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G.R. NO. 204123 - Maria lourdes B. Locsin v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Monique Yazmin Maria Q. Lagdameo

G.R. NO. 204123 - Maria lourdes B. Locsin v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Monique Yazmin Maria Q. Lagdameo

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

G.R. NO. 204123 : March 19, 2013

MARIA LOURDES B. LOCSIN, Petitioner, v.HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL and MONIQUE YAZMIN MARIA Q. LAGDAMEO, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N

LEONEN, J.:

The Constitution provides that public respondent House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their members.1 This Court's jurisdiction to review HRET's decisions and orders is exercised only upon showing that HRET acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Otherwise, this Court will not interfere with an electoral tribunal's exercise of its discretion or jurisdiction.2chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

This is a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed by petitioner Locsin praying:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

i. for the WRIT OF CERTIORARI declaring the assailed Decision promulgated on 17 September 2012 and HRET Resolution No. 12-209 dated 15 October 2012 as NULL AND VOID and/or to REVERSE OR SET ASIDE the issuances for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction;cralawlibrary

ii. for the WRIT OF PROHIBITION to enjoin and prohibit the Public Respondent HRET from implementing the assailed Decision promulgated on 17 September 2012 and HRET Resolution No. 12-209 dated 15 October 2012;cralawlibrary

iii. to NULLIFY the proclamation of private respondent Lagdameo;cralawlibrary

iv. to DECLARE and PROCLAIM petitioner Locsin as the duly elected Representative of the First District of Makati City having received the HIGHEST NUMBER OF VALID VOTES during the May 10, 2010 elections.3chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Petitioner Locsin and private respondent Lagdameo, along with three other candidates, vied for the position to represent the First Legislative District of Makati in the 2010 national elections. Respondent Lagdameo was proclaimed winner by the City Board of Canvassers on 11 May 2010 garnering 42,102 votes. Petitioner came in second with 41,860 votes or a losing margin of 242 votes.4chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

On 21 May 2010, petitioner Locsin instituted an election protest before the HRET impugning the election results in all 233 clustered precincts in Makati's First District.5 Petitioner alleged that the results were tainted by election fraud, anomalies, and irregularities. On 2 July 2010, Lagdameo filed her Answer with Counter-Protest questioning the results in 123 clustered precincts.

During the preliminary conference, Locsin designated 59 clustered precincts as the pilot precincts for her protest while Lagdameo designated 31 clustered precincts as the pilot precincts for her counter-protest. The revision/recount proceedings for 59 clustered precincts covering 25% of the pilot protested precincts were conducted from 14 April 2011 to 19 April 2011. Thereafter, petitioner presented her documentary evidence. By Resolution No. 11-268, the HRET admitted in evidence all documentary exhibits offered by petitioner subject to the Comment/Objections of private respondent.

Lagdameo's winning margin increased from 242 to 265 votes after the revision and appreciation of ballots in 25% of the pilot protested precincts.6 Nevertheless, HRET through the 1December 2011 Resolution continued the revision proceedings to clear all doubts surrounding the victory of private respondent. Revision proceedings covered the remaining 174 clustered precincts from 18 January 2012 to 31 January 2012.

Petitioner Locsin continued her presentation of additional documentary exhibits. By Resolution No. 12-061 dated 8 March 2012, the HRET admitted the exhibits subject to private respondent's Comment/Opposition filed on 27 February 2012.

Private respondent Lagdameo presented her evidence for the counter-protested precincts. By Order dated 27 April 2012, the HRET admitted all exhibits subject to the Comment/Opposition filed by petitioner on 24 April 2012.

After the parties filed their respective memoranda, the HRET promulgated on 17 September 2012 the assailed Decision7 dismissing petitioner's election protest, the dispositive portion of which reads:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, for failure to show a reasonable recovery of votes, this election protest is DISMISSED and the proclamation of protestee Monique Yazmin Maria Q. Lagdameo as the duly elected Representative of the First Legislative District of Makati City in the May 10, 2010 Automated National and Local Elections is AFFIRMED.8chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The HRET discussed in detail the results of the recount and its appreciation of the contested ballots.9 The results showed that Lagdameo's proclamation margin of 242 votes increased to 265 votes after revision proceedings in the 25% pilot protested clustered precincts. The margin rose to 335 votes after the revision and appreciation of ballots in the remaining precincts.10 On the allegations of fraud and election irregularities, respondent tribunal found no compelling evidence that may cast doubt on the credibility of the results generated by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) electronic system.11chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The HRET also denied with finality petitioner's motion for reconsideration by Resolution No. 12-209 dated 15 October 2012.12chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

On 16 November 2012, Locsin filed the present petition on the ground that public respondent HRET committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1. it promulgated the assailed Decision on 17 September 2012 dismissing the election protest filed by the petitioner on the basis of the erroneous appreciation of the petitioner's contested and claimed ballots.

2. it issued the assailed Resolution No. 12-209 dated 15 October 2012 denying with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioner despite the presence of substantial grounds for the reconsideration of the assailed 17 September 2012 Decision.

3. it resolved to admit the 2,455 ballots of the private respondent despite the valid, legitimate and substantial objections of the petitioner.

4. it resolved to deny the 471 claimed ballots of the petitioner despite the existence of bona fide and compelling grounds for their admission.13chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Locsin alleged that the HRET committed grave abuse of discretion when it ignored the presence of 2,457 invalid, irregular, and rejectible ballots for Lagdameo and 663 bona fide claimed ballots for petitioner.14 Specifically, only two of the 2,457 contested ballots were rejected by the HRET, and only 192 of the 663 ballots claimed by petitioner were admitted by the HRET.15 Petitioner argued that a re-examination of the private respondent's ballots would show that markings were placed intentionally for identification, and the ballots should have been rejected. Those which contained shadings below the 50% threshold should have been rejected also.

In its Comment, public respondent argued that under the Constitution, the HRET alone shall have the authority to determine the form, manner, and conduct by which an election controversy is settled and decided with no further appeal.

For its part, private respondent Lagdameo argued that the HRET's rulings on the recount, revision and appreciation of objected and claimed ballots are in accord with law and evidence.16chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The sole issue in the present petition is whether the HRET committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing petitioner's election protest.

Article VI, Section 17 of the Constitution provides that the HRET shall be the "sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective members."17 As this Court held in Lazatin v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal18:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The use of the word "sole" emphasizes the exclusive character of the jurisdiction conferred. The exercise of the power by the Electoral Commission under the 1935 Constitution has been described as "intended to be as complete and unimpaired as if it had remained originally in the legislature." Earlier, this grant of power to the legislature was characterized by Justice Malcolm "as full, clear and complete." Under the amended 1935 Constitution, the power was unqualifiedly reposed upon the Electoral Tribunal and it remained as full, clear and complete as that previously granted the legislature and the Electoral Commission. The same may be said with regard to the jurisdiction of the Electoral Tribunals under the 1987 Constitution.19chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Thus, this Court's jurisdiction to review HRET's decisions and orders is exercised only upon showing that the HRET acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.20 Otherwise, this Court shall not interfere with the HRET's exercise of its discretion or jurisdiction.21 "Grave abuse of discretion" has been defined as the capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment, the exercise of power in an arbitrary manner, where the abuse is so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty.22chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Time and again, this Court has held that mere abuse of discretion is not enough.23 It must be grave abuse of discretion as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law.24chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In the present case, we find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of public respondent HRET when it dismissed petitioner's election protest.

Public respondent HRET conducted a revision and appreciation of all the ballots from all the precincts. This was done despite the fact that results of initial revision proceedings in 25% of the precincts increased the winning margin of private respondent from 242 to 265 votes. Out of due diligence and to remove all doubts on the victory of private respondent, the HRET directed continuation of revision proceedings. This was done despite the dissent of three of its members, representatives Franklin P. Bautista, Rufus B. Rodriguez, and Joselito Andrew R. Mendoza. The three voted "for the dismissal of the instant election protest without further proceedings for lack of reasonable recovery of votes in the pilot protested clustered precincts."25chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Thus, in reaching the assailed decision, the HRET took pains in reviewing the validity or invalidity of each contested ballot with prudence. This is evident from the decision's ballot enumeration specifying with concrete basis and clarity the reason for its denial or admittance.26 The results, as well as the objections, claims, admissions, and rejections of ballots were explained sufficiently and addressed by the HRET in its Decision.

