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POWER OF COA

RODOLFO S. DE JESUS, ET AL. vs. COMMISSION ON AUDIT


G.R. No. 149154, June 10, 2003
Facts: The Board of Directors (BOD) of the Catbalogan Water District granted to themselves
RATA, rice allowance, productivity incentive, anniversary, and year-end bonus and cash gifts, as
authorized by Resolution No. 313 of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). The COA
disallowed and ordered the refund of these allowances as they are not allowed by P.D. No. 198,
the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973.
Issue: Whether COA is vested with authority to disallow release of allowance not authorized by
law even if authorized by the LWUA.
Held: Art. IX, Sec. 2 D of the Constitution mandates the COA to audit all the government
agencies, including government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) with original
charters. The COA is vested with authority to disallow illegal or irregular disbursements of
government funds. A Water District is a GOCC with a special charter since it is created pursuant
to special law, PD 198. The COA can disallow allowances not authorized by law, even if authorized
by the LWUA.
Considering that the disallowed allowances were received in good faith, without knowledge that
payment had no legal basis, the allowances need not to be refunded.
ADMINISTRATIVE POWERS OF COMELEC
BAYTAN ET AL. VS. COMELEC
GR No. 153945. February 4, 2003
Facts: Reynato Baytan registered as a voter in two precincts and the COMELEC En Banc affirmed
the recommendation of its Law Department to file information of double registration in violation
of the Election Code. Baytan filed with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari on the grounds,
among others, that there was no probable cause and that election cases must first be heard and
decided by a Division before the COMELEC En Banc can assume jurisdiction.
Held: 1. It is well- settled that the finding of probable cause in the prosecution of election offenses
rests in the sound discretion of the COMELEC. Generally, the Court will not interfere with such
finding of the COMELEC, absent a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion. This principle
emanates from the exclusive power of the COMELEC to conduct preliminary investigation of all
election investigation of all election offenses and to prosecute the same.
2. Under Sec. 2, Art. IX-C of the Constitution, the COMELEC exercises both administrative and
quasi-judicial powers. The administrative powers are found in Sec 2. (1), (3) to (9) of Art IX-C.
The Constitution does not provide on whether these administrative powers shall be exercised by
the COMELEC en banc or in division. The COMELEC en banc therefore can act on administrative
matters, and this had been the practice under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. The prosecution
by the COMELEC of violations of election laws is an administrative power.
3. The exercise by the COMELEC of its quasi-judicial powers is subject to Sec.3, Art.IX-C which
expressly requires that all election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, shall be
decided by the COMELEC in division, and the motion for reconsideration shall be decided by the
COMELEC en banc.

NAVARRO VS. COMELEC


GR No. 150799. February 3, 2003

Facts: Petitioner was a candidate for Mayor in the May 14, 2001 elections and during the
canvassing, he petitioned the Board of Canvassers (BOC) to exclude the election returns
contained in nine (9) ballot boxes on the ground that said boxes were not secured by the required
3 padlocks. The BOC denied the petition and petitioner appealed to the COMELEC. The
COMELEC en banc denied the appeal and ordered the BOC to proceed with the canvassing and
proclaim the winning local candidates. Petitioner lost in the election.

Held: 1. Lack of the required number of padlocks on the ballot boxes is not a proper issue in a preproclamation controversy. The issues that may be raised in a pre-proclamation controversy are
enumerated in Sec 243 of the Omnibus Election Code, to wit:
a. Illegal composition or proceeding of the board of canvassers;
b. The canvassed election returns are incomplete, contain material defects, and appear to be
tampered with or falsified, or contain discrepancies in the same returns or in other authentic
copies thereof as mentioned in Sections 233, 234, 235, and 236 of this Code;
c. The election returns were prepared under duress, threats, coercion, or intimidation, or they are
obviously manufactured or not authentic; and
d. When substitute or fraudulent returns in controverted polling places were canvassed, the
results of which materially affected the standing of the aggrieved candidate or candidates.
This enumeration is exclusive.
2. A pre-proclamation controversy is limited to an examination of the election returns on their
face and the COMELEC as a general rule need not go beyond the face of the returns and
investigate the alleged election irregularities. In the case of Baterina, et al. v. COMELEC, 205
SCRA 1, the following facts were shown: (a) failure to close the entries with the signatures of the
election inspectors; (b) lack of inner and outer seals; (c) canvassing by the Board of copies not
intended for it; (d) lack of time and date receipt by the Board of the election returns; (e) lack of
signatures of petitioners watchers; and (f) lack of authority of the person receiving the election
returns. It was held that while said facts may, indeed, involve violation of the rules governing the
preparation and delivery of election returns for canvassing, they do not necessarily affect the
authenticity and genuineness of the subject election returns as to warrant their exclusion from the
canvassing. Above facts are clearly defects in form insufficient to support a conclusion that the
election returns were tampered with or spurious.
3. The COMELEC en banc validly ordered the proclamation of the winning candidate even during
the pendency of the appeal to the COMELEC from the BOCs denial of the petition for exclusion of

