G.R. No. 195229. October 9, 2012
Antipolo (candidate for Mayorality) filed a petition under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code to disqualify Lonzanida and to deny due course or to cancel certificate of candidacy on the ground that Lonzanida was elected, and had served, as mayor of San Antonio, Zambales for four (3) consecutive terms.
COMELEC Second Division hold that Aratea, the duly elected Vice-Mayor of San Antonio, Zambales, should be declared Mayor pursuant to the Local Government Code’s rule on succession.
While Lonzanida’s motion for reconsideration is pending with COMELEC en banc, Lonzanida and Efren Aratea (Aratea) were respectively proclaimed Mayor and Vice-Mayor. Aratea wrote to the DILG to allow him to take the oath of office as Mayor of San Antonio, Zambales since Lonzanida was disqualified to hold office . Robredo allowed Aratea to take an oath of office as “the permanent Municipal Mayor of San Antonio, Zambales without prejudice however to the outcome of the cases pending before the [COMELEC].”
The COMELEC En Banc issued a Resolution disqualifying Lonzanida from running for Mayor in the May 2010 elections.
Antipolo filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene and claimed her right to be proclaimed as Mayor of San Antonio, Zambales because Lonzanida.
- Whether Aratea is the rightful occupant to the Office of the Mayor of San Antonio, Zambales.
- Whether Lonzanida was disqualified under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, or made a false material representation under Section 78 of the same Code that resulted in his certificate of candidacy being void ab initio
1. NO. Antipolo, the alleged “second placer,” should be proclaimed Mayor because Lonzanida’s certificate of candidacy was void ab initio. In short, Lonzanida was never a candidate at all. All votes for Lonzanida were stray votes. Thus, Antipolo, the only qualified candidate, actually garnered the highest number of votes for the position of Mayor.
The nature of the eligibility requirements for a local elective office and the disqualifications that may apply to candidates necessarily create distinctions on the remedies available, on the effects of lack of eligibility and on the application of disqualification.
2. Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code states that a certificate of candidacy may be denied or cancelled when there is false material representation of the contents of the certificate of candidacy. The Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78 to a quo warranto proceeding under Section 253 of the OEC since they both deal with the eligibility or qualification of a candidate, with the distinction mainly in the fact that a “Section 78” petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition for quo warranto is filed after proclamation of the winning candidate.
Clearly, the violation by Lonzanida of the three-term limit rule, or his conviction by final judgment of the crime of falsification under the Revised Penal Code, does not constitute a ground for a petition under Section 68.
Lonzanida’s certificate of candidacy was cancelled because he was ineligible or not qualified to run for Mayor. Whether his certificate of candidacy is cancelled before or after the elections is immaterial because the cancellation on such ground means he was never a candidate from the very beginning, his certificate of candidacy being void ab initio. There was only one qualified candidate for Mayor in the May 2010 elections—Antipolo, who therefore received the highest number of votes.