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DELA CRUZ, ANN MURIELLE M.

PUBLIC COPORATION/ MONDAY 7:30- 9:30 / ATTY. VALONES

MORENO VS COMELEC

GR 168550

August 10, 2006

FACTS:

Norma L. Mejes (Mejes) filed a petition to disqualify Moreno from running


for Punong Barangay on the ground that the latter was convicted by final judgment of the crime of
Arbitrary Detention and was sentenced to suffer imprisonment of 4 Months and 1 Day to 2 Years
and 4 Months. Moreno filed an answer averring that the petition states no cause of action because
he was already granted probation. Moreno also argued that under Sec. 16 of the Probation Law of
1976 (Probation Law), the final discharge of the probation shall operate to restore to him all civil
rights lost or suspended as a result of his conviction and to fully discharge his liability for any fine
imposed. The order of the trial court dated December 18, 2000 allegedly terminated his probation
and restored to him all the civil rights he lost as a result of his conviction, including the right to
vote and be voted for in the July 15, 2002 elections. The case was forwarded to the Office of the
Provincial Election Supervisor of Samar for preliminary hearing. After due proceedings, the
Investigating Officer recommended that Moreno be disqualified from running
for Punong Barangay. The Comelec First Division adopted this recommendation. On motion for
reconsideration filed with the Comelec en banc, the Resolution of the First Division was
affirmed. According to the Comelec en banc, Sec. 40(a) of the Local Government Code provides
that those sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude or for an offense
punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment, within two (2) years after serving sentence,
are disqualified from running for any elective local position. Since Moreno was released from
probation on December 20, 2000, disqualification shall commence on this date and end two (2)
years thence. The grant of probation to Moreno merely suspended the execution of his sentence
but did not affect his disqualification from running for an elective local office. Moreno argues that
the disqualification under the Local Government Code applies only to those who have served their
sentence and not to probationers because the latter do not serve the adjudged sentence. The
Probation Law should allegedly be read as an exception to the Local Government Code because it
is a special law which applies only to probationers. Further, even assuming that he is disqualified,
his subsequent election as Punong Barangay allegedly constitutes an implied pardon of his
previous misconduct.

ISSUE: Whether or not Moreno is disqualified for running for an elective office

HELD:
No, the grant of probation does not affect the disqualification under Sec. 40(a) of
the Local Government Code was based primarily on the finding that the crime of fencing of which
petitioner was convicted involves moral turpitude, a circumstance which does not obtain in this
case. At any rate, the phrase within two (2) years after serving sentence should have been
interpreted and understood to apply both to those who have been sentenced by final judgment for
an offense involving moral turpitude and to those who have been sentenced by final judgment for
an offense punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment. The placing of the comma (,) in
the provision means that the phrase modifies both parts of Sec. 40(a) of the Local Government
Code. It appears then that during the period of probation, the probationer is not even disqualified
from running for a public office because the accessory penalty of suspension from public office is
put on hold for the duration of the probation.

Clearly, the period within which a person is under probation cannot be equated with service
of the sentence adjudged. Sec. 4 of the Probation Law specifically provides that the grant of
probation suspends the execution of the sentence. During the period of probation,[12] the
probationer does not serve the penalty imposed upon him by the court but is merely required to
comply with all the conditions prescribed in the probation order.[13]

It is regrettable that the Comelec and the OSG have misapprehended the real issue in this
case. They focused on the fact that Morenos judgment of conviction attained finality upon his
application for probation instead of the question of whether his sentence had been served.

It is important to note that the disqualification under Sec. 40(a) of the Local Government Code
covers offenses punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment, a penalty which also
covers probationable offenses. In spite of this, the provision does not specifically disqualify
probationers from running for a local elective office. This omission is significant because it offers
a glimpse into the legislative intent to treat probationers as a distinct class of offenders not covered
by the disqualification.
OLANDO P. DELA TORRE, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and
MARCIAL VILLANUEVA, respondents.

G.R. No. 121592.

