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RONALD ALLAN POE a.k.a. FERNANDO POE, JR. VS. GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO
In the 2004 election, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) was proclaimed the duly elected President of the Philippines. The second placer in the elections, Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ), filed an election protest before the Electoral Tribunal. When the FPJ died during his medical treatment, his widow, Susan Roces filed a motion to intervene as a substitute for deceased protestant FPJ. She claims that there is an urgent need for her to continue and substitute for her late husband to ascertain the true and genuine will of the electorate in the interest of the Filipino people. The Protestee, GMA asserts that the widow of a deceased candidate is not the proper party to replace the deceased protestant since a public office is personal and not a property that passes on to the heirs. Protestee also contends that under the Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, only the registered candidates who obtained the 2nd and 3rd highest votes for the presidency may contest the election of the president.
Whether or not may the widow substitute/intervene for the protestant who died during the pendency of the latter’s protest case.
No. Only the registered candidate for President or for Vice-President of the Philippines who received the second or third highest number of votes may contest the election of the President or the Vice-President, as the case may be, by filing a verified petition with the Clerk of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal within thirty (30) days after the proclamation of the winner.
An election protest is not purely personal and exclusive to the protestant or to the protestee, hence, substitution and intervention is allowed but only by a real party in interest. Note that Mrs. FPJ herself denies any claim to the office of President but rather stresses that it is with the “paramount public interest” in mind that she desires “to pursue the process” commenced by her late husband. However, nobility of intention is not the point of reference in determining whether a person may intervene in an election protest. In such intervention, the interest which allows a person to intervene in a suit must be in the matter of litigation and of such direct and immediate character that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the effect of the judgment. In this protest, Mrs. FPJ will not immediately and directly benefit from the outcome should it be determined that the declared president did not truly get the highest number of votes.