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CAYETANO v. MONSOD, 201 SCRA 210 (1991)

RENATO L. CAYETANO vs. CHRISTIAN MONSOD September 3, 1991 | G.R. No. 100113 Facts: - President Corazon Aquino Appointed Christian Monsod as the chairman of COMELEC. - Renato Cayetano opposed the nomination because according to him, the respondent fall short of the ten year requirement for the position. - The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C: There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding elections. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. (Emphasis supplied) - June 5, 1991: COA approved the appointment. - June 18, 1991: Monsod took his oath and assumed office. - Petitioner prayed for certiorari and prohibition against Monsod.

Issue: Whether or not Monsod is engaged in the practice of law for more than ten years.

Held: Atty. Monsods past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyerlegislator of both the rich and the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings on Monsods confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary qualifications as required by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commissions judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Courts corrective power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly shown.

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill.



216 SCRA 760, 1992

Facts: On 15 January 1990, petitioner filed with respondent Commission his certificate of candidacy for the position of Vice-Governor of the Mindanao Autonomous Region in the election held on 17 February 1990. On 5 March 1990 (or 16 days after the election), respondent Ututalum filed before the respondent Commission a petition seeking to disqualify petitioner for the office of Regional Vice-Governor, on the ground that the latter made a false representation in his certificate of candidacy as to his age.

Petitioner Loong sought the dismissal of the petition on the ground that the respondent COMELEC has no jurisdiction. The motion to dismiss was denied by the COMELEC in a resolution which is the subject of this petition.

Petitioner Loong contends that SPA No. 90-006 (a petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of petitioner Loong) was filed out of time because it was filed beyond the 25-day period prescribed by Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code.

Issue: Whether or not SPA No. 90-006 was filed within the period prescribed by law.

Held: No. The petition filed by private respondent Ututalum with the respondent COMELEC to disqualify petitioner Loong on the ground that the latter made a false representation in his certificate of candidacy as to his age, clearly does not fall under the grounds of disqualification as provided for in Rule 25 but is expressly covered by Rule 23 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure governing petitions to cancel certificate of candidacy. Moreover, Section 3, Rule 25 which allows the filing of the petition at any time after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy but not later than the date of proclamation, is merely a procedural rule issued by respondent Commission which, although a constitutional body, has no legislative powers. Thus, it can not supersede Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code which is a legislative enactment.


LABAN ng demokratikong Pilipino vs. Comelec,

G.R. 161265, Feb. 24, 2004 FACTS: The General Counsel of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), a registered political party, informed the COMELEC by way of Manifestation that only the Party Chairman, Senator Edgardo J. Angara, or his authorized representative may endorse the certificate of candidacy of the partys official candidates. The same Manifestation stated that Sen. Angara had placed the LDP Secretary General, Representative Agapito A. Aquino, on "indefinite forced leave." In the meantime, Ambassador Enrique A. Zaldivar was designated Acting Secretary General. However, Rep. Aquino filed his Comment, contending that the Party Chairman does not have the authority to impose disciplinary sanctions on the Secretary General. As the Manifestation filed by the LDP General Counsel has no basis, Rep. Aquino asked the COMELEC to disregard the same. ISSUE: Is the ascertainment of the identity of political party and its officers within COMELEC jurisdiction? RULING: Yes. The court ruled that the COMELEC correctly stated that "the ascertainment of the identity of [a] political party and its legitimate officers" is a matter that is well within its authority. The source of this authority is no other than the fundamental law itself, which vests upon the COMELEC the power and function to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election. In the exercise of such power and in the discharge of such function, the Commission is endowed with ample "wherewithal" and "considerable latitude in adopting means and methods that will ensure the accomplishment of the great objectives for which it was created to promote free, orderly and honest elections." In the case at bar, the Party Chairman, purporting to represent the LDP, contends that under the Party Constitution only he or his representative, to the exclusion of the Secretary General, has the authority to endorse and sign party nominations. The Secretary General vigorously disputes this claim and maintains his own authority. Clearly, the question of party identity or leadership has to be resolved if the COMELEC is to ascertain whether the candidates are legitimate party standard bearers or not.


