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CHAPTER V Penera vs COMELEC Facts: The COMELEC disqualified petitioner Rosalinda A.

Penera (Penera) as a candidate for mayor of the Municipality of Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte, for unlawfully engaging in election campaign before the start of the campaign period for the 2007 Synchronized National and Local Elections, in violation of Section 80 of Batas Pambansa 881 (the Omnibus Election Code). The COMELEC found that Penera and her party-mates, after filing their Certificates of Candidacy, conducted a motorcade through Sta. Monica and threw candies to onlookers, aboard trucks festooned with balloons and banners bearing their names and pictures and the municipal positions for which they were seeking election, one of which trucks had a sound system that broadcast their intent to run in the 2007 elections. ISSUES: Whether or not Penera should be disqualified for engaging in election campaign or partisan political activity outside the campaign period. PETITIONER Penera filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Supreme Court to nullify the disqualification. She argued that the evidence was grossly insufficient to warrant the COMELECs ruling. She maintained that the motorcade was spontaneous and unplanned, and the supporters merely joined her and the other candidates. DEFENDANT COMELEC Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento dissented. He emphasized that under Section 15 of Republic Act 8436 (the law authorizing the COMELEC to use an automated election system for the process of voting, counting of votes, and canvassing/consolidating the results of the national and local elections), as amended by Republic Act No. 9369, one is now considered a candidate only at the start of the campaign period. Thus, before the start of the campaign period, there can be no election campaign or partisan political activity because there is no candidate to speak of. Accordingly, Penera could not be disqualified for premature campaigning because the motorcade took place outside the campaign period when Penera was not yet a candidate. Sarmiento posited that Section 15 of R.A. No. 8436, as amended by R.A. 9369, has practically made it impossible to commit premature campaigning at any time, and has, thus, effectively repealed Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code. RULING Resolve in favour of Defendant. A) The Supreme Court En Banc dismissed Peneras Petition and affirmed her disqualification because: (1) Penera raised a question of fact. The Supreme Court is not a trier of facts, and the sole function of a writ of certiorari is to address issues of want of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion, and does not include a review of the tribunals evaluation of the evidence. (2) The COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion. Evidence presented to the COMELEC, including Peneras own evidence and admissions, sufficiently established that Penera and her partymates, after filing their COCs x x, participated in a motorcade which passed through the different barangays of Sta. Monica, waived their hands to the public, and threw candies to the onlookers. With vehicles, balloons, and even candies on hand, Penera can hardly persuade the Court that the motorcade was spontaneous and unplanned. (T)he conduct of a motorcade is a form of election campaign or partisan political activity, falling squarely within the ambit of Section 79(b)(2) of the Omnibus Election Code, on [h]olding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate[.] x x

More on the Ruling: Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code prohibits any person, whether a voter, a candidate or a party, from engaging in any election campaign or partisan political activity outside the campaign period (except that political parties may hold political conventions or meetings to nominate their official candidates within 30 days before the campaign period and 45 days for Presidential and Vice-Presidential election). And, under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, a candidate declared by final decision to have engaged in premature campaigning shall be disqualified from continuing as a candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding the office. Said candidate may also face criminal prosecution for an election offense under Section 262 of the same Code. Thus, Penera, who had been elected Mayor of Sta. Monica before the COMELEC rendered its decision, was

disqualified from holding the said office. The proclaimed Vice-Mayor was declared her rightful successor pursuant to Section 44 of the Local Government Code which provides that if the mayor fails to qualify or is removed from office, the vice-mayor shall become the mayor. Quinto vs COMELEC Facts: Petitioners Eleazar P. Quinto and Gerino A. Tolentino, Jr. filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition against the COMELEC for issuing a resolution declaring appointive officials who filed their certificate of candidacy as ipso facto resigned from their positions. In this defense, the COMELEC avers that it only copied the provision from Sec. 13 of R.A. 9369. Issue: Whether or not the said COMELEC resolution was valid. PETITIONER Sec. 13 of RA. 9369 unduly discriminated appointive and elective officials. Applying the 4 requisites of a valid classification, the proviso does not comply with the second requirement that it must be germane to the purpose of the law. DEFENDANT There is no violation of the equal protection clause. It is settled that the equal protection clause does not demand absolute equality; it merely requires that all persons shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to privileges conferred and liabilities enforced. The test used is reasonableness which requires that: 1. The classification rests on substantial distinctions; 2. It is germane to the purposes of the law; 3. It is not limited to existing conditions only; and 4. It applies equally to all members of the same class. RULING Rule in favour the petitioner. The obvious reason for the challenged provision is to prevent the use of a governmental position to promote ones candidacy, or even to wield a dangerous or coercive influence of the electorate. The measure is further aimed at promoting the efficiency, integrity, and discipline of the public service by eliminating the danger that the discharge of official duty would be motivated by political considerations rather than the welfare of the public. The restriction is also justified by the proposition that the entry of civil servants to the electorate arena, while still in office, could result in neglect or inefficiency in the performance of duty because they would be attending to their campaign rather than to their office work. Sec. 13 of RA. 9369 pertains to all civil servants holding appointive posts without distinction as to whether they occupy high positions in government or not. Certainly, a utility worker in the government will also be considered as ipso facto resigned once he files his certificate of candidacy for the election. This scenario is absurd for, indeed, it is unimaginable how he can use his position in the government to wield influence in the political world. The provision s directed to the activity any and all public offices, whether they be partisan or non partisan in character, whether they be in the national, municipal or barangay level. Congress has not shown a compelling state interest to restrict the fundamental right involved on such a sweeping scale.

Pilar vs COMELEC

Facts: This is a petition for certiorari assailing the Resolution of the COMELEC in UND No. 94-040. Petitioner Pilar filed his COC for the position of member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Isabela. 3 days after, petitioner withdrew his certificate of candidacy. The COMELEC imposed upon petitioner the fine of P10,000.00 for failure to file his statement of contributions and expenditures pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No. 2348, in turn implementing R.A. No. 7166 which provides that: Statement of Contributions and Expenditures: Effect of Failure to File Statement. Every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within thirty (30) days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Commission the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election. Petitioner argues that he cannot be held liable for failure to file a statement of contributions and expenditures because he was a non-candidate, having withdrawn his certificates of candidacy three days after its filing. Issue: Did Petitioners withdrawal of his candidacy extinguish his liability for the administrative fine. PETITIONER Petitioner posits that it is . . . clear from the law that candidate must have entered the political contest, and should have either won or lost. DEFENDANT The contention of the petitioner is not valid. Every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within thirty (30) days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Commission the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election. RULING Rule in favour of the defendant. Section 14 of R.A. No. 7166 states that every candidate has the obligation to file his statement of contributions and expenditures. Wellrecognized is the rule that where the law does not distinguish, courts should not distinguish. In the case at bench, as the law makes no distinction or qualification as to whether the candidate pursued his candidacy or withdrew the same, the term every candidate must be deemed to refer not only to a candidate who pursued his campaign, but also to one who withdrew his candidacy. Furthermore, Section 14 of the law uses the word shall. As a general rule, the use of the word shall in a statute implies that the statute is mandatory, and imposes a duty which may be enforced, particularly if public policy is in favor of this meaning or where public interest is involved. We apply the general rule. Also, Section 13 of Resolution No. 2348 categorically refers to all candidates who filed their certificates of candidacy. It is not improbable that a candidate who withdrew his candidacy has accepted contributions and incurred expenditures, even in the short span of his campaign. The evil sought to be prevented by the law is not all too remote. Lastly, we note that under the fourth paragraph of Section 73 of the B.P. Blg. 881 or the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, it is provided that [t]he filing or withdrawal of certificate of candidacy shall not affect whatever civil, criminal or administrative liabilities which a candidate may have incurred.

