1. In a petition for a pre-proclamation controversy, petitioner, who lost in the election, assigned as error of the COMELEC, the following.
No decision shall be rendered by any court of record without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. and Sec. 26, Rule XV of COMELEC Resolution No. 1450 dated February 26, 1980, which reads: In deciding contests, the Commission shall follow the procedure prescribed for the Supreme Court in Secs. 8 and 9, Art. X of the Constitution of the Philippines.
It appears on record that the COMELEC did not consider petitioner's evidence, particularly the Memorandum Report of Atty. Mamasapunod Aguam, Regional Election Director for Region XII, to the effect that there was failure of election in Sultan Gumander.
Question: Was there grave abuse of discretion by the COMELEC?
Answer:(G.R. No. L-58309-10,February 25, 1982,MANGACOP MANGCA vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS) Petitioner's contention that the March 31, 1981, resolution is null and void for being violative of Sec. 9, Art. X of the Constitution and Sec 26, Rule XV of COMELEC Resolution No. 1450 is untenable. Firstly, both cited provisions are inapplicable to the case at bar since the constitutional requirement applies only to courts of justice which the COMELEC is not (Lucman vs. Dimaporo, L-31558, May 29, 1970, 33 SCRA 387) while COMELEC Resolution No. 1450, per Sec. I thereof, applies only to "election contests" and "quo warranto proceedings" which the pre- proclamation cases are not
2. On 15 May 1995 Luis Copacabana filed with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) a Petition to Declare Failure of Election and to Declare Null and Void the Canvass and Proclamation because of alleged widespread frauds and anomalies in casting and counting of votes, preparation of election returns, violence, threats, intimidation, vote buying, unregistered voters voting, and delay in the delivery of election documents and paraphernalia from the precincts to the Office of the Municipal Treasurer. Copacobana particularly averred that:
(a) the names of the registered voters did not appear in the list of voters in their precincts;
(b) more than one-half of the legitimate registered voters were not able to vote with strangers voting in their stead;
(c) he was credited with less votes than he actually received;
(d) control data of the election returns was not filed up in some precincts;
(e) ballot boxes brought to the Office of the Municipal Treasurer were unsecured, i.e., without padlocks nor self-locking metal seals; and,
(f) (f) there was delay in the delivery of election returns. But the COMELEC en banc dismissed the petition on the ground that the allegations therein did not justify a declaration of failure of election
Questions: Are the above grounds sufficient to grant the petition that indeed there was a failure of election? Discuss each ground, and state what possible remedies are found under the Election Code to cater to Copacobana’s complaint/petition.
(RICARDO "BOY" CANICOSA vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL G.R. No. 120318 December 5, 1997. On 15 May 1995) Indeed, the grounds cited by Copacabana do not warrant a declaration of failure of election. Section 6 of BP Blg. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code, reads:Sec. 6. Failure of election If, on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect, and in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election, the Commission shall, on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due notice and hearing, call for the holding or continuation of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date 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 the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.Clearly, there are only three (3) instances where a failure of election may be declared, namely: (a) the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes; (b) the election in any polling place had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes; or (c) after the voting and during the preparation and transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect on account of force majeure. violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes.None of the grounds invoked by Canicosa falls under any of those enumerated.The remedies could have been petitions for inclusion, annulment of book of voters, or his watchers could have filed the protests as a manner of summary pre-election remedies.
3. The (Jose Nunag) petitioner and the private respondent (Pedro Datoy) were candidates for the position of Punong Barangay of Barangay Nilombot, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan, in the barangay election of 9 May 1994. After the canvass of votes in the said barangay, the former was proclaimed as the winning candidate. The latter then seasonably filed an election protest with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan.
On 27 May 1994, the MTC, per Judge Lilia C. Español, rendered a decision confirming the proclamation of the petitioner and dismissing the protest of the private respondent.
The private respondent appealed the decision to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City. The case was assigned to Branch 42 thereof.
In its decision 2 of 31 August 1994, the RTC, per respondent Judge Luis M. Fontanilla, reversed the decision of the MTC, annulled the proclamation of the petitioner, and declared the private respondent as the winning candidate with a plurality of four votes over the petitioner.
After the petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the decision was denied on 25 November 1994, the private respondent immediately filed a motion for the issuance of a writ of execution
QUESTION: On the basis of the facts above stated, who should be the rightful winner of the election?
Jose Nunag, the petitioner should be the rightful baangay captain. By analogy, the case of GUIEB is applicable.(G.R. No. 118118,August 14, 1995ALFREDO GUIEB vs. LUIS M. FONTANILLA, ET AL.) The private respondent should have appealed the decision of the MTC to the COMELEC; the MTC should not have given due course to the appeal; and the RTC should have dismissed outright the appeal for want of jurisdiction.In accepting the appeal and deciding the case on its merits, the respondent judge manifested either ignorance or palpable disregard of the aforesaid constitutional provision and decision. It must be noted that a judge is presumed to know the constitutional limits of the authority or jurisdiction of his court. He is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with the laws; it is imperative that he be conversant with basic legal principles. 16 Canon 4 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics requires that a judge should be "studious of the principles of the law." Thus, if the respondent judge were only aware of the aforementioned constitutional provision and decision, he would have cut short the journey of a very simple case and put an end to the litigation. What this Court stated in Aducayen vs. Flores 17 deserves reiteration:Nor is this all that has to be said. There is need, it does seem, to caution anew judges of inferior courts, which according to the Constitution refer to all those outside this Tribunal, to exercise greater care in the discharge of their judicial functions. They are called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules. Moreover, while it becomes hourly difficult to keep abreast of our ever-increasing decisions, a modicum of effort should be exerted by them not to lag too far behind. Nor is it too much to expect that they betray awareness of well-settled and authoritative doctrines. If such were the case, then resort to us would be less frequent. That way our time could be devoted to questions of greater significance. Not only that, there would be on the part of party litigants less expense and greater faith in the administration of justice, if there be a belief on their part that the occupants of the bench cannot justly be accused of an apparent deficiency in their grasp of legal principles. Such an indictment unfortunately cannot just be dismissed as a manifestation of chronic fault-finding. The situation thus calls for a more conscientious and diligent approach to the discharge of judicial functions to avoid the imputation that there is on the part of a number of judges less than full and adequate comprehension of the law.WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The challenged decision of 31 August 1994 of Branch 42 of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City and its order of 25 November 1994 denying the petitioner's motion for reconsideration are hereby SET ASIDE and ANNULLED for lack of jurisdiction on the part of the said court to entertain and decide the appeal. The decision of 27 May 1994 of the Municipal Trial Court of Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan, is hereby declared final for failure of the private respondent to appeal the same before the proper forum, and the writ of execution to enforce the decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby SET ASIDE and ANNULLED.
4. These cases were consolidated because they have the same objective; the disqualification under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code of the private respondent, Merito Miguel for the position of municipal mayor of Bolinao, Pangasinan, to which he was elected in the local elections of January 18, 1988, on the ground that he is a green card holder, hence, a permanent resident of the United States of America, not of Bolinao.
G.R. No. 84508 is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision dated January 13, 1988 of the COMELEC First Division, dismissing the three (3') petitions of Anecito Cascante (SPC No. 87-551), Cederico Catabay (SPC No. 87- 595) and Josefino C. Celeste (SPC No. 87-604), for the disqualification of Merito C. Miguel filed prior to the local elections on January 18, 1988.
G.R. No. 88831, Mateo Caasi vs. Court of Appeals, et al., is a petition for review of the decision dated June 21, 1989, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 14531 dismissing the petition for quo warranto filed by Mateo Caasi, a rival candidate for the position of municipal mayor of Bolinao, Pangasinan, also to disqualify Merito Miguel on account of his being a green card holder.
In his answer to both petitions, Miguel admitted that he holds a green card issued to him by the US Immigration Service, but he denied that he is a permanent resident of the United States. He allegedly obtained the green card for convenience in order that he may freely enter the United States for his periodic medical examination and to visit his children there. He alleged that he is a permanent resident of Bolinao, Pangasinan, that he voted in all previous elections, including the plebiscite on February 2,1987 for the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, and the congressional elections on May 18,1987.
After hearing the consolidated petitions before it, the COMELEC with the exception of Commissioner Anacleto Badoy, Jr., dismissed the petitions on the ground that:
The possession of a green card by the respondent (Miguel) does not sufficiently establish that he has abandoned his residence in the Philippines. On the contrary, inspite (sic) of his green card, Respondent has sufficiently indicated his intention to continuously reside in Bolinao as shown by his having voted in successive elections in said municipality. As the respondent meets the basic requirements of citizenship and residence for candidates to elective local officials (sic) as provided for in Section 42 of the Local Government Code, there is no legal obstacle to his candidacy for mayor of Bolinao, Pangasinan.
QUESTION: Is the ruling of the COMELEC correct? Discuss. ANSWER:The comelec is INCORRECT.Miguel did not posses the proper qualification. (G.R. No. 88831November 8, 1990MATEO CAASI vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.) Respondent Merito Miguel admits that he holds a green card, which proves that he is a permanent resident or immigrant it of the United States, but the records of this case are starkly bare of proof that he had waived his status as such before he ran for election as municipal mayor of Bolinao on January 18, 1988. We, therefore, hold that he was disqualified to become a candidate for that office.The reason for Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code is not hard to find. Residence in the municipality where he intends to run for elective office for at least one (1) year at the time of filing his certificate of candidacy, is one of the qualifications that a candidate for elective public office must possess (Sec. 42, Chap. 1, Title 2, Local Government Code). Miguel did not possess that qualification because he was a permanent resident of the United States and he resided in Bolinao for a period of only three (3) months (not one year) after his return to the Philippines in November 1987 and before he ran for mayor of that municipality on January 18, 1988.In banning from elective public office Philippine citizens who are permanent residents or immigrants of a foreign country, the Omnibus Election Code has laid down a clear policy of excluding from the right to hold elective public office those Philippine citizens who possess dual loyalties and allegiance. The law has reserved that privilege for its citizens who have cast their lot with our country "without mental reservations or purpose of evasion." The assumption is that those who are resident aliens of a foreign country are incapable of such entire devotion to the interest and welfare of their homeland for with one eye on their public duties here, they must keep another eye on their duties under the laws of the foreign country of their choice in order to preserve their status as permanent residents thereof.Miguel insists that even though he applied for immigration and permanent residence in the United States, he never really intended to live there permanently, for all that he wanted was a green card to enable him to come and go to the U.S. with ease. In other words, he would have this Court believe that he applied for immigration to the U.S. under false pretenses; that all this time he only had one foot in the United States but kept his other foot in the Philippines. Even if that were true, this Court will not allow itself to be a party to his duplicity by permitting him to benefit from it, and giving him the best of both worlds so to speak.Miguel's application for immigrant status and permanent residence in the U.S. and his possession of a green card attesting to such status are conclusive proof that he is a permanent resident of the U.S. despite his occasional visits to the Philippines. The waiver of such immigrant status should be as indubitable as his application for it. Absent clear evidence that he made an irrevocable waiver of that status or that he surrendered his green card to the appropriate U.S. authorities before he ran for mayor of Bolinao in the local elections on January 18, 1988, our conclusion is that he was disqualified to run for said public office, hence, his election thereto was null and void.
5. During the May 8, 1995 elections, Borja and private respondent Jose T. Capco vied for the position of Mayor of the Municipality of Pateros, which was won by Capco by a margin of 6,330 votes. Capco was consequently proclaimed and has since been serving as Mayor of Pateros.
Alleging lack of notice of the date and time of canvass, fraud, violence terrorism and analogous causes, such as disenfranchisement of voters, presence of flying voters, and unqualified members of the Board of Election Inspectors, Borja filed before the COMELEC a petition to declare a failure of election and nullify the canvass and proclamation made by the Pateros Board of Canvassers.
The COMELEC en banc dismissed his petition.
Aggrieved by said resolution, petitioner elevated the matter to Supreme Court, arguing the same matters while claiming that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the questioned resolution of May 25, 1995. He avers that the COMELEC en banc does not have the power to hear and decide the merits of the petition he filed below because under Article IX-C, Section 3 of the Constitution, all election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, "shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decision shall be decided by the Commission en banc."
QUESTION: Is the contention of the petitioner tenable? Is the procedure adopted proper? On the above facts, who should be the rightful mayor?
Contention is not tenable; the procedure adopted was improper; Capco thenis the rightful mayor.(G.R. No. 120140,August 21, 1996BENJAMIN U. BORJA, JR. vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL). In reality, Borja's petition was nothing but a simple election protest involving an elective municipal position which, under Section 251 of the Election Code, falls within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the appropriate Regional Trial Court. Section 251 states:Sec. 251. Election contests for municipal offices. A sworn petition contesting the election of a municipal officer shall be filed with the proper regional trial court by any candidate who has duly filed a certificate of candidacy and has been voted for the same office, within ten days after proclamation of the results of the election. (Emphasis supplied)The COMELEC in turn exercises appellate jurisdiction over the trial court's decision pursuant to Article IX-C, Section 2(2) of the Constitution which states:Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:xxx(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory, and not appealable.The COMELEC, therefore, had no choice but to dismiss Borja's petition, not only for being deficient in form but also for having been filed before the wrong tribunal. This reason need not even be stated in the body of the decision as the same is patent on the face of the pleading itself. Nor can Borja claim that he was denied due process because when the COMELEC en banc reviewed and evaluated his petition, the same was tantamount to a fair "hearing" of his case. The fact that Capco was not even ordered to rebut the allegations therein certainly did not deprive him of his day in court. If anybody here was aggrieved by the alleged lack of notice and hearing, it was Capco whose arguments were never ventilated. If he remained complacent, it was because the COMELEC's actuation was favorable to him.Certainly, the COMELEC cannot be said to have committed abuse of discretion, let alone grave abuse thereof, in dismissing Borja's petition. For having applied the clear provisions of the law, it deserves, not condemnation, but commendation.
6. For your resolution is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 which seeks to annul and set aside the resolution dated May 7, 2001 of the Commission on Elections as well as the resolution dated May 12, 2001 denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
This petition originated from a case filed by private respondent on March 21, 2001 for the disqualification of petitioner Nestor Magno as mayoralty candidate of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija during the May 14, 2001 elections on the ground that petitioner was previously convicted by the Sandiganbayan of four counts of direct bribery penalized under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code. It appears that on July 25, 1995, petitioner was sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 3 months and 11 days of arresto mayor as minimum to 1 year 8 months and 21 days of prision correccional as maximum, for each of the four counts of direct bribery. Thereafter, petitioner applied for probation and was discharged on March 5, 1998 upon order of the Regional Trial Court of Gapan, Nueva Ecija.
On May 7, 2001, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) rendered a decision granting the petition of private respondent and declaring that petitioner was disqualified from running for the position of mayor in the May 14, 2001 elections.
QUESTION: IS THE COMELEC correct in its ruling? Explain your answer. ANSWER: COMELEC was wrong.THE appplicable provision is the Local Government Code, which states that a person convicted of a crime is still qualified to run after two years from service of sentence or in the case at bar from discharge of probation.
7. It appears that while the Quezon City Board of Canvassers was canvassing the election returns but before the winning candidates were proclaimed, petitioner commenced suit before the COMELEC by filing a petition seeking to suspend the canvassing of votes and/or proclamation in Quezon City and to declare a failure of elections.
In support of his allegation of massive and orchestrated fraud, petitioner cited specific instances which are summarized and set forth below:
1. The Board of Canvassers announced that election returns with no inner seal would be included in the canvass;
2. Board of Election Inspectors brought home copies of election returns meant for the City Board of Canvassers;
3. Petitioner, through counsel, raised written objections to the inclusion in the canvass of election returns which were either tampered with, altered or falsified, or otherwise not authentic;
4. According to the minutes of the City Board of Canvassers, there were precincts with missing election returns;
5. Several election returns with no data on the number of votes cast for vice mayoralty position;
6. Highly suspicious persons sneaking in some election returns and documents into the canvassing area;
7. Concerned citizen found minutes of the counting, keys, locks and metal seal in the COMELEC area for disposal as trash;
8. Board of Election Inspectors have volunteered information that they placed the copy of the election returns meant for the City Board of Canvassers in the ballot boxes deposited with the City Treasurer allegedly due to fatigue and lack of sleep;
9. Ballot boxes were never in the custody of the COMELEC and neither the parties nor their watchers were allowed to enter the restricted area where these boxes passed through on the way to the basement of the City Hall where they were supposedly kept; and
10. In the election in Barangay New Era, there was a clear patters of voting which would show that the election returns were manufactured and that no actual voting by duly qualified voters took place therein.
While the petition was pending before the COMELEC, the City Board of Canvassers proclaimed the winners of the elections in Quezon City, including the winning candidate for the post of vice mayor. On June 22, 1998, the COMELEC promulgated its challenged resolution dismissing the petition before it.
Hence this petition.
Alleging that COMELEC overstepped the limits of reasonable exercise of discretion in dismissing SPC No. 98-134, petitioner argues in the main that the electoral body failed to afford him basic due process, that is, the right to a hearing and presentation of evidence before ruling on his petition. He then proceeded to argue that the election returns themselves, as well as the minutes of the canvassing committee of the City Board of Canvassers were, by themselves, sufficient evidence to support the petition.
QUESTION:1) Rule on the contention of the petitioner: whether he was deprived of due process.
2)Are his grounds valid to justify a failure of election?
3) In your opinion, is the remedy availed by him proper? If not proper, what is the corrct remedy under the premises? ANSWER: He wasnot deprived of due process; hs grounds are pre-proclamation contorversies which do not justify a failure of election; the remedies availed are not proper.(see:G.R. No. 134096,March 3, 1999JOSEPH PETER S. SISON vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS) We have painstakingly examined petitioner's petition before the COMELEC but found nothing therein that could support an action for declaration of failure of elections. He never alleged at all that elections were either not held or suspended. Furthermore, petitioner's claim of failure to elect stood as a bare conclusion bereft of any substantive support to describe just exaclty how the failure to elect came about.
With respect to pre-proclamation controversy, it is well to note that the scope of pre-proclamation controversy is only limited to the issues enumerated under Section 243 10 of the Omnibus Election Code, and the enumeration therein is restrictive and exclusive. 11 The reason underlying the delimitation both of substantive ground and procedure is the policy of the election law that pre-proclamation controversies should be summarily decide, consistent with the law's desire that the canvass and proclamation be delayed as little as possible. 12 That is why such questions which require more deliberate and necessarily longer consideration, are left for examination in the corresponding protest. 13
However, with the proclamation of the winning candidate for the position contested, the question of whether the petition raised issues proper for a pre-proclamation controversy is already of no consequence since the well-entrenched rule in such situation is that a pre-proclamation case before the COMELEC is no longer viable, the more appropriate remedies being a regular election protest or a petition for quo warranto. 14 We have carefully reviewed all recognized exceptions 15 to the foregoing rule but found nothing that could possibly apply to the instant case based on the recitations of the petition. What is more, in paragraph 3 of the COMELEC's Omnibus Resolution No. 3049 (Omnibus Resolution on Pending Cases) dated June 29, 1998, it is clearly stated therein that "All other pre-proclamation cases . . . shall be deemed terminated pursuant to Section 16, R.A. 7166. 16 (Emphasis supplied). Section 16 which is referred to in the aforecited omnibus resolution refers to the termination of pre-proclamation cases when the term of the office involved has already begun, which is precisely what obtains here. We are, of course, aware that petitioner cites the said omnibus resolution in maintaining that his petition is one of those cases which should have remained active pursuant to paragraph 4 thereof. That exception, however, operates only when what is involved is not pre-proclamation controversy such as petitions for disqualification, failure of election or analogous cases. But as we have earlier declared, his petition, though assuming to seek a declaration of failure of elections, is actually a case of pre-proclamation controversy and, hence, not falling within the ambit of the exception. In any case, that omnibus resolution would not have been applied in the first place because that was issued posterior to the date when the herein challenged resolution was promulgated which is June 22, 1998. There was no provision that such omnibus resolution should have retroactive effect.
Finally, as to petitioner's claim that he was deprived of his right to due process in that he was not allowed to present his evidence before the COMELEC to support his petition, the same must likewise fail.
First, we note that his citation of Section 242 of the Omnibus Election Code as basis for his right to present evidence is misplaced. The phrase "after due notice" refers only to a situation where the COMELEC decides and, in fact, takes steps to either partially or totally suspend or annul the proclamation of any candidate-elect. Verba legis non est recedendum. From the words of the statute there should be no departure. The statutory provision cannot be expanded to embrace any other situation not contemplated therein such as the one at bar where the COMELEC is not taking ant step to suspend or annul a proclamation.
8. As a general rule, the filing of the election protest or a petition for quo warranto precludes the subsequent filing of a pre-proclamation controversy, or amount to the abandonment of one earlier filed, thus depriving the COMELEC of the authority to inquire into and pass upon the title of the protestee or the validity of his proclamation.
1.What is the reason for this general rule?
2.What are the exceptions to the general rule above cited.
ANSWER:Conformably therewith, we have ruled in a number of cases that a proclamation has been made a pre-proclamation case before the COMELEC is, logically, no longer viable.(Gallardo v. Rimando, G.R. No. 91798, 13 July 1990, 187 SCRA 463; Casimiro v. COMELEC, G.R. Nos. 84462-63, 29 March 1989, 171 SCRA 468; Salvacion v. COMELEC, G.R. Nos. 84673-74, 21 February 1989, 170 SCRA 513; Padilla v. COMELEC, G.R. Nos. 68351-52, 9 July 1985, 137 SCRA 424.) The rule admits of exceptions, however, as where: (a) the board of canvassers was improperly constituted; (b) quo warranto was not the proper remedy; (c) what was filed was not really a petition for quo warranto or an election protest but a petition to annul a proclamation; (d) the filling of a quo warranto petition or an election protest was expressly made without prejudice to the pre-proclamation controversy or was made ad cautelam; and, (e) the proclamation was null and void.(see Laodenio and Samad, or p. 514, Agpalo)
9.The general rule is that all election cases be first heard and decided by the COMELEC in division. There are five exceptions to this rule. State these five exceptions.
ANSWER: 1. when what is involved is purely administrative and not quasi-judicial matter/nature
2.When the required number of votes cannot be obtained by the division
3.declaration of failure of election/postponement of election pettitions
4.in the exercise of COMELEC’s prosecutory powers
5.in estoppel cases, when petitioner invokes the jurisdiction of COMELEC en banc.(see p. 111 Agpalo)
10. FELIPE L. LAODENIO, petitioner, and ROGELIO LONGCOP, respondent, were candidates for the position of Mayor of Mapanas, Northern Samar, during the 8 May 1995 elections. On 15 May 1995 Longcop was proclaimed winner by the Municipal Board of Canvassers.On 20 May 1995 Laodenio filed a petition with respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to annul the proclamation of Longcop and to declare illegal the constitution of the Municipal Board of Canvassers as well as its proceedings. He alleged in his petition that
During the canvass, respondent board of canvassers adjourned repeatedly starting May 9, 1995, after the poll clerk of precinct no. 7-A testified before the Board that the election returns for the said precinct was tampered with and falsified to increase the total votes cast in favor of respondent Longcop from 88 to 188.
On 10 May 1995, the Board resumed its canvass but it adjourned again at past 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon as it has (sic) not yet decided on what to do with the election returns for precinct (sic) nos. 7-A and 5-A. When it adjourned on May 10, 1995 it announced that it will (sic) only resume canvass on 12 May 1995 at the capital town of Catarman, Northern Samar. The Board however reconvened on 12 May 1995 in Mapanas and proceeded with the canvass. The respondent board thereafter adjourned and surreptitiously reconvened on 15 May 1995, with a new chairman who was allegedly appointed by the Provincial Election Supervisor.When the election returns from Precinct (sic) Nos. 5-A and 7-A were (sic) about to be canvassed, petitioner manifested his oral objections thereto and likewise submitted his written objection on the same day, 12 May 1995.
The respondent board however did not give the petitioner opportunity of file an appeal (from?) its decision to proceed with the canvass of the election returns from precinct (sic) nos. 7-A and 5-A. fter a thorough discussion of the two legal counsel, the members of the board of canvassers denied the objections of Laodenio on the ground that an oral objection should simultaneously be filed with a written objection in a proper form. Majority of the board voted for the inclusion of the returns from precinct 7-A on the ground that the protest was not in proper form. The parties were notified of the ruling of the Board in open session. The Chairman of the Board start(ed?) to open the envelopeof precinct no. 7-A and the same was examined by counsel of the both parties. 7The Board, upon examination of the returns from precinct 7-A; found it to be inside an envelope with serial no. 073983 signed by all the members of the Board and with paper seal no. 516478 likewise signed by all of them. The returns bore the respective signatures and thumbmarks of the poll clerk, the third member and all six watchers. The Minutes disclosed further that on May 12, 1995, at 2:00 p.m., the members of the Board resume to canvass the election returns for precinct 7-A. It was supposed to canvass last May 10, 1995, but was deferred because the Board waited for protestant Laodenio to file his appeal from our ruling on May 10, 1995. Since there was no appeal, the Board proceeded with the canvass of precinct 7-A.
At 2:37 p.m., Laodenio filed his protest in proper form but the board denied the protest on the ground that it was filed out of time. The protest was filed after the canvass of the election returns was completed. With regard to the action of the Board on the election returns from precinct 5-A, the Minutes narrated as follows Precinct 5-A. An envelope with serial no. 073973 signed by all the members of the board with paper seal. The envelope is in good condition. The election returns was properly signed by all members of the board with their thumbmarks and the watchers have also their signatures and thumbmarks in the corresponding spaces. An oral protest was filed by petitioner. At 4:49 p.m., a protest in prescribed form was filed. At 8:00 p.m., the Board of Canvassers voted as follows: The chairman for exclusion and the two members for inclusion because on its face the election returns does not have any sign of tampering and that when the election returns copy for the Municipal Trial Court was opened to compare with the contested returns the entries are (sic) the same. The parties were informed of the ruling in open session. After the ruling, the protestant did not indicate his intention to appeal.
On 25 May 1995 petitioner filed an election protest before the Regional Trial Court.
On 28 August 1995 respondent COMELEC dismissed the petition of Laodenio for lack of merit. 2 It was of the view that the adjournments were justified and were not improperly prolonged as claimed by petitioner; he was in fact deemed to have acquiesced to the new composition of the Municipal Board of Canvassers when he actively participated in the proceedings therein; there was no showing that he manifested on time his intent to appeal the rulings of the Board, neither was there any proof that he appealed therefrom; and, on the authority of Padilla v. Commission on Elections 3 the pre-proclamation controversy was no longer viable since Longcop had already been proclaimed and had assumed office. On 23 October 1995 the motion for reconsideration was denied. 4
Petitioner raises these issues: (1) The direct filing of a petition with COMELEC to contest the illegal conduct of the Board of Canvassers is allowed under Rule 27, Sec. 4, of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure; and, (2) The pre-proclamation controversy was not rendered moot and academic by the filing of an ordinary election protest
.QUESTION: Is LAODENIO correct?
ANSWER: Laodenio is incorrect. Although the filing of the petition to question the composition of the BOC may be done directly to the COMELEC, yet the same must be filed at the first instance before the Board, and only when it has ruled adverse to him, that he must file his “appeal” to the COMELEC, within a period of five days. This Laodenio did not do.Clearly, the proceedings of the Board were in accordance with law.
Petitioner argues next that the election protest was filed ad cautelam or as a precautionary measures to preserve his rights which did not thereby oust respondent COMELEC of jurisdiction. He invokes Samad v. COMELEC 10 where it was held that, as a general rule, the filing of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto precludes the subsequent filing of a pre-proclamation controversy or amounts to the abandonment of one earlier filed, thus depriving the COMELEC of the authority to inquire into and pass upon the title of the protestee or the validity of his proclamation. The reason is that once the competent tribunal has acquired jurisdiction of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto all question relative thereto will have to be decided in the case itself and not in another proceeding, otherwise, there will be confusion and conflict of authority. Conformably therewith, we have ruled in a number of cases that a proclamation has been made a pre-proclamation case before the COMELEC is, logically, no longer viable. 11 The rule admits of exceptions, however, as where: (a) the board of canvassers was improperly constituted; (b) quo warranto was not the proper remedy; (c) what was filed was not really a petition for quo warranto or an election protest but a petition to annul a proclamation; (d) the filling of a quo warranto petition or an election protest was expressly made without prejudice to the pre-proclamation controversy or was made ad cautelam; and, (e) the proclamation was null and void.
Petitioner relies on the fourth exception and invokes Agbayani v. Commission on Elections 12 where the Court found that petitioner's real intention in filing the election protest ad cautelam was to insure the preservation of all the ballot boxes used in the local elections: Thus: Under COMELEC Res. No. 2035 dated September 7, 1988, all such ballot boxes would be made available for the then forthcoming barangays elections as long as they were not involved in any pre-proclamation controversy, election protest or official investigation. As the above-mentioned cases involved only nine precincts, it was only prudent for the petitioner to file his protest ad cautelam in case the pre-proclamation controversy was ultimately dismissed and it becomes necessary for him to activate his protest. The protest would involve all the precincts in the province. If he had not taken this precaution, all the other ballots boxes would have been emptied and their contents would have been burned and forever lost.
But, a distinction must be drawn between Agbayani and the instant case. Petitioner here simply alleges that the election protest was filed as a precautionary measure to preserve his rights without bothering to elaborate thereon. There is no reason at all for the exception to apply in the case before us. Rather, COMELEC's reliance on Padilla is the more appropriated remedy. Respondent Longcop having been proclaimed and having assumed office . . . . pre-proclamation controversy is no longer viable at this point of time and should be dismissed . . . . Pre-proclamation proceedings are summary in nature. These was no full-dress hearing essential to the task of adjudication with respect to the serious charges of "irregularities," etc., made by petitioner. An election contest would be the most appropriate remedy. Instead of the submission of mere affidavits, the parties would be able to present witnesses subject to the right of confrontation, etc. Recourse to such remedy would settle the matters in controversy "conclusively and once and for all.(see FELIPE L. LAODENIO vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL G.R. No. 122391,August 7, 1997).
11. It appears that Cong. Pedro P. Romualdo and Gov. Antonio R. Gallardo were both candidates in the May 11, 1992 elections for the positions of congressmen and governor, respectively, of Camiguin. They belonged to opposing political factions and were in a bitter electoral battle.
On April 10, 1992 or about a month before the elections, Cong. Romualdo filed a petition docketed as Special Civil Action No. 465 before the Regional Trial Court of Camiguin (Br. 28) presided over by respondent Judge Tabamo against Gov. Gallardo, the Provincial Treasurer, the Provincial Auditor, the Provincial Engineer, and the Provincial Budget Officer as respondents. In this petition Cong. Romualdo sought to prohibit and restrain the respondents from undertaking and/or pursuing certain public works projects and from disbursing, releasing, and/or spending public funds for said projects, allegedly because, among other reasons, said projects were undertaken in violation of the 45-day ban on public works imposed by the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg. 881); that the public works projects were commenced without the approved detailed engineering plans and specification and corresponding program of works; that the expenditures of the 20% development fund for projects other than for maintenance violated the Local Government Code; that locally funded projects had been pursued without the provincial budget having been first approved, and reviewed by the Department of Budget and Management; and that the illegal prosecution of the said public works projects requiring massive outlay or public funds during the election period was done maliciously and intentionally to corrupt voters and induce them to support the candidacy of Gov. Gallardo and his ticket in the May 11, 1992 elections.
In the afternoon of the same day that the petition was filed, Judge Tabamo issued a temporary restraining order as prayed for by the petitioner Cong. Romualdo, as follows:
It appearing from the verified petition in this case that great and irreparable damage and/or injury shall be caused to the petitioner as candidate and taxpayer, such damage or injury taking the form and shape occasioned by the alleged wanton, excessive, abusive and flagrant waste of public money, before the matter can be heard on notice, the respondents are hereby Temporarily Restrained from pursuing or prosecuting the project itemized in Annexes "A" and "A-1" of the petition; from releasing, disbursing and/or spending any public funds for such projects; from issuing, using or availing of treasury warrants or any device undertaking future delivery of money, goods, or other things of value chargeable against public funds in connection with the said projects.
In the same Order of April 10, 1993 the judge gave the respondents ten (10) days from receipt of a copy of the petition to answer the same, and set the prayer for the issuance of a preliminary injunction for hearing on April 24, 1992 at 8:30 A.M.
IS THE act of the judge valid under the circumstances? Explain.
The act of the judge is invalid.(ANTONIO A. GALLARDO vs. JUDGE SINFOROSO V. TABAMO, JR., respondent. EN BANC [A.M. No. RTJ-92-881. June 22, 1994.]) Zaldivar vs. Estenzo, (23 SCRA 533 ). decided by this Court on 3 May 1968, had squarely resolved the issue above posed. Speaking through then Associate Justice Enrique Fernando (who later became Chief Justice), this Court explicitly ruled that considering that the Commission on Elections is vested by the Constitution with exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections, the assumption of jurisdiction by the trial court over a case involving the enforcement of the Election Code "is at war with the plain constitutional command, the implementing statutory provisions, and the hospitable scope afforded such grant of authority so clear and unmistakable in recent decisions."… "Nothing is clearer than that this controversy concerns matters that brings courts into immediate and active relations with party contests. From the determination of such issues this Court has traditionally held aloof. It is hostile to a democratic system to involve the judiciary in the politics of the people. And it is not less pernicious if such judicial intervention in an essentially political contest be dressed up in the abstract phrases of the law." 24 Then, too, reference by analogy may be made to the principle that sustains Albano v. Arranz. For even without the express constitutional prescription that only this Court may review the decisions, orders and rulings of the Commission on Elections, it is easy to understand why no inference whatsoever with the performance of the Commission on Elections of its functions should be allowed unless emanating from this Court. The observation of Acting Chief Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Albano v. Arranz, 25 while not precisely in point, indicates the proper approach. Thus: "It is easy to realize the chaos that would ensue if the Court of First Instance of each and every province were to arrogate unto itself the power to disregard, suspend, or contradict any order of the Commission on Elections; that constitutional body would be speedily reduced to impotence."
12.Distinguish the following:
a. election protest from a pre-proclamation controversy
b. election protest from a qou warranto proceeding
13. In a decision of the Commission on Elections that declared the Luis Hapitan as the real winner in an election contest, it awarded damages, consisting of attorney's fees, actual expenses for xerox copies, unearned salary and other emoluments for the period, from March 1994 to April, 1995, en masse denominated as actual damages.
Is this decision allowable under the Election Code? Explain. The decision is flawed.The general rule is that no damages shall be allowed in election contests.G.R. No. 120193 March 6, 1996LUIS MALALUAN vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL. “We have painstakingly gone over the records of this case and we can attribute to petitioner no breach of contract or quasi-contract; or tortious act nor crime that may make him liable for actual damages. Neither has private respondent been "able to point out to a specific provision of law authorizing a money claim for election protest expenses against the losing party." …“We find respondent COMELEC's reasoning in awarding the damages in question to be fatally flawed. The COMELEC found the election protest filed by the petitioner to be clearly unfounded because its own appreciation of the contested ballots yielded results contrary to those of the trial court. Assuming, ex gratia argumentis, that this is a reasonable observation not without basis, it is nonetheless fallacious to conclude a malicious intention on the part of petitioner to molest private respondent on the basis of what respondent COMELEC perceived as an erroneous ruling of the trial court. In other words, the actuations of the trial court, after the filing of a case before it, are its own, and any alleged error on its part does not, in the absence of clear proof, make the suit "clearly unfounded" for which the complainant ought to be penalized. Insofar as the award of protest expenses and attorney's fees are concerned, therefore we find them to have been awarded by respondent COMELEC without basis, the election protest not having been a clearly unfounded one under the aforementioned circumstances”.
14. Distinguish the “enforcement” from the “quasi-judicial” jurisdiction of the COMELEC.Cite examples.
15. During the May 8, 1995 elections, petitioner Corazon L. Cabagnot and private respondent Florencio T. Miraflores were candidates for the governorship of Aklan province. Miraflores was proclaimed winner by the Provincial Board of Canvassers. Alleging various irregularities, Cabagnot filed on May 16, 1995 with the respondent Commission a "Memorandum of Appeal" 3 docketed as Comelec Case No. SPC 95-094 and a "Petition" for disqualification of Miraflores 4 identified as Sp. Proc. No. SPA 95-233. a few days thereafter, on May 22, 1995, she submitted to said Commission a "Petition Ad Cautelam" 5 docketed as EPC No. 95-25 which is an alternative election protest seeking to impugn the election and proclamation of private respondent Miraflores.
On January 23, 1996, the Comelec First Division issued the first assailed Order designating Kalibo, Aklan as the venue for the revision of ballots. On February 16, 1996, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration alleging that "there is imperative need to maintain the venue of the revision of ballots in Manila, a neutral place . . . to insulate the (said) revision . . . from disorderly partisan activities which could delay and/or disrupt the proceedings." It also "noted that Cabagnot had requested for initial revision of only 3 out of the 7 municipalities being contested, so as to save time, effort and expenses of all concerned. And Cabagnot is willing to shoulder the required and necessary expenses (for the change of venue to Manila), if only to determine the true results of the election". On March 28, 1996, the Comelec En Banc 7 voting 4 to 1 denied the motion for reconsideration, ruling that "(t)he designation of the venue for the revision of ballots is entirely within the discretion of the Commission", and that "(i)n the exercise of such power, the Commission is granted wide latitude to determine the proper venue, the only material consideration in such selection being that the integrity of the proceedings be ensure and protected."( CABAGNOT vs. COMELEC (G.R. No. 124383 August 9, 1996)
Is the COMELEC correct?
The COMELEC is incorrect.(G.R. No. 124383,August 9, 1996CORAZON L. CABAGNOT vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.) Under Comelec's Rules of Procedure, 10 the venue of the revision process shall be the office of the Comelec's Clerk of Court at its Main Office in Manila, thus :Sec. 9. Venue of the revision. The revision of the ballots shall be made in the office of the clerk of court concerned or at such places as the Commission or Division shall designate and shall be completed within three (3) months from the date of the order, unless otherwise directed by the Commission. (Emphasis supplied.)
16.In an election protest the COMELEC issued an Order which stated that in the performance of its duty to find the truth and ascertain as to the true winner, “it can make a determination as to wheter ballots had been written by two or more persons, or in groups written by only one hand, without need of calling handwriting experts or subjecting them to technical examination”.The protestant objected to that order, praying that a handwriting expert must be commissioned to do the work.
Is the protestant correct? Protestant is incorrect.In Erni v. COMELEC, 243 SCRA 706 ; Bulaong v. COMELEC, supra; Bocobo v. COMELEC, 191 SCRA 576 . we held that:
. . . . With respect to the contention that a technical examination of the ballots should have been ordered to determine whether they had been written by two or more persons, or in groups written by only one hand, we hold that the Commission en banc did not commit an abuse of its discretion in denying petitioner-protestee's request. The rule is settled that the Commission itself can make the determination without the need of calling handwriting experts.
Nor was evidence aliunde necessary to enable the Commission to determine the genuineness of the handwriting on the ballots, an examination of the ballots themselves being sufficient. Handwriting experts, while probably useful, are not indispensable in examining or comparing handwriting; this can be done by the COMELEC itself. We have ruled that evidence aliunde is not allowed to prove that a ballot is marked, an inspection of the ballot itself being sufficient (Penson v. Parungao, 52 Phil. 718) .
17.In an election for Mayor, Relampagos unwilling to accept defeat, filed a election protest with the Regional Trial Court of Agusan.On June 29, 1994, the trial Court found him to have won the election with a margin of six votes against Cumba.Judgment was rendered in favor of Relampagos.Copies of the decision were sent to and received by Relampagos and Cumba on July 1, 1994.On the same day, Cumba appealed the decision to the COMELEC by filing her notice of appeal and paying the proper appellate docker fees.On July 8, 1994 the trial court gave due course to the notice of appeal.On July 12, 1994, Relampagos filed with the trial court a motion for execution pending appeal which Cumba opposed on July 22, 1994.On August 3, 1994, the trial court granted the motion for exection pending appeal.
Question: Is the act of the Judge in granting the motion for execution pending appeal valid? Explain.
.The act was invalid.That the trial court acted with palpable and whimsical abuse of discretion in granting the petitioner's motion for execution pending appeal and in issuing the writ of execution is all too obvious. Since both the petitioner and the private respondent received copies of the decision on 1 July 1994, an appeal therefrom may be filed within five days 16 from 1 July 1994, or on or before 6 July 1994. Any motion for execution pending appeal must be filed before the period for the perfection of the appeal. Pursuant to Section 23 of the Interim Rules Implementing B.P. Blg. 129, which is deemed to have supplementary effect to the COMELEC Rules of Procedures pursuant to Rule 43 of the latter, an appeal would be deemed perfected on the last day for any of the parties to appeal, 17 or on 6 July 1994. On 4 July 1994, the private respondent filed her notice of appeal and paid the appeal fee. On 8 July 1994, the trial court gave due course to the appeal and ordered the elevation of the records of the case to the COMELEC. Upon the perfection of the appeal, the trial court was divested of its jurisdiction over the case. 18 Since the motion for execution pending appeal was filed only on 12 July 1994, or after the perfection of the appeal, the trial court could no longer validly act thereon. It could have been otherwise if the motion was filed before the perfection of the appeal. 19 Accordingly, since the respondent COMELEC has the jurisdiction to issue the extraordinary writs of certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus, then it correctly set aside the challenged order granting the motion for execution pending appeal and writ of execution issued by the trial court. (G.R. No. 118861 April 27, 1995EMMANUEL M. RELAMPAGOS vs. ROSITA C. CUMBA, ET AL.)
18. Castromayor was a candidate for a seat in the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of the municipality of Calinog.After the votes had been cast, the canvassing began which lasted until the night of May 9, 1995.On May 10, Castromayor was proclaimed as the eight-place winner in the SB, on the basis of the results of the canvass.However, when the chairman of the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC) checked the totals in the statement of votes the following day, it was discovered that Democrito has 62 votes more than that of Castromayor, because the results in one precinct had been overlooked in the computation of the totals.The COMELEC after having informed of such defect, directed the chairman of the MBC to reconvene and annul the proclamation of Castromayor, and finally to proclaim Democrito.
Castromayor complains that the COMELEC’s order is illegal for the reason that he was already proclaimed, hence the proper remedy of Democrito was to file an election protest before the RTC.
Question: Is the contention of Castromayor correct? Explain.
Castromayor is incorrect.( G.R. No. 120426 November 23, 1995NICOLAS C. CASTROMAYOR vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.) What has just been said also disposes of petitioner's other contention that because his proclamation has already been made, any remedy of the losing party is an election protest. As held in the Duremdes case:It is DUREMDES' further submission that this proclamation could not be declared null and void because a pre-proclamation controversy is not proper after a proclamation has been made, the proper recourse being an election protest. This is on the assumption, however, that there has been a valid proclamation. Where a proclamation is null and void, the proclamation is no proclamation at all and the proclaimed candidate's assumption of office cannot deprive the COMELEC of the power to declare such nullity and annul the proclamation. (Aguam vs. COMELEC, L-28955, 28 May 1968, 23 SCRA 883). It should be pointed out, in this connection, that what is involved here is a simple problem of arithmetic. The Statement of Votes is merely tabulation per precinct of the votes obtained by the candidates as reflected in the election returns. In making the correction in computation, the MBC will be acting in an administrative capacity, under the control and supervision of the COMELEC. Hence any question pertaining to the proceedings of the MBC may be raised directly to the COMELEC en banc in the exercise of its constitutional function to decide questions affecting elections.