the questioned election returns. RA 7166, Sec 20 (I) provides as follows:


(i) The BOC shall not proclaim any candidate as winner unless authorized by the Commission
after the latter has ruled on the objection brought to it on appeal by the losing party. Any
proclamation in violation hereof shall be void ab initio, unless the contested returns will not
adversely affect the results of the election.
Above-quoted provision applies only where the objection deals with a pre-proclamation
controversy.

IMMUNITY FROM CRIMINAL LIABILITY

COMELEC VS. TAGLE, ET AL.


GR No.s 148948 & 148951, February 17, 2003

Facts: In connection with the May 11, 1998 elections, candidate for Mayor Florentino A. Bautista
filed a complaint against Mayor Federico Poblete et al. for vote buying in violation of Sec 261 (a)
and (b) of the Omnibus Election Code. The Information was docketed as Criminal Case No. 703499 of the RTC of Imus, Cavite. Subsequently, a complaint for vote-selling in violation of Sec 261
(a) of the Omnibus Election Code was filed with the Prosecutors Office as witnesses in Criminal
Case No. 7034-99 and the Provincial Prosecutor in Imus, Cavite filed separate Informations for
vote-selling against said witnesses. On appeal, the COMELEC en banc declared that the witnesses
in Criminal Case No. 7034-99 were exempt from criminal prosecution pursuant to 4th paragraph
of Sec 28, RA No. 6646, otherwise known as The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987 which grants
immunity from criminal prosecution to persons who voluntarily give information and willingly
testify against those liable for vote-buying or vote-selling. The Law Department of the COMELEC
moved to dismiss the Informations against the said witnesses but the RTC in Imus, Cavite denied
the motion to dismiss.

Held: 1. One of the effective ways of preventing the commission of vote-buying and of prosecuting
those committing it is the grant of immunity from criminal liability in favor of the party whose
vote was bought. Sec 28 of RA No. 6646 concludes with the following paragraph:
The giver, offeror, the promissory as well as the solicitor, acceptor, recipient and conspirator
referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 261 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 shall be liable as

principals: Provided, that any person, otherwise guilty under said paragraphs who voluntarily
gives information and willingly testifies on any violation thereof in any official investigation or
proceeding shall be exempt from prosecution and punishment for the offenses with reference to
which his information and testimony were given: Provided, further, that nothing herein shall
exempt such person from criminal prosecution for perjury or false testimony.
2. To avoid possible fabrication of evidence against the vote-buyers, especially by the latters
opponents, Congress saw it fit to warn vote-sellers who denounce the vote-buying that they
could be liable for perjury or false testimony should they not tell the truth.
3. The prosecution witnesses in Criminal Case No. 7034-99 are exempt from criminal prosecution
for vote-selling by virtue of the proviso in the last paragraph of Section 28, RA 6646. At the time
when the complaint for vote-selling was filed with the office of the Provincial Prosecutor, the
respondents had already executed sworn statements attesting to the corrupt practice of votebuying. It cannot then be denied that they had already voluntarily given information in the votebuying case. In fact, they willingly testified in Crim. Case No. 7034-99.
4. The COMELEC has the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election
offenses punishable under the election laws and to prosecute the same. The Chief State
Prosecutor, all Provincial and City Prosecutors, or their respective assistants are, however, given
continuing authority, as deputies of the COMELEC to conduct preliminary investigation of
complaints involving election offenses and to prosecute the same. This authority may be revoked
or withdrawn by the COMELEC anytime whenever, in its judgment, such revocation or
withdrawal is necessary to protect the integrity of the COMELEC and to promote the common
good, or when it believes that the successful prosecution of the case can be done by the
COMELEC. When the COMELEC nullified the resolution of the Provincial Prosecutor, it in effect
withdrew the deputation granted by the COMELEC.

PREMATURE CAMPAIGNING

PANGKAT LAGUNA VS. COMELEC ET AL.


G.R. No. 148075. February 4, 2002

Facts: On January 30, 2001 then Vice Governor Teresita Lazaro succeeded to the office of the
Governor of Laguna when then Gov. Jose Lina was appointed Secretary of the DILG. Upon
assumption of office as Governor, Lazaro publicly declared her intention to run for Governor in

the coming May 2001 elections. Subsequently, she ordered the purchase of trophies, basketballs,
volleyballs, chessboard sets, t-shirts, medals and pins, and other sports materials worth P4.5
millions. Gov. Lazaro bidded 79 public works projects on March 28, 2001. Pangkat Laguna, a
registered political party, filed a petition for disqualification of Gov. Lazaro for premature
campaigning.

Held: 1. The act of Gov. Lazaro in ordering the purchase of various items and the consequent
distribution thereof of Laguna, in line with the local government units sports and education
program is not election campaigning or partisan political activity contemplated and explicitly
prescribed under the pertinent provisions of Sec 80 of the Omnibus Election Code.
2. Evidence is wanting to sufficiently establish the allegation that public funds were released,
disbursed, or expended during the 45-day prohibitive period provided under the law and
implementing rules. Absent such clear and convincing proof, the factual findings of the
COMELEC cannot be disturbed considering that the COMELEC is the constitutional body tasked
to decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections.

PUBLIC CORPORATION / PUBLIC OFFICERS

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS; SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN; MAJORITY OF ALL THE


MEMBERS REQUIRED TO CONSTITUTE QUORUM

MANUEL ZAMORA VS. GOV. JOSE CABALLERO, ET AL.


G.R. No. 147767. January 14, 2002

Facts: Manuel Zamora, a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Compostela Valley, filed
before the RTC a petition to invalidate all acts executed and resolutions issued by the Sanggunian
during its sessions held on February 8 and 26, 2001 for lack of quorum. Said sessions noted the
resignation letter of Board Member Sotto, declared the entire province under a state of calamity
and approved the Governor to enter into the contract with the Allado Company. Zamora, the
petitioner, argued that the Sanggunian, during its February 26 session, conducted official
business without a quorum since only 7 out of the 14 members were present. He further
questioned the February 8 sessions validity arguing that only 7 members were present and the
failure to provide written notice to all members at least 24 hours before the holding of the special

session. Respondents argued that Board Member Sotto was in the United States during such
sessions and that the actual number of Board Members in the country was only 13 which, they
claimed, should be the basis for the determination of a quorum. Such petition raised by Zamora
was dismissed by the RTC but reversed and granted by the Supreme Court.

Issues: 1) Whether or not Section 53 (a) of the LGC provides and specifies applicable rule
regarding the determination of a quorum.

2) Whether or not Sanggunian Members who are abroad should not be included in the counting
of the entire Sangguniang body.

3) Whether or not the approved decisions during the sessions, alleged to be without quorum, is
deemed to be valid.

Held: Section 53 (a) of the LGC states that : A majority of all members of the Sanggunian who
have been elected and qualified shall constitute a quorum to transact official business. Quorum is
defined as the number of members of a body which, when legally assembled, will enable the body
to transact its proper business or that number which makes a lawful body and gives it power to
pass upon a law or ordinance or do any valid act. When required to constitute a quorum,
majority means the number greater than half or more than half of the total.
As further stated, it requires the majority of ALL members of the Sanggunian. Quorum should,
thus, be based on the total number of members regardless of whether or not a member is said to
be abroad.
Therefore, in cases where decisions have been made during sessions deemed to have not met the
required quorum, such sessions and decisions shall be considered void.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT; 3-TERM LIMIT

RAYMUNDO ADORMEO VS. COMELEC, ET AL.


G.R. No. 147927. February 4, 2002

Facts: Respondent Talaga was elected Mayor of Lucena City in 1992, re-elected in 1995, but lost to
Tagarao in 1998 elections. Tagarao was recalled and in the May 12, 2000 recall elections, Talaga

won and served the unexpired term of Tagarao until June 30, 2001. Talaga was candidate for
Mayor in the May 14, 2001 elections, and a petition for cancellation of his certificate of candidacy
was filed on the ground that he has served as Mayor for three consecutive terms.

