATTY. MANUEL LEGASPI, CONFEDERATION OF ACCREDITED MEDIATORS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. [CAMP, INC.], REPRESENTED BY RODERIC R. POCA, MANDAUE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, [MANLAW], REPRESENTED BY FELIPE VELASQUEZ, FEDERACION INTERNACIONAL DE ABOGADAS [FIDA], REPRESENTED BY THELMA L. JORDAN, CARLOS G. CO, PRESIDENT OF CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AND CEBY LADY LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, INC. [CELLA, INC.], MARIBELLE NAVARRO AND BERNARDITO FLORIDO, PAST PRESIDENT CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, CEBU CHAPTER, Petitioners, v. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY REP. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AS HOUSE SPEAKER AND THE SENATE, REPRESENTED BY SENATOR FRANKLIN DRILON, AS SENATE PRESIDENT, Respondents);

 

            G.R. NO.  ___________ (JAIME N. SORIANO, Petitioner-in-Intervention, v. ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR., SEDFREY M. CANDELARIA, CARLOS P. MEDINA, JR., HENEDIA RAZON-ABAD, ARTURO M. DE CASTRO, SOLEDAD CAGAMPANG, FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, HERMINIO HARRY L. ROQUE, JOEL RUIZ BUTUYAN, MA. CECILIA PAPA, NAPOLEON C. REYES, ANTONIO H. ABAD, JR., ALFREDO C. LIGON, JOAN P. SERRANO, GARY S. MALLARI, SALACNIB F. BATERINA AND DEPUTY SPEAKER RAUL M. GONZALES, Respondents-in-Intervention, HON. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, Intervenor, HON. FRANKLIN M. DRILON, Intervenor,  HON. AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., Intervenor.

 

                                                              Promulgated:

 

                                                           _________________

 

 

x ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

 

S E P A R A T E  O P I N I O N

 

 

Tinga, J.:

 

          May you live in interesting times,” say the Chinese.               Whether as a curse or a blessing, the Filipinos’ lot, it seems, is to live in “interesting” times.  In our recent past, we saw the imposition of martial law,[1] the ratification of a new Constitution,[2] the installation of a revolutionary government,[3] the promulgation of a provisional Constitution[4] the ratification of the present one,[5] as well as attempted power-grabs by military elements resulting in the arrest of the then Defense Minister.[6]  We saw the fall from grace of a once popular president, and the ascension to office of a new president.[7]

 

To all these profound events, the Court bore witness – not silent but, possibly, muted.  In all these profound events, the Court took part – mostly passive and, sometimes, so it is said, active – by upholding or revoking State action.

 

Today, the Court is again asked to bear witness and take part in another unparalleled event in Philippine history: the impeachment of the Chief Justice.  Perhaps not since Javellana and the martial law cases has the Supreme Court, even the entire judiciary, come under greater scrutiny. 

 

The consequences of this latest episode in our colorful saga are palpable.  The economy has plunged to unprecedented depths.  The nation, divided and still reeling from the last impeachment trial, has again been exposed to a similar spectacle.  Threats of “military adventurists” seizing power have surfaced.

 

Punctuating the great impact of the controversy on the polity is the astounding fast clip by which the factual milieu has evolved into the current conundrum of far-reaching proportions.  Departing from the tradition of restraint of the House of Representatives, if not acute hesitancy in the exercise of its impeachment powers, we saw more than one-third of the House membership flexed their muscles in the past fortnight with no less than the Chief Justice as the target. 

 

On June 2, 2003, former President Estrada filed a complaint for impeachment before the House of Representatives against six incumbent members of the Supreme Court who participated in authorizing the administration of the oath to President Macapagal-Arroyo and declaring the former president resigned in Estrada v. Desierto.[8]  Chief among the respondents is Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.[9] himself, the same person who co-presided the impeachment trial of Estrada and personally swore in Macapagal-Arroyo as President.  Also impleaded in the complaint are two other justices[10] for their alleged role, prior to their appointment to this Court, in the events that led to the oath-taking.   Nothing substantial happened until the House Committee on Justice included the complaint in its Order of Business on October 13, 2003, and ruled that the same was “sufficient in form.”  However, the Committee dismissed the complaint on October 22, 2003 for being insufficient in substance.  But the Committee deferred the preparation of the formal Committee Report that had to be filed with the Rules Committee.  As it turned out, there was a purpose behind the delay.  The next day, on October 23, 2003, another complaint was filed by respondent Representatives Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice alone, alleging irregularities in the administration of the Judiciary Development Fund. 

 

          Several petitions, eighteen in all, were filed before this Court, most of them assailing specific provisions of the House of Representatives’ Rules on Impeachment, as well as the second impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice, for being contrary to Section 3 (5), Article XI of the Constitution on Accountability of Public Officers.  Sections 2 and 3 of said Article read in full:

 

SEC. 2. The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.  All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.

 

SEC. 3. (1) The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.

 

(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter.  The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution.  The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof.

 

(3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its contrary resolution.  The vote of each Member shall be recorded.

 

(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.

 

(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.

 

(6) The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.  When sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be on oath or affirmation.  When the President of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside, but shall not vote.  No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.

 

(7) Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines, but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to prosecution, trial and punishment according to law.

 

(8) The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this section.  [Emphasis supplied.]

 

 

The impugned House of Representatives Rules on Impeachment, specifically, Sections 16 and 17, Rule V (Bar against Initiation of Impeachment Proceedings against the same Official), provide:

 

Sec. 16.  Impeachment Proceedings Deemed Initiated. – In cases where a Member of the House files a verified complaint of impeachment or a citizen files a verified complaint that is endorsed by a Member of the House through a resolution of endorsement against an impeachable officer, impeachment proceedings against such official are deemed initiated on the day the Committee on Justice finds that the verified complaint and/or resolution against such official, as the case may be is sufficient in substance or on the date the House votes to overturn or affirm the finding of said Committee that the verified complaint and/or resolution, as the case may be, is not sufficient in substance.

 

In cases where a verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed or endorsed, as the case may be, by at least one-third (1/3) of the Members of the House, impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated at the time of the filing of such verified complaint or resolution of impeachment with the Secretary General.

 

Sec. 17.  Bar Against Initiation of Impeachment Proceedings. – Within a period of one (1) year from the date impeachment proceedings are initiated as provided in Section 16 hereof, no impeachment proceedings, as such, can be initiated against the same official.

          In light of these contentions, petitioners – indeed, the whole Filipino nation – ask: What is the Court going to do?  To this, the Court answers:  We do our duty.

 

The Constitution lodges on the House of Representatives “the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment,”[11] and on the Senate, “the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.”[12] But the power of impeachment is not inherently legislative; it is executive in character.  Neither is the power to try and decide impeachment cases; it is judicial by nature.  Thus, having emanated from the Constitution, the power of impeachment is circumscribed by constitutional limitations.  Even if impeachment as a legal concept is sui generis, it is not supra legem.

 

          An examination of the various constitutions which held sway in this jurisdiction reveals structural  changes in the legislature’s role in the impeachment process.  The 1935 Constitution, as amended, was stark in its assignation of the impeachment authority.  Therein, the House of Representatives was vested “the sole power of impeachment,”[13] while the Senate had “the sole power to try all impeachments,”[14] No other qualifications were imposed upon either chamber in the exercise of their respective functions other than prescribing the votes required for either chambers exercise  of  their  powers,  listing   the   public   officials  who 

are  impeachable, and enumerating  the grounds  for  impeachment.  The


1935  Constitution  was  silent  on  the  procedure. It was similar in this regard to the United States Constitution.[15]

 

          The 1973 Constitution provided a different system.  As it ordained a unicameral legislature, the power to impeach, try  and decide impeachment cases was lodged on a single body, the Batasang Pambansa.[16] The new structure would necessitate a change in constitutional terminology regarding impeachment, the significance of which I shall discuss later. But despite the change, the Constitution did not impose any new limitation that would hamstring the Batasang Pambansa in the discharge of its impeachment powers other than the required majorities.

 

 

          Now comes the 1987 Constitution. It introduces conditionalities and limitations theretofore unheard of.  An impeachment complaint must now be verified.[17] If filed by any member of the House of Representatives or any citizen with the endorsement of a House Member, it shall be included in the order of business within ten session days, and referred to the proper committee within three session days thereafter.[18]  Within sixty days after the referral, and after hearing and upon majority vote of all its members, the proper committee shall submit its report to the House, together with the corresponding resolution, and the House shall calendar the same for consideration within ten days from receipt.[19]  No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.[20]

 

          While these limitations are intrusive on rules of parliamentary practice, they cannot take on a merely procedural character because they are mandatory impositions made by the highest law of the land, and therefore cannot be dispensed with upon whim of the legislative body.[21]  Today, it must be settled once and for all which entity shall determine whether impeachment powers have been exercised in accordance with law. This question is answered definitively by our Constitution.

         

Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution provides:

 

                The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.

 

            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 instrumentality of the Government.

 

 

 

 

 

                Article VIII, Section 1 is a rule of jurisdiction,[22] one that expands the Supreme Court’s authority to take cognizance of and decide cases. No longer was the exercise of judicial review a matter of discretion on the part of the courts bound by perceived notions of wisdom. No longer could this Court shirk from the “irksome task of inquiring into the constitutionality and legality of legislative or executive action when a justiciable controversy is brought before the courts by someone who has been aggrieved or prejudiced by such action.”[23]  An eminent member of the present Court, Justice Puno, described the scope of judicial power in this wise:

         

          In the Philippine setting, there is a more compelling reason for courts to categorically reject the political question defense when its interposition will cover up abuse of power.  For section 1, Article VIII of our Constitution was intentionally cobbled to empower courts “x x x 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 instrumentality of the government.”  This power is new and was not granted to our courts in the 1935 and 1972 Constitutions. It was not also Xeroxed from the US Constitution or any foreign state constitution.  The CONCOM granted this enormous power to our courts in view of our experience under martial law where abusive exercises of state power were shielded from judicial scrutiny by the misuse of the political question doctrine.  Led by the eminent former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion,  the CONCOM expanded and sharpened the checking powers of the judiciary vis-a-vis the Executive and the Legislative departments of government. In cases involving the proclamation of martial law and suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus, it is now beyond dubiety that the government can no longer invoke the political question defense.

 

 

            In Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, I posited the following postulates:

 

            x x x

 

            Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.

 

 

            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 instrumentality of the Government.

 

            Former Chief Justice Roberto R. Concepcion, the sponsor of this provision in the Constitutional Commission explained the sense and the reach of judicial power as follows:

 

            x x x

 

            x x x In other words, the judiciary is the final arbiter on the question of whether or not a branch of government or any of its officials has acted without jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature.

 

            This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which means that the courts cannot hereafter evade the duty to settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters constitute political question.

 

 

            The Constitution cannot be any clearer.  What it granted to this Court is not a mere power which it can decline to exercise. Precisely to deter this disinclination, the Constitution imposed it as a duty of this Court to strike down any act of a branch or instrumentality of government or any of its officials done with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.  Rightly or wrongly, the Constitution has elongated the checking powers of this Court against the other branches of government despite their more democratic character, the President and the legislators being elected by the people.[24]

 

 

Thus, in the case of the House and Senate Electoral Tribunals, this Court has assumed jurisdiction to review the acts of these tribunals, notwithstanding the Constitutional mandate that they shall act as “sole judges” of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of Congress.  The Court asserted this authority as far  back  as  1936,  in  the landmark case of Angara v. Electoral Commission.[25]  More recently, this Court, speaking through Justice Puno, expounded on the history of the Court’s  jurisdiction over these tribunals:

 

In sum, our constitutional history clearly demonstrates that it has been our consistent ruling that this Court has certiorari jurisdiction to review decisions and orders of Electoral Tribunals on a showing of grave abuse of discretion. We made this ruling although the Jones Law described the Senate and the House of Representatives as the ‘sole judges’ of the election, returns, and qualifications of their elective members. It cannot be overstressed that the 1935 Constitution also provided that the Electoral Tribunals of the Senate and the House shall be the ‘sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. Similarly, the 1973 Constitution transferred to the COMELEC the power be the ‘sole judge’ of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of all members of the Batasang Pambansa. We can not lose sight of the significance of the fact that the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court has not been altered in our 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.

 

   xxx In the first place, our 1987 Constitution reiterated the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court on the basis of which it has consistently assumed jurisdiction over decisions of our Electoral Tribunals. In the second place, it even expanded the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court on the basis of which it has consistently assumed jurisdiction over decision of our Electoral Tribunals. In the second place, it even expanded the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court by defining judicial power as “x x x 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 instrumentality of the Government.  In the third place, it similarly reiterated the power of the Electoral Tribunals of the Senate and of the House to act as the ‘sole judge’ of all contests relating to the election, returns,  and qualifications of their respective members.[26] (citations omitted, emphasis supplied)

 

What circumscribes the Court’s review of an act of Congress or a Presidential issuance are the limits imposed by the Constitution  itself  or

the notion of justiciability.[27] An issue is justiciable rather than political


where it involves the legality and not the wisdom of the act complained of,[28] or if it pertains to issues which are inherently susceptible of being decided on grounds recognized by law.[29] As this Court held in Tatad v. Secretary of Finance:[30]

 

In seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravenes the Constitution, the petition no doubt raises a justiciable controversy. Where an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the 'judiciary to settle the dispute. The question thus posed is 'judicial rather than political. The duty to adjudicate remains to assure that the supremacy of the Constitution is upheld. Once a controversy as to the application or interpretation of' a constitutional provision is raised before this Court, it becomes a legal issue which the Court is bound by constitutional mandate to decide.[31]

 

 

The petitions before us raise the question of whether the House of Representatives, in promulgating and implementing the present House Rules on Impeachment, had acted in accordance with the Constitution.[32]  Some  insist  that  the  issues before us are not justiciable

because they raise a “political question.”[33]  This view runs contrary to established authority.

