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84. ESTEVES VS. SARMIENTO The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Rustico B. Gagate for petitioner.


G.R. No. 182374. November 11, 2008.* Delfin R. Lopez for private respondent.
JEREMIAS V. ESTEVES, petitioner, vs. RENE V. SARMIENTO, NICODEMO T. 658
FERRER, in their respective capacities as Presiding Officer and Member of the 658 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Second Division COMELEC, Manila and REYNALDO TEH BITONG, respondents. Esteves vs. Sarmiento
Election Law; Commission on Elections (COMELEC); Certiorari; The TINGA, J.:
requirement that an aggrieved party must first file a motion for reconsideration of This is a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition1 under Rule 65 of the
a resolution of the Division to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc is 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, assailing the Resolution 2 of the Second Division of
mandatory and jurisdictional in invoking the power of review of the Supreme the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in SPR No. 46-2007. Said resolution set
Court.—Under the aforequoted constitutional provisions, the requirement that an aside the Order3 dated 8 September 2007 issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
aggrieved party must first file a motion for reconsideration of a resolution of the Branch 96, Baler, Aurora and consequently dismissed the election protest filed by
Division to the COMELEC en banc is mandatory and jurisdictional in invoking the herein petitioner Jeremias V. Esteves against private respondent Mayor Reynaldo
power of review of the Supreme Court. Failure to abide by this procedural Teh Bitong.
requirement constitutes a ground for dismissal of the petition. As culled from the records of the case, the following antecedent facts appear:
Same; Same; Same; The power of review of the Supreme Court of the rulings In the national and local elections conducted last 14 May 2007, petitioner and
of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is limited only to the final decision or private respondent both ran for the position of municipal mayor of the Municipality
resolution of the Commission on Elections of Casiguran, Aurora. On 15 May 2007, the Municipal Board of Canvassers
_______________ proclaimed private respondent as the duly-elected Mayor of Casiguran on the basis
* EN BANC. of the results of the canvassing, which showed him having garnered 3,342 votes or
657 with a margin of 48 votes over petitioner, who obtained 3,294 votes. 4
VOL. 570, NOVEMBER 11, 2008 657 On 25 May 2007, petitioner filed an election protest before the Regional Trial
Esteves vs. Sarmiento Court of Baler, Aurora. The protest was docketed as Election Protest Case (EPC)
(COMELEC) en banc and not the final resolution of its Division.—All election No. 99 and raffled to Branch 96 presided by Judge Corazon D. Soluren.5
cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, shall be decided by the COMELEC The RTC then issued a precautionary protection order directing the Municipal
in division, and the motion for reconsideration shall be decided by the Treasurer and Election Officer of Casiguran to take immediate steps to safeguard
COMELEC en banc. As held in Ambil, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, 344 SCRA the integrity of all the ballot boxes, lists of voters and other paraphernalia
358 (2000), the power of review of the Supreme Court of the rulings of the _______________
COMELEC is limited only to the final decision or resolution of the COMELEC en 1 Rollo, pp. 3-20.
banc and not the final resolution of its Division. The Supreme Court has no power 2 Dated 29 February 2008; signed by Commissioner Nicodemo T. Ferrer with
to review, via certiorari, an interlocutory order or even a final resolution of a Presiding Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento, dissenting; id., at pp. 21-29.
Division of the Commission on Elections. 3 Id., at pp. 79-80.
Same; Same; Same; Motions for Reconsiderations; Certiorari cannot be 4 Id., at p. 22.
resorted to as a shield from the adverse consequences of petitioner’s own omission to 5 Id.
file the required motion for reconsideration.—Since the COMELEC Rules of 659
Procedure allows the review of a resolution of the Division by the COMELEC en VOL. 570, NOVEMBER 11, 2008 659
banc, the filing of the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition is premature. Esteves vs. Sarmiento
The petition does not allege that petitioner indeed filed a motion for reconsideration used in the elections and thereafter directed that all the election paraphernalia,
before the COMELEC en banc. The unquestioned rule in this jurisdiction is including the ballot boxes and lists of voters, subject of the protest be brought before
that certiorari will lie only if there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and the court.6
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law against the acts of public Private respondent then filed an answer, which the RTC admitted in an Order
respondent. Certiorari cannot be resorted to as a shield from the adverse dated 2 August 2007. In the same order, the RTC denied the motion for
consequences of petitioner’s own omission to file the required motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of private respondent’s counter-protest on the
reconsideration. A litigant should first exhaust the administrative remedies ground of non-payment of filing fee. Thereafter, the RTC ordered the creation of
provided by law before seeking judicial intervention in order to give the the revision committees.7
administrative agency an opportunity to decide correctly the matter and prevent On 6 September 2007, private respondent filed a motion to dismiss the election
unnecessary and premature resort to the court. The premature invocation of protest, arguing that it was defective in form and substance as it did not specify
judicial intervention is fatal to one’s cause of action. the precincts where fraud and irregularities were committed. On 8 September
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Certiorari and Prohibition.