19.Gatchalian and Aruelo were rival candidates for vice-mayor in the May 11, 1992 elections. On May 13, Gatchalian was declared winner by a margin of 4 votes.Aruelo filed a petition to annul the proclamation of Gatchalian on May 22, 1992. Pending the resolution of his petition, Aruelo filed with the RTC an election protest ex abundante cautela, for which he paid P610 as docket fee (which fell short of P150).
Gatchalian filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the election protest was filed out of time, and that the RTC had no jurisdiction on the same.
Is Gatchalian correct? Explain
.( G.R. No. 107979 June 19, 1995,DANILO F. GATCHALIAN vs. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.)The election protest was filed within the ten-day period, hence it was filed on time.However, the shortage of the docket fee, in effect has not vested the court with jurisdiction. Under the above-cited section, Aruelo had ten days from May 13, 1992 to file an election protest. Instead of filing an election protest, Aruelo filed with the COMELEC a pre-proclamation case against Gatchalian on May 22, 1992, or nine days after May 13, 1992. The filing of the pre-proclamation case suspended the running of the period within which to file an election protest or quo warranto proceedings (B.P. Blg. 881, Sec. 248). Aruelo received the COMELEC resolution denying his pre-proclamation petition on June 22, 1992. Hence, Aruelo had only one day left after June 22, 1992 within which to file an election protest. However, it will be noted that Aruelo filed on June 2, 1992 with the trial court an election protest ex abundante cautela…. It is the payment of the filing fee that vests jurisdiction of the court over the election protest, not the payment of the docket fees for the claim of damages and attorney's fees. For failure to pay the filing fee prescribed under Section 9, Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the election protest must be dismissed. Under Section 9, Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, "[n]o protest . . . shall be given due course without the payment of a filing fee in the amount of three hundred pesos (P300.00) for each interest.
20.De Castro was proclaimed mayor after the May 8, 1995 elections, while Medrano was proclaimed vice-mayor. Within the reglementary period, Jamilla who was De Castro’s oponent for Mayor, filed an election protest. On December 15, 1995, during the pendency of the election protest, protestant Jamilla died. Four days after her death, the RTC issued an Order dismissing the case on the ground that the election protest is personal and it is extinguished by the death of the protestant.
On January 9, 1996 Medrano learned of the Order of Dismissal, and six days later, he filed a Motion for Intervention.
As Judge would you consider the Order of Dismissal and allow the Motion for Intervention filed by Medrano?
Explain. The election protest must not be dismissed, but the Motion for Intervention must be allowed.(G.R. No. 125249 February 7, 1997JIMMY S. DE CASTRO vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL. It is true that a public office is personal to the public officer and is not a property transmissible to his heirs upon death. 9 Thus, applying the doctrine of actio personalis moritur cum persona, upon the death of the incumbent, no heir of his may be allowed to continue holding his office in his place.But while the right to a public office is personal and exclusive to the public officer, an election protest is not purely personal and exclusive to the protestant or to the protestee such that the death of either would oust the court of all authority to continue the protest proceedings.An election contest, after all, involves not merely conflicting private aspirations but is imbued with paramount public interests. As we have held in the case of Vda. de De Mesa v. Mencias: . . . It is axiomatic that an election contest, involving as it does not only the adjudication and settlement of the private interests of the rival candidates but also the paramount need of dispelling once and for all the uncertainty that beclouds the real choice of the electorate with respect to who shall discharge the prerogatives of the offices within their gift, is a proceeding imbued with public interest which raises it onto a plane over and above ordinary civil actions. For this reason, broad perspectives of public policy impose upon courts the imperative duty to ascertain by all means within their command who is the real candidate elected in as expeditious a manner as possible, without being fettered by technicalities and procedural barriers to the end that the will of the people may not be frustrated (Ibasco vs. Ilao, et al., G.R. L-17512, December 29, 1960; Reforma vs. De Luna, G.R. L-13242, July 31, 1958). So inextricably intertwined are the interests of the contestants and those of the public that there can be no gainsaying the logic of the proposition that even the voluntary cessation in office of the protestee not only does not ipso facto divest him of the character of an adversary in the contest inasmuch as he retains a party interest to keep his political opponent out of the office and maintain therein his successor, but also does not in any manner impair or detract from the jurisdiction of the court to pursue the proceeding to its final conclusion (De Los Angeles vs. Rodriguez, 46 Phil. 595, 597; Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 62 Phil. 584, 587; Galves vs. Maramba, G.R. L-13206).Upon the same principle, the death of the protestee De Mesa did not abate the proceedings in the election protest filed against him, and it may stated as a rule that an election contest survives and must be prosecuted to final judgment despite the death of the protestee. 11The death of the protestant, as in this case, neither constitutes a ground for the dismissal of the contest nor ousts the trial court of its jurisdiction to decide the election contest. Apropos is the following pronouncement of this court in the case of Lomugdang v. Javier: 12Determination of what candidate has been in fact elected is a matter clothed with public interest, wherefore, public policy demands that an election contest, duly commenced, be not abated by the death of the contestant. We have squarely so rule in Sibulo Vda. de Mesa vs. Judge Mencias, G.R. No. L-24583, October 29, 1966, in the same spirit that led this Court to hold that the ineligibility of the protestant is not a defense (Caesar vs. Garrido, 53 Phil. 57), and that the protestee's cessation in office is not a ground for the dismissal of the contest nor detract the Courts jurisdiction to decide the case (Angeles vs. Rodriguez, 46 Phil. 595; Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 62 Phil. 584). 13The asseveration of petitioner that private respondent is not a real party in interest entitled to be substituted in the election protest in place of the late Jamilla, is utterly without legal basis. Categorical was our ruling in Vda. de Mesa and Lomugdang that:. . . the Vice Mayor elect has the status of a real party in interest in the continuation of the proceedings and is entitled to intervene therein. For if the protest succeeds and the Frotestee is unseated, the Vice-Mayor succeeds to the office of Mayor that becomes vacant if the one duly elected can not assume the post. 14To finally dispose of this case, we rule that the filing by private respondent of his Omnibus Petition/Motion on January 15, 1996, well within a period of thirty days from December 19, 1995 when Jamilla's counsel informed the trial court of Jamilla's death, was in compliance with Section 17, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court. Since the Rules of Court, though not generally applicable to election cases, may however be applied by analogy or in a suppletory character, 15 private respondent was correct to rely thereon.
END OF THE EXAMINATION