 

While the Court dismissed per its Resolution of September 3, 1985, the petition in G.R. No.  71688 (Arturo M. de Castro, et al. v. Committee on Justice, et al.) seeking to annul the resolution of the Committee on Justice of the then Batasang Pambansa a verified complaint for the impeachment of then President Marcos signed by more than one-fifth (1/5) of all the members of the Batasang Pambansa, which was the requisite number under the 1973 Constitution,  and to give due course to the impeachment complaint, the Court clearly conceded that had the procedure for impeachment been provided in the 1973 Constitution itself, the outcome of the petition would have been different.  Wrote the Court:

 

                                . . . Beyond saying that the Batasan may initiate impeachment by a vote of at least one-fifth of all its members and that no official shall be convicted without the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members thereof, the Constitution says no more. It does not lay down the procedure in said impeachment proceedings, which it had already done. The interpretation and application of said rules are beyond the powers of the Court to review . . . . [34]

           

 

Forty-six years ago, this Court in Tañada v. Cuenco[35] was confronted with the question of whether the procedure laid down in the 1935 Constitution for the selection of members of the Electoral Tribunals was mandatory.  After ruling that it was not a political question, the Court proceeded to affirm the mandatory character of the procedure in these words:

 

            The procedure prescribed in Section 11 of Article VI of the Constitution for the selection of members of the Electoral Tribunals is  vital  to  the  role  they  are called upon to play.   It  constitutes the

 

essence of said Tribunals.  Hence, compliance with said procedure is mandatory and acts performed in violation thereof are null and void.[36]

 

 

The footnote of authorities corresponding to the above-quoted pronouncement reads:

 

The need of adopting this view is demanded, not only by the factors already adverted to, but, also, by the fact that constitutional provisions, unlike statutory enactments, are presumed to be mandatory, ‘unless the contrary is unmistakably manifest.’  The pertinent rule of statutory construction is set forth in the American Jurisprudence as follows:

 

In the interpretation of Constitutions, questions frequently arise as to whether particular sections are mandatory or directory.  The courts usually hesitate to declare that a constitutional provision is directory merely in view of the tendency of the legislature to disregard provisions which are not said to be mandatory.  Accordingly, it is the general rule to regard constitutional provisions as mandatory, and not to leave any discretion to the will of a legislature to obey or to disregard them. This presumption as to mandatory quality is usually followed unless it is unmistakably manifest that the provisions are intended to be merely directory.  The analogous rules distinguishing mandatory and directory statutes are of little value in this connection and are rarely applied in passing upon the provisions of a Constitution.

 

So strong is the inclination in favor of giving obligatory force to the terms of the organic law that it has even been said that neither by the courts nor by any other department of the government may any provision of the Constitution be regarded as merely directory, but that each and every one of its provisions should be treated as imperative and mandatory, without reference to the rules and distinguishing between the directory and the mandatory statutes. (II Am. Jur 686-687; italics supplied)

 

 

Ten years later, the Court in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections[37] resolved the issue of whether a resolution of Congress proposing amendments to the Constitution is a political question. It held that it is not and is therefore subject to judicial review.

 

 

 

                            Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose amendments thereto is not included in the general grant of legislative powers to Congress. It is part of the inherent powers of the people — as the repository of sovereignty in a republican state, such as ours — to make, and, hence, to amend their own Fundamental Law.  Congress may propose amendments to the Constitution merely because the same explicitly grants such power.  Hence, when exercising the same, it is said that Senators and Members of the House of Representatives act, not as members of Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly.  When acting as such, the members of Congress derive their authority from the Constitution, unlike the people, when performing the same function for their authority does not emanate from the Constitution — they are the very source of all powers of government, including the Constitution itself.

 

                        Since, when proposing, as a constituent assembly, amendments to the Constitution, the members of Congress derive their authority from the Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily, that they do not have the final say on whether or not their acts are within or beyond constitutional limits.  Otherwise, they could brush aside and set the same at naught, contrary to the basic tenet that ours is a government of laws, not of men, and to the rigid nature of our Constitution.  Such rigidity is stressed by the fact that, the Constitution expressly confers upon the Supreme Court, the power to declare a treaty unconstitution, despite the eminently political character of treaty-making power.

 

                        In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress — acting as a constituent assembly — violates the Constitution essentially justiciable, not political, and, hence, subject to judicial review, and, to the extent that this view may be inconsistent with the stand taken in Mabanag v. Lopez Vito, the latter should be deemed modified accordingly. The Members of the Court are unanimous on this point.[38]

 

 

          In Sanidad v. Commission on Elections[39] questioned was the power of the President to propose amendments to the Constitution on the ground that it was exercised beyond the limits prescribed by the Constitution.  Holding that it was a justiciable controversy, this Court made the following disquisition:

 

 

 

                                The amending process both as to proposal and ratification, raises a judicial question. This is especially true in cases where the power of the Presidency to initiate the amending process by proposals of amendments, a function normally exercised by the legislature, is seriously doubted. Under the terms of the 1973 Constitution, the power to propose amendments to the Constitution resides in the interim National Assembly during the period of transition (Sec. 15, Transitory Provisions).  After that period, and the regular National Assembly in its active session, the power to propose amendments becomes ipso facto the prerogative of the regular National Assembly (Sec. 1, pars. 1 and 2 of Art. XVI, 1973 Constitution).  The normal course has not been followed.  Rather than calling the interim National Assembly to constitute itself into a constituent assembly, the incumbent President undertook the proposal of amendments and submitted the proposed amendments thru Presidential Decree 1033 to the people in a Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16.  Unavoidably, the regularity of the procedure for amendments, written in lambent words in the very Constitution sought to be amended, raises a contestable issue.  The implementing Presidential Decree Nos.  991, 1031, and 1033, which commonly purport to have the force and effect of legislation are assailed as invalid, thus the issue of the validity of said Decrees is plainly a justiciable one, within the competence of this Court to pass upon.  Section 2(2), Article X of the new Constitution provides:  All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, executive agreement, or law shall be heard and decided by the Supreme Court en banc, and no treaty, executive agreement, or law may be declared unconstitutional  without  the  concurrence  of at least ten Members . . .  The Supreme Court has the last word in the construction not only of treaties and statutes, but also of the Constitution itself. The amending, like all other powers organized in the Constitution, is in form a delegated and hence a limited power, so that the Supreme Court is vested with that authority to determine whether that power has been discharged within its limits.

