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433 Phil. 290


[ G.R. No. 149380, July 03, 2002 ]




Was substituted service of summons validly effected on herein petitioner Federico S. Sandoval II in the election protest filed by herein respondent Aurora Rosario A. Oreta before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET)?   This is the only issue for resolution in the instant Petition for Certiorari with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction under  Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure assailing HRET Resolutions Nos. 01-081 dated 12 July 2001 and 01-118 dated 9 August 2001.

Petitioner Sandoval and respondent Oreta were candidates for the lone congressional district of Malabon-Navotas during the 14 May 2001 national elections.   The canvass of the election returns yielded ninety two thousand and sixty-two (92,062) votes for petitioner while respondent obtained seventy two thousand eight hundred sixty-two (72,862) votes,[1] or a difference of nineteen thousand two hundred (19,200) votes.   On 22 May 2001 petitioner was proclaimed duly elected representative by the District Board of Canvassers of Malabon-Navotas.   After taking his oath of office, he assumed the post at noon of 30 June 2001.[2]

On 1 June 2001 respondent Oreta filed with HRET an election protest against petitioner, docketed as HRET Case No. 01-027.   The protest assailed the alleged electoral frauds and anomalies in one thousand three hundred eight (1,308) precincts of the Malabon-Navotas District.[3] On 4 June 2001 HRET issued the corresponding summons for service upon petitioner.[4] On 7 June 2001 HRET Process Server Pacifico Lim served the summons by substituted service upon a certain Gene Maga who signed the process server's copy of the summons and indicated thereon his position as  "maintenance"  along with the date and time of his receipt thereof as  7 June 2001 at 1:25 p.m.[5] The pro-forma affidavit of service executed by the process server a day after service of the summons stated -
That on 6/7/01 I personally served the following documents
to counsels and parties at their respective addresses.
DOCUMENT – Summons
HRET CASE NO.  – 01-027
PARTY/COUNSEL – Rep. Federico S. Sandoval
ADDRESS – No. 992 M. Naval St., Navotas, M.M.
POSITION – Maintenance[6]
On 12 July 2001 HRET issued Resolution No. 01-081 which took note of petitioner Sandoval's failure to file an answer to the election protest within ten (10) days from date of service of the summons on 7 June 2001 and entered in his behalf a general denial of the allegations set forth in the protest.[7] The HRET also ordered the parties to proceed to preliminary conference.[8] On 18 July 2001 the HRET ordered both petitioner and respondent to file their respective preliminary conference briefs.[9] Petitioner received the order on 20 July 2001 as shown by the rubber stamp bearing his name and his district office in Navotas and indicating the time and date of receipt as well as the person with corresponding position, i.e., administrative staff, who received the order.[10] Initially, on 1 August 2001, it was only respondent Oreta who filed the required preliminary conference brief.[11]

On 6 August 2001, instead of filing a preliminary conference brief, petitioner moved for reconsideration of Resolution No. 01-081 and prayed for the admission of his answer with counter-protest.[12] He argued that the substituted service of summons upon him was improperly  effected upon a maintenance man Gene Maga who was "neither a regular employee nor responsible officer at [petitioner's] office."[13] In Resolution No. 01-118, the HRET denied reconsideration of the assailed resolution and admission of petitioner's answer with counter-protest.[14]

On 30 August 2001 petitioner Sandoval filed the instant petition with prayer for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction questioning Resolutions Nos. 01-081 and 01-118 and assailing the HRET's jurisdiction over his person.   In due time, we denied the plea for injunctive writs.[15] Petitioner was constrained to file his preliminary conference brief ad cautelam and to attend the preliminary conference on 18 October 2001, which had been postponed several times upon his request.

On 29 October 2001 respondent Oreta filed her Comment to the instant petition.   On 3 January 2002 the Office of the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion In Lieu of Comment.   The Solicitor General found that the substituted service of summons upon petitioner was faulty and thus recommended favorable action on the petition.   On 12 February 2002 HRET also submitted a Manifestation and Motion In Lieu of Comment manifesting that as a nominal party in the instant case it was not filing a  "separate comment"  from the Solicitor General's pleading.

We agree with the Solicitor General.  Preliminarily, we note the established rule vesting jurisdiction in this Court over the instant petition for certiorari.   While  the  Constitution  provides  that the HRET shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of members of Congress,[16] this regime however does not bar this  Court from entertaining petitions where the threshold of legitimate review is breached.   Indeed, it is well-settled that judicial guidance is appropriate where jurisdictional issues are involved or charges of grave abuse of discretion are presented in order that we may vindicate established claims of denial of due process or correct veritable abuses of discretion so grave or glaring that no less than the Constitution itself calls for remedial action.[17]

That this Court may very well inquire into jurisdictional issues concerning the HRET may be inferred from Sec. 1, Art. VIII, of the Constitution which has expanded judicial power to include the determination of  "whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government."   Previously, we had taken cognizance of certiorari proceedings where the rules of procedure of the HRET, as in the instant case, were involved.  Garcia v. Ang Ping[18] involved the requirement of cash deposit in addition to filing fees under Rule 32 of the 1998 HRET Rules.   In Loyola v. HRET[19] we explained the import of a general denial under Rule 27 of the Revised Rules of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. Lazatin v. HRET[20] affirmed the power of the HRET to set its own prescriptive  periods  for  filing  election  protests.  We  explored  in Arroyo v. HRET[21] the suppletory applicability of the rules of evidence to the HRET rules to adjudge the correct number of votes for each of the two (2) competing congressional candidates.

The instant petition is intricately related to the election protest filed by respondent Oreta with the HRET where the integrity of the election proceedings in one thousand three hundred and eight (1,308) precincts of the Malabon-Navotas congressional district is attacked as having been grossly manipulated to distort the people's will.   This is a serious charge which if true would taint the assumption of petitioner as congressman of this district.   In view of the delicate nature and the gravity of the charge, the observance of the HRET Rules of Procedure, in conjunction with our own Rules of Court, must be taken seriously.   Indubitably these rules affect not only the inherent fairness of the proceedings below, a matter of due process, but equally important, influence the speedy and orderly determination of the true will of the electorate, our democratic ideal.

The propriety of the substituted service of summons upon petitioner Sandoval is therefore no less pivotal, for upon it depends not simply the jurisdiction of the HRET over the person of petitioner but also the breadth of fairness of the proceedings therein, where the opportunity to be heard on the grave accusations against him and more significantly on his own counter-protest is properly withheld or compulsorily observed.   Compliance with the rules on the service of summons is both a concern of jurisdiction as it is of due process.[22] Petitioner should have been given by public respondent  a   fair   chance   to   defend   the  legitimacy of his lead of nineteen thousand two hundred (19,200) votes over respondent Oreta and dispel any cloud on his election.

The matter of serving summons is governed by the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which applies suppletorily to the Revised Rules of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal through its Rule 80.[23] Sections 6 and 7 of Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provide -
Sec. 6. Service in person on defendant. - Whenever practicable, the summons shall be served by handing a copy thereof to the defendant in person, or, if he refuses to receive and sign for it, by tendering it to him.

Sec. 7. Substituted service. - If, for justifiable causes, the defendant cannot be served within a reasonable time as provided in the preceding section, service may be effected (a) by leaving copies of the summons at the defendant's residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copies at defendant's office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof.
It is well-established that summons upon a respondent or a defendant (i.e., petitioner herein) must be served by handing a copy thereof to him in person or, if he refuses to receive it, by tendering it to him.   Personal service of summons most effectively ensures that the notice desired under the constitutional requirement of due process is accomplished.   If however efforts to find him personally would make prompt service impossible, service may be completed by substituted service, i.e., by leaving copies of the summons at his dwelling house or residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein or by leaving the copies at his office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof.

