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Tolentino V Comelec Case Digest

digest for tolentino vs comelec GR 148334 january 21 2004 (for article 6 section 9 of the Philippine Constitution)




Article VI, Sec. 9 (Special Election) TOLENTINO v. COMELEC GR 1488334 (01/21/04) Facts:    Pres. GMA, after her succession to the presidency in 2001, nominated Senator Guingona as VicePresident, thus, leaving a vacancy in the Senate. The Senate passed Res. 84 calling on COMELEC to fill the said vacancy through a special election to be held SIMULTANEOUSLY with the regular elections on May the same year. 12 senators each with a 6-yr term were to be elected. Res. 84 provided that  the candidate with the 13 th highest number of votes shall serve for the unexpired term of former Sen. Guingona (3 years). Gregorio Honasan ranked 13 th in the polls. COMELEC issued Res. 01-005 provisionally proclaiming the 12 senators (with 6-yr terms) and the 13 th senator (for the unexpired term). Petitioners (Tolentino and Mojica) filed a petition for prohibition against COMELEC, enjoining them from the final proclamation the 13 th senator, and prayed for the nullification of Res. 01-005. Issues: 1. 2. Procedural: WON petition is actually for quo warranto i to be decided by the Senate Electoral tribunal (and not the SC) On the merits: WON the special election was held validly: a s to the time of the special election negate the a. WON Comelec’s failure to give notice as calling of said election b. WON Comelec’s failure to give notice of office to be filled and the manner of  determining the winner misled voters c. WON separate canvassing and documentation for the special election was required Held: 1. 2. No. The petitioner does not seek to determine Honasan’s right in the exercise of his office in the Senate. What the petitioners allege is COMELEC’s failure to comply with certain requirements pertaining to the conduct of the special election. Hence, the court has jurisdiction. Yes. Special election was held validly. Hence, petition has no merit. a. No. Sec. 2 of RA 6645 (which was passed to implement art 6, sec. 9 of the constitution), EXPRESSLY PROVIDES that in case of a vacancy in the Senate, the special election shall be held simultaneously with the next succeeding regular regular election. In a special election, the rule is that if  a statute expressly provides that an election to fill the vacancy shall be held at the next regular election, the statute FIXES the date, hence, the election is NOT INVALIDATED by the fact that the body charged by law with the duty (in this case, COMELEC) failed to do so. (as opposed to if the law does not fix the time and place but empowers some authority to fix those, the statutory provision on the giving of notice is considered mandatory and failure to do so will make election void) The law then charges the voters with knowledge of the statutory notice and COMELEC’s failure to give additional notice does not negate the election. b. No. The test in determining the validity of a special election in relation to the failure to give notice is whether the lack of notice resulted in misleading a sufficient number of voters. The petitioners were not able to prove that COMELEC’s failure to gi ve the notice misled a sufficient  number of voters as would change the result of the vote. c. No. No such requirements exist. What is mandatory under RA 6645 is for COMELEC to fix the date if necessary and state the office/s to be voted for. The method adopted by COMELEC merely implemented RA No.84 that “the senatorial candidate garnering the 13 th highest number of votes shall serve only for the unexpired term of former Sen. Guingona” (an amendment introduced by Sen. Roco) “WHEREFORE, we DIMISS the petition for lack of merit. So ordered.” (Note however, that SC reminded  COMELEC to comply strictly with all the requirements under applicable laws relative to the conduct of elections) i A quo warranto proceeding is one that determines the right of a public officer in the exercise of his office