Unformatted text preview: 10/15/2016 [ G.R. No. 163556, June 08, 2004 ] EN BANC
[ G.R. No. 163556, June 08, 2004 ]
CONG. RUY ELIAS C. LOPEZ V. SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
[REPRESENTED BY FRANKLIN DRILON, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE],
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, ET AL.
Gentlemen: Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated June 8,
2004 G.R. No. 163556 CONG. RUY ELIAS C. LOPEZ v. SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
[represented by Franklin Drilon, President of the Senate], HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, et al. RESOLUTION
Before the Court is a Petition for prohibition and mandamus seeking to nullify Section 13,
Rule VIII of the Rules of the Joint Public Session of Congress, dated May 28, 2004, creating
a Joint Committee which shall preliminarily canvass the votes of the candidates for
President and VicePresident during the May 10, 2004 elections.
At the outset, the Court stresses that it has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this
controversy, because the herein Petition contains sufficient allegations claiming violations
of the Constitution. Basic is the rule that jurisdiction is determined by the allegations of the
initiatory pleading, like the complaint or petition.
However, after careful deliberation on the merits of the Petition and the Comments filed by
Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, Speaker Jose C. De Venecia and the Office of the
Solicitor General, the Court RESOLVES to DISMISS the Petition on the ground that it
failed to show that Congress gravely abused its discretion in creating such Joint
Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution expressly empowers Congress "to promulgate its
rules for the canvassing of the certificates." In Arroyo v. De Venecia (277 SCRA 268,
August 14, 1997), the Court ruled that it had no power to review the internal proceedings
of Congress, unless there is a clear violation of the Constitution. Likewise, Santiago v.
Guingona, (298 SCRA 756, November 18, 1998) held that the Court under the doctrine of
separation of powers has "no authority to interfere" in the "exclusive realm" of a co
equal branch, absent a showing of grave abuse of discretion. The Court has no authority to
restrict or limit the exercise of congressional prerogatives granted by the Constitution.
The creation of the Joint Committee does not constitute grave abuse and cannot be said to
have deprived petitioner and the other members of Congress of their congressional
prerogatives, because under the very Rules under attack, the decisions and final report of
… 1/65 10/15/2016 [ G.R. No. 163556, June 08, 2004 ] the said Committee shall be subject to the approval of the joint session of both Houses of
Congress, voting separately (See Sections 19, 23, 24 and 27 of the Rules).
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DISMISSED. No costs.
(As aboveworded, the foregoing Resolution was approved unanimously, 14 to 0, by the
Court. In addition, individual opinions, copies of which are attached hereto, were written by
Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.; Justice Reynato S. Puno, joined by Justices Angelina
SandovalGutierrez, Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. who concurs in a Separate Opinion, and
Adolfo S. Azcuna; Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing; Justice Conchita Carpio Morales;
Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. and Justice Dante O. Tinga.)
Very truly yours,
(Sgd). LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO
Clerk of Court
SEPARATE OPINIONS FOLLOW. [ G.R. No. 163556. June 8, 2004 ] CONGRESSMAN RUY ELIAS C. LOPEZ VS. SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
(REPRESENTED HEREIN BY THE HON. FRANKLIN DRILON, PRESIDENT OF THE
SENATE), HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (REPRESENTED HEREIN BY THE HON. JOSE
DE VENECIA, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES), JOINT COMMITTEE
OF CONGRESS TO CANVASS THE VOTES CAST FOR PRESIDENTIAL AND VICE
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IN THE MAY 10, 2004 NATIONAL ELECTIONS, THE
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER AND CHIEF BUDGET OFFICER OF THE SENATE, AND THE
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER AND CHIEF BUDGET OFFICER OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES SEPARATE OPINION DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: In his petition for prohibition and mandamus filed on 2 June 2004, Ruy Elias C. Lopez,
Representative representing the 3rd Legislative District of the City of Davao, asks this
Court to declare unconstitutional the Rules of the Joint Public Session of Congress on
Canvassing the Votes Cast for Presidential and VicePresidential Candidates in the May 10,
2004 Elections (hereafter, Canvassing Rules), which the Senate and the House of
Representatives, in joint session, approved, after much debate, on 28 May 2004. … 2/65 10/15/2016 [ G.R. No. 163556, June 08, 2004 ] Petitioner alleges that the Canvassing Rules was adopted by both Houses of Congress with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and that he had no
other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy other than this petition. He requests the Court
to issue a temporary restraining order directing Respondents to cease and desist from
implementing, executing, and/or enforcing the Canvassing Rules.
