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EN BANC On March 2, 2009 the COMELEC transferred the Bulacan ballot boxes, including those involved in the
provincial election contest, to the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) in connection with the protest filed by
JOSELITO R. MENDOZA, Aquilino Pimentel III against Juan Miguel Zubiri. In light of this development, the petitioner moved to
suspend further proceedings. .
Petitioner,
The COMELECs Second Division denied the petitioners motion in its Order of April 29, 2009, ruling that
- versus - the COMELEC has plenary powers to find alternative methods to facilitate the resolution of the election
protest; thus, it concluded that it would continue the proceedings after proper coordination with the
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and ROBERTO M. PAGDANGANAN, SET. The petitioner moved to reconsider this Order, but the COMELECs Second Division denied the
motion in its Order of May 26, 2009. These inter-related Resolutions led to the COMELECs continued
Respondents.
action specifically, the appreciation of ballots on the provincial election contest at the SET offices.

G.R. No. 188308


Allegedly alarmed by information on COMELEC action on the provincial election contest within the SET
premises without notice to him and without his participation, the petitioners counsel wrote the SET
Promulgated:
Secretary, Atty. Irene Guevarra, a letter dated June 10, 2009 to confirm the veracity of the reported
October 15, 2009 conduct of proceedings.[2] The SET Secretary responded on June 17, 2009 as follows:

DECISION x x x please be informed that the conduct of proceedings in COMELEC EPC No. 2007-44 (Pagdanganan vs.
Mendoza) within the Tribunal Premises was authorized by then Acting Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice
BRION, J.: Antonio T. Carpio, upon formal request of the Office of Commissioner Lucenito N. Tagle.

The present case involves a clash between the power under the Philippine Constitution of the Basis of such grant is Section 3, Comelec Resolution No. 2812 dated 17 October 1995, stating that (t)he
respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in the handling of a provincial election contest, and the Tribunals, the Commission and the Courts shall coordinate and make arrangement with each other so as
claimed due process rights of a party to the contest. The petitioner Joselito R. Mendoza (the petitioner) not to delay or interrupt the revision of ballots being conducted. The synchronization of revision of
essentially asserts in his petition for certiorari[1] that the COMELEC conducted proceedings in the ballots shall be such that the expeditious disposition of the respective protest case shall be the primary
election contest for the gubernatorial position of the Province of Bulacan, between him and the concern. While the said provision speaks only of revision, it has been the practice of the Tribunal to allow
respondent Roberto M. Pagdanganan (the respondent), without due regard to his fundamental due the conduct of other proceedings in local election protest cases within its premises as may be requested.
process rights. The COMELEC, on the other hand, claims that its decision-making deliberations are
internal, confidential and do not require notice to and the participation of the contending parties. THE PETITION

THE ANTECEDENTS The SET Secretarys response triggered the filing of the present petition raising the following ISSUES

The petitioner and the respondent vied for the position of Governor of the Province of Bulacan in the A. WHETHER OR NOT THE COMELEC VIOLATED DUE PROCESS BY CONDUCTING PROCEEDINGS
May 14, 2007 elections. The petitioner was proclaimed winning candidate and assumed the office of WITHOUT GIVING DUE NOTICE TO THE PETITIONER.
Governor.
B. WHETHER OR NOT THE COMELEC GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO AN
The respondent seasonably filed an election protest with the COMELEC, which was raffled to the Second EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN APPRECIATING BALLOTS WHICH ARE NOT IN ITS OFFICIAL CUSTODY AND
Division and docketed as EPC No. 2007-44. Revision of ballots involving the protested and counter- ARE OUTSIDE ITS OWN PREMISES, AUTHORITY AND CONTROL.
protested precincts in Angat, Bocaue, Calumpit, Doa Remedios Trinidad, Guiginto, Malolos, Meycauayan,
The petitioner argues that the election protest involves his election as Governor; thus, its subject matter
Norzagaray, Pandi, Paombong, Plaridel, Pulilan, San Rafael and San Jose del Monte soon followed. The
involves him and the people of the Province of Bulacan who elected him. On this basis, he claims
revision was conducted at the COMELECs office in Intramuros. After revision, the parties presented their
entitlement to notice and participation in all matters that involve or are related to the election protest.
other evidence, leading to the parties formal offer of their respective evidence.
He further asserts that he had the legitimate expectation that no further proceedings would be held or
The COMELEC approved the parties formal offer of evidence and then required the parties to submit conducted in the case after its submission for decision.
their respective memoranda. The parties complied with the COMELECs order. The case was thereafter
submitted for resolution.
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Citing the commentaries of Father Joaquin Bernas,[4] the petitioner argues that the proceedings before THE RESPONDENTS COMMENTS
the COMELEC in election protests are judicial in nature and character. Thus, the strictures of judicial due
process specifically, (a) opportunity to be heard and (b) that judgment be rendered only after lawful In his Comment to the Petition with Extremely Urgent Motion to Lift/Dissolve Status Quo Ante Order, the
hearing apply. Notices in judicial dispute, he claims, are not really just a matter of courtesy; they are private respondent asserts that the petition contains deliberate falsehoods and misleading allegations
elementary fundamental element of due process, they are part and parcel of a right of a party to be that led the Court to grant the injunctive relief the petitioner had asked. He asserts that the proceeding
heard. He further cites Justice Isagani A. Cruz,[5] who wrote: the petitioner stated in his petition was actually the COMELECs decision-making process, i.e., the
appreciation of ballots, which is a procedure internal to the Members of the Second Division of the
x x x Every litigant is entitled to his day in court. He has a right to be notified of every incident of the COMELEC and their staff members; no revision of ballots took place as revision had long been finished.
proceeding and to be present at every stage thereof so that he may be heard by himself and counsel for What was therefore undertaken within the SETs premises was unilateral COMELEC action that is
the protection of his interest. exclusive to the COMELEC and an internal matter that is confidential in nature. In this light, no due
process violation ever arose.
The petitioner claims that without notice to him of the proceedings, the due process element of the right
to have judgment only after lawful hearing is absent. There is no way, he claims, that a judicial The private respondent also asserts that the petitioner cannot claim that he was not notified of and
proceeding held without notice to the parties could be described as a lawful hearing, especially a denied participation in the revision proceedings, as the petitioner himself is fully aware that the revision
proceeding which has as its subject matter the sovereign will of an entire province. of the ballots was completed as early as July 28, 2008 and the petitioner was present and actively
participated in the entire proceedings, all the way to the filing of the required memoranda. Thus, the
He was therefore denied his day in court, he claims, when the COMELEC conducted the examination and petitioners right to due process was duly satisfied.
appreciation of ballots. The proceedings should be stopped and declared null and void; its future results,
too, should be nullified, as nothing derived from the anomalous and unconstitutional clandestine and The private respondent implores us to commence contempt proceedings against the petitioner who, the
unilateral proceedings should ever be part of any decision that the COMELEC may subsequently render. respondent claims, has not been forthright in his submissions and was not guided by the highest
The poisonous fruits (derived from the proceedings) should have no part and should not be admitted for standards of truthfulness, fair play and nobility in his conduct as a party and in his relations with the
any purpose and/or in any judicial proceeding. opposing party, the other counsel and the Court.

Other than his due process concern, the petitioner takes issue with the COMELECs appreciation of Lastly, the private respondent posits that the present petition was filed out of time i.e., beyond the
ballots even when the ballots and other election materials were no longer in its official custody and were reglementary period provided under Rule 64. All these reasons, the private respondent argues,
outside its premises, authority and control. He asserts that an important element of due process is that constitute sufficient basis for the lifting of the status quo order and the dismissal of the petition.
the judicial body should have jurisdiction over the property that is the subject matter of the proceedings.
In this case, the COMELEC has transferred possession, custody and jurisdiction over the ballots to the Public respondent COMELEC, for its part, claims that the petition is without basis in fact and in law and
SET, a tribunal separate and independent from the COMELEC and over which the COMELEC exercises no ought to be dismissed outright. Given the possibility of simultaneous election contests involving national
authority or jurisdiction. For the COMELEC to still conduct proceedings on property, materials and and local officials, it has institutionalized an order of preference in the custody and revision of ballots in
evidence no longer in its custody violates the principle of separation of powers. contested ballot boxes. The established order of preference is not without exception, as the expeditious
disposition of protest cases is a primary concern. Additionally, the order of preference does not prevent
The petitioner also points out that the COMELECs unilateral appreciation of the ballots in the SET the COMELEC from proceeding with pending protest cases, particularly those already submitted for
premises deviates from the Commissions usual and time honored practice and procedure of conducting decision. It claims that it has wide latitude to employ means to effectively perform its duty in
proceedings within its premises and while it has custody over the ballots. There is no precedent, safeguarding the sanctity of the elections and the integrity of the ballot.
according to the petitioner, for this deviation, nor is there any compelling reason to make the present
case an exception. Citing Cabagnot v. Commission on Elections (G.R. No. 124383, August 9, 1996) which The COMELEC further argues that in the absence of a specific rule on whether it can conduct
involves a transfer or change of venue of the revision of ballots, the petitioner alleges that this Court has appreciation of ballots outside its premises or official custody, the issue boils down to one of discretion
been very emphatic in denouncing the COMELEC for its departure from its own rules and usual practice; the authority of the COMELEC to control as it deems fit the processes or incidents of a pending election
while Cabagnot involves the issue of change of venue, the petitioner finds parallel applicability in the protest. Under Section 4 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the COMELEC may use all auxiliary writs,
present case which also involves a deviation from COMELEC rules and usual practice. The petitioner adds processes and other means to carry into effect its powers or jurisdiction; if the procedure to be followed
that the act of the Second Division is effectively an arrogation of the authority to promulgate rules of in the exercise of such power or jurisdiction is not specifically provided for by law or the Rules of
procedure a power that solely belongs to the COMELEC en banc. Procedure, any suitable process or proceeding not prohibited by law or by its rules may be adopted.

After a preliminary finding of a genuine due process issue, we issued a Status Quo Order on July 14, The COMELEC lastly submits that while due process requires giving the parties an opportunity to
2009. intervene in all stages of the proceedings, the COMELEC in the present case is not actually conducting
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further proceedings requiring notice to the parties; there is no revision or correction of the ballots, as the In contrast with the above definitions, Section 2, Article IX(C) of the Constitution lists the COMELECs
election protest had already been submitted for resolution. When the COMELEC coordinated with the powers and functions, among others, as follows:
SET, it was simply for purposes of resolving the submitted provincial election contest before it; the
parties do not take part in this aspect of the case which necessarily requires utmost secrecy. On the (1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite,
whole, the petitioner was afforded every opportunity to present his case. To now hold the election initiative, referendum, and recall.
protest hostage until the conclusion of the protest pending before the SET defeats the COMELECs
mandate of ensuring free, orderly and honest election. (2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns and
qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all
THE COURTS RULING contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving
elective barangay officials by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
We review the present petition on the basis of the combined application of Rules 64 and 65 of the Rules
of Court. While COMELEC jurisdiction over the Bulacan election contest is not disputed, the legality of Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests involving elective municipal and
subsequent COMELEC action is assailed for having been undertaken with grave abuse of discretion barangay officials shall be final, executory, and not appealable.
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Thus, our standard of review is grave abuse of discretion, a
term that defies exact definition, but generally refers to capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as (3) Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections, including
is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an determination of the number and location of polling places, appointment of election officials and
evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in inspectors, and registration of voters.
contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of
passion and hostility.[6] Mere abuse of discretion is not enough; the abuse must be grave to merit our Under these terms, the COMELEC under our governmental structure is a constitutional administrative
positive action.[7] agency and its powers are essentially executive in nature (i.e., to enforce and administer election
laws),[11] quasi-judicial (to exercise original jurisdiction over election contests of regional, provincial and
After due consideration, we find the petition devoid of merit. city officials and appellate jurisdiction over election contests of other lower ranking officials), and quasi-
legislative (rulemaking on all questions affecting elections and the promulgation of its rules of
The petition is anchored on the alleged conduct of proceedings in the election protest following the procedure).
completed revision of ballots at the SET premises without notice to and without the participation of the
petitioner. Significantly, the conduct of proceedings is confirmed by the SET Secretary in the letter we Historically, the COMELEC has always been an administrative agency whose powers have been increased
quoted above.[8] As the issues raised show the petitioners focus is not really on the COMELEC Orders from the 1935 Constitution to the present one, to reflect the countrys awareness of the need to provide
denying the suspension of proceedings when the ballot boxes and other election materials pertinent to greater regulation and protection to our electoral processes to ensure their integrity. In the 1935
the election contest were transferred to the SET; the focus is on what the COMELEC did after to the Constitution, the powers and functions of the COMELEC were defined as follows:
issuance of the Resolutions. We read the petition in this context as these COMELEC Orders are now
unassailable as the period to challenge them has long passed.[9] SECTION 2. The Commission on Elections shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and
administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections and shall exercise all other functions which
The substantive issue we are primarily called upon to resolve is whether there were proceedings within may be conferred upon it by law. It shall decide, save those involving the right to vote, all administrative
the SET premises, entitling the petitioner to notice and participation, which were denied to him; in other questions affecting elections, including the determination of the number and location of polling places,
words, the issue is whether the petitioners right to due process has been violated. A finding of due and the appointment of election inspectors and of other election officials. All law enforcement agencies
process violation, because of the inherent arbitrariness it carries, necessarily amounts to grave abuse of and instrumentalities of the Government, when so required by the Commission, shall act as its deputies
discretion. for the purpose of insuring free, orderly, and honest election. The decisions, orders, and rulings of the
Commission shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court. [emphasis supplied]
As a preliminary matter, we note that the petitioner has claimed that COMELEC exercises judicial power
in its action over provincial election contests and has argued its due process position from this view. We These evolved into the following powers and functions under the 1973 Constitution:
take this opportunity to clarify that judicial power in our country is vested in one Supreme Court and in
such lower courts as may be established by law.[10] This exclusive grant of authority to the Judiciary is (1) Enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of elections.
reinforced under the second paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution which further states
(2) Be the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all members of
that Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights
the National Assembly and elective provincial and city officials.
which are legally demandable and enforceable.. ., thus constitutionally locating the situs of the exercise
of judicial power in the courts.
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(3) Decide, save those involving the right to vote, administrative questions affecting elections, including (5) The decision must be rendered on the evidence presented at the hearing, or at least contained in the
the determination of the number and location of polling places, the appointment of election officials and record and disclosed to the parties affected.
inspectors, and the registration of voters.
(6) The Court of Industrial Relations or any of its judges, therefore, must act on its or his own
These powers have been enhanced in scope and details under the 1987 Constitution, but retained all the independent consideration of the law and facts of the controversy, and not simply accept the views of a
while the character of an administrative agency. subordinate in arriving at a decision.

The COMELECs adjudicative function is quasi-judicial since it is a constitutional body, other than a court, (7) The Court of Industrial Relations should, in all controversial questions, render its decision in such a
vested with authority to decide election contests, and in the course of the exercise of its jurisdiction, to manner that the parties to the proceeding can know the various issues involved, and the reasons for the
hold hearings and exercise discretion of a judicial nature;[12] it receives evidence, ascertain the facts decisions rendered. The performance of this duty is inseparable from the authority conferred upon it.
from these submissions, determine the law and the legal rights of the parties, and on the basis of all
these decides on the merits of the case and renders judgment.[13] Despite the exercise of discretion that These are now commonly referred to as cardinal primary rights in administrative proceedings.
is essentially judicial in character, particularly with respect to election contests, COMELEC is not a
tribunal within the judicial branch of government and is not a court exercising judicial power in the The first of the enumerated rights pertain to the substantive rights of a party at hearing stage of the
constitutional sense;[14] hence, its adjudicative function, exercised as it is in the course of proceedings. The essence of this aspect of due process, we have consistently held, is simply the
administration and enforcement, is quasi-judicial. opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain ones side
or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.[17] A formal or trial-
As will be seen on close examination, the 1973 Constitution used the unique wording that the COMELEC type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential; in the case of COMELEC, Rule 17 of its Rules
shall be the sole judge of all contests, thus giving the appearance that judicial power had been conferred. of Procedure defines the requirements for a hearing and these serve as the standards in the
This phraseology, however, was changed in the 1987 Constitution to give the COMELEC exclusive determination of the presence or denial of due process.
jurisdiction over all contests, thus removing any vestige of exercising its adjudicatory power as a court
and correctly aligning it with what it is a quasi-judicial body.[15] Consistent with the characterization of The second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth aspects of the Ang Tibay requirements are reinforcements of
its adjudicatory power as quasi-judicial, the judicial review of COMELEC en banc decisions (together with the right to a hearing and are the inviolable rights applicable at the deliberative stage, as the decision-
the review of Civil Service Commission decisions) is via the prerogative writ of certiorari, not through an maker decides on the evidence presented during the hearing. These standards set forth the guiding
appeal, as the traditional mode of review of quasi-judicial decisions of administrative tribunals in the considerations in deliberating on the case and are the material and substantial components of decision-
exercise the Courts supervisory authority. This means that the Court will not supplant the decision of the making. Briefly, the tribunal must consider the totality of the evidence presented which must all be
COMELEC as a quasi-judicial body except where a grave abuse of discretion or any other jurisdictional found in the records of the case (i.e., those presented or submitted by the parties); the conclusion,
error exists. reached by the decision-maker himself and not by a subordinate, must be based on substantial
evidence.[18]
The appropriate due process standards that apply to the COMELEC, as an administrative or quasi-judicial
tribunal, are those outlined in the seminal case of Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations,[16] quoted Finally, the last requirement, relating to the form and substance of the decision of a quasi-judicial body,
below: further complements the hearing and decision-making due process rights and is similar in substance to
the constitutional requirement that a decision of a court must state distinctly the facts and the law upon
(1) The first of these rights is the right to a hearing, which includes the right of the party interested or which it is based.[19] As a component of the rule of fairness that underlies due process, this is the duty
affected to present his own case and submit evidence in support thereof. xxx to give reason to enable the affected person to understand how the rule of fairness has been
administered in his case, to expose the reason to public scrutiny and criticism, and to ensure that the
(2) Not only must the party be given an opportunity to present his case and to adduce evidence tending decision will be thought through by the decision-maker.
to establish the rights which he asserts but the tribunal must consider the evidence presented.
In the present case, the petitioner invokes both the due process component rights at the hearing and
(3) While the duty to deliberate does not impose the obligation to decide right, it does imply a necessity deliberative stages and alleges that these component rights have all been violated. We discuss all these
which cannot be disregarded, namely, that of having something to support its decision. A decision with allegations below.
absolutely nothing to support it is a nullity, a place when directly attached.
The Right to Notice and to be Heard.
(4) Not only must there be some evidence to support a finding or conclusion, but the evidence must be
"substantial. "Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a a. At the Hearing and Revision of Ballots.
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."
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Based on the pleadings filed, we see no factual and legal basis for the petitioner to complain of denial of No. 2007-04 was already submitted for resolution. Public respondent, in coordinating with the SET, is
his hearing stage rights. In the first place, he does not dispute that he fully participated in the simply resolving the submitted protest case before it. The parties necessarily take no part in said
proceedings of the election protest until the case was deemed submitted for resolution; he had deliberation, which require utmost secrecy. Needless to state, the actual decision-making process is
representation at the revision of the ballots, duly presented his evidence, and summed up his case supposed to be conducted only by the designated members of the Second Division of the public
through a memorandum. These various phases of the proceedings constitute the hearing proper of the respondent in strict confidentiality.
election contest and the COMELEC has more than satisfied the opportunity to be heard that the Ang
Tibay hearing stage rights require. In these proceedings, the petitioner stood head-to-head with the In other words, what took place at the SET were the internal deliberations of the COMELEC, as a quasi-
respondent in an adversarial contest where both sides were given their respective rights to speak, make judicial body, in the course of appreciating the evidence presented and deciding the provincial election
their presentations, and controvert each others submission, subject only to established COMELEC rules contest on the merits. These deliberations are no different from judicial deliberations which are
of procedures. Under these undisputed facts, both parties had their day in court, so to speak, and considered confidential and privileged.[23] We find it significant that the private respondents Comment
neither one can complain of any denial of notice or of the right to be heard. fully supported the COMELECs position and disavowed any participation in the contested proceeding the
petitioner complained about. The petitioner, on the other hand, has not shown that the private
b. At the Proceedings at the SET. respondent was ever present in any proceeding at the SET relating to the provincial election contest.

A critical question to be answered in passing upon due process questions at this stage of the election To conclude, the rights to notice and to be heard are not material considerations in the COMELECs
contest is the nature of the so-called proceedings after the ballots and other materials pertinent to the handling of the Bulacan provincial election contest after the transfer of the ballot boxes to the SET; no
provincial election contest were transferred to the SET. proceedings at the instance of one party or of COMELEC has been conducted at the SET that would
require notice and hearing because of the possibility of prejudice to the other party. The COMELEC is
In the petition, the petitioner alleged that there were strange proceedings[20] which were unilateral, under no legal obligation to notify either party of the steps it is taking in the course of deliberating on
clandestine and surreptitious within the premises of the SET, on documents, ballots and election the merits of the provincial election contest. In the context of our standard of review for the petition, we
materials whose possession and custody have been transferred to the SET, and the petitioner was NEVER see no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction committed by the COMELEC
OFFICIALLY NOTIFIED of the strange on-goings at the SET.[21] Attached to the petition was the letter of in its deliberation on the Bulacan election contest and the appreciation of ballots this deliberation
the Secretary of the SET confirming the conduct of proceedings in the provincial election contest, and entailed.
citing as basis the authority of Acting SET Chairman, Justice Antonio T. Carpio, upon the formal request
of the Office of Commissioner Lucenito N. Tagle, and citing Section 3, COMELEC Resolution No. 2812 Alleged Violations of
dated 17 October 1995 on the coordination envisioned among the COMELEC, the SET and the courts so
as not to delay or interrupt the revision of ballots being conducted. While the SET letter made the Deliberation Stage Rights.
reservation that While the said provision speaks only of revision, it has been the practice of the Tribunal
to allow the conduct of other proceedings in local election protest cases within its premises as may be On the basis of the above conclusion, we see no point in discussing any alleged violation of the
requested, no mention whatsoever was made of the kind of proceedings taking place. deliberative stage rights. First, no illegal proceeding ever took place that would bear the poisonous fruits
that the petitioner fears. Secondly, in the absence of the results of the COMELEC deliberations through
It was at this point that this Court intervened, in response to the petitioners prayer for the issuance of its decision on the election protest, no basis exists to apply the Ang Tibay deliberative stage rights; there
temporary injunctive relief, through the issuance of a Status Quo Order with a non-extendible directive is nothing for us to test under the standards of the due process deliberative stages rights before the
for the respondents to file their comments on the petition; for indeed, any further revision of ballots or COMELEC renders its decision. Expressed in terms of our standard of review, we have as yet no basis to
other adversarial proceedings after the case has been submitted for resolution, would not only be determine the existence of any grave abuse of discretion.
strange and unusual but would indicate a gross violation of due process rights.
Conduct of COMELEC
After consideration of the respondents Comments and the petitioners petition and Reply, we hold that
the contested proceedings at the SET (contested proceedings) are no longer part of the adversarial Deliberations at the SET Premises
aspects of the election contest that would require notice of hearing and the participation of the parties.
As the COMELEC stated in its Comment and without any contrary or disputing claim in the petitioners We turn to the issue of the propriety of the COMELECs consideration of the provincial election contest
Reply:[22] (specifically its appreciation of the contested ballots) at the SET premises and while the same ballots are
also under consideration by the SET for another election contest legitimately within the SETs own
However, contrary to the claim of petitioner, public respondent in the appreciation of the contested jurisdiction.
ballots in EPC No. 2007-44 simultaneously with the SET in SET Case No. 001-07 is not conducting further
proceedings requiring notice to the parties. There is no revision or correction of the ballots because EPC
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We state at the outset that the COMELEC did not lose jurisdiction over the provincial election contest, as temporarily located at the SET premises. This arrangement, too, together with the side by side and non-
the petitioner seems to imply, because of the transmittal of the provincial ballot boxes and other conflicting existence of the COMELEC and SET jurisdictions, negate the validity of the petitioners
election materials to the SET. The Constitution conferred upon the COMELEC jurisdiction over election argument that the COMELEC transgressed the rule on separation of powers when it acted on the Bulacan
protests involving provincial officials. The COMELEC in this case has lawfully acquired jurisdiction over provincial election contest while the ballot boxes were at the SET premises. Rather than negate, this
the subject matter, i.e., the provincial election contest, as well as over the parties. After its jurisdiction arrangement reinforced the separate but co-existing nature of these tribunals respective jurisdictions.
attached, this jurisdiction cannot be ousted by subsequent events such as the temporary transfer of
evidence and material records of the proceedings to another tribunal exercising its own jurisdiction over As the petitioner argues and the COMELEC candidly admits, there is no specific rule which allows the
another election contest pursuant to the Constitution. This is the rule of adherence of jurisdiction.[24] COMELEC to conduct an appreciation of ballots outside its premises and of those which are outside its
own custody.[27] But while this is true, there is likewise nothing to prohibit the COMELEC from
Thus, the jurisdiction of the COMELEC over provincial election contest exists side by side with the undertaking the appreciation of ballot side by side with the SETs own revision of ballots for the
jurisdiction of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, with each tribunal being supreme in their respective areas of senatorial votes, in light especially of the COMELECs general authority to adopt means to effect its
concern (the Senate election contests for the SET, and the regional, provincial and city election contests powers and jurisdiction under its Rules of Procedure. Section 4 of these Rules states:
for the COMELEC), and with neither one being higher than the other in terms of precedence so that the
jurisdiction of one must yield to the other. Sec. 4. Means to Effect Jurisdiction. - All auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary to carry
into effect its powers or jurisdiction may be employed by the Commission; and if the procedure to be
But while no precedence in jurisdiction exists, the COMELEC, vowing to the reality that only a single followed in the exercise of such power or jurisdiction is not specifically provided for by law or these
ballot exists in an election for national and local officials, saw it fit to lay down the rule on the order of rules, any suitable process or proceeding may be adopted.
preference in the custody and revision of ballots and other documents contained in the ballot boxes. The
order, in terms of the adjudicatory tribunal and as provided in COMELEC Resolution No. 2812, runs: This rule is by no means unusual and unique to the COMELEC as the courts have the benefit of this same
type of rule under Section 6, Rule 136 of the Rules of Court. The courts own rule provides:
1. Presidential Electoral Tribunal;
Means to Carry Jurisdiction into Effect. When by law jurisdiction is conferred o n a court or judicial
2. Senate Electoral Tribunal; officer, all auxiliary writs, writs, processes and other means necessary to carry it into effect may be
employed by such court or officer; and if the procedure to be followed in the exercise of such jurisdiction
3. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal; is not specifically pointed out by law or by these rules, any suitable process or mode of proceeding may
be adopted which appears conformable to the spirit of said law or rules.
4. Commission on Elections; and
Incidentally, the COMELEC authority to promulgate the above rule enjoys constitutional moorings; in the
5. Regional Trial Courts. grant to the COMELEC of its jurisdiction, the Constitution provided it with the accompanying authority to
promulgate its own rules concerning pleadings and practice before it or before any of its offices,
This order of preference dictated that the ballot boxes and other election materials in Bulacans provided that these rules shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive rights.[28] The Constitution
provincial election contest, had to be transferred to the SET when the latter needed these materials for additionally requires that the rules of procedure that the COMELEC will promulgate must expedite the
its revision of ballots. The transfer to the SET, however, did not mean that the Bulacan provincial election disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies.[29] This constitutional standard
contest at that time already submitted for decision had to be suspended as the COMELEC held in its is authority, no less, that the COMELEC can cite in defending its action. For ultimately, the appreciation
Orders of 29 April 2009 and 26 May 2009 in EPC No. 2007-44.[25] This is particularly true in Bulacans of the Bulacan ballots that the COMELEC undertook side by side with the SETs own revision of ballots,
case as no revision had to be undertaken, the revision having been already terminated. constitutes an exercise of discretion made under the authority of the above-cited COMELEC rule of
procedure.
With the COMELEC retaining its jurisdiction over the Bulacan provincial election contest, the legal effect
of the physical transfer of the ballots and other election materials to the SET for purposes of its own On the basis of the standards set by Section 4 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, and of the
revision becomes a non-issue, given the arrangement between the COMELEC and the SET, pursuant to Constitution itself in the handling of election cases, we rule that the COMELEC action is a valid exercise of
COMELEC Resolution No. 2812, to coordinate and make arrangements with each other so as not to delay discretion as it is a suitable and reasonable process within the exercise of its jurisdiction over provincial
or interrupt the revision of ballots being conducted, all for the purpose of the expeditious disposition of election contests, aimed at expediting the disposition of this case, and with no adverse, prejudicial or
their respective protest cases. The SET itself honored this arrangement as shown by the letter of the SET discriminatory effects on the parties to the contest that would render the rule unreasonable.
Secretary that the COMELEC could conduct proceedings within the Tribunal premises as authorized by
the Acting Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Antonio T. Carpio.[26] This arrangement recognized the
COMELECs effective authority over the Bulacan ballots and other election materials, although these were
7

Since the COMELEC action, taken by its Second Division, is authorized under the COMELEC Rules of legislative (rulemaking on all questions affecting elections and the promulgation of its rules of
Procedure, the Second Division cannot in any sense be said to be intruding into the COMELEC en banc procedure).
rule-making prerogative when the Second Division chose to undertake ballot appreciation within the SET
premises side by side with the SET revision of ballots. To be exact, the Second Division never laid down
any new rule; it merely acted pursuant to a rule that the COMELEC en banc itself had previously enacted.

In light of these conclusions, we need not discuss the other issues raised.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DISMISS the petition for certiorari for lack of merit. We
accordingly LIFT the STATUS QUO ORDER we issued, effective immediately.

SO ORDERED.

Admin Law, Comelec, quasi-judicial power)

Facts:

Petitioner Mendoza asserts that the COMELEC, exercising judicial power, conducted proceedings in the
election contest within SET premises for the gubernatorial position of the Province of Bulacan, between
him and the respondent Pagdanganan, without due regard to his fundamental due process rights of
notice and participation.

The COMELEC, claims that its decision-making deliberations are internal, confidential and do not require
notice to and the participation of the contending parties.

Issue: Whether or not COMELEC has judicial power.

Held:

No. Judicial power in our country is vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be
established by law.

The COMELECs adjudicative function is quasi-judicial since it is a constitutional body, other than a court,
vested with authority to decide election contests, and in the course of the exercise of its jurisdiction, to
hold hearings and exercise discretion of a judicial nature; it receives evidence, ascertain the facts from
these submissions, determine the law and the legal rights of the parties, and on the basis of all these
decides on the merits of the case and renders judgment. Despite the exercise of discretion that is
essentially judicial in character, particularly with respect to election contests, COMELEC is not a tribunal
within the judicial branch of government and is not a court exercising judicial power in the constitutional
sense; hence, its adjudicative function, exercised as it is in the course of administration and
enforcement, is quasi-judicial.

Under these terms, the COMELEC under our governmental structure is a constitutional administrative
agency and its powers are essentially executive in nature (i.e., to enforce and administer election laws),
quasi-judicial (to exercise original jurisdiction over election contests of regional, provincial and city
officials and appellate jurisdiction over election contests of other lower ranking officials), and quasi-
8

EN BANC 1. Protestant paid the cash deposit amounting to one hundred thousand pesos (₱100,000.00) on
June 3, 2010 as evidenced by O.R. No. 1118105; and
2. Paragraph nos. 9 to 28 of the initiatory petition filed by the Protestant set forth the specific
G.R. No. 194139 January 24, 2012
details of the acts and omissions complained of against the Protestee.

DOUGLAS R. CAGAS, Petitioner,


It is therefore concluded that the payment by the Protestant on June 3, 2010 is a substantial compliance
vs.
with the requirement of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, taking into consideration Section 9(e), Rule 6 of
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, AND CLAUDE P. BAUTISTA, Respondents.
said Resolution. Furthermore, the Protestant has likewise essentially complied with Section 7(g), Rule 6
of the above-mentioned Resolution.
DECISION
In view of the foregoing, this Commission (First Division) RESOLVES to DENY the Protestee’s special
BERSAMIN, J.: affirmative defenses.

A party aggrieved by an interlocutory order issued by a Division of the Commission on Elections SO ORDERED.8
(COMELEC) in an election protest may not directly assail the order in this Court through a special civil
action for certiorari. The remedy is to seek the review of the interlocutory order during the appeal of the
The petitioner moved to reconsider on the ground that the order did not discuss whether the protest
decision of the Division in due course.
specified the alleged irregularities in the conduct of the elections, in violation of Section 2, paragraph
2,9 Rule 19 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804,10 requiring all decisions to clearly and distinctly express the
For resolution is the petition for certiorari brought under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court, assailing the facts and the law on which they were based; and that it also contravened Section 7(g), 11 Rule 6 of
order dated August 13, 2010 (denying the affirmative defenses raised by the petitioner),1 and the order COMELEC Resolution No. 8804 requiring a detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of.
dated October 7, 2010 (denying his motion for reconsideration),2 both issued by the COMELEC First He prayed that the matter be certified to the COMELEC en banc pursuant to Section 1,12 Section 5,13 and
Division in EPC No. 2010-42, an election protest entitled Claude P. Bautista, protestant v. Douglas R. Section 6,14 all of Rule 20 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804.
Cagas, protestee.3
The petitioner insisted that COMELEC Resolution No. 8804 had introduced the requirement for the
Antecedents "detailed specification" to prevent "shotgun fishing expeditions by losing candidates;"15 that such
requirement contrasted with Rule 6, Section 1 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure,16 under which
The petitioner and respondent Claude P. Bautista (Bautista) contested the position of Governor of the the protest needed only to contain a "concise statement of the ultimate facts" constituting the cause or
Province of Davao del Sur in the May 10, 2010 automated national and local elections. The fast causes of action; that Bautista’s protest did not meet the new requirement under COMELEC Resolution
transmission of the results led to the completion by May 14, 2010 of the canvassing of votes cast for No. 8804; and that in Peña v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal,17 the Court upheld the
Governor of Davao del Sur, and the petitioner was proclaimed the winner (with 163,440 votes), with dismissal of a protest by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) for not specifically
Bautista garnering 159,527 votes.4 alleging the electoral anomalies and irregularities in the May 8, 1995 elections.

Alleging fraud, anomalies, irregularities, vote-buying and violations of election laws, rules and In his opposition,18 Bautista countered that the assailed orders, being merely interlocutory, could not be
resolutions, Bautista filed an electoral protest on May 24, 2010 (EPC No. 2010-42).5 The protest was elevated to the COMELEC en banc pursuant to the ruling in Panlilio v. COMELEC;19 that the rules of the
raffled to the COMELEC First Division. COMELEC required the initiatory petition to specify the acts or omissions constituting the electoral
frauds, anomalies and election irregularities, and to contain the ultimate facts upon which the cause of
action was based; and that Peña v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal did not apply because,
In his answer submitted on June 22, 2010,6 the petitioner averred as his special affirmative defenses that firstly, Peña had totally different factual antecedents than this case, and, secondly, the omission of
Bautista did not make the requisite cash deposit on time; and that Bautista did not render a detailed material facts from Peña’s protest prevented the protestee (Alfredo E. Abueg, Jr.) from being apprised of
specification of the acts or omissions complained of. the issues that he must meet and made it eventually impossible for the HRET to determine which ballot
boxes had to be collected.
On August 13, 2010, the COMELEC First Division issued the first assailed order denying the special
affirmative defenses of the petitioner, 7 viz: On October 7, 2010, the COMELEC First Division issued its second assailed order,20 denying the
petitioner’s motion for reconsideration for failing to show that the first order was contrary to law, to wit:
After careful examination of the records of the case, this Commission (First Division) makes the following
observation: The Protestee’s August 28, 2010 "Motion for Reconsideration with Prayer to Certify the Case to the
Commission En Banc" relative to the Order issued by the Commission (First Division) dated August 13,
2010 is hereby DENIED for failure to show that the assailed order is contrary to law
9

Without going into the merits of the protest, the allegations in the protestant’s petition have As we see it, the decisive issue is whether the Court can take cognizance of the petition for certiorari.
substantially complied with the requirements of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804 that will warrant the
opening of the ballot boxes in order to resolve not only the issues raised in the protest but also those
Ruling
set forth in the Protestee’s answer. When substantial compliance with the rules is satisfied, allowing
the protest to proceed is the best way of removing any doubt or uncertainty as to the true will of the
electorate. All other issues laid down in the parties’ pleadings, including those in the Protestee’s We dismiss the petition for lack of merit.
special and affirmative defenses and those expressed in the preliminary conference brief, will best be
threshed out in the final resolution of the instant case. The governing provision is Section 7, Article IX of the 1987 Constitution, which provides:

The prayer to elevate the instant Motion for Reconsideration to the Commission En Banc is DENIED Section 7. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its Members any case or matter brought
considering that the 13 August 2010 Order is merely interlocutory and it does not dispose of the before it within sixty days from the date of its submission for decision or resolution. A case or matter is
instant case with finality, in accordance with Section 5(c), Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum
required by the rules of the Commission or by the Commission itself. Unless otherwise provided by this
SO ORDERED. Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each Commission may be brought to the Supreme
Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof.
Not satisfied, the petitioner commenced this special civil action directly in this Court.
This provision, although it confers on the Court the power to review any decision, order or ruling of the
COMELEC, limits such power to a final decision or resolution of the COMELEC en banc, and does not
Issue
extend to an interlocutory order issued by a Division of the COMELEC. Otherwise stated, the Court has
no power to review on certiorari an interlocutory order or even a final resolution issued by a Division of
The petitioner submits that:— the COMELEC. The following cogent observations made in Ambil v. Commission on Elections24 are
enlightening, viz:
THE RESPONDENT COMELEC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR
EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN REFUSING TO DISMISS THE PROTEST FOR INSUFFICIENCY IN FORM AND To begin with, the power of the Supreme Court to review decisions of the Comelec is prescribed in the
CONTENT. Constitution, as follows:

The petitioner argues that Section 9,21 Rule 6 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804 obliged the COMELEC "Section 7. Each commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its members any case or matter
First Division to summarily dismiss the protest for being insufficient in form and content; and that the brought before it within sixty days from the date of its submission for decision or resolution. A case or
insufficiency in substance arose from the failure of the protest to: (a) specifically state how the various matter is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or
irregularities and anomalies had affected the results of the elections; (b) indicate in which of the memorandum required by the rules of the commission or by the commission itself. Unless otherwise
protested precincts were "pre-shaded bogus-ballots" used; (c) identify the precincts where the PCOS provided by this constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each commission may be brought
machines had failed to accurately account for the votes in favor of Bautista; and (d) allege with to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy
particularity how many additional votes Bautista stood to receive for each of the grounds he protested. thereof." [emphasis supplied]
He concludes that the COMELEC First Division gravely abused its discretion in allowing the protest of
Bautista despite its insufficiency.
"We have interpreted this provision to mean final orders, rulings and decisions of the COMELEC
rendered in the exercise of its adjudicatory or quasi-judicial powers." This decision must be a final
Moreover, the petitioner urges that the protest be considered as a mere fishing expedition to be decision or resolution of the Comelec en banc, not of a division, certainly not an interlocutory order of
outrightly dismissed in light of the elections being held under an automated system. In support of his a division. The Supreme Court has no power to review via certiorari, an interlocutory order or even a
urging, he cites Roque, Jr. v. Commission on Elections,22 where the Court took judicial notice of the final resolution of a Division of the Commission on Elections.
accuracy and reliability of the PCOS machines and CCS computers, such that allegations of massive errors
in the automated counting and canvassing had become insufficient as basis for the COMELEC to
The mode by which a decision, order or ruling of the Comelec en banc may be elevated to the Supreme
entertain or to give due course to defective election protests.23 He submits that a protest like Bautista’s
Court is by the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1964 Revised Rules of Court, now
cast doubt on the automated elections.
expressly provided in Rule 64, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.

On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and Bautista both posit that the COMELEC
Rule 65, Section 1, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, requires that there be no appeal, or any
had the power and prerogative to determine the sufficiency of the allegations of an election protest; and
plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. A motion for reconsideration is a
that certiorari did not lie because the COMELEC First Division acted within its discretion. Additionally, the
plain and adequate remedy provided by law. Failure to abide by this procedural requirement constitutes
OSG maintains that the assailed orders, being interlocutory, are not the proper subjects of a petition
a ground for dismissal of the petition.
for certiorari.
10

In like manner, a decision, order or resolution of a division of the Comelec must be reviewed by the In the instant case, it does not appear that the subject controversy is one of the cases specifically
Comelec en banc via a motion for reconsideration before the final en banc decision may be brought to provided under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure in which the Commission may sit en banc. Neither is
the Supreme Court on certiorari. The pre-requisite filing of a motion for reconsideration is it shown that the present controversy a case where a division is not authorized to act nor a situation
mandatory.xxx25 wherein the members of the First Division unanimously voted to refer the subject case to the
Commission en banc. Clearly, the Commission en banc, under the circumstances shown above, can not
be the proper forum which the matter concerning the assailed interlocutory orders can be referred to.
There is no question, therefore, that the Court has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition
for certiorariassailing the denial by the COMELEC First Division of the special affirmative defenses of the
petitioner. The proper remedy is for the petitioner to wait for the COMELEC First Division to first decide In a situation such as this where the Commission in division committed grave abuse of discretion or
the protest on its merits, and if the result should aggrieve him, to appeal the denial of his special acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in issuing interlocutory orders relative to an action pending
affirmative defenses to the COMELEC en banc along with the other errors committed by the Division before it and the controversy did not fall under any of the instances mentioned in Section 2, Rule 3 of
upon the merits. the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the remedy of the aggrieved party is not to refer the controversy to
the Commission en banc as this is not permissible under its present rules but to elevate it to this
Court via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. (Bold emphasis supplied)
It is true that there may be an exception to the general rule, as the Court conceded in Kho v. Commission
on Elections.26 In that case, the protestant assailed the order of the COMELEC First Division admitting
an answer with counter-protest belatedly filed in an election protest by filing a petition Under the exception, therefore, the Court may take cognizance of a petition for certiorari under Rule 64
for certiorari directly in this Court on the ground that the order constituted grave abuse of discretion on to review an interlocutory order issued by a Division of the COMELEC on the ground of the issuance
the part of the COMELEC First Division. The Court granted the petition and nullified the assailed order for being made without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting
being issued without jurisdiction, and explained the exception thuswise: to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it does not appear to be specifically provided under the
COMELEC Rules of Procedure that the matter is one that the COMELEC en banc may sit and consider, or a
Division is not authorized to act, or the members of the Division unanimously vote to refer to the
As to the issue of whether or not the case should be referred to the COMELEC en banc, this Court finds
COMELEC en banc. Of necessity, the aggrieved party can directly resort to the Court because the
the respondent COMELEC First Division correct when it held in its order dated February 28, 1996 that
COMELEC en banc is not the proper forum in which the matter concerning the assailed interlocutory
no final decision, resolution or order has yet been made which will necessitate the elevation of the
order can be reviewed.
case and its records to the Commission en banc. No less than the Constitution requires that election
cases must be heard and decided first in division and any motion for reconsideration of decisions shall be
decided by the Commission en banc. Apparently, the orders dated July 26, 1995, November 15, 1995 and However, the Kho v. Commission on Elections exception has no application herein, because the COMELEC
February 28, 1996 and the other orders relating to the admission of the answer with counter-protest are First Division had the competence to determine the lack of detailed specifications of the acts or
issuances of a Commission in division and are all interlocutory orders because they merely rule upon an omissions complained of as required by Rule 6, Section 7 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, and whether
incidental issue regarding the admission of Espinosa's answer with counter-protest and do not terminate such lack called for the outright dismissal of the protest. For sure, the 1987 Constitution vested in the
or finally dispose of the case as they leave something to be done before it is finally decided on the COMELEC broad powers involving not only the enforcement and administration of all laws and
merits. In such a situation, the rule is clear that the authority to resolve incidental matters of a case regulations relative to the conduct of elections but also the resolution and determination of election
pending in a division, like the questioned interlocutory orders, falls on the division itself, and not on the controversies.27 The breadth of such powers encompasses the authority to determine the sufficiency of
Commission en banc. Section 5 (c), Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure explicitly provides for this, allegations contained in every election protest and to decide based on such allegations whether to admit
the protest and proceed with the hearing or to outrightly dismiss the protest in accordance with Section
9, Rule 6 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804.
Sec. 5. Quorum; Votes Required xxx

The Court has upheld the COMELEC’s determination of the sufficiency of allegations contained in
(c) Any motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division shall be resolved by the
election protests, conformably with its imperative duty to ascertain in an election protest, by all means
Commission en banc except motions on interlocutory orders of the division which shall be resolved by
within its command, who was the candidate elected by the electorate.28 Indeed, in Panlilio v. Commission
the division which issued the order. (emphasis provided)
on Elections,29 we brushed aside the contention that the election protest was insufficient in form and
substance and was a sham for having allegations couched in general terms, stating:
Furthermore, a look at Section 2, Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure confirms that the subject
case does not fall on any of the instances over which the Commission en banc can take cognizance of. It
In Miguel v. COMELEC, the Court belittled the petitioner’s argument that the protestant had no cause of
reads as follows:
action, as the allegations of fraud and irregularities, which were couched in general terms, were not
sufficient to order the opening of ballot boxes and counting of ballots. The Court states the rules in
Section 2. The Commission en banc. — The Commission shall sit en banc in cases hereinafter specifically election protests cognizable by the COMELEC and courts of general jurisdiction, as follows:
provided, or in pre-proclamation cases upon a vote of a majority of the members of a Commission, or in
all other cases where a division is not authorized to act, or where, upon a unanimous vote of all the
The rule in this jurisdiction is clear and jurisprudence is even clearer. In a string of categorical
members of a Division, an interlocutory matter or issue relative to an action or proceeding before it is
pronouncements, we have consistently ruled that when there is an allegation in an election protest that
decided to be referred to the Commission en banc.
would require the perusal, examination or counting of ballots as evidence, it is the ministerial duty of the
11

trial court to order the opening of the ballot boxes and the examination and counting of ballots ACCORDINGLY, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
deposited therein.
SO ORDERED.
In a kindred case, Homer Saquilayan v. COMELEC, the Court considered the allegations in an election
protest, similar to those in this case, as sufficient in form and substance.
DOUGLAS R. CAGAS v. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and CLAUDE P. BAUTISTA G.R. No. 194139, 24
January 2012, EN BANC (BERSAMIN, J.)
Again, in Dayo v. COMELEC, the Court declared that allegations of fraud and irregularities are sufficient
grounds for opening the ballot boxes and examining the questioned ballots. The pronouncement is in A party aggrieved by an interlocutory order issued by a COMELEC Division in an election protest may not
accordance with Section 255 of the Omnibus Election Code, which reads:
directly assail the order before the Supreme Court through a special civil action for certiorari. The
remedy is to seek the review of said interlocutory order during the appeal of the decision of the Division.
Judicial counting of votes in election contest. – Where allegations in a protest or counter-protest so Petitioner Douglas R. Cagas was proclaimed the winner for the gubernatorial race for the province of
warrant, or whenever in the opinion of the court in the interests of justice so require, it shall
Davao del Sur. Respondent Claude P. Bautista, his rival, filed an electoral protest alleging fraud,
immediately order the book of voters, ballot boxes and their keys, ballots and other documents used in
the election be brought before it and that the ballots be examined and the votes recounted.lawphi1 anomalies, irregularities, vote-buying and violations of election laws, rules and resolutions. The protest
was raffled to the COMELEC First Division. In his affirmative defense, Cagas argued that Bautista did not
make the requisite cash deposit on time and that Bautista did not render a detailed specification of the
In this case, the COMELEC Second Division found that the allegations in the protest and counter-protest
warranted the opening of the contested ballot boxes and the examination of their contents to settle at acts or omissions complained of. The COMELEC First Division denied the special affirmative defences.
once the conflicting claims of petitioner and private respondent. Thus, Cagas prayed that the matter be certified to the COMELEC En Banc. Bautista countered that the
assailed orders, being merely interlocutory, could not be elevated to the COMELEC En Banc. The
The petitioner adds that with the Court having noted the reliability and accuracy of the PCOS machines COMELEC First Division issued an order denying Cagas’ motion for reconsideration, prompting him to file
and consolidation/canvassing system (CCS) computers in Roque, Jr. v. Commission on a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court.
Elections,30 Bautista’s election protest assailing the system and procedure of counting and canvassing of
votes cast in an automated system of elections should be immediately dismissed. ISSUE: Whether or not the Supreme Court has the power to review on certiorari an interlocutory order
issued by a Division of the COMELEC
We are not persuaded.
HELD:
Roque, Jr. v. Commission on Elections does not preclude the filing of an election protest to challenge the
outcome of an election undertaken in an automated system of elections. Instead, the Court only ruled Petition DENIED. Although Section 7, Article IX of the 1987 Constitution confers on the Court the power
there that the system and procedure implemented by the COMELEC in evaluating the PCOS machines to review any decision, order or ruling of the COMELEC, it limits such power to a final decision or
and CCS computers met the minimum system requirements prescribed in Section 7 of Republic Act No. resolution of the COMELEC en banc, and does not extend to an interlocutory order issued by a Division of
8436.31 The Court did not guarantee the efficiency and integrity of the automated system of elections, as the COMELEC. Otherwise stated, the Court has no power to review on certiorari an interlocutory order
can be gleaned from the following pronouncement thereat: or even a final resolution issued by a Division of the COMELEC. There is no question, therefore, that the
Court has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition for certiorari assailing the denial by the
The Court, however, will not indulge in the presumption that nothing would go wrong, that a successful COMELEC First Division of the special affirmative defenses of the petitioner. The proper remedy is for the
automation election unmarred by fraud, violence, and like irregularities would be the order of the petitioner to wait for the COMELEC First Division to first decide the protest on its merits, and if the result
moment on May 10, 2010. Neither will it guarantee, as it cannot guarantee, the effectiveness of the should aggrieve him, to appeal the denial of his special affirmative defenses to the COMELEC En Banc
voting machines and the integrity of the counting and consolidation software embedded in them. That
along with the other errors committed by the Division upon the merits. It is true that there may be an
task belongs at the first instance to Comelec, as part of its mandate to ensure clean and peaceful
elections. This independent constitutional commission, it is true, possesses extraordinary powers and exception to the general rule, which is when an interlocutory order of a Division of the COMELEC was
enjoys a considerable latitude in the discharge of its functions. The road, however, towards successful issued without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion, as the Court conceded in Kho
2010 automation elections would certainly be rough and bumpy. The Comelec is laboring under very v. Commission on Elections. However, the said UST Law Review, Vol. LVII No. 1, November 2012 case has
tight timelines. It would accordingly need the help of all advocates of orderly and honest elections, of all no application herein because the COMELEC First Division had the competence to determine the lack of
men and women of goodwill, to smoothen the way and assist Comelec personnel address the fears detailed specifications of the acts or omissions complained of as required by Rule 6, Section 7 of
expressed about the integrity of the system. Like anyone else, the Court would like and wish automated
COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, and whether such lack called for the outright dismissal of the protest.
elections to succeed, credibly.32

In view of the foregoing, we have no need to discuss at length the other submissions of the petitioner.
12

EN BANC assailed Order was fraught with infirmities and irregularities in the appreciation of the ballots, and was
couched in general terms: "these are not written by one person observing the different strokes, slant,
spacing, size and indentation of handwriting and the variance in writing."7
G.R. No. 203833 March 19, 2013

The Comelec En Banc Ruling


MAMERTO T. SEVILLA, JR. Petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and RENATO R. SO, Respondents. The Comelec en banc, by a vote of 3-3,8 affirmed the Comelec Second Division’s ruling in its October 6,
2012 Resolution whose dispositive portion reads:
RESOLUTION
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
Respondent judge is directed to conduct another revision of the contested ballots in Election Protest
BRION, J.:
Case No. SP-6719 with dispatch.9

Before this Court is the petition for certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary
It ruled that where the dismissal was capricious, certiorari lies as the petition challenges not the
Injunction and/or Status Quo Ante Order,1 filed by petitioner Mamerto T. Sevilla, Jr., to nullify the May
correctness but the validity of the order of dismissal. The Comelec en banc emphasized that procedural
14, 2012 Resolution2 of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Second Division and the October 6, 2012
technicalities should be disregarded for the immediate and final resolution of election cases inasmuch as
Resolution3 of the Comelec en bancin SPR (BRGY-SK) No. 70-2011. These assailed Resolutions reversed
ballots should be read and appreciated with utmost liberality so that the will of the electorate in the
and set aside the May 4, 2011 Order of the Muntinlupa City Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 80
choice of public officials may not be defeated by technical infirmities. It found that the MeTC Judge
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when she did not comply with the
(MeTC), dismissing respondent Renato R. So’s election protest against Sevilla. mandatory requirements of Section 2(d), Rule 14 of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC on the form of the decision in
election protests involving pairs or groups of ballots written by two persons. It noted that based on the
The Facts general and repetitive phraseology of the Order, the MeTC Judge’s findings were "copy-pasted" into the
decision and ran counter to the mandate of the aforementioned rule. Also, the MeTC Judge failed to
mention in her appreciation of the ballots that she examined the Minutes of Voting and Counting to
Sevilla and So were candidates for the position of Punong Barangay of Barangay Sucat, Muntinlupa City ascertain whether there were illiterate voters or assisted voters in the protested precincts.10
during the October 25, 2010 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. On October 26, 2010, the
Board of Election Tellers proclaimed Sevilla as the winner with a total of 7,354 votes or a winning margin
of 628 votes over So’s 6,726 total votes. On November 4, 2010, So filed an election protest with the Commissioner Lim’s Dissent 11
MeTC on the ground that Sevilla committed electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities in all the
protested precincts. So pinpointed twenty percent (20%) of the total number of the protested precincts. The dissent posited that So’s petition should be dismissed outright as it was mired in procedural errors.
He also prayed for a manual revision of the ballots.4 First, So should have filed an appeal within five (5) days from receipt of the MeTC’s Order; a motion for
reconsideration was improper as the Order amounted to the final disposition of the protest. Second, So
Following the recount of the ballots in the pilot protested precincts, the MeTC issued an Order dated should not have filed the motion for reconsideration even if he believed that the Order was interlocutory
May 4, 2011 dismissing the election protest. On May 9, 2011, So filed a motion for reconsideration from since a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading. Also, he could have simply filed the petition
the dismissal order instead of a notice of appeal; he also failed to pay the appeal fee within the for certiorari without the necessity of filing the motion for reconsideration. Third, the petition for
reglementary period. On May 17, 2011, the MeTC denied the motion for reconsideration on the ground certiorari cannot be a substitute for the lost appeal. The Comelec could not even treat the certiorari as
that it was a prohibited pleading pursuant to Section 1, Rule 6 of A.M. No. 07-04-15-SC.5 an appeal since the petition was filed 25 days after So received the assailed Order; thus, the Order
already attained finality. Finally, procedural rules should not be lightly shunned in favor of liberality
when, as in this case, So did not give a valid excuse for his errors.
In response, So filed a petition for certiorari on May 31, 2011 with the Comelec, alleging grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the MeTC Judge. So faults the MeTC for its non-observance of the rule that in
the appreciation of ballots, there should be a clear and distinct presentation of the specific details of The Petition
how and why a certain group of ballots should be considered as having been written by one or two
persons.6 The Comelec gravely abused its discretion when it gave due course to the petition for certiorari

The Comelec Second Division Ruling Sevilla argues that the Comelec gravely abused its discretion when it entertained So’s petition despite its
loss of jurisdiction to entertain the petition after the court a quo’s dismissal order became final and
In its May 14, 2012 Resolution, the Comelec Second Division granted So’s petition. The Comelec Second executory due to So’s wrong choice of remedy. Instead of filing an appeal within five (5) days from
Division held that certiorari can be granted despite the availability of appeals when the questioned order receipt of the Order and paying the required appeal fee, So filed a motion for reconsideration – a
amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority, as in the case before it. It also ruled that the prohibited pleading that did not stop the running of the prescriptive period to file an appeal. Sevilla also
13

emphasizes that So’s petition for certiorari should not have been given due course since it is not a We have previously ruled that a majority vote requires a vote of four members of the Comelec en banc.
substitute for an appeal and may only be allowed if there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and In Marcoleta v. Commission on Elections,18 we declared "that Section 5(a) of Rule 3 of the Comelec Rules
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.12 of Procedure and Section 7 of Article IX-A of the Constitution require that a majority vote of all the
members of the Comelec en banc, and not only those who participated and took part in the
deliberations, is necessary for the pronouncement of a decision, resolution, order or ruling."
The dismissal of the election protest was proper

In the present case, while the October 6, 2012 Resolution of the Comelec en banc appears to have
Sevilla also contends that the dismissal was not tainted with grave abuse of discretion since the MeTC
affirmed the Comelec Second Division’s Resolution and, in effect, denied Sevilla’s motion for
Judge complied with the rules; she made clear, specific and detailed explanations pertaining to the
reconsideration, the equally divided voting between three Commissioners concurring and three
specific strokes, figures or letters showing that the ballots had been written by one person. Granting that
Commissioners dissenting is not the majority vote that the Constitution and the Comelec Rules of
the decision was tainted with errors, certiorari would still not lie because a mere error of judgment is not
Procedure require for a valid pronouncement of the assailed October 6, 2012 Resolution of the Comelec
synonymous with grave abuse of discretion. Lastly, a liberal application of the rules cannot be made to a
en banc.
petition which offers no explanation for the non-observance of the rules.13

In essence, based on the 3-3 voting, the Comelec en banc did not sustain the Comelec Second Division’s
On November 13, 2012,14 the Court resolved to require the Comelec and the respondent to comment on
findings on the basis of the three concurring votes by Commissioners Tagle, Velasco and Yusoph;
the petition and to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the assailed Comelec Second
conversely, it also did not overturn the Comelec Second Division on the basis of the three dissenting
Division’s Resolution of May 14, 2012 and the Comelec en banc’s Resolution of October 6, 2012.15
votes by Chairman Brillantes, Commissioner Sarmiento and Commissioner Lim, as either side was short
of one (1) vote to obtain a majority decision. Recall that under Section 7, Article IX-A of the Constitution,
In his Comment, the respondent contends that the petition was filed prematurely. He emphasizes that a majority vote of all the members of the Commission en banc is necessary to arrive at a ruling. In other
the October 6, 2012 Resolution of the Comelec en banc was not a majority decision considering that words, the vote of four (4) members must always be attained in order to decide, irrespective of the
three Commissioners voted for the denial of the motion for reconsideration and the three others voted number of Commissioners in attendance. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the assailed October 6, 2012
to grant the same. So notes that the assailed October 6, 2012 Resolution was deliberated upon only by Resolution of the Comelec en banc had no legal effect whatsoever except to convey that the Comelec
six (6) Commissioners because the 7th failed to reach a decision and that further action is required.

