November 6, 2011
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Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. L-1123          March 5, 1947

ALEJO MABANAG, ET AL., petitioners,


JOSE LOPEZ VITO, ET AL., respondents.

Alejo Mabanag, Jose O. Vera, Jesus G. Barrera, Felixberto Serrano, J. Antonio Araneta, Antonio Barredo, and Jose W. Diokno for petitioners.
Secretary of Justice Ozaeta, Solicitor General Tañada, and First Assistant Solicitor General Reyes for respondents.




This is a petition for prohibition to prevent the enforcement of a congressional resolution designated “Resolution of both houses proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the Philippines to be appended as an ordinance thereto.” The members of the Commission on Elections, the Treasurer of the Philippines, the Auditor General, and the Director of the Bureau of Printing are made defendants, and the petitioners are eight senators, seventeen representatives, and the presidents of the Democratic Alliance, the Popular Front and the Philippine Youth Party. The validity of the above-mentioned resolution is attacked as contrary to the Constitution.

The case was heard on the pleadings and stipulation of facts. In our view of the case it is unnecessary to go into the facts at length. We will mention only the facts essential for the proper understanding of the issues. For this purpose it suffices to say that three of the plaintiff senators and eight of the plaintiff representatives had been proclaimed by a majority vote of the Commission on Elections as having been elected senators and representatives in the elections held on April 23, 1946. The three senators were suspended by the Senate shortly after the opening of the first session of Congress following the elections, on account of alleged irregularities in their election. The eight representatives since their election had not been allowed to sit in the lower House, except to take part in the election of the Speaker, for the same reason, although they had not been formally suspended. A resolution for their suspension had been introduced in the House of Representatives, but that resolution had not been acted upon definitely by the House when the present petition was filed.

As a consequence these three senators and eight representatives did not take part in the passage of the questioned resolution, nor was their membership reckoned within the computation of the necessary three-fourths vote which is required in proposing an amendment to the Constitution. If these members of Congress had been counted, the affirmative votes in favor of the proposed amendment would have been short of the necessary three-fourths vote in either branch of Congress.

At the threshold we are met with the question of the jurisdiction of this Court. The respondents deny that this Court has jurisdiction, relying on the conclusiveness on the courts of an enrolled bill or resolution. There is some merit in the petitioners’ contention that this is confusing jurisdiction, which is a matter of substantive law, with conclusiveness of an enactment or resolution, which is a matter of evidence and practice. This objection, however, is purely academic. Whatever distinction there is in the juridical sense between the two concepts, in practice and in their operation they boil down to the same thing. Basically the two notions are synonymous in that both are founded on the regard which the judiciary accords a co-equal coordinate, and independent departments of the Government. If a political question conclusively binds the judges out of respect to the political departments, a duly certified law or resolution also binds the judges under the “enrolled bill rule” born of that respect.

It is a doctrine too well established to need citation of authorities, that political questions are not within the province of the judiciary, except to the extent that power to deal with such questions has been conferred upon the courts by express constitutional or statutory provision. (16 C.J.S., 431.) This doctrine is predicated on the principle of the separation of powers, a principle also too well known to require elucidation or citation of authorities. The difficulty lies in determining what matters fall within the meaning of political question. The term is not susceptible of exact definition, and precedents and authorities are not always in full harmony as to the scope of the restrictions, on this ground, on the courts to meddle with the actions of the political departments of the government.

But there is one case approaching this in its circumstances: Coleman vs. Miller, a relatively recent decision of the United States Supreme Court reported and annotated in 122 A.L.R., 695. The case, by a majority decision delivered by Mr. Chief Justice Hughes, is authority for the conclusion that the efficacy of ratification by state legislature of a proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution is a political question and hence not justiciable. The Court further held that the decision by Congress, in its control of the Secretary of State, of the questions of whether an amendment has been adopted within a reasonable time from the date of submission to the state legislature, is not subject to review by the court.