In the resolution of 4 June 2004, the Court, by a unanimous vote, denied the application for
a temporary restraining order, and by a vote of 94 required Respondents and the Solicitor
General to comment on the petition by 12 noon on Monday, 7 June 2004. The Senate, the
House of Representatives and the Office of the Solicitor General seasonably filed their
The prefatory statement of petitioner summarizes the main arguments found throughout
his petition: Under our constitutional system, the powers of government are distributed
among three (3) independent branches of government. The very important and
delicate power and authority to open all certificates of canvass of votes for
Presidential and VicePresidential and VicePresidential Candidates are solely
and exclusively vested by the Constitution in the President of the Senate, just
as the very important and delicate power and authority to determine the
authenticity and due executions (sic) of all certificates of canvass and to
canvass the votes cast for Presidential and VicePresidential Candidates are
solely and exclusively vested by the Constitution in the Congress as one whole
body." Any attempt to delegate these powers or a portion thereof to any other
person or entity — whether within or without the Congress — is unconstitutional
on the principle that potestas delegata non potest delegari.
Petitioner thus contends that the Canvassing Rules are unconstitutional because: 1) It
constitutes a delegation of legislative power to a Joint Committee of Congress; 2) It
constitutes an amendment of Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution; 3) It deprives him
of his rights and prerogatives as a Member of Congress; and 4) By the passage of the
Canvassing Rules, Congress has neglected to perform an act which the Constitution
specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from office.
The arguments of respondents, the Solicitor General, the Senate, and the House of
Representatives, are similar in that they agree that the adoption of the Canvassing Rules
are internal matters of Congress which is beyond this Court's scope of judicial inquiry. They
are likewise unanimous in their argument that there has been no invalid delegation to the
Joint Committee of the Constitutional duties of Congress.
This Court's jurisdiction over the issue raised in this case is founded on Section l of Article
VIII of the Constitution which provides that judicial power includes the duty "to determine
whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government". This duty does
not do away with the "political question" doctrine. It only clarifies it by limiting it to its
definition laid down in Tañada v. Cuenco. That case defines political questions as those
"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." The clarification became necessary because prior to
… 3/65 10/15/2016 [ G.R. No. 163556, June 08, 2004 ] the 1987 Constitution, as long as an act or measure was invoked as involving a political
question, the courts affirmed such invocation rather than risk the separation of powers.
The result, then, was that the legality of an act or measure was likewise left to the political
branch in question.
Thus, now plainly stated in the 1987 Constitution, the mere invocation of a political
question does not warrant an immediate or summary dismissal of a case. It falls, as it
always has, within judicial power to determine for itself whether the legality and the limits
of the exercise of a power have been observed and respected.
The contested provisions of the Canvassing Rules pertain to the functions of the Joint
Committee, as follows: SEC. 13. A Joint Committee shall be created composed of eleven (11) members
from the Senate to be appointed by the President of the Senate and eleven (11)
members from the House of Representatives to be appointed by the Speaker.
The Members of Each House panel shall elect from among themselves their
respective Chairman in the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee may sit en
banc or, in its discretion, in two division of eleven (11) members each composed
of a chairman, five (5) members from the Senate and five (5) members from the
House of Representatives: Provided, That a member of Congress who is a
candidate for President or VicePresident shall not be eligible for appointment to
the Joint Committee. Each division shall be chaired by a Chairman of the Joint
Committee. The Joint Committee shall, upon determination of the authenticity and due
execution of the certificates of canvass, preliminarily canvass the votes of
candidates for the offices of the President and VicePresident. The Representatives of the province or city whose certificate of canvass is being
canvassed shall be an ex officio member of the Joint Committee, without voting
rights, for the duration of the canvassing of the aforesaid certificate of canvass.
