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CAYAT V. COMELEC G.R. No.

163776 April 24, 2007


FACTS:
Fr.Nardo Cayat and Thomas Palileng are the only mayoralty candidates for
the May 2004 elections in Buguias Benguet.
Palileng filed a petition for cancellation of the COC of Cayat on the ground
of misrepresentation. Palileng argues that Cayat misrepresents himself
when he declared in his COC that he is eligible to run as mayor when in
fact he is not because he is serving probation after being convicted for the
offense of acts of lasciviousness.
Comelec, granted the petition of Palileng and Cayat filed a motion for
reconsideration. Such, MR was denied because Cayat failed to pay the
filing fee and hence, it was declared final and executory.
Despite this decision, Cayat was still proclaimed as the winner and Palileng
filed a petition for annulment of proclamation. Comelec declared Palileng
as the duly elected mayor and Feliseo Bayacsan as the duly elected vice
mayor.
Bayacsan argues that he should be declared as mayor because of the
doctrine of rejection of second placer.
ISSUE:
WON the rejection of second placer doctrine is applicable.
HELD:
The doctrine cannot be applied in this case because the disqualification of
Cayat became final and executory before the elections and hence, there is
only one candidate to speak of.

The law expressly declares that a candidate disqualified by final judgment


before an election cannot be voted for, and votes cast for him shall not be
counted. As such, Palileng is the only candidate and the duly elected
mayor.
The doctrine will apply in Bayacsans favor, regardless of his intervention in
the present case, if two conditions concur: (1) the decision on Cayats
disqualification remained pending on election day, 10 May 2004, resulting
in the presence of two mayoralty candidates for Buguias, Benguet in the
elections; and (2) the decision on Cayats disqualification became final only
after the elections.

Ramon Labo, Jr. vs COMELEC [211 SCRA 297;GR 105111, July 3,


1992]

Posted by Pius Morados on November 6, 2011


(Municipal Corporation, Disqualification, 2nd Highest Number of
Votes)

Facts: For the second time around, believing that he is a Filipino


ctizen, Ramon Labo, Jr filed his COC for mayor of Baguio City on
March 23, 1992 for the May 11, 1992 elections. Petitioner Roberto
Ortega on other hand, also filed his COC for the same office on
March 25, 1992.

On March 26, 1992, petitioner Ortega filed a disqualification


proceeding against Labo before the COMELEC on the ground that
Labo is not a Filipino citizen.

On May 9, 1992, respondent Comelec issued the assailed


resolution denying Labos COC.

On May 10, 1992, respondent Comelec issued an Order which


reads: Acting on the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Clarification,
filed by respondent (Labo) on May 9, 1992, the Commission
resolves that the decision promulgated on May 9, 1992
disqualifying respondent Ramon L. Labo, Jr., shall become final
and executory only after five (5) days from promulgation pursuant
to Rule 18, Section 13, Paragraph (b) of the Comelec Rules of
Procedure.

Accordingly, respondent (Labo) may still continue to be voted


upon as candidate for City Mayor of Baguio City on May 11, 1992
subject to the final outcome of this case in the event the issue is
elevated to the Supreme Court either on appeal or certiorari.

On May 13, 1992, respondent Comelec resolved, motu proprio to


suspend the proclamation of Labo in the event he wins in the
elections for the City Mayor of Baguio.

On May 15, 1992, petitioner Labo filed the instant petition for
review with prayer, among others, for the issuance of a temporary
restraining order to set aside the May 9, 1992 resolution of
respondent Comelec; to render judgment declaring him as a
Filipino citizen; and to direct respondent Comelec to proceed with
his proclamation in the event he wins in the contested elections.

Petitioner Ortega argues that respondent Comelec committed


grave abuse of discretion when it refused to implement its May 9,
1992 resolution notwithstanding the fact that said resolution
disqualifying Labo has already become final and executory.

Petitioner Ortega submits that since this Court did not issue a
temporary restraining order as regards the May 9, 1992 resolution
of respondent Comelec cancelling Labos certificate of candidacy,
said resolution has already become final and executory. Ortega
further posits the view that as a result of such finality, the
candidate receiving the next highest number of votes should be
declared Mayor of Baguio City.

Sec. 78 of the Omnibus Election Code provides: Petition to deny


due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy

(e) The decision, order, or ruling of the Commission shall, after


five (5) days from receipt of a copy thereof by the parties, be final
and executory unless stayed by the Supreme Court.

