Adoption of the Rules of the Ethics Committee by the Senate Committee of the Whole
Petitioners allege that the adoption of the Rules of the Ethics Committee by the Senate Committee of the Whole is violative of Senator Villar’s right to due process.
We do not agree.
Again, we reiterate that, considering the circumstances of this case, the referral of the investigation by the Ethics Committee to the Senate Committee of the Whole is an extraordinary remedy that does not violate Senator Villar’s right to due process. In the same manner, the adoption by the Senate Committee of the Whole of the Rules of the Ethics Committee does not violate Senator Villar’s right to due process.
The Constitutional right of the Senate to promulgate its own rules of proceedings has been recognized and affirmed by this Court. Thus:
First. Section 16(3), Article VI of the Philippine Constitution states: “Each House shall determine the rules of its proceedings.”
This provision has been traditionally construed as a grant of full discretionary authority to the House of Congress in the formulation, adoption and promulgation of its own rules. As such, the exercise of this power is generally exempt from judicial supervision and interference, except on a clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of the power as will constitute a denial of due process.
x x x. The issue partakes of the nature of a political question which, under the Constitution, is to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government. Further, pursuant to his constitutional grant of virtually unrestricted authority to determine its own rules, the Senate is at liberty to alter or modify these rules at any time it may see fit, subject only to the imperatives of quorum, voting and publication.23
The only limitation to the power of Congress to promulgate its own rules is the observance of quorum, voting, and publication when required. As long as these requirements are complied with, the Court will not interfere with the right of Congress to amend its own rules.
Incidentally, we note that Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole30 is an exact reproduction of Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges31 which states that the Ethics Committee shall be composed of seven members, contrary to the fact that the Senate Committee of the Whole consists of all members of the Senate. In addition, Section 5(B), Rule 1 of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole32 is an exact reproduction of Section 5(B), Rule 1 of the Rules of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges33 which states that only two members of the Ethics Committee shall constitute a quorum, contrary to respondent’s allegation in its Comment that eight members of the Senate Committee of the Whole shall constitute a quorum.34
However, if the Senate is constituted as a Committee of the Whole, a majority of the Senate is required to constitute a quorum to do business pursuant to Section 16(2), Article VI of the Constitution.35 Otherwise, there will be a circumvention of this express provision of the Constitution on quorum requirement. Obviously, the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole require modification to comply with requirements of quorum and voting which the Senate must have overlooked in this case. In any event, in case of conflict between the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole and the Constitution, the latter will of course prevail.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition in part. The referral of the complaint by the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to the Senate Committee of the Whole shall take effect only upon publication of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole.