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Republic of the Philippines provides that "[a]ny person who files his certificate of candidacy within [the period

icate of candidacy within [the period for


SUPREME COURT filing] shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he
Manila filed his certificate of candidacy." The immediately succeeding proviso in the same third
paragraph states that "unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect
EN BANC only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period." These two provisions determine the
resolution of this case.
G.R. No. 181613 November 25, 2009
The Decision states that "[w]hen the campaign period starts and [the person who filed his
certificate of candidacy] proceeds with his/her candidacy, his/her intent turning into actuality,
ROSALINDA A. PENERA, Petitioner,
we can already consider his/her acts, after the filing of his/her COC and prior to the campaign
vs.
period, as the promotion of his/her election as a candidate, hence, constituting premature
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EDGAR T. ANDANAR, Respondents.
campaigning, for which he/she may be disqualified."1
RESOLUTION
Under the Decision, a candidate may already be liable for premature campaigning after the
filing of the certificate of candidacy but even before the start of the campaign period. From the
CARPIO, J.: filing of the certificate of candidacy, even long before the start of the campaign period, the
Decision considers the partisan political acts of a person so filing a certificate of candidacy "as
We grant Rosalinda A. Penera’s (Penera) motion for reconsideration of this Court’s Decision the promotion of his/her election as a candidate." Thus, such person can be disqualified for
of 11 September 2009 (Decision). premature campaigning for acts done before the start of the campaign period. In short, the
Decision considers a person who files a certificate of candidacy already a "candidate" even
The assailed Decision dismissed Penera’s petition and affirmed the Resolution dated 30 July before the start of the campaign period. lawphil
2008 of the COMELEC En Banc as well as the Resolution dated 24 July 2007 of the
COMELEC Second Division. The Decision disqualified Penera from running for the office of The assailed Decision is contrary to the clear intent and letter of the law.
Mayor in Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte and declared that the Vice-Mayor should succeed
Penera. The Decision reverses Lanot v. COMELEC,2 which held that a person who files a
certificate of candidacy is not a candidate until the start of the campaign period .
In support of her motion for reconsideration, Penera submits the following arguments: In Lanot, this Court explained:

1. Penera was not yet a candidate at the time of the incident under Section 11 of RA Thus, the essential elements for violation of Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code are: (1)
8436 as amended by Section 13 of RA 9369. a person engages in an election campaign or partisan political activity; (2) the act is designed
to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates; (3) the act is done
2. The petition for disqualification failed to submit convincing and substantial outside the campaign period.
evidence against Penera for violation of Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code.
The second element requires the existence of a "candidate." Under Section 79(a), a candidate
3. Penera never admitted the allegations of the petition for disqualification and has is one who "has filed a certificate of candidacy" to an elective public office. Unless one has
consistently disputed the charge of premature campaigning. filed his certificate of candidacy, he is not a "candidate." The third element requires that the
campaign period has not started when the election campaign or partisan political activity is
4. The admission that Penera participated in a motorcade is not the same as committed.
admitting she engaged in premature election campaigning.
Assuming that all candidates to a public office file their certificates of candidacy on the last
Section 79(a) of the Omnibus Election Code defines a "candidate" as "any person aspiring for day, which under Section 75 of the Omnibus Election Code is the day before the start of the
or seeking an elective public office, who has filed a certificate of candidacy x x x." The second campaign period, then no one can be prosecuted for violation of Section 80 for acts done prior
sentence, third paragraph, Section 15 of RA 8436, as amended by Section 13 of RA 9369, to such last day. Before such last day, there is no "particular candidate or candidates" to
campaign for or against. On the day immediately after the last day of filing, the campaign
period starts and Section 80 ceases to apply since Section 80 covers only acts done "outside" 1998 while the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy for other positions shall be on
the campaign period. March 27, 1998.

Thus, if all candidates file their certificates of candidacy on the last day, Section 80 may only The official ballots shall be printed by the National Printing Office and/or the Bangko Sentral
apply to acts done on such last day, which is before the start of the campaign period and after ng Pilipinas at the price comparable with that of private printers under proper security
at least one candidate has filed his certificate of candidacy. This is perhaps the reason why measures which the Commission shall adopt. The Commission may contract the services of
those running for elective public office usually file their certificates of candidacy on the last day private printers upon certification by the National Printing Office/Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
or close to the last day. that it cannot meet the printing requirements. Accredited political parties and deputized
citizens’ arms of the Commission may assign watchers in the printing, storage and distribution
There is no dispute that Eusebio’s acts of election campaigning or partisan political activities of official ballots.
were committed outside of the campaign period. The only question is whether Eusebio, who
filed his certificate of candidacy on 29 December 2003, was a "candidate" when he committed To prevent the use of fake ballots, the Commission through the Committee shall ensure that
those acts before the start of the campaign period on 24 March 2004. the serial number on the ballot stub shall be printed in magnetic ink that shall be easily
detectable by inexpensive hardware and shall be impossible to reproduce on a photocopying
Section 11 of Republic Act No. 8436 ("RA 8436") moved the deadline for the filing of machine, and that identification marks, magnetic strips, bar codes and other technical and
certificates of candidacy to 120 days before election day. Thus, the original deadline was security markings, are provided on the ballot.
moved from 23 March 2004 to 2 January 2004, or 81 days earlier. The crucial question is: did
this change in the deadline for filing the certificate of candidacy make one who filed his The official ballots shall be printed and distributed to each city/municipality at the rate of one
certificate of candidacy before 2 January 2004 immediately liable for violation of Section 80 if (1) ballot for every registered voter with a provision of additional four (4) ballots per precinct.
he engaged in election campaign or partisan political activities prior to the start of the
campaign period on 24 March 2004? Under Section 11 of RA 8436, the only purpose for the early filing of certificates of candidacy
is to give ample time for the printing of official ballots. This is clear from the following
Section 11 of RA 8436 provides: deliberations of the Bicameral Conference Committee:

SECTION 11. Official Ballot. – The Commission shall prescribe the size and form of the official SENATOR GONZALES. Okay. Then, how about the campaign period, would it be the same[,]
ballot which shall contain the titles of the positions to be filled and/or the propositions to be uniform for local and national officials?
voted upon in an initiative, referendum or plebiscite. Under each position, the names of
candidates shall be arranged alphabetically by surname and uniformly printed using the same THE CHAIRMAN (REP. TANJUATCO). Personally, I would agree to retaining it at the present
type size. A fixed space where the chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors shall affix periods.
his/her signature to authenticate the official ballot shall be provided.
SENATOR GONZALES. But the moment one files a certificate of candidacy, he’s already a
Both sides of the ballots may be used when necessary. candidate, and there are many prohibited acts on the part of candidate.

For this purpose, the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy/petition for registration/ THE CHAIRMAN (REP. TANJUATCO). Unless we. . . .
manifestation to participate in the election shall not be later than one hundred twenty (120)
days before the elections: Provided, That, any elective official, whether national or local, SENATOR GONZALES. And you cannot say that the campaign period has not yet began
running for any office other than the one which he/she is holding in a permanent capacity, (sic).
except for president and vice-president, shall be deemed resigned only upon the start of the
campaign period corresponding to the position for which he/she is running: Provided, further,
That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect upon the start of THE CHAIRMAN (REP. TANJUATCO). If we don’t provide that the filing of the certificate will
the aforesaid campaign period: Provided, finally, That, for purposes of the May 11, 1998 not bring about one’s being a candidate.
elections, the deadline for filing of the certificate of candidacy for the positions of President,
Vice-President, Senators and candidates under the party-list system as well as petitions for SENATOR GONZALES. If that’s a fact, the law cannot change a fact.
registration and/or manifestation to participate in the party-list system shall be on February 9,
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. TANJUATCO). No, but if we can provide that the filing of the Lanot was decided on the ground that one who files a certificate of candidacy is not a
certificate of candidacy will not result in that official vacating his position, we can also provide candidate until the start of the campaign period. This ground was based on the deliberations
that insofar he is concerned, election period or his being a candidate will not yet commence. of the legislators who explained the intent of the provisions of RA 8436, which laid the legal
Because here, the reason why we are doing an early filing is to afford enough time to prepare framework for an automated election system. There was no express provision in the original
this machine readable ballots. RA 8436 stating that one who files a certificate of candidacy is not a candidate until the start of
the campaign period.
So, with the manifestations from the Commission on Elections, Mr. Chairman, the House
Panel will withdraw its proposal and will agree to the 120-day period provided in the Senate When Congress amended RA 8436, Congress decided to expressly incorporate the Lanot
version. doctrine into law, realizing that Lanot merely relied on the deliberations of Congress in holding
that —
THE CHAIRMAN (SENATOR FERNAN). Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The clear intention of Congress was to preserve the "election periods as x x x fixed by existing
xxxx law" prior to RA 8436 and that one who files to meet the early deadline "will still not be
considered as a candidate."4 (Emphasis supplied)
SENATOR GONZALES. How about prohibition against campaigning or doing partisan acts
which apply immediately upon being a candidate? Congress wanted to insure that no person filing a certificate of candidacy under the early
deadline required by the automated election system would be disqualified or penalized for any
partisan political act done before the start of the campaign period. Thus, in enacting RA 9369,
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. TANJUATCO). Again, since the intention of this provision is just to
Congress expressly wrote the Lanot doctrine into the second sentence, third paragraph of the
afford the Comelec enough time to print the ballots, this provision does not intend to change
amended Section 15 of RA 8436, thus:
the campaign periods as presently, or rather election periods as presently fixed by existing
law.
xxx
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (SEN. FERNAN). So, it should be subject to the other prohibition.
For this purpose, the Commission shall set the deadline for the filing of certificate of
candidacy/petition for registration/manifestation to participate in the election. Any person who
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. TANJUATCO). That’s right.
files his certificate of candidacy within this period shall only be considered as a candidate at
the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy: Provided, That,
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (SEN. FERNAN). Okay. unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the
aforesaid campaign period: Provided, finally, That any person holding a public appointive
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. TANJUATCO). In other words, actually, there would be no conflict office or position, including active members of the armed forces, and officers and employees
anymore because we are talking about the 120-day period before election as the last day of in government-owned or -controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from
filing a certificate of candidacy, election period starts 120 days also. So that is election period his/her office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of the filing of his/her certificate
already. But he will still not be considered as a candidate. of candidacy. (Boldfacing and underlining supplied)

Thus, because of the early deadline of 2 January 2004 for purposes of printing of official Congress elevated the Lanot doctrine into a statute by specifically inserting it as the second
ballots, Eusebio filed his certificate of candidacy on 29 December 2003. Congress, however, sentence of the third paragraph of the amended Section 15 of RA 8436, which cannot be
never intended the filing of a certificate of candidacy before 2 January 2004 to make the annulled by this Court except on the sole ground of its unconstitutionality. The Decision cannot
person filing to become immediately a "candidate" for purposes other than the printing of reverse Lanot without repealing this second sentence, because to reverse Lanot would mean
ballots. This legislative intent prevents the immediate application of Section 80 of the Omnibus repealing this second sentence.
Election Code to those filing to meet the early deadline. The clear intention of Congress was
to preserve the "election periods as x x x fixed by existing law" prior to RA 8436 and that one The assailed Decision, however, in reversing Lanot does not claim that this second sentence
who files to meet the early deadline "will still not be considered as a candidate." 3 (Emphasis in or any portion of Section 15 of RA 8436, as amended by RA 9369, is unconstitutional. In fact,
the original) the Decision considers the entire Section 15 good law. Thus, the Decision is self-contradictory
— reversing Lanot but maintaining the constitutionality of the second sentence, which
embodies the Lanot doctrine. In so doing, the Decision is irreconcilably in conflict with the
clear intent and letter of the second sentence, third paragraph, Section 15 of RA 8436, as 29 March 2009 only for purposes of printing the ballots. On 29 March 2007, the law still did not
amended by RA 9369. consider Penera a candidate for purposes other than the printing of ballots. Acts committed by
Penera prior to 30 March 2007, the date when she became a "candidate," even if constituting
In enacting RA 9369, Congress even further clarified the first proviso in the third paragraph of election campaigning or partisan political activities, are not punishable under Section 80 of the
Section 15 of RA 8436. The original provision in RA 8436 states — Omnibus Election Code. Such acts are within the realm of a citizen’s protected freedom of
expression. Acts committed by Penera within the campaign period are not covered by Section
80 as Section 80 punishes only acts outside the campaign period. 5
x x x Provided, further, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take
effect upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period, x x x.
The assailed Decision gives a specious reason in explaining away the first proviso in the third
paragraph, the amended Section 15 of RA 8436 that election offenses applicable to
In RA 9369, Congress inserted the word "only" so that the first proviso now reads —
candidates take effect only upon the start of the campaign period. The Decision states that:
x x x Provided, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect
x x x [T]he line in Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8436, as amended, which provides that "any
only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
unlawful act or omission applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the
campaign period," does not mean that the acts constituting premature campaigning can only
Thus, Congress not only reiterated but also strengthened its mandatory directive that election be committed, for which the offender may be disqualified, during the campaign period.
offenses can be committed by a candidate "only" upon the start of the campaign period. This Contrary to the pronouncement in the dissent, nowhere in said proviso was it stated that
clearly means that before the start of the campaign period, such election offenses cannot be campaigning before the start of the campaign period is lawful, such that the offender may
so committed. freely carry out the same with impunity.

When the applicable provisions of RA 8436, as amended by RA 9369, are read together, As previously established, a person, after filing his/her COC but prior to his/her becoming a
these provisions of law do not consider Penera a candidate for purposes other than the candidate (thus, prior to the start of the campaign period), can already commit the acts
printing of ballots, until the start of the campaign period. There is absolutely no room for any described under Section 79(b) of the Omnibus Election Code as election campaign or partisan
other interpretation. political activity, However, only after said person officially becomes a candidate, at the
beginning of the campaign period, can said acts be given effect as premature campaigning
We quote with approval the Dissenting Opinion of Justice Antonio T. Carpio: under Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code. Only after said person officially becomes a
candidate, at the start of the campaign period, can his/her disqualification be sought for acts
x x x The definition of a "candidate" in Section 79(a) of the Omnibus Election Code should be constituting premature campaigning. Obviously, it is only at the start of the campaign period,
read together with the amended Section 15 of RA 8436. A "‘candidate’ refers to any person when the person officially becomes a candidate, that the undue and iniquitous advantages of
aspiring for or seeking an elective public office, who has filed a certificate of candidacy by his/her prior acts, constituting premature campaigning, shall accrue to his/her benefit.
himself or through an accredited political party, aggroupment or coalition of parties." However, Compared to the other candidates who are only about to begin their election campaign, a
it is no longer enough to merely file a certificate of candidacy for a person to be considered a candidate who had previously engaged in premature campaigning already enjoys an unfair
candidate because "any person who files his certificate of candidacy within [the filing] period headstart in promoting his/her candidacy.6(Emphasis supplied)
shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his
certificate of candidacy." Any person may thus file a certificate of candidacy on any day within It is a basic principle of law that any act is lawful unless expressly declared unlawful by law.
the prescribed period for filing a certificate of candidacy yet that person shall be considered a This is specially true to expression or speech, which Congress cannot outlaw except on very
candidate, for purposes of determining one’s possible violations of election laws, only during narrow grounds involving clear, present and imminent danger to the State. The mere fact that
the campaign period. Indeed, there is no "election campaign" or "partisan political activity" the law does not declare an act unlawful ipso facto means that the act is lawful. Thus, there is
designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to public no need for Congress to declare in Section 15 of RA 8436, as amended by RA 9369, that
office simply because there is no "candidate" to speak of prior to the start of the campaign political partisan activities before the start of the campaign period are lawful. It is sufficient for
period. Therefore, despite the filing of her certificate of candidacy, the law does not consider Congress to state that "any unlawful act or omission applicable to a candidate shall take effect
Penera a candidate at the time of the questioned motorcade which was conducted a day only upon the start of the campaign period." The only inescapable and logical result is that the
before the start of the campaign period. x x x same acts, if done before the start of the campaign period, are lawful.

The campaign period for local officials began on 30 March 2007 and ended on 12 May 2007.
Penera filed her certificate of candidacy on 29 March 2007. Penera was thus a candidate on
In layman’s language, this means that a candidate is liable for an election offense only for acts ANTONIO T. CARPIO
done during the campaign period, not before. The law is clear as daylight — any election Associate Justice
offense that may be committed by a candidate under any election law cannot be committed
before the start of the campaign period. In ruling that Penera is liable for premature
campaigning for partisan political acts before the start of the campaigning, the assailed
Decision ignores the clear and express provision of the law.

The Decision rationalizes that a candidate who commits premature campaigning can be
disqualified or prosecuted only after the start of the campaign period. This is not what the law
says. What the law says is "any unlawful act or omission applicable to a candidate shall take
effect only upon the start of the campaign period." The plain meaning of this provision is that
the effective date when partisan political acts become unlawful as to a candidate is when the
campaign period starts. Before the start of the campaign period, the same partisan political
acts are lawful.

The law does not state, as the assailed Decision asserts, that partisan political acts done by a
candidate before the campaign period are unlawful, but may be prosecuted only upon the start
of the campaign period. Neither does the law state that partisan political acts done by a
candidate before the campaign period are temporarily lawful, but becomes unlawful upon the
start of the campaign period. This is clearly not the language of the law. Besides, such a law
as envisioned in the Decision, which defines a criminal act and curtails freedom of expression
and speech, would be void for vagueness.

Congress has laid down the law — a candidate is liable for election offenses only upon the
start of the campaign period. This Court has no power to ignore the clear and express
mandate of the law that "any person who files his certificate of candidacy within [the filing]
period shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he
filed his certificate of candidacy." Neither can this Court turn a blind eye to the express and
clear language of the law that "any unlawful act or omission applicable to a candidate shall
take effect only upon the start of the campaign period."

The forum for examining the wisdom of the law, and enacting remedial measures, is not this
Court but the Legislature. This Court has no recourse but to apply a law that is as clear,
concise and express as the second sentence, and its immediately succeeding proviso, as
written in the third paragraph of Section 15 of RA 8436, as amended by RA 9369.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT petitioner Rosalinda A. Penera’s Motion for Reconsideration. We


SET ASIDE the Decision of this Court in G.R. No. 181613 promulgated on 11 September
2009, as well as the Resolutions dated 24 July 2007 and 30 January 2008 of the COMELEC
Second Division and the COMELEC En Banc, respectively, in SPA No. 07-224. Rosalinda A.
Penera shall continue as Mayor of Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte.

SO ORDERED.
upon in an initiative, referendum or plebiscite. Under each position, the names of candidates
shall be arranged alphabetically by surname and uniformly printed using the same type size. A
fixed space where the chairman of the Board of Election inspectors shall affix his/her
signature to authenticate the official ballot shall be provided.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT Both sides of the ballots may be used when necessary.
Manila
For this purpose, the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy/petition for
EN BANC registration/manifestation to participate in the election shall not be later than one hundred
twenty (120) days before the elections: - Provided, That, any elective official, whether national
or local, running for any office other than the one which he/she is holding in a permanent
G.R. No. 189698 December 1, 2009
capacity, except for president and vice president, shall be deemed resigned only upon the
start of the campaign period corresponding to the position for which he/she is running:
ELEAZAR P. QUINTO and GERINO A. TOLENTINO, JR., Petitioners, Provided, further, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect
vs. upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period: Provided, finally, That, for purposes of the
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondent. May 11, 1998 elections, the deadline for filing of the certificate of candidacy for the positions of
President, Vice President, Senators and candidates under the Party-List System as well as
DECISION petitions for registration and/or manifestation to participate in the Party-List System shall be on
February 9, 1998 while the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy for other positions
NACHURA, J.: shall be on March 27, 1998.

In our predisposition to discover the "original intent" of a statute, courts become the unfeeling The official ballots shall be printed by the National Printing Office and/or the Bangko Sentral
pillars of the status quo. Little do we realize that statutes or even constitutions are bundles of ng Pilipinas at the price comparable with that of private printers under proper security
compromises thrown our way by their framers. Unless we exercise vigilance, the statute may measures which the Commission shall adopt. The Commission may contract the services of
already be out of tune and irrelevant to our day.1 It is in this light that we should address the private printers upon certification by the National Printing Office/Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
instant case. that it cannot meet the printing requirements. Accredited political parties and deputized
citizens' arms of the Commission may assign watchers in the printing, storage and distribution
Before the Court is a petition for prohibition and certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of a of official ballots.
temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction, assailing Section 4(a) of
Resolution No. 8678 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). In view of pressing To prevent the use of fake ballots, the Commission through the Committee shall ensure that
contemporary events, the petition begs for immediate resolution. the serial number on the ballot stub shall be printed in magnetic ink that shall be easily
detectable by inexpensive hardware and shall be impossible to reproduce on a photocopying
The Antecedents machine and that identification marks, magnetic strips, bar codes and other technical and
security markings, are provided on the ballot.
This controversy actually stems from the law authorizing the COMELEC to use an automated
election system (AES). The official ballots shall be printed and distributed to each city/municipality at the rate of one
(1) ballot for every registered voter with a provision of additional four (4) ballots per precinct. 2
On December 22, 1997, Congress enacted Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8436, entitled "AN ACT
AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS TO USE AN AUTOMATED ELECTION Almost a decade thereafter, Congress amended the law on January 23, 2007 by enacting R.A.
SYSTEM IN THE MAY 11, 1998 NATIONAL OR LOCAL ELECTIONS AND IN SUBSEQUENT No. 9369, entitled "AN ACT AMENDING REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8436, ENTITLED "AN ACT
NATIONAL AND LOCAL ELECTORAL EXERCISES, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR AND AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS TO USE AN AUTOMATED ELECTION
FOR OTHER PURPOSES." Section 11 thereof reads: SYSTEM IN THE MAY 11, 1998 NATIONAL OR LOCAL ELECTIONS AND IN SUBSEQUENT
NATIONAL AND LOCAL ELECTORAL EXERCISES, TO ENCOURAGE TRANSPARENCY,
CREDIBILITY, FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY OF ELECTIONS, AMENDING FOR THE
SEC. 11. Official Ballot.- The Commission shall prescribe the size and form of the official ballot
PURPOSE BATAS PAMPANSA BLG. 881, AS AMEMDED, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7166 AND
which shall contain the titles of the positions to be filled and/or the propositions to be voted
OTHER RELATED ELECTION LAWS, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER To prevent the use of fake ballots, the Commission through the Committee shall ensure that
PURPOSES." Section 13 of the amendatory law modified Section 11 of R.A. No. 8436, thus: the necessary safeguards, such as, but not limited to, bar codes, holograms, color shifting ink,
microprinting, are provided on the ballot.
SEC. 13. Section 11 of Republic Act No. 8436 is hereby amended to read as follows:
The official ballots shall be printed and distributed to each city/municipality at the rate of one
Section 15. Official Ballot.- The Commission shall prescribe the format of the electronic ballot for every registered voter with a provision of additional three ballots per precinct. 3
display and/or the size and form of the official ballot, which shall contain the titles of the
position to be filled and/or the propositions to be voted upon in an initiative, referendum or Pursuant to its constitutional mandate to enforce and administer election laws, COMELEC
plebiscite. Where practicable, electronic displays must be constructed to present the names of issued Resolution No. 8678,4 the Guidelines on the Filing of Certificates of Candidacy (CoC)
all candidates for the same position in the same page or screen, otherwise, the electronic and Nomination of Official Candidates of Registered Political Parties in Connection with the
displays must be constructed to present the entire ballot to the voter, in a series of sequential May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections. Sections 4 and 5 of Resolution No. 8678 provide:
pages, and to ensure that the voter sees all of the ballot options on all pages before
completing his or her vote and to allow the voter to review and change all ballot choices prior SEC. 4. Effects of Filing Certificates of Candidacy.- a) Any person holding a public appointive
to completing and casting his or her ballot. Under each position to be filled, the names of office or position including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other
candidates shall be arranged alphabetically by surname and uniformly indicated using the officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be considered
same type size. The maiden or married name shall be listed in the official ballot, as preferred ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy.
by the female candidate. Under each proposition to be vote upon, the choices should be
uniformly indicated using the same font and size. b) Any person holding an elective office or position shall not be considered resigned upon the
filing of his certificate of candidacy for the same or any other elective office or position.
A fixed space where the chairman of the board of election inspectors shall affix his/her
signature to authenticate the official ballot shall be provided. SEC. 5. Period for filing Certificate of Candidacy.- The certificate of candidacy shall be filed on
regular days, from November 20 to 30, 2009, during office hours, except on the last day,
For this purpose, the Commission shall set the deadline for the filing of certificate of which shall be until midnight.
candidacy/petition of registration/manifestation to participate in the election. Any person who
files his certificate of candidacy within this period shall only be considered as a candidate at Alarmed that they will be deemed ipso facto resigned from their offices the moment they file
the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy: Provided, That, their CoCs, petitioners Eleazar P. Quinto and Gerino A. Tolentino, Jr., who hold appointive
unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the positions in the government and who intend to run in the coming elections, 5 filed the instant
aforesaid campaign period: Provided, finally, That any person holding a public appointive petition for prohibition and certiorari, seeking the declaration of the afore-quoted Section 4(a)
office or position, including active members of the armed forces, and officers and employees of Resolution No. 8678 as null and void.
in government-owned or -controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from
his/her office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of the filing of his/her certificate
of candidacy. The Petitioners' Contention

Political parties may hold political conventions to nominate their official candidates within thirty Petitioners contend that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it issued the
(30) days before the start of the period for filing a certificate of candidacy. assailed Resolution. They aver that the advance filing of CoCs for the 2010 elections is
intended merely for the purpose of early printing of the official ballots in order to cope with
time limitations. Such advance filing does not automatically make the person who filed the
With respect to a paper-based election system, the official ballots shall be printed by the CoC a candidate at the moment of filing. In fact, the law considers him a candidate only at the
National Printing Office and/or the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas at the price comparable with start of the campaign period. Petitioners then assert that this being so, they should not be
that of private printers under proper security measures which the Commission shall adopt. deemed ipso facto resigned from their government offices when they file their CoCs, because
The Commission may contract the services of private printers upon certification by the at such time they are not yet treated by law as candidates. They should be considered
National Printing Office/Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that it cannot meet the printing resigned from their respective offices only at the start of the campaign period when they are,
requirements. Accredited political parties and deputized citizens' arms of the Commission by law, already considered as candidates.6
shall assign watchers in the printing, storage and distribution of official ballots.
Petitioners also contend that Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369, the basis of the assailed
COMELEC resolution, contains two conflicting provisions. These must be harmonized or
reconciled to give effect to both and to arrive at a declaration that they are not ipso facto However, petitioners raise a challenge on the constitutionality of the questioned provisions of
resigned from their positions upon the filing of their CoCs. 7 both the COMELEC resolution and the law. Given this scenario, the Court may step in and
resolve the instant petition.
Petitioners further posit that the provision considering them as ipso facto resigned from office
upon the filing of their CoCs is discriminatory and violates the equal protection clause in the The transcendental nature and paramount importance of the issues raised and the compelling
Constitution.8 state interest involved in their early resolution the period for the filing of CoCs for the 2010
elections has already started and hundreds of civil servants intending to run for elective offices
The Respondent's Arguments are to lose their employment, thereby causing imminent and irreparable damage to their
means of livelihood and, at the same time, crippling the government's manpowerfurther
dictate that the Court must, for propriety, if only from a sense of obligation, entertain the
On the procedural aspect of the petition, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),
petition so as to expedite the adjudication of all, especially the constitutional, issues.
representing respondent COMELEC, argues that petitioners have no legal standing to institute
the suit." Petitioners have not yet filed their CoCs, hence, they are not yet affected by the
assailed provision in the COMELEC resolution. The OSG further claims that the petition is In any event, the Court has ample authority to set aside errors of practice or technicalities of
premature or unripe for judicial determination." Petitioners have admitted that they are merely procedure and resolve the merits of a case. Repeatedly stressed in our prior decisions is the
planning to file their CoCs for the coming 2010 elections. Their interest in the present principle that the Rules were promulgated to provide guidelines for the orderly administration
controversy is thus merely speculative and contingent upon the filing of the same. The OSG of justice, not to shackle the hand that dispenses it. Otherwise, the courts would be consigned
likewise contends that petitioners availed of the wrong remedy. They are questioning an to being mere slaves to technical rules, deprived of their judicial discretion. 14
issuance of the COMELEC made in the exercise of the latter's rule-making power. Certiorari
under Rule 65 is then an improper remedy.9 II.

On the substantive aspect, the OSG maintains that the COMELEC did not gravely abuse its To put things in their proper perspective, it is imperative that we trace the brief history of the
discretion in phrasing Section 4(a) of Resolution No. 8678 for it merely copied what is in the assailed provision. Section 4(a) of COMELEC Resolution No. 8678 is a reproduction of the
law. The OSG, however, agrees with petitioners that there is a conflict in Section 13 of R.A. second proviso in the third paragraph of Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369, which for ready
No. 9369 that should be resolved. According to the OSG, there seems to be no basis to reference is quoted as follows:
consider appointive officials as ipso facto resigned and to require them to vacate their
positions on the same day that they file their CoCs, because they are not yet considered as For this purpose, the Commission shall set the deadline for the filing of certificate of
candidates at that time. Further, this - deemed resigned- provision existed in Batas Pambansa candidacy/petition for registration/manifestation to participate in the election. Any person who
Bilang (B.P. Blg.) 881, and no longer finds a place in our present election laws with the files his certificate of candidacy within this period shall only be considered as a candidate at
innovations brought about by the automated system. 10 the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy: Provided, That,
unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the
Our Ruling aforesaid campaign period: Provided, finally, That any person holding a public appointive
office or position, including active members of the armed forces, and officers and employees
I. in government-owned or -controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from
his/her office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of the filing of his/her certificate
of candidacy.15
At first glance, the petition suffers from an incipient procedural defect. What petitioners assail
in their petition is a resolution issued by the COMELEC in the exercise of its quasi-legislative
power. Certiorari under Rule 65, in relation to Rule 64, cannot be availed of, because it is a Notably, this proviso is not present in Section 11 of R.A. No. 8436, the law amended by R.A.
remedy to question decisions, resolutions and issuances made in the exercise of a judicial or No. 9369. The proviso was lifted from Section 66 of B.P. Blg. 881 or the Omnibus Election
quasi-judicial function.11 Prohibition is also an inappropriate remedy, because what petitioners Code (OEC) of the Philippines, which reads:
actually seek from the Court is a determination of the proper construction of a statute and a
declaration of their rights thereunder. Obviously, their petition is one for declaratory Sec. 66. Candidates holding appointive office or position.- Any person holding a public
relief,12 over which this Court does not exercise original jurisdiction.13 appointive office or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,
and officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be
considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy.
It may be recalled-in inverse chronology-that earlier, Presidential Decree No. 1296, or the Nevertheless, C.A. No. 357, or the Election Code approved on August 22, 1938, had, in its
1978 Election Code, contained a similar provision, thus' Section 22, the same verbatim provision as Section 26 of R.A. No. 180.

SECTION 29. Candidates holding appointive office or position. - Every person holding a public The earliest recorded Philippine law on the subject is Act No. 1582, or the Election Law
appointive office or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, enacted by the Philippine Commission in 1907, the last paragraph of Section 29 of which
and officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall ipso facto reads:
cease in his office or position on the date he files his certificate of candidacy. Members of the
Cabinet shall continue in the offices they presently hold notwithstanding the filing of certificate Sec. 29. Penalties upon officers.- x x x.
of candidacy, subject to the pleasure of the President of the Philippines.
No public officer shall offer himself as a candidate for election, nor shall he be eligible during
Much earlier, R.A. No. 6388, or the Election Code of 1971, likewise stated in its Section 23 the the time that he holds said public office to election, at any municipal, provincial or Assembly
following: election, except for reelection to the position which he may be holding, and no judge of the
Court of First Instance, justice of the peace, provincial fiscal, or officer or employee of the
SECTION 23. Candidates Holding Appointive Office or Position. - Every person holding a Bureau of Constabulary or of the Bureau of Education shall aid any candidate or influence in
public appointive office or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the any manner or take any part in any municipal, provincial, or Assembly election under penalty
Philippines and every officer or employee in government-owned or controlled corporations, of being deprived of his office and being disqualified to hold any public office whatever for a
shall ipso facto cease in his office or position on the date he files his certificate of candidacy: term of five years: Provided, however, That the foregoing provisions shall not be construed to
Provided, That the filing of a certificate of candidacy shall not affect whatever civil, criminal or deprive any person otherwise qualified of the right to vote at any election.
administrative liabilities which he may have incurred.
From this brief historical excursion, it may be gleaned that the second proviso in the third
Going further back in history, R.A. No. 180, or the Revised Election Code approved on June paragraph of Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369- that any person holding a public appointive office
21, 1947, also provided that or position, including active members of the armed forces, and officers, and employees in
government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from
SECTION 26. Automatic cessation of appointive officers and employees who are candidates. - his/her office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of the filing of his/her certificate
Every person holding a public appointive office or position shall ipso facto cease in his office of candidacy- traces its roots to the period of the American occupation.
or position on the date he files his certificate of candidacy.
In fact, during the deliberations of Senate Bill No. 2231, the bill later to be consolidated with
During the Commonwealth era, Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 725, entitled "AN ACT TO House Bill No. 5352 and enacted as R.A. No. 9369, Senator Richard Gordon, the principal
PROVIDE FOR THE NEXT ELECTION FOR PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE author of the bill, acknowledged that the said proviso in the proposed legislative measure is an
PHILIPPINES, SENATORS AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND old provision which was merely copied from earlier existing legislation, thus'
APPROPRIATING THE NECESSARY FUNDS THEREFOR," approved on January 5, 1946,
contained, in the last paragraph of its Section 2, the following: Senator Osmeña.- May I just opine here and perhaps obtain the opinion of the good Sponsor.-
This reads like, "ANY PERSON HOLDING [means currently] A PUBLIC APPOINTIVE
A person occupying any civil office by appointment in the government or any of its political POSITION" SHALL BE CONSIDERED IPSO FACTO RESIGNED- [which means that the
subdivisions or agencies or government-owned or controlled corporations, whether such office prohibition extends only to appointive officials] "INCLUDING ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE
by appointive or elective, shall be considered to have resigned from such office from the ARMED FORCES, OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES"- This is a prohibition, Mr. President.- This
moment of the filing of such certificate of candidacy. means if one is chairman of SSS or PDIC, he is deemed ipso facto resigned when he files his
certificate of candidacy.- Is that the intention
Significantly, however, C.A. No. 666, entitled "AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE FIRST
ELECTION FOR PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES, SENATORS, Senator Gordon.- This is really an old provision, Mr. President.
AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, UNDER THE CONSTITUTION
AND THE AMENDMENTS THEREOF," enacted without executive approval on June 22, 1941, Senator Osmeña.- It is in bold letters, so I think it was a Committee amendment.
the precursor of C.A. No. 725, only provided for automatic resignation of elective, but not
appointive, officials. Senator Gordon.- No, it has always been there.
Senator Osmeña.- I see. OF CANDIDACY WITHIN THIS PERIOD SHALL ONLY BE CONSIDERED AS A CANDIDATE
AT THE START OF THE CAMPAIGN PERIOD FOR WHICH HE FILED HIS COC." 18 The said
Senator Gordon.- I guess the intention is not to give them undue advantage, especially certain proviso seems to mitigate the situation of disadvantage afflicting appointive officials by
people. considering persons who filed their CoCs as candidates only at the start of the campaign
period, thereby, conveying the tacit intent that persons holding appointive positions will only be
considered as resigned at the start of the campaign period when they are already treated by
Senator Osmeña.- All right.16
law as candidates.
In that Senate deliberation, however, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago expressed her
Parenthetically, it may be remembered that Section 67 of the OEC and Section 11 of R.A. No.
concern over the inclusion of the said provision in the new law, given that the same would be
8436 contained a similar provision on automatic resignation of elective officials upon the filing
disadvantageous and unfair to potential candidates holding appointive positions, while it
of their CoCs for any office other than that which they hold in a permanent capacity or for
grants a consequent preferential treatment to elective officials, thus'
President or Vice-President. However, with the enactment of R.A. No. 9006, or the Fair
Election Act,19 in 2001, this provision was repealed by Section 1420 of the said act. There was,
Senator Santiago.- On page 15, line 31, I know that this is a losing cause, so I make this point thus, created a situation of obvious discrimination against appointive officials who were
more as a matter of record than of any feasible hope that it can possibly be either accepted or deemed ipso facto resigned from their offices upon the filing of their CoCs, while elective
if we come to a division of the House, it will be upheld by the majority. officials were not.

I am referring to page 15, line 21.- The proviso begins: "PROVIDED FINALLY, THAT ANY This situation was incidentally addressed by the Court in Fari᳠v. The Executive
PERSON HOLDING A PUBLIC APPOINTIVE OFFICE - SHALL BE CONSIDERED IPSO Secretary21 when it ruled that
FACTO RESIGNED FROM HIS/HER OFFICE."
Section 14 of Rep. Act No. 9006
The point that I made during the appropriate debate in the past in this Hall is that there is, for
me, no valid reason for exempting elective officials from this inhibition or disqualification
Is Not Violative of the Equal
imposed by the law.- If we are going to consider appointive officers of the government,
including AFP members and officers of government-owned and controlled corporations, or any
other member of the appointive sector of the civil service, why should it not apply to the Protection Clause of the Constitution
elective sector for, after all, even senators and congressmen are members of the civil service
as well The petitioners' contention, that the repeal of Section 67 of the Omnibus Election Code
pertaining to elective officials gives undue benefit to such officials as against the appointive
Further, it is self-serving for the Senate, or for the Congress in general, to give an exception to ones and violates the equal protection clause of the constitution, is tenuous.
itself which is not available to other similarly situated officials of government. Of course, the
answer is, the reason why we are special is that we are elected. Since we are imposing a The equal protection of the law clause in the Constitution is not absolute, but is subject to
disqualification on all other government officials except ourselves, I think, it is the better part of reasonable classification.- If the groupings are characterized by substantial distinctions that
delicadeza to inhibit ourselves as well, so that if we want to stay as senators, we wait until our make real differences, one class may be treated and regulated differently from the other. The
term expires. But if we want to run for some other elective office during our term, then we Court has explained the nature of the equal protection guarantee in this manner:
have to be considered resigned just like everybody else. That is my proposed amendment.
But if it is unacceptable to the distinguished Sponsor, because of sensitivity to the convictions The equal protection of the law clause is against undue favor and individual or class privilege,
of the rest of our colleagues, I will understand. as well as hostile discrimination or the oppression of inequality.- It is not intended to prohibit
legislation which is limited either in the object to which it is directed or by territory within which
Senator Gordon. Mr. President, I think the suggestion is well-thought of.- It is a good policy.- it is to operate.- It does not demand absolute equality among residents; it merely requires that
However, this is something that is already in the old law which was upheld by the Supreme all persons shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to
court in a recent case that the rider was not upheld and that it was valid. 17 privileges conferred and liabilities enforced.- The equal protection clause is not infringed by
legislation which applies only to those persons falling within a specified class, if it applies alike
The obvious inequality brought about by the provision on automatic resignation of appointive to all persons within such class, and reasonable grounds exist for making a distinction
civil servants must have been the reason why Senator Recto proposed the inclusion of the between those who fall within such class and those who do not.
following during the period of amendments: "ANY PERSON WHO FILES HIS CERTIFICATE
Substantial distinctions clearly exist between elective officials and appointive officials. The But before delving into the constitutional issue, we shall first address the issues on legal
former occupy their office by virtue of the mandate of the electorate. They are elected to an standing and on the existence of an actual controversy.
office for a definite term and may be removed therefrom only upon stringent conditions. On
the other hand, appointive officials hold their office by virtue of their designation thereto by an Central to the determination of locus standi is the question of whether a party has alleged
appointing authority.- Some appointive officials hold their office in a permanent capacity and such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete
are entitled to security of tenure while others serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority. adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely
depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions. 23 In this case, petitioners allege
Another substantial distinction between the two sets of officials is that under Section 55, that they will be directly affected by COMELEC Resolution No. 8678 for they intend, and they
Chapter 8, Title I, Subsection A. Civil Service Commission, Book V of the Administrative Code all have the qualifications, to run in the 2010 elections. The OSG, for its part, contends that
of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292), appointive officials, as officers and employees in the civil since petitioners have not yet filed their CoCs, they are not yet candidates; hence, they are
service, are strictly prohibited from engaging in any partisan political activity or take part in any not yet directly affected by the assailed provision in the COMELEC resolution.
election except to vote.- Under the same provision, elective officials, or officers or employees
holding political offices, are obviously expressly allowed to take part in political and electoral The Court, nevertheless, finds that, while petitioners are not yet candidates, they have the
activities. standing to raise the constitutional challenge, simply because they are qualified voters. A
restriction on candidacy, such as the challenged measure herein, affects the rights of voters to
By repealing Section 67 but retaining Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code, the legislators choose their public officials. The rights of voters and the rights of candidates do not lend
deemed it proper to treat these two classes of officials differently with respect to the effect on themselves to neat separation; laws that affect candidates always have at least some
their tenure in the office of the filing of the certificates of candidacy for any position other than theoretical, correlative effect on voters.24 The Court believes that both candidates and voters
those occupied by them.- Again, it is not within the power of the Court to pass upon or look may challenge, on grounds of equal protection, the assailed measure because of its impact on
into the wisdom of this classification. voting rights.25

Since the classification justifying Section 14 of Rep. Act No. 9006, i.e., elected officials vis-a- In any event, in recent cases, this Court has relaxed the stringent direct injury test and has
vis appointive officials, is anchored upon material and significant distinctions and all the observed a liberal policy allowing ordinary citizens, members of Congress, and civil
persons belonging under the same classification are similarly treated, the equal protection organizations to prosecute actions involving the constitutionality or validity of laws, regulations
clause of the Constitution is, thus, not infringed. 22 and rulings.26

However, it must be remembered that the Court, in Fari᳠/i>, was intently focused on the main We have also stressed in our prior decisions that the exercise by this Court of judicial power is
issue of whether the repealing clause in the Fair Election Act was a constitutionally proscribed limited to the determination and resolution of actual cases and controversies. 27 The Court, in
rider, in that it unwittingly failed to ascertain with stricter scrutiny the impact of the retention of this case, finds that an actual case or controversy exists between the petitioners and the
the provision on automatic resignation of persons holding appointive positions (Section 66) in COMELEC, the body charged with the enforcement and administration of all election laws.
the OEC, vis-୶ is the equal protection clause.- Moreover, the Court's vision in Fari᳠/i> was Petitioners have alleged in a precise manner that they would engage in the very acts that
shrouded by the fact that petitioners therein, Fari᳠et al., never posed a direct challenge to the would trigger the enforcement of the provisionthey would file their CoCs and run in the 2010
constitutionality of Section 66 of the OEC. Fari᳠et al. rather merely questioned, on elections. Given that the assailed provision provides for ipso facto resignation upon the filing
constitutional grounds, the repealing clause, or Section 14 of the Fair Election Act. The Court's of the CoC, it cannot be said that it presents only a speculative or hypothetical obstacle to
afore-quoted declaration in Fari᳠/i> may then very well be considered as an obiter dictum. petitioners' candidacy.28

III. IV.

The instant case presents a rare opportunity for the Court, in view of the constitutional Having hurdled what the OSG posed as obstacles to judicial review, the Court now delves into
challenge advanced by petitioners, once and for all, to settle the issue of whether the second the constitutional challenge.
proviso in the third paragraph of Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369, a reproduction of Section 66 of
the OEC, which, as shown above, was based on provisions dating back to the American It is noteworthy to point out that the right to run for public office touches on two fundamental
occupation, is violative of the equal protection clause. freedoms, those of expression and of association. This premise is best explained in Mancuso
v. Taft,29 viz.:
Freedom of expression guarantees to the individual the opportunity to write a letter to the local may be invited to discuss his views on radio talk shows; he may be able to secure equal time
newspaper, speak out in a public park, distribute handbills advocating radical reform, or picket on television to elaborate his campaign program; the newspapers may cover his candidacy;
an official building to seek redress of grievances. All of these activities are protected by the he may be invited to debate before various groups that had theretofore never heard of him or
First Amendment if done in a manner consistent with a narrowly defined concept of public his views. In short, the fact of candidacy opens up a variety of communicative possibilities that
order and safety. The choice of means will likely depend on the amount of time and energy the are not available to even the most diligent of picketers or the most loyal of party followers. A
individual wishes to expend and on his perception as to the most effective method of view today, that running for public office is not an interest protected by the First Amendment,
projecting his message to the public. But interest and commitment are evolving phenomena. seems to us an outlook stemming from an earlier era when public office was the preserve of
What is an effective means for protest at one point in time may not seem so effective at a later the professional and the wealthy. Consequently we hold that candidacy is both a protected
date. The dilettante who participates in a picket line may decide to devote additional time and First Amendment right and a fundamental interest. Hence any legislative classification that
resources to his expressive activity. As his commitment increases, the means of effective significantly burdens that interest must be subjected to strict equal protection review. 30
expression changes, but the expressive quality remains constant. He may decide to lead the
picket line, or to publish the newspaper. At one point in time he may decide that the most Here, petitioners' interest in running for public office, an interest protected by Sections 4 and 8
effective way to give expression to his views and to get the attention of an appropriate of Article III of the Constitution, is breached by the proviso in Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369. It is
audience is to become a candidate for public office-means generally considered among the now the opportune time for the Court to strike down the said proviso for being violative of the
most appropriate for those desiring to effect change in our governmental systems. He may equal protection clause and for being overbroad.
seek to become a candidate by filing in a general election as an independent or by seeking
the nomination of a political party. And in the latter instance, the individual's expressive activity In considering persons holding appointive positions as ipso facto resigned from their posts
has two dimensions: besides urging that his views be the views of the elected public official, upon the filing of their CoCs, but not considering as resigned all other civil servants,
he is also attempting to become a spokesman for a political party whose substantive program specifically the elective ones, the law unduly discriminates against the first class. The fact
extends beyond the particular office in question. But Cranston has said that a certain type of alone that there is substantial distinction between those who hold appointive positions and
its citizenry, the public employee, may not become a candidate and may not engage in any those occupying elective posts, does not justify such differential treatment.
campaign activity that promotes himself as a candidate for public office. Thus the city has
stifled what may be the most important expression an individual can summon, namely that
which he would be willing to effectuate, by means of concrete public action, were he to be In order that there can be valid classification so that a discriminatory governmental act may
selected by the voters. pass the constitutional norm of equal protection, it is necessary that the four (4) requisites of
valid classification be complied with, namely:
It is impossible to ignore the additional fact that the right to run for office also affects the
freedom to associate. In Williams v. Rhodes, supra, the Court used strict review to invalidate (1) It must be based upon substantial distinctions;
an Ohio election system that made it virtually impossible for third parties to secure a place on
the ballot. The Court found that the First Amendment protected the freedom to associate by (2) It must be germane to the purposes of the law;
forming and promoting a political party and that that freedom was infringed when the state
effectively denied a party access to its electoral machinery. The Cranston charter provision (3) It must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
before us also affects associational rights, albeit in a slightly different way. An individual may
decide to join or participate in an organization or political party that shares his beliefs. He may (4) It must apply equally to all members of the class.
even form a new group to forward his ideas. And at some juncture his supporters and fellow
party members may decide that he is the ideal person to carry the group's standard into the
The first requirement means that there must be real and substantial differences between the
electoral fray. To thus restrict the options available to political organization as the Cranston
classes treated differently. As illustrated in the fairly recent Mirasol v. Department of Public
charter provision has done is to limit the effectiveness of association; and the freedom to
Works and Highways,31 a real and substantial distinction exists between a motorcycle and
associate is intimately related with the concept of making expression effective. Party access to
other motor vehicles sufficient to justify its classification among those prohibited from plying
the ballot becomes less meaningful if some of those selected by party machinery to carry the
the toll ways. Not all motorized vehicles are created equal a two-wheeled vehicle is less stable
party's programs to the people are precluded from doing so because those nominees are civil
and more easily overturned than a four-wheel vehicle.
servants.

Nevertheless, the classification would still be invalid if it does not comply with the second
Whether the right to run for office is looked at from the point of view of individual expression or
requirement if it is not germane to the purpose of the law. Justice Isagani A. Cruz (Ret.), in his
associational effectiveness, wide opportunities exist for the individual who seeks public office.
treatise on constitutional law, explains,
The fact of candidacy alone may open previously closed doors of the media. The candidate
The classification, even if based on substantial distinctions, will still be invalid if it is not his certificate of candidacy would be driven by a greater impetus for excellent performance to
germane to the purpose of the law. To illustrate, the accepted difference in physical stamina show his fitness for the position aspired for.
between men and women will justify the prohibition of the latter from employment as miners or
stevedores or in other heavy and strenuous work. On the basis of this same classification, Mancuso v. Taft,35 cited above, explains that the measure on automatic resignation, which
however, the law cannot provide for a lower passing average for women in the bar restricts the rights of civil servants to run for officea right inextricably linked to their freedom of
examinations because physical strength is not the test for admission to the legal profession. expression and association, is not reasonably necessary to the satisfaction of the state
Imported cars may be taxed at a higher rate than locally assembled automobiles for the interest. Thus, in striking down a similar measure in the United States, Mancuso succinctly
protection of the national economy, but their difference in origin is no justification for treating declares'
them differently when it comes to punishing violations of traffic regulations. The source of the
vehicle has no relation to the observance of these rules. 32 In proceeding to the second stage of active equal protection review, however, we do see some
contemporary relevance of the Mitchell decision. National Ass'n of Letter Carriers, supra. In
The third requirement means that the classification must be enforced not only for the present order for the Cranston charter provision to withstand strict scrutiny, the city must show that the
but as long as the problem sought to be corrected continues to exist. And, under the last exclusion of all government employees from candidacy is necessary to achieve a compelling
requirement, the classification would be regarded as invalid if all the members of the class are state interest. And, as stated in Mitchell and other cases dealing with similar statutes, see
not treated similarly, both as to rights conferred and obligations imposed. 33 Wisconsin State Employees, supra; Broadrick, supra, government at all levels has a
substantial interest in protecting the integrity of its civil service. It is obviously conceivable that
Applying the four requisites to the instant case, the Court finds that the differential treatment of the impartial character of the civil service would be seriously jeopardized if people in positions
persons holding appointive offices as opposed to those holding elective ones is not germane of authority used their discretion to forward their electoral ambitions rather than the public
to the purposes of the law. welfare. Similarly if a public employee pressured other fellow employees to engage in corrupt
practices in return for promises of post-election reward, or if an employee invoked the power
The obvious reason for the challenged provision is to prevent the use of a governmental of the office he was seeking to extract special favors from his superiors, the civil service would
position to promote one's candidacy, or even to wield a dangerous or coercive influence on be done irreparable injury. Conversely, members of the public, fellow-employees, or
the electorate. The measure is further aimed at promoting the efficiency, integrity, and supervisors might themselves request favors from the candidate or might improperly adjust
discipline of the public service by eliminating the danger that the discharge of official duty their own official behavior towards him. Even if none of these abuses actually materialize, the
would be motivated by political considerations rather than the welfare of the public. 34 The possibility of their occurrence might seriously erode the public's confidence in its public
restriction is also justified by the proposition that the entry of civil servants to the electoral employees. For the reputation of impartiality is probably as crucial as the impartiality itself; the
arena, while still in office, could result in neglect or inefficiency in the performance of duty knowledge that a clerk in the assessor's office who is running for the local zoning board has
because they would be attending to their campaign rather than to their office work. access to confidential files which could provide pressure points for furthering his campaign is
destructive regardless of whether the clerk actually takes advantage of his opportunities. For
all of these reasons we find that the state indeed has a compelling interest in maintaining the
If we accept these as the underlying objectives of the law, then the assailed provision cannot
honesty and impartiality of its public work force.
be constitutionally rescued on the ground of valid classification. Glaringly absent is the
requisite that the classification must be germane to the purposes of the law. Indeed, whether
one holds an appointive office or an elective one, the evils sought to be prevented by the We do not, however, consider the exclusionary measure taken by Cranston-a flat prohibition
measure remain. For example, the Executive Secretary, or any Member of the Cabinet for that on office-seeking of all kinds by all kinds of public employees-as even reasonably necessary
matter, could wield the same influence as the Vice-President who at the same time is to satisfaction of this state interest. As Justice Marshall pointed out in Dunn v.
appointed to a Cabinet post (in the recent past, elected Vice-Presidents were appointed to Blumstein, [s]tatutes affecting constitutional rights must be drawn with precision. For three
take charge of national housing, social welfare development, interior and local government, sets of reasons we conclude that the Cranston charter provision pursues its objective in a far
and foreign affairs). With the fact that they both head executive offices, there is no valid too heavy-handed manner and hence must fall under the equal protection clause. First, we
justification to treat them differently when both file their CoCs for the elections. Under the think the nature of the regulation-a broad prophylactic rule-may be unnecessary to fulfillment
present state of our law, the Vice-President, in the example, running this time, let us say, for of the city's objective. Second, even granting some sort of prophylactic rule may be required,
President, retains his position during the entire election period and can still use the resources the provision here prohibits candidacies for all types of public office, including many which
of his office to support his campaign. would pose none of the problems at which the law is aimed. Third, the provision excludes the
candidacies of all types of public employees, without any attempt to limit exclusion to those
employees whose positions make them vulnerable to corruption and conflicts of interest.
As to the danger of neglect, inefficiency or partisanship in the discharge of the functions of his
appointive office, the inverse could be just as true and compelling. The public officer who files
There is thus no valid justification to treat appointive officials differently from the elective ones. The city might also promote its interest in the integrity of the civil service by enforcing, through
The classification simply fails to meet the test that it should be germane to the purposes of the dismissal, discipline, or criminal prosecution, rules or statutes that treat conflict of interests,
law. The measure encapsulated in the second proviso of the third paragraph of Section 13 of bribery, or other forms of official corruption. By thus attacking the problem directly, instead of
R.A. No. 9369 and in Section 66 of the OEC violates the equal protection clause. using a broad prophylactic rule, the city could pursue its objective without unduly burdening
the First Amendment rights of its employees and the voting rights of its citizens. Last term in
V. Dunn v. Blumstein, the Supreme Court faced an analogous question when the State of
Tennessee asserted that the interest of ballot box purity justified its imposition of one year and
three month residency requirements before a citizen could vote. Justice Marshall stated, inter
The challenged provision also suffers from the infirmity of being overbroad.
alia, that Tennessee had available a number of criminal statutes that could be used to punish
voter fraud without unnecessary infringement on the newcomer's right to vote. Similarly, it
First, the provision pertains to all civil servants holding appointive posts without distinction as appears from the record in this case that the Cranston charter contains some provisions that
to whether they occupy high positions in government or not. Certainly, a utility worker in the might be used against opportunistic public employees.
government will also be considered as ipso facto resigned once he files his CoC for the 2010
elections. This scenario is absurd for, indeed, it is unimaginable how he can use his position in
Even if some sort of prophylactic rule is necessary, we cannot say that Cranston has put much
the government to wield influence in the political world.
effort into tailoring a narrow provision that attempts to match the prohibition with the problem.
The charter forbids a Cranston public employee from running for any office, anywhere. The
While it may be admitted that most appointive officials who seek public elective office are prohibition is not limited to the local offices of Cranston, but rather extends to statewide offices
those who occupy relatively high positions in government, laws cannot be legislated for them and even to national offices. It is difficult for us to see that a public employee running for the
alone, or with them alone in mind. For the right to seek public elective office is universal, open United States Congress poses quite the same threat to the civil service as would the same
and unrestrained, subject only to the qualification standards prescribed in the Constitution and employee if he were running for a local office where the contacts and information provided by
in the laws. These qualifications are, as we all know, general and basic so as to allow the his job related directly to the position he was seeking, and hence where the potential for
widest participation of the citizenry and to give free rein for the pursuit of one's highest various abuses was greater. Nor does the Cranston charter except the public employee who
aspirations to public office. Such is the essence of democracy. works in Cranston but aspires to office in another local jurisdiction, most probably his town of
residence. Here again the charter precludes candidacies which can pose only a remote threat
Second, the provision is directed to the activity of seeking any and all public offices, whether to the civil service. Finally, the charter does not limit its prohibition to partisan office-seeking,
they be partisan or nonpartisan in character, whether they be in the national, municipal or but sterilizes also those public employees who would seek nonpartisan elective office. The
barangay level. Congress has not shown a compelling state interest to restrict the statute reviewed in Mitchell was limited to partisan political activity, and since that time other
fundamental right involved on such a sweeping scale.36 courts have found the partisan-nonpartisan distinction a material one. See Kinnear, supra;
Wisconsin State Employees, supra; Gray v. Toledo, supra. While the line between nonpartisan
Specific evils require specific treatments, not through overly broad measures that unduly and partisan can often be blurred by systems whose true characters are disguised by the
restrict guaranteed freedoms of the citizenry. After all, sovereignty resides in the people, and names given them by their architects, it seems clear that the concerns of a truly partisan office
all governmental power emanates from them. and the temptations it fosters are sufficiently different from those involved in an office removed
from regular party politics to warrant distinctive treatment in a charter of this sort.
Mancuso v. Taft,37 on this point, instructs
The third and last area of excessive and overinclusive coverage of the Cranston charter
As to approaches less restrictive than a prophylactic rule, there exists the device of the leave relates not to the type of office sought, but to the type of employee seeking the office. As
of absence. Some system of leaves of absence would permit the public employee to take time Justice Douglas pointed out in his dissent in Mitchell, 330 U.S. at 120-126, 67 S.Ct.
off to pursue his candidacy while assuring him his old job should his candidacy be 556, restrictions on administrative employees who either participate in decision-making or at
unsuccessful. Moreover, a leave of absence policy would eliminate many of the opportunities least have some access to information concerning policy matters are much more justifiable
for engaging in the questionable practices that the statute is designed to prevent. While than restrictions on industrial employees, who, but for the fact that the government owns the
campaigning, the candidate would feel no conflict between his desire for election and his plant they work in, are, for purposes of access to official information, identically situated to all
publicly entrusted discretion, nor any conflict between his efforts to persuade the public and other industrial workers. Thus, a worker in the Philadelphia mint could be distinguished from a
his access to confidential documents. But instead of adopting a reasonable leave of absence secretary in an office of the Department of Agriculture; so also could a janitor in the public
policy, Cranston has chosen a provision that makes the public employee cast off the security schools of Cranston be distinguished from an assistant comptroller of the same city. A second
of hard-won public employment should he desire to compete for elected office. line of distinction that focuses on the type of employee is illustrated by the cases
of Kinnear and Minielly, supra. In both of these cases a civil service deputy decided to run for
the elected office of sheriff. The courts in both cases felt that the no-candidacy laws in ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
question were much too broad and indicated that perhaps the only situation sensitive enough Associate Justice
to justify a flat rule was one in which an inferior in a public office electorally challenged his
immediate superior. Given all these considerations, we think Cranston has not given adequate
attention to the problem of narrowing the terms of its charter to deal with the specific kinds of
conflict-of-interest problems it seeks to avoid.

