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.


                                                          PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
                                                                     Associate Justice


          REYNATO S. PUNO
                 Chief Justice

                           (On official leave)                                                                    
          Associate Justice                                          Associate Justice

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

        Associate Justice                                             Associate Justice


                        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

Associate Justice


          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.

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.

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