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M ARY LOUISE ANDERSON V. ENRIQUE HO, G.R. NO.

172590 JANU ARY 7, 2013

Certification against forum shopping; SPA designating counsel to sign must be executed if party-pleader cannot sign.
The need to abide by the Rules of Court and the procedural requirements it imposes has been constantly underscored by this Court. One of these procedural requirements is the certificate of non-forum shopping which, time and again, has been declared as basic, necessary and mandatory for procedural orderliness.

In Vda. De Formoso v. Philippine National Bank, the Court reiterated the guidelines respecting noncompliance with or submission of a defective certificate of non-forum shopping, the relevant portions of which are as follows: 4) As to certification against forum shopping, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein, xxx, is generally not curable by its subsequent submission or correction thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of substantial compliance or presence of special circumstances or compelling reasons. 6) Finally, the certification against forum shopping must be executed by the party pleader, not by his counsel. If, however, for reasonable or justifiable reasons, the party-pleader is unable to sign, he must execute a Special Power of Attorney designating his counsel of record to sign on his behalf. The requirement that it is the petitioner, not her counsel, who should sign the certificate of non-forum shopping is due to the fact that a certification is a peculiar personal representation on the part of the principal party, an assurance given to the court or other tribunal that there are no pending cases involving basically the same parties, issues and causes of action. Obviously, it is the petitioner, and not always the counsel whose professional services have been retained for a particular case, who is in the best position to know whether [she] actually filed or caused the filing of a petition in that case. Per the above guidelines, however, if a petitioner is unable to sign a certification for reasonable or justifiable reasons, she must execute an SPA designating her counsel of record to sign on her behalf. A certification which had been signed by counsel without the proper authorization is defective and constitutes a valid cause for dismissal of the petition.

Certification against forum shopping; non-compliance is not curable by subsequent submission unless there is substantial compliance or special circumstance. In this light, the Court finds that the CA correctly dismissed Andersons Petition for Review on the ground that the certificate of non-forum shopping attached thereto was signed by Atty. Oliva on her behalf sans any authority to do so. While the Court notes that Anderson tried to correct this error by later submitting an SPA and by explaining her failure to execute one prior to the filing of the petition, this does not automatically denote substantial compliance. It must be remembered that a defective certification is generally not curable by its subsequent correction, and while it is true that in some cases the Court considered such a belated submission as substantial compliance, it did so only on sufficient and justifiable grounds that compelled a liberal approach while avoiding the effective negation of the intent of the rule on non-forum shopping.

Facts: This is a complaint for ejectment case that was dismissed by the MeTC. The case was appealed to the RTC which also dismissed the same without prejudice. Anderson filed an MR but the same was denied by the RTC. Intending to file with the CA a Petition for Review under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court , Andersons counsel, Atty. Rommel V. Oliva (Atty. Oliva), filed a Motion for Extension of Time of 15 days within which to file a petition allegedly due to the revisions required in the initial draft and on account of heavy pressure of work. This was granted by the CA. Subsequently, said counsel sought another extension of 15 days, this time claiming that the petition had already been finalized and sent to Anderson in Hawaii, U.S.A. for her to read as well as sign the certification and verification portion thereof. However, as of the last day of the extended period, the petition has not yet been sent back, hence, the additional extension being sought. In the interest of justice, the CA once again granted the said motion for extension. On June 20, 2005, Atty. Oliva was finally able to file the Petition for Review but the certification against forum shopping attached thereto was signed by him on Andersons behalf without any accompanying authority to do so. Hence, the CA dismissed the case as the certification of forum shopping was signed not by the petitioner herself but by her counsel without authority to do so. A motion for reconsideration was filed which was also denied by the CA. Thus, petitioner now invokes before the SC the liberal interpretation of the rules of procedure. Issue: Whether or not the rules on certification against forum shopping may be relaxed in this case. Ruling: Certification against forum shopping; SPA designating counsel to sign must be executed if partypleader cannot sign. The need to abide by the Rules of Court and the procedural requirements it imposes has been constantly underscored by this Court. One of these procedural requirements is the certificate of non-forum shopping which, time and again, has been declared as basic, necessary and mandatory for procedural orderliness. In Vda. De Formoso v. Philippine National Bank, the Court reiterated the guidelines respecting noncompliance with or submission of a defective certificate of non-forum shopping, the relevant portions of which are as follows:
4) As to certification against forum shopping, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein, xxx, is generally not curable by its subsequent submission or correction thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of substantial compliance or presence of special circumstances or compelling reasons. xxxx 6) Finally, the certification against forum shopping must be executed by the party pleader, not by his counsel. If, however, for reasonable or justifiable reasons, the party-pleader is unable to sign, he must execute a Special Power of Attorney designating his counsel of record to sign on his behalf.

