Sunday, October 23, 2011

Aquino v COMELEC (1995)

Aquino vs. Comelec
Agapito A. Aquino, petitioner vs. Commission on Election, Move Makati, Mateo Bedon, and Juanito Icaro, respondents
Sept, 18, 1995
Special Civil Action in the Supreme Court. Certiorari.

Relevant Provisions:
Section 6, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution
No person shall be a Member of the House of Representatives unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and, on the day of the election, is at least twenty-five years of age, able to read and write, and, except the party-list representatives, a registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected, and a resident thereof for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election.

On 20 March 1995, Agapito A. Aquino, the petitioner, filed his Certificate of Candidacy for the position of Representative for the new (remember: newly created) Second Legislative District of Makati City. In his certificate of candidacy, Aquino stated that he was a resident of the aforementioned district (284 Amapola Cor. Adalla Sts., Palm Village, Makati) for 10 months.
Move Makati, a registered political party, and Mateo Bedon, Chairman of LAKAS-NUCD-UMDP of Barangay Cembo, Makati City, filed a petition to disqualify Aquino on the ground that the latter lacked the residence qualification as a candidate for congressman which under Section 6, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, should be for a period not less than one year preceding the (May 8, 1995) day of the election.
Faced with a petition for disqualification, Aquino amended the entry on his residency in his certificate of candidacy to 1 year and 13 days. The Commission on Elections passed a resolution that dismissed the petition on May 6 and allowed Aquino to run in the election of 8 May. Aquino, with 38,547 votes, won against Augusto Syjuco with 35,910 votes.
Move Makati filed a motion of reconsideration with the Comelec, to which, on May 15, the latter acted with an order suspending the proclamation of Aquino until the Commission resolved the issue. On 2 June, the Commission on Elections found Aquino ineligible and disqualified for the elective office for lack of constitutional qualification of residence.
Aquino then filed a Petition of Certiorari assailing the May 15 and June 2 orders.

1. Whether “residency” in the certificate of candidacy actually connotes “domicile” to warrant the disqualification of Aquino from the position in the electoral district.
2. WON it is proven that Aquino has established domicile of choice and not just residence (not in the sense of the COC)in the district he was running in.

1. Yes, The term “residence” has always been understood as synonymous with “domicile” not only under the previous constitutions but also under the 1987 Constitution. The Court cited the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission wherein this principle was applied.
Mr. Nolledo:
I remember that in the 1971 Constitutional Convention, there was an attempt to require residence in the place not less than one year immediately preceding the day of elections.

What is the Committee’s concept of residence for the legislature? Is it actual residence or is it the concept of domicile or constructive residence?
Mr. Davide:
This is in the district, for a period of not less than one year preceding the day of election. This was in effect lifted from the 1973 constituition, the interpretation given to it was domicile.
Mrs. Braid:
On section 7, page2, Noledo has raised the same point that resident has been interpreted at times as a matter of intention rather than actual residence.

Mr. De los Reyes
So we have to stick to the original concept that it should be by domicile and not physical and actual residence.
Therefore, the framers intended the word “residence” to have the same meaning of domicile.
The place “where a party actually or constructively has his permanent home,” where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return and remain, i.e., his domicile, is that to which the Constitution refers when it speaks of residence for the purposes of election law.
The purpose is to exclude strangers or newcomers unfamiliar with the conditions and needs of the community from taking advantage of favorable circumstances existing in that community for electoral gain.
While there is nothing wrong with the purpose of establishing residence in a given area for meeting election law requirements, this defeats the essence of representation, which is to place through assent of voters those most cognizant and sensitive to the needs of a particular district, if a candidate falls short of the period of residency mandated by law for him to qualify.
Which brings us to the second issue.

2. No, Aquino has not established domicile of choice in the district he was running in.
The SC agreed with the Comelec’s contention that Aquino should prove that he established a domicile of choice and not just residence.
The Constitution requires a person running for a post in the HR one year of residency prior to the elections in the district in which he seeks election to .
Aquino’s certificate of candidacy in a previous (May 11, 1992) election indicates that he was a resident and a registered voter of San Jose, Concepcion, Tarlac for more than 52 years prior to that election. His birth certificate indicated that Conception as his birthplace and his COC also showed him to be a registered voter of the same district. Thus his domicile of origin (obviously, choice as well) up to the filing of his COC was in Conception, Tarlac.
Aquino’s connection to the new Second District of Makati City is an alleged lease agreement of a condominium unit in the area. The intention not to establish a permanent home in Makati City is evident in his leasing a condominium unit instead of buying one. The short length of time he claims to be a resident of Makati (and the fact of his stated domicile in Tarlac and his claims of other residences in Metro Manila) indicate that his sole purpose in transferring his physical residence is not to acquire a new, residence or domicile but only to qualify as a candidate for Representative of the Second District of Makati City.
Aquino’s assertion that he has transferred his domicile from Tarlac to Makati is a bare assertion which is hardly supported by the facts in the case at bench. To successfully effect a change of domicile, petitioner must prove an actual removal or an actual change of domicile, a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one and definite acts which correspond with the purpose.
Aquino was thus rightfully disqualified by the Commission on Elections due to his lack of one year residence in the district.
Instant petition dismissed. Order restraining respondent Comelec from proclaiming the candidate garnering the next highest number of votes in the congressional elections of Second district of Makati City made permanent.
I. Aquino’s petition of certiorari contents were:
A. The Comelec’s lack of jurisdiction to determine the disqualification issue involving congressional candidates after the May 8, 1995 elections, such determination reserved with the house of representatives electional tribunal
B. Even if the Comelec has jurisdiction, the jurisdiction ceased in the instant case after the elections and the remedy to the adverse parties lies in another forum which is the HR Electoral Tribunal consistent with Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.
C. The COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion when it proceeded to promulagate its questioned decision despite its own recognition that a threshold issue of jurisdiction has to be judiciously reviewed again, assuming arguendo that the Comelec has jurisdiction
D. The Comelec’s finding of non-compliance with the residency requirement of one year against the petitioner is contrary to evidence and to applicable laws and jurisprudence.
E. The Comelec erred in failing to appreciate the legal impossibility of enforcing the one year residency requirement of Congressional candidates in newly created political districts which were only existing for less than a year at the time of the election and barely four months in the case of petitioner’s district in Makati.
F. The Comelec committed serious error amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it ordered the board of canvassers to determine and proclaim the winner out of the remaining qualified candidates after the erroneous disqualification of the petitioner in disregard of the doctrine that a second place candidate or a person who was repudiated by the electorate is a loser and cannot be proclaimed as substitute winner.
II. Modern day carpetbaggers can’t be allowed to take advantage of the creation of new political districts by suddenly transplanting themselves in such new districts, prejudicing their genuine residents in the process of taking advantage of existing conditions in these areas.
III. according to COMELEC: The lease agreement was executed mainly to support the one year residence requirement as a qualification for a candidate of the HR, by establishing a commencement date of his residence. If a oerfectly valid lease agreement cannot, by itself establish a domicile of choice, this particular lease agreement cannot be better.

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