Case Digest: Amora, Jr. vs. COMELEC

G.R. No. 192280, January 25, 2011



Petitioner Amora filed his Certificate of Candidacy for Mayor of Candijay, Bohol. At that time, Amora was the incumbent Mayor of Candijay and had been twice elected to the post in 2007 and in 2007. Olandria, one of the candidates for councilor in the same municipality, filed before the COMELEC a Petition for Disqualification against Amora. Olandria alleged that Amoras COC was not properly sworn contrary to the requirements of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) and the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. Olandria pointed out that, in executing his COC, Amora merely presented his Community Tax Certificate (CTC) to the notary public, Atty. Oriculo Granada (Atty. Granada), instead of presenting competent evidence of his identity. Consequently, Amoras COC had no force and effect and should be considered as not filed.

Amora countered that:

1. The Petition for Disqualification is actually a Petition to Deny Due Course or cancel a certificate of candidacy. Effectively, the petition of Olandria is filed out of time;

2. Olandrias claim does not constitute a proper ground for the cancellation of the COC;

3. The COC is valid and effective because he (Amora) is personally known to the notary public, Atty. Granada, before whom he took his oath in filing the document;

4. Atty. Granada is, in fact, a close acquaintance since they have been members of the League of Muncipal Mayors, Bohol Chapter, for several years; and

5. Ultimately, he (Amora) sufficiently complied with the requirement that the COC be under oath.

The Second Division of the COMELEC granted the petition and disqualified Amora from running for Mayor of Candijay, Bohol.

ISSUE: Whether COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in upholding Olandria's claim that an improperly sworn COC is equivalent to possession of a ground for disqualification.

HELD: The petition is meritorious.

POLITICAL LAW Election Law; Certificate of Candidacy

In this case, it was grave abuse of discretion to uphold Olandrias claim that an improperly sworn COC is equivalent to possession of a ground for disqualification. Not by any stretch of the imagination can we infer this as an additional ground for disqualification from the specific wording of the Omnibus Eleciton Code in Section 68, which reads:

SEC. 40. Disqualifications. The following persons are disqualified from running for any elective local position:

(a) Those sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude or for an offense punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment, within two (2) years after serving sentence;

(b) Those removed from office as a result of an administrative case;

(c) Those convicted by final judgment for violating the oath of allegiance to the Republic;

(d) Those with dual citizenship;

(e) Fugitives from justice in criminal or nonpolitical cases here or abroad;

(f) Permanent residents in a foreign country or those who have acquired the right to reside abroad and continue to avail of the same right after the effectivity of this Code; and

(g) The insane or feeble-minded.

It is quite obvious that the Olandria petition is not based on any of the grounds for disqualification as enumerated in the foregoing statutory provisions. Nowhere therein does it specify that a defective notarization is a ground for the disqualification of a candidate. Yet, the COMELEC would uphold that petition upon the outlandish claim that it is a petition to disqualify a candidate "for lack of qualifications or possessing some grounds for disqualification."

Another red flag for the COMELEC to dismiss Olandrias petition is the fact that Amora claims to personally know the notary public, Atty. Granada, before whom his COC was sworn. In this regard, the dissenting opinion of Commissioner Larrazabal aptly disposes of the core issue. He said that accordind to the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice:

Section 2. Affirmation or Oath. The term "Affirmation" or "Oath" refers to an act in which an individual on a single occasion:

(a) appears in person before the notary public;

(b) is personally known to the notary public or identified by the notary public through competent evidence of identity as defined by these Rules; and

(c) avows under penalty of law to the whole truth of the contents of the instrument or document.

Therefore, competent evidence of identity is not required in cases where the affiant is personally known to the Notary Public, which is the case herein.

In this case, contrary to the declarations of the COMELEC, Amora complied with the requirement of a sworn COC. He readily explained that he and Atty. Granada personally knew each other; they were not just colleagues at the League of Municipal Mayors, Bohol Chapter, but they consider each other as distant relatives. Thus, the alleged defect in the oath was not proven by Olandria since the presentation of a CTC turned out to be sufficient in this instance.


Popular Posts