Substituted service derogates the regular method of personal service.   It is an extraordinary method since it seeks to bind the respondent or the defendant to the consequences of a suit even though notice of such action is served not upon him but upon another whom the law could only presume would notify him of the pending proceedings.   As safeguard measures for this drastic manner of bringing in a person to answer for a claim, it is required that statutory restrictions for substituted service must be strictly, faithfully and fully observed.[24] In our jurisdiction, for service of summons to be valid, it is necessary first to establish the following circumstances, i.e., (a)  impossibility of service of summons within a reasonable time, (b) efforts exerted to locate the petitioners and, (c) service upon a person of sufficient age and discretion residing therein or some competent person in charge of his office or regular place of business.   It is also essential that the pertinent facts proving these circumstances be stated in the proof of service or officer's return itself and only under exceptional terms may they be proved by evidence aliunde.[25] Failure to comply with this rule renders absolutely void the substituted service along with the proceedings taken thereafter for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant or the respondent.[26]

We find no merit in respondent Oreta's austere argument that personal service need not be exhausted before substituted service may be used since time in election protest cases is of the essence.   Precisely, time in election protest cases is very critical so all efforts must be realized to serve the summons  and  a  copy  of  the  election protest by the means most likely to reach the protestee.   No speedier method could achieve this purpose than by personal service thereof.   As already stated, the preferential rule regarding service of summons found in the Rules of Court applies suppletorily to the Revised Rules of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.[27] Hence, as regards the hierarchy in the service of summons, there ought to be no rational basis for distinguishing between regular court cases and election protest cases pending before the HRET.

In affirming the substituted service of summons and its jurisdiction over the person of petitioner Sandoval and rejecting admission of his answer with counter-protest, the HRET rationalized -
Based on the records of the case, summons was received by a Gene Maga of the Maintenance, District Office on June 7, 2001 at 1:25 p.m.  On July 27, 2001, an Affidavit of Service, attached to the Tribunal’s receiving copy of the summons, was jointly executed by Process Server Pacifico Lim and Accounting Clerk Aurora Napolis.  This Affidavit of Service states that Pacifico Lim found a certain Gene Maga at Protestee’s district office who identified himself as a member of the staff of Protestee and thus, Pacifico Lim left the summons with him (Maga).  This Affidavit likewise stated that after Pacifico Lim left the Tribunal premises to serve the summons to Protestee, Aurora Napolis talked to Primitivo P. Reyes, a congressional staff of Protestee’s father, Rep. Vicente A. Sandoval, who came to the HRET and who assured that there was somebody at Protestee’s district office who could receive the summons.  On June 16, 2001 or on the 9th day from June 7, 2001, the Chief of Staff of Protestee at the House of Representatives inquired by telephone with the Office of the Secretary of the Tribunal as to the last day for Protestee to file his answer  x x x x  There was valid service of summons effected on Protestee.  Pacifico Lim attested to the fact that he found Gene Maga at Protestee’s district office during office hours, i.e., 1:25 p.m., who presented himself as Protestee’s staff at said office.  The tribunal finds no fault on the part of its process server in effecting substituted service through Gene Maga.[28]
We seriously disagree.  In the first place, the conclusions relied upon by HRET are nowhere stated in the process server's affidavit of service.  The record will show that the affidavit of service, which is dated 8 June 2001 and not 27 July 2001 as above-quoted, gives only barren details, such as the date of receipt and the position of the person receiving the summons.   The HRET findings were instead based on the 27 July 2001 joint affidavit of Process Server Pacifico Lim and Accounting Clerk Aurora Napolis executed long after the summons was served on 7 June 2001.   The joint affidavit is clearly not the officer's return referred to in the rules on substituted service of summons but a specie of evidence aliunde generally inadmissible to prove compliance with the requirements of substituted service unless under exceptional circumstances, which were nowhere in this case.

It is truly unfortunate that the purported substituted service of summons upon petitioner Sandoval was irregularly executed.   Except for the time and place of service and the signature of the  "maintenance" man who received the summons, there is absolutely nothing in the process server's affidavit of service indicating the impossibility of personal service of summons upon petitioner within a reasonable time.   We can take judicial notice of the fact that petitioner is a very visible and active member of Congress such that to effect personal service upon him, all it would have taken the process server was a few hours more of a little extra work.   Regrettably, the affidavit of service, indeed the entire record of this case, does not specify the efforts exerted to serve the summons personally upon petitioner.   Upon this ground alone, the assailed service of summons should already fail miserably.

