Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1954 > March 1954 Decisions > G.R. No. L-5758 March 30, 1954 - ISIDRO DE LEON v. HONORABLE DOMINGO IMPERIAL, ET AL.

094 Phil 680:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-5758. March 30, 1954.]

ISIDRO DE LEON, Petitioner, v. HONORABLE DOMINGO IMPERIAL, ET AL., Respondents.

Rodolfo M. Medina for Petitioner.

Emilio J. Aguila for the Commission on Elections.

Ramos & Dimaguila for other respondents.


SYLLABUS


1. ELECTION PROTESTS; POWERS OF COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; POWER TO CORRECT MISTAKES AFTER PROCLAMATION HAS BEEN MADE IS VESTED ON COMPETENT COURT. — The powers of the Commission on Elections are defined in the Constitution and powers not expressly or impliedly granted to it are deemed withheld. Any alteration or amendment in the statements of election, or any contradiction or discrepancy appearing therein, whether due to clerical error or otherwise, cannot be made without the intervention of a competent court, once the announcement of the result of the election, or the proclamation of the winners had been made.

2. ID.; TWO-WEEK PERIOD, JURISDICTIONAL; RIGHT OF CANDIDATE PROCLAIMED VESTED AFTER LAPSE OF PERIOD. — The legal provision which provides that after proclamation any candidate may file an election protest within two weeks is jurisdictional as it has the effect of divesting a losing candidate of his remedy to contest the election. After that period has elapsed, the right of the candidate proclaimed to the office is deemed vested.


D E C I S I O N


BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:


Petitioner was one of the candidates for councilor of the municipality of Makati, Province of Rizal, in the elections held on November 13, 1951. There were eight councilors to be elected and as a result of the canvass made by the board of canvassers on November 18, 1951, petitioner occupied the eighth place and was proclaimed elected, having obtained 3,160 votes. On April 12, 1952, or four months and twenty-four days after petitioner’s proclamation, Fortunato Gutierrez, hereafter designated as respondent, filed a petition in the Commission on Elections alleging that due to a mistake in addition the municipal board of canvassers credited petitioner with 3,160 votes when in fact he obtained only 3,060 votes, whereas respondent obtained 3,098 votes, or a majority of 38 votes over petitioner. Respondent prayed that the municipal board of canvassers be ordered to make a new canvass and a new proclamation declaring him the eighth councilor-elect in lieu of petitioner.

On May 26, 1952, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss alleging among other things that the Commission on Elections has no power to order the correction asked for on the ground that the period within which it could be made has already prescribed. This motion was denied and the Commission directed the municipal board of canvassers to reconvene and recanvass the election returns as prayed for, and, having found that respondent had polled more votes than petitioner, proclaimed the former eighth councilor-elect of Makati.

The present petition, as amended, seeks the annulment of this proclamation as illegal and the reinstatement of petitioner to the office of eighth councilor of Makati. And, incidentally, it may be stated, that petitioner has, in addition, filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal an election protest dated June 2, 1952, contesting the election of Respondent.

The only question posed in this petition is whether the Commission on Elections has the power to order the municipal board of canvassers of Makati to correct a mistake committed in addition in the canvass it has made after the candidate erroneously proclaimed had assumed office and the period to contest his election had expired.

The powers of the Commission on Elections are defined in the Constitution. It provides that it "shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections and shall exercise all other functions which may be conferred upon it by law. It shall decide, save those involving the right to vote, all administrative questions, affecting elections, including the determination of the number and location of polling places, and the appointment of election inspectors and of other election officials." (Art. X, Section 2.) The Revised Election Code supplements what other powers may be exercised by said Commission. It is clear that powers not expressly or impliedly granted to it are deemed withheld.

In a municipal election, the board of inspectors counts the votes, makes a statement of the count, proclaims the result of the election, and issues a certificate of the number of votes polled by each candidate. After the announcement of the result, the board of inspectors "shall not make any alteration or amendment in any of its statements, unless it be so ordered by a competent court" (Section 154, Revised Election Code).

The municipal board of canvassers shall meet immediately after the election, shall count the votes cast for each candidate and proclaim as elected those who have polled the largest number of votes. The board shall not recount the ballots nor examine any of them but shall proceed upon the statements presented to it. In case of contradictions or discrepancies between the copies of the same statements, the same may be corrected by the Court of First Instance of the province, upon motion of the board or of any candidate affected. (Section 168, in connection with Section 163, Revised Election Code.)

The above constitute the only pertinent provisions regarding the canvass and proclamation of municipal officials. They clearly postulate that any alteration or amendment in any of the statements of election, or any contradiction or discrepancy appearing therein, whether due to clerical error or otherwise, cannot be made without the intervention of a competent court, once the announcement of the result of the election, or the proclamation of the winners, had been made. These provisions are all-inclusive in the sense that the power to authorize the correction can only be made by a competent court. They reject the idea, as now entertained by respondent, that such error can be ordered corrected by the Commission on Elections by virtue of its constitutional power to administer the laws relative to the conduct of elections.

That the above is the correct interpretation of the law seems to be implied from the cases decided by this Court (Galvez v. Miranda, Et Al., 36 Phil., 316, 320; Cordero v. Judge, 40 Phil., 246). Thus, it was held that "when it appears that the board of canvassers has failed or refused to perform a purely ministerial duty, then mandamus is the proper remedy. If the board of canvassers should, for example in its return, show that A had received a majority of the votes cast and, in the face of that fact, declare that B had been elected, certainly it should be required to make its certificate conform with the facts stated in its return. Under such circumstances, and in the face of such facts, A cannot be considered the person elected to the office in question. Mandamus is the most effective and expeditious remedy for such error." (Municipal Council of Las Piñas v. Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, 40 Phil., 279, 282-284.)

But in order that the remedy of mandamus may be available, it is necessary that it be asserted within the two-week period within which an election may be contested. After that period has elapsed, the right of the candidate proclaimed to the office is deemed vested. The reason is obvious. This period is jurisdictional, as it has the effect of divesting a losing candidate of his remedy to contest the election. This is what this Court in effect said when in a recent case it made the following pronouncement: "Before the proclamation of election, any candidate may petition the Court of First Instance to recount the votes cast in any precinct in case of discrepancies between copies of statements of election (Sections 163 and 168, Revised Election Code). After the proclamation, any candidate may file an election protest within two weeks (Section 174, idem.) . These specific legal provisions logically compel any candidate, within short time limits, to seek in the Court of First Instance the corresponding relief against the regularity of a canvass of election, and to the same extent relieve the Commission on Elections from the duty of conducting similar investigations.’ (Ramos v. Commission on Elections, * 45 Off. Gaz., Supp. No. 9, 345, 347.) .

The theory entertained by the respondent tends to circumvent this mandatory provision which limits the period within which an election contest should be filed. This is the result which the action of the Commission on Elections has led into in the present case. It appears that Isidro de Leon, petitioner herein, was proclaimed councilor-elect by the municipal board of canvassers on November 18, 1951, but four months and twenty-four days thereafter, or on April 12, 1952, the defeated candidate, Fortunato Gutierrez, petitioned the Commission on Elections to order said board to make a recanvass of the votes alleging a clerical mistake, and this was done on May 31, 1952, thereby proclaiming Fortunato Gutierrez as the winner. The result was that Isidro de Leon filed an election protest within the legal period counted from the last proclamation disputing the legality of the election of Gutierrez. If we will hold that the Commission on Elections has acted properly, as entertained by the respondent, the inevitable result would be that the election contest was filed within the statutory period. This is a clear circumvention of the law which is destructive of the very essence and spirit which underlies the summary nature of an election proceeding while it sets a precedent which enlarges to a dangerous extreme the administrative powers conferred upon the Commission on Elections by the Constitution. We cannot subscribe to such unwarranted interpretation.

Wherefore, the petition for certiorari is granted, with costs against Respondent. The new proclamation made on May 31, 1952 is hereby set aside and the original proclamation made on November 18, 1951 should stand.

Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon and Labrador, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions


DIOKNO, M., concurrente:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Concurro con la opini on de que se conceda el remedio aqu i solicitado.

Los hechos y la cuesti on en este asunto se hallan bien expuestos en la ponencia en los siguientes terminos:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"This is a petition for certiorari.

"The facts are not in dispute. Isidro de Leon and Fortunato Gutierrez were among the candidates for municipal councilors of Makati, Rizal, voted for in the election held on November 13, 1951. There were 8 councilors to be elected, and on the basis of the votes shown in the election returns from the different precincts Gutierrez had occupied 8th place with a total of 3,098 votes in his favor as against 3,060 votes in favor of De Leon, his closest contender for that place. But due to a mistake in addition the municipal board of canvassers, which met on November 18, 1951, to canvass the returns, credited De Leon with 3,160 votes and proclaimed him the elected 8th councilor of the municipality.

"Informed of the error committed by the municipal board of canvassers, Gutierrez on April 12, 1952, petitioned the Commission on Elections to annul the proclamation of De Leon and order the board to make a new canvass. De Leon opposed the petition. But the Commission, after hearing, granted the petition, annulled the proclamation in favor of De Leon and directed the board to reconvene and recanvass the votes received by these two candidates and proclaim the one that came out winner according to the result.

"Proceeding as directed by the Commission, the municipal board of canvassers reconvened on May 31, 1952, to recanvass the election returns and, having found that Gutierrez had polled more votes than De Leon, proclaimed the former elected 8th councilor of Makati.

"The present petition, as amended, seeks the annulment of this proclamation as illegal and the restoration of petitioner to the office of 8th councilor of Makati. But it appears that petitioner has, in addition, filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal an election protest, dated June 2, 1952, contesting the election of Gutierrez.

"It is admitted that the municipal board of canvassers had made a mistake in adding up the votes reported in the election returns and that due to this mistake in addition De Leon was proclaimed elected. The question presented is whether a mistake of that kind may be ordered corrected by the Commission on Elections after the candidate erroneously proclaimed has already assumed office." (Decision original, No. L-5758, pp. 1-2)

Las facultades de la Comisi on de Elecciones se definen en el Art iculo X, secci on 2, de la Constituci on como sigue:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SEC. 2. The Commission on Elections shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections and shall exercise all other functions which may be conferred upon it by law. It shall decide, save those involving the right to vote, all administrative questions, affecting elections, including the determination of the number and location of polling places, and the appointment of election inspectors and of other election officials. . . . The decisions, orders, and rulings of the Commission shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court."cralaw virtua1aw library

El administrar y hacer cumplir las leyes relativas a la celebraci on de las elecciones y el decidir las cuestiones administrativas que afectan a las elecciones que no envuelvan el derecho de votar suponen existencia de tales leyes y respeto y reverencia a las mismas. No hace de la Comisi on, solo por haber sido elevada al rango de cuerpo constitucional, superior a dichas leyes.

En materia de escrutinio electoral, la Comisi on deber ia desplegar todo su ingenio y tener una maquinaria tan completa como los fondos a su disposici on permitan, para asegurar que las diferentes juntas al efecto cumplan puntual y fielmente con sus deberes, y para prevenir sobre la marcha todo posible error, irregularidad o fraude en las proclamaciones. No es su funci on sentarse como jueces y esperar que los otros interesados acudan a ella en demanda de remedio. Es funci on activa durante la celebraci on de las eleciones la que la Constituci on ha encomendado a la Comisi on. Por su parte, los partidos y los candidatos deber ian ejercer la m axima vigilancia, y llamar oportunamente la atenci on de cuantas autoridades intervienen o deben intervenir en la ejecuci on de las leyes electorales para evitar que ocurran retrasos, a se cometan o consuman errores, irregularidades o fraudes. En el caso de estos autos, el alegado error de suma de votos se hubiera advertido y evitado inmediatamente si el afectado hubiera sido un poco vigilante, o su partido hubiere designado un interventor despierto en la junta de escrutinio como provee el art iculo 168, en relaci on con el art iculo 159, del C odigo Electoral Revisado. Tambi en se hubiera podido evitar si un representante de la Comisi on en el municipio hubiera atendido el escrutinio municipal.

Despues de hecha la proclamaci on, nuevos factores entran en juego que no pueden desconocerse. La Junta no puede, motu propio reunirse y corregir el acta de proclamaci on del resultado de la elecci on, como no sean meros errores clericales u otros de an alogo car acter, sin orden judicial. Galvez v. Miranda, 36 Phil., 316, 320. Como esta Corte dijo en el caso de Cordero contra Juez de Primera Instancia de Rizal (1919) 40 Jur. Fil., 261, 266, 267:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Los recurridos pretenden que la Junta Municipal de Escrutinio carec ia de facultades para recontar las papeletas y hacer enmiendas en su primitiva proclamaci on. El art iculo 477 de la Ley No. 2711, 1 dispone que inmediatamente despues, de la elecci on, el Concejo Municipal se reunir a en sesi on especial, y proceder a a actuar como Junta Municipal de Escrutinio; y contar a los votos emitidos para cada uno de los cargos municipales en la misma forma que se dispone en el Art iculo 469, para la Junta Provincial de Escrutinio. Dicho art iculo (477) dispone, adem as, que la Junta Municipal de Escrutinio no tendr a la facultad de recontar los votos ni de inspeccionarlos, sino que proceder a con vista de las actas, tal como se hayan corregido, si es que ha habido necesidad de correcciones. La resoluci on de dicha Junta se har a constar por escrito en triplicado 2 firmado por los que la componen o por la mayor ia de ellos. Cuando se hayan cumplido los deberes de tal suerte impuestos a la Junta Municipal de Escrutinio, y esta extiende su certificado conforme exige la Ley, su tarea, como tal junta, ha terminado, y no se dispone nada sobre su continuaci on como junta de escrutinio . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

"El objeto de la ley es dar fin de modo definitivo, por lo que a la Junta Municipal de Escrutinio afecta, al escrutinio de los votos que se han emitido para cada uno de los cargos municipales. Aunque la Junta Municipal de Escrutinio se compone de los que constituyen el Concejo Municipal, no actuan como concejales, sino como una entidad distinta y diferentemente organizada para un fin expreso, y cuando dicho objetivo queda cumplido, desaparece y termina su existencia como tal Junta de Escrutinio.

"Por tanto, la Junta Municipal de Escrutinio carec ia de facultades para volver a practicar el recuento y hacer nueva proclamaci on, sin haber sido autorizada para ello por una orden del Juzgado, de conformidad con lo que dispone el art iculo 479 de la Ley No. 2711."cralaw virtua1aw library

Cuando el error importante se debe a que la Junta de Escrutinio no ha tenido en cuenta actas electorales de otros precintos, o que ha tomado n umeros de votos distintos de los que constan en las actas electorales, se le puede obligar mediante mandamus a que complete el escrutinio o tenga en cuenta las cifras verdaderas y haga nueva proclamaci on conforme a lo resuelto de las actas leg itimas.

"Que procede la expedici on de un mandamus para obligar a la Junta de Escrutinio que declare en su certificado el resultado del escrutinio, es doctrina perfectamente sentada ahora, sobre todo, cuando resulte, con vista de las actas, que el certificado no se ajusta a los hechos que en ellas constan. Est a apoyada por abundante jurisprudencia la doctrina de que, cuando la Junta de Escrutinio se negare a contar cualquiera de los votos, podr a oblig arsela, mediante mandamus, a que los cuente. En principio no puede haber diferencia entre negarse a contar cualquiera de los votos o negarse a contar s olo parte del resultado. El mandamus es el recurso adecuado para obligar a una junta municipal de escrutinio para que corrija su certificado, de conformidad con sus propias actas. (15 Cyc., 383; People v. Nordham, 90 Ill. 553; State v. Hardin County Judge, 13 Iowa, 139; Rich v. Bogard State Canvassers, 100 Mich., 453; People v. Onondaga County, 129 N. W., 335.)

"Aunque no proceder a el mandamus para obligar a que se declara que un individuo tiene derecho a un cargo discutido, o para determinar cuestiones discutidas relativas al derecho al cargo, es el recurso adecuado en casos en que los funcionarios de elecci on dejen de cumplir con sus deberes ministeriales, en relaci on con la elecci on. Proceder a el mandamus para obligar a la Junta da Escrutinio a que redacte y complete actas exactas. (Steward v. Payton, 77 Ga., 668; McCreary sobre Elecciones, p ag. 301; Paine sobre Elecciones, p ags. 755, 756.)

Hasta que la Junta de Escrutinio haya complido con el preciso deber que la ley le impone, debe consider arsela contumaz, y, en un caso como este, ser ia una anomal ia legal permitir que la Junta se atuviera al hecho de que hab ia librado un certificado de elecci on a uno que no hab ia recibido el mayor n umero de votos, en contra de lo que expresamente dispone la ley, como raz on bastante para que no se le obligue a cumplir un deber imperativo. (pp. 300-301.)

. . . Cuando resulta que la Junta de Escrutinio ha dejado de cumplir, o se ha negado a cumplir un deber puramente ministerial, entonces el mandamus es el recurso adecuado. Si, por ejemplo, la Junta de Escrutinio hubiera hecho constar en su acta que A recibi o la mayoria de los votos emitidos, y en vista de tal hecho declarara que B hab ia sido elegido, ciertamente que se le debe exigir que redacte su certificado con arreglo a los hechos expuestos en sus actas. En virtud de tales circunstancias, y con vista de tales hechos, A no podr a considerarse como elegido para el cargo en cuesti on. El mandamus es el recurso m as expedito y eficaz para subsanar tal error." Consejo Mun. de Las Piñas contra Juez de 1.a Inst. de Rizal, 40 Jur. Fil., 296, 300-301, 302.

Un recurso de mandamus no es una protesta electoral, aunque participa en parte de la naturaleza de la misma, y la decisi on que all i se dicta es inapelable.

"Aunque la solicitud de mandamus, en realidad, era una protesta contra el resultado de la elecci on, de hecho no era una moci on de protesta. La solicitud de mandamus no ten ia por objeto que se resolviera una elecci on protestada. No puede el mandamus utilizarse para tal fin. Cuando se hace necesario recurrir a las actas y considerar cuestiones que afectan a la legalidad o irregularidades de la elecci on, o al fraude, emisi on ilegal de votos etc., el mandamus no es el recurso adecuado en tales casos. Dichas cuestiones deben suscitarse, ya por una moci on de protesta, ya mediante quo warranto, en relaci on con los hechos especiales del caso. (pp. 301-302.)

. . . La sentencia del Juzgado inferior en un mandamus, as i como las dem as sentencias en asuntos electorales municipales, es firme e inapelable." (p ag. 303.)

Concejo Mun. de Las Piñas contra Juez de 1.a Inst. de Rizal, supra.

Si el recurso de mandamus prospera y se hace nueva y distinta proclamaci on en su virtud, el candidato afectado adversamente por la modificaci on puede protestar contra la elecci on del nuevamente declarado electo dentro de los respectivos plazos fijados por la ley. Arts. 172, 173 y 174, Cod. Elect. Rev. Pero si pierde el recurso, y en el entretanto han transcurrido los diferentes plazos legales para protestar sin que separadamente, haya protestado contra la proclamada elecci on de su adversario, ha perdido definitivamente derecho de impugnarla. De la Rosa v. Yonson, 52 Phil., 446; Ferrer v. Gutierrez David, 43 Phil., 795; Nisperos v. Araneta Diaz, 47 Phil., 806; Yumol v. Palma, 52 Phil., 412; Municipal Council of Masantol v. Guevara, 44 Phil., 580; Hontiveros v. Altavas, 24 Phil., 632.

Puede la Comisi on de Elecciones librar el mandamus, en vez de los tribunales de justicia, o concurrentemente con estos? No se encuentra en la Constituci on, ni en el C odigo Electoral Revisado una disposici on expresa sobre el particular. Los que opinan por la afirmativa o deducen de la facultad ejecutiva de la Comisi on de administrar y hacer que se cumplan las leyes sobre la celebraci on de las elecciones. Sin embargo, en el asunto de Concejo de Las Piñas v. Juez de Rizal, 40 Jur. Fil., 296, esta Corte dijo:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Hemos declarado, en casos en que la Ley Electoral era deficiente, que podr ia recurrirse al procedimiento que dispone la Ley No. 190 (Arnedo contra Llorente y Liongson, 18 Jur. Fil., 257; Campos contra Wislizenus y Aldanese, 35 Jur. Fil., 380, Deogracias contra Abreu y De la Santa, 36 Jur. Fil., 523.)"

Y la competencia para la expedici on del remedio de mandamus est a prescrita expresamente para los tribunales de justicia. Judicature Act. Rep. Act No. 296, Secs. 17, 30, 44; Rules of Court, Rule 67, secs. 3, 4. Y ciertamente es una prerrogativa judicial.

En el asunto de Ramos v. Comisi on de Elecciones, 45 Off. Gaz. Supp. 9, pag. 345, se trataba de una petici on de mandamus para que se ordene a la Comisi on a investigar y anular el escrutinio hecho por la Junta Municipal de Escrutinio de Bato, Camarines Sur por el fundamento de que utiliz o un acta falsificada del precinto 10 del citado municipio en lugar de la genuina, pues la Comisi on se abstuvo de hacerlo por estar pendiente una protesta electoral tendente a anular la elecci on del proclamado electo. En esta Corte hubo empate en la votaci on del recurso por lo que qued o sobrese ido. Regla 56, sec. 2, Reglamento de los Tribunales. Tres de los Magistrados opuestos al recurso opinaban por su desestimaci on 1. porque la facultad era discrecional y 2. porque no puede esperarse que la Comisi on conozca de quejas similares que surgir ian en todo Filipinas, por sus limitadas facilidades y personal (p ags. 346, 347). Dos de los opuestos al recurso votaron, sin embargo, por otras razones, que el entonces Magistrado Sr. Tuason, expuso como sigue:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"I can not share the opinion that the Commission on Elections has discretionary power to annul a canvass by the board of canvassers. If it had such power I would be inclined to agree that a grave abuse of discretion was committed when the Commission denied or declined to act on the petition of the local representatives of the Nacionalista Party, in the face of its commission’s finding that the returns used in the canvass were forged. In my opinion the commission had no other alternative but to refrain, as it did, from taking cognizance of the complaint. A machinery of justice with special, summary jurisdiction and clearly outlined procedure has been set up to hear and decide precisely such irregularities as are charged in the case at bar. The Commission on Elections is an administrative body endowed with administrative functions only. Determination of which of two or more conflicting returns is authentic is a judicial prerogative. It requires the taking of evidence the holding of a regular trial, if justice is to be done to both parties. It amounts to a power to declare, in some cases as in this, that one candidate has been elected over another candidate or other candidates. (p ag. 348.)

"As I have said, the subject-matter of the present petition is one which falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance. If ballot boxes have been destroyed together with their contents, that is no ground for taking the case out of the method of procedure provided by law. The counting of ballots is not the only mode by which a protestant can established his right to be declared elected to an office." (p ag. 349.)

Ramos v. Commission on Election, 45 Off. Gaz. Supp. 9, pp. 348-349.

Pero se dice que la facultad de la Comisi on de Elecciones de anular una proclamaci on de una junta de escrutinio y ordenar un nuevo escrutinio ya no puede ponerse en duda, por virtud de la decisi on de esta Corte en el Asunto de Mintu v. Enage, G. R. No. L-1834 (Dic. 31, 1947). Conforme a la opini on de dos señores magistrados, tal facultad est a limitada a errores cometidos en cosas ministeriales y administrativas "which do not call for the exercise of judgment." Dijeron, en efecto:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The Commission on Elections has both the power and the duty to correct any error committed by election officials in ministerial and administrative matters which do not call for the exercise of judgment. The case of Mintu Et. Al., v. Enage Et. Al., G. R. No. L-1834, comes under this category. There, the board of canvassers failed to perform an administrative duty by omitting to count the votes in some of the returns. To count all the returns instead of only some is an administrative function which the commission had the authority and the duty to compel the board of canvassers to act when the latter refuses absolutely to make any canvass."cralaw virtua1aw library

Ramos v. Commission on Elections, supra, pags. 348-349.

Pero todav ia otra limitaci on a la facultad ejecutiva debe notarse. La facultad debe y puede ejercerse solamente antes de que alguna parte interesada pueda alegar derecho indisputable al cargo por vencimiento del plazo para protestar. En efecto, vencido que fuese ese plazo, el derecho al cargo queda investido fuera de toda disputa por el acta de proclamaci on, ya que la unica manera de priv arsele del cargo es mediante la protesta electoral prescrita por la ley.

En el caso de Concejo Municipal de Las Piñas v. Juez de Primera Instancia, supra, se declar o procedente un mandamus judicial en un caso id entico al de Mintu contra Enage, supra, y la sec. 2 del Art. X de la Constituci on no ha privado a los tribunales de dicha jurisdicci on. La jurisdicci on de los tribunales en la materia es cosa que pre-exist ia a la Comisi on y a esta se ha encargado, no usurpaci on de dicha jurisdicci on judicial sino observancia de dichas leyes, en el desempeño de sus funciones. De lo expuesto se sigue que, despu es de haber quedado firme el acta de proclamaci on de elecci on, por vencimiento del plazo para protestar, la Comisi on de Elecciones pierde toda la autoridad que anteriormente pod ia haber tenido de ordenar su anulaci on y alteraci on de modo que otro candidato resulte elegido en lugar del proclamado. Solo puede hacerse esto por orden judicial en los casos y en la forma prescritos por la ley.

Nos damos cuenta de que, asumiendo que hubo error de suma, el proclamado electo va a continuar en el cargo, no obstante no haber sido elegido para el mismo. Si esto no tiene ya remedio, el candidato y partido perjudicados no pueden quejarse, porque la culpa es de ellos por no haber desplegado un poco de vigilancia que lo hubiera evitado. Es el tributo que pagan por su descuido. Desde luego, no es el presente el recurso apropiado. Si puede serlo un quo warranto iniciado por el Procurador General por orden del Presidente de Filipinas conforme a la Regla 68, art. 3, de los Reglamentos, o mediante permiso del Juzgado conforme al art. 4 de dicha Regla, y si la prescripci on de acci on prescrita en el art. 16 de la citada regla ha quedado interrumpida, o si otro remedio m as existe, quaere. Lo que ahora debe enfatizarse es que no de curarse un error con otro error, esto es improvisando una facultad y un procedimiento irregular y arbitrario, por muy bien intencionado que esto fuese. Un r egimen bien ordenado requiere que los remedios se otorguen por la autoridad llamada por la ley a ello y conforme al procedimiento regular prescrito.

Voto por que se conceda el remedio solicitado, y consecuentemente que se dejen sin ning un valor ni efecto la orden de anulaci on de la proclamaci on de elecci on del recurrente ordenada por la Comisi on de Elecciones, as icomo la nueva proclamaci on de elecci on a favor de Gutierrez hecha en su virtud por la Junta Municipal de Escrutinio, sin especial pronunciamiento en cuanto a las costas.

REYES, J., dissenting:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

This is a petition for certiorari. As stated in the majority opinion, the only question posed is whether the Commission on Elections may order a municipal board of canvassers to correct a patent error committed by said board in adding up the total votes reported in the returns from the different precincts when the candidates erroneously proclaimed as a result of the wrong addition has already assumed office and the period for contesting his election has already expired. The returns are not here in dispute. The error in addition is admitted. Its correction is a purely clerical and ministerial task not calling for the exercise of judgment. And yet the majority opinion answers the question in the negative and would install in an elective public office one who, admittedly, has not been thereunto elected. To this I can not agree.

The facts are not in dispute. Isidro de Leon and Fortunato Gutierrez were among the candidates for municipal councilors of Makati, Rizal, voted for in the election held on November 13, 1951. There were 8 councilors to be elected, and on the basis of the votes shown in the election returns from the different precincts Gutierrez had occupied 8th place with a total of 3,098 votes in his favor as against 3,060 votes in favor of De Leon, his closest contender for that place. But due to a mistake in addition the municipal board of canvassers, which met on November 18, 1951, to canvass the returns, credited De Leon with 3,160 votes and proclaimed him the elected 8th councilor of the municipality.

Informed of the error committed by the municipal board of canvassers, Gutierrez on April 12, 1952, petitioned the Commission on Elections to annul the proclamation of De Leon and order the board to make a new canvass. De Leon opposed the petition. But the Commission, after hearing, granted the petition, annulled the proclamation in favor of De Leon and directed the board to reconvene and recanvass the votes received by these two candidates and proclaim the one that came out the winner according to the result.

Proceeding as directed by the Commission, the municipal board of canvassers reconvened on May 31, 1952, to recanvass the election returns and, having found that Gutierrez had polled more votes than De Leon, proclaimed the former elected 8th councilor of Makati.

The present petition, as amended, seeks the annulment of this proclamation as illegal and the restoration of petitioner to the office of 8th councilor of Makati. But it appears that petitioner has, in addition, filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal an election protest, dated June 2, 1952, contesting the election of Gutierrez.

It is admitted that the municipal board of canvassers had made a mistake in adding up the votes reported in the election returns and that due to this mistake in addition De Leon was proclaimed elected. The question presented is whether a mistake of that kind may be ordered corrected by the Commission on Elections after the candidate erroneously proclaimed has already assumed office.

Section 168 of the Revised Election Law provides that the municipal board of canvassers shall meet immediately after the election, count the votes cast for candidates for municipal offices as reported in the returns or statements of election from the different precincts "and proclaim as elected for said offices those who have polled the largest number of votes for the different offices." The next section then provides that immediately after the completion of the canvass, the board shall make a statement in quadruplicate of the results, which statement shall be signed by the members of the board present, and a copy of the same shall be filed with each of the offices mentioned in said section. The signing of this statement concludes the work of the board and for that reason the board is thereafter usually deemed functus oficio. But this notwithstanding, it has been held that where the board has made an illegal proclamation, it may thereafter, without any court order, meet again, annul the proclamation and make a new one (Yap v. Court of First Instance, 66 Phil., 112). And the board may also meet again to correct an error in its certificate when "by some proper authority it is ordered so to do." (Cordero v. Judge, 40 Phil., 246.) Thus, in the case of Municipality of Las Piñas v. Judge, 40 Phil., 279, where the board of canvassers had certified that a certain candidate for a municipal office received 139 votes in one precinct when actually he received 143 votes, it was held that the board could be ordered to reconvene to correct its certificate. Citing Paine on Elections, this Court said in that case that "until the board of canvassers had performed the exact duties imposed upon it by law it must be considered as in default."cralaw virtua1aw library

It is argued, however, that after the board has made its certificate of election only a court could order it to reconvene, and this seems to be implied in the decisions above cited. Petitioner also cites section 154 of the Revised Election Law which forbids "the board of inspectors" from altering or amending any of its statements after the announcement of the result of the election unless so ordered by a competent court. But the section cited refers to the election inspectors and not to the municipal board of canvassers, which, as declared in Galvez v. Miranda Et. Al., 36 Phil., 316, 320, is authorized "to correct clerical errors and other errors of a like character." And as to the decisions requiring judicial authority for making corrections, it should be recalled that those decisions were rendered before the creation of the Commission on Elections, the agency set up by the Constitution for "the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections" (Art. X, sec. 2, Constitution of the Philippines.)

The authority of the Commission on Elections in a proper case to annul a proclamation made by a municipal board of canvassers and order a new canvass of the election returns can no longer be doubted. That authority has already been upheld by this court in Mintu v. Enage, G. R. No. L-1834 (Dec. 31, 1947). In that case the Commission had annuled a proclamation made by a municipal board of canvassers on the basis of returns from only some of the election precincts, and this court ruled that the Commission in so doing had neither exceeded its jurisdiction nor committed a grave abuse of discretion. If the Commission has to correct an irregularity of this nature there is no reason why it may not also correct a mere clerical error such as that committed by the municipal board of canvassers in the present case. As stated by Mr. Justice Tuason in Ramos v. Commission on Elections, 45 Off. Gaz. (Supp. No. 9) 345, 348, "the Commission on Elections has both the power and the duty to correct any error committed by election officials in the ministerial and administrative matters which do not call for the exercise of judgment."cralaw virtua1aw library

There is nothing to the suggestion that the petition for correction which Gutierrez addressed to the Commission was but "a disguised election protest" cognizable only by the courts. The petition did not make it "necessary to go behind the returns and to consider questions touching the legality or irregularities of the election, or of fraud, illegal voting, etc." (Municipality of Las Piñas v. Judge supra.) All that was required was the correction of a manifest mistake in addition, which was a purely ministerial or mechanical duty. Not being an election protest, the petition for correction did not have to be filed in the Court of First Instance and within a time prescribed in section 174 of the Revised Election Law. The remedy invoked was purely administrative for which no prescription period has so far been provided. Neither could the fact that the candidate erroneously proclaimed has already assumed office preclude the exercise of the corrective power of the Commission. If the Commission had that power before the candidate assumed office, there can be no reason why it should not have that same power thereafter. The doctrine of estoppel or laches cannot properly be invoked in this case for the office of the municipal councilor is a public trust and it is against the law to have it occupied by one who is not the true choice of the electorate.

In view of the foregoing, I vote for the denial of the present petition for certiorari.

Padilla, Jugo and Concepcion, JJ., concur.

MONTEMAYOR, J., dissenting:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

In the learned dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Reyes, I fully concur. I just wish to stress the point that in ordering the correction of a clear, undisputed, simple mistake — either a clerical error or a mistake in addition the Commission on Elections did not exercise a judicial power of function and invade the province and jurisdiction of the courts, but it merely performed a purely administrative duty in connection with its being in charge of the enforcement and administration of laws related to the conduct of elections, and its right and obligation to decide, save those involving the right to vote, all administrative questions affecting elections, as set forth in the Constitution.

Respondent Gutierrez may have been a little negligent and lax in his vigilance. But his fault if any was his trust and confidence in the care and ability of the members of the Board of Canvassers to add short and simple numbers of two or three digits. Anyone of us unless extremely wary, and suspicious of fraud or deception, is liable to incur in the same laxity or fault and repose implicit confidence in the ability of the Board of Canvassers, composed of the members of the municipal council to perform a ministerial and mathematical duty — simple addition, known and daily performed by elementary grade pupils.

The ordinary citizen who makes up the bulk of our population, not versed in the law and its intricacies and technicalities, finds it difficult if not impossible to understand why a candidate for councilor receiving 3,060 votes is made to win over another candidate garnering a larger number of votes — 3,098, just because thru a clerical error or a mistake in addition the votes for the first candidate were made to appear as 3,160 instead of 3,060. Said ordinary citizen’s immediate and only reaction would be to wonder and ask why such a thing can happen in a free country, and why the error should not and cannot forthwith be corrected. He is confused, and added to his confusion, he is baffled by the refusal of the majority of this Tribunal to correct the mistake, and its insistence in continuing and perpetuating a grievious error — that of maintaining in the municipal council a candidate not duly elected thereto except thru a clerical error or mistake in addition, in place of another candidate receiving a larger number of votes and therefore the choice of the electorate:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Endnotes:



*. 80 Phil., 722.

