J. Electoral tribunals and the Commission on Appointments

Atty. Jericho Del Puerto

Atty. Jericho Del Puerto

Lawyer, Author, Mentor

Frequency: ★★★★★

1. Powers and jurisdiction

The Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. (Section 17, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

a. Powers

The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. (Section 17, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

NB: For the Senate, it is the Senate Electoral Tribunal or (SET). For the House of Representatives, it is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET)

COMPOSITION: Each Electoral Tribunal shall be composed of nine Members, three of whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining six shall be Members of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party-list system represented therein. The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman. (Ibid.)

HOW CONSTITUTED: The Electoral Tribunals shall be constituted within thirty (30) days after the Senate and the House of Representatives shall have been organized with the election of the President and the Speaker. (Ibid.)

b. Jurisdiction

1) HRET Jurisdiction

DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVES: To be considered a Member of the House of Representatives, there must be a concurrence of the following requisites:

1) A valid proclamation;

2) A proper oath, and,

3) Assumption of office. (Reyes v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. 207264, 25 June 2013)

After proclamation, taking of oath and assumption of office of a Member of the House of Representatives, jurisdiction over the matter of his qualifications, as well as questions regarding the conduct of election and contested returns – are transferred (from the COMELEC) to the HRET as the constitutional body created to pass upon the same.  (Gonzalez v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 192856, 08 March 2011)

PARTY-LIST REPRESENTATIVES: Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution endows the HRET with jurisdiction to resolve questions on the qualifications of members of Congress. In the case of party-list representatives, the HRET acquires jurisdiction over a disqualification case upon proclamation of the winning party-list group, oath of the nominee, and assumption of office as member of the House of Representatives. (Lico v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 205505, 29 September 2015)

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question B.19, Political Law, 2019 Bar Exam)

Candidate X, a naturalized Filipino citizen, ran for Congressman for the Lone District of Batanes. After a close electoral contest, he won by a slim margin of 500 votes. His sole opponent, Y, filed an election protest before the Commission on Election (COMELEC), claiming that X should be disqualified to run for said position because he is not a natural-born citizen. While the case was pending, X was proclaimed by the Provincial Election Supervisor of Batanes as the duly elected Congressman of the province.

(c) Did X’s proclamation divest the COMELEC of its jurisdiction to decide the case and vest the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) jurisdiction to hear the case? Explain. (2%)

Suggested Answer:

No. Answer

Under jurisprudence, HRET has jurisdiction of an election contest against a Member of the House Representatives if once all of the following requisites are met: (1) a valid proclamation; (2) a proper oath, and, (3) assumption of office. Rule

In the case at bar, X has not yet taken oath and assumed office. Accordingly, COMELEC still has jurisdiction. Apply

Thus, the proclamation of X did not divest COMELEC of its jurisdiction to decide the case. Conclusion

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question VI, Political Law, 2018 Bar Exam)

Ang Araw, a multi-sectoral party-list organization duly registered as such with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), was proclaimed as one of the winning party-list groups in the last national elections. Its first nominee, Alejandro, assumed office as the party-list representative.

About one year after Alejandro assumed office, the Interim Central Committee of Ang Araw expelled Alejandro from the party for disloyalty and replaced him with Andoy, its second nominee. Alejandro questioned before the Comelec his expulsion and replacement by Andoy.

The Comelec considered Alejandro’s petition as an intra-party dispute which it could resolve as an incident of its power to register political parties; it proceeded to uphold the expulsion.

Is the Comelec’s ruling correct? (5%)

Suggested Answer:

No. Answer

Under jurisprudence, in the case of party-list representatives, the HRET acquires jurisdiction over a disqualification case upon proclamation of the winning party-list group, oath of the nominee, and assumption of office as member of the House of Representatives. Rule

In the case at bar, Alejandro has already assumed office for a year and thus presumably have already been proclaimed and took oath. He is thus a Member of the House of Representatives. Accordingly, the HRET has jurisdiction over the issue of his qualification or disqualification. Apply

Thus, COMELEC’s ruling is not correct. Conclusion

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question XI, Political Law, 2017 Bar Exam)

Sec. 17, Art. VI of the Constitution establishes an Electoral Tribunal for each of the Houses of Congress, and makes each Electoral Tribunal “the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members.” On the other hand, Sec. 2(1), C (Commission on Elections), Art. IX of the Constitution grants to the COMELEC the power to enforce and administer all laws and regulations “relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.”

Considering that there is no concurrence of jurisdiction between the Electoral Tribunals and the COMELEC, state when the jurisdiction of the Electoral Tribunals begins, and the COMELEC’s jurisdiction ends. Explain your answer. (4%)

Suggested Answer:

The jurisdiction of the Electoral Tribunal begins after concurrence of the following: (1) a valid proclamation; (2) a proper oath, and, (3) assumption of office. Prior to completion of these requisites, jurisdiction is with the Commission on Elections.

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