The requirement that it is the petitioner, not her counsel, who should sign the certificate of non-forum shopping is due to the fact that a certification is a peculiar personal representation on the part of the principal party, an assurance given to the court or other tribunal that there are no pending cases involving basically the same parties, issues and causes of action. Obviously, it is the petitioner, and not always the counsel whose professional services have been retained for a particular case, who is in the best position to know whether [she] actually filed or caused the filing of a petition in that case. Per the above guidelines, however, if a petitioner is unable to sign a certification for reasonable or justifiable reasons, she must execute an SPA designating her counsel of record to sign on her behalf. A certification which had been signed by counsel without the proper authorization is defective and constitutes a valid cause for dismissal of the petition. In this light, the Court finds that the CA correctly dismissed Andersons Petition for Review on the ground that the certificate of non-forum shopping attached thereto was signed by Atty. Oliva on her behalf sans any authority to do so. While the Court notes that Anderson tried to correct this error by later submitting an SPA and by explaining her failure to execute one prior to the filing of the petition, this does not automatically denote substantial compliance. It must be remembered that a defective certification is generally not curable by its subsequent correction. And while it is true that in some cases the Court considered such a belated submission as substantial compliance, it did so only on sufficient and justifiable grounds that compelled a liberal approach while avoiding the effective negation of the intent of the rule on non-forum shopping.

While at first blush Donato appears to be similar with the case at bench, a deeper and meticulous comparison of the two cases reveals essential differences.

In Donato, the Court held that it was impossible for the petition to have been prepared and sent to the therein petitioner in the USA; for him to travel from Virginia to the nearest Philippine Consulate in Washington D.C.; and for the petition to be sent back to the Philippines within the 15-day reglementary period.

The same could not, however, be said in this case. It must be remembered that on top of the 15-day reglementary period to file the petition, Atty. Oliva sought and was granted a total extension of 30 days to file the same. Hence, Anderson had a total of 45 days to comply with the requirements of a Petition for Review as against the 15 days afforded to the petitioner in Donato. To this Court, the said period is more than enough time for Anderson to execute an SPA before the nearest Philippine Consulate, which again unlike in Donato, was located in the same state where Anderson was (Hawaii), and thereafter to send it to the Philippines. Anent her allegation that her health condition at that time hindered her from going to the proper authorities to execute an SPA, the same deserves scant consideration as no medical certificate was submitted to support this. Indeed, the age-old but familiar rule is that he who alleges must prove his allegations.

Moreover, simultaneous with the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration, the proper certificate of non-forum shopping was submitted by the petitioner in Donato. Notably in this case, the SPA was submitted two months after the filing of Andersons Motion for Reconsideration. It took that long because instead of

executing an SPA before the proper authorities in Hawaii and sending the same to the Philippines, Anderson still waited until she came back to the country and only then did she execute one. It thus puzzles the Court why Anderson opted not to immediately submit the SPA despite her awareness that the same should have been submitted simultaneously with the Petition for Review. Hence, it cannot help but conclude that the delay in the submission of the SPA i s nothing but a product of Andersons sheer laxity and indifference in complying with the rules.

It is well to stress that [r]ules are laid down for the benefit of all and should not be made dependent upon a suitors sweet time and own bidding. They should be faithfully complied with42 and may not simply be ignored to suit the convenience of a party.43 Although they are liberally construed in some situations, there must, however, be a showing of justifiable reasons and at least a reasonable attempt at compliance therewith, which unfortunately are not obtaining in this case.

In view of the foregoing, this Court affirms the CAs dismissal of Andersons Petition for Review.

HEIRS OF G ALLARDO VS. SOLIM AN, G.R. NO. 178952, APRIL 10, 2013

Facts: Petitioners Prosperidad Panlaqui-Gallardo (Prosperidad), Maria Carmen P. Gallardo-Nunag, Mario Lazaro P. Gallardo, Joy Catalina P. Gallardo, Pinky Perpetua P. Gallardo and Lazaro P. Gallardo, Jr. are the heirs of Lazaro Gallardo (Lazaro). Lazaro and Prosperidad are the registered owners of a parcel of land in Balingcanaway, Tarlac, Tarlac (the land). The land was placed under the coverage of Operation Land Transfer pursuant to P.D. 27, and respondent Porferio Soliman (Porferio) was instituted as a qualified farmer tenant-transferee thereof.

On June 2, 1995, petitioners filed a Complaint for collection of land amortizations, dispossession, ejectment, and cancellation of Deed of Transfer and Emancipation Patent against respondent Porferio before the Office of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD).

The PARAD rendered its decision notwithstanding its observation that the Kasunduan and the Deed of Transfer were defective for non-compliance with certain requirements of PD 27, nevertheless opined that said deeds were "within the context of PD 27".

Petitioners appealed to the DARAB which likewise upheld the validity of the Emancipation Patents following the ratiocination of the PARAD that they have been regularly issued.

Petitioners went up to the CA by Petition for Review. The CA issued the assailed Resolution dismissing petitioners Petition for Review on the ground that the verification and certification against forum shopping was signed by only four of the six petitioners. Petitioners Mario Lazaro P. Gallardo and Lazaro P. Gallardo, Jr. did not sign and no special power of attorney to sign in their favor accompanied the Petition. The CA held that the certification against forum shopping must be executed and signed by all of the petitioners, or else it is insufficient.

Issues: Whether or not the signing of the verification and certification of non-forum shopping by four (4) of the six (6) petitioners is insufficient to meet the requirements of the rule.

Ruling: It is sufficient.

The general rule is that the certificate of non-forum shopping must be signed by all the plaintiffs in a case and the signature of only one of them is insufficient. However, the Court has also stressed that the rules on forum shopping were designed to promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice and thus should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective. The rule of substantial compliance may be availed of with respect to the contents of the certification. This is because the requirement of strict compliance with the provisions regarding the certification of non-forum shopping merely underscores its mandatory nature in that the certification cannot be altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded. Thus, under justifiable circumstances, the Court has relaxed the rule requiring the submission of such certification considering that although it is obligatory, it is not jurisdictional.

In HLC Construction and Development Corporation v. Emily Homes Subdivision Homeowners Association, it was held that the signature of only one of the petitioners in the certification against forum shopping substantially complied with rules because all the petitioners share a common interest and invoke a common cause of action or defense.

The same position was taken in Medado v. Heirs of the Late Antonio Consing, where the Court held that "where the petitioners are immediate relatives, who share a common interest in the property subject of the action, the fact that only one of the petitioners executed the verification or certification of non forum shopping will not deter the court from proceeding with the action."

The same situation obtains in this case. Petitioners are all heirs of the deceased Lazaro. As such, they undoubtedly share a common interest in the land, as well as common claims and defenses, as against respondents.

It was therefore error for the CA to have dismissed the Petition for Review.

MBTC VS SANDOVAL FACTS: The Republic brought a complaint for reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages in the Sandiganbayan against Andres Genito et. al. The action was to recover allegedly ill gotten wealth of the Marcoses, their nominees and agents. The Republic impleaded Asian Bank (Metrobank as successor) as an additional defendant as one who claims ownership and was in possession of some of the subject properties. Republic later on moved to hold a separate trial against Asian Bank alleging that its cause of action against the bank was entirely distinct and independent from the main case; and that the issue was whether the bank had actual or constructive knowledge at the time of the issuance of the TCTs that such properties were in custodial egis. Sandiganbayan granted the motion to hold separate trial. ISSUE: Whether or not separate trial is proper. Whether or not Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the issue of Asian Banks alleged bad faith. RULING: The issues, being interrelated, are to be jointly discussed and resolved. Generally speaking, a lawsuit should not be tried piecemeal, or at least such a trial should be undertaken only with great caution and sparingly. There should be one full and comprehensive trial covering all disputed matters, and parties cannot, as of right, have a trial divided. It is the policy of the law to limit the number of trials as far as possible, and separate trials are granted only in exceptional cases (Section 2, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court). Even under a statute permitting trials of separate issues, neither party has an absolute right to have a separate trial of an issue involved. The trial of all issues together is especially appropriate in an action at law wherein the issues are not complicated, or where the issues are basically the same. Separate trials of issues should be ordered where such separation will avoid prejudice, further convenience, promote justice, and give a fair trial to all parties. As to the second issue, Sandiganbayan has exclusive jurisdiction over the matter involving Metrobank (Asian Bank). PD 1606 as amended by RA 7975 and RA 8249 vests the Sandiganbayan with original exclusive jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases relative to ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies.