If ratification of an amendment is a political question, a proposal which leads to ratification has to be a political question. The two steps complement each other in a scheme intended to achieve a single objective. It is to be noted that the amendatory process as provided in section 1 of Article XV of the Philippine Constitution “consists of (only) two distinct parts: proposal and ratification.” There is no logic in attaching political character to one and withholding that character from the other. Proposal to amend the Constitution is a highly political function performed by the Congress in its sovereign legislative capacity and committed to its charge by the Constitution itself. The exercise of this power is even independent of any intervention by the Chief Executive. If on grounds of expediency scrupulous attention of the judiciary be needed to safeguard public interest, there is less reason for judicial inquiry into the validity of a proposal than into that of a ratification. As the Mississippi Supreme Court has once said:

There is nothing in the nature of the submission which should cause the free exercise of it to be obstructed, or that could render it dangerous to the stability of the government; because the measure derives all its vital force from the action of the people at the ballot box, and there can never be danger in submitting in an established form, to a free people, the proposition whether they will change their fundamental law. The means provided for the exercise of their sovereign right of changing their constitution should receive such a construction as not to trammel the exercise of the right. Difficulties and embarrassments in its exercise are in derogation of the right of free government, which is inherent in the people; and the best security against tumult and revolution is the free and unobstructed privilege to the people of the State to change their constitution in the mode prescribed by the instrument. (Green vs. Weller, 32 Miss., 650; note, 10 L.R.A., N.S., 150.)

Mr. Justice Black, in a concurring opinion joined in by Justices Roberts, Frankfurter and Douglas, in Miller vs. Colemansupra, finds no basis for discriminating between proposal and ratification. From his forceful opinion we quote the following paragraphs:

The Constitution grant Congress exclusive power to control submission of constitutional amendments. Final determination by Congress that ratification by three-fourths of the States has taken place “is conclusive upon the courts.” In the exercise of that power, Congress, of course, is governed by the Constitution. However, whether submission, intervening procedure or Congressional determination of ratification conforms to the commands of the Constitution, call for decisions by a “political department” of questions of a type which this Court has frequently designated “political.” And decision of a “political question” by the “political department” to which the Constitution has committed it “conclusively binds the judges, as well as all other officers, citizens and subjects of . . . government.” Proclamation under authority of Congress that an amendment has been ratified will carry with it a solemn assurance by the Congress that ratification has taken place as the Constitution commands. Upon this assurance a proclaimed amendment must be accepted as a part of the Constitution, leaving to the judiciary its traditional authority of interpretation. To the extent that the Court’s opinion in the present case even impliedly assumes a power to make judicial interpretation of the exclusive constitutional authority of Congress over submission and ratification of amendments, we are unable to agree.

The State court below assumed jurisdiction to determine whether the proper procedure is being followed between submission and final adoption. However, it is apparent that judicial review of or pronouncements upon a supposed limitation of a “reasonable time” within which Congress may accept ratification; as to whether duly authorized State officials have proceeded properly in ratifying or voting for ratification; or whether a State may reverse its action once taken upon a proposed amendment; and kindred questions, are all consistent only with an intimate control over the amending process in the courts. And this must inevitably embarrass the course of amendment by subjecting to judicial interference matters that we believe were intrusted by the Constitution solely to the political branch of government.

The Court here treats the amending process of the Constitution in some respects as subject to judicial construction, in others as subject to the final authority of the Congress. There is no disapproval of the conclusion arrived at in Dillon vs. Gloss, that the Constitution impliedly requires that a properly submitted amendment must die unless ratified within a “reasonable time.” Nor does the Court now disapprove its prior assumption of power to make such a pronouncement. And it is not made clear that only Congress has constitutional power to determine if there is any such implication in Article 5 of the Constitution. On the other hand, the Court’s opinion declares that Congress has the exclusive power to decide the “political questions” of whether as State whose legislature has once acted upon a proposed amendment may subsequently reverse its position, and whether, in the circumstances of such a case as this, an amendment is dead because an “unreasonable” time has elapsed. No such division between the political and judicial branches of the government is made by Article 5 which grants power over the amending of the Constitution to Congress alone. Undivided control of that process has been given by the Article exclusively and completely to Congress. The process itself is “political” in its entirely, from submission until an amendment becomes part of the Constitution, and is not subject to judicial guidance, control or interference at any point.

