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Jan 12, 2010

G.R. no. 150605, Dec. 10, 2002

  • If the validity of the proclamation is the core issue of the disqualification case, the proclamation of the candidate cannot divest Comelec en banc of its jurisdiction to review its validity
  • Ministerial duty of the House to administer oath of office to the winning candidate


Codilla, then sitting as Mayor of Ormoc City, and Locsin, the incumbent Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte, were candidates for the position of Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. A petition for disqualification was filed against Codilla for violating Sec. 68(a) of the Omnibus Election Code, alleging that he used the equipment and vehicles owned by the City Government of Ormoc to extract, haul and distribute gravel and sand to the residents of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte, for the purpose of inducing, influencing or corrupting them to vote for him.

At the time of the elections on May 14, 2001, the disqualification case was still pending so Codilla’s name remained in the list of candidates and was voted for. In fact, he garnered the highest number of votes. However, his proclamation as winner was suspended by order of the Comelec. After hearing of his disqualification case, he was found guilty and ordered disqualified.

Codilla’s votes being considered stray, Locsin was thus proclaimed as the duly elected Representative and subsequently took her oath of office. Codilla then filed a timely Motion for Reconsideration with the Comelec and also sought the annulment of Locsin’s proclamation.

  • Whether or not Comelec has jurisdiction to annul the proclamation of a Representative
  • Whether or not it is a ministerial duty of the House to recognize Codilla as the legally elected Representative


First. The validity of the respondent’s proclamation was a core issue in the Motion for Reconsideration seasonably filed by the petitioner.

Since the petitioner seasonably filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of the Second Division suspending his proclamation and disqualifying him, the COMELEC en banc was not divested of its jurisdiction to review the validity of the said Order of the Second Division. The said Order of the Second Division was yet unenforceable as it has not attained finality; the timely filing of the motion for reconsideration suspends its execution. It cannot, thus, be used as the basis for the assumption in office of the respondent as the duly elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte.

Second. It is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) which has no jurisdiction in the instant case.


(a)The issue on the validity of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division has not yet been resolved by the COMELEC en banc.

To stress again, at the time of the proclamation of respondent Locsin, the validity of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division was seasonably challenged by the petitioner in his Motion for Reconsideration. The issue was still within the exclusive jurisdiction of the COMELEC en banc to resolve. Hence, the HRET cannot assume jurisdiction over the matter.

In Puzon vs. Cua, even the HRET ruled that the “doctrinal ruling that once a proclamation has been made and a candidate-elect has assumed office, it is this Tribunal that has jurisdiction over an election contest involving members of the House of Representatives, could not have been immediately applicable due to the issue regarding the validity of the very COMELEC pronouncements themselves.” This is because the HRET has no jurisdiction to review resolutions or decisions of the COMELEC, whether issued by a division or en banc.

(b)The instant case does not involve the election and qualification of respondent Locsin.

A petition for quo warranto may be filed only on the grounds of ineligibility and disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines. In the case at bar, neither the eligibility of the respondent Locsin nor her loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines is in question. There is no issue that she was qualified to run, and if she won, to assume office.

A petition for quo warranto in the HRET is directed against one who has been duly elected and proclaimed for having obtained the highest number of votes but whose eligibility is in question at the time of such proclamation. It is evident that respondent Locsin cannot be the subject of quo warranto proceeding in the HRET. She lost the elections to the petitioner by a wide margin. Her proclamation was a patent nullity. Her premature assumption to office as Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte was void from the beginning. It is the height of absurdity for the respondent, as a loser, to tell petitioner Codilla, Sr., the winner, to unseat her via a quo warranto proceeding.

Ministerial duty of the House to administer the oath of office of a winning but nevertheless unproclaimed candidate

Under Rule 65, section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, any person may file a verified petition for mandamus “when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.” For a petition for mandamus to prosper, it must be shown that the subject of the petition for mandamus is a ministerial act or duty, and not purely discretionary on the part of the board, officer or person, and that the petitioner has a well-defined, clear and certain right to warrant the grant thereof.

The distinction between a ministerial and discretionary act is well delineated. A purely ministerial act or duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is discretionary and not ministerial. The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the same requires neither the exercise of official discretion or judgment.

In the case at bar, the administration of oath and the registration of the petitioner in the Roll of Members of the House of Representatives representing the 4th legislative district of Leyte is no longer a matter of discretion on the part of the public respondents. The facts are settled and beyond dispute: petitioner garnered 71,350 votes as against respondent Locsin who only got 53, 447 votes in the May 14, 2001 elections. The COMELEC Second Division initially ordered the proclamation of respondent Locsin; on Motion for Reconsideration the COMELEC en banc set aside the order of its Second Division and ordered the proclamation of the petitioner. The Decision of the COMELEC en banc has not been challenged before this Court by respondent Locsin and said Decision has become final and executory.

In sum, the issue of who is the rightful Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte has been finally settled by the COMELEC en banc, the constitutional body with jurisdiction on the matter. The rule of law demands that its Decision be obeyed by all officials of the land. There is no alternative to the rule of law except the reign of chaos and confusion.


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