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619 Phil. 226


[ G.R. No. 186006, October 16, 2009 ]




Before this Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65, in relation to Rule 64, assailing the Resolution[1] dated November 23, 2007 of the Second Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Resolution[2] of the Comelec En Banc dated January 14, 2009 in SPA No. 07-621.

The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:

Prior to the May 14, 2007 elections, petitioner Norlainie Mitmug Limbona and her husband, Mohammad "Exchan" Limbona, each filed a Certificate of Candidacy for Mayor of Pantar, Lanao del Norte. On April 2, 2007, private respondent Malik "Bobby" Alingan filed a disqualification case against Mohammad before the Provincial Election Supervisor of Lanao del Norte. On April 12, 2007, Alingan also filed a petition for disqualification against petitioner.[3] Both disqualification cases were premised on the ground that petitioner and her husband lacked the one-year residency requirement and both were not registered voters of Pantar.[4]

On April 17, 2007, petitioner executed an Affidavit of Withdrawal of her certificate of candidacy,[5] which was subsequently approved by the Comelec.[6] Petitioner also filed a Motion to Dismiss the disqualification case against her for being moot and academic.[7]

On election day, May 14, 2007, the Comelec resolved to postpone the elections in Pantar because there was no final list of voters yet. A special election was scheduled for July 23, 2007.[8]

On May 24, 2007, the Comelec First Division promulgated a Resolution disqualifying Mohammad as candidate for mayor for failure to comply with the one-year residency requirement.[9] Petitioner then filed her Certificate of Candidacy as substitute candidate on July 21, 2007. On July 23, 2007, Alingan filed a petition for disqualification against petitioner for, among others, lacking the one-year residency requirement (SPA No. 07-621).[10]

In a Resolution in SPA No. 07-621[11] dated November 23, 2007, the Comelec Second Division ruled that petitioner was disqualified from running for Mayor of Pantar. The Comelec held that petitioner only became a resident of Pantar in November 2006. It explained that petitioner's domicile of origin was Maguing, Lanao del Norte, her birthplace. When she got married, she became a resident of Barangay Rapasun, Marawi City, where her husband was Barangay Chairman until November 2006. Barangay Rapasun, the Comelec said, was petitioner's domicile by operation of law under the Family Code. The Comelec found that the evidence petitioner adduced to prove that she has abandoned her domicile of origin or her domicile in Marawi City two years prior to the elections consisted mainly of self-serving affidavits and were not corroborated by independent and competent evidence. The Comelec also took note of its resolution in another case where it was found that petitioner was not even a registered voter in Pantar. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration.[12]

The Comelec resolved the motion in an En Banc Resolution dated January 14, 2009,[13] affirming the Second Division's Resolution disqualifying petitioner. The Comelec said that the issue of whether petitioner has complied with the one-year residency rule has been decided by the Supreme Court in Norlainie Mitmug Limbona v. Commission on Elections and Malik "Bobby" T. Alingan promulgated on June 25, 2008. The Comelec noted that, in said case, the Supreme Court upheld the Comelec First Division's Decision in SPA No. 07-611 disqualifying petitioner from running for mayor of Pantar for failure to comply with the residency requirement.

Petitioner is now before this Court assailing the Comelec's November 23, 2007 and January 14, 2009 Resolutions. She posits that the Comelec erred in disqualifying her for failure to comply with the one-year residency requirement. She alleges that in a disqualification case against her husband filed by Nasser Macauyag, another mayoralty candidate, the Comelec considered her husband as a resident of Pantar and qualified to run for any elective office there. Petitioner avers that since her husband was qualified to run in Pantar, she is likewise qualified to run.[14]

Petitioner also stresses that she was actually residing and was physically present in that municipality for almost two years prior to the May 2007 elections. During the time she had been residing in Pantar, she associated and mingled with residents there, giving her ample time to know the needs, difficulties, aspirations, and economic potential of the municipality. This, she said, is proof of her intention to establish permanent residency there and her intent to abandon her domicile in Marawi City.

