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Exercising Good Governance at the Local Level – Elective Officials b.

b. Rodriguez sought consideration of the decision attaching a certification from


G.R. No. 120099 – Rodriguez vs. COMELEC (July 24, 1996) the Commission on Immigration showing that he left the US 5 months prior to
Francisco, J. the institution of the criminal complaint in the LA Municipal Court; but this was
denied.
Eduardo T. Rodriguez was a candidate for Governor in the Province of Quezon in the May 6. Rodriguez and Marquez both ran again for Governor of Quezon Province for the May
8, 1995 elections. His rival candidate for the said position was Bienvenido O. Marquez, Jr., 1995 elections. This time, Marquez challenged the former’s candidacy via petition for
Marquez filed a petition for disqualification before the COMELEC based principally on the disqualification before COMELEC based on the same allegation that Rodriguez is a
allegation that Rodriguez is a “fugitive from justice.” Marquez revealed that a charge for “fugitive from justice”.
fraudulent insurance claims, grand theft and attempted grand theft of personal property is 7. COMELEC consolidated the quo warranto case (remanded to it by SC) and the
pending against Rodriguez before the Los Angeles Municipal Court. Rodriguez is therefore disqualification case.
a “fugitive from justice” which is a ground for his disqualification/ ineligibility under Section 8. Keeping in mind the definition of “fugitive from justice” in the MARQUEZ Decision,
40 (e) of the Local Government Code according to Marquez. Rodriguez, however, submitted COMELEC found Rodriguez to be one. Being a fugitive from justice, he was declared
a certification from the Commission of Immigration showing that Rodriguez left the US on disqualified or ineligible from assuming the position of Governor and was ordered to
June 25, 1985- roughly five (5) months prior to the institution of the criminal complaint filed vacate the office, and was disqualified to run for the 1995 elections.
against him before the Los Angeles Court. The issue before the SC is W/N Rodriguez is a a. Decision was based on documentary evidence presented by Marquez:
fugitive of justice. SC held that he is not: A “fugitive from justice” includes not only those who authenticated copies of warrant of arrest issued by LA Municipal Court and of
flee after conviction to avoid punishment but likewise who, being charged, flee to avoid the felony complaint against Rodriguez. 1
prosecution. The definition thus indicates that the intent to evade is the compelling factor 9. However, Rodriguez still won as Governor during the 1995 elections. Marquez filed
that animates one’s flight from a particular jurisdiction. There can only be an intent to evade urgent motions to suspend the proclamation of Rodriguez, which COMELEC granted.
prosecution or punishment when there is knowledge by the fleeing subject of an already a. But the Provincial Board of Canvassers still proclaimed Rodriguez as Gov.
instituted indictment or of a promulgated judgement of conviction. 10. Marquez filed an Urgent Motion for TRO or Preliminary Injunction seeking to
restrain and enjoin Rodriguez from exercising the functions and powers of Governor of
Quezon.
DOCTRINE a. Court issued resolution granting a TRO, but then denied the petition in a latter
A "fugitive from justice" includes not only those who flee after conviction to avoid punishment resolution.
but likewise who, after being charged, flee to avoid prosecution. Intent to evade is the b. In the latter resolution, the Court directed COMELEC to receive and evaluate
compelling factor and must therefore be established by proof that there has already been a evidence to determine W/N Rodriguez is a fugitive from justice.
conviction or at least, a charge has already been filed, at the time of flight. 11. COMELEC complied and in its report, it declared that Rodriguez is NOT a "fugitive from
justice" as defined in the main opinion of the MARQUEZ Decision.
a. Intent to evade is a material element of the MARQUEZ Decision definition.
FACTS Such intent to evade is absent in Rodriguez' case because evidence has
1. Eduardo Rodriguez and Bienvenido Marquez, Jr. were both candidates for Governor in established that Rodriguez arrived in the Philippines (June 25, 1985) long
Quezon Province in the May 1992 elections. Rodriguez won and was proclaimed Gov. before the criminal charge was instituted in the Los Angeles Court (November
2. Marquez filed a petition for quo warranto before COMELEC challenging the victory of 12, 1985).
Rodriguez.
a. Alleged that Rodriguez left the US where a charge was pending against him ISSUE with HOLDING
before the LA Municipal Court for fraudulent insurance claims, grand theft, W/N Rodriguez is a “fugitive from justice” – NO
and attempted grand theft of personal property. 1. The element of intent to evade not present in the case of Rodriguez, which is a
b. Thus, Rodriguez is a “fugitive from justice” which is a ground for his compelling factor in the Marquez Decision definition, he cannot be held as a fugitive
disqualification or ineligibility under Sec. 40(e), LGC. from justice.
3. COMELEC dismissed the petition and denied the reconsideration thereof. 2. The definition in the Marquez Decision indicates that the intent to evade is a
4. Marquez challenged the dismissal via petition for certiorari before the SC. compelling factor that animates one’s flight from a particular jurisdiction. There
5. In deciding the case, (MARQUEZ Decision), SC declared that “a ‘fugitive from can be no intent to evade prosecution or punishment when there is NO
justice’ includes not only those who flee after conviction to avoid punishment, knowledge of the same by the supposed fleeing subject. One cannot evade
but likewise those who, after being charged, flee to avoid prosecution. This something he does not know for a fact.
definition truly finds support from jurisprudence, and it may be so conceded as 3. Rodriguez case cannot fit into the said concept (MARQUEZ Decision). The filing of the
expressing the general and ordinary connotation of the term.” felony in LA was five (5) months after he left the United States. There was no
a. SC did not rule upon W/N Rodriguez was a fugitive from justice, but instead sufficient evidence to conclude that he attempted to evade the law. His compulsion
remanded the case to COMELEC for such determination. to return to the country was due to the ouster of Former President Marcos.

1
Such evidence was allowed to be presented ex parte because Rodriguez walked out during the
hearing. He was thus considered to have waived the right to disprove the authenticity of the
documentary evidence presented.
1
4. A broader concept of the definition as espoused by the COMELEC and Marquez i.e.,
that someone can be considered a “fugitive from justice” by the mere fact that he
leaves the jurisdiction were a charge is pending before him, regardless of
whether or not the charge has already been filed at the time of his flight, cannot
be adopted by the Court.
5. Suffice it to say that the "law of the case" doctrine forbids the Court to craft an expanded
re-definition of "fugitive from justice" (which is at variance with the MARQUEZ Decision)
and proceed therefrom in resolving the instant petition.

DISPOSITIVE PORTION
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED and
the assailed Resolutions of the COMELEC dated May 7, 1995 (Consolidated Resolution),
May 11, 1995 (Resolution suspending Rodriguez' proclamation) and June 23, 1995
(Resolution nullifying Rodriguez' proclamation and ordering the Quezon Province Provincial
Board of Canvassers to explain why they should not be cited in contempt) are SET ASIDE.

TORRES JR., J., Concurring Opinion


In the case at bar, the following circumstances must be taken into consideration:
that petitioner was not aware of the imminent filing of charges against him; the same was
filed after he has returned home; it is impractical and unjust to require petitioner to subject
himself to the jurisdiction of the United States while already in this country or else be
disqualified from office; and that the subject provision appears to have been a 'camaraderie
provision' proposed by the House for the sake of private respondent who was then a
Congressman.
The fact that he remains here even after he was formally accused cannot be
construed as an indication of an intent to flee, there being no compelling reason for him to
go to the United States and face his accusers. On the contrary, it is his official duty, as an
incumbent Governor of Quezon, to remain in the country and perform his duties as the duly
elected public official.

VITUG, J., Dissenting Opinion


Court's ruling in G.R. No. 112889 (MARQUEZ Decision) is misconstrued.
COMELEC’s conclusion was correct. The mere fact that there are pending charges in the
United States and that petitioner Rodriguez is in the Philippines make petitioner a fugitive
from justice within the intent and meaning of Section 40(e) of the Local Government Code
of 1991.

DIGESTER: Liana