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G.R. No.

209185 October 25, 2013

MARC DOUGLAS IV C. CAGAS, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS represented by its CHAIRMAN ATTY. SIXTO BRILLANTES JR. and the PROVINCIAL ELECTION OFFICER OF
DAVAO DEL SUR, represented by ATTY. MA. FEBES BARLAAN, Respondents.

RESOLUTION

CARPIO, J.:

This Resolution resolves the Petition for Prohibition,1 filed by Marc Douglas IV C. Cagas (Cagas), in his capacity as taxpayer, to prohibit the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) from conducting a plebiscite for the creation of the province of Davao Occidental simultaneously with the 28 October 2013 Barangay Elections within the
whole province of Davao del Sur, except in Davao City.

Cagas, while he was representative of the first legislative district of Davao del Sur, filed with Hon. Franklin Bautista, then representative of the second legislative
district of the same province, House Bill No. 4451 (H.B. No. 4451), a bill creating the province of Davao Occidental. H.B. No. 4451 was signed into law as Republic
Act No. 10360 (R.A. No. 10360), the Charter of the Province of Davao Occidental.

Sections 2 and 7 of R.A. No. 10360 provide for the composition of the new provinces of Davao Occidental and Davao del Sur:

Sec. 2. Province of Davao Occidental. There is hereby created a new province from the present Province of Davao del Sur to be known as the Province of Davao
Occidental, consisting of the municipalities of Sta. Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani. The territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Davao
Occidental shall be within the present metes and bounds of all the municipalities that comprise the Province of Davao Occidental.

xxxx

Sec. 7. Legislative District. The Province of Davao Occidental shall have its own legislative district to commence in the next national and local elections after the
effectivity of this Charter. Henceforth, the municipalities of Sta. Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani shall comprise the Lone Legislative
District of the Province of Davao Occidental while the City of Digos and the municipalities of Malalag, Sulop, Kiblawan, Padada, Hagonoy, Sta. Cruz, Matanao,
Bansalan and Magsaysay shall comprise the Lone Legislative District of the Province of Davao del Sur.

xxxx

Section 46 of R.A. No. 10360 provides for the date of the holding of a plebiscite.

Sec. 46. Plebiscite. The Province of Davao Occidental shall be created, as provided for in this Charter, upon approval by the majority of the votes cast by the voters of
the affected areas in a plebiscite to be conducted and supervised by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) within sixty (60) days from the date of the effectivity of
this Charter.

The amount necessary for the conduct of the plebiscite shall be borne by the COMELEC.

R.A. No. 10360 was passed by the House of Representatives on 28 November 2012, and by the Senate on 5 December 2012. President Benigno S. Aquino III approved
R.A. No. 10360 on 14 January 2013.2 R.A. No. 10360 was published in the Philippine Star and the Manila Bulletin only on 21 January 2013. Considering that R.A. No.
10360 shall take effect 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers of general and local circulation, 3 COMELEC, therefore, only had until 6 April 2013 to
conduct the plebiscite.4

As early as 27 November 2012, prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 10360, the COMELEC suspended the conduct of all plebiscites as a matter of policy and in view of
the preparations for the 13 May 2013 National and Local Elections. 5 On 9 July 2013, the COMELEC extended

the policy on suspension of the holding of plebiscites by resolving to defer action on the holding of all plebiscites until after the 28 October 2013 Barangay Elections.6
During a meeting held on 31 July 2013, the COMELEC decided to hold the plebiscite for the creation of Davao Occidental simultaneously with the 28 October 2013
Barangay Elections to save on expenses7 . The COMELEC, in Minute Resolution No. 13-0926, approved the conduct of the Concept of Execution for the conduct of the
plebiscite on 6 August 2013.8 On 14 August 2013, Bartolome J. Sinocruz, Jr., the Deputy Executive Director for Operations of the COMELEC, issued a memorandum
furnishing a copy of Minute Resolution No. 13-0926 to Atty. Remlane M. Tambuang, Regional Election Director of Region XI; Atty. Ma. Febes M. Barlaan, Provincial
Election Supervisor of Davao del Sur; and to all election officers of Davao del Sur. On 6 September 2013, the COMELEC promulgated Resolution Nos. 97719 and
9772.10 Resolution No. 9771 provided for the following calendar of activities:
DATE/PERIOD ACTIVITIES PROHIBITED ACTS

SEPT. 09, 2013 (MON) Last day to constitute the Plebiscite Board of
Canvassers

SEPT. 28, 2013 (SAT) PLEBISCITE PERIOD Bearing, carrying or transporting firearms or other
NOV. 12, 2013 (TUE) deadly weapons in public places, including any
(30 DAYS BEFORE building, street, park, private vehicle or public
THE DATE OF conveyance, or even if licensed to possess or carry the
PLEBISCITE AND 15 same, unless authorized in writing by the Commission
DAYS THEREAFTER (Sec. 261 (p) (q) OEC, as amended by Sec. 32, RA
7166);

Suspension of local elective officials (Sec. 261 (x),


OEC); Transfer of officers and employees in the civil
service (Sec. 261 (h), OEC);

Alteration of territory of a precinct or establishment of


a new precinct (Sec. 5, R.A. 8189)

Organizing or maintaining reaction/strike forces or


similar forces (Sec. 261, (u), OEC);

Illegal release of prisoners (Sec. 261 (n), OEC);

Use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates,


whether or not such bodyguards are regular members
or officers of the Philippine National Police or Armed
Forces of the Philippines or other law enforcement
agency (Sec. 261 (t), OEC, as amended by Sec. 33, RA
7166);
1

Release, disbursement or expenditures of public funds


(Sec. 261 (v), OEC);Construction of public works,
delivery of materials for public works and issuance of
treasury warrants or similar devices for a future
undertaking chargeable against public funds (Sec. 261,
(w) OEC).

SEPTEMBER 28, 2013 INFORMATIONCAMPAIGN PERIOD Making any donation or gift in cash or in kind, etc.
(SAT) to OCTOBER 26, (Sec. 104, OEC);Use of armored/ land/ water/ air craft.
2013 (SAT) (Sec. 261 (r), OEC);Appointing or using special
policemen, special/ confidential agents or the like.
(Sec. 261 (m), OEC);

SEPTEMBER 28, 2013 Issuance of appointments, promotions, creation of new


(SAT) to OCTOBER 28, positions, or giving of salary increases.
2013 (MON)

OCTOBER 27, 2013 EVE OF PLEBISCITE DAY Campaigning (Sec. 3, OEC);


(SUN)

Giving, accepting free transportation, foods, drinks,


and things of value (Sec. 89, OEC);

Selling, furnishing, offering, buying, serving or taking


intoxicating liquor (Sec. 261 (dd), (1), OEC).(NOTE:
Acts mentioned in the three (3) preceding paragraphs
are prohibited until election day.)

OCTOBER 28, 2013 PLEBISCITE DAYCasting of votes- (from 7:00 Vote-buying and vote selling (Sec. 261 (a),
(MON) a.m. to 3:00 p.m. simultaneous with the voting for OEC);Voting more than once or in substitution of
the Barangay and SK Elections)Counting of votes another (Sec. 261 (z) (2) and (3), OEC);Campaigning
shall be after the counting of votes for Barangay (Sec. 3, OEC);Soliciting votes or undertaking any
and SK Elections)Convening of the City propaganda for or against any candidate or any political
Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (6:00 p.m.) party within the polling place or within thirty (30)
meters thereof (Sec. 261 (cc) (6), OEC);Selling,
furnishing, offering, buying, serving or taking
intoxicating liquor, etc. (Sec. 261 (dd) (1),
OEC);Opening of booths or stalls for the sale, etc., of
wares, merchandise or refreshments, within thirty (30)
meters radius from the polling place. (Sec. 261 (dd) (2)
OEC);Giving and/or accepting free transportation,
food, drinks and things of value (Sec. 89,
OEC);Holding of fairs, cockfights, boxing, horse races
or similar sports. (Sec. 261 (dd) (3), OEC).

Resolution No. 9772, on the other hand, provided that copies of R.A. No. 10360 be posted 11 and that information campaigns be conducted prior to the plebiscite. 12

On 9 October 2013, Cagas filed the present petition for prohibition. Cagas cites three causes of action:

1. COMELEC is without authority or legal basis to AMEND or MODIFY Section 46 of Republic Act No. 10360 by mere MINUTE RESOLUTION because it is only
CONGRESS who can validly amend, repel [sic] or modify existing laws, thus COMELEC [sic] act in suspending the holding of a plebiscite is unconstitutional;13

2. COMELEC is without authority or legal basis to hold a plebiscite this coming October 28, 2013 for the creation of the Province of Davao Occidental because Section
46 of Republic Act No. 10360 has already lapsed; 14 and

3. Petitioner has no other adequate remedy to prevent the COMELEC from holding the Plebiscite on October 28, 2013 for the creation of the Province of Davao
Occidental except through the issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction because COMELEC had already commenced the preparation for
holding of the Plebiscite for the creation of the Province of Davao Occidental synchronizing it with that of the Barangay and SK elections this coming October 28,
2013.15

On 17 October 2013, we issued a Resolution requiring respondents COMELEC, represented by its Chairperson, Hon. Sixto Brillantes, Jr., and the Provincial Election
Officer of Davao del Sur, represented by Atty. Ma. Febes Barlaan, to file their comment to Cagas petition not later than 21 October 2013.

The respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed their comment on 21 October 2013. The OSG raises the following arguments:

1. The 1987 Constitution does not fix the period to hold a plebiscite for the creation of a local government unit;

2. There was logistical and financial impossibility for the COMELEC to hold a plebiscite at a mere two months notice;

3. Legislative intent is for R.A. No. 10360 to be implemented;

4. Public interest demands that the plebiscite be conducted; and

5. The COMELEC did not abuse its discretion in issuing the questioned Resolutions. 16

In this Resolution, we simplify the issues raised by the parties, thus: Did the COMELEC act without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it resolved to hold the plebiscite for the creation of the Province of Davao Occidental on 28 October 2013,
simultaneous with the Barangay Elections?
We answer in the negative.

The COMELECs power to administer elections

includes the power to conduct a plebiscite beyond the schedule

prescribed by law.

The conduct of a plebiscite is necessary for the creation of a province. Sections 10 and 11 of Article X of the Constitution provide that:

Sec. 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the
criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.

Sec. 11. The Congress may, by law, create special metropolitan political subdivisions, subject to a plebiscite as set forth in Section 10 hereof. The component cities and
municipalities shall retain their basic autonomy and shall be entitled to their own local executive and legislative assemblies. The jurisdiction of the metropolitan
authority that will thereby be created shall be limited to basic services requiring coordination. Section 10, Article X of the Constitution emphasizes the direct exercise
by the people of their sovereignty. After the legislative branchs enactment of a law to create, divide, merge or alter the boundaries of a local government unit or units,
the people in the local government unit or units directly affected vote in a plebiscite to register their approval or disapproval of the change. 17

The Constitution does not specify a date as to when plebiscites should be held. This is in contrast with its provisions for the election of members of the legislature in
Section 8, Article VI18 and of the President and Vice-President in Section 4, Article VII.19 The Constitution recognizes that the power to fix the date of elections is
legislative in nature, which is shown by the exceptions in previously mentioned Constitutional provisions, as well as in the election of local government officials.20

Section 10 of R.A. No. 7160 furnishes the general rule as to when a plebiscite may be held:

Sec. 10. Plebiscite Requirement. No creation, division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of boundaries of local government units shall take effect unless
approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose in the political unit or units directly affected. Said plebiscite shall be conducted by the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of effectivity of the law or ordinance effecting such action, unless said law
or ordinance fixed another date.

Section 46 of R.A. No. 10360, however, specifically provides that the plebiscite for the creation of the province of Davao Occidental be held within 60 days from the
effectivity of R.A. No. 10360, or until 6 April 2013. 21 Cagas claims that R.A. No. 10360 "did not confer express or implied power to COMELEC to exercise discretion
when the plebiscite for the creation of the Province of Davao Occidental will be held. On the contrary, said law provides a specific period when the COMELEC should
conduct a plebiscite."22 Cagas views the period "60 days from the effectivity" in R.A. No. 10360 as absolute and mandatory; thus, COMELEC has no legal basis to hold
a plebiscite on 28 October 2013.

The Constitution, however, grants the COMELEC the power to "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite,
initiative, referendum and recall."23 The COMELEC has "exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections for the
purpose of ensuring free, orderly and honest elections."24 The text and intent of Section 2(1) of Article IX(C) is to give COMELEC "all the necessary and incidental
powers for it to achieve the objective of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections." 25

Sections 5 and 6 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 (B.P. Blg. 881) the Omnibus Election Code, provide the COMELEC the power to set elections to another date.

Sec. 5. Postponement of election.- When for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and
other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision, the Commission,
motu proprio or upon a verified petition by any interested party, and after due notice and hearing, whereby all interested parties are afforded equal opportunity to be
heard, shall postpone the election therein to a date which should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect
but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.

Sec. 6. Failure of election. - If, on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on
the date fixed, or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of
the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect, and in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would
affect the result of the election, the Commission shall, on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due notice and hearing, call for the holding or
continuation of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which
resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.

The tight time frame in the enactment, signing into law, and effectivity of R.A. No. 10360 on 5 February 2013, coupled with the subsequent conduct of the National and
Local Elections on 13 May 2013 as mandated by the Constitution, rendered impossible the holding of a plebiscite for the creation of the province of Davao Occidental
on or before 6 April 2013 as scheduled in R.A. No. 10360. We also take judicial notice of the COMELECs burden in the accreditation and registration of candidates
for the Party-List Elections.26 The logistic and financial impossibility of holding a plebiscite so close to the National and Local Elections is unforeseen and unexpected,
a cause analogous to force majeure and administrative mishaps covered in Section 5 of B.P. Blg. 881. The COMELEC is justified, and did not act with grave abuse of
discretion, in postponing the holding of the plebiscite for the creation of the province of Davao Occidental to 28 October 2013 to synchronize it with the Barangay
Elections.

The OSG illustrated the COMELECs predicament in this manner:

To be sure, at the time R.A. No. 10360 was approved, the COMELEC had to deliver and accomplish the following, among many others, for the May 2013 National and
Local Elections:

1. Preparation of the Project of Precincts indicating the total number of established precincts and the number of registered voters per precincts [sic] in a city
or municipality.

2. Constitution of the Board of Election Inspectors including the precincts where they will be assigned and the barangay where the precinct is located.

3. Inspection, verification and sealing of the Book of Voters containing the approved voter registration records of registered voters in the particular precinct
which must be inspected, verified, and sealed.

4. Finalization and printing of the computerized voters list for use on election day.

5. The preparation, bidding, printing and distribution of the voters information.


6. Configuration, testing, and demonstration of the PCOS machines and their distribution to the different precincts.

To comply with the 60-day period to conduct the plebiscite then, as insisted, petitioner would have the COMELEC hold off all of its above tasks. If COMELEC
abandoned any of its tasks or did not strictly follow the timetable for the accomplishment of these tasks then it could have put in serious jeopardy the conduct of the
May 2013 National and Local Elections. The COMELEC had to focus all its attention and concentrate all its manpower and other resources on its preparation for the
May 2013 National and Local Elections, and to ensure that it would not be derailed, it had to defer the conduct of all plebiscites including that of R.A. No. 10360.

Parenthetically, for the COMELEC to hold the plebiscite for the ratification of R.A. No. 10360 within the fixed period, it would have to reconfigure for said purpose
some of the PCOS machines that were already configured for the May 2013 National and Local Elections; or in the alternative, conduct the plebiscite manually.

However, conducting the plebiscite manually would require another set of ballots and other election paraphernalia. Besides, another set of election materials would also
require additional logistics for printing, checking, packing, and deployment thereof. Lest it be forgotten, that all of these things should undergo public bidding.

Since the plebiscite would be a separate undertaking, the COMELEC would have to appoint separate sets of boards of election inspectors, tellers, and other personnel to
canvass the result of the plebiscite all of which would have entailed further cost for the COMELEC whose budget had already been overly stretched to cover the May
2013 National and Local Elections.

More importantly, it bears stressing that the COMELEC was not given a special budget to defray the cost of the plebiscite. In fact, the COMELEC had to take 11
million from its savings and from the Barangay Elections budget to finance the plebiscite to ratify R.A. No. 10360 on October 28, 2013.

The COMELECs questioned Resolution then directing the holding of the plebiscite for the ratification of R.A. No. 10360 simultaneously with the Barangay Elections
was not an abuse of its discretion, as alleged, but simply an exercise of prudence, because as the COMELEC itself noted, doing so "will entail less expense than holding
it separately." [p. 9, Resolution No. 13-0926, Annex B, Petition.]

The determination of the feasibility of holding a plebiscite on a given date is within the competence and discretion of the COMELEC. Petitioner cannot therefore simply
insist that the COMELEC should have complied with the period specified in the law when doing so would be virtually impossible under the circumstances.27

This Court has rejected a too literal interpretation of election laws in favor of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections.

In Pangandaman v. COMELEC,28 Lining Pangandaman (Pangandaman) filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction to challenge the Omnibus Order of the COMELEC En Banc. The COMELEC En Banc ordered the conduct of special elections in certain
municipalities in Lanao del Sur on 18 and 25 July 1998, or more than 30 days after the failure of elections on 11 May 1998. Like Cagas, Pangandaman insisted on a
strict compliance with the schedule of the holding of special elections. Pangandaman asserted that COMELECs authority to call a special election was limited by the
30-day period and that Congress had the power to call a special election after the 30th day. We admonished Pangandaman against a too literal interpretation of the law,
and protected COMELECs powers against the straitjacketing by procedural rules.

It is a basic precept in statutory construction that a statute should be interpreted in harmony with the Constitution and that the spirit, rather than the letter of the law
determines its construction; for that reason, a statute must be read according to its spirit and intent. Thus, a too literal interpretation of the law that would lead to
absurdity prompted this Court to

x x x admonish against a too-literal reading of the law as this is apt to constrict rather than fulfill its purpose and defeat the intention of its authors. That intention is
usually found not in the letter that killeth but in the spirit that vivifieth x x x

Section 2(1) of Article IX(C) of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad power to "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an
election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall." There can hardly be any doubt that the text and intent of this constitutional provision is to give COMELEC all the
necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the objective of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections.

Pursuant to this intent, this Court has been liberal in defining the parameters of the COMELECs powers in conducting elections. As stated in the old but nevertheless
still very much applicable case of Sumulong v. COMELEC:

Politics is a practical matter, and political questions must be dealt with realistically not from the standpoint of pure theory. The Commission on Elections, because of
its fact-finding facilities, its contacts with political strategists, and its knowledge derived from actual experience in dealing with political controversies, is in a peculiarly
advantageous position to decide complex political questions x x x. There are no ready made formulas for solving public problems. Time and experience are necessary to
evolve patterns that will serve the ends of good government. In the matter of the administration of laws relative to the conduct of election x x x we must not by any
excessive zeal take away from the Commission on Elections that initiative which by constitutional and legal mandates properly belongs to it.

More pointedly, this Court recently stated in Tupay Loong v. COMELEC, et al., that "Our elections are not conducted under laboratory conditions. In running for public
offices, candidates do not follow the rules of Emily Post. Too often, COMELEC has to make snap judgments to meet unforeseen circumstances that threaten to subvert
the will of our voters. In the process, the actions of COMELEC may not be impeccable, indeed, may even be debatable. We cannot, however, engage in a swivel chair
criticism of these actions often taken under very difficult circumstances."

The purpose of the governing statutes on the conduct of elections

x x x is to protect the integrity of elections to suppress all evils that may violate its purity and defeat the will of the voters. The purity of the elections is one of the most
fundamental requisites of popular government. The Commission on Elections, by constitutional mandate, must do everything in its power to secure a fair and honest
canvass of the votes cast in the elections. In the performance of its duties, the Commission must be given a considerable latitude in adopting means and methods that
will insure the accomplishment of the great objective for which it was created to promote free, orderly, and honest elections. The choice of means taken by the
Commission on Elections, unless they are clearly illegal or constitute grave abuse of discretion, should not be interfered with.

Guided by the above-quoted pronouncement, the legal compass from which the COMELEC should take its bearings in acting upon election controversies is the
principle that " clean elections control the appropriateness of the remedy."

In fixing the date for special elections the COMELEC should see to it that: 1.] it should not be later than thirty (30) days after the cessation of the cause of the
postponement or suspension of the election or the failure to elect; and, 2.] it should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted
in the failure to elect.1avvphi1 The first involves a question of fact. The second must be determined in the light of the peculiar circumstances of a case. Thus, the
holding of elections within the next few months from the cessation of the cause of the postponement, suspension or failure to elect may still be considered "reasonably
close to the date of the election not held."

In this case, the COMELEC can hardly be faulted for tardiness. The dates set for the special elections were actually the nearest dates from the time total/partial failure
of elections was determined, which date fell on July 14, 1998, the date of promulgation of the challenged Omnibus Order. Needless to state, July 18 and 25, the dates
chosen by the COMELEC for the holding of special elections were only a few days away from the time a total/partial failure of elections was declared and, thus, these
were "dates reasonably close" thereto, given the prevailing facts herein. Furthermore, it bears stressing that in the exercise of the plenitude of its powers to protect the
integrity of elections, the COMELEC should not and must not be straitjacketed by procedural rules in the exercise of its discretion to resolve election disputes.29
In Sambarani v. COMELEC,30 petitioners were candidates for punong barangay in different barangays in Lanao del Sur. There was a failure of elections in the 15 July
2002 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections, and special elections were set on 13 August 2002 in the affected barangays. No special
elections were held on 13 August 2002, so petitioners asked the COMELEC to declare a failure of elections in their barangays and to hold another special election. The
COMELEC, however, directed the Department of Interior and Local Government to appoint the Barangay Captains, Barangay Kagawads, SK Chairmen, and SK

Kagawads in the affected barangays. The COMELEC stated that it is no longer in a position to call for another special election since Section 6 of the Omnibus Election
Code provides that "special elections shall be held on a date reasonably close to the date of the election not held, but not later than thirty days after cessation of the
cause of such postponement."

We directed the COMELEC to conduct special elections and stated that the deadline cannot defeat the right of suffrage of the people.

The prohibition on conducting special elections after thirty days from the cessation of the cause of the failure of elections is not absolute.1wphi1 It is directory, not
mandatory, and the COMELEC possesses residual power to conduct special elections even beyond the deadline prescribed by law. The deadline in Section 6 cannot
defeat the right of suffrage of the people as guaranteed by the Constitution. The COMELEC erroneously perceived that the deadline in Section 6 is absolute. The
COMELEC has broad power or authority to fix other dates for special elections to enable the people to exercise their right of suffrage. The COMELEC may fix other
dates for the conduct of special elections when the same cannot be reasonably held within the period prescribed by law. 31

It is thus not novel for this Court to uphold the COMELECs broad power or authority to fix other dates for a plebiscite, as in special elections, to enable the people to
exercise their right of suffrage. The COMELEC thus has residual power to conduct a plebiscite even beyond the deadline prescribed by law. The date 28 October 2013
is reasonably close to 6 April 2013, and there is no reason why the plebiscite should not proceed as scheduled by the COMELEC. The OSG points out that public
interest demands that the plebiscite be conducted.

At this point, there is nothing more for the COMELEC to do except to hold the plebiscite as scheduled on October 18, [sic] 2013. In fact, the COMELEC already
scheduled the shipment and deployment of the election paraphernalia to all the precincts in Davao del Sur, except Davao City.

The COMELEC had put so much work and effort in its preparation for the conduct of the plebiscite. A substantial amount of funds have also been defrayed for the
following election undertakings:

1 Bidding for election paraphernalia;

2 Cleansing of voters registration list;

3 Preparation, bidding, printing and distribution of the voters information;

4 Preparation and completion of the projects of precincts;

5 Printing of ballots;

6 Constitution of the Board of Election Inspectors;

7 Training and assignment of personnel; and

8 Information dissemination campaign.

To demand now that the COMELEC desist from holding the plebiscite would be an utter waste of time, effort and resources, not to mention its detriment to public
interest given that public funds are involved.32

In election law, the right of suffrage should prevail over mere scheduling mishaps in holding elections or plebiscites. Indeed, Cagas insistence that only Congress can
cure the alleged legal infirmity in the date of holding the plebiscite for the creation of the Province of Davao Occidental fails in light of the absence of abuse of
discretion of the COMELEC. Finally, this Court finds it unacceptable to utilize more of our taxpayers time and money by preventing the COMELEC from holding the
plebiscite as now scheduled.

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
ALAN PETER S. CAYETANO, G.R. Nos. 166388 and 166652

Petitioner, January 23, 2006

- versus -

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, MA. SALVACION BUAC


and ANTONIO BAUTISTA,

Respondents.

D E C I S I O N
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Before us for resolution are two (2) petitions for certiorari:[1]

1. G.R. No. 166388

The petition in this case, filed by Congressman Alan Peter S. Cayetano, representing the District of Taguig-Pateros, against the Commission on Elections (COMELEC),
Ma. Salvacion Buac and Antonio Bautista, mainly assails the Resolution of the COMELEC en banc dated December 8, 2004 in EPC No. 98-102 declaring the
ratification and approval, through a plebiscite, of the conversion of the Municipality of Taguig, Metro Manila, into a highly urbanized city. Private respondents are
residents and duly registered voters of Taguig.

2. G.R. No. 166652

The petition here, filed by the same petitioner against the same respondents, questions the (a) COMELEC Resolution dated January 28, 2005 declaring the said
Resolution of December 8, 2004 final and executory; and (b) the recording of the said Resolution in the COMELECs Book of Entry of Judgments dated January 28,
2005.

The facts are:

On April 25, 1998, the COMELEC conducted a plebiscite in Taguig, Metro Manila on the conversion of this municipality into a highly urbanized city as mandated by
Republic Act No. 8487.[2] The residents of Taguig were asked this question: Do you approve the conversion of the Municipality of Taguig, Metro Manila into a highly
urbanized city to be known as the City of Taguig, as provided for in Republic Act No. 8487?

On April 26, 1998, the Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (PBOC), without completing the canvass of sixty-four (64) other election returns, declared that the No
votes won, indicating that the people rejected the conversion of Taguig into a city.
However, upon order of the COMELEC en banc, the PBOC reconvened and completed the canvass of the plebiscite returns, eventually proclaiming that the negative
votes still prevailed.
Alleging that fraud and irregularities attended the casting and counting of votes, private respondents, filed with the COMELEC a petition seeking the annulment of the
announced results of the plebiscite with a prayer for revision and recount of the ballots. The COMELEC treated the petition as an election protest, docketed as EPC No.
98-102. It was raffled to the Second Division.
Petitioner intervened in the case. He then filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over an action
involving the conduct of a plebiscite. He alleged that a plebiscite cannot be the subject of an election protest.
The COMELEC Second Division issued a Resolution granting petitioners motion and dismissing the petition to annul the results of the Taguig plebiscite for
lack of jurisdiction. The COMELEC en banc affirmed this Resolution.
Aggrieved, private respondents filed with this Court a petition for certiorari and mandamus, docketed as G.R. No. 155855, entitled Ma. Salvacion Buac and
Antonio Bautista vs. COMELEC and Alan Peter S. Cayetano. On January 26, 2004, we rendered a Decision reversing the COMELECs Resolution. We held that the
controversy on the conduct of the Taguig plebiscite is a matter that involves the enforcement and administration of a law relative to a plebiscite. It falls under the
jurisdiction of the COMELEC under Section 2 (1), Article IX (C) of the Constitution authorizing it to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the
conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall. Thus, we directed the COMELEC to reinstate the petition to annul the results of the 1998 Taguig
plebiscite and to decide it without delay. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but we denied the same in a Resolution dated February 24, 2004.
Accordingly, on April 19, 2004, the COMELEC Second Division issued an Order in EPC No. 98-102 constituting the committees for the revision/recount of
the plebiscite ballots.
On April 28, 2004, the revision/recount proceedings commenced and upon its termination, the Committees on Revision submitted their complete and final
reports.
Thereafter, the COMELEC Second Division set the case for hearing. As no witnesses were presented by petitioner, the parties were directed to submit their
respective memoranda, which they did.
However, the COMELEC Second Division failed to render a decision as the required number of votes among its members could not be obtained.
Consequently, pursuant to Section 5 (b),[3] Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the case was elevated to the Commission en banc for resolution.[4]
On November 24, 2004, the COMELEC en banc issued an Order considering the case submitted for resolution. On December 8, 2004, it issued the assailed
Resolution declaring and confirming the ratification and approval of the conversion of the Municipality of Taguig into a highly urbanized city, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED.
Considering that 21,105 affirmative votes represent the majority and the highest votes obtained during the 1998 Taguig Plebiscite, this Commission hereby
DECLARES and CONFIRMS the RATIFICATION and APPROVAL of the conversion of the municipality of Taguig into a highly urbanized city.
Let the Election Officer of Taguig and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) implement this Resolution.
SO ORDERED.
Hence, petitioner filed the instant petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 166388, alleging that in rendering the said Resolution, the COMELEC acted with grave
abuse of discretion.
On January 28, 2005, the COMELEC en banc, upon motion of private respondents, issued an Order declaring its Resolution of December 8, 2004 final and
executory as of January 9, 2005 in conformity with Section 13 (a),[5] Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. On the same date, the Resolution of December 8,
2004 was recorded in its Book of Entry of Judgments.
On January 31, 2005, petitioner again filed with this Court a petition for certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 166652, challenging the COMELEC en banc
Order of January 28, 2005 and the corresponding Entry of Judgment. Subsequently, we directed that the case be consolidated with G.R. No. 166388.[6]
At the outset, petitioner himself makes it clear that for the record, as the representative of Taguig and Pateros he is for the cityhood of Taguig. Conversion of
a municipality into a highly urbanized city per se is not appalling; in fact, efforts towards its realization should be welcomed. But (he) firmly believes that Taguig must
become a city the right way, by a fair count of votes and not by twisting the electoral will.[7]
Petitioner contends that the revision of the plebiscite ballots cannot be relied upon for the determination of the will of the electorate because the revision is
incomplete.[8] He claims that:
Based on the Final Report of the Committee on Revision for each of the eight (8) Revision Committees, the revision of ballots yielded
a total of 15,802 votes for Yes and a total of 12,602 votes for No. The revision committee thus canvassed only a total of 28,404 ballots.[9]

Besides, many irregularities, frauds and anomalies attended the revision proceedings.[10] He maintains that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in confirming the ratification and approval of the conversion of Taguig into a highly urbanized city.
In their respective comments, the Solicitor General, on behalf of the COMELEC, and the private respondents vehemently disputed petitioners allegations and
prayed that the instant petitions be dismissed for lack of merit.
Both petitions must fail.
It is clear from petitioners allegations that the matters being raised the alleged incomplete canvass of plebiscite votes during the revision proceedings and the
irregularities, frauds, and anomalies purportedly committed therein are factual in nature. They involve an examination of the admissibility and sufficiency of the
evidence presented during the revision proceedings before the COMELEC. Certainly, this we cannot do in the present special civil actions for certiorari under Rule 65
of the 1987 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. Section 1 of the same Rule confines the power of this Court to resolve issues mainly involving jurisdiction, including
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction attributed to the public respondent.[11]
Nonetheless, in the interest of substantial justice and considering likewise the interest of the residents and voters of the City of Taguig, we still reviewed the evidence
and found that petitioner erred when he alleged that the revision of ballots yielded a total of 15,802 votes for Yes and a total of 12,602 votes for No.
As shown by the records, the COMELEC considered not only the total number of votes reflected in the Final Canvassing Report of the Taguig PBOC, but
also the voting results based on (1) the physical count of the ballots; (2) the returns of the uncontested precincts; and (3) the appreciation of the contested ballots, all
summed up and tallied as follows:[12]

Affirmative Negative
Total Number of Votes Per PBOC Canvassing Report 19,413 21,890
Minus: Number of Invalid Votes 253 419
Minus: Number of Votes Deducted from the Plebiscite
Returns After Physical Count (Table D) 0 2,024
Plus: Number of Votes Added After Physical Count (Table
1,936 0
D)
Plus: Credited Claimed Ballots 9 13
Total 21,105 19,460

The above factual findings of the COMELEC supported by evidence, are accorded, not only respect, but finality.[13] This is so because the conduct of
plebiscite and determination of its result have always been the business of the COMELEC and not the regular courts. Such a case involves the appreciation of ballots
which is best left to the COMELEC. As an independent constitutional body exclusively charged with the power of enforcement and administration of all laws and
regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall, the COMELEC has the indisputable expertise in the field of election and
related laws.[14] Its acts, therefore, enjoy the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties.[15]
In fine, we hold that in issuing the challenged Resolution and Order in these twin petitions, the COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion.
WHEREFORE, the instant petitions are DISMISSED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ
Associate Justice
MIKE A. FERMIN, G.R. No. 172563

Petitioner,

- versus -

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS GARCIA,

and ALIMUDIN A. MACACUA, VELASCO, JR., and

Respondents. NACHURA, JJ.

Promulgated:

April 27, 2007

DECISION

AZCUNA, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari alleging that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in issuing the Orders dated May 9, 2006 and May 16, 2006.

The facts are:

Petitioner Mike A. Fermin and private respondent Alimudin A. Macacua were candidates for Mayor in the May 2004 local elections in the Municipality of Kabuntalan,
Maguindanao. The Municipal Board of Canvassers of Kabuntalan proclaimed petitioner as the duly elected mayor of Kabuntalan. The COMELEC, however, annulled
the proclamation due to the failure of clustered polling Precinct No. 25A/26A to function in Barangay Guiawa, Kabuntalan, Maguindanao. The existence of 264
registered voters in the clustered precinct would affect the results of the election. Thus, the COMELEC scheduled a special election in clustered Precinct No. 25A/26A
on July 28, 2004.

In the special election of July 28, 2004, private respondent was proclaimed as the winning candidate for Mayor. Petitioner challenged the special election due to
alleged procedural infirmities. In a Resolution dated June 2, 2005, the COMELEC nullified the special election. Private respondents proclamation was set aside and the
vice mayor-elect temporarily assumed the mayoralty post.

The COMELEC scheduled another special election for clustered Precinct No. 25A/26A on May 6, 2006. It constituted a Special Municipal Board of Canvassers (SMBOC)
for this purpose. One Hundred Seventy- Eight (178) out of the 264 registered voters cast their votes.

Per SMBOC canvass, petitioner garnered 39 votes, while private respondent obtained 136 votes. When the election results were added, petitioner and private
respondent got 2,208 votes each, ending in a tie.

Pursuant to Sec. 240[1] of the Omnibus Election Code, SMBOC issued a notice suspending its proceedings and setting a Special Public Hearing on May 14, 2006.

In a Memorandum dated May 8, 2006, the SMBOC Chairman submitted to COMELEC a report on the conduct of the second special elections.

On May 9, 2006, private respondent filed with the COMELEC en banc an Extremely Urgent Omnibus Motion:

A. To investigate why the May 6, 2006 Special Election was stopped at 2:15 p.m. with 30 to 40 voters still lined-up to vote;

B. To require the SMBOC of Kabuntalan headed by Atty. Radam and the PNP Contingent headed by a certain Supt. Gunting to show cause why they should
not be held liable for an election offense under paragraphs (e) and (f), Sec. 261 and Sec. 262 of the Omnibus Election Code; and

C. To hold in abeyance the Special Public Hearing set by the Board on May 14, 2006 for purposes of Sec. 240 of the Omnibus Election Code until after the
Commission shall have ruled on the incidents.[2]

On even date, the COMELEC issued the first assailed Order dated May 9, 2006, the dispositive portion of which reads:

The Commission, after due deliberation, hereby orders as follows:

1. to require the petitioner and the Special Municipal Board of Canvassers of Kabuntalan, Maguindanao to file their respective comments within five (5)
days from receipt hereof;

2. to hold in abeyance the Special Public Hearing set by the Special Municipal Board of Canvassers on May 14, 2006; and

3. to set this Extremely Urgent Omnibus Motion for hearing on May 18, 2006 at 10:00 a.m., Comelec Session Hall, 8th Floor, Palacio del Gobernador,
Intramuros, Manila.

SO ORDERED. [3]

Despite the Order dated May 9, 2006, the Special Public Hearing pushed through on May 14, 2006, and the SMBOC proclaimed petitioner as the duly elected Mayor
of Kabuntalan. Private respondent alleged in his Comment[4] that he was absent during the Special Public Hearing.

On May 16, 2006, the COMELEC en banc issued the second assailed Order,[5] which annulled the proceedings of the Special Public Hearing conducted on May 14,
2006 and set aside the proclamation of petitioner.

Hence, this petition.

The issue is whether or not the COMELEC en banc gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in issuing the Orders dated May 9, 2006 and May 16,
2006.
Petitioner claims that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion when it ruled on private respondents Extremely Urgent Motion despite the alleged lack of
sufficient notice to the parties.

The Court is not persuaded.

Sections 3 and 4, Rule 1 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provide:

Sec. 3. Construction.These rules shall be liberally construed in order to promote the effective and efficient implementation of the objectives of ensuring the holding of
free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections and to achieve just expeditious and inexpensive determination and disposition of every action and proceeding
brought before the Commission.

Sec. 4. Suspension of the Rules. -- In the interest of justice and in order to obtain speedy disposition of all matters pending before the Commission, these rules or any
portion thereof may be suspended by the Commission.

Moreover, Pangandaman v. Commission on Elections[6] held:

Section 2 (1) of Article IX (C) of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad power to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an
election, plebiscite, initiative referendum and recall. There can hardly be any doubt that the text and intent of this constitutional provision is to give COMELEC all the
necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the objective of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections.

xxx

More pointedly, this Court recently stated in Tupay Loong v. COMELEC, et al., that [O]ur elections are not conducted under laboratory conditions. x x x Too often,
COMELEC has to make snap judgments to meet unforeseen circumstances that threaten to subvert the will of our voters. In the process, the actions of COMELEC may
not be impeccable, indeed, may even be debatable. We cannot, however, engage in swivel chair criticism of these actions often taken under very difficult
circumstances.

The purpose of the governing statutes on the conduct of elections

. . . [i]s to protect the integrity of elections to suppress all evils that may violate its purity and defeat the will of the voters. The purity of the elections is one of the
most fundamental requisites of popular government. The Commission on Elections, by constitutional mandate, must do everything in its power to secure a fair and
honest canvass of votes cast in the elections. In the performance of its duties, the Commission must be given considerable latitude in adopting means and methods
that will insure the accomplishment of the great objective for which it was created to promote free, orderly, and honest elections. The choice of means taken by the
Commission of Elections, unless they are clearly illegal or constitute grave abuse of discretion, should not be interfered with.[7]

In this case, the assailed Orders were issued by the COMELEC in the performance of its duty to promote free, orderly and honest elections. Private respondents
Extremely Urgent Omnibus Motion invoked COMELECS authority to investigate why the May 6, 2006 Special Election was stopped at 2:15 p.m. with 30 to 40 voters
still lined-up to vote and determine the accountability of the SMBOC of Kabuntalan on the matter.

According to private respondent, a scripted scenario of violence initiated by persons identified with petitioner and abetted by the PNP contingent marred the second
special elections on May 6, 2006. Further, the Chairman of the SMBOC allegedly stopped the election at 2:15 p.m. although there were still voters lined up to vote in
the precinct.

Hence, the COMELEC issued the first Order dated May 9, 2006 requiring petitioner and the SMBOC to file their respective Comments on the omnibus motion, and to
hold in abeyance the Special Public Hearing set on May 14, 2006.

However, despite notice to both parties and the SMBOC, the Special Public Hearing proceeded on May 14, 2006. In its Order dated May 16, 2006, the COMELEC
annulled the proceedings of the Special Public Hearing and set aside the proclamation of petitioner therein as the duly elected mayor of Kabuntalan, evidently for
failure to heed its Order dated May 9, 2006.

Under the circumstances, COMELECs action is not tainted with grave abuse of discretion.

Petitioner also assails the COMELEC for taking cognizance of private respondents omnibus motion although the matters raised therein did not constitute that of a pre-
proclamation controversy, but should have been the subject of a separate criminal prosecution for election offenses.

The argument is without merit.

Under Section 227[8] of the Omnibus Election Code, the COMELEC is vested with the power of direct control and supervision over the board of canvassers; hence, it
took cognizance of the complaint in the omnibus motion which questioned the conduct of the special elections by the SMBOC.

The Solicitor General aptly stated that the COMELEC cannot just cast a blind eye and concede to be powerless in the midst of allegations of electoral fraud and
violence in the second special elections held in Precinct 25A/26A in Kabuntalan, Maguindanao by the mere expedient of an alleged procedural flaw on the part of the
party aggrieved. To do so would be an abandonment of COMELECs constitutionally enshrined duty of ensuring an honest and clean election.

Petitioners allegation of grave abuse of discretion by the COMELEC in issuing the assailed Orders implies capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment amounting to
lack of jurisdiction, or arbitrary and despotic exercise of power because of passion or personal hostility.[9] It is absent in this case.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED. The Orders of the COMELEC dated May 9, 2006 and May 16, 2006 are AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA

Associate Justice
[G.R. No. 108399. July 31, 1997]

RAFAEL M. ALUNAN III, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the BOARD OF ELECTION SUPERVISORS composed
of Atty. RUBEN M. RAMIREZ, Atty. RAFAELITO GARAYBLAS, and Atty. ENRIQUE C. ROA, GUILLERMINA RUSTIA, in her capacity as Director of the Barangay Bureau,
City Treasurer Atty. ANTONIO ACEBEDO, Budget Officer EUFEMIA DOMINGUEZ, all of the City Government of Manila, petitioners, vs. ROBERT MIRASOL, NORMAN
T. SANGUYA, ROBERT DE JOYA, ARNEL R. LORENZO, MARY GRACE ARIAS, RAQUEL L. DOMINGUEZ, LOURDES ASENCIO, FERDINAND ROXAS, MA. ALBERTINA
RICAFORT,and BALAIS M. LOURICH, and the HONORABLE WILFREDO D. REYES,Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 36, Metro Manila, respondents.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision dated January 19, 1993 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 36),[1] nullifying an order of the
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which in effect cancelled the general elections for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) slated on December 4, 1992
in the City of Manila, on the ground that the elections previously held on May 26, 1990 served the purpose of the first elections for the SK under the Local
Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160).

Section 423 of the Code provides for a SK in every barangay, to be composed of a chairman, seven (7) members, a secretary, and a treasurer. Section 532(a) provides
that the first elections for the SK shall be held thirty (30) days after the next local elections. The Code took effect on January 1, 1992.

The first local elections under the Code were held on May 11, 1992. Accordingly, on August 27, 1992, the Commission on Elections issued Resolution No. 2499,
providing guidelines for the holding of the general elections for the SK on September 30, 1992. The guidelines placed the SK elections under the direct control and
supervision of the DILG, with the technical assistance of the COMELEC.[2] After two postponements, the elections were finally scheduled on December 4, 1992.

Accordingly, registration in the six districts of Manila was conducted. A total of 152,363 youngsters, aged 15 to 21 years old, registered, 15,749 of them filing
certificates of candidacies. The City Council passed the necessary appropriations for the elections.

On September 18, 1992, however, the DILG, through then Secretary Rafael M. Alunan III, issued a letter-resolution exempting the City of Manila from holding
elections for the SK on the ground that the elections previously held on May 26, 1990 were to be considered the first under the newly-enacted Local Government
Code. The DILG acted on a letter of Joshue R. Santiago, acting president of the KB City Federation of Manila and a member of City Council of Manila, which called
attention to the fact that in the City of Manila elections for the Kabataang Barangay (the precursor of the Sangguniang Kabataan) had previously been held on May
26, 1990. In its resolution, the DILG stated:

[A] close examination of . . . RA 7160 would readily reveal the intention of the legislature to exempt from the forthcoming Sangguniang Kabataan elections those
kabataang barangay chapters which may have conducted their elections within the period of January 1, 1988 and January 1, 1992 under BP 337. Manifestly the term
of office of those elected KB officials have been correspondingly extended to coincide with the term of office of those who may be elected under RA 7160.

On November 27, 1992 private respondents, claiming to represent the 24,000 members of the Katipunan ng Kabataan, filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus in
the RTC of Manila to set aside the resolution of the DILG. They argued that petitioner Secretary of Interior and Local Government had no power to amend the
resolutions of the COMELEC calling for general elections for SKs and that the DILG resolution in question denied them the equal protection of the laws.

On November 27, 1992, the trial court, through Executive Judge, now COMELEC Chairman, Bernardo P. Pardo, issued an injunction, ordering petitioners to desist from
implementing the order of the respondent Secretary dated September 18, 1992, . . . until further orders of the Court. On the same day, he ordered petitioners to
perform the specified pre-election activities in order to implement Resolution No. 2499 dated August 27, 1992 of the Commission on Elections providing for the
holding of a general election of the Sangguniang Kabataan on December 4, 1992 simultaneously in every barangay throughout the country.

The case was subsequently reraffled to Branch 36 of the same court. On January 19, 1993, the new judge, Hon. Wilfredo D. Reyes, rendered a decision, holding that
(1) the DILG had no power to exempt the City of Manila from holding SK elections on December 4, 1992 because under Art. IX, C, 2(1) of the Constitution the power
to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall is vested solely in the COMELEC;
(2) the COMELEC had already in effect determined that there had been no previous elections for KB by calling for general elections for SK officers in every barangay
without exception; and (3) the exemption of the City of Manila was violative of the equal protection clause of the Constitution because, according to the DILGs
records, in 5,000 barangays KB elections were held between January 1, 1988 and January 1, 1992 but only in the City of Manila, where there were 897 barangays, was
there no elections held on December 4, 1992.

Petitioners sought this review on certiorari. They insist that the City of Manila, having already conducted elections for the KB on May 26, 1990, was exempted from
holding elections on December 4, 1992. In support of their contention, they cite 532(d) of the Local Government Code of 1991, which provides that:

All seats reserved for the pederasyon ng mga sangguniang kabataan in the different sanggunians shall be deemed vacant until such time that the sangguniang
kabataan chairmen shall have been elected and the respective pederasyon presidents have been selected: Provided, That, elections for the kabataang barangay
conducted under Batas Pambansa Blg. 337 at any time between January 1, 1988 and January 1, 1992 shall be considered as the first elections provided for in this
Code. The term of office of the kabataang barangay officials elected within the said period shall be extended correspondingly to coincide with the term of office of
those elected under this Code. (emphasis added)

They maintain that the Secretary of the DILG had authority to determine whether the City of Manila came within the exception clause of 532(d) so as to be exempt
from holding the elections on December 4, 1992.

The preliminary question is whether the holding of the second elections on May 13, 1996[3] rendered this case moot and academic. There are two questions raised in
this case. The first is whether the Secretary of Interior and Local Government can exempt a local government unit from holding elections for SK officers on December
4, 1992 and the second is whether the COMELEC can provide that the Department of Interior and Local Government shall have direct control and supervision over the
election of sangguniang kabataan with the technical assistance by the Commission on Elections.

We hold that this case is not moot and that it is in fact necessary to decide the issues raised by the parties. For one thing, doubt may be cast on the validity of the acts
of those elected in the May 26, 1990 KB elections in Manila because this Court enjoined the enforcement of the decision of the trial court and these officers
continued in office until May 13, 1996. For another, this case comes within the rule that courts will decide a question otherwise moot and academic if it is capable of
repetition, yet evading review.[4] For the question whether the COMELEC can validly vest in the DILG the control and supervision of SK elections is likely to arise in
connection with every SK election and yet the question may not be decided before the date of such elections.

In the Southern Pacific Terminal case, where the rule was first articulated, appellants were ordered by the Interstate Commerce Commission to cease and desist from
granting a shipper what the ICC perceived to be preferences and advantages with respect to wharfage charges. The cease and desist order was for a period of about
two years, from September 1, 1908 (subsequently extended to November 15), but the U.S. Supreme Court had not been able to hand down its decision by the time
the cease and desist order expired. The case was decided only on February 20, 1911, more than two years after the order had expired. Hence, it was contended that
the case had thereby become moot and the appeal should be dismissed. In rejecting this contention, the Court held:

The question involved in the orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission are usually continuing (as are manifestly those in the case at bar), and these
considerations ought not to be, as they might be, defeated, by short-term orders, capable of repetition, yet evading review, and at one time the government, and at
another time the carriers, have their rights determined by the Commission without a chance of redress.[5]
In Roe v. Wade,[6] petitioner, a pregnant woman, brought suit in 1970 challenging anti-abortion statutes of Texas and Georgia on the ground that she had a
constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy at least within the first trimester. The case was not decided until 1973 when she was no longer pregnant. But the U.S.
Supreme Court refused to dismiss the case as moot. It was explained: [W]hen, as here, pregnancy is a significant fact in the litigation, the normal 266-day human
gestation period is so short that the pregnancy will come to term before the usual appellate process is complete. If that termination makes a case moot, pregnancy
litigation seldom will survive. Our laws should not be that rigid. Pregnancy provides a classic justification for a conclusion of nonmootness. It truly could be capable of
repetition, yet evading review.[7]

We thus reach the merits of the questions raised in this case. The first question is whether then DILG Secretary Rafael M. Alunan III had authority to determine
whether under 532(d) of the Local Government Code, the City of Manila was required to hold its first elections for SK. As already stated, petitioners sustain the
affirmative side of the proposition. On the other hand, respondents argue that this is a power which Art.IX,C, 2(1) of the Constitution vests in the COMELEC.
Respondents further argue that, by mandating that elections for the SK be held on December 4, 1992 in every barangay, the COMELEC in effect determined that there
had been no elections for the KB previously held in the City of Manila.

We find the petition to be meritorious.

First. As already stated, by 4 of Resolution No. 2499, the COMELEC placed the SK elections under the direct control and supervision of the DILG. Contrary to
respondents contention, this did not contravene Art. IX, C, 2(1) of the Constitution which provides that the COMELEC shall have the power to enforce and administer
all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall. Elections for SK officers are not subject to the supervision
of the COMELEC in the same way that, as we have recently held, contests involving elections of SK officials do not fall within the jurisdiction of the COMELEC. In
Mercado v. Board of Election Supervisors,[8] it was contended that

COMELEC Resolution No. 2499 is null and void because: (a) it prescribes a separate set of rules for the election of the SK Chairman different from and inconsistent
with that set forth in the Omnibus Election Code, thereby contravening Section 2, Article 1 of the said Code which explicitly provides that it shall govern all elections
of public officers; and, (b) it constitutes a total, absolute, and complete abdication by the COMELEC of its constitutionally and statutorily mandated duty to enforce
and administer all election laws as provided for in Section 2(1), Article IX-C of the Constitution; Section 52, Article VIII of the Omnibus Election Code; and Section 2,
Chapter 1, Subtitle C, Title 1, Book V of the 1987 Administrative Code.[9]

Rejecting this contention, this Court, through Justice Davide, held:

Section 252 of the Omnibus Election Code and that portion of paragraph (2), Section 2, Article IX-C of the Constitution on the COMELECs exclusive appellate
jurisdiction over contests involving elective barangay officials refer to the elective barangay officials under the pertinent laws in force at the time the Omnibus
Election Code was enacted and upon the ratification of the Constitution. That law was B.P. Blg. 337, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, and the elective
barangay officials referred to were the punong barangay and the six sangguniang bayan members. They were to be elected by those qualified to exercise the right of
suffrage. They are also the same officers referred to by the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines on election of barangay officials. Metropolitan
and municipal trial courts had exclusive original jurisdiction over contests relating to their election. The decisions of these courts were appealable to the Regional Trial
Courts.

....

In the light of the foregoing, it is indisputable that contests involving elections of SK (formerly KB) officials do not fall within Section 252 of the Omnibus Election Code
and paragraph 2, Section 2, Article IX-C of the Constitution and that no law in effect prior to the ratification of the Constitution had made the SK chairman an elective
barangay official. His being an ex-officio member of the sangguniang barangay does not make him one for the law specifically provides who are its elective members,
viz., the punong barangay and the seven regular sangguniang barangay members who are elected at large by those who are qualified to exercise the right of suffrage
under Article V of the Constitution and who are duly registered voters of the barangay.[10]

The choice of the DILG for the task in question was appropriate and was in line with the legislative policy evident in several statutes. Thus, P.D. No. 684 (April 15,
1975), in creating Kabataang Barangays in every barangay throughout the country, provided in 6 that the Secretary of Local Government and Community
Development shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be deemed necessary to effectively implement the provisions of this Decree. Again, in 1985
Proclamation No. 2421 of the President of the Philippines, in calling for the general elections of the Kabataang Barangay on July 13-14, 1985, tasked the then Ministry
of Local Government, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, and the Commission on Elections to assist the Kabataang Barangay in the conduct of the
elections. On the other hand, in a Memorandum Circular dated March 7, 1988, President Corazon C. Aquino directed the Secretary of Local Government to issue the
necessary rules and regulations for effecting the representation of the Kabataang Barangay, among other sectors, in the legislative bodies of the local government
units.

The role of the COMELEC in the 1992 elections for SK officers was by no means inconsequential. DILG supervision was to be exercised within the framework of
detailed and comprehensive rules embodied in Resolution No. 2499 of the COMELEC. What was left to the DILG to perform was the enforcement of the rules.

Second. It is contended that, in its resolution in question, the COMELEC did not name the barangays which, because they had conducted kabataang barangay
elections between January 1, 1988 and January 1, 1992, were not included in the SK elections to be held on December 4, 1992. That these barangays were precisely
to be determined by the DILG is, however, fairly inferable from the authority given to the DILG to supervise the conduct of the elections. Since 532(d) provided for
kabataang barangay officials whose term of office was extended beyond 1992, the authority to supervise the conduct of elections in that year must necessarily be
deemed to include the authority to determine which kabataang barangay would not be included in the 1992 elections.

The authority granted was nothing more than the ascertainment of a fact, namely, whether between January 1, 1988 and January 1, 1992 elections had been held in a
given kabataang barangay. If elections had been conducted, then no new elections had to be held on December 4, 1992 since by virtue of 532(d) the term of office of
the kabataang barangay officials so elected was extended correspondingly to coincide with the term of office of those elected under [the Local Government Code of
1991]. In doing this, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government was to act merely as the agent of the legislative department, to determine and declare the event
upon which its expressed will was to take effect.[11] There was no undue delegation of legislative power but only of the discretion as to the execution of a law. That
this is constitutionally permissible is the teaching of our cases.[12]

Third. Respondents claim, however, that the May 26, 1990 KB elections in Manila were void because (a) they were called at the instance of then Mayor Gemiliano C.
Lopez who did not have authority to do so and (b) it was not held under COMELEC supervision.

The 1990 elections for the Kabataang Barangay were called by then Manila Mayor Gemiliano C. Lopez, Jr., who in his Executive Order No. 21 dated April 25, 1990
stated:

WHEREAS, the Kabataang Barangay as an organization provided for under Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, has been practically dormant since the advent of the present
national administration;

WHEREAS, there is an urgent need to involve the youth in the affairs and undertakings of the government to ensure the participation of all sectors of our population
in the task of nation building;

WHEREAS, the last elections for the Kabataang Barangay officers were held in November 1985 yet, which is over their three years term of office;

WHEREAS, most of the present crop of KB officers are way past the age limit provided for under the law;

....
The elections were actually held on May 26, 1990 in the 897 barangays of Manila. Later, on June 30, 1990, KB City Federation elections were conducted.

It was precisely to foreclose any question regarding the validity of KB elections held in the aftermath of the EDSA revolution and upon the effectivity of the new Local
Government Code that the exception clause of 532(d) was inserted. The proceedings of the Bicameral Conference Committee which drafted the Code show the
following:[13]

CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO: Isa-cite na lang ko ano iyong title o chapter o section, ha!

HON. LINA: . . .

Page 436, lines 13 to 14 delete within eighteen months prior to December 31, 1990, and in lieu thereof, insert from 1988 up to the effectivity of the Code. The
rationale. . . .

CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO: How should it be read?

HON. LINA: It will read as follows: Provided however, that the Local Government Units which have conducted elections for the Kabataang Barangay as provided for, in
Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, up to the effectivity. . . .

CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO: So, any deletion from the word within, ha, up to. . . .

HON. LINA: Remove the words, the phrase, within eighteen months prior to December 31, 1990, and insert from 1988 up to the effectivity of this Code.

CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO: From?

HON. LINA: From 1988 up to the effectivity of this Code. Kasi meron nang mga election, eh, na ginawa, eh. There are five thousand barangays, based on the record of
the DILG, out of forty thousand, imagine that, na nag-conduct na ng election nila based on the KB Constitution and By-Laws, and theyre sitting already, now if we do
not recognize that, mag[ka]karoon sila ng question.

CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO: Accepted, Mr. Chairman.

Section 532(d) may thus be deemed to be a curative law. Curative laws, which in essence are retrospective in effect, are enacted to validate acts done which
otherwise would be invalid under existing laws, by considering them as having complied with the existing laws. Such laws are recognized in this jurisdiction.[14]

Fourth. It is finally contended that the exemption of the barangays of the City of Manila from the requirement to hold elections for SK officers on December 4, 1992
would deny the youth voters in those barangays of the equal protection of laws. Respondents claim that only in the barangays in the City of Manila, which then
numbered 897, were elections for SK not held in 1992 on the ground that between January 1, 1988 and January 1, 1992 there had already been SK elections held,
when, according to petitioners own evidence, during that period, SK elections had actually been conducted in 5,000 barangays.

Whether this claim is true cannot be ascertained from the records of this case. Merely showing that there were 5,000 barangays which similarly held KB elections
between January 1, 1988 and January 1, 1992 does not prove that despite that fact these same barangays were permitted to hold elections on December 4, 1992. For
one thing, according to the Manila Bulletin issue of November 18, 1992 (p. 9), 568 barangays in the Province of Bulacan did not have SK elections on December 4,
1992 either, because they already had elections between January 1, 1988 and January 1, 1992. For another, even assuming that only barangays in Manila were not
permitted to hold SK elections on December 4, 1992 while the rest of the 5,000 barangays were allowed even if KB elections had already been held there before, this
fact does not give the youth voters in the 897 Manila barangays ground for complaint because what the other barangays did was contrary to law. There is no
discrimination here.

In People v. Vera[15] this Court struck down the Probation Law because it permitted unequal application of its benefits by making its applicability depend on the
decision of provincial governments to appropriate or not to appropriate funds for the salaries of probation officers, with the result that those not disposed to allow
the benefits of probations to be enjoyed by their inhabitants could simply omit to provide for the salaries of probation officers. The difference between that case and
the one at bar lies in the fact that what youth voters in the other barangays might have been allowed was not a right which was denied to youth voters in Manila. If
those barangays were not entitled to have SK elections on December 4, 1992 but nevertheless were allowed to have such elections, that fact did not mean those in
Manila should similarly have been allowed to conduct elections on December 4, 1992 because the fact was that they already had their own, just two years before on
May 26, 1990. Respondents equal protection argument violates the dictum that one wrong does not make another wrong right.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 36 is REVERSED and the case filed against petitioner by private respondents is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
May 31, 2016

G.R. No. 217725

GLENN A CHIONG and ANG KAPATIRAN PARTY, represented by NORMAN V. CABRERA, Petitioners,
vs.
SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. DRILON; HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, represented by
SPEAKER FELICIANO S. BELMOTE, JR.; COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, represented by ACTING CHAIRPERSON CHRISTIAN ROBERT S. LIM;
ADVISORY COUNCIL, represented by UNDERSECRETARY LOUIS NAPOLEON C. CASAMBRE; TECHNICAL EVALUATION COMMITTEE,
represented by DOST SECRETARY MARIO G. MONTEJO; DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, headed by SECRETARY
FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Respondents.

DECISION

REYES, J.:

This petition for certiorari1 and/or prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or a temporary restraining order, assails the
constitutionality of Sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8436,2 as amended by Section 93 of R.A. No. 9369,4 providing for the creation of an Advisory
Council (AC) and a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC), on the ground that it encroaches on the Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) mandate to administer and
enforce all laws relating to the elections as provided for in Section 2( 1),5 Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution.

The Facts

The factual background of this case dates back to the enactment of R.A. No. 8436 on December 22, 1997 authorizing the adoption of an automated election system
(AES) in the May 11, 1998 national and local elections and onwards. On January 23, 2007, R.A. No. 9369 was signed into law, amending R.A. No. 8436. Of particular
relevance in R.A. No. 9369 are Sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 which calls for the creation of the AC and the TEC.

In Roque, Jr., et al. v. COMELEC, et al.,6 the Court stated that the AC is to recommend, among other functions, the most appropriate, secure, applicable and cost-
effective technology to be applied to the AES; while the TEC is tasked to certify, through an established international certification committee, not later than three
months before the elections, by categorically stating that the AES, inclusive of its hardware and software components, is operating properly and accurately based on
defined and documented standards.7

Nevertheless, almost eight years after the passage of R.A. No. 9369, and almost six years after the conclusion of the 2010 elections, and just several months before the
2016 elections, Glenn Chong and Ang Kapatiran Party (petitioners) came to this Court to assail the constitutionality of the creation of the AC and the TEC. According
to the petitioners: (1) the AC and the TEC are so patently incompatible with a functioning COMELEC; (2) a mere AC should not be allowed to dictate upon the
COMELEC in regard with the technology to be applied in the AES; and (3) the recommendation of the AC for the COMELEC to re-use the Precinct Count Optical
Scan machines, Consolidation and Canvassing System, peripherals, laptops, equipment, software, etcetera, in the 2016 elections, as well as its past actions, are patent
nullities. In compliance with the Court's Resolution8 dated June 16, 2015, the respondents submitted its Comment.9 Summing up the arguments of the respondents, they
essentially stated that: (1) the existence of the AC and the TEC does not limit or prevent the exercise of the COMELEC's constitutional mandate to enforce election
laws; (2) the AC and the TEC merely ensure that the COMELEC will put in place an effective AES that will clearly and accurately reflect the will of the sovereign
people; (3) the power to provide these safeguards is within the authority of the Congress, whose power includes the power to ensure the faithful execution of its
policies; and (4) the assailed provisions of R.A. No. 8436, as amended by Section 9 of R.A. No. 9369 enjoys the presumption of constitutionality.

The Issue

The crux of this petition is whether Sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 of R.A. No. 8436, as amended by Section 9 of R.A. No. 9369, insofar as they provide for the creation of the
AC and the TEC, are unconstitutional for allegedly being violative of Section 2(1), Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution.

Ruling of the Court

The petition has no merit.

The petitioners conclude that with the creation of the AC and the TEC, pursuant to Sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 of R.A. No. 8436, the Congress undermine the
independence of the COMELEC and infringe upon its power.

The Court, however, finds that the petitioners' thesis finds no support in the evidence presented. A careful examination of the assailed provisions would reveal that the
AC and the TEC's functions are merely advisory and recommendatory in nature. The AC' s primordial task is to recommend the most appropriate technology to the
AES, while the TEC's sole function is to certify that the AES, including its hardware and software components, is operating properly, securely and accurately, in
accordance with the provisions of law.

The functions of the AC are recommendatory, as can be gleaned from the assailed provision itself in Section 9 of R.A. No. 8436 which provides that the functions of the
AC are merely to recommend, to provide advice and/or assistance, and to participate as nonvoting members with respect to the COMELEC's fulfillment of its mandate
and authority to use the AES, and which in all instances, is subject to the approval and final decision of the COMELEC. On the other hand, the TEC's exclusive
function is to certify, through an established international certification entity to be chosen by the COMELEC from the recommendations of the AC that the AES,
including its hardware and software components, is operating properly, securely, and accurately, in accordance with the provisions of law.

The Court has conspicuously observed that the petitioners expediently removed in their petition the following paragraph when they quoted Section 9 of R.A. No. 9369
which amended Section 9 of R.A. No. 8436, which recognizes the authority of the COMELEC to enforce the said laws:

Nothing in the role of the Council or any outside intervention or influence shall be construed as an abdication or diminution of the Commission's authority and
responsibility for the effective development, management and implementation of the AES and this Act.

Evidently, the AC and the TEC were created to aid the COMELEC in fulfilling its mandate and authority to use an effective AES for free, orderly, honest, peaceful,
credible and informed elections. The actions of the AC and the TEC neither bind nor prohibit the COMELEC from enforcing and administering election laws.

Moreso, the AC and the TEC are not permanent in nature. This is evident in Sections 8 and 11 of R.A. No. 8436, as amended.1awp++i1 The AC shall be convened not
later than 18 months prior to the next scheduled electoral exercise, and deactivated six months after completion of canvassing, while the TEC shall be immediately
convened within 10 days after the effectivity of R.A. No. 9369; however, the TEC shall make the certification not later than three months before the date of the electoral
exercises.

Lastly, the petitioners have failed to discharge the burden of overcoming the presumption that the assailed provisions are valid and constitutional since they failed to
present substantial evidence to support their claim.
Besides, the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9369 has already been upheld by this Court in Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT)
Party-List v. COMELEC. 10 In the said case, therein petitioners alleged that R.A. No. 9369 violates Section 26(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, claiming that the
title of R.A. No. 9369 is misleading because it speaks of poll automation but contains substantial provisions dealing with the manual canvassing of election returns.
They further alleged that Sections 34, 37, 38, and 43 are neither embraced in the title nor germane to the subject matter of R.A. No. 9369. The Court then sustained the
constitutionality of R.A. No. 9369 holding that a title which declares a statute to be an act to amend a specified code is sufficient and the precise nature of the
amendatory act need not be further stated. Moreso, the assailed provisions dealing with the amendments to specific provisions of R.A. No. 716611 and Batas Pambansa
Bilang 88112 are likewise germane to the subject matter of R.A. No. 9369.

Settled is the rule that every law is presumed valid.13 Courts are to adopt a liberal interpretation in favor of the constitutionality of legislation, as Congress is deemed to
have enacted a valid, sensible, and just law.14 To strike down a law as unconstitutional, the petitioners have the burden to prove a clear and unequivocal breach of the
Constitution. In case of doubt in the sufficiency of proof establishing unconstitutionality, the Court must sustain legislation because to invalidate a law based on
baseless supposition is an affront to the wisdom not only of the legislature that passed it but also of the executive which approved it.15

All told, the Court finds no clear violation of the Constitution which would warrant a pronouncement that Sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 of R.A. No. 8436, as amended by
Section 9 of R.A. No. 9369, are unconstitutional and void. The power to enforce and administer R.A. No. 8436, as amended by R.A. No. 9369, is still exclusively
lodged in the COMELEC, and the AC and the TEC may not substitute its own opinion for the judgment of the COMELEC, thus:

In sum, the Congress created the [AC] and the TEC not to encroach upon the exclusive power of the COMELEC to enforce and administer laws relating to the conduct
of the elections, but to (1) ensure that the COMELEC is guided and assisted by experts in the field of technology in adopting the most effective and efficient [AES]; and
(2) to ensure clean elections by having disinterested parties closely monitor the COMELEC in procuring systems that operate properly, securely, and accurately. As
such, it is apparent that, through the [AC] and the TEC, the Congress merely checks and balances the power of the COMELEC to enforce and administer R.A. No.
8436, as amended by R.A. No. 9369. It does not, however, substitute its own wisdom for that of the COMELEC.16

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

BIENVENIDO L. REYES**
Associate Justice
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 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 Code2 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 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 Foreign-Assisted, 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 injury shall 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:

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.

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

THE PETITION DATED 09 APRIL 1992 FILED WITH PUBLIC RESPONDENT IS COMPLETELY BASELESS SINCE:

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.

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
course8 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
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 IX-C 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

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 non-feasance, 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 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, the Zaldivar 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 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 done
motu 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.
G.R. No. 97108-09 March 4, 1992

DANIEL GARCIA and TEODORO O' HARA, petitioners,

vs.

ERNESTO DE JESUS and CECILIA DAVID, and THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondents.

G.R. Nos. 97108-09 March 4, 1992

TOMAS TOBON UY, petitioners,

vs.

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and JOSE C. NEYRA, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

The jurisdiction of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to issue Writs of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus in electoral contests involving
municipal and barangay officials is the common question addressed in these election cases, hence, their consolidation.

The antecedent facts follow:

(1) G.R. No. 88158 (The Antipolo Case)

In the 18 January 1988 local elections. Petitioners Daniel GARCIA and Teodoro O' HARA were the winning candidates for Mayor and Vice Mayor,
respectively, of Antipolo, Rizal. They were proclaimed as such on 22 January 1988.

On 1 February 1988, Private Respondents Ernesto DE JESUS and Cecilia DAVID instituted an election protest before the Regional Trial Court of
Antipolo, Rizal, Branch 72 (RTC), docketed as Election Case No. 02-A, where the results in twenty-five (25) precincts were put in issue.

On 25 July 1988, the RTC issued an Order directing the delivery to it of all ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia used in the 25 protested
precincts so that the ballots could be examined and the votes recounted.

After five (5) ballot boxes were already examined and revised, Petitioners' newly-hired counsel moved for the suspension of the hearing being conducted
on 18 September 1988 alleging that an error was committed in the proceedings because there was no basis for the opening of the ballot boxes. He
contended that the irregularities alleged in the election protest do not relate to the appreciation of ballots and thus, the opening of those boxes would not
effect the result of the election.

On 26 September 1988, Petitioners GARCIA and O' HARA filed before the RTC a "Motion To Dismiss Opening of Ballot Boxes And/Or To Dismiss The
Protest" which was premised on the ground that the allegations in the election protest were merely self-serving.

Acting on the aforesaid Motion, the RTC issued an Order dated 28 October 1988, amending its Order Dated 25 July 1988, limiting the opening of ballot
boxes to only nine (9) precincts out of the 25 protested ones, and limiting the examination of the ballot boxes only to those anomalies specified in the
annexes attached to the election protest by Respondents DE JESUS and DAVID.

The latter moved for reconsideration thereof which was denied by the RTC, in an Order dated 27 December 1988. On 9 January 1989, Respondents DE
JESUS and DAVID filed a Petition for certiorari and mandamus before the COMELEC, docketed as SPR No. 2-89, which sought to nullify the RTC Order
limiting the examination of ballot boxes to only 9 precincts.

On 13 January 1989, respondent COMELEC temporarily restrained the proceedings before the RTC and set for hearing Respondents DAVID and DE
JESUS' application for Preliminary Injunction on 29 January 1989.

Petitioners GARCIA and O' HARA, meanwhile, registered their objection to the assumption of jurisdiction by the COMELEC over the Petition for
certiorari and mandamus through their "Manifestation With Motion To Dismiss." It was their contention that the COMELEC was not empowered to take
cognizance of Petitions for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus.

After the parties had filed their respective pleadings, the COMELEC issued the questioned Decision, dated 27 April 1989, which directed the RTC to
open all the ballot boxes in the 25 protested precincts.

(2) G.R. Nos. 97108-09 (The Isabela Case)

After the canvass of election returns was made in the same local elections, Respondent Jose C. NEYRA was proclaimed Mayor of Gamu, Isabela over
Petitioner Tomas TOBON UY, with a plurality of 28 votes.

Petitioner TOBON UY filed an election protest before the Regional Trial Court of Ilagan, isabela, Branch 16 (RTC), docketed as Election Case No. 369.
On 7 January 1991, the RTC declared TOBON UY the winner "by a majority of five (5) votes" over (RTC Decision, p. 24). On the same date that said
RTC Decision was promulgated, NEYRA filed a "Notice of Appeal," and TOBON UY, a "Motion for Execution Pending Appeal," with the latter pleading
set for hearing on 10 January 1991.

The day before, or on 9 January 1991, NEYRA filed before the COMELEC a Petition for Certiorari and/or Prohibition, docketed as SPR No. 1-91,
seeking to enjoin the RTC from further acting on TOBON UY's aforesaid "Motion for Execution Pending Appeal."

On 10 January 1991, the RTC, after due hearing, gave due course to NEYRA's appeal, granted execution pending appeal stating the special reasons
therefor, and required TOBON UY to post a bond in the amount of P300,000.00. On the same date, the COMELEC issued a Temporary Restraining
Order enjoining the RTC from further proceeding with the case. NEYRA's application for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction was likewise set for hearing by
the COMELEC on 24 January 1991.
On 15 January 1991, NEYRA filed a second Petition for Certiorari and/or Prohibition before the COMELEC, docketed as SPR No. 2-91. This time, he
sought to set aside the RTC Order, dated 10 January 1991, which granted TOBON UY's "Motion for Execution Pending Appeal.

The COMELEC took cognizance of both Certiorari Petitions and, on 15 February 1991, issued the questioned Resolution (in SPR Nos. 1-91 & 2-91),
declaring as null and void and Writ of Execution Pending Appeal granted by the RTC, premised on Rule 35, Section 18, of its Rules of Procedure, and
enjoining TOBON UY from "assuming the office and performing in whatever and however manner the duties of Mayor of Gamu, Isabela, until the final
disposition of the appeal.