Moreover, we do not find in the record, much less in the affidavit of service executed by the process server, that the summons and a copy of the election protest were served on a competent person in charge of petitioner's office.   It must be emphasized that Gene Maga, the recipient of the summons, was merely a  "maintenance"  man who offered his services not only to petitioner but to anyone who was so minded to hire his assistance.   His occupation as a freelance service contractor, not as employee of petitioner Sandoval, is very clear not only from the assertion of petitioner in his motion for reconsideration of Resolution No. 01-081 that Maga was  "neither a regular employee nor responsible officer at [petitioner’s] office"[29] but also from Maga's own adverse admission under oath -
  1. Ako po ay isang maintenance man na naglilinis at nag-rerepair ng mga bagay-bagay sa mga opisina at bahay ng kung sino man ang mag-utos at umupa sa aking serbisyo.

  2. Noong June 7, 2001,ako po ay napagutusan ni Gng. Jeannie N. Sandoval, asawa ni Cong. Federico S. Sandoval II, na linisan ang “district office” ni Cong. Sandoval sa M. Naval St., San Jose, Navotas, Metro Manila.  Si Gng. Sandoval ay regular kong pinagsisilbihan at gumagawa para sa kanya ng kung anumang ipag-utos niya sa akin.[30]
It bears emphasis that these assertions were not rebutted, despite the opportunity to do so, in a separate comment we required the HRET to file, as a result of its decision to submit instead a Manifestation and Motion In Lieu of Comment.   Clearly, the fact that Maga was not an employee of petitioner as Representative of the Malabon-Navotas Congressional District but an independent contractor for odd  maintenance  jobs  deserves  credence  since  it  is petitioner and Maga themselves who would be in the best position to verify the latter's professional status.   It follows from this that Maga, not being an employee thereof, would be an incompetent person to receive the summons in petitioner's behalf.

Granting that Gene Maga was an employee of petitioner at his district office, an assumption that we stress is contrary to the evidence on record, still it cannot be said that he was qualified to receive the summons.   To be a  "competent"  person to receive the summons means that he should be  "duly qualified"  and  "having sufficient capacity, ability or authority."[31] In Keister v. Navarro[32] we set out the qualifications of the persons designated by the Rules of Court to whom copies of the process may be left:  "The rule presupposes that such a relation of confidence exists between the person with whom the copy is left and the defendant and, therefore, assumes that such person will deliver the process to defendant or in some way give him notice thereof."

The mere fact that Maga allegedly identified himself to the process server as  "member of the staff of [petitioner] Rep. Federico S. Sandoval II,"[33] does not ipso facto render him competent to receive the summons.   By this alleged statement, Maga did not communicate any assurance that he could take delivery of the summons effectively to justify the process server to assume such authority.   Even in the affidavit of service, which should have proved  first  hand  the  pertinent  facts justifying substituted service, Maga's indisputable representation was only that of a  "maintenance"  man, an  affirmation  which  should  have  immediately  alerted  the process server to the fact that he had no authority to receive the summons for petitioner Sandoval.   There is certainly nothing contained in the record to demonstrate that he was the  "receiving (employee?) of said office, which sufficiently conveys that he was tasked as he is to receive for the office,"  which would have given rise to the presumption that the process server left or tendered the summons on a duly qualified person.[34]

As  "maintenance"  man, it is reasonable to assume that Gene Maga was not tasked to deal with or handle documents flowing in and out of petitioner's office.   He may have been very efficient in tinkering with the light bulbs of the district office or plugging leaking water pipes, but it is also reasonable for anyone to assume, especially the process server who must have been oriented about the requirements of substituted service, that petitioner could not have reposed such confidence in Maga to accept official documents for the district office or to turn over as a matter of course documents that he would have received.   Clearly, in being assigned to do maintenance work and by ordinary human understanding, Maga could not be presumed to appreciate the importance of the papers delivered to him.   With due diligence which the process server ought to have exercised, he would not have been oblivious to this delineation of tasks.

