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Notes.Settled is the rule that in the prosecution for


the sale of dangerous drugs, the absence of marked money
does not create a hiatus in the evidence for the prosecution
as long as the sale of dangerous drugs is adequately proven
and the drug subject of the transaction is presented before
the court what is material to a prosecution for illegal sale
of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale
actually took place, coupled with the presentation in the
court of the corpus delicti as evidence. (Suson vs. People,
494 SCRA 691 [2006])
Informants are generally not presented in court because
of the need to hide their identity and preserve their
invaluable service to the police. (People vs. Del Mundo, 510
SCRA 554 [2006])
o0o

G.R. No. 180164. June 17, 2008.*

FLORENTINO P. BLANCO, petitioner, vs. THE


COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EDUARDO A.
ALARILLA, respondents.

Election Law The holding of periodic elections is a basic


feature of our democratic government. Setting aside the resolution
of the issue will only postpone a task that could well crop up again
in future elections.The Court holds that direct resort to this
Court through a special civil action for certiorari is justified in
this case since the Resolution sought to be set aside is a nullity.
The holding of periodic elections is a basic feature of our
democratic government. Setting aside the resolution of the issue
will only postpone a task that could well crop up again in future
elections. In this case, petitioner contends that in Blanco v.
COMELEC, 275 SCRA 762 (1997), he was found only
administratively liable for votebuying in the 1995 elections and
was disqualified under Sec. 68 of the Omnibus Election

_______________

*EN BANC.

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

Code, and that he was not disqualified under Sec. 261(a) and Sec.
264 of the Omnibus Election Code since no criminal action was
filed against him. He submits that his disqualification was limited
only to the 1995 elections and that it did not bar him from
running for public office in the succeeding elections.
Same Disqualification of Candidates Relevant to this case is
Codilla v. De Venecia (393 SCRA 639 [2002]), which held that the
jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify candidates is limited
to those enumerated in Sec. 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.
Relevant to this case is Codilla v. De Venecia, 393 SCRA 639
[2002]), which held that the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to
disqualify candidates is limited to those enumerated in
Sec. 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, thus: . . . [T]he
jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify candidates is limited
to those enumerated in section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.
All other election offenses are beyond the ambit of COMELEC
jurisdiction. They are criminal and not administrative in nature.
Pursuant to sections 265 and 268 of the Omnibus Election Code,
the power of the COMELEC is confined to the conduct of
preliminary investigation on the alleged election offenses for the
purpose of prosecuting the alleged offenders before the regular
courts of justice, viz.
Same Since there is no proof that petitioner was convicted of
an election offense under the Omnibus Election Code and
sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office, the
COMELEC, Second Division, committed grave abuse of discretion
in pronouncing that absent any showing that petitioner had been
bestowed a presidential pardon, amnesty or any other form of
executive clemency, petitioners disqualification from being a
candidate for an elective position remains.Since there is no proof
that petitioner was convicted of an election offense under the
Omnibus Election Code and sentenced to suffer disqualification to
hold public office, the COMELEC, Second Division, committed
grave abuse of discretion in pronouncing that absent any showing
that petitioner had been bestowed a presidential pardon, amnesty
or any other form of executive clemency, petitioners
disqualification from being a candidate for an elective position
remains.
Same The suspension of his proclamation was made permanent,
so petitioner never held office from which he could be removed.

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Removal from office entails the ouster of an incumbent

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

before the expiration of his term. In G.R No. 122258, petitioner


was disqualified from continuing as a candidate for the
mayoralty position in the May 8, 1995 elections. The suspension
of his proclamation was made permanent, so petitioner never held
office from which he could be removed.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court.


Certiorari.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Karaan and Karaan Law Office for petitioner.
Lorna Imelda M. Suarez for respondent.

AZCUNA, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari1 alleging that the


Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Second Division,
acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in issuing the Resolution dated
August 28, 2007 disqualifying petitioner from running for
an elective office in the May 14, 2007 National and Local
Elections.
The facts are as follows:
Petitioner Florentino P. Blanco was the mayor of
Meycauayan, Bulacan from 1987 up to 1992.
During the May 8, 1995 elections, petition ran as a
candidate for the same mayoralty position and won during
the canvassing by more than 6,000 votes over private
respondent Eduardo A. Alarilla. Private respondent filed a
petition for the disqualification of petitioner on the ground
of votebuying which resulted in the suspension of
petitioners proclamation.
On August 15, 1995, public respondent issued a
resolution disqualifying petitioner as candidate for the said
position due to violation of Sec. 261 (a) of the Omnibus
Election Code. This Court affirmed the disqualification
under Sec. 68 of the Om

_______________

1Under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court.

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

nibus Election Code in Blanco v. COMELEC,2 G.R. No.


122258, which was promulgated on July 21, 1997.
During the 1998 elections, petitioner again ran as a
mayoralty candidate. Domiciano G. Ruiz, a voter of
Meycauayan, Bulacan, sought to disqualify him on the
basis of the Courts ruling in G.R. No. 122258.
On April 30, 1998, the COMELEC, Second Division,
issued a resolution in SPA No. 98043 dismissing the
petition for disqualification on the ground that petitioner
was not disqualified under Sec. 68 of the Omnibus Election
Code as his previous disqualification in the May 8, 1995
elections attached only during that particular election.
Moreover, the COMELEC stated that no criminal
action was instituted against [petitioner], much less a
judgment of conviction for votebuying under Sec. 261 (a) of
the Omnibus Election Code has been rendered against
[petitioner] in order that Section 264 of the same [Code]
providing for the accessory penalty of disqualification from
holding public office may attach to [petitioner].
During the May 14, 2001 elections, petitioner again ran
for a mayoralty position, but private respondent sought
petitioners disqualification based on the Courts ruling in
G.R. No. 122258.
On May 11, 2001, the COMELEC, Second Division,
issued a resolution in SPA No. 01050, this time
disqualifying petitioner from running for a mayoralty
position in the May 14, 2001 elections under Sec. 40 (b) of
the Local Government Code for having been removed from
office through an administrative case. It denied petitioners
motion for reconsideration for having been filed beyond the
5day reglementary period.
During the May 10, 2004 elections, petitioner again ran
as a mayoralty candidate, but private respondent sought to
dis

_______________

2G.R. No. 122258, July 21, 1997, 275 SCRA 762.

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

qualify him based on the Courts ruling in G.R. No. 122258.


Petitioner withdrew his certificate of candidacy, so the
petition for disqualification was dismissed for being moot.
Apprehensive that he would encounter another petition
for disqualification in succeeding elections, petitioner filed
a petition for declaratory relief before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan, for the issuance of a
judgment declaring him eligible to run for public office in
contemplation of Sec. 40 (b) of the Local Government Code
and Secs. 68, 261(a) and 264 of the Omnibus Election Code.
In a Decision dated November 6, 2005, the RTC declared
petitioner eligible to run for an elective office.
During the May 14, 2007 elections, petitioner ran anew
for a mayoralty position. Again, private respondent sought
the disqualification of petitioner based on the Courts
ruling in G.R. No. 122258 and the COMELEC Resolution
dated May 11, 2001 in SPA No. 01050.
On August 28, 2007, the COMELEC, Second Division,
issued a resolution in SPA Case No. 07410 disqualifying
petitioner from running in the May 14, 2007 elections on
the ground that Blanco v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 122258,
affirmed its disqualification of petitioner in the May 8,
1995 elections, and that the COMELEC Resolution in SPA
No. 01050 also disqualified petitioner under Sec. 40 (b) of
the Local Government Code. The COMELEC stated that
since petitioner failed to show that he had been bestowed a
presidential pardon, amnesty or other form of executive
clemency, there is no reason to disturb its findings in SPA
No. 01050.
Hence, this petition praying that the COMELEC
Resolution dated August 28, 2007 be reversed and set
aside, and that petitioner be declared as eligible to run for
public office.
Petitioner raised these issues:

I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COMELEC, SECOND DIVISION,
GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN RULING THAT
PETI

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760 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

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tioner is disqualified to run for an elective office by reason of the


