This is an action to test the title to the office of judge of the Court of First Instance of the Eighth Judicial District, comprising the Provinces of Bataan and Zambales. The complainant alleges that on or about the 1st day of July, 1914, he was duly named and appointed judge of the Court of First Instance of the Eighth Judicial District of Philippine Islands, comprising the Provinces of Bataan and Zambales, by the Governor-General, by and with the advice and consent of the Philippine Commission; that he duly qualified and entered upon the discharge of the duties thereof on the said 1st day of July, 1914, in conformity with Act No. 2347 under which he was named; that the defendant has usurped, intruded into and taken possession of the said office of judge of the Court of First Instance of the Eighth Judicial District and is now exercising the functions of said office; that the plaintiff has not resigned his office, nor has he been removed therefrom.
The answer denies several of the allegations of the complaint and alleges as a special defense that the plaintiff on or before the 9th of October, 1915, completed his sixty-fifth year and that, by reason of section 7 of Act No. 2347, which provides that no person shall be capable of holding the office of judge of the Court of First Instance of the Philippine Islands after he has completed his sixty-fifth year, the said plaintiff, on the said 9th of October 1915, ipso facto ceased to be judge of the Court of First Instance of that district and that the office thereupon became vacant. The answer further alleges that the defendant was duly named and appointed judge of the Court of First Instance of the said Eighth Judicial District on the 19th day of October, 1915, by the Governor-General, by and with the advise and consent of the Philippine commission, in place and stead of the said plaintiff; and that the defendant duly qualified as such judge and entered upon the discharge of the duties of his office and still continues therein.
The plaintiff demurred to the answer on the ground that it did not state facts sufficient to constitute a defense, the reason alleged therefor being that said section 7 of Act No. 2347 is incompatible with, and contrary to, the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, and act No. 136 of the Philippine Commission, and is, therefore, null and void.
The only question presented to this court is that of whether or not section 7 of Act No. 2347 is in violation of, or contrary to, the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902. The claim that it is also in violation of Act No. 136 of the Philippine Commission is urged on the theory that the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, ratified and made a part thereof Act No. 136 of the Philippine Commission; and that, therefore, any Act of the Philippine Legislature repugnant to Act No. 136 is as null and void as though it were repugnant to the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, itself.
We do not believe the contention of the plaintiff can be sustained. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the Philippine Legislature has the same powers in the Philippine Islands, within the sphere in which it may operate, as Congress itself (Tiaco v. Forbes, 228 U.S., 549); and it has strongly intimated that when an Act of the Philippine Legislature is reported to Congress and has not been annulled by that body it is a lawfully and valid Act. By this it is not meant to say, as we understand it, that the Philippine Legislature can pass a valid law which is in violation of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, or of any other Act of Congress; or that it can legislate in a field which Congress has already occupied by appropriate legislation (U.S. v. Bull, 15 Phil. Rep., 7). In the Bull case we held that an Act of the legislative authority of the Philippine Government which has not been expressly disapproved by Congress is valid, unless its subject-matter has been covered by congressional legislation or its enactment forbidden by some provision of the Organic Law; and that the reservation by Congress (Act of July 1, 1902) of the power to suspend valid Acts of the Philippine Commission and Legislature does not operate to suspend such Acts until approve by Congress, or when approved, make them laws of Congress. They are valid Acts of the Government of the Philippine Islands until annulled.
It is maintained by plaintiff, however, that Congress has already legislated on the question of the qualifications of judges of the Court of First Instance of the Philippine Islands, and that the Philippine Legislature is, therefore acting beyond its authority in dealing with the same subject matter. that provision of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, on which plaintiff relies is the latter part of section 9. It provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . The judges of the Court of First Instance shall be appointed by the Civil Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Philippine Commission: . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library
Plaintiff argues that, at the time this Act went into effect, Act No. 136 of the Philippine Commission was on existence, which defined the qualifications which a person must have in order to be eligible to the office of judge of the Court of First Instance; that that portion of Act No. 136 must be held to have been impliedly adopted by Congress, inasmuch as it must be considered that it acted in view of the conditions existent at that time. This appears to us to be going a long way. It seems to have been the intention of Congress to leave that question untouched and open. This is apparent from the wording of the section itself, as it is entirely devoid of any word or phrase from which such an inference can be drawn; and it may also be inferred from the fact that Congress, in the Act referred to, in dealing with the jurisdiction of the courts of the Philippine Islands, made express reference to the jurisdiction they then had under existing laws, and established that jurisdiction so that it could not thereafter be changed except by way of enlargement. If Congress had intended by the Act of July 1, 1902, to fix the qualifications of judges of the Court of First Instance it would undoubtedly have taken the same course to do so that it did with respect to the jurisdiction of the courts, namely, by express reference to existing laws which fixed the qualification which the candidate must posses. Congress did not do so; and we are unable to find any basis upon which we can hold that it intended to do so. Moreover, prescribing the method of appointment does not involve necessarily or even remotely the qualifications of the judge. It is true that the power of appointment is closely connected with the qualifications of the person to be appointed; but they are no so closely connected that it may be said that when Congress enters one field it thereby excludes the Philippine Legislature from the other. we believe that the two question are so separate, both by nature and by form, that the fact that Congress has legislated with regard to the one does not thereby prohibit the Philippine Legislature from legislating as to the other.
Although the question is not raised or argued, we have not overlooked the importance of the fact that the Governor-General in a sense the direct representative of the American Government in the Philippine Islands, that his appointment comes from the President of the United Stated, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and that some of his powers have been fixed by Congress; and that accordingly, the Philippine Legislature is approaching a situation of some delicacy when it seeks to legislate with respect to his office or his powers and functions. We do not believe, however, that the case before us presents such features as would necessitate a discussion of the various questions which might arise in connection with legislation of that character.
It must be held therefore, that the plaintiff on having completed his sixty-fifth year ceased to be judge of the Court of First Instance of that district by virtue of the provisions of section 7 of Act No. 2347 heretofore referred to, which is set out in full in the footnote; 1 that the defendant was duly appointed Judge of the Court of First Instance of the Eighth Judicial District; that he duly qualified and entered upon the discharge of the duties of his office and now continues therein; and that he is entitled to retain said office as against plaintiff.
The demurrer to the answer is, therefore, overruled and the cause will proceed as provided by law. So ordered.
, Torres and Trent, JJ.
, reserves his vote.
1. Sec. 7. Of the appointment of the judge and auxiliary judges of Courts of First Instance. — The district judges and auxiliary judges of Courts of First Instance shall be appointed by the Governor-General, with the advice and consent of the Philippine Commission to serve, subject to the provisions of sections eight and nine hereof until they have reached the age of sixty-five years: Provided, That no person shall be appointed to said positions unless he has practiced law in these Islands or in the United States for a period of not less than five years or has held during a like period, within the Philippine Islands or within the United States an office requiring a lawyer’s diploma as an indispensable requisite: Provided further, That before assuming such judicial office he shall qualify as a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands if he has not already done so: And provided, further, That the present judges of Courts of First Instance, judges at large, and judges of the Court of Land Registration vacate their positions on the taking effect of this Act; and the Governor-General, with the advice and consent of the Philippine Commission, shall make new appointments of judges of the Courts of First Instance and auxiliary judges in accordance with the provisions of this Act, taking into account, in making said appointments, the services rendered by the present judges.)