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G.R. No.

150605 December 10, 2002 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,
EUFROCINO M. CODILLA, SR., petitioner, influencing or corrupting them to vote for him. Attached to the petition are the
vs. (a) Affidavits of Basilio Bates,2 Danilo D. Maglasang,3 Cesar A.
HON. JOSE DE VENECIA, ROBERTO P. NAZARENO, in their official Laurente;4 (b) Joint Affidavit of Agripino C. Alferez and Rogelio T.
capacities as Speaker Salvera;5 (c) Extract Records from the Police Blotter executed by Police
and Secretary-General of the House of Representatives, respectively, Superintendent Elson G. Pecho;6 and (d) Photographs showing government
and MA. VICTORIA L. LOCSIN, respondents. dump trucks, 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
DECISION Division.

PUNO, J.: On May 10, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division issued an Order
delegating the hearing and reception of evidence on the disqualification case
In a democracy, the first self-evident principle is that he who has been to the Office of the Regional Director of Region VIII.8 On May 11, 2001, the
rejected by the people cannot represent the people. Respondent Ma. COMELEC Second Division sent a telegram informing the petitioner that a
Victoria L. Locsin lost to petitioner Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr. by 17,903 votes disqualification case was filed against him and that the petition was
in the May 14, 2001 elections as Representative of the 4th legislative district remanded to the Regional Election Director for investigation.9
of Leyte. The most sophisticated legal alchemy cannot justify her insistence
that she should continue governing the people of Leyte against their will. The At the time of the elections on May 14, 2001, the Regional Election
enforcement of the sovereign will of the people is not subject to the Director had yet to hear the disqualification case. Consequently,
discretion of any official of the land. petitioner was included in the list of candidates for district representative and
was voted for. The initial results showed that petitioner was the winning
This is a Petition for Mandamus and Quo Warranto directed against candidate.
respondents Speaker Jose De Venecia and Secretary-General Roberto P.
Nazareno of the House of Representatives to compel them to implement the On May 16, 2001, before the counting could be finished, respondent Locsin
decision of the Commission on Elections en banc by (a) administering the joined as intervenor in SPA No. 128 and filed a "Most Urgent Motion to
oath of office to petitioner as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th Suspend Proclamation of Respondent [herein petitioner]" with the
legislative district of Leyte, and (b) registering the name of the petitioner in COMELEC Second Division.10 Respondent Locsin alleged that "the evidence
the Roll of Members of the House of Representatives, and against on record against respondent is very strong and unless rebutted remains."
respondent Ma. Victoria L. Locsin for usurping, intruding into, and unlawfully She urged the Commission to set the hearing of the disqualification case and
holding and exercising the said public office on the basis of a void prayed for the suspension of the proclamation of the respondent "so as not
proclamation. to render the present disqualification case moot and academic." A copy of
the Motion was allegedly served on petitioner by registered mail but no
The facts are uncontroverted. Petitioner and respondent Locsin were registry receipt was attached thereto.11
candidates for the position of Representative of the 4th legislative district of
Leyte during the May 14, 2001 elections. At that time, petitioner was the On May 18, 2001, respondent Locsin filed a "Second Most Urgent Motion
Mayor of Ormoc City while respondent Locsin was the sitting Representative to Suspend Proclamation of Respondent" stating "there is clear and
of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. On May 8, 2001, one Josephine de la convincing evidence showing that the respondent is undoubtedly guilty of the
Cruz, a registered voter of Kananga, Leyte, filed directly with the COMELEC charges against him and this remains unrebutted by the respondent." A copy
main office a Petition for Disqualification1 against the petitioner for indirectly of the Motion was sent to the petitioner and the corresponding registry
soliciting votes from the registered voters of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte, receipt was attached to the pleading.12 The records, however, do not show
in violation of Section 68 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code. It was alleged the date the petitioner received the motion.
that the petitioner used the equipments and vehicles owned by the City

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On the same day, May 18, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division issued memoranda.25 On June 4, 2001, petitioner submitted his Memorandum26 in
an Ex-Parte Order13 directing the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte support of his Motion assailing the suspension of his proclamation on the
to suspend the proclamation of petitioner in case he obtains the highest grounds that: (a) he was not afforded due process; (b) the order has no legal
number of votes by reason of "the seriousness of the allegations in the and factual basis; and (c) evidence of his guilt is patently inexistent for the
petition for disqualification."14 It also directed the Regional Election Director purpose of suspending his proclamation. He prayed that his proclamation as
to speed up the reception of evidence and to forward immediately the winning congressional candidate be expediently made, even while the
complete records together with its recommendation to the Office of the Clerk disqualification case against him continue upon due notice and hearing. He
of the Commission.15 As a result, petitioner was not proclaimed as winner attached the following additional evidence in his Memorandum: (a) Copy of
even though the final election results showed that he garnered 71,350 votes certification issued by PNP Senior Inspector Benjamin T. Gorre;27 (b)
as against respondent Locsin's 53,447 votes.16 Certification issued by Elena S. Aviles, City Budget Officer; 28 (c) Copy of
certification issued by Wilfredo A. Fiel, City Engineer of Ormoc; 29 (d) Joint
At the time that the COMELEC Second Division issued its Order suspending Affidavit of Antonio Patenio and Pepito Restituto;30and (e) Affidavits of
his proclamation, the petitioner has yet to be summoned to answer the Demetrio Brion,31 Igmedio Rita32 and Gerardo Monteza.33 Respondent
petition for disqualification. Neither has said petition been set for hearing. It Locsin's memorandum also contained additional affidavits of his witnesses. 34
was only on May 24, 2001 that petitioner was able to file an Answer to the
petition for his disqualification with the Regional Election Director, alleging Petitioner's Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension, however, was not
that: (a) he has not received the summons together with the copy of the resolved. Instead, on June 14, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division
petition; (b) he became aware of the matter only by virtue of the telegram promulgated its Resolution35 in SPA No. 01-208 which found the
sent by the COMELEC Second Division informing him that a petition was petitioner guilty of indirect solicitation of votes and ordered
filed against him and that the Regional Election Director was directed to his disqualification. It directed the "immediate proclamation of the
investigate and receive evidence therewith; and (c) he obtained a copy of the candidate who garnered the highest number of votes xxx." A copy of
petition from the COMELEC Regional Office No. 8 at his own said Resolution was sent by fax to the counsel of petitioner in Cebu City in
instance.17 Petitioner further alleged that the maintenance, repair and the afternoon of the following day.36
rehabilitation of barangay roads in the municipalities of Matag-ob and
Kananga were undertaken without his authority, participation or directive as By virtue of the said Resolution, the votes cast for petitioner, totaling
City Mayor of Ormoc. He attached in his Answer the following: (a) Affidavit of 71,350, were declared stray even before said Resolution could gain
Alex B. Borinaga;18 (b) Copy of the Excerpt from the Minutes of the Regular finality. On June 15, 2001, respondent Locsin was proclaimed as the duly
Session of Barangay Monterico;19 (c) Affidavit of Wilfredo A. Fiel;20 (d) elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte by the Provincial
Supplemental Affidavit of Wilfredo A. Fiel;21 and (e) Affidavit of Arnel Y. Board of Canvassers of Leyte. It issued a Certificate of Canvass of Votes
Padayao.22 and Proclamation of the Winning Candidates for Member of the House of
Representatives stating that "MA. VICTORIA LARRAZABAL LOCSIN
On May 25, 2001, petitioner filed a Motion to Lift Order of obtained a total of FIFTY THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FORTY
Suspension,23 alleging that (a) he did not receive a copy of the Motion to SEVEN (53,447) votes representing the highest number of votes legally
Suspend his Proclamation and hence, was denied the right to rebut and cast in the legislative district for said office."37 Respondent Locsin took her
refute the allegations in the Motion; (b) that he did not receive a copy of the oath of office on June 18, 2001 and assumed office on June 30, 2001.
summons on the petition for disqualification and after personally obtaining a
copy of the petition, filed the requisite answer only on May 24, 2001; and (c) On June 20, 2001, petitioner seasonably filed with the COMELEC en
that he received the telegraph Order of the COMELEC Second Division banc a Motion for Reconsideration38from the June 14, 2001 Resolution of
suspending his proclamation only on May 22, 2001. He attached the COMELEC Second Division which ordered his disqualification, as well as
documentary evidence in support of his Motion to Lift the Suspension of his an Addendum to the Motion for Reconsideration.39 Petitioner alleged in his
proclamation, and requested the setting of a hearing on his Motion.24 Motion for Reconsideration that the COMELEC Second Division erred: (1) in
disqualifying petitioner on the basis solely of the dubious declaration of the
On May 30, 2001, an oral argument was conducted on the petitioner's witnesses for respondent Locsin; (2) in adopting in toto the allegations of the
Motion and the parties were ordered to submit their respective witnesses for respondent Locsin; and (3) in promulgating the resolution in

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violation of its own rules of procedure and in directing therein the immediate reconsideration on the ground that "[T]he people of Leyte have spoken and I
proclamation of the second highest 'vote getter.' Respondent Locsin and her respect the electorate's will. x x x." 49
co-petitioner in SPA No. 01-208 filed a joint Opposition to the Motion for
Reconsideration.40 On August 29, 2001, then COMELEC Chairman Alfredo L. Benipayo issued
a "Vote and Opinion and Summary of Votes" reversing the resolution of
On June 21, 2001, petitioner filed with the COMELEC en banc a Petition for the Second Division and declaring the proclamation of respondent
Declaration of Nullity of Proclamation,41 docketed as SPC No. 01-324, Locsin as null and void. The dispositive portion reads:
assailing the validity of the proclamation of respondent Locsin who garnered
only the second highest number of votes. Respondent Locsin filed her "JUDGMENT
Answer alleging that: (1) the Commission lost jurisdiction to hear and decide
the case because of the proclamation of Locsin and that any question on the
"election, returns, and qualification" of Locsin can only be taken cognizance WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, I concur with
of by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET); (2) the case Commissioner Resurreccion Z. Borra, Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason,
should be filed and heard in the first instance by a Division of the Jr. and Commissioner Ralph C. Lantion, in SPA No. 01-208, to GRANT the
Commission and not directly by the Commission en banc; and (3) the motion for reconsideration and to REVERSE the resolution of the
proclamation of Locsin was valid because she received the highest number Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 1, 2001, disqualifying
of valid votes cast, the votes of Codilla being stray. Codilla; and subsequently, in SPC No. 01-324, to GRANT the petition of
Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., and declare as null and void the proclamation of
losing candidate Locsin.
On June 28, 2001, petitioner filed an Urgent Manifestation42 stating that he
was deprived of a fair hearing on the disqualification case because while the
documentary evidence adduced in his Memorandum was in support of Accordingly:
his Motion for the lifting of the suspension of his proclamation, the
COMELEC Second Division instead ruled on the main disqualification 1. On the Motion for Reconsideration of the disqualification
case. In consonance with his prayer that a full-dress hearing be conducted resolution against Codilla, promulgated by the Commission
on the disqualification case, he submitted Affidavits of additional (Second Division) on June 14, 2001 (SPA No. 01-208), I vote:
witnesses43 which he claims would refute and substantially belie the
allegations of petitioner's/intervenor's witnesses. A Reply, 44 Rejoinder45 and (a) to GRANT the Motion for Reconsideration of
Sur-Rejoinder46were respectively filed by the parties. Consequently, the respondent-movant Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., and to
motion for reconsideration in SPA No. 01-208 and the petition for declaration REVERSE the Resolution of the Commission (Second
of nullity in SPC No. 01-324 were submitted for resolution. Division) promulgated on June 14, 2001, for insufficiency
of evidence;
From the records, it appears that initially, a "Resolution" penned by
Commissioner Rufino S.B. Javier, dated July 24, 2001, was submitted to the (b) to lift the order of suspension of proclamation of
Office of the Chairman, dismissing the petition for declaration of nullity for petitioner Codilla, issued by the Commission (Second
lack of jurisdiction and denying the motion for reconsideration filed by Division) on May 18, 2001, having been issued without
petitioner Codilla.47 Commissioners Florentino A. Tuason, Jr. and hearing and without any finding that the evidence of guilt
Resurreccion Z. Borra submitted their respective dissenting opinions 48 to the of petitioner Codilla is strong and, thus, null and void;
Javier resolution. It bears emphasis that Commissioner Tuason, Jr. was the
ponente of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division which ordered
the disqualification of petitioner but after considering the additional evidence (c) to nullify the order contained in the Resolution of the
presented by the latter, he concluded that the totality of the evidence was Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 14,
clearly in petitioner's favor. Equally worth mentioning is the fact that 2001, for "(t)he immediate proclamation of the candidate
Commissioner Ralph C. Lantion, who was the Presiding Commissioner of who garnered the highest number of votes, to the
the Second Division, also dissented and voted to grant Codilla's motion for exclusion of respondent" and the concurrent order for "the

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Provincial Board of Canvasser (sic) of Leyte to (c) to nullify the order contained in the Resolution of the
immediately reconvene and thereafter proclaim forthwith Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 14, 2001, in
the candidate who obtained the highest number of votes SPA No. 01-208, for "(t)he immediate proclamation of the candidate
counting out the Respondent" the same being violative of who garnered the highest number of votes, to the exclusion of
election laws, established jurisprudence, and resolutions respondent" and the concurrent order for "the provincial Board of
of the Commission; Canvasser (sic) of Leyte to immediately reconvene and thereafter
proclaim forthwith the candidate who obtained the highest number
(d) to nullify the ruling contained in the Resolution of the of votes counting out the Respondent" the same being violative of
Commission (Second Division) promulgated o June 14, election laws, established jurisprudence, and resolutions of the
2001, that the votes of respondent Codilla are "considered Commission;
stray and invalid" said ruling being issued on the basis of
an inapplicable decision, and contrary to established (d) to nullify the ruling contained in the Resolution of the
jurisprudence; Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 14, 2001, in
SPA No. 01-208, that the votes of respondent Codilla are
(e) to order the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte, "considered stray and invalid" said ruling being issued on the basis
upon the finality of this resolution, to reconvene and of an inapplicable decision, and contrary to established
proclaim petitioner Codilla as the winning candidate for jurisprudence;
Representative of the Fourth Legislative district of Leyte to
comply with its ministerial duty to proclaim the candidate (e) to order the provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte, upon the
who garnered the highest number of votes in the elections finality of this resolution, to reconvene and proclaim petitioner
for that position; and Codilla as the winning candidate for Representative of the Fourth
legislative district of Leyte he (sic) having garnered the highest
(f) to order intervenor-oppositor Locsin, upon the finality of number of votes in the elections for the position; and
this resolution, to vacate the office of Representative of the
House of Representatives representing the Fourth (f) to order respondent Locsin, upon the finality of this resolution, to
legislative district of Leyte and, for this purpose, to inform vacate the office of Representative of the House of Representatives
the House of Representatives through the Honorable representing the Fourth Legislative district of Leyte and, for this
Speaker of this resolution for its attention and guidance; purpose, to inform the House of Representatives through the
and Honorable Speaker of this resolution for its attention and guidance.

2. On the petition for Declaration of Nullity of proclamation of respondent Ma. Summary of Votes
Victoria L. Locsin (SPC No. 01-324), I vote:
Considering the FOUR (4) VOTES of the Chairman and Commissioners
(a) to GRANT the petition of Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., and declare Resurreccion Z. Borra, Florentino A. Tuason, Jr., and Ralph C. Lantion, to
as null and void the proclamation of losing candidate Locsin, the grant the Motion for Reconsideration of Codilla and reverse the
proclamation being violative of election laws, established disqualification Resolution of the Commission (Second Division) in SPA No.
jurisprudence, and resolutions of the Commission on Elections; 01-208, promulgated on June 14, 2001, and as an inevitable consequence,
in voting to grant the petition for declaration of nullity of the proclamation of
(b) to lift the order of suspension of proclamation of petitioner Ma. Victoria L. Locsin in SPC No. 01-324, the verdict/opinion of the
Codilla, issued by the Commission (Second Division) on May 18, Chairman and the three (3) Commissioners taken together now stands, as it
2001, in SPA No. 01-208, having been issued without hearing and is, the MAJORITY DECISION of the Commission En Banc in both cases;
without any finding that the evidence of guilt of petitioner Codilla is and the "Resolution" submitted by three (3) Commissioners, namely,
strong and, thus, null and void; Commissioner Rufino S.B. Javier, Commissioner Luzviminda G. Tancangco,

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and Commissioner Mehol K. Sadain, is considered, as it is, the MINORITY the 4th legislative district of Leyte, having obtained a total of 71,350 votes
DECISION of the Commission En Banc in both cases. representing the highest number of votes cast in the district.56 On the same
day, petitioner took his oath of office before Executive Judge Fortunito L.
The MAJORTIY DECISION was arrived at after proper consultation with Madrona of the Regional Trial Court of Ormoc City.57
those who joined the majority. The Chairman and the three (3)
Commissioners comprising the majority decided that no one will be assigned On September 14, 2001, petitioner wrote the House of Representatives, thru
to write a Majority Decision. Instead, each one will write his own separate respondent Speaker De Venecia, informing the House of the August 29,
opinion. Commissioners Borra, Tuason, Jr. and the undersigned Chairman 2001 COMELEC en banc resolution annulling the proclamation of
submitted separate opinions. Commissioner Lantion wrote an explanation on respondent Locsin, and proclaiming him as the duly-elected Representative
his vote."50 of the 4th legislative district of Leyte.58 Petitioner also served notice that "I
am assuming the duties and responsibilities as Representative of the fourth
The aforequoted judgment was adopted in a "Vote of Adoption" signed by legislative district of Leyte to which position I have been lawfully elected and
Commissioners Ralph C. Lantion, Resurreccion Z. Borra and Florentino A. proclaimed. On behalf of my constituents, I therefore expect that all rights
Tuason, Jr.51 and privileges intended for the position of 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 Memorandum59 dated
Respondent Locsin did not appeal from this decision annulling her October 8, 2001 was issued by Legal Affairs Deputy Secretary-General
proclamation. Instead, she filed a "Comment and Manifestation"52 with the Gaudencio A. Mendoza, Jr., for Speaker De Venecia, stating that "there is
COMELEC en banc questioning the procedure and the manner by which the no legal obstacle to complying with the duly promulgated – and now final and
decision was issued. In addition, respondent Locsin requested and was executory – COMELEC Decision of August 29, 2001 x x x."
issued an opinion by House of Representatives Executive Director 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 These notwithstanding, and despite receipt by the House of Representatives
taken her oath and assumed office since it is the HRET which is the sole of a copy of the COMELEC en banc resolution on September 20, 2001,60 no
judge of election, returns and qualifications of Members of the action was taken by the House on the letter-appeal of petitioner. Hence,
House.53Relying on this opinion, respondent Locsin submitted a written petitioner sought the assistance of his party, LAKAS-NUCD-UMDP, which
privileged speech to the House during its regular session on September 4, sent a letter61 addressed to respondent Speaker De Venecia, dated October
2001, where she declared that she will not only disregard but will openly defy 25, 2001, and signed by Party President Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr.,
and disobey the COMELEC en banc resolution ordering her to vacate her Secretary-General Heherson T. Alvarez, and Region VIII Party Chairman
position.54 Sergio Antonio F. Apostol, requesting the House of Representatives to act
decisively on the matter in order that petitioner "can avail of whatever
remedy is available should their action remain unfavorable or otherwise
On September 6, 2001, the COMELEC en banc issued an undecisive."
Order55 constituting the members of the Provincial Board of Canvassers of
Leyte to implement the aforesaid decision. It likewise ordered the Board to
reconvene and "proclaim the candidate who obtained the highest number of In response, Speaker De Venecia sent a letter62 dated October 30, 2001,
votes in the district, as the duly-elected Representative of the Fourth stating that:
Legislative district of Leyte, and accordingly issue a Certificate of Canvass
and Proclamation of Winning Candidate for Member of the House of "We recognize the finality of the COMELEC decision and we are inclined to
Representatives x x x, based on the city/municipal certificates of canvass sustain it. However, Rep. Locsin has officially notified the HOUSE in her
submitted beforehand to the previous Provincial Board of Canvassers of privilege speech, inserted in the HOUSE Journal dated September 4, 2001,
Leyte x x x." that she shall 'openly defy and disobey' the COMELEC ruling. This ultimately
means that implementing the decision would result in the spectacle of having
On September 12, 2001, petitioner Codilla was proclaimed by the two (2) legislators occupying the same congressional seat, a legal situation,
Provincial Board of Canvassers as the duly-elected Representative of

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the only consideration, that effectively deters the HOUSE's liberty to take judge of all election, returns and qualifications of Members of the House. He
action. also contends that the determination of who will sit as Member of the House
of Representatives is not a ministerial function and cannot, thus, be
In this light, the accepted wisdom is that the implementation of the compelled by mandamus.
COMELEC decision is a matter that can be best, and with finality,
adjudicated by the Supreme Court, which, hopefully, shall act on it Respondent Locsin, in her Comment,66 alleged that the Supreme Court has
most expeditiously." (emphases supplied) no original jurisdiction over an action for quo warranto involving a member of
the House of Representatives for under Section 17, Article VI of the
Hence, the present petition for mandamus and quo warranto. Constitution it is the HRET which is the sole judge of all contests relating to
the election, returns and qualifications of Members of the House of
Representatives. She likewise asserts that this Court cannot issue the writ of
Petitioner submits that by virtue of the resolution of the COMELEC en banc mandamus against a co-equal legislative department without grossly
which has become final and executory for failure of respondent Locsin to violating the principle of separation of powers. She contends that the act of
appeal therefrom, it has become the ministerial duty: (1) of the Speaker of recognizing who should be seated as a bona fide member of the House of
the House of Representatives, as its Administrative Head and Presiding Representatives is not a ministerial function but a legislative prerogative, the
Officer, to implement the said resolution of the COMELEC en banc by performance of which cannot be compelled by mandamus. Moreover, the
installing him as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th legislative district prayer for a writ of mandamus cannot be directed against the Speaker and
of Leyte; and (2) of the Secretary-General, as official custodian of the Secretary-General because they do not have the authority to enforce and
records of the House, to formally register his name in the Roll of Members of implement the resolution of the COMELEC.
the House and delete the name of respondent Locsin therefrom. Petitioner
further contends that respondent Locsin has been usurping and unlawfully
holding the public office of Representative of the 4th legislative district of Additionally, respondent Locsin urges that the resolution of the COMELEC
Leyte considering that her premature proclamation has been declared null en banc is null and void for lack of jurisdiction. First, it should have dismissed
and void by the COMELEC en banc. He alleges that the action or inaction of the case pending before it after her proclamation and after she had taken her
public respondents has deprived him of his lawful right to assume the office oath of office. Jurisdiction then was vested in the HRET to unseat and
of Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. remove a Member of the House of Representatives. Second, the petition for
declaration of nullity is clearly a pre-proclamation controversy and the
COMELEC en banc has no original jurisdiction to hear and decide a pre-
In his Comment,63 public respondent Speaker De Venecia alleged that proclamation controversy. It must first be heard by a COMELEC Division.
mandamus will not lie to compel the implementation of the COMELEC Third, the questioned decision is actually a "hodge-podge" decision because
decision which is not merely a ministerial duty but one which requires the of the peculiar manner in which the COMELEC disposed of the case.
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 House of Representatives which imposes a duty on the House Speaker Finally, respondent Locsin asserts that the matter of her qualification and
to implement a COMELEC decision that unseats an incumbent House eligibility has been categorically affirmed by the HRET when it dismissed the
member. quo warranto case filed against her, 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
In his Comment,64 public respondent Secretary-General Nazareno alleged warranto against a Member of the House of Representatives under section
that in reading the name of respondent Locsin during the roll call, and in 253 of the Omnibus Election Code and Rule 17 of the HRET Rules, and that
allowing her to take her oath before the Speaker-elect and sit as Member of the petition was filed late."67
the House during the Joint Session of Congress, he was merely performing
official acts in compliance with the opinions65 rendered by House of
Representatives Chief Counsel and Executive Director Leonardo C. Palicte In his Reply,68 petitioner asserts that the remedy of respondent Locsin from
III stating that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to declare the proclamation the COMELEC decision was to file a petition for certiorari with the Supreme
of respondent Locsin as null and void since it is the HRET which is the sole Court, not to seek an opinion from the Chief Legal Counsel of the House of

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Representatives; that the HRET has no jurisdiction over a petition for (1) The verified petition to disqualify a candidate pursuant to Sec.
declaration of nullity of proclamation which is based not on ineligibility or 68 of the Omnibus Election Code and the verified petition to
disloyalty, but by reason that the candidate proclaimed as winner did not disqualify a candidate for lack of qualifications or possessing same
obtain the highest number of votes; that the petition for annulment of grounds for disqualification, may be filed any day after the last day
proclamation is a pre-proclamation controversy and, hence, falls within the for filing of certificates of candidacy but not later than the date of
exclusive jurisdiction of the COMELEC pursuant to section 242 of B.P. Blg. proclamation.
88169 and section 3, Article IX (C) of the Constitution; that respondent
Speaker De Venecia himself recognizes the finality of the COMELEC (2) The petition to disqualify a candidate pursuant to Sec. 68 of the
decision but has decided to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for Omnibus Election Code shall be filed in ten (10) legible copies by
adjudication; that the enforcement and implementation of a final decision of any citizen of voting age, or duly registered political party,
the COMELEC involves a ministerial act and does not encroach on the organization or coalition of political parties against any candidate
legislative power of Congress; and that the power to determine who will sit who in an action or protest in which he is a party is declared by final
as Member of the House does not involve an exercise of legislative power decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission
but is vested in the sovereign will of the electorate. of:

The core issues in this case are: (a) whether the proclamation of respondent 2.a having given money or other material consideration to
Locsin by the COMELEC Second Division is valid; (b) whether said influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials
proclamation divested the COMELEC en banc of jurisdiction to review its performing electoral functions;
validity; and (c) assuming the invalidity of said proclamation, whether it is the
ministerial duty of the public respondents to recognize petitioner Codilla, Sr.
as the legally elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte 2.b having committed acts of terrorism to enhance his
vice respondent Locsin. candidacy;

I 2.c having spent in his election campaign an amount in


excess of that allowed by the Omnibus Election Code;
Whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin is valid.
2.d having solicited, received or made any contribution
prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104 of the
After carefully reviewing the records of this case, we find that the Omnibus Election Code;
proclamation of respondent Locsin is null and void for the following reasons:
2.e having violated any of Sections 80, 83, 85, 86 and 261,
First. The petitioner was denied due process during the entire paragraphs d, e, k, v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6 of the
proceedings leading to the proclamation of respondent Locsin. Omnibus Election Code, shall be disqualified from
continuing as a candidate, or if he has been elected, from
COMELEC Resolution Nos. 340270 sets the procedure for disqualification holding the office.
cases pursuant to section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, viz:
xxxxxxxxx
"C. PETITION TO DISQUALIFY A CANDIDATE PURSUANT TO SEC. 68
OF THE OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE AND PETITION TO DISQUALIFY (4) Upon payment of the filing fee of P1,000.00 and legal research
FOR LACK OF QUALIFICATIONS OR POSSESSING SAME GROUNDS fee of P20.00, the offices concerned shall docket the petition and
FOR DISQUALIFICATION assign to it a docket number which must be consecutive, according
to the order of receipt and must bear the year and prefixed as SPA

7
with the corresponding initial of the name of the office, i.e. SPA with the proof of service to the Clerk of Court of the COMELEC when service
(RED) No. C01-001; SPA (PES) No. C01-001; has been completed, viz:

(5) Within three (3) days from filing of the petitions, the offices "Rule 14. Summons
concerned shall issue summons to the respondent candidate
together with a copy of the petition and its enclosures, if any; xxxxxxxxx

(6) The respondent shall be given three (3) days from receipt of Section 5. Return.- When the service has been completed by personal
summons within which to file his verified answer (not a motion to service, the server shall give notice thereof, by registered mail, to the
dismiss) to the petition in ten (10) legible copies, serving a copy protestant or his counsel and shall return the summons to the Clerk of Court
thereof upon the petitioner. Grounds for Motion to Dismiss may be concerned who issued it, accompanied with the proof of service.
raised as an affirmative defense;
Section 6. Proof of Service.- Proof of service of summons shall be made in
(7) The proceeding shall be summary in nature. In lieu of the the manner provided for in the Rules of Court in the Philippines."
testimonies, the parties shall submit their affidavits or counter-
affidavits and other documentary evidences including their position
paper; Thereafter, hearings, to be completed within ten (10) days from the filing of
the Answer, must be conducted. The hearing officer is required to submit to
the Clerk of the Commission his findings, reports and recommendations
(8) The hearing must be completed within ten (10) days from the within five (5) days from the completion of the hearing and reception of
date of the filing of the answer. The hearing officer concerned shall evidence together with the complete records of the case.
submit to the Clerk of the Commission through the fastest means of
communication, his findings, reports and recommendations within
five (5) days from the completion of the hearing and reception of (a) Petitioner was not notified of the petition for his disqualification
evidence together with the complete records of the case; through the service of summons nor of the Motions to suspend his
proclamation.
(9) Upon receipt of the records of the case of the findings, reports
and recommendation of the hearing officer concerned, the Clerk of The records of the case do not show that summons was served on the
the Commission shall immediately docket the case consecutively petitioner. They do not contain a copy of the summons allegedly served on
and calendar the same for raffle to a division; 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
(10) The division to whom the case is raffled, shall after received summons.71 Petitioner claims that prior to receiving a telegraphed
consultation, assign the same to a member who shall pen the Order from the COMELEC Second Division on May 22, 2001, directing the
decision, within five (5) days from the date of consultation." District Board of Canvassers to suspend his proclamation, he was never
summoned nor furnished a copy of the petition for his disqualification. He
Resolution No. 3402 clearly requires the COMELEC, through the Regional was able to obtain a copy of the petition and the May 22 Order of the
Election Director, to issue summons to the respondent candidate together COMELEC Second Division by personally going to the COMELEC Regional
with a copy of the petition and its enclosures, if any, within three (3) days Office on May 23, 2001. Thus, he was able to file his Answer to the
from the filing of the petition for disqualification. Undoubtedly, this is to afford disqualification case only on May 24, 2001.
the respondent candidate the opportunity to answer the allegations in the
petition and hear his side. To ensure compliance with this requirement, the More, the proclamation of the petitioner was suspended in gross violation of
COMELEC Rules of Procedure requires the return of the summons together section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code which provides:

8
"Sec. 72. Effects of disqualification cases and priority.- The Commission and dispose of motu proprio. Section 6 of R.A. No. 664673 requires that the
the courts shall give priority to cases of disqualification by reason of suspension must be "upon motion by the complainant or any intervenor", viz:
violation of this Act to the end that a final decision shall be rendered not
later than seven days before the election in which the disqualification "Section 6. Effect of Disqualification Case.- Any candidate who has been
is sought. declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the
votes cast for him shall not be counted. If for any reason, a candidate is not
Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is
shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, the
counted. Nevertheless, if for any reason, a candidate is not declared by Court or Commission (COMELEC) shall continue with the trial or
final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is voted for hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the
and receives the winning number of votes in such election, his complainant or any intervenor, may during the pendency thereof order
violation of the provisions of the preceding sections shall not prevent the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the
his proclamation and assumption to office." (emphases supplied) evidence of his guilt is strong." (emphases supplied)

In the instant case, petitioner has not been disqualified by final judgment Second, the right of an adverse party, in this case, the petitioner, is clearly
when the elections were conducted on May 14, 2001. The Regional Election affected. Given the lack of service of the Most Urgent Motion to the
Director has yet to conduct hearing on the petition for his disqualification. petitioner, said Motion is a mere scrap of paper.74 It cannot be acted upon by
After the elections, petitioner was voted in office by a wide margin of 17,903. the COMELEC Second Division.
On May 16, 2001, however, respondent Locsin filed a Most Urgent Motion
for the suspension of petitioner's proclamation. The Most Urgent Motion On May 18, 2001 at exactly 5:00 p.m.,75 respondent Locsin filed a Second
contained a statement to the effect that a copy was served to the petitioner Most Urgent Motion for the suspension of petitioner's proclamation.
through registered mail. The records reveal that no registry receipt was Petitioner was served a copy of the Second Motion again by registered mail.
attached to prove such service.72 This violates COMELEC Rules of A registry receipt76 was attached evidencing service of the Second Most
Procedure requiring notice and service of the motion to all parties, viz: Urgent Motion to the petitioner but it does not appear when the petitioner
received a copy thereof. That same day, the COMELEC Second Division
"Section 4. Notice.- Notice of a motion shall be served by the movant to all issued an Order suspending the proclamation of petitioner. Clearly, the
parties concerned, at least three (3) days before the hearing thereof, petitioner was not given any opportunity to contest the allegations contained
together with a copy of the motion. For good cause shown, the motion may in the petition for disqualification. The Order was issued on the very same
be heard on shorter notice, especially on matters which the Commission or day the Second Most Urgent Motion was filed. The petitioner could not have
the Division may dispose of on its own motion. received the Second Most Urgent Motion, let alone answer the same on time
as he was served a copy thereof by registered mail.
The notice shall be directed to the parties concerned and shall state the time
and place of the hearing of the motion. Under section 6 of R.A. No. 6646, the COMELEC can suspend proclamation
only when evidence of the winning candidate's guilt is strong. In the case at
Section 5. Proof of Service.- No motion shall be acted upon by the bar, the COMELEC Second Division did not make any specific finding
Commission without proof of service of notice thereof, except when the that evidence of petitioner's guilt is strong. Its only basis in suspending
Commission or a Division is satisfied that the rights of the adverse party or the proclamation of the petitioner is the "seriousness of the allegations" in
parties are not affected." the petition for disqualification. Pertinent portion of the Order reads:

Respondent's Most Urgent Motion does not fall under the exceptions to "Without giving due course to the petition xxx the Commission (2 nd Division),
notice and service of motions. First, the suspension of proclamation of a pursuant to Section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to Section 6,
winning candidate is not a matter which the COMELEC Second Division can Republic Act No. 6646 xxx and considering the serious allegations in the
petition, hereby directs the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte to

9
suspend the proclamation of respondent, if winning, until further submission was sustained by the COMELEC en banc. Hence, the members
orders."77 (emphases supplied) of the COMELEC en banc concluded, upon consideration of the additional
affidavits attached in his Urgent Manifestation, that the evidence to disqualify
We hold that absent any finding that the evidence on the guilt of the the petitioner was insufficient. More specifically, the ponente of the
petitioner is strong, the COMELEC Second Division gravely abused its challenged Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division held:
power when it suspended his proclamation.
"Indeed, I find from the records that the May 30, 2001 hearing of the
(b) The COMELEC Second Division did not give ample opportunity to COMELEC (Second Division) concerns only the incident relating to the
the petitioner to adduce evidence in support of his defense in the Motion to Lift Order of Suspension of Proclamation. It also appears that the
petition for his disqualification. order for the submission of the parties' respective memoranda was in lieu of
the parties' oral argument on the motion. This would explain the fact that
Codilla's Memorandum refers mainly to the validity of the issuance of the
All throughout the proceeding, no hearing was conducted on the petition for order of suspension of proclamation. There is, however, no record of any
disqualification in gross violation of section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 which hearing on the urgent motion for the suspension of proclamation. Indeed, it
specifically enjoins the COMELEC to "continue with the trial or hearing of was only upon the filing of the Urgent Manifestation by Codilla that the
the action, inquiry, or protest." This is also in violation of COMELEC Members of the Commission (Second Division) and other Members of
Resolution No. 3402 requiring the Regional Election Director to complete the Commission en banc had the opportunity to consider Codilla's
the hearing and reception of evidence within ten (10) days from the filing affidavits. This time, Codilla was able to present his side, thus,
of the Answer, and to submit his findings, reports, and recommendations completing the presentation of evidentiary documents from both
within the five (5) days from completion of the hearing and the reception of sides."78 (emphases supplied)
evidence.
Indeed, careful reading of the petitioner's Memorandum shows that he
Petitioner filed a Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension of his confined his arguments in support of his Motion to Lift the Order of
proclamation on May 25, 2001. Although an oral argument on this Motion Suspension. In said Memorandum, petitioner raised the following issues: (a)
was held, and the parties were allowed to file their respective memoranda, he was utterly deprived of procedural due process, and consequently, the
the Motion was not acted upon. Instead, the COMELEC Second Division order suspending his proclamation is null and void; (b) the said order of
issued a Resolution on the petition for disqualification against the petitioner. suspension of proclamation has no legal and factual basis; and (c) evidence
It was based on the following evidence: (a) the affidavits attached to the of guilt on his part is patently inexistent for the purpose of directing the
Petition for Disqualification; (b) the affidavits attached to the Answer; and (c) suspension of his proclamation.79 He urged the COMELEC Second Division
the respective memoranda of the parties. to conduct a full dress hearing on the main disqualification case should the
suspension be lifted.80
On this score, it bears emphasis that the hearing for Motion to Lift the Order
of Suspension cannot be substituted for the hearing in the disqualification (c) the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division disqualifying the
case. Although intrinsically linked, it is not to be supposed that the evidence petitioner is not based on substantial evidence.
of the parties in the main disqualification case are the same as those in the
Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension. The parties may have other evidence
which they may deem proper to present only on the hearing for the The Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division cannot be considered to
disqualification case. Also, there may be evidence which are unavailable be based on substantial evidence. It relied merely on affidavits of witnesses
during the hearing for the Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension but which attached to the petition for disqualification. As stressed, the COMELEC
may be available during the hearing for the disqualification case. Second Division gave credence to the affidavits without hearing the affiants.
In reversing said Resolution, the COMELEC en banc correctly observed:
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 "Lacking evidence of Codilla, the Commission (Second Division) made its
intended to answer and refute the disqualification case against him. This decisions based mainly on the allegation of the petitioner and the supporting

10
affidavits. With this lopsided evidence at hand, the result was predictable. The affidavits relied upon by the COMELEC Second Division failed to prove
The Commission (Second Division) had no choice. Codilla was these allegations. For instance, Cesar A. Laurente merely stated that he saw
disqualified."81 three (3) ten-wheeler dump trucks and a Hyundai Payloader with the
markings "Ormoc City Government" extracting and hauling sand and gravel
Worse, the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division, even without the from the riverbed adjacent to the property owned by the Codilla family. 84
evidence coming from the petitioner, failed to prove the gravamen of the
offense for which he was charged.82 Agripino C. Alferez and Rogelio T. Sulvera in their Joint Affidavit merely
stated that they saw white trucks owned by the City Government of Ormoc
Petitioner allegedly violated section 68 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code dumping gravel and sand on the road of Purok 6, San Vicente, Matag-ob,
which reads: Leyte. A payloader then scattered the sand and gravel unloaded by the white
trucks.85
"Section 68. Disqualifications.- Any candidate who, in action or protest in
which he is a party is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty On the other hand, Danilo D. Maglasang, a temporary employee of the City
of, or found by the Commission of having (a) given money or other material Government of Ormoc assigned to check and record the delivery of sand
consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials and gravel for the different barangays in Ormoc, stated as follows:
performing official functions, xxx shall be disqualified from continuing as
candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding office" "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,
To be disqualified under the above-quoted provision, the following elements Kangga (sic), Leyte as that will be the source of the sand and gravel. I
must be proved: (a) the candidate, personally or through his instructions, inquired why we had to go to Kananga but Engr. Padayao said that it's not a
must have given money or other material consideration; and (b) the act of problem as it was Mayor Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr. who ordered this and the
giving money or other material consideration must be for the purpose of property is owned by the family of Mayor Codilla. We were to deliver sand
influencing, inducing, or corrupting the voters or public officials performing and gravel to whoever requests from Mayor Codilla." 86
electoral functions.
Similarly, the Affidavit of Basilio Bates cannot prove the offense charged
In the case at bar, the petition for disqualification alleged that (a) petitioner against the petitioner. He alleged that on April 18, 2001, a white truck with
ordered the extraction, hauling and distribution of gravel and sand, and (b) the marking "City Government of Ormoc" came to his lot at Montebello,
his purpose was to induce and influence the voters of Kananga and Matag- Kananga, Leyte and unloaded mixed sand and that the driver of the truck
ob, Leyte to vote for him. Pertinent portion of the petition reads: told him to "vote for Codilla as a (sic) congressman during election." 87 His
statement is hearsay. He has no personal knowledge of the supposed order
of the petitioner to distribute gravel and sand for the purpose of inducing the
"[T]he respondent [herein petitioner], within the election period, took voters to vote for him. The same could be said about the affidavits of Randy
advantage of his current elective position as City Mayor of Ormoc City by T. Merin,88 Alfredo C. De la Peña,89 Miguel P. Pandac,90 Paquito Bregeldo,
illegally and unlawfully using during the prohibited period, public equipments Cristeta Alferez , Glicerio Rios,91 Romulo Alkuino, Sr.,92 Abner Casas,93 Rita
and vehicles belonging to and owned by the City Government of Ormoc City Trangia,94 and Judith Erispe95 attached to respondent Locsin's Memorandum
in extracting, hauling and distributing gravel and sand to the residents and on the Motion to Lift the Suspension of Proclamation.
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 Also valueless are the affidavits of other witnesses 96 of respondent Locsin,
or directly corrupting various voters of Kananga and Matag-ob, within the 4th all similarly worded, which alleged that the petitioner ordered the repair of
legislative district of Leyte, for the precise purpose of inducing and the road in Purok 6, Barangay San Vicente, Matag-ob, Leyte and the
influencing the voters/beneficiaries of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte to cast flattening of the area where the cockfights were to be held. These allegations
their votes for said respondent."83 are extraneous to the charge in the petition for disqualification. More

11
importantly, these allegations do not constitute a ground to disqualify the "Section 265. Prosecution.- The Commission shall, through its
petitioner based on section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code. duly authorized legal officers, have the exclusive power to conduct
preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under
To be sure, the petition for disqualification also ascribed other election this Code, and to prosecute the same. The Commission may avail
offenses against the petitioner, particularly section 261 of the Omnibus of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government:
Election Code, viz: Provided, however, That in the event that the Commission fails to
act on any complaint within four months from his filing, the
complainant may file the complaint with the office of the fiscal or
"Section 261. Prohibited Acts.- The following shall be guilty of an election with the Ministry of Justice for proper investigation and prosecution,
offense: if warranted.

(a) Vote-buying and vote-selling.- (1) Any person who gives, offers xxxxxxxxx
or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any
office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or make
or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an Section 268. Jurisdiction.- The regional trial court shall have the exclusive
expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, original jurisdiction to try and decide any criminal action or proceeding for
entity or community in order to induce anyone or the public in violation of this Code, except those relating to the offense of failure to
general, to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in register or failure to vote which shall be under the jurisdictions of
the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination metropolitan or municipal trial courts. From the decision of the courts, appeal
or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process will lie as in other criminal cases."
of a political party.
The COMELEC Second Division grievously erred when it decided the
xxxxxxxxx disqualification case based on section 261 (a) and (o), and not on section 68
of the Omnibus Election Code.
(o) Use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment,
facilities owned or controlled by the government for an election (d) Exclusion of the votes in favor of the petitioner and the
campaign.- Any person who uses under any guise whatsoever proclamation of respondent Locsin was done with undue haste.
directly or indirectly, xxx (3) any equipment, vehicle, facility,
apparatus, or paraphernalia owned by the government or by its The COMELEC Second Division ordered the exclusion of the votes cast in
political subdivisions, agencies including government-owned or favor of the petitioner, and the proclamation of the respondent Locsin,
controlled corporations, or by the Armed Forces of the Philippines without affording the petitioner the opportunity to challenge the same. In the
for any election campaign or for any partisan political activity x x x." morning of June 15, 2001, the Provincial Board of Canvassers convened,
and on the strength of the said Resolution excluding the votes received by
However, the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify candidates the petitioner, certified that respondent Locsin received the highest number
is limited to those enumerated in section 68 of the Omnibus of votes. On this basis, respondent Locsin was proclaimed.
Election Code. All other election offenses are beyond the ambit of
COMELEC jurisdiction.97 They are criminal and not administrative in Records reveal that the petitioner received notice of the Resolution of the
nature. Pursuant to sections 265 and 268 of the Omnibus Election COMELEC Second Division only through his counsel via a facsimile
Code, the power of the COMELEC is confined to the conduct of message in the afternoon of June 15, 200198 when everything was already
preliminary investigation on the alleged election offenses for the fait accompli. Undoubtedly, he was not able to contest the issuance of the
purpose of prosecuting the alleged offenders before the regular Certificate of Canvass and the proclamation of respondent Locsin. This is
courts of justice, viz: plain and simple denial of due process.

