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Abagat, Ajihil, Amorado, Armamento, Balina, Bonzo, Castillo,
Chua, Leachon, Lim, Mendoza, Navata, Peñafiel, Santos,Tan Tuaño, Ukol, Uy

Brief History Power and Functions

 Prior to COMELEC, it was the Executive Bureau Administrative
under the Department of Interior that supervised General Rule: Similar to the Civil Service
the conduct of elections. Commission, the COMELEC is an
 To prevent abuse of power brought about by the administrative agency. Thus, it possesses (1)
close official ties between the President and the executive, (2) quasi-judicial and (3) quasi-
Secretary of Interior, the Constitution was legislative powers.
amended in 1940 to create an independent Exception: It has judicial power as “sole judge of
Commission on Elections. all contests relating to the (1) elections, (2)
returns and (3) qualifications of all elective
 On June 21, 1941, Commonwealth Act No. 657 was
local officials.” According to Sec. 50, Batas
enacted reorganizing the Commission on Elections Pambansa Blg. 697, COMELEC, as an
as a constitutional entity. administrative agency, has the power to issue
writs of certiorari, mandamus, quo warranto or
General Purpose habeas corpus, but only in aid of its appellate
 Its principal role is to ensure that all laws and jurisdiction over election protest cases
regulations regarding the conduct of elections are involving municipal officials decided by courts
followed and enforced. Historical Development
1935 Constitution
Composition and terms in office and UTUTAAN V. COMELEC held that the
 1 Chairman - term of 7 years COMELEC’S powers are merely preventive,
 6 Commissioners not curative, and are only executive
(enforcement) and administrative
o 3 commissioners: term of 7 years
(administration) in nature. However, in
o 2 commissioners: term of 5 years
subsequent cases, the COURT
o 1 commissioner: term of 3 years acknowledged that the COMELEC has
Appointment curative functions by nullifying
 By the incumbent President with the consent of improperly made canvass.
the Commission on Appointments 1973 Constitution
 Appointment due to vacancy allowed (unexpired COMELEC was not only given
portion of the term of the predecessor). administrative power of deciding all cases
 Reappointment is prohibited. relative to the conduct of election, but was
also given the judicial power to be the sole
Qualifications judge of all contests relating to election,
1. Natural born-citizens of the Philippines; returns, and qualifications of all members of
2. At the time of their appointment, at least thirty- the Batas Pambansa and elective provincial
five years of age; and city officials. Moreover, it was given the
power to annul election returns, reject
3. Holders of college degrees however, majority,
election returns, and power to call
including the Chairman, must be members of the
special elections.
Philippine Bar with ten years of the practice of 1987 Constitution
law; Possesses the extensive administrative
4. Must NOT have been candidates for any elective powers under the 1935 and 1973
position in the election immediately preceding Constitutions, as well as the power to
their appointment. ascertain the identity of political parties and
their legitimate officers.
Incumbent COMELEC: Election Contest (Jurisdiction)
 Chairman: Sheriff M. Abas Power to judge election contests:
 Commissioners:  Jurisdiction is given to the Department
1. Luie Tito F. Guia of Local Government
2. Rowena Guanzon  Exclusive original jurisdiction over all
3. Al A. Parreño contests relating to the elections,
4. Socorro B. Inting returns, and qualifications of all
5. Marlon S. Casquejo elective regional, provincial, and city
officials, and appellate jurisdiction over
6. Antonio T. Kho
all contests involving elective Deputizing
municipal officials decided by trial  The agencies that the COMELEC can deputize for
courts of general jurisdiction, or the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly,
involving elective barangay officials honest, peaceful and credible elections are part
decided by trial courts of limited of the Executive Department.
jurisdiction  Thus, the power of the COMELEC to deputize law
 General rule: PROCLAMATION of
enforcement agencies is dependent on the
congressional candidates divests
concurrence of the President.
COMELEC of jurisdiction in favor of the
proper Electoral Tribunal Registration of parties and organizations
 COMELEC still retains the power to  A political party or an organization acquires
decide controversies (e.g. correction of juridical personality by registration. If it is duly
manifest errors) in the case of local registered, it acquires juridical personality; if it
elected officials does not register, it is a simple aggrupation of
 Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the discrete individuals exercising the right of
COMELEC contests involving elective association, but the association does not enjoy
municipal and barangay offices shall be the benefits deriving from possession of juridical
final, executory, and not appealable. personality.
 BEFORE proclamation: Any problem  An unregistered party or organization cannot
should be resolved in a “pre- participate in the party-list system.
proclamation” proceeding by the  Power of commission to register includes the
power to de-register
 AFTER proclamation
 Registration informs the people of the party’s or
 Controversy should already be a
“contest” (a defeated candidate organization’s existence and of its ideals, and it
ousting the winner and claims the identifies the parties and its officers for purposes
seat) of regulation by the Commission on Elections.
 Tribunals and the courts have  Exceptions to 2(5)
jurisdiction o Religious denominations and sects;
 The Broad discretion of the COMELEC o Those which seek to achieve their goals
is subject to a review power of the through violence and unlawful means
Supreme Court (through certiorari o Those which refuse to uphold and
under Rule 65) adhere to this Constitution; and
 When the COMELEC nullifies a o Those supported by foreign government
proclamation, the subsisting and agencies
controversy is reverted to a "pre- Prosecution
proclamation" status coming under  Duty to prosecute election offenses in order to
Section 2(1) and (3). ensure a free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and
 Moment of proclamation is recognized
credible elections.
as the absolute dividing line between
contests and pre-proclamation  The complainant, who accuses a person of having
controversies. committed an election offense has the burden to
 Pre-Proclamation jurisdiction vs follow through and prove his complaint.
Jurisdiction over contests Recommendatory
o Pre-proclamation- administrative or The recommendatory powers of the COMELEC are limited
quasi-judicial; less stringent to the provisions stated in the Constitution. These are the
requirements of administrative due following:
process  Recommend to the Congress effective measures
o Contests- judicial; governed by to minimize election spending, including
requirements of judicial due limitation of places where propaganda materials
process shall be posted, and to prevent and penalize all
Powers not given forms of election frauds, offenses, malpractices,
 No power to decide on judicial questions like the and nuisance candidacies.
right to vote or whether a person has the right or  Recommend to the President the removal of any
is precluded from exercising the right. officer or employee it has deputized, or the
 No power to transfer whole municipalities. imposition of any other disciplinary action, for
 By its exercise of adjudicatory or quasi-judicial violation or disregard of, or disobedience to, its
powers, COMELEC is mandated to hear and directive, order, or decision.
decide cases first by division. It is upon motion for  Submit to the President and the Congress, a
reconsideration wherein it is brought to the comprehensive report on the conduct of each
election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, or 1. Presidential and Vice-President, Senators:
recall. 90 days
Decision 2. Congressmen and local elections: 45 days
 Rules: should expedite the disposition of election 3. Barangay election:15 days.
cases. It does not require unanimity and can be 4. Special election: 45 days
reached by a majority vote, either sitting en banc
on in division. Pardon and favorable recommendation
 Procedures: The Omnibus Election Code says  This provision is the same as that in the 1973
that the COMELEC shall decide cases brought Constitution except for the specification that the
before it within ninety days from the date of recommendation of the Commission must be
submission. “favorable”
 Division: Shall be decided in division, particularly  In Risos-Vidal, there are 3 instances in which
election cases in the first instance. Election cases the President may not extend pardon
decided by en banc in the first instance is null and remain to be in:
void. (1) Impeachment cases;
o Motions for Reconsideration, on the (2) Cases that have not yet resulted in a
other hand, shall be decided en banc. final conviction; and
Sitting en banc is required only when (3) Cases involving violations of election
the subject for reconsideration is a laws, rules and regulations in which
there was no favorable
resolution of substantive decisions. In
recommendation coming from the
addition to that, certiorari is limited to
decisions of the COMELEC en banc. Political Right
Regulation/Supervision (Section 4)
 Sec 6: A free and open party system that evolves
 The power to regulate media is given to the according to the free choice of the people
COMELEC. Sec. 4 is a regulation of rule-making
 Sec. 7: Only registered political parties,
authority. Hence, should the law be repealed, the
organization or coalition under the party list
COMELEC would still have the power to impose a
system are valid
similar regulation.
 Sec 8: Political parties, organizations or coalitions
 National Press Club v. COMELEC held that the
registered under the party list system are not
Electoral Reforms Law of 1987 prohibits any mass
allowed to be represented in the (1) voter’s
media to sell or to give free of charge print space
registration boards, (2) boards of election
or air time for campaign or any other political
inspectors, (3) boards of canvassers or (4) other
purposes. This is due to the equalization of the
similar bodies. But are entitled to appoint poll
candidates notwithstanding the fact that they are
watchers in accordance with the law.
poor or rich, they all have equal opportunity
 In the 1935 Constitution, up until the 1971
which is also protected under the Bill of Rights.
Election Code, only recognized two major
 Philippine Press Institute v. COMELEC, however
political parties, the Liberal (Partido Liberal) and
ruled that print media may not be compelled to
the Nationalist (Nacionalista Party). This resulted
allocate free space to the Commission. Since it
in the stranglehold, which two major political
would amount to taking property without just
parties had on the electoral process
 The 1973 Constitution hoped that the
abolishment of the Commission on
Election Code
Appointments and the Electoral Tribunal would
 Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as
liberate the electoral process from the
the Omnibus Election Code is the basic law on
Philippine elections. While legislations have been
 The 1981 amendments removed the possibility
enacted every time an election is scheduled, the
for accreditation on the local level and tightened
Omnibus Election Code remains the
the requirements for national accreditation.
fundamental law on Philippine Election law.
 The 1987 Constitution upheld the multi-party
 The Election period in the Philippines commences
system once again. Commissioner Ople said, a
90 days before the day of the election and shall
free and open party system means "a
end 30 days thereafter.
disengagement from the sterile two-party system
 As for the Campaign period in the Philippines, it
of the past and the multi-party system will be
will vary depending on the position reckoned
allowed to develop.
from the day before the actual election day as
Election Period vs. Campaign Period
 Election period - 90 days before the day of the petition with COMELEC to nullify the elections.
election to 30 days thereafter. However, the COMELEC partially granted Drilon’s petition and
Commission is authorized to fix a different period ordered a holding of a new election, stating that
on special cases. Atienza’s current position of LP President was only in
 Campaign period - period of active solicitation of a holdover capacity. LP held a meeting to elect new
votes which is set by the legislature for a period party leaders before Drilon’s term ended, thus Manuel
less than the election period provided in Section Roxas II was elected as new LP President. The Court
9. ruled that COMELEC has jurisdiction over intra-party
disputes if the issues are necessary to its
Equal Protection of Candidates (Sec. 10) constitutional functions. In this case, the issue of
 To be understood to reference to candidates who leadership is necessary to the COMELEC’s function of
do not run under a political party. registering political parties.
 It provides that if the State protects equal
protection to groups/individuals in political (3) Arroyo v DOJ
parties, it should extend the same protection to The issuance of Resolution No. 9266 by the COMELEC
people who are running as individuals. created a joint committee with the Department of
Justice (DOJ) which would conduct preliminary
Fiscal Autonomy (Sec. 11) investigation on the alleged election offenses and
 Funds certified by the Commission as necessary anomalies committed during the 2004 and 2007
to defray the expenses for holding regular and National Elections. Arroyo filed separate petitions for
special elections, plebiscites, initiatives, Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance
referenda, and recalls, shall be provided in the of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) assailing the
regular or special appropriations, and once creation of the Joint Committee, particularly on the
approved, shall be released automatically upon allegation that the existence of the Joint Committee
certification by the Chairman of the Commission. undermines the decisional independence of the
 This provision, together with the exemption of COMELEC. The Court ruled that it did not undermine
the Commission from pre-audit, should help the independence of COMELEC as a constitutional
towards strengthening the independence of the body as it is still within the power of the COMELEC to
Commission. determine the probable cause in accordance with its
Rules of Procedure. The creation of the Joint
Case Law Committee was adjudged as not repugnant to the
(1) Cayetano v Monsod doctrine of concurrent jurisdiction as there is no
Petitioner alleged that Monsod, who was confirmed prohibition on the simultaneous exercise to deal with
as COMELEC chair, does not have the required the same subject matter. The only settled rule is that
qualification of being “engaged in the practice of the body or agency that first takes cognizance of a
law for the last ten years.” complaint shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of
It was held that Monsod possessed the required other bodies.
qualification since his past work experiences as a
lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, lawyer-
negotiator of contracts all relate to the practice of
law. Here, Practice of Law was defined as any
activity in and of court, which requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge,
training and experience. Generally, to practice law
is to give notice or render any kind of service, which
requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or (4) Risos-Vidal v COMELEC
skill. Petitioner Atty. Alicia Risos-Vidal herein prays that
the COMELEC Resolutions be annulled and set aside,
(2) Atienza v COMELEC for having rendered it with GADALEJ; and petition-
Respondent Franklin Drilon, former President of intervener Alfredo S. Lim seeks to be declared the
Liberal Party, announced his party’s withdrawal of winner of 2013 elections for the Mayoral seat of
support for the administration of PGMA. Petitioner Manila, in lieu of respondent Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s
Jose L. Atienza, Jr., who was LP Chairman of the time, disqualification to run for public office. The Court held
and other members denounced Drilon’s move that then-President GMA’s extension of executive
claiming that he made the announcement without clemency under Sec. 19, Art. VII towards the Estrada
consulting his party. During a party conference, the was clear and express. The wording of the pardon,
assembly proceeded to declare Atienza as LP according to the Court, is complete, unambiguous,
President. Respondent Drilon immediately filed a and unqualified. It is likewise unfettered by Articles 36
and 41 of the Revised Penal Code. The only
reasonable, objective, and constitutional
interpretation of the language of the pardon is that
the same in fact conforms to the aforementioned
articles. In light of the foregoing, the case was
dismissed and that COMELEC did not commit

(5) GMA Network v COMELEC and Cayetano

GMA Network, together with other broadcasting
stations and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano assailed
COMELEC Resolution No. 9615 for running counter
against the Constitution. The Court held that Section
9 (a) of said Resolution pertaining to airtime limitation
violates the constitutional guarantee of freedom of
expression, of speech and of the press. The assailed
rule on “aggregate-based” airtime limits is
unreasonable and arbitrary as it unduly restricts and
constrains the ability of candidates and political
parties to reach out and communicate with the
people. Here, the adverted reason for imposing the
“aggregate-based” airtime limits – leveling the
playing field – does not constitute a compelling state
interest, which would justify such a substantial
restriction on the freedom of candidates and political
parties to communicate their ideas, philosophies,
platforms and programs of government. The Court,
however, held that the Resolution itself does not
impose an unreasonable burden on the broadcast
industry. Broadcast stations are merely required to
submit certain documents to aid the COMELEC in
ensuring that candidates are not sold airtime in excess
of the allowed limits. The Court partially granted the
petition, ruling Sec. 9 (a) of the said Resolution
unconstitutional, while the other provisions not
affected and remain full in force.