Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cristobal vs. Labrador

Facts: The CFI of Rizal found respondent Santos guilty of estafa and was confined in the provincial jail for 6 months. However, he continued to be a registered elector in the city of Malabon, Rizal and was seated as the municipal president from 1934 to 1937. On 1938, Commonwealth Act No 357 or the Election Code, was approved by the National Assembly. Section 94, paragraph (b) of which disqualifies the respondent from voting for having been “declared by final judgment guilty of any crime against property.” In view of this provision, the respondent applied to the President for an absolute pardon. Upon favorable recommendation of the Sec of Justice, the President granted the petition on 1939, restoring the respondent to his full civil and political rights, except that with respect to the right to hold public office or employment, he will be eligible for appointment only to positions which are clerical or manual in nature and involving no money or property responsibility. 

On 1940, Cristobal filed a petition for the exclusion of the name of Santos from the list of voters in precinct no. 11 of Malabon, Rizal on the ground that the latter is disqualified under par (b) of Sec 94 of the Election Code. After hearing, the court denied the petition for exclusion and declared that the pardon extended in favor of respondent has had the effect pf excluding him from the disqualification created by the Election Code. 

Petitioner Cristobal filed a petition for certiorari in which he impugns the decision of the court. 

Issue: Whether or not the pardoning power of the President applies to legislative prohibitions? And consequently, whether or not the pardoning power exercised here would amount to an unlawful exercise of the President of a legislative function? 

Held: It should be observed that there are two limitations upon the exercise of this constitutional prerogative of the President: (a) that the power be exercised after conviction and (b) that such power does not extend to cases of impeachment. 

Subject to the limitations imposed by the Constitution, the pardoning power cannot be restricted or controlled by legislative action. It must remain where the sovereign authority has placed it and must be exercised by the highest authority to whom it is entrusted. 

An absolute pardon not only blots out the crime committed but removes all disabilities resulting from the conviction. In this case, the disability is the result of the conviction without which there would no basis for disqualification from voting. Imprisonment is not the only punishment, which the law imposes upon those who violates its command. There are accessory and resultant disabilities, and the pardoning power likewise extends to such left of the consequences of conviction. While the pardon extended to respondent Santos is conditional in the sense that he will be eligible for appointment only to positions which are clerical or manual in nature involving no money or property responsibility, it is absolute insofar as it restores the respondent to full civil and political rights. 

The suggestion that the disqualification imposed in the Election Code, does not fall within the purview of the pardoning power of the Chief Executive, would lead to the impairment of his pardoning power not contemplated in the Constitution and would lead furthermore to the result that there would be no way of restoring the political privilege in a case of this nature except through legislative action.

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