12
The essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. When a party is "Sec. 13. Finality of Decisions or Resolutions.- (a) In ordinary actions,
deprived of that basic fairness, any decision by any tribunal in prejudice of special proceedings, provisional remedies and special reliefs, a decision or
his rights is void. resolution of the Commission en banc shall become final and executory after
thirty (30) days from its promulgation.
Second. The votes cast in favor of the petitioner cannot be considered
"stray" and respondent cannot be validly proclaimed on that basis. (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
The Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division in SPA No. 01-208 Special Actions and Special Cases and after fifteen (15) days in all other
contains two dispositions: (1) it ruled that the petitioner was disqualified as a proceedings, following their promulgation.
candidate for the position of Congressman of the Fourth District of Leyte;
and (2) it ordered the immediate proclamation of the candidate who garnered (c) Unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed, a decision
the highest number of votes, to the exclusion of the respondent [herein or resolution of a Division shall become final and executory after the
petitioner]. lapse of five (5) days in Special Actions and Special Cases and after
fifteen (15) days in all other actions or proceedings, following its
As previously stated, the disqualification of the petitioner is null and void for promulgation." (emphasis supplied)
being violative of due process and for want of substantial factual basis. Even
assuming, however, that the petitioner was validly disqualified, it is still In this wise, COMELEC Resolution No. 4116,101 issued in relation to the
improper for the COMELEC Second Division to order the immediate finality of resolutions or decisions in disqualification cases, provides:
exclusion of votes cast for the petitioner as stray, and on this basis, proclaim
the respondent as having garnered the next highest number of votes. "This pertains to the finality of decisions or resolutions of the Commission en
banc or division, particularly on Special Actions (Disqualification Cases).
(a) The order of disqualification is not yet final, hence, the votes cast in
favor of the petitioner cannot be considered "stray." Special Action cases refer to the following:

Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 and section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code (a) Petition to deny due course to a certificate of candidacy;
require a final judgment before the election for the votes of a disqualified
candidate to be considered "stray." Hence, when a candidate has not yet
been disqualified by final judgment during the election day and was voted (b) Petition to declare a candidate as a nuisance candidate;
for, the votes cast in his favor cannot be declared stray. To do so would
amount to disenfranchising the electorate in whom sovereignty resides. 99 For (c) Petition to disqualify a candidate; and
in voting for a candidate who has not been disqualified by final judgment
during the election day, the people voted for him bona fide, without any (d) Petition to postpone or suspend an election.
intention to misapply their franchise, and in the honest belief that the
candidate was then qualified to be the person to whom they would entrust
the exercise of the powers of government.100 Considering the foregoing and in order to guide field officials on the finality of
decisions or resolutions on special action cases (disqualification cases) the
Commission, RESOLVES, as it is hereby RESOLVED, as follows:
This principle applies with greater force in the case at bar considering that
the petitioner has not been declared by final judgment to be
disqualified not only before but even after the elections. The Resolution (1) the decision or resolution of the En Banc of the Commission on
of the COMELEC Second Division disqualifying the petitioner did not attain disqualification cases shall become final and executory after five (5)
finality, and hence, could not be executed, because of the timely filing of a days from its promulgation unless restrained by the Supreme Court;
Motion for Reconsideration. Section 13, Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of
Procedure on Finality of Decisions and Resolutions reads:

13
(2) the decision or resolution of a Division on disqualification cases More brazen is the proclamation of respondent Locsin which violates the
shall become final and executory after the lapse of five (5) days settled doctrine that the candidate who obtains the second highest number
unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed; of votes may not be proclaimed winner in case the winning candidate is
disqualified.102 In every election, the people's choice is the paramount
(3) where the ground for disqualification case is by reason of non- consideration and their expressed will must at all times be given effect.
residence, citizenship, violation of election laws and other When the majority speaks and elects into office a candidate by giving him
analogous cases and on the day of the election the resolution has the highest number of votes cast in the election for the office, no one can be
not become final and executory the BEI shall tally and count the declared elected in his place.103 In Domino v. COMELEC,104 this Court
votes for such disqualified candidate; ruled, viz:

(4) the decision or resolution of the En Banc on nuisance "It would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally
candidates, particularly whether the nuisance candidate has the guaranteed right to suffrage if a candidate who has not acquired the majority
same name as the bona fide candidate shall be immediately or plurality of votes is proclaimed winner and imposed as representative of a
executory; constituency, the majority of which have positively declared through their
ballots that they do not choose him. To simplistically assume that the second
placer would have received that (sic) other votes would be to substitute our
(5) the decision or resolution of a DIVISION on nuisance candidate, judgment for the mind of the voters. He could not be considered the first
particularly where the nuisance candidate has the same name as among the qualified candidates because in a field which excludes the
the bona fide candidate shall be immediately executory after the qualified candidate, the conditions would have substantially changed.
lapse of five (5) days unless a motion for reconsideration is
seasonably filed. In which case, the votes cast shall not be
considered stray but shall be counted and tallied for the bona fide xxxxxxxxx
candidate.
The effect of a decision declaring a person ineligible to hold an office is only
All resolutions, orders and rules inconsistent herewith are hereby modified or that the election fails entirely, that the wreath of victory cannot be transferred
repealed." from the disqualified winner to the repudiated loser because the law then as
now only authorizes a declaration in favor of the person who has obtained a
plurality of votes, and does not entitle the candidate receiving the next
Considering the timely filing of a Motion for Reconsideration, the COMELEC highest number of votes to be declared elected. In such case, the electors
Second Division gravely abused its discretion in ordering the immediate have failed to make a choice and the election is a nullity. To allow the
disqualification of the petitioner and ordering the exclusion of the votes cast defeated and repudiated candidate to take over the elective position despite
in his favor. Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure is very his rejection by the electorate is to disenfranchise the electorate without any
clear that a timely Motion for Reconsideration shall suspend the execution or fault on their part and to undermine the importance and meaning of
implementation of the resolution, viz: democracy and the people's right to elect officials of their choice." 105

Section 2. Period for filing Motion for Reconsideration.- A motion to Respondent Locsin proffers a distinction between a disqualification based on
reconsider a decision, resolution, order, or ruling of a Division shall be filed personal circumstances such as age, residence or citizenship and
within five (5) days from the promulgation thereof. Such motion, if not pro disqualification based on election offenses. She contends that the election of
forma, suspends the execution or implementation of the decision, candidates later disqualified based on election offenses like those
resolution, order or ruling." (emphases supplied) enumerated in section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code should be
invalidated because they violate the very essence of suffrage and as such,
(b) Respondent Locsin, as a mere second placer, cannot be the votes cast in his favor should not be considered.106
proclaimed.

14
This contention is without merit. In the recent case of Trinidad v. final and executory."108 Clearly, the validity of respondent Locsin's
COMELEC,107 this Court ruled that the effect of a judgment disqualifying a proclamation was made a central issue in the Motion for Reconsideration
candidate, after winning the election, based on personal circumstances or seasonably filed by the petitioner. Without doubt, the COMELEC en banc
section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code is the same: the second placer has the jurisdiction to rule on the issue.
could not take the place of the disqualified winner.
The fact that the Petition for Nullity of Proclamation was filed directly with the
II COMELEC en banc is of no moment. Even without said Petition, the
COMELEC en banc could still rule on the nullity of respondent's
Whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin divested the COMELEC en proclamation because it was properly raised in the Motion for
banc of jurisdiction to review its validity. Reconsideration.

Respondent Locsin submits that the COMELEC en banc has no jurisdiction Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution empowers the COMELEC en
to annul her proclamation. She maintains that the COMELEC en banc was banc to review, on motion for reconsideration, decisions or resolutions
been divested of jurisdiction to review the validity of her proclamation decided by a division, viz:
because she has become a member of the House of Representatives. Thus,
she contends that the proper forum to question her membership to the "Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions,
House of Representatives is the House of Representative Electoral Tribunal and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of
(HRET). election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election
cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for
We find no merit in these contentions. reconsideration of decision shall be decided by the Commission en banc."

First. The validity of the respondent's proclamation was a core issue in Pursuant to this Constitutional mandate, the COMELEC Rules of Procedure
the Motion for Reconsideration seasonably filed by the petitioner. provides:

In his timely Motion for Reconsideration with the COMELEC en banc, "Rule 19. Motions for Reconsideration.-
petitioner argued that the COMELEC Second Division erred thus:
Section 1. Grounds for Motion for Reconsideration.- A motion for
"(1) in disqualifying petitioner on the basis solely of the dubious reconsideration may be filed on the grounds that the evidence is
declaration of the witnesses for respondent Locsin; insufficient to justify the decision, order or ruling, or that the said
decision, order or ruling is contrary to law.
(2) in adopting in toto the allegations of the witnesses for
respondent Locsin; and 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 thereof. Such
(3) in promulgating the resolution in violation of its own rules motion, if not pro forma, suspends the execution or
of procedure and in directing therein the immediate implementation of the decision, resolution, order or ruling."
proclamation of the second highest 'vote getter.'" (emphases
supplied)
Section 3. Form and Contents of Motion for Reconsideration.- The
motion shall be verified and shall point out specifically the findings
In support of his third assignment of error, petitioner argued that "the Second or conclusions of the decision, resolution, order or ruling which are
Division's directive for the immediate proclamation of the second highest not supported by the evidence or which are contrary to law, making
vote-getter is premature considering that the Resolution has yet to become express reference to the testimonial or documentary evidence or to

15
the provisions of law alleged to be contrary to such findings or (a) The issue on the validity of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second
resolutions. Division has not yet been resolved by the COMELEC en banc.

Section 4. Effect of Motion for Reconsideration on Period to To stress again, at the time of the proclamation of respondent Locsin, the
Appeal.- A motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or validity of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division was seasonably
ruling when not pro forma, suspends the running of the period to challenged by the petitioner in his Motion for Reconsideration. The issue was
elevate the matter to the Supreme Court. still within the exclusive jurisdiction of the COMELEC en banc to resolve.
Hence, the HRET cannot assume jurisdiction over the matter.
Section 5. How Motion for Reconsideration Disposed Of.- Upon the
filing of a motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling In Puzon vs. Cua,110 even the HRET ruled that the "doctrinal ruling that
of a Division, the Clerk of Court concerned shall, within twenty-four once a proclamation has been made and a candidate-elect has assumed
(24) hours from the filing thereof, notify the Presiding office, it is this Tribunal that has jurisdiction over an election contest involving
Commissioner. The latter shall within two (2) days thereafter certify members of the House of Representatives, could not have been
the case to the Commission en banc. immediately applicable due to the issue regarding the validity of the
very COMELEC pronouncements themselves." This is because the HRET
Section 6. Duty of the Clerk of Court of the Commission to set has no jurisdiction to review resolutions or decisions of the COMELEC,
Motion for Hearing.- The Clerk of Court concerned shall calendar whether issued by a division or en banc.
the motion for reconsideration for the resolution of the Commission
en banc within ten (10) days from the certification thereof." (b) The instant case does not involve the election and qualification of
(emphases supplied) respondent Locsin.

Since the petitioner seasonably filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Respondent Locsin maintains that the proper recourse of the petitioner is to
Order of the Second Division suspending his proclamation and disqualifying file a petition for quo warranto with the HRET.
him, the COMELEC en banc was not divested of its jurisdiction to review the
validity of the said Order of the Second Division. The said Order of the A petition for quo warranto may be filed only on the grounds of ineligibility
Second Division was yet unenforceable as it has not attained finality; the and disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines.111 In the case at bar, neither
timely filing of the motion for reconsideration suspends its execution. It the eligibility of the respondent Locsin nor her loyalty to the Republic of the
cannot, thus, be used as the basis for the assumption in office of the Philippines is in question. There is no issue that she was qualified to run,
respondent as the duly elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of and if she won, to assume office.
Leyte.
A petition for quo warranto in the HRET is directed against one who has
Second. It is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) been duly elected and proclaimed for having obtained the highest number of
which has no jurisdiction in the instant case. votes but whose eligibility is in question at the time of such proclamation. It is
evident that respondent Locsin cannot be the subject of quo warranto
Respondent contends that having been proclaimed and having taken oath as proceeding in the HRET. She lost the elections to the petitioner by a wide
representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte, any question relative to margin. Her proclamation was a patent nullity. Her premature assumption to
her election and eligibility should be brought before the HRET pursuant to office as Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte was void from
section 17 of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.109 the beginning. It is the height of absurdity for the respondent, as a loser, to
tell petitioner Codilla, Sr., the winner, to unseat her via a quo warranto
We reject respondent's contention. proceeding.

III

16
Whether it is the ministerial duty of the public respondents to 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
recognize petitioner Codilla, Sr. as the legally elected Representative alternative to the rule of law except the reign of chaos and confusion.

of the 4th legislative district of Leyte vice respondent Locsin. 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
Under Rule 65, section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, any person 4th legislative district of Leyte. Public respondent Secretary-General shall
may file a verified petition for mandamus "when any tribunal, corporation, likewise register the name of the petitioner in the Roll of Members of the
board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which House of Representatives after he has taken his oath of office. This decision
the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, shall be immediately executory.
or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or
office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law." 112 For a petition for SO ORDERED.
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

17
CASE DIGEST: On June 21, 2001, petitioner filed with the COMELEC en banc a Petition for
Declaration of Nullity of Proclamation.
G.R. No. 150605/December 10, 2002
On June 28, 2001, petitioner filed an Urgent Manifestation stating that he was
EUFROCINO M. CODILLA, SR v HON. JOSE DE VENECIA, ROBERTO P. deprived of a fair hearing on the disqualification case. On August 29, 2001,
NAZARENO and MA. VICTORIA L. LOCSIN then COMELEC Chairman Alfredo L. Benipayo issued a "Vote and Opinion
and Summary of Votes" reversing the resolution of the Second Division and
declaring the proclamation of respondent Locsin as null and void. The
FACTS: dispositive portion reads:

Petitioner Codilla and respondent Locsin were candidates for the position of Respondent Locsin did not appeal from this decision annulling her
Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte during the May 14, 2001 proclamation. Instead, she filed a "Comment and Manifestation" with the
elections. On May 8, 2001, one Josephine de la Cruz, a registered voter of COMELEC en banc questioning the procedure and the manner by which the
Kananga, Leyte, filed directly with the COMELEC main office a Petition for decision was issued.
Disqualification against the petitioner for indirectly soliciting votes from the
registered voters of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte, in violation of Section 68
(a) of the Omnibus Election Code. On May 10, 2001, the COMELEC Second On September 6, 2001, the COMELEC en banc issued an Order constituting
Division issued an Order delegating the hearing and reception of evidence on the members of the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte to implement the
the disqualification case to the Office of the Regional Director of Region aforesaid decision.
VIII. On May 11, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division sent a telegram
informing the petitioner that a disqualification case was filed against him and On September 12, 2001, petitioner Codilla was proclaimed by the Provincial
that the petition was remanded to the Regional Election Director for Board of Canvassers as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th legislative
investigation. district of Leyte.

At the time of the elections on May 14, 2001, the Regional Election Director On September 14, 2001, petitioner wrote the House of Representatives, thru
had yet to hear the disqualification case. Consequently, petitioner was respondent Speaker De Venecia, informing the House of the August 29, 2001
included in the list of candidates for district representative and was voted for. COMELEC en banc resolution annulling the proclamation of respondent
The initial results showed that petitioner was the winning candidate. Locsin, and proclaiming him as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th
legislative district of Leyte.
On May 18, 2001, respondent Locsin filed a Second Most Urgent Motion to
Suspend Proclamation of Respondent. In response, Speaker De Venecia sent a letter dated October 30, 2001, stating
that:
On May 25, 2001, petitioner filed a Motion to Lift Order of Suspension.
In this light, the accepted wisdom is that the implementation of the COMELEC
Petitioner's Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension, however, was not resolved. decision is a matter that can be best, and with finality, adjudicated by the
Instead, on June 14, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated its Supreme Court, which, hopefully, shall act on it most expeditiously."
Resolution in SPA No. 01-208. (emphases supplied)

By virtue of the said Resolution, the votes cast for petitioner, totaling 71,350, ISSUES:
were declared stray even before said Resolution could gain finality.
Respondent Locsin took her oath of office on June 18, 2001 and assumed (a) Whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin by the COMELEC Second
office on June 30, 2001. Division is valid

18
We find that the proclamation of respondent Locsin is null and void for the inducing, or corrupting the voters or public officials performing electoral
following reasons: functions.

First. The petitioner was denied due process during the entire In the case at bar, the petition for disqualification alleged that (a) petitioner
proceedings leading to the proclamation of respondent Locsin. ordered the extraction, hauling and distribution of gravel and sand, and (b) his
purpose was to induce and influence the voters of Kananga and Matag-ob,
Resolution No. 3402 clearly requires the COMELEC, through the Regional Leyte to vote for him.
Election Director, to issue summons to the respondent candidate together with
a copy of the petition and its enclosures, if any, within three (3) days from the The jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify candidates is limited to those
filing of the petition for disqualification. Undoubtedly, this is to afford the enumerated in section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code. All other election
respondent candidate the opportunity to answer the allegations in the petition offenses are beyond the ambit of COMELEC jurisdiction. They are criminal
and hear his side. To ensure compliance with this requirement, the COMELEC and not administrative in nature.
Rules of Procedure requires the return of the summons together with the proof
of service to the Clerk of Court of the COMELEC when service has been (d) Exclusion of the votes in favor of the petitioner and the proclamation
completed. of respondent Locsin was done with undue haste.

(a) Petitioner was not notified of the petition for his disqualification Second. The votes cast in favor of the petitioner cannot be considered
through the service of summons nor of the Motions to suspend his "stray" and respondent cannot be validly proclaimed on that basis.
proclamation.
(a) The order of disqualification is not yet final, hence, the votes cast in
(b) The COMELEC Second Division did not give ample opportunity to the favor of the petitioner cannot be considered "stray."
petitioner to adduce evidence in support of his defense in the petition
for his disqualification.
Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 and section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code
require a final judgment before the election for the votes of a disqualified
(c) the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division disqualifying the candidate to be considered "stray." Hence, when a candidate has not yet been
petitioner is not based on substantial evidence. disqualified by final judgment during the election day and was voted for, the
votes cast in his favor cannot be declared stray. To do so would amount to
Petitioner allegedly violated section 68 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code disenfranchising the electorate in whom sovereignty resides. For in voting for
which reads: a candidate who has not been disqualified by final judgment during the
election day, the people voted for him bona fide, without any intention to
"Section 68. Disqualifications.- Any candidate who, in action or protest in misapply their franchise, and in the honest belief that the candidate was then
which he is a party is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, qualified to be the person to whom they would entrust the exercise of the
or found by the Commission of having (a) given money or other material powers of government.
consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials
performing official functions, xxx shall be disqualified from continuing as This principle applies with greater force in the case at bar considering that
candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding office" the petitioner has not been declared by final judgment to be disqualified
not only before but even after the elections. The Resolution of the
To be disqualified under the above-quoted provision, the following elements COMELEC Second Division disqualifying the petitioner did not attain finality,
must be proved: (a) the candidate, personally or through his instructions, must and hence, could not be executed, because of the timely filing of a Motion for
have given money or other material consideration; and (b) the act of giving Reconsideration. Section 13, Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure
money or other material consideration must be for the purpose of influencing, on Finality of Decisions and Resolutions reads:

19
(c) Unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed, a decision We find no merit in these contentions.
or resolution of a Division shall become final and executory after the
lapse of five (5) days in Special Actions and Special Cases and after First. The validity of the respondent's proclamation was a core issue in
fifteen (15) days in all other actions or proceedings, following its the Motion for Reconsideration seasonably filed by the petitioner.
promulgation." (emphasis supplied)

Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution empowers the COMELEC en


(b) Respondent Locsin, as a mere second placer, cannot be proclaimed. banc to review, on motion for reconsideration, decisions or resolutions
decided by a division, viz:
In every election, the people's choice is the paramount consideration and their
expressed will must at all times be given effect. When the majority speaks and "Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and
elects into office a candidate by giving him the highest number of votes cast shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of
in the election for the office, no one can be declared elected in his place. election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election
cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for
In Domino v. COMELEC, this Court ruled, viz: reconsideration of decision shall be decided by the Commission en banc."

"It would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally Second. It is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET)
guaranteed right to suffrage if a candidate who has not acquired the majority which has no jurisdiction in the instant case.
or plurality of votes is proclaimed winner and imposed as representative of a
constituency, the majority of which have positively declared through their (a) The issue on the validity of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second
ballots that they do not choose him. To simplistically assume that the second Division has not yet been resolved by the COMELEC en banc.
placer would have received that (sic) other votes would be to substitute our
judgment 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 In Puzon vs. Cua, even the HRET ruled that the "doctrinal ruling that once a
candidate, the conditions would have substantially changed. proclamation has been made and a candidate-elect has assumed office, it is
this Tribunal that has jurisdiction over an election contest involving members
of the House of Representatives, could not have been immediately
xxxxxxxxx applicable due to the issue regarding the validity of the very COMELEC
pronouncements themselves." This is because the HRET has no jurisdiction
The effect of a decision declaring a person ineligible to hold an office is only to review resolutions or decisions of the COMELEC, whether issued by a
that the election fails entirely, that the wreath of victory cannot be transferred division or en banc.
from the disqualified winner to the repudiated loser because the law then as
now only authorizes a declaration in favor of the person who has obtained a (b) The instant case does not involve the election and qualification of
plurality of votes, and does not entitle the candidate receiving the next highest respondent Locsin.
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 take over the elective position despite his rejection by Respondent Locsin maintains that the proper recourse of the petitioner is to
the electorate is to disenfranchise the electorate without any fault on their part file a petition for quo warranto with the HRET.
and to undermine the importance and meaning of democracy and the people's
right to elect officials of their choice." A petition for quo warranto may be filed only on the grounds of ineligibility and
disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines. In the case at bar, neither the
(b) Whether said proclamation divested the COMELEC en banc of jurisdiction eligibility of the respondent Locsin nor her loyalty to the Republic of the
to review its validity Philippines is in question. There is no issue that she was qualified to run, and
if she won, to assume office.

20
A petition for quo warranto in the HRET is directed against one who has been initially ordered the proclamation of respondent Locsin; on Motion for
duly elected and proclaimed for having obtained the highest number of votes Reconsideration the COMELEC en banc set aside the order of its Second
but whose eligibility is in question at the time of such proclamation. It is evident Division and ordered the proclamation of the petitioner. The Decision of the
that respondent Locsin cannot be the subject of quo warranto proceeding in COMELEC en banc has not been challenged before this Court by respondent
the HRET. She lost the elections to the petitioner by a wide margin. Her Locsin and said Decision has become final and executory.
proclamation was a patent nullity. Her premature assumption to office as
Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte was void from the RULING:
beginning. It is the height of absurdity for the respondent, as a loser, to tell
petitioner Codilla, Sr., the winner, to unseat her via a quo warranto proceeding.
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
(c) Assuming the invalidity of said proclamation, whether it is the ministerial constitutional body with jurisdiction on the matter. The rule of law demands
duty of the public respondents to recognize petitioner Codilla, Sr. as the legally that its Decision be obeyed by all officials of the land. There is no alternative
elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte vice respondent to the rule of law except the reign of chaos and confusion.
Locsin.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition for Mandamus is granted. Public Speaker
Under Rule 65, section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, any person of the House of Representatives shall administer the oath of petitioner
may file a verified petition for mandamus "when any tribunal, corporation, EUFROCINO M. CODILLA, SR., as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th
board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which legislative district of Leyte. Public respondent Secretary-General shall likewise
the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, register the name of the petitioner in the Roll of Members of the House of
or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office Representatives after he has taken his oath of office. This decision shall be
to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and immediately executory.
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law." 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.

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

21
[G.R. No. 142038. September 18, 2000] Petitioner likewise moved for a reconsideration of the decision with respect to
the 111 ballots found by the trial court to have been written by two persons,
ROLANDO E. COLUMBRES, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON but not so ruled upon by the Second Division, again in favor of private
ELECTIONS and HILARIO DE GUZMAN, JR., respondents. respondent. Lastly, petitioner claimed that the Second Division erred in totally
disregarding his other objections and therefore urged the COMELEC EN
BANC to review the findings of the Second Division.
DECISION
On January 25, 2000, the respondent COMELEC En Banc issued its
BUENA, J.: Resolution denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration and affirming the
ruling of the Second Division.
This petition for certiorari seeks the nullification of the COMELEC En Banc
Resolution dated January 25, 2000 which affirmed the Resolution of the In resolving petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration, the respondent
Second Division setting aside the decision of the Regional Trial Court of COMELEC En Banc, in the herein assailed Resolution, said:
Dagupan City, Branch 40 in Election Case No. D- 31-98 annulling the election
and proclamation of private respondent Hilario de Guzman, Jr. as Mayor of
San Jacinto, Pangasinan in the May 11, 1998 elections. "xxx Protestant-appellee alleges that there were 124 ballots which were
written by two (2) persons, and as such they should all be annulled. Instead,
the Commission (Second Division) annulled only 13 ballots while validating
Petitioner Rolando Columbres and private respondent Hilario de Guzman, Jr. 111 ballots in favor of protestee-appellant Hilario de Guzman, Jr. Movant
were candidates for the position of Mayor of San Jacinto, Pangasinan during contends that the 13 ballots commonly invalidated by both the COMELEC
the May 11, 1998 elections. After canvassing, the Municipal Board of (Second Division) and the trial court as having been written by two persons
Canvassers proclaimed private respondent with 4,248 votes as against were no different from the 111 ballots validated by the Commission (Second
petitioner's 4,104 votes. Subsequently, petitioner filed an election protest with Division) but invalidated by the trial court.
the Regional Trial Court docketed as Election Case No. D-31-98. Petitioner
contested 42 precincts and prayed for the revision of ballots in the said
precincts. "x x x x x x x x x

On December 7, 1998, the trial court rendered its decision, declaring petitioner "xxx The finding by the Commission (Second Division) that the 111 questioned
as the duly elected mayor of San Jacinto, Pangasinan with 4,037 votes against ballots were written by the same person is a finding of fact that may not be the
3,302 votes of private respondent. subject of a motion for reconsideration. Movant protestant-appellee is not
challenging the sufficiency of the evidence in this instance but the appreciation
thereof by the Commission (Second Division)."[1]
Private respondent appealed the decision to the respondent COMELEC. The
case was docketed as COMELEC EAC No. A-20-98 and raffled to the
COMELEC Second Division. "xxx Movant protestant-appellee (also) contends that there were 120 ballots
erroneously validated by the Commission (Second Division) which were
admittedly marked. He argues that whenever ballots contain markings very
On October 5, 1999, the Second Division promulgated its Resolution reversing obvious and visible on their faces, the presumption is that the said markings
and setting aside the decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court and, on the ballots were placed thereat by the voter themselves - thus nullifying the
instead, affirmed the election and proclamation of private respondent. Private said ballots. Stated otherwise, protestant-appellee argues that the purported
respondent was declared to have won by sixty-nine (69) votes. markings on the questioned ballots are presumed to have been placed there
by the voters themselves and, unless proven otherwise, nullifies the ballots.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration with respect to the ruling of the
COMELEC Second Division, validating 120 marked ballots in favor of private
respondent, despite absence of evidence, to prove that the marks have been
placed on the ballots by third persons other than the voters themselves.

