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Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated Labor Standards & Social Legislation Volume I of a 3-Volume Series 2019 Edition (3rd Revised Edition)
 

 
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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
March-1997 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. 51765 March 3, 1997 - REPUBLIC PLANTERS BANK v. ENRIQUE A. AGANA, SR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 93397 March 3, 1997 - TRADERS ROYAL BANK v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 99425 March 3, 1997 - ANTONIO RAMOS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 100487 & 100607 March 3, 1997 - ARTURO JULIANO v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 106581 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RENATO FLORES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110419 March 3, 1997 - UERM-MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114383 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOEL COREA

  • G.R. No. 116437 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. PABLITO ANDAN

  • G.R. No. 117161 March 3, 1997 - RAMON INGLES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120704 March 3, 1997 - BARTOLOME C. CARALE, ET AL. v. PAMPIO A. ABARINTOS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123321 March 3, 1997 - ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123361 March 3, 1997 - TEOFILO CACHO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125198 March 3, 1997 - MSCI-NACUSIP v. NWPC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 84449 March 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BENEDICTO JAVIER, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 102876 March 4, 1997 - BATAAN SHIPYARD AND ENG’G CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118607 March 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JULITO FRANCO

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-96-1335 March 5, 1997 - INOCENCIO BASCO v. LEO H. RAPATALO

  • G.R. No. 126576 March 5, 1997 - RICARDO M. ANGOBUNG v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 83598 March 7, 1997 - LEONCIA BALOGBOG, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 94994-95 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LILIBETH CACO

  • G.R. No. 106212 March 7, 1997 - PROGRESS HOMES, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108395 March 7, 1997 - HEIRS OF TEODORO GUARING, JR. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 108604-10 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FEDERICO A. BURCE

  • G.R. No. 113420 March 7, 1997 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113905 March 7, 1997 - LEOPOLDO ALICBUSAN v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116211 March 7, 1997 - MEYNARDO POLICARPIO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116512 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. WILLIAM O. CASIDO, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-96-1353 March 11, 1997 - DANILO B. PARADA v. LORENZO B. VENERACION

  • G.R. No. 127066 March 11, 1997 - REYNALDO O. MALONZO v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117169 March 12, 1997 - PHILTREAD WORKERS UNION, ET AL. v. NIEVES R. CONFESOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121917 March 12, 1997 - ROBIN CARIÑO PADILLA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 99301 & 99343 March 13, 1997 - VICTOR KIERULF, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 100333 March 13, 1997 - HILARIO MAGCALAS, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 103611 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CESAR HERBIETO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 107131 March 13, 1997 - NFD INT’L. MANNING AGENTS, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108454 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TEDDY QUINAO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 109779 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NESTOR MAÑOZCA

  • G.R. No. 110067 March 13, 1997 - LINDA T. ALMENDRAS v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111478 March 13, 1997 - GEORGE F. SALONGA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111567 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TEODORICO AVILLANO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116123 March 13, 1997 - SERGIO NAGUIAT, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116228 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EPIFANIO GAYON, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116352 March 13, 1997 - J. & D.O. AGUILAR CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 116596-98 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LORENZO TOPAGUEN

  • G.R. No. 117266 March 13, 1997 - CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST VENTURA O. DUCAT, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 117955-58 March 13, 1997 - HERMINIGILDO TOMARONG, ET AL. v. ANTONIO C. LUBGUBAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119058 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ERLINDA VILLARAN

  • G.R. No. 120853 March 13, 1997 - RUDY ALMEDA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122427 March 13, 1997 - BENJAMIN LAZA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123881 March 13, 1997 - VIVA PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 91694 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SABAS CALVO, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 97626 March 14, 1997 - PHIL. BANK OF COMMERCE, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114387 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ALEJANDRO DEVILLERES

  • G.R. No. 120592 March 14, 1997 - TRADERS ROYAL BANK EMPLOYEES UNION v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121765 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RANDOLF B. MONTEALTO

  • G.R. No. 122646 March 14, 1997 - ADELIA C. MENDOZA v. ANGELITO C. TEH, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 112229 March 18, 1997 - RAYMOND PE LIM v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 114924-27 March 18, 1997 - DANTE NACURAY, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119321 March 18, 1997 - CATALINO F. BAÑEZ, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Bar Matter No. 712 March 19, 1997 - PETITION OF AL ARGOSINO TO TAKE THE LAWYER’S OATH

  • G.R. Nos. 100382-100385 March 19, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MARIO TABACO

