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Election Laws

Election Laws

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Digested election law cases
Digested election law cases

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Election Laws NALDOZA vs. LAVILLES ( 254 SCRA 286 ) ( 254 SCRA 286 ) “Election Offense, B.

Jurisdiction Over Election Offenses”

1

Facts: Complainant Alberto Naldoza, accused in the aforestated cases ran for reelection in the May 8 Barangay elections. The spouses Generoso Flame and Lucia Flame and the spouses Marlon Piedad and Rosemarie Piedad thereafter accused complainant of vote-buying in winning the election. Accordingly, the Chief of Police of Miagao with whom the charge was lodged, filed two separate complaints against Naldoza for vote-buying. Respondent examined the private complainants, adopting for the purpose the transcript of the question-and-answer type of examination conducted by the Chief of Police and sworn before him by the parties. Respondent issued an order finding probable cause to believe complainant Naldoza committed the crime charged, and respondent thereupon issued the warrants for complainant’s arrest. Subsequently, respondent issued another order, reconsidering his order, insofar as it referred the cases to the Comelec. The cases were instead remanded to the Chief of Police of Miagao, Iloilo with instructions to file the same directly with the provincial prosecutor. The warrants of arrest were lifted and complainant’s release was ordered. Issue: Whether or not there is ignorance of the law for failure to comply with Section 4 of Comelec resolution No. 2695, authorizing chiefs of police to conduct the preliminary investigation of charges for violation of the Omnibus Election Code. Held: Yes, service in the judiciary means a continuous study and research on the law from beginning to the end. A judge owes it to the public and to the legal profession to know the factual basis of the complaint and the very law he is supposed to apply to a given controversy. A reduced fine is deemed proper where there is no malice or evil intent in a judge’s actuations in unwarrantedly conducting a preliminary investigation and in ordering the issuance of warrants of arrest.

Election Laws

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KILOSBAYAN vs. COMELEC ( G.R. No. 128054, Oct. 16, 1997 ) “Election Offense, B. Jurisdiction Over Election Offenses” Facts: Special Provision No. 1 of the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) under Republic Act No. 7180, allocates a specific amount of government funds for infrastructure and other priority projects and activities. In order to be valid, the use and release of said amount should have the following mandatory requirements: (1) Approval by the President of the Philippines; (2) Release of the amount directly to the appropriate implementing agency; and (3) List of projects and activities. Respondent Cesar Sarino, the then DILG Secretary, requested for authority to negotiate, enter into, sign Memoranda of Agreements with accredited NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs) in order to utilize them to implement the projects of the CDF provided for under R.A. No. 7180. Respondent Franklin Drilon, the then Executive Secretary, granted the abovementioned request of Secretary Sarino. Such an authority was extended to all the Regional Directors of the DILG. Pursuant to the above-described authority granted him, respondent Tiburcio Relucio, on April 24, 1992, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with an accredited NGO known as the “Philippine Youth Health and Sports Development Foundation, Inc.” (PYHSDFI). COMELEC received from petitioner Kilosbayan a letter informing the former of “two serious violations of election laws,” among them that the amount of P70 million was released by the Budget Department, shortly before the elections of May 11, 1992, in favor of “PYHSDFI” a private entity, which had reportedly engaged in dirty election tricks and practices in said elections and requesting that these offenses and malpractices be investigated promptly, thoroughly, impartially, without fear of favor. Issue: Based on recommendations by the Comelec Law Department, the Commission en banc dismissed the letter-complaint for lack of evidence. Held: The constitutional and statutory mandate for the Comelec to investigate and prosecute cases of violation of election laws translates, in effect, to the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigations in cases involving election offenses for the twin purpose of filing an information in court and helping the Judge determine, in the course of preliminary inquiry, whether or not a warrant of arrest should be issued. Although only a low quantum and quality of evidence is needed to support a finding of probable cause, the same cannot be justified upon hearsay evidence that is never given any evidentiary or probative value in this jurisdiction.

Election Laws

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CORPUZ vs. TANODBAYAN ( 149 SCRA 281 ) “Election Offense, B. Jurisdiction Over Election Offenses” Facts: Petitioners were members of the Citizens Election Committee of Caba, La Union in the January 30, 1980 elections; petitioner Epifanio Castillejos was Director of the Bureau of Domestic Trade and petitioner Edgar Castillejos was then a candidate and later elected mayor in the same election. Private respondent Esteban Mangaser, an independent candidate for vice-mayor of the same municipality sent a letter to President Marcos charging the petitioners with violation of the 1978 Election Code, specifically for electioneering and / or campaigning inside the voting centers during the election. Regional Election Director of San Fernando, La Union, conducted a formal investigation and on September 29, 1981, submitted its report recommending to the Comelec the dismissal of the complaint. Private respondent Mangaser formally withdrew his charges filed with the Comelec stating his intention to refile it with the Tanodbayan. On November 26, 1981 the Comelec dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of evidence. Subsequently the assistant provincial fiscal started a preliminary investigation of a complaint filed by Mangaser with the Tanodbayan against the same parties and on the same charges previously dismissed by the Comelec. The Tanodbayan asserted exclusive authority to prosecute the case, stated in a letter to the Comelec Chairman that a lawyer of the Comelec if not properly deputized as a Tanodbayan prosecutor has not authority to conduct preliminary investigation s and prosecute offenses committed by Comelec officials in relation to their office. Issue: Whether or not the Tanodbayan has exclusive jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute election offenses. Held: Comelec, not the Tanodbayan, or Sandiganbayan, has exclusive jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute election offenses committed by a private individual or public officer or employee. Nature of the offense, not the personality of the offender, is important.

Election Laws COMELEC vs. NOYNAY ( 292 SCRA 254 ) “Election Offense, B. Jurisdiction Over Election Offenses”

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Facts: In an Order issued on 25 August 1997, respondent Judge Tomas B. Noynay, as presiding judge of Branch 23, motu proprio ordered the records of the cases to be withdrawn and directed the Comelec Law Department to file the cases with the appropriate Municipal Trial Court on the ground that pursuant to Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129 as amended by R.A. no. 7691, the Regional Trial Court has no jurisdiction over the cases since the maximum imposable penalty in each of the cases does not exceed six years of imprisonment. Issue: Whether or not R.A. No. 7691 has divested Regional Trial Courts or jurisdiction over election offenses, which are punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding six years. Held: By virtue of the exception provided for in opening sentence of section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129, the exclusive original jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Courts does not cover those criminal cases which by specific provisions of law fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and of the Sandiganbayan, regardless of the penalty prescribed therefor. Pursuant to Section 268 of the Omnibus Election Code, election offenses also fall within the exception provided for in the opening sentence of Section 32 of Batas Pambansa 129. Republic Act 7691 can by no means be considered as a special law on jurisdiction – it is merely an amendatory law intended to amend specific sections of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 and it does not have the effect of repealing laws vesting upon the Regional trial Courts or the Sandiganbayan exclusive original jurisdiction to heart and decide the cases therein specified. Congress may thus provide by law that a certain class of cases should be exclusively heard and determined by one court. Such law would be a special law and must be construed as an exception to the general law on jurisdiction of courts. However, Congress never intended that R. A. no. 7691 should repeal such special provisions is indubitably evident from the fact that it did not touch at all the opening sentence of Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129 providing for the exception.

Election Laws PEOPLE vs. REYES ( 247 SCRA 328 ) “Election Offense, A. Election Offenses”

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Facts: Respondent Buenaventura C. Maniego, Collector of Customs, Collection District II, Manila International Container Port (MICP) Customs Personnel Order assigned Jovencio D. Ebio, Customs Operation Chief, MICP to the Office of the Deputy Collector of Customs for Operations as Special Assistant. Ebio filed with the Comelec a letter – complaint protesting his transfer. Ebio claimed that his new assignment violated Comelec Resolution No. 2333 and Section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881, the Omnibus Election Code, which prohibit the transfer of any employee in the civil service 120 days before the May 11, 1992 synchronized national and local elections. Before the arraignment, respondent Maniego moved to quash the information on the ground that the facts alleged do not constitute an offense. He contended that the transfer of Ebio on January 14, 1992 did not violate B.P. Blg. 881 because on that date the act was not yet punishable as an election offense. It purportedly became punishable only on January 15, 1992, the date of effectivity of Comelec Resolution No. 2333 implementing Section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881. The trial court granted private respondent’s motion to quash and dismissed the criminal case. Issue: Whether or not transfer is violative of section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881. Held: Section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881 does not per se outlaw the transfer of a government officer or employee during the election period. If done to promote efficiency in the government service. Hence, Section 2 of Resolution No. 2333 provides that the Comelec has to pass upon the reason for the proposed transfer or detail. Prescinding from this predicate, two elements must be established to prove a violation of Section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881, viz: (1) The fact of transfer or detail of a public officer or employee within the election period as fixed by the Comelec; and (2) The transfer or detail was effected without prior approval of the Comelec in accordance with its implementing rules and regulations. An officer cannot be held liable for violation of Section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881, a penal provision, before the effectivity of Comelec Resolution No. 2333 promulgating the necessary implementing rules.

Election Laws MAPPALA vs. NUÑEZ ( 240 SCRA 600 ) “Election Offense, A. Election Offenses”

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Facts: This is an administrative complaint filed by Jacinto Mappala against Judge Crispulo A. Nuñez, the presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 22, Cabangan, Isabela for gross inefficiency, serious misconduct and violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics. In his decision, respondent found that Alejandro shot complainant inside Precinct No. 2, located at the elementary school building in Sto. Tomas, Isabela, during the barangay elections. Respondent also found that Alejandro was the one who surrendered the gun. To respondent, the surrender of the weapon was an implied admission that it was the one used by Alejandro in shooting complainant. Inspite of all these findings, respondent acquitted Alejandro of illegally carrying a deadly weapon inside a precinct on the theory that the gun was not seized from him while he was inside the precinct. Issue: Whether or not respondent Judge erred in ruling that Alejandro was not in violation of illegal possession of firearms. Held: To support a conviction under Sec. 261 (p) of the Omnibus Election Code, is not necessary that the deadly weapon should have been seized from the accused while he was in the precinct or within a radius of 100 meters therefrom, as it is enough that he carried the deadly weapon “in the polling place or within 100 meters thereof” during any of the specified days and hours.

Election Laws

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JAVIER vs. COMELEC ( 144 SCRA 194 ) “Election Contests, G. Interpretation of Certain Words and Phrases” Facts: The petitioner and the private respondent were candidates in Antique for the Batasang Pambansa in the May 1984 elections. The former appeared to enjoy more popular support but the latter had the advantage of being the nominee of the KBL with all its perquisites of power. On the eve of the elections, the bitter contest between the two came to a head when several followers of the petitioner were ambushed and killed, allegedly by the latter’s men. Seven suspects, including respondent Pacificador, are now facing trial for these murders. Conceivably, it intimidated voters against supporting the Opposition candidate or into supporting the candidate of the ruling party. It was in this atmosphere that the voting was held, and the post-election developments were to run true to form. Owing to what he claimed were attempts to railroad the private respondent’s proclamation, the petitioner went to the Comelec to question the canvass of the election returns. His complaints were dismissed and the private respondent was proclaimed winner by the Second Division of the said body. The petitioner thereupon came to this Court, arguing that the proclamation was void because made only by a division and not by the Comelec en banc as required by the Constitution. Issue: Whether or not the Second Division of the Comelec authorized to promulgate its decision of July 23, 1984, proclaiming the private respondent the winner in the election. Held: Article XII-C, Section 3, of the 1973 Constitution provides that: “The COMELEC may sit en banc or in three divisions. All election cases may be heard and decided by divisions except contests involving members of the Batasang Pambansa, which shall be heard and decided en banc.”

Election Laws

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MALALUAN vs. COMELEC ( 254 SCRA 397 ) “Election Contests, F. Award of Damages” Facts: Petitioner Luis Malaluan and private respondent Jose Evangelista were both mayoralty candidates in the Municipality of Kidapawan, North Cotabato. Private respondent was proclaimed by the Municipal Board of Canvassers as the duly elected Mayor with a winning margin of 706 votes. Petitioner filed an election protest with the Regional Trial Court. The trial court declared petitioner as the duly elected municipal mayor with a plurality of 154 votes. Acting without precedent, the court found private respondent liable not only for Malaluan’s protest expenses but also for moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees. Petitioner filed a motion for execution pending appeal which was granted by the court. Subsequently the First Division of the Comelec ordered Malaluan to vacate the office. The Comelec en banc affirmed said decision. Malaluan filed this petition for certiorari and prohibition on May 31, 1995 as a consequence. It is significant to note that the term of office of the local officials elected in the May 1992 elections expired on June 30, 1995. This petition, thus, has become moot and academic insofar as it concerns petitioner’s right to the mayoralty seat because expiration of the term of office contested in the election protest has the effect of rendering the same moot and academic. Issue: Whether or not the Comelec gravely abused its discretion in awarding the aforecited damages in favor of private respondent. Held: The overriding requirement for a valid and proper award of damages is that the same is in accordance with law, specifically, the provisions of the Civil Code pertinent to damages. The Omnibus Election Code provides that “actual or compensatory damages may be granted in all election contests or in quo warranto proceedings in accordance with law.” Comelec Rules of Procedure provide that “in all election contests the Court may adjudicate damages and attorney’s fees as it may deem just and as established by the evidence if the aggrieved party has included such claims in his pleadings. Notwithstanding his subsequent ouster as a result of an election protest, an elective official who has been proclaimed by the Comelec as winner in an electoral contest and who assumed office and entered into the performance of the duties of office is entitled to the compensation, emoluments and allowances legally provided for that position. The emolument must go to the person who rendered the service unless the contrary is provided.

Election Laws

9

ATIENZA vs. COMELEC ( G.R. No. 108533, Dec. 20 1994 ) “Election Contests, F. Award of Damages” Facts: Private respondent Antonio G. Sia was elected mayor of the Municipality of Madrilejos, Cebu in the 1998 local elections. Following Sia’s proclamation, petitioner filed an election protest with the Regional Trial Court questioning the results of the elections in a number of precincts in the municipality. Consequently, in the revision ordered by the lower court, petitioner obtained a plurality of 12 votes over the private respondent. The Regional Trial Court rendered its decision declaring petitioner the winner of the municipal elections and ordering the private respondent to reimburse petitioner the amount of P300,856.19 representing petitioner’s expenses in the election protest. Private respondent appealed. Meanwhile, the Regional trial Court granted petitioner’s motion for execution pending appeal, which was opposed by respondent. The Comelec issued a preliminary injunction stopping the enforcement of the order of execution. The Comelec, en banc, on April 7, 1992 issued an Order setting aside the preliminary injunction and thereby allowing petitioner to assume as mayor of the Municipality of Madrilejos pending resolution of his appeal. However, following the synchronized elections of May 11, 1992, the Presiding Commissioner of the Comelec’s Second Division issued an Order dated July 18, 1992 dismissing petitioner’s appeal for being moot and academic. Issue: Whether or not the Comelec acted with grave abuse of discretion in reversing the lower court’s judgment. Held: The dismissal of an appeal in an election protest case for having become moot and academic due to the election of new municipal officials referred only to that part of the appealed judgment which was affected by the election and not to that portion relating to the award of damages. However, it would appear virtually impossible for a party in an election protest case to recover actual or compensatory damages in the absence of a law expressly providing for situations allowing for the recovery of the same. This, petitioner has been unable to do. The intent of the legislature to do away with provisions indemnifying the victorious party for expenses incurred in an election contest in the absence of a wrongful act or omission clearly attributable to the losing party cannot be gainsaid – in fine, Section 259 of the Omnibus Election Code merely provides for the granting of actual and compensatory damages “in accordance with law.” The intent, moreover, to do away with such provisions merely recognizes the maxim, settled in law that a wrong without damage or damage without wrong neither constitutes a cause of action nor creates a civil obligation.

Election Laws ZACATE vs. COMELEC ( G.R. No. 144678, Mar. 1, 2001 ) “Election Contests, E. Execution Pending Appeal”

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Facts: Petitioner Javier E. Zacate and private respondent Thelma C. Baldado were candidates for the position of Mayor in the Municipality of Sulat, Eastern Samar, in the May, 1998 elections. The Municipal Board of Canvassers, proclaimed private respondent as the duly elected mayor having garnered 2,958 votes as against the 2,719 votes of petitioner, private respondent winning by 239 votes. Petitioner filed an election protest before the Regional Trial Court of Borongan, Samar. The trial court declared petitioner as the duly elected Mayor with only one vote as his winning margin. On the same date private respondent filed a notice of appeal. The following day, petitioner filed a Motion for Immediate Execution of Judgment Pending Appeal which private respondent opposed on the ground that she had already perfected her appeal. The trial court rendered a Supplemental Decision, correcting the winning margin of petitioner to 2 votes instead of 1 vote and at the same time denied the motion for execution of judgment pending appeal filed by petitioner and ordered further the transmission of the complete records of the protest case to the Comelec. Petitioner then filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration to reverse denial of his motion for execution pending appeal. After hearing, the trial court issued a Resolution reversing its Supplemental Decision. The Resolution ruled that the trial court still had jurisdiction over the motion for execution pending appeal, that there are good and valid reasons for granting the same. Issue: Whether or not the trial court has jurisdiction of the case and whether or not discretionary execution is proper. Held: Discretionary execution is barred when the trial court loses jurisdiction and this occurs when all the parties have filed their respective appeals or when the period to appeal has lapsed for those who did not file their appeals and when the court is no longer in possession of the records of the case. The perfection of an appeal within the statutory or reglementary period is not only mandatory but also jurisdictional and failure to so renders the questioned decision final and executory, and deprives the appellate court or body of jurisdiction to alter the final judgment much less to entertain the appeal. While petitioner timely filed motion for execution pending appeal, petitioner belatedly filed the motion for reconsideration of the denial of his motion for execution pending appeal rendering said denial final and executory. While the Supplemental Decision wrongly denied petitioner’s motion for execution pending appeal, the remedy left for petitioner then was to timely seek relief from the erroneous ruling. This petitioner failed to do.

Election Laws

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ASMALA vs. COMELEC ( 289 SCRA 746 ) “Election Contests, E. Execution Pending Appeal” Facts: In the elections of May 8, 1995, eight candidates vied for the position of Vice Mayor for the Municipality of Tuburan, Province of Basilan. The canvass of votes by the Municipal Board of canvassers, indicated that Hadji Husni Mohammad garnered 3,065 votes, Emmanuel “Manny” Alano 2,912 votes, and Halim Asmala got 2,542 votes. On the basis of the aforesaid results of canvass of votes, Hadji Husni Mohammad was proclaimed, and later he assumed office as Vice Mayor of Tuburan. On May 22, 1995, Halim Asmala filed an election protest with the Regional Trial Court of Basilan. The protest alleged that election fraud and other irregularities tainted the election and canvass of votes. During the hearing, the court a quo found that several ballots were written by just one hand while other ballots were prepared by only two persons. Consequently, such ballots were invalidated. The trial court rendered its decision crediting Halim Asmala, the herein petitioner, with 2,130 votes, Emmanuel Alano with 1,920 votes and Hadji Husni Mohammad with 1,729 votes, and adjudging petitioner the duly elected Vice Mayor of Tuburan, Province of Basilan. After the promulgation of the aforementioned decision, private respondent Hadji Husni Mohammed filed his Notice of Appeal with the same Regional Trial Court. On the following day, the petitioner presented a Motion for Execution Pending Appeal. Thereto, private respondent interposed his opposition, theorizing that his perfected appeal divested the trial court of jurisdiction to resolve the Motion foe Execution Pending Appeal. Issue: Whether or not filing of notice of appeal divests a trial court of its jurisdiction over a case. Held: The mere filing of a notice of appeal does not divest the trial court of its jurisdiction over a case and resolve pending incidents. Where the motion for execution pending appeal was filed within the reglementary period for perfecting an appeal, the filing of a notice of appeal by the opposing party is of no moment and does not divest the trial court of its jurisdiction to resolve the motion for immediate execution of the judgment pending appeal because the court must hear and resolve it for it would become part of the records to be elevated on appeal. Filing by one party of an appeal on the same day the judgment was rendered does not deprive the other party of the right to avail himself of the entire period of five days within which to appeal, if he so desires including motions for execution pending appeal. An appeal is perfected upon the expiration of the last day to appeal by any party – it is not perfected on the date the notice of appeal was filed.

Election Laws

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ROBERTO D. RAMAS vs. COMELEC ( 286 SCRA 189 ) “Election Contests, E. Execution Pending Appeal” Facts: Petitioners and private respondents were the official candidates of the NPC Lakas-NUCD for elective municipal positions of Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur. After the canvass of election returns, petitioners were proclaimed as the duly elected municipal officials therein. Private respondents seasonably filed an election protest with the RTC of Pagadian City which ruled in their favor. Respondents thereafter filed a Motion for Immediate Execution of Decision pending Appeal, however, petitioner filed an Opposition to this Motion. The trial court issued an Order granting the motion for execution pending appeal. COMELEC concurs with the trial court’s decision, hence, this petition. Issue: Whether or not COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion when it concurs with the decision of the trial court. Held: The Supreme Court held the it has explicitly recognized and given approval to execution of judgments pending appeal in election cases filed under existing election laws. All that was required for a valid exercise of the discretion to allow execution pending appeal was that the immediate execution should be based “upon good reasons to be stated in a special order.” The rationale why such executionis allowed in election cases is “to give as much recognition to the worth of a trial judge’s decision as that which is initially ascribed by the law to the proclamation by the board of canvassers.” To deprive trial courts of their discretion to grant execution pending appeal would bring back the ghost of the “grab-the-proclamation-prolong the protest techniques so often resorted to by devious politicians in the past in their efforts to perpetuate their hold to an elective office.” The following constitutes “good reasons,” and a combination of two or more of them will suffice to grant the execution pending appeal: (1) public interest involved or the will of the electorate; (2) the shortness of the remaining portion of the term of the contested office; (3) the length of time that the election contest has been pending. In this case, all elements was present, considering that this has been pending for a year, the trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion.

Election Laws MANUEL C. SUNGA vs. COMELEC ( 288 SCRA 76 )

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“Election Contests, D. Distinction between Quo Warranto in Elective and Appointive office” Facts: Petitioner was one of the candidates for the position of Mayor in the Municipality of Iguig, Cagayan in the May 1995 Elections. Private respondent Trinidad was then the incumbent Mayor, was a candidate for re-election in the same municipality. Sunga filed a complaint accusing Trinidad of violation of the Omnibus Election Code for using threats, intimidation, terrorism or other forms of coercion. Hearings were held wherein Sunga adduced evidence while Trinidad opted not to submit any evidence. The election results showed that Trinidad garnered the highest number of votes while Sunga trailed second. The complaint filed by Sunga was denied by COMELEC ruling that the petitions filed shall be deemed to be the amended petition filed on May 11,1995 which was clearly filed after the election mandates the dismissal of the disqualification case. Issue: Whether or not COMELEC can hear and decide disqualification cases against winning candidates even after the election. Held: The Supreme Court ruled that COMELEC is left with no discretion but to proceed with the disqualification case even after the election. The fact that Trinidad was already proclaimed and has assumed the position of mayor did not divest the COMELEC of authority and jurisdiction to continue the hearing and eventually decide the disqualification case. The fact that the candidate who obtained the highest number of votes is later disqualified for the office to which he was elected does not entitle the candidate who obtained the second highest number of votes to be declared the winner of the elective office. Hence, Sunga cannot claim the right to take the oath for the mayoral office because the Local Government Code clearly provides that in case of disqualification of the one proclaimed for the said office, the vice-mayor shall assume office.

Election Laws BENJAMIN P. ABELLA vs. COMELEC ( 201 SCRA 253 )

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“Election Contests, D. Distinction between Quo Warranto in Elective and Appointive office” Facts: Initially, Silvestre dela Cruz (Benjamin Abella was allowed to intervene) filed a petition with the COMELEC to disqualify petitioner Larrazabal from running as governor of Leyte on the ground that she misrepresented her residence in her certificate of candidacy as Kananga, Leyte. It was alleged that she was in fact a resident of Ormoc City like her husband who was earlier disqualified from running for the same office. The COMELEC granted the petition. However, when the Commission granted the decision, Larrazabal was already proclaimed the Governor, hence, when she was disqualified, Abella, who gathered the second highest votes in the said area, sought to take his oath as governor of Kananga, Leyte. Issue: Whether or not the candidate who got the second highest vote may be proclaimed as governor when the candidate for such position was disqualified. Held: The Supreme Court held that while it is true that SPC No. 88-546 was originally a petition to deny due course to the certificate of candidacy of Larrazabal and was filed before Larrazabal could be proclaimed, the fact remains that the local elections of February 1, 1988 in the province of Leyte proceeded with Larrazabal considered as a bona fide candidate. The voters of the province voted for her in the sincere belief that she was a qualified candidate for the position of governor. Her votes were counted and she obtained the highest number of votes. The net effect is that the petitioner lost in the election. He was repudiated by the electorate.

Election Laws

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BIENVENIDO MARQUEZ vs. COMELEC ( 243 SCRA 538 ) “Election Contests, C. Quo Warranto” Facts: It is averred that at the time respondent Rodriguez filed his certificate of candidacy, a criminal charge against him for ten counts of insurance fraud or grand theft of personal property was still pending before the Municipal Court of Los Angeles, USA. A warrant issued by said court for his arrest, it is claimed, has yet to be served on private respondent on account of his alleged “flight” from that country. Before the May 1992 elections, a petition for cancellation of respondent’s certificate of candidacy on the ground of the candidate’s disqualification was filed by petitioner, but COMELEC dismissed the petition. Private respondent was proclaimed Governor-elect of Quezon. Petitioner instituted quo warranto proceedings against private respondent before the COMELEC but the latter dismissed the petition. Issue: Whether private respondent, who at the time of the filing of his certificate of candidacy is said to be facing a criminal charge before a foreign court and evading a warrant of arrest comes within the term “fugitive from justice.” Held: The Supreme Court ruled that Article 73 of the Rules and Regulations implementing the Local Government Code of 1991 provides: “Article 73. Disqualifications – The following persons shall be disqualified from running for any elective local position: “(a) xxxx

“(e) Fugitives from justice in criminal or non-political cases here or abroad. Fugitive from justice refers to a person who has been convicted by final judgment.” It is clear from this provision that fugitives from justice refer only to persons who has been convicted by final judgment. However, COMELEC did not make any definite finding on whether or not private respondent is a fugitive from justice when it outrightly denied the petition for quo warranto. The Court opted to remand the case to COMELEC to resolve and proceed with the case.

Election Laws

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MELANIO SAMPAYAN, et al. vs. RAUL DAZA, et al. ( 213 SCRA 807 ) “Election Contests, C. Quo Warranto” Facts: Petitioners filed a petition seeking to disqualify Daza, then incumbent congressman of their congressional district in Makati, from continuing to exercise the functions of his office on the ground that the latter is a greencard holder and a lawful permanent resident of the United States. They also alleged that Mr. Daza has not by any act or declaration renounced his status as permanent resident thereby violating the Omnibus Election Code (Section 68) and the 1987 Constitution (section 18, Article III). Respondent Congressman filed his Comment denying the fact that he is a permanent resident of the United States as evidenced by a letter order of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, Los Angeles, U.S.A, he had long waived his status when he returned to the Philippines on August 12, 1985. Issue: Whether or not respondent Daza should be disqualified as a member of the House of Representatives for violation of Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code. Held: The Supreme Court vote to dismiss the instant case, first, the case is moot and academic for it is evident from the manifestation filed by petitioners dated April 6, 1992, that they seek to unseat the respondent from his position as Congressman for the duration of his term of office commencing June 30, 1987 and ending June 30, 1992. Secondly, jurisdiction of this case rightfully pertains to the House Electoral Tribunal. Under Section 17 of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, it is the House Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election returns and qualification of its members. The petitioner’s appropriate remedy should have been to file a petition to cancel respondent Daza’s certificate of candidacy before the election for a quo warranto case with the House of Electoral Tribunal within ten days after Daza’s proclamation.

Election Laws

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JIMMY S. DE CASTRO vs. COMELEC ( 267 SCRA 806 ) “Election Contests, B. Election Protest” Facts: Petitioner De Castro was proclaimed Mayor of Gloria, Oriental Mindoro during the 1995 Elections, so as the private respondent as Vice-Mayor of the same municipality. The late Nicolas Jamilla filed an election protest before the RTC of Pinamulayan, Oriental Mindoro. During the pendency of the said contest, he died. Shortly thereafter, the RTC dismissed the election protest ruling that “ as this case is personal, the death of the protestant extinguishes the case itself.” When private respondent learned about the dismissal, he filed a motion for intervention and/or substitution in the same case which the petitioner opposed. The motion of private respondent was denied. He then filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with the COMELEC assailing that the trial court’s orders were issued with rave abuse of discretion. COMELEC grants the petition ruling that an election contest survives the death of the protestant or the protestee. Issue: Is an Election Contest a personal action extinguished upon the death of the real party in interest? Held: The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. The Court held that while the right to public office is personal and exclusive to the public officer, and election protest is not purely personal and exclusive to the protestant or to the protestee such that the death of either would oust the court of all authority to continue the protest proceedings. The assertion of petitioner that private respondent is not the real party in interest entitled to be substituted in the election protest in place of the late Jamilla is Utterly without legal basis.

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ALAN M. LOYOLA vs. COURT OF APPEALS ( 245 SCRA 477 ) “Election Contests, B. Election Protest” Facts: In the barangay election of May 1994, petitioner was proclaimed by the Barangay Board of Canvassers as the duly elected Punong Barangay of Poblacion, Tangalan, Aklan on May 10, 1994. Private respondent Fernandez filed an election protest against the petitioner on May 18, 1994. However, the petition was not accompanied by a certification of non- forum shopping required under Administrative Circular No. 04-94 of the Supreme Court. The following day, May 1994, the private respondent submitted to the MCTC his certification of non-forum shopping. On May 25, 1994, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the protest due to private respondents failure to strictly comply with the Circular. The MCTC issued an order denying the motion to dismiss. The RTC of Aklan denied the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner for lack of merit. Issue: Whether Administrative Circular No. 04-94 is mandatory and jurisdictional, and whether it is applicable in election cases. Held: The filing of the certification was within the period for filing an election protest. When petitioner was proclaimed as the Punong Barangay on May 10, 1994, respondent has ten days from such proclamation within which to file the election protest. In this case, when respondent filed his certificate of non-forum shopping on My 19, 1994, it was within the reglementary period provided for in the Omnibus Election Code, thus, he still has until May 20, 1994 to complete the requirements of his petition. Also, the fact that the Circular requires that it should be strictly complied with merely underserves its mandatory nature in that it cannot dispensed with or its requirements altogether disregarded, but it does not thereby interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances. There is nothing in the Circular that indicates that it does not apply to election cases. On the contrary, it expressly provides that the requirements therein “shall be strictly complied with in the filing of complaints, petitions, applications or other initiatory pleadings in all courts and agencies other than the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

Election Laws

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DANILO GATCHALIAN vs. COURT OF APPEALS ( 245 SCRA 208 ) “Election Contests, B. Election Protest” Facts: Gatchalian and Aruelo were rivals for the office of the Vice-Mayor of Balagtas, Bulacan in the May 11, 1992 Elections. Gatchalian was proclaimed Vice-Mayor by a margin of four votes on May 13, 1992. On May 22, 1992, Aruelo filed with the COMELEC a petition seeking to annul the proclamation of Gatchalian. He also filed on June 2, 1992 with the RTC of Malolos, Bulacan an election protest. When Gatchalian received the summons, instead of filing an answer, he filed a motion to dismissw on the following grounds: (a) the petition was filed out of time; (b) there was a pending pre-proclamation case before the COMELEC, hence the protest was premature; and (c) Aruelo failed to pay the prescribed fees. The pre-proclamation case was denied by COMELEC, but the Motion to Dismiss was denied by the trial court, hence this petition. Issue: Should the proclamation contest be denied? Also, should the election contest be dismissed for failure to pay the filing fees? Held: On the first issue, the Court held that Aruelo filed with the COMELEC preproclamation case against Gatchalian nine days after May 13, 1992, the latter’s proclamation date. The filinf of the pre-proclamation case suspended the running of the period within which to file the election protest which was one day after June 22, 1992. He filed the election protest on June 2, 1992 with the trial court ex abudante cautela. On second the issue, the Court held that, indeed, respondent failed to pay the required filing fee of P300,00 for the election protest prescribed by the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. Hence, the petition should be dismissed for it is the payment of the filing fee that vests jurisdiction of the court over the election protest.

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MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO vs. FIDEL RAMOS ( 253 SCRA 559 ) “Election Contests, B. Election Protest” Facts: The protestant lost in the May 1992 Election. In her Motion of 16 August 1995, reiterated in her Comment of 29 August 1995, Protestant Defensor-Santiago prayed that the revision in the remaining precincts of the pilot areas be dispensed with and the revision process in the pilot areas be deemed computed. The Court deferred action on the motion and required, instead, the protestant and protestee to submit their respective memoranda. Hence, this petition. Issue: Whether or not the election protest filed by Santiago is moot and academic by her election as a Senator in the May 1995 election and her assumption of office as such on June 30, 1995. Held: The Supreme Court ruled in the Affirmative. The Court held that the election protest filed by Santiago has been abandoned or considered withdrawn as a consequence of her election and assumption of office as Senator and her discharge of the duties and functions thereof. The protestant abandoned her “determination to protest and pursue the public interest involved in the matter of who is the real choice of the electorate. Moreover, the dismissal of this protest would serve public interest as it would dissipate the aura of uncertainty as to the results of the 1992 presidential elections, thereby enhancing the all – too crucial political stability of the nation during this period of national recovery.

Election Laws

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BENJAMIN F. ARAO vs. COMELEC ( 210 SCRA 290 ) “Election Contests, B. Election Protest” Facts: Petitioner Arao and private respondent Pulmones were candidates for the office of City Mayor of Pagadian City in the January 18, 1988 local elections. After canvassing the votes, petitioner garnered 12,447 votes, while Pulmones got only 12,030 votes. Consequently on January 21, 1988, petitioner was proclaimed City Mayor-elect of Pagadian City. Private respondent filed his Protest with COMELEC particularly alleging that fraud and anomalies were rampant in practically all the voting centers in Pagadian City on January 28, 1988. He also filed an amended protest on February 15, 1988 or after the ten day period to file an election protest. The First Division of COMELEC denied the said amended protest. Thereafter, the COMELEC en banc granted the amended protest and declared Pulmones as the duly elected mayor of Pagadian City and ordered petitioner to vacate his office and surrender the same to private respondent. Issue: Whether or not COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in declaring Pulmones as the duly elected Mayor of Pagadian City. Held: The extraordinary power of the Supreme Court to pass upon an order or decision of COMELEC should be exercised restrictively, with care and caution, while giving it the highest regard and respect due a constitutional body. For, not every abuse of discretion justifies the original action of certiorari, it must be grave. Nor any denial of Due Process within its ambit, it must be patent and it must be substantial. The test therefore is whether petitioner has demonstrated convincingly that COMELEC has committed grave abuse of discretion or exceeded its jurisdiction amounting to patent and substantial denial of due process in issuing the challenged decision. Here, petitioner has utterly failed. The complaint of petitioner against the alleged omission of COMELEC to state the reasons for its conclusion that certain ballots were with identical handwritings, some marked and others stray, does not in any magnitude diminish the straight forward statement of the public respondent that “it painstakingly examined and appreciated individually the contested ballots for both protestant and protestee in accordance with existing norms.” Consequently petitioner may be deemed to have waived his right to question the Resolution when he failed to act accordingly despite the opportunity to do so. He should not be permitted, in other words to remain mute and unaffected in the face of a perceived jurisdictional defect and, worse, profit from his acquiescence only to grumble in the end when it turns out to be prejudicial to his interest.

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GALIDO vs. COMELEC ( 193 SCRA 78 ) “Election Contests, A. Jurisdiction over Election Contests” Facts: Petitioner Galido and private respondent Galeon were candidates during the January 1988 local elections for mayor of Garcia-Hernandez, Bohol. Petitioner was proclaimed the duly-elected Mayor. Private respondent filed an election protest before the RTC. After hearing, the said court upheld the proclamation of petitioner. Private respondent appealed the RTC decision to the COMELEC. Its First Division reversed the RTC decision and declared private respondent the duly-elected mayor. After the COMELEC en banc denied the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and affirmed the decision of its First Division. The COMELEC held that the fifteen (15) ballots in the same precinct containing the initial “C” after the name “Galido” were marked ballots and, therefore, invalid. Undaunted by his previous failed actions the petitioner filed the present petition for certiorari and injunction before the Supreme Court and succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order. In his comment to the petition, private respondent moved for dismissal, citing Article IX (C), Section 2(2), paragraph 2 of the 1987 Constitution, that “Final decisions, orders or rulings of the COMELEC in election contests involving elective municipal offices are final and executory, and not appealable. Issue: Whether or not a COMELEC decision may, if it sets aside the trial court’s decision involving marked ballots, be brought to the Supreme Court by a petition for certiorari by the aggrieved party? Held: The fact that decisions, final orders or rulings of the COMELEC in contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices are final, executory and not appealable, does not preclude a recourse to this Court by way of a special civil action of certiorari. Under Article IX (A), Section 7 of the Constitution, which petitioner cites, it is stated, “Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each (Constitutional) Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt thereof.” We resolve this issue in favor of the petitioner. “We do not, however, believe that the respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in rendering the questioned decision. The COMELEC has the inherent power to decide an election contest on physical evidence, equity, law and justice, and apply established jurisprudence, in support of its findings and conclusions; and that the extent to which such precedents apply rests on its discretion, the exercise of which should not be controlled unless such discretion has been abused to the prejudice of either party. ACCORDINGLY, the petition is DIMISSSED.

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Election Laws

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FLORES vs. COMELEC ( 184 SCRA 484 ) “Election Contests, A. Jurisdiction over Election Contests” Facts: Petitioner Roque Flores was declared by the board of canvassers as having the highest number of votes for kagawad on the March 1989 elections, in Barangay Poblacion, Tayum, Abra, and thus proclaimed punong barangay in accordance with Section 5 of R.A. 6679. However, his election was protested by private respondent Rapisora, who placed second in the election with one vote less than the petitioner. The Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Tayum sustained Rapisora and installed him as punong barangay in place of the petitioner after deducting two votes as stray from the latter’s total. Flores appealed to the RTC, which affirmed the challenged decision in toto. The judge agreed that the four votes cast for “Flores” only, without any distinguishing first name or initial, should all have been considered invalid instead of being divided equally between the petitioner and Anastacio Flores, another candidate for kagawad. The total credited to the petitioner was correctly reduced by 2, demoting him to second place. The petitioner went to the COMELEC, which dismissed his appeal on the ground that it had no power to review the decision of the RTC, based on Section 9 of R.A. 6679, that decisions of the RTC in a protest appealed to it from the municipal trial court in barangay elections “on questions of fact shall be final and non-appealable”. In his petition for certiorari, the COMELEC is faulted for not taking cognizance of the petitioners appeal. Issue: Whether or not the decisions of Municipal or Metropolitan Courts in barangay election contests are subject to the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the COMELEC considering Section 9 of R.A. No. 6679? Held: The dismissal of the appeal is justified, but on an entirely different and more significant ground, to wit, Article IX-C, Section 2(2) of the Constitution, providing that the COMELEC shall “Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction”. Municipal or Metropolitan Courts being courts of limited jurisdiction, their decisions in barangay election contests are subject to the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the COMELEC under the afore-quoted section. Hence, the decision rendered by the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, should have been appealed directly to the COMELEC and not to the RTC. Accordingly, Section 9 of Rep. Act No. 6679, insofar as it provides that the decision of the municipal or metropolitan court in a barangay election case should be appealed to the RTC, must be declared unconstitutional.

Election Laws RELAMPAGOS vs. CUMBA ( 243 SCRA 502 ) “Election Contests, A. Jurisdiction over Election Contests”

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Facts: In the elections of 11 May 1992, the petitioner Relampagos and private respondent Cumba were candidates for Mayor of Magallanes, Agusan del Norte. The latter was proclaimed the winning candidate, with a margin of twenty-two votes over the former. Unwilling to accept defeat, the petitioner filed an election protest with the RTC which found the petitioner to have won with a margin of six votes over the private respondent and rendered judgment in favor of the petitioner. On 4 July 1994, the private respondent appealed the decision to the COMELEC. The petitioner, on 12 July 1994, filed with the trial court a motion for execution pending appeal, which the trial court granted On 3 August 1994. The private respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of execution which was denied on 5 August 1994. The private respondent then filed with the respondent COMELEC a petition for certiorari to annul the aforesaid order of the trial court granting the motion for execution pending appeal and the writ of execution. On 9 February 1995, the COMELEC promulgated its resolution granting the petition. Accordingly, petitioner was ordered restored to her position as Municipal Mayor, pending resolution of the appeal before the Commission. Aggrieved by the resolution, the petitioner filed this special civil action. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC has jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus in election cases where it has exclusive appellate jurisdiction? Held: The Court in concluding that the aforesaid last paragraph of Section 50 of B.P. 697 has not been repealed by the Omnibus Election Code, held that the COMELEC has the authority to issue the extraordinary writs for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus only in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. Hence, the trial court acted with palpable and whimsical abuse of discretion in granting the petitioner’s motion for execution pending appeal and in issuing the writ of execution. Any motion for execution pending appeal must be filed before the period for the perfection of the appeal. Since the motion for execution pending appeal was filed only on 12 July 1994, or after the perfection of the appeal, the trial court could no longer validly act thereon. COMELEC has jurisdiction, hence, it correctly set aside the challenged order granting the motion for execution pending appeal and writ of execution issued by the trial court.

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MALALUAN vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS ( 254 SCRA 397 ) “Election Contests, A. Jurisdiction over Election Contests” Facts: Private respondent Joseph Evangelista was proclaimed by the Municipal Board of Canvassers as the duly elected Mayor of Kidapawan, North Cotabato as against petitioner Luis Malaluan. The latter filed an election protest with the RTC, which declared petitioner as the duly elected mayor. Acting without precedent, the court found private respondent liable not only for Malaluan’s protest expenses but also for moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees. Private respondent appealed the decision to the COMELEC. Petitioner, for his part, filed a motion for execution pending appeal which was granted by the trial court. Petitioner then assumed and exercised the powers and functions of said office. This did not last, because the First Division of the COMELEC ordered Malaluan to vacate the office, having found private respondent to be the rightful winner and awarded damages, consisting of attorney’s fees, actual expenses for zerox copies, unearned salary and other emoluments for the period, en masse denominated as actual damages, notwithstanding the fact that the electoral controversy had become moot and academic on account of the expiration of the term of office. The COMELEC en banc affirmed said decision. Hence, Malaluan filed this petition. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in awarding the aforecited damages in favor of private respondent? Held: The decision of a judicial body is a basis for a winning candidate’s right to assume office. We deem petitioner, therefore, to be a de facto officer and is thus “legally entitled to the emoluments of the office.” Section 259 of the Omnibus Election Code only provides for the granting in election cases of actual and compensatory damages in accordance with law. The victorious party in an election case cannot be indemnified for expenses which he has incurred in an electoral contest in the absence of a wrongful act or omission or breach of obligation clearly attributable to the losing party. If any damage had been suffered by private respondent due to the execution of judgment pending appeal, that damage may be said to be equivalent to damnum absque injuria, which is, damage without injury, or damage or injury inflicted without injustice, or loss or damage without violation of a legal right, or a wrong done to a man for which the law provides no remedy. That portion of the decision awarding actual damages to private respondent Joseph Evangelista is hereby declared null and void for having been issued in grave abuse of discretion and in excess of jurisdiction.

Election Laws ALVAREZ vs. COMELEC (GR No. 142527 March 01, 2001 ) “Election Contests, A. Jurisdiction over Election Contests”

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Facts: On May 12, 1997, petitioner Arsenio Alvarez, with 590 votes, was proclaimed Punong Barangay of Doña Aurora, Quezon City, his opponent, private respondent Abad-Sarmiento, obtained 585 votes. Private respondent filed an election protest in the Metropolitan Trial Court claiming irregularities in the reading and appreciation of ballots by the Board of Election Inspectors. After a recount of the ballots in the contested precincts, the Trial Court ruled that the private respondent won the election, garnering 596 votes while petitioner got 550 votes. On appeal, the COMELEC’s Second Division ruled that private respondent won over petitioner. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Meanwhile, private respondent filed a Motion for Execution pending appeal which petitioner opposed. The COMELEC En Banc denied the Motion for Reconsideration and affirmed the decision of the Second Division. It granted the Motion for Execution pending appeal. Petitioner brought before the Supreme Court this petition for Certiorari assailing the Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, denying the Motion for Reconsideration of herein petitioner and affirming the Resolution of its Second Division alleging that the COMELEC En Banc granted the respondents Motion for Execution pending appeal when the appeal was no longer pending, thus the motion had become obsolete and unenforceable. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion when it prematurely acted on the Motion for Execution pending appeal? Held: We note that when the motion for execution pending appeal was filed, petitioner had a motion for reconsideration before the Second Division. This pending motion for reconsideration suspended the execution of the resolution of the Second Division. Appropriately then, the division must act on the motion for reconsideration. Thus, when the Second Division resolved both petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and private respondent’s motion for execution pending appeal, it did so in the exercise of its exclusive appellate jurisdiction. Correspondingly, we do not find that the COMELEC abused its discretion when it allowed the execution pending appeal. Petition is DISMISSED, and the En Banc Resolution of the COMELEC is AFFIRMED.

Election Laws CASTROMAYOR vs. COMELEC (250 SCRA298) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, D. Procedure”

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Facts: Petitioner Castromayor was a candidate for a seat in the eight-member Sangguniang Bayan of the municipality of Calinog, Iloilo in the elections held in May 1995. The winners were proclaimed on the basis of the canvass which showed that petitioner received votes for the eighth place. When Alice Garin, Chairman of the MBC, rechecked the totals in the Statement of Votes the following day, she discovered that the number of votes cast for Nilda Demorito, as member of the Sanguniang Bayan, was 62 more than that credited to her. As Garin later explained to the Provincial Election Supervisor, the returns from one precinct had been overlooked in the computation of the totals, therefore, the total number of votes cast for Demorito was 51 votes more than the votes cast for petitioner. Garin reported the matter to the Regional Election Director, who advised her to request authority from the COMELEC to reconvene for the purpose of correcting the error. A fax letter was sent to the Law Department of the COMELEC in Manila explaining the problem and asking for the authority to reconvene and correct the error, to annul the proclamation of petitioner and proclaim Demorito as the eighth member of the Sangguniang Bayan. A formal letter was later sent to the COMELEC and the same issued a resolution annulling the proclamation of Castromayor and proclaimed Demorito as the duly elected eighth member. Petitioner protested the proposed action and questioned the legality of the actuations of Garin. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion when he was not afforded with right to refute the resolution of the COMELEC? Held: No. MBC proclamations may be raised directly to the COMELEC en banc in the exercise of its constitutional function to decide questions affecting elections. What has just been said also disposes of petitioner’s other contention that because his proclamation has already been made, any remedy of the losing party is an election protest. Where a proclamation is null and void, the proclamation is no proclamation at all and the proclaimed candidate’s assumption of office cannot deprive the COMELEC of the power to declare such nullity and annul the proclamation. The MBC’s action to reconvene for purposes of correction of errors is valid under Rule 27 Sec. 7 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. Though it pertains to preproclamation proceedings and here proclamation of petitioner has been made, there is nothing to suggest the it cannot be applied to the case at bar, in which the validity of the proclamation is precisely in question.

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DUREMDES vs. COMELEC ( 178 SCRA 746 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, D. Procedure” Facts: Petitioner Ramon D. Duremdes, private respondent Cipriano B. Penaflorida, and Rufino Palabrica ran for the office of Vice-Governor of the Province of Iloilo. During the canvass of votes by the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Iloilo, Penaflorida objected verbally to some 110 election returns from various precincts, which he followed up with written objections. The Board overruled the same in separate Orders either because they were not timely filed or that the formal defects did not affect the genuineness of the returns, or that in case of allegations of tampering, no evidence was presented to support the charge. COMELEC an “Appeal by Way of a Petition for Review,” from the aforesaid rulings of the Board pleading, among others, for the exclusion of the questioned election returns and for Penaflorida ‘s proclamation as the elected Vice-Governor of Iloilo. Penaflorida filed, also with the COMELEC, a Petition seeking the annulment of election returns and the suspension of the proclamation of any candidate. The Board proclaimed Duremdes as the duly elected Vice-Governor. Duremdes took his oath and assumed office. COMELEC after hearing, issued a Per Curiam Resolution, sustaining the rulings of the Board of Canvassers on Penaflorida’s objections, as well as Duremdes’ proclamation. Duremdes faults the COMELEC with grave abuse of discretion for having disregarded the well-settled doctrines (1) that matters of protest, objections or issues not originally raised before the Board of Canvassers upon the opening of the returns, cannot be raised for the first time before the COMELEC; and (2) that after a proclamation has been made, a preproclamation controversy is no longer viable, the proper recourse being an election protest. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC has jurisdiction over pre-proclamation controversies not raised before the Board of Canvassers level? Held: Yes. The COMELEC has the power to decide all questions affecting elections (Article IX[C] Section 2[3], 1987 Constitution), a question pertaining to the proceedings of said Board may be raised directly with the COMELEC as a preproclamation controversy. When so elevated, the COMELEC acts in the exercise of its original jurisdiction for which reason it is not indispensable that the issue be raised before the Board of Canvassers during the canvassing. The COMELEC is not discharging its appellate jurisdiction under Section 245 of the Omnibus Election Code, which has to do with contests regarding the inclusion or exclusion in the canvass of any election returns, with a prescribed appellate procedure to follow. Matters of correction of the statement of votes may be the subject of a pre proclamation case which may be filed directly with the Commission.

Election Laws VILLAROYA vs. COMELEC ( 155 SCRA 633 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, D. Procedure”

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Facts: Petitioner Villaroya and private respondent Roa were among the congressional candidates in Cagayan de Oro City. Villaroya garnered 38,222 votes, while respondent Roa got a total of 38,196 votes, with a plurality of 6 votes, in favor of petitioner Villaroya. Due to the protest of the lawyers of Roa, Villaroya was not proclaimed by the Board of Canvassers. Roa filed a petition in the COMELEC contesting the election claiming fraud, duress, falsification and other grounds. Upon a formal request made by Roa, the Board of Canvassers furnished her a copy of the Statement of Votes. Roa filed with the Board of Canvassers a protest for the error or mistake in the tabulation of the election returns based on such copy. COMELEC directed the Board of Canvassers to reconvene to verify the election. After the verification of the election returns Roa was proclaimed. Petitioner filed in this Court a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction alleging that Roa not having filed an objection with the Board of Canvassers during the canvassing, deprived the COMELEC of appellate jurisdiction to entertain Roa’s petition for the verification of the election return in question and that the question was not proper for a pre-proclamation controversy but in an election contest that should be brought before the house electoral tribunal. Villaroya further alleged that the direct filing of the protest with the COMELEC did not make it a pre-proclamation controversy; that the decision of the COMELEC authorizing such verification by the Board of Canvassers was illegal, arbitrary and was issued without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC committed a grave abuse of discretion in ordering the City Board of Canvassers to verify the election returns and that the subject protest must be filed with the electoral tribunal. Held: No. It must be observed further, that there is no plausible reason to prohibit an aggrieved candidate from filing an objection regarding the election returns directly before the Comelec itself if the election irregularities that vitiate the integrity of the election returns are not apparent upon their faces. What is therefore involved is the original jurisdiction of the Comelec rather than its appellate jurisdiction for precisely the objection is filed not before the Board of Canvassers because the irregularities are not apparent upon the face of the election returns. The Commission en banc rules, therefore, that the protest or objection filed by Petitioner Bernardita Roa after discovery of the discrepancy in the Statement of Votes was filed seasonably.

Election Laws ALFONSO vs. COMELEC ( GR 107847, June 2, 1997 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, D. Procedure”

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Facts: In the May 11, 1992 elections, Pedro Alfonso ran for councilor in the First District of Manila, which is entitled to elect six councilors. On the eve of the elections, Pedro Alfonso died. His daughter Irma Alfonso, petitioner herein, filed her certificate of candidacy in substitution for her deceased father. After the canvassing of the election returns by respondent City Board of Canvassers, the results of the elections for councilors for the First District of Manila were announced as follows: 1st - Ernesto Nieva-60101, 2nd - Gonzalo Gonzales-44744, 3rd - Honorio Lopez-35803, 4th Pedro Alfonso-34648, 5th - Avelino Cailian-32462, 6th - Roberto Ocampo-31264, 7th - Alberto Domingo-28715. Apparently, the City Board of Canvassers added the votes of Pedro Alfonso to those of petitioner’s thereby placing her in the fourth slot. Consequently, private respondent questioned such action. He prayed that the votes cast for Pedro Alfonso be declared as stray votes and that, he be proclaimed as the sixth winner for councilor. The COMELEC resolved private respondent’s petition declaring votes cast in favor of Pedro Alfonso as stray votes and to CREDIT in favor of respondent Irma Alfonso only those votes cast with the name “ALFONSO” or IRMA ALFONSO. Petitioner thereby questioned said resolution before this Court, which dismissed the aforesaid petition in a minute resolution, after finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion in denying the petitioner’s motion for recount? Held: No. At the outset, petitioner’s prayer for a reopening of the ballots is not a proper issue for a pre-proclamation controversy. The issues raised by petitioner should be threshed out in election protest. Errors in the appreciation of ballots by the board of inspectors are proper subject for election protest and not for recount or reappreciation of ballots. The appreciation of the ballots cast in the precincts is not a ‘proceeding of the board of canvassers’ for purposes of pre-proclamation proceedings under Section 241, Omnibus Election Code, but of the boards of election inspectors who are called upon to count and appreciate the votes in accordance with the rules of appreciation provided in Section 211, Omnibus Election Code. Otherwise stated, the appreciation of ballots is not part of the proceedings of the board of canvassers. The complete election returns whose authenticity is not in question, must be prima facie considered valid for the purpose of canvassing the same and proclamation of the winning candidates.