22
"We disagree. The movant is relying on an erroneous and misleading to justify the decision, order or ruling; or that the said decision, order or ruling
presumption. The rule is that no ballot should be discarded as marked unless is contrary to law."
its character as such is unmistakable. The distinction should always be
between marks that were apparently, carelessly, or innocently made, which Commissioner Dy-Liaco, in her Dissenting Opinion, correctly opined, and we
do not invalidate the ballot, and marks purposely placed thereon by the voter quote:
with a view to possible future identification of the ballot, which invalidate it.
(Cacho vs. Abad, 62 Phil. 564). The marks which shall be considered sufficient
to invalidate the ballot are those which the voter himself deliberately placed "I dissent in part from the majority conclusion that finding of facts on the one
on his ballot for the purpose of identifying it thereafter (Valenzuela vs. Carlos, hundred eleven (111) questioned ballots cannot be the subject of a motion for
42 Phil. 428). In other words, a mark placed on the ballot by a person other reconsideration considering that the movant protestant/appellee 'is not
than the voter himself does not invalidate the ballot as marked. (Tajanlangit challenging the sufficiency of evidence in this instance but the appreciation
vs. Cazenas, 5 SCRA 567)"[2] thereof by the Commission (Second Division).' Protestant/Appellee in his
discussion of his motion for reconsideration (p. 205 of the records of the case/
p. 24 of the MR pleading) imploring the Commission En Banc to review, re-
Hence, the present petition. examine and re-inspect the 111 ballots where the Trial Court and the Division
disagreed and make its own final findings and determination, in effect disputes
Petitioner raises two issues: the ruling of the Second Division implying that the appreciation is contrary to
law. Rule 19, Sec. 1 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure enumerates the
1. Whether or not, the findings of fact of the COMELEC Division, especially so grounds that may be raised in motions for reconsideration and one of which is
in matters of appreciation of ballots, is absolute and cannot be the subject of that the decision, order or ruling is contrary to law. Insufficiency of evidence to
a Motion for Reconsideration before the COMELEC En Banc; and justify the decision, order, or ruling is not the only ground for the filing of
motions for reconsideration. xxx
2. Whether or not, in appreciation of ballots, when a ballot is found to be
marked, absent any evidence aliunde, there is the presumption that the "When protestant/appellee argued that the appreciation of the Division is
markings were placed by a third person, and therefore, should not invalidate erroneous, there is the implication that such finding or ruling is contrary to law
the ballot. and thus, may be a proper subject of a motion for reconsideration."

On the first issue, indeed, the COMELEC erred when it declared that To determine the winning candidate, the application of election law and
jurisprudence in appreciating the contested ballots, is essential. Any question
on the appreciation of the ballots would directly affect the sufficiency of the
"xxx it is emphatic that the grounds of motion for reconsideration should evidence supporting the declared winner. As the Solicitor General submits in
consist of insufficiency of evidence to justify the decision, order or ruling; or his comment on the petition, any question on the sufficiency of the evidence
that the said decision, order or ruling is contrary to law. Nowhere in the supporting the assailed decision, order or ruling of a COMELEC Division is
provision can finding of fact be the subject of motion for reconsideration. The also a proper subject of a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC en
finding by the Commission (Second Division) that the 111 questioned ballots banc.
were written by the same person is a finding of fact that may not be the subject
of a motion for reconsideration. Movant protestant-appellee is not challenging
the sufficiency of the evidence in this instance but the appreciation thereof by Moreover, the opposing conclusions of the trial court and the COMELEC
the Commission (Second Division)."[3] Second Division should have prompted the COMELEC en banc to undertake
an independent appreciation of the contested ballots to see for itself which of
the conflicting rulings is valid and should be upheld.
Section 1, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure reads:
Be that as it may, it is our considered opinion, and we rule, that the COMELEC
"Section 1. Grounds of Motion for Reconsideration. - A motion for en banc gravely abused its discretion in declaring that the COMELEC
reconsideration may be filed on the grounds that the evidence is insufficient

23
Division's findings on the contested ballots are findings of facts "that may not In view of the foregoing circumstances, it appears that the COMELEC en banc
be the subject of a motion for reconsideration". was remiss in its duties to properly resolve the Motion for Reconsideration
before it. It should have given a close scrutiny of the questioned ballots and
On the second issue, petitioner argues that the findings, both by the trial court determined for itself their validity, i.e., whether they were marked ballots or
as well as the COMELEC's Second Division, are similar - that said 120 ballots not. There is truly a need to actually examine the questioned ballots in order
(Exhs "R," "R-1" and series) indeed, had markings but the trial court and the to ascertain the real nature of the alleged markings thereon. One has to see
COMELEC Second Division differed in their conclusion. The trial court nullified the writings to be able to determine whether they were written by different
the ballots (supposedly in favor of herein private respondent) for being persons, and whether they were intended to identify the ballot.
admittedly marked. On the other hand, the Second Division declared the
ballots valid because the marks were allegedly placed by third person/s, WHEREFORE, the case is hereby remanded to the COMELEC en banc for it
purposely to invalidate the ballots. Petitioner alleges that respondent to physically re-examine the contested ballots and ascertain their validity. It is
COMELEC en banc gravely abused its discretion in presuming that the further directed to resolve this case within thirty (30) days from receipt of this
markings found on the ballots have been made by third persons, absent decision in view of the proximity of the next elections.
concrete evidence showing that they were placed by the voters themselves.
This decision is immediately executory.
Petitioner is correct that there is no such presumption in law. Instead, the legal
presumption is that the sanctity of the ballot has been protected and SO ORDERED.
preserved. Where the ballot, however, shows distinct and marked
dissimilarities in the writing of the names of some candidates from the rest,
the ballot is void for having been written by two hands.[4] A ballot appearing CASE DIGEST:
to have been written by two persons is presumed to have been cast "as is"
during the voting, and this presumption can only be overcome by showing that Columbres vs. COMELEC
the ballot was tampered with after it was deposited in the ballot box.[5] G.R. No. 142038, September 18, 2000

If the COMELEC Second Division found markings in the contested 111 ballots Two issues: (1) Whether the findings of fact of the COMELEC Division,
that were placed by persons other than the voters themselves, then it should especially in matters of appreciation of ballots, is absolute and cannot be the
not have validated them. To rule the way it did, would require a showing that subject of a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC en banc;
the integrity of ballots has not been violated. Otherwise, the presumption that (2) Whether in appreciation of ballots, when a ballot is found to be
they were placed "as is" in the ballot box stands. marked, absent any evidence aliunde, there is the presumption that the
markings were placed by a third person, and therefore, should not invalidate
the ballot.
In his Comment, the Solicitor General raised the following significant
questions: "In the absence of showing that the ballot boxes were violated and HELD:
that somebody else had access to the ballots, how was the COMELEC able (1) No. What is being challenged is not the sufficiency of evidence but the
to conclude that indeed said marks were placed by persons other than the appreciation thereof by the COMELEC Division. If the appreciation of the
voters?" Indeed, the poll body is mum on how third persons were able to Division is erroneous, there is the implication that such finding or ruling is
access the questioned ballots. Furthermore, the COMELEC Second Division contrary to law and thus, may be a proper subject of a motion for
neither made a categorical finding as to whether the different markings on the reconsideration.
ballots were deliberately placed so as to sufficiently identify them or not. Yet, (2) No. There is no such presumption in law. Instead, the legal presumption is
the COMELEC en banc simplistically concluded that there was "nothing left that the sanctity of the ballot has been protected and preserved.
for xxx [it] but to affirm the VALIDITY of the questioned 120 ballots in favor of The case was remanded back to the COMELEC en banc.
protestee-appellant Hilario de Guzman, Jr."

24
MAYOR IBARRA R. MANZALA, Vs COMELEC of Barangay Poblacion; Precinct 16A of Barangay Agutay; Precinct 24A of
G.R. No. 176211 Barangay Dulangan; and Precinct 32A of Barangay Jao-asan.
May 8, 2007
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x Thereafter, petitioner filed a Reply and Answer to the Counter-Protest and
Counterclaim.
DECISION
A revision of ballots was later conducted. In its decision of December 8,
AZCUNA, J.: 2005, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of petitioner, thus:

This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for the issuance of WHEREFORE, premises considered, protestant IBARRA R. MANZALA is
a temporary restraining order (TRO), or status quo ante order, and/or writ of hereby proclaimed as the duly-elected Municipal Mayor of Magdiwang,
preliminary injunction. Romblon during the election of May 10, 2004 who won over protestee JULIE
R. MONTON with a majority of 137 valid votes and is entitled to occupy said
Petitioner Ibarra R. Manzala seeks to annul the resolution, dated August 24, position. The proclamation by the MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS
2006, of the Former Second Division[1] of the Commission on Elections of Magdiwang, Romblon that JULIE R. MONTON was the duly-elected
(COMELEC), declaring private respondent Julie R. Monton to be the duly MAYOR is hereby ANNULLED.
elected Municipal Mayor of Magdiwang, Romblon in the May 10, 2004
National and Local Elections, and the resolution of the COMELEC en SO ORDERED.[3]
banc,[2] dated January 24, 2007, denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration and affirming the Resolution of August 24, 2006 with Petitioner moved for the execution of the decision pending appeal which the
modification as to the number of votes obtained by both parties after re- trial court granted on December 16, 2005.
appreciation.
On appeal, private respondent raised the following assignment of errors: that
The antecedents are as follows: the trial court seriously erred in invalidating 144 votes of private respondent
ostensibly on the ground of pattern voting; that sets of ballots were marked,
Petitioner Ibarra R. Manzala and private respondent Julie R. Monton were as well as written by two persons; that the trial court erred in not considering
mayoralty candidates in the Municipality of Magdiwang, Romblon, during the and appreciating the objections raised by private respondent involving the
May 10, 2004 National and Local Elections. On May 13, 2004, the Municipal counter-protested precincts, and in arriving at its decision, it considered only
Board of Canvassers proclaimed private respondent as the duly elected the objections and/or exhibits of the petitioner; and that the trial court
Municipal Mayor with 2,579 votes, or a margin of 13 votes, over petitioners seriously erred when it declared petitioner as the duly elected Municipal
2,566 votes. Mayor of Magdiwang, Romblon despite the patent defects in the appealed
On May 19, 2004, petitioner filed an election protest with the Regional Trial decision.
Court of Romblon, Branch 81 (Election Protest Case No. 7), seeking recount On August 24, 2006, the Former Second Division of the COMELEC issued a
in the 10 precincts of Magdiwang on the grounds of fraud, serious Resolution which reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court. It
irregularities, and willful violation of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas found that private respondent obtained 2,560 votes, or a margin of 17 votes,
Pambansa Bilang 881) and other pertinent COMELEC rules allegedly over petitioners 2,543 votes. The dispositive portion of the Resolution reads:
committed by the voters and the Chairman and members of the Board of
Election Inspectors during the election. WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is hereby GRANTED. The December 8,
2005 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch
Private respondent filed an Answer with Counter-Protest and Counterclaim, 81, Romblon, Romblon in Election Protest Case No. 7 is hereby REVERSED
averring that the election was held peacefully with no irregularity whatsoever. and SET ASIDE.
By way of counter-protest, private respondent contested the election in
certain precincts, to wit: Precincts 41A, 40A, 39A, 38A, 37A, 36A and 35A of ACCORDINGLY, the Commission (Former Second Division) hereby
Barangay Tampayan; Precincts 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9A and 9B DECLARES protestee-appellant JULIE E. MONTON, the duly-elected

25
Municipal Mayor of Magdiwang, Romblon during the May 10, 2004 National This argument has no basis. Section 2 (2) of Article IX-C of the Constitution
and Local Elections. provides the COMELEC with quasi-judicial power to exercise exclusive
original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and
SO ORDERED.[4] qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and
appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the COMELEC en decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay
banc in its Resolution of January 24, 2007. It affirmed the earlier Resolution officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Decisions, final orders,
dated August 24, 2006 which proclaimed private respondent as the duly or rulings of the Commission on election contests involving elective
elected Municipal Mayor with modification as to the number of votes municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory, and not appealable.
obtained by both parties after re-appreciation, i.e., private respondent Section 3 thereof states the administrative power of the COMELEC, either
garnered 2,535 votes, or a margin of 60 votes, over petitioners 2,475 votes. en banc or in two divisions, to promulgate its rules of procedure in order to
expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation
Meanwhile, acting on private respondents Motion for Immediate Execution controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division,
and Issuance of an Entry of Judgment, the COMELEC en banc issued a writ provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by
of execution on February 28, 2007 declaring its Resolution of January 24, the Commission en banc.
2007 as final and executory as of February 26, 2007.
Clearly, from the decision of the trial court, the COMELEC exercises
Consequently, in the Order dated March 1, 2007, the COMELEC en banc appellate jurisdiction to review, revise, modify, or even reverse and set aside
directed the implementation of the writ of execution ordering petitioner to the decision of the former and substitute it with its own decision. In the
cease and desist from discharging the powers and functions of the Office of exercise of its adjudicatory or quasi-judicial powers, the Constitution also
the Municipal Mayor of Magdiwang, Romblon; to relinquish and vacate the mandates the COMELEC to hear and decide cases first by division and upon
post in favor of private respondent; and to cause the smooth turn-over of the motion for reconsideration, by the COMELEC en banc. Election cases
office to the latter. cannot be treated in a similar manner as criminal cases where, upon appeal
from a conviction by the trial court, the whole case is thrown open for review
On February 1, 2007, petitioner filed this petition for certiorari and prohibition and the appellate court can resolve issues which are not even set forth in the
contending that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion pleadings. In the present case, the COMELEC en banc had thoroughly
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in declaring private respondent as reviewed the decision of its Former Second Division and affirmed the
the duly elected Municipal Mayor of Magdiwang, Romblon with a prayer that findings thereof with modification as to the number of votes obtained by both
the COMELEC be directed to cease and desist from implementing the parties after re-appreciation, that is, private respondent obtained 2,535
challenged Resolutions of August 24, 2006 and January 24, 2007. votes, or a margin of 60 votes, over petitioners 2,475 votes.

Private respondent maintains that to allow the arguments of the petitioner to Petitioner further contends that the trial courts judicial appreciation of the
prevail would make him assume office by the grace of impropriety and contested ballots [should be] honored, respected, and given the importance
misappreciation of ballots by the lower court, whose decision has already it deserves by [this] Court.
been reversed and set aside by the Former Second Division of the
COMELEC and affirmed by the Commission en banc. This contention has no merit. Section 2, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court states
that from a judgment or final order or resolution of the COMELEC, the
The petition should be dismissed. aggrieved party, herein petitioner, may file a petition for certiorari under Rule
65. Thus, in a special civil action of certiorari under Section 1 of Rule 65, the
only question that may be raised and/or resolved is whether or not the
Petitioner argues that the motion for reconsideration filed with the Former COMELEC had acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
Second Division of the COMELEC has thrown the whole case wide open for excess of jurisdiction.[5] Such fact does not exist in the present case.
review as in a trial de novo in a criminal case, yet the COMELEC en banc
failed to conduct a thorough review of the contested ballots. Moreover, the appreciation of the contested ballots and election documents
involves a question of fact best left to the determination of the COMELEC, a

26
specialized agency tasked with the supervision of elections all over the
country. To reiterate, the COMELEC is the constitutional commission vested
with the exclusive original jurisdiction over election contests involving
regional, provincial and city officials, as well as appellate jurisdiction over
election protests involving elective municipal and barangay officials.
Consequently, in the absence of grave abuse of discretion or any
jurisdictional infirmity or error of law, the factual findings, conclusions, rulings
and decisions rendered by the said Commission on matters falling within its
competence shall not be interfered with by this Court.[6]

Finally, to justify the issuance of an injunctive relief, petitioner claims that


there had been a misinterpretation and misapplication of the law by the
COMELEC and that should the facts and circumstances presented in this
petition be sufficiently persuasive, a writ of preliminary injunction or a
temporary restraining order be issued to prevent the public respondent
COMELEC from disrupting the stability of governance in the Municipality of
Magdiwang, Province of Romblon, in the meantime that the petition is being
reviewed.

As a consequence of the dismissal of the instant petition, petitioners prayer


for any form of injunctive relief, perforce, has no factual and legal basis.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of showing that the


Commission on Elections committed any grave abuse of discretion in issuing
the assailed Resolution, dated August 24, 2006, by the Former Second
Division and the Resolution, dated January 24, 2007, by the Commission en
banc, which declared private respondent Julie R. Monton to be the duly
elected Municipal Mayor of Magdiwang, Romblon in the May 10, 2004
National and Local Elections.
Accordingly, the Commission on Elections en banc is DIRECTED to forthwith
cause the full implementation of the Writ of Execution it issued on February
28, 2007 and the Order of March 1, 2007.

In view of the proximity of the next National and Local Elections on May 14,
2007, this Decision is IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

27
CASE DIGEST: 1. Yes. Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on
election contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be
21. Manzala vs. Commission on Elections final, executory, and not appealable. In the exercise of its adjudicatory or
G. R. No. 176211, May 8, 2007 quasi-judicial powers, the Constitution also mandates the COMELEC to hear
Appellate jurisdiction of Comelec and decide cases first by division and upon motion for reconsideration, by
the COMELEC en banc. Election cases cannot be treated in a similar
manner as criminal cases where, upon appeal from a conviction by the trial
FACTS: Petitioner Ibarra R. Manzala and private respondent Julie R. Monton court, the whole case is thrown open for review and the appellate court can
were mayoralty candidates in the Municipality of Magdiwang, Romblon, resolve issues which are not even set forth in the pleadings. In the present
during the May 10, 2004 National and Local Elections. On May 13, 2004, the case, the COMELEC en banc had thoroughly reviewed the decision of its
Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed private respondent as the duly Former Second Division and affirmed the findings thereof with modification
elected Municipal Mayor with 2,579 votes, or a margin of 13 votes, over as to the number of votes obtained by both parties after re-appreciation, that
petitioners 2,566 votes. is, private respondent obtained 2,535 votes, or a margin of 60 votes, over
petitioners 2,475 votes.
On May 19, 2004, petitioner filed an election protest with the RTC of
Romblon seeking recount in the 10 precincts of Magdiwang on the grounds 2. No. The appreciation of the contested ballots and election
of fraud, serious irregularities, and willful violation of the Omnibus Election documents involves a question of fact best left to the determination of the
Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang 881) and other pertinent COMELEC rules COMELEC, a specialized agency tasked with the supervision of elections all
allegedly committed by the voters and the Chairman and members of the over the country. To reiterate, the COMELEC is the constitutional
Board of Election Inspectors during the election. commission vested with the exclusive original jurisdiction over election
contests involving regional, provincial and city officials, as well as appellate
The trial court rendered judgment in favor of petitioner. Petitioner moved for jurisdiction over election protests involving elective municipal and barangay
the execution of the decision pending appeal which the trial court granted on officials.
December 16, 2005.

On August 24, 2006, the Former Second Division of the COMELEC issued a
Resolution which reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court. It
found that private respondent obtained 2,560 votes, or a margin of 17 votes,
over petitioners 2,543 votes.

Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied by the COMELEC En


Banc in its Resolution of January 24, 2007. It later affirmed the earlier
Resolution dated August 24, 2006.

On February 1, 2007, petitioner filed this petition for certiorari and


prohibition.

ISSUE:
1. WON COMELEC has appellate jurisdiction to review, revise,
modify, or even reverse and set aside the decision of the RTC?
2. WON the RTC’s ruling on the validity of the ballots should not be
disturbed

HELD:

28
G.R. No. 167033 April 12, 2006 returns, denying all petitions for exclusion from canvass of the contested
returns, canvassed the election returns, then entered and tallied into the
ESTRELITA "NENG" JULIANO, Petitioner, statement of votes the figures and proclaimed the winning candidates;
vs. that the Bedol Board proclaimed respondent Sema as the duly elected
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND MUSLIMIN SEMA, Respondents. Mayor of Cotabato City; that petitioner filed on June 2, 2004 a
consolidated petition to nullify canvass proceedings and/or
proclamation undertaken by the CBOC on June 1, 2004.
DECISION
Petitioner raised the following issues as a ground to nullify respondent’s
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: proclamation, to wit:

This resolves the petition for certiorari, filed by Estrelita "Neng" Juliano 1. Petitioner was never notified of the new and advanced schedule
(petitioner), seeking to set aside the Order of the Commission on of the resumption of canvassing in the Comelec Main Office,
Elections En Banc (COMELEC En Banc) dated February 10, 2005 which Manila, hence, the proceedings was illegal;
affirmed the Resolution dated October 13, 2004 of the COMELEC 2nd
Division dismissing the pre-proclamation controversy filed by petitioner
Estrelita "Neneng" Juliano. 2. There are 108 contested election returns which petitioner alleged
to be spurious and manufactured, and will adversely affect the
result of the election if the respective votes of the parties be
A thorough scrutiny of the records reveals that the narration of the deducted from the final tally;
antecedent facts set forth in the COMELEC 2nd Division Resolution is
undisputed; hence, portions thereof are reproduced hereunder:
3. In relation to issue number 2, CBOC should have suspended the
proclamation as prescribed in Section 36, par. f of Resolution No.
The factual allegations of both parties reveal that Cotabato City has a total of 6669 of the Commission;
five hundred seventy-seven (577) clustered polling precincts distributed
among thirty-seven (37) barangays; that the first City Board of Canvassers
chaired by Atty. Yogie Martirizar convened on May 10, 2004 and conducted 4. There are 54 election returns included by the CBOC in the
its proceedings until May 16, 2004; that on May 12, 2004, however, canvassing but which were not part of the inventory conducted by
petitioner filed an ex parte petition to replace membership of the first CBOC the Surmieda Board;1 (Emphasis supplied)
and was granted by the Commission; that the second CBOC was chaired by
Atty. Jubil Surmieda and conducted canvassing proceedings from May 16 to The COMELEC 2nd Division issued its Resolution dated October 13, 2004
22, 2004; that petitioner also sought the transfer of the canvassing from the ruling that:
Session Hall of the Sangguniang Panlungsod to the 6th ID camp, Awang,
Maguindanao; that the Surmieda Board also failed to finish the canvassing x x x the allegations of the petitioner in relation to the 108 returns cannot be
and was replaced by another CBOC chaired by Atty. Lintang Bedol, which properly resolved in this pre-proclamation controversy as it would require the
conducted the canvassing from May 24 to May 29, 2004; that this Commission to go beyond the face of the election returns, in order to find out
canvassing was interrupted by another petition filed by Juliano praying for that the same were really manufactured and spurious. Furthermore, upon
the transfer of the canvassing from Awang, Maguindanao to the Comelec perusal of the returns, We find the same to be in order. This finding is,
main office in Manila, which was again granted by the Commission; that the however, without prejudice to the filing of the proper election protest in order
new venue of the canvassing was held at the Session Hall of the Comelec that a thorough evaluation of the returns will be conducted, which may
main office in Manila; that a notice was issued on May 29, 2004 by the Bedol include the examination of the signatures of the Board of Election
Board stating that the resumption of canvassing in Manila will be on inspectors." 21avvphil.net
"Wednesday, June 2, 2004, at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon"; that despite the
notice, the Bedol Board resumed its canvassing on June 1, 2004 at 1:45
p.m. at the Comelec Session Hall, promulgated its rulings on all contested

