December 2009 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
G.R. No. 179830 - Lintang Bedol v. Commssion on Elections
[G.R. NO. 179830 : December 3, 2009]
LINTANG BEDOL, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
Challenged in this petition for certiorari are the twin Resolutions issued by the respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En Banc in the case entitled "In the Matter of the Charge of Contempt of the Commission Against Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol." The first Resolution1 dated August 7, 2007, held petitioner guilty of contempt of the COMELEC and meted out to him the penalty of six (6) months imprisonment and a fine of
P1,000.00. The second Resolution2 dated August 31, 2007, denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
The facts as stated by the COMELEC follow:
On May 14, 2007, the National and Local elections were held under the auspices of this Commission.
As Chair of the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) for the province of Maguindanao, the respondent [petitioner] discharged his official functions and was able to ensure the PBOC's performance of its ministerial duty to canvass the Certificates of Canvass coming from the twenty two (22) city and municipalities in the province.
At that time, respondent [petitioner] also was charged with the burdensome and gargantuan duty of being the concurrent Provincial Elections Supervisor for the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan a neighboring province of Maguindanao.
Respondent [petitioner] Bedol failed to attend the scheduled canvassing of the Provincial Certificates of Canvass (PCOC) of Maguindanao of which he is the Provincial Election Supervisor which was slated on May 22, 2007.
On May 25, 2007, respondent appeared before the Commission, en banc sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) for the election of senators to submit the provincial certificate of canvass for Maguindanao, pursuant to his functions as Provincial Elections Supervisor and chair of the PBOC for Maguindanao. Due to certain 'observations' on the provincial certificates of canvass by certain parties, canvassing of the certificate was held in abeyance and respondent was queried on the alleged fraud which attended the conduct of elections in his area.
He was already informed of the resetting of the canvassing for May 30, 2007, but failed to appear despite prior knowledge.
On June 4, 2007, Celia B. Romero, Director II, ERSD & Concurrent Chief of the Records and Statistics Division of the COMELEC issued a certification that as of even date, the canvassing documents for all municipalities of the province of Maguindanao in connection with the May 14, 2007 elections were not transmitted by the Provincial Election Supervisor of said province nor the respective Board of Canvassers.
The Commission and not just the NBOC, in the exercise of its investigatory powers to determine existing controversies created the Task Force Maguindanao, headed by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, which was tasked to conduct a fact-finding investigation on the conduct of elections and certificates of canvass from the city and municipalities in Maguindanao.
Respondent [petitioner] appeared before the Task Force during its June 11, 2007 fact finding activity and responded to the queries from the chair. It was during this hearing that respondent [petitioner] Bedol explained that, while in his custody and possession, the election paraphernalia were stolen sometime on May 29, 2007, or some fifteen (15) days after the elections. This was the first time such an excuse was given by the respondent [petitioner] and no written report was ever filed with the Commission regarding the alleged loss.???ñr?bl?š ??r