G.R. No. 230354. Sep 26, 2017

EN BANC  [ G.R. No. 230354, September 26, 2017 ]  JANET PROTACIO-CORTES, PETITIONER, V. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, RESPONDENT. 

The petitioner hereby seeks the reconsideration of the resolution promulgated on June 20, 2017 dismissing her petition for certiorari because of her failure to state the material dates required by Section 3, Rule 64, in relation to Section 3, Rule 46, both of the Rules of Court; and because of her failure to demonstrate grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

The petitioner urges the liberal application of the rules of procedure, and clarifies that her petition contained the required material dates although the same were incorporated under the "Statement of Facts" of the petition.[1] Also, she points out that the Court's conclusion that the petition lacked substantial allegations on the grave abuse of discretion imputed to the COMELEC ignored the fact that the COMELEC had really gravely abused its discretion in charging her with violating Section 13 of Republic Act No. 9005, in relation to Section 7(f) of COMELEC Resolution No. 9615, despite the lack of satisfactory evidence proving her having personally posted the campaign materials outside the designated posting area.[2]

The petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration lacks merit.

The petitioner wrongly insists that she had complied with the rule requiring the statement of the material dates notwithstanding her petition having manifested her receiving of the copy of the February 22, 2017 resolution of the COMELEC denying her motion for reconsideration; and her having filed the corresponding motion for extension on March 24, 2017 to file the petition for certiorari in this Court in light of Section 3, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court giving her 30 days from notice of the COMELEC resolution, or until March 24, 2017, within which to file the petition.[3]

Section 3, Rule. 64 of the Rules of Court reads in full: :
Section 3. Time to file petition. - The petition shall be filed within thirty (30) days from notice of the judgment or final order or resolution sought to be reviewed. The filing of a motion for new trial or reconsideration of said judgment or final order or resolution, if allowed under the procedural rules of the Commission concerned, shall interrupt the period herein fixed. If the motion is denied, the aggrieved party may file the petition within the remaining period, but which shall not be less than five (5) days in any event, reckoned from notice of denial.(Emphasis supplied)
In Pates v. Commission on Elections,[4] the Court explained that the 30-day reglementary period under the aforequoted rule within which to file the petition for certiorari under Rule 64 should be reckoned from notice of the decision or resolution, with the intervening period used for the resolution of a motion for reconsideration to be deducted from the 30-day period. As such, the statement of material dates required under Section 4 of Rule 64 should specify the dates when the petitioner received the assailed decision or ruling of the COMELEC, as well as when the order or resolution denying the motion for reconsideration was received.

It will not suffice, as the petitioner insists, to simply manifest the date of her receipt of the resolution denying her motion for reconsideration promulgated on January 27, 2017 by the COMELEC. She should likewise state when she had received the resolution promulgated on December 3, 2015 by the COMELEC in order to enable the Court to determine the timeliness of her petition for certiorari. To reiterate, Section 4 of Rule 64 provides that the filing of a motion for new trial or reconsideration interrupts the running of the period to bring the petition under Rule 64; hence, the aggrieved party may still file the petition within the remaining period, which should not be less than five days in any event, reckoned from the notice of denial.[5]

On the substantive merits of the Motion for Reconsideration, we need not ; dwell thereon at length for we consider it to be sufficient to reiterate our holding . that the COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion, to wit:
Furthermore, the Court points out that the petition for certiorari does not sufficiently set forth how the respondent gravely abused its discretion when it issued the challenged resolutions finding probable cause against her for the violation of Section 16 of Republic Act No. 9006, in relation to Section 7(f) of COMELEC Resolution No. 961 for her failure to remove all her campaign materials posted outside of the designated posting area; and in denying her motion for reconsideration. On the contrary, the assailed resolutions were issued pursuant to and in accordance with the respondent's constitutional authority to investigate and prosecute all violations of Philippine election laws. The respondent possesses the full discretion to determine whether or not an election offense was committed, and whether or not the person thereby charged committed the offense. The Court will not interfere with the respondent's finding of probable cause unless there was a strong and clear showing that it thereby gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)
WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the Motion for Reconsideration for its lack of merit; and DECLARES that NO FURTHER PLEADINGS shall be entertained.

Let entry of judgment ISSUE immediately. Carpio, J., on official time. Jardeleza, J., on official leave,

[1] Rollo, p. 83.

[2] Id. at 84.

[3] Id.at 81-83.

[4] G.R.No. 184915, June 30, 2009, 591 SCRA481

[5] Fortune Life Insurance Company, Inc. v. Commission on Audit (COA) Proper, G.R. No. 213525, January 27, 2015, 748 SCRA 286, 293.

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