Mabanag vs Lopez Vito

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Political Law – Amendment to the Constitution

Petitioners include 3 senators and 8 representatives. The three senators were suspended by senate due to election irregularities. The 8 representatives were not allowed to take their seat in the lower House except in the election of the House Speaker.  They argued that some senators and House Reps were not considered in determining the required ¾ vote (of each house) in order to pass the Resolution (proposing amendments to the Constitution)* – which has been considered as an **enrolled bill by then.  At the same time, the votes were already entered into the Journals of the respective House. As a result, the Resolution was passed but it could have been otherwise were they allowed to vote. Petitioners pray that the said resolution be prevented. Respondents argue that the same can no longer be prevented as entered in the Journals. The Journal of each house is conclusive to the courts.

*this is in contrast to Art 15 of the Constitution as well

ISSUE: Whether or not the Court can take cognizance of the issue at bar.

HELD: 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 I 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 in dependent 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 then into that of ratification. On the other hand, as far as looking into the Journals is concerned, 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.”

**Enrolled Bill – that which has been duly introduced, finally passed by both houses, signed by the proper officers of each, approved by the president and filed by the secretary of state.

 

Read full text here.

Read another version of this digest here (Enrolled Bill; Journal).

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