We also do not find convincing the arguments that after-hours campaigning will drain the
energy of the public employee to the extent that he is incapable of performing his job
effectively and that inevitable on-the-job campaigning and discussion of his candidacy will
disrupt the work of others. Although it is indisputable that the city has a compelling interest in
the performance of official work, the exclusion is not well-tailored to effectuate that interest.
Presumably the city could fire the individual if he clearly shirks his employment responsibilities
or disrupts the work of others. Also, the efficiency rationale common to both arguments is
significantly underinclusive. It applies equally well to a number of non-political, extracurricular
activities that are not prohibited by the Cranston charter. Finally, the connection between after-
hours campaigning and the state interest seems tenuous; in many cases a public employee
would be able to campaign aggressively and still continue to do his job well. 38

Incidentally, Clements v. Fashing39 sustained as constitutional a provision on the automatic


resignation of District Clerks, County Clerks, County Judges, County Treasurers, Criminal
District Attorneys, County Surveyors, Inspectors of Hides and Animals, County
Commissioners, Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, Assessors and Collectors of Taxes, District
Attorneys, County Attorneys, Public Weighers, and Constables if they announce their
candidacy or if they become candidates in any general, special or primary election.

In Clements, it may be readily observed that a provision treating differently particular officials,
as distinguished from all others, under a classification that is germane to the purposes of the
law, merits the stamp of approval from American courts. Not, however, a general and
sweeping provision, and more so one violative of the second requisite for a valid classification,
which is on its face unconstitutional.

On a final note, it may not be amiss to state that the Americans, from whom we copied the
provision in question, had already stricken down a similar measure for being unconstitutional.
It is high-time that we, too, should follow suit and, thus, uphold fundamental liberties over age-
old, but barren, restrictions to such freedoms.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The second proviso in the
third paragraph of Section 13 of Republic Act No. 9369, Section 66 of the Omnibus Election
Code and Section 4(a) of COMELEC Resolution No. 8678 are declared as
UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

SO ORDERED.
Judgment5 issued by the Electoral Contests and Adjudication Department (ECAD) of the
Commission in the said case.

The relevant facts and proceedings follow.

After the creation of Shariff Kabunsuan,6 the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), on November 22, 2006, passed Autonomy Act No. 205 7 creating
the Municipality of Northern Kabuntalan in Shariff Kabunsuan. This new municipality was
constituted by separating Barangays Balong, Damatog, Gayonga, Guiawa, Indatuan,
Republic of the Philippines
Kapinpilan, P. Labio, Libungan, Montay, Sabaken and Tumaguinting from the Municipality of
SUPREME COURT
Kabuntalan.8
Manila

Mike A. Fermin, the petitioner in both cases, was a registered voter of Barangay Payan,
EN BANC
Kabuntalan. On December 13, 2006, claiming that he had been a resident
of Barangay Indatuan for 1 year and 6 months, petitioner applied with the COMELEC for the
G.R. No. 179695 December 18, 2008 transfer of his registration record to the said barangay.9 In the meantime, the creation of North
Kabuntalan was ratified in a plebiscite on December 30, 2006, 10 formally
MIKE A. FERMIN, petitioner, making Barangay Indatuan a component of Northern Kabuntalan.
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and UMBRA RAMIL BAYAM Thereafter, on January 8, 2007, the COMELEC approved petitioner's application for the
DILANGALEN, respondents. transfer of his voting record and registration as a voter to Precinct 21A of Barangay Indatuan,
Northern Kabuntalan.11 On March 29, 2007, Fermin filed his Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) for
G.R. No. 182369 December 18, 2008 mayor of Northern Kabuntalan in the May 14, 2007 National and Local Elections. 12

MIKE A. FERMIN, petitioner, On April 20, 2007, private respondent Umbra Ramil Bayam Dilangalen, another mayoralty
vs. candidate, filed a Petition13 for Disqualification [the Dilangalen petition] against Fermin,
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and UMBRA RAMIL BAYAM docketed as SPA (PES) No. A07-003 [re-docketed as SPA No. 07-372 before the COMELEC]
DILANGALEN, respondents. with the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor of Shariff Kabunsuan. The petition alleged
that the petitioner did not possess the period of residency required for candidacy and that he
DECISION perjured himself in his CoC and in his application for transfer of voting record. The pertinent
portions of the petition follow:
NACHURA, J. :
1. THE PETITIONER is of legal age, a registered voter, resident and incumbent
These consolidated petitions provide a welcome avenue for the Court to dichotomize, once Municipal Mayor of the Municipality of Northern Kabuntalan, holding office
and for all, two popular remedies to prevent a candidate from running for an elective position at Barangay Paulino Labio in the Municipality of Northern Kabuntalan where he may
which are indiscriminately interchanged by the Bench and the Bar, adding confusion to the be served summons and other legal processes.
already difficult state of our jurisprudence on election laws.
2. THE PETITIONER is a candidate for election as Mayor in the same Municipality
For the Court’s resolution are two petitions for certiorari under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of of Northern Kabuntalan, being a resident of and domiciled in the Municipality since
the Rules of Court: (1) G.R. No. 179695, which assails the June 29, 2007 Resolution 1 of the birth. The Respondent is also a candidate for the same office, Mayor in the same
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) 2ndDivision in SPA No. 07-372, and the September 20, Municipality of Northern Kabuntalan. He is, however, not a resident of the
2007 Resolution2 of the COMELEC En Banc affirming the said division resolution; and (2) Municipality.
G.R. No. 182369, which challenges the February 14, 2008 Resolution 3 of the COMELEC
1st Division in SPR No. 45-2007, the March 13, 2008 Order 4 of the COMELEC En 3. THE RESPONDENT perjured himself when he swore to the truth of his statement
Banc denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, and the March 26, 2008 Entry of in his Certificate of Candidacy of being a resident of the Municipality for the last 38
years, when in truth and in fact he simply transferred his registration from the A.
Municipality of Kabuntalan on 13 December 2006, wherein he stated that he has
relocated to that municipality a year and six months earlier, or no earlier than June WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITION TO DISQUALIFY PETITIONER FROM
2005. SEEKING THE MAYORALTY POST OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF NORTHERN
KABUNTALAN SHOULD BE DISMISSED FOR HAVING BEEN FILED OUT OF
4. THE RESPONDENT perjured himself when he swore to the truth of his statement TIME.
in his Certificate of Candidacy of being a resident of the Municipality for the last 38
years, when in truth and in fact he has stayed for at least 33 years B.
in Barangay Payan, Municipality [of] Kabunt[a]lan.
WHETHER OR NOT THE ONE (1) YEAR RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT AS
5. THE RESPONDENT perjured himself when he swore to the truth of his statement PROVIDED BY ART. 56, PAR. NO. 3, RULE XIII, RULES AND REGULATIONS
in his Application for Transfer that he is a resident of Barangay Indatuan on 13 IMPLEMENTING THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF THE AUTONOMOUS
December 2006, wherein he stated that he has relocated to that municipality a year REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO IS APPLICABLE TO PETITIONER, WHO
and six months earlier, or on or about June 2005, when in truth and in fact he has TRANSFERRED HIS VOTER'S REGISTRATION RECORD DUE TO CHANGE OF
never resided much less domiciled himself in Indatuan or anywhere else in the RESIDENCE FROM BARANGAY PAYAN TO BARANGAY INDATUAN IN THE
Municipality of Northern Kabuntalan earlier than 14 May 2006. SAME MUNICIPALITY OF KABUNTALAN.20

6. THE RESPONDENT perjured himself when he swore to the truth of his statement Petitioner contends that the Dilangalen petition is a petition to deny due course to or cancel a
in his Certificate of Candidacy of being a resident of the Municipality for the last 38 CoC under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC). 21 Following Republic Act (R.A.)
years, when in truth and in fact he has never resided in the Municipality, but was No. 6646, the same must be filed within 5 days from the last day for the filing of CoC, which, in
simply visiting the area whenever election is [f]ast approaching. this case, is March 30, 2007, and considering that the said petition was filed by Dilangalen
only on April 20, 2007, the same was filed out of time. The COMELEC should have then
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that, [in dismissed SPA No. 07-372 outright.22
consideration] of the Respondent not possessing the residence required for
candidacy, and having perjured himself in a number of times, the Commission Petitioner further argues that he has been a resident of Barangay Indatuan long before the
disqualify the Respondent.14 creation of Northern Kabuntalan. This change of residence prompted him to apply for the
transfer of his voter’s registration record from Barangay Payan to Barangay Indatuan.
Elections were held without any decision being rendered by the COMELEC in the said case. Moreover, the one year residency requirement under the law is not applicable to candidates
After the counting and canvassing of votes, Dilangalen emerged as the victor with 1,849 votes for elective office in a newly created municipality, because the length of residency of all its
over Fermin’s 1,640.15 The latter subsequently filed an election protest (Election Case No. inhabitants is reckoned from the effective date of its creation. 23
2007-022) with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 13 of Cotabato City.16
In his comment, private respondent counters that the petition it filed is one for disqualification
G.R. No. 179695 under Section 68 of the OEC which may be filed at any time after the last day for filing of the
CoC but not later than the candidate’s proclamation should he win in the elections. As he filed
On June 29, 2007, the COMELEC 2nd Division, in SPA No. 07-372, disqualified Fermin for not the petition on April 20, 2007, long before the proclamation of the eventual winning candidate,
being a resident of Northern Kabuntalan.17 It ruled that, based on his declaration that he is a the same was filed on time.24
resident of Barangay Payan as of April 27, 2006 in his oath of office before Datu Andal
Ampatuan, Fermin could not have been a resident of BarangayIndatuan for at least one Private respondent likewise posits that petitioner failed to comply with the one-year residency
year.18 requirement for him to be able to run for an elective office in Northern Kabuntalan. Petitioner
applied for the transfer of his voting record on December 13, 2006, and this was approved
The COMELEC En Banc, on September 20, 2007, affirmed the Division's ruling. 19 only on January 8, 2007.25

Thus, petitioner instituted G.R. No. 179695 before this Court raising the following issues: G.R. No. 182369
During the pendency of G.R. No. 179695 with the Court, Dilangalen filed, on September 27, D.
2007, with the RTC of Cotabato a motion to dismiss Election Case No. 07-022 on the ground
that Fermin had no legal standing to file the said protest, the COMELEC En Banc having Whether or not public respondent, in not uniformly observing its process in the
already affirmed his disqualification as a candidate; and this Court, in the abovementioned service of its resolution and/or order, had denied to petitioner the equal protection of
case, did not issue an order restraining the implementation of the assailed COMELEC the law.
resolutions.
E.
The RTC, however, denied this motion on September 28, 2007. On motion for
reconsideration, the trial court remained steadfast in its stand that the election protest was Whether or not the petition for certiorari and prohibition is dismissible in view of the
separate and distinct from the COMELEC proceedings, and that, unless restrained by the pendency of another action and whereby the result of the first action is
proper authority, it would continue hearing the protest. 26 determinative of the second action in any event and regardless of which party is
successful.
Assailing the RTC’s denial of his motions, Dilangalen filed a Petition for Certiorari and
Prohibition27 docketed as SPR No. 45-2007 with the COMELEC. On February 14, 2008, the F.
COMELEC 1st Division set aside the aforesaid orders of the trial court for having been issued
with grave abuse of discretion, prohibited the said court from acting on and proceeding with
the protest, and ordered it to dismiss the same.28 The COMELEC En Banc, on March 13, Whether or not there is forum shopping.
2008, denied petitioner’s motion for the reconsideration of the division’s ruling on account of
Fermin’s failure to pay the required fees. It further directed the issuance of an entry of G.
judgment in the said case.29 On March 26, 2008, the ECAD recorded the finality of the ruling in
SPR No. 45-2007 in the Book of Entries of Judgments. 30 Whether or not the public respondent, acting not in aid of its appellate jurisdiction,
has authority to issue TRO and/or Preliminary Injunction as ancillary remedy of the
These developments prompted Fermin to file another certiorari petition before this Court, original action for certiorari and prohibition.
docketed as G.R. No. 182369. In this petition, Fermin raises the following issues for our
resolution: H.

A. Whether or not public respondent has jurisdiction to divest the Court of Judge
Ibrahim of its jurisdiction on the election protest case. 31
Whether or not public respondent has departed from the accepted and usual course
of its rules of procedure, as to call for an exercise of the power of supervision by the The Court, on April 29, 2008, initially dismissed the said petition. 32 Fermin subsequently filed
Honorable Court. in succession his motions for reconsideration and for the consolidation of G.R. Nos. 179695 &
182369. Considering that the two petitions were interrelated, the Court resolved to consolidate
B. them.

Whether or not public respondent in taking cognizance of the certiorari and The Issues
prohibition not in aid of its appellate jurisdiction, acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in (sic) excess [of The primordial issues in these consolidated cases may be encapsulated, as follows:
jurisdiction].
(1) Whether or not the Dilangalen petition is one under Section 68 or Section 78 of the OEC;
C.
(2) Whether or not it was filed on time;
Whether or not public respondent, in ordering Judge Ibrahim to dismiss the election
protest case, acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of (3) Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abuse its discretion when it declared petitioner as
discretion amounting to lack or in (sic) excess of jurisdiction. not a resident of the locality for at least one year prior to the May 14, 2007 elections; and
(4) Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abuse its discretion when it ordered the dismissal of The ground raised in the Dilangalen petition is that Fermin allegedly lacked one of the
Election Case No. 07-022 on the ground that Fermin had no legal standing to file the protest. qualifications to be elected as mayor of Northern Kabuntalan, i.e., he had not established
residence in the said locality for at least one year immediately preceding the election. Failure
Our Ruling to meet the one-year residency requirement for the public office is not a ground for the
"disqualification" of a candidate under Section 68. The provision only refers to the commission
I. of prohibited acts and the possession of a permanent resident status in a foreign country as
grounds for disqualification, thus:
Pivotal in the ascertainment of the timeliness of the Dilangalen petition is its proper
SEC. 68. Disqualifications.–Any candidate who, in an action or protest in which he is
characterization.
a party is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the
Commission of having (a) given money or other material consideration to influence,
As aforesaid, petitioner, on the one hand, argues that the Dilangalen petition was filed induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions; (b)
pursuant to Section 78 of the OEC; while private respondent counters that the same is based committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; (c) spent in his election
on Section 68 of the Code. campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by this Code; (d) solicited, received
or made any contribution prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104; or (e)
After studying the said petition in detail, the Court finds that the same is in the nature of a violated any of Sections 80, 83, 85, 86 and 261, paragraphs d, e, k, v, and cc,
petition to deny due course to or cancel a CoC under Section 78 33 of the OEC. The petition subparagraph 6, shall be disqualified from continuing as a candidate, or if he has
contains the essential allegations of a "Section 78" petition, namely: (1) the candidate made a been elected, from holding the office. Any person who is a permanent resident of or
representation in his certificate; (2) the representation pertains to a material matter which an immigrant to a foreign country shall not be qualified to run for any elective office
would affect the substantive rights of the candidate (the right to run for the election for which under this Code, unless said person has waived his status as a permanent resident
he filed his certificate); and (3) the candidate made the false representation with the intention or immigrant of a foreign country in accordance with the residence requirement
to deceive the electorate as to his qualification for public office or deliberately attempted to provided for in the election laws.
mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render him ineligible. 34 It likewise
appropriately raises a question on a candidate’s eligibility for public office, in this case, his Likewise, the other provisions of law referring to "disqualification" do not include the lack of the
possession of the one-year residency requirement under the law. one-year residency qualification as a ground therefor, thus:

Lest it be misunderstood, the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not Sections 12 of the OEC
based on the lack of qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material
representation that is false, which may relate to the qualifications required of the public office
SEC. 12. Disqualifications.–Any person who has been declared by
he/she is running for. It is noted that the candidate states in his/her CoC that he/she is eligible
competent authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by
for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the OEC, therefore, is to be read in relation to
final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion, or for any offense for
the constitutional 35 and statutory 36 provisions on qualifications or eligibility for public
which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months
office. If the candidate subsequently states a material representation in the CoC that
or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a
is false, the COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to or
candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary
cancel such certificate.37 Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section
pardon or granted amnesty.
78 to a quo warranto proceeding under Section 25338 of the OEC since they both deal with the
eligibility or qualification of a candidate,39 with the distinction mainly in the fact that a "Section
78" petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition for quo warranto is filed after The disqualifications to be a candidate herein provided shall be deemed
proclamation of the wining candidate. removed upon the declaration by competent authority that said insanity or
incompetence had been removed or after the expiration of a period of five
years from his service or sentence, unless within the same period he
At this point, we must stress that a "Section 78" petition ought not to be interchanged or
again becomes disqualified.
confused with a "Section 68" petition. They are different remedies, based on different
grounds, and resulting in different eventualities. Private respondent’s insistence,
therefore, that the petition it filed before the COMELEC in SPA No. 07-372 is in the nature of a Section 40 of the Local Government Code (LGC) 40
disqualification case under Section 68, as it is in fact captioned a "Petition for Disqualification,"
does not persuade the Court.
SECTION 40. Disqualifications–The following persons are disqualified Constitution or by existing law x x x may be disqualified from continuing as a candidate," and
from running for any elective local position: COMELEC Resolution No. 780045 (Rules Delegating to COMELEC Field Officials the Authority
to Hear and Receive Evidence in Disqualification Cases Filed in Connection with the May 14,
(a) Those sentence by final judgment for an offense involving 2007 National and Local Elections), which states in Section 5(C)(1) and (3)(a)(4) that:
moral turpitude or for an offense punishable by one (1) year or
more of imprisonment, within two (2) years after serving Sec. 5. Procedure in filing petitions.–For purposes of the preceding section, the
sentence; following procedure shall be observed:

(b) Those removed from office as a result of an administrative xxxx


case;
C. PETITION TO DISQUALIFY A CANDIDATE PURSUANT TO SEC. 68 OF THE
(c) Those convicted by final judgment for violating the oath of OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE AND PETITION TO DISQUALIFY FOR LACK OF
allegiance to the Republic; QUALIFICATIONS OR POSSESSING SOME GROUNDS FOR
DISQUALIFICATION
(d) Those with dual citizenship;
1) A verified petition to disqualify a candidate pursuant to Sec. 68 of the OEC and
(e) Fugitive from justice in criminal or nonpolitical cases here or the verified petition to disqualify a candidate for lack of qualifications or possessing
abroad; some grounds for disqualification may be filed on any day after the last day for filing
of certificates of candidacy but not later than the date of proclamation.
(f) Permanent residents in a foreign country or those who have
acquired the right to reside abroad and continue to avail of the xxxx
same right after the effectivity of this Code; and
3) The petition to disqualify a candidate for lack of qualification or possessing some
(g) The insane or feeble-minded. grounds for disqualification, shall be filed in ten (10) legible copies with the
concerned office mentioned in Sec. 3 hereof, personally or through a duly
authorized representative by any person of voting age, or duly registered political
Considering that the Dilangalen petition does not state any of these grounds for
party, organization or coalition of political parties on the grounds that any candidate
disqualification, it cannot be categorized as a "Section 68" petition.
does not possess all the qualifications of a candidate as provided for by the
constitution or by existing law, or who possesses some grounds for disqualification,
To emphasize, a petition for disqualification, on the one hand, can be premised on Section 12
or 68 of the OEC, or Section 40 of the LGC. On the other hand, a petition to deny due course
3.a. Disqualification under existing election laws:
to or cancel a CoC can only be grounded on a statement of a material representation in the
said certificate that is false. The petitions also have different effects. While a person who is
disqualified under Section 68 is merely prohibited to continue as a candidate, the person 1. For not being a citizen of the Philippines;
whose certificate is cancelled or denied due course under Section 78 is not treated as a
candidate at all, as if he/she never filed a CoC. Thus, in Miranda v. Abaya,41 this Court made 2. For being a permanent resident of or an immigrant to a foreign country;
the distinction that a candidate who is disqualified under Section 68 can validly be substituted
under Section 77 of the OEC because he/she remains a candidate until disqualified; but a 3. For lack of the required age;
person whose CoC has been denied due course or cancelled under Section 78 cannot be
substituted because he/she is never considered a candidate. 42 4. For lack of residence;

In support of his claim that he actually filed a "petition for disqualification" and not a "petition to 5. For not being a registered voter;
deny due course to or cancel a CoC," Dilangalen takes refuge in Rule 25 of the COMELEC
Rules of Procedure,43 specifically Section 144 thereof, to the extent that it states, "[a]ny
candidate who does not possess all the qualifications of a candidate as provided for by the 6. For not being able to read and write;
7. In case of a party-list nominee, for not being a bona fide member of the Consequently, that an individual possesses the qualifications for a public
party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least ninety (90) office does not imply that he is not disqualified from becoming a candidate
days immediately preceding the day of the election. [Emphasis supplied.] or continuing as a candidate for a public office and vice-versa . We have this
sort of dichotomy in our Naturalization Law. (C.A. No. 473) That an alien has the
We disagree. A COMELEC rule or resolution cannot supplant or vary the legislative qualifications prescribed in §2 of the law does not imply that he does not suffer from
enactments that distinguish the grounds for disqualification from those of ineligibility, and the any of [the] disqualifications provided in §4.
appropriate proceedings to raise the said grounds. In other words, Rule 25 and COMELEC
Resolution No. 7800 cannot supersede the dissimilar requirements of the law for the filing of a Indeed, provisions for disqualifications on the ground that the candidate is guilty of
petition for disqualification under Section 68, and a petition for the denial of due course to or prohibited election practices or offenses, like other pre-proclamation remedies, are
cancellation of CoC under Section 78 of the OEC.46 As aptly observed by the eminent aimed at the detestable practice of "grabbing the proclamation and prolonging the
constitutionalist, Supreme Court Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, in his separate opinion election protest," through the use of "manufactured" election returns or resort to
in Romualdez-Marcos v. Commission on Elections:47 other trickery for the purpose of altering the results of the election. This rationale
does not apply to cases for determining a candidate’s qualifications for office before
Apparently realizing the lack of an authorized proceeding for declaring the the election. To the contrary, it is the candidate against whom a proceeding for
ineligibility of candidates, the COMELEC amended its rules on February 15, 1993 so disqualification is brought who could be prejudiced because he could be prevented
as to provide in Rule 25, §1 the following: from assuming office even though in the end he prevails. 48

Grounds for disqualification. – Any candidate who does not possess all the Furthermore, the procedure laid down in the said Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of
qualifications of a candidate as provided for by the Constitution or by Procedure cannot be used in "Section 78" proceedings, precisely because a different rule,
existing law or who commits any act declared by law to be grounds for Rule 23,49 specifically governs petitions to deny due course to or cancel CoCs.
disqualification may be disqualified from continuing as a candidate.
II.
The lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however,
cannot be supplied by a mere rule. Such an act is equivalent to the creation Having thus determined that the Dilangalen petition is one under Section 78 of the OEC, the
of a cause of action which is a substantive matter which the COMELEC, in Court now declares that the same has to comply with the 25-day statutory period for its
the exercise of its rule-making power under Art. IX, A, §6 of the filing. Aznar v. Commission on Elections50 and Loong v. Commission on Elections51 give
Constitution, cannot do. It is noteworthy that the Constitution withholds from the ascendancy to the express mandate of the law that "the petition may be filed at any time not
COMELEC even the power to decide cases involving the right to vote, which later than twenty-five days from the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy ."
essentially involves an inquiry into qualifications based on age, residence and Construed in relation to reglementary periods and the principles of prescription, the dismissal
citizenship of voters. [Art. IX, C, §2(3)] of "Section 78" petitions filed beyond the 25-day period must come as a matter of course.

The assimilation in Rule 25 of the COMELEC rules of grounds for We find it necessary to point out that Sections 5 and 752 of Republic Act (R.A.) No.
ineligibility into grounds for disqualification is contrary to the evident 6646,53 contrary to the erroneous arguments of both parties, did not in any way amend the
intention of the law. For not only in their grounds but also in their period for filing "Section 78" petitions. While Section 7 of the said law makes reference to
consequences are proceedings for "disqualification" different from those for Section 5 on the procedure in the conduct of cases for the denial of due course to the CoCs of
a declaration of "ineligibility." "Disqualification" proceedings, as already nuisance candidates54 (retired Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., in his dissenting opinion in
stated, are based on grounds specified in §12 and §68 of the Omnibus Aquino v. Commission on Elections55 explains that "the ‘procedure hereinabove provided’
Election Code and in §40 of the Local Government Code and are for the mentioned in Section 7 cannot be construed to refer to Section 6 which does not provide for a
purpose of barring an individual from becoming a candidate or from procedure but for the effects of disqualification cases, [but] can only refer to the procedure
continuing as a candidate for public office. In a word, their purpose is to provided in Section 5 of the said Act on nuisance candidates x x x."), the same cannot be
eliminate a candidate from the race either from the start or during its taken to mean that the 25-day period for filing "Section 78" petitions under the OEC is
progress. "Ineligibility," on the other hand, refers to the lack of the changed to 5 days counted from the last day for the filing of CoCs. The clear language of
qualifications prescribed in the Constitution or the statutes for holding Section 78 certainly cannot be amended or modified by the mere reference in a subsequent
public office and the purpose of the proceedings for declaration of statute to the use of a procedure specifically intended for another type of action. Cardinal is
ineligibility is to remove the incumbent from office. the rule in statutory construction that repeals by implication are disfavored and will not be so
declared by the Court unless the intent of the legislators is manifest. 56In addition, it is office subscribed and sworn to before Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, in which petitioner
noteworthy that Loong,57 which upheld the 25-day period for filing "Section 78" petitions, was indicated that he was a resident of Barangay Payan, Kabuntalan as of April 27, 2006.
decided long after the enactment of R.A. 6646. In this regard, we therefore find as contrary to However, this single piece of evidence does not necessarily support a finding that petitioner
the unequivocal mandate of the law, Rule 23, Section 2 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure was not a resident of Northern Kabuntalan as of May 14, 2006, or one year prior to the May
which states: 14, 2007 elections.61 Petitioner merely admitted that he was a resident of another locality as of
April 27, 2006, which was more than a year before the elections. It is not inconsistent with his
Sec. 2. Period to File Petition.–The petition must be filed within five (5) days subsequent claim that he complied with the residency requirement for the elective office, as
following the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy. petitioner could have transferred to Barangay Indatuan after April 27, 2006, on or before May
14, 2006.
As the law stands, the petition to deny due course to or cancel a CoC "may be filed at any
time not later than twenty-five days from the time of the filing of the certificate of Neither does this evidence support the allegation that petitioner failed to comply with the
candidacy." residency requirement for the transfer of his voting record from Barangay Payan
to Barangay Indatuan. Given that a voter is required to reside in the place wherein he
proposes to vote only for six months immediately preceding the election, 62 petitioner’s
Accordingly, it is necessary to determine when Fermin filed his CoC in order to ascertain
application for transfer on December 13, 2006 does not contradict his earlier admission that
whether the Dilangalen petition filed on April 20, 2007 was well within the restrictive 25-day
he was a resident of Barangay Payan as of April 27, 2006. Be that as it may, the issue
period. If it was not, then the COMELEC should have, as discussed above, dismissed the
involved in the Dilangalen petition is whether or not petitioner made a material representation
petition outright.
that is false in his CoC, and not in his application for the transfer of his registration and voting
record.
The record in these cases reveals that Fermin filed his CoC for mayor of Northern Kabuntalan
for the May 14, 2007 National and Local Elections on March 29, 2007.58 It is clear therefore
The foregoing considered, the Court finds that the Dilangalen petition does not make out
that the petition to deny due course to or cancel Fermin’s CoC was filed by Dilangalen well
a prima facie case. Its dismissal is therefore warranted. We emphasize that the mere filing of
within the 25-day reglementary period. The COMELEC therefore did not abuse its discretion,
a petition and the convenient allegation therein that a candidate does not reside in the locality
much more gravely, when it did not dismiss the petition outright.
where he seeks to be elected is insufficient to effect the cancellation of his CoC. Convincing
evidence must substantiate every allegation.63 A litigating party is said to have a prima
III. facie case when the evidence in his favor is sufficiently strong for his opponent to be called on
to answer it. A prima facie case, then, is one which is established by sufficient evidence and
However, the Court finds the COMELEC to have gravely abused its discretion when it can be overthrown only by rebutting evidence adduced on the other side. 64
precipitately declared that Fermin was not a resident of Northern Kabuntalan for at least one
year prior to the said elections. IV.

In its assailed June 29, 2007 Resolution, 59 the COMELEC ruled as follows: In light of the foregoing disquisition, the COMELEC’s order for the dismissal of Fermin’s
election protest is tainted with grave abuse of discretion, considering that the same is
In the petitioner’s memorandum, an authenticated copy of the respondent’s oath of premised on Fermin’s alleged lack of legal standing to file the protest, which, in turn, is based
office subscribed and sworn to before Datu Andal Ampatuan, Governor on Fermin’s alleged lack of residency qualification. With our disposition herein that the
Maguindanao Province, it was stated that respondent’s residence is Dilangalen petition should be dismissed, a disquisition that Fermin has no standing as a
at Barangay Payan, Maguindanao (sic) as of April 27, 2006. Clearly the respondent candidate would be reckless and improper.
is not a resident of Northern Kabuntalan earlier than 15 May 2006 as his very own
oath of office would reveal that he is really a resident of Barangay Payan, WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions for certiorari are GRANTED. The
Kabuntalan less than 365 days immediately preceding the May 14, 2007 elections. assailed issuances of the COMELEC are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
He is a resident of a barangay not a component of the local government unit in
which he seeks to be elected as of May 15, 2006 and is therefore not qualified or
SO ORDERED.
eligible to seek election as mayor in the said municipality.60

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Obviously, the COMELEC relied on a single piece of evidence to support its finding that
Associate Justice
petitioner was not a resident of Barangay Indatuan, Northern Kabuntalan, i.e., the oath of
fact, Mitra adduced positive evidence of transfer of residence which the private respondents’
evidence failed to sufficiently controvert. Specifically, the private respondents’ evidence failed
Republic of the Philippines to show that Mitra remained a Puerto Princesa City resident.
SUPREME COURT
Manila In this regard, we took note of the "incremental moves" Mitra undertook to establish his new
domicile in Aborlan, as evidenced by the following: (1) his expressed intent to transfer to a
EN BANC residence outside of Puerto Princesa City to make him eligible for a provincial position; (2) his
preparatory moves starting in early 2008; (3) the transfer of registration as a voter in March
2009; (4) his initial transfer through a leased dwelling at Maligaya Feedmill; (5) the purchase
G.R. No. 191938 October 19, 2010
of a lot for his permanent home; and (6) the construction of a house on the said lot which is
adjacent to the premises he was leasing pending the completion of his house. Thus, we found
ABRAHAM KAHLIL B. MITRA, Petitioner, that under the situation prevailing when Mitra filed his COC, there is no reason to infer that
vs. Mitra committed any misrepresentation, whether inadvertently or deliberately, in claiming
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ANTONIO V. GONZALES and ORLANDO R. residence in Aborlan. We also emphasized that the COMELEC could not even present any
BALBON, JR., Respondents. legally acceptable basis (as it used subjective non-legal standards in its analysis) to conclude
that Mitra’s statement in his COC concerning his residence was indeed a misrepresentation.
RESOLUTION In sum, we concluded that the evidence in the present case, carefully reviewed, showed that
Mitra indeed transfered his residence from Puerto Princesa City to Aborlan within the period
BRION, J.: required by law.

We resolve the Motion for Reconsideration1 filed by public respondent Commission on The Motions for Reconsideration
Elections (COMELEC) and the Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Oral
Arguments2 filed by private respondents Antonio V. Gonzales and Orlando R. Balbon, Jr. In its Motion for Reconsideration dated July 19, 2010, the COMELEC, through the Office of
(private respondents), dated July 19, 2010 and July 20, 2010, respectively, addressing our the Solicitor General, asks us to reconsider our July 2, 2010 Decision on the sole ground that:
Decision of July 2, 20103 (July 2, 2010 Decision or Decision). We annulled in this Decision the
February 10, 2010 and May 4, 2010 Resolutions of the COMELEC, and denied the private THIS HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN IT REVIEWED THE PROBATIVE VALUE OF
respondents’ petition to cancel the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) of petitioner Abraham THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED AND SUBSTITUTED ITS OWN FACTUAL FINDINGS OVER
Kahlil B. Mitra (Mitra). THAT OF [THE] PUBLIC RESPONDENT.4

The Assailed Ruling The COMELEC argues that we overstepped our review power over its factual findings; as a
specialized constitutional body, the findings and conclusions of the COMELEC are generally
To recall its highlights, our Decision emphasized that despite our limited certiorari jurisdiction respected and even given the status of finality. The COMELEC also contends that the Court
in election cases, we are not only obliged but are constitutionally bound to intervene when the erred in taking cognizance of the present petition since the issues raised therein are
COMELEC’s action on the appreciation and evaluation of evidence oversteps the limits of its essentially factual in nature. It claims that it is elementary that the extraordinary remedy of
discretion – in this case, a situation where resulting errors, arising from the grave abuse certiorari is limited to correcting questions of law and that the factual issues raised in the
committed by the COMELEC, mutated from being errors of judgment to errors of jurisdiction. present petition are not appropriate for a petition for review on certiorari.
Based on our evaluation of the evidence presented by both parties, we found that Mitra did
not commit any deliberate material misrepresentation in his COC. We noted, too, that the On the merits, the COMELEC submits that there is substantial, if not overwhelming, evidence
COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in its appreciation of the evidence, leading it to that Mitra is not a resident of Aborlan, Palawan. It argues that it merely took cognizance of
conclude that Mitra is not a resident of Aborlan, Palawan. We also found that the COMELEC Mitra’s purported dwelling’s "habitableness," or lack thereof, to determine the fact of
failed to critically consider whether Mitra deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform or hide residency; while Mitra may have exhibited his intention to transfer his domicile, the fact of
a fact that would otherwise render him ineligible for the position of Governor of Palawan. actual residency was lacking.

On the critical question of whether Mitra deliberately misrepresented his Aborlan residence to For their part, the private respondents raise the following errors in support of their Motion for
deceive and mislead the people of the Province of Palawan, we found that Mitra did not. In Reconsideration with Motion for Oral Arguments dated July 20, 2010, viz:
I. V.

THE MAJORITY ERRED IN EXERCISING THIS HONORABLE COURT’S LIMITED THE MAJORITY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT MITRA HAD TRANSFERRED HIS RESIDENCE
CERTIORARI JURISDICTION EVEN WHEN THE PETITION, ON ITS FACE, FAILED TO FROM HIS DOMICILE OF ORIGIN IN PUERTO PRINCESA CITY TO HIS DOMICILE OF
SHOW HOW THE COMELEC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. CHOICE IN ABORLAN, IN AN INCREMENTAL PROCESS.

II. VI.

THE MAJORITY ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE COMELEC COMMITTED GRAVE THE MAJORITY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT MITRA DID NOT COMMIT ANY DELIBERATE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION BY USING SUBJECTIVE AND NON-LEGAL STANDARDS IN MATERIAL MISREPRESENTATION IN HIS COC.
ASSESSING THE EVIDENCE SUBMITTED BY MITRA.
A.
III.
THE MATERIAL STATEMENT IN PETITIONER’S COC RESPECTING HIS
GRANTING WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT THE COMELEC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF RESIDENCE HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE FALSE. BY MAKING SUCH FALSE
DISCRETION IN ONE ASPECT OF ITS RESOLUTION, THE SUPREME COURT SHOULD STATEMENT, PETITIONER DELIBERATELY TRIED TO MISLEAD AND TO
NONETHELESS CONSIDER WHETHER THE OTHER EVIDENCE SUBMITTED ARE MISINFORM THE ELECTORATE AS TO HIS ACTUAL RESIDENCE. HENCE, HIS
ENOUGH TO SUSTAIN THE RULING OF THE COMELEC. COC WAS CORRECTLY DENIED DUE COURSE AND CANCELLED.

A. B.

THE QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE NECESSARY TO OVERTURN THE FINDINGS OF THE MAJORITY ERRED IN EXONERATING MITRA FROM THE VIOLATION OF A
FACTS OF THE COMELEC SHOULD BE CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE. MANDATORY PROVISION OF LAW WHICH ENTAILS BOTH ADMINISTRATIVE
WHEN THE EVIDENCE OF [THE] PETITIONER ARE UNSUBSTANTIATED AND AND CRIMINAL LIABILITIES BY INVOKING THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW
CONTROVERTED, THE SAME FAILS TO REACH THE QUANTUM OF PROOF WHERE SUCH RESORT IS NOT CALLED FOR IN VIEW OF THE GIVEN FACTS
NECESSARY TO SUBSTITUTE THE FINDINGS OF THE COMELEC. AND EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN THIS CASE.

IV. VII.

THE MAJORITY ERRED IN FOCUSING ON THE COMELEC’S OPINION REGARDING THE JURISPRUDENCE RELIED ON BY THE MAJORITY IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE
PHOTOGRAPHS SUBMITTED BY MITRA OF HIS SUPPOSED RESIDENCE, WHILE PRESENT CASE.
TOTALLY DISREGARDING OTHER EVIDENCE SUBMITTED BY THE PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS AND CONSIDERED BY THE COMELEC. A.

A. THE CASE OF TORAYNO V. COMELEC IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE PRESENT


CASE.
THE MAJORITY ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE EFFECTIVITY OF THE
CONTRACT OF LEASE WHICH SHOWS THAT THE SAME IS ONLY UP TO 28 B.
FEBRUARY 2010.
THE CASE OF ASISTIO V. TRINIDAD PE-AGUIRRE IS LIKEWISE NOT
B. APPLICABLE TO THE PRESENT CASE.

THE MAJORITY ERRED IN DISREGARDING EVIDENCE WHICH SHOW THAT C.


MITRA FAILED TO ABANDON HIS DOMICILE OF ORIGIN.
THE CASE OF VELASCO SHOULD BE APPLIED STRICTLY TO THE PRESENT separate rule (Rule 64) specifically applicable only to decisions of the COMELEC and the
CASE.5 Commission on Audit. This Rule expressly refers to the application of Rule 65 in the filing of a
petition for certiorari, subject to the exception clause – "except as hereinafter provided." 6
Our Ruling
In Aratuc v. Commission on Elections7 and Dario v. Mison,8 the Court construed the above-
We resolve to deny, for lack of merit, the motions for reconsideration and for oral arguments. cited constitutional provision as relating to the special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65
(although with a different reglementary period for filing) and not to an appeal by certiorari
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Thus, Section 2 of Rule 64 of the Rules of Court now
We note at the outset that the COMELEC and private respondents’ arguments are mere
clearly specifies that the mode of review is the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65,
rehashes of their previous submissions; they are the same arguments addressing the issues
except as therein provided. In Ocate v. Commission on Elections, 9 we further held that:
we already considered and passed upon in our July 2, 2010 Decision. Thus, both the
COMELEC and private respondents failed to raise any new and substantial argument meriting
reconsideration. The denial of the motion for oral arguments proceeds from this same The purpose of a petition for certiorari is to determine whether the challenged tribunal has
reasoning; mere reiterations of the parties’ original submissions on issues our Decision has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
sufficiently covered, without more, do not merit the time, effort and attention that an oral or excess of jurisdiction.1avvphi1 Thus, any resort to a petition for certiorari under Rule 64 in
argument shall require. relation to Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is limited to the resolution of
jurisdictional issues.
Having said these, we shall still proceed to discuss the aspects of the case the motions
touched upon, if only to put an end to lingering doubts on the correctness of our July 2, 2010 The COMELEC should likewise be aware that the Constitution itself, 10 in defining judicial
Decision. power, pointedly states that –

First, both the COMELEC and the private respondents posit that the Court improperly Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving
exercised its limited certiorari jurisdiction; they theorize that Mitra’s petition failed to allege and rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there
show errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC. They has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of
also stress that the Court should respect and consider the COMELEC’s findings of fact to be any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
final and non-reviewable.
This provision, more than anything else, identifies the power and duty of this Court in grave
The COMELEC’s submission in this regard – that the extraordinary remedy of certiorari is abuse of discretion situations, and differentiates this authority from the power of review by
limited to corrections of questions of law and that the factual issues raised in the present appeal that Rule 45 of the Rules of Court defines.
petition are not appropriate for a petition for review on certiorari – is wholly erroneous. This
submission appears to have confused the standards of the Court’s power of review under Based on these considerations, we cannot accept the COMELEC’s position that patently
Rule 65 and Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, leading the COMELEC to grossly misread the confuses the mode of review in election cases under Rules 64 and 65 of the Rules of Court,
import of Mitra’s petition before the Court. with the appellate review that Rule 45 of the same Rules provides.

To recall, Mitra brought his case before us via a petition for certiorari, pursuant to Section 2, We likewise reject the COMELEC and the private respondents’ proposition that the Court
Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65, of the Rules of Court. Thus, in our July 2, 2010 Decision, we erred in exercising its limited certiorari jurisdiction. Although the COMELEC is admittedly the
emphasized that our review (under the Rule 65 standard of grave abuse of discretion, and not final arbiter of all factual issues as the Constitution 11 and the Rules of Court12 provide, we
under the Rule 45 question of law standard) is based on a very limited ground, i.e., on the stress that in the presence of grave abuse of discretion, our constitutional duty is to intervene
jurisdictional issue of whether the COMELEC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or and not to shy away from intervention simply because a specialized agency has been given
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. the authority to resolve the factual issues.

The basis for the Court’s review of COMELEC rulings under the standards of Rule 65 of the As we emphasized in our Decision, we have in the past recognized exceptions to the general
Rules of Court is Section 7, Article IX-A of the Constitution which provides that "[U]nless rule that the Court ordinarily does not review in a certiorari case the COMELEC’s appreciation
otherwise provided by [the] Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each and evaluation of evidence. One such exception is when the COMELEC’s appreciation and
Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within evaluation of evidence go beyond the limits of its discretion to the point of being grossly
thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof." For this reason, the Rules of Court provide for a unreasonable. In this situation, we are duty bound under the Constitution to intervene and
correct COMELEC errors that, because of the attendant grave abuse of discretion, have location, considering the noise and pollution of being in a factory area, and that the same, in
mutated into errors of jurisdiction. fact, had been Maligaya Feed Mill’s office just a few months back, militates against Mitra’s
claim that the same has been his residence since early 2008. These information make it clear
Our Decision clearly pointed out Mitra’s submissions and arguments on grave abuse of to this Commission that this room is not a home.13
discretion, namely, that the COMELEC failed to appreciate that the case is a cancellation of a
COC proceeding and that the critical issue is the presence of deliberate false material Thus presented, the COMELEC’s requirement of what should be considered a "residence"
representation to deceive the electorate. In fact, Mitra’s petition plainly argued that the cannot but be a highly subjective one that finds no basis in law, in jurisprudence, or even in
COMELEC’s grave abuse of discretion was patent when it failed to consider that the ground to fact.
deny a COC is deliberate false representation. We completely addressed this issue and, in the
process, analyzed the reasoning in the assailed COMELEC decision. At every step, we found Third, we cannot likewise agree with the private respondents’ theory that the quantum of
that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of the evidence. evidence necessary to overturn the factual findings of the COMELEC should be clear and
convincing evidence, as it misappreciates that we nullified the COMELEC’s findings because
Second, the private respondents contend that the COMELEC did not use subjective non-legal it used the wrong considerations in arriving at its conclusions.
standards (i.e., interior decoration of the room) in arriving at its decision; it merely stated how
it perceived Mitra’s alleged residence. The private respondents additionally claim that the The private respondents fail to realize that the important considerations in the present case
quantum of evidence necessary to overturn the findings of the COMELEC should be clear and relate to questions bearing on the cancellation of the COC that they prayed for; the main
convincing evidence, which level of evidence does not obtain in the present case. critical points are the alleged deliberate misrepresentation by Mitra and the underlying
question of his residency in Aborlan, Palawan.
The assailed COMELEC ruling speaks for itself on the matter of the standards the COMELEC
used. We found that the COMELEC plainly used a subjective non-legal standard in its While it is undisputed that Mitra’s domicile of origin is Puerto Princesa City, Mitra adequately
analysis and thereby, the COMELEC used wrong considerations in arriving at the conclusion proved by substantial evidence that he transferred by incremental process to Aborlan
that Mitra’s residence at the Maligaya Feedmill is not the residence contemplated by law. beginning 2008, and concluded his transfer in early 2009. As our Decision discussed and as
repeated elsewhere in this Resolution, the private respondents failed to establish by
We reiterate that the COMELEC based its ruling that Mitra did not take up residence in sufficiently convincing evidence that Mitra did not effectively transfer, while the COMELEC not
Aborlan largely on the photographs of Mitra’s Aborlan premises; it concluded that the only grossly misread the evidence but even used the wrong considerations in appreciating the
photographed premises could not have been a residence because of its assessment of the submitted evidence.
interior design and furnishings of the room. Thus, the COMELEC Second Division’s
Resolution (which the COMELEC en banc fully supported) did not merely conclude that Mitra To convince us of their point of view, the private respondents point out that we (1) totally
does not live in the photographed premises; more than this, it ruled that these premises disregarded the other evidence they submitted, which the COMELEC, on the other hand,
cannot be considered a home or a residence, for lack of the qualities of a home that the properly considered; (2) disregarded the import of the effectivity of the lease contract, which
Second Division wanted to see. To quote: showed that it was only effective until February 28, 2010; and (3) disregarded the evidence
showing that Mitra failed to abandon his domicile of origin.
The pictures presented by Mitra of his supposed "residence" are telling. The said pictures
show a small, sparsely furnished room which is evidently unlived in and which is located on These issues are not new issues; we extensively and thoroughly considered and resolved
the second floor of a structure that appears like a factory or a warehouse. These pictures them in our July 2, 2010 Decision. At this point, we only need to address some of the private
likewise show that the "residence" appears hastily set-up, cold, and utterly devoid of any respondents’ misleading points in order to clear the air.
[personality] which would have imprinted Mitra’s personality thereto such as old family
photographs and memorabilia collected through the years. In fact, an appreciation of Mitra’s 1. The private respondents’ reliance on the expiration date of the lease contract, to
supposed "residence" raises doubts whether or not he indeed lives there. Verily, what is disprove Mitra’s claim that the room at the Maligaya Feedmill is his residence, is
lacking therein are the loving attention and details inherent in every home to make it one’s misplaced. This argument is flimsy since the contract did not provide that it was
residence. Perhaps, at most, and to this Commission’s mind, this small room could have completely and fully time-barred and was only up to February 28, 2010; it was
served as Mitra’s resting area whenever he visited the said locality but nothing more. renewable at the option of the parties. That a lease is fixed for a one-year term is a
common practice. What is important is that it is renewable at the option of the
This observation coupled with the numerous statements from former employees and parties. In the absence of any objection from the parties, the lease contract simply
customers of Maligaya Feed Mill and Farm that Mitra’s residence is located in an unsavory continues and is deemed renewed.14
2. In an attempt to show that Mitra considers himself a resident of Puerto Princesa 4. The private respondents also claim that the Court erred in ruling that Mitra did not
City, the private respondents submitted in their Motion for Reconsideration a colored commit any deliberate material misrepresentation in his COC. We likewise see no
certified true copy of Mitra’s alleged Puerto Princesa City Community Tax Certificate merit in this claim. One important point in the present case is that the private
(CTC) dated February 3, 200915 allegedly showing Mitra’s signature. To recall, we respondents failed to prove that there was deliberate material misrepresentation in
found that based on the records before us, the purported February 3, 2009 CTC did Mitra’s statement on his required residency prior to the May 10, 2010 elections.
not bear the signature of Mitra. Although the private respondents have belatedly This, as we stressed in our Decision, is a glaring gap in the private respondents’
filed this evidence, we carefully examined the recently submitted colored copy of the case:
February 3, 2009 CTC and saw no reason to reverse our finding; the "alleged
signature" appears to us to be a mere hazy "superimposition" that does not bear any We do not believe that he committed any deliberate misrepresentation given what he knew of
resemblance at all to Mitra’s signature. We, thus, stand by our ruling that the his transfer, as shown by the moves he had made to carry it out. From the evidentiary
February 3, 2009 CTC, if at all, carries very little evidentiary value. It did it not at all perspective, we hold that the evidence confirming residence in Aborlan decidedly tilts in
carry Mitra’s signature; his secretary’s positive testimony that she secured the CTC Mitra’s favor; even assuming the worst for Mitra, the evidence in his favor cannot go below the
for Mitra, without the latter’s participation and knowledge, still stands unrefuted. level of an equipoise, i.e., when weighed, Mitra’s evidence of transfer and residence in
Aborlan cannot be overcome by the respondents’ evidence that he remained a Puerto
3. The private respondents likewise belatedly submitted a Certification, dated July Princesa City resident. Under the situation prevailing when Mitra filed his COC, we cannot
17, 2010,16 from the Municipal Agriculturist of Aborlan, stating that its office does not conclude that Mitra committed any misrepresentation, much less a deliberate one, about his
have any record of the supposed pineapple plantation in Barangay Isaub, Aborlan, residence.
Palawan. This late submission was made to show that Mitra has no established
business interests in Aborlan. The Certification pertinently states: The character of Mitra’s representation before the COMELEC is an aspect of the case that the
COMELEC completely failed to consider as it focused mainly on the character of Mitra’s
This is to certify that as of this date, there is no existing records/registration in our feedmill residence. For this reason, the COMELEC was led into error – one that goes beyond
office regarding the alleged pineapple plantation in Barangay Isaub, Aborlan, an ordinary error of judgment. By failing to take into account whether there had been a
Palawan. However, the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist is on the process of deliberate misrepresentation in Mitra’s COC, the COMELEC committed the grave abuse of
gathering data on the Master list of Farmers engaged in growing High Value simply assuming that an error in the COC was necessarily a deliberate falsity in a material
Commercial Crops in Aborlan. representation. In this case, it doubly erred because there was no falsity; as the carefully
considered evidence shows, Mitra did indeed transfer his residence within the period required
This certification is issued to MR. BENJAMIN KATON a resident in Penida by Section 74 of the OEC.
Subdivision, Puerto Princesa City for whatever legal purposes may serve him best.
The respondents significantly ask us in this case to adopt the same faulty approach of using
We cannot give any evidentiary value to this submission for two reasons. First, it subjective norms, as they now argue that given his stature as a member of the prominent
was filed only on reconsideration stage and was not an evidence before us when Mitra clan of Palawan, and as a three term congressman, it is highly incredible that a small
the case was submitted for resolution. Second, even if it had not been filed late, the room in a feed mill has served as his residence since 2008.
Certification does not prove anything; it is, on its face, contradictory. On the one
hand, it categorically states that there are no existing records of any pineapple We reject this suggested approach outright for the same reason we condemned the
plantation in Barangay Isaub, Aborlan, Palawan; on the other hand, it also expressly COMELEC’s use of subjective non-legal standards. Mitra’s feed mill dwelling cannot be
states that its records are not yet complete since it is "on the process of gathering considered in isolation and separately from the circumstances of his transfer of residence,
data on the Master list of Farmers engaged in growing High Value Commercial specifically, his expressed intent to transfer to a residence outside of Puerto Princesa City to
Crops in Aborlan."17 Under what law or regulation the certifying office has the make him eligible to run for a provincial position; his preparatory moves starting in early 2008;
obligation to prepare a list of agricultural business interests in Aborlan has not even his initial transfer through a leased dwelling; the purchase of a lot for his permanent home;
been alleged. and the construction of a house in this lot that, parenthetically, is adjacent to the premises he
leased pending the completion of his house. These incremental moves do not offend reason
At the risk of repetition, we reiterate that Mitra’s business interests in Aborlan stand at all, in the way that the COMELEC’s highly subjective non-legal standards do.
undisputed in the present case. Not only was Mitra able to present photographs of
his experimental pineapple plantation; his claim of ownership was also corroborated Thus, we can only conclude, in the context of the cancellation proceeding before us, that the
by the statements of Dr. Carme Caspe, Ricardo Temple and other witnesses. respondents have not presented a convincing case sufficient to overcome Mitra’s evidence of
effective transfer to and residence in Aborlan and the validity of his representation on this concealed his non-voter status when he filed his COC. Thus, we affirmed the COMELEC’s
point in his COC, while the COMELEC could not even present any legally acceptable basis to action in cancelling his COC.
conclude that Mitra’s statement in his COC regarding his residence was a misrepresentation. 18
If there is any similarity at all in Velasco and the present case, that similarity is in the
5. The private respondents submit that the Court erred in relying on jurisprudence (Torayno, recognition in both cases of the rule of law. In Velasco, we recognized – based on the law –
Sr. v. COMELEC19 and Asistio v. Hon. Trinidad Pe-Aguirre20) not applicable to the present that a basic defect existed prior to his candidacy, leading to his disqualification and the vice-
case. They additionally argue that our ruling in Velasco v. COMELEC 21 should be applied mayor-elect’s assumption to the office. In the present case, we recognize the validity of Mitra’s
strictly to the present case. COC, again on the basis of substantive and procedural law, and no occasion arises for the
vice-governor-elect to assume the gubernatorial post.23
These submissions are wrong, as they do not consider the purposes and the specific points of
law for which we cited these cases. Torayno, Asistio and Velasco, read in their proper To summarize, both the COMELEC and private respondents have not shown, through their
perspective, fully support our findings and conclusions in this case. respective motions, sufficient reasons to compel us to modify or reverse our July 2, 2010
Decision.
While Torayno does not share the exact factual situation in the present case, we cited the
case to illustrate that it is not unknown in this jurisdiction to have a situation where a Other Developments,
candidate, due to legal developments (such as reclassification of a component city to a highly Issues and Rulings
urbanized city), is compelled to transfer residence to allow him to continue his or her public
service in another political unit that he or she cannot legally access as a candidate, without a In the course of the Court’s consideration of this case, a dissent was entered that contained its
change of residence. In the present case, as in Torayno, Mitra would not have had any legal own arguments on why our Decision of July 2, 2010 should be reversed. For a complete
obstacle to his gubernatorial bid were it not for the reclassification of Puerto Princesa City treatment and presentation of the issues raised, the arguments in the dissent and the
from a component city to a highly urbanized city. The adjustment he had to make was solely in refutation are discussed below, separately from the arguments the COMELEC and private
his residence, as he already had, as a Puerto Princesa City resident, knowledge of and respondents themselves raised.
sensitivity to the needs of the Palawan electorate.
First, the dissent asserts that our conclusion that the private respondents’ evidence
The factual antecedents of Asistio are likewise not exactly the same as the facts of the present failed to show that Mitra remained a Puerto Princesa City resident is "way off point"
case, but the Court’s treatment of the COC inaccuracies in Asistio fully supports our since the private respondents showed, as the COMELEC has found, that Mitra
conclusion that Mitra has established his Aborlan domicile. In Asistio, we held that Asistio’s could not have stayed and resided at the mezzanine portion of the Maligaya
mistake in his residency statement in his COC "is not sufficient proof that he has abandoned Feedmill located at Barangay Isaub, Aborlan, Palawan. 24 In concluding that Mitra
his domicile in Caloocan City, or that he has established residence outside of Caloocan remained to be a Puerto Princesa City resident, the dissent points to the certification
City."22In the present case, Mitra did not commit any inaccuracies in his COC. In fact, any of the Punong Barangay of Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa City attesting that Mitra
inaccuracy there may have been was committed by third persons on documents (such as the continued to reside in that barangay. The dissent also argues that the certification of
building permit, contract of sale of the Temple property, and his CTC) that do not have any the Punong Barangay of Sta. Monica, supported by the sworn statement of
bearing on his candidacy. Under these circumstances, we would apply a harsher rule to Mitra Commodore Hernandez that Mitra resides in that same barangay, deserves equal if
if we conclude that he has not established his Aborlan domicile. not greater weight than the statement of the Punong Barangay of Isaub, Aborlan;
the latter supporting statement should provide the "tilting element on the question of
Our July 2, 2010 Decision finds commonality with our ruling in Velasco in the recognition, in Mitra’s continued residency in his domicile of origin."25
both cases, of the rule of law. But as we explained in our Decision, the similarity ends there as
the facts to which the law was applied differed. We thus ruled: Second, the dissent faults us for not giving weight to the sworn statements of
Maligaya Feed Mill’s customers and former employees, who testified that Mitra did
These cases are to be distinguished from the case of Velasco v. COMELEC where the not reside at the mezzanine portion of the Feed Mill. It emphasizes the undisputed
COMELEC cancelled the COC of Velasco, a mayoralty candidate, on the basis of his point that the room at the mezzanine neither has the usual comfort room nor a
undisputed knowledge, at the time he filed his COC, that his inclusion and registration as a kitchen area. Additionally, it argues that we conveniently failed to cite any statutory
voter had been denied. His failure to register as a voter was a material fact that he had clearly standard with respect to the determination of whether Mitra’s alleged residence
withheld from the COMELEC; he knew of the denial of his application to register and yet constitutes a "residence" as defined by law.26
Third, the dissent submits that we gravely erred "in giving credence to Mitra’s Aborlan beginning 2008, concluding his transfer in early 2009. Given this proof, the burden of
gratuitous claims of business interests in Aborlan Palawan" to justify our finding that evidence lies with the private respondents to establish the contrary.
"Mitra’s transfer of residence was accomplished not in one single move but, through
an incremental process."27 It notes that Mitra failed to submit material proofs to Proof to the contrary is sadly lacking, as the dissent’s reliance on the Certification of the
prove his substantial business interests in Aborlan, Palawan, such as but not limited Punong Barangay of Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa City is misplaced. The ponencia cannot
to - "government issued permits or licenses, tax declarations, or real estate tax give full evidentiary weight to the aforementioned Certification which simply stated -
payments, property leases and proofs of commercial transactions." 28 The dissent
concludes that the suppression of material evidence, which, could directly prove the This is to CERTIFY that ABRAHAM KAHLIL B. MITRA, is a bonafide resident of
existence and ownership of the pineapple plantation should be taken against Mitra Purok El Rancho this (sic) Barangay.
who claims ownership and existence of these businesses.29
CERTIFIES FURTHER, that on February 3, 2009, he secure (sic) community tax certificate in
Fourth, the dissent argues that we erred in unduly relying on the "dubious" lease this Barangay with CTC No. 16657723.34
contract for being ante-dated. It stresses that the ponencia unreasonably gave
credence to the lease contract despite "indicators" of its invalidity, which should
have forewarned the Court that the same is not what it purports to be. 30 It also adds To be sure, a bare certification – in a disputed situation – cannot suffice to conclusively
that our justification that the lease contract by law may be impliedly renewed from establish the existence of what the certification alleged. The purported CTC, on the other
month to month lacks factual basis, since Mitra himself, in his Motion for hand, was neither signed nor thumb-marked by Mitra and, thus, bore no clear indication that it
Reconsideration dated February 13, 2010 before the COMELEC en banc, stated had been adopted and used by Mitra as his own. In our evaluation, we in fact pointedly
that "he had moved to his own new house physically residing in his newly completed emphasized that the Puerto Princesa City CTC dated February 3, 2009, if at all, carries little
home in Aborlan."31 evidentiary value in light of Lilia Camora’s (Mitra’s secretary) positive declaration that she was
the one who procured it, while Mitra’s Aborlan CTC dated March 18, 2009 carried Mitra’s own
signature. Camora fully explained the circumstances under which she secured the CTC of
Fifth, the dissent implores the Court to apply to the present case our June 15, 2010 February 3, 2009 and her statement was never disputed.
Decision in G.R. No. 192127, Mario Joel T. Reyes v. Commission on Elections and
Antonio V. Gonzales,32 where we resolved to dismiss Reyes’ petition via a minute
resolution for failure to sufficiently show that the COMELEC gravely abused its On the other hand, Commodore Hernandez’ declaration on its face did not controvert Carme
discretion in cancelling Reyes’ COC for his deliberate misrepresentation on his E. Caspe’s sworn statement which adequately proved that Mitra’s transfer to Aborlan was
transfer and establishment of a new residence in Aborlan, Palawan. accomplished, not in a single move, but through an incremental process that started in early
2008 and concluded in March 2009. Thus, we emphasized in our Decision:
Finally, the dissent submits that the mere fact that Mitra won in the May 10, 2010
gubernatorial elections cannot disregard the mandatory one-year residency A sworn statement that has no counterpart in the respondents’ evidence in so far as it
requirement to qualify as a gubernatorial candidate. It cites our ruling in Velasco v. provides details (particularly when read with the statement of Ricardo Temple) is Carme
Commission on Elections,33 where we ruled that the provisions on material Caspe’s statement on how Mitra’s transfer of residence took place. Read together, these
qualifications of elected official should always prevail over the will of the electorate statements attest that the transfer was accomplished, not in one single move but, through an
in any given locality; to rule otherwise, would be "to slowly gnaw at the rule of law." incremental process that started in early 2008 and was in place by March 2009, although the
house Mitra intended to be his permanent home was not yet then completed. 35
These arguments are addressed in the same order they are posed under the topical headings
below. The COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of the evidence and
in using wrong considerations which lead it to incorrectly conclude that Mitra is not a resident
of Aborlan and that he committed a deliberate misrepresentation in his COC.
The private respondents failed to establish by sufficiently convincing evidence that Mitra
remained a Puerto Princesa City resident.
Contrary to the dissent’s view, the sworn statements of Maligaya Feedmill’s customers and
former employees that Mitra did not and could not have resided at the mezzanine portion of
The evidence before us, properly considered and carefully reviewed, fully supports our the Feedmill cannot be given full evidentiary weight, since these statements are in nature of
conclusion that the private respondents’ evidence failed to show that Mitra remained a Puerto negative testimonies that do not deserve weight and credence in the face of contrary positive
Princesa City resident. As discussed now and in our Decision of July 2, 2010, Mitra evidence, particularly, Carme E. Caspe’s testimony, cited above, that Mitra did indeed transfer
adequately proved by substantial evidence that he transferred by incremental process to residence in a process that was accomplished, not in a single move, but through an
incremental process that started in early 2008. It is well-settled in the rules of evidence that where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain (animus
positive testimony is stronger than negative testimony.36 manendi).

