A petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Romulo Macalintal, a memer of the Philippine Bar, seeking a declaration that certain provisions of RA 9189 (The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003) suffer from constitutional infirmity. He claimed that he has actual and material legal interest in the subject matter of this case in seeing to it that public funds are properly and lawfully used and appropriated, petitioner filed this petition as a taxpayer and as lawyer. R.A. No. 9189, entitled, “An Act Providing for A System of Overseas Absentee Voting by Qualified Citizens of the Philippines Abroad, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes,” appropriates funds under Section 29 thereof which provides that a supplemental budget on the General Appropriations Act of the year of its enactment into law shall provide for the necessary amount to carry out its provisions. Petitioner raises three principal questions for contention:
* That Section 5(d) of R.A. No. 9189 allowing the registration of voters, who are immigrants or permanent residents in other countries, by their mere act of executing an affidavit expressing their intention to return to the Philippines, violates the residency requirement in Art. V, Sec. 1 of the Constitution; * That Section 18.5 of the same law empowering the COMELEC to proclaim the winning candidates for national offices and party list representatives, including the President and the Vice-President, violates the constitutional mandate under Art. VII, Sec. 4 of the Constitution that the winning candidates for President and Vice-President shall be proclaimed as winners only by Congress; and * That Section 25 of the same law, allowing Congress (through the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee created in the same section) to exercise the power to review, revise, amend, and approve the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) that the COMELEC shall promulgate, violates the independence of the COMELEC under Art. IX-A, Sec. 1 of the Constitution.
1. Whether or not Section 5(d) of R.A. No. 9189 violates Art. V, Sec. 1 of the Constitution. 2. Whether or not Section 18.5 of R.A. No. 9189 violates Art. VII, Sec. 4 of the Constitution. 3. Whether or not Section 25 of R.A. No. 9189 violates Art. IX-A, Sec. 1 of the Constitution Ruling:
1. No, Sec 5(d) is valid. The Court has relied on the discussions of the members of the Constitutional Commission on the topics of absentee voting and absentee voter qualification, in connection with Sec. 2, Art. V of the Constitution, which reads: “Sec. 2. The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.”
It was clearly shown from the said discussions that the Constitutional Commission intended to enfranchise as much as possible all Filipino citizens abroad who have not abandoned their domicile of origin, which is in the Philippines. The Commission even intended to extend to young Filipinos who reach voting age abroad whose parents’ domicile of origin is in the Philippines, and consider them qualified as voters for the first time. That Section 2 of Article V of the Constitution is an exception to the residency requirement found in Section 1 of the same Article was in fact the subject of debate when Senate Bill No. 2104, which later became R.A. No. 9189, was deliberated upon on the Senate floor, further weakening petitioner’s claim on the unconstitutionality of Section 5(d) of R.A. No. 9189.
2. Yes, Section 18.5 is unconstitutional. Section 18.5 of R.A. No. 9189 is far too sweeping that it necessarily includes the proclamation of the winning candidates for the presidency and the vice-presidency, granting merit to petitioner’s contention that said Section appears to be repugnant to Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution only insofar as said Section totally disregarded the authority given to Congress by the Constitution to proclaim the winning candidates for the positions of President and Vice-President. Congress could not have allowed the COMELEC to usurp a power that constitutionally belongs to it or, as aptly stated by petitioner, to encroach “on the power of Congress to canvass the votes for President and Vice-President and the power to proclaim the winners for the said positions.”
3. Yes, Section 25 creating the JCOC is unconstitutional. The Commission on Elections is a constitutional body. It is intended to play a distinct and important part in our scheme of government. In the discharge of its functions, it should not be hampered with restrictions that would be fully warranted in the case of a less responsible organization.
The Commission on Elections, because of its fact-finding facilities, its contacts with political strategists, and its knowledge derived from actual experience in dealing with political controversies, is in a peculiarly advantageous position to decide complex political questions.
The Court has no general powers of supervision over COMELEC which is an independent body “except those specifically granted by the Constitution,” that is, to review its decisions, orders and rulings. In the same vein, it is not correct to hold that because of its recognized extensive legislative power to enact election laws, Congress may intrude into the independence of the COMELEC by exercising supervisory powers over its rule-making authority. In line with this, this Court holds that Section 25 of R.A. 9189 is unconstitutional and must therefore be stricken off from the said law. Japson vs COMELEC
[G.R. No. 180088. January 19, 2009]
Both Japson and Ty were candidate for the Office of Mayor of the Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar in the May 2007 local elections. Japson filed before the COMELEC a petition to disqualify or cancel Ty’s Certificate of Candidcay on the grounf of material misrepresentation. Japson alleged that Ty had been an American citizen and had been residing in the USA for the last 25 years. Moreover, Japson alleged that when Ty applied for certificate of candidacy, he never actually resided in Samar for a period of one year immediately preceding the date of election as required under Section 39 of RA 7160, and even after filing Ty’s application for reacquisition of his Philippine citizenship, he continued to make trips to the US.
