Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Moreno vs. COMELEC, August 10, 2006

Facts: Norma Mejes filed a petition to disqualify Urbano Moreno from running for Punong Barangay on the ground that the latter was convicted by final judgment of Arbitrary Detention and was sentenced to suffer imprisonment of 4 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months by the RTC. Moreno filed an answer averring that the petition states no cause of action because he was already granted probation. Allegedly, following the case of Baclayon v. Mutia, the imposition of the sentence of imprisonment, as well as the accessory penalties, was thereby suspended. Moreno also argued that under the Probation Law, the final discharge of the probation shall operate to restore to him all civil rights lost or suspended as a result of his conviction and to fully discharge his liability for any fine imposed. The order of the trial court dated December 18, 2000 allegedly terminated his probation and restored to him all the civil rights he lost as a result of his conviction, including the right to vote and be voted for in the July 15, 2002 elections.

The Investigating Officer of the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor of Samar recommended that Moreno be disqualified from running. The Comelec First Division adopted this recommendation. On motion for reconsideration filed with the Comelec en banc, the Resolution of the First Division was affirmed.

In this petition, Moreno argues that the disqualification under Sec. 40(a)1 of the Local Government Code (LGC) applies only to those who have served their sentence and not to probationers because the latter do not serve the adjudged sentence. He alleges that he applied for and was granted probation within the period specified therefore. He never served a day of his sentence as a result. Hence, the disqualification under the LGC does not apply to him.

Issue: Whether or not Moreno is qualified to run, which is dependent on WON his sentence was served

Held: Moreno’s sentence was not served, hence he is qualified to run for Punong Barangay.

The resolution of the present controversy depends on the application of the phrase “within two (2) years after serving sentence” found in Sec. 40(a) of the LGC.

In Baclayon v. Mutia, the Court declared that an order placing defendant on probation is not a sentence but is rather, in effect, a suspension of the imposition of sentence. We held that the grant of probation to petitioner suspended the imposition of the principal penalty of imprisonment, as well as the accessory penalties of suspension from public office and from the right to follow a profession or calling, and that of perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage. We thus deleted from the order granting probation the paragraph which required that petitioner refrain from continuing with her teaching profession.

Applying this doctrine to the instant case, the accessory penalties of suspension from public office, from the right to follow a profession or calling, and that of perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage, attendant to the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period imposed upon Moreno were similarly suspended upon the grant of probation.

It appears then that during the period of probation, the probationer is not even disqualified from running for a public office because the accessory penalty of suspension from public office is put on hold for the duration of the probation.

Clearly, the period within which a person is under probation cannot be equated with service of the sentence adjudged. Sec. 4 of the Probation Law specifically provides that the grant of probation suspends the execution of the sentence. During the period of probation, the probationer does not serve the penalty imposed upon him by the court but is merely required to comply with all the conditions prescribed in the probation order.

Digg Google Bookmarks reddit Mixx StumbleUpon Technorati Yahoo! Buzz DesignFloat Delicious BlinkList Furl

0 comments: on "Moreno vs. COMELEC, August 10, 2006"

Post a Comment