Courts ruling in Blanco v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 122258, as well
as the Resolution of the COMELEC in SPA No. 01050.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COMELEC, SECOND DIVISION,
GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN RULING THAT
PETITIONER IS DISQUALIFIED TO RUN FOR AN ELECTIVE
OFFICE SINCE HE HAS NOT BEEN BESTOWED A
PRESIDENTIAL PARDON, AMNESTY OR ANY FORM OF
EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY.3

The initial issue that has to be determined is whether


the Court can take cognizance of this case since petitioner
did not file a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution of
the COMELEC, Second Division before the COMELEC en
banc as he went directly to this Court by filing this petition
in accordance with Sec. 7 of Article IXA of the
Constitution, which provides:

Section 7. Each commission shall decide by a majority vote


of all its members any case or matter brought before it within
sixty days from the date of its submission for decision or
resolution. A case or matter is deemed submitted for decision or
resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or
memorandum required by the rules of the commission or by the
commission itself. Unless otherwise provided by this constitution
or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each commission may
be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved
party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof.

Soriano v. COMELEC4 and Repol v. COMELEC5 gave


the Courts interpretation of Sec. 7, Article IXA of the
Constitution, thus:

_______________

3Rollo, p. 8.
4G.R. Nos. 164496505, April 2, 2007, 520 SCRA 88, 105.
5G.R. No. 161418, April 28, 2004, 428 SCRA 321, 330.

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VOL. 554, JUNE 17, 2008 761


Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

We have interpreted this constitutional provision to mean


final orders, rulings and decisions of the COMELEC rendered in
the exercise of its adjudicatory or quasijudicial powers. The
decision must be a final decision or resolution of the COMELEC
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en banc. The Supreme Court has no power to review via certiorari


an interlocutory order or even a final resolution of a Division of
the COMELEC. Failure to abide by this procedural requirement
constitutes a ground for dismissal of the petition.

However, this rule is not ironclad. In ABSCBN


Broadcasting Corporation v. COMELEC, we stated

This Court, however, has ruled in the past that this


procedural requirement [of filing a motion for reconsideration]
may be glossed over to prevent a miscarriage of justice, when the
issue involves the principle of social justice or the protection of
labor, when the decision or resolution sought to be set
aside is a nullity, or when the need for relief is extremely urgent
and certiorari is the only adequate and speedy remedy available.6

The Court holds that direct resort to this Court through


a special civil action for certiorari is justified in this case
since the Resolution sought to be set aside is a nullity. The
holding of periodic elections is a basic feature of our
democratic government.7 Setting aside the resolution of the
issue will only postpone a task that could well crop up
again in future elections.8
In this case, petitioner contends that in Blanco v.
COMELEC, G.R. No. 122258, he was found only
administratively liable for votebuying in the 1995 elections
and was disqualified under Sec. 68 of the Omnibus Election
Code, and that he was not disqualified under Sec. 261(a)
and Sec. 264 of the Omnibus Election Code since no
criminal action was filed against him. He submits that his
disqualification was limited

_______________

6Emphasis supplied.
7Supra, note 5, at p. 331.
8Ibid.

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762 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

only to the 1995 elections and that it did not bar him from
running for public office in the succeeding elections.
Petitioners contention is meritorious.
The Court notes that the Office of the Solicitor General,
in its Comment, found this petition meritorious.

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Petitioners disqualification in 1995 in Blanco v.


COMELEC, G.R. No. 122258, was based on Sec. 68 of the
Omnibus Election Code, although the COMELEC, Second
Division, pronounced that petitioner violated 261 (a) of the
Omnibus Election Code.
Sec. 68 and Sec. 261 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code
provide:

Sec. 68. Disqualifications.Any candidate who, in an action


or protest in which he was a party is declared by final decision of
a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of having
(a) given money or other material consideration to
influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials
performing electoral functions (b) committed acts of
terrorism to enhance his candidacy (c) spent in his election
campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by this Code (d)
solicited, received or made any contribution prohibited under
Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104 or (e) violated any of Sections 80,
83, 85, 86 and 261, paragraphs d, e, k, v, and cc, subparagraph 6,
shall be disqualified from continuing as a candidate, or if
he has been elected, from holding the office. Any person who
is a permanent resident of or an immigrant to a foreign country
shall not be qualified to run for any elective office under this
Code, unless said person has waived his status as permanent
resident or immigrant of a foreign country in accordance with the
residence requirement provided for in the election laws.9
Sec. 261. Prohibited Acts.The following shall be guilty of an
election offense:
(a) Votebuying and voteselling.(1) Any person who gives,
offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises
any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or
makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or
cause an

_______________

9Emphasis supplied.