Issue:

WON Petitioner Labo who had the highest number of votes is


qualified to assume as Mayor of Baguio City.
WON disqualification of petitioner Labo entitles the candidate
(Ortega) receiving the next highest number of votes to be
proclaimed as the winning candidate for mayor of Baguio City.
Held:

First Issue:

No. At the time petitioner Labo filed his petition on May 15, 1992,
the May 9, 1992 resolution of respondent Comelec cancelling his
(Labos) certificate of candidacy had already become final and
executory a day earlier, or on May 14, 1992, said resolution
having been received by petitioner Labo on the same day it was
promulgated, i.e., May 9, 1992 and in the interim no restraining
order was issued by this Court.

The resolution cancelling Labos certificate of candidacy on the


ground that he is not a Filipino citizen having acquired finality on
May 14, 1992 constrains the SC to rule against his proclamation
as Mayor of Baguio City.

Sec. 39 of the LGC provides that an elective local official must be


a citizen of the Philippines. Undoubtedly, petitioner Labo, not
being a Filipino citizen, lacks the fundamental qualification for the
contested office. Philippine citizenship is an indispensable

requirement for holding an elective office. The fact that he was


elected by the majority of the electorate is of no moment.

Second Issue:

No. The disqualification of petitioner Labo does not necessarily


entitle petitioner Ortega as the candidate with the next highest
number of votes to proclamation as the Mayor of Baguio City.

While Ortega may have garnered the second highest number of


votes for the office of city mayor, the fact remains that he was not
the choice of the sovereign will. Petitioner Labo was
overwhelmingly voted by the electorate for the office of mayor in
the belief that he was then qualified to serve the people of Baguio
City and his subsequent disqualification does not make
respondent Ortega the mayor-elect.

Petitioner Ortega lost in the election. He was repudiated by the


electorate. He was obviously not the choice of the people of
Baguio City.

Thus, while respondent Ortega (GR No. 105111) originally filed a


disqualification case with the Comelec (docketed as SPA-92-029)
seeking to deny due course to petitioners (Labos) candidacy, the
same did not deter the people of Baguio City from voting for
petitioner Labo, who, by then, was allowed by the respondent
Comelec to be voted upon, the resolution for his disqualification
having yet to attain the degree of finality (Sec. 78. Omnibus
Election Code).

The rule, therefore, is: the ineligibility of a candidate receiving


majority votes does not entitle the eligible candidate receiving the
next highest number of votes to be declared elected. A minority
or defeated candidate cannot be deemed elected to the office.

OCAMPO VS. HRET, super digested

Posted by Pius Morados on November 9, 2011


432 SCRA 145, June 15 2004 (Constitutional Law
Disqualification)

FACTS: In the case at bar, private respondent, a duly elected


congressman, was declared disqualified 22 months after the May
14, 2001 elections. Petitioner avers that, having garnered the
second highest number of votes, the same should be declared the
winner in the said elections.

ISSUE: Whether or not a second placer in congressional elections


can be proclaimed the duly elected Congressman.

HELD: No, it is settled jurisprudence that the subsequent


disqualification of a candidate who obtained the highest number
of votes does not entitle the candidate who garnered the second
highest number of votes to be declared the winner. The latter
could not be proclaimed winner as he could not be considered the
first among the qualified candidates.

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 157526. April 28, 2004]

EMILIANA
TORAL
KARE, petitioner,
ELECTIONS, respondent.

vs. COMMISSION

ON

[G.R. No. 157527. April 28, 2004]

SALVADOR
K.
MOLL, petitioner,
ELECTIONS, respondent.

vs. COMMISSION

ON

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

When a mayoral candidate who gathered the highest number of votes is


disqualified after the election is held, a permanent vacancy is created, and the
vice mayor succeeds to the position.
The Case
Before us are two Petitions for Certiorari under Rules 64 and 65 of the
Rules of Court, seeking the nullification of the March 19, 2003 En Banc
Resolution issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in SPA No. 01272. The Comelec resolved therein to disqualify Salvador K. Moll from the
mayoralty of Malinao, Albay, and to proclaim Avelino Ceriola as the mayorelect of the said municipality. The decretal portion of the Resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. It is
affirmed that private respondent Salvador K. Moll is DISQUALIFIED from holding
the office of the Mayor of Malinao, Albay.His proclamation as the winning candidate
for such office is declared VOID AB INITIO. Consequently, the Provincial Election
Supervisor of Albay is directed to immediately convene the municipal board of
canvassers of Malinao, Albay and PROCLAIM petitioner Avelino Ceriola as the
Mayor-Elect of the municipality.[1]
In GR No. 157526, Petitioner Emiliana Toral Kare seeks the nullification of
the March 19, 2003 Resolution insofar as it authorized the proclamation of
Ceriola as the mayor-elect of Malinao. In GR No. 157527, Petitioner Moll
prays for the annulment of the entire Resolution.
The Facts