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2007, the RTC issued the order denying private respondent’s motion to dismiss for 12 Rollo, p. 21.
lack of merit.8 13 Id., at p. 90.
Thus, private respondent filed before the COMELEC a petition 661
for certiorari and prohibition with application for temporary restraining order VOL. 570, NOVEMBER 11, 2008 661
(TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction.9 The petition sought to nullify the RTC Esteves vs. Sarmiento
Order dated 8 September 2007 denying private respondent’s motion to dismiss. It Hence, the instant petition, raising the following arguments: (1) the COMELEC
also prayed that the election protest filed by petitioner be dismissed and the (Second Division) has no jurisdiction to entertain special relief cases like petitions
proceedings thereon enjoined on the ground that the election protest failed to for certiorari, prohibition or mandamus; (2) the challenged resolution did not
comply with the requirements of Section 11(f), Rule 210 of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC. comply with the constitutional requirement that it must be decided by a majority
Petitioner filed an answer on 5 December 2007. vote of all the members; and (3) the challenged resolution negated the spirit and
_______________ very purpose of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC.
6 Rollo, p. 22. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) manifested that under Section 5, Rule
7 Id., at pp. 22-23. 65 of the Rules of Court, only the private respondent is required to appear and
8 Id., at p. 23. defend the case, both on his own behalf and on behalf of the public respondent
9 Id., at pp. 51-78. COMELEC, and prayed that the COMELEC be excused from filing the required
10 Supreme Court A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC (2007), Rule 2, Section 11. Contents of comment.14 In a Resolution dated 12 August 2008, the Court granted the motion of
the Protest or Petition.—An election protest or petition for quo warranto shall the OSG.15
specifically state the following facts: x x x The petition deserves dismissal.
(f) a detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of Section 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution expressly states:
showing the electoral frauds, anomalies or irregularities in the protested “Section 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions,
precincts. and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of
660 election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election cases
660 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of
Esteves vs. Sarmiento decisions shall be decided by the Commission en banc.”
After hearing private respondent’s application, the COMELEC (Second Also, Section 7, Article IX-A of the Constitution provides:
Division) issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on 06 December 2007, which “Section 7. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its
directed Judge Soluren to desist from further proceeding with Election Protest Case Members any case or matter brought before it within sixty days from the date of its
No. 96 until further orders from the COMELEC.11 submission for decision or resolution. A case or matter is deemed submitted for
Thereafter, petitioner filed before this Court a special civil action decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum
for certiorari and prohibition with application for issuance of a temporary required by the rules of the Commission or by the Commission itself. Unless
restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. The petition, docketed as otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of
G.R. No. 180792, prayed that a temporary restraining order be issued enjoining the each Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on
COMELEC (Second Division) from taking cognizance of SPR Case No. 46-2007 and _______________
that the TRO issued by the COMELEC be ordered lifted. 14 Id., at pp. 107-110.
On 15 January 2008, the Court resolved to dismiss G.R. No. 180792 for failure 15 Id., at p. 112.
of the petition to state the material dates showing that the petition was filed on 662
time, failure to submit the required competent proof of identity in the 662 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
verification/certification, failure to give an explanation why service was not Esteves vs. Sarmiento
personally made and failure to show that any grave abuse of discretion was certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof.”
