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461 Phil. 816

EN BANC

[ G.R. No. 147589 AND G.R. No. 147613, November 20, 2003 ]

ANG BAGONG BAYANI, OFW, ET AL. PETITIONERS VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.

BAYAN MUNA, PETITIONER VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,RESPONDENT.

R E S O L U T I O N

DAVIDE JR., C.J.:

The remaining issues left for the resolution of the Court are: (1) the effect of the proclamation by the Commission on Elections of the additional nominees of APEC, BUTIL, CIBAC and AKBAYAN pursuant to its Order of 22 November 2002, a proclamation this Court declared in its Resolution of 18 February 2003 to be a violation of, inter alia, the Temporary Restraining Order it issued on 9 May 2001; and (2) whether BUHAY is entitled to one additional seat in the party-list system.

It may be recalled that in its Resolution No. NBC-02-001 dated 6 November 2002, the COMELEC found that APEC is entitled to three seats; AKBAYAN, two seats; BUTIL, two seats; CIBAC, two seats; BUHAY, two seats; AMIN, one seat; ABA, one seat; COCOFED, one seat; NCIA, one seat; PM, one seat; and SANLAKAS, one seat.

The additional nominees of APEC, BUTIL, CIBAC and AKBAYAN proclaimed by the COMELEC immediately took their oath and assumed office as members of the House of Representatives.

In its Resolution of 25 June 2003, the Court has found that, indeed BUHAY obtained 4.46% of the total number of votes cast for the party-list system, thus:

Table No. 3


Rank
Party-List
Votes
Percentage (%)
Additional
Seats









2
APEC
802,060
12.29
n/c


3
AKBAYAN
377,852
5.79
n/c


4
BUTIL
330,282
5.06
n/c


5
CIBAC
323, 810
4.96
n/c


6
BUHAY
290,760
4.46
0.51


7
AMIN
252,051
3.86
0.44


8
ABA
242,199
3.71
0.42


9
COCOFED
229,165
3.51
0.40


10
PM
216,823
3.32
0.38


11
SANLAKAS
151,017
2.31
0.26


12
ABANSE! PINAY
135,211
2.07
0.24


In the column additional seats, those for APEC, AKBAYAN, BUTIL, and CIBAC are indicated as n/c, which, as disclosed in the footnote, means as follows:

"not computed," since, to repeat, the Court is yet to resolve the validity of the proclamation of the additional nominees of APEC, AKBAYAN, BUTIL, and CIBAC, due to the Motion of BAYAN MUNA to set aside Comelec Resolution No. NBC-02-001 promulgated on November 6, 2003 and the related November 22, 2002 Comelec Order and the November 26, 2002 Comelec Resolution.

The fact of the matter, however, is that the percentage for the additional seats for APEC, AKBAYAN, BUTIL and CIBAC is recorded in the table, just as what was done to BUHAY, thus:
APEC -- 1.40
AKBAYAN -- 0.66
BUTIL -- 0.58
CIBAC -- 0.56
In the Resolution of 8 July 2003, this Court resolved that "the COMELEC may now proclaim those declared elected with one nominee each in the Resolution of 25 June 2003, to wit: BUHAY, AMIN, ABA, COCOFED, PM, SANLAKAS, and ABANSE! PINAY."

It is thus established in the Resolution of 25 June 2003 that, like APEC, BUTIL, CIBAC and AKBAYAN, BUHAY had obtained more than four percent (4%) of the total number of votes validly cast for the party-list system and obtained more than 0.50 for the additional seats. Accordingly, just like the first four whose additional nominees are now holding office as member of the House of Representatives, BUHAY should be declared entitled to one additional seat.
    ACCORDINGLY, the Court hereby RESOLVES, pro hac vice

  1. To consider closed and terminated the issue regarding the proclamation by the COMELEC of the additional nominees of APEC, BUTIL, CIBAC and AKBAYAN, such nominees having taken their oath and assumed office;

  2. To DECLARE that BUHAY is entitled to one (1) additional seat in the party-list system in the elections of May 2001 and;

  3. To ORDER the COMELEC to proclaim BUHAY's second nominee.

    SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J.,
reiterates his separate opinion in the ponencia (main decision).
Panganiban, J., see separate opinion.




SEPARATE OPINION


PANGANIBAN, J.:

For resolution by the Court are two sets of Motions filed by (A) BAYAN MUNA and (B) BUHAY. The majority holds that the Motions of BAYAN MUNA should be denied, but that those of BUHAY should be granted. I agree that BAYAN MUNA's Motions should be denied, but for reasons different from those proffered by the majority. On the other hand, I submit, with due respect, that BUHAY's Motions should be denied, not granted.

A. BAYAN MUNA's Motion

An examination of BAYAN MUNA's 16-page "Comment/Opposition with Motion to Set Aside the 6 November 2002 Resolution of the Commission on Elections" shows that it is principally meant to be an opposition to the "Motion to Lift TRO" filed by BUHAY and COCOFED. However, at the latter part thereof (from page 13), it argues that "COMELEC erred in disregarding the ruling in Veterans Federation Party v. Commission on Elections[1] when it allocated seats in Congress for APEC, AKBAYAN, BUTIL, CIBAC, BUHAY, AMIN, ABA, COCOFED, NCIA, PM and SANLAKAS in the assailed Resolution dated 6 November 2002." Thus, aside from opposing the BUHAY and COCOFED Motion, it additionally prays for the setting aside of the said 6 November 2002 COMELEC Resolution.

In a "Supplemental Motion to Set Aside Comelec Resolution No. NBC-02-001 promulgated on 22 November 2002," BAYAN MUNA contends that this latter Resolution of 22 November 2002 - which granted two additional seats to APEC and one additional seat each to BUTIL, CIBAC and AKBAYAN, -- is also void for having likewise been issued in violation of the ruling in Veterans and the proportional representation proviso of RA 7941 (the Party List Law), which limited the entitlement of a party-list winner to a maximum of three seats. It complains that this COMELEC Resolution "equalized APEC's number of representatives with those" of BAYAN MUNA despite the "disparity in the number of votes between them - 1,697,578 for BAYAN MUNA as against 801,587 for APEC."

Thus, it prays for the declaration of (1) the nullity of the said 22 November 2002 COMELEC Resolution; and (2) the unconstitutionality of Section 11 of RA 7941 (the Party List Law), insofar as it allowed a maximum of only three seats per party-list winner, to enable BAYAN MUNA to have more than three representatives in the House.

Assailed COMELEC Resolutions
Made Without Authority


In its Resolution dated 18 February 2003, the Court has already unanimously ruled that the assailed COMELEC Resolutions dated 6 November 2002 and 22 November 2003 as well as that dated 26 November 2002 were issued by Commission without any authority, in "brazen disobedience to [this Court's] lawful directives, in particular its Temporary Restraining Order dated May 9, 2001." For issuing such Resolutions, the COMELEC chairman and members were held in contempt by this Court.

However, I respectfully submit that the nullity of these issuances authorizing the proclamation of the additional nominees of APEC, BUTIL, CIBAC, and AKBAYAN, does not ipso facto mean that the Court, in the present proceedings and by means of a mere motion, could thereby automatically unseat these representatives. As held in the Court's Resolution dated 16 September 2003 in AM No. 03-8-22 SC,[2] "there is a distinction between holding in contempt the authors of an arbitrary proclamation resolution on the one hand[;] and on the other, unseating those who have been proclaimed, have taken their seats in Congress and have begun performing their lawmaking duties."

Be it remembered that on 26 June 2001, the Court -- in the present consolidated case -- had already rendered its Decision, which has become final and executory. The instant proceedings are conducted for the purpose merely of passing upon the COMELEC's compliance with the 8-point guideline issued in the said decision.

The relief prayed for by BAYAN MUNA - to declare Section 11 of RA 7941 unconstitutional - is completely alien to these incidental proceedings. To take up this alleged unconstitutionality now would mean a reopening of the 26 June 2001 Decision which, to repeat, has already become final and executory. Obviously, a discussion of that issue cannot be done at this point.

Proper Petition by Proper
Party at the Proper Time


The same observation can be made of any attempt to unseat the concerned additional nominees by means of a mere motion in these proceedings. To oust members of the House of Representatives who have already taken their oaths and have begun to discharge the functions of their offices is a contentious matter and partakes of the nature of quo warranto, certiorari and/or mandamus. Clearly, these extraordinary writs may be issued only in special civil actions for which the Rules of Court prescribe specific requirements, like the verification of an independent petition - with specific allegations showing lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion - filed in the proper court or quasi judicial agency by the proper party; and subject to certain formalities like a sworn certificate of non-forum shopping and so on. Also, these documents must be filed within the prescribed period of time.

In contrast, the present Motion and Supplemental Motion are not even verified and are definitely not special civil actions; they were filed merely as purported incidents in these compliance proceedings. Furthermore, there is no showing that they were filed in the proper forum, considering that under the Constitution, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) is "the sole judge of all contests relating to the election returns and qualifications" of the members of the House of Representatives.[3] True, in Codilla v. Comelec ,[4] this Court ousted an incumbent member of Congress and caused the seating of the overwhelming winner during the election. However, that Decision was issued only after an independent petition for mandamus and quo warranto was filed by the proper party, and only after proper proceedings had been held thereon.

In any event, in Guerrero v. Comelec,[5] this Court declared that "once a winning candidate has been proclaimed, taken his oath, and assumed office as a member of the House of Representatives, the COMELEC's jurisdiction over election contest relating to his election, returns and qualification ends, and the HRET's own jurisdiction begins."

Thus, if this Court were to give due course to BAYAN MUNA's prayer, it will have to rule on the propriety of assuming jurisdiction over the controversy in the present proceedings; equally important, it will also have to determine which of these two rulings (Codilla or Guerrero), if any, applies. These are contentious issues that are alien to the present proceedings; they constitute questions that cannot be ruled upon unless the appropriate petitions are filed in the appropriate forum by the appropriate party at the appropriate time and alleging the appropriate jurisdictional facts.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that while BAYAN MUNA's Motions prayed for the nullification of the assailed COMELEC Resolutions, they did not expressly ask for the unseating of the proclaimed winners who had already taken their seats and had long ago begun to discharge their functions.

