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Topic: Suffrage as a duty

G.R. No. L-47243

June 17, 1940

In the year 1937 the total number of registered voters in the municipality of Talisay, Negros
Occidental, was 3,658. In 1938, the electoral census of the place showed that the number of registered
voters had increased to 18,288.
A few days before the election for Assemblymen, there were 17,344 petitions filed in the justice
of the peace court of Bacolod for the exclusion of the names of an equal number of persons from the
permanent list of registered voters on the grounds that (1) they were not residents of Talisay in accordance
with the Election Code, (2) that they could not prepare their ballots themselves, and that (3) their
registration as voters was not done in accordance with law.
The hearing of the petitions for exclusion was held and attorneys Hilado, Parreo, Remitio and
Severino entered their appearance for the challenged voters. The justice of the peace of Bacolod
ascertained who of the challenged voters were present in court and who were absent. Thereafter the said
justice of the peace declared those who were absent in default.
Failing to obtain a reconsideration, the attorneys for the challenged voters moved for all the
petitions to be forwarded to the CFI of Negros Occidental which was then presided over by two Judges.
The attorneys for the petitioners in the said 17,344 exclusion cases objected on the ground that
the aforesaid attorneys had no authority to represent those who were absent. Whereupon the justice of the
peace of Bacolod ruled that said attorneys could represent only the 87 challenged voters who were present
in the court room and at the same time the justice of the peace dismissed 253 of the petitions upon motion
of the petition upon motion of the petitioners themselves.
Although no evidence was presented by the petitioners in support of their petition against those
who, were declared in default, the justice of the peace of Bacolod ordered their exclusion from the list of
voters on the ground that it was the duty of the challenged voters to appear in court in order to be
personally examined in accordance with section 118 (f) of the Election Code.
Whether or not the justice of the peace of Bacolod erred when it did not grant the motion to
remand all the exclusion cases to the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental.
The SC held that the judgment appealed from will accordingly be reversed and in the exercise of
their discretionary power, the case remanded to the CFI of Negros Occidental with instruction to hear and
decide the petitions for exclusion of the merits, giving the parties every opportunity to present their

respective evidence so that it may thereafter make such corrections in the electoral census of Talisay,
Negros Occidental.
Section 113 of the Election Code provides that if the Judge of the CFI is in the province, the
proceedings for the inclusion from the list of voters shall, upon petition of any interested party filed
before the presentation of evidence, be remanded to the said Judge who shall hear and decide the same in
the first and last instance. When, therefore, the attorneys for the challenged voters moved the justice of
the peace of Bacolod to remand all the exclusion cases to the Court of First Instance of Negros
Occidental, then presided over by two Judges, it was mandatory on said justice of the peace to grant the
motion. In view of the nature of the proceedings which affect public interest, it was error for the aforesaid
justice of the peace not to have remanded all the petitions for exclusion to the Court of First Instance of
Negros Occidental.
In the scheme of our present republican government, the people are allowed to have a voice
therein through the instrumentality of suffrage to be availed of by those possessing certain prescribe
qualifications (Article V, Constitution of the Philippines; sections 93 and 94, Election Code). The people
in clothing a citizen with the elective franchise for the purpose of securing a consistent and perpetual
administration of the government they ordain, charge him with the performance of a duty in the nature of
a public trust, and in that respect constitute him a representative of the whole people. This duty requires
that the privilege thus bestowed should be exercised, not exclusively for the benefit of the citizen or class
of citizens professing it, but in good faith and with an intelligent zeal for the general benefit of the state.
(U.S. vs. Cruikshank, 92 U. S., 588.) In the last analysis, therefore, the inclusion from the permanent
electoral list of any voter concerns not only the latter in his individual capacity but the public in general.
Avancea C.J., Imperial, Diaz, Concepcion and Moran, JJ., concur.

Topic: Construction of Election Laws

G.R. No. 139357. May 5, 2000
Maruhom and Dimaporo were both candidates for Mayor in the Municipality of Marogong,
Lanao del Sur. During the counting of votes, serious irregularities, anomalies and electoral frauds were
committed at the instance of petitioner or his followers in that votes actually casted for the private
respondent were not counted and credited in his favor thru the concerted acts, conspiracy and
manipulation of the Board of Election Inspectors, military, Election Officer and the Machine Operator
who happens to be a nephew of the petitioner. Many official ballots were refused or rejected by the
As a result of the foregoing irregularities, anomalies and electoral frauds, the petitioner was
illegally proclaimed as winner because he appeared to have obtained 2,020 votes while the private
respondent garnered 2,000 votes with a slight margin of only 20 votes.
Private respondent, knowing that he was cheated and the true winner for Mayor, filed before
COMELEC a petition to annul the proclamation of petitioner Abdulmadid Maruhom as the duly elected
Mayor of Marogong, Lanao del Sur.
Subsequently, a Revision Committee was created and its membership were duly appointed in
open court which committee was directed by the COMELEC to finish the revision of ballots.
After the Revision Committee was directed by the respondent to commence the revision of
ballots, petitioner filed a counter-protest praying to hold in abeyance further proceedings since the protest
is subject to petition filed with the COMELEC.
In support of his cause, petitioner insists that there is "nothing irregular or anomalous in the filing
of the motion to dismiss" after the filing of the answer because in effect he is merely insisting on a
preliminary hearing of his special and affirmative defenses. Thus, he claims that the summary dismissal
of his motion to dismiss is tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in dismissing SPR No. 52-98.
It is clear, given the foregoing facts of this case, that the roundabout manner within which
petitioner virtually substituted his answer by belatedly filing a motion to dismiss three (3) months later is
a frivolous resort to procedure calculated to frustrate the will of the electorate. As pointedly observed by

the COMELEC in its challenged Resolution dated July 6, 1999, petitioner only filed his motion to dismiss
"when the results of the trial appeared to be adverse to him" or right after the creation of the Revision
Committee had been ordered by the trial court. If petitioner truly intended to move for the preliminary
hearing of his special and affirmative defenses as he claims, then he should have simultaneously moved
for the preliminary hearing of his special and affirmative defenses at the time he filed his answer.
Otherwise, he should have filed his motion to dismiss "within the time for but before filing the answer"
pursuant to Section 1, Rule 16 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
While the challenged COMELEC Resolution may not have been entirely correct in dismissing the
petition in this regard, the soundness of its discretion to accord unto the trial court the competence to
resolve the factual issues raised in the controversy cannot be doubted.
Section 2 (1) of Article IX of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad power to "enforce
and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative,
referendum and recall." There can hardly be any doubt that the text and intent of this constitutional
provision is to give COMELEC all the necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the holding of
free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections.
In accordance with this intent, the Court has been liberal in defining the parameters of the
COMELECs powers in conducting elections. Succinctly stated, laws and statutes governing election
contests especially the appreciation of ballots must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the
electorate in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by technical infirmities. An election protest
is imbued with public interest so much so that the need to dispel uncertainties which becloud the real
choice of the people is imperative, much more so in this case considering that a mere twenty (20) votes
separates the winner from the loser of the contested election results.
Laws and statutes governing election contests especially the appreciation of ballots must be
liberally construed and that in applying election laws, it would be far better to err in favor of the popular
sovereignty than to be right in complex but little understood legalisms.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.