1. Ahora, arts. 168 y 169, Cod. Electoral Revisado Ley No. 180 de la Re-publica.

2. Ahora cuadruplicado. Art. 169, Cod. Electoral Rev.




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March-1954 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. L-7207 March 4, 1954 - PABLO SANTOS v. DIRECTOR OF PRISONS

    094 Phil 491

  • G.R. No. L-5692 March 5, 1954 - SURIGAO CONSOLIDATED MINING CO., INC. v. EL ADMINISTRADOR DE RENTAS INTERNAS

    094 Phil 492

  • G.R. No. L-6901 March 5, 1954 - PIO S. PALAMINE, ET AL. v. RODRIGO ZAGADO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 494

  • G.R. No. L-6874 March 6, 1954 - POTENCIANO SAN JUAN, ET AL. v. BIENVENIDO A. TAN, ET AL.

    094 Phil 497

  • G.R. No. L-7028 March 6, 1954 - JOAQUIN VILLALUZ v. TITO CANDIDO

    094 Phil 501

  • G.R. No. L-5156 March 11, 1954 - CARMEN FESTEJO v. ISAIAS FERNANDO

    094 Phil 504

  • G.R. No. L-6158 March 11, 1954 - CEBU PORTLAND CEMENT CO. v. COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, ET AL.

    094 Phil 509

  • G.R. No. L-6229 March 11, 1954 - LUCIO LOPEZ v. ELIAS DE LA CRUZ, ET AL.

    094 Phil 517

  • G.R. No. L-5732 March 12, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FEDERICO FADER

    094 Phil 522

  • G.R. No. L-6337 March 12, 1954 - RUPERTA CAMARA, ET AL. v. CELESTINO AGUILAR, ET AL.

    094 Phil 527

  • G.R. No. L-6784 March 12, 1954 - NATIVIDAD MIRANDA v. DEPORTATION BOARD

    094 Phil 531

  • Resolution : In the Matter of the Petitions for Admission to the Bar of Unsuccessful Candidates of 1946 to 1953; ALBINO CUNANAN ET AL., petitioners. March 18, 1954 IN RE: CUNANAN, ET AL. : 094 Phil 534

  • G.R. No. L-5973 March 20, 1954 - MARCELO VEA v. CLAUDIO ACOBA, ET AL.

    094 Phil 597

  • G.R. No. L-7058 March 20, 1954 - VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, ET AL. v. EDUARDO ENRIQUEZ

    094 Phil 603

  • G.R. No. L-4816 March 23, 1954 - SURIGAO EXPRESS CO., INC. v. ADOLFO C. MORTOLA

    094 Phil 614

  • G.R. No. L-6940 March 23, 1954 - MARIANO LICLICAN, ET AL. v. MANUEL ARRANZ, ET AL.

    094 Phil 617

  • G.R. No. L-5656 March 24, 1954 - JUAN G. FELICIANO, ET AL. v. MARIANO ALIPIO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 621

  • G.R. No. L-6493 March 25, 1954 - EUGENIO S. DE GRACIA v. RAMON R. SAN JOSE, ET AL.

    094 Phil 623

  • G.R. No. L-5921 March 29, 1954 - SALVACION B. LONDRES v. NATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE CO. OF THE PHILIPPINES

    094 Phil 627

  • G.R. No. L-6706 March 29, 1954 - ALFREDO JAVIER v. ANTONIO G. LUCERO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 634

  • G.R. No. 6791 March 29, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. QUE PO LAY

    094 Phil 640

  • G.R. No. L-4958 March 30, 1954 - MONICO PUENTEVELLA, ET AL. v. FAR EASTERN AIR TRANSPORT, ET AL.

    094 Phil 644

  • G.R. No. L-4989 March 30, 1954 - MARCIANO INOCENTE, ET AL. v. MAMERTO S. RIBO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 652

    TABLE

  • G.R. No. L-5638 March 30, 1954 - LUZON LUMBER & HARDWARE CO. INC. v. MANUEL QUIAMBAO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 663

  • G.R. No. L-5758 March 30, 1954 - ISIDRO DE LEON v. HONORABLE DOMINGO IMPERIAL, ET AL.

    094 Phil 680

  • G.R. No. L-6269 March 30, 1954 - ANTONIO CHUA v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL.

    094 Phil 700

  • G.R. No. L-6298 March 30, 1954 - CONCEPCION MATURAN, ET AL. v. ARCADIO GULLES, ET AL.

    094 Phil 701

  • G.R. No. L-6308 March 30, 1954 - FEDERICO T. JUGADOR v. ZACARIAS DE VERA

    094 Phil 704

  • G.R. No. L-6382 March 30, 1954 - MANUEL LAPUZ v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

    094 Phil 710

  • G.R. No. L-6518 March 30, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FRANCISCO DIAZ

    094 Phil 714

  • G.R. No. L-6686 March 30, 1954 - BARTOLOME BARTOLOME v. AUDITOR GENERAL

    094 Phil 718

  • G.R. No. L-6835 March 30, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FAUSTO YADAO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 726

  • G.R. No. L-7026 March 30, 1954 - MARGARITA ESTACIO VDA. DE POSADAS v. MARIA NIEVRE, ET AL.

    094 Phil 729

  • G.R. No. L-7115 March 30, 1954 - EUGENIO N. BRILLO v. MANUEL ENAGE, ET AL.

    094 Phil 732