516 Phil. 767
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition to declare the nullity of the proclamation of Manuel Alejandro is granted in part. The Election Officer of Alicia, Isabela is hereby ordered to reconvene the Municipal Board of Canvassers with the purpose of correcting the errors committed in tallying the votes for the Vice Mayoralty race in Alicia, Isabela.Petitioner Alejandro sought reconsideration of the said resolution and prayed for the deferment of the reconvening of the MBC. The said motion likewise prayed for the dismissal of the petition for having been filed out of time and for utter lack of merit.
SO ORDERED. 
It appears that the foregoing motion for reconsideration is not accompanied by a filing fee in the amount of Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00).Private respondent Co filed an Opposition/Comment stating that the COMELEC en banc had not acquired jurisdiction to hear and decide petitioner Alejandro's motion for reconsideration due to his failure to pay the required docket fee on time.
In view of the foregoing, the motion is hereby elevated to the Commission en banc for proper disposition.
The "Opposition to Respondent's Supposed Motion for Reconsideration and Urgent Prayer for Deferment" is hereby noted.
SO ORDERED. 
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to DENY the instant Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit.Hence, the recourse to this Court by petitioner Alejandro alleging that:
ACCORDINGLY, the Resolution of the Commission (Second Division) dated November 23, 2004 directing EO Teresita Angangan to 1) reconvene the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Alicia, Isabela for the purpose of correcting the errors committed in the tallying of votes for the Vice-Mayoralty race in Alicia, Isabela; and 2) determine and proclaim the rightful winner, is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED. 
THE COMELEC ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF ITS DISCRETION AND DENIED PETITIONER HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS WHEN IT:On March 29, 2005, the petitioner filed a Manifestation with Urgent Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order or Status Quo Ante Order. Without waiting for the action of this Court, the COMELEC en banc  issued a Writ of Execution  on March 30, 2005, ordering the petitioner to vacate the position of the Vice-Mayor of Alicia, Isabela, and to cease and desist from performing the functions thereof.
- DETERMINED THAT THE PETITION OF DAMIAN CO WAS TIMELY FILED.
- FAILED TO ORDER THE CONDUCT OF HEARINGS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE DISPUTED ELECTION DOCUMENTS.
- DID NOT IDENTIFY WHERE THE ERRORS THAT MUST BE CORRECTED LIE.
- ASSUMED THAT THERE WERE MANIFEST ERRORS TO CORRECT DESPITE THE LACK OF ANY COMPETENT PROOF OF EXISTENCE OF MANIFEST ERRORS, THE BEST EVIDENCE BEING THE ELECTION RETURNS AND STATEMENT OF VOTES THEMSELVES.
D.1 THE BASIS FOR THE CORRECTION WAS THE ANSWER OF THE FORMER ELECTION OFFICER, NOT THE ELECTION RETURNS.
D.2 THE FORMER ELECTION OFFICER WAS NOT EVEN AUTHORIZED TO REPRESENT THE MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS.
D.3 THE FORMER ELECTION OFFICER WAS NOT EVEN PRESENTED AS WITNESS.
D.4 THE EVIDENCE OFFERED BY THE FORMER ELECTION OFFICER WAS ILLEGALLY PROCURED.
- DID NOT NULLIFY THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS ASSUMING THAT THERE WERE MANIFEST ERRORS.
E.1 THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS PROCEEDED WITH THE CANVASSING DESPITE THE TIMELY FILING OF A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND IT DID NOT ACT, CONSIDER OR RULE ON THE MOTIONS TO NULLIFY THE EXECUTION OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE SECOND DIVISION.
- AFFIRMED A NON-EXISTENT RESOLUTION.
The petition to declare the nullity of a proclamation should be within a reasonable period. Again, private respondent [herein petitioner] is correct when he said that the Supreme Court has declared that ten days is a reasonable period.The COMELEC en banc affirmed the foregoing ruling.
Considering however, that the tenth day after Alejandro's proclamation fell on a Sunday, the rule is that the petition may be filed on the next working day. Although it is again true that the Commission allowed its employees to render overtime work on May 23, 2004, it would not automatically mean that those intending to file their petitions should do so on a Sunday. The rule moving a deadline to the next working day if it falls on a Sunday is an acknowledgment that majority of our people consider Sunday a day of rest. 
Election contests involve public interest. Technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate in the choice of their elective officials ... Laws (and rules) governing election contests must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by mere technical objections. In an election case, the court has an imperative duty to ascertain by all means within its command who is the real candidate elected by the electorate. (Italics supplied)The COMELEC likewise did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it treated private respondent Co's petition as one for annulment of proclamation although it was denominated as also for correction of manifest errors. In fact, it finds support in several cases decided by the Court. For example, in Mentang v. COMELEC,  we held that where the relief sought is the correction of mathematical errors which are not attributable to incorrect entries in any of the election returns, statement of votes and certificate of canvass but in the mere computation of the votes reflected in those election documents, it is a petition for annulment/declaration of nullity of proclamation, not a petition to correct manifest errors.
