Case Digest: ABC v, COMELEC & Mauricio, Jr.

G.R. No. 193256 : March 22, 2011

ABC (ALLIANCE FOR BARANGAY CONCERNS) PARTY LIST, represented herein by its Chairman, JAMES MARTY LIM, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and MELANIO MAURICIO, JR.,Respondents.

PERALTA, J.:


FACTS:

Private respondent Melanio Mauricio, Jr. filed a petition with the COMELEC for the cancellation of registration and accreditation of petitioner ABC Party-List on the ground that petitioner is a front for a religious organization

Private respondent also alleged that ABC made an untruthful statement in its petition for accreditation, as it stated that it does not possess any of the disqualifications provided by the Party-List System Act when it is disqualified for being, in reality, a religious organization. In addition, he alleged that ABC is receiving support from third parties abroad. Private respondent prayed that the accreditation of ABC be cancelled, and that it be declared disqualified as a party-list group for violating R.A. No. 7941 or the Party- List Act.

COMELEC, Second Division issued a Resolution dismissing the petition based on procedural and substantial grounds.

The dismissal on procedural grounds was grounded on the lack of proper verification of the petition. COMELEC stated that the Verification with Certification Re: Forum Shopping and Special Power of Attorney was not duly notarized in accordance with the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice, as amended. The COMELEC, Second Division also dismissed the petition based on substantial grounds, as it found that ABC is not a religious sect, and is, therefore, not disqualified from registration.

Private respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Annul Proclamation and Suspend its Effects. Petitioner filed an opposition, urging the COMELEC to dismiss the petition since the Sec. Gen. of the House had already recognized ABC as a proclaimed party- list. Private respondent filed a Comment/Opposition to petitioner's motion to dismiss, arguing that ABC was not validly proclaimed; hence, the COMELEC still has jurisdiction over the case.

COMELEC en banc issued a Resolution partially granting private respondents Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Annul Proclamation and Suspend Its Effects dated June 22, 2010. Contrary to the findings of the Second Division, the COMELEC en banc found that the petitions verification page substantially complied with the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. More importantly, the COMELEC en banc stated that the records of the case showed that the Resolution of the Second Division was issued without any hearing, which deprived Mauricio of the opportunity to submit evidence in support of his petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not had jurisdiction to entertain the petition

HELD: Yes.

Political Law- jurisdiction of the COMELEC over petitions for cancellation of registration of any political party, organization or coalition is derived from Section 2 (5), Article IX-C of the Constitution

Based on the provision above, the Constitution grants the COMELEC the authority to register political parties, organizations or coalitions, and the authority to cancel the registration of the same on legal grounds. The said authority of the COMELEC is reflected in Section 6 of R.A. No. 7941.

In the case of the party-list nominees/representatives, it is the HRET that has jurisdiction over contests relating to their qualifications. Although it is the party-list organization that is voted for in the elections, it is not the organization that sits as and becomes a member of the House of Representatives, but it is the party-list nominee/representative who sits as a member of the House of Representatives.

Therefore, the jurisdiction of the HRET over contests relating to the qualifications of a party-list nominee or representative is derived from Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution, while the jurisdiction of the COMELEC over petitions for cancellation of registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition is derived from Section 2 (5), Article IX-C of the Constitution.

In sum, the COMELEC en banc had jurisdiction over the petition for cancellation of the registration and accreditation of petitioner ABC Party-List for alleged violation of Section 6 (1) of R.A. No. 7941.

Petition Denied

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