Political Law

CASE 1
ELECTION LAW
Pre-proclamation controversies and manifest errors

FACTS
Petitioner and private respondent Fernando Cabitac were candidates for ViceMayor of Taytay, Rizal during the May 2004 elections. Private respondent won the election and was proclaimed as Vice-Mayor. Petitioner after compiling all copies of election returns filed a petition for correction of manifest errors in the election returns and for a nullification of the proclamation of the private respondent as Vice-Mayor. The COMELEC First Division dismissed the petition and was affirmed by the COMELEC En Banc.

ISSUE
Whether or not COMELEC is required to go beyond the face of election returns

and make the necessary correction in a petition for correction of manifest errors in the election returns.

RULING
The COMELEC, in a petition for correction of manifest errors, is limited to an examination of the election returns on their face and is without jurisdiction to go beyond or behind the face of the returns.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition is DISMISSED for lack of merit, and the Resolutions dated June 30, 2006 and October 16, 2006 of the COMELEC First Division and En Banc, respectively, are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

[ADELINA TAMAYO-REYES, M.D. vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and FERNANDO R. CABITAC. G.R. No. 175121. June 8, 2007. Nachura, J.]

Digested By:

MARLON D. LEGURPA
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CASE 2
ELECTION LAW
Misinterpretation of profession or occupation in a certificate of candidacy

FACTS
Private respondent Ceasar Vicencio was a candidate for the post of punong barangay in the July 2002 Synchronized Barangay Election. In his certificate of candidacy, private respondent stated his profession as a certified public accountant. Private respondent won in the elections and was proclaimed. Petitioner charged him before the Law Department of the COMELEC of misrepresenting himself as a CPA and evidences were attached to the complaint.

ISSUE
Whether or not the respondent misrepresentation of profession or occupation

in the Certificate of Candidacy a valid ground for disqualification

RULING
Profession or occupation is not a qualification for elective office, and therefore not a material fact in the certificate of candidacy. A misrepresentation of a non-material fact is not a ground to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

[NELSON T. LLUZ and CATALINO C. ALDEOSA, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and CAESAR O. VICENCIO. G.R. No. 172840. June 7, 2007. Carpio, J.]

Digested By:

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CASE 3
ELECTION LAW
COMELEC exercise of grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction

FACTS
Domiciano R. Laurena, Jr. and Nestor L. Alvarez were candidates for mayor in the City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija in the May 10, 2004 elections. In the canvass of votes, Laurena obtained 13,321 votes while Alvarez garnered 16,855 votes. With the 3,534 votes difference Alvarez was proclaimed mayor of Muñoz on May 14, 2004. On May 22, 2004, Laurena, claiming that massive electoral fraud and irregularities attended Alvarez’s victory, filed an election protest impugning the results of the elections in all 175 precincts of Muñoz. In an Order, the Second Division denied protestee’s call for the dismissal of the case. It recognized that ballot revision is the most expeditious and the best means to determine the truth or falsity of protestant’s allegations. It likewise laid down the guidelines for the retrieval of the ballot boxes and directed the payment of the required cash deposits to defray revision expenses. With the admission of the parties’ respective formal offer of evidence and the submission of their memoranda, the Second Division issued the assailed Resolution dismissing the protest.

ISSUE
Whether or not COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction.

RULING
Well-settled is the rule that the will of the voters is embodied in the ballots, and to ascertain and carry out such will, the ballots must be read and appreciated according to the rule that every ballot is presumed valid unless there is clear and good reason to justify its rejection. On this matter, the findings of the COMELEC are accorded great respect, if not finality, by the Court. Votes cannot be nullified on the mere sweeping allegation of the petitioner that fraud and irregularity attended the election. Ample and credible evidence is necessary to back up such claim. This is especially true if the petitioner failed to make timely objections during the canvass of the votes, as in this case. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, affirming with modification the Resolution of the COMELEC is AFFIRMED.

[DOMICIANO R. LAURENA, JR., vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and NESTOR L. ALVAREZ G. R. No. 174499. June 29, 2007. Nachura, J]
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Digested By:

KRISTOFFER RAY Y. LAO

CASE 4
ELECTION LAW
Invalidation of valid ballots

FACTS
Cundangan and Chua were candidates for Punong Barangay for Barangay Sumilang, Pasig City in the July 15, 2002 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. After the canvass of votes, Cundangan was proclaimed as the duly elected Punong Barangay. On July 23, 2002, Chua filed an election protest which impugned the results of the canvass in all the 19 precincts of said barangay. After the revision proceedings were concluded, the trial court rendered a Decision dated September 26, 2003, affirming the proclamation of Cundangan. Unsatisfied with the decision of the trial court, Chua filed on October 14, 2003, an appeal with the COMELEC First Division. In its Resolution dated October 25, 2005, the COMELEC First Division reversed the trial court's Decision dated September 26, 2003, and accordingly declared Chua as the duly elected Punong Barangay of Barangay Sumilang, Pasig City. On November 2, 2005, Cundangan moved for a reconsideration of the said Resolution. However, the COMELEC En Banc, in its Resolution dated August 18, 2006, denied Cundangan's Motion for Reconsideration and affirmed the challenged Resolution of the COMELEC First Division.

ISSUE
Whether or not the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack and excess of jurisdiction in promulgating its assailed resolution when the COMELEC invalidated valid ballots of Cundangan as follows: a. Groups or sets of ballots totaling eighty seven (87) ballots of Cundangan allegedly as written as one person b. Single ballots totaling nineteen (19) valid ballots of Cundangan allegedly written by two persons c. Three (3) valid ballots of Cundangan allegedly as marked ballots

RULING
The Court holds that the COMELEC En Banc did not abuse its discretion in invalidating all of the aforesaid contested ballots.

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In the present petition, the court has more reason to respect the findings of the COMELEC En Banc with regard to the questioned ballots, considering that the same is consistent not only with the findings of the COMELEC First Division, but also those of the trial court. It must be stressed that the

appreciation of contested ballots and election documents involves a question of fact best left to the determination of the COMELEC, a specialized agency tasked with the supervision of elections all over the country. It is the constitutional commission vested with the exclusive original jurisdiction over election contests involving regional, provincial and city officials, as well as appellate jurisdiction over election protests involving elective municipal and barangay officials. Consequently, in the absence of grave abuse of discretion or any jurisdictional infirmity or error of law, the factual findings, conclusions, rulings and decisions rendered by the said Commission on matters falling within its competence shall not be interfered with by this Court. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed Resolutions of the COMELEC are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED.

[NELSON CUNDANGAN, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and CELESTINO V. CHUA. G.R. No. 174392. August 28, 2007. Quisumbing, J.]

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Digested By: MARTIN CRISOSTOMO Q. DENATE

CASE 5
ELECTION LAWS
Jurisdiction over an offense punishable under the Omnibus Election Code by imprisonment of not less than 1 year but not more than 6 years

FACTS
That on or about July 15, 2002 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections, in the City of Caloocan, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did, then and there, willfully and unlawfully, cast her vote in substitution of another person by misrepresenting herself to be Emely Genovia and voted in substitution of said Emely Genovia, a registered voter in Precinct No. 779-A, Barangay 60, Caloocan City. Under Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code, violation of any election offense: SECTION 264. election offense Penalties. — Any person found guilty of any under this Code shall be punished with

imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation. By Order of September 21, 2005, Caloocan RTC dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, it citing Section 32 (2) of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129 (The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980) reading: Sec. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases. — Except in cases falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and of the Sandiganbayan, the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise: (2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine regardless of other imposable accessory penalties, including the civil liability arising from such offenses or predicated ther eon, irrespective of kind, nature, or value amount thereof: Provided, however, That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal negligence, they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction thereof.

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The COMELEC moved to reconsider the trial court's dismissal order, inviting attention to Section 268 of the Omnibus Election Code which reads: SECTION 268. Jurisdiction of courts. — The regional trial court shall have the exclusive original jurisdiction to try and decide any criminal action or proceedings for violation of this Code, except those relating to the offense of failure to register or failure to vote which shall be under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan or municipal trial courts. From the decision of the courts, appeal will lie as in other criminal cases.

November 15, 2005, the trial court denied the COMELEC's motion for "lack of merit." Hence, the present petition for certiorari.

ISSUE
Whether or not the RTC have jurisdiction to try and decide criminal action or proceeding for violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

RULING
The petition is meritorious. The Court said, as correctly argued by the COMELEC, Section 268 of the Omnibus Election Code specifically provides, regional trial courts have exclusive jurisdiction to try and decide any criminal action or proceedings for violation of the Code "except those relating to the offense of failure to register or failure to vote." It bears emphasis that Congress has the plenary power to define, prescribe and apportion the jurisdictions of various courts. Hence, it may, by law, provide that a certain class of cases should be exclusively heard and determined by a specific court. Section 268 of Omnibus Election Code is one such and must thus be construed as an exception to BP Blg. 129, the general law on jurisdiction of courts. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Respondent judge is DIRECTED to reinstate the case to the court docket and to conduct appropriate proceedings thereon with reasonable dispatch. SO ORDERED.

[THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, vs. HON. THELMA CANLAS TRINIDAD-PE AGUIRRE, and MA. LEONISA GENOVIA. G.R. No. 171208. September 7, 2007. Carpio-Morales, J.]
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Digested By:

R’JAY L. PESTANO

CASE 6
ELECTION LAW
Grave abuse of discretion to the lack of and excess of jurisdiction.

FACTS
Petitioner Sales and respondent Thelma Benemerito (Benemerito) were both candidates for Mayor in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, in the 10 May 2004 local elections. The Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed Sales as the duly elected Mayor of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Aggrieved, Benemerito filed an election protest before the RTC questioning the results in 54 precincts in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, on the ground that literate voters were allowed to vote as illiterates. In his answer to the protest, Sales claimed that Benemerito's allegations were misplaced and unsubstantiated, and he instituted a counter-protest also assailing the results of the 10 May 2004 local elections.

ISSUE
Whether there is a grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, on the part of the COMELEC in affirming the questionable Orders of the RTC.

RULING
It is a rule of universal application, almost, that courts of justice constituted to pass upon substantial rights will not consider questions in which no actual interests are involved; they decline jurisdiction of moot cases. And where the issue has become moot and academic, there is no justiciable controversy, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical use or value.

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There is no actual substantial relief to which petitioners would be entitled and which would be negated by the dismissal of the petition. Sales's term as mayor of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, as a result of the 10 May 2004 elections expired on 30 June 2007, thus, the present Petition has been rendered moot and academic. SO ORDERED.

[MARLON T. SALES vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL. September 12, 2007. Chico-Nazario, J.]