Mr. Justice Frankfurter, in another concurring opinion to which the other three justices subscribed, arrives at the same conclusion. Though his thesis was the petitioner’s lack of standing in court — a point which not having been raised by the parties herein we will not decide — his reasoning inevitably extends to a consideration of the nature of the legislative proceeding the legality of which the petitioners in that case assailed. From a different angle he sees the matter as political, saying:

The right of the Kansas senators to be here is rested on recognition by Leser vs. Garnett, 258 U.S., 130; 66 Law. ed., 505; 42 S. Ct., 217, of a voter’s right to protect his franchise. The historic source of this doctrine and the reasons for it were explained in Nixon vs. Herndon, 273 U.S., 436, 540; 71 Law. ed., 759, 761; 47 S. Ct., 446. That was an action for $5,000 damages against the Judges of Elections for refusing to permit the plaintiff to vote at a primary election in Texas. In disposing of the objection that the plaintiff had no cause of action because the subject matter of the suit was political, Mr. Justice Homes thus spoke for the Court: “Of course the petition concerns political action, but it alleges and seeks to recover for private damage. That private damage may be caused by such political action and may be recovered for in a suit at law hardly has been doubted for over two hundred years, since Ashby vs. White, 2 Ld. Raym., 938; 92 Eng. Reprint, 126; 1 Eng. Rul. Cas., 521; 3 Ld. Raym., 320; 92 Eng. Reprint, 710, and has been recognized by this Court.” “Private damage” is the clue to the famous ruling in Ashby vs. Whitesupra, and determines its scope as well as that of cases in this Court of which it is the justification. The judgment of Lord Holt is permeated with the conception that a voter’s franchise is a personal right, assessable in money damages, of which the exact amount “is peculiarly appropriate for the determination of a jury,” see Wiley vs. Sinkler, 179 U.S., 58, 65; 45 Law. ed., 84, 88; 21 S. Ct., 17, and for which there is no remedy outside the law courts. “Although this matter relates to the parliament,” said Lord Holt, “yet it is an injury precedaneous to the parliament, as my Lord Hale said in the case of Bernardiston vs. Some, 2 Lev., 114, 116; 83 Eng. Reprint, 175. The parliament cannot judge of this injury, nor give damage to the plaintiff for it: they cannot make him a recompense.” (2 Ld. Raym., 938, 958; 92 Eng. Reprint, 126; 1 Eng. Rul. Cas., 521.)

The reasoning of Ashby vs. White and the practice which has followed it leave intra-parliamentary controversies to parliaments and outside the scrutiny of law courts. The procedures for voting in legislative assemblies — who are members, how and when they should vote, what is the requisite number of votes for different phases of legislative activity, what votes were cast and how they were counted — surely are matters that not merely concern political action but are of the very essence of political action, if “political” has any connotation at all. Marshall Field & Co. vs. Clark, 143 U.S., 649, 670, et seq.; 36 Law. ed., 294, 302; 12 S. Ct., 495; Leser vs. Garnett, 258 U.S., 130, 137; 66 Law. ed., 505, 511; 42 S. Ct., 217. In no sense are they matters of “private damage.” They pertain to legislators not as individuals but as political representatives executing the legislative process. To open the law courts to such controversies is to have courts sit in judgment on the manifold disputes engendered by procedures for voting in legislative assemblies. If the doctrine of Ashby vs. White vindicating the private rights of a voting citizen has not been doubted for over two hundred years, it is equally significant that for over two hundred years Ashby vs. White has not been sought to be put to purposes like the present. In seeking redress here these Kansas senators have wholly misconceived the functions of this Court. The writ of certiorari to the Kansas Supreme Court should therefore be dismissed.

We share the foregoing views. In our judgment they accord with sound principles of political jurisprudence and represent liberal and advanced thought on the working of constitutional and popular government as conceived in the fundamental law. Taken as persuasive authorities, they offer enlightening understanding of the spirit of the United States institutions after which ours are patterned.

But these concurring opinions have more than persuasive value. As will be presently shown, they are the opinions which should operate to adjudicate the questions raised by the pleadings. To make the point clear, it is necessary, at the risk of unduly lengthening this decision, to make a statement and an analysis of the Coleman vs. Miller case. Fortunately, the annotation on that case in the American Law Reports, supra, comes to out aid and lightens our labor in this phase of the controversy.

Coleman vs. Miller was an original proceeding in mandamus brought in the Supreme Court of Kansas by twenty-one members of the Senate, including twenty senators who had voted against a resolution ratifying the Child Labor Amendment, and by three members of the House of Representatives, to compel the Secretary of the Senate to erase in indorsement on the resolution to the effect that it had been adopted by the Senate and to indorse thereon the words “as not passed.” They sought to restrain the offices of the Senate and House of Representatives from signing the resolution, and the Secretary of State of Kansas from authenticating it and delivering it to the Governor.

The background of the petition appears to have been that the Child Labor Amendment was proposed by Congress in June, 1924; that in January, 1925, the legislature of Kansas adopted a resolution rejecting it and a copy of the resolution was sent to the Secretary of State of the United States; that in January, 1927, a new resolution was introduced in the Senate of Kansas ratifying the proposed amendment; that there were forty senators, twenty of whom voted for and twenty against the resolution; and that as a result of the tie, the Lieutenant Governor cast his vote in favor of the resolution.

The power of the Lieutenant Governor to vote was challenged, and the petition set forth prior rejection of the proposed amendment and alleged that in the period from June 1924 to March 1927, the proposed amendment had been rejected by both houses of the legislatures of twenty-six states and had been ratified only in five states, and that by reason of that rejection and the failure of ratification within a reasonable time, the proposed amendment had lost its vitality.

The Supreme Court of Kansas entertained jurisdiction of all the issues but dismissed the petition on the merits. When the case reached the Supreme Court of the United States the questions were framed substantially in the following manner:

First, whether the court had jurisdiction; that is, whether the petitioners had standing to seek to have the judgment of the state court reversed; second, whether the Lieutenant Governor had the right to vote in case of a tie, as he did, it being the contention of the petitioners that “in the light of the powers and duties of the Lieutenant Governor and his relation to the Senate under the state Constitution, as construed by the Supreme Court of the state, the Lieutenant Governor was not a part of the ‘legislature’ so that under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, he could be permitted to have a deciding vote on the ratification of the proposed amendment, when the Senate was equally divided”; and third, the effect of the previous rejection of the amendment and of the lapse of time after its submission.

The first question was decided in the affirmative. The second question, regarding the authority of the Lieutenant Governor to vote, the court avoided, stating: “Whether this contention presents a justiciable controversy, or a question which is political in its nature and hence not justiciable, is a question upon which the Court is equally divided and therefore the court expresses no opinion upon that point.” On the third question, the Court reached the conclusion before referred to, namely, (1) that the efficacy of ratification by state legislature of a proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution is a political question, within the ultimate power of Congress in the exercise of its control and of the promulgation of the adoption of amendment, and (2) that the decision by Congress, in its control of the action of the Secretary of State, of the questions whether an amendment to the Federal Constitution has been adopted within a reasonable time, is not subject to review by the court.

The net result was that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Kansas was affirmed but in the grounds stated in the United States Supreme Court’s decision. The nine justices were aligned in three groups. Justices Roberts, Black, Frankfurter and Douglas opined that the petitioners had no personality to bring the petition and that all the questions raised are political and non-justiciable Justices Butler and McReynolds opined that all the questions were justiciable; that the Court had jurisdiction of all such questions, and that the petition should have been granted and the decision of the Supreme Court of Kansas reversed on the ground that the proposal to amend had died of old age. The Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Stone and Mr. Justice Reed regarded some of the issues as political and non-justiciable, passed by the question of the authority of the Lieutenant Governor to case a deciding vote, on the ground that the Court was equally divided, and took jurisdiction of the rest of the questions.

The sole common ground between Mr. Justice Butler and Mr. Justice McReynolds, on the one hand and the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Stone and Mr. Justice Reed, on the other, was on the question of jurisdiction; on the result to be reached, these two groups were divided. The agreement between Justices Roberts, Black, Frankfurter and Douglas, on the one hand, and the Chief Justice and Justices Stone and Reed, on the other, was on the result and on that part of the decision which declares certain questions political and non-justiciable.

As the annotator in American Law Reports observes, therefore going four opinions “show interestingly divergent but confusing positions of the Justices on the issues discussed. “It cites an article in 48 Yale Law Journal, 1455, amusingly entitled “Sawing a Justice in Half,” which, in the light of the divergences in the opinions rendered, aptly queries” whether the proper procedure for the Supreme Court would not have been to reverse the judgment below and direct dismissal of the suit for want of jurisdiction.” It says that these divergencies and line-ups of the justices “leave power to dictate the result and the grounds upon which the decision should be rested with the four justices who concurred in Mr. Justice Black’s opinion.” Referring to the failure of the Court to decide the question of the right of the Lieutenant Governor to vote, the article points out that from the opinions rendered the “equally divided” court would seem under any circumstances to be an equal division of an odd number of justices, and asks “What really did happen? Did a justice refuse to vote on this issue? And if he did, was it because he could not make up his mind, or is it possible to saw a justice vertically in half during the conference and have him walk away whole?” But speaking in a more serious vein, the commentator says that decision of the issue could not be avoided on grounds of irrelevance, since if the court had jurisdiction of the case, decision of the issue in favor of the petitioners would have required reversal of the judgment below regardless of the disposal of the other issues.

