G. R. No. 123673
June 19, 1997
ON ELECTIONS, MANILA,
E C I S I O N
TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 04,
TUGUEGARAO, CAGAYAN and
This is a
petition for certiorari under Rule
65 of the Revised Rules of Court questioning the dismissal of
appeal before the Commission on Elections [COMELEC] on the ground of
of time for filing an appeal.
Calucag and private respondent
Cesar Carbonell were both candidates for Barangay Captain in Barangay
Centro, Tuguegarao, Cagayan during the May 9, 1994 elections.
garnered 478 votes while private respondent obtained 477 votes or a
of one vote.cralaw
respondent filed an election protest with
the Municipal Trial Court, Branch 4 of Tuguegarao, Cagayan praying for
the judicial recount of the ballots cast and the annulment of the
of petitioner. As agreed upon by the parties, a recount/revision of the
votes/ballots was made. As a result, private respondent obtained 491
as against petitioner's 489 votes. On May 31, 1994, the MTC promulgated
a decision in open court declaring the former as the duly elected
Captain of Caritan Centro, Tuguegarao.
Petitioner appealed this ruling to the Regional Trial Court of
Cagayan, Branch 3 which appeal was opposed by private respondent in a
to Dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, the proper forum
the Commission on Elections [COMELEC].
On July 18, 1994, the RTC issued an Order dismissing the appeal based
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal
which was also seasonably denied.[4
On appeal, the
COMELEC likewise dismissed petitioner's
case for lack of appellate jurisdiction in its order dated August 12,
which provided, inter alia:
Guided by the pronouncement of the
in the case of Flores v. COMELEC [G.R. No. 89604, April 20, 1990], We
disregarded the detour of the appeal to the Regional Trial Court and
this appeal direct to the Commission from the Municipal Trial Court of
Tuguegarao, Cagayan, however, unlike in Flores case, this appeal was
perfected as it is wanting on the required payment of appeal fees on
hence the appellate jurisdiction of this Commission does not attach.
ACCORDINGLY, the Commission [First
hereby DISMISSES the instant appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.
A motion for
reconsideration of said order was filed,
but this was also denied by the Commission en banc which found the
to be devoid of merit, not because of non-payment of appeal fees on
time but because the same was filed out of time.
The main issue
which must be addressed herein
is whether the COMELEC has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over
contests involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts
of limited jurisdiction.cralaw
It is high time
that this question be settled
definitively to obviate situations similar to the one at bar.
The court has categorically pronounced in
v. Commission on Elections that Section 9 of R. A. No. 6679, insofar as
it provides that the decision of the Municipal or Metropolitan Trial
in a barangay election case should be appealed to the Regional Trial
is unconstitutional. Said pronouncement is hereby reiterated here. The
section is in direct contravention of Article IX-C, Section 2 of the
Constitution, providing that the COMELEC shall:
[e] xercise exclusive original
all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of
elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate
over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by
courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay
decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
wishes this Court to entertain his case
and rule as it did in Flores. This, however, cannot be done anymore
if the facts of this case were on all fours with Flores because in said
case, the petitioner, Roque Flores, was proclaimed Punong Barangay in
with Section 5 of R. A. No. 6679
after having received the highest number of votes for Kagawad in the
28, 1989, elections. The private respondent, Nobelito Rapisora, filed
election protest with the MTC of Tayum, Abra which sustained his
and installed him in place of Flores as Punong Barangay. The latter
to the RTC of Abra, which affirmed in toto the challenged decision.
Flores went to the COMELEC which dismissed his appeal on the ground
it has no power to review the decision of the RTC. Said ruling was
on Section 9 of R. A. No. 6679
which states that decisions of RTC's in electoral contests brought to
on appeal from the MTC regarding questions of fact shall be final and
In resolving the petition for certiorari, the Court supported the
of the appeal, not on the basis of said provision but on Constitutional
grounds. Section 9 of R. A. No. 6679 was declared unconstitutional even
if it was not squarely and properly challenged by Flores. Despite the
by Flores with the requisites of a judicial inquiry into a
the Court felt that it was fruitless to wait for the issue to be raised
anew, perhaps in the next barangay elections, before being resolved.
obstacles were disregarded so that the defect in R. A. No. 6679 may be
brought to the attention of Congress and the same be corrected.
At the time
Flores was resolved, there was as
yet no pronouncement on the constitutionality of said Section 9 of R.
