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Tañada and Macapagal v. Cuenco, et al., G.R. No. L-10520, February 28, 1957

10 Jan

En Banc

[CONCEPCION, J.]

FACTS:  Petitioners pray that a writ of preliminary injunction be immediately issued directed to respondents Mariano J. Cuenco, Francisco A. Delgado, Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes, restraining them from continuing to usurp, intrude into and/ or hold or exercise the said public offices respectively being occupied by them in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and to respondent Fernando Hipolito restraining him from paying the salaries of respondent Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes, pending this action. Petitioners likewise prayed that judgment be rendered ousting respondents from the aforementioned public offices in the Senate Electoral Tribunal and that they be altogether excluded therefrom and making the preliminary injunction permanent.

Respondents have admitted the main allegations of fact in the petition, except insofar as it questions the legality, and validity of the election of respondents Senators Cuenco and Delgado, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and of the appointment of respondent Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes as technical assistants and private secretaries to said respondents Senators. Respondents, likewise, allege, by way of special and affirmative defenses, that: (a) this Court is without power, authority of jurisdiction to direct or control the action of the Senate in choosing the members of the Electoral Tribunal

ISSUE: Was the dispute regarding the election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal in the nature of a political question that will divest the Court of jurisdiction?

HELD: NO.

[T]he term “political question” connotes, in legal parlance, what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a question of policy. In other words, in the language of Corpus Juris Secundum (supra), it refers to “those questions 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 Legislature or executive branch of the Government.” It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure.

Such is not the nature of the question for determination in the present case. Here, we are called upon to decide whether the election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado, by the Senate, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, upon nomination by Senator Primicias-a member and spokesman of the party having the largest number of votes in the Senate-on behalf of its Committee on Rules, contravenes the constitutional mandate that said members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal shall be chosen “upon nomination .. of the party having the second largest number of votes” in the Senate, and hence, is null and void. This is not a political question. The Senate is not clothed with “full discretionary authority” in the choice of members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal. The exercise of its power thereon is subject to constitutional limitations which are claimed to be mandatory in nature. It is clearly within the legitimate prove of the judicial department to pass upon the validity the proceedings in connection therewith.

“.. whether an election of public officers has been in accordance with law is for the judiciary. Moreover, where the legislative department has by statute prescribed election procedure in a given situation, the judiciary may determine whether a particular election has been in conformity with such statute, and, particularly, whether such statute has been applied in a way to deny or transgress on the constitutional or statutory rights ..” (16 C.J.S., 439).

It is, therefore, our opinion that we have, not only jurisdiction, but, also, the duty, to consider and determine the principal issue raised by the parties herein.

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