From this analysis the conclusion is that the concurring opinions should be considered as laying down the rule of the case.

The respondent’s other chief reliance is on the contention that a duly authenticated bill or resolution imports absolute verity and is binding on the courts. This is the rule prevailing in England. In the United States, “In point of numbers, the jurisdictions are divided almost equally pro and con the general principle (of these, two or three have changed from their original position), two or three adopted a special variety of view (as in Illinois), three or four are not clear, and one or two have not yet made their decisions.” (IV Wigmore on Evidence, 3d Edition, 685, footnote.) It is important to bear in mind, in this connection, that the United States Supreme Court is on the side of those which favor the rule. (Harwood vs. Wentworth, 40 Law. ed., 1069; Lyon vs. Wood, 38 Law. ed., 854; Field vs. Clark, 36 Law. ed., 294.)

If for no other reason than that it conforms to the expressed policy of our law making body, we choose to follow the rule. Section 313 of the old Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2210, provides: “Official documents may be proved as follows: . . . (2) the proceedings of the Philippine Commission, or of any legislative body that may be provided for in the Philippine Islands, or of Congress, by the journals of those bodies or of either house thereof, or by published statutes or resolutions, or by copies certified by the clerk or secretary, or printed by their order; Provided, That in the case of Acts of the Philippine Commission or the Philippine Legislature, when there is an existence of a copy signed by the presiding officers and secretaries of said bodies, it shall be conclusive proof of the provisions of such Acts and of the due enactment thereof.”

But there is more than statutory sanction for conclusiveness.

This topic has been the subject of a great number of decisions and commentaries written with evident vehemence. Arguments for and against the rule have been extensive and exhaustive. It would be presumptuous on our part to pretend to add more, even if we could, to what has already been said. Which such vast mass of cases to guide our judgment and discretion, our labor is reduced to an intelligent selection and borrowing of materials and arguments under the criterion of adaptability to a sound public policy.

The reasons adduced in support of enrollment as contrasted with those which opposed it are, in our opinion, almost decisive. Some of these reasons are summarized in 50 American Jurisprudence, section 150 as follows:

SEC. 150. Reasons for Conclusiveness. — It has been declared that the rule against going behind the enrolled bill is required by the respect due to a coequal and independent department of the government, and it would be an inquisition into the conduct of the members of the legislature, a very delicate power, the frequent exercise of which must lead to endless confusion in the administration of the law. The rule is also one of convenience, because courts could not rely on the published session laws, but would be required to look beyond these to the journals of the legislature and often to any printed bills and amendments which might be found after the adjournment of the legislature. Otherwise, after relying on the prima facie evidence of the enrolled bills, authenticated as exacted by the Constitution, for years, it might be ascertained from the journals that an act theretofore enforced had never become a law. In this respect, it has been declared that these is quite enough uncertainty as to what the law is without saying that no one may be certain that an act of the legislature has become such until the issue has been determined by some court whose decision might not be regarded as conclusive in an action between the parties.

From other decisions, selected and quoted in IV Wigmore on Evidence, 696, 697, we extract these passages:

I think the rule thus adopted accords with public policy. Indeed, in my estimation, few things would be more mischievous than the introduction of the opposite rule. . . . The rule contended for is that the Court should look at the journals of the Legislature to ascertain whether the copy of the act attested and filed with the Secretary of State conforms in its contents with the statements of such journals. This proposition means, if it has any legal value whatever, that, in the event of a material discrepancy between the journal and the enrolled copy, the former is to be taken as the standard of veracity and the act is to be rejected. This is the test which is to be applied not only to the statutes now before the Court, but to all statutes; not only to laws which have been recently passed, but to laws the most ancient. To my mind, nothing can be more certain than that the acceptance of this doctrine by the Court would unsettle the entire statute law of the State. We have before us some evidence of the little reliability of these legislative journals. . . . Can anyone deny that if the laws of the State are to be tested by a comparison with these journals, so imperfect, so unauthenticated, the stability of all written law will be shaken to its very foundations? . . . We are to remember the danger, under the prevalence of such a doctrine, to be apprehended from the intentional corruption of evidences of this character. It is scarcely too much to say that the legal existence of almost every legislative act would be at the mercy of all persons having access to these journals. . . . ([1866], Beasley, C.J., in Pangborn vs. Young, 32 N.J.L., 29, 34.)

