by Kenneth Guevarra Limosnero

JOSE A. ANGARA v. THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION, GR No. 45081, 1936-07-15

Facts:

he petitioner, Jose A. Angara, and the respondents, Pedro Ynsua, Miguel Castillo and Dionisio Mayor, were candidates voted for the position of member of the National Assembly for the first... district of the Province of  Tayabas;... he provincial board of canvassers, proclaimed  the  petitioner as member-elect of the National Assembly for the said district, for having received the most number of votes;... the petitioner took his oath  of office;

Jose A. Angara, one of the respondents  in the  aforesaid protest, filed before the Electoral Commission a "Motion to Dismiss the Protest"

Pedro Ynsua, filed an "Answer to the Motion of Dismissal" alleging that there is no legal  or constitutional provision barring the presentation of a protest against the election of a member of the National

Assembly, after confirmation;... the Electoral Commission promulgated a resolution on January 23,1936, denying herein petitioner's "Motion to Dismiss the Protest."

The application of the petitioner sets forth the following grounds for the  issuance of the writ prayed for:

That the  Constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction upon the Electoral Commission solely as regards the merits of contested elections to the National Assembly;

That the Constitution excludes from said jurisdiction the power to regulate the proceedings of said election contests, which power  has  been reserved to the  Legislative Department of the Government or the  National Assembly;

That like  the Supreme Court and other courts created in pursuance of  the Constitution, whose exclusive jurisdiction relates solely to deciding the merits of controversies submitted to them  for decision  and to matters involving their internal ... organization,  the  Electoral Commission can regulate its proceedings only if the  National Assembly has not availed  of its primary power to so regulate such pro- ceedings;... hat the Electoral Commission has been created by the Constitution as  an instrumentality  of  the Legislative Department invested with the  jurisdiction to decide "all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the ... members of the National Assembly"; that in adopting its resolution of December 9, 1935,  fixing  this date as the last day for the presentation of protests against the election of any member of the National  Assembly, it acted within its jurisdiction and in the... legitimate exercise of the implied powers granted it  by the Constitution  to adopt the rules and  regulations essential to carry out  the powers and functions  conferred upon the same by the fundamental law; that in adopting its resolution of

January  23, 1936, over-ruling  the motion of the petitioner to dismiss the election protest in question, and declaring itself with jurisdiction to take cognizance of said protest, it acted in the legitimate exercise of its quasi-judicial functions as  an ... instrumentality of the  Legislative Department of the Commonwealth  Government, and hence said act is beyond the  judicial cognizance or control of the Supreme  Court;

That the  Electoral  Commission is a body invested with quasi-judicial functions, created by the  Constitution as an  instrumentality of the  Legislative Department, and is not  an "inferior tribunal, or corporation, or board, or person"... within the purview of sections 226 and 516 of the Code of Civil Procedure, against which prohibition would lie.

Issues:

Has the Supreme Court jurisdiction over  the Electoral Commission and the subject matter  of the controversy upon the foregoing related facts, and in the affirmative,... Has the said Electoral Commission acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in  assuming to take cognizance of the protest filed against the election of the herein petitioner notwithstanding the previous  confirmation of  such election by... resolution of the National Assembly?... whether the Electoral Commission has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in adopting its resolution of December 9, 1935, and in assuming to ... take cognizance of the protest filed against the election of the herein petitioner notwithstanding the previous  confirmation thereof by the National Assembly

Ruling:

In our case, the nature of the present controversy shows the necessity of a final constitutional arbiter to determine the conflict  of authority between two... agencies created by the Constitution.

The... express lodging of that power in the Electoral Commission is an implied denial of the exercise of that power by the  National Assembly.

That judicial supremacy is but the power of  judicial review in actual and appropriate cases and  controversies, and  is the power and duty to see  that no one  branch or agency of the  government  transcends  the 

Constitution, which is the source of all authority.

That the Electoral  Commission  is an independent constitutional creation with specific powers and  functions to execute and perform, closer for purposes of classification to the  legislative than to any of the other two departments of the... government.

That the Electoral Commission is the sole judge of all contests  relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the  National Assembly.

sole judge

That  the present Constitution has transferred all the powers previously exercised by  the legislature with respect to contests relating to the election, returns and quali- fications of its members, to the Electoral Commission.

That the  avowed purpose in  creating the Electoral Commission was to have  an independent  constitutional organ pass upon all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications  of members of the National Assembly, devoid of partisan... influence or consideration, which object would be frustrated if the National Assembly were to retain the power to prescribe rules and regulations regarding  the manner of conducting said  contests.

Principles:

From the very nature of the republican government established in our... country in the light of American experience and of our own, upon the judicial department is thrown the solemn and inescapable obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries.

The  Electoral Commission is not a separate department of the government, and even if it were, conflicting claims of authority  under the fundamental law between departmental  powers and agencies of the government are necessarily determined by the judiciary in... justi- ciable and appropriate cases.

Upon  principle* reason and authority, we are clearly of the... opinion that upon the admitted facts of the present case, this court has jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and the subject matter of the present controversy for the purpose of determining the character, scope and extent of the constitutional grant to the Electoral

Commission as "the sole judge of  all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly."

That the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, shall be the sole judges of the elections, returns,  and qualifications of their elective members,  * * *" apparently in order to emphasize the... exclusive character of the jurisdiction conferred upon each House of the Legislature over the particular cases therein specified.  This court has had occasion to characterize this grant of power to the  Philippine Senate and  House of Representatives,... respectively, as "full, clear and complete"

The creation of an Electoral Commission whose membership is recruited both from the legislature and the judiciary is by no  means  unknown in the United  States.

From the deliberations of our Constitutional Convention it is evident that the purpose was to transfer in its totality all  the  powers  previously exercised by the legislature in matters pertaining to contested elections of its members, to an independent and... impartial tribunal.

The Electoral Commission  is a constitutional creation, invested with the necessary authority in the performance and execution of the limited and specific function assigned to it by the  Constitution

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