 

                        Political questions are neatly associated with the wisdom, not the legality of a particular act.  Where the vortex  of the controversy refers to the legality or validity of the contested act, that matter is definitely justiciable or non-political.  What is in the heels of the Court is not the wisdom of the act of the incumbent President in proposing amendments to the Constitution, but his constitutional authority to perform such act or to assume the power of a constituent assembly.  Whether the amending process confers on the President that power to propose amendments is therefore a downright justiciable question.  Should the contrary be found, the actuation of the President would merely be a brutum fulmen.  If the Constitution provides how it may be amended, the judiciary as the interpreter of that Constitution, can declare whether the procedure followed or the authority assumed was valid or not. 

 

                        We cannot accept the view of the Solicitor General, in pursuing his theory of non-justiciability, that the question of the President’s authority to propose amendments and the regularity of the procedure adopted for submission of the proposals to the people ultimately lie in the judgment of the latter.  A clear Descartes fallacy of vicious circle.  Is it not that the people themselves, by their sovereign act, provided for the authority and procedure for the amending act, provided for the authority and procedure for the amending process when they ratified the present Constitution in 1973?  Whether, therefore, that constitutional provision has been followed or not is indisputably a proper subject of inquiry, not by the people themselves — of course — who exercise no power of judicial review, but by the Supreme Court in whom the people themselves vested that power, a power which includes the competence to determine whether the constitutional norms for amendments have been observed or not.  And, this inquiry must be done a priori not a posteriori, i.e., before the submission to and ratification by the people.[40]

 

The doctrine that may be drawn from the cited decisions is clear. The determination of compliance with a rule, requirement or limitation prescribed by the Constitution on the exercise of a power delegated by the Constitution itself on a body or official is invariably a justiciable controversy.

 

Contrary to what respondent Speaker Jose G. De Venecia and intervenor Senator Aquilino Pimentel have posited, the ruling in Nixon v. United States[41] is not applicable to the present petitions. There, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the constitutional challenge to the hearing of the impeachment case by a committee created by the Senate is nonjusticiable.  As  pointed  out   earlier,   the    provisions  of   the 1987

Constitution on impeachment at the House level explicitly lay out the procedure, requirements and limitations. In contrast, the provision for the Senate level, like in the U.S. Constitution, is quite sparse. So, if at all, Nixon would be persuasive only with respect to the Senate proceedings. Besides, Nixon leaves open the question of whether all challenges to impeachment are nonjusticiable.[42]

 

          The term “judicial supremacy” was previously used in relation to the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review,[43] yet the phrase wrongly connotes the bugaboo of a judiciary supreme to all other branches of the government. When the Supreme Court mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries or invalidates the acts of a coordinate body, what it is upholding is not its own supremacy, but the supremacy of the Constitution.[44]  When this supremacy is invoked, it compels the errant branches of government to obey not the Supreme Court, but the Constitution.

 

There are other requisites for justiciability of a constitutional question which we have traditionally recognized – namely: the presence of an actual case or controversy; the matter of standing, or when the question is raised by a proper party; the constitutional question must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and that the decision on the constitutional question must be necessary  to  the  determination  of  the

case itself.[45] Justice Carpio-Morales, in her scholarly opinion, has addressed these issues as applied to this case definitively.  I just would like to add a few thoughts on the questions of standing and ripeness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is argued that this Court cannot take cognizance of the petitions because petitioners do not have the standing to bring the cases before us. Indeed, the numerous petitioners have brought their cases under multifarious capacities, but not one of them is the subject of the impeachment complaint. However, there is a wealth of jurisprudence that would allow us to grant the petitioners the requisite standing in this case, and any lengthy disquisition on this matter would no longer be remarkable. But worthy of note is that the petitioners in G.R. No. 160295[46] are suing in their capacities as members of the House of Representatives. Considering that they are seeking to invalidate acts made by the House of Representatives, their standing to sue deserves a brief remark.

 

The injury that petitioners-congressmen can assert in this case is arguably more demonstrable than that of the other petitioners. Relevant in this regard is our ruling in Philippine Constitution Association v. Enriquez,[47] wherein taxpayers and Senators sought to declare unconstitutional portions of the General Appropriations Act of 1994.  We upheld the  standing of the legislators to bring suit to question the validity of any official action which they claim infringes their prerogatives as legislators, more particularly, the validity of a condition imposed on an item in an appropriation bill.  Citing American jurisprudence, we held:

 

            [T]o the extent to the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers arrive to participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution (Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 [1939]; Holtzman v. Schlesinger, 484 F. 2d 1307 [1973]).

 

            An act of the Executive which injuries the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury, which can be questioned by a member of Congress (Kennedy v. Jones, 412

 

 

F. Supp. 353 [1976]).  In such a case, any member of Congress can have a resort to the courts.[48]

 

 

There is another unique, albeit uneasy, issue on standing that should be discussed. The party who can most palpably demonstrate injury and whose rights have been most affected by the actions of the respondents is the Chief Justice of this Court. Precisely because of that consideration, we can assume that he is unable to file the petition for himself and therefore standing should be accorded the petitioners who manifest that they have filed their petitions on his behalf. In a situation wherein it would be difficult for the person whose rights are asserted to present his grievance before any court, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Barrows v. Jackson[49] that  the rules on standing are outweighed by the need

to protect these fundamental rights and standing may be granted.[50]  There is no reason why this doctrine may not be invoked in this jurisdiction.

 

Another point. Despite suggestions to the contrary, I maintain that the Senate does not have the jurisdiction to determine whether or not the House Rules of Impeachment violate the Constitution. As I earlier stated, impeachment is not an inherent legislative function, although it is traditionally conferred on the legislature. It requires the mandate of a constitutional provision before the legislature can assume impeachment functions.  The  grant of power should be explicit in the Constitution.  It

cannot be readily carved out of the shade of a presumed penumbra.[51]  In this case, there is a looming prospect that an invalid impeachment complaint emanating from an unconstitutional set of House rules would be presented to the Senate for action. The proper recourse would be to dismiss the complaint on constitutional grounds.  Yet, from the Constitutional and practical perspectives, only this Court may grant that relief.