But it is argued that if the authenticated roll is conclusive upon the Courts, then less than a quorum of each House may be the aid of corrupt presiding officers imposed laws upon the State in defiance of the inhibition of the Constitution. It must be admitted that the consequence stated would be possible. Public authority and political power must of necessity be confided to officers, who being human may violate the trusts reposed in them. This perhaps cannot be avoided absolutely. But it applies also to all human agencies. It is not fit that the Judiciary should claim for itself a purity beyond all others; nor has it been able at all times with truth to say that its high places have not been disgraced. The framers of our government have not constituted it with faculties to supervise coordinate departments and correct or prevent abuses of their authority. It cannot authenticate a statute; that power does not belong to it; nor can it keep a legislative journal. (1869, Frazer, J., in Evans vs. Brownem 30 Ind., 514, 524.)

Professor Wigmore in his work on Evidence — considered a classic, and described by one who himself is a noted jurist, author, and scholar, as “a permanent contribution to American law” and having “put the matured nineteenth-century law in form to be used in a new era of growth” — unequivocally identifies himself with those who believe in the soundness of the rule. The distinguished professor, in answer to the argument of Constitutional necessity, i.e., the impossibility of securing in any other way the enforcement of constitutional restrictions on legislative action, says:

(1) In the first place, note that it is impossible of consistent application. If, as it is urged, the Judiciary are bound to enforce the constitutional requirements of three readings, a two-thirds vote, and the like, and if therefore an act must be declared no law which in fact was not read three times or voted upon by two-thirds, this duty is a duty to determine according to the actual facts of the readings and the votes. Now the journals may not represent the actual facts. That duty cannot allow us to stop with the journals, if it can be shown beyond doubt that the facts were otherwise than therein represented. The duty to uphold a law which in fact was constitutionally voted upon is quite as strong as the duty to repudiate an act unconstitutionally voted upon. The Court will be going as far wrong in repudiating an act based on proper votes falsified in the journal as it will be in upholding an act based on improper votes falsified in the enrollment. This supposed duty, in short, is to see that the constitutional facts did exist; and it cannot stop short with the journals. Yet, singularly enough, it is unanimously conceded that an examination into facts as provable by the testimony of members present is not allowable. If to support that it be said that such an inquiry would be too uncertain and impracticable, then it is answered that this concedes the supposed constitutional duty not to be inexorable, after all; for if the duty to get at the facts is a real and inevitable one, it must be a duty to get at them at any cost; and if it is merely a duty that is limited by policy and practical convenience, then the argument changes into the second one above, namely, how far it is feasible to push the inquiry with regard to policy and practical convenience; and from this point of view there can be but one answer.

(2) In the second place, the fact that the scruple of constitutional duty is treated thus inconsistently and pushed only up to a certain point suggests that it perhaps is based on some fallacious assumption whose defect is exposed only by carrying it to its logical consequences. Such indeed seems to be the case. It rests on the fallacious motion that every constitutional provision is “per se” capable of being enforced through the Judiciary and must be safeguarded by the Judiciary because it can be in no other way. Yet there is certainly a large field of constitutional provision which does not come before the Judiciary for enforcement, and may remain unenforced without any possibility or judicial remedy. It is not necessary to invoke in illustration such provisions as a clause requiring the Governor to appoint a certain officer, or the Legislature to pass a law for a certain purpose; here the Constitution may remain unexecuted by the failure of Governor or Legislature to act, and yet the Judiciary cannot safeguard and enforce the constitutional duty. A clearer illustration may be had by imagining the Constitution to require the Executive to appoint an officer or to call out the militia whenever to the best of his belief a certain state of facts exists; suppose he appoints or calls out when in truth he has no such belief; can the Judiciary attempt to enforce the Constitution by inquiring into his belief? Or suppose the Constitution to enjoin on the Legislators to pass a law upon a certain subject whenever in their belief certain conditions exist; can the Judiciary declare the law void by inquiring and ascertaining that the Legislature, or its majority, did not have such a belief? Or suppose the Constitution commands the Judiciary to decide a case only after consulting a soothsayer, and in a given case the Judiciary do not consult one; what is to be done?

These instances illustrate a general situation in which the judicial function of applying and enforcing the Constitution ceases to operate. That situation exists where the Constitution enjoins duties which affect the motives and judgment of a particular independent department of government, — Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary. Such duties are simply beyond enforcement by any other department if the one charged fails to perform them. The Constitution may provide that no legislator shall take a bribe, but an act would not be treated as void because the majority had been bribed. So far as the Constitution attempts to lay injunctions in matters leading up to and motivating the action of a department, injunctions must be left to the conscience of that department to obey or disobey. Now the act of the Legislature as a whole is for this purpose of the same nature as the vote of a single legislator. The Constitution may expressly enjoin each legislator not to vote until he has carefully thought over the matter of legislation; so, too, it may expressly enjoin the whole Legislature not to act finally until it has three times heard the proposition read aloud. It is for the Legislature alone, in the latter case as well as in the former, to take notice of this injunction; and it is no more the function of the Judiciary in the one case than in the other to try to keep the Legislature to its duty:

x x x           x x x           x x x

The truth is that many have been carried away with the righteous desire to check at any cost the misdoings of Legislatures. They have set such store by the Judiciary for this purpose that they have almost made them a second and higher Legislature. But they aim in the wrong direction. Instead of trusting a faithful Judiciary to check an inefficient Legislature, they should turn to improve the legislature. The sensible solution is not to patch and mend casual errors by asking the Judiciary to violate legal principle and to do impossibilities with the Constitution; but to represent ourselves with competent, careful, and honest legislators, the work of whose hands on the statute-roll may come to reflect credit upon the name of popular government. (4 Wigmore on Evidence, 699-702.)

The petitioners contend that the enrolled bill rule has not found acceptance in this jurisdiction, citing the case of United States vs. Pons (34 Phil., 729). It is argued that this Court examined the journal in that case to find out whether or not the contention of the appellant was right. We think the petitioners are in error.

It will be seen upon examination of section 313 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2210, that, roughly, it provides two methods of proving legislative proceedings: (1) by the journals, or by published statutes or resolutions, or by copies certified by the clerk or secretary or printed by their order; and (2) in case of acts of the Legislature, by a copy signed by the presiding officers and secretaries thereof, which shall be conclusive proof of the provisions of such Acts and of the due enactment thereof.

The Court looked into the journals in United States vs. Pons because, in all probability, those were the documents offered in evidence. It does not appear that a duly authenticated copy of the Act was in existence or was placed before the Court; and it has not been shown that if that had been done, this Court would not have held the copy conclusive proof of the due enactment of the law. It is to be remembered that the Court expressly stated that it “passed over the question” of whether the enrolled bill was conclusive as to its contents and the mode of its passage.

Even if both the journals and an authenticated copy of the Act had been presented, the disposal of the issue by the Court on the basis of the journals does not imply rejection of the enrollment theory, for, as already stated, the due enactment of a law may be proved in either of the two ways specified in section 313 of Act No. 190 as amended. This Court found in the journals no signs of irregularity in the passage of the law and did not bother itself with considering the effects of an authenticated copy if one had been introduced. It did not do what the opponents of the rule of conclusiveness advocate, namely, look into the journals behind the enrolled copy in order to determine the correctness of the latter, and rule such copy out if the two, the journals and the copy, be found in conflict with each other. No discrepancy appears to have been noted between the two documents and the court did not say or so much as give to understand that if discrepancy existed it would give greater weight to the journals, disregarding the explicit provision that duly certified copies “shall be conclusive proof of the provisions of such Acts and of the due enactment thereof.”

In view of the foregoing consideration, we deem it unnecessary to decide the question of whether the senators and representatives who were ignored in the computation of the necessary three-fourths vote were members of Congress within the meaning of section 1 of Article XV of the Philippine Constitution.

The petition is DISMISSED without costs.

Moran, C.J., Pablo, and Hontiveros, JJ., concur.


Justice Bengzon: Concurring Opinion

Justice Hilado: Concurring and Dissenting Opinion

Justice Paras: Concurring Opinion

Justice Perfecto: Dissenting Opinion

Justice Briones: Dissenting Opinion

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