Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Comelec rule: set aside tampered CoCs and recanvass using authentic CoCs

Republic of the Philippines
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
Intramuros, Manila

SECOND DIVISION


IN THE MATTER OF APPEAL FROM
THE RULINGS OF THE SPECIAL
PROVINCIAL BOARD OF
CANVASSERS OF THE PROVINCE OF
LANAO DEL NORTE


VICENTE F. BELOMONTE
Appellant-Petitioner,

-versus- SPC NO. 07-254
Promulgated:
JUL 10 2007
SPECIAL PROVINCIAL BOARD
OF CANVASSERS OF LANAO DEL
NORTE, ANGELIQUE DAWN
BADELLES and IMELDA Q.
DIMAPORO,
Appellees-Respondents.
X----------------------------X
Per Curism


R E S O L U T I O N


This is perhaps one of the more controversial cases pending with this Commission. Owing to the personalities involved and the issues herein raised, the Commission must proceed with proper caution and examine the facts and issues of this case with a fine toothed comb to arrive at the truth and ensure that the will of the electorate must be protected.

This is an appeal from the rulings of the SPBOC in the three (3) separate Petitions to Exclude the Certificates of Canvass (COC) of use these returns in the canvass votes. The broad power of the Commision to enforce and administer election laws gives it ample authority to direct the board of canvassers to include in the canvass only authentic returns. It is only when the disputed returns concerned will not affect the results of the election that the said returns claimed to be falsified need not be verified and canvass to proceed and proclamation made.16

In Pala Dipatuan vs. Commission on Elections et. al.17 the ruling therein would have square application in this controversy.

“It is evident from the above quuote3d portion [the 1st and 2nd paragraphs of Sec. 15, RA. No. 7166] that the prohibition is not absolute. Such pre-proclamation controversies are allowed (a)when there are manifest errors in the certificate of canvass or in the election returns, as the case maybe, and (b) when the composition of proceedings of the board are questioned. In the instant case may be, and (b) when the composition or proceedings of the board are questioned. In the instant case, there was more than manifest error in the questioned COC for the municipality of Madamba. As ruled by the PBC – and as affirmed in the challenged resolution of the COMELEC en banc and its first division – there was, infact, a substitution of the authentic copy of the COC with the spurious one: the latter, which the petitioner wants to be honored, was ordered excluded in the canvass. As we ruled in Pangarungan (supra), the Commission committed no grave error of dicretion in excluding spurious COC and in directing in excluding the spurious COC and in directing the PBC to prepare a new COC on the basis of the COMELEC copies of the election returns of Madamba” (SC Minutes En Banc, Thursday, December 10, 1992, pp. 19-20. Emphasis supplied.)

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission (Second Division) resolves to GRANT the Petition and the questioned Rulings of the respondent MBC is hereby REVERESED AND SET ASIDE. The questioned COCs are hereby ordered excluded and should not be canvassed.

The Board of Canvassers is hereby directed to RECONVENE here in Manila (for security purposes) and issue a new certificate of canvass of votes excluding the election returns subject of this appeal and substituting the proper entries as are evident in the authentic copies of the COC and from the authentic copies of the election returns related to the subject COCs. The winning candidate who garners the most number of votes in accordance with our observation shall after proper canvass be proclaimed by the Board of Canvassers.

SO ORDERED.



(Sgd.) FLORENTINO A. TUASON, JR.
Presiding Commissioner


(Sgd.) RENE V. SARMIENTO (Sgd.)NICODEMO FERRER
Commissioner Commissioner





CERTIFICATION

I hereby certify that the conclusions in the foregoing resolution were reached in the consultation with the other members of the Commission before the same was assigned to the writer of the opinion for the Commission (Second Division)



(Sgd.)FLORENTINO A. TUASON, JR.
Presiding Commissioner








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16 Agpalo, Comments on the Omnibus Election Code, 2004 ed., p. 408 409. see Pacis vs. Comelec, 22 SCRA 539

17 G.R. No. 107815