G ARCIA VS CA Appeal; filing of motion for extension of time to file motion for reconsideration in CA does not toll fifteenday period to appeal; rule suspended in exceptional cases to serve substantial justice. The assailed CA resolution upheld the general rule that the filing of a motion for reconsideration in the CA does not toll the fifteen-day period to appeal, citing Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japson.However, in previous cases we suspended this rule in order to serve substantial justice. In Barnes v. Padilla, we exempted from the operation of the general rule the petitioner whose motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration was denied by the CA. In the Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration of our Decision dated September 30, 2004, we held that: A suspension of the Rules is warranted in this case since the procedural infirmity was not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the petitioner. Petitioners counsel was understandably confused with the absence of an explicit prohibition in the 2002 Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals (IRCA) that the period of filing a motion for reconsideration is non-extendible, which was expressly stated in the Revised Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals that was in effect prior to the IRCA. The lawyers negligence without any participatory negligence on the part of the petitioner is a sufficient reason to set aside the resolution of the CA. More significantly, a careful study of the merits of the case and the lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, dictated the setting aside of the resolutions of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 69573 and Branch 215 in Civil Case NO. Q-99-37219, as both are patently erroneous. x x x Furthermore, the private respondents will not be unjustly prejudiced by the suspension of the rules. What is subject of the appeal is only a question of law, involving the issue of forum shopping, and not a factual matter involving the merits of each partys respective claims and defenses relating to the enforcement of the MOA, wherein petitioner was given an option to purchase the subject property. Litigations should, as much as possible, be decided on their merits and not on mere technicalities. Every party-litigant should be afforded the amplest opportunity for the proper and just disposition of his cause, freed from the constraint of technicalities. After a conscientious view, we hold that a suspension of the Rules is warranted in this case since the delay of one week and two days in the filing of the motion for reconsideration was not occasioned by negligence on the part of petitioners lawyer in charge of the case, the latter having a valid excuse to immediately take leave of absence in view of her fathers sudden demise. There is likewise no showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory. Winston F. Garcia, in his capacity as President and General Manager of the GSIS v. Court of Appeals and Rudy C. Tesoro;G.R. No. 169005. January 28, 2013

Special Civil Action for Certiorari (Rule 65); nature; distinction between excess of jurisdiction, acts without jurisdiction and grave abuse of discretion. A certiorari proceeding is limited in scope and narrow in character. The special civil action for certiorari lies only to correct acts rendered without jurisdiction, in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion. Certiorari will issue only to correct errors of jurisdiction, not errors of procedure or mistakes in the findings or conclusions of the lower court. As long as the court acts within its jurisdiction, any alleged errors committed in the exercise of its discretion will amount to nothing more than mere errors of judgment, correctible by an appeal or a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, and not a petition for certiorari.

In a petition for certiorari, the public respondent acts without jurisdiction if it does not have the legal power to determine the case; there is excess of jurisdiction where the respondent, being clothed with the power to determine the case, oversteps its authority as determined by law. There is grave abuse of discretion where the public respondent acts in a capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic manner in the exercise of its judgment as to be said to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. Excess of jurisdiction, as distinguished from absence of jurisdiction means that an act, though within the general power of a tribunal, board or officer is not authorized, and invalid with respect to the particular proceeding, because the conditions which alone authorize the exercise of the general power in respect of it are wanting. The supervisory jurisdiction of the court to issue a certiorari writ cannot be exercised in order to review the judgment of the lower court as to intrinsic correctness, either upon the law or the facts of the case. In the absence of a showing that there is a reason for the court to annul the decision of the concerned tribunal or to substitute its own judgment, it is not the office of the Court in a petition for certiorari to inquire into the correctness of the assailed decision or resolution. Winston F. Garcia, in his capacity as President and General Manager of the GSIS v. Court of Appeals and Rudy C. Tesoro, G.R. No. 169005. January 28, 2013

SPOUSES DACUDAO VS G ONZALES Hierarchy of courts; concurrence of jurisdiction; non-observance results in dismissal. We emphasize that the concurrence of jurisdiction among the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts to issue the writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction did not give petitioners the unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum. An undue disregard of this policy against direct resort to the Court will cause the dismissal of the recourse. In Banez, Jr. v. Concepcion, we explained why, to wit: The court must enjoin the observance of the policy on the hierarchy of courts, and now affirms that the policy is not to be ignored without serious consequences, the strictness of the policy is designed to shield the Court from having to deal with causes that are also well within the competence of the lower courts, and thus leave time to the Court to deal with the more fundamental and more essential tasks that the Constitution has assigned to it, the Court may act on petitions for the extraordinary writs of certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus only when absolutely necessary or when serious and important reasons justify an exception to the policy. xxx Accordingly, every litigant must remember that the Court is not the only judicial forum from which to seek and obtain effective redress of his or her grievances. As a rule, the Court is a court of last resort, not a court of first instance. Hence, every litigant who brings petitions for the extraordinary writs of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus should ever be mindful of the policy on the hierarchy of courts, the observance of which is explicitly defined and enjoined in Section 4 of Rule 65. Spouses Augusto Dacudao and Ofelia Dacudao v. Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzales of the Department of Justice, G.R. No. 188056. January 8, 2013

Special Civil Action for Certiorari (Rule 65); requisites; burden of proof For a special civil action of certiorari to prosper, therefore, the following requisites must concur, namely: (a) it must be directed against a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (b) the tribunal, board or officer, must have acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to

lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (c) there is no appeal nor any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. The burden of proof lies on petitioners to demonstrate that the assailed order was issued without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Spouses Augusto Dacudao and Ofelia Dacudao v. Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzales of the Department of Justice, G.R. No. 188056. January 8, 2013 Special Civil Action for Certiorari (Rule 65); when available. The writ of certiorari is available only when any tribunal, board or officer, exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, nor any plain speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. The sole office of the writ of certiorari, according to Delos Santos v. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company: xxx is the correction of errors of jurisdiction, which includes the commission of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. In this regard, mere abuse of discretion is not enough to warrant the issuance of the writ. The abuse of discretion must be grave which means either that the judicial or quasijudicial power was exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, or that the respondent judge, tribunal or board evaded a positive duty, or virtually refused to perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation of law, such as when such judge, tribunal or board exercising judicial or quasi-judicial powers acted in a capricious or whimsical manner as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Spouses Augusto Dacudao and Ofelia Dacudao v. Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzales of the Department of Justice, G.R. No. 188056. January 8, 2013

Special Civil Action for Mandamus; nature; when available. Similarly, the petition could not be one for mandamus, which is a remedy available only when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court. The main objective of mandamus is to compel the performance of a ministerial duty on the part of the respondent. Plainly enough, the writ ofmandamus does not issue to control or review the exercise of discretion or to compel a course of conduct, which, it quickly seems to us, was what petitioners would have the Secretary of Justice do in their favor. Consequently, their petition has not indicated how and where the Secretary of Justices assailed issuances excluded them from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which they were unquestionably entitled. Spouses Augusto Dacudao and Ofelia Dacudao v. Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzales of the Department of Justice, G.R. No. 188056. January 8, 2013

SPOUSES TOLOSA V. UNITED COCONUT PLANTER S BANK

ALEJANDRO V. OFFICE INTELLIGENCEBUREAU

OF

THE

OMBUDSM AN

FACT-FINDING

AND

ARROYO VS DOJ G .R. NO. 199082 JULY 23, 2013 FACTS: Senator Pimentel filed a Complaint Affidavit for Electoral Sabotage against petitioners and twelve others, and several John Does and Jane Does. Thereafter, the Joint Committee (Comelec and the DOJ issued Joint
Order No. 001-2011 creating and constituting a Joint Committee and Fact-Finding Team (referred to as the Joint Panel) on the 2004 and 2007 National Elections electoral fraud and manipulation cases) issued two subpoenas

against. Petitioners, through counsel, appeared before the Joint Committee and respondents were ordered to submit their Counter Affidavits. Thereafter, petitioners filed before the Court separate Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of a TPO and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction assailing the creation of the Joint Panel. The petitions were eventually consolidated. Mike Arroyo filed a Motion to Defer Proceedings before the Joint Committee, in view of the pendency of his petition before the Court. On the same day, GMA filed before the Joint Committee an Omnibus Motion Ad Cautelam to require Senator Pimentel to furnish her with documents referred to in his complaintaffidavit and for the production of election documents as basis for the charge of electoral sabotage. GMA prayed that she be allowed to file her counter-affidavit within 10 days from receipt of the requested documents. Petitioner Abalos, for his part, filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings (Ex Abundante Ad Cautelam), in view of the pendency of his petition brought before the Court. The Joint Committee denied the motions of petitioners. GMA, subsequently, filed a motion for reconsideration. The Joint Committee promulgated a Joint Resolution which was later indorsed to the Comelec. Comelec en banc issued a Resolution approving and adopting the Joint Resolution subject to modifications. The Comelec resolved that an information for electoral sabotage be filed against GMA and Abalos, while the charges against Mike Arroyo be dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. The Comelecs Law Department filed with the RTC an Information against petitioner GMA et. al for violation of RA 9369 and a corresponding WOA was issued which was served on GMA on the same day. GMA filed with the RTC an Urgent Omnibus Motion Ad Cautelam with leave to allow the Joint Committee to resolve the motion for reconsideration filed by GMA, to defer issuance of a warrant of arrest and a hold departure order, and to proceed to judicial determination of probable cause. She, likewise, filed with the Comelec a Motion to Vacate Ad Cautelam praying that its Resolution be vacated for being null and void. Nonetheless, RTC issued a WOA which was duly served. GMA was later arraigned and she entered a plea of not guilty. RTC dismissed the petitions and the supplemental petitions. It ruled that the Comelec Resolution No. 9266, Joint Order and the Fact- Finding Teams Initial Report are declared VALID. However, the Rules of Procedure on the Conduct of Preliminary Investigation on the Alleged Election Fraud in the 2004 and 2007 National Elections is declared INEFFECTIVE for lack of publication. In view of the constitutionality of the Joint Panel and the proceedings having been conducted in accordance with Rule 112 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure and Rule 34 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure, the conduct of the preliminary investigation is hereby declared VALID. ISSUES

GMA claims that in availing of the procedural remedies available, she merely exercised her earnest efforts to defend herself and should not have been deemed by the Court as acts which purportedly tend to

demonstrate that she either waived or forfeited her right to submit her counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence.31 Citing several cases decided by the Court, she likewise faults the Court in not upholding her right to ask for additional time within which to submit her counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence.32 GMA highlights that the subject Comelec Resolution creating the Joint Panel is different from the previous Comelec resolutions requesting the DOJ Secretary to assign prosecutors to assist the Comelec, as the latter emphasize the role of the DOJ as deputized agency in the conduct of preliminary investigation. She maintains that it is the Comelec and not the Joint Committee that has the primary, if not exclusive, authority to conduct preliminary investigation of election cases.33 In their Consolidated Comment,34 respondents defend the creation of the Joint Committee and argue that it does not undermine the independence of the Comelec as a constitutional body because it is still the Comelec that ultimately determines probable cause.35 As to the conduct of the preliminary investigation, respondents maintain that no rights were violated as GMA was afforded the opportunity to defend herself, submit her counter-affidavit and other countervailing evidence.36 They, thus, consider GMAs claim of availing of the remedial measures as delaying tactics employed to thwart the investigation of charges against her by the Joint Committee.37 The Courts Ruling Clearly from the above discussion, movants raise issues that have been thoroughly explained by the Court in the assailed decision. The issues were all addressed and the explanation was exhaustive, thus, we find no reason to disturb the Courts conclusions. At any rate, if only to address the motions of the movants herein and

to put an end to the questions attached to the creation of the Joint Panel and, consequently, to the performance of their assigned tasks, we hereby reiterate our findings and conclusions made in the assailed decision. This is not the first time that the Court is confronted with the issue of whether the Comelec has the exclusive power to investigate and prosecute cases of violations of election laws. In Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) Party-List v. Commission on Elections,38 the constitutionality of Section 4339 of RA 936940 had already been raised by petitioners therein and addressed by the Court. While recognizing the Comelecs exclusive power to investigate and prosecute cases under Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 or the Omnibus Election Code, the Court pointed out that the framers of the 1987 Constitution did not have such intention. This exclusivity is thus a legislative enactment that can very well be amended by Section 43 of RA 9369. Therefore, under the present law, the Comelec and other prosecuting arms of the government, such as the DOJ, now exercise concurrent jurisdiction in the investigation and prosecution of election offenses. Indeed, as aptly pointed out by GMA, there is a discrepancy between Comelec Resolution No. 346741 dated January 12, 2001 and Joint Order No. 001-2011, dated August 15, 2011, creating and constituting a Joint Committee and Fact-Finding Team on the 2004 and 2007 National Elections electoral fraud and manipulation cases. However, GMA seemed to miss the date when these two resolutions were promulgated by the Comelec. It is noteworthy that Comelec Resolution No. 3467 was issued when Section 265 of the Omnibus Election Code was still effective, while Joint Order No. 0012011 as well as Comelec Resolution Nos. 873342 and 905743 mentioned in the assailed decision but missed out by GMA in her motion, were issued during the effectivity of Section 43 of RA 9369, giving the Comelec and

other prosecuting arms of the government the concurrent jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute election offenses. This amendment paved the way for the discrepancy. In Comelec Resolution No. 3467, the Comelec maintained the continuing deputation of prosecutors and the Comelec Law Department was tasked to supervise the investigatory and prosecutory functions of the task force pursuant to the mandate of the Omnibus Election Code. However, with the amendment, the Comelec likewise changed the tenor of the later resolutions to reflect the new mandate of the Comelec and other prosecuting arms of the government now exercising concurrent jurisdiction. Thus, the Comelec Law Department and the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor of the DOJ were tasked to jointly supervise the investigatory and prosecutory functions of the Comelec-DOJ Task Force. Considering, therefore, that the later resolutions, including Joint Order No. 001-2011, were issued pursuant to Section 43 of RA 9369 amending Section 265 of BP 881 which was declared constitutional in Banat, there is no reason for us to declare otherwise. To maintain the previous role of other prosecuting arms of the government as mere deputies despite the amendment would mean challenging Section 43 of RA 9369 anew which has already been settled in Banat. To be sure, the creation of a Joint Committee is not repugnant to the concept of concurrent jurisdiction authorized by the amendatory law. As we explained in our September 18, 2012 Decision: x x x The doctrine of concurrent jurisdiction means equal jurisdiction to deal with the same subject matter. Contrary to the contention of the petitioners, there is no prohibition on simultaneous exercise of power between two coordinate bodies. What is prohibited is the situation where one files a complaint against a respondent initially with one office (such as the Comelec) for preliminary investigation which was immediately acted

upon by said office and the re-filing of substantially the same complaint with another office (such as the DOJ). The subsequent assumption of jurisdiction by the second office over the cases filed will not be allowed. Indeed, it is a settled rule that the body or agency that first takes cognizance of the complaint shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of the others. xxxx None of these problems would likely arise in the present case. The Comelec and the DOJ themselves agreed that they would exercise their concurrent jurisdiction jointly. Although the preliminary investigation was conducted on the basis of two complaints the initial report of the FactFinding Team and the complaint of Senator Pimentel both complaints were filed with the Joint Committee. Consequently, the complaints were filed with and the preliminary investigation was conducted by only one investigative body. Thus, we find no reason to disallow the exercise of concurrent jurisdiction jointly by those given such authority. This is especially true in this case given the magnitude of the crimes allegedly committed by petitioners. The joint preliminary investigation also serves to maximize the resources and manpower of both the Comelec and the DOJ for the prompt disposition of the cases.44 Notwithstanding the grant of concurrent jurisdiction, the Comelec and the DOJ nevertheless included a provision in the assailed Joint Order whereby the resolutions of the Joint Committee finding probable cause for election offenses shall still be approved by the Comelec in accordance with the Comelec Rules of Procedure.45 With more reason, therefore, that we cannot consider the creation of the Joint Committee as an abdication of the Comelecs independence enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Finally, we focus on the validity of the preliminary investigation