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MATALAM vs. COMELEC ( 271 SCRA 733 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, D. Procedure” Facts: Petitioner Matalarn and Private Respondent Candao were both candidates for Governor of the Province of Maguindanao in the May 1995 elections. During the canvass of the election returns in the municipalities of Datu Piang and Maganoy, Petitioner challenged before the respective Municipal Boards of Canvassers the authenticity of the election returns in said towns. The Provincial Board of Canvassers rejected the pleas of the petitioner, thus a petition for exclusion of the results of the said municipalities were filed before the COMELEC. During the pendency of the action, respondent was proclaimed duly elected governor. The same proclamation was nullified by the second division of the COMELEC and thereafter reinstated the proclamation. A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner and for technical examination of signatures and thumbmarks of registered voters. The same was denied, hence a petition for certiorari. Petitioner further claims that the returns in one municipality were falsified and spurious as there was actually no election conducted in that place and in some precints, the number of votes exceeded the number of voters. Issues: 1. Whether or not the questioned election returns be the proper subjects of a preproclamation controversy? 2. Whether or not the COMELEC may go beyond the face of election returns in a preproclamation case? Held: 1. No. The Omnibus Election Code defines a pre-proclamation controversy as “any question pertaining to or affecting the proceedings of the board of canvassers which may be raised by any candidate or by any registered political party or coalition of political parties before the board or directly with the Commission, or any matter raised under Sections233, 234, 235 and 236 in relation to the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and appreciation of the election returns.” The issues raised by the petitioner are not among those enumerated under Sec. 243 of the Omnibus Election Code. The enumeration therein is restrictive and exclusive. Petitioner did not claim and failed to characterize the returns as incomplete, contain material defects, appear to be tampered with falsified, or contain discrepancies. 2. No. The COMELEC is not required to go beyond election returns which are on their face regular and authentic. The proper remedy available to the petitioner in this case is election protest. Pre-proclamation controversies are to be resolved in a summary proceedings and should not subject the returns to meticulous technical examinations.Technical examination is not proper in a pre-proclamation controversy.

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MENTANG vs. COMELEC ( G.R. No. 11037, Feb. 4, 1994 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, D. Procedure” Facts: Petitioner Mentang was certified and proclaimed by the Provincial Board of Canvasser as the third and last winning candidate for Regional Assemblyman in the Second District of Maguindanao over private respondent Ali Bernan for garnering 2,000 more votes than the latter. He took his oath of office as a duly elected member of the Regional Legislative Assembly. Private respondent learned of the proclamation on a Sunday. On the fifth day following the proclamation, he filed with the COMELEC a “Petition to Correct Manifest Error and Annul the Proclamation of petitioner Mentang” and asked that he be proclaimed instead as the third winning candidate for Assemblyman in the Second District of Maguindanao. Petitioner questioned COMELEC’s jurisdiction to hear and decide private respondent’s petition on the ground that being a pre-proclamation controversy which relates to the correction of manifest errors in the certificate of canvass, the same should have been filed within the reglementary period of 5 days counted from petitioner’s proclamation. The petition was, however, filed 8 days after petitioner’s proclamation. The COMELEC en banc held that the petition was filed by Ali Bernan on time and sustained its jurisdiction over the petition in the exercise of its broad administrative powers over the conduct of elections. It also directed the retabulation of the votes for petitioner Mentang and private respondent Ali Bernan. Petitioner Mentang petitioned the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of COMELEC. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in holding that it has jurisdiction to decide private respondent Ali Bernan’s petition? Held: The Supreme Court sustained COMELEC’s jurisdiction and dismissed Mentang’s petition. The petition filed, although designates petition to correct manifest error and annul the proclamation of Mentang, is in reality a petition for annulment or declaration of nullity of proclamation, which need not be filed within 5 day reglamentary period but only within a reasonable time. Ali Bernan’s petition which was filed 8 days after Mentang’s proclamation was filed within the 10-day period for filing an election protest or quo warranto petition.

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JAMIL vs. COMELEC ( G.R. No. 123648, December 15, 1997 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, D. Procedure” Facts: Petitioner Jamil and Private respondent Balindong were among the mayoralty candidates in the Municipality of Sultan Gumander, Lanao del Sur during the May 1998 elections. During the canvassing of the election returns by the MBC headed by Sansarona, private respondent objected to the inclusion of 4 election returns from 4 precincts on the grounds of duress, for being spurious returns and for not being an authentic copy. The Sansarona MBC issued its ruling on the 3 objection setting aside the election returns from a precinct for further investigation or to go deeper into the contradicting testimonies of the Chairman and the watchers or to summon the 2 BFIs who failed to affix their signature and explain the alleged increase of votes of a candidate. The MBC composition was changed with Macadato as its head. It denied the exclusion of return from precinct. Private respondent Balindong appealed to the COMELEC the ruling of the Macadato MBC. Petitioner also appealed to the COMELEC challenging the Sansarona MBC rulings. While these 2 cases were still pending in the COMELEC, the Macadato MBC proclaimed petitioner Jamil and other winning candidates. The COMELEC Second Division issued an Order directing the MBC to reconvene and proclaim the winning candidate for Mayor of Sultan Gumander, Lanao del Sur. The Macadato MBC proclaimed petitioner Jamil as duly elected Mayor. Private respondent filed with the COMELEC an urgent motion to annul petitioner’s proclamation on the ground that the proclamation was without authority of the COMELEC, and to constitute a new Board of Canvasser. The COMELEC Second division annulled petitioner Jamil’s proclamation and directed the constitution of a new MBC. The newly constituted MBC headed by Cariga proclaimed private respondent Balindong as the newly elected Mayor. The COMELEC en banc affirmed the decision of the Second Division. Petitioner Jamil asked the Supreme Court to revise and reverse the decision of the COMELEC en banc Issue: Which of the 2 proclamations is valid. Held: The Supreme Court held that both proclamations are not valid. The Macadato and Cariga MBC did not make definite rulings or pronouncement on the inclusion or exclusion of returns so that there was no complete and valid canvass which is prerequisite to a valid proclamation. Petitioner Jamil’s proclamation by the MBC had no authority from COMELEC. The Omnibus Election Code prohibits the proclamation by the Board of Canvassers of a candidate as winner where returns are contested, unless authorized by the COMELEC.

Election Laws DUMAYAS vs. COMELEC ( G.R. Nos. 141952-53, April 20,2001 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, C. Issues Which May Be Raised”

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Facts: Petitioner Dumayas and respondent Bernal were rival candidates for the position in Mayor of Carles, Iloilo in the May 1998 synchronized elections. During the canvassing by the MBC, petitioner sought the exclusion of election returns for 3 precincts of Barangay Pantalan owing to alleged acts of terrorism, intimidation and coercion committed in said precincts during the casting and counting of votes. The MBC denied petitioner’s objections and proceeded with the canvass which showed respondent Bernal garnering more votes than the petitioner. Petitioner appealed to the COMELEC Second Division which excluded election returns from 3 precincts and directed the MBC to reconvene and finish the canvass of the remaining or uncontested returns and then, to proclaim the winning mayoralty candidate. Private respondent Bernal moved for reconsideration of the decision of the Second Division with the COMELEC en banc. The MBC proclaim petitioner winner of the election. Private respondent Bernal filed an urgent motion to declare void petitioner’s proclamation. The duly proclaimed ViceMayor Betita, and private respondent Bernal filed n action for quo warranto against petitioner before the RTC of Iloilo. Petitioner filed with COMELEC en banc a motion to cancel Bernal’s motion for reconsideration and motion declare void petitioner’s proclamation on the ground that respondent Bernal should be deemed to have abandoned said motion when he filed quo warranto action. The COMELEC en banc reversed the decision of the Second Division, annulled the petitioner Dumayas’ proclamation; and constituted a new MBC. Respondent Bernal was proclaimed by the newly-constituted MBC as the duly-elected Mayor of the Municipality. Petitioner Dumayas asked the Supreme Court to set aside the COMELEC en banc resolution. Issue: Whether the COMELEC was correct in including in the canvass the returns of the contested precincts? election

Held: The Supreme Court held in the affirmative. The only evidence presented by the petitioner to prove the alleged irregularities were the self-serving contracts of his watchers and inspectors. Returns cannot be excluded on mere allegations that the returns are manufactured or fictitious when the returns on their face appear to be regular and without any physical signs of tampering. The election irregularities cited by the petitioner would require the presentation of evidence which cannot be done in a pre-proclamation controversy which is summary in nature.

Election Laws PATORAY vs. COMELEC ( 249 SCRA 440, 1995 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, C. Issues Which May Be Raised”

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Facts: Petitioner Patoray and private respondent Disomimba were the mayoralty candidates of Tamporan, Lanao del Sur during the May 8, 1995 elections. During the canvassing of the votes by the MBC, private respondent objected to the inclusion of election returns from 4 precincts “for being substituted, fraudulent and obviously manufacture “ but the same was denied by the MBC. On appeal, the COMELEC Second Division ordered the exclusion from the count of election returns from 2 precincts owing to discrepancy between the “taras” and the written figures and the incomplete data as to provincial and congressional candidates. The COMELEC en banc denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and ordered the constitution of a new MBC to implement the second Division’s resolution. Petitioner Patoray filed a petition for certiorari seeking to annul the decision of the COMELEC. Issue: Whether the exclusion of the 2 election returns was the proper remedy to answer the discrepancy between the taras and the written figures and the incompleteness of the data as to provincial and congressional candidates? Held: The Supreme Court held that the discrepancy between the taras and the written figure and the incomplete data as to the provincial and congressional candidates found in the excluded election returns constituted materials defects in the election return. While the COMELEC was correct in excluding the 2 election returns, in addition it should have also ordered a recount of the votes cast in the 2 precincts. Its failure to do this resulted in the disenfranchisement of the voters in these precincts. The recounting of the votes is consistent with the summary nature of proceedings involving pre-proclamation controversies.

Election Laws

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LAUDENIO vs. COMELEC ( 276 SCRA 705,1997 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, C. Issues Which May Be Raised” Facts: Respondent Longcop was proclaimed winner by the Municipal Board of Canvasser (MBC) for the position of Mayor of Mapanas, Northern Samar during the May 8, 1995 elections over another candidate, petitioner Laudenio. Five days after, Laudenio filed with respondent COMELEC a petition to annul Longcop’s proclamation and to declare the constitution of the MBC and its proceedings illegal. He alleged that the MBC repeatedly adjourned the canvassing of votes and secretly reconvened with a new Chairman who was appointed by the Provincial Election Supervisior, not by the COMELEC. Petitioner Laudenio filed an election protest before the Regional Trial Court. The COMELEC dismissed Laudenio’s petition for lack of merit, stating that he was deemed to have consented to the new composition of the MBC when he actively participated in the proceedings otherwise, he should have appealed the issue on appeal to the COMELEC and the pre-proclamation controversy was no longer possible since Longcop had already been proclaimed and assumed office. Laudenio filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the COMELEC. Laudenio petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the COMELEC’s decision. Issue: Whether the pre-proclamation controversy filed by Laudenio with COMELEC was proper? the

Held: The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. Under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, a pre-election controversy which relates to the illegal composition of the Board must be filed immediately when the Board begins to act as such or at the time of the appointment of the member whose capacity to sit as such is objected to if it comes after the canvassing of the Board or immediately at the point where the proceedings begin to be illegal. In the case of Laudenio, he filed his petition 5 days after Longcop had been proclaimed. A pre-proclamation controversy before the COMELEC is no longer possible and must be dismissed after a proclamation has been made. Besides, he can no longer question the Board’s composition after having actively participated in the proceedings.

Election Laws

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LAGUMBAY vs. COMELEC ( 16 SCRA 175, 1966 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, C. Issues Which May Be Raised” Facts: This is a petition for revision of the order of the COMELEC refusing to reject returns of certain precincts of some municipalities in Mindanao which were “obviously manufactured”. It appeared that all the 8 candidates of the Liberal party garnered all the votes, with each of them receiving exactly the same number of votes while all the 8 candidates of the Nacionalista party getting zero. Issue: Whether the COMELEC was correct in not rejecting “obviously manufactured” election returns of certain questioned precincts. Held: The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. There is no such thing as blockvoting now-a-days. The election returns showing all 8 candidates of the Liberal party getting all the votes, with each one of them getting the same number of votes while the 8 nacionalista candidates got zero are evidently false or fabricated because of the inherent improbability of such a result. It is against statistical improbabilities especially because al least 1 vote should have been received by the Nacionalista candidates, i.e. the Nacionalista inspector. While it is possible that the inspector did not like his party’s senatorial live-up, it is not, however, possible that he disliked all of such candidates and it is also not likely that he favored all the 8 candidates of the Liberal party. Hence, most probably, he was made to sign an obviously false return by force or duress. If he signed voluntarily, then he betrayed his party and any voting or counting of ballots was a fraud and a mockery of the popular will. Rejecting such returns on the ground that they are manifestly fabricated or falsified would constitute a practical approach to the COMELEC’s mission to insure a free and honest elections.

Election Laws

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OLFATO vs. COMELEC ( 103 SCRA 741, 1981 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, B. COMELEC Jurisdiction” Facts: During the January 30, 1980 local elections, petitioner Olfato and the other petitioners were the official Nationalista Party (NP) candidates for Mayor and Sanggunian Bayan, respectively, of Tanauan, Batangas. On the other hand, Lirio was the official candidate of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) fo Mayor of said town. Three (3) days after the elections, private respondent Lirio, together with the candidates in his ticket, filed with COMELEC a petition for suspension of the canvass and proclamation of winning candidates for the elective positions of Tanauan, alleging disenfranchisement of voters, terrorism, fake ID’s of voters and flying voters. Based on the result of canvass of votes, Olfato and the rest of the petitioners were proclaimed as the duly elected Mayor and Sanggunian members. Lirio filed a supplemental petition praying for the annulment of petitioner Olfato’s proclamation citing fake voters and massive disenfranchisement which affects the very integrity of the election returns. He also filed an election protest against Olfato in the CFI of Batangas citing fake voters, fake voter’s identification cards, flying voters, substitute voters and massive disenfranchisement. Olfato assumed the office of Mayor. The COMELEC issued a Resolution dismissing Lirio’s petition and reinstating the proclamation made by the MBC of respondent Olfato and the entire ticket, without prejudice to other legal remedies under the Election Code. Issue: Whether the COMELEC has jurisdiction over the pre-proclamation Controversy filed by Lirio? Held: The Supreme Court riled in the affirmative citing previous rulings of the Court. The COMELEC has the power and authority to inquire into the allegation of fake voters, with fake ID’s in a pre-proclamation controversy in order to determine the authenticity or integrity of election returns or whether such election returns faithfully record that only registered or genuine voters were allowed to vote. Under the election Code, the COMELC is the sole judge of all proclamation controversies. The COMELEC has vast powers under the Election Code in consonance with its primordial task of insuring free, orderly and honest elections. The Court dismissed the petition for review filed by Lirio and directed the COMELEC to proceed with dispatch on the pre-proclamation controversy (petition for suspension of canvass and proclamation of winning candidates). The court noted that the COMELEC Resolution considered the proclamation made in favor of Olfato and his ticket as temporary in nature as it was made subject to the final outcome of the preproclamation case.

Election Laws

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DIPATUAN vs. COMELEC ( 185 SCRA 86, 1990 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, A. Defined” Facts: Petitioner Dipatuan and private respondent Amanoddin were mayoralty candidates of Bacolod, Grande during the 1988 special local elections in Lanao del Sur. The Board of Canvassers chaired by a certain Mangray proclaimed petitioner Dipatuan as Mayor. Five days thereafter, a separate Board headed by Minalang proclaimed private respondent Amanoddin as the duly elected mayor. Both proclamations were set aside by the COMELEC en banc which convened a Special Board of Canvassers in Manila to recanvass the election returns from Bacolod Grande. During the recanvass, petitioner Dipatuan sought the exclusion of the election returns from 2 precincts for being “spurious and obviously manufactured” citing the alphabetical and chronological sequence in the voting, which he considered as a preproclamation controversy. The Special Board denied petitioner Dipatuan’s objection, which was affirmed on appeal by the COMELEC Second Division and COMELEC en banc. Petitioner Dipatuan asked the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the COMELEC (both the Second Division and COMELEC en banc). Issue: Whether the issue on questioned election returns from the 2 precincts raised by petitioner Dipatuan presented a pre-proclamation controversy? Held: The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. The questioned election returns were not obviously manufactured or not authentic, which is a requirement under Section 243 of the Omnibus Election Code to qualify as a pre-proclamation controversy. Mere alphabetical and chronological voting does not constitute fraud which will justify the exclusion of election returns. Petitioner Dipatuan does not claim that the election returns themselves were not authentic. What he argued is that where election returns, though genuine or authentic in character, are reflective of fraudulent acts done before or carried out by the Board of Election Inspectors, the return should be deemed as “obviously manufactured”. On the other hand, private respondent Amanoddin was able to satisfactorily explain why the Board of Election Inspectors adopted voting by alphabetical order.

Election Laws RAMIREZ vs. COMELEC ( 270 SCRA 590, 1997 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, A. Defined”

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Facts: The Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) of Gipolos, Eastern Samar proclaimed petitioner Ramirez winner in the vice-mayoralty race over another candidate, private respondent Go based on the results showing that Ramirez obtained more votes than Go. Go petitioned COMELEC for correction of manifest error claiming that owing to error in addition, he was credited with lesser votes. The COMELEC en banc issued a Resolution directing the MBC to reconvene and recompute the votes in the Statement of Votes and proclaim the winning candidate. Acting on separate motions filed by Ramirez and Go, the COMELEC en banc affirmed its earlier resolution. Ramirez petitioned the Supreme Court to annul the 2 COMELEC en banc resolutions and to reinstate his proclamation as the duly elected vice-mayor. He alleged that the COMELEC en banc had no jurisdiction over the controversy since it was not yet acted upon by a division of the COMELEC. Issue: Whether the COMELEC en banc has jurisdiction to act directly on the petition for correction of manifest error filed by private respondent Go? Held: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative, citing Rule 27, Section 5 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules which provides correction of manifest errors in the tabulation or tallying of results during the canvassing as one of the pre-proclamation controversies which maybe filed directly with the COMELEC en banc. The Supreme Court annulled the COMELEC resolutions but directed COMELEC to reconvene the MBC or if this is not feasible, to constitute a new MBC in Gipolos, Eastern Samar and to order it to promptly revise the Statement of Votes based on the election returns from all the precincts of the Municipality and thereafter, proclaim the winning candidate.

Election Laws

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ATTY. ROSAURO I. TORRES vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS ( 270 SCRA 315 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, A. Defined” Facts: On 9 May 1995 the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Tanza, Cavite, issued a Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation of the Winning Candidates for Municipal Offices. Two (2) days after or on 11 May 1995 the same Municipal Board of Canvassers requested the COMELEC for correction of the number of votes garnered by petitioner who was earlier proclaimed as the fifth winning candidate for councilor. Upon prior authorization, the Municipal Board of Canvassers issued a corrected Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation of the Winning Candidates which included private respondent Vicente Rafael A. de Peralta as the eighth winning councilor and excluded petitioner from the new list of winning candidates. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC has the power to grant such authority. Held: In Duremdes v. COMELEC, this Court sustained the power of the COMELEC En Banc to order a correction of the Statement of Votes to make it conform to the election returns in accordance with a procedure similar to the procedure now embodied in Sec. 7, Rule 27, of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. Since the Statement of Votes forms the basis of the Certificate of Canvass and of the proclamation, any error in the statement ultimately affects the validity of the proclamation. The Statement of Votes is merely a tabulation per precinct of the votes obtained by the candidates as reflected in the election returns. What is involved in the instant case is simple arithmetic. In making the correction in the computation the Municipal Board of Canvassers acted in an administrative capacity under the control and supervision of the COMELEC. Pursuant to its constitutional function to decide questions affecting elections, the COMELEC En Banc has authority to resolve any question pertaining to the proceedings of the Municipal Board of Canvassers.

Election Laws

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FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS ( 211 SCRA 315 ) “Pre-Proclamation Controversy, A. Defined” Facts: On May 5, 1992, this Court issued a Resolution in GR No. 104704, disqualifying Melchor Chavez, private respondent therein, from running for the Office of Senator in the May 11, 1992 elections. Petitioner filed an urgent motion with the Comelec praying that it (1) disseminate through the fastest available means this Court’s Resolution dated May 5, 1992 to all regional election directors, provincial election supervisors, city and municipal election registrars, boards of election inspectors, the six (6) accredited political parties and the general public; and (2) order said election officials to delete the name of Melchor Chavez as printed in the certified list of candidates tally sheets, election returns and to count all votes cast for the disqualified Melchor, Chavez in favor of Francisco I. Chavez. On May 8, 1992, the Comelec issued Res. No. 92-1322 which resolved to delete the name of Melchor Chavez from the list of qualified candidates. However, it failed to order the crediting of all “Chavez” votes in favor of petitioner as well as the cancellation of Melchor Chavez’ name in the list of qualified candidates. Issue: Whether or not the law allows pre-proclamation controversy involving the election of the members of the Senate. Held: A simple reading of the petition would readily show that petitioner has no cause of action, the controversy presented being one in the nature of a pre-proclamation. While the Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over pre-proclamation controversies involving local elective officials (Sec. 242, Omnibus Election Code), nevertheless, pre-proclamation cases are not allowed in elections for President, Vice-President, Senator and Member of the House of Representatives. Sec. 15 of Republic Act 7166 provides: “For purposes of the elections for President, Vice-President, Senator and Member of the House of Representatives, no pre-proclamation cases shall be allowed on matters relating to the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and appreciation of the election returns or the certificate of canvass, as the case may be. However, this does not preclude the authority of the appropriate canvassing body motu propio or upon written complaint of an interested person to correct manifest errors in the certificate of canvass or election returns before it.

Election Laws

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GIL GALLARDO vs. FRANCO RIMANDO ( 187 SCRA 464 ) “Canvass and Proclamation, D. Proclamation” Facts: Petitioner Gil C. Gallardo and private respondent Franco F. Rimando were rival candidates for the Office of Municipal Mayor of Naguilian, La Union, in the local election of January 18, 1988. On January 19, 1988, Rimando was proclaimed the winner over Gallardo by a margin of 12 votes. On January 22, 1988, Gallardo filed in the COMELEC a petition to annul the proclamation of Rimando. On December 8, 1988, the COMELEC dismissed the petition. On June 30, 1989, Gallardo filed an election protest. Rimando filed a motion to dismiss the protest on the ground that it was not filed within ten (10) days after the proclamation of the results of the election fixed in Sec. 51 of the Omnibus Election Code. Issue: Whether or not the petitioner’s election protest was filed on time. Held: Rimando was proclaimed by the Municipal Board of Canvassers as the duly elected municipal mayor of Naguilian on January 19, 1988. Two (2) days later, or on January 21, 1988, Gallardo filed in the COMELEC a pre-proclamation petition to annul the proclamation. Hence, only eight (8) days of the reglementary period for filing an election protest remained. This period was suspended during the pendency of the pre-proclamation case, i.e., while it was pending in the COMELEC and in the Supreme Court, until Gallardo received on June 23, 1989 the Supreme Court’s final resolution dismissing his petition for review of the COMELEC’s decision in said case. After June 23, 1989, the eight-day remainder of the reglementary period to file an election protest resumed running. The deadline was July 1, 1989. Gallardo seasonably filed his election protest on the 7th day — June 30, 1989.

Election Laws

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LOONG vs. COMELEC (216 SCRA 760, 1992) “Canvass and Proclamation, D. Proclamation” Facts: In the May 8, 1995 elections held in the Province of Sulu, petitioner Tupay T. Loong and private respondent Abdusakur Tan ran for the position of Governor, while petitioner Kimar Tulawie and private respondent Munib Estino were candidates for the position of Vice-Governor. After the canvass of the election returns of sixteen (16) of the eighteen (18) municipalities of Sulu, respondent Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBC) recommended to the COMELEC a recanvass of the election returns of Parang and Talipao. COMELEC, accordingly, relieved all the regular members of the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) and ordered such recanvass by senior lawyers from the COMELEC office in Manila. During the re-canvass, private respondents objected to the inclusion in the canvass of the election returns of Parang. Respondent PBC, however, denied aforesaid objections of private respondents, on the ground that only the certificate of canvass was forwarded to it and that private respondents allegedly failed to object to the canvass of said certificate. Issue: Whether or not COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion. Held: While, however, the COMELEC acted within its jurisdiction in taking cognizance of the private respondents’ petition to annul the election results of or to declare failure of elections in Parang, Sulu, it committed grave abuse of discretion when confronted with essentially the same situation in petitioners’ own petition to annul the elections of or to declare failure of elections in the municipalities of Tapul, Panglima Estino, Pata, Siasi and Kalinggalang Caluang. The COMELEC arbitrarily and without valid ground dismissed the said petition respecting the aforementioned five municipalities. The untimeliness of the petition is an untenable argument for such dismissal, because as Commissioner Regalado Maambong pointed out in his own dissenting opinion, no law provides for a reglementary period within which to file annulment of elections when there is as yet no proclamation.

Election Laws

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FLOREZIL AGUJETAS, vs. COURT OF APPEALS ( 261 SCRA 17 ) “Canvass and Proclamation, D. Proclamation” Facts: In the fateful evening of January 21, 1988, the Provincial Board of Canvassers for the Province of Davao Oriental, proclaimed the winners for the Governor, ViceGovernor, and Provincial Board Members for Davao Oriental in the January 18, 1988 election. The eighth board member proclaimed, Pedro Pena, garnered 30,679 votes when another candidate for the Board, Erlinda Irigo, got 31,129 or 450 more votes than Pena. Before the proclamation was made, when the certificate of canvass and proclamation statements of winning candidates were finished, a verbal protest was lodged by Mrs. Maribeth Irigo Batitang, daughter of candidate Irigo during the canvassing proceedings, addressed to the Tabulation Committee. The following day, January 23, 1988, Board Member Candidate Erlinda V. Irigo filed her written protest with the Board of Canvassers. A complaint against the three board members for violation of BP 881 (Omnibus Election Code) and RA 6646 (The Electoral Reform Law of 1987) was filed. The trial court found them guilty. On appeal petitioners alleged that, it is the failure to make a proclamation on the basis of Certificate of Canvass, and not mere erroneous proclamations, which is punishable under Sec. 262 in relation to Sec. 231(2) of the Omnibus Election Code. Issue: Whether or not petitioners are correct in their contentions. Held: To go by the explanation as proposed by the petitioner would be tantamount to tolerating and licensing boards of canvassers to “make an erroneous proclamation” and still be exculpated by just putting up the inexcusable defense that the “foul-up resulted from the erroneous arrangement of the names of candidates” in one municipality or that “the basis of their proclamation was the erroneous ranking made by the tabulation committee”. That would be a neat apology for allowing the board to be careless in their important task by simply claiming that they cannot be held liable because they did their “duty” of proclaiming the winning candidates on the basis of the certificate of canvass — even “erroneous” certificates — which they made.

