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EN BANC

[G.R. No. 127255. June 26, 1998]

JOKER P. ARROYO, EDCEL C. LAGMAN, JOHN HENRY R. OSMEA, WIGBERTO E. TAADA, and
RONALDO B. ZAMORA, petitioners,

vs.

JOSE DE VENECIA, RAUL DAZA, RODOLFO ALBANO, THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE
SECRETARY OF FINANCE, AND THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL
REVENUE, respondents.

RESOLUTION

MENDOZA, J.:

Facts:
There lies a petition before there Court challenging the validity of RA 8240, amending certain provision of the National
Internal Revenue Code. JOKER P. ARROYO, EDCEL C. LAGMAN, JOHN HENRY R. OSMEA, WIGBERTO E.
TAADA, and RONALDO B. ZAMORA, who are all member of the House of Representatives served as the
petitioners, claimed that there was a blatant violation of the standing rules of the house which they deem
constitutionally-mandated thus leading to the conclusion that the violation in the rules was tantamount to a violation
of the Constitution.

The tale of RA 8240 started in the House of Representatives. . The Senate approved it bearing certain amendments.
Then, a bicameral conference committee was formed to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the House and Senate
versions of the bill. The bicameral committee submitted its report to the House.

During the interpellations, Rep. Arroyo made an interruption and moved to adjourn for lack of quorum. But after
a roll call, the Chair declared the presence of a quorum. The interpellation then proceeded. After Rep. Arroyos
interpellation of the sponsor of the committee report, Majority Leader Albano moved for the approval and ratification
of the conference committee report. The Chair called out for objections to the motion. Then the Chair declared: There
being none, approved. At the same time the Chair was saying this, Rep. Arroyo was asking, What is thatMr.
Speaker? The Chair and Rep. Arroyo were talking simultaneously. Thus, although Rep. Arroyo subsequently
objected to the Majority Leaders motion, the approval of the conference committee report had by then already been
declared by the Chair.

Issue:
Whether or not RA 8240 is null and void because it was passed in violation of the rules of the House.

Held:
Rules of each House of Congress are hardly permanent in character. They are subject to revocation, modification or
waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them as they are primarily procedural. Courts ordinarily have no concern
with their observance. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body. Consequently, mere failure to
conform to them does not have the effect of nullifying the act taken if the requisite number of members has agreed
to a particular measure. But this is subject to qualification. Where the construction to be given to a rule affects
person other than members of the legislative body, the question presented is necessarily judicial in character. Even
its validity is open to question in a case where private rights are involved.

In the case, no rights of private individuals are involved but only those of a member who, instead of seeking redress
in the House, chose to transfer the dispute to the Court.
The matter complained of concerns a matter of internal procedure of the House with which the Court should not be
concerned. The claim is not that there was no quorum but only that Rep. Arroyo was effectively prevented fro m
questioning the presence of a quorum. Rep. Arroyos earlier motion to adjourn for lack of quorum had already been
defeated, as the roll call established the existence of a quorum. The question of quorum cannot be raised repeatedly
especially when the quorum is obviously present for the purpose of delaying the business of the House.

In view of the Courts jurisdiction

This Court's function is merely to check whether or not the governmental branch or agency has
gone beyond the constitutional limits of its jurisdiction, not that it erred or has a different view. In
the absence of a showing . . . of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, there
is no occasion for the Court to exercise its corrective power. . . . It has no power to look into what
it thinks is apparent error. If, then, the established rule is that courts cannot declare an act of the
legislature void on account merely of noncompliance with rules of procedure made by itself, it
follows that such a case does not present a situation in which a branch of the government has
"gone beyond the constitutional limits of its jurisdiction".

In view of House Rules

No rule of the House of Representatives has been cited which specifically requires that in cases
such as this involving approval of a conference committee report, the Chair must restate the
motion and conduct a viva voce or nominal voting.

Nor does the Constitution require that the yeas and the nays of the Members be taken every time a
House has to vote, except only in the following instances: upon the last and third readings of a
bill, at the request of one-fifth of the Members present, and in repassing a bill over the veto of the
President.

In view of grave abuse

Indeed, the phrase "grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" has a
settled meaning in the jurisprudence of procedure. It means such capricious and whimsical
exercise of judgment by a tribunal exercising judicial or quasi judicial power as to amount to lack
of power.

In view of the enrolled bill doctrine

Under the enrolled bill doctrine, the signing of H. No. 7198 by the Speaker of the House and the
President of the Senate and the certification by the secretaries of both Houses of Congress that it
was passed on November 21, 1996 are conclusive of its due enactment.

This Court quoted from Wigmore on Evidence the following excerpt which embodies good, if old-
fashioned democratic theory: 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.

]
(In view of justiciability according to PUNO, J.)

With due respect, I do not agree that the issues posed by the petitioner are non-justiciable. Nor do I
agree that we will trivialize the principle of separation of power if we assume jurisdiction over the
case at bar. Even in the United States, the principle of separation of power is no longer an
impregnable impediment against the interposition of judicial power on cases involving breach of
rules of procedure by legislators.

The Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings. It may not by its
rules ignore constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights, and there should be a
reasonable relation between the mode or method of proceedings established by the rule and the
result which is sought to be attained. But within these limitations all matters of method are open to
the determination of the House, and it is no impeachment of the rule to say that some other way
would be better, more accurate, or even more just.