B. BUHAY's Motion

Several Motions filed by BUHAY and its second nominee[6] ask that the Court modify its Resolution dated 25 June 2003 by authorizing BUHAY's second nominee to take his congressional seat as soon as possible. They contend that the formulas devised by this Court for computing party-list winners are applicable only in the 1998 not in the 2001, party-list elections; that it is the COMELEC formula contained in its 6 November 2002 Resolution that is appropriate to the May 14, 2001 elections; and that this COMELEC formula allocates one (1) seat to the parties that get at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast, two (2) seats to those that obtain at least 4%, and the maximum of three (3) seats to those that get at least 6% of the total votes cast.

COMELEC Formula
Already Rejected by the Court


I respectfully submit that these Motions of BUHAY have no merit. First , the so-called COMELEC formula has long been expressly rejected by this Court in Veterans Federation Party v. COMELEC,[7] as follows:
"One proposed formula is to allocate one additional seat for every additional proportion of the votes obtained equivalent to the two percent vote requirement for the first seat. Translated in figures, a party that wins at least six percent of the total votes cast will be entitled to three seats; another party that gets four percent will be entitled to two seats; and one that gets two percent will be entitled to one seat only. This proposal has the advantage of simplicity and ease of comprehension. Problems arise, however, when the parties get very lop-sided votes - for example, when Party A receives 20 percent of the total votes cast; Party B, 10 percent; and Party C, 6 percent. Under the method just described, Party A would be entitled to 10 seats; Party B, to 5 seats and Party C, to 3 seats. Considering the three-seat limit imposed by law, all the parties will each uniformly have three seats only. We would then have the spectacle of a party garnering two or more times the number of votes obtained by another, yet getting the same number of seats as the other one with the much lesser votes. In effect, proportional representation will be contravened and the law rendered nugatory by this suggested solution. Hence, the court discarded it." (p. 274)
The correct formulas for computing the proportionate allocation of seats to party-list winners have been decided in Veterans after long deliberation and study; these formulas apply to all party-list elections conducted under the present law.

Unless amended by a subsequent law approved by Congress or by a new ruling of this Court in appropriate proceedings, these formulas cannot be disregarded, for they ensure that the number of seats allocated to the winning parties conform to the principle of proportional representation mandated by the Party-List Law.

Second, in our unanimous en banc Resolution dated 18 February 2003, the COMELEC chairman and commissioners were held in contempt of this Court when they discarded these formulas and used the erroneous and rejected computation method espoused by movant. The Court issued this reminder to the Commission:
"Comelec had no authority or power to modify or alter, even with the help of Black's Law Dictionary, the final and executory Decisions of this Court, especially the carefully crafted rule on how to compute the winners in a party-list election as held in Veterans Federation Party v. Comelec. It should also remember that in said case, this Court expressly reversed Comelec's own formula of determining said winners. A becoming regard for superior authority should have prevented the poll body from insisting on its own will. If a lower tribunal like the Comelec disagrees with our Decisions, it may state its opinions or may even recommend, at the proper occasion and time, a change in the ruling. But it is constitutionally required, in the meantime, to follow our Decisions whether it agrees with them or not. This is the rule of law. As it is, by its intransigence and disobedience, Comelec, its chairman and members have clearly placed themselves in contempt of this Court." (p. 5)
Finally, the question of how to compute the number of seats a party-list winner is entitled to has NOT BEEN RAISED AS AN ISSUE in these consolidated cases. As already stated, that matter has finally been settled long ago in Veterans.

Determining the
Party-List Winners


To stress, our unanimous en banc Resolution of June 25, 2003 in the present consolidated cases patiently and clearly outlined in detail (on pages 36-40) the procedure for determining the party-list winners and for computing the number of seats they are entitled to. This procedure, the Court ruled, should be used "in determining the part-list winners in the future." The Resolution clearly and unequivocally ordered that party-list winners shall be determined in accordance with "the formulas mandated in Veterans v. Comelec."

While I sympathize with the dilemma of the BUHAY second nominee, I respectfully submit that there is no sufficient legal reason to proclaim him and thereby violate the very pronouncement of this Court discussed above.

WHEREFORE, I vote to DENY the Motions of BAYAN MUNA and BUHAY.



[1] 342 SCRA 244, October 6, 2000.

[2] Re: EM No. 03-010 - Order of the First Division of The Commission on Elections dated August 15, 2003.

[3] See Bondoc v . Pineda, 201 SCRA 792, September 26, 1991; Romualdez Marcos v. Comelec, 248 SCRA 300, September 18, 1995 and Libanan v . HRET, 347 Phil. 797, December 22, 1997.

[4] GR No. 150605, December 10, 2002.

[5] 336 SCRA 458, July 26, 2000; see also Co v. HRET, 199 SCRA 692, July 30, 1991; Lazatin v. HRET, 168 SCRA 391, December 8, 1988.

[6] Mariano Logarta.

[7] Supra at note 1.

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