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(Libanan v. HRET, G.R. No.

129783, December 22, 1997) tan Facts : This is a petition to review the decision of the HRET declaring Ramirez the winner of the 1995 congressional election of the lone district of Samar against the petitioner where Ramirez led as much as 600+ votes. Libanan filed a petition with the HRET to annul the election and proclamation of Ramirez alleging that the election was marred by massive election irregularities, specifically that some of the ballots were not signed by the BEI chairman and hence invalid. Ramirez countered that Libanan also committed election offenses but later on withdrew his countercharge. The evidence and the issues submitted by the parties for consideration by the HRET related mainly to the proper appreciation of the ballots objected to, or claimed by, the parties during the revision. No evidence was presented in support of the other allegations of the protest so the HRET concentrated on the appreciation of ballots. The HRET recounted the votes cast on the valid ballots and declared Ramirez as the winner of the election in Eastern Samar. Issue : WON the absence of the signature of the BEI chairman makes the ballot invalid. Held : "No spurious ballot was found in this case. For a ballot to be rejected for being spurious, the ballot must have any of the following authenticating marks: a) the COMELEC watermark; b) the signatures or initial of the BEI Chairman at the back of the ballot; and c) red and blue fibers. In the present case, all the ballots examined by the Tribunal had COMELEC watermarks. "Fraud is not presumed. It must be sufficiently established. Moreover, Section 211 of the Omnibus Election Code provides in part that 'in the reading and appreciation of ballots, every ballot shall be presumed to be valid unless there is clear and good reason to justify its rejection.' In the instant case, there is no evidence to support protestant's allegation that the ballots he enumerated in his Motion for Reconsideration are substitute ballots. The absence of the BEI Chairman's signature at the back of the ballot cannot be an indication of ballot switching or substitution. At best, such absence of BEI Chairman's signature is a prima facie evidence that the BEI Chairmen concerned were derelict in their duty of authenticating the ballots. Such omission, as stated in the Decision, is not fatal to the validity of the ballots.

Castromayor v. COMELEC, 250 SCRA 298 Facts: Castromayor was declared and proclaimed winner in an election contest held in 1995 in Calinog, Iloilo, taking the 8th Sangguniang Bayan seat. When the chairman of the Municipal Board of Canvassers rechecked the totals of the Statement of Votes, there was some disparity and it appeared that another candidate, Demorito has more votes than Castromayor and the reason was that votes from one (1) precinct was overlooked. She thereafter sent a fax to the COMELEC requesting that the MBC be reconvened for purposes of rectifying the error and annulling the proclamation of Castromayor and proclaim Demorito as the 8th member of the Saggunian. The COMELEC then issued a resolution based on the request. Petitioner then assailed the resolution of the COMELEC. Petitioner contends that he was denied due process since the issue involves a preproclamation controversy and he should be entitled to notice and hearing so that he can be afforded an opportunity to refute the allegations. Petitioner contests the Resolution of the COMELEC which was based on a fax letter sent by Garin. Issue: WON the resolution is valid and that the proclamation of petitioner is valid. Ruling : what the COMELEC resolution contemplates is a hearing before the MBC at which petitioner will be heard on his objection and that only if warranted will the MBC be authorized to set aside the proclamation of petitioner previously made. In its notice to the candidates, the MBC did not state that it was going to reconvene to annul petitioner's proclamation and make a new one but only that it was going to do so "for the correction of the errors noted in the Statement of Votes per Precinct/Municipality. 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. It begs the question, therefore, to say that this is not a pre-proclamation controversy and the procedure for pre-proclamation controversies cannot be applied to the correction in the computation of the totals in the Statement of Votes. 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.

Sanchez v. COMELEC, 153 SCRA 67 Facts : In the mayoral contest in Pampanga, Biliwang was proclaimed winner. Sanchez filed an action to annul the proclamation with the COMELEC and to declare that there was a failure of election and to call for a special election. This was based on the ground that massive terrorism was made by the incumbent mayor in ordering armed men to hold at gunpoint teachers who were counting the ballots and replacing the ballots with preprepared ones in favor of Baliwag. Baliwag denied the allegations. The COMELEC issued a resolution declaring that there was failure of elections in San Fernardo Pampanga and referred the same to the President and Batasang Pambansa so that the necessary law would be passed for holding a special election. Biliwag contends that the ground of terrorism cannot be invoked in pre-proclamation controversy. Issue: WON fraud and terrorism is considered a pre-proclamation controversy to justify the resolution of declaring that there was a failure of election in San Fernando Pampanga. Held: Election is not complete until all the essential acts thereof are concluded. In this case, election is not complete unless there is a proclaimed winner. The matter involves a failure to elect based on the ground that the election was marred by massive terrorism. The 1973 Constitution vests power to the COMELEC to be the sole judge of all election contest and controversy and that it had the power to declare a failure of election and call for a special election.

Ututalum v. COMELEC, 181 SCRA 335 Facts: Ututalum and Anni were candidates for the 2nd congressional district of Sulu. Utatalum filed with the Provincial Board of Canvassers that the election returns appeared to be tampered with or falsified. Petitioner claimed that there were excess number of voters in Siasi. It was dismissed by the Provincial Board of Canvassers on the ground that it was filed out of time and that it should have been raised before the votes for Siasi have been canvassed. Thereafter, he filed a written petition with the COMELEC seeking to annul the elections in Siasi and to conduct another election. The board of canvassers forwarded the appeal of petitioner with the COMELEC with a request to proclaim Anni as the winner. The COMELEC resolved that there was no failure of elections. Anni was thereafter proclaimed the winner. While Ututalums petition was pending, the governor of Sulu sought to annul the list of voters of Siasi which was upheld by the SC. Ututalum wanted to have the case applied to his petition even if he was not a party to the case filed by the governor. Issue: WON the petition should be granted on the ground of vote-padding. Ruling: Such irregularities as fraud, vote-buying and terrorism are proper grounds in an election contest but may not as a rule be invoked to declare a failure of election and to disenfranchise the greater number of the electorate through the misdeeds, precisely, of only a relative few. Otherwise, elections will never be carried out with the resultant disenfranchisement of the innocent voters, for the losers will always cry fraud and terrorism"