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Digest:Rulloda v. Commission on Elections (385 SCRA 535, 2003)

Digest:Rulloda v. Commission on Elections (385 SCRA 535, 2003)

Facts: Comelec denied petitioner’s request to substitute her deceased husband in the Barangay Chairman Candidacy despite the fact that petitioner apparently garnered the highest votes when constituents wrote her name in the ballots. Respondents cited resolution 4801 and Section 7 of the Omnibus Election Code which prohibits substitution of candidates. Private respondent Placido contended that it was only right that he be proclaimed winner since he was the only one who filed a certificate of candidacy and, hence, the only candidate running.

Issue: Whether or not there was grave abuse of discretion when Comelec denied petitioner’s request that she be allowed to run for elections.

Ruling: We find merit in the petition.

At the outset, there is no dispute that petitioner garnered 516 votes while respondent got only 290 votes. Respondents did not deny this in their respective Comments.

In our jurisdiction, an election means the choice or selection of candidates to public office by popular vote through the use of the ballot, and the elected officials which are determined through the will of the electorate. An election is the embodiment of the popular will, the expression of the sovereign power of the people. The winner is the candidate who has obtained a majority or plurality of valid votes cast in the election. Sound policy dictates that public elective offices are filled by those who receive the highest number of votes cast in the election for that office. For, in all republican forms of government the basic idea is that no one can be declared elected and no measure can be declared carried unless he or it receives a majority or plurality of the legal votes cast in the election


It is a solemn duty to uphold the clear and unmistakable mandate of the people. It is well-settled that in case of doubt, political laws must be so construed as to give life and spirit to the popular mandate freely expressed through the ballot.


Contrary to respondent’s claim, the absence of a specific provision governing substitution of candidates in barangay elections can not be inferred as a prohibition against said substitution. Such a restrictive construction cannot be read into the law where the same is not written. Indeed, there is more reason to allow the substitution of candidates where no political parties are involved than when political considerations or party affiliations reign, a fact that must have been subsumed by law.


To reiterate, it was petitioner who obtained the plurality of votes in the contested election. Technicalities and procedural niceties in election cases should not be made to stand in the way of the true will of the electorate. Laws governing election contests must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officials may not be defeated by mere technical objections.

Election contests involve public interest, and technicalities and procedural barriers must yield if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate in the choice of their elective officials. The Court frowns upon any interpretation of the law that would hinder in any way not only the free and intelligent casting of the votes in an election but also the correct ascertainment of the results.

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