Additionally, we noted in our Decision that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of Mitra’s business interests in Aborlan remain undisputed and are supported by the evidence on
discretion, as it failed to correctly appreciate that the evidence clearly pointed to fact that Mitra record.
effectively transferred his residence to Aborlan, viz:
The dissent’s view that Mitra’s business interests are not supported by the evidence on record
Specifically, it was lost on the COMELEC majority (but not on the Dissent) that Mitra made is not accurate. As discussed above and in our July 2, 2010 Decision, Mitra’s business
definite, although incremental transfer moves, as shown by the undisputed business interests interests in Aborlan stand undisputed in the present case. On the one hand, the private
he has established in Aborlan in 2008; by lease of a dwelling he established his base; by the respondents failed to present any iota of evidence to disprove Mitra’s claims that he had
purchase of a lot for his permanent home; by his transfer of registration as a voter in March significant investments in Aborlan, such as the expiremental pineapple plantation, farm,
2009; and by the construction of a house all viewed against the backdrop of a bachelor farmhouse and cock farm.
Representative who spent most of his working hours in Manila, who had a whole
congressional district to take care of, and who was establishing at the same time his On the other hand, Mitra submitted photographs41 of his experimental pineapple plantation,
significant presence in the whole Province of Palawan. 37 farm, farmhouse and cock farm to prove his business interests in Aborlan. Carme E. Caspe’s
and Ricardo Temple’s statements also corroborated Mitra’s claim that he owns the pineapple
The dissent’s observation that the ponencia conveniently failed to cite any statutory standard plantation which is located in a property near the Maligaya Feedmill. In this regard, Carme E.
with respect to the determination of whether Mitra’s alleged residence constitutes a Caspe’s sworn statement pertinently declared:
"residence" as defined by law is simply not true.38Our July 2, 2019 Decision was particularly
sensitive to the matter of standards, as we noted that the COMELEC used personal and 3. Since 2001, Congressman Mitra has been frequently visiting my farm and we
subjective standards in its assessment of Mitra’s dwelling when, in fact, the law is replete with often meet at the Maligaya Feedmill and Farm located along National Hi-way, Sitio
standards, i.e., the dwelling must be where a person permanently intends to return and to Maligaya, Barangay Isaub, Aborlan, Palawan.
remain. Thus, we held:
4. Sometime in January 2008, Congressman Mitra together with his brother Ramon
In considering the residency issue, the COMELEC practically focused solely on its B. Mitra and his Chief of Staff, Atty. Winston T. Gonzales and some of their friends
consideration of Mitra’s residence at Maligaya Feedmill, on the basis of mere photographs of started an experimental pineapple growing project in a rented farmland located near
the premises. In the COMELEC’s view (expressly voiced out by the Division and fully the Maligaya Feedmill and Farm.
concurred in by the En Banc), the Maligaya Feedmill building could not have been Mitra’s
residence because it is cold and utterly devoid of any indication of Mitra’s personality and that 5. At about the time that they started the pineapple project, Congressman Mitra and
it lacks loving attention and details inherent in every home to make it one’s residence. This Ramon Mitra would from time to time stay overnight in the residential portion of
was the main reason that the COMELEC relied upon for its conclusion. Maligaya Feedmill located along National Hi-way, Sitio Maligaya, Barangay Isaub,
Aborlan, Palawan.
Such assessment, in our view, based on the interior design and furnishings of a dwelling as
shown by and examined only through photographs, is far from reasonable; the COMELEC 6. Sometime in February 2008, inasmuch as Congressman Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra
thereby determined the fitness of a dwelling as a person’s residence based solely on very and Ramon B. Mitra would want to permanently stay in Aborlan, as Congressman
personal and subjective assessment standards when the law is replete with standards that Mitra would want to be nearer and have easier access to the entire 2st
can be used. Where a dwelling qualifies as a residence – i.e., the dwelling where a person Congressional District and as they intend to invest in a chicken layer venture in
permanently intends to return to and to remain – his or her capacity or inclination to decorate Aborlan in addition to their pineapple project, we ented onto a contract of lease
the place, or the lack of it, is immaterial.39 covering the residential portion of the Maligaya Feedmill as their residence, a
chicken layer house and a growing house for chickens. We also agreed that
To buttress our finding that the COMELEC used personal and subjective assessment Congressman Mitra has the option to purchase a portion of the Feedmill where he
standards instead of the standards prescribed by law, we cited Coquilla v. COMELEC, 40 which can erect or contruct his own house if he so desires later.
characterized the term residence as referring to "domicile" or legal residence, that is "the
place where a party actually or constructively has his permanent home, where he, no matter 7. Congressman Mitra, pursuant to our agreement, immediately renovated and
refurbished the residential part in a portion of the Feedmill and as of March 2008 he
started to occupy and reside in the said premises bringing with him some of his The dissent’s thesis – that Mitra’s allegation in his Motion for Reconsideration (dated February
personal belongings, clothes and other personal effects. 13, 2010) before the COMELEC en banc that he had already transferred to the newly
constructed house in Aborlan negates the proposition that the lease agreement is extendible
10. That in January 2009, Congressman Mitra decided to purchase a nearby from month to month - is misleading. The significance of Mitra’s statement in his Motion for
farmland located behind the Deaf School where he intends to contruct his residential Reconsideration that he had already transferred to his newly constructed house in Aborlan
house and farm. However, as he needed time to consummate the sale of the must not be read in isolation; it must be appreciated under the backdrop of Mitra’s explicit
property and to construct his house thereon, we agreed to renew the lease for intention to make Aborlan his permanent residence through an incremental transfer of
another year effective February 2, 2009 to February 28, 2010 consisting of, among residence, as evidenced by the following:
others, a residential portion of the Maligaya Feedmill.
(1) his initial transfer through the leased dwelling at the mezzanine portion of the
11. Sometime in May 2009, Congressman Mitra caused the construction of a house Maligaya Feedmill;
and established a game fowl/fighting cock farm in the lot that he purchased but he
continued to reside in the Maligaya Feedmill up to the present. 42 (2) the purchase of a lot for his permanent home; and

The photographs of the experimental pineapple plantation, farm, farmhouse and cock farm, (3) the construction of a house on this lot which is adjacent to the premises he was
coupled with the sworn statements of Carme E. Caspe and Ricardo Temple, substantially leasing pending the completion of his house.
prove the existence of Mitra’s business interests in Aborlan. Thus, Mitra’s failure to submit
permits or licenses, tax declarations, real estate tax payments and other proofs of commercial All these should of course be read with the establishment of Mitra’s business interest in
transactions does not negate the fact that he has substantial business interests in Aborlan as Aborlan and his transfer of registration as a voter.
he claims.
Reyes v. Commission on Elections is not applicable in the present case.
Incidentally, the dissent’s invocation of the adverse presumption of suppression of
evidence43 is erroneous, since it does not arise when the evidence is at the disposal of both In invoking the applicability of our June 15, 2010 ruling in Reyes v. Commission on Elections,
parties. 44 In the present case, the required proofs of commercial transactions the dissent cites the dissent cites the "explanatory note" penned by Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales
are public documents which are at the disposal of both parties; they are not solely under the recommending the dismissal of Reyes’ petition. The explanatory note states:
custody of Mitra and can be easily obtained from the municipal offices of Aborlan had the
private respondents been minded to do so. The bottom line is that no such evidence was ever
presented in this case, and none can and should be considered at this point. To successfully effect a change of domicile, one must demonstrate (1) actual removal or
change of domicile; (2) a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and
establishing a new one; and (3) definite acts which correspond with the purpose.
The validity or invalidity
Public respondent committed no grave abuse of discretion in finding that the petitioner had not
of the lease contract is not determinative of question of Mitra’s residence in Aborlan. sufficiently established a change of his domicile from Coron, Palawan, his domicile of origin, to
Aborlan, Palawan, his supposed domicile of choice, for failure to show, among others things,
Beyond the arguments raised about the invalidity of the lease contract, what is significant for (1) actual presence at Aborlan, Palawan, and (2) abandonment of his residence at Coron,
purposes of this case is the immateriality of the issue to the present case. As we emphasized Palawan. It thus correctly relied on the Court’s pronouncement in Dumpit-Michelena v. Boado
in our Decision: that without clear and positive proof of the concurrence of the requirements for a change of
domicile, the domicile of origin continues.
The validity of the lease contract, however, is not the issue before us; what concerns us is the
question of whether Mitra did indeed enter into an agreement for the lease, or strictly for the Reading Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code with the constitutional qualifications for a
use, of the Maligaya Feedmill as his residence (while his house, on the lot he bought, was Member of the House of Representatives, petitioner’s false representation in his COC
under construction) and whether he indeed resided there. The notary’s compliance with the regarding his residence, which affects his qualifications, gave cause for the COMELEC to
notarial law likewise assumes no materiality as it is a defect not imputable to Mitra; what is cancel the same.46
important is the parties’ affirmation before a notary public of the contract’s genuineness and
due execution.45
On June 15, 2010, the Court issued a Minute Resolution dismissing Reyes’ petition, which establishing his identity when he signed a Special Power of Attorney on January 12, 2009 and
states: when he signed a contract in behalf of the Palawan Provincial Government on August 10,
2009 even when he has supposedly secured another CTC from Aborlan on April 7, 2009.
The Court Resolved to DISMISS the petition for failure thereof to sufficiently show that any
grave abuse of discretion was committed by the Commission on Elections in rendering the Thus, even in August of 2009, less than a year prior to the May 10, 2010 election, respondent
challenged resolutions which, on the contrary, appear to be in accord with the facts and still portrayed himself as a resident of Coron. The intention then to abandon the said place as
applicable law and jurisprudence.47 his domicile is wanting.

This Resolution found no grave abuse of discretion and upheld the March 25, 2010 Resolution Based on the foregoing discussions alone, it is at once apparent the three-point requirements
of the COMELEC Second Division48 and May 7, 2010 Resolution of the COMELEC en for the abandonment of a domicile and the establishment of a new one do not concur in the
banc.49 In this March 25, 2010 Resolution, the COMELEC Second Division found: case of the respondent.50

An evaluation, however, of the evidence presented by the parties vis-à-vis the three Contrary to the dissent’s view, no parallelism can be drawn between this ruling and the
requirements for a successful change of domicile would show that the petitioner is correct. present case, so that this ruling cannot apply to the latter.

First, the alleged residence of respondent is a mere beach house or a lodging house with a First, the dissent’s citation of Justice Carpio-Morales’ explanatory note recommending the
roof made of pawid as shown in the Declaration of Real Property of Clara Espiritu Reyes, the dismissal of Reyes’ petition cannot be considered a precedent that should be made applicable
wife of the respondent. This description of the property is confirmed by two photographs to the present case. The explanatory note, while reflective of the Court’s thinking, is not a
attached to the Memorandum of the petitioner. By its very nature, a beach house is a mere decision nor an opinion of the Court. It remains what its description connotes – an explanatory
temporary abode, a lodging house where people stay merely as transients. It is not meant to note provided by one Justice and approved by the Court – and nothing more; what binds the
be a permanent place to live in. As the Supreme Court declared in Dumpit Michelena v. Court is its pronouncement that no grave abuse of discretion transpired in the COMELEC’s
Boado, a beach house is at most a place of temporary relaxation and it can hardly be consideration of the case. Under this legal situation, what assumes significance are the
considered a place of residence. With this kind of property, it can scarcely be said that COMELEC Resolutions that the Court effectively upheld when it issued the June 15, 2010
respondent has the intention of remaining there permanently or for an indefinite period of time. Minute Resolution dismissing Reyes’ petition.

Second, respondent has failed to show actual presence at his domicile of choice. Respondent Second, the factual circumstances in Reyes are entirely different from the present case; no
himself admitted that he goes only to Aborlan whenever he gets reprieves from work as most parallelism can be drawn so that the application of the ruling in Reyes cannot be bodily lifted
of the time he stays at Puerto Princesa City, where he also resides with his wife. His and applied to Mitra. In Reyes, the COMELEC ruled that Reyes committed a material
witnesses also confirm this saying that all Palaweños know that the office of the governor is at misrepresentation in his COC when he declared that his residence is Tigman, Aborlan,
the capitol of Puerto Princesa City, where respondent and his wife stay if there is work at the Palawan and that he is eligible for the office he seeks to be elected to. The COMELEC so
office. However, considering that Aborlan is only about an hour’s away from Puerto Princesa, concluded after it found that the evidence showed that Reyes failed to prove that (1) he had
it is odd that respondent and his wife never go home to Aborlan after office hours if he the intention to remain permanently in Aborlan since his alleged residence is a mere beach
intended to establish his domicile of choice in the said municipality. It is also unusual that house which by its very nature is a temporary place of residence as held by the Court in
respondent’s wife still stays at Puerto Princesa City while she works as manager of Palawan Dumpit Michelana v. Boado;51 2) he had actual presence at his domicile of choice; and (3) that
Agricultural and Animal Husbandy Corporation, which is based in Aborlan. This conduct is not he had already transferred from his domicile (Coron, Palawan) to Tigman, Aborlan Palawan.
indicative of an intent to establish their domicile at Aborlan. The COMELEC even found, on the matter of CTC, that Reyes consistently used his Coron
CTC in his transactions, thus negating his explanation that the CTC was procured without his
Third, respondent failed to show that he already cut his ties with Coron, Palawan as his knowledge and consent.
domicle. Although respondent declared that as early as 2008, he has already transferred his
domicile at Aborlan, still he secured his Community Tax Certificate (CTC) for the year 2009 at In contrast, we found in the present case that Mitra did not deliberately misrepresent his
Coron. Aborlan residence to deceive or mislead the Palawan electorate since he in fact adduced
positive evidence of transfer of residence which the private respondents failed to sufficiently
Respondent tried to wiggle out from this tight spot by explaining that it was secured by his controvert. In this regard, we noted with emphasis that Mitra undertook "incremental moves"
secretary, who through force of habit inadvertently got it for him. However, such explanation to his new domicile in Aborlan as evidenced by the following: (1) his expressed intent to
proved futile when respondent was confronted with the fact that he still used the said CTC in transfer to a residence outside of Puerto Princesa City to make him eligible for a provincial
position; (2) his preparatory moves starting in early 2008; (3) the transfer of registration as a Earlier, Frivaldo v. COMELEC provided the following test:
voter in March 2009; (4) his initial transfer through a leased dwelling at Maligaya Feedmill; (5)
the purchase of a lot for his permanent home; and (6) the construction of a house on the said [T]his Court has repeatedly stressed the importance of giving effect to the sovereign will in
lot which is adjacent to the premises he was leasing pending the completion of his order to ensure the survival of our democracy. In any action involving the possibility of a
house.52 The issue regarding Mitra’s CTC, too, was satisfactorily explained and is far different reversal of the popular electoral choice, this Court must exert utmost effort to resolve the
from the obtaining facts in the case of Reyes. issues in a manner that would give effect to the will of the majority, for it is merely sound public
policy to cause elective offices to be filled by those who are the choice of the majority. To
No occasion exists to apply the rule of the primacy of the will of people since Mitra did not successfully challenge a winning candidate's qualifications, the petitioner must clearly
commit any deliberate misrepresentation; in fact, he proved that he transferred his residence demonstrate that the ineligibility is so patently antagonistic to constitutional and legal
to Aborlan within the period required by law. principles that overriding such ineligibility and thereby giving effect to the apparent will of the
people would ultimately create greater prejudice to the very democratic institutions and juristic
The dissent contends that Mitra’s election as Governor "did not render the present case moot traditions that our Constitution and laws so zealously protect and promote. [Emphasis
and academic or lift the statutory one-year residency requirement for him to qualify for the supplied.]
gubernatorial post."53 The dissent apparently perceives Mitra’s electoral victory as a major
consideration in our Decision of July 2, 2010. Unfortunately, the dissent is mistaken in its With the conclusion that Mitra did not commit any material misrepresentation in his COC, we
appreciation of the thrust of our Decision; we in fact ruled that no reason exists to appeal to see no reason in this case to appeal to the primacy of the electorate’s will. We cannot deny,
the primacy of the electorate’s will since Mitra did not commit any material misrepresentation however, that the people of Palawan have spoken in an election where residency qualification
in his COC. We said: had been squarely raised and their voice has erased any doubt about their verdict on Mitra’s
qualifications.54
We have applied in past cases the principle that the manifest will of the people as expressed
through the ballot must be given fullest effect; in case of doubt, political laws must be Under these terms, we cannot be any clearer.
interpreted to give life and spirit to the popular mandate. Thus, we have held that while
provisions relating to certificates of candidacy are in mandatory terms, it is an established rule WHEREFORE, premises considered, we resolve to DENY with FINALITY, for lack of merit,
of interpretation as regards election laws, that mandatory provisions, requiring certain steps the motions for reconsideration and motion for oral arguments now before us. Let entry of
before elections, will be construed as directory after the elections, to give effect to the will of judgment be made in due course.
the people.
SO ORDERED.
Quite recently, however, we warned against a blanket and unqualified reading and application
of this ruling, as it may carry dangerous significance to the rule of law and the integrity of our ARTURO D. BRION
elections. For one, such blanket/unqualified reading may provide a way around the law that Associate Justice
effectively negates election requirements aimed at providing the electorate with the basic
information for an informed choice about a candidate’s eligibility and fitness for office. Short of
adopting a clear cut standard, we thus made the following clarification:

We distinguish our ruling in this case from others that we have made in the past by the
clarification that COC defects beyond matters of form and that involve material
misrepresentations cannot avail of the benefit of our ruling that COC mandatory requirements
before elections are considered merely directory after the people shall have spoken. A
mandatory and material election law requirement involves more than the will of the people in
any given locality. Where a material COC misrepresentation under oath is made, thereby
violating both our election and criminal laws, we are faced as well with an assault on the will of
the people of the Philippines as expressed in our laws. In a choice between provisions on
material qualifications of elected officials, on the one hand, and the will of the electorate in any
given locality, on the other, we believe and so hold that we cannot choose the electorate will.
Republic of the Philippines influencing or corrupting them to vote for him. Attached to the petition are the (a) Affidavits of
SUPREME COURT Basilio Bates,2 Danilo D. Maglasang,3 Cesar A. Laurente;4 (b) Joint Affidavit of Agripino C.
Manila Alferez and Rogelio T. Salvera;5 (c) Extract Records from the Police Blotter executed by Police
Superintendent Elson G. Pecho;6 and (d) Photographs showing government dump trucks,
EN BANC haulers and surfacers and portions of public roads allegedly filled-in and surfaced through the
intercession of the respondent.7 The case was docketed as SPA No. 01-208 and assigned to
the COMELEC's Second Division.
G.R. No. 150605 December 10, 2002

On May 10, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division issued an Order delegating the hearing
EUFROCINO M. CODILLA, SR., petitioner,
and reception of evidence on the disqualification case to the Office of the Regional Director of
vs.
Region VIII.8 On May 11, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division sent a telegram informing the
HON. JOSE DE VENECIA, ROBERTO P. NAZARENO, in their official capacities as
petitioner that a disqualification case was filed against him and that the petition was remanded
Speaker
to the Regional Election Director for investigation. 9
and Secretary-General of the House of Representatives, respectively,
and MA. VICTORIA L. LOCSIN, respondents.
At the time of the elections on May 14, 2001, the Regional Election Director had yet
to hear the disqualification case. Consequently, petitioner was included in the list of
DECISION
candidates for district representative and was voted for. The initial results showed that
petitioner was the winning candidate.
PUNO, J.:
On May 16, 2001, before the counting could be finished, respondent Locsin joined as
In a democracy, the first self-evident principle is that he who has been rejected by the people intervenor in SPA No. 128 and filed a "Most Urgent Motion to Suspend Proclamation of
cannot represent the people. Respondent Ma. Victoria L. Locsin lost to petitioner Eufrocino M. Respondent [herein petitioner]" with the COMELEC Second Division. 10 Respondent Locsin
Codilla, Sr. by 17,903 votes in the May 14, 2001 elections as Representative of the 4th alleged that "the evidence on record against respondent is very strong and unless rebutted
legislative district of Leyte. The most sophisticated legal alchemy cannot justify her insistence remains." She urged the Commission to set the hearing of the disqualification case and
that she should continue governing the people of Leyte against their will. The enforcement of prayed for the suspension of the proclamation of the respondent "so as not to render the
the sovereign will of the people is not subject to the discretion of any official of the land. present disqualification case moot and academic." A copy of the Motion was allegedly
served on petitioner by registered mail but no registry receipt was attached thereto .11
This is a Petition for Mandamus and Quo Warranto directed against respondents Speaker
Jose De Venecia and Secretary-General Roberto P. Nazareno of the House of On May 18, 2001, respondent Locsin filed a "Second Most Urgent Motion to Suspend
Representatives to compel them to implement the decision of the Commission on Elections en Proclamation of Respondent" stating "there is clear and convincing evidence showing that
banc by (a) administering the oath of office to petitioner as the duly-elected Representative of the respondent is undoubtedly guilty of the charges against him and this remains unrebutted
the 4th legislative district of Leyte, and (b) registering the name of the petitioner in the Roll of by the respondent." A copy of the Motion was sent to the petitioner and the corresponding
Members of the House of Representatives, and against respondent Ma. Victoria L. Locsin for registry receipt was attached to the pleading.12 The records, however, do not show the date
usurping, intruding into, and unlawfully holding and exercising the said public office on the the petitioner received the motion.
basis of a void proclamation.
On the same day, May 18, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division issued an Ex-Parte
The facts are uncontroverted. Petitioner and respondent Locsin were candidates for the Order 13 directing the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte to suspend the proclamation of
position of Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte during the May 14, 2001 petitioner in case he obtains the highest number of votes by reason of "the seriousness of the
elections. At that time, petitioner was the Mayor of Ormoc City while respondent Locsin was allegations in the petition for disqualification." 14 It also directed the Regional Election Director
the sitting Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. On May 8, 2001, one to speed up the reception of evidence and to forward immediately the complete records
Josephine de la Cruz, a registered voter of Kananga, Leyte, filed directly with the COMELEC together with its recommendation to the Office of the Clerk of the Commission. 15 As a result,
main office a Petition for Disqualification1 against the petitioner for indirectly soliciting votes petitioner was not proclaimed as winner even though the final election results showed that he
from the registered voters of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte, in violation of Section 68 (a) of garnered 71,350 votes as against respondent Locsin's 53,447 votes. 16
the Omnibus Election Code. It was alleged that the petitioner used the equipments and
vehicles owned by the City Government of Ormoc to extract, haul and distribute gravel and
sand to the residents of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte, for the purpose of inducing,
At the time that the COMELEC Second Division issued its Order suspending his proclamation, By virtue of the said Resolution, the votes cast for petitioner, totaling 71,350, were
the petitioner has yet to be summoned to answer the petition for disqualification. Neither has declared stray even before said Resolution could gain finality . On June 15, 2001,
said petition been set for hearing. It was only on May 24, 2001 that petitioner was able to file respondent Locsin was proclaimed as the duly elected Representative of the 4th legislative
an Answer to the petition for his disqualification with the Regional Election Director, alleging district of Leyte by the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte. It issued a Certificate of
that: (a) he has not received the summons together with the copy of the petition; (b) he Canvass of Votes and Proclamation of the Winning Candidates for Member of the House of
became aware of the matter only by virtue of the telegram sent by the COMELEC Second Representatives stating that "MA. VICTORIA LARRAZABAL LOCSIN obtained a total of
Division informing him that a petition was filed against him and that the Regional Election FIFTY THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN (53,447) votes representing
Director was directed to investigate and receive evidence therewith; and (c) he obtained a the highest number of votes legally cast in the legislative district for said
copy of the petition from the COMELEC Regional Office No. 8 at his own instance. 17 Petitioner office."37 Respondent Locsin took her oath of office on June 18, 2001 and assumed
further alleged that the maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of barangay roads in the office on June 30, 2001.
municipalities of Matag-ob and Kananga were undertaken without his authority, participation
or directive as City Mayor of Ormoc. He attached in his Answer the following: (a) Affidavit of On June 20, 2001, petitioner seasonably filed with the COMELEC en banc a Motion
Alex B. Borinaga;18 (b) Copy of the Excerpt from the Minutes of the Regular Session of for Reconsideration 38from the June 14, 2001 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division
Barangay Monterico;19 (c) Affidavit of Wilfredo A. Fiel;20 (d) Supplemental Affidavit of Wilfredo which ordered his disqualification, as well as an Addendum to the Motion for
A. Fiel;21 and (e) Affidavit of Arnel Y. Padayao.22 Reconsideration.39 Petitioner alleged in his Motion for Reconsideration that the COMELEC
Second Division erred: (1) in disqualifying petitioner on the basis solely of the dubious
On May 25, 2001, petitioner filed a Motion to Lift Order of Suspension,23 alleging that (a) declaration of the witnesses for respondent Locsin; (2) in adopting in toto the allegations of the
he did not receive a copy of the Motion to Suspend his Proclamation and hence, was denied witnesses for respondent Locsin; and (3) in promulgating the resolution in violation of its own
the right to rebut and refute the allegations in the Motion; (b) that he did not receive a copy of rules of procedure and in directing therein the immediate proclamation of the second highest
the summons on the petition for disqualification and after personally obtaining a copy of the 'vote getter.' Respondent Locsin and her co-petitioner in SPA No. 01-208 filed a joint
petition, filed the requisite answer only on May 24, 2001; and (c) that he received the Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration.40
telegraph Order of the COMELEC Second Division suspending his proclamation only on May
22, 2001. He attached documentary evidence in support of his Motion to Lift the Suspension On June 21, 2001, petitioner filed with the COMELEC en banc a Petition for Declaration of
of his proclamation, and requested the setting of a hearing on his Motion. 24 Nullity of Proclamation,41 docketed as SPC No. 01-324, assailing the validity of the
proclamation of respondent Locsin who garnered only the second highest number of
On May 30, 2001, an oral argument was conducted on the petitioner's Motion and the parties votes. Respondent Locsin filed her Answer alleging that: (1) the Commission lost jurisdiction
were ordered to submit their respective memoranda.25 On June 4, 2001, petitioner submitted to hear and decide the case because of the proclamation of Locsin and that any question on
his Memorandum26 in support of his Motion assailing the suspension of his proclamation on the "election, returns, and qualification" of Locsin can only be taken cognizance of by the
the grounds that: (a) he was not afforded due process; (b) the order has no legal and factual House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET); (2) the case should be filed and heard in
basis; and (c) evidence of his guilt is patently inexistent for the purpose of suspending his the first instance by a Division of the Commission and not directly by the Commission en
proclamation. He prayed that his proclamation as winning congressional candidate be banc; and (3) the proclamation of Locsin was valid because she received the highest number
expediently made, even while the disqualification case against him continue upon due notice of valid votes cast, the votes of Codilla being stray.
and hearing. He attached the following additional evidence in his Memorandum: (a) Copy of
certification issued by PNP Senior Inspector Benjamin T. Gorre; 27 (b) Certification issued by On June 28, 2001, petitioner filed an Urgent Manifestation 42 stating that he was deprived of
Elena S. Aviles, City Budget Officer;28 (c) Copy of certification issued by Wilfredo A. Fiel, City a fair hearing on the disqualification case because while the documentary evidence
Engineer of Ormoc;29 (d) Joint Affidavit of Antonio Patenio and Pepito Restituto; 30and (e) adduced in his Memorandum was in support of his Motion for the lifting of the
Affidavits of Demetrio Brion,31 Igmedio Rita32 and Gerardo Monteza.33 Respondent Locsin's suspension of his proclamation, the COMELEC Second Division instead ruled on the
memorandum also contained additional affidavits of his witnesses. 34 main disqualification case. In consonance with his prayer that a full-dress hearing be
conducted on the disqualification case, he submitted Affidavits of additional witnesses 43 which
Petitioner's Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension, however, was not resolved . he claims would refute and substantially belie the allegations of petitioner's/intervenor's
Instead, on June 14, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated its witnesses. A Reply,44 Rejoinder45 and Sur-Rejoinder46were respectively filed by the parties.
Resolution 35 in SPA No. 01-208 which found the petitioner guilty of indirect solicitation of Consequently, the motion for reconsideration in SPA No. 01-208 and the petition for
votes and ordered his disqualification. It directed the "immediate proclamation of the declaration of nullity in SPC No. 01-324 were submitted for resolution.
candidate who garnered the highest number of votes xxx ." A copy of said
Resolution was sent by fax to the counsel of petitioner in Cebu City in the afternoon of the From the records, it appears that initially, a "Resolution" penned by Commissioner Rufino S.B.
following day.36 Javier, dated July 24, 2001, was submitted to the Office of the Chairman, dismissing the
petition for declaration of nullity for lack of jurisdiction and denying the motion for Provincial Board of Canvasser (sic) of Leyte to immediately reconvene
reconsideration filed by petitioner Codilla.47 Commissioners Florentino A. Tuason, Jr. and and thereafter proclaim forthwith the candidate who obtained the highest
Resurreccion Z. Borra submitted their respective dissenting opinions 48 to the Javier resolution. number of votes counting out the Respondent" the same being violative of
It bears emphasis that Commissioner Tuason, Jr. was the ponente of the Resolution of the election laws, established jurisprudence, and resolutions of the
COMELEC Second Division which ordered the disqualification of petitioner but after Commission;
considering the additional evidence presented by the latter, he concluded that the totality of
the evidence was clearly in petitioner's favor. Equally worth mentioning is the fact that (d) to nullify the ruling contained in the Resolution of the Commission
Commissioner Ralph C. Lantion, who was the Presiding Commissioner of the Second (Second Division) promulgated o June 14, 2001, that the votes of
Division, also dissented and voted to grant Codilla's motion for reconsideration on the ground respondent Codilla are "considered stray and invalid" said ruling being
that "[T]he people of Leyte have spoken and I respect the electorate's will. x x x." 49 issued on the basis of an inapplicable decision, and contrary to
established jurisprudence;
On August 29, 2001, then COMELEC Chairman Alfredo L. Benipayo issued a "Vote and
Opinion and Summary of Votes" reversing the resolution of the Second Division and (e) to order the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte, upon the finality
declaring the proclamation of respondent Locsin as null and void . The dispositive of this resolution, to reconvene and proclaim petitioner Codilla as the
portion reads: winning candidate for Representative of the Fourth Legislative district of
Leyte to comply with its ministerial duty to proclaim the candidate who
"JUDGMENT garnered the highest number of votes in the elections for that position; and

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, I concur with Commissioner (f) to order intervenor-oppositor Locsin, upon the finality of this resolution,
Resurreccion Z. Borra, Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason, Jr. and Commissioner Ralph C. to vacate the office of Representative of the House of Representatives
Lantion, in SPA No. 01-208, to GRANT the motion for reconsideration and to REVERSE the representing the Fourth legislative district of Leyte and, for this purpose, to
resolution of the Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 1, 2001, disqualifying inform the House of Representatives through the Honorable Speaker of
Codilla; and subsequently, in SPC No. 01-324, to GRANT the petition of Eufrocino M. Codilla, this resolution for its attention and guidance; and
Sr., and declare as null and void the proclamation of losing candidate Locsin.
2. On the petition for Declaration of Nullity of proclamation of respondent Ma. Victoria L.
Accordingly: Locsin (SPC No. 01-324), I vote:

1. On the Motion for Reconsideration of the disqualification resolution against (a) to GRANT the petition of Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., and declare as null and void
Codilla, promulgated by the Commission (Second Division) on June 14, 2001 (SPA the proclamation of losing candidate Locsin, the proclamation being violative of
No. 01-208), I vote: election laws, established jurisprudence, and resolutions of the Commission on
Elections;
(a) to GRANT the Motion for Reconsideration of respondent-movant
Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., and to REVERSE the Resolution of the (b) to lift the order of suspension of proclamation of petitioner Codilla, issued by the
Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 14, 2001, for Commission (Second Division) on May 18, 2001, in SPA No. 01-208, having been
insufficiency of evidence; issued without hearing and without any finding that the evidence of guilt of petitioner
Codilla is strong and, thus, null and void;
(b) to lift the order of suspension of proclamation of petitioner Codilla,
issued by the Commission (Second Division) on May 18, 2001, having (c) to nullify the order contained in the Resolution of the Commission (Second
been issued without hearing and without any finding that the evidence of Division) promulgated on June 14, 2001, in SPA No. 01-208, for "(t)he immediate
guilt of petitioner Codilla is strong and, thus, null and void; proclamation of the candidate who garnered the highest number of votes, to the
exclusion of respondent" and the concurrent order for "the provincial Board of
(c) to nullify the order contained in the Resolution of the Commission Canvasser (sic) of Leyte to immediately reconvene and thereafter proclaim forthwith
(Second Division) promulgated on June 14, 2001, for "(t)he immediate the candidate who obtained the highest number of votes counting out the
proclamation of the candidate who garnered the highest number of votes, Respondent" the same being violative of election laws, established jurisprudence,
to the exclusion of respondent" and the concurrent order for "the and resolutions of the Commission;
(d) to nullify the ruling contained in the Resolution of the Commission (Second assumed office since it is the HRET which is the sole judge of election, returns and
Division) promulgated on June 14, 2001, in SPA No. 01-208, that the votes of qualifications of Members of the House.53Relying on this opinion, respondent Locsin submitted
respondent Codilla are "considered stray and invalid" said ruling being issued on the a written privileged speech to the House during its regular session on September 4, 2001,
basis of an inapplicable decision, and contrary to established jurisprudence; where she declared that she will not only disregard but will openly defy and disobey the
COMELEC en banc resolution ordering her to vacate her position. 54
(e) to order the provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte, upon the finality of this
resolution, to reconvene and proclaim petitioner Codilla as the winning candidate for On September 6, 2001, the COMELEC en banc issued an Order 55 constituting the members
Representative of the Fourth legislative district of Leyte he (sic) having garnered the of the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte to implement the aforesaid decision. It likewise
highest number of votes in the elections for the position; and ordered the Board to reconvene and "proclaim the candidate who obtained the highest
number of votes in the district, as the duly-elected Representative of the Fourth Legislative
(f) to order respondent Locsin, upon the finality of this resolution, to vacate the office district of Leyte, and accordingly issue a Certificate of Canvass and Proclamation of Winning
of Representative of the House of Representatives representing the Fourth Candidate for Member of the House of Representatives x x x, based on the city/municipal
Legislative district of Leyte and, for this purpose, to inform the House of certificates of canvass submitted beforehand to the previous Provincial Board of Canvassers
Representatives through the Honorable Speaker of this resolution for its attention of Leyte x x x."
and guidance.
On September 12, 2001, petitioner Codilla was proclaimed by the Provincial Board of
Summary of Votes Canvassers as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of
Leyte, having obtained a total of 71,350 votes representing the highest number of votes cast
in the district.56 On the same day, petitioner took his oath of office before Executive Judge
Considering the FOUR (4) VOTES of the Chairman and Commissioners Resurreccion Z.
Fortunito L. Madrona of the Regional Trial Court of Ormoc City.57
Borra, Florentino A. Tuason, Jr., and Ralph C. Lantion, to grant the Motion for Reconsideration
of Codilla and reverse the disqualification Resolution of the Commission (Second Division) in
SPA No. 01-208, promulgated on June 14, 2001, and as an inevitable consequence, in voting On September 14, 2001, petitioner wrote the House of Representatives, thru respondent
to grant the petition for declaration of nullity of the proclamation of Ma. Victoria L. Locsin in Speaker De Venecia, informing the House of the August 29, 2001 COMELEC en banc
SPC No. 01-324, the verdict/opinion of the Chairman and the three (3) Commissioners taken resolution annulling the proclamation of respondent Locsin, and proclaiming him as the duly-
together now stands, as it is, the MAJORITY DECISION of the Commission En Banc in both elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. 58 Petitioner also served notice
cases; and the "Resolution" submitted by three (3) Commissioners, namely, Commissioner that "I am assuming the duties and responsibilities as Representative of the fourth legislative
Rufino S.B. Javier, Commissioner Luzviminda G. Tancangco, and Commissioner Mehol K. district of Leyte to which position I have been lawfully elected and proclaimed. On behalf of my
Sadain, is considered, as it is, the MINORITY DECISION of the Commission En Banc in both constituents, I therefore expect that all rights and privileges intended for the position of
cases. Representative of the fourth legislative district of Leyte be accorded to me, including all
physical facilities and staff support." On the basis of this letter, a Memorandum 59 dated
October 8, 2001 was issued by Legal Affairs Deputy Secretary-General Gaudencio A.
The MAJORTIY DECISION was arrived at after proper consultation with those who joined the
Mendoza, Jr., for Speaker De Venecia, stating that "there is no legal obstacle to complying
majority. The Chairman and the three (3) Commissioners comprising the majority decided that
with the duly promulgated – and now final and executory – COMELEC Decision of August 29,
no one will be assigned to write a Majority Decision. Instead, each one will write his own
2001 x x x."
separate opinion. Commissioners Borra, Tuason, Jr. and the undersigned Chairman submitted
separate opinions. Commissioner Lantion wrote an explanation on his vote." 50
These notwithstanding, and despite receipt by the House of Representatives of a copy of the
COMELEC en banc resolution on September 20, 2001, 60 no action was taken by the House
The aforequoted judgment was adopted in a "Vote of Adoption" signed by Commissioners
on the letter-appeal of petitioner. Hence, petitioner sought the assistance of his party, LAKAS-
Ralph C. Lantion, Resurreccion Z. Borra and Florentino A. Tuason, Jr.51
NUCD-UMDP, which sent a letter61 addressed to respondent Speaker De Venecia, dated
October 25, 2001, and signed by Party President Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr., Secretary-General
Respondent Locsin did not appeal from this decision annulling her proclamation . Heherson T. Alvarez, and Region VIII Party Chairman Sergio Antonio F. Apostol, requesting
Instead, she filed a "Comment and Manifestation" 52 with the COMELEC en banc questioning the House of Representatives to act decisively on the matter in order that petitioner "can avail
the procedure and the manner by which the decision was issued. In addition, respondent of whatever remedy is available should their action remain unfavorable or otherwise
Locsin requested and was issued an opinion by House of Representatives Executive Director undecisive."
and Chief Legal Counsel Leonardo B. Palicte III declaring that the COMELEC has no
jurisdiction to nullify the proclamation of respondent Locsin after she had taken her oath and
In response, Speaker De Venecia sent a letter62 dated October 30, 2001, stating that: the House of Representatives is not a ministerial function and cannot, thus, be compelled by
mandamus.
"We recognize the finality of the COMELEC decision and we are inclined to sustain it.
However, Rep. Locsin has officially notified the HOUSE in her privilege speech, inserted in the Respondent Locsin, in her Comment,66 alleged that the Supreme Court has no original
HOUSE Journal dated September 4, 2001, that she shall 'openly defy and disobey' the jurisdiction over an action for quo warranto involving a member of the House of
COMELEC ruling. This ultimately means that implementing the decision would result in the Representatives for under Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution it is the HRET which is the
spectacle of having two (2) legislators occupying the same congressional seat, a legal sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of Members of the
situation, the only consideration, that effectively deters the HOUSE's liberty to take action. House of Representatives. She likewise asserts that this Court cannot issue the writ of
mandamus against a co-equal legislative department without grossly violating the principle of
In this light, the accepted wisdom is that the implementation of the COMELEC separation of powers. She contends that the act of recognizing who should be seated as a
decision is a matter that can be best, and with finality, adjudicated by the Supreme bona fide member of the House of Representatives is not a ministerial function but a
Court, which, hopefully, shall act on it most expeditiously." (emphases supplied) legislative prerogative, the performance of which cannot be compelled by mandamus.
Moreover, the prayer for a writ of mandamus cannot be directed against the Speaker and
Secretary-General because they do not have the authority to enforce and implement the
Hence, the present petition for mandamus and quo warranto.
resolution of the COMELEC.
Petitioner submits that by virtue of the resolution of the COMELEC en banc which has
Additionally, respondent Locsin urges that the resolution of the COMELEC en banc is null and
become final and executory for failure of respondent Locsin to appeal therefrom, it has
void for lack of jurisdiction. First, it should have dismissed the case pending before it after her
become the ministerial duty: (1) of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as its
proclamation and after she had taken her oath of office. Jurisdiction then was vested in the
Administrative Head and Presiding Officer, to implement the said resolution of the COMELEC
HRET to unseat and remove a Member of the House of Representatives. Second, the petition
en banc by installing him as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of
for declaration of nullity is clearly a pre-proclamation controversy and the COMELEC en banc
Leyte; and (2) of the Secretary-General, as official custodian of the records of the House, to
has no original jurisdiction to hear and decide a pre-proclamation controversy. It must first be
formally register his name in the Roll of Members of the House and delete the name of
heard by a COMELEC Division. Third, the questioned decision is actually a "hodge-podge"
respondent Locsin therefrom. Petitioner further contends that respondent Locsin has been
decision because of the peculiar manner in which the COMELEC disposed of the case.
usurping and unlawfully holding the public office of Representative of the 4th legislative district
of Leyte considering that her premature proclamation has been declared null and void by the
COMELEC en banc. He alleges that the action or inaction of public respondents has deprived Finally, respondent Locsin asserts that the matter of her qualification and eligibility has been
him of his lawful right to assume the office of Representative of the 4th legislative district of categorically affirmed by the HRET when it dismissed the quo warranto case filed against her,
Leyte. docketed as HRET Case No. 01-043, entitled "Paciano Travero vs. Ma. Victoria Locsin,"
on the ground that "the allegations stated therein are not proper grounds for a petition for quo
warranto against a Member of the House of Representatives under section 253 of the
In his Comment,63 public respondent Speaker De Venecia alleged that mandamus will not lie
Omnibus Election Code and Rule 17 of the HRET Rules, and that the petition was filed late." 67
to compel the implementation of the COMELEC decision which is not merely a ministerial duty
but one which requires the exercise of discretion by the Speaker of the House considering
that: (1) it affects the membership of the House; and (2) there is nothing in the Rules of the In his Reply,68 petitioner asserts that the remedy of respondent Locsin from the COMELEC
House of Representatives which imposes a duty on the House Speaker to implement a decision was to file a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, not to seek an opinion
COMELEC decision that unseats an incumbent House member. from the Chief Legal Counsel of the House of Representatives; that the HRET has no
jurisdiction over a petition for declaration of nullity of proclamation which is based not on
ineligibility or disloyalty, but by reason that the candidate proclaimed as winner did not obtain
In his Comment,64 public respondent Secretary-General Nazareno alleged that in reading the
the highest number of votes; that the petition for annulment of proclamation is a pre-
name of respondent Locsin during the roll call, and in allowing her to take her oath before the
proclamation controversy and, hence, falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the COMELEC
Speaker-elect and sit as Member of the House during the Joint Session of Congress, he was
pursuant to section 242 of B.P. Blg. 88169 and section 3, Article IX (C) of the Constitution; that
merely performing official acts in compliance with the opinions 65 rendered by House of
respondent Speaker De Venecia himself recognizes the finality of the COMELEC decision but
Representatives Chief Counsel and Executive Director Leonardo C. Palicte III stating that the
has decided to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for adjudication; that the enforcement
COMELEC has no jurisdiction to declare the proclamation of respondent Locsin as null and
and implementation of a final decision of the COMELEC involves a ministerial act and does
void since it is the HRET which is the sole judge of all election, returns and qualifications of
not encroach on the legislative power of Congress; and that the power to determine who will
Members of the House. He also contends that the determination of who will sit as Member of
sit as Member of the House does not involve an exercise of legislative power but is vested in
the sovereign will of the electorate.
The core issues in this case are: (a) whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin by the 2.d having solicited, received or made any contribution prohibited under
COMELEC Second Division is valid; (b) whether said proclamation divested the COMELEC Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104 of the Omnibus Election Code;
en banc of jurisdiction to review its validity; and (c) assuming the invalidity of said
proclamation, whether it is the ministerial duty of the public respondents to recognize 2.e having violated any of Sections 80, 83, 85, 86 and 261, paragraphs d,
petitioner Codilla, Sr. as the legally elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of e, k, v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6 of the Omnibus Election Code, shall be
Leyte vice respondent Locsin. disqualified from continuing as a candidate, or if he has been elected,
from holding the office.
I
xxxxxxxxx
Whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin is valid.
(4) Upon payment of the filing fee of P1,000.00 and legal research fee of P20.00,
After carefully reviewing the records of this case, we find that the proclamation of respondent the offices concerned shall docket the petition and assign to it a docket number
Locsin is null and void for the following reasons: which must be consecutive, according to the order of receipt and must bear the year
and prefixed as SPA with the corresponding initial of the name of the office, i.e. SPA
First. The petitioner was denied due process during the entire proceedings leading (RED) No. C01-001; SPA (PES) No. C01-001;
to the proclamation of respondent Locsin.
(5) Within three (3) days from filing of the petitions, the offices concerned shall issue
70
COMELEC Resolution Nos. 3402 sets the procedure for disqualification cases pursuant to summons to the respondent candidate together with a copy of the petition and its
section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, viz: enclosures, if any;

"C. PETITION TO DISQUALIFY A CANDIDATE PURSUANT TO SEC. 68 OF THE OMNIBUS (6) The respondent shall be given three (3) days from receipt of summons within
ELECTION CODE AND PETITION TO DISQUALIFY FOR LACK OF QUALIFICATIONS OR which to file his verified answer (not a motion to dismiss) to the petition in ten (10)
POSSESSING SAME GROUNDS FOR DISQUALIFICATION legible copies, serving a copy thereof upon the petitioner. Grounds for Motion to
Dismiss may be raised as an affirmative defense;
(1) The verified petition to disqualify a candidate pursuant to Sec. 68 of the Omnibus
Election Code and the verified petition to disqualify a candidate for lack of (7) The proceeding shall be summary in nature. In lieu of the testimonies, the parties
qualifications or possessing same grounds for disqualification, may be filed any day shall submit their affidavits or counter-affidavits and other documentary evidences
after the last day for filing of certificates of candidacy but not later than the date of including their position paper;
proclamation.
(8) The hearing must be completed within ten (10) days from the date of the filing of
(2) The petition to disqualify a candidate pursuant to Sec. 68 of the Omnibus the answer. The hearing officer concerned shall submit to the Clerk of the
Election Code shall be filed in ten (10) legible copies by any citizen of voting age, or Commission through the fastest means of communication, his findings, reports and
duly registered political party, organization or coalition of political parties against any recommendations within five (5) days from the completion of the hearing and
candidate who in an action or protest in which he is a party is declared by final reception of evidence together with the complete records of the case;
decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of:
(9) Upon receipt of the records of the case of the findings, reports and
2.a having given money or other material consideration to influence, recommendation of the hearing officer concerned, the Clerk of the Commission shall
induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral immediately docket the case consecutively and calendar the same for raffle to a
functions; division;

2.b having committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; (10) The division to whom the case is raffled, shall after consultation, assign the
same to a member who shall pen the decision, within five (5) days from the date of
consultation."
2.c having spent in his election campaign an amount in excess of that
allowed by the Omnibus Election Code;
Resolution No. 3402 clearly requires the COMELEC, through the Regional Election Director, final decision shall be rendered not later than seven days before the election in
to issue summons to the respondent candidate together with a copy of the petition and its which the disqualification is sought.
enclosures, if any, within three (3) days from the filing of the petition for disqualification.
Undoubtedly, this is to afford the respondent candidate the opportunity to answer the Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted
allegations in the petition and hear his side. To ensure compliance with this requirement, the for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. Nevertheless, if for any reason, a
COMELEC Rules of Procedure requires the return of the summons together with the proof of candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and
service to the Clerk of Court of the COMELEC when service has been completed, viz: he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, his
violation of the provisions of the preceding sections shall not prevent his
"Rule 14. Summons proclamation and assumption to office." (emphases supplied)

xxxxxxxxx In the instant case, petitioner has not been disqualified by final judgment when the elections
were conducted on May 14, 2001. The Regional Election Director has yet to conduct hearing
Section 5. Return.- When the service has been completed by personal service, the server on the petition for his disqualification. After the elections, petitioner was voted in office by a
shall give notice thereof, by registered mail, to the protestant or his counsel and shall return wide margin of 17,903. On May 16, 2001, however, respondent Locsin filed a Most Urgent
the summons to the Clerk of Court concerned who issued it, accompanied with the proof of Motion for the suspension of petitioner's proclamation. The Most Urgent Motion contained a
service. statement to the effect that a copy was served to the petitioner through registered mail. The
records reveal that no registry receipt was attached to prove such service. 72 This violates
COMELEC Rules of Procedure requiring notice and service of the motion to all parties, viz:
Section 6. Proof of Service.- Proof of service of summons shall be made in the manner
provided for in the Rules of Court in the Philippines."
"Section 4. Notice.- Notice of a motion shall be served by the movant to all parties concerned,
at least three (3) days before the hearing thereof, together with a copy of the motion. For good
Thereafter, hearings, to be completed within ten (10) days from the filing of the Answer, must
cause shown, the motion may be heard on shorter notice, especially on matters which the
be conducted. The hearing officer is required to submit to the Clerk of the Commission his
Commission or the Division may dispose of on its own motion.
findings, reports and recommendations within five (5) days from the completion of the hearing
and reception of evidence together with the complete records of the case.
The notice shall be directed to the parties concerned and shall state the time and place of the
hearing of the motion.
(a) Petitioner was not notified of the petition for his disqualification through the
service of summons nor of the Motions to suspend his proclamation.
Section 5. Proof of Service.- No motion shall be acted upon by the Commission without proof
of service of notice thereof, except when the Commission or a Division is satisfied that the
The records of the case do not show that summons was served on the petitioner. They do not
rights of the adverse party or parties are not affected."
contain a copy of the summons allegedly served on the petitioner and its corresponding proof
of service. Furthermore, private respondent never rebutted petitioner's repeated assertion that
he was not properly notified of the petition for his disqualification because he never received Respondent's Most Urgent Motion does not fall under the exceptions to notice and service of
summons.71 Petitioner claims that prior to receiving a telegraphed Order from the COMELEC motions. First, the suspension of proclamation of a winning candidate is not a matter which
Second Division on May 22, 2001, directing the District Board of Canvassers to suspend his the COMELEC Second Division can dispose of motu proprio. Section 6 of R.A. No.
proclamation, he was never summoned nor furnished a copy of the petition for his 664673 requires that the suspension must be "upon motion by the complainant or any
disqualification. He was able to obtain a copy of the petition and the May 22 Order of the intervenor", viz:
COMELEC Second Division by personally going to the COMELEC Regional Office on May 23,
2001. Thus, he was able to file his Answer to the disqualification case only on May 24, 2001. "Section 6. Effect of Disqualification Case.- Any candidate who has been declared by final
judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be
More, the proclamation of the petitioner was suspended in gross violation of section 72 of the counted. If for any reason, a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to
Omnibus Election Code which provides: be disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such
election, the Court or Commission (COMELEC) shall continue with the trial or hearing
of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any
"Sec. 72. Effects of disqualification cases and priority.- The Commission and the courts shall
intervenor, may during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the
give priority to cases of disqualification by reason of violation of this Act to the end that a
proclamation of such candidate whenever the evidence of his guilt is strong ." Petitioner filed a Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension of his proclamation on May 25,
(emphases supplied) 2001. Although an oral argument on this Motion was held, and the parties were allowed to file
their respective memoranda, the Motion was not acted upon. Instead, the COMELEC Second
Second, the right of an adverse party, in this case, the petitioner, is clearly affected. Given the Division issued a Resolution on the petition for disqualification against the petitioner. It was
lack of service of the Most Urgent Motion to the petitioner, said Motion is a mere scrap of based on the following evidence: (a) the affidavits attached to the Petition for Disqualification;
paper.74 It cannot be acted upon by the COMELEC Second Division. (b) the affidavits attached to the Answer; and (c) the respective memoranda of the parties.

