Nuffnang

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Additional registrants will be "like chance passengers"

Like chance passengers in a fully booked flight, additional registrants for the 2010 polls could only vote if there would be extra ballots.  The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) will no longer print additional ballots for voters who will register starting December 21.

“We won’t be printing any additional ballots. They will be like chance passengers," COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez said on Saturday, reiterating an earlier statement made by Jose Melo, the chief of the poll body.

Aside from the ballots that are scheduled to be printed on January 28 based on the number of voters that had registered prior to the ruling of the Supreme Court, the poll body would no longer produce extra ballots, according to Jimenez.



There are over 49 million registered voters as of December 10. The ratio of ballot to voter was supposed to be one is to one.

“We can’t print anymore (ballots), we cannot delay it (poll preparations) anymore," Jimenez told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

He said additional voters could still vote if there would be “spare" ballots on election day. Jimenez said that “usually there’s low voter turnout" during the polls, thus there could still be extra ballots for additional registrants.

Last December 15, the Supreme Court extended the voter registration for the 2010 elections to January 9 after it nullified a Comelec resolution that limited the said registration to October 31, 2009.

In its nine-page decision, the high tribunal directed the Comelec to immediately reopen the registration as a reply to the petition of Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, who questioned the shortened period for registration.

Last week, in an interview with Mike Enriquez, Melo also said that additional registrants would be like “chance passengers."

Halimbawa, ang registered sa inyong presinto, 200, eh magpi-print po kami ng 200 ballots for that number.  Ngayon, hindi naman siguro pwedeng 100 percent ang turnout, baka magboto riyan mga 110 to 150, whatever. So, limit na number of ballots, yung mga nagpa-register ngayon, makahabol din. Dun sa number of ballots we will print, di na ho sila kasali do’n...," said Melo.

(For instance, if the number of registered voters in your precinct is 200, we will print 200. But the voter-turnout can’t be always 100 percent, it could be 110 to 150, whatever.  So those who will register could still have the chance to vote.  But they will no longer be included in the number of ballots that we will print.)

Asked by Enriquez if the situation could be compared to that of people taking chances to ride on an already passenger-loaded bus or board an already fully booked plane, Melo agreed, saying they could be compared to “chance passengers."

Asked if the poll body would be prepared for criticisms on its decision not to print additional ballots for new voters, Jimenez said that the COMELEC could no longer do anything about it because “this is what was already decided."

The tentative schedule for the continuation of registration has been set on December 21 to 23 and on 28 to 29.   Meanwhile, January 2 to 9 will be allotted for “administrative matters."

COMELEC Law Department head Ferdinand Rafanan said the poll body would post the list of the new applicants on January 4, giving the registrants until January 6 to file an opposition to any of the other registrations.

By January 9, the Election Registration Board is expected to begin its hearings to weed out ineligible registrants, according to Rafanan. - GMANews.TV

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Last Minute Registration Process Post Deadline


Even as various field offices of the COMELEC were already wrapping up at midnight of October 31, 2009, there were still long queues of voter applicants in some areas wanting to  get registered on the deadline of registration.  It was, however, a ministerial duty of Election Officers to receive the filled up forms of these applicants.  


But the dilemma is, if these applicants will still have to undergo the process of biometrics-taking after having submitted their application forms, the bell will have already tolled at midnight of the deadline.  The next second more would render these applicants to have registered out of time, and therefore, not having registered at all, hence not qualified to vote for the National and Local Elections in May 10, 2010. 


What the Election Officers did was just to gather these forms and advised the applicants to come back for the final stage of the process of registration -- the biometrics-taking.  The following day, however, was a holiday.  So, the next working day would be in November 3, 2009.  


But what is the legal basis for Election Officers to take the biometrics of voter applicants three days after the deadline?  This is the purpose for the Minute Resolution No. 09-0741 promulgated by the COMELEC En Banc on November 3, 2009.  The RESOLUTION reads as follows:


MINUTE RESOLUTION No. 09-0741

IN THE MATTER OF COMPLETING THE PROCESSING OF APPLICATIONS FOR REGISTRATION 
FILED LAST OCTOBER 31, 2009


Promulgated: 3 November 2009






In order to complete the processing of applications for registration filed last October 31, 2009, the Commission, after due deliberation, RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to direct all Election Officers concerned to continue the biometrics taking of those who filed applications for registration last October 31, 2009, on November 3, 2009, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, same day.
Let the Executive Director implement this resolution.
SO ORDERED.
(Sgd.) JOSE A.R. MELO
Chairman

(Sgd.) RENE V. SARMIENTO
Commissioner

(Sgd.) NICODEMO T. FERRER
Commissioner

(Sgd.) LUCENITO N. TAGLE
Commissioner

(Sgd.) ARMANDO C. VELASCO 
Commissioner

(Sgd.) ELIAS R. YUSOPH
Commissioner

(Sgd.) GREGORIO Y. LARRAZABAL 
Commissioner


PHOTO CREDIT:   philstar.com


Monday, November 9, 2009

May the Commission on Elections Postpone or Continue Elections?

Does the Commission on Elections have the power to postpone or continue elections?


This question is raised after news leaked out the other day saying that the poll chief airs concern over the possible delay in the delivery and configuration of the of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS), the machine that will count the ballot at the precinct level.


"I want to be sure that the machines will come on time.  Until I see it, I’m worried," Comelec chair Jose Melo told reporters in an interview.



The Commission on Elections expects the delivery of the first batch of 42, 200 PCOS machines in December, while the remaining 40,000 is to arrive in January.  


Although the poll officials say the preparations for the May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections are going smoothly, they have to be ready for major glitches coming up along the way.  


First, if the scheduled delivery of the PCOS machines pushes through smoothly, these machines have yet to undergo battery of tests before being configured for their respective precinct assignments.


"We’re still not out of the woods.  If we haven’t tested all the machines, what do we do?" Chairman Melo said, adding that if worse comes to worst, they would have to conduct a partial manual and partial automated elections.


Another development is now in the offing.  


A group called the Concerned Citizens' Movement is asking the High Court to nullify the P7.2 billion poll automation contract due to two "supervening events" after the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the deal.


In a 25-page supplemental motion filed by lawyer Harry Roque, the movement said the Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) group violated the terms of its contract with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).


The petition said that Smartmatic-TIM had failed to come up with telecommunications facilities and charged that the consortium had subcontracted the manufacture of its counting machines.


While Smartmatic-TIM is supposed to ensure 100-percent coverage for the immediate transmission of election results from precincts nationwide, the petition said that a private study of the contract showed that it did not have the facilities to do this.


While the merits of case will still have to be determined by the High Tribunal, this query is raised:  "May the COMELEC postpone or continue elections?"


The answer is in the affirmative.  


As a matter of fact, in the case of Sanchez vs. Commission on Elections, (114 SCRA 454), the Supreme Court ruled that the Commission on Elections is authorized to declare a failure of election because of the terrorism that attended the counting of the votes and the preparation of the election returns.


Likewise, Section 5 of B.P. Blg. 881 provides that:  


"When for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous cases 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 cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How the Automated Election in May 10, 2010 Go?

Yahoo Southeast Asia, together with Smartmatic-TIM has provided us with a demonstration video of the process of how the first automated elections in the Philippines on May 10, 2010 will go.


We suggest that you replay the video over and over again, to 
familiarize yourself with the whole process. 

And, please, help us disseminate the knowledge you have learned from this video. 

If you have some query, please feel FREE to write them hereunder, 
including your COMMENTS or suggestions.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Can COMELEC Annul An Election?

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is vested with the power to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of elections and to insure free, orderly, and honest elections.  Does its power include the authority to annul an election which may not have been free, orderly, and honest?


The Supreme Court, in holding that it does not include such authority, and that Article X, Section 2 of the 1935 Constitution [Guevara vs. Commission on Elections, 55 O.G. 1013] is merely preventive, said:


"It is intended to prevent any and all forms of election fraud or violation of the Election Law, but if it fails to accomplish that purpose, it is not the Commission on Elections that is charged with the duty to cure or remedy the resulting evil, but some other agencies of the Government.  The power to decide decisions involving the right to vote is expressly withheld from the Commission on Elections although, the right to vote is provided in the Election Law, the enforcement and administration of which is placed in the exclusive charge of the Commission.  Parallel to the withholding of such power from the Commission is the vesting in other agencies of the more inclusive power to decide all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of the Members of Congress namely, the Electoral Tribunal of the Senate in the case of the senators, and the Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives in the case of the members of the latter.  Election contests involving provincial and municipal officials are entrusted to the courts."  [Nationalista Party vs. Commission on Elections, 85 Phil. 149]


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Resolution No. 8692

IN THE MATTER OF AMENDING SECTIONS 5 AND 6 OF COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 8678, PROMULGATED OCTOBER 6, 2009, ENTITLED: "GUIDELINES ON THE FILING OF CERTIFICATES OF CANDIDACY AND NOMINATION OF OFFICIAL CANDIDATES OF REGISTERED POLITICAL PARTIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE MAY 10, 2010 NATIONAL AND LOCAL ELECTIONS" 

RESOLUTION No. 8692
(Promulgation:  5 November 2009)




"Sec. 5. Period for filing Certificate of Candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall be filed on regular days, from November 20 to 30, 2009, during office hours, except an the last day, which shall be until midnight.


Sec. 6. Certificates of nomination of official candidates by the political party. - The certificate of nomination of registered political parties or coalitions of political parties of their official candidates shall be filed, in five (5) copies, not later than the last day of filing of certificates of candidacy, 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. If the certificate of nomination of a candidate is filed within the period for filing of certificate of candidacy, but after his certificate of candidacy has been filed, a copy of the certificate of nomination shall be attached to the certificate of candidacy.


For this purpose, all registered political parties shall, not later than November 15, 2009, submit to the Law Department the names and specimen signatures of the authorized signatories to official party nominations.


x x x                             x x x                             x x x


After due deliberation, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to amend Sections 5 and 6 of Comelec Resolution No. 8678, promulgated October 6, 2009, to now read as follows:


"Sec. 5. Period for filing Certificate of Candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall be filed from 8:00 o'clock in the morning up to 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, beginning November 20, 2009 up to November 30, 2009, and up to midnight on December 1, 2009, inclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.


Sec. 6. Certificates of nomination of official candidates by the political party. - The certificate of nomination of registered political parties or coalitions of political parties of their official candidates shall be filed, in five (5) copies, not later than the last day of filing of certificates of candidacy, 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. If the certificate of nomination of a candidate is filed within the period for filing of certificate of candidacy, but after his certificate of candidacy has been filed, a copy of the certificate of nomination shall be attached to the certificate of candidacy.


       For this purpose, all registered political parties shall, not later than November 16, 2009, submit to the Law Department the names and specimen signatures of the authorized signatories to official party nominations.


x x x                              x x x                             x x x


The Education and Information Department shall cause the publication of this Resolution in two (2) daily newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines and give the same the widest dissemination possible and furnish copies thereof to all Regional Election Directors, Provincial Election Supervisors, Election Officers and accredited political parties and party-list organizations or coalitions participating in the party list system of representation.


SO ORDERED.


(Sgd.) JOSE A.R. MELO
Chairman

(Sgd.) RENE V. SARMIENTO            (Sgd.) NICODEMO T. FERRER
Commissioner                                Commissioner

(Sgd.) LUCENITO N. TAGLE                (Sgd.) ARMANDO C. VELASCO
Commissioner Commissioner

(Sgd.) ELIAS R. YUSOPH             (Sgd.) GREGORIO Y. LARRAZABAL
Commissioner                                    Commissioner

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Politicians To Sabotage 2010 Automated Polls?

Some unscrupulous politicians are planning to sabotage next year’s automated elections, a senator bared on Wednesday.

Senator Richard Gordon however could not substantiate his claims, saying only that he’d been receiving reports that some congressmen are planning to stop the implementation of the automated elections. 





“There are some people who are desperate. Natatakot sila na mahina yung kanilang kandidato (They are afraid that their bets would lose)," he said even as he expressed doubts that these politicians would succeed.

Hindi ko ipaglalaban yan passionately kung hindi ko nakikita na magwo-work yan (I would not have fought for it passionately if I did not see that it will work)," said the author of the Republic Act 9369 or the Amended Automated Elections System Law.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), on the other hand, dismissed the possibility of sabotage.

“Just trust the Comelec that we would ensure clean, honest and orderly elections in 2010," said Commissioner Ferdinand Rafanan in an earlier interview.

The poll body even said the the machines that will be used in the 2010 elections can even run without electricity.

“The machines can work on batteries for a total of sixteenhours, so even with a brownout, the machines will still work," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

The National Power Corporation (Napocor) said that it would require 
six billion pesos to ensure sufficient power supply on election day.

Renato Garcia, IT consultant of Comelec chairman Jose Melo, told reporters that the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines work like portable computers, which can run on backup power.

“Since these are practically laptops, backup power is not really a problem and consumption of energy is very low," he said.

A total of 42, 200 PCOS machines will arrive in December while another 40,000 will be delivered in January.
 - GMANews.TV

Monday, October 26, 2009

Resolution No. 8678 - Guidelines on the Filing of Certificates of Candidacy and Nomination of Official Candidates

RESOLUTION No. 8678
Guidelines on the Filing of Certificates of Candidacy and Nomination of Official Candidates of Registered Political Parties in Connection with the May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections
[Promulgation: 06 October 2009]

The Commission on Elections, by virtue of the power vested in it by the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, and other election laws, RESOLVED to promulgate as it hereby promulgates, the following rules and guidelines on the filing of certificates of candidacy and nomination of official candidates of registered political parties in connection with the May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections.

SEC. 1. Certificate of Candidacy. - a) No person shall be elected President, Vice-President, Senators, Member of the House of Representatives, Provincial, City or Municipal officials unless he files a sworn certificate of candidacy in the form prescribed by the Commission (prescribed forms attached), and within the period fixed herein.

b) No person shall be eligible for more than one office to be filled in the same election. If he files a certificate of candidacy for more than one office he shall not be eligible for either. However, before the expiration of the period for the filing of certificate of candidacy, the person who has filed more than one certificate of candidacy may declare under oath the office for which he desires to be eligible and cancel the certificate of candidacy for the other office or office/s. Said declaration shall be filed personally or through his duly authorized representative with the proper office in accordance with Sec. 3 hereof.

c) A person who has filed a certificate of candidacy may, prior to the election, withdraw the same pursuant to Sec. 13 hereof.

d) The filing of a withdrawal of a certificate of candidacy shall not affect whatever civil, criminal or administrative liabilities a candidate may have incurred.

SEC. 2. Contents of certificate of candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall be under oath and shall state that the person filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office and constituency stated therein; that he is eligible for said office, his age, sex, civil status, place and date of birth, his citizenship, whether natural-born or naturalized; the registered political party to which he belongs; if married, the full name of the spouse; his legal residence, giving the exact address, the precinct number, barangay, city or municipality and province where he is registered voter; his post office address for election purposes; his profession or occupation or employment; that he is not a permanent resident of an immigrant to a foreign country; that he will support and depend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, decrees, resolution, rules and regulations promulgated and issued by the duly-constituted authorities; that he assumes the foregoing obligations voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that the facts stated in the certificate are true and correct to the best of his own knowledge.

Unless a candidate has officially changed his name through a court-approved proceeding, a candidate shall use in a certificate of candidacy the name by which he has been baptized or if he has not been baptized in any church or religion, the name registered in the office of the local civil registrar or any other name under the provisions of existing law or, in the case of a Muslim, his Hadji name after performing the prescribed religious pilgrimage: provided, that when there are two or more candidates for an office with the same name and surname, each candidate, upon being made aware of such fact, shall state his paternal and maternal surname, except the incumbent who may continue to use the name and surname stated in his certificate of candidacy when he was elected.

The person filing the certificate of candidacy may include one nickname or stage name by which he is generally or popularly known in the locality; Provided: That no candidate shall use the nickname, stage name or initials of another. In case of several nicknames or stage names, only the nickname or stage name first written shall be considered.

Titles, such as DON, DATU, DOCTOR, GINOO, or words of similar imports shall not be allowed.

SEC. 3. Where to file certificate of candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall be filed in FIVE (5) LEGIBLE COPIES with the offices of the Commission specified hereunder:

1. Law Department, Commission on Elections:  -- For President, Vice-President and Senator.

2. Regional Election Director, NCR:  --  For Members of the House of Representatives for legislative districts in the National Capital Region (NCR);

3. Provincial Election Supervisor concerned:

          1) Members of the House of Representatives of legislative districts in provinces;

          2) For Provincial officials;

4. City Election Officer concerned designated for the purpose by the Regional Election Director.

          1) Members of the House of Representatives for legislative districts in cities outside the NCR, which comprise one or more legislative districts;

          2) For City Officials of cities with more than one election officer.

Copies of the designation of the Election Officer concerned shall immediately be submitted to the Law Department of the Commission;

5. City/Municipal Election Officer concerned: --  For City/Municipal Officials

The certificate of candidacy shall be filed by the candidate personally or by his duly authorized representative. No certificate of candidacy shall be filed or accepted by mail, telegram or facsimile. The authority of the authorized representative shall be in writing and under oath and attached to the certificate of candidacy.

Certificate of candidacy not filed with the correct offices as enumerated above shall not be accepted.

The filing of the certificate of candidacy of a substitute candidate, in case of valid substitution, shall be filed in accordance with Sec. 13 hereof.

The form of the certificate of candidacy shall be distributed free of charge and no filing fee shall be imposed.

SEC. 4. Effects of Filing Certificates of Candidacy. - a) Any person holding a public appointive office or position including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy.

b) Any person holding an elective office or position shall not be considered resigned upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy for the same or any other elective office or position.

SEC. 5. Period for filing Certificate of Candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall be filed on regular days, from November 20 to 30, 2009, during office hours, except on the last day, which shall be until midnight.

SEC. 6. Certificates of nomination of official candidates by the political party. - The certificate of nomination of registered political parties or coalitions of political parties of their official candidates shall be filed, in five (5) copies, not later than the last day for filing of certificates of candidacy, 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. If the certificate of nomination of a candidate is filed within the period for filing of certificate of candidacy, but after his certificate of candidacy has been filed, a copy of the certificate of nomination shall be attached to the certificate of candidacy.

For this purpose, all registered political parties shall, not later than November 15, 2009, submit to the Law Department the names and specimen signatures of the authorized signatories to official party nominations.

No certificate of nomination or any amendment thereto shall be filed after the last day for filing of certificate of candidacy, except in case of valid substitution under Sec. 13 hereof.

No political party shall be allowed to nominate candidates more than the number of persons required to be voted for in an elective position. In such a situation, all of the nominations shall be denied due course by the Commission.



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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ten more days before the deadline to register as a voter


There are barely ten (10) days to go before the deadline to register as a voter.  If you wish to vote on May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections, you better get registered NOW!!


With ten days left before the October 31, 2009 deadline, the Commission on Elections has reiterated its call for qualified voters nationwide to register.

“We are aware that a lot of Filipinos choose to register at the last minute. So in order to accommodate them and also to address the growing crowds at our field offices as we near the registration deadline, the COMELEC en banc has ordered the extension of office hours in all registration centers nationwide. Registration is also extended until Sundays in calamity areas of Luzon,” said COMELEC spokesman James Jimenez.