Petitioner Moll and Private Respondent Ceriola were candidates for mayor
of the Municipality of Malinao, Albay, during the elections of May 14, 2001.
Moll obtained the highest number of votes cast for the position while
Ceriola came in second, with a total of nine hundred eighty-seven (987) votes
separating the two. Kare was elected vice mayor in the same election.
On May 18, 2001, Ceriola filed a Petition to Confirm the Disqualification
and/or Ineligibility of Dindo K. Moll to Run for Any Elective Position. The
Petition alleged that the latter had been sentenced by final judgment to suffer
the penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor to one (1) year and nine (9)
months of prision correccional, for the crime of usurpation of authority or
official functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code.
In its May 28, 2001 Resolution,[2] the Comelec First Division dismissed the
Petition. Ceriola filed his Motion for Reconsideration with the Comelec en
banc which, on August 31, 2001, set aside the said Resolution. It thereafter
directed the clerk of the Comelec to remand the Petition to the provincial
election supervisor of Albay for hearing and reception of evidence.
Ruling of the Comelec En Banc
On March 19, 2003, after the provincial election supervisor of Albay
submitted the report and recommendation, the Comelec en banc issued the
questioned Resolution affirming Molls disqualification and proclaiming Ceriola
as the mayor-elect of the municipality.
As earlier adverted to, the Comelec ruled that Moll had indeed been
disqualified from being a mayoral candidate in the May 14, 2001 local
election, and that his subsequent proclamation as mayor was void ab
initio. Consequently, he was disqualified from holding that office.
The Comelec further ruled that the trial courts final judgment of conviction
of Moll disqualified him from filing his certificate of candidacy and continued to
disqualify him from holding office. Accordingly, the votes cast in his favor were
stray or invalid votes, and Ceriola -- the candidate who had obtained the
second highest number of votes -- was adjudged the winner.Thus, the
Comelec ordered the Municipal Board of Canvassers to proclaim him as the
mayor-elect of the municipality.

Before Ceriolas actual proclamation, Kare filed a Petition before this Court
with a prayer for a Status Quo Order, which was granted on April 1, 2003. [3] In
this Order, the Comelec, the provincial election supervisor of Albay, and the
municipal canvassers of Malinao (Albay) were required to observe the status
quo prevailing before the filing of the Petition.
The other Petition was filed by Moll.[4]
The Issues
After going through the Memoranda submitted by the parties, the Court
has determined that the following are the two issues that have to be resolved:
1. Should Moll be disqualified from running and/or holding the position of mayor?
2.) If the first issue is answered in the affirmative, who should become the mayor -Ceriola, the second placer in the mayoral election? Or Kare, the elected vice mayor?
The Courts Ruling
The Petition in GR No. 157526 is partly meritorious, but the Petition in GR
No. 157527 has no merit.
First Issue:
Disqualification
Moll argues that he cannot be disqualified from running for mayor, since
his judgement of conviction[5] -- the basis of his disqualification -- has allegedly
not yet attained finality. He contends that while the said judgment promulgated
on May 11, 1999 was not appealed by filing the Notice of Appeal in the
ordinary course of the proceedings, he still filed a Motion for Reconsideration
dated May 28, 1999 within the reglementary period.[6] Thus, according to him,
the filing of such Motion stayed the finality of his conviction.
We disagree. Section 7 of Rule 120 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal
Procedure reads thus:
Sec. 7. Modification of judgment. -- A judgment of conviction may, upon motion of
the accused, be modified or set aside before it becomes final or before appeal is
perfected. Except where the death penalty is imposed, a judgment in a criminal case