Moreover, by virtue of his functions and presumed expertise, the process server could have easily discerned the absence of authority on the part of Maga to receive documents from the very informal manner by which he received the summons, i.e., he merely wrote his name and signed the receiving copy of the  summons and indicated therein his humble position.   This unceremonious receipt of the important summons is in stark contrast with the manner by which the same process server secured the proof of receipt by petitioner's district office of the HRET Order of 18 July 2001 which was done by rubber stamp bearing the name of petitioner and his district office in Navotas and indicating the time and date of receipt as well as the person with corresponding position, i.e., administrative staff, who received the order.

Not only was Gene Maga an incompetent person to receive the summons, he was also, more plainly, not in charge of petitioner’s office.   To be  "in charge"  means to have  "care and custody of, under control of, or entrusted to the management or direction of."[35] Applied to the instant case, Maga had obviously no control and management of the district office as noticeably shown by his occupation as  "maintenance"  man.   While it is not necessary that the person in charge of a defendant's regular place of business be specially authorized to receive summons, it being enough that he appears to be in charge,[36] we do not think that anyone, more so the process server, would be led to believe that Maga has been entrusted the   management   of  office  records  to  ensure  the  smooth  flow  of important documents therein.   As in Far Corporation v. Francisco,[37] no one would think that Maga was so  "integrated"  in the responsibilities and duties of petitioner as Congressman for Malabon-Navotas to make it a priori supposable that he would realize and know what should be done with any legal papers served on him.     We  would  not  dare  establish  a  precedent  whereby  any employee or anyone who pretends to be an employee, although found in the office of his employer, could validly receive summons for him.

We also do not find any evidence aliunde to prove the requisites of a valid substituted service of summons.   The process server or any other responsible HRET employee did not present evidence confirming the necessity for such method of serving the summons nor exhibiting the authority of Maga, the  "maintenance"  man, to receive the document.   There is also nothing in this case to prove, under the rules of evidence consistently relied upon by HRET,[38] that anyone with whom petitioner had a relationship of confidence knew of the outstanding summons and pending election protest to have ensured petitioner's receipt or at least notification thereof.

On its face, there is no evidentiary value to the allegation that an HRET employee, Accounting Clerk Aurora Napolis, was assured by the staff[39] of petitioner's father, Congressman Vicente A. Sandoval, that someone at petitioner's district office would be receiving  the summons.[40] In  the  first  place,  the   process  server could not have relied upon this purported assurance since it was  not made nor communicated subsequently to him while in the process of serving the summons.[41] More importantly, the record is bereft of any basis to show that the staff of Congressman Vicente A. Sandoval was petitioner's own  "speaking agent"[42] who had knowledge and authority to guarantee receipt of the summons by a competent person in charge of his district office.

Moreover, we cannot give weight to the allegation appearing in the assailed Resolution No. 01-118 that a person who supposedly identified himself as the Chief of Staff of petitioner Sandoval called up the Office of the Secretary of the HRET to inquire about the last day for filing petitioner's answer to the election protest,[43] a claim apparently intended to establish that petitioner had notice of the summons and the election protest against him.   For one, neither the 27 July 2001 joint affidavit of Process Server Pacifico Lim and Accounting Clerk Aurora Napolis, which the HRET mistook to be the affidavit of service, nor the 24 August 2001 supplemental affidavit of Process Server Pacifico Lim[44] made any reference to this supposed telephone call.   It further appears that no document on record discloses the alleged employee at the HRET Office of the Secretary with whom the purported Chief of Staff had talked on the phone.   At any rate, the Chief of Staff of petitioner has under oath denied having placed such call.[45]

It must also be stressed that, as a matter of reliability and trustworthiness, a telephone conversation must first be authenticated before it can even be received in evidence.   To this end, it is critical that the person with whom the witness was conversing on the phone is first satisfactorily identified, by voice recognition or any other means, as the Chief of Staff.[46] In the instant case, there is no evidence to conclude that the person who called up the HRET Office of the Secretary was the Chief of Staff of  petitioner    Sandoval    except    for    the    unverified    and    hearsay  identification allegedly made by the caller himself/herself.   Worst, the record does not even divulge the alleged employee at the HRET Office of the Secretary from whom the purported caller asked about the relevant matter.