Commissioner had not yet been appointed by the President at that time. Considering that the October 6, The October 6, 2012 Comelec en banc’s Resolution must be reheard pursuant to the Comelec Rules of
2012 Resolution was not a majority decision by the Comelec en banc, So prays for the dismissal of the Procedure
petition so that it can be remanded to the Comelec for a rehearing by a full and complete Commission.16
To break the legal stalemate in case the opinion is equally divided among the members of the Comelec
The Court’s Ruling en banc, Section 6, Rule 18 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure mandates a rehearing where parties are
given the opportunity anew to strengthen their respective positions or arguments and convince the
We resolve to DISMISS the petition for having been prematurely filed with this Court, and remand the members of the Comelec en banc of the merit of their case.19 Section 6, Rule 18 of the Comelec Rules of
case to the COMELEC for its appropriate action. Procedure reads:

The October 6, 2012 Comelec en banc’s Resolution lacks legal effect as it is not a majority decision Section 6. Procedure if Opinion is Equally Divided. - When the Commission en banc is equally divided in
required by the Constitution and by the Comelec Rules of Procedure opinion, or the necessary majority cannot be had, the case shall be reheard, and if on rehearing no
decision is reached, the action or proceeding shall be dismissed if originally commenced in the
Commission; in appealed cases, the judgment or order appealed from shall stand affirmed; and in all
Section 7, Article IX-A of the Constitution requires that "each Commission shall decide by a majority vote incidental matters, the petition or motion shall be denied. [emphasis ours; italics supplied]
of all its members, any case or matter brought before it within sixty days from the date of its submission
for decision or resolution."17 Pursuant to this Constitutional mandate, the Comelec provided in Section
5(a), Rule 3 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure the votes required for the pronouncement of a decision, In Juliano v. Commission on Elections,20 only three members of the Comelec en banc voted in favor of
resolution, order or ruling when the Comelec sits en banc, viz.: granting Estrelita Juliano’s motion for reconsideration (from the Decision of the Comelec Second Division
dismissing her petition for annulment of proclamation of Muslimin Sema as the duly elected Mayor of
Cotabato City), three members dissented, and one member took no part. In ruling that the Comelec
Section 5. Quorum; Votes Required. - (a) When sitting en banc, four (4) Members of the Commission acted with grave abuse of discretion when it failed to order a rehearing required by the Comelec Rules of
shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting business. The concurrence of a majority of the Procedure, the Court ruled:
Members of the Commission shall be necessary for the pronouncement of a decision, resolution, order
or ruling. [italics supplied; emphasis ours]
Section 6, Rule 18 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure specifically states that if the opinion of the
Comelec En Banc is equally divided, the case shall be reheard. The Court notes, however, that the Order
14

of the Comelec En Banc dated February 10, 2005 clearly stated that what was conducted was a mere "re- In the present case, it appears from the records that the Comelec en banc did not issue an Order for a
consultation." rehearing of the case in view of the filing in the interim of the present petition for certiorari by Sevilla. In
both the cases of Juliano and Marcoleta, cited above, we remanded the cases to the Comelec en banc for
the conduct of the required rehearing pursuant to the Comelec Rules of Procedure. Based on these
A "re-consultation" is definitely not the same as a "rehearing."
considerations, we thus find that a remand of this case is necessary for the Comelec en banc to comply
with the rehearing requirement of Section 6, Rule 18 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure.
A consultation is a "deliberation of persons on some subject;" hence, a re-consultation means a second
deliberation of persons on some subject.
WHEREFORE, we hereby DISMISS the petition and REMAND SPR (BR GY-SK) No. 70-2011 to the Comelec
en bane for the conduct of the required rehearing under the Comelec Rules of Procedure. The Comelec
Rehearing is defined as a "second consideration of cause for purpose of calling to court’s or en bane is hereby ORDERED to proceed with the rehearing with utmost dispatch. No costs. SO ORDERED.
administrative board’s attention any error, omission, or oversight in first consideration. A retrial of issues
presumes notice to parties entitled thereto and opportunity for them to be heard." (italics supplied). But
FACTS:
as held in Samalio v. Court of Appeals,
Sevilla and So were candidates for the position of Punong Barangay of Barangay Sucat, Muntinlupa City
A formal or trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential.1âwphi1 The requirements during the October 25, 2010 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, in which, Sevilla was
are satisfied where the parties are afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the proclaimed as the winner. So filed an election protest with the MeTC on the ground that Sevilla
controversy at hand. committed electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities in all the protested precincts. The MeTC
dismissed the election protest.

Thus, a rehearing clearly presupposes the participation of the opposing parties for the purpose of So filed a motion for reconsideration from the dismissal order instead of a notice of appeal; he also failed
presenting additional evidence, if any, and further clarifying and amplifying their arguments; whereas, a to pay the appeal fee within the reglementary period. But the MeTC denied the motion for
re-consultation involves a re-evaluation of the issues and arguments already on hand only by the reconsideration on the ground that it was a prohibited pleading. In response, So filed a petition for
members of the tribunal, without the participation of the parties. certiorari with the COMELEC, alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the MeTC Judge.
The COMELEC Second Division granted So’s petition and held that certiorari can be granted despite the
In Belac v. Comelec, when the voting of the Comelec En Banc on therein petitioner’s motion for availability of appeals when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial
reconsideration was equally divided, the Comelec En Banc first issued an order setting the case for authority. It also ruled that the assailed Order was fraught with infirmities and irregularities in the
hearing and allowed the parties to submit their respective memoranda before voting anew on therein appreciation of the ballot.
petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. This should have been the proper way for the Comelec En Banc The COMELEC en banc, by a vote of 3-3, affirmed the COMELEC Second Division’s ruling.
to act on herein petitioner’s motion for reconsideration when the first voting was equally divided. Its
own Rules of Procedure calls for a rehearing where the parties would have the opportunity to strengthen ISSUE: Whether the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it gave due course to the petition
their respective positions or arguments and convince the members of the Comelec En Banc of the merit despite its loss of jurisdiction after the dismissal order became final and executory due to So’s wrong
of their case. Thus, when the Comelec En Banc failed to give petitioner the rehearing required by the choice of remedy.
Comelec Rules of Procedure, said body acted with grave abuse of discretion.21 (italics supplied; emphases RULING:
ours)
The Court resolve to dismiss the petition for having been prematurely filed, and remand the case to the
COMELEC for its appropriate action. It ruled that COMELEC en banc’s Resolution lacks legal effect as it is
To the same effect, in Marcoleta v. Commission on Elections,22
the Court ruled that the Comelec en banc
not a majority decision required by the Constitution and by the COMELEC Rules of Procedure
did not gravely abuse its discretion when it ordered a rehearing of its November 6, 2007 Resolution for
failing to muster the required majority voting. The Court held: The Court have previously ruled that a majority vote requires a vote of four members of the COMELEC en
banc. In Marcoleta v. Commission on Elections, it declared "that Section 5(a) of Rule 3 of the COMELEC
Rules of Procedure and Section 7 of Article IX-A of the Constitution require that a majority vote of all the
The Comelec, despite the obvious inclination of three commissioners to affirm the Resolution of the First
members of the COMELEC en banc, and not only those who participated and took part in the
Division, cannot do away with a rehearing since its Rules clearly provide for such a proceeding for the
deliberations, is necessary for the pronouncement of a decision, resolution, order or ruling."
body to have a solicitous review of the controversy before it. A rehearing clearly presupposes the
participation of the opposing parties for the purpose of presenting additional evidence, if any, and In the present case, while the Resolution of the COMELEC en banc appears to have affirmed the
further clarifying and amplifying their arguments. COMELEC Second Division’s Resolution and, in effect, denied Sevilla’s motion for reconsideration, the
equally divided voting between three Commissioners concurring and three Commissioners dissenting is
not the majority vote that the Constitution and the COMELEC Rules of Procedure require for a valid
To reiterate, neither the assenters nor dissenters can claim a majority in the En Banc Resolution of
pronouncement of the assailed Resolution of the COMELEC en banc. Thus, the assailed Resolution of the
November 6, 2007. The Resolution served no more than a record of voters, lacking in legal effect despite
COMELEC en banc had no legal effect whatsoever except to convey that the COMELEC failed to reach a
its pronouncement of reversal of the First Division Resolution. According, the Comelec did not commit
decision and that further action is required. The COMELEC en banc’s Resolution must be reheard
any grave abuse of discretion in ordering a rehearing.23 (italics supplied; citation omitted)
pursuant to the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.
15

EN BANC favored by luck shall be proclaimed as the duly-elected Barangay Chairman of Barangay Plaridel,
Palompon, Leyte.5
G.R. No. 186201 October 9, 2009
On May 13, 2008, petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal6 with the trial court and she stated in her petition
that she also paid the appeal fee required under Section 9, Rule 14 of the Rules of Procedure in Election
CARMELINDA C. BARRO, Petitioner,
Contests Before the Courts Involving Elective Municipal and Barangay Officials (A.M. No. 07-4-15-
vs.
SC).7 Thereafter, the records of the case were forwarded to the COMELEC.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (FIRST DIVISION); HON. DELIA P. NOEL-BERTULFO, in her capacity as
Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court, Palompon, Leyte; and ELPEDIO P. CONTINEDAS,
JR.,Respondents. On November 25, 2008, the First Division of the COMELEC issued an Order dismissing petitioner’s appeal
for failure to pay the appeal fee, thus:
DECISION
Pursuant to Sections 3 and 4, Rule 40 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure which provide for the payment
of appeal fee in the amount of ₱3,000.00 within the period to file the notice of appeal, and Section 9 (a),
PERALTA, J.:
Rule 22 of the same Rules, which provides that failure to pay the correct appeal fee is a ground for the
dismissal of the appeal, the Commission (First Division) RESOLVED as it hereby RESOLVES to DISMISS the
This is a petition for certiorari1 alleging that the First Division of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) instant appeal for Protestee-AppeIlant's failure to pay the appeal fee as prescribed by the Comelec Rules
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the Orders of Procedure within the five (5)-day reglementary period.8
dated November 25, 2008 and January 9, 2009. The Order2 dated November 25, 2008 dismissed
petitioner’s appeal for failure to pay the appeal fee prescribed by the COMELEC Rules of Procedure
On December 15, 2008, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration9 of the Order dated November 25,
within the reglementary period. The Order3 dated January 9, 2009 denied petitioner’s motion for
2008. On the same date, she also posted Postal Money Order Nos. A0820039317; B0810040373 and
reconsideration.
J1350301774 in the total sum of ₱3,200.00 payable to the Cash Division of the COMELEC to cover the
appeal fee.
The facts are as follows:
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied by the First Division of the COMELEC in its Order
Petitioner Carmelinda C. Barro and private respondent Elpedio P. Continedas, Jr. were candidates dated January 9, 2009, thus:
for Punong Barangay of Barangay Plaridel, Palompon, Leyte during the October 29, 2007
synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. Petitioner garnered 150 votes, while Protestee-Appellant's "Motion for Reconsideration" filed thru registered mail on 15 December 2008 and
respondent garnered 149 votes. The Barangay Board of Canvassers proclaimed petitioner as the duly
received on 23 December 2008, seeking reconsideration of the Commission's (First Division) Order dated
elected Punong Barangay, winning by a margin of only one vote.
25 November 2008, is hereby DENIED for failure of the movant to pay the necessary motion fees under
Sec. 7 (f), Rule 40 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure as amended by Comelec Resolution No. 02-0130.
On November 5, 2007, private respondent filed an election protest before the Municipal Trial Court of The Judicial Records Division-ECAD, this Commission, is hereby directed to return to the protestee-
Palompon, Leyte (trial court), impugning the result of the canvass in two precincts of the barangay. appellant the Postal Money Order Nos. A0820039317 in the amount of two thousand pesos (₱2,000.00);
B0810040373 in the amount of one thousand pesos (P1,000.00) and J1350301774 in the amount of two
hundred pesos (₱200.00) representing his belated payment of appeal fee.10
After the revision of ballots, the trial court found that petitioner and respondent both garnered 151
votes.
On February 19, 2009, petitioner filed this petition raising the following issues:
4
In its Decision dated May 5, 2008, the trial court held:
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE [FIRST DIVISION OF THE COMELEC] COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN DISMISSING THE APPEAL.
In sum, the Protestant is credited with three (3) votes and the Protestee with two (2) votes of the
contested votes.
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE [FIRST DIVISION OF THE COMELEC] COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
The three (3) credited votes added to the 148 votes of the protestant equals 151 votes. The two (2)
FILED BY PETITIONER.
credited votes added to the 149 votes of the protestee equals 151 votes. The protestant and the
protestee, therefore, received the same number of votes.
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE [FIRST DIVISION OF THE COMELEC] COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ACTING ON THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
It appearing that the Protestant and the Protestee received the same number of votes for the position of
WITHOUT ELEVATING THE SAME TO THE COMELEC EN BANC.11
Barangay Chairman of Brgy. Plaridel, Palompon, Leyte, there shall be a drawing of lots and the party
16

The first issue is whether or not the First Division of the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in pursuant to Rule 40, Section 18 of the same rules, if the fees are not paid, the COMELEC may refuse to
dismissing petitioner’s appeal. take action thereon until they are paid and may dismiss the action or the proceeding. In such a situation,
the COMELEC is merely given the discretion to dismiss the appeal or not.
Grave abuse of discretion implies a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment amounting to lack of
jurisdiction or an arbitrary and despotic exercise of power because of passion or personal hostility.12 The Accordingly, in the instant case, the COMELEC First Division, may dismiss petitioner's appeal, as it in fact
grave abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion or refusal to perform a did, for petitioner's failure to pay the ₱3,200.00 appeal fee.
duty enjoined by law.13
Be that as it may, the Court still finds that the COMELEC First Division gravely abused its discretion in
The Court notes that in petitioner’s Notice of Appeal,14 she manifested payment of the appeal fees and issuing the order dismissing petitioner's appeal. The Court notes that the notice of appeal and the
other lawful fees required for the appeal per Official Receipt Nos. 7719538 and 7719488. However, the ₱1,000.00 appeal fee were, respectively, filed and paid with the MTC of Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte on
receipts were not attached to the record of the case. In her Petition, petitioner stated that when she April 21, 2008. On that date, the petitioner's appeal was deemed perfected. COMELEC issued Resolution
filed her Notice of Appeal on May 13, 2008, she also paid the appeal fee required under Section 9, Rule No. 8486 clarifying the rule on the payment of appeal fees only on July 15, 2008, or almost three months
14 of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC.15 In her Reply,16petitioner also stated that she relied on the provision of after the appeal was perfected. Yet, on July 31, 2008, or barely two weeks after the issuance of
Sections 8 and 9, Rule 14 of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC,17 which took effect on May 15, 2007, and that she Resolution No. 8486, the COMELEC First Division dismissed petitioner's appeal for non-payment to the
believed in good faith that the said new Rules of Procedure repealed the COMELEC Rules. COMELEC Cash Division of the additional ₱3,200.00 appeal fee.

Based on petitioner’s pleadings and the fact that the trial court gave due course to petitioner’s appeal, it Considering that petitioner filed his appeal months before the clarificatory resolution on appeal fees,
may be presumed that petitioner paid the appeal fee of ₱1,000.00 to the trial court simultaneously with petitioner's appeal should not be unjustly prejudiced by COMELEC Resolution No. 8486. Fairness and
the filing of the Notice of Appeal, despite absence of the receipt showing payment of the appeal fee of prudence dictate that the COMELEC First Division should have first directed petitioner to pay the
₱1,000.00. additional appeal fee in accordance with the clarificatory resolution, and if the latter should refuse to
comply, then, and only then, dismiss the appeal. Instead, the COMELEC First Division hastily dismissed
the appeal on the strength of the recently promulgated clarificatory resolution — which had taken effect
Petitioner contends in her Reply18 that the recent case of Jerry B. Aguilar v. Commission on Elections, et
only a few days earlier. This unseemly haste is an invitation to outrage.
al.,19applies to her case. The Court agrees with petitioner.

In this case, the appeal to the COMELEC was perfected when petitioner filed her Notice of Appeal and
In Aguilar, petitioner Aguilar won as barangay chairman in the October 29, 2007 barangay elections. An
paid the appeal fee of ₱1,000.00 on May 13, 2008, which was two months before the COMELEC issued
election protest was filed against him with the municipal trial court. The municipal trial court found that
Resolution No. 8486,20 clarifying the rule on the payment of appeal fees. As stated in Aguilar, fairness
Aguilar lost by a margin of one vote; hence, his proclamation was annulled. On April 21, 2008, Aguilar
and prudence dictate that the First Division of the COMELEC should have first directed petitioner to pay
filed a Notice of Appeal and paid the appeal fee of ₱1,000.00 to the municipal trial court in accordance
the additional appeal fee of ₱3,200.00 in accordance with the clarificatory resolution; and if petitioner
with A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC. The First Division of the COMELEC dismissed his appeal pursuant to Section 9
refused to comply, only then should the appeal be dismissed. The First Division of the COMELEC should
(a), Rule 22 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure for non-payment of the appeal fee of ₱3,000.00 as
have been more cautious in dismissing petitioner’s appeal on the mere technicality of non-payment of
required in Sections 3 and 4, Rule 40 of the same Rules. His first and second motions for reconsideration
the additional appeal fee of ₱3,200.00 given the public interest involved in election cases.21
were denied by the First Division of the COMELEC. He filed a petition for certiorari with this Court, which
held:
In view of the foregoing, the Court finds that the First Division of the COMELEC gravely abused its
discretion in issuing the Order dated November 25, 2008, dismissing petitioner’s appeal. The case is
With the promulgation of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC, the previous rule that the appeal is perfected only upon
remanded to the First Division of the COMELEC for disposition of the appeal in accordance with this
the full payment of the appeal fee, now pegged at ₱3,200.00, to the COMELEC Cash Division within the
decision, subject to the presentation by petitioner of the receipt evidencing payment of the appeal fee of
period to appeal, as stated in the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, as amended, no longer applies.
₱1,000.00 as required under Section 9, Rule 14 of A. M. No. 07-4-15-SC.

It thus became necessary for the COMELEC to clarify the procedural rules on the payment of appeal fees.
It must be stated, however, that for notices of appeal filed after the promulgation on July 27, 2009
For this purpose, the COMELEC issued on July 15, 2008, Resolution No. 8486, which the Court takes
of Divinagracia v. Commission on Elections,22 errors in the matter of non-payment or incomplete
judicial notice of.
payment of the two appeal fees in election cases are no longer excusable.

x x x The appeal to the COMELEC of the trial court's decision in election contests involving municipal and
The second and third issues shall be discussed jointly.
barangay officials is perfected upon the filing of the notice of appeal and the payment of the ₱1,000.00
appeal fee to the court that rendered the decision within the five-day reglementary period. The non-
payment or the insufficient payment of the additional appeal fee of ₱3,200.00 to the COMELEC Cash Petitioner contends that the First Division of the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion
Division, in accordance with Rule 40, Section 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, as amended, does amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in acting on the motion for reconsideration without elevating
not affect the perfection of the appeal and does not result in outright or ipso facto dismissal of the the same to the COMELEC en banc, and in denying the motion for reconsideration.
appeal. Following, Rule 22, Section 9 (a) of the COMELEC Rules, the appeal may be dismissed. And
17

The contention is meritorious. Petitioner Carmelinda C. Barro and private respondent Elpedio P. Continedas, Jr. were candidates for
Punong Barangay of Barangay Plaridel, Palompon, Leyte during the October 29, 2007 synchronized
It is settled that under Section 7, Article IX-A of the Constitution,23 what may be brought to this Court on Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. Petitioner garnered 150 votes, while respondent
certiorari is the decision, order or ruling of the COMELEC en banc. However, this rule should not apply garnered 149 votes. the Barangay Board of Canvassers proclaimed petitioner as the duly elected Punong
when a division of the COMELEC arrogates unto itself and deprives the en banc of the authority to rule Barangay, winning by a margin of only one vote.On November 5 2007, private respondent filed an
on a motion for reconsideration, like in this case.24 election protest before the Municipal Trial Court of Palompon, Leyte trial court, impugning the result of
the canvass in two precincts of the barangay.
Section 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution provides for the procedure for the resolution of election cases
by the COMELEC, thus: After the revision of ballots, the trial court found that petitioner and respondent both garnered 151
votes. the trial court held that the Protestant and the Protestee received the same number of votes for
Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of the position of Barangay Chairman of Brgy. Plaridel, Palompon, Leyte, there shall be a drawing of lots
procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. and the party favored by luck shall be proclaimed as the duly/elected Barangay Chairman of Barangay
All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration Plaridel, Palompon, Leyte.Petitioner filed a notice of appeal with the trial court and she stated in her
of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc.
petition that she also paid the appeal fee required. Thereafter, the records of the case were forwarded
to the COMELEC.On December 15 2008, petitioner filed a Motion for reconsideration of the Order dated
The constitutional provision is reflected in Sections 5 and 6, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure November 25 2008. On thesame date, she also posted Postal money Order payable to the Cash division
as follows:
of the COmELEC to cover the appeal fee. Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the first
division of the COMELEC.
Sec. 5. How Motion for Reconsideration Disposed of. — Upon the filing of a motion to reconsider a
decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division, the Clerk of Court concerned shall, within twenty-four
(24) hours from the filing thereof, notify the Presiding Commissioner. The latter shall within two (2) days
thereafter certify the case to the Commission en banc.1avvph!1

Sec. 6. Duty of Clerk of Court of Commission to Calendar Motion for Reconsideration. — The Clerk of
Court concerned shall calendar the motion for reconsideration for the resolution of the Commission en
banc within ten (10) days from the certification thereof.

In this case, the First Division of the COMELEC violated the cited provisions of the Constitution and the
COMELEC Rules of Procedure when it resolved petitioner's motion for reconsideration of its final Order
dated November 25, 2008, which dismissed petitioner’s appeal. By arrogating unto itself a power
constitutionally lodged in the Commission en banc, the First Division of the COMELEC exercised
judgment in excess of, or without, jurisdiction.25Hence, the Order issued by the First Division of the
COMELEC dated January 9, 2009, denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, is null and void.

Petitioner stated in her Reply26 that on April 1, 2009, the First Division of the COMELEC issued an Order
declaring the Order dated November 25, 2008 as final and executory, and ordering the issuance of an
Entry of Judgment. On April 1, 2009, an Entry of Judgment was issued by the Electoral Contests
Adjudication Department.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders dated November 25, 2008 and January 9, 2009 by the
First Division of the COMELEC, and the Entry of Judgment issued on April 1, 2009 by the Electoral
Contests Adjudication Department are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the First
Division of the Commission on Elections for disposition in accordance with this Decision.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
18

EN BANC and regulations of RA 10367, thus, prescribing the procedure for validation,17 deactivation,18 and
reactivation of voters' registration records (VRRs).19 Among others, the said Resolution provides that: (a)
"[t]he registration records of voters without biometrics data who failed to submit for validation on or
G.R. No. 221318, December 16, 2015
before the last day of filing of applications for registration for the purpose of the May 9, 2016 National
and Local Elections shall be deactivated in the last [Election Registration Board (ERB)] hearing to be
KABATAAN PARTY-LIST, REPRESENTED BY REPRESENTATIVE JAMES MARK TERRY L. RIDON AND conducted prior to said elections";20 (b) "[t]he following registered voters shall have their biometrics data
MARJOHARA S. TUCAY; SARAH JANE I. ELAGO, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS OF validated: [(1)] Those who do not have BIOMETRICS data appearing in the Voter['s] Registration System
THE PHILIPPINES; VENCER MARI E. CRISOSTOMO, CHAIRPERSON OF THE ANAKBAYAN; MARC LINO J. (VRS); and [(2)] Those who have incomplete BIOMETRICS dataappearing in the VRS";21 (c) "[d]eactivated
ABILA, NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES; EINSTEIN Z. voters shall not be allowed to vote";22 and (d) "[d]eactivation x x x shall comply with the requirements
RECEDES, DEPUTY SECRETARY- GENERAL OF ANAKBAYAN; CHARISSE BERNADINE I. BA�EZ, on posting, ERB hearing and service of individual notices to the deactivated voters."23 Resolution No.
CHAIRPERSON OF THE LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS; ARLENE CLARISSE Y. JULVE, MEMBER OF 9721 further states that, as of the last day of registration and validation for the 2013 Elections on
ALYANSA NG MGA GRUPONG HALIGI NG AGHAM AT TEKNOLOHIYA PARA SA MAMAMAYAN October 31, 2012, a total of 9,018,256 registered voters were without biometrics data.24 Accordingly, all
(AGHAM); AND SINING MARIA ROSA L. MARFORI, Petitioners, v. COMMISSION ELECTIONS, Election Officers (EOs) were directed to "conduct [an] information campaign on the conduct of
ON, Respondent. validation."25cralawred

DECISION On July 1, 2013, the COMELEC, pursuant to the aforesaid Resolution, commenced the mandatory
biometric system of registration. To make biometric registration convenient and accessible to the voting
public, aside from the COMELEC offices in every local government unit, it likewise established satellite
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: registration offices in barangays and mails.26

Rights beget responsibilities; progress begets change. On April 1, 2014, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 986327 which amended certain portions28 of
Resolution No. 985329 dated February 19, 2014, by stating that ERBs shall deactivate the VRRs of those
who "failed to submit for validation despite notice on or before October 31, 2015," and that the
"[d]eactivation for cases falling under this ground shall be made during the November 16, 2015 Board
Before the Court is a petition for certiorari and prohibition1 filed by herein petitioners Kabataan Party- hearing."30
List, represented by Representative James Mark Terry L. Ridon and National President Marjohara S.
Tucay; Sarah Jane I. Elago, President of the National Union of Students of the Philippines; Veneer Mari E. A month later, or in May 2014, the COMELEC launched the NoBio-NoBoto public information
Crisostomo and Einstein Z. Recedes, Chairperson and Deputy Secretary-General of Anakbayan, campaign which ran concurrently with the period of continuing registration.31
respectively; Marc Lino J. Abila, National President of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines;
Charisse Bernadine I. Ba�ez, Chairperson of the League of Filipino Students; Arlene Clarisse Y. Julve, On November 3, 2015, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 1001332 which provides for the "procedures
member of Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ngAgham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan (AGHAM); in the deactivation of [VRRs] who do not have biometrics data in the [VRS] after the October 31, 2015
and Sining Maria Rosa L. Marfori (petitioners) assailing the constitutionality of Republic Act No. (RA) deadline of registration and validation."33 Among others, the said Resolution directed the EOs to: (a)
10367, entitled "An Act Providing for Mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration,"2 as well as respondent "[p]ost the lists of voters without biometrics data in the bulletin boards of the City/Municipal hall,
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution Nos. 9721,3 9863,4 and 10013,5 all related thereto. Office of the Election Officer and in the barangay hall along with the notice of ERB hearing;" and (b)
"[s]end individual notices to the affected voters included in the generated list of voters without
The Facts biometrics data."34 It also provides that "[a]ny opposition/objection to the deactivation of records shall
be filed not later than November 9, 2015 in accordance with the period prescribed in Section
On February 15, 2013, President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law RA 10367, which is a consolidation 4,35[Chapter I,] Resolution No. 9853."36 During the ERB hearing, which proceedings are summary in
of House Bill No. 3469 and Senate Bill No. 1030, passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate nature,37 "the ERBs shall, based dn the list of voters without biometrics data, order the deactivation of
on December 11, 2012 and December 12, 2012,6 respectively. Essentially, RA 10367 mandates the registration records on the ground of 'failure to validate.'"38 Thereafter, EOs were required to "[s]end
COMELEC to implement a mandatory biometrics registration system for new voters7 in order to establish individual notices to the deactivated voters within five (5) days from the last day of ERB
a clean, complete, permanent, and updated list of voters through the adoption of biometric hearing."39Moreover, Resolution No. 10013 clarified that the "[Registration records of voters
technology.8RA 10367 was duly published on February 22, 2013,9 and took effect fifteen (15) days after.10 with incomplete biometrics data and those corrupted data (biometrics) in the database shall not be
deactivated and be allowed to vote in the May 9, 2016 Synchronized National, Local and [Autonomous
RA 10367 likewise directs that "[r]egistered voters whose biometrics have not been captured shall Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)] Regional Elections."40
submit themselves for validation."11 "Voters who fail to submit for validation on or before the last day
of filing of application for registration for purposes of the May 2016 [E]lections shall be deactivated x x On November 25, 2015, herein petitioners filed the instant petition with application for temporary
x."12 Nonetheless, voters may have their records reactivated after the May 2016 Elections, provided that restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction (WPI) assailing the
they comply with the procedure found in Section 2813 of RA 8189,14 also known as "The Voter's constitutionality of the biometrics validation requirement imposed under RA 10367, as well as COMELEC
Registration Act of 1996."15 Resolution Nos. 9721, 9863, and 10013, all related thereto. They contend that: (a) biometrics validation
rises to the level of an additional, substantial qualification where there is penalty of deactivation;41 (b)
On June 26, 2013, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 972116 which serves as the implementing rules biometrics deactivation is not the disqualification by law contemplated by the 1987 Constitution;42 (c)
19

biometrics validation gravely violates the Constitution, considering that, applying the strict scrutiny test, suffrage, the Court views the matter as one of transcendental public importance and of compelling
it is not poised with a compelling reason for state regulation and hence, an unreasonable deprivation of significance. Consequently, it deems it proper to brush aside the foregoing procedural barriers and
the right to suffrage;43 (d) voters to be deactivated are not afforded due process;44 and (e) poor instead, resolve the case on its merits. As resonated in the case of Pabillo v. COMELEC,59 citing Capalla v.
experience with biometrics should serve as warning against exacting adherence to the system.45 Albeit COMELEC60 and Guingona, Jr. v. COMELEC:61
already subject of a prior petition46 filed before this Court, petitioners also raise herein the argument There can be no doubt that the coming 10 May 2010 [in this case, the May 2016] elections is a matter of
that deactivation by November 16, 2015 would result in the premature termination of the registration great public concern. On election day, the country's registered voters will come out to exercise the
period contrary to Section 847 of RA 8189.48 Ultimately, petitioners pray that this Court declare RA 10367, sacred right of suffrage. Not only is it an exercise that ensures the preservation of our democracy, the
as well as COMELEC Resolution Nos. 9721, 9863, and 10013, unconstitutional and that the COMELEC be coming elections also embodies our people's last ounce of hope for a better future. It is the final
commanded to desist from deactivating registered voters without biometric information, to reinstate opportunity, patiently awaited by our people, for the peaceful transition of power to the next chosen
voters who are compliant with the requisites of RA 8189 but have already been delisted, and to extend leaders of our country. If there is anything capable of directly affecting the lives of ordinary Filipinos so
the system of continuing registration and capture of biometric information of voters until January 8, as to come within the ambit of a public concern, it is the coming elections, [x x x.]
2016.49
Thus, in view of the compelling significance and transcending public importance of the issues raised by
petitioners, the technicalities raised by respondents should not be allowed to stand in the way, if the
On December 1, 2015, the Court required the COMELEC to file its comment to the petition. Meanwhile,
ends of justice would not be subserved by a rigid adherence to the rules of procedure.
it issued a TRO requiring the COMELEC to desist from deactivating the registration records of voters
without biometric information, pending resolution of the case at hand.50
Furthermore, the issue on whether or not the policy on biometrics validation, as provided under RA
10367 and fleshed out in the assailed COMELEC Resolutions, should be upheld is one that demands
On December 7, 2015, COMELEC Chairman Juan Andres D. Bautista, through a letter51 addressed to the
immediate adjudication in view of the critical preparatory activities that are currently being undertaken
Court En Banc, urgently appealed for the immediate lifting of the above-mentioned TRO, stating that the
by the COMELEC with regard to the impending May 2016 Elections. Thus, it would best subserve the
COMELEC is set to finalize the Project of Precincts (POP) on December 15, 2015, and that the TRO issued
ends of justice to settle this controversy not only in order to enlighten the citizenry, but also so as not to
in this case has the effect of including the 2.4 Million deactivated voters in the list of voters, which, in
stymy the operations of a co-constitutional body. As pronounced in Roque, Jr. v. COMELEC:62
turn, would require revisions to the POP and consequently, adversely affect the timelines of all other
[T]he bottom line is that the Court may except a particular case from the operations of its rules when the
interrelated preparatory activities to the prejudice of the successful implementation of the Automated
demands of justice so require. Put a bit differently, rules of procedure are merely tools designed to
Election System (AES) for the 2016 Elections.52
facilitate the attainment of justice. Accordingly, technicalities and procedural barriers should not be
allowed to stand in the way, if the ends of justice would not be subserved by a rigid adherence to the
On December 11, 2015, the COMELEC, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed its comment53 to
rules of procedure.63ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
the instant petition. On even date, petitioners filed a manifestation54 asking the Court to continue the
That being said, the Court now proceeds to resolve the substantive issues in this case.
TRO against the deactivation of voters without biometric information.55

With no further pleadings required of the parties, the case was submitted for resolution. II.

Essentially, the present petition is a constitutional challenge against the biometrics validation
The Issue Before the Court
requirement imposed under RA 10367, including COMELEC Resolution Nos. 9721, 9863, and 10013. As
non-compliance with the same results in the penalty of deactivation, petitioners posit that it has risen to
The core issue in this case is whether or not RA 10367, as well as COMELEC Resolution Nos. 9721, 9863,
the level of an unconstitutional substantive requirement in the exercise of the right of suffrage.64 They
and 10013, all related thereto, are unconstitutional.
submit that the statutory requirement of biometric validation is no different from the unconstitutional
requirement of literacy and property because mere non-validation already absolutely curtails the
The Ruling of the Court exercise of the right of suffrage through deactivation.65 Further, they advance the argument that
deactivation is not the disqualification by law contemplated as a valid limitation to the exercise of
The petition is bereft of merit. suffrage under the 1987 Constitution.66

I. The contestation is untenable.

At the outset, the Court passes upon the procedural objections raised in this case. In particular, the As early as the 1936 case of The People of the Philippine Islands v. Corral,67 it has been recognized that
COMELEC claims that petitioners: (a) failed to implead the Congress, the Office of the President, and the "[t]he right to vote is not a natural right but is a right created by law. Suffrage is a privilege granted by
ERB which it purports are indispensable parties to the case;56 (b) did not have the legal standing to the State to such persons or classes as are most likely to exercise it for the public good. In the early
institute the instant petition;57 and (c) erroneously availed of certiorari and prohibition as a mode of stages of the evolution of the representative system of government, the exercise of the right of suffrage
questioning the constitutionality of RA 10367 and the assailed COMELEC Resolutions.58 was limited to a small portion of the inhabitants. But with the spread of democratic ideas, the enjoyment
of the franchise in the modern states has come to embrace the mass of the audit classes of persons are
The submissions do not hold. excluded from the franchise."68

Recognizing that the petition is hinged on an important constitutional issue pertaining to the right of
20

Section 1, Article V of the 1987 Constitution delineates the current parameters for the exercise of requirement for voting.
suffrage:
Section 1. Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, It is to be noted that all those who testified before the Committee favoured the elimination of the
who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year literacy requirement. It must be stressed that those witnesses represented all levels of society x x x.
and in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the
election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of Sponsorship Speech of Delegate Ordo�ez
suffrage.
Dissecting the provision, one must meet the following qualifications in order to exercise the right of x x x in the process, as we evolve, many and more of our people were left to the sidelines because they
suffrage: first, he must be a Filipino citizen; second, he must not be disqualified by law; and third, he could no longer participate in the process of government simply because their ability to read and write
must have resided in the Philippines for at least one (1) year and in the place wherein he proposes to had become inadequate. This, however, did not mean that they were no longer responsive to the
vote for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the election. demands of the times, that they were unsensible to what was happening among them. And so in the
process as years went on, conscious efforts were made to liberate, to free these persons who were
The second item more prominently reflects the franchised nature of the right of suffrage. The State may formerly entitled in the course of election by means of whittling away the requirements for the exercise
therefore regulate said right by imposing statutory disqualifications, with the restriction, however, that of the right to vote. First of all, was the property requirement. There were times in the English
the same do not amount to, as per the second sentence of the provision, a "literacy, property or other constitutional history that it was common to say as an answer to a question, "Who are entitled to vote?"
substantive requirement." Based on its genesis, it may be gleaned that the limitation is geared towards that the following cannot vote - - criminals, paupers, members of the House of Lords. They were landed
the elimination of irrelevant standards that are purely based on socio-economic considerations that have together at the same figurative category.
no bearing on the right of a citizen to intelligently cast his vote and to further the public good.
Eventually, with the wisdom of the times, property requirement was eliminated but the last remaining
To contextualize, the first Philippine Election Law, Act No. 1582, which took effect on January 15, 1907, vestige which bound the members of the community to ignorance, which was the persistence of this
mandated that only men who were at least twenty-three (23) years old and "comprised within one of requirement of literacy remained. And this is again preserved in our Constitution, in our Election Code,
the following three classes" were allowed to vote: (a) those who prior to the 13th of August, 1898, held which provides that those who cannot prepare their ballots themselves shall not be qualified to vote.
the office of municipal captain, governadorcillo, alcalde, lieutenant, cabeza de barangay, or member of
any ayuntamiento; (b) those who own real property to the value of P500.00, or who annually pay P30.00 Unless you remove this literacy test, the cultural minorities, the underprivileged, the urban guerrillas
or more of the established taxes; and (c) those, who speak, read, and write English or Spanish. will forever be outcasts of our society, irresponsive of what is happening. And if this condition were to
continue, my friends, we cannot fully claim that we have representative democracy. Let us reverse the
When the 1935 Constitution was adopted, the minimum voting age was lowered to twenty-one (21) and cycle. Let us eliminate the social imbalance by granting to these persons who are very responsible the
the foregoing class qualification and property requirements were removed.69 However, the literacy right to participate in the choice of the persons who are to make their laws for them. (Emphases
requirement was retained and only men who were able to read and write were given the right to supplied)
vote.70It also made women's right to vote dependent on a plebiscite held for such purpose.71 As clarified on interpellation, the phrase "other substantive requirement" carries the same tack as the
other standards alienating particular classes based on socio-economic considerations irrelevant to
During the 1971 Constitutional Convention, the delegates decided to remove the literacy and property suffrage, such as the payment of taxes. Moreover, as particularly noted and as will be later elaborated
requirements to broaden the political base and discontinue the exclusion of millions of citizens from the on, the phrase did not contemplate any restriction on procedural requirements, such as that of
political systems:72 registration:
Sponsorship Speech of Delegate Manglapus DELEGATE DE LOS REYES: On page 2, Line 3, the following appears:
"For other substantive requirement, no literacy[,] property, or other substantive requirement shall be
DELEGATE MANGLAPUS: Mr. President, the draft proposal, the subject matter of Report No. 11 contains imposed on the exercise of suffrage."
amendments that are designed to improve Article V on suffrage and to broaden the electoral base of our just what is contemplated in the phrase, "substantive requirement?"
country. The three main points that are taken up in this draft which will be developed in the sponsorship
speeches that will follow might need explanatory remarks, x x x. DELEGATE OCCE�A: I can answer that, but it belongs to the sphere of someone else in the Committee.
We use this term as distinguished from procedural requirements. For instance, the law cannot come in
(2) The present requirement, reading and writing, is eliminated and instead a provision is introduced and say that those who should be allowed to vote should have paid certain taxes. That would be a
which says, "No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise substantial requirement in addition to what is provided for in the Constitution. But the law can step in as
of suffrage;" far as certain procedural requirements are concerned like requiring registration, and also step in as far
as these classifications are concerned.73 (Emphases supplied)
The draft before us is in keeping with the trend towards the broadening of the electoral base already As it finally turned out, the imposition of literacy, property, or other substantive requirement was
begun with the lowering of the voting age to 18, and it is in keeping further with the Committee's proscribed and the following provision on suffrage was adopted74 in the 1973 Constitution:
desire to discontinue the alienation and exclusion of millions of citizens from the political system and Section 1. Suffrage shall be exercised by citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who
from participation in the political life of the country. The requirement of literacy for voting is eliminated are eighteen years of age or over, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and
for it is noted that there are very few countries left in the world where literacy remains a condition for in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months preceding the election. No literacy,
voting. There is no Southeast Asian country that imposes this requirement. The United States Supreme property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage. The Batasang
Court only a few months ago declared unconstitutional any state law that would continue to impose this
21

Pambansa shall provide a system for the purpose of securing the secrecy and sanctity of the vote.
(Emphasis supplied) As to the procedural limitation, the right of a citizen to vote is necessarily conditioned upon certain
After deliberating on and eventually, striking down a proposal to exclude literacy requirements from the procedural requirements he must undergo: among others, the process of registration. Specifically, a
limitation,75 the exact provision prohibiting the imposition of "literacy, property, or other substantive citizen in order to be qualified to exercise his right to vote, in addition to the minimum requirements set
requirement[s]" in the 1973 Constitution was fully adopted in the 1987 Constitution. by the fundamental charter, is obliged by law to register, at present, under the provisions of Republic Act
No. 8189, otherwise known as the Voters Registration Act of 1996.82 (Emphasis and underscoring
Along the contours of this limitation then, Congress, pursuant to Section 118 of Batas Pambansa Bilang supplied)
881, or the Omnibus Election Code, among others, imposed the following legal disqualifications: RA 8189 primarily governs the process of registration. It defines "registration" as "the act of
Section 118. Disqualifications. - The following shall be disqualified from voting: accomplishing and filing of a sworn application for registration by a qualified voter before the election
(a) Any person who has been sentenced by final judgment to suffer imprisonment for not less than one officer of the city or municipality wherein he resides and including the same in the book of registered
year, such disability not having been removed by plenary pardon or granted amnesty: Provided, voters upon approval by the [ERB]."83 As stated in Section 2 thereof, RA 8189 was passed in order "to
however, That any person disqualified to vote under this paragraph shall automatically reacquire the systematize the present method of registration in order to establish a clean, complete, permanent and
right to vote upon expiration of five years after service of sentence. updated list of voters."

(b) Any person who has been adjudged by final judgment by competent court or tribunal of having To complement RA 8189 in light of the advances in modern technology, RA 10367, or the assailed
committed any crime involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government such as rebellion, sedition, Biometrics Law, was signed into law in February 2013. It built on the policy considerations behind RA
violation of the anti-subversion and firearms laws, or any crime against national security, unless restored 8189 as it institutionalized biometrics validation as part of the registration process:
to his full civil and political rights in accordance with law: Provided, That he shall regain his right to vote Section 1. Declaration of Policy. - It is the policy of the State to establish a clean, complete, permanent
automatically upon expiration of five years after service of sentence. and updated list of voters through the adoption of biometric technology.
"Biometrics refers to a quantitative analysis that provides a positive identification of an individual such as
(c) Insane or incompetent persons as declared by competent authority. voice, photograph, fingerprint, signature, iris, and/or such other identifiable features."84
A "qualification" is loosely defined as "the possession of qualities, properties (such as fitness or capacity)
inherently or legally necessary to make one eligible for a position or office, or to perform a public duty or Sections 3 and 10 of RA 10367 respectively require registered and new voters to submit themselves for
function."76 biometrics validation:
Section 3. Who Shall Submit for Validation. - Registered voters whose biometrics have not been captured
Properly speaking, the concept of a "qualification", at least insofar as the discourse on suffrage is shall submit themselves for validation.
concerned, should be distinguished from the concept of "registration", which is jurisprudentially
regarded as only the means by which a person's qualifications to vote is determined. In Yra v. Section 10. Mandatory Biometrics Registration. - The Commission shall implement a mandatory
Aba�o,77 citing Meffert v. Brown,78 it was stated that "[t]he act of registering is only one step towards biometrics registration system for new voters.
voting, and it is not one of the elements that makes the citizen a qualified voter [and] one may be a Under Section 2 (d) of RA 10367, "validation" is defined as "the process of taking the biometrics of
qualified voter without exercising the right to vote."79 In said case, this Court definitively characterized registered voters whose biometrics have not yet been captured."
registration as a form of regulation and not as a qualification for the right of suffrage:
Registration regulates the exercise of the right of suffrage. It is not a qualification for such The consequence of non-compliance is "deactivation" which "refers to the removal of the registration
right.80 (Emphasis supplied) record of the registered voter from the corresponding precinct book of voters for failure to comply with
As a form of regulation, compliance with the registration procedure is dutifully enjoined. Section 115 of the validation process as required by [RA 10367]."85 Section 7 states:
the Omnibus Election Code provides: Section 7. Deactivation. - Voters who fail to submit for validation on or before the last day of filing of
Section 115. Necessity of Registration. - In order that a qualified elector may vote in any election, application for registration for purposes of the May 2016 elections shall be deactivated pursuant to this
plebiscite or referendum, he must be registered in the permanent list of voters for the city or Act. (Emphases supplied)
municipality in which he resides. (Emphasis supplied) Notably, the penalty of deactivation, as well as the requirement of validation, neutrally applies to all
Thus, although one is deemed to be a "qualified elector," he must nonetheless still comply with the voters. Thus, petitioners' argument that the law creates artificial class of voters86 is more imagined than
registration procedure in order to vote. real. There is no favor accorded to an "obedient group." If anything, non-compliance by the
"disobedient" only rightfully results into prescribed consequences. Surely, this is beyond the intended
As the deliberations on the 1973 Constitution made clear, registration is a mere procedural requirement mantle of the equal protection of the laws, which only works "against undue favor and individual or class
which does not fall under the limitation that "[n]o literacy, property, or other substantive requirement privilege, as well as hostile discrimination or the oppression of inequality."87
shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage." This was echoed in AKBAYAN-Youth v.
COMELEC81(AKBAYAN-Youth), wherein the Court pronounced that the process of registration is It should also be pointed out that deactivation is not novel to RA 10367. RA 8189 already provides for
a procedural limitation on the right to vote. Albeit procedural, the right of a citizen to vote nevertheless certain grounds for deactivation, of which not only the disqualifications under the Constitution or the
remains conditioned upon it: Omnibus Election are listed.
Needless to say, the exercise of the right of suffrage, as in the enjoyment of all other rights, is subject to Section 27. Deactivation of Registration. The board shall deactivate the registration and remove the
existing substantive and procedural requirements embodied in our Constitution, statute books and other registration records of the following persons from the corresponding precinct book of voters and place
repositories of law. Thus, as to the substantive aspect, Section 1, Article V of the Constitution provides: the same, properly marked and dated in indelible ink, in the inactive file after entering the cause or
causes of deactivation:
22

Thus, unless it is shown that a registration requirement rises to the level of a literacy, property or other
a) Any person who has been sentenced by final judgment to suffer imprisonment for not less than one substantive requirement as contemplated by the Framers of the Constitution - that is, one which
(1) year, such disability not having been removed by plenary pardon or amnesty: Provided, however, propagates a socio-economic standard which is bereft of any rational basis to a person's ability to
That any person disqualified to vote under this paragraph shall automatically reacquire the right to vote intelligently cast his vote and to further the public good - the same cannot be struck down as
upon expiration of five (5) years after service of sentence as certified by the clerks of courts of the unconstitutional, as in this case.
Municipal/Municipal Circuit/Metropolitan/Regional Trial Courts and the Sandiganbayan;
III.
b) Any person who has been adjudged by final judgment by a competent court or tribunal of having
caused/committed any crime involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government such as rebellion, For another, petitioners assert that biometrics validation gravely violates the Constitution, considering
sedition, violation of the anti-subversion and firearms laws, or any crime against national security, unless that, applying the strict scrutiny test, it is not poised with a compelling reason for state regulation and
restored to his full civil and political rights in accordance with law; Provided, That he shall regain his right hence, an unreasonable deprivation of the right to suffrage.89 They cite the case of White Light Corp. v.
to vote automatically upon expiration of five (5) years after service of sentence; City of Manila90 (White Light), wherein the Court stated that the scope of the strict scrutiny test covers
the protection of the right of suffrage.91
c) Any person declared by competent authority to be insane or incompetent unless such disqualification
has been subsequently removed by a declaration of a proper authority that such person is no longer Contrary to petitioners' assertion, the regulation passes the strict scrutiny test.
insane or incompetent;
In terms of judicial review of statutes or ordinances, strict scrutiny refers to the standard for determining
d) Any person who did not vote in the two (2) successive preceding regular elections as shown by their the quality and the amount of governmental interest brought to justify the regulation of fundamental
voting records. For this purpose, regular elections do not include the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) freedoms. Strict scrutiny is used today to test the validity of laws dealing with the regulation of speech,
elections; gender, or race as well as other fundamental rights as expansion from its earlier applications to equal
protection.92 As pointed out by petitioners, the United States Supreme Court has expanded the scope of
e) Any person whose registration has been ordered excluded by the Court; and strict scrutiny to protect fundamental rights such as suffrage, judicial access, and interstate travel.93

f) Any person who has lost his Filipino citizenship. Applying strict scrutiny, the focus is on the presence of compelling, rather than substantial,
governmental interest and on the absence of less restrictive means for achieving that interest,94 and
For this purpose, the clerks of court for the Municipal/Municipal ( Circuit/Metropolitan/Regional Trial the burden befalls upon the State to prove the same.95
Courts and the Sandiganbayan shall furnish the Election Officer of the city or municipality concerned at
the end of each month a certified list of persons who are disqualified under paragraph (a) hereof, with In this case, respondents have shown that the biometrics validation requirement under RA 10367
their addresses. The Commission may request a certified list of persons who have lost their Filipino advances a compelling state interest. It was precisely designed to facilitate the conduct of orderly,
Citizenship or declared as insane or incompetent with their addresses from other government agencies. honest, and credible elections by containing - if not eliminating, the perennial problem of having flying
voters, as well as dead and multiple registrants. According to the sponsorship speech of Senator Aquilino
The Election Officer shall post in the bulletin board of his office a certified list of those persons whose L. Pimentel III, the objective of the law was to cleanse the national voter registry so as to eliminate
registration were deactivated and the reasons therefor, and furnish copies thereof to the local heads of electoral fraud and ensure that the results of the elections were truly reflective of the genuine will of the
political parties, the national central file, provincial file, and the voter concerned. people.96 The foregoing consideration is unquestionably a compelling state interest.
With these considerations in mind, petitioners' claim that biometrics validation imposed under RA
10367, and implemented under COMELEC Resolution Nos. 9721, 9863, and 10013, must perforce fail. To Also, it was shown that the regulation is the least restrictive means for achieving the above-said interest.
reiterate, this requirement is not a "qualification" to the exercise of the right of suffrage, but a mere Section 697 of Resolution No. 9721 sets the procedure for biometrics validation, whereby the registered
aspect of the registration procedure, of which the State has the right to reasonably regulate. It was voter is only required to: (a) personally appear before the Office of the Election Officer; (b) present a
institutionalized conformant to the limitations of the 1987 Constitution and is a mere complement to the competent evidence of identity; and (c) have his photo, signature, and fingerprints recorded. It is, in
existing Voter's Registration Act of 1996. Petitioners would do well to be reminded of this Court's effect, a manner of updating one's registration for those already registered under RA 8189, or a first-
pronouncement in AKBAYAN-Youth, wherein it was held that: time registration for new registrants. The re-registration process is amply justified by the fact that the
[T]he act of registration is an indispensable precondition to the right of suffrage. For registration is part government is adopting a novel technology like biometrics in order to address the bane of electoral
and parcel of the right to vote and an indispensable element in the election process. Thus, contrary to fraud that has enduringly plagued the electoral exercises in this country. While registrants may be
petitioners' argument, registration cannot and should not be denigrated to the lowly stature of a mere inconvenienced by waiting in long lines or by not being accommodated on certain days due to heavy
statutory requirement. Proceeding from the significance of registration as a necessary requisite to the volume of work, these are typical burdens of voting that are remedied by bureaucratic improvements to
right to vote, the State undoubtedly, in the exercise of its inherent police power, may then enact laws be implemented by the COMELEC as an administrative institution. By and large, the COMELEC has not
to safeguard and regulate the act of voter's registration for the ultimate purpose of conducting honest, turned a blind eye to these realities. It has tried to account for the exigencies by holding continuous
orderly and peaceful election, to the incidental yet generally important end, that even pre-election registration as early as May 6, 2014 until October 31, 2015, or for over a period of 18 months. To make
activities could be performed by the duly constituted authorities in a realistic and orderly manner - one the validation process as convenient as possible, the COMELEC even went to the extent of setting up off-
which is not indifferent, and so far removed from the pressing order of the day and the prevalent site and satellite biometrics registration in shopping malls and conducted the same on
circumstances of the times.88 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Sundays.98Moreover, it deserves mentioning that RA 10367 and Resolution No. 9721 did not mandate
registered voters to submit themselves to validation every time there is an election. In fact, it only
23

required the voter to undergo the validation process one (1) time, which shall remain effective in
succeeding elections, provided that he remains an active voter. To add, the failure to validate did not Petitioners aver that the poor experience of other countries - i.e., Guatemala, Britain, Cote d'lvoire,
preclude deactivated voters from exercising their right to vote in the succeeding elections. To rectify Uganda, and Kenya - in implementing biometrics registration should serve as warning in adhering to the
such status, they could still apply for reactivation99 following the procedure laid down in Section 28100 of system. They highlighted the inherent difficulties in launching the same such as environmental and
RA 8189. geographical challenges, lack of training and skills, mechanical breakdown, and the need for re-
registration. They even adrnitted that while biometrics may address electoral fraud caused by multiple
That being said, the assailed regulation on the right to suffrage was sufficiently justified as it was indeed registrants, it does not, however, solve other election-related problems such as vote-buying and source-
narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling state interest of establishing a clean, complete, permanent code manipulation.110
and updated list of voters, and was demonstrably the least restrictive means in promoting that
interest.101 Aside from treading on mere speculation, the insinuations are improper. Clearly, petitioners' submissions
principally assail the wisdom of the legislature in adopting the biometrics registration system in curbing
IV. electoral fraud. In this relation, it is significant to point out that questions relating to the wisdom,
morality, or practicability of statutes are policy matters that should not be addressed to the judiciary. As
Petitioners further aver that RA 10367 and the COMELEC Resolution Nos. 9721, 9863, and 10013 violate elucidated in the case of Fari�as v. The Executive Secretary:111
the tenets of procedural due process because of the short periods of time between hearings and notice, [P]olicy matters are not the concern of the Court. Government policy is within the exclusive dominion of
and the summary nature of the deactivation proceedings.102 the political branches of the government. It is not for this Court to look into the wisdom or propriety of
legislative determination. Indeed, whether an enactment is wise or unwise, whether it is based on
Petitioners are mistaken. sound economic theory, whether it is the best means to achieve the desired results, whether, in short,
the legislative discretion within its prescribed limits should be exercised in a particular manner are
At the outset, it should be pointed out that the COMELEC, through Resolution No. 10013, had directed matters for the judgment of the legislature, and the serious, conflict of opinions does not suffice to bring
EOs to: (a) "[p]ost the lists of voters without biometrics data in the bulletin boards of the City/Municipal them within the range of judicial cognizance.112 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
hall, Office of the Election Officer and in the barangay hall along with the notice of ERB hearing;" and (b) In the exercise of its legislative power, Congress has a wide latitude of discretion to enact laws, such as
[s]end individual notices to the affected voters included in the generated list of voters without RA 10367, to combat electoral fraud which, in this case, was through the establishment of an updated
biometrics data.103 The same Resolution also accords concerned individuals the opportunity to file their voter registry. In making such choices to achieve its desired result, Congress has necessarily sifted
opposition/objection to the deactivation of VRRs not later than November 9, 2015 in accordance with through the policy's wisdom, which this Court has no authority to review, much less reverse.113 Whether
the period prescribed in Section 4,104 Chapter I, Resolution No. 9853. Meanwhile, Resolution Nos. 9721 RA 10367 was wise or unwise, or was the best means in curtailing electoral fraud is a question that does
and 9863 respectively state that "[d]eactivation x x x shall comply with the requirements on posting, ERB not present a justiciable issue cognizable by the courts. Indeed, the reason behind the legislature's
hearing and service of individual notices to the deactivated voters,"105 and that the "Reactivation for choice of adopting biometrics registration notwithstanding the experience of foreign countries, the
cases falling under this ground shall be made during the November 16, 2015 Board hearing."106 While the difficulties in its implementation, or its concomitant failure to address equally pressing election
proceedings are summary in nature, the urgency of finalizing the voters' list for the upcoming May 2016 problems, is essentially a policy question and, hence, beyond the pale of judicial scrutiny.
Elections calls for swift and immediate action on the deactivation of VRRs of voters who fail to comply
with the mandate of RA 10367. After all, in the preparation for the May 2016 National and Local VI.
Elections, time is of the essence. The summary nature of the proceedings does not depart from the fact
that petitioners were given the opportunity to be heard. Finally, petitioners' proffer that Resolution No. 9863 which fixed the deadline for validation on October
31, 2015 violates Section 8 of RA 8189 which states:
Relatedly, it deserves emphasis that the public has been sufficiently informed of the implementation of Section 8. System of Continuing Registration of Voters. - The personal filing of application of registration
RA 10367 and its deactivation feature. RA 10367 was duly published as early as February 22, 2013,107 and of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the Election Officer during regular office hours. No
took effect fifteen (15) days after.108 Accordingly, dating to the day of its publications, all are bound to registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days
know the terms of its provisions, including the consequences of non-compliance. As implemented, the before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election. (Emphasis added.)
process of biometrics validation commenced on July 1, 2013, or approximately two and a half (2 1/2) The position is, once more, wrong.
years before the October 31, 2015 deadline. To add, the COMELEC conducted a massive public
information campaign, i.e., NoBio-NoBoto, from May 2014 until October 31, 2015, or a period of Aside from committing forum shopping by raising this issue despite already being subject of a prior
eighteen (18) months, whereby voters were reminded to update and validate their registration records. petition filed before this Court, i.e., G.R. No. 220918,114 petitioners fail to consider that the 120- and 90-
On top of that, the COMELEC exerted efforts to make the validation process more convenient for the day periods stated therein refer to the prohibitive period beyond which voter registration may no longer
public as it enlisted the assistance of malls across Metro Manila to serve as satellite registration centers be conducted. As already resolved in this Court's Resolution dated December 8, 2015 in G.R. No. 220918,
and declared Sundays as working days for COMELEC offices within the National Capital Region and in the subject provision does not mandate COMELEC to conduct voter registration up to such time; rather,
highly urbanized cities.109 Considering these steps, the Court finds that the public has been sufficiently it only provides a period which may not be reduced, but may be extended depending on the
apprised of the implementation of RA 10367, and its penalty of deactivation in case of failure to comply. administrative necessities and other exigencies.115 Verily, as the constitutional body tasked to enforce
Thus, there was no violation of procedural due process. and implement election laws, the COMELEC has the power to promulgate the necessary rules and
regulations to fulfil its mandate.116 Perforce, this power includes the determination of the periods to
V. accomplish certain pre-election acts,117 such as voter registration.
24

At this conclusory juncture, this Court reiterates that voter registration does not begin and end with the ISSUES:
filing of applications which, in reality, is just the initial phase that must be followed by the approval of
applications by the ERB.118 Thereafter, the process of filing petitions for inclusion and exclusion follows. Whether or not the statutory requirement of biometrics validation is an unconstitutional requirement of
These steps are necessary for the generation of the1 final list of voters which, in turn, is a pre-requisite literacy and property.
for the preparation and completion of the Project of Precincts (POP) that is vital for the actual elections.
The POP contains the number of registered voters in each precinct and clustered precinct, the names of
Whether or not biometrics validation passes the strict scrutiny test.
the barangays, municipalities, cities, provinces, legislative districts, and regions included in the precincts,
and the names and locations of polling centers where each precinct and clustered precinct are
assigned.119 The POP is necessary to determine the total number of boards of election inspectors to be Whether or not Resolution No. 9863 which fixed the deadline for validation on October 31, 2015 violates
constituted, the allocation of forms and supplies to be procured for the election day, the number of vote Section 8 of RA 8189.
counting machines and other paraphernalia to be deployed, and the budget needed. More importantly,
the POP will be used as the basis for the fmalization of the Election Management System (EMS) which HELD:
generates the templates of the official ballots and determines the voting jurisdiction of legislative
districts, cities, municipalities, and provinces.120 The EMS determines the configuration of the canvassing FIRST ISSUE:
and consolidation system for each voting jurisdiction. Accordingly, as the constitutional body specifically
charged with the enforcement and administration of all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of No. The Court held that biometrics validation is not a “qualification” to the exercise of the right of
an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall,121 the COMELEC should be given sufficient
suffrage, but a mere aspect of the registration procedure, of which the State has the right to reasonably
leeway in accounting for the exigencies of the upcoming elections. In fine, its measures therefor should
be respected, unless it is clearly shown that the same are devoid of any reasonable justification. regulate.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED due to lack of merit. The temporary restraining order issued by The Court reiterated their ruling in several cases that registration regulates the exercise of the right of
this Court on December 1, 2015 is consequently DISSOLVED. suffrage. It is not a qualification for such right. The process of registration is a procedural limitation on
the right to vote.
SO ORDERED.
Thus, although one is deemed to be a “qualified elector,” he must nonetheless still comply with the
TOPIC: Biometrics validation
registration procedure in order to vote.

