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Soller vs COMELEC
G.R. NO. 139853
Petitioner and private respondent (Saulong) were both candidates for mayor of the municipality of Bansud, Oriental Mindoro in the May 11, 1998 elections. The petitioner was proclaimed as mayor by the municipal board of canvassers. Private respondent filed a petition with the COMELEC to annul the proclamation. Later, private respondent filed an election protest against petitioner with the RTC. The COMELEC dismissed the pre-proclamation case filed by private respondent, while the RTC denied petitioner’s motion to dismiss. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but said motion was denied.
Petitioner then filed with the COMELEC a petition for certiorari contending that respondent RTC acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in not dismissing private respondent’s election protest. The COMELEC en banc dismissed petitioner’s suit. Petitioner now questions this decision of the COMELEC en banc.
Whether or not the COMELEC has the authority to decide on the case.
The SC has ruled in previous cases that the COMELEC, sitting en banc, does not have the requisite authority to hear and decide election cases including pre-proclamation controversies in the first instance. This power pertains to the divisions of the Commission. Any decision by the Commission en banc as regards election cases decided by it in the first instance is null and void. In the SC’s view, the authority to resolve petition for certiorari involving incidental issues of election protest, like the questioned order of the trial court, falls within the division of the COMELEC and not on the COMELEC en banc.