Instead of dismissing the petition for purely technical reasons, the COMELEC correctly considered the merits thereof. xxx
Undoubtedly, therefore, the only issue that remains unresolved is the allowance of the correction of what are purely mathematical and/or mechanical errors in the addition of the votes received by both candidates. It does not involve the opening of ballot boxes; neither does it involve the examination and/or appreciation of ballots. The correction sought by private respondent and respondent MBCs of Tayug and San Manuel is correction of manifest mistakes in mathematical addition. Certainly, this only calls for a mere clerical act of reflecting the true and correct votes received by the candidates by the MBCs involved. In this case, the manifest errors sought to be corrected involve the proper and diligent addition of the votes in the municipalities of Tayug and San Manuel, Pangasinan.In Milla v. Balmores-Laxa,  we sustained the power of the COMELEC to annul the proclamation, due to an alleged error in the tabulation of the statement of votes, of a winning candidate for municipal councilor who had taken his oath and assumed office as such. We ruled therein that:xxx
Consequently, by margin of 72 votes, private respondent indisputably won the challenged seat in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the sixth district of Pangasinan. Petitioner's proclamation and assumption into public office was therefore flawed from the beginning, the same having been based on a faulty tabulation. Hence, respondent COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in setting aside the illegal proclamation. 
The Statement of Votes forms the basis of the Certificate of Canvass and of the proclamation. Any error in the statement ultimately affects the validity of the proclamation.Significantly, in Milla, the petition for correction of entries in the statement of votes was filed one month after the proclamation.
If a candidate's proclamation is based on a Statement of Votes which contains erroneous entries, it is null and void. It is no proclamation at all and the proclaimed candidate's assumption of office cannot deprive the COMELEC of the power to annul the proclamation. 
xxx [T]he statutory power of supervision and control by the COMELEC over the boards of canvassers includes the power to revise, reverse or set aside the action of the boards, as well as to do what the boards should have done, even if questions relative thereto have not been elevated by an aggrieved party to the COMELEC, for such power includes the power to initiate motu proprio or by itself such steps or actions as may be required pursuant to law. The COMELEC's power of direct supervision and control includes such authority as reviewing the actions of the board, extending an inquiry of questions affecting the genuineness of election returns beyond the election records of the polling places involved, annulling canvass or proclamation based on incomplete returns or on incorrect or tampered returns, invalidating a canvass or proclamation made in an unauthorized meeting of the Board of Canvassers either because it lacked a quorum or because the board did not meet at all, or requiring the board to convene by deputizing and instructing the City Treasurer to convene the Boards of Canvassers for the respective localities involved. The petitioner avers in his memorandum that "not a single election return or a single statement of votes was presented by any party."  In his petition filed with the Court, however, he attached a copy of the private respondent's petition before the COMELEC which had a copy of the certificate of canvass of votes  and the disputed election returns as annexes thereto. 
2) When the issue involves the correction of manifest errors in the tabulation or tallying of the results during the canvassing as where (1) a copy of the election returns or certificate of canvass was tabulated more than once, (2) two or more copies of the election returns of one precinct, or two or more copies of certificate of canvass were tabulated separately, (3) there had been a mistake in the copying of figures into the statement of votes or into the certificate of canvass, or (4) so-called returns from non-existent precincts were included in the canvass, and such errors could not have been discovered during the canvassing despite the exercise of due diligence and proclamation of the winning candidates had already been made. The following pronouncement of the COMELEC Second Division in its resolution is particularly instructive:
There is no question that errors were committed regarding the copying of the results of the elections from the Election Returns to the Statement of Votes. Both the public and private respondent admitted that errors were indeed made. They just differ as to who will be the real winner if these errors are corrected. According to public respondent, petitioner [herein private respondent] won; private respondent [herein petitioner] maintains he would still have won even if the errors were corrected.Likewise, the COMELEC en banc found that:
What is involved is a simple problem of arithmetic. The Statement of Votes involved in this case does not match the entries made in the election returns.
It is thus imperative that a Municipal Board of Canvasser be immediately convened to correct with dispatch the errors committed in the tallying of votes. 
In terms of the third issue, the contention of the private respondent [herein petitioner], that the Commission (Second Division) gravely erred in finding that he had admitted that there were manifest errors, cannot be given credence. Going over the records of the case, errors were indeed committed regarding the copying of results of the elections from the election returns to the SOV. It is already beside the point whether or not private respondent admitted such error. The foregoing factual findings of the COMELEC, which are supported by substantial evidence, are binding on the Court. Hence, petitioner Alejandro's allegation that the manifest errors were based on lack of competent proof must fail.