  • G.R. No. 111157 March 19, 1997 - ITOGON-SUYOC MINES, INC. v. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117029 March 19, 1997 - PELTAN DEVELOPMENT, INC., ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121112 March 19, 1997 - FELICIDAD MIRANO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127325 March 19, 1997 - MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ET AL. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-95-1159 March 20, 1997 - COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. WILLIAM C. SEVILLO

  • G.R. No. 88684 March 20, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CESAR LACBANES

  • G.R. No. 95551 March 20, 1997 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. v. CONCEPCION S. ALARCON VERGARA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 107019 March 20, 1997 - FRANKLIN M. DRILON, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116404 March 20, 1997 - FRANCISCO LUNA, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117218 March 20, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GERRY NALANGAN

  • G.R. No. 119599 March 20, 1997 - MALAYAN INSURANCE CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127456 March 20, 1997 - JESUS A. JARIOL, ET AL. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-96-1091 March 21, 1997 - WILFREDO NAVARRO v. DEOGRACIAS K. DEL ROSARIO

  • G.R. No. 107699 March 21, 1997 - ALEX JACOBO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116692 March 21, 1997 - SAMAR II ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117097 March 21, 1997 - SAMAHAN NG OPTOMETRISTS SA PILIPINAS, ET AL. v. ACEBEDO INTL. CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118436 March 21, 1997 - HEIRS OF MANUEL A. ROXAS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118836 March 21, 1997 - FEDERICO DORDAS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122728 March 21, 1997 - CASIANO A. ANGCHANGCO, JR. v. OMBUDSMAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123037 March 21, 1997 - TEODORO Q. PEÑA v. HRET, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-96-1184 March 24, 1997 - NBI, ET AL. v. RODOLFO TULIAO

  • G.R. No. 106588 March 24, 1997 - RAUL H. SESBREÑO v. CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-89-318 March 25, 1997 - LUCIANA Vda. DE ARAGO v. PATERNO T. ALVAREZ

  • G.R. No. 96229 March 25, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GLORIOSA S. NAVARRO

  • G.R. No. 124137 March 25, 1997 - ROY M. LOYOLA v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126298 March 25, 1997 - PATRIA C. GUTIERREZ v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 99032 March 26, 1997 - RICARDO A. LLAMADO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 101817 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE IMMACULATA

  • G.R. No. 107801 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROSARIA V. IGNACIO

  • G.R. No. 110613 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EDGAR VILLANUEVA

  • G.R. No. 113470 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DANILO CORBES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 115951 March 26, 1997 - ZEBRA SECURITY AGENCY, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117378 March 26, 1997 - GIL CAPILI, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117408 March 26, 1997 - NATIONAL INVESTMENT AND DEV. CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117604 March 26, 1997 - CHINA BANKING CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118332 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. IRENEO PEREZ

  • G.R. No. 119528 March 26, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121031 March 26, 1997 - ROSAURO I. TORRES v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122013 March 26, 1997 - JOSE C. RAMIREZ v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124333 March 26, 1997 - NATIVIDAD P. ARAGON v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119877 March 31, 1997 - BIENVENIDO ONGKINGCO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  •  




     
     

    G.R. No. 124137   March 25, 1997 - ROY M. LOYOLA v. COMELEC, ET AL.

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    EN BANC

    [G.R. No. 124137. March 25, 1997.]

    ROY M. LOYOLA, Petitioner, v. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ROLANDO ROSAS and the REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 89, IMUS, CAVITE, Respondents.

    Franco L. Loyola for Petitioner.

    Romulo B. Macalintal for Private Respondent.


    SYLLABUS


    1. REMEDIAL LAW; LEGAL FEES; COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS RULES OF PROCEDURE; FILING FEE REQUIREMENT IN ELECTION CASES; THE APPLICATION BY THE CLERK OF SECTION 5 RULE 141 OF THE RULES OF COURT, THOUGH ERRONEOUS, SUBSTANTIALLY VESTED THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT WITH JURISDICTION OVER THE ELECTION PROTESTS; CASE AT BAR. — The key issue is whether the RTC acquired jurisdiction over private respondent’s election protest despite the payment, upon the filing thereof, of only a part of the filing fee fixed in Section 9 of Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure which fixes the filing fee at P300. Yet, the Clerk of Court assessed and collected only the sum of P32. Evidently, the Clerk of Court had in mind the former Section 5(a)(11), Rule 141 of the Rules of Court on filing fees. The error of the Clerk of Court could be due to ignorance of Section 9 of Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure and this Court’s 4 September 1990 resolution amending Rule 141 of the Rules of Court on legal fees. Or it could be due to sheer confusion as to which rule would apply in assessing the filing fee considering that the election protest falls within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, in which case the Rules of Court may govern, and that the COMELEC Rules of Procedure was primarily intended to govern election cases before the COMELEC. This ignorance or confusion, however, was not fatal to private respondent’s cause. The application by the Clerk of Court of Section 5 of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court substantially vested the RTC with jurisdiction over the election protest. Although this Court had given its imprimatur to said Section 9 of Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the failure of the Clerk of Court to take said section into account is a technicality which cannot be allowed to defeat the viability of the election protest.

    2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLIED WITH IN CASE AT BAR. — Indisputably, there was only incomplete payment of the filing fee under Section 9 of Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, which was not at all attributable to private respondent, who forthwith paid the deficiency upon a subsequent order by the RTC. In short, there was substantial compliance with the filing fee requirement in election cases, for as we held in Pahilan v. Tabalba: The rules which apply to ordinary civil actions may not necessarily serve the purpose of election cases, especially if we consider the fact that election laws are to be accorded utmost liberality in their interpretation and application, bearing in mind always that the will of the people must be upheld. Ordinary civil actions would generally involve private interests while all election cases are, at all times, invested with public interest which cannot be defeated by mere procedural or technical infirmities. In the earlier case of Juliano v. Court of Appeals, we ruled: Well settled is the doctrine that election contests involve public interest, and technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate in the choice of their elective officials. And also settled is the rule that laws governing election contests must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by mere technical objections. In an election case the court has an imperative duty to ascertain by all means within its command who is the real candidate elected by the electorate.

    3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; THE RULING IN PAHILAN, GATCHALIAN AND THE INSTANT CASE NOW BAR ANY CLAIM OF GOOD FAITH, EXCUSABLE NEGLIGENCE OR MISTAKE IN ANY FAILURE TO PAY THE FULL AMOUNT OF FILING FEES IN ELECTION CASES. — We have no doubt that petitioner has misread or miscomprehended Gatchalian v. Court of Appeals. As emphasized by the public and private respondents, that case involved absence of payment of the filing fee. Any suggestion then that Gatchalian abandoned Pahilan is absolutely baseless. Both can stand together. This decision, however, must not provide relief to parties in future cases involving inadequate payment of filing fees in election protests. Pahilan, Gatchalian and this case would no longer provide any excuse for such shortcoming. Elsewise stated, these cases now bar any claim of good faith, excusable negligence or mistake in any failure to pay the full amount of filing fees in election cases which may be filed after the promulgation of this decision.


    D E C I S I O N


    DAVIDE, JR., J.:


    Is full payment of the required filing fee of P300 a jurisdictional requirement in election protests? Stated otherwise, does incomplete payment of filing fee suffice, provided the parties concerned pay the deficiency within the period fixed by the court?

    These are the questions that confront us in this special civil action for certiorari to set aside the 21 March 1996 Resolution 1 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in SPR No. 4-96 entitled Roy M. Loyola v. Rolando Rosas and Hon. Eduardo Israel Tanguangco.

    The factual and procedural antecedents are related in the challenged Resolution as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Gleaned from the records, it appears that on May 9, 1995, petitioner Roy M. Loyola was proclaimed by the Municipal Board of Canvassers as the duly elected Mayor of the municipality of Carmona, Cavite.

    On May 19, 1995, an election protest was filed by herein private respondent Rolando Rosas before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 89 of Bacoor, Cavite, presided by Judge Eduardo Israel Tanguangco. The protest was docketed as EPC No. 95-1.

    On 4 January 1996, petitioner Loyola (then protestee) filed a Motion to Dismiss Protest on the ground that protestant (now private respondent) failed to pay the filing fee of P300.00 at the time of the filing of the protest. He contended that the failure of protestant to pay the correct amount of filing fee did not vest jurisdiction on the court to take cognizance over the protest. At this juncture, he cited the case of Gatchalian v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., G.R. No. 107979, June 19, 1995, to the effect that it is the payment of the filing fee that vests jurisdiction upon the court over the election protest.

    In his opposition, private respondent posited the argument that the factual circumstances obtaining in the case of Gatchalian do not fall squarely with the present case as the latter involves non-payment of filing fee while the present case contemplates a situation where there was only an incomplete payment of filing fee.

    In its order of January 17, 1996, the trial court resolved two (2) motions, namely: (1) protestee’s "Motion to Dismiss Protest," and (2) protestant’s "Motion for Additional Revision Days and/or Time and to Issue Appropriate Guidelines to Expedite the Revision Process." Accordingly, the court denied the Motion to Dismiss the protest for lack of merit holding that there was only an incomplete payment of the correct filing fee and that protestant, pursuant to the court’s order, paid the correct amount on October 16, 1995. With respect to the private respondent’s motion, the court said: ". . .’ the parties are hereby adjured to direct their respective revisors to exert more efforts to finish the revision proceedings as soon as possible."cralaw virtua1aw library

    By virtue of the trial court’s order, petitioner resorted to the instant Petition for Certiorari alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of herein public respondent Judge in denying his "Motion to Dismiss Protest."cralaw virtua1aw library

    On January 25, 1996, the Commission En Banc issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the respondent Judge directing him to cease and desist from further conducting revision of ballots and hearing Election Case No. 95-1 entitled Rosas v. Loyola until further orders from the Commission.

    On February 5, 1996, private respondent filed his answer alleging, among others, that the case is not a case of non-payment of filing fee but a clear case of incomplete payment of filing fee and not a ground for dismissing the election protest. He advanced the argument that both petitioner and private respondent have complied with the order of the respondent Judge to pay the balance of the correct amount of filing fee for petitioner’s counter-protest and for private respondent’s election protest.

    The COMELEC held that the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the protest pursuant to this Court’s ruling in Pahilan v. Tabalba, 2 where there was merely incomplete payment of the filing fee. It disagreed with petitioner’s view that the applicable doctrine was that laid down in Gatchalian v. Court of Appeals, 3 and ratiocinated as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    It cannot be gainsaid that private respondent Rolando Rosas paid the amount of P268.00 on October 16, 1995 representing the balance of the correct amount of filing fee. Consequently, there is no reason why the protest, filed within the ten-day period provided by the law, should not be given due course by the trial court. Besides, private respondent should not be faulted in not paying the correct amount of P300.00 as filing fee as he convincingly made it clear that it was the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court who asked him to pay the amount of P32.00 as filing fee for the protest. Moreover, it is highly preposterous to conclude that private respondent, who has paid other fees other than the questioned filing fee the amount of which is even higher than the correct filing fee, could deliberately and intentionally pay only an amount of P32.00 as filing fee.

    Aggrieved thereby, petitioner filed the instant special action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court contending that respondent COMELEC "gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in not sustaining [his] contention and submission that said electoral protest deserves outright dismissal on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court to hear and decide the same." At bottom, he insists that the rule laid down in Pahilan v. Tabalba has been abandoned in Gatchalian v. Court of Appeals. Pursuant to Gatchalian, it is the payment of the filing fee that vests jurisdiction on the court over election protest cases in view of Section 9, Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, which provides as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    SEC. 9. Filing fee. — No protest, counter-protest, or protest-in-intervention shall be given due course without the payment of the filing fee in the amount of three hundred pesos (P300.00) for each interest.

    On the other hand, private respondent claims that it was the Clerk of Court of the RTC who assessed a filing fee of P32, instead of P300, and that petitioner himself likewise paid P32 as filing fee for his counter-protest. Both complied with the order of the RTC requiring them to pay P268 each for the "balance of the correct amount of filing fee." Private respondent further asserts that Gatchalian is not applicable, as it involved "non-payment of filing fee," while here, there was only "incomplete payment" of the correct filing fee; hence Pahilan applies.

    On their part, the public respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General, point out that petitioner himself paid only P32 as filing fee for his counter-protest, and unconditionally paid the deficiency of P268 after he was also ordered by the RTC to do so, thus, the filing of his petition for certiorari with the COMELEC only on 23 January 1996, or three months after the issuance of the order, was a mere afterthought. They likewise contend that petitioner’s reliance on Gatchalian is misplaced because in that case "there was absolutely no payment at all of the filing fee;" and that his conclusion that Gatchalian superseded Pahilan is incorrect since the latter involved an "incomplete payment of the filing fee" and was even cited by the former.

    After due deliberation, we find nothing to convince us that public respondent COMELEC committed any abuse of discretion, much less grave, in its challenged resolution. Affirmance of its ruling that public respondent RTC committed no grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioner’s Motion to Dismiss Protest is inevitable.

    Petitioner never disputed the allegations of private respondent that it was the Clerk of Court of the RTC who assessed the amount of P32 as filing fee at the time of the filing of the election protest; that the same amount was assessed for petitioner’s counter-protest; and that both complied with the order directing each of them to pay the deficiency of P268. Petitioner’s good faith in filing with the COMELEC a petition for certiorari to challenge the denial of his Motion to Dismiss Protest is obviously suspect. That he resorted to such remedy confirmed a scheme to unduly delay the election protest. This circumstance, however, is not decisive in resolving the merits of the case. We must, nevertheless, reiterate the maxim that he who comes to court must come with clean hands.