She next argues that, even as her husband was Punong Barangay of Rapasun, Marawi City, he never abandoned Pantar as his hometown and domicile of origin. She avers that the performance of her husband's duty in Rapasun did not prevent the latter from having his domicile elsewhere. Hence, it was incorrect for the Comelec to have concluded that her husband changed his domicile only on November 11, 2006.[15] At the very least, petitioner says, the Comelec's conflicting resolutions on the issue of her husband's residence should create a doubt that should be resolved in her and her husband's favor.[16]

She further contends that to disqualify her would disenfranchise the voters of Pantar, the overwhelming majority of whom elected her as mayor during the July 23, 2007 special elections.[17]

The Comelec, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed its Comment, insisting that the Comelec correctly disqualified petitioner from running as mayor for lack of the one-year residency requirement.[18] The OSG argues that there is no evidence that petitioner has abandoned her domicile of origin or her domicile in Marawi City.[19] Moreover, the OSG said that this Court has ruled on the issue of petitioner's residency in Norlainie Mitmug Limbona v. Commission on Elections and Malik "Bobby" T. Alingan.[20] Lastly, the OSG contends that the Comelec's ruling in Nasser A. Macauyag v. Mohammad Limbona is not binding on petitioner because she was not a party to the case.[21]

We dismiss the Petition.

The issue of petitioner's disqualification for failure to comply with the one-year residency requirement has been resolved by this Court in Norlainie Mitmug Limbona v. Commission on Elections and Malik "Bobby" T. Alingan.[22] This case stemmed from the first disqualification case filed by herein respondent against petitioner, docketed as SPA No. 07-611. Although the petitioner had withdrawn the Certificate of Candidacy subject of the disqualification case, the Comelec resolved the petition and found that petitioner failed to comply with the one-year residency requirement, and was, therefore, disqualified from running as mayor of Pantar.

A unanimous Court upheld the findings of the Comelec, to wit:

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED. The September 4, 2007 Resolution of the Commission on Elections in SPA Case No. 07-611 disqualifying petitioner Norlainie Mitmug Limbona from running for office of the Mayor of Pantar, Lanao del Norte, and the January 9, 2008 Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED. In view of the permanent vacancy in the Office of the Mayor, the proclaimed Vice-Mayor shall SUCCEED as Mayor. The temporary restraining order issued on January 29, 2008 is ordered LIFTED.


The Court found that petitioner failed to satisfy the one-year residency requirement. It held:

The Comelec correctly found that petitioner failed to satisfy the one-year residency requirement. The term "residence" as used in the election law is synonymous with "domicile," which imports not only intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. The manifest intent of the law in fixing a residence qualification is to exclude a stranger or newcomer, unacquainted with the conditions and needs of a community and not identified with the latter, from an elective office to serve that community.

For purposes of election law, the question of residence is mainly one of intention. There is no hard and fast rule by which to determine where a person actually resides. Three rules are, however, well established: first, that a man must have a residence or domicile somewhere; second, that where once established it remains until a new one is acquired; and third, a man can have but one domicile at a time.

In order to acquire a domicile by choice, there must concur (1) residence or bodily presence in the new locality, (2) an intention to remain there, and (3) an intention to abandon the old domicile. A person's "domicile" once established is considered to continue and will not be deemed lost until a new one is established.

To successfully effect a change of domicile one must demonstrate an actual removal or an actual change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one, and definite acts which correspond with the purpose. In other words, there must basically be animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.

Petitioner's claim that she has been physically present and actually residing in Pantar for almost 20 months prior to the elections, is self-serving and unsubstantiated. As correctly observed by the Comelec:

In the present case, the evidence adduced by respondent, which consists merely of self-serving affidavits cannot persuade Us that she has abandoned her domicile of origin or her domicile in Marawi City. It is alleged that respondent "has been staying, sleeping and doing business in her house for more than 20 months" in Lower Kalanganan and yet, there is no independent and competent evidence that would corroborate such statement.

