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Article VI Section 17 I.

Jurisdiction of Electoral Tribunal


Chavez v. COMELEC 211 SCRA 315 [1992] (pre-proclamation)
FACTS: On 5 May, 1992, the Supreme Court issued a resolution in the case of Francisco
Chavez vs. COMELEC (GR 104704) which disqualified Melchor Chavez from running for
Office of Senator in the May, 1992 elections. When COMELEC received the resolution,
Francisco Chavez filed an urgent motion to the COMELEC praying that 1.) to disseminate
through the fastest available means the resolution to all election officials and areas, and 2.) to
delete Melchor Chavezs name among the list of certified candidates and "to count all votes cast
for the disqualified Melchor Chavez in favor of Francisco Chavez."
COMELEC issued Res. No. 92-1322 which deleted the name of Melchor Chavez from
the list of candidates, however it failed to order the crediting of Chavez votes in favor of
Francisco. According to Francisco, COMELEC failed delete the name of the disqualified
candidate, in violation of RA 7166, Sec. 7, and thus the name of Melchor Chavez remained
undeleted during election day. In this confusion, the Boards of Election Inspectors (BEIs) from
170,354 precincts nationwide declared votes for Melchor Chavez as either stray or invalidated,
and as a result votes for Melchor were not credited to Francisco.
Francisco then filed a petition for COMELEC to, among other points, to re-open the
ballot boxes in 13 provinces involving some 80,348 precincts, to scan for the "Chavez" votes for
purposes of crediting the same in his favor, and to suspend the proclamation of the 24 winning
candidates through the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO.)
ISSUE: Whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to entertain Franciscos petition.
HELD: No, the Court does not have jurisdiction in this case.
The Court stated that the nature of Francisco Chavezs controversy is one of a preproclamation, which is defined as "any question pertaining to or affecting the proceedings of the
board of canvassers which may be raised by any candidate or by any registered political party or
coalition of political parties before the board or directly with the Commission, or any matter
raised under Sections 233, 234, 235 and 236 in relation to the preparation, transmission, receipt,
custody and appreciation of the election returns" (Sec. 241, Omnibus Election Code).
The Court stated that although COMELEC has jurisdiction over pre-proclamation
controversies involving local elective officials (Sec. 242, Omnibus Election Code), preproclamation cases are not allowed in elections for President, Vice-President, Senator and
Member of the House of Representatives. Republic Act 7166, Section 15 states that For
purposes of the elections for President, Vice-President, Senator and Member of the House of
Representatives, no pre-proclamation cases shall be allowed on matters relating to the
preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and appreciation of the election returns or the
certificate of canvass, as the case may be.

Additionally, RA 7166 states that only "manifest errors (i.e. appearing on the face) in the
certificate of canvass or election returns may be corrected. The Court cited the case of Sanchez
v. COMELEC which further defined the characteristics for such manifest errors under the
Omnibus Election Code: the election returns are incomplete or contain material defects (sec.
234), appear to have been tampered with, falsified or prepared under duress (sec. 235) and/or
contain discrepancies in the votes credited to any candidate, the difference of which affects the
result of the election (sec. 236). Francisco Chavezs complaint that Chavez votes were not
counted in his favor clearly does not fall under any of the elements listed in the Omnibus Code.
In the absence of any manifest error, the Court further states that Franciscos proper
recourse would be to take up the case to the Senate Electoral Tribunal. Under Article VI, Section
17 of the Constitution, "(t)he Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an
Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns,
and qualifications of their respective Members" The word sole emphasizes that only the
Tribunal has jurisdiction over election contests over their respective members which, as worth
noting in this case, includes members of the Senate. Thus, the Court does not have jurisdiction to
entertain Francisco Chavezs petition and must therefore dismiss it for lack of merit.