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Digest: Luna v. Commission on Elections (522 SCRA 107, 2007)

Digest: Luna v. Commission on Elections (522 SCRA 107, 2007)

Facts:  On 15 January 2004, Luna filed her certificate of candidacy for the position of vice-mayor of Lagayan, Abra as a substitute for Hans Roger, who withdrew his certificate of candidacy on the same date. Ruperto Blanco, Election Officer of Lagayan, Abra removed the name of Hans Roger from the list of candidates and placed the name of Luna.

On 20 April 2004, private respondents Tomas Layao, Solomon Lalugan III, Nelia Lazaga, Anthony Layao, Cipriano Lapez, Jr., Victoria Layao, Moderno Lapez, Rodrigo PariƱas, and Eugenio Caber Donato (private respondents) filed a petition for the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy or disqualification of Luna. Private respondents alleged that Luna made a false material representation in her certificate of candidacy because Luna is not a registered voter of Lagayan, Abra but a registered voter of Bangued, Abra. Private respondents also claimed that Luna’s certificate of candidacy was not validly filed because the substitution by Luna for Hans Roger was invalid. Private respondents alleged that Hans Roger was only 20 years old on election day and, therefore, he was disqualified to run for vice-mayor and cannot be substituted by Luna

Issue: Whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion when it ruled that there was no valid substitution by Luna for Hans Roger

Ruling: Where a candidate withdrew his/her certificate of candidacy and COMELEC found that the substitute complied with all the procedural requirements for valid substitution, the latter can validly substitute for the former. COMELEC may not, by itself, without the proper proceedings, deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy filed in due form. The question of eligibility or ineligibility of a candidate for non-age is beyond the usual and proper cognizance of the COMELEC. If the candidate made a material misrepresentation as to his/her date of birth or age in his/her certificate of candidacy, his/her eligibility may only be impugned through a verified petition to deny due course to or cancel such certificate of candidacy under Section 78 of the Election Code. There can be no substitution of a person whose certificate of candidacy has been cancelled and denied due course. The certificate of candidacy was withdrawn before the COMELEC could declare that the candidate was not a valid for the said position. For if he was declared as such, substitution will be invalid

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