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Philippine Guardians Brotherhood, Inc. (PGBI) v. Commission on Elections [G.R. No. 190529. April 29, 2010]

03 Oct

PHILIPPINE GUARDIANS BROTHERHOOD, INC. (PGBI) represented by its Secretary General George “FGBF George” Duldulaopetitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

[G.R. No. 190529. April 29, 2010]

FACTS:

Respondent delisted petitioner, a party list organization, from the roster of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions under the party-list system through its resolution, denying also the latter’s motion for reconsideration, in accordance with Section 6(8) of Republic Act No. 7941 (RA 7941), otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, which provides:

Section 6. Removal and/or Cancellation of Registration. – The COMELEC may motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, remove or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on any of the following grounds:

x  x  x  x

(8) It fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered.[Emphasis supplied.]

Petitioner was delisted because it failed to get 2% of the votes cast in 2004 and it did not participate in the 2007 elections.  Petitioner filed its opposition to the resolution citing among others the misapplication in the ruling of MINERO v. COMELEC, but was denied for lack of merit. Petitioner elevated the matter to SC showing the excerpts from the records of Senate Bill No. 1913 before it became the law in question.

ISSUES:

Political Law

(1)  Whether or not there is legal basis in the delisting of PGBI.

(2)  Whether or not PGBI’s right to due process was violated.

Civil Law (Statutory Construction)

(1)  Whether or not the doctrine of judicial precedent applies in this case.

RULINGS:

Political Law

(1)  No. The MINERO ruling is an erroneous application of Section 6(8) of RA 7941; hence, it cannot sustain PGBI’s delisting from the roster of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions under the party-list system. First, the law is in the plain, clear and unmistakable language of the law which provides for two (2) separate reasons for delisting. SecondMINERO is diametrically opposed to the legislative intent of Section 6(8) of RA 7941, as PGBI’s cited congressional deliberations clearly show. MINERO therefore simply cannot stand.

(2)  No. On the due process issue, petitioner’s right to due process was not violated for [it] was given an opportunity to seek, as it did seek, a reconsideration of [COMELEC resolution].  The essence of due process, consistently held, is simply the opportunity to be heard; as applied to administrative proceedings, due process is the opportunity to explain one’s side or the opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.  A formal or trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential.  The requirement is satisfied where the parties are afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand. What is frowned upon is absolute lack of notice and hearing x  x  x. [It is] obvious [that] under the attendant circumstances that PGBI was not denied due process.

Civil Law (Statutory Construction)

(1)  No. This case is an exception to the application of the principle of stare decisis. The doctrine of stare decisis et non quieta movere (to adhere to precedents and not to unsettle things which are established) is embodied in Article 8 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which provides, thus:

ART. 8. Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines.

The doctrine enjoins adherence to judicial precedents.  It requires courts in a country to follow the rule established in a decision of its Supreme Court.  That decision becomes a judicial precedent to be followed in subsequent cases by all courts in the land.  The doctrine of stare decisis is based on the principle that once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument.

The doctrine though is not cast in stone for upon a showing that circumstances attendant in a particular case override the great benefits derived by [SC’s] judicial system from the doctrine of stare decisis, the Court is justified in setting it aside. MINERO did unnecessary violence to the language of the law, the intent of the legislature, and to the rule of law in general.  Clearly, [SC] cannot allow PGBI to be prejudiced by the continuing validity of an erroneous ruling.  Thus, [SC] now abandons MINERO and strike it out from [the] ruling case law.

 

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