Election Laws

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SALACNIB F. BATERINA, et al., vs. COMELEC, et al., ( 205 SCRA 1 ) “Canvass and Proclamation, D. Proclamation” Facts: Petitioner Salacnib F. Baterina was a candidate for Governor of Ilocos Sur in the special local elections held on 25 January 1988. The other petitioners were candidates for Vice Governor and Provincial Board Members, in the same local elections. In the course of the canvass proceedings, verbal objections were raised by petitioners to certain election returns based on the grounds mentioned in Sections 233, 234, 235 and 236, in relation to the preparation, transmission, receipt and custody of the election returns. The objections were aimed at excluding the election returns from the canvass. Petitioners submitted to the BOARD their objections in written form within twenty four (24) hours from the time the verbal objections were made as required in Section 245 of the Omnibus Election Code. On September 6, 1990, the COMELEC en banc issued a Resolution affirming the Resolutions dated 23 March 1988 and 5 June 1989, containing rulings adversely against petitioners. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC can be faulted with grave abuse of discretion in issuing its en banc Resolution dated September 6, 1990. Held: The Court thinks not. The date “21 January 1988” appearing in the Resolution of the COMELEC First Division is plainly a typographical error. The correct date is 31 January 1988. This fact does it ipso facto annul a proclamation which may have been already made. In this regard, petitioners’ reliance on Section 245 to support their claim of nullity of the proclamation made by the BOARD for lack of authorization from the COMELEC is misplaced. In which case, no proclamation can be made by the Board of Canvassers without authorization of the COMELEC until after the latter has ruled on the objections brought to it on appeal by the losing party. In the case at bar, when the proclamation was made by the BOARD on 31 January 1988, there was no pending appeal filed by petitioners before the COMELEC from the rulings made by the BOARD on their objections to election returns rendered on 29, 30 and 31, 1988. What was filed by petitioners on 30 January 1988, before the proclamation, was a petition seeking merely to restrain the canvass and proclamation or suspend the effects of any proclamation. This petition, however, is clearly not the appeal referred to in Section 245 that will operate to bar the BOARD from making any proclamation of the winning candidates without authority from the COMELEC after the latter has ruled on the objections elevated to it on appeal. Consequently, there was no legal impediment to the proclamation of private respondents by the BOARD on 31 January 1988.

Election Laws

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MICHAEL O. MASTURA vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS ( 285 SCRA 493 ) “Canvass and Proclamation, C. Nature of Proceedings” Facts: Petitioner Michael O. Mastura and private respondent Didagen P. Dilangalen were congressional candidates for the first district of Maguindanao during the 8 May 1995 elections. In the canvassing of votes, Dilangalen objected to the inclusion of the Certificate of Canvass of the Municipality of Matanog on the ground that the same was allegedly tampered. Upon examination and comparison of the copies of the election returns of the MTC Judge and the COMELEC, the latter found that, indeed, the Certificate of Canvass of the Municipality of Matanog had been tampered with. Consequently, the COMELEC Second Division issued the herein assailed Order of 29 February 1996 annulling the Certificate of Canvass of Matanog, and which also created a new Municipal Board of Canvassers for the Municipality of Matanog. Mastura objected to the inclusion of fifty (50) out of the fifty-seven (57) election returns on the ground that the COMELEC copy of the election returns was not reflective of the true results unless compared with the copy of the original Municipal Board of Canvassers. But the new Municipal Board of Canvassers believed otherwise; hence, it included in the canvass the fifty (50) election returns objected to by Mastura. As a result, private respondent Dilangalen was proclaimed the duly elected member of the House of Representatives, First District of Maguindanao. Mastura now comes to us imputing to public respondent COMELEC Second Division grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in issuing its Orders of 29 February 1996, 5 March 1996, 14 March 1996, and 20 March 1996. Issue: Whether or not COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the February 29, 2996 Order and in using the COMELEC Copy of the returns instead of the copy of the original MBC. Held: We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent COMELEC. It is settled jurisprudence that COMELEC can suspend the canvass of votes pending its inquiry whether there exists a discrepancy between the various copies of election returns from the disputed voting centers. Corollarily, once the election returns were found to be falsified or tampered with, the COMELEC can annul the illegal canvass and order the Board of Canvassers to reconvene and proclaim the winners on the basis of the genuine returns or, if it should refuse, replace the members of the board or proclaim the winners itself. It should also be noted that all the seven copies of the election returns are all original copies, although the copy for the Municipal Board of Canvassers is designated as the first copy.

Election Laws

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GRAND ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRACY vs. COMELEC ( 150 SCRA 665 ) “Canvass and Proclamation, C. Nature of Proceedings” Facts: In this special civil action for certiorari, the petitioners seeks to restrain respondent COMELEC from canvassing the senatorial elections just concluded and to declare a failure of such elections on the ground of alleged irregularities in the conduct thereof. The said election body is claimed to have conspired with the private respondents, official candidates of the Lakas ng Bansa, to frustrate and falsify the will of the electorate. This petition could have been dismissed outright as deficient in form and substance, being couched in general terms only, without precise indication of the time, place and manner of the commission of the alleged irregularities as a basis for annulling the elections throughout the country, let alone the jurisdictional infirmity. Issue: Whether or not the Restraining Order against the COMELEC should be issued. Held: The petition lacks merit and at best is premature until after the COMELEC has heard and resolved petitioner’s complained. The alleged irregularities such as the omissions of the COMELEC in the distribution and protection of the election forms and paraphernalia, involved the discharge of its administrative duties and so do not come under the jurisdiction of this Court, which can review the decisions, orders and rulings of the body only in cases of grave abuse of discretion committed by it in the discharge of its quasi-judicial powers. Moreover, the administrative shortcomings complained of should not and cannot operate to divest the people of their right of suffrage. The COMELEC is the body entrusted by the Constitution to enforce all laws relative to the conduct of elections. It should be permitted to discharge its constitutional role without obstruction or molestation, subject only to review by this Court when and as the occasion may warrant in accordance with our own constitutional duty. That occasion is not now. Hence, we hold that, as the canvass of the senatorial elections is still in progress and there being no showing of any valid justification to restrain it in its ascertainment of the electorate’s will.

Election Laws

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NICOLAS C. CASTROMAYOR vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (250 SCRA 298 ) “Canvass and Proclamation, B. Duty of the BOC” Facts: Petitioner was a candidate for a seat in the eight-member Sangguniang Bayan of the municipality of Calinog, Iloilo in the elections held on May 8, 1995. On May 10, 1995, the winners were proclaimed on the basis of the results of the canvass which showed that petitioner received 5,419 votes and took eighth place in the election for members of the Sangguniang Bayan. However, when Alice M. Garin, Chairman of the MBC, rechecked the totals in the Statement of Votes the following day, she discovered that the number of votes cast for Nilda C. Demorito, as member of the Sangguniang Bayan, was 62 more than that credited to her. The returns from one precinct had been overlooked in the computation of the totals. As matters stood, therefore, the total number of votes cast for Demorito was 5,470, or 51 more than the 5,419 votes cast for petitioner. Atty. Rodolfo Sarroza, the Regional Election Director advised Garin to request authority from the COMELEC to reconvene for the purpose of correcting the error. A formal letter was later sent to the COMELEC on May 17, 1995. On May 23, 1995, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 95-2414, directing the Municipal board of Canvassers of said municipality to reconvene to annul the proclamation of Nicolas C. Castromayor for the number 8 place for councilor; and to proclaim the winning number eight (8) councilor, and to submit compliance hereof within five (5)days from receipt of notice. Petitioner protested the proposed action in a letter dated June 5, 1995 to COMELEC Executive Director Resurreccion A. Borra, questioning the legality of the actuations of Garin. Hence, this petition to annul COMELEC Resolution No. 95-2414. Issue: Whether or not the MBC has the power to reconvene to annul a proclamation upon prior authorization from the COMELEC. Held: Yes. It should be pointed out, in this connection, that what is involved here is a simple problem of arithmetic. The Statement of Votes is merely a tabulation per precinct of the votes obtained by the candidates as reflected in the election returns. In making the correction in computation, the MBC will be acting in an administrative capacity, under the control and supervision of the COMELEC. Hence any question pertaining to the proceedings of the MBC may be raised directly to the COMELEC en banc in the exercise of its constitutional function to decide questions affecting elections.

Election Laws

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GUIAO vs. COMELEC ( 137 SCRA 366, 1985 ) “Canvass and Proclamation, B. Duty of the BOC” Facts: After the canvass of the returns for assemblyman in Pampanga, petitioner Ben Guiao, who lost, submitted his written objections to the inclusion of several returns in the canvass. He asked that a subpoena be issued to the members of the citizens election committee. The Board of Canvassers denied the request for the subpoena and dismissed the objections for failure of petitioner to substantiate them and proclaimed the winners. Petitioner questioned the proclamation of the private respondent but did not question the proclamation of other winners who belonged to his political party. Issue: Whether or not the BOC should issue a subpoena. Held: Petitioner cannot challenge the proclamation of any one of the candidates. The proclamation cannot be void as to one and valid with respect to the others. The written objection of the petitioner were not timely presented. The time to object in writing in any election return is when it is being examined by the board of canvassers. The board of canvassers was correct in refusing to subpoena the members of the citizen election committee. The function of the board of canvassers is purely ministerial. To have acceded to the request of the petitioner would have made the board a hearing body to ascertain the issue of duress and other irregularities alleged by petitioner.

Election Laws CASIMIRO vs. COMELEC ( 171 SCRA 468, 1989 )

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“Canvass and Proclamation, A. Canvassing by Provincial, City, District and Municipal Board” Facts: In January 1988 local elections, Gabriel P. Casimiro a UNIDO candidate for Mayor of Las Pinas, metro Manila with other UNIDO party member filed various petitions before the COMELEC which among others was the petition to enjoin board of canvassers from canvassing of votes or tabulating unofficial election returns. The COMELEC in resolving the aforesaid cases rendered a consolidated decision dismissing the petition declaring that they acquired no jurisdiction over the petitions. With the lifting of the restraining order previously issued, respondent Riguera and other winning candidates were proclaimed. COMELEC en banc ddenied a motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid decision. On August of 1988, petitioner Casimiro and UNIDO party files an instant petition for certiorari and mandamus against the COMELEC and Rosalino Riguera as principal respondent alleging that the canvass proceedings in the COMELEC central office were illegal for having been made without prior notice to them as to the date and time of canvassing for which reason they the left the proceedings and that many election returns were canvassed more than once, tampered with, padded and were spurious relying on the affidavit of their own head watcher/representative. Issue: Whether or not there is illegality in the canvass. Held: The court ruled that no grave abuse of discretion could be attributed to the COMELEC in upholding the validity of the canvassing at its main office. The letter having clearly referred also to transfer of the venue of the canvass, petitioner cannot justifiably claim the notice was lacking or the said notice was meant only for the transfer of election returns. If petitioner were absent during the canvassing it was because they have opted to leave the proceedings for reasons of their own. Furthermore, the evidence relied upon mainly by petitioners to support their charges of fraud and irregularities in the election returns and in the canvassing consisted of affidavits prepared by their own representatives. As this court has pronounced reliance should not be placed on mere affidavits. Wherefore, petitions are hereby dismissed.

Election Laws AQUINO vs. COMELEC ( 22 SCRA 288, 1968 )

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“Canvass and Proclamation, A. Canvassing by Provincial, City, District and Municipal Board” Facts: For the purpose of filling twelve vacancies in the City Board of Canvassers in Nov. 1967 local election in Butuan City, the COMELEC issued a resolution constituting the members of the said City Board of Canvassers. The petitioners Jose Aquino et.al. question in their petition the legality of the appointment by the COMELEC of the chief of police, council secretary, chief of fire department and others as substitute members of the City Board of Canvassers to take the place of seven city councilors, upon the ground that those seven substitutes are not persons who are referred to in Section 159 of the Revised Election Code, in the event of the absence or incapacity of any member of a city board of canvassers. They contended that the seven substitute should be persons to be appointed by the President of the Phil. Not by COMELEC, pursuant to the provisions of section 28 of the said code, hence they are not legally appointed and proclamation of whoever would be illegal and invalid. Issue: Whether or not the appointment of the members of the board is valid. Held: The courts find the petition not meritorious. It was held that the City Board of Canvassers is an entity that is entirely different and distinct from the city board or city council. While members of the city board or a provincial board or of a municipal council, are members also of a city board of canvassers or a provincial or a municipal board of canvassers, as the case may be, they do not act in the board of canvassers in the capacity of city councilmen, or in the capacity of a member of the provincial or municipal board but as an election officials to perform functions specifically provided by law. Moreover, the COMELEC must appoint as substitute s the officials specifically mentioned in the Code, and if more substitutes are needed after those officials have been appointed, the COMELEC may appoint other officials of the province or city until provincial board of canvassers or the city, as the case may be, had fully constituted.

Election Laws SABINIANO vs. COMELEC ( 101 SCRA 289, 1980 )

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“Canvass and Proclamation, A. Canvassing by Provincial, City, District and Municipal Board” Facts: Petitioners were Nacionalista Party candidate for Mayor, Vice-Mayor and Sanguniang Panlunsod members of the City of Dagupan, while private respondents were KBL official candidates in 1980 local elections. Respondent City Board of Canvassers proclaimed private respondents as duly elected candidates to various aforesaid positions above-mentioned. Petitioners filed a petition with the respondent COMELEC praying for annulment of the election, ex-parte canvassing and the proclamation of the private respondents on the ground of lack of notice and undue haste in the canvass and proclamation, tampering with, alteration and falsification of election returns as well as other irregularities during and after the elections. COMELEC resolved to suspend the effects of the proclamation of the private respondents. Petitioners filed a supplementary petition. Private respondents, however filed a motion for reconsideration contending that COMELEC is without jurisdiction in issuing the questioned resolution. Petitioner Sabiniano herself filed an urgent motion for reconsideration and issuance of an order to suspend the effects of the proclamation until after hearing is conducted . At the end of all these petitions, the COMELEC declare the respondent Manaois as duly elected Mayor. Hence this recourse. Issue: Whether or not the proclamation is valid. Held: Petition has no merit. It is clear therefore that the charge of petitioners of various irregularities of the election returns anchored mainly on the alleged excess votes is without basis. Had the petitioner taken the pain of adding correctly the votes obtained by them per tabulation, she would have discovered it easily. The difference between the total number of votes of all the Mayoralty candidates and the number of votes who actually voted was but result of the innocent mistake in the addition of number of votes cast for Manaois and Sabiniano in the 30 voting centers.

Election Laws QUILALA vs. COMELEC ( 188 SCRA 502, 1990 )

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“Canvass and Proclamation, A. Canvassing by Provincial, City, District and Municipal Board” Facts: Petitioner Cirilo M. Quilala was KBL candidate for Mayor in the Municipality of Currimao, Ilocos Norte while private respondent Wilbur Go was the official administration candidate for the same position in Jan. 18, 1988 elections. The Municipal Board of Canvassers completed its canvass in the afternoon of Jan. 19, and immediately thereafter proclaimed the winning candidate in the person of Wilbur C. Go. On Jan. 21, 1988, petitioner filed a petition with the COMELEC principally anchored on allegation that petitioner was not represented in the canvassing of election returns. Respondent COMELEC issued its decision dismissing the petition and confirming the validity of the proceeding of the Board of Canvassers. Petitioner filed a case for annulment of the proclamation on the ground that he was not represented when the canvass of the election returns was resumed, as he was not notified of the time and place of the resetting of the canvassing. Issue: Whether or not the canvass is valid. Held: Petitioner may not claim ignorance of the aforesaid provisions as these are matters directly affecting his political fortune. Consequently, with or without notice, it was the duty of the petitioner and all candidates for that matter to assign their watchers or representatives in the counting of votes and canvassing of election returns in order to insure the sanctity and purity of the ballots.

Election Laws ESPINO vs. ZALDIVAR ( 21 SCRA 1204, 1967 )

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“Canvass and Proclamation, A. Canvassing by Provincial, City, District and Municipal Board” Facts: Private respondent Dumlao lodged with the COMELEC a petition praying that COMELEC direct the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Nueva Viscaya to use COMELEC’s copies of the election returns from six precincts. COMELEC issued an order from enjoining the board from canvassing the election returns without COMELEC’s prior order. The Board nonetheless proceeded to canvass the returns from entire province. COMELEC issued a resolution directing the board to canvass the votes using the Municipal Treasurer’s copies, instead of those of the Provincial Treasurer, in the six precincts of Aglipay and thereafter proclaim candidates elected. This is because of the alleged finding of irregularities in the Provincial Treasurer’s copies of returns. The petition herein states that on the very same day, the board of canvassers signed the certificate of canvass and proclamation and proclaimed Corazon Espino over Dumlao. The return of Dumlao contrariwise avers that no meeting of the board took place on the date specified, that the members signed the alleged certificate of canvass and proclamation did so in different places and on different dates. As a result new board has been constituted and tallied the votes using the figures appearing in the Municipal Treasurer’s copies as a result Dumlao was proclaimed Governor-elect. The Office of the President thru Assistant Executive Secretary Zaldivar recognize Dumlao as newly elected governor. Hence this petition. Issue: Whether or not the Certificate of Canvass and Dumlao’s proclamation is valid. Held: The court ruled that the Commission is, certainly, with power to direct a canvass with the use of genuine documents. For that, the proclamation of the original board is null and void. And , for the purpose of a canvass, substitutes for erring members of the board of canvassers may be appointed. Considering that there are seven members of the provincial board of canvassers, four constitute a quorum. Even if one is eliminated, still there is a quorum. The result is that the certificate of canvass and proclamation of Dumlao is valid.

Election Laws GARAY vs. COMELEC ( 261 SCRA 222, 1996 ) “Counting of Votes, B. BEI to Issue Certificate of Votes to Watchers”

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Facts: Petitioner Gerry B. Garay and respondent Jaime Gata Jr. were opposing candidates for Vice-Mayor in the May,1995 elections in the Municipality of Matnog, Province of Sorsogon. After the results of the elections were canvassed in 73 precincts, petitioner Garay was leading by twenty votes. The canvassing excluded the results from one remaining precinct because armed men seized the ballot box, the election returns and other election papers in that precinct. Respondent submitted a certificate of votes signed by the Board of Election Inspectors showing that he won in that precinct by forty –eight votes, but the Municipal Board of Canvassers refused to accept it as proof of the results. Respondent appealed to the Commission on Election and submitted a copy of the tally showing that he won in the remaining precinct by twenty-eight votes. Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections held a special election in the remaining precinct because of the loss of the election documents. Petitioner won. Later on, the COMELEC ordered the proclamation of respondent on the ground that the results of the election in that precinct could be ascertained on the basis of the tally board, which was authentic. Issue: Whether or not a Certificate of Votes can be a valid basis for canvass. Held: A certificate of vote can never be a valid basis for canvass. It can only be evidence to prove tampering or any other anomaly committed in the election returns. In like manner, the tally board is not sufficient evidence of the results of the election. Only election returns are evidence of results of the election. The participation of the respondent in the special election estopped him from relying on the certificates of votes and the tally board. The decision to hold special election had long become final. The COMELEC had lost its jurisdiction to set aside the decision.

Election Laws BALINDONG vs. COMELEC ( 27 SCRA 567, 1969 ) “Counting of Votes, B. BEI to Issue Certificate of Votes to Watchers”

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Facts: During the 1967 general elections, the following , with their respective party affiliations, were amongst the mayoralty candidates for Ganassi: Uso Dan Aguamofficial candidate for Liberal Party; Alim Balingong- Independent Liberal Party and a certain Daud Marohombsar for Nacionalista Party. Uso Dan Aguam was proclaimed Mayor-elect of Ganassi by the municipal board of canvassers. Alim Balindong unaware of the proclamation of the former, filed suit in the court for annulment of elections in various precincts to restrain the canvass and proclamation of the official municipal- elect. Court declared no jurisdiction over the case. Uso Dan Aguam took his oath of office and started to act as mayor. It was only thereafter that Balindong went to COMELEC for the annulment of the previous canvass and proclamation declaring Aguam winner and for the opening of the ballot box in precinct. It was assailed that the board of canvassers was illegally constituted since it was the municipal treasurer upon instruction of the COMELEC who appointed members of the said board which was admittedly composed of recommendees of the local chapter of the Liberal Party and alleged irregularities attending the said canvass of the board. Issue: Whether or not there is irregularity in the appointment and in the canvass. Held: The canvassing board of Ganassi was illegally constituted. Three substitute members thereof were recommended by the local chapter of the Nacionalista Party to which the substituted members belonged at the time of their disqualification. This violates the section 167 of the Revised Election Code as clarified in certain Ibuna case which explains that the said section 167 requires the substitute members of the municipal board of canvassers to be recommendees of the political party to which the substituted members belonged at the time of their disqualification. Hence, where a member of the board of canvassers designated by law is excluded from the canvass by reason of which he did not take part therein, the canvass and the resulting proclamation are both null and void.

Election Laws SILVERIO vs. CASTRO ( 19 SCRA 222, 1967 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots”

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Facts: Private respondent Castro was proclaimed elected and thereafter assumed the office. Petitioner Silverio on the other hand, filed a protest before the court. Subsequently and before hearing of the said election case, Castro died , hence, Vice-Mayor Clamor succeeded to the office of Mayor. After hearing, the trial court declared Silverio winner. Appeal was taken therefrom, Castro having died, required Vice-Mayor Clamor to intervene. Appellants presents for review 119 ballots. Accordingly, these ballots are allegedly prepared by one person, containing erasures, found to be marked and should thus have been rejected. Issue: Whether or not the ballots should be rejected. Held: It was held that the issue raised involves rules of appreciation of ballots in an election case. And the purpose of election laws is to ,give effect rather than frustrate the will of the voter. Thus extreme caution should be observed before any ballot is invalidated and in the appreciation of ballots, doubts are to be resolved in favor of their validity. Moreover applying the rule of liberality in the appreciation of ballots, it should noted the general resemblance or pictorial effect is not enough to warrant the conclusion that certain ballots were prepared by one person. With respect to erasures which are plainly corrections of errors, not evidencing any purpose of marking, did not invalidate the ballots. Judgment appealed from is hereby reversed.

Election Laws TRAJANO vs. INCISO ( 19 SCRA 340, 1967 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots”

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Facts: In the election for Mayor of Lawa-an, Samar on Nov.12, 1963, Mateo Inciso was proclaimed Mayor-elect by the Board of canvassers. Trajano filed on Nov. 27, 1963 an election protest with the court. After trial and appreciation of contested ballots, the court rendered decision finding protestee Inciso winner. Trajano appealed stating in his notice of appeal raising only questions of law. He puts an issue 56 ballots alleging errors in their appreciation. He alleged that 31 ballots should all be rejected as marked ballots as they consists of ballots filled by two persons before leaving, deposited in the ballot box and thus null and void under Rule 23 of Section 149 of the Revised Election Code. Seven ballots consists of ballots purportedly with votes for Trajano as Mayor, however, were not counted by the Board of Canvassers in his favor. Lastly, a group of 18 ballots, all of which were counted for protestee Inciso which contended also by Trajano as marked and thus should have been rejected. Issue: Whether or not the ballots should be rejected. Held: The court held respecting the first group of ballots, that the allowance or rejection of a ballot filled in by more than one person depends on its condition before it was cast in the ballot box. If at the time it was cast it was filled by only one person, but thereafter it was tampered and entries were made thereon by the other persons, the ballot is valid. If, on the other hand, it already bore the fillings of two or more persons when cast, said ballot is deemed marked and is thus void.

Election Laws

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GEROMO vs. COMELEC ( 1982 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots” Facts: In the local election held on 30 January 1980, petitioner Jose Geromo, a mayoralty candidate under the banner of the Concerned Citizens Aggrupation (CCA for brevity), garnered 4,993 votes as against 4,886 votes obtained by his opponent, private respondent Paciano Guillen, the candidate of the Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan (KBL) for the same position. On 31 January 1980, petitioner was proclaimed duly elected Mayor of Molave, with a plurality of 107 votes over private respondent and has assumed office. On 5 February 1980, private respondent filed an election protest against petitioner with the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga del Sur. On 18 December 1980, the Trial Court rendered a Decision finding that private respondent Guillen obtained a total of 5,219 votes as against 4,952 votes for petitioner Geromo, or a margin of 267 votes. Geromo now questions the action of public respondent in its appreciation of the ballots. Issue: Whether or not Comelec committed an error in the appreciation of ballots. Held: Respondent Court and the COMELEC did not invalidate the ballots on which the spaces for Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Sangguniang Bayan were filled with names of non-candidates and, instead, considered the votes for those offices as stray. Petitioner contends, however, that the ballots should have been declared marked and disregarded. Public respondents’ findings are in conformity with the rule for the appreciation of ballots. It has been held that in the absence of evidence aliunde that names of non-candidates were intended for purposes of identification, the same shall be considered as stray votes such shall not invalidate the whole ballot. Further, it is a well-settled rule in election contests that the marks which shall be considered sufficient to invalidate the ballots are those which the voter himself deliberately placed on his ballot for the purpose of identifying it thereafter. Neither can public respondents be assailed for considering the ballots on which “KBL” was written on the wrong spaces, without other writings, as valid block votes for the entire KBL ticket. Although written in the wrong spaces, the intention of the voters to vote for the entire ticket is clear. No evidence aliunde had been presented below to prove that the voters intended to identify their ballots or themselves, or otherwise violate the secrecy of the ballot.

Election Laws

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DOMINGO vs. RAMOS ( 17 SCRA 749, 1966 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots” Facts: In the mayoralty elections of Rosales, Pangasinan held on November 12, 1963, Fernando Ramos was proclaimed winner over Silvestre Domingo, his closest rival, by a majority of eleven votes. Domingo filed a protest and the CFI of Pangasinan rendered judgment declaring him elected by a plurality of fifteen votes. There were 31 questioned ballots for Domingo and 53 for Ramos. The Court of Appeals rejected 4 and counted 26 for Domingo out of his questioned 31 ballots, while out of the 50 questioned ballots for Ramos, 6 were rejected and 44 were counted in his favor. Ramos thus obtained a total of 2,618 votes. The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the CFI and declared Ramos as the winner. Domingo filed an appeal by certiorari to the Supreme Court. He claims that 14 votes that were counted for Ramos should be considered stray since “A. Ramos” was written in the space for mayor. Issue: Whether or not the votes are considered stray. Held: The votes cast for “A.Ramos” for mayor are stray. Since the written name was accompanied by an initial, paragraph 1, section 149 of the Revised Election Code does not apply. This provision refers to a case when only the Christian name or one word, which is the Christian name of a candidate and the surname of his opponent, has been written by the voter. Neither does paragraph 6 of same section apply, because the initial and the surname written are those of another candidate, although for another office, in which case the latter must be deemed to be the person voted for. The claim that the letter “A” in “A.Ramos” stands for “Ando”, the common contraction of the name “Fernando”, cannot be sustained. The Revised Election Code speaks of initial of a name or surname, not of a nickname. As a matter of fact, certificates of candidacy cannot contain nicknames of candidates.