becomes final after the lapse of the period for perfecting an appeal, or when the
sentence has been partially or totally satisfied or served, or when the accused has
waived in writing his right to appeal, or has applied for probation. (Italics supplied)
In turn, Section 6 of Rule 122 provides:
Sec. 6. When appeal to be taken. - An appeal must be taken within fifteen (15) days
from promulgation of the judgment or from notice of the final order appealed
from. This period for perfecting an appeal shall be interrupted from the time a motion
for new trial or reconsideration is filed until notice of the order overruling the motion
shall have been served upon the accused or his counsel at which time the balance of
the period begins to run. (Italics supplied)
It is clear that the period for appeal is interrupted by the filing of either a
motion for reconsideration or a motion for a new trial. Moll makes it appear
that his filing of a motion for reconsideration should have stayed the running of
the period for filing an appeal. What he did file, however, was a Motion to
Quash the Information; and when it was denied, he filed a Motion for
Reconsideration of the denial.
The Rules of Court mandates that an appeal should be filed within fifteen
(15) days from promulgation of the judgment or from notice of the final order
appealed from. It necessarily follows that this period is interrupted only by the
filing of a motion for reconsideration of the judgment or of the final order being
appealed.
Neither Molls Motion to Quash Information nor his Motion for
Reconsideration was directed at the judgment of conviction. Rather, they both
attacked a matter extraneous to the judgment. Hence, they cannot affect the
period of appeal granted by the Rules of Court in relation to the conviction.
Moll himself admitted that no regular appeal was filed because he was still
questioning the propriety of the denial of his Motion to Quash the Information
and the propriety of the conduct of the promulgation of his sentence despite
his absence x x x.[7] Aside from not interrupting his judgment of conviction, the
motion to quash was even belatedly filed. Such a motion may be filed by the
accused at any time before entering a plea[8] and certainly not on the day of
the promulgation, as Moll did.

As to his contention that the promulgation of judgment was not valid


because it was done in his absence, we agree with the Office of the Solicitor
General, which argues as follows:
It was not contested that Moll received a notice of the promulgation, in fact his
counsel was present on the day of the promulgation - to file a motion to quash. Hence,
because of Molls unexplained absence, the promulgation of the judgment could be
validly made by recording the judgment in the criminal docket and serving him a copy
thereof to his last known address or thru his counsel (Section 6, Rule 120, Rules of
Court).[9]
Indubitably, since no appeal of the conviction was seasonably filed by Moll,
the judgment against him has become final. [10] Thus, the Comelec en banc
correctly ruled that he was disqualified from running for mayor, under Section
40(a) of the Local Government Code (RA No. 7160), which provides:
Section 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;
x x x x x x x x x.
Moll was sentenced to suffer the penalty of six (6) months of arresto
mayor to one (1) year and nine (9) months of prision correccional, a penalty
that clearly disqualified him from running for any elective local position.
Second Issue:
The Lawful Mayor
In allowing Ceriola -- the second placer in the mayoralty race -- to be
proclaimed mayor-elect after the disqualification of Moll, the Comelec applied
Section 211(24) of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), which provides:
Sec. 211. Rules for the appreciation of ballots. In the reading and appreciation of
ballots, every ballot shall be presumed to be valid unless there is clear and good
reason to justify its rejection. The board of election inspectors shall observe the

following rules, bearing in mind that the object of the election is to obtain the
expression of the voters will:
xxxxxxxxx
24. Any vote cast in favor of a candidate who has been disqualified by final judgment
shall be considered as stray and shall not be counted but it shall not invalidate the
ballot.
The poll body interpreted the phrase disqualified by final judgment to
mean disqualification by a final judgment of conviction, which was the ground
upon which Moll was disqualified. It ruled:
In this case, the disqualification is based specifically on the final judgment of
conviction by a court against private respondent. This final judgment disqualified
private respondent from filing his certificate of candidacy in the first instance, and
continues to disqualify private respondent from holding office. Accordingly, the votes
cast in his favor were stray or invalid votes and the general rule in the Sunga Case
does not apply. Consequently, petitioner, having obtained the highest number of valid
votes, is entitled to be proclaimed the winning mayoralty candidate. [11]
Further, it said:
x x x As such, this instance constitutes an exception to the general rule enunciated in
the Sunga Case. In the language of the said case, the foregoing provision of law is a
statute which clearly asserts a legislative policy contrary to the rule that the candidate
with the second highest number of votes cannot be declared the winner, given that the
votes for the disqualified candidate, though of highest number, are deemed stray and
invalid. Consequently, the so-called second placer shall be declared the winner
because he or she in fact obtained the highest number of valid votes. [12]
Such arguments do not persuade.
In every election, the choice of the people is the paramount consideration,
and their expressed will must at all times be given effect. [13] When the majority
speaks by giving a candidate the highest number of votes in the election for
an office, no one else can be declared elected in place of the former. [14] In a
long line of cases, this Court has definitively ruled that the Comelec cannot
proclaim as winner the candidate who obtained the second highest number of
votes, should the winning candidate be declared ineligible or disqualified.[15]

