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ENBANC ROSALINDAA.PENERA, Petitioner, G.R.No.181613 Present: PUNO,C.J., CARPIO, CORONA, CARPIOMORALES, CHICONAZARIO, VELASCO,JR.

,JR., versusNACHURA, LEONARDODECASTRO, BRION, PERALTA, BERSAMIN, DELCASTILLO, ABAD,and VILLARAMA,JR.,JJ. COMMISSIONONELECTIONSPromulgated: andEDGART.ANDANAR, Respondents. November25,2009 xx RESOLUTION CARPIO,J.: WegrantRosalindaA.Peneras(Penera)motionforreconsideration ofthisCourtsDecisionof11September2009(Decision).

Theassailed DecisiondismissedPeneraspetitionandaffirmedthe Resolutiondated30July2008oftheCOMELECEnBancaswellasthe Resolutiondated24July2007oftheCOMELECSecondDivision. The DecisiondisqualifiedPenerafromrunningfortheofficeofMayorinSta. Monica,SurigaodelNorteanddeclaredthattheViceMayorshouldsucceed Penera. In support of her motion for reconsideration, Penera submits the followingarguments:
1. Penerawasnotyetacandidateatthetimeoftheincidentunder Section11ofRA8436asamendedbySection13ofRA9369. 2. Thepetitionfordisqualificationfailedtosubmitconvincingand substantialevidenceagainstPeneraforviolationofSection80ofthe OmnibusElectionCode. 3. Peneraneveradmittedtheallegationsofthepetitionfor disqualificationandhasconsistentlydisputedthechargeofpremature campaigning. 4. TheadmissionthatPeneraparticipatedinamotorcadeisnotthe sameasadmittingsheengagedinprematureelectioncampaigning.

Section79(a)oftheOmnibusElectionCodedefinesacandidateas anypersonaspiringfororseekinganelectivepublicoffice,whohasfileda certificate of candidacy x x x. The second sentence, third paragraph, Section15ofRA8436,asamendedbySection13ofRA9369,providesthat [a]nypersonwhofileshiscertificateofcandidacywithin[theperiod forfiling] shall only beconsidered asacandidateatthestartofthe campaignperiod forwhichhefiledhiscertificateofcandidacy. The immediately succeeding proviso in the same third paragraph states that unlawfulactsoromissionsapplicabletoacandidateshalltakeeffect upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period. These two only provisionsdeterminetheresolutionofthiscase. TheDecisionstatesthat[w]henthecampaignperiodstartsand[the person who filed his certificate of candidacy] proceeds with his/her candidacy,his/herintentturningintoactuality, wecanalreadyconsider

his/heracts,afterthefilingofhis/herCOCandpriortothecampaign period, as the promotion of his/her election as a candidate, hence, constituting premature campaigning, for which he/she may be disqualified.1[1] UndertheDecision,acandidatemayalreadybeliableforpremature campaigningafterthefilingofthecertificateofcandidacybutevenbefore the startofthecampaignperiod. Fromthefilingofthecertificateof candidacy,evenlongbeforethestartofthecampaignperiod,theDecision considers the partisan political acts of a person so filing a certificate of candidacy asthepromotionofhis/herelectionasacandidate. Thus, suchpersoncanbedisqualifiedforprematurecampaigningforactsdone beforethestartofthecampaignperiod.Inshort,theDecisionconsidersa personwhofilesacertificateofcandidacyalreadyacandidateeven beforethestartofthecampaignperiod. TheassailedDecisioniscontrarytotheclearintentandletterofthe law. The Decision reverses Lanot v. COMELEC,2[2] which held that a personwhofilesacertificateofcandidacyisnotacandidateuntilthe startofthecampaignperiod.InLanot,thisCourtexplained:
Thus,theessential elements forviolation ofSection 80ofthe OmnibusElectionCodeare:(1)apersonengagesinanelectioncampaign orpartisanpoliticalactivity;(2)theactisdesignedtopromotetheelection ordefeatofaparticularcandidateorcandidates;(3)theactisdoneoutside thecampaignperiod. Thesecondelementrequirestheexistenceofacandidate.UnderSection 79(a),acandidateisonewhohasfiledacertificateofcandidacytoan electivepublicoffice.Unlessonehasfiledhiscertificateofcandidacy,heis notacandidate.Thethirdelementrequiresthatthecampaignperiodhas notstartedwhentheelectioncampaignorpartisanpoliticalactivityis committed. Assumingthatallcandidatestoapublicofficefiletheircertificatesof candidacyonthelastday,whichunderSection75oftheOmnibusElection
1 2[2] [1]

Decision,p.23(Boldfacingandunderscoringsupplied). G.R.No.164858,16November2006,507SCRA114.

