Monday, November 28, 2011

Sandra Y Eriguel vs. Commission on Elections and Ma. Theresa Dumpit-Michelena, G.R. No. 190526, February 26, 2010.

COMELEC; ballot appreciation. The records of the case indicate that the COMELEC en banc proceeded to conduct a fresh appreciation of the contested ballots without first ascertaining whether the ballots to be recounted had been kept inviolate. The COMELEC cannot proceed to conduct a fresh appreciation of ballots without first ascertaining the integrity thereof. 


COMELEC; elevation to en banc without division decision. The COMELEC, in the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions, is bound to follow the provision set forth in Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution, which reads: “SEC. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies.All such election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc.” 

It therefore follows that when the COMELEC is exercising its quasi-judicial powers such as in the present case, the Commission is constitutionally mandated to decide the case first in division, and en banc only upon motion for reconsideration. 

Indeed, it is a basic doctrine in procedural law that the jurisdiction of a court or an agency exercising quasi-judicial functions (such as the COMELEC) over the subject-matter of an action is conferred only by the Constitution or by law. Jurisdiction cannot be fixed by the agreement of the parties; it cannot be acquired through, or waived, enlarged or diminished by, any act or omission of the parties. Neither can it be conferred by the acquiescence of the court, more particularly so in election cases where the interest involved transcends those of the contending parties. 

This being so, the Special Second Division of the COMELEC clearly acted with grave abuse of discretion when it immediately transferred to the Commission en banc a case that ought to be heard and decided by a division. Such action cannot be done without running afoul of Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution. Instead of peremptorily transferring the case to the Commission en banc, the Special Second Division of COMELEC, should have instead assigned another Commissioner as additional member of its Special Second Division, not only to fill in the seat temporarily vacated by Commissioner Ferrer, but more importantly so that the required quorum may be attained. Sandra Y Eriguel vs. Commission on Elections and Ma. Theresa Dumpit-Michelena, G.R. No. 190526, February 26, 2010.

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