CASE DIGEST: Tañada v. COMELEC

G.R. Nos. 207199-200 : OCTOBER 22, 2013

WIGBERTO R. TAÑADA, JR., Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ANGELINA D. TAN, AND ALVIN JOHN S. TANADA,Respondents.

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:


FACTS:

Petitioner Wigberto R. Tañada, Jr., (Wigberto) and respondents Angelina D. Tan (Angelina) and Alvin John S. Tañada (Alvin John) were contenders for the position of Member of the House of Representatives for the 4th District of Quezon Province in the just concluded May 13, 2013 National Elections. Wigberto ran under the banner of the Liberal Party; Alvin John was the official congressional candidate of Lapiang Manggagawa; while Angelina was fielded by the National People Coalition.

On October 10, 2012, Wigberto filed before the COMELEC two separate petitions: first, to cancel Alvin John CoC; and, second, to declare him as a nuisance candidate.

The COMELEC First Division dismissed both petitions for lack of merit.The COMELEC En Banc upheld COMELEC First Division ruling. However, in SPA No. 13-056 (DC), it granted the motion for reconsideration and cancelled Alvin John's CoC for having committed false material representations concerning his residency in accordance with Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) of the Philippines.

On May 15, 2013, Wigberto filed a 2nd Motion for Partial Reconsideration 14 of the COMELEC En Banc ruling in SPA No. 13-057 (DC) on the ground of newly discovered evidence.He alleged that Alvin John candidacy was not bona fide because: (a) Alvin John was merely forced by his father to file his CoC; (b) he had no election paraphernalia posted in official COMELEC posting areas in several barangays of Gumaca, Quezon Province; (c) he did not even vote during the May 13, 2013 National Elections; and (d) his legal representation appeared to have been in collusion with the lawyers of Angelina. Wigberto filed with the COMELEC En Bank an Extremely Urgent Motion to Admit Additional and Newly Discovered Evidence and to Urgently Resolve Motion for Reconsideration and an Urgent Manifestation and Supplemental thereto. These motions, however, remained un-acted upon until the filing of the present petition before the Court on May 27, 2013.Thus, in order to avoid charges of forum-shopping, said motions were withdrawn by Wigberto.

Despite Alvin John CoC due to his material representations therein, his name was not deleted from and thus, remained printed on the ballot, prompting Wigberto to file a motion with the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Quezon Province (PBOC) asking that the votes cast in the name of Alvin John be credited to him instead. The PBOC, however, denied Wigberto motion. Consequently, the PBOC canvassed the votes of all three contenders separately, and thereafter, on May 16, 2013, proclaimed Angelina as the winning candidate for the position of Member of the House of Representatives for the 4th district of Quezon Province.

Wigberto filed with the COMELEC a Petition to Annul the Proclamation of Angelina. Wigberto then filed certiorari case against the COMELEC En Banc Resolution declaring Alvin John not a nuisance candidate.

On July 3, 2013, Wigberto filed a Manifestation informing the Court that he had caused the filing of an Election Protest Ad Cautelam Before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

ISSUE: Whether or not Alvin John was not a nuisance candidate under Section 69 of the OEC and that the votes cast in favor of Alvin John be credited to him?

HELD: HRET has jurisdiction over the issues.

POLITICAL LAW: jurisdiction of House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal


Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides: The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. Each Electoral Tribunal, shall be composed of nine Members, three of whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining six shall be Members of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party-list system represented therein. The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman.

Case law states that the proclamation of a congressional candidate following the election divests the COMELEC of jurisdiction over disputes relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the proclaimed representative in favor of the HRET. The phrase election, returns and qualifications refers to all matters affecting the validity of the contestee title. In particular, the term section refers to the conduct of the polls, including the listing of voters, the holding of the electoral campaign, and the casting and counting of the votes; returns refers to the canvass of the returns and the proclamation of the winners, including questions concerning the composition of the board of canvassers and the authenticity of the election returns; and qualifications refers to matters that could be raised in a quo warranto proceeding against the proclaimed winner, such as his disloyalty or ineligibility or the inadequacy of his CoC.

In the foregoing light, considering that Angelina had already been proclaimed as Member of the House of Representatives for the 4th District of Quezon Province on May 16, 2013, as she has in fact taken her oath and assumed office past noon time of June 30, 2013, the Court is now without jurisdiction to resolve the case at bar. As they stand, the issues concerning the conduct of the canvass and the resulting proclamation of Angelina as herein discussed are matters which fall under the scope of the terms lection and returns as above-stated and hence, properly fall under the HRET sole jurisdiction.

Petition for review on certiorari is DISMISSED.

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