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation,


entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in
general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote
in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the
nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar
selection process of a political party.
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In Blanco v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 122258, the Court


held:

. . . Votebuying has its criminal and electoral aspects. Its


criminal aspect to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused
cannot be the subject of summary hearing. However, its electoral
aspect to ascertain whether the offender should be disqualified
from office can be determined in an administrative proceeding
that is summary in character.10

In Lanot v. COMELEC,11 the Court further explained:

. . . The electoral aspect of a disqualification case determines


whether the offender should be disqualified from being a
candidate or from holding office. Proceedings are summary in
character and require only clear preponderance of evidence. An
erring candidate may be disqualified even without prior
determination of probable cause in a preliminary investigation.
The electoral aspect may proceed independently of the criminal
aspect, and vice versa.
The criminal aspect of a disqualification case determines
whether there is probable cause to charge a candidate for an
election offense. The prosecutor is the COMELEC, through its
Law Department, which determines whether probable cause
exists. If there is probable cause, the COMELEC, through its Law
Department, files the criminal information before the proper
court. Proceedings before the proper court demand a fullblown
hearing and require proof beyond reasonable doubt to convict. A
criminal conviction shall result in the disqualification of the
offender, which may even include disqualification from holding a
future public office.12

_______________

10Supra, note 2, at p. 777.


11G.R. No. 164858, November 16, 2006, 507 SCRA 114.
12Id., at pp. 139140.

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

Petitioners disqualification in 1995 was resolved by the


COMELEC in a summary proceeding. The COMELEC only
determined the electoral aspect of whether petitioner
should be disqualified as a candidate. It resolved to
DISQUALIFY [petitioner] Florentino P. Blanco as a

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candidate for the Office of Mayor of Meycauayan, Bulacan


in the May 8, 1995 elections for having violated Section 261
(a) of the Omnibus Election Code. This Court, in G.R. No.
122258, affirmed only the electoral aspect of the
disqualification made by COMELEC, which falls under Sec.
68 of the Omnibus Election Code:

Sec. 68. Disqualifications.Any candidate who, in an action


or protest in which he was a party is declared by final decision of
a competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of having
(a) given money or other material consideration to
influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials
performing electoral functions x x x shall be disqualified
from continuing as a candidate, or if he has been elected,
from holding the office. . . .

Hence, in G.R. No. 122258, petitioner was disqualified


from continuing as a candidate only in the May 8, 1995
elections.
Relevant to this case is Codilla v. De Venecia,13 which
held that the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to
disqualify candidates is limited to those enumerated
in Sec. 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, thus:

. . . [T]he jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify


candidates is limited to those enumerated in section 68 of the
Omnibus Election Code. All other election offenses are beyond the
ambit of COMELEC jurisdiction. They are criminal and not
administrative in nature. Pursuant to sections 265 and 268 of the
Omnibus Election Code, the power of the COMELEC is confined
to the conduct of preliminary investigation on the alleged election
offenses for the purpose of prosecuting the alleged offenders
before the regular courts of justice, viz.:

_______________

13G.R. No. 150605, December 10, 2002, 393 SCRA 639.

