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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

GONZALES VS. COMELEC [21 SCRA 774; G.R. No. L-28196; 9 Nov 1967] case digest (CONSTI-1

GONZALES VS. COMELEC [21 SCRA 774; G.R. No. L-28196; 9 Nov 1967]

Facts: The case is an original action for prohibition, with preliminary injunction.

The main facts are not disputed. On March 16, 1967, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the following resolutions:

1. R. B. H. (Resolution of Both Houses) No. 1, - proposing that Section 5, Article VI, of the Constitution of the Philippines, be amended so as to increase the membership of the House of Representatives from a maximum of 120, as provided in the present Constitution, to a maximum of 180, to be apportioned among the several provinces as nearly as may be according to the number of their respective inhabitants, although each province shall have, at least, one (1) member;

2. R. B. H. No. 2, - calling a convention to propose amendments to said Constitution, the convention to be composed of two (2) elective delegates from each representative district, to be "elected in the general elections to be held on the second Tuesday of November, 1971;" and

3. R. B. H. No. 3, -proposing that Section 16, Article VI, of the same Constitution, be amended so as to authorize Senators and members of the House of Representatives to become delegates to the aforementioned constitutional convention, without forfeiting their respective seats in Congress.

Subsequently, Congress passed a bill, which, upon approval by the President, on June 17, 1967, became Republic Act No. 4913, providing that the amendments to the Constitution proposed in the aforementioned Resolutions No. 1 and 3 be submitted, for approval by the people, at the general elections which shall be held on November 14, 1967.

Issue: Whether or Not a Resolution of Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, violates the Constitution.

Held: In as much as there are less than eight (8) votes in favor of declaring Republic Act 4913 and R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 unconstitutional and invalid, the petitions in these two (2) cases must be, as they are hereby, dismiss and the writs therein prayed for denied, without special pronouncement as to costs. It is so ordered.

As a consequence, the title of a de facto officer cannot be assailed collaterally. It may not be contested except directly, by quo warranto proceedings. Neither may the validity of his acts be questioned upon the ground that he is merely a de facto officer. And the reasons are obvious:
(1) it would be an indirect inquiry into the title to the office; and
(2) the acts of a de facto officer, if within the competence of his office, are valid, insofar as the public is concerned.

"The judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of powers between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof."

Article XV of the Constitution provides:

. . . The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments to this Constitution or call a contention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification.

From our viewpoint, the provisions of Article XV of the Constitution are satisfied so long as the electorate knows that R. B. H. No. 3 permits Congressmen to retain their seats as legislators, even if they should run for and assume the functions of delegates to the Convention.

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