29
With regard to the alleged lack of notice to petitioner of the June 1, 2004 Section 6, Rule 18 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure provides:
canvassing, the COMELEC 2nd Division held that petitioner should be
deemed notified of the June 1, 2004 canvassing because during said Sec. 6. Procedure if Opinion is Equally Divided. – When the Commission en
proceedings, one of petitioner’s counsel, Atty. Javines, was present along banc is equally divided in opinion, or the necessary majority cannot be had,
with petitioner’s watchers. the case shall be reheard, and if on rehearing no decision is reached, the
action or proceeding shall be dismissed if originally commenced in the
Thus, the dispositive portion, to wit: Commission; in appealed cases, the judgment or order appealed from shall
stand affirmed; and in all incidental matters, the petition or motion shall be
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present pre-proclamation denied.
controversy praying for the nullification of the proclamation of respondent
Muslimin Sema is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit, without prejudice, After "re-consultation", the members chose to maintain their votes. Upon
however, to the filing of the proper election protest. 3 failing to obtain a majority vote on the Resolution dated February 10, 2005,
the COMELEC En Banc issued the Order also dated February 10, 2005, the
On October 23, 2004, petitioner filed a motion for dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
reconsideration.1avvphil.net On January 17, 2005, she filed her own Affidavit
of Disavowal, stating that she never engaged the legal services of Atty. PREMISES CONSIDERED, after due re-consultation of the results of the en
Ronald Javines (Annex "H")4 and the Affidavit of Atty. Ronald Javines, banc voting which remains to be 3:3:1, pursuant to Sec. 6, Rule 18 of the
corroborating petitioner’s statement in her affidavit (Annex "I"). 5 Comelec Rules of Procedure, the resolution of the Second Division subject
of the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby AFFIRMED.
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was elevated to the COMELEC En
Banc and Commissioner Rufino S.B. Javier was assigned as ponente. A SO ORDERED.10
Resolution under the ponencia of said Commissioner was issued on
February 10, 2005, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: Hence, petitioner filed the present petition for certiorari raising the following
issues:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is
hereby GRANTED. The Resolution of the Commission (Second Division) WHETHER OR NOT THE LACK OF NOTICE BY THE BEDOL BOARD TO
promulgated last October 13, 2004 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The PETITIONER AND/OR PETITIONER’S COUNSEL ON THE RESUMPTION
proclamation of Respondent Muslimin Sema is ANNULLED as the OF CANVASS ON JUNE 1, 2004 TO THE TRANSFERRED VENUE AT THE
proceedings attendant thereto is illegal. The Election Records and Statistics SESSION HALL OF THE MAIN OFFICE OF PUBLIC RESPONDENT IN
Division is hereby directed to conduct an examination whether or not the one INTRAMUROS, MANILA WAS CURED BY THE PRESENCE OF
hundred eight (108) election returns involved in this case are, as claimed by PETITIONER’S WATCHER AND ATTY. RONALD B. JAVINES, WHO
the petitioner, written by one. The examination must be done within ten (10) APPEARED AS COUNSEL FOR KNP/PMP CONGRESSIONAL
days from receipt hereof and the ERSD should submit its report to the CANDIDATE BAI ZENY G. DILANGALEN AND KNP/PNP [sic]
Commission en banc on the matter within ten (10) days from termination of SENATORIAL CANDIDATE DIDAGEN P. DILANGALEN; and
the examination. Thereafter, the Commission en banc shall immediately
evaluate the report and set the case for hearing if there is a need therefore.
Forthwith, we shall issue a Resolution on the issue of exclusion of the WHETHER OR NOT PUBLIC RESPONDENT HAS THE POWER TO (i)
contested election returns. In the meantime, the vice-mayor shall temporarily DETERMINE AUTHENTICITY OF ELECTION RETURNS; (ii)
assume the position of Mayor of Cotabato City.6 INVESTIGATE BEYOND THE RETURNS; AND (iii) ADOPT MEANS AND
METHODS TO ASCERTAIN AUTHENTICITY OF ELECTION
RETURNS.|avvphi|.net
However, only three members7 of the COMELEC En Banc voted in favor of
granting the Motion for Reconsideration, three members 8 dissented, and
one9 member took no part.

30
Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the petition should be dismissed Banc first issued an order setting the case for hearing and allowed the
outright because petitioner failed to allege grave abuse of discretion parties to submit their respective memoranda before voting anew on therein
committed by the COMELEC En Banc and its 2nd Division. petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. This should have been the proper
way for the Comelec En Banc to act on herein petitioner’s motion for
Indeed, it is well settled that "unless the COMELEC is shown to have reconsideration when the first voting was equally divided. Its own Rules of
committed grave abuse of discretion, its decision will not be interfered with Procedure calls for a rehearing where the parties would have the opportunity
by this Court."11 Considering, though, that the Resolution of COMELEC 2nd to strengthen their respective positions or arguments and convince the
Division dated October 13, 2004 was affirmed merely because the voting of members of the Comelec En Banc of the merit of their case. Thus, when the
the COMELEC En Banc on the Resolution dated February 10, 2005 penned Comelec En Banc failed to give petitioner the rehearing required by the
by Commissioner Rufino S.B. Javier (which reversed and set aside the Comelec Rules of Procedure, said body acted with grave abuse of
Resolution dated October 13, 2004), was equally divided, this Court is discretion.
compelled to look deeper into this case.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The case
Section 6, Rule 18 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure specifically states that is REMANDED to the COMELEC En Banc. The COMELEC En
if the opinion of the Comelec En Banc is equally divided, the case shall Banc is ORDERED to conduct forthwith the rehearing required under the
be reheard. The Court notes, however, that the Order of the Comelec En COMELEC Rules of Procedure and render the appropriate decision thereon.
Bancdated February 10, 2005 clearly stated that what was conducted was a
mere "re-consultation." SO ORDERED.

A "re-consultation" is definitely not the same as a "rehearing".

A consultation is a "deliberation of persons on some subject;"12 hence, a re-


consultation means a second deliberation of persons on some subject.

Rehearing is defined as a "second consideration of cause for purpose of


calling to court’s or administrative board’s attention any error, omission, or
oversight in first consideration. A retrial of issues presumes notice to
parties entitled thereto and opportunity for them to be
heard"13 (Emphasis supplied). But as held in Samalio v. Court Of Appeals,14

A formal or trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential.
The requirements are satisfied where the parties are afforded fair and
reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand.

Thus, a rehearing clearly presupposes the participation of the opposing


parties for the purpose of presenting additional evidence, if any, and further
clarifying and amplifying their arguments; whereas, a re-consultation
involves a re-evaluation of the issues and arguments already on hand only
by the members of the tribunal, without the participation of the parties.

In Belac v. Comelec,15 when the voting of the Comelec En Banc on therein


petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was equally divided, the Comelec En

31
G.R. No. 170678 July 17, 2006 On May 21, 2004, private respondent filed with the COMELEC a petition to
annul the proclamation of the petitioner for being premature and illegal. The
ROMMEL G. MUÑOZ, petitioner, case was docketed as SPC No. 04-124 and raffled to the COMELEC First
vs. Division.8
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, CARLOS IRWIN G. BALDO,
JR., respondents. On October 25, 2004, the COMELEC First Division rendered a Resolution in
SPC No. 04-124 granting the petition to annul the proclamation. The
DECISION dispositive portion thereof reads:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Commission (FIRST


DIVISION) hereby GRANTS the Petition. The proclamation of x x x
ROMMEL MUñOZ as winning candidate for mayor of Camalig,
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for the issuance of Albay is ANNULLED for having been made in an irregular
a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order filed by proceeding and for being precipitate and premature.
petitioner Rommel G. Muñoz assailing the Resolution 1 dated December 15,
2005 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En Banc in SPC No. 04-
124 which affirmed the Resolution2dated October 25, 2004 of the COMELEC SO ORDERED.9
First Division granting the petition of private respondent Carlos Irwin G.
Baldo, Jr. to annul petitioner's proclamation as mayor of Camalig, Albay. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration10 was denied for lack of merit by the
COMELEC En Banc in a Resolution dated December 15, 2005, thus:
The facts of the case are as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission En Banc
Petitioner and private respondent were candidates for mayor of Camalig, hereby DENIES the Motion for Reconsideration filed by x x x Muñoz
Albay in the May 10, 2004 election.3 At 6:00 o'clock in the evening of May for lack of merit. Accordingly, the ANNULMENT and SETTING
10, 2004, the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) convened and ASIDE, by the First Division, of the proclamation of x x x ROMMEL
canvassed the election returns (ER).4 MUñOZ as the duly elected Mayor is hereby AFFIRMED.

On May 11, 2004, the lawyers of private respondent objected to the inclusion The Regional Election Director of Region V, Atty. Zacarias C.
of the 26 ERs from various precincts based on the following grounds: 1) Zaragoza, Jr., is hereby DIRECTED to constitute a new Municipal
eight ERs lack inner seal; 2) seven ERs lack material data; 3) one ER lack Board of Canvassers from among the Election Officers in the
signatures; 4) four ERs lack signatures and thumbmarks of the members of Region.
the Board of Election Inspectors on the envelope containing them; 5) one ER
lack the name and signature of the poll clerk on the second page thereof; 6) Accordingly, the new Municipal Board of Canvassers of Camalig,
one ER lack the number of votes in words and figures; and 7) four ERs were Albay is hereby DIRECTED to:
allegedly prepared under intimidation.5
a) RECONVENE, and after due notice to all
On May 13, 2004, the MBC denied the objections and ruled to include the parties/candidates concerned,
objected ERs in the canvass. Private respondent appealed the said ruling to
the COMELEC on May 18, 2004 and was docketed as SPC No. 04-087 and b) RE-CANVASS all the election returns of Camalig,
raffled to the COMELEC First Division.6 Albay, and on the basis thereof,

Despite the pendency of the appeal, petitioner was proclaimed on May 19, c) PREPARE a new Certificate of Canvass, and forthwith
2004 by the MBC as the winning candidate for mayor of Camalig, Albay. 7

32
d) PROCLAIM the winning candidates for Mayoralty JURISDICTION WHEN IT ISSUED THE ASSAILED RESOLUTION
position. DIRECTING THE NEW MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS
OF CAMALIG, ALBAY, TO RECONVENE AND RE-CANVASS ALL
SO ORDERED.11 ELECTION RESULTS OF CAMALIG, ALBAY, FOR BEING
CONTRARY TO LAW.13
Hence, petitioner files the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition with
prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary The foregoing issues may be summarized into two: 1) whether or not the
restraining order. COMELEC First Division committed grave abuse of discretion when it
decided only the Petition to Annul Proclamation despite the agreement of the
parties to consolidate private respondent's appeal from the ruling of the MBC
On January 17, 2006, the Court issued a temporary restraining order since both cases were raffled to the same Division and the issue in the latter
effective immediately and ordered the COMELEC to cease and desist from case was connected to, if not determinative of, the merits of the former case;
implementing and enforcing the December 15, 2005 Resolution in SPC No. and 2) whether or not the COMELEC En Banc correctly ordered the new
04-124.12 MBC to re-canvass all the ERs and to proclaim the winner on the basis
thereof despite the pendency of the appeal with the First Division.
Petitioner relies on the following grounds in support of his petition:
The petition is partly granted.
I
Anent the first issue, we find no merit in petitioner's contention.
THE PUBLIC [RESPONDENT] COMELEC COMMITTED GRAVE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS While Section 9, Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides that
OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT ISSUED THE ASSAILED "when an action or proceeding involves a question of law and fact which is
RESOLUTION DENYING FOR LACK OF MERIT PETITIONER'S similar to or common with that of another action or proceeding, the
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF THE 25 OCTOBER [2004] same may be consolidated with the action or proceeding bearing the lower
RESOLUTION OF THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT'S FIRST docket number," however, this rule is only permissive, not mandatory. We
DIVISION, FOR BEING CONTRARY TO LAW, RULES AND have consistently held that the term "may" is indicative of a mere possibility,
WELL-SETTLED JURISPRUDENCE; an opportunity or an option. The grantee of that opportunity is vested with a
right or faculty which he has the option to exercise. If he chooses to exercise
II the right, he must comply with the conditions attached thereto,14 which in this
case require that the cases to be consolidated must involve similar questions
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF of law and fact.
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
JURISDICTION WHEN IT ISSUED THE ASSAILED RESOLUTION In the case at bar, the consolidation of SPC No. 04-087 with SPC No. 04-
ANNULLING AND SETTING ASIDE THE PROCLAMATION OF 124 is inappropriate as they do not involve similar questions of law and fact.
PETITIONER AS DULY ELECTED MAYOR OF CAMALIG, ALBAY SPC No. 04-087 assails the inclusion of the 26 ERs by the MBC on the
WITHOUT FIRST RESOLVING THE PENDING APPEAL FIRST ground that these were incomplete, contained material defects and were
INITIATED, SPC 04-87; prepared under intimidation, issues which are proper for a pre-proclamation
controversy under paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 243 of the Omnibus
III Election Code. On the other hand, SPC No. 04-124 is a petition for the
annulment of petitioner's proclamation for allegedly being prematurely done,
in violation of Section 36(i) of COMELEC Resolution No. 6669 15 which
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF instructs the board of canvassers "not proclaim any candidate as winner
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF unless authorized by the Commission after the latter has ruled on the

33
objections brought to it on appeal by the losing party; [a]ny proclamation The phrase "results of the election" is not statutorily defined. However, it had
made in violation hereof shall be void ab initio, unless the contested been jurisprudentially explained in Lucero v. Commission on Elections19 to
returns/certificates will not affect the results of the elections." In fine, SPC mean:
No. 04-087 pertains to the preparation of the ERs which is a pre-
proclamation controversy, while SPC No. 04-124 refers to the conduct of the [T]he net result of the election in the rest of the precincts in a given
MBC in proclaiming the petitioner without authority of the COMELEC. constituency, such that if the margin of a leading candidate over
that of his closest rival in the latter precincts is less than the total
Mere pendency of the two cases before the same division of the COMELEC number of votes in the precinct where there was failure of election,
is not a ground for their outright consolidation. The discretion to consolidate then such failure would certainly affect "the result of the election." 20
cases may be exercised only when the conditions are present. In any event,
the records are bereft of evidence that the parties agreed to consolidate the Although the Lucero case involves a failure of election, the definition of
two cases or that the COMELEC First Division had granted the same. "results of election" applies to the disposition of contested election returns
under Section 20(i) of R.A. No. 7166. In both situations, the law endeavors to
Further, we find that the COMELEC First Division correctly annulled the determine the will of the people in an expeditious manner in that if the total
proclamation of the petitioner. Time and again, this Court has given its number of votes in the precinct where there is a failure of election or in case
imprimatur on the principle that COMELEC is with authority to annul any of the contested ERs, is less than the lead of a candidate over his closest
canvass and proclamation which was illegally made.16 At the time the rival, the results of the election would not be adversely affected. Hence, a
proclamation was made, the COMELEC First Division had not yet resolved proclamation may be made because the winning candidate can be
SPC No. 04-087. Pursuant to Section 36(i) of COMELEC Resolution No. ascertained. Otherwise, a special election must be held or an authorization
6669, which finds basis in Section 20(i) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. of the COMELEC is necessary after ruling on the objections brought to it on
7166,17 the MBC should not have proclaimed petitioner as the winning appeal by the losing party in order to determine the will of the electorate.
candidate absent the authorization from the COMELEC. Any proclamation Proclamation made in violation of the rules is void ab initio as it would be
made under such circumstances is void ab initio.18 based on an incomplete canvass of votes. It is well settled that an
incomplete canvass of votes is illegal and cannot be the basis of a
We likewise do not agree with petitioner's contention that the proclamation subsequent proclamation. A canvass is not reflective of the true vote of the
was valid as the contested ERs will not affect the results of the election. electorate unless the board of canvassers considers all returns and omits
none.21
Section 20(i) of R.A. No. 7166 reads:
In the case at bar, petitioner obtained a margin of 762 votes over the private
respondent based on the canvass of the uncontested ERs whereas the total
Sec. 20. Procedure in Disposition of Contested Election Returns. – number of votes in the 26 contested ERs is 5,178, which is higher than the
762-lead of the petitioner over the private respondent. Clearly, the results of
xxxx the election would be adversely affected by the uncanvassed returns.

(i) The board of canvassers shall not proclaim any candidate as As aptly held by the COMELEC First Division:
winner unless authorized by the Commission after the latter has
ruled on the objections brought to it on appeal by the losing party. The votes obtained by petitioner and private respondent tallied in
Any proclamation made in violation hereof shall be void ab the contested election returns can not be the basis of the partial
initio, unless the contested returns will not adversely affect the proclamation. The objected election returns cannot be considered,
results of the election. (Emphasis supplied) even provisionally, as the true and final result of the elections in the
contested precincts. The possibility remains, remote thought (sic) it
may be that they could be excluded and the results reflected therein
disregarded. The contested election returns involved 5,178 votes as

34
this is the number of voters who actually voted in the precincts more than two years now due to these cases, the COMELEC First Division is
covered by the objections. The lead of [petitioner] over [private directed to expeditiously resolve SPC No. 04-087, which is summary in
respondent] as shown in the uncontested returns was less than this nature.
number. Clearly, the results of the elections could be adversely
affected by the uncanvassed returns. Truly, the Board erred in its WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED.
perception that its partial proclamation was warranted.22 The December 15, 2005 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc in SPC No.
04-124 which affirmed the annulment and setting aside by its First Division of
While the COMELEC En Banc correctly affirmed the October 25, 2004 the proclamation of petitioner Rommel G. Muñoz as Mayor of Camalig, Albay
Resolution of its First Division in SPC 04-124 insofar as it annulled for being premature, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the order
petitioner's proclamation, however, we find that it exceeded its authority and to constitute a new Municipal Board of Canvassers to re-canvass all the
thus gravely abused its discretion when it ordered the new MBC to re- election returns of Camalig, Albay; to prepare a new Certificate of Canvass;
canvass all ERs even before its First Division could decide on SPC No. 04- and to declare the winning candidate for mayoralty position is SET
087 filed by private respondent assailing the ruling of the MBC to include the ASIDE for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion. The temporary
26 contested ERs in the canvass. restraining order issued on January 17, 2006 is hereby SET ASIDE.

Section 3 of Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution provides: SO ORDERED.

Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two


divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to Rommel G. Munoz, vs. Commission on Elections, Carlos Irwin G.
expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation Baldo, Jr.,
controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in G.R No. 170678
division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall July 17, 2006
be decided by the Commission en banc.
Use of word “may”
In Sarmiento v. Commission on Elections23 and Zarate v. Commission on
Elections,24 the Court similarly held that "election cases must first be heard Facts of the Case
and decided by a Division of the Commission," and that the "Commission,
sitting en banc, does not have the authority to hear and decide the same at  Petitioner and private respondent were candidates for mayor of
the first instance." Camalig, Albay in the May 10, 2004 election.

 At 6:00 o’clock in the evening of May 10, 2004, the Municipal Board
Thus, in Acosta v. Commission on Elections,25 the Court held that the of Canvassers (MBC) convened and canvassed the election returns
COMELEC En Banc violated the foregoing Constitutional mandate when it (ER).
affirmed the trial court's decision that was not the subject of the special civil
action before it, but of the appeal filed by therein petitioner, which was still
 On May 11, 2004, the lawyers of private respondent objected to the
undocketed at the time and the parties have not yet submitted any evidence
inclusion of the 26 ERs from various precincts based on the
in relation thereto.
following grounds
◦ 1) eight ERs lack inner seal;
Clearly, by ordering the re-canvass of all the ERs in SPC No. 04-124, the ◦ 2) seven ERs lack material data
COMELEC En Banc in effect rendered a decision on the merits of SPC No. ◦ 3) one ER lack signatures;
04-087, which up to the present is still pending before its First Division, in ◦ 4) four ERs lack signatures and thumbmarks of the
violation of the rule that it does not have the authority to hear and decide members of the Board of Election Inspectors on the
election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, at the first envelope containing them;
instance. As the proclamation of the winning candidate has been delayed for

35
◦ 5) one ER lack the name and signature ofthe poll clerk
on the second page thereof; 1. WON the COMELEC First Division committed a grave abuse of
◦ 6) one ER lack the number of votes in words and figures; discretion when it decided only the Petition to Annul Proclamation
and despite the agreement of the parties to consolidate private respondent’s
◦ 7) four ERs were allegedly prepared under intimidation. appeal from the ruling of MBC since both cases were raffled to the same
Division and the issue in the latter case was not connected to, if not
 On May 13, 2004, the MBC denied the objections and ruled to determinative of, the merits of the former case?
include the objected ERs in the canvass. Private respondent
appealed the said ruling to the COMELEC on May 18, 2004 and 2. WON the COMELEC En Banc correctly ordered the new MBC to re
was docketed as SPC No. 04-087 and raffled to the COMELEC canvass all the ERs and to proclaim the winner on the basis thereof
First Division. the pendency of the appeal
with the First Division?
 Despite the pendency of the appeal, petitioner was proclaimed on
May 19, 2004 by the MBC as the winning candidate for mayor of SC RULING
Camalig, Albay
NO, Section 9, Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides:
 On May 21, 2004, private respondent filed with the COMELEC a
petition to annul the proclamation of the petitioner for being “when an action or proceeding involves a question of law and fact
premature and illegal. The case was docketed as SPC No. 04-124 which is similar to or common with that of another action or proceeding,
and raffled to the COMELEC First Division.[8] the same may be consolidated with the action or proceeding bearing the
lower docket number”
COMELEC Ruling
SC RULING
 On October 25, 2004, the COMELEC First Division rendered a
Resolution in SPC No. 04-124 granting the petition to annul the  The rule is only permissive, not mandatory.
proclamation. The dispositive portion thereof reads:  The term “may” is indicative of a mere possibility, an opportunity or
◦ WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Commission an option.
(FIRST DIVISION) hereby GRANTS the Petition. The  The grantee is vested with a right or faculty which he has the option
proclamation of x x x ROMMEL MUÑOZ as winning to exercise.
candidate for mayor of Camalig, Albay is ANNULLED for  If he chooses to exercise the right, he must comply with the
having been made in an irregular proceeding and for being conditions attached thereto.
precipitate and premature.  The cases to be consolidated must involve similar questions of law
and fact.
Action to SC
SC RULING
 This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition for the issuance of a
writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order filed In the case at bar, the consolidation of SPC No. 04-087 with SPC No. 04-
by petitioner assailing the Resolution dated December 15, 2005 of 124 is inappropriate as they do not involve similar questions of law and fact.
COMELEC En Banc in SPC No. 04-124 which affirmed the SPC No. 04-087 pertains to the preparation of the ERs which is a pre-
Resolution dated October 25, 2004 of the COMELEC First Division proclamation controversy
granting the petition of private respondent to annul petitioner’s
proclamation as mayor of Camalig, Albay. WHILE

ISSUE:

36
SPC No. 04-124 refers to the conduct of the MBC in the proclaiming the
petitioner without authority of the COMELEC.

SC RULING
 Mere pendency of the two cases before the same division of the
COMELEC is not a ground for their outright consolidation.

 The discretion to consolidate cases may be exercise only


when the conditions are present

 SC RULING On Re-canvassing:
NO. It exceeded it’s authority by ordering the re-canvass of all the
ERs. The COMELEC En Banc in effect rendered a decision on
the merits of SPC No. 04-087, which up to the present is still
pending before its First Division, in violation of the rule that it
does not have the authority to hear and decide election cases,
including pre proclamation controversies, at the first instance.

