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SARMIENTO V.

COMELEC (1992)

Petitioners impugn several resolutions issued by the COMELEC as having been issued
with grave abuse of discretion in that, inter alia, the Commission, sitting en banc,
took cognizance of and decided the appeals without first referring them to any of its
Divisions. The subject matter of the resolutions involved exclusion from canvass of
certain election returns and opposition to the composition of the Municipal Board of
Canvassers.
HELD:
(1) Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution expressly provides:
The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and
shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition
of election cases, including pre- proclamation controversies. All such
election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that
motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the
Commission en banc.
It is clear from the above quoted provision of the 1987 Constitution that election
cases include pre-proclamation controversies, and all such cases must first be heard
and decided by a Division of the Commission. The Commission, sitting en banc, does
not have the authority to hear and decide the same at the first instance.
(2) Appeals from rulings of the Board of Canvassers are cognizable by any of the
Divisions to which they are assigned and not by the Commission en banc. The
COMELEC en banc acted without jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion,
when it resolved the appeals of petitioners in the abovementioned Special Cases
without first referring them to any of its Divisions. Said resolutions are, therefore,
null and void and must be set aside. Consequently, the appeals are deemed
pending before the Commission for proper referral to a Division.
(3) All pre-proclamation cases pending before the Commission shall be deemed
terminated at the beginning of the term of the office involved and the rulings of
the boards of canvassers concerned shall be deemed affirmed, without prejudice
to the filing of a regular election protest by the aggrieved party. HOWEVER,
proceedings may continue when on the basis of the evidence thus far
presented, the Commission determines that the petition appears meritorious and
accordingly issues an order for the proceeding to continue or when an appropriate
order has been issued by the Supreme Court in a petition for certiorari.

ONG JR. V. COMELEC


G.R. No. 105717 |December 23, 1992
Petitioner Ong and private respondent Lucero were candidates for the congressional
seat of the second district of Northern Samar during the May 1992 elections. Ong
garnered 204 more votes than Lucero. Subsequently, Lucero filed a petition with the
COMELEC for the suspension of the proclamation of Ong and for a recount of some
precincts with prayer for the holding of special elections. Acting on the petition, the
COMELEC en banc ordered Provincial Board of Canvassers not to reconvene and to
stop the canvassing of votes, considering the pendency of a pre-proclamation
controversy before the COMELEC. In a subsequent resolution, the COMELEC also
granted Luceros prayer for a recounting of votes. Hence, Ong filed petition for
certiorari on the ground that the COMELEC en banc committed grave abuse of
discretion in ordering the chairman of the PBC of Northern Samar not to reconvene
the board and in granting a recount of the ballots.
HELD:
(1) The COMELEC en banc gravely abused its jurisdiction when it ordered a recount in
the precincts because these are matters which should have been first referred to
its division.
(2) The COMELEC indiscriminately issued the order of recount even before the
remedies under the law as stated in Sections 233 and 234 of the Omnibus
Election Code have been complied with. Section 233 of the Omnibus Election
Code does not authorize a recount. Indeed, nowhere in Section 233 is there any
mention of a recount of ballots. Instead, the remedy under said Section is a
referral to other authentic copies of election returns issued by the Commission. It
bears stressing that under Sections 234, 235 and 236 of the Omnibus Election
Code, an order for a recount shall be issued only as a last resort and only if the
Commission is satisfied that the identity and integrity of the ballots have not been
violated.
(3) The allegations of private respondent as contained in his petition for the
suspension of the proclamation of the winner of the second district of Northern
Samar evidently involve pre-proclamation issues, specifically on the preparation
of election returns. Consequently, since for purposes of elections, no preproclamation case is allowed against a candidate of the House of Representatives
as stated in Section 15 of Republic Act No. 7166, the COMELEC gravely abused its
discretion when it issued its order suspending the proclamation of the winner of
the congressional seat.
(4) Private respondents reliance on the Lim v. COMELEC case, where the SC held that
not all pre-proclamation issues are barred by Section 15 of Republic Act No. 7166,
must similarly fail because in that case, petitioner Lim questioned the illegal
composition of the Municipal Board of Canvassers and the irregular appointment
of the Board of Election Inspectors, a pre-proclamation ground which evidently
has no connection with the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and
appreciation of election returns. As such, we ruled that the illegal composition of
the Board of Canvassers under Section 243 of the Omnibus Election Code may
still be raised under Section 15 of Republic Act No. 7166, before either the Board
of Canvassers or the COMELEC, in accordance with Section 19 of Republic Act No.
7166.