Codeisthedaybeforethestartofthecampaignperiod,thennoonecanbe prosecutedforviolationofSection80foractsdonepriortosuchlastday. Beforesuchlastday,thereisnoparticularcandidateorcandidatesto campaignfororagainst.Onthedayimmediatelyafterthelastdayoffiling, thecampaignperiodstartsandSection80ceasestoapplysinceSection80 coversonlyactsdoneoutsidethecampaignperiod. Thus,ifallcandidatesfiletheircertificatesofcandidacyonthelastday, Section80mayonlyapplytoactsdoneonsuchlastday,whichisbeforethe startofthecampaignperiodandafteratleastonecandidatehasfiledhis certificateofcandidacy.Thisisperhapsthereasonwhythoserunningfor electivepublicofficeusuallyfiletheircertificatesofcandidacyonthelast dayorclosetothelastday. ThereisnodisputethatEusebiosactsofelectioncampaigningorpartisan politicalactivitieswerecommittedoutsideofthecampaignperiod.Theonly questioniswhetherEusebio,whofiledhiscertificateofcandidacyon29 December2003,wasacandidatewhenhecommittedthoseactsbeforethe startofthecampaignperiodon24March2004. Section11ofRepublicActNo.8436(RA8436)movedthedeadlinefor thefilingofcertificatesofcandidacyto120daysbeforeelectionday.Thus, theoriginaldeadlinewasmovedfrom23March2004to2January2004,or 81daysearlier.Thecrucialquestionis:didthischangeinthedeadlinefor filingthecertificateofcandidacymakeonewhofiledhiscertificateof candidacybefore2January2004immediatelyliableforviolationofSection 80ifheengagedinelectioncampaignorpartisanpoliticalactivitiespriorto thestartofthecampaignperiodon24March2004? Section11ofRA8436provides: SECTION11.Official Ballot.TheCommission shallprescribethesizeandformoftheofficialballotwhich shallcontainthetitlesofthepositionstobefilledand/or the propositions to be voted upon in an initiative, referendumorplebiscite.Undereachposition,thenamesof candidatesshallbearrangedalphabeticallybysurnameand uniformlyprintedusingthesametypesize.Afixedspace where the chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors shall affix his/her signature to authenticate the official ballotshallbeprovided. Bothsidesoftheballotsmaybeusedwhennecessary.

Forthispurpose,thedeadlineforthefilingofcertificateof candidacy/petitionforregistration/manifestationtoparticipateinthe electionshallnotbelaterthanonehundredtwenty(120)daysbeforethe elections:Provided,That,anyelectiveofficial,whethernationalorlocal, runningforanyofficeotherthantheonewhichhe/sheisholdingina permanentcapacity,exceptforpresidentandvicepresident,shallbedeemed resignedonlyuponthestartofthecampaignperiodcorrespondingtothe positionforwhichhe/sheisrunning:Provided,further,That,unlawfulacts oromissionsapplicabletoacandidateshalltakeeffectuponthestartofthe aforesaidcampaignperiod:Provided,finally,That,forpurposesoftheMay 11,1998elections,thedeadlineforfilingofthecertificateofcandidacyfor thepositionsofPresident,VicePresident,Senatorsandcandidatesunderthe partylistsystemaswellaspetitionsforregistrationand/ormanifestationto participateinthepartylistsystemshallbeonFebruary9,1998whilethe deadlineforthefilingofcertificateofcandidacyforotherpositionsshallbe onMarch27,1998. TheofficialballotsshallbeprintedbytheNationalPrintingOfficeand/or theBangkoSentralngPilipinasatthepricecomparablewiththatofprivate printersunderpropersecuritymeasureswhichtheCommissionshalladopt. TheCommissionmaycontracttheservicesofprivateprintersupon certificationbytheNationalPrintingOffice/BangkoSentralngPilipinasthat itcannotmeettheprintingrequirements.Accreditedpoliticalpartiesand deputizedcitizensarmsoftheCommissionmayassignwatchersinthe printing,storageanddistributionofofficialballots. Topreventtheuseoffakeballots,theCommission throughtheCommitteeshallensurethattheserialnumber ontheballotstubshallbeprintedinmagneticinkthatshall beeasilydetectablebyinexpensivehardwareandshallbe impossibletoreproduceonaphotocopyingmachine,and that identification marks, magnetic strips, bar codes and othertechnicalandsecuritymarkings,areprovidedonthe ballot. Theofficialballotsshallbeprintedanddistributed toeachcity/municipalityattherateofone(1)ballotfor everyregisteredvoterwithaprovisionofadditionalfour (4)ballotsperprecinct. UnderSection11ofRA8436,theonlypurposefortheearly filingofcertificatesofcandidacyistogiveampletimefortheprinting ofofficialballots. Thisisclearfromthefollowingdeliberationsofthe BicameralConferenceCommittee:

SENATOR GONZALES. Okay. Then, how about the campaignperiod,woulditbethesame[,]uniformforlocal andnationalofficials? THECHAIRMAN(REP.TANJUATCO).Personally,Iwouldagreeto retainingitatthepresentperiods. SENATORGONZALES.Butthemomentonefilesacertificateof candidacy,hesalreadyacandidate,andtherearemanyprohibitedactsonthe partofcandidate. THECHAIRMAN(REP.TANJUATCO).Unlesswe.... SENATORGONZALES.Andyoucannotsaythatthecampaignperiodhas notyetbegan(sic). THECHAIRMAN(REP.TANJUATCO).Ifwedontprovidethatthefiling ofthecertificatewillnotbringaboutonesbeingacandidate. SENATORGONZALES.Ifthatsafact,thelawcannotchangeafact. THECHAIRMAN(REP.TANJUATCO).No,butifwecanprovidethat thefilingofthecertificateofcandidacywillnotresultinthatofficial vacatinghisposition,wecanalsoprovidethatinsofarheisconcerned, electionperiodorhisbeingacandidatewillnotyetcommence.Because here,thereasonwhywearedoinganearlyfilingistoaffordenoughtime topreparethismachinereadableballots. So,withthemanifestationsfromtheCommissiononElections,Mr. Chairman,theHousePanelwillwithdrawitsproposalandwillagreetothe 120dayperiodprovidedintheSenateversion. THECHAIRMAN(SENATORFERNAN).Thankyou,Mr.Chairman. xxxx SENATORGONZALES.Howaboutprohibitionagainstcampaigningor doingpartisanactswhichapplyimmediatelyuponbeingacandidate? THECHAIRMAN(REP.TANJUATCO).Again,sincetheintentionofthis provisionisjusttoaffordtheComelecenoughtimetoprinttheballots, thisprovisiondoesnotintendtochangethecampaignperiodsas presently,orratherelectionperiodsaspresentlyfixedbyexistinglaw.

THEACTINGCHAIRMAN(SEN.FERNAN).So,itshouldbesubjectto theotherprohibition. THECHAIRMAN(REP.TANJUATCO).Thatsright. THEACTINGCHAIRMAN(SEN.FERNAN).Okay. THECHAIRMAN(REP.TANJUATCO).Inotherwords,actually,there wouldbenoconflictanymorebecausewearetalkingaboutthe120day periodbeforeelectionasthelastdayoffilingacertificateofcandidacy, electionperiodstarts120daysalso.Sothatiselectionperiodalready.Buthe willstillnotbeconsideredasacandidate. Thus,becauseoftheearlydeadlineof2January2004forpurposes ofprintingofofficialballots,Eusebiofiledhiscertificateofcandidacyon 29 December 2003. Congress, however, never intended the filing of a certificateofcandidacybefore2January2004tomakethepersonfilingto becomeimmediatelyacandidateforpurposesotherthantheprintingof ballots. This legislative intent prevents the immediate application of Section80oftheOmnibusElectionCodetothosefilingtomeettheearly deadline.TheclearintentionofCongresswastopreservetheelection periodsasxxxfixedbyexistinglawpriortoRA8436andthatone whofilestomeettheearlydeadlinewillstillnotbeconsideredasa candidate.3[3](Emphasisintheoriginal)