The Comelec, however, asserts that this case falls under the exception
declared by the Court in Sunga v. Comelec,[16] from which we quote:
x x x The votes cast for a disqualified person may not be valid to install the winner
into office or maintain him there. But in the absence of a statute which clearly asserts
a contrary political and legislative policy on the matter, if the votes were cast in the
sincere belief that the candidate was qualified, they should not be treated as stray, void
or meaningless.[17]
According to the Comelec, Section 211(24) of the OEC is a clear
legislative policy that is contrary to the rule that the second placer cannot be
declared winner.
We disagree.
The provision that served as the basis of Comelecs Decision to declare
the second placer as winner in the mayoral race should be read in relation
with other provisions of the OEC.Section 72 thereof, as amended by RA 6646,
provides as follows:
Sec. 72. Effects of disqualification cases and priority. The Commission and the courts
shall give priority to cases of disqualification by reason of 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 is sought.
Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be
voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. Nevertheless, if for any
reason, a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be
disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such
election, his violation of the provisions of the preceding sections shall not prevent his
proclamation and assumption to office." (Italics supplied)
When read together, these provisions are understood to mean that any
vote cast in favor of a candidate, whose disqualification has already been
declared final regardless of the ground therefor, shall be considered stray. The
Comelec misconstrued this provision by limiting it only to disqualification by
conviction in a final judgment.
Obviously, the disqualification of a candidate is not only by conviction in a
final judgment; the law lists other grounds for disqualification. [18] It escapes us

why the Comelec insists that Section 211(24) of the OEC is strictly for those
convicted by a final judgment. Such an interpretation is clearly inconsistent
with the other provisions of the election code.
More important, it is clear that it was only on March 19, 2003, that the
Comelec en banc issued Resolution No. SPA No. 01-272. The Resolution
adopted the recommendation of the provincial election supervisor of Albay to
disqualify Moll from running as a mayoral candidate in Malinao, Albay. Thus,
on May 14, 2001, when the electorate voted for him as mayor, they were
under the belief that he was qualified. There is no presumption that they
agreed to the subsequent invalidation of their votes as stray votes, in case of
his disqualification.
A subsequent finding by the Comelec en banc that Moll was
ineligible cannot retroact to the date of the election and thereby invalidate the
votes cast for him.[19]
Moreover, Moll was not notoriously known to the public as an ineligible
candidate. As discussed above, the Resolution declaring him as such was
rendered long after the election. Thus, on the part of those who voted for him,
their votes are presumed to have been cast with a sincere belief that he was a
qualified candidate, and without any intention to misapply their
franchise. Thus, their votes cannot be treated as stray, void, or meaningless.
[20]

The Comelecs interpretation of a section in the OEC cannot supplant an


accepted doctrine laid down by this Court. In Aquino v. Comelec,[21] we said:
x x x To simplistically assume that the second placer would have received the other
votes would be to substitute our judgment for the mind of the voter. The second placer
is just that, a second placer. He lost the elections. He was repudiated by either a
majority or plurality of voters. He could not be considered the first among qualified
candidates because in a field which excludes the disqualified candidate, the conditions
would have substantially changed. We are not prepared to extrapolate the results under
such circumstances.[22]
To allow the defeated and repudiated candidate to take over the mayoralty
despite his rejection by the electorate is to disenfranchise them through no
fault on their part, and to undermine the importance and the meaning of
democracy and the right of the people to elect officials of their choice.[23]

Theoretically, the second placer could receive just one vote. In such a
case, it would be absurd to proclaim the totally repudiated candidate as the
voters choice. Moreover, there are instances in which the votes received by
the second placer may not be considered numerically insignificant. In such
situations, if the equation changes because of the disqualification of an
ineligible candidate, voters preferences would nonetheless be so volatile and
unpredictable that the results for qualified candidates would not be selfevident.[24] The absence of the apparent though ineligible winner among the
choices could lead to a shifting of votes to candidates other than the second
placer.[25] Where an ineligible candidate has garnered either a majority or a
plurality of the votes, by no mathematical formulation can the runnerup in the
election be construed to have obtained the majority or the plurality of votes
cast.[26]
We reiterate that this Court has no authority under any law to impose upon
and compel the people of Malinao, Albay, to accept Ceriola as their mayor.
[27]
The law on succession under Section 44 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise
known as the Local Government Code, would then apply. This provision
relevantly states:
SECTION 44. Permanent Vacancies in the Offices of the Governor, Vice-Governor,
Mayor, and Vice Mayor.
(a) If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the governor or mayor, the vicegovernor or vice-mayor concerned 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 ranking sanggunian member or, in case of his permanent
inability, the second highest ranking sanggunian member, shall become governor,
vice-governor, mayor or vice-mayor, as the case may be. Subsequent vacancies in the
said office shall be filled automatically by the other sanggunian members according to
their ranking as defined herein.
x x x x x x x x x.
For purposes of this Chapter, a permanent vacancy arises when an elective 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.

The language of the law is clear, explicit and unequivocal. Thus, it admits
no room for interpretation, but merely for application. [28] Accordingly, when Moll
was adjudged to be disqualified, a permanent vacancy was created for failure
of the elected mayor to qualify for the office.[29] In such eventuality, the duly
elected vice mayor shall succeed as provided by law.[30]
For violating the law and the clear jurisprudence on this matter, the
Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion.[31]
WHEREFORE, the Petition in GR No 157526 is PARTLY GRANTED, and
the
assailed
Resolution MODIFIED. Petitioner
Salvador
K.
Moll
is DECLARED ineligible for the position of municipal mayor of Malinao,
Albay. In view of the vacancy created in that office, Petitioner Emiliana Toral
Kare, the duly elected vice mayor, shall succeed as mayor, following the rule
on succession. The status quo order of this Court dated April 1, 2003, is made
permanent. Petitioner Kare shall continue discharging the duties and powers
of the mayor of Malinao, Albay. The Petition in GR 157527 is DISMISSED for
lack of merit.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

Cipriano v. Commission on ElectionsG.R. No. 158830, August 10,


2004AC!"#
On June 7, 2002, petitioner filed with the COMELEC her certificate
of candidacy as Chairman of the
Sangguniang Kabataan
(S! for the S elections held on July "#, 2002$ On the date of
the elections,July "#, 2002, the COMELEC issued a resolution
denyin% due course to or cancel the certificates of candidacy of
se&eral candidates for the S elections, includin% petitioner,
statin% that those affected werenot re%istered &oters in the

barangay
where they intended to run$ 'etitioner, nonetheless, was allowed
to&ote in the July "# S elections and her name was not deleted
from the official list of candidates$ fter thecan&assin% of &otes,
petitioner was proclaimed )y the
Barangay
*oard of Can&assers the duly elected SChairman of *aran%ay
+, 'asay City$
$""%E#
-hether or not the Commission on Elections (COMELEC!, on its
own, in the e.ercise of its power to enforce and administer
election laws, loo/ into the ualifications of a candidate and
cancel hiscertificate of candidacy on the %round that he lac/s the
ualifications prescri)ed )y law$
R%&$NG#
1he Commission may not, )y itself, without the proper proceedin
%s, deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy filed in
due form$ -hen a candidate files his certificate of candidacy,
theCOMELEC has a ministerial duty to recei&e and ac/nowled%e
its receipt$ 1his is pro&ided in Sec$ 7 of the Omni)us Election
Code$ -hile the Commission may loo/ into patent defects in the
certificates, it maynot %o into matters not appearin% on their
face$ 1he uestion of eli%i)ility or ineli%i)ility of a candidate
isthus )eyond the usual and proper co%ni3ance of said )ody$

[G.R. No. 155087. November 28, 2003]

EDUARDO T. SAYA-ANG, SR., and RICARDO T. LARA, petitioners,


vs. HON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, HONORABLE PIO JOSE
S. JOSON, HONORABLE JOSE P. BALBUENA, HONORABLE
LIRIO T. JOQUINO and MANTIL D. LIM, respondents.

DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:

Petitioners herein, Eduardo T. Saya-ang, Sr. and Ricardo T. Lara, were


candidates for the Office of Barangay Captain of Barangays Congan and New
Aklan respectively for the July 15, 2002 Synchronized Sangguniang Kabataan
(SK) and Barangay Elections. Petitioner Saya-ang filed his certificate of
candidacy in Barangay Congan on June 6, 2002. On the other hand, petitioner
Lara filed his own certificate of candidacy in Barangay New Aklan on June 8,
2002. On July 19, 2002, a letter-report was submitted by Acting Election
Officer Alim to the Law Department of the Comelec which stated that
petitioners herein are not residents of the barangays they wish to be elected
in. In turn, the Law Department of the Commission on Elections
(Comelec) submitted its study to the Comelec en banc on July 9,
2002 recommending the denial of due course to the certificates of candidacy
of petitioners. On the day of the elections or on July 15, 2002, the Comelec,
issued En Banc Resolution No. 5393, which essentially denied due course to
the certificates of candidacy of petitioners herein.
The pertinent portion of the assailed Resolution states:
Considering the foregoing, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES,
to approve the recommendation of the Law Department as follows:
1. To deny due course to the Certificates of Candidacy of Romeo P.
Sumayog, Sandigan Damie, James Ceasar I. Young, Eduardo T. Saya-ang,
Sr., and Ricardo L. Lara; and
2. To direct the Election Officer of Glan, Sarangani to delete their names
from the Certified List of Candidates for Barangay Kagawad and Punong
Barangay of Barangays E. Alegado, Baliton, Cross, Congan, and New
Aklan, respectively.
Without prejudice to the filing of criminal cases against them as the evidence so
warrants under the circumstances.
Let the Law Department implement this resolution.
SO ORDERED.