Election Laws GADON vs. GADON ( 9 SCRA 652, 1963 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots”

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Facts: Protestant Sulpicio Gadon and protestee Pedro Gadon were the respective candidates of the Nacionalista and Liberal Parties for the position of Mayor of Despujols, Romblon. The municipal board of canvassers proclaimed Pedro Mayorelect with a plurality of 3 votes. The Sulpicio filed a protest, alleging fraud and irregularities in the counting of votes in two precints, while the Pedro filed a counterprotest contesting the balloting and/or counting of votes in six precints. After considering the ballots cast and uncontested, as well as those claimed by either party and protested by the other, the trial court adjudged Sulpicio winner by eleven votes. Both candidates appealed the decision, and claimed that certain ballots should have been rejected or counted in their favor. Issue: Whether or not the lower court made a correct appreciation of the ballots. Held: The following circumstances were considered in declaring the ballots affected as marked and invalid: the unexplained presence of the letters “O.P.” after the name of those voted for councilors, quite prominent letters written with a remarkably good hand; the word “Daldo” written on the blank space opposite the word “councilors”, with no reasonable explanation for its presence; an impertinent unnecessary and identifying expression below the last line for councilors, namely: “My vote is heartily dedicated”; and, writing a big figure “O”, not the initial of the candidate. The following circumstances were considered innocent mistakes and not sufficient to render the ballots marked: writing the name “Pajo”, a candidate for Senator, at a wrong place; writing “Eco Baranda” the name of two candidates, one for Senator and the other of Provincial Board Member, on one line; desisting from filling all the spaces on the ballot; writing prefixes to the name of the candidate like “Manong”, “Nong”, “Ping”, “Don”, “Tio”, where there is no discernible pattern to the use of such prefixes which would reveal an intention to mark the ballots; writing the prefixes “manoy”, “mandoy”, and “pare enoy” before the names voted for various positions, where the prefixes are explained to be colloquial expressions in Visayan which connote respect, equivalent to the Tagalog “ka” or the English “Mr.”, and; writing the prefix “Dr.” before the name of candidates who are either a Doctor of Medicine or a Doctor of Pharmacy.

Election Laws

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PANGONTAO vs. ALUNAN ( 6 SCRA 853, 1962 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots” Facts: In the elections held on November 10, 1959, respondent Flores Alunan and petitioner Anastacio Pangontao were among the candidates for mayor of Talakag, Bukidnon. The municipal board of canvassers proclaimed Pangontao as mayor-elect with a plurality of 37 votes over Alunan. The latter filed an election protest in the CFI of Bukidnon. Said court re-affirmed the election of Pangontao but his winning margin was reduced. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling and declared Alunan as the winner. Petitioner claimed that the following should be considered as marked ballots: a) one where the word “Nubia” was written on the first line for councilors; b) one where the word “bulag” was written beside the name “Kiliron” on the space for councilors; c) those where numbers were written at the reverse side of the ballot; and d) those ballots where Alunan was also voted for senator. Issue: Whether or not the ballots should be considered as stray. Held: Where the word “Nubia”, which was the nickname of a person was written in the first line for councilors, the vote cast is a stray vote, but the ballot remained valid. The word “bulag” written after the name “Kiliron” on the first space for councilors, was merely descriptio personae and does not invalidate the ballot. Where a number written on the reverse side of a ballot does not appear to have been written by the voter himself, the ballot is valid. The circumstance that the name of a candidate for mayor appears not only on the space for mayor but also on the space for senator, does not invalidate the ballot. The vote cast for senator should be considered as a stray vote.

Election Laws TAJANLANGIT vs. CAZEÑAS ( 5 SCRA 567, 1962 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots”

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Facts: Petitioner Tajanlangit and respondent Cazeñas were among the candidates for the position of mayor of Dao,Antique, in the elections held on November 10, 1959. The municipal board of canvassers declared that Tajanlangit won over Cazeñas by three votes. Cazeñas filed an election protest before the CFI of Antique contesting the result of the elections. Tajanlangit also filed a counter-protest. The lower court ruled in favor of Cazeñas, but his winning margin was reduced to two votes. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, but reduced respondents lead by just one vote. Tajanlangit filed this appeal to contest the ruling made by the appellate court with regards to sixteen ballots. Issue: Whether or not the appellate court erred in its appreciation of the ballots. Held: The use of two kinds of writing appearing in the ballot is a good example of the exemption provided in paragraph 18, section 149 of the Election Code, which provides that unless it should clearly appear that it has been deliberately put by the voter to serve as identification mark, the use of two or more kinds of writing shall be considered innocent and shall not invalidate the ballot. In the absence of evidence aliunde that names of non-candidates were intended for purposes of identification, the same shall be considered as stray votes which shall not invalidate the whole ballot. It is a well-settled rule in election contest that the marks which shall be considered sufficient to invalidate the ballot are those which the votes himself deliberately placed in his ballot for the purpose of identifying it thereafter.

Election Laws GALIDO vs. COMELEC ( 193 SCRA 78, 1991 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots”

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Facts: Petitioner Galido and respondent Galeon were candidates during the January 18, 1988 local elections for the position of mayor in Garcia-Hernandez, Bohol. Petitioner was proclaimed as winner by the municipal board of canvassers. Galeon filed an election protest before the RTC of Bohol. The lower court upheld the petitioner’s proclamation by a majority of eleven votes. Galeon appealed and the First Division of Comelec reversed the decision. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied by the Comelec en banc. The Commission ruled that fifteen ballots containing the letter “C” after the name “Galido” were marked. Issue: Whether or not the ballots were marked. Held: In several cases decided by the Supreme Court, it was held that in the appreciation of ballots where there is no evidence aliunde of a purpose to identify the ballots, the same should not be invalidated as marked ballots. The Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it disregarded the cited decisions of the Supreme Court and declared that the suffix “C” after the name of Galido was in reality a countersign and not a mere erroneous initial.

Election Laws BAUTISTA vs. COMELEC ( 296 SCRA 480, 1998 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots”

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Facts: Petitioner Cipriano “Efren” Bautista was a duly registered candidate for the position of Mayor of Navotas, Metro Manila in the May 11, 1998 elections. A certain Edwin “Efren” Bautista also filed a certificate of candidacy for the same position. Petitioner filed a petitioner praying that Edwin Bautista be declared nuisance candidate. Comelec, in a resolution dated April 30, 1998, declared Edwin Bautista as a nuisance candidate and accordingly, his name was not included in the list of candidates for mayor. Edwin Bautista filed a motion for reconsideration, which was still pending at the date of election. During the counting of votes, separate tallies of ballots on which were written “Efren Bautista”, “Efren”, “E. Bautista”, and “Bautista” were made by the Board of Election Inspectors. The municipal board of canvassers refused to canvass as part of the valid votes of petitioner theses separate tallies. Issue: Whether or not these votes should have been included to those cast for petitioner. Held: It must be emphasized that the instant case involves a ground for disqualification which clearly affects the voters’ will and causes confusion that frustrates the same. This is precisely what election laws are trying to protect. They give effect to, rather than frustrate, the will of the voter. Thus, extreme caution should be observed before any ballot is invalidated. Further, in the appreciation of ballots, doubts are resolved in favor of their validity. A stray vote is invalidated because there is no way of determining the real intention of the voter. This is, however, not the situation in the case at bar. Significantly, it has also been established that by virtue of newspaper releases and other forms of notifications, the voters were informed of the Comelec’s decision to declare Edwin Bautista as a nuisance candidate. It is improper and strained to limit petitioner’s votes to the ballots which only indicate the name “Cipriano” when it is of public knowledge that petitioner is also known by the appellation and nickname “Efren” which he in fact registered as his nickname.

Election Laws BAUTISTA vs. CASTRO ( 206 SCRA 305,1992 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots”

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Facts: Both petitioner Bautista and respondent Miguel were candidates for the position of Barangay Captain of Brgy. Teachers Village East, Quezon City in the barangay elections held on May 17, 1982. After canvass, Bautista was proclaimed as the winner with a plurality of two votes. Miguel filed an election protest. The City Court of Quezon City ruled that both candidates received the same number of votes. Upon appeal, the CFI of Rizal declared Miguel as the winner and set aside Bautista’s proclamation. The latter filed a petition to the Supreme Court alleging that respondent judge committed mistakes in his appreciation of the contested ballots. Issue: Whether or not there was error in the appreciation of ballots. Held: The presence of an arrow in the contested ballots with the words “and party” was meant to identify the voter, and such writings were not accidental. As a rule, a voter must write on the ballot only the names of candidates voted for the offices appearing thereon. Certain exceptions were provided for in the Revised Election Code, such as the prefixes “Sr.,” “Mr.,” and the like and the suffixes such as “hijo,” “Jr.,” etc. will not invalidate the ballot. Initials, nicknames or appellation of affection and friendship will not invalidate the ballot, if accompanied by the name or surname of the candidate, and above all, if they were not used as a means to identify the voter. Respondent court correctly invalidated the ballot wherein the name of the candidate was written seven times. The writing of a name more than twice on the ballot is considered to be intentional and serves no other purpose than to identify the ballot.

Election Laws SANCHEZ vs. COMELEC ( 153 SCRA 67, 1987 ) “Counting of Votes, A. Rules for Appreciation of Ballots”

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Facts: Augusto Sanchez filed his petition praying that respondent Comelec be directed to conduct a recount of the votes cast in the May 11, 1987 senatorial elections to determine the true number of votes to be credited to him on the ground that the votes intended for him were declared as stray votes because of the sameness of his surname with that of disqualified candidate Gil Sanchez, whose name had not been crossed out from the election returns. Issue: Whether his petition for recount and/or re-appreciation of ballots filed with the Comelec may be considered a summary pre-proclamation controversy falling within the Comelec’s exclusive jurisdiction. Held: Petitioner contends that the canvassed returns discarding “Sanchez” votes as stray were “incomplete” and therefore warrant a recount or re-appreciation of the ballots under Section 234. A simple reading of the basic provisions of the cited section shows readily its inapplicability. By legal definition and by the very instructions of the Comelec, an election return is incomplete if there is “omission in the election returns of the name of any candidate and/or his corresponding votes” or “in case the number of votes for a candidate has been omitted.” Here, the election returns are complete and indicate the name of Sanchez as well as the total number of votes that were counted and appreciated as votes in his favor by the boards of inspectors. The fact that the some votes written solely as “Sanchez” were declared stray votes because of the inspectors’ erroneous belief that Gil Sanchez had not been disqualified as a candidate, involves an erroneous appreciation of the ballots. It is established by law as well as by jurisprudence that errors in the appreciation of ballots by the board of inspectors are proper subjects for election protest and not for recount or re-appreciation of ballots. The appreciation of ballots cast in the precincts is not a “proceeding of the board of canvassers” for purposes of pre-proclamation proceedings, but of the board of election inspectors who are called upon to count and appreciate the votes in accordance with the rules of appreciation provided in section 211 of the Omnibus Election Code.

Election Laws

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ALBERTO A. VILLAVERT vs. TOBIAS FORNIER ( G.R. No. L-3050. October 17, 1949 ) “Casting of Votes” Facts: This is an election contest involving the office of provincial governor of Antique, the contending parties being the registered candidates for said office in the election held on November 11, 1947. The provincial board of canvassers declared Alberto A. Villavert elected with a majority of 60 votes. Tobias Fornier protested, and the trial court found that he had obtained a majority of 36 votes over Villavert and consequently declared him elected. Villavert appealed to the Court of Appeals and the latter also found that Tobias Fornier had won the election with a majority of 28 votes. Issue: Whether or not the 40 ballots were properly rejected by the Court of Appeals on the ground that Villavert’s name was written not on the dotted line following the words “Provincial Governor” but on the double line immediately above said words and below the instructions to the voter. Held: The 40 ballots were valid. The provision of section 135 of the Revised Election Code that the voter shall fill his ballot by writing in the proper space for each office the name of the person for whom he desires to vote, does not necessarily invalidate votes cast for a candidate for provincial governor whose name is written not on the dotted line following the words “Provincial Governor” but on the double line immediately above said words and below the instructions to the voter. The purpose of said provision is to identify the office for which each candidate is voted. It cannot be doubted that the intention of the voter in writing the name of said candidate was to vote him for one of the offices specified on the ballot. Neither can there be any reasonable doubt that the office for which the voter intended to vote said candidate was that of provincial governor (1) because that was the office for which he was a registered candidate, (2) because the space on which his name was written was such that the vote could not have been intended for a member of the provincial board or for any other office specified farther down in the ballot, and (3) because no other name was written on the dotted line immediately following the words “Provincial Governor.” If the intention of the voter can be ascertained in an indubitable manner, as in this case, it should be given effect not frustrated.

Election Laws

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CANUTO F. PIMENTEL vs. PEDRO FESTEJO ( G.R. No. L-2327. January 11, 1949) “Casting of Votes” Facts: Pedro Festejo was proclaimed elected as mayor of Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur, in the elections of November 11, 1947, with 1,108 votes against 1,101 votes in favor of Canuto F. Pimentel. The latter protested. The trial court found that Festejo received 1,107 votes and Pimentel 1,101 votes and, consequently, dismissed the protest. Appellant appealed, contending that the lower court erred in not crediting to him the fifty-nine ballots mentioned in his first three assignments of error as votes in his favor, with which he would appear to have received a total of 1,160 votes and, therefore, enough majority to win the election. As stated in appellant’s brief, his name in the thirty-seven ballots mentioned in his first assignment of error “was written on the line corresponding to vice-mayor,” in the eight ballots mentioned in his second assignment of error “was written on the line corresponding to the second space for member of the provincial board,” and in the fourteen ballots mentioned in his third assignment of error “was written in the space for councilor.” Either names of other persons, not candidates for mayor, are written in the space for mayor in said ballots, or said space appears to be in blank. Issue: Whether or not appellant can claim as votes in his favor ballots with his name which does not appear written in the space reserved for mayor. Held: For any ballot to be counted for a candidate for mayor, it is indispensable that his name is written by the voter in the proper space for mayor, which word is clearly printed in the ballot and cannot be mistaken by a person who, as provided by the Constitution, is able to read. A name can be counted for any office only when it is written within the space indicated upon the ballot for the vote for such office (Lucero vs. De Guzman, 45 Phil., 852). It is impossible to count a ballot as vote for a candidate for mayor, when his name is clearly written in the space reserved for another office.

Election Laws

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RAFAEL I. AMURAO vs. INDALECIO CALANGI, ET AL. ( G.R. No. L-12631. August 22, 1958 ) “Casting of Votes” Facts: In the general elections of November 8, 1955, Rafael I. Amurao and Indalecio Calangi were candidates for the office of mayor of Mabini, Batangas. After a canvass of the votes, the municipal board of canvassers found that Calangi had obtained 2,015 votes and Amurao 2,010 votes, and proclaimed Calangi mayor-elect by a majority of five (5) votes. Amurao filed a protest in the CFI of Batangas impugning the returns from nine precincts of Mabini on the grounds of fraud, error and irregularities. After trial, the lower court rendered a decision declaring Amurao mayor-elect of Mabini with a majority of six (6) votes, having received 2,101 votes as against 2,095 adjudicated to Calangi. The Court of Appeals to which the decision was appealed by Calangi reversed this decision and declared Calangi the duly elected mayor of Mabini with a total of 2,140 votes, or a plurality of 74 votes over Amurao, who obtained 2,066 votes. Issue: Whether or not the votes cast in certain ballots which were appreciated by the Court of Appeals are invalid for not having been written on the proper space for mayor. Held: The votes cast were invalid. The voter should write the name of the person he intends to vote for in the proper space indicated in the ballot for the office for which he is a candidate in order to avoid any doubt or confusion as to the candidate he intends to vote for. The provision of the law on this point should be strictly followed so that a deviation therefrom would render the vote invalid and of no effect. Indeed, section 135 of the Revised Election Code provides that the voter, on receiving his ballot, shall fill the same “by writing in the proper space for each office the name of the person for whom or the name of the party for which he desires to vote”… The philosophy behind the rulings above adverted to is to make of these legal provisions mandatory in order to avoid any confusion in the minds of the officials in charge of election as to the candidates actually voted for and stave off any scheming design to identify the vote of the elector thereby defeating the secrecy of the ballot which is the cardinal feature of our Election Law.

Election Laws FELIX V. KATIPUNAN vs. ( G.R. No. 43043. December 19, 1935 ) “Casting of Votes” JULIO A.

73 ANTIPORDA

Facts: The Court of First Instance in this case declared Antiporda municipal president-elect of Binañgonan, Rizal, with a majority of 10 votes over the protestant Katipunan. The Supreme Court, upon appeal, affirmed said decision, having found, after considering the grounds of the appeal, that the protestee still had a majority of four votes over the protestant. A petition for reconsideration of the decision of SC was filed and it was granted. Consequently, the SC decision rendered on July 30, 1935, was set aside and the case was set for rehearing. The petitioner and appellant assigns as the court’s first error its failure to count in his favor 73 of the 89 ballots cast in precinct No. 3 after 6 o’clock in the afternoon of the election day by voters who were unable to vote at that time but were within a radius of 50 meters from the precinct. Issue: Whether or not 89 ballots cast in precinct No. 3 after 6 o’clock in the afternoon of the Election Day by voters who were unable to vote at that time but were within a radius of 50 meters from the precinct were valid. Held: The 89 ballots were valid. Evidence was presented by the appellant to the effect that 89 voters, whose names appear in the list Exhibit C, were within the radius of 50 meters at the closing of the precinct. It is, therefore, undisputed that there were voters within the radius of 50 meters at the closing of the voting. The law provides that in such case these voters should be allowed to vote, even after 6 o’clock in the afternoon.

Election Laws PIO VALENZUELA vs. JUAN B CARLOS ( G.R. No. 17565. December 7, 1921 ) “Casting of Votes”

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Facts: At the general election held in the Province of Bulacan on June 3, 1919, three persons presented themselves as candidates for the office of provincial governor, to wit, Juan B. Carlos, Pio Valenzuela, and Silvino Lopez. When the election was over, it was found that, Juan B. Carlos had been elected provincial governor. Dissatisfied with the result, Pio Valenzuela, in due time filed a motion to contest the election. Upon submission of the case for decision, CFI of Bulacan, decided that Carlos had been elected and accordingly dismissed the contest. From this decision the contestant appealed. One of the assigned errors was that the action of the judge in repairing to the municipality of Bustos was unauthorized and that the judicial acts there done are devoid of legal effect. The matter was regards the taking of testimonies from the numerous voters from the first precinct of Bustos presented in the CFI. Issue: Whether or not the court erred in admitting as evidence the testimonies of voters. Held: The lower court was correct in admitting the testimonies of voters as evidence. Where the returns from a certain precinct are impugned as fraudulent, and it is found upon opening the boxes that they have been violated, the candidate in whose interest the act of violation is alleged to have been committed may introduce as witnesses voters who, waiving their privilege of secrecy, will swear that they voted for him. Such evidence is admissible for the purpose of rehabilitating the returns.

Election Laws

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JOSE LINO LUNA vs. EULOGIO RODRIGUEZ ( G.R. No. 13744. November 29, 1918 ) “Casting of Votes” Facts: An election for the office of governor of the Province of Rizal was held on the 6th day of June, 1916. At said election Jose Lino Luna, Eulogio Rodriguez and Servando de los Angeles were candidates for said office. The election was closed, the votes cast were counted, and a return was made by the inspectors of said municipalities to the provincial board of Canvassers, who, after a canvass, proclaimed Eulogio Rodriguez, having received a plurality of said votes, as duly elected governor of said province. Jose Lino Luna presented a protest in the CFI and a new trial was ordered. Additional evidence was adduced. Judge McMahon found that the inspectors in Binangonan did not close the polls at 6 o’clock p.m., and that a large number of persons voted after that time. The judge then directed that the total vote of Rodriguez be reduced, without ascertaining how many had been cast for Rodriguez and how many for Luna. Issue: Whether or not the ballots cast after the hour fixed for closing were valid. Held: The ballots were valid. The law provides that “at all elections, the polls shall be open from seven o’clock in the morning until six o’clock in the afternoon.” The polls should be open and closed in strict accord with said provisions. Voters who do not appear and offer to vote within the hours designated by the law should not be permitted to vote if the time for closing the polls has arrived. Upon the other hand, if the voter is prevented, during the voting hours, from voting, and is not permitted to vote by reason of the failure of the inspectors to do their duty, then, certainly, in the absence of some fraud, neither such votes nor the entire vote of the precinct should be annulled simply because some votes were cast after the regular hours. The ballot of the innocent voter should not be annulled and he should not be deprived of his participation in the affairs of his government when he was guilty of no illegal act or fraud. The election inspectors should be held to comply strictly with the law. If they violate the law, they should be punished and not the innocent voter.

Election Laws

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ERNESTO M. PUNZALAN vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS ( G.R. No. 126669. April 27, 1998 ) “Casting of Votes” Facts: Danilo Manalastas, Ferdinand Meneses and Ernesto Punzalan were among the four (4) candidates for mayor of the municipality of Mexico, Pampanga during the May 8, 1995 elections. On May 24, 1995, the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) proclaimed Ferdinand Meneses as the duly elected mayor. Danilo Manalastas and Ernesto Punzalan filed an election protest before the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga. After hearing the election protests, the trial court rendered judgment on September 23, 1996 declaring Punzalan as the duly elected mayor. Thereafter, Meneses filed a notice of appeal from the aforesaid decision On December 8, 1997, the COMELEC promulgated a resolution setting aside the trial court’s decision and affirming the proclamation of Meneses by the MBC as the duly elected mayor of Mexico, Pampanga. Punzalan filed a motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid resolution. Punzalan maintains that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion in declaring as valid the ballots credited to Meneses which did not bear the signature of the BEI chairman at the back thereof, invoking the ruling of the Supreme Court in Bautista v. Castro wherein it was held that the absence of the signature of the BEI chairman in the ballot given to a voter as required by law and the rules as proof of the authenticity of said ballot is fatal. Issue: Whether or not the ballots without the BEI Chairman’s signature are valid. Held: A ballot without BEI chairman’s signature at the back is valid. While Section 24 11 of Republic Act No. 7166, otherwise known as “An Act Providing For Synchronized National and Local Elections and For Electoral Reforms,” requires the BEI chairman to affix his signature at the back of the ballot, the mere failure to do so does not invalidate the same although it may constitute an election offense imputable to said BEI chairman. Nowhere in said provision does it state that the votes contained therein shall be nullified. It is a well-settled rule that the failure of the BEI chairman or any of the members of the board to comply with their mandated administrative responsibility, i.e., signing, authenticating and thumbmarking of ballots, should not penalize the voter with disenfranchisement, thereby frustrating the will of the people.

Election Laws MARCELINO C. LIBANAN vs. HRET ( G.R. No. 129783. December 22, 1997 ) “Casting of Votes”

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Facts: Petitioner Marcelino Libanan and private respondent Jose Ramirez were among the candidates for the lone congressional seat of Eastern Samar in the May 1995 elections. After the canvass of the returns was made on 13 May 1995, the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Eastern Samar proclaimed respondent Ramirez to have been duly elected Representative of the District. Petitioner Libanan filed an election protest before the HRET claiming, among other things, that the absence of the BEI Chairman’s signature at the back of the ballots could not but indicate that the ballots were not those issued to the voters during the elections thus, indicating that they were spurious and invalid. He averred that the law would require the Chairman of the BEI to authenticate or sign the ballot before issuing it to the voter. Issue: Whether or not the ballots without the BEI Chairman’s signature are valid. Held: A ballot without BEI chairman’s signature at the back is valid and not spurious, provided that it bears any one of these other authenticating marks, to wit: (a) the COMELEC watermark; and (b) in those cases where the COMELEC watermarks are blurred or not readily apparent, the presence of red and blue fibers in the ballots. What should, instead, be given weight is the consistent rule laid down by the HRET that a ballot is considered valid and genuine for as long as it bears any one of these authenticating marks, to wit: (a) the COMELEC watermark, or (b) the signature or initials, or thumbprint of the Chairman of the BEI; and (c) in those cases where the COMELEC watermarks are blurred or not readily apparent to the naked eye, the presence of red or blue fibers in the ballots. It is only when none of these marks appears extant that the ballot can be considered spurious and subject to rejection.

Election Laws

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JUAN SUMULONG vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTION ( G.R. No. 47903. November 29, 1940 ) “Board of Election Inspectors, A. Composition” Facts: In a petition addressed to the Commission on Elections, Juan Sumulong, as president of “Pagkakaisa ng Bayan” (Popular Front Party), claims minority representation on the boards of election inspectors in the impending general election for provincial and municipal officials and not Pedro Abad Santos, thus requesting that the Commission recognize him as such. The Commission dismissed the petition contending that it has no jurisdiction to decide whether the petitioner or Pedro Abad Santos is the real head of Pagkakaisa ng Bayan. Issue: Whether or not respondent Commission is empowered to determine on the issue of who among the parties has the right to minority representation on the board of election inspectors. Held: The Commission on Election is empowered to decide on who shall have the right to minority representation on the board of election inspectors. Specifically and categorically stated, the right to minority representation on the board of election inspectors is tested by the following rules and is subject to the following conditions: (1) The political organization in whose behalf the claim is made must be a political party in the sense that it is “an organized group of persons pursuing the same political ideals in a government” (sec. 76, Comm. Act No. 357). This is a question of fact, or a mixed question of fact and law. (2) The political party must have taken part at the immediately preceding election and obtained the next largest number of votes at said election (sec. 70, ibid.) In concurrence with a “political group” in the locality, the political party is entitled to preferential recognition, if it had taken part in the immediately preceding election and had received votes and the claim of the party to representation is made in good faith. (3) The inspectors of election must be proposed by the authorized representatives of the national directorates of the parties (sec. 73, ibid.). Who constitute the party directorate and who are its authorized representatives for this purpose involve an ascertainment of fact which must be made by the appointing power, subject to the supervisory and reviewing authority of the Commission on Elections (sec. 2 of Comm. Act No. 607.).

Election Laws

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JUANITO C. PILAR vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTION ( G.R. No. 115245. July 11, 1995. 245 SCRA 759 ) “Campaign, D. Statement of Contributions and Expenses”

Facts: On March 22, 1992, petitioner Juanito C. Pilar filed his certificate of candidacy for the position of member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Isabela. On March 25, 1992, petitioner withdrew his certificate of candidacy. In M.R. Nos. 93-2654 and 94-0065 dated November 3, 1993 and February 13, 1994 respectively, the COMELEC imposed upon petitioner the fine of Ten Thousand Pesos for failure to file his statement of contributions and expenditures. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied by the COMELEC. Issue: Whether or not petitioner is liable for failure to file a statement of contributions and expenditures notwithstanding his having withdrawn his certificate of candidacy three days after his filing. Held: The petitioner is liable. Section 14 of R.A. No. 7166 states that “every candidate” has the obligation to file his statement of contributions and expenditures. Well-recognized is the rule that where the law does not distinguish, courts should not distinguish. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. No distinction is to be made in the application of a law where none is indicated. In the case at bench, as the law makes no distinction or qualification as to whether the candidate pursued his candidacy or withdrew the same, the term “every candidate” must be deemed to refer not only to a candidate who pursued his campaign, but also to one who withdrew his candidacy.

