Aradais v. Comelec : 157863 : April 28, 2004 : J. Carpio-Morales : En
Banc : Resolution
[G.R. NO. 157863 : April
HADJA NIDA B. ARADAIS,
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and ABDUSALI ASMADUN, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
Before this Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule
64 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court seeking to nullify and set aside the
March 31, 2003 Resolution of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En Banc in SPA Case No. 01-362, In
Re: Petition for Annulment of Proclamation of Abdul Asmadun as Mayor-Elect of
Lugus, Sulu, with Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction
and/or Temporary Restraining Order, Hadja Nida B. Aradais v. Abdusali Asmadun
and the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Lugus, Sulu.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Petitioner Hadja Nida B. Aradais and respondent Abdusali Asmadun
were mayoralty candidates in the municipality
of Lugus, Sulu during the May
14, 2001 elections.
After the casting of votes on May
14, 2001, the ballot boxes were brought to the headquarters of the
104th Army Brigade in Jolo, Sulu for the centralized counting and
canvassing of votes.
The canvassing was completed in the morning of May
17, 2001. As there was no pending pre-proclamation controversy, the
Municipal Board of Canvassers (BOC) of Lugus, Sulu proclaimed respondent as the
mayor-elect by virtue of a Certificate of Canvass (COC) bearing No. 87018051 signed and thumbmarked by its Chairman Sabdani A. Bakri and Secretary Sitti
BOC Vice-Chairman Wadja
A. Uddohs signature and thumbmark do not appear in the first COC.
Petitioner, also on May
17, 2001, was proclaimed as mayor-elect of Lugus, Sulu by virtue of
a second Certificate of Canvass2 bearing the same serial number as that of the first COC, signed and thumbmarked
by all three members of the BOC.
On May 19, 2001,
respondent took his oath of office and assumed office on July
Petitioner, on the other hand, took his oath of office on June
23, 2001. On even date, petitioners spouse former Mayor Mansur
Aradais went to the headquarters of the 104th Infantry Brigade and
requested for army escorts for the formal assumption of office of petitioner,3 he presenting to Brigade Commander Col. Romeo P. Tolentino photocopies of 1)
petitioners Panunumpa ng Katungkulan dated
June 23, 2001; 2) the second COC; and 3) the Statement of Votes by Precincts
dated May 17, 2001.
Noting that the documents presented by the former mayor were
photocopies, Col. Tolentino directed his deputy to accompany the former to have
said documents authenticated by a notary public.4 cralawred
In the meantime, by letter5 of June 26, 2001 to Col. Tolentino, Helen G. Aguila-Flores, Regional Election
Director of Region IX, Zamboanga City, advised that the COMELEC recognize[d]
only one proclamation, that of respondent, and petitioners proclamation was
without any legal effect.
petitioner to file before the COMELEC a petition for the annulment of
respondents proclamation with prayer for the issuance of writ of preliminary
injunction and/or temporary restraining order.
On July 12, 2001, the COMELEC, by Resolution No. 01-1029, created
an ad hoc Committee composed of Atty. Ferdinand T. Rafanan, Atty. Juanito O.
Icaro and Atty. Jovencio G. Balanguit to look into cases of double
proclamations including the case at bar.
The Ad Hoc Committee thereupon directed6 petitioner, respondent, the three members of the BOC, COMELEC Regional Director
Aguila-Flores, and the Provincial Election Supervisor of Sulu to submit their
respective position papers or memoranda and other pertinent documents, as well
as affidavits of their witnesses.
On August 2, 2001,
respondent submitted a Manifestation7 to the Ad Hoc Committee stating that he was adopting his Opposition8 submitted to the COMELEC in SPC Case No. 362, Hadja Nida Aradais v. Abdulsali Asmadun, as his position paper.
In said Opposition, respondent alleged that the canvassing of votes was
completed in the morning of May 17,
2001 in an orderly and peaceful manner after which he was proclaimed
as mayor-elect; and that the proclamation of petitioner proceeded from illegal
acts of terrorism, intimidation and threats against COC Chairman Bakri and
As for petitioner, she alleged in her Memorandum with
Manifestation9 that while the canvassing had yet to be completed, respondent and his followers
pressured and intimidated the members of the BOC to proclaim him as the winner;
and that BOC President Bakri and Secretary Dammang succumbed to the threats and
proclaimed respondent as mayor-elect, while BOC member Uddoh walked out of the
petitioners manifestation was the affidavit of Uddoh confirming petitioners
The Ad Hoc Committee, finding it necessary to hear the
testimonies of the members of the BOC, held a clarificatory hearing on August
22, 2001 during which only Bakri and Dammang appeared.
By Bakris testimony, the first COC declaring respondent as the
winner was the legitimate one, he (Bakri) having been merely forced to sign the
second COC.10 cralawred
Dammang, on the other hand, testified that she only signed the
first COC proclaiming respondent,11 and added that when they were to sign said COC, BOC member Uddoh left the
proceedings on account of stomach ache and never returned.12 cralawred
In its report, the Ad Hoc Committee made the following recommendations,
1.The affirmation of the proclamation of ABSULSALI
K. ASMADUM, as mayor-elect, and the other officials as Sangguniang
Bayan-elect of the municipality of Lugus, Province of Sulu, as appearing in
C.E.F. No. 25 which the Committee finds to be genuine, valid and lawful;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
2.The nullification of the improvised
C.E.F. No. 25 submitted to the ERSD bearing Hadja Nida Aradais as the winning
mayoralty candidate of Lugus, Sulu which the Committee finds to be spurious and
3.Further investigation of the culpability
and possible prosecution of persons who prepared and submitted to the ERSD,
Comelec the spurious C.E.F. No. 25.13 (Emphasis in the original)
Concurring with the findings and recommendations of the Ad Hoc
Committee, the COMELEC Second Division, by Resolution14 of August 21, 2002,
disposed as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the proclamation of ABDULSALI K.
ASMADUN as duly-elected Mayor of Lugus, Sulu, and ABDURAHMAN SANING, AMBAY
PATULAN, ABDUL IDRIS, MANUEL USMAN, SYEDHASHIM ABUBAKAR, BENSALI JALMAANI, DHOH
WAHAB and JAAFAR ASAMUDDIN, as duly-elected Members of the Sangguniang Bayan of
Lugus, Sulu, as contained in C.E.F. No. 25 with serial no. 870185, is hereby
AFFIRMED as VALID and LAWFUL; while the proclamation of Hadja Nida B. Aradais
together with Muadjad A. Aradais, Mobin A. Aradais, Kaungan H. Hapasain, Boy
Hassan I. Iribani, Cesar S. Absari, Marma A. Abdurajak AND Najir S. Abdulnasser
as contained in the spurious C.E.F. No. 25 purporting to have the same serial
number 8701805, is hereby declared INVALID and WITHOUT LEGAL EFFECT.
The Law Department is directed to conduct an investigation into the
circumstances surrounding the falsification of the aforementioned election
documents, and determine if there is a basis for filing charges against
Commission officials and/or other parties involved.
Her Motion for Reconsideration of the August 21, 2002 Resolution
having been denied by COMELEC En Banc Resolution of March 31, 2003,
petitioner filed the present petition.
Petitioner contends that the COMELEC En Banc gravely
abused its power and discretion when it delegated its constitutional duty to
hear and decide pre-proclamation cases to a mere ad hoc committee.
She argues that the COMELEC should have
ordered a recanvass and retabulation of the votes, instead of limiting itself
to the findings of the Ad Hoc Committee which did not actually resolve the
conflicting claims of the parties.
The petition fails to convince the Court.
The findings and recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee are
merely advisory in nature and do not bind the COMELEC, especially in light of
petitioners failure to present any evidence that the COMELEC merely relied on
said findings and recommendations and did not go over the records of the case
to make its own assessment.
evidence to the contrary then, the presumption of regular performance of an
official duty stands.15 cralawred
It bears emphasis that the COMELEC has broad powers to ascertain
the true results of an election by means available to it.16 In the case at bar, it was well within the COMELECs discretion to avail of the
means it deemed effective, such as requiring the parties to present their side
through position papers and memoranda and conducting a clarificatory hearing
wherein the members of the BOC were required to shed light on the two
Besides, it is a
settled rule that the COMELECs judgment cannot be overturned by this Court
unless it is clearly tainted with grave abuse of discretion.17 cralawred
Since the assailed resolution is supported by substantial
evidence, it cannot be considered whimsical, capricious or arbitrary warranting
this Courts power of review.
for failure of petitioner to show that the Commission on Elections committed
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the
petition is hereby DISMISSED for
lack of merit.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing,
Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr.,
Azcuna, and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Corona, J., on leave.
COMELEC Records, Volume III at 6.
Transcript of Stenographic Notes (TSN),
22, 2001 at 15-32.
at 101-102, 106-107.
COMELEC Records, Volume II.
Rules of Court, Rule 131, Section 3(m).
17 Pangarungan v. Commission on Elections
, 216 SCRA 522, 538-539 (1992).
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