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LOREN B. LEGARDA v. NOLI L. DE CASTRO P.E.T. Case No. 003, 18 January 2008, Presidential Electoral Tribunal, (Quisumbing, J.

MAIN POINT We are also in agreement that the protestant, in assuming the office of Senator and discharging her duties as such, which fact we can take judicial notice of, has effectively abandoned or withdrawn her protest, or abandoned her determination to protect and pursue the public interest involved in the matter of who is the real choice of the electorate. ACTS OF THE CASE: Petitioner Loren B. Legarda filed before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal a petition to annul the proclamation of Respodent Noli L. De Castro as the Vice-President of the Philippines. The protest filed by Legarda consisted of two aspects. The First Aspect covers the alleged erroneous, manipulated and/or falsified results of the election. While the Second pertains to the revision of the ballots of the precincts specified in the protest. The Second Aspect was earlier dismissed by the Supreme Court for the failure of Legarda to pay the required deposit for the expenses. ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner clearly and convincingly proved the presence of manipulation or falsification of election results HELD: Petition DISMISSED. We are also in agreement that the protestant, in assuming the office of Senator and discharging her duties as such, which fact we can take judicial notice of, has effectively abandoned or withdrawn her protest, or abandoned her determination to protect and pursue the public interest involved in the matter of who is the real choice of the electorate. The most relevant precedent on this issue is Defensor-Santiago v. Ramos, a decision rendered by this Tribunal, which held that: The term of office of the Senators elected in the 8 May 1995 election is six years, the first three of which coincides with the last three years of the term of the President elected in the 11 May 1992 synchronized elections. The latter would be Protestant Santiagos term if she would succeed in proving in the i nstant protest that she was the true winner in the 1992 elections. In assuming the office of Senator then, the Protestant has effectively abandoned or withdrawn this protest, or at the very least, in the language of Moraleja, abandoned her determination t o protect and pursue the public interest involved in the matter of who is the real choice of the electorate. Such abandonment or withdrawal operates to render moot the instant protest. 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 election, thereby enhancing the all-[too] crucial political stability of the nation during this period of national recovery. It must also be stressed that under the Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, an election protest may be summarily dismissed, regardless of the public policy and public interest implications thereof, on the following

grounds: (1) The petition is insufficient in form and substance; (2) The petition is filed beyond the periods provided in Rules 14 and 15 hereof; (3) The filing fee is not paid within the periods provided for in these Rules; (4) The cash deposit, or the first P100,000.00 thereof, is not paid within 10 days after the filing of the protest; and (5) The petition or copies thereof and the annexes thereto filed with the Tribunal are not clearly legible. Other grounds for a motion to dismiss, e.g., those provided in the Rules of Court which apply in a suppletory character, may likewise be pleaded as affirmative defenses in the answer. After which, the Tribunal may, in its discretion, hold a preliminary hearing on such grounds. In sum, if an election protest may be dismissed on technical grounds, then it must be, for a decidedly stronger reason, if it has become moot due to its abandonment by the Protestant. In the case at bar, protestants tenure in the Senate coincides with the term of the Vice -Presidency 2004-2010, that is the subject of her protest. On the matter of the alleged spurious ER copies, we agree with the protestee that the protestant had not adequately and convincingly rebutted the presumption that as public documents, the Congress-retrieved ER copies, used for the proclamation of the protestee by the NBC, are authentic and duly executed in the regular course of official business. The evidence adduced by protestee to show that the supposed security features and markings in the Congress-retrieved ERs and the COMELEC/NAMFRELs copies are different, did not categorically establish that the Congress-retrieved ERs are fake and spurious. To overcome the presumption of regularity, there must be evidence that is clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant. Absent such convincing evidence, the presumption must be upheld. In fact, the records show that even the witnesses presented by the protestant testified that they were able to discern security features and markings in the Congress-retrieved ERs. The records also show that witnesses were not made to examine all Congress-retrieved ERs in making observations relative to security features and markings, but only a sample set thereof was utilized, resulting in grave insufficiency in the evidence presented by protestant.