On May 18, 2001 at exactly 5:00 p.m.,75 respondent Locsin filed a Second Most Urgent Motion On this score, it bears emphasis that the hearing for Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension
for the suspension of petitioner's proclamation. Petitioner was served a copy of the Second cannot be substituted for the hearing in the disqualification case. Although intrinsically linked,
Motion again by registered mail. A registry receipt76 was attached evidencing service of the it is not to be supposed that the evidence of the parties in the main disqualification case are
Second Most Urgent Motion to the petitioner but it does not appear when the petitioner the same as those in the Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension. The parties may have other
received a copy thereof. That same day, the COMELEC Second Division issued an Order evidence which they may deem proper to present only on the hearing for the disqualification
suspending the proclamation of petitioner. Clearly, the petitioner was not given any opportunity case. Also, there may be evidence which are unavailable during the hearing for the Motion to
to contest the allegations contained in the petition for disqualification. The Order was issued Lift the Order of Suspension but which may be available during the hearing for the
on the very same day the Second Most Urgent Motion was filed. The petitioner could not have disqualification case.
received the Second Most Urgent Motion, let alone answer the same on time as he was
served a copy thereof by registered mail. In the case at bar, petitioner asserts that he submitted his Memorandum merely to support his
Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension. It was not intended to answer and refute the
Under section 6 of R.A. No. 6646, the COMELEC can suspend proclamation only when disqualification case against him. This submission was sustained by the COMELEC en banc.
evidence of the winning candidate's guilt is strong. In the case at bar, the COMELEC Hence, the members of the COMELEC en banc concluded, upon consideration of the
Second Division did not make any specific finding that evidence of petitioner's guilt additional affidavits attached in his Urgent Manifestation, that the evidence to disqualify the
is strong. Its only basis in suspending the proclamation of the petitioner is the "seriousness petitioner was insufficient. More specifically, the ponente of the challenged Resolution of the
of the allegations" in the petition for disqualification. Pertinent portion of the Order reads: COMELEC Second Division held:

"Without giving due course to the petition xxx the Commission (2 nd Division), pursuant to "Indeed, I find from the records that the May 30, 2001 hearing of the COMELEC (Second
Section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to Section 6, Republic Act No. 6646 xxx Division) concerns only the incident relating to the Motion to Lift Order of Suspension of
and considering the serious allegations in the petition, hereby directs the Provincial Proclamation. It also appears that the order for the submission of the parties' respective
Board of Canvassers of Leyte to suspend the proclamation of respondent, if winning, memoranda was in lieu of the parties' oral argument on the motion. This would explain the fact
until further orders."77 (emphases supplied) that Codilla's Memorandum refers mainly to the validity of the issuance of the order of
suspension of proclamation. There is, however, no record of any hearing on the urgent motion
for the suspension of proclamation. Indeed, it was only upon the filing of the Urgent
We hold that absent any finding that the evidence on the guilt of the petitioner is strong, the
Manifestation by Codilla that the Members of the Commission (Second Division) and
COMELEC Second Division gravely abused its power when it suspended his proclamation.
other Members of the Commission en banc had the opportunity to consider Codilla's
affidavits. This time, Codilla was able to present his side, thus, completing the
(b) The COMELEC Second Division did not give ample opportunity to the petitioner presentation of evidentiary documents from both sides." 78 (emphases supplied)
to adduce evidence in support of his defense in the petition for his disqualification .
Indeed, careful reading of the petitioner's Memorandum shows that he confined his arguments
All throughout the proceeding, no hearing was conducted on the petition for disqualification in in support of his Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension. In said Memorandum, petitioner
gross violation of section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 which specifically enjoins the COMELEC to raised the following issues: (a) he was utterly deprived of procedural due process, and
"continue with the trial or hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest ." This is also in consequently, the order suspending his proclamation is null and void; (b) the said order of
violation of COMELEC Resolution No. 3402 requiring the Regional Election Director to suspension of proclamation has no legal and factual basis; and (c) evidence of guilt on his
complete the hearing and reception of evidence within ten (10) days from the filing of the part is patently inexistent for the purpose of directing the suspension of his proclamation. 79 He
Answer, and to submit his findings, reports, and recommendations within the five (5) days urged the COMELEC Second Division to conduct a full dress hearing on the main
from completion of the hearing and the reception of evidence. disqualification case should the suspension be lifted.80
(c) the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division disqualifying the petitioner is inducing and influencing the voters/beneficiaries of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte to cast their
not based on substantial evidence. votes for said respondent."83

The Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division cannot be considered to be based on The affidavits relied upon by the COMELEC Second Division failed to prove these allegations.
substantial evidence. It relied merely on affidavits of witnesses attached to the petition for For instance, Cesar A. Laurente merely stated that he saw three (3) ten-wheeler dump trucks
disqualification. As stressed, the COMELEC Second Division gave credence to the affidavits and a Hyundai Payloader with the markings "Ormoc City Government" extracting and hauling
without hearing the affiants. In reversing said Resolution, the COMELEC en banc correctly sand and gravel from the riverbed adjacent to the property owned by the Codilla family.84
observed:
Agripino C. Alferez and Rogelio T. Sulvera in their Joint Affidavit merely stated that they saw
"Lacking evidence of Codilla, the Commission (Second Division) made its decisions based white trucks owned by the City Government of Ormoc dumping gravel and sand on the road of
mainly on the allegation of the petitioner and the supporting affidavits. With this lopsided Purok 6, San Vicente, Matag-ob, Leyte. A payloader then scattered the sand and gravel
evidence at hand, the result was predictable. The Commission (Second Division) had no unloaded by the white trucks.85
choice. Codilla was disqualified."81
On the other hand, Danilo D. Maglasang, a temporary employee of the City Government of
Worse, the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division, even without the evidence coming Ormoc assigned to check and record the delivery of sand and gravel for the different
from the petitioner, failed to prove the gravamen of the offense for which he was charged. 82 barangays in Ormoc, stated as follows:

Petitioner allegedly violated section 68 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code which reads: "3. That on April 20, 2001, I was ordered by Engr. Arnel Padayo, an employee of the City
Engineering Office, Ormoc City to go to Tagaytay, Kangga (sic), Leyte as that will be the
"Section 68. Disqualifications.- Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is a party is source of the sand and gravel. I inquired why we had to go to Kananga but Engr. Padayao
declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of having said that it's not a problem as it was Mayor Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr. who ordered this and the
(a) given money or other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or property is owned by the family of Mayor Codilla. We were to deliver sand and gravel to
public officials performing official functions, xxx shall be disqualified from continuing as whoever requests from Mayor Codilla."86
candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding office"
Similarly, the Affidavit of Basilio Bates cannot prove the offense charged against the petitioner.
To be disqualified under the above-quoted provision, the following elements must be proved: He alleged that on April 18, 2001, a white truck with the marking "City Government of Ormoc"
(a) the candidate, personally or through his instructions, must have given money or other came to his lot at Montebello, Kananga, Leyte and unloaded mixed sand and that the driver of
material consideration; and (b) the act of giving money or other material consideration must be the truck told him to "vote for Codilla as a (sic) congressman during election." 87 His statement
for the purpose of influencing, inducing, or corrupting the voters or public officials performing is hearsay. He has no personal knowledge of the supposed order of the petitioner to distribute
electoral functions. gravel and sand for the purpose of inducing the voters to vote for him. The same could be said
about the affidavits of Randy T. Merin,88 Alfredo C. De la Peña,89 Miguel P. Pandac,90 Paquito
Bregeldo, Cristeta Alferez , Glicerio Rios,91 Romulo Alkuino, Sr.,92 Abner Casas,93 Rita
In the case at bar, the petition for disqualification alleged that (a) petitioner ordered the
Trangia,94 and Judith Erispe95 attached to respondent Locsin's Memorandum on the Motion to
extraction, hauling and distribution of gravel and sand, and (b) his purpose was to induce and
Lift the Suspension of Proclamation.
influence the voters of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte to vote for him. Pertinent portion of the
petition reads:
Also valueless are the affidavits of other witnesses96 of respondent Locsin, all similarly
worded, which alleged that the petitioner ordered the repair of the road in Purok 6, Barangay
"[T]he respondent [herein petitioner], within the election period, took advantage of his current
San Vicente, Matag-ob, Leyte and the flattening of the area where the cockfights were to be
elective position as City Mayor of Ormoc City by illegally and unlawfully using during the
held. These allegations are extraneous to the charge in the petition for disqualification. More
prohibited period, public equipments and vehicles belonging to and owned by the City
importantly, these allegations do not constitute a ground to disqualify the petitioner based on
Government of Ormoc City in extracting, hauling and distributing gravel and sand to the
section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.
residents and voters of the Municipalities of Kananga and Matag-ob Leyte, well within the
territorial limits of the 4th Congressional District of Leyte, which acts were executed without
period, and clearly for the illicit purpose of unduly inducing or directly corrupting various voters To be sure, the petition for disqualification also ascribed other election offenses against the
of Kananga and Matag-ob, within the 4th legislative district of Leyte, for the precise purpose of petitioner, particularly section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, viz:
"Section 261. Prohibited Acts.- The following shall be guilty of an election offense: The COMELEC Second Division grievously erred when it decided the disqualification case
based on section 261 (a) and (o), and not on section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.
(a) Vote-buying and vote-selling.- (1) Any person who gives, offers or promises
money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise (d) Exclusion of the votes in favor of the petitioner and the proclamation of
or grant, public or private, or make or offers to make an expenditure, directly or respondent Locsin was done with undue haste.
indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association,
corporation, entity or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general, The COMELEC Second Division ordered the exclusion of the votes cast in favor of the
to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for petitioner, and the proclamation of the respondent Locsin, without affording the petitioner the
or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention opportunity to challenge the same. In the morning of June 15, 2001, the Provincial Board of
or similar selection process of a political party. Canvassers convened, and on the strength of the said Resolution excluding the votes
received by the petitioner, certified that respondent Locsin received the highest number of
xxxxxxxxx votes. On this basis, respondent Locsin was proclaimed.

(o) Use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment, facilities owned or Records reveal that the petitioner received notice of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second
controlled by the government for an election campaign .- Any person who uses under Division only through his counsel via a facsimile message in the afternoon of June 15,
any guise whatsoever directly or indirectly, xxx (3) any equipment, vehicle, facility, 200198 when everything was already fait accompli. Undoubtedly, he was not able to contest
apparatus, or paraphernalia owned by the government or by its political the issuance of the Certificate of Canvass and the proclamation of respondent Locsin. This is
subdivisions, agencies including government-owned or controlled corporations, or plain and simple denial of due process.
by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for any election campaign or for any partisan
political activity x x x." The essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. When a party is deprived of that
basic fairness, any decision by any tribunal in prejudice of his rights is void.
However, the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify candidates is limited to
those enumerated in section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code. All other election Second. The votes cast in favor of the petitioner cannot be considered "stray" and
offenses are beyond the ambit of COMELEC jurisdiction. 97 They are criminal and not respondent cannot be validly proclaimed on that basis.
administrative in nature. Pursuant to sections 265 and 268 of the Omnibus Election
Code, the power of the COMELEC is confined to the conduct of preliminary The Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division in SPA No. 01-208 contains two
investigation on the alleged election offenses for the purpose of prosecuting the dispositions: (1) it ruled that the petitioner was disqualified as a candidate for the position of
alleged offenders before the regular courts of justice, viz: Congressman of the Fourth District of Leyte; and (2) it ordered the immediate proclamation of
the candidate who garnered the highest number of votes, to the exclusion of the respondent
"Section 265. Prosecution.- The Commission shall, through its duly authorized [herein petitioner].
legal officers, have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all
election offenses punishable under this Code, and to prosecute the same. The As previously stated, the disqualification of the petitioner is null and void for being violative of
Commission may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the due process and for want of substantial factual basis. Even assuming, however, that the
government: Provided, however, That in the event that the Commission fails to act petitioner was validly disqualified, it is still improper for the COMELEC Second Division to
on any complaint within four months from his filing, the complainant may file the order the immediate exclusion of votes cast for the petitioner as stray, and on this basis,
complaint with the office of the fiscal or with the Ministry of Justice for proper proclaim the respondent as having garnered the next highest number of votes.
investigation and prosecution, if warranted.
(a) The order of disqualification is not yet final, hence, the votes cast in favor of the
xxxxxxxxx petitioner cannot be considered "stray."

Section 268. Jurisdiction.- The regional trial court shall have the exclusive original jurisdiction Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 and section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code require a final
to try and decide any criminal action or proceeding for violation of this Code, except those judgment before the election for the votes of a disqualified candidate to be considered
relating to the offense of failure to register or failure to vote which shall be under the "stray." Hence, when a candidate has not yet been disqualified by final judgment during the
jurisdictions of metropolitan or municipal trial courts. From the decision of the courts, appeal election day and was voted for, the votes cast in his favor cannot be declared stray. To do so
will lie as in other criminal cases." would amount to disenfranchising the electorate in whom sovereignty resides. 99 For in voting
for a candidate who has not been disqualified by final judgment during the election day, the (1) the decision or resolution of the En Banc of the Commission on disqualification
people voted for him bona fide, without any intention to misapply their franchise, and in the cases shall become final and executory after five (5) days from its promulgation
honest belief that the candidate was then qualified to be the person to whom they would unless restrained by the Supreme Court;
entrust the exercise of the powers of government.100
(2) the decision or resolution of a Division on disqualification cases shall become
This principle applies with greater force in the case at bar considering that the petitioner has final and executory after the lapse of five (5) days unless a motion for
not been declared by final judgment to be disqualified not only before but even after reconsideration is seasonably filed;
the elections. The Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division disqualifying the petitioner
did not attain finality, and hence, could not be executed, because of the timely filing of a (3) where the ground for disqualification case is by reason of non-residence,
Motion for Reconsideration. Section 13, Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure on citizenship, violation of election laws and other analogous cases and on the day of
Finality of Decisions and Resolutions reads: the election the resolution has not become final and executory the BEI shall tally
and count the votes for such disqualified candidate;
"Sec. 13. Finality of Decisions or Resolutions.- (a) In ordinary actions, special proceedings,
provisional remedies and special reliefs, a decision or resolution of the Commission en banc (4) the decision or resolution of the En Banc on nuisance candidates, particularly
shall become final and executory after thirty (30) days from its promulgation. whether the nuisance candidate has the same name as the bona fide candidate
shall be immediately executory;
(b) In Special Actions and Special Cases a decision or resolution of the Commission en banc
shall become final and executory after five (5) days in Special Actions and Special Cases and (5) the decision or resolution of a DIVISION on nuisance candidate, particularly
after fifteen (15) days in all other proceedings, following their promulgation. where the nuisance candidate has the same name as the bona fide candidate shall
be immediately executory after the lapse of five (5) days unless a motion for
(c) Unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed, a decision or resolution reconsideration is seasonably filed. In which case, the votes cast shall not be
of a Division shall become final and executory after the lapse of five (5) days in considered stray but shall be counted and tallied for the bona fide candidate.
Special Actions and Special Cases and after fifteen (15) days in all other actions or
proceedings, following its promulgation." (emphasis supplied) All resolutions, orders and rules inconsistent herewith are hereby modified or repealed."

In this wise, COMELEC Resolution No. 4116,101 issued in relation to the finality of resolutions Considering the timely filing of a Motion for Reconsideration, the COMELEC Second Division
or decisions in disqualification cases, provides: gravely abused its discretion in ordering the immediate disqualification of the petitioner and
ordering the exclusion of the votes cast in his favor. Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC
"This pertains to the finality of decisions or resolutions of the Commission en banc or division, Rules of Procedure is very clear that a timely Motion for Reconsideration shall suspend the
particularly on Special Actions (Disqualification Cases). execution or implementation of the resolution, viz:

Special Action cases refer to the following: Section 2. Period for filing Motion for Reconsideration.- A motion to reconsider a decision,
resolution, order, or ruling of a Division shall be filed within five (5) days from the promulgation
(a) Petition to deny due course to a certificate of candidacy; thereof. Such motion, if not pro forma, suspends the execution or implementation of
the decision, resolution, order or ruling." (emphases supplied)
(b) Petition to declare a candidate as a nuisance candidate;
(b) Respondent Locsin, as a mere second placer, cannot be proclaimed.
(c) Petition to disqualify a candidate; and
More brazen is the proclamation of respondent Locsin which violates the settled doctrine that
the candidate who obtains the second highest number of votes may not be proclaimed winner
(d) Petition to postpone or suspend an election.
in case the winning candidate is disqualified.102 In every election, the people's choice is the
paramount consideration and their expressed will must at all times be given effect. When the
Considering the foregoing and in order to guide field officials on the finality of decisions or majority speaks and elects into office a candidate by giving him the highest number of votes
resolutions on special action cases (disqualification cases) the Commission, RESOLVES, as it cast in the election for the office, no one can be declared elected in his place. 103 In Domino v.
is hereby RESOLVED, as follows: COMELEC,104 this Court ruled, viz:
"It would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally guaranteed right First. The validity of the respondent's proclamation was a core issue in the Motion
to suffrage if a candidate who has not acquired the majority or plurality of votes is proclaimed for Reconsideration seasonably filed by the petitioner.
winner and imposed as representative of a constituency, the majority of which have positively
declared through their ballots that they do not choose him. To simplistically assume that the In his timely Motion for Reconsideration with the COMELEC en banc, petitioner argued that
second placer would have received that (sic) other votes would be to substitute our judgment the COMELEC Second Division erred thus:
for the mind of the voters. He could not be considered the first among the qualified candidates
because in a field which excludes the qualified candidate, the conditions would have "(1) in disqualifying petitioner on the basis solely of the dubious declaration of the
substantially changed. witnesses for respondent Locsin;

xxxxxxxxx (2) in adopting in toto the allegations of the witnesses for respondent Locsin; and

The effect of a decision declaring a person ineligible to hold an office is only that the election (3) in promulgating the resolution in violation of its own rules of procedure
fails entirely, that the wreath of victory cannot be transferred from the disqualified winner to the and in directing therein the immediate proclamation of the second highest
repudiated loser because the law then as now only authorizes a declaration in favor of the 'vote getter.'" (emphases supplied)
person who has obtained a plurality of votes, and does not entitle the candidate receiving the
next highest number of votes to be declared elected. In such case, the electors have failed to
make a choice and the election is a nullity. To allow the defeated and repudiated candidate to In support of his third assignment of error, petitioner argued that "the Second Division's
take over the elective position despite his rejection by the electorate is to disenfranchise the directive for the immediate proclamation of the second highest vote-getter is premature
electorate without any fault on their part and to undermine the importance and meaning of considering that the Resolution has yet to become final and executory." 108 Clearly, the validity
democracy and the people's right to elect officials of their choice." 105 of respondent Locsin's proclamation was made a central issue in the Motion for
Reconsideration seasonably filed by the petitioner. Without doubt, the COMELEC en banc has
the jurisdiction to rule on the issue.
Respondent Locsin proffers a distinction between a disqualification based on personal
circumstances such as age, residence or citizenship and disqualification based on election
offenses. She contends that the election of candidates later disqualified based on election The fact that the Petition for Nullity of Proclamation was filed directly with the COMELEC en
offenses like those enumerated in section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code should be banc is of no moment. Even without said Petition, the COMELEC en banc could still rule on
invalidated because they violate the very essence of suffrage and as such, the votes cast in the nullity of respondent's proclamation because it was properly raised in the Motion for
his favor should not be considered.106 Reconsideration.

This contention is without merit. In the recent case of Trinidad v. COMELEC,107 this Court Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution empowers the COMELEC en banc to review,
ruled that the effect of a judgment disqualifying a candidate, after winning the election, based on motion for reconsideration, decisions or resolutions decided by a division, viz:
on personal circumstances or section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code is the same: the
second placer could not take the place of the disqualified winner. "Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall
promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including
II pre-proclamation controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division,
provided that motions for reconsideration of decision shall be decided by the Commission en
banc."
Whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin divested the COMELEC en banc of
jurisdiction to review its validity.
Pursuant to this Constitutional mandate, the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides:
Respondent Locsin submits that the COMELEC en banc has no jurisdiction to annul her
proclamation. She maintains that the COMELEC en banc was been divested of jurisdiction to "Rule 19. Motions for Reconsideration.-
review the validity of her proclamation because she has become a member of the House of
Representatives. Thus, she contends that the proper forum to question her membership to the Section 1. Grounds for Motion for Reconsideration.- A motion for reconsideration
House of Representatives is the House of Representative Electoral Tribunal (HRET). may be filed on the grounds that the evidence is insufficient to justify the decision,
order or ruling, or that the said decision, order or ruling is contrary to law.
We find no merit in these contentions.
Section 2. Period for filing Motion for Reconsideration.- A motion to reconsider a (a) The issue on the validity of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division has
decision, resolution, order, or ruling of a Division shall be filed within five (5) days not yet been resolved by the COMELEC en banc.
from the promulgation thereof. Such motion, if not pro forma, suspends the
execution or implementation of the decision, resolution, order or ruling. " To stress again, at the time of the proclamation of respondent Locsin, the validity of the
Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division was seasonably challenged by the petitioner in
Section 3. Form and Contents of Motion for Reconsideration.- The motion shall be his Motion for Reconsideration. The issue was still within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
verified and shall point out specifically the findings or conclusions of the decision, COMELEC en banc to resolve. Hence, the HRET cannot assume jurisdiction over the matter.
resolution, order or ruling which are not supported by the evidence or which are
contrary to law, making express reference to the testimonial or documentary In Puzon vs. Cua,110 even the HRET ruled that the "doctrinal ruling that once a proclamation
evidence or to the provisions of law alleged to be contrary to such findings or has been made and a candidate-elect has assumed office, it is this Tribunal that has
resolutions. jurisdiction over an election contest involving members of the House of
Representatives, could not have been immediately applicable due to the issue
Section 4. Effect of Motion for Reconsideration on Period to Appeal.- A motion to regarding the validity of the very COMELEC pronouncements themselves ." This is
reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling when not pro forma, suspends the because the HRET has no jurisdiction to review resolutions or decisions of the COMELEC,
running of the period to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court. whether issued by a division or en banc.

Section 5. How Motion for Reconsideration Disposed Of.- Upon the filing of a motion (b) The instant case does not involve the election and qualification of respondent
to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division, the Clerk of Court Locsin.
concerned shall, within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing thereof, notify the
Presiding Commissioner. The latter shall within two (2) days thereafter certify the Respondent Locsin maintains that the proper recourse of the petitioner is to file a petition
case to the Commission en banc. for quo warranto with the HRET.

Section 6. Duty of the Clerk of Court of the Commission to set Motion for Hearing.- A petition for quo warranto may be filed only on the grounds of ineligibility and disloyalty to the
The Clerk of Court concerned shall calendar the motion for reconsideration for the Republic of the Philippines.111 In the case at bar, neither the eligibility of the respondent Locsin
resolution of the Commission en banc within ten (10) days from the certification nor her loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines is in question. There is no issue that she was
thereof." (emphases supplied) qualified to run, and if she won, to assume office.

Since the petitioner seasonably filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of the Second A petition for quo warranto in the HRET is directed against one who has been duly elected
Division suspending his proclamation and disqualifying him, the COMELEC en banc was not and proclaimed for having obtained the highest number of votes but whose eligibility is in
divested of its jurisdiction to review the validity of the said Order of the Second Division. The question at the time of such proclamation. It is evident that respondent Locsin cannot be the
said Order of the Second Division was yet unenforceable as it has not attained finality; the subject of quo warranto proceeding in the HRET. She lost the elections to the petitioner by a
timely filing of the motion for reconsideration suspends its execution. It cannot, thus, be used wide margin. Her proclamation was a patent nullity. Her premature assumption to office as
as the basis for the assumption in office of the respondent as the duly elected Representative Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte was void from the beginning. It is the
of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. height of absurdity for the respondent, as a loser, to tell petitioner Codilla, Sr., the winner, to
unseat her via a quo warranto proceeding.
Second. It is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) which has no
jurisdiction in the instant case. III

Respondent contends that having been proclaimed and having taken oath as representative Whether it is the ministerial duty of the public respondents to
of the 4th legislative district of Leyte, any question relative to her election and eligibility should
be brought before the HRET pursuant to section 17 of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. 109 recognize petitioner Codilla, Sr. as the legally elected Representative

We reject respondent's contention. of the 4th legislative district of Leyte vice respondent Locsin.
Under Rule 65, section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, any person may file a verified Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago,
petition for mandamus "when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ.,
neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from concur.
an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a Carpio, J., no part.
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."112 For a petition for mandamus to prosper, it must be
shown that the subject of the petition for mandamus is a ministerial act or duty, and not
purely discretionary on the part of the board, officer or person, and that the petitioner has a
well-defined, clear and certain right to warrant the grant thereof.

The distinction between a ministerial and discretionary act is well delineated. A purely
ministerial act or duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a
prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the
exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. If the law
imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide how or when the duty
shall be performed, such duty is discretionary and not ministerial. The duty is ministerial only
when the discharge of the same requires neither the exercise of official discretion or
judgment.113

In the case at bar, the administration of oath and the registration of the petitioner in the Roll of
Members of the House of Representatives representing the 4th legislative district of Leyte is
no longer a matter of discretion on the part of the public respondents. The facts are settled
and beyond dispute: petitioner garnered 71,350 votes as against respondent Locsin who only
got 53, 447 votes in the May 14, 2001 elections. The COMELEC Second Division initially
ordered the proclamation of respondent Locsin; on Motion for Reconsideration the COMELEC
en banc set aside the order of its Second Division and ordered the proclamation of the
petitioner. The Decision of the COMELEC en banc has not been challenged before this Court
by respondent Locsin and said Decision has become final and executory.

In sum, the issue of who is the rightful Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte
has been finally settled by the COMELEC en banc, the constitutional body with jurisdiction on
the matter. The rule of law demands that its Decision be obeyed by all officials of the
land. There is no alternative to the rule of law except the reign of chaos and
confusion.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition for Mandamus is granted. Public Speaker of the House of
Representatives shall administer the oath of petitioner EUFROCINO M. CODILLA, SR., as the
duly-elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. Public respondent
Secretary-General shall likewise register the name of the petitioner in the Roll of Members of
the House of Representatives after he has taken his oath of office. This decision shall be
immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.
3. ANNULLING the election and proclamation of respondent Barbara C. Talaga as
mayor of Lucena City and CANCELLING the Certificate of Canvass and
Republic of the Philippines Proclamation issued therefor;
SUPREME COURT
Manila 4. Ordering respondent Barbara Ruby Talaga to cease and desist from discharging
the functions of the Office of the Mayor;
EN BANC
5. In view of the permanent vacancy in the Office of the Mayor of Lucena City, the
G.R. No. 196804 October 9, 2012 proclaimed Vice-Mayor is ORDERED to succeed as Mayor as provided under
Section 44 of the Local Government Code;
MAYOR BARBARA RUBY C. TALAGA, Petitioner,
vs. 6. DIRECTING the Clerk of Court of the Commission to furnish copies of this
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and RODERICK A. ALCALA, Respondents. Resolution to the Office of the President of the Philippines, the Department of
Interior and Local Government, the Department of Finance and the Secretary of the
Sangguniang Panglunsod of Lucena City.
x-----------------------x

Let the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Regional Election Director of
G.R. No. 197015
Region IV of COMELEC implement this resolution.
PHILIP M. CASTILLO, Petitioner,
SO ORDERED.1
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, BARBARA RUBY TALAGA and RODERICK A.
ALCALA, Respondents. Antecedents

DECISION On November 26, 2009 and December 1, 2009, Ramon Talaga (Ramon) and Philip M. Castillo
(Castillo) respectively filed their certificates of candidacy (CoCs) for the position of Mayor of
Lucena City to be contested in the scheduled May 10, 2010 national and local elections. 2
BERSAMIN, J.:

Ramon, the official candidate of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, 3 declared in his CoC that he was
In focus in these consolidated special civil actions are the disqualification of a substitute who
eligible for the office he was seeking to be elected to.
was proclaimed the winner of a mayoralty election; and the ascertainment of who should
assume the office following the substitute’s disqualification.
Four days later, or on December 5, 2009, Castillo filed with the COMELEC a petition
denominated as In the Matter of the Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of
The consolidated petitions for certiorari seek to annul and set aside the En Banc Resolution
Candidacy of Ramon Y. Talaga, Jr. as Mayor for Having Already Served Three (3) Consecutive
issued on May 20, 2011 in SPC No. 10-024 by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the
Terms as a City Mayor of Lucena, which was docketed as SPA 09-029 (DC). 4 He alleged
dispositive portion of which states:

therein that Ramon, despite knowing that he had been elected and had served three
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
consecutive terms as Mayor of Lucena City, still filed his CoC for Mayor of Lucena City in the
May 10, 2010 national and local elections.
1. REVERSING and SETTING ASIDE the January 11, 2011 Resolution of the
Second Division;
The pertinent portions of Castillo’s petition follow:
2. GRANTING the petition in intervention of Roderick A. Alcala;
1. Petitioner is of legal age, Filipino, married, and a resident of Barangay Mayao
Crossing, Lucena City but may be served with summons and other processes of this
Commission at the address of his counsel at 624 Aurora Blvd., Lucena City 4301;
2. Respondent Ramon Y. Talaga, Jr. is likewise of legal age, married, and a resident WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed that the Certificate of Candidacy
of Barangay Ibabang Iyam, Lucena City and with postal address at the Office of the filed by the respondent be denied due course to or cancel the same and that he be declared
City Mayor, City Hall, Lucena City, where he may be served with summons and as a disqualified candidate under the existing Election Laws and by the provisions of the New
other processes of this Commission; Local Government Code.6 (Emphasis supplied.)

3. Petitioner, the incumbent city vice-mayor of Lucena having been elected during Ramon countered that that the Sandiganbayan had preventively suspended him from office
the 2007 local elections, is running for city mayor of Lucena under the Liberal party during his second and third terms; and that the three-term limit rule did not then apply to him
this coming 10 May 2010 local elections and has filed his certificate of candidacy for pursuant to the prevailing jurisprudence7 to the effect that an involuntary separation from office
city mayor of Lucena; amounted to an interruption of continuity of service for purposes of the application of the
three-term limit rule.
4. Respondent was successively elected mayor of Lucena City in 2001, 2004, and
2007 local elections based on the records of the Commission on Elections of In the meantime, on December 23, 2009, the Court promulgated the ruling in Aldovino, Jr. v.
Lucena City and had fully served the aforesaid three (3) terms without any voluntary Commission on Elections,8 holding that preventive suspension, being a mere temporary
and involuntary interruption; incapacity, was not a valid ground for avoiding the effect of the three-term limit rule. Thus, on
December 30, 2009, Ramon filed in the COMELEC a Manifestation with Motion to Resolve,
5. Except the preventive suspension imposed upon him from 13 October 2005 to 14 taking into account the intervening ruling in Aldovino. Relevant portions of his Manifestation
November 2005 and from 4 September 2009 to 30 October 2009 pursuant to with Motion to Resolve are quoted herein, viz:
Sandiganbayan 4th Division Resolution in Criminal Case No. 27738 dated 3
October 2005, the public service as city mayor of the respondent is continuous and 4. When respondent filed his certificate of candidacy for the position of Mayor of Lucena City,
uninterrupted under the existing laws and jurisprudence; the rule that ‘where the separation from office is caused by reasons beyond the control of the
officer – i.e. involuntary – the service of term is deemed interrupted’ has not yet been
6. There is no law nor jurisprudence to justify the filing of the certificate of candidacy overturned by the new ruling of the Supreme Court. As a matter of fact, the prevailing rule
of the respondent, hence, such act is outrightly unconstitutional, illegal, and highly then of the Honorable Commission in [sic] respect of the three (3)-term limitation was its
immoral; decision in the case of Aldovino, et al. vs. Asilo where it stated:

7. Respondent, knowing well that he was elected for and had fully served three (3) "Thus, even if respondent was elected during the 2004 elections, which was supposedly his
consecutive terms as a city mayor of Lucena, he still filed his Certificate of third and final term as city councilor, the same cannot be treated as a complete service or full
Candidacy for City Mayor of Lucena for this coming 10 May 2010 national and local term in office since the same was interrupted when he was suspended by the Sandiganbayan
elections; Fourth Division. And the respondent actually heeded the suspension order since he did not
receive his salary during the period October 16-31 and November 1-15 by reason of his actual
suspension from office. And this was further bolstered by the fact that the DILG issued a
8. Under the Constitution and existing Election Laws, New Local Government Code
of the Philippines, and jurisprudence the respondent is no longer entitled and is
already disqualified to be a city mayor for the fourth consecutive term; Memorandum directing him, among others, to reassume his position." (Emphasis supplied.)

