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]

    Hipe vs COMELEC et al., G.R. No. 181528 [2]

    [1]     [2]     [3]

    The Exclusion of the Seven Election Returns
    Was Amply Supported by Evidence

    Nevertheless, even if we entertain petitioner Hipe’s appeal from the decision of the MBOC on the questioned election returns, the Court still rules in favor of respondent Vicencio.

    Petitioner Hipe claims that no proof was presented nor was there any showing that the seven election returns in question were defective.[25]   Such contention is not persuasive.

    The COMELEC, after a judicious evaluation of the documents on record, upheld the findings of the MBOC to exclude the subject election returns on the basis of the affidavits of the members of the Board of Election Inspectors.  What exactly these documents and evidence are upon which the COMELEC based its resolution, and how they have been appreciated in respect of their sufficiency, are beyond this Court’s scrutiny.[26] The rule that factual findings of administrative bodies will not be disturbed by courts of justice except when there is absolutely no evidence or no substantial evidence in support of such findings should be applied with greater force when it concerns the COMELEC, as the framers of the Constitution intended to place the COMELEC—created and explicitly made independent by the Constitution itself—on a level higher than statutory administrative organs.[27]  The factual finding of the COMELEC is, therefore, binding on the Court. As found by the COMELEC En Banc:

    Besides, we do not agree that the exclusion of the seven (7) election returns in question were not supported by any iota of evidence. This is amply supported by the affidavits of the Members of the Board of Election Inspectors; they were all made in clear and unequivocal language by public officers who are presumed to have performed such duties in the ordinary and regular execution thereof. A careful re-examination of the evidence on record reveals that there is sufficient justification to uphold the MBOC ruling to exclude the subject election returns. The MBOC retains sufficient discretion to avail itself of all available means to ascertain the results of the elections through witnesses as well as examination of the election returns themselves. Where there is no abuse of discretion the MBOC is presumed to have acted within its powers and its decision should be treated with some amount of respect.[28]

    This is especially true in the instant case considering that, as noted by the COMELEC En Banc in its questioned Resolution, one of the witnesses petitioner Hipe previously presented later on recanted her testimony and admitted that she had made her previous statement as to the regularity of the conduct of the May 14, 1007 elections only out of fear due to threats upon her person.[29] As correctly observed by the COMELEC En Banc:
    We also note that even one of the witnesses presented by the appellant, Melanie Robion, Chairman of the BEI for precinct No. 0037B, later on recanted her testimony. This spells doom to the appellant’s cause as it even impacts on the veracity and truthfulness of the other affidavits that the appellant submitted. We are reminded of the legal principle that a falsity in one is a falsity in all, “Falsus in Onum, Falsus in Omnibus” and would now be more inclined to believe the assertions made by the appellee instead of those presented by the appellant, who has now been unmasked to have been less than truthful at one time or another.[30]

    Considering the foregoing discussion, there is ample evidence to support the findings of the COMELEC that the seven election returns in question should be excluded. The contention of petitioner Hipe that said election returns were excluded from the canvass merely on the basis of pure procedural technicalities is, therefore, unfounded.

    [1]     [2]     [3]

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    G.R. No. 186201 (Part 2)

    In view of the foregoing, the Court finds that the First Division of the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in issuing the Order dated November 25, 2008, dismissing petitioner’s appeal. The case is remanded to the First Division of the COMELEC for disposition of the appeal in accordance with this decision, subject to the presentation by petitioner of the receipt evidencing payment of the appeal fee of P1,000.00 as required under Section 9, Rule  14 of  A. M. No. 07-4-15-SC.


    It must be stated, however, that for notices of appeal filed after the promulgation on July 27, 2009 of Divinagracia v. Commission on Elections,[22] errors in the matter of non-payment or incomplete payment of the two appeal fees in election cases are no longer excusable.


    The second and third issues shall be discussed jointly.


    Petitioner contends that the First Division of the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in acting on the motion for reconsideration without elevating the same to the COMELEC en banc, and in denying the motion for reconsideration.


    The contention is meritorious.