FACTS:
Thus, unless it is shown that a registration requirement rises to the level of a literacy, property or other
substantive requirement as contemplated by the Framers of the Constitution -that is, one which
RA 10367 mandates the COMELEC to implement a mandatory biometrics registration system for new
propagates a socio-economic standard which is bereft of any rational basis to a person’s ability to
voters in order to establish a clean, complete, permanent, and updated list of voters through the
intelligently cast his vote and to further the public good -the same cannot be struck down as
adoption of biometric technology.
unconstitutional, as in this case.
RA 10367 likewise directs that “registered voters whose biometrics have not been captured shall submit
SECOND ISSUE:
themselves for validation.” “Voters who fail to submit for validation on or before the last day of filing of
application for registration for purposes of the May 2016 elections shall be deactivated.
Yes. In applying strict scrutiny, the focus is on the presence of compelling, rather than substantial,
governmental interest and on the absence of less restrictive means for achieving that interest, and the
COMELEC issued Resolution No. 9721 as amended by Resolutions No. 9863 and 10013. Among others,
burden befalls upon the State to prove the same.
the said Resolution provides that: “the registration records of voters without biometrics data who failed
to submit for validation on or before the last day of filing of applications for registration for the purpose
Presence of compelling state interest
of the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections shall be deactivated.
Respondents have shown that the biometrics validation requirement under RA 10367 advances a
Herein petitioners filed the instant petition with application for temporary restraining order (TRO)
compelling state interest. It was precisely designed to facilitate the conduct of orderly, honest, and
and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction (WPI) assailing the constitutionality of the biometrics
credible elections by containing -if not eliminating, the perennial problem of having flying voters, as well
validation requirement imposed under RA 10367, as well as COMELEC Resolution Nos. 9721, 9863, and
as dead and multiple registrants. The foregoing consideration is unquestionably a compelling state
10013, all related thereto.
interest.

Biometrics validation is the least restrictive means for achieving the above-said interest
25

Section 6 of Resolution No. 9721 sets the procedure for biometrics validation, whereby the registered
voter is only required to: (a) personally appear before the Office of the Election Officer; (b) present a
competent evidence of identity; and (c) have his photo, signature, and fingerprints recorded.

Moreover, RA 10367 and Resolution No. 9721 did not mandate registered voters to submit themselves
to validation every time there is an election. In fact, it only required the voter to undergo the validation
process one (1) time, which shall remain effective in succeeding elections, provided that he remains an
active voter.

Lastly, the failure to validate did not preclude deactivated voters from exercising their right to vote in the
succeeding elections. To rectify such status, they could still apply for reactivation.

THIRD ISSUE:

No. Section 8 of RA 8189 provides that:

System of Continuing Registration of Voters. – x x x No registration shall, however, be conducted during


the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before
a special election.

The Court held that the 120-and 90-day periods stated therein refer to the prohibitive period beyond
which voter registration may no longer be conducted. The subject provision does not mandate COMELEC
to conduct voter registration up to such time; rather, it only provides a period which may not be
reduced, but may be extended depending on the administrative necessities and other exigencies.
26

EN BANC SO ORDERED.10 (Emphasis supplied.)

G.R. No. 190793 June 19, 2012 On 3 November 2009, MAGDALO filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was elevated to the
COMELEC En Banc for resolution.11
MAGDALO PARA SA PAGBABAGO, Petitioner,
vs. Meanwhile, on 27 November 2009, MAGDALO filed a Manifestation of Intent to Participate in the Party-
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondent. List System of Representation in the 10 May 2010 Elections (Manifestation of Intent), in which it stated
that its membership includes "[f]ormer members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Anti-
Corruption Advocates, Reform-minded citizens."12 Thereafter, on 30 November 2009, it filed its Amended
DECISION
Manifestation, which bore the following footnote: 13

SERENO, J.:
With all due respect to the Honorable Commission, the MAGDALO PARA SA PAGBABAGO ("MAGDALO")
manifests that the instant MANIFESTATION is being filed ex abutanti (sic) cautelam (out of the
Before this Court is a Petition for Certiorari pursuant to Rule 37, Section 1 of the Commission of Elections abundance of caution) only and subject to the outcome of the resolution of the Motion for
(COMELEC) Rules of Procedure,1 in relation to Rules 64 and 65 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Reconsideration filed by Magdalo in SPP No. 09-073 (PP) from the Resolution dated 26 October 2009 of
Resolutions dated 26 October 2009 and 4 January 2010 issued by the COMELEC in SPP Case No. 09-073 the Second Division of the Honorable Commission denying its Petition for Registration/Accreditation as a
(PP).2 Political Party based in the National Capital Region [NCR], which motion is still pending the (sic)
Honorable Commission En Banc. It is not in any way intended to preempt the ruling of the Honorable
On 2 July 2009, Petitioner Magdalo sa Pagbabago (MAGDALO) filed its Petition for Registration with the Commission but merely to preserve the possibility of pursuing the Party’s participation in the Party-List
COMELEC, seeking its registration and/or accreditation as a regional political party based in the National System of Representation in the eventuality that their Petition is approved.
Capital Region (NCR) for participation in the 10 May 2010 National and Local Elections.3 In the Petition,
MAGDALO was represented by its Chairperson, Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, and its Secretary General, Thereafter, MAGDALO filed a Manifestation and Motion for Early Resolution dated 23 December 2009, in
Francisco Ashley L. Acedillo (Acedillo).4 The Petition was docketed as SPP No. 09-073 (PP) and raffled to which it clarified its intention to participate in the 10 May 2010 National and Local Elections as a party-
the Second Division of the COMELEC (COMELEC–Second Division).5 list group.14

In its Order dated 24 August 2009, the COMELEC–Second Division directed MAGDALO to cause the In its assailed Resolution dated 4 January 2010, the COMELEC En Banc denied the Motion for
publication of the Petition for Registration and the said Order in three daily newspapers of general Reconsideration filed by MAGDALO.15
circulation, and set the hearing thereof on 3 September 2009.6 In compliance therewith, MAGDALO
caused the publication of both documents in HATAW! No. 1 sa Balita, Saksi sa Balita and BOMBA BALITA
In the instant Petition, MAGDALO argues that (a) the COMELEC Resolutions were not based on the
(Saksi sa Katotohanan).7
record or evidence presented; (b) the Resolutions preempted the decision of the trial court in Criminal
Case No. 03-2784, in which several members of the military are being tried for their involvement in the
On 3 September 2009, a hearing was conducted in which MAGDALO (a) established its compliance with siege of the Oakwood Premier Apartments (Oakwood); and (c) it has expressly renounced the use of
the jurisdictional requirements; (b) presented Acedillo as its witness; and (c) marked its documentary force, violence and other forms of unlawful means to achieve its goals. Thus, MAGDALO prays for this
evidence in support of its Petition for Registration. The following day, MAGDALO filed its Formal Offer of Court to: (a) reverse and set aside the 26 October 2009 and 4 January 2010 COMELEC Resolutions; (b)
Evidence.8 grant its Petition for Registration; and (c) direct the COMELEC to issue a Certificate of Registration.16 The
Petition likewise includes a prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), Writ of
On 26 October 2009, the COMELEC–Second Division issued its Resolution denying the Petition for Preliminary Mandatory Injunction and/or Injunctive Relief to direct the COMELEC to allow MAGDALO to
Registration filed by MAGDALO.9 The relevant portions of the assailed Resolution read: participate in the 10 May 2010 National and Local Elections.17 However, this Court denied the issuance of
a TRO in its Resolution dated 2 February 2010.18

Magdalo Para sa Pagbabago should be refused registration in accordance with Art. IX-C, Section 2(5) of
the Constitution. It is common knowledge that the party’s organizer and Chairman, Senator Antonio F. To support the grant of reliefs prayed for, MAGDALO puts forward the following arguments:
Trillanes IV, and some members participated in the take-over of the Oakwood Premier Apartments in
Ayala Center, Makati City on July 27, 2003, wherein several innocent civilian personnel were held The findings of the assailed resolutions on the basis of which the Petition was denied are based on pure
hostage. This and the fact that they were in full battle gear at the time of the mutiny clearly show their speculation. The Resolutions speculated as to the alleged motives and/or intentions of the founders of
purpose in employing violence and using unlawful means to achieve their goals in the process defying petitioner Magdalo, which claims are not based on evidence but on mere conjecture and pure baseless
the laws of organized societies. x x x presuppositions;

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Petition is hereby DENIED.


27

The assailed Resolutions effectively preempted the court trying the case. The subject Resolutions unfairly case at bar, it remains prudent to examine the issues raised and resolve the arising legal questions once
jumped to the conclusion that the founders of the Magdalo "committed mutiny", "held innocent civilian and for all.
personnel as hostage", "employed violence" and "use[d] unlawful means" and "in the process defied the
laws of organized society" purportedly during the Oakwood incident when even the court trying their
Having established that this Court can exercise its power of judicial review, the issue for resolution is
case, [Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Makati City], Branch 148, has not yet decided
whether the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it denied the Petition for Registration filed by
the case against them;
MAGDALO on the ground that the latter seeks to achieve its goals through violent or unlawful means.
This Court rules in the negative, but without prejudice to MAGDALO’s filing anew of a Petition for
– and – Registration.

The Resolution violates the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of founders of the Magdalo The COMELEC has a constitutional and statutory mandate to ascertain the eligibility of parties and
and their basic right of to [sic] due process of law.19 organizations to participate in electoral contests. The relevant portions of the 1987 Constitution read:

On the other hand, the COMELEC asserts that it had the power to ascertain the eligibility of MAGDALO ARTICLE VI – LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT
for registration and accreditation as a political party.20 It contends that this determination, as well as that
of assessing whether MAGDALO advocates the use of force, would entail the evaluation of evidence,
Section 5. (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty
which cannot be reviewed by this Court in a petition for certiorari.21
members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned
among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their
However, MAGDALO maintains that although it concedes that the COMELEC has the authority to assess respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided
whether parties applying for registration possess all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties
under the applicable law, the latter nevertheless committed grave abuse of discretion in basing its or organizations.
determination on pure conjectures instead of on the evidence on record.22
ARTICLE IX – CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSIONS
Preliminary to the examination of the substantive issues, it must be discussed whether this case has
been rendered moot and academic by the conduct of the 10 May 2010 National and Local Elections.
C. The Commission on Elections
Although the subject Petition for Registration filed by MAGDALO was intended for the elections on even
date, it specifically asked for accreditation as a regional political party for purposes of subsequent
elections.23 Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:

Moreover, even assuming that the registration was only for the 10 May 2010 National and Local (5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or coalitions which, in addition
Elections, this case nevertheless comes under the exceptions to the rules on mootness, as explained in to other requirements, must present their platform or program of government; and accredit citizens’
David v. Macapagal-Arroyo:24 arms of the Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and sects shall not be registered. Those
which seek to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to
this Constitution, or which are supported by any foreign government shall likewise be refused
A moot and academic case is one that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of
registration. x x x. (Emphasis supplied.)
supervening events, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical use or value. Generally,
courts decline jurisdiction over such case or dismiss it on ground of mootness.
Echoing these constitutional provisions, Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 (BP 881), otherwise known as the
Omnibus Election Code, states:
The "moot and academic" principle is not a magical formula that can automatically dissuade the courts in
resolving a case. Courts will decide cases, otherwise moot and academic, if: first, there is a grave
violation of the Constitution; second, the exceptional character of the situation and the paramount Sec. 60. Political party. – "Political party" or "party," when used in this Act, means an organized group of
public interest is involved; third, when [the] constitutional issue raised requires formulation of persons pursuing the same ideology, political ideals or platforms of government and includes its
controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and fourth, the case is capable of branches and divisions. To acquire juridical personality, qualify it for subsequent accreditation, and to
repetition yet evading review.25 (Emphasis supplied.) entitle it to the rights and privileges herein granted to political parties, a political party shall first be
duly registered with the Commission. Any registered political party that, singly or in coalition with
others, fails to obtain at least ten percent of the votes cast in the constituency in which it nominated and
The second and fourth exceptions are clearly present in the case at bar. The instant action brings to the
supported a candidate or candidates in the election next following its registration shall, after notice and
fore matters of public concern, as it challenges the very notion of the use of violence or unlawful means
hearing, be deemed to have forfeited such status as a registered political party in such constituency.
as a ground for disqualification from party registration. Moreover, considering the expressed intention of
MAGDALO to join subsequent elections, as well as the occurrence of supervening events pertinent to the
28

Sec. 61. Registration. – Any organized group of persons seeking registration as a national or regional MAGDALO contends that it was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to have denied the Petition
political party may file with the Commission a verified petition attaching thereto its constitution and by- for Registration not on the basis of facts or evidence on record, but on mere speculation and
laws, platforms or program of government and such other relevant information as may be required by conjectures.28 This argument cannot be given any merit.
the Commission. The Commission shall after due notice and hearing, resolve the petition within ten days
from the date it is submitted for decision. No religious sect shall be registered as a political party and no
Under the Rules of Court, judicial notice may be taken of matters that are of "public knowledge, or are
political party which seeks to achieve its goal through violence shall be entitled to
capable of unquestionable demonstration."29 Further, Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the
accreditation. (Emphasis supplied.)
Revised Administrative Code, specifically empowers administrative agencies to admit and give probative
value to evidence commonly acceptable by reasonably prudent men, and to take notice of judicially
On the other hand, Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, reads in part: cognizable facts.30 Thus, in Saludo v. American Express,31 this Court explained as follows:

Section 2. Declaration of policy. The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of The concept of "facts of common knowledge" in the context of judicial notice has been explained as
representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, those facts that are "so commonly known in the community as to make it unprofitable to require proof,
regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens and so certainly known x x x as to make it indisputable among reasonable men."32
belonging to marginalized and under-represented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-
defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of
This Court has, in a string of cases, already taken judicial notice of the factual circumstances surrounding
appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of
the Oakwood standoff. 33 The incident involved over 300 heavily armed military officers and enlisted men
Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party
– led by the founding members of MAGDALO – who surreptitiously took over Oakwood in the wee hours
system in order to attain the broadcast possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in
of 27 July 2003. They disarmed the security guards and planted explosive devices around the building
the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature,
and within its vicinity. They aired their grievances against the administration of former President Gloria
and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.
Macapagal-Arroyo (former President Arroyo), withdrew their support from the government, and called
for her resignation, as well as that of her cabinet members and of the top officials of the Philippine
Section 3. Definition of Terms. (a) The party-list system is a mechanism of proportional representation in National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). After the ensuing negotiations for
the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral these military agents to lay down their weapons, defuse the explosives and return to the barracks, the
parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). debacle came to a close at 11:00 p.m. on the same day.34 That the Oakwood incident was widely known
Component parties or organizations of a coalition may participate independently provided the coalition and extensively covered by the media made it a proper subject of judicial notice. Thus, the COMELEC did
of which they form part does not participate in the party-list system. (Emphasis supplied.) not commit grave abuse of discretion when it treated these facts as public knowledge,35 and took
cognizance thereof without requiring the introduction and reception of evidence thereon.
Thus, to join electoral contests, a party or organization must undergo the two-step process of
registration and accreditation, as this Court explained in Liberal Party v. COMELEC:26 B. The COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in finding that MAGDALO uses violence or
unlawful means to achieve its goals.
x x x Registration is the act that bestows juridical personality for purposes of our election laws;
accreditation, on the other hand, relates to the privileged participation that our election laws grant to In the instant Petition, MAGDALO claims that it did not resort to violence when it took over Oakwood
qualified registered parties. because (a) no one, either civilian or military, was held hostage; (b) its members immediately evacuated
the guests and staff of the hotel; and (c) not a single shot was fired during the incident.36 These
arguments present a very narrow interpretation of the concepts of violence and unlawful means, and
x x x Accreditation can only be granted to a registered political party, organization or coalition; stated
downplays the threat of violence displayed by the soldiers during the takeover.
otherwise, a registration must first take place before a request for accreditation can be made. Once
registration has been carried out, accreditation is the next natural step to follow.27 (Emphasis supplied.)
Under Article IX-C, Section 2(5) of the 1987 Constitution, parties, organizations and coalitions that "seek
to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means" shall be denied registration. This
Considering the constitutional and statutory authority of the COMELEC to ascertain the eligibility of
disqualification is reiterated in Section 61 of B.P. 881, which provides that "no political party which seeks
parties or organizations seeking registration and accreditation, the pertinent question now is whether its
to achieve its goal through violence shall be entitled to accreditation."
exercise of this discretion was so capricious or whimsical as to amount to lack of jurisdiction. In view of
the facts available to the COMELEC at the time it issued its assailed Resolutions, this Court rules that
respondent did not commit grave abuse of discretion. Violence is the unjust or unwarranted exercise of force, usually with the accompaniment of vehemence,
outrage or fury.37 It also denotes physical force unlawfully exercised; abuse of force; that force which is
employed against common right, against the laws, and against public liberty.38 On the other hand, an
A. The COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in taking judicial notice of the Oakwood
unlawful act is one that is contrary to law and need not be a crime, considering that the latter must still
incident.
unite with evil intent for it to exist.39
29

In the present case, the Oakwood incident was one that was attended with violence. As publicly As an administrative proceeding, the evidentiary bar against which the evidence at hand is measured is
announced by the leaders of MAGDALO during the siege, their objectives were to express their not the highest quantum of proof beyond reasonable doubt, requiring moral certainty to support
dissatisfaction with the administration of former President Arroyo, and to divulge the alleged corruption affirmative findings. Instead, the lowest standard of substantial evidence, that is, such relevant evidence
in the military and the supposed sale of arms to enemies of the state.40 Ultimately, they wanted the as a reasonable mind will accept as adequate to support a conclusion, applies.48 (Emphasis omitted.)
President, her cabinet members, and the top officials of the AFP and the PNP to resign.41 To achieve
these goals, MAGDALO opted to seize a hotel occupied by civilians, march in the premises in full battle
In the case at bar, the challenged COMELEC Resolutions were issued pursuant to its administrative
gear with ammunitions, and plant explosives in the building. These brash methods by which MAGDALO
power to evaluate the eligibility of groups to join the elections as political parties, for which the
opted to ventilate the grievances of its members and withdraw its support from the government
evidentiary threshold of substantial evidence is applicable. In finding that MAGDALO resorts to violence
constituted clear acts of violence.
or unlawful acts to fulfil its organizational objectives, the COMELEC did not render an assessment as to
whether the members of petitioner committed crimes, as respondent was not required to make that
The assertions of MAGDALO that no one was held hostage or that no shot was fired42 do not mask its use determination in the first place. Its evaluation was limited only to examining whether MAGDALO
of impelling force to take over and sustain the occupation of Oakwood. Neither does its express possessed all the necessary qualifications and none of disqualifications for registration as a political
renunciation of the use of force, violence and other unlawful means in its Petition for Registration and party. In arriving at its assailed ruling, the COMELEC only had to assess whether there was substantial
Program of Government43 obscure the actual circumstances surrounding the encounter. The deliberate evidence adequate to support this conclusion.
brandishing of military power, which included the show of force, use of full battle gear, display of
ammunitions, and use of explosive devices, engendered an alarming security risk to the public. At the
On the other hand, Criminal Case No. 03-2784 is a criminal action charging members of MAGDALO with
very least, the totality of these brazen acts fomented a threat of violence that preyed on the
coup d’état following the events that took place during the Oakwood siege. As it is a criminal case, proof
vulnerability of civilians. The COMELEC did not, therefore, commit grave abuse of discretion when it
beyond reasonable doubt is necessary. Therefore, although the registration case before the COMELEC
treated the Oakwood standoff as a manifestation of the predilection of MAGDALO for resorting to
and the criminal case before the trial court may find bases in the same factual circumstances, they
violence or threats thereof in order to achieve its objectives.
nevertheless involve entirely separate and distinct issues requiring different evidentiary thresholds. The
COMELEC correctly ruled thus:
C. The finding that MAGDALO seeks to achieve its goals through violence or unlawful means did not
operate as a prejudgment of Criminal Case No. 03-2784.
It is at once apparent that that [sic] the proceedings in and the consequent findings of the Commission
(Second Division) in the subject resolution did not pre-empt the trial and decision of the court hearing
MAGDALO contends that the finding of the COMELEC that the former pursues its goals through violence the cases of the Magdalo members. These are two different processes. The proceedings in the
or unlawful means was tantamount to an unwarranted verdict of guilt for several crimes, which in effect, Commission is [sic] a petition for registration of Magdalo as a political party and the Commission is
preempted the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 03-2784 and violated the right to presumption of empowered to ascertain facts and circumstances relative to this case. It is not criminal in nature unlike
innocence.44 This argument cannot be sustained. the court case of the Magdalo founders. Thus, the Second Division did not violate the right of the
Magdalo founders to be presumed innocent until proven guilty when it promulgated the questioned
resolution. There is likewise no violation of due process. Accreditation as a political party is not a right
The power vested by Article IX-C, Section 2(5) of the Constitution and Section 61 of BP 881 in the
but only a privilege given to groups who have qualified and met the requirements provided by law.49
COMELEC to register political parties and ascertain the eligibility of groups to participate in the elections
is purely administrative in character.45 In exercising this authority, the COMELEC only has to assess
whether the party or organization seeking registration or accreditation pursues its goals by employing It is unmistakable from the above reasons that the ruling of the COMELEC denying the Petition for
acts considered as violent or unlawful, and not necessarily criminal in nature. Although this process does Registration filed by MAGDALO has not, as respondent could not have, preempted Criminal Case No. 03-
not entail any determination of administrative liability, as it is only limited to the evaluation of 2784 or violated the right of petitioner’s members to a presumption of innocence.
qualifications for registration, the ruling of this Court in Quarto v. Marcelo46 is nonetheless analogously
applicable:
Subsequent Grant of Amnesty to the Military Personnel involved in the Oakwood standoff

An administrative case is altogether different from a criminal case, such that the disposition in the
It must be clarified that the foregoing discussion finding the absence of grave abuse of discretion on the
former does not necessarily result in the same disposition for the latter, although both may arise from
part of the COMELEC is based on the facts available to it at the time it issued the assailed 26 October
the same set of facts. The most that we can read from the finding of liability is that the respondents have
2009 and 4 January 2010 Resolutions. It is crucial to make this qualification, as this Court recognizes the
been found to be administratively guilty by substantial evidence – the quantum of proof required in an
occurrence of supervening events that could have altered the COMELEC’s evaluation of the Petition for
administrative proceeding. The requirement of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure…that the
Registration filed by MAGDALO. The assessment of the COMELEC could have changed, had these
proposed witness should not appear to be the "most guilty" is obviously in line with the character and
incidents taken place before the opportunity to deny the Petition arose. In the same manner that this
purpose of a criminal proceeding, and the much stricter standards observed in these cases. They are
Court takes cognizance of the facts surrounding the Oakwood incident, it also takes judicial notice of the
standards entirely different from those applicable in administrative proceedings.47(Emphasis supplied.)
grant of amnesty in favor of the soldiers who figured in this standoff.

Further, there is a well-established distinction between the quantum of proof required for administrative
This Court, in People v. Patriarca,50 explained the concept of amnesty, to wit:
proceedings and that for criminal actions, to wit:
30

Amnesty commonly denotes a general pardon to rebels for their treason or other high political offenses, SECTION 4. Effects. – (a) Amnesty pursuant to this proclamation shall extinguish any criminal liability for
or the forgiveness which one sovereign grants to the subjects of another, who have offended, by some acts committed in connection, incident or related to the July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February
breach, the law of nations. Amnesty looks backward, and abolishes and puts into oblivion, the offense 2006 Marines Stand-Off and the November 29, 2007 Peninsula Manila Hotel Incident without prejudice
itself; it so overlooks and obliterates the offense with which he is charged, that the person released by to the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons.
amnesty stands before the law precisely as though he had committed no offense.
(b) Except as provided below, the grant of amnesty shall effect the restoration of civil and
In the case of People vs. Casido, the difference between pardon and amnesty is given: political rights or entitlement of grantees that may have been suspended, lost or adversely
affected by virtue of any executive, administrative or criminal action or proceedings against
the grantee in connection with the subject incidents, including criminal conviction or (sic) any
"Pardon is granted by the Chief Executive and as such it is a private act which must be pleaded and
form, if any.
proved by the person pardoned, because the courts take no notice thereof; while amnesty by
Proclamation of the Chief Executive with the concurrence of Congress, is a public act of which the courts
should take judicial notice. x x x"51 (Emphasis supplied.) (c) All enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the rank of up to
Technical Sergeant and personnel of the PNP with the rank of up to Senior Police Officer 3,
whose applications for amnesty would be approved shall be entitled to reintegration or
Pursuant to Article VII, Section 19 of the Constitution,52 President Benigno S. Aquino III issued on 24
reinstatement, subject to existing laws and regulations. However, they shall not be entitled to
November 2010 Proclamation No. 75,53 which reads in part:
back pay during the time they have been discharged or suspended from service or unable to
perform their military or police duties.
GRANTING AMNESTY TO ACTIVE AND FORMER PERSONNEL OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES,
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE AND THEIR SUPPORTERS WHO MAY HAVE COMMITTED CRIMES
(d) Commissioned and Non-commissioned officers of the AFP with the rank of Master
PUNISHABLE UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE, THE ARTICLES OF WAR AND OTHER LAWS IN
Sergeant and personnel of the PNP with the rank of at least Senior Police Officer 4 whose
CONNECTION WITH THE OAKWOOD MUTINY, THE MARINES STAND-OFF AND THE PENINSULA MANILA
application for amnesty will be approved shall not be entitled to remain in the service,
HOTEL INCIDENT
reintegration or reinstatement into the service nor back pay.

WHEREAS, it is recognized that certain active and former personnel of the Armed Forces of the
(e) All AFP and PNP personnel granted amnesty who are not reintegrated or reinstated shall
Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and their supporters have or may have committed
be entitled to retirement and separation benefits, if qualified under existing laws and
crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code, the Articles of War and other laws in connection with,
regulation, as of the time [of] separation, unless they have forfeited such retirement benefits
in relation or incident to the July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines Stand-Off and
for reasons other than the acts covered by this Proclamation. Those reintegrated or
the November 29, 2007 Manila Pen Incident;
reinstated shall be entitled to their retirement and separation benefit[s] upon their actual
retirement. (Emphasis supplied.)
WHEREAS, there is a clamor from certain sectors of society urging the President to extend amnesty to
said AFP personnel and their supporters;
Thereafter, the House of Representatives and the Senate adopted Concurrent Resolution No. 4 on 13
and 14 December 2010, respectively.54 Relevant portions of the Resolution partly read:
WHEREAS, Section 19, Article VII of the Constitution expressly vests the President the power to grant
amnesty;
CONCURRENT RESOLUTION CONCURRING WITH PROCLAMATION NO. 75 OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES DATED 24 NOVEMBER 2010 ENTITLED "GRANTING AMNESTY TO ACTIVE
WHEREAS, the grant of amnesty in favor of the said active and former personnel of the AFP and PNP and AND FORMER PERSONNEL OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
their supporters will promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and AND THEIR SUPPORTERS WHO MAY HAVE COMMITTED CRIMES PUNISHABLE UNDER THE REVISED PENAL
enduring peace and is in line with the Government’s peace and reconciliation initiatives; CODE, THE ARTICLES OF WAR AND OTHER LAWS IN CONNECTION WITH THE OAKWOOD MUTINY, THE
MARINES STAND-OFF AND THE PENINSULA MANILA HOTEL INCIDENT
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers
vested in me by Section 19, Article VII of the Philippine Constitution, do hereby DECLARE and PROCLAIM: WHEREAS, Section 19, Article VII of the Constitution provides that the President shall have the power to
grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of Congress;
SECTION 1. Grant of Amnesty. – Amnesty is hereby granted to all active and former personnel of the AFP
and PNP as well as their supporters who have or may have committed crimes punishable under the WHEREAS, both Houses of Congress share the view of the President that in order to promote an
Revised Penal Code, the Articles of War or other laws in connection with, in relation or incident to the atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and enduing peace and in line with
July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines Stand-Off and the November 29, 2007 the Government’s peace and reconciliation initiatives, there is a need to declare amnesty in favor of the
Manila Peninsula Incident who shall apply therefor; Provided that amnesty shall not cover rape, acts of said active and former personnel of the AFP and PNP and their supporters;
torture, crimes against chastity and other crimes committed for personal ends.
31

WHEREAS, it is the sense of both House of Congress that it is imperative that an amnesty partaking the DOCTRINE: The registration of political parties does not involve administrative liability as it is only
nature proclaimed by His Excellency, the President of the Philippines, is necessary for the general limited to the evaluation of qualifications for registration.
interest of the Philippines; xxx (Emphasis supplied.)
FACTS:
On 2 July 2009, Petitioner Magdalo sa Pagbabago (MAGDALO) filed its Petition for Registration with the
In light of the foregoing, to still sustain the finding, based on the participation of its members in the
COMELEC, seeking its registration and/or accreditation as a regional political party based in the NCR for
Oakwood incident, that MAGDALO employs violence or other harmful means would be inconsistent with
participation in the 10 May 2010 National and Local Elections. In the Petition, MAGDALO was
the legal effects of amnesty. Likewise, it would not be in accord with the express intention of both the
represented by its Chairperson, Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, and its Secretary General, Francisco
Executive and the Legislative branches, in granting the said amnesty, to promote an atmosphere
Ashley L. Acedillo (Acedillo).
conducive to attaining peace in line with the government’s peace and reconciliation initiatives.
On 26 October 2009, the COMELEC denied the Petition for Registration as it was not in accordance with
Nevertheless, this Court is not unmindful of the apprehensions of the COMELEC as regards the use of Art. IX-C, Section 2(5) of the Constitution. It is common knowledge that the party’s organizer and
violence.1awp++i1Thus, should MAGDALO decide to file another Petition for Registration, its officers Chairman, and some members participated in the take-over of the Oakwood Premier Apartments in
must individually execute affidavits renouncing the use of violence or other harmful means to achieve Ayala Center, Makati City on July 27, 2003, wherein several innocent civilian personnel were held
the objectives of their organization. Further, it must also be underscored that the membership of hostage. This and the fact that they were in full battle gear at the time of the mutiny clearly show their
MAGDALO cannot include military officers and/or enlisted personnel in active service, as this act would purpose in employing violence and using unlawful means to achieve their goals in the process defying
run counter to the express provisions of the Constitution: the laws of organized societies.

ARTICLE XVI – GENERAL PROVISIONS MAGDALO filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was elevated to the COMELEC En Banc for
resolution. MAGDALO also filed a Manifestation of Intent to Participate in the Party-List System of
Representation in the 10 May 2010 Elections, in which it stated that its membership includes former
Section 5. (1) All members of the armed forces shall take an oath or affirmation to uphold and defend members of the AFP, Anti-Corruption Advocates, Reform-minded citizens. They filed an Amended
this Constitution. Manifestation, and in which they manifest that the instant MANIFESTATION is being filed ex abutanti
(sic) cautelam (out of the abundance of caution) only and subject to the outcome of the resolution of the
(3) Professionalism in the armed forces and adequate remuneration and benefits of its members shall be Motion for Reconsideration that is still pending. It is not in any way intended to preempt the ruling of the
a prime concern of the State. The armed forces shall be insulated from partisan politics. Commission but merely to preserve the possibility of pursuing the Partys participation in the Party-List
System of Representation in the eventuality that their Petition is approved.
No member of the military shall engage directly or indirectly in any partisan political activity, except to The COMELEC En Banc denied the Motion for Reconsideration. In the instant Petition, MAGDALO argues
vote.1âwphi1 that the findings of the assailed resolutions on the basis of which the Petition was denied are based on
pure speculation. The assailed Resolutions effectively preempted the court trying the case. The subject
(4) No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in Resolutions unfairly jumped to the conclusion that the founders of the Magdalo committed mutiny, held
any capacity to a civilian position in the Government including government-owned or controlled innocent civilian personnel as hostage, employed violence and used unlawful means and in the process
corporations or any of their subsidiaries. (Emphasis supplied.) defied the laws of organized society purportedly during the Oakwood incident when even the court
trying their case, (RTC Makati) has not yet decided the case against them; and the Resolution violates the
constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of founders of the Magdalo and their basic right of to
This Court finds that the COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying the Petition for
due process of law.
Registration filed by MAGDALO. However, in view of the subsequent amnesty granted in favor of the
members of MAGDALO, the events that transpired during the Oakwood incident can no longer be
On the other hand, the COMELEC asserts that it had the power to ascertain the eligibility of MAGDALO
interpreted as acts of violence in the context of the disqualifications from party registration.
for registration and accreditation as a political party. It contends that this determination, as well as that
of assessing whether MAGDALO advocates the use of force, would entail the evaluation of evidence,
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DISMISSED. The 26 October 2009 and 4 January 2010 Resolutions of which cannot be reviewed by this Court in a petition for certiorari.
the Commission on Elections are hereby AFFIRMED, without prejudice to the filing anew of a Petition for
Registration by MAGDALO. However, MAGDALO maintains that although it concedes that the COMELEC has the authority to assess
whether parties applying for registration possess all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications
SO ORDERED. under the applicable law, the latter nevertheless committed grave abuse of discretion in basing its
determination on pure conjectures instead of on the evidence on record.

Magdalo v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 190793, June 19, 2012 ISSUE:


Whether the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it denied the Petition for Registration filed by
TOPIC: Composition of Congress, Qualifications of Members, and Term of Office MAGDALO on the ground that the latter seeks to achieve its goals through violent or unlawful means.
32

HELD: NO reasonably prudent men, and to take notice of judicially cognizable facts. Thus, in Saludo v. American
This Court rules in the negative, but without prejudice to MAGDALOs filing anew of a Petition for Express,this Court explained as follows:
Registration. The COMELEC has a constitutional and statutory mandate to ascertain the eligibility of
parties and organizations to participate in electoral contests. The relevant portions of the 1987 The concept of facts of common knowledge in the context of judicial notice has been explained as those
Constitution read: facts that are so commonly known in the community as to make it unprofitable to require proof, and so
certainly known x x x as to make it indisputable among reasonable men.
ARTICLE VI LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT The Oakwood incident was widely known and extensively covered by the media made it a proper subject
of judicial notice. Thus, the COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it treated these
Section 5. (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty facts as public knowledge, and took cognizance thereof without requiring the introduction and reception
members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned of evidence thereon.
among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their
respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided B. The COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in finding that MAGDALO uses violence or
by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties unlawful means to achieve its goals.
or organizations. In the instant Petition, MAGDALO claims that it did not resort to violence when it took over Oakwood
because (a) no one, either civilian or military, was held hostage; (b) its members immediately evacuated
ARTICLE IX CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSIONS the guests and staff of the hotel; and (c) not a single shot was fired during the incident.
C. The Commission on Elections
Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions: Under Article IX-C, Section 2(5) of the 1987 Constitution, parties, organizations and coalitions that seek
to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means shall be denied registration. This
(5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to disqualification is reiterated in Section 61 of B.P. 881, which provides that no political party which seeks
other requirements, must present their platform or program of government; and accredit citizens arms to achieve its goal through violence shall be entitled to accreditation.
of the Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and sects shall not be registered. Those which
seek to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to this Violence is the unjust or unwarranted exercise of force, usually with the accompaniment of vehemence,
Constitution, or which are supported by any foreign government shall likewise be refused registration. outrage or fury. It also denotes physical force unlawfully exercised; abuse of force; that force which is
x x x. employed against common right, against the laws, and against public liberty. The Oakwood incident was
one that was attended with violence. As publicly announced by the leaders of MAGDALO during the
RA No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, reads in part: siege, their objectives were to express their dissatisfaction with the administration of former President
Arroyo, and to divulge the alleged corruption in the military and the supposed sale of arms to enemies of
Thus, to join electoral contests, a party or organization must undergo the two-step process of the state. Ultimately, they wanted the President, her cabinet members, and the top officials of the AFP
registration and accreditation, as this Court explained in Liberal Party v. COMELEC: and the PNP to resign. To achieve these goals, MAGDALO opted to seize a hotel occupied by civilians,
x x x Registration is the act that bestows juridical personality for purposes of our election laws; march in the premises in full battle gear with ammunitions, and plant explosives in the building. These
accreditation, on the other hand, relates to brash methods by which MAGDALO opted to ventilate the grievances of its members and withdraw its
the privileged participation that our election laws grant to qualified registered parties. support from the government constituted clear acts of violence.

x x x Accreditation can only be granted to a registered political party, organization or coalition; stated The assertions of MAGDALO that no one was held hostage or that no shot was fired do not mask its use
otherwise, a registration must first take place before a request for accreditation can be made. Once of impelling force to take over and sustain the occupation of Oakwood. Neither does its express
registration has been carried out, accreditation is the next natural step to follow. renunciation of the use of force, violence and other unlawful means in its Petition for Registration and
Program of Government obscure the actual circumstances surrounding the encounter. The deliberate
Considering the constitutional and statutory authority of the COMELEC to ascertain the eligibility of brandishing of military power, which included the show of force, use of full battle gear, display of
parties or organizations seeking registration and accreditation, the pertinent question now is whether its ammunitions, and use of explosive devices, engendered an alarming security risk to the public. At the
exercise of this discretion was so capricious or whimsical as to amount to lack of jurisdiction. In view of very least, the totality of these brazen acts fomented a threat of violence that preyed on the
the facts available to the COMELEC at the time it issued its assailed Resolutions, this Court rules that vulnerability of civilians. The COMELEC did not, therefore, commit grave abuse of discretion when it
respondent did not commit grave abuse of discretion. treated the Oakwood standoff as a manifestation of the predilection of MAGDALO for resorting to
violence or threats thereof in order to achieve its objectives.
A. The COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in taking judicial notice of the Oakwood
incident. C. The finding that MAGDALO seeks to achieve its goals through violence or unlawful means did not
MAGDALO contends that it was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to have denied the Petition operate as a prejudgment of Criminal Case No. 03-2784.
for Registration not on the basis of facts or evidence on record, but on mere speculation and MAGDALO contends that the finding of the COMELEC that the former pursues its goals through violence
conjectures. This argument cannot be given any merit. Under the Rules of Court, judicial notice may be or unlawful means was tantamount to an unwarranted verdict of guilt for several crimes, which in effect,
taken of matters that are of public knowledge, or are capable of unquestionable demonstration. Further, preempted the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 03-2784 and violated the right to presumption of
Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Revised Administrative Code, specifically empowers innocence. This argument cannot be sustained.
administrative agencies to admit and give probative value to evidence commonly acceptable by
33

The power vested by Article IX-C, Section 2(5) of the Constitution and Section 61 of BP 881 in the The moot and academic principle is not a magical formula that can automatically dissuade the courts in
COMELEC to register political parties and ascertain the eligibility of groups to participate in the elections resolving a case. Courts will decide cases, otherwise moot and academic, if: first, there is a grave
is purely administrative in character. In exercising this authority, the COMELEC only has to assess violation of the Constitution; second, the exceptional character of the situation and the paramount
whether the party or organization seeking registration or accreditation pursues its goals by employing public interest is involved; third, when [the] constitutional issue raised requires formulation of
acts considered as violent or unlawful, and not necessarily criminal in nature. Although this process controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and fourth, the case is capable of
does not entail any determination of administrative liability, as it is only limited to the evaluation of repetition yet evading review.
qualifications for registration, the ruling of this Court in Quarto v. Marcelo is nonetheless analogously
applicable: The second and fourth exceptions are clearly present in the case at bar. The instant action brings to the
fore matters of public concern, as it challenges the very notion of the use of violence or unlawful means
An administrative case is altogether different from a criminal case, such that the disposition in the as a ground for disqualification from party registration. Moreover, considering the expressed intention of
former does not necessarily result in the same disposition for the latter, although both may arise from MAGDALO to join subsequent elections, as well as the occurrence of supervening events pertinent to the
the same set of facts. The most that we can read from the finding of liability is that the respondents case at bar, it remains prudent to examine the issues raised and resolve the arising legal questions once
have been found to be administratively guilty by substantial evidence the quantum of proof required and for all.
in an administrative proceeding. The requirement of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure that the
proposed witness should not appear to be the most guilty is obviously in line with the character and
purpose of a criminal proceeding, and the much stricter standards observed in these cases. They are DISPOSITIVE PORTION:
standards entirely different from those applicable in administrative proceedings.
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DISMISSED. The 26 October 2009 and 4 January 2010 Resolutions of
Further, there is a well-established distinction between the quantum of proof required for administrative the Commission on Elections are hereby AFFIRMED, without prejudice to the filing anew of a Petition for
proceedings and that for criminal actions, to wit: Registration by MAGDALO.
As an administrative proceeding, the evidentiary bar against which the evidence at hand is measured is
not the highest quantum of proof beyond reasonable doubt, requiring moral certainty to support
affirmative findings. Instead, the lowest standard of substantial evidence, that is, such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind will accept as adequate to support a conclusion, applies.

In the case at bar, the challenged COMELEC Resolutions were issued pursuant to its administrative
power to evaluate the eligibility of groups to join the elections as political parties, for which the
evidentiary threshold of substantial evidence is applicable. In finding that MAGDALO resorts to violence
or unlawful acts to fulfill its organizational objectives, the COMELEC did not render an assessment as to
whether the members of petitioner committed crimes, as respondent was not required to make that
determination in the first place. Its evaluation was limited only to examining whether MAGDALO
possessed all the necessary qualifications and none of disqualifications for registration as a political
party. In arriving at its assailed ruling, the COMELEC only had to assess whether there was substantial
evidence adequate to support this conclusion.

On the other hand, Criminal Case No. 03-2784 is a criminal action charging members of MAGDALO with
coup dtat following the events that took place during the Oakwood siege. As it is a criminal case, proof
beyond reasonable doubt is necessary. Therefore, although the registration case before the COMELEC
and the criminal case before the trial court may find bases in the same factual circumstances, they
nevertheless involve entirely separate and distinct issues requiring different evidentiary thresholds.

This Court finds that the COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying the Petition for
Registration filed by MAGDALO. However, in view of the subsequent amnesty granted in favor of the
members of MAGDALO, the events that transpired during the Oakwood incident can no longer be
interpreted as acts of violence in the context of the disqualifications from party registration.

*Issue on Mootness
whether this case has been rendered moot and academic by the conduct of the 10 May 2010 National
and Local Elections. Although the subject Petition for Registration filed by MAGDALO was intended for
the elections on even date, it specifically asked for accreditation as a regional political party for purposes
of subsequent elections.
34

EN BANC arrest was issued. Surprisingly, on December 19, 2003, Parole and Probation Administrator Gregorio F.
Bacolod issued a Certification attesting that respondent Jalosjos, Jr., had already fulfilled the terms and
conditions of his probation. This Certification was the one used by respondent Jalosjos to secure the
G.R. No. 193237 October 9, 2012
dismissal of the disqualification case filed against him by Adasa in 2004, docketed as SPA No. 04-235.

DOMINADOR G. JALOSJOS, JR., Petitioner,


This prompted Cardino to call the attention of the Commission on the decision of the Sandiganbayan
vs.
dated September 29, 2008 finding Gregorio F. Bacolod, former Administrator of the Parole and Probation
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and AGAPITO J. CARDINO, Respondents.
Administration, guilty of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 for issuing a falsified Certification on
December 19, 2003 attesting to the fact that respondent Jalosjos had fully complied with the terms and
DECISION conditions of his probation. A portion of the decision of the Sandiganbayan is quoted hereunder:

CARPIO, J.: The Court finds that the above acts of the accused gave probationer Dominador Jalosjos, Jr.,
unwarranted benefits and advantage because the subject certification, which was issued by the accused
These are two special civil actions for certiorari1 questioning the resolutions of the Commission on without adequate or official support, was subsequently utilized by the said probationer as basis of the
Elections (COMELEC) in SPA No. 09-076 (DC). In G.R. No. 193237, Dominador G. Jalosjos, Jr. (Jalosjos) Urgent Motion for Reconsideration and to Lift Warrant of Arrest that he filed with the Regional Trial
seeks to annul the 10 May 2010 Resolution2 of the COMELEC First Division and the 11 August 2010 Court of Cebu City, which prompted the said court to issue the Order dated February 5, 2004 in Crim.
Resolution3 of the COMELEC En Banc, which both ordered the cancellation of his certificate of candidacy Case No. CCC-XIV-140-CEBU, declaring that said probationer has complied with the order of probation
on the ground of false material representation. In G.R. No. 193536, Agapito J. Cardino (Cardino) and setting aside its Order of January 16, 2004 recalling the warrant or [sic] arrest; and that said
challenges the 11 August 2010 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, which applied the rule on succession Certification was also used by the said probationer and became the basis for the Commission on
under the Local Government Code in filling the vacancy in the Office of the Mayor of Dapitan City, Elections to deny in its Resolution of August 2, 2004 the petition or [sic] private complainant James
Zamboanga del Norte created by the cancellation of Jalosjos’ certificate of candidacy. Adasa for the disqualification of the probationer from running for re-election as Mayor of Dapitan City in
the National and Local Elections of 2004.5

The Facts
The COMELEC’s Rulings

Both Jalosjos and Cardino were candidates for Mayor of Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte in the May
2010 elections. Jalosjos was running for his third term. Cardino filed on 6 December 2009 a petition On 10 May 2010, the COMELEC First Division granted Cardino’s petition and cancelled Jalosjos’ certificate
under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code to deny due course and to cancel the certificate of of candidacy. The COMELEC First Division concluded that "Jalosjos has indeed committed material
candidacy of Jalosjos. Cardino asserted that Jalosjos made a false material representation in his misrepresentation in his certificate of candidacy when he declared, under oath, that he is eligible for the
certificate of candidacy when he declared under oath that he was eligible for the Office of Mayor. office he seeks to be elected to when in fact he is not by reason of a final judgment in a criminal case, the
sentence of which he has not yet served."6 The COMELEC First Division found that Jalosjos’ certificate of
compliance of probation was fraudulently issued; thus, Jalosjos has not yet served his sentence. The
Cardino claimed that long before Jalosjos filed his certificate of candidacy, Jalosjos had already been penalty imposed on Jalosjos was the indeterminate sentence of one year, eight months and twenty days
convicted by final judgment for robbery and sentenced to prisión mayor by the Regional Trial Court, of prisión correccional as minimum, to four years, two months and one day of prisión mayor as
Branch 18 (RTC) of Cebu City, in Criminal Case No. CCC-XIV-140-CEBU. Cardino asserted that Jalosjos has maximum. The COMELEC First Division ruled that Jalosjos "is not eligible by reason of his disqualification
not yet served his sentence. Jalosjos admitted his conviction but stated that he had already been granted as provided for in Section 40(a) of Republic Act No. 7160."7
probation. Cardino countered that the RTC revoked Jalosjos’ probation in an Order dated 19 March 1987.
Jalosjos refuted Cardino and stated that the RTC issued an Order dated 5 February 2004 declaring that
Jalosjos had duly complied with the order of probation. Jalosjos further stated that during the 2004 On 11 August 2010, the COMELEC En Banc denied Jalosjos’ motion for reconsideration. The pertinent
elections the COMELEC denied a petition for disqualification filed against him on the same grounds.4 portions of the 11 August 2010 Resolution read:

The COMELEC En Banc narrated the circumstances of Jalosjos’ criminal record as follows: With the proper revocation of Jalosjos’ earlier probation and a clear showing that he has not yet served
the terms of his sentence, there is simply no basis for Jalosjos to claim that his civil as well as political
rights have been violated. Having been convicted by final judgment,
As backgrounder, Jalosjos and three (3) others were accused of the crime of robbery on January 22, 1969
in Cebu City. On April 30, 1970, Judge Francisco Ro. Cupin of the then Circuit Criminal Court of Cebu City
found him and his co-accused guilty of robbery and sentenced them to suffer the penalty of prision Jalosjos is disqualified to run for an elective position or to hold public office. His proclamation as the
correccional minimum to prision mayor maximum. Jalosjos appealed this decision to the Court of elected mayor in the May 10, 2010 election does not deprive the Commission of its authority to resolve
Appeals but his appeal was dismissed on August 9, 1973. It was only after a lapse of several years or the present petition to its finality, and to oust him from the office he now wrongfully holds.
more specifically on June 17, 1985 that Jalosjos filed a Petition for Probation before the RTC Branch 18 of
Cebu City which was granted by the court. But then, on motion filed by his Probation Officer, Jalosjos’ WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration is denied for utter lack of merit.
probation was revoked by the RTC Cebu City on March 19, 1987 and the corresponding warrant for his Jalosjos is hereby OUSTED from office and ordered to CEASE and DESIST from occupying and discharging
35

the functions of the Office of the Mayor of Dapitan City, Zamboanga. Let the provisions of the Local The perpetual special disqualification against Jalosjos arising from his criminal conviction by final
Government Code on succession apply. judgment is a material fact involving eligibility which is a proper ground for a petition under Section 78 of
the Omnibus Election Code. Jalosjos’ certificate of candidacy was void from the start since he was not
eligible to run for any public office at the time he filed his certificate of candidacy. Jalosjos was never a
SO ORDERED.8
candidate at any time, and all votes for Jalosjos were stray votes. As a result of Jalosjos’ certificate of
candidacy being void ab initio, Cardino, as the only qualified candidate, actually garnered the highest
Jalosjos filed his petition on 25 August 2010, docketed as G.R. No. 193237, while Cardino filed his number of votes for the position of Mayor.
petition on 17 September 2010, docketed as G.R. No. 193536.
The dissenting opinions affirm with modification the 10 May 2010 Resolution of the COMELEC First
On 22 February 2011, this Court issued a Resolution dismissing G.R. No. 193237. Division and the 11 August 2010 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc. The dissenting opinions
erroneously limit the remedy against Jalosjos to disqualification under Section 68 of the Omnibus
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Petition for Certiorari is DISMISSED. The assailed Election Code and apply the rule on succession under the Local Government Code.
Resolution dated May 10, 2010 and Resolution dated August 11, 2010 of the Commission on Elections in
SPA Case No. 09-076 (DC) are hereby AFFIRMED.9 A false statement in a certificate of candidacy that a candidate is eligible to run for public office is a false
material representation which is a ground for a petition under Section 78 of the same Code. Sections 74
Cardino filed a Manifestation on 17 March 2011 praying that this Court take judicial notice of its and 78 read:
resolution in G.R. No. 193237. Jalosjos filed a Motion for Reconsideration10 on 22 March 2011. On 29
March 2011, this Court resolved11 to consolidate G.R. No. 193536 with G.R. No. 193237.Jalosjos then filed Sec. 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy. – The certificate of candidacy shall state that the person
a Manifestation on 1 June 2012 which stated that "he has resigned from the position of Mayor of the filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is eligible for said office; if
City of Dapitan effective 30 April 2012, which resignation was accepted by the Provincial Governor of for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the province, including its component cities, highly urbanized
Zamboanga del Norte, Atty. Rolando E. Yebes."12 Jalosjos’ resignation was made "in deference with the city or district or sector which he seeks to represent; the political party to which he belongs; civil status;
provision of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to his candidacy as Provincial Governor of Zamboanga his date of birth; residence; his post office address for all election purposes; his profession or occupation;
del Sur in May 2013."13 that he will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and
allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and decrees promulgated by the duly
These cases are not rendered moot by Jalosjos’ resignation. In resolving Jalosjos’ Motion for constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that the
Reconsideration in G.R. No. 193237 and Cardino’s Petition in G.R. No. 193536, we address not only obligation imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion;
Jalosjos’ eligibility to run for public office and the consequences of the cancellation of his certificate of and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.
candidacy, but also COMELEC’s constitutional duty to enforce and administer all laws relating to the
conduct of elections. Sec. 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. – A verified petition seeking
to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy may be filed by the person exclusively on the
The Issues ground that any material representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false.
The petition may be filed at any time not later than twenty-five days from the time of the filing of the
certificate of candidacy and shall be decided, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days
In G.R. No. 193237, Jalosjos argues that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to before the election. (Emphasis supplied)
lack or excess of jurisdiction when it (1) ruled that Jalosjos’ probation was revoked; (2) ruled that Jalosjos
was disqualified to run as candidate for Mayor of Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte; and (3) cancelled
Jalosjos’ certificate of candidacy without making a finding that Jalosjos committed a deliberate Section 74 requires the candidate to state under oath in his certificate of candidacy "that he is eligible for
misrepresentation as to his qualifications, as Jalosjos relied in good faith upon a previous COMELEC said office." A candidate is eligible if he has a right to run for the public office.14 If a candidate is not
decision declaring him eligible for the same position from which he is now being ousted. Finally, the actually eligible because he is barred by final judgment in a criminal case from running for public office,
Resolutions dated 10 May 2010 and 11 August 2010 were issued in violation of the COMELEC Rules of and he still states under oath in his certificate of candidacy that he is eligible to run for public office, then
Procedure. the candidate clearly makes a false material representation that is a ground for a petition under Section
78.

In G.R. No. 193536, Cardino argues that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction when it added to the dispositive portion of its 11 August 2010 Resolution A sentence of prisión mayor by final judgment is a ground for disqualification under Section 40 of the
that the provisions of the Local Government Code on succession should apply. Local Government Code and under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code. It is also a material fact
involving the eligibility of a candidate under Sections 74 and 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. Thus, a
person can file a petition under Section 40 of the Local Government Code or under either Section 12 or
This Court’s Ruling Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. The pertinent provisions read:

Section 40, Local Government Code:


36

Sec. 40. Disqualifications. - The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local Revised Penal Code:
position:
Art. 27. Reclusion perpetua. — x x x
(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
Prisión mayor and temporary disqualification. — The duration of the penalties of prisión mayor and
serving sentence;
temporary disqualification shall be from six years and one day to twelve years, except when the penalty
of disqualification is imposed as an accessory penalty, in which case, it shall be that of the principal
(b) Those removed from office as a result of an administrative case; penalty.

(c) Those convicted by final judgment for violating the oath of allegiance to the Republic; Art. 30. Effects of the penalties of perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification. — The penalties of
perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification for public office shall produce the following effects:
(d) Those with dual citizenship;
1. The deprivation of the public offices and employments which the offender may have held,
even if conferred by popular election.
(e) Fugitives from justice in criminal or non-political cases here or abroad;

2. The deprivation of the right to vote in any election for any popular elective office or to be
(f) Permanent residents in a foreign country or those who have acquired the right to reside
elected to such office.
abroad and continue to avail of the same right after the effectivity of this Code; and

3. The disqualification for the offices or public employments and for the exercise of any of the
(g) The insane or feeble-minded.
rights mentioned.

Section 12, Omnibus Election Code:


In case of temporary disqualification, such disqualification as is comprised in paragraphs 2
and 3 of this article shall last during the term of the sentence.
Sec. 12. Disqualifications. — Any person who has been declared by competent authority insane or
incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion or for any
4. The loss of all rights to retirement pay or other pension for any office formerly held.
offense for which he was sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving
moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given
plenary pardon or granted amnesty. Art. 31. Effects of the penalties of perpetual or temporary special disqualification. — The penalties of
perpetual or temporary special disqualification for public office, profession or calling shall produce the
following effects:
The disqualifications to be a candidate herein provided shall be deemed removed upon the declaration
by competent authority that said insanity or incompetence had been removed or after the expiration of
a period of five years from his service of sentence, unless within the same period he again becomes 1. The deprivation of the office, employment, profession or calling affected.
disqualified.
2. The disqualification for holding similar offices or employments either perpetually or during
Section 68, Omnibus Election Code: the term of the sentence, according to the extent of such disqualification.

