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DIBARATUN v COMELEC

FACTS:

Respondent Abubakar, a re-electionist candidate for the position of Punong Barangay of a barangay in
Lanao del Sur, filed a petition before the COMELEC to declare a failure of elections in Precinct No. 6A/7A
in the barangay and to annul the proclamation of petitioner Dibaratun as the duly elected Punong
Barangay of Bagoainguid. Abubakar alleged that Dibaratun’s son entered the polling place possessing
filled up ballots with intent of placing them in the ballot box. When he was confronted, Dibaratun’s son
committed violence, causing commotion and thereby stopping the polls, with only 10 out of 151
registered voters having voted. The proclamation of Dibaratun as the elected Punong Barangay was
annulled and he was ordered to cease and desist from exercising the powers and responsibilities of the
office. Pending the special elections and until no Punong barangay was elected and qualified, the
incumbent Punong Barangay shall continue to exercise powers and duties of the office in a holdover
capacity.
Dibaratun filed petition for certiorari with the SC, contending that the petition was filed outside the
reglementary period of 10 days from proclamation, and grave abuse of discretion on the part of
COMELEC.

ISSUE:
WON the declaration of failure of election was made properly by the COMELEC? YES

HELD:

COMELEC has the broad power to enforce all the laws and regulations relative to the conduct of
elections, as well as the plenary authority to decide all questions affecting elections except the question
as to the right to vote.

The three instances when a failure of elections may be declared by the Commission are:
1. 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;
2. the election in any polling place had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing
of the voting on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud or other analogous causes;
or
3. 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.

Before the COMELEC can act on a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of elections,

Two conditions must concur for COMELEC to act on a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of
elections:
1. no voting took place in the precinct or precincts on the date fixed by law, or even if there was
voting, the election resulted in a failure to elect; and
2. the votes not cast would have affected the result of the elections.
The cause of such failure of election could only be any of the following: force majeure , violence,
terrorism, fraud or other analogous causes. The affidavits submitted by the witnesses of the petitioner
all state that it is respondent Dibaratun and his followers and relatives who were the cause of the
violence which resulted in the suspension of the election after only ten (10) people managed to vote.
The COMELEC en banc ruled that since both parties agreed that the elections were suspended before
the hour fixed by law due to violence caused by undetermined persons, there was obviously a failure of
elections in the aforementioned precinct.

As to the question of filing the petition within time, the reglementary period contended by petitioner
does not apply for this petition. The action to declare failure of elections is neither a pre-proclamation
controversy nor election contest.