In the September 17, 1935 election, Jose A. Angara, and respondents Pedro Ynsua, et al., were candidates for the position of Member of the National Assembly for the first district of the Province of Tayabas.
The provincial board of canvassers proclaimed the petitioner as member-elect of the National Assembly for the said district, for having received the most number of votes.
Petitioner thus, took his oath accordingly.
On December 3, 1935, the National Assembly passed Resolution No. 8 confirming the election of the members against whom no protest has been duly presented before the adoption of said resolution.
On December 8, 1935, Pedro Ynsua filed before the Electoral Commission a “Motion of Protest” against the election of petitioner Angara.
On December 9, 1935, the Electoral Commission adopted a resolution, stating that the Commission will not consider any protest that has not been presented on or before this day.
Angara filed before the Electoral Commission a “Motion to Dismiss the Protest”, alleging that Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly was adopted in the legitimate exercise of its constitutional prerogative to prescribe the period during which protests against the election of its members should be presented, and that the protest in question was filed out of the prescribed period.
Ultimately, the Electoral Commission denied herein petitioner’s “Motion to Dismiss the Protest.”
Hence, this petition for the issuance of a writ of prohibition to restrain and prohibit the Electoral Commission from taking further cognizance of the protest filed by Ynsua.
Whether or not the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and the subject matter of the controversy.
The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not through express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own sphere.
But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government.
In cases of conflict, 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.
And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.
This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed “judicial supremacy” which properly is the power of judicial review under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis mota presented.
That the Electoral Commission is an independent constitutional creation with specific powers and functions to execute and perform, closer for purposes of classification to the legislative than to any of the other two departments of the government.
Thus, the Court concluded:
That the Electoral Commission is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly.
That the present Constitution has transferred all the powers previously exercised by the legislature with respect to contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of its members, to the Electoral Commission.
That such transfer of power from the legislature to the Electoral Commission was full, clear and complete, and carried with it ex necesitate rei the implied power inter alia to prescribe the rules and regulations as to the time and manner of filing protests.
That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member against whom no protest had been filed prior to said confirmation, does not and cannot deprive the Electoral Commission of its incidental power to prescribe the time within which protests against the election of any member of the National Assembly should be filed.
We hold, therefore, that the Electoral Commission was acting within the legitimate exercise of its constitutional prerogative in assuming to take cognizance of the protest filed by the respondent Pedro Ynsua against the election of the herein petitioner Jose A. Angara, and that the resolution of the National Assembly of December 3,1935 can not in any manner toll the time for filing protests against the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, nor prevent the filing of a protest within such time as the rules of the Electoral Commission might prescribe.