Poll protest tribunal eyed as special court in proposed constitution

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The 19-member committee to review the 1987 Constitution was created by President Rodrigo Duterte in January.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — The committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution is eyeing a fourth court to improve the efficiency of the judiciary, aside from the three high courts they earlier proposed.

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, who is a member of the Constitutional Committee, told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday the proposed fourth court would handle election protests only.

"Although not the level of the Supreme Court, we are proposing that all election contests involving the President, the Vice President, Senators, Members of the House, House of Representatives, and Regional and governors and that, be resolved by a Special Electoral Tribunal," Nachura said.

Nachura said the Special Electoral Tribunal, will be composed of 15 members: five Presidential appointees including the Presiding Justice, five appointees by Congress' Commission on Appointments, and five appointees by the proposed Federal Constitutional Court.

Under the charter, poll protests for various national positions should be filed before their respective electoral tribunals.

"The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice- President, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose," as stated in Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution.

Republic Act 1793 mandates the high court as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal for election protests covering the position of President and Vice President.

The Senate and House of Representatives also have their own respective Electoral Tribunals, as stated in Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.

"Each Electoral Tribunal shall be composed of nine Members, three of whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining six shall be Members of the Senate or the House of Representatives," the charter read.

Nachura said setting up the three high courts — the Federal Supreme Court, Federal Constitutional Court, and Federal Administrative Court — will make the judicial system more efficient.

"This is really intended to declog the case load of the Supreme Court," Nachura said. "If we declog the case load of the Supreme Court and we give these other cases to the other courts, I think mapabibilis naman (ang mga kaso) [the cases will be resolved quicker]."