Political Law

Ramon Labo, Jr. vs Commission on Elections and Roberto Ortega

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G.R. No. 105111 – G.R. No. 105384 – 257 Phil. 1 – 211 SCRA 297 – Political Law – Law on Public Officers – Election Laws – Labo Doctrine; Second Placer Does Not Win the Election in the Event the First Placer is Disqualified 

After being disqualified in the previous mayoralty election of Baguio City, Ramon Labo again ran for mayor in 1992. Labo was previously disqualified because he was found to be an Australian citizen.

His rival for the 1992 elections, Roberto Ortega, filed a disqualification case against Labo. Ortega submitted as evidence a copy of the decision in G.R. No. 86564 which ruled that Labo is not a Filipino citizen.

The COMELEC ruled in favor of Ortega but since the COMELEC resolution will only attain finality after the day of the elections, the COMELEC allowed the public to vote for Labo.

After the elections, Labo obtained the highest number of votes while Ortega obtained the second highest number of votes.

ISSUE: Whether or not Ortega won the election.

HELD: No. The fact that a candidate who obtained the highest number of votes is later declared to be disqualified or not eligible for the office to which he was elected does not necessarily entitle the candidate who obtained the second highest number of votes to be declared the winner of the elective office. It would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally guaranteed right to suffrage if a candidate who has not acquired the majority or plurality of votes is proclaimed a winner and imposed as the representative of a constituency, the majority of which have positively declared through their ballots that they did not choose him.

It is incorrect to argue that since a candidate has been disqualified, the votes intended for the disqualified candidate should, in effect, be considered void. This would amount to disenfranchising the electorate in whom sovereignty resides. The people of Baguio City opted to elect Labo bona fide, without any intention to misapply their franchise, and in the honest belief that Labo was then qualified to be the person to whom they would entrust the exercise of the powers of the government. Unfortunately, Labo turned out to be disqualified and cannot assume the office.

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