Despite the admission of private respondent [petitioner Alejandro herein] that there were indeed errors in the tallying of votes, pursuant to the ruling by the Supreme Court in Bince, Jr. v. Comelec, We cannot annul the proclamation of private respondent without notice and hearing. This requirement will be satisfied when the Municipal Board of Canvassers convenes and corrects the errors committed in the original tallying of votes. In his motion for reconsideration filed with the COMELEC en banc, the petitioner averred that he was notified, through the undated Notice signed by Angangan, that "the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Alicia, Isabela, will reconvene on December 8, 2004, at nine o'clock in the morning at the Session Hall, Sangguniang Bayan, Alicia, Isabela. xxx" 
Sec. 2. Period for Filing Motions for Reconsideration.—A motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order, or ruling of a Division shall be filed within five (5) days from the promulgation thereof. Such motion, if not pro-forma, suspends the execution or implementation of the decision, resolution, order or ruling.The petitioner maintains that his motion for reconsideration was timely filed on December 1, 2004, or within the five-day reglementary period, since he received a copy of the November 23, 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division on November 26, 2004. This contention is not quite correct. The petitioner cannot count the five-day reglementary period from November 26, 2004, the date he received a copy of the November 23, 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division. Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure clearly provides that the motion for reconsideration should be "xxx filed within five (5) days from the promulgation thereof."  The rationale for reckoning the period from the date of promulgation was explained, thus: "A party cannot feign ignorance of the date of promulgation of a decision or resolution because it is previously fixed and notice is served upon him in advance."  Section 5, Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides:
Sec. 5. Promulgation. – The promulgation of a decision or resolution of the Commission or a Division shall be made on a date previously fixed, of which notice shall be served in advance upon the parties or their attorneys personally or by registered mail or by telegram.The petitioner's motion for reconsideration was thus filed late on December 1, 2004 as more than five days had lapsed from the promulgation of the November 23, 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division. Worse, the filing fee therefor was paid only on December 13, 2004. Given these defects, the petitioner's motion for reconsideration could not have the effect of suspending the execution of the November 23, 2004 Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division.
On June 21, 2004, public respondent Election Officer Teresita B. Angangan, Chairman of the Board, submitted her answer. She admitted that there were indeed manifest errors committed by the Board in the preparation of the Statement of Votes but denied that "dagdag-bawas was done, practiced, perpetrated and repeated several times over by the Municipal Board of Canvassers." She maintained that there was no dagdag-bawas but a mere error in tabulation or tallying.The COMELEC en banc upheld the reconvening of the MBC, thus:
EO Angangan also submitted a table comparing the figures in the Election Returns and in the Statement of Votes in all 156 clustered precincts. In this table (Annex 1 of public respondent's Answer), she pointed out that based on the Election Returns, petitioner [private respondent herein] should have won the elections after garnering 11,401 votes as against the 11,152 votes for private respondent.xxx
There is no question that errors were committed regarding the copying of the results of the elections from the Election Returns to the Statement of Votes. Both the public and private respondent admitted that errors were indeed made. They just differ as to who will be the real winner if these errors are corrected. According to public respondent, petitioner won; private respondent maintains he would still have won even if the errors were corrected.
What is involved here is a simple problem of arithmetic. The Statement of Votes involved in this case does not match the entries made in the election returns.
It is thus imperative that a Municipal Board of Canvasser be immediately convened to correct with dispatch the errors committed in the tallying of votes. 
xxx "The teaching of past experience is that every effort should be strained, every means should be explored, to ascertain the true returns with the end in view that upon the basis thereof, proclamation untainted by force, fraud, forgery, mistake and the like, may be made. It is true indeed that after proclamation, the losing candidate may yet have the remedy of an election protest. But that may not prove effective. A number of factors, such as the almost illimitable resources of lawyers and the delay that may be occasioned may well frustrate the ends of the protest. Victory may just be in sound, and not in substance." While it is true that as a general rule, the Board of Canvassers becomes functus officio after it has performed its last task, which is to proclaim the winning candidates, the Highest Tribunal had the opportunity to cite an exception to such general rule in Javier vs. COMELEC, where it stated that "it may be conceded as a general proposition that when a Board of Canvassers has fully performed its duty and proclaimed the result of the election according to law and adjourned sine die, it may be deemed functus officio in the sense that the members of the board have no power voluntarily to reassemble and re-canvass the returns. But the foregoing pronouncement finds no application in this case where as already ruled, the canvass and proclamation were made in violation of the lawful order of the COMELEC.We find no grave abuse of discretion in the foregoing COMELEC pronouncements. There is no controversy that discrepancies exist in the statement of votes and that reflected in the questioned election returns. Considering that any error in the statement of votes would affect the proclamation made on the basis thereof, the resolution of the COMELEC directing the MBOC to reconvene to rectify the errors it committed in tallying the votes for the vice-mayoralty race in Alicia, Isabela should be upheld. Indeed, "above and beyond all, the determination of the true will of the electorate should be paramount. It is their voice, not ours or of anyone else, that must prevail. This, in essence, is the democracy we continue to hold sacred." 
Furthermore, where an election return has been amended by court order or the election return from a certain precinct has been wrongfully or erroneously excluded by the Board of Canvassers, We held that the COMELEC has the power to order a new canvass of the election returns even after a proclamation had already been made. The underlying theory therefore, it was said, is the ministerial duty of the Board of Canvassers to base the proclamation on the election returns of all the precincts of the municipality. Where the Board of Canvassers, as in this instance with knowledge that the return from one precinct is undoubtedly vitiated by clerical mistake, continued the canvass and proclaimed a winner based on the result of such canvass, the proclamation cannot be said to have been in faithful discharge of its ministerial duty under the law.