Election Laws COLLADO vs. ALONZO (15 SCRA 562) “Campaign, C. Lawful Expenditures”

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Facts: Juan A. Alonzo and Marcelino G. Collado both ran as candidates for mayor of Ballesteros, Cagayan for the 12 November 1963 elections. Alonzo won. Collado commenced an action to disqualify Alonzo on the ground, among others, that the latter had incurred or made excessive expenditures, contrary to the Election Law, when he promised to donate his salary as mayor of the town for the education of indigent but deserving students during his campaign speeches. Issue: Whether Alonzo committed excessive or unlawful expenditures. Held: Alonzo did not spend, in his election campaign, more than the total emoluments attached to the office for one year. The promise (or donation) was not an expenditure during the campaign. Though it has been held previously that “Direct promises, or statements made by candidates for election, that they will, if elected, serve for less than the regularly established salary or fees of the office frequently have been held to be within the denunciation of not only provisions of corrupt practices, but also constitutional, statutory, or common-law inhibitions against bribery”; the current situation is differentiated. Alonzo did not promise to waive collection of his salary but intended to collect it. He merely undertook to spend it in such a way as to help bright and deserving students — not necessarily voters — whose identity could not be known at the time of the elections. It may not be said that this or that voter had been influenced by the scholarship offer, for Alonzo to violate Section 49 of the Election Law (Unlawful expenditures).

Election Laws

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HALILI vs. CA (83 SCRA 633) “Campaign, B. Prohibited Contribution” Facts: Federico Suntay was a gubernatorial candidate in Bulacan in the 1951 elections. Fortunato F. Halili, was the incumbent governor, the Liberal Party head, Suntay’s campaign manager, and was also a public utility operator. Suntay needed funds to finance his campaign. Halili agreed to make cash advances to Suntay. The parties encountered certain obstacles brought about by Articles 47, 48, 183, 184 and 185 of the Revised Election Code. Section 47 (Unlawful contributions) provides that “it shall be unlawful for any corporation or entity operating a public utility or which is in possession of or is exploiting any natural resources of the nation to contribute or make any expenditure in connection with any election campaign.” On the other hand, Section 48 (Limitation upon expenses of candidates) provides that “No candidate shall spend for his election campaign more than the total amount of the emoluments for one year attached to the office for which he is a candidate.” To go around the law, a scheme was hatched for the concealment or for the laundering of the loans and advances of Halili for Suntay’s campaign; and to implement, the advances or loans were made in the names of Halili’s trusted employees as dummies. Suntay “leased” his fishpond to Halili’s employees for a four-year period, with stipulated rental of P8,000 per year. Certain promissory notes were made during the transactions. After the expiration of the “lease contract,” Suntay filed a case against Halili and others, praying that the notes be declared void pursuant to Article 1409 of the Civil Code for lack of consideration and for being contrary to Section 47 and 48 of the Election Law. Issue: Whether Section 47 applies to a natural person and whether Section 48 applies to a non-candidate. Held: If a corporation operating a public utility is prohibited from making a political contribution or expenditure, there is no valid reason for not applying the prohibition (Section 47) to a natural person operating a public service business. Furthermore, Section 48 applies to a non-candidate like Halili because Section 184 of the Revised Election Code (Persons criminally responsible for election offenses) speaks of principals and accomplices. Halili was no ordinary lender and lessee as knew that the rental and the loans would be spent for Suntay’s candidacy. He was not only Suntay’s financial backer but, as campaign manager, he had a hand in the expenditure of the funds supplied by him to Suntay. He was Suntay’s co-principal.

Election Laws NATIONAL PRESS CLUB vs. COMELEC (207 SCRA 1) “Campaign, A. Lawful / Prohibited Election Propaganda”

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Facts: Representatives of the mass media which were prevented from selling or donating space and time for political advertisements, some candidates for office in the May 1992 elections, and taxpayers and voters who claim that their right to be informed of election issues and of credentials was being curtailed, filed petitions raising the issue of the constitutionality of Section 11 (b) of RA 6646. Section 11 (b) provides that “In addition to the forms of election propaganda prohibited under Section 85 of BP 881, it shall be unlawful xxx for any newspapers, radio broadcasting or television station, other mass media, or any person making use of the mass media to sell or to give free of charge print space or air time for campaign or other political purposes except to the Commission as provided under Sections 90 and 92 of BP 881. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer or personality who is a candidate for any elective public office shall take a leave of absence from his work as such during the campaign period.” Issue: Whether the prohibition has gone beyond permissible supervision or regulation of media operations so as to constitute unconstitutional repression of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Held: Section 11 (b) is limited in the duration of its applicability and enforceability, i.e. within election period. It does not cut off the flow of media reporting, opinion or commentary about candidates, their qualifications and platforms and promises. Newspaper, radio broadcasting and television stations remain quite free to carry out their regular and normal information and communication operations. It does not authorize any intervention and much less control on the part of Comelec in respect of the content of the normal operations of media, nor in respect of the content of political advertisements which the individual candidates are quite free to present within their respective allocated Comelec time and Comelec space. There is no “officious functionary of a repressive government” dictating what events or ideas reporters, broadcasters, editors or commentators may talk or write about or display on TV screens. There is here no censorship, whether disguised or otherwise. The provision merely limit paid partisan political advertisements to fora other than modern mass media, and to “Comelec time” and “Comelec space” in such mass media; in an attempt to equalize the situations of rich and poor candidates by preventing the former from enjoying the undue advantage offered by huge campaign “war chests.”

Election Laws

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SANIDAD vs. COMELEC (181 SCRA 529) “Campaign, A. Lawful / Prohibited Election Propaganda” Facts: On 23 October 1989, RA 6766 (Act providing for an organic act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region) was enacted into law. The plebiscite was scheduled 30 January 1990. The Comelec, by virtue of the power vested by the 1987 Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code (BP 881), RA 6766 and other pertinent election laws, promulgated Resolution 2167, to govern the conduct of the plebiscite on the said Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region. Pablito V. Sanidad, a newspaper columnist of “Overview” for the “Baguio Midland Courier” assailed the constitutionality of Section 19 (Prohibition on columnists, commentators or announcers) of the said resolution, which provides “During the plebiscite campaign period, on the day before and on plebiscite day, no mass media columnist, commentator, announcer or personality shall use his column or radio or television time to campaign for or against the plebiscite issues.” Issue: Whether columnists are prohibited from expressing their opinions, or should be under Comelec regulation, during plebiscite periods. Held: Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution that what was granted to the Comelec was the power to supervise and regulate the use and enjoyment of franchises, permits or other grants issued for the operation of transportation or other public utilities, media of communication or information to the end that equal opportunity, time and space, and the right to reply, including reasonable, equal rates therefor, for public information campaigns and forums among candidates are ensured. Neither Article IX-C of the Constitution nor Section 11-b, 2nd paragraph of RA 6646 (“a columnist, commentator, announcer or personality, who is a candidate for any elective office is required to take a leave of absence from his work during the campaign period”) can be construed to mean that the Comelec has also been granted the right to supervise and regulate the exercise by media practitioners themselves of their right to expression during plebiscite periods. Media practitioners exercising their freedom of expression during plebiscite periods are neither the franchise holders nor the candidates. In fact, there are no candidates involved in a plebiscite. Therefore, Section 19 of Comelec Resolution 2167 has no statutory basis.

Election Laws

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BADOY vs. COMELEC (35 SCRA 285) “Campaign, A. Lawful / Prohibited Election Propaganda” Facts: Anacleto D. Badoy, Jr. avers that he is a candidate for delegate to the Constitutional Convention for the lone district of North Cotabato. He prays that Section 12(F) of RA 6132 be declared unconstitutional as the same denies individuals, who are not candidates, their freedom of speech and of the press; and candidates the right to speak and write, discuss and debate in favor of their candidacies or against the candidacies of others. Section 12 (F) provides that the Comelec “shall endeavor to obtain free space from newspapers, magazines and periodicals which shall be known as Comelec space, and shall allocate this space equally and impartially among all candidates within the areas in which the newspapers are circulated. Outside of said Comelec space, it shall be unlawful to print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any advertisement, paid comment or paid article in furtherance of or in opposition to the candidacy of any person for delegate, or mentioning the name of any candidate and the fact of his candidacy, unless all the names of all other candidates in the district in which the candidate is running are also mentioned with equal prominence.” Comelec Resolution RR-724, as amended, merely restates the ban in Section 12 (F). Issue: Whether the ban in Section 12 (F) is valid or constitutional. Held: Under Section 12 (F), the moneyed candidate or individual who can afford to pay for advertisements, comments or articles in favor of his candidacy or against the candidacy of another or which mention his name and the fact of his candidacy, is required to mention all the other candidates in the same district with equal prominence, to exempt him from the penal sanction of the law. The evident purpose of the limitation is to give the poor candidates a fighting chance in the election. The restriction is only one of the measures devised by the law to preserve suffrage pure and undefiled and to achieve the desired equality of chances among all the candidates. Considering the foregoing limitation in Section 12(F) in the light of the other provisions of RA 6132 designed to maximize, if not approximate, equality of chances among the various candidates in the same district, the said restriction on the freedom of expression appears too insignificant to create any appreciable dent on the individual’s liberty of expression. It should be noted that Section 8(a) of the same law, prohibiting political parties from aiding candidates and thus was more restrictive than Section 12(F), was previously upheld to be valid. The limitation in Section 12(F) is a reasoned and reasonable judgment on the part of Congress. It is not unconstitutional.

Election Laws

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MARCOS vs. COMELEC ( 248 SCRA 300 ) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy” Facts: On 8 March 1995, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos filed her Certificate of Candidacy for the position of Representative of the First District of Leyte, indicating that she was a resident of said constituency for seven months. Faced with petition for cancellation and disqualification by the incumbent representative Cirilo Roy Montejo, Marcos filed an amended certificate changing the entry “seven months” to “since childhood.” The Commission on Elections, on 24 April, ordered the disqualification of Marcos from running for the congressional seat of the First District of Leyte. It appears however, that Marcos garnered the most votes in the 8 May election. The Commission on Elections, thus, suspended her proclamation. Issue: Whether the statement in the certificate of candidacy (“seven”) determines whether an individual satisfied the constitution’s residency qualification requirement, to warrant Marcos’ disqualification. Held: It is the fact of residence, not a statement-in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution’s residency qualification requirement. The said statement becomes material only when there is or appears to be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. It would be plainly ridiculous for a candidate to deliberately and knowingly make a statement in a certificate of candidacy which would lead to his or her disqualification. A close look at said certificate would reveal the possible source of the confusion: the entry for residence is followed immediately by the entry for residence in the constituency where a candidate seeks election. Marcos merely committed an honest mistake in jotting down the word “seven,” obviously resulting from the confusion which prompted Marcos to write down the period of her actual stay in Tolosa, Leyte instead of her period of residence in the First district, which was “since childhood” in the space provided. It must be noted again that “residence” is used to indicate a place of abode, whether permanent or temporary, while “domicile” denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, when absent, one has the intention of returning. Residence for election purposes is used synonymously with domicile.

Election Laws SUNGA vs. COMELEC (288 SCRA 76) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy”

86

Facts: Manuel C. Sunga and Ferdinand B. Trinidad (incumbent mayor) were candidates for the position of Mayor in the Iguig, Cagayan, in the 8 May 1995 elections. On 22 April and 7 May, Sunga filed with the Comelec complaints for disqualification against Trinidad (later consolidated in an amended petition), accusing him of using local government vehicles in his campaign, the use of threats, intimidation, terrorism or other forms of coercion, vote buying, and other details. The Comelec Second Division referred the complaint to its Law Department for investigation. Meanwhile, Trinidad garnered the highest number of votes. Sunga moved for the suspension of the proclamation of Trinidad, but the latter was proclaimed nevertheless. Later on, the Comelec En Banc approved the findings of the Law Department in its report of 28 June and directed the filing of the corresponding informations in the Regional Trial Court against Trinidad. On 2 May 1996 Sunga filed a Second Urgent Motion to Suspend the Effects and Annul the Proclamation with Urgent Motion for Early Resolution of the Petition, but such was dismissed by the Comelec’s Second division. Issue: Whether a disqualification case filed before the election should be dismissed if the case remained unresolved after the election. Held: There is nothing in Comelec Resolution 2050 (to which the Comelec relied heavily on, besides the case of Silvestre vs. Duavit, in its comment) declaring, ordering, or directing the dismissal of a disqualification case filed before the election but which remained unresolved after the election. The legislative intent in RA 6646 (Section 6, Effects of Disqualification Case) is that the Comelec should continue the trial and hearing of the disqualification case to its conclusion, i.e., until judgment is rendered thereon. A quasi-judicial body or an administrative agency cannot amend an act of Congress. The fact that Trinidad was already proclaimed and had assumed the position of mayor did not divest the Comelec of authority and jurisdiction to continue the hearing and eventually decide the disqualification case. A candidate has been proclaimed elected does not signify that his disqualification is deemed condoned and may no longer be the subject of a separate investigation. The Court ordered the Comelec to reinstate the disqualification case against Trinidad and to act upon it in light of its pronouncements. Thus, in the event that Trinidad is adjudged to be disqualified, a permanent vacancy will be created for failure of the elected mayor to qualify for the said office. In such eventuality, the duly elected vice-mayor shall succeed as provided by law.

Election Laws NOLASCO vs. COMELEC (275 SCRA 762) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy”

87

Facts: Florentino P. Blanco and Eduado A. Alarilla both vied for the mayoral position of Meycauayan, Bulacan during the election held 8 May 1995. Blanco garnered the highest number of votes. Edgardo Nolasco was elected vice-mayor. On 9 May, Alarilla filed with the Comelec a petition to disqualify Blanco on grounds that the latter committed acts in violation of Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, i.e. for giving money to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing election functions; for committing acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; and for spending in his election campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by the Election Code (P10 million against 97,000 registered voters). On 15 August, the Comelec disqualified Blanco on the ground of vote-buying and ordered the Board of Canvassers of Meycauayan, Bulacan to reconvene and to determine the winner out of the remaining qualified candidates who shall be immediately proclaimed. Blanco moved for reconsideration while Nolasco, as vice mayor, intervened in the proceedings. Nolasco urged that as vice-mayor he should be declared mayor in the event Blanco was finally disqualified. Both motions were denied. Hence, the petition for certiorari. Issue: Whether the disqualification of the mayor-elect warrants the declaration of any of the remaining qualified mayoral candidates, upon the canvassing of votes, as mayor. Held: In a mayoralty election, the candidate who obtained the second highest number of votes cannot be proclaimed winner in case the winning candidate is disqualified. Permanent vacancies (i.e. when an elective local official fills a higher vacant office, refuses to assume office, fails to qualify, dies, is removed from office, voluntarily resigns, or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office) in the Offices of the Governor, Vice Governor, Mayor, and Vice Mayor are governed by Section 44, Chapter 2 of the Local Government Code of 1991 and Article 38 of the Rules and Regulations implementing the Local Government Code of 1991. Vice-Mayor Edgardo C. Nolasco was adjudged as Mayor of Meycauayan, Bulacan in view of the disqualification of mayor-elect Florentino P. Blanco.

Election Laws AQUINO vs. COMELEC (248 SCRA 400) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy”

88

Facts: On 20 March 1995, Agapito A. Aquino filed his Certificate of Candidacy for the position of Representative for the new Second Legislative District of Makati City. In his certificate of candidacy, Aquino stated that he was a resident of the aforementioned district for 10 months. Faced with a petition for disqualification, he amended the entry on his residency in his certificate of candidacy to 1 year and 13 days. The Commission on Elections dismissed the petition on 6 May and allowed Aquino to run in the election of 8 May. Aquino won. Acting on a motion for reconsideration of the above dismissal, the Commission on Election later issued an order suspending the proclamation of Aquino until the Commission resolved the issue. On 2 June, the Commission on Elections found Aquino ineligible and disqualified for the elective office for lack of constitutional qualification of residence. Issue: Whether “residency” in the certificate of candidacy actually connotes “domicile” to warrant the disqualification of Aquino from the position in the electoral district. Held: The place “where a party actually or constructively has his permanent home,” where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain, i.e., his domicile, is that to which the Constitution refers when it speaks of residence for the purposes of election law. The purpose is to exclude strangers or newcomers unfamiliar with the conditions and needs of the community from taking advantage of favorable circumstances existing in that community for electoral gain. Aquino’s certificate of candidacy in a previous (1992) election indicates that he was a resident and a registered voter of San Jose, Concepcion, Tarlac for more than 52 years prior to that election. Aquino’s connection to the Second District of Makati City is an alleged lease agreement of a condominium unit in the area. The intention not to establish a permanent home in Makati City is evident in his leasing a condominium unit instead of buying one. The short length of time he claims to be a resident of Makati (and the fact of his stated domicile in Tarlac and his claims of other residences in Metro Manila) indicate that his sole purpose in transferring his physical residence is not to acquire a new, residence or domicile but only to qualify as a candidate for Representative of the Second District of Makati City. Aquino was thus rightfully disqualified by the Commission on Elections.

Election Laws

89

ORTEGA vs. COMELEC (211 SCRA 297) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy” Facts: Ramon Labo, Jr., who again, believing that he is a Filipino citizen, launched his candidacy for mayor of Baguio City in the 11 May 1992 elections by filing his certificate of candidacy on 23 March. Roberto Ortega also filed his certificate of candidacy for the same office on 25 March. On 26 March, Ortega filed a disqualification proceeding against Labo before the Comelec seeking to cancel Labo’s certificate of candidacy on the ground that Labo made a false representation when he stated therein that the latter is a “natural-born” citizen of the Philippines. On 9 May, the Comelec resolved the petition, denied due course and cancelled Labo’s certificate of candidacy. The next day, acting on Labo’s ex-parte motion, the Comelec allowed Labo to be voted upon as Mayoral candidate until the final resolution of the issue, in the event the case is raised to the Supreme Court. On 13 May, Comelec resolved, motu proprio, to suspend the proclamation of Labo in the event he wins in the elections for the City Mayor of Baguio. On 15 May, Labo filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Labo garnered the highest number of votes. Issue: Whether the resolution canceling Labo’s certificate of candidacy (hence, his disqualification) warrants the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes to be declared Mayor of Baguio City. Held: The 9 May 1992 Comelec resolution cancelling Labo’s certificate of candidacy had already become final and executory on 14 May, a day before Labo filed his petition in the Supreme Court. The Comelec’s ruling is final and executory with 5 days, after the parties the copy thereof, unless restrained by the Supreme Court. This is pursuant to Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, and Section 3 of Rule 39 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure. Labo, thus, cannot be proclaimed as Mayor of Baguio City. His disqualification, however, does not necessarily entitle Ortega to be proclaimed as mayor. The ineligibility of a candidate receiving majority votes does not entitle the eligible candidate receiving the next highest number of votes to be declared elected. A minority or defeated candidate cannot be deemed elected to the office. Having lost in the election for mayor, Ortega was obviously not the choice of the people of Baguio City. As a consequence of both parties’ ineligibility, a permanent vacancy in the contested office has occurred. In view of such vacancy, the vice-mayor elect of the city in the said elections was declared Mayor of Baguio City after being proclaimed by the City Board of Canvassers.

Election Laws GO vs. COMELEC ( 357 SCRA 739, 2001 ) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy”

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Facts: Petitioner was the incumbent representative of the Fifth District, province of Leyte when she filed on February 27, 2001 with the municipal election officer of the municipality of Baybay, Leyte, a certificate of candidacy for mayor of the said municipality. On February 28, 2001, at 11:47 p.m., petitioner filed with the provincial election supervisor of Leyte, with office at Tacloban City, another certificate of candidacy for governor. Simultaneously therewith, she attempted to file with the provincial election supervisor an affidavit of withdrawal of her candidacy for mayor. However, the provincial election supervisor refused to accept the affidavit of withdrawal and suggested that, pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No. 3253-A, she should file it with the municipal election officer of Baybay, Leyte where she filed her certificate of candidacy for mayor. Private respondents filed similar petitions to disqualify petitioner on the ground that petitioner filed certificates of candidacy for two positions, namely, that for mayor, and that for governor, thus, making her ineligible for both. The COMELEC granted the petition and disqualified the petitioner from running for both position. Issue: Whether or not an affidavit of withdrawal of candidacy should be filed with the election officer of the place where the certificate of candidacy was filed. Held: No. There is nothing in Section 73 of the Omnibus Election Code which mandates that the affidavit of withdrawal must be filed with the same office where the certificate of candidacy to be withdrawn was filed. Thus, it can be filed directly with the main office of the COMELEC, the office of the regional election director concerned, the office of the provincial election supervisor of the province to which the municipality involved belongs, or the office of the municipal election officer of the said municipality. While it may be true that Section 12 of COMELEC Resolution No. 3253-A requires that the withdrawal be filed before the election officer of the place where the certificate of candidacy was filed, such requirement is merely directory, and is intended for convenience.

Election Laws GARVIDA vs. SALES, JR. ( 271 SCRA 767, 1997 ) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy”

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Facts: On March 16, 1996, petitioner applied for registration as member and voter of the Katipunan ng Kabataan of Barangay San Lorenzo, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. The Board of Election Tellers, however, denied her application on the ground that petitioner, who was then twenty-one years and ten (10) months old, exceeded the age limit for membership in the Katipunan ng Kabataan. On April 23, 1996, petitioner filed her certificate of candidacy for the position of Chairman, Sangguniang Kabataan. However, respondent Election Officer Dionisio F. Rios disapproved petitioner’s certificate of candidacy again due to her age. Petitioner, however, appealed to the COMELEC Regional Director who set aside the order of respondents and allowed the petitioner to run. Private respondent Florencio G. Sales, Jr., a rival candidate for Chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan, filed with the COMELEC en banc a “Petition of Denial and/or Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy” against petitioner Garvida for falsely representing her age qualification in her certificate of candidacy. The COMELEC en banc granted the petition. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC en banc has the jurisdiction to act on the petition to deny or cancel the petitioner’s certificate of candidacy. Held: No. Under the Rules of Procedure, jurisdiction over a petition to cancel a certificate of candidacy lies with the COMELEC sitting in Division, not en banc. Cases before a Division may only be entertained by the COMELEC en banc when the required number of votes to reach a decision, resolution, order or ruling is not obtained in the Division. Moreover, only motions to reconsider decisions, resolutions, orders or rulings of the COMELEC in Division are resolved by the COMELEC en banc. It therefore acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion when it entertained the petition and issued the questioned order.

Election Laws

92

LOONG vs. COMELEC (216 SCRA 760, 1992) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy” Facts: On 15 January 1990, petitioner filed with respondent Commission his certificate of candidacy for the position of Vice-Governor of the Mindanao Autonomous Region in the election held on 17 February 1990. On 5 March 1990 (or 16 days after the election), respondent Ututalum filed before the respondent Commission a petition seeking to disqualify petitioner for the office of Regional ViceGovernor, on the ground that the latter made a false representation in his certificate of candidacy as to his age. Petitioner Loong sought the dismissal of the petition on the ground that the respondent COMELEC has no jurisdiction. The motion to dismiss was denied by the COMELEC in a resolution which is the subject of this petition. Petitioner Loong contends that SPA No. 90-006 (a petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of petitioner Loong) was filed out of time because it was filed beyond the 25-day period prescribed by Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. Issue: Whether or not SPA No. 90-006 was filed within the period prescribed by law. Held: No. The petition filed by private respondent Ututalum with the respondent COMELEC to disqualify petitioner Loong on the ground that the latter made a false representation in his certificate of candidacy as to his age, clearly does not fall under the grounds of disqualification as provided for in Rule 25 but is expressly covered by Rule 23 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure governing petitions to cancel certificate of candidacy. Moreover, Section 3, Rule 25 which allows the filing of the petition at any time after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy but not later than the date of proclamation, is merely a procedural rule issued by respondent Commission which, although a constitutional body, has no legislative powers. Thus, it can not supersede Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code which is a legislative enactment.

Election Laws

93

PNOC-ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION vs. NLRC ( 222 SCRA 831 ) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy” Facts: In November, 1987, while holding the position of Geothermal Construction Secretary, Engineering and Construction Department, at Tongonan Geothermal Project, Ormoc City, Manuel S. Pineda decided to run for councilor of the Municipality of Kananga, Leyte, in the local elections scheduled in January, 1988, and filed the corresponding certificate of candidacy for the position. Objection to Pineda’s being a candidate while retaining his job in the PNOC-EDC was shortly thereafter registered by Mayor Arturo Cornejos of Kananga, Leyte. Section 66 of the Election Code provides among others that officers and employees of GOCCs are considered as ipso facto resigned upon the filing of their certificate of candidacy. It was the argument of Pineda that PNOC-EDC was not created through a special law, it is not covered by the Civil Service Law and, therefore, not contemplated under Section 66 of the Election Code. Issue: Whether or not an employee in a government- owned or controlled corporation without an original charter falls within the scope of Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code. Held: Yes. If a corporation’s capital stock is owned by the Government, or it is operated and managed by officers charged with the mission of fulfilling the public objectives for which it has been organized, it is a government-owned or controlled corporation even if organized under the Corporation Code and not under a special statute. Employees thereof, even if not covered by the Civil Service but by the Labor Code, are nonetheless “employees in government-owned or controlled corporation,” and come within the letter of Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code, declaring them ipso facto resigned from their office upon the filing of their certificate of candidacy.

Election Laws

94

JURILLA vs. COMELEC ( 232 SCRA 758 ) “Candidates, C. Certificate of Candidacy” Facts: On March 23, 1992, respondent Antonio V. Hernandez filed with the Commission on Elections his certificate of candidacy for one of the contested seats for councilors in the Second District of Quezon City. In Item No. 6 of his certificate he gave as his address “B 26 L 1 New Capitol Estates, Quezon City.” However, he did not indicate in the space provided in Item No. 12 therein his Precinct Number and the particular Barangay where he was a registered voter. His biodata submitted together with his certificate of candidacy gave his address as “Acacia Street, Mariana, Quezon City,” which is a part of the Fourth District of Quezon City. In other words, his certificate of candidacy and his biodata filed with the COMELEC did not expressly state that he was a registered voter of Quezon City or that he was a resident of the Second District thereof within the purview of Sec. 39, par. (a), of the Local Government Code of 1991. Issue: Whether or not the failure of a candidate to indicate his Precinct Number and the particular Barangay where he was a registered voter invalidates his certificate of candidacy. Held: No. It may be gleaned from the provisions of Sec. 39, par. (a), of the Local Government Code of 1991, earlier quoted, that the law does not specifically require that a candidate must state in his certificate of candidacy his Precinct Number and the Barangay where he is registered. Apparently, it is enough that he is actually registered as a voter in the precinct where he intends to vote, which should be within the district where he is running for office. In the case at bar, his failure to state in his certificate of candidacy his Precinct Number is satisfactorily explained by him in that at the time he filed his certificate he was not yet assigned a particular Precinct Number in the Second District of Quezon City. He was formerly a registered voter of Manila, although for the past two (2) years prior to the elections he was already a resident of “B 26, L 1 New Capitol Estates,” admittedly within the Second District of Quezon City

Election Laws RODRIGUEZ vs. COMELEC ( 259 SCRA 296, 1996 ) “Candidates, B. Disqualifications”

95

Facts: The petitioner Eduardo T. Rodriguez was a candidate for Governor in the Province of Quezon in the May 8, 1995 elections. His rival candidate for the said position was Bienvenido O. Marquez, Jr., herein private respondent. Private respondent filed a petition for disqualification before the COMELEC based principally on the allegation that Rodriguez is a “fugitive from justice.” Private respondent revealed that a charge for fraudulent insurance claims, grand theft and attempted grand theft of personal property is pending against the petitioner before the Los Angeles Municipal Court. Rodriguez is therefore a “fugitive from justice” which is a ground for his disqualification/ ineligibility under Section 40 (e) of the Local Government Code according to Marquez. Rodriguez, however, submitted a certification from the Commission of Immigration showing that Rodriguez left the US on June 25, 1985- roughly five (5) months prior to the institution of the criminal complaint filed against him before the Los Angeles Court. Issue: Whether or not Rodriguez is a “fugitive from justice.” Held: No. The Supreme Court reiterated that a “fugitive from justice” includes not only those who flee after conviction to avoid punishment but likewise who, being charged, flee to avoid prosecution. The definition thus indicates that the intent to evade is the compelling factor that animates one’s flight from a particular jurisdiction. And obviously, there can only be an intent to evade prosecution or punishment when there is knowledge by the fleeing subject of an already instituted indictment or of a promulgated judgement of conviction.

