Political Law

Pedro Peralta et al vs Commission on Elections et al

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G.R. No. L-47771 – 82 SCRA 30 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Equal Protection – 1978 Election Code – Block Voting does not violate equal protection

Pedro Peralta was an independent candidate in the April 1978 Interim Batasang Pambansa Elections. He, along with others, assailed the constitutionality of PD 1269 or the 1978 Election Code. Sections 140 and 155, sub-paragraphs 26 to 28, of the 1978 Election Code, grants the voter the option to vote either for individual candidates by filling in the proper spaces in the ballot the names of candidates he desires to elect, or to vote for all the candidates of a political party, group or aggrupation by simply writing in the space provided for in the ballot the name of the political party, group or aggrupation (office-block ballot). Peralta was vehement in contending that the optional block voting scheme is violative of this provision of the Constitution: “Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.” He invoked the protection of independent candidates who, according to him, would be thus made to suffer if the assailed provision is not nullified. For Peralta, an independent candidate would be discriminated against because by merely writing on his ballot the name of a political party, a voter would have voted for all the candidates of that party, an advantage which the independent candidate does not enjoy; a candidate who is not a party-member is deprived of the equal protection of the laws, as provided in Sec 1 of Article IV, in relation to Sec 9 of Article XII, of the 1973 Constitution.

ISSUE: Whether or not the 1978 Election Code is violative of equal protection.

HELD: No. The SC ruled that the 1978 Election Code is valid. Before a voter prepares his ballot, the voter will be able to read all the names of the candidates. No candidate will receive more than one vote, whether he is voted individually or as a candidate of a party group or aggrupation. The voter is free to vote for the individual candidates or to vote by party, group or aggrupation. The choice is his. No one can compel him to do otherwise. In the case of candidates, the decision on whether to run as an independent candidate or to join a political party, group or aggrupation is left entirely to their discretion. Certainly, before filing his certificate of candidacy, a candidate is aware of the advantages under the law accruing to candidates of a political party or group. If he wishes to avail himself of such alleged advantages as an official candidate of a party, he is free to do so by joining a political party group or aggrupation. In making his decision, it must be assumed that the candidate had carefully weighed and considered the relative advantages and disadvantages of either alternative. So long as the application of the rule depends on his voluntary action or decision, he cannot, after exercising his discretion, claim that he was the victim of discrimination.

Note: Also consolidated in this case are G.R. No. L-47803, G.R. No. L-47816, G.R. No. L-47767, G.R. No. L-47791, and G.R. No. L-47827.

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