conducted by the Joint Committee. The procedure in conducting the preliminary investigation is governed by Rule 112 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure and Rule 34 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure. Under both Rules,46 the respondent shall submit his counter-affidavit and that of his witnesses and other supporting documents relied upon for his defense, within ten (10) days from receipt of the subpoena, with the complaint and supporting affidavits and documents.47 Also in both Rules, respondent is given the right to examine evidence, but such right of examination is limited only to the documents or evidence submitted by complainants which she may not have been furnished and to copy them at her expense.48 As to the alleged denial of GMAs right to examine documents, we maintain that no right was violated in view of the limitation of such right as set forth above. We reiterate our explanation in the assailed decision, to wit: While it is true that Senator Pimentel referred to certain election documents which served as bases in the allegations of significant findings specific to the protested municipalities involved, there were annexes or attachments to the complaint filed. As stated in the Joint Committees Order dated November 15, 2011 denying GMAs Omnibus Motion Ad Cautelam, Senator Pimentel was ordered to furnish petitioners with all the supporting evidence. However, Senator Pimentel manifested that he was adopting all the affidavits attached to the Fact-Finding Teams Initial Report. Therefore, when GMA was furnished with the documents attached to the Initial Report, she was already granted the right to examine as guaranteed by the Comelec Rules of Procedure and the Rules on Criminal Procedure. Those were the only documents submitted by the complainants to the Committee. If there are other documents that were referred to in Senator Pimentels complaint but were not submitted to the Joint

Committee, the latter considered those documents unnecessary at that point (without foreclosing the relevance of other evidence that may later be presented during the trial) as the evidence submitted before it were considered adequate to find probable cause against her. x x x49 Neither was GMAs right violated when her motion for extension of time within which to submit her counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence was consequently denied. The Rules use the term shall in requiring the respondent to submit counter-affidavit and other countervailing evidence within ten (10) days from receipt of the subpoena. It is settled that the use of the word shall which is a word of command, underscores the mandatory character of the rule.50 As in any other rule, though, liberality in the application may be allowed provided that the party is able to present a compelling justification for the non-observance of the mandatory rules. In the 2008 Revised Manual for Prosecutors, investigating prosecutors allow or grant motions or requests for extension of time to submit counter-affidavits when the interest of justice demands that respondent be given reasonable time or sufficient opportunity to engage the services of counsel; examine voluminous records submitted in support of the complaint or undertake research on novel, complicated or technical questions or issues of law and facts of the case. In this case, GMA claimed that she could not submit her counteraffidavit within the prescribed period because she needed to examine documents mentioned in Senator Pimentels complaint-affidavit. It appeared, however, that said documents were not submitted to the Joint Committee and the only supporting documents available were those attached to the Initial Report of the Fact-Finding Team. Admittedly, GMA was furnished those documents. Thus, at the time she asked for the extension of time within which to file her counter-affidavit, she very well knew that the

documents she was asking were not in the record of the case. Obviously, she was not furnished those documents because they were not submitted to the Joint Committee. Logically, she has no right to examine said documents. We cannot, therefore, fault the Joint Committee in consequently denying her motion for extension to file counter-affidavit as there was no compelling justification for the non-observance of the period she was earlier required to follow. And as we held in the assailed decision: There might have been overzealousness on the part of the Joint Committee in terminating the investigation, endorsing the Joint Resolution to the Comelec for approval, and in filing the information in court. However, speed in the conduct of proceedings by a judicial or quasijudicial officer cannot per se be instantly attributed to an injudicious performance of functions. The orderly administration of justice remains the paramount consideration with particular regard to the peculiar circumstances of each case. To be sure, petitioners were given the opportunity to present countervailing evidence. Instead of complying with the Joint Committees directive, several motions were filed but were denied by the Joint Committee. Consequently, petitioners right to submit counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence was forfeited. Taking into account the constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases and following the procedures set forth in the Rules on Criminal Procedure and the Comelec Rules of Procedure, the Joint Committee finally reached its conclusion and referred the case to the Comelec. The latter, in turn, performed its task and filed the information in court. Indeed, petitioners were given the opportunity to be heard. They even actively participated in the proceedings and in fact filed several motions before the Joint Committee. Consistent with the constitutional mandate of speedy disposition of cases, unnecessary delays should be avoided. 52

Finally, in our assailed decision, we already took judicial notice that not only did GMA enter a plea of not guilty, she also filed a Motion for Bail and after due hearing, it was granted. Apparently, she benefited from the RTC Order giving her temporary liberty. In filing the motion before the RTC and actively participating therein, she has chosen to seek judicial remedy before the RTC where the electoral sabotage case is pending instead of the executive remedy of going back to the Joint Committee for the submission of her counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence. Besides, as thoroughly discussed in the assailed decision, the irregularity or even the absence of preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the information filed against her.

SPOUSES TOLOSA V. UNITED COCONUT PLANTER S BANK