         

The Senate cannot be expected to declare void the Articles of Impeachment, as well as the offending Rules of the House based on which the House completed the impeachment process. The Senate cannot    look   beyond   the   Articles   of   Impeachment.    Under   the Constitution, the Senate’s  mandate is solely to try and decide the impeachment  complaint.[52] While the Senate acts as an impeachment court for the purpose of trying and deciding impeachment cases, such “transformation” does not vest unto the Senate any of the powers inherent in the Judiciary, because impeachment powers are not residual with the Senate.  Whatever powers the Senate may acquire as an impeachment court are limited to what the Constitution provides, if any, and they cannot extend to judicial-like review of the acts of co-equal components of government, including those of the House.

 

          Pursuing the concept of the Senate as an impeachment court, its jurisdiction, like that of the regular courts’, has to be conferred by law and it cannot be presumed.[53]  This is the principle that binds and guides all courts of the land, and it should likewise govern the impeachment court, limited as its functions may be.  There must be an express grant of authority in the Constitution empowering the Senate to pass upon the House Rules on Impeachment. 

 

          Ought to be recognized too is the tradition of comity observed by members of Congress commonly referred to as “inter-chamber courtesy.”  It is simply the mutual deference accorded by the chambers of Congress to each other.  Thus, “the opinion of each House should be independent and not influenced by the proceedings of the other.”[54]

 

While inter-chamber courtesy is not a principle which has attained the level of a statutory command, it enjoys a high degree of obeisance among the members of the legislature, ensuring as it does the smooth flow of the legislative process.  Thus, inter-chamber courtesy was invoked by the House in urging the Senate to terminate all proceedings in relation to the jueteng controversy at the onset on the call for the impeachment of President Estrada, given the reality that the power of impeachment solely lodged in the House could be infringed by hearings then ongoing in the upper chamber.[55]  On another occasion, Senator Joker Arroyo invoked inter-chamber courtesy in refusing to compel the attendance of two congressmen as witnesses at an investigation before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.[56] 

 

          More telling would be the Senate’s disposition as a Court of Impeachment of the Motion to Quash filed by the lawyers of President Estrada during the latter’s impeachment trial.  The Motion to Quash was premised on purported defects in the impeachment complaint which originated from the House of Representatives. Had the Senate granted the Motion to Quash, it would have, by implication, ruled on whether the House of Representatives had properly exercised its prerogative in impeaching the President.  The Senate refused to grant the Motion to Quash, affirming the validity of the procedure adopted by the House of Representatives and expressing its conformity to the House Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Proceedings.[57]

 

          It is my belief that any attempt on the part of the Senate to invalidate the House Rules of Impeachment is obnoxious to inter-chamber courtesy. If the Senate were to render these House Rules unconstitutional, it would set an unfortunate precedent that might engender a wrong-headed assertion that one chamber of Congress may invalidate the rules and regulations promulgated by the other chamber.  Verily, the duty to pass upon the validity of the House Rules of Impeachment is imposed by the Constitution not upon the Senate but upon this Court. 

 

          On the question of whether it is proper for this Court to decide the petitions, it would be useless for us to pretend that the official being impeached is not a member of this Court, much less the primus inter pares. Simplistic notions of rectitude will cause a furor over the decision of this Court, even if it is the right decision. Yet we must decide this case because the Constitution dictates that we do so. The most fatal charge that can be levied against this Court is that it did not obey the Constitution. The Supreme Court cannot afford, as it did in the Javellana case, to abdicate its duty and refuse to address a constitutional violation of a co-equal branch of government just because it feared the political repercussions.

 

          And it is comforting that this Court need not rest merely on rhetoric in deciding that it is proper for it to decide the petitions, despite the fact that the fate of the Chief Justice rests in the balance. Jurisprudence is replete with instances when this Court was called upon to exercise judicial duty, notwithstanding the fact that the application of the same could benefit one or all members of the Court.

 

In Perfecto vs. Meer,[58] the Court passed upon the claim for a tax refund posed by Justice Gregorio Perfecto.  It was noted therein that:

 

                       . . . [a]s the outcome indirectly affects all the members of the Court, consideration of the matter is not without its vexing feature.  Yet adjudication may not be declined, because (a) we are not legally disqualified; (b) jurisdiction may not be renounced, as it is the defendant who appeals to this Court, and there is no other tribunal to which the controversy may be referred; (c) supreme courts in the United States have decided similar disputes relating to themselves; (d) the question touches all the members of the judiciary from top to bottom; and (e) the issue involves the right of other constitutional officers whose compensation is equally protected by the Constitution, for instance, the President, the Auditor-General and the members of the Commission on Elections.  Anyway the subject has been thoroughly discussed in many American lawsuits and opinions, and we shall hardly do nothing more than to borrow therefrom and to compare their conclusions to local conditions. There shall be little occasion to formulate new propositions, for the situation is not unprecedented.[59]

 

 

                Again, in Endencia v. David,[60] the Court was called upon to resolve a claim for an income tax refund made by a justice of this Court. This time, the Court had the duty to rule upon the constitutionality of a law that subjected the income of Supreme Court Justices to taxation. The Court did not hesitate to tackle the matter. It held:

 

 

        Under our system of constitutional government, the Legislative department is assigned the power to make and enact laws. The Executive department is charged with the execution or carrying out of the provisions of said laws. But the interpretation and application of said laws belong exclusively to the Judicial department.  And this authority to interpret and apply the laws extends to the Constitution.  Before the courts can determine whether a law is constitutional or not, it will have to interpret and ascertain the meaning not only of said law, but also of the pertinent portion of the Constitution in order to decide whether there is a conflict between the two, because if there is, then the law will have to give way and has to be declared invalid and unconstitutional.[61]

 

               

In Radiowealth Inc. v. Agregado,[62] this Court was constrained to rule on the authority of the Property Requisition Committee appointed by the President to pass upon the Court's requisitions for supplies.  There, this Court was compelled to assert its own financial independence.

 

        . . . the prerogatives of this Court which the Constitution secures against interference includes not only the powers to adjudicate causes but all things that are reasonably necessary for administration of justice. It is within its power, free from encroachment by the executive, to acquire books and other office equipment reasonably needed to the convenient transaction of its business.  These implied, inherent, or incidental powers are as essential to the existence of the court as the powers specifically granted.  Without the power to provide itself with appropriate instruments for the performance of its duties, the express powers with which the Constitution endows it would become useless.  The court could not maintain its independence and dignity as the Constitution intends if the executive personally or through subordinate officials could determine for the court what it should have or use in the discharge of its functions, and when and how it should obtain them.[63]

 

               

Thus, in the cited cases the Court deviated from its self-imposed policy of prudence and restraint, expressed in pronouncements of its distaste of cases which apparently cater to the ostensibly self-serving concerns of the Court or its individual members, and proceeded to resolve issues involving the interpretation of the Constitution and the independence of the judiciary.  We can do no less in the present petitions.  As was declared in Sanidad,[64] this Court in view of the paramount interests at stake and the need for immediate resolution of the controversy has to act a priori, not a posteriori, as it does now.