Lanot wasdecidedonthegroundthatonewhofilesacertificateof candidacy is nota candidateuntilthestartofthecampaignperiod.This groundwasbasedonthedeliberationsofthelegislatorswhoexplainedthe intentoftheprovisionsofRA8436,whichlaidthelegalframeworkforan automatedelectionsystem.Therewasnoexpressprovisionintheoriginal RA 8436 stating that one who files a certificate of candidacy is not a candidateuntilthestartofthecampaignperiod. When CongressamendedRA8436,Congressdecidedtoexpressly incorporatetheLanotdoctrineintolaw,realizingthatLanotmerelyreliedon thedeliberationsofCongressinholdingthat
TheclearintentionofCongresswastopreservetheelectionperiodsas xxxfixedbyexistinglawpriortoRA8436andthatonewhofilesto

[3]

Id.at147152.

meettheearlydeadlinewillstillnotbeconsideredasacandidate.4[4] (Emphasissupplied)

Congress wanted to insure that no person filing a certificate of candidacy under the early deadline required by the automated election systemwouldbedisqualifiedorpenalizedforanypartisanpoliticalactdone before the start of the campaign period. Thus, in enacting RA 9369, CongressexpresslywrotetheLanotdoctrineintothesecondsentence,third paragraphoftheamendedSection15ofRA8436,thus:
xxx Forthispurpose,theCommissionshallsetthedeadlineforthefilingof certificateofcandidacy/petitionforregistration/manifestationtoparticipatein theelection.Anypersonwhofileshiscertificateofcandidacywithinthis periodshallonlybeconsideredasacandidateatthestartofthe campaignperiodforwhichhefiledhiscertificateofcandidacy: Provided,That,unlawfulactsoromissionsapplicabletoacandidateshall takeeffectonlyuponthestartoftheaforesaidcampaignperiod:Provided, finally,Thatanypersonholdingapublicappointiveofficeorposition, includingactivemembersofthearmedforces,andofficersandemployeesin governmentownedorcontrolledcorporations,shallbeconsideredipsofacto resignedfromhis/herofficeandmustvacatethesameatthestartoftheday ofthefilingofhis/hercertificateofcandidacy.(Boldfacingandunderlining supplied)

Congress elevated the Lanot doctrine into a statute by specifically insertingitasthe secondsentence ofthe thirdparagraphoftheamended Section15ofRA8436,whichcannotbeannulledbythisCourtexcepton the sole ground of its unconstitutionality. The Decision cannot reverse Lanot without repealing this second sentence, because to reverse Lanot wouldmeanrepealingthissecondsentence. Theassailed Decision,however,inreversing Lanot doesnotclaim that this second sentence or any portion of Section 15 of RA 8436, as amendedbyRA9369,isunconstitutional. Infact,theDecisionconsiders theentireSection15goodlaw.Thus,theDecisionisselfcontradictory
4[4]

Id.at152.

reversing Lanot but maintaining the constitutionality of the second sentence,whichembodiestheLanotdoctrine.Insodoing,theDecisionis irreconcilably in conflict with the clear intent and letter of the second sentence,thirdparagraph,Section15ofRA8436,asamendedbyRA9369. InenactingRA9369,Congressevenfurtherclarifiedthefirstproviso inthethirdparagraphofSection15ofRA8436.Theoriginalprovisionin RA8436states

xxxProvided,further,That,unlawfulactsoromissionsapplicabletoa candidateshalltakeeffectuponthestartoftheaforesaidcampaignperiod, xxx.