Election Laws

96

MARQUEZ, JR. vs. COMELEC ( 243 SCRA 538, 1995 ) “Candidates, B. Disqualifications” Facts: Bienvenido Marquez, a defeated candidate for the elective position of Governor in the Province of Quezon in the May 11, 1992 elections filed this petition for certiorari praying for the reversal of the resolution of the Commission of Election which dismissed his petition for quo warranto against the winning candidate, herein respondent Eduardo Rodriguez, for being allegedly a fugitive from justice. It is averred that at the time private respondent filed his certificate of candidacy, a criminal charge against him for ten (10) counts of insurance fraud or grand theft of personal property was still pending before the Municipal Court of Los Angeles Judicial District, County of Los Angeles, State of California, U.S.A. A warrant issued by said court for his arrest, it is claimed, has yet to be served on private respondent on account of his alleged “flight” from that country. The private respondent contended, however, that under Article 73 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code, the term “fugitive from justice” refers to one who has been convicted by final judgement. Issue: Whether or not a conviction by final judgement is necessary to fall within the term “fugitive from justice” contemplated by Section 40 (e) of the Local Government Code. Held: No. The Supreme Court held that Article 73 of the Implementing Rules, to the extent that it confines the term “fugitive from justice” to refer only to a person (the fugitive) “who has been convicted by final judgement,” is an ordinate and undue circumscription of the law. The term “fugitive from justice” includes not only those who after conviction to avoid punishment but likewise those who, after being charged, flee to avoid prosecution. This definition truly finds support from jurisprudence, and it may be conceded as expressing the general and ordinary connotation of the term.

Election Laws

97

GREGO vs. COMELEC ( 274 SCRA 481, 1997 ) “Candidates, B. Disqualifications” Facts: On October 31, 1981, before the effectivity of the Local Government Code of 1991, private respondent Humberto Basco was removed from his position as Deputy Sheriff by no less than the Supreme Court upon a finding of serious misconduct in an administrative complaint. Subsequently, Basco ran as a candidate for councilor in the Second District of the City of Manila in the January 18, 1988 local elections. He won and assumed office. He was successfully re-elected in 1992 and 1995. It was his latest re-election which is the subject of the present petition on the ground that he is disqualified under Section 40(b) of the LGC of 1991. Under said section, those removed from office as a result of an administrative case are disqualified to run for any elective local position. Issue: Does Section 40(b) of the Local Government Code of 1991 apply retroactively to those removed from office before it took effect on January 1, 1992? Held: The Supreme Court held that its refusal to give retroactive application to the provision of Section 40(b) is already a settled issue and there exist no compelling reason for the Court to depart therefrom. That the provision of the Code in question does not qualify the date of a candidate’s removal from office and that it is couched in the past tense should not deter the Court from applying the law prospectively. A statute, despite the generality in its language, must not be so construed as to overreach acts, events or matters which transpired before its passage.

Election Laws

98

DE LA TORRE vs COMELEC ( 258 SCRA 483, 1996 ) “Candidates, B. Disqualifications” Facts: Petitioner Rolando P. Dela Torre was disqualified by the Commission on Elections from running for the position of Mayor of Cavinti, Laguna in the May 8, 1995 elections. The ground cited by the COMELEC was Section 40(a) of the Local Government Code of 1991. Said section provides that those sentenced by final judgement for an offense involving moral turpitude or for an offense punishable by one (1) year or more imprisonment within two (2) years after serving sentence are disqualified from running for any elective local position. It was established by the COMELEC that the petitioner was found guilty by the Municipal Trial Court for violation of the Anti-Fencing Law. It was contended by the petitioner that Section 40(a) is not applicable to him because he was granted probation by the MTC. Issues: 1. Whether or not the crime of fencing involves moral turpitude. 2. Whether or not a grant of probation affects Section 40(a)’s applicability. Held: The Supreme Court held that actual knowledge by the “fence” of the fact that property received is stolen displays the same degree of malicious deprivation of one’s rightful property as that which animated the robbery or theft which, by their very nature, are crimes of moral turpitude. Anent the second issue, suffice it to say that the legal effect of probation is only to suspend the execution of the sentence. Petitioner’s conviction of fencing which already declared as a crime of moral turpitude and thus falling squarely under the disqualification found in Section 40(a), subsists and remains totally unaffected notwithstanding the grant of probation.

Election Laws

99

CAASI vs. COMELEC ( 191 SCRA 229, 1990 ) “Candidates, B. Disqualifications” Facts: Private respondent Merito Miguel was elected as municipal mayor of Bolinao, Pangasinan during the local elections of January 18, 1988. His disqualification, however, was sought by herein petitioner, Mateo Caasi, on the ground that under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code private respondent was not qualified because he is a green card holder, hence, a permanent resident of the United States of America, not of Bolinao. Issues: 1. Whether or not a green card is proof that the holder is a permanent resident of the United States. 2. Whether respondent Miguel had waived his status as a permanent resident of or immigrant to the U.S.A. prior to the local elections on January 18, 1988. Held: The Supreme Court held that Miguel’s application for immigrant status and permanent residence in the U.S. and his possession of a green card attesting to such status are conclusive proof that he is a permanent resident of the U.S. despite his occasional visits to the Philippines. The waiver of such immigrant status should be as indubitable as his application for it. Absent clear evidence that he made an irrevocable waiver of that status or that he surrendered his green card to the appropriate U.S. authorities before he ran for mayor of Bolinao in the local election on January 18, 1988, the Court’s conclusion is that he was disqualified to run for said public office, hence, his election thereto was null and void.

Election Laws

100

VILLABER vs. COMELEC ( 369 SCRA 126 ) “Candidates, B. Disqualifications” Facts: Both petitioner Villaber and respondent Douglas R. Cagas were rival candidates for a congressional seat in the First District of Davao del Sur during the May 14, 2001 elections. Cagas filed with the COMELEC, a consolidated petition to disqualify Villaber and to cancel the latter’s certificate of candidacy, alleging that Villaber was convicted for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. Cagas further alleged that this crime involves moral turpitude; hence, under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code, he is disqualified to run for any public office. COMELEC issued the resolution declaring Villaber disqualified as a candidate. The latter filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied. Hence, this petition. Issue: Whether or not violation of B.P. Blg. 22 involves moral turpitude, which would disqualify Villaber as a candidate for and from holding any public office. Held: COMELEC believed it is, applying Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code that any person who has been sentenced by final judgment for any offense for which he has been sentenced for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office. Moral turpitude is an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. In the case at bar, petitioner does not assail the facts and circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime. In effect, he admits all the elements of the crime for which he was convicted. There was no grave abuse of discretion committed by respondent COMELEC in issuing the assailed Resolutions.

Election Laws

101

DUMLAO vs. COMELEC ( 95 SCRA 392 ) “Candidates, A. Qualifications” Facts: Petitioner Patricio Dumlao, is a former Governor of Nueva Vizcaya, who has filed his certificate of candidacy for said position of Governor in the forthcoming elections of January 30, 1980. Petitioner Dumlao specifically questions the constitutionality of section 4 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 as discriminatory and contrary to the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Constitution which provides that “….Any retired elective provincial city or municipal official who has received payment of the retirement benefits to which he is entitled under the law and who shall have been 65 years of age at the commencement of the term of office to which he seeks to be elected shall not be qualified to run for the same elective local office from which he has retired.” He likewise alleges that the provision is directed insidiously against him, and is based on “purely arbitrary grounds, therefore, class legislation. Issue: Whether or not 1st paragraph of section 4 of BP 22 is valid. Held: In the case of a 65-year old elective local official, who has retired from a provincial, city or municipal office, there is reason to disqualify him from running for the same office from which he had retired, as provided for in the challenged provision. The need for new blood assumes relevance. The tiredness of the retiree for government work is present, and what is emphatically significant is that the retired employee has already declared himself tired and unavailable for the same government work, but, which, by virtue of a change of mind, he would like to assume again. It is for this very reason that inequality will neither result from the application of the challenged provision. Just as that provision does not deny equal protection, neither does it permit of such denial. The equal protection clause does not forbid all legal classification. What is proscribes is a classification which is arbitrary and unreasonable. That constitutional guarantee is not violated by a reasonable classification based upon substantial distinctions, where the classification is germane to the purpose of the low and applies to all those belonging to the same class. WHEREFORE, the first paragraph of section 4 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 52 is hereby declared valid.

Election Laws

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CO vs. COMELEC ( 199 SCRA 692 ) “Candidates, A. Qualifications” Facts: The HRET declared that respondent Jose Ong, Jr. is a natural born Filipino citizen and a resident of Laoang, Northern Samar for voting purposes. The congressional election for the second district of Northern Samar was held. Among the candidates who vied for the position of representative in the second legislative district are the petitioners, Sixto Balinquit and Antonio Co and the private respondent, Jose Ong, Jr. Respondent Ong was proclaimed the duly elected representative of the second district of Northern Samar. The petitioners filed election protests on the grounds that Jose Ong, Jr. is not a natural born citizen of the Philippines and not a resident of the second district of Northern Samar. Issue: Whether or not Jose Ong, Jr. is a citizen of the Philippines. Held: Yes. In the year 1895, the private respondent’s grandfather, Ong Te, arrived in the Philippines from China and established his residence in the municipality of Laoang, Samar. The father of the private respondent, Jose Ong Chuan was born in China in 1905 but was brought by Ong Te to Samar in the year 1915, he filed with the court an application for naturalization and was declared a Filipino citizen. In 1984, the private respondent married a Filipina named Desiree Lim. For the elections of 1984 and 1986, Jose Ong, Jr. registered himself as a voter of Laoang, Samar, and voted there during those elections. Under the 1973 Constitution, those born of Filipino fathers and those born of Filipino mothers with an alien father were placed on equal footing. They were both considered as natural born citizens. Besides, private respondent did more than merely exercise his right of suffrage. He has established his life here in the Philippines. On the issue of residence, it is not required that a person should have a house in order to establish his residence and domicile. It is enough that he should live in the municipality or in a rented house or in that of a friend or relative. To require him to own property in order to be eligible to run for Congress would be tantamount to a property qualification. The Constitution only requires that the candidate meet the age, citizenship, voting and residence requirements.

Election Laws

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LABO vs. COMELEC ( 176 SCRA 1 ) “Candidates, A. Qualifications” Facts: Petitioner Ramon Labo, elected mayor of Baguio City was questioned on his citizenship. He was married in the Philippines to an Australian citizen. The marriage was declared void in the Australian Federal Court in Sydney on the ground that the marriage had been bigamous. According to Australian records, Labo is still an Australian citizen. Issue: Whether or not Petitioner Labo is a citizen of the Philippines. Held: The petitioner’s contention that his marriage to an Australian national in 1976 did not automatically divest him of Philippine citizenship is irrelevant. There is no claim or finding that he automatically ceased to be a Filipino because of that marriage. He became a citizen of Australia because he was naturalized as such through a formal and positive process, simplified in his case because he was married to an Australian citizen. As a condition for such naturalization, he formally took the Oath of Allegiance and/or made the Affirmation of Allegiance, renouncing all other allegiance. It does not appear in the record, nor does the petitioner claim, that he has reacquired Philippine citizenship.

Election Laws

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FRIVALDO vs. COMELEC ( 174 SCRA 245 ) “Candidates, A. Qualifications” Facts: Petitioner Juan G. Frivaldo was proclaimed governor-elect and assume office in due time. The League of Municipalities filed with the COMELEC a petition for annulment of Frivaldo’s election and proclamation on the ground that he was not a Filipino citizen, having been naturalized in the United States. Frivaldo admitted the allegation but pleaded the special and affirmative defenses that his naturalization was merely forced upon himself as a means of survival against the unrelenting prosecution by the Martial Law Dictator’s agent abroad. Issue: Whether or not Frivaldo was a citizen of the Philippines at the time of his election. Held: No. Section 117 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that a qualified voter must be, among other qualifications, a citizen of the Philippines, this being an indispensable requirement for suffrage under Article V, Section 1, of the Constitution. Even if he did lose his naturalized American citizenship, such forfeiture did not and could not have the effect of automatically restoring his citizenship in the Philippines that he had earlier renounced. Qualifications for public office are continuing requirements and must be possessed not only at the time of appointment or election or assumption of office but during the officer’s entire tenure. Frivaldo declared not a citizen of the Philippines and therefore disqualified from serving as a Governor of the Province of Sorsogon.

Election Laws

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LEGASCA vs. DE VERA ( 79Phil. Reports 376 ) “Political Parties, B. Political Parties” Facts: Legasca, herein petitioner, signed himself as President of Goodwill Party, asking that the latter be recognized as a duly organized political party. COMELEC denied petitioner’s prayers upon conclusion that it is not a political party contemplated in the Election Code. Respondents answered alleging that petitioner did not have a permanent address whatsoever; that so-called Goodwill Party is neither organized nor is composed of a group of persons pursuing the same political ideals in the government, it having no members than petitioner himself; that petitioner has not presented any other proof of membership or organizations aside from his gratuitous and unsubstantial claim. Issue: Whether or not Goodwill Party is a political party under the purview of the Election Code. Held: There cannot be any quarrel that the platform of the Goodwill Party embodies many ideals of a political character. But nowhere appears the existence of “an organized group of persons” pursuing said ideals. Petitioner’s claim of 453,989 individuals is not enough. It is necessary that there should be “an organized group.” There is no evidence on record as to the existence of an organized group, it is necessary that all of them be joined in a corporate body, articulate, with the attributes of a social personality. A constitution, by-laws, rules, or some kind of character is needed so as to give existence to the organization. The so-called Goodwill Party is not a political party.

Election Laws

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NACIONALISTA PARTY vs. BAUTISTA ( 85 SCRA 101 ) “Political Parties, A. Party System” Facts: Petitioner Nacionalista Party alleges that it is organized and registered under the laws of the Philippines, brought this action praying that a writ of prohibition issue commanding the respondent Solicitor General to desist forever from acting as acting member of the Commission on Elections under the designation rendered to him by President Quirino, unless he is legally appointed as regular member of the said Commission on Elections. Issue: Whether or not petitioner, a political party is entitled to bring an action in the courts of justice. Held: It may be organized and registered as a political party in or with the Commission on Elections for the purposes of the Revised Election Code (Republic Act No. 180), but for the purpose of bringing an action in the courts of justice such organization and registration are not sufficient. It has to be incorporated under Act 1459 for only natural or juridical persons may be parties in a civil action, but this technical defect may be cured by allowing the substitution of the real parties in interest for the petitioner. The petitioner is granted five days within which to amend its petition so as to substitute the real parties in interest for it (the petitioner) or to show that it is a juridical person entitled to institute these proceedings. Otherwise, or if the petitioner does not amend its petition or does not show that it is a juridical entity, the petition will be dismissed. After the amendment or showing referred to shall have been made, the writ prayed for will issue.

Election Laws

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UTUTALUM vs. COMELEC ( 181 SCRA 335 ) “Voters, C. Annulment of Book of Voters” Facts: Petitioner Untalum obtained 482 votes while respondent Anni received 35,581 votes out of the 39,801 voters. If the returns of Siasi were excluded, petitioner would have lead of 5,301 votes. Petitioner filed written objections to the returns from Siasi on the ground that they “appear to be tampered with or falsified” owing to the “great excess of votes” appearing in the said returns. COMELEC issued annulling the Siasi List of Voters “on the ground of massive irregularities committed in the preparation and being statistically improbable”, and ordering a new registration of voters for the local elections. Petitioner contends that the issue he raised referred to “obvious manufactured returns,” a proper subject matter for a pre-proclamation controversy and therefore cognizable by the COMELEC; that election returns from Siasi should be excluded from the canvass of the results since its original List of Voters had already been finally annulled. Issue: Whether or not the election returns from Siasi should be excluded from the canvass of the results since the original List of Voters had been finally annulled. Held: The Siasi returns, however, do not show prima facie that on the basis of the old List of Voters, there is actually a great excess of votes over what could have been legally cast considering that only 36,000 persons actually voted out of the 39,801 voters. Petitioner’s cause of action is not a listed ground for a pre-proclamation controversy. To allow the COMELEC to do so retroactively would be to empower it to annul a previous election because of the subsequent annulment of a questioned registry. The list must then be considered conclusive evidence of persons who could exercise the right of suffrage in a particular election. The preparation of a voter’s list is not a proceeding before the Board of Canvassers. A pre-proclamation controversy is limited to challenges directed against the Board of Canvassers, not the Board of Election Inspectors and such challenge should relate to specified election returns against which the petitioner should have made verbal elections.

Election Laws

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US VS SANCUYA ( 13 Phil Reports 729 ) “Voters, B. Registration” Facts: Defendants, inspectors of election, refused to permit Rufino Isturis to register as an elector. Isturis claimed the right by virtue of his ownership of real property worth P500, as prescribed in subsection (b), section 13, of Act No. 1582. Issue: Whether or not the inspectors of election can refuse registration of an unqualified voter. Held: When an elector claims the right to vote by virtue of the above provision of law the inspectors are authorized to exercise a quasi-judicial power in deciding the question involved, and unless they knowingly, willfully, and maliciously refuse to register a qualified voter they are not criminally liable. Evidence insufficient to sustain conviction. Judgment reversed and defendants acquitted.

Election Laws

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AKBAYAN YOUTH vs. COMELEC ( G.R. No. 147066, March 26, 2001 ) “Voters, B. Registration” Facts: Petitoners, representing the youth sector, seek to direct the Comelec to conduct a special registration before the May 14, 2001 General Elections of new voters. According to the petitioners around 4 Million youth failed to register on or before the December 27, 2000 deadline set by the respondent Commission under R.A. 8189. On January 29, 2001 Commissioners Tantangco and Lantion submitted Memorandum No. 2001-027 requesting for a two-day additional registration of new voters, to be set on February 17 and 18, 2001 nationwide. Subsequently, Comelec issued Resolution No. 3584 denying said request, it was the consensus. Aggrieved by the denial, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus, which seeks to nullify respondent Comelec’s resolution and / or to declare Sec. 8 of R.A. 8189 unconstitutional insofar as said provision effectively causes the disenfranchisement of petitioners and others similarly situated. Issue: Whether or not respondent Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing Resolution No. 3584 dated Feb. 8, 2001 as it denies petitioners’ right to vote. Held: The act of registration is an indispensable precondition to the right of suffrage. For registration is part and parcel of the right to vote and an indispensable element in the election process. Section 8 of R.A. 8189, provides that no registration shall be conducted 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special election. In the light of the foregoing the assailed resolution must be upheld. The so-called “stand-by powers” or “residual” powers of the Comelec, as raised by the petitioners is provided under the relevant provisions of Section 29 of R.A. No. 6646 and adopted verbatim in Section 28 of R.A. No. 8436, wherein the commission shall fix other periods and dates for the accomplishment of pre-election acts if it is no longer possible to observe the dates and periods prescribed by law, cannot be applied in this case. The Supreme Court held that Section 8 of R.A. 8189 applies for the purpose of upholding the resolution. Section 28 of R.A. 8436, presupposes the possibility of its being exercised or availed of and not otherwise. In the case at bar the Comelec stated the “operational impossibility” of holding the additional two-day registration, and therefore Section 8 of R.A. 8436 may not apply. Comelec acted within the confines of the applicable law in denying the petitioners’ request.

Election Laws

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ABELLA vs. COMELEC ( 201 SCRA 253 1991 ) “Voters, A. Qualifications / Disqualifications” Facts: Petitioner Benjamin P. Abella was the official candidate of the Liberal Party for provincial governor of Leyte in the local election held on February 1, 1988. The private respondent, Adelina Larrazabal, is the wife of Emeterio V. Larrazabal, the original candidate of the Lakas ng Bansa-PDP-Laban who was disqualified by the Commission on Elections on January 18, 1988, for lack of residence, filed her own certificate of candidacy in substitution of her husband, the day before the election. The following day, Silvestre de la Cruz, a registered voter of Tacloban City, filed a petition with the provincial election supervisor of Leyte to disqualify her for alleged false statements in her certificate of candidacy regarding her residence. Abella intervened in the disqualification case and the following day filed a criminal complaint charging the private respondent with falsification and representation of her residence in her certificate of candidacy. The position of petitioners De la Cruz and Abella was that respondent Larrazabal is neither a resident nor a registered voter of Kananga, Leyte as she claimed but a resident and registered voter of Ormoc City, a component city of the province of Leyte. On the other hand, respondent Larrazabal maintained that she was a resident and a registered voter of Kananga, Leyte. On February 14, 1991, the second division in a 2-1 vote rendered a decision disqualifying Larrazabal as governor. Issue: Whether or not the petitioner is a registered voter of Kananga, Leyte Held: The COMELEC based its finding that the petitioner lacks the required residence on the evidence of record to the effect that despite protestations to the contrary made by the petitioner, she has established her residence at Ormoc City from 1975 to the present and not at Kananga, Leyte. Her attempt to purportedly change her residence one year before the election by registering at Kananga, Leyte to qualify her to run for the position of governor of the province of Leyte clearly shows that she considers herself already a resident of Ormoc City. In the absence of any evidence to prove otherwise, the reliance on the provisions of the Family Code was proper and in consonance with human experience. The petitioner did not present evidence to show that she and her husband maintain separate residences, she at Kananga, Leyte and her husband at Ormoc City.

Election Laws

111

ROMUALDEZ vs. RTC OF TACLOBAN ( 266 SCRA 406, 1997 ) “Voters, A. Qualifications / Disqualifications” Facts: The petitioner Philip Romualdez, is a natural born citizen of the Philippines. Sometime in the early part of 1980, the petitioner, in consonance with his decision to establish his legal residence at Barangay Malbog, Tolosa, Leyte, caused the construction of his residential house therein. He soon thereafter also served as a Barangay Captain of the place. In the 1984 Batasan Election and 1986 “snap” Presidential Election, Romualdez acted as the Campaign Manager of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) in Leyte where he voted. When “EDSA People’s Power Revolution of 1986″ took place on 21st to the 24th of February, 1986, some relatives and associates of the deposed President, fearing for their personal safety, “fled” the country. Petitioner Romualdez, for one, together with his immediate family, left the Philippines and sought “asylum” in the United. While abroad, he took special studies on the development of Leyte-Samar and international business finance. In the early part of 1987, Romualdez attempted to come back to the Philippines to run for a congressional seat in Leyte. When Romualdez arrived in the Philippines, he did not delay his return to his residence at Malbog. During the registration of voters conducted by COMELEC for the Synchronized National and Local Election scheduled for 11 May 1992, petitioner registered himself anew as a voter at Precinct No. 9 of Malbog. The Chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors, who had known Romualdez to be a resident of the place and, in fact, an elected Barangay Chairman of Malbog in 1982, allowed him to be registered. Private respondent Donato Advincula filed a petition for exclusion with the MTC of Tolosa, Leyte. Issue: Whether or not the respondent court erred in finding the petitioner to have voluntarily left the country and abandoned his residence in Malbog, Tolosa, Leyte. Held: The political situation brought about by the “People’s Power Revolution” must have truly caused great apprehension to the Romualdezes, as well as a serious concern over the safety and welfare of the members of their immediate families. Their going into self-exile until conditions favorable to them would have somehow stabilized is understandable. Certainly, their sudden departure from the country cannot be described as “voluntary”, or as “abandonment of residence” at least in the context that these terms are used in applying the concept of “domicile by choice.” We have closely examined the records, and we find not that much to convince us that the petitioner had, in fact, abandoned his residence in the Philippines and established his domicile elsewhere.

Election Laws EVANGELISTA vs. SANTOS ( 86 P.R. 387 ) “Voters, A. Qualifications / Disqualifications”

112

Facts: Plaintiff’s are minority stockholders of the Vitali Lumber Company, Inc., a Philippine corporation organized for the exploitation of a lumber concession in Zamboanga, Philippines; that defendant holds more than 50 per cent of the stocks of said corporation and also is and always has been the president, manager, and treasurer thereof; and that defendant, in such triple capacity, through fault, neglect, and abandonment allowed its lumber concession to lapse and its properties and assets to disappear, thus causing the complete ruin of the corporation and total depreciation of its stocks. Their complaint therefore prays for judgment requiring defendant: (1) to render an account of his administration of the corporate affairs and assets: (2) to pay plaintiffs the value of their respective participation in said assets on the basis of the value of the stocks held by each of them; and (3) to pay the costs of suit. The complaint does not give plaintiffs’ residence, but, for purposes of venue, alleges that defendant resides at 2112 Dewey Boulevard, corner Libertad Street, Pasay, province of Rizal. Having been served with summons at that place, defendant filed a motion for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of improper venue and also on the ground that the complaint did not state a cause of action in favor of plaintiffs. In support of the objection to the venue, defendant states that he is a resident of Iloilo City and not of Pasay, defendant also presented further affidavit to the effect that while he has a house in Pasay, where members of his family who are studying in Manila live and where he himself is sojourning for the purpose of attending to his interests in Manila, yet he has his permanent residence in the City of Iloilo where he is registered as a voter for election purposes and has been paying his residence certificate. Issue: Whether or not defendant is a resident of Iloilo, therefore, there was no proper venue when he was served with summons in Pasay. Held: The facts in this case show that the objection to the venue is well-founded. Where the plaintiff is a nonresident and the contract upon which suit is brought was made in the Philippine Islands it may safely be asserted that the convenience of the defendant would be best served by a trial in the province where he resides. The fact that defendant was sojourning in Pasay at the time he was served with summons does not make him a resident of that place for purposes of venue. Residence is “the permanent home, the place to which, whenever absent for business or pleasure, one intends to return.