    It is settled that under Section 7, Article IX-A of the Constitution,[23] what may be brought to this Court on certiorari is the decision, order or ruling of the COMELEC en banc.  However, this rule should not apply when a division of the COMELEC arrogates unto itself and deprives the en banc of the authority to rule on a motion for reconsideration, like in this case.[24]


    Section 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution provides for the procedure for the resolution of election cases by the COMELEC, thus:


    Sec. 3.  The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc.


    The constitutional provision is reflected in Sections 5 and 6, Rule 19 of  the COMELEC Rules of Procedure as follows:


    Sec. 5.  How Motion for Reconsideration Disposed of. — Upon the filing of a motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division, the Clerk of Court concerned shall, within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing thereof, notify the Presiding Commissioner. The latter shall within two (2) days thereafter certify the case to the Commission en banc.


    Sec. 6. Duty of Clerk of Court of Commission to Calendar Motion for Reconsideration. — The Clerk of Court concerned shall calendar the motion for reconsideration for the resolution of the Commission en banc within ten (10) days from the certification thereof.


    In this case, the First Division of the COMELEC violated the cited provisions of the Constitution and the COMELEC Rules of Procedure when it resolved petitioner's motion for reconsideration of its final Order dated November 25, 2008, which dismissed petitioner’s appeal.  By arrogating unto itself a power constitutionally lodged in the Commission en banc, the  First Division of the COMELEC exercised judgment in excess of, or without, jurisdiction.[25]  Hence, the Order issued by the First Division of the COMELEC dated January 9, 2009, denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, is null and void.
      
    Petitioner stated in her Reply[26]  that on April 1, 2009, the First Division of the COMELEC issued an Order declaring the Order dated November 25, 2008 as final and executory, and ordering the issuance of an Entry of Judgment.  On April 1, 2009, an Entry of Judgment was issued by the Electoral Contests Adjudication Department.


    WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED The Orders dated November 25, 2008 and  January  9, 2009  by the First Division of the COMELEC, and the Entry of Judgment issued on  April 1, 2009 by the Electoral Contests Adjudication Department are  ANNULLED and SET ASIDE The case is REMANDED to the First Division of the Commission on Elections for disposition in accordance with this Decision.
      
    No costs.


    SO ORDERED.



    DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
    Associate Justice




    WE CONCUR:



    On Official Leave
    REYNATO S. PUNO
    Chief Justice





    On Leave

    LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING

    Associate Justice

     

     



    ANTONIO T. CARPIO
    Associate Justice




    RENATO C. CORONA

    Associate Justice





             
    CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

    Associate Justice



                  On Leave
    MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
    Associate Justice




    PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
    Associate Justice




    ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

    Associate Justice





    TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
    Associate Justice






    ARTURO D. BRION
    Associate Justice






    LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
    Associate Justice






    MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
    Associate Justice






    ROBERTO A. ABAD
    Associate Justice




    CERTIFICATION




              Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.




    ANTONIO T. CARPIO
    Acting Chief Justice









    *               On official leave.
    **             On leave.
    [1]               Under Rule 64 in relation to Rules 65 of the Rules of Court. 
    [2]               Rollo, p. 26.
    [3]               Id. at 27.
    [4]               Id. at 46-54.
    [5]               Id. at 53-54.
    [6]               Id. at 55-58.
    [7]              Rule 14, Sec. 9. Appeal fee. — The appellant in an election contest shall pay to the court that rendered the decision an appeal fee of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00), simultaneously with the filing of the notice of appeal.
    [8]               Rollo, p. 26.
    [9]               Id. at 28-35.
    [10]             Id. at 27.

    [11]              Id. at 16.
    [12]             Batul v. Bayron, 468 Phil. 131, 148 (2004).
    [13]             Id.
    [14]             Supra note 6.
    [15]             Rule 14, Sec. 9. Appeal fee. — The appellant in an election contest shall pay to the court that rendered the decision an appeal fee of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00), simultaneously with the filing of the notice of appeal.
    [16]             Rollo, pp. 97-100.
    [17]             Rule  14, Sec. 8. Appeal. — An aggrieved party may appeal the decision to the Commission on Elections, within five days after promulgation, by filing a notice of appeal with the court that rendered the decision, with copy served on the adverse counsel or party if not represented by counsel.

    Rule 14, Sec. 9. Appeal fee. — The appellant in an election contest shall pay to the court that rendered the decision an appeal fee of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00), simultaneously with the filing of the notice of appeal.

    [18]             Rollo, pp. 103-110.
    [19]             G.R. No. 185140, June 30, 2009.
    .
    [20]                                                             COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 8486

    IN THE MATTER OF CLARIFYING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF COMELEC RULES RE: PAYMENT OF FILING FEES FOR APPEALED CASES INVOLVING BARANGAY AND MUNICIPAL ELECTIVE POSITIONS FROM THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS AND REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS


    WHEREAS, the Commission on Elections is vested with appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, and those involving elective barangay officials, decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction;


    WHEREAS, Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 07-4-15 (Rules of Procedure in Election Contests Before the Courts Involving Elective Municipal and Barangay Officials) promulgated on May 15, 2007 provides in Sections 8 and 9, Rule 14 thereof the procedure for instituting the appeal and the required appeal fees to be paid for the appeal to be given due course, to wit:


    Section 8.  Appeal. — An aggrieved party may appeal the decision to the Commission on Elections, within five days after promulgation, by filing a notice of appeal with the court that rendered the decision, with copy served on the adverse counsel or party if not represented by counsel.
    Section 9 Appeal fee. — The appellant in an election contest shall pay to the court that rendered the decision an appeal fee of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00), simultaneously with the filing of the notice of appeal.
    WHEREAS, payment of appeal fees in appealed election protest cases is also required in Section 3, Rule 40 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure the amended amount of which was set atP3,200.00 in COMELEC Minute Resolution No. 02-0130 made effective on September 18, 2002.

    WHEREAS, the requirement of these two appeal fees by two different jurisdictions had caused confusion in the implementation by the Commission on Elections of its procedural rules on payment of appeal fees for the perfection of appeals of cases brought before it from the Courts of General and Limited Jurisdictions.
    WHEREAS, there is a need to clarify the rules on compliance with the required appeal fees for the proper and judicious exercise of the Commission's appellate jurisdiction over election protest cases.

    WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Commission hereby RESOLVES to DIRECT as follows:

    1.                     That if the appellant had already paid the amount of P1,000.00 before the Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court or lower courts within the five-day period, pursuant to Section 9, Rule 14 of the Rules of Procedure in Election Contests Before the Courts Involving Elective Municipal and Barangay Officials (Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 07-4-15) and his Appeal was given due course by the Court, said appellant is required to pay the Comelec appeal fee of P3,200.00 at the Commission's Cash Division through the Electoral Contests Adjudication Department (ECAD) or by postal money order payable to the Commission on Elections through ECAD, within a period of  fifteen days (15) from the time of the filing of the Notice of Appeal with the lower court. If no payment is made within the prescribed period, the appeal shall be dismissed pursuant to Section 9(a) of Rule 22 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, which provides:

      Sec. 9.   Grounds for Dismissal of Appeal. — The appeal may be dismissed upon motion of either party or at the instance of the Commission on any of the following grounds:
    (a)           Failure of the appellant to pay the correct appeal fee; . . .

    2.             That if the appellant failed to pay the P1,000.00 — appeal fee with the lower court within the five (5) day period as prescribed by the Supreme Court New Rules of Procedure but the case was nonetheless elevated to the Commission, the appeal shall be dismissed outright by the Commission, in accordance with the aforestated Section 9(a) of Rule 22 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure.

    The Education and Information Department is directed to cause the publication of this resolution in two (2) newspapers of general circulation. This resolution shall take effect on the seventh day following its publication.

    [21]             Aguilar v. Commission on Elections, supra note 19.
    [22]             G.R. Nos. 186007 & 186016, July 27, 2009.
    [23]             Art. IX. Sec. 7. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its members any case or matter brought before it within sixty days from the date of its submission for decision or resolution.  A case or matter is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum required by the rules of the Commission or by the Commission itself.  Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling or each Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof.

    [24]             Aguilar v. Commission on Elections, supra note 19.
    [25]             Id.
    [26]             Rollo, pp. 103-109.

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