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Digest: Patoray v. Commission on Elections (274 SCRA 470, 1997)

Digest: Patoray v. Commission on Elections (274 SCRA 470, 1997)

Facts: Petitioner and private respondent were among the candidates for mayor of Tamparan in the election of May 8, 1995. During the canvassing of votes by the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBC), private respondent objected to the inclusion of the election returns from Precinct Nos. 16, 17, 19 and 20-A on the grounds that the returns had been "prepared under duress, threats, coercion, and intimidation" and that they were "substituted, fraudulent and obviously manufactured returns.

MBC, after receiving the evidence of the parties, denied private respondent's objections and included the four (4) questioned election returns.

Issue: Whether COMELEC erred in ordering the exclusion of an election return.

Ruling: The COMELEC’s Second Division was correct in ordering the exclusion of an election return that contained a discrepancy between the taras and the written figures. According to Section 236 of the OEC, in cases of discrepancies in election returns, COMELEC, upon motion of the BOC or any candidate affected shall proceed summarily to determine whether the integrity of the ballot box had been preserved, and once satisfied thereof shall order the opening of the ballot box to recount the votes cast in the polling place to determine the true result of the count of votes of the candidate concerned. The COMELEC’S Second Division should have ordered a recount of the ballots and directed the proclamation of the winner accordingly instead of resorting to the Certificate of Votes. There was no showing of any discrepancy in the election return; rather, it is a case involving material defects. In excluding the election returns in question, the voters in such precinct will be disenfranchised. It is the BEI concerned that will effect the correction.

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