Election Laws UYTENGSU vs. REPUBLIC ( 95 P.R. 890 ) “Voters, A. Qualifications / Disqualifications”

113

Facts: Petitioner-appellee was born, of Chinese parents, in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental on October 6, 1927, where he also finished his primary and secondary education. He went to the United States, where, from 1947 to 1950, he was enrolled in the Leland Stanford Junior University, in California. In April of the same year he returned to the Philippines for four (4) months vacation. Then, to be exact, on July 15, 1950, his present application for naturalization was filed. Forthwith, he returned to the United States and took a postgraduate course, in chemical engineering, in another educational institution. He finished this course in July 1951; but did not return to the Philippines until October 13, 1951. Petitioner contends, and the lower court held, that the word “residence”, as used in the aforesaid provision of the Naturalization Law, is synonymous with domicile, which, once acquired, is not lost by physical absence, until another domicile is obtained, and that, from 1946 to 1951, he continued to be domiciled in, and hence a resident of the Philippines, his purpose in staying in the United States, at that time, being, merely to study therein. Issue: Whether or not the application for naturalization may be granted, notwithstanding the fact that petitioner left the Philippines immediately after the filing of his petition and did not return until several months after the first date set for the hearing thereof. Held: While, generally speaking, domicile and residence mean one and the same thing, residence combined with intention to remain, constitutes domicile while an established abode, fixed permanently for a time for business or other purposes, constitutes a residence, though there may be an intent, existing all the while, to return to the true domicile. Where the petitioner left the Philippines immediately after the filing of his petition for naturalization and did not return until several months after the first date set for the hearing thereof, notwithstanding his explicit promise, under oath, that he would reside continuously in the Philippines “from the date of the filing of his petition up to the time of his admission to Philippine citizenship”, he has not complied with the requirements of section 7 of Commonwealth Act No. 473, and, consequently, not entitled to a judgment in his favor.

Election Laws

114

MASTURA vs. COMELEC ( 285 SCRA 493, 1998 ) “COMELEC, C. Independence of the Commission” Facts: Petitioner Michael O. Mastura and private respondent Didagen P. Dilangalen were congressional candidates for the first district of Maguindanao during the 8 May 1995 elections. In the canvassing of votes, Dilangalen objected to the inclusion of the Certificate of Canvass of the Municipality of Matanog on the ground that the same was allegedly tampered. Acting on the objection, the COMELEC Second Division ordered the production and examination of the election returns of the Municipality of Matanog. In the course of the examination four (4) ballot boxes were produced and opened. Upon examination and comparison of the copies of the election returns of the MTC Judge and the COMELEC, the COMELEC Second Division found that, indeed, the Certificate of Canvass of the Municipality of Matanog had been tampered with. Consequently, the COMELEC Second Division issued the herein assailed Order of 29 February 1996 annulling the Certificate of Canvass of Matanog. Issue: Whether or not COMELEC can suspend the canvass of votes pending its inquiry whether there exists a discrepancy between the various copies of election returns from the disputed voting centers. Held: We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent COMELEC. It is settled jurisprudence that COMELEC can suspend the canvass of votes pending its inquiry whether there exists a discrepancy between the various copies of election returns from the disputed voting centers. Corollarily, once the election returns were found to be falsified or tampered with, the COMELEC can annul the illegal canvass and order the Board of Canvassers to reconvene and proclaim the winners on the basis of the genuine returns or, if it should refuse, replace the members of the board or proclaim the winners itself. That the Certificate of Canvass of the Municipality of Matanog was tampered with is a factual finding of the COMELEC. Absent any showing of abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, this Court should refrain from reviewing the same, and must accord it instead the respect it deserves. The rule that factual findings of administrative bodies will not be disturbed by courts of justice except when there is absolutely no evidence or no substantial evidence in support of such findings should be applied with greater force when it concerns the COMELEC, as the framers of the Constitution intended to place the COMELEC - created and explicitly made independent by the Constitution itself - on a level higher than statutory administrative organs. The COMELEC has broad powers to ascertain the true results of the election by means available to it. For the attainment of that end, it is not strictly bound by the rules of evidence.

Election Laws SUMULONG vs. COMELEC ( 73 P.R. 288, 1942 ) “COMELEC, C. Independence of the Commission”

115

Facts: Under the authority of Section 5 of Commonwealth Act No. 657, Comelec adopted a resolution providing for the appointment of election inspectors to be proposed by the political parties and persons named therein. Petitioner, Juan Sumulong, President of the political party Pagkakaisa ng Bayan, claims the exclusive right to propose the appointment of such inspectors. He contends that the resolution of the Comelec, by giving the so-called rebel candidate or free-zone faction of the Nationalista Party the right to propose one election inspector for each of the precincts in each of the 53 legislative districts, contravenes Section 5 of the Commonwealth Act No. 657. He argues that under that section the Nationalista Party has the right to propose one, and only one inspector for each precinct, and that the resolution has the effect of giving that party two inspectors in each and every precinct within those legislative districts. Petitioner maintains that the discretion given by Section 5 of Commonwealth Act No. 657 to the Comelec in the Choice of election inspectors is not absolute, but limited by the provision of the Act that the majority party shall have the right to propose only one inspector. Issue: Whether or not the Comelec, in giving the so-called rebel candidates and freezone factions of the Nationalista Party the right to propose election inspectors, has acted within the limits of the discretion granted to it by law. Held: The present case is not an appropriate case for review by the Supreme Court. The Comelec is a constitutional body. It is intended to play a distinct and important part in our scheme of government. It should be allowed considerable latitude in devising means and methods that will insure the accomplishment of the great objective for which it was created – free, orderly, and honest elections. The Supreme Court may not agree fully with its choice of means, but unless these are clearly illegal / constitute grave abuse of discretion, this court should not interfere. The Comelec because of its fact-finding facilities, its contacts with political strategists, and its knowledge derived from actual experience in dealing with political controversies, is in a peculiarly advantageous position to decide complex political questions. Due regard to the independent character of the Commission, as ordained in the Constitution requires that the power of the Supreme Court to review the acts of that body should, as a general proposition, be used sparingly, but firmly in appropriate cases.

Election Laws

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DE JESUS vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES ( 120 SCRA 760, 1983 ) “COMELEC, B. Powers and Functions” Facts: After the local elections of January 18, 1980, Ananias Hibo, defeated candidate of the Nacionalista Party for the office of mayor of the Municipality of Casiguran, Sorsogon filed with the COMELEC a complaint charging petitioner Rogelio de Jesus, then COMELEC registrar of Casiguran, with violation of the 1978 Election Code. Asst. Fiscals Manuel Genova and Delfin Tarog, in their capacity as deputized Tanodbayan prosecutors, conducted an investigation. A prima facie case against petitioner for violation of section 89 and sub-sections [x] and [mm] of Section 178 of the Election Code of 1978 was found to exist. The following information, was filed before the Sandiganbayan. Petitioner filed a motion to quash the information, contending that neither the Tanodbayan nor the Sandiganbayan has the authority to investigate, prosecute and try the offense. In its opposition, the prosecution maintained the Tanodbayan’s exclusive authority to investigate and prosecute offenses committed by public officers and employees in relation to their office, and consequently, the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction to try and decide the charges against petitioner. Issue: Whether or not the Tanodbayan and the Sandiganbayan have the power to investigate, prosecute, and try election offenses committed by a public officer in relation to his office. Held: The evident constitutional intendment in bestowing the power to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of election and the concomittant authority to investigate and prosecute election offenses to the COMELEC is to insure the free, orderly and honest conduct of elections, failure of which would result in the frustration of the true will of the people and make a mere idle ceremony of the sacred right and duty of every qualified citizen to vote. To divest the COMELEC of the authority to investigate and prosecute offenses committed by public officials in relation to their office would thus seriously impair its effectiveness in achieving this clear constitutional mandate. From a careful scrutiny of the constitutional provisions relied upon by the Sandiganbayan, We perceive neither explicit nor implicit grant to it and its prosecuting arm, the Tanodbayan, of the authority to investigate, prosecute and hear election offenses committed by public officers in relation to their office, as contradistinguished from the clear and categorical bestowal of said authority and jurisdiction upon the COMELEC and the courts of first instance under Sections 182 and 184, respectively, of the Election Code of 1978.

Election Laws

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JARDIEL vs. COMELEC ( 124 SCRA 650, 1983 ) “COMELEC, B. Powers and Functions” Facts: In the local elections of Penaranda, Nueva Ecija, held on January 30, 1980, petitioner Cesar Jardiel, a Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) candidate for Mayor seeking re-election, prevailed over private respondent Benjamin Aves, a Nacionalista Party (NP) candidate, by a plurality of 1,678 votes and was proclaimed by the Municipal Board of Canvassers on the same date. The day after the elections, or on January 31, 1980, the COMELEC received a telegraphic report from its Special Action Team, and a letter-request from private respondent recommending the suspension of the canvass for Mayor and Vice Mayor and the annulment of those already completed. The letter alleged that armed goons supporting the petitioner disrupted the counting of votes and caused the transfer of the ballot boxes and the canvassing of votes to the Municipal Hall where accredited NP watchers were denied access, and that ballots were tampered with and blank unused ballots were filled up in favor of KBL candidates. After hearing the position of the adverse parties the COMELEC declared the elections or the results thereof, annulled for they do not reflect the true or popular will of the electorate. Issue: Whether or not COMELEC is estopped to investigate and prosecute violations of the election laws during the January 30, 1980 elections. Held: Petitioner’s contention that the findings of the Ministry of Justice Election Task Force dismissing the complaint against petitioner for insufficiency of evidence is res judicata is untenable. The Task Force was deputized by the COMELEC to the end that violators throughout the Philippines of laws relative to elections would be charged in Court and correspondingly penalized. The charges filed before it were for election offenses which are criminal in nature. It was not a body exercising judicial functions. To the COMELEC belongs the prerogative to enforce all laws relative to the conduct of elections and to see to it that elections are free, honest and orderly. It cannot be “estopped” by any finding or recommendation by any Task Force organized to assist it in the performance of its functions.

Election Laws

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AGUAM vs. COMELEC ( 23 SCRA 883, 1968 ) “COMELEC, B. Powers and Functions” Facts: In the November, 1967 elections, amongst the aspirants for Mayor of Ganassi, Lanao del Sur, were: petitioner Uso Dan Aguam, respondent Alim Balindong, and Ali Daud B. Marohombsar. At the canvassing held in Marawi City on November 20, 1967, petitioner Aguam was proclaimed Mayor-elect of Ganassi, with a margin of only two votes. Petitioner took his oath and thereafter assumed office as Mayor of Ganassi. On January 6, 1968, respondent Balindong went to Comelec with a petition for the annulment of the November 20, 1967 canvass and proclamation, and for the opening of the ballot box in Precinct 8. Respondent averred that the election return for Precinct 8 was tampered with by making it appear that Alim Balindong obtained 8 votes in said precinct when in fact he obtained 13 votes; and that as a result of such tampering, petitioner Uso Dan Aguam herein was made to win against respondent Alim Balindong by a margin of 3 votes. Petitioner Aguam seeks to annul the resolution of the respondent Commission on Elections (Comelec) of April 27, 1968 declaring that it has jurisdiction to open the ballot box in Precinct 8 of the municipality of Ganassi, Lanao del Sur, and to conduct an investigation into the authentic electoral return therefrom, upon petition of respondent Alim Balindong. Issue: Whether or not Comelec has the jurisdiction to inquire into the nullity of the Nov. 20, 1967 proclamation & consequently to inquire into the tampering of the election return in Precint 8. Held: By constitutional mandate, Comelec “shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections and shall exercise all other functions which may be conferred upon it by law.” The Constitution enjoins Comelec to “decide, save those involving the right to vote, all administrative questions, affecting elections.” And, all of these are aimed at achieving an ideal: “free, orderly, and honest elections.” Implementing the constitutional precept, Congress legislated in Section 3 of the Revised Election Code that, in addition to the powers and functions conferred by the Constitution, Comelec has “direct and immediate supervision over the provincial, municipal, and city officials designated by law to perform duties relative to the conduct of elections.”

Election Laws

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SANCHEZ, vs. COMELEC ( 114 SCRA 454, 1987 ) “COMELEC, B. Powers and Functions” Facts: Candidate Sanchez filed a petition praying that Comelec after due hearing, be directed to conduct a recount of the votes cast in the 1987 senatorial elections to determine the true number of votes to be credited to him and prayed further for a restraining order directing the Comelec to withhold the proclamation of the last four (4) winning senatorial candidates on the ground that votes intended for him were declared as astray votes because of the sameness of his surname with that of disqualified candidate Gil Sanchez, whose name had not been crossed out from the Comelec election returns and other election forms. On July 16, 1987, the Comelec, by a vote of four to three, promulgated its decision dismissing petitioner Sanchez’ petition for recount. On July 24, 1987, however, respondent Comelec, by a vote of five to two, reversed its order of dismissal and granted Sanchez’ petition for recount and/or re-appreciation of ballots. Issue: Whether his petition for recount and/or re-appreciation of ballots filed with the Comelec may be considered a summary pre-proclamation controversy or an election protest. Held: The Court rules that Sanchez’ petition for recount and/or re-appreciation of the ballots cast in the senatorial elections does not present a proper issue for a summary pre-proclamation controversy. The scope of pre-proclamation controversy is limited to the issues enumerated under sec. 243 of the Omnibus Election Code. The enumeration therein of the issues that may be raised in pre-proclamation controversy, is restrictive and exclusive. In the absence of any clear showing or proof that the election returns canvassed are incomplete or contain material defects (sec. 234), appear to have been tampered with, falsified or prepared under duress (sec. 235) and/or contain discrepancies in the votes credited to any candidate, the difference of which affects the result of the election (sec. 236), which are the only instances where a pre-proclamation recount maybe resorted to, granted the preservation of the integrity of the ballot box and its contents, Sanchez’ petition must fail. The complete election returns whose authenticity is not in question, must be prima facie considered valid for the purpose of canvassing the same and proclamation of the winning candidates. The law and public policy mandate that all pre-proclamation controversies shall be heard summarily by the Commission after due notice and hearing and just as summarily decided.

Election Laws PEOPLE vs. DELGADO ( 189 SCRA 715, 1990 ) “COMELEC, B. Powers and Functions”

120

Facts: On January 14, 1988 the COMELEC received a report-complaint from the Election Registrar of Toledo City against private respondents for alleged violation of the Omnibus Election Code. The COMELEC directed the Provincial Election Supervisor of Cebu to conduct the preliminary investigation of the case who eventually recommended the filing of an information against each of the private respondents for violation of the Omnibus Election Code. The COMELEC en banc resolved to file the information against the private respondents as recommended. Private respondents filed motions for reconsiderations and the suspension of the warrant of arrest with the respondent court on the ground that no preliminary investigation was conducted. Later, an order was issued by respondent court directing the COMELEC through the Regional Election Director of Region VII to conduct a reinvestigation of said cases. The COMELEC Prosecutor filed a motion for reconsideration and opposition to the motion for reinvestigation alleging therein that it is only the Supreme Court that may review the decisions, orders, rulings and resolutions of the COMELEC. This was denied by the court. Issue: Whether or not the Regional Trial Court (RTC) has the authority to review the actions of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in the investigation and prosecution of election offenses filed in said court. Held: Based on the Constitution and the Omnibus Election Code, it is clear that aside from the adjudicatory or quasi-judicial power of the COMELEC to decide election contests and administrative questions, it is also vested the power of a public prosecutor with the exclusive authority to conduct the preliminary investigation and the prosecution of election offenses punishable under the Code before the competent court. Thus, when the COMELEC, through its duly authorized law officer, conducts the preliminary investigation of an election offense and upon a prima facie finding of a probable cause, files the information in the proper court, said court thereby acquires jurisdiction over the case. Consequently, all the subsequent disposition of said case must be subject to the approval of the court. The COMELEC cannot conduct a reinvestigation of the case without the authority of the court or unless so ordered by the court.

Election Laws

121

PEOPLE vs. INTING ( 187 SCRA 788 ) “COMELEC, B. Powers and Functions” Facts: Mrs. Editha Barba filed a letter-complaint against OIC-Mayor Dominador Regalado of Tanjay, Negros Oriental with the COMELEC for allegedly transferring her, a permanent Nursing Attendant, Grade I, in the office of the Municipal Mayor to a very remote barangay and without obtaining prior permission or clearance from COMELEC as required by law. After a preliminary investigation of Barba’s complaint, Atty. Lituanas found a prima facie case. Hence, on September 26, 1988, he filed with the respondent trial court a criminal case for violation of section 261, Par. (h), Omnibus Election Code against the OIC-Mayor. In an Order dated September 30, 1988, the respondent court issued a warrant of arrest against the accused OIC Mayor. However, in an order dated October 3, 1988 and before the accused could be arrested, the trial court set aside its September 30, 1988 order on the ground that Atty. Lituanas is not authorized to determine probable cause pursuant to Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. The trial court later on quashed the information. Hence, this petition. Issue: Does a preliminary investigation conducted by a Provincial Election Supervisor involving election offenses have to be coursed through the Provincial Prosecutor, before the Regional Trial Court may take cognizance of the investigation and determine whether or not probable cause exists? Held: The 1987 Constitution empowers the COMELEC to conduct preliminary investigations in cases involving election offenses for the purpose of helping the Judge determine probable cause and for filing an information in court. This power is exclusive with COMELEC. The evident constitutional intendment in bestowing this power to the COMELEC is to insure the free, orderly and honest conduct of elections, failure of which would result in the frustration of the true will of the people and make a mere idle ceremony of the sacred right and duty of every qualified citizen to vote. To divest the COMELEC of the authority to investigate and prosecute offenses committed by public officials in relation to their office would thus seriously impair its effectiveness in achieving this clear constitutional mandate. Bearing these principles in mind, it is apparent that the respondent trial court misconstrued the constitutional provision when it quashed the information filed by the Provincial Election Supervisor.

Election Laws

122

BRILLANTES vs. YORAC ( 192 SCRA 358, 1990 ) “COMELEC, A. Qualification of Members” Facts: The President designated Associate Commissioner Yorac as Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections, in place of Chairman Hilario B. Davide, who had been named chairman of the fact-finding commission to investigate the December 1989 coup d’ etat attempt. Brillantes challenged the act of the President as contrary to the constitutional provision that ensures the independence the Commission on Elections as an independent constitutional body and the specific provision that “(I)n no case shall any Member (of the Commission on Elections) be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity.” Brillantes contends that the choice of the Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections is an internal matter that should be resolved by the members themselves and that the intrusion of the President of the Philippines violates their independence. The Solicitor General the designation made by the President of the Philippines should therefore be sustained for reasons of “administrative expediency,” to prevent disruption of the functions of the COMELEC. Issue: Whether or not the President may designate the Acting Chairman of the COMELEC in the absence of the regular Chairman. Held: NO. The Constitution expressly describes all the Constitutional Commissions as “independent.” They are not under the control of the President of the Philippines in the discharge of their respective functions. Each of these Commissions conducts its own proceedings under the applicable laws and its own rules and in the exercise of its own discretion. Its decisions, orders and rulings are subject only to review on certiorari by this Court as provided by the Constitution. The choice of a temporary chairman in the absence of the regular chairman comes under that discretion. That discretion cannot be exercised for it, even with its consent, by the President of the Philippines. The lack of a statutory rule covering the situation at bar is no justification for the President of the Philippines to fill the void by extending the temporary designation in favor of the respondent. The situation could have been handled by the members of the Commission on Elections themselves without the participation of the President, however well-meaning. In the choice of the Acting Chairman, the members of the Commission on Elections would most likely have been guided by the seniority rule as they themselves would have appreciated it. In any event, that choice and the basis thereof were for them and not the President to make.

Election Laws

123

CAYETANO vs. MONSOD ( 201 SCRA 210, 1991 ) “COMELEC, A. Qualification of Members” Facts: Monsod was nominated by President Aquino to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC on April 25, 1991. Cayetano opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Monsod’s nomination, petitioner filed a petition for Certiorari and Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void because Monsod did not meet the requirement of having practiced law for the last ten years. Issue: Whether or not Monsod satisfies the requirement of the position of Chairman of the COMELEC. Held: The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he: “. . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle controversies. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of law.” Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86.55%. He has been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten years. Atty. Monsod s past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyerlegislator of both the rich and the poor — verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement — that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.

Election Laws

124

TAULE vs. SANTOS ( 200 SCRA 512, 1991 ) “General Principles, B. Election/Period” Facts: On June 18, 1989, the Federation of Associations of Barangay Councils (FABC) of Catanduanes, composed of eleven (11) members convened in Virac, Catanduanes with six members, including Taule, in attendance for the purpose of holding the election of its officers. The group decided to hold the election despite the absence of five (5) of its members. The Governor of Catanduanes sent a letter to respondent the Secretary of Local Government, protesting the election of the officers of the FABC and seeking its nullification due to flagrant irregularities in the manner it was conducted. The Secretary nullifed the election of the officers of the FABC and ordered a new one to be conducted to be presided by the Regional Director of Region V of the Department of Local Government. Taule, contested the decision contending that neither the constitution nor the law grants jurisdiction upon the respondent Secretary over election contests involving the election of officers of the FABC and that the Constitution provides that it is the COMELEC which has jurisdiction over all contests involving elective barangay officials. Issue: Whether or not the COMELEC has jurisdiction to entertain an election protest involving the election of the officers of the Federation of Association of Barangay Councils; Held: The jurisdiction of the COMELEC over contests involving elective barangay officials is limited to appellate jurisdiction from decisions of the trial courts. Under the law, the sworn petition contesting the election of a barangay officer shall be filed with the proper Municipal or Metropolitan Trial Court by any candidate who has duly filed a certificate of candidacy and has been voted for the same office within 10 days after the proclamation of the results. The jurisdiction of the COMELEC does not cover protests over the organizational setup of the katipunan ng mga barangay composed of popularly elected punong barangays as prescribed by law whose officers are voted upon by their respective members. The authority of the COMELEC over the katipunan ng mga barangay is limited by law to supervision of the election of the representative of the katipunan concerned to the sanggunian in a particular level conducted by their own respective organization.

Election Laws PERALTA vs. COMELEC ( 82 SCRA 30 ) “General Principles, B. Election/Period”

125

Facts: Section 4 of the 1978 Election Code provides that the election period shall be fixed by the Commission on Elections in accordance with Section 6, Article XII[C] of the Constitution. The period of campaign shall not be more than forty-five days immediately preceding the election, excluding the day before and the day of the election. Petitioners questioned the constitutionality of the 45-day campaign perion because: (a) it was decreed by the President and not by the Commission on Elections as provided by Section 6 of Article XII-C and (b) the period should cover at least ninety days (90). They argue that Section 6 of Article XII-C of the Constitution provides that the election period shall commence ninety days before the day of election and shall end thirty days thereafter.” Issue: Whether or not the 45-day period is unconstitutional Held: The 45-day campaign period is constitutional. Although the campaign period prescribed in the 1978 Election Code for the election of the representatives to the interim Batasang Pambansa is less than 90 days and was decreed by the President and not by the Commission on Elections as provided by Section 6 of Article XII-C of the Constitution, the same does not violate the Constitution, because under Amendment 1, the manner of election of members of the interim Batasang Pambansa shall be prescribed and regulated by law, and the incumbent President under Amendment No. 5, shall continue to exercise legislative power until martial law shall have been lifted. Moreover, the election for members in the interim Batasang Pambansa is an election in a state of emergency requiring special rules, and only the incumbent President has the authority and means of obtaining information on the peace and order condition of the country within which an electoral campaign may be adequately conducted in all regions of the nation. But even assuming that it should be the Commission on Elections that should fix the period of campaign, the constitutional mandate is complied with by the fact that the Commission has adopted and is enforcing the period fixed in Section 4, Article 1, of the 1978 Election Code.

Election Laws GARCHITORENA vs. CRESCINI ( 39 PR 258, 1918 ) “General Principles, B. Election/Period”

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Facts: In June 6, 1916, an election was held in the Province of Ambos Camarines, for governor and other provincial and municipal officers. Garchitorena, Crescini, Imperial, and Botor were candidates for the office of governor. The provincial board of inspectors proclaimed Crescini as the elected and issued to him a certificate to that effect. Immediately upon notice of said proclamation, Garchitorena presented a protest against said election, alleging that many frauds and irregularities had been committed in various municipalities of said province, and that he had, in fact, received a majority of all legal votes cast. After trial, the court declared that Garchitorena had, in fact, received a majority of the legal votes cast, and ordered the provincial board of inspectors to correct its report. Later, a new trial was ordered but the same decision was arrived at and issued the same order to the provincial board of inspectors to correct their report or canvass in accordance with said decision. From that decision, Crescini and Imperial appealed to this Court, briefs were presented, and the cause was finally submitted for decision on the 16th day of December, 1918. Issue: Whether or not the court’s decision is correct. Held: Judges Mina and Paredes, after discussion of the various frauds committed in said municipalities arrived at the same conclusion, to wit: that said frauds and irregularities were such as to absolutely defeat the honest expression of the desires of the voters of said municipalities. The evidence adduced during the trial shows an unmistakable intention and design on the part not only of the election inspectors but of many of the voters, to defeat, by the methods adopted, the true expression of opinion, through the ballot, of the people of said municipalities. The presumption is that an election is honestly conducted, and the burden of proof to show it otherwise is on the party assailing the return. But when the return is clearly shown to be wilfully and corruptly false, the whole of it becomes worthless as proof. When the election has been conducted so irregularly and fraudulently that the true result cannot be ascertained, the whole return must be rejected. It is impossible to make a list of all the frauds which will invalidate an election. Each case must rest upon its own evidence. The rule, however, is so well established that authorities need no longer be cited in its support, that whenever the irregularities and frauds are sufficient to defeat the will of the people of the particular municipality or precinct, the entire vote should be rejected, and those who are guilty of such frauds and irregularities should be punished to the very limit of the law.

Election Laws ROMUALDEZ vs. RTC ( G.R. No. 104960 September 14, 1993 ) “General Principles, A. Suffrage”

127

Facts: Philip Romualdez was a resident of Barangay Malbog, Tolosa, Leyte and in 1982 was elected and served as barangay chairman. In 1986 “fled” the country and sought “asylum” in the United States which was granted. In 1991, Romualdez returned to the Philippines and upon arrival, he returned to his residence at Malbog and registered himself anew as a voter at Precinct No. 9. Donato Advincula challenged the registration before the trial court praying that Romualdez be excluded from the list of voters alleging that Romualdez was a resident of U.S.A.; that he had just recently arrived in the Philippines; and that he did not have the required one-year residence in the Philippines and the six-month residence in Tolosa to qualify him to register as a voter in Barangay Malbog. Romualdez contended that he has been a resident of Tolosa since the early 1980’s, and that he has not abandoned his said residence by his physical absence therefrom during the period from 1986 up to 1991. Issue: Whether or not Romualdez has voluntarily left the country and abandoned his residence in Tolosa, Leyte and, therefore may not register as a voter. Held: No. The term “residence” as used in the election law is synonymous with “domicile”, which imports not only an intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. “Domicile” denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent for business or pleasure, or for like reasons, one intends to return. That residence, in the case of the petitioner, was established during the early 1980’s to be at Barangay Malbog, Tolosa, Leyte. Residence thus acquired, however, may be lost by adopting another choice of domicile. In order, in turn, to acquire a new domicile by choice, there must concur (1) residence or bodily presence in the new locality, (2) an intention to remain there, and (3) an intention to abandon the old domicile. In other words, there must basically be animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.

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