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Case Digest: Al haj v Comelec
ISSUE: Whether or not the grounds assailed by the petitioners constitute grounds for declaration of failure of election.
FACTS: Petitioner assail the resolution of the Commission on elections en banc dismissing their petition to declare a failure of elections in the Municipality of Munai, Province of Lanao del Norte. In their petition, petitioners Tawantawan M. caruntongan and Nasser Manalao, candidates for Municipal Mayor and Vice Mayor, respectively, enumerated the following as grounds for declaration of failure of election: 1.Massive vote buying; 2.Illegal assignment of Rakim Paute as Election Officer of Munai; 3.Appointment of disqualified BEIs; 4.Shoot-out on the eve of the election between unidentified armed men and members of the Philippine Army escorting election forms and paraphernalia in barangay Cadulawan; 5.Transfer of polling places without notice; 6.Absence of voting booths in barangay Tambo and cadulawan; and 7.Non-signing of the Voter’s Registration Form. The COMELEC dismissed the petition because the grounds relied upon are not those which constitute grounds for declaration of failure of election.
RATIO DECIDENDI: Under Article 1, Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code explicitly states the only three instances wherein a failure of election may be validly declared are when: 1) the election in any polling places has not been held on the date fixed in account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes; 2) the election in any polling place had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes, or 3) after the voting and during the preparation and transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous cases. This enumeration is exclusive and restrictive. It limits the power of the Commission to annul the results of an election only to those instances where the election is not held, is suspended or results in a failure to elect. The latter phrase should be understood in its literal sense, which is, nobody was elected. Moreover, the irregularities pointed out by the petitioners such as vote-buying, fraud, and terrorism are grounds for an election contest and may not, as a rule, be invoked to declare a failure of election and to disenfranchise the greater number of electorate through the misdeeds, precisely, of only relative few.
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