committed by the COMELEC in rendering the challenged order. Under the aforequoted constitutional provisions, the requirement that an
On 29 February 2008, the COMELEC (Second Division) issued the assailed aggrieved party must first file a motion for reconsideration of a resolution of the
resolution penned by Commissioner Nicodemo T. Ferrer. The assailed resolution Division to the COMELEC en banc is mandatory and jurisdictional in invoking the
nullified the 8 September 2007 Order of the RTC and, accordingly, dismissed EPC power of review of the Supreme Court. Failure to abide by this procedural
No. 99.12 The other member of the Second Division, Commissioner Rene V. requirement constitutes a ground for dismissal of the petition.16
Sarmiento, wrote a dissenting opinion.13 It appears that before the issuance of the All election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, shall be decided by
assailed resolution, the third member of the Second Division, Presiding the COMELEC in division, and the motion for reconsideration shall be decided by
Commissioner Florentino A. Tuazon, Jr. had retired from the service. the COMELEC en banc.17 As held in Ambil, Jr. v. Commission on Elections,18 the
_______________ power of review of the Supreme Court of the rulings of the COMELEC is limited
11 Rollo, pp. 81-82. only to the final decision or resolution of the COMELEC en banc and not the final
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resolution of its Division. The Supreme Court has no power to review, via certiorari, 20 Alcosero v. National Labor Relations Commission, 351 Phil. 368, 378; 288
an interlocutory order or even a final resolution of a Division of the Commission on SCRA 129, 137-138 (1998).
Elections. 21 Palomado v. National Labor Relations Commission, 327 Phil. 472, 481; 257
Moreover, pursuant to Section 5 (c), Rule 319 of the COMELEC Rules of SCRA 680, 687 (1996).
Procedure, a resolution issued by a Division of 22 Alcosero v. National Labor Relations Commission, supra.
_______________ 664
16 Repol v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 161418, 28 April 2004, 428 SCRA 664 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
321, 330. Esteves vs. Sarmiento
17 Baytan v. Commission on Elections, 444 Phil. 812, 826; 396 SCRA 703, 716 premature resort to the court.23 The premature invocation of judicial intervention
(2003); See also Milla v. Balmores-Laxa, 454 Phil. 452, 462; 406 SCRA 679, 687 is fatal to one’s cause of action.24
(2003); Villarosa v. Commission on Elections, 377 Phil. 497, 506; 319 SCRA 470, WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition is DENIED.
478 (1999); Zarate v. Commission on Elections, 376 Phil. 722; 318 SCRA 608 Costs against petitioner.
(1999); Canicosa v. Commission on Elections, 347 Phil. 189; 282 SCRA 512 SO ORDERED.
(1997); Sarmiento v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 105628, 06 August 1992, Puno (C.J.), Quisumbing, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales,
212 SCRA 307. Azcuna, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Reyes, Leonardo-De
18 398 Phil. 257; 344 SCRA 358 (2000). Castro and Brion, JJ.,concur.
19 Sec. 5. Quorum; Votes Required. x x x Ynares-Santiago, J., On Leave.
(c) Any motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Petition for certiorari and prohibition denied.
Division shall be resolved by the Commission en banc Note.—Where administrative remedies are available, petitions for the issuance
663 of the peremptory writs of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus do not lie.
VOL. 570, NOVEMBER 11, 2008 663 (Olivares vs. Marquez, 438 SCRA 679 [2004])
Esteves vs. Sarmiento ——o0o——
the COMELEC must first be elevated to the COMELEC en banc by filing a motion _______________
for reconsideration. 23 Joson III v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 160562, 13 February 2006, 482 SCRA
The filing of a motion for reconsideration is mandatory because the mode by 360, 370-371.
which a decision, order or ruling of the COMELEC en banc may be elevated to the 24 Metro Drug Distribution, Inc. v. Metro Drug Corporation Employees
Supreme Court is by the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 64 of the Rules Association–Federation of Free Workers, G.R. No. 142666, 26 September 2005, 471
of Civil Procedure. It is settled that the filing of a motion for reconsideration of the SCRA 45, 58.
order, resolution or decision of the tribunal, board or office is, subject to well-
recognized exceptions, a condition sine qua non to the institution of a special civil © Copyright 2019 Central Book Supply, Inc. All rights reserved.
action for certiorari.The rationale therefore is that the law intends to afford the
tribunal, board or office an opportunity to rectify the errors and mistakes it may
have lapsed into before resort to the courts of justice can be had.20
Since the COMELEC Rules of Procedure allows the review of a resolution of the
Division by the COMELEC en banc, the filing of the instant petition
for certiorari and prohibition is premature. The petition does not allege that
petitioner indeed filed a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC en banc.
The unquestioned rule in this jurisdiction is that certiorari will lie only if there is
no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course
of law against the acts of public respondent.21 Certiorari cannot be resorted to as a
shield from the adverse consequences of petitioner’s own omission to file the
required motion for reconsideration.22 A litigant should first exhaust the
administrative remedies provided by law before seeking judicial intervention in
order to give the administrative agency an opportunity to decide correctly the
matter and prevent unnecessary and
_______________
except motions on interlocutory orders of the division which shall be resolved by
the division which issued the order.

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