Macalintal v. PET (G.R. No. 191618; June 7, 2011)


FACTS: A Motion for Reconsideration was filed by petitioner Atty. Romulo B. Macalintal from a decision dismissing his petition and declaring the establishment of respondent Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) as constitutional.
Petitioner reiterates his arguments on the alleged unconstitutional creation of the PET that Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution does not provide for the creation of the PET. Thus, PET violates Section 12, Article VIII of the Constitution.

To bolster his arguments that the PET is an illegal and unauthorized progeny of Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution, petitioner invokes our ruling on the constitutionality of the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC). Petitioner cites the concurring opinion of Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro that the PTC is a public office which cannot be created by the President, the power to do so being lodged exclusively with Congress. Thus, petitioner submits that if the President, as head of the Executive Department, cannot create the PTC, the Supreme Court, likewise, cannot create the PET in the absence of an act of legislature.

ISSUE: Is the establishment of respondent Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) constitutional?HELD: We reiterate that the PET is authorized by the last paragraph of Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution and as supported by the discussions of the Members of the Constitutional Commission, which drafted the present Constitution.

The explicit reference by the framers of our Constitution to constitutionalizing what was merely statutory before is not diluted by the absence of a phrase, line or word, mandating the Supreme Court to create a Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

Suffice it to state that the Constitution, verbose as it already is, cannot contain the specific wording required by petitioner in order for him to accept the constitutionality of the PET.

Judicial power granted to the Supreme Court by the same Constitution is plenary. And under the doctrine of necessary implication, the additional jurisdiction bestowed by the last paragraph of Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution to decide presidential and vice-presidential elections contests includes the means necessary to carry it into effect. Thus:

Obvious from the foregoing is the intent to bestow independence to the Supreme Court as the PET, to undertake the Herculean task of deciding election protests involving presidential and vice-presidential candidates in accordance with the process outlined by former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion. It was made in response to the concern aired by delegate Jose E. Suarez that the additional duty may prove too burdensome for the Supreme Court. This explicit grant of independence and of the plenary powers needed to discharge this burden justifies the budget allocation of the PET.

The conferment of additional jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, with the duty characterized as an "awesome" task, includes the means necessary to carry it into effect under the doctrine of necessary implication. We cannot overemphasize that the abstraction of the PET from the explicit grant of power to the Supreme Court, given our abundant experience, is not unwarranted.

A plain reading of Article VII, Section 4, paragraph 7, readily reveals a grant of authority to the Supreme Court sitting en banc. In the same vein, although the method by which the Supreme Court exercises this authority is not specified in the provision, the grant of power does not contain any limitation on the Supreme Court's exercise thereof. The Supreme Court's method of deciding presidential and vice-presidential election contests, through the PET, is actually a derivative of the exercise of the prerogative conferred by the aforequoted constitutional provision. Thus, the subsequent directive in the provision for the Supreme Court to "promulgate its rules for the purpose."

The conferment of full authority to the Supreme Court, as a PET, is equivalent to the full authority conferred upon the electoral tribunals of the Senate and the House of Representatives, i.e., the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), which we have affirmed on numerous occasions.

It is also beyond cavil that when the Supreme Court, as PET, resolves a presidential or vice-presidential election contest, it performs what is essentially a judicial power.

With the explicit provision, the present Constitution has allocated to the Supreme Court, in conjunction with latter's 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. On the whole, the Constitution draws a thin, but, nevertheless, distinct line between the PET and the Supreme Court.

We have previously declared that the PET is not simply an agency to which Members of the Court were designated. Once again, the PET, as intended by the framers of the Constitution, is to be an institution independent, but not separate, from the judicial department, i.e., the Supreme Court. McCulloch v. State of Maryland proclaimed that "[a] power without the means to use it, is a nullity."

The decision therein held that the PTC "finds justification under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution." A plain reading of the constitutional provisions, i.e., last paragraph of Section 4 and Section 17, both of Article VII on the Executive Branch, reveals that the two are differently worded and deal with separate powers of the Executive and the Judicial Branches of government. And as previously adverted to, the basis for the constitution of the PET was, in fact, mentioned in the deliberations of the Members of the Constitutional Commission during the drafting of the present Constitution. DENIED.

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