The COMELEC First Division found that Ty complied with the requirements of Section 3 and 5 of RA 9225 and reacquired his Philippine citizenship. Ty executed an oath of allegiance and executed a Renunciation of Foreign Citizenship. Moreover, the COMELEC ruled that Ty did not commit material misrepresentation in stating in his Certificate of Candidacy that he was a resident of Samar. Issue:
Whether or not Ty was able to meet the citizenship and residency requirements Ruling:
Yes, Ty was repatriated under RA 9225 by his renunciation of his foreign citizenship and by executing his oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. ————————————————-
Ty’s intent to establish a new domicile of choice in Samar became apparent when , immediately after reacquiring his Philippine citizenship, he applied for a Philippine passport indicating in his application that his residence in the Philippines was at A. Mabini St. Barangay 6, Poblacion, General Macarthur, Eastern Samar. Moreover, he voluntarily submitted himself to the local tax jurisdiction of the municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar by paying community tax and securing CTCs from the said municipality. In addition, there is no basis for the court to require Ty to stay in and never leave at all the municipality for the full one-year period prior to the local elections.
Lewis vs COMELEC
[G.R. No. 162759.August 4, 2006]
The petitioners who already acquired Philippine Citizenship under RA 9225 prayed that they be allowed to vote as part of their right. When the petitioners sought registration and certification as Overseas Absentee Voters, they were advised by the Philippine Embassy in the US that a COMELEC letter stated that the petitioners have yet no right to vote due to their lack of one-year residence requirement prescribed by the Constitution. Petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus. A week before the May 10, 2004 elections, the COMELEC filed a comment. The Office of the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation on May 20, 2004 stating that all qualified overseas Filipinos including dual citizens who care to exercise the right of suffrage, may do so. However, the 2004 elections ended already, so the petition becomes moot and academic.
Whether or not petitioners and others who might have meanwhile retained and/or reacquired Philippine citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 may vote as absentee voter under RA 9189 Ruling:
Yes, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of RA 9189 become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath. There is no provision in RA 9225 requiring dual citizens to actually establish residence and physically stay in the Philippines first before they can exercise their right to vote. With the passage of RA 9225 , the scope of overseas absentee voting has been consequently expanded so as to include Filipinos who are also citizens of their countries, subject, however, to the strict prerequisites indicated in the pertinent provisions of RA 9225. ————————————————-
Considering the unison intent of the Constitution and RA 9189 and the expansion of the scope of that law with the passage of RA 9225, the irresistible conclusion is that dual citizens may now exercise the right of suffrage thru the absentee voting scheme.
Domino vs COMELEC
[G.R. No. 134015. July 19, 1999]
Juan Domino filed his certificate of candidacy for Representative of the Lone Legislative District of the Province of Sarangani in the May 1998 elections. However, private respondents filed with the COMELEC a petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy. They alleged that the petitioner is neither a resident nor a registered voter of the Province of Sarangani where he seeks election. The COMELEC Second Division disqualified the petitioner as candidate and ordered the cancellation of his certificate of candidacy. The votes cast for Domino were counted and he got the highest number of votes. So, he filed a motion for reconsideration but denied by the COMELEC en banc.
1. Whether or not the COMELEC has jurisdiction to deny or cancel the certificate of candidacy of the petitioner. 2. Whether or not petitioner is a resident of Sarangani Province for at least 1 year immediately preceding the May 1998 election Ruling:
1. Yes, the COMELEC has jurisdiction as provided in Section 78 Article IX of the Omnibus Election Code over a petition to deny due course to or cancel certificate of candidacy. It is within the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to determine whether false representations as to the material facts were made in the certificate of candidacy including the residence requirement.
2. No, the term residence as used in the law prescribing the qualifications for suffrage and for elective office, means the same thing as domicile which gives the intention to reside in a fixed place and personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. The petitioner’s domicile of origin was Candon, Ilucos Sur but acquired his domicile of choice at 24 Bonifacio St. Ayala Heights, Old Balara, Quezon City.
The petitioner contended that he already established his new domicile in Sarangani by leasing a house and lot located therein. However, the Court is unsatisfied with it. The lease contract may be indicative of Domino’s intention to reside in Sarangani, however, it does not produce the kind of permanency required to prove abandonment of his original domicile. ————————————————-
Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs Ang Bagong Bayani- OFW Labor Party GO! GO Philippines, et al [G.R. No. 147589. G.R. No. 147613. June 26, 2001]
On the registration period, the COMELEC approved the accreditation of 154 parties and organizations but denied those of several others in its assailed Omnibus Resolution No. 3785.
Moreover, Akbayan Citizens Action Party filed before the COMELEC a petition to delete from the Certified List of Political Parties/ Sectoral Parties/ Organizations/ Coalitions and that said certified list be accordingly amended. Bayan Muna and Bayan Muna- Youth also filed a petition for cancellation of Registration and Nomination against some herein respondents.
Ang Bagong Bayani- OFW Labor Party filed a petition assailing the COMELEC Omnibus Resolution No. 3785. Also, Bayan Muna filed a petition challenging the said resolution.
1. Whether or not the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in promulgating Omnibus Resolution No. 3785 2. Whether or not political parties may participate in the party-list elections 3. Whether or not party-list system is exclusive to marginalized sectors.
1. From its assailed Omnibus Resolution, COMELEC failed to appreciate fully the clear policy of the law and the Constitution in connection with the due process clause. Basic rudiments of due process require that the organizations or parties should first be given an opportunity to show that they qualify under the guidelines promulgated before they can be deprived of their right to participate in and be elected under the party-list system.
2. Yes, political parties may participate in the party-list elections. Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution provides that members of the House of Representatives may “be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.”Furthermore, under Sections 7 and 8, Article IX (C) of the Constitution, political parties may be registered under the party-list system.
For its part, Section 2of RA 7941 also provides for “a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, x x x.” Section 3 expressly states that a “party” is “either a political party or a sectoral party or a coalition of parties.”