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

Section 265. Prosecution.The Commission shall,


through its duly authorized legal officers, have the exclusive
power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election
offenses punishable under this Code, and to prosecute the
same. The Commission may avail of the assistance of other
prosecuting arms of the government: Provided, however,

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That in the event that the Commission fails to act on any


complaint within four months from its filing, the
complainant may file the complaint with the office of the
fiscal or with the Ministry of Justice for proper
investigation and prosecution, if warranted.
xxx
Section 268. Jurisdiction of courts.The regional trial
court shall have the exclusive original jurisdiction to try
and decide any criminal action or proceeding for violation of
this Code, except those relating to the offense of failure to
register or failure to vote which shall be under the
jurisdictions of metropolitan or municipal trial courts. From
the decision of the courts, appeal will lie as in other
criminal cases.14

The records did not show that a criminal complaint was


filed against petitioner for the election offense of vote
buying under Sec. 261 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code.
There was also no evidence that the accessory penalty of
disqualification to hold public office under Sec. 26415 of the
same Code was imposed on petitioner by the proper court
as a consequence of conviction for an election offense.

_______________

14Id., at pp. 670671.


15 Omnibus Election Code, Sec. 264. Penalties.Any person found
guilty of any election offense under this Code shall be punished with
imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and
not be subject to probation. In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced
to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right
of suffrage. If he is a foreigner, he shall be sentenced to deportation which
shall be enforced after the prison term has been served. Any political
party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than ten
thousand pesos, which shall be imposed upon such party after criminal
action has been instituted in which their corresponding officials have been
found guilty.

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

Since there is no proof that petitioner was convicted of


an election offense under the Omnibus Election Code and
sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office, the
COMELEC, Second Division, committed grave abuse of
discretion in pronouncing that absent any showing that
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petitioner had been bestowed a presidential pardon,


amnesty or any other form of executive clemency,
petitioners disqualification from being a candidate for an
elective position remains.
In view of the above ruling, the second issue raised by
petitioner regarding the necessity of a presidential pardon
in order for him to be able to run for an elective office need
not be discussed.
Petitioner also contends that the COMELEC gravely
abused its discretion in ruling that he was disqualified
from running for a mayoralty position under Sec. 40 (b) of
the Local Government Code16 for having been removed
from office as a result of an administrative case.
Petitioners contention is meritorious.
Removal from office entails the ouster of an incumbent
before the expiration of his term.17 In G.R No. 122258,
petitioner was disqualified from continuing as a
candidate for the mayoralty position in the May 8, 1995
elections. The suspension of his proclamation was made
permanent, so petitioner never held office from which he
could be removed.
In fine, therefore, the COMELEC, Second Division,
committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying
petitioner from running for an elective position under Sec.
40 (b) of the Local Government Code in its Resolutions in
SPA No. 01050

_______________

16Sec. 40. Disqualifications.The following persons are disqualified


from running for any elective local position:
xxx
(b) Those removed from office as a result of an administrative case.
17Aparri v. Court of Appeals, L30057, January 31, 1984, 127 SCRA
231, 241.

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Blanco vs. Commission on Elections

dated May 11, 2001 and in SPA No. 07410 dated August
28, 2007. The grave abuse of discretion attending the
Resolution in this case is tantamount to lack of jurisdiction
and thus renders it a nullity, thereby allowing this Court to
grant this petition directly against the Resolution of the
COMELECs Second Division.18

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WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The


Resolution of the COMELEC, Second Division, in SPA Case
No. 07410, promulgated on August 28, 2007, is declared
NULL and SET ASIDE, and petitioner Florentino P.
Blanco is held eligible to run for an elective office.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Puno (C.J.), Quisumbing, YnaresSantiago, Carpio,


AustriaMartinez, Corona, Tinga, ChicoNazario, Reyes,
LeonardoDe Castro and Brion, JJ., concur.
CarpioMorales, Velasco, Jr. and Nachura, JJ., On
Official Leave.

Petition granted, resolution declared null and set aside.

Notes.The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is


mandated to ascertain by all means within its command
who the real candidate elected by the electorate is.
(Suliguin vs. Commission on Elections, 485 SCRA 219
[2006])
It is the courts decision that should prevail between the
determination by the trial court of who of the candidates
won the elections and the finding of the Board of
Canvassers as to whom to proclaim. (Dojillo vs.
Commission on Elections, 496 SCRA 484 [2006])
o0o

_______________

18Supra, note 4.

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