SC voids Romeo Jalosjos’ proclamation as Zamboanga del Norte congressman
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) invalidated the proclamation of Romeo Jalosjos Jr. as representative of Zamboanga del Norte’s 1st District in Congress.
In a decision penned by Justice Mario Lopez and made public Wednesday, the SC directed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to proclaim Roberto “Pinpin” Uy Jr. as Zamboanga del Norte’s 1st District congressman instead.
It also ruled that the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has no jurisdiction over this case.
The SC’s public information office said in a statement that the high court set aside Comelec’s en banc order in May 2022 and resolution in June 2022 for being issued with “grave abuse of discretion.”
The SC decision stemmed from the 2022 national and local elections results when Uy ran against Romeo Jalosjos, Frederico Jalosjos, and Richard Amazon.
Uy initially won with 69,591 votes, followed by Romeo Jaloslos with 69,109. Frederico Jalosjos and Amazon, on the other hand, garnered only 5,424 and 288 votes, respectively.
But on April 19, 2022, Comelec declared Frederico Jalosjos a nuisance candidate following a petition filed by Romeo Jalosjos.
Romeo Jalosjos subsequently filed a motion to suspend the proclamation of Uy, asserting that the votes garnered by the nuisance candidate (Frederico Jalosjos) must be credited to him.
The Comelec en banc granted that motion and directed the addition of Frederico Jalosjos’ votes to Romeo Jalosjos. This resulted in the Provincial Board of Canvassers’ (PBOC) proclamation of Romeo Jalosjos as Zamboanga del Norte’s 1st District representative on June 23, 2022.
Uy, however, filed a petition and argued before the SC that the PBOC has the ministerial duty to proclaim the candidate with the highest vote, while Frederico Jalosjos also filed a separate petition before the SC after his motion for reconsideration was denied by the Comelec due to technicality.
In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld that “public policy dictates that candidates receiving the highest votes should be proclaimed without unnecessary delay.”
It further pointed out that PBOC is a ministerial body with power generally limited to the mechanical function of computing or compiling the votes cast for each candidate, adding that the suspension of the proclamation of a winning candidate is not a matter on which the Comelec can dispose of motu proprio.
“The Court further ruled that the Comelec’s power to suspend the proclamation of a winning candidate is not available in proceedings to declare one a nuisance candidate,” the SC ruling reads.
“Thus, the Comelec gravely abused its discretion when it suspended Uy’s proclamation in SPA No. 21-224 (DC), a proceeding where Uy is not a party, and was thus denied the opportunity to be heard,” it also states.
The SC likewise noted that the suspension of Uy’s proclamation was based only on Romeo Jalosjos’ bare allegations – without even submitting any document or certification from the PBOC to support his prayer to suspend the proclamation.
“The Court also found irregular that the Comelec Chairperson intervened in the proclamation by calling directly the PBOC Chairperson to confirm the authenticity of the suspension order,” the SC decision states.
In the case of Frederico Jalosjos, who was declared a nuisance candidate by the poll body, the SC said the Comelec en banc should not have denied his motion for reconsideration for being filed an hour and a half past the 5:00 p.m. deadline.