Principally, Petitioners GARCIA and O'HARA in G.R. No. 88156, and Petitioner TOBON UY in G.R. Nos. 97108-09, question the arrogation unto itself by
the COMELEC of the power of issue Writs of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus. They invoke the previous ruling of this Court in Pimentel v.
COMELEC (G.R. Nos. 53581-83, 19 December 1980, 101 SCRA 769), which maintained that no such jurisdiction was ever conferred on respondent
Commission by the 1973 Constitution or by law.

On the other hand, all Respondents in the Antipolo Case (G.R. No. 88185) and in the Isabela Case (G.R. Nos. 97108-09) contend that since the 1987
Constitution now expressly empowers the COMELEC to exercise "appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by
trial courts of general jurisdiction" (Section 2[2], Article IX-C), and to "promulgate its own rules concerning pleadings and practice before it" provided they
do "not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights" (Section 6, Article IX-A and Section 3, Article IX-C), the COMELEC validly promulgated the rule
which empowers it to issue the special Writs.

As a subsidiary issue, Petitioners GARCIA and O'HARA maintain that the COMELEC denied them due process in the Antipolo Case (G.R. No. 88158)
when it rendered its questioned Decision without benefit of hearing. For his part, TOBON UY, in the Isabela Case (G.R. Nos. 97108-09), raises the
question of whether or not Regional Trial Courts have the authority to order execution pending appeal in election contests decided by it. His view is that
said Courts possess that authority. Respondent NEYRA contends otherwise.

In the absence of any specific conferment upon the COMELEC, either by the Constitution or by legislative fiat, the COMELEC is bereft of jurisdiction to
issue said Writs.

It is the COMELEC alone, invoking its Constitutionally invested appellate jurisdiction and rule-making power, that arrogated unto itself the authority to
issue Writs of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus in Rule 28, Section 1, of its Rules of Procedure, thus:

SECTION 1. When available. In aid of its appellate jurisdiction in election cases before courts of general jurisdiction relating to
the elections, returns and qualifications of elective municipal officials, and before courts of limited jurisdiction in cases relating to the
elections, returns and qualifications of elective barangay officials, the Commission en banc may hear and decide petitions for
certiorari, prohibition and mandamus."

However, neither the appellate jurisdiction of the COMELEC nor its rule-making power justifies such self-conferment of authority.

Jurisdiction, or the legal power to hear and determine a cause or causes of action, must exist as a matter of law. It may be classified into original
jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction is the power of the Court to take judicial cognizance of a case instituted for judicial action for
the first time under conditions provided by law. Appellate jurisdiction is the authority of a Court higher in rank to re-examine the final order or judgment of
a lower Court which tried the case now elevated for judicial review (Remedial Law Compendium, Regalado, Florenz D., Fifth Revised Edition, Vol. I, p.
3). Since the two jurisdiction are exclusive of each other, each must be expressly conferred by law. One does not flow from, nor is inferred from, the
other.

In the Philippine setting, the authority to issue Writs of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus involves the exercise of original jurisdiction. Thus, such
authority has always been expressly conferred, either by the Constitution or by law. As a mater of fact, the well-settled rule is that jurisdiction is conferred
only by the Constitution or by law (Orosa, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-22488, 26 October 1967, 21 SCRA 519). It is never derived by implication.
Indeed, "(w)hile the power to issue the writ of certiorari is in some instance conferred on all courts by constitutional or statutory provisions, ordinarily, the
particular courts which have such power are expressly designated" (J. Aquino's Concurring Opinion in Pimentel, supra, citing 14 C.J.S. 202;
Underscoring ours).

Thus, our Courts exercise the power to issue Writs of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus by virtue of express constitutional grant or legislative
enactment. To enumerate:

(1) Section 5[1], Article VII of the 1987 Constitution conferred upon this Court such jurisdiction;

(2) Section 9[1] of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, or the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, to the Court of Appeals (then
Intermediate Appellate Court);

(3) Section 21[1] of the said Act, to Regional Trial Courts;

(4) Section 5[1] of Republic Act No. 6734, or the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, to the newly created
Shari'ah Appellate Court; and

(5) Article 143[e], Chapter I, Title I, Book IV of Presidential Decree No. 1083, or the Code of Muslim Personal Law, to Shari'a District
Courts.

Significantly, what the Constitution granted the COMELEC was appellate jurisdiction. The Constitution makes no mention of any power given the
COMELEC to exercise original jurisdiction over Petitioners for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus unlike in the case of the Supreme Court which was
specifically conferred such authority (Art. VIII, Sec. 5[1]). The immutable doctrine being that jurisdiction is fixed by law, the power to issue such Writs can
not be implied from the mere existence of appellate jurisdiction. Just as implied repeal of statutes are frowned upon, so also should the grant of original
jurisdiction by mere implication to a quasi-judicial body tabooed. If appellate jurisdiction has to be statutorily granted, how much more the original
jurisdiction to issue the prerogative Writs?

Apparently, the COMELEC Rule on its certiorari jurisdiction is patterned after the previous authorization to the Court of Appeals to issue Writs of
Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. That authority, however, was not inherent in the Court of Appeals but was
specifically conferred by Section 30 of the Judiciary Act (Rep. Act No. 296) and Section 9(1) of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 (B.P. Blg. 129).
It does not follow that just because the 1987 Constitution, without more, it can issue such Writs in aid of that appellate jurisdiction.

The view that the subject Writs are but common-law Writs not owing their existence to any constitutional provision or statutory enactment may be true in
foreign jurisdictions but not in the Philippine judicial system where such Writs are specifically characterized as original Special Civil Actions (Rule 65,
Rules of court). It is original jurisdiction, that is exercised in the issuance of said Writs. And although there may be authorities in other jurisdictions which
maintain that such Writs are inherent in the power of higher Courts exercising appellate jurisdiction, the same refers to judicial tribunals, which the
COMELEC is not. What this agency exercises are administrative and quasi-judicial powers (Filipinas Engineering and Machine Shop vs. Ferrer, G.R.
No. L-31455, 28 February 1985, 135 SCRA 25).

As defined, Certiorari "is a writ from a superior court to an inferior court or tribunal commanding the later to send up the record of a particular case"
(Pimentel v. COMELEC, supra). The function of a Writ of Certiorari is to keep an inferior court Within the bounds of its jurisdiction or to prevent it from
committing such a grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction (Central Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 41859, 8
March 1989, 171 SCRA 49). The grant of appellate jurisdiction to the COMELEC does not necessarily make it a "superior Court" vs-a-vis Regional Trial
Courts. In fact, in People v. Delgado (G.R. Nos. 93419-32 18 September 1990, 189 SCRA 715), we ruled that Regional Trial Courts have jurisdiction to
review the actions taken by the COMELEC in criminal prosecutions for violations of election laws. This, notwithstanding the grant to the COMELEC of
"exclusive power" to conduct preliminary investigations of all election offenses punishable under Section 265 of the Omnibus Election Code.

The power vested in the COMELEC to promulgate its Rules of procedure neither confers upon itself the jurisdiction to issue the prerogative Writs.
Procedure, as distinguished from jurisdiction, is the means by which the power or authority of a Court to hear and decide a class of cases is put into
action (Manila Railroad Co. v. Attorney General, 20 Phil. 523). Rules of procedure are remedial in nature and not substative. They cover only rules on
pleadings and practice. And in respect of the COMELEC, the authority to promulgate its rules of procedure was specifically "in order to expedite
disposition of cases" (Section 3, Article IX-C). That limited purpose can not be expanded to include the conferment upon itself of jurisdiction which is
substantive in nature and can only be fixed by law.

The doctrine laid down in Pimentel, supra, holding that the COMELEC has not been invested with jurisdiction to issue the Writs in question, therefore,
still finds application under the 1987 Constitution. Said case also involved an elective municipal official except that it was decided under the regime of
the 1973 Constitution and the 1978 Election Code (Pres. Decree No. 1296).

There is no gainsaying that, unlike the 1987 Constitution, the 1973 Constitution, the 1973 Constitution did not grant appellate jurisdiction to the
COMELEC over election contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial court of general jurisdiction. Nonetheless, such appellate
jurisdiction was conferred upon it by Section 196 of the 1978 Election Code (Pre. Decree No. 1296), reading:

Section 196. Appeal. From any decision rendered by the Court of First Instance in the cases stated in Section 190 hereof, the
aggrieved party may appeal to the Commission within five days after receipt of a copy of the decision; Provided, That no motion for
reconsideration shall be entertained by the court (Underscoring ours)

The appeal shall proceed as in a criminal case and shall be decided within sixty days after the case has been submitted for
decision.

Section 190 referred to in the first paragraph deals with election contests for municipal and municipal district offices.

Again, while the 1973 Constitution did not empower the COMELEC to promulgate its own rules of procedure, Section 192 of the same 1978 Election
Code granted it such powers. Thus:

Section 192. Procedure in election contests. The Commission shall prescribe the rules to govern the procedure and other matters
relating to election contests pertaining to all national, regional, provincial, city municipal and barangay offices. Such rules shall
provide a simple and inexpensive procedure for the expeditious disposition of election contests (Underscoring ours).

It would appear, therefore, that what were merely statutory provisions under the 1978 Election Code became constitutional grants under the 1987
Constitution. Significantly, however, neither the 1973 Constitution nor the 1987 Constitution expressly confers upon the COMELEC the jurisdiction to
issue Writs of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus. In essence, therefore, the statutory set-up in the present Petition and in Pimentel, insofar as the
COMELEC power to issue those WRITS is concerned, is on all fours.

Then, as now, there is no specific grant to the COMELEC, either in the Constitution or by legislative fiat of jurisdiction over said petitions.

It may be that, as pointed out by the Solicitor General, division of authority between the courts and the COMELEC could affect the expenditious
settlement of election contests. That is no justification, however, for conferring a quasi-judicial body with original certiorari jurisdiction. That would place
the COMELEC in a class by itself apart from similar administrative and quasi-judicial agencies. Neither would there be "sharing of appellate jurisdiction"
thereby, since the issuance of the special Writs involves the exercise of original jurisdiction.

In the last analysis, the remedy lies with the legislature and not with this Court. It is Congress that has the power to define prescribe and apportion the
jurisdiction of the various Courts (Arts. VIII, sec. 2, 1987 Constitution). That should include quasi-judicial bodies.

Considering that the COMELEC does not have jurisdiction over Petitions for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus, it would thus be moot and academic
to still pass upon GARCIA and O' HARA's contention that they were denied due process when the respondent Commission issued the questioned
Decision in the Antipolo Case. Suffice it to state that absence of hearing per se, does not necessarily imply denial of due process. The fact that they
were afforded reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy through their pleadings, destroys the validity of their argument. As long as
the parties were given the opportunity to be heard before judgment was rendered, the demands of due process are sufficiently met (Lindo v. COMELEC,
G,R. No. 95016, 11 january 1991, 194 SCRA 25).

We now come to the subsidiary issue raised by Petitioner TOBON UY in G.R. Nos. 97108-09 of whether or not Regional Trial Courts can order
execution pending appeal in election contests decided by it involving elective municipal officials.

The COMELEC Rules of procedure would also deprive Regional Trial Courts of the prerogative to order execution pending appeal in Rule 35, section
18, reading:

SEC. 18. Decision on the contest. The Court shall decide the election contest within thirty (30) days from the date it is submitted
for decision, but in every case within six (6) months after its filing and shall declare who among the parties has been elected, or in a
proper case, that none of them has been legally elected, or in proper case, that none of them has been legally elected. The party
who in the judgment has been declared elected shall have the right to assume the office as soon as the judgment becomes final.
(underscoring ours).

The COMELEC, however, is bereft of authority to deprive Regional Trial Courts of the competence to order execution pending appeal. For one, it is
essentially a judicial prerogative. For another, it is a pronouncement of the COMELEC alone in its procedural rules, without benefit of statute, unlike in
the past where it was specifically provided for in section 177 of the Revised Election Code (Rep. Act No. as amended) 1 and Section 224 of the Election
code of 1971 (Rep. Act No. 6388) 2 from whence the rule was lifted verbatim. Significantly, however, when the Election Code of 1971 (Rep. Act No.
6388) was superseded by the 1978 Election Code (Pres. decree No. 1296), said clause was deleted therefrom. It is likewise absent in the Electoral
Reforms Law of 1987 (Rep. Act No. 6646) and in the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg.881), which were the election laws in effect during the 18 january
1988 local elections.
There is no express provision of law, therefore, disauthorizing executions pending appeal, and the COMELEC, in its procedural rules alone, should not
be allowed to divest Regional Trial Courts of that authority. It deprives the prevailing party of a substantive right to move for such relief contrary to the
constitutional mandate that those Rules can not diminish nor modify substantive rights (Section 6, Articles IX-A, 1987 Constitution).

At any rate, the clause "as soon as the judgment becomes final" had already been interpreted by this Court as a general one defining the effect of a final
judgment on the right of the winner to assume the contested office as the right of the winner to assume the contested office as the de jure elected official
to serve up to the end of the term (Gahol v. hon. Riodique, G.R. No. L-40415, 27 June 1975, 64 SCRA 494 at p. 514). It does not disallow Regional Trial
Courts from ordering execution pending appeal.

Admittedly, unlike in Section 218 of the Election Code of 1971, applied in Gahol v. Hon. Riodique, supra, there is no express provision in the Electoral
Reforms Law (Rep. Act No. 6646) nor in the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg. 881) that would allow execution pending appeal. Said Section 218 reads:

Sec. 218. Assumption of office notwithstanding an election contest. Every candidate for a provincial, city, municipal or municipal
district office duly proclaimed elected by the corresponding board of canvassers shall assume office, notwithstanding the pendency
in the courts of any contest against his election, without prejudice to the final decision thereon and applicable provisions of the Rules
of court regarding execution of judgment pending appeal.

Nonetheless, Section 2, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, which allows Regional Trial Courts to order executions pending appeal upon good reasons stated
in a special order, may be made to apply by analogy or suppletorily to election contests decided by them (Rule 43, Section 1, COMELEC Rules of
Procedure). Indeed, as much recognition should be given to the decision of judicial body as a basis for the right to assume office as that given by law to
the proclamation made by the Board of Canvassers. In the words of Gahol v. Hon. Riodique, supra:

... Why should the proclamation by the board of canvassers suffice as a basis of the right to assume office, subject to future
contigencies attendant to a protest, and not the decision of a court of justice? Indeed, when it is considered that the board of
canvassers is composed of persons who are less technically prepared to make an accurate appreciation of the ballots, apart from
their being more apt to yield to external considerations, and that the board must act summarily, practically racing against time, while
on the other hand, the judge has the benefit of all the evidence the parties can offer and of admittedly better technical preparation
and background, apart from his being allowed ample time for conscientious study and mature deliberation before rendering
judgment, one cannot but perceive the wisdom of allowing the immediate execution of decisions in election cases adverse to the
protestees, notwithstanding the perfection and pendency of appeals therefrom, as long as there are, in the sound discretion of the
court, good reasons therefor.

To construe otherwise would be to bring back the ghost of the "grab-the-proclamation-prolong-the-protest" techniques so often resorted to by devious
politicians in the past in their efforts to perpetuate their hold to an elective office. This would, as a consequence, lay to waste the will of the electorate
(See Estrada v. Sto. Domingo, G.R. No. L-30570, 29 July 1969; Lagumbay v. COMELEC, G.R. No. L-25444, 31 january 1966, 16 SCRA 175).

In retrospect, good reasons did, in fact, exist which justified the RTC Order dated 10 January 1991, granting execution pending appeal. Among others
mentioned by the RTC are the combined considerations of the near expiration of the term of office, public interest, the pendency of the election contest
for more than three (3) years, and that TOBON UY had filed a bond in the amount of P300,000.00 (Rollo, p. 46).

To recapitulate, in the absence of an express Constitutional or legislative authorization, the COMELEC is devoid of competence to issue special Writs
simply on the basis of its appellate jurisdiction and its rule-making power. Neither is the COMELEC empowered, through its procedural rules alone, to
deprive Regional Trial Courts of authority, in the exercise of their discretion, to order execution pending appeal upon good reasons stated in special
order.

It must be noted that the term of office of the contested positions is nearing expiration. There is need, then for this Decision to be immediately executory.

WHEREFORE, these consolidated Petitions for Certiorari and prohibition are hereby GRANTED.

In G.R. No. 88158, the COMELEC Decision, dated 27 April 1989, in SPR No 2-89 is hereby SET ASIDE, and the Order of the Regional Trial Court of
Antipolo, Rizal, Branch 72, dated 28 October 1988 in Election Case No. 02-A, limiting the opening of ballot boxes to only nine (9) precincts, is hereby
REINSTATED, the case to proceed until final disposition.

In G.R. Nos. 97108-09, the COMELEC Resolution dated 15 February 1991, in SPR Nos. 1-91 and 2-91, is likewise SET ASIDE, and the Order of the
Regional Trial Court of Ilagan, Isabela, Branch 16, dated 10 January 1991, in Election Case No. 369 granting execution pending appeal, is hereby
REINSTATED, without prejudice to the disposition of respondent Jose Neyra's appeal before the COMELEC.

This Decision shall be immediately executory.

No costs.

Padilla, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, and Nocon, JJ., concur

Paras, J., took no part.

Narvasa, C.J, Feliciano, Medialdea, and Davide, Jr., concur.


G.R. No. 95346 January 18, 1991

PERFECTO V. GALIDO, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and SATURNINO R. GALEON, respondents.

Paulino G. Clarin and Giselo Galido for petitioner.


De Castro & Cagampang Law Offices for private respondent.

RESOLUTION

PADILLA, J.:

This is a special civil action for certiorari and preliminary injunction with prayer for a temporary restraining order, to prohibit respondent Commission on Elections
from implementing its questioned decision dated 14 December 1989 and resolution dated 20 September 1990, and private respondent Saturnino R. Galeon from
assuming office as Mayor of Garcia-Hernandez, Province of Bohol.

Petitioner and private respondent were candidates during the 18 January 1988 local elections for the position of mayor in the Municipality of Garcia-Hernandez,
Province of Bohol. Petitioner was proclaimed duly-elected Mayor of Garcia-Hernandez, by the Municipal Board of Canvassers.

On 25 January 1988, private respondent Saturnino R. Galeon filed an election protest before the Regional Trial Court of Bohol, 7th Judicial Region, Branch I,
Tagbilaran City. After hearing, the said court upheld the proclamation of petitioner as the duly-elected Mayor of Garcia-Hernandez, by a majority of eleven (11) votes.

Private respondent appealed the RTC decision to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Through its First Division, the COMELEC reversed the trial court's
decision and declared private respondent the duly-elected mayor by a plurality of five (5) votes. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied by the COMELEC in
its en banc resolution of 20 September 1990 which affirmed the decision of its First Division. The COMELEC held that the fifteen (15) ballots in the same precinct
containing the initial "C" after the name "Galido" were marked ballots and, therefore, invalid. The COMELEC said:

On the argument relied upon by the appellee that the case of Inguito vs. Court of Appeals is not the case in point but the cases of Bisnar vs. Lapasa and
Katigbak vs. Mendoza, supra should be the applicable jurisprudence, the settled rule and which is controlling is where a word or a letter recurs in a pattern or
system to mark and identify ballots, the ballots containing the same should be rejected as marked ballots (Silverio vs. Castro, supra; Inguito vs. Court of
Appeals, 21 SCRA 1015), and the introduction of evidence aliunde is not necessary when the repetition of a word or letter in several ballots in the same
precinct constitutes a clear and convincing proof of a design to indentify the voters. (P. 38, Rollo of G.R. No. 95346)

On 25 September 1990, petitioner filed before this Court a petition for certiorari and injunction, which was docketed as G.R. No. 95135.

On 27 September 1990, we resolved to dismiss the said petition for failure of petitioner to comply with paragraph 4 of the Court's Circular No. 1-88 which requires that
a petition shall contain a verified statement of the date when notice of the questioned judgment, order or resolution was received and the date of receipt of the denial of
the motion for reconsideration, if any was filed. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which we denied with finality in the resolution of 4 October 1990.

Undaunted, petitioner filed on 6 October 1990 the present petition for certiorari and injunction with prayer for a restraining order (G.R. No. 95346) which contains the
same allegations and legal issues contained in G.R. No. 95135.

On 11 October 1990, we issued the temporary restraining order prayed for by petitioner and required respondents to file comment on the petition.

In his Comment, private respondent Saturnino R. Galeon moves for the dismissal of the present petition, for the following three (3) main reasons:

1. Final decisions, orders or rulings of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in election contests involving elective municipal offices are final and executory, and
not appealable. Private respondent cites Article IX (C), Section 2(2), paragraph 2 of the 1987 Constitution, which reads as follows:

Decisions, final orders, or ruling of the Commission on election contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory, and not
appealable.

The above constitutional provision is implemented in the Rules of Procedure promulgated by the COMELEC, particularly Part VII Rule 39, Section 2 thereof, which
reads:

Sec. 2. Non-reviewable decisions. Decisions in appeals from courts of general or limited jurisdiction in election cases relating to the elections, returns,
and qualifications of municipal and barangay official are not appealable.

According to private respondent, since appeals of COMELEC decisions in election contests involving municipal and barangay officials are not allowed by the
Constitution, it follows that the COMELEC decision in the case at bar should be executed or implemented.

2. The petition involves pure questions of fact as they relate to appreciation of evidence (ballots) which is beyond the power of review of this Court. The COMELEC
found that the writing of the letter "C" after the word "Galido" in the fifteen (15) ballots of Precinct 14 is a clear and convincing proof of a pattern or design to identify
the ballots and/or voters. This finding should be conclusive on the Court.

3. Exactly the same petition involving identical allegations, grounds and legal issues was dismissed with finality by this Court in G.R. No. 95135. The inadvertent
issuance of a temporary restraining order by the Court in this case has wreaked havoc and chaos in the municipality of Garcia-Hernandez where private respondent has
already assumed his position as the duly-elected mayor.

In his Reply to the Comment, petitioner avers

1 Article IX (A), Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution provides:

Sec. 7. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its Members any case or matter brought before it within sixty days from the date of its
submission for decision or resolution. A case or matter is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or
memorandum required by the rules of the Commission or by the Commission itself Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law, any decision,
order, or ruling of each Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy
thereof.

Since under the same Constitution (Article VIII, Section 1), judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court, the present petition can still be brought to the Supreme
Court by certiorari. Petitioner contends that this petition is not an ordinary appeal contemplated by the Rules of Court or by provision of the Constitution.

2. The petition involves pure questions of law. The correct interpretation of Section 211. No. 10 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 is definitely a question of law. It states:

10. The erroneous initial of the first name which accompanies the correct surname of a candidate, the erroneous initial of the surname accompanying the
correct first name of the candidate, or the erroneous middle initial of the candidate shall not annul the vote in favor of the latter.

In several cases decided by this Court, according to petitioner, it was held that in the appreciation of ballots where there is no evidence aliunde of a purpose to identify
the ballots, the same should not be invalidated as marked ballots. The COMELEC thus committed grave abuse of discretion when it disregarded the cited decisions of
this Court and declared that the suffix "C" after the name Galido was in reality a countersign and not a mere erroneous initial.

3. The dismissal with finality of G.R. No. 95135 (the first petition) did not refer to the merits of the petition. The said dismissal was due to the failure of petitioner to
submit requisite papers duly certified. That is why upon petitioner's submission of the requirements in his second (the present) petition, this Court granted the request
for the issuance of a temporary restraining order.

The Court finds the petition to be without sufficient merit.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective
regional, provincial, and city officials and has appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction
or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. (Article IX (C), Section 2 (2), paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution).

In the present case, after a review of the trial court's decision, the respondent COMELEC found that fifteen (15) ballots in the same precinct containing the letter "C"
after the name Galido are clearly marked ballots. May this COMELEC decision be brought to this court by a petition for certiorari by the aggrieved party (the herein
petitioner)?

Under Article IX (A) Section 7 of the Constitution, which petitioner cites in support of this petition, it is stated: "(U)nless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by
law, any decision, order, or ruling of each (Constitutional) Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days
from receipt of a copy thereof."

On the other hand, private respondent relies on Article IX, (C), Section 2(2), paragraph 2 of the Constitution which provides that decisions, final orders, or rulings of the
Commission on Elections in contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory, and not appealable. (Emphasis supplied)

We resolve this issue in favor of the petitioner. The fact that decisions, final orders or rulings of the Commission on Elections in contests involving elective municipal
and barangay offices are final, executory and not appealable, does not preclude a recourse to this Court by way of a special civil action of certiorari. The proceedings in
the Constitutional Commission on this matter are enlightening. Thus

MR. FOZ. So, the amendment is to delete the word "inappealable."

MR. REGALADO. Before that, on page 26, line 26, we should have a transposition because decisions are always final, as distinguished from interlocutory
orders. So, it should read: "However, decisions, final orders or rulings," to distinguish them from intercolutory orders, ". . . of the Commission on Elections
on municipal and barangay officials shall be final and IMMEDIATELY executory."

That would be my proposed amendment.

MR. FOZ. Accepted, Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. REGALADO. It is understood, however, that while these decisions with respect to barangay and municipal officials are final and immediately
executory and, therefore, not appealable, that does not rule out the possibility of an original special civil action for certiorari, prohibition, or mandamus, as
the case may be, under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

MR. FOZ. That is understood, Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. REGALADO. At least it is on record.

Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer.1

We do not, however, believe that the respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in rendering the
questioned decision. It is settled that the function of a writ of certiorari is to keep an inferior court or tribunal within the bounds of its jurisdiction or to prevent it from
committing a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

As correctly argued by public respondent COMELEC, it has the inherent power to decide an election contest on physical evidence, equity, law and justice, and apply
established jurisprudence in support of its findings and conclusions; and that the extent to which such precedents apply rests on its discretion, the exercise of which
should not be controlled unless such discretion has been abused to the prejudice of either party. (Rollo, p. 107)

Finally, the records disclose that private respondent had already assumed the position of Mayor of Garcia-Hernandez as the duly-elected mayor of the municipality by
virtue of the COMELEC decision. The main purpose of prohibition is to suspend all action and prevent the further performance of the act complained of. In this light,
the petition at bar has become moot and academic. (G.R. No. 81383. Atty. Felimon et al. vs. Atty. Belena et al. Apr. 5, 1988 resolution.)

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is DISMISSSED. The temporary restraining order earlier issued by the Court is LIFTED.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Bidin, Sarmiento, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.
DR. MAHID M. MUTILAN, G.R. No. 171248

Petitioner,

- versus -

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and Z ALDY UY AMPATUAN,

Respondents.

April 2, 2007

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for certiorarii[1]assailing the 28 December 2005 Orderii[2]of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En Banc.

The Antecedent Facts

Dr. Mahid M. Mutilan (petitioner) and Zaldy Uy Ampatuan (private respondent) were candidates for Governor during the election of regional officials held
on 8 August 2005 in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). On 11 August 2005, private respondent was proclaimed as the duly elected Governor of
the ARMM.

On 19 August 2005, petitioner filed an Electoral Protest and/or Petition to Annul the Elections. The case was docketed as EPC No. 2005-3. Petitioner
contested the results of the elections in Maguindanao, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu on the ground that no actual election was conducted in the precincts in these four
provinces. Petitioner alleged that the voters did not actually vote and that the ballots were filled up by non-registered voters in the four provinces. Petitioner also
contested the results in the municipalities of Butig, Sultan Gumander, Calanogas, Tagoloan, Kapai, Masiu, and Maguing in Lanao del Sur where massive substitute
voting allegedly took place.

The Ruling of the COMELEC Second Division

In its 21 November 2005 Order,iii[3]the COMELEC Second Division dismissed the petition.

The COMELEC Second Division stated that during the initial hearing of the case, petitioners counsel admitted that the petition was not an election protest
but one for annulment of elections. Petitioners counsel prayed that the case be elevated to the COMELEC En Banc. Petitioner argued that jurisdiction over the x x x
petition is vested by law in the entire Honorable Commission both in banc and in division, such that this Honorable Commission (Second Division) can legally elevate
the case to the Honorable Commission En Banc pursuant to its rules of procedure to expedite disposition of election case. iv[4]

The COMELEC Second Division ruled that jurisdiction over petitions for annulment of elections is vested in the COMELEC En Banc. However, the elevation
of the case to the COMELEC En Banc is not sanctioned by the rules or by jurisprudence. Thus, the COMELEC Second Division dismissed the petition for lack of
jurisdiction. The dispositive portion of the 21 November 2005 Order reads:

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, and considering the categorical admission of the [petitioner] that the instant petition is not an election protest
but one for annulment of elections, the Commission (Second Division) hereby DISMISSES the same for lack of jurisdiction. Sec. 4 of Republic Act
7166 confers upon the Commission sitting en banc the exclusive jurisdiction over petition for annulment of election.

Anent the prayer to elevate the petition to annul the elections to the Commission en banc, the Commission (Second Division) hereby DENIES
the same for want of requisite authority therefor under the Rules.

SO ORDERED.v[5](Emphasis in the original)

On 29 November 2005, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the 21 November 2005 Order of the COMELEC Second Division. On 29 December
2005, petitioner filed a Motion to Admit Verified Copies of Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioners counsel alleged that at the time of the filing of the motion for
reconsideration, petitioner was in Marawi City and his verification arrived in Manila only after the filing of the motion for reconsideration. Petitioners counsel alleged
that he had to file the unverified motion for reconsideration because he had only five days from receipt of the 21 November 2005 Order to file the motion.

The Ruling of the COMELEC En Banc

In its Order dated 28 December 2005, the COMELEC En Banc denied the motion for reconsideration for petitioners failure to verify it in accordance with
Section 3, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. The COMELEC En Banc ruled that the 21 November 2005 Order of the COMELEC Second Division had become
final and executory on 8 December 2005. Thus:

ACCORDINGLY, the Clerk of the Commission, Electoral Contests Adjudication Department (ECAD)[,] this Commission, is hereby directed to
immediately issue an Entry of Judgment.

Let copies of this Order, the Entry of Judgment and Order of 21 November 2005 be furnished Her Excellency, Hon. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,
President of the Republic of the Philippines, the Hon. Secretary. Department of Interior and Local Government, the Hon. Chairman, Commission
on Audit and the Secretary, Regional Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

SO ORDERED.1[6] (Emphasis in the original)


Hence, the petition before this Court.

The Issues

Petitioner raises the following issues before this Court:

1. Whether the COMELEC Second Division acted in excess of its jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in dismissing the petition to annul elections and in not elevating the petition to the COMELEC En Banc.

2. Whether the COMELEC En Banc acted in excess of its jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in denying petitioners motion for reconsideration for lack of verification. vi[7]

The Ruling of this Court

The petition is partly meritorious

The COMELEC Second Division is Not Prohibited from

Elevating the Petition to the COMELEC En Banc

Petitioner alleges that the COMELEC Second Division gravely abused its discretion in dismissing the petition for annulment of elections. Citing Section 3,
Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution, petitioner alleges that [p]ublic respondent en banc or in division possesses the jurisdiction conferred by the Constitution in the
entire public respondent as one whole collegial body or unit and such jurisdiction continues to exist when the public respondent sits either en banc or in a division.vii[8]
As such, the COMELEC Second Division has the jurisdiction and authority to take action on the petition x x x [and] to legally elevate the petition to public respondent
sitting en banc.viii[9]

Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution 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.

Under Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution, all election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, must be heard and decided by a division of the
COMELEC.

In his Electoral Protest and/or Petition to Annul the Elections, petitioner seeks for a declaration of failure of elections in the contested areas. Petitioners
counsel readily admitted during the initial hearing that the petition was for annulment of elections.

Under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 7166 (RA 7166),ix[10]jurisdiction over postponements, failure of elections and special elections vests in the COMELEC En
Banc.x[11] The jurisdiction of the COMELEC En Banc over a petition to declare a failure of elections has been affirmed by this Court which ruled that a petition to
declare a failure of elections is neither a pre-proclamation controversy nor an election case.xi[12] A prayer to annul election results and a prayer to declare failure of
elections based on allegations of fraud, terrorism, violence or analogous causes are actually of the same nature and are denominated similarly in the Omnibus
Election Code.xii[13] Thus, the COMELEC Second Division has no jurisdiction over the petition to annul the elections.

Petitioner alleges that the docketing of the case as an election protest case was based on the determination of the administrative docket staff. Petitioner
argues that the internal docketing should not prejudice his rights and should not divest the COMELEC, sitting either En Banc or in Division, of its jurisdiction over the
petition.

The argument has no merit. Petitioner filed an Electoral Protest and/or Petition to Annul the Elections. Petitioner cannot put the blame on the docketing
clerk because he clearly tried to avail of two different remedies, each one falling under separate jurisdictions.

The COMELEC Second Division ruled that automatic elevation of the case to the En Banc is not sanctioned by the rules or by jurisprudence. Petitioner
argues that the COMELEC Second Division should have elevated the petition to the COMELEC En Banc instead of dismissing the petition for lack of jurisdiction.

We agree with petitioner. While automatic elevation of a case erroneously filed with the Division to En Banc is not provided in the COMELEC Rules of
Procedure, such action is not prohibited. Section 4, Rule 2 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides:

Means to Effect Jurisdiction. - All auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary to carry into effect its powers or jurisdiction
may be employed by the Commission; and if the procedure to be followed in the exercise of such power or jurisdiction is not specifically
provided for by law or these rules, any suitable process or proceeding may be adopted. (Emphasis supplied)

Hence, there is nothing in the COMELEC Rules of Procedure to prevent the COMELEC Second Division from referring the petition to annul the elections to
the COMELEC En Banc.

Nevertheless, the petition must still fail.

In his Electoral Protest and/or Petition to Annul the Elections, petitioner alleged that no actual election was conducted in the contested areas. Petitioner
further alleged that the voters did not actually vote and the ballots were filled up by non-registered voters. Petitioner also alleged massive disenfranchisement and
substitute voting. Petitioner argued that the irregularities warrant the annulment and setting aside of the elections in the contested areas.

There are three instances where a failure of elections may be declared, thus:
(a) 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;

(b) the election in any polling place has 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
(c) 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.xiii[14]

In all three instances, there is a resulting failure to elect.xiv[15] In the first instance, the election has not been held. In the second instance, the election has
been suspended. In the third instance, the preparation and the transmission of the election returns give rise to the consequent failure to elect; the third instance is
interpreted to mean that nobody emerged as a winner.xv[16]

None of the three instances is present in this case. In this case, the elections took place. In fact, private respondent was proclaimed the winner. Petitioner
contests the results of the elections on the grounds of massive disenfranchisement, substitute voting, and farcical and statistically improbable results. Petitioner
alleges that no actual election was conducted because the voters did not actually vote and the ballots were filled up by non-registered voters.

Petitioner alleges that [i]n some instances, the ballots were forcibly grabbed by armed persons and the same were filled-up even before election day.xvi[17]
However, petitioner did not cite the particulars of his allegations. Petitioner further alleges that election returns were already filled up even before the counting
started;xvii[18]votes credited to candidates even exceeded the number of registered voters of the precincts; xviii[19]and in one of the counting areas, the tally boards were
filled up in the presence of some Comelec officials even before the ballots were counted.xix[20] Again, petitioner failed to state the particulars of these incidents except
that [s]ome of these anomalies were committed in the municipalities of Butig, Sultan Gumander, Calanogas, Tagoloan, Kapai and Maguing of Lanao del Sur.xx[21]

The other allegations of petitioner, particularly the transfer of venue of the canvass without previous notice to the candidates, the proclamation of private
respondent without canvassing the results of the farcical election in Tawi-Tawi, the erasures in the certificate of canvass, the lack of initials by the Provincial Board of
Canvassers, the use of different inks and handwritings, and the act of the Provincial Board of Canvassers in simply noting his objections to the canvass of the returns,
are not grounds that would warrant the annulment of the elections.

In Pasandalan v. Commission on Elections, the Court explained:


To warrant a declaration of failure of election on the ground of fraud, the fraud must prevent or suspend the holding of an election, or mar
fatally the preparation, transmission, custody and canvass of the election returns. The conditions for the declaration of failure of election are
stringent. Otherwise, elections will never end for losers will always cry fraud and terrorism.

The allegations of massive substitution of voters, multiple voting, and other electoral anomalies should be resolved in a proper election protest
in the absence of any of three instances justifying a declaration of failure of election. In an election protest, the election is not set aside, and
there is only a revision or recount of the ballots cast to determine the real winner.

The nullification of elections or declaration of failure of elections is an extraordinary remedy. The party who seeks the nullification of an
election has the burden of proving entitlement to this remedy. It is not enough that a verified petition is filed. The allegations in the petition
must make out a prima facie case for declaration of failure of election, and convincing evidence must substantiate the allegations.xxi[22]

Here, the allegations of petitioner in his petition to annul the elections fail to make out a prima facie case to warrant the declaration of failure of elections.

Motion for Reconsideration Must Be Verified

Section 3, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure requires that the motion for reconsideration be verified. xxii[23] The COMELEC En Banc ruled that there
was no valid motion for reconsideration because petitioner failed to comply with Section 3, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. The COMELEC En Banc ruled
that the Order of the COMELEC Second Division had become final and executory.

Petitioner alleges that the absence of verification in his motion for reconsideration constitutes a slight or minor lapse and defect. Petitioner further alleges
that the absence of verification is merely a formal defect and does not affect the validity and efficacy of the pleading.

Petitioner alleges that the motion for reconsideration was filed within five days from receipt of the COMELEC Second Divisions Decision in accordance with
Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. Petitioner alleges that the motion for reconsideration was not verified because he was then in Marawi City.
Petitioners verification did not arrive in Manila until after the filing of the motion for reconsideration. Petitioner alleges that upon the arrival of the verification in
Manila, his counsel filed a Motion to Admit Verified Copies of Motion for Reconsideration and explained the reason for the delayed submission of petitioners
verification.

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was filed on 29 November 2005. The COMELEC En Banc denied the motion for reconsideration in its Order dated 28
December 2005. Petitioner filed the Motion to Admit Verified Copies of Motion for Reconsideration only on 29 December 2005, one day after the COMELEC En Bancs
denial of his motion for reconsideration and one month after the filing of the original motion for reconsideration.

Grave abuse of discretion implies capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment amounting to lack of jurisdiction, or arbitrary and despotic exercise of
power because of passion or personal hostility. xxiii[24] It is not sufficient that a tribunal, in the exercise of its power, abused its discretion; such abuse must be
grave.xxiv[25] The grave abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion or refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law.xxv[26] In this case, we
see no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC En Banc in denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. The Motion to Admit Verified Copies of
Motion for Reconsideration was filed only after the denial by the COMELEC En Banc of the original and unverified motion for reconsideration.

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition. We AFFIRM the 28 December 2005 Order of the COMELEC En Banc.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR
REYNATO S. PUNO

Chief Justice

G.R. Nos. 83938-40 November 6, 1989

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
HON. HENRY B. BASILLA, SALVACION COLAMBOT, SPOUSES JAIME AND ADORACION TAYONG and MELCHOR YANSON, respondents.

The Office of the Solicitor General for petitioner.

Ruben A. Songco for respondents.

FELICIANO, J.:

As an aftermath of the May 1987 congressional elections in Masbate, complaints for violations of Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code (BP Blg. 881) were filed
with the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Masbate against the private respondents as follows:

1) by Jolly Fernandez, then Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Governor, against the spouses Jaime and Adoracion Tayong for violation of Section 261, paragraph
a-1, for vote-buying;

2) by Ladislao Bataliran against Salvacion Colambot for violation of Section 261, paragraph a-1, also for vote buying; and

3) by PC/Sgt Arturo Rebaya against Melchor Yanson for violation of Section 261, paragraph p, for carrying of deadly weapon.

After preliminary investigation of the foregoing complaints, the Provincial Fiscal of Masbate filed in the Regional Trial Court, Branch 49, Cataingan, Masbate,. the
following criminal complaints: (1,) Criminal Case No. 324 against the spouses Tayong; (2) Criminal Case No. 326 against Salvacion Colambot and (3) Criminal Case No.
375 against Melchor Yanson.

In three (3) separate orders, all dated 6 October 1987, and Identical in tenor save for the names of the accused respondent Judge Henry Basilla motu proprio
dismissed the three (3) informations filed by the Provincial Fiscal, giving the following justification:

xxx xxx xxx

The record shows that the complainant filed the complaint with the fiscal and not with the COMELEC. The COMELEC did not investigate the case.

The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines says:

"Sec. 2(6) of Art. IX (C) The Commission on Election shall exercise the following powers and functions:

xxx xxx xxx

... ; investigate and, when appropriate prosecute cases of violation of election laws, including acts or omissions, constituting election frauds offenses, malpractices."

The Omnibus Election Election Code of the Philippines (BP Blg, 881) says:

Sec. 265. Prosecution. The Commission shall, through its duly authorized legal officers, have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election
offenses punishable under this Code, and to prosecute the same. The Commission may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government; Provided,
however, that in the event that the Commission fails to act on any complaint within four months from his filing, the complaint may file the complaint with the office
of the fiscal or with the Ministry of Justice. for proper investigation and prosecution, if warranted. (Sec. 182, 1978, EC; and Sec. 66. BP 697)

In the landmark case of De Jesus vs. People, L-60998, February 120 SCRA 760, the the Supreme Court ruled:

The grant to the COMELEC of the power. among others, to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of election and the concomitant authority to
investigate and prosecute election offenses is not without compelling reason. The evident constitutional intendment in bestowing this power to the COMELEC is to
ensure the free, and honest conduct of elections, failure of which would result i ii the frustration of the true will of the people and make a mere Idle ceremony of the
sacred right and duty of every qualified citizen to vote. To divest the COMELEC of the authority to investigate and prosecute election offenses committed by public
officials in relation to their office would thus seriously impair its effectiveness in achieving this clear constitutional mandate.

Consistently, and lately, in Corpu[s], et al. vs. Tanodbayan of the Philippines', et al., L-62075, April 15, 1987, our Supreme Court rules:

An examination of the provisions of the Constitution and the Election Code of 1978 reveals the clear intention to place in the COMELEC exclusive jurisdiction to
investigate and prosecute election offenses committed by any person, whether private individual or public officer or employee, and in the latter instance, irrespective
of whether the offense is committed in relation to his official duties or not. In other words, it is the nature of the offense and not the personality of the offender that
matters. As long as the offense is an election offense jurisdiction over the same rests exclusively with the COMELEC, in view of its all embracing power over the
conduct of election.

IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, inasmuch as the election offense was not investigated and prosecuted by the COMELEC. the case is motu proprio dismissed. 1

The People moved for reconsideration of respondent Judge's orders, without success.

The instant Petition for Review assails the three (3) orders dismissing the three (3 ) criminal informations against the private respondents, as constituting grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The Petition argues principally that the Commission on Elections ("Comelec") has authority to deputize the chief state
prosecutors, provincial and city fiscals and their assistants, under Sections 2 (4) and (8 ), Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution, and that the Comelec did deputize such
prosecution officers to conduct preliminary investigation of complaints for alleged violation of election laws and to institute criminal informations therefor.

The Petition must be granted.

There is no dispute that the Comelec is vested with power and authority to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under the Omnibus
Election Code and to prosecute such offenses in court. Section 265 of this Code reads as follows:

See. 265. Prosecution. The Commission shall, through its duly authorized legal officers, have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election
offenses punishable under this Code, and to prosecute the same. The Commission may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government: Provided,
however, That in the event that the Commission fails to act on any complaint within four months from his filing, the complainant may file the complaint with the
office of the fiscal or with the Ministry of Justice for proper investigation and prosecution, if warranted. (Sec. 182, 1973 EC; and Sec. 66, BP 697) (Emphasis supplied)
We note that while Section 265 of the Code vests "exclusive power" to conduct preliminary investigation of election offenses and to prosecute the same upon the
Comelec, it at the same time authorizes the Comelec to avail itself of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the Government. Section 2 of Article IX-C of the 1
987 Constitution clearly envisage that the Comelec would not be compelled to carry out all its functions directly and by itself alone:

Section 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.

xxx xxx xxx

(4) Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcementi agencies and instrumantalities of the Government, including the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.

xxx xxx xxx

(6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases
of violation of election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.

xxx xxx xxx

(8) Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or 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.

xxx xxx xxx

(Emphasis supplied)

The concurrence of the President with the deputation by Comelec of the prosecuting arms of the Government, was expressed in general terms and in advance in
Executive Order No. 134. dated 27 February 1987, entitled "Enabling Act for the Elections for members of Congress on May 11, 1987, and for other purposes."
Executive Order No. 134 provided in pertinent portion as follows:

xxx xxx xxx

See. 11. Prosecution. Commission shall, through its duly authorized legal officers, have exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses
punishable as provided for in the preceding section, and to prosecute the same: Provided, That in the event that the Commission fails to act on any complaint within
two (2) months from filing, the complainant may file the complaint with the Office the Fiscal or with the Department for Justice for proper investigation and
prosecution, if warranted.

The Commission may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government.

(Emphasis supplied)

On 9 March 1987, the Comelec enacted its Resolution No. 1862. The pertinant operative portions of this resolution are the following:

xxx xxx xxx

NOW, THEREFORE, the Commission on Elections, by virtue of the powers vested in it by the Constitution of the Republic of the, Philippines, the Omnibus Election
Code and Executive Orders Nos. 50, 94, 134 and 144, has RESOLVED to designate, as it hereby designates the Chief State Prosecutor, all Provincial and City Fiscalss
and their respective Assistants as its deputies in connection with the elections for Members of Congress on May 11, 1987, to perform the following duties and
functions:

1. Conduct prelimiry investigation of complaints involving election offenses under the Omnibus Election Code which may be filed directly with them, or which may be
endorsed to them by the Commission or its authorized representatives; and

2. Whenever a prima facie case exists, file the proper information in court and prosecute the same.

Preliminary investigation of cases filed directly with, or endorsed to, Provincial and City Fiscals, and/or their respective Assistants shall be conducted immediately and
shall be finished within thirty (30) days from the filing thereof and, for this purpose, they are enjoined to hold office on a twenty-four (24) hour basis during the
registration of voters on April 11 and 12, 1987, on Election Day on May 11, 1987, and until midnight on Revision Day on May 2, 1987.

Provincial and City Fiscals and their respective Assistants shall submit to the Commission a report on every case directly filed with them and thereafter, monthly
progress reports on the status of the cases handled by them, including those endorsed by the Commission or its authorized representatives.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately. 2 (Emphasis supplied)

The contention of private respondents that the deputation by the Comelec of the prosecuting arms of the Government would be warranted only before the elections
and only to ensure tree, honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections, that is, to perform the peace-keeping functions of policemen, lack substance. There is
nothing in Section 2 (4) of Article IX-C of the Constitution which requires such a pinched niggardly interpretation of the authority of the Comelec to appoint as its
deputies, officials or employees of other agencies and instrumentalities of the government. The prompt investigation and prosecution and disposition of election
offenses constitute an indispensable part of the task of securing free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections. The investigation and prosecution of election
offenses are, in an important sense, more important than the maintenance of physical order in election precinct. 'without the assistance of provincial and city fiscals
and their assistants and staff members, and of the state prosecutors of the Department of Justice, the prompt and fair investigation and prosecution of election
offenses committed before or in the course of nationwide elections would simply not be possible, unless, perhaps, the Comelec had a bureaucracy many times larger
than what it actually has. Moreover, the prosecution officers designated by the Comelec become deputies or agents of the Comelec and pro tanto subject to the
authority, control and supervision of the Comelec in respect of the particular functions covered by such deputation. The acts of such deputies within the lawful scope
of their delegated authority are, in legal contemplation, the acts of the Comelec itself. The only limitation the Constitution itself places upon the Comelec's authority
over its deputies relates to the enforcement of such authority through administrative sanctions. Such sanctions-e.g., suspension or removal-may be recommended by
the Comelec to the President (Sec. 2 [8], Article IX-C, 1987 Constitution) rather than directly imposed by the Comelec, evidently, to pre-empt and avoid potential
difficulties with the executive department of the Government where the prosecution and other officers deputized are ordinarily located.

