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[G.R. No. 158001. June 10, 2003]

GONZALES vs. HRET

EN BANC

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 10 2003.

G.R. No. 158001 (Rodolfo Gonzales vs. The House Of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Jose G. Solis.)

Before this Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 which seeks to annul and set aside the decision dated February 13, 2002 of the House of Representatives electoral Tribunal (HRET) as well as the resolution dated March 14, 2003 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration in HRET Case No. 01-011.

This case originated from a petition for quo warranto filed by petitioner Rodolfo Gonzales questioning the election and proclamation of respondent Jose Solis as Representative for the 2nd Congressional District city the Province of Sorsogon during the 2001 elections. Petitioner alleged that it was not respondent who affixed his signature and thumbmark on his certificate of candidacy. Such being the case, respondent's certificate of candidacy was null and void.

In his answer, respondent denied that the signature in his certificate of candidacy was falsified. He also testified during the hearing that, on February 26, 2001, he instructed his secretary, Adolfo Gerona, to get forms for certificate of candidacy from the COMELEC's office in Sorsogon and to fill up the entries in said forms. On the same day, Adolfo brought the accomplished forms to him and he personally signed them.

On February 13, 2003, the HRET rendered a decision dismissing the quo warranto petition. In so ruling, the HRET reasoned out that:

In sum, the settled jurisprudence is that even if a certificate of candidacy was not duly signed or did not contain the required data, the election and proclamation of the winning candidate should not be nullified on such grounds after elections, the reason being that the provisions of the election law were adopted to "assist the voters in their participation in the affairs of the government and not to defeat that object."[1]cralaw

On February 24, 2003, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied by the HRET in its resolution dated March 24, 2003.

Hence, this petition.

As early as 1918, this Court, has pronounced that the rules and regulations for the conduct of elections are mandatory before the election but after the elections, they become merely directory.[2]cralaw Corollarily, defects in the certificates of candidacy should be questioned on or before the election and not after the will of the people has been expressed through the ballot.[3]cralaw The reason for this is because innocent voters will be deprived of their votes without any fault on their part.Thus, after the termination of the election, public interest must prevail over that of the defeated candidate.

In the present case, petitioner failed to assail the genuineness of respondent's signature and thumbmark before the May 14, 2001 elections.It was only after petitioners lost said elections and after respondent had been proclaimed as the elected member of the House of Representatives that petitioner decided to question the validity of respondent's certificate of candidacy.

Clearly, the people have expressed their will honestly and we cannot declare now the election of respondent was illegal and that he should quit the office for which he was elected, simply by reason of an alleged defect in his certificate of candidacy.To rule otherwise will result in the disenfranchisement of the electorate which is precisely what our election laws are trying to prevent.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.)LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO
Clerk of Court



Endnotes:

[1]cralaw Rollo, p. 53.

[2]cralaw Luna vs. Rodriguez, 39 SCRA 208 (1918).

[3]cralaw Lambonao vs. Tero, 15 SCRA 716 [1965].


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