Estrella v. COMELEC : 160465 : May 27, 2004 : J. Carpio-Morales : En
Banc : Resolution
[G.R. NO. 160465 : May 27, 2004]
ROMEO M. ESTRELLA,
Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, HON. COMMISSIONER RALPH C. LANTION
and ROLANDO F. SALVADOR, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
From this Courts Resolution of April 28, 2004, private
respondent Rolando F. Salvador seeks a reconsideration.
In his Petition for Certiorari filed before this Court,
petitioner Romeo M. Estrella sought the nullification of the November 5, 2003 Status
Quo Ante Order1 issued by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En Banc in EAC No.
A-10-2002, Romeo M. Estrella v. Rolando F. Salvador, directing the
parties to maintain the status quo ante order,
which is the condition prevailing before the issuance by the Regional Trial
Court of Malolos of a writ of execution for the enforcement of said courts
decision declaring petitioner as the duly elected mayor of Baliwag, Bulacan.
In the issuance of the
questioned COMELEC En Banc Status Quo Ante Order,five (5) of the
then incumbent seven (7) members of the COMELEC participated:
Commissioners Benjamin Abalos, Sr., Luzviminda Tangcangco, Rufino S.B. Javier,
Ressureccion Z. Borra andRalph
Commissioners Abalos, Tangcangco, Javier and Lantion voted for
the issuance of said order, while Commissioner Borra dissented.
Commissioner Lantion previously inhibited in SPR No. 21-2002, a case pending before the COMELEC Second Division
involving the same parties, thus necessitating the issuance of an order
designating Commissioner Borra as his substitute.The substitution order was subsequently adopted in EAC No. A-10-2002.
Parenthetically, petitioner had previously
filed a Motion for Inhibition of Commissioner Lantion before the Second
Division in SPR No. 21-2002which was denied, albeit on Motion
for Reconsideration the Second Division, in its Resolution of May 7, 2002,
noted that Com[missioner] Lantion indicated for the record that he is no
longer taking part in the proceedings in this case.
In the COMELEC En Banc Status Quo Ante Order, Commissioner
Lantion stated in his handwriting that his previous voluntary inhibition is
only in the SPR cases and not in the EAC and that as further agreed in the
Second Division, [he] will not participate in the Division deliberations but
will vote when the case is elevated [to the] en banc.
In this Courts Resolution2 of April 28, 2004 now the subject of private respondents Motion for
Reconsideration, it was held that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Commissioner Lantions voluntary piecemeal inhibition cannot be
Nowhere in the COMELEC
Rules does it allow a Commissioner to voluntarily inhibit with
To allow him to
participate in the En Banc proceedings when he previously inhibited
himself in the Division is, absent any satisfactory justification, not only
judicially unethical but legally improper and absurd.
Since Commissioner Lantion could not participate and vote in the
issuance of the questioned order, thus leaving three (3) members concurring
therewith, the necessary votes of four (4) or majority of the members of the
COMELEC was not attained.
thus failed to comply with the number of votes necessary for the pronouncement
of a decision or order, as required under Rule 3, Section 5(a) of the COMELEC
Rules of Procedure which
Section 5. Quorum; Votes Required. (a) When sitting en banc,
four (4) Members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of
The concurrence of a majority of the
Members of the Commission shall be necessary for the pronouncement of a
decision, resolution, order or ruling.
WHEREFORE, the instant
petition is GRANTED. The Status
Quo Ante Order dated November 5, 2003 issued by the COMELEC En Banc
is hereby NULLIFIED.
This Resolution isIMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY.
(Emphasis and underscoring
In seeking a
reconsideration of the above-quoted Resolution, private respondent cites Cua v. Commission on Elections3 wherein this Court ruled:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
After considering the issues and the arguments raised by the
parties, the Court holds that the 2-1 decision rendered by the First Division
was a valid decision under Article IX-A, section 7 of the Constitution.
the three members who voted to affirm the First Division constituted a majority
of the five members who deliberated and voted thereon en banc and their
decision is also valid under the aforecited constitutional provision. x x x (Italics in the original;
Private respondent argues that [f]ollowing the doctrine laid out
in Cua, three (3) votes would have
been sufficient to constitute a majority to carry the decision of the COMELEC En
Banc as provided by the Constitution and the appropriate rules.4 cralawred
Section 5(a) of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure was lifted from Section
7, Article IX-A of the Constitution which provides:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SECTION 7. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its members any case or matter
brought before it within sixty days from the date of its submission for
decision or resolution. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring
The provision of the Constitution is clear that it should be the
majority vote of all its members and not only those who participated and
took part in the deliberations.
the rules of statutory construction, it is to be assumed that the words in
which constitutional provisions are couched express the objective sought to be
attained.5 Since the above-quoted constitutional provision states all of its members,
without any qualification, it should be interpreted as such.
In the case at bar, following the clear provision of the
Constitution, counting out Commissioner Lantions vote from the questioned
COMELEC En Banc resolution would leave just three (3) votes out of all
seven (7) members of the COMELEC.
Even former Constitutional Commissioner Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ,
questions the Cua ruling in light of
Section 7, which says majority of all the Members.He thus concludes that [t]hree is not the majority of seven.6 cralawred
Had the framers intended that it should be the majority of the
members who participated or deliberated, it would have clearly phrased
it that way as it did with respect to the Supreme Court in Section 4(2),
Article VIII of the Constitution:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SECTION 4(2) x x x all other cases which
under the Rules of Court are required to be heard en banc, x x x shall
be decided with the concurrence of a
majority of the members who actually took part in the deliberations on the
issues in the case and voted thereon. (Italics in the original;
emphasis and underscoring supplied).
For the foregoing reasons then, this Court hereby abandons the
doctrine laid down in Cua and
holds that the COMELECEn Banc shall
decide a case or matter brought before it by a majority vote of all its
members, and NOT majority of the members who deliberated and voted thereon.
respondents motion for reconsideration is hereby DENIED.
Vitug, (Acting Chief Justice),
Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez,
Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., andPuno, J., on official leave.
Quisumbing, J., in the result.
Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413, 422
6 Bernas, SJ,
Joaquin G., The 1987 Philippine
Constitution A Reviewer-Primer, 2002 at 410.
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