Lastly, there is no proof that petitioner actually received the summons as well as a copy of the election protest which would have otherwise satisfied the purpose of giving notice of the pending suit.   What we can infer from the record is his knowledge of the HRET Order of 18 July 2001, copy received by his staff on 20 July 2001, requiring him to file his preliminary conference brief.   On the other hand, we certainly cannot presume his knowledge of the election protest in the absence of a reasonable basis for so doing.

In the absence of even the barest compliance with the procedure for substituted service of summons outlined in the Rules of Court, the presumption of regularity in the performance of public functions  does  not  apply.[47] It  is  unmistakable  that  the process server hastily served the summons upon petitioner Sandoval by  substituted service without first attempting to personally serve the process.   This violates the rule granting absolute preference to personal service of summons and, only secondarily, when the defendant cannot be promptly served in person and after compliance with stringent formal and substantive requirements, permitting resort to substituted service.   In light of the defective and irregular substituted service of summons, the HRET did not acquire jurisdiction  over  the  person  of   petitioner   and   consequently   the period within which to file his answer with counter-protest did not start to run.

Under the circumstances, petitioner was thus justified in promptly filing his motion for reconsideration of Resolution No. 01-081 and in praying without delay for admission of his answer with counter-protest on 6 August 2001, barely seventeen (17) days from receipt of the HRET Order, which was what presumably called his attention with certainty as to the pendency of the election protest.   Clearly, there was no delay in filing the motion.   At any rate, it is enough to say that where the ground invoked as basis for affirmative relief is lack of jurisdiction, the appropriate pleading or motion may be filed anytime before it is barred by estoppel or laches.[48] Needless to state, neither of these equitable principles obtains in the instant case to bar reconsideration of the assailed HRET resolutions.

In granting the petition, we note that petitioner Sandoval is not seeking the annulment of the proceedings a quo or any part thereof.   On the contrary, all he is asking for is the admission of his answer with counter-protest to the election protest filed by respondent Oreta.   No legitimate policy considerations, much less legal obstacles, exist to deny him this relief.   The result would have been different if he had asked for the dismissal of the HRET proceedings for, in that event, the prayer would be denied and the proceedings would continue although the wrongful substituted service would be immediately corrected by serving an alias summons upon the defendant.[49]

Finally, the only benefit which petitioner will reap from the admission of his answer with counter-protest is his standing to prove his affirmative defenses and to present evidence in support of his own allegations of fraud.   To be sure, the relief does not grant him the right to require respondent Oreta as protestant before the HRET to prove the material facts necessary to her cause of action - he already possesses this right when a general denial was entered in his behalf.[50] Balancing thus what he stands to gain from the instant petition and any inconvenience that a party may suffer therefrom, allowing him to file, and for the HRET to admit, his answer with counter-protest upon a clear jurisdictional ground, certainly, does not exact any momentous adjustment of the proceedings before the HRET.   Be that as it may, the correction of jurisdictional errors is an established function of the writ of certiorari and more imperatively, our mandate under the Constitution.

WHEREFORE, the instant Petition for Certiorari is GRANTED.   Resolutions Nos. 01-081 and 01-118 of respondent House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) are  MODIFIED  to the effect that the Answer with Counter-Protest of petitioner Federico S. Sandoval II is admitted to form part of the record of the election protest filed by respondent Aurora Rosario A. Oreta and to govern, in a manner appropriate under the Revised Rules of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, the proceedings to be taken  hereafter, including but not limited to the right to present evidence on his counter-protest.   No pronouncement as to costs.


Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Kapunan, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, and Corona, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., no part; took part in the assailed HRET resolution.
Mendoza, J., no part, having concurred in decision of HRET.
Panganiban, J., no part due to close professional and family relations with a party.
Quisumbing, J., on leave - abroad.