9. The filing of the respondent for the position of city mayor is highly improper, 5. Clearly, there was no misrepresentation on the part of respondent as would constitute a
unlawful and is potentially injurious and prejudicial to taxpayers of the City of ground for the denial of due course to and/or the cancellation of respondent’s certificate of
Lucena; and candidacy at the time he filed the same. Petitioner’s ground for the denial of due course to
and/or the cancellation of respondent’s certificate of candidacy thus has no basis, in fact and
in law, as there is no ground to warrant such relief under the Omnibus Election Code and/or its
10. It is most respectfully prayed by the petitioner that the respondent be declared
implementing laws.
disqualified and no longer entitled to run in public office as city mayor of Lucena City
based on the existing law and jurisprudence.5
6. Pursuant, however, to the new ruling of the Supreme Court in respect of the issue on the
three (3)-term limitation, respondent acknowledges that he is now DISQUALIFIED to run for
The petition prayed for the following reliefs, to wit:
the position of Mayor of Lucena City having served three (3) (albeit interrupted) terms as
Mayor of Lucena City prior to the filing of his certificate of candidacy for the 2010 elections.
7. In view of the foregoing premises and new jurisprudence on the matter, respondent substitution three days after the elections; hence, the votes cast for Ramon should be
respectfully submits the present case for decision declaring him as DISQUALIFIED to run for considered stray.
the position of Mayor of Lucena City.9
In her Comment on the Petition for Annulment of Proclamation, 21 Barbara Ruby maintained the
Notwithstanding his express recognition of his disqualification to run as Mayor of Lucena City validity of her substitution. She countered that the COMELEC En Banc did not deny due
in the May 10, 2010 national and local elections, Ramon did not withdraw his CoC. course to or cancel Ramon’s COC, despite a declaration of his disqualification, because there
was no finding that he had committed misrepresentation, the ground for the denial of due
Acting on Ramon’s Manifestation with Motion to Resolve, the COMELEC First Division issued course to or cancellation of his COC. She prayed that with her valid substitution, Section 12 of
a Resolution on April 19, 2010,10 disposing as follows: Republic Act No. 900622 applied, based on which the votes cast for Ramon were properly
counted in her favor.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly,
Ramon Y. Talaga, Jr. is hereby declared DISQUALIFIED to run for Mayor of Lucena City for On July 26, 2010, Roderick Alcala (Alcala), the duly-elected Vice Mayor of Lucena City,
the 10 May 2010 National and Local Elections. sought to intervene,23positing that he should assume the post of Mayor because Barbara
Ruby’s substitution had been invalid and Castillo had clearly lost the elections.
SO ORDERED.
On January 11, 2011, the COMELEC Second Division dismissed Castillo’s petition and
Alcala’s petition-in-intervention,24 holding:
Initially, Ramon filed his Verified Motion for Reconsideration against the April 19, 2010
Resolution of the COMELEC First Division.11 Later on, however, he filed at 9:00 a.m. of May 4,
2010 an Ex-parte Manifestation of Withdrawal of the Pending Motion for Reconsideration. 12 At In the present case, Castillo was notified of Resolution 8917 on May 13, 2010 as it was the
4:30 p.m. on the same date, Barbara Ruby filed her own CoC for Mayor of Lucena City in basis for the proclamation of Ruby on that date. He, however, failed to file any action within
substitution of Ramon, attaching thereto the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance the prescribed period either in the Commission or the Supreme Court assailing the said
(CONA) issued by Lakas-Kampi-CMD, the party that had nominated Ramon. 13 resolution. Thus, the said resolution has become final and executory. It cannot anymore be
altered or reversed.
On May 5, 2010, the COMELEC En Banc, acting on Ramon’s Ex parte Manifestation of
Withdrawal, declared the COMELEC First Division’s Resolution dated April 19, 2010 final and xxxx
executory.14
x x x. A close perusal of the petition filed by Castillo in SPA 10-029 (Dc) shows that it was
On election day on May 10, 2010, the name of Ramon remained printed on the ballots but the actually for the disqualification of Ramon for having served three consecutive terms, which is
votes cast in his favor were counted in favor of Barbara Ruby as his substitute candidate, a ground for his disqualification under the Constitution in relation to Section 4(b)3 of
resulting in Barbara Ruby being ultimately credited with 44,099 votes as against Castillo’s Resolution 8696. There was no mention therein that Ramon has committed material
39,615 votes.15 representation that would be a ground for the cancellation or denial of due course to the CoC
of Ramon under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. The First Division, in fact, treated
the petition as one for disqualification as gleaned from the body of the resolution and its
Castillo promptly filed a petition in the City Board of Canvassers (CBOC) seeking the
dispositive portion quoted above. This treatment of the First Division of the petition as one for
suspension of Barbara Ruby’s proclamation.16
disqualification only is affirmed by the fact that its members signed Resolution No. 8917 where
it was clearly stated that the First Division only disqualified Ramon.
It was only on May 13, 2010 when the COMELEC En Banc, upon the recommendation of its
Law Department,17gave due course to Barbara Ruby’s CoC and CONA through Resolution
Having been disqualified only, the doctrine laid down in Miranda v. Abaya is not applicable.
No. 8917, thereby including her in the certified list of candidates. 18 Consequently, the CBOC
Ramon was rightly substituted by Ruby. As such, the votes for Ramon cannot be considered
proclaimed Barbara Ruby as the newly-elected Mayor of Lucena City.19
as stray votes but should be counted in favor of Ruby since the substituted and the substitute
carry the same surname – Talaga, as provided in Section 12 of Republic Act No. 9006.
On May 20, 2010, Castillo filed a Petition for Annulment of Proclamation with the
COMELEC,20 docketed as SPC 10-024. He alleged that Barbara Ruby could not substitute
xxxx
Ramon because his CoC had been cancelled and denied due course; and Barbara Ruby
could not be considered a candidate because the COMELEC En Banc had approved her
Moreover, there is no provision in the Omnibus Election Code or any election laws for that Existence of a valid CoC is a condition
matter which requires that the substitution and the Certificate of Candidacy of the substitute sine qua non for a valid substitution
should be approved and given due course first by the Commission or the Law Department
before it can be considered as effective. All that Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code as The filing of a CoC within the period provided by law is a mandatory requirement for any
implemented by Section 13 of Resolution No. 8678 requires is that it should be filed with the person to be considered a candidate in a national or local election. This is clear from Section
proper office. The respondent is correct when she argued that in fact even the BEI can receive 73 of the Omnibus Election Code, to wit:
a CoC of a substitute candidate in case the cause for the substitution happened between the
day before the election and mid-day of election day. Thus, even if the approval of the Section 73. Certificate of candidacy — No person shall be eligible for any elective public office
substitution was made after the election, the substitution became effective on the date of the unless he files a sworn certificate of candidacy within the period fixed herein.
filing of the CoC with the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance.
Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code specifies the contents of a COC, viz:
There being no irregularity in the substitution by Ruby of Ramon as candidate for mayor of
Lucena City, the counting of the votes of Ramon in favor of Ruby is proper. The proclamation,
thus, of Ruby as mayor elect of Lucena City is in order. Hence, we find no cogent reason to Section 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy.—The certificate of candidacy shall state that
annul the proclamation of respondent Barbara Ruby C. Talaga as the duly elected Mayor of the person filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is
the City of Lucena after the elections conducted on May 10, 2010. 25 eligible for said office; if for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the province, including its
component cities, highly urbanized city or district or sector which he seeks to represent; the
political party to which he belongs; civil status; his date of birth; residence; his post office
Acting on Castillo and Alcala’s respective motions for reconsideration, the COMELEC En address for all election purposes; his profession or occupation; that he will support and defend
Banc issued the assailed Resolution dated May 20, 2011 reversing the COMELEC Second the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that he
Division’s ruling.26 will obey the laws, legal orders, and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities;
that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that the obligation
Pointing out that: (a) Resolution No. 8917 did not attain finality for being issued without a imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion;
hearing as a mere incident of the COMELEC’s ministerial duty to receive the COCs of and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge. x
substitute candidates; (b) Resolution No. 8917 was based on the wrong facts; and (c) xx
Ramon’s disqualification was resolved with finality only on May 5, 2010, the COMELEC En
Banc concluded that Barbara Ruby could not have properly substituted Ramon but had simply The evident purposes of the requirement for the filing of CoCs and in fixing the time limit for
become an additional candidate who had filed her COC out of time; and held that Vice Mayor filing them are, namely: (a) to enable the voters to know, at least 60 days prior to the regular
Alcala should succeed to the position pursuant to Section 44 of the Local Government Code election, the candidates from among whom they are to make the choice; and (b) to avoid
(LGC).27 confusion and inconvenience in the tabulation of the votes cast. If the law does not confine to
the duly-registered candidates the choice by the voters, there may be as many persons voted
Issues for as there are voters, and votes may be cast even for unknown or fictitious persons as a
mark to identify the votes in favor of a candidate for another office in the same
The core issue involves the validity of the substitution by Barbara Ruby as candidate for the election.28 Moreover, according to Sinaca v. Mula,29 the CoC is:
position of Mayor of Lucena City in lieu of Ramon, her husband.
x x x in the nature of a formal manifestation to the whole world of the candidate’s political
Ancillary to the core issue is the determination of who among the contending parties should creed or lack of political creed. It is a statement of a person seeking to run for a public office
assume the contested elective position. certifying that he announces his candidacy for the office mentioned and that he is eligible for
the office, the name of the political party to which he belongs, if he belongs to any, and his
Ruling post-office address for all election purposes being as well stated.

The petitions lack merit. Accordingly, a person’s declaration of his intention to run for public office and his affirmation
that he possesses the eligibility for the position he seeks to assume, followed by the timely
filing of such declaration, constitute a valid CoC that render the person making the declaration
1.
a valid or official candidate.
There are two remedies available to prevent a candidate from running in an electoral race. subdivision where he is a candidate, or, in the case of candidates to be voted for by the entire
One is through a petition for disqualification and the other through a petition to deny due electorate of the country, with the Commission.
course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. The Court differentiated the two remedies in
Fermin v. Commission on Elections,30 thuswise: Nonetheless, whether the ground for substitution is death, withdrawal or disqualification of a
candidate, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code unequivocally states that only an official
x x x A petition for disqualification, on the one hand, can be premised on Section 12 or 68 of candidate of a registered or accredited party may be substituted.
the Omnibus Election Code, or Section 40 of the Local Government Code. On the other hand,
a petition to deny due course to or cancel a CoC can only be grounded on a statement of a Considering that a cancelled CoC does not give rise to a valid candidacy,33 there can be no
material representation in the said certificate that is false. The petitions also have different valid substitution of the candidate under Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code. It should
effects. While a person who is disqualified under Section 68 is merely prohibited to continue be clear, too, that a candidate who does not file a valid CoC may not be validly substituted,
as a candidate, the person whose certificate is cancelled or denied due course under Section because a person without a valid CoC is not considered a candidate in much the same way as
78 is not treated as a candidate at all, as if he/she never filed a CoC. 31 any person who has not filed a CoC is not at all a candidate. 34

Inasmuch as the grounds for disqualification under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code Likewise, a candidate who has not withdrawn his CoC in accordance with Section 73 of the
(i.e., prohibited acts of candidates, and the fact of a candidate’s permanent residency in Omnibus Election Code may not be substituted. A withdrawal of candidacy can only give effect
another country when that fact affects the residency requirement of a candidate) are separate to a substitution if the substitute candidate submits prior to the election a sworn CoC as
and distinct from the grounds for the cancellation of or denying due course to a COC (i.e., required by Section 73 of the Omnibus Election Code. 35
nuisance candidates under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code; and material
misrepresentation under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code), the Court has recognized 2.
in Miranda v. Abaya32that the following circumstances may result from the granting of the
petitions, to wit:
Declaration of Ramon’s disqualification
rendered his CoC invalid; hence, he was not
(1) A candidate may not be qualified to run for election but may have filed a valid a valid candidate to be properly substituted
CoC;
In the light of the foregoing rules on the CoC, the Court concurs with the conclusion of the
(2) A candidate may not be qualified and at the same time may not have filed a valid COMELEC En Banc that the Castillo petition in SPA 09-029 (DC) was in the nature of a
CoC; and petition to deny due course to or cancel a CoC under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election
Code.
(3) A candidate may be qualified but his CoC may be denied due course or
cancelled. In describing the nature of a Section 78 petition, the Court said in Fermin v. Commission on
Elections:36
In the event that a candidate is disqualified to run for a public office, or dies, or withdraws his
CoC before the elections, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code provides the option of Lest it be misunderstood, the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not
substitution, to wit: based on the lack of qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material
representation that is false, which may relate to the qualifications required of the public office
Section 77. Candidates in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal. — If after the last day he/she is running for. It is noted that the candidate states in his/her CoC that he/she is eligible
for the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the OEC, therefore, is to be read in relation to the
political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications or eligibility for public office. If the
certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate candidate subsequently states a material representation in the CoC that is false, the
who died, withdrew or was disqualified. The substitute candidate nominated by the political COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to or cancel such certificate.
party concerned may file his certificate of candidacy for the office affected in accordance with Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78 to a quo warranto
the preceding sections not later than mid-day of the day of the election. If the death, proceeding under Section 253 of the OEC since they both deal with the eligibility or
withdrawal or disqualification should occur between the day before the election and mid-day of qualification of a candidate, with the distinction mainly in the fact that a "Section 78" petition is
election day, said certificate may be filed with any board of election inspectors in the political filed before proclamation, while a petition for quo warranto is filed after proclamation of the
winning candidate.
Castillo’s petition contained essential allegations pertaining to a Section 78 petition, namely: consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be
(a) Ramon made a false representation in his CoC; (b) the false representation referred to a considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was
material matter that would affect the substantive right of Ramon as candidate (that is, the right elected.
to run for the election for which he filed his certificate); and (c) Ramon made the false
representation with the intention to deceive the electorate as to his qualification for public Section 43 of the Local Government Code reiterates the constitutional three-term limit for all
office or deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise elective local officials, to wit:
render him ineligible.37 The petition expressly challenged Ramon’s eligibility for public office
based on the prohibition stated in the Constitution and the Local Government Code against Section 43. Term of Office. – (a) x x x
any person serving three consecutive terms, and specifically prayed that "the Certificate of
Candidacy filed by the respondent Ramon be denied due course to or cancel the same and
that he be declared as a disqualified candidate."38 (b) No local elective official shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms in the same
position. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as
an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official
The denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC under Section 78 involves a finding concerned was elected. (Emphasis supplied.)
not only that a person lacks a qualification but also that he made a material representation
that is false.39 A petition for the denial of due course to or cancellation of CoC that is short of
the requirements will not be granted. In Mitra v. Commission on Elections, 40 the Court stressed The objective of imposing the three-term limit rule was "to avoid the evil of a single person
that there must also be a deliberate attempt to mislead, thus: accumulating excessive power over a particular territorial jurisdiction as a result of a
prolonged stay in the same office." The Court underscored this objective in Aldovino, Jr. v.
Commission on Elections,44 stating:
The false representation under Section 78 must likewise be a "deliberate attempt to mislead,
misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise render a candidate ineligible." Given the
purpose of the requirement, it must be made with the intention to deceive the electorate as to x x x The framers of the Constitution specifically included an exception to the people’s
the would-be candidate’s qualifications for public office. Thus, the misrepresentation that freedom to choose those who will govern them in order to avoid the evil of a single person
Section 78 addresses cannot be the result of a mere innocuous mistake, and cannot exist in a accumulating excessive power over a particular territorial jurisdiction as a result of a
situation where the intent to deceive is patently absent, or where no deception on the prolonged stay in the same office. To allow petitioner Latasa to vie for the position of city
electorate results. The deliberate character of the misrepresentation necessarily follows from mayor after having served for three consecutive terms as a municipal mayor would obviously
a consideration of the consequences of any material falsity: a candidate who falsifies a defeat the very intent of the framers when they wrote this exception. Should he be allowed
material fact cannot run; if he runs and is elected, he cannot serve; in both cases, he can be another three consecutive terms as mayor of the City of Digos, petitioner would then be
prosecuted for violation of the election laws. possibly holding office as chief executive over the same territorial jurisdiction and inhabitants
for a total of eighteen consecutive years. This is the very scenario sought to be avoided by the
Constitution, if not abhorred by it.
It is underscored, however, that a Section 78 petition should not be interchanged or confused
with a Section 68 petition. The remedies under the two sections are different, for they are
based on different grounds, and can result in different eventualities. 41 A person who is To accord with the constitutional and statutory proscriptions, Ramon was absolutely precluded
disqualified under Section 68 is prohibited to continue as a candidate, but a person whose from asserting an eligibility to run as Mayor of Lucena City for the fourth consecutive term.
CoC is cancelled or denied due course under Section 78 is not considered as a candidate at Resultantly, his CoC was invalid and ineffectual ab initio for containing the incurable defect
all because his status is that of a person who has not filed a CoC. 42 Miranda v. Abaya43 has consisting in his false declaration of his eligibility to run. The invalidity and inefficacy of his
clarified that a candidate who is disqualified under Section 68 can be validly substituted CoC made his situation even worse than that of a nuisance candidate because the nuisance
pursuant to Section 77 because he remains a candidate until disqualified; but a person whose candidate may remain eligible despite cancellation of his CoC or despite the denial of due
CoC has been denied due course or cancelled under Section 78 cannot be substituted course to the CoC pursuant to Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code. 45
because he is not considered a candidate.1âwphi1
Ramon himself specifically admitted his ineligibility when he filed his Manifestation with Motion
To be sure, the cause of Ramon’s ineligibility (i.e., the three-term limit) is enforced both by the to Resolve on December 30, 2009 in the COMELEC. 46 That sufficed to render his CoC invalid,
Constitution and statutory law. Article X, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution provides: considering that for all intents and purposes the COMELEC’s declaration of his disqualification
had the effect of announcing that he was no candidate at all.
Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be
determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three We stress that a non-candidate like Ramon had no right to pass on to his substitute. As
Miranda v. Abaya aptly put it:
Even on the most basic and fundamental principles, it is readily understood that the concept of Other reliefs just and equitable in the premises are likewise prayed for.
a substitute presupposes the existence of the person to be substituted, for how can a person
take the place of somebody who does not exist or who never was. The Court has no other (Rollo, p. 31; Emphasis ours.)
choice but to rule that in all the instances enumerated in Section 77 of the Omnibus Election
Code, the existence of a valid certificate of candidacy seasonably filed is a requisite sine qua In resolving the petition filed by private respondent specifying a very particular relief, the
non. Comelec ruled favorably in the following manner:

All told, a disqualified candidate may only be substituted if he had a valid certificate of WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Commission (FIRST DIVISION) GRANTS the
candidacy in the first place because, if the disqualified candidate did not have a valid and Petition. Respondent JOSE "Pempe" MIRANDA is hereby DISQUALIFIED from running for
seasonably filed certificate of candidacy, he is and was not a candidate at all. If a person was the position of mayor of Santiago City, Isabela, in the May 11, 1998 national and local
not a candidate, he cannot be substituted under Section 77 of the Code. Besides, if we were elections.
to allow the so-called "substitute" to file a "new" and "original" certificate of candidacy beyond
the period for the filing thereof, it would be a crystalline case of unequal protection of the law,
an act abhorred by our Constitution.47 (Emphasis supplied) SO ORDERED.

3. (p.43, Rollo; Emphasis ours.)

Granting without any qualification of petition in From a plain reading of the dispositive portion of the Comelec resolution of May 5, 1998 in
SPA No. 09-029(DC) manifested COMELEC’s intention to SPA No. 98-019, it is sufficiently clear that the prayer specifically and particularly sought in the
declare Ramon disqualified and to cancel his CoC petition was GRANTED, there being no qualification on the matter whatsoever. The
disqualification was simply ruled over and above the granting of the specific prayer for denial
of due course and cancellation of the certificate of candidacy. x x x. 49
That the COMELEC made no express finding that Ramon committed any deliberate
misrepresentation in his CoC was of little consequence in the determination of whether his
CoC should be deemed cancelled or not. xxxx

In Miranda v. Abaya,48 the specific relief that the petition prayed for was that the CoC "be not x x x. There is no dispute that the complaint or petition filed by private respondent in SPA No.
given due course and/or cancelled." The COMELEC categorically granted "the petition" and 98-019 is one to deny due course and to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Jose "Pempe"
then pronounced — in apparent contradiction — that Joel Pempe Miranda was "disqualified." Miranda (Rollo, pp. 26-31). There is likewise no question that the said petition was GRANTED
The without any qualification whatsoever. It is rather clear, therefore, that whether or not the
Comelec granted any further relief in SPA No. 98-019 by disqualifying the candidate, the fact
remains that the said petition was granted and that the certificate of candidacy of Jose
Court held that the COMELEC, by granting the petition without any qualification, disqualified "Pempe" Miranda was denied due course and cancelled. x x x. 50
Joel Pempe Miranda and at the same time cancelled Jose Pempe Miranda’s CoC. The Court
explained:
The crucial point of Miranda v. Abaya was that the COMELEC actually granted the particular
relief of cancelling or denying due course to the CoC prayed for in the petition by not
The question to settle next is whether or not aside from Joel "Pempe" Miranda being subjecting that relief to any qualification.
disqualified by the Comelec in its May 5, 1998 resolution, his certificate of candidacy had
likewise been denied due course and cancelled.
Miranda v. Abaya applies herein. Although Castillo’s petition in SPA No. 09-029 (DC)
specifically sought both the disqualification of Ramon and the denial of due course to or
The Court rules that it was. cancellation of his CoC, the COMELEC categorically stated in the Resolution dated April 19,
2010 that it was granting the petition. Despite the COMELEC making no finding of material
Private respondent’s petition in SPA No. 98-019 specifically prayed for the following: misrepresentation on the part of Ramon, its granting of Castillo’s petition without express
qualifications manifested that the COMELEC had cancelled Ramon’s CoC based on his
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Certificate of Candidacy filed by respondent apparent ineligibility. The Resolution dated April 19, 2010 became final and executory
for the position of Mayor for the City of Santiago be not given due course and/or cancelled.
because Castillo did not move for its reconsideration, and because Ramon later withdrew his sentence of Section 6. The second is when the disqualification becomes final after the
motion for reconsideration filed in relation to it. elections, which is the situation covered in the second sentence of Section 6.

4. The present case falls under the first situation. Section 6 of the Electoral Reforms Law
governing the first situation is categorical: a candidate disqualified by final judgment before an
Elected Vice Mayor must succeed election cannot be voted for, and votes cast for him shall not be counted. The Resolution
and assume the position of Mayor disqualifying Cayat became final on 17 April 2004, way before the 10 May 2004 elections.
due to a permanent vacancy in the office Therefore, all the 8,164 votes cast in Cayat’s favor are stray. Cayat was never a candidate in
the 10 May 2004 elections. Palileng’s proclamation is proper because he was the sole and
only candidate, second to none.54
On the issue of who should assume the office of Mayor of Lucena City, Castillo submits that
the doctrine on the rejection of the second-placer espoused in Labo, Jr. v. Commission on
Elections51 should not apply to him because Ramon’s disqualification became final prior to the Relying on the pronouncement in Cayat, Castillo asserts that he was entitled to assume the
elections.52 Instead, he cites Cayat v. Commission on Elections,53where the Court said: position of Mayor of Lucena City for having obtained the highest number of votes among the
remaining qualified candidates.
x x x In Labo there was no final judgment of disqualification before the elections. The doctrine
on the rejection of the second placer was applied in Labo and a host of other cases because It would seem, then, that the date of the finality of the COMELEC resolution declaring Ramon
the judgment declaring the candidate’s disqualification in Labo and the other cases had not disqualified is decisive. According to Section 10, Rule 19 of the COMELEC’s Resolution No.
become final before the elections. To repeat, Labo and the other cases applying the doctrine 8804,55 a decision or resolution of a Division becomes final and executory after the lapse of
on the rejection of the second placer have one common essential condition — the five days following its promulgation unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed.
disqualification of the candidate had not become final before the elections. This essential Under Section 8, Rule 20 of Resolution No. 8804, the decision of the COMELEC En Banc
condition does not exist in the present case. becomes final and executory five days after its promulgation and receipt of notice by the
parties.
Thus, in Labo, Labo’s disqualification became final only on 14 May 1992, three days after the
11 May 1992 elections. On election day itself, Labo was still legally a candidate. In the present The COMELEC First Division declared Ramon disqualified through its Resolution dated April
case, Cayat was disqualified by final judgment 23 days before the 10 May 2004 elections. On 19, 2010, the copy of which Ramon received on the same date. 56 Ramon filed a motion for
election day, Cayat was no longer legally a candidate for mayor. In short, Cayat’s candidacy reconsideration on April 21, 201057 in accordance with Section 7 of COMELEC Resolution No.
for Mayor of Buguias, Benguet was legally non-existent in the 10 May 2004 elections. 8696,58 but withdrew the motion on May 4, 2010,59ostensibly to allow his substitution by
Barbara Ruby. On his part, Castillo did not file any motion for reconsideration. Such
circumstances indicated that there was no more pending matter that could have effectively
The law expressly declares that a candidate disqualified by final judgment before an election
suspended the finality of the ruling in due course. Hence, the Resolution dated April 19, 2010
cannot be voted for, and votes cast for him shall not be counted. This is a mandatory provision
could be said to have attained finality upon the lapse of five days from its promulgation and
of law. Section 6 of Republic Act No. 6646, The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987, states:
receipt of it by the parties. This happened probably on April 24, 2010. Despite such finality, the
COMELEC En Banc continued to act on the withdrawal by Ramon of his motion for
Sec. 6. Effect of Disqualification Case.— Any candidate who has been declared by final reconsideration through the May 5, 2010 Resolution declaring the April 19, 2010 Resolution of
judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be the COMELEC First Division final and executory.

counted. If for any reason a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to Yet, we cannot agree with Castillo’s assertion that with Ramon’s disqualification becoming
be disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, final prior to the May 10, 2010 elections, the ruling in Cayat was applicable in his favor.
the Court or Commission shall continue with the trial and hearing of the action, inquiry, or Barbara Ruby’s filing of her CoC in substitution of Ramon significantly differentiated this case
protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any intervenor, may during the pendency from the factual circumstances obtaining in Cayat. Rev. Fr. Nardo B. Cayat, the petitioner in
thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the evidence of Cayat, was disqualified on April 17, 2004, and his disqualification became final before the May
his guilt is strong. (Emphasis added) 10, 2004 elections. Considering that no substitution of Cayat was made, Thomas R. Palileng,
Sr., his rival, remained the only candidate for the mayoralty post in Buguias, Benguet. In
Section 6 of the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987 covers two situations. The first is when the contrast, after Barbara Ruby substituted Ramon, the May 10, 2010 elections proceeded with
disqualification becomes final before the elections, which is the situation covered in the first her being regarded by the electorate of Lucena City as a bona fide candidate. To the
electorate, she became a contender for the same position vied for by Castillo, such that she WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the petitions in these consolidated cases; AFFIRMS the
stood on the same footing as Castillo. Such standing as a candidate negated Castillo’s claim Resolution issued on May 20, 2011 by the COMELEC En Banc; and ORDERS the petitioners
of being the candidate who obtained the highest number of votes, and of being consequently to pay the costs of suit.
entitled to assume the office of Mayor.
SO ORDERED.
Indeed, Castillo could not assume the office for he was only a second placer.1âwphi1 Labo,
Jr. should be applied. There, the Court emphasized that the candidate obtaining the second LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
highest number of votes for the contested office could not assume the office despite the Associate Justice
disqualification of the first placer because the second placer was "not the choice of the
sovereign will."60 Surely, the Court explained, a minority or defeated candidate could not be
deemed elected to the office.61 There was to be no question that the second placer lost in the
election, was repudiated by the electorate, and could not assume the vacated position. 62 No
law imposed upon and compelled the people of Lucena City to accept a loser to be their
political leader or their representative.63

The only time that a second placer is allowed to take the place of a disqualified winning
candidate is when two requisites concur, namely: (a) the candidate who obtained the highest
number of votes is disqualified; and (b) the electorate was fully aware in fact and in law of that
candidate’s disqualification as to bring such awareness within the realm of notoriety but the
electorate still cast the plurality of the votes in favor of the ineligible candidate. 64 Under this
sole exception, the electorate may be said to have waived the validity and efficacy of their
votes by notoriously misapplying their franchise or throwing away their votes, in which case
the eligible candidate with the second highest number of votes may be deemed elected. 65 But
the exception did not apply in favor of Castillo simply because the second element was
absent. The electorate of Lucena City were not the least aware of the fact of Barbara Ruby’s
ineligibility as the substitute. In fact, the COMELEC En Banc issued the Resolution finding her
substitution invalid only on May 20, 2011, or a full year after the decisions.

On the other hand, the COMELEC En Banc properly disqualified Barbara Ruby from
assuming the position of Mayor of Lucena City. To begin with, there was no valid candidate for
her to substitute due to Ramon’s ineligibility. Also, Ramon did not voluntarily withdraw his CoC
before the elections in accordance with Section 73 of the Omnibus Election Code. Lastly, she
was not an additional candidate for the position of Mayor of Lucena City because her filing of
her CoC on May 4, 2010 was beyond the period fixed by law. Indeed, she was not, in law and
in fact, a candidate.66

A permanent vacancy in the office of Mayor of Lucena City thus resulted, and such vacancy
should be filled pursuant to the law on succession defined in Section 44 of the LGC, to wit: 67

Section 44. Permanent Vacancies in the Offices of the Governor, Vice-Governor, Mayor, and
Vice-Mayor. – If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the governor or mayor, the vice-
governor or vice-mayor concerned shall become the governor or mayor. x x x