The poll body spokesman said starting October 22, 2009 until October 30, 2009, registration hours in COMELEC field offices nationwide will now be until 9:00 PM. On October 31, the last day of registration, COMELEC offices will be open until midnight, he said.

Jimenez also added that the COMELEC has allowed voters registration on Sundays (October 18 and 25) but only in calamity stricken areas of Luzon such as Regions I, II, III, IV-A, V, CAR, and NCR.

Meanwhile, Jimenez said voters’ registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will run daily (Mondays to Sundays) from October 19, 2009 until October 31, 2009 according to COMELEC Minute Resolution No. 09-0661.

Jimenez however noted that voters’ validation will be suspended to give way for new registrants.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hipe vs COMELEC et al., G.R. No. 181528

EN BANC


HECTOR T. HIPE, Petitioner,

 - versus -
  
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and MA. CRISTINA L. VICENCIORespondents.


G.R. No. 181528
(October 2, 2009)


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

D E C I S I O N


VELASCO, JR., J.:

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65, of the Rules of Court seeking to nullify and enjoin the implementation of the January 30, 2008 Resolution[1] issued by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En Banc, which affirmed the July 11, 2007 Resolution[2] issued by its Second Division.

The Facts

Petitioner Hector T. Hipe and respondent Ma. Cristina L. Vicencio were candidates for the mayoralty post in Catubig, Northern Samar in the May 14, 2007 elections. During the canvass proceedings of the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Catubig, Northern Samar (MBOC), Vicencio petitioned for the exclusion of seven election returns of Precinct Nos. 0037B, 0052A, 0053A, 0058A, 0080A, 0081A and 0082A on the grounds that they were prepared under duress, threats, intimidation or coercion; and that the election was marred by massive vote buying, widespread coercion, terrorism, threats, and intimidation, preventing voters from voting, so that the said returns did not reflect the will of the electorate.[3] In support of the said petition for exclusion, Vicencio presented affidavits of some of the members of the Board of Election Inspectors, a sample ballot and an ISO Assessment.[4]

On May 19, 2007, the MBOC ruled in favor of Vicencio and excluded the seven election returns adverted to. On the same day, petitioner Hipe filed a notice of appeal. Thereafter, on May 29, 2007, petitioner Hipe filed his Verified Appeal with the COMELEC, docketed as SPC No. 07-206 entitled “In the Matter of the Petitions to Exclude Election Returns, Hector T. Hipe vs. Ma. Cristina L. Vicencio,” arguing that the written petition to exclude the election returns was filed out of time, and that the grounds used to exclude the questioned returns were not proper for a pre-proclamation controversy, were not supported by credible evidence, and were beyond the jurisdiction of the MBOC.[5]

In a July 11, 2007 Resolution,[6] the Second Division of COMELEC dismissed the appeal for being filed out of time.  As stated in the dispositive portion of the said Resolution:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Verified Appeal is hereby dismissed for being filed out of time.  
SO ORDERED.[7]

Subsequently, on July 17, 2007, petitioner Hipe filed a Motion for Reconsideration.[8] On even date, respondent Vicencio was proclaimed as the mayor.[9] On January 30, 2008, the COMELEC En Banc resolved to deny petitioner Hipe’s Motion for Reconsideration.[10]

In the challenged Resolution,[11] the COMELEC En Banc held that the ruling of the MBOC had already attained finality considering that the filing of the Verified Appeal with the COMELEC was five days late. It stated that the filing of the Verified Appeal should have been made within the inextendible period of five days from the filing of the written and verified notice of appeal with the MBOC, with which petitioner Hipe failed to comply. Further, the COMELEC En Banc held that it was already deprived of proper jurisdiction to entertain the instant case since the case should no longer be considered as a pre-proclamation controversy, but should rather be ventilated in an election protest. In addition, the COMELEC En Banc stated that the ruling of the MBOC was amply supported by the affidavits of the Members of the Board of Election Inspectors, and that the MBOC retained sufficient discretion to avail itself of all available means to ascertain the results of the elections through witnesses, as well as through an examination of the election returns themselves.

The dispositive portion of the January 30, 2008 Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission (En Banc) RESOLVED as it hereby RESOLVES, to deny the instant Motion for Reconsideration filed by Appellant-Movant Hector Hipe. The questioned Resolution dated July 11, 2007, issued by the Second Division of the Commission on Elections for the exclusion of seven (7) election returns in favor of the appellee, Maria Cristina L. Vicencio, therefore, stands and remains valid.  
            SO ORDERED.[12]

Aggrieved, Hipe filed this petition.

The Issue

Whether or not the COMELEC En Banc acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing its challenged Resolution dated January 30, 2008, which affirmed the Resolution dated July 11, 2007 issued by its Second Division dismissing petitioner Hipe’s appeal for being filed out of time.

Our Ruling

The petition is partly meritorious.

Appeal Should Be Given Due Course

In its En Banc Resolution, the COMELEC held that the ruling of the MBOC had already become final and executory; and thus, its Second Division had not acquired appellate jurisdiction to act on Hipe’s verified appeal. In support of its ruling, the COMELEC En Banc relied on the Certification issued by Renato I. Madronio, Acting Election Officer II, Catubig, Northern Samar, attesting that hard or printed copies of the MBOC’s ruling to exclude the seven contested election returns were received by Atty. V.B. Desales, counsel for the KAMPI-Liberal Party Coalition, at 10:37 p.m. on May 19, 2007 at the provincial Election Supervisor’s Office.[13]   On this basis, the COMELEC En Banc opined that when petitioner Hipe filed the Verified Appeal on May 29, 2009, said filing was already five days late and should no longer be entertained.

We disagree.  Indeed, there is a disputable presumption that official duty has been regularly performed;[14] and that, corollary thereto, it is presumed that in its disposition of the contested election returns, the MBOC has regularly performed its official duty of issuing a written ruling on the prescribed form, authenticated by the signatures of its members as required under Section 20(d) of Republic Act No. 7166.[15]  In fact, the alleged issuance and service upon the supposed counsel of petitioner Hipe of the written ruling of MBOC was even supported by the aforementioned Certification of the Chairperson of the MBOC.

The records would, however, reveal that Atty. Venerando B. Desales, the counsel who was supposedly furnished the alleged written ruling of the MBOC, has denied under oath that he ever received a copy of the alleged written ruling.[16]  He even categorically denied in his Affidavit that he was the counsel of petitioner Hipe.[17]

Notably, nothing in the Status of Canvass Report[18] or in the Minutes of the Proceedings of the MBOC on May 19, 2007[19] showed that a written ruling on the petition for exclusion has been rendered by the MBOC or received by petitioner Hipe.

On the contrary, a perusal of the Minutes of the Proceedings of the MBOC on May 19, 2007 would reveal that Election Officer Madronio even notified the counsels of petitioner Hipe that, as of that time, the Municipal COMELEC Office still did not have the prescribed form of the ruling, and that they would still have to get the prescribed forms in Catarman.[20] This militates against Madronio’s statement in his Certification that hard or printed copies of the ruling of the MBOC were furnished to Atty. Desales on that same day.

When a plaintiff’s case depends upon the establishment of a negative fact, and the means of proving the fact are equally within the control of each party, then the burden of proof is upon the party averring the negative fact.[21]

In the case at bar, petitioner Hipe asserted the negative fact, that is, that no copy of the written ruling of the MBOC was sent to him or his counsel.  Thus, petitioner Hipe has the burden of proof to show that he was not furnished with a copy of the written ruling of the MBOC, which he was able to successfully prove in the instant case. Be that as it may, it then becomes incumbent upon respondent Vicencio to prove otherwise. This is because the burden of evidence is shifted if the party upon whom it is lodged was able to adduce preponderant evidence to prove its claim.[22]

Significantly, other than Madronio’s statement in his Certification that hard or printed copies of the ruling of the MBOC were furnished to Atty. Desales on May 19, 2007, no other evidence was adduced by respondent Vicencio to support her claim. If indeed such written ruling exists and was indeed furnished to petitioner Hipe or his alleged counsel, it would have been very easy for respondent Vicencio to produce a copy of the written ruling with the signature of petitioner Hipe or his counsel, which she failed to do in the instant case.

 Furthermore, the COMELEC has the discretion to construe its rules liberally and, at the same time, suspend the rules or any of their portions in the interest of justice.[23] As aptly stated by Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento in his Dissenting Opinion:[24]

It is well settled that election laws should be reasonably and liberally construed to achieve their purpose – to effectuate and safeguard the will of the electorate in the choice of their representatives. The courts frown upon any interpretation that would hinder in any way not only the free and intelligent casting of votes in any election but also the correct ascertainment of the results thereof. 
Disputes in the outcome of elections involve public interest.
Technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate in the choice of their elective officials. Laws governing such disputes must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by mere technicalities. Hence, it is submitted that there is a need to suspend the procedural rules and resolve the merits of the case to promote justice and safeguard the will of the electorate of Catubig, Northern Samar.

Accordingly, the COMELEC should have not dismissed the appeal filed by petitioner Hipe on the ground of belated filing.

[1]     [2]     [3]

COMELEC Delists 26 Partylist Organizations


RESOLUTION No. 8679


IN THE MATTER OF THE FAILURE OF PARTY-LIST ORGANIZATIONS
TO COMPLY WITH SECTION 6(8) OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7941


(Promulgation: 13 October 2009)


WHEREAS, there are national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations currently registered under the party-list system; 

WHEREAS, Section 6, item no. 8 of Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, provides:
       "Section 6. Removal and/or Cancellation of Registration. - The COMELEC may motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, remove or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on any of the following grounds:
x x x              x x x              x x x

       (8) It fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered.”
WHEREAS, Comelec Resolution No. 2847 promulgated 25 June 1996 entitled: “In Re: Rules and Regulations Governing the Election of the Party-List Representatives through the Party-List System”, which states:
       "Sec. 6. Removal and/or Cancellation of Registration. - The Commission may motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, remove or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on any of the following grounds:

x x x          x x x         x x x


       (8) It fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered.”
WHEREAS, a party registered for the two (2) preceding elections shall be considered to have failed to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system if the latest “Party-List Canvass Reports” for said elections show that the percentage obtained by said party did not reach two per centum (2%) of the votes cast therein. However, this shall not apply if a party, although receiving less than two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the May 2007 National Elections, was allocated a seat during said election pursuant to the Decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) vs. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 179271, and Bayan Muna, A Teacher, and Abono vs. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 179295, as well as, the Resolutions of the Commission implementing the said Decision.


NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the powers granted by the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, Republic Act No. 7941 and other election laws, the Commission hereby orders:

1. To DELETE the following party-list from the list of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions:
    Participation/Percentage of Votes

    May 10, 2004 Elections
    May 14, 2007 Elections
    Reasons for Deletion
    1. AGING PINOY
    0.2156 %
    0.10%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    2. AHONBAYAN
    0.5544%
    0.51 %
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    3. AKSA
    1.2204 %
    0.36%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    4. AKAPIN
    0.6762%
    0.48 %
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    5. ASAP
    0.3919%
    0.22%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    6. A SMILE
    1.0481 %
    0.35%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    7. ASSALAM
    0.7307%
    0.72%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    8. BTM
    0.4146%
    0.39%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    9. BAHANDI
    0.4815%
    0.30%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    10. COCOFED
    1.2516%
    0.99%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    11. GRECON
    0.2652%
    0.40%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    12. NELFFI
    0.1036%
    0.37%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    13. PMAP
    1.1291%
    0.47%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    14. SM
    0.0618%
    0.15%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    15. SANLAKAS
    1.4782%
    0.62%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    16. SPI
    0.5097%
    0.32%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    17. SUARA
    1.4597
    0.73%
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and 2007 election
    18. ABANSE! PINAY
    Did not participate
    0.82%
    Did not participate in the 2004 elections and failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2007
    19. MIGRANTE
    0.8644%
    Did not participate
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and did not participate in the 2007 elections
    20. AK
    0.7195
    Did not participate
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and did not participate in the 2007 elections
    21. PCDO-ACT0
    0.2981%
    Did not participate
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and did not participate in the 2007 elections
    23. PGBI
    1.6900
    Did not participate
    Failed to get two percent of the votes cast in 2004 and did not participate in the 2007 elections
    24. ANAK MAHIRAP
    Did not participate
    Did not participate
    Did not participate in the 2004 and 2007 elections
    25. * ABA
    Did not participate
    Did not participate
    Participated as coalition
    26. * AKO
    Did not participate
    Did not participate
    Participated as coalition

    * ABA-AKO coalesced on January 6,2004 and participated as a coalition during 2004 and 2007 Elections

    Any national, regional sectoral party or organizations or coalitions adversely affected may personally or through authorized representative file a verified opposition on October 26, 2009 during office hours. The Clerk of the Commission shall assign a docket number which must be consecutive according to the order of receipt and must bear the year and prefixed as SPP (MP).


    Let the Education and Information Department publish this resolution immediately in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.


    SO ORDERED.

    (Sgd.) JOSE A.R. MELO
    Chairman
    (Sgd.) RENE V. SARMIENTO
    Commissioner
    (Sgd.) NICODEMO T. FERRER
    Commissioner
    (Sgd.) LUCENITO N. TAGLE
    Commissioner
    (Sgd.) ARMANDO C. VELASCO
    Commissioner
    (Sgd.) ELIAS R. YUSOPH
    Commissioner







    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Hipe vs COMELEC et al., G.R. No. 181528 [3]

    [1]     [2]     [3]

    Respondent Vicencio Substantially Complied 
    with theRequirement that Objections Be Made in Writing
      
    Petitioner Hipe contends that the written petition to exclude the election returns was filed beyond the prescribed time or almost 24 hours after the oral petition to exclude was manifested by the counsels of respondent Vicencio; hence, the latter’s objections were raised out of time.[31]

    This contention is without merit.

    While the records reveal that respondent Vicencio manifested her oral objections on May 15, 2007 at around 7:00 p.m.,[32] filed the written objections on May 16, 2007 at 6:40 p.m., and submitted the documentary evidence in support of the protest at 2:45 p.m. only on the following day, the Court nevertheless considers the foregoing acts of Vicencio as substantial compliance with the requirement that objections be reduced into writing.

    In Marabur v. COMELEC,[33] we held that while respondent failed to submit his written objections, respondent’s submission of his formal offer of evidence, including the evidence itself, within the prescribed period constituted substantial compliance with the requirement that objections be reduced into writing.

    Notably, the relaxation of the rules becomes all the more necessary in the instant case, considering that respondent Vicencio has even filed his written objections within the prescribed period; and soon thereafter, the documentary evidence in support of the written objections.

    Technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand in the way if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the electorate’s true will in the choice of its elective officials.[34]

    It should be borne in mind that the object of the canvass is to determine the result of the elections based on the official election returns. In order that the result of the canvass would reflect the true expression of the people’s will in the choice of their elective officials, the canvass must be based on true, genuine, correct––nay, untampered––election returns.[35] It is in these proceedings that the COMELEC exercises its supervisory and administrative power in the enforcement of laws relative to the conduct of elections, by seeing to it that the canvass is based on the election returns as actually certified by the members of the board of inspectors.[36]

    Taking into consideration the findings of the COMELEC En Banc that there was ample evidence to support the exclusion of the seven election returns in question based on the grounds raised by respondent Vicencio, this should suffice in upholding the latter’s proclamation, absent a finding of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC En Banc, in order not to frustrate the electorate’s will.

      
    WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED.  The January 30, 2008 COMELEC En Banc Resolution and the July 11, 2007 COMELEC Second Division Resolution are hereby SET ASIDE insofar as they dismissed petitioner Hipe’s appeal. The January 30, 2008 COMELEC En Banc Resolution is, however, AFFIRMED insofar as it declared the seven election returns of Precinct Nos. 0037B, 0052A, 0053A, 0058A, 0080A, 0081A and 0082A to be valid.

    SO ORDERED.


                                                              PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
                                                                         Associate Justice

    WE CONCUR:


              REYNATO S. PUNO
                     Chief Justice


                               (On official leave)                                                                    
           LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING               CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
              Associate Justice                                          Associate Justice


            (On official leave)
                   ANTONIO T. CARPIO                            RENATO C. CORONA
             Associate Justice                                             Associate Justice


                                
       CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES                   MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
            Associate Justice                                             Associate Justice

          

      ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA       TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
                            Associate Justice                                                 Associate Justice


                   (On leave)
         ARTURO D. BRION                              DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
              Associate Justice                                            Associate Justice



                    LUCAS P. BERSAMIN                       MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
            Associate Justice                                            Associate Justice


    ROBERTO A. ABAD
    Associate Justice



    C E R T I F I C A T I O N


              Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.


    REYNATO S. PUNO
    Chief Justice


                    * On official leave.
                    ** On leave.

                    [1] Rollo, pp. 36-47.
                    [2] Id. at 48-55.
                    [3] COMELEC records, pp. 16-36.
                    [4] Id. at 6-7.
                    [5] Id. at 1-11.
                    [6] Rollo, pp. 48-55.
    [7] Id. at 51.
                    [8] Id. at 160-169.
                    [9] Id. at 42-43.
                    [10] Id. at 46-47.
                    [11] Id. at 36-47.
                    [12] Id. at 11-12.
                    [13] Id. at 38.
                    [14] See RULES OF COURT, Rule 131, Sec. 3(m).
                    [15] An Act Providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections and for Electoral Reforms, Authorizing Appropriations Therefor, and for Other Purposes.
                    [16] COMELEC records, p. 146.
                    [17] Id.
                    [18] Id. at 147.
                    [19] Id. at 113-121.
                    [20] Id. at 119.
                    [21] Spouses Cheng v. Spouses Dailisan, G.R. No. 182485, July 3, 2009.
                    [22] Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Royeca, G.R. No. 176664, July 21, 2008, 559 SCRA 207; citing Asian Transmission Corporation v. Canlubang Sugar Estates, G.R. No. 142383, August 29, 2003, 410 SCRA 202.
                    [23] Abainza v. Arellano, G.R. No. 181644, December 8, 2008, 573 SCRA 332, 340; citing Suliguin v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 166046, March 23, 2006, 485 SCRA 227.
                    [24] Rollo, pp. 60-63.
                    [25] Id. at 23.
                    [26] Dagloc v. COMELEC, G.R. Nos. 154442-47, December 10, 2003, 417 SCRA 574, 594; citing Sison v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 134096, March 3, 1999, 304 SCRA 170, 179.
                    [27] Dagloc, id.; citing Mastura v. COMELEC (Second Division), G.R. No. 124521, January 29, 1998, 285 SCRA 493, 499.
                    [28] Rollo, p. 45.
                    [29] COMELEC records, p. 79.
                    [30] Rollo, p. 45.
                    [31] Id. at 19-20.
                    [32] COMELEC records, pp. 109-110.
                    [33] G.R. No. 169513, February 26, 2007, 516 SCRA 696.
                    [34] Marabur v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 169513, February 26, 2007, 516 SCRA 696.
                    [35] Cauton v. COMELEC, No. L-25467, April 27, 1967, 19 SCRA 911.
                    [36] Id.

    [1]     [2]     [3]

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