Further, We find no other act that would indicate respondent's intention to stay in Pantar for an indefinite period of time. The filing of her Certificate of Candidacy in Pantar, standing alone, is not sufficient to hold that she has chosen Pantar as her new residence. We also take notice of the fact that in SPA No. 07-611, this Commission has even found that she is not a registered voter in the said municipality warranting her disqualification as a candidate.

We note the findings of the Comelec that petitioner's domicile of origin is Maguing, Lanao del Norte, which is also her place of birth; and that her domicile by operation of law (by virtue of marriage) is Rapasun, Marawi City. The Comelec found that Mohammad, petitioner's husband, effected the change of his domicile in favor of Pantar, Lanao del Norte only on November 11, 2006. Since it is presumed that the husband and wife live together in one legal residence, then it follows that petitioner effected the change of her domicile also on November 11, 2006. Articles 68 and 69 of the Family Code provide:

Art. 68. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.

Art. 69. The husband and wife shall fix the family domicile. In case of disagreement, the court shall decide. The court may exempt one spouse from living with the other if the latter should live abroad or there are other valid and compelling reasons for the exemption. However, such exemption shall not apply if the same is not compatible with the solidarity of the family. (Emphasis ours)

Considering that petitioner failed to show that she maintained a separate residence from her husband, and as there is no evidence to prove otherwise, reliance on these provisions of the Family Code is proper and is in consonance with human experience.

Thus, for failure to comply with the residency requirement, petitioner is disqualified to run for the office of mayor of Pantar, Lanao del Norte. x x x.[24]

Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the above-quoted Decision was denied with finality on March 3, 2009.[25] Petitioner filed another Motion for Reconsideration,[26] which the Court treated as a Second Motion for Reconsideration and, consequently, denied in a Resolution dated June 2, 2009.[27] Of late, petitioner has filed a "Manifestation" that raises yet again the issues already resolved in the petition and which the Court has, accordingly, merely noted without action.[28] Thus, our ruling therein has now attained finality.

Consequently, the issue of petitioner's compliance with the one-year residency requirement is now settled. We are bound by this Court's ruling in the earlier Limbona case where the issue was squarely raised and categorically resolved. We cannot now rule anew on the merits of this case, especially since the present Petition merely restates issues already passed upon by the Comelec and affirmed by this Court.

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Petition is DISMISSED and the Resolution dated November 23, 2007 of the Second Division of the Commission on Elections and the Resolution of the Commission on Elections En Banc dated January 14, 2009 in SPA No. 07-621 are AFFIRMED.


Quisumbing, Carpio, Corona, Carpio Morales, Chico-Nazario, Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, and Abad, JJ., concur.
Puno, C.J., and Velasco, Jr., JJ., on official leave.
Del Castillo, J., on leave.

[1] Rollo, pp. 51-57.

[2] Id. at 58-72.

[3] Docketed as SPA No. A07-011, id. at 124-130.

[4] Rollo, pp. 51-52.

[5] Id. at 134.

[6] Id. at 93-95.

[7] Id. at 11-12.

[8] Id. at 52.

[9] Id. at 135-140.

[10] Id. at 103-111.

[11] Id. at 51-57.

[12] Id. at 73-92.

[13] Id. at 58-72.

[14] Id. at 16-18.

[15] Id. at 24.

[16] Id. at 21-22.

[17] Id. at 32.

[18] Id. at 314.

[19] Id. at 316.

[20] Id. at 318-319.

[21] Id. at 320.

[22] En Banc Decision penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago (a retired member of this Court ), G.R. No. 181097, June 25, 2008, 555 SCRA 391.

[23] Limbona v. Commission on Elections, id. at 404-405.

[24] Id. at 401-404.

[25] Rollo (G.R. No. 181097), pp. 501-502.

[26] Id. at 438-474.

[27] Id. at 539-540.

[28] Id. at 527-528.

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