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Digest: Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections (257 SCRA 727, 1996)

Time of Possession of Qualifications
Digest: Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections (257 SCRA 727, 1996)
G.R. No. 120295 June 28, 1996

Facts: On March 20, 1995, private respondent Juan G. Frivaldo filed his Certificate of Candidacy for the office of Governor of Sorsogon in the May 8, 1995 elections.

COMELEC 1st Division. On March 23, 1995, petitioner Raul R. Lee, another candidate, filed a petition with the Comelec docketed as SPA No. 95­028 praying that Frivaldo be disqualified from seeking or holding any public office or position by reason of not yet being a citizen of the Philippines, and that his Certificate of Candidacy be cancelled.

The COMELEC 2nd Division promulgated a Resolution granting the petition. MR of Frivaldo unacted upon.

The Motion for Reconsideration filed by Frivaldo remained unacted upon until after the May 8, 1995 elections. So, his candidacy continued, and he was voted for during the elections held on said date. Frivaldo got the highest number of votes.

(1) Antonio H. Escudero, Jr. 51,060
(b) Juan G. Frivaldo 73,440
(c) Raul R. Lee 53,304
(d) Isagani P. Ocampo 1,925

COMELEC en banc. On May 11, 1995, the COMELEC en banc denied the MR of Frivaldo and affirmed the 2nd Division’s decision to cancel Frivaldo’s COC.

On June 9, 1995, Lee filed in said SPA No. 95­028, a (supplemental) petition praying for his proclamation as the duly- elected Governor of Sorsogon.

In an order dated June 21, 1995, but promulgated according to the petition only on June 29, 1995, the Comelec en banc directed the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Sorsogon to reconvene for the purpose of proclaiming candidate Raul Lee as the winning gubernatorial candidate in the province of Sorsogon on June 29, 1995.

Accordingly, at 8:30 in the evening of June 30, 1995, Lee was proclaimed governor of Sorsogon.

COMELEC 1st Division. On July 6, 1995, Frivaldo filed with the Comelec a new petition, docketed as SPC No. 95­317, praying for the annulment of the June 30, 1995 proclamation of Lee and for his own proclamation.

He alleged that on June 30, 1995, at 2:00 in the afternoon, he took his oath of allegiance as a citizen of the Philippines after his petition for repatriation under P.D. 725 which he filed with the Special Committee on Naturalization in September 1994 had been granted.

As such, when the said order dated June 21, 1995 was released and received by Frivaldo on June 30, 1995 at 5:30 o’clock in the evening, there was no more legal impediment to the proclamation of Frivaldo as governor.

In the alternative, he averred that pursuant to the two cases of Labo vs. Comelec, the Vice Governor—not Lee—should occupy said position of governor.

On December 19, 1995, the Comelec First Division promulgated the herein assailed Resolution holding that Lee, not having garnered the highest number of votes, was not legally entitled to be proclaimed as duly elected governor; and that Frivaldo, having garnered the highest number of votes, and having reacquired his Filipino citizenship by repatriation on June 30, 1995 under the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 725 is qualified to hold the office of governor of Sorsogon

COMELEC en banc. On December 26, 1995, Lee filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the Comelec en banc.

Supreme Court. Both Frivaldo (in SPC 95-028) and Lee (in SPC 95-217) appealed to the SC. Their two petitions were consolidated.

Issue: Whether or not Frivaldo is qualified to hold the office.

Ruling: Yes. The law does not specify any particular date or time when the candidate must possess citizenship unlike that for residence and age. Section 39 of the Local Government Code speaks of Qualifications of Elective Officials not of candidates.’

The SC ruled that citizenship is required only during the time when an official begins to govern or to discharge his functions. Thus it starts upon his proclamation and on the day the law mandates his term of office to begin. Since Frivaldo re­assumed his citizenship on June 30, 1995—the very day the term of office of governor (and other elective officials) began—he was therefore already qualified to be proclaimed, to hold such office and to discharge the functions and responsibilities thereof as of said date.



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