The Supreme Court has unanimously junked a petition seeking for the nullification of the “premature” proclamation of 12 winning senators, five of them incumbents, during the May 13, 2013 elections.
In a 20-page en banc decision, the SC through Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez ruled that it has no jurisdiction to decide on the petition filed by several losing senatorial candidates and on the petition-in-intervention filed by the officers of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.
The 15-member bench said the issues raised in the main petition and petition-in-intervention were matters that belong to the jurisdiction of the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
“The issues advanced therein are matters best addressed to the sound judgment and discretion of the SET, which has exclusive jurisdiction to act on it. At the risk of being repetitive, the power of the SET is full, clear and complete. It excludes the exercise of any authority on the part of this Court that would in any way restrict or curtail it or even affect the same,” the SC said. Rey E. Requejo
The petitions assailed Resolution No. 004-13 dated May 18, 2013 issued by the Commission on Elections-National Board of Canvassers (Comelec-NBOC) which initially proclaimed Juan Edgardo Angara, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Francis Joseph Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Regina Legarda, Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Aquilino Martin Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Cynthia Villar as winners.
The petitioners also assailed Comelec-NBOC Resolution No. 0010-13 issued on June 5, 2013, which officially declared the 12 candidates as winners and thus proclaimed them as duly elected senators of the country.
Out of the 12 senators, only five are still incumbents, namely Angara, Binay, Poe, Villar and Pimentel.
The petitioners argued that the COMELEC-NBOC committed grave abuse of discretion when it prematurely made a partial proclamation of the 12 senators despite the questionable accuracy of the election returns that were canvassed.
The allegation of questionable accuracy was rooted on the variance between the results of the random manual audit (RMA) and the manual count.
Petitioners claimed that out of the 234 sample precincts, only 212 RMA reports or only 90.6 percent were processed.
“It is the SET which has the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide all matters relating to the alleged irregularities in the canvassing of election returns and nullity of the proclamation of the 12 winning senatorial candidates,” the SC ruled.
“To delve on these matters would be to usurp on the clear, complete and categorical authority bestowed upon the SET as the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the Senate,” it added.