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[G.R. No. 162731-32. April 13, 2004]

CHAVEZ vs. COMELEC

EN BANC

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated APR 13 2004.

G.R. No. 162731-32 (Melchor Chavez vs. Commission on Elections, REPORMA, represented by its Chairman, Renato S. de Villa, AKSYON DEMOKRATIKO, represented by its President, Raul S. Roco; REPORMA, represented by its Chairman, Renato S. de Villa, and PROMDI, represented by its President, Lito Osmeņa and Atty. Francisco Chavez.)

In the instant Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, petitioner Melchor Chavez assails the Joint Resolution dated 18 February 2004 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) First Division in SPA Nos. 03-0321 and 03-033,2 declaring petitioner a nuisance candidate and disqualifying him from running for Senator in the forthcoming national elections in May 2004. Likewise assailed is the Order of the COMELEC En Banc dated 26 March 2004 declaring the 18 February 2004 Joint Resolution as final and executory.

On 15 December 2003, petitioner filed with the COMELEC his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the position of Senator in the national elections in May 2004. He alleges that he is one of the senatorial candidates of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

On 30 December 2003, respondent Francisco I. Chavez filed his COC also for the position of Senator. He is running under the Alyansa ng Pag-asa, the coalition of respondents REPORMA, AKSYON DEMOKRATIKO and PROMDI.3

Meanwhile, on 22 December 2003, REPORMA, represented by its President, Renato S. de Villa, filed with the COMELEC a Petition seeking the cancellation of petitioner's COC and his disqualification as a candidate for senator.4 On the same day, AKSYON DEMOKRATIKO, represented by its President, Raul S. Roco, and PROMDI, represented by its President, Lito Osmeņa, also filed a similar Petition with the COMELEC. They were joined by REPORMA in their petition.5 Both Petitions contended that petitioner's COC should be cancelled and that he should be disqualified from running as senator in the May 2004 elections because: (1) petitioner filed his COC merely to cause confusion among the voters, to the prejudice of Francisco I. Chavez; and (2) petitioner has no capacity to mount a creditable nationwide campaign.6

In his Answer with Motion to Dismiss, petitioner alleged that respondents REPORMA, AKSYON DEMOKRATIKO and PROMDI have no legal personality to file their respective Petitions. He pointed out that when respondents filed their Petitions on 22 December 2003, Francisco I. Chavez had not yet filed his COC with the COMELEC; hence, it is not he, but Francisco I. Chavez who, by his later filing of his COC, should be declared as a nuisance candidate. Petitioner further argued that as a veteran journalist and broadcaster, and as member of various civic, religious, national and international organizations, he had the capacity to mount a nationwide campaign.7

The KBL filed an Intervention/ Comment to the Petitions and argued that petitioner cannot be considered a nuisance candidate because he is a nominee of the KBL, a political party with a significant number of followers nationwide.8

On 18 February 2004, the COMELEC issued the assailed Joint Resolution declaring petitioner a nuisance candidate and disqualifying him from running for senator in the May 2004 elections. The COMELEC noted that petitioner had been previously disqualified from running for senator in 1992 and 1998, and that when he ran for senator in 2001, he garnered a measly two percent (2%) of the total votes cast. It found that petitioner lacked the financial capability and the political machinery to mount a nationwide campaign.9

Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal and/or Motion for Reconsideration with the COMELEC on 23 February 2004. Thereafter, he filed a Motion to Calendar Appealed Case for Hearing by the COMELEC En Banc. The COMELEC First Division elevated the entire records of the cases to the Banc for proper disposition.

REPORMA, ASKYON DEMOKRATIKO, and PROMDI filed with the COMELEC En Banc a Motion to Strike Out Petitioner's Notice of Appeal and/or Motion for Reconsideration.

On 26 March 2004, the COMELEC En Banc issued an Order dismissing petitioner's Notice of Appeal and/or Motion for Reconsideration because the same was not verified as required under Rules 7 and 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, and declaring the Joint Resolution dated 18 February 2004 as final and executory.10

Aggrieved, petitioner filed the instant petition on 31 March 2004. He alleges that the COMELEC First Division erred in: (1) declaring him a nuisance candidate; (2) not dismissing outright respondent political parties' Petitions on the ground that they are not the real parties in interest in the cases filed therewith; and (3) not declaring that respondent political parties engaged in forum shopping, in filing their Petitions with the COMELEC. Petitioner also claims that the COMELEC En Banc erred in holding that the Joint Resolution had already become final and executory.

The instant petition is denied outright for error in the mode of review.

Petitioner should have filed a petition under Rule 64 or a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and not the present petition for review under Rule 45.

Rule 64 governs the review of judgments and final orders or resolutions of the COMELEC and the Commission on Audit (COA).11 In form, a petition under this Rule is akin to a Rule 43 petition in that errors of fact or law may be alleged therein.12

Like Rule 43, Rule 64 provides that findings of fact of the Commission whose judgment, final order or resolution is assailed, which are supported by substantial evidence are binding and shall not be reviewable on appeal.13

A petition under Rule 64 must be filed within thirty (30) days from notice of the judgment, final order or resolution sought to be reviewed. The filing of a motion for new trial or reconsideration, if allowed under the rules of procedure of the COMELEC or COA, shall interrupt the thirty-day period. If the motion is denied, the aggrieved party may file the petition under Rule 64 within the remaining period, but in no case less than five (5) days from notice of denial.14

A petition under Rule 64 must also be verified and must include the Commission concerned as a party respondent.15

As distinguished therefrom, a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 raises as a ground lack or excess of jurisdiction, or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, of any tribunal, board or officer exercising quasi-judicial functions in performing the act assailed therein.16

A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 must be filed within sixty (60) days from notice of the assailed judgment, order or resolution.17

A petition filed under Rule 65, like a Rule 64 petition, requires the inclusion as a party respondent the tribunal which issued the assailed judgment, order or resolution.18

Even if the Court treats the instant petition as one filed under Rule 64 or under Rule 65, the same should still be denied for failure to show that the COMELEC committed errors of fact and/or law, or that it acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in declaring that petitioner is a nuisance candidate and in ordering his disqualification to run as senator in the forthcoming national elections in May, and the cancellation of his COC.

Section 6919 of the Omnibus Election Code authorizes the COMELEC, motu proprio, or upon a verified petition of an interested party, to declare a candidate as a nuisance candidate and to refuse to give due course to his or her COC or to cancel one already filed if it is shown that: (1) the candidate's COC has been filed to put the election process in mockery or disrepute, (2) the COC has been filed to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of names of the registered candidates, and (3) where other circumstances show that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for office.

COMELEC Resolution No. 6452 dated December 10, 2002 also specifies the instances where the COMELEC may motu proprio refuse to give due course to or cancel a COC:

SEC. 6. Motu Proprio Cases. - The Commission may, at any time before the election, motu proprio refuse to give due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy of any candidate for the positions of President, Vice-President, Senator and Party-list:

I. The grounds:

a. Candidates who, on the face of their certificate of candidacy, do not possess the constitutional and legal qualifications of the office to which they aspire to be elected;

b. Candidate who, on the face of said certificate, filed their certificate of candidacy to put the election process in mockery or disrepute;

c. Candidates whose certificate of candidacy could cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of names and surnames with other candidates; and

d. Candidates who have no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy had been filed or acts that clearly demonstrate the lack of such bona fide intention, such as:

d. 1 Candidates who do not belong to or are not nominated by any registered political party of national constituency;

d.2 Presidential, Vice-Presidential [candi­dates] who do not present running mates for vice-president, respectively, nor senatorial candidates;

d.3 Candidates who do not have a platform of government and are not capable of waging a nationwide campaign. (Emphasis supplied.)

The COMELEC's ruling is based on facts which lead to no other conclusion but that petitioner is indeed a nuisance candidate:

Records show that [petitioner] had twice been disqualified and his certificate of candidacy cancelled. First, in 1992, the Supreme Court, in G.R. No. 104704 disqualified him from running for senator. Then in 1998, the Commission did not give due course to his certificate of candidacy.

In 2001, he ran as the official candidate of the KBL, However, he showed a dismal performance as he obtained a vote of only 2% of the total votes cast.

Melchor Chavez has, in the past, not shown any capability for a decent campaign. Now, he presents no significant credentials for a better capability in this election. He is not even an official candidate of a political party since the nomination by KBL was no accepted by him. He is wanting in financial support for a nationwide campaign. He has no political machinery to count on.20

The rationale for the prohibition against nuisance candidates and the disqualification of candidates who have not demonstrated a bond fide intention to run for office is the State's compelling interest in ensuring that its electoral exercises are rational, objective, and orderly. Towards this end, the State takes into account the practical considerations in conducting elections. Inevitably, the greater the number of candidates, the greater the opportunities for logistical confusion, not to mention the increased allocation of time and resources in preparation for the elections. These practical difficulties should, of course, never exempt the State from the conduct of a mandated electoral exercise. At the same time, remedial actions should be available to alleviate these logistical hardships, whenever necessary and proper. Ultimately, a disorderly election is not merely a textbook example of inefficiency, but a rot that erodes faith in our democratic institutions. As the United States Supreme Court held:

[T]here is surely an important state interest in requiring some preliminary showing of a significant modicum of support before printing the name of a political organization and its candidates on the ballot -the interest, if no other, in avoiding confusion, deception and even frustration of the democratic [process].21

ACCORDINGLY, the Court RESOLVED to DENY the petition for pursuing the wrong mode of review and for lack of merit.

Very truly yours,

LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO
Clerk of Court

By:

(Sgd.) MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA

Assistant Clerk of Court



Endnotes:

1 REPORMA, represented herein by its Chairman, Renato de Villa v. Melchor Chavez.

2 AKSYON DEMOKRATIKO, represented by its President Raul S. Roco, REPORMA represented herein by its Chairman Renato de Villa, and PROMDI, represented by its President Lito Osmeņa v. Melchor Chavez.

3 See Joint Resolution dated 18 February 2004 of the COMELEC First Division, Rollo, p. 29.

4 See note 1.

5 See note 2.

6 Rollo, pp. 44-48, 55-58.

7 Id. at 67-77.

8 Id. at 62-65.

9 Id. at 27-32.

10 Id. at 34-35.

11 Section 1, Rule 64, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

12 See Sections 3 and 7, Rule 43, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

13 See Section 10, Rule 43 and Section 5, Rule 64, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

14 Section 3, Rule 64, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

15 Section 5,Rule 64, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

16 Section 1, Rule 65, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

17 Section 5, Rule 65, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

18 Section 5, Rule 65, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

19 Section 69. Nuisance Candidates.-The Commission may, motu proprio or upon a verified petition of an interested party, refuse to give due course or cancel a certificate of candidacy if it is shown that said certificate has been filed to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.

20 Joint Resolution dated 18 February 2004, Rollo, p. 30.

21 Jenness v. Fortson, 403 U.S. 431 (1971).


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