Despite the abovementioned Resolution, petitioners were still proclaimed


as winners on July 16, 2002, having garnered the most number of votes in
their respective barangays. On July 31, 2002, petitioners took their oath of
office before Alfredo L. Barcelona, Jr., the First Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
of Sarangani Province.
On August 9, 2002, Pio Jose S. Joson, Deputy Executive Director for
Operations of the Comelec, issued a Memorandum for all Regional Election
Directors, Provincial Election Supervisors and City/Municipal Election
Officers. This memorandum directed all election officers to delete the names
of those candidates whose certificates of candidacy were denied due course
despite the fact that said denial did not arrive on time. It also ordered the
candidates concerned to desist from taking their oaths and from assuming the
positions to which they have been elected, unless the Supreme Court issued
a temporary restraining order. Lastly, the said memorandum ordered the
Board of Canvassers to reconvene for the purpose of proclaiming the dulyelected candidates and correcting the certificates of canvass and
proclamation.
On August 10, 2002, the Comelec en banc promulgated Resolution No.
5584, entitled In the Matter of the Policy of the Commission on Proclaimed
Candidates Found to be Ineligible for Being Not Registered Voters in the
Place Where They Were Elected and on the Failure/ Omission of the Board of
Canvassers to Include Certain Election Returns in the Canvass.
[1]

On August 14, 2002, Acting Election Officer Alim, invoking and acting
pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 5393 and Resolution No. 5584, issued a
directive commanding petitioners to cease and desist from taking their oath of
office and from assuming the position to which they were elected. He also
directed the Barangay Board of Canvassers for Barangays Congan and New
Aklan to reconvene immediately and proclaim the duly-elected candidates and
to correct the certificates of canvass and proclamation.
Petitioners received the aforementioned directive on August 19,
2002. On August 21, 2002, the Comelec en banc promulgated Resolution No.
5666 amending its Resolution No. 5584 on the basis of the approved
recommendations of Commissioner Sadain. Pertinent portions of the
amended resolution state:
I.

ON PROCLAIMED CANDIDATES FOUND TO BE INELIGIBLE FOR BEING


NOT REGISTERED VOTERS IN THE PLACE WHERE THEY WERE ELECTED
xxx
(d) For both (a) and (b), in the event that the disqualified candidate is
proclaimed the winner despite his disqualification or despite the pending
disqualification case filed before his proclamation, but which is
subsequently resolved against him, the proclamation of said disqualified
candidate is hereby declared void from the beginning, with notice to the
candidate concerned, even if the dispositive portion of the resolution
disqualifying him or cancelling his certificate of candidacy does not
provide for such an annulment.
[2]

On September 4, 2002, Acting Election Officer Alim, using as his basis


Comelec en banc Resolution No. 5666 issued a memorandum directing the
Board of Canvassers of Barangay Congan, Glan, Sarangani Province to
reconvene at his office on September 13, 2002.
Hence, the instant petition anchored on the sole assignment of error:
THAT THE PROMULGATION OF THE EN BANC RESOLUTION NO. 5393,
DATED 15 JULY 2002, BY RESPONDENT HONORABLE COMMISSION ON
ELECTIONS IS PATENTLY ERRONEOUS BEING WITHOUT BASIS IN FACT
AND IN LAW AND THE ISSUANCE OF WHICH IS IN GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION AMOUNTING EVEN AS IT DOES TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
JURISDICTION.
[3]

At the very outset, it must be made clear that the Comelec has jurisdiction
to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. Such jurisdiction
continues even after the elections, if for any reason no final judgment of
disqualification is rendered before the elections, and the candidate facing
disqualification is voted for and receives the highest number of votes, and
provided further that the winning candidate has not been proclaimed or taken
his oath of office. Furthermore, a decision by the Comelec to disqualify a
candidate shall becomefinal and executory only after a period of five days:
[4]

[5]