 

Having established the jurisdiction of this Court to decide the petitions, the justiciability of the issues raised, and the propriety of Court action on the petition, I proceed now to discuss the constitutionality of the House Rules on Impeachment.

 

          It is suggested that the term “initiate” in Sections 3 (1) and 3 (5), Article XI is used in the same sense, that is, the filing of the Articles of Impeachment by the House of Representatives to the Senate: 

 

SEC. 3. (1) The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.

 

. . . .

 

(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.  [Emphasis supplied.]

 

A review of the history of Section 3 (1) shows that this is not so.

 

          The Constitution of the United States, after which the 1935 and subsequent Constitutions, as well as our system of government, were patterned, simply states:

 

5.  The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.  [Sec. 3, Art. I.]

 

 

 

Note that the phrase “power to initiate all cases of impeachment” does not appear in the above provision.  Rather, it uses the shorter clause “power of impeachment.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “impeach” as, “to bring an accusation (as of wrongdoing or impropriety) against” or to “charge with a crime or misdemeanor.”  Specifically, it means, to “charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal with misbehavior in office” or to “arraign or cite for official misconduct.”  “Initiate,” on the other hand, is defined primarily as, “to begin or set going,” or to “make a beginning of,” or to “perform or facilitate the first actions, steps, or stages of.”

          Contrast this with the merely slight difference between Section 3 (6), Article XI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (“The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.”) and Section 3.6, Article I of the U.S. Constitution (“The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.”), the former adding only the word “decide.”

 

          The original 1935 Constitution contemplated a unicameral legislature called National Assembly but, nevertheless, employed a two-tiered  impeachment   process.  The  “sole  power  of impeachment” was

reposed on the Commission on Impeachment of the National Assembly, composed of twenty-one members of the Assembly,[65] and the “sole power to try all impeachments,” on the National Assembly as a body, less those who belong to the Commission on Impeachment.  The pertinent provisions of Article IX (Impeachment) of the original 1935 Constitution read:

 

                    SEC. 2.  The Commission on Impeachment of the National Assembly, by a vote of two-thirds of its Members, shall have the sole power of impeachment.

 

                        SEC. 3.  The National Assembly shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.  When sitting for that purpose the Members shall be on oath or affirmation.  When the President of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside.  No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of three-fourths of all the Members who do not belong to the Commission on Impeachment.

 

 

          The 1935 Constitution was amended in 1940.  The 1940 amendment transformed the legislature from a unicameral to a bicameral body composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives.  Like the U.S. Constitution, the 1935 Constitution, as amended, lodged the “power of impeachment” in the House of Representatives.  This was a simple but complete grant of power.  Just as simple and complete was the power to “try and decide” which rested in the Senate.

         

          If the impeachment process is juxtaposed against a criminal case setting, the structural change made the House the investigator and the proceeding before it akin to a preliminary investigation, while the Senate was transformed into a court and the proceedings before it a trial.  This is the same structure under the 1987 Constitution.

 

          Under the 1973 Constitution, the country reverted to a unicameral legislature; hence, the need to spell out the specific phases of impeachment, i.e., “to initiate, try and decide,” all of which were vested in the Batasang Pambansa.  This was the first time that the term “initiate” appeared in constitutional provisions governing impeachment.  Section 3, Article XIII thereof states:

 

 

                   The Batasang Pambansa shall have the exclusive power to initiate, try, and decide all cases of impeachment.  Upon the filing of a verified complaint, the Batasang Pambansa may initiate impeachment by a vote of at least one-fifth of all its Members.  No official shall be convicted without the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the Members thereof.  When the Batasang Pambansa sits in impeachment cases, its Members shall be on oath or affirmation.

 

Unfortunately, it seems that the 1987 Constitution has retained the same term, “initiate,” used in the 1973 Constitution.   The use of the term is improper and unnecessary.  It is the source of the present confusion.  Nevertheless, the intent is clear to vest the power to “impeach” in the House of Representatives.  This is a much broader power that necessarily and inherently includes not only the power to “initiate” impeachment cases before the Senate, but to investigate complaints filed by any Member or any citizen, endorsed by any Member, against an impeachable official.   The term “initiate” in Section 3 (1), Article XI should, therefore, be read as “impeach” and the manner in which it is used therein should be distinguished from its usage in Section 3 (5) of the same Article.

 

          This conclusion is supported by the object to which the term relates in the different paragraphs of the same Section 3.  Thus, Section 3 (1) speaks of initiating “cases of impeachment” while Section 3 (5) pertains to the initiation of “impeachment proceedings.”  “Cases,” no doubt, refers to those filed before the Senate.  Its use and its sense are consistent throughout Section 3.  Thus, Section 3(6) states, “The Senate shall have the sole power to decide all cases [not “proceedings”] of impeachment.” Section 3(7) provides, “Judgment in cases [not “proceedings”] of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office and disqualification to hold any office….”

 

          It may be argued, albeit unsuccessfully, that Sections 16 and 17, Rule V of the House of Representatives Rules on Impeachment constitute its interpretation of the Constitution and is, therefore, entitled to great weight.  A comparison of these Rules,  which,  incidentally  were promulgated only recently by the Twelfth Congress, with the previous Rules adopted by the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Congress demonstrates how little regard should be given to this most recent “interpretation.”  The old Rules simply reproduced Section 3 (5), Article XI of the Constitution, which is to say, that they employed a literal interpretation of the same provision, thus:

 

RULE V

 

          SEC. 14.  Scope of Bar. — No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within the period of one year.

 

The interpretation of the Twelfth Congress, however, is such a radical departure from previous interpretations that it cannot be accorded the same great weight normally due it.  Depending on the mode of the filing of the complaint, the impeachment proceedings are “deemed” initiated only:

 

(1) on the day the Committee on Justice finds that the verified complaint and/or resolution against such official, as the case may be is sufficient in substance; or

 

(2) on the date the House votes to overturn or affirm the finding of said Committee that the verified complaint and/or resolution, as the case may be, is not sufficient in substance; or

 

(3) at the time of the filing of such verified complaint or resolution of impeachment with the Secretary General.

 

 

It is true that each Congress is not bound by the interpretation of the previous Congress, that it has the power to disregard the Rules of its predecessor and to adopt its own Rules to conform to what it may deem

as the proper interpretation of the Constitution.  Thus, in Osmeña v. Pendatun,[66] the Court held that “the rules adopted by deliberative bodies are subject to revocation[,] modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them.”  The Court concedes the congressional power to interpret the Constitution in the promulgation of its Rules, but certainly not, as stated earlier, the congressional interpretation, which, in this case, is so dreadfully contrary, not only to the language of the provision, but also to the intent of the framers of the Constitution and to the provision’s very philosophy.