Defensor-Santiago Vs. Vasquez, 217 SCRA 633


An information was filed against petitioner with the Sandiganbayan for violation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The order of arrest was issued with bail for release fixed at Php. 15,000 so she filed a motion for acceptance of cash bail bond. On the same day the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution authorizing the petitioner to post cash bond which the later filed in the amount of Php.15, 000. Her arraignment was set, but petitioner asked for the cancellation of her bail bond and that she be allowed provisional release on recognizance. The Sandiganbayan deferred it. The Sandiganbayan issued a hold departure order against petitioner, by reason of the announcement she made that she would be leaving for the U.S. to accept a fellowship a Harvard. In the instant motion she submitted before the S.C. she argues that her right to travel is impaired.

Issue: Whether or Not the petitioners right to travel is impaired.

Held: The petitioner does not deny and as a matter of fact even made a public statement, that she he every intension of leaving the country to pursue higher studies abroad. The court upholds the course of action of the Sandiganbayan in taking judicial notice of such fact of petitioners pal to go abroad and in thereafter issuing a sua sponte the hold departure order is but an exercise of respondent courts inherent power to preserve and to maintain effectiveness of its jurisdiction over the case and the person of the accused.

Also, the petitioner assumed obligations, when she posted bail bond. She holds herself amenable at all times to the orders and process of eth court. She may legally be prohibited from leaving the country during the pendency of the case. (Manotoc v. C.A.)



[G.R. No.133842. January 26, 2000]

FACTS: Petitioner and private respondent herein were candidates for the congressional seat for the Malabon-Navotas legislative district during the elections held on May 11, 1998. After canvassing the municipal certificates of canvass, the district board of canvassers proclaimed petitioner the duly elected congressman. The petitioner took his oath of office on the same day. Private respondent filed with the Comelec a petition, which sought the annulment of petitioner's proclamation. He alleged that there was a verbal order from the Comelec Chairman to suspend the canvass and proclamation of the winning candidate, but the district board of canvassers proceeded with the canvass and proclamation despite the said verbal order. He also alleged that there was non-inclusion of 19 election returns in the canvass, which would result in an incomplete canvass of the election returns. The Comelec en banc issued an order setting aside the proclamation of petitioner and ruled the proclamation as void. Hence, this petition for certiorari seeking the annulment and reversal of the Comelec order.


1. whether the COMELEC has the power to take cognizance of SPC No. 98-143 and SPC No. 98- 206

SPC No. 98-143 an "Urgent Appeal from the Decision of the Legislative District Board of Canvassers for Malabon and Navotas with Prayer for the Nullification of the Proclamation of Federico S. Sandoval as Congressman." SPC No. 98-206. The petition sought the annulment of petitioner's proclamation as congressman.

2. whether the COMELEC's order to set aside petitioner's proclamation was valid.

RULING: On the first issue, we uphold the jurisdiction of the COMELEC over the petitions filed by private respondent. The COMELEC has exclusive jurisdiction over all pre-proclamation controversies. As an exception, however, to the general rule, Section 15 of Republic Act (RA) 7166 prohibits candidates in the presidential, vice-presidential,

senatorial and congressional elections from filing pre-proclamation cases. It states: "Sec. 15. Pre-proclamation cases Not Allowed in Elections for President, Vice-President, Senator, and Members of the House of Representatives. For purposes of the elections for President, Vice-President, Senator and Member of the House of Representatives, no pre-proclamation cases shall be allowed on matters relating to the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and appreciation of election returns or the certificates of canvass, as the case may be. However, this does not preclude the authority of the appropriate canvassing body motu propio or upon written complaint of an interested person to correct manifest errors in the certificate of canvass or election returns before it." The prohibition aims to avoid delay in the proclamation of the winner in the election, which delay might result in a vacuum in these sensitive posts. The law, nonetheless, provides an exception to the exception. The second sentence of Section 15 allows the filing of petitions for correction of manifest errors in the certificate of canvass or election returns even in elections for president, vicepresident and members of the House of Representatives for the simple reason that the correction of manifest error will not prolong the process of canvassing nor delay the proclamation of the winner in the election. This rule is consistent with and complements the authority of the COMELEC under the Constitution to "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall" and its power to "decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections."

We now go to the second issue. Although the COMELEC is clothed with jurisdiction over the subject 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 aside the proclamation of petitioner is invalid for having been rendered without due process of law. Procedural due process demands prior notice and hearing. The facts show that COMELEC set aside the proclamation of petitioner without the benefit of prior notice and hearing and it rendered the questioned order based solely on private respondent's allegations.

Public respondent submits that procedural due process need not be observed in this case because it was merely exercising its administrative power to review, revise and reverse the actions of the board of canvassers.

We cannot accept public respondent's argument.

Taking cognizance of private respondent's petitions for annulment of petitioner's proclamation, COMELEC was not merely performing an administrative function. The administrative powers of the COMELEC include the power to determine the number and location of polling places, appoint election officials and inspectors, conduct registration of voters, deputize law enforcement agencies and government instrumentalities to ensure free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections, register political parties, organizations or coalitions, accredit citizens' arms of the Commission, prosecute election offenses, and recommend to the President the removal of or imposition of any other disciplinary action upon any officer or employee it has deputized for violation or disregard of its directive, order or decision. In addition, the Commission also has direct control and supervision over all personnel involved in the conduct of election. However, the resolution of the adverse claims of private respondent and petitioner as regards the existence of a manifest error in the questioned certificate of canvass requires the COMELEC to act as an arbiter. It behooves the Commission to hear both parties to determine the veracity of their allegations and to decide whether the alleged error is a manifest error. Hence, the resolution of this issue calls for the exercise by the COMELEC of its quasi-judicial power. It has been said that where a power rests in judgment or discretion, so that it is of judicial nature or character, but does not involve the exercise of functions of a judge, or is conferred upon an officer other than a judicial officer, it is deemed quasijudicial. The COMELEC therefore, acting as quasi-judicial tribunal, cannot ignore the requirements of procedural due process in resolving the petitions filed by private respondent.

The COMELEC order dated June 2, 1998 in SPC No. 98-143 and SPC No. 98-206 is ANNULLED.



FACTS: On April 25, 1998, the COMELEC conducted a plebiscite in Taguig, Metro Manila on the conversion of this municipality into a highly urbanized city as mandated by Republic Act No. 8487. The residents of Taguig were asked this question: Do you approve the conversion of the Municipality of Taguig, Metro Manila into a highly urbanized city to be known as the City of Taguig, as provided for in Republic Act No. 8487? On April 26, 1998, the Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (PBOC), without completing the canvass of sixty-four (64) other election returns, declared that the No votes won, indicating that the people rejected the conversion of Taguig into a city. However, upon order of the COMELEC en banc, the PBOC reconvened and completed the canvass of the plebiscite returns, eventually proclaiming that the negative votes still prevailed. Alleging that fraud and irregularities attended the casting and counting of votes, private respondents, filed with the COMELEC a petition seeking the annulment of the announced results of the plebiscite with a prayer for revision and recount of the ballots. The COMELEC treated the petition as an election protest, docketed as EPC No. 98-102. It was raffled to the Second Division. Petitioner intervened in the case. He then filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over an action involving the conduct of a plebiscite. He alleged that a plebiscite cannot be the subject of an election protest. The COMELEC Second Division issued a Resolution granting petitioners motion and dismissing the petition to annul the results of the Taguig plebiscite for lack of jurisdiction. The COMELEC en banc affirmed this Resolution. Accordingly, on April 19, 2004, the COMELEC Second Division issued an Order in EPC No. 98-102 constituting the committees for the revision/recount of the plebiscite ballots. On April 28, 2004, the revision/recount proceedings commenced and upon its termination, the Committees on Revision submitted their complete and final reports. Thereafter, the COMELEC Second Division set the case for hearing. As no witnesses were presented by petitioner, the parties were directed to submit their respective memoranda, which they did.

Petitioner contends that the revision of the plebiscite ballots cannot be relied upon for the determination of the will of the electorate because the revision is incomplete. He claims that: Based on the Final Report of the Committee on Revision for each of the eight (8) Revision Committees, the revision of ballots yielded a total of 15,802 votes for Yes and a total of 12,602 votes for No. The revision committee thus canvassed only a total of 28,404 ballots. As shown by the records, the COMELEC considered not only the total number of votes reflected in the Final Canvassing Report of the Taguig PBOC, but also the voting results based on (1) the physical count of the ballots; (2) the returns of the uncontested precincts; and (3) the appreciation of the contested ballots, all summed up and tallied as follows:

Affirmative Negative Total Number of Votes Per PBOC Canvassing Report 19,413 21,890 Minus: Number of Invalid Votes 253 419 Minus: Number of Votes Deducted from the Plebiscite Returns After Physical Count (Table D) 0 2,024 Plus: Number of Votes Added After Physical Count 1,936 0 (Table D) Plus: Credited Claimed Ballots 9 13 Total 21,105 19,460

ISSUE: Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion. HELD: Petitions dismissed for lack of merit. The above factual findings of the COMELEC supported by evidence, are accorded, not only respect, but finality. This is so because the conduct of plebiscite and determination of its result have always been the business of the COMELEC and not the regular courts. Such a case involves the appreciation of ballots which is best left to the COMELEC. As an independent constitutional body exclusively charged with the power of enforcement and administration of all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall, the COMELEC has the indisputable expertise in the field of election and related laws. Its acts, therefore,

enjoy the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties. In fine, we hold that in issuing the challenged Resolution and Order in these twin petitions, the COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion.

J.2.10 Facts:

Kilosbayan, Inc. vs. COMELEC

Special Provision No. 1 of the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) under Republic Act No. 7180, otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 1992 allocates a specific amount of government funds for infrastructure and other priority projects and activities. In order to be valid, the use and release of said amount would have to proceed upon strict compliance with the following mandatory requirements: (1) approval by the President of the Philippines; (2) release of the amount directly to the appropriate implementing agency; and (3) list of projects and activities. Respondent Cesar Sarino, Secretary of Interior and Local Government, requested for authority to negotiate, enter into and sign Memoranda of Agreements with accredited Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in order to utilize them to projects of the CDF provided for under R.A. No. 7180. Respondent Franklin Drilon, Executive Secretary, granted the above-mentioned request of Secretary Sarino. Such an authority was extended to all the Regional Directors of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Pursuant to the above-described authority granted him as the then Regional Director of the DILG-NCR, respondent Tiburcio Relucio, on April 24, 1992, entered in the Memorandum of Agreement with an accredited NGO known as Philippine Youth Health and Sports Development Foundation, Inc. The PYHSDFI was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on October 25, 1985 as a non-stock, nonprofit foundation. In 1987, the PYHSDFI suspended its operations because of lack of fund donations and the migration to the United States of many of its members. It became active again in October, 1991. In order to be eligible for financial assistance, the PYHSDFI, applied with DILG for accreditation as NGO in Accordance with the guidelines prescribed in Memorandum Circular No. 90-07. The PYHSDFI approved Board Resolution No. 7, requesting for allocation from the governments CDF in order to implement its various sports, health, and cultural activities in specific areas in Metro Manila. The Memorandum of Agreement dated was entered into by PYHSDFI President Catindig and DILG-NCR Regional Director Relucio. Under the said Memorandum of Agreement, it was the express responsibility of the DILG to effect the release and transfer to PYHSDFI of the amount of Seventy Million Pesos. On December 14, 1993, public respondent Commission on Election (Comelec) received from petitioner Kilosbayan a letter informing of two x x x serious violations of election laws [14], thus: 1. The documented admission of Secretary of Budget Salvador Enriquez, that the amount of P70 million was released by his department, shortly before the elections of May 11, 1992, in favor of a private entity, the so-called Philippine Youth, Health and Sports Development Foundation, headed by Mr. Rolando Puno, who had been repeatedly identified by columnist Teodoro Benigno as a key member of the Sulu Hotel Operation (SHO), which had reportedly engaged in dirty election tricks and practices in said election. 2. The illegal diversion of P330 million by Malacaang from the Countryside Development Fund to Department of Interior and Local Government which disbursed this huge amount shortly before the May 11, 1992 election.

and request[ing] that x x x these offenses and malpractices be investigated promptly, thoroughly, impartially, without fear or favor, so that public confidence in the integrity and purity of the electoral process may be immediately restored for the sake of our newly-regained democracy. Comelec Chairman Christian Monsod called a meeting of the Comelec En Banc which resolved to refer petitioner Kilosbayans letter-complaint to Law Department for comment and/or reccomendation. The evidence proffered by Kilosbayan in support of its letter-complaint consisted of the published writings of Teodoro Benigno in his column in the Philippine Star newspaper; the transcripts of record of the testimony of Secretary Enriquez and of the testimony of DILG Budget Officer Rafael Barata; an Affidavit executed by Norberto Gonzales, a congressional candidate in the May 11, 1992 elections, who alleged therein that at Makati Headquarters of the Lakas-NUCD, in February, 1992, he overheard respondents Franklin Drilon and Leonora de Jesus discussing party plans to use the funds of various government offices to finance the partys election campaign. Petitioner Kilosbayan filed, not a consolidated reply, but a pleading denominated as Interrogatives. Said pleading contained a list of questions sought to be propounded to respondents. The Comelec En Banc treated said petitions as motions for reconsideration or petitions for review, of the orders of Director Balbuena giving due course to petitioner Kilosbayans Interrogatories and scheduling the same for hearing. COA Chairman Celso Gangan wrote Director Balbuena that the facts stated in our report dated November 15, 1993 are already complete; that the report does not make mention of irregularities or anomalies, rather deficiencies like lack of supporting documents to fully substantiate the disbursement x x x although the distribution of funds by the Foundation is supported by the a list x x x It is the Law Departments findings and so is Ours, that the nature and amount of expenditure within a short period of time are not sufficient to meet the quantum proof required to establish that said contributions were made for partisan political activity. It must be emphasized that the burden is on Kilosbayan to prove its allegations. He who alleges must prove his allegation. Unfortunately for Complainant, it was not able to produce evidence showing that the contribution was used for partisan political activity. Core Issue: The COMELEC dismissed petitioner's complaints for lack of probable cause, the same cannot be justified upon hearsay evidence that is never given any evidentiary or probative value in this jurisdiction. Complainant posits the view that respondents are liable x x x because the sports and medical kits were unlawful election propaganda, having been purchased and distributed a few days before election and the stopped after the election. At most, this is speculative and presumptive. In the absence of proof amply showing that the purchase and distribution of gadgets and kits were made to advertise or to further the chances of victory of candidate or candidates, the Commission cannot justify the conclusion that probable cause exist to charge respondents x x x. While it was established by documents thus presented x x x that there was a release of public funds by DILG/DILG-NCR, within the prohibited period, the same could not be considered as a violation x x x because one, the expenditure was not for public works; and two, the Department of Interior and Local Government can not be considered as an

office of other ministries (departments) performing functions similar to the Ministry of Social Services and Development or Ministry of Human Settlements. Kilosbayans complaints were heard. They were investigated. Complainant was given full opportunity to argue its case and prove its charges. It presented arguments but not evidences. For the effective investigation and prosecution of cases of election offenses and in the exercise by the Comelec of its quasi-legislative power under Section 6, Article IX of the 1987 Constitution, the Comelec Rules of Procedure were promulgated, providing, among others, the guidelines pertinent to election offenses. Petitioner Kilosbayan must have necessarily tendered evidence, independent of and in support of the allegations in its letter-complaint, of such quality as to engender belief in an ordinarily prudent and cautious man that the offense charged therein has been committed by herein respondents. It certainly demands more than bare suspicion and can never be left to presupposition, conjuncture, or even convincing logic The claim of petitioner Kilosbayan that it is merely the informant and not the private complainant with the burden to prove probable cause, borders on the ridiculous. The Kilosbayan should have presented evidence and not proceeded and relied on mere conjecture and hearsay evidence. The contention of petitioner Kilosbayan that it is the Comelec that is duty-bound to search for evidence to prove its letter-complaint is downright erroneous. The task of the Comelec as investigator and prosecutor, acting upon any election offenses complaint, is not the physical searching and gathering of proof in support of a complaint for an alleged commission of an election offense. A complainant, who in effect accuses another person of having committed an act constituting an election offense, has the burden, as it is his responsibility, to follow through his accusation and prove his complaint.

J.2.11 Facts:

