Political Law

Jose Mari Eulalio Lozada vs Commission on Elections

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G.R. No. L-59068 – 120 SCRA 337 – Political Law – Basic Principles; Three Branches of Government – Separation of Powers – Power of Appropriation – The Supreme Court May Not Compel Congress to Exercise its Power of Appropriation

Jose Mari Eulalio Lozada together with Romeo Igot filed a petition for mandamus compelling the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to hold an election to fill the vacancies in the Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP). They anchor their contention on Section 5 (2), Art. VIII of the 1973 Constitution which provides:

In case a vacancy arises in the Batasang Pambansa eighteen months or more before a regular election, the Commission on Election shall call a special election to be held within sixty (60) days after the vacancy occurs to elect the Member to serve the unexpired term.

COMELEC opposed the petition alleging that 1) petitioners lack standing to file the instant petition for they are not the proper parties to institute the action; 2) the Supreme Court (SC) has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition; and 3) Section 5(2), Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution does not apply to the Interim Batasan Pambansa.

ISSUE: Whether or not the SC can compel COMELEC to hold a special election to fill vacancies in the legislature.

HELD: No.┬áThe SC’s jurisdiction over the COMELEC is only to review by certiorari the latter’s decision, orders or rulings. This is as clearly provided in Article XII-C, Section 11 of the New Constitution which reads:

Any decision, order, or ruling of the Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from his receipt of a copy thereof.

There is in this case no decision, order or ruling of the COMELEC which is sought to be reviewed by this Court under its certiorari jurisdiction as provided for in the aforequoted provision, which is the only known provision conferring jurisdiction or authority on the Supreme Court over the COMELEC.

It is obvious that the holding of special elections in several regional districts where vacancies exist, would entail huge expenditure of money. Only the Batasang Pambansa (BP) can make the necessary appropriation for the purpose, and this power of the BP may neither be subject to mandamus by the courts much less may COMELEC compel the BP to exercise its power of appropriation. From the role BP has to play in the holding of special elections, which is to appropriate the funds for the expenses thereof, it would seem that the initiative on the matter must come from the BP, not the COMELEC, even when the vacancies would occur in the regular not Interim BP. The power to appropriate is the sole and exclusive prerogative of the legislative body, the exercise of which may not be compelled through a petition for mandamus. What is more, the provision of Section 5(2), Article VIII of the Constitution was intended to apply to vacancies in the regular National Assembly, now BP, not to the IBP.

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