[1] HRET Resolution No. 01-319 dated 18 October 2001, p. 2; Record, p. 191.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Record, pp. 1-10.

[4] Id., p. 18.

[5] These data were reflected on a copy of the summons attached to the record; ibid.

[6] Record, p. 18-A.

[7] Id., p. 23.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Record, p. 29.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Id., pp. 41-45.

[12] Id., pp. 54-62.

[13] Id., p. 55.

[14] Id., pp. 77-79.

[15] Resolutions dated 11 September 2001 and 23 October 2001; Rollo, pp. 64, 75.

[16] Constitution, Art. VI, Sec. 17.

[17] Garcia v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 134792, 12 August 1999, 312 SCRA 353, 358-359, quoting Libanan v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 283 SCRA 520, 529-530 (1997).

[18] Ibid.

[19] G.R. No. 109026, 4 January 1994, 229 SCRA 90.

[20] G.R. No. 84297, 8 December 1988, 168 SCRA 391.

[21] G.R. No. 118597, 14 July 1995, 316 SCRA 464.

[22] Ang Ping v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126947, 15 July 1999, 310 SCRA 343.

[23] See Note 21; Rule 80 reads: “Applicability. – The following shall be applicable by analogy or in suppletory character and effect insofar as they may be applicable and are not inconsistent with these Rules and with the orders, resolutions and decisions of the Tribunal, namely: (1) The Rules of Court; (2) Decisions of the Supreme Court; and (3) Decisions of the Electoral Tribunals.”

[24] See Note 22.

[25] Mapa v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 79374, 2 October 1992, 214 SCRA 417; Toyota Cubao v. Court of Appeals, 346 Phil. 181 (1997).

[26] Umandap v. Sabio, G.R. No. 140244, 29 August 2000, 339 SCRA 243.

[27] See Notes 21 and  23.

[28] Resolution No. 01-118 dated 9 August 2001; Record, pp. 78-79.

[29] Record, p. 55.

[30] Annex G of Petition; Rollo, p. 56.  In English, the sentences read: “I am a maintenance man who cleans and repairs any item in the office or the house of anyone who would want to contract my services.   On June 7, 2001, I was instructed by Mrs. Jeannie N. Sandoval, wife of Cong. Federico S. Sandoval II, to clean the ‘district office’ of Cong. Sandoval at M. Naval St., San Jose, Navotas, Metro Manila.  Mrs. Sandoval is a regular client whom I serve regularly doing chores she would ask me to do.”

[31] Black’s Law Dictionary (1991), p. 284.

[32] No. L-29067, 31 May 1977, 77 SCRA 209; Filmerco Commercial Co., Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 70661, 9 April 1987, 149 SCRA 193.

[33] Joint Affidavit of Process Server Pacifico C. Lim and Accounting Clerk Aurora Napolis; Record, p. 18-B.

[34] See Note 26.

[35] See Note 31, p. 761.

[36] Gochangco v. CFI-Negros Occidental, No. L-49396, 15 January 1988, 157 SCRA 40.

[37] G.R. No. 57218, 12 December 1986, 146 SCRA 197.

[38] See Note 21.

[39] He is a certain Primitivo P. Reyes, alleged political affairs officer of Cong. Vicente A. Sandoval.

[40] See Note 33; Rollo, p. 26.

[41] Ibid.

[42] R.C. Park, et al., Evidence Law (1998), p. 256.

[43] Rollo, p. 26; Resolution No. 01-118.

[44] Record, p. 87.

[45] Rollo, p. 58; Affidavit of Atty. Cristopher B. Landrito, the Chief of Staff of petitioner Sandoval.

[46] R. Francisco, Evidence (1996), p. 12.

[47] Hamilton v. Levy, G.R. No. 139283, 15 November 2000, 344 SCRA 281; Venturanza v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 77760, 11 December 1987, 156 SCRA 305; Arevalo v. Quilatan, 202 Phil. 256 (1982).

[48] See Note 22.

[49] See Note 37, p. 201.

[50] See Note 19, p. 94.

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