004 Chavez v JBC
FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ vs. JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL, SEN. FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO and REP. NIEL C. TUPAS, JR., G.R. No. 202242
April 16, 2013
FACTS: The Court handed down the assailed resolution ruling that the numerical composition of the JBC is unconstitutional and enjoined the JBC to reconstitute itself so that only 1 member of the Congress will sit as a representative in its proceedings in accordance with Section 8(1), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. (Subject of MR) In 1994, instead of having only seven members, an eighth member was added to the JBC as two representatives from Congress began sitting in the JBC – one from the House of Representatives and one from the Senate, with each having one-half (1/2) of a vote. Then, the JBC En Banc, in separate meetings held in 2000 and 2001, decided to allow the representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives one full vote each. Escudero and Tupas, Jr. (respondents) simultaneously sit in the JBC as representatives of the legislature. Respondent contends that the phrase “ a representative of congress” refers that both houses of congress should have one representative each, and that these two houses are permanent and mandatory components of “congress” as part of the bicameral system of legislature. Both houses have their respective powers in performance of their duties. Art VIII Sec 8 of the constitution provides for the component of the JBC to be 7 members only with only one representative from congress. ISSUES: 1] whether the first paragraph of Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution allows more than 1 member of Congress to sit in the JBC 2] if the practice of having two (2) representatives from each House of Congress with 1 vote each is sanctioned by the Constitution. RULING: The practice is UNCONSTITUTIONAL The Framers reposed their wisdom and vision on one suprema lex to be the ultimate expression of the principles and the framework upon which government and society were to operate. Thus, in the interpretation of the constitutional provisions, the Court firmly relies on the basic postulate that the Framers mean what they say. The language used in the Constitution must be taken to have been deliberately chosen for a definite purpose. Every word employed in the Constitution must be interpreted to exude its deliberate intent which must be maintained inviolate against disobedience and defiance. What the Constitution clearly says, according to its text, compels acceptance and bars modification even by the branch tasked to interpret it. For this reason, the Court cannot accede to the argument of plain oversight in order to justify constitutional construction. In opting to use the singular letter "a" to describe "representative of Congress," the Filipino people through the Framers intended that Congress be entitled to only one (1) seat in the JBC. Had the intention been otherwise, the Constitution could have, in no uncertain terms, so provided, as can be read in its other provisions. The court held that the phrase “a representative of congress” should be construed as to having only one representative that would come from either house, not both. That the framers of the constitution only intended for one seat of the JBC to be allotted for the legislative. It is evident that the definition of “Congress” as a bicameral body refers to its primary function in government – to legislate. In the passage of laws, the Constitution is explicit in the distinction of the
role of each house in the process. The same holds true in Congress’ non-legislative powers. An interplay between the two houses is necessary in the realization of these powers causing a vivid dichotomy that the Court cannot simply discount. This, however, cannot be said in the case of JBC representation because no liaison between the two houses exists in the workings of the JBC. Hence, the term “Congress” must be taken to mean the entire legislative department. The Constitution mandates that the JBC be composed of seven (7) members only.