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NORLAINIL MI1MUG LIMBONA v.

COMMISSION ON LLLC1IONS and MALIK


BOBBY 1. ALINGAN
G.R. No. J8J907, 2S June 2008, LN BANC, (Ynares-Santiago, J.)

1be ritbararat of a certificate of cavaiaac,, ae.ite arorat of tbe COMC, aoe. vot vece..arit, revaer tbe
certificate roia ab ivitio. Ovce fitea, tbe ervavevt tegat effect. roavcea tbereb, revaiv erev if tbe certificate it.etf be
.vb.eqvevtt, ritbararv.

.ttbovgb ^ortaivie ritbarer ber fir.t certificate of cavaiaac,, tbe .vb.eqvevt ai.qvatificatiov of ber bv.bava
reqvirea tbat .be fite a ver certificate of cavaiaac, a. a .vb.titvte cavaiaate. 1be .ecova fitivg of a certificate of cavaiaac,
tbv. ovce agaiv vt ber qvatificatiov. iv i..ve. evce, a rvtivg vov tbe .ave i. vece..ar,.

Petitioner Norlainie Mitmug Limbona, her husband Mohammad G. Limbona, and respondent
Malik Bobby` 1. Alingan were mayoralty candidates in Pantar, Lanao del Norte during the 200
Synchronized National and Local Llections. Ater the aorementioned iled their respectie certiicates
o candidacy, Alingan iled a petition to disqualiy Mohammad or non-compliance with the residency
requirement. Subsequently, Alingan also iled the same petition, this time, against Norlainie. 1hus,
Norlainie iled or withdrawal o her candidacy which the Commission on Llections ,COMLLLC,
granted.

Meanwhile, the COMLLLC granted Alingan`s petition to disqualiy Mohammad or ailing to
satisy the one-year requirement and or not being a registered oter o Pantar. Consequently, Norlainie
iled a new certiicate o candidacy as substitute candidate or Mohammad which was approed by the
COMLLLC. Relentless, Alingan yet again sought Norlainie`s disqualiication. Norlainie subsequently
won and assumed oice. But her ictory was short-lied, or the COMLLLC disqualiied her or lack o
residency, or not being a registered oter o the place, and nullity o her certiicate o candidacy or
haing been iled at a place other than the Oice o the Llection Oicer.

Norlainie argued that the COMLLLC had already approed her withdrawal o certiicate o
candidacy and had gien due course to a new certiicate o candidacy as a substitute candidate o her
husband Mohammad. As regards Norlainie`s residency requirement, her domicile o origin was in
Maguing, Lanao del Norte. \hen she got married, by operation o law pursuant to the lamily Code, her
domicile became Marawi City, aravga, Rapasun. Norlainie claimed that she has been staying, sleeping,
and doing business in her house or more than 20 months` in Lower Kalanganan. 1here was, howeer,
no competent eidence to support her statement. lurthermore, there was no act to indicate Norlainie`s
intention to stay in Pantar or an indeinite period o time.

ISSULS:

1, \hether or not the COMLLLC committed grae abuse o discretion in proceeding to resole
the petition or disqualiication against Norlainie despite the prior approal o Norlainie`s
withdrawal o certiicate o candidacy

2, \hether or not Norlainie satisied the one-year residency requirement

3, \hether or not Alingan will succeed Norlainie as mayor

HLLD:

Petition DISMISSLD.

1he withdrawal o a certiicate o candidacy does not necessarily render the certiicate oid ab
ivitio. Once iled, the permanent legal eects produced thereby remain een i the certiicate itsel be
subsequently withdrawn. Section 3 o the Omnibus Llection Code o the Philippines ,B.P. tg. 881, as
amended, proides:

Sec. 3. Certificate of candidacy. - No person shall be eligible or any electie public oice
unless he iles a sworn certiicate o candidacy within the period ixed herein. A person who has
filed a certificate of candidacy may, prior to the election, withdraw the same by submitting
to the office concerned a written declaration under oath. No person shall be eligible or more
than one oice to be illed in the same election, and i he iles his certiicate o candidacy or more
than one oice, he shall not be eligible or any o them. loweer, beore the expiration o the
period or the iling o certiicate o candidacy, the person who has iled more than one certiicate o
candidacy may declare under oath the oice or which he desires to be eligible and cancel the
certiicate o candidacy or the other oice or oices. 1he filing or withdrawal of a certificate of
candidacy shall not affect whatever civil, criminal or administrative liabilities which a
candidate may have incurred.`

1hus, when Norlainie iled her certiicate o candidacy, such act produced legal eects, and
the withdrawal o the same, despite the approal o the COMLLLC, did not bar or render nugatory the
legal proceedings it had set in motion. As such, the COMLLLC did not commit grae abuse o
discretion when it ruled on the merits o the petition despite the withdrawal o petitioner`s certiicate o
candidacy. 1he COMLLLC correctly held that a case only becomes moot when there is no more actual
controersy between the parties or no useul purpose can be sered in passing upon the merits.` In the
instant case, although Norlainie withdrew her irst certiicate o candidacy, the subsequent
disqualiication o her husband required that she ile a new certiicate o candidacy as a substitute
candidate. 1he second iling o a certiicate o candidacy thus once again put her qualiications in issue.
lence, a ruling upon the same is necessary.

1he act that Norlainie`s certiicate o candidacy as a substitute candidate was gien due course
by the COMLLLC did not bar the COMLLLC rom deciding on her qualiications to run as municipal
mayor.

Moreoer, the Llectoral Reorms Law o 198 ,R.A. No. 6646, authorizes the Commission
,COMLLLC, to try and decide petitions or disqualiications een ater the elections,` thus:

SLC. 6. ffect of Di.qvatificatiov Ca.e. - Any candidate who has been declared by inal judgment to
be disqualiied shall not be oted or, and the otes cast or him shall not be counted. If for any
reason a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and
he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, the Court or
Commission shall continue with the trial and hearing of the action, inquiry or protest and,
upon motion o the complainant or any interenor, may during the pendency thereo order the
suspension o the proclamation o such candidate wheneer the eidence o his guilt is strong.`

As such, the COMLLLC did not err when it continued with the trial and hearing o the petition
or disqualiication.

Norlainie Iailed to Satisfy One-Year Residency Requirement

1he COMLLLC correctly ound that Norlainie ailed to satisy the one-year residency
requirement. 1he term residence` as used in the election law is synonymous with domicile,` which
imports not only intention to reside in a ixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled
with conduct indicatie o such intention. 1he maniest intent o the law in ixing a residence
qualiication is to exclude a stranger or newcomer, unacquainted with the conditions and needs o a
community and not identiied with the latter, rom an electie oice to sere that community.

lor purposes o election law, the question o residence is mainly one o intention. 1here is no
hard and ast rule by which to determine where a person actually resides. 1hree rules are, howeer, well
established: irst, that a man must hae a residence or domicile somewhere, second, that where once
established it remains until a new one is acquired, and third, a man can hae but one domicile at a time.

In order to acquire a 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. A
person`s domicile` once established is considered to continue and will not be deemed lost until a new
one is established.

1o successully eect a change o domicile one must demonstrate an actual remoal or an actual
change o domicile, a bova fiae intention o abandoning the ormer place o residence and establishing a
new one, and deinite acts which correspond with the purpose. In other words, there must basically be
avivv. vavevai coupled with avivv. vov rerertevai. 1he purpose to remain in or at the domicile o choice
must be or an indeinite period o time, the change o residence must be oluntary, and the residence at
the place chosen or the new domicile must be actual.

Norlainie`s claim that she has been physically present and actually residing in Pantar or almost
20 months prior to the elections, is sel-sering and unsubstantiated.

lurther, the Court inds no other act that would indicate Norlainie`s intention to stay in Pantar
or an indeinite period o time. 1he iling o her Certiicate o Candidacy in Pantar, standing alone, is
not suicient to hold that she has chosen Pantar as her new residence. 1he Court also takes notice o
the act that in SPA No. 0-611, this Commission has een ound that she is not a registered oter in the
said municipality warranting her disqualiication as a candidate.

1he Court noted the indings o the COMLLLC that Norlainie`s domicile o origin is Maguing,
Lanao del Norte, which is also her place o birth, and that her domicile by operation o law ,by irtue o
marriage, is Rapasun, Marawi City. 1he COMLLLC ound that Mohammad, Norlanie`s husband,
eected the change o his domicile in aor o Pantar, Lanao del Norte only on Noember 11, 2006.
Since it is presumed that the husband and wie lie together in one legal residence, then it ollows that
Norlainie eected the change o her domicile also on Noember 11, 2006. Articles 68 and 69 o the
lamily Code proide:

Art. 68. 1he husband and wife are obliged to live together, obsere mutual loe,
respect and idelity, and render mutual help and support.

Art. 69. 1he husband and wife shall fix the family domicile. In case o disagreement,
the court shall decide. 1he court may exempt one spouse from living with the other if the latter
should live abroad or there are other valid and compelling reasons for the exemption.
loweer, such exemption shall not apply i the same is not compatible with the solidarity o the
amily.`

Considering that Norlainie ailed to show that she maintained a separate residence rom her
husband, and as there is no eidence to proe otherwise, reliance on these proisions o the lamily Code
is proper and is in consonance with human experience.

1hus, or ailure to comply with the residency requirement, Norlainie is disqualiied to run or
the oice o mayor o Pantar, Lanao del Norte.

Alingan Will Not Succeed Norlainie as Mayor

Norlainie`s disqualiication would not result in Malik`s proclamation who came in second
during the special election. 1he rules on succession under the Local Goernment Code shall apply, to
wit:

SLC1ION 44. Permanent Vacancies in the Oices o the Goernor, Vice-Goernor,
Mayor, and Vice-Mayor. - I a permanent acancy occurs in the oice o the xxx mayor, the xxx ice-
mayor concerned shall become the xxx mayor.

lor purposes o this Chapter, a permanent acancy arises when an electie local oicial ills
a higher acant oice, reuses to assume oice, fails to qualify or is removed from office,
oluntarily resigns, or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the unctions o his oice.
x x x x`

Considering the disqualiication o Norlainie to run as mayor o Pantar, Lanao del Norte, the
proclaimed Vice-Mayor shall then succeed as mayor.