Digested by:

MARTIN CRISOSTOMO Q. DENATE

CASE 7
ELECTION LAW
A Government employee who has been separated from the civil service by operation of law pursuant to Section 66 of the omnibus Election code may still be administratively charged under civil service laws, rules and regulations

FACTS
While the petitioner was employed as Cashier IV of the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Benguet, it was discovered that in her accountabilities she had incurred a shortage of P1,424,289.99. On January 12 1998, the Provincial Treasurer wrote a letter directing petitioner to explain why no administrative charge should be filed against her in connection with the cash shortage. On January 16, 1998, petitioner filed her Certificate of Candidacy for the position of Councilor in Baguio City. The Office of the Provincial Governor of Benguet found the existence of a prima facie case for dishonesty, grave misconduct and malversation of public funds through falsification of official documents and directed the petitioner to file an answer. The Provincial Governor also issued Executive Order No. 98-02, creating an ad hoc committee composed of herein respondents to investigate and submit findings relative to the administrative charges against petitioner. On February 10, 1998, petitioner filed her Answer before the Office of the Provincial Governor. Petitioner alleged that she had merely acted under the express direction of her supervisor. On February 19, 1998, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the administrative case on the ground that the committee created to investigate her case had no jurisdiction over the subject of the action and over her person. In its Decision on January 4, 1999, the trial court ruled in favor of the petitioner. It noted that the most severe penalty which may be imposed on the petitioner is removal from

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service, and that under Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code, petitioner was already deemed resigned when she filed her Certificate of Candidacy on 16 January 1998. Thus, it declared that even if the committee created by the Provincial Governor had the jurisdiction to hear the administrative case against the petitioner, such case was now moot and academic.

ISSUE
Whether or not a government employee who has been separated from the civil service by operation of law pursuant to Section 66 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 (The Omnibus Election Code) may still be administratively charged under Civil Service laws, rules and regulations.

RULING
Petitioner argues that a government employee who has been separated from service, whether by voluntary resignation or by operation of law, can no longer be administratively charged. Such

argument is devoid of merit. A case becomes moot and academic only when there is no more actual controversy between the parties or no useful purpose can be served in passing upon the merits of the case. The instant case is not moot and academic, despite the petitioner's separation from government service. Clearly, the act of filing a Certificate of Candidacy while one is employed in the civil service constitutes a just cause for termination of employment for appointive officials. Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code, in considering an appointive official ipso facto resigned, merely provides for the immediate implementation of the penalty for the prohibited act of engaging in partisan political activity. This provision was not intended, and should not be used, as a defense against an administrative case for acts committed during government service. Thus, the Provincial Governor acted in accordance with law when it ordered the creation of an independent body to investigate the administrative complaint filed against petitioner for dishonesty, grave misconduct and malversation of public funds through falsification of official documents in connection with acts committed while petitioner was employed as Cashier IV in the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Benguet. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. The Office of the Provincial Governor of Benguet is DIRECTED to

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proceed with Administrative Case No. 98-01 against the petitioner, Esther S. Pagano, for dishonesty, grave misconduct and malversation of public funds through falsification of official documents. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED.

[ESTHER S. PAGANO vs. JUAN NAZARRO, Jr., ROSALINE Q. ELAYDA, RODRIGO P. KITO and ERNESTO M. CELINO. G.R. No. 149072. September 21, 2007. Chico-Nazario, J.]

Digested By:

R’JAY L. PESTANO

CASE 8
ELECTION LAW
Correctness in the number of votes and the tribunal jurisdiction exercising ministerial functions

FACTS
On June 23, 2004, Congress sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBC) proclaimed protestee Noli L. de Castro the duly elected Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines. On July 23, 2004, the protestant filed this protest with this Tribunal praying for the annulment of the protestee's proclamation as the duly elected Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines. The protest has two main parts. The First Aspect originally covered all the erroneous, and falsified results. The Second Aspect required revision of ballots in 124,404 precincts specified in the protest. It is the protestant herself who admits that she was able to adduce evidence only in Taraka and Balindong, for lack of time. The protestant has been afforded ample opportunity to adduce evidence in her behalf for the First Aspect of the protest but the evidence presented is simply insufficient to convince the Tribunal.

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ISSUE
1. Are the number of votes correct in which that the process of correcting the manifest errors in the certificates of canvass or election returns is a function of the canvassing bodies? 2. Whether or not the authority of the Tribunal to exercise of judicial power in determining the facts based on the evidence presented and its application to the law based on the established facts also covers the performance of the ministerial function of canvassing election returns.

RULING
On the matter of sufficiency of the protest, protestee failed to adduce new substantial arguments to reverse our ruling. In the instant protest, protestant enumerated all the provinces, municipalities and cities where she questions all the results in all the precincts therein. The protest here is sufficient in form and substantively, serious enough on its face to pose a challenge to protestee's title to his office. In our view, the instant protest consists of alleged ultimate facts, not mere conclusions of law, that need to be proven in due time. The protest is only sufficient for the Tribunal to proceed and give the protestant the opportunity to prove her case pursuant to Rule 61 of the PET Rules. Although said rule only pertains to revision of ballots, nothing herein prevents the Tribunal from allowing or including the correction of manifest errors, pursuant to the Tribunal's rule-making power under Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution.

The court DISMISSES the First Aspect of the protest for lack of legal and factual basis, as the pilot-tested revision of ballots or re-tabulation of the certificates of canvass would not affect the winning margin of the protestee in the final canvass of the returns, in addition to the ground of abandonment or withdrawal by reason of protestant's candidacy for, election to and assumption of the office of Senator of the Philippines. The Second Aspect, having been already DISMISSED, pursuant to Rule 33 of this Tribunal, the entire Protest is now deemed DISMISSED and TERMINATED. SO ORDERED.

[LOREN B. LEGARDA vs. NOLI L. DE CASTRO. P.E.T. Case No. 003. January 18, 2008. Quisumbing, J.]

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Digested By:

DONDI M. BANARES

CASE 9
ELECTION LAW
Jurisdiction of COMELEC jurisdiction over pre-proclamation controversies in the first instance

FACTS
Petitioner Randy C. Cambe contends that the COMELEC en banc gravely abused its discretion in dismissing petitioner's appeal from the May 22, 2007 Ruling of public respondent Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) of Lasam, Cagayan, which granted herein private respondent Dominador M. Go's petition to exclude from the canvass Election Return No. 9601666 (for clustered precinct numbers 66 and 68, Barangay Nabannagan East), resulting in the proclamation on even date of Go as the duly elected eighth (8th) Member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Lasam, Cagayan. Petitioner and Go were candidates during the May 14, 2007 elections for Sangguniang Bayan members of the municipality of Lasam, Cagayan.

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Go orally moved for its exclusion on the ground that said return was allegedly manufactured. He alleged that the integrity of said return is questionable as the total number of votes cast for the vice-mayoralty candidates exceeded the number of registered voters. MBC proclaimed the winners for the position of mayor, vice-mayor, and 7 Sangguniang Bayan Members, leaving the canvassing of the questioned return for the 8th slot pending. MBC issued a ruling excluding Election Return No. 9601666 on the ground of "fraud, material defect, tamper[ing], and statistical improbability. MBC proclaimed Go as the 8th duly elected member of the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Lasam, Cagayan. Petitioner contends that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in excluding Election Return No. 9601666 in the canvas of votes which led to the proclamation of Go as the 8th elected member of the Sangguniang Bayan

ISSUES
1. Whether the COMELEC en banc had jurisdiction over pre-proclamation controversies in the first instance; 2. Whether the proclamation of Go is valid. 3. Whether the COMELEC acted properly in sustaining the ruling of the MBC which out rightly excluded the questioned election return.

RULING
The court GRANTED the petition. Resolution No. 8212 of the Commission on Elections en banc dated June 28, 2007 is SET ASIDE insofar as SPC Case No. 07212 is concerned. The Commission is ordered to raffle said case to one of its divisions, which is hereby directed to resolve the same with deliberate dispatch. In the meantime, the position for the eighth (8th) Member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Lasam, Cagayan is DECLARED VACANT. SO ORDERED.

[RANDY C. CAMBE, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; THE MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF LASAM, CAGAYAN; and DOMINADOR M. GO. G.R. No. 178456. January 30, 2008. YnaresSantiago, J.]

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Digested By:

MARIAN C. SALDANA

CASE 10
ELECTION LAW
Contention on the COMELEC’s grave abuse of its discretion in issuing the challenged resolutions

FACTS
In the May 14, 2007 national and local elections, petitioners ran for the local positions (mayor, vice-mayor and councilor) in Lapu-Lapu City. At the start of and during the canvassing, petitioners questioned the composition of the Board of Canvassers (BOC), and objected to the inclusion of several election returns (ERs). As the BOC ruled against them, petitioners filed their notices of appeal, and initiated with the COMELEC a Pre-Proclamation Petition seeking the declaration of the composition and the proceedings of the BOC as illegal. Petitioners also filed an Appeal with the COMELEC, praying for the non-inclusion in the canvass of 182 ERs.

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On May 25, 2007, the COMELEC issued the first assailed Order directing the BOC to proclaim the winning candidates in the official canvass. On the following day, the BOC proclaimed private respondents as the duly elected officials of LapuLapu City. Dissatisfied, petitioners moved for the recall and/or nullification of the said proclamation on May 29, 2007. On June 4, 2007, the COMELEC First Division rendered the second assailed Resolution dismissing the said case. Then petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the said Resolution. On June 28, 2007, the COMELEC en banc issued the third assailed Resolution No. 8212 or the Omnibus Resolution on Pending Cases. Discontented with the said COMELEC issuances, petitioners, on July 26, 2007, instituted the instant petition for certiorari under Rule 65. Respondents countered, that COMELEC Resolution No. 8212 could not be questioned via a petition for certiorari because it was not issued in the COMELEC’s exercise of quasi-judicial functions but was issued in the exercise of its power to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of elections as enunciated in Section 52 of the OEC. Furthermore, the petition was filed beyond the 30-day reglementary period for questioning via certiorari final orders and resolutions of the COMELEC.

ISSUE
Whether petitioners have sufficiently shown that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in issuing the challenged resolutions.

RULING
In the present case, petitioners have not sufficiently shown that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in excluding their cases from the list of those that shall continue.

The court cited following guidelines on the appropriate recourse to assail COMELEC resolutions issued pursuant to Section 16 of R.A. No. 7166. 1. if a pre-proclamation case is excluded from the list of those (annexed to the Omnibus Resolution on Pending Cases) that shall continue after the beginning of the term of the office involved, the remedy of the aggrieved party is to timely file a certiorari petition assailing the Omnibus Resolution before the Court under Rules 64 and 65, regardless of whether a COMELEC division is yet to issue a definitive ruling in the main case or the COMELEC

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en banc is yet to act on a motion for reconsideration filed if there is any. 2. if a pre-proclamation case is dismissed by a COMELEC division and, on the same date of dismissal or within the period to file a motion for reconsideration, the COMELEC en banc excluded the said case from the list annexed to the Omnibus 3. if a pre-proclamation case is dismissed by a COMELEC division but, on the same date of dismissal or within the period to file a motion for reconsideration, the COMELEC en banc included the case in the list annexed to the Omnibus Resolution, the remedy of the aggrieved party is to timely file a motion for reconsideration with the COMELEC en banc. The reason for this is that the challenge to the ruling of the COMELEC division will have to be resolved definitively by the entire body. The Court notes that with the proclamation of the winning candidates for the positions contested, the question of whether the petition raised issues proper for a pre-proclamation controversy is already of no consequence, since the wellentrenched rule in such situation is that a pre-proclamation case before the COMELEC is no longer viable, the more appropriate remedy being a regular election protest or a petition for quo warranto. The court DISMISSED the petition for certiorari. SO ORDERED.