No. 6679, such that the Court held that Flores had a right to rely on
presumed validity. He merely relied on said law when he appealed the
of the MTC to the RTC. His subsequent appeal to the COMELEC was,
considered to have been made directly from the MTC, thereby
the detour to the RTC.cralaw
It follows that
after the promulgation of Flores,
the same arguments propounded therein by the petitioner may no longer
employed. Article 8 of the Civil Code states that "(j)udicial decisions
applying or interpreting the laws or the constitution shall form part
the legal system of the Philippines." Said pronouncement of the Court,
having formed part of the law of the land, ignorance thereof can no
be countenanced. Therefore, the COMELEC is the proper appellate court
with jurisdiction to hear the appeal, which appeal must be filed within
five days after promulgation of the MTC's decision.
The erroneous filing of the appeal with the RTC did not toll the
of the prescriptive period. Petitioner filed his notice of appeal only
on August 12, 1994, or one month and twenty six days from the time he
a copy of the MTC's decision on June 16, 1994. The five-day period,
expired without the aggrieved party filing the appropriate appeal
the COMELEC, the statutory privilege of petitioner to appeal is deemed
waived and the appealed decision has become final and executory.cralaw
contention that the COMELEC erred
in disallowing the case based on sheer technicalities is likewise
The COMELEC dismissed petitioner's appeal for lack of appellate
based on his failure to perfect his appeal on time. That this is not a
technicality is correctly pointed out in the questioned order citing
jurisprudence. Granting that petitioner paid the appeal fees on time,
chose the wrong forum; the payment, therefor, having been done after
lapse of the reglementary period to appeal. In support of his arguments
petitioner cites the case of Roleto Pahilan v. Rudy Tabalba,
wherein the Court proceeded to rule on the election protest brought to
it which was dismissed in the trial court due to incomplete payment of
docket fees. The Court stated that the trial court had "no basis for
dismissal of petitioner's protest for the simple reason that an
contest is not an ordinary civil action. Consequently, the rules
ordinary civil actions are not necessarily binding on special actions
an election contest wherein public interest will be adversely affected. The rules which apply to ordinary civil actions may not
serve the purpose of election cases, especially if we consider the fact
that election laws are to be accorded utmost liberality in their
and application, bearing in mind always that the will of the people
be upheld. Ordinary civil actions would generally involved private
while all election cases are, at all times, invested with public
which cannot be defeated by mere procedural and technical infirmities."
The Court, however, in Rodillas v. COMELEC
categorically made a pronouncement that "the requirement of an appeal
is by no means a mere technicality of law or procedure. It is an
requirement without which the decision to be appealed from would become
final and executory as if no appeal was filed at all. The right to
is a mere statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner
by, and in accordance with, the provision of the law."
view of the foregoing, the Order
of the Commission on Elections en banc dated February 1, 1996,
the instant case for lack of appellate jurisdiction, is hereby
Cost against petitioner.cralaw
Regalado, Melo, Puno,
Vitug, Mendoza, Hermosisima, Jr. and Torres, Jr., JJ.,
Panganiban, J., concur. And may I
the petition is now moot as the term of office of barangay chairman
on May 9, 1994 expired on May 31, 1997.
Davide, Jr., J., took no part.
Padilla, Bellosillo, Kapunan and Francisco,
are on leave.cralaw
Annex "A," Rollo, pp. 33-39.
230 SCRA 205 .
Annex "F," ibid, pp. 42-43.
Annex "G," id., pp. 44-45.
Annex "H," id., pp. 46-50; Annex "I," id., pp. 51-52.
Annex "O," id., pp. 71-72.
Annex "A," id., pp. 23-27.
There shall be a sangguniang barangay in every duly constituted
which shall be the legislative body and shall be composed of seven (7)
kagawads to be elected by the registered voters of the barangay. The
who obtains the highest number of votes shall be the punong barangay.
5, R. A. 6679].
A sworn petition contesting the election of a barangay official may be
filed with the proper municipal or metropolitan trial court by any
who has duly filed a certificate of candidacy and has been voted for a
barangay office within ten (10) days after the proclamation of the
of the election. The trial court shall decide the election protest
thirty (30) days after the filing thereof. The decision of the
or metropolitan trial court may be appealed within ten (10) days from
of a copy thereof by the aggrieved party to the regional trial court
shall decide the issue within thirty (30) days from receipt of the
and whose decision on questions of fact shall be final and
For purposes of the barangay elections, no pre-proclamation cases shall
be allowed. [Section 9, Ibid.].
[a] There must be an actual case or controversy; [b] The question of
must be raised by the proper party; [c] The constitutional question
be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and [d] the decision of
the constitutional question must be necessary to the determination of
Section, 3 Rule 22, COMELEC Rules of Procedures states that: "Notice of
Appeal Within five  days after promulgation of the decision of
the court, the aggrieved party may file with said court a notice of
and serve a copy thereof upon the attorney of record of the adverse
245 SCRA 702 ; citing Dorego v. Perez 22 SCRA 8 , and Bello
v. Fernandez 4 SCRA 135 .