ISSUE: WON the HRET gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it failed to disqualify Pichay for his conviction for libel, a crime involving moral turpitude
FACTS: Philip Arreza Pichay was convicted by final judgment for four counts of libel. On 9 October 2012, Pichay filed his certificate of candidacy for the position of Member of the House of Representatives for the First Legislative District of Surigao del Sur. Petitioner filed a petition for disqualification under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code against Pichay before the Commission on Elections on the ground that Pichay was convicted of libel, a crime involving moral turpitude. She argued that when Pichay paid the fine on 17 February 2011, the five-year period barring him to be a candidate had yet to lapse. HRET held that Pichay did not participated the writing of the libelous articles but his conviction was in line with his duty as the president of the publishing company. Based on the circumstances, the HRET concluded that Pichay’s conviction for libel did not involve moral turpitude.
RATIO DECIDENDI: In the present case, Pichay admits his conviction for four counts of libel. the HRET committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction when it failed to disqualify Pichay for his conviction for libel, a crime involving moral turpitude. Since Pichay’s ineligibility existed on the day he filed his certificate of candidacy and he was never a valid candidate for the position of Member of the House of Representatives, the votes cast for him were considered stray votes.