July 5, 1996

FACTS:

Petitioner Rolando P. Dela Torre via the instant petition for certiorari seeks the
nullification of two resolutions issued by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) allegedly
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in SPA No. 95-047, a case for
disqualification filed against petitioner before the COMELEC. The first assailed resolution dated
May 6,1995 declared the petitioner disqualified from running for the position of Mayor of Cavinti,
Laguna in the last May 8,1995 elections, citing as the ground therefor, Section 40(a) of Republic
Act No. 7160 (the Local Government Code of 1991) stated Sec. 40. Disqualifications. The
following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local position: (a) Those
sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude or for an offense punishable
by one (1) year or more of imprisonment within two (2) years after serving sentence; In
disqualifying the petitioner, the COMELEC held that:

Documentary evidence established that herein respondent (petitioner in this case) was found guilty
by the Municipal Trial Court for violation of P.D. 1612, (otherwise known as the Anti-fencing
Law). Respondent appealed the said conviction with the Regional Trial Court which however,
affirmed respondents conviction in a Decision dated November 14,1990. Respondents conviction
became final on January 18,1991.

The second assailed resolution, dated August 28, 1995, denied petitioners motion for
reconsideration. In said motion, petitioner claimed that Section 40 (a) of the Local Government
Code does not apply to his case inasmuch as the probation granted him by the MTC on December
21, 1994 which suspended the execution of the judgment of conviction and all other legal
consequences flowing therefrom, rendered inapplicable Section 40 (a) as well.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioner is disqualified from running in a public office

HELD:

No, The Court ruled that the legal effect of probation is only to suspend the execution of
the sentence. Petitioners conviction of fencing which we have heretofore declared as a crime of
moral turpitude and thus falling squarely under the disqualification found in Section 40 (a), subsists
and remains totally unaffected notwithstanding the grant of probation. In fact, a judgment of
conviction in a criminal case ipso facto attains finality when the accused applies for probation,
although it is not executory pending resolution of the application for probation.[17] Clearly then,
petitioners theory has no merit.
FLORENTINA L. BACLAYON, petitioner,
vs.
HON. PACITO G. MUTIA, as Presiding Judge of the Municipal Court of Plaridel,
Misamis Occidental and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

G.R. No. L-59298

April 30, 1984

FACTS:

Petitioner, a school teacher, was convicted of the crime of Serious Oral Defamation by the
then Municipal Court of Plaridel, Misamis Occidental, then presided by respondent Pacito G.
Mutia for having quarrelled with and uttered insulting and defamatory words against Remedios
Estillore, principal of the Plaridel Central School. Her conviction was affirmed by the Court of
Appeals (now Intermediate Appellate Court) and the appellate court, taking into account the
aggravating circumstance of disregard of the respect due the offended party on account of her rank
and age and the fact that the crime was committed in the office of the complainant in the public
school building of Plaridel, Misamis Occidental where public authorities are engaged in the
discharge of their duties during office hours, increased the penalty imposed by respondent judge
and sentenced petitioner to one year, 8 months, 21 days of arresto mayor in its maximum period
to 2 years and 4 months of prision correccional in its minimum period. Petitioner applied for
probation with respondent judge who referred the application to a Probation Officer. The Post-
Sentence Investigation Report favorably recommended the granting of petitioner's probation for a
period of three (3) years. Respondent Judge issued an order granting petitioner's probation, but
modified the Probation Officer's recommendation by increasing the period of probation to five (5)
years and by imposing the following conditions. Petitioner's plea for deletion of the last condition
was rejected by respondent judge which is to refrain her from teaching.

ISSUE: Whether or not the said condition is detrimental and prejudice to her constitutional rights
and not in accordance with the benefits of the Probation Law.

HELD:

Yes, The Court ruled that An order placing defendant on "probation" is not a "sentence"
but is rather in effect a suspension of the imposition of sentence. 7 It is not a final judgment but is
rather an "interlocutory judgment" in the nature of a conditional order placing the convicted
defendant under the supervision of the court for his reformation, to be followed by a final judgment
of discharge, if the conditions of the probation are complied with, or by a final judgment of
sentence if the conditions are violated. 8While it is true that probation is a mere privilege and its
grant rests solely upon the discretion of the court, this discretion is to be exercised primarily for
the benefit of organized society and only incidentally for the benefit of the accused. 5 Equal regard
to the demands of justice and public interest must be observed. 6 In this case, teaching has been
the lifetime and only calling and profession of petitioner. The law requires that she devote herself
to a lawful calling and occupation during probation. Yet, to prohibit her from engaging in teaching
would practically prevent her from complying with the terms of the probation.