    The key issue is whether the RTC acquired jurisdiction over private respondent’s election protest despite the payment, upon the filing thereof, of only a part of the filing fee fixed in Section 9 of Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure which fixes the filing fee at P300. Yet, the Clerk of Court assessed and collected only the sum of P32. Evidently, the Clerk of Court had in mind the former Section 5(a)(11), 4 Rule 141 of the Rules of Court on filing fees. The error of the Clerk of Court could be due to ignorance of Section 9 of Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure and this Court’s 4 September 1990 resolution amending Rule 141 of the Rules of Court on legal fees. Or it could be due to sheer confusion as to which rule would apply in assessing the filing fee considering that the election protest falls within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, 5 in which case the Rules of Court may govern, and that the COMELEC Rules of Procedure was primarily intended to govern election cases before the COMELEC. 6 This ignorance or confusion, however, was not fatal to private respondent’s cause. The application by the Clerk of Court of Section 5 of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court substantially vested the RTC with jurisdiction over the election protest. Although this Court had given its imprimatur to said Section 9 of Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, 7 the failure of the Clerk of Court to take said section into account is a technicality which cannot be allowed to defeat the viability of the election protest.cralawnad

    Indisputably, there was only incomplete payment of the filing fee under Section 9 of Rule 35 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, which was not at all attributable to private respondent, who forthwith paid the deficiency upon a subsequent order by the RTC. In short, there was substantial compliance with the filing fee requirement in election cases, for as we held in Pahilan v. Tabalba:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    The rules which apply to ordinary civil actions may not necessarily serve the purpose of election cases, especially if we consider the fact that election laws are to be accorded utmost liberality in their interpretation and application, bearing in mind always that the will of the people must be upheld. Ordinary civil actions would generally involve private interests while all election cases are, at all times, invested with public interest which cannot be defeated by mere procedural or technical infirmities.

    In the earlier case of Juliano v. Court of Appeals, 8 we ruled:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Well settled is the doctrine that election contests involve public interest, and technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate in the choice of their elective officials. And also settled is the rule that laws governing election contests must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by mere technical objections. 9 In an election case the court has an imperative duty to ascertain by all means within its command who is the real candidate elected by the electorate. 10

    We have no doubt that petitioner has misread or miscomprehended Gatchalian v. Court of Appeals. As emphasized by the public and private respondents, that case involved absence of payment of the filing fee. Any suggestion then that Gatchalian abandoned Pahilan is absolutely baseless. Both can stand together.

    This decision, however, must not provide relief to parties in future cases involving inadequate payment of filing fees in election protests. Pahilan, Gatchalian and this case would no longer provide any excuse for such shortcoming. Elsewise stated, these cases now bar any claim of good faith, excusable negligence or mistake in any failure to pay the full amount of filing fees in election cases which may be filed after the promulgation of this decision.

    IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is DISMISSED for want of merit. The temporary restraining order issued on 25 January 1996 is LIFTED and the Regional Trial Court, Branch 89, Bacoor, Cavite, is DIRECTED to resolve Election Protest Case No. 95-1 (Rolando C. Rosas v. Roy Loyola) with all reasonable dispatch.

    Costs against petitioner.

    SO ORDERED.

    Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., Panganiban and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Annex "A" of Petition, Rollo, 20-25.

    2. 230 SCRA 205 [1994].

    3. 245 SCRA 208 [1995].

    4. Now Section 7(b)(3), which increased the filing fee for actions not involving property from P32 to P400; per Resolution of this Court dated 4 September 1990.

    5. Section 2(2), Article IX-C of the Constitution.

    6. Section 3, Article IX-C provides as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    SEC. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc.

    7. See Gatchalian v. Court of Appeals, supra note 3. It may also be pointed out that under Section 5(5) of Article VIII (Judicial Department) of the Constitution," (r)ules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.

    8. 20 SCRA 808, 818-819 (1967). See also Benito v. COMELEC, 235 SCRA 436 (1994); Bince v. COMELEC, 242 SCRA 273 (1995).

    9. Citing Gardiner v. Romulo, 26 Phil. 521; Galang v. Miranda, 35 Phil. 269; Jalandoni v. Sarcom, G.R. No. L-6496, January 27, 1962; Macasunding v. Macalañgan, G.R. No. L-22779, March 31, 1965; Cauton v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. L-25467, April 27, 1967.

    10. Citing Ibasco v. Ilao, G.R. No. L-17512, December 29, 1960.

    G.R. No. 124137   March 25, 1997 - ROY M. LOYOLA v. COMELEC, ET AL.




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