It is petitioner's position that the formation of a Joint Committee, which determines the
authenticity and due execution of the certificate of canvass of the Presidential and Vice
Presidential candidates and thereafter canvasses the votes, is a transfer or surrender to an
entity of a duty imposed by the Constitution exclusively upon Congress as a whole body —
that is, "in joint public session assembled. Accordingly, petitioner claims that such
transfer violates the principle that a delegated power cannot again be delegated,
potestas delegata non delegari potest.
The source of the duty of Congress to act as the National Board of Canvassers for the
office of the President and VicePresident is in paragraph 4, Section 4, Article VII of the
Constitution, which provides: The returns of every election for President and VicePresident, duly certified by
the board of canvassers of each province or city, shall be transmitted to the
Congress, directed to the President of the Senate. Upon receipt of the
certificates of canvass, the President of the Senate shall, not later than thirty
days after the day of the election, open all certificates in the presence of the
… 4/65 10/15/2016 [ G.R. No. 163556, June 08, 2004 ] Senate and the House of Representatives in joint public session, and the
Congress, upon determination of the authenticity and due execution thereof in
the manner provided by law, canvass the votes.
It is true that where the Constitution has vested powers in a branch of government there
can be no further delegation of such authority by that branch to any other body. Originating
from the law on agency, the principle has evolved in Constitutional law as a natural
corollary to the separation of governmental powers. Thus, the foundation of the principle
of potestas delegata non delegari potest in Constitutional law lies in the sovereignty that
resides in the people from which all governmental authority emanates. It is invoked as a
prohibition against the three major branches of government — the executive, legislative, or
the judiciary — from transferring the powers and duties conferred by the people upon it to
another branch; neither does it allow any branch to invest in itself or its members the
powers and duties belonging to another.
Moreover, there is no distinction as to what kind of power is delegated by the Constitution.
Although the three branches of government each have its general functions in accordance
with the principle of separation of powers, the system of checks and balances imposes
upon each branch or its members — powers outside of its usual functions. Thus, even
when the legislature is performing a nonlegislative act as a National Board of Canvassers,
its inability to delegate such function to another branch of government remains intact.
In this context, the principle does not apply in this case insofar as no other branch of
government has been tasked with the duties of Congress as a National Board of
As to whether there has been an invalid delegation of power "within" Congress, such
argument, and the basis of petitioner's discussion, is an imprudent one. From a cursory
reading of the Canvassing Rules, it can readily be seen that there has been no delegation
or abdication of any Constitutional authority, even within Congress itself. Key provisions
throughout the Canvassing Rules reveal the nature of the Joint Committee and its relation
to the duties of Congress, whether referring to the determination of the authenticity and
due execution of the certificates of canvass or the canvassing of the votes itself. Some of
these provisions, however, are conveniently omitted by petitioner in his arguments. For
one, Section 19 thereof provides: Sec. 19. The Joint Committee, whether en banc or in divisions, shall decide any
question involving the Certificate of Canvass by a majority vote of its Members,
each House panel voting separately. Any such decision shall be subject to
approval by the joint session, the Senate and House of Representatives voting
separately. In case the two Houses disagree, the decision of the President of the
Senate, in consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall
prevail." [Emphasis supplied]
As to the canvassing of votes, paragraph 2, of Sec. 13 provides that "[t]he Joint
Committee shall, upon determination of the authenticity and due execution of the
certificates of canvass, preliminarily canvass the votes of candidates for the offices of
President and VicePresident." And again, in Sec. 23, the final report of the Joint … 5/65 10/15/2016 [ G.R. No. 163556, June 08, 2004 ] Committee "shall be submitted by the Joint Committee en banc to the joint public session
for its approval, each House voting separately.”
