Sunday, November 5, 2023




G.R. No. 264029

August 8, 2023


Petitioner and private respondent were candidates for the position of Punong Barangay of Matacla, Goa, Camarines Sur, in the May 14, 2018 BSK. E. Private respondent garnered 786 votes, while petitioner got 789 votes. Not satisfied with the election result, private respondent filed a protest before the MTC which granted the protest. The COMELEC dismissed the appeal for appellant’s failure to submit his brief within the prescribed period. MR to the COMELEC En banc was denied, hence this petition.


Whether the COMELEC EN BANC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing petitioner’s appeal due to the latter’s failure to perfect the appeal in accordance with law.


No. The COMELEC en Banc did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing petitioner’s appeal due to the latter’s failure to perfect the appeal in accordance with law.

The Court held that petitioner failed to comply with Secs. 11 and 13 of the Rules of Court, in relation to Sec. 3, Rule 12 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, as amended, as well as Sec. 2, Rule 13 of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC. It was undisputed that when petitioner was required by the COMELEC Division to file his brief, he failed to submit an affidavit of mailing, the registry receipt as proof of service, and a written explanation as to why service by mail was resorted to. Further, petitioner failed to justify his noncompliance with the rules. If the Supreme Court were to extend liberality to petitioner despite his unjustified disregard of the rules, it would directly be taking part in undermining the rule of law and the public's trust in the judicial system by promoting arbitrariness in the enforcement of procedural rules.

 The SC cited is ruling in National Grid Corporation of the Philippines v. Bautista: Liberality in the application of the rules is not an end in itself. It must be pleaded with factual basis and must be allowed for equitable ends. There must be no indication that the violation of the rule is due to negligence or design. Liberality is an extreme exception, justifiable only when equity exists.

The Court further explained that even if the procedural errors committed by petitioner were set aside, the petition remains bereft of merit. Petitioner argues that the MTC erred in not considering the ballots that he failed to formally offer in evidence, so citing Reforma, where the Court held that it was erroneous for the lower court to not examine certain ballots "for the sole reason that they were not formally presented as evidence." However, with the advent of the 1987 Constitution and the adoption of new rules, the case cited by petitioner can no longer be squarely applied to the instant case. The MTC herein resolved the present case by applying A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC. If any piece of evidence was not formally offered by the parties, then such evidence cannot be considered by the court. In this case, petitioner himself admitted that he failed to offer in evidence 12 ballots due to his own inadvertence.

 In addition, the rule on formal offer of evidence is by no means merely technical. The rule on formal offer of evidence is intertwined with the constitutional guarantee of due process since the parties must be given the opportunity to review the evidence submitted against them and take the necessary actions to secure their case. As laid down in Sec. 2, Rule 13 of A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC, after the formal offer of evidence of a party, the opposing party is required to immediately interpose his or her objections. Afterwards, the court rules on the formal offer of evidence. Without such formal offer, the opposing party is effectively deprived of the opportunity to object. Thus, the MTC committed no error in its judgment and it properly acknowledged that its hands were tied by the rules when it stated that it could not consider the evidence not formally offered by petitioner.

 The SC emphasized that rules of procedure are intended to ensure the orderly administration of justice and the protection of substantive rights in judicial and extrajudicial proceedings.

 Petitioner's urgent prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or status quo ante order and/or preliminary injunction was thus DENIED.


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