On Proclamation:

YES. The court has given its imprimatur on the principle that
COMELEC is with authority to annul any canvass and proclamation which
was illegally made.

SC RULING
 WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing m the petition is
PARTLY GRANTED. The December 15, 2005 Resolution of
the COMELEC En Banc in SPC No. 04-124 which affirmed
the annulment and setting aside by its First Division of the
proclamation of petitioner Rommel G. Munoz as Mayor of
Camalig, Albay for being premature, is AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that the order to constitute a new Municipal
Board of Canvassers to re-canvass all the election returns of
Camalig, Albay; to prepare a new Certificate of Canvass;
and to declare the winning candidate for mayoralty position is SET
ASIDE for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion.
The TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER issued on January 17,
2006 is herby SET ASIDE.

37
[G.R. No. 153945. February 4, 2003] On September 16, 1997, the Election Officer of Cavite City forwarded copies
of petitioners Voters Registration Records to the Provincial Election
REYNATO BAYTAN, REYNALDO BAYTAN and ADRIAN BAYTAN, Supervisor, Atty. Juanito V. Ravanzo (Ravanzo for brevity), for evaluation.
petitioners, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent. Ravanzo endorsed the matter to the Regional Director for prosecution.
Eventually, the Law Department endorsed the case to Ravanzo for
DECISION resolution.

CARPIO, J.: On January 10, 1998, Ravanzo recommended filing an information for
double registration against petitioners. In an en banc meeting held on
The Case November 09, 2000, the COMELEC in its Minute Resolution No. 00-2281
affirmed the recommendation of Ravanzo. Petitioners moved for
Challenged in this petition for certiorari[1] with prayer for temporary reconsideration. The COMELEC en banc denied the motion and disposed as
restraining order and preliminary injunction is the Resolution dated June 3, follows:
2002[2] of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC for brevity) en banc in
E.O. Case No. 97-503. In its assailed Resolution, the COMELEC en banc WHEREFORE, premises considered, the En Banc resolution dated
denied the motion to reconsider Minute Resolution No. 00-2281 dated November 9, 2000 is hereby AFFIRMED. The Law Department is hereby
November 9, 2000[3] ordering the Law Department to file criminal cases for directed to file the proper information against respondents for violation of Art.
double registration against petitioners Reynato Baytan, Reynaldo Baytan XXII, Sec. 261, par. (y) sub-par. (5) of the Omnibus Election Code.
and Adrian Baytan (petitioners for brevity).
Hence, the instant petition.
The Antecedents
The Issues
On June 15, 1997, petitioners were on their way to register for the May 1998
elections when they met the newly elected Barangay Captain, Roberto Petitioners contend that the COMELEC en banc committed grave abuse of
Ignacio (Ignacio for brevity), in Barangay 18, Zone II of Cavite City. Ignacio discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in
led petitioners to register in Precinct No. 83-A of Barangay 18. Petitioners
registered in this precinct as evidenced by Voters Registration Records Nos. 1. Recommending the prosecution of petitioners for double registration
41762473, 41762472 and 41762470. despite clear and convincing evidence on record that they had no intention of
committing said election offense;
When petitioners returned home, they wondered why the registrants in this
precinct looked unfamiliar to them. This prompted petitioners to return to the 2. Not considering the letter dated August 21, 1997 addressed to the
registration center to study the precinct map of Barangay 18. They then COMELEC Assistant Director of Cavite City as substantial compliance with
realized that their residence is situated within the jurisdiction of Barangay 28. the requirement of the law for cancellation of previous registration; and
Thus, petitioners proceeded to Precinct 129-A of Barangay 28 and
registered anew on June 22, 1997 as evidenced by Voters Registration 3. Taking cognizance of the case in the first instance in violation of Section
Records Nos. 42662969, 42662968 and 42662917. 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution.

Subsequently, petitioners sent a letter dated August 21, 1997 to former In sum, petitioners insist they are innocent of any wrongdoing in their act of
COMELEC Assistant Executive Director Jose Pio O. Joson and furnished a registering twice on different days in two different precincts. Petitioners
copy thereof to COMELEC Registrar Francisco Trias. In this letter, argue that they did not intend to perpetrate the act prohibited, and therefore
petitioners requested for advice on how to cancel their previous registration. they should be exculpated. They claim honest mistake and good faith in
They also explained the reason and circumstances of their second registering twice. Petitioners claim they made the first registration because of
registration and expressed their intention to redress the error. the intervention and instigation of Ignacio.

38
Petitioners theorize that their August 21, 1997 letter to the election registrar could result in the frustration of the true will of the people and make an idle
of Cavite City informing him of the lapse and asking how to rectify the same ceremony of the sacred right and duty of every qualified citizen to vote.[4]
constitutes substantial compliance with the Omnibus Election Codes
requirement of cancellation of prior registration. They further implore a liberal Petitioners lose sight of the fact that the assailed resolutions were issued in
construction of the laws on election offenses since almost five years had the preliminary investigation stage. A preliminary investigation is essentially
lapsed from the date of the commission of the offense on June 15, 1997. inquisitorial and is only the means to discover who may be charged with a
They claim the case is about to prescribe under the Election Code. crime, its function being merely to determine probable cause.[5] All that is
required in the preliminary investigation is the determination of probable
Lastly, petitioners fault the COMELEC en banc for assuming original cause to justify the holding of petitioners for trial. By definition, probable
jurisdiction over the case in contravention of Section 3, Article IX-C of the cause is
Constitution. Petitioners argue that this constitutional provision requires that
election cases must first be heard and decided by a Division before x x x a reasonable ground of presumption that a matter is, or may be, well
assumption of jurisdiction by the COMELEC en banc. founded x x x such a state of facts in the mind of the prosecutor as would
lead a person of ordinary caution and prudence to believe or entertain an
The Courts Ruling honest or strong suspicion that a thing is so. The term does not mean `actual
or positive cause nor does it import absolute certainty. It is merely based on
The petition is bereft of merit. opinion and reasonable belief. Thus, a finding of probable cause does not
require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a
First and Second Issues: Whether the criminal cases should be dismissed conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the act or omission complained
on the ground of lack of intent and substantial compliance with the of constitutes the offense charged. Precisely, there is a trial for the reception
requirement of cancellation of previous registration. of evidence of the prosecution in support of the charge.[6]

In Minute Resolution No. 00-2281 dated November 9, 2000, the COMELEC There is no question that petitioners registered twice on different days and in
en banc affirmed the recommendation of the investigating officer. The different precincts without canceling their previous registration. Aside from
COMELEC thus directed its Law Department to file the necessary this, the COMELEC found certain circumstances prevailing in the case
information against petitioners for violation of Article XXII, SEC. 261 (y) (5) of sufficient to warrant the finding of probable cause. The COMELEC noted that
the Election Code which reads: petitioners wrote down their address in Precinct No. 83-A of Barangay 18 as
No. 709 T. Gomez Extension St., Barangay 18-Maya, Cavite City. However,
SEC. 261. Prohibited Acts. The following shall be guilty of an election in Precinct No. 129-A of Barangay 28, petitioners registered as residents of
offense: No. 709 Magcawas St., Barangay 28-Taurus, Caridad, Cavite City. The
COMELEC noted further that the affidavits submitted by petitioners
(y) On Registration of Voters: contained glaring inconsistencies. Petitioners claimed that Ignacio led them
to the wrong precinct to register. However, Ignacios affidavit stated that while
(5) Any person who, being a registered voter, registers anew without filing an he led them to the voting precinct of Barangay 18, he immediately left the
application for cancellation of his previous registration. area not knowing that petitioners registered in the wrong barangay. Contrary
to petitioners sworn statements, Aurora Baytan, mother of petitioners, had
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration to which the COMELEC en another version. She claimed in her affidavit that on June 15, 1997, Ignacio
banc issued the assailed Resolution dated June 3, 2002 affirming the Minute went to their house to inform them about the redefinition of their barangays
Resolution. territorial jurisdiction. Right then and there, Ignacio brought her sons to
Barangay 18 to register.
The grant by the Constitution to the COMELEC of the power to investigate
and prosecute election offenses is intended to enable the COMELEC to The COMELEC also pointed out that since double registration is malum
assure the people of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections. prohibitum, petitioners claim of lack of intent to violate the law is
This grant is an adjunct to the COMELECs constitutional duty to enforce and inconsequential. Neither did the COMELEC consider petitioners letter dated
administer all election laws. Failure by the COMELEC to exercise this power August 22, 1997 as an application to cancel their previous registration. The

39
COMELEC explained that this letter was sent after their second registration The COMELEC initiated the complaint for double registration against
was accomplished and after the election officer of Cavite City had already petitioners motu proprio under Sections 3,[13] 4[14] and 5,[15] Rule 34 of the
reported their act of double registration to a higher official. 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure. On September 16, 1997, the Election
Officer of Cavite City forwarded copies of petitioners Voters Registration
All told, a reasonably prudent man would readily conclude that there exists Records for evaluation to Atty. Juanito V. Ravanzo, Provincial Election
probable cause to hold petitioners for trial for the offense of double Supervisor of Cavite City, who was also tasked to investigate the case.
registration. Ravanzo endorsed the matter to the Regional Director for prosecution. The
Regional Director forwarded the case to the Law Department and the latter
Moreover, petitioners claims of honest mistake, good faith and substantial re-endorsed the same to the office of Ravanzo for resolution. A preliminary
compliance with the Election Codes requirement of cancellation of previous investigation hearing was conducted on January 19, 1998 where petitioners
registration are matters of defense best ventilated in the trial proper rather were instructed to submit their counter-affidavits. After the preliminary
than at the preliminary investigation.[7] The established rule is that a investigation and based on the affidavits and other evidence submitted in the
preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive case, Ravanzo recommended the prosecution of petitioners for the offense
display of the parties evidence. It is for the presentation of such evidence of double registration. Ineluctably, the prescriptive period of the offense was
only as may engender a well-grounded belief that an offense has been interrupted upon the COMELECs initiation of proceedings against petitioners
committed and the accused is probably guilty thereof.[8] and remains tolled pending the termination of the case.

It is also well-settled that the finding of probable cause in the prosecution of The liberal construction of punitive laws in relation to the prescription of
election offenses rests in the COMELECs sound discretion. The COMELEC offenses cannot be invoked to prejudice the interest of the State to prosecute
exercises the constitutional authority to investigate and, where appropriate, election offenses, especially those which the COMELEC described as
prosecute cases for violation of election laws, including acts or omissions ruffling the electoral system.[16]
constituting election frauds, offenses and malpractices.[9] Generally, the
Court will not interfere with such finding of the COMELEC absent a clear Third Issue: Whether the COMELEC en bancs assumption of original
showing of grave abuse of discretion. This principle emanates from the jurisdiction over the case violated the Constitution.
COMELECs exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all
election offenses punishable under the election laws and to prosecute the Petitioners rely on Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution which
same, except as may otherwise be provided by law.[10] states:

We also cannot accept petitioners plea for a liberal construction of the laws Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions,
on the ground of prescription. Prescription of the crime or offense is the and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of
forfeiture or loss of the right of the State to prosecute the offender after the election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election
lapse of a certain time.[11] cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for
reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc.
Section 267 of the Election Code provides that election offenses shall
prescribe after five years from the date of their commission. In this case, the Petitioners assert that this constitutional provision serves as basis to nullify
offense of double registration allegedly occurred on June 22, 1997 when the proceedings conducted and orders issued by the COMELEC en banc in
petitioners registered for a second time in a different precinct without E.O. Case No. 97-503. Petitioners cite Sarmiento v. Comelec[17] and Zarate
canceling their previous registration. At this point, the period of prescription v. Comelec[18] to support their stand that the COMELEC en banc acted
for the alleged offense started to run. without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion when it assumed
original jurisdiction over the case without first referring the same to any of its
However, prescription is interrupted when proceedings are instituted against divisions. In Sarmiento and Zarate, the Court similarly held that election
the offender. Specifically, the period of prescription is interrupted by the filing cases must first be heard and decided by a Division of the Commission, and
of the complaint even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination that the Commission, sitting en banc, does not have the authority to hear
or investigation.[12] and decide the same at the first instance.

40
In its Comment for the COMELEC, the Solicitor General points out that the municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving
rulings in Sarmiento and Zarate were clarified in Canicosa v. COMELEC[19] elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
to mean that
Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests
[I]t is only in the exercise of its adjudicatory or quasi judicial powers that the involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory,
COMELEC is mandated to hear and decide cases first by division and then, and not appealable.
upon motion for reconsideration, by the COMELEC en banc. This is when it
is jurisdictional. The COMELECs exercise of its quasi-judicial powers is subject to Section 3
of Article IX-C which expressly requires that all election cases, including pre-
The Solicitor General contends that the conduct of a preliminary proclamation controversies, shall be decided by the COMELEC in division,
investigation before the filing of an information in court does not in any way and the motion for reconsideration shall be decided by the COMELEC en
adjudicate with finality the rights and liabilities of the parties investigated. A banc. It follows, as held by the Court in Canicosa,[23] that the COMELEC is
preliminary investigation does not make any pronouncement as to the guilt mandated to decide cases first in division, and then upon motion for
or innocence of the party involved. Hence, a preliminary investigation cannot reconsideration en banc, only when the COMELEC exercises its quasi-
be considered a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding required to be heard by judicial powers.
the Division in the first instance.
The COMELEC is empowered in Section 2(6), Article IX-C of the 1987
On the other hand, petitioners countered that in Cruz v. People,[20] the Constitution to prosecute cases of violations of election laws. The
Court held that the conduct of a preliminary investigation is a judicial or prosecution of election law violators involves the exercise of the COMELECs
quasi-judicial proceeding since there is opportunity to be heard and for the administrative powers. Thus, the COMELEC en banc can directly approve
production and weighing of evidence and a decision is rendered thereon. the recommendation of its Law Department to file the criminal information for
double registration against petitioners in the instant case. There is no
Under Section 2, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution, the COMELEC constitutional requirement that the filing of the criminal information be first
exercises both administrative and quasi-judicial powers. The COMELECs decided by any of the divisions of the COMELEC.
administrative powers are found in Section 2 (1), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8),
and (9) of Article IX-C.[21] The 1987 Constitution does not prescribe how the In sum, the second sentence of Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987
COMELEC should exercise its administrative powers, whether en banc or in Constitution is not applicable in administrative cases, like the instant case
division. The Constitution merely vests the COMELECs administrative where the COMELEC is determining whether probable cause exists to
powers in the Commission on Elections, while providing that the COMELEC charge petitioners for violation of the provision of the Election Code
may sit en banc or in two divisions. Clearly, the COMELEC en banc can act prohibiting double registration.
directly on matters falling within its administrative powers. Indeed, this has
been the practice of the COMELEC both under the 1973 and 1987 Indeed, the COMELEC acted in accordance with Section 9(b), Rule 34 of the
Constitutions.[22] 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure governing the prosecution of election
offenses in meeting en banc in the first instance and acting on the
On the other hand, the COMELECs quasi-judicial powers are found in recommendation of Investigating Officer Ravanzo to file charges against
Section 2 (2) of Article IX-C, to wit: petitioners. The rule reads:

Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers SEC. 9. Duty of the Law Department, State Prosecutor, Provincial or City
and functions: Fiscal Upon Receipt of Records. x x x

xxx (b). In cases investigated by the lawyers or the field personnel of the
Commission, the Director of the Law Department shall review and evaluate
(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the the recommendation of said legal officer, prepare a report and make a
elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and recommendation to the Commission affirming, modifying or reversing the
city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective same which shall be included in the agenda of the succeeding meeting en

41
banc of the Commission. If the Commission approves the filing of an
information against the respondent/s, the Director of the Law Department Double Registration is malum prohibitum, lack of intent is inconsequential.
shall prepare and sign the information for immediate filing with the They also just sent their letter after the election officer had already reported
appropriate court. (Emphasis supplied) their act. Petitioners’ defenses of good faith and substantial compliance are
best used for the trial proper and not the preliminary investigation.
Minute Resolution No. 00-2281 was issued during the en banc meeting held
on November 9, 2000 to resolve the recommendation of Ravanzo in the The COMELECs exercise of its quasi-judicial powers is subject to Section 3
case. of Article IX-C which expressly requires that all election cases, including pre-
proclamation controversies, shall be decided by the COMELEC in division,
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. and the motion for reconsideration shall be decided by the COMELEC en
banc. It follows that the COMELEC is mandated to decide cases first in
SO ORDERED. division, and then upon motion for reconsideration en banc, only when the
COMELEC exercises its quasi-judicial powers.
CASE DIGEST:
The COMELEC is empowered in Section 2(6), Article IX-C of the 1987
23. Baytan vs. COMELEC Constitution to prosecute cases of violations of election laws. The
G.R. No. 153945 February 4, 2003 prosecution of election law violators involves the exercise of the COMELECs
administrative powers. Thus, the COMELEC en banc can directly approve
FACTS: Petitioners, Reynato Baytan, Reynaldo Baytan and Adrian Baytan the recommendation of its Law Department to file the criminal information for
were on their way to register for the May 1998 elections when they met the double registration against petitioners in the instant case. There is no
newly elected Barangay Captain, Roberto Ignacio, in Barangay 18, Zone II of constitutional requirement that the filing of the criminal information be first
Cavite City, who led them to register in Precinct No. 83-A of Barangay 18. decided by any of the divisions of the COMELEC.

Upon realizing that their residence is situated within the jurisdiction of In sum, the second sentence of Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987
Barangay 28 not Barangay 18, petitioners proceeded to Precinct 129-A of Constitution is not applicable in administrative cases, like the instant case
Barangay 28 and registered anew. where the COMELEC is determining whether probable cause exists to
charge petitioners for violation of the provision of the Election Code
Subsequently, petitioners sent a letter to former COMELEC Assistant prohibiting double registration.
Executive Director Jose Pio O. Joson requesting for advice on how to cancel
their previous registration.

Petitioners’ Voters Registration Records were forwarded to the Provincial


Election Supervisor, Atty. Juanito V. Ravanzo, for evaluation, who,
subsequently, recommended filing an information for double registration
against petitioners. The COMELEC affirmed Ravanzo’s resolution.
Petitioners moved for reconsideration, which, was denied by COMELEC en
banc.

ISSUE:
1. WON COMELEC acted with GAD when it recommended the
prosecution of the petitioners despite lack of intent and substantial
compliance with cancellation of double registration?
2. WON COMELEC has to refer this case to its divisions first?

HELD: No on both counts.

42
[G.R. No. 139853. September 5, 2000] which should not bar the determination of the merits of the case. The
election tribunal stated that there was no forum shopping to speak of.
FERDINAND THOMAS M. SOLLER, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON
ELECTIONS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PINAMALAYAN, ORIENTAL Under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, a motion for reconsideration of its
MINDORO (Branch 42) and ANGEL M. SAULONG, respondents. en banc ruling is prohibited except in a case involving an election offense.[3]
Since the present controversy involves no election offense, reconsideration
RESOLUTION is not possible and petitioner has no appeal or any plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Accordingly, petitioner
QUISUMBING, J.: properly filed the instant petition for certiorari with this Court.

This special civil action for certiorari seeks to annul the resolution On September 21, 1999, we required the parties to maintain the status quo
promulgated on August 31, 1999, in COMELEC special relief case SPR No. ante prevailing as of September 17, 1999, the date of filing of this petition.
10-99. The resolution dismissed petitioner's petition to set aside the orders
of the Regional Trial Court of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, dated October Before us, petitioner asserts that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of
1, 1998 and February 1, 1999, which denied petitioner's motion to dismiss discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction:
the election protest filed by private respondent against petitioner and the
motion for reconsideration, respectively. [I]

Petitioner and private respondent were both candidates for mayor of the ... IN AFFIRMING RESPONDENT RTC'S REFUSAL TO DISMISS PRIVATE
municipality of Bansud, Oriental Mindoro in the May 11, 1998 elections. On RESPONDENT'S ELECTION PROTEST DESPITE HIS (sic) LACK OF
May 14, 1998, the municipal board of canvassers proclaimed petitioner JURISDICTION OVER THE SAME BY REASON OF THE FAILURE OF THE
Ferdinand Thomas Soller duly elected mayor. PRIVATE RESPONDENT TO PAY ALL THE REQUISITE FILING FEES.

On May 19, 1998, private respondent Angel Saulong filed with the [II]
COMELEC a "petition for annulment of the proclamation/exclusion of
election return".[1] On May 25, 1998, private respondent filed with the ... IN AFFIRMING RESPONDENT'S RTC'S REFUSAL TO DISMISS
Regional Trial Court of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, an election protest PRIVATE RESPONDENT'S ELECTION PROTEST DESPITE THE
against petitioner docketed as EC-31-98. INSUFFICIENCY OF HIS PETITION IN FORM AND SUBSTANCE AND ITS
FAILURE TO STATE A CAUSE OF ACTION.
On June 15, 1998, petitioner filed his answer with counter-protest. Petitioner
also moved to dismiss private respondent's protest on the ground of lack of [III]
jurisdiction, forum-shopping, and failure to state cause of action.[2]
...IN AFFIRMING RESPONDENT RTC'S REFUSAL TO DISMISS THE
On July 3, 1998, COMELEC dismissed the pre-proclamation case filed by ELECTION PROTEST BELOW ON THE GROUNDS OF FORUM-
private respondent. SHOPPING AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE SUPREME COURT
CIRCULAR REQUIRING A TRUTHFUL CERTIFICATION OF NON-FORUM
On October 1, 1998, the trial court denied petitioner's motion to dismiss. SHOPPING DESPITE INCONTROVERTIBLE EVIDENCE THEREOF.[4]
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but said motion was denied. Petitioner
then filed with the COMELEC a petition for certiorari contending that In our view, notwithstanding petitioner's formulation of issues, the principal
respondent RTC acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave question presented for our resolution is whether or not public respondent
abuse of discretion in not dismissing private respondent's election protest. COMELEC gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in not ordering the dismissal of private respondent's election
On August 31, 1999, the COMELEC en banc dismissed petitioner's suit. The protest.
election tribunal held that private respondent paid the required filing fee. It
also declared that the defect in the verification is a mere technical defect

43
At the outset, even if not squarely raised as an issue, this Court needs to by Section 9, Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure[9] and
resolve the question concerning COMELEC's jurisdiction. Unless properly corresponding receipts[10] itemized as follows:
resolved, we cannot proceed further in this case.
P368.00 - Filing fee in EC 31-98, O.R. 7023752;
Section 3, Subdivision C of Article IX of the Constitution reads:
P 32.00 - Filing fee in EC 31-98, O.R. 7022478;
"The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall
promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite the disposition of P 46.00 - Summons fee in EC 31-98, O.R. 7023752;
election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election
cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for P 4.00 - Summons fee in EC 31-98, O.R. 4167602;
reconsideration of decision shall be decided by the Commission en banc."
P 10.00 -- Legal Research Fund fee, O.R. 2595144, and;
Thus, in Sarmiento vs. COMELEC[5] and in subsequent cases,[6] we ruled
that the COMELEC, sitting en banc, does not have the requisite authority to P 5.00 -- Victim Compensation Fund, O.R. 4167979
hear and decide election cases including pre-proclamation controversies in
the first instance. This power pertains to the divisions of the Commission. -----------
Any decision by the Commission en banc as regards election cases decided
by it in the first instance is null and void. P465.00