Issue: Whether or not Talaga has served as Mayor of Lucena City for three consecutive terms.

Held: The term limit for elective local officials must be taken to refer to the right to be elected as
well as the right to serve in the same elective position. Consequently, it is not enough that an
individual has served three consecutive terms in an elective local office. He must also have been
elected to the same position for the same number of times before the disqualification can apply.
In the case at bar, Talaga did not serve for 3 consecutive terms. For nearly 2 years, he was a
private citizen. The continuity of his mayorship was disrupted by his defeat in the 1998 elections.
If one is elected representative to serve the unexpired term of another, that unexpired term, no
matter how short, will be considered one term for the purpose of computing the number of
successive terms allowedthis comment of Constitutional Commissioner Fr. Bernas applies only
to members of the House of Representatives. Unlike government officials, there is no recall
election for members of Congress.

PUBLIC OFFICERS; ANTI-GRAFT

MAYOR ALVIN GARCIA VS. HON. PRIMO. MIRA, ET AL.


G.R. No. 148944. February 5, 2003

Facts: City Mayor Garcia was charged by Ombudsman Special Prosecution Officer Jesus Rodrigo
Tagaan for violation of the Anti-Graft Law as a result of his having entered into a contract with
F.E. Zuellig for the supply of asphalt batching plant for three years. The joint affidavits of State
Auditors Cabreros and Quejada alleged that petitioner entered into the contract without available
funds appropriated to cover the expenditure in violation of Sections 85 and 86 of P.D. 1445 or the
State Audit Code of the Phil.; that petitioner exceeded the authority granted him by the
Sangguniang Panlungsod; and that the contract is manifestly disadvantageous to the City. Note
however that thereafter, Special Prosecution Officer Tagaan resigned from his office and his name
was withdrawn as complainant in the case. Instead of filing a counter-affidavit, Garcia filed with
the Supreme Court a petition to prohibit the Ombudsman from conducting the preliminary

investigation on the ground that there is no sufficient complaint.

Issue: Whether or not the complaint/affidavits filed against Garcia is sufficient in form or
manner.

Held: For purposes of initiating a preliminary investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman,
a complaint in any form or manner is sufficient. The Constitution states that the Ombudsman and
his Deputies, as protectors of the people, shall act promptly on complaints filed in any form or
manner against public officials or employees of the government. In Almonte vs. Vasquez, 244
SCRA 286, we held that even unverified and anonymous letters may suffice to start an
investigation. The Office of the Ombudsman is different from the other investigatory and
prosecutory agencies of the government because those subject to its jurisdiction are public
officials who, through official pressure and influence, can quash, delay, or dismiss investigations
against them. The joint affidavits of State Auditors Cabreros and Quejada contain allegations
specific enough for petitioner to prepare his evidence and counter-arguments.
The fact that Special Prosecution Officer Tagaan already resigned from his office and that his
name was withdrawn as complainant in the case is of no consequence. First, Tagaans report and
affidavit still form part of the records of the case. He can still be called by subpoena, if necessary.
Second, Tagaan was only a nominal party whose duty as special prosecutor was to investigate the
commission of crimes and file the corresponding complaint whenever warranted. Since the illegal
acts committed are public offenses, the real complainant is the State, which is represented by the
remaining complainants.

PUBLIC OFFICERS; APPOINTMENT; CONFIRMATION BY COA

ATTY. ELPIDIO SORIANO III VS. REUBEN LISTA, ET AL.


G.R. No. 153881. March 24, 2003

Facts: Eight officers of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) were promoted by the President to Vice
Admiral, Rear Admiral, Commodore, Naval Captain, and they assumed office without
confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (COA). Petitioner, as a taxpayer, filed a
petition with the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of their assumption of office,
which requires confirmation of the COA.

Held: Petitioner has no locus standi. A party bringing a suit challenging the constitutionality of an
act or statute must show not only that the law or act is invalid, but also that he has sustained, or is
in immediate or imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement
and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. The instant petition cannot even be
classified as a taxpayers suit because petitioner has no interest as such and this case does not
involve the exercise by Congress of its taxing power.
Pursuant to Executive Order of President Ramos, the PCG was transferred from the Department
of National Defense to the Office of the President, and later to the Department of Transportation
and Communication (DOTC).
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