Decision Number 703
Effective Date of Creation of New Annual Conferences by the Philippines Central Conference.
The Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction.
Statement of Facts
In November of 1992, the Philippines Central Conference approved changes in Annual Conference lines and the creation of new Annual Conferences. The conference did not proceed to final adjournment, voting instead to hold an adjourned session in 1994 for the election of bishops.
In a special session of the Philippines Annual Conference, in January of 1993, a question was raised concerning the legality of organizing the new Annual Conferences, since the Central Conference session which had created them had not yet finally adjourned. In the course of the discussion, Bishop Emerito P. Nacpil announced, "As your presiding bishop, in pursuance with the Philippine Central Conference action to divide the Philippines Annual Conference into three annual conferences ...., I now declare the said Central Conference action as final and executory." The minutes record that upon motion from the floor, the conference voted to confirm the decision of the chair.
The Rev. Jose Cunanan, a clergy member of the conference, indicated his desire and intention to appeal the issue to "whatever bodies." There is no mention in the minutes of a motion to appeal, nor of any vote taken by the conference to appeal. It is recorded in the minutes that Mr. Cunanan "handed the secretary his appeal." Printed in the Conference Journal under the heading, "An Appeal to the Judicial Council," it was worded as follows: "The ruling ofthe Bishop on the question of law that the action of the Philippines Central Conference in dividing the Philippines Annual Conference into three Annual Conferences as final and executory and already implemented and confirmed by the Philippines Annual Conference in Special Session last January 30,1993."
Analysis and Rationale
There are two ways in which a bishop's ruling on a question of law may come before the Judicial Council. (1) Par. 2613 provides that the "Judicial Council shall pass upon and affirm, modify, or reverse the decisions of law made by bishops in Central, District, Annual, or Jurisdictional Conferences upon questions of law submitted to them in writing in the regular business of a session." In this case, the ruling came in response to discussion on the floor, not in response to a written question. The written material filed with the secretary was an indication of a desire to appeal, not a question to be answered by the bishop.
(2) Par. 2614 provides that the "Judicial Council shall hear and determine any appeal from a bishop's decision on a question of law made in a Central, District, Annual, or Jurisdictional Conference when said appeal has been made by one-fifth of that conference present and voting." We have no evidence that such a vote was taken in the Philippines Annual Conference.
Since the petition in the present case does not fulfill the Disciplinary requirements, the Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction.