Jocelyn Limkaichong vs Commission on Elections

January 22, 2012
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583 SCRA 1 – Political Law – The Legislative Department – Jurisdiction of the Electoral Tribunals 

Jocelyn Limkaichong ran as a representative in the 1st District of Negros Oriental. Olivia Paras, her rival, and some other concerned citizens filed disqualification cases against Limkaichong. Limkaichong is allegedly not a natural born citizen of the Philippines because when she was born her father was still a Chinese and that her mom, though Filipino, lost her citizenship by virtue of her marriage to Limkaichong’s dad. During the pendency of the case against Limkaichong before the (Commission on Elections) COMELEC. Election day came and votes were cast. Results came in and Limkaichong won over her rival Paras. COMELEC after due hearing declared Limkaichong as disqualified. About 2 days after the counting of votes, COMELEC declared Limkaichong as a disqualified candidate.

On the following days however, notwithstanding their proclamation disqualifying Limkaichong, the COMELEC issued a proclamation announcing Limkaichong as the winner of the recently conducted elections. This is in compliance with Resolution No. 8062 adopting the policy-guidelines of not suspending the proclamation of winning candidates with pending disqualification cases which shall be without prejudice to the continuation of the hearing and resolution of the involved cases. Paras countered the proclamation and she filed a petition before the COMELEC. Limkaichong asailed Paras’ petition arguing that since she is now the proclaimed winner, the COMELEC can no longer exercise jurisdiction over the matter. It should be the HRET which should exercise jurisdiction from then on. COMELEC agreed with Limkaichong.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not the proclamation done by the COMELEC is valid.  

2. Whether or not COMELEC should still exercise jurisdiction over the matter.

HELD:

1. The proclamation of Limkaichong was valid.  The COMELEC Second Division rendered its Joint Resolution dated May 17, 2007.   On May 20, 2007, Limkaichong timely filed with the COMELEC En Banc her motion for reconsideration as well as for the lifting of the incorporated directive suspending her proclamation.   The filing of the motion for reconsideration effectively suspended the execution of the May 17, 2007 Joint Resolution.  Since the execution of the May 17, 2007 Joint Resolution was suspended, there was no impediment to the valid proclamation of Limkaichong as the winner.  Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides:

Sec. 2.  Period for Filing Motions for Reconsideration. – A motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division shall be filed within five (5) days from the promulgation thereof.  Such motion, if not pro forma, suspends the execution for implementation of the decision, resolution, order and ruling.

2. No. The HRET must exercise jurisdiction after Limkaichong’s proclamation. The SC has invariably held that once a winning candidate has been proclaimed, taken his oath, and assumed office as a Member of the lower house, the COMELEC’s jurisdiction over election contests relating to his election, returns, and qualifications ends, and the HRET’s own jurisdiction begins.   It follows then that the proclamation of a winning candidate divests the COMELEC of its jurisdiction over matters pending before it at the time of the proclamation.   The party questioning his qualification should now present his case in a proper proceeding before the HRET, the constitutionally mandated tribunal to hear and decide a case involving a Member of the House of Representatives with respect to the latter’s election, returns and qualifications.     The use of the word “sole” in Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution and in Section 250 of the OEC underscores the exclusivity of the Electoral Tribunals’ jurisdiction over election contests relating to its members.

 

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