Santos vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 235058, September 4, 2018

Facts:
Jennifer Antiquera Roxas (respondent) filed a certificate of candidacy for the position of member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the First District of Pasay City for the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections. Respondent filed a petition for disqualification against Rosalie Isles Roxas (Rosalie) before the COMELEC praying that the latter be declared a nuisance candidate because her certificate of candidacy (COC) was only filed for the sole purpose of causing confusion among the voters by the similarity of their names. She pointed out that Rosalie stated that her nickname was “Jenn-Rose,” to impersonate the former, when Rosalie’s real nickname was actually “Saleng.” Respondent also argued that Rosalie’s intent to confuse the voters was apparent because she chose the name “Roxas Jenn-Rose” to appear in the official ballot even though respondent, a re-electionist candidate, was already using the name “Roxas Jenny” for election purposes.

After the parties filed their respective memoranda, the case was submitted for resolution. Comelec granted the petition of the respondent. Accordingly, rosalie isles roxas was declared a nuisance candidate and her certificate of candidacy for mernber, sangguiniang [panlungsod] of Pasay city for the may 9, 2016 national and local elections was cancelled.

Rosalie filed a motion for reconsideration, consisting of three (3) pages, before the COMELEC. While the motion for reconsideration was pending with the COMELEC, the National and Local Elections proceeded on May 9, 2016. Respondent Ranked 7th in the said election with 33,738 votes while the Rosalie garnered 13,328 votes who ranked 14th.

The top six (6) candidates were proclaimed as duly elected members of the First District of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Pasay City. Respondent was not included because she ranked in 7th place; while Rosalie ranked in 14th place with 13,328 votes.

Respondent filed an Election Protest Ad Cautelam against Consertino C. Santos (Santos) before the COMELEC praying, among others, that the votes cast for Rosalie, who was declared a nuisance candidate, be credited to her, that the proclamation of Santos as a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the First District of Pasay be annulled, and that she be proclaimed as the winning candidate for the Sangguniang Panlungsod of First District of Pasay City. Later, respondent amended her protest and added Jerome Advincula, Alberto Alvina, Ma. Antonia Carballo Cuneta (Antonia) and Ricardo Escobar Santos (Ricardo), as they were also proclaimed as members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

Meanwhile, more than two (2) months after the elections, the COMELEC-En Banc issued a Resolution denying Rosalie’s motion for reconsideration and affirmed the Cancellation of her COC. The COMELEC-En Banc issued a Writ of Execution (first writ of execution) to implement the resolutions, to wit:

Ricardo filed a separate Petition for Annulment of the Illegal Proceedings of the Special Board of Canvassers of Pasay City with Extremely Urgent Prayer for Issuance of Status Quo Ante Order and Suspension of the Effects of the Illegal Proceedings. Ricardo also filed an Extremely Urgent Manifestation with Motion where he reiterated that the first writ of execution had been rendered moot by the election protest filed by respondent. Ricardo filed a Reiterative Omnibus Motion requesting/praying that the SCBOC be directed to cease and desist from recanvassing the votes. The COMELEC-En Banc issued its Order denying the motions of Ricardo for lack of merit and considering that there were other actions pending before the COMELEC that would sufficiently address the issues raised.

On the same day, the COMELEC-En Banc issued another writ of execution (second writ of execution) and ANNUL the proclamation of Jerome Ruiz Advincula, Ma. Antonia Carballo Cuneta, Alberto Cerdeña Alvina, Ricardo Escobar Santos, and Consertino Claudio Santos as the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the First District of Pasay City. Respondent was declared to garner 47,066 and ranked # 2. Santos, Ricardo and Antonia, collectively referred to as petitioners, were served with a copy of the second writ of execution.

Issue:
Whether the COMELEC En Banc erred in issuing the Writ of Execution pending appeal for lack of good reason.

Held:
No, A cancelled certificate cannot give rise to a valid candidacy, much less to valid votes. Said votes cannot be counted in favor of the candidate whose COC was cancelled as he or she is not treated as a candidate at all, as if he or she never filed a COC. Thus, a petition to declare a person a nuisance candidate or a petition for disqualification of a nuisance candidate is already sufficient to cancel the COC of the said candidate and to credit the garnered votes to the legitimate candidate because it is as if the nuisance candidate was never a candidate to be voted for.

It is a general rule that the writ of execution should conform to the dispositive portion of the decision to be executed, and that the execution is void if it is in excess of and beyond the original judgment or award, for it is a settled general principle that a writ of execution must conform strictly to every essential particular of the judgment promulgated. Nonetheless, the Court had held that a judgment is not confined to what appears on the face of the decision but extends as well to those necessarily included therein or necessary thereto.

Here, the crediting of the votes of the nuisance candidate to respondent as a legitimate candidate, whose names are similar, is a necessary consequence of the COMELEC’s declaration that Rosalie is a nuisance candidate. Consequently, the transfer of votes of the nuisance candidate to the legitimate candidate can be validly accomplished in the execution proceedings of the nuisance case.

Had the COMELEC promptly resolved the simple motion for reconsideration of Rosalie before the elections, then her name could have been removed from the ballots and prevented confusion among the voters with the similar names. That delay created the unwarranted present scenario. The upcoming election is not a valid excuse for the sluggish disposition of crucial cases for disqualification of nuisance candidates. Any delay on the part of the COMELEC increases the probability of votes lost due to the confusion brought about by nuisance candidates.

Nevertheless, the COMELEC can still rectify itself. The declaration of Rosalie as a nuisance candidate changed the result of the elections for the position of Members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the First District of Pasay City. Thus, the COMELEC must execute the second writ of execution immediately and without any further delay subject to the modification of the counting of votes in a multi-slot office.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: