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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 104848 January 29, 1993


ANTONIO GALLARDO, ANTONIO AREVALO, CRESENCIO ECHAVES,
EMMANUEL ARANAS, PALERMO SIA, RONNIE RAMBUYON, PRIMO NAVARRO,
and NOEL NAVARRO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. SINFOROSO V. TABAMO, JR., in his capacity as Presiding Judge of
Branch 28 of the Regional Trial Court of Mambajao, Camiguin, and PEDRO P.
ROMUALDO, respondents.
Villarama & Cruz for petitioners.
Marciano LL. Aparte, Jr. for private respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of
Court. Petitioners would have Us prohibit, restrain and enjoin public respondent
Sinforoso V. Tabamo, Jr., Presiding Judge of Branch 28 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Mambajao, Camiguin, 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 taxpayer's suit, docketed therein as Special Civil Action
No. 465 and entitled "Pedro P. Romualdo, Jr. versus Gov. Antonio Gallardo, et al."
Petitioners likewise seek to prohibit the enforcement of the Temporary Restraining
Order (TRO), issued by the respondent Judge on 10 April 1992, on the ground that the

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latter acted whimsically, capriciously and without jurisdiction when he took cognizance
of the case and issued the said order. It is the petitioners' thesis that the said case
principally involves an alleged violation of the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code
the jurisdiction over which is exclusively vested in the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC). It is additionally averred that the action is completely baseless, that the
private respondent is not a real party in interest and that the public respondent acted
with undue haste, manifest partiality and evident bias in favor of the private
respondent in issuing the TRO.
In Our Resolution of 20 April 1992, We required the respondents to comment on the
petition and issued a Temporary Restraining Order directing the respondent Judge to
cease and desist from implementing and enforcing the challenged Order of 10 April
1922, and from continuing with the proceedings in Special Civil Action No. 465.
At the time of the filing of 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 11 May 1992 synchronized elections. Petitioners Antonio
Arevalo, Cresencio Echaves, Emmanuel Aranas and Palermo Sia are the provincial
treasurer, provincial auditor, provincial engineer and provincial budget officer of
Camiguin, respectively. Their co-petitioners Ronnie Rambuyon, Primo Navarro 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.
The antecedents of this case are not complicated.
On 10 April 1992, private respondent filed his Petition 1 (Special Civil Action No. 465)
before the court a quo against petitioners Gallardo, Arevalo, Echaves, Aranas and Sia to
prohibit and restrain them from pursuing or prosecuting certain public works projects; from
releasing, disbursing and/or spending any public funds for such projects; and from issuing,
using or availing of treasury warrants or any device for the future delivery of money, goods
and other things of value chargeable against public funds in connection with the said
projects as (1) said projects were undertaken in violation of the 45-day ban on public works
imposed by the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881) because although
they were initiated a few days before 27 March 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; hence, they could
not have been lawfully and validly undertaken; (2) the hiring of hundreds of laborers in the
different projects continues unabated in flagrant violation of paragraphs (a), (b), (v) and
(w), Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code; (3) the projects were undertaken in
violation of the provisions of the Local Government Code 2 governing the use and
expenditure of the twenty percent (20%) development fund of the Province of Camiguin;
(4) these projects, which are "Locally-Funded", were pursued without the requisite
approval of the provincial budget by the Regional Office of Budget and Management as
required by Section 326 of the Local Government Code; (5) some of the projects which are
"Foreign-Assisted" and funded by the Spanish Assistance for Integrated Livelihood
Program (SAIL) lack the required building permits and are without any relevance to those
livelihood projects envisioned by the SAIL; and (6) more importantly, as alleged in
paragraph VII of his Petition: 3

. . . the illegal prosecution of these public work projects requiring


massive outlay of public funds during this election period has been and
is being done maliciously and intentionally for the purpose of corrupting
the voters and inducing them to support the candidacy of Respondent
Gallardo and his candidates in the coming May 11, 1992 election.
In support of his prayer for a restraining order to be issued upon the filing of the
petition and a writ of preliminary injunction immediately thereafter, herein private
respondent alleges in paragraph XV of his Petition:
That unless the illegal acts of Respondents are enjoined or restrained
immediately first by the issuance of the restraining order upon the filing
of this Petition and immediately after that a Writ of Preliminary
Injunction, great or irreparable loss and injury shall be caused not only
to Petitioner himself, as a candidate and as a taxpayer, but also to the
entire LDP slate of candidates, whose supporters are being corrupted
and illegally induced to vote for Respondent Antonio A. Gallardo and
his candidates in consideration of their employment in these projects,
but (sic) most of all the greatest and most irreparable loss, damage
and injury, in terms of wanton, irresponsible, excessive, abusive and
flagrant waste of public money, is now being caused and shall continue

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to be caused, primarily and principally to the sixty-thousand or more


taxpayers of the Province of Camiguin, whom Petitioner represents as
Congressman and whose interests Petitioner is sworn to uphold,
promote and protect. 4
The questioned projects are classified into two (2) categories: (a ) those that
are Locally-Funded, consisting of twenty-nine (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 the
Human Resource 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. 5
On the same day that the private respondent filed his petition, public respondent
Judge issued the questioned TRO, 6 the pertinent portion of which reads:
It appearing from the verified petition in this case that great and
irreparable damage and/or injuryshall be caused to the petitioner as
candidate and taxpayer, such damage and injury taking the form and
shape occasioned by the alleged wanton, excessive, abusive and
flagrant waste of public money, before the matter can be heard on
notice, the respondents are hereby Temporarily Restrained from
pursuing or prosecuting the projects itemized in Annexes "A" and "A-1"
of the petition; from releasing, disbursing and/or spending any public
funds for such projects; from issuing, using or availing of treasury
warrants or any device undertaking future delivery of money, goods or
other things of value chargeable against public funds in connection
with said projects. (Emphasis supplied).
In the same order, the public respondent directed the petitioners to file their Answer
within ten (10) days from receipt of notice and set the hearing on the application for
the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction for 24 April 1992. Instead of filing the
Answer, the petitioners filed the instant special civil action for certiorari and prohibition,

with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order,
alleging as grounds therefor the following:
I
PUBLIC RESPONDENT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER SPECIAL
CIVIL ACTION NO. 465, BEING (sic) A SUIT INTENDED TO ENJOIN
AN ALLEGED VIOLATION OF THE OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE.

A. THE PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS BEING


UNDERTAKEN BY PETITIONERS ARE EXEMPTED
FROM THE PUBLIC WORKS BAN ENFORCED BY
THE COMELEC.
B. THE PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS WERE
COMMENCED ONLY AFTER APPROVAL OF THE
DETAILED ENGINEERING PLANS AND
SPECIFICATIONS AND PROGRAM OF WORK.

II
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT'S JURISDICTION IS LIMITED TO
CRIMINAL ACTIONS FOR VIOLATION OF THE OMNIBUS
ELECTION CODE.
III
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION TO TAKE
COGNIZANCE OF COMPLAINTS/PETITION BASED ON ELECTION
OFFENSES PRIOR TO THE CONDUCT OF PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION BY THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS;
FURTHER, PRIVATE RESPONDENT HAS NO RIGHT TO FILE
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION NO. 465 SINCE THE AUTHORITY TO
PROSECUTE ELECTION OFFENSES BELONGS TO THE
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS.
IV
PRIVATE RESPONDENT FAILED TO EXHAUST ALL HIS
ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES
V
THE PETITION DATED 09 APRIL 1992 FILED WITH PUBLIC
RESPONDENT IS COMPLETELY BASELESS SINCE:

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C. THE PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS WERE


PROPERLY SUPPORTED BY A BUDGET DULY
PASSED AND APPROVED BY THE SANGGUNIANG
PANLALAWIGAN.
D. THE DEVELOPMENT FUND MAY VALIDLY BE
USED TO FINANCE THE MAINTENANCE OF
PROVINCIAL ROADS.
VI
THE TAXPAYER'S SUIT FILED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS
IMPROPER SINCE HE IS NOT A REAL PARTY IN INTEREST.
VII
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT ACTED WITH UNDUE HASTE,
MANIFEST PARTIALITY AND EVIDENT BIAS IN FAVOR OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENT AND AGAINST PETITIONERS IN ISSUING THE
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER. 7
As adverted to earlier, We issued a Temporary Restraining Order on 20 April 1992.

After considering the allegations, issues and arguments adduced in the Petition, the
Comment thereto and the Reply to the Comment, We gave due course 8 to this Petition
and required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda which they complied with.
The main issue in this case is whether or not the trial court has jurisdiction over the
subject matter of Special Civil Action No. 465. 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

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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.
Private respondent likewise focuses on Resolution No. 2332 (not 2322 as erroneously
stated in page 10 of his Petition) of the COMELEC, promulgated on 2 January 1992,
implementing the aforesaid paragraphs (v) and (w) of Section 261 and fixing the
duration of the 45-day ban for purposes of the synchronized elections from 27 March
1992 to 11 May 1922.
Essentially, therefore, Civil Case No. 465 before the trial court is for the enforcement
of laws involving the conduct of elections; corollarily, the issue that is logically
provoked is whether or not the trial court has jurisdiction over the same. If the
respondent Judge had only hearkened to this Court's teaching about a quarter of a
century earlier, this case would not have reached Us and taken away from more
deserving cases so much precious time.
Zaldivar vs. Estenzo, 9 decided by this Court on 3 May 1968, had squarely resolved the
issue above posed. Speaking through then Associate Justice Enrique Fernando (who later
became Chief Justice), this Court explicitly ruled that considering that the Commission on
Elections is vested by the Constitution with exclusive charge of the enforcement and
administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections, the assumption of jurisdiction
by the trial court over a case involving the enforcement of the Election Code "is at war with
the plain constitutional command, the implementing statutory provisions, and the
hospitable scope afforded such grant of authority so clear and unmistakable in recent
decisions." 10
Said case was decided under the aegis of the 1935 Constitution and R.A. No. 180,
otherwise known as the Revised Election Code, which took effect on 21 June 1947.
The present Constitution and extant election laws have further strengthened the
foundation for the above doctrine; there can be no doubt that the present COMELEC
has broader powers than its predecessors. While under the 1935 Constitution it had

"exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the
conduct of elections," exercised "all other functions . . . conferred upon it by law" 11 and
had the power to deputize all law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the
Government for the purpose of insuring free, orderly and honest elections, 12 and under the
1973 Constitution it had, inter alia, the power (a) "[E]nforce and administer all laws relative
to the conduct of elections" 13 (b) "[D]eputize, with the consent or at the instance of the
Prime Minister, law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government,
including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly,
and honest elections,"14 and (c) "[P]erform such other functions as may be provided by
law," 15 it was not expressly vested with the power to promulgate regulations relative to the
conduct of an election. That power could only originate from a special law enacted by
Congress; this is the necessary implication of the above constitutional provision authorizing
the Commission to "[P]erform such other functions as may be provided by law."
The present Constitution, however, implicitly grants the Commission the power to
promulgate such rules and regulations. The pertinent portion of Section 2 of Article IXC thereof reads as follows:
Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following
powers and functions:
(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the
conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.
(Emphasis supplied).
xxx xxx xxx
The word regulations is not found in either the 1935 or 1973 Constitutions. It is thus
clear that its incorporation into the present Constitution took into account the
Commission's power under the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881),
which was already in force when the said Constitution was drafted and ratified, to:
xxx xxx xxx

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Promulgate rules and regulations implementing the provisions of this


Code or other laws which the Commission is required to enforce and
administer, . . . . 16
Hence, the present Constitution upgraded to a constitutional status the
aforesaid statutory authority to grant the Commission broader and more
flexible powers to effectively perform its duties and to insulate it further from
legislative intrusions. Doubtless, if its rule-making power is made to depend on
statutes, Congress may withdraw the same at any time. Indeed, the present
Constitution envisions a truly independent Commission on Elections
committed to ensure free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible
elections, 17 and to serve as the guardian of the people's sacred right of suffrage
the citizenry's vital weapon in effecting a peaceful change of government and in
achieving and promoting political stability.
Additionally, by statutory mandate, the present Commission on Elections possesses,
inter alia, the following powers:
l) Exercise direct and immediate supervision and control over national
and local officials or employees, including members of any national or
local law enforcement agency and instrumentality of the government
required by law to perform duties relative to the conduct of elections. In
addition, it may authorize CMT cadets eighteen years of age and
above to act as its deputies for the purpose of enforcing its orders.
The Commission may relieve any officer or employee referred to in the
preceding paragraph from the performance of his duties relating to
electoral processes who violates the election law or fails to comply with
its instructions, orders, decisions or rulings, and appoint his substitute.
Upon recommendation of the Commission, the corresponding proper
authority shall suspend or remove from office any or all of such officers
or employees who may, after due process, be found guilty of such
violation or failure. 18

2) To stop any illegal election activity, or confiscate, tear down, and stop
any unlawful, libelous, misleading or false election propaganda, after due
notice and hearing. 19

Needless to say, the acts sought to be restrained in Special Civil Action No. 465 before
the court a quo are matters falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commission.
As a matter of fact, the specific allegations in the petition therein of violations of
paragraphs (a), (b), (v) and (w), Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code provide a
stronger basis and reason for the application of the Zaldivar doctrine. At most, the
facts in the latter case do not illustrate as clearly the announced doctrine as the facts
in this case do. In Zaldivar, no specific provision of the Revised Election Code then in
force was alleged to have been violated. What was sought to be enjoined was the
alleged wielding by Zaldivar, then a municipal mayor, of the power, by virtue of his
office, to appoint special policemen or agents to terrorize voters into supporting the
congressional candidate of his choice. In holding that the then Court of First Instance
did not have jurisdiction over the case, this Court considered the constitutional power
of the Commission on Elections to have exclusive charge of the enforcement and
administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections and to exercise all other
functions which may be conferred by law. We likewise relied on the provisions of the
Revised Election Code vesting upon the COMELEC (a) direct and immediate
supervision over municipal, city and provincial officials designated by law to perform
duties relative to the conduct of elections and (b) authority to suspend them from the
performance of such duties for failure to comply with its instructions, orders, decisions
or rulings and recommend to the President their removal if found guilty of nonfeasance, malfeasance or misfeasance in connection with the performance of their
duties relative to the conduct of elections. 20
Under the present law, however, except in case of urgent need, the appointment or
hiring of new employees or the creation or filling up of new positions in any
government office, agency or instrumentality, whether national or local, including
government-owned or controlled corporations, is banned during the period of forty-five
(45) days before a regular election and thirty (30) days before a special election if
made without the prior authority of the Commission on Elections. A violation thereof
constitutes an election offense. 21 Then too, no less than the present Constitution and
not just the Election Law as was the case at the time of Zaldivar expressly provides that
the Commission may "[R]ecommend to the President the removal of any officer or

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employee it has deputized, or the imposition of any other disciplinary action, for violation or
disregard of, or disobedience to its directive, order, or decision." 22

Moreover, the present Constitution also invests the Commission with the power to
"investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws,
including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices." 23
It may thus be said without fear of contradiction that this vast array of powers and
functions now enjoyed by the Commission under the present Constitution provides a
stronger foundation for, and adds vigor and vitality to, theZaldivar doctrine.
The rationale of the said doctrine needs to be stressed here so that henceforth, no
judge will lose his bearings when confronted with the same issue. Otherwise, he
should be held to account for either the sheer ignorance of the law or the callous
disregard of pronouncements by this Court to accommodate partisan political feelings.
We declared in the said case:
The question may be asked: Why should not the judiciary be a
co-participant in this particular instance of enforcing the Election Code
as its authority was invoked? The obvious answer is the literal
language of the Constitution which empowers the Commission on
Elections to "have exclusive charge of the enforcement and
administration of all laws relative to the conduct of the elections."
Moreover, as was so aptly observed by the then Justice Frankfurter,
although the situation confronting the United States Supreme Court
was of a different character: "Nothing is clearer than that this
controversy concerns matters that brings courts into immediate and
active relations with party contests. From the determination of such
issues this Court has traditionally held aloof. It is hostile to a
democratic system to involve the judiciary in the politics of the people.
And it is not less pernicious if such judicial intervention in an essentially
political contest be dressed up in the abstract phrases of the
law." 24 Then, too, reference by analogy may be made to the principle that
sustains Albano v. Arranz. For even without the express constitutional
prescription that only this Court may review the decisions, orders and

rulings of the Commission on Elections, it is easy to understand why no


inference whatsoever with the performance of the Commission on
Elections of its functions should be allowed unless emanating from this
Court. The observation of Acting Chief Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Albano v.
Arranz,25 while not precisely in point, indicates the proper approach. Thus:
"It is easy to realize the chaos that would ensue if the Court of First
Instance of each and every province were to arrogate unto itself the power
to disregard, suspend, or contradict any order of the Commission on
Elections; that constitutional body would be speedily reduced to
impotence."

This conclusion finds' support from a consideration of weight and


influence. What happened in this case could be repeated elsewhere. It
is not improbable that courts of first instance would be resorted to by
leaders of candidates or political factions entertaining the belief
whether rightly or wrongly that local officials would employ all the
power at their command to assure the victory of their candidates. Even
if greater care and circumspection, than did exist in this case, would be
employed by judges thus appealed to, it is not unlikely that the shadow
of suspicion as to alleged partisanship would fall on their actuations,
whichever way the matter before them is decided. It is imperative that
the faith in the impartiality of the judiciary be preserved unimpaired.
Whenever, therefore, the fear may be plausibly entertained that an
assumption of jurisdiction would lead to a lessening of the
undiminished trust that should be reposed in the courts and the
absence of authority discernible the from the wording of applicable
statutory provisions and the trend of judicial decisions, even if no
constitutional mandate as that present in this case could be relied
upon, there should be no hesitancy in declining to act. 26
The foregoing disquisitions should have rendered unnecessary the resolution of the
remaining collateral issues raised in this petition. In view, however, of their importance,
they will be dealt with in a general way.
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

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Omnibus Election Code. The Constitution itself grants to it exclusive original


jurisdiction over contests involving elective municipal officials. 27 Neither can We agree
with the petitioners' assertion that the Special Civil Action filed in the court below involves
the prosecution of election offenses; the said action seeks some reliefs incident to or in
connection with 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 donemotu propio by the Commission on Elections or upon written
complaint by any citizen, candidate or registered political party or organization under
the party-list system or any of the accredited citizens arms of the
Commission. 28 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." 29 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.
We have, therefore, no alternative but to grant this petition on the basis Our 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, We are not to be understood as approving of the acts complained of by the
private respondent. If his charges for the violation of paragraphs (a), (b), (v) and (w),
Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code are true, then no one should be spared
from the full force of the law. No government official should flout laws designed to
ensure the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections or make a
mockery of our electoral processes. The bitter lessons of the past have shown that
only elections of that nature or character can guarantee a peaceful and orderly
change. It is then his duty to respect, preserve and enhance an institution which is vital
in any democratic society.

WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED. The challenged order of


respondent Judge of 10 April 1992 in Special Civil Action No. 465 is SET ASIDE and
said Civil Case is hereby ordered DISMISSED, without prejudice on the part of the
private respondent to file, if he is so minded, the appropriate complaint for an election
offense pursuant to the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.
Costs against the private respondent.
SO ORDERED.
Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo
and Campos, Jr., JJ., concur.

plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall. (Emphasis


supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
With all due respect, I submit that what the COMELEC is authorized to do under that
provision is only to "enforce and administer" such laws and regulations, not to
promulgate them. The addition of the word "regulations" in the new subsection does
not empower it now to promulgate regulations any more than it can promulgate laws.
As I read it, all that the change imports is that the scope of the measures the
COMELEC may enforce and administer has been expressly widened, to include
"regulations."
Regulations are mainly intended to implement or supplement a law and may be
generally issued only pursuant to a valid delegation of legislative power. That is why
they are known as "subordinate legislation." In the case of the COMELEC, I see no
constitutional vesture in it of the power to promulgate regulations, much less laws.
There does not seem to be even an "implicit" grant of that authority, as
the ponencia suggests.

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J., concurring and dissenting:


I concur but, regretfully, not with the statement that the Commission on Elections now
derives the power to promulgate resolutions directly from Article IX-C, Section 2(l) of
the Constitution, to wit:
Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following
powers and functions:
(1) Enforce and administer all laws and
regulations relative to the conduct of an election,

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Narvasa, C.J., and Gutierrez, Jr., J., concur.

# Separate Opinions
CRUZ, J., concurring and dissenting:
I concur but, regretfully, not with the statement that the Commission on Elections now
derives the power to promulgate resolutions directly from Article IX-C, Section 2(l) of
the Constitution, to wit:
Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following
powers and functions:

(1) Enforce and administer all laws and


regulations relative to the conduct of an election,
plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall. (Emphasis
supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
With all due respect, I submit that what the COMELEC is authorized to do under that
provision is only to "enforce and administer" such laws and regulations, not to
promulgate them. The addition of the word "regulations" in the new subsection does
not empower it now to promulgate regulations any more than it can promulgate laws.
As I read it, all that the change imports is that the scope of the measures the
COMELEC may enforce and administer has been expressly widened, to include
"regulations."
Regulations are mainly intended to implement or supplement a law and may be
generally issued only pursuant to a valid delegation of legislative power. That is why
they are known as "subordinate legislation." In the case of the COMELEC, I see no
constitutional vesture in it of the power to promulgate regulations, much less laws.
There does not seem to be even an "implicit" grant of that authority, as
the ponencia suggests.
Narvasa, C. J., and Gutierrez, Jr., J., concur.

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Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

a) 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, for should Section
5 of Republic Act No. 180, vesting the Commission with "power to punish
contempts provided for in Rule of the Court under the same procedure and
with the same penalties provided therein," be applied to the case at hand, said
provision would be unconstitutional.

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-12596

July 31, 1958

JOSE L. GUEVARA, petitioner,


vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

b) Assuming that the Commission's power to punish contempt exists, the same
cannot be applied to the instant case, where the Commission is exercising a
purely administrative function for purchasing ballot boxes.

Enrique M. Fernando for petitioner.


Dominador D. Dayot for respondent.

c) Assuming that the Commission's power to punish contempt exists, said


power cannot apply to the present case because the matter of purchasing the
ballot boxes was already a closed case when the article in question was
published.

BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:


Petitioner was ordered by the Commissioner on Elections to show cause why he
should not be punished for contempt for having published in the Sunday Times issue
of June 2, 1957 an article entitled "Ballot Boxes Contract Hit", which tended to
interfere with and influence the Commission on Elections and its members in the
adjudication of a controversy then pending investigation and determination before said
body "arising from the third petition for reconsideration of May 20, 1957 and the
supplementary petition thereof of June 1, 1957 filed by Acme Steel Mfg. Co., Inc.,
praying for reconsideration of the resolutions of the Commission of May 4 and 13,
1957, awarding the contracts for the manufacture and supply of 34,000 ballot boxes to
the National Shipyards & Steel Corporation and the Asiatic Steel Mfg. Co., Inc. and the
respective answers of the latter two corporations to said petitions; and which article
likewise tended to degrade, bring into disrepute, and undermine the exclusive
constitutional function of this Commission and its Chairman Domingo Imperial and
Member Sixto Brillantes in the administration of all the laws relative to the conduct of
elections."
Petitioner, answering summons issued to him by the Commission, appeared and filed
a motion to quash on the following grounds:

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d) Assuming that controversy contemplated by the law was still pending, the
article in question was a fair report because it could be assumed that the news
report of the respondent was based on the motion for reconsideration filed by
the Acme Steel where there was an allegation of fraud, etc.
The Commission, after hearing, denied the motion to quash but granted petitioner a
period of fifteen (15) days within which to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court in
view of the issue raised which assails the jurisdiction of the Commission to investigate
and punish petitioner for contempt in connection with the alleged publication. Hence
the present petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction.
The facts which gave rise to the present contemptuous incident are: The Commission
on Elections, on May 4, 1957, after proper negotiations, awarded to the National
Shipyards & Steel Corporation (NASSCO), the Acme Steel Mfg. Co., Inc. (ACME), and
the Asiatic Steel Mfg. Co., Inc. (ASIATIC), the contracts to manufacture and supply the
Commission 12,000, 11,000 and 11,000 ballot boxes at P17.64, P14.00, and P17.00
each, respectively. On May 8, 1957, both the NASSCO and the ASIATIC signed with
the Commission on Elections the corresponding contracts thereon. On May 13, 1957,

the Commission cancelled the award to the ACME for failure of the latter to sign the
contract within the designated time and awarded to the NASSCO and the ASIATIC,
one-half each, the 11,000 ballot boxes originally alloted to the ACME. The
corresponding contracts thereon were signed on May 16, 1957.
Then followed a series of petitions filed by the ACME for the reconsideration of the
resolution of the Commission of May 13, 1957. The first of these petitions was filed on
May 14, 1957 which, after hearing, was denied by the Commission in its resolution of
May 16, 1957. The second petition was filed on May 16, 1957 and was denied on May
17, 1957. The third petition was filed on May 20, 1957, and because of the
seriousness of the grounds alleged therein for the annulment of its previous
resolutions, the Commission resolved to conduct a formal investigation on the matter
ordering the NASSCO and the ASIATIC to file their respective answers. Thereafter,
after these corporations had filed their answers, the Commission held a formal hearing
thereon on May 24, 1957. On May 28, 1957, the ACME filed a memorandum on the
points adduced during the hearing, and on June 4, 1957, the Commission issued its
resolution denying the third motion for reconsideration. The article signed by petitioner
was published in the June 2, 1957 issue of the Sunday Times, a newspaper of nationwide circulation.
The question to be determined is whether the Commission on Elections has the power
and jurisdiction to conduct contempt proceedings against petitioner with a view to
imposing upon him the necessary disciplinary penalty in connection with the
publication of an article in the Sunday Times issue of June 2, 1957 which, according to
the charge, tended to interfere with and influence said Commission in the adjudication
of a controversy then pending determination and to degrade and undermine the
function of the Commission and its members in the administration of all laws relative to
the conduct of elections.
The Commission on Elections is an independent administrative body which was
established by our Constitution to take charge of the enforcement of all laws relative to
the conduct of elections and devise means and methods that will insure the
accomplishment of free, orderly, and honest elections (Sumulong vs. Commission on
Elections, 73 Phil., 288; Nacionalista Party vs. The Solicitor General, 85 Phil., 101; 47
Off. Gaz. 2356). Its powers are defined in the Constitution. It provides that it "shall

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have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the
conduct of elections and shall exercise all other functions which may be conferred
upon it by law. It shall decide, save those involving the right to vote, all administrative
questions, affecting elections, including the determination of the number and location
of polling places, and the appointment of election inspectors and of other election
officials" (Section 2, Article X). The Revised Election Code supplements what other
powers may be exercised by said Commission. Among these powers are those
embodied in Section 5 thereof which, for ready reference, we quote:
SEC. 5. Powers of Commission. The Commission on Elections or any of the
members thereof shall have the power to summon the parties to a controversy
pending before it, issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum and
otherwise take testimony in any investigation or hearing pending before it, and
delegate such power to any officer. Any controversy submitted to the
Commission on Elections shall be tried, heard and decided by it within fifteen
days counted from the time the corresponding petition giving rise to said
controversy is filed. The Commission or any of the members thereof shall have
the power to punish contempts provided for in rule sixty-four of the Rules of
Court, under the same procedure and with the same penalties provided
therein.
Any violation of any final and executory decision, order or ruling of the
Commission shall constitute contempt of the Commission.
Any decision, order or ruling of the Commission on Elections may be reviewed
by the Supreme Court by writ of certiorari accordance with the Rules of Court
or with such rules as may be promulgated by the Supreme Court.
It would therefore appear that the Commission on Elections not only has the duty to
enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of elections but the power to try,
hear and decide any controversy that may be submitted to it in connection with the
elections. And as an incident of this power, it may also punish for contempt in those
cases provided for in Rule 64 of the Rules of Court under the same procedure and
with the same penalties provided therein. In this sense, the Commission, although it
cannot be classified as a court of justice within the meaning of the Constitution

(Section 13, Article VIII), for it is merely an independent administrative body (The
Nacionalista Party vs. Vera, 85 Phil., 126; 47 Off. Gaz. 2375), may however exercise
quasi-judicial functions in so far as controversies that by express provision of the law
come under its jurisdiction. As to what question may come within this category, neither
the Constitution nor the Revised Election Code specifies. The former merely provides
that it shall come under its jurisdiction, saving the right to vote, all administrative
questions affecting elections, including the determination of the number and location
of polling places, and the appointment of election inspectors and other election
officials, while the latter is silent as to what questions may be brought it for
determination. But it is clear that, to come under its jurisdiction, the questions should
be controversial in nature and must refer to the enforcement and administration of all
laws relative to the conduct of election. The difficulty lies in drawing the demarcation
line between a duty which inherently is administrative in character and a function
which is justiciable and which would therefore call for judicial action by the
Commission. But this much depends upon the factors that may intervene when a
controversy should arise.
Thus, it has been held that the Commission has no power to annul an election which
might not have been free, orderly and honest for such matter devolves upon other
agencies of the Government (Nacionalista Party vs. Commission on Elections, 85
Phil., 148; 47 Off. Gaz. 2851); neither does it have the power to decide the validity or
invalidity of votes cast in an election for such devolves upon the courts or the electoral
tribunals (Ibid.); it does not also have the power to order a recounting of the votes
before the proclamation of election even if there are discrepancies in the election
returns for it is a function of our courts of justice (Ramos vs. Commission on Elections,
80 Phil., 722); nor does it have the power to order the correction of a certificate of
canvass after a candidate had been proclaimed and assumed office (De Leon vs.
Imperial, 94 Phil., 680); and only very recently this Court has held that the Commission
has no power to reject a certificate of candidacy except only when its purpose is to
create confusion in the minds of the electors (Abcede vs. Imperial, 103 Phil., 136).
On the other hand, it has been held that the Commission has the power to annul an
illegal registry list of voters (Feliciano, et al. vs. Lugay, et al., 93 Phil., 744; 49 Off. Gaz.
3863); to annul an election canvass made by a municipal board of canvassers
(Mintu vs. Enage, et al., G. R. No. L-1834); and to investigate and act on the illegality

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of a canvass of election made by a municipal board of canvassers (Ramos vs.


Commission on Elections, 80 Phil., 722). And as to what are the ministerial duties
which the Commission on Elections must perform in connection with the conduct of
elections, the following resume made by the Commission itself in a controversy which
was submitted to it for determination is very enlightening:
In the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of
elections, the first duty of the Commission is to set in motion all the
multifarious preparatory processes ranging from the purchase of election
supplies, printing of election forms and ballots, appointments of members of
the boards of inspectors, establishment of precincts and designation of polling
places to the preparation of the registry lists of voters, so as to put in readiness
on election day the election machinery in order that the people who are legally
qualified to exercise the right of suffrage may be able to cast their votes to
express their sovereign will. It is incumbent upon the Commission to see that
all these preparatory acts will insure free, orderly and honest elections. All
provisions of the Revised Election Code contain regulations relative to these
processes preparatory for election day. It is incumbent upon the Commission
on Elections to see that all these preparatory acts are carried out freely,
honestly and in an orderly manner. It is essential that the Commission or its
authorized representatives, in establishing precincts or designating polling
places, must act freely, honestly and in an orderly manner. It is also essential
that the printing of election forms and the purchase of election supplies and
their distribution are done freely, honestly and in an orderly manner. It is further
essential that the political parties or their duly authorized representatives who
are entitled to be represented in the boards of inspectors must have the
freedom to choose the person who will represent them in each precinct
throughout the country. It is further essential that once organized, the boards of
inspectors shall be given all the opportunity to be able to perform their duties in
accordance with law freely, honestly and in an orderly manner, individually and
as a whole. In other words, it is the duty of the Commission to see that the
boards of inspectors, in all their sessions, are placed in an atmosphere
whereby they can fulfill their duties without any pressure, influence and
interference from any private person or public official. All these preparatory
steps are administrative in nature and all questions arising therefrom are within

the exclusive powers of the Commission to resolve. All irregularities,


anomalies and misconduct committed by any official in these preparatory steps
are within the exclusive power of the Commission to correct. Any erring official
must respond to the Commission for investigation. Of these preparatory acts,
the preparation of the permanent list of voters is the matter involved in this
case, which to our mind is completely an administrative matter. (Decision of
the Commission on Elections, October 28, 1951, In Re Petition of Angel
Genuino vs. Prudente, et al., Case No. 196)1
Considering that the paramount administrative duty of the Commission is to set in
motion all the multifarious preparatory processes ranging from the purchase of
election supplies, printing of election forms and ballots, appoinments of members of
the board of inspectors, appointment of precincts and designation of polling
preparation of registry lists of voters, so as to as to put in readiness on election day
the election machinery, it may also be reasonably said that the requisitioning and
preparation of the necessary ballot boxes to be used in the elections is by the same
token an imperative ministerial duty which the Commission is bound to perform if the
elections are to be held. Such is the incident which gave rise to the contempt case
before us. It stems from the ministerial act of the Commission in requisitioning for the
necessary ballot boxes in connection with the last elections and in so proceeding it
provoked a dispute between several dealers who offered to do the job.
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. 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" (Slade Perkins vs. Director
of Prisons, 58 Phil., 271; U. S. vs. Loo Hoe, 36 Phil., 867; In Re Sotto, 46 Off. Gaz.
2570; In Re Kelly, 35 Phil., 944). The exercise of this power has always been regarded
as a necessary incident and attribute of courts (Slade Perkins vs. Director of

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Prisons, Ibid.). Its exercise by administrative bodies has been invariably limited to
making effective the power to elicit testimony (People vs. Swena, 296 P., 271). And the
exercise of that power by an administrative body in furtherance of its administrative
function has been held invalid (Langenberg vs. Decker, 31 N.E. 190; In Re Sims 37 P.,
135; Roberts vs. Hacney, 58 S.W., 810). 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.
Wherefore, petition is granted. Respondent Commission is hereby enjoined from
proceeding with the case set forth in its resolution of June 20, 1957, with
pronouncement as to costs.
The preliminary injunction issued by this Court is made permanent.
Paras, C. J., Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Reyes, J. B. L., Endencia and Felix,
JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

The second district 3 is composed of the municipalities of Barugo, Barauen, Capoocan,


Carigara, Dagami, Dulag, Jaro, Julita, La Pat, Mayorga, MacArthur, Pastrana, Tabontabon,
and Tunga.
The third district 4 is composed of the municipalities of Almeria, Biliran, Cabucgayan,
Caibiran, Calubian, Culaba, Kawayan, Leyte, Maripipi, Naval, San Isidro, Tabango, and
Villaba.

EN BANC

G.R. No. 118702 March 16, 1995

The fourth district 5 is composed of Ormoc City and the municipalities of Albuera, Isabel,
Kananga, Matagob, Merida, and Palompon.

CIRILO ROY G. MONTEJO, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

The fifth district 6 is composed of the municipalities of Abuyog, Bate, Baybay, Hilongos,
Hindang, Inopacan, Javier, Mahaplag, and Matalom.

SERGIO A.F. APOSTOL, intervenor.

Biliran, located in the third district of Leyte , was made its sub-province by virtue of
Republic Act No. 2141 Section 1 of the law spelled out enacted on April 8, 1959. 7
Section 1 of the law spelled out the municipalities comprising the sub-province, viz.:
"Almeria, Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Culaba, Kawayan, Maripipi and Naval and all
the territories comprised therein."

PUNO, J.:
More than political fortunes are at stake in the case at bench. Petitioner Cirilo Roy G.
Montejo, representing the First District of Leyte, pleads for the annulment of section 1
of Resolution No. 2736 of the COMELEC, redistricting certain municipalities in Leyte,
on the ground that it violates the principle of equality of representation. To remedy the
alleged inequity, petitioner seeks to transfer the municipality of Tolosa from his district
to the Second District of the province. Intervenor Sergio A.F. Apostol, representing the
Second District, vigorously opposed the inclusion ofTolosa in his district. We gave due
course to the petition considering that, at bottom, it involves the validity of the
unprecedented exercise by the COMELEC of the legislative power of redistricting and
reapportionment.
The province of Leyte with the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc is composed of five (5)
legislative districts. 1
The first district 2 covers Tacloban City and the municipalities of Alangalang, Babatngon,
Palo, San Miguel, Sta. Fe, Tanauan and Tolosa.

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On January 1, 1992, the Local Government Code took effect. Pursuant to its Section
462, the sub-province of Biliran became a regular province. It provides:
Existing sub-provinces are hereby converted into
regular provinces upon approval by a majority of the
votes cast in a plebiscite to be held in the subprovinces and the original provinces directly affected.
The plebiscite shall be conducted by the COMELEC
simultaneously with the national elections following the
effectivity of this code. The new legislative districts
created as a result of such conversion shall continue to
be represented in Congress by the duly-elected
representatives of the original districts out of which said
new provinces or districts were created until their own

representatives shall have been elected in the next


regular congressional elections and qualified.
The conversion of Biliran into a regular province was approved by a majority of the
votes cast in a plebiscite held on May 11, 1992. As a consequence of the conversion,
eight (8) municipalities of the Third District composed the new province of Biliran, i.e.,
Almeria, Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Culaba, Kawayan, Maripipi, and Naval. A
further consequence was to reduce the Third District to five (5) municipalities with a
total population of 145,067 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. On December 29, 1994, it promulgated Resolution No. 2736 where, among
others, it transferred the municipality of Capoocan of the Second District and the
municipality of Palompon of the Fourth District to the Third District of Leyte. The
composition of the First District which includes the municipality of Tolosaand the
composition of the Fifth District were not disturbed. After the movement of
municipalities, the composition of the five (5) legislative districts appeared as follows:
First District: Population Registered
Voters
(1990) (1994)

Second District: Population Registered


Voters
(1990) (1994)
1. Barugo, 23,817 13,237
2. Barauen, 46,029 23,307
3. Carigara 38,863 22,036
4. Dagami, 25,606 16,519
5. Dulag, 33,020 19,375
6. Jaro, 31,727 17,139
7. Julita, 9,944 6,196
8. La Paz, 14,311 9,003
9. Mayorga, 10,530 5,868
10. Mac Arthur, 13,159 8,628
11. Pastrana, 12,565 7,348
12. Tabontabon, and 7,183 4,419
13. Tunga; 5,413 3,387

TOTAL 272,167 156,462
Third District: Population Registered
Voters
(1990) (1994)
1. Calubian, 25,968 16,649
2. Leyte, 32,575 16,415
3. San Isidro, 24,442 14,916
4. Tabango, 29,743 15,48
5. Villaba, 32,339 21,227
6. Capoocan, and 23,687 13,595
7. Palompon; 45,745 27,474

TOTAL 214,499 125,763

1. Tacloban City, 137,190 81,679


2. Alangalang, 33,375 20,543
3. Babatngon, 17,795 9,929
4. Palo, 38,100 20,816
5. San Miguel, 13,438 8,167
6. Sta. Fe, 12,119 7,497
7. Tanauan and, 38,033 22,357
8. Tolosa; 13,299 7,700

TOTAL 303,349 178,688

Fourth District: Population Registered


Voters
(1990) (1994)

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1. Ormoc City, 129,456 75,140


2. Albuera, 32,395 17,493
3. Isabel, 33,389 21,889
4. Kananga, 36,288 19,873
5. Matagob, 15,474 9,407
6. Merida, and 22,345 12,474

TOTAL 269,347 155,995

In this petition, petitioner insists that Section I of Resolution No. 2736 violates the
principle of equality of representation ordained in the Constitution. Citing Wesberry
v. Sanders, 8 he argues that respondent COMELEC violated "the constitutional precept
that as much as practicable one man's vote in a congressional election is to be worth as
much as another's." The Solicitor General, in his Comment, concurred with the views of the
petitioner. The intervenor, however, opposed the petition on two (2) grounds: (1)
COMELEC has no jurisdiction to promulgate Resolution No. 2736; and (2) assuming it has
jurisdiction, said Resolution is in accord with the Constitution. Respondent COMELEC filed
its own Comment alleging that it acted within the parameters of the Constitution.

Fifth District: Population Registered


Voters
(1990) (1994)
1. Abuyog, 47,265 28,682
2. Bato, 28,197 116,13
3. Baybay, 82,281 47,923
4. Hilongos, 48,617 26,871
5. Hindang, 16,272 9,659
6. Inopacan, 16,894 10,401
7. Javier, 18,658 11,713
8. Mahaplag, and 22,673 13,616
9. Matalom 28,291 16,247

TOTAL 309,148 181,242
Petitioner Montejo filed a motion for reconsideration calling the attention of respondent
COMELEC, among others, to the inequitable distribution of inhabitants and voters
between the First and Second Districts. He alleged that the First District has 178,688
registered voters while the Second District has 156,462 registered voters or a
difference of 22,226 registered voters. To diminish the difference, he proposed that the
municipality of Tolosa with 7,7000 registered voters be transferred from the First to the
Second District. The motion was opposed by intervenor, Sergio A.F. Apostol.
Respondent Commission denied the motion ruling that: (1) its adjustment of
municipalities involved the least disruption of the territorial composition of each district;
and (2) said adjustment complied with the constitutional requirement that each
legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact and
adjacent territory.

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We find section 1 of Resolution No. 2736 void.


While the petition at bench presents a significant issue, our first inquiry will relate to
the constitutional power of the respondent COMELEC 9 to transfer municipalities from
one legislative district to another legislative district in the province of Leyte. The basic
powers of respondent COMELEC, as enforcer and administrator of our election laws, are
spelled out in black and white in section 2(c), Article IX of the Constitution. Rightly,
respondent COMELEC does not invoke this provision but relies 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. The Ordinance is entitled
"Apportioning the Seats of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the Philippines
to the Different Legislative Districts in Provinces and Cities and the Metropolitan Manila
Area." Its substantive sections state:
Sec. 1. For purposes of the election of Members of the House of
Representatives of the First Congress of the Philippines under the
Constitution proposed by the 1986 Constitutional Commission and
subsequent elections, and until otherwise provided by law, the
Members thereof shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned
among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila Area as
follows:
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections is hereby empowered to
make minor adjustments of the reapportionment herein made.

Sec. 3. Any province that may hereafter be created, or any city whose
population may hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty
thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at
least one Member or such number of Members as it may be entitled to
on the basis of the number of its inhabitants and according to the
standards set forth in paragraph (3), Section 5 of Article VI of the
Constitution. The number of Members apportioned to the province out
of which such new province was created or where the city, whose
population has so increased, 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. (Emphasis supplied)
The Ordinance was made necessary because Proclamation No. 3 10 of President
Corazon C. Aquino, ordaining the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of the
Philippines, abolished the Batasang Pambansa. 11 She then exercised legislative powers
under the Provisional Constitution. 12
The Ordinance was the principal handiwork of then Commissioner Hilario G. Davide,
Jr., 13 now a distinguished member of this Court. The records reveal that the Constitutional
Commission had to resolve several prejudicial issues before authorizing the first
congressional elections under the 1987 Constitution. Among the vital issues were: whether
the members of the House of Representatives would be elected by district or by
province; who shall undertake the apportionment of the legislative districts; and, how the
apportionment should be made. 14 Commissioner Davide, Jr. offered three (3) options for
the Commission to consider: (1) allow President Aquino to do the apportionment by law; (2)
empower the COMELEC to make the apportionment; or (3) let the Commission exercise
the power by way of an Ordinance appended to the Constitution. 15 The different
dimensions of the options were discussed by Commissioners Davide, Felicitas S. Aquino
and Blas F. Ople. We quote the debates in extenso, viz.: 16

SUSPENSION OF SESSION
MR. DAVIDE. The effect is, more or less, the same insofar as the
apportionment is concerned, but the Bernas-Sarmiento et al. proposal
would also provide for a mandate for the apportionment later, meaning
after the first election, which will in effect embody what the
Commission had approved, reading as follows: "Within three years
following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a
reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards
provided in this section."
So, Mr. Presiding Officer, may I request for a suspension of the
session, so that all the proponents can work together.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). The session is suspended.
It was 3:33 p.m.
RESUMPTION OF SESSION

xxx xxx xxx

At 3:40 p.m., the session was resumed.

MR. PADILLA. Mr. Presiding Officer.


THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Commissioner Padilla is
recognized.

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MR. PADILLA. I think I have filed a very simple motion by way of


amendment by substitution and this was, I believe, a prior or a
proposed amendment. Also, the chairman of the Committee on the
Legislative said that he was proposing a vote first by the Chamber on
the concept of whether the election is by province and cities on the one
hand, or by legislative districts on the other. So I propose this simple
formulation which reads: "FOR THE FIRST ELECTION UNDER THIS
CONSTITUTION THE LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS SHALL BE
APPORTIONED BY THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS." I hope the
chairman will accept the proposed amendment.

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THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). The session is resumed.


Commissioner Davide is recognized.

MR. DAVIDE. Mr. Presiding Officer, as a compromise, I wonder if the


Commission will allow this. We will just delete the proposed
subparagraph (4) and all the capitalized words in paragraph (5). So
that in paragraph (5), what would be left would only be the following:
"Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress
shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the
standards provided in this section."
But we shall have an ordinance appended to the new Constitution
indicating specifically the following: "FOR PURPOSES OF THE
ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
IN THE FIRST CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION IMMEDIATELY
FOLLOWING THE RATIFICATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION
PROPOSED BY THE 1986 CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION AND
SUBSEQUENT ELECTIONS AND UNTIL OTHERWISE PROVIDED
BY LAW, THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
SHALL BE ELECTED FROM LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS
APPORTIONED AMONG THE PROVINCES, CITIES AND THE
METROPOLITAN MANILA AREA AS FOLLOWS."
And what will follow will be the allocation of seats to Metropolitan
Manila Area, to the provinces and to the cities, without indicating the
municipalities comprising each of the districts. Then, under Section 2,
we will mandate the COMELEC to make the actual apportionment on
the basis of the number of seats provided for and allocated to each
province by us.
MS. AQUINO. Mr. Presiding Officer.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Commissioner Aquino is
recognized.
MS. AQUINO. I have to object to the provision which will give mandate
to COMELEC to do the redistricting. Redistricting is vitally linked to the
baneful practices of cutting up areas or spheres of influence; in other
words, gerrymandering. This Commission, being a nonpartisan, a
nonpolitical deliberative body, is in the best possible situation under the

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circumstances to undertake that responsibility. We are not wanting in


expertise and in time because in the first place, the Committee on the
Legislative has prepared the report on the basis of the
recommendation of the COMELEC.
MR. OPLE. Mr. Presiding Officer.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Commissioner Ople is
recognized.
MR. OPLE. I would like to support the position taken by Commissioner
Aquino in this respect. We know that the reapportionment of provinces
and cities for the purpose of redistricting is generally inherent in the
constituent power or in the legislative power. And I would feel very
uncertain about delegating this to a quasi-judicial body even if it is one
of the constitutional offices created under this Constitution. We have
the assurance of Commissioner Davide, as chairman of the Committee
on the Legislative, that even given the very short time remaining in the
life of this Commission, there is no reason why we cannot complete the
work of reapportionment on the basis of the COMELEC plan which the
committee has already thoroughly studied and which remains available
to the Constitutional Commission.
So, I support the position taken by Commissioner Aquino, Mr.
Presiding Officer. I think, it is the safest, the most reasonable, and the
most workable approach that is available to this Commission.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). What does Commissioner
Davide say:
MR. DAVIDE. The issue now is whether this body will make the
apportionment itself or whether we will leave it to the COMELEC. So,
there arises, therefore, a prejudicial question for the body to decide. I
would propose that the Commission should now decide what body
should make the apportionment. Should it be the Commission or
should it be the COMELEC? And the Committee on the Legislative will
act accordingly on the basis of the decision.

MR. BENGZON. Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. RODRIGO. And after that, Congress will have the power to
reapportion.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Commissioner Bengzon is


recognized.
MR. BENGZON. Apropos of that, I would like to inform the body that I
believe the Committee on the Legislative has precisely worked on this
matter and they are ready with a list of apportionment. They have, in
fact, apportioned the whole country into various districts based on the
recommendation of the COMELEC. So they are ready with the list and
if this body would wish to apportion the whole country by district itself,
then I believe we have the time to do it because the Committee on the
Legislative is ready with that particular report which need only to be
appended to the Constitution. So if this body is ready to accept the
work of the Committee on the Legislative we would have no problem. I
just would like to give that information so that the people here would be
guided accordingly when they vote.
MR. RODRIGO. Mr. Presiding Officer.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir) Commissioner Rodrigo is
recognized.
MR. RODRIGO. I just would like to ask Commissioner Davide some
questions.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Commissioner Davide may
yield if he so desires.
MR. DAVIDE. Gladly.
MR. RODRIGO. Will this apportionment which we are considering
apply only to the first election after the enactment of the Constitution?
MR. DAVIDE. On the basis of the Padilla proposal, it will be for the first
election; on the basis of the Sarmiento proposal, it will only apply to the
first election.

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MR. DAVIDE. Yes.


MR. RODRIGO. So, if we attach this to the Constitution the
reapportionment based on the COMELEC study and between the
approval of the Constitution and the first election the COMELEC no
longer has the power to change that even a bit.
xxx xxx xxx
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir) Commissioner Regalado is
recognized.
MR. REGALADO. May I address a clarificatory question to
Commissioner Davide?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Gentleman will please
proceed.
MR. REGALADO. On the basis of the Commissioner's proposed
apportionment and considering the fact that there will be a
corresponding reduction to 183 seats, would there be instances
representation of under non-representation?
MR. DAVIDE. None at all, Mr. Presiding Officer. I can assure the
Commission that there will be no case of inequitable distribution. It will
come out to be one for every 350 to 400,000 inhabitants.
MR. REGALADO. And that would be within the standard that we refer.
MR. DAVIDE. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
MR. REGALADO. Thank you.

MR. RAMA. Mr. Presiding Officer.


THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). The Floor Leader is
recognized.
MR. RAMA. The parliamentary situation is that there was a motion by
Commissioner Sarmiento to mandate COMELEC to do the
redistricting. This was also almost the same motion by Commissioner
Padilla and I think we have had some kind of meeting of minds. On the
other hand, there seems to be a prejudicial question, an amendment to
the amendment as suggested by Commissioner Aquino, that instead of
the COMELEC, it should be this Commission that shall make the
redistricting. So may I ask Commissioner Aquino, if she insists on that
idea, to please formulate it into a motion so we can vote on that first as
an amendment to the amendment.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir).Commissioner Aquino is
recognized.
MS . AQUINO. The motion is for this Commission to undertake the
apportionment of the legislative districts instead of the proposal that
COMELEC be given the mandate to undertake the responsibility.
xxx xxx xxx

become functus officioto have the authority. As a matter of fact, we


cannot exercise that authority until after the ratification of the new
Constitution.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). What does Commissioner
Sarmiento say?
MR. SARMIENTO. It is accepted, Mr. Presiding Officer. So, may I
move for the approval of this proposed amendment.
MS. AQUINO. Mr. Presiding Officer.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Commissioner Aquino is
recognized.
MS. AQUINO. Would that require a two-thirds vote or a simple plurality
to adopt that motion?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). That will require a two-thirds
vote.
MS. AQUINO. Thank you. Mr. Presiding Officer.
MR. SARMIENTO. May I restate the motion, Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. SARMIENTO. May I be clarified, Mr. Presiding Officer. Is it the


motion or the proposed amendment?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir) The Gentleman may proceed.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). The proposed amendment.

MR. SARMIENTO. May I move that this Commission do the


reapportionment legislative districts.

MR. SARMIENTO. May we move for the approval of this proposed


amendment which we substitute for paragraphs 4 and 5.

MS. AQUINO. Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. DAVIDE. May I request that it should be treated merely as a


motion to be followed by a deletion of paragraph 4 because that should
not really appear as a paragraph in Section 5; otherwise, it will appear
very ugly in the Constitution where we mandate a Commission that will

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THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). What is the pleasure of


Commissioner Aquino?

MS. AQUINO. May I be clarified again on the motion. Is Commissioner


Sarmiento, therefore, adopting my motion? Would it not be right for him
to move that the COMELEC be mandated?

MR. GUINGONA. This is just clarificatory, Mr. Presiding Officer. In


Section 2, the Commission on Elections is empowered to make minor
adjustments on the apportionment made here.

MR. SARMIENTO. No, we accepted the amendment. It is already the


Commission that will be mandated.

MR. DAVIDE. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.


MR. GUINGONA. We have not set any time limit for this.

MS. AQUINO. So, the Gentlemen has accepted the amendment the
amendment.

MR. SARMIENTO. I am voting that this Commission do the


reapportionment.

MR. DAVIDE. We should not set a time limit unless during the period of
amendments a proposal is made. The authority conferred would be on
minor corrections or amendments, meaning to say, for instance, that
we may have forgotten an intervening municipality in the enumeration,
which ought to be included in one district. That we shall consider a
minor amendment.

VOTING

MR. GUINGONA. Thank you.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Let us proceed to vote.

xxx xxx xxx

As many as are in favor, please raise their hand. (Several Members


raised their hand.)

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Romulo). Commissioner de Castro is


recognized.

As many as are against, please raise their hand. (No Member raised
his hand.)

MR. DE CASTRO. Thank you.

The results show 30 votes in favor and none against; the motion is
approved.
Clearly then, the Constitutional Commission denied to the COMELEC the major power
of legislative apportionment as it itself exercised the power. Section 2 of the Ordinance
only empowered the COMELEC "to make minor adjustments of the
reapportionment herein made." The meaning of the phrase "minor adjustments was
again clarified in the debates 17 of the Commission, viz.:
xxx xxx xxx

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I was about to ask the committee the meaning of minor


adjustment. Can it be possible that one municipality in a district be
transferred to another district and call it a minor adjustment?
MR. DAVIDE. That cannot be done, Mr. Presiding Officer. Minor,
meaning, that there should be no change in the allocations per district.
However, it may happen that we have forgotten a municipality in
between which is still in the territory of one assigned district, or there
may be an error in the correct name of a particular
municipality because of changes made by the interim Batasang
Pambansa and the Regular Batasang Pambansa. There were many
batas pambansa enacted by both the interim and the Regular
Batasang Pambansa changing the names of municipalities.

MR. DE CASTRO. So, the minor adjustment may be made only if one
of the municipalities is not mentioned in the ordinance appended to,
and it will be up for the COMELEC now to adjust or to put such
municipality to a certain district.
MR. DAVIDE. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer. For instance, we may not
have the data regarding a division of a municipality by the interim
Batasang Pambansa or the Regular Batasang Pambansa into two
municipalities, meaning, a mother municipality and the new
municipality, but still actually these are within the geographical district
area.
MR. DE CASTRO. So the minor adjustment which the COMELEC
cannot do is that, if, for example, my municipality is in the First District
of Laguna, they cannot put that in any other district.
MR. DAVIDE. That is not even a minor correction. It is a substantive
one.
MR. DE CASTRO. Thank you.
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 COMELEC is to adjust the number
of members (not municipalities) "apportioned to the province out of which such new
province was created. . . ."
Prescinding from these premises, we hold that respondent COMELEC committed
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it promulgated section
1 of its Resolution No. 2736 transferring the municipality of Capoocan of the Second
District and the municipality of Palompon of the Fourth District to the Third District of
Leyte.

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It may well be that the conversion of Biliran from a sub-province to a regular province
brought about an imbalance in the distribution of voters and inhabitants in the five (5)
legislative districts of the province of Leyte. This imbalance, depending on its degree,
could devalue a citizen's vote in violation of the equal protection clause of the
Constitution. Be that as it may, it is not proper at this time for petitioner to raise this
issue using the case at bench as his legal vehicle. The issue involves a problem of
reapportionment of legislative districts and petitioner's remedy lies with Congress.
Section 5(4), Article VI of the Constitution categorically gives Congress the power to
reapportion, thus: "Within three (3) years following the return of every census, the
Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards
provided in this section." In Macias v. COMELEC,18 we ruled that the validity of a
legislative apportionment is a justiciable question. But while this Court can strike down an
unconstitutional reapportionment, it cannot itself make the reapportionment as petitioner
would want us to do by directing respondent COMELEC to transfer the municipality of
Tolosa from the First District to the Second District of the province of Leyte.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, section 1 of Resolution No. 2736 insofar as it transferred the
municipality of Capoocan of the Second District and the municipality of Palompon of
the Fourth District to the Third District of the province of Leyte, is annulled and set
aside. We also deny the Petition praying for the transfer of the municipality
of Tolosafrom the First District to the Second District of the province of Leyte. No
costs.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo,
Melo, Quiason, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.