All this the respondent Judge disregarded when he motu proprio dismissed the criminal informations filed in this case. The cases he cited in his identical orders De
Jesus v. People, 120 SCRA 760 (1983) and Corpus, et al. v. Tanodbayan, 149 SCRA 281 (1987) can offer him no comfort at all; for these cases do not relate to the
authority of the Comelec to deputize the regular prosecution arms of the Government for the investigation and prosecution of election offenses and those cases are
not in conflict with our ruling here.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on certiorari is hereby GRANTED due course and the Orders of the trial court all dated October 6, 1987 in Criminal Cases Nos.
324, 326 and 375 and the Order dated December 7, 1987 in the same cases denying the People's Motion for Reconsideration, are hereby SET ASIDE and ANNULLED.
The trial court is ORDERED to proceed forthwith with the continuation of Criminal Cases Nos. 324, 326 and 375 and until termination thereof. Costs against private
respondents.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 161265 February 24, 2004

LABAN NG DEMOKRATIKONG PILIPINO, represented by its Chairman EDGARDO J. ANGARA


vs.
THE COMMISION ON ELECTIONS and AGAPITO A. AQUINO

DECISION

TINGA, J.:

The Bible tells the story of how two women came to King Solomon to decide who among them is the babys true mother. King Solomon, in his legendary wisdom,
awarded the baby to the woman who gave up her claim after he threatened to split the baby into two.

It is fortunate that the two women did not ask the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to decide the babys fate; otherwise, it would have cut the baby in half. For
that is what the COMELEC exactly did in this case.

On December 8, 2003, the General Counsel of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), a registered political party, informed the COMELEC by way of Manifestation
that only the Party Chairman, Senator Edgardo J. Angara, or his authorized representative may endorse the certificate of candidacy of the partys official candidates.
The same Manifestation stated that Sen. Angara had placed the LDP Secretary General, Representative Agapito A. Aquino, on "indefinite forced leave." In the
meantime, Ambassador Enrique A. Zaldivar was designated Acting Secretary General. The Manifestation concluded with this prayer:

A. The Honorable Commission recognizes [sic] only those Certificates of Candidacy to which are attached Certificates of Nomination executed by LDP Party Chairman
Edgardo J. Angara or by such other officers of the LDP whom he may authorize in writing, and whose written authorizations shall be deposited with the Honorable
Commission by the LDP General Counsel.

B. The Honorable Commission declares [sic] as a nullity, denies [sic] due course or cancels [sic] all Certificates of Candidacy not endorsed by LDP Party Chairman
Angara or by such other LDP officials as may be authorized by him.

C. The Honorable Commission takes [sic] note of the designation of Ambassador Enrique "Ike" A. Zaldivar as Acting Secretary General of the LDP, and for the
Honorable Commission to honor and recognize the official acts, to the exclusion of everyone, of Ambassador Zaldivar for and in behalf of the LDP as Secretary
General.1

On December 16, 2003, Rep. Aquino filed his Comment, contending that the Party Chairman does not have the authority to impose disciplinary sanctions on the
Secretary General. As the Manifestation filed by the LDP General Counsel has no basis, Rep. Aquino asked the COMELEC to disregard the same.

On December 17, 2003, the parties agreed to file a joint manifestation pending which the proceedings were deemed suspended. On December 22, 2003, however,
only the LDP General Counsel filed an Urgent Manifestation reiterating the contents of the December 8, 2003 Manifestation. The COMELEC also received a Letter
from Rep. Aquino stating that the parties were unable to arrive at a joint manifestation.

The next day, the LDP General Counsel filed a Second Urgent Manifestation disputing newspaper accounts that Rep. Aquino had suspended Sen. Angara as Party
Chairman.

On December 26, 2003, the COMELEC issued an Order requiring the parties to file a verified petition. It turned out that, two days before, Sen. Angara had submitted a
verified Petition, in essence, reiterating the contents of its previous Manifestations. Attached to the Petition was a Resolution2 adopted by the LDP National Executive
Council, stating:

WHEREAS, on September 25, 2003, the National Executive Council of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) convened and unanimously passed a resolution
granting full authority to Party Chairman Edgardo J. Angara to enter, negotiate and conclude a coalition agreement with other like-minded opposition parties,
aggrupations and interest groups with the sole purpose of uniting the political opposition and fielding a unity ticket for the May 10, 2004 elections;

WHEREAS, on December 3, 2003, the LDP, together with the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas - LABAN (PDP-LABAN)
forged a coalition to form the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP);

WHEREAS, the Executive Committee of the KNP subsequently adopted its resolution entitled: "Resolution Choosing Mr. Fernando Poe, Jr. as the Standard Bearer of
the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 10, 2004 National Elections";

....

WHEREAS, the process of unification of the political opposition and the actions taken in connection therewith by Chairman Angara and by other governing bodies of
the LDP required the taking of immediate and forceful action by them to preserve and protect the integrity, credibility, unity and solidarity of the LDP, and ensure the
attainment of unification of the political opposition;

WHEREAS, such immediate and forceful action include those that have to do with pre-emptive efforts to diffuse the chaos, confusion and disunity projected by the
pronouncements and acts of some officers and members to the general membership of the LDP and the electorate, such as the one taken by the Regional Committee
for Region VI (Western Visayas) on December 6, 2003; the enforcement of order in the LDP through the voice of a central leadership in command in an otherwise
extraordinary and emergency situation, such as the one taken by Party Chairman Angara on December 6, 2003; the filing of the Manifestation with the COMELEC on
the matter of the authorized signatories for the nominations and, the adoption of resolutions by the regional committees affirming their trust and confidence in
Chairman Angara, and authorizing him to choose the presidential standard bearer for the May 10, 2004 elections; NOW THEREFORE, BE IT

RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, By the National Executive Council, to ratify and confirm the Covenant of National Unity, the Declaration of Unity entered into
by Party Chairman Edgardo J. Angara, and all acts and decisions taken by him to enforce and implement the same;

RESOLVED, FURTHER, To ratify and confirm all other acts and decisions of Chairman Angara and other governing bodies to preserve the integrity, credibility, unity and
solidarity of the LDP; and,

RESOLVED, FINALLY, To reiterate the vote of confidence of the National Executive Council in, and support to, the continued efforts of Chairman Angara to unite the
political opposition.3

Rep. Aquino filed his Answer to the Petition on December 30, 2003. The COMELEC heard the parties on oral arguments on the same day, after which the case was
submitted for resolution.

Pending resolution, a Certificate of Nomination of Sen. Panfilo Lacson as LDP candidate for President was filed with the COMELEC. The Certificate of Nomination was
signed by Rep. Aquino as LDP Secretary General.
On January 6, 2004, the COMELEC came to a decision.

The Commission identified the sole issue as "who among the [LDP] officers [are] authorized to authenticate before the Commission that the person filing the
certificate of candidacy as party nominee for a certain position is the official candidate of the party chosen in accordance with its Constitution."4

The COMELEC recognized that it "has the authority to act on matters pertaining to the ascertainment of the identity of [a] political party and its legitimate
officers."5 In the same breath, however, it held that "internal party matters and wranglings [sic] are purely for the party members to settle among themselves and
any unsettled controversy should be brought to the proper forum with jurisdiction." The "question of who was suspended by whom" was thus left for such proper
forum to resolve.6 Noting that "the intramurals in the LDP as an internal party matter seems to be irreconcilable for the present when the filing of Certificate of
Candidacy and Certificate of Nomination are about to reach the deadline," the COMELEC disposed of the Petition in the following fashion:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED with LEGAL EQUITY for both Petitioner and Oppositor. The candidates for President down to the last
Sangguniang Bayan Kagawad nominated and endorsed by LDP Chairman Edgardo J. Angara are recognized by the Commission as official candidates of LDP "Angara
Wing". The candidates from President down to the last Sangguniang Bayan Kagawad as nominated and endorsed by LDP Secretary General Agapito "Butz" Aquino are
recognized as official candidates of LDP "Aquino Wing".

Consequently, each faction or "Wing" is entitled to a representative to any election committee to which it may be entitled as created by the Commission for the May
10, 2004 elections. For the copies of the election returns, the "Angara Wing" will be entitled to the copies corresponding to odd number of precincts, that is, Precinct
Nos. 1, 3, 5, etc., and for the "Aquino Wing" to the even number of precincts, that is Precinct Nos. 2, 4, 6, etc. This is on the assumption that the LDP or as a party
within a registered Political Coalition becomes a recognized and denominated as a Dormant [sic] Minority Party under the Election Laws. The two LDP "Wings" are
further entitled to and be accorded the rights and privileges with corresponding legal obligations under Election Laws.7

Commissioners Luzviminda G. Tancangco, Ralph C. Lantion, Resurreccion Z. Borra and Florentino A. Tuason, Jr. concurred in the Resolution authored by Commissioner
Rufino S.B. Javier. Chair Benjamin S. Abalos, Sr., joined by Commissioner Mehol K. Sadain, submitted dissenting opinions.

Sen. Angara thus filed the present petition for Certiorari8 assailing the COMELEC Resolution for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion.

Thereafter, Rep. Aquino filed his Comment.

The Office of the Solicitor General submitted a Manifestation and Motion praying for the granting of the Petition. The COMELEC thus filed a separate Comment to the
Petition.

The COMELEC correctly stated that "the ascertainment of the identity of [a] political party and its legitimate officers" is a matter that is well within its authority. The
source of this authority is no other than the fundamental law itself, which vests upon the COMELEC the power and function to enforce and administer all laws and
regulations relative to the conduct of an election.9 In the exercise of such power and in the discharge of such function, the Commission is endowed with ample
"wherewithal" and "considerable latitude in adopting means and methods that will ensure the accomplishment of the great objectives for which it was created to
promote free, orderly and honest elections."10

Thus, in Kalaw v. Commission on Elections which involved the leadership fight in the Liberal Party, 11 this Court held:

that the respondent [COMELEC] has jurisdiction to hear and decide SP Case No. 85-021 [involving a petition to prohibit Eva Estrada Kalaw "from usurping or using
the title or position of President of the Liberal Party"] in view of its powers under Article IX-C, Section 2, of the Constitution to, among others, enforce and administer
all laws relative to the conduct of elections, decide all questions affecting elections, register and regulate political parties, and insure orderly elections. These powers
include the determination of the conflicting claims made in SP Case No. 85-021, which are likely to cause confusion among the electorate if not resolved. Additionally,
the COMELEC is mandated by the Election Code to inter alia require candidates to specify their political party affiliation in their certificates of candidacy, allow
political parties to appoint watchers, limit the expenditures of each political party, determine whether or not a political party shall retain its registration on the basis
of its showing in the preceding elections, etc. These matters include the ascertainment of the identity of the political party and its legitimate officers responsible for
its acts and the resolution of such controversies as the one now before it where one party appears to be divided into two wings under separate leaders each claiming
to be the president of the entire party. [Emphasis supplied.]

Likewise in Palmares v. Commission on Elections,12 to which the assailed Resolution made reference and which involved the Nacionalista Party,13 this Court ruled

that the COMELEC has jurisdiction over the issue of leadership in a political party. Under the Constitution, the COMELEC is empowered to register political parties
[Sec. 2(5), Article IX-C.] Necessarily, the power to act on behalf of a party and the responsibility for the acts of such political party must be fixed in certain persons
acting as its officers. In the exercise of the power to register political parties, the COMELEC must determine who these officers are. Consequently, if there is any
controversy as to leadership, the COMELEC may, in a proper case brought before it, resolve the issue incidental to its power to register political parties.

This Court then proceeded to quote from Kalaw, supra.

The two cited decisions find support in Sumulong v. Commission on Elections14 and Sotto v. Commission on Elections,15 where this Court, in resolving the issue as to
who between the factions of a political party was entitled to nominate election inspectors, necessarily settled claims to the partys leadership. Both cases were
decided without question on the COMELECs power to determine such claims. In conformity with jurisprudence, this Court did not identify the COMELECs jurisdiction
as an issue when this case was heard on oral argument.

There is no inconsistency between the above cases on the one hand and this Courts more recent ruling in Sinaca v. Mula16 on the other. In the latter case, this Court
held:

A political party has the right to identify the people who constitute the association and to select a standard bearer who best represents the partys ideologies and
preference. Political parties are generally free to conduct their internal affairs free from judicial supervision; this common-law principle of judicial restraint, rooted in
the constitutionally protected right of free association, serves the public interest by allowing the political processes to operate without undue interference. Thus, the
rule is that the determination of disputes as to party nominations rests with the party, in the absence of statutes giving the courts [sic] jurisdiction.

Quintessentially, where there is no controlling statute or clear legal right involved, the court will not assume jurisdiction to determine factional controversies within a
political party, but will leave the matter for determination by the proper tribunals of the party itself or by the electors at the polls. Similarly, in the absence of specific
constitutional or legislative regulations defining how nominations are to be made, or prohibiting nominations from being made in certain ways, political parties may
handle such affairs, including nominations, in such manner as party rules may establish. [Emphasis supplied.]

Sinaca, unlike previous cases, did not involve the question of party identity or leadership; hence, it was not necessary for the COMELEC to delve therein. None of the
candidates involved in that case were claiming to be the political partys sole candidate.

In the case at bar, the Party Chairman, purporting to represent the LDP, contends that under the Party Constitution only he or his representative, to the exclusion of
the Secretary General, has the authority to endorse and sign party nominations. The Secretary General vigorously disputes this claim and maintains his own authority.
Clearly, the question of party identity or leadership has to be resolved if the COMELEC is to ascertain whether the candidates are legitimate party standard bearers or
not.

The repercussions of the question of party identity and leadership do not end at the validity of the endorsement of the certificates of candidacy of persons claiming to
be the partys standard bearer. The law grants a registered political party certain rights and privileges,17 which, naturally, redound to the benefit of its candidates. It
is also for this significant dimension that Sinaca is not applicable in this case. As conceded in Sinaca itself, the Court will have to assume jurisdiction to determine
factional controversies within a political party where a controlling statute or clear legal right is involved.18 Verily, there is more than one law, as well as a number of
clear legal rights, that are at stake in the case at bar.

The law accords special treatment to political parties. The dominant majority party, the dominant minority party as determined by the COMELEC, for instance, is
entitled to a copy of the election returns.19 The six (6) accredited major political parties may nominate the principal watchers to be designated by the Commission.20
The two principal watchers representing the ruling coalition and the dominant opposition coalition in a precinct shall, if available, affix their signatures and
thumbmarks on the election returns for that precinct.21 Three (3) of the six accredited major political parties are entitled to receive copies of the certificate of
canvass.22 Registered political parties whose candidates obtained at least ten percent (10%) of the total votes cast in the next preceding senatorial election shall each
have a watcher and/or representative in the procurement and watermarking of papers to be used in the printing of election returns and official ballots and in the
printing, numbering, storage, and distribution thereof.23 Finally, a candidate and his political party are authorized to spend more per voter than a candidate without
a political party.24

It is, therefore, in the interest of every political party not to allow persons it had not chosen to hold themselves out as representatives of the party. Corollary to the
right of a political party "to identify the people who constitute the association and to select a standard bearer who best represents the partys ideologies and
preference"25 is the right to exclude persons in its association and to not lend its name and prestige to those which it deems undeserving to represent its ideals. A
certificate of candidacy makes known to the COMELEC that the person therein mentioned has been nominated by a duly authorized political group empowered to act
and that it reflects accurately the sentiment of the nominating body.26 A candidates political party affiliation is also printed followed by his or her name in the
certified list of candidates.27 A candidate misrepresenting himself or herself to be a partys candidate, therefore, not only misappropriates the partys name and
prestige but foists a deception upon the electorate, who may unwittingly cast its ballot for him or her on the mistaken belief that he or she stands for the partys
principles. To prevent this occurrence, the COMELEC has the power and the duty to step in and enforce the law not only to protect the party but, more importantly,
the electorate, in line with the Commissions broad constitutional mandate to ensure orderly elections.

Having revisited and clarified the jurisdiction of COMELEC to rule upon questions of party identity and leadership as an incident to its enforcement powers, this Court
cannot help but be baffled by the COMELECs ruling declining to inquire into which party officer has the authority to sign and endorse certificates of candidacy of the
partys nominees.

The only issue in this case, as defined by the COMELEC itself, is who as between the Party Chairman and the Secretary General has the authority to sign certificates of
candidacy of the official candidates of the party. Indeed, the petitioners Manifestation and Petition before the COMELEC merely asked the Commission to recognize
only those certificates of candidacy signed by petitioner Sen. Angara or his authorized representative, and no other.

To resolve this simple issue, the COMELEC need only to turn to the Party Constitution. It need not go so far as to resolve the root of the conflict between the party
officials. It need only resolve such questions as may be necessary in the exercise of its enforcement powers.

The LDP has a set of national officers composed of, among others, the Party Chairman and the Secretary General.28 The Party Chairman is the Chief Executive Officer
of the Party, whose powers and functions include:

(1) To represent the Party in all external affairs and concerns, sign documents for and on its behalf, and call the meetings and be the presiding officer of the National
Congress and the National Executive Council.29

The Secretary General, on the other hand, assists the Party Chairman in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Party. Among his powers and functions is:

(1) When empowered by the Party Chairman, to sign documents for and on behalf of the Party. 30

The Secretary Generals authority to sign documents, therefore, is only a delegated power, which originally pertains to the Party Chairman.

Rep. Aquino claims that he was authorized to exercise to sign the party candidates certificates of candidacy in the previous elections. Indeed, the COMELEC found
that:

In fact, during the May 14, 2001 elections, oppositor Agapito "Butz Aquino, as LDP Secretary General, was authorized by the LDP to sign for the Certificates of
Nomination of the LDP Senatorial Candidates, including the Certificate of Nomination for Senatorial Candidate Edgardo J. Angara, a copy of said Certificate of
Nomination and a copy of the Certificate for Senator Edgardo J. Angara are attached as Annexes A and B, respectively. This action by Secretary General Aquino is in
accordance with the Constitution and By-laws of LDP, not questioned by the LDP signed by its Secretary General. This revocation has not been revoked or recalled by
the National Congress of the LDP which is the one authorized to nominate candidates for President and Vice-President, respectively.31

Assuming that Rep. Aquino previously had such authority, this Court cannot share the COMELECs finding that the same "has not been revoked or recalled." No
revocation of such authority can be more explicit than the totality of Sen. Angaras Manifestations and Petition before the COMELEC, through which he informed the
Commission that Rep. Aquinos had been placed on indefinite forced leave and that Ambassador Zaldivar has been designated Acting Secretary General, who "shall
henceforth exercise all the powers and functions of the Secretary General under the Constitution and By-Laws of the LDP."32 As the prerogative to empower Rep.
Aquino to sign documents devolves upon Sen. Angara, so he may choose, at his discretion, to withhold or revoke such power.

Both respondents Rep. Aquino and COMELEC also cited Section 6 of COMELEC Resolution No. 645333 as basis for the Party Secretary Generals authority to sign
certificates of candidacy. Said Section 6 states:

SEC. 6. Certificate of nomination of official candidates by political party. The certificate of nomination of registered political parties or coalitions of political parties
of their official candidates shall be filed not later than the last day for filing of certificates of candidacy, which is January 2, 2004 duly signed and attested under oath
by the party president, chairman, secretary-general or any other duly authorized officer and shall bear the acceptance of the nominee by affixing his signature in the
space provided therein. [Emphasis and underscoring supplied.]

Clearly, however, the above provision presupposes that the party president, chairman or secretary-general has been "duly authorized" by the party to sign the
certificate of candidacy. COMELEC Resolution No. 6453 cannot grant a party official greater authority than what the party itself grants, lest such Resolution amount to
a violation of the partys freedom of association.

Neither does the Party Secretary General have the power to nominate the official candidates of the LDP. That power resides in the governing bodies of the Party.34 In
particular, the National Congress, which is the highest policy-making and governing body of the Party, has the power

(6) To nominate the official candidates of the Party for President, Vice President, and Senators, and, whenever the corresponding conventions fail to meet or to make
the requisite nominations, to nominate the official candidates for municipal city, congressional district, provincial and regional elective offices.35

Not only does Rep. Aquino insist on his power to sign Certificates of Candidacy on behalf of the LDP but he would also deny Sen. Angara that power on account of the
latters preventive suspension. It seems, however, that respondent has abandoned this tack by the silence of his Memorandum on the matter.

In any case, it appears that on November 28, 2003, Representative Rolex Suplico, LDP Region VI Regional Chairman, filed a complaint with Rep. Aquino against Party
Chairman Sen. Angara for disloyalty to the Party, gross violation of the Party Constitution, and other divisive acts inimical to the interest of the party and its members.
Rep. Aquino, as Secretary General, created a committee composed of three (3) members of the LDP National Executive Council to investigate the complaint and
recommend appropriate action thereon. On December 12, 2003, the investigating committee issued a resolution placing Sen. Angara under preventive suspension
effective immediately and directing him to refrain from performing acts in behalf of the party until the committee finishes its investigation and submits its final
recommendations.
The authority to create the investigating committee supposedly rests on Section 9 (4), Article VI of the LDP Constitution, which enumerates the powers and functions
of the Secretary General:

(4) With the concurrence of the Party Chairman, to enforce Party discipline. {Emphasis supplied.]

Evidently, just as Rep. Aquino has no power to sign and nominate candidates in behalf of the LDP, neither does he have the power to enforce Party discipline or, as an
incident thereto, to create an investigating committee, without the Party Chairmans concurrence. Much less does the investigating committee so created have the
power to place the Party Chairman under preventive suspension since its authority stems from a nullity. Simply put, the spring has no source.

The lack of Rep. Aquinos authority to sign documents or to nominate candidates for the LDP would not result in the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the
certificates of candidacy he may have signed on behalf of the LDP.36 The exclusive ground for the denial of due course to or the cancellation of a certificate of
candidacy for any elective office is that any material representation contained therein as required by law is false.37 Since the signature of Rep. Aquino was affixed
either prior to, or on the basis of, the challenged Resolution recognizing his authority to sign on behalf of the LDP, the same would not constitute material
representation that is false. In such case, the candidates are simply deemed as not nominated by the LDP and are considered independent candidates pursuant to
Section 7 of COMELEC Resolution No. 6453:

SEC. 7. Effect of filing certificate of nomination. A candidate who has not been nominated by a registered political party or its duly authorized representative, or
whose nomination has not been submitted by a registered political party shall be considered as an independent candidate.

COMELEC Commissioner Sadain referred to the above provision in his Dissenting Opinion, and this Court finds refreshing wisdom so sorely wanting in the majority
opinion in his suggestion that:

All other party members representing themselves to be candidates of the party shall not be deprived of their right to file their respective certificates of candidacy and
run for office, if so qualified, but that they shall not be accorded the rights and privileges reserved by election laws for official nominees of registered political parties.
Instead, they shall be treated as independent candidates.38

From the foregoing, it is plain that the COMELEC misapplied equity in the present case. For all its conceded merits, equity is available only in the absence of law and
not as its replacement.39 Equity is described as justice without legality, which simply means that it cannot supplant, although it may, as often happens, supplement
the law.40 The COMELEC should have decided the case on the basis of the party constitution and election laws. It chose not to because of its irrational fear of
treading, as respondent Aquino put it, on "unchartered" territories.41 But, as shown above, these territories have long been charted by jurisprudence and, in any
case, the COMELEC need not have sailed far from the shore to arrive at the correct conclusion. In truth, the COMELEC Resolution is indecision in the guise of equity.

Worse, the COMELEC divided the LDP into "wings," each of which may nominate candidates for every elective position. Both wings are also entitled to
representatives in the election committees that the Commission may create. In the event that the LDP is accorded dominant minority party election status, election
returns of odd-numbered precincts shall be furnished the Angara wing and those of even-numbered precincts, the Aquino wing.

By creating the two wings, the COMELEC effectively diffused the LDPs strength and undeniably emasculated its chance of obtaining the Commissions nod as the
dominant minority party.

By allowing each wing to nominate different candidates, the COMELEC planted the seeds of confusion among the electorate, who are apt to be confounded by two
candidates from a single political party. In Recabo, Jr. v. Commission on Elections,42 this Court declared that the electoral process envisions one candidate from a
political party for each position, and disunity and discord amongst members of a political party should not be allowed to create a mockery thereof. The admonition
against mocking the electoral process not only applies to political parties but with greater force to the COMELEC.

By according both wings representatives in the election committees, the COMELEC has eroded the significance of political parties and effectively divided the
opposition. The COMELEC has lost sight of the unique political situation of the Philippines where, to paraphrase Justice Perfectos concurring opinion in Sotto, supra,
the administration party has always been unnecessarily and dangerously too big and the opposition party too small to be an effective check on the administration.
The purpose of according dominant status and representation to a minority party is precisely to serve as an effective check on the majority. The COMELEC performed
a disservice to the opposition and, ultimately, to the voting public, as its Resolution facilitated, rather than forestalled, the division of the minority party.

By splitting copies of the election returns between the two factions, the COMELEC has fractured both wings. The practical purpose of furnishing a party with a copy of
the election returns is to allow it to tally the results of the elections at the precinct level. Ultimately, it is a guard against fraud. Thus, resort to copies thereof may be
had when the election returns are delayed, lost or destroyed,43 or when they appear to be tampered or falsified.44 A split party without a complete set of election
returns cannot successfully help preserve the sanctity of the ballot.

It bears reminding respondent Commission of this Courts pronouncement in Peralta v. Commission on Elections,45 which, while made in the backdrop of a
parliamentary form of government, holds equally true under the present government structure:

political parties constitute a basic element of the democratic institutional apparatus. Government derives its strength from the support, active or passive, of a
coalition of elements of society. In modern times the political party has become the instrument for the organization of societies. This is predicated on the doctrine
that government exists with the consent of the governed. Political parties perform an "essential function in the management of succession to power, as well as in the
process of obtaining popular consent to the course of public policy. They amass sufficient support to buttress the authority of governments; or, on the contrary, they
attract or organize discontent and dissatisfaction sufficient to oust the government. In either case they perform the function of the articulation of the interests and
aspirations of a substantial segment of the citizenry, usually in ways contended to be promotive of the national weal."

The assailed COMELEC Resolution does not advance, but subverts, this philosophy behind political parties.

As if to rationalize its folly, the COMELEC invokes the constitutional policy towards a free and open party system.46 This policy, however, envisions a system that shall
"evolve according to the free choice of the people,"47 not one molded and whittled by the COMELEC. When the Constitution speaks of a multi-party system, it does
not contemplate the COMELEC splitting parties into two. For doing just that, this pretender to the throne of King Solomon acted whimsically and capriciously.
Certiorari lies against it, indeed.

WHEREFORE, the assailed COMELEC Resolution is ANNULLED and the Petition is GRANTED IN PART. Respondent Commission on Elections is directed to recognize as
official candidates of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino only those whose Certificates of Candidacy are signed by LDP Party Chairman Senator Edgardo J. Angara or
his duly authorized representative/s.

SO ORDERED.

Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., in the result.
Puno, J., on leave.
Vitug, J., please see separate opinion.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., please see dissenting opinion.
Corona, J., joins the dissenting opinion of J. Gutierrez.
JOSE L. ATIENZA, JR., MATIAS G.R. No. 188920
V. DEFENSOR, JR., RODOLFO G.
VALENCIA, DANILO E. SUAREZ,
SOLOMON R. CHUNGALAO,
SALVACION ZALDIVAR-PEREZ,
HARLIN CAST-ABAYON, MELVIN G.
MACUSI and ELEAZAR P. QUINTO,
Petitioners,

- versus -

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,

MANUEL A. ROXAS II,

FRANKLIN M. DRILON and Promulgated:

J.R. NEREUS O. ACOSTA,

Respondents. February 16, 2010

x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

ABAD, J.:

This petition is an offshoot of two earlier cases already resolved by the Court involving a leadership dispute within a political party. In this case, the
petitioners question their expulsion from that party and assail the validity of the election of new party leaders conducted by the respondents.

Statement of the Facts and the Case

For a better understanding of the controversy, a brief recall of the preceding events is in order.

On July 5, 2005 respondent Franklin M. Drilon (Drilon), as erstwhile president of the Liberal Party (LP), announced his partys withdrawal of support for the
administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But petitioner Jose L. Atienza, Jr. (Atienza), LP Chairman, and a number of party members denounced Drilons
move, claiming that he made the announcement without consulting his party.

On March 2, 2006 petitioner Atienza hosted a party conference to supposedly discuss local autonomy and party matters but, when convened, the
assembly proceeded to declare all positions in the LPs ruling body vacant and elected new officers, with Atienza as LP president. Respondent Drilon immediately filed
a petitionxxvi[1] with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to nullify the elections. He claimed that it was illegal considering that the partys electing bodies, the
National Executive Council (NECO) and the National Political Council (NAPOLCO), were not properly convened. Drilon also claimed that under the amended LP
Constitution,xxvii[2] party officers were elected to a fixed three-year term that was yet to end on November 30, 2007.

On the other hand, petitioner Atienza claimed that the majority of the LPs NECO and NAPOLCO attended the March 2, 2006 assembly. The election of new
officers on that occasion could be likened to people power, wherein the LP majority removed respondent Drilon as president by direct action. Atienza also said that
the amendmentsxxviii[3] to the original LP Constitution, or the Salonga Constitution, giving LP officers a fixed three-year term, had not been properly ratified.
Consequently, the term of Drilon and the other officers already ended on July 24, 2006.

On October 13, 2006, the COMELEC issued a resolution,xxix[4] partially granting respondent Drilons petition. It annulled the March 2, 2006 elections and
ordered the holding of a new election under COMELEC supervision. It held that the election of petitioner Atienza and the others with him was invalid since the
electing assembly did not convene in accordance with the Salonga Constitution. But, since the amendments to the Salonga Constitution had not been properly
ratified, Drilons term may be deemed to have ended. Thus, he held the position of LP president in a holdover capacity until new officers were elected.

Both sides of the dispute came to this Court to challenge the COMELEC rulings. On April 17, 2007 a divided Court issued a resolution,xxx[5] granting
respondent Drilons petition and denying that of petitioner Atienza. The Court held, through the majority, that the COMELEC had jurisdiction over the intra-party
leadership dispute; that the Salonga Constitution had been validly amended; and that, as a consequence, respondent Drilons term as LP president was to end only on
November 30, 2007.

Subsequently, the LP held a NECO meeting to elect new party leaders before respondent Drilons term expired. Fifty-nine NECO members out of the 87
who were supposedly qualified to vote attended. Before the election, however, several persons associated with petitioner Atienza sought to clarify their membership
status and raised issues regarding the composition of the NECO. Eventually, that meeting installed respondent Manuel A. Roxas II (Roxas) as the new LP president.

On January 11, 2008 petitioners Atienza, Matias V. Defensor, Jr., Rodolfo G. Valencia, Danilo E. Suarez, Solomon R. Chungalao, Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez,
Harlin Cast-Abayon, Melvin G. Macusi, and Eleazar P. Quinto, filed a petition for mandatory and prohibitory injunction xxxi[6] before the COMELEC against respondents
Roxas, Drilon and J.R. Nereus O. Acosta, the party secretary general. Atienza, et al. sought to enjoin Roxas from assuming the presidency of the LP, claiming that the
NECO assembly which elected him was invalidly convened. They questioned the existence of a quorum and claimed that the NECO composition ought to have been
based on a list appearing in the partys 60th Anniversary Souvenir Program. Both Atienza and Drilon adopted that list as common exhibit in the earlier cases and it
showed that the NECO had 103 members.
Petitioners Atienza, et al. also complained that Atienza, the incumbent party chairman, was not invited to the NECO meeting and that some members, like
petitioner Defensor, were given the status of guests during the meeting. Atienzas allies allegedly raised these issues but respondent Drilon arbitrarily thumbed them
down and railroaded the proceedings. He suspended the meeting and moved it to another room, where Roxas was elected without notice to Atienzas allies.

On the other hand, respondents Roxas, et al. claimed that Roxas election as LP president faithfully complied with the provisions of the amended LP
Constitution. The partys 60th Anniversary Souvenir Program could not be used for determining the NECO members because supervening events changed the bodys
number and composition. Some NECO members had died, voluntarily resigned, or had gone on leave after accepting positions in the government. Others had lost
their re-election bid or did not run in the May 2007 elections, making them ineligible to serve as NECO members. LP members who got elected to public office also
became part of the NECO. Certain persons of national stature also became NECO members upon respondent Drilons nomination, a privilege granted the LP president
under the amended LP Constitution. In other words, the NECO membership was not fixed or static; it changed due to supervening circumstances.

Respondents Roxas, et al. also claimed that the party deemed petitioners Atienza, Zaldivar-Perez, and Cast-Abayon resigned for holding the illegal election
of LP officers on March 2, 2006. This was pursuant to a March 14, 2006 NAPOLCO resolution that NECO subsequently ratified. Meanwhile, certain NECO members,
like petitioners Defensor, Valencia, and Suarez, forfeited their party membership when they ran under other political parties during the May 2007 elections. They
were dropped from the roster of LP members.

On June 18, 2009 the COMELEC issued the assailed resolution denying petitioners Atienza, et al.s petition. It noted that the May 2007 elections necessarily
changed the composition of the NECO since the amended LP Constitution explicitly made incumbent senators, members of the House of Representatives, governors
and mayors members of that body. That some lost or won these positions in the May 2007 elections affected the NECO membership. Petitioners failed to prove that
the NECO which elected Roxas as LP president was not properly convened.

As for the validity of petitioners Atienza, et al.s expulsion as LP members, the COMELEC observed that this was a membership issue that related to
disciplinary action within the political party. The COMELEC treated it as an internal party matter that was beyond its jurisdiction to resolve.

Without filing a motion for reconsideration of the COMELEC resolution, petitioners Atienza, et al. filed this petition for certiorari under Rule 65.

The Issues Presented

Respondents Roxas, et al. raise the following threshold issues:

1. Whether or not the LP, which was not impleaded in the case, is an indispensable party; and

2. Whether or not petitioners Atienza, et al., as ousted LP members, have the requisite legal standing to question Roxas election.

Petitioners Atienza, et al., on the other hand, raise the following issues:

3. Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it upheld the NECO membership that elected respondent Roxas as LP
president;

4. Whether or not the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it resolved the issue concerning the validity of the NECO meeting without first
resolving the issue concerning the expulsion of Atienza, et al. from the party; and

5. Whether or not respondents Roxas, et al. violated petitioners Atienza, et al.s constitutional right to due process by the latters expulsion from
the party.

The Courts Ruling

One. Respondents Roxas, et al. assert that the Court should dismiss the petition for failure of petitioners Atienza, et al. to implead the LP as an
indispensable party. Roxas, et al. point out that, since the petition seeks the issuance of a writ of mandatory injunction against the NECO, the controversy could not
be adjudicated with finality without making the LP a party to the case.2[7]

But petitioners Atienza, et al.s causes of action in this case consist in respondents Roxas, et al.s disenfranchisement of Atienza, et al. from the election of
party leaders and in the illegal election of Roxas as party president. Atienza, et al. were supposedly excluded from the elections by a series of despotic acts of Roxas,
et al., who controlled the proceedings. Among these acts are Atienza, et al.s expulsion from the party, their exclusion from the NECO, and respondent Drilons
railroading of election proceedings. Atienza, et al. attributed all these illegal and prejudicial acts to Roxas, et al.

Since no wrong had been imputed to the LP nor had some affirmative relief been sought from it, the LP is not an indispensable party. Petitioners Atienza,
et al.s prayer for the undoing of respondents Roxas, et al.s acts and the reconvening of the NECO are directed against Roxas, et al.

Two. Respondents Roxas, et al. also claim that petitioners Atienza, et al. have no legal standing to question the election of Roxas as LP president because
they are no longer LP members, having been validly expelled from the party or having joined other political parties.3[8] As non-members, they have no stake in the
outcome of the action.

But, as the Court held in David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,4[9] legal standing in suits is governed by the real parties-in-interest rule under Section 2, Rule 3 of
the Rules of Court. This states that every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest. And real party-in-interest is one who stands
to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. In other words, the plaintiffs standing is based on his own right to
the relief sought. In raising petitioners Atienza, et al.s lack of standing as a threshold issue, respondents Roxas, et al. would have the Court hypothetically assume the
truth of the allegations in the petition.

Here, it is precisely petitioners Atienza, et al.s allegations that respondents Roxas, et al. deprived them of their rights as LP members by summarily
excluding them from the LP roster and not allowing them to take part in the election of its officers and that not all who sat in the NECO were in the correct list of
NECO members. If Atienza, et al.s allegations were correct, they would have been irregularly expelled from the party and the election of officers, void. Further, they
would be entitled to recognition as members of good standing and to the holding of a new election of officers using the correct list of NECO members. To this extent,
therefore, Atienza, et al. who want to take part in another election would stand to be benefited or prejudiced by the Courts decision in this case. Consequently, they
have legal standing to pursue this petition.

Three. In assailing respondent Roxas election as LP president, petitioners Atienza, et al. claim that the NECO members allowed to take part in that election
should have been limited to those in the list of NECO members appearing in the partys 60 th Anniversary Souvenir Program. Atienza, et al. allege that respondent
Drilon, as holdover LP president, adopted that list in the earlier cases before the COMELEC and it should thus bind respondents Roxas, et al. The Courts decision in the
earlier cases, said Atienza, et al., anointed that list for the next party election. Thus, Roxas, et al. in effect defied the Courts ruling when they removed Atienza as party
chairman and changed the NECOs composition.xxxii[10]

But the list of NECO members appearing in the partys 60th Anniversary Souvenir Program was drawn before the May 2007 elections. After the 2007
elections, changes in the NECO membership had to be redrawn to comply with what the amended LP Constitution required. Respondent Drilon adopted the souvenir
program as common exhibit in the earlier cases only to prove that the NECO, which supposedly elected Atienza as new LP president on March 2, 2006, had been
improperly convened. It cannot be regarded as an immutable list, given the nature and character of the NECO membership.

Nothing in the Courts resolution in the earlier cases implies that the NECO membership should be pegged to the partys 60 th Anniversary Souvenir Program.
There would have been no basis for such a position. The amended LP Constitution did not intend the NECO membership to be permanent. Its Section 27 xxxiii[11]
provides that the NECO shall include all incumbent senators, members of the House of Representatives, governors, and mayors who were LP members in good
standing for at least six months. It follows from this that with the national and local elections taking place in May 2007, the number and composition of the NECO
would have to yield to changes brought about by the elections.

Former NECO members who lost the offices that entitled them to membership had to be dropped. Newly elected ones who gained the privilege because
of their offices had to come in. Furthermore, former NECO members who passed away, resigned from the party, or went on leave could not be expected to remain
part of the NECO that convened and held elections on November 26, 2007. In addition, Section 27 of the amended LP Constitution expressly authorized the party
president to nominate persons of national stature to the NECO. Thus, petitioners Atienza, et al. cannot validly object to the admission of 12 NECO members
nominated by respondent Drilon when he was LP president. Even if this move could be regarded as respondents Roxas, et al.s way of ensuring their election as party
officers, there was certainly nothing irregular about the act under the amended LP Constitution.

The NECO was validly convened in accordance with the amended LP Constitution. Respondents Roxas, et al. explained in details how they arrived at the
NECO composition for the purpose of electing the party leaders. xxxiv[12] The explanation is logical and consistent with party rules. Consequently, the COMELEC did not
gravely abuse its discretion when it upheld the composition of the NECO that elected Roxas as LP president.

Petitioner Atienza claims that the Courts resolution in the earlier cases recognized his right as party chairman with a term, like respondent Drilon, that
would last up to November 30, 2007 and that, therefore, his ouster from that position violated the Courts resolution. But the Courts resolution in the earlier cases did
not preclude the party from disciplining Atienza under Sections 29xxxv[13] and 46xxxvi[14] of the amended LP Constitution. The party could very well remove him or any
officer for cause as it saw fit.

Four. Petitioners Atienza, et al. lament that the COMELEC selectively exercised its jurisdiction when it ruled on the composition of the NECO but refused to
delve into the legality of their expulsion from the party. The two issues, they said, weigh heavily on the leadership controversy involved in the case. The previous
rulings of the Court, they claim, categorically upheld the jurisdiction of the COMELEC over intra-party leadership disputes.xxxvii[15]

But, as respondents Roxas, et al. point out, the key issue in this case is not the validity of the expulsion of petitioners Atienza, et al. from the party, but the
legitimacy of the NECO assembly that elected respondent Roxas as LP president. Given the COMELECs finding as upheld by this Court that the membership of the
NECO in question complied with the LP Constitution, the resolution of the issue of whether or not the party validly expelled petitioners cannot affect the election of
officers that the NECO held.

While petitioners Atienza, et al. claim that the majority of LP members belong to their faction, they did not specify who these members were and how
their numbers could possibly affect the composition of the NECO and the outcome of its election of party leaders. Atienza, et al. has not bothered to assail the
individual qualifications of the NECO members who voted for Roxas. Nor did Atienza, et al. present proof that the NECO had no quorum when it then assembled. In
other words, the claims of Atienza, et al. were totally unsupported by evidence.

Consequently, petitioners Atienza, et al. cannot claim that their expulsion from the party impacts on the party leadership issue or on the election of
respondent Roxas as president so that it was indispensable for the COMELEC to adjudicate such claim. Under the circumstances, the validity or invalidity of Atienza, et
al.s expulsion was purely a membership issue that had to be settled within the party. It is an internal party matter over which the COMELEC has no jurisdiction.

What is more, some of petitioner Atienzas allies raised objections before the NECO assembly regarding the status of members from their faction. Still, the
NECO proceeded with the election, implying that its membership, whose composition has been upheld, voted out those objections.

The COMELECs jurisdiction over intra-party disputes is limited. It does not have blanket authority to resolve any and all controversies involving political
parties. Political parties are generally free to conduct their activities without interference from the state. The COMELEC may intervene in disputes internal to a party
only when necessary to the discharge of its constitutional functions.

The COMELECs jurisdiction over intra-party leadership disputes has already been settled by the Court. The Court ruled in Kalaw v. Commission on
Electionsxxxviii[16] that the COMELECs powers and functions under Section 2, Article IX-C of the Constitution, include the ascertainment of the identity of the political
party and its legitimate officers responsible for its acts. The Court also declared in another casexxxix[17] that the COMELECs power to register political parties necessarily
involved the determination of the persons who must act on its behalf. Thus, the COMELEC may resolve an intra-party leadership dispute, in a proper case brought
before it, as an incident of its power to register political parties.

The validity of respondent Roxas election as LP president is a leadership issue that the COMELEC had to settle. Under the amended LP Constitution, the LP
president is the issuing authority for certificates of nomination of party candidates for all national elective positions. It is also the LP president who can authorize
other LP officers to issue certificates of nomination for candidates to local elective posts. xl[18] In simple terms, it is the LP president who certifies the official standard
bearer of the party.

The law also grants a registered political party certain rights and privileges that will redound to the benefit of its official candidates. It imposes, too, legal
obligations upon registered political parties that have to be carried out through their leaders. The resolution of the leadership issue is thus particularly significant in
ensuring the peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections.xli[19]

Five. Petitioners Atienza, et al. argue that their expulsion from the party is not a simple issue of party membership or discipline; it involves a violation of
their constitutionally-protected right to due process of law. They claim that the NAPOLCO and the NECO should have first summoned them to a hearing before
summarily expelling them from the party. According to Atienza, et al., proceedings on party discipline are the equivalent of administrative proceedings5[20] and are,
therefore, covered by the due process requirements laid down in Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations.6[21]

But the requirements of administrative due process do not apply to the internal affairs of political parties. The due process standards set in Ang Tibay
cover only administrative bodies created by the state and through which certain governmental acts or functions are performed. An administrative agency or
instrumentality contemplates an authority to which the state delegates governmental power for the performance of a state function.7[22] The constitutional
limitations that generally apply to the exercise of the states powers thus, apply too, to administrative bodies.

The constitutional limitations on the exercise of the states powers are found in Article III of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, which
guarantees against the taking of life, property, or liberty without due process under Section 1 is generally a limitation on the states powers in relation to the rights of
its citizens. The right to due process is meant to protect ordinary citizens against arbitrary government action, but not from acts committed by private individuals or
entities. In the latter case, the specific statutes that provide reliefs from such private acts apply. The right to due process guards against unwarranted encroachment
by the state into the fundamental rights of its citizens and cannot be invoked in private controversies involving private parties.8[23]

Although political parties play an important role in our democratic set-up as an intermediary between the state and its citizens, it is still a private
organization, not a state instrument. The discipline of members by a political party does not involve the right to life, liberty or property within the meaning of the due
process clause. An individual has no vested right, as against the state, to be accepted or to prevent his removal by a political party. The only rights, if any, that party
members may have, in relation to other party members, correspond to those that may have been freely agreed upon among themselves through their charter, which
is a contract among the party members. Members whose rights under their charter may have been violated have recourse to courts of law for the enforcement of
those rights, but not as a due process issue against the government or any of its agencies.

But even when recourse to courts of law may be made, courts will ordinarily not interfere in membership and disciplinary matters within a political party.
A political party is free to conduct its internal affairs, pursuant to its constitutionally-protected right to free association. In Sinaca v. Mula,9[24] the Court said that
judicial restraint in internal party matters serves the public interest by allowing the political processes to operate without undue interference. It is also consistent with
the state policy of allowing a free and open party system to evolve, according to the free choice of the people.10[25]

To conclude, the COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion when it upheld Roxas election as LP president but refused to rule on the validity of Atienza,
et al.s expulsion from the party. While the question of party leadership has implications on the COMELECs performance of its functions under Section 2, Article IX-C of
the Constitution, the same cannot be said of the issue pertaining to Atienza, et al.s expulsion from the LP. Such expulsion is for the moment an issue of party
membership and discipline, in which the COMELEC cannot intervene, given the limited scope of its power over political parties.

WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the petition and UPHOLDS the Resolution of the Commission on Elections dated June 18, 2009 in COMELEC Case SPP
08-001.

SO ORDERED.
ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice

G.R. No. 199082 July 23, 2013

JOSE MIGUEL T. ARROYO, Petitioner,


vs.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE; COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; HON. LEILA DE LIMA, in her capacity as Secretary of the Department of Justice; HON.
SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., in his capacity as Chairperson of the Commission on Elections; and the JOINT DOJ-COMELEC PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE and FACT-FINDING TEAM, Respondents.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 199085

BENJAMIN S. ABALOS, SR., Petitioner,


vs.
HON. LEILA DE LIMA, in capacity as Secretary of Justice; HON. SIXTO S. BRILLANTES, JR., in his capacity as COMELEC Chairperson; RENE V.
SARMIENTO, LUCENITO N. TAGLE, ARMANDO V. VELASCO, ELIAS R. YUSOPH, CHRISTIAN ROBERT S. LIM AND AUGUSTO C. LAGMAN, in
their capacity as COMELEC COMMISSIONERS; CLARO A. ARELLANO, GEORGE C. DEE, JACINTO G. ANG, ROMEO B. FORTES AND MICHAEL
D. VILLARET, in their capacity as CHAIRPERSON AND MEMBERS, RESPECTIVELY, OF THE JOINT DOJ-COMELEC PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE ON THE 2004 AND 2007 ELECTION FRAUD, Respondents.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 199118

GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, represented by Chairperson Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr., DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, represented by Secretary Leila M. De
Lima, JOINT DOJ-COMELEC PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE, SENATOR AQUILINO M. PIMENTEL III, and DOJ-COMELEC
FACT FINDING TEAM, Respondents.

RESOLUTION

PERALTA, J.:

For resolution are the separate motions for reconsideration filed by movants Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) 1 in G.R. No. 199118 and Jose Miguel T. Arroyo (Mike
Arroyo )2 in G.R. No. 199082 praying that the Court take a second look at our September 18, 2012 Decision 3 dismissing their petitions and supplemental petitions
against respondents Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Department of Justice (DOJ), Senator Aquilino M. Pimentel III (Senator Pimentel), Joint DOJ-Comelec
Preliminary Investigation Committee (Joint Committee) and DOJ-Comelec Fact-Finding Team (Fact-Finding Team), et al.

For a better perspective, we briefly state the relevant factual and procedural antecedents as found by the Court in the assailed decision, to wit:

On August 15, 2011, the Comelec and the DOJ issued Joint Order No. 001-2011 creating and constituting a Joint Committee and Fact-Finding Team (referred to as
Joint Panel) on the 2004 and 2007 National Elections electoral fraud and manipulation cases. The Joint Committee was mandated to conduct the necessary preliminary
investigation on the basis of the evidence gathered and the charges recommended by the Fact-Finding Team. The Fact-Finding Team, on the other hand, was created for
the purpose of gathering real, documentary, and testimonial evidence which can be utilized in the preliminary investigation to be conducted by the Joint Committee.
Pursuant to Section 74 of the Joint Order, on August 23, 2011, the Joint Committee promulgated its Rules of Procedure.

In its Initial Report5 dated October 20, 2011, the Fact-Finding Team concluded that manipulation of the results in the May 14, 2007 senatorial elections in the provinces
of North and South Cotabato, and Maguindanao was indeed perpetrated.6 The Fact-Finding Team recommended, among others, that petitioner Benjamin S. Abalos, Sr.
(Abalos) be subjected to preliminary investigation for electoral sabotage for conspiring to manipulate the election results in North and South Cotabato; that GMA and
Abalos be subjected to another preliminary investigation for manipulating the election results in Maguindanao; 7 and, that Mike Arroyo be subjected to further
investigation.8 The case was docketed as DOJ-Comelec Case No. 001-2011.

Meanwhile, on October 17, 2011, Senator Pimentel filed a ComplaintAffidavit 9 for Electoral Sabotage against petitioners and twelve others, and several John Does and
Jane Does. The case was docketed as DOJ-Comelec Case No. 002-2011.
On October 24, 2011, the Joint Committee issued two subpoenas against petitioners in DOJ-Comelec Case Nos. 001-2011 and 002-2011.10 On November 3, 2011,
petitioners, through counsel, appeared before the Joint Committee11 and respondents therein were ordered to submit their Counter-Affidavits by November 14, 2011.12

Thereafter, petitioners filed before the Court separate Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction assailing the creation of the Joint Panel.13 The petitions were eventually consolidated.

On November 14, 2011, Mike Arroyo filed a Motion to Defer Proceedings14 before the Joint Committee, in view of the pendency of his petition before the Court. On
the same day, GMA filed before the Joint Committee an Omnibus Motion Ad Cautelam15 to require Senator Pimentel to furnish her with documents referred to in his
complaint-affidavit and for the production of election documents as basis for the charge of electoral sabotage. GMA prayed that she be allowed to file her counter-
affidavit within ten (10) days from receipt of the requested documents.16 Petitioner Abalos, for his part, filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings (Ex Abundante Ad
Cautelam),17 in view of the pendency of his petition brought before the Court.

In an Order18 dated November 15, 2011, the Joint Committee denied the aforesaid motions of petitioners. GMA, subsequently, filed a motion for reconsideration.19

On November 16, 2011, the Joint Committee promulgated a Joint Resolution which was later indorsed to the Comelec. 20 On November 18, 2011, the Comelec en banc
issued a Resolution21 approving and adopting the Joint Resolution subject to modifications. The Comelec resolved, among others, that an information for electoral
sabotage be filed against GMA and Abalos, while the charges against Mike Arroyo be dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

On even date, pursuant to the above Resolution, the Comelecs Law Department filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Pasay City, an Information against
petitioner GMA, Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., and Atty. Lintang H. Bedol, for violation of Section 42(b)(3) of Republic Act (RA) No. 9369, amending Section 27
(b) of RA 6646, docketed as Criminal Case No. RPSY-11-04432-CR.22 The case was raffled to Branch 112 and the corresponding Warrant of Arrest was issued which
was served on GMA on the same day.23

On November 18, 2011, GMA filed with the RTC an Urgent Omnibus Motion Ad Cautelam24 with leave to allow the Joint Committee to resolve the motion for
reconsideration filed by GMA, to defer issuance of a warrant of arrest and a hold departure order, and to proceed to judicial determination of probable cause. She,
likewise, filed with the Comelec a Motion to Vacate Ad Cautelam25 praying that its Resolution be vacated for being null and void. The RTC, nonetheless, issued a
Warrant for her arrest which was duly served. GMA was later arraigned and she entered a plea of "not guilty." She was, for some time, on hospital arrest but was able to
obtain temporary liberty when her motion for bail was granted. At present, she is again on hospital arrest by virtue of a warrant issued in another criminal case.

On September 18, 2012, the Court rendered the assailed Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions and supplemental petitions are DISMISSED. Comelec Resolution No. 9266 dated August 2, 2011, Joint Order No.
001-2011 dated August 15, 2011, and the Fact- Finding Teams Initial Report dated October 20, 2011, are declared VALID. However, the Rules of Procedure on the
Conduct of Preliminary Investigation on the Alleged Election Fraud in the 2004 and 2007 National Elections is declared INEFFECTIVE for lack of publication.

In view of the constitutionality of the Joint Panel and the proceedings having been conducted in accordance with Rule 112 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure and Rule
34 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure, the conduct of the preliminary investigation is hereby declared VALID.

Let the proceedings in the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 112, where the criminal cases for electoral sabotage against petitioners GMA and Abalos are
pending, proceed with dispatch.

SO ORDERED.26

Hence, these motions for reconsideration.

Issues

Mike Arroyo reiterates his arguments on the independence of the Comelec as basis in nullifying the subject joint DOJ-Comelec resolutions. Echoing Justice Arturo
Brion in his Dissenting and Concurring Opinion,27 Mike Arroyo insists that the creation of the Joint Panel undermines the decisional independence of the Comelec. 28

Mike Arroyo also maintains that the DOJ should conduct preliminary investigation only when deputized by the Comelec but not exercise concurrent jurisdiction.29
Finally, as has been repeatedly pointed out in his earlier pleadings before the Court, Mike Arroyo claims that the proceedings involving the electoral sabotage case were
rushed because of pressures from the executive branch of the government. 30

For her part, GMA claims that in availing of the procedural remedies available, she merely exercised her earnest efforts to defend herself and should not have been
deemed by the Court as acts which purportedly tend to demonstrate that she either waived or forfeited her right to submit her counter-affidavit and countervailing
evidence.31 Citing several cases decided by the Court, she likewise faults the Court in not upholding her right to ask for additional time within which to submit her
counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence.32 GMA highlights that the subject Comelec Resolution creating the Joint Panel is different from the previous Comelec
resolutions requesting the DOJ Secretary to assign prosecutors to assist the Comelec, as the latter emphasize the role of the DOJ as deputized agency in the conduct of
preliminary investigation. She maintains that it is the Comelec and not the Joint Committee that has the primary, if not exclusive, authority to conduct preliminary
investigation of election cases.33

In their Consolidated Comment,34 respondents defend the creation of the Joint Committee and argue that it does not undermine the independence of the Comelec as a
constitutional body because it is still the Comelec that ultimately determines probable cause.35 As to the conduct of the preliminary investigation, respondents maintain
that no rights were violated as GMA was afforded the opportunity to defend herself, submit her counter-affidavit and other countervailing evidence.36 They, thus,
consider GMAs claim of availing of the remedial measures as "delaying tactics" employed to thwart the investigation of charges against her by the Joint Committee.37

The Courts Ruling

Clearly from the above discussion, movants raise issues that have been thoroughly explained by the Court in the assailed decision. The issues were all addressed and the
explanation was exhaustive, thus, we find no reason to disturb the Courts conclusions.

At any rate, if only to address the motions of the movants herein and to put an end to the questions attached to the creation of the Joint Panel and, consequently, to the
performance of their assigned tasks, we hereby reiterate our findings and conclusions made in the assailed decision.

This is not the first time that the Court is confronted with the issue of whether the Comelec has the exclusive power to investigate and prosecute cases of violations of
election laws. In Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) Party-List v. Commission on Elections,38 the constitutionality of Section
4339 of RA 936940 had already been raised by petitioners therein and addressed by the Court. While recognizing the Comelecs exclusive power to investigate and
prosecute cases under Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 or the Omnibus Election Code, the Court pointed out that the framers of the 1987 Constitution did not have such
intention. This exclusivity is thus a legislative enactment that can very well be amended by Section 43 of RA 9369. Therefore, under the present law, the Comelec and
other prosecuting arms of the government, such as the DOJ, now exercise concurrent jurisdiction in the investigation and prosecution of election offenses.
Indeed, as aptly pointed out by GMA, there is a discrepancy between Comelec Resolution No. 3467 41 dated January 12, 2001 and Joint Order No. 001-2011, dated
August 15, 2011, creating and constituting a Joint Committee and Fact-Finding Team on the 2004 and 2007 National Elections electoral fraud and manipulation cases.
However, GMA seemed to miss the date when these two resolutions were promulgated by the Comelec. It is noteworthy that Comelec Resolution No. 3467 was issued
when Section 265 of the Omnibus Election Code was still effective, while Joint Order No. 001-2011 as well as Comelec Resolution Nos. 873342 and 905743 mentioned
in the assailed decision but missed out by GMA in her motion, were issued during the effectivity of Section 43 of RA 9369, giving the Comelec and other prosecuting
arms of the government the concurrent jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute election offenses. This amendment paved the way for the discrepancy. In Comelec
Resolution No. 3467, the Comelec maintained the continuing deputation of prosecutors and the Comelec Law Department was tasked to supervise the investigatory and
prosecutory functions of the task force pursuant to the mandate of the Omnibus Election Code. However, with the amendment, the Comelec likewise changed the tenor
of the later resolutions to reflect the new mandate of the Comelec and other prosecuting arms of the government now exercising concurrent jurisdiction. Thus, the
Comelec Law Department and the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor of the DOJ were tasked to jointly supervise the investigatory and prosecutory functions of the
Comelec-DOJ Task Force. Considering, therefore, that the later resolutions, including Joint Order No. 001-2011, were issued pursuant to Section 43 of RA 9369
amending Section 265 of BP 881 which was declared "constitutional" in Banat, there is no reason for us to declare otherwise. To maintain the previous role of other
prosecuting arms of the government as mere deputies despite the amendment would mean challenging Section 43 of RA 9369 anew which has already been settled in
Banat.

To be sure, the creation of a Joint Committee is not repugnant to the concept of "concurrent jurisdiction" authorized by the amendatory law. As we explained in our
September 18, 2012 Decision:

x x x The doctrine of concurrent jurisdiction means equal jurisdiction to deal with the same subject matter. Contrary to the contention of the petitioners, there is no
prohibition on simultaneous exercise of power between two coordinate bodies. What is prohibited is the situation where one files a complaint against a respondent
initially with one office (such as the Comelec) for preliminary investigation which was immediately acted upon by said office and the re-filing of substantially the same
complaint with another office (such as the DOJ). The subsequent assumption of jurisdiction by the second office over the cases filed will not be allowed. Indeed, it is a
settled rule that the body or agency that first takes cognizance of the complaint shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of the others.

xxxx

None of these problems would likely arise in the present case. The Comelec and the DOJ themselves agreed that they would exercise their concurrent jurisdiction
jointly. Although the preliminary investigation was conducted on the basis of two complaints the initial report of the Fact-Finding Team and the complaint of Senator
Pimentel both complaints were filed with the Joint Committee. Consequently, the complaints were filed with and the preliminary investigation was conducted by only
one investigative body. Thus, we find no reason to disallow the exercise of concurrent jurisdiction jointly by those given such authority. This is especially true in this
case given the magnitude of the crimes allegedly committed by petitioners. The joint preliminary investigation also serves to maximize the resources and manpower of
both the Comelec and the DOJ for the prompt disposition of the cases. 44

Notwithstanding the grant of concurrent jurisdiction, the Comelec and the DOJ nevertheless included a provision in the assailed Joint Order whereby the resolutions of
the Joint Committee finding probable cause for election offenses shall still be approved by the Comelec in accordance with the Comelec Rules of Procedure.45 With
more reason, therefore, that we cannot consider the creation of the Joint Committee as an abdication of the Comelecs independence enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

Finally, we focus on the validity of the preliminary investigation conducted by the Joint Committee.

The procedure in conducting the preliminary investigation is governed by Rule 112 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure and Rule 34 of the Comelec Rules of
Procedure. Under both Rules,46 the respondent shall submit his counter-affidavit and that of his witnesses and other supporting documents relied upon for his defense,
within ten (10) days from receipt of the subpoena, with the complaint and supporting affidavits and documents.47 Also in both Rules, respondent is given the right to
examine evidence, but such right of examination is limited only to the documents or evidence submitted by complainants which she may not have been furnished and to
copy them at her expense.48

As to the alleged denial of GMAs right to examine documents, we maintain that no right was violated in view of the limitation of such right as set forth above. We
reiterate our explanation in the assailed decision, to wit:

While it is true that Senator Pimentel referred to certain election documents which served as bases in the allegations of significant findings specific to the protested
municipalities involved, there were no annexes or attachments to the complaint filed. As stated in the Joint Committees Order dated November 15, 2011 denying
GMAs Omnibus Motion Ad Cautelam, Senator Pimentel was ordered to furnish petitioners with all the supporting evidence. However, Senator Pimentel manifested
that he was adopting all the affidavits attached to the Fact-Finding Teams Initial Report. Therefore, when GMA was furnished with the documents attached to the
Initial Report, she was already granted the right to examine as guaranteed by the Comelec Rules of Procedure and the Rules on Criminal Procedure. Those were the
only documents submitted by the complainants to the Committee. If there are other documents that were referred to in Senator Pimentels complaint but were not
submitted to the Joint Committee, the latter considered those documents unnecessary at that point (without foreclosing the relevance of other evidence that may later be
presented during the trial) as the evidence submitted before it were considered adequate to find probable cause against her. x x x491wphi1

Neither was GMAs right violated when her motion for extension of time within which to submit her counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence was consequently
denied. The Rules use the term "shall" in requiring the respondent to submit counter-affidavit and other countervailing evidence within ten (10) days from receipt of the
subpoena. It is settled that the use of the word "shall" which is a word of command, underscores the mandatory character of the rule.50 As in any other rule, though,
liberality in the application may be allowed provided that the party is able to present a compelling justification for the non-observance of the mandatory rules. In the
2008 Revised Manual for Prosecutors, investigating prosecutors allow or grant motions or requests for extension of time to submit counter-affidavits when the interest
of justice demands that respondent be given reasonable time or sufficient opportunity to engage the services of counsel; examine voluminous records submitted in
support of the complaint or undertake research on novel, complicated or technical questions or issues of law and facts of the case.51

In this case, GMA claimed that she could not submit her counteraffidavit within the prescribed period because she needed to examine documents mentioned in Senator
Pimentels complaint-affidavit. It appeared, however, that said documents were not submitted to the Joint Committee and the only supporting documents available were
those attached to the Initial Report of the Fact-Finding Team. Admittedly, GMA was furnished those documents. Thus, at the time she asked for the extension of time
within which to file her counter-affidavit, she very well knew that the documents she was asking were not in the record of the case. Obviously, she was not furnished
those documents because they were not submitted to the Joint Committee. Logically, she has no right to examine said documents. We cannot, therefore, fault the Joint
Committee in consequently denying her motion for extension to file counter-affidavit as there was no compelling justification for the non-observance of the period she
was earlier required to follow.

And as we held in the assailed decision:

There might have been overzealousness on the part of the Joint Committee in terminating the investigation, endorsing the Joint Resolution to the Comelec for approval,
and in filing the information in court.

However, speed in the conduct of proceedings by a judicial or quasijudicial officer cannot per se be instantly attributed to an injudicious performance of functions. The
orderly administration of justice remains the paramount consideration with particular regard to the peculiar circumstances of each case. To be sure, petitioners were
given the opportunity to present countervailing evidence. Instead of complying with the Joint Committees directive, several motions were filed but were denied by the
Joint Committee. Consequently, petitioners right to submit counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence was forfeited. Taking into account the constitutional right to
speedy disposition of cases and following the procedures set forth in the Rules on Criminal Procedure and the Comelec Rules of Procedure, the Joint Committee finally
reached its conclusion and referred the case to the Comelec. The latter, in turn, performed its task and filed the information in court. Indeed, petitioners were given the
opportunity to be heard. They even actively participated in the proceedings and in fact filed several motions before the Joint Committee. Consistent with the
constitutional mandate of speedy disposition of cases, unnecessary delays should be avoided.52
Finally, in our assailed decision, we already took judicial notice that not only did GMA enter a plea of "not guilty," she also filed a Motion for Bail and after due
hearing, it was granted. Apparently, she benefited from the RTC Order giving her temporary liberty. In filing the motion before the RTC and actively participating
therein, she has chosen to seek judicial remedy before the RTC where the electoral sabotage case is pending instead of the executive remedy of going back to the Joint
Committee for the submission of her counter-affidavit and countervailing evidence. Besides, as thoroughly discussed in the assailed decision, the irregularity or even the
absence of preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the information filed against her.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motions for Reconsideration are DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

G.R. No. 112093 October 4, 1994

ANTONIO V.A. TAN, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, RUSTICO T. ILAGAN, Regional Election Director, Commission on Elections, Region XI, Davao City, and
SENFORIANO B. ALTERADO, respondents.

Leonido C. Delante for petitioner.

Eduardo C. de Vera for Atty. S.B. Alterado.

VITUG, J.:

On 10 May 1992, petitioner, as incumbent city Prosecutor of Davao City, was designated by the Commission on Elections ("COMELEC") as
Vice-Chairman of the City Board of Canvassers of Davao City for the 11th May 1992 synchronized national and local elections conformably with the
provisions of Section 20(a) of Republic Act No. 6646 and Section 221(b) of the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg. 881).

On the basis of the votes canvassed by the Board of Canvassers, Manuel Garcia was proclaimed the winning candidate for a congressional seat to
represent the Second District of Davao City in the House of Representatives.

Private respondent Alterado, himself a candidate for the position, filed a number of cases questioning the validity of the proclamation of Manuel Garcia
and accusing the members of the City Board of Canvassers of "unlawful, erroneous, incomplete and irregular canvass." Meanwhile, the electoral protest
of private respondent Alterado was dismissed by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal ("HRET"). The criminal complaint for "Falsification of
Public Documents and Violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" before the Office of the Ombudsman was likewise dismissed on the ground
of lack of criminal intent on the part of therein respondents. Still pending is an administrative charge, the case now before us, instituted in the COMELEC
against the City Board of Canvassers, including herein petitioner, for "Misconduct, Neglect of Duty, Gross Incompetence and Acts Inimical to the
Service."

Petitioner moved to dismiss the administrative complaint against him for alleged lack of jurisdiction of the COMELEC thereover, he being under the
Executive Department of the government. The COMELEC denied petitioner's motion to dismiss.

Hence, the instant petition.

Petitioner contends that the COMELEC has committed grave abuse of discretion and acted without jurisdiction in continuing to take action on the
administrative case. He argues that

1) Petitioner is the City Prosecutor of Davao City. His office belongs to the executive branch of the government, more particularly to
the Department of Justice. As such, he is under the administrative jurisdiction of the said department and not of respondent
COMELEC.

2) The Civil Service Law provides that department heads "shall have jurisdiction to investigate and decide matters involving
disciplinary action against officers under their jurisdiction" (Section 47[b], P.D. 807).

3) Section 2, Article IX of the 1987 Constitution which authorizes respondent COMELEC to deputize public officers belonging to the
executive department is for the purpose of insuring free, orderly and honest elections. It does not include and comprehend
administrative disciplinary jurisdiction over officials belonging to the executive branch of government. That jurisdiction over
deputized executive officers cannot be deemed to include such powers as would allow encroachment into the domain of the
executive branch under guise of administering laws relative to elections.

4) Section 38 of P.D. 807 cited by respondents COMELEC and Ilagan as basis for their authority to investigate petitioner (Annex G)
offers no help to said respondents. The said provision merely lays down the procedure for administrative cases against non-
presidential appointees. Petitioner here, the city prosecutor for Davao City is a presidential appointee.1

We find ourselves being unable to sustain the petition.

The COMELEC's authority under Section 2(6-8), Article IX, of the Constitution is virtually all-encompassing when it comes to election matters. In respect
particularly to sanctions against election offenses, we quote:
Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:

xxx xxx xxx

(6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate and,
where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including acts or omission constituting election frauds, offenses,
and malpractices.

xxx xxx xxx

(8) Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or 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.

Additionally, Section 52, Article VII, of the Omnibus Election Code, provides:

Sec. 52. Powers and functions of the Commission on Elections. In addition to the powers and functions conferred upon it by the
Constitution, the Commission shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of
elections for the purpose of insuring free, orderly and honest elections, and shall:

a. 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 CMP 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.

It should be stressed that the administrative case against petitioner, taken cognizance of by, and still pending with, the COMELEC, is in relation to the
performance of his duties as an election canvasser and not as a city prosecutor. The COMELEC's mandate includes its authority to 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 order to help ensure that such duly
deputized officials and employees of government carry out their respective assigned tasks, the law has also provided than upon the COMELEC's
recommendation, the corresponding proper authority (the Secretary of the Department of Justice in the case at bar) shall take appropriate action, either
to suspend or remove from office the officer or employee who may, after due process, be found guilty of violation of election laws or failure to comply
with instructions, orders, decision or rulings of the COMELEC.

Unavoidably, the COMELEC, prior to making its recommendation, must first satisfy itself that there indeed has been an infraction of the law, or of its
directives issued conformably therewith, by the person administratively charged. It also stands to reason that it is the COMELEC, being in the best
position to assess how its deputized officials and employees perform or have performed in their duties, that should conduct the administrative inquiry. To
say that the COMELEC is without jurisdiction to look into charges of election offenses committed by officials and employees of government outside the
regular employ of the COMELEC would be to unduly deny to it the proper and sound exercise of such recommendatory power and, perhaps more than
that, even a possible denial of due process to the official or employee concerned.

Observe, nevertheless, that the COMELEC merely may issue a recommendation for disciplinary action but that it is the executive department to which
the charged official or employee belongs which has the ultimate authority to impose the disciplinary penalty. The law then does not detract from, but is
congruent with, the general administrative authority of the department of government concerned over its own personnel.

Petitioner's assertion that private respondent Alterado has resorted to forum-shopping is unacceptable. The investigation then being conducted by the
Ombudsman on the criminal case for falsification and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, on the one hand, and the inquiry into the
administrative charges by the COMELEC, on the other hand, are entirely independent proceedings. Neither would the results in one conclude the other.
Thus, an absolution from a criminal charge is not a bar to an administrative prosecution (Office of the Court Administrator vs. Enriquez, 218
SCRA 1), or vice versa. So, also, the dismissal by the COMELEC of SPC Case No. 92-232 on the ground that the case constituted an electoral protest
within the jurisdiction of the HRET and not of the COMELEC (affirmed by this Court in G.R. No. 106452) does not necessarily foreclosure the matter of
possible liability, if warranted, of those who might have improperly acted in the canvass of votes.

There are other issues, mainly factual, that are raised and averred to show petitioner's innocence from the administrative charges. Petitioner's
allegations may well be true but this petition at bench may not preempt the determination of those factual matters yet to be passed upon in the pending
administrative proceedings.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Padilla and Bidin, JJ., are on leave.


G.R. No. 118702 March 16, 1995

CIRILO ROY G. MONTEJO, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

SERGIO A.F. APOSTOL, intervenor.

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 of Tolosa 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 district2 covers Tacloban City and the municipalities of Alangalang, Babatngon, Palo, San Miguel, Sta. Fe, Tanauan and Tolosa.

The second district3 is composed of the municipalities of Barugo, Barauen, Capoocan, Carigara, Dagami, Dulag, Jaro, Julita, La Pat, Mayorga,
MacArthur, Pastrana, Tabontabon, and Tunga.

The third district4 is composed of the municipalities of Almeria, Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Calubian, Culaba, Kawayan, Leyte, Maripipi, Naval, San
Isidro, Tabango, and Villaba.

The fourth district5 is composed of Ormoc City and the municipalities of Albuera, Isabel, Kananga, Matagob, Merida, and Palompon.

The fifth district6 is composed of the municipalities of Abuyog, Bate, Baybay, Hilongos, Hindang, Inopacan, Javier, Mahaplag, and Matalom.

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."

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 sub-provinces 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 Tolosa and 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)

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

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

Fourth District: Population Registered


Voters
(1990) (1994)

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

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.

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.

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 COMELEC9 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

xxx xxx xxx

MR. PADILLA. Mr. Presiding Officer.

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

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.

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

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

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 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.

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.

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

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

MR. SARMIENTO. May I be clarified, Mr. Presiding Officer. Is it the motion or the proposed amendment?

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

MR. SARMIENTO. May we move for the approval of this proposed amendment which we substitute for paragraphs 4 and 5.

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 become functus officio to 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.

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

MR. SARMIENTO. May I move that this Commission do the reapportionment legislative districts.

MS. AQUINO. Mr. Presiding Officer.

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. SARMIENTO. No, we accepted the amendment. It is already the Commission that will be mandated.

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

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

VOTING

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

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

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

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

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. DAVIDE. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.

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

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.

MR. GUINGONA. Thank you.

xxx xxx xxx

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

MR. DE CASTRO. Thank you.

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.

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 Tolosa from 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.