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Gallardo vs. Tabamo, Jr.

January 29, 1993 218 SCRA 253


ANTONIO GALLARDO, ANTONIO AREVALO, CRESENCIO ECHAVEZ,
ARANAS, PALERMO SIA, RONNIE RAMBUYAN, PRIMO NAVARRO
NAVARRO, petitioners, vs. HON. SINFOROSO V. TABAMO, JR., in his
Presiding Judge of Branch 28 of the Regional Trial Court of
Camiguin, and PEDRO P. ROMUALDO, respondents.

EMMANUEL
and NOEL
capacity as
Mambajao,

This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court. Petitioners seek to prohibit, restrain and enjoin respondent
Judge Tabamo from continuing with the proceedings in a petition for
injunction, prohibition and mandamus with a prayer for a writ of preliminary
injunction and restraining order filed as a taxpayers suit.
At the time of filing both the special civil action and the instant petition,
petitioner Antonio Gallardo was the incumbent Governor of the Province of
Camiguin and was seeking re-election in the May 11, 1992 synchronized
elections. Petitioners Arevalo, Echavez, Aranas, and Sia are the provincial
treasurer, provincial auditor, provincial engineer, and provincial budget officer
of Camiguin. Their co-petitioners Rambuyon, Primo and Noel Navarro are all
government project laborers. On the other hand, the private respondent was
the incumbent Congressman of the lone Congressional district of Camiguin, a
candidate for the same office in the said synchronized elections and the
Regional Chairman of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) in Region X.

FACTS:
On April 10, 1992, private respondent filed his Petition (Special Civil Action No.
465) before the court a quo against petitioners to prohibit and restrain them
from pursuing or prosecuting certain public works projects as it violates the
45-day ban on public works imposed by the Omnibus Election Code (Batas
Pambansa Blg. 881) because although they were initiated few days before
March 27, 1992, the date the ban took effect, they were not covered by
detailed engineering plans, specifications or a program of work which are
preconditions for the commencement of any public works project. The
questioned projects are classified into two (2) categories: (a) those that are
Locally-Funded, consisting of 29 different projects for the maintenance or
concreting of various roads, the rehabilitation of the Katibawasan Falls and the
construction of the Capitol Building, and (b) those designated as ForeignAssisted, consisting of fifteen (15) projects which include the construction of

Human Development Center, various Day Care cum Production Centers and
waterworks systems; the extension and renovation of various buildings; the
acquisition of hospital and laboratory equipment; and the rehabilitation of
office and equipment.
On the same day, respondent Judge issued the question TRO. In the same
order, he directed the petitioners to file their Answer within 10 days from
receipt of notice and set the hearing on the application for the issuance of the
writ of preliminary injunction for April 24, 1992. Instead of filing the Answer,
the petitioners filed the special civil action for certiorari and prohibition, with a
prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order.
They contend that the case principally involves an alleged violation of the
Omnibus Election Code thus the jurisdiction is exclusively vested in the
Comelec, not the Regional Trial Court.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the trial court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of
Special Civil Action No. 465.

RULING:
The material operative facts alleged in the petition therein inexorably link the private respondent's
principal grievance to alleged violations of paragraphs (a), (b), (v) and (w), Section 261 of the
Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881). There is particular emphasis on the last two
(2) paragraphs which read:
Sec. 261. Prohibited Acts. The following shall be guilty of an election offense:
(a) Vote-buying and vote-selling.
xxx xxx xxx
(b) Conspiracy to bribe voters.
xxx xxx xxx
(v) Prohibition against release, disbursement or expenditure of public funds. Any public
official or employee including barangay officials and those of government-owned or
controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, who, during forty-five days before a regular

election and thirty days before a special election, releases, disburses or expends any public
funds for:
(1) Any and all kinds of public works, except the following:
xxx xxx xxx
(w) Prohibition against construction of public works, delivery of materials for public works
and issuance of treasury warrants and similar devices. During the period of forty-five
days preceding a regular election and thirty days before a special election, any person who
(a) undertakes the construction of any public works, except for projects or works exempted
in the preceding paragraph; or (b) issues, uses or avails of treasury warrants or any device
undertaking future delivery of money, goods or other things of value chargeable against
public funds.

The court ruled that Comelec has jurisdiction to enforce and administer all
laws relative to the conduct of elections. The 1987 Constitution implicitly
grants the Commission the power to promulgate such rules and regulations as
provided in Section 2 of Article IX-C. Moreover, the present Constitution also
invests the Comission with the power to investigate and, where appropriate,
prosecute cases of violations of election law, including acts or omissions
constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.
It is not true that, as contended by the petitioners, the jurisdiction of the
Regional Trial Court under the election laws is limited to criminal actions for
violations of the Omnibus Election Code. The Constitution itself grants to it
exclusive original jurisdiction over contests involving elective municipal
officials. Neither can the Court agree with the petitioners' assertion that the
Special Civil Action filed in the RTC below involves the prosecution of election
offenses; the said action seeks some reliefs incident to or in connection with

JOSE L. GUEVARA vs. COMELEC G.R. No. L-12596 July 31, 1958
FACTS:
Guevara was ordered by the COMELEC to show cause why he should not be punished for
contempt for having published in the newspaper an article which tended to interfere
with and influence the COMELEC awarding the contracts for the manufacture and
supply of ballot boxes; and which article likewise tended to degrade, bring into

alleged election offenses; specifically, what is sought is the prevention of the


further commission of these offenses which, by their alleged nature, are
continuing.
There is as well no merit in the petitioners' claim that the private respondent
has no legal standing to initiate the filing of a complaint for a violation of the
Omnibus Election Code. There is nothing in the law to prevent any citizen from
exposing the commission of an election offense and from filing a complaint in
connection therewith. On the contrary, under the COMELEC Rules of
Procedure, initiation of complaints for election offenses may be done motu
propio by the Commission on Elections or upon written complaint by any
citizen, candidate or registered political party or organization under the partylist system or any of the accredited citizens arms of the Commission.
However, such written complaints should be filed with the "Law Department of
the Commission; or with the offices of the Election Registrars, Provincial
Election Supervisors or Regional Election Directors, or the State Prosecutor,
Provincial Fiscal or City Fiscal." As earlier intimated, the private respondent
was not seriously concerned with the criminal aspect of his alleged
grievances. He merely sought a stoppage of the public works projects because
of their alleged adverse effect on his candidacy. Indeed, while he may have
had reason to fear and may have even done the right thing, he committed a
serious procedural misstep and invoked the wrong authority.
The court, therefore, has no alternative but to grant this petition on the basis
their resolution of the principal issue. Nevertheless, it must be strongly
emphasized that in so holding that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the
subject matter of Special Civil Action No. 465
disrepute, and undermine the exclusive constitutional function of this Commission and
its Chairman
Petitioner, filed a motion to quash on the following ground that the Commission has no
jurisdiction to punish as contempt the publication of the alleged contemptuous article,
as neither in the Constitution nor in statutes is the Commission granted a power to so
punish the same.
ISSUE:

Whether or not the COMELEC has the power and jurisdiction to conduct contempt
proceedings against Guevara in connection with the publication of an article.
RULING:
Although the negotiation conducted by the Commission has resulted in controversy
between several dealers, that however merely refers to a ministerial duty which the
Commission has performed in its administrative capacity. It only discharged a
ministerial duty; it did not exercise any judicial function. Such being the case, it could
not exercise the power to punish for contempt as postulated in the law, for such power
is inherently judicial in nature. As this Court has aptly said: "The power to punish for
contempt is inherent in all courts; its existence is essential to the preservation of order
in judicial proceedings, and to the enforcement of judgments, orders and mandates of
courts, and, consequently, in the administration of justice". We are therefore
persuaded to conclude that the Commission on Elections has no power nor authority to
submit petitioner to contempt proceedings if its purpose is to discipline him because of
the publication of the article mentioned in the charge under consideration.
GUEVARA vs. COMELEC

Montejo vs. COMELEC


242 SCRA 415
March 16, 1995
Facts:
Petitioner Cerilo Roy Montejo, representative of the first district of Leyte, pleads for the
annulment of Section 1 of Resolution no. 2736, redistricting certain municipalities in Leyte,
on the ground that it violates the principle of equality of representation.
The province of Leyte with the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc is composed of 5 districts. The
3rd district is composed of: Almeria, Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Calubian, Culaba,
Kawayan, Leyte, Maripipi, Naval, San Isidro, Tabango and Villaba.
Biliran, located in the 3rd district of Leyte, was made its subprovince by virtue of Republic
Act No. 2141 Section 1 enacted on 1959. Said section spelled out the municipalities
comprising the subprovince: Almeria, Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Culaba, Kawayan,
Maripipi and Naval and all the territories comprised therein.

Petitioner was ordered by the COMELEC to show cause why he should not be punished
for contempt for having published in the Sunday Times an article which tended to
interfere with and influence the COMELEC and its members in the adjudication of a
controversy then pending. The article pertained to the contracts entered into by
COMELEC regarding the requisitioning and preparation of ballot boxes to be used in the
elections. Petitioner appeared and filed a motion to quash upon the ground, among
others, that the Commission has no jurisdiction to punish as contempt the publication of
the alleged contemptuous article. The COMELEC denied the motion to quash but granted
petitioner a period of 15 days within which to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court.
ISSUE: W/N the COMELEC has the power to jurisdiction to conduct contempt
proceedings
HELD: NO. Although the negotiation conducted by the Commission has resulted in
controversy between several dealers, that however merely refers to a ministerial duty
which the Commission has performed in its administrative capacity in relation to the
conduct of elections ordained by our Constitution. In proceeding on this matter, it only
discharged a ministerial duty; it did not exercise any judicial function. Such being the
case, it could not exercise the power to punish for contempt as postulated in the law, for
such power is inherently judicial in nature.

On 1992, the Local Government Code took effect and the subprovince of Biliran became a
regular province. (The conversion of Biliran into a regular province was approved by a
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite.) As a consequence of the conversion, eight
municipalities of the 3rd district composed the new province of Biliran. A further
consequence was to reduce the 3rd district to five municipalities (underlined above) with a
total population of 146,067 as per the 1990 census.
To remedy the resulting inequality in the distribution of inhabitants, voters and
municipalities in the province of Leyte, respondent COMELEC held consultation meetings
with the incumbent representatives of the province and other interested parties and on
December 29, 1994, it promulgated the assailed resolution where, among others, it
transferred the municipality of Capoocan of the 2nd district and the municipality of
Palompon of the 4th district to the 3rd district of Leyte.
Issue:
Whether the unprecedented exercise by the COMELEC of the legislative power of

redistricting and reapportionment is valid or not.


Held:
Section 1 of Resolution no. 2736 is annulled and set aside.
The deliberations of the members of the Constitutional Commission shows that COMELEC
was denied the major power of legislative apportionment as it itself exercised the power.
Regarding the first elections after the enactment of the 1987 constitution, it is the
Commission who did the reapportionment of the legislative districts and for the subsequent
elections, the power was given to the Congress.
Also, respondent COMELEC relied on the ordinance appended to the 1987 constitution as the
source of its power of redistricting which is traditionally regarded as part of the power to
make laws. Said ordinance states that:
Section 2: The Commission on Elections is hereby empowered to make minor adjustments to
the reapportionment herein made.

Section 3 : Any province that may hereafter be createdThe number of Members


apportioned to the province out of which such new province was created or where the city,
whose population has so increases, is geographically located shall be correspondingly
adjusted by the Commission on Elections but such adjustment shall not be made within one
hundred and twenty days before the election.
Minor adjustments does not involve change in the allocations per district. Examples include
error in the correct name of a particular municipality or when a municipality in between
which is still in the territory of one assigned district is forgotten. And consistent with the
limits of its power to make minor adjustments, section 3 of the Ordinance did not also give
the respondent COMELEC any authority to transfer municipalities from one legislative
district to another district. The power granted by section 3 to the respondent is to adjust
the number of members (not municipalities.)
Notes:
Petitioner also prayed for the transfer of the municipality of Tolosa from the 1st district to
the 2nd district. It is likewise denied.

G.R. No. 118702

16 March 1995

Fifth District

Ponente: Puno, J.

309, 148

181, 242

ISSUES:

FACTS:

Whether COMELEC has the jurisdiction to promulgate Resolution No. 2736

Petitioner Cirilo Montejo, representing the First District of Leyte, pleads the annulment
of Section 1 of Resolution No. 2736 of the COMELEC, redistricting certain municipalities

HELD/RULING:

in Leyte as it is said to violate the principle of equity of representation. Petitioner now


seeks to transfer the municipality of Tolosa from the First District to the Second District

The basic powers of COMELEC are spelled out in Section 2(c), Article IX of the

of the province.

Constitution, which states:

For an overview of the distribution in the province, see the below table for the

Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections is hereby empowered to make minor

population distribution, census 1990 and 1994:

adjustments of the reapportionment herein made.


The meaning of minor adjustments is found in the debates of the Commission wherein
it was stated that the transfer of one municipality in a district to another district is not

Census 1990

Census 1994

a minor adjustment; rather it is a substantive one. Minor adjustments does not allow

First District

303, 349

178, 688

the change in allocations per district.

Second District

272, 167

156, 462

Third District

214, 499

125, 763

Fourth District

269, 347

155, 995

It is then held that COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction when it promulgated Section 1 of its Resolution No. 2736. Section 1 is then
annulled and set aside. The petition praying for the transfer of the municipality of
Tolosa from the First District to the Second District of the province of Leyte is denied.