CHAPTER VI Garay vs COMELEC Facts: After the results of the May 8, 1995 elections were canvassed in 73 precincts in the Municipality of Matnog, Province of Sorsogon, petitioner Gerry B. Garay, a candidate for vice-mayor, was credited with 5,411 votes and private respondent Jaime Gata, Jr., his rival, 5,391 or a margin of twenty (20) votes in favor of petitioner. The said results, however, excluded the votes from precinct 30-A of Barangay Culasi, Matnog, where armed men forcibly took the ballot box together with the election returns, other election papers, documents and/or paraphernalia. Because the votes in precinct 30-A would obviously affect the standing of the said candidates, the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) did not proclaim the winner. Failing to convince said Board to proclaim him by virtue of a certificate of votes issued by the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) showing he garnered 116 votes against 68 votes for Garay in said precinct, respondent Gata brought the matter to the respondent Commission. In his appeal, respondent Gata included a copy of the Tally Board, duly authenticated by the BEI, showing the same count as the Certificate of Votes: that is, Gata-116 votes and Garay - 68 votes. If these were added to the already canvassed votes, Gata would win by a 28-vote margin. In the meantime, while the said appeal was pending, respondent COMELEC - upon recommendation of Comm. Julio Desamito - conducted a [4] special election in precinct 30-A, on the ground of failure of election due to the loss of the ballot box and the election documents. Both petitioner Garay and respondent Gata actively participated in the election which was held on June 7, 1995. Petitioner won handily in the said election and was thereafter proclaimed Vice-Mayor of Matnog. The Comelec First Division denied due course to the appeal because of appellant's (Gata) failure "to furnish the Commission all pertinent [5] documents necessary for the latter to rule on the matter." Respondent Gata's motion for reconsideration of this Comelec action is still pending before the Comelec First Division. Subsequently, the COMELEC En Banc issued a Resolution promulgated on August 7, 1995 annulling the special election and directing the MBC to reconvene and to include "in the canvass, the votes reflected on the Tally Board submitted by the Board of Election Inspectors x x x." As a result, respondent Gata was declared winner. The Commission En Banc said that it was "convinced without taint of any doubt that the votes shown in the tally board and certificate of votes reflect the true and genuine will of the electorate." ISSUE: Did the respondent Commission commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in setting aside the results of the special election it called due to a failure of elections and in declaring the winner on the basis of the Tally Board and the Certificate of Votes submitted by the private respondent Gata? PETITIONER Petitioner now assails this Resolution of August 7, 1995 claiming grave abuse of discretion by respondent COMELEC (1) for its reversal of its own First Division; and (2) for annulling the special election and allowing the use of the Tally Board and the Certificate of Votes in the new canvass. DEFENDANT Respondent Commission, through the Solicitor General, alleges that, since the Tally Board and the Certificate of Votes were unarguably authentic, there was no basis for holding the special election, as there was no failure of elections. Answering petitioner's contention that the "mandatory procedure of Section 20 of Republic Act No. 7166 and Section 33 of Comelec Resolution No. 2756 were not complied with," respondent Commission said that the special election was called because the winner could not be ascertained on the basis of the Certificate of Votes alone. However, when the Tally Board was taken into account, the Commission En Banc "found that indeed that true results of the election could be determined" from the said Tally Board. RULING Rule in favor of the Petitioner. The respondent Commission's plea that it is "convinced without taint of any doubt that the votes shown in the tally board and certificate of votes reflect the true and genuine will of the electorate" is weak and unpersuasive. According to Section 17, a certificate of votes can only be "evidence to prove tampering, alteration, falsification or any other anomaly committed in the election returns concerned, when duly authenticated x x x." A certificate of votes does not constitute sufficient evidence of the true and genuine results of the election; only election returns are. In like manner, neither is the tally board sufficient evidence of the real results of the election. Guingona vs COMELEC

Facts: In this special civil action for mandamus filed on 23 April 2010, petitioners invoke their constitutional rights to suffrage and to information in compelling respondent Commission on Elections (Comelec) to explain fully the complete details of its preparations for the 10 May 2010 elections, in view of the unraveling of alarming events of late. Issue: WON it is constitutional to compel the COMELEC to disclose information to the public regarding the election?

PETITIONER Comelec has the duty and can be compelled to explain fully its preparations for the May 10, 2010 elections under Section 7 of Article III of the Constitution on the peoples right to information and Section 28 of Article II on the States corresponding duty of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest. Any citizen can file a petition for mandamus if the same is anchored on the peoples right to information.

DEFENDANT Comelec contends petitioners have no legal standing to file the present special civil action for mandamus. Respondent insists petitioners have no valid cause of action against it. Respondent argues there is no proof petitioners had requested the release of the public documents mentioned in the petition; hence, the extraordinary writ of mandamus is legally unavailing. Respondent Comelec maintains that the issues raised by petitioners have already been decided in Roque v. Comelec, where this Court held that failure of elections consequent to voting machines failure would, in fine, be a very remote possibility and that although the AES has its flaws, Comelec and Smartmatic have seen to it that the system is wellprotected with sufficient security measures. Respondent thus prays that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit.

RULING Rule in favor of the Petitioner. In order that a petition for mandamus may be given due course, it must be instituted by a party aggrieved by the alleged inaction of any tribunal, corporation, board, or person, which unlawfully excludes said party from the [3] enjoyment of a legal right. However, if the petition is anchored on the peoples right to information on matters of public concern, any citizen can be the real party in interest. The requirement of personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that the petitioner is a citizen, and therefore, part of the general public which [4] possesses the right. There is no need to show any special interest in the result. It is sufficient that petitioners are citizens and, as such, are interested in the faithful execution of the laws. In sum, petitioners prayer to compel Comelec to explain fully its preparations for the coming 10 May 2010 elections finds overwhelming support in the Constitution, specifically under Section 7 of Article III and Section 28 of Article II on the peoples right to information and the States corresponding duty of full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest;

*Another argument in the case of Center for People Empowerment in Governance vs COMELEC, in reference to the preceding case on the duty of the COMELEC to disclose information regarding the election, i.e. the source code,: The pertinent portion of Sec. 12 of RA 9369 is clear in that once an AES technology is selected for implementation, the Commission shall promptly make the source code of that technology available and open to any interested political party or groups which may conduct their own review thereof. The COMELEC has offered no reason not to comply with this requirement of the law. Indeed, its only excuse for not disclosing the source code was that it was not yet available when CenPED asked for it and, subsequently, that the review had to be done, apparently for security reasons, under a controlled environment. The elections had passed and that reason is already stale.


It appears that while the election returns were being canvassed by the Quezon City Board of Canvassers but before the winning candidates were proclaimed, petitioner commenced suit before the COMELEC by filing a petition seeking to suspend the canvassing of votes and/or proclamation in Quezon City and to declare a failure of elections. The said petition was supposedly filed pursuant to Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, as amended) on the ground of massive and orchestrated fraud and acts analogous thereto which occurred after the voting and during the preparation of election returns and in the custody or canvass thereof, which resulted in a failure to elect. While the petition was pending before the COMELEC, the City Board of Canvassers proclaimed the winners of the elections in Quezon City, including the winning candidate for the post of vice mayor. On June 22, 1998, the COMELEC promulgated its challenged resolution dismissing the petition before it on the ground (1) that the allegations therein were not supported by sufficient evidence, and (2) that the grounds recited were not among the pre-proclamation issues set fourth in Section 17 of Republic Act No. 7166. Hence the petitioner filed a petition with the SC under Rule 65, Alleging that COMELEC overstepped the limits of reasonable exercise of discretion in dismissing SPC No. 98-134, petitioner argues in the main that the electoral body failed to afford him basic due process, that is, the right to a hearing and presentation of evidence before ruling on his petition. He then proceeded to argue that the election returns themselves, as well as the minutes of the canvassing committee of the City Board of Canvassers were, by themselves, sufficient evidence to support the petition. Issue WON the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion? PETITIONER Petitioners claim that he was deprived of his right to due process in that he was not allowed to present his evidence before the COMELEC to support his petition. DEFENDANT The policy of the election law that pre-proclamation controversies should be summarily decided, consistent with the law's desire that the canvass and proclamation be delayed as little as possible. That is why such questions which require more deliberate and necessarily longer consideration, are left for examination in the corresponding election protest. RULING Rule in favor of the Defendant. Presentation of evidence before the COMELEC is not at all indispensable in order to satisfy the demands of due process. Under the amendment introduced by R.A. No. 7166, particularly Section 18 thereof, all that is required now is that the COMELEC shall dispose of pre-proclamation controversies on the basis of the records and evidence elevated to it by the board of canvassers. This is but in keeping with the policy of the law that cases of this nature should be summarily decided and the will of the electorate as reflected on the election returns be determined as speedily as possible. What exactly those records and evidence are upon which the COMELEC based its resolution and how they have been appreciated in respect of their sufficiency, are beyond this Courts scrutiny. But we have reason to believe, owing to the presumption of regularity of performance of official duty and the precept that factual findings of the COMELEC based on its assessments and duly supported by gathered evidence, are conclusive upon the court, that the COMELEC did arrive at its conclusion with due regard to the available evidence before it. That this is so can, in fact, be gleaned from petitioners own allegation and admission in his petition that the election returns themselves as well as the minutes of the Canvassing Committees and the City Board of Canvassers x x x are in the possession of the COMELEC. He even cites paragraph (g), Section 20 of the Omnibus Election Code to validate such allegation. Hence, it is not really correct

to say that the COMELEC acted without evidentiary basis at all or that petitioner was deprived of his right to due process. Sanchez vs COMELEC Facts: In G.R. No. 78461, candidate Augusto S. Sanchez (Sanchez) filed his petition on May 28, 1987 praying that respondent Commission on Elections (Comelec) after due hearing, be directed to conduct a recount of the votes cast three months ago in the May 11, 1987 senatorial elections to determine the true number of votes to be credited to him and prayed further for a restraining order directing the Comelec to withhold the proclamation of the last four (4) winning candidates on the ground that votes intended for him were declared as astray votes because of the sameness of his surname with that of disqualified candidate Gil Sanchez, whose name had not been crossed out from the Comelec election returns and other election forms. On July 16, 1987, the Comelec, by a vote of four to three, promulgated its decision dismissing petitioner Sanchez' petition for recount. On July 20, 1987, petitioner Sanchez filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision of July 16, 1987, which was opposed by intervenors Rasul and Enrile. On July 25, 1987, the Comelec proclaimed Rasul as the 23rd senator-elect. But On July 28, 1987, Enrile filed with this Court his petition (1) to compel the Comelec to complete the canvass of votes cast for senators in the May 11, 1987 elections to determine the 23rd and 24th placers in the senatorial race and (2) to annul the proclamation of respondent Rasul or to suspend the effects of such proclamation pending the determination of the 23rd and 24th placers, on the ground of mathematical possibility that the uncanvassed votes would materially affect the 23rd and 24th rankings in the senatorial race, while the Comelec's proclamation of the first 20 elected senators was predicated upon a finding that the first 20 placers would no longer be affected by the certificates of canvass still to be submitted to the Comelec; and that Comelec gave the same reason when it proclaimed subsequently the 21st placer (Ernesto Herrera) and 22nd placer (Mamintal Tamano). On July 24, 1987, however, respondent Comelec, by a vote of five to two, announced its second decision reversing its earlier decision of July 16, 1987 of dismissal of Sanchez' petition and that it was instead granting Sanchez' petition for recount and/or re-appreciation of ballots. Comelec actually released this second decision on July 30, 1987. Enrile on the other hand, filed a petition negating the said decision of the COMELEC. In its resolution of August 4, 1987, the Court, inter alia, required respondents to comment on Enrile's petition against the Comelec's recount decision, and directed the maintenance of the status quo. The parties were heard in oral argument at the joint hearing held on August 6, 1987, and the cases were thereafter submitted for resolution. ISSUE: The basic issue at bar which Sanchez himself avers in his petition is "a case of first impression" is whether his petition for recount and/or reappreciation of ballots filed with the Comelec may be considered a summary pre-proclamation controversy falling within the Comelec's exclusive jurisdiction (Sec. 242, Omnibus Election Code) or properly pertains to the realm of election protest falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Senate Electoral Tribunal as "the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualification of the [Senate's] members." (Art. VI, Sec. 17, Constitution)

PETITIONER He contends that the canvassed returns discarding "Sanchez" votes as stray were "incomplete" and therefore warrant a recount or reappreciation of the ballots under Section 234.

DEFENDANT A simple reading of the basic provisions of the cited Section shows readily its inapplicability. By legal definition and by the very instructions of the Comelec (Res. No. 1865, Sec. 6, promulgated on March 11, 1987), an election return is incomplete if there is "omission in the election returns of the name of any candidate and/or his corresponding votes" (Sec. 234) or "in case the number of votes for a candidate has been omitted." (Sec. 6, Res. No. 1865)

RULING In favour of Defendant Here, the election returns are complete and indicate the name of Sanchez as well as the total number of votes that were counted and appreciated as votes in his favor by the boards of inspectors. The fact that some votes written solely as "Sanchez" were declared stray votes because of the inspectors' erroneous belief that Gil Sanchez had not been disqualified as a candidate, involves an erroneous appreciation of the ballots. It is established by the law as well as jurisprudence (the cited section being a substantial reproduction of Section

172 of the 1978 Election Code and previous election laws) that errors in the appreciation of ballots by the board of inspectors are proper subject for election protest and not for recount or reappreciation of the ballots.

More ruling of the SC (Take note with the principles): The appreciation of the ballots cast in the precincts is not a "proceeding of the board of canvassers" for purposes of pre-proclamation proceedings under section 241, Omnibus Election Code, but of the boards of election inspectors who are called upon to count and appreciate the votes in accordance with the rules of appreciation provided in section 211, Omnibus Election Code. Otherwise stated, the appreciation of ballots is not part of the proceedings of the board of canvassers. The function of ballots appreciation is performed by the boards of election inspectors at the precinct level.

The scope of pre-proclamation controversy is limited to the issues enumerated under sec. 243 of the Omnibus Election Code. The enumeration therein of the issues that may be raised in pre-proclamation controversy, is restrictive and exclusive. In the absence of any clear showing or proof that the election returns canvassed are incomplete or contain material defects (sec. 234), appear to have been tampered with, falsified or prepared under duress (sec. 235) and/or contain discrepancies in the votes credited to any candidate, the difference of which affects the result of the election (sec. 236), which are the only instances where a pre-proclamation recount maybe resorted to, granted the preservation of the integrity of the ballot box and its contents, Sanchez' petition must fail. The complete election returns whose authenticity is not in question, must be prima facie considered valid for the purpose of canvassing the same and proclamation of the winning candidates. To expand the issues beyond those enumerated under sec. 243 and allow a recount/re-appreciation of votes in every instance where a claim of misdeclaration of stray votes is made would open the floodgates to such claims and paralyze canvass and proclamation proceedings, given the propensity of the loser to demand a recount. The law and public policy mandate that all pre-proclamation controversies shall be heard summarily by the Commission after due notice and hearing and just as summarily decided. (Sec. 246, Omnibus Election Code) The Court has always stressed as in Alonto vs. Comelec that "the policy of the election law is that pre-proclamation controversies should be summarily decided, consistent with the law's desire that the canvass and proclamation be delayed as little as possible. As declared in Abes et al. vs. Commission on Elections, L-28348, December 15, 1967, the powers of the Comelec are essentially executive and administrative in nature, and the question of whether or not there had been terrorism, vote buying and other irregularities in the election should be ventilated in a regular election protest, and the Commission on Elections is not the proper forum for deciding such matters," and that the Comelec and the courts should guard "both against proclamation grabbing through tampered returns" and "the equally pernicious effects of excessive delay of proclamations" and "attempts to paralyze canvassing and proclamation." To allow the recount here notwithstanding the multifarious administrative and financial problems of conducting such a recount, as enumerated by the Comelec in its two decisions when now three months after the elections the question of who is entitled to the 24th seat of the Senate would remain unresolved for how long no one can tell is unthinkable and certainly contrary to public policy and the mandate of the law that the results of the election be canvassed and reported immediately on the basis of the 4 authentic returns which must be accorded prima facie status as bona fide reports of the votes cast for and obtained by the candidates. Election cases involved not only the adjudication of the private interest of rival candidates but also the paramount need of dispelling the uncertainty which beclouds the real choice of the electorate with respect to who shall discharge the prerogatives of the offices within their gift. They are imbued with public interest (Vda. de Mesa v. Mencias, 18 SCRA 533, 538). The ground for recount relied upon by Sanchez is clearly not among the issues that may be raised in a pre- proclamation controversy. His allegation of invalidation of "Sanchez" votes intended for him bear no relation to the correctness and authenticity of the election returns canvassed. Neither the Constitution nor statute has granted the Comelec or the board of canvassers the power in the canvass of election returns to look beyond the face thereof, once satisfied of their authenticity (Abes v. Comelec, 21 SCRA 1252,1256). Ututalum vs COMELEC Facts: During the canvass of votes, Petitioner Ututalum, without availing of verbal objections, filed written objections to the returns from Siasi on the ground that they "appear to be tampered with or falsified" owing to the "great excess of votes" appearing in said returns. Issue:

WON the petition of the petitioner is valid? PETITIONER Petitioner contends that the issue he raised before the COMELEC actually referred to "obviously manufactured returns," a proper subject matter for a pre-proclamation controversy and, therefore, cognizable by the COMELEC, in accordance with Section 243 of the Omnibus Election Code, which provides: Sec 243. The following shall be the issues that may be raised in a pre-proclamation controversy: xxx xxx xxx c) The election returns were prepared under duress, threats, coercion or intimidation or they areobviously manufactured or not authentic; (emphasis supplied) DEFENDANT The COMELEC (First Division) denied Petitioner Ututalum's two Petitions "for lack of merit, with the advise (sic) that he may file an election contest before the proper forum, if so desired." Declared the COMELEC inter alia: While we believe that there was padding of the registry list of voters in Siasi, yet to annul all the votes in this municipality for purposes of the May 30, 1987 elections would disenfranchise the good or valid votes. As held in Espaldon vs. Comelec (G.R. No. L-78987, August 25, 1987), this Commission is not the proper forum nor is it a proper ground in a pre-proclamation controversy, to wit: Padded voter's list, massive fraud and terrorism is clearly not among the issues that may be raised in a pre-proclamation controversy. They are proper grounds for an election protest. RULING Rule in favour of Defendant. The Siasi returns however, do not show prima facie that on the basis of the old List of Voters, there is actually a great excess of votes over what could have been legally cast considering that only 36,000 persons actually voted out of the 39,801 voters. Moreover, the Lagumbay case dealt with the "manufacture" of returns by those charged with their preparation as shown prima facie on the questioned returns themselves. Not so in this case which deals with the preparation of the registry list of voters, a matter that is not reflected on the face of said returns. Basically, therefore, petitioner's cause of action is the padding of the Siasi List of Voters, which, indeed, is not a listed ground for a pre- proclamation controversy. Moreover, the preparation of a voter's list is not a proceeding before the Board of Canvassers. A pre-proclamation controversy is limited to challenges directed against the Board of Canvassers, not the Board of Election Inspectors (Sanchez vs. COMELEC, ante), and such challenges should relate to specified election returns against which petitioner should have made specific verbal objections but did not. That the padding of the List of Voters may constitute fraud, or that the Board of Election Inspectors may have fraudulently conspired in its preparation, would not be a valid basis for a pre-proclamation controversy either. For, whenever irregularities, such as fraud, are asserted, the proper course of action is an election protest.