Sec. 68. Disqualifications. — Any candidate who, in an action or protest in which he is a party is declared Art. 32. Effects of the penalties of perpetual or temporary special disqualification for the exercise of the
by final decision by a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of having (a) given money right of suffrage. — The perpetual or temporary special disqualification for the exercise of the right of
or other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing suffrage shall deprive the offender perpetually or during the term of the sentence, according to the
electoral functions; (b) committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; (c) spent in his election nature of said penalty, of the right to vote in any popular election for any public office or to be elected to
campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by this Code; (d) solicited, received or made any such office. Moreover, the offender shall not be permitted to hold any public office during the period of
contribution prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104; or (e) violated any of Sections 80, 83, 85, his disqualification.
86 and 261, paragraphs d, e, k, v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6, shall be disqualified from continuing as a
candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding the office. Any person who is a permanent resident of
Art. 42. Prisión mayor — its accessory penalties. — The penalty of prisión mayor shall carry with it that of
or an immigrant to a foreign country shall not be qualified to run for any elective office under this Code,
temporary absolute disqualification and that of perpetual special disqualification from the right of
unless said person has waived his status as permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country in
suffrage which the offender shall suffer although pardoned as to the principal penalty, unless the same
accordance with the residence requirement provided for in the election laws.
shall have been expressly remitted in the pardon. (Emphasis supplied)
37

The penalty of prisión mayor automatically carries with it, by operation of law,15 the accessory penalties The accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification takes effect immediately once the judgment
of temporary absolute disqualification and perpetual special disqualification. Under Article 30 of the of conviction becomes final. The effectivity of this accessory penalty does not depend on the duration of
Revised Penal Code, temporary absolute disqualification produces the effect of "deprivation of the right the principal penalty, or on whether the convict serves his jail sentence or not. The last sentence of
to vote in any election for any popular elective office or to be elected to such office." The duration of the Article 32 states that "the offender shall not be permitted to hold any public office during the period of
temporary absolute disqualification is the same as that of the principal penalty. On the other hand, his perpetual special disqualification." Once the judgment of conviction becomes final, it is immediately
under Article 32 of the Revised Penal Code perpetual special disqualification means that "the offender executory. Any public office that the convict may be holding at the time of his conviction becomes vacant
shall not be permitted to hold any public office during the period of his disqualification," which is upon finality of the judgment, and the convict becomes ineligible to run for any elective public office
perpetually. Both temporary absolute disqualification and perpetual special disqualification constitute perpetually. In the case of Jalosjos, he became ineligible perpetually to hold, or to run for, any elective
ineligibilities to hold elective public office. A person suffering from these ineligibilities is ineligible to run public office from the time his judgment of conviction became final.
for elective public office, and commits a false material representation if he states in his certificate of
candidacy that he is eligible to so run.
Perpetual special disqualification is a ground for a petition under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election
Code because this accessory penalty is an ineligibility, which means that the convict is not eligible to run
In Lacuna v. Abes,16 the Court, speaking through Justice J.B.L. Reyes, explained the import of the for public office, contrary to the statement that Section 74 requires him to state under oath. As used in
accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification: Section 74, the word "eligible" means having the right to run for elective public office, that is, having all
the qualifications and none of the ineligibilities to run for public office. As this Court held in Fermin v.
Commission on Elections,17 the false material representation may refer to "qualifications or eligibility."
On the first defense of respondent-appellee Abes, it must be remembered that appellee’s conviction of a
One who suffers from perpetual special disqualification is ineligible to run for public office. If a person
crime penalized with prisión mayor which carried the accessory penalties of temporary absolute
suffering from perpetual special disqualification files a certificate of candidacy stating under oath that
disqualification and perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage (Article 42, Revised Penal
"he is eligible to run for (public) office," as expressly required under Section 74, then he clearly makes a
Code); and Section 99 of the Revised Election Code disqualifies a person from voting if he had been
false material representation that is a ground for a petition under Section 78. As this Court explained in
sentenced by final judgment to suffer one year or more of imprisonment.
Fermin:

The accessory penalty of temporary absolute disqualification disqualifies the convict for public office and
Lest it be misunderstood, the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not based on the
for the right to vote, such disqualification to last only during the term of the sentence (Article 27,
lack of qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false,
paragraph 3, & Article 30, Revised Penal Code) that, in the case of Abes, would have expired on 13
which may relate to the qualifications required of the public office he/she is running for. It is noted that
October 1961.
the candidate states in his/her CoC that he/she is eligible for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the
OEC, therefore, is to be read in relation to the constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications or
But this does not hold true with respect to the other accessory penalty of perpetual special eligibility for public office. If the candidate subsequently states a material representation in the CoC that
disqualification for the exercise of the right of suffrage. This accessory penalty deprives the convict of the is false, the COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to or cancel such certificate.
right to vote or to be elected to or hold public office perpetually, as distinguished from temporary special Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78 to a quo warranto proceeding
disqualification, which lasts during the term of the sentence. Article 32, Revised Penal Code, provides: under Section 253 of the OEC since they both deal with the eligibility or qualification of a candidate, with
the distinction mainly in the fact that a "Section 78" petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition
Art. 32. Effects of the penalties of perpetual or temporary special disqualification for the exercise of the for quo warranto is filed after proclamation of the winning candidate.18 (Emphasis supplied)
right of suffrage. — The perpetual or temporary special disqualification for the exercise of the right of
suffrage shall deprive the offender perpetually or during the term of the sentence, according to the Conviction for robbery by final judgment with the penalty of prisión mayor, to which perpetual special
nature of said penalty, of the right to vote in any popular election for any public office or to be elected to disqualification attaches by operation of law, is not a ground for a petition under Section 68 because
such office. Moreover, the offender shall not be permitted to hold any public office during the period of robbery is not one of the offenses enumerated in Section 68. Insofar as crimes are concerned, Section 68
disqualification. refers only to election offenses under the Omnibus Election Code and not to crimes under the Revised
Penal Code. For ready reference, we quote again Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code:
The word "perpetually" and the phrase "during the term of the sentence" should be applied
distributively to their respective antecedents; thus, the word "perpetually" refers to the perpetual kind Sec. 68. Disqualifications. — Any candidate who, in an action or protest in which he is a party is declared
of special disqualification, while the phrase "during the term of the sentence" refers to the temporary by final decision by a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of having (a) given money
special disqualification. The duration between the perpetual and the temporary (both special) are or other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing
necessarily different because the provision, instead of merging their durations into one period, states electoral functions;
that such duration is "according to the nature of said penalty" — which means according to whether the
penalty is the perpetual or the temporary special disqualification. (Emphasis supplied)
(b) committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; (c) spent in his election campaign an amount
in excess of that allowed by this Code; (d) solicited, received or made any contribution prohibited under
Clearly, Lacuna instructs that the accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification "deprives the Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104; or (e) violated any of Sections 80, 83, 85, 86 and 261, paragraphs d, e, k,
convict of the right to vote or to be elected to or hold public office perpetually." v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6, shall be disqualified from continuing as a candidate, or if he has been elected,
from holding the office. Any person who is a permanent resident of or an immigrant to a foreign country
38

shall not be qualified to run for any elective office under this Code, unless said person has waived his one qualified candidate for Mayor in the May 2010 elections – Cardino – who received the highest
status as permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country in accordance with the residence number of votes.
requirement provided for in the election laws. (Emphasis supplied)
Decisions of this Court holding that the second-placer cannot be proclaimed winner if the first-placer is
There is absolutely nothing in the language of Section 68 that will justify including the crime of robbery disqualified or declared ineligible22 should be limited to situations where the certificate of candidacy of
as one of the offenses enumerated in this Section. All the offenses enumerated in Section 68 refer to the first-placer was valid at the time of filing but subsequently had to be cancelled because of a violation
offenses under the Omnibus Election Code. The dissenting opinion of Justice Reyes gravely errs when it of law that took place, or a legal impediment that took effect, after the filing of the certificate of
holds that Jalosjos’ conviction for the crime of robbery under the Revised Penal Code is a ground for "a candidacy. If the certificate of candidacy is void ab initio, then legally the person who filed such void
petition for disqualification under Section 68 of the OEC and not for cancellation of COC under Section 78 certificate of candidacy was never a candidate in the elections at any time. All votes for such non-
thereof." This Court has already ruled that offenses punished in laws other than in the Omnibus Election candidate are stray votes and should not be counted. Thus, such non-candidate can never be a first-
Code cannot be a ground for a petition under Section 68. In Codilla, Sr. v. de Venecia,19 the Court placer in the elections. If a certificate of candidacy void ab initio is cancelled on the day, or before the
declared: day, of the election, prevailing jurisprudence holds that all votes for that candidate are stray votes.23 If a
certificate of candidacy void ab initio is cancelled one day or more after the elections, all votes for such
candidate should also be stray votes because the certificate of candidacy is void from the very beginning.
The jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify candidates is limited to those enumerated in Section 68 of
This is the more equitable and logical approach on the effect of the cancellation of a certificate of
the Omnibus Election Code. All other election offenses are beyond the ambit of COMELEC
candidacy that is void ab initio. Otherwise, a certificate of candidacy void ab initio can operate to defeat
jurisdiction.They are criminal and not administrative in nature. (Emphasis supplied)
one or more valid certificates of candidacy for the same position.

A candidate for mayor during the 2010 local elections certifies under oath four statements: (1) a
Even without a petition under either Section 12 or Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, or under
statement that the candidate is a natural born or naturalized Filipino citizen; (2) a statement that the
Section 40 of the Local Government Code, the COMELEC is under a legal duty to cancel the certificate of
candidate is not a permanent resident of, or immigrant to, a foreign country; (3) a statement that the
candidacy of anyone suffering from the accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification to run for
candidate is eligible for the office he seeks election; and (4) a statement of the candidate’s allegiance to
public office by virtue of a final judgment of conviction. The final judgment of conviction is notice to the
the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.20
COMELEC of the disqualification of the convict from running for public office. The law itself bars the
convict from running for public office, and the disqualification is part of the final judgment of conviction.
We now ask: Did Jalosjos make a false statement of a material fact in his certificate of candidacy when The final judgment of the court is addressed not only to the Executive branch, but also to other
he stated under oath that he was eligible to run for mayor? The COMELEC and the dissenting opinions all government agencies tasked to implement the final judgment under the law.
found that Jalosjos was not eligible to run for public office. The COMELEC concluded that Jalosjos made a
false material representation that is a ground for a petition under Section 78. The dissenting opinion of
Whether or not the COMELEC is expressly mentioned in the judgment to implement the disqualification,
Justice Reyes, however, concluded that the ineligibility of Jalosjos is a disqualification which is a ground
it is assumed that the portion of the final judgment on disqualification to run for elective public office is
for a petition under Section 68 and not under Section 78. The dissenting opinion of Justice Brion
addressed to the COMELEC because under the Constitution the COMELEC is duty bound to "enforce and
concluded that the ineligibility of Jalosjos is a disqualification that is not a ground under Section 78
administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election."24 The disqualification of a
without, however, saying under what specific provision of law a petition against Jalosjos can be filed to
convict to run for public office under the Revised Penal Code, as affirmed by final judgment of a
cancel his certificate of candidacy.
competent court, is part of the enforcement and administration of "all laws" relating to the conduct of
elections.
What is indisputably clear is that the false material representation of Jalosjos is a ground for a petition
under Section 78. However, since the false material representation arises from a crime penalized by
To allow the COMELEC to wait for a person to file a petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of one
prisión mayor, a petition under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code or Section 40 of the Local
suffering from perpetual special disqualification will result in the anomaly that these cases so
Government Code can also be properly filed. The petitioner has a choice whether to anchor his petition
grotesquely exemplify. Despite a prior perpetual special disqualification, Jalosjos was elected and served
on Section 12 or Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, or on Section 40 of the Local Government
twice as mayor. The COMELEC will be grossly remiss in its constitutional duty to "enforce and administer
Code. The law expressly provides multiple remedies and the choice of which remedy to adopt belongs to
all laws" relating to the conduct of elections if it does not motu proprio bar from running for public office
the petitioner.
those suffering from perpetual special disqualification by virtue of a final judgment.

The COMELEC properly cancelled Jalosjos’ certificate of candidacy. A void certificate of candidacy on the
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration in G.R. No. 193237 is DENIED, and the Petition in G.R. No.
ground of ineligibility that existed at the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy can never give
193536 is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated 10 May 2010 and 11 August 2010 of the COMELEC First
rise to a valid candidacy, and much less to valid votes.21 Jalosjos’ certificate of candidacy was cancelled
Division and the COMELEC En Bane, respectively, in SPA No. 09-076 (DC), are AFFIRMED with the
because he was ineligible from the start to run for Mayor. Whether his certificate of candidacy is
MODIFICATION that Agapito J. Cardino ran unopposed in the May 2010 elections and thus received the
cancelled before or after the elections is immaterial because the cancellation on such ground means he
highest number of votes for Mayor. The COMELEC En Bane is DIRECTED to constitute a Special City Board
was never a valid candidate from the very beginning, his certificate of candidacy being void ab initio.
of Canvassers to proclaim Agapito J. Cardino as the duly elected Mayor of Dapitan City, Zamboanga del
Jalosjos’ ineligibility existed on the day he filed his certificate of candidacy, and the cancellation of his
Norte.
certificate of candidacy retroacted to the day he filed it. Thus, Cardino ran unopposed. There was only
39

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Secretaries of the Department of Justice and the Department It is inevitable under these guidelines and the precedents applying them that Jalosjos has met the
of Interior and Local Government so they can cause the arrest of, and enforce the jail sentence on, residency requirement for provincial governor of Zamboanga Sibugay.
Dominador G. Jalosjos, Jr. due to his conviction for the crime of robbery in a final judgment issued by the
Regional Trial Court (Branch 18) of Cebu City in Criminal Case No. CCC-XIV-140-CEBU. Quezon City was Jalosjos’ domicile of origin, the place of his birth. It may be taken for granted that he
effectively changed his domicile from Quezon City to Australia when he migrated there at the age of
SO ORDERED. eight, acquired Australian citizenship, and lived in that country for 26 years. Australia became his
domicile by operation of law and by choice.
FACTS:
When he came to the Philippines in November 2008 to live with his brother in Zamboanga Sibugay, it is
Petitioner Rommel Jalosjos was born in Quezon City. He Migrated to Australia and acquired Australian evident that Jalosjos did so with intent to change his domicile for good. He left Australia, gave up his
citizenship. On November 22, 2008, at age 35, he returned to the Philippines and lived with his brother in Australian citizenship, and renounced his allegiance to that country. In addition, he reacquired his old
Barangay Veterans Village, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. Upon his return, he took an oath of allegiance to the citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, resulting in his being issued
Republic of the Philippines and was issued a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship. He then a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by the Bureau of Immigration. By his acts, Jalosjos
renounced his Australian citizenship in September 2009. forfeited his legal right to live in Australia, clearly proving that he gave up his domicile there. And he has
since lived nowhere else except in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.
He acquired residential property where he lived and applied for registration as voter in the Municipality
of Ipil. His application was opposed by the Barangay Captain of Veterans Village, Dan Erasmo, sr. but was To hold that Jalosjos has not establish a new domicile in Zamboanga Sibugay despite the loss of his
eventually granted by the ERB. domicile of origin (Quezon City) and his domicile of choice and by operation of law (Australia) would
violate the settled maxim that a man must have a domicile or residence somewhere.
A petition for the exclusion of Jalosjos' name in the voter's list was then filed by Erasmo before the
MCTC. Said petition was denied. It was then appealed to the RTC who also affirmed the lower court's The COMELEC concluded that Jalosjos has not come to settle his domicile in Ipil since he has merely been
decision. staying at his brother’s house. But this circumstance alone cannot support such conclusion. Indeed, the
Court has repeatedly held that a candidate is not required to have a house in a community to establish
On November 8, 2009, Jalosjos filed a Certificate of Candidacy for Governor of Zamboanga Sibugay his residence or domicile in a particular place. It is sufficient that he should live there even if it be in a
Province. Erasmo filed a petition to deny or cancel said COC on the ground of failure to comply with R.A. rented house or in the house of a friend or relative. To insist that the candidate own the house where he
9225 and the one year residency requirement of the local government code. lives would make property a qualification for public office. What matters is that Jalosjos has proved two
things: actual physical presence in Ipil and an intention of making it his domicile.
COMELEC ruled that Jalosjos failed to comply with the residency requirement of a gubernatorial
candidate and failed to show ample proof of a bona fide intention to establish his domicile in Ipil. Further, it is not disputed that Jalosjos bought a residential lot in the same village where he lived and a
COMELEC en banc affirmed the decision. fish pond in San Isidro, Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. He showed correspondences with political leaders,
including local and national party-mates, from where he lived. Moreover, Jalosjos is a registered voter of
ISSUE: Whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of Ipil by final judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga Sibugay.
jurisdiction in ruling that Jalosjos failed to present ample proof of a bona fide intention to establish his
domicile in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. While the Court ordinarily respects the factual findings of administrative bodies like the COMELEC, this
does not prevent it from exercising its review powers to correct palpable misappreciation of evidence or
RULING: wrong or irrelevant considerations. The evidence Jalosjos presented is sufficient to establish Ipil,
Zamboanga Sibugay, as his domicile. The COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in holding otherwise.
The Local Government Code requires a candidate seeking the position of provincial governor to be a
resident of the province for at least one year before the election. For purposes of the election laws, the Jalosjos won and was proclaimed winner in the 2010 gubernatorial race for Zamboanga Sibugay. The
requirement of residence is synonymous with domicile, meaning that a person must not only intend to Court will respect the decision of the people of that province and resolve all doubts regarding his
reside in a particular place but must also have personal presence in such place coupled with conduct qualification in his favor to breathe life to their manifest will.
indicative of such intention.
Court GRANTED the petition and SET ASIDE the Resolution of the COMELEC.
The question of residence is a question of intention. Jurisprudence has laid down the following
guidelines: (a) every person has a domicile or residence somewhere; (b) where once established, that
domicile remains until he acquires a new one; and (c) a person can have but one domicile at a time.
40

FACTS:

Rommel Jalosjos was born in Quezon City on October 26, 1973. He migrated to Australia in 1981 when
he was eight years old and there acquired Australian citizenship. On November 22, 2008, at age 35, he
decided to return to the Philippines and lived with his brother in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. Four days
upon his return, he took an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, hence, he was issued a
Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by the Bureau of Immigration. On September 1, 2009
he renounced his Australian citizenship, executing a sworn renunciation of the same in compliance with
Republic Act (R.A.) 9225. From the time of his return, Jalosjos acquired a residential property in the same
village where he lived. He applied for registration as a voter in the Municipality of Ipil but respondent
Erasmo, the Barangay Captain, opposed the said act. Election Registration Board approved it and
included Jalosjos’ name in the COMELEC voters list. Erasmo filed before the MTC a petition for the
exclusion of Jalosjos’ name from the official voters list. MTC denied Erasmo’s petition. He appealed to
RTC but RTC ruled same as MTC’s. On November 28, 2009 Jalosjos filed his Certificate of Candidacy (COC)
for Governor of Zamboanga Sibugay Province for the May 10, 2010 elections. Erasmo filed a petition to
deny due course or to cancel Jalosjos’ COC on the ground that Jalosjos made material misrepresentation
in the same since he failed to comply with (1) the requirements of R.A. 9225 and (2) the one-year
residency requirement of the Local Government Code. COMELEC ruled against Jalosjos, because it failed
to comply with the 1-year residency ruequirement. Jalosjos won the elections

ISSUE: w/n Jalosjos failed to comply with the 1-year residency requirement

HELD:

Yes. It is clear from the facts that Quezon City was Jalosjos’ domicile of origin, the place of his birth. His
domicile was changed from Quezon City to Australia when he migrated there at the age of eight,
acquired Australian citizenship, and lived in that country for 26 years. Australia became his domicile by
operation of law and by choice. But, when he came to the Philippines in November 2008 to live with his
brother in Zamboanga Sibugay, it is evident that Jalosjos did so with intent to change his domicile for
good. He left Australia, gave up his Australian citizenship, and renounced his allegiance to that country.
In addition, he reacquired his old citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines, resulting in his being issued a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by the
Bureau of Immigration. By his acts, Jalosjos forfeited his legal right to live in Australia, clearly proving
that he gave up his domicile there. And he has since lived nowhere else except in Ipil, Zamboanga
Sibugay.
41

EN BANC Briefly, the pertinent factual backdrop is summarized as follows:

G.R. No. 136351 July 28, 1999 On March 24, 1998, Jose "Pempe" Miranda, then incumbent mayor of Santiago City, Isabela, filed his
certificate of candidacy for the same mayoralty post for the synchronized May 11, 1998 elections.
JOEL G. MIRANDA, petitioner,
vs. On March 27, 1998, private respondent Antonio M. Abaya filed a Petition to Deny Due Course to and/or
ANTONIO M. ABAYA and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondents. Cancel Certificate of Candidacy (pp. 26-33, Rollo), which was docketed as SPA No. 98-019. The petition
was GRANTED by the Comelec in its resolution dated May 5, 1998 (pp. 36-43, Rollo). The Comelec further
ruled to DISQUALIFY Jose "Pempe" Miranda.
EN BANC

On May 6, 1998, way beyond the deadline for filing a certificate of candidacy, petitioner Joel G. Miranda
MELO, J.:
filed his certificate of candidacy for the mayoralty post, supposedly as a substitute for his father, Jose
"Pempe" Miranda.
Before us is a petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or
writ of preliminary injunction questioning the resolution of the Comelec En Banc dated December 8,
During the May 11, 1998 elections; petitioner and private respondent vied for the mayoralty seat, with
1998 in SPA Case No. 98-288 which disposed:
petitioner garnering 22,002 votes, 1,666 more votes than private respondent who got only 20,336 votes.

ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered to:


On May 13, 1998, private respondent filed a Petition to Declare Null and Void Substitution with Prayer
for Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order, which was docketed
1. AMEND and RECTIFY the dispositive portion of the Resolution of the Commission (First as SPA No. 98-288. He prayed for the nullification of petitioner's certificate of candidacy for being
Division) in SPA No. 98-019 promulgated on May 5, 1998, to read as follows: void ab initio because the certificate of candidacy of Jose "Pempe" Miranda, whom petitioner was
supposed to substitute, had already been cancelled and denied due course.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Commission (First Division) GRANTS the
Petition. Respondent JOSE "PEMPE" MIRANDA's certificate of candidacy for the On May 16, 1998, Comelec's First Division dismissed SPA No. 98-288 motu proprio (pp. 57-61, Rollo).
position of mayor of Santiago City in the May 11, 1998 national and local elections Private respondent moved for reconsideration (pp. 62-72, Rollo). On December 8, 1998, the Comelec En
is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE AND/OR CANCELLED. Banc rendered the assailed decision aforequoted, resolving to GRANT the motion for reconsideration,
thus nullifying the substitution by petitioner Joel G. Miranda of his father as candidate for the mayoralty
SO ORDERED. post of Santiago City.

2. ANNUL the election and proclamation of respondent JOEL G. MIRANDA as mayor of On December 9, 1998, petitioner sought this Court's intercession via a petition for certiorari, with prayer
Santiago City in the May 11, 1998 election and CANCEL the Certificate of Canvass and for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. On December 11,
Proclamation (C.E. form 25) issued therefor; 1998, the Court resolved to issue a temporary restraining order and to require respondents to comment
on the petition. On December 14, 1998, private respondent filed his Comment (pp. 140-187 and 188-
234, Rollo) and on February 16, 1999, the Comelec, through its counsel, the Solicitor General, filed its
3. DIRECT THE City board of Canvassers of Santiago City to RECONVENE, PREPARE a new Comment (pp. 254-265, Rollo). The Court required petitioner to file a consolidated reply within 10 days
certificate of canvass & proclamation and PROCLAIM the winning candidate among those from notice, but petitioner twice asked for an extension of the period. Without granting the motions for
voted upon as the duly elected mayor of Santiago City in the May 11, 1998 election; and extension of time to file consolidated reply, the Court decided to resolve the controversy in favor of
petitioner.
4. DIRECT the Clerk of Court of the Commission to furnish copies of this Decision to the Office
of the President of the Philippines; the Department of Interior and Local Government; the Tersely, the issues in the present case may be summarized as follows:
Department of Finance, and the Secretary of the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Santiago City.

1. Whether the annulment of petitioner's substitution and proclamation was issued without jurisdiction
SO ORDERED. and/or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction; and

The aforementioned resolution dated December 8, 1998 reversed and set aside the earlier resolution of 2. Whether the order of the Comelec directing the proclamation of the private respondent was issued
the First Division of the Comelec dated May 16, 1998, dismissing private respondent's petition to declare with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
the substitution of Jose "Pempe" Miranda by petitioner as candidate for the City of Santiago's mayoralty
post void.
42

The Court finds neither lack of jurisdiction nor grave abuse of discretion attended the annulment of the persons whose certificates of candidacy have been denied due course and/or cancelled under the
substitution and proclamation of petitioner. provisions of Section 78 of the Code.

On the matter of jurisdiction, there is no question that the case at hand is within the exclusive original More importantly, under the express provisions of Section 77 of the Code, not just any person, but only
jurisdiction of the Comelec. As early as in Herrera vs. Barretto (25 Phil, 245 [1913]), this Court had "an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party" may be substituted. In Bautista
occasion to apply the following principles: vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 133840, November 13, 1998) this Court explicitly ruled that "a cancelled certificate
does not give rise to a valid candidacy" (p.13).
Jurisdiction is the authority to hear and determine a cause — the right to act in a case. Since it
is the power to hear and determine, it does not depend either upon the regularity of the A person without a valid certificate of candidacy cannot be considered a candidate in much the same
exercise of that power or upon the rightfulness of the decision made. Jurisdiction should way as any person who has not filed any certificate of candidacy at all can not, by any stretch of the
therefore be distinguished from the exercise of jurisdiction. The authority to decide a cause at imagination, be a candidate at all.
all, and not the decision rendered therein, is what makes up jurisdiction. Where there is
jurisdiction over the subject matter, as we have said before, the decision of all other
The law clearly provides:
questions arising in the case is but an exercise of that jurisdiction.

Sec. 73. Certificate of candidacy — No person shall be eligible for any elective public office
On the issue of soundness of the disposition in SPA No. 98-288, the Court finds that the Comelec's action
unless he files a sworn certificate of candidacy within the period fixed herein.
nullifying the substitution by and proclamation of petitioner for the mayoralty post of Santiago City,
Isabela is proper and legally sound.
By its express language, the foregoing provision of law is absolutely mandatory. It is but logical to say
that any person who attempts to run for an elective office but does not file a certificate of candidacy, is
Petitioner insists that the substitution at bar is allowed under Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code
not a candidate at all. No amount of votes would catapult him into office. In Gador vs. Comelec (95 SCRA
which provides:
431 [1980]), the Court held that a certificate of candidacy filed beyond the period fixed by law is void,
and the person who filed it is not, in law, a candidate. Much in the same manner as a person who filed
Sec. 77. Candidates in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal. — If after the last day for no certificate of candidacy at all and a person who filed it out of time, a person whose certificate of
the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited candidacy is cancelled or denied due course is no candidate at all. No amount of votes should entitle him
political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and to the elective office aspired for.
certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the
candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified. The substitute candidate nominated by the
The evident purposes of the law in requiring the filing of certificates of candidacy and in fixing the time
political party concerned may file his certificate of candidacy for the office affected in
limit therefor are: (a) to enable the voters to know, at least sixty days before the regular election, the
accordance with the preceding sections not later than mid-day of the day of the election. If
candidates among whom they are to make the choice, and (b) to avoid confusion and inconvenience in
the death, withdrawal or disqualification should occur between the day before the election
the tabulation of the votes cast. For if the law did not confine the choice or election by the voters to the
and mid-day of election day, said certificate may be filed with any board of election
duly registered candidates, there might be as many persons voted for as there are voters, and votes
inspectors in the political subdivision where he is a candidate, or, in the case of candidates to
might be cast even for unknown or fictitious persons as a mark to identify the votes in favor of a
be voted for by the entire electorate of the country, with the Commission.
candidate for another office in the same election. (Monsale vs. Nice, 83 Phil. 758 [1949]).

Petitioner capitalizes on the fact that the Comelec ruled to disqualify Jose "Pempe" Miranda in the May
It is at once evident that the importance of a valid certificate of candidacy rests at the very core of the
5, 1998 resolution and he heavily relies upon the above-quoted provision allowing substitution of a
electoral process. It cannot be taken lightly, lest there be anarchy and chaos. Verily, this explains why the
candidate who has been disqualified for any cause.
law provides for grounds for the cancellation and denial of due course to certificates of candidacy.

While there is no dispute as to whether or not a nominee of a registered or accredited political party
After having considered the importance of a certificate of candidacy, it can be readily understood why
may substitute for a candidate of the same party who had been disqualified for any cause, this does not
in Bautista we ruled that a person with a cancelled certificate is no candidate at all. Applying this
include those cases where the certificate of candidacy of the person to be substituted had been denied
principle to the case at bar and considering that Section 77 of the Code is clear and unequivocal that only
due course and cancelled under Section 78 of the Code.
an official candidate of a registered or accredited party may be substituted, there demonstrably cannot
be any possible substitution of a person whose certificate of candidacy has been cancelled and denied
Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. While the law enumerated the occasions where a candidate may be due course.
validly substituted, there is no mention of the case where a candidate is excluded not only by
disqualification but also by denial and cancellation of his certificate of candidacy. Under the foregoing
Also, under ejusdem generis rule, where a general word or phrase (such as "disqualification for any
rule, there can be no valid substitution for the latter case, much in the same way that a nuisance
cause" in this case) follows an enumeration of particular and specific words of the same class (such as
candidate whose certificate of candidacy is denied due course and/or cancelled may not be substituted.
the words "dies" and "withdraws" in the instant case) or where the latter follow the former, the general
If the intent of the lawmakers were otherwise, they could have so easily and conveniently included those
43

word or phrase is to be construed to include, or to be restricted to persons, things or cases akin to, Private respondent's petition in SPA No. 98-019 specifically prayed for the following:
resembling, or of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned (see: Vera vs. Cuevas, 90 SCRA
379 [1979]). A deceased candidate is required to have duly filed a valid certificate of candidacy,
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Certificate of Candidacy filed by respondent for
otherwise his political party would not be allowed to field a substitute candidate in his stead under
the position of Mayor for the City of Santiago be not given due course and/or cancelled.
Section 77 of the Code. In the case of withdrawal of candidacy, the withdrawing candidate is required to
have duly filed a valid certificate of candidacy in order to allow his political party to field a substitute
candidate in his stead. Most reasonable it is then, under the foregoing rule, to hold that a valid Other reliefs just and equitable in the premises are likewise prayed for.
certificate of candidacy is likewise an indispensable requisite in the case of a substitution of a disqualified
candidate under the provisions of Section 77 of the Code, just as it is in the two previous instances. In resolving the petition filed by private respondent specifying a very particular relief, the Comelec ruled
favorably in the following manner:
Furthermore, interpretatio talis in ambiguis semper freinda est, ut euiatur inconveniens et absurdum,
meaning, where there is ambiguity, such interpretation as will avoid inconvenience and absurdity shall in SO ORDER
all cases be adopted. To include those disqualified candidates whose certificate of candidacy had
likewise been denied due course and/or cancelled among those who may be substituted under Section
77 of the Omnibus Election Code, leads to the absurdity where a substitute is allowed to take the place From a plain reading of the dispositive portion of the Comelec resolution of May 5, 1998 in SPA No. 98-
of somebody who had not been a candidate in the first place — a person who did not have a valid 019, it is sufficiently clear that the prayer specifically and particularly sought in the petition was
certificate of candidacy prior to substitution. Nemo dat quod non habet. What right can a non-candidate GRANTED, there being no qualification on the matter whatsoever. The disqualification was simply ruled
pass on to his substitute? Clearly, there is none because no one can give what he does not have. over and above the granting of the specific prayer for denial of due course and cancellation of the
certificate of candidacy. It may be stressed at this instance that the legal consequences of this May 5,
1998 resolution are independent of the issue of whether or not the Comelec was correct in reviving SPA
Even on the most basic and fundamental principles, it is readily understood that the concept of a No. 98-019 by consolidating it with SPA No. 98-288 in its December 8, 1998 resolution.
substitute presupposes the existence of the person to be substituted, for how can a person take the
place of somebody who does not exist or who never was. The Court has no other choice but to rule that
in all the instances enumerated in Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code, the existence of a valid As regards the procedural matter in the present petition for certiorari, the following considerations are
certificate of candidacy seasonably filed is a requisite sine qua non. also in point:

All told, a disqualified candidate may only be substituted if he had a valid certificate of candidacy in the It may be relevantly stressed that the review powers of the Supreme Court over decisions of the
first place because, if the disqualified candidate did not have a valid and seasonably filed certificate of Constitutional Commissions, in general, and the Commission on Elections, in particular, were rather
candidacy, he is and was not a candidate at all. If a person was not a candidate, he cannot be substituted particularly defined and "limited" by the 1987 Constitution, as they were also circumscribed in the 1973
under Section 77 of the Code. Besides, if we were to allow the so-called "substitute" to file a "new" and Constitution, to a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 65. In Dario vs. Mison (176 SCRA 84
"original" certificate of candidacy beyond the period for the filing thereof, it would be a crystalline case [1989]), the Court held:
of unequal protection of the law, an act abhorred by our Constitution.
. . . We affirm the teaching of Aratuc vs. Commission of Elections, 88 SCRA 251 [1979]) — as
From the foregoing discussion it is evident that the controversy at hand is not a simple case of hair- regards recourse to this Court with respect to rulings of the Civil Service Commission — which
splitting. A candidate may not be qualified to run for election but may have filed a valid certificate of is that judgments of the Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court
candidacy. Another candidate may likewise be not qualified and at the same time not have a valid through certiorari alone, under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
certificate of candidacy, for which reason, said certificate of candidacy is also cancelled and/or denied
due course. Or, a third candidate may be qualified but, his certificate of candidacy may be denied due In Aratuc, we declared:
course and/or cancelled. This is possible because the grounds for disqualification (see: Omnibus Election
Code, Section 68 — Disqualifications) are totally separate and distinct from the grounds for cancellation
and/or denying due course to a certificate of candidacy (Ibid., Section 69 — nuisance candidates; and It is at once evident from these constitutional and statutory modifications that
Section 78 — material misrepresentation). Only the candidate who had a valid certificate of candidacy there is a definite tendency to enhance and invigorate the role of the Commission
may be substituted. on Elections as the independent constitutional body charged with the safeguarding
of free, peaceful and honest elections. The framers of the new Constitution must
be presumed to have definite knowledge of what it means to make the decisions,
The question to settle next is whether or not aside from Joel "Pempe" Miranda being disqualified by the orders and rulings of the Commission "subject to review by the Supreme Court."
Comelec in its May 5, 1998 resolution, his certificate of candidacy had likewise been denied due course And since instead of maintaining that provision intact, it ordained that the
and cancelled. Commission's actuations be instead "brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari",
We cannot insist that there was no intent to change the nature of the remedy,
The Court rules that it was. considering that the limited scope of certiorari, compared to a review, is well
known in remedial law.
44

. . . It should also be noted that under the new Constitution, as under the 1973 Petitioner posits that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it annulled the substitution
Charter, "any decision, order, or ruling of each Commission may be brought to the by and proclamation of petitioner, who under Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code, was allowed to
Supreme Court on certiorari," which, as Aratuc tells us, "technically connotes substitute for disqualified the candidate Jose "Pempe" Miranda. Petitioner also contends that it was an
something less than saying that the same "shall be subject to review by the
act of grave abuse of discretion for the Comelec to direct the proclamation of private respondent as the
Supreme Court," which in turn suggests an appeal by review by petition for review
under Rule 45. Therefore, our jurisdiction over cases emanating from the Civil winning candidate in the May 11, 1998 election.
Service Commission is limited to complaints of lack or excess of jurisdiction or
grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction, complaints Petitioner further faults the Comelec for amending the dispositive portion of its resolution in SPA No. 98-
that justify certiorari under Rule 65. 019, which was not elevated to it on review, the same having already attained finality by then.

To emphasize this procedural point, then Commissioner, later to become a distinguished Member of this While it may be conceded that the Comelec stepped overboard and acted in excess of its jurisdiction
Court, Mr. Justice Florenz Regalado responded to Commissioner Bernas' query during the deliberations when it motu proprio took cognizance of SPA No. 98-019, the decision in which was by then already final,
of the 1987 Constitution thusly: it does not necessarily follow that the Comelec also committed grave abuse of discretion in resolving to
grant private respondent's motion for reconsideration by nullifying the substitution of petitioner Joel G.
FR. BERNAS. So, for purposes of the record, now, what is the intention of the Committee? What are the Miranda. Evidently, what is under review before us in this certiorari proceedings is SPA No. 98-288, and
grounds for certiorari? not SPA No. 98-019.

MR. REGALADO. The Committee refers specifically to a technical term of review by certiorari would be The question to answer is: will the Comelec's act which may constitute an excess of jurisdiction in SPA
relying on the provision of Rule XLV [Should be LXV] of the Rules of Court that laid down the three No. 98-019 be tantamount to an act of grave abuse of discretion in its judgment in the separate and
grounds. distinct case of SPA No. 98-288 as well? Clearly, non sequitur. SPA No. 98-288 should be judged on its
own accord, and not under the shadow of SPA No. 98-019.
(I RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION, p. 539, as cited in Bernas, S.J, The 1987 Constitution
of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary, 1996 Edition, p. 903.) Comelec committed no grave abuse of discretion, in resolving SPA No. 98-288 in favor of private
respondent. As earlier pointed out, the result in the dispositive portion of the December 8, 1998
Thus, we have to be guided by jurisprudence relating to review by certiorari under Rule 65. Generally, resolution pertaining to the issues involved in SPA No. 98-288 is correct insofar as it annulled the election
certiorari lies where a court has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of and proclamation of Joel G. Miranda. But even assuming for the sake of argument that it is not, still, this
discretion. "Without jurisdiction" refers to an absolute want of jurisdiction; "excess of jurisdiction" refers supposed error does not constitute grave abuse of discretion which may be annulled and reversed in the
to the case where the court has jurisdiction, but it transcended the same or acted without any statutory present petition for certiorari.
authority; "grave abuse of discretion" implies such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is
equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. As earlier elucidated too, the crux of the Comelec's disposition in SPA No. 98-288 is the fact that former
candidate Jose "Pempe" Miranda's certificate of candidacy was denied due course and cancelled. There
Even assuming for the sake of argument that the Comelec committed an error in the exercise of its is no dispute that the complaint or petition filed by private respondent in SPA No. 98-019 is one to deny
jurisdiction in the present case, such is not within the province of certiorari, as a remedial measure, to due course and to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Jose "Pempe" Miranda (Rollo, pp. 26-31). There
correct. The only issue that may be taken cognizance of in the present case is whether or not the is likewise no question that the said petition was GRANTED without any qualification whatsoever. It is
Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in rendering the assailed decision. rather clear, therefore, that whether or not the Comelec granted any further relief in SPA No. 98-019 by
disqualifying the candidate, the fact remains that the said petition was granted and that the certificate of
It is well-settled that an act of a court or tribunal may only be considered to have been done in grave candidacy of Jose "Pempe" Miranda was denied due course and cancelled. In fact, it was not even
abuse of discretion when the same was performed in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment necessary for the Comelec to reiterate this in its December 8, 1998 resolution. At best, the Comelec's
which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to motu proprio act of resurrecting SPA No. 98-019 should be treated as a mere surplusage. The fact that
amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined or to act at all in the certificate of candidacy of Joel "Pempe" Miranda was denied due course and cancelled did not
contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of depend on the en banc resolution dated December 8, 1998 of the Comelec. It stems from the fact that
passion or personal hostility (Intestate Estate of Carmen de Luna vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 170 the May 5, 1998 resolution GRANTED private respondent's Petition to Deny Due Course to and/or Cancel
SCRA 246 [1989]; Litton Mills vs. Galleon Traders, 163 SCRA 489 [1988]; Butuan Bay Export Co. vs. Court Certificate of Candidacy.
of Appeals, 97 SCRA 297 [1980]). An error of judgment committed in the exercise of its legitimate
jurisdiction is not the same as "grave abuse of discretion". An abuse of discretion is not sufficient by itself Verily, there is clear basis to find that there indeed was a blatant misrepresentation in the instant case
to justify the issuance of a writ of certiorari. The abuse must be grave and patent, and it must be shown and that it was a valid ground for the granting of the petition in SPA No. 98-019. Also, there appears to
that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily and despotically (Soriano vs. Atienza, 171 SCRA 284 [1989]). be sound basis to rule that a certificate of candidacy which has been denied due course on account of
45

misrepresentation is, in every legal contemplation, no certificate at all. Ergo, there is nothing to To simplistically assume that the second placer would have received the other votes would be to
substitute. If this judgment, rendered in the Comelec's rightful exercise of its jurisdiction in SPA No. 98- substitute our judgment for the mind of the voter. The second placer is just that, a second placer. He lost
288 may, at all, be considered flawed, this blemish would only constitute an error of judgment and the elections. He was repudiated by either a majority or plurality of voters. He could not be considered
definitely not grave abuse of discretion. And, of course, errors of judgment may not be corrected by the first among qualified candidates because in a field which excludes the disqualified candidate, the
certiorari. conditions would have substantially changed. We are not prepared to extrapolate the results under the
circumstances.
It may be noted that Commissioner Flores raised this supposed error in her dissenting opinion (pp. 93-
99, Rollo). However, her legal opinion failed to convince the majority of the collegiate body and was not Garcia's plea that the votes case for Reyes be invalidated is without merit. The votes cast for Reyes are
adopted by the Commission en banc. This Court in the present certiorari proceedings cannot substitute presumed to have been cast in the belief that Reyes was qualified and for that reason can be treated as
its judgment for that of the Comelec without violating the Constitution and the Rules of Court on the stray, void and meaningless. The subsequent finding that he is disqualified cannot retroact to the date of
matter. The Comelec's decision is not subject to appeal to this Court. We may only strike out a Comelec the elections as to invalidate the votes cast for him.
decision if it was rendered without jurisdiction, in excess thereof, or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. Consequently, respondent Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion insofar as it failed to follow the
above doctrine, a descendant of our ruling in Labo v. Comelec (176 SCRA 1[1989]).
The Court cannot accede to the reasoning that this Court should now acquiesce and submit to the
sovereign will of the electorate, as expressed by their votes. We should always be reminded that ours is Thus, the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion insofar as it failed to follow the above-cited
a government of laws not of men. If this Court should fold its arms and refuse to apply the law at every settled ruling consistently applied by this Court since the case of Labo vs. Comelec (176 SCRA 1 [1989]),
"clamor" of the majority of the supposed constituency, where shall order and justice lie? Without the Aquino vs. Comelec, 248 SCRA 400 [1995], Reyes vs. Comelec (254 SCRA 514 [1996]); and Nolasco vs.
least intention to degrade, where shall "people power" end, and where shall "law and justice" begin? Comelec (275 SCRA 763 [1997]).
Would the apparent results of the canvassing of votes justify this Court in refusing to apply the law
instead? The answers to the foregoing are obvious. The Court cannot choose otherwise but to exercise Even as the Court cannot accede to the contention that, in view of the election results pointing to
its sacred duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the Republic for and under which it exists. petitioner as the electors' choice for the mayoralty post, we should now close our eyes to the pertinent
Besides, only history will discern whether Jose "Pempe" Miranda's filing of a certificate of candidacy for a provisions of the Omnibus Election Code on the matter, nevertheless, the Court duly notes that the said
4th term and the intended substitution by his son was a ploy to perpetrate the Mirandas in power by election results point to the fact that private respondent was not then the choice of the people of
way of a political dynasty disdained and abhorred by our Constitution which declared: Santiago City, Isabela. This Court has no authority under any law to impose upon and compel the people
of Santiago City to accept private respondent as their mayor. The law on succession under section 44 of
Sec. 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, would then apply. Said provision
dynasties as may be defined by law. relevantly states:

(Article II, 1987 Constitution) Sec. 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 vice-governor or vice-mayor
The invalidation of petitioner's supposed substitution of Jose "Pempe" Miranda brings about the concerned shall become the governor or mayor. If a permanent vacancy occurs in the offices of the
disqualification of petitioner in the mayoralty race. In this regard, what was said in Nolasco vs. governor, vice governor, mayor, or vice mayor, the highest ranking sanggunian member, or, in case of his
Commission on Elections (275 SCRA 763 [1997]) may be recalled: permanent disability, 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
Our case law is now settled that in a mayoralty election, the candidate who obtained the second highest automatically by the other sanggunian members according to their ranking as defined herein.
number of votes, in this case Alarilla, cannot be proclaimed winner in case the winning candidate is
disqualified. Thus, we reiterated the rule in the fairly recent case of Reyes v. Comelec (254 SCRA 514 For purposes of this Chapter, a permanent vacancy arises when an elective local official fills a higher
[1996]), viz.: 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.
We likewise find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Comelec in denying petitioner Julius O.
Garcia's petition to be proclaimed mayor in view of the disqualification of Renato U. Reyes. For purposes of succession as provided in this Chapter, ranking in the sanggunian shall be determined on
the basis of the proportion of votes obtained by each winning candidate to the total number of
That the candidate who obtains the second highest number of votes may not be proclaimed winner in registered voters in each district in the immediately preceding local election.
case the winning candidate is disqualified is now settled. The doctrinal instability caused by see-sawing
rulings has since been removed. In the latest ruling on the question, this Court said:
46

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby partly DENIED, insofar as the Comelec ruling to ANNUL the election HELD:
and proclamation of petitioner is being AFFIRMED. The petition is, however, hereby GRANTED so as to
MODIFY the resolution of the Comelec in SPA No. 98-288 by DELETING the portion directing the city The Court finds neither lack of jurisdiction nor grave abuse of discretion attended the annulment of the
board of canvassers to reconvene and proclaim the winning candidate from among those voted upon substitution and proclamation of petitioner. On the matter of jurisdiction, there is no question that the
during the May 11, 1998 elections. The law on succession should be enforced. Accordingly, the case at hand is within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Comelec. On the issue of soundness of the
restraining order issued in this case is forthwith LIFTED. disposition in SPA No. 8-288, the Court finds that the Comelecs action nullifying the substitution by and
proclamation of petitioner for the mayoralty post of Santiago City, Isabela is proper and legally sound. All
SO ORDERED. told, a disqualified candidate may only be substituted if he had a valid certificate of candidacy in the first
place because, if the disqualified candidate did not have a valid and seasonably filed certificate of
JOEL G. MIRANDA, Petitioner, vs. ANTONIO M. ABAYA and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, candidacy, he is and was not a candidate at all. If a person was not a candidate, he cannot be substituted
Respondents. MELO, J. : under Section 77 of the Code. Besides, if we were to allow the so-called substitute to file a new and
original certificate of candidacy beyond the period for the filing thereof, it would be a crystalline case of
FACTS: unequal protection of the law, an act abhorred by our Constitution.

On March 24, 1998, Jose Pempe Miranda, then incumbent mayor of Santiago City, Isabela, filed his The question to settle next is whether or not aside from Joel Pempe Miranda being disqualified by the
certificate of candidacy for the same mayoralty post for the synchronized May 11, 1998 elections. On Comelec in its May 5, 1998 resolution, his certificate of candidacy had likewise been denied due course
March 27, 1998, private respondent Antonio M. Abaya filed a Petition to Deny Due Course to and/or and cancelled. The Court rules that it was. Comelec committed no grave abuse of discretion in resolving
Cancel Certificate of Candidacy (pp. 26-33, Rollo), which was docketed as SPA No. 98-019. The petition SPA No. 98-288 in favor of private respondent. As earlier pointed out, the result in the dispositive portion
was GRANTED by the Comelec in its resolution dated May 5, 1998 (pp. 36-43, Rollo). The Comelec further of the December 8, 1998 resolution pertaining to the issues involved in SPA No. 98-288 is correct insofar
ruled to DISQUALIFY Jose Pempe Miranda. as it annulled the election and proclamation of Joel G. Miranda. But even assuming for the sake of
argument that it is not, still, this supposed error does not constitute grave abuse of discretion which may
On May 6, 1998, way beyond the deadline for filing a certificate of candidacy, petitioner Joel G. Miranda be annulled and reversed in the present petition for certiorari.
filed his certificate of candidacy for the mayoralty post, supposedly as a substitute for his father, Jose
Pempe During the May 11, 1998 elections, petitioner and private respondent vied for the mayoralty seat,
with petitioner garnering 22,002 votes, 1,666 more votes than private respondent who got only 20, 336
votes. On May 13, 1998, private respondent filed a Petition to Declare Null and Void Substitution with
Prayer for Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order, which was
docketed as SPA No. 98-288.

He prayed for the nullification of petitioners certificate of candidacy for being void ab initio because the
certificate of candidacy of Jose Pempe Miranda, whom petitioner was supposed to substitute, had
already been cancelled and denied due course. On May 16, 1998, Comelecs First Division dismissed SPA
No. 98-288 motu proprio (pp. 57-61, Rollo). Private respondent moved for reconsideration (pp. 62-72,
Rollo). On December 8, 1998, the Comelec En Banc rendered the assailed decision aforequoted,
resolving to GRANT the motion for reconsideration, thus nullifying the substitution by petitioner Joel G.
Miranda of his father as candidate for the mayoralty post of Santiago City. On December 9, 1998,
petitioner sought this Courts intercession via a petition for certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of a
temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction.

ISSUES:

1. Whether the annulment of petitioners substitution and proclamation was issued without
jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction; and
2. Whether the order of the Comelec directing the proclamation of the private respondent was
issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
47

EN BANC complied with the requirements of RA No. 9225 since he had taken his Oath of Allegiance to the
Philippines and had validly renounced his Canadian citizenship, he failed to comply with the other
requirements provided under RA No. 9225 for those seeking elective office, i.e., persons who renounced
G.R. No. 209835, September 22, 2015
their foreign citizenship must still comply with the one year residency requirement provided for under
Section 39 of the Local Government Code. Petitioner's naturalization as a Canadian citizen resulted in the
ROGELIO BATIN CABALLERO, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND JONATHAN ENRIQUE V. abandonment of his domicile of origin in Uyugan, Batanes; thus, having abandoned his domicile of origin,
NANUD, JR., Respondents. it is incumbent upon him to prove that he was able to reestablish his domicile in Uyugan for him to be
eligible to run for elective office in said locality which he failed to do.
DECISION
Elections were subsequently held on May 13, 2013 and the election returns showed that petitioner won
over private respondent.8 Private respondent filed an Urgent Ex-parte Motion to Defer Proclamation.9
PERALTA, J.:
On May 14, 2013, petitioner was proclaimed Mayor of Uyugan, Batanes.
Before us is a petition for certiorari with prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order seeking to
set aside the Resolution1 dated November 6, 2013 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En Banc On May 16, 2013, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the COMELEC En Banc assailing the
which affirmed in toto the Resolution2 dated May 3, 2013 of the COMELEC First Division canceling the May 3, 2013 Resolution issued by the COMELEC's First Division canceling his COC.
Certificate of Candidacy (COC) of petitioner Rogelio Batin Caballero.
On May 17, 2013, private respondent filed a Petition to Annul Proclamation.10
Petitioner3 and private respondent Jonathan Enrique V. Nanud, Jr.4 were both candidates for the
mayoralty position of the Municipality of Uyugan, Province of Batanes in the May 13, 2013 elections. On November 6, 2013, the COMELEC En Banc issued its assailed Resolution denying petitioner's motion
Private respondent filed a Petition5 to deny due course to or cancellation of petitioner's certificate of for reconsideration.
candidacy alleging that the latter made a false representation when he declared in his COC that he was
eligible to run for Mayor of Uyugan, Batanes despite being a Canadian citizen and a non�resident Petitioner filed with us the instant petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a temporary
thereof. restraining order.

During the December 10, 2012 conference, petitioner, through counsel, manifested that he was not In the meantime, private respondent filed a Motion for Execution11 of the May 3, 2013 Resolution of the
properly served with a copy of the petition and the petition was served by registered mail not in his COMELEC First Division as affirmed by the En Banc and prayed for the cancellation of petitioner's COC,
address in Barangay Imnajbu, Uyugan, Batanes. He, however, received a copy of the petition during the the appropriate correction of the certificate of canvas to reflect that all votes in favor of petitioner are
conference. Petitioner did not file an Answer but filed a Memorandum controverting private stray votes, declaration of nullity of petitioner's proclamation and proclamation of private respondent as
respondent's substantial allegations in his petition. the duly-elected Mayor of Uyugan, Batanes in the May 13, 2013 elections.

Petitioner argued that prior to the filing of his COC on October 3, 2012, he took an Oath of Allegiance to On December 12, 2013, COMELEC Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. issued a Writ of Execution.12 Private
the Republic of the Philippines before the Philippine Consul General in Toronto, Canada on September respondent took his Oath of Office13 on December 20, 2013.
13, 2012 and became a dual Filipino and Canadian citizen pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 9225,
otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003. Thereafter, he renounced In the instant petition for certiorari, petitioner raises the following assignment of errors, to wit:
his Canadian citizenship and executed an Affidavit of Renunciation before a Notary Public in Batanes on
October 1, 2012 to conform with Section 5(2) of RA No. 9225.6 He claimed that he did not lose his THE COMELEC EN BANC GRAVELY ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE CLEAR IMPORT OF PROCEDURAL RULES
domicile of origin in Uyugan, Batanes despite becoming a Canadian citizen as he merely left Uyugan PROVIDED FOR UNDER COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 9523 PROMULGATED ON 25 SEPTEMBER 2012.
temporarily to pursue a brighter future for him and his family; and that he went back to Uyugan during
his vacation while working in Nigeria, California, and finally in Canada. THE COMELEC EN BANC GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT PETITIONER ABANDONED HIS PHILIPPINE
DOMICILE WHEN HE WORKED IN SEVERAL FOREIGN COUNTRIES FOR "GREENER PASTURE."
On May 3, 2013, the COMELEC First Division issued a Resolution finding that petitioner made a material
misrepresentation in his COC when he declared that he is a resident of Barangay Imnajbu, Uyugan, EVEN ASSUMING THAT PETITIONER HAS ABANDONED HIS PHILIPPINE DOMICILE WHEN HE BECAME A
Batanes within one year prior to the election. The decretal portion of the resolution reads: CANADIAN CITIZEN, HIS REACQUISITION OF HIS FILIPINO CITIZENSHIP, TAKING OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO
THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT NINE (9) MONTHS PRIOR TO HIS ELECTION ON 13 MAY 2013, IS A
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES to GRANT the SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW ON RESIDENCY.14chanrobleslaw
instant Petition. The Certificate of Candidacy of respondent Caballero is hereby CANCELLED.
Petitioner contends that when private respondent filed a petition to deny due course or to cancel his
COC with the Office of the Municipal Election Officer of Uyugan, Batanes, a copy thereof was not
The COMELEC First Division did not discuss the procedural deficiency raised by petitioner as he was personally served on him; that private respondent later sent a copy of the petition to him by registered
already given a copy of the petition and also in consonance with the Commission's constitutional duty of mail without an attached affidavit stating the reason on why registered mail as a mode of service was
determining the qualifications of petitioner to run for elective office. It found that while petitioner resorted to. Petitioner argues that private respondent violated Section 4, paragraphs (1)15 and (4),16 Rule
48

23 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, as amended by COMELEC Resolution No. 9523, thus, his petition the COMELEC's suspension of its own rules. We adopt the COMELEC's s ratiocination in accepting the
to deny due course or cancel petitioner's certificate of candidacy should have been denied outright. petition, to wit:

We are not convinced. This Commission recognizes the failure of petitioner to comply strictly with the procedure for filing a
petition to deny due course to or cancel certificate of candidacy set forth in Section 4, Rule 23 of the
While private respondent failed to comply with the above-mentioned requirements, the settled rule, COMELEC Rules of Procedure as amended by COMELEC Resolution No. 9523, which requires service of a
however, is that the COMELEC Rules of Procedure are subject to liberal construction. Moreover, the copy of the petition to respondent prior to its filing. But then, we should also consider the efforts
COMELEC may exercise its power to suspend its own rules as provided under Section 4, Rule 1 of their exerted by petitioner in serving a copy of his petition to respondent after being made aware that such
Rules of Procedure. service is necessary. We should also take note of the impossibility for petitioner to personally serve a
copy of the petition to respondent since he was in Canada at the time of its filing as shown in
Sec. 4. Suspension of the Rules. - In the interest of justice and in order to obtain speedy disposition of all respondent's travel records.
matters pending before the Commission, these rules or any portion thereof may be suspended by the
Commission. The very purpose of prior service of the petition to respondent is to afford the latter an opportunity to
answer the allegations contained in the petition even prior to the service of summons by the
Under this authority, the Commission is similarly enabled to cope with all situations without concerning Commission to him. In this case, respondent was given a copy of the petition during the conference held
itself about procedural niceties that do not square with the need to do justice, in any case without on 10 December 2012 and was ultimately accorded the occasion to rebut all the allegations against him.
further loss of time, provided that the right of the parties to a full day in court is not substantially He even filed a Memorandum containing his defenses to petitioner's allegations. For all intents and
impaired.17 purposes, therefore, respondent was never deprived of due process which is the very essence of this
Commission's Rules of Procedure.
In Hayudini v. COMELEC,18 we sustained the COMELEC's liberal treatment of respondent's petition to
deny due course or cancel petitioner's COC despite its failure to comply with Sections 2 and 4 of Rule 23 Even the Supreme Court acknowledges the need for procedural rules to bow to substantive
of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, as amended by Resolution No. 9523, i.e., pertaining to the period to considerations "through a liberal construction aimed at promoting their objective of securing a just,
file petition and to provide sufficient explanation as to why his petition was not served personally on speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding, x x x
petitioner, respectively, and held that:

As a general rule, statutes providing for election contests are to be liberally construed in order that the When a case is impressed with public interest, a relaxation of the application of the rules is in order,
will of the people in the choice of public officers may not be defeated by mere technical objections.
Moreover, it is neither fair nor just to keep in office, for an indefinite period, one whose right to it is Unquestionably, the instant case is impressed with public interest which warrants the relaxation of the
uncertain and under suspicion. It is imperative that his claim be immediately cleared, not only for the application of the [R]ules of [P]rocedure, consistent with the ruling of the Supreme Court in several
benefit of the winner but for the sake of public interest, which can only be achieved by brushing aside cases.
technicalities of procedure that protract and delay the trial of an ordinary action. This principle was
reiterated in the cases of Tolentino v. Commission on Elections and De Castro v. Commission on Petitioner next claims that he did not abandon his Philippine domicile. He argues that he was born and
Elections, where the Court held that "in exercising its powers and jurisdiction, as defined by its mandate baptized in Uyugan, Batanes; studied and had worked therein for a couple of years, and had paid his
to protect the integrity of elections, the COMELEC must not be straitjacketed by procedural rules in community tax certificate; and, that he was a registered voter and had exercised his right of suffrage and
resolving election disputes." even built his house therein. He also contends that he usually comes back to Uyugan, Batanes during his
vacations from work abroad, thus, his domicile had not been lost. Petitioner avers that the requirement
Settled is the rule that the COMELEC Rules of Procedure are subject to liberal construction. The of the law in fixing the residence qualification of a candidate running for public office is not strictly on
COMELEC has the power to liberally interpret or even suspend its rules of procedure in the interest of the period of residence in the place where he seeks to be elected but on the acquaintance by the
justice, including obtaining a speedy disposition of all matters pending before it. This liberality is for the candidate on his constituents' vital needs for their common welfare; and that his nine months of actual
purpose of promoting the effective and efficient implementation of its objectives - ensuring the holding stay in Uyugan, Batanes prior to his election is a substantial compliance with the law. Petitioner insists
of free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections, as well as achieving just, expeditious, and that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in canceling his COC.
inexpensive determination and disposition of every action and proceeding brought before the COMELEC.
Unlike an ordinary civil action, an election contest is imbued with public interest. It involves not only the We are not persuaded.
adjudication of private and pecuniary interests of rival candidates, but also the paramount need of
dispelling the uncertainty which beclouds the real choice of the electorate. And the tribunal has the RA No. 9225, which is known as the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003, declares that
corresponding duty to ascertain, by all means within its command, whom the people truly chose as their natural-born citizens of the Philippines, who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their
rightful leader. naturalization as citizens of a foreign country, can re-acquire or retain his Philippine citizenship under the
conditions of the law.21 The law does not provide for residency requirement for the reacquisition or
retention of Philippine citizenship; nor does it mention any effect of such reacquisition or retention of
Here, we find that the issue raised, i.e., whether petitioner had been a resident of Uyugan, Batanes at
Philippine citizenship on the current residence of the concerned natural-born Filipino.22
least one (1) year before the elections held on May 13, 2013 as he represented in his COC, pertains to his
qualification and eligibility to run for public office, therefore imbued with public interest, which justified
RA No. 9225 treats citizenship independently of residence.23 This is only logical and consistent with the
49

general intent of the law to allow for dual citizenship. Since a natural-born Filipino may hold, at the same and run for Mayor of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar and whose residency in the said place was put
time, both Philippine and foreign citizenships, he may establish residence either in the Philippines or in in issue, we had the occasion to state, thus:
the foreign country of which he is also a citizen.24 However, when a natural-born Filipino with dual
citizenship seeks for an elective public office, residency in the Philippines becomes material. Section 5(2) [Petitioner's] reacquisition of his Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 had no automatic
of FLA No. 9225 provides: impact or effect on his residence/domicile. He could still retain his domicile in the USA, and he did not
necessarily regain his domicile in the Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar, Philippines. Ty
SEC. 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. - Those who retain or reacquire Philippine citizenship merely had the option to again establish his domicile in the Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern
under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and Samar, Philippines, said place becoming his new domicile of choice. The length of his residence therein
responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following conditions: shall be determined from the time he made it his domicile of choice, and it shall not retroact to the time
of his birth.31chanrobleslaw
(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualifications for holding such
public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the Hence, petitioner's retention of his Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225 did not automatically make
certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before him regain his residence in Uyugan, Batanes. He must still prove that after becoming a Philippine citizen
any public officer authorized to administer an oath. on September 13, 2012, he had reestablished Uyugan, Batanes as his new domicile of choice which is
reckoned from the time he made it as such.
Republic Act No. 7160, which is known as the Local Government Code of 1991, provides, among others,
for the qualifications of an elective local official. Section 39 thereof states: The COMELEC found that petitioner failed to present competent evidence to prove that he was able to
reestablish his residence in Uyugan within a period of one year immediately preceding the May 13, 2013
SEC. 39. Qualifications. - (a) An elective local official must be a citizen of the Philippines; a registered elections. It found that it was only after reacquiring his Filipino citizenship by virtue of RA No. 9225 on
voter in the barangay, municipality, city or province or, in the case of a member of the sangguniang September 13, 2012 that petitioner can rightfully claim that he re-established his domicile in Uyugan,
panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod, or sanggunian bayan, the district where he intends to be Batanes, if such was accompanied by physical presence thereat, coupled with an actual intent to
elected; a resident therein for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the day of the election; and reestablish his domicile there. However, the period from September 13, 2012 to May 12, 2013 was even
able to read and write Filipino or any other local language or dialect. less than the one year residency required by law.

