COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS Republic of the Philippines
LEGAL SOLUTIONS OF DISPUTES RELATED TO ELECTION RESULTSSources: Constitution of 1987 Omnibus Election Code Statutes COMELEC Rules of Procedures Rules issued by the Supreme Court
Form of Government: Republican and Presidential
Branches of Government: Executive Department Legislative Department Judicial Department
Elective positions are found in the ExecutiveDepartment and Legislative Department. All positions in the Judicial Department are appointive.
The National Lawmaking body is Congress.It has two houses– Senate and House of Representatives.
The Senate has 24 Members with a term of 6 years.
The members of the Houseof Representatives are oftwo classes: those whorepresent legislativedistricts and are elected bydistricts, and those electedas partylist members andare elected nationwide.
There are different political subdivisions, namely:1. Regions– ex. Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)2. Provinces3. Cities and municipalities4. Barangays (The smallest political unite)
In the Executive Department, the following are elective positions:1. President and Vice President2. Regional Governor and Regional Vice Governor in ARMM.3. Provincial Governor and Vice Governor.4. City or Municipal Mayor and Vice Mayor5. Punong Barangay or Barangay Captain
The members of the lawmaking body in each political subdivision are all elective. They have a unicameral lawmaking body.1. Regional Assembly for Regions2. Provincial Council for Provinces3. City or Municipal Council4. Barangay Council
Elective officials have a 3 year term except the President, Vice Presidentand Senators who have six years.
Unique Features of Philippine Elections Elections are SYNCHRONIZED hence elections nationwide take place every three years– on the second Monday of May.
EFFECT1. Preparations for elections are very massive.2. Election supervision by COMELEC becomes difficult and provides opportunities for election irregularities.3. Election becomes a long and tedious process.
Unique features of COMELEC1. Administrative body that conducts, administers, and supervises: a) registration of voters, b) elections of candidates.2. Quasi judicial body– acts as a tribunal or court
COMELEC, as a tribunal or court, has original jurisdiction toentertain, hear and decide election protests and quo warranto proceedings forcity, provincial and regional positions.
Appellate jurisdictionover cases decided by courts for municipal and barangay positions.
BASIC INFORMATION ON THE ELECTION PROCESS1. Casting & counting of votes are done in the precincts.2. To record the votes of the candidates, COMELEC issues forms called Election Returns.
Because elections are synchronized and there areso many positions to be voted for, and there is a multi-party system there are many candidates for each position. As a consequence, election returns are very long and may consist of 10 pages.
BASIC INFORMATION ON THE ELECTION PROCESS3. After the counting of votes and the votes of candidates are entered in the election returns, they are then submitted to Canvassing Boards. Because in synchronized elections, national and local positions are involved, there are several layers of Canvassing Boards.
These are1. City or Municipal Board of Canvassers. Canvassing the votes means to consolidate or add votes of candidates from one precinct to another. After the board has canvassed the votes, in their level, they proclaim the winning candidates for city or municipal positions. They accomplish a form called certificate of canvass and proclamation. They also prepare a statement of votes by precinct for the other candidates in other positions (i.e. provincial, congressional, partylist, and senatorial). In the event it is a national election they also canvass the votes for president and vice president.
These are2. Provincial Board of Canvassers: This board canvasses the votes written in the statement of votes by precinct as accomplished by the city or municipal board of canvassers. After the canvass in their level they also proclaim the winning candidates for provincial positions. Provincial board of canvassers also accomplish a statement of votes by cities or municipalities which they forward to the commission on elections for partylist and senatorial positions, and in case of national elections, they also forward canvass of votes by cities and municipalities to congress.
These are3. National Board of Canvassers: COMELEC canvasses the votes for senators and partylists based on the certificate of canvass of votes by provincial boards of canvasses supported by a statement of votes by cities and municipalities. On the basis of the canvass they proclaim the winning candidates for the senate and partylist.
These are4. Congress in joint session assembled (Senate and House of Representatives): It canvasses the votes of candidates for the positions of President and Vice President based on the certificate of canvass of votes submitted by provincial boards of canvassers and supported by the statement of votes by cities and municipalities.
All winners areproclaimed on the basis of plurality of votes.
After the proclamation of thewinning candidates, should therebe any dispute related to election results, the legal solution is through an election protest that may be filed only by a losing candidate for the same positionbeing challenged before a proper electoral tribunal.
Different Electoral Tribunals1. Regional Trial Courts – For municipal elective positions2. COMELEC – For city/provincial/regional positions3. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunals (HRET) – For members of House of Representatives.4. Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) – For members of the Senate5. Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) – For the position of President or Vice president
When to file election protests1. For municipal positions– within 10 days after proclamation.2. For city/provincial/regional positions – within 10 days after proclamation.3. For members of the House of Representatives – within 10 days after proclamation.4. For members of the Senate – within 15 days after proclamation.5. For President and Vice President – within 30 days after proclamation.
For HRET, SET and PET, these tribunals are composed of nine judges, three of whom comes from the Supreme Court, three from the dominant majority party, and three from thedominant minority party based on the present membership of political parties in the two houses.
The election protest may includecorrection of manifest errors in theelection returns or a statement of votes byprecinct, city and municipality, such that ifcorrected the results of the election will bealtered such that the losing candidate willhave more votes than the winningcandidate.In this case it seeks to annul theproclamation of the winner and for thetribunal to proclaim the protestor orprotestant the winner.
The election protest may also begrounded on election irregularities orelection fraud such as misreading of ballots, padding or shaving of votes, terrorism, violence, or vote- buying. In this case, the electionprotest will entail review or rereadingof ballots for the tribunals evaluation for such precincts identified in the election protests.
An election protest may only be filed against a duly proclaimed winner.It can only be filed by a losing candidate who was voted in the election for the same position.
An election protest complaint mustcomply strictly with proceduralrequirements under rules a) It must be filed within the reglementary period. b) All fees required must be paid within the same reglementary period. c) It must contain all the allegations required by the rules to make it sufficient in form and substance. d) It must be under oath by the protestor or protestant. e) It must contain a certification of non-forum shopping.
Answer to an Election Protest1. Protestee or the proclaimed winner shall file an answer within the prescribed period to file it.2. It may contain a counter-protest. For the counter protest, payment of fees are also required.
Procedure1. After the answer has been filed, the tribunal schedules a pre-trial conference between the parties to determine whether parties can make stipulation of facts or admissions.2. The court aided by the parties may simplify the issues based on the admissions.3. Determine the number of witnesses during the pre-trial which the parties may present.4. Schedule the start of the review of ballots.5. Revision of ballots is done by a committee of revisers composed of three persons, the chairman of whom is appointed by the tribunal while the 2 members are revisers appointed by each party.6. During the revision of ballots objections by the revisers of the parties may be made against any ballot. These are all recorded so a revision report per precinct may be made and submission to the court to enable him to know the disupted ballots and to make a ruling there all.7. When all protested precincts had been reviewed or revised by the revisers, the protestant is ordered to identify 20 percent of the entire protested precincts to make a preliminary finding whether, on the basis of the 20 percent chosen, there is enough proof to show that the protestant has a chance to win the protest. If the 20 percent does not show this chance, the petition is dismissed.
If the protestant can show that he has a chance to win the protest. Then the counter-protested precincts are revised. A revision report is also prepared by the revisers committee to be submitted to the court. After the evaluation of the disputed ballots by the court, the tribunal makes rulings and prepares the decision.If the protestant wins, the proclamation of the protesteeis annulled and the protestant is proclaimed the winner. After finality of the decision, the new winner takes his oath and assumes his position.