[NORMA PATALINGHUG, EUGENE ESPEDIDO, REYNALDO BERDIN, NORMAN CODILLA,BOBIE CUENCA, EFREN HERRERA, LORENZO IGOT, JR., ALBERTINO MATA, JR., MICHAEL CZAR OUANO, RAMON PATALINGHUG, FRANCISCO SENERPIDA and CHARLES VAILOCES, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ARTURO RADAZA, MARIO AMORES, QUEENIE AMMANN, JUNARD CHAN, EDUARDO CUIZON, ALEXANDER GESTOPA, JR., DAMIAN GOMEZ, JR., CORNELIO PAHAYAG, RODOLFO POTOT, FLORITO POZON, MELISSA VIDAL, MARCIAL YCONG, ATTY. ANN JANETTE CHUAHU LAMBAN, CITY ELECTION OFFICER, LEONILO OLIVA, ATTY. EVANGELINE GICALE, AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CITY BOARD OF CANVASSERS. G.R. No. 178767. January 30, 2008. Nachura, J]
Digested By:

DONDI M. BANARES

CASE 11
ELECTION LAW
Administrative complaint for gross ignorance of the law, abuse of authority and disobedience to a superior order

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FACTS
The controversy started when the questioned Order dated June 5, 2002 was issued in Election Case (EC) No. 19, directing the resumption of revision of ballots on June 10, 2002, which Order was merely stamped “Original Signed” by respondent Clerk of Court upon the alleged instruction of respondent Judge. Prior to the issuance of the Order dated June 5, 2002, the following facts, as narrated in complainant’s position paper, are undisputed:

1.

Complainant was the incumbent Mayor of the Municipality of

Paluan, Occidental Mindoro, having been elected in the local election of May 2001;

2.

Sometime in May 2001, the losing mayoralty candidate Pablo T. De

Ocampo, filed an election protest against Pangilinan, before the Regional Trial Court – Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. 3. That the Revision Committee was created with respondent Atty. That sometime July 25, 2002, complainant Shirley Pangilinan filed a That conformably with the Petition for Certiorari, the COMELEC That in the said Order, the COMELEC directed the parties to Cirilo Q. Tejoso, as the Head Revisor;

4. 5. 6.

Petition for Certiorari before the COMELEC. issued an Order dated November 13, 2001. maintain the status quo until further notice from the Second Division considering that the twenty (20) day restraining order issued in the case on November 13, 2001would soon expire and in order not to render the case moot and academic; 7. reads: “ACCORDINGLY, the Court has nothing to do but to defer the revision of ballots in the remaining precincts of the above-entitled case, and instead let this case be held in abeyance until receipt of the Order from the Second Division, Commission on Election.” From the time that the questioned Order dated June 5, 2002 was issued by respondent Judge directing the revision of ballots in ECC No. 19, the parties presented their respective versions, as follows: That conformably with the said Order, the Presiding Judge on December 11, 2001, issued an Order, the dispositive portion of which

COMPLAINANT’S VERSION June 5, 2002, the Presiding Judge issued an Order directing the revision of the ballot for the remaining precincts to commence on June 10, 2002 at 9:00 o’clock

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in the morning and 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, pursuant to the Order of the Commission on Elections dated May 24, 2002 thru Villarosa, protestant. That on June 10, 2002, complainant filed an Urgent motion for Postponement with Clarification and Manifestation; despite the said Urgent Motion for Postponement with Manifestation and Clarification, it proceeded with the revision, in clear defiance of the status quo Order dated November 13, 2001. Respondent’s Order dated June 5, 2002 directing the resumption of the revision on June 10, 2002, was not in accordance with the Order, dated May 24, 2002 of the COMELEC. That the COMELEC issued an Order dated 11 June 2002 which effectively restrained the Presiding Judge in hearing the case. That it was only on account of the issuance of the said Order that the respondents stopped the revision of the ballot boxes. RESPONDENT’S VERSION On June 05, 2002, the respondent judge, while holding trial of several cases pending before his sala, received an important and urgent call asking him to come to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, which is more or less 173 kilometers far from Mamburao, his official station, on the same date to attend to some important official business, i.e. dialogue with IBP-Occidental Mindoro Chapter, but taking into account the Order dated May 24, 2002 issued by the Commission on Elections and the policy of preferential disposition of election cases because the term of local officials is only three (3) years, he immediately instructed respondent Clerk of Court to prepare for him and issue an Order for the resumption of revision of ballots commencing on June 10, 2002, giving the latter an authority to do the signing by using the stamped “original signed” since the respondent judge had to leave and could not wait to sign the Order by virtue of the above-mentioned important calling; The Revision Committee resumed their duties in the revision of ballots on June 10, 2002 despite and the “Urgent Motion filed for by Postponement with Clarification Manifestation” Commissioner Mehol K. Sadain issued in Comelec Case entitled “Ricardo Quintos, protestee vs. Jose

Protestee, Shirley Pangilinan, thru counsel, on the same date at 8:45 in the morning; When respondent judge reported back to office on June 11, 2002, he signed the challenged order while the Revision Committee was conducting revision of ballots in the Session Hall of the Court. The revision of ballots lasted until June 11, 2002. To formally suspended the revision of ballots, the Court issued an Order on June

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13, 2002 ordering the Revision Committee to cease and desist from opening the ballot boxes involved in the protest,

ISSUES
1. Whether or not the order date June 5, 2002 of respondent judge directing revision of ballots to commence on June 10, 2002 was issued with gross ignorance of the law tantamount to gross inefficiency. 2. Whether or not the various COMELEC orders were inconsistent or ambiguous which provided reasonable basis for the issuance of the June 5, 2002 order.

RULING
The Order dated June 5, 2002 directing, without qualification, the revision of ballots for the remaining precincts to commence on June 10, 2002 pursuant to the Comelec Order of May 24, 2002, is erroneous, for it failed to take into account that said Comelec Order covered only certain ballot boxes in specified precincts, not all the ballot boxes protested in EC No. 19 before respondent Judge. While the erroneous interpretation by respondent Judge of the Comelec Order dated May 24, 2002 may not be considered gross ignorance of the law, his failure to rectify his Order dated June 5, 2002 when complainant filed an urgent motion for postponement with manifestation and clarification, constitutes gross inefficiency. WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Inocencio M. Jaurigue is found GUILTY of gross inefficiency, serious misconduct and gross neglect of duty and is hereby SUSPENDED from office, without pay, for six (6) months. Respondent Clerk of Court Atty. Cirilo Q. Tejoso, Jr. is hereby REPRIMANDED for failure to exercise reasonable diligence in the performance of his duty with a warning that a repetition of the same will be more severely dealt with.

[MAYOR SHIRLEY PANGILINAN vs. JUDGE INOCENCIO M. JAURIGUE, and ATTY. CIRILO Q. TEJOSO, JR. A.M. No. RTJ-082100. January 31, 2008. Azcuna, J]

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Digested By: MARIAN C. SALDANA

CASE 12
ELECTION LAW
Base on Resolution No. 8073, which party is the proper party at interest to take the seat

FACTS
Petitioner Imelda Dimaporo and private respondent Vicente Belmonte were both candidates for Representative of the 1st Congressional District of Lanao del Norte during the May 14, 2007 elections. The said legislative district is composed of seven (7) towns and one (1) city. PBOC issued a Certification showing respondent Belmonte in the lead, with 52,783 votes, followed by candidate Badelles with 39,315 votes, and petitioner Dimaporo in third place with only 35,150 votes. In the NBI report dated May 24, 2007, the culprit(s) managed to enter the room of the Vice-Governor which he/she used as a staging and hiding place while persons are still allowed to enter the building during the canvassing. On the night of May 19, 2007 the culprit(s) hide (sic) in the said room and waited until there were no persons allowed inside the building except the provincial guard on duty who was manning the ground floor at the area near the entrance door. The culprit(s) then entered the Session Hall by using some hard ID Card or any similar object which was inserted in between the door and door-lock, and once inside specifically destroyed the padlocks of the ballot boxes for the Municipalities of Bacolod, Maigo and Kauswagan. Thereafter, on May 25, 2007, COMELEC issued Resolution No. 8073 promulgated on May 25, 2007 directing the PBOC of Lanao del Norte to immediately reconvene solely for the purpose of retrieving the three envelopes supposedly containing the COCs from the municipalities of Kauswagan, Bacolod and Maigo and to œopen the same in the presence of all watchers, counsels, and representatives of all contending parties and the accredited Citizens Arm of the Commission and right there and then to direct the representatives of the dominant majority and minority parties to present their respective copies of the COCs for comparison with the COCs intended for the COMELEC and with the COCs inside the envelope just opened. On June 1, 2007, the new SPBOC convened and opened the ballot boxes for the towns of Kauswagan, Maigo and Bacolod. Private respondent Belmonte objected to the inclusion of the COCs of the concerned municipalities. Section 1-D

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The SPBOC denied Belmonte objections due to lack of jurisdiction. The House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), with jurisdiction over the case as Belmonte has, with the taking of his oath, declared as the winner.

ISSUE
Who among Dimaporo and Belmonte will take a seat as a representative of 1st Congressional District of Lanao del Norte as Resolution No. 8073 was amended?

RULING
The petition is DISMISSED. Section 15 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7166. Preproclamation Cases in Elections for President, Vice-President, Senator, and Member of the House of Representatives. — For purpose of the elections for president, vice-president, senator, and member of the House of Representatives, no pre-proclamation cases shall be allowed on matters relating to the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and appreciation of election returns or the certificates of canvass, as the case may be, except as provided for in Sec. 30 hereof. However, this does not preclude the authority of the appropriate canvassing body motu proprio or upon written complaint of an interested person to correct manifest errors in the certificate of canvass or election returns before it.

[IMELDA Q. DIMAPORO vs. COMELEC and VICENTE BELMONTE. G.R. No. 179285. February 11, 2008. Reyes, R.T., J.]

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Digested by:

RENEFRID T. TEJERO

CASE 13
ELECTION LAW
Disqualification and Cancellation of the Certificate of Candidacy

FACTS
Petitioner Florante Quizon and private respondent Roberto V. Puno were congressional candidates during the May 14, 2007 national and local elections. On April 17, 2007, Quizon filed a Petition for Disqualification and Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy against Puno to disqualified him to run as candidate in Antipolo City for failure to meet the residency requirement prior to the day of election. Puno claimed in his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) that he is a resident Antipolo City for four years and six months before May 14, 2007 constitutes a material misrepresentation since he was in fact a resident of Quezon City. On June 5, 2007, Quizon filed this Petition for Mandamus alleging that the COMELEC had not rendered a judgment on the above-mentioned petitions and that the unreasonable delay in rendering judgment deprived him of his right to be declared as the winner and assume the position of member of the House of Representatives. Puno argues that the petition for mandamus was mooted by the July 31, 2007 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division. He also alleged that the petition must be dismissed for the act sought to be performed is a discretionary and not a ministerial duty. The Office of the Solicitor General agrees that the petition for mandamus was mooted by the July 31, 2007 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division. Any question regarding Puno qualifications now pertains to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

ISSUE
Is Petition for Disqualification and Cancellation of the Certificate of Candidacy of Roberto V. Puno valid? Section 1-D

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RULING
The instant Petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. Respondent is a resident of the 1st District of Antipolo City, and is thus qualified to run as a Member of the House of Representatives of the same district.

Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code 11 provides that petitions to deny due course or cancel a certificate of candidacy should be resolved, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election. In construing this provision together with Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 or The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987, 12 this Court declared in Salcedo II v. COMELEC 13 that the fifteen-day period in Section 78 is merely directory. Thus: If the petition is filed within the statutory period and the candidate is subsequently declared by final judgment to be disqualified before the election, he 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 the Comelec shall continue with the 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 his guilt is strong. The fifteen-day period in section 78 for deciding the petition is merely directory.

[FLORANTE S. QUIZON, vs. HON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (SECOND DIVISION), MANILA, ATTY. ARNULFO H. PIOQUINTO (ELECTION OFFICER, ANTIPOLO CITY) and ROBERTO VILLANUEVA PUNO. G.R. No. 177927. February 15, 2008. ]

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Digested By:

RENEFRID T. TEJERO

CASE 14
ELECTION LAW
Alleged manipulation of votes as evidenced by a tape known as the Graci tapein violation of he wiretapping law

FACTS
The case originates in 2004 local and national elections. Pres. Sec. Ignacio Bunye informed reporters that opposition plan to destabilize the administration by releasing an audiotape of a mobile phone conversation allegedly between Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and a high ranking officials of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Alleging that the President had instructed the COMELEC official to manipulate the election results in favor of the President. On June 07, 2005, former counsel of deposed President Joseph Estrada through Atty. Alan Paguia, released an alleged authentic tape recording of the wiretap. On June 09, 2005, Secretary Gonzales ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to go after media organization who alleged Pres. Arroyo about fixing votes in 2004 national elections. Rel;ative thereto, it has come to the attention of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) that certain personalities are in possession of alleged tape conversation which they claim involved the President of the Philippines and a commissioner of the COMELEC regarding supposed violation of election laws. On June 24, 2004, Congress acts as the national board of canvassers proclaimed President Arroyo winner of the 2004 presidential election with the total number of votes 12, 905, 808 votes, 1, 123, 576 more than the votes of her nearest rival Fernando Poe, Jr. Sometime before June 06, 2005, DZMM a radio station aired the Garci Tapes where the parties to the conversation discussed “rigging” the results of the 2004 election to favor President Arroyo.

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Thus the publication of election surveys cannot be subject to prior restraint , 28 but an aggrieved person can sue for redress of injury if the survey turns out to be fabricated. The content of the Garci Tapes affect the sanctity of the ballot that cannot be subject to prior restraint. Public discussion of the credibility of electoral process is one of the highest political expressions of any electorate, and thus deserves the utmost protection.

ISSUE
Whether or not the alleged manipulation of votes during the 2004 Presidential Election be subjected throught the Garci Tape.

RULING
The petition is GRANTED. The writs of certiorari and prohibition are hereby issued, nullifying the official statements made by respondents on June 8, and 11, 2005 warning the media on airing the alleged wiretapped conversation between the President and other personalities, for constituting unconstitutional prior restraint on the exercise of freedom of speech and of the press. It was ruled that not every violation of a law will justify straitjacketing the exercise of freedom of speech and of the press. Our laws are of different kinds and doubtless, some of them provide norms of conduct which even if violated have only an adverse effect on a person's private comfort but does not endanger national security. There are laws of great significance but their violation, by itself and without more, cannot support suppression of free speech and free press. In fine, violation of law is just a factor, a vital one to be sure, which should be weighed in adjudging whether to restrain freedom of speech and of the press. There is enough evidence of chilling effect of the complained acts on record. The warnings given to media came from no less the NTC, a regulatory agency that can cancel the Certificate of Authority of the radio and broadcast media. They also came from the Secretary of Justice, the alter ego of the Executive, who wields the awesome power to prosecute those perceived to be violating the laws of the land. After the warnings, the KBP inexplicably joined the NTC in issuing an ambivalent Joint Press Statement. After the warnings, petitioner Chavez was left alone to fight this battle for freedom of speech and of the press.

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This silence on the sidelines on the part of some media practitioners is too deafening to be the subject of misinterpretation.

[FRANCISCO CHAVEZ, vs. RAUL M. GONZALES and NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (NTC). G. R. No. 168338. February 15, 2008. Puno, C.J.]

Digested By:

RENEFRID T. TEJERO

CASE 15
ELECTION LAW
Commission on Elections gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction

FACTS
On June 25, 2002 petitioner complained, addressed to the COMELEC Commissioner-in-charge for ARMM Mejol K. Sadain, about the merger of Bangco, alleged to be a barangay, with Barangay Basak on the ground that “Barangay Bangco is not and never was a part of Barangay Basak.” For several elections, the COMELEC registered the voters from Bangco together with the voters of Barangay Basak under Precinct No. 68A, Municipality of Madalum, Lanao del Sur. Petitioner submitted in evidence the Oath of Office of barangay officials of

Barangay Bangco in the 1994 barangay elections and the Certificate of Canvas and Proclamation of Winning Candidates of Barangay Bangco in the 1997 Barangay Elections to show that Bangco was considered a separate barangay in the 1994 and 1997 barangay elections. Petitioner prayed that an Order be issued directing Municipal Election Officer Abbas Asira or his successor to separate the voters of Bangco from the certified list of registered voters of Barangay Basak and to prevent the registered voters of Bangco from running for elective office in Basak. The barangay election in Barangay Basak/Bangco scheduled on July 15, 2002 was declared a failure. On August 5, 2002, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 5479 setting the special barangay election in Barangay Basak/Bangco on August 10, 2002, which was later reset to August 13, 2002. On August 9, 2002, the

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COMELEC issued Resolution No. 5503 amending Resolution No. 5479, and declaring that the special barangay election in Barangay Basak/Bangco scheduled on August 13, 2002 was held in abeyance pending the investigation on the merger of Bangco with Barangay Basak. However, on August 13, 2002, respondent Election Officer Abbas Asira ordered the holding of the special barangay election in Barangay Basak/Bangco because he did not receive a copy of Resolution No. 5503. Petitioner and his counsel reported the incident to the COMELEC Commissioner-in-charge for ARMM, who was in a conference at the Marawi Resort Hotel, Marawi City. The Commissioner summoned Election Officer Asira to see him in Marawi City, and he informed Asira to stop the barangay election pursuant to Resolution No. 5503. Upon Asira’s return to Barangay Basak/Bangco, the casting of votes had been completed. The COMELEC en banc issued Minute Resolution No. 03-0062 favorably acting on the petition for immediate counting and proclamation of winning candidates in Barangay Basak/Bangco after the COMELEC Law Department found that Basak and Bangco had been considered to comprise one barangay and recommended the proclamation of winning candidates for Barangay and SK. On February 19, 2003, petitioner, a losing candidate for Punong Barangay in the August 13, 2002 Special Barangay Elections, filed a petition to annul the proclamation of private respondents as the winning candidates of Barangay Basak, Madalum, Lanao del Sur and to affirm the nullity of the August 13, 2002 Special Barangay Elections in Barangay Basak/Bangco, docketed as SPC No. 03001. In a Resolution, the COMELEC, Second Division, denied the petition for lack of merit, and affirmed the proclamation of private respondents as the duly elected officials of Barangay Basak/Bangco.

ISSUE
Whether or not the respondent Commission gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it authorized the merger of Barangay Basak and Barangay Bangco treating it as one barangay

RULING
Petition is DISMISSED. Cost against petitioner. In its Resolution dated May 12, 2005, the COMELEC, Second Division, stated that the special barangay election of August 13, 2002 “was never rendered annulled by the [COMELEC] en banc, which has the sole discretion to annul elections.” Resolution No. 5503 only ordered that the subject special barangay election of August 13, 2002 be held in abeyance pending the ongoing investigation of the Section 1-D

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validity of the merger of Barangay Basak and Bangco. However, the said order was not implemented because Election Officer Asira only learned about it for the first time from the Commissioner-in-charge for ARMM in Marawi City while the election proceedings were ongoing. Although Election Officer Asira was told to stop the said barangay election, the casting of votes had been completed when he arrived in Barangay Basak. The COMELEC stated that the order to hold the subject election in abeyance was not implemented because it “came to the knowledge of the voters only after the casting of votes.” It also held that the Election Officer acted appropriately when he proceeded with the election in the absence of any official document directing him to hold the election in abeyance.

ALIZAMAN S. SANGCOPAN, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, GREENSTAR BOCAY MANGAN-DINGAN, NAIFA BUCAY MANGANDINGAN, AGAKHAN GUINAL MACALUPANG, ABOLKHAIR TAGORANAO ALAWI, SAIDOMAR ABDULNASSER ALI, SAMSODEN GUINAL MACADATO, NORAIN ANGNI MACMOD, MACAPUNDAG GUINAL MACMOD (BASAK/BANGCO). G.R. No. 170216. March 12, 2008. Azcuna, J.]

Digested by:

MARIE ZOL B. SANDOY

CASE 16
ELECTION LAW
Pre-proclamation Controversy

FACTS
On 4 July 2007 Petitioner Aquilino Pimentel III filed the present for the petition for certiorari and mandamus with urgent prayer for temporary restraining order and or status quo Ante order. The petition stemmed from the 14 May 2007 national election for the national senatorial post. At the time of the petition eleven candidates with the highest number of votes had already been officially proclaim and had taken their oath of office as senators. The only remaining candidate for the twelve and final senatorial post were Pimentel and private respondent Zubiri Public respondent COMELEC EN BANC acting as the national board of canvassers continued to canvass proceeding so as to determine the twelve and the last senatorial post in the national 2007 election.

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Pimentel assailed the proceeding of the NBC and its constituted SPBOC relative to the canvass of the provincial and municipal certificate of canvass from the municipality of maguindanao on the ground that the original proceeding of PBOC chaired by PES Lintang Bedol were marked by irregularities and other related electoral documents submitted by PBOC were tainted with fraud and statistically improbable. Pimentel further maintain that despite of the repeated question of his counsel regarding the due execution and authenticity of maguindanao MCOCs the SPOBC simply noted without specific action thereon. Pimentel further averred said canvass proceeding were conducted by NBC and SPBOC in violation of his constitutional right to have substantial due process when the respondent SPBOC and NBC adopted an unconstitutional proceeding when they disallow the petitioner to have an opportunity to raise question on the COCs. The petitioner allege denial of his right to equal protection of law, at the same time, the National Board of Canvasser acted with manifest grave abuse of discretion when it refuse to exercise its broad plenary power in fully or accurately ascertaining due execution, authenticity and fitness for the canvass of MCOCs collected by the COMELEC. Thus, petition seek from this court are the following; 1. issue a temporary restraining order enjoining the respondent COMELEC EN BANC setting as NBC for senators from proceeding with any proclamation of the twelve and the last members of the may 14 2007 election for senators based on 2. the on-going senatorial canvass which include the new/second provincial certificate of canvass of maguindanao until further order from this court or in the alternative in the event that the proclamation of respondent zubiri is made before the application for the TRO is acted upon issue a status quo ante order requiring the parties to observe the status quo at the time of filling of the petition. 3. After proceeding render judgment annulling and setting aside for being unconstitutional and illegal the proceeding of the respondent COMELEC EN BANC setting as the NBC of may 14 2007 senatorial election by including on june 29 2007 in the canvass of votes for senator the result from the province of maguinadanoa as reflected in it new/ second provincial certificate of canvass.

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4. Compelling or ordering respondent NBC and its deputy the SPBOC to perform their ministerial constitutional duty of fully determining the due execution and authenticity of the MCOCs including but not limited to allowing the petitioner to substantiate his claim of manufactured result and profound question to the other officer concerned. Zubiri filed with this court a manifestation with motion to dismiss on the ground that his proclamation pursuant to resolution no NBC no. 07-67 and his formal assumption of office controversies involving his election and qualification as senator are now within the exclusive jurisdiction of the senate electoral tribunal. Pimentel filed before this court his comment/opposition to the private respondent manifestation with motion to dismiss citing the case of AGGABAO VS COMELEC to be not applicable in the instance case because therein the petitioner Aggabaon filed hid petition before this court after the proclamation of therein respondent Miranda while in the present case Pimentel filed his petition before the court prior to the proclamation of Zubiri as senator. Moreover, Pimentel asserted that his petition question not Zubiri proclamation but the conduct of the canvass proceeding before the NBC and SPBOC Maguindanao.

ISSUE
1. Is the continued proceeding of the COMELEC en banc setting as the NBC for senators is violations of Pimentel’s right of due process and equal protection of law enshrine in the Constitution? 2. Is the exception under Sec. 15 and 30 of RA 7166 as amended by RA 9369 authorized the local board of canvassers to decide pre-proclamation controversy affecting the election of the senators? 3. Is the continued proceeding of the COMELEC en banc without consideration of the questions of the petitioner regarding the irregularities in the canvass of votes in the provincial board of canvassers unconstitutional?

4.

Is Certiorari and mandamus lies against the continued proceeding of

the COMELEC en banc setting as the NBC for the election of the senators?

RULING
The petition for certiorari and mandamus is DISMISSED for lack of legal basis because of the following reason to wit:

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Pimentel’s objection to the maguindanao MCOC delve into matters relating to the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and appreciation of the said tampering MCOC’s and the SPBOC and maguindanao. He is raising an issue related to tampering with falsification of or discrepancies in maguindanao MCOC, which are supposedly subject of a preproclamation controversy. Under section 15 and 30 of RA 7166 as amended by RA 9369 preproclamation controversy affecting the election of the president, vice president and senators are strictly prohibited. This provides authority of congress and COMELEC en banc setting as NBC for the president, vice president and senators relative to the determination of the composition and proceeding of the board of canvassers, issue relative to manifest error in the certificate of canvass and election return including the determination of the authenticity and due execution of certificate of canvass. Well settled is the rule, that once the candidates has already declared as the winner in the congressional election, the remedy open to the petitioner was to filed an electoral protest with electoral tribunal of the house of representative. As to due process of law, the court find of deprivation of due process of law as Pimentel argument problematic sense he has not established what he is being deprive of life, liberty and property. He is not assailing any, which arbitrarily or without sufficient justification supposedly deprive him of life, liberty and property.

AQUILINO L. PIMENTEL III, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS EN BANC SITTING AS THE NATIONAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS, THE SPECIAL PROVINCIAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS FOR MAGUINDANAO CHAIRED BY ATTY. EMILIO S. SANTOS, and JUAN MIGUEL F. ZUBIRI. G.R. No. 178413. March 13, 2008. Chico-Nazario, J.
Digested by:

MARIE ZOL B. SANDOY

CASE 17
ELECTION LAW
Interruption in the continuity of public office

FACTS
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Petitioners Montebon and Ondy and respondent Potencioso, Jr. were candidates for municipal councilor of the Municipality of Tuburan, Cebu for the May 14, 2007 Synchronized National and Local Elections. On April 30, 2007, petitioners and other candidates for municipal councilor filed a petition for disqualification against respondent with the COMELEC alleging that respondent had been elected and served three consecutive terms as municipal councilor in 1998-2001, 20012004, and 2004-2007. Thus, he is proscribed from running for the same position in the 2007 elections as it would be his fourth consecutive term. Private respondent claimed that the service of his second term in 2001-2004 was interrupted on January 12, 2004 when he succeeded as vice mayor of Tuburan due to the retirement of Vice Mayor Petronilo L. Mendoza. Consequently, he is not disqualified from vying for the position of municipal councilor in the 2007 elections. COMELEC First Division denied the petition for disqualification ruling that respondent's assumption of office as vice-mayor should be considered an interruption in the continuity of his service. His second term having been involuntarily interrupted, respondent should thus not be disqualified to seek reelection as municipal councilor. On appeal, the COMELEC En Banc upheld the ruling of the First Division.

ISSUE
Whether or not COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ruling that respondent's assumption of office as vicemayor in January 2004 interrupted his 2001-2004 term as municipal councilor.

RULING
The petition for certiorari lacks merit. While it is undisputed that respondent was elected municipal councilor for three consecutive terms, the issue lies on whether he is deemed to have fully served his second term in view of his assumption of office as vice-mayor of Tuburan on January 12, 2004. Succession in local government offices is by operation of law. Section 44 of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, provides that if a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the vice mayor, the highest ranking sanggunian member shall become vice mayor.

In this case, a permanent vacancy occurred in the office of the vice mayor due to the retirement of Vice Mayor Mendoza. Respondent, being the highest ranking

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municipal councilor, succeeded him in accordance with law. It is clear therefore that his assumption of office as vice-mayor can in no way be considered a voluntary renunciation of his office as municipal councilor. The legal successor is not given any option under the law on whether to accept the vacated post or not. Section 44 of the Local Government Code makes no exception. Only if the highest-ranking councilor is permanently unable to succeed to the post does the law speak of alternate succession. It is therefore more compulsory and obligatory rather than voluntary.

[FEDERICO T. MONTEBON and, ELEANOR M. ONDOY vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and SESINANDO F. POTENCIOSO, JR. G.R. No. 180444. April 9, 2008. Ynares-Santiago, J.]

Digested By: MA. ANGELA D. MASACOTE

CASE 18
ELECTION LAW
Cancellation of the Certificate of Candidacy based on material misrepresentation. Section 1-D

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FACTS
Ugdoracion and private respondent, Ephraim Tungol, were rival mayoralty candidates in the Municipality of Albuquerque, Province of Bohol in the May 14, 2007 elections. Both filed their respective Certificates of Candidacy (COC). On April 11, 2007, Tungol filed a Petition to Deny Due Course or Cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of Jose Ugdoracion, Jr., contending that Ugdoracion's declaration of eligibility for Mayor constituted material misrepresentation because Ugdoracion is actually a "green card" holder or a permanent resident of the United States of America (USA). Specifically, Ugdoracion stated in his COC that he had resided in Albuquerque, Bohol, Philippines for forty-one years before May 14, 2007 and he is not a permanent resident or an immigrant to a foreign country. It appears that Ugdoracion became a permanent resident of the USA on September 26, 2001. Accordingly, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Services (USINS) issued him Alien Number 047-894-254. Ugdoracion contented he retained his domicile of origin (Albuquerque, Bohol) notwithstanding his ostensible acquisition of permanent residency in the USA. Ugdoracion then pointed to the following documents as proof of his substantial compliance with the residency requirement: (1) a residence certificate dated May 5, 2006; (2) an application for a new voter's registration dated October 12, 2006; and (3) a photocopy of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status dated October 18, 2006. Commission on Election (COMELEC) First Division cancelled Ugdoracion's COC and removing his name from the certified list of candidates for the position of Mayor of Albuquerque, Bohol. In his Motion for Reconsideration, he argued that his status as a "green card" holder was not of his own making but a mere offshoot of a petition filed by his sister. He admitted his intermittent travels to the USA, but only to visit his siblings, and short working stint thereat to cover his subsistence for the duration of his stay. Motion was denied by COMELEC En Banc and affirmed the decision of the First Division.

ISSUE
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Whether or not COMELEC committed a grave of abuse of discretion or lack of or excess in jurisdiction; contending is involuntary acquisition of permanent resident status and his domicile, Albuquerque, Bohol.

RULING
Premises considered the contentions are not tenable. COMELEC’s cancellation of Ugdoracion’s COC is in accordance to law. Section 74, in relation to Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, in unmistakable terms, requires that the facts stated in the COC must be true, and any false representation therein of a material fact shall be a ground for cancellation thereof. Ugdoracion's assertions miss the mark completely. The dust had long settled over the implications of a "green card" holder status on an elective official's qualification for public office. A Filipino citizen's acquisition of a permanent resident status abroad constitutes an abandonment of his domicile and residence in the Philippines. In short, the "green card" status in the USA is a renunciation of one's status as a resident of the Philippines. His contention on involuntary acquisition of “green card” as a result of his sister’s beneficence does not persuade. Although immigration to the USA through a petition filed by a family member (sponsor) is allowed by USA immigration laws, the petitioned party is very much free to accept or reject the grant of resident status. Permanent residency in the USA is not conferred upon the unwilling; unlike citizenship, it is not bestowed by operation of law.

[JOSE UGDORACION, JR. vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and EPHRAIM M. TUNGOL. G.R. No. 179851. April 18, 2008. Nachura, J.]

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Digested By:

MA. ANGELA D. MASACOTE

CASE 19
ELECTION LAW
Violation of Section 10 (g) and (j) in relation to Section 45 (j) of Republic Act No. 8189, otherwise known as The Voter's Registration Act of 1996 and exercise of Commission on Electionsprosecutorial power

FACTS
On 9 May 2000 and 11 May 2000, petitioners Carlos S. Romualdez and Erlinda R. Romualdez, applied for registration as new voters with the Office of the Election Officer of Burauen, Leyte, as evidenced by Voter Registration Record Nos. 42454095 and 07902952, respectively. On 12 July 2000, private respondent Dennis Garay, along with Angelino Apostol filed a Complaint-Affidavit with the COMELEC thru the Office of the Election Officer in Burauen, Leyte, charging petitioners with violation of Section 261 (y) (2) and Section 261 (y) (5) of the Omnibus Election Code, similarly referred to as Batas Pambansa Blg. 881; and Section 12 of Republic Act No. 8189. Respondent alleged petitioners made false and untruthful representations in violation of Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8189, by indicating therein that they are residents of 935 San Jose Street, Burauen, Leyte, when in truth and in fact, they were and still are residents of 113 Mariposa Loop, Mariposa Street, Bagong Lipunan ng Crame, Quezon City, and registered voters of Barangay Bagong Lipunan ng Crame, District IV, Quezon City, Precinct No. 4419-A, as evidenced by Voter Registration Record Nos. 26195824 and 26195823; and that petitioners, knowing fully well said truth, intentionally and willfully, did not fill the blank spaces in said applications corresponding to the length of time which they have resided in Burauen, Leyte.