InRA9369,Congressinsertedthewordonlysothatthefirstprovisonow reads
xxxProvided,That,unlawfulactsoromissionsapplicabletoacandidate shall take effect only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period xxx.(Emphasissupplied)

Thus,Congressnotonlyreiteratedbutalsostrengtheneditsmandatory directive that election offenses can be committed by a candidate only uponthestartofthecampaignperiod.Thisclearlymeansthatbeforethe startofthecampaignperiod,suchelectionoffensescannotbesocommitted. WhentheapplicableprovisionsofRA8436,asamendedbyRA9369, arereadtogether,theseprovisionsoflawdonotconsiderPeneraacandidate forpurposesotherthantheprintingofballots,untilthestartofthecampaign period.Thereisabsolutelynoroomforanyotherinterpretation. WequotewithapprovaltheDissentingOpinionofJusticeAntonioT. Carpio:
x x x The definition of a candidate in Section 79(a) of the OmnibusElectionCodeshouldbereadtogetherwiththeamendedSection 15 of RA 8436. A candidate refers to any person aspiring for or seekinganelectivepublicoffice,whohasfiledacertificateofcandidacy by himself or through an accredited political party, aggroupment or

coalitionofparties. However,itisnolongerenoughtomerelyfilea certificate of candidacy for a person to be considered a candidate becauseanypersonwhofileshiscertificateofcandidacywithin[the filing]periodshall onlybeconsideredacandidateatthestartofthe campaignperiodforwhichhefiledhiscertificateofcandidacy.Any person may thus file a certificate of candidacy on any day within the prescribedperiodforfilingacertificateofcandidacyyetthatpersonshall be considered a candidate, for purposes of determining ones possible violationsofelectionlaws, onlyduringthecampaignperiod. Indeed, thereisnoelectioncampaignorpartisanpoliticalactivitydesignedto promotetheelectionordefeatofaparticularcandidateorcandidatesto publicofficesimplybecausethereisnocandidatetospeakofpriorto the start of the campaign period. Therefore, despite the filing of her certificateofcandidacy,thelawdoesnotconsiderPeneraacandidateat thetimeofthequestionedmotorcadewhichwasconductedadaybefore thestartofthecampaignperiod.xxx Thecampaignperiodforlocalofficialsbeganon30March2007andended on12May2007.Penerafiledhercertificateofcandidacyon29March2007. Penerawasthusacandidateon29March2009onlyforpurposesofprinting theballots.On29March2007,thelawstilldidnotconsiderPeneraa candidateforpurposesotherthantheprintingofballots.Actscommitted byPenerapriorto30March2007,thedatewhenshebecameacandidate, evenifconstitutingelectioncampaigningorpartisanpoliticalactivities,are notpunishableunderSection80oftheOmnibusElectionCode.Suchacts arewithintherealmofacitizensprotectedfreedomofexpression.Acts committedbyPenerawithinthecampaignperiodarenotcoveredbySection 80asSection80punishesonlyactsoutsidethecampaignperiod.5[5]

TheassailedDecisiongivesaspeciousreasoninexplainingawaythe firstprovisointhethirdparagraph,theamendedSection15ofRA8436that electionoffensesapplicabletocandidatestakeeffectonlyuponthestart ofthecampaignperiod.TheDecisionstatesthat:


x x x [T]he line in Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8436, as amended,whichprovidesthatanyunlawfulactoromissionapplicableto acandidateshalltakeeffectonlyuponthestartofthecampaignperiod, doesnotmeanthattheactsconstitutingprematurecampaigningcanonly be committed, for which the offender may be disqualified, during the campaign period. Contrary to the pronouncement in the dissent,
5 [5]

DissentingOpinionofJusticeAntonioT.Carpio,pp.46.

nowhereinsaidprovisowasitstatedthatcampaigningbeforethestart ofthecampaignperiodislawful,suchthattheoffendermayfreelycarry outthesamewithimpunity. Aspreviouslyestablished,aperson,afterfilinghis/herCOCbutpriorto his/herbecomingacandidate(thus,priortothestartofthecampaignperiod), canalreadycommittheactsdescribedunderSection79(b)oftheOmnibus ElectionCodeaselectioncampaignorpartisanpoliticalactivity,However, onlyaftersaidpersonofficiallybecomesacandidate,atthebeginningofthe campaignperiod,cansaidactsbegiveneffectasprematurecampaigning underSection80oftheOmnibusElectionCode.Onlyaftersaidperson officiallybecomesacandidate,atthestartofthecampaignperiod,can his/herdisqualificationbesoughtforactsconstitutingpremature campaigning.Obviously,itisonlyatthestartofthecampaignperiod,when thepersonofficiallybecomesacandidate,thattheundueandiniquitous advantagesofhis/herprioracts,constitutingprematurecampaigning,shall accruetohis/herbenefit.Comparedtotheothercandidateswhoareonly abouttobegintheirelectioncampaign,acandidatewhohadpreviously engagedinprematurecampaigningalreadyenjoysanunfairheadstartin promotinghis/hercandidacy.6[6](Emphasissupplied)

