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Digest: Salih v. Commission on Elections (279 SCRA 19, 1997)

Digest: Salih v. Commission on Elections (279 SCRA 19, 1997)

Facts: Upon petition filed by the Nacionalista Party on November 16, 1965, which was opposed by Salih Ututalum, as duly registered candidate for Member of the House of Representatives for the lone congressional district for the Province of Sulu, in the national elections, the Commission on Elections a resolution ordering that elections shall be held for several precincts.

This is Ututalum’s alleged plurality over his closest opponent in said election, Indanan Anni, the official candidate of the Nacionalista Party, which instituted said proceedings in the Commission. Anni claims, however, that Ututalum’s plurality over him is 246 votes only.

Ututalum commenced the present action against the Commission and Indanan Anni, to annul the resolution. The resolution complained of is predicated upon the powers of the Commission under Section 2 of Article X of the Constitution, pursuant to which the Commission "shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections." Respondents particularly stress the penultimate sentence of said section, to the effect that "all law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government shall, when so required by the Commission, act as its deputies for the purpose of insuring free, orderly and honest elections." They maintain that this provision suffices to uphold the validity of the resolution in question.

Issue: Whether or not the Resolution is valid

Ruling: This pretense is untenable. The functions of the Commission under the Constitution are essentially executive ("enforcement") and administrative ("administration") in nature. Indeed, prior to the creation of the Commission, as a constitutional body, its functions were being discharged by the Executive Bureau, an office under the control of the then Department of the Interior, both of which had been created by statute, and were in turn under the control first of the Governor-General and later, under the Constitution, of the President of the Philippines. Our fundamental law has placed the agency charged with the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections beyond the control of the Executive and beyond the power of Congress to abolish it (the agency), in addition to adopting other measures tending to give thereto a reasonable degree of independence. This notwithstanding, the nature of its powers has remained essentially the same namely, executive in character.


In short, the authority to pass the resolution complained of cannot be implied from the statement in the Constitution to the effect that the Commission shall seek to insure the holding of "free, orderly and honest elections", for these objectives merely qualify the power of the Commission to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of elections. Said resolution cannot be valid, therefore, unless the Revised Election Code or some other act of Congress vests in the Commission the authority to order the holding of elections in the aforementioned precincts on December 7, 1965.


Indeed, under this section, the power to "postpone" an election is vested exclusively in the President, although "upon recommendation" of the Commission.


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