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G.R. No. 120295 June 28, 1996 JUAN G. FRIVALDO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and RAUL R.

LEE, respondents. G.R. No. 123755 June 28, 1996 RAUL R. LEE, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and JUAN G. FRIVALDO, respondents. PANGANIBAN, J. Who should be declared the rightful governor of Sorsogon: a. Juan G. Frivaldo - Despite lack of Philippine citizenship, Frivaldo was elected governor with a margin of 27,000 votes in the 1988 elections, 57,000 in 1992, and 20,000 in 1995 over Raul Lee. Twice, he was disqualified but now claims that he now has Philippine Citizenship. b. Raul R. Lee second highest votes c. Oscar G. Deri - The incumbent Vice-Governor who should ascend Lee vs. Commission on Elections This is a special civil action under for certiorari and preliminary injunction to review and annul a Resolution of the respondent Comelec denying petitioner's (Raul Lee) motion for reconsideration. The Facts


Resolution suspending the proclamation of Frivaldo. Frivaldo assails the resolutions based on Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. He contends that the failure of the Comelec to act on the petition for disqualification within fifteen days prior to the election is a jurisdictional defect which renders the said Resolutions null and void. The Consolidated Issues


Was the repatriation of Frivaldo valid and legal?

2. 3. 4. 5.

Is it enough to qualify him to be proclaimed Governor? May it be given retroactive effect?

Is Frivaldo's disqualification for lack of Filipino citizenship a continuing bar to his eligibility to run for, be elected to or hold office as governor? Did the respondent Comelec have jurisdiction over Frivaldos petition? Was the proclamation of Lee valid and legal? Did the respondent Commission on Elections exceed its jurisdiction in promulgating the assailed Resolutions, given the Election Code provision?

Issue 1: Frivaldo's Repatriation Lees Contention Lee argues that P.D. No. 725 had been repealed. Cory Aquino in a memorandum which directed the special committee on naturalization to cease and desist from undertaking any and all proceedings. There were serious irregularities in the proceeding. The application was approved only in a day, which prevented careful evaluation of merits. Citizenship could only be effective as of Jun30,95 whereas the citizenship qualification prescribed must exist on the date of his election, if not when the certificate of candidacy is filed Court Findings - President Aquino did not expressly state that P.D. 725 was being repealed. It was just an executive policy. - It is a basic rule that repeals by implication are not favored unless it is clear that the two laws cannot co-exist. - no repeal - Frivaldo actually filed on Aug17,94 and that the special committee was reactivated only on Jun8,95. The process is easy and does not take much time. - Presumption of regularity of performance is to be rebutted. - Reference was mere obiter dictum - Sec. 39 of the Local Government Code does not specify any particular date or time when the candidate must possess citizenship

Juan G. Frivaldo filed for candidacy for governorship. This was contested by Raul Lee who filed a petition with the Comelec praying that Frivaldo be disqualified because he was not a Filipino citizen. Second Division of the Comelec promulgated a Resolution granting petition. The Motion for Reconsideration filed by Frivaldo remained unacted upon until after the elections. His candidacy continued and he was voted. Three days after, the Comelec affirmed the previous Resolution. Board of Canvassers completed the canvass of the election and determined that Frivaldo garnered the largest number of votes, followed by Lee. Lee filed another petition praying for his proclamation as Governor Petition was granted. Lee was declared Governor. Frivaldo filed a new petition. He alleged that he already took his oath of allegiance on June 30, 1995 and that there was no more legal impediment his proclamation as governor. In the alternative, Frivaldo averred that pursuant to the case of Labo vs. Comelec, the Vice-Governor should occupy said position of governor. On December 19, 1995, the Comelec First Division annulled the proclamation of Lee and proclaimed Frivaldo as rightful governor. Lee filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the Comelec. Thus, the a petition was filed (GR123755).

Purpose of the citizenship qualification is so that no person owing allegiance to another nation shall govern our people. Impediment no longer existed. It should be noted that Section 39 of the Local Government Code speaks of qualifications of officials, not of candidates. Citizenship is necessary at the time he is proclaimed and at the start of his term.

Frivaldo vs. Commission on Elections (same facts) This is a petition to annul three Resolutions of the respondent Comelec

1. 2.

Resolution disqualifying Frivaldo from running for governor of Sorsogon Resolution of the Comelec en banc, promulgated on May 11, 1995; and

Sub-Issue 1: Is Frivaldos election valid given that it is also a requirement that he be a voter, which in turn necessitates that he be a Phlippine citizen?

This is based on an assumption that the proclamation is no proclamation at all. Assumption of office cannot deprive the COMELEC of the power of declaration of nullity.

While the concern in citizenship is allegiance, being a registered voter requires that the official be registered as a voter IN THE AREA OR TERRITORY he seeks to govern. Lee has not disputed that Frivaldo is a registered voter of Sorsogon, and that the latters registration as a voter was sustained valid by judicial declaration. Frivaldo has voted in four elections. Frivaldo is a registered voter

Power to annul a proclamation must be done within ten days after proclamation and petition was filed after six. Comelec had jurisdiction.

Issue 4: Was Lees Proclamation Valid?

Lee: Had the people been aware of Frivaldos disqualification, they would not have voted for him. The electorate intentionally wasted their votes. It has not been shown that Frivaldos ineligibility was notoriously known. Decision as to the disqualification of candidate was not yet final as well. NO to issue. If Frivaldo was disqualified, the vice-governor ascends. In losing the election, Lee was obviously not the choice of the people The ineligibility of a candidate receiving majority votes does not entitle the eligible candidate receiving the next highest number of votes to be declared elected. A minority or defeated candidate cannot be deemed elected to the office.

Sub-Issue 2: Should the repatriation be given retroactive effect?

Laws which creates new rights are given retroactive effect. P.D. 725 creates a new right and also provides for a new remedy. o It granted a new right to women to re-acquire Filipino citizenship during their marriage to an alien; new right in favor of other natural born Filipinos who lost their Philippine citizenship but now desire to re-acquire Philippine citizenship through an easier process (repatriation instead of naturalization). Therefore, it was intended to give the decree retroactive effect Not just the decree, but even the repatriation granted under said law to Frivaldo is to be deemed to have retroacted to the date of his application on August 17, 1994. Retroactivity to the date of filing would prevent prejudice to applicants. If not given retroactive effect, applicants may become stateless. Since his repatriation has retroactive effect, his registration as a voter is validated. Retroactivity would not grant Frivaldo dual citizenship (which could have disqualified him) since he had long renounced his American citizenship. He was stateless when he renounced his US citizenship until repatriation.

Issue 5: Is Section 78 of the Election Code Mandatory?

Frivaldo claims that the assailed Resolutions of the Comelec disqualifying him should be annulled because of the 15-day prescription period. Issue is now moot and academic since it was already superseded by subsequent resolutions declaring Frivaldo governor. Section 78 is merely directory as Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 authorizes the Commission to try and decide petitions for disqualifications even after the elections. Comelec did not exceed jurisdiction.

Decision: Frivaldo is Governor (1) Lees petition is DISMISSED. The assailed Resolutions of the respondent Commission are AFFIRMED. (2) Frivaldos petition is also DISMISSED for being moot and academic. Separate Opinions PUNO, J., concurring:

Issue 2: Is Lack of Citizenship a Continuing Disqualification?

Lee: Court's two rulings that Frivaldo is an alien (previous elections) have become final and executory and is a continuing bar. NO. Decisions declaring the acquisition or denial of citizenship cannot govern a person's future status with finality. This is because a person may subsequently reacquire or lose his citizenship.

Issue 3: Does the Comelec have Jurisdiction Over Frivaldos Petition?

Upholding the sovereign will of the people. The sovereignty of our people is the primary postulate of the 1987 Constitution. Agrees with Davide that sovereignty is indivisible but it need not always be exercised by the people together, all the time. (only our district electorates vote for our congressmen, only our provincial electorates vote for the members of our provincial boards)

Lee: proclaimed on June 30, 1995 and Frivaldo filed the petition beyond the 5-day reglementary period. YES to issue. The Comelec has to power annul proclamations.

Issue is: whether the will of the voters be given a decisive value considering the uncertainty on when a candidate ought to satisfy the qualification of citizenship. Davide warns that should the people of Batanes stage a rebellion, we cannot prosecute them because of the doctrine of people's sovereignty. Analogy is not appropriate since rebellion is concededly a crime. In the case at bar, it cannot be held with certitude that the people of Sorsogon violated the law by voting for Frivaldo as governor. It will not be disastrous for the State if balance is tilted in favor of the people of Sorsogon. In election cases, courts should strive to align the will of the legislature as expressed in its law with the will of the sovereign people as expressed in their ballots. For law to reign, it must respect the will of the people.

Local Government Code refers to those of an elective local officials and not elected officials. (related to issue 1.1)

Only after taking the oath of allegiance shall applicants be deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship. (related to issue 1.2)

apply to candidates, laws would have stated so. Secondly, if Congress had meant that the qualification be possessed at election day at the latest, it would have done so as it did in the other qualifications. The provision should be understood as: that after taking the oath of allegiance the applicant is deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship, which reacquisition is deemed for all purposes and intents to have retroacted to the date of his application therefor.

Davides Dissent Davide argues that President Aquino's memorandum dated should be viewed as a suspension, not a repeal. (related to issue 1) Allowing Frivaldo to register and to remain as a registered voter makes a "mockery" of two previous judgments declaring him a non-citizen. (related to issue 1.2 and 2) Petition must be filed within the 25-day period prescribed therein. (related to issue 5) Frivaldo was not stateless prior to repatriation. Informal renunciation or is not a ground to lose American citizenship. (related to issue 1.2) Lee should be declared winner in all three elections because Frivaldo's ineligibility for being an American was publicly known (related to issue 4)

Refutation of Dissent Whether it decrees a suspension or a repeal is a purely academic distinction. Said issuance is not a statute that can amend or abrogate an existing law. Retroactivity did not change his disqualifications in 1988 and 1992. His qualification for the 1995 elections is the one affected. No mockery There is no inconsistency nor conflict. The court holds that issue may be decided even after the fifteen day period mentioned in Section 78. Courts cannot rule on the legal question of who are or who are not Americans. Furthermore, Comelec made a finding of fact to arrive at that conclusion. There is no evidence of public knowledge. It cannot also be public knowledge if it is still being tried in court. Declaring Lee as the winner would constitute post facto for the previous two elections. If the qualifications were intended to

The qualifications under Sec39 of the