Itisabasicprincipleoflawthatanyactislawfulunlessexpressly declaredunlawfulbylaw.Thisisspeciallytruetoexpressionorspeech, whichCongresscannotoutlaw exceptonverynarrowgroundsinvolving clear,presentandimminentdangertotheState.Themerefactthatthelaw doesnotdeclareanactunlawful ipsofacto meansthattheactislawful. Thus,thereisnoneedforCongresstodeclareinSection15ofRA8436,as amendedbyRA9369,thatpoliticalpartisanactivitiesbeforethestartofthe campaignperiodarelawful.ItissufficientforCongresstostatethatany unlawfulactoromissionapplicabletoacandidateshalltakeeffectonly uponthestartofthecampaignperiod.Theonlyinescapableandlogical resultisthatthesameacts,ifdonebeforethestartofthecampaignperiod, arelawful. In laymans language, this means that a candidate is liable for an electionoffenseonlyforactsdoneduringthecampaignperiod,notbefore. Thelawisclearasdaylightanyelectionoffensethatmaybecommitted byacandidateunderanyelectionlawcannotbecommittedbeforethestart
6 [6]

Decision,p.24.

of the campaign period. In ruling that Penera is liable for premature campaigningforpartisanpoliticalactsbeforethestartofthecampaigning, theassailedDecisionignorestheclearandexpressprovisionofthelaw. The Decision rationalizesthat acandidatewhocommitspremature campaigning canbedisqualifiedorprosecutedonlyafterthestartofthe campaignperiod.Thisisnotwhatthelawsays.Whatthelawsaysisany unlawfulactoromissionapplicabletoacandidateshalltakeeffectonly upon the start of the campaign period. The plain meaning of this provision is that the effective date when partisan political acts become unlawfulastoacandidateiswhenthecampaignperiodstarts. Beforethe startofthecampaignperiod,thesamepartisanpoliticalactsarelawful. Thelawdoesnotstate,astheassailedDecisionasserts,thatpartisan politicalactsdonebyacandidatebeforethecampaignperiodareunlawful, butmaybeprosecutedonlyuponthestartofthecampaignperiod.Neither doesthelawstatethatpartisanpoliticalactsdonebyacandidatebeforethe campaignperiodare temporarilylawful,butbecomesunlawfuluponthe startofthecampaignperiod. Thisisclearlynotthelanguageofthelaw. Besides,suchalawasenvisionedintheDecision,whichdefinesacriminal act and curtails freedom of expression and speech, would be void for vagueness. Congresshaslaiddownthelawacandidateisliableforelection offenses only upon the start of the campaign period. This Court has no powertoignoretheclearandexpressmandateofthelawthatanyperson whofileshiscertificateofcandidacywithin[thefiling]periodshallonly beconsideredacandidateatthestartofthecampaignperiodforwhich hefiledhiscertificateofcandidacy.NeithercanthisCourtturnablind eyetotheexpressandclearlanguageofthelawthatanyunlawfulactor omissionapplicabletoacandidateshalltakeeffectonlyuponthestart ofthecampaignperiod. The forum for examining the wisdom of the law, and enacting remedialmeasures,isnotthisCourtbuttheLegislature.ThisCourthasno recourse but to apply a law that is as clear, concise and express as the secondsentence,anditsimmediatelysucceedingproviso,aswritteninthe

thirdparagraphofSection15ofRA8436,asamendedbyRA9369. WHEREFORE, we GRANT petitioner Rosalinda A. Peneras MotionforReconsideration.WeSETASIDEtheDecisionofthisCourtin G.R. No. 181613 promulgated on 11 September 2009, as well as the Resolutions dated 24 July 2007and30January2008of theCOMELEC SecondDivisionandtheCOMELECEnBanc,respectively,inSPANo.07 224.RosalindaA.PenerashallcontinueasMayorofSta.Monica,Surigao delNorte. SOORDERED.