CANICOSA V. COMELEC
G.R. No. 120318 | December 5, 1997
Petitioner Canicosa and private respondent Lajara were candidates for mayor in
Calamba, Laguna during the May 1995 elections. After the canvassing, Lajara was
proclaimed winner by the Municipal Board of Canvasser. Thereafter, Canicosa filed
with the COMELEC a petition to declare failure of election and to declare null and void
the canvass and proclamation because of alleged widespread frauds and anomalies
in casting and accounting of votes, preparation of election returns, violence, threats,
intimidation, vote buying, unregistered voters voting and delay in the delivery of
election documents and paraphernalia from the precincts to the office of the
Municipal Treasurer. In its decision, the COMELEC en banc dismissed the petition on
the ground that the allegations therein did not justify a declaration of failure of
election.
HELD:
(1) There are only three (3) instances where a failure of election may be declared,
namely:
i)

The election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed on account of
force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes;
ii) The election in any polling place had been suspended before the hour fixed by law
for the closing of the voting on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud,
or other analogous causes; or
iii) After the voting and during the preparation and transmission of the election
returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to
elect on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous
causes.

(2) Averment that more than one-half of the legitimate voters were not able to vote is
not a ground which warrants a declaration of failure of election.
(3) The grounds cited by Canicosa in his petition do not fall under any of the
instances enumerated in Sec. 6 of the Omnibus Election Code. Before COMELEC
can act on a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of election, at least two
(2) conditions must concur:
i)

ii)

No voting has taken place in the precincts on the date fixed by law, or even if there
was voting, the election nevertheless resulted in failure to elect; and
The votes that were not cast would affect the result of the election. From the face
of the instant petition, it is readily apparent that an election took place and that it
did not result in a failure to elect.

(4) The question of inclusion or exclusion from the list of voters involves the right to
vote which is a justiciable issue properly recognized by the regular courts.
Fifteen (15) days before the regular elections, the final list of voters was posted in
each precinct. Based on the lists thus posted Canicosa could have filed a petition
for inclusion of registered voters with the regular courts.
(5) The correction of the manifest mistake in mathematical addition calls for a mere
clerical task of the board of canvassers. The remedy invoked was purely

administrative. The issue concerning registration of voters, which Canicosa cited


as a ground in his petition for declaration of failure of election, is an
administrative question. Likewise, questions as to whether elections have been
held or whether certain returns were falsified or manufactured and therefore
should be excluded from the canvass do not involve the right to vote. Such
questions are properly within the administrative jurisdiction of COMELEC, hence,
may be acted upon directly by the COMELEC en banc without having to pass
through any of its divisions. The provision in the constitution mandating the
COMELEC to hear and decide cases first by division and then, upon motion for
reconsideration, by COMELEC en banc, not applicable if the case about to be
resolved is purely administrative in nature.

RAMIREZ V. COMELEC
G.R. No. 122013 | March 26, 1997
Petitioner Jose C. Ramirez and private respondent Alfredo I. Go were candidates for
vice mayor in the election of May 1995. Ramirez was proclaimed winner by the
Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) on the basis of results showing that he obtained
1,367 votes against private respondents 1,235 votes. Go filed in the COMELEC a
petition for the correction of what he claimed was manifest error in the Statement of
Votes. He alleged that, based on the entries in the Statement of Votes, he obtained
1,515 votes as against petitioners 1,367 votes but that because of error in addition,
he was credited with 1,235.
Acting on the petition, the COMELEC en banc issued directed the MBC to reconvene
and re-compute the votes in the Statement of Votes and proclaim the winning
candidate for vice mayor accordingly. Ramirez then filed a petition for certiorari and
mandamus seeking the annulment COMELECs order. Ramirez contends that (1) the
COMELEC acted without jurisdiction because the case was resolved by it without
having been first acted upon by any of its divisions, and (2) the MBC had already
made motu proprio a correction of manifest errors in the Statement of Votes in its
certification and thus it was a grave abuse of its discretion for the COMELEC to order
a re-computation of votes based on the allegedly uncorrected Statement of Votes.
HELD:
(1) Rule 27, Section 5 of the 1993 Rules of the COMELEC expressly provides that
pre-proclamation controversies involving, inter alia, manifest errors in the
tabulation or tallying of the results may be filed directly with the COMELEC en
banc. In a long line of cases, the Supreme Court this Court approved the
assumption of jurisdiction by the COMELEC en banc over petitions for
correction of manifest error directly filed with it.
In any event, Ramirez is estopped from raising the issue of jurisdiction of the
COMELEC en banc. Not only did he participate in the proceedings, but he also
sought affirmative relief from the COMELEC en banc by filing a CounterProtest. It is certainly not right for a party taking part in proceedings and
submitting his case for decision to attack the decision later for lack of
jurisdiction of the tribunal because the decision turns out to be adverse to
him.
(2) The corrections should be made either by inserting corrections in the
Statement of Votes which was originally prepared and submitted by the MBC,
or by preparing an entirely new Statement of Votes incorporating therein the
corrections. The certification issued by the MBC is thus not the proper

way to correct manifest errors in the Statement of Votes. More


importantly, the corrections should be based on the election returns but here
the corrections appear to have been made by the MBC on the bases of the
Certificates of Votes issued
(3) The Statement of Votes is a vital component of the electoral process. It
supports the Certificate of Canvass and is the basis for proclamation. But in
this case the Statement of Votes was not even prepared until after the
proclamation of the winning candidate. This is contrary to the Omnibus
Election Code.