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MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has ruled that Romeo M. Jalosjos Jr. will stay as the duly elected representative of the Second District of Zamboanga Sibugay in the May 10, 2010 elections.
Voting unanimously, the SC en banc reiterated the demarcation line between the jurisdiction of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) as it granted the petition of Jalosjos to reverse and set aside the Comelec en banc's June 3, 2010 order that granted the motion for reconsideration of his rival, Dan Erasmo Sr., and declared Jalosjos ineligible to seek election in his current post for failing to satisfy the residency requirement.
In a nine-page ruling written by Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad, the SC also reinstated the Comelec Second Division's resolution dated Feb. 23, 2010 dismissing Erasmo's petition to cancel Jalosjos' certificate of candidacy (COC) for insufficiency in form and substance.
It also dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the petitions concerning the Comelec's failure to annul Jalosjos' proclamation and his exclusion from the voters' list, respectively.
"The Court has already settled the question of when the jurisdiction of the Comelec ends and when that of the HRET begins. The proclamation of a congressional candidate following the election divests Comelec of jurisdiction over disputes relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the proclaimed representative in favor of the HRET," the SC ruled.
The SC said that when the Comelec en banc issued its order dated June 3, 2010, Jalosjos had already been proclaimed on May 13, 2010 as winner in the election.
Thus, the Comelec acted without jurisdiction when it still passed upon the issue of his qualification and declared him ineligible for the Office of Representative of the 2nd District of Zamboanga Sibugay.
The SC further said that the last standing official action in his case before the election day was the ruling of the Comelec's Second Division that allowed his name to stay on the voters' registration list.
"With the fact of [Jalosjos'] proclamation and assumption of office, any issue regarding his qualification for the same, like his alleged lack of the required residence, was solely for the HRET to consider and decide," the SC ruled.
The SC said that the Comelec en banc exceeded its jurisdiction in declaring Jