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LESSON a.

The 1987 Constitution does not fix the period to hold a plebiscite for the
CASE NUMBER - CASE NAME creation of a local government unit;
PONENTE b. There was logistical and financial impossibility for COMELEC to hold a
plebiscite at a mere two months notice.
Under Republic Act 10360 which created the Charter of the Province of Davao Occidental, c. Legislative intent for RA 10360 is for the same to be implemented;
COMELEC is given only 60 days from the effectivity of the said Act to conduct a plebiscite d. Public interest demands that the plebiscite be conducted; and
for the creation of the province of Davao Occidental . Due to unforeseen changes in e. COMELEC did not abuse its discretion in issuing the questioned Resolution.
schedule, time, and logistical constraints due to the upcoming May 2013 National and Local
Elections, COMELEC decided to defer the plebiscite and conduct it instead simultaneously ISSUE with HOLDING
with the October 2013 Barangay Elections. Marc Cagas, in his capacity as a taxpayer, filed 1. Whether or not COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in rescheduling the
a petition for prohibition against COMELEC from conducting the plebiscite with that timeline, conduct of the plebiscite. – NO, IT DID NOT. COMELEC's power to administer
arguing that COMELEC is without authority or legal basis to modify the time set for the elections includes the power to conduct a plebiscite beyond the schedule
plebiscite as stated in RA 10360. The SC disagreed and held in favor of COMELEC, prescribed by law.
recognizing the residual power of such constitutional body to fix the date of the plebiscites a. The COMELEC’s power to administer elections includes the power to conduct
to protect and enable the citizens' right of suffrage. 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
DOCTRINE Article X of the Constitution provide that:
Role of COMELEC: The plebiscite shall be conducted by the COMELEC within 120 days i. Sec. 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be
from the date of effectivity of the law or ordinance, unless said law or ordinance fixes another created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially
date. [Sec. 10, LGC] altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local
government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes
The Constitution recognizes that the power to fix the date of elections is legislative in nature. cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.
But the Court upheld the COMELEC’s broad power or authority to fix other dates for a ii. Sec. 11. The Congress may, by law, create special
plebiscite, as in special elections, to enable the people to exercise their right of suffrage. The metropolitan political subdivisions, subject to a plebiscite as set forth
COMELEC thus has residual power to conduct a plebiscite even beyond the deadline in Section 10 hereof. The component cities and municipalities shall
prescribed by law. [Cagas v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 209185 (2013)] retain their basic autonomy and shall be entitled to their own local
executive and legislative assemblies.
FACTS iii. The jurisdiction of the metropolitan authority that will thereby be
1. Cagas, as representative of the first legislative District of Davao del Sur filed a bill which created shall be limited to basic services requiring coordination.
became Republic Act 10360, creating the Charter of the Province of Davao Occidental.
2. According to Section 46 of said Act, the COMELEC shall conduct a plebiscite for the b. The Constitution does not specify a date as to when plebiscites should be
creation of the Province of Davao Occidental within sixty (60) days from the date of held. This is in contrast with its provisions for the election of members of the
effectivity of the Charter. legislature in Section 8, 4, Article VII.
3. Prior to the effectivity of RA 10360, the COMELEC had already suspended the conduct i. The Constitution recognizes that the power to fix date of elections is
of all plebiscites as a matter of policy in view of the preparations for the upcoming legislative in nature, which is shown by the exceptions in previously
May 2013 National and Local Elections. mentioned Constitutional provisions, as well as in the election of
4. Eventually, through a Minute Resolution, the COMELEC decided to hold the plebiscite local government officials.
simultaneously with the October 2013 Barangay Elections to save on expenses. ii. The Constitution grants the COMELEC the power to "enforce and
5. RA 10360 was signed into law in January 2013, however, it was belatedly published in administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an
newspapers, as required in the Civil Code, in April 2013. election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall" and gives
6. Hence, Cagas filed a petition for prohibition with the Supreme Court, alleging the COMELEC the "exclusive charge of the enforcement and
following: administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections for the
a. COMELEC is without authority/ legal basis to AMEND/MODIFY Section 46 of purpose of ensuring free, orderly and honest elections."
RA 10360 by mere Minute Resolution as it is only CONGRESS who can iii. In the same manner, the Constitution also grants COMELEC "all
validly amend/ repeal or modify existing laws. the necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the
b. COMELEC no longer has legal basis to hold a plebiscite in October 2013 objective of holding free, orderly and honest elections."
since the time frame that RA 10360 has provided already lapsed.
c. Cagas has no adequate remedy to prevent COMELEC from holding the c. Due to the tight timeframe after enactment of RA 10360, coupled with the
plebiscite other than the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) upcoming 2013 National and Local Elections (the timeline of which are
and a Preliminary Injunction. mandated by the Constitution) the holding of a plebiscite for the creation of
7. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed its comment and raised the following the Davao province in question was rendered impossible.
arguments:

1

honest. OTHER NOTES The Court also cited the following cases to support its ruling: 2 . by constitutional mandate. Indeed. The Commission on Elections. Finalization and printing of computerized voters list for use circumstances that threaten to subvert the will of our voters. testing and demonstration of PCOS machines and their distribution to different precincts. Finally. in the alternative. is in a peculiarly advantageous position to accomplish the following among many others. candidates do not follow the rules of Emily Post. COMELEC a. for the May 2013 National decide complex political questions. plebiscite. and distribution of voter's even be debatable. In the on election day process." 6. the h. WHEREFORE. even the Constitutionally-mandated schedule for elections may be constitutional provision is to give COMELEC all the necessary and adjusted in view of unreasonable circumstances. b. d. The Court likened such events as analogous to force majeur and broad power to "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative administrative mishaps covered in the Omnibus Election Code which provides to the conduct of an election. National and Local elections or. Politics is a practical matter. indeed. however. 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. should not be to 6 April 2013. referendum and recall. [i]s to protect the integrity of elections to suppress all evils that may petitioner would have COMELEC to hold of all of the aforementioned violate its purity and defeat the will of the voters. may 5. orderly. COMELEC had to deliver and with political controversies. Hence. The OSG points out that public interest demands that the plebiscite be conducted. i. Preparation. 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. and honest elections. COMELEC has to make snap judgments to meet unforeseen 4. In 3. because of its fact-finding facilities. incidental powers for it to achieve the objective of holding free. printing. Section 2(1) of Article IX(C) of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the e. and its knowledge derived from actual experience in dealing i. The date 28 October 2013 is reasonably close are clearly illegal or constitute grave abuse of discretion. honest. Preparation of project precincts 3. for which it was created — to promote free." as scheduled by the COMELEC. Configuration. and Local Elections: 1. At the time RA 10360 was approved. to comply with the 60-day period to conduct the plebiscite. The Court also took judicial notice of COMELEC's burden in the accreditation and registration of candidates for the Party-List Elections. There can hardly be any doubt that the text and intent of this In short. 2. Also. hold the plebiscite must do everything in its power to secure a fair and honest canvass of manually. Inspection. In addition. and there is no reason why the plebiscite should not proceed interfered with. The purpose of the governing statutes on the conduct of elections — ii. The Court has consistently rejected a too literal interpretation of election laws in favor of holding free. The Commission g. unless they the deadline prescribed by law. bidding. as in special elections. initiative. its contacts with political manner: strategists. Sumulong v. Pangandaman v. Comelec a. . to enable and methods that will insure the accomplishment of the great objective the people to exercise their right of suffrage. It is thus not novel for this Court to uphold the COMELEC's broad power or Commission must be given a considerable latitude in adopting means authority to fix other dates for a plebiscite. precinct Too often. COMELEC would have to reconfigure for said purpose some elections is one of the most fundamental requisites of popular of the PCOS machines that were already configured for the may 2013 government. The COMELEC thus has residual power to conduct a plebiscite even beyond The choice of means taken by the Commission on Elections. . the votes cast in the elections. We cannot. the actions of COMELEC may not be impeccable. The purity of the tasks. orderly. peaceful and credible elections. 1. In the performance of its duties. we DISMISS the petition for lack of merit . DISPOSITIVE PORTION In election law. the OSG presented the COMELEC's predicament in the following on Elections. the right of suffrage should prevail over mere scheduling mishaps in holding DIGESTER: elections or plebiscites. orderly. f. sealing of the Book of Voters per running for public offces. COMELEC 2." the COMELEC the power to set elections to another date (Section 5 and 6). peaceful and credible elections. Constitution of the Board of Election inspectors a. "[O]ur elections are not conducted under laboratory conditions. Tupay Loong v. verification. and political questions must be dealt with realistically — not from the standpoint of pure theory. engage in a swivel chair information criticism of these actions often taken under very difficult circumstances. .