In essence, this petition under Rule 65 seeks a re-examination by this Court of the contested ballots.

An inquiry as to the correctness of the evaluation of evidence is not within the ambit of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari.27 "Where the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter, its orders upon all questions pertaining to the cause are orders within its jurisdiction, and however erroneous they may be, they cannot be corrected by certiorari."28 This rule applies to decisions by the HRET whose independence as a constitutional body has consistently been upheld by this Court.29chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Well settled also is the rule that the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts, and factual issues are beyond its authority to review.30chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In the absence of any showing of grave abuse of discretion by the HRET, there is no reason for this Court to annul respondent tribunal's decision or to substitute it with its own. As held by this Court in Garcia vs. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal:31chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Court has ruled that the power of the Electoral Commission is beyond judicial interference except, in any event, upon a clear showing of arbitrary and improvident use of power as will constitute a denial of due process. The Court does not, to paraphrase it in Co vs. HRET,32 venture into the perilous area of correcting perceived errors of independent branches of the Government; it comes in only when it has to vindicate a denial of due process or correct an abuse of discretion so grave or glaring that no less than the Constitution itself calls for remedial action.33chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Petitioner's bare assertions of grave abuse of discretion by public respondent were not substantiated. Neither was there arbitrariness or use of power as to constitute denial of due process. In fact, petitioner was given several opportunities to present its evidence and raise its arguments. These were considered by public respondent that discussed meticulously its factual and legal bases in reaching its decision.34chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

But still, to erase all lingering doubts, this Court looked into the contested ballots as summarized by Locsin in the petition.

I. Objected Ballots

Petitioner alleges that the HRET acted with grave abuse of discretion in rejecting only two (2) out of the 2,457 Lagdameo-identified ballots which were contested timely by petitioner during the judicial recount and revision proceedings. Petitioner claims that these ballots were marked ballots (MB), spurious ballots (SB), and miscellaneous/stray ballots (MISC/STRAY) which should have been rejected. The petition included tables enumerating the contested ballots, ground for their rejection and findings, and organized by barangay and clustered precinct number.35 Petitioner's findings are consolidated and summarized as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

No. of BallotsFindingsGrounds
446No BEI signatureSB
30- No BEI signature
- Signature affixed on lower
left portion of the ballot
deliberately done to mark
the ballot
SB

MB

13No signature on the BEI
Chairman's signature box /
No BEI Chairman's
Signature
SB
3The signature on the BEI
Chairman's signature box is
different from the signature
on the other election
documents.
SB
1Two different signatures
written inside rectangle
intended for BEI Chairman
slot
MB
575Different BEI signatureSB
1-Different BEI signature
- With distinctive "C"
voting mark beside oval
shape on candidate number
"128" partylist deliberately done to mark the ballot
SB
MB
2The signatures of these
ballots are different from
the rest of the ballots and
from the signatures on the
election documents.
SB
5Different BEI signature
affixed on the upper right
portion of the ballot
MB
1BEI signature affixed on
president slot portion of
ballot deliberately done to
mark the ballot
MB
49With distinctive voting
marks written... deliberately
done to mark the ballot
MB
1Thumb print on the slot for
sangguniang panglungsod
no. 27 which serves no
purpose other than to mark
the ballot for identification.
MB
4"X" mark drawn over the
oval shape beside the pre-printed name "(different
candidate
)," which serves
no purpose other than to
mark the ballot for
identification.
MB
5Voter's signature affixed ...
deliberately done to mark
the ballot.
MB
17Oval shape beside pre-printed name
"LAGDAMEO" are only
shaded below 50%
threshold required by the
rules, hence, it should be
stray.
MISC/STRAY
10Oval shape beside pre-printed name "(different
candidate
)," (different position], is only shaded
below 50% threshold
required by the rules, hence,
it should be stray.
MISC/STRAY
1Oval shape beside
"(different candidate),"
(different position), was
slashed, hence, it should be
stray.
MISC/STRAY

Petitioner argues that in election law, irrelevant expressions, impertinent figures, words or phrases, and unnecessary and identifying expressions nullify ballots. Petitioner cites Section 195 of the Omnibus Election Code which states that it shall be unlawful to apply "any distinguishing mark" or "make use of any other means to identify the vote of the voter."36 Petitioner also cites Alfelor v. Fuentebella,37 which states that it is illegitimate practice to include in the ballot unnecessary writings that detract from the solemnity of the exercise of suffrage. The 1935 case of

Cecilio v. Tomacruz38 and the 1958 case of Amurao v. Calangi39 were also cited saying that ballots containing impertinent, irrelevant, unnecessary words or expressions are null ballots with these markings serving no other purpose than to identify the ballot. Finally, petitioner cites the 1962 case of Tajanlangit v. Cazenas40 indicating that ballots containing the signature of voters shall be invalidated.41chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The cardinal objective in ballot appreciation is to discover and give effect to, rather than frustrate, the intention of the voter.42 Extreme caution is observed before any ballot is invalidated and doubts are resolved in favor of the ballot's validity.43 Public respondent HRET was guided by this principle and the existing rules and rulings in its appreciation of the contested ballots.44chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Ballots with an Ambiguous Vote have a mark that is allegedly neither a definite vote nor a non-vote. This may happen if the mark is too light or the voter inadvertently made a small mark inside the oval or other similar cases. The tribunal determined whether the voter clearly intended to draw the mark or if this was made inadvertently. On this ground, the HRET admitted all 250 ballots objected by petitioner in favor of Lagdameo. On the other hand, the HRET admitted all 439 ballots objected by Lagdameo and containing a definite vote for petitioner.

Marked Ballots contain a mark intentionally written or placed by the voter for the purpose of identifying the ballot or the voter. In Cailles v. Gomez,45chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The distinguishing mark which the law forbids to be placed in the ballots is that which the elector may have placed with the intention of facilitating the means of identifying said ballot, for the purpose of defeating the secrecy of the suffrage which the law establishes. As this is a question of fact, it should be resolved with the ballot itself in view.46chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Marks made by the voter unintentionally do not invalidate the ballot.47 Neither do marks made by some person other than the voter.48chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Moreover, the Omnibus Election Code provides explicitly that every ballot shall be presumed valid unless there is clear and good reason to justify its rejection.49 Unless it should clearly appear that they have been deliberately put by the voter to serve as identification marks, commas, dots, lines, or hyphens between the first name and surname of a candidate, or in other parts of the ballot, traces of the letter "T", "J", and other similar ones, the first letters or syllables of names which the voter does not continue, the use of two or more kinds of writing and unintentional or accidental flourishes, strokes, or strains, shall not invalidate the ballot.50chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

On the premise that the alleged markings in the ballots, i.e, "/" ")" and other similar marks do not qualify to identify the ballot, the HRET admitted as not marked the 381 ballots objected by petitioner in favor of Lagdameo. On the other hand, the HRET admitted as not marked 4,562 ballots objected by Lagdameo in favor of petitioner. Only one (1) ballot for petitioner was rejected while only two (2) ballots for Lagdameo were rejected for being marked.

Petitioner objected to most of the ballots on the ground that these were Spurious or Substituted ballots. These are ballots that allegedly do not contain the signature of the Chairperson of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) at the designated space or the signature is allegedly different from the BEI Chairperson's signature appearing on other election documents.

In Punzalan v. Comelec,51 this Court held that "it is a well-settled rule that the failure of the BEI chairman or any of the members of the board to comply with their mandated administrative responsibility, i.e., signing, authenticating and thumbmarking of ballots, should not penalize the voter with disenfranchisement, thereby frustrating the will of the people."52 The consistent rule is that a ballot is considered valid and genuine when it bears any one of the following authenticating marks: (a) the COMELEC watermark or (b) the signature or initials or thumbprint of the Chairman of the BEI; and (c) in those cases where the COMELEC watermarks are blurred or not readily apparent to the naked eye, the presence of red and blue fibers in the ballots.53chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In this case, ultra-violet (UV) lamps were used to confirm the presence of the UV code or seal placed as security markings at the upper center of the automated ballots.54 This UV code or seal was inserted to identify ballots that were cast and fed to the PCOS machines. The HRET found these ballots authentic and admitted as valid the 1,808 ballots objected by petitioner and favoring Lagdameo. On the other hand, the HRET admitted 1,905 ballots objected by Lagdameo and favoring Locsin.

Ballots with an Over-Voting count occur when a voter shaded more than two or more ovals pertaining to two or more candidates for representative. The HRET admitted 10 ballots in favor of Lagdameo owing to the untenability of the objections raised. On the other hand, all 597 ballots in favor of petitioner Locsin were admitted.

Lastly, the HRET found without merit objections made on miscellaneous grounds and admitted one (1) ballot for petitioner and four (4) ballots for Lagdameo.55chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

This Court finds no grave abuse of discretion by the HRET in its findings after HRET's careful review of the objected ballots and guided by existing principles, rules and rulings on its appreciation.

II. Claimed Ballots

Petitioner also alleged that the HRET acted with grave abuse of discretion in admitting only 192 out of the 663 stray, common or PCOS-rejected ballots claimed timely and duly by the petitioner during the judicial recount and revision proceedings. The petition included tables enumerating the contested ballots, ground for their rejection and findings, organized by barangay and clustered precinct number.56 Petitioner's findings are consolidated and summarized as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Number of BallotsFindings
1The names of LAGDAMEO and LOCSIN are both shaded
but the shading for LAGDAMEO is more prominent.
3Oval shape beside pre-printed name "LOCSIN, LAGDAMEO" was shaded, the voter's intention is to vote for "LOCSIN" as Congressman.
17The shaded oval beside the name "LOCSIN MARIA LOURDES" is clear and more pertinent as compared to the other candidate. The intention of the voter is clear to vote for "LOCSIN" for representative.
427Oval shape beside pre-printed name "LOCSIN " was shaded, the intention of the voter is to vote for LOCSIN as Congressman.
15Oval shape beside pre-printed name "LOCSIN" was shaded, the intention of the voter is to vote for "LOUIE LOCSIN" as Congressman.
2Oval shape beside pre-printed name "BARBERS, IBAY, LOCSIN" was shaded, the intention of the voter is to vote for "LOCSIN" for Congressman.
1Oval shape beside pre-printed name "BARBERS, LOCSIN" was shaded, the intention of the voter is to vote for "LOCSIN" as Congressman.
4Oval shape beside pre-printed name "BARBERS, IBAY, CARBONFIL, LAGDAMEO, LOCSIN" was shaded, the intention of the voter is to vote for "LOCSIN" as Congressman.
1Oval shape beside pre-printed name "LOCSIN, MARIA LOURDES B. "LOUIE" was shaded 60% by semi-illiterate voter, other entries shaded on the ballot done by another person, the intention of voter to vote for "LOCSIN".
2Ballot is clean and no reported incident in the MOV. Therefore, the voter's intention to vote for "LOCSIN MARIA LOURDES" for representative of the 1st district of Makati should not be disenfranchised.
1Oval shape beside pre-printed name "LOCSIN" was shaded, the voter's intention is to vote for LOCSIN as Congressman. ("One and more ambiguous mark" was written on the ballot.)
2Oval shape beside pre-printed name "LOCSIN" was shaded, the intent of voter is to vote for LOCSIN as Congressman. (The ballots were marked "Rejected" signed by the BEI Chairman.)

The HRET discussed in the assailed decision that under the 2010 automated election system, parties' claims are now limited to the applicability of the intent rule. This requires compliance with the following conditions: (a) only the oval beside the name of the claimant is shaded or marked; (b) the ballot belongs to the clustered precinct concerned; (c) the ballot is not marked; and (d) the ballot is authentic.57chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The HRET applied this rule on its appreciation of the claimed ballots. For Stray ballots, the tribunal admitted two (2) ballots out of the 451 stray ballots claimed by petitioner and in fact admitted only one (1) out of the 606 stray ballots claimed by Lagdameo. For PCOS Machine-Rejected ballots, these may still be admissible for the claimant provided that upon physical examination, the four requisites for the applicability of the intent rule are present. The HRET admitted 190 claimed ballots in favor of petitioner and 191 in favor of Lagdameo.

The final results of the appreciation of contested ballots were summarized by respondent tribunal as follows:58chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Objected Ballots
OBJECTION
BASIS
LOCSINLAGDAMEO
AdmittedRejectedAdmittedRejected
Ballots with an
Ambiguous
Vote
43902500
Ballots Shaded
by More than
One Person
1,118000
Ballots
Objected as
Marked
4,562(1)381(2)
Ballots with
Pattern Voting
10,625000
Spurious /
Substituted
Ballots
1,90501,8080
Ballots with an
Over-Voting
Count
5970100
Combination of
Grounds
0020
Miscellaneous
Grounds
1(1)40
No Stated
Objection
1000
TOTAL

19,248

(2)

2,455

(2)


Claimed Ballots
CLAIM
BASIS
LOCSINLAGDAMEO
AdmittedDeniedAdmittedDenied
Stray Ballots2(449)1(605)
PCOS
Machine-
Rejected
Ballots
190(22)191(11)
TOTAL192(471)192(616)

The HRET did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it in fact applied meticulously the existing rules and rulings on the ballot appreciation for the objected and claimed ballots made by both parties.

Clearly, Lagdameo received 42,484 votes. Locsin, on the other hand, received 42,149 votes.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Decision promulgated on 17 September 2012 and HRET Resolution No. 12-209 dated 15 October 2012 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.


Endnotes:


1 CONSTITUTION, Art. VI, Sec. 17. Emphasis supplied.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

2 Dueñas v. HRET, G.R. NO. 191550, May 4, 2010, 620 SCRA 78, 80.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

3 Rollo, pp. 63 64.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

4 Id. at 69.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

5 Id. at 114-135.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

6 Id. at 109 and 575.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

7 HRET Decision dated September 17, 2012. Rollo, pp. 68-110.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

8 Id. at 110.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

9 Id. at 89 106.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

10 Id. at 109.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

11 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

12 Id. at 113.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

13 Rollo, pp. 12-13.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

14 Id. at 14.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

15 Id. at 15.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

16 Id. at 538.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

17 Emphasis supplied.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

18 250 Phil. 390 (1988).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

19 Id. at 399-340, citing Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

20 CONSTITUTION, Art. VIII, Sec. 1.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

21 Dueñas v. HRET, supra note 2.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

22 Id. at 80.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

23 Tañada v. Angara, 338 Phil. 546, 604 (1997), citing San Sebastian College v. CA, 197 SCRA 138 (1991); Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. CTA, 195 SCRA 444, 458 (1991); Simon v. Civil Service Commission, 215 SCRA 410, (1992); and Bustamante v. Commissioner on Audit, 216 SCRA 134, 136, (1992).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

24 Id. at 604.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

25 HRET Resolution dated 1 December 2011. Rollo, p. 597.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

26 HRET Decision dated 17 September 2012. Rollo, pp. 88 106.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

27 See Garcia v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 371 Phil. 280, 292 (1999)ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

28 Robles v. HRET, 260 Phil. 831, 836 (1990).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

29 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

30 Sema v. HRET, G.R. NO. 190734, 616 SCRA 670, 681, March 26, 2010.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

31 Supra note 28.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

32 199 SCRA 692 (1991).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

33 Supra note 28 at 287.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

34 Rollo, pp. 88 106.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

35 Id. at 16-28.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

36 Rollo, p. 29.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

37 HRET Case No. 194 (1969).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

38 62 Phil 689 (1935).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

39 104 Phil 347 (1958).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

40 G.R. NO. L-18894, 30 June 1962, 5 SCRA 567.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

41 Rollo, p. 29.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

42 See Torres vs. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 404 Phil. 125, 142 (2001).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

43 Silverio v. Castro, 125 Phil. 917, 925 (1967).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

44 HRET Decision, Rollo, p 91.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

45 42 Phil. 496 (1921).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

46 Id. at 533.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

47 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

48 Tajanlangit v. Cazeñas, 5 SCRA 567, 579 (1962).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

49 Omnibus Election Code, Sec. 211.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

50 Id. at Sec. 211 (22).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

51 352 Phil. 538 (1998).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

52 Id. at 551.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

53 Libanan v. HRET, 347 Phil. 797, 813 (1997).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

54 Rollo, p. 98.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

55 Id. at 101.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

56 Rollo, pp. 31-61.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

57 Rollo, p. 102.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

58 Id. at 106.

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