[G.R. No. 139357. May 5, 2000]
ABDULMADID P.B. MARUHOM, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and HADJI JAMIL DIMAPORO, respondents. DECISION
YNARES_SANTIAGO, J.: Whether or not a motion to dismiss, filed after an answer has been filed, is a prohibited pleading in an election protest pending before the Regional Trial Court is the issue posed in this petition for certiorariwith prayer for preliminary injunction challenging the Resolution of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dated July 6, 1999 dismissing Comelec Case SPR No. 52-98. The COMELEC’s challenged order summarizes the relevant facts of the controversy thus: 1. Petitioner and private respondent were both candidates for Mayor in the Municipality of Marogong, Lanao del Sur and voted as such in the last May 11, 1998 national and local election (sic). Petitioner is a re-electionist and a veteran politician; 2. The election in Marogong functioned on May 11, 1998, and after the voting the ballot boxes were transmitted to the Kalimodan Hall, Provincial Capitol of Lanao del Sur at Marawi City where the automated counting of votes and canvass of election returns were centralized; 3. During the counting of votes, serious irregularities, anomalies and electoral frauds were committed at the instance of petitioner or his followers in that votes actually casted (sic) for the private respondent were not counted and credited in his favor thru (sic) the concerted acts, conspiracy and manipulation of the Board of Election Inspectors, military, Election Officer and the Machine Operator who happens to be a nephew of the petitioner; 4. In Precincts Nos. 1A-1A1, 7A1, 8A, 10A-10A1 and 11A about 115 official ballots were refused or rejected by the counting machine which the private respondent’s watchers or representatives have requested and insisted to be re-fed to the automated machine for the second and third times pursuant to the provisions of Comelec Resolution No. 3030 but their requests were not heeded by the Election Officer and the Machine
Operator, Solaiman Rasad, who is a close kin of the Petitioner, and instead considered the said ballots as finally rejected, while in Precincts Nos. 12A, 23A1 and 6A, around 56 ballots were found therein which were not drawn from the official ballots and were included in the counting of votes over the objection of the private respondent’s watchers or representatives; 5. Before the termination of the counting of votes and the consolidation of the results, the machine operator and the Election Officer carried away from the Kalimodan Hall the diskette and brought the same to the down town without the knowledge of the private respondent’s watchers or representatives; 6. As a result of the foregoing irregularities, anomalies and electoral frauds, the petitioner was illegally proclaimed as winner because he appeared to have obtained 2,020 votes while the private respondent garnered 2,000 votes with a slight margin of only 20 votes; 7. After the counting of votes, the ballot boxes were kept at the Kalimodan Hall, Provincial Capitol, Marawi City guarded and secured by military and PNP personnel together with the watchers/representatives of the petitioner and the private respondent and other candidates or political parties until they were transported and delivered to the respondent court at Malabang, Lanao del Sur sometime on August 13, 1998 by 1Lt. Napisa AG together with the duly authorized representatives of both parties. xxx xxx xxx 1. On May 22, 1998, private respondent, knowing that he was cheated and the true winner for Mayor, filed before this Honorable Commission a petition to annul the proclamation of petitioner Abdulmadid Maruhom as the duly elected Mayor of Marogong, Lanao del Sur docketed as SPC No. 98-226. 2. As precautionary measure to avoid any technicality, private respondent filed on May 25, 1998, an ordinary "Protest ad Cautelam" against the petitioner before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Malabang, Lanao del Sur entitled "Hadji Jamil D. Dimaporo vs. Abdulmadid Maruhom" for election protest (Manual Judicial Recount, revision and reappreciation of ballots) docketed as Election Case No. 11-127. 3. On June 1, 1998, petitioner Abdulmadid Maruhom filed an answer with counter-protest in Election Case No. 11-127 special and affirmative defenses and counter-protest. In his answer petitioner prayed to hold in abeyance further proceedings since the protest is ad cautelam or subject to the petition filed before this Honorable Commission.
4. On July 2, 1998, before SPC No. 98-228 could be set for hearing by this Honorable Commission, the private respondent as petitioner therein, filed a motion to withdraw his petition in said SPC No. 98-228 albeit said case was among those cases the proceedings of which were ordered to be continued beyond June 30, 1998, under Comelec Resolution No. 3049 promulgated on June 29, 1998. xxx 5. On July 17, 1998, an order was issued by this Honorable Commission, (First Division) granting the private respondent’s motion to withdraw petition in SPC No. 98-228 and considered the same withdrawn. xxx. 6. Upon receipt of a copy of said order, dated July 17, 1998, private respondent filed an urgent motion before the respondent court on July 27, 1998, praying for the issuance of an order directing the proper officials/officers concerned to bring and produce before said court the ballot boxes subjects of the protest and counter-protest and to set the case for hearing as mandated by law. xxx 7. After the delivery of the ballot boxes involved in the protest and counterprotest, the public respondent issued an order, dated August 17, 1998, setting Election Case No. 11-127 for hearing (a) for the creation of the Committee on Revision and appointment of the Chairman and Members thereof; (b) making of the cash deposit and payment of the revisor’s compensation; (c) partial determination of the case, etc. on September 1, 1998, at 8:30 o’clock in the morning. 8. When the case was called for hearing on September 2, 1998, a Revision Committee was created and its membership were duly appointed in open court which committee was directed by the respondent court to finish the revision of ballots, if possible, within 20 days from the commencement of the revision xxx 9. After the Revision Committee was directed by the respondent to commence the revision of ballots, the petitioner Abdulmadid Maruhom thru counsel orally moved for the dismissal of the protest on the grounds that (1) The ballot boxes containing the ballots in the protested and counterprotested precincts have been violated; (2) Automated counting of ballots does not contemplate a manual recount of the ballots; and (3) Protestant is guilty of forum shopping warranting summary dismissal of the petitioner of the protest. 10. The private respondent thru (sic) undersigned counsel, vigorously opposed the said oral motion to dismiss and orally argued that the motion is clearly dilatory having been made only after the Revision Committee has been ordered to commence the revision of ballots on September 1,
1998 and maintained that (1) The motion to dismiss is not allowed in an election protest; (2) The sanctity and integrity of the ballot boxes subject matter of the protest and counter-protest have been preserved and never violated; (3) The automated counting of ballots does not preclude the filing of the election protest for the judicial recount and revision of ballots; and (4) The private respondent is not guilty of forum shopping because his petition of protest is clearly and explicitly a Protest Ad Cautelam in view of the pendency of his petition before this Honorable Commission which was withdrawn by the private respondent before it could be set for hearing or acted upon by this Honorable Commission. 11. After the oral arguments of both parties, the petitioner’s counsel asked that he be given ample time to file a written Omnibus Motion to Dismiss and the respondent court thru then Acting Presiding Judge Rasad Balindong, issued an order dated September 2, 1998, giving ten (10) days to Atty. Tingcap T. Mortaba to file an Omnibus Motion in substantiation of all the oral motions he made, furnishing a copy thereof to the undersigned counsel for the private respondent who was likewise given an equal period of time to comment. 12. On September 11, 1998, petitioner filed his motion to dismiss and on September 21, 1998, the private respondent filed a vigorous opposition to motion to dismiss. 13. During the hearing on the motion to dismiss and the opposition thereto on September 21, 1998, the petitioner’s counsel requested for ample time to file a rejoinder to the vigorous opposition to motion to dismiss submitted by the private respondent which was granted by the court and on September 28, 1998, petitioner filed his rejoinder and on October 5, 1998 private respondent filed his comment thereto and thereafter all incidents were submitted for resolution of the court. 14. On November 10, 1998, the respondent court thru Honorable Presiding Judge Moslemen T. Macarambon, issued the assailed order denying the petitioner’s motion to dismiss for lack of merit and ordering the Revision Committee to report to the court on November 19, 1998, at 8:30 o’clock in the morning for their oath taking and to receive the instruction of the court in the revision of the ballots and other allied matters. 15. On November 18, 1998, the petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the order dated November 10, 1998, and on November 23, 1998, private respondent filed a vigorous opposition [to motion] for reconsideration. 16. Finding no compelling reason to disturb its order dated November 10, 1998, the respondent court issued the assailed order dated December 1,
1998. amounting to lack of jurisdiction in holding that a motion to dismiss an election protest case in the Regional Trial Court is a prohibited pleading. the respondent judge already issued an order granting the same motion and ordering the Revision Committee to hold in abeyance the scheduled revision of ballots on December 14. petitioner insists that in refusing to pass upon the three (3) principal issues raised in COMELEC Case SPR No. In sum. at 10:50 A. 2. Khalil Laguindab and thereafter to convene and start the revision of ballots on December 14. 15. 17. 16. petitioner filed an urgent motion before the respondent court praying that further proceedings in Election Case No. In the same order. etc. or with grave abuse of discretion. 1998.] failing to resolve the issues raised in SPR No.] holding that the motion to dismiss filed after the answer is not allowed. Petitioner alleges that in dismissing the petition the COMELEC acted in excess of. 52-98 which are sufficient legal bases to dismiss Election Case No. morning and afternoon. amounting to lack of jurisdiction in – 1. 3. That before the undersigned counsel could file his opposition to said urgent motion on December 14. the petitioner filed on December 10.
. xxx 18.] holding that a motion to dismiss an election protest case filed in the Regional Trial Court is a prohibited pleading. Raqueza T. 1998. or with grave abuse of discretion. 17 and 18. until further order from the court xxx. the respondent court reiterated its previous order to the members of the Revision Committee to take their oaths before Atty. to wit: 1. 11-127. 1998. the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction and on December 11. Whether or not public respondent acted in excess of. Umbaro or Atty. copy of which was served upon the undersigned counsel only on December 12.1998 which denied the motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. As a diabolical scheme to cause further delay of the proceedings of the case more specifically the revision of ballots. 15. 11-127 be deferred until after protestee’s petition for certiorari and prohibition before this Honorable Commission shall have been finally resolved. 52-98. 1998 and in the absence of a restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction issued by (the COMELEC). 17 and 18. 1998. 16.M.
2. because of its fact-finding facilities. plebiscite. and 3. referendum and recall. by constitutional mandate must do everything in its power to secure a fair and honest canvass of the votes cast in the elections. There are no ready made formulas
. should not be interfered with. orderly and honest elections. Section 2 (1) of Article IX of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad power to "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election. initiative. Whether or not public respondent acted in excess of." There can hardly be any doubt that the text and intent of this constitutional provision is to give COMELEC all the necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the holding of free." Such abdication of duty. its contacts with political strategists. The Commission on Elections. is in a peculiarly advantageous position to decide complex political questions xxx. In the performance of its duties. Sumulong v. and its knowledge derived from actual experience in dealing with political controversies. COMELEC aptly points out that – Politics is a practical matter. orderly. Whether or not public respondent gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. peaceful and credible elections. or with grave abuse of discretion. the Court has been liberal in defining the parameters of the COMELEC’s powers in conducting elections. The Commission on Elections. the COMELEC "abdicated its duty under its own rules of procedure and under the Constitution and the election laws. In accordance with this intent. 52-98. unless they are clearly illegal or constitute grave abuse of discretion. in holding that a motion to dismiss filed after the answer to an election protest case in the Regional Trial court is not allowed. according to petitioner. The purity of the elections is one of the most fundamental requisites of popular government. honest. It must be borne in mind that the purpose of governing statutes on the conduct of elections – …[i]s to protect the integrity of elections to suppress all evils that may violate its purity and defeat the will of the voters. amounting to lack of jurisdiction. in failing to resolve the relevant material and substantial issues raised in SPR No. the Commission must be given a considerable latitude in adopting means and methods that will insure the accomplishment of the great objective for which it was created – to promote free. The choice of means taken by the Commission on Elections. amounts to grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. and political questions must be dealt with realistically – not from the standpoint of pure theory.
Thus. Succinctly stated. The primordial issue to be resolved herein is whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in dismissing SPR No. 1999 after the creation of the Revision Committee and the appointment of its Chairman and Members and after the said committee was ordered by the trial court to commence the revision and to render its report within 20 days that the petitioner orally moved for the dismissal of the case on the flimsy grounds that (1) the ballot boxes subject of the protest and counter – protest have been violated. After the oral arguments on the oral motion to dismiss the petitioner requested for ample time within which to file an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss and over the vigorous opposition of the private respondent the same was granted by the court and the petitioner was given a period of
. In the matter of the administration of laws relative to the conduct of election xxx we must not by any excessive zeal take away from the Commission on Elections that initiative which by constitutional and legal mandates properly belongs to it. These events. It was only on September 1. We disagree. petitioner insists that there is "nothing irregular or anomalous in the filing of the motion to dismiss" after the filing of the answer because in effect he is merely insisting on a preliminary hearing of his special and affirmative defenses. much more so in this case considering that a mere twenty (20) votes separates the winner from the loser of the contested election results. he claims that the summary dismissal of his motion to dismiss is tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. 2. show that – 1. The filing of the motion to dismiss. pointed out by private respondent and borne by the record.for solving public problems. and (3) protestant is guilty of forum-shopping warranting summary dismissal of the protest. (2) the automated counting of ballots does not contemplate a manual recount of ballots. in fact. appears to be part of a perfidious plot to prevent the early termination of the proceedings in Election Case No. In support of his cause. 4847 as evidenced by a confluence of events clearly showing a pattern of delay employed by petitioner to avert the revision ballots. An election protest is imbued with public interest so much so that the need to dispel uncertainties which becloud the real choice of the people is imperative. laws and statutes governing election contests especially the appreciation of ballots must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the electorate in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by technical infirmities. Time and experience are necessary to evolve patterns that will serve the ends of good government. 52-98.
Lanao del Sur to Iligan City or in Metro Manila which the private respondent did not oppose so as not to delay the early resolution of this Honorable Supreme Court on the said petition. the petitioner filed a petition for transfer of venue of the trial to from RTC. the petitioner’s counsel filed a withdrawal of appearance with the attached letter-request of the petitioner asking for the deferment of the revision of ballots for at least two (2) weeks to enable him to engage the services of another counsel. issued an order for the revision of ballots on February 8. assisted by his numerous armed men. 11-27 until after his petition shall have been finally resolved which was granted by the trial court. instead the petitioner. Were it not for the maximum tolerance exercised by the PNP personnel and the intervention of the local datus/leaders.  the petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration on November 18. 4. As the Comelec En Banc did not give due course to petitioner’s prayer for writ of preliminary injunction. On said day. 3. 1998. After a denial of the motion to dismiss on November 10. 8. Considering that the incident was designed to delay the further the early disposition of the case which would frustrate the ends of justice. 5. the court held in abeyance its ruling on the withdrawal of appearance of and directed petitioner’s counsel to handle the case after the appearance of a new counsel. 1998. On September 11. 1998 that said rejoinder was filed. numbering around 30 stated (sic) in strategic places. 1999. 6. the scheduled revision of the ballots on December 14. 1998. 7.
. When the motion for reconsideration was denied on December 1. To further delay the proceedings of the case. neither the petitioner’s counsel nor his designated revisors appeared. Hence. 1998. 1998 was cancelled and the proceedings of the case held in abeyance. 1999. Branch 11. 1998 before the Commission on Elections a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction and asked the trial court to defer the proceedings of Election Case No. the trial court. 16 and 17. On February 9.ten (10) days to file the same and the private respondent was likewise given a period of ten (10) days to file his comment. the motion to dismiss and during the hearing on the said motion and the opposition thereto on September 21. 1998. there would have been bloodshed. the petitioner again asked for ample time to file a rejoinder to the vigorous opposition to motion to dismiss which was again granted by the court and it was only on September 28. upon motion of the private respondent. prevented the court personnel to enter the court premises. petitioner filed on December 18. Malabang. 15.
Branch III. are enough grounds to dismiss the case. xxx(emphasis and italics supplied) Petitioner further argues that his submissions that a. As a diabolical scheme to cause further delay of the proceedings of the case. 52-98. but in every case within six (6) months after filing. If petitioner truly intended to move for the preliminary hearing of his special and affirmative defenses as he claims. Iligan City not to promulgate any decision in the said election case until further order[s] from this most Honorable Court. and shall. decide the same. without delay. given the foregoing facts of this case. b. without granting the prayer for TRO.9. Rule 16 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. except those of habeas corpus.] the integrity of the ballot boxes has been violated. that the roundabout manner within which petitioner virtually substituted his answer by belatedly filing a motion to dismiss three (3) months later is a frivolous resort to procedure calculated to frustrate the will of the electorate. the petitioner filed an urgent motion before this Honorable Supreme Court praying for the immediate issuance of a TRO directing the Presiding Judge.
. and c. shall give preference to election contests over all other cases. directed the RTC. 10. Again. Suffice it to state in this regard that such a whimsical change of mind by petitioner can not be countenanced much more so in election cases where time is of the essence in the resolution thereof. Otherwise.] private respondent is guilty of forum-shopping. then he should have simultaneously moved for the preliminary hearing of his special and affirmative defenses at the time he filed his answer. Indeed. Iligan City to cease. the Omnibus Election Code states in no uncertain terms that – SEC. hear and within thirty (30) days from the date of their submission for decision. the petitioner filed the instant petition for certiorari before this Honorable Supreme Court with a prayer for issuance of temporary restraining order. 4847 until the instant case shall have been resolved. This Honorable Supreme Court. Preferential disposition of contests in courts. After the dismissal of the petition in Election Case No. It is clear. As pointedly observed by the COMELEC in its challenged Resolution dated July 6.] only rejected ballots or ballots manually counted are the proper subjects of an election protest. in their respective cases. 258. desist and refrain from conducting any further proceedings of Election Case No. 11. Branch III. 1999. he should have filed his motion to dismiss "within the time for but before filing the answer…" pursuant to Section 1. RTC. The RTC. the proceedings of the case was held in abeyance in view of the pendency of the said petition for transfer of venue. petitioner only filed his motion to dismiss "when the results of the trial appear[ed] to be adverse to him’" or right after the creation of the Revision Committee had been ordered by the trial court.
therefore. 8436 which prescribes the adoption of an automated election system."  It needs be stressed in this regard that the purpose of an election protest is to ascertain whether the candidate proclaimed elected by the board of canvassers is really the lawful choice of the electorate. Needless to state this can only be done through a full-blown trial on the merits. while conceding as much.A. 2868 to support his restrictive claim that only rejected ballots or ballots manually counted in case of failure of the automated counting machines are the proper subjects of an election protest. The bottom line is that by means of the manual count.. this Court ruled in Tupay Loong v. these grounds are "evidentiary in nature and can be best ventilated during the trial of the case. recounting and re-appreciation of the official ballots therein contained in accordance with law and pertinent rules on the matter. the best and most conclusive evidence are the ballots themselves. however. We hold. We cannot kick away the will of the people by giving a literal interpretation to
. As aptly observed by the COMELEC in the challenged Resolution. plebiscite. revision. No. is just as unpersuasive. to test the truthfulness of petitioner’s claim is to open the ballot boxes in the protested precincts followed by the examination. not a peremptory resolution of the motion to dismiss on the basis of the bare and one-sided averments made therein. the text and intent of this provision is to give the COMELEC all the necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the objective of holding free.. 8436. that the sanctity of the ballot boxes subject matter of the protest have been violated or the official ballots contained therein impaired. Congruent to this intent. where the ballots can not be produced or are not available.that the Commission is nevertheless not precluded from conducting a manual count when the automated counting system fails. that the vacuum in the law cannot prevent the COMELEC from levitating above the problem. initiative.We remain unconvinced. COMELEC. reasoning thus: … In enacting R. No. In an election contest where the correctness of the number of votes is involved. the will of the voters of Sulu was honestly determined. the COMELEC order for a manual count was not only reasonable. Congress obviously failed to provide a remedy where the error in counting is not machine related for human foresight is not all-seeing. However.A. other than the bare allegation of petitioner. There is admittedly a lacuna leges in R. referendum and recall. honest. the election returns would be the best evidence. In this case. peaceful and credible elections. The best way. this Court has not been niggardly in defining the parameters of powers of COMELEC in the conduct of our elections … In the case at bar. the counted official ballots are available and there is no evidence. It was the only way to count the decisive local votes . Petitioner’s reliance on COMELEC Resolution No." Undoubtedly. Section 2(1) of Article IX (C) of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad power "to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election. orderly.
the fact is the averments in petitioner’s counter-protest and private respondent’s protest already justified the determination of the issues through a judicial revision and recounting of the ballots pursuant to Section 255 of the Omnibus Election Code which provides that – Sec. a pre-proclamation case before the COMELEC is no longer viable. 255. however. The rule admits of exceptions. 8436. the actions of COMELEC may not be impeccable. indeed. Counting is part and parcel of the conduct of an election which is under the control and supervision of the COMELEC… … Our elections are not conducted under laboratory conditions. we have ruled in a number of cases that after a proclamation has been made. the filing of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto precludes the subsequent filing of a pre-proclamation controversy. We cannot. (2) quo warranto was not the
. R. candidates do not follow the rules of Emily Post.Where allegations in a protest or counter-protest so warrant or whenever in the opinion of the court the interests of justice so require.A. the legal compass from which the COMELEC should take its bearings in acting upon election controversies is the principle that "clean elections control the appropriateness of the remedy. however. it shall immediately order the book of voters. 8436 did not prohibit manual counting when machine count does not work. This procedure will prevent confusion and conflict of authority. (Italics supplied) So too must fall petitioner’s procedural objection that private respondent should be faulted for forum-shopping vis-à-vis this Court’s pronouncement in Samad v.R. Conformably.A. COMELEC has to make snap judgments to meet unforeseen circumstances that threaten to subvert the will of our voters. engage in a swivel chair criticism of these actions often taken under very difficult circumstances. In the process." Be that as it may. In running for public offices. Judicial counting of votes in election contest. COMELEC which states in no uncertain terms that – As a general rule. The reason is that once the competent tribunal has acquired jurisdiction of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto. Verily. ballot boxes and their keys. as where: (1) the board of canvassers was improperly constituted. ballots and other documents used in the election be brought before it and that the ballots be examined and votes recounted. thus depriving the COMELEC of the authority to inquire into and pass upon the title of the protestee or the validity of his proclamation. or amounts to the abandonment of one earlier filed. all questions relative thereto will have to be decided in the case itself and not in another proceeding. may even be debatable.. Too often.
proper remedy. As we pointed out in Melendres. Court of Appeals It must be noted that nowhere in Part VI of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure is it provided that motions to dismiss and bill of particulars are not allowed in election protests or quo warranto cases pending before regular courts. the trial court should be allowed to resolve the case on the merits to be able to rule on the factual and legal grounds raised by the petitioner as his defenses in his Answer. Rule 13 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure because the said provision refers to proceedings filed before the COMELEC. practice and procedure in all courts is vested in the Supreme Court. v. (3) what was filed was not really a petition for quo warranto or an election protest but a petition to annul a proclamation. To our mind. as reasoned by the COMELEC. The foregoing pronouncement. COMELEC:  Neither can petitioner seek refuge behind his argument that the motion to dismiss filed by private respondent is a prohibited pleading under Section 1. will not extricate petitioner from his predicament because the denial of petitioner’s motion to dismiss was based on the fact that the other grounds relied therein was considered unmeritorious and not because the said motion is a prohibited pleading in electoral protest cases. the – … Commission assumes the competence of the trial court to handle electoral protest and cannot encroach on its original and exclusive jurisdiction on electoral protest cases involving the contested mayoralty seat. the soundness of its discretion to accord unto the trial court the competence to resolve the factual issues raised in the controversy cannot be doubted. however. and (5) the proclamation was null and void. Petitioner’s argument that the filing of a motion to dismiss in an election contest filed with a regular court is not a prohibited pleading is well taken. he can still
. Should the petitioner be dissatisfied with the outcome of the case in the lower court. The applicable provisions on the matter are found in Part VI of the Rules of Procedure titled "PROVISIONS GOVERNING ELECTION CONTESTS BEFORE TRIAL COURT" and as this Court pointedly stated in Aruelo v. the COMELEC cannot adopt a rule prohibiting the filing of a certain pleading in the regular courts. Constitutionally speaking. The power to promulgate rules concerning pleadings. While the challenged COMELEC Resolution may not have been entirely correct in dismissing the petition in this regard. Jr. (4) the filing of a quo warranto petition or an election protest was expressly made without prejudice to the pre-proclamation controversy or was made ad cautelam. Indeed.
in the result. Davide. Buena. pp. pp.. Vitug.
Rollo.. 72-74. the letter or the spirit. Panganiban.. concur.  Record. pp. 175-184.. J.  Id. In applying elections laws.. pp. 144-174. C. p. pp.  Id.  Id. on leave. 216-218.. in view of all the foregoing. 58.. Jr.. 214-215. Annex O.  Id. 26-28. Melo.. 221.appeal. 219-220. harshly against or gently in favor of the voter’s obvious choice. pp. Petition. 125-143.  Id. it would be far better to err in favor of popular sovereignty than to be right in complex but little understood legalisms. JJ. to this Commission within the reglementary period provided by law.  Id. pp. pp.  Ibid. pp. the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. literal or liberal. 39-45. p. Bellosillo. Pardo. 138. Record. 90-124.  Id. p. legal syllogism or substantial justice. the question really boils down to a choice of philosophy and perception of how to interpret and apply the laws relating to elections. as his relief... SO ORDERED. Puno. Moreover – At balance.. pp..
. Quisumbing. and De Leon. pp. p. Gonzaga-Reyes. 222. the naked provision or the ultimate purpose.  Id.  Id.  Id.  Rollo... in isolation or in the context of social conditions. p.  Record.  Id. WHEREFORE. Kapunan.  Id.  Ibid. 30-38. and Purisima. pp. pp.J. 80-89. 223-225. Mendoza.  Id.. 32. 59-69... Jr... p. 226. pp. JJ..
242 SCRA 273 . p. v. 104 SCRA 591 . 144-174. pp.  Id... Annex 5.  Pangandaman v.R. Tabalba. 305 SCRA 832. 25 November 1999. 80-89.  G.  Rollo. supra. p. (1998). Pahilan v. Constitution.  Rollo. may file a protest with the Commission within ten (10) days from proclamation of the winning candidates in accordance with the Comelec Rules of Procedure. Petition. 257 SCRA 727 . Annex O.  Ibid. 1996 Elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao [ARMM]. 266-267. COMELEC. 26-28..  Punzalan v..
Rollo. No. pp. 3. 25 SCRA 377 . pp. COMELEC. v. The Law On Public Officers. COMELEC.  Id.  Id.. COMELEC. Petition. COMELEC. 129958. Aruelo. pp. De Leon v. citing Pacis v. 58. 45-47. p. 190 SCRA 827 . 9. 138. COMELEC. Section 11. COMELEC. Jr. Section 5 (5). p. the Commission shall examine and appreciate the rejected ballots concerned applying the provision of Section 7 of Resolution No. p.. that:
SEC.  Rollo. Examination of rejected ballots.  Pangandaman v. COMELEC. COMELEC Rules.  See also Rule 35. pp.  Lerias v. Petition. 14 April 1999.. 202 SCRA 808 . promulgated 14 August 1996). HRET. SEC.  Id. Unda v. 32-40.  Ibid.R. COMELEC.. p. which provides. 255. Comment. Annex A. CA. 199 SCRA 849 . Comment. 227 SCRA 311 .  Id. 2862 (Rules and Regulations on the Manual Counting and Canvassing of Votes in Case of Failure of the Automated Counting System in the September 9.R.. pp. 204. 40. 241-243. Annex 2. 
Cauton v. 15-16. citing Punzalan v. No. Guadiz. Tatlonghari v. 39. supra. who registers his objections on the rejection of ballots.  Id. Section 18 and Rule 36. 25 November 1999. G. No. inter alia. pp. citing Bince.  Id. 73 Phil. Filing of Protest. 230 SCRA 205 .. 1st ed. Only rejected ballots and ballots manually counted shall be the subject of protest.  227 SCRA 311 .. COMELEC. 2. 288 . Petition.  Frivaldo v. 134340. Annex 4. pp. pp. 1. 19 SCRA 911 . Annex C. – Any losing candidate.  G.  Agpalo R. 59-69. 133676. Jr. Jr. 289 SCRA 702 . – In determining the intent of the voter in the case of rejected ballots. the rejection of which have been objected to and noted in the Minute of Counting.  Record. Comment. pp. p.  Citing Article VIII.
. p. 262-265..  224 SCRA 631 . Annex A.
J. Rosa. PANGASINAN.  Petitioner’s request was supported by the Appeal-Petition containing several signatures of people purporting to be members of the electorate of Barangay Sto. Board of Election Tellers of Prec. 2002. San Jacinto. Rulloda and Remegio L. RULLODA.R.:
In the barangay elections of July 15. Nueva Ecija and
. the Board of Canvassers proclaimed Placido as the Barangay Chairman of Sto. Placido were the contending candidates for Barangay Chairman of Sto. On July 14. STO. vs. 30A/30A1. Tomas. wrote a letter to the Commission on Elections on June 25.EN BANC
[G. His widow. petitioner. Sta.  After the elections. 2003]
PETRONILA S. Romeo suffered a heart attack and passed away at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center. Election Officer Ludivico L. Nos. petitioner Petronila “Betty” Rulloda. Asuncion issued a directive to the Chairman and Members of the Barangay Board of Canvassers of Sto. January 20. acting on the separate requests of Andres Perez Manalaysay and Petronila Rulloda to be substituted as candidates for Barangay Chairman of Barangay La Fuente. On June 22. Romeo N. and REMEGIO PLACIDO. ASUNCION OF SAN JACINTO. Tomas. 2002. 31A1. No.‖
Based on the tally of petitioner’s watchers who were allowed to witness the canvass of votes during the July 15. ELECTION OFFICER LUDIVICO L. DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO. Tomas. Tomas as follows:
Just in case the names ―BETTY‖ or ―PETRONILA‖ or the surname ―RULLODA‖ is written on the ballot. TOMAS. petitioner learned that the COMELEC. Pangasinan. SAN JACINTO. 2002 elections. respondents. Despite this. and 32A1. PANGASINAN. 2002. read the same as it is written but add the words ―NOT COUNTED‖ like ―BETTY NOT COUNTED‖ or ―RULLODA NOT COUNTED. 154198. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (COMELEC). BARANGAY BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF BRGY. 2002 seeking permission to run as candidate for Barangay Chairman of Sto. 31A. petitioner garnered 516 votes while respondent Remegio Placido received 290 votes. Tomas in lieu of her late husband.
It contends that its Resolution No. Pangasinan.
Let the Law Department implement this resolution. Rosa. and 2. 4801 and Resolution No. respectively. Tomas. SO ORDERED. as it hereby RESOLVES. RULLODA. seeking to annul Section 9 of Resolution No. respondent Placido. 2002 which states:
PREMISES CONSIDERED. 2002 synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. namely. Substitution of candidates. Rosa. 5217. more particularly Section 9 thereof which reads:
The above-quoted Resolution cited as authority the COMELEC’s Resolution No. – There shall be no substitution of candidates for barangay and sangguniang kabataan officials.
Hence. 9. To direct the Election Officer of Sta. San Jacinto. the Commission RESOLVED. Private respondent Remegio Placido filed his Comment. Public respondent COMELEC also filed its Comment. Tomas. hence. Tomas. We find merit in the petition. setting forth the guidelines on the filing of certificates of candidacy in connection with the July 15. there was only one candidate for Barangay Chairman of Sto.
. Pangasinan. issued Resolution No. San Jacinto. and the name of PETRONILA S. Further. San Jacinto. 5217 dated July 13. substitution of candidates is not allowed. to ADOPT the recommendation of the Law Department as follows:
1. 2002. Pangasinan. Pangasinan to delete the name of ANDRES PEREZ MANALAYSAY. and to proclaim her as the duly elected Barangay Chairman of Sto. Therefore. both of the COMELEC. Tomas. 4801 was issued not pursuant to its quasi-judicial functions but as an incident of its inherent administrative functions over the conduct of the barangay elections. candidate for Barangay Captain in Barangay Sto. insofar as they prohibited petitioner from running as substitute candidate in lieu of her deceased husband. Nueva Ecija and San Jacinto. To deny due course the Certificates of Candidacy of ANDRES PEREZ MANALAYSAY and PETRONILA S. Nueva Ecija. RULLODA.Barangay Sto. arguing that since the barangay election is non-partisan. Tomas. petitioner filed the instant petition for certiorari. Sta. the same may not be the subject of review in a petition for certiorari. to nullify the proclamation of respondent. candidate for Barangay Chairman in Barangay La Fuente. 4801 dated May 23. the COMELEC alleges that it did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying due course to petitioner’s certificate of candidacy and in proclaiming respondent considering that he was the only candidate for Barangay Chairman of Sto. petitioner did not file any certificate of candidacy. Moreover.
Such a restrictive construction cannot be read into the law where the same is not written.At the outset. withdraws or is disqualified for any cause. the will of the voters. the absence of a specific provision governing substitution of candidates in barangay elections can not be inferred as a prohibition against said substitution. an election means the choice or selection of candidates to public office by popular vote through the use of the ballot. an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies. and certified by the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died. ignores the purpose of election laws which is to give effect to. Respondents did not deny this in their respective Comments. there can be no substitution because there is no political party from which to designate the substitute. For.
Private respondent argues that inasmuch as the barangay election is non-partisan.
. In our jurisdiction. which states:
Section 77. and the elected officials which are determined through the will of the electorate. Respondents base their argument that the substitution of candidates is not allowed in barangay elections on Section 77 of the Omnibus Elections Code. withdrawal or disqualification should occur between the day before the election and mid-day of election day. with the Commission. only a person belonging to. If the death. a fact that must have been subsumed by law. in all republican forms of government the basic idea is that no one can be declared elected and no measure can be declared carried unless he or it receives a majority or plurality of the legal votes cast in the election. there is no dispute that petitioner garnered 516 votes while respondent got only 290 votes. aside from being non sequitur. Sound policy dictates that public elective offices are filled by those who receive the highest number of votes cast in the election for that office. The substitute candidate nominated by the political party concerned may file his certificate of candidacy for the office affected in accordance with the preceding sections not later than mid-day of the election. An election is the embodiment of the popular will. Contrary to respondent’s claim. It is a solemn duty to uphold the clear and unmistakable mandate of the people. political laws must be so construed as to give life and spirit to the popular mandate freely expressed through the ballot. withdrew or was disqualified. there is more reason to allow the substitution of candidates where no political parties are involved than when political considerations or party affiliations reign. said certificate may be filed with any board of election inspectors in the political subdivision where he is a candidate or. disqualification or withdrawal of another. in the case of candidates to be voted by the entire electorate of the country. Candidates in case of death. the expression of the sovereign power of the people. Such an interpretation. The winner is the candidate who has obtained a majority or plurality of valid votes cast in the election. It is well-settled that in case of doubt. – If after the last day of the filing of certificates of candidacy. Indeed. rather than frustrate.
Election contests involve public interest... Carpio . insofar as it denied due course to petitioner’s certificate of candidacy. p. and the Board of Canvassers of the said Barangay is ORDERED to proclaim petitioner as the duly elected Barangay Chairman thereof.. the instant petition is GRANTED. Austria-Martinez. wherein it indubitably appears that petitioner’s letter-request to be allowed to run as Barangay Chairman of Sto. Laws governing election contests must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by mere technical objections. Corona. Ibid. Technicalities and procedural niceties in election cases should not be made to stand in the way of the true will of the electorate. in the result. Ibid. Sandoval-Gutierrez. p. 5217 of the Commission on Elections. pp. To reiterate. Sr. Ibid. The proclamation of respondent Remegio L.
WHEREFORE. 42-43. 49-64. p. is declared NULL and VOID. Mendoza. J. pp. Ibid. in the result. Pangasinan is SET ASIDE. JJ. 83. and technicalities and procedural barriers must yield if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate in the choice of their elective officials. 67.. 46. The Court frowns upon any interpretation of the law that would hinder in any way not only the free and intelligent casting of the votes in an election but also the correct ascertainment of the results.Private respondent likewise contends that the votes in petitioner’s favor can not be counted because she did not file any certificate of candidacy. Ibid.. pp..
Rollo. it was petitioner who obtained the plurality of votes in the contested election. he was the only candidate for Barangay Chairman. JJ. Bellosillo. and Azcuna. Tomas in lieu of her late husband was treated as a certificate of candidacy. His claim is refuted by the Memorandum of the COMELEC Law Department as well as the assailed Resolution No. Tomas. Davide. Placido as Barangay Chairman of Sto. The assailed Resolution No. Puno. San Jacinto. In other words. Ibid. 47. Panganiban. and Quisumbing. concur. 68-82.. pro hac vice only. Carpio-Morales. Vitug. in view of the foregoing. Callejo.. Jr.... p. SO ORDERED. 5217.
. 147909. April 16. Angeles. 235 SCRA 436..
Ibid. 257 SCRA 727 . Concurring Opinion of Justice Artemio V. pp. 582 . pp. 40-43. 122-125. No.
Rollo. supra.R. Ibid. 357 SCRA 545.
. 148941-42. Carlos v. Ibid.. Papandayan.R. Carlos v.. G. 566 . COMELEC. COMELEC. 33-39. 346 SCRA 571. Nos.
Bengson III v. Angeles.. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.. 133-137. citing Benito v. pp. citing Frivaldo v. March 12. pp. O’Hara v. Panganiban. 2002. et al. et al. at 38. COMELEC. Jr. 2002. 442 . v.. COMELEC. et al. G.
To deny due course to the Certificates of Candidacy of Romeo P. which essentially denied due course to the certificates of candidacy of petitioners herein.
. The pertinent portion of the assailed Resolution states:
Considering the foregoing.:
Petitioners herein. and New Aklan. Cross. vs. petitioners.. DECISION
AZCUNA. November 28. a letter-report was submitted by Acting Election Officer Alim to the Law Department of the Comelec which stated that petitioners herein are not residents of the barangays they wish to be elected in. and Ricardo L. 2002 Synchronized Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and Barangay Elections. Sr. issued En Banc Resolution No. Sarangani to delete their names from the Certified List of Candidates for Barangay Kagawad and Punong Barangay of Barangays E.. 2002. petitioner Lara filed his own certificate of candidacy in Barangay New Aklan on June 8. 2002. 5393. Young. HONORABLE LIRIO T. as it hereby RESOLVES. and RICARDO T. 2002. James Ceasar I. and Ricardo T. Congan. and 2. Sumayog. Sandigan Damie. HONORABLE JOSE P. Lara. were candidates for the Office of Barangay Captain of Barangays Congan and New Aklan respectively for the July 15. Eduardo T. HON.R. the Commission RESOLVED. respectively.EN BANC
[G. BALBUENA. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. 155087. Lara. LIM. On the day of the elections or on July 15. SAYA-ANG. 2002. Saya-ang. Saya-ang. JOQUINO and MANTIL D. Sr. On the other hand. respondents. LARA. 2003]
EDUARDO T. To direct the Election Officer of Glan. HONORABLE PIO JOSE S. J. No. to approve the recommendation of the Law Department as follows: 1. the Law Department of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) submitted its study to the Comelec en banc on July 9. Baliton. the Comelec. 2002 recommending the denial of due course to the certificates of candidacy of petitioners. Petitioner Saya-ang filed his certificate of candidacy in Barangay Congan on June 6. Alegado. SR. JOSON. Eduardo T. In turn. On July 19.
Lastly. On July 31. It also ordered the candidates concerned to desist from taking their oaths and from assuming the positions to which they have been elected. having garnered the most number of votes in their respective barangays.Without prejudice to the filing of criminal cases against them as the evidence so warrants under the circumstances. On August 9. He also directed the Barangay Board of Canvassers for Barangays Congan and New Aklan to reconvene immediately and proclaim the duly-elected candidates and to correct the certificates of canvass and proclamation. On August 21. Joson.” On August 14. the said memorandum ordered the Board of Canvassers to reconvene for the purpose of proclaiming the duly-elected candidates and correcting the certificates of canvass and proclamation. Provincial Election Supervisors and City/Municipal Election Officers. petitioners were still proclaimed as winners on July 16. Pio Jose S. petitioners took their oath of office before Alfredo L.
Despite the abovementioned Resolution. 5584. 2002. SO ORDERED. 2002. 5393 and Resolution No. 5666 amending its Resolution No. 5584. unless the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order. the Comelec en banc promulgated Resolution No. issued a Memorandum for all Regional Election Directors. Petitioners received the aforementioned directive on August 19. Jr. 2002. 2002. Barcelona. the Comelec en banc promulgated Resolution No. invoking and acting pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. issued a directive commanding petitioners to cease and desist from taking their oath of office and from assuming the position to which they were elected. Deputy Executive Director for Operations of the Comelec. 2002. On August 10. Pertinent portions of the amended resolution state:
I.. 2002. 2002.
ON PROCLAIMED CANDIDATES FOUND TO BE INELIGIBLE FOR BEING NOT REGISTERED VOTERS IN THE PLACE WHERE THEY WERE ELECTED xxx
. entitled “In the Matter of the Policy of the Commission on Proclaimed Candidates Found to be Ineligible for Being Not Registered Voters in the Place Where They Were Elected and on the Failure/ Omission of the Board of Canvassers to Include Certain Election Returns in the Canvass. the First Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Sarangani Province. Acting Election Officer Alim. This memorandum directed all election officers to delete the names of those candidates whose certificates of candidacy were denied due course despite the fact that said denial did not arrive on time. Let the Law Department implement this resolution. 5584 on the basis of the approved recommendations of Commissioner Sadain.
On that day. the decision of the Comelec had not yet become final and executory since petitioners still had until June 20. the proclamation of said disqualified candidate is hereby declared void from the beginning. Furthermore. Such jurisdiction continues even after the elections. 5393.
In the present case. even if the dispositive portion of the resolution disqualifying him or cancelling his certificate of candidacy does not provide for such an annulment. The Barangay Board of Canvassers rightly retained petitioners’ names in the list of qualified candidates and could not be faulted from counting the votes cast in
. unless restrained by the Supreme Court. and the candidate facing disqualification is voted for and receives the highest number of votes.Sarangani Province to reconvene at his office on September 13. DATED 15 JULY 2002. Acting Election Officer Alim. the instant petition anchored on the sole assignment of error:
THAT THE PROMULGATION OF THE EN BANC RESOLUTION NO. or on the very day of the elections. therefore. if for any reason no final judgment of disqualification is rendered before the elections. Glan. 3. using as his basis Comelec en banc Resolution No.(d)
For both (a) and (b).--. Decisions After Five Days.
At the very outset. 2002. in the event that the disqualified candidate is proclaimed the winner despite his disqualification or despite the pending disqualification case filed before his proclamation. 2002 to file their motion for reconsideration. 2002. the assailed Resolution denying due course to petitioners’ certificates of candidacy was promulgated on June 15.
On September 4.Decisions in pre-proclamation cases and petitions to deny due course to or cancel certificates of candidacy. BY RESPONDENT HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS IS PATENTLY ERRONEOUS BEING WITHOUT BASIS IN FACT AND IN LAW AND THE ISSUANCE OF WHICH IS IN GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING EVEN AS IT DOES TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION. and to postpone or suspend elections shall become final and executory after the lapse of five (5) days from their promulgation. 5666 issued a memorandum directing the Board of Canvassers of Barangay Congan. Hence. a decision by the Comelec to disqualify a candidate shall become final and executory only after a period of five days:
Sec. and provided further that the winning candidate has not been proclaimed or taken his oath of office. but which is subsequently resolved against him. 2002. to declare a candidate as nuisance candidate or to disqualify a candidate. with notice to the candidate concerned. it must be made clear that the Comelec has jurisdiction to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy.
therefore. The Resolution of respondent Comelec ordering their names to be deleted from the list of qualified candidates only became final and executory on June 20. petitioners. They claim that they only knew about Resolution 5393 on August 19. all candidates are deemed to have constructive notice of any administrative inquiry against them. The Comelec maintains. the Court notes again that petitioners have already been proclaimed as the winners in the elections. validly proclaimed as winners of the elections on June 16. for all intents and purposes. without any kind of hearing whatsoever. Also. the parties may be allowed to cross-examine the affiants. Petitioners certainly cannot read the minds of those tasked to look into their certificates of candidacy. in lieu of oral testimonies. Petitioners were. which was published in the Manila Standard and Manila Bulletin on May 25. wherein it was stated that the administrative inquiry of the Comelec on the eligibility of candidates starts from the time they filed their certificates of candidacy. having garnered the most number of votes. the cornerstone of every democratic society. were still in the running. 2002. The rules providing for the abovementioned summary hearing were mandated to accord due process of law to candidates during elections. Petitioners herein were not even informed of the administrative inquiry against them. at
. at the discretion of the Commission en banc or the Division.  It is the embodiment of the sporting idea of fair play.favor of the petitioners. it cites Resolution No. Rule 23 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure. In any proceeding. after due notice. or five days from the promulgation thereof. On the day of the elections or on June 15. 2002. and when there is a need for clarification of certain matters. when they were served a copy of the directive issued by Acting Election Officer Alim ordering them to cease and desist from taking their oath of office and from assuming the position to which they are elected. be required to submit their position papers together with affidavits. 2002. therefore. 2002. nor did they have any way of knowing that a proceeding had already been instituted against them and that they were entitled to present evidence on their behalf. the certificates of candidacy of those who are found not to be registered voters in the place where they seek to run for public office. the essence of procedural due process is embodied in the basic requirement of notice and a real opportunity to be heard. They have already taken their oaths of office and are. that under Section 3. nor were they called upon to adduce their own evidence and to meet and refute the evidence against them. 4801. it may motu propriodeny or cancel. The same rules also provide that when the proceedings are authorized to be summary. Instead. that by virtue of the said resolution. counter-affidavits and other documentary evidence. however. it asserts that by virtue of its administrative powers. 2002. Finally. Petitioners also maintain that they were never served a copy of the assailed Resolution and were never given the chance to present their evidence.  Respondent Comelec’s argument that petitioners have already been constructively notified of the inquiry against them cannot be given merit. This allegation was not disproved by respondent Comelec. the parties may. It is clear. a petition to cancel a certificate of candidacy shall be heard summarily after due notice. The right to due process is a cardinal and primary right which must be respected in all proceedings.
Davide. 571 (1999). Carpio-Morales. where the Court said that these various and numerous provisions were adopted to assist the voters in their participation in the affairs of the government and not to defeat that object. When voters have honestly cast their ballots. 211. Resolution No. C. al. 635 (1940). Section 78. and Tinga. Rodriguez. the same should not be nullified simply because the officers tasked under the law to direct the elections and guard the purity of the ballot did not do their duty. 48 Phil. Fabella v. pp. to give effect to the will of the electorate. Rule 39.
.. Sandoval-Gutierrez. Annex “C-1” of Petition. 32-33. Corona.. Part VII. Carpio.. Rule 17. Callejo. Ang Tibay v. concur. Tero. Court of Appeals. 310 SCRA 549. In Lambonao v. MR. JJ. p. Juan Domino v. pp. 108 (1996). Austria-Martinez. No pronouncement as to costs. Panganiban. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. Court of Industrial Relations. Joaquin G. 51-54. Puno. Comelec Rules of Procedure. rollo. p. pp. 15 SCRA 716. Section 3.. Vitug. it is an established rule of interpretation as regards election laws. 719 (1965) citing De Guzman v. 69 Phil. JUSTICE HOLMES AND THE SUPREME COURT. 20. 5393 of the respondent Commission on Elections en banc is SET ASIDE. p. SO ORDERED. Ynares-Santiago. THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES: A COMMENTARY.
Annex “B-4” of Petition. 39 Phil. Comelec. 38-49. Rollo. 269 (1997) citing Bernas. the instant petition is GRANTED.. Quisumbing. WHEREFORE. Cruz. 282 SCRA 256. 208. Petition. Jr. The rationale for this principle was explained in Lino Luna v. Article IX of the Omnibus Election Code. 215216. It was further held in the said case that while provisions relating to certificates of candidacy are mandatory in terms.. Sr. serving their constituents in their respective barangays.present. Rollo.J. Board of Canvassers and Lucero. 15. Isagani A. p. the Court held that defects in the certificates of candidacy should have been questioned on or before the election and not after the will of the people has been expressed through the ballots. 95 citing Frankfurter. that mandatory provisions requiring certain steps before elections will be construed as directory after the elections. Section 3. Comelec Rules of Procedure. et.
Before the Court is the petition for certiorari. YNARES-SANTIAGO.R. CALLEJO.J. 167101 Present: PANGANIBAN. ALEJANDRO. SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ. The assailed resolution affirmed the Resolution dated November 23. SR. prohibition and mandamus with prayer for temporary restraining order filed by Manuel A. QUISUMBING. J. C. PUNO. 2005 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc in SPC No.EN BANC MANUEL A. 2006 x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION CALLEJO.versus -
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. 04-195... Respondents. Petitioner. CARPIO MORALES. ISABELA. and the MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF ALICIA. 2004 of the COMELEC Second
. Promulgated: January 31.. DAMIAN L. Alejandro seeking to set aside the Resolution dated February 22. CHICO-NAZARIO. AZCUNA. CARPIO. No. and GARCIA. CORONA. AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ. G. SR. CO. TINGA.
Isabela to reconvene the Municipal Board of Canvassers for the purpose of correcting the errors committed in tallying the votes for the Vice-Mayoralty race in the said municipality and to proclaim the rightful winner therein. The Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation of the Winning Candidates for Municipal Offices prepared by the MBC showed that the petitioner obtained a total of 11. showing the victory of private respondent Co.866 votes. The total. petitioner Alejandro only obtained a total of 11. Alejandro and private respondent Damian L.
. After the canvass of votes. words and figures stated in all the election returns. based on the taras. Private respondent Co alleged that the MBC erroneously proclaimed petitioner Alejandro as the vice-mayor-elect.152 votes while private respondent Co received a total of 11.401 votes. 2004. 2004 national and local elections. private respondent Co filed a Petition to annul the proclamation of petitioner Alejandro on the ground that it was the result of manifest errors committed by the MBC in the canvassing of the election returns from the 156 precincts comprising the said municipality.Division directing the Election Officer of Alicia. the petitioner was proclaimed as the duly elected vice-mayor by the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) on May 13. However. 2004. On May 24. thereby making him the rightful winner of the disputed office with the winning margin of 249 votes. allegedly resulted from the correct addition of the votes received by each of said candidates based on the election returns from all the 156 precincts of the said municipality. Isabela during the May 10. The factual antecedents are as follows: Petitioner Manuel A. Co were rival candidates for Vice-Mayor of the Municipality of Alicia.
Even if the said date was a Sunday. 2004. For his part. therefore. Chairperson of the MBC. in this case. Petitioner Alejandro further argued that even assuming that the petition was one for declaration of nullity of proclamation.‖ more commonly known as ―dagdag-bawas. In her Answer. the petition should have been filed not later than 10 days from proclamation following several decisions of the Court.‖ committed by the MBC or its tabulators. Angangan. Since he was proclaimed on May 13. She prayed that the COMELEC issue an order to reconvene the MBC to correct the errors made in the Certificate of Canvass and Statement of Votes by Precincts. petitioner Alejandro insisted that the
. petitioner Alejandro prayed in his Comment that the petition to annul his proclamation be denied for being filed out of time. 2004. 2004. He alleged that the petition was actually one for correction of manifest errors and. not later than May 18. as clearly shown by a comparison of the election returns from the precincts concerned vis-à-vis the statement of votes per precinct and certificate of canvass.401 votes as against the 11. And that even if the errors were discovered after proclamation. the petition to annul his proclamation should have been filed by private respondent Co on May 23. Election Officer Teresita B.152 votes for petitioner Alejandro. private respondent Co should have won the elections after garnering 11. should have been filed as a pre-proclamation controversy.Private respondent Co asserted that he was the victim of ―vote-padding and vote-shaving. admitted that manifest errors were committed in the preparation of the statement of votes but denied for lack of sufficient knowledge the allegation of ―dagdag-bawas. it should have been filed within five days after proclamation or.‖ She submitted a table comparing the figures in the election returns and in the statement of votes in all 156 clustered precincts and pointed out that based on the election returns.
412 votes as against private respondent Co‘s 11. After consideration of the pleadings filed by the parties. No matter how the petition was treated – whether as a pre-proclamation controversy or a petition for annulment of proclamation – the period for filing thereof had lapsed. Pursuant to the November 23. Isabela is hereby ordered to reconvene the Municipal Board of Canvassers with the purpose of correcting the errors committed in tallying the votes for the Vice Mayoralty race in Alicia. 2004 and the filing of private respondent Co‘s petition. the COMELEC Second Division promulgated the Resolution dated November 23.
Petitioner Alejandro sought reconsideration of the said resolution and prayed for the deferment of the reconvening of the MBC.347 or a difference of 65 votes in favor of the former. the petition to declare the nullity of the proclamation of Manuel Alejandro is granted in part. Election Officer Angangan ordered the MBC to reconvene
. Petitioner Alejandro stressed that 11 days had passed between his proclamation on May 13. hence. there was no reason why private respondent Co could not have complied with the 10-day reglementary period. 2004. On the merits. 2004 COMELEC Second Division Resolution. the fallo of which reads:
WHEREFORE. premises considered. Isabela.same was a working day. he garnered a total of 11. SO ORDERED. The Election Officer of Alicia. The said motion likewise prayed for the dismissal of the petition for having been filed out of time and for utter lack of merit. petitioner Alejandro contended that he was the duly-elected vice-mayor as based on his own computation.
is hereby AFFIRMED. 2005. 2004 directing EO Teresita Angangan to 1) reconvene the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Alicia.The pertinent portion of the Order reads:
It appears that the foregoing motion for reconsideration is not accompanied by a filing fee in the amount of Five Hundred Pesos (P500.
.00). On February 22. The dispositive part of the resolution reads:
WHEREFORE. the Resolution of the Commission (Second Division) dated November 23.
Private respondent Co filed an Opposition/Comment stating that the COMELEC en banc had not acquired jurisdiction to hear and decide petitioner Alejandro‘s motion for reconsideration due to his failure to pay the required docket fee on time. SO ORDERED. as it hereby RESOLVES. in the light of the foregoing. Meanwhile. the Commission RESOLVED. the MBC reconvened on the said date and after re-canvassing the election returns. proclaimed private respondent Co as the duly-elected vice-mayor. and 2) determine and proclaim the rightful winner.on December 8. the COMELEC en banc issued a Resolution dismissing for lack of merit petitioner Alejandro‘s motion for reconsideration. 2004. The ―Opposition to Respondent‘s Supposed Motion for Reconsideration and Urgent Prayer for Deferment‖ is hereby noted. the COMELEC Second Division issued the Order dated December 8. ACCORDINGLY. Isabela for the purpose of correcting the errors committed in the tallying of votes for the Vice-Mayoralty race in Alicia. to DENY the instant Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit. the motion is hereby elevated to the Commission en banc for proper disposition. In view of the foregoing. elevating to the COMELEC en banc petitioner Alejandro‘s motion for reconsideration. In compliance therewith. 2004. Isabela.
DID NOT NULLIFY THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS ASSUMING THAT THERE WERE MANIFEST ERRORS. ASSUMED THAT THERE WERE MANIFEST ERRORS TO CORRECT DESPITE THE LACK OF ANY COMPETENT PROOF OF EXISTENCE OF MANIFEST ERRORS. C. DETERMINED THAT THE PETITION OF DAMIAN CO WAS TIMELY FILED.
E.1 THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS PROCEEDED WITH THE CANVASSING DESPITE THE TIMELY FILING OF A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND IT DID NOT ACT. B. the recourse to this Court by petitioner Alejandro alleging that:
THE COMELEC ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF ITS DISCRETION AND DENIED PETITIONER HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS WHEN IT: A. D.
. CONSIDER OR RULE ON THE MOTIONS TO NULLIFY THE EXECUTION OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE SECOND DIVISION. DID NOT IDENTIFY WHERE THE ERRORS THAT MUST BE CORRECTED LIE.4 THE EVIDENCE OFFERED BY THE FORMER ELECTION OFFICER WAS ILLEGALLY PROCURED. D. NOT THE ELECTION RETURNS.1 THE BASIS FOR THE CORRECTION WAS THE ANSWER OF THE FORMER ELECTION OFFICER.3 THE FORMER ELECTION OFFICER WAS NOT EVEN PRESENTED AS WITNESS. D. D. D. THE BEST EVIDENCE BEING THE ELECTION RETURNS AND STATEMENT OF VOTES THEMSELVES.2 THE FORMER ELECTION OFFICER WAS NOT EVEN AUTHORIZED TO REPRESENT THE MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS. E. FAILED TO ORDER THE CONDUCT OF HEARINGS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE DISPUTED ELECTION DOCUMENTS.
2005. 2005. The issues to be resolved are whether respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in: (1) ruling that private respondent Co‘s petition to annul petitioner Alejandro‘s proclamation was timely filed.
AFFIRMED A NON-EXISTENT RESOLUTION. Without waiting for the action of this Court. 2005. (2) admitting and considering the answer filed by Election Officer Angangan. The Court rules in the negative. the Court issued a Resolution requiring the parties to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the assailed COMELEC resolutions. the Chairperson of the MBC.
On March 29. ordering the petitioner to vacate the position of the Vice-Mayor of Alicia. Isabela. and to cease and desist from performing the functions thereof. (3) not conducting a hearing for the examination of the disputed election documents thereby depriving the petitioner of due process. and (4) ordering the MBC to reconvene to rectify its errors and to proclaim the winner in the ViceMayoralty race in Alicia. On April 5. the COMELEC en banc issued a Writ of Execution on March 30.F. Isabela. the petitioner filed a Manifestation with Urgent Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order or Status Quo Ante Order. First Issue: Whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in holding that private respondent Co’s petition to annul the proclamation was timely filed
the rule is that the petition may be filed on the next working day. Considering however. Again. 2004. Since private respondent Co‘s petition was filed on May 24.
. hence. Sundays. 2004 as working days in the COMELEC. it was still allegedly filed out of time since it was filed more than 10 days following the date of proclamation. The rule moving a deadline to the next working day if it falls on a Sunday is an acknowledgment that majority of our people consider Sunday a day of rest. Even if May 23. 6624 specifically declared all Saturdays. Even if the petition was one for the annulment of his proclamation.
The COMELEC en banc affirmed the foregoing ruling. This tack was allegedly adopted by private respondent Co to circumvent the mandatory five-day period to file a petition to correct manifest errors. The petitioner points out that he was proclaimed as the winning vicemayoralty candidate on May 13. it would not automatically mean that those intending to file their petitions should do so on a Sunday. 2004. 2004 to file the petition to nullify the proclamation. The COMELEC Second Division treated the petition as one for the annulment of petitioner Alejandro‘s proclamation as it held that:
The petition to declare the nullity of a proclamation should be within a reasonable period. the petitioner asserts that COMELEC Resolution No. then the same was filed out of time. Although it is again true that the Commission allowed its employees to render overtime work on May 23. or 11 days aft er the proclamation. and holidays from October 2003 until June 30.Petitioner Alejandro characterizes private respondent Co‘s petition filed with COMELEC as a ―dual-purpose‖ petition because it expressly prayed for both the correction of manifest errors and the declaration of nullity of the petitioner‘s proclamation. private respondent Co only had until May 23. 2004. that the tenth day after Alejandro‘s proclamation fell on a Sunday. 2004 fell on a Sunday. private respondent [herein petitioner] is correct when he said that the Supreme Court has declared that ten days is a reasonable period.
was an internal resolution intended merely for COMELEC employees. and holidays from October 2003 until June 30. which declared all Saturdays. Sundays. 6624.We hold that the COMELEC correctly ruled that the petition for annulment was filed well within the reglementary period to file the same. 2004 as working days in the COMELEC. The resolution was for the guidance of the employees to report for work during
. Resolution No.
it finds support in several cases decided by the Court. 2004.weekends and holidays because of the approaching elections. xxx
The COMELEC likewise did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it treated private respondent Co‘s petition as one for annulment of proclamation although it was denominated as also for correction of manifest errors. we held that where the relief sought is the correction of mathematical errors which are not attributable to incorrect entries in any of the election returns. we have held that one cannot put premium on technicalities over and above the noble and paramount duty of determining the will of the electorate. contests and offenses. statement of votes and certificate of canvass but in the mere computation of the votes reflected in those election
. 2004. in Mentang v.. the court has an imperative duty to ascertain by all means within its command who is the real candidate elected by the electorate. It was never conceived to limit the period for filing election controversies. COMELEC. Hence. Technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate in the choice of their elective officials .(Italics supplied) Instead of dismissing the petition for purely technical reasons. In Dela Llana v. he seasonably filed the same on the next working day or on May 24.. Laws (and rules) governing election contests must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by mere technical objections. In a catena of cases. a Sunday. since the last day for private respondent Co to file the petition to annul petitioner Alejandro‘s proclamation fell on May 23. it was ruled that:
Election contests involve public interest. For example. the COMELEC correctly considered the merits thereof. and for the general public to give them more time to register as voters. In an election case. COMELEC. In fact.
the only issue that remains unresolved is the allowance of the correction of what are purely mathematical and/or mechanical errors in the addition of the votes received by both candidates. The correction sought by private respondent and respondent MBCs of Tayug and San Manuel iscorrection of manifest mistakes in mathematical addition.
In Milla v. we upheld the COMELEC resolution which set aside the proclamation of the petitioner therein as a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on the basis of a petition for correction of votes in the statement of votes filed by the respondent therein:
Undoubtedly. Pangasinan. therefore. In this case. COMELEC. it is null and void. not a petition to correct manifest errors. respondent COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in setting aside the illegal proclamation. we sustained the power of the COMELEC to annul the proclamation. private respondent indisputably won the challenged seat in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the sixth district of Pangasinan. Jr. Any error in the statement ultimately affects the validity of the proclamation. it is a petition for annulment/declaration of nullity of proclamation. of a winning candidate for municipal councilor who had taken his oath and assumed office as such. by margin of 72 votes. Certainly. xxx Consequently. It does not involve the opening of ballot boxes. due to an alleged error in the tabulation of the statement of votes. Petitioner’s proclamation and assumption into public office was therefore flawed from the beginning. v. Hence. neither does it involve the examination and/or appreciation of ballots. the same having been based on a faulty tabulation. Balmores-Laxa. the manifest errors sought to be corrected involve the proper and diligent addition of the votes in the municipalities of Tayug and San Manuel. It is no proclamation at all and the
. If a candidate‘s proclamation is based on a Statement of Votes which contains erroneous entries. this only calls for a mere clerical act of reflecting the true and correct votes received by the candidates by the MBCs involved. In Bince.documents. We ruled therein that:
The Statement of Votes forms the basis of the Certificate of Canvass and of the proclamation.
Angangan. The petitioner adds that Angangan‘s answer included tabulation of votes which was not verified
Significantly. To recall. Second Issue: Whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in admitting the Answer filed by Angangan and ruling that manifest errors were committed
Petitioner Alejandro wonders how the COMELEC arrived at such a conclusion that errors were committed in the copying of results from the election returns to the statement of votes when not a single election return or a single statement of votes was presented by any party. in the Answer she filed with the COMELEC. tabulation and addition of votes and prayed that ―an order be issued to reconvene the Municipal Board of Canvassers. Hence. Alicia. Isabela. however.‖ Petitioner Alejandro. assails the said answer contending that it was filed solely by Angangan and did not have the conformity of the other members of the MBC. Isabela to correct the entries made in the Certificate of Canvass and Statement of Votes by Precincts. then Chairperson of the MBC of Alicia. the petition for correction of entries in the statement of votes was filed one month after the proclamation.proclaimed candidate‘s assumption of office cannot deprive the COMELEC of the power to annul the proclamation. She likewise admitted that there was incorrect tallying. respondent COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in treating private respondent Co‘s petition as one for the annulment of petitioner Alejandro‘s proclamation and holding that the same was timely filed. however. admitted that there was manifest error in the Certificate of Canvass and Proclamation. nor did it show the participation of the other members in its preparation and the filing thereof considering that the MBC is a collegial body. in Milla.
and that Angangan filed her answer when she was no longer a member of the MBC. The public and private respondents assert that as then Chairperson of the MBC, Angangan had no alternative but to file an answer because she received the summons sent by the COMELEC. Hence, even on the assumption that her answer was not that of the MBC, the respondents believe that it still constitutes evidence of the highest order. For the respondents, Angangan‘s allegations therein are admissions made by a party in the pleadings, and a responsible officer of the COMELEC. The respondents‘ contentions are correct. It should be added that the COMELEC possesses the power of supervision and control over Angangan, as Chairperson of the MBC, and the MBC. As such, the COMELEC thus aptly ratiocinated:
xxx [T]he statutory power of supervision and control by the COMELEC over the boards of canvassers includes the power to revise, reverse or set aside the action of the boards, as well as to do what the boards should have done, even if questions relative thereto have not been elevated by an aggrieved party to the COMELEC, for such power includes the power to initiate motu proprio or by itself such steps or actions as may be required pursuant to law. The COMELEC‘s power of direct supervision and control includes such authority as reviewing the actions of the board, extending an inquiry of questions affecting the genuineness of election returns beyond the election records of the polling places involved, annulling canvass or proclamation based on incomplete returns or on incorrect or tampered returns, invalidating a canvass or proclamation made in an unauthorized meeting of the Board of Canvassers either because it lacked a quorum or because the board did not meet at all, or requiring the board to convene by deputizing and instructing the City Treasurer to convene the Boards of Canvassers for the respective localities involved.
The petitioner avers in his memorandum that ―not a single election return or a single statement of votes was presented by any party.‖ In his petition filed with the Court, however, he attached a copy of the private respondent‘s petition
before the COMELEC which had a copy of the certificate of canvass of votes and the disputed election returns as annexes thereto. The correction of manifest errors has reference to errors in the election returns, in the entries of the statement of votes by precinct/per municipality, or in the certificate of canvass.Section 5(2), Rule 27 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure likewise provides:
2) When the issue involves the correction of manifest errors in the tabulation or tallying of the results during the canvassing as where (1) a copy of the election returns or certificate of canvass was tabulated more than once, (2) two or more copies of the election returns of one precinct, or two or more copies of certificate of canvass were tabulated separately, (3) there had been a mistake in the copying of figures into the statement of votes or into the certificate of canvass, or (4) so-called returns from non-existent precincts were included in the canvass, and such errors could not have been discovered during the canvassing despite the exercise of due diligence and proclamation of the winning candidates had already been made.
The following pronouncement of the COMELEC Second Division in its resolution is particularly instructive:
There is no question that errors were committed regarding the copying of the results of the elections from the Election Returns to the Statement of Votes. Both the public and private respondent admitted that errors were indeed made. They just differ as to who will be the real winner if these errors are corrected. According to public respondent, petitioner [herein private respondent] won; private respondent [herein petitioner] maintains he would still have won even if the errors were corrected. What is involved is a simple problem of arithmetic. The Statement of Votes involved in this case does not match the entries made in the election returns. It is thus imperative that a Municipal Board of Canvasser be immediately convened to correct with dispatch the errors committed in the tallying of votes.
Likewise, the COMELEC en banc found that:
In terms of the third issue, the contention of the private respondent [herein petitioner], that the Commission (Second Division) gravely erred in finding that he had admitted that there were manifest errors, cannot be given credence. Going over the records of the case, errors were indeed committed regarding the copying of results of the elections from the election returns to the SOV. It is already beside the point whether or not private respondent admitted such error.
The foregoing factual findings of the COMELEC, which are supported by substantial evidence, are binding on the Court. Hence, petitioner Alejandro‘s allegation that the manifest errors were based on lack of competent proof must fail. Third Issue: whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in not conducting a hearing for the examination of the disputed election documents
The petitioner contends that he and the private respondent have different versions of the correct computation. He insists that the COMELEC should have conducted hearings to determine where the alleged tabulation errors lie. By failing to conduct hearings, the petitioner asserts that he was denied due process and was not given the opportunity to prove that the manifest errors in the election documents in fact do not exist. The petitioner‘s claim of denial of due process does not persuade. We quote hereunder the pertinent portion of the November 23, 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division:
Despite the admission of private respondent [petitioner Alejandro herein] that there were indeed errors in the tallying of votes, pursuant to the ruling by the Supreme Court in Bince, Jr. v. Comelec, We cannot annul the proclamation of private respondent without notice and hearing. This requirement will be
satisfied when the Municipal Board of Canvassers convenes and corrects the errors committed in the original tallying of votes.
In his motion for reconsideration filed with the COMELEC en banc, the petitioner averred that he was notified, through the undated Notice signed by Angangan, that ―the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Alicia, Isabela, will reconvene on December 8, 2004, at nine o‘clock in the morning at the Session Hall, Sangguniang Bayan, Alicia, Isabela. xxx‖ In administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or an opportunity to explain one‘s side or opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. A formal trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all situations essential to due process. Verily, ―to be heard‖ does not only mean presentation of testimonial evidence. One may also be heard through pleadings and where opportunity to be heard through pleadings is accorded, there is no denial of due process. This opportunity was made completely available to the petitioner who not only participated in the proceedings before the MBC but also sought reconsideration of the resolution of the COMELEC Second Division. In fact, the issues raised by the petitioner in his motion for reconsideration were extensively passed upon by the COMELEC en banc in the assailed resolution. Fourth Issue: Whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion when it ordered the MBC to reconvene to rectify its errors and to proclaim the winner in the vice-mayoralty race in Alicia, Isabela
The petitioner avers that when he filed the motion for reconsideration of the November 23, 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division, the order to
order or ruling. of which notice shall be served in advance upon the parties or their attorneys personally or by registered mail or by telegram. or within the five-day reglementary period. resolution.‖ Section 5.‖ The rationale for reckoning the period from thedate of promulgation was explained. 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division. thus: ―A party cannot feign ignorance of the date of promulgation of a decision or resolution because it is previously fixed and notice is served upon him in advance. Section 2. 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division. Given these defects. – The promulgation of a decision or resolution of the Commission or a Division shall be made on a date previously fixed.
The petitioner maintains that his motion for reconsideration was timely filed on December 1. the date he received a copy of the November 23. Worse. in effect. 2004. the filing fee therefor was paid only on December 13. Promulgation. Period for Filing Motions for Reconsideration. 2. The petitioner cannot count the five-day reglementary period from November 26. or ruling of a Division shall be filed within five (5) days from the promulgation thereof. Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides:
Sec. 2004. order. 2004. 5. Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure clearly provides that the motion for reconsideration should be ―xxx filed within five (5) days from the promulgation thereof. resolution. Such motion. since he received a copy of the November 23. suspends the execution or implementation of the decision. Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure which reads:
Sec. 2004 as more than five days had lapsed from the promulgation of the November 23. the petitioner‘s
The petitioner‘s motion for reconsideration was thus filed late on December 1. suspended by virtue of Section 2.—A motion to reconsider a decision. 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division on November 26. 2004. if not proforma.reconvene the MBC was. This contention is not quite correct.
may be made. Chairman of the Board. In any case. forgery. She admitted that there were indeed manifest errors committed by the Board in the preparation of the Statement of Votes but denied that ―dagdag-bawas was done. fraud. EO Angangan also submitted a table comparing the figures in the Election Returns and in the Statement of Votes in all 156 clustered precincts. to ascertain the true returns with the end in view that upon the basis thereof. thus:
xxx ―The teaching of past experience is that every effort should be strained. It is true indeed that after
. private respondent maintains he would still have won even if the errors were corrected. public respondent Election Officer Teresita B. What is involved here is a simple problem of arithmetic.401 votes as against the 11. practiced. Both the public and private respondent admitted that errors were indeed made. every means should be explored.152 votes for private respondent. The Statement of Votes involved in this case does not match the entries made in the election returns. In this table (Annex 1 of public respondent‘s Answer).‖ She maintained that there was nodagdag-bawas but a mere error in tabulation or tallying. she pointed out that based on the Election Returns. Angangan. proclamation untainted by force. According to public respondent. They just differ as to who will be the real winner if these errors are corrected. petitioner won. 2004. 
The COMELEC en banc upheld the reconvening of the MBC. It is thus imperative that a Municipal Board of Canvasser be immediately convened to correct with dispatch the errors committed in the tallying of votes. submitted her answer. the COMELEC Second Division justified the reconvening of the MBC in this wise:
On June 21. perpetrated and repeated several times over by the Municipal Board of Canvassers. xxx There is no question that errors were committed regarding the copying of the results of the elections from the Election Returns to the Statement of Votes. petitioner [private respondent herein] should have won the elections after garnering 11. 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division. mistake and the like.motion for reconsideration could not have the effect of suspending the execution of the November 23.
. Isabela should be upheld. which is to proclaim the winning candidates. continued the canvass and proclaimed a winner based on the result of such canvass. it was said. There is no controversy that discrepancies exist in the statement of votes and that reflected in the questioned election returns. the determination of the true will of the electorate should be paramount.proclamation. the resolution of the COMELEC directing the MBOC to reconvene to rectify the errors it committed in tallying the votes for the vice-mayoralty race in Alicia. the Board of Canvass ers becomes functus officio after it has performed its last task. Where the Board of Canvassers. in essence. This. the canvass and proclamation were made in violation of the lawful order of the COMELEC. the proclamation cannot be said to have been in faithful discharge of its ministerial duty under the law.‖ While it is true that as a general rule. the Highest Tribunal had the opportunity to cite an exception to such general rule in Javier vs. such as the almost illimitable resources of lawyers and the delay that may be occasioned may well frustrate the ends of the protest.
We find no grave abuse of discretion in the foregoing COMELEC pronouncements. Victory may just be in sound. that must prevail. The underlying theory therefore. But that may not prove effective. and not in substance. not ours or of anyone else. ―above and beyond all. is the ministerial duty of the Board of Canvassers to base the proclamation on the election returns of all the precincts of the municipality. It is their voice. COMELEC. Furthermore. A number of factors. Considering that any error in the statement of votes would affect the proclamation made on the basis thereof. where an election return has been amended by court order or the election return from a certain precinct has been wrongfully or erroneously excluded by the Board of Canvassers. it may be deemed functus officio in the sense that the members of the board have no power voluntarily to reassemble and re-canvass the returns. is the democracy we continue to hold sacred. We held that the COMELEC has the power to order a new canvass of the election returns even after a proclamation had already been made. as in this instance with knowledge that the return from one precinct is undoubtedly vitiated by clerical mistake. where it stated that ―it may be conceded as a general proposition that when a Board of Canvassers has fully performed its duty and proclaimed the result of the election according to law and adjourned sine die. But the foregoing pronouncement finds no application in this case where as already ruled. Indeed. the losing candidate may yet have the remedy of an election protest.
WHEREFORE. premises considered. PANGANIBAN Chief Justice
REYNATO QUISUMBING Associate Justice
S. SO ORDERED. the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the Resolutions of the COMELEC Second Division and en banc dated November 23. MARTINEZ Associate Justice
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ Associate Justice Associate Justice
ANTONIO T. CALLEJO. The status quo order heretofore issued is hereby ordered LIFTED.
ROMEO J. Associate Justice
ARTEMIO V. 2004 andFebruary 22. 2005.
LEONARDO Associate Justice
A. are AFFIRMED. respectively.
it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court. Article VIII of the Constitution.RENATO C. PANGANIBAN Chief Justice
Pursuant to Section 13. CORONA Associate Justice
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate Justice
ADOLFO S. TINGA Associate Justice
ARTEMIO V. CHICO-NAZARIO Associate Justice
CANCIO C. AZCUNA Associate Justice
Subject to the concurrence by resolution of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Olongapo and the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipalities of Subic. as well as settles some relevant questions on jurisdiction -. 12. Serye 1993. Bataan. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. which among others. In this action for certiorari and prohibition. J.EN BANC
[G. 1992. protecting and promoting the people's exercise of direct democracy. Subic Special Economic Zone. vs. 2848 promulgated on June 27. it institutionalized people power in law-making. amend or repeal laws. 10. 1996]
SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY. 1996 and Resolution No. 125416. 7227 (The Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992). Morong and Hermosa.R.: The 1987 Constitution is unique in many ways. provided for the creation of the Subic Special Economic Zone. ENRIQUE T. In this Decision. thus:
The Facts On March 13. of the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong. . there is hereby created a Special Economic and Free-port Zone consisting of the City of Olongapo and the
. It also sets down some guidelines in the conduct and implementation of these two novel and vital features of popular democracy. Congress enacted Republic Act No. GARCIA and CATALINO A. 1996denying petitioner's plea to stop the holding of a local initiative and referendum on the proposition to recall Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. this Court distinguishes referendum from initiative and discusses the practical and legal implications of such differences. petitioner seeks to nullify the respondent Commission on Elections' Ruling dated April 17. the present Constitution concurrently vested such prerogatives in the electorate by expressly recognizing their residual and sovereign authority to ordain legislation directly through the concepts and processes of initiative and of referendum. September 26. CALIMBAS.all with the purpose of nurturing.
DECISION PANGANIBAN. Learning from the bitter lesson of completely surrendering to Congress the sole authority to make. respondents. petitioner. No. For one thing.
the American navy turned over the Subic military reservation to the Philippine government. the President of the Philippines shall issue a proclamation defining the metes and bounds of the zone as provided herein. conveyed. Calimbas and their companions filed a petition with the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong to annul Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. Within thirty (30) days after the approval of this Act. 10. 10 Serye 1993 ng Sangguniang Bayan para sa pag-anib ng Morong sa SSEFZ na walang kundisyon. ipatutupad at isasagawa para sa kapakanan at interes ng Morong at Bataan:
. Serye 1993. the lands occupied by the Subic Naval Base and its contiguous extensions as embraced.  Petitioner was organized with an authorized capital stock of P20 billion which was fully subscribed and fully paid up by the Republic of the Philippines with." (Underscoring supplied)
RA 7227 likewise created petitioner to implement the declared national policy of converting the Subic military reservation into alternative productive uses.” On November 24. In April 1993. 1993. On May 24. Bawiin. Immediately. among other assets. houses and other installations left by the American navy. airports. 1992. nulipikahin at pawalang-bisa ang Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. 12 of RA 7227. covered and defined by the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America as amended. hereinafter referred to as the Subic Special Economic Zone whose metes and bounds shall be delineated in a proclamation to be issued by the President of the Philippines. 1993. Province of Bataan. Serye 1993 to the Office of the President. as well as permanent improvements and fixtures upon proper inventory not otherwise alienated. On September 5. expressing therein its absolute concurrence. "(a)ll lands embraced. or transferred to another government agency. covered and defined in Section 12 hereof. petitioner commenced the implementation of its task. particularly the preservation of the seaports. II. Palitan ito ng isang Pambayang kapasiyahan na aanib lamang ang Morong sa SSEFZ kung ang mga sumusunod na kondisyones ay ipagkakaloob. each local government unit shall submit its resolution of concurrence to join the Subic Special Economic Zone to the Office of the President. and within the territorial jurisdiction of the Municipalities of Morong and Hermosa. Serye 1993. Thereafter. Bataan passed a Pambayang Kapasyahan Bilang 10. the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong submitted Pambayang Kapasyahan Bilang 10. the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong. buildings.Municipality of Subic. as required by said Sec. The petition prayed for the following:
"I. respondents Garcia. Province of Zambales. to join the Subic Special Economic Zone.
Hermosa at sa Lalawigan. et al. herein respondents resorted to their power of initiative under the Local Government Code of 1991. Not satisfied. (B) Ihiwalay ang Grande Island sa SSEFZ at ibalik ito sa Bataan. Sec. xxx xxx xxx
. (K). (D) Payagang magtatag rin ng sariling 'special economic zones' ang bawat bayan ng Morong. particularly those concerning the matters cited in items (A)."
The Sangguniang Bayan of Morong acted upon the petition of respondents Garcia. by promulgating Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. 122. Serye 1993. (K) Isama ang mga lupain ng Bataan na nakapaloob sa SBMA sa pagkukuenta ng salaping ipinagkaloob ng pamahalaang national o 'Internal Revenue Allotment' (IRA) sa Morong. Calimbas. (B). (I) Tapusin ang pagkokonkreto ng mga daang Morong-Tala-Orani at Morong-TasigDinalupihan para sa kabutihan ng mga taga-Bataan at tuloy makatulong sa pangangalaga ng mga kabundukan. Hermosa at Bataan. (E) Ibase sa laki ng kanya-kanyang lupa ang pamamahagi ng kikitain ng SBMA. (G) Ibase rin ang alokasyon ng pagbibigay ng trabaho sa laki ng nasabing mga lupa. Hermosa at Dinalupihan. No. 18. (E) and (G) of private respondents' petition.isang bundok na hindi nagagalaw at punong-puno ng malalaking punong-kahoy at iba't-ibang halaman. and within 30 days from submission of their petition. The Sangguniang Bayan ofMorong also informed respondents that items (D) and (H) had already been referred to and favorably acted upon by the government agencies concerned. pati na rin ng iba pang bayan ng Bataan. 7227. (J) Magkakaroon ng sapat na representasyon sa pamunuan ng SBMA ang Morong. Procedure in Local Initiative.A.(A) Ibalik sa Bataan ang 'Virgin Forests' -. requesting Congress of the Philippines to amend certain provisions of R. such as the Bases Conversion Development Authority and the Office of the President. 122 paragraph (b) of which provides as follows:
"Sec. (H) Pabayaang bukas ang pinto ng SBMA na nasa Morong ng 24 na oras at bukod dito sa magbukas pa ng pinto sa hangganan naman ng Morong at Hermosa upang magkaroon ng pagkakataong umunlad rin ang mga nasabing bayan.
1996. and Comelec Resolution No. On February 1.
xxx xxx x x x. 1993. Bataan". may invoke their power of initiative. On July 13. respondent Commission En Banc in Comelec Resolution No.(b) If no favorable action thereon is taken by the sanggunian concerned. 12 of RA 7227. giving notice thereof to the sanggunian concerned. 1993. x x x"
The Issues The petition presents the following "argument":
. petitioner instituted the present petition for certiorari and prohibition contesting the validity of Resolution No. 532 defining the metes and bounds of the SSEZ. that public respondent "is intent on proceeding with a local initiative that proposes an amendment of a national law. 10. 93-1676 insofar as it prevented the Provincial Election Supervisor of Bataan from proceeding with the authentication of the required number of signatures in support of the initiative and the gathering of signatures. 2848 providing for "the rules and guidelines to govern the conduct of the referendum proposing to annul or repeal Kapasyahan Blg. On August 15. 93-1676) further directed its Provincial Election Supervisor to hold action on the authentication of signatures being solicited by private respondents. 1996. On June 27. the Comelec promulgated the assailed Resolution No. the proponents. and which indicated. inter alia. Bataan". pursuant to Sec. 1996. private respondents instituted a petition  for certiorari and mandamus before this Court against the Commission on Elections and the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong. 931623 denied the petition for local initiative by herein private respondents on the ground that the subject thereof was merely a resolution (pambayang kapasyahan) and not an ordinance. 2848 and alleging. the scheduled referendum Day (July 27. On June 18. On July 10. 2845. the President of the Philippines issued proclamation No. Saturday). 1996. respondent Comelec issued Resolution No. to set aside Comelec Resolution No. including Grande Island and that portion of the former naval base within the territorial jurisdiction of the Municipality of Morong. Serye 1993 of the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong. public respondent Comelec En Banc (thru Comelec Resolution no. through their duly authorized and registered representatives. among others. Said proclamation included in the SSEZ all the lands within the former Subic Naval Base. Bataan. 1995. adopting therein a "Calendar of Activities for local referendum on certain municipal ordinance passed by the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong. Serye 1993. 93-1623 insofar as it disallowed the conduct of a local initiative to annul Pambayang Kapasyahan Bilang 10."
On July 6. 1993.
(3) x x x public respondent has not abused its discretion and has in fact acted within its jurisdiction. 10. identified two issues. dated July 22. Karaan for respondent Catalino Calimbas. dated July 22. Garcia. Solicitor General Raul Goco. Oscar L. (and) (4) x x x the concurrence of local government units is required for the establishment of the Subic Special Economic Zone. Garcia. 1996 and (b-2) counsel for private respondent Enrique T. (2) x x x petitioner seeks to overturn a decision/judgment which has long become final and executory. Serye 1993 of the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong. (b) Separate Comments on the petition. 1996 and (c) Manifestation filed by counsel for petitioner dated July 22. 1996. in his Reply (should be Comment) joined petitioner's cause because "(a)fter several meetings with petitioner's Chairman and staff and after consultation with legal counsel. Atty."
In his Comment. it issued the following resolution:
"The Court Resolved to (1) GRANT the Motion to Admit the Attached Comment filed by counsel for private respondent Enrique T. private respondent Garcia claims that (1) petitioner has failed to show the existence of an actual case or controversy."
On July 23. At the hearing of this case this morning. Assistant Solicitor General Cecilio
."Respondent Commission on Elections committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in scheduling a local initiative which seeks the amendment of a national law. Whether or not the Comelec can be enjoined from scheduling/conducting the local intiative proposing to annul Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. Sixto Brillantes for private respondent Enrique T. 1996 and (2) NOTE the: (a) Reply (should be comment) to the petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunctiom. after which. filed by counsel for respondent Catalino Calimbas. now the incumbent Mayor of Morong. Rodolfo O. as follows:
"1. and Atty. 1996. Garcia." The Solicitor General. Bataan. respondent Calimbas discovered that the demands in the petition for a local initiative/referendum were not legally feasible. as counsel for public respondent." Private respondent Calimbas. Reyes appeared and argued for petitioner Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) while Atty. 1996. filed by: (b-1) the Solicitor General for respondent Commission on Elections dated July 19. dated July 22. 2. Whether or not the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in denying the request of petitioner SBMA to stop the local initiative. the Court heard oral argument by the parties.
Bataan is now sought to be enjoined by petitioner x x x". namely G..R. At 2:50 p. Thereafter. July 23.' In view of this Order. July 26. it bears emphasizing. the Court received by facsimile transmission an Order dated also on July 23. no part due to relationship. Bataan on the subject proposition -. 1996. No. the petitioner's application for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction has become moot and academic and will thus not be passed upon by this Court at this time.m.. the Court believes that the issues may be restated as follows:
(1) Whether this petition "seeks to overturn a decision/judgment which has long become final and executory". the Court directed the counsel for both parties to INFORM this Court by Friday. 1996 from the respondent Commission on Elections En Banc inter alia 'to hold in abeyance the scheduled referendum (initiative) on July 27. the submission of which to the people of Morong. 111230. Enrique Garcia. 1996 pending resolution of G. Bellosillo." and (3) Whether the questioned local initiative covers a subject within the powers of the people of Morong to enact. Commission on Elections.e. al. et al. J. Bataan. July 27. the case shall be considered SUBMITTED for resolution. is on leave. 125416.the very same proposition. Puno. et.O. Commission on Elections.  on "the very issue raised in (the) petition: whether or not there can be an initiative by the people of Morong. whether such initiative "seeks the amendment of a national law. 1996. whether or not Commission on Elections would push through with the initiative/referendum this Saturday. Garcia. 10. Before the Court adjourned. 2848 which "govern(s) the conduct of the referendum proposing to annul or repeal Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. vs. vs. No.. Serye 1993 of the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong.R.."
After careful study of and judicious deliberation on the submissions and arguments of the parties."
First Issue: Bar by Final Judgment Respondent Garcia contends that this Court had already ruled with finality in Enrique T. et al. J. Estoesta and Solicitor Zenaida Hernandez-Perez appeared for respondent Commission on Elections with Solicitor General Goco arguing. 1996. i. et al.
. (2) Whether the respondent Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in promulgating and implementing its Resolution No.
The Constitution clearly includes not only ordinances but resolutions as appropriate subjects of a local initiative. resolves.Local initiative is the legal process whereby the registered voters of a local government unit may directly propose. whereby the people can directly propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof passed by the Congress. provide for a system of initiative and referendum. but also decrees. 10. as a legislature. or amend any ordinance. edicts. What is at issue here is whether Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. as early as possible. Title XI. serye 1993 of the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong.' It is basic that a law should be construed in harmony with and not in violation of the Constitution. is sufficient in form and substance for submission to the people for their approval. 2848.
. to disregard the more usual or apparent import of the language used. we reviewed our rollo in said G. including not merely physical acts. or local legislative body x x x'. 111230 and we found that the sole issue presented by the pleadings was the question of "whether or not a Sangguniang Bayan Resolution can be the subject of a valid initiative or referendum". They rely on Section 120. if the words or provisions are obscure. petitioner is not contesting the propriety of municipal resolution as the form by which these two new constitutional prerogatives of the people may validly exercised. . The only issue resolved in the earlier Garcia case is whether a municipal resolution as contra-distinguished from an ordinance may be the proper subject of an initiative and/or referendum. . -. or if the enactment is fairly susceptible of two or more construction. whether the Comelec acted properly and juridically in promulgating and implementing Resolution No.' "
Moreover.' We reject respondent's narrow and literal reading of the above provision for it will collide with the Constitution and will subvert the intent of the lawmakers in enacting the provisions of the Local Government of 1991 on initiative and referendum.R. awards and determination x x x. Book I of the Local Government Code of 1991 which provides: 'Local Initiative Defined. and the exceptions therefrom. that interpretations will be adopted which will avoid the effect of unconstitutionality. judgement. Black defines an acts 'an expression of will or purpose . . . even though it may be necessary. Serye 1993.We disagree. In line with this postulates. it may denote something done . No. in fine. In the present case. we held in In Re Guarina that if there is doubt or uncertainly as to the meaning of the legislative. for this purpose. laws. enact. Section 32 of Article VI provides in luminous language: 'The Congress shall. Bataan is the proper subject of an initiative. 10. An actincludes a resolution. We quote from our said Decision:
"In light of this legal backdrop. the essential issue to be resolved in the case at bench is whether Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. Chapter 2. Respondents take the negative stance as they contend that under the Local Government Code of 1991 only an ordinance can be the subject of initiative. as worded.
1. not once was the word "initiative" used in said body of Resolution No. Referendum on statutes which refers to a petition to approve or reject an act or law. this exercise is unquestionably an INITIATIVE. and c. "Referendum Board of Canvassers" and the ballots themselves bore the description "referendum". Initiative on local legislation which refers to a petition proposing to enact a regional. To begin with. Congress differentiated one term from the other. provincial. the canvassers. The Comelec labeled the exercise as a "Referendum". (c) "Referendum" is the power of the electorate to approve or reject a legislation through an election called for the purpose. the counting of votes was entrusted to a "Referendum Committee".
(b) "Indirect initiative" is exercise of initiative by the people through a proposition sent to Congress or the local legislative body for action. city. 2848 The main issue in this case may be re-started thus: Did respondent Comelec commit grave abuse of discretion in promulgating and implementing Resolution No. namely:
c. in the body of the Resolution as reproduced in the footnote below the word "referendum" is repeated at least 27 times. thus:
(a) "Initiative" is the power of the people to propose amendments to the Constitution or to propose and enact legislations through an election called for the purpose. There are statutory and conceptual demarcations between a referendum and an initiative.1. 2848.Second Issue: Sufficiency of Comelec Resolution No. resolution or ordinance. but "initiative" is not mentioned at all. a. and a. municipal.2. the documents were called "referendum returns".2. or barangay law. resolution or ordinance enacted by regional assemblies and local legislative bodies. Initiative on statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact a national legislation. And yet. or part thereof. In enacting the "Initiative and Referendum Act. In fact. namely:
. passed by Congress. Initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing amendments to the Constitution.3. 2848? We answer the question in the affirmative. It may be of two classes. Referendum on local law which refers to a petition to approve or reject a law. the process started by private respondents was an INITIATIVE but respondent Comelec made preparations for a REFERENDUM only. There are three (3) systems of initiative. To repeat.
Should the proponents be able to collect the number of signed conformities within the period granted by said statute. ordinance." The foregoing definitions. The local referendum shall be held under the control and direction of the Comelec within sixty (60) days in case of provinces and cities. referendum is begun and consented to by the law-making body. the local legislative body is given the opportunity to enact the proposal. Cruz defines initiative as the "power of the people to propose bills and laws. Under Sec. for approval or rejection. in a local referendum. 13 of R. Said referendum shall be conducted also under the control and direction of the Commission on Elections.Along these statutory definitions.A. -. The Comelec shall certify and proclaim the results of the said referendum. Initiative is a process of law-making by the people themselves without the participation and against the wishes of their elected representatives. forty-five (45) days in case of municipalities and thirty (30) days in case of barangays. and to enact or reject them at the polls independent of the legislative assembly. the Commission on Elections "shall then set a date for the initiative (not referendum) at which the proposition shall be submitted to the registered voters in the local government unit concerned x x x". "SEC. while initiative is entirely the work of the electorate. On the other hand. giving notice thereof to the local legislative body concerned. any ordinance or resolution which is duly enacted or approved by such law-making authority. are echoed in the Local Government Code (RA 7160) substantially as follows:
"SEC. the proponents through their dulyauthorized and registered representatives may invoke their power of initiative."
Prescinding from these definitions. 120. -.Local referendum is the legal process whereby the registered voters of the local government units may approve. he explains that referendum "is the right reserved to the people to adopt or reject any act or measure which has been passed by a legislative body and which in most cases would without action on the part of electors become a law. which are based on Black's and other leading American authorities. we gather that initiative is resorted to (or initiated) by the people directly either because the law-making body fails or refuses to enact the law. amend or reject any ordinance enacted by the sanggunian. If its refuses/neglects to do so within thirty (30) days from its presentation. Local Initiative Defined." On the other hand. the law-making body submits to the registered voters of its territorial jurisdiction. while referendum consists merely of the electorate approving
. 126. In other words.Local Initiative is the legal process whereby the registered voters of a local government unit may directly propose. resolution or act that they desire or because they want to amend or modify one already existing. enact. or amend any ordinance. Justice Isagani A. 6735. Local Referendum Defined.
the power to withdraw such concurrence and/or to substitute therefor a conditional concurrence is no longer within the authority and competence of the Municipal Council of Morong to
. 124 (b) of RA 7160 (the Local Government Code). stressing that under Sec. or "concepts". "local initiative shall cover only such subjects or matters as are within the legal powers of the sanggunians to enact.A. the Comelec exercises administration and supervision of the process itself.
Third Issue: Withdrawal of Adherence and Imposition of Conditionalities -. if it decided to so enact. the process and the voting in an initiative are understandably more complex than in a referendum where expectedly the voters will simply write either "Yes" or "No" in the ballot. the "Secretary of Local Government or his designated representative shall extend assistance in the formulation of the proposition. [Note: While the above quoted laws variously refer to initiative and referendum as "powers" or "legal processes". Care must also be exercised that "(n)o petition embracing more than one subject shall be submitted to the electorate. In the exercise of its authority.Ultra Vires? Petitioner maintains that the proposition sought to be submitted in the plebiscite. hence the respondent Commission cannot control or change the substance or the content of legislation. No." Elsewise stated. This is especially true where the proposed legislation is lengthy and complicated. 10. these can also be "rights". Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. as Justice Cruz terms them.or rejecting what has been drawn up or enacted by a legislative body. Hence. Subic and Hermosa) gave their resolutions of concurrence. it follows that there is need for the Comelec to supervise an initiative more closely.] From the above differentiation. Serye 1993. akin to its powers over the conduct of elections. 7227." although "two or more propositions may be submitted in an initiative". each such part to be voted upon separately. 1995 in accordance with Section 12 of R. After the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong and the other municipalities concerned (Olongapo. a local initiative may enact only such ordinances or resolutions as the municipal council itself could. or "the proposal" itself (in the case of initiative) being referred to in this Decision. whose metes and bounds had already been delineated by Proclamation No." In initiative and referendum. 532 issued on February 1. its authority thereon extending not only to the counting and canvassing of votes but also to seeing to it that the matter or act submitted to the people is in the proper form and language so it may be easily understood and voted upon by the electorate. It should be noted that under Sec. is ultra vires or beyond the powers of the Sangguniang Bayan to enact. These law-making powers belong to the people. and by reason of which the SSEZ had been created. and should thus be broken down into several autonomous parts. namely. 13 (c) of RA 6735. it may (in fact it should have done so already) issue relevant and adequate guidelines and rules for the orderly exercise of these "people-power" features of our Constitution.
Once created. the resolution is just a proposal. It passes upon errors of law (and sometimes of fact. Furthermore. then there would be nothing to contest and to adjudicate. courts may decide only actual controversies. the Supreme Court is basically a review court. 2848. 18 of R. SSEZ has ceased to be a local concern. it is quite clear that the Court has authority to review Comelec Resolution No. petitioner insists. such withdrawal can no longer be enacted or conditionalities imposed by initiative. not hypothetical questions or cases. in the exercise of its review powers. then there is nothing to declare as illegal. the Court agrees with private respondent Garcia that indeed. If the people should reject it during the referendum. In the present case.legislate. we are in no wise suggesting that the Comelec itself has no power to pass upon proposed resolutions in an initiative. At this point. Thus. we are ruling that these matters are in fact within the initiatory jurisdiction of the Commission -. However. instrumentality or court which this Court could take cognizance of and acquire jurisdiction over. there is really no decision or action made by a branch. it is merely a proposal and the writ of prohibition cannot issue upon a mere conjecture or possibility. Having said that. Morong cannot unilaterally withdraw its concurrence or impose new conditions for such concurrence as this would effectively render nugatory the creation by (national) law of the SSEZ and would deprive the entire nation of the benefits to be derived therefrom. petitioner adds.A. 6735. In other words. and by which the same should have been decided in the first instance. It is not yet an approved law. for that matter. On the other hand. Quite the contrary. Hence. Deliberating on this issue. It is only when the people have voted for it and it has become an approved ordinance or resolution that rights and obligations can be enforced or implemented thereunder. In other words.to which then the herein basic questions ought to have been addressed. or passed upon by any "branch or instrumentality" or lower court. It has become a national project. the Comelec in the exercise of its quasi-judicial and administrative powers may adjudicate
. Should the people reject it. Hence. 2848 to determine the commission of grave abuse of discretion. The Comelec simply included verbatim the proposal in its questioned Resolution No. We also note that the Initiative and Referendum Act itself provides  that "(n)othing in this Act shall prevent or preclude the proper courts from declaring null and void any proposition approved pursuant to this Act x x x. as in the case of mandatory appeals of capital offenses) of lower courts as well as determines whether there had been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any "branch or instrumentality" of government. Constitutionally speaking. the creation of SSEZ is now a fait accompli for the benefit of the entire nation. it does not have the same authority in regard to the proposed initiative since it has not been promulgated or approved. The Commission on Elections itself has made no reviewable pronouncements about the issues brought by the pleadings." So too. private respondent Garcia counters that such argument is premature and conjectural because at this point. the municipal resolution is still in the proposal stage. while regular courts may take jurisdiction over "approved propositions" per said Sec. the specific conditionalities included in the questioned municipal resolution are beyond the powers of the Council to impose.
the question of whether the subject of this initiative is within the capacity of the Municipal Council of Morong to enact may be ruled upon by the Comelec upon remand and after hearing the parties thereon. obeyed and implemented (ipagkakaloob.for the plebiscite. Another question which the parties may wish to submit to the Comelec upon remand of the initiative is whether the proposal. where the proposals or parts thereof are patently and clearlyoutside the "capacity of the local legislative body to enact.
Epilogue In sum.e. the ". embraced." Accordingly. and it may be added. we hold that (i) our decision in the earlier Garcia case is not a bar to the present controversy as the issue raised and decided therein is different from the questions involved here. even as to content. The ownership of said lands is a question of fact that may be taken up in the proper forum -. 13 (e) of R. 2848 and in preparing -.. and (iii) that the said Commission has administrative and initiatory quasi-judicial jurisdiction to pass upon the question of whether the proposal is sufficient in form and language and whether such proposal or part or parts thereof are clearly and patently outside the powers of the municipal council of Morong to enact. it would be fruitful for the parties and the Comelec to plead and adjudicate. respectively. lands.but may not agree with any of the conditions set forth in Item II. A voter may favor Item I -. covered and defined in Section 12 hereof.. Series of 1993.i. ipatutupad at isasagawa) for the benefit and interest of Morong and Bataan.and pass upon such proposals insofar as their form and language are concerned. with. 10. On the other hand. nullify and render without effect ( bawiin. nulipikahin at pawalangbisa) Municipal Resolution No. we shall not pass upon the third issue of ultra vires on the ground of prematurity. assuming it is within the capacity of the Municipal Council to enact.. (ii) the respondent Commission should be given an opportunity to review and correct its errors in promulgating its Resolution No.. the question of whether Grande Island and the "virgin forests" mentioned in the proposed initiative belong to the national government and thus cannot be segregated from the Zone and "returned to Bataan" by the simple expedient of passing a municipal resolution.
. Item "I" is a proposal to recall.. We note that Sec. aside from cash and other assets. Should the proposal then be divided and be voted upon separately and independently? All told. he may want a total dismemberment of Morong from the Authority -.A.the Commission on Elections. and therefore violative of law. While on the subject of capacity of the local lawmaking body. . Item "II" proposes to change or replace (palitan) said resolution with another municipal resolution of concurrence provided certain conditions enumerated thereunder would be granted.if necessary -. may be divided into several parts for purposes of voting. 7227 speaks of the full subscription and payment of the P20 billion authorized capital stock of the Subic Authority by the Republic. as discussed earlier." which includes said island and forests.
Rollo. Jr.. supra.. Bellosillo. initiative and referendum are powerful and valuable modes of expressing popular sovereignty. Vitug.  Sec. Puno. to facilitate and not to hamper the exercise by the voters of the rights granted thereby. and Hermosisima. vs. Bernas. Manolo B. Kapunan. Romero.  Republic Act No.. 2848 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.  See footnote no. Fr. signed by Chairman Bernardo P. this Court early on expressly recognized the revolutionary import of reserving people power in the process of law-making. The initiative on Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. Like elections.J. 10. And this Court as a matter of policy and doctrine will exert every effort to nurture. And the Commission on Elections can do no less by seasonably and judiciously promulgating guidelines and rules. Maambong. IT IS SO ORDERED. WHEREFORE the petition is GRANTED.  Sec. Salazar-Fernando. Padilla. as above discussed. Guiani. et al. For it is but sound public policy to enable the electorate to express their free and untrammeled will. but also in the formulation of the very rules and laws by which our society shall be governed and managed. with a view to helping fulfill our people's aspirations for the actualization of effective direct sovereignty. We are remanding the matter to the Comelec so that proper corrective measures. Garcia. are new in our country. the Court realizes that initiative and referendum.. C. Gorospe. Pardo and Comms. J." Impelled by a sense of urgency. For its part. September 30. 38-46. Narvasa. Indeed we recognize that "(p)rovisions for initiative and referendum are liberally construed to effectuate their purposes. Julio F. 3. RA 7227. Melo.J. 12.  Enrique T. Regalado E. 13 (e) (1). Teresita Dy-Liaco Flores and Japal M. 7160. No costs.  p. treasures these "instruments which can be used should the legislature show itself indifferent to the needs of the people.  Reply. Remedios A. pp. 1994. Congress also interphased initiative and referendum into the workings of local governments by including a chapter on this subject in the local Government Code of 1991." In his authoritative treatise on the Constitution.In deciding this case. p.
Rollo. for both national and local use.. JJ. 6735 to give life and form to the constitutional mandate. not only in the election of their anointed lawmakers and executives. Francisco.. 237 SCRA 279. 5. S. Regalado. Davide. Commission on Elections. protect and promote their legitimate exercise. JJ. Joaquin G. as concepts and processes. 13 (a). p. in implementation of these laws. RA 7227. Serye 1993 is REMANDED to the Commission on Elections for further proceedings consistent with the foregoing discussion. and Mendoza. et al. on official leave. may be undertaken. Resolution No. Congress enacted Republic Act No. Desamito.. concur. Jr.
. 10. no part due to relationship.
Supra.The Commission on Elections shall have direct control and supervision over the conduct of the referendum. 1995 Congressional and Local Elections shall function and be used in the referendum. See also petitioner Garcia's Memorandum. (D) Payagang magtatag rin ng sariling "special economic zones" and bawat bayan ng Morong. pati na rin ng iba pang bayan ng Bataan. SECTION 7. as well as the per diems of the members of the Referendum committees and overtime compensation of the members of the Board of Canvassers. . . G. nulipikahin at pawalang bisa and Pambayang Kapasyahan Blg. BATAAN. II.The referendum shall be held on July 27. 10. SECTION 1. . Bataan. SECTION 4. "REFERENDUM". Who may vote." The following question shall be provided in the official ballots: "DO YOU APPROVE OFTHE PROPOSITIONS CONTAINED IN THE SIGNED PETITION TO ANNUL OR REPEAL PAMBAYANG KAPASYAHAN BLG. referendum returns. Rollo. Republic Act No. No.R. (E) Ibase sa laki ng kanya-kanyang lupa ang pamamahagi ng kikitain ng SBMA. Expenses forms and paraphernalia.The official ballots to be used in the referendum shall bear the heading: "OFFICIAL BALLOT". "JULY 27. RESOLVED AS IT HEREBY RESOLVES to promulgate the following rules and guidelines to govern the conduct of the referendum proposing to annul or repeal Kapasyahan Blg. duly registered as such in the May 8. the Executive Director and the Director of the Finance Services Department are directed to submit the budget thereon and to request the Department of Budget and Management to immediately release the necessary amount. is the text of Resolution 2848: NOW. rollo.  For easy reference. For this purpose. 111230. 1996". BATAAN". In case of deficiency. pp. . Serye 1993 ng Sangguniang Bayan para sa pag-anib ng Morong sa SSEZ na walang kondisyon. 6735. of the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong. (G) Ibase rin ang alokasyon ng pagbibigay ng trabaho sa laki ng nasabing mga lupa. "MORONG. Bataan. Bawiin. . SECTION 6. OF THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF MORONG. WHICH READ AS FOLLOWS: 'I. The voting shall start at seven o'clock in the morning and shall end at three o'clock in the afternoon. ipatutupad at isasagawa para sa kapakanan at interes ng Morong at Bataan: (A) Ibalik sa Bataan ang "Virgin Forests" -. the Commission on Elections. Official ballots. Bataan during the May 8.isang bundok na hindi nagagalaw at punong-puno ng malalaking punong-kahoy at iba't-ibang halaman. 10. and those who are registered in the special registration of voters scheduled on June 29. shall be chargeable against the available funds of the Commission. THEREFORE. minus the preamble or "whereas" clauses. Supervision and control. Do not put any distinctive mark on any part of this ballot. Bataan.The expenses in the holding of the referendum. shall prepare the lists of voters for the entire municipality. Area of coverage. 1995 Congressional and Local Elections. at pp. 1996. . shall be entitled to vote in the referendum.The qualified voters of Morong. 134-147.
. (B) Ihiwalay ang Grande Island sa SSEZ at ibalik ito sa Bataan. said municipality. . the Omnibus Election Code and other related election laws. Palitan ito ng isang Pambayang Kapasyahan na aanib lamang ang Morong sa SSEZ kung ang mga sumusunod na kondisyones ay ipagkakaloob. SECTION 5. Republic Act No.The referendum shall be held in the entire municipality of Morong. Hermosa at sa lalawigan. 10.The same precincts and polling places that functioned in the municipality of Morong. and other forms and the procurement of supplies and paraphernalia. 82 (Solicitor General's Comment). the Election Officer. SECTION 2. which shall include the printing of official ballots. 1996. Hermosa at Dinalupihan. SERYE 1993. by virtue of the powers vested upon it by the Constitution. p. SECTION 3. Serye 1993. and underneath. the following instructions: "Fill out this ballot secretly inside the voting booth. (K) Isama ang mga lupain ng Bataan na nakapaloob sa SBMA sa pagkukuenta ng salaping ipinagkaloob ng pamahalaang national o "Internal Revenue Allotment" (IRA) sa Morong. (H) Pabayaang bukas ang pinto ng SBMA na nasa Morong ng 24 na oras at bukod dito sa magbukas pa ng pinto sa hangganan naman ng Morong at Hermosa upang magkaroon ng pagkakataong umunlad rin ang mga nasabing bayan. Precincts and polling places. Date of referendum and voting hours. subject to such changes under the law as the Commission may find necessary. 290-291. 7160. quoted verbatim hereunder.
supported by a Statement of Votes per Precinct. on the basis thereof. The Board shall meet at the session hall of the Sangguniang Bayan of Morong. Civic. SECTION 14. a Poll Clerk. within three (3) days from proclamation. the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987 (Republic Act No. . Information Campaign. SECTION 16.There shall be a period of information campaign which shall commence immediately. be sent to the Election Records and Statistics Department of the Commission. a principal of the school district or the elementary school. (3) The third copy shall be submitted to the Provincial Governor of Bataan. Preparation and distribution of copies of the referendum results.The pertinent provisions of Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. Each member of the Referendum Committee shall be entitled to a per diem of Two Hundred Pesos (P200. SECTION 15. Dissemination. . and a Third Member who shall all be public school teachers. the Municipal Treasurer and the most senior District School Supervisor or.There is hereby created a Referendum Board of Canvassers which shall be composed of the Provincial Election Supervisor of Bataan as Chairman. to be distributed as follows: (1) The first copy shall be delivered to the Referendum Board of Canvassers. and shall immediately canvass the referendum returns and shall not adjourn until the canvass is completed. SECTION 13.(I) Tapusin ang pagkokontre-to ng mga daang Morong-Tala-Orani at Morong-Tasig-Dinalupihan para sa kabutihan ng mga taga-Bataan at tuloy makatulong sa pangangalaga ng mga kabundukan. . honest. . 6646) and other related election laws which are not inconsistent with this Resolution shall apply to this referendum. Referendum returns and distribution of copies thereof. (4) The fourth copy shall be kept in the Office of the Election Officer of Morong.
. SECTION 11. (2) The second copy shall be forwarded to the Election Records and Statistics Department of the Commission. Effectivity.The referendum returns shall be prepared by the Referendum Committee in three (3) copies. (J) Magkaroon ng sapat na representation sa pamunuan ng SBMA ang Morong. Bataan. and. Implementation. 881). . Referendum Committee. SECTION 10. and as Members thereof. shall certify and proclaim the final results.This Resolution shall take effect on the seventh day after its publication in two (2) daily newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines. Referendum Board of Canvassers. The Executive Director shall furnish the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management. During this period. peaceful and credible referendum. The Election Officer of Morong. Said copies shall be distributed as follows: (1) The original shall. Notice of said meeting shall be posted in conspicuous places in the Municipal Hall and other public places within the municipality. shall implement this Resolution to ensure the holding of a free. the Board shall prepare and accomplish the Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation in five (5) copies.The Education and Information Department shall cause the immediate publication of this Resolution in two (2) daily newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines and give this Resolution the widest publicity and dissemination possible. SECTION 9. the Secretary of the Department of Education.'?" SECTION 8. Bataan not later than four o'clock in the afternoon of Referendum Day. (2) The second copy shall be filed in the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor of Bataan. orderly. (5) The fifth copy shall be submitted to the Municipal Mayor of Morong. Hermosa at Bataan.The Executive Director. SECTION 12. in the latter's absence. to be appointed by the Commission through the Election Officer of Morong.00) for services rendered on the day of the referendum. Constructive discussions and debates shall be encouraged and the voters assured of the freedom to voice their opinion regarding the issue. professional. assisted by the Deputy Executive Director for Operations and the Directors of the Finance Services Department. . . Bataan. Administrative Services Department and Election and Barangay Affairs Department. . Bataan. but shall not include the day before and the day of the referendum. and (3) The third copy shall be deposited inside ballot box. Bataan shall convoke barangay assemblies or "pulong-pulongs" within the municipality. religious.The voting and counting of votes shall be conducted in each polling place by a Referendum Committee composed of a Chairman. the Chairman shall issue a written notice to the Members of the Board that it shall convene at four o'clock in the afternoon of Referendum Day to canvass the referendum returns. business. Applicability of election laws. . youth and any other similar organizations may also hold public rallies or meetings to enlighten the residents therein of the issues involved.As soon as all the returns have been canvassed. At least five (5) days before the day of the referendum.
the Municipal Treasurer.J. 3. 2d. Vol. Bouvier's Law Dictionary. Vol.. "The 1987 Constitution now adds: 'Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable.. the District School Supervisor. 705 and 1152. 761 ). 1979 edition. the Provincial Governor of Bataan." -Pimentel.. Jr. Republic Act 6735. Thus. 13 (d). 10 (a). p. RA 6735. 3rd edition.. approved on August 4. Roxas. 17 SCRA 756. I. and the Election Officer. 7160. 56 et seq.A. Bernas.' x x x" -Fr. 10. local initiatives cannot propose the enactment of the death penalty for any crime because the imposition of (such) penalty is not within the competence of the local sanggunian to enact. See Book I.  Cf.  Sec. RA 6735. Vol. The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines . there can be no occasion for the exercise of judicial power unless real parties come to court for the settlement of an actual controversy and unless the controversy is such that can be settled in a manner that binds the parties by the application of existing laws. It is 'the authority to settle controversies or disputes involving rights that are enforceable and demandable before the courts of justice or the redress of wrongs for violation of such rights' (citing Lopez v. 237. 68. 21-A.  Philippine Political Law.  Bernas.  R. p. 169. at p.  "Judicial power has been defined in jurisprudence as 'the right to determine actual controversies arising between adverse litigants. 18. 36A. II. pp. The Local Government Code of 1991.  Rollo. each a copy of this Resolution the widest publicity possible within the municipality.  "Thus. See also Words and Phrases. 12.S. 255. 5. et al. 1989. supra. Title Nine. and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. p. II. Handbook on the Courts and the Criminal Justice System. pp. Commission on Elections. 1996 Ed. 653.  Sec. United States. SO ORDERED. Sec. 1988 edition. 14. 42 Am. pp. RA 6735. 346 [1911).. 1991 edition.  Sec.
. p. 288.  42 Am. 179 et seq. cit. duly instituted in courts of proper jurisdiction' (citing Muskrats v..  Sec.A Commentary. op. and the Municipal Mayor. Joaquin G. the Provincial Election Supervisor of Bataan. 1993 edition. p. Narvasa C. Vol. Bataan. and Vol. S.J. at p..  Sec. 17. RA 6735. RA 6735. Chapter 2.  Black's Law Dictionary. all of Morong.  Garcia vs.  Andres R. 1569. 219 U. Jur 647 et seq.Culture and Sports.
On September 12. 96-2951. 96-2951 dated October 15. Acting on the petition. private respondent filed with the Local Election Registrar in Tumauni. 1996. DE ALBAN. In turn acting on the abovementioned Memorandum of Deputy Executive Director Joson. March 5.. The facts of this case are not disputed. respondents. 126576.EN BANC
[G.incumbent Mayor Ricardo Angobung. 1996 recommending approval of the petition for recall filed by private respondent and its signing by other qualified voters in order to garner at least 25% of the total number of registered voters as required by Section 69(d) of the Local Government code of 1991. 1996. ANGOBUNG.
. AURORA S. a Petition for Recall against petitioner. the COMELEC en banc issued the herein assailed Resolution No. Isabela. Isabela on November 9. against petitioner . 962951. vs. DECISION
HERMOSISIMA. No. 1996. COMMISSSION ON ELECTIONS EN BANC. 1996. for approval. (2) set the further signing of said petition by the rest of the registered voters of Tumauini. 1996. Subsequently said petition was forwarded to the Regional Office in Tuguegarao. Deputy Executive Director for Operations Pio Jose Joson submitted to the COMELEC En Banc. On October 25.:
Before us on certiorari is a petition seeking to annul and set aside Resolution No. 1997]
MAYOR RICARDO M. Sometime in early September. and (3) in case the said petition is signed by at least 25% of the total number of registered votes in Tumauni. scheduled the recall election on December 2. J.herein private respondent Ma. Cagayan and then to the main office of COMELEC in Manila. petitioner received a copy of this petition. Petitioner won as the duly elected Mayor of the Municipality of Tumauini. a Memorandum  dated October 8. petitioner. Isabela. and ATTY. Aurora Siccuan de Alban. this court issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining public respondent COMELEC from implementing and enforcing Resolution No. Private respondent de Alban was also a candidate in said elections. Isabela in the local elections of 1995. 1996 issued by public respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) which (1) approved the Petition for Recall filed and signed by only one registered voter . He garnered 55% of all the votes cast.R. JR.
there can be no application of the one year bar. COMELEC Private respondent is correct in saying that in the light of our pronouncement in Paras v. “regular local election” in Section 74 of the Local Government Code of 1991 which provides that “no recall shall ta ke place within one (1) year x x x immediately preceding a regular local election. or with the Provincial Election
. and (2) that the resolution scheduled the recall election within one (1) year from the May 12. 1996 on the twin grounds (1) that the issue of the one-year bar on recall elections has been resolved in the case of Paras v. COMELEC. Thus. is no different from that provided for in COMELEC Resolution No. 1996. the recall of public officials voted for in popular elections. Pursuant to Section 59 thereof. which states that “the Commission on Elections shall conduct and supervise the process of and election on recall x x x and. and the ground(s) for the recall.The recall of an elective provincial. Each notice shall refer to only one official. in pursuance thereof. We. 4. How instituted. city or municipal official shall be commenced by the filing of a duly verified notice of recall containing the address and precinct number of the voter filing the notice. In at least three (3) urgent motions. on two main grounds: (1) that the resolution approved the Petition for Recall albeit same was signed by just one person in violation of the statutory 25% minimum requirement as to the number of signatures supporting and petition for recall.Petitioner now attacks the aforementioned resolution as being unconstitutional and therefore invalid. 2272 Sections 4 and 5 of which provide as follows:
―Sec. hence no invalidity may be ascribed to Resolution No.” the COMELEC promulgated Resolution No. promulgate the necessary rules and regulations. otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1983. COMELEC promulgated on November 4. Before the enactment of the 1991 Local Government Code. et al. 337. the recall election scheduled on December 2. was governed by Sections 54 to 59 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 96-2951 on this ground. however. and the name of the official sought to be recalled. is to be actually contested and filled by the electorate. . 1997 Barangay Elections. in the instant case where the time bar is being invoked by petitioner mayor in view of the approaching Barangay Elections in May 1997. 1997 Barangay Elections. 96-2951 involving petition signing upon initiation of even just one person. 2272 which was upheld as constitutional in the 1991 cases of Sanches. v. COMELEC andEvardone v. 1996 in the instant case cannot be said to be barred by the May 12. private respondent has sought the lifting of the Temporary Retraining Order issued last October 25. and (2) that the procedure prescribed by Resolution No.
The notice shall be filed in triplicate with the local Election Registrar if the recall involves a city or municipal official.” we ruled that for the time bar to apply. the approaching regular local election must be one where the position of the official to be recalled. In construing the meaning of the term. find petitioner’s second ground to be impressed with merit. his position.
Sec.The Election Registrar shall submit to the Commission on Elections. 2272. 2272 is unconstitutional there being no legislative enactment yet on [the] mechanism of recall as mandated under Sec. repealed. that we upheld the constitutionality of Resolution No. Art. the Commission on Elections in Manila and the Election Records and Statistics Department of the Commission. COMELEC. under Sec. petitioners therein contended that the aforegoing “Resolution No. letters of instructions and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended. ‗(a)ll existing laws. 3. or revoked.‘
Considering that the present local government code (BP 337) is still in effect. . Section 5. but not because we found nothing constitutionally infirm about the procedure of allowing the initiatory recall petition to be filed by only one person. Until such time that a more responsive and effective local government code is enacted. 3. X of the Constitution merely provides that the local government code to be enacted by Congress shall be ‗more responsive‘ than the one existing at present. Art. the schedule of the signing of the petition to recall for approval and funding x x x. X of the Constitution mandates the Congress to enact a local government code providing among others for an effective mechanism of recall. one copy of which shall be posted upon receipt thereof on the bulletin board in the city/municipal hall. two additional copies of the notice shall also be furnished by the voter filing the notice to the Election Registrar of each city and municipality in the province. respondent COMELEC‘s promulgation of Resolution No. 2272 is therefore valid
. XVIII. proclamations. executive orders. If the recall involves a provincial official. the present code shall remain in full force and effect. the voter filing the notice of recall shall furnish a copy thereof to the official sought to be recalled. X of the Constitution” It is true. 3. In every case. the local government code existing prior to the adoption of the 1987 Constitution. Art.‖
In the case of Sanchez v. Thus. Art.Supervisor if it involves a provincial official. Thus we ruled:
― While it is true that Sec. not later than ten days from filing of the notice of recall. one copy of which shall be posted upon receipt thereof on the bulletin board in the city/municipal hall. Schedule and place of signing of the petition. decrees. 3. as private respondent asseverates. The issue in Sanchez was not this questioned procedure but the legal basis for the exercise by the COMELEC of its rule-making power in the alleged absence of a grant of such power by an enabling statute on recall. nothing in said provision could be inferred the repeal of BP 337.
essayed in the case of Garcia v. it promulgated Resolution No.
Chapter (Sections 54 to 59) of B.The Commission on Elections shall conduct and supervise the process of and election on recall x x x and. specifically repeals B. But the Local Government Code of 1991 will take effect only on 1 January 1992 and therefore the old Local Government Code (B. until amended. Supervision by the Commission on Elections. approved by the President on 10 October 1991. 534.‘‖
We reiterated the foregoing ruling in the case of Evardone v. . 2272 promulgated by respondent COMELEC is valid and constitutional. x x x Thus. 2272 on 23 May 1990. was never put to issue. Blg. the same having been issued pursuant to Sec. We therefore rule that Resolution No. 337 provides for the mechanism for recall of local elective officials. As this is the crux of the present constitutional challenge. Republic Act No.P. in pursuance thereof. Blg. Consequently. 337 as provided in Sec.and constitutional. Section 59 expressly authorizes the respondent COMELEC to conduct and supervise the process of and election on recall and in the exercise of such powers. 337) is still the law applicable to the present case. COMELEC:
. Apropos for starters is the following chronicle of the evolution of the mechanism of recall as a mode of removing a public officer by direction action of the people. the proper time has come for this court to issue a definitive ruling on the matter. promulgate the necessary rules and regulations. the respondent COMELEC had the authority to approve the petition for recall and set the date for the signing of said petition. 7160 providing for the Local Government Code of 1991. the COMELEC prescribed procedure of (1) allowing the recall petition to be filed by at least one person or by less than 25% of the total number of registered voters and then (2) inviting voters to sign said petition on a date set for that purpose. pursuant to the rule-making power vested in respondent COMELEC. Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution expressly provides that all existing laws not inconsistent with the 1987 Constitution shall remain operative. 59. Title Four of said Act. 59 of BP 337.‖
In Sanchez and Evardone. Blg.P. promulgate the necessary rules and regulations.P. It reads: ‗Sec. COMELEC in this wise:
―Article XVIII. repealed or revoked.
which took effect on January 1. otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. initiative and referendum x x x. Not undeservedly. i. 1992. defining a more responsive and accountable local government structure with an effective system of recall x x x‘ The Batasang Pambansa then enacted BP 337 entitled. Recall as a mode of removal of elective local officials made its maiden appearance in section 2 of Article XI entitled Local Government. ‗The Local Government Code of 1983‘ Section 54 of its Chapter 3 provided only one mode of initiating the recall elections of local election officials. Congress enacted R. The Batasang Pambansa shall enact a local government code which may not thereafter be amended except by a majority vote of all its Members.e. Our legal history does not reveal any instance when this power of recall as provided by BP 337 was exercised by our people. Section 3 of its Article X also reiterated the mandate for Congress to enact a local government code which ‗shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall. The people‘s prerogative to remove a public officer is an incident of their sovereign power and in the absence of constitutional restraint. Such power has been held to be indispensable for the proper administration of public affairs..―Recall is a mode of removal of a public officer by the people before the end of his term of office.‖
Section 69(d) of the Local Government Code of 1991 expres sly provides that “recall of any elective x x x municipal x x x official may also be validly initiated upon petition of
. 1986. our people more than exercised their right of recall for they resorted to revolution and they booted out of office the highest elective officials of the land. however. it is frequently described as a fundamental right of the people in a representative democracy. 2. In response to this constitutional call. by petition of at least twentyfive percent (25%) of the total number of registered voters in the local government unit concerned x x x. In February . Its Articles XIII expressly recognized the Role and Rights of People‘s Organizations x x x.A. viz: ‗SEC. the power is implied in all governmental operations. The successful use of people power to remove public officials who have forfeited the trust of the electorate led to its firm institutionalization of the 1987 Constitution. 7160.
rather. the petition must contain the names of at least 25% of the total number of registered voters in whose behalf only one person may sign the petition in the meantime. The law is plain and unequivocal as to what initiates recall proceedings: only a petition of at least 25% of the total number of registered voters. We take careful note of the phrase. Hence. They knew that this is the requirement under a majority of the constitution and recall statutes in various American states to the same extent that they were aware of the rationale therefor. A scrutiny of the rationale underlying the time bar provisions and the percentage of minimum voter requirement in American recall statutes. We view the statutory provision requiring the number of petition signers to equal at least 45% of the total votes case in the last
. as a collective. much less. may validly initiate recall proceedings. desire to change their leaders for reasons only they. While recall was intended to be an effective and speedy remedy to remove an official who is not giving satisfaction to the electorate regardless of whether or not he is discharging his full duty to the best of his ability and as his conscience dictates. unmistakably reveals the vigilance of lawmakers against the abuse of the power of recall. the petition must be filed. For instance.at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the total number of registered voters in the local government unit concerned during the election in which the local official sought to be recalled was elected”. recall must be pursued by the people.. since the signing of the petition is statutorily required to be undertaken “before the election registrar or his representative.e. “petition of at least twenty-five percent (25%) and point out that the law does not state that the petition must be signed by at least 25% of the registered voters. its purposes as a direct remedy of the people shall be defeated by the ill motives of a few among them whose selfish resort to recall would destabilize the community and seriously disrupt the running of government. the Supreme Court of Illinois held in the case of In Re Bower that:
―[t]the only logical reasons which we can ascribe for requiring the electors to wait one year before petitioning for a recall election is to prevent premature action on their parting voting to remove a newly elected official before having had sufficient time to evaluate the soundness of his political policies and decisions. not by one person only. and in the presence of a represetantive of the official sought to be recalled. i. the petition must be “of” or by. We cannot sanction the procedure of the filing of the recall petition by a number of people less than the foregoing 25% statutory requirement. can justify. it is a power granted to the people who. Our legislators did not peg the voter requirement at 25% out of caprice or in a vacuum. as in the instant case. but by at least 25% of the total number of registered voters. In other words. Otherwise. and in public place in the x x x municipality x x x”. while the initiatory recall petition may not yet contain the signatures of at least 25% of the total number of registered voters. not just by one disgruntled loser in the elections or a small percentage of disenchanted electors. the filing thereof by just one person. in concert. This is understandable. at least 25% of the registered voters. since this is indubitably violative of clear and categorical provisions of subsisting law.
But the petition does not bear the names of all these other citizens of Tumauini who have reportedly also become anxious to oust petitioner from the post of mayor. the constitution reserves the recall power to the will of the electorate. together with many others in Tumauini. A much cited Nebraska case pertaining to a Nebraska recall statute provides some answers which are equally applicable to the Michigan constitutional right of recall: ‗xxx Doubtless the provision requiring 30 per cent of the electors to sign the petition before the council [is] compelled to act was designed to avoid such a contingency. But the same cannot be said of all the other people whom private respondent
In the instant case. Isabela. this Court is confronted with a procedure that is unabashedly repugnant to the applicable law and no less such to the spirit underlying that law. echoed the foregoing posturings in this wise:
―Much of what has been said to justify a limit upon recall clearly not provided or contemplated by the Constitution has revealed fears about an irresponsible electorate xxx. lost confidence in the leadership of petitioner. once at least 25% of the electorate have expressed their dissatisfaction. Notwithstanding such awareness. City of Boulder that:
―[t]he framers. She claims in her petition that she has. private respondent proceeded to file the petition for recall with only herself as the filer and initiator. Tripp. However. by requiring that a recall petition contain the signatu res of at least 25% of all votes cast in the last election for all candidates for the position which the person sought to be recalled occupies.‖
Along the same lines. and the very fact that she affixed her name in the petition shows that she claims responsibility for the seeming affront to petitioner’s continuance in office. the Supreme Court of Michigan. the Supreme Court of Colorado held in the case of Bernzen v. assured that a recall election will not be held in response to the wishes of a small and unrepresentative minority. The legislature apparently assumed that nearly one-third of the electorate would not entail upon the taxpayers the cost of an election unless the charges made approved themselves to their understanding and they were seriously dissatisfied with the services of the incumbent of the office. There is no doubt that private respondent is truly earnest in her cause.general election for mayor as a further attempt to insure that an official will not have to defend his policies against frivolous attacks launched by a small percentage of disenchanted electors. knows that Section 69(d) of the Local Government Code plainly provides that recall is validly initiated by a petition of 25% of the total number of registered voters. Private respondent who is a lawyer.‖
And in the case of Wallace v.
(Chairman). 204 SCRA 464. Davide.. p. Rollo. Padilla. 44. in the first place. under any and all circumstances.R No. The RESTRAINING ORDER heretofore issued is hereby made permanent. including rising above anonymity. Comment of the Solicitor General dated November 15. Melo. JJ. Vitug. 470. The procedure of allowing just one person to file the initiatory recall petition and then setting a date for the signing of the petition. and his supporters. pp. 123169. 1996. Jr. Francisco.
. G. Rollo. 26-32.. While the people are vested with the power to recall their elected officials. pp. Kapunan.. his friends. Id. 1996. Bellosillo. concur. 6-7. Mendoza. 193 SCRA 317. Rollo. and Torres. Ibid. Id. No.claims to have sentiments similar to hers. 39-42. Panganiban. countenance a circumvention of the explicit 25% minimum voter requirement in the initiation of the recall process. 96-2951 is hereby DECLARED NULL and VOID and accordingly SET ASIDE. Costs against private respondent. Rollo. COMELEC Resolution No.R. p. p. 204 SCRA 464. p. Romero. and seeing the recall election to its ultimate end. Jr. SO ORDERED. 123169. Narvasa. C.J. 1996. G. 34. is not only violative of statutory law but also tainted with an attempt to go around the law. 193 SCRA 317.. the same power is accompanied by the concomitant responsibility to see through all the consequences of the exercise of such power. the PETITION FOR CERTIORARI is hereby GRANTED. Regalado. pp. confronting the official sought to be recalled. even entertained any displeasure in the performance of the official sought to be recalled. 105-106. his family. Puno. promulgated on November 4. which amounts to inviting and courting the public which may have not. Rollo. pp.
Certified True Copy of Excerpt from the Minutes of the Rgular En Banc Meeting on the Commission on Elections held on October 15. 320. premises considered. WHEREFORE. We can not and must not..
pp. Sec. 69 (d) (I). 2d 312. Id.. pp. 108-110. 668. 143 P. 331.
. 255. 186 Colo. Id. 525 P. 777. 619. 2d 416. 314-315. 242 Ne 2D. Dunham v.. Id. Ardery. p. Local Government Code of 1991. 101 N. 43 Okl. 419. 41 III. Id.
227 SCRA 100 . 252.. 81.W.. p. 358 Mich.
and EDUARDO A. P/Insp. we rewind the facts. Criminal Investigation Service (CIS). COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. J. applied for and was granted search warrant no. MEYCAUAYAN.038 votes. 1995. respondents.753 votes. petitioner. BLANCO. MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS. 1995. Blanco and private respondent Eduardo A. Alarilla filed with the COMELEC a petition to disqualify Blanco. On May 9. 6. 95-147 by Branch 37 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila on 5 May 1995.:
First. Bulacan. vs. Alarilla. and Bulacan Provincial Command. Edgardo Nolasco was elected Vice-Mayor with 37. ALARILLA. No. respondents. 122250 & 122258.240 votes. while Alarilla got 23. backed up by the Philippine National Police Special Action Force. an elite composite team of the PNP Intelligence Command. vs. raided the house of respondent Florentino Blanco at his stated address at Bancal. July 21. Ronaldo O. DECISION
PUNO. In compliance with said search warrant no. ALARILLA. Blanco received 29. Meycauayan. NOLASCO. A copy of the said search warrant is attached as Annex "A" hereof.N BANC
[G. He alleged: “x x x x x x xxx
―4. Lee of the Philippine National Police assigned with the Intelligence Command at Camp Crame.R. Bulacan was held on May 8. accompanied by mediamen who witnessed and recorded the search by video and still cameras.
. The principal protagonists were petitioner Florentino P. The election for mayor of Meycauayan. FLORENTINO P. Based on intelligence reports that respondent was maintaining his own `private army' at his aforesaid resident. BULACAN. 1997]
EDGARDO C. Enclosed as Annex "A-1" is a video tape taken of the proceedings during the raid. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EDUARDO A. 95-147. petitioner. 5.
38 SN: 36869 Copies of the inventory receipts are hereto attached as Annexes "B" to "B-5" hereof. B.
. respondent's Galil assault rifle on a sofa inside a closed room of the subject premises. D.7. Armscor 12 Gauge with three (3) Rounds of Ammo. The search resulted in the arrest of six (6) men who were found carrying various high powered firearms without any license or authority to use or possess such long arms. C334644 with two (2) Mags and 47 Rounds of Ammo. Edgardo Orteza y Asuncion 1. 2. PYTHOM (sic) Cal. During the search. Melchor Cabanero y Oreil 1. Smith and Wesson 357 Magnum Sn: 522218 with six (6) Rounds of Ammo.' and the unlicensed firearms are as follows: A. 8. Raymundo Bahala y Pon 1. Virgilio Luna y Valderama 1. 347 SN 26946 with six (6) Rounds of Ammo. The composite team was able to enter the said premises of respondent Florentino Blanco where they conducted a search of the subject firearms and ammunition. E. 9. Paltik Cal.Roberto Santos y Sacris 1. Francisco Libari y Calimag 1. F. members of the composite team saw through a large clear glass window. These persons composing respondent's `private army. 38 Rev with six (6) Rounds of Ammo. 45 MP with Suppressor SN: 45457 with two (2) Mags and 54 Rounds of Ammo. Paltik Cal. INGRAM M10 Cal. C. HKMP5 Sn.
Attached as Annex "E" hereof is an MTB ID issued to one Armando Bulan of Precinct 77-A. respondent's wife and respondent's brother.' This massive vote-buying activity was engineered by the respondent through his organization called `MTB' or `MOVEMENT FOR TINOY BLANCO VOLUNTEERS. Bulacan. You will note that the ID is perforated in the middle.00.000. and each pay envelope when opened contained the amount of P1. Florentino Blanco and Mariano Blanco. were allowed to withdraw ten (10) large plastic bags from the vault. For reasons not known to petitioner. Bancal. 14. The labels found in the envelope shows that the money were intended as respondent's bribe money to the teachers of Meycauayan.10. respondent's brother Mariano Blanco and respondent's wife.
.00. On election day 8 May 1995. asked permission to enter the locked room so they could withdraw money in a vault inside the locked room to pay their watchers. Bulacan. Jasmin. Blanco. When the said PNP composite team examined the ten (10) black plastic bags.000.000. When questioned. The purpose is for the voter to tear the office copy and return it to respondent's headquarters to receive the balance of the P500. 13. Brgy. and the teachers of Meycauayan in the 8 May 1995 elections. Mariano P.000. Not allowed entry thereto by respondent and his wife. The voter will initially be given a down-payment of P500. they found out that each bag contained ten (10) shoe boxes. Mrs. 12. Attached as Annex "D" is the envelope where this P10. Meycauayan. 15. While waiting for the issuance of the second search warrant.00 of the bribe money after voting for respondent during the elections. Meycauayan. Attached as Annex "C" is the cover of one of the shoe boxes containing the inscription that it is intended to the teachers of Brgy.' The chairman of this movement is respondent's brother.00 was placed in 100 peso denominations totalling one thousand pesos per envelope with the inscription `VOTE!!! TINOY. 11. claiming to be the campaign manager of respondent in the Nationalist People's Coalition Party. Mariano Blanco. who admitted to the police during the raid that these money were for the teachers and watchers of Meycauayan. Each shoe box when examined contained 200 pay envelopes.000. Lawa. the members of the composite police-military team applied for the issuance of a second search warrant (Annex "B-6") so that they could enter the said room to seize the said firearm.00. respondent perpetrated the most massive votebuying activity ever in the history of Meycauayan politics. admitted to the raiding team that the total amount of money in the ten (10) plastic bags is P10. Bulacan.
The second search warrant on respondent's residence yielded to more firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Villanco.000 registered voters in Meycauayan versus respondent's expenses of at least P10. for committing acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy. This entry was noted by Leticia T. The above acts committed by respondent are clear grounds for disqualification under Sec. Not satisfied.' 19. Brgy. who was replaced by this Office upon the petition of the people of Meycauayan.00 as admitted above.
. Attached as Annex "F" hereof is a copy of the Police Blotter dated 8 May 1995 showing that six (6) flying voters were caught in different precincts of Meycauayan. Attached as Annex "H" hereof is an article in the 3 May 1995 issue of Abante entitled `1 M Suhol sa Comelec Registrar. who admitted after being caught and arrested that they were paid P200. Bulacan. Poll Chairman. 20. Annex "G-1" is the statement of one Ma.Poll Member. These guns were used by respondent to terrorize the population and make the people afraid to complain against respondent's massive vote buying and cheating in today's elections. respondent used another scheme as follows. Attached as Annexes `I-1' to I-2' are the pertinent Receipts of the guns and ammunitions seized from respondent.00 to P300. Respondent's paid voter will identify his target from the list of voter and will impersonate said voter in the list and falsify his signature.000. to vote for other voters in the voter's list. and for spending in his election campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by the Election Code. and other cheating schemes. 26. Calvario. Attached as Annex "J" is a Certification to the same effect. induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing election functions. There are only 97. This massive vote-buying was also perpetrated by respondent thru the familiar use of flying voters.Poll Clerk. impersonations.00 by respondent and his followers. Bulacan. 68 of the Omnibus Election Code for giving money to influence. and with his overflowing supply of money. Estelita Artajo. Respondent's bribery of the teachers ensured the implementation of his vote-buying ballot box switching. (Emphasis supplied). respondent used his tremendous money to get in the good graces of the local Comelec Registrar. . her name was already voted upon by another person. and Nelson John Nito .16. Meycauayan. Earlier before the election. Luisa de los Reyes Cruz stating that when she went to her precinct to vote. Attached as Annex "G" hereof is the Minutes of Voting and Counting of Votes in Precinct No. 17. 18.000.
1995.On May 15. the COMELEC (First Division) disqualified Blanco on the ground of vote-buying. he filed his Answer to the petition to disqualify him. The parties thereafter submitted their position papers. Blanco filed a Motion to Lift or Set Aside the Order suspending his proclamation. the COMELEC (First Division) heard the petition to disqualify Blanco." On May 25. 1995. The COMELEC (First Division) granted the motion after finding that there was a "probable commission of election offenses which are grounds for disqualification pursuant to the provisions of section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code (BP 881). 1995.: “x x x x x x xxx
"WHEREFORE. determine the winner out of the remaining qualified candidates who shall be immediately proclaimed. Blanco even replied to the position paper of Alarilla on June 9. on the basis of the completed canvass of the election returns. 1995." He urged that as vice-mayor he should be declared mayor in the event Blanco was finally disqualified. 1995. On October 23. Bulacan shall immediately reconvene and. Bulacan in the May 8. The Order suspending the proclamation of herein Respondent is now made PERMANENT. He moved for reconsideration of that part of the resolution directing the Municipal Board of Canvassers to "immediately reconvene and. 1995. SO ORDERED. On May 29. Blanco should he obtain the winning number of votes for the position of Mayor of Meycauayan. premises considered. and the evidence in support of disqualification is strong. as vice mayor. On May 30. In this petition for certiorari." It directed the Municipal Board of Canvassers "to complete the canvassing of election returns of the municipality of Meycauayan. Nolasco. intervened in the proceedings. viz. but to suspend proclamation of respondent Florentino P."
Blanco moved for reconsideration on August 19. The motions were heard on September 7. 1995 in the COMELEC en banc. On August 15. Bulacan until such time when the petitions for disqualification against him shall have been resolved. Blanco contends: “x x x x x x xxx
. The parties were allowed to file their memoranda with right of reply. Alarilla filed a Very Urgent Ex Parte Motion to Suspend Proclamation. on the basis of the completed canvass of the election returns. The Municipal Board of Canvassers of Meycauayan. Blanco as a candidate for the Office of Mayor of Meycauayan. 1995 elections for having violated Section 261 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code. determine the winner out of the remaining qualified candidates who shall be immediately proclaimed. 1995. 1995. the COMELEC en banc denied the motions for reconsideration. the Commission (First Division) RESOLVES to DISQUALIFY Respondent Florentino P.
1995 order suspending proclamation of Petitioner Blanco herein as the winning candidate for Mayor of Meycauayan without the benefit of any notice or hearing in gross and palpable violation of Blanco's constitutional right to due process of law.an act which evidently discriminated against Petitioner Blanco herein. 18. Moreover. He cites section 44 of R. 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.4 It declared Petitioner Blanco as having been involved in a conspiracy to engage in VOTE-BUYING without that minimum quantum of proof required to establish a disputable presumption of vote-buying in gross and palpable violation of the provisions of Section 28. COMELEC.A. it (COMELEC) violated Blanco's right to equal protection of the laws by setting him apart from other respondents facing similar disqualification suits whose case were referred by COMELEC to the Law Department pursuant to Com. No. which Resolution this Honorable Tribunal explicitly sanctioned in the case of Lozano vs.1 It upheld the validity of the May 17. Yorac. 2050 as amended. No. We shall first resolve the Blanco petition. Bulacan.5 It ordered the proclamation of a SECOND PLACER as the duly elected Mayor of Meycauayan. 6646. in gross violation and utter disregard of the doctrine laid down by this Honorable Supreme Court in the case of LABO vs. 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 and our decision in Labo vs. Respondent COMELEC En Banc committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction and acted arbitrarily in affirming en toto and adopting as its own the majority decision of the First Division in that: 18. Act. Blanco was not denied due process when the COMELEC (First Division) suspended his proclamation as mayor pending determination of the petition for disqualification
On the other hand. Syjuco. Rep. prescribing the procedure for disposing of disqualification cases arising out of the prohibited acts mentioned in Sec. Nolasco contends in his petition for certiorari that he should be declared as Mayor in view of the disqualification of Blanco. terrorism and similar such acts should be resolve in a formal election protest where the issue of vote buying is subjected to a full-dress hearing instead of disposing of the issue in a summary proceeding. Res. COMELEC which was reiterated only recently in the case of Aquino vs.3 It decided Petitioner Blanco's disqualification case in a SUMMARY PROCEEDING in violation of law and the precedents which consistently hold that questions of VOTE-BUYING.2 It violated the provisions of COMELEC Res. 18. 18. No. 18. 2050 and ordering their proclamation -.18.
1995. On May 29. Petitions for disqualification are subject to summary hearings. induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions. (b)
. On May 25. It cannot be denied that the COMELEC has jurisdiction over proclamation and disqualification cases."
It is alleged that the violation is fatal as it deprived Blanco of equal protection of our laws. nevertheless. be dismissed as a disqualification case. before proclamation.Any candidate who. the Law Department makes a prima facie finding of guilt and the corresponding information has been filed with the appropriate trial court. section 2 of the Constitution endows the COMELEC the all encompassing power to "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election x x x. Article IX-C.A." We have long ruled that this broad power includes the power to cancel proclamations. Blanco was given all the opportunity to prove that the evidence on his disqualification was not strong. 881 (Omnibus Election Code) provides:
"Sec. The COMELEC gave Blanco all the opportunity to be heard. or found by the Commission of having (a) given money or other material consideration to influence. Section 68 of B. The resolution pertinently provides: “x x x x x x xxx
Where a similar complaint is filed after election but before proclamation of the respondent candidate the complaint shall. he filed his Answer to the petition to disqualify him. The COMELEC heard the petition. in disqualification cases. The COMELEC considered the evidence of the parties and their arguments and thereafter affirmed his disqualification.P. Section 6 of R. 1995. he filed a Motion to Lift or Set Aside the Order suspending his proclamation. . If. 68. We do not agree. In any event. It is akin to a temporary restraining order which a court can issue ex-parte under exigent circumstances. It ought to be emphasized that the suspension order is provisional in nature and can be lifted when the evidence so warrants. 6646 and sections 4 and 5 of the Rule 25 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure merely require that evidence of guilt should be strong to justify the COMELEC in suspending a winning candidate's proclamation. Blanco also faults the COMELEC for departing from the procedure laid down in COMELEC Resolution 2050 as amended. However. the complaint shall be referred for preliminary investigation to the Law Department. Blanco thereafter submitted his position paper and reply to Alarilla's position paper. The hoary rule is that due process does not mean prior hearing but only an opportunity to be heard. Disqualifications. No. Blg.against him. in an action or protest in which he is a party is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of. the complainant may file a petition for suspension of the proclamation of the respondent with the court before which the criminal case is pending and the said court may order the suspension of the proclamation if the evidence of guilt is strong. Our laws are no less explicit on the matter.
95. 881.The presentation of a complaint for violations of paragraph (a) or (b) of Section 261 of Batas Pambansa Blg. No. (emphasis supplied)
. and cc. viz: "x x x."
Section 6 of R. (d) solicited. received or made any contribution prohibited under Sections 89. or (e) violated any of Sections 80. 85."
Despite these laws and existing jurisprudence. paragraphs d. 1995 elections. Prosecution of Vote-Buying and Vote-selling. 6646 likewise provides:
"Sec.Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for. the Court or Commission shall continue with the trial and hearing of the action. upon motion of the complainant or any intervenor. We hold that COMELEC cannot always be straitjacketed by this procedural rule.committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy. a sound exercise of its discretion. It deemed it wise to delegate its authority to its Law Department as partial solution to the problem. 83. and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. k. unless said person has waived his status as permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country in accordance with the residence requirement provided for in the elections laws. The action of the COMELEC is in accord with Section 28 of R. No. 881 supported by affidavits of complaining witness attesting to the offer or promise by or of the voter's acceptance of money or other consideration from the relatives.
"SEC. inquiry or protest and. 28. 6. or if he has been elected. Hence. its decision to resolve the disqualification case of Blanco directly and without referring it to its Law Department is within its authority.A. 97 and 104. shall be disqualified from continuing as a candidate. leaders or sympathizers of a candidate. Blanco contends that COMELEC must follow the procedure in Resolution No. 2050 as amended. from holding the office. . Effect of Disqualification Case . v. did not result in a surfeit of disqualification cases which the COMELEC cannot handle. may during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the evidence of his guilt is strong. shall be sufficient basis for an investigation to be immediately conducted by the Commission. e. (c) spent in his election campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by this Code. 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. directly or through its duly authorized legal officers under Section 68 or Section 265 of said Batas Pambansa Blg. 86 and 261. subparagraph 6. The May 8. The COMELEC has explained that the resolution was passed to take care of the proliferation of disqualification cases at that time.A. however. 6646. Any person who is a permanent resident of or an immigrant to a foreign country shall not be qualified to run for an elective office under this Code. 96.
Again. 6646. We are not impressed. However." Clearly too. the COMELEC action is safely anchored on section 4 of its Rules of Procedure which expressly provides that petitions for disqualification "shall be heard summarily after due notice.A."x x x. inadmissible because of the illegal searches." Vote-buying has its criminal and electoral aspects. He was not the object of any invidious discrimination.
. The next issue is whether there is substantial evidence to prove the vote buying activities of Blanco. 2 and 3] would reveal that they are in the nature of general denials emanating from individuals closely associated or related to respondent Blanco. No. Blanco's contention that he was denied equal protection of the law is off-line. On the other hand. they violate the Rule of Res Inter Alios Acta and the offense of vote-buying requires consummation. Blanco also urges that COMELEC erred in using summary proceedings to resolve his disqualification case. even Commissioner Maambong who dissented from the majority ruling." Indeed. The same holds true with the affidavits attached to Respondent's Position Paper [Annexes 1. its electoral aspect to ascertain whether the offender should be disqualified from office can be determined in an administrative proceeding that is summary in character. The factual findings of the COMELEC (First Division) are as follows: "x x x
"Respondent argues that the claim of vote-buying has no factual basis because the affidavits and sworn statements admitted as evidence against him are products of hearsay. A studied reading of the affidavits [Respondent's affidavit is unsigned] attached to the Reply of the Respondent to the Position Paper of the Petitioner [Annexes 1. Its criminal aspect to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused cannot be the subject of summary hearing. clings to the view that "Resolution No. 3 and 4]. COMELEC assumed direct jurisdiction over his disqualification case not to favor anybody but to discharge its constitutional duty of disposing the case in a fair and as fast a manner as possible. Said affidavits were executed by Blanco's political leaders and private secretary. 2. 2050 cannot divest the Commission of its duty to resolve disqualification cases under the clear provision of section 6 of R. the affidavit of Romeo Burgos [Exhibit "E-1"] is rich in detail as to how the alleged vote-buying was conducted.
No. two individuals were apprehended for attempting to vote for Respondent when they allegedly are not registered voters of Meycauayan. In People of the Philippines vs. may be given in evidence against him [affiants who executed Exhibits E-1 to E-10] but not against Respondent. G. "E-4". the Supreme Court noted that "Denial is the weakest defense' [page 692]. Navarro. 96251. the same is corroborated by object evidence in the nature of MTB [Movement for Tinoy Blanco] cards which were in the possession of the affiants and allegedly used as a means to facilitate the vote-buying scheme. 221 SCRA 1993. `We have consistently ruled that denials if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence are negative and self-serving evidence which deserves no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary weight over the testimony of credible witnesses. "E-3". "E-5". was the one who accosted the two suspected flying voters when the latter attempted to vote despite failing to locate their names in the voter's list. Rolando Precioso. "E-8". There are also admissions of certain individuals who received money to vote for Respondent [Annexes "E-2".R. Ergo. Llorente. similar pay envelopes with money inside them were found in the possession of the suspected flying voters. The incident was corroborated by Adriano Llorente in his affidavit narrating the same [Exhibit "F-1"]. A criminal complaint for violation of section 261  of BP 881 was filed by P/Sr. 95890. May 11.Moreover. "E-9" and "E10"]. "E-6". The same was docketed as Criminal Case 95-16996 [Exhibit F-2]. From this rich backdrop of detail. et al.' However.R. as between the positive declarations of the prosecution witness and the negative statements of the accused. On the day of the elections. or of any offense necessarily included herein. 1993. G." [page 754]. 1993. In People of the Philippines vs. the former deserves more credence. Inspector Alfred S. Respondent conveniently resorts to section 33. a poll watcher of Petitioner.. We are disappointed by the general denial offered by Respondent. the Supreme Court observed that. May 12. Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court which states that a declaration of an accused acknowledging his guilt of the offense charged.
. Corpus on May 9. No. "E-7". 222 SCRA 684. Again. 1995 with the Municipal Trial Court of Bulacan.
their affidavits were sought by the Petitioner and not by any law enforcement agency. 881 shall be liable as principals: x x x.
Respondent also avers that for an allegation of vote-buying to prosper. that there are only 443 precincts in Meycauayan.000 of these cards. were printed by respondent." Section 28 of RA 6646 also states that "the giver. the act of giving must be consummated.There is no merit in this contention. offers. the promisor as well as the solicitor. Why such a huge amount? Why should the Respondent. While the giving must be consummated.
. that there is no explanation at all by the respondent as to what these "watchers" did in order to get paid P300. offeror. and. which is equivalent to more or less 52% of the 97. that under the law. why file the motion? Would not this be redundant if not irrelevant?
Another telling blow is the unexplained money destined for the teachers.00 each. the mere act of offering or promising something in consideration for someone's vote constitutes the offense of vote-buying. and kept in shoe boxes with the word "Teachers" written on the covers thereof? There is also something wrong with the issuance of the aforementioned MTB cards when one considers the testimony of Burgos that more or less 50. or promises money x x x. Bulacan. Even Respondent admits this finding when he filed his Reply to Petitioner's Position Paper and Motion to Refer for Preliminary Investigation and Filing of Information in Court against the Persons Who Executed Exhibits E-1 to E-10 for Having Admitted Commission of Election Offense. and according to his own admission. finally. a candidate is allowed only one watcher per polling place and canvassing area. recipient and conspirator referred to in paragraphs [a] and [b] of section 261 of Batas Pambansa Blg. If they were the accused. Their participation in the herein case is in the nature of witnesses who have assumed the risk of being subsequently charged with violating Section 261  of BP 881. be giving money to teachers a day before the elections? What were the peso bills doing in pay envelopes with the inscription "VOTE!!! TINOY".000 registered voters of Meycauayan. In fact. Section 281 [a] of BP 881 states "any person who gives. The affiants are not the accused. a mayoralty candidate.
our ingrained jurisprudence is that technical rules of evidence should not be rigorously applied in administrative proceedings especially where the law calls for the proceeding to be summary in character. refuses to assume office. More importantly." We now come to the petition of Nolasco that he should be declared as mayor in the event Blanco is finally disqualified. For purposes of this Chapter. (c) A tie between or among the highest ranking sangguniang members shall be resolved by the drawing of lots. dies. the highest ranking sanggunian member or. Again. Subsequent vacancies in the said office shall be filled automatically by the other sanggunian members according to their ranking as defined herein. the second highest ranking sanggunian member. that "this Court cannot review the factual findings of the COMELEC absent a grave abuse of discretion and a showing of arbitrariness in its decision. thus: "x x x
"SEC. 7160) is unequivocal. (d) The successors as defined herein shall serve only the unexpired terms of their predecessors.(a) If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the governor or mayor. a permanent vacancy arises when an elective local official fills a higher vacant office. There is an attempt to discredit these findings. (b) If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the punong barangay.. shall become the punong barangay. vice governor. If a permanent vacancy occurs in the offices of the governor. shall become the governor. Permanent Vacancies in the Offices of the Governor. we cannot depart from the settled norm of reviewing decisions of the COMELEC. Immediately obvious in the effort is the resort to our technical rules of evidence. We sustain the plea. or vice mayor.. as the case may be. Chapter 2 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.In the case at bar. and Vice Mayor.A. the second highest ranking sanggunian member. the acts of offering and promising money in consideration for the votes of said affiants is sufficient for a finding of the commission of the offense of vote-buying. mayor. the highest ranking sanggunian barangay member or. vice governor. in case of his permanent inability. fails to qualify. 44. Mayor. Section 44. Vice Governor. the vice governor or vice mayor concerned shall become the governor or mayor."
These factual findings were affirmed by the COMELEC en banc against the lone dissent of Commissioner Maambong. is
. in case of his permanent inability.e. No. i. mayor or vice mayor. order or resolution.
Vacancies and Succession of Elective Local Officials. dies. mayor or vice mayor. or vice mayor. fails to qualify. vice governor. in case of his permanent inability. we reiterated the rule in the fairly recent case of Reyes v."
In the same vein. the candidate who obtained the second highest number of votes. 83. the vice governor or vice mayor concerned shall ipso facto become the governor or mayor.A permanent vacancy arises when an elective local official fills a higher vacant office. viz: "x x x xxx xxx
"We likewise find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC in denying petitioner Julius O. as the case may be. "ART. is removed from office. shall ipso facto become the governor. mayor. (b) Permanent vacancies in the offices of the governor. mayor and vice mayor (1) If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the governor or mayor. refuses to assume office. Reyes. cannot be proclaimed winner in case the winning candidate is disqualified. the highest ranking sanggunian member or. COMELEC. Subsequent vacancies in the said office shall be filled automatically by the other sanggunian members according to their ranking as defined in this Article.removed from office. For purposes of succession as provided in this Chapter. or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office. the second highest ranking sanggunian member. Garcia's petition to be proclaimed mayor in view of the disqualification of Renato U. If a permanent vacancy occurs in the offices of the governor. Article 83 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing. voluntarily resigns. vice governor. the Local Government Code of 1991 provides:
"x x x. vice governor. ranking in the sanggunian shall be determined on the basis of the proportion of votes obtained by each winning candidate to the total number of registered voters in each distribution the immediately preceding election.(a) What constitutes permanent vacancy . or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office.
. Thus. voluntarily resigns."
Our case law is now settled that in a mayoralty election.. in this case Alarilla.
Bulacan in view of the disqualification of Florentino P. The dispute at bar involves more than the mayoralty of the municipality of Meycauyan. a second placer. The second placer is just that. "each time the enfranchised citizen goes to the polls to assert this sovereign will. the free and orderly exercise of the right of suffrage. Vitug. San Juan. Narvasa. a descendant of our ruling in Labo v."That the candidate who obtains the second highest number of votes may not be proclaimed winner in case the winning candidate is disqualified is now settled.
A final word. Suffrage is the means by which our people express their sovereign judgment."
Consequently. Regalado.. JJ. COMELEC.. the conditions would have substantially changed. We are not prepared to extrapolate the results under the circumstances. Mendoza and Francisco. void. without authority valid in law. Bulacan. respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion insofar as it failed to follow the above doctrine. For to impede. C.J. As we succinctly held in People v. The votes cast for Reyes are presumed to have been cast in the belief that Reyes was qualified and for that reason can not be treated as stray. Its free exercise must be protected especially against the purchasing power of the peso.. The subsequent finding that he is disqualified cannot retroact to the date of the elections so as to invalidate the votes cast for him. "Garcia's plea that the votes cast for Reyes be invalidated is without merit. Davide. In the latest ruling on the question. or meaningless. Jr. The doctrinal instability caused by see-sawing rulings has since been removed. Melo."
IN VIEW WHEREOF. this Court said: To simplistically assume that the second placer would have received the other votes would be to substitute our judgment for the mind of the voter. that abiding credo of republicanism is translated into living reality. 1995 is affirmed with the modification that petitioner Edgardo C. the resolution of the respondent COMELEC en banc dated October 23. every assumption must be indulged in and every guarantee adopted to assure the unmolested exercise of the citizen's free choice. If that will must remain undefiled at the starting level of its expression and application. concur. Blanco. He was repudiated by either a majority or plurality of voters. is to inflict the ultimate indignity on the democratic process. No costs. He could not be considered the first among qualified candidates because in a field which excludes the disqualified candidate. It concerns the right of suffrage which is the bedrock of republicanism. Nolasco is adjudged as Mayor of Meycauyan. Romero. SO ORDERED.
. He lost the elections.
1995 Concurring and Dissenting Opinion. Padilla. Supra. Maambong and Commissioners Graduacion A. 122258. G. Mauro SC del Rosario received 6. Former law office was counsel of petitioner Blanco. G... 1995 Resolution. 176 SCRA 1.. He filed a Motion to Admit Intervenor's Motion for Reconsideration on August 18. December 28. no part. The same plea is made by Blanco in his petition. J. Lozano v.R. 122250. Reyes-Claravall and Julio F. on official leave. JJ. 359 votes. No. Panganiban.. 1995. no part on leave during deliberation. See Section 4 of COMELEC Rules of Procedure. Jr. Kapunan. No.
A third candidate. Yorac. L-16261.R. J. and Torres. See pp. 203 SCRA 256. See p. G.R. Lacson v.Bellosillo. Blanco submitted his position paper on June 5. COMELEC. Hermosisima. 27 of his August 15. Desamito with Commissioner Maambong dissenting. J. please see Concurring and Dissenting Opinion.
. J. on leave.. No. 1995. 50-53 of August 15. Jr. Composed of Presiding Commissioner Regalado E. 1951.. 254 SCRA 514 (1996).. 22 SCRA 505.
since the presentation of evidence had not yet commenced. NEGROS OCCIDENTAL.R. after the registration on September 24 and October 1. 1938. when the present petition for certiorari was instituted in the Court First Instance of Negros Occidental by the petitioners in their own behalf and in behalf of the other challenged voters for the purpose of having the judgment of the justice of the peace of Bacolod in the aforesaid exclusion proceedings set aside. Parreño. Negros Occidental. petitioners-appellees. showed that the number of registered voters had increased to 18. Although no evidence was presented by the petitioners in support of their petition against those who. the Honorable Judge Sotero Rodas of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental rendered
. The attorneys for the petitioners in the said 17. 1938. Vicente J. or on October 18. Severino. the attorneys for the challenged voters moved that. 1938. Whereupon the justice of the peace of Bacolod ruled that said attorneys could represent only the 87 challenged voters who were present in the court room and accordingly remanded their cases to the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. After attorneys Hilado. Sobretodo for the appellants. Francisco.344 exclusion cases objected on the ground that the aforesaid attorneys had no authority to represent those who were absent. Abundio Z. Parreño.. Arrieta and Res. for the exclusion of the names of an equal number of persons from the permanent list of registered voters of Talisay. Negros Occidental. was 3. Ramon H.
In the year 1937 the total number of registered voters in the municipality of Talisay. as one of the grounds for their exclusion from the list of voters was that they could not prepare their ballots themselves. In 1938 the electoral census of the place. 1940
CIPRIANO ABAÑIL. respondentsappellants. Negros Occidental. JUSTICE OF THE PEACE COURT OF BACOLOD. vs.. Thereafter the said justice of the peace declared those who were absent in default. 1938. L-47243 June 17. on the grounds that they were not residents of Talisay n accordance with the Election Code. that is. Severino. After hearing. that they could not prepare their ballots themselves.288. At the same time the justice of the peace dismissed 253 of the petitions upon motion of the petition upon motion of the petitioners themselves. ET AL. ET AL. all the petitions be forwarded to the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental which was then presided over by two Judges. that they could not read and write. 17. Remitio and Severino entered their appearance for the challenged voters. Emilio R. Failing to obtain a reconsideration. The hearing of the petitions for exclusion was held on October 28.344 petitions were filed in the justice of the peace court of Bacolod. No. The attorneys for the challenged voters received notice of the decision of the justice of the peace of Bacolod on November 2. Vicente T Remetio and Carlos Hilado for the appellees. A few days before the election for Assemblymen on November 8.658. Amado B.Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G. the justice of the peace of Bacolod ascertained who of the challenged voters were present in court and who were absent. and that their registration as voters was not done in accordance with law. were declared in default. A. 1938. the justice of the peace of Bacolod ordered their exclusion from the list of voters on the ground that it was the duty of the challenged voters appear in court in order to be personally examined in accordance with section 118 (f) of the Election Code.
Constitution of the Philippines. 204. This duty requires that the privilege thus bestowed should be exercised. While the present controversy may seem academic because the 1938 election is over. 259. 56 Phil. 532. the case remanded to the Court First Instance of Negros Occidental with instruction to hear and decide the petitions for exclusion of the merits. 611. sections 93 and 94. 639. 51 Phil. concur. not exclusively for the benefit of the citizen or class of citizens professing it. Negros Occidental. Yusay. Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation vs.. then presided over by two Judges. Tan Chay..judgment setting aside the decision of the respondent justice of the peace of Bacolod and ordering the restoration of the excluded voters in the permanent electoral census of Talisay. Section 113 of the Election Code provides that if the Judge of the Court of First Instance is in the province. 47 Phil. S. and for that matter in any municipality or city in the Philippines. 109. When.S. From this judgment the instant appeal was brought. Avanceña C. Negros Occidental. the attorneys for the challenged voters moved the justice of the peace of Bacolod to remand all the exclusion cases to the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. Electoral Code). and to refer to the Solicitor-General such violations of the Election Law as might have been committed.. in the first and last instance (section 113. Without pronouncement as to costs. the inclusion from the permanent electoral list of any voter concerns not only the latter in his individual capacity but the public in general. the people are allowed to have a voice therein through the instrumentality of suffrage to be availed of by those possessing certain prescribe qualifications (Article V. it was mandatory on said justice of the peace to grant the motion. Province of Tayabas Perez. giving the parties every opportunity to present their respective evidence. 11 Phil... The people in clothing a citizen with the elective franchise for the purpose of securing a consistent and perpetual administration of the government they ordain. Delgado. charge him with the performance of a duty in the nature of a public trust. 22 Phil. Rickards.J. 713. 5 Phil. Ruiz. Thereafter. in the interest of prompt and economical administration of justice the necessary arrangement could have been made to enable the corresponding judge of First Instance of the province to proceed to Talisay and hear the cases there. Aldanese. Negros Occidental. we do not consider it necessary to consider seriatim these errors. and the respondents-appellants make an elaborate assignment of nine errors. but in good faith and with an intelligent zeal for the general benefit of the state. 257). Cruikshank.. so that it may thereafter make such corrections in the electoral census of Talisay. upon petition of any interested party filed before the presentation of evidence. and in view of the nature of the proceedings which affect public interest. 6 Phil.. Lara. Election Code).. Without deciding whether the attorneys who appeared for the challenged voters were in fact authorized by all. Rementeria vs. in view of the extraordinary circumstance that the challenged voters were more than seventeen thousand and a representative number thereof were present.
. The judgment appealed from will accordingly be reversed and in the exercise of our discretionary power (Casonvs. vs. we have nevertheless assumed the task of deciding the same on its merits in view of the imperative necessity and importance of having a correct electoral census in the municipality of Talisay. therefore. it is our opinion that.. Singh vs. Imperial. for use in future elections. Concepcion and Moran. the proceedings for the inclusion from the list of voters shall. be remanded to the said Judge who shall hear and decide the same in the first and last instance. JJ. In view of the result hereinbelow reached. as may be proper (section 90. In the scheme of our present republican government.) In the last analysis. 588. (U. 46 Phil. and in that respect constitute him a representative of the whole people. Muerteguy & Aboitiz vs. Tinsay vs. it was error for the aforesaid justice of the peace not to have remanded all the petitions for exclusion to the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. 92 U. therefore. Diaz.. Agonoy vs. Electoral Code).