Further, in Section 27, we find that: Upon termination of the canvass and approval of the Joint Committee report and
the accompanying resolution by majority of all the Members of both Houses
voting separately in the joint public session, Congress through the President of
the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall forthwith
proclaim the Presidentelect and the "VicePresidentelect. [Emphasis supplied]
Since the Canvassing Rules subjects the acts of the Joint Committee to the affirmation of
Congress, the Committee's report is preliminary and recommendatory in nature.
The Canvassing Rules leaves to both Houses of Congress, as an entire body, the final act of
determining the authenticity in the manner provided by law, and due execution of the
certificates of canvass, and the proclamation of the Presidentelect and VicePresident
Anent to his argument that the Canvassing Rules is an unlawful delegation of power,
petitioner claims that the creation of the Joint Committee deprives him of his rights and
prerogatives as a member of Congress to be present during the canvassing of genuine
certificates of canvass, and to participate in its deliberations. He argues that by excluding
him from the proceedings, the Canvassing Rules likewise deprives his constituents the
sovereign people of representation and a voice in the affairs of government.
Unfortunately, petitioner once again relies on his misreading of the Canvassing Rules. The
fact that the findings of the Joint Committee are subject to a final act of Congress, then, by
casting his vote and declaring his approval or disapproval of the final report, petitioner
exercises his prerogatives as a Member of Congress. By claiming a sovereign duty to be
present in all stages of the proceedings, petitioner confuses his rights as a Member of the
Congress with the powers given to Congress itself.
Under the Constitution, it is Congress that, in accordance with the law and its rules,
canvasses the certificates of canvass certified by the Boards of Canvassers of provinces
and cities after determining their authenticity and due execution in the manner provided by
law. Being a member of Congress, his participation is likewise determined by the internal
rules of congressional proceedings, and, in general, is determined by his vote. The quality
of his participation is determined by such means as Congress deems fit to ensure the use
of discretion when his vote is cast.
As for the Canvassing Rules itself, petitioner's third argument is that Congress amends the
Constitution by investing itself with powers beyond what was granted therein. He cites the
three constitutional functions of Congress as a National Board of Canvassers: l) the
opening by the President of the Senate of all the certificates of canvass in the presence of
the Senate and House of Representatives in joint public session; 2) the determination of
the authenticity and due execution of the certificates of canvass; and 3) the canvassing of
votes based on said certificates. It is his observation that with the enumeration of these
three duties, the Constitutional mandate is specific, thereby foreclosing the need for
implementing or procedural rules. The argument is bereft of merit.
… 6/65 10/15/2016 [ G.R. No. 163556, June 08, 2004 ] The authority of Congress to adopt its own rules of procedure under par. (3), Sec. 16, Art.
VI is a right that has been recognized to apply regardless of whether Congress is
exercising its legislative power or its other duties, such as in this case when it acts as the
National Board of Canvassers.
Here, apart from the general authority of Congress to promulgate its internal rules, the
Constitution itself specifically leaves it to Congress to determine the conditions and
procedures of fulfilling its duty as a National Board of Canvassers. The sixth paragraph of
Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution, plainly and clearly states: "The Congress shall
promulgate its rules for the canvassing of certificates."
The reason for the insertion of this provision, and its relation to the determination of the
authenticity and due execution of the certificates of canvass, was likewise explained during
the deliberations of the 1987 Constitutional Commission: MR. DAVIDE. On page 2, between lines 22 and 23, I propose to insert a new
paragraph to read as follows: CONGRESS SHALL PROMULGATE ITS RULES FOR
THE CANVASSING OF THE CERTIFICATES. MR. SUMULONG. Will Commissioner Davide repeat the proposed amendment? MR. DAVIDE. CONGRESS SHALL PROMULGATE ITS RULES FOR THE CANVASS OF
THE CERTIFICATES. THE PRESIDENT. Is this accepted by the Committee? MR. REGALADO For the benefit of the other Commissioners, will Commissioner
Davide explain this proposal? MR. DAVIDE: This is necessary in order that Congress will have the authority
now to promulgate the necessary rules for the canvassing of the certificates of
canvass for the Offices of the President and the VicePresident. MR. REGALADO: How will that tie up with line 16 regarding the determination of
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