Monday, March 12, 2012

Bondoc vs. Pineda

Facts: Pineda from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and Bondoc of the Nacionalista Party (NP) were rival candidates for Rep of the 4th district of Pampanga. Pineda was proclaimed winner of the election. Bondoc filed protest to house of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET). The decision held that Bondoc won over Pineda by a margin of 23 votes. The LDP insisted a recount and the recount has increased Bondoc’s win by 107 votes. So congressman Camasura voted with the SC justices and Congressman Cerilles proclaimed Bondoc the winner of the Camasura being a member of the LDP revealed to the chief congressman Conjuanco that he voted for Bondoc and he did so in view of what was in line with truth justice and self respect. The revelation prompted efforts by the LDP to neutralize pro-Bondoc majority in the Tribunal. So on the eve of promulgation of Bondoc’s win, Congress man Jose Conjuangco thru a letter stated that Camasura and Bautista were being expelled for the LDP for allegedly helping in the organization of Partido Pilipino of Danding cojuanco and for having members of LDP join said pol party. The LDP informed Herrera that they were no longer part of LDP hence; his (Camasura’s) vote in favor of Bondoc should be withdrawn. The judges in HRET all wanted out cause of this distressing development. They were saying that unseating should be prevented in all cost. They also said that the tribunal should not be hampered in doing its constitutional function by factors, which have nothing to do with the merits of the cases before it. The Bondoc promulgation was cancelled because the decision lack the concurrence of 5 members as required by Section 24 of the rules of the tribunal. Bondoc asked the court to annul the decision of the House in rescinding Camasura’s nomination and restrain the replacement of Camasura through a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus. 

Issue: Whether or not the House of Representatives is empowered to interfere with the disposition of an election contest in the HReT by reorganizing the representation of the majority party in the tribunal? 

Held: No. Section 17 Articles VI supplies the answer to this question.. So the HRET is the sole judge of all contests relation to the election, returns and qualification of their respective members. The operative term found in the section was “sole Judge”. It (HRET) was made to function as a non-partisan court although 2/3 of its members are politicians. It’s suppose to provide an independent and impartial tribunal for the determination of contests to legislative office devoid of partisan consideration. 

So they cant just shuffle and manipulate the political component for the electoral tribunal to serve the interests of party in power. 

Its independence would be undermined if the removal of Camasura for as a punishment for “party disloyalty” for voting for Bondoc would allow them to change the judgment of the HRET in the Bondoc case.If allowed so, then the HRET isn’t really a sole judge of senatorial elections. The members of the HRET are entitled to security of tenure just as the members of the judiciary are. They can only be replaced in cases such as expiration, death, permanent disability, resignation forms the political party, and formal affiliation with another party of any valid cause hence mere disloyalty is not a valid cause for termination. 

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