As can be gleaned from the proceedings aforestated, petitioner's petition Close scrutiny of the receipts will show that private respondent failed to pay
with the COMELEC was not referred to a division of that Commission but the filing fee of P300.00 for his protest as prescribed by the COMELEC
was, instead, submitted directly to the Commission en banc. The petition for rules. The amount of P368.00 for which OR 7023752 was issued for the
certiorari assails the trial court's order denying the motion to dismiss private Judiciary Development Fund as shown by the entries in the cash book of the
respondent's election protest. The questioned order of the trial court is clerk of court.[11] Thus, only P32.00 with OR 7022478 credited to the
interlocutory because it does not end the trial court's task of adjudicating the general fund could be considered as filing fee paid by private respondent for
parties' contentions and determining their rights and liabilities as regards his protest. A court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the
each other.[7] In our view, the authority to resolve petition for certiorari payment of the prescribed docket fee.[12] Patently, the trial court did not
involving incidental issues of election protest, like the questioned order of the acquire jurisdiction over private respondent's election protest. Therefore,
trial court, falls within the division of the COMELEC and not on the COMELEC gravely erred in not ordering the dismissal of private
COMELEC en banc. Note that the order denying the motion to dismiss is but respondent's protest case.
an incident of the election protest. If the principal case, once decided on the
merits, is cognizable on appeal by a division of the COMELEC, then, there is We have in a string of cases[13] had the occasion to rule on this matter. In
no reason why petitions for certiorari relating to incidents of election protest Loyola vs. COMELEC, the clerk of court assessed private respondent
should not be referred first to a division of the COMELEC for resolution. therein the incorrect filing fee of P32.00 at the time of filing of the election
Clearly, the COMELEC en banc acted without jurisdiction in taking protest. Upon filing his counter-protest, petitioner was assessed to pay the
cognizance of petitioner's petition in the first instance. same amount. Subsequently, the trial court remedied the situation by
directing the parties to pay the balance of P268.00. On review, we held that
Since public respondent COMELEC had acted without jurisdiction in this the lapse was not at all attributable to private respondent and there was
case, the petition herein is without doubt meritorious and has to be granted. substantial compliance with the filing fee requirement. The error lies in the
But in order to write finis to the controversy at bar, we are constrained to also Clerk's misapplication and confusion regarding application of Section 9 of
resolve the issues raised by petitioner, seriatim. Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure and this Court's resolution
dated September 4, 1990 amending Rule 141 of the Rules of Court. An
Petitioner contends that private respondent's protest should have been election protest falls within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional
dismissed outright as the latter failed to pay the amount of P300.00 filing fee Trial Court, in which case the Rules of Court will apply, and that the
required under the COMELEC rules.[8] Petitioner's contention is supported COMELEC Rules of Procedure is primarily intended to govern election cases

44
before that tribunal. But the Court declared that this decision must not with some reason that private respondent, by resorting to the wrong remedy,
provide relief to parties in future cases involving inadequate payment of filing abandoned his pre-proclamation case earlier filed.[17]
fees in election cases. Our decisions in Pahilan and Gatchalian bar any
claim of good faith, excusable negligence or mistake in any failure to pay the Nonetheless, private respondent's belief that he no longer had a pending
full amount of filing fees in election cases. case before the COMELEC because he deemed it abandoned upon filing of
his protest is not a valid reason for non-disclosure of the pendency of said
In Miranda vs. Castillo, private respondents each paid per assessment the pre-proclamation case. Note that the COMELEC dismissed private
amount of P465.00 as filing fees. Of this amount, P414.00 was allocated for respondent's pre-proclamation case only on July 3, 1998. Before the
the JDF, P 10.00 for legal research fund, P5.00 for victim compensation fee, dismissal, said case was legally still pending resolution. Similarly, the fact
and only the amount of P32.00 was regarded as filing fee. The Court that private respondent's protest was not based on the same cause of action
considered the amount as partial payment of the P300.00 filing fee under the as his pre-proclamation case is not a valid excuse for not complying with the
COMELEC rules and required payment of the deficiency in the amount of required disclosure in the certification against forum shopping. The
P268.00. But then again, the Court reiterated the caveat that in view of requirement to file a certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory. Failure
Pahilan, Gatchalian, and Loyola cases we would no longer tolerate any to comply with this requirement cannot be excused by the fact that a party is
mistake in the payment of the full amount of filing fees for election cases filed not guilty of forum shopping. The rule applies to any complaint, petition,
after the promulgation of the Loyola decision on March 27, 1997. application or other initiatory pleading, regardless of whether the party filing it
has actually committed forum shopping. Every party filing any initiatory
Clearly then, errors in the payment of filing fees in election cases is no pleading is required to swear under oath that he has not and will not commit
longer excusable. And the dismissal of the present case for that reason is, in forum shopping. Otherwise we would have an absurd situation, as in this
our view, called for. case, where the parties themselves would be the judge of whether their
actions constitute a violation of the rule, and compliance therewith would
Besides, there is another reason to dismiss private respondent's election depend on their belief that they might or might not have violated the
protest. We note that the verification of aforesaid protest is defective. In the requirement. Such interpretation of the requirement would defeat the very
verification, private respondent merely stated that he caused the preparation purpose of the rule.[18]
of his petition and he has read and understood all the allegations therein.[14]
Certainly, this is insufficient as private respondent failed to state that the Taking into account all the foregoing circumstances in this case, we are
contents of his election protest are true and correct of his persoral persuaded that respondent Regional Trial Court erred and committed grave
knowledge.[15] Since the petition lacks proper verification, it should be abuse of discretion in failing to dismiss private respondent's election protest
treated as an unsigned pleading and must be dismissed.[16] against petitioner. And to reiterate, respondent COMELEC en banc had no
jurisdiction to affirm the refusal of respondent trial court to dismiss private
Further, we find that private respondent did not comply with the required respondent's election protest.
certification against forum shopping. Private respondent successively filed a
"petition for annulment of the proclamation/exclusion of election return" and WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed
an election protest. Yet, he did not disclose in his election protest that he RESOLUTION of public respondent COMELEC is hereby ANNULLED AND
earlier filed a petition for annulment of proclamation/exclusion of election SET ASIDE. The temporary restraining order issued by this Court on
returns. September 21, 1999, is made permanent. The Regional Trial Court of
Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, Branch 42, is hereby ordered to DISMISS
It could be argued that private respondent's petition for annulment of election protest EC No. 31-98. Costs against private respondent.
proclamation/exclusion of election returns was a pre-proclamation case. The
issues raised in that petition pertain to the preparation and appreciation of SO ORDERED.
election returns and the proceedings of the municipal board of canvassers.
But note that such petition was filed after the proclamation of petitioner as
the winning candidate, thus, the petition was no longer viable, for pre-
proclamation controversies may no longer be entertained by the COMELEC
after the winning candidates have been proclaimed. It might even be claimed

45
CASE DIGEST proclamation/exclusion of election return and an election protest. Yet, he did
not disclose in his election protest that he earlier filed a petition for
Soller v. COMELEC annulment of proclamation/exclusion of election returns.

Facts:
Ferdinand Thomas Soller and Angel Saulong were both candidates
for mayor of the Municipality of Bansud, Oriental Mindoro in the May 1998
elections. On May 14, 1998, Soller was proclaimed by the municipal board of
canvassers as the duly elected mayor. On May 19, 1998, Saulong filed with
the COMELEC a petition for annulment of the proclamation/exclusion of
election return. On May 25, 1998, Saulong also filed an election protest
before the RTC. Soller moved to dismiss Saulong’s protest on the ground of
lack of jurisdiction, forum-shopping and failure to state a cause of action. On
July 3, 1998, the COMELEC dismissed the petition filed by Saulong. On the
other hand, the RTC denied Soller’s motion to dismiss. Soller then filed a
petition for certiorari with the COMELEC contending that the RTC acted
without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in not dismissing the
election protest. COMELEC en banc dismissed the petition. Hence, this suit.

Issue:
Whether the COMELEC, sitting en banc, has jurisdiction over
Soller’s petition

Held:
No. Sarmiento v. COMELEC applies. The authority to resolve a
petition for certiorari involving incidental issues of election protest, like the
questioned order of the trial court falls within the jurisdiction of the
COMELEC by division and not en banc.

Issue:
Whether the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction in not ordering the dismissal of private
respondent's election protest

Held:
No. A close scrutiny of the receipts will show that Saulong failed to
pay the filing fee of 300 pesos for his protest as prescribed by the
COMELEC rules. A court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon
paymeny of the prescribed docket fee. Patently, the RTC did not acquire
jurisdiction over Saulong’s protest. The SC also held that the verification of
the protest was defective. Since the petition lacked proper verification, it
should be treated as an unsigned pleading and must be dismissed. The
protest likewise failed to comply with the required certification against forum
shopping. Saulong successively filed a petition for annulment of the

46
[G.R. Nos. 154796-97. October 23, 2003] Departments recommendation before the barangay elections on 15 July
2002.
RAYMUNDO A. BAUTISTA @ OCA, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JOSEFINA P. JAREO, HON. MAYOR During the 15 July 2002 barangay elections, Bautista and private respondent
RAYMUND M. APACIBLE, FRANCISCA C. RODRIGUEZ, AGRIPINA B. Divina Alcoreza (Alcoreza) were candidates for the position of Punong
ANTIG, MARIA G. CANOVAS, and DIVINA ALCOREZA, respondents. Barangay in Lumbangan. Bautista obtained the highest number of votes
(719) while Alcoreza came in second with 522 votes, or a margin of 197
DECISION votes. Thus, the Lumbangan Board of Canvassers (Board of Canvassers)[7]
proclaimed Bautista as the elected Punong Barangay[8] on 15 July 2002. On
CARPIO, J.: 8 August 2002, Bautista took his oath of office as Punong Barangay before
Congresswoman Eileen Ermita-Buhain of the First District of Batangas. On
The Case 16 August 2002, Bautista again took his oath of office during a mass oath-
taking ceremony administered by Nasugbu Municipal Mayor Raymund
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with a prayer for the issuance Apacible.
of a temporary restraining order to nullify Resolution Nos. 5404 and 5584 of
the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc. Resolution No. 5404[1] Meanwhile, COMELEC issued Resolution No. 5404 on 23 July 2002 and
dated 23 July 2002 ordered the deletion of Raymundo A. Bautistas (Bautista) Resolution No. 5584 on 10 August 2002 (COMELEC Resolutions). In
name from the official list of candidates for the position of Punong Barangay Resolution No. 5404, the COMELEC en banc resolved to cancel Bautistas
of Barangay Lumbangan, Nasugbu, Batangas (Lumbangan) in the 15 July certificate of candidacy. The COMELEC en banc directed the Election
2002 elections. Resolution No. 5584[2] dated 10 August 2002 provided for Officer to delete Bautistas name from the official list of candidates. The
the policy of the COMELEC regarding proclaimed candidates found to be dispositive portion of Resolution No. 5404 reads:
ineligible for not being registered voters in the place where they ran for
office. Considering the foregoing, the Commission, RESOLVED, as it hereby
RESOLVES, to ADOPT the recommendation, as follows:
The Facts
1. To DENY due course to/or cancel the certificates of candidacy of the
On 10 June 2002, Bautista filed his certificate of candidacy for Punong following:
Barangay in Lumbangan for the 15 July 2002 barangay elections. Election
Officer Josefina P. Jareo (Election Officer Jareo) refused to accept Bautistas A. For Barangay Officials:
certificate of candidacy because he was not a registered voter in
Lumbangan. On 11 June 2002, Bautista filed an action for mandamus 1. CONRADO S. PEDRAZA Navotas
against Election Officer Jareo with the Regional Trial Court of Batangas,
Branch 14 (trial court).[3] On 1 July 2002, the trial court ordered Election 2. PIO B. MALIGAYA Sampaga
Officer Jareo to accept Bautistas certificate of candidacy and to include his
name in the certified list of candidates for Punong Barangay. The trial court 3. PATERNO H. MENDOZA Sampaga
ruled that Section 7 (g) of COMELEC Resolution No. 4801[4] mandates
Election Officer Jareo to include the name of Bautista in the certified list of all of Balayan, Batangas.
candidates until the COMELEC directs otherwise.[5] In compliance with the
trial courts order, Election Officer Jareo included Bautista in the certified list B. a. RAY OCA A. BAUTISTA, candidate for Punong Barangay of Brgy.
of candidates for Punong Barangay. At the same time, Election Officer Jareo Lumbangan, Nasugbu, Batangas, for not being registered voters of
referred the matter of Bautistas inclusion in the certified list of candidates barangays where they are running for an office;
with the COMELEC Law Department on 5 July 2002.[6] On 11 July 2002, the
COMELEC Law Department recommended the cancellation of Bautistas 2. To DIRECT the Election Officers of Balayan, Batangas and Nasugbu,
certificate of candidacy since he was not registered as a voter in Batangas, to delete their names in the official list of candidates in their
Lumbangan. The COMELEC en banc failed to act on the COMELEC Law respective Barangays without prejudice to the filing of complaint against

47
them for misrepresentation under Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code his certificate of candidacy and there is no petition for disqualification
if the evidence so warrants. pending against him before his proclamation.)

Let the Law Department implement this resolution. 1. To DISMISS any and all cases questioning the eligibility of such candidate
for LACK OF JURISDICTION, the proper remedy being a quo warranto case
On the other hand, Resolution No. 5584 expressed COMELECs policy before the metropolitan or municipal trial court.
regarding proclaimed candidates found to be ineligible for not being
registered voters in the place of their election, thus: In a letter dated 19 August 2002,[9] COMELEC Commissioner Luzviminda
Tancangco directed Election Officer Jareo to (1) delete the name of Bautista
ON PROCLAIMED CANDIDATES FOUND TO BE INELIGIBLE FOR BEING from the official list of candidates for Punong Barangay of Barangay
NOT REGISTERED VOTERS IN THE PLACE WHERE THEY WERE Lumbangan; (2) order the Board of Canvassers of Lumbangan to reconvene
ELECTED. for the purpose of proclaiming the elected Punong Barangay with due notice
to all candidates concerned; and (3) direct the proclaimed disqualified
(a) For a proclaimed candidate whose certificate of candidacy was denied candidate Bautista to cease and desist from taking his oath of office or from
due course to or cancelled by virtue of a Resolution of the Commission En assuming the position which he won in the elections, citing COMELEC
Banc albeit such Resolution did not arrive on time. Resolution Nos. 5404 and 5584. Consequently, Election Officer Jareo issued
on 20 August 2002 an Order[10] deleting the name of Bautista from the list
1. To DIRECT the Election Officers concerned to implement the resolution of of candidates for Punong Barangay. The Order also prohibited Bautista from
the Commission deleting the name of the candidate whose certificate of assuming the position and discharging the functions of Punong Barangay of
candidacy was denied due course; Lumbangan pursuant to the COMELEC Resolutions. The Board of
Canvassers reconvened on 23 August 2002 and after making the necessary
2. To DIRECT the candidate whose name was ordered deleted to cease and corrections in the Certificate of Canvass of Votes, proclaimed Alcoreza as
desist from taking his oath of office or from assuming the position to which the winning Punong Barangay.[11] Alcoreza thus assumed the post of
he was elected, unless a temporary restraining order was issued by the Punong Barangay of Lumbangan.
Supreme Court; and
On 26 August 2002, Bautista wrote a letter to COMELEC requesting the
3. To RECONVENE the Board of Canvassers for the purpose of proclaiming latter for reconsideration of the COMELEC Resolutions.
the duly-elected candidates and correcting the Certificate of Canvass of
Proclamation. On 9 September 2002, while his letter for reconsideration was still pending
with the COMELEC, Bautista filed this petition for certiorari and prohibition
(b) For a proclaimed candidate who is subsequently declared disqualified by with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order.
the Commission in the disqualification case filed against him prior to his
proclamation. The Issues

1. To DIRECT the proclaimed disqualified candidate to cease and desist The issues raised are:
from taking his oath of office or from assuming the position to which he was
elected, unless a temporary restraining order was issued by the Supreme 1. Whether the COMELEC en banc committed grave abuse of discretion
Court; and amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction when it issued Resolution Nos.
5404 and 5584;
2. To RECONVENE the Board of Canvassers for the purpose of proclaiming
the duly-elected candidates and correcting the Certificate of Canvass of 2. Whether the COMELEC deprived Bautista of due process when the
Proclamation. COMELEC en banc issued Resolution Nos. 5404 and 5584; and

(c) For a proclaimed candidate who is found to be ineligible only after his 3. Whether it was proper to proclaim Alcoreza as Punong Barangay in view
proclamation (i.e., There is no Resolution denying due course to or canceling of the alleged disqualification of the winning candidate Bautista.

48
be to allow the reglementary period for filing a petition for certiorari with this
The Courts Ruling Court to run and expire.

Before considering the merits of the case, we shall first resolve the The instant controversy involves resolutions issued by the COMELEC en
procedural questions raised by respondents. Respondents contend that a banc which do not pertain to election offenses. Hence, a special civil action
motion for reconsideration of the assailed COMELEC Resolutions is a for certiorari is the proper remedy[15] in accordance with Section 2, Rule 64
prerequisite to the filing of a petition for certiorari and prohibition. Absent any of the Rules of Court which provides:
extraordinary circumstances, a party who has filed a motion for
reconsideration should wait for the resolution of the motion before filing the SEC. 2. Mode of review. A judgment or final order or resolution of the
petition for certiorari. Respondents allege that the instant petition is Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit may be brought by
premature because Bautista has a pending motion for reconsideration of the the aggrieved party to the Supreme Court on certiorari under Rule 65 except
COMELEC Resolutions. Respondents claim that Bautista filed the instant as hereinafter provided. (Emphasis supplied)
petition barely two weeks after filing the motion for reconsideration with the
COMELEC en banc without waiting for the resolution of his motion.[12] Whether the COMELEC en banc committed grave

The contention of respondents is wrong. The case[13] cited by respondents abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of
refers to a motion for reconsideration pending before the COMELEC en banc
seeking the reconsideration of a resolution rendered by a COMELEC jurisdiction in issuing Resolution Nos. 5404 and 5584
division. Rule 19 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure allows a motion
to reconsider a decision, resolution, order, or ruling of a division. However, Bautista argues that without any disqualification case formally filed against
Section 1 (d), Rule 13 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure prohibits a him, the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of his case. The
motion to reconsider a resolution of the COMELEC en banc except in cases COMELEC cannot motu proprio act on the issue of his alleged lack of
involving election offenses. As held in Angelia v. Commission on qualification. Even assuming that there was a disqualification case filed
Elections:[14] against him, it is the COMELEC sitting in division which has jurisdiction and
not the COMELEC en banc.[16]
We hold that petitioner acted correctly in filing the present petition because
the resolution of the COMELEC in question is not subject to reconsideration On the other hand, respondents allege that the Constitution vests the
and, therefore, any party who disagreed with it only had one recourse, and COMELEC with the power to enforce and administer all laws and regulations
that was to file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Civil relative to the conduct of elections. The Constitution thus empowers the
Procedure. Rule 13, 1 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides: COMELEC to pass upon the qualification of candidates for elective office.
Furthermore, respondents submit that the COMELECs jurisdiction to cancel
What Pleadings are Not Allowed. The following pleadings are not allowed: the certificate of candidacy of disqualified candidates is already settled
jurisprudence.[17]
.. . .
Respondents cited cases to support their claim that the COMELEC has
d) motion for reconsideration of an en banc ruling, resolution, order or jurisdiction to cancel the certificates of candidacy of disqualified candidates.
decision except in election offense cases; However, the COMELEC heard these cases first in division and not en banc
in the first instance.
...
In Garvida v. Sales, Jr.,[18] the Court held that it is the COMELEC sitting in
As the case before the COMELEC did not involve an election offense, division and not the COMELEC en banc which has jurisdiction over petitions
reconsideration of the COMELEC resolution was not possible and petitioner to cancel a certificate of candidacy. The Court held:
had no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of law. For him to wait until the COMELEC denied his motion would x x x The Omnibus Election Code, in Section 78, Article IX, governs the
procedure to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy, viz:

49
Sec. 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. - A division of the COMELEC should have first heard this case. The
A verified petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of COMELEC en banc can only act on the case if there is a motion for
candidacy may be filed by any person exclusively on the ground that any reconsideration of the decision of the COMELEC division. Hence, the
material representation contained therein as required under Section 74 COMELEC en banc acted without jurisdiction when it ordered the
hereof is false. The petition may be filed at any time not later than twenty-five cancellation of Bautistas certificate of candidacy without first referring the
days from the time of filing of the certificate of candidacy and shall be case to a division for summary hearing.
decided, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before
election. The proceeding on the cancellation of a certificate of candidacy does not
merely pertain to the administrative functions of the COMELEC. Cancellation
In relation thereto, Rule 23 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides proceedings involve the COMELECs quasi-judicial functions. The Court
that a petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy for discussed the difference between administrative and quasi-judicial functions
an elective office may be filed with the Law Department of the COMELEC on in Villarosa v. Commission on Elections:[19]
the ground that the candidate has made a false material representation in his
certificate. The petition may be heard and evidence received by any official In the concurring opinion of Justice Antonio in University of Nueva Caceres
designated by the COMELEC after which the case shall be decided by the vs. Martinez, 56 SCRA 148, he noted that
COMELEC itself.
(t)he term administrative connotes, or pertains, to administration, especially
Under the same Rules of Procedure, jurisdiction over a petition to cancel a management, as by managing or conducting, directing or superintending, the
certificate of candidacy lies with the COMELEC sitting in Division, not en execution, application, or conduct of persons or things. It does not entail an
banc. Cases before a Division may only be entertained by the COMELEC en opportunity to be heard, the production and weighing of evidence, and a
banc when the required number of votes to reach a decision, resolution, decision or resolution thereon.
order or ruling is not obtained in the Division. Moreover, only motions to
reconsider decisions, resolutions, orders or rulings of the COMELEC in While a quasi-judicial function is
Division are resolved by the COMELEC en banc.
A term which applies to the action, discretion, etc., of public administrative
It is therefore the COMELEC sitting in Divisions that can hear and decide officers or bodies, who are required to investigate facts, or ascertain the
election cases. This is clear from Section 3 of the said Rules thus: existence of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them, as a
basis for their official action and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature.
Sec. 3. The Commission in Sitting in Divisions. The Commission shall sit in (Emphasis supplied)
two (2) Divisions to hear and decide protests or petitions in ordinary actions,
special actions, special cases, provisional remedies, contempt and special In the exercise of its adjudicatory or quasi-judicial powers, the Constitution
proceedings except in accreditation of citizens arms of the Commission. mandates the COMELEC to hear and decide cases first by division and upon
motion for reconsideration, by the COMELEC en banc.[20] In Baytan v.
In the instant case, the COMELEC en banc did not refer the case to any of COMELEC,[21] the Court expounded on the administrative and quasi-judicial
its Divisions upon receipt of the petition. It therefore acted without jurisdiction powers of the COMELEC. The Court explained:
or with grave abuse of discretion when it entertained the petition and issued
the order of May 2, 1996. (Emphasis supplied) Under Section 2, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution, the COMELEC
exercises both administrative and quasi-judicial powers. The COMELECs
In this case, Election Officer Jareo reported to the COMELEC Law administrative powers are found in Section 2 (1), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8),
Department Bautistas ineligibility for being a non-registered voter. The and (9) of Article IX-C. The 1987 Constitution does not prescribe how the
COMELEC Law Department recommended to the COMELEC en banc to COMELEC should exercise its administrative powers, whether en banc or in
deny due course or to cancel Bautistas certificate of candidacy. The division. The Constitution merely vests the COMELECs administrative
COMELEC en banc approved the recommendation in Resolution No. 5404 powers in the Commission on Elections, while providing that the COMELEC
dated 23 July 2002. may sit en banc or in two divisions. Clearly, the COMELEC en banc can act