ISSUES
Petitioners come via the instant Petition, submitted the following arguments: 1. Respondent COMELEC gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of its jurisdiction; and
2. Vagueness of Section 45 (j) of the Voter's Registration Act as it does not refer to a definite provision of the law, the violation of which would constitute an election offense; hence, it runs contrary to Section 14 (1) 25 and Section 14 (2), 26 Article III of the 1987 Constitution.

RULING
REMISES CONSIDERED, the instant petition is lack of merit.

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The constitutional grant of prosecutorial power in the COMELEC finds statutory expression under Section 265 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code. The task of the COMELEC whenever any election offense charge is filed before it is to conduct the preliminary investigation of the case, and make a determination of probable cause. Under Section 8 (b), Rule 34 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the investigating officer makes a determination of whether there is a reasonable ground to believe that a crime has been committed. It is also well-settled that the finding of probable cause in the prosecution of election offenses rests in the COMELEC's sound discretion.(Emphasis supplied) The COMELEC exercises the constitutional authority to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases for violation of election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offense and malpractices. Generally, the Court will not interfere with such finding of the COMELEC absent a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion. This principle emanates from the COMELEC's exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under the election laws and to prosecute the same, except as may otherwise be provided by law. As structured, Section 45 of Republic Act No. 8189 makes a recital of election offenses under the same Act. Section 45 (j) is, without doubt, crystal in its specification that a violation of any of the provisions of Republic Act No. 8189 is an election offense. The language of Section 45 (j) is precise. The challenged provision renders itself to no other interpretation. A reading of the challenged provision involves no guesswork. The evident intent of the legislature is clear; violation of any provisions of the Republic Act No.8189 is punishable. The law articulates the policy of the State to systematize the present method of registration in order to establish a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters. A reading of Section 45 (j) conjointly with the provisions upon which petitioners are charged, i.e., Sections 10 (g) and (j) would reveal that the matters that are required to be set forth under the aforesaid sections are crucial to the achievement of a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters. The factual information required by the law is sought not for mere embellishment.

[SPOUSES CARLOS S. ROMUALDEZ and ERLINDA R. ROMUALDEZ, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and DENNIS GARAY. G.R. No. 1670. April 30, 2008. Chico-Nazario, J.]
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Digested By:

MA. ANGELA D. MASACOTE

CASE 20
ELECTION LAWS
Qualification to run into public office without any given presidential pardon, amnesty or any form of executive clemency

FACTS
Petitioner Florentino P. Blanco was the mayor of Meycauayan, Bulacan from 1987 up to 1992. During the May 8, 1995 elections, petition ran as a candidate for the same mayoralty position and won during the canvassing by more than 6,000 votes over private respondent Eduardo A. Alarilla. Private respondent filed a petition for the disqualification of petitioner on the ground of vote-buying which resulted in the suspension of petitioner's proclamation. On August 15, 1995, public respondent issued a resolution disqualifying petitioner as candidate for the said position due to violation of Sec. 261 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code. This Court affirmed the disqualification under Sec. 68 of the Omnibus Election Code in Blanco v. COMELEC, 2 G.R. No. 122258, which was promulgated on July 21, 1997. During the 1998 elections, petitioner again ran as a mayoralty candidate. Domiciano G. Ruiz, a voter of Meycauayan, Bulacan, sought to disqualify him on the basis of the Court's ruling in G.R. No. 122258. But the Comelec dismissed the said petition on the ground that petitioner was not disqualified under Sec 68 of the Omnibus Election Code. During the May 14, 2001 elections, petitioner again ran for a mayoralty position, but private respondent sought petitioner's disqualification based on the Court's ruling in G.R. No. 122258. This time disqualifying petitioner from running for a mayoralty position in the May 14, 2001 elections under Sec. 40 (b) of the Local Government Code for having been removed from office through an administrative case. It denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration for having been filed beyond the 5-day reglementary period.

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During the May 10, 2004 elections, petitioner again ran as a mayoralty candidate, but private respondent sought to disqualify him based on the Court's ruling in G.R. No. 122258. Petitioner withdrew his certificate of candidacy, so the petition for disqualification was dismissed for being moot. In a Decision dated November 6, 2005, the RTC declared petitioner eligible to run for an elective office. During the May 14, 2007 elections, petitioner ran anew for a mayoralty position. Again, private respondent sought the disqualification of petitioner based on the Court's ruling in G.R. No. 122258 and the COMELEC Resolution dated May 11, 2001 in SPA No. 01-050. On August 28, 2007, the COMELEC, disqualifying petitioner from running in the May 14, 2007 elections on the ground that Blanco v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 122258. Hence, the petition praying that the COMELEC Resolution dated August 28, 2007 be reversed and set aside, and that petitioner be declared as eligible to run for public office.

ISSUE
Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in ruling that petitioner is disqualified to run for an elective office by reason of the courts ruling in Blanco vs COMELEC and the resolution of the COMELEC, contending that the petitioner was not bestowed with presidential pardon, amnesty or any form of executive clemency.

RULING
In this case, petitioner contends that in Blanco v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 122258, he was found only administratively liable for vote-buying in the 1995 elections and was disqualified under Sec. 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, and that he was not disqualified under Sec. 261 (a) and Sec. 264 of the Omnibus Election Code since no criminal action was filed against him. He submits that his disqualification was limited only to the 1995 elections and that it did not bar him from running for public office. Petitioner's contention is meritorious. In fine, therefore, the COMELEC, Second Division, committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying petitioner from running for an elective position under Sec. 40 (b) of the Local Government Code in its Resolutions in SPA No. 01-050 dated May 11, 2001 and in SPA No. 07-410 dated August 28, 2007. The grave abuse of discretion attending the Resolution in this case is tantamount to lack of jurisdiction and thus renders it a nullity, thereby allowing this Court to grant this petition directly against the Resolution of the COMELEC's Second Division.

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WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolution of the COMELEC, Second Division, in SPA Case No. 07-410, promulgated on August 28, 2007, is declared NULL and SET ASIDE, and petitioner Florentino P. Blanco is held eligible to run for an elective office. No costs. SO ORDERED.

[FLORENTINO P. BLANCO, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EDUARDO A. ALARILLA,. G.R. No. 180164. June 17, 2008. Azcuna, J]

Digested by:

RUSSELL MEDHURST O. TABANG

CASE 21
ELECTION LAW
Residency requirement and rules on succession

FACTS
Petitioner Norlainie Mitmug Limbona (Norlainie), her husband, Mohammad G. Limbona (Mohammad), and respondent Malik "Bobby" T. Alingan (Malik) were mayoralty candidates in Pantar, Lanao del Norte during the 2007 Synchronized National and Local Elections. Mohammad and Norlainie filed their certificates of candidacy with Acting Election Officer, Alauya S. Tago, on January 22, 2007 and March 29, 2007, respectively; while Malik filed his certificate of candidacy with the Office of the Election Officer on March 26, 2007. On April 2, 2007, Malik filed a petition to disqualify Mohammad for failure to comply with the residency requirement. On April 12, 2007, Malik filed another petition to disqualify Norlainie also on the ground of lack of the one-year residency requirement. On April 21, 2007, Norlainie filed an Affidavit of Withdrawal of Certificate of Candidacy. 4 Thereafter, or on May 2, 2007, she filed before the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor a Motion to Dismiss the petition for disqualification on the ground that the petition had become moot in view of the withdrawal of her certificate of candidacy. Mohammed disqualified to run in the said office on the ground of lack of 1 year residency requirement. Upon his disqualifications, Norlaine (who has previously withdrawn) filed a certificate of candidacy to run as Section 1-D

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mayor of Pantar Lanao, Del Sur. The latter won the said election. Malik garnered the second highest votes.

ISSUES
1. Whether or not Norlaine qualifies to seat as the mayor despite of lack of 1year residency? 2. If Norlaine is disqualified, who will assume the said position?

RULING
For failure to comply with the residency requirement, petitioner is disqualified to run for the office of mayor of Pantar, Lanao del Norte. However, petitioner's disqualification would not result in Malik's proclamation who came in second during the special election. The rules on succession under the Local Government Code shall apply, to wit: SECTION 44. Permanent Vacancies in the Offices of the Governor, Vice-Governor, Mayor, and Vice-Mayor. — If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the . . mayor, the . . . vice-mayor concerned shall become the . . . mayor. A permanent vacancy arises when an elective local official fills a higher vacant office, refuses to

assume office, fails to qualify or is removed from office, voluntarily resigns, or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office. Considering the disqualification of petitioner to run as mayor of Pantar, the proclaimed Vice-Mayor shall succeed as mayor. WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED. The September 4, 2007 Resolution of the Commission on Elections in disqualifying petitioner Norlainie Mitmug Limbona from running for office of the Mayor of Pantar, Lanao del Norte, and the January 9, 2008 Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED. In view of the permanent vacancy in the Office of the Mayor, the proclaimed Vice-Mayor shall SUCCEED as Mayor. SO ORDERED.

[NORLAINIE MITMUG LIMBONA, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and MALIK "BOBBY" T. ALINGAN. G.R. No. 181097. June 25, 2008. Ynares-Santiago, J.]

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Digested by:

RUSSELL MEDHURST O. TABANG

CASE 22
ELECTION LAW
Jurisdiction of the COMELEC to decide on matters involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts with limited jurisdiction

FACTS
In the July 15, 2002 SK elections of Barangay Pandan del Sur, Pandan, Catanduanes, respondent Rodriguez won as SK chairman over petitioner Fernandez. Fernandez filed a protest in the MCTC of Pandan. On January 12, 2004, MCTC declared Fernandez as the winner and ordered her proclamation. Adversely affected, respondent Rodriquez appealed the case to the COMELEC. On December 4, 2006, the COMELEC First Division rendered the assailed Resolution 6 nullifying the MCTC's decision. It ruled that 3 ballots marked as Exhibits "1", "4" and "5" should not have been credited to the Fernandez, given that they were tampered to show that they represented votes for Fernandez, when in truth they were for Rodriguez. It ruled that where a person other than the voter crossed out the originally written name of a candidate and replaced it with that of another, the vote should be admitted for the original candidate and rejected for the second. Thus, Section 1-D

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deducting the 3 votes from the 29 votes of the petitioner and adding the same to the 24 votes of the respondent, the result would be 26 for Fernandez and 27 for Rodriquez, with the latter winning by a single vote. Thus, then COMELEC reversed the MCTC decision. Fernandez filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but it was denied. So Fernandez went to the Supreme Court arguing that that the COMELEC has no appellate jurisdiction over contests involving SK officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

ISSUE
Whether or not the COMELEC has jurisdiction over the decision rendered by the trial courts of limited jurisdiction?

RULING
The court ruled that the COMELEC has jurisdiction. The Constitution stated in Article IX-C, Sec. 2(2) so provides that it vests in the COMELEC appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

Construed in relation to the provision in RA 7160 or otherwise known as the Local Government Code, it is said that includes in the enumeration of barangay officials the SK chairman under Sec. 387(a), the constitutional provision indeed sanctions the appellate review by the COMELEC of election protests involving the position of SK chairman, as in the instant case. Hence, the court ruled that they found nothing improper in the COMELEC’s assumption of jurisdiction over respondent’s appeal. The petitioner’s reliance on the ruling in Mercado vs. Board of Election Supervisors (1995) that contests involving the SK chairman does not fall within Section 252 of the Omnibus Election Code and paragraph 2, Section 2, Article IX-C of the Constitution, is misplaced. The doctrine therein, as explained in the much later Marquez vs. Commission on Elections (1999), is no longer controlling. Thus, the present rule is that trial courts of limited jurisdiction have exclusive original jurisdiction over election protests involving barangay officials, which include the SK chairman, and that the COMELEC has the exclusive appellate jurisdiction over such protests.

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It is also noted that the Supreme Court dismissed the case as moot and academic. By the time the case reached the Supreme Court, the term of office of the SK chair already expired. The discussion on COMELEC jurisdiction is for the guidance of the bench and bar. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

[INDIRA R. FERNANDEZ, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND MARK ANTHONY B. RODRIGUEZ. G.R. No. 176296. June 30, 2008. Nachura, J.]

Digested By: LADY JULIE GRACE L. BARONDA

CASE 23
ELECTION LAW
A contention on failure of election and exercise of grave abuse of discretion by COMELEC

FACTS
The MCTC Valladolid-San Enrique-Pulupandan, Negros Occidental ordered the Municipal Election Officer (EO) of Valladolid to include the names of 946 individuals in the list of qualified voters of the said municipality for the May 2007 elections. Prompted by the advice of COMELEC Manila that decisions of trial courts of limited jurisdiction in inclusion/exclusion cases attain finality only after the lapse of five days from receipt of notice sans any appeal there from, the acting provincial election supervisor (PES), directed the Election Officer on May 13, 2007 not to comply with the MCTC order. Thus, the said 946 were disallowed by the board of election inspectors to vote. These 946 moved for the issuance of a Section 1-D

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Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent the Municipal Board of Canvassers from canvassing the election returns & from proclaiming the winning candidates for the local positions in the municipality. Such was granted. However, the Municipal Board of Canvassers continued canvassing and proclaimed the winning candidates. Presbitero and others thus filed before the COMELEC a petition for declaration of failure of election and the holding of a special election because 946 voters were disenfranchised, the Election Officer of the municipality (also the Ex-officio Chair of the Municipal Board of Canvassers) was abruptly replaced, the number of voters was unusually low, no less than 2,000 supporters of petitioners failed to vote as their names were missing from the list of voters. To the contrary, petitioners admitted that elections were held, that 70% of the registered voters were able to cast their votes, and that the respondents emerged as winners. The Municipal Board of Canvassers defied the TRO, and the acting provincial election supervisor and acting election officer threatened & coerced the vicechair and member-secretary of the Municipal Board of Canvassers to continue with the canvassing and the proclamation.

ISSUE
Whether or not there was a failure of election and contending that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in the issuance of the said resolution?

RULING
The court ruled in favor of the COMELEC and that there was no failure of elections. A failure of election may be declared only in the three instances stated in Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code: 1. the election has not been held 2. the election has been suspended before the hour fixed by law 3. and the preparation and the transmission of the election returns have given rise to the consequent failure to elect, meaning nobody emerged as the winner. Furthermore, the reason for such failure of election should be force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud or other analogous causes. Finally, before the COMELEC can grant a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of election, the concurrence of 2 conditions must be established, namely: 1. no voting has taken place in the precincts concerned on the date fixed by law or, even if there was voting, the election nevertheless resulted in a failure to elect

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2. the votes cast would affect the result of the election. In the instant case, it is admitted by the petitioners that elections were held in the subject locality. Also, the private respondents and four of the petitioners won in the elections and were proclaimed as the duly elected municipal officials. There is nothing in the records from which the Court can make even a slim deduction that there has been a failure to elect. Absent any proof that the voting did not take place, the alleged disenfranchisement of the 946 individuals and 2,000 more supporters of the petitioners cannot even be considered as a basis for the declaration of a failure of election. Had petitioners been aggrieved by the allegedly illegal composition and proceedings of the Municipal Board of Canvassers, then they should have filed the appropriate pre-proclamation case contesting the aforesaid composition or proceedings of the board, rather than erroneously raising the same as grounds for the declaration of failure of election. On the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the MCTC and the subsequent defiance thereof by the Municipal Board of Canvassers, suffice it to state that the propriety of suspending the canvass of returns or the proclamation of candidates is a pre-proclamation issue that is solely within the cognizance of the COMELEC. In sum, petitioners have not adduced any ground which will warrant a declaration of failure of election. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is DISMISSED.

[RICARDO P. PRESBITERO, JR., JANET PALACIOS, CIRILO G. ABRASIA, ARMANDO G. ALVAREZ, NENITO A. ARMAS, RENE L. CORRAL, JOEMARIE A. DE JUAN, ENRILICE C. GENOBIS, WILLIAM A. PRESBITERO and REYNO N. SOBERANO, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ROMMEL YOGORE, GLORY GOMEZ, DAN YANSON, JOENITO DURAN, SR., LUCIUS BODIOS and REY SUMUGAT. G.R. No. 178884. June 30, 2008. Nachura, J.]

Digested By: LADY JULIE GRACE L. BARONDA

CASE 24
ELECTION LAW
A province entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such province

FACTS
These consolidated petitions seek to annul Resolution No. 7902, dated 10 May

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2007, of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) treating Cotabato City as part of the legislative district of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. The Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution apportioned two legislative districts for the Province of Maguindanao. The first legislative district consists of Cotabato City and eight municipalities. Maguindanao forms part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), created under its Organic Act, Republic Act No. 6734 (R.A. 6734), as amended by Republic Act No. 9054 (R.A. 9054). Although under the Ordinance, Cotabato City forms part of Maguindanao's first legislative district, it is not part of the ARMM but of Region XII, having voted against its inclusion in the ARMM in the plebiscite held in November 1989. On 28 August 2006, the ARMM's legislature, the ARMM Regional Assembly, exercising its power to create provinces under Section 19, Article VI of R.A. 9054, enacted Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 (MMA Act 201) creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan composed of the eight municipalities in the first district of Maguindanao. MMA Act 201 provides: Section 1. The Municipalities of Barira, Buldon, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Parang, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Upi are hereby separated from the Province of Maguindanao and constituted into a distinct and independent province, which is hereby created, to be known as the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Sec. 5.The corporate existence of this province shall commence upon the appointment by the Regional Governor or election of the governor and majority of the regular members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The incumbent elective provincial officials of the Province of Maguindanao shall continue to serve their unexpired terms in the province that they will choose or where they are residents: Provided, that where an elective position in both provinces becomes vacant as a consequence of the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, all incumbent elective provincial officials shall have preference for appointment to a higher elective vacant position and for the time being be appointed by the Regional Governor, and shall hold office until their successors shall have been elected and qualified in the next local elections; Provided, further, that they shall continue to receive the salaries they are receiving at the time of the approval of this Act until the new readjustment of salaries in accordance with law. Provided, furthermore, that there shall be no diminution in the number of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the mother province. Noting also that, except as may be provided

by national law, the existing legislative district, which includes Cotabato as a part

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thereof, shall remain. Later, three new municipalities were carved out of the original nine municipalities constituting Shariff Kabunsuan, bringing its total number of municipalities to 11. Thus, what was left of Maguindanao were the municipalities constituting its second legislative district. Cotabato City, although part of Maguindanao's first legislative district, is not part of the Province of Maguindanao. The voters of Maguindanao ratified Shariff Kabunsuan's creation in a plebiscite held on 29 October 2006.On 6 February 2007, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City passed Resolution No. 3999 requesting the COMELEC to "clarify the status of Cotabato City in view of the conversion of the First District of Maguindanao into a regular province" under MMA Act 201. In answer to Cotabato City's query, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 07-0407 on March 2007 "maintaining the status quo with Cotabato City as part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of Maguindanao". Resolution No. 070407, has adopted the recommendation of the COMELEC's Law Department under a Memorandum dated 27 February 2007. On 10 May 2007, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 7902, subject of these petitions, amending Resolution No. 07-0407 by renaming the legislative district in question as "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City (formerly First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City)." In G.R. No. 177597, Sema, who was a candidate in the 14 May 2007 elections for Representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City", prayed for the nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 and the exclusion from canvassing of the votes cast in Cotabato City for that office. Sema contended that Shariff Kabunsuan is entitled to one representative in Congress under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution 10 and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Thus, Sema asserted that the COMELEC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in issuing Resolution No. 7902 which maintained the status quo in Maguindanao's first legislative district despite the COMELEC's earlier directive in Resolution No. 7845 designating Cotabato City as the lone component of Maguindanao's reapportioned first legislative district. Sema further claimed that in issuing Resolution No. 7902, the COMELEC usurped Congress' power to create or reapportion legislative districts. In its Comment, the COMELEC, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), chose not to reach the merits of the case and merely contended that (1) Sema wrongly availed of the writ of certiorari to nullify COMELEC Resolution No. 7902

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because the COMELEC issued the same in the exercise of its administrative, not quasi-judicial, power and (2) Sema's prayer for the writ of prohibition in G.R. No. 177597 became moot with the proclamation of respondent Didagen P. Dilangalen (respondent Dilangalen) on 1 June 2007 as representative of the legislative district of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City. In his Comment, respondent Dilangalen countered that Sema is estopped from questioning COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 because in her certificate of candidacy filed on 29 March 2007, Sema indicated that she was seeking election as representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan including Cotabato City". Respondent Dilangalen added that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is constitutional because it did not apportion a legislative district for Shariff Kabunsuan or reapportion the legislative districts in Maguindanao but merely renamed Maguindanao's first legislative district. Respondent Dilangalen further claimed that the COMELEC could not reapportion Maguindanao's first legislative district to make Cotabato City its sole component unit as the power to reapportion legislative districts lies exclusively with Congress, not to mention that Cotabato City does not meet the minimum population requirement under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution for the creation of a legislative district within a city. Sema filed a Consolidated Reply controverting the matters raised in respondents' Comments and reiterating her claim that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in issuing Resolution No. 7902. In the Resolution of 4 September 2007, the Court required the parties in G.R. No. 177597 to comment on the issue of whether a province created by the ARMM Regional Assembly under Section 19, Article VI of R.A. 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province. On the question of whether a province created under Section 19, Article VI of R.A. 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province, Sema and respondent Dilangalen reiterated in their Memoranda the positions they adopted in their Compliance with the Resolution of 4 September 2007. The COMELEC deemed it unnecessary to submit its position on this issue considering its stance that Section 19, Article VI of R.A. 9054 is unconstitutional.

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The pendency of the petition in G.R. No. 178628 was disclosed during the oral arguments on 27 November 2007. Thus, in the Resolution of 19 February 2008, the Court ordered G.R. No. 178628 consolidated with G.R. No. 177597. The petition in G.R. No. 178628 echoed Sema's contention that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in issuing Resolution No. 7902 depriving the voters of Cotabato City of a representative in the House of Representatives. In its Comment to the petition in G.R. No. 178628, the COMELEC, through the OSG, maintained the validity of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 as a temporary measure pending the enactment by Congress of the "appropriate law".

ISSUES
1. In G.R. No. 177597: a. Preliminarily a1. Whether or not the writs of Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus are proper to test the constitutionality of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902? a2. Whether or not the proclamation of respondent Dilangalen as representative of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City mooted the petition in G.R. No. 177597? b. On the merits b1. Whether or not Section 19, Article VI of R.A. 9054, delegating to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, is constitutional? b2. If in the affirmative, whether or not a province created by the ARMM Regional Assembly under MMA Act 201 pursuant to Section 19, Article VI of R.A. 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such province. 2. In G.R. No. 177597 and G.R. No. 178628, whether COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is valid for maintaining the status quo in the first legislative district of Maguindanao (as "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City [formerly First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City]"), despite the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan out of such district (excluding Cotabato City).

RULING
The petitions have no merit. The court ruled that (1) Section 19, Article VI of R.A. 9054 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities; (2) MMA Act 201 creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan is void; and (3) COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is valid. In summary, the court ruled that Section 19, Article VI of R.A. 9054, insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities, Section 1-D

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is void for being contrary to Section 5 of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Only Congress can create provinces and cities because the creation of provinces and cities necessarily includes the creation of legislative districts, a power only Congress can exercise under Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. The ARMM Regional Assembly cannot create a province without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that every province shall have a legislative district. Moreover, the ARMM Regional Assembly cannot enact a law creating a national office like the office of a district representative of Congress because the legislative powers of the ARMM Regional Assembly operate only within its territorial jurisdiction as provided in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution. Thus, we rule that MMA Act 201, enacted by the ARMM Regional Assembly and creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, is void. Resolution No. 7902 Complies with the Constitution. Consequently, the court held that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902, preserving the geographic and legislative district of the First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City, is valid as it merely complies with Section 5 of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as well as Section 1 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. WHEREFORE, the court declared Section 19, Article VI of Republic Act No. 9054 UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the power to create provinces and cities. Thus, declaring VOID Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Consequently, ruling that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is VALID. SO ORDERED.

[BAI SANDRA S. A. SEMA, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and DIDAGEN P. DILANGALEN. G.R. No. 177597. July 16, 2008] AND [PERFECTO F. MARQUEZ, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. G.R. No. 178628. July 16, 2008. Carpio, J.]

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Digested by:

KRISTOFFER RAY Y. LAO

CASE 25
ELECTION LAW
The interpretation the term the “legal disqualification” in Article 244 of the Revised penal Code

FACTS
During the May 11, 1998 elections, Villapando ran for Municipal Mayor of San Vicente, Palawan. Orlando M. Tiape (now deceased), a relative of Villapando's wife, ran for Municipal Mayor of Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte. Villapando won while Tiape lost. Thereafter, on July 1, 1998, Villapando designated Tiape as Municipal Administrator of the Municipality of San Vicente, Palawan. A Contract of Consultancy 5 dated February 8, 1999 was executed between the Municipality of San Vicente, Palawan and Tiape whereby the former employed the services of Tiape as Municipal Administrative and Development Planning Consultant in the Office of the Municipal Mayor for a period of six months from January 1, 1999 to June 30, 1999 for a monthly salary of P26,953.80.

ISSUE
Whether or not the respondent court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction in interpreting that the “legal disqualification” in Article 244 of the Revised penal Code does not include the one year prohibition imposed in losing candidates as enunciated in the constitution and the local government code.

RULING
On February 4, 2000, Solomon B. Maagad and Renato M. Fernandez charged Villapando and Tiape for violation of Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. The complaint was resolved against Villapando and Tiape on March 19, 2002 charging the two with violation of Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code that was filed with the Sandiganbayan as the court found Villapando's Demurrer to Evidence meritorious, as follows: The Court found the "Demurrer to Evidence" impressed with merit.

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Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code provides: Unlawful appointments. — Any public officer who shall knowingly nominate or appoint to any public office any person lacking the legal qualifications therefore, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos. A dissection of the above-cited provision [yields] the following elements, to wit: 1. the offender was a public officer; 2. accused nominated or appointed a person to a public office; 3. such person did not have the legal qualifications [therefore;] and, 4. the offender knew that his nominee or appointee did not have the legal qualifications appointment. Afore-cited elements are hereunder discussed. 1. Mayor Villapando was the duly elected Municipal Mayor of San Vicente, Palawan when the alleged crime was committed. 2. Accused appointed Orlando Tiape as Municipal Administrator of the Municipality of San Vicente, Palawan. 3. There appears to be a dispute. This Court is now called upon to determine whether Stated Orlando Tiape, at the "legal time of [his] designation as Municipal Administrator, was lacking in legal qualification. differently, does qualification" contemplate the one (1) year prohibition on appointment as provided for in Sec. 6, Art. IX-B of the Constitution and Sec. 94 (b) of the Local Government Code, mandating that a candidate who lost in any election shall not, within one year after such election, be appointed to any office in the Government? The Court answers in the negative. In ascertaining the legal qualifications of a particular appointee to a public office, "there must be a law providing for the qualifications of a person to be nominated or appointed" therein. To illuminate further, Justice Rodolfo Palattao succinctly discussed in his book that the qualification of a public officer to hold a particular position in the government is provided for by law, which may refer to educational attainment, civil service eligibility or experience. The purpose of the law is to ensure that the person appointed is competent to perform the duties of the office, thereby promoting efficiency in rendering public at the time he made the nomination or

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service. In this case, Orlando Tiape was allegedly appointed to the position of Municipal Administrator. As such, the law that provides for the legal qualification for the position of municipal administrator is Section 480, Article X of the Local Government Code, to wit: "Section 480. Qualifications, Terms, Powers and Duties. — (a) No person shall be appointed administrator unless he is a citizen of the Philippines, a resident of the local government unit concerned, of good moral character, a holder of a college degree preferably in public administration, law, or any other related course from a recognized college or university, and a first grade civil service eligible or its equivalent. He must have acquired experience in management and administration work for at least five (5) years in the case of the provincial or city administrator, and three (3) years in the case of the municipal administrator. It is noteworthy to mention that the prosecution did not allege much less prove that Mayor Villapando's appointee, Orlando Tiape, lacked any of the qualifications imposed by law on the position of Municipal Administrator. Prosecution's argument rested on the assertion that since Tiape lost in the May 11, 1998 election, he necessarily lacked the required legal qualifications. It bears stressing that temporary prohibition is not synonymous with absence or lack of legal qualification. A person who possessed the required legal qualifications for a position may be temporarily disqualified for appointment to a public position by reason of the one year prohibition imposed on losing candidates. Upon the other hand, one may not be temporarily disqualified for appointment, but could not be appointed as he lacked any or all of the required legal qualifications imposed by law. 4. Anent the last element, this Court deems it unnecessary to WHEREFORE, finding the "Demurrer to Evidence" filed by Mayor Villapando with merit, the same is hereby GRANTED. Mayor Villapando is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged. SO ORDERED. Further, the Sandiganbayan, Fourth Division denied Villapando's Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence yet accommodated Villapando by giving him five days within which to inform it in writing whether he will submit his demurrer to evidence for resolution without leave of court.

discuss the same provided as follows:

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Notably, a judgment rendered with grave abuse of discretion or without due process is void, does not exist in legal contemplation and, thus, cannot be the source of an acquittal. The Sandiganbayan, Fourth Division having acted with grave abuse of discretion in disregarding the basic rules of statutory construction resulting in its decision granting Villapando's Demurrer to Evidence and acquitting the latter, we can do no less but declare its decision null and void. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated May 20, 2004 of the Sandiganbayan, Fourth Division, in Criminal Case No. 27465, granting private respondent Alejandro A. Villapando's Demurrer to Evidence and acquitting him of the crime of unlawful appointment under Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code is hereby declared NULL and VOID. Let the records of this case be remanded to the Sandiganbayan, Fourth Division, for further proceedings. SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, vs. THE SANDIGANBAYAN FOURTH DIVISION) and ALEJANDRO A. VILLAPANDO. G.R. No. 164185. July 23, 2008. Quisumbing, J.]

Digested By:

ANDREA V. GORRICETA

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CASE 26
ELECTION LAW
A person with dual citizenship to run in a public position

FACTS
Petitioner Eusebio Eugenio K. Lopez was a candidate for the position of Chairman of Barangay Bagacay, San Dionisio, Iloilo City in the synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections held on October 29, 2007. On October 25, 2007, respondent Tessie P. Villanueva filed a petition 3 before the Provincial Election Supervisor of the Province of Iloilo, praying for the disqualification of petitioner on the ground that he is an American citizen, hence, ineligible from running for any public office. In his Answer, 4 petitioner argued that he is a dual citizen, a Filipino and at the same time an American, by virtue of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225, otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003. He returned to the Philippines and resided in Barangay Bagacay. Thus, he said, he possessed all the qualifications to run for Barangay Chairman. After the votes for Barangay Chairman were canvassed, petitioner emerged as the winner.

ISSUE
Whether or not a Filipino-American or any dual citizen can run for any elective public position in the Philippines?

RULING
On February 6, 2008, COMELEC issued the assailed Resolution granting the petition for disqualification, disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for Disqualification is GRANTED and respondent Eusebio Eugenio K. Lopez is DISQUALIFIED from running as Barangay Chairman of Barangay Bagacay, San Dionisio, Iloilo. In ruling against petitioner, the COMELEC found that he was not able to regain his Filipino citizenship in the manner provided by law. According to the poll body, to be able to qualify as a candidate in the elections, petitioner should have made a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship. This, petitioner failed to do. His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner resorted to the present petition, imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC Section 1-D

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for disqualifying him from running and assuming the office of Barangay Chairman.

The court dismissed the petition. Petitioner was born a Filipino but he deliberately sought American citizenship and renounced his Filipino citizenship. He later on became a dual citizen by re-acquiring Filipino citizenship. While it is true that petitioner won the elections, took his oath and began to discharge the functions of Barangay Chairman, his victory can not cure the defect of his candidacy. Garnering the most number of votes does not validate the election of a disqualified candidate because the application of the constitutional and statutory provisions on disqualification is not a matter of popularity. In sum, the COMELEC committed no grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying petitioner as candidate for Chairman in the Barangay elections of 2007. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

EUSEBIO EUGENIO K. LOPEZ, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and TESSIE P. VILLANUEVA. G.R. No. 182701. July 23, 2008. Reyes, R.T., J.]

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Digested By: ANDREA V. GORRICETA

A Student's Prayer
Creator of all things, true source of Light and Wisdom, lofty source of all Being, graciously let a ray of Your Brilliance penetrate into the darkness of my understanding and take from me the double darkness in which I have been born, sin and ignorance. Give me a sharp sense of understanding , a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations, and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm. Point out the beginning, direct the progress, help in the completion. Through Christ our Lord. ----St. Thomas Aquinas

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