(Question VIII, Political Law, 2018 Bar Exam)
Two petitions for the cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy (CoC)/Denial of Due Course were filed with the Comelec against two candidates running as municipal mayors of different towns.
The first petition was against Anselmo. Years ago, Anselmo was charged and convicted of the crime of rape by final judgment, and was sentenced to suffer the principal penalty of reclusion perpetua which carried the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification. While Anselmo was in prison, the President commuted his sentence and he was discharged from prison.
The second petition was against Ambrosio. Ambrosio’s residency was questioned because he was allegedly a “green card holder,” i.e., a permanent resident of the US, as evidenced by a certification to this effect from the US Embassy.
Acting on the recommendations of its Law Department, the Comelec en banc motu proprio issued two resolutions granting the petitions against Anselmo and Ambrosio.
Both Anselmo and Ambrosio filed separate petitions with the Supreme Court assailing the resolutions cancelling their respective CoCs. Both claimed that the Comelec en banc acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction because the petitions should have first been heard and resolved by one of the Comelec’s Divisions.
Are Anselmo and Ambrosio correct? (5%)
Both Anselmo and Ambrosio are correct. Answer
Under jurisprudence and COMELEC Rules of Procedure, a petition for the denial or cancellation of a certificate of candidacy must be heard summarily after due notice. It is thus clear that cancellation proceedings involve the exercise of the quasi-judicial functions of the COMELEC which the COMELEC in division should first decide. Rule
However, if the COMELEC En Banc may also motu proprio exercise its administrative functions to deny due course and/or to a certificate of candidacy in view of a candidate’s disqualification to run for elective office based on a final conviction. Rule
The key is knowing which of the function and power was exercised by COMELEC.
In the case at bar, it appears from the facts that the COMELEC exercised its quasi-judicial function and power when it resolved the petitions against Anselmo and Ambrosio. The resolution of the COMELEC was a ruling on the petitions, which is involved deciding on the merits of the case as evidenced by the fact that it was based on the recommendation of the Law Department which presumably evaluated the case. Apply
Thus, Anselmo and Ambrosio are correct. Conclusion
(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)
Lawyer, Author, Mentor