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Macalintal v Presidential Electoral Tribunal, 635 SCRA 783 (2010), 651 SCRA 239 (2011)

Facts:

Confronting us is an undesignated petition filed by Atty. Romulo B. Macalintal (Atty. Macalintal),


that questions the constitution of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) as an illegal and
unauthorized progeny of Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution:

The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the
election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its
rules for the purpose.

While petitioner concedes that the Supreme Court is "authorized to promulgate its rules for the
purpose," he chafes at the creation of a purportedly "separate tribunal" complemented by a
budget allocation, a seal, a set of personnel and confidential employees, to effect the
constitutional mandate. Petitioners averment is supposedly supported by the provisions of the
2005 Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (2005 PET Rules), specifically:

(1) Rule 3 which provides for membership of the PET wherein the Chief Justice and the
Associate Justices are designated as "Chairman and Members," respectively;

(2) Rule 8(e) which authorizes the Chairman of the PET to appoint employees and confidential
employees of every member thereof;

(3) Rule 9 which provides for a separate "Administrative Staff of the Tribunal" with the
appointment of a Clerk and a Deputy Clerk of the Tribunal who, at the discretion of the PET,
may designate the Clerk of Court (en banc) as the Clerk of the Tribunal; and

(4) Rule 11 which provides for a "seal" separate and distinct from the Supreme Court seal.

Grudgingly, petitioner throws us a bone by acknowledging that the invoked constitutional


provision does allow the "appointment of additional personnel."

Further, petitioner highlights our decision in Buac v. COMELEC which peripherally declared that
"contests involving the President and the Vice-President fall within the exclusive original
jurisdiction of the PET, x x x in the exercise of quasi-judicial power." On this point, petitioner
reiterates that the constitution of the PET, with the designation of the Members of the Court as
Chairman and Members thereof, contravenes Section 12, Article VIII of the Constitution, which
prohibits the designation of Members of the Supreme Court and of other courts established by
law to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), as directed in our Resolution dated April 6, 2010, filed
a Comment thereon. At the outset, the OSG points out that the petition filed by Atty. Macalintal is
unspecified and without statutory basis; "the liberal approach in its preparation x x x is a
violation of the well known rules of practice and pleading in this jurisdiction."

Issue:
WON THE CREATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL IS
UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR BEING A VIOLATION OF PARAGRAPH 7, SECTION 4 OF
ARTICLE VII OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION; AND

WON THE DESIGNATION OF MEMBERS OF THE SUPREME COURT AS MEMBERS OF


THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR BEING A
VIOLATION OF SECTION 12, ARTICLE VIII OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION.

Held:

Petitioner here claimed that the creation of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) is
unconstitutional as it violates Section 4 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, which provides
that The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the
election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its
rules for the purpose. He contends that the provision, as worded, does not authorize the
constitution of the PET. The Court said that, while the above provision does not specify the
establishment of the PET, neither does it preclude, much less prohibit, the same. The Court
further said that its constitutional mandate to act as sole judge of election contests involving the
President or Vice-President, and its rule-making authority in connection therewith (granted by
the provision of Section 4 that the Court may promulgate its rules for the purpose), are not
restricted but include all necessary powers implicit in the exercise of such mandate and
authority. These powers are plenary and the authority of the Court to decide presidential and
vice presidential election contests through the PET are derived from the unequivocal grant of
jurisdiction under Section 4 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution. Accordingly, the creation of
the PET implements Section 4and faithfully complies with the constitutional directive. The
discussions of the Constitutional Commission clearly support the foregoing conclusion.

The Court here rejected petitioners claim that the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET)
exercises quasi-judicial functions contrary to Section 12, Article VIII of the Constitution, which
states that The Members of the Supreme Court and of other courts established by law shall not
be designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions. The
traditional grant of judicial power is found in Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, which
provides that the power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may
be established by law. Consistent with the presidential system of government, the function of
dealing with the settlement of disputes, controversies or conflicts involving rights, duties or
prerogatives that are legally demandable and enforceable is apportioned to courts of justice.
With the advent of the 1987 Constitution, judicial power was expanded to include 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. Judicial power was thus expanded, but it remained absolute. The Court held that
set up embodied in the 1987 Constitution characterizes the resolution of electoral contests as
essentially an exercise of judicial power. When the Supreme Court, as the PET, resolves a
presidential or vice-presidential election contest, it performs what is essentially a judicial power.
The present Constitution has allocated to the Supreme Court, in conjunction with latters
exercise of judicial power inherent in all courts, the task of deciding presidential and vice-
presidential election contests, with full authority in the exercise thereof. The power wielded by
PET is a derivative of the plenary judicial power allocated to courts of law, expressly provided in
the Constitution.