Clearly, the Local Government Code requires that the candidate must be a resident of the place where Doctrinally entrenched is the rule that in a petition for certiorari, findings of fact of administrative
he seeks to be elected at least one year immediately preceding the election day. Respondent filed the bodies, such as respondent COMELEC in the instant case, are final unless grave abuse of discretion has
petition for cancellation of petitioner's COC on the ground that the latter made material marred such factual determinations/~ Clearly, where there is no proof of grave abuse of discretion,
misrepresentation when he declared therein that he is a resident of Uyugan, Batanes for at least one arbitrariness, fraud or error of law in the questioned Resolutions, we may not review the factual findings
year immediately preceeding the day of elections. of COMELEC, nor substitute its own findings on the sufficiency of evidence.33

The term "residence" is to be understood not in its common acceptation as referring to "dwelling" or Records indeed showed that petitioner failed to prove that he had been a resident of Uyugan, Batanes
"habitation," but rather to "domicile" or legal residence,25 that is, "the place where a party actually or for at least one year immediately preceding the day of elections as required under Section 39 of the
constructively has his permanent home, where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, Local Government Code.
eventually intends to return and remain (animus manendi)."26 A domicile of origin is acquired by every
person at birth. It is usually the place where the child's parents reside and continues until the same is Petitioner's argument that his nine (9) months of actual stay in Uyugan, Batanes, prior to the May 13,
abandoned by acquisition of new domicile (domicile of choice). It consists not only in the intention to 2013 local elections is a substantial compliance with the law, is not persuasive. In Aquino v. Commission
reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such on Elections,34 we held:
intention.27
x x x A democratic government is necessarily a government of laws. In a republican government those
Petitioner was a natural born Filipino who was born and raised in Uyugan, Batanes. Thus, it could be said laws are themselves ordained by the people. Through their representatives, they dictate the
that he had his domicile of origin in Uyugan, Batanes. However, he later worked in Canada and became a qualifications necessary for service in government positions. And as petitioner clearly lacks one of the
Canadian citizen. In Coquilla v. COMELEC28 we ruled that naturalization in a foreign country may result in essential qualifications for running for membership in the House of Representatives, not even the will of
an abandonment of domicile in the Philippines. This holds true in petitioner's case as permanent resident a majority or plurality of the voters of the Second District of Makati City would substitute for a
status in Canada is required for the acquisition of Canadian citizenship.29 Hence, petitioner had requirement mandated by the fundamental law itself.35chanrobleslaw
effectively abandoned his domicile in the Philippines and transferred his domicile of choice in Canada.
His frequent visits to Uyugan, Batanes during his vacation from work in Canada cannot be considered as Petitioner had made a material misrepresentation by stating in his COC that he is a resident of Uyugan,
waiver of such abandonment. Batanes for at least one (1) year immediately proceeding the day of the election, thus, a ground for a
petition under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. Section 74, in relation to Section 78, of the OEC
The next question is what is the effect of petitioner's retention of his Philippine citizenship under RA No. governs the cancellation of, and grant or denial of due course to COCs, to wit:
9225 on his residence or domicile?

In Japzon v. COMELEC,30 wherein respondent Ty reacquired his Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225
50

SEC. 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall state that the person It found that while petitioner complied with the requirements of RA No. 9225 since he had taken his
filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is eligible for said office; if Oath of Allegiance to the Philippines and had validly renounced his Canadian citizenship, he failed to
for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the province, including its component cities, highly urbanized comply with the other requirements provided under RA No. 9225 for those... seeking elective office, i.e.,
city or district or sector which he seeks to represent; the political party to which he belongs; civil status; persons who renounced their foreign citizenship must still comply with the one year residency
his date of birth; residence; his post office address for all election purposes; his profession or occupation; requirement provided for under Section 39 of the Local Government Code.
that he will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and
allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and decrees promulgated by the duly Elections were subsequently held... and... petitioner won over private respondent... was proclaimed
constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that the Mayor... petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the COMELEC... canceling his COC.
obligation imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; Private respondent filed a Petition to Annul Proclamation
and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.
COMELEC En Banc... denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
SEC. 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. - A verified petition seeking to
deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy may be filed by any person exclusively on the Petitioner filed with us the instant petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a temporary
ground that any material representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false. restraining order.
The petition may be filed at any time not later than twenty-five days from the time of the filing of the COMELEC Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. issued a Writ of Execution.
certificate of candidacy and shall be decided, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days
before the election. Private respondent took his Oath of Office... claims that he did not abandon his Philippine domicile.
He was born and baptized in Uyugan,... he was a registered voter and had... exercised his right of
We have held that in order to justify the cancellation of COC under Section 78, it is essential that the
suffrage and even built his house therein.
false representation mentioned therein pertains to a material matter for the sanction imposed by this
provision would affect the substantive rights of a candidate - the right to run for the elective post for Also contends that he usually comes back to Uyugan
which he filed the certificate of candidacy.36 We concluded that material representation contemplated
by Section 78 refers to qualifications for elective office, such as the requisite residency, age, citizenship Petitioner insists that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in canceling his COC.
or any other legal qualification necessary to run for a local elective office as provided for in the Local
Issues: Whether petitioner had been a resident of Uyugan, Batanes at least one (1) year before the
Government Code.37 Furthermore, aside from the requirement of materiality, the misrepresentation
elections held on May 13, 2013 as he represented in his CO... what is the effect of petitioner's retention
must consist of a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render
of his Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225 on his residence or domicile?
a candidate ineligible.38 We, therefore, find no grave abuse of discretion committed by the COMELEC in
canceling petitioner's COC for material misrepresentation. Ruling:

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED. The Resolution dated May 3, 2013 of the We are not persuaded.
COMELEC First Division and the Resolution dated November 6, 2013 of the COMELEC En Banc and are
RA No. 9225, which is known as the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003, declares that
hereby AFFIRMED.
natural-born citizens of the Philippines, who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their
naturalization as citizens of a foreign country, can re-acquire or... retain his Philippine citizenship under
SO ORDERED.
the conditions of the law.

The law does not provide for residency requirement for the reacquisition or retention of Philippine
Facts: citizenship; nor does it mention any effect of such reacquisition or retention of

Petitioner... and private respondent Jonathan Enrique V. Nanud, Jr. were both candidates for the Philippine citizenship on the current residence of the concerned natural-born Filipino.
mayoralty position of the Municipality of Uyugan, Province of Batanes in the May 13, 2013 elections.
RA No. 9225 treats citizenship independently of residence.
Private respondent filed a Petition... cancellation of petitioner's certificate of candidacy alleging that the
latter made a false representation when he declared in his COC that he was eligible to run for Mayor... Since a natural-born Filipino may hold, at the same time, both Philippine and foreign... citizenships, he
despite being a Canadian... citizen and a nonresident thereof. may establish residence either in the Philippines or in the foreign country of which he is also a citizen.
Petitioner argued that prior to the filing of his COC... he took an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the However, when a natural-born Filipino with dual citizenship seeks for an elective public office, residency
Philippines before the Philippine Consul General in Toronto, Canada on... and became a dual Filipino and in the Philippines... becomes material.
Canadian citizen pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 9225. Thereafter, he renounced his Canadian
citizenship and executed an Affidavit of Renunciation before a Notary Public in Batanes on 2012. al Government Code requires that the candidate must be a resident of the place where he seeks to be
elected at least one year immediately preceding the election day.
On 2013 COMELEC... issued a Resolution finding that petitioner made a material misrepresentation in
his COC when he declared that he is a resident of Barangay Imnajbu... within one year prior to the Petitioner was a natural born Filipino who was born and raised in Uyugan, Batanes. Thus, it could be said
election. that he had his domicile of origin in Uyugan, Batanes. However, he later worked in Canada and became a
Canadian citizen.
51

naturalization in a foreign country may result in an abandonment of domicile in the Philippines. This
holds true in petitioner's case as permanent resident status in Canada is required for the acquisition of
Canadian citizenship.

Hence, petitioner had effectively abandoned his domicile in the Philippines and transferred his domicile
of choice in Canada. His frequent visits to Uyugan, Batanes during his vacation from work in Canada
cannot be considered as waiver of such abandonment.

[Petitioner's] reacquisition of his Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 had no automatic
impact or effect on his residence/domicile.

Hence, petitioner's retention of his Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225 did not automatically make
him regain his residence in Uyugan, Batanes. He must still prove that after becoming a Philippine citizen
on September 13, 2012, he had reestablished Uyugan, Batanes as his... new domicile of choice which is
reckoned from the time he made it as such.
petitioner failed... to prove that he was able to reestablish his residence in Uyugan within a period of one
year immediately preceding the May 13, 2013 elections... the period from September 13, 2012 to May
12, 2013 was even less than the one year residency required by law.
We concluded that material representation contemplated by Section 78 refers to qualifications for
elective office, such as the requisite residency, age, citizenship or any... other legal qualification
necessary to run for a local elective office as provided for in the Local Government Code.
Furthermore, aside from the requirement of materiality, the misrepresentation must consist of a
deliberate attempt to mislead,... misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate
ineligible.

We, therefore, find no grave abuse of discretion committed by the COMELEC in canceling petitioner's
COC for material misrepresentation.
52

EN BANC Maliksi then came to the Court via petition for certiorari, reiterating his objections to the decryption,
printing, and examination of the ballot images without prior notice to him, and to the use of the
printouts of the ballot images in the recount proceedings conducted by the First Division.1âwphi1
G.R. No. 203302 April 11, 2013

In the decision promulgated on March 12, 2013, the Court, by a vote of 8-7, dismissed Maliksi’s petition
MAYOR EMMANUEL L. MALIKSI, Petitioner,
for certiorari. The Court concluded that Maliksi had not been denied due process because: (a) he had
vs.
received notices of the decryption, printing, and examination of the ballot images by the First Division —
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND HOMER T. SAQUILAVAN, Respondents.
referring to the orders of the First Division directing Saquilayan to post and augment the cash deposits
for the decryption and printing of the ballot images; and (b) he had been able to raise his objections to
RESOLUTION the decryption in his motion for reconsideration. The Court then pronounced that the First Division did
not abuse its discretion in deciding to use the ballot images instead of the paper ballots, explaining that
BERSAMIN, J.: the printouts of the ballot images were not secondary images, but considered original documents with
the same evidentiary value as the official ballots under the Rule on Electronic Evidence; and that the First
Division’s finding that the ballots and the ballot boxes had been tampered had been fully established by
The Court hereby resolves the Extremely Urgent Motion for Reconsideration tiled by petitioner the large number of cases of double-shading discovered during the revision.
Emmanuel L. Maliksi against the Court's decision promulgated on March 12, 2013, dismissing his petition
for certiorari assailing the resolution dated September 14, 2012 of the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) En Bane that sustained the declaration of respondent Homer T. Saquilayan as the duly In his Extremely Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, Maliksi raises the following arguments, to wit:
elected Mayor of Imus, Cavite.
I.
For clarity, we briefly restate the factual antecedents.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT EN BANC GRAVELY ERRED IN DISMISSING
During the 2010 Elections, the Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed Saquilayan the winner for the THE INSTANT PETITION DESPITE A CLEAR VIOLATION OF PETITIONER’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DUE
position of Mayor of Imus, Cavite. Maliksi, the candidate who garnered the second highest number of PROCESS OF LAW CONSIDERING THAT DECRYPTION, PRINTING AND EXAMINATION OF THE DIGITAL
votes, brought an election protest in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Imus, Cavite alleging that there IMAGES OF THE BALLOTS, WHICH IS THE BASIS FOR THE ASSAILED 14 SEPTEMBER 2012 RESOLUTION OF
were irregularities in the counting of votes in 209 clustered precincts. Subsequently, the RTC held a THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT, WHICH IN TURN AFFIRMED THE 15 AUGUST 2012 RESOLUTION OF THE
revision of the votes, and, based on the results of the revision, declared Maliksi as the duly elected COMELEC FIRST DIVISION, WERE DONE INCONSPICUOUSLY UPON A MOTU PROPRIO DIRECTIVE OF THE
Mayor of Imus commanding Saquilayan to cease and desist from performing the functions of said office. COMELEC FIRST DIVISION SANS ANY NOTICE TO THE PETITIONER, AND FOR THE FIRST TIME ON APPEAL.
Saquilayan appealed to the COMELEC. In the meanwhile, the RTC granted Maliksi’s motion for execution
pending appeal, and Maliksi was then installed as Mayor. II.

In resolving the appeal, the COMELEC First Division, without giving notice to the parties, decided to WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT EN BANC GRAVELY ERRED IN UPHOLDING
recount the ballots through the use of the printouts of the ballot images from the CF cards. Thus, it THE COMELEC FIRST DIVISION’S RULING TO DISPENSE WITH THE PHYSICAL BALLOTS AND RESORT TO
issued an order dated March 28, 2012 requiring Saquilayan to deposit the amount necessary to defray THEIR DIGITAL IMAGES NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE BALLOTS ARE THE BEST AND MOST
the expenses for the decryption and printing of the ballot images. Later, it issued another order dated CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE OF THE VOTERS’ WILL, AND THAT BALLOT IMAGES CAN BE RESORTED TO ONLY IF
April 17, 2012 for Saquilayan to augment his cash deposit. THE OFFICIAL BALLOTS ARE LOST OR THEIR INTEGRITY WAS COMPROMISED AS DETERMINED BY THE
RECOUNT/REVISION COMMITTEE, CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ARE WANTING IN THIS CASE, AND IN FACT
On August 15, 2012, the First Division issued a resolution nullifying the RTC’s decision and declaring THE INTEGRITY OF THE BALLOT BOXES AND ITS CONTENTS WAS PRESERVED AND THE ISSUE OF
Saquilayan as the duly elected Mayor.1 TAMPERING WAS ONLY BELATEDLY RAISED BY THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT AFTER THE REVISION RESULTS
SHOWED THAT HE LOST.

Maliksi filed a motion for reconsideration, alleging that he had been denied his right to due process
because he had not been notified of the decryption proceedings. He argued that the resort to the III.
printouts of the ballot images, which were secondary evidence, had been unwarranted because there
was no proof that the integrity of the paper ballots had not been preserved. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, IT IS THE HUMBLE SUBMISSION OF THE PETITIONER-MOVANT THAT THE 12
MARCH 2013 RESOLUTION ISSUED BY THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT EN BANC IS NULL AND VOID AB
On September 14, 2012, the COMELEC En Banc resolved to deny Maliksi’s motion for reconsideration.2 INITIO AND THEREFORE OF NO FORCE AND EFFECT, FOR HAVING BEEN PROMULGATED DESPITE THE
ABSENCE OF HONORABLE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ AT THE TIME OF THE
DELIBERATION AND VOTING ON THE 12 MARCH 2013 RESOLUTION IN THE INSTANT CASE.3
53

Maliksi insists: (a) that he had the right to be notified of every incident of the proceedings and to be Based on the pronouncement in Alliance of Barangay Concerns (ABC) v. Commission on Elections, the
present at every stage thereof; (b) that he was deprived of such rights when he was not informed of the power of the COMELEC to adopt procedures that will ensure the speedy resolution of its cases should
decryption, printing, and examination of the ballot images by the First Division; (c) that the March 28, still be exercised only after giving to all the parties the opportunity to be heard on their opposing claims.
2012 and April 17, 2012 orders of the First Division did not sufficiently give him notice inasmuch as the The parties’ right to be heard upon adversarial issues and matters is never to be waived or sacrificed, or
orders did not state the date, time, and venue of the decryption and printing of the ballot images; and to be treated so lightly because of the possibility of the substantial prejudice to be thereby caused to the
(d) that he was thus completely deprived of the opportunity to participate in the decryption proceedings. parties, or to any of them. Thus, the COMELEC En Banc should not have upheld the First Division’s
deviation from the regular procedure in the guise of speedily resolving the election protest, in view of its
failure to provide the parties with notice of its proceedings and an opportunity to be heard, the most
Maliksi contends that the First Division’s motu proprio directive for the decryption, printing, and
basic requirements of due process.
examination of the ballot images was highly irregular. In this regard, he asserts: (a) that the decryption,
printing, and examination should have taken place during the revision before the trial court and after the
revision committee had determined that the integrity of the official ballots had not been preserved; (b) I.
that the trial court did not make such determination; (c) that, in fact, Saquilayan did not allege or present
any proof in the RTC to show that the ballots or the ballot boxes had been tampered, and had, in fact,
Due process requirements
actively participated in the revision proceedings; (d) that the First Division should not have entertained
the allegation of ballot tampering belatedly raised on appeal; (e) that the First Division should have
limited itself to reviewing the evidence on record; and (f) that the First Division did not even explain how The picture images of the ballots are electronic documents that are regarded as the equivalents of the
it had arrived at the conclusion that the integrity of the ballots had not been preserved. original official ballots themselves.6 In Vinzons-Chato v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal,7 the
Court held that "the picture images of the ballots, as scanned and recorded by the PCOS, are likewise
‘official ballots’ that faithfully capture in electronic form the votes cast by the voter, as defined by
Maliksi submits that the decision promulgated on March 12, 2013 is null and void for having been
Section 2(3) of R.A. No. 9369. As such, the printouts thereof are the functional equivalent of the paper
promulgated despite the absence from the deliberations and lack of signature of Justice Jose Portugal
ballots filled out by the voters and, thus, may be used for purposes of revision of votes in an electoral
Perez.
protest."

Ruling
That the two documents—the official ballot and its picture image—are considered "original documents"
simply means that both of them are given equal probative weight. In short, when either is presented as
The Court grants Maliksi’s Extremely Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, and reverses the decision evidence, one is not considered as weightier than the other.
promulgated on March 12, 2013 on the ground that the First Division of the COMELEC denied to him the
right to due process by failing to give due notice on the decryption and printing of the ballot images.
But this juridical reality does not authorize the courts, the COMELEC, and the Electoral Tribunals to
Consequently, the Court annuls the recount proceedings conducted by the First Division with the use of
quickly and unilaterally resort to the printouts of the picture images of the ballots in the proceedings
the printouts of the ballot images.
had before them without notice to the parties. Despite the equal probative weight accorded to the
official ballots and the printouts of their picture images, the rules for the revision of ballots adopted
It bears stressing at the outset that the First Division should not have conducted the assailed recount for their respective proceedings still consider the official ballots to be the primary or best evidence of
proceedings because it was then exercising appellate jurisdiction as to which no existing rule of the voters’ will. In that regard, the picture images of the ballots are to be used only when it is first
procedure allowed it to conduct a recount in the first instance. The recount proceedings authorized shown that the official ballots are lost or their integrity has been compromised.
under Section 6, Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as amended, are to be conducted by the
COMELEC Divisions only in the exercise of their exclusive original jurisdiction over all election protests
For instance, the aforesaid Section 6, Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804 (In Re: Comelec Rules of
involving elective regional (the autonomous regions), provincial and city officials.4
Procedure on Disputes In An Automated Election System in Connection with the May 10, 2010 Elections),
as amended by COMELEC Resolution No. 9164, itself requires that "the Recount Committee determines
As we see it, the First Division arbitrarily arrogated unto itself the conduct of the recount proceedings, that the integrity of the ballots has been violated or has not been preserved, or are wet and otherwise in
contrary to the regular procedure of remanding the protest to the RTC and directing the reconstitution such a condition that (the ballots) cannot be recounted" before the printing of the image of the ballots
of the Revision Committee for the decryption and printing of the picture images and the revision of the should be made, to wit:
ballots on the basis thereof. Quite unexpectedly, the COMELEC En Banc upheld the First Division’s
unwarranted deviation from the standard procedures by invoking the COMELEC’s power to "take such
(g) Only when the Recount Committee, through its chairman, determines that the integrity of the ballots
measures as the Presiding Commissioner may deem proper," and even citing the Court’s minute
has been preserved or that no signs of tampering of the ballots are present, will the recount proceed. In
resolution in Alliance of Barangay Concerns (ABC) Party-List v. Commission on Elections5 to the effect
case there are signs that the ballots contained therein are tampered, compromised, wet or are otherwise
that the "COMELEC has the power to adopt procedures that will ensure the speedy resolution of its
in such a condition that it could not be recounted, the Recount Committee shall follow paragraph (l) of
cases. The Court will not interfere with its exercise of this prerogative so long as the parties are amply
this rule.
heard on their opposing claims."

(l) In the event the Recount Committee determines that the integrity of the ballots has been violated or
has not been preserved, or are wet and otherwise in such a condition that it cannot be recounted, the
54

Chairman of the Committee shall request from the Election Records and Statistics Department (ERSD), All the foregoing rules on revision of ballots stipulate that the printing of the picture images of the
the printing of the image of the ballots of the subject precinct stored in the CF card used in the May 10, ballots may be resorted to only after the proper Revision/Recount Committee has first determined that
2010 elections in the presence of the parties. Printing of the ballot images shall proceed only upon prior the integrity of the ballots and the ballot boxes was not preserved.
authentication and certification by a duly authorized personnel of the Election Records and Statistics
Department (ERSD) that the data or the images to be printed are genuine and not substitutes.
The foregoing rules further require that the decryption of the images stored in the CF cards and the
(Emphases supplied.)
printing of the decrypted images take place during the revision or recount proceedings. There is a good
reason for thus fixing where and by whom the decryption and the printing should be conducted. It is
Section 6, Rule 10 (Conduct of Revision) of the 2010 Rules of Procedure for Municipal Election Contests, during the revision or recount conducted by the Revision/Recount Committee when the parties are
which governs the proceedings in the Regional Trial Courts exercising original jurisdiction over election allowed to be represented, with their representatives witnessing the proceedings and timely raising their
protests, provides: objections in the course of the proceedings. Moreover, whenever the Revision/Recount Committee
makes any determination that the ballots have been tampered and have become unreliable, the parties
are immediately made aware of such determination.
(m) In the event that the revision committee determines that the integrity of the ballots and the ballot
box have not been preserved, as when proof of tampering or substitution exists, it shall proceed to
instruct the printing of the picture image of the ballots stored in the data storage device for the precinct. When, as in the present case, it was not the Revision/Recount Committee or the RTC exercising original
The court shall provide a non-partisan technical person who shall conduct the necessary authentication jurisdiction over the protest that made the finding that the ballots had been tampered, but the First
process to ensure that the data or image stored is genuine and not a substitute. Only after this Division in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, the parties should have been given a formal notice
determination can the printed picture image be used for the recount. (Emphases supplied.) thereof.

A similar procedure is found in the 2010 Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to wit: Maliksi was not immediately made aware of that crucial finding because the First Division did not even
issue any written resolution stating its reasons for ordering the printing of the picture images. The
parties were formally notified that the First Division had found that the ballots had been tampered only
Rule 43. Conduct of the revision. – The revision of votes shall be done through the use of appropriate
when they received the resolution of August 15, 2012, whereby the First Division nullified the decision of
PCOS machines or manually and visually, as the Tribunal may determine, and according to the following
the RTC and declared Saquilayan as the duly elected Mayor. Even so, the resolution of the First Division
procedures:
to that effect was unusually mute about the factual bases for the finding of ballot box tampering, and did
not also particularize how and why the First Division was concluding that the integrity of the ballots had
(q) In the event that the RC determines that the integrity of the ballots and the ballot box was not been compromised. All that the First Division declared as justification was a simple generalization of the
preserved, as when there is proof of tampering or substitution, it shall proceed to instruct the printing of same being apparent from the allegations of ballot and ballot box tampering and upon inspection of the
the picture image of the ballots of the subject precinct stored in the data storage device for the same ballot boxes, viz:
precinct. The Tribunal may avail itself of the assistance of the COMELEC for the service of a non-partisan
technical person who shall conduct the necessary authentication process to ensure that the data or
The Commission (First Division) took into consideration the allegations of ballot and ballot box tampering
images stored are genuine and not merely substitutes. It is only upon such determination that the
and upon inspecting the ballot boxes, it is apparent that the integrity of the ballots had been
printed picture image can be used for the revision of votes. (Emphases supplied.)
compromised so, to be able to best determine the true will of the electorate, we decided to go over the
digital image of the appealed ballots.8(Emphasis supplied)
Also, the House of Representative Electoral Tribunal’s Guidelines on the Revision of Ballots requires a
preliminary hearing to be held for the purpose of determining whether the integrity of the ballots and
It was the COMELEC En Banc’s assailed resolution of September 14, 2012 that later on provided the
ballot boxes used in the May 10, 2010 elections was not preserved, as when there is proof of tampering
explanation to justify the First Division’s resort to the picture images of the ballots, by observing that the
or substitutions, to wit:
"unprecedented number of double-votes" exclusively affecting the position of Mayor and the votes for
Saquilayan had led to the belief that the ballots had been tampered. However, that explanation by the
Section 10. Revision of Ballots COMELEC En Banc did not cure the First Division’s lapse and did not erase the irregularity that had
already invalidated the First Division’s proceedings.
(d) When it has been shown, in a preliminary hearing set by the parties or by the Tribunal, that the
integrity of the ballots and ballot boxes used in the May 10, 2010 elections was not preserved, as when In his dissenting opinion, Justice Antonio T. Carpio advances the view that the COMELEC’s finding of
there is proof of tampering or substitutions, the Tribunal shall direct the printing of the picture images of ballot tampering was a mere surplusage because there was actually no need for such finding before the
the ballots of the subject precinct stored in the data storage device for the same precinct. The Tribunal ballots’ digital counterparts could be used. He cites Section 3, Rule 16 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804,
shall provide a non-partisan technical person who shall conduct the necessary authentication process to as amended by Resolution No. 9164, which states:
ensure that the data or image stored is genuine and not a substitute. It is only upon such determination
that the printed picture image can be used for the revision. (As amended per Resolution of February 10,
Section 3. Printing of Ballot Images. - In case the parties deem it necessary, they may file a motion to be
2011; Emphases supplied.)
approved by the Division of the Commission requesting for the printing of ballot images in addition to
those mentioned in the second paragraph of item (e). Parties concerned shall provide the necessary
55

materials in the printing of images such as but not limited to copying papers, toners and printers. Parties To interpret Section 3 as granting to any one of the parties the right to move for the printing of the ballot
may also secure, upon prior approval by the Division of the Commission, a soft copy of the ballot images images should such party deem it necessary, and the COMELEC may grant such motion, is contrary to its
contained in a secured/hashed disc on the condition that the ballot images be first printed, at the clear wording. Section 3 explicitly states: "in case the parties deem it necessary, they may file a motion."
expense of the requesting party, and that the printed copies be signed by the parties’ respective revisors The provision really envisions a situation in which both parties have agreed that the ballot images should
or representatives and by an ERSD IT-capable representative and deposited with the Commission. be printed. Should only one of the parties move for the printing of the ballot images, it is not Section 3
that applies but Section 6(e), which then requires a finding that the integrity of the ballots has been
compromised.
The Over-all chairman shall coordinate with the Director IV, Election Records and Statistics Department
(ERSD), for the printing of images. Said director shall in turn designate a personnel who will be
responsible in the printing of ballot images. The disregard of Maliksi’s right to be informed of the decision to print the picture images of the ballots
and to conduct the recount proceedings during the appellate stage cannot be brushed aside by the
invocation of the fact that Maliksi was able to file, after all, a motion for reconsideration. To be exact, the
Justice Carpio posits that when a party files a motion for the printing of the ballots that he or she deems
motion for reconsideration was actually directed against the entire resolution of the First Division, while
necessary, there is actually no need for a finding of tampering of the ballots or the ballot boxes before
Maliksi’s claim of due process violation is directed only against the First Division’s recount proceedings
the COMELEC Division may grant the motion. He states that a determination by the parties that the
that resulted in the prejudicial result rendered against him. Notably, the First Division did not issue any
printing is necessary under Section 3 is a ground separate from Section 6(e), which in turn pertinently
order directing the recount. Without the written order, Maliksi was deprived of the chance to seek any
states that:
reconsideration or even to assail the irregularly-held recount through a seasonable petition for certiorari
in this Court. In that context, he had no real opportunity to assail the conduct of the recount
Section 6. Conduct of the Recount – proceedings.

(e) Before the opening of the ballot box, the Recount Committee shall note its condition as well as that The service of the First Division orders requiring Saquilayan to post and augment the cash deposits for
of the locks or locking mechanism and record the condition in the recount report. From its observation, the printing of the picture images did not sufficiently give Maliksi notice of the First Division’s decision to
the Recount Committee must also make a determination as to whether the integrity of the ballot box has print the picture images. The said orders did not meet the requirements of due process because they did
been preserved. not specifically inform Maliksi that the ballots had been found to be tampered. Nor did the orders offer
the factual bases for the finding of tampering. Hence, to leave for Maliksi to surmise on the factual bases
In the event that there are signs of tampering or if the ballot box appears to have been compromised, for finding the need to print the picture images still violated the principles of fair play, because the
the Recount Committee shall still proceed to open the ballot box and make a physical inventory of the responsibility and the obligation to lay down the factual bases and to inform Maliksi as the party to be
contents thereof. The committee shall, however, record its general observation of the ballots and other potentially prejudiced thereby firmly rested on the shoulders of the First Division.
documents found in the ballot box.
Moreover, due process of law does not only require notice of the decryption, printing, and recount
The application of Section 3 to this case is inappropriate, considering that the First Division did not in any proceedings to the parties, but also demands an opportunity to be present at such proceedings or to be
way suggest in its decision dated August 15, 2010 that it was resolving Saquilayan’s motion to print the represented therein. Maliksi correctly contends that the orders of the First Division simply required
ballot images. Instead, the First Division made therein a finding of tampering, thus: Saquilayan to post and augment his cash deposit. The orders did not state the time, date, and venue of
the decryption and recount proceedings. Clearly, the First Division had no intention of giving the parties
the opportunity to witness its proceedings.
The COMELEC (First Division) took into consideration the allegations of ballot and ballot box tampering
and upon inspecting the ballot boxes, it is apparent that the integrity of the ballots had been
compromised so, to be able to best determine the true will of the electorate, we decided to go over the Mendoza v. Commission on Elections9 instructs that notice to the parties and their participation are
digital images of the appealed ballots. required during the adversarial aspects of the proceedings. In that case, after the revision of the ballots
and after the election protest case was submitted for decision, the ballots and ballot boxes were
transferred to the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) in connection with a protest case pending in the SET.
Even the COMELEC En Banc did not indicate in its decision dated September 14, 2012 that the First Mendoza later learned that the COMELEC, with the permission of the SET, had meanwhile conducted
Division merely resolved Saquilayan’s motion for the printing of the ballot images; instead, it reinforced proceedings within the SET’s premises. Mendoza then claimed that his right to due process was violated
the First Division’s finding that there was tampering of the ballots. The non-mention of Saquilayan’s because he had not been given notice by the COMELEC that it would be conducting further proceedings
motion was a clear indication of the COMELEC’s intention to act motu proprio; and also revealed its within the SET premises. The Court did not sustain his claim, however, and pointed out:
interpretation of its very own rules, that there must be justifiable reason, i.e. tampering, before the
ballot images could be resorted to.
After consideration of the respondents’ Comments and the petitioner’s petition and Reply, we hold that
the contested proceedings at the SET ("contested proceedings") are no longer part of the adversarial
The application of Section 3 would only highlight the First Division’s denial of Maliksi’s right to due aspects of the election contest that would require notice of hearing and the participation of the parties.
process. For, if the First Division was really only acting on a motion to allow the printing of the ballot As the COMELEC stated in its Comment and without any contrary or disputing claim in the petitioner’s
images, there was a greater reason for the First Division to have given the parties notice of its ruling Reply:
thereon. But, as herein noted, the First Division did not issue such ruling.
56

"However, contrary to the claim of petitioner, public respondent in the appreciation of the contested participation would the COMELEC’s proceedings attain credibility as to the result. The parties’ presence
ballots in EPC No. 2007-44 simultaneously with the SET in SET Case No. 001-07 is not conducting "further would have ensured that the requisite procedures have been followed, including the required
proceedings" requiring notice to the parties. There is no revision or correction of the ballots because EPC authentication and certification that the images to be printed are genuine. In this regard, the COMELEC
No. 2007-04 was already submitted for resolution. Public respondent, in coordinating with the SET, is was less than candid, and was even cavalier in its conduct of the decryption and printing of the picture
simply resolving the submitted protest case before it. The parties necessarily take no part in said images of the ballots and the recount proceedings. The COMELEC was merely content with listing the
deliberation, which require utmost secrecy. Needless to state, the actual decision-making process is guidelines that the First Division had followed in the appreciation of the ballots and the results of the
supposed to be conducted only by the designated members of the Second Division of the public recount. In short, there was vagueness as to what rule had been followed in the decryption and printing
respondent in strict confidentiality." proceeding.

In other words, what took place at the SET were the internal deliberations of the COMELEC, as a quasi- II.
judicial body, in the course of appreciating the evidence presented and deciding the provincial election
contest on the merits. These deliberations are no different from judicial deliberations which are
Remand to the COMELEC
considered confidential and privileged. We find it significant that the private respondent’s Comment fully
supported the COMELEC’s position and disavowed any participation in the contested proceeding the
petitioner complained about. The petitioner, on the other hand, has not shown that the private We are mindful of the urgent need to speedily resolve the election protest because the term of the
respondent was ever present in any proceeding at the SET relating to the provincial election position involved is about to end. Thus, we overlook pro hac vice the lack of factual basis for the
contest.1âwphi1 COMELEC’s decision to use the digital images of the ballots and sustain its decision thereon. Although a
remand of the election protest to the RTC would have been the appropriate procedure, we direct the
COMELEC En Banc instead to conduct the decryption and printing of the digital images of the ballots and
To conclude, the rights to notice and to be heard are not material considerations in the COMELEC’s
to hold recount proceedings, with due notice to all the parties and opportunity for them to be present
handling of the Bulacan provincial election contest after the transfer of the ballot boxes to the SET; no
and to participate during such proceedings. Nothing less serves the ideal objective safeguarded by the
proceedings at the instance of one party or of COMELEC has been conducted at the SET that would
Constitution.
require notice and hearing because of the possibility of prejudice to the other party. The COMELEC is
under no legal obligation to notify either party of the steps it is taking in the course of deliberating on
the merits of the provincial election contest. In the context of our standard of review for the petition, we In the absence of particular rules to govern its proceedings in accordance with this disposition, the
see no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction committed by the COMELEC COMELEC is urged to follow and observe Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as amended by
in its deliberation on the Bulacan election contest and the appreciation of ballots this deliberation COMELEC Resolution No. 9164.
entailed.10 (Emphasis supplied.)
The Court, by this resolution, does not intend to validate the victory of any of the parties in the 2010
Here, the First Division denominated the proceedings it had conducted as an "appreciation of ballots" Elections. That is not the concern of the Court as yet. The Court simply does not want to countenance a
like in Mendoza. But unlike in Mendoza, the proceedings conducted by the First Division were denial of the fundamental right to due process, a cornerstone of our legal system.11 After all, it is the
adversarial, in that the proceedings included the decryption and printing of the picture images of the Court’s primary duty to protect the basic rights of the people vis-à-vis government actions, thus:
ballots and the recount of the votes were to be based on the printouts of the picture images. The First
Division did not simply review the findings of the RTC and the Revision Committee, but actually It cannot be denied that most government actions are inspired with noble intentions, all geared towards
conducted its own recount proceedings using the printouts of the picture image of the ballots. As such, the betterment of the nation and its people. But then again, it is important to remember this ethical
the First Division was bound to notify the parties to enable them to participate in the proceedings. principle: "The end does not justify the means." No matter how noble and worthy of admiration the
purpose of an act, but if the means to be employed in accomplishing it is simply irreconcilable with
Significantly, Section 6(l), Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No, 8804, as amended by COMELEC Resolution constitutional parameters, then it cannot still be allowed. The Court cannot just turn a blind eye and
No. 9164, requires the parties’ presence during the printing of the images of the ballots, thus: simply let it pass. It will continue to uphold the Constitution and its enshrined principles.12

(l) In the event the Recount Committee determines that the integrity of the ballots has been violated or WHEREFORE, the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the Extremely Urgent Motion for Reconsideration of
has not been preserved, or are wet and otherwise in such a condition that it cannot be recounted, the petitioner Emmanuel Maliksi; REVERSES the Court's decision promulgated on March 12, 2013; and
Chairman of the Committee shall request from the Election Records and Statistics Department (ERSD), DIRECTS the Commission on Elections En Bane to conduct proceedings for the decryption of the picture
the printing of the image of the ballots of the subject precinct stored in the CF card used in the May 10, images of the ballots involved in the protest after due authentication, and for the recount of ballots by
2010 elections in the presence of the parties. Printing of the ballot images shall proceed only upon prior using the printouts of the ballot images, with notice to and in the presence of the parties or their
authentication and certification by a duly authorized personnel of the Election Records and Statistics representatives in accordance with the procedure laid down by Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No.
Department (ERSD) that the data or the images to be printed are genuine and not substitutes. 8804, as amended by Resolution No. 9164.

We should not ignore that the parties’ participation during the revision and recount proceedings would No pronouncement on costs of suit. SO ORDERED.
not benefit only the parties, but was as vital and significant for the COMELEC as well, for only by their
57

Facts: invocation of the fact that Maliksi was able to file, after all, a motion for reconsideration. To be exact, the
motion for reconsideration was actually directed against the entire resolution of the First Division, while
Maliksi’s claim of due process violation is directed only against the First Division’s recount proceedings
During the 2010 Elections, the Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed Saquilayan the winner for the
that resulted in the prejudicial result rendered against him. Notably, the First Division did not issue any
position of Mayor of Imus, Cavite. Maliksi, the candidate who garnered the second highest number of
order directing the recount. Without the written order, Maliksi was deprived of the chance to seek any
votes, brought an election protest in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Imus, Cavite alleging that there
reconsideration or even to assail the irregularly-held recount through a seasonable petition for certiorari
were irregularities in the counting of votes in 209 clustered precincts. Subsequently, the RTC held a
in this Court. In that context, he had no real opportunity to assail the conduct of the recount
revision of the votes, and, based on the results of the revision, declared Maliksi as the duly elected
proceedings.
Mayor of Imus commanding Saquilayan to cease and desist from performing the functions of said office.
Saquilayan appealed to the COMELEC. In the meanwhile, the RTC granted Maliksi’s motion for execution
pending appeal, and Maliksi was then installed as Mayor. In resolving the appeal, the COMELEC First The service of the First Division orders requiring Saquilayan to post and augment the cash deposits for
Division, without giving notice to the parties, decided to recount the ballots through the use of the the printing of the picture images did not sufficiently give Maliksi notice of the First Division’s decision to
printouts of the ballot images from the CF cards. Thus, it issued an order dated March 28, 2012 requiring print the picture images. The said orders did not meet the requirements of due process because they did
Saquilayan to deposit the amount necessary to defray the expenses for the decryption and printing of not specifically inform Maliksi that the ballots had been found to be tampered. Nor did the orders offer
the ballot images. Later, it issued another order dated April 17, 2012 for Saquilayan to augment his cash the factual bases for the finding of tampering. Hence, to leave for Maliksi to surmise on the factual bases
deposit. for finding the need to print the picture images still violated the principles of fair play, because the
responsibility and the obligation to lay down the factual bases and to inform Maliksi as the party to be
potentially prejudiced thereby firmly rested on the shoulders of the First Division.
Issue: Whether or not the conduct of recount by the first division of the COMELEC is proper.

Held:

No. It bears stressing at the outset that the First Division should not have conducted the assailed recount
proceedings because it was then exercising appellate jurisdiction as to which no existing rule of
procedure allowed it to conduct a recount in the first instance. The recount proceedings authorized
under Section 6, Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as amended, are to be conducted by the
COMELEC Divisions only in the exercise of their exclusive original jurisdiction over all election protests
involving elective regional (the autonomous regions), provincial and city officials.

Section 6, Rule 10 (Conduct of Revision) of the 2010 Rules of Procedure for Municipal Election Contests,
which governs the proceedings in the Regional Trial Courts exercising original jurisdiction over election
protests, provides:

(m) In the event that the revision committee determines that the integrity of the ballots and the ballot
box have not been preserved, as when proof of tampering or substitution exists, it shall proceed to
instruct the printing of the picture image of the ballots stored in the data storage device for the precinct.
The court shall provide a non-partisan technical person who shall conduct the necessary authentication
process to ensure that the data or image stored is genuine and not a substitute. Only after this
determination can the printed picture image be used for the recount.

The foregoing rules further require that the decryption of the images stored in the CF cards and the
printing of the decrypted images take place during the revision or recount proceedings. There is a good
reason for thus fixing where and by whom the decryption and the printing should be conducted. It is
during the revision or recount conducted by the Revision/Recount Committee when the parties are
allowed to be represented, with their representatives witnessing the proceedings and timely raising their
objections in the course of the proceedings. Moreover, whenever the Revision/Recount Committee
makes any determination that the ballots have been tampered and have become unreliable, the parties
are immediately made aware of such determination.

The disregard of Maliksi’s right to be informed of the decision to print the picture images of the ballots
and to conduct the recount proceedings during the appellate stage cannot be brushed aside by the
58

EN BANC Nevertheless, the Law Department recommended the dismissal of petitioners’ complaint. Citing the
rulings of this Court in Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC2 and Salcedo II v. COMELEC,3 the Law Department
held that the misrepresentation in private respondent’s certificate of candidacy was not material to his
G.R. No. 172840 June 7, 2007
eligibility as a candidate and could not be a ground for his prosecution.

NELSON T. LLUZ and CATALINO C. ALDEOSA, petitioners,


However, upon motion of petitioners, the COMELEC En Banc by Resolution dated 5 October
vs.
2005 ordered the Law Department to file an information against private respondent for violation of
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and CAESAR O. VICENCIO, respondents.
Section 262 in relation to Section 74 of B.P. 881. In reversing the resolution of the Law Department, the
COMELEC En Banc ruled that Romualdez-Marcosand Salcedo were disqualification cases not applicable
DECISION to the case of private respondent who is sought to be prosecuted for an election offense. As such, the
misrepresentation made by private respondent need not be material to his eligibility as a candidate in
CARPIO, J.: order to hold him liable under Section 262. The COMELEC En Banc further ruled that election offenses
are mala prohibita, in which case no proof of criminal intent is required and good faith, ignorance, or
lack of malice are not valid defenses.
The Case

On 18 October 2005, private respondent moved for reconsideration.


This petition for certiorari1 seeks to annul the Resolutions of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En
Bancdated 1 February 2006 and 25 May 2006 in E.O. Case No. 04-5. The 1 February 2006 resolution ruled
that no probable cause exists to charge private respondent Caesar O. Vicencio with violation of Section The Ruling of the COMELEC
262 in relation to Section 74 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 (B.P. 881), otherwise known as the Omnibus
Election Code. The 25 May 2006 resolution denied petitioners Nelson T. Lluz and Catalino C. Aldeosa’s On 1 February 2006, the COMELEC En Banc reconsidered its earlier Resolution, explaining thus:
motion for reconsideration of the 1 February 2006 resolution.
After a careful evaluation x x x [w]e rule to grant the motion for reconsideration.
The Facts
Criminal intent is not absolutely disregarded in election offense cases. A good example is the provision of
Private respondent was a candidate for the post of punong barangay of Barangay 2, Poblacion, Catubig, Section 261(y)(17) of [B.P. 881], which requires malicious intent in order that a person may be charged
Samar in the 15 July 2002 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. In his certificate for omitting, tampering, or transferring to another list the name of a registered voter from the official list
of candidacy, private respondent stated his profession or occupation as a certified public accountant of voters posted outside the polling place.
(CPA). Private respondent won in the elections.
In relation thereto, the fact that an offense is malum prohibitum does not exempt the same from the
Sometime after private respondent’s proclamation, petitioners charged him before the Law Department coverage of the general principles of criminal law. In this case, the provisions of Section 261 of [B.P. 881]
of the COMELEC (Law Department) with violation of Section 262 in relation to Section 74 of B.P. 881. must not be taken independent of the concepts and theories of criminal law.
Petitioners claimed they had proof that private respondent misrepresented himself as a CPA. Attached
to petitioners’ complaint was a Certification signed by Jose Ariola, Director II, Regulations Office of the
The offense allegedly committed by the respondent is for failure to disclose his true occupation as
Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), stating that private respondent’s name does not appear in
required under Section 74 of [B.P. 881]. Apparently, respondent misrepresented himself as a CPA when
the book of the Board of Accountancy. The book contains the names of those duly authorized to practice
in fact he is not. The misrepresentation having been established, the next issue posited by the parties
accountancy in the Philippines.
is whether or not the misrepresentation should be material before it can be considered as an election
offense.
In his Answer, private respondent maintained that he was a CPA and alleged that he passed the CPA
Board Examinations in 1993 with a rating of 76%. Private respondent argued that he could not be held
We answer in the affirmative. Violation of Section 74 is a species of perjury, which is the act of knowingly
liable for an election offense because his alleged misrepresentation of profession was not material to his
making untruthful statements under oath. Settled is the rule that for perjury to be committed, it must be
eligibility as a candidate.
made with regard to a material matter.

On 21 September 2004, the Law Department through its Director Alioden D. Dalaig issued a subpoena
Clearly, the principle of materiality remains to be a crucial test in determining whether a person can be
requiring the Chief of the PRC’s Records Section to appear before it and settle the controversy on
charged with violating Section 74 of [B.P. 881] in relation to Section 262 thereof.
whether private respondent was indeed a CPA. On 6 October 2004, PRC Records Section Officer-in-
Charge Emma T. Francisco appeared before the Law Department and produced a Certification showing
that private respondent had taken the 3 October 1993 CPA Board Examinations and obtained a failing The case of [Salcedo] sheds light as to what matters are deemed material with respect to the certificate
mark of 40.71%. of candidacy, to wit: citizenship, residency and other qualifications that may be imposed. The nature of a
59

candidate’s occupation is definitely not a material matter. To be sure, we do not elect a candidate on the 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 223, 229, 230, 231, 233, 234, 235, 236, 239 and 240. (Emphasis
basis of his occupation.4 supplied)

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which the COMELEC En Banc denied in the assailed Section 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy.—The certificate of candidacy shall state that the person
Resolution dated 25 May 2006. The COMELEC declared that while it "condemn[ed] in the strongest filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is eligible for said office; if
possible terms" private respondent’s "morally appalling, devious, calculating, [and] deceitful" act, it for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the province, including its component cities, highly urbanized
could not prosecute private respondent for an election offense, but possibly only for an administrative or city or district or sector which he seeks to represent; the political party to which he belongs; civil status;
criminal offense. his date of birth; residence; his post office address for all election purposes; his profession or
occupation; that he will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true
faith and allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and decrees promulgated by the
Hence, this petition.
duly constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that
the obligation imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of
The Issues evasion; and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.

Petitioners argue that: Unless a candidate has officially changed his name through a court approved proceeding, a candidate
shall use in a certificate of candidacy the name by which he has been baptized, or he has not been
1. The assailed resolutions failed to consider that a violation of Section 262 in relation to baptized in any church or religion, the name registered in the office of the local civil registrar or any
Section 74 of B.P. 881 is malum prohibitum; other name allowed under the provisions of existing law or, in the case [of] a Muslim, his Hadji name
after performing the prescribed religious pilgrimage: Provided, That when there are two or more
candidates for an office with the same name and surname, each candidate, upon being made aware or
2. The ruling in Salcedo is not applicable to petitioners’ complaint, that is, a fact such fact, shall state his paternal and maternal surname, except the incumbent who may continue to use
misrepresented in a certificate of candidacy need not be material in order to constitute a the name and surname stated in his certificate of candidacy when he was elected. He may also include
violation of Section 262 in relation to Section 74 of B.P. 881; and one nickname or stage name by which he is generally or popularly known in the locality.

3. Assuming arguendo that materiality of a misrepresentation is required to constitute a The person filing a certificate of candidacy shall also affix his latest photograph, passport size; a
violation of Section 262 in relation to Section 74 of B.P. 881, the assailed resolutions should statement in duplicate containing his bio-data and program of government not exceeding one hundred
have words, if he so desires. (Emphasis supplied)

held material private respondent’s misrepresentation because it increased his chances of winning in the The penal coverage of Section 262 is limited.
elections.

From a cursory reading of Sections 262 and 74 of B.P. 881, one may possibly conclude that an act or
The Ruling of the Court omission in violation of any of the provisions of Section 74 ipso facto constitutes an election offense.
Indeed, petitioners point out that private respondent’s misrepresentation of profession having been
Petitioners come to us on a single question of law: is an alleged misrepresentation of profession or proved before the COMELEC, the latter is compelled to prosecute him for violation of Section 262.
occupation on a certificate of candidacy punishable as an election offense under Section 262 in relation Petitioners argue that such a violation being an election offense, it is malum prohibitum and immediately
to Section 74 of B.P. 881? gives rise to criminal liability upon proof of commission.

We rule in the negative. Petitioners’ stance assumes that Section 262 penalizes without qualification the violation of the sections
it enumerates. This assumption is uncalled for in view of the wording of Section 262.
In urging the Court to order the COMELEC to file the necessary information against private respondent,
petitioners invoke Sections 262 and 74 of B.P. 881, which we reproduce below: The listing of sections in Section 262 is introduced by the clause: "Violation of the provisions, or
pertinent portions, of the following sections shall constitute election offenses: x x x." The phraseology of
this introductory clause alerts us that Section 262 itself possibly limits its coverage to only pertinent
Section 262. Other election offenses.—Violation of the provisions, or pertinent portions, of the portions of Section 74. That such a possibility exists must not be taken lightly for two reasons. First, were
following sections of this Code shall constitute election offenses: Sections 9, 18, 74, 75, 76, 80, 81, 82, the phrase not necessary, the law’s framers would have instead directly declared that violation of "the
83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, provisions" or "any provision" of the enumerated sections — without any qualification — would
112, 122, 123, 127, 128, 129, 132, 134, 135, 145, 148, 150, 152, 172, 173, 174, 178, 180, 182, 184, 185, constitute an election offense. It is a settled principle in statutory construction that whenever possible, a
186, 189, 190, 191, 192, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, legal provision, phrase, or word must not be so construed as to be meaningless and a useless surplusage
in the sense of adding nothing to the law or having no effect on it.5 Second, equally well-settled is the
60

rule that a statute imposing criminal liability should be construed narrowly in its coverage such that only resultant disqualification of the accused in case of conviction. The COMELEC should have opted for a
those offenses clearly included, beyond reasonable doubt, will be considered within the operation of the more direct and speedy process available under the law, considering the vital public interest involved
statute.6 A return to Section 74 is thus imperative. and the necessity of resolving the question at the earliest possible time for the benefit of the inhabitants
of Leyte.9
Section 74 enumerates all information which a person running for public office must supply the
COMELEC in a sworn certificate of candidacy. Section 74 specifies that a certificate of candidacy shall By "direct and speedy process," the Court referred to Section 78 of B.P. 881, which states:
contain, among others, a statement that the person is announcing his or her candidacy for the office and
is eligible for such office, the unit of government which the person seeks to represent, his or her political
Section 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy.— A verified petition
party, civil status, date of birth, residence, and profession or occupation. Section 74 further requires that
seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy may be filed by the person exclusively
the person make several declarations: "that he will support and defend the Constitution of the
on the ground that any material representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof
Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance" to it, "that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and
is false. The petition may be filed at any time not later than twenty-five days from the time of the filing
decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities," "that he is not a permanent resident or
of the certificate of candidacy and shall be decided, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen
immigrant to a foreign country," "that the obligation imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily," and
days before the election. (Emphasis supplied)
"that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge."

Thus, upon considering the facts and seeing that Larrazabal’s misrepresentation of her residence put her
Section 74 does not expressly mention which portion in its provisions is pertinent to Section 262, or
qualification as a candidate at issue,10 the Court found that the case fell squarely within the provisions of
which among its provisions when violated is punishable as an election offense. Nothing in Section 74
Section 78 and directed the COMELEC to determine the residence qualification of Larrazabal. Notably,
partakes unmistakably of a penal clause or a positive prohibition comparable to those found in other
the Court did not make a finding that Abella had no cause of action under Section 262, but only
sections7 also mentioned in Section 262 that use the words "shall not." The Court is then left to interpret
characterized the criminal case as involving a "roundabout investigation" seeking an end — Larrazabal’s
the meaning of Section 74 to determine which of its provisions are penalized under Section 262, and
disqualification — that could be achieved more speedily through an administrative proceeding under
particularly if disclosure of profession or occupation is among such provisions.
Section 78. The ruling in Abella recognized that Larrazabal’s act of misrepresenting her residence, a fact
required to be stated in her certificate of candidacy under Section 74 and which was also a qualification
Our rulings in Abella v. Larrazabal and Salcedo clarify the concept of misrepresentation under B.P. 881. for all elective local officials, gave rise to two causes of action against her under B.P. 881: one, a criminal
complaint under Section 262; and second, a petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of
candidacy under Section 78.
The issue in this case is novel, yet the facts and provisions of law now before us call to mind the cases
of Abella v. Larrazabal8 and Salcedo, perhaps the closest this case has to a relevant precedent.
The case of Salcedo six years after Abella tested the limits of Section 78 on the specific question of what
constitutes a material misrepresentation. In Salcedo, petitioner Victorino Salcedo prayed for the
Abella dwelt on the issue of misrepresentation of residence in a certificate of candidacy. Petitioner
disqualification of private respondent Emelita Salcedo (Emelita) from the mayoralty race in Sara, Iloilo on
Abella had filed a case against private respondent Larrazabal before the COMELEC on the ground that
the basis of the use of her surname. Petitioner alleged that Emelita’s marriage to Neptali Salcedo
the latter falsely claimed to be a resident of Kananga, Leyte in her certificate of candidacy. In the course
(Neptali) was void and therefore Emelita’s use of Neptali’s surname constituted a material
of the hearing, Larrazabal moved for clarification of the nature of the proceedings, asking the COMELEC
misrepresentation. The COMELEC ruled in favor of Emelita, finding that she committed no
to determine under what law her qualifications were being challenged. The COMELEC, by process of
misrepresentation. On appeal by petitioner, the Court held:
elimination, determined that the proceeding was not (1) intended against a nuisance candidate under
Section 69 of B.P. 881, as Larrazabal was obviously a bona fide candidate; (2) a petition for quo warranto
under Section 253 which could be filed only after Larrazabal’s proclamation, as Larrazabal had not yet In case there is a material misrepresentation in the certificate of candidacy, the Comelec is authorized to
been proclaimed; (3) a petition to deny due course to Larrazabal’s certificate of candidacy under Section deny due course to or cancel such certificate upon the filing of a petition by any person pursuant to
78, as Abella’s petition did not contain such prayer and was not filed in the manner required by the Section 78 x x x.
COMELEC Rules of Procedure; or (4) a petition for disqualification under Section 68, as Larrazabal was
not being charged with the commission of any election offense mentioned under the section. The
As stated in the law, in order to justify the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy under Section 78,
COMELEC concluded that "the subject of the petition, to wit, misrepresentation in the certificate of
it is essential that the false representation mentioned therein pertain[s] to a material matter for the
candidacy, was actually a violation of Section 74" and must be prosecuted as an election offense under
sanction imposed by this provision would affect the substantive rights of a candidate — the right to
Section 262. The COMELEC dismissed the petition and referred the case to its Law Department for
run for the elective post for which he filed the certificate of candidacy. Although the law does not
prosecution.
specify what would be considered as a "material representation," the Court has interpreted this phrase
in a line of decisions applying Section 78 of [B.P. 881].
We held that the dismissal was improper. There we reasoned that the issue of residence having been
squarely raised before the COMELEC —
Therefore, it may be concluded that the material misrepresentation contemplated by Section 78 of the
Code refer[s] to qualifications for elective office. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the
x x x it should not have been shunted aside to the Law Department for a roundabout investigation of consequences imposed upon a candidate guilty of having made a false representation in [the]
[Larrazabal’s] qualification through the filing of a criminal prosecution, if found to be warranted, with certificate of candidacy are grave — to prevent the candidate from running or, if elected, from serving,
61

or to prosecute him for violation of the election laws. It could not have been the intention of the law to Section 264. Penalties. –— Any person found guilty of any election offense under this Code shall be
deprive a person of such a basic and substantive political right to be voted for a public office upon just punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be
any innocuous mistake. subject to probation. In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold
public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage. If he is a foreigner, he shall be sentenced to
deportation which shall be enforced after the prison term has been served. Any political party found
Aside from the requirement of materiality, a false representation under Section 78 must consist of a
guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than ten thousand pesos, which shall be imposed upon
"deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate
such party after criminal action has been instituted in which their corresponding officials have been
ineligible." In other words, it must be made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one’s
found guilty.
qualifications for public office. x x x11(Emphasis supplied)

The position taken by petitioners merely highlights for us the absurdity of not applying here the reasons
From these two cases several conclusions follow. First, a misrepresentation in a certificate of candidacy
given by the Court in Salcedo, a mere disqualification case. In the present case, private respondent not
is material when it refers to a qualification for elective office and affects the candidate’s eligibility.
only could be disqualified from holding public office and from voting but could also be deprived of his
Second, when a candidate commits a material misrepresentation, he or she may be proceeded against
liberty were the COMELEC to pursue a criminal case against him. If in Salcedo the Court could not
through a petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy under Section 78, or through
conceive the law to have intended that a person be deprived "of such a basic and substantive political
criminal prosecution under Section 262 for violation of Section 74. Third, a misrepresentation of a non-
right to be voted for a public office upon just any innocuous mistake" on the certificate of candidacy,
material fact, or a non-material misrepresentation, is not a ground to deny due course to or cancel a
weightier considerations here demand that materiality of the misrepresentation also be held an essential
certificate of candidacy under Section 78. In other words, for a candidate’s certificate of candidacy to be
element of any violation of Section 74. Otherwise, every detail or piece of information within the four
denied due course or canceled by the COMELEC, the fact misrepresented must pertain to a qualification
corners of the certificate of candidacy, even that which has no actual bearing upon the candidate’s
for the office sought by the candidate.
eligibility, could be used as basis for the candidate’s criminal prosecution.

Profession or occupation is not a qualification for elective office, and therefore not a material fact in a
Further compelling us to dismiss this petition is the consideration that any complaint against private
certificate of candidacy.
respondent for perjury under the Revised Penal Code would necessarily have to allege the element of
materiality. The pertinent section of the Revised Penal Code states:
No elective office, not even the office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, requires a
certain profession or occupation as a qualification. For local elective offices including that of punong
Art. 183. False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation.— The penalty of arresto
barangay, Republic Act No. 7160 (R.A. 7160) or the Local Government Code of 1991 prescribes only
mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any
qualifications pertaining to citizenship, registration as a voter, residence, and language. Section 39 of
person who, knowingly making untruthful statements and not being included in the provision of the
R.A. 7160 states:
next preceding articles, shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before
a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires. (Emphasis
Section 39. Qualifications. – supplied)

(a) An elective local official must be a citizen of the Philippines; a registered voter in the barangay, The basis of the crime of perjury is the willful assertion of a falsehood under oath upon a material
municipality, city, or province or, in the case of a member of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang matter. Although the term "material matter" under Article 183 takes on a fairly general meaning, that is,
panlungsod, or sangguniang bayan, the district where he intends to be elected; a resident therein for at it refers to the main fact which is the subject of inquiry,12 in terms of being an element in the execution
least one (1) year immediately preceding the day of the election; and able to read and write Filipino or of a statement under oath it must be understood as referring to a fact which has an effect on the
any other local language or dialect. outcome of the proceeding for which the statement is being executed.13 Thus, in the case of a certificate
of candidacy, a material matter is a fact relevant to the validity of the certificate and which could serve
Profession or occupation not being a qualification for elective office, misrepresentation of such does not as basis to grant or deny due course to the certificate in case it is assailed under Section 78. Of course,
constitute a material misrepresentation. Certainly, in a situation where a candidate misrepresents his or such material matter would then refer only to the qualifications for elective office required to be stated
her profession or occupation in the certificate of candidacy, the candidate may not be disqualified from in the certificate of candidacy.
running for office under Section 78 as his or her certificate of candidacy cannot be denied due course or
canceled on such ground. Perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code carries the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum
period to prision correccional in its minimum period and translates to imprisonment for four months and
In interpreting a law, the Court must avoid an unreasonable or unjust construction. one day up to two years and four months. The duration of this imprisonment is a far cry from that meted
by Section 264 of B.P. 881, which is a minimum of one year up to a maximum of six years. With the
gravity of the punishment provided by B.P. 881 for violation of election offenses, we glean the intention
Were we to follow petitioners’ line of thought, for misrepresentation of a non-material fact, private of the law to limit culpability under Section 262 for violation of Section 74 only to a material
respondent could be prosecuted for an election offense and, if found guilty, penalized with misrepresentation. We thus adhere to the more reasonable construction of the term "pertinent
imprisonment and other accessory penalties. B.P. 881 prescribes a uniform penalty for all election portions" found in Section 262, in particular reference to Section 74, to mean only those portions of
offenses under it to cover those defined in Sections 262 and 261, to wit: Section 74 which prescribe qualification requirements of a candidate.
62

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition. We AFFIRM the En Banc Resolutions of the Commission on
Elections dated 1 February 2006 and 25 May 2006.

SO ORDERED.

FACTS:

Private respondent was a candidate for the post of punong barangay of Barangay 2, Poblacion, Catubig,
Samar in the 15 July 2002 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. In his certificate
of candidacy, private respondent misrepresented himself as a certified public accountant (CPA) as his
profession or occupation. Private respondent won in the elections. Thus, he was charged for an election
offense before the COMELEC. In his Answer, private respondent argued that he could not be held liable
for an election offense because his alleged misrepresentation of profession was not material to his
eligibility as a candidate.

ISSUE: Is an alleged misrepresentation of profession or occupation on a certificate of candidacy


punishable as an election offense under Section 262 in relation to Section 74 of B.P. 881?

HELD:

No elective office, not even the office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, requires a
certain profession or occupation as a qualification. For local elective offices including that of punong
barangay, Republic Act No. 7160 (R.A. 7160) or the Local Government Code of 1991 prescribes only
qualifications pertaining to citizenship, registration as a voter, residence, and language. Section 39 of
R.A. 7160 states: x x x x Profession or occupation not being a qualification for elective office,
misrepresentation of such does not constitute a material misrepresentation. Certainly, in a situation
where a candidate misrepresents his or her profession or occupation in the certificate of candidacy, the
candidate may not be disqualified from running for office under Section 78 as his or her certificate of
candidacy cannot be denied due course or canceled on such ground.
63

EN BANC resolution, the COMELEC En Banc issued motu proprio Resolution No. 961314 on January 15, 2013,
resolving "to CANCEL and DENY due course the Certificate of Candidacy filed by Romeo G. Jalosjos as
Mayor of Zamboanga City in the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections" due to his perpetual
G.R. No. 205033 June 18, 2013
absolute disqualification as well as his failure to comply with the voter registration requirement. As basis,
the COMELEC En Banc relied on the Court’s pronouncement in the consolidated cases of Dominador
ROMEO G. JALOSJOS, Petitioner, Jalosjos, Jr. v. COMELEC and Agapito Cardino v. COMELEC15 (Jalosjos, Jr. and Cardino).
vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, MARIA ISABELLE G. CLIMACO-SALAZAR, ROEL B. NATIVIDAD,
Hence, the instant petition.
ARTURO N. ONRUBIA, AHMAD NARZAD K. SAMPANG, JOSE L. LOBREGAT, ADELANTE ZAMBOANGA
PARTY, AND ELBERT C. ATILANO, Respondents.
Issues Before the Court
DECISION
Submitted for the Court’s determination are the following issues: (a) whether the COMELEC En Banc
acted beyond its jurisdiction when it issued motu proprio Resolution No. 9613 and in so doing, violated
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
petitioner’s right to due process; and (b) whether petitioner’s perpetual absolute disqualification to run
for elective office had already been removed by Section 40(a) of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known
Assailed in this petition for certiorari1 file under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is the as the "Local Government Code of 1991" (LGC).
Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) En Bane Resolution No. 96132 dated January 15, 2013, ordering the
denial of due course to and/or cancellation of petitioner Romeo G. Jalosjos' certificate of candidacy (CoC)
The Court’s Ruling
as a mayoralty candidate for Zamboanga City.

The petition is bereft of merit.


The Facts

At the outset, the Court observes that the controversy in this case had already been mooted by the
On November 16, 2001, the Court promulgated its Decision in G.R. Nos. 132875-76, entitled "People of
exclusion of petitioner in the May 2013 Elections. Nevertheless, in view of the doctrinal value of the
the Philippines v. Romeo G. Jalosjos," convicting petitioner by final judgment of two (2) counts of
issues raised herein, which may serve to guide both the bench and the bar in the future, the Court takes
statutory rape and six (6) counts of acts of lasciviousness.4 Consequently, he was sentenced to suffer the
this opportunity to discuss on the same.
principal penalties of reclusion perpetua and reclusion temporal5 for each count, respectively, which
carried the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification pursuant to Article 41 of the Revised
Penal Code (RPC).6 On April 30, 2007, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued an order A. Nature and validity of motu
commuting his prison term to sixteen (16) years, three (3) months and three (3) days (Order of proprio issuance of Resolution No.
Commutation). After serving the same, he was issued a Certificate of Discharge From Prison on March 9613.
18, 2009.7
Petitioner claims that the COMELEC En Banc usurped the COMELEC Divisions’ jurisdiction by cancelling
On April 26, 2012,8 petitioner applied to register as a voter in Zamboanga City. However, because of his motu proprio petitioner’s CoC through Resolution No. 9613, contrary to Section 3, Article IX-C of the
previous conviction, his application was denied by the Acting City Election Officer of the Election 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution) which reads:
Registration Board (ERB), prompting him to file a Petition for Inclusion in the Permanent List of Voters
(Petition for Inclusion) before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities of Zamboanga City, Branch 1
SEC. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of
(MTCC).9 Pending resolution of the same, he filed a CoC10 on October 5, 2012, seeking to run as mayor
procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies.
for Zamboanga City in the upcoming local elections scheduled on May 13, 2013 (May 2013 Elections). In
All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration
his CoC, petitioner stated, inter alia, that he is eligible for the said office and that he is a registered voter
of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
of Barangay Tetuan, Zamboanga City.

Concomitantly, he also claims that his right to procedural due process had been violated by the
On October 18, 2012,11 the MTCC denied his Petition for Inclusion on account of his perpetual absolute
aforementioned issuance.
disqualification which in effect, deprived him of the right to vote in any election. Such denial was
affirmed by the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City, Branch 14 (RTC) in its October 31, 2012
Order12 which, pursuant to Section 13813 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, as amended, otherwise known The Court is not persuaded.
as the "Omnibus Election Code" (OEC), was immediately final and executory.
The above-cited constitutional provision requiring a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC En
Meanwhile, five (5) petitions were lodged before the COMELEC’s First and Second Divisions (COMELEC Banc may take action is confined only to cases where the COMELEC exercises its quasi-judicial power. It
Divisions), praying for the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of petitioner’s CoC. Pending
64

finds no application, however, in matters concerning the COMELEC’s exercise of administrative Applying these principles to the case at bar, it is clear that the COMELEC En Banc did not exercise its
functions. The distinction between the two is well-defined. As illumined in Villarosa v. COMELEC:16 quasi-judicial functions when it issued Resolution No. 9613 as it did not assume jurisdiction over any
pending petition or resolve any election case before it or any of its divisions. Rather, it merely performed
its duty to enforce and administer election laws in cancelling petitioner’s CoC on the basis of his
The term ‘administrative’ connotes, or pertains, to ‘administration, especially management, as by
perpetual absolute disqualification, the fact of which had already been established by his final
managing or conducting, directing or superintending, the execution, application, or conduct of persons
conviction. In this regard, the COMELEC En Banc was exercising its administrative functions, dispensing
or things. It does not entail an opportunity to be heard, the production and weighing of evidence, and a
with the need for a motion for reconsideration of a division ruling under Section 3, Article IX-C of the
decision or resolution thereon. While a ‘quasi-judicial function’ is a term which applies to the action,
Constitution, the same being required only in quasi-judicial proceedings.
discretion, etc., of public administrative officers or bodies, who are required to investigate facts, or
ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them, as a basis for their
official action and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Lest it be misunderstood, while the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of one’s CoC generally
necessitates the exercise of the COMELEC’s quasi-judicial functions commenced through a petition based
on either Sections 1220 or 7821 of the OEC, or Section 4022 of the LGC, when the grounds therefor are
Crucial therefore to the present disquisition is the determination of the nature of the power exercised by
rendered conclusive on account of final and executory judgments – as when a candidate’s
the COMELEC En Banc when it promulgated Resolution No. 9613.
disqualification to run for public office is based on a final conviction – such exercise falls within the
COMELEC’s administrative functions, as in this case.
The foregoing matter is not without established precedent. In Jalosjos, Jr. and Cardino, the Court held
that the COMELEC’s denial of due course to and/or cancellation of a CoC in view of a candidate’s
In this light, there is also no violation of procedural due process since the COMELEC En Banc would be
disqualification to run for elective office based on a final conviction is subsumed under its mandate to
acting in a purely administrative manner. Administrative power is concerned with the work of applying
enforce and administer all laws relating to the conduct of elections. Accordingly, in such a situation, it is
policies and enforcing orders as determined by proper governmental organs.23 As petitioner’s
the COMELEC’s duty to cancel motu proprio the candidate’s CoC, notwithstanding the absence of any
disqualification to run for public office had already been settled in a previous case and now stands
petition initiating a quasi-judicial proceeding for the resolution of the same. Thus, the Court stated:17
beyond dispute, it is incumbent upon the COMELEC En Banc to cancel his CoC as a matter of course, else
it be remiss in fulfilling its duty to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct
Even without a petition under either Section 12 or Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, or under of an election.
Section 40 of the Local Government Code, the COMELEC is under a legal duty to cancel the certificate of
candidacy of anyone suffering from the accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification to run for
Equally compelling is the fact that the denial of petitioner’s Petition for Inclusion as a registered voter in
public office by virtue of a final judgment of conviction. The final judgment of conviction is notice to the
Zamboanga City had already attained finality by virtue of the RTC’s Order dated October 31, 2012. In this
COMELEC of the disqualification of the convict from running for public office. The law itself bars the
accord, petitioner’s non-compliance with the voter registration requirement under Section 39(a) of the
convict from running for public office, and the disqualification is part of the final judgment of conviction.
LGC24 is already beyond question and likewise provides a sufficient ground for the cancellation of his CoC
The final judgment of the court is addressed not only to the Executive branch, but also to other
altogether.
government agencies tasked to implement the final judgment under the law.

B. Petitioner’s right to run for


Whether or not the COMELEC is expressly mentioned in the judgment to implement the disqualification,
elective office.
it is assumed that the portion of the final judgment on disqualification to run for elective public office is
addressed to the COMELEC because under the Constitution the COMELEC is duty bound to "enforce and
administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election." The disqualification of a It is petitioner’s submission that Article 30 of the RPC was partially amended by Section 40(a) of the LGC
convict to run for public office under the Revised Penal Code, as affirmed by final judgment of a and thus, claims that his perpetual absolute disqualification had already been removed.
competent court, is part of the enforcement and administration of "all laws" relating to the conduct of
elections.
The argument is untenable.

To allow the COMELEC to wait for a person to file a petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of one
Well-established is the rule that every new statute should be construed in connection with those already
suffering from perpetual special disqualification will result in the anomaly that these cases so
existing in relation to the same subject matter and all should be made to harmonize and stand together,
grotesquely exemplify. Despite a prior perpetual special disqualification, Jalosjos was elected and served
if they can be done by any fair and reasonable interpretation.25
twice as mayor. The COMELEC will be grossly remiss in its constitutional duty to "enforce and administer
all laws" relating to the conduct of elections if it does not motu proprio bar from running for public office
those suffering from perpetual special disqualification by virtue of a final judgment. (Emphasis and On the one hand, Section 40(a) of the LGC, applicable as it is to local elective candidates, provides:
underscoring supplied)
SEC. 40. Disqualifications. – The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local
In Aratea v. COMELEC (Aratea),18 the Court similarly pronounced that the disqualification of a convict to position:
run for public office, as affirmed by final judgment of a competent court, is part of the enforcement and
administration of all laws relating to the conduct of elections.19
65

(a) Those sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude or for an offense Pertinently, it is observed that the import of Article 41 in relation to Article 30 of the RPC is more direct
punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment, within two (2) years after serving sentence; and specific in nature – insofar as it deprives the candidate to run for elective office due to his conviction
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) – as compared to Section 40(a) of the LGC which broadly speaks of offenses involving moral turpitude
and those punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment without any consideration of certain
disqualifying effects to one’s right to suffrage. Accordingly, Section 40(a) of the LGC should be
And on the other hand, Article 30 of the RPC reads:
considered as a law of general application and therefore, must yield to the more definitive RPC
provisions in line with the principle of lex specialis derogat generali – general legislation must give way to
ART. 30. Effects of the penalties of perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification. - The penalties of special legislation on the same subject, and generally is so interpreted as to embrace only cases in which
perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification for public office shall produce the following effects: the special provisions are not applicable. In other words, where two statutes are of equal theoretical
application to a particular case, the one specially designed therefor should prevail.32
1. The deprivation of the public offices and employments which the offender may have held,
even if conferred by popular election. In the present case, petitioner was sentenced to suffer the principal penalties of reclusion perpetua and
reclusion temporal which, pursuant to Article 41 of the RPC, carried with it the accessory penalty of
2. The deprivation of the right to vote in any election for any popular office or to be elected to perpetual absolute disqualification and in turn, pursuant to Article 30 of the RPC, disqualified him to run
such office. for elective office. As discussed, Section 40(a) of the LGC would not apply to cases wherein a penal
provision – such as Article 41 in this case – directly and specifically prohibits the convict from running for
elective office. Hence, despite the lapse of two (2) years from petitioner’s service of his commuted
3. The disqualification for the offices or public employments and for the exercise of any of the prison term, he remains bound to suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification
rights mentioned. which consequently, disqualifies him to run as mayor for Zamboanga City.

In case of temporary disqualification, such disqualification as is comprised in paragraphs 2 Notably, Article 41 of the RPC expressly states that one who is previously convicted of a crime punishable
and 3 of this Article shall last during the term of the sentence. by reclusion perpetua or reclusion temporal continues to suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual
absolute disqualification even though pardoned as to the principal penalty, unless the said accessory
4. The loss of all rights to retirement pay or other pension for any office formerly held. penalty shall have been expressly remitted in the pardon.33 In this case, the same accessory penalty had
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) not been expressly remitted in the Order of Commutation or by any subsequent pardon and as such,
petitioner’s disqualification to run for elective office is deemed to subsist.
Keeping with the above-mentioned statutory construction principle, the Court observes that the conflict
between these provisions of law may be properly reconciled. In particular, while Section 40(a) of the LGC Further, it is well to note that the use of the word "perpetual" in the aforementioned accessory penalty
allows a prior convict to run for local elective office after the lapse of two (2) years from the time he connotes a lifetime restriction and in this respect, does not depend on the length of the prison term
serves his sentence, the said provision should not be deemed to cover cases wherein the law26 imposes a which is imposed as its principal penalty. Instructive on this point is the Court’s ruling in Lacuna v.
penalty, either as principal or accessory,27 which has the effect of disqualifying the convict to run for Abes,34 where the court explained the meaning of the term "perpetual" as applied to the penalty of
elective office. An example of this would be Article 41 of the RPC, which imposes the penalty of disqualification to run for public office:
perpetual28 absolute29 disqualification as an accessory to the principal penalties of reclusion perpetua
and reclusion temporal: The accessory penalty of temporary absolute disqualification disqualifies the convict for public office and
for the right to vote, such disqualification to last only during the term of the sentence (Article 27,
ART. 41. Reclusion perpetua and reclusion temporal – Their accessory penalties. - The penalties of paragraph 3, & Article 30, Revised Penal Code) that, in the case of Abes, would have expired on 13
reclusion perpetua and reclusion temporal shall carry with them that of civil interdiction for life or during October 1961.
the period of the sentence as the case may be, and that of perpetual absolute disqualification which the
offender shall suffer even though pardoned as to the principal penalty, unless the same shall have been But this does not hold true with respect to the other accessory penalty of perpetual special
expressly remitted in the pardon. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) disqualification for the exercise of the right of suffrage. This accessory penalty deprives the convict of the
right to vote or to be elected to or hold public office perpetually, as distinguished from temporary special
In this relation, Article 30 of the RPC, as earlier cited, provides that the penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification, which lasts during the term of the sentence. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
disqualification has the effect of depriving the convicted felon of the privilege to run for elective office.
To note, this penalty, as well as other penalties of similar import, is based on the presumptive rule that Likewise, adopting the Lacuna ruling, the Court, in the more recent cases of Aratea,35 Jalosjos, Jr. and
one who is rendered infamous by conviction of a felony, or other base offense indicative of moral Cardino,36held:
turpitude, is unfit to hold public office,30 as the same partakes of a privilege which the State grants only
to such classes of persons which are most likely to exercise it for the common good.31
Clearly, Lacuna instructs that the accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification "deprives the
convict of the right to vote or to be elected to or hold public office perpetually."
66

The accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification takes effect immediately once the judgment On October 18, 2012,[11] the MTCC denied his Petition for Inclusion on account of his perpetual
of conviction becomes final. The effectivity of this accessory penalty does not depend on the duration of absolute disqualification which in effect, deprived him of the right to vote in any election.
the principal penalty, or on whether the convict serves his jail sentence or not. The last sentence of
Article 32 states that "the offender shall not be permitted to hold any public office during the period of Such denial was affirmed by the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga
his [perpetual special] disqualification." Once the judgment of conviction becomes final, it is immediately City, Branch 14 (RTC) in its October 31, 2012 Order[12] which, pursuant to Section 138[13] of Batas
executory. Any public office that the convict may be holding at the time of his conviction becomes vacant Pambansa Bilang 881, as amended, otherwise known as the "Omnibus Election Code" (OEC), was
upon finality of the judgment, and the convict becomes ineligible to run for any elective public office immediately final and executory.
perpetually. (Emphasis underscoring supplied)
Meanwhile, five (5) petitions were lodged before the COMELEC's First and Second Divisions (COMELEC
Divisions), praying for the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of petitioner's CoC
All told, applying the established principles of statutory construction, and more significantly, considering
the higher interests of preserving the sanctity of our elections, the Court holds that Section 40(a) of the Pending resolution, the COMELEC En Banc issued motu proprio Resolution
LGC has not removed the penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification which petitioner continues to
suffer.1âwphi1 Thereby, he remains disqualified to run for any elective office pursuant to Article 30 of No. 9613[14] on January 15, 2013, resolving "to CANCEL and DENY due course the Certificate of
the RPC. Candidacy filed by Romeo G. Jalosjos as Mayor of Zamboanga City in the May 13, 2013 National and
Local Elections" due to his perpetual... absolute disqualification as well as his failure to comply with the
voter registration requirement.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.
As basis, the COMELEC En Banc relied on the Court's pronouncement in the consolidated cases of
SO ORDERED. Dominador Jalosjos, Jr. v. COMELEC and Agapito Cardino v.

COMELEC[15] (Jalosjos, Jr. and Cardino).


Facts:
Issues:
Assailed in this petition for certiorari[1] filed under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is
Issues Before the Court
the Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) En Banc Resolution No. 9613[2] dated January 15,... 2013,
ordering the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of petitioner Romeo G. Jalosjos' certificate of (a) whether the COMELEC En Banc acted beyond its jurisdiction when it issued motu proprio Resolution
candidacy (CoC) as a mayoralty candidate for Zamboanga City. No. 9613 and in so doing, violated petitioner's right to due process
The Facts (b) whether petitioner's... perpetual absolute disqualification to run for elective office had already been
removed by Section 40(a) of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the "Local Government Code of
On November 16, 2001, the Court promulgated its Decision in G.R. Nos. 132875-76, entitled "People of
1991" (LGC).
the Philippines v. Romeo G. Jalosjos,"[3] convicting petitioner by final judgment of two (2) counts of
statutory rape and six (6) counts of acts of... lasciviousness.[4] Consequently, he was sentenced to suffer Ruling:
the principal penalties of reclusion perpetua and reclusion temporal[5] for each count, respectively,
which carried the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute... disqualification pursuant to Article 41 of the The Court's Ruling
Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The petition is bereft of merit.
On April 30, 2007, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued an order commuting his prison term to
At the outset, the Court observes that the controversy in this case had already been mooted by the
sixteen (16) years, three (3) months and three (3) days (Order of
exclusion of petitioner in the May 2013 Elections.
Commutation).
Nevertheless, in view of the doctrinal value of the issues raised herein, which may serve to guide both
After serving the same, he was issued a Certificate of Discharge From Prison on March 18, 2009 the bench and the bar in... the future, the Court takes this opportunity to discuss on the same.

On April 26, 2012,[8] petitioner applied to register as a voter in Zamboanga City. However, because of his A. Nature and validity of motu proprio... issuance of Resolution No. 9613.
previous conviction, his application was denied by the Acting City Election Officer of the Election
Petitioner claims that the COMELEC En Banc usurped the COMELEC Divisions' jurisdiction by cancelling
Registration Board (ERB), prompting him to file a
motu proprio petitioner's CoC through Resolution No. 9613, contrary to Section 3, Article IX-C of the
Petition for Inclusion in the Permanent List of Voters (Petition for Inclusion) before the Municipal Trial 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution)
Court in Cities of Zamboanga City, Branch 1 (MTCC).
The Court is not persuaded
Pending resolution of the same, he filed a CoC[10] on October 5, 2012,... seeking to run as mayor for
The above-cited constitutional provision requiring a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC En
Zamboanga City in the upcoming local elections scheduled on May 13, 2013 (May 2013 Elections).
Banc may take action is confined only to cases where the COMELEC exercises its quasi-judicial power.
n his CoC, petitioner stated, inter alia, that he is eligible for the said office and that he is a registered
It finds no application, however, in matters concerning the
voter of Barangay Tetuan,... Zamboanga City.
67

COMELEC's exercise of administrative functions. In... this regard, the COMELEC En Banc was exercising its administrative functions, dispensing with the
need for a motion for reconsideration of a division ruling under Section 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution,
The distinction between the two is well-defined. the same being required only in quasi-judicial... proceedings.
[T]he term 'administrative' connotes, or pertains, to 'administration, especially management, as by while the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of one's CoC generally necessitates the exercise of
managing or conducting, directing or superintending, the execution, application, or conduct of persons the COMELEC's quasi-judicial functions commenced through a petition based on either Sections 12[20]
or things. It does not entail an... opportunity to be heard, the production and weighing of evidence, and or 78[21] of the OEC, or Section 40[22] of the LGC, when the grounds therefor are rendered conclusive
a decision or resolution thereon. on account of final and executory judgments as when a candidate's disqualification to run for public
While a 'quasi-judicial function' is a term which applies to the action, discretion, etc., of public office is based on a final conviction such... exercise falls within the COMELEC's administrative functions,
administrative officers or bodies, who are required... to investigate facts, or ascertain the existence of as in this case.
facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them, as a basis for their official action and to exercise In this light, there is also no violation of procedural due process since the COMELEC En Banc would be
discretion of a judicial nature. acting in a purely administrative manner.
Crucial therefore to the present disquisition is the determination of the nature of the power exercised by As petitioner's disqualification to run for public office had already been settled in a previous case and
the COMELEC En Banc when it promulgated Resolution No. 9613. now stands beyond dispute, it is incumbent upon the COMELEC En Banc to cancel his CoC as a matter of
In Jalosjos, Jr. and Cardino, the Court held that the COMELEC's denial of due course to and/or course, else it be remiss in... fulfilling its duty to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative
cancellation of a CoC in view of a candidate's disqualification to run for elective office based on a... final to the conduct of an election.
conviction is subsumed under its mandate to enforce and administer all laws relating to the conduct of Equally compelling is the fact that the denial of petitioner's Petition for Inclusion as a registered voter in
elections. Zamboanga City had already attained finality by virtue of the RTC's Order dated October 31, 2012.
Accordingly, in such a situation, it is the COMELEC's duty to cancel motu proprio the candidate's CoC, In this accord, petitioner's non-compliance with the voter... registration requirement under Section 39(a)
notwithstanding the absence of any... petition initiating a quasi-judicial proceeding for the resolution of of the LGC[24] is already beyond question and likewise provides a sufficient ground for the cancellation
the same. of his CoC altogether.
Even without a petition under either Section 12 or Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, or under B. Petitioner's right to run... for elective office.
Section 40 of the Local Government Code, the COMELEC is under a legal duty to cancel the certificate of
candidacy of anyone suffering from the accessory... penalty of perpetual special disqualification to run Well-established is the rule that every new statute should be construed in connection with those already
for public office by virtue of a final judgment of conviction. existing in relation to the same subject matter and all should be made to harmonize and stand together,
if they can be done by any fair and reasonable... interpretation.
The final judgment of conviction is notice to the COMELEC of the disqualification of the convict from
running for public office. SEC. 40. Disqualifications. The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local
position:
The law itself... bars the convict from running for public office, and the disqualification is part of the final
judgment of conviction. (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
The final judgment of the court is addressed not only to the Executive branch, but also to other
government agencies tasked to implement the final... judgment under the law. ART. 30. Effects of the penalties of perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification. - The penalties of
perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification for public office shall produce the following effects:
Whether or not the COMELEC is expressly mentioned in the judgment to implement the disqualification,
it is assumed that the portion of the final judgment on disqualification to run for elective public office is
addressed to the COMELEC because under the Constitution the COMELEC... is duty bound to "[e]nforce 2. The deprivation of the right to vote in any election for any popular office or to be elected to
and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election." such office.

The disqualification of a convict to run for public office under the Revised Penal Code, as affirmed by
In particular, while Section 40(a) of the LGC allows a prior convict to run for local elective office after
final judgment of a competent court, is part of the... enforcement and administration of "all laws"
the... lapse of two (2) years from the time he serves his sentence, the said provision should not be
relating to the conduct of elections.
deemed to cover cases wherein the law[26] imposes a penalty, either as principal or accessory,[27]...
Applying these principles to the case at bar, it is clear that the COMELEC En Banc did not exercise its which has the effect of disqualifying the convict to run for elective office.
quasi-judicial functions when it issued Resolution No. 9613 as it did not assume jurisdiction over any
In this relation, Article 30 of the RPC, as earlier cited, provides that the penalty of perpetual absolute
pending petition or resolve any election case before it or... any of its divisions.
disqualification has the effect of depriving the convicted felon of the privilege to run for elective office.
Rather, it merely performed its duty to enforce and administer election laws in cancelling petitioner's
To note, this penalty, as well as other penalties of similar... import, is based on the presumptive rule that
CoC on the basis of his perpetual absolute disqualification, the fact of which had already been
one who is rendered infamous by conviction of a felony, or other base offense indicative of moral
established by his final conviction
68

turpitude, is unfit to hold public office,[30] as the same partakes of a privilege which the State... grants COMELEC's exercise of administrative functions.
only to such classes of persons which are most likely to exercise it for the common good.[31]
The distinction between the two is well-defined.
Accordingly, Section 40(a) of the LGC should be considered as a law of general application... and
therefore, must yield to the more definitive RPC provisions in line with the principle of lex specialis [T]he term 'administrative' connotes, or pertains, to 'administration, especially management, as by
derogat generali general legislation must give way to special legislation on the same subject, and managing or conducting, directing or superintending, the execution, application, or conduct of persons
generally is so interpreted as to embrace only cases in which... the special provisions are not applicable. or things. It does not entail an... opportunity to be heard, the production and weighing of evidence, and
a decision or resolution thereon.
In other words, where two statutes are of equal theoretical application to a particular case, the one
specially designed therefor should prevail.[32] While a 'quasi-judicial function' is a term which applies to the action, discretion, etc., of public
administrative officers or bodies, who are required... to investigate facts, or ascertain the existence of
In the present case, petitioner was sentenced to suffer the principal penalties of reclusion perpetua and facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them, as a basis for their official action and to exercise
reclusion temporal which, pursuant to Article 41 of the RPC, carried with it the accessory penalty of discretion of a judicial nature.
perpetual absolute disqualification and in turn, pursuant... to Article 30 of the RPC, disqualified him to
run for elective office. Even without a petition under either Section 12 or Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, or under
Section 40 of the Local Government Code, the COMELEC is under a legal duty to cancel the certificate of
As discussed, Section 40(a) of the LGC would not apply to cases wherein a penal provision such as Article candidacy of anyone suffering from the accessory... penalty of perpetual special disqualification to run
41 in this case directly and specifically prohibits the convict from running for elective office. for public office by virtue of a final judgment of conviction.

Hence, despite the lapse of two (2) years from petitioner's service of his commuted prison term, he while the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of one's CoC generally necessitates the exercise of
remains bound to suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification which the COMELEC's quasi-judicial functions commenced through a petition based on either Sections 12[20]
consequently, disqualifies him to run as mayor for Zamboanga City or 78[21] of the OEC, or Section 40[22] of the LGC, when the grounds therefor are rendered conclusive
on account of final and executory judgments as when a candidate's disqualification to run for public
Notably, Article 41 of the RPC expressly states that one who is previously convicted of a crime punishable office is based on a final conviction such... exercise falls within the COMELEC's administrative functions
by reclusion perpetua or reclusion temporal continues to suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual
absolute disqualification even though pardoned as to the... principal penalty, unless the said accessory
penalty shall have been expressly remitted in the pardon.

In this case, the same accessory penalty had not been expressly remitted in the Order of Commutation
or by any subsequent pardon and as... such, petitioner's disqualification to run for elective office is
deemed to subsist.
Likewise, adopting the Lacuna ruling, the Court, in the more recent cases of Aratea,[35] Jalosjos, Jr. and
Cardino,[36] held:
Clearly, Lacuna instructs that the accessory penalty of perpetual special disqualification "deprives the
convict of the right to vote or to be elected to or hold public office perpetually."

Once the judgment of conviction becomes final, it is immediately executory. Any... public office that the
convict may be holding at the time of his conviction becomes vacant upon finality of the judgment, and
the convict becomes ineligible to run for any elective public office perpetually.

All told, applying the established principles of statutory construction, and more significantly, considering
the higher interests of preserving the sanctity of our elections, the Court holds that Section 40(a) of the
LGC has not removed the penalty of perpetual absolute... disqualification which petitioner continues to
suffer.

Thereby, he remains disqualified to run for any elective office pursuant to Article 30 of the RPC.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

Principles:

Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution)

The above-cited constitutional provision requiring a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC En
Banc may take action is confined only to cases where the COMELEC exercises its quasi-judicial power. It
finds no application, however, in matters concerning the
69

EN BANC On May 5, 2010, Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez (private respondent) filed her CoC9 together with a Certificate
of Nomination and Acceptance10 from the Liberal Party endorsing her as the party’s official substitute
candidate vice her husband, Richard, for the same congressional post. In response to various letter-
G.R. No. 202202 March 19, 2013
requests submitted to the COMELEC’s Law Department (Law Department), the COMELEC En Banc, in the
exercise of its administrative functions, issued Resolution No. 889011 on May 8, 2010, approving, among
SILVERIO R. TAGOLINO, Petitioner, others, the recommendation of the said department to allow the substitution of private respondent. The
vs. recommendation reads:
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL AND LUCY MARIE TORRES-GOMEZ, Respondents.
STUDY AND OBSERVATION
DECISION
On the same date, this Department received an Opposition from Mr. Buenaventura O. Juntilla, thru his
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: counsel, opposing the candidacy of Ms. Lucy Marie Torres Gomez, as a substitute candidate for Mr.
Richard I. Gomez.
Assailed in this Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is the March 22,
2012 Decision1 of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) in HRET Case No. 10-031 (QW) The crux of the opposition stemmed from the issue that there should be no substitution because there is
which declared the validity of private respondent Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez’s substitution as the Liberal no candidate to substitute for.
Party’s replacement candidate for the position of Leyte Representative (Fourth Legislative District) in lieu
of Richard Gomez.
It must be stressed that the resolution of the First Division, this Commission, in SPA No. 09-059 speaks
for disqualification of candidate Richard I. Gomez and not of cancellation of his Certificate of Candidacy:
The Facts
‘Wherefore, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the
On November 30, 2009, Richard Gomez (Richard) filed his certificate of candidacy2 (CoC) with the Petition to Disqualify Candidate for Lack of Qualification filed x x x against RICHARD I. GOMEZ.
Commission on Elections (COMELEC), seeking congressional office as Representative for the Fourth Accordingly, RICHARD I. GOMEZ is DISQUALIFIED as a candidate for the Office of Congressman, Fourth
Legislative District of Leyte under the ticket of the Liberal Party. Subsequently, on December 6, 2009, one District of Leyte, for lack of residency requirement.’
of the opposing candidates, Buenaventura Juntilla (Juntilla), filed a Verified Petition,3 alleging that
Richard, who was actually a resident of College Street, East Greenhills, San Juan City, Metro Manila,
The said resolution was affirmed by the Commission En Banc on May 04, 2010.
misrepresented in his CoC that he resided in 910 Carlota Hills, Can-adieng, Ormoc City. In this regard,
Juntilla asserted that Richard failed to meet the one (1) year residency requirement under Section 6,
Article VI4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution) and thus should be declared The disqualification of a candidate does not automatically cancel one’s certificate of candidacy,
disqualified/ineligible to run for the said office. In addition, Juntilla prayed that Richard’s CoC be denied especially when it is nominated by a political party. In effect, the political party is still allowed to
due course and/or cancelled.5 substitute the candidate whose candidacy was declared disqualified. After all, the right to substitute is a
privilege given to a political party to exercise and not dependent totally to a candidate.
On February 17, 2010, the COMELEC First Division rendered a Resolution6 granting Juntilla’s petition
without any qualification. The dispositive portion of which reads: Nonetheless, in case of doubt, the same must always be resolved to the qualification of a candidate to
run in the public office.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVE, to GRANT the
Petition to Disqualify Candidate for Lack of Qualification filed by BUENAVENTURA O. JUNTILLA against The substitution complied with the requirements provided under Section 12 in relation to Section 13 of
RICHARD I. GOMEZ. Accordingly, RICHARD I. GOMEZ is DISQUALIFIED as a candidate for the Office of Comelec Resolution No. 8678 dated October 6, 2009.
Congressman, Fourth District of Leyte, for lack of residency requirement.
In view of the foregoing, the Law Department RECOMMENDS the following:
SO ORDERED.
2. TO ALLOW CANDIDATE LUCY MARIE TORRES GOMEZ AS A SUBSTITUTE CANDIDATE FOR RICHARD
Aggrieved, Richard moved for reconsideration but the same was denied by the COMELEC En Banc GOMEZ: (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
through a Resolution dated May 4, 2010.7 Thereafter, in a Manifestation of even date, Richard accepted
the said resolution with finality "in order to enable his substitute to facilitate the filing of the necessary
The following day, or on May 9, 2010, Juntilla filed an Extremely Urgent Motion for
documents for substitution."8
Reconsideration12 (May 9, 2010 Motion) of the above-mentioned COMELEC En Banc resolution
70

Pending resolution of Juntilla’s May 9, 2010 Motion, the national and local elections were conducted as Hence, the instant petition.
scheduled on May 10, 2010. During the elections, Richards, whose name remained on the ballots,
garnered 101, 250 votes while his opponents, namely, Eufrocino Codilla, Jr. and herein petitioner Silverio
Issues Before the Court
Tagolino, obtained 76,549 and 493 votes, respectively.13 In view of the aforementioned substitution,
Richard’s votes were credited in favor of private respondent and as a result, she was proclaimed the
duly-elected Representative of the Fourth District of Leyte. The crux of the present controversy is whatever or not the HRET gravely abused its discretion in finding
that Richard was validly substituted by private respondent as candidate for Leyte Representative (Fourth
Legislative District) in view of the former’s failure to meet the one (1) year residency requirement
On May 11, 2010, Juntilla filed an Extremely Urgent Motion to resolve the pending May 9, 2010 Motion
provided under Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution.
relative to Resolution No. 8890.14 The said motion, however, remained unacted.

It is petitioner’s submission that the HRET gravely abused its discretion when it upheld the validity of
On May 24, 2010, petitioner filed a Petition15 for quo warranto before the HRET in order to oust private
private respondent’s substitution despite contrary jurisprudence holding that substitution is
respondent from her congressional seat, claiming that: (1) she failed to comply with the one (1) year
impermissible where the substituted candidate’s CoC was denied due course to and/or cancelled, as in
residency requirement under Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution considering that the transfer of her
the case of Richard. On the other hand, respondents maintain that Richard’s CoC was not denied due
voter registration from San Rafael Bulacan16 to the Fourth District of Leyte was only applied for on July
course to and/or cancelled by the COMELEC as he was only "disqualified" and therefore, was properly
23, 2009; (2) she did not validly substitute Richard as his CoC was void ab initio; and (3) private
substituted by private respondent.
respondent’s CoC was void due to her non-compliance with the prescribed notarial requirements i.e.,
she failed to present valid and competent proof of her identity before the notarizing officer.17
Ruling of the Court
In her Verified Answer,18 private respondent denied petitioner’s allegations and claimed that she validly
substituted her husband in the electoral process. She also averred that she personally known to the The petition is meritorious.
notary public who notarized her CoC, one Atty. Edgardo Cordeno, and thus, she was not required to have
presented any competent proof of identity during the notarization of the said document. Lastly, she A. Distinction between a petition for disqualification and a petition to deny due course to/cancel a
asserted that despite her marriage to Richard and exercise of profession in Metro Manila, she continued certificate of candidacy
to maintain her residency in Ormoc City which was the place where she was born and raised.

The Omnibus Election Code23 (OEC) provides for certain remedies to assail a candidate’s bid for public
During the preliminary conference, and as shown in the Preliminary Conference Order dated September office. Among these which obtain particular significance to this case are: (1) a petition for disqualification
2, 2010, the parties agreed on the following issues for resolution: under Section 68; and (2) a petition to deny due course to and/or cancel a certificate of candidacy under
Section 78. The distinctions between the two are well-perceived.
1. Whether or not the instant petition for quo warranto is meritorious;
2. Whether or not the substitution of respondent is valid; Primarily, a disqualification case under Section 68 of the OEC is hinged on either: (a) a candidate’s
3. Whether or not a petition for quo warranto can be used as a substitute for failure to file the possession of a permanent resident status in a foreign country;24 or (b) his or her commission of certain
necessary petition for disqualification with the COMELEC; acts of disqualification. Anent the latter, the prohibited acts under Section 68 refer to election offenses
4. Whether or not respondent’s COC was duly subscribed; and under the OEC, and not to violations of other penal laws.25 In particular, these are: (1) giving money or
5. Whether or not respondent is ineligible for the position of Representative of the Fourth other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing
District of Leyte for lack of residency requirement.19 electoral functions; (2) committing acts of terrorism to enhance one’s candidacy; (3) spending in one’s
election campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by the OEC; (4) soliciting, receiving or making any
Ruling of the HRET contribution prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104 of the OEC; and (5) violating Sections
80,26 83,27 85,28 8629 and 261, paragraphs d,30 e,31 k,32 v,33 and cc, sub-paragraph 634 of the OEC.
Accordingly, the same provision (Section 68) states that any candidate who, in an action or protest in
After due proceedings, the HRET issued the assailed March 22, 2012 Decision20 which dismissed the quo
which he or she is a party, is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the
warranto petition and declared that private respondent was a qualified candidate for the position of
COMELEC to have committed any of the foregoing acts shall be disqualified from continuing as a
Leyte Representative (Fourth Legislative District). It observed that the resolution denying Richard’s
candidate for public office, or disallowed from holding the same, if he or she had already been elected.35
candidacy i.e., the COMELEC First Division’s February 17, 2010 Resolution, spoke of disqualification and
not of CoC cancellation. Hence, it held that the substitution of private respondent in lieu of Richard was
legal and valid.21 Also, it upheld the validity of private respondent’s CoC due to petitioner’s failure to It must be stressed that one who is disqualified under Section 68 is still technically considered to have
controvert her claim that she was personally known to the notary public who notarized her been a candidate, albeit proscribed to continue as such only because of supervening infractions which do
CoC.22 Finally, the HRET ruled that while it had been admitted that private respondent resides in Colgate not, however, deny his or her statutory eligibility. In other words, while the candidate’s compliance with
Street, San Juan City and lived in San Rafael, Bulacan, the fact was she continued to retain her domicile in the eligibility requirements as prescribed by law, such as age, residency, and citizenship, is not in
Ormoc City given that her absence therefrom was only temporary. question, he or she is, however, ordered to discontinue such candidacy as a form of penal sanction
brought by the commission of the above-mentioned election offenses.
71

On the other hand, a denial of due course to and/or cancellation of a CoC proceeding under Section 78 of political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was
the OEC36 is premised on a person’s misrepresentation of any of the material qualifications required for disqualified. (Emphasis supplied)
the elective office aspired for. It is not enough that a person lacks the relevant qualification; he or she
must have also made a false representation of the same in the CoC.37 The nature of a Section 78 petition
Evidently, Section 77 requires that there be an "official candidate" before candidate substitution
was discussed in the case of Fermin v. COMELEC,38 where the Court illumined:
proceeds. Thus, whether the ground for substitution is death, withdrawal or disqualification of a
candidate, the said section unequivocally states that only an official candidate of a registered or
Let it be misunderstood, the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not based on the accredited party may be substituted.43
lack of qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false,
which may relate to the qualifications required of the public office he/she is running for. It is noted that
As defined under Section 79(a) of the OEC, the term "candidate" refers to any person aspiring for or
the candidates states in his/her CoC that he/she is eligible for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the
seeking an elective public office who has filed a certificate of candidacy by himself or through an
OEC, therefore, is to be read in relation to the constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications or
accredited political party, aggroupment, or coalition of parties. Clearly, the law requires that one must
eligibility for public office. If the candidate subsequently states a material representation in the CoC that
have validly filed a CoC in order to be considered a candidate. The requirement of having a CoC obtains
is false, the COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to or cancel such certificate.
even greater importance if one considers its nature. In particular, a CoC formalizes not only a person’s
Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78 to a quo warranto proceeding
public declaration to run for office but evidences as well his or her statutory eligibility to be elected for
under Section 253 of the OEC since they both deal with the eligibility or qualification of a candidate, with
the said post. In Sinaca v. Mula,44 the Court has illumined:
the distinction mainly in the fact that a "Section 78" petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition
for quo warranto is filed after proclamation of the winning candidate. (Emphasis supplied)
A certificate of candidacy is in the nature of a formal manifestation to the whole world of the candidate’s
political creed or lack of political creed. It is a statement of a person seeking to run for a public office
Corollary thereto, it must be noted that the deliberateness of the misrepresentation, much less one’s
certifying that he announces his candidacy for the office mentioned and the be is eligible for the office,
intent to defraud, is of bare significance in a Section 78 petition as it is enough that the person’s
the name of the political party to which he belongs, if he belongs to any, and his post-office address for
declaration of a material qualification in the CoC be false. In this relation, jurisprudence holds that an
all election purposes being as well stated. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).
express finding that the person committed any deliberate misrepresentation is of little consequence in
the determination of whether one’s CoC should be deemed cancelled or not.39 What remains material is
that the petition essentially seeks to deny due course to and/or cancel the CoC on the basis of one’s In this regard, the CoC is the document which formally accords upon a person the status of a candidate.
ineligibility and that the same be granted without any qualification.40 In other words, absent a valid CoC one is not considered a candidate under legal contemplation. As held
in Talaga:45
Pertinently, while a disqualified candidate under Section 68 is still considered to have been a candidate
for all intents and purposes, on the other hand, a person whose CoC had been denied due course to x x x a person’s declaration of his intention to run for public office and his affirmation that he possesses
and/or cancelled under Section 78 is deemed to have not been a candidate at all. The reason being is the eligibility for the position he seeks to assume, followed by the timely filing of such declaration,
that a cancelled CoC is considered void ab initio and thus, cannot give rise to a valid candidacy and constitute a valid CoC that render the person making the declaration a valid or official candidate.
necessarily, to valid votes.41 In Talaga v. COMELEC42 (Talaga), the Court ruled that: (Emphasis supplied)

x x x x While a person who is disqualified under Section 68 is merely prohibited to continue as a Considering that Section 77 requires that there be a candidate in order for substitution to take place, as
candidate, a person who certificate is cancelled or denied due course under Section 78 is not treated as a well as the precept that a person without a valid CoC is not considered as a candidate at all, it necessarily
candidate at all, as if he/she never filed a CoC. follows that if a person’s CoC had been denied due course to and/or cancelled, he or she cannot be
validly substituted in the electoral process. The existence of a valid CoC is therefore a condition sine qua
non for a disqualified candidate to be validly substituted.46
The foregoing variance gains utmost importance to the present case considering its implications on
candidate substitution.
C. Divergent effects of disqualification and denial of due course to and/or cancellation of CoC cases vis-à-
vis candidate substitution
B. Valid CoC as a condition sine qua non for candidate substitution

Proceeding, from the foregoing discourse, it is evident that there lies a clear-cut distinction between a
Section 77 of the OEC provides that if an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party
disqualification case under Section 68 and denial of due course to and/or cancellation of COC case under
dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, a person belonging to and certified by the same political
Section 78 vis-à-vis their respective effects on candidate substitution under Section 77.1âwphi1
party may file a CoC to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified. It states that:

As explained in the case of Miranda v. Abaya47 (Miranda), a candidate who is disqualified under Section
Sec. 77. Candidates in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal of another. - If after the last day for
68 can be validly substituted pursuant to Section 77 because he remains a candidate until disqualified;
the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party
but a person whose CoC has been denied due course to and/or cancelled under Section 78 cannot be
dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same
substituted because he is not considered a candidate.48 Stated differently, since there would be no
72

candidate to speak of under a denial of due course to and/or cancellation of a CoC case, then there Private respondent’s petition in SPA No. 98-019 specifically prayed for the following:
would be no candidate to be substituted; the same does not obtain, however, in a disqualification case
since there remains to be a candidate to be substituted, although his or her candidacy is discontinued.
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Certificate of Candidacy filed by respondent for the
position of Mayor for the City of Snatiago be not given due course and/or cancelled.
On this note, it is equally revelatory that Section 77 expressly enumerates the instances where
substitution is permissible, that is when an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party
Other reliefs just and equitable in the premises are likewise prayed for.
"dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause." Noticeably, material misrepresentation cases are not
included in the said section and therefore, cannot be a valid basis to proceed with candidate
substitution. In resolving the petition filed by private respondent specifying a very particular relief, the COMELEC
ruled favorably in the following manner:
D. Application to the case at bar
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Commission (FIRST DIVISION) GRANTS the Petition.
Respondent JOSE "Pempe" MIRANDA is hereby DISQUALIFIED from running for the position of mayor of
In this case, it is undisputed that Richard was disqualified to run in the May 10, 2010 elections due to his
Santiago City, Isabela, in the May 11, 1998 national and local elections.
failure to comply with the one year residency requirement.49 The confusion, however, stemmed from the
use of the word "disqualified" in the February 17, 2010 Resolution of the COMELEC First Division, which
was adopted by the COMELEC En Banc in granting the substitution of private respondent, and even SO ORDERED.
further perpetuated by the HRET in denying the quo warranto petition. In short, a finding that Richard
was merely disqualified – and not that his CoC was denied due course to and/or cancelled – would mean From a plain reading of the dispositive portion of the COMELEC resolution of May 5, 1998 in SPA No. 98-
that he could have been validly substitute by private respondent, thereby legitimizing her candidacy. 019, it is sufficiently clear that the prayer specifically and particularly sought in the petition was
GRANTED, there being no qualification on the matter whatsoever. The disqualification was simply ruled
Yet the fact that the COMELEC First Division’s February 17, 2010 Resolution did not explicitly decree the over and above the granting of the specific prayer for denial of due course and cancellation of the
denial of due course to and/or cancellation of Richard’s CoC should not have obviated the COMELEC En certificate of candidacy.
Banc from declaring the invalidity of private respondent’s substitution. It should be stressed that the
clear and unequivocal basis for Richard’s "disqualification" is his failure to comply with the residency There is no dispute that the complaint or petition filed by private respondent in SPA No. 98-019 is one to
requirement under Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution which is a ground for the denial of due course deny due course and to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Jose "Pempe" Miranda. There is likewise no
to and/or cancellation a CoC under Section 78 of the OEC, misrepresentation contemplated under a question that the said petition was GRANTED without any qualification whatsoever. It is rather clear,
Section 78 petition refers to statements affecting one’s qualifications for elective office such as age, therefore, that whether or not the COMELEC granted any further relief in SPA No. 98-019 by
residence and citizenship or non-possession of natural-born Filipino status.51 There is therefore no legal disqualifying the candidate, the fact remains that the said petition was granted and that the certificate of
basis to support a finding of disqualification within the ambit of election laws. Accordingly, given candidacy of Jose "Pempe" Miranda was denied due course and cancelled. (Emphasis and underscoring
Richard’s non-compliance with the one year residency requirement, it cannot be mistaken that the supplied)
COMELEC First Division’s unqualified grant of Juntilla’s "Verified Petition to Disqualify Candidate for Lack
of Qualification"52 – which prayed that the COMELEC declare Richard "DISQUALIFIED and INELIGIBLE
from seeking the office of Member of the House of Representatives" and "x x x that his Certificate of The same rule was later discussed in the case of Talaga, viz:
Candidacy x x x be DENIED DUE COURSE and/or CANCELLED"53 – carried with it the denial of due course
to and/or cancellation of Richard’s CoC pursuant to Section 78. 3. Granting without any qualification or petition in SPA No. 09-029(DC) manifested COMELEC’s intention
to declare Ramon disqualified and to cancel his CoC
Case law dictates that if a petition prays for the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of CoC and
the same is granted by the COMELEC without any qualification, the cancellation of the candidate’s CoC in In Miranda v. Abaya, the specific relief that the petition prayed for was that the CoC "be not given due
in order. This is precisely the crux of the Miranda ruling wherein the Court, in upholding the COMELEC En course and/or cancelled". The COMELEC categorically granted "the petition" and then pronounced – in
Banc’s nullification of the substitution in that case, decreed that the COMELEC Division’s unqualified apparent contradiction – that Joel Pempe Miranda was "disqualified." The Court held that the COMELEC,
grant of the petition necessarily included the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of the by granting the petition without any qualification, disqualified Joel Pempe Miranda and at the same time
candidate’s CoC, notwithstanding the use of the term "disqualified" in the COMELEC Division’s cancelled Jose Pempe Miranda’s CoC.
resolution, as the foregoing was prayed for in the said petition:
The crucial point of Miranda v. Abaya was that the COMELEC actually granted the particular relief of
The question to settle next is whether or not aside from Joiel "Pempe" Miranda being disqualified by the cancelling or denying due course to the CoC prayed for in the petition by not subjecting that relief to any
COMELEC in its May 5, 1998 resolution, his certificate of candidacy had likewise been denied due course qualification. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
and cancelled.
In view of the foregoing rulings, the COMELEC En Banc direly misconstrued the COMELEC First Division’s
The Court rules that it was. February 17, 2010 Resolution when it adopted the Law Department’s finding that Richard was only
73

"disqualified" and that his CoC was not denied due course to and/or cancelled, paving the way for the respondent’s own qualification to run for public office – which was inextricably linked to her husband’s
approval of private respondent’s substitution. It overlooked the fact that the COMELEC First Division’s own qualifications due to her substitution – was the proper subject of quo warranto proceedings falling
ruling encompassed the cancellation of Richard’s CoC and in consequence, disallowed the substitution of within the exclusive jurisdiction of the HRET and independent from any previous proceedings before the
private respondent. It was therefore grave and serious error on the part of the COMELEC En Banc to COMELEC, lest the jurisdiction divide between the two be blurred.
have approved private respondent’s substitution.
Nonetheless, it must be pointed out that the HRET’s independence is not without limitation. As earlier
Consequently, in perpetuating the COMELEC En Banc’s error as above-discussed, the HRET committed a mentioned, the Court retains certiorari jurisdiction over the HRET if only to check whether or not it has
grave abuse of discretion, warranting the grant of the instant petition. gravely abused its discretion. In this regard, the Court does not endeavor to denigrate nor undermine the
HRET’s independence; rather, it merely fulfills its duty to ensure that the Constitution and the laws are
upheld through the exercise of its power of judicial review.
Fundamental is the rule that grave abuse of discretion arises when a lower court or tribunal patently
violates the Constitution, the law or existing jurisprudence.54 While it is well-recognized that the HRET
has been empowered by the Constitution to be the "sole judge" of all contests relating to the election, In fine, the Court observes that the HRET wantonly disregarded the law by deliberately adopting the
returns, and qualifications of the members of the House, the Court maintains jurisdiction over it to check COMELEC En Banc’s flawed findings regarding private respondent’s eligibility to run for public office
"whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" which essentially stemmed from her substitution. In this light, it cannot be gainsaid that the HRET gravely
on the part of the latter.55 In other words, when the HRET utterly disregards the law and settled abused its discretion.
precedents on the matter before it, it commits a grave abuse of discretion.
Owing to the lack of proper substitution in its case, private respondent was therefore not a bona fide
Records clearly show that: (1) Richard was held ineligible as a congressional candidate for the Fourth candidate for the position of Representative for the Fourth District of Leyte when she ran for office,
District of Leyte due to his failure to comply with the one year residency requirement; (2) Juntilla’s which means that she could not have been elected. Considering this pronouncement, there exists no
petition prayed for the denial of due course to and/or cancellation of his CoC; and (3) the COMELEC First cogent reason to further dwell on the other issues respecting private respondent’s own qualification to
Division granted the foregoing petition without any qualification. By these undisputed and essential facts office.
alone, the HRET should not have adopted the COMELEC En Banc’s erroneous finding that the COMELEC
First Division’s February 17, 2010 Resolution "speaks only of "disqualification and not of cancellation of
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the March 22, 2012 Decision rendered by the House
Richard’s CoC"36 and thereby, sanctioned the substitution of private respondent.
of Representatives Electoral Tribunal in HRET Case No. 10-031 (QW) is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

Lest it be misunderstood, the HRET is not bound by previous COMELEC pronouncements relative to the
SO ORDERED.
qualifications of the Members of the House. Being the sole judge57 of all contests relating to the election,
returns, and qualifications of its respective members, the HRET cannot be tied down by COMELEC
resolutions, else its constitutional mandate58 be circumvented and rendered nugatory. Instructive on this
point is the Court’s disquisition in Fernandez v. HRET,59 to wit:

Private respondent concludes from the above that petitioner had no legal basis to claim that the HRET,
when reference to the qualification/s of Members of the House of Representatives is concerned, is "co-
equal", to the COMELEC respecting the matter of eligibility and qualification of a member of the House
of Representatives. The truth is the other way around, because the COMELEC is subservient to the HRET
when the dispute or contest at issue refers to the eligibility and/or qualification of a Member of the
House of Representatives. A petition for quo warranto is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the HRET as
sole judge, and cannot be considered forum shopping even if another body may have passed upon in
administrative or quasi-judicial proceedings the issue of the Member’s qualification while the Member
was still a candidate. There is forum-shopping only where two cases involve the same parties and the
same cause of action. The two cases here are distinct and dissimilar in their nature and character.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Notably, the phrase "election, returns, and qualifications" should be interpreted in its totality as referring
to all matters affecting the validity of the contestee’s title. More particularly, the term "qualifications"
refers to matters that could be raised in a quo warranto proceeding against the pro-claimed winner, such
as his disloyalty or ineligibility, or the inadequacy of his certificate of candidacy.60 As used in Section 74 of
the OEC, the word "eligible" means having the right to run for elective public office, that is, having all the
qualifications and none of the ineligibilities to run for the public office.61 In this relation, private
74

EN BANC By that time, however, the official ballots had already been printed. Expectedly, on May 10, 2010, the
day of elections, the name "SANCHEZ, Edna P." was retained in the list of candidates for Mayor of Sto.
Tomas, and garnered the highest number of votes - 28,389 against Maligaya’s 22,577 votes.10
G.R. No. 199612 January 22, 2013

On May 11, 2010, the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBOC) printed the Certificate of Canvass of Votes
RENATO M. FEDERICO, Petitioner,
and Proclamation of Winning Candidates11 (COCVP) showing "SANCHEZ Edna P." as the winning
vs.
mayoralty candidate. The printed COCVP, reads:
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, COMELEC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR and OSMUNDO M.
MALIGAYA,Respondents.
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED MEMBERS of the CITY/MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS do hereby certify
under oath that we have duly canvassed the votes cast in 81 precincts in the city/municipality for the
DECISION
Candidates therein for city/municipality offices in the elections held on May 10, 2010. Attached hereto
and forming part hereof is a Statement of Votes by Precinct (CEF No. 20-A-1) obtained by each candidate
MENDOZA, J.: for the offices of Mayor and Vice-Mayor.

This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, in relation to Rule 64, of the Rules of Court, assailing the That after such canvass, it appears that SANCHEZ, Edna P. obtained 28389 votes for the office of
December 21, 2011 Resolution1 of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) En Bane. in SPC No. 10-082, City/Municipality Mayor, the same being the highest number of votes legally cast for said office; and
entitled In Re: Petition to Annul the Proclamation of Respondent Renato M. Federico, Osmundo M. SILVA, Armenius O. obtained 25532 votes for the office of City/Municipality Vice Mayor, the same being
Maligaya v. Renato M. Federico and the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Santo Tomas, Batangas. the highest number of votes legally cast for said office.

The Facts ON THE BASIS OF THE FOREGOING, we hereby proclaim the above candidates as the duly elected
City/Municipality Mayor and City/Municipality Vice Mayor.
Edna Sanchez (Edna) and private respondent Osmundo M. Maligaya (Maligaya) were candidates for the
position of municipal mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, in the May 10, 2010 Automated National and Local IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have signed these presents in SANTO TOMAS, Province of Batangas this Tue
Elections. Maligaya was the Liberal Party’s official mayoralty candidate.2 May 11, 14:09:55 PHT 2010.

On April 27, 2010, Armando Sanchez, husband of Edna and the gubernatorial candidate for the province [Emphases and underscoring supplied]
of Batangas, died. Two days later, or on April 29, 2010,3 Edna withdrew her Certificate of Candidacy
(COC) for the position of mayor. She then filed a new COC and the corresponding Certificate of
This action of MBOC prompted Maligaya to file his Petition to Annul Proclamation of Respondent Edna
Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) for the position of governor as substitute candidate for her
Sanchez,12docketed as SPC No. 10-022, on May 20, 2010. This petition was, however, later withdrawn, as
deceased husband.
agreed upon by the parties, and the case was dismissed by the Comelec First Division.13

On May 5, 2010, petitioner Renato M. Federico (Federico) filed with the Office of the Election Officer of
A second print-out14 of the COCVP was issued by the MBOC bearing the same time and date with the
Sto. Tomas, Batangas, his COC4 and CONA5 as official candidate of the Nationalista Party and as
same number of votes garnered by Edna being credited to Federico. The second print-out reads:
substitute candidate for mayor, in view of the withdrawal of Edna.

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED MEMBERS of the CITY/MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS do hereby certify
On May 7, 2010, the Comelec Law Department referred the Affidavit of Withdrawal, the COC and the
under oath that we have duly canvassed the votes cast in 81 precincts in the city/municipality for the
CONA of Edna, as substitute candidate for her late husband, and those of Federico, as substitute
Candidates therein for city/municipality offices in the elections held on May 10, 2010. Attached hereto
candidate for her, to the Comelec En Banc for its consideration.6
and forming part hereof is a Statement of Votes by Precinct (CEF No. 20-A-1) obtained by each candidate
for the offices of Mayor and Vice-Mayor.
On the same day, May 7, 2010, Maligaya filed his Petition to Deny Due Course and to Cancel Certificate
of Candidacy7 of Federico before the Comelec, docketed as SPA No. 10-137 (DC). Maligaya sought to
That after such canvass, it appears that FEDERICO, Renato M. obtained 28389 votes for the office of
have Federico declared ineligible to run as substitute candidate for Edna because the period to file the
City/Municipality Mayor, the same being the highest number of votes legally cast for said office; and
COC for substitute candidates had already lapsed after December 14, 2009, pursuant to Section 13 of
SILVA, Armenius O. obtained 25532 votes for the office of City/Municipality Vice Mayor, the same being
Comelec Resolution No. 8678.8
the highest number of votes legally cast for said office.

In Resolution No. 8889,9 dated May 8, 2010, the COMELEC En Banc gave due course to the COC of Edna
ON THE BASIS OF THE FOREGOING, we hereby proclaim the above candidates as the duly elected
as substitute gubernatorial candidate in the Batangas province and to that of Federico as substitute
City/Municipality Mayor and City/Municipality Vice Mayor.
mayoralty candidate in Sto. Tomas.
75

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have signed these presents in SANTO TOMAS, Province of Batangas this Tue On August 31, 2011, Federico filed a motion for reconsideration23 of the Comelec En Banc’s Order given
May 11, 14:09:55 PHT 2010. in the August 25, 2011 hearing, claiming that the case was barred by forum shopping and litis pendentia.
Pending his motion, he elevated the matter to the Supreme Court on September 9, 2011 by way of a
Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, docketed as G.R. No. 198283. This petition was subsequently
[Emphases and underscoring supplied]
dismissed by the Court on October 4, 2011 for being premature in view of the pendency of the partial
motion for reconsideration before the Comelec En Banc.24
On June 1, 2010, upon learning of the proclamation of Federico as the winning mayoralty candidate by
the MBOC, Maligaya filed his Petition to Annul Proclamation of Respondent Renato M. Federico15 as
On December 21, 2011, the Comelec En Banc issued the assailed Resolution granting Maligaya’s partial
mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, docketed as SPC No. 10-082. The petition was predicated on the alleged
motion for reconsideration. Thus:
illegal act of the MBOC in issuing a falsified and patently antedated second COCVP in the name of
Federico without reconvening, without due notice, and without annulling the first COCVP issued in favor
of Edna. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant Partial Motion for Reconsideration is GRANTED. The
proclamation of respondent Federico is hereby ANNULLED. Accordingly:
In his answer to the petition, Federico raised, among others, the defenses that the petition was an
erroneous remedy, having no basis under the rules; that it was not based on valid grounds; and that it 1. The Executive Director is ordered to constitute a Special Municipal Board of Canvassers for
should not have been given due course as it was belatedly filed.16 the municipality of Sto. Tomas, Batangas;

The members of the MBOC likewise filed an answer, claiming good faith when they proclaimed Federico 2. The Special Municipal Board of Canvassers is ordered to immediately notify the parties,
as winner considering that the substitutions of Edna and Federico were valid under Comelec Resolution reconvene and proclaim petitioner OSMUNDO M. MALIGAYA as the duly elected Mayor of
No. 8889.17 Sto. Tomas, Batangas; and

Meanwhile, Maligaya’s petition to deny due course and to cancel the COC of Federico was denied by the 3. The Law Department is directed to conduct an investigation on the members of the (Old)
Comelec Second Division in its Resolution,18 dated October 19, 2010. It gave due course to Federico’s Municipal Board of Canvassers of Sto. Tomas, Batangas for possible violation of Section 32
COC and CONA on the basis of the Comelec En Banc’s Resolution No. 8889 which upheld Federico’s pars. (c) and (f) Article VI of COMELEC Resolution No. 8809.
substitution.
Let the Executive Director implement this resolution.
In its Resolution,19 dated June 21, 2011, the Comelec First Division denied Maligaya’s petition to annul
the proclamation of Federico for having been filed out of time, as it was filed beyond the ten (10) day
SO ORDERED.25
period from the day of proclamation as provided for under Section 6, Rule 4 of Comelec Resolution
8804.20 Further, it held that Federico’s filing of candidacy for mayor, vice Edna, was valid.
The Comelec En Banc ruled that the petition for the annulment of Federico’s proclamation filed on June
21
1, 2011 was within the prescribed ten (10) day period. It explained that the period for the filing of the
Maligaya then filed his Verified Partial Motion for Reconsideration, dated June 27, 2011, insisting that
said petition should be reckoned from May 27, 2011, when Maligaya discovered the existence of the
his petition had not yet prescribed and that Federico’s substitution was null and void with his COC and
second COCVP and not on May 11, 2011, the proclamation date. The Comelec En Banc was of the view
CONA filed after December 14, 2009, the deadline provided for under Section 13 of Comelec Resolution
that the annulment of Federico’s proclamation was in order because of his invalid substitution of Edna,
No. 8678. He further claimed that the generation of a second print-out of the COCVP bearing the same
as his substitute COC was filed beyond the deadline and due to the illegality of the proceedings of the
time and date with the same number of votes garnered by Edna being credited to Federico was
MBOC in generating the second COCVP without authority from the Comelec and without notice to the
questionable for it was impossible for Federico to be proclaimed as the winning candidate because the
parties, in violation of Comelec Resolution No. 8804.
Canvassing and Consolidating System (CCS) had already printed a COCVP with the name of Edna, as the
winner.
Hence, Federico filed the present Petition for Certiorari with Prayer for Writ of Preliminary Injunction
and/or Temporary Restraining Order, dated December 23, 2011, before this Court anchored on the
The said partial motion for reconsideration was elevated to the Comelec En Banc for proper disposition.
following

In his Comment22 on Maligaya’s partial motion for reconsideration, Federico pointed out that his
GROUNDS
substitution of Edna had already been upheld with finality and, thus, could no longer be questioned. He
prayed for the dismissal of the case.
(I)
In the hearing of August 25, 2011, the Comelec En Banc considered the case submitted for resolution.
The validity of Petitioner’s substitution as mayoralty candidate is already a settled fact.
76

A. Petitioner validly substituted Edna Sanchez pursuant to Section 77 of the Omnibus Election The Issues
Code.
From the pleadings of the parties, the principal issues presented for resolution are: (1) whether Federico
B. The validity of Petitioner’s substitution was already decided with finality by the Comelec. could validly substitute Edna who withdrew her candidacy for the mayoralty position; (2) whether
Maligaya’s Petition to Annul Proclamation of Federico as mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, docketed as
SPC No. 10-082, was filed on time; and (3) granting that Federico was disqualified, whether he should be
C. Resolution No. 8889 is valid. The Comelec, in issuing Resolution No. 8889, passed upon all
succeeded by Intervenor Silva under the LGC or replaced by Maligaya.
matters and issues laid before it in the case. Moreover, after Resolution No. 8889 was issued,
it was in force and had to be complied with.
Essentially, the issue thrust upon the Court is whether the Comelec gravely abused its discretion when it
annulled Federico’s proclamation as the winning candidate on the ground that his substitution as
(II)
mayoralty candidate was void.

The proclamation of Petitioner was regular and done in accordance with law.
Federico insists that his substitution of Edna was valid and had long been final in view of Comelec
Resolution No. 8889. He likewise argues that his proclamation as mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, was
A. The votes cast for "SANCHEZ, Edna P." were legally considered votes for Petitioner. valid and regular and, hence, it must be upheld.

B. The petition to annul Petitioner’s proclamation was filed out of time. The Court’s Ruling

(III) The Court agrees with the position taken by the OSG representing public respondent Comelec En Banc.
The electoral commission committed no grave abuse of discretion when it came out with its December
Private Respondent cannot validly be proclaimed as elected mayor because he was the losing 21, 2011 Resolution,33 in SPC No. 10-082, granting Maligaya’s partial motion for reconsideration. The
candidate.26 Court shall discuss the issues in seriatim.

In the meantime, on December 29, 2011, the Comelec En Banc issued Minute Resolution No. 11-1306 Federico’s substitution of Edna Sanchez
constituting the special MBOC pursuant to its December 21, 2011 Resolution.27 as mayoralty candidate was not valid

On January 16, 2012, the Comelec En Banc issued a Writ of Execution ordering Federico to vacate the In its assailed December 21, 2011 Resolution, the Comelec En Banc annulled Federico’s proclamation as
position as mayor and to cease and desist from performing the functions of the said office.28 mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, on the ground that his substitution of Edna was invalid, the substitute
COC and CONA having been filed after the December 14, 2009 deadline provided for under Section 13 of
Comelec Resolution No. 8678.
On January 17, 2012, the Special MBOC issued a notice to convene on January 24, 2012 at the Comelec’s
Session Hall for the purpose of proclaiming Maligaya as the duly elected mayor.29
Federico argues that Comelec Resolution No. 8678 cannot prevail over the provisions of Section 77 of
Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), prescribing the rules on substitution of an
In its Resolution, dated January 17, 2012, the Court required the respondents in this case to comment on official candidate of a registered political party who dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause after
Federico’s petition for certiorari within ten (10) days from notice, to which Maligaya and the Comelec the last day for the filing of his COC. The law provides:
complied. In the same Resolution, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining the
Comelec from constituting and reconvening the Special MBOC and from proclaiming Maligaya as mayor
of Sto. Tomas, Batangas.30 Sec. 77. Candidates in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal of another. - If after the last day for
the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party
dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same
Pending resolution of the case, on February 28, 2012, Vice-Mayor Armenius Silva (Intervenor Silva) of political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was
Sto. Tomas, Batangas, filed his Motion for Leave to Intervene,31 praying essentially that as Federico failed disqualified. The substitute candidate nominated by the political party concerned may file his certificate
to qualify, he should be adjudged as his legal successor as mayor, under Section 44 of the Local of candidacy for the office affected in accordance with the preceding sections not later than mid-day of
Government Code32 (LGC). the day of the election. If the death, withdrawal or disqualification should occur between the day before
the election and mid-day of election day, said certificate may be filed with any board of election
Both the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and Maligaya opposed the motion to intervene, both inspectors in the political subdivision where he is a candidate, or, in the case of candidates to be voted
arguing that he (Maligaya) was the only mayoralty candidate left to be voted for given the withdrawal of for by the entire electorate of the country, with the Commission. (Emphasis supplied)
Edna and Federico’s invalid substitution. Maligaya, then, was not a second placer but the sole and only
placer in the elections. Hence, the doctrine of the second-placer would not apply to him.
77

Federico posits that he timely filed his COC as it was not later than midday of the day of the election. He Under said provision, "the Comelec, which has the constitutional mandate to enforce and administer all
argues that the law makes no distinction between the different causes for substitution – death, laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election,"34 has been empowered to set the dates for
disqualification or withdrawal. Regardless of the cause of substitution, the deadline for the filing of a certain pre-election proceedings. In the exercise of such constitutional and legislated power, especially
substitute COC is "not later than mid-day of the election." Accordingly, he asserts that he validly to safeguard and improve on the Automated Election System (AES), Comelec came out with Resolution
substituted Edna having filed his COC and CONA on May 5, 2010 or five (5) days before the elections and No. 8678.
having complied with all the procedural requirements for a valid substitution.
As automated elections had been mandated by law, there was a need for the early printing of the
Federico’s argument is not well-taken. ballots. So that all candidates would be accommodated in the ballots, the early filing of COCs was
necessary. If there would be late filing and approval of COCs, the names of aspiring candidates would not
be included in the ballot, the only document to be read by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)
The Comelec is empowered by law to prescribe such rules so as to make efficacious and successful the
machines.
conduct of the first national automated election.

The Law, Rules and Regulations on Substitution


On January 23, 2007, Congress enacted Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9369, An Act Amending Republic Act No.
8436, Entitled ‘An Act Authorizing The Commission On Elections To Use An Automated Election System In
The May 11, 1998 National Or Local Elections And In Subsequent National And Local Electoral Exercises,’ With regard to substitutions, Congress and the Comelec came out with laws and rules addressing
To Encourage Transparency, Credibility, Fairness And Accuracy Of Elections, Amending For The Purpose anticipated problems in such cases. Thus, under Section 12 of R.A. No. 9006, in order to obviate
Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, As Amended, Republic Act No. 7166 And Other Related Elections Laws, confusion, the name of the substitute candidate should, as much as possible, bear the same surname as
Providing Funds Therefor And For Other Purposes. Section 13 of said law partially provides: that of the substituted candidate. Section 12 reads:

SEC. 13. Section 11 of Republic Act No. 8436 is hereby amended to read as follows: Section 12. Substitution of Candidates. – In case of valid substitutions after the official ballots have been
printed, the votes cast for the substituted candidates shall be considered as stray votes but shall not
invalidate the whole ballot. For this purpose, the official ballots shall provide spaces where the voters
SEC.15. Official Ballot. - The Commission shall prescribe the format of the electronic display and/or the
may write the name of the substitute candidates if they are voting for the latter: Provided, however,
size and form of the official ballot, which shall contain the titles of the position to be filled and/or the
That if the substitute candidate of the same family name, this provision shall not apply. [Emphases
proposition to be voted upon in an initiative, referendum or plebiscite. Where practicable, electronic
supplied]
displays must be constructed to present the names of all candidates for the same position in the same
page or screen, otherwise, the electronic displays must be constructed to present the entire ballot to the
voter, in a series of sequential pages, and to ensure that the voter sees all of the ballot options on all Regarding the May 10, 2010 automated elections, the Comelec came out with Resolution No. 8678. On
pages before completing his or her vote and to allow the voter to review and change all ballot choices substitution, Section 13 thereof provides:
prior to completing and casting his or her ballot.
SEC. 13. Substitution of Candidates, in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal of another. - If after
Under each position to be filled, the names of candidates shall be arranged alphabetically by surname the last day for the filing of certificate of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered political party
and uniformly indicated using the same type size. The maiden or married name shall be listed in the dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, he may be substituted by a candidate belonging to, and
official ballot, as preferred by the female candidate. Under each proposition to be vote upon, the choices nominated by, the same political party. No substitute shall be allowed for any independent candidate.
should be uniformly indicated using the same font and size.
The substitute for a candidate who withdrew may file his certificate of candidacy as herein provided for
A fixed space where the chairman of the board of election inspector shall affix her/her signature to the office affected not later than December 14, 2009.
authenticate the official ballot shall be provided.
The substitute for a candidate who died or suffered permanent incapacity or disqualified by final
For this purpose, the Commission shall set the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy/petition judgment, may file his certificate of candidacy up to mid-day of election day. If the death or permanent
of registration/manifestation to participate in the election. Any person who files his certificate of disability should occur between the day before the election and mid-day of election day, the substitute
candidacy within this period shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period candidate may file the certificate with any board of election inspectors in the political subdivision where
for which he filed his certificate of candidacy: Provided, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a he is a candidate, or in the case of a candidate for President, Vice-President or Senator, with the Law
candidate shall effect only upon that start of the aforesaid campaign period: Provided, finally, That any Department of the Commission on Elections in Manila.
person holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of the armed forces, and
officers, and employees in government-owned or-controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto
No person who has withdrawn his candidacy for a position shall be eligible as substitute candidate for
resigned from his/her office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of the filing of his/her
any other position after the deadline for filing of certificates of candidacy. [Emphasis and underscoring
certification of candidacy. (Emphasis supplied)
supplied]
78

As correctly pointed out by the OSG, it is clear from the foregoing that different deadlines were set to "Where a proclamation is null and void, the proclamation is no proclamation at all and the proclaimed
govern the specific circumstances that would necessitate the substitution of a candidate due to death, candidate's assumption of office cannot deprive the Comelec of the power to declare such nullity and
disqualification or withdrawal. In case of death or disqualification, the substitute had until midday of the annul the proclamation."37
election day to file the COC. In case of withdrawal, which is the situation at bench, the substitute should
have filed a COC by December 14, 2009.
More importantly, Resolution No. 8889 was merely an administrative issuance, based on documents
forwarded to the Comelec. It was not a result of an adversarial proceeding, where the parties were
The reason for the distinction can easily be divined. Unlike death or disqualification, withdrawal is heard and allowed to adduce evidence. In issuing Resolution No. 8889, the Comelec did not bother to
voluntary. Generally, a candidate has sufficient time to ponder on his candidacy and to withdraw while notify the parties who would have been affected. It was, thus, not a decision in an actual case or
the printing has not yet started. If a candidate withdraws after the printing, the name of the substitute controversy which ripened into finality.
candidate can no longer be accommodated in the ballot and a vote for the substitute will just be wasted.
Unquestionably, parties who had no participation therein were not bound by the resolution. Federico
When Batangas Governor Armando Sanchez died on April 27, 2010, Edna withdrew her candidacy as cannot invoke res judicata, one of the requirements of which is identity of parties. Stated differently, as
mayor and substituted her late husband as gubernatorial candidate for the province on April 29, 2010. Maligaya was not a party in the said proceeding, Resolution No. 8889 was not binding on him.
The party actually had the option to substitute another candidate for Governor aside from Edna. By
fielding Edna as their substitute candidate for Governor, the party knew that she had to withdraw her
The second COCVP in favor of Federico had no legal basis.
candidacy for Mayor. Considering that the deadline for substitution in case of withdrawal had already
lapsed, no person could substitute her as mayoralty candidate. The sudden death of then Governor
Armando Sanchez and the substitution by his widow in the gubernatorial race could not justify a belated Without question, the votes garnered by Edna could not be credited to Federico as he was never a
substitution in the mayoralty race. legitimate candidate. As there was an invalid substitution, there could not be a valid proclamation. In
effect, the second COCVP in his name had no legal basis. Granting that those who voted for Edna had in
mind to vote for Federico, nonetheless, the fact that there was no compliance with the rules cannot be
Comelec Resolution No. 8889 not binding on Maligaya
ignored.

Federico asserts that Resolution No. 8889, which gave due course to the COC of Edna, as gubernatorial
x x x. In a choice between provisions on material qualifications of elected officials, on the one hand, and
candidate; and his COC, as mayoralty candidate, was valid as the Comelec passed upon all matters and
the will of the electorate in any given locality, on the other, we believe and so hold that we cannot
issues laid before it in the case. According to him, the legal presumption was that official duty had been
choose the electorate will. The balance must always tilt in favor of upholding and enforcing the law. To
regularly performed. The resolution was an operative fact by which the Comelec denied Maligaya’s
rule otherwise is to slowly gnaw at the rule of law.38
petition to deny due course to the COC of Federico, and on the basis of which the MBOC counted the
votes for Edna as votes cast for Federico.
It was alleged that the MBOC of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, raised the hands of Federico as the winner. As
correctly pointed out by Maligaya, however, this was impossible because the CCS printed the name of
As far as Maligaya is concerned, the resolution was void as it lacked legal basis as Federico’s substitution
Edna Sanchez as the winner on the first COCVP. Thereafter, the MBOC came out with a second COCVP,
was invalid, his COC having been filed only on May 5, 2010, or after December 14, 2009, the deadline
this time, with the name of Federico on it with the same number of votes as that of Edna, and generated
provided for under Section 13 of Comelec Resolution No. 8678. No reason was mentioned in the
on the very same date and the very same time as the first COCVP - a physical impossibility.
resolution why his COC was given due course except that the withdrawal "merely caused a vacuum in
mayoralty contest."35 The resolution reads:
Maligaya’s Petition to Annul the Proclamation of Federico was filed on time
Mrs. Edna P. Sanchez is qualified to substitute for her deceased husband. And this substitution is not
contrary to law or our rules. She is stepping up from her candidacy as Mayor to Governor, and such Maligaya became aware of the issuance of the second COCVP in favor of Federico only on May 27, 2010.
action merely caused a vacuum in mayoralty contest. The rule being cited by the Law Department that From that day, he had ten (10) days to question the dubious proceeding in the MBOC under Section 6 of
the substitute for a candidate who withdrew may file his certificate of candidacy as herein provided for Resolution No. 8804. Considering that Maligaya filed his petition to annul Federico’s May 10, 2010
the office affected not later than December 14, 2009, is far from germane considering that the vacancy proclamation on June 1, 2010, it was indeed filed on time.
arose by reason of the death of Governor Sanchez.
It has been argued that there is no evidence that Maligaya became aware of the issuance of the second
To stress, the vacancy in the mayoralty race in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, was due to the withdrawal of Edna COCVP in favor of Federico only on May 27, 2010. In this regard, the Court believes that the actions
as mayoralty candidate, not due to the death of Armando Sanchez. taken by Maligaya after the elections and the separate proclamations of Edna and Federico strongly
indicate that he was telling the truth. Indeed, there is no rhyme or reason why he should file a petition
questioning the proclamation of Edna if he had knowledge of the subsequent proclamation of Federico.
Accordingly, the Court agrees with the OSG that Resolution No. 8889 was void as it was in contravention
The Court adopts with approbation his reasoning on the matter. Thus:
of the guidelines set forth under Resolution No. 8678. With respect to Federico, it cannot be regarded as
a valid source of any right, like the right to be voted for public office. Indeed, a void judgment can never
be final and executory and may be assailed at any time.36
79

5.35. Private respondent pursued and prosecuted this case with the knowledge that it was WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
Edna Sanchez who was proclaimed, until he came to know of the alleged proclamation of
respondent Federico on May 27, 2010. Consequently, he filed another petition on June 1,
The Motion for Leave to Intervene filed by Armenius Silva is DENIED.
2010, this time against Federico, to annul his proclamation. The June 1, 2010 petition was
filed within ten days from the knowledge of the alleged proclamation of Federico.
The Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Court is ordered lifted.
5.36. The filing of SPC NO. 10-022 demonstrates that private respondent Maligaya believed in
good faith that it was Edna Sanchez that was proclaimed and that he did not initially know SO ORDERED.
that there was a COCVP in the name of Federico. SPC No. 10-022 is also a proof that
petitioner did not dilly dally in protecting his rights. There simply is no reason and it runs G.R. No. 199612, JANUARY 22, 2013
counter to human conduct for Maligaya to file a petition for annulment of proclamation of
Edna Sanchez if he knew all along that it was Federico who was proclaimed. DOCTRINE:

5.37. In the same manner, the filing of the present petition against Federico shows that the Under Sec. 15 of RA 9369 which governs the conduct of automated elections, the Comelec is empowered
proclamation of Federico was fraudulent or at least made surreptitiously. Had Maligaya by law to prescribe such rules so as to make efficacious and successful the conduct of the first national
known of the proclamation of Federico, he should have outrightly filed the petition for automated election: “the Comelec, which has the constitutional mandate to enforce and administer all
annulment of proclamation against Federico. But because it was made without any notice to laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election,”
the herein private respondent, he only knew of it on May 27, 2010, thus, the petition on June
1, 2010. Private respondent did not certainly sleep on his rights as he filed the proper petition In resolving that the deadline for all substitutions must be made on or before Dec. 15, 2009 pursuant to
within the prescribed period. He could not be penalized for belated filing when, as shown Comelec Resolution No. 8678, COMELEC did not abuse its discretion.
above, the COCVP of Federico was surreptitiously accomplished. Thus, the Comelec En Banc
did not commit grave abuse of discretion in upholding the interest of herein private FACTS:
respondent Maligaya.39 [Emphasis and underscoring in the original]
Edna Sanchez and private respondent Maligaya were candidates for the position of municipal mayor of
Sto. Tomas, Batangas, in the May 10, 2010 Automated National and Local Elections. Maligaya was the
Accordingly, the Comelec did not abuse its discretion when it annulled the actions of the MBOC and the
Liberal Party’s official mayoralty candidate.
proclamation of Federico. Such exercise is within its powers under the law to administer and enforce
election laws.
On April 27, 2010, Armando Sanchez, husband of Edna and the gubernatorial candidate for the province
of Batangas, died. On April 29, 2010, Edna withdrew her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the position
x x x, The statutory power of supervision and control by the COMELEC over the boards of canvassers of mayor. She then filed a new COC and the corresponding Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance
includes the power to revise or reverse the action of the boards, as well as to do what the boards should (CONA) for the position of governor as substitute candidate for her deceased husband.
have done. Such power includes the authority to initiate motu propio such steps or actions as may be
required pursuant to law, like reviewing the actions of the board; conducting an inquiry affecting the Subsequently, petitioner Renato M. Federico (Federico) filed his COC and CONA as official candidate of
genuineness of election returns beyond the election records of the polling places involved; annulling the Nationalista Party and as substitute candidate for mayor, in lieu of Edna.
canvass or proclamations based on incomplete returns or on incorrect or tampered returns; invalidating
a canvass or proclamation made in an unauthorized meeting of the board of canvassers either because it Private Respondent sought to declare petitioner ineligible because his COC was allegedly filed after the
lacked a quorum or because the board did not meet at all; requiring the board to convene.401âwphi1 deadline had lapsed pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 8678.

However, the COMELEC en banc resolved to give due course to the candidacy of Edna and Petitioner.
There being no valid substitution, the candidate with the highest number of votes should be proclaimed
as the duly elected mayor.
However, by the time of the elections, because the ballots had already been printed, the name of Edna
was still on the ballots for the position of Mayor of Sto. Tomas against Private Respondent. In fact, Edna
As Federico's substitution was not valid, there was only one qualified candidate in the mayoralty race in garnered the most votes for that election, beating Private Respodent for the position of mayor.
Sto. Tomas, Batangas Maligaya. Being the only candidate, he received the highest number of votes. Eventually the board ofcanvassers credited the votes of Edna to Petitioner (who was the replacement of
Accordingly, he should be proclaimed as the duly elected mayor in the May 10,2010 elections.41 Edna).

Considering that Maligaya was the winner, the position of Intervenor Silva that he be considered the Private Respondent filed this petition to annul the proclamation of Petitioner Federico.
legal successor of Federico, whom he claims failed to qualify, has no legal basis. There is simply no
vacancy. When there is no vacancy, the rule on succession under Section 4442 of the LGC cannot be The COMELEC en banc eventually annulled the proclamation of Petitioner and proclaimed Private
invoked. Respondent Maligaya as mayor (Maligaya na sya). The COMELEC declared that Petitioner's substitution
of Edna was void because if was filed after the period for filing of COCs had lapsed.
80

Petitioner filed a petitin for certiorari with the Supreme Court. He claimed that Comelec Resolution No. Municipal Board of Canvassers... printed the Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation of Winning
8678, which fixed a period for the filing of COCs and CONAs cannot prevail over the Omnibus Election Candidates... showing "SANCHEZ Edna P." as the winning mayoralty candidate.
code, specifically Sec. 77 which provides that a party's replacement candidate of one who withdraws,
dies or is disqualified may be filed no later than mid-day of the elections. prompted Maligaya to file his Petition to Annul Proclamation of Respondent Edna Sanchez... upon
learning of the proclamation of Federico as the winning mayoralty candidate
ISSUE: Whether or not the Comelec gravely abused its discretion when it annulled Federico’s Maligaya filed his Petition to Annul Proclamation of Respondent
proclamation as the winning candidate on the ground that his substitution as mayoralty candidate was
void. Renato M. Federico

HELD: Meanwhile, Maligaya's petition to deny due course and to cancel the COC of Federico was denied by the
Comelec
No, the COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion. The Comelec is empowered by law to prescribe It gave due course to Federico's COC... which upheld Federico's substitution.
such rules so as to make efficacious and successful the conduct of the first national automated election.
RA 9369 which governs the conduct of automated elections specifically allows COMELEC to set deadlines Issues: Whether Federico could validly substitute Edna who withdrew her candidacy for the mayoralty
for the filing of certificates of candidacy etc. position... granting that Federico was disqualified, whether he should be succeeded by Intervenor Silva
under the LGC or replaced by Maligaya.
Under Sec. 15, “the Comelec, which has the constitutional mandate to enforce and administer all laws
Ruling:
and regulations relative to the conduct of an election,”
Federico's substitution of Edna Sanchez... as mayoralty candidate was not valid
In resolving that the deadline for all substitutions must be made on or before Dec. 15, 2009 pursuant to
Comelec Resolution No. 8678, COMELEC did not abuse its discretion. Comelec En Banc annulled Federico's proclamation as mayor... on the ground that his substitution of
Edna was invalid, the substitute COC and CONA having been filed after the... deadline... provided for
Thus, the substitution of Petitioner was made out of time and was thus void. under Section 13 of Comelec Resolution No. 8678.

"the Comelec, which has the constitutional mandate to enforce and administer all laws and regulations
relative to the conduct of an election,"... has been empowered to set the dates for certain pre-election
Wherefore, Maligaya pa rin si Maligaya.
proceedings. In the... exercise of such constitutional and legislated power, especially to safeguard and
improve on the Automated Election System (AES), Comelec came out with Resolution No. 8678.
Facts:
The substitute for a candidate who withdrew may file his certificate of candidacy as herein provided for
Edna Sanchez (Edna) and private respondent Osmundo M. Maligaya (Maligaya) were candidates for the
the office affected not later than December 14, 2009.
position of municipal mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas
Considering that the deadline for substitution in case of withdrawal had already lapsed, no person could
Armando Sanchez, husband of Edna and the gubernatorial candidate for the province of Batangas, died.
substitute her as mayoralty... candidate.
Two days later,... Edna withdrew her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the position of mayor. She then
filed a new The sudden death of then Governor Armando Sanchez and the substitution by his widow in the
gubernatorial race could not justify a belated substitution in the mayoralty race.
COC... for the position of governor as substitute candidate for her deceased husband.
the resolution was void as it lacked legal basis as Federico's substitution was invalid, his COC having been
petitioner Renato M. Federico (Federico) filed... his COC... as official candidate of the Nationalista Party
filed only on May 5, 2010, or after December 14, 2009, the deadline provided for under Section 13 of
and as substitute candidate for... mayor, in view of the withdrawal of Edna.
Comelec Resolution No. 8678
Maligaya filed his Petition to Deny Due Course and to Cancel Certificate of Candidacy... of Federico
Accordingly, the Court agrees with the OSG that Resolution No. 8889 was void as it was in contravention
before the Comelec
of the guidelines set forth under Resolution No. 8678. With respect to Federico, it cannot be regarded as
Maligaya sought to have Federico declared ineligible to run as substitute... candidate for Edna because a valid source of any right, like the right to be voted for public... office. Indeed, a void judgment can
the period to file the COC for substitute candidates had already lapsed never be final and executory and may be assailed at any time

COMELEC En Banc gave due course to the COC of Edna as substitute gubernatorial candidate in the "Where a proclamation is null and void, the proclamation is no proclamation at all and the proclaimed
Batangas province and to that of Federico as substitute mayoralty candidate in Sto. Tomas. candidate's assumption of office cannot deprive the Comelec of the power to declare such nullity and
annul the proclamation."
By that time, however, the official ballots had already been printed.
Without question, the votes garnered by Edna could not be credited to Federico as he was never a
on... the day of elections, the name "SANCHEZ, Edna P." was retained in the list of candidates for Mayor legitimate candidate.
of Sto. Tomas, and garnered the highest number of votes... against

Maligaya
81

FACTS: Pending resolution of the case, Vice-Mayor Armenius Silva (Intervenor Silva) of Sto. Tomas, Batangas,
filed his Motion for Leave to Intervene, praying essentially that as Federico failed to qualify, he should be
Edna Sanchez (Edna) and private respondent Osmundo M. Maligaya (Maligaya) were candidates for the adjudged as his legal successor as mayor, under the Local Government Code.
position of municipal mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, in the 2010 Elections.
ISSUES:
On April 27, 2010, Armando Sanchez, husband of Edna and the gubernatorial candidate for the province
of Batangas, died. Edna withdrew her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the position of mayor. She then Could Federico validly substitute Edna who withdrew her candidacy for the mayoralty position?
filed a new COC and a Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) for the position of governor as
substitute candidate for her deceased husband. Granting that Federico was disqualified, should he be succeeded by Intervenor Silva under the LGC or be
replaced by Maligaya?
On May 5, 2010, petitioner Renato M. Federico (Federico) filed with the Office of the Election Officer his
COC and CONA as official candidate of the Nationalista Party and as substitute candidate for mayor, in HELD:
view of the withdrawal of Edna.
The electoral commission committed no grave abuse of discretion. FIRST ISSUE: Federico’s substitution
Maligaya filed his Petition to Deny Due Course and to Cancel Certificate of Candidacy of Federico before of Edna Sanchez as mayoralty candidate was not valid. SECOND ISSUE: There being no valid substitution,
the Comelec. Maligaya sought to have Federico declared ineligible to run as substitute candidate for the candidate with the highest number of votes should be proclaimed as the duly elected mayor.
Edna since the period to file the COC for substitute candidates had already lapsed after December 14,
2009. Regarding the May 10, 2010 automated elections, the Comelec came out with Resolution No. 8678. On
substitution, Section 13 thereof provides, “the substitute for a candidate who withdrew may file his
The COMELEC En Banc gave due course to the COC of Edna as substitute gubernatorial candidate in the certificate of candidacy as herein provided for the office affected not later than December 14, 2009.”
Batangas province and to that of Federico as substitute mayoralty candidate.
In case of withdrawal, which is the situation at bench, the substitute should have filed a COC by
But the official ballots had already been printed. On the day of elections, the name “SANCHEZ, Edna P.” December 14, 2009.
was retained in the list of candidates for Mayor of Sto. Tomas, and garnered the highest number of votes
- 28,389 against Maligaya’s 22,577 votes. When Batangas Gov. Armando Sanchez died on April 27, 2010, Edna withdrew her candidacy as mayor
and substituted her late husband as gubernatorial candidate for the province on April 29, 2010. The
The Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBOC) proclaimed Edna as the winning mayoralty candidate. party actually had the option to substitute another candidate for Governor aside from Edna. By fielding
Maligaya filed his Petition to Annul Proclamation of Edna Sanchez. This petition was later withdrawn. Edna as their substitute candidate for Governor, the party knew that she had to withdraw her candidacy
for Mayor. Considering that the deadline for substitution in case of withdrawal had already lapsed, no
The MBOC credited the same number of votes garnered by Edna to Federico and proclaimed the latter as person could substitute her as mayoralty candidate. The sudden death of then Governor Sanchez and
the winning candidate. Maligaya filed his Petition to Annul Proclamation of Federico as mayor. the substitution by his widow in the gubernatorial race could not justify a belated substitution in the
mayoralty race.
Meanwhile, Maligaya’s petition to deny due course and to cancel the COC of Federico was denied by the
Comelec Second Division. The Comelec First Division denied Maligaya’s petition to annul the As Federico's substitution was not valid, there was only one qualified candidate in the mayoralty race in
proclamation of Federico for having been filed out of time. Sto. Tomas, Batangas - Maligaya. Being the only candidate, he received the highest number of votes.
Accordingly, he should be proclaimed as the duly elected mayor in the May 10, 2010 elections.
Maligaya elevated the matter to the Comelec En Banc. The Comelec En Banc issued the assailed
Resolution granting Maligaya’s partial motion for reconsideration. The Comelec En Banc was of the view Considering that Maligaya was the winner, the position of Intervenor Silva that he be considered the
that the annulment of Federico’s proclamation was in order because of his invalid substitution of Edna, legal successor of Federico, whom he claims failed to qualify, has no legal basis. There is simply no
as his substitute COC was filed beyond the deadline and due to the illegality of the proceedings of the vacancy. When there is no vacancy, the rule on succession under Section 44 of the LGC cannot be
MBOC in generating the second COCVP without authority from the Comelec and without notice to the invoked.
parties.
DENIED
Federico filed the present Petition for Certiorari before the Supreme Court.
82

EN BANC. NUMBER 12 ON SYLLABUS. Petitioner questions the inconsistencies noted by the court in the affidavit of her witnesses who, while
claiming that they personally know her to have been an actual and physical resident of Brgy. Tugas since
2008, declared in the same affidavit that while her house was being constructed, she used to stay at the
G.R. No. 193314 June 25, 2013
residence of Mrs. Lourdes Yap (Mrs. Yap) in Brgy. Punta Miray.

SVETLANA P. JALOSJOS, Petitioner,


The declaration of petitioner’s witnesses that they know petitioner to be "an actual and physical resident
vs.
of Brgy. Tugas since 2008" contradicts their statements that (1) they have "started the construction of
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, EDWIN ELIM TUPAG and RODOLFO Y. ESTRELLADA. Respondents.
the residential house of the owner and other infrastructures of the resort since January 2009"; (2) "until
the present (meaning until December 2009 when they executed their affidavit), the construction and
RESOLUTION development projects are still on-going"; and (3) "at times when Ms. Jalosjos is in Baliangao, she used to
stay in the house of Mrs. Lourdes Yap at Sitio Balas Diut, Brgy. Punta Miray, Baliangao, Misamis
SERENO, CJ.: Occidental, while her residential house was still being constructed."

This Resolution resolves the Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated 8 March 2013, filed by Edwin Elim Petitioner asserts that there are no inconsistencies in the statements of her witnesses, and that the
Tumpag and Rodolfo Y. Estrellada (private respondents) and the Motion for Reconsideration dated 27 statements are in fact consistent with her claim that she had been residing in Baliangao, Misamis
March 2013, filed by Svetlana P. Jalosjos (petitioner) in connection with the Decision of the Court Occidental for at least one year prior to the 10 May 2010 elections. She argues as follows:
promulgated on 26 February 2013.
x x x the fact that some of these witnesses knew that petitioner lived in the house of Mrs. Lourdes Yap in
Private respondents come before this Court on the sole issue of who between the vice-mayor and the a different barangay, particularly Brgy. Punta Miray, is not at all inconsistent or contradictory with
second placer shall assume office pursuant to the final determination of petitioner's ineligibility to run petitioner’s assertion and the witnesses’ statements that petitioner resides in Brgy. Tugas, because
for office and the lifting of the 07 September 20 1 0 Status Quo Order. petitioner obviously needed a place to stay while her residence in Brgy. Tugas was being constructed.
This does not negate the fact that petitioner was establishing her residence in Brgy. Tugas since the
latter part of 2008, or at the very latest during the first few months (sic) of January 2009.1
Petitioner, on the other hand, questions the Decision, by raising the following arguments:

Her assertion that she "was establishing her residence in Brgy. Tugas since the latter part of 2008, or at
1. This Court erred in concluding that there are inconsistencies in the Joint Affidavit of the the very latest during the first few months [sic] of January 2009" shows that she herself cannot pinpoint
witnesses presented by petitioner. the particular date when she established her legal residence in Brgy. Tugas. This fact is contradictory to
the declaration of the witnesses that "we have personal knowledge that Ms. Svetlana P. Jalosjos has
2. Petitioner’s stay in Brgy. Punta Miray should be considered in determining the one-year been an actual and physical resident of Sunrise Tugas, Baliangao, Misamis Occidental, after she bought
residency requirement in the same municipality. the properties thereat from the Heirs of Agapita Yap, Jr. on 9 December 2008."

3. Petitioner’s registration as a voter presupposes she has stayed in the municipality at least To be an actual and physical resident of a locality, one must have a dwelling place where one resides no
six months prior to the registration. matter how modest and regardless of ownership. The mere purchase of a parcel of land does not make it
one’s residence. The fact that the residential structure where petitioner intends to reside was still under
construction on the lot she purchased means that she has not yet established actual and physical
4. Petitioner’s certificate of candidacy (COC) should not be cancelled, absent any finding of a residence in the barangay, contrary to the declaration of her witnesses that she has been an actual and
deliberate attempt to deceive the electorate. physical resident of Brgy. Tugas since 2008.

5. COMELEC was ousted of its jurisdiction to decide on the question of the qualification of Petitioner wants this Court to believe that the ongoing construction referred to by her witnesses in their
petitioner after she was proclaimed as winner. joint affidavit does not refer to the residential structure, but to the other structures in the resort that
petitioner was then establishing. She does not assert, however, that her residential unit had already
We deny the motion of petitioner and grant the partial motion for reconsideration of private been completed by that time. In fact, she has failed to present any proof as to when her claimed
respondents. residential unit was completed, or when she transferred to the unit.

The claim of actual and physical residence in Brgy. Tugas since 2008 is contradicted by the statements It must be pointed out that the second statement in paragraph 1 of the Joint Affidavit states: "We have
that petitioner was staying in Mrs. Lourdes Yap’s house while her residential unit was being constructed; started the construction of the residential house of the owner and the other infrastructures of the resort
and that by December 2009, the construction was still ongoing. since January, 2009." This was immediately followed by paragraph 2 which reads:
83

2. Until the present, the construction and development projects are still ongoing. To establish the fact of In Sabili, the Court declared that "the existence of a house and lot apparently owned by petitioner’s
the on-going construction work, we are attaching herewith as part hereof, pictures we have taken on common-law wife, with whom he has been living for over two decades, makes plausible petitioner’s
December 20 and 29, 2009 marked Annexes "1", "2", "3", "4", "5", and "6" hereof, respectively.2 allegation of bodily presence and intent to reside in the area."7

Without any qualification as to what is being referred to by the construction and development projects Petitioner’s stay in the house of Mrs. Yap in Brgy. Punta Miray, on the other hand, was only a temporary
in paragraph 2, it follows that it refers to the "construction of the residential house of the owner and the and intermittent stay that does not amount to residence. It was never the intention of petitioner to
other infrastructures of the resort" found in the prior statement. reside in that barangay, as she only stayed there at times when she was in Baliangao while her house
was being constructed.8 Her temporary stay in Brgy. Punta Miray cannot be counted as residence in
Baliangao.
In the affidavit, there is no mention whatsoever of completion of the residential house as of 30
December 2009. Neither has any occupancy permit been presented by petitioner to definitely establish
the date she started occupying what she claims to be her residential unit in the resort. Petitioner failed to show by what right she stayed in Mrs. Yap’s house. Except for the declarations of her
witnesses that she stayed there while her residential unit in the resort was being built, she presented no
other evidence to show any basis of her right to stay in that particular house as a resident.
Petitioner takes pains to present photographs of other structures in the resort, but fails to present any
photograph of a completed residential structure, which is more relevant in proving her claimed
residence in Brgy. Tugas. If the residential unit was already completed by December 2009, her witnesses Approval of voter registration does not presuppose six-month residency in the place prior to registration.
could have easily testified to that fact and presented photographs of the structure.
It appears on record that petitioner, in filing her application for registration as a voter on 7 May 2009,
This absence of any photograph proving the alleged residence of petitioner in the resort bolsters the claimed "that she has been a resident of Brgy. Tugas, Baliangao, Misamis Occidental for six (6) months
court’s conclusion that at the time the witnesses signed their affidavits in December 2009, or six months prior to the filing of the said registration."9 For her claim to be true, she must have resided in Brgy. Tugas
prior to the May 2010 elections, her residential unit had not yet been built. on or before 8 November 2008. The records, however, show that she purchased property in Brgy. Tugas
only on December 2008. Thus, her claim that she had been a resident of Brgy. Tugas for at least six (6)
months prior to her application for registration as a voter on 7 May 2009 is an utter falsity.
A temporary stay in a stranger’s house cannot amount to residence.

The approval of the registration of petitioner as a voter does not and cannot carry with it an affirmation
Petitioner wants this Court to credit her stay in Mrs. Yap’s house as proof that she had been a resident of
of the falsehood and misrepresentation as to the period of her residence in Brgy. Tugas. At best, the
the Municipality of Baliangao for more than one year prior to the 10 May 2010 elections. In her words:
approval of her registration as a voter carries a presumption that the registrant will be able to meet the
six-month residency requirement for the elections in which the registrant intends to vote.10 It does not
7. More importantly, if this Honorable Court would consider the circumstance that petitioner was staying prove that the registrant has resided in the locality for more than one year prior to the elections.
in Brgy. Punta Miray as true so as to render the statements of her witnesses inconsistent, then such a
consideration should not have led this Honorable Court to the conclusion that petitioner was not a
Representation that one is qualified to run for public office when proven false constitutes a deliberate
resident of Baliangao, Misamis Occidental since Brgy. Punta Miray is located in the municipality of
attempt to deceive the electorate.
Baliangao like Brgy. Tugas. In other words, the fact that petitioner was staying in a house in Brgy. Punta
Miray while her residence in Brgy. Tugas was being constructed during the early part of 2009 would STILL
LEAD to the conclusion that petitioner has been residing in Baliangao, Misamis Occidental for at least Petitioner contends that the Court erred in upholding the cancellation of her COC despite the glaring
one (1) year prior to the 10 May 2010 elections since Brgy. Punta Miray is a part of Baliangao.3 (Emphasis absence of any finding made by the respondent COMELEC in its assailed Resolution that petitioner
in the original and underscoring omitted) committed a false material representation in said COC.

Petitioner relies on Mitra v. COMELEC4 and Sabili v. COMELEC5 in claiming that "the series of events The finding of the COMELEC that petitioner lacks the one year residency requirement to run for local
whereby petitioner first had her residence constructed ... after she purchased in 2008 the property elective position in the municipality of Baliangao directly contradicts her sworn declaration that she is
where her residence was eventually established, and while she lived in another barangay of the same eligible to run for public office. The fact that petitioner failed to prove that she has been a resident of the
municipality, and then eventually moved in to her residence in Brgy. Tugas amounted to an ‘incremental locality for at least one year prior to the elections reveals the falsity of her assertion in her COC that she
process’ of transferring residence." is qualified to run for a local elective position. This false material representation justifies the cancellation
of her COC.
Petitioner’s case must be differentiated from Mitra in that petitioner therein presented not only the
notarized lease contract over the property where he claimed to be residing, but also "a residence When the candidate’s claim of eligibility is proven false, as when the candidate failed to substantiate
certificate ... and an identification card of the House of Representatives showing Aborlan as his meeting the required residency in the locality, the representation of eligibility in the COC constitutes a
residence."6 "deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide the fact"11 of ineligibility.
84

COMELEC is not ousted of jurisdiction to decide a petition for cancellation of the certificate of candidacy candidacy was never a candidate in the elections at any time. All votes for such non-candidate are stray
after the winner is proclaimed. votes and should not be counted. Thus, such non-candidate can never be a first-placer in the elections. If
a certificate of candidacy void ab initio is cancelled on the day, or before the day, of the election,
prevailing jurisprudence holds that all votes for that candidate are stray votes. If a certificate of
The COMELEC, in its Resolution dated 19 August 2010, citing Aquino v. COMELEC,12 has amply discussed
candidacy void ab initio is cancelled one day or more after the elections, all votes for such candidate
this matter, thus:
should also be stray votes because the certificate of candidacy is void from the very beginning.17 x x x.
(Citations omitted)
Petitioner’s contention that "after the conduct of the election and (petitioner) has been established the
winner of the electoral exercise from the moment of election, the COMELEC is automatically divested of
There is another more compelling reason why the eligible candidate who garnered the highest number
authority to pass upon the question of qualification" finds no basis in law, because even after the
of votes must assume the office. The ineligible candidate who was proclaimed and who already assumed
elections the COMELEC is empowered by Section 6 (in relation to Section 7) of R.A. 6646 to continue to
office is a de facto officer by virtue of the ineligibility.
hear and decide questions relating to qualifications of candidates. Section 6 states:

The rule on succession in Section 44 of the Local Government Code18 cannot apply in instances when a
SECTION 6. Effect of Disqualification Case. – Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to
de facto officer is ousted from office and the de jure officer takes over. The ouster of a de facto officer
be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. If for any reason a
cannot create a permanent vacancy as contemplated in the Local Government Code. There is no vacancy
candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is voted for and
to speak of as the de jure officer, the rightful winner in the elections, has the legal right to assume the
receives the winning number of votes in such election, the Court or Commission shall continue with the
position.
trial and hearing of the action, inquiry or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any intervenor,
may during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever
the evidence of guilt is strong. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated 08 March 2013 is
hereby GRANTED. Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration dated 27 March 2013 is hereby DENIED with
FINALITY. AGNE V. YAP, SR. is hereby declared the duly elected Mayor of the Municipality of Baliangao,
Under the above-quoted provision, not only is a disqualification case against a candidate allowed to
Misamis Occidental in the 10 May 2010 elections. This resolution is immediately executory.
continue after the election (and does not oust the COMELEC of its jurisdiction), but his obtaining the
highest number of votes will not result in the suspension or termination of the proceedings against him
when the evidence of guilt is strong. While the phrase "when the evidence of guilt is strong" seems to SO ORDERED.
suggest that the provisions of Section 6 ought to be applicable only to disqualification cases under
Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, Section 7 of R.A. 6646 allows the application of the provisions
of Section 6 to cases involving disqualification based on ineligibility under Section 78 of B.P. 881. Section
7 states:

SECTION 7. Petition to Deny Due Course or to Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy.1âwphi1 – The procedure
hereinabove provided shall apply to petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy
based on Sec. 78 of Batas Pambansa 881.13

The cancellation of the certificate of candidacy of an ineligible candidate who has assumed office renders
the officer a de facto officer.

This Court has ruled in Aratea v. COMELEC14 and Jalosjos, Jr. v. COMELEC15 that the cancellation of the
COC based on an ineligibility that existed at the time of its filing means that the candidate was never a
valid candidate from the very beginning.16

On the question of who should assume the post vacated by the ineligible candidate, this Court amply
explained in Jalosjos, Jr. that:

Decisions of this Court holding that the second-placer cannot be proclaimed winner if the first-placer is
disqualified or declared ineligible should be limited to situations where the certificate of candidacy of the
first placer was valid at the time of filing but subsequently had to be cancelled because of a violation of
law that took place, or a legal impediment that took effect, after the filing of the certificate of candidacy.
If the certificate of candidacy is void ab initio, then legally the person who filed such void certificate of
85

EN BANC. NO. 7 IN SYLLABUS


rendered a decision, denying the petition.[5] On appeal,[6] the Regional Trial Court (RTC) affirmed the
MCTC decision. The RTC decision became final and executory.
ROMMEL APOLINARIO G.R. No. 191970
JALOSJOS,
Petitioner, On November 28, 2009 Jalosjos filed his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for Governor of Zamboanga
- versus -
Sibugay Province for the May 10, 2010 elections. Erasmo promptly filed a petition to deny due course or
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
and DAN ERASMO, SR., to cancel Jalosjos COC[7] on the ground that the latter made material misrepresentation in the same since
Respondents. he failed to comply with (1) the requirements of R.A. 9225 and (2) the one-year residency requirement of
Promulgated: the Local Government Code.
April 24, 2012
DECISION
After hearing, the Second Division of the COMELEC ruled that, while Jalosjos had regained Philippine
ABAD, J.: citizenship by complying with the requirements of R.A. 9225, he failed to prove the residency
requirement for a gubernatorial candidate. He failed to present ample proof of a bona fide intention to

This case is about the proof required to establish the domicile of a reinstated Filipino citizen who seeks establish his domicile in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. On motion for reconsideration, the COMELEC En Banc

election as governor of a province. affirmed the Second Divisions decision, ruling that Jalosjos had been a mere guest or transient visitor in
his brothers house and, for this reason, he cannot claim Ipil as his domicile.

The Facts and the Case


Acting on Jalosjos prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, the Court resolved on May 7,

Petitioner Rommel Jalosjos was born in Quezon City on October 26, 1973. He migrated to Australia in 2010 to issue a status quo ante order, enjoining the COMELEC from enforcing its February 11, 2010

1981 when he was eight years old and there acquired Australian citizenship. On November 22, 2008, at decision pending further orders. Meanwhile, Jolosjos won the election and was proclaimed winner of the

age 35, he decided to return to the Philippines and lived with his brother, Romeo, Jr., in Barangay 2010 gubernatorial race in the Provinceof Zamboanga Sibugay.[8]

Veterans Village, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. Four days upon his return, he took an oath of allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines, resulting in his being issued a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine The Issue Presented

Citizenship by the Bureau of Immigration.[1] On September 1, 2009 he renounced his Australian


citizenship, executing a sworn renunciation of the same[2] in compliance with Republic Act (R.A.) 9225.[3] The sole issue presented in this case is whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ruling that Jalosjos failed to present ample proof of a bona

From the time of his return, Jalosjos acquired a residential property in the same village where he lived fide intention to establish his domicile in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

and a fishpond in San Isidro, Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. He applied for registration as a voter in
the Municipality of Ipil but respondent Dan Erasmo, Sr., the Barangay Captain of Barangay Veterans The Courts Ruling

Village, opposed the same. Acting on the application, the Election Registration Board approved it and
included Jalosjos name in the Commission on Elections (COMELECs) voters list for Precinct 0051F The Local Government Code requires a candidate seeking the position of provincial governor to be a

of BarangayVeterans Village, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.[4] resident of the province for at least one year before the election.[9] For purposes of the election laws, the
requirement of residence is synonymous with domicile,[10] meaning that a person must not only intend to

Undaunted, Erasmo filed before the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Ipil-Tungawan-R.T. Lim in reside in a particular place but must also have personal presence in such place coupled with conduct

Ipil a petition for the exclusion of Jalosjos name from the official voters list. After hearing, the MCTC indicative of such intention.[11]
86

There is no hard and fast rule to determine a candidates compliance with residency requirement since own the house where he lives would make property a qualification for public office. What matters is that
the question of residence is a question of intention.[12] Still, jurisprudence has laid down the following Jalosjos has proved two things: actual physical presence in Ipil and an intention of making it his domicile.
guidelines: (a) every person has a domicile or residence somewhere; (b) where once established, that
domicile remains until he acquires a new one; and (c) a person can have but one domicile at a time.[13] Jalosjos presented the affidavits of next-door neighbors, attesting to his physical presence at his
residence in Ipil. These adjoining neighbors are no doubt more credible since they have a better chance
It is inevitable under these guidelines and the precedents applying them that Jalosjos has met the of noting his presence or absence than his other neighbors, whose affidavits Erasmo presented, who just
residency requirement for provincial governor of Zamboanga Sibugay. sporadically passed by the subject residence. Further, it is not disputed that Jalosjos bought a residential
lot in the same village where he lived and a fish pond in San Isidro, Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. He
One. The COMELEC appears hasty in concluding that Jalosjos failed to prove that he successfully changed showed correspondences with political leaders, including local and national party-mates, from where he
his domicile to Zamboanga Sibugay. The COMELEC points out that, since he was unable to discharge the lived. Moreover, Jalosjos is a registered voter of Ipil by final judgment of the Regional Trial Court of
burden of proving Zamboanga Sibugay to be his rightful domicile, it must be assumed that his domicile is Zamboanga Sibugay.
either Quezon City or Australia.
Three. While the Court ordinarily respects the factual findings of administrative bodies like the
But it is clear from the facts that Quezon City was Jalosjos domicile of origin, the place of his birth. It may COMELEC, this does not prevent it from exercising its review powers to correct palpable misappreciation
be taken for granted that he effectively changed his domicile from Quezon City to Australia when he of evidence or wrong or irrelevant considerations.[16] The evidence Jalosjos presented is sufficient to
migrated there at the age of eight, acquired Australian citizenship, and lived in that country for 26 establish Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, as his domicile. The COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in holding
years. Australia became his domicile by operation of law and by choice.[14] otherwise.

On the other hand, when he came to the Philippines in November 2008 to live with his Four. Jalosjos won and was proclaimed winner in the 2010 gubernatorial race for Zamboanga
brother in Zamboanga Sibugay, it is evident that Jalosjos did so with intent to change his domicile for Sibugay. The Court will respect the decision of the people of that province and resolve all doubts
good. He left Australia, gave up his Australian citizenship, and renounced his allegiance to that regarding his qualification in his favor to breathe life to their manifest will.
country. In addition, he reacquired his old citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of
the Philippines, resulting in his being issued a Certificate of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by the WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition and SETS ASIDE the Resolution of the COMELEC Second
Bureau of Immigration.By his acts, Jalosjos forfeited his legal right to live in Australia, clearly proving that Division dated February 11, 2010 and the Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc dated May 4, 2010 that
he gave up his domicile there. And he has since lived nowhere else except in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. disqualified petitioner Rommel Jalosjos from seeking election as Governor of Zamboanga Sibugay.

To hold that Jalosjos has not establish a new domicile in Zamboanga Sibugay despite the loss SO ORDERED.
of his domicile of origin (Quezon City) and his domicile of choice and by operation of law (Australia)
would violate the settled maxim that a man must have a domicile or residence somewhere.
Two. The COMELEC concluded that Jalosjos has not come to settle his domicile in Ipil since he
has merely been staying at his brothers house. But this circumstance alone cannot support such
conclusion. Indeed, the Court has repeatedly held that a candidate is not required to have a house in a
community to establish his residence or domicile in a particular place. It is sufficient that he should live
there even if it be in a rented house or in the house of a friend or relative. [15] To insist that the candidate
87

EN BANC On 30 November 2009, Arnado filed his Certificate of Candidacy for Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del
Norte, which contains, among others, the following statements:
G.R. No. 195649 April 16, 2013
I am a natural born Filipino citizen / naturalized Filipino citizen.
CASAN MACODE MAQUILING, Petitioner,
vs. I am not a permanent resident of, or immigrant to, a foreign country.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ROMMEL ARNADO y CAGOCO, LINOG G. BALUA, Respondents.
I am eligible for the office I seek to be elected to.
DECISION
I will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and will maintain true faith
SERENO, CJ.: and allegiance thereto. I will obey the laws, legal orders and decrees promulgated by the duly
constituted authorities.
THE CASE
I impose this obligation upon myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.8
This is a Petition for Certiorari ender Rule 64 in conjunction with Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to review
the Resolutions of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). The Resolution1 in SPA No. 10-1 09(DC) of On 28 April 2010, respondent Linog C. Balua (Balua), another mayoralty candidate, filed a petition to
the COMELEC First Division dated 5 October 201 0 is being assailed for applying Section 44 of the Local disqualify Arnado and/or to cancel his certificate of candidacy for municipal mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao
Government Code while the Resolution2 of the COMELEC En Banc dated 2 February 2011 is being del Norte in connection with the 10 May 2010 local and national elections.9
questioned for finding that respondent Rommel Arnado y Cagoco (respondent Arnado/Arnado) is solely
a Filipino citizen qualified to run for public office despite his continued use of a U.S. passport.
Respondent Balua contended that Arnado is not a resident of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and that he is
a foreigner, attaching thereto a certification issued by the Bureau of Immigration dated 23 April 2010
FACTS indicating the nationality of Arnado as "USA-American."10To further bolster his claim of Arnado’s US
citizenship, Balua presented in his Memorandum a computer-generated travel record11 dated 03
December 2009 indicating that Arnado has been using his US Passport No. 057782700 in entering and
Respondent Arnado is a natural born Filipino citizen.3 However, as a consequence of his subsequent
departing the Philippines. The said record shows that Arnado left the country on 14 April 2009 and
naturalization as a citizen of the United States of America, he lost his Filipino citizenship. Arnado applied
returned on 25 June 2009, and again departed on 29 July 2009, arriving back in the Philippines on 24
for repatriation under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 before the Consulate General of the Philippines in San
November 2009.
Franciso, USA and took the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on 10 July 2008.4 On the
same day an Order of Approval of his Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition was issued in his favor.5
Balua likewise presented a certification from the Bureau of Immigration dated 23 April 2010, certifying
that the name "Arnado, Rommel Cagoco" appears in the available Computer Database/Passenger
The aforementioned Oath of Allegiance states:
manifest/IBM listing on file as of 21 April 2010, with the following pertinent travel records:

I, Rommel Cagoco Arnado, solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the
DATE OF Arrival : 01/12/2010
Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted
authorities of the Philippines and I hereby declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of
the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; and that I impose this obligation upon NATIONALITY : USA-AMERICAN
myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.6
PASSPORT : 057782700
On 3 April 2009 Arnado again took his Oath of Allegiance to the Republic and executed an Affidavit of
Renunciation of his foreign citizenship, which states:
DATE OF Arrival : 03/23/2010

I, Rommel Cagoco Arnado, do solemnly swear that I absolutely and perpetually renounce all allegiance
NATIONALITY : USA-AMERICAN
and fidelity to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA of which I am a citizen, and I divest myself of full
employment of all civil and political rights and privileges of the United States of America.
PASSPORT : 05778270012
I solemnly swear that all the foregoing statement is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and
belief.7 On 30 April 2010, the COMELEC (First Division) issued an Order13 requiring the respondent to personally
file his answer and memorandum within three (3) days from receipt thereof.
88

After Arnado failed to answer the petition, Balua moved to declare him in default and to present for office. We cannot turn a blind eye to the glaring inconsistency between Arnado’s unexplained use of
evidence ex-parte. a US passport six times and his claim that he re-acquired his Philippine citizenship and renounced his US
citizenship. As noted by the Supreme Court in the Yu case, "a passport is defined as an official document
of identity and nationality issued to a person intending to travel or sojourn in foreign countries." Surely,
Neither motion was acted upon, having been overtaken by the 2010 elections where Arnado garnered
one who truly divested himself of US citizenship would not continue to avail of privileges reserved solely
the highest number of votes and was subsequently proclaimed as the winning candidate for Mayor of
for US nationals.19
Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.

The dispositive portion of the Resolution rendered by the COMELEC


It was only after his proclamation that Arnado filed his verified answer, submitting the following
documents as evidence:14
First Division reads:
1. Affidavit of Renunciation and Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines dated 03
April 2009; WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for disqualification and/or to cancel the certificate of
candidacy of Rommel C. Arnado is hereby GRANTED. Rommel C. Arnado’s proclamation as the winning
candidate for Municipal Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Nore is hereby ANNULLED. Let the order of
2. Joint-Affidavit dated 31 May 2010 of Engr. Virgil Seno, Virginia Branzuela, Leoncio Daligdig,
succession under Section 44 of the Local Government Code of 1991 take effect.20
and Jessy Corpin, all neighbors of Arnado, attesting that Arnado is a long-time resident of
Kauswagan and that he has been conspicuously and continuously residing in his family’s
ancestral house in Kauswagan; The Motion for Reconsideration and
the Motion for Intervention
3. Certification from the Punong Barangay of Poblacion, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte dated 03
June 2010 stating that Arnado is a bona fide resident of his barangay and that Arnado went to Arnado sought reconsideration of the resolution before the COMELEC En Banc on the ground that "the
the United States in 1985 to work and returned to the Philippines in 2009; evidence is insufficient to justify the Resolution and that the said Resolution is contrary to law."21 He
raised the following contentions:22
4. Certification dated 31 May 2010 from the Municipal Local Government Operations Office of
Kauswagan stating that Dr. Maximo P. Arnado, Sr. served as Mayor of Kauswagan, from 1. The finding that he is not a Filipino citizen is not supported by the evidence consisting of his
January 1964 to June 1974 and from 15 February 1979 to 15 April 1986; and Oath of Allegiance and the Affidavit of Renunciation, which show that he has substantially
complied with the requirements of R.A. No. 9225;
5. Voter Certification issued by the Election Officer of Kauswagan certifying that Arnado has
been a registered voter of Kauswagan since 03 April 2009. 2. The use of his US passport subsequent to his renunciation of his American citizenship is not
tantamount to a repudiation of his Filipino citizenship, as he did not perform any act to swear
allegiance to a country other than the Philippines;
THE RULING OF THE COMELEC FIRST DIVISION

3. He used his US passport only because he was not informed of the issuance of his Philippine
Instead of treating the Petition as an action for the cancellation of a certificate of candidacy based on
passport, and that he used his Philippine passport after he obtained it;
misrepresentation,15 the COMELEC First Division considered it as one for disqualification. Balua’s
contention that Arnado is a resident of the United States was dismissed upon the finding that "Balua
failed to present any evidence to support his contention,"16 whereas the First Division still could "not 4. Balua’s petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Arnado was filed out of time, and
conclude that Arnado failed to meet the one-year residency requirement under the Local Government the First Division’s treatment of the petition as one for disqualification constitutes grave
Code."17 abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction;23

In the matter of the issue of citizenship, however, the First Division disagreed with Arnado’s claim that 5. He is undoubtedly the people’s choice as indicated by his winning the elections;
he is a Filipino citizen.18
6. His proclamation as the winning candidate ousted the COMELEC from jurisdiction over the
We find that although Arnado appears to have substantially complied with the requirements of R.A. No. case; and
9225, Arnado’s act of consistently using his US passport after renouncing his US citizenship on 03 April
2009 effectively negated his Affidavit of Renunciation.
7. The proper remedy to question his citizenship is through a petition for quo warranto, which
should have been filed within ten days from his proclamation.
Arnado’s continued use of his US passport is a strong indication that Arnado had no real intention to
renounce his US citizenship and that he only executed an Affidavit of Renunciation to enable him to run
89

Petitioner Casan Macode Maquiling (Maquiling), another candidate for mayor of Kauswagan, and who abroad and then decided to repatriate to supposedly help in the progress of Kauswagan. He did not
garnered the second highest number of votes in the 2010 elections, intervened in the case and filed apply for a US passport after his renunciation. Thus the mentioned case is not on all fours with the case
before the COMELEC En Banc a Motion for Reconsideration together with an Opposition to Arnado’s at bar.
Amended Motion for Reconsideration. Maquiling argued that while the First Division correctly
disqualified Arnado, the order of succession under Section 44 of the Local Government Code is not
The respondent presented a plausible explanation as to the use of his US passport. Although he applied
applicable in this case. Consequently, he claimed that the cancellation of Arnado’s candidacy and the
for a Philippine passport, the passport was only issued on June 18, 2009. However, he was not notified of
nullification of his proclamation, Maquiling, as the legitimate candidate who obtained the highest
the issuance of his Philippine passport so that he was actually able to get it about three (3) months later.
number of lawful votes, should be proclaimed as the winner.
Yet as soon as he was in possession of his Philippine passport, the respondent already used the same in
his subsequent travels abroad. This fact is proven by the respondent’s submission of a certified true copy
Maquiling simultaneously filed his Memorandum with his Motion for Intervention and his Motion for of his passport showing that he used the same for his travels on the following dates: January 31, 2010,
Reconsideration. Arnado opposed all motions filed by Maquiling, claiming that intervention is prohibited April 16, 2010, May 20, 2010, January 12, 2010, March 31, 2010 and June 4, 2010. This then shows that
after a decision has already been rendered, and that as a second-placer, Maquiling undoubtedly lost the the use of the US passport was because to his knowledge, his Philippine passport was not yet issued to
elections and thus does not stand to be prejudiced or benefitted by the final adjudication of the case. him for his use. As probably pressing needs might be undertaken, the respondent used whatever is
within his control during that time.25
RULING OF THE COMELEC EN BANC
In his Separate Concurring Opinion, COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes cited that the use of foreign
passport is not one of the grounds provided for under Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 63 through
In its Resolution of 02 February 2011, the COMELEC En Banc held that under Section 6 of Republic Act
which Philippine citizenship may be lost.
No. 6646, the Commission "shall continue with the trial and hearing of the action, inquiry or protest even
after the proclamation of the candidate whose qualifications for office is questioned."
"The application of the more assimilative principle of continuity of citizenship is more appropriate in this
case. Under said principle, once a person becomes a citizen, either by birth or naturalization, it is
As to Maquiling’s intervention, the COMELEC En Banc also cited Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 which allows
assumed that he desires to continue to be a citizen, and this assumption stands until he voluntarily
intervention in proceedings for disqualification even after elections if no final judgment has been
denationalizes or expatriates himself. Thus, in the instant case respondent after reacquiring his
rendered, but went on further to say that Maquiling, as the second placer, would not be prejudiced by
Philippine citizenship should be presumed to have remained a Filipino despite his use of his American
the outcome of the case as it agrees with the dispositive portion of the Resolution of the First Division
passport in the absence of clear, unequivocal and competent proof of expatriation. Accordingly, all
allowing the order of succession under Section 44 of the Local Government Code to take effect.
doubts should be resolved in favor of retention of citizenship."26

The COMELEC En Banc agreed with the treatment by the First Division of the petition as one for
On the other hand, Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento dissented, thus:
disqualification, and ruled that the petition was filed well within the period prescribed by law,24 having
been filed on 28 April 2010, which is not later than 11 May 2010, the date of proclamation.
Respondent evidently failed to prove that he truly and wholeheartedly abandoned his allegiance to the
United States. The latter’s continued use of his US passport and enjoyment of all the privileges of a US
However, the COMELEC En Banc reversed and set aside the ruling of the First Division and granted
citizen despite his previous renunciation of the afore-mentioned citizenship runs contrary to his
Arnado’s Motion for Reconsideration, on the following premises:
declaration that he chose to retain only his Philippine citizenship. Respondent’s submission with the twin
requirements was obviously only for the purpose of complying with the requirements for running for the
First: mayoralty post in connection with the May 10, 2010 Automated National and Local Elections.

By renouncing his US citizenship as imposed by R.A. No. 9225, the respondent embraced his Philippine Qualifications for elective office, such as citizenship, are continuing requirements; once any of them is
citizenship as though he never became a citizen of another country. It was at that time, April 3, 2009, lost during his incumbency, title to the office itself is deemed forfeited. If a candidate is not a citizen at
that the respondent became a pure Philippine Citizen again. the time he ran for office or if he lost his citizenship after his election to office, he is disqualified to serve
as such. Neither does the fact that respondent obtained the plurality of votes for the mayoralty post cure
The use of a US passport … does not operate to revert back his status as a dual citizen prior to his the latter’s failure to comply with the qualification requirements regarding his citizenship.
renunciation as there is no law saying such. More succinctly, the use of a US passport does not operate
to "un-renounce" what he has earlier on renounced. The First Division’s reliance in the case of In Re: Since a disqualified candidate is no candidate at all in the eyes of the law, his having received the highest
Petition for Habeas Corpus of Willy Yu v. Defensor-Santiago, et al. is misplaced. The petitioner in the said number of votes does not validate his election. It has been held that where a petition for disqualification
case is a naturalized citizen who, after taking his oath as a naturalized Filipino, applied for the renewal of was filed before election against a candidate but was adversely resolved against him after election, his
his Portuguese passport. Strict policy is maintained in the conduct of citizens who are not natural born, having obtained the highest number of votes did not make his election valid. His ouster from office does
who acquire their citizenship by choice, thus discarding their original citizenship. The Philippine State not violate the principle of vox populi suprema est lex because the application of the constitutional and
expects strict conduct of allegiance to those who choose to be its citizens. In the present case, statutory provisions on disqualification is not a matter of popularity. To apply it is to breath[e] life to the
respondent is not a naturalized citizen but a natural born citizen who chose greener pastures by working
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sovereign will of the people who expressed it when they ratified the Constitution and when they elected It must be emphasized that while the original petition before the COMELEC is one for cancellation of the
their representatives who enacted the law.27 certificate of candidacy and / or disqualification, the COMELEC First Division and the COMELEC En Banc
correctly treated the petition as one for disqualification.
THE PETITION BEFORE THE COURT
The effect of a disqualification case is enunciated in Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646:
Maquiling filed the instant petition questioning the propriety of declaring Arnado qualified to run for
public office despite his continued use of a US passport, and praying that Maquiling be proclaimed as the Sec. 6. Effect of Disqualification Case. - Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be
winner in the 2010 mayoralty race in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. 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, the Court or Commission shall continue with the
Ascribing both grave abuse of discretion and reversible error on the part of the COMELEC En Banc for
trial and hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any
ruling that Arnado is a Filipino citizen despite his continued use of a US passport, Maquiling now seeks to
intervenor, may during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such
reverse the finding of the COMELEC En Banc that Arnado is qualified to run for public office.
candidate whenever the evidence of his guilt is strong.

Corollary to his plea to reverse the ruling of the COMELEC En Banc or to affirm the First Division’s
Mercado v. Manzano28
disqualification of Arnado, Maquiling also seeks the review of the applicability of Section 44 of the Local
Government Code, claiming that the COMELEC committed reversible error in ruling that "the succession
of the vice mayor in case the respondent is disqualified is in order." clarified the right of intervention in a disqualification case. In that case, the Court said:

There are three questions posed by the parties before this Court which will be addressed seriatim as the That petitioner had a right to intervene at that stage of the proceedings for the disqualification against
subsequent questions hinge on the result of the first. private respondent is clear from Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646, otherwise known as the Electoral Reforms
Law of 1987, which provides: 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. If for any reason a candidate is
The first question is whether or not intervention is allowed in a disqualification case.
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, the Court or Commission shall continue with the trial and
The second question is whether or not the use of a foreign passport after renouncing foreign citizenship hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any intervenor, may
amounts to undoing a renunciation earlier made. during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the
evidence of guilt is strong. Under this provision, intervention may be allowed in proceedings for
A better framing of the question though should be whether or not the use of a foreign passport after disqualification even after election if there has yet been no final judgment rendered.29
renouncing foreign citizenship affects one’s qualifications to run for public office.
Clearly then, Maquiling has the right to intervene in the case. The fact that the COMELEC En Banc has
The third question is whether or not the rule on succession in the Local Government Code is applicable already ruled that Maquiling has not shown that the requisites for the exemption to the second-placer
to this case. rule set forth in Sinsuat v. COMELEC30 are present and therefore would not be prejudiced by the
outcome of the case, does not deprive Maquiling of the right to elevate the matter before this Court.

OUR RULING
Arnado’s claim that the main case has attained finality as the original petitioner and respondents therein
have not appealed the decision of the COMELEC En Banc, cannot be sustained. The elevation of the case
Intervention of a rival candidate in a disqualification case is proper when there has not yet been any by the intervenor prevents it from attaining finality. It is only after this Court has ruled upon the issues
proclamation of the winner. raised in this instant petition that the disqualification case originally filed by Balua against Arnado will
attain finality.
Petitioner Casan Macode Maquiling intervened at the stage when respondent Arnado filed a Motion for
Reconsideration of the First Division Resolution before the COMELEC En Banc. As the candidate who The use of foreign passport after renouncing one’s foreign citizenship is a positive and voluntary act of
garnered the second highest number of votes, Maquiling contends that he has an interest in the representation as to one’s nationality and citizenship; it does not divest Filipino citizenship regained by
disqualification case filed against Arnado, considering that in the event the latter is disqualified, the repatriation but it recants the Oath of Renunciation required to qualify one to run for an elective
votes cast for him should be considered stray and the second-placer should be proclaimed as the winner position.
in the elections.

Section 5(2) of The Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003 provides:
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Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political Mercado v. Manzano34 already hinted at this situation when the Court declared:
rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines
and the following conditions:
His declarations will be taken upon the faith that he will fulfill his undertaking made under oath. Should
he betray that trust, there are enough sanctions for declaring the loss of his Philippine citizenship
(2)Those seeking elective public in the Philippines shall meet the qualification for holding such public through expatriation in appropriate proceedings. In Yu v. Defensor-Santiago, we sustained the denial of
office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the certificate of entry into the country of petitioner on the ground that, after taking his oath as a naturalized citizen, he
candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign before any public officer applied for the renewal of his Portuguese passport and declared in commercial documents executed
authorized to administer an oath. abroad that he was a Portuguese national. A similar sanction can be taken against anyone who, in
electing Philippine citizenship, renounces his foreign nationality, but subsequently does some act
constituting renunciation of his Philippine citizenship.
Rommel Arnado took all the necessary steps to qualify to run for a public office. He took the Oath of
Allegiance and renounced his foreign citizenship. There is no question that after performing these twin
requirements required under Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re- While the act of using a foreign passport is not one of the acts enumerated in Commonwealth Act No. 63
acquisition Act of 2003, he became eligible to run for public office. constituting renunciation and loss of Philippine citizenship,35 it is nevertheless an act which repudiates
the very oath of renunciation required for a former Filipino citizen who is also a citizen of another
country to be qualified to run for a local elective position.
Indeed, Arnado took the Oath of Allegiance not just only once but twice: first, on 10 July 2008 when he
applied for repatriation before the Consulate General of the Philippines in San Francisco, USA, and again
on 03 April 2009 simultaneous with the execution of his Affidavit of Renunciation. By taking the Oath of When Arnado used his US passport on 14 April 2009, or just eleven days after he renounced his
Allegiance to the Republic, Arnado re-acquired his Philippine citizenship. At the time, however, he American citizenship, he recanted his Oath of Renunciation36 that he "absolutely and perpetually
likewise possessed American citizenship. Arnado had therefore become a dual citizen. renounce(s) all allegiance and fidelity to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"37 and that he "divest(s)
himself of full employment of all civil and political rights and privileges of the United States of
America."38
After reacquiring his Philippine citizenship, Arnado renounced his American citizenship by executing an
Affidavit of Renunciation, thus completing the requirements for eligibility to run for public office.
We agree with the COMELEC En Banc that such act of using a foreign passport does not divest Arnado of
his Filipino citizenship, which he acquired by repatriation. However, by representing himself as an
By renouncing his foreign citizenship, he was deemed to be solely a Filipino citizen, regardless of the
American citizen, Arnado voluntarily and effectively reverted to his earlier status as a dual citizen. Such
effect of such renunciation under the laws of the foreign country.32
reversion was not retroactive; it took place the instant Arnado represented himself as an American
citizen by using his US passport.
However, this legal presumption does not operate permanently and is open to attack when, after
renouncing the foreign citizenship, the citizen performs positive acts showing his continued possession
This act of using a foreign passport after renouncing one’s foreign citizenship is fatal to Arnado’s bid for
of a foreign citizenship.33
public office, as it effectively imposed on him a disqualification to run for an elective local position.

Arnado himself subjected the issue of his citizenship to attack when, after renouncing his foreign
Arnado’s category of dual citizenship is that by which foreign citizenship is acquired through a positive
citizenship, he continued to use his US passport to travel in and out of the country before filing his
act of applying for naturalization. This is distinct from those considered dual citizens by virtue of birth,
certificate of candidacy on 30 November 2009. The pivotal question to determine is whether he was
who are not required by law to take the oath of renunciation as the mere filing of the certificate of
solely and exclusively a Filipino citizen at the time he filed his certificate of candidacy, thereby rendering
candidacy already carries with it an implied renunciation of foreign citizenship.39 Dual citizens by
him eligible to run for public office.
naturalization, on the other hand, are required to take not only the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of
the Philippines but also to personally renounce foreign citizenship in order to qualify as a candidate for
Between 03 April 2009, the date he renounced his foreign citizenship, and 30 November 2009, the date public office.
he filed his COC, he used his US passport four times, actions that run counter to the affidavit of
renunciation he had earlier executed. By using his foreign passport, Arnado positively and voluntarily
By the time he filed his certificate of candidacy on 30 November 2009, Arnado was a dual citizen
represented himself as an American, in effect declaring before immigration authorities of both countries
enjoying the rights and privileges of Filipino and American citizenship. He was qualified to vote, but by
that he is an American citizen, with all attendant rights and privileges granted by the United States of
the express disqualification under Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code,40 he was not qualified to
America.
run for a local elective position.

The renunciation of foreign citizenship is not a hollow oath that can simply be professed at any time,
In effect, Arnado was solely and exclusively a Filipino citizen only for a period of eleven days, or from 3
only to be violated the next day. It requires an absolute and perpetual renunciation of the foreign
April 2009 until 14 April 2009, on which date he first used his American passport after renouncing his
citizenship and a full divestment of all civil and political rights granted by the foreign country which
American citizenship.
granted the citizenship.
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This Court has previously ruled that: foreign citizenship to be deserving of the public trust. Holding public office demands full and undivided
allegiance to the Republic and to no other.
Qualifications for public office are continuing requirements and must be possessed not only at the time
of appointment or election or assumption of office but during the officer's entire tenure. Once any of the We therefore hold that Arnado, by using his US passport after renouncing his American citizenship, has
required qualifications is lost, his title may be seasonably challenged. x x x.41 recanted the same Oath of Renunciation he took. Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code applies to
his situation. He is disqualified not only from holding the public office but even from becoming a
candidate in the May 2010 elections.
The citizenship requirement for elective public office is a continuing one. It must be possessed not just at
the time of the renunciation of the foreign citizenship but continuously. Any act which violates the oath
of renunciation opens the citizenship issue to attack. We now resolve the next issue.

We agree with the pronouncement of the COMELEC First Division that "Arnado’s act of consistently using Resolving the third issue necessitates revisiting Topacio v. Paredes45 which is the jurisprudential spring of
his US passport effectively negated his "Affidavit of Renunciation."42 This does not mean, that he failed the principle that a second-placer cannot be proclaimed as the winner in an election contest. This
to comply with the twin requirements under R.A. No. 9225, for he in fact did. doctrine must be re-examined and its soundness once again put to the test to address the ever-recurring
issue that a second-placer who loses to an ineligible candidate cannot be proclaimed as the winner in the
elections.
It was after complying with the requirements that he performed positive acts which effectively
disqualified him from running for an elective public office pursuant to Section 40(d) of the Local
Government Code of 1991. The Facts of the case are as follows:

The purpose of the Local Government Code in disqualifying dual citizens from running for any elective On June 4, 1912, a general election was held in the town of Imus, Province of Cavite, to fill the office of
public office would be thwarted if we were to allow a person who has earlier renounced his foreign municipal president. The petitioner, Felipe Topacio, and the respondent, Maximo Abad, were opposing
citizenship, but who subsequently represents himself as a foreign citizen, to hold any public office. candidates for that office. Topacio received 430 votes, and Abad 281. Abad contested the election upon
the sole ground that Topacio was ineligible in that he was reelected the second time to the office of the
municipal president on June 4, 1912, without the four years required by Act No. 2045 having
Arnado justifies the continued use of his US passport with the explanation that he was not notified of the
intervened.46
issuance of his Philippine passport on 18 June 2009, as a result of which he was only able to obtain his
Philippine passport three (3) months later.43
Abad thus questioned the eligibility of To p a c i o on the basis of a statutory prohibition for seeking a
second re-election absent the four year interruption.
The COMELEC En Banc differentiated Arnado from Willy Yu, the Portuguese national who sought
naturalization as a Filipino citizen and later applied for the renewal of his Portuguese passport. That
Arnado did not apply for a US passport after his renunciation does not make his use of a US passport less The often-quoted phrase in Topacio v. Paredes is that "the wreath of victory cannot be transferred from
of an act that violated the Oath of Renunciation he took. It was still a positive act of representation as a an ineligible candidate to any other candidate when the sole question is the eligibility of the one
US citizen before the immigration officials of this country. receiving a plurality of the legally cast ballots."47

The COMELEC, in ruling favorably for Arnado, stated "Yet, as soon as he was in possession of his This phrase is not even the ratio decidendi; it is a mere obiter dictum. The Court was comparing "the
Philippine passport, the respondent already used the same in his subsequent travels abroad."44 We effect of a decision that a candidate is not entitled to the office because of fraud or irregularities in the
cannot agree with the COMELEC. Three months from June is September. If indeed, Arnado used his elections x x x with that produced by declaring a person ineligible to hold such an office."
Philippine passport as soon as he was in possession of it, he would not have used his US passport on 24
November 2009.
The complete sentence where the phrase is found is part of a comparison and contrast between the two
situations, thus:
Besides, Arnado’s subsequent use of his Philippine passport does not correct the fact that after he
renounced his foreign citizenship and prior to filing his certificate of candidacy, he used his US passport.
Again, the effect of a decision that a candidate is not entitled to the office because of fraud or
In the same way that the use of his foreign passport does not undo his Oath of Renunciation, his
irregularities in the elections is quite different from that produced by declaring a person ineligible to hold
subsequent use of his Philippine passport does not undo his earlier use of his US passport.
such an office. In the former case the court, after an examination of the ballots may find that some other
person than the candidate declared to have received a plurality by the board of canvassers actually
Citizenship is not a matter of convenience. It is a badge of identity that comes with attendant civil and received the greater number of votes, in which case the court issues its mandamus to the board of
political rights accorded by the state to its citizens. It likewise demands the concomitant duty to maintain canvassers to correct the returns accordingly; or it may find that the manner of holding the election and
allegiance to one’s flag and country. While those who acquire dual citizenship by choice are afforded the the returns are so tainted with fraud or illegality that it cannot be determined who received a plurality of
right of suffrage, those who seek election or appointment to public office are required to renounce their the legally cast ballots. In the latter case, no question as to the correctness of the returns or the manner
of casting and counting the ballots is before the deciding power, and generally the only result can be that
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the election fails entirely. In the former, we have a contest in the strict sense of the word, because of the When the issue being decided upon by the Court is the eligibility of the one receiving a plurality of the
opposing parties are striving for supremacy. If it be found that the successful candidate (according to the legally cast ballots and ineligibility is thereafter established, what stops the Court from adjudging
board of canvassers) obtained a plurality in an illegal manner, and that another candidate was the real another eligible candidate who received the next highest number of votes as the winner and bestowing
victor, the former must retire in favor of the latter. In the other case, there is not, strictly speaking, a upon him that "wreath?"
contest, as the wreath of victory cannot be transferred from an ineligible candidate to any other
candidate when the sole question is the eligibility of the one receiving a plurality of the legally cast
An ineligible candidate who receives the highest number of votes is a wrongful winner. By express legal
ballots. In the one case the question is as to who received a plurality of the legally cast ballots; in the
mandate, he could not even have been a candidate in the first place, but by virtue of the lack of material
other, the question is confined to the personal character and circumstances of a single
time or any other intervening circumstances, his ineligibility might not have been passed upon prior to
individual.48 (Emphasis supplied)
election date. Consequently, he may have had the opportunity to hold himself out to the electorate as a
legitimate and duly qualified candidate. However, notwithstanding the outcome of the elections, his
Note that the sentence where the phrase is found starts with "In the other case, there is not, strictly ineligibility as a candidate remains unchanged. Ineligibility does not only pertain to his qualifications as a
speaking, a contest" in contrast to the earlier statement, "In the former, we have a contest in the strict candidate but necessarily affects his right to hold public office. The number of ballots cast in his favor
sense of the word, because of the opposing parties are striving for supremacy." cannot cure the defect of failure to qualify with the substantive legal requirements of eligibility to run for
public office.
The Court in Topacio v. Paredes cannot be said to have held that "the wreath of victory cannot be
transferred from an ineligible candidate to any other candidate when the sole question is the eligibility The popular vote does not cure the ineligibility of a candidate.
of the one receiving a plurality of the legally cast ballots."
The ballot cannot override the constitutional and statutory requirements for qualifications and
A proper reading of the case reveals that the ruling therein is that since the Court of First Instance is disqualifications of candidates. When the law requires certain qualifications to be possessed or that
without jurisdiction to try a disqualification case based on the eligibility of the person who obtained the certain disqualifications be not possessed by persons desiring to serve as elective public officials, those
highest number of votes in the election, its jurisdiction being confined "to determine which of the qualifications must be met before one even becomes a candidate. When a person who is not qualified is
contestants has been duly elected" the judge exceeded his jurisdiction when he "declared that no one voted for and eventually garners the highest number of votes, even the will of the electorate expressed
had been legally elected president of the municipality of Imus at the general election held in that town through the ballot cannot cure the defect in the qualifications of the candidate. To rule otherwise is to
on 4 June 1912" where "the only question raised was whether or not Topacio was eligible to be elected trample upon and rent asunder the very law that sets forth the qualifications and disqualifications of
and to hold the office of municipal president." candidates. We might as well write off our election laws if the voice of the electorate is the sole
determinant of who should be proclaimed worthy to occupy elective positions in our republic.
The Court did not rule that Topacio was disqualified and that Abad as the second placer cannot be
proclaimed in his stead. The Court therein ruled: This has been, in fact, already laid down by the Court in Frivaldo v. COMELEC50 when we pronounced:

For the foregoing reasons, we are of the opinion and so hold that the respondent judge exceeded his x x x. The fact that he was elected by the people of Sorsogon does not excuse this patent violation of the
jurisdiction in declaring in those proceedings that no one was elected municipal president of the salutary rule limiting public office and employment only to the citizens of this country. The qualifications
municipality of Imus at the last general election; and that said order and all subsequent proceedings prescribed for elective office cannot be erased by the electorate alone.
based thereon are null and void and of no effect; and, although this decision is rendered on respondents'
answer to the order to show cause, unless respondents raised some new and additional issues, let
The will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility, especially if
judgment be entered accordingly in 5 days, without costs. So ordered.49
they mistakenly believed, as in this case, that the candidate was qualified. Obviously, this rule requires
strict application when the deficiency is lack of citizenship. If a person seeks to serve in the Republic of
On closer scrutiny, the phrase relied upon by a host of decisions does not even have a legal basis to stand the Philippines, he must owe his total loyalty to this country only, abjuring and renouncing all fealty and
on. It was a mere pronouncement of the Court comparing one process with another and explaining the fidelity to any other state.51 (Emphasis supplied)
effects thereof. As an independent statement, it is even illogical.
This issue has also been jurisprudentially clarified in Velasco v. COMELEC52 where the Court ruled that
Let us examine the statement: the ruling in Quizon and Saya-ang cannot be interpreted without qualifications lest "Election victory x x x
becomes a magic formula to bypass election eligibility requirements."53
"x x x the wreath of victory cannot be transferred from an ineligible candidate to any other candidate
when the sole question is the eligibility of the one receiving a plurality of the legally cast ballots." We have ruled in the past that a candidate’s victory in the election may be considered a sufficient basis
to rule in favor of the candidate sought to be disqualified if the main issue involves defects in the
candidate’s certificate of candidacy. We said that while provisions relating to certificates of candidacy
What prevents the transfer of the wreath of victory from the ineligible candidate to another candidate?
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
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elections, to give effect to the will of the people. We so ruled in Quizon v. COMELEC and Saya-ang v. As in any contest, elections are governed by rules that determine the qualifications and disqualifications
COMELEC: of those who are allowed to participate as players. When there are participants who turn out to be
ineligible, their victory is voided and the laurel is awarded to the next in rank who does not possess any
of the disqualifications nor lacks any of the qualifications set in the rules to be eligible as candidates.
The present case perhaps presents the proper time and opportunity to fine-tune our above ruling. We
say this with the realization that a blanket and unqualified reading and application of this ruling can be
fraught with dangerous significance for the rule of law and the integrity of our elections. For one, such There is no need to apply the rule cited in Labo v. COMELEC56 that when the voters are well aware within
blanket/unqualified reading may provide a way around the law that effectively negates election the realm of notoriety of a candidate’s disqualification and still cast their votes in favor said candidate,
requirements aimed at providing the electorate with the basic information to make an informed choice then the eligible candidate obtaining the next higher number of votes may be deemed elected. That rule
about a candidate’s eligibility and fitness for office. is also a mere obiter that further complicated the rules affecting qualified candidates who placed second
to ineligible ones.
The first requirement that may fall when an unqualified reading is made is Section 39 of the LGC which
specifies the basic qualifications of local government officials. Equally susceptive of being rendered The electorate’s awareness of the candidate’s disqualification is not a prerequisite for the
toothless is Section 74 of the OEC that sets out what should be stated in a COC. Section 78 may likewise disqualification to attach to the candidate. The very existence of a disqualifying circumstance makes the
be emasculated as mere delay in the resolution of the petition to cancel or deny due course to a COC can candidate ineligible. Knowledge by the electorate of a candidate’s disqualification is not necessary
render a Section 78 petition useless if a candidate with false COC data wins. To state the obvious, before a qualified candidate who placed second to a disqualified one can be proclaimed as the winner.
candidates may risk falsifying their COC qualifications if they know that an election victory will cure any The second-placer in the vote count is actually the first-placer among the qualified candidates.
defect that their COCs may have. Election victory then becomes a magic formula to bypass election
eligibility requirements. (Citations omitted)
That the disqualified candidate has already been proclaimed and has assumed office is of no moment.
The subsequent disqualification based on a substantive ground that existed prior to the filing of the
What will stop an otherwise disqualified individual from filing a seemingly valid COC, concealing any certificate of candidacy voids not only the COC but also the proclamation.
disqualification, and employing every strategy to delay any disqualification case filed against him so he
can submit himself to the electorate and win, if winning the election will guarantee a disregard of
Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 provides:
constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications and disqualifications of candidates?

Section 6. Effect of Disqualification Case. - Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be
It is imperative to safeguard the expression of the sovereign voice through the ballot by ensuring that its
disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. If for any reason a
exercise respects the rule of law. To allow the sovereign voice spoken through the ballot to trump
candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is voted for and
constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications and disqualifications of candidates is not
receives the winning number of votes in such election, the Court or Commission shall continue with the
democracy or republicanism. It is electoral anarchy. When set rules are disregarded and only the
trial and hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any
electorate’s voice spoken through the ballot is made to matter in the end, it precisely serves as an open
intervenor, may during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such
invitation for electoral anarchy to set in.1âwphi1
candidate whenever the evidence of his guilt is strong.

Maquiling is not a second-placer as he obtained the highest number of votes from among the qualified
There was no chance for Arnado’s proclamation to be suspended under this rule because Arnado failed
candidates.
to file his answer to the petition seeking his disqualification. Arnado only filed his Answer on 15 June
2010, long after the elections and after he was already proclaimed as the winner.
With Arnado’s disqualification, Maquiling then becomes the winner in the election as he obtained the
highest number of votes from among the qualified candidates.
The disqualifying circumstance surrounding Arnado’s candidacy involves his citizenship. It does not
involve the commission of election offenses as provided for in the first sentence of Section 68 of the
We have ruled in the recent cases of Aratea v. COMELEC54 and Jalosjos v. COMELEC55 that a void COC Omnibus Election Code, the effect of which is to disqualify the individual from continuing as a candidate,
cannot produce any legal effect. or if he has already been elected, from holding the office.

Thus, the votes cast in favor of the ineligible candidate are not considered at all in determining the The disqualifying circumstance affecting Arnado is his citizenship. As earlier discussed, Arnado was both
winner of an election. a Filipino and an American citizen when he filed his certificate of candidacy. He was a dual citizen
disqualified to run for public office based on Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code.
Even when the votes for the ineligible candidate are disregarded, the will of the electorate is still
respected, and even more so. The votes cast in favor of an ineligible candidate do not constitute the sole Section 40 starts with the statement "The following persons are disqualified from running for any
and total expression of the sovereign voice. The votes cast in favor of eligible and legitimate candidates elective local position." The prohibition serves as a bar against the individuals who fall under any of the
form part of that voice and must also be respected. enumeration from participating as candidates in the election.
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With Arnado being barred from even becoming a candidate, his certificate of candidacy is thus rendered by repatriation but it recants the Oath of Renunciation required to qualify one to run for an elective
void from the beginning. It could not have produced any other legal effect except that Arnado rendered position which makes him dual citizen. Citizenship is not a matter of convenience. It is a badge of identity
it impossible to effect his disqualification prior to the elections because he filed his answer to the that comes with attendant civil and political rights accorded by the state to its citizens. It likewise
petition when the elections were conducted already and he was already proclaimed the winner. demands the concomitant duty to maintain allegiance to one’s flag and country. While those who
acquire dual citizenship by choice are afforded the right of suffrage, those who seek election or
appointment to public office are required to renounce their foreign citizenship to be deserving of the
To hold that such proclamation is valid is to negate the prohibitory character of the disqualification
public trust. Holding public office demands full and undivided allegiance to the Republic and to no other.
which Arnado possessed even prior to the filing of the certificate of candidacy. The affirmation of
It is a continuing requirement that must be possessed not only at the time of appointment or election or
Arnado's disqualification, although made long after the elections, reaches back to the filing of the
assumption of office but during the officer's entire tenure. Once any of the required qualifications is lost,
certificate of candidacy. Arnado is declared to be not a candidate at all in the May 201 0 elections.
his title may be seasonably challenged. Therefore, the Court held Arnandodisqualified for any local
elective position as provided by express disqualification under Section 40(d) of the Local Government
Arnado being a non-candidate, the votes cast in his favor should not have been counted. This leaves Code.Popular vote does not cure this ineligibility of the candidate. Otherwise, substantive requirements
Maquiling as the qualified candidate who obtained the highest number of votes. Therefore, the rule on set by the Constitution are nugatory.
succession under the Local Government Code will not apply. Furthermore, there is no second-placer to speak of because as reiterated in the case of Jalosjos v.
COMELEC, when the ineligibility was held to be void ab initio, no legal effect is produced. Hence among
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is GRANTED. The Resolution of the COMELEC En Bane the qualified candidates for position, Maquiling who garnered the highest votes should bedeclared as
dated 2 February 2011 is hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent ROMMEL ARNADO y CAGOCO is winner.
disqualified from running for any local elective position. CASAN MACODE MAQUILING is hereby
DECLARED the duly elected Mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte in the 10 May 2010 elections.

This Decision is immediately executory.

Let a copy of this Decision be served personally upon the parties and the Commission on Elections.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Facts:

Arnado wasa natural born Filipino citizen, but lost his citizenship upon naturalization as citizen of United
States of America.Sometime on 2008 and 2009, his repatriation was granted and he subsequently
executed an Affidavit of Renunciation of foreign citizenship. On November 2009, Arnando filed for a
certificate of candidacy and won the said election. But prior from his declaration as winner, a pending
action for disqualification was filed by Balua, one of the contenders for the position. Balua alleged that
Arnando was not a citizen of the Philippines, with a certification issued by the Bureau of Immigration
that Arnando’s nationality is USA-American and a certified true copy of computer-generated travel
record that he has been using his American passport even after renunciation of American citizenship. A
division of the COMELEC ruled against Arnando but this decision was reversed by the COMELEC en Banc
stating that continued use of foreign passport is not one of the grounds provided for under Section 1 of
Commonwealth Act No. 63 through which Philippine citizenship may be lost. Meanwhile, Maquiling
petition that should be declared winner as he gained the second highest number of votes.

Issue: Whether or not continued use of a foreign passport after renouncing foreign citizenship affects
one’s qualifications to run for public office.

Held:

Yes. The use of foreign passport after renouncing one’s foreign citizenship is a positive and voluntary act
of representation as to one’s nationality and citizenship; it does not divest Filipino citizenship regained
96

EN BANC Considering that the Court had pinpointed the defect in Amado's oath of renunciation, the simple act of
taking the oath anew would have been enough compliance with the requirement of the law.
G.R. No. 210164 August 18, 2015
The Decision found that from the time Amado used his US passport to travel in and out of the country up
to the filing of his Certificate of Candidacy for the succeeding elections in 2013, there had been no
ROMMEL C. ARNADO, Petitioner,
change in his circumstances. 9 He still had not made a sworn renunciation of his US citizenship. Thus, the
vs.
ruling in Maquiling still applies: that Arnado had dual citizenship when he filed for his candidacy on 1
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and FLORANTE CAPITAN, Respondents,
October 2012.

CONCURRING OPINION
It did not matter that Maquiling was promulgated months after Arnado had filed for candidacy. Since he
was not totally unaware that the use of his US passport might have adverse consequences on his
SERENO, CJ: candidacy for the 2013 elections, the Decision concludes that he should have been prudent enough to
remedy whatever defect there might have been in his citizenship.10
In Moy Ya Lim Yao v. Commissioner of Immigration, 1 we emphasized the variable nature of a person's
citizenship, which cannot be determined with finality or become the basis of rules that can be applied to Even J. Brion concedes that Amado could have been more circumspect in order to secure his
any and all proceedings thereafter. We said: qualification to run for public office. 11 However, it is insisted that the members of this Court should
remove the present case from the shadow of Maquiling and arrive at its resolution based merely on the
Everytime the citizenship of a person is material or indispensable in a judicial or administrative case, attendant factual and legal considerations specific to it.12
whatever the corresponding court or administrative authority decides therein as to such citizenship is
generally not considered as res adjudicata, hence it has to be threshed out again and again as the It cannot be denied that by virtue of its being a decision of the Court that joins the country's body of laws
occasion may demand. 2 as jurisprudence, Maquiling serves as a "legal consideration" in the resolution of the present case.
Maquiling' s application cannot be helped, especially since the Decision therein hinged not only on
In election contests, this pronouncement gains significance, as elective local officials are constitutionally relevant laws, but largely on the facts then presented before the Court. Thus, while the legal conclusion
allowed to run and serve for three consecutive terms. 3 While citizenship is a continuing requirement in Maquiling was not a final determination of Amado's citizenship - as it applied only for purposes of the
that must be possessed not only at the time of election or assumption of office, but also during the 2010 elections - the facts on which its legal conclusion was founded cannot be totally ignored.
entire tenure of the official,4 it is not a continuing disqualification to run for and hold public office.5
A person's citizenship may be "threshed out again and again"13 in every proceeding as long as it becomes
As such, each case involving the question of an elective official's citizenship must be treated anew in relevant and necessary. Except for some clearly unmeritorious cases, it is always a good idea to decide
accordance with the surrounding relevant facts and applicable laws. on the merits, especially in election controversies in which the law is sometimes placed at odds with the
will of the people. At the same time, the Court puts a premium on economy, and where previous
declarations of one's citizenship become pertinent, those cases may be used as a take-off point if only to
In this regard, I agree with some of the statements of J Brion in his Dissenting Opinion. Indeed, the emphasize the differences and similarities, as well as the measures that were taken in the interim.
Court's ruling in Maquiling v. COMELEc6 went only so far as to determine whether Rommel C. Arnado
(Amado) was qualified to run for public office in the 2010 elections. It did not operate as, nor was it
intended to be, a final determination of Amado's citizenship that would forever derail his career as a One point of contention between the Decision and the Dissenting Opinion is the finding that Arnado
public official. used his US passport for his travels in and out of the country on 12 January 2010 and 23 March 2010.

In Maquiling, we reiterated that natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their citizenship by One point of contention between the Decision and the Dissenting Opinion is the finding that Arnado
reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country may qualify to run for public office upon used his US passport for his travels in and out of the country on 12 January 2010 and 23 March 2010.
taking the Oath of Allegiance 7 and making a sworn renunciation of their foreign citizenship.8 Arnado
subjected his citizenship to attack when he continued to use his United States (US) passport to travel in Maquiling indeed made a finding that Arnado used his US passport for travel on those dates. In the Court
and out of the country despite previously renouncing his US citizenship. The Court ruled that his use of Resolution dated 2 July 2013, we said:
his US passport nullified the effect of his previous renunciation of US citizenship. While he did not lose
his Philippine citizenship in the process, he reverted to his status as a dual citizen and remained as such
Well-settled is the rule that findings of fact of administrative bodies will not be interfered with by the
at the time that he filed his Certificate of Candidacy for the position of mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del
courts in the absence of grave abuse of discretion on the part of said agencies, or unless the
Norte in the 2010 elections. Under Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code, those with dual
aforementioned findings are not supported by substantial evidence.1âwphi1 They are accorded not only
citizenship are disqualified from running for any elective local position.
great respect but even finality, and are binding upon this Court, unless it is shown that the administrative
body had arbitrarily disregarded or misapprehended evidence before it to such an extent as to compel a
contrary conclusion had such evidence been properly appreciated.
97

Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that COMELEC First Rommel Arnado was a natural-born Filipino. Later, however, he became an American citizen.
On July 10, 2008, he re-acquired his Filipino citizenship by executing an oath of allegiance to the
Division found that Arnado used his U.S. Passport at least six times after he renounced his American Philippines.
citizenship. This was debunked by the COMELEC En Banc, which found that Arnado only used his U.S.
On April 3, 2009, he executed an affidavit renouncing his American citizenship.
passport four times, and which agreed with Amado's claim that he only used his U.S. passport on those
occasions because his Philippine passport was not yet issued. The COMELEC En Banc argued that Amado On November 30, 2009, he filed a certificate of candidacy (COC) for mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del
was able to prove that he used his Philippine passport for his travels on the following dates: 12 January Norte for the May 10, 2010 elections.
2010, 31 January 2010, 31 March 2010, 16 April 2010, 20 May 2010, and 4 June 2010.
A rival candidate (Linog Balua) then filed a disqualification case against Arnado on the ground that
Arnado used his US passport after renouncing his US citizenship in April 2009. It was argued that such act
None of these dates coincide with the two other dates indicated in the certification issued by the Bureau of using a US passport constitutes dual allegiance and that is a ground for disqualification under the Local
of Immigration showing that on 21 January 2010 and on 23 March 2010, Arnado arrived in the Government Code. In short, it was argued that Arnado remained a US citizen.
Philippines using his U.S. Passport No. 057782700 which also indicated therein that his nationality is
USA-American. Adding these two travel dates to the travel record provided by the Bureau of Immigration In his defense, Arnado argued that he is qualified to run for public office because he complied with the
showing that Arnado also presented his U.S. passport four times (upon departure on 14 April 2009, upon requirements of Republic Act No. 9225 which provides that a former Filipino citizen may run for elective
arrival on 25 June 2009, upon departure on 29 July 2009 and upon arrival on 24 November 2009), these public office if (1) they meet the qualifications for the elective office they desire, and (2) make a personal
incidents sum up to six. and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenships – which must be done before the filing of the
COC.

The COMELEC En Banc concluded that "the use of the US passport was because to his knowledge, his Arnado explained that his use of his US passport after April 2009 was because of the fact that he did not
Philippine passport was not yet issued to him for his use." This conclusion, however, is not supported by know yet that he had been issued already a Philippine passport; that when he received said Philippine
the facts. Arnado claims that his Philippine passport was issued on 18 June 2009. The records show that passport, he used it since then; that at any rate, Arnado, on November 30, 2009, again executed an
he continued to use his U.S. passport even after he already received his Philippine passport. Arnado's Affirmation of Renunciation with Oath of Allegiance before a notary public.
travel records show that he presented his U.S. passport on 24 November 2009, on 21 January 2010, and Balua however presented proof that Arnado again used his US passport in January 2010 and in March
on 23 March 2010. These facts were never refuted by Arnado. 2010.
Eventually, the Commission on Elections disqualified Arnado, who won the 2010 elections, and declared
Thus, the ruling of the COMELEC En Banc is based on a misapprehension of the facts that the use of the another rival candidate as the rightful mayor. This was affirmed by the Supreme Court (G.R. No. 195649).
U.S. passport was discontinued when Amado obtained his Philippine passport.14 (Emphases supplied)
Later, on October 1, 2012, Arnado filed his COC for mayor for the May 2013 elections. Another rival
candidate (Casan Maquiling) filed a petition to disqualify Arnado based on the ruling in G.R. No. 195649.
It is important to clarify that the certification from the Bureau of Immigration indicated that Amado While the case was pending, Arnado won the 2013 elections as he even acquired 84% of the votes cast
arrived in the country using his US passport on 12 January 2010 and 23 March 2010.15 The Court gave full for mayor in Kauswagan.
credence to the certification, not only because it carried with it the presumption of regularity, but more
important, Arnado never bothered to refute the contents thereof. Later however, the COMELEC disqualified Arnado from running in the May 2013 Elections and his
declaration as Mayor of Kauswagan was voided. Arnado sued the COMELEC as he argued that the
COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion. He averred that he was able to comply with the
On the basis of this finding, the Court rejected the claim that Amado's use of his US passport several requirements of RA 9225; and that his disqualification only disenfranchised 84% of the Kauswagan
times were mere isolated acts that were done only because he was not yet issued his Philippine voters.
passport.16
ISSUE: Whether or not the arguments raised by Arnado are tenable.
To my mind, this is the turning point of Maquiling that regrettably still applies in this case: that whatever HELD:
professions of faith and allegiance to the Republic that Amado claims when his citizenship is in question,
No.
the fact remains that during the instances that he used his US passport despite having a Philippine
passport in his possession, those same professions became hollow. And, that up to the filing of Amado's 1. Firstly, the fact that he obtained a landslide victory does not override the requirements set by law. The
Certificate of Candidacy for the 2013 elections, he failed to remedy the fatal blow that such repeated use fact that he garnered 84% of the total votes cast in Kauswagan cannot override the constitutional and
of his US passport dealt on his electoral qualifications. statutory requirements for qualifications and disqualifications. Election victory cannot be used as a magic
formula to bypass election eligibility requirements; otherwise, certain provisions of laws pertaining to
elections will become toothless.
I therefore concur with the DISMISSAL of the PETITION.
2. The COMELEC did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it disqualified Arnado. Arnado failed to
comply with the requirements of RA 9225. Although he did swear allegiance to the Philippines and
G.R. No. 210164 – Political Law – Election Law – Republic Act No. 9225 – Qualifications of Local Elective
renounced his US citizenship prior to filing his COC in November 2009, such acts were deemed recanted
Candidates – Citizenship Requirements – Dual Allegiance
or withdrawn when he again used his US passport.
Remedial Law – Formal Offer of Evidence – Evidence not Offered
98

In fact, Arnado did not controvert the allegations that he used his US passport in January 2010 and
March 2010. As such, he remained a US citizen and is therefore disqualified to run for public office.
What Arnado could have done, for the purposes of running in the 2013 elections, was to renounce again
(for the third time) his US citizenship. But he never did that hence he was rightfully disqualified in the
2013 elections too.
Note also that assuming that Arnado never used his US passport in January 2010 and March 2010, he is
still disqualified.
Arnado averred that his use of his US passport prior to November 2009 was cured when he again made a
second renunciation of his US citizenship on November 30, 2009. However, the Affidavit of Renunciation
he offered in court during trial was a mere photocopy of the original. Under the Best Evidence Rule
(Section 3, Rule 130, Revised Rules of Court), the original must be presented unless the same is lost. In
this case, the original was never alleged to have been lost. Further, the said Affidavit was being used
belatedly by Arnado. In fact, it was never formally offered. Under Section 34, Rule 132 of the Revised
Rules of Court, “The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered.”
99

EN BANC of his/her election as a candidate, hence, constituting premature campaigning, for which he/she may be
disqualified."1
G.R. No. 181613 November 25, 2009
Under the Decision, a candidate may already be liable for premature campaigning after the filing of the
certificate of candidacy but even before the start of the campaign period. From the filing of the
ROSALINDA A. PENERA, Petitioner,
certificate of candidacy, even long before the start of the campaign period, the Decision considers the
vs.
partisan political acts of a person so filing a certificate of candidacy "as the promotion of his/her election
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EDGAR T. ANDANAR, Respondents.
as a candidate." Thus, such person can be disqualified for premature campaigning for acts done before
the start of the campaign period. In short, the Decision considers a person who files a certificate of
RESOLUTION candidacy already a "candidate" even before the start of the campaign period. lawphil

CARPIO, J.: The assailed Decision is contrary to the clear intent and letter of the law.

We grant Rosalinda A. Penera’s (Penera) motion for reconsideration of this Court’s Decision of 11 The Decision reverses Lanot v. COMELEC,2 which held that a person who files a certificate of candidacy
September 2009 (Decision). is not a candidate until the start of the campaign period. In Lanot, this Court explained:

The assailed Decision dismissed Penera’s petition and affirmed the Resolution dated 30 July 2008 of the Thus, the essential elements for violation of Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code are: (1) a person
COMELEC En Banc as well as the Resolution dated 24 July 2007 of the COMELEC Second Division. The engages in an election campaign or partisan political activity; (2) the act is designed to promote the
Decision disqualified Penera from running for the office of Mayor in Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte and election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates; (3) the act is done outside the campaign
declared that the Vice-Mayor should succeed Penera. period.

In support of her motion for reconsideration, Penera submits the following arguments: The second element requires the existence of a "candidate." Under Section 79(a), a candidate is one who
"has filed a certificate of candidacy" to an elective public office. Unless one has filed his certificate of
1. Penera was not yet a candidate at the time of the incident under Section 11 of RA 8436 as candidacy, he is not a "candidate." The third element requires that the campaign period has not started
amended by Section 13 of RA