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Baytan vs.

COMELEC
G.R. No. 153945 February 4, 2003

CARPIO, J.:

FACTS: Petitioners, Reynato Baytan, Reynaldo Baytan and Adrian Baytan


were on their way to register for the May 1998 elections when they met the
newly elected Barangay Captain, Roberto Ignacio, in Barangay 18, Zone II of
Cavite City, who led them to register in Precinct No. 83-A of Barangay 18.

Upon realizing that their residence is situated within the jurisdiction of


Barangay 28 not Barangay 18, petitioners proceeded to Precinct 129-A of
Barangay 28 and registered anew.

Subsequently, petitioners sent a letter to former COMELEC Assistant


Executive Director Jose Pio O. Joson requesting for advice on how to cancel
their previous registration.

Petitioners’ Voters Registration Records were forwarded to the Provincial


Election Supervisor, Atty. Juanito V. Ravanzo, for evaluation, who,
subsequently, recommended filing an information for double registration
against petitioners. The COMELEC affirmed Ravanzo’s resolution. Petitioners
moved for reconsideration, which, was denied by COMELEC en banc.

Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion when it


recommended the prosecution of petitioners for double registration despite
lack of intent and substantial compliance with the requirement of cancellation
of previous registration.

HELD: No. There is no question that petitioners registered twice on different


days and in different precincts without canceling their previous registration.
Since "double registration" is malum prohibitum, petitioners’ claim of lack of
intent to violate the law is inconsequential. Neither is the letter to Joson an
application to cancel their previous registration. This letter was sent after
their second registration was accomplished and after the election officer of
Cavite City had already reported their act of double registration to a higher
official.

Moreover, petitioners’ claims of honest mistake, good faith and substantial


compliance with the Election Code’s requirement of cancellation of previous
registration are matters of defense best ventilated in the trial proper rather
than at the preliminary investigation.The established rule is that a
preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive
display of the parties’ evidence. It is for the presentation of such evidence
only as may engender a well-grounded belief that an offense has been
committed and the accused is probably guilty thereof.