Sec. 3. Decisions After Five Days.--- Decisions in pre-proclamation cases and


petitions to deny due course to or cancel certificates of candidacy, to declare a
candidate as nuisance candidate or to disqualify a candidate, and to postpone or

suspend elections shall become final and executory after the lapse of five (5) days
from their promulgation, unless restrained by the Supreme Court.
[6]

In the present case, the assailed Resolution denying due course to


petitioners certificates of candidacy was promulgated on June 15, 2002, or on
the very day of the elections. On that day, therefore, the decision of the
Comelec had not yet become final and executory since petitioners still had
until June 20, 2002 to file their motion for reconsideration. The Barangay
Board of Canvassers rightly retained petitioners names in the list of qualified
candidates and could not be faulted from counting the votes cast in favor of
the petitioners. Petitioners were, therefore, validly proclaimed as winners of
the elections on June 16, 2002, having garnered the most number of
votes. On the day of the elections or on June 15, 2002, petitioners, for all
intents and purposes, were still in the running. The Resolution of respondent
Comelec ordering their names to be deleted from the list of qualified
candidates only became final and executory on June 20, 2002, or five days
from the promulgation thereof.
Petitioners also maintain that they were never served a copy of the
assailed Resolution and were never given the chance to present their
evidence. They claim that they only knew about Resolution 5393 on August
19, 2002, when they were served a copy of the directive issued by Acting
Election Officer Alim ordering them to cease and desist from taking their oath
of office and from assuming the position to which they are elected. This
allegation was not disproved by respondent Comelec. Instead, it cites
Resolution No. 4801, which was published in the Manila Standard and Manila
Bulletin on May 25, 2002, wherein it was stated that the administrative inquiry
of the Comelec on the eligibility of candidates starts from the time they filed
their certificates of candidacy. The Comelec maintains, therefore, that by
virtue of the said resolution, all candidates are deemed to have constructive
notice of any administrative inquiry against them. Also, it asserts that by virtue
of its administrative powers, it may motu proprio deny or cancel, without any
kind of hearing whatsoever, the certificates of candidacy of those who are
found not to be registered voters in the place where they seek to run for public
office.
It is clear, however, that under Section 3, Rule 23 of the Comelec Rules of
Procedure, a petition to cancel a certificate of candidacy shall be heard
summarily after due notice. The same rules also provide that when the

proceedings are authorized to be summary, in lieu of oral testimonies, the


parties may, after due notice, be required to submit their position papers
together with affidavits, counter-affidavits and other documentary evidence;
and when there is a need for clarification of certain matters, at the discretion
of the Commission en banc or the Division, the parties may be allowed to
cross-examine the affiants.
[7]

The rules providing for the abovementioned summary hearing were


mandated to accord due process of law to candidates during elections. The
right to due process is a cardinal and primary right which must be respected in
all proceedings. It is the embodiment of the sporting idea of fair play, the
cornerstone of every democratic society. In any proceeding, the essence of
procedural due process is embodied in the basic requirement of notice and a
real opportunity to be heard. Respondent Comelecs argument that
petitioners have already been constructively notified of the inquiry against
them cannot be given merit. Petitioners herein were not even informed of the
administrative inquiry against them, nor were they called upon to adduce their
own evidence and to meet and refute the evidence against them. Petitioners
certainly cannot read the minds of those tasked to look into their certificates of
candidacy, nor did they have any way of knowing that a proceeding had
already been instituted against them and that they were entitled to present
evidence on their behalf.
[8]

[9]

[10]

Finally, the Court notes again that petitioners have already been
proclaimed as the winners in the elections. They have already taken their
oaths of office and are, at present, serving their constituents in their respective
barangays. In Lambonao v. Tero, the Court held that defects in the
certificates of candidacy should have been questioned on or before the
election and not after the will of the people has been expressed through the
ballots. It was further held in the said case that while provisions relating to
certificates of candidacy are mandatory in terms, it is an established rule of
interpretation as regards election laws, that mandatory provisions requiring
certain steps before elections will be construed as directory after the elections,
to give effect to the will of the electorate. The rationale for this principle was
explained in Lino Luna v. Rodriguez, where the Court said that these various
and numerous provisions were adopted to assist the voters in their
participation in the affairs of the government and not to defeat that
object. When voters have honestly cast their ballots, the same should not be
[11]

[12]

nullified simply because the officers tasked under the law to direct the
elections and guard the purity of the ballot did not do their duty.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. Resolution No. 5393 of
the respondent Commission on Elections en banc is SET ASIDE. No
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.