COMELEC vs Silva

This case presents for determination the extent of control which those designated by the Commission on Elections have in the prosecution of election offenses. Pursuant to its power under Art. IX-C, sec. 2(6) of the Constitution, the COMELEC charged private respondents Erasto Tanciongco( provincial prosecutor of Bataan, was vice chairman) and Norma Castillo(division superintendent of schools, was secretary of the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Bataan) with violations of sec. 27 of R.A. No. 6646, together with Zenon Uy(assistant regional director of elections, was chairman of the board) accused of having tampered, in conspiracy with one another, with the certificates of canvass by increasing the votes received by then senatorial candidate Juan Ponce Enrile in certain municipalities of Bataan in the May 8, 1995 elections. Tanciongco and Castillo filed a joint Omnibus Motion for Examination of Evidence to Determine the Existence of Probable Cause; Suspension of Issuance of Warrant of Arrest; and Dismissal of the Cases. Complainant, Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. expressed no objection to the dismissal of the cases against the two. The COMELEC sought to appeal the dismissal of the cases to the Court of Appeals by filing notices, but the judges denied due course to its appeal. The sole basis for the denials was the fact that the prosecutor, had earlier taken a contrary stand against the COMELEC. Chief State Prosecutor states that he cannot give his conformity to the Notice of Appeal filed by Jose P. Balbuena of the Comelec as it would not be consistent with his position that he would abide by whatever finding the court may come up with on the existence of probable cause as against the accused Erasto Tanciongco and Norma Castillo. Consequently, the notice of appeal filed by Jose P. Balbuena is unauthorized and without legal effect. Hence this petition for certiorari and mandamus seeking the nullification of the orders of the two judges, denying due course to the Notices of Appeal of the COMELEC. In criminal cases the prosecution cannot appeal if the accused would thereby be placed in double jeopardy, but here the cases were dismissed by the judges before the accused were arraigned and, therefore, jeopardy has not attached. For while the right to appeal is statutory and is not constitutional, once it is granted by statute, its denial would be a violation of the due process clause of the Constitution. Issue: Who has authority to decide whether or not to appeal from the orders of dismissal the COMELEC or its designated prosecutor? Held: The authority to decide whether or not to appeal the dismissal belongs to the COMELEC. Art. IX-C, sec. 2(6) of the Constitution expressly vests in it the power and function to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.

Prosecutors designated by the COMELEC to prosecute the cases act as its deputies. They derive their authority from it and not from their offices.[12] Consequently, it was beyond the power of Chief State Prosecutor Zuo to oppose the appeal of the COMELEC. Those cases were filed by the COMELEC after appropriate preliminary investigation. If the Chief State Prosecutor thought there was no probable cause for proceeding against private respondents, he should have discussed the matter with the COMELEC and awaited its instruction. If he disagreed with the COMELECs findings, he should have sought permission to withdraw from the cases. But he could not leave the determination of probable cause to the courts and agree in advance to the dismissal of the cases should the courts find no probable cause for proceeding with the trial of the accused. There was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent judges to rely on the manifestation of Chief State Prosecutor Zuo as basis for denying due course to the notices of appeal filed by the COMELEC. Private respondents have nothing to say on this question. Their sole contention is that the petition should be dismissed because , so it is argued, it should have been brought in the name of the People of the Philippines and have been filed by the Solicitor General. This contention is without merit. This is not the first time the COMELEC has come to this Court in its own name in regard to an action taken against it in cases filed by it in the lower courts. This is so, for it is not only entrusted with the duty to enforce the said law but also to prosecute all election offenses. Considering the authority of the COMELEC over the prosecution of election offenses, its decision to bring this instant petition for certiorari and mandamus is conclusive on the Solicitor General. It would simply be a matter of referring this case to the Solicitor General so that, if he agrees, he may take over the conduct of this case. Otherwise, the COMELEC could just continue handling this case as it has actually done. Hence, the omission of the COMELEC to refer this petition to the Office of the Solicitor General for representation should be disregarded. To make the filing of this case depend on his decision would be to place him in the same position in which respondent judges placed Chief State Prosecutor Zuo. That would further negate the constitutional function of the COMELEC.

J.2.12 Facts:

COMELEC vs Tagle

During the 11 May 1998 elections, Florentino A. Bautista ran for the position of mayor in the Municipality of Kawit, Cavite. He filed with the COMELEC a complaint against then incumbent mayor Atty. Federico Poblete, Bienvenido Pobre, Reynaldo Aguinaldo, Arturo Ganibe, Leonardo Llave, Diosdado del Rosario, Manuel Ubod, Angelito Peregrino, Mario Espiritu, Salvador Olaes and Pedro Paterno, Jr., for violation of Section 261 (a) and (b) of the Omnibus Election Code. The complaint was supported by the separate affidavits of forty-four (44) witnesses attesting to the vote-buying activities of the respondents and was docketed as E.O. Case No. 98-219. The COMELEC en banc issued a resolution directing the filing of the necessary information against the respondents in E.O. Case No. 98-219 and authorizing the Director IV of the Law Department to designate a COMELEC prosecutor to handle the prosecution of the cases and to file the appropriate motion for the preventive suspension of the respondents. Before the trial of Criminal Case No. 7034-99 commenced, a complaint was filed by Innocencio Rodelas and Gerardo Macapagal with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Imus, Cavite, for violation of Section 261(a) of the Omnibus Election Code against the witnesses in the criminal case for vote-buying, who were the witnesses in E.O. Case No. 98-219. On 23 June 2000, the respondents in I.S. No. 1-99-1080 appealed before the COMELEC, the COMELEC en banc denied the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. However, upon the urgent motion to set for hearing the appeal, the COMELEC en banc resolved to defer action on the appeal and refer the same to the Law Department for comment and recommendation. The Law Department of the COMELEC filed motions to suspend proceedings before Branches 20, 21, 22 and 90 of the RTC of Imus, Cavite, until the COMELEC would have resolved the appeal of the respondents in I.S. No. 1-99-1080. The Presiding Judge of Branch 22 granted the motion for the suspension of proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 7940-00 to 7949-00 and 7981-00. In its Minute Resolution No. 00-2453, [6] the COMELEC en banc, upon the recommendation of its Law Department, declared null and void the resolution of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in I.S. No. 1-99-1080. It held that the respondents therein are exempt from criminal prosecution pursuant to the fourth paragraph of Section 28 of R.A. No. 6646, [7] otherwise known as The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987, which grants immunity from criminal prosecution persons who voluntarily give information and willingly testify against those liable for vote-buying or vote-selling. Pursuant to Minute Resolution No. 00-2453, the Law Department filed a motion to dismiss [8] Criminal Cases Nos. 7950-00 to 7959-00 and 7980-00 before Branch 20 of the RTC of Imus, Cavite, presided by herein respondent judge. The latter, however, denied the said motion and the motion for reconsideration. According to respondent judge, before one can be exempt from prosecution under the fourth paragraph of Section 28 of R.A. No. 6646, it is necessary that such person has already performed the overt act of voluntarily giving information or testifying in any official investigation or proceeding for the offense to which such information or testimony was given. It was thus premature to exempt the respondents in I.S. No. 1-99-1080 from criminal prosecution, since they have not yet testified.

Issue: WON respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion in denying the motion to dismiss the said criminal cases. Held: This Court referred the petition to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the OSG stated that it repleads the submissions contained in the petition and adopts the petition as its own. Election offenses, such as vote-buying and vote-selling, are evils which prostitute the election process. The provision of law alleged to have been violated by the respondents in E.O. Case No. 98-219, who are the accused in Criminal Case No. 7034-99. One of the effective ways of preventing the commission of vote-buying and of prosecuting those committing it is the grant of immunity from criminal liability in favor of the party whose vote was bought. This grant of immunity will encourage the recipient or acceptor to come into the open and denounce the culprit-candidate, and will ensure the successful prosecution of the criminal case against the latter. However, to avoid possible fabrication of evidence against the vote-buyers, especially by the latters opponents, Congress saw it fit to warn vote-sellers who denounce the vote-buying that they could be liable for perjury or false testimony should they not tell the truth. It must be stressed that the COMELEC has the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under the election laws and to prosecute the same. This authority may be revoked or withdrawn by the COMELEC anytime. In this case, when the COMELEC nullified the resolution of the Provincial Prosecutor in I.S. No. 1-99-1080, which was the basis of the informations for voteselling, it, in effect, withdrew the deputation granted to the prosecutor. We agree with the petitioner and hold that the respondents in I.S. No. 1-99-1080, who are the accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 7950-00 to 7959-00 and 7980-00, are exempt from criminal prosecution for vote-selling. Respondent judge lost sight of the fact that at the time the complaint for vote-selling was filed with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, the respondents in I.S. No. 1-99-1080 had already executed sworn statements attesting to the corrupt practice of vote-buying in the case docketed as Criminal Case No. 7034-99. They had already voluntarily given information in the votebuying case. In fact, they willingly testified in Criminal Case No. 7034-99. Clearly then, respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion when he denied the motion to dismiss Criminal Cases Nos. 7950-00 to 7959-00 and 7980-00 despite COMELECs determination that the accused therein are exempt from criminal prosecution for vote-selling pursuant to the proviso in the fourth paragraph of Section 28 of R.A. No. 6646.