Matibag v Benipayo, Regalado v CA, Sebastian v Comelec, Osmena v Comelec
comelec case digests...
Matibag v Benipayo
Regalado v CA
Facts: Petitioner Matibag was appointed by the COMELEC en banc as Acting Director IV of the COMELEC’s Education and Information Department. Her appointment was renewed twice still in a temporary capacity. President GMA appointed, ad interim, respondent Benipayo as COMELEC Chairman and Borra and Tuason as COMELEC Commisioners. They took their oath of office but COA did not confirm their appointments. The President then renewed their rd appointment but Congress adjourned before COA could act on their appointment so for the 3 time, the President renewed their appointment. In his capacity as COMELEC Chairman, Benipayo issued a memorandum addressed to petitioner reassigning her to the Law Department. Petitioner requested Benipayo to reconsider her reassignment stating that under memorandum no. 7 transfer of employees are prohibited during election period but was denied by Benipayo stating COMELEC Resolution No. 3300 which says he can transfer or reassign personnel when necessary. She filed instant petition claiming that ad interim appointments of respondents violated the Constitutional provisions on the prohibition on temporary appointments and reappointments of its members.
Facts: Complainant Editha Barba was appointed nursing attendant in the Rural Health Office of Tanjay, Negros Oriental by then Officer-In-Charge Mayor Rodolfo Navarro. As Navarro decided to run for mayor of Tanjay in the January 18, 1988 elections, petitioner Dominador Regalado, Jr. was appointed substitute OIC-Mayor. Petitioner’s brother won in the elections. Four days later, on January 22, 1988, petitioner, still sitting as OIC-Mayor, issued a memorandum to Barba informing her that effective January 25, 1988, she would be reassigned from Poblacion, Tanjay to Barangay Sto. Niño, about 25 kilometers from Poblacion. The transfer was made without the prior approval of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Barba continued to report at the Puriculture Center, Poblacion, Tanjay, however. Hence, on February 18, 1988, petitioner issued another memorandum to Barba directing her to explain, within 72 hours, why she refuses to comply with the memorandum of January 22, 1988. In response, Barba, on February 21, 1988, sent a letter to petitioner protesting her  transfer which she contended was illegal. She then filed, on February 16, 1988, a  complaint against petitioner for violation of §261(h) of the Omnibus Election Code, as amended, and after preliminary investigation, the Provincial Election Officer of Negros Oriental, Atty. Gerardo Lituanas, charged petitioner before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Negros Oriental. RTC found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of Section 261, paragraph (h), of the Omnibus Election Code. CA upheld the RTC decision upon the appeal of petitioner Regalado. Petitioner contends, however, that he did not violate §261(h) because he merely effected a "re-assignment" and not a "transfer" of personnel by moving Barba from one unit or place of designation (Poblacion, Tanjay) to another (Sto. Niño, Tanjay) of the same office, namely, the Rural Health Office of Tanjay, Negros Oriental.
Issue: WON the ad interim appointment of the commissioners constitute a temporary/acting appointment prohibited by the constitution? If not, WON the subsequent appointments are void for violating the constitutional provisions against reappointments in the COMELEC? Held: Petition DISMISSED, the ad interim appointments are not temporary appointments. No, They are not reappointments. Ratio: The first appointments are ad interim appointments and are of a permanent capacity despite not being acted upon by the commission on appointments. These are not appointments in a temporary/acting capacity, which are prohibited by the constitution. Moreover, the conflict arises in this interpretation because the succeeding appointments are also ad interim appointments and are of permanent nature. Such action would go against the prohibition on reappointments. The court held that there is a distinction between a permanent appointment confirmed by the CoA and a permanent appointment that has not been confirmed. The court looked into the intent of the constitutional commission and found that the purpose of the prohibition was merely to ensure that the COMELEC commissioners do not serve beyond seven years and thus the subsequent reappointments do not go beyond the prohibition, as it does not extend their terms. In sum, the prohibition on reappointments applies only to those who have been confirmed by the CoA.
Issue: WON the “re-assignment” is permitted in line with the prohibition on transfer during the election period? Held: Petition is DISMISSED, it is actually a transfer as provided by PD 807 section 24. Ratio: Contrary to petitioner’s claim, a transfer under §24(c) of P.D. No. 807 in fact includes personnel movement from one organizational unit to another in the same department or agency. Moreover, §261(h) of the omnibus election code provides that it is an election offense for “Any public official who makes or causes any transfer or detail whatever of any officer or employee in the civil service including public school teachers, within the election period except upon prior approval of the Commission.” As the Solicitor General notes, "the word transfer or detail, as used [above], is modified by the word whatever. This indicates that any movement of personnel from one station to another, whether or not in the same office or agency, during the election is covered by the prohibition.” Finally, the memorandum itself issued by petitioner to Barba on January 22, 1988 stated that the latter was being "transferred."
Sebastian v COMELEC
Osmeña v COMELEC
Facts: Petitioner June Genevieve Sebastian was the mayoralty candidate in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, during the 1998 elections. Petitioner Dario Romano was her running mate. Private respondent Salvador Royo was the opposing mayoralty candidate, while private respondent Eric Estela was his candidate for vice mayor. On election day, as the Municipal Board of Canvassers was preparing to canvass the election returns, petitioners sought the exclusion from the canvass of several election returns from certain precincts in barangays Kimamon, New Katipunan, Lunga-og, Balagunan, Pantaron, and Tibal-og. Petitioners claimed that the election returns from these areas were prepared under "extreme duress, threat, intimidation and political pressure and influence." Petitioners also manifested that four election returns were missing. Municipal board of canvassers denied the motion and COMELEC first division dismissed the appeal. Meanwhile, the COMELEC Second Division, ruling on the remaining consolidated appeals in favor of petitioners and ordered the exclusion of 25 election returns from the canvass of votes in Sto. Tomas. On August 18, 1998, private respondent Royo filed a motion for reconsideration of said resolution. The COMELEC en banc reversed the ruling of the COMELEC Second Division. Hence this petition for certiorari seeking the annulment of the Resolution issued by respondent Commission on Elections, allowing the inclusion in the canvass of votes in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, of 25 election returns which petitioners claimed to have been prepared through threats and undue influence. What petitioners assert is that the preparation of the returns had been marred by undue influence and intimidation, thus affecting their regularity, due execution and authenticity. Petitioners argue that this justifies the examination of circumstances beyond the face of the returns.
Facts: This is a petition for prohibition, seeking a reexamination of the validity of §11(b) of R.A. No. 6646, the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987, which prohibits mass media from selling or giving free of charge print space or air time for campaign or other political purposes, except to the Commission on Elections. What petitioners seek is not the adjudication of a case but simply the holding of an academic exercise. And since a majority of the present Court is unpersuaded that its decision in NPC is founded in error, it will suffice for present purposes simply to reaffirm the ruling in that case. Stare decisis et non quieta movere. This is what  makes the present case different from the overruling decisions invoked by petitioners.
Issue: WON COMELEC can be made to disregard election returns in the absence of manifest errors on the face of the returns? Held: Petition is DISMISSED, COMELEC can only look into manifest errors in the election returns. Ratio: This petition stemmed from a pre-proclamation controversy. In a long line of cases, we have consistently held that a pre-proclamation controversy is limited to an examination of the election returns on their face. The COMELEC as a general rule need not go beyond the face of the returns and investigate alleged election irregularities. To require the COMELEC to examine the circumstances surrounding the preparation of election returns would run counter to the rule that a pre-proclamation controversy should be summarily decided. Where the resolution of the issues raised would require the COMELEC to "pierce the veil" of election returns that appear prima facie regular, the remedy is a regular election protest. We are constrained to agree with the OSG’s submission that on the basis of our holding in Salih v. COMELEC, 279 SCRA 19, respondent COMELEC herein "could not justifiably exclude said returns on the occasion of a pre-proclamation controversy whose office is limited to incomplete, falsified or materially defective returns which appear as such on their face.
Issue: WON the decision reached in NPC v. COMELEC is subject to reversal. Held: Petition is DISMISSED. The court sees no reason that the previous ruling should be reversed. Ratio: The term political “ad ban,” when used to describe §11(b) of R.A. No. 6646, is misleading, for even as §11(b) prohibits the sale or donation of print space and air time to political candidates, it mandates the COMELEC to procure and itself allocate to the candidates space and time in the media. There is no suppression of political ads but only a regulation of the time and manner of advertising. The law’s concern is not with the message or content of the ad but with ensuring media equality between candidates with “deep pockets,” as Justice Feliciano called them in his opinion of the Court in NPC, and those with less resources. There is no total ban on political ads, much less restriction on the content of the speech. Given the fact that print space and airtime can be controlled or dominated by rich candidates to the disadvantage of poor candidates, there is a substantial or legitimate governmental interest justifying exercise of the regulatory power of the COMELEC under Art. IX-C, §4 of the Constitution, which provides: “The commission may, during the election period, supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation of transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, all grants, special privileges, or concessions granted by the Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation or its subsidiary. Such supervision or regulation shall aim to ensure equal opportunity, time, and space, and the right to reply, including reasonable, equal rates therefor, for public information campaigns and forums among candidates in connection with the objective of holding free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.” The provisions in question involve no
suppression of political ads. They only prohibit the sale or donation of print space and air time to candidates but require the COMELEC instead to procure space and time in the mass media for allocation, free of charge, to the candidates. In effect, during the election period, the COMELEC takes over the advertising page of newspapers or the commercial time of radio and TV stations and allocates these to the candidates. Unlimited expenditure for political advertising in the mass media skews the political process and subverts democratic selfgovernment. What is bad is if the law prohibits campaigning by certain candidates because of the views expressed in the ad. Content regulation cannot be done in the absence of any compelling reason. The main purpose of §11(b) is regulatory. Any restriction on speech is only incidental, and it is no more than is necessary to achieve its purpose of promoting equality of opportunity in the use of mass media for political advertising.