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G.R. No. 138969. December 17, 1999
Private respondent Salambai Ambolodto and Sukarno Samad were mayoralty
candidates in the local elections held on May 11, 1998 in Kabuntalan,
Maguindanao. Samad was declared winner. He and herein petitioner Salipongan Dagloc,
who was elected vice-mayor, were proclaimed on May 14, 1998.
Ambolodto filed a petition in the COMELEC entitled petition to declare a failure of
election and/ or annul the election results in the municipality of kabuntalan, first district of
Maguindanao. While the case was pending, Samad died, and herein petitioner, who had
succeeded him as mayor of Kabuntalan, was substituted in his place in the pending cases
before the COMELEC.
Petitioner contends that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in
holding that the filing of private respondents petition for a declaration of a failure of
election and for the annulment of election results suspended the running of the
reglementary period for filing an election protest. He maintains that what is contemplated
in 248 of the Election Code is the filing of a pre-proclamation controversy praying for
annulment or suspension of proclamation.
Whether or not the petition of Private respondent results to the running of the
reglamemtary period for filing an election protest.
Sec. 248 reads:
The Commission [on Elections] shall have exclusive jurisdiction of all pre-proclamation
controversies. It may motu proprio or upon written petition, and after due notice and
hearing, order the partial or total suspension of the proclamation of any candidate-elect
or annul partially or totally any proclamation, if one has been made, as the evidence shall
warrant in accordance with the succeeding sections.
The filing of pre-proclamation controversies under 248 of the Omnibus Election Code,
however, is not the only ground for the suspension of proclamation. Two other instances
are provided in R.A. No. 6646, known as The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987, viz.: (1)
Under 6 of the statute, the COMELEC may, upon motion of the complainant in an action
for disqualification, suspend the proclamation of the winning candidate if the evidence of
his guilt is strong, and (2) under 7 thereof, the COMELEC may likewise suspend the
proclamation of the winning candidate if there is ground for denying or canceling his
certificate of candidacy.
These actions are in the nature of pre-proclamation controversies and, therefore,
like pre-proclamation contests, their filing is a ground for the suspension of proclamation
and, consequently, of the period for filing either an election protest or a petition for quo
However, petitioner is correct that SPA No. 98-356 is not a pre-proclamation
controversy. Much less is it a petition for disqualification or for the denial or cancelation
of a certificate of candidacy. Indeed, private respondent does not claim that her petition
raises pre-proclamation issues. She frankly admits that SPA No. 98-356 is a petition filed
under 6 of the Omnibus Election Code for a declaration of failure of election.[9] In fact, her
petition clearly states its nature, as it is denominated PETITION TO DECLARE A
Not all actions seeking the annulment of proclamation suspend the running of the
period for filing an election protest or a petition for quo warranto. For it is not the relief
prayed for which distinguishes actions under 248 from an election protest or quo
warranto proceedings, but the grounds on which they are based.
The purpose for allowing pre-proclamation controversies is to put a stop to the
pernicious practice of unscrupulous candidates of grabbing the proclamation and
prolonging the protest. Accordingly, grounds which are proper for electoral protests
should not be allowed to delay the proclamation of the winners.

It may well be true that that public policy may occasionally permit the occurrence of grab
the proclamation and prolong the protest situations; that public policy, however,
balances the possibility of such situations against the shortening of the period during
which no winners are proclaimed, a period commonly fraught with tension and danger
for the public at large.

In view of the foregoing, we hold that the filing by private respondent of a petition for
declaration of failure of election (SPA No. 98-356) did not suspend the running of the
reglementary period within which to file an election protest or quo warranto
proceedings. The period for private respondent to do so expired on May 24, 1998, 10
days from the proclamation of Sukarno Samad and petitioner as mayor and vice-mayor,