Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 162035 November 26, 2004
GILBERTO CANTORIA, petitioner,
vs.
ON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS !"# CIRIACO P. LOMBO$, respondents.
D E C I S I N
%UISUMBING, J.&
!his special civil action for certiorari "ith pra#er for a !e$porar# Restrainin% rder and&or
Preli$inar# In'unction see(s to annul the Resolution,
)
dated *anuar# +,, +--., of the
Co$$ission on Elections /CME0EC1 in EAC No. 223+--+, "hich affir$ed the Decision,
+
dated
Septe$ber 4, +--+, of the Municipal !rial Court of Santa Maria, Pan%asinan in Election Case No.
2)..
!he antecedent facts and proceedin%s are as follo"s5
In the *ul# )4, +--+ election for Baran%a# Captain in Poblacion East, Sta. Maria, Pan%asinan,
petitioner 6ilberto Cantoria and private respondent Ciriaco 0o$bo# "ere the onl# co$petin%
candidates.
In the state$ent of votes, petitioner %arnered t"o hundred thirt#3three /+221 votes, "hile private
respondent %ot t"o hundred thirt#3one /+2)1 votes. 7ence, petitioner "as proclai$ed as the dul#
elected Baran%a# Captain.
n *ul# ),, +--+, private respondent filed an election protest doc(eted as Election Case No. 2).
"ith the Municipal !rial Court /M!C1 of Santa Maria, Pan%asinan.
8pon a%ree$ent of the parties, the M!C ordered a revision of the ballots b# a Revision
Co$$ittee. !he Revision Co$$ittee found that the votes actuall# cast for petitioner "as t"o
hundred t"ent#3ei%ht /++91, and for private respondent, t"o hundred thirt#3one /+2)1.
!hus, in its Decision,
2
dated Septe$ber 4, +--+, the trial 'ud%e decreed as follo"s5
:7ERE;RE, the Court hereb# renders 'ud%$ent declarin% the protestant CIRIAC
0MB< as the dul# elected Punon% Baran%a# of Poblacion East, Sta. Maria,
Pan%asinan.
S RDERED.
.
Petitioner appealed the said Decision to public respondent Co$$ission on Elections
/CME0EC1 assertin% that the trial court erred in rulin% certain ballots as $ar(ed ballots. Private
respondent in his Appellee=s Brief pra#ed for the dis$issal of the appeal for lac( of $erit.
In its Second Division Resolution, dated *anuar# +,, +--., CME0EC dis$issed the appeal for
lac( of $erit, to "it5
:7ERE;RE, pre$ises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED for 0AC> ;
MERI!.
Accordin%l#, the 4 Septe$ber +--+ Decision of the Municipal !rial Court of Santa Maria,
Pan%asinan in Election Case No. 2). is hereb# A;;IRMED.
S RDERED.
4
:ithout filin% a Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner elevated the case to this Court via a
special civil action for certiorari "ith pra#er for a !e$porar# Restrainin% rder and&or Preli$inar#
In'unction. Petitioner assi%ns to the CME0EC, the follo"in% errors5
i
P8B0IC RESPNDEN!, :I!7 D8E RESPEC!, 6RA?E0< AB8SED I!S DISCRE!IN
:7EN I! A;;IRMED !7E ASSAI0ED DECISIN ; !7E M!C DESPI!E !7E C0EAR
AND APPAREN! 0AC> ; ;AC!8A0 AND 0E6A0 BASIS ! S8PPR! !7E SAME.
ii
P8B0IC RESPNDEN!, :I!7 D8E RESPEC!, 6RA?E0< AB8SED I!S DISCRE!IN
:7EN I! A;;IRMED !7E DECISIN ; !7E M!C.
@
Petitioner contends that5 /)1 ballots containin% the nic(na$e ABo#et CantoriaA or ABo# Bo#etA
clearl# "ritten on the$ should be respected and credited to hi$ as these nic(na$es are
indicated in his Certificate of Candidac#B /+1 ballots "ith the "ords ACristo Eleiser 0o$bo#A and
AAdon% 0o$bo#A "ritten on the space for Punon% Baran%a# "ere counted in favor of private
respondent, alle%edl# in violation of election rules and re%ulationsB /21 ballots "ith the "ord
AAcon%A "ritten on the space for Punon% Baran%a# "as credited in favor of private respondent
despite the fact that the sa$e "as not his re%istered na$e or nic(na$eB and /.1 a ballot "herein
the space line for Punon% Baran%a# is blan( and the full na$e of private respondent "as "ritten
in the first space line for >a%a"ad San%%unian% Baran%a# "as credited in favor of private
respondent, "hich should not be the case as said vote is a stra# vote.
;or his part, private respondent counters that the assailed Resolution of public respondent is
alread# final and eCecutor# for petitioner=s failure to file a Motion for Reconsideration "ithin the
re%le$entar# period. Accordin%l#, private respondent points out, the assailed Resolution of public
respondent "as recorded in the Boo( of Entries of *ud%$ents on March +, +--..
D
Private
respondent ar%ues that a restrainin% order $a# no lon%er be issued a%ainst public respondent as
the latter has alread# lost 'urisdiction over the case. At an# rate, private respondent avers that the
present petition concerns errors of appreciation of facts, not %rave abuse of discretion
tanta$ount to "hi$sical eCercise of 'udicial prero%ative.
;or public respondent, the ffice of the Solicitor 6eneral /S61, ar%ues that the appreciation of
contested ballots involves a Euestion of fact best left to the deter$ination of the CME0EC as
the constitutional creation vested "ith the po"er to be the sole 'ud%e of election contests
involvin% baran%a# officials. ConseEuentl#, the S6 continues, this Court=s 'urisdiction to revie"
CME0EC=s decisions operates onl# upon a sho"in% of %rave abuse of discretion.
:e find the petition "ithout $erit.
:e have said ti$e and a%ain that the special civil action of certiorari is not a substitute for the
lost or lapsed re$ed# of appeal.
9
A petition for certiorari under Rule @4 $a# be allo"ed onl#
"here there is no appeal, or an# other plain, speed#, and adeEuate re$ed# in the ordinar#
course of la".
,
In the instant case, the proper re$ed# available to petitioner is a Motion for Reconsideration of
the Euestioned Resolution of public respondent CME0EC.
Section +, Rule ), of the ),,2 CME0EC Rules of Procedure fiCes the period for the filin% of a
Motion for Reconsideration, thus5
SEC. +. Period for ;ilin% Motions for Reconsideration. F A $otion to reconsider a
decision, resolution, order, or rulin% of a Division shall be filed "ithin five /41 da#s fro$
the pro$ul%ation thereof. Such $otion, if not pro3for$a, suspends the eCecution or
i$ple$entation of the decision, resolution, order or rulin%.
In this connection, Section )2 /c1, Rule )9 of the said Rules provides that5
SEC. )2. ;inalit# of Decisions or Resolutions. 3 G
. . .
/c1 8nless a $otion for reconsideration is seasonabl# filed, a decision or resolution of a
Division shall beco$e final and eCecutor# after the lapse of five /41 da#s in Special
actions and Special cases and after fifteen /)41 da#s in all other actions or proceedin%s,
follo"in% its pro$ul%ation.
Clearl#, the Euestioned Resolution of public respondent has beco$e final and eCecutor# due to
petitioner=s o"n failure to seasonabl# file a Motion for Reconsideration of the sa$e. Considerin%
that petitioner, b# his o"n ne%lect or error in his choice of re$edies, failed to file the appropriate
re$ed# "ithin the period prescribed b# the aforecited CME0EC Rules of Procedure, he cannot
no" co$e to us on a special civil action for certiorari.
Not"ithstandin% the availabilit# of ordinar# appeal or other re$edies, ho"ever, resort to the
special civil action of certiorari $a# still be allo"ed, but onl# upon a sho"in% of %rave abuse of
discretion a$ountin% to lac( or eCcess of 'urisdiction.
)-
B# %rave abuse of discretion is $eant such capricious and "hi$sical eCercise of 'ud%$ent
eEuivalent to lac( of 'urisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enou%h. It $ust be %rave, as
"hen it is eCercised arbitraril# or despoticall# b# reason of passion or personal hostilit#. Such
abuse $ust be so patent and so %ross as to a$ount to an evasion of a positive dut# or to a
virtual refusal to perfor$ the dut# en'oined or to act at all in conte$plation of la".
))
In this case, petitioner i$putes to the M!C errors of 'ud%$ent tanta$ount to %rave abuse of
discretion. ;irst, petitioner alle%es that ballots "ith the "ords ABo#et CantoriaA and ABo# Bo#etA
should be credited to hi$. :e note that the M!C, in fact, counted the said ballots in favor of
petitioner since ABo#etA is his re%istered nic(na$e.
)+
Second, petitioner clai$s that ballots "ith the "ords ACristo Eleiser 0o$bo#A and AAdon%
0o$bo#A "ere erroneousl# counted in favor of private respondent. 7o"ever, records sho" that
the M!C actuall# disallo"ed the ballots "ith the "ords ACristo Eleiser 0o$bo#A since ACristo
EleiserA is not the first na$e or re%istered nic(na$e of private respondent.
)2
!he ballot "ith the
"ords AAdon% 0o$bo#A instead of AAcon% 0o$bo#,A "ere ri%htl# counted b# the M!C in favor of
private respondent. 8nder the ide$ sonans rule, a na$e or surna$e incorrectl# "ritten "hich,
"hen read, has a sound si$ilar to the na$e or surna$e of a candidate "hen correctl# "ritten
shall be counted in favor of such candidate.
).
Since the na$e AAdon%A sounds si$ilar to private
respondent=s re%istered nic(na$e, AAcon%,A the M!C correctl# counted the said ballot in favor of
private respondent.
!hird, petitioner alle%es that the M!C incorrectl# counted in favor of private respondent ballots
"ith the "ord AAcon%.A 7o"ever, as "e have previousl# noted, AAcon%A is the re%istered
nic(na$e of private respondent. !hus, the M!C onl# properl# credited the said ballots to private
respondent.
0astl#, in #et another atte$pt to $islead the Court, petitioner alle%es that a ballot, "here the
space line for Punon% Baran%a# "as blan( and the full na$e of private respondent "as "ritten in
the first space line for >a%a"ad San%%unian% Baran%a#, "as credited to private respondent.
7o"ever, the M!C, as a $atter of fact, did not even count the said ballot as a vote for private
respondent for the si$ple reason that the latter did not present hi$self as a candidate for
>a%a"ad, but for Baran%a# Captain.
)4
bviousl#, petitioner failed to sho" in this case that public respondent co$$itted %rave abuse of
discretion "arrantin% the issuance of a "rit of certiorari. n the contrar#, "e find that public
respondent did not abuse its discretion in affir$in% the M!C rulin%. !he Decision of the M!C is in
accordance "ith la" and thus ou%ht to be upheld.
:7ERE;RE, the petition is DISMISSED for lac( of $erit.
S RDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-
Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, inga, C!ico-"azario, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
Corona, J., on leave.