50
directly on matters falling within its administrative powers. Indeed, this has
been the practice of the COMELEC both under the 1973 and 1987 Bautista alleges that the COMELEC denied him due process because there
Constitutions. was no notice and hearing prior to the issuance of Resolution Nos. 5404 and
5584. He became aware of the issuance of the COMELEC Resolutions only
On the other hand, the COMELECs quasi-judicial powers are found in when he received a copy of Election Officer Jareos Order dated 20 August
Section 2 (2) of Article IX-C, to wit: 2002 ordering him to cease and desist from assuming the position of Punong
Barangay.[22]
Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers
and functions: The Solicitor General submits that the COMELEC did not deprive Bautista of
due process. Bautista had the chance to be heard and to present his side
xxx when he filed a letter to the COMELEC en banc requesting reconsideration
of the Resolutions.[23]
(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the
elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and This Court has explained the nature of due process in Stayfast Philippines
city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective Corporation v. NLRC:[24]
municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving
elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. The essence of due process is simply the opportunity to be heard, or as
applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain ones side or
Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained
involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory, of.
and not appealable.
A formal or trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential.
The COMELECs exercise of its quasi-judicial powers is subject to Section 3 The requirements are satisfied where the parties are afforded fair and
of Article IX-C which expressly requires that all election cases, including pre- reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand. What
proclamation controversies, shall be decided by the COMELEC in division, is frowned upon is absolute lack of notice and hearing. x x x (Emphasis
and the motion for reconsideration shall be decided by the COMELEC en supplied)
banc. It follows, as held by the Court in Canicosa, that the COMELEC is
mandated to decide cases first in division, and then upon motion for The opportunity to be heard does not only refer to the right to present verbal
reconsideration en banc, only when the COMELEC exercises its quasi- arguments in court during a formal hearing.[25] There is due process when a
judicial powers. (Emphasis supplied) party is able to present evidence in the form of pleadings.[26] However, the
COMELEC did not give Bautista such opportunity to explain his side. The
Under Section 3, Rule 23 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, a COMELEC en banc issued Resolution Nos. 5404 and 5584 without prior
petition for the denial or cancellation of a certificate of candidacy must be notice and hearing.
heard summarily after due notice. It is thus clear that cancellation
proceedings involve the exercise of the quasi-judicial functions of the We cannot ignore the importance of prior notice and hearing. Severe
COMELEC which the COMELEC in division should first decide. More so in consequences attach to the COMELEC Resolutions which not only ordered
this case where the cancellation proceedings originated not from a petition the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy of Bautista but also the
but from a report of the election officer regarding the lack of qualification of annulment of his proclamation as Punong Barangay. What is involved here
the candidate in the barangay election. The COMELEC en banc cannot short is not just the right to be voted for public office but the right to hold public
cut the proceedings by acting on the case without a prior action by a division office. As held in Sandoval v. Commission on Elections:[27]
because it denies due process to the candidate.
x x x Although the COMELEC is clothed with jurisdiction over the subject
Whether the COMELEC deprived Bautista of due matter and issue of SPC No. 98-143 and SPC No. 98-206, we find the
exercise of its jurisdiction tainted with illegality. We hold that its order to set
process when it issued Resolution Nos. 5404 and 5584 aside the proclamation of petitioner is invalid for having been rendered

51
without due process of law. Procedural due process demands prior notice Section 1. Grounds for Denial of Certificate of Candidacy. A petition to deny
and hearing. Then after the hearing, it is also necessary that the tribunal due course to or cancel, a certificate of candidacy for any elective office may
show substantial evidence to support its ruling. In other words, due process be filed with the Law Department of the Commission by any citizen of voting
requires that a party be given an opportunity to adduce his evidence to age or a duly registered political party, organization, or coalition of political
support his side of the case and that the evidence should be considered in parties on the exclusive ground that any material representation contained
the adjudication of the case. The facts show that COMELEC set aside the therein as required by law is false.
proclamation of petitioner without benefit of prior notice and hearing and it
rendered the questioned order based solely on private respondents Sec. 2. Period to File Petition. The petition must be filed within five (5) days
allegations. We held in Bince, Jr. vs. COMELEC: following the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy.

Petitioner cannot be deprived of his office without due process of law. Sec. 3. Summary Proceeding. The petition shall be heard summarily after
Although public office is not property under Section 1 of the Bill of Rights of due notice.
the Constitution, and one cannot acquire a vested right to public office, it is,
nevertheless, a protected right. Due process in proceedings before the Sec. 4. Delegation of Reception of Evidence. The Commission may
COMELEC, exercising its quasi-judicial functions, requires due notice and designate any of its officials who are members of the Philippine Bar to hear
hearing, among others. Thus, although the COMELEC possesses, in the case and receive evidence. (Emphasis supplied)
appropriate cases, the power to annul or suspend the proclamation of any
candidate, we had ruled in Farinas vs. Commission on Elections, Reyes vs. A summary proceeding does not mean that the COMELEC could do away
Commission on Elections and Gallardo vs. Commission on Elections that the with the requirements of notice and hearing. The COMELEC should have at
COMELEC is without power to partially or totally annul a proclamation or least given notice to Bautista to give him the chance to adduce evidence to
suspend the effects of a proclamation without notice and hearing. (Emphasis explain his side in the cancellation proceeding. The COMELEC en banc
supplied) deprived Bautista of procedural due process of law when it approved the
report and recommendation of the Law Department without notice and
The fact that Bautista was able to file a letter with the COMELEC en banc hearing.[31]
requesting for reconsideration of the Resolutions is beside the point. To
reiterate, the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure prohibit a motion for Whether Bautista was a registered voter of Barangay
reconsideration of a COMELEC en banc resolution except in cases involving
election offenses. Lumbangan when he filed his certificate of candidacy

Respondents likewise submit that there was no need for presentation and The events[32] that transpired after the 15 July 2002 elections necessitate
evaluation of evidence since the issue of whether Bautista was a registered the early resolution of this case. The Court deems it proper not to remand
voter is easily resolved by looking at the COMELEC registration records.[28] the case to the COMELEC to avoid further delay. The Court will resolve this
This reasoning fails to consider the instances where a voter may be case based on the pleadings submitted by the parties.
excluded through inadvertence or registered with an erroneous or misspelled
name.[29] Indeed, if it was just a simple matter of looking at the record of Under the Revised Administrative Code,[33] one of the qualifications of an
registered voters, then the COMELEC would not have included Section 7 elective municipal officer is that he must be a qualified voter in his
(g)[30] in its Resolution No. 4801. This Section allows candidates who are municipality. Section 2174 of the Revised Administrative Code reads:
not registered voters to be included in the certified list of candidates until the
COMELEC directs otherwise. Section 2174. Qualifications of elective municipal officer. An elective
municipal officer must, at the time of the election, be a qualified voter in his
Rule 23 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides for the twin municipality and must have been resident therein for at least one year, and
requirements of prior notice and hearing, as follows: must not be less than twenty-three years of age. He must also be able to
read and write intelligently either English, Spanish, or the local dialect.
Rule 23 Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificates of Candidacy (Emphasis supplied)

52
On the other hand, under the Republic Act No. 2370,[34] otherwise known These qualifications were reiterated in Section 2 of COMELEC Resolution
as the Barrio Charter, a candidate for the barrio council[35] must be a No. 4801 dated 23 May 2002 which prescribed the guidelines on the filing of
qualified elector. Section 8 of the Barrio Charter reads: certificates of candidacy in connection with the 15 July 2002 elections.
Section 2 reads:
Section 8. Qualifications for election to the barrio council. Candidates for
election to the barrio council: Sec. 2. Qualifications. (a) Candidates for Punong Barangay and
Sangguniang Barangay Kagawad must be:
(a) Must be a qualified elector and must have been a resident of the barrio
for at least six months prior to the election; and (1) Filipino citizens;

(b) Must not have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or of a (2) At least 18 years old on election day;
crime which carries a penalty of at least one year imprisonment. (Emphasis
supplied) (3) Able to read and write Pilipino or any local language or dialect; and

Thus, in the 1958 case of Rocha v. Cordis,[36] the Court held that a (4) Registered voters of the barangay where they intend to run for office and
candidate for an elective municipal office did not have to be a registered residents thereof for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the day of
voter in the municipality to qualify to run for an elective municipal office. the election. (Emphasis supplied)
Citing the earlier case of Yra v. Abao,[37] the Court ruled that the words
qualified elector meant a person who had all the qualifications provided by Section 7 of COMELEC Resolution No. 4801 likewise requires the Election
law to be a voter and not a person registered in the electoral list. In the same Officer to verify whether the candidates are registered voters and possess all
vein, the term qualified when applied to a voter does not necessarily mean the qualifications of a candidate. Thus, Section 7 (f) and (g) read:
that a person must be a registered voter.
(f) Before the preparation of the certified lists of candidates it shall be the
However, under the Local Government Code of 1991,[38] which took effect duty of the Election Officer to: (1) verify whether all candidates for barangay
on 1 January 1992, an elective local official, including a Punong Barangay, and sangguniang kabataan positions are registered voters of the barangay
must not only be a qualified elector or a qualified voter, he must also be a where they file their certificates of candidacy; and (2) examine the entries of
registered voter.[39] Section 39 of the Local Government Code provides: the certificates of candidacy and determine on the basis of said entries
whether the candidate concerned possesses all the qualifications of a
SEC. 39. Qualifications. (a) An elective local official must be a citizen of the candidate.
Philippines; a registered voter in the barangay, municipality, city, or province
or, in the case of a member of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang (g) If there are candidates who are not registered voters in the barangay
panlungsod, or sangguniang bayan, the district where he intends to be where they run for barangay or sangguniang kabataan positions or do not
elected; a resident therein for at least one (1) year immediately preceding possess all the other qualifications of a candidate, he shall make the
the day of the election; and able to read and write Filpino or any other local corresponding report by REGISTERED MAIL and by RUSH TELEGRAM to
language or dialect. the Law Department of the Commission within three (3) days from the last
day for filing the certificates of candidacy, copy furnished the Provincial
xxx Election Supervisor and the Regional Election Director. The names of said
candidates, however, shall still be included in the certified lists of candidates
(e) Candidates for the position of punong barangay or member of the until the Commission directs otherwise. (Emphasis supplied)
sangguniang barangay must be at least eighteen (18) years of age on
election day. It is thus clear that the law as it now stands requires a candidate for Punong
Barangay to be a registered voter of the barangay where he intends to run
xxx for office.

53
Bautista admitted in his affidavit[40] dated 24 August 2002 that he was not a Nasugbu, Batangas so that any and all technicality may be
registered voter of Barangay Lumbangan, thus: avoided.(Emphasis supplied)

AFFIDAVIT According to Bautistas affidavit, he was practically out of the country from
1995 until 2001. When the certified list of voters ceased to be effective and
That I, RAYMUNDO A. @ OCA BAUTISTA, of legal age, married, operative after the barangay elections in 1997, qualified voters had to
Mechanical Engineer by profession, Filipino citizen and have been residing register again to vote in any election. Apparently, Bautista failed to register
at Sitio Calamundingan, Barangay Lumbangan, Nasugbu, Batangas, after during the general registration of voters conducted by the COMELEC in
being duly sworn according to law depose and say: 1997 since he was still out of the country during that time. Republic Act No.
8189 (The Voters Registration Act of 1996) provides for a system of
1. That I was born at Barangay Tumalim, Nasugbu, Batangas, on March 15, continuing registration of voters. Thus, Bautista should have registered anew
1954 and upon reaching the age of four (4) our family transferred to Sitio in the office of the Election Officer when he came back to the Philippines in
Calamundingan, Barangay Lumbangan, Nasugbu, Batangas and I have 2001 and learned that his name was no longer included in the roster of
been permanently residing thereat since that time up to the present, and this registered voters. The pertinent provisions of RA No. 8189 read:
fact can be attested to by our immediate neighbors.
SEC. 7. General Registration of Voters. Immediately after the barangay
2. That since the time I reached the age of majority, I have participated both elections in 1997, the existing certified list of voters shall cease to be
in the National and Local Elections up to the year 1995 and as matter of fact effective and operative. For purposes of the May 1998 elections and all
I ran for the Office of member of the Municipal Council in the year 1992 elections, plebiscites, referenda, initiatives, and recall subsequent thereto,
Elections. the Commission shall undertake a general registration of voters before the
Board of Election Inspectors on June 14, 15, 21 and 22 and, subject to the
3. Sometime during the late part of the year 1995, I went to the United States discretion of the Commission, on June 28 and 29, 1997 in accordance with
of America scounting (sic) for a good job but I was not able to find one so I this Act.
went home in the year 2000 but again believing that I could land a job in the
United States, I again went there but I was not able to get a job therein and SEC. 8. System of Continuing Registration of Voters. The personal filing of
so I went back to the Philippines in the year 2001 but I found out that my application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of
name was no longer included in the list of registered voters at Barangay the Election Officer during regular office hours. No registration shall,
Lumbangan, Nasugbu, Batangas. however be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120)
days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election.
4. Sometime in the year 2002, I personally went to the Office of the Local
Election Registrar particularly talking to Miss Josefina P. Jareo in order to xxx
register because as I know, to run for the Office of Barangay Chairman, I
have to be a registered voter in our Barangay. SEC. 10. Registration of Voters. A qualified voter shall be registered in the
permanent list of voters in a precinct of the city or municipality where he
5. However, I was denied registration because according to her, her Office is resides to be able to vote in any election. To register as a voter, he shall
not open for registration at any time and I should wait for the General personally accomplish an application form for registration as prescribed by
Registration and for that reason I was not able to register. the Commission in three (3) copies before the Election Officer on any date
during office hours after having acquired the qualifications of a voter.
xxx (Emphasis supplied)

11. That had I known that there is a provision in Section 52, under paragraph xxx
(k) A, when Miss Josefina P. Jareo denied my request for registration as a
voter, I would have filed a Petition for Mandamus with the proper Court so It is thus clear that Bautista was remiss in his duty to ensure his right to vote
that she can be ordered to register me as a voter in Barangay Lumbangan, and to be voted for public office. As early as 2001, he was already aware
that his name was no longer included in the roster of registered voters. Yet,

54
Bautista chose not to register anew that year despite his knowledge that he 5. I only met petitioner RAYMUNDO BAUTISTA for the first time when he
needed to register as a voter in the barangay to run for the office of Punong came to our office to file his Certificate of Candidacy last June 10, 2002,
Barangay. which was the last day set by the COMELEC for the filing of Certificates of
Candidacy;
Bautista alleges that his non-registration as a voter of Barangay Lumbangan
was due to the refusal of Election Officer Jareo to register him sometime in xxx
January 2002.[41] Aside from his bare allegation that he tried to register in
January 2002, Bautista did not proffer any other proof like a duly Bautista was aware when he filed his certificate of candidacy for the office of
accomplished application form for registration to substantiate his claim that Punong Barangay that he lacked one of the qualifications that of being a
he indeed attempted to register anew. On the other hand, Election Officer registered voter in the barangay where he ran for office. He therefore made
Jareo denies Bautistas allegations in her comment filed on 10 October 2002, a misrepresentation of a material fact when he made a false statement in his
thus: certificate of candidacy that he was a registered voter in Barangay
Lumbangan.[42] An elective office is a public trust. He who aspires for
COMMENT elective office should not make a mockery of the electoral process by falsely
representing himself. The importance of a valid certificate of candidacy rests
COMES NOW Respondent JOSEPINA P. JAREO (sic) and to this at the very core of the electoral process.[43] Under Section 78 of the
Honorable Supreme Court by way of comment to the Petition for Certiorari Omnibus Election Code, false representation of a material fact in the
and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order, certificate of candidacy is a ground for the denial or cancellation of the
filed by herein Petitioner, most respectfully states that: certificate of candidacy. The material misrepresentation contemplated by
Section 78 refers to qualifications for elective office. A candidate guilty of
1. Respondent JOSEPINA P. JAREO (sic) is the Election Officer of misrepresentation may be (1) prevented from running, or (2) if elected, from
Nasugbu, Batangas, while petitioner, RAYMUNDO A. BAUTISTA was one of serving, or (3) prosecuted for violation of the election laws.[44]
the candidates for the Barangay Chairman of Barangay Lumbangan,
Nasugbu, Batangas, in the recently concluded barangay elections; Invoking salus populi est suprema lex, Bautista argues that the peoples
choice expressed in the local elections deserves respect. Bautistas
2. Based on the records in our files, petitioner was not and is not a registered invocation of the liberal interpretation of election laws is unavailing. As held
voter of Barangay Lumbangan or any other barangays in Nasugbu, in Aquino v. Commission on Elections:[45]
Batangas;
In fine, we are left with no choice but to affirm the COMELECs conclusion
3. There was never an instance during the period starting June 1997 up to declaring herein petitioner ineligible for the elective position as
December 26, 2001 when registration of voters for the updating of the Voters Representative of Makati Citys Second District on the basis of respondent
Registration Record had been undertaken by the Commission on Elections commissions finding that petitioner lacks the one year residence in the
on an on again/off again system, did petitioner RAYMUNDO BAUTISTA district mandated by the 1987 Constitution. A democratic government is
come to our office to check or ensure that he is still in the active list of voters necessarily a government of laws. In a republican government those laws
of Barangay Lumbangan, i.e., assuming that he was registered as a voter are themselves ordained by the people. Through their representatives, they
thereof, in the first place; dictate the qualifications necessary for service in government positions. And
as petitioner clearly lacks one of the essential qualifications for running for
4. The last day of registration of voters (new or transferee) had been last membership in the House of Representatives, not even the will of a majority
December 26, 2001 and registration shall resume again, this coming or plurality of the voters of the Second District of Makati City would substitute
September 16, 2002. In the meantime, no general registration nor special for a requirement mandated by the fundamental law itself.
registration had been mandated by the Commission on Election (COMELEC,
for brevity) between the period December 27, 2001 until September 15, Indeed, the electorate cannot amend or waive the qualifications prescribed
2002; by law for elective office. The will of the people as expressed through the
ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility.[46] The fact that Bautista, a non-

55
registered voter, was elected to the office of Punong Barangay does not Thus, when the electorate voted for Bautista as Punong Barangay on 15 July
erase the fact that he lacks one of the qualifications for Punong Barangay. 2002, it was under the belief that he was qualified. There is no presumption
that the electorate agreed to the invalidation of their votes as stray votes in
Whether it was proper to proclaim Alcoreza as Punong case of Bautistas disqualification.[51] The Court cannot adhere to the theory
of respondent Alcoreza that the votes cast in favor of Bautista are stray
Barangay in view of ineligibility of the winning candidate votes.[52] A subsequent finding by the COMELEC en banc that Bautista is
ineligible cannot retroact to the date of elections so as to invalidate the votes
Bautista subscribes to the view of the Solicitor General that under the law cast for him.[53] As held in Domino v. COMELEC:[54]
and jurisprudence, the COMELEC cannot proclaim as winner the second
placer in case of ineligibility of the winning candidate. Contrary to the claim of INTERVENOR, petitioner was not notoriously known
by the public as an ineligible candidate. Although the resolution declaring
The Solicitor General submits that the disqualification of the winning him ineligible as candidate was rendered before the election, however, the
candidate Bautista does not result in the proclamation of Alcoreza who same is not yet final and executory. In fact, it was no less than the
obtained the second highest number of votes because Alcoreza was COMELEC in its Supplemental Omnibus Resolution No. 3046 that allowed
obviously not the choice of the electorate. The Solicitor General emphasized DOMINO to be voted for the office and ordered that the votes cast for him be
that the COMELEC declared Bautista ineligible for the post of Punong counted as the Resolution declaring him ineligible has not yet attained
Barangay only after his election and proclamation as the winning candidate. finality. Thus the votes cast for DOMINO are presumed to have been cast in
the sincere belief that he was a qualified candidate, without any intention to
Respondent Alcoreza, however, alleges that her proclamation as the elected misapply their franchise. Thus, said votes can not be treated as stray, void,
Punong Barangay was legal and valid. Alcoreza claims her case falls under or meaningless.
the exception to the rule that the disqualification of the winning candidate
does not entitle the candidate with the next higher number of votes to be The Local Government Code provides for the rule regarding permanent
proclaimed winner. Alcoreza cites Grego v. COMELEC[47] which held that vacancy in the Office of the Punong Barangay, thus:
the exception is predicated on the concurrence of two assumptions, namely:
(1) the one who obtained the highest number of votes is disqualified; and (2) SEC. 44. Permanent vacancies in the Offices of the Governor, Vice-
the electorate is fully aware in fact and in law of a candidates disqualification Governor, Mayor, and Vice-Mayor. If a permanent vacancy occurs in the
so as to bring such awareness within the realm of notoriety but would office of the governor or mayor, the vice-governor or vice-mayor concerned
nonetheless cast their votes in favor of the ineligible candidate. shall become the governor or mayor. If a permanent vacancy occurs in the
offices of the governor, vice-governor, mayor, or vice-mayor, the highest
This Court agrees with the view of the Solicitor General. It is now settled ranking sanggunian member or, in the case of his permanent inability, the
doctrine that the COMELEC cannot proclaim as winner the candidate who second highest ranking sanggunian member, shall become the governor,
obtains the second highest number of votes in case the winning candidate is vice-governor, mayor or vice-mayor, as the case may be. Subsequent
ineligible or disqualified.[48] The exception to this well-settled rule was vacancies in the said office shall be filled automatically by the other
mentioned in Labo, Jr. v. Commission on Elections[49] and reiterated in sanggunian members according to their ranking as defined herein.
Grego v. COMELEC.[50] However, the facts warranting the exception to the
rule do not obtain in the present case. (b) If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the punong barangay
member, the highest ranking sangguniang barangay member, or in the case
Although the COMELEC Law Department recommended to deny due course of his permanent disability, the second highest ranking sanggunian member,
or to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Bautista on 11 July 2002, the shall become the punong barangay.
COMELEC en banc failed to act on it before the 15 July 2002 barangay
elections. It was only on 23 July 2002 that the COMELEC en banc issued (c) A tie between or among the highest ranking sanggunian members shall
Resolution No. 5404, adopting the recommendation of the COMELEC Law be resolved by the drawing of lots.
Department and directing the Election Officer to delete Bautistas name from
the official list of candidates. (d) The successors as defined herein shall serve only the unexpired terms of
their predecessors.

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merely pertain to the administrative functions of the COMELEC. Cancellation
For purposes of this Chapter, a permanent vacancy arises when an elective proceedings involve the COMELEC's quasi-judicial functions.
local official fills a higher vacant office, refuses to assume office, fails to
qualify, dies, is removed from office, voluntarily resigns, or is otherwise
permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office.

For purposes of succession as provided in this Chapter, ranking in the


sanggunian shall be determined on the basis of the proportion of votes
obtained by each winning candidate to the total number of registered voters
in each district in the immediately preceding local election. (Emphasis
supplied)

Since Bautista failed to qualify for the position of Punong Barangay, the
highest ranking sangguniang barangay member, or in the case of his
permanent disability, the second highest ranking sangguniang member, shall
become the Punong Barangay.[55]

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition. Petitioner Raymundo A. Bautista is


ineligible for the position of Punong Barangay of Barangay Lumbangan for
not being a registered voter of Barangay Lumbangan. The proclamation of
the second placer Divina Alcoreza as winner in lieu of Bautista is void.
Instead, the highest ranking sangguniang barangay member of Barangay
Lumbangan shall assume the office of Punong Barangay of Lumbangan for
the unexpired portion of the term.

SO ORDERED.

CASE DIGEST:

BAUTISTA v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 154796-97 (October 23, 2003) EN


BANC

In this case, the Election Officer reported to the COMELEC Law Department
Bautista's ineligibility for being a non-registered voter. The COMELEC Law
Department recommended to the COMELEC En Banc to deny due course or
to cancel Bautista's certificate of candidacy. COMELEC En Banc approved
the recommendation in Resolution No. 5404 dated 23 July 2002. A division
of the COMELEC should have first heard this case. COMELEC En Banc can
only act on the case if there is a motion for reconsideration of the decision of
the COMELEC division. Hence, the COMELEC En Banc acted without
jurisdiction when it ordered the cancellation of Bautista's certificate of
candidacy without first referring the case to a division for summary hearing.
The proceeding on the cancellation of a certificate of candidacy does not

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