Bello v COMELEC
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8/9/2011 7:27:00 AM Bello v COMELEC FACTS The Ang Galing Pinoy Party-List (AGPP), representing the sector of security guards and tricycle drivers, sought for party-list representation in the May 2010 elections. Its first nominee was Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo. On March 25, COMELEC issued Resolution No. 8807 which prescribed the rules on disqualification cases against nominees of party-list groups/ organizations in the May 2010 elections. Sec. 6 provides that the party-list group and the nominees must submit documentary evidence to duly prove that the nominees truly belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, and to the sectoral party/organization/political party/coalition they seek to represent. Sec. 10 says that COMELEC may motu proprio ("on his own impulse") effect the disqualification of party- list nominees who violate any of the limitations mentioned in Sec. 7 of the Resolution. Sec. 8, Rule 32 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure states that COMELEC may cancel motu proprio the registration of any party registered under the party-list system ofr failure to comply with applicable laws, rules or regulations of the COMELEC. The deadline for submitting the requirements mentioned in Sec. 6 of Res. 8807 was March 29, 2010. On March 25, members of the Bayan Muna Party-lIst filed a petition for disqualification against Arroyo. They alleged that Arroyo cannot be considered a member of the marginalized and underrepresented sector which AGPP represents (tricycle drivers and security guards) because he is (at that time) not only a member of the First Family, but also (a) an incumbent member of the House of Representatives, (b) the Chairman of the House's Energy Committee, and (c) a member of key committees in the House. Arroyo counter-argued that the COMELEC had no jurisdiction over issues involving the qualifications of party-list nominees. Sec. 9 of RA 7941 merely requires that the party-list nominee be a bona fide member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent at least 90 days preceding the day of election. On Martch 30, the Bayan Muna Party-List filed with COMELEC another petition for disqualification against Arroyo. This time they added that Arroyo is not a bona fide meember of the AGPP 90 days prior to the May 2010 elections. In this case, Arroyo again counter-argued that COMELEC had no jurisdiction.
On April 6, petitions Walden Bello and Loretta Ann Rosales wrote to the COMELEC Law Department a letter requesting for a copy of the documentary evidence submitted by AGPP, in compliance with Sec. 6 or Res. 8807. The Law Department replied on the same day that a of that date, the AGPP had not yet submitted any documentary evidence required by Res. 8807. On April 7, the petitioners requested the COMELEC and its Law Department to disqualify the nominees of AGPP for their failure to comply with the requirements of Secc. 6 of Res. 8807. The COMELEC failed to respond to both letter. In its May 7, 2010 Joint Resolution, the COMELEC 2nd Division dismissed the petitions for disqualification against Arroyo. It noted that Sec. 9 of RA 7941 merely requires the nominee to be a bona fide member of the arty or organization he seeks to represent for at least 90 days preceding the day of elections. It found that Arroyo became a member of the party on Nov. 20, 2009, he actively participated in the undertakings of AGPP and adhered to its advocacies, and actively supported its meetings and other programs. The COMELEC en banc echoed the 2nd Division's decision and concluded that Arroyo possessed all the requirements mandated by Sec. 9 of RA 7941. On May 7, the petitioners filed to the SC their petition for mandamus and prohibition with application for temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction. AGPP obtained sufficient number of votes to qualify a seat in the House of Representatives and on July 21, Arroyo was proclaimed and took his oath. On July 28 and 29, two separate petitions for quo warranto were filed with the HRET questioning Arroyo's eligibility. ISSUES, HELD and RATIO Was a mandamus a proper petition to compel the COMELEC to disqualify AGPP's nominees? No. The petition for mandamus violates the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies. There was another plain, speedy and adequate remedy for the petitioners so under Sec. 3 of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the Court cannot take cognizance of the premature case. Sec. 2 in relation of Sec. 4 of COMELEC Res. 8807, and Sec. 6 of RA 7941, any interested party may file a petition for disqualification or a verified complaint for the cancellation of registration of a party-list nominee or organization. The petitioners failed to do so. They should have filed the proper petition for disqualification.
While the letters to COMELEC asking for the disqualification of Arroyo are technically objections to Arroyo an AGPP's registration, they are not formal petitions for disqualification. Did the Court have jurisdiction to her the case? No. Arroyo was proclaimed as party-list representative. Party-list representatives are members of the House of Representatives, according to Sec. 5, Art. VI of the Constitution. The HRET is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the House of Representatives. Petition dismissed.
8/9/2011 7:27:00 AM
8/9/2011 7:27:00 AM