Ponente: QUIASON, J.
On March 22, 1992, petitioner Juanito C. Pilar filed his certificate of candidacy for the position of member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Isabela. On March 25, 1992, petitioner withdrew his certificate of candidacy. In M.R. Nos. 93-2654 and 94-0065 dated November 3, 1993 and February 13, 1994 respectively, the COMELEC imposed upon petitioner the fine of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) for failure to file his statement of contributions and expenditures. In M.R. No. 94-0594 dated February 24, 1994, the COMELEC denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner and deemed final M.R. Nos. 93-2654 and 94-0065. Petitioner went to the COMELEC En Banc (UND No. 94-040), which denied the petition in a Resolution dated April 28, 1994. Petition for certiorari was subsequently filed to the Supreme Court.
Petitioner argues that he cannot be held liable for failure to file a statement of contributions and expenditures because he was a “non-candidate,” having withdrawn his certificates of candidacy three days after its filing. Petitioner posits that “it is . . . clear from the law that candidate must have entered the political contest, and should have either won or lost” under Section 14 of R.A. 7166 entitled “An Act Providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections and for Electoral Reforms, Authorizing Appropriations Therefor, and for Other Purposes”.
Whether or not Section 14 of R.A. No. 7166 excludes candidates who already withdrew their candidacy for election.
NO. Petition was dismissed for lack of merit.
Well-recognized is the rule that where the law does not distinguish, courts should not distinguish, ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemus.
In the case at bench, as the law makes no distinction or qualification as to whether the candidate pursued his candidacy or withdrew the same, the term “every candidate” must be deemed to refer not only to a candidate who pursued his campaign, but also to one who withdrew his candidacy. Also, under the fourth paragraph of Section 73 of the B.P. Blg. 881 or the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, it is provided that “[t]he filing or withdrawal of certificate of candidacy shall not affect whatever civil, criminal or administrative liabilities which a candidate may have incurred.” Petitioner’s withdrawal of his candidacy did not extinguish his liability for the administrative fine.