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EN BANC [G.R. No. 134047. December 15, 1999] AMADO S. BAGATSING, ERNESTO M.

MACEDA, and JAIME LOPEZ, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and JOSE L. ATIENZA, respondents. FACTS: Petitioners Amado S. Bagatsing, Ernesto M. Maceda and Jaime Lopez and herein private respondent Jose L. Atienza were candidates for the position of Mayor of Manila in the May 11, 1998 elections. On May 18, 1998, seven (7) days after the elections, petitioners filed with the COMELEC a complaint for disqualification against private respondent, on the ground that the latter allegedly caused the disbursement of public funds in the amount of Three Million Three Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand (P3,375,000.00) Pesos, more or less, within the prohibited forty-fiveday period before the elections in violation Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines. The alleged disbursement was intended to be distributed in the form of financial assistance to the public school teachers of the City of Manila who manned the precinct polls in that city during the elections. The COMELEC (First Division)* issued an order suspending the proclamation of private respondent, appearing that the evidence presented consisting of disbursement voucher and the general payroll evidencing payment to the teachers in the form of financial assistance dated May 5, 1998, in violation of Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, On May 21, 1998, private respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration and sought to set aside the afore-quoted order directing the suspension of his proclamation as mayor, which was granted. That same day, petitioners filed a Motion to Suspend Immediate Intended Proclamation of Respondent also filed a Motion for Reconsideration and a Second Motion to Suspend Immediate Intended Proclamation of Respondent before COMELEC en banc. In the afternoon of the same day, June 4, 1998, and proclaimed private respondent as the duly elected Mayor of the City of Manila.[5] On June 25, 1999, without waiting for the resolution of their motion for reconsideration pending before the COMELEC en banc, petitioners filed the instant petition to set aside the June 4, 1998 resolution of the COMELEC's First Division. ISSUE: Whether or not filing of petition will suspend the proclamation of the winning candidate. HELD: We find this contention without merit.

The mere filing of a petition for disqualification is not a ground to suspend the proclamation of the winning candidate. In the absence of an order suspending proclamation, the winning candidate who is sought to be disqualified is entitled to be proclaimed as a matter of law. This is clear from Section 6 of R.A. 6646 providing that the proclamation of the candidate sought to be disqualified is suspended only if there is an order of the COMELEC suspending proclamation. Here, there was no order suspending private respondents proclamation. Consequently, private respondent was legally proclaimed on June 4, 1998. Neither did the COMELEC err in not ordering the suspension of private respondent's proclamation. The second paragraph of paragraph 2 of Resolution No. 2050 provides that where a complaint is filed after the elections but before proclamation, as in this case, the complaint must be dismissed as a disqualification case but shall be referred to the Law Department for preliminary investigation. If before the proclamation, the Law Department makes a prima facie finding of guilt and the corresponding information has been filed with the appropriate trial court, the complainant may file a petition for suspension of the proclamation of respondent with the court before which the criminal case is pending and that court may order the suspension of the proclamation if the evidence of guilt is strong.

EN BANC [G.R. No. 120905. March 7, 1996] RENATO U. REYES, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and ROGELIO DE CASTRO, respondents. [G.R. No. 120940. March 7, 1996] JULIUS O. GARCIA, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and RENATO U. REYES, respondents. The facts are as follows: Petitioner Renato U. Reyes was the incumbent mayor of the municipality of Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro, having been elected to that office on May 11, 1992. OnOctober 26, 1994, an administrative complaint was filed against him with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan by Dr. Ernesto Manalo. It was alleged, among other things, that petitioner exacted and collected P50,000.00 from each market stall holder in Public Market; that certain checks issued to him by the National Reconciliation and Development Program of the Department of Interior and Local government were never received by the Municipal Treasurer nor reflected in the books of accounts of the same officer; and that he took twenty-seven (27) heads of cattle from beneficiaries of a cattle dispersal program after the latter had reared and fattened the cattle for seven months. In its decision, dated February 6, 1995, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan found petitioner guilty of the charges and ordered his removal from office and Reyes refused to accept the decision. The Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Vice Governor Pedrito A. Reyes, issued an order for petitioner to vacate the position of mayor and peacefully turn over the office to the incumbent vice mayor. But service of the order upon petitioner was also refused. Meanwhile, on March 20, 1995, petitioner filed a certificate of candidacy with the Office of the Election Officer of the COMELEC in Bongabong.

On March 24, 1995, private respondent Rogelio de Castro, as registered voter of Bongabong, sought the disqualification of petitioner as candidate for mayor, citing the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160) which states: 40. Disqualification. - The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local position: xxx xxx xxx (b) Those removed from office as a result of an administrative case. COMELECs Second Divisin ordered that he was disqualified from running from office and his Certificate of Candidacy is cancelled. Nonetheless, because of the absence of any contrary order from the COMELEC, petitioner Reyes was voted for in the elections held unaware of such disqualification On the other hand, it appears that petitioner Julius M. Garcia, who obtained the second highest number of votes next to petitioner Reyes in the same elections of May 8, 1995, intervened in the COMELEC on June 13, 1995 (after the main decision disqualifying Renato Reyes was promulgated), contending that because Reyes was disqualified, he (Garcia) was entitled to be proclaimed mayor of Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.

POLITICAL LAW; ELECTION; HE WHO OBTAINED THE SECOND HIGHEST NUMBER OF VOTES MAY NOT BE PROCLAIMED WINNER IN CASE OF THE DISQUALIFICATION OF THE WINNING CANDIDATE. - 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. The doctrinal instability caused by see-sawing rulings has since been removed. In the latest ruling (Aquino v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 120265, September 18, 1995) on the question, 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. The second placer is just that, a second placer. He lost the elections. He was repudiated by either a majority or plurality of voters. He could not be considered the first among qualified candidates because in a field which excludes the disqualified candidate, the conditions would have substantially changed. We are not prepared to extrapolate the results under the circumstances.