 

          Many of the petitions refer to the Records of the Constitutional Commission, stressing statements of Commissioner Regalado Maambong that “the initiation starts from the filing of the complaint,” and that it “is not the [House] body which initiates [the complaint].”  The Court, having heard from Commissioner Maambong himself, acting as amicus curiae, is persuaded by the argument and the point need not be belabored.  Plainly, the mere filing of the complaint (or a resolution of impeachment) under Section 3(2) (or Section 3[4]) precludes the initiation of another impeachment proceeding against the same official within one year.

 

          The rationale behind the so-called time-bar rule cannot be overemphasized, however.  The obvious philosophy of the bar is two-fold.  The first is to prevent the harassment of the impeachable official, who shall be constrained to defend himself in such proceedings and, as a consequence, is detracted from his official functions.   The second is to prevent Congress from being overwhelmed by its non-legislative chores to the detriment of its legislative duties.[67]

 

          The impugned House Rules on Impeachment defeats the very purpose of the time-bar rule because they allow the filing of an infinite number of complaints against a single impeachable official within a given year.  Not until:

 

(1) . . . the day the Committee on Justice finds that the verified complaint and/or resolution against such official, as the case may be, is sufficient in substance; or

 

(2) . . . the date the House votes to overturn or affirm the finding of said Committee that the verified complaint and/or resolution, as the case may be, is not sufficient in substance; or

 

(3) . . . the time of the filing of such verified complaint or resolution of impeachment with the Secretary General.

 

 

are the impeachment proceedings deemed initiated.   Until then, the right of the impeachable official against harassment does not attach and is exposed to harassment by subsequent complaints.  Until then, the House would be swamped with the task of resolving these complaints.  Clearly, the Rules do not “effectively carry out the purpose of” Section 3, Article XI and, in fact, quite creatively killed not only the language but the spirit behind the constitutional proscription.   Clearly, Sections 16 and 17, Rule V of the House Rules on Impeachment contravene Section 3(5), Article XI of the Constitution.   They must be struck down.  Consequently, the second impeachment complaint is barred pursuant to Section 3(4), Article XI of the Constitution.

 

          It is noteworthy that the above conclusion has been reached simply by taking into account the ordinary meaning of the words used in the constitutional provisions in point, as well as their rationale.  Resort to the rule that the impeachment provisions should be given a narrow interpretation in relation to the goal of an independent judiciary need not be made even.[68]

 

          Nevertheless, this does not mean that the second impeachment complaint is forever barred; only that it should be dismissed without prejudice to its re-filing after one year from the filing of the first impeachment complaint.   Indeed, this Court cannot deprive the House of the exclusive power of impeachment lodged in the House by the Constitution.

 

          In taking cognizance of this case, the Court does not do so out of empathy or loyalty for one of our Brethren.  Nor does it do so out of enmity or loathing toward the Members of a co-equal branch, whom I still call and regard as my Brethren.  The Court, in assuming jurisdiction over this case, to repeat, does so only out of duty, a duty reposed no less by the fundamental law.

         

Fears that the Court’s conclusion today would yield a constitutional crisis, that the present controversy would shake the judicial institution to its very foundations, I am confident, would not come to pass.  Through one seemingly endless martial rule, two bloodless uprisings, three Constitutions and countless mini-revolts, no constitutional crisis erupted; the foundations of the Court did not shake.  This is not because, in the clashes between the great, perhaps greater, Branches of Government, the Court is “Supreme” for it holds neither sword nor purse, and wields only a pen.  Had the other Branches failed to do the Court’s bidding, the Court would have been powerless to enforce it.  The Court stands firm only because its foundations are grounded on law and logic and its moorings on justice and equity.  It is a testament to the Filipino’s respect for the rule of law that in the face of these “clashes,” this Court’s pronouncements have been heeded, however grudgingly at times.  Should there be more “interesting” times ahead for the Filipino, I pray that they prove to be more of a blessing than a curse.

 

          ACCORDINGLY, concurring in the comprehensive and well-reasoned opinion of Justice Carpio-Morales, I vote to GRANT the petitions insofar as they seek the declaration of the unconstitutionality of the challenged provisions of the House Rules on Impeachment and the pronouncement that the second impeachment complaint is time-barred on the basis of Section 3(5), Article XI of the Constitution.

 

 

 

                                                                   DANTE O. TINGA

                                                                         Associate Justice

 



 

[1]See Aquino, Jr.  v. Enrile, G.R. No. L-35546, September 17, 1974, 59 SCRA 183; Aquino, Jr. v. Comelec, G.R. No. L-4004, 31 January 1975, 62 SCRA 275; Aquino, Jr. v. Military Commission No. 2, G.R. No. 37364, May 9, 1975, 63 SCRA, 546 (1975).

 

[2]See Javellana v. Executive Secretary, 151-A Phil. 35 (1973);  Occeña v. Comelec, 191 Phil. 371 (1981); Mitra, Jr. v. Comelec,  191 Phil. 412 (1981).

 

[3]See Marcos v. Manglapus, G.R. No. 88211, September 15, 1989, 177 SCRA 668.

 

[4]See Palma, Sr. v. Fortich, G.R. No. L-59679, January 29, 1987, 147 SCRA 397.

 

[5]See De Leon v. Esguerra, G.R. No. L-78059, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 602.

 

[6]See Enrile v. Salazar, G.R. No. 92163, June 5, 1990, 186 SCRA 217.

 

[7]See Estrada v. Desierto, G.R. Nos.  146710-15, March 2, 2001, 353 SCRA 452.

 

[8]See Note 7.

 

[9]The other four are Justices Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban and Quisumbing.  Also included in the complaint are Justices Carpio and Corona.

 

[10]Justices Carpio and Corona.

 

[11]Article XI, Section 3 (1), 1987 Constitution.

 

[12]Article XI, Section 3 (6), 1987 Constitution.

 

[13]Article IX, Section 2, 1935 Constitution, as amended.

 

[14]Article IX, Section 3, 1935 Constitution, as amended.

