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Memorandum No. 1177
October 29 2010
In Re: Request for a Declaratory Decision from a Majority of the Bishops of the Philippines Central Conference Regarding Actions Taken by a Philippines Central Conference Committee on Investigation on a Judicial Complaint Against an Incumbent Bishop with Reference to ¶¶ 2706 and 2712
A majority of the bishops of the Philippines Central Conference has asked the Judicial Council to rule on the legality of actions taken by the Philippines Central Conference Committee on Investigation regarding a judicial complaint filed by Counsel for the Church against incumbent Bishop Lito C. Tangonan. A Committee on Investigation was convened pursuant to ¶ 2706 to consider charges and specifications. The bishops’ petition alleges that the Committee on Investigation voted to certify six specifications for judicial trial but refused to refer a charge based on the specifications. The Committee on Investigation did not record a vote as to two other charges that were before the Committee. Under ¶ 2610 of the 2008 Discipline, the Judicial Council has jurisdiction to make a ruling in the nature of a declaratory decision as to the constitutionality, meaning, application, or effect of the Discipline or any portion thereof. The Judicial Council has jurisdiction to hear a petition for a declaratory decision from a majority of the bishops assigned to any central conference on matters relating to or affecting the central conferences or the work therein. The petition presented seeks a ruling as to the legality of the work of the Committee on Investigation, rather than a ruling as to the constitutionality, meaning, application or effect of the Discipline. Counsel for the Church has also filed a petition for a declaratory decision seeking Judicial Council review of the actions of the Committee on Investigation. Counsel for the Church is not authorized under ¶ 2610 to petition the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision. We have no jurisdiction to consider his petition. The Committee on Investigation has yet to complete its work, as the petition states that no vote has been taken on the second and third charges. The Judicial Council has no jurisdiction to conduct an interim review of the proceedings before the Committee on Investigation. The Judicial Council’s jurisdiction in this context is limited to appellate review of completed trial proceedings.