G.R. No. L-23964 June 1, 1966
GREGORIO V. GAERLAN, JR., petitioner and appellee, vs. LUIS C. CATUBIG, respondent and appellant.
D. C. Macaraeg, T. Guadiz, Jr., R. Hidalgo and N. F. Calimlim for petitioner and appellee.
SANCHEZ, J.:chanrobles virtual law library
Registered candidates for councilors, amongst others in the eight-seat City Council of Dagupan City - in the 1963 elections - were petitioner Gregorio V. Gaerlan, Jr. and respondent Luis C. Catubig. Having obtained the third highest number of votes, the City Board of Canvassers, on December 2, 1963, proclaimed respondent Catubig one of the elected 8 councilors. Petitioner Gaerlan, on the other hand, lost his bid.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Seasonably,1 petitioner went to Court on quo warranto to challenge respondent's eligibility2 for the office, on the averment of non-age. The judgment below gave the nod to petitioner and held respondent ineligible to hold the office of councilor of Dagupan City, excluded him there from, and declared vacant the seat he occupies in the City Board. Respondent appealed.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
There is no quarrel as to the facts. Respondent Catubig was born in Dagupan City on May 19, 1939. At the time he presented his certificate of candidacy on September 10, 1963, he was 24 years, 3 months and 22 days; on election day, November 12, 1963, he was 24 years, 5 months and 24 days; and at the time he took his oath of office as councilor on January 1, 1964,3 he was 24 years, 7 months and 13 days. Whether respondent's age be reckoned as of the date of the filing of his certificate of candidacy, or the date of election,4 or the date set by law for the assumption of office - the result is the same. Whichever date is adopted, still, respondent was below 25 years of age.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
With the foregoing backdrop, respondent calls upon us to resolve two questions: First, has petitioner a cause of action against respondent? Second, in the affirmative, is respondent eligible to the office of councilor of Dagupan City?chanrobles virtual law library
1. The thrust of respondent's argument is simply this: Petitioner Gaerlan, Jr. placed 16th out of the 16 candidates; Gaerlan thus has no right to the office, either by election or otherwise; and said petitioner cannot validly question respondent's right to sit.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
This case calls into question the applicability of Section 173 of the Revised Election Code5 which, in part, reads:
The language of this statute is very plain. The right of a non-eligible person elected to a municipal office may be contested by any registered candidate for the same office. Petitioner perfectly fits into this legal precept. He was a registered candidate for the same office. It matters not that he has no claim or right to the office of councilor in the event respondent be ousted. Because the clear-cut language - "any registered candidate for the same office" - does not require that said candidate, if his quo warranto case prospers, himself occupy that office. Right here, we find a forbidding obstacle to any other view of the statute. To say otherwise would empty this legal provision of its obvious contents. Sanchez vs. Del Rosario, supra, is to be read as controlling in the present. There, as here, the office involved was that of Councilor, the statute under consideration the same Section 173, Revised Election Code. And again, there as here, petitioner would not sit if the action be successful. This Court there expressly ruled:
But respondent would want us to apply Section 6 of Rule 66 of the Revised Rules of Court, as follows:
Section 6 just quoted is out of focus. Petitioner here is not "claiming to be entitled" to the office of councilor. Besides, we are unprepared to scuttle the jurisprudence heretofore cited - which is so well buttressed upon law and reason. Moreover, distinction should be drawn between quo warranto referring to an office filled by election and quo warranto involving an office held by appointment thus -
The foregoing, once again, emphasizes the rule that in quo warranto proceedings referring to offices filled by election, the only issue is the eligibility of the candidate elected. In such a posture it is beyond debate that the applicable statute here is Section 173 of the Revised Election Code, the specific law on the subject.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
And, petitioner's standing in court is confirmed.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
2. Respondent's presses the claim that the question of age-eligibility should be governed by the provisions of Republic Act 1707 and not by Republic Act 2259.8 For ready reference, we present in parallel columns the two conflicting legal provisions - on the left side, Section 12, Republic Act No. 170, as amended, and on the right, Section 6, Republic Act 2259.
Pertinent here it is to state that Republic Act No. 484 amending, inter alia, Section 12 of the Dagupan City Charter, took effect on June 10, 1950; whereas, Republic Act No. 2259 became law on June 19, 1959 - nine years later.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The problem, cast in legal setting, is whether or not Section 12 should give way to Section 6. On this point the following reproduced in haec verba from Libarnes vs. Executive Secretary, et al., L-21505, October 24, 1963, is an authoritative expositor of the law, viz:
The only reference to Dagupan City in Republic Act 2259 is found in Section 2 thereof whereunder voters in said city, and in the City of Iloilo, are expressly precluded to vote for provincial officials. Therefore, by the terms of the Libarnes decision, the age-limit provision in the last-named statute (Republic Act 2259) is controlling.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Indeed, we find no warrant in logic to go along with respondent. Adverting to Libarnes, supra, Act 2259 (Section 8) excludes from the operation thereof a number of cities. Dagupan City is not one of them. We are not to enter into the impermissible field of injecting into a statute a provision plainly omitted therefrom. And until Congress decrees otherwise, we are not to tamper with the present statutory set-up. Rather, we should go by what the legislative body has expressly ordained.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
And, this position we take here is accentuated by the fact that by Section 9 of Act 2259,
Given the fact that Dagupan City beyond peradventure is removed from the exceptions, it stands to reason itself that its charter provision on the age limit is thereby repealed. And this, because "the last statute is so broad in its terms and so clear and explicit in its words so as to show that it was intended to cover the whole subject, and therefore to displace the prior statute." 10chanrobles virtual law library
Specifically with reference to the uniform age limit of 25 years set forth in Section 6 of Republic Act 2259, we take stock of the phraseology employed. This section starts with "No person shall be ... Councilor unless he is at least twenty-five years of age". This specific language gives us added reason to believe that in reality - and for the sake of uniformity - the 23-year age limit in the Dagupan City Charter must have to yield. Because in the legislative scheme, councilors are conferred the right to succeed the City Mayor in the event the Vice-Mayor is Unavailable. 11 The City Mayor must at least be 25 years of age. 12 So it is, that in the event a councilor 23 years of age is elected and before 25 years catapulted to the position of mayor, then we have the anomalous situation where the person succeeding as mayor will be less than 25 years. Such a situation, it seems to us, is not contemplated by the law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
With the foregoing guideposts, we are unable to subscribe to the view that respondent's age qualification should be governed by the provisions of the Dagupan City Charter.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
We, accordingly, hold that respondent is disqualified on the ground of non-age: Because at the time he filed his certificate of candidacy, at the time of the election, and at the time he took his oath of office, he was below the age of 25 years.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Upon the law and the facts, we vote to affirm the appealed judgment. No costs allowed. So ordered.
Bengzon, C.J., Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P. and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.
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