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G.R. No.

189698 February 22, 2010


ELEAZAR P. QUINTO and GERINO A. TOLENTINO, JR., Petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,
Respondent.
RESOLUTION
PUNO, C.J.:

Facts:
Pursuant to its constitutional mandate to enforce and administer election laws, COMELEC issued Resolution No. 8678,
the Guidelines on the Filing of Certificates of Candidacy (CoC) and Nomination of Official Candidates of Registered
Political Parties in Connection with the May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections. Sections 4 and 5 of Resolution No.
8678 provide:
SEC. 4. Effects of Filing Certificates of Candidacy.a) Any person holding a public appointive office or position
including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other officers and employees in governmentowned or controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his
certificate of candidacy.
b) Any person holding an elective office or position shall not be considered resigned upon the filing of his
certificate of candidacy for the same or any other elective office or position.
Alarmed that they will be deemed ipso facto resigned from their offices the moment they file their CoCs, petitioners
Eleazar P. Quinto and Gerino A. Tolentino, Jr., who hold appointive positions in the government and who intend to run
in the coming elections, filed the instant petition for prohibition and certiorari, seeking the declaration of the aforequoted Section 4(a) of Resolution No. 8678 as null and void. Petitioners also contend that Section 13 of R.A. No.
9369, the basis of the assailed COMELEC resolution, contains two conflicting provisions. These must be
harmonized or reconciled to give effect to both and to arrive at a declaration that they are not ipso facto resigned from
their positions upon the filing of their CoCs.

Issue: whether the second proviso in the third paragraph of Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369 and Section 4(a) of
COMELEC Resolution No. 8678 are violative of the equal protection clause

Held: Yes.
In considering persons holding appointive positions as ipso facto resigned from their posts upon the filing of their
CoCs, but not considering as resigned all other civil servants, specifically the elective ones, the law unduly
discriminates against the first class. The fact alone that there is substantial distinction between those who hold
appointive positions and those occupying elective posts, does not justify such differential treatment.
In order that there can be valid classification so that a discriminatory governmental act may pass the constitutional
norm of equal protection, it is necessary that the four (4) requisites of valid classification be complied with, namely:

(1) It must be based upon substantial distinctions;


(2) It must be germane to the purposes of the law;
(3) It must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
(4) It must apply equally to all members of the class.
The first requirement means that there must be real and substantial differences between the classes treated differently.
As illustrated in the fairly recent Mirasol v. Department of Public Works and Highways, a real and substantial distinction
exists between a motorcycle and other motor vehicles sufficient to justify its classification among those prohibited from
plying the toll ways. Not all motorized vehicles are created equala two-wheeled vehicle is less stable and more easily
overturned than a four-wheel vehicle.
Nevertheless, the classification would still be invalid if it does not comply with the second requirementif it is not
germane to the purpose of the law.
The third requirement means that the classification must be enforced not only for the present but as long as the
problem sought to be corrected continues to exist. And, under the last requirement, the classification would be
regarded as invalid if all the members of the class are not treated similarly, both as to rights conferred and obligations
imposed.
Applying the four requisites to the instant case, the Court finds that the differential treatment of persons holding
appointive offices as opposed to those holding elective ones is not germane to the purposes of the law.
The obvious reason for the challenged provision is to prevent the use of a governmental position to promote ones
candidacy, or even to wield a dangerous or coercive influence on the electorate. The measure is further aimed at
promoting the efficiency, integrity, and discipline of the public service by eliminating the danger that the discharge of
official duty would be motivated by political considerations rather than the welfare of the public. The restriction is also
justified by the proposition that the entry of civil servants to the electoral arena, while still in office, could result in
neglect or inefficiency in the performance of duty because they would be attending to their campaign rather than to
their office work.
If we accept these as the underlying objectives of the law, then the assailed provision cannot be constitutionally
rescued on the ground of valid classification. Glaringly absent is the requisite that the classification must be germane to
the purposes of the law. Indeed, whether one holds an appointive office or an elective one, the evils sought to be
prevented by the measure remain. For example, the Executive Secretary, or any Member of the Cabinet for that matter,
could wield the same influence as the Vice-President who at the same time is appointed to a Cabinet post (in the
recent past, elected Vice-Presidents were appointed to take charge of national housing, social welfare development,
interior and local government, and foreign affairs). With the fact that they both head executive offices, there is no valid
justification to treat them differently when both file their CoCs for the elections. Under the present state of our law, the
Vice-President, in the example, running this time, let us say, for President, retains his position during the entire election
period and can still use the resources of his office to support his campaign.
As to the danger of neglect, inefficiency or partisanship in the discharge of the functions of his appointive office, the
inverse could be just as true and compelling. The public officer who files his certificate of candidacy would be driven by
a greater impetus for excellent performance to show his fitness for the position aspired for.
There is thus no valid justification to treat appointive officials differently from the elective ones. The classification simply
fails to meet the test that it should be germane to the purposes of the law. The measure encapsulated in the second
proviso of the third paragraph of Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369 and in Section 66 of the OEC violates the equal
protection clause.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The second proviso in the third paragraph of Section
13 of Republic Act No. 9369, Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code and Section 4(a) of COMELEC Resolution No.
8678 are declared as UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

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MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

Held: No
To start with, the equal protection clause does not require the universal application of the laws to all persons or things
without distinction. What it simply requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification.
The test developed by jurisprudence here and yonder is that of reasonableness, which has four requisites:
(1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions;
(2) It is germane to the purposes of the law;
(3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and
(4) It applies equally to all members of the same class.
Our assailed Decision readily acknowledged that these deemed-resigned provisions satisfy the first, third and fourth
requisites of reasonableness. It, however, proffers the dubious conclusion that the differential treatment of appointive
officials vis--vis elected officials is not germane to the purpose of the law, because "whether one holds an appointive
office or an elective one, the evils sought to be prevented by the measure remain."
In the instant case, is there a rational justification for excluding elected officials from the operation of the deemed
resigned provisions? There is.
An election is the embodiment of the popular will, perhaps the purest expression of the sovereign power of the people.
It involves the choice or selection of candidates to public office by popular vote. Considering that elected officials are
put in office by their constituents for a definite term, it may justifiably be said that they were excluded from the ambit of
the deemed resigned provisions in utmost respect for the mandate of the sovereign will. In other words, complete
deference is accorded to the will of the electorate that they be served by such officials until the end of the term for
which they were elected. In contrast, there is no such expectation insofar as appointed officials are concerned.
The dichotomized treatment of appointive and elective officials is therefore germane to the purposes of the law. For the
law was made not merely to preserve the integrity, efficiency, and discipline of the public service; the Legislature,
whose wisdom is outside the rubric of judicial scrutiny, also thought it wise to balance this with the
competing, yet equally compelling, interest of deferring to the sovereign will.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court RESOLVES to GRANT the respondents and the intervenors Motions for
Reconsideration; REVERSE and SET ASIDE this Courts December 1, 2009 Decision; DISMISS the Petition; and
ISSUE this Resolution declaring as not UNCONSTITUTIONAL (1) Section 4(a) of COMELEC Resolution No. 8678, (2)
the second proviso in the third paragraph of Section 13 of Republic Act No. 9369, and (3) Section 66 of the Omnibus
Election Code.

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The ruling basically paves the way for justices, judges, election officials, military and police officers, members of the
cabinet and all appointed civil servants to continue exercising the functions of, and holding on to, their appointive office
while campaigning to get elected for an elective position.
The legal ramifications are of great significance. As Justice Carpio pointed out in his dissenting opinion, imagine if the
Provincial Commander of the AFP files his COC for governor on 1 December 2009 for the 10 May 2010 elections. If he
is not considered automatically resigned from office, he has until the start of the campaign period on 26 March 2010 to
remain in his post, in command of hundreds, if not thousands, of fully-armed personnel. The same is true for judges,
cabinet secretaries, and other heads of offices who have some kind of influence and control over certain personnel and
government resources. There are even reports that some Comelec officials themselves have filed their COCs for
certain elective positions.
Next elections, it would then be possible that the Chief Justice, the Comelec Chairperson or the AFP Chief of Staff
become a candidate for President, Vice-President or Senator while serving the office to which they were appointed.
The decision does not seem to prevent the evil that the Constitution, in so many words, seeks to prevent. In fact, Article
IX(B), Section 2(4) of the Constitution expressly provides that No officer or employee in the civil service shall engage,
directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political campaign.
Furthermore, if they lose, they just continue occupying their appointive posts. This is illogical because Section 6, Art.
IX(B) of the Constitution provides that No candidate who has lost in any election shall, within one year after such
election, be appointed to any office in the Government of any government-owned or controlled corporations or in any of
its subsidiaries.