 

[15]The United States Constitution contains just two provisions pertaining to the power of the Congress to impeach and to try impeachment.  “The House of Representatives . . . shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” (Article I, Section  2, par. 5, US Constitution);  “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.  When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation.  When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.” (Article I, Section 3, par. 6).  The class of officers subject to impeachment and the grounds for removal from office by impeachment are prescribed in Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution.  “The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

 

[16]Sec. 3, Art. XII, 1973 Constitution. “The Batasang Pambansa shall have the exclusive power to initiate, try, and decide all cases of impeachment.  Upon the filing of a verified complaint, the Batasang Pambansa may initiate impeachment by a vote of at least one-fifth of all its Members. No official shall be convicted without the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the Members thereof. When the Batasang Pambansa sits in impeachment cases, its Members shall be on oath or affirmation.” 

 

[17]See Sec. 3 (1), Article XI, 1987 Constitution.

 

 

 

[18]See Sec. 3 (2), Article XI, 1987 Constitution.

 

[19]See Sec. 3 (2), Article XI, 1987 Constitution.

 

[20]See Sec. 3 (5), Article XI, 1987 Constitution.

 

[21]See Romulo v. Yñiguez, 225 Phil. 221 (1986).

 

 

[22]Daza v. Singson, G.R. No. 86344, December 21, 1989, 180 SCRA 496.

 

[23]Bondoc v. Pineda, G.R. No. 97710, September 26, 1991, 201 SCRA 792, 795-796.

 

[24]Arroyo v. De Venecia, August 14, 1997, 277 SCRA 311.

 

[25]63 Phil. 139 (1936).

 

[26]Arroyo v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 316 Phil. 464 at 508-510 (1995), J. Puno, concurring.

 

[27]“A controversy in which a present and fixed claim of right is asserted against one who has an interest in contesting it;  rights must be declared upon existing state of facts and not upon state of facts that may or may not arise in future.” See Black’s Law Dictionary, 865.

 

 

[28]Daza v. Singson, supra note 33. See also Tañada v. Cuenco, 100 Phil. 101 (1975). “A question is political, and not judicial, is that it is a matter which is to be exercised by the people in their primary political capacity, or that it has been specifically delegated to some other department or particular officer of the government, with discretionary power to act.”

 

[29]IBP v. Zamora, G.R. No. 141284, August 15, 2003, 338 SCRA 81.

 

[30]346 Phil. 321 (1997).

 

[31]Ibid at 358.

 

[32]While Congress is granted the authority to promulgate its rules on impeachment, such rules must effectively carry out the purpose of Section 3 of Article XI. See Section 3 (8), Article XI, 1987 Constitution.

 

[33]A political question refers to a question of policy or to issues which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government. Generally, political questions are concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not the legality, of a particular measure.  Tañada v. Cuenco, 100 Phil. 101 [ 1957], as cited in Tatad v. Secretary of Finance, 346 Phil. 321.

 

[34]Resolution dated September 3, 1985, p. 2, G.R. No. 71688 (De Castro, et al v. Committee on Justice, et al.)

 

[35]103 Phil. 1051 (1957).

 

[36]Id. at 1088.

 

[37]129 Phil. 7 (1967).

 

[38]Id at 22-23.

 

[39]G.R. No. L-44640, October 12, 1976, 73 SCRA 333.

 

[40]Id. at 359-361.

 

[41]506 U.S. 224 (1993).

 

[42]Chemirinsky, Constitutional Law Principles and Policies, 2nd Ed. (2002); Aspen Law and Business, New York, U.S.A.

 

[43]Supra, note 33.

 

[44]Garcia v. Corona, 378 Phil. 848, 885. J. Quisumbing, concurring (1999).

 

[45]See, e.g., Mirasol v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.  128448, February 1, 2001, 351 SCRA 44, 53-54;  Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, G.R. No.  141284, August 15, 2000, 338 SCRA 81, 99; Sec. Guingona, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 354 Phil. 415, 425 (1998); Board of Optometry v. Hon. Colet, 328 Phil. 1187, 1205 (1996); Joya v. PCGG, G.R. No.  96541, August 24, 1993, 255 SCRA 568, 575; Santos III v. Northwest Orient Airlines, G.R. No.  101538, June 23, 1992, 210 SCRA 256; Garcia v. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 100883, December 2, 1991, 204 SCRA 516, 522; Luz Farms v. Secretary of DAR, G.R. No.  86889, December 4, 1990, 192 SCRA 51, 58; National Economic Protectionism Association v. Ongpin, G.R. No. 67752, April 10, 1989, 171 SCRA 657, 663-664.

 

[46]Deputy Speaker Raul Gonzales and Congressman Salacnib Baterina.

 

[47]G.R. No. 113105, August 19, 1994, 235 SCRA 506.

 

[48]Id. at 520.

 

[49]346 U.S. 249 (1953).

 

[50]This case and rationale  was cited by amicus curiae Dean Raul C. Pangalangan during the hearing on these petitions to support his belief that the petitioners had standing to bring suit in this case.

 

[51]In reference to the famed pronouncement of Justice Holmes that the great ordinances of the Constitution do not establish and divide fields of black and white" but also because "even the more specific of them are found to terminate in a penumbra shading gradually from one extreme to the other."  Springer v. Government, 277 U. S., 189 (1928).  Since the power of the legislature to impeach and try impeachment cases is not inherent, the Holmesian dictum will find no application in this case, because such authority is of limited constitutional grant, and cannot be presumed to expand beyond what is laid down in the Constitution.

 

[52]Section 3 (6), Article XI.

 

[53]Abbot v. Mapayo, G.R. No. 134102, 6 July 2000, 335 SCRA 265, 270.

 

[54]Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure by Paul Mason, 1953 Edition p. 113 citing Jefferson, Sec. XXXV; Reed, Sec. 224; Cushing’s Legislative Assemblies, Sec. 739. Op. Cit. 536-537 citing Jefferson, Sec. XVII, Hughes, Sec. 694.

 

[55]“Impeachment Trial or Resignation? Where do we stand? What must we do?” (An updated Position Paper of Kilosbayan, Bantay Katarungan and Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundations). http://www.mydestiny.net/~livewire/kilosbayan/paper6.htm.

 

[56]“GMA Won’t Lift A Finger To Bail Out Nani.” See http://www.newsflash.org/2002/11/pe/pe002423.htm.

 

 

[57]Resolution of the Senate dated November 29, 2000.

 

[58]85 Phil.  552 (1950).

 

[59]Id. at 553.

 

[60]93 Phil 696 (1953).

 

[61]Id. at 700.

 

[62]86 Phil. 429 (1950).

 

[63]Id. at 437-438.

 

[64]Supra note 38.

 

[65]See Sec. 7, Art. VI thereof.

 

[66]109 Phil. 863 (1960).

 

[67]II Record of the Constitutional Commission 272.

 

[68]Abraham, The Pillars and Politics of Judicial Independence in the United States, Judicial Independence in the Age of Democracy, edited by Peter H. Rusell  and David M. O’Brien, p. 28; Published, 2000, The University Press of Virginia.