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.
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, 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.
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. 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 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.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
On Official Leave
REYNATO S. PUNO
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
RENATO C. CORONA
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
ARTURO D. BRION
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
ROBERTO A. ABAD
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
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.
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 at
P3,200.00 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.
 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.