[G.R. No. 12102. December 1, 1916. ]
GABINO BUSTOS, Petitioner, v. PERCY M. MOIR, judge of first instance of Pampanga, and PAULINO FAJARDO, Respondents.
Gibbs, McDonough & Blanco for Petitioner.
No appearance for the respondent judge.
Pedro Valdes Liongson for respondent Fajardo.
1. CERTIORARI; GROUNDS; JURISDICTION OF TRIAL COURT; ELECTION CONTESTS. — The decree of a Court of First Instance annulling a municipal election upon the ground that of the 319 votes cast for the office contested 268 were cast by illiterates and persons physically unable to prepare their ballots, and that the ballots so cast by illiterates and persons physically disabled were illegal for the reason that in the preparation of those ballots the procedure required by the Election Law was not followed, is not a decree outside or in excess of the jurisdiction of the court and a writ of certiorari will not issue for its revision.
2. ELECTION CONTESTS; JURISDICTION OF COURTS. — Courts of First Instance have plenary jurisdiction over election contests and they are accordingly authorized in proper cases to annul elections as well as to order the returns corrected.
3. ID.; ID.; JURISDICTION TO DECIDE RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY. — Even though it be admitted for the purposes of discussion that the finding of the court, that the ballots cast by illiterates and persons physically disabled were illegal, was erroneous, that fact does not affect its jurisdiction. It is authorized to decide; and whether it decides right or wrong is immaterial to the question of its jurisdiction.
4. CERTIORARI; NATURE AND GROUNDS; EXISTENCE OF OTHER REMEDY. — Certiorari is not a proceeding to correct errors, but was created for the purpose of relieving errors from the arbitrary acts of courts and judges, that is, acts which they no authority or power in law to perform. Errors may be corrected by appeal in cases where an appeal lies. In other cases the errors must be submitted to and borne because the legislature so decrees.
5. ELECTION CONTESTS; JURISDICTION; AUTHORITY OF SUPREME COURT. — The Supreme Court has no authority under the Election Law to touch in any way the merits of an election contest with respect to municipal offices. The Court of First Instance has exclusive jurisdiction of that matter and its judgment thereon is final and conclusive; and the Supreme Court proceeds without authority and is acting arbitrarily if it attempts to interfere with the court in the exercise of that jurisdiction. It is of no consequence to the Supreme Court of First Instance to be in such case. That is something which does not concern it; and when questions of that nature are presented to it, it is its duty to refuse to pass on them.
D E C I S I O N
This is a petition for a writ of certiorari to be directed to the Honorable Percy M. Moir, judge of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, requiring him to send to this court the proceedings had in an election contest to the end that they may be revised by this court and certain [parts] thereof annulled on the ground that they were taken without or in excess of the jurisdiction of the court.
The whole basis of the petition is that, during the trial of the election contest, which is the subject matter of this proceeding, it appeared from the evidence that. of the 319 votes cast for the office to which the parties to the contest aspired, 268 were votes cast by illiterates and persons physically unable to prepare their own ballots, and that all of the ballots cast by such persons were prepared for them by the inspectors of election and such cast by them without taking the oath required by the Election Law to be taken as a condition precedent to their right to aid in the preparation of their ballots. (Sec. 550, Administrative Code.) After hearing the evidence the respondent court declared the ballots so cast illegal and annulled the election. It is this act of the court which is declared to be outside of and in excess of its jurisdiction and upon which this proceeding for certiorari is based.
We do not believe that this proceeding can be maintained. Under the Election Law the proper Court of First Instance has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine election contests and to pronounce such judgments within the pleadings as he deems proper under the law. He is authorized, in a proper case, not only to recount the ballots and reject those which he considers illegal and accept those which he considers valid, but he is also authorized, in a proper case, to annul the election completely. That he has jurisdiction to do [so] is unquestioned. Courts of first instance have done so and their judgments have been affirmed by this court on appeal. This court on appeal has itself annulled election (Manalo v. Sevilla, 24 Phil. Rep., 609); and what this court is authorized to do on appeal a trial court may do in the first instance. Such being the case, the mere fact that the Court of First Instance in this case annulled the election is no reason for the claim that it exceeded its jurisdiction or that it acted without jurisdiction. It is absurd to claim that a court has no jurisdiction to do the very thing which the law authorizes it to do. The mere fact that it decides the question wrong is of no consequence so far as this kind of proceeding is concerned. It is authorized by law to decide; and whether it decides right or wrong is utterly immaterial to the question of its jurisdiction. (In re Prautch, 1 Phil. Rep., 132; Springer v. Odlin, 3 Phil. Rep., 344; Arzadon v. Chanco and Baldueza, 14 Phil. Rep., 710; De Fiesta v. Llorente and Manila Railroad Co., 25 Phil. Rep., 554; Herrera v. Barretto and Joaquin, 25 Phil. Rep., 245; Gala v. Cui and Rodriguez, 25 Phil. Rep., 522; Province of Tarlac v. Gale, 26 Phil. Rep., 338; Napa v. Weissenhagen, 29 Phil. Rep., 180; Government of the P. I. v. Judge of First Instance of Iloilo and Bantillo, 34 Phil. Rep., 157.) Certiorari is not a proceeding to correct errors; but was created for the purpose of relieving persons from the arbitrary acts of court and judges, that is, acts which they have no authority or power in law to perform (Id.) . Errors may be corrected by appeal in cases where an appeal lies. In other cases the errors must be submitted to and borne because the legislature, the representative of the whole people, so decrees.
If the rules just set out did not prevail this court would be continually deciding election contests on the merits and would be compelling courts of first instance to decide them as this court might require. This would be in violation of law because the statute confers not only jurisdiction on the Courts of First Instance to hear and determine election contests of this character, but it confers exclusive jurisdiction and provides that there shall be no appeal from its decision. If the resolution of the merits is confided exclusively to that court, the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands proceeds without authority and it is acting arbitrarily, when it attempts to interfere with that court in the exercise of that jurisdiction. It is of no consequence whatever to this court how wrong it may think the decision of the Court of First Instance to be in this class of election contests. That is something which does not concern it; and when such questions are presented to it its duty is to refuse to decide them.
We do not undertake to say whether the Court of First Instance was correct in its decision or not. That question is immaterial here and unnecessary to a decision of the case before us. The court below having jurisdiction to determine the election contest and having determined it according to its conception of the law and the facts, its judgment is not subject to review by this court.
The petition for a writ is denied, with the costs. So ordered.
Torres, and Araullo, JJ., concur.
Carson, and Trent, JJ., concur in the result.
Johnson, J., did not take part.