G.R. No. 192856:March 8, 2011.
Petitioner Gonzales and respondent Lim are candidates for the position of Representative of the 3rd Congressional district of Albay in the 2010 elections. a Petition for Disqualification and Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy (COC) was filed by Stephen Bicharaagainst Gonzalez on the ground that Gonzalez is a Spanish national and that he failed to elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority in accordance with the provisions of Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 625.
Gonzalez denied having willfully made false and misleading statement in his COC regarding his citizenship and pointed out thatBichara had filed the wrong petition under Section 68 of theOmnibus Election Code(OEC) to question his eligibility as a candidate.Gonzalez also argued that the petition which should have been correctly filed under Section 78 of the OEC was filed out of time.The COMELEC, however, granted Bicharas petition.
Subsequently, Gonzalez was proclaimed as the winner of the elections, and filed a motion for reconsideration of the COMELEC decision, which was denied. The COMELEC held that the proclamation of Gonzalez was illegal, and formed a Special Board of Canvassers to declare Lim, the second placer, as the representative of the 3rd district. Lim then asked the House of Representatives to include him in the Roll of Representatives, which House Speaker Belmonte denied, citing that the issue of qualification of Gonzalez was within the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).
Whether or not Bicharas petition was filed on time
Whether or not Gonzales was validly declared as the representative of Albay
Whether or not COMELEC had lost jurisdiction over the citizenship dispute
The petition is meritorious.
POLITICAL LAW: Period within which to file a case for COC cancellation, as distinguished from disqualification; jurisdiction of the COMELEC and HRET over election disqualification cases.
First issueSince the petition sought to cancel the COC filed by Gonzalez and disqualify him as a candidate on the ground of false representation as to his citizenship, the same should have been filed within twenty-five days from the filing of the COC, pursuant to Section 78 of the OEC. (This is the only provision where a person is allowed to petition for a candidates disqualification before the elections.). Gonzales filed his COC onDecember 1, 2009.Clearly, the petition for disqualification and cancellation of COC filed by Lim onMarch 30, 2010was filed out of time.
Second issue: The COMELEC ruled that the motion for reconsideration of the COMELECs resolution filed by Gonzalez waspro formaand hence did not suspend the execution of the COMELEC resolution disqualifying him as a candidate, therefore making the resolution disqualifying him final and executory, which had the effect of making Gonzalez subsequent proclamation invalid and illegal. However, mere reiteration of issues already passed upon by the court does not automatically make a motion for reconsiderationpro forma. Indeed, in the cases where a motion for reconsideration was held to bepro forma,the motion was so held because (1) it was a second motion for reconsideration, or (2) it did not comply with the rule that the motion must specify the findings and conclusions alleged to be contrary to law or not supported by the evidence, or (3) it failed to substantiate the alleged errors, or (4) it merely alleged that the decision in question was contrary to law, or (5) the adverse party was not given notice thereof. In the case at bar, the motion for reconsiderationfiled by Gonzalez failed to show that it suffers from the foregoing defects, since it substantiated the arguments contained therein. Not being pro forma, the MR should have suspended the execution of the COMELEC resolution, and validated the proclamation of Gonzalez.
Third issue: Under Article VI, Section 17 of the1987 Constitution, the HRET is thesole judgeof all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the House of Representatives.Here, subsequent events showed that Gonzalez had not only been duly proclaimed, he had also taken his oath of office and assumed office as Member of the House of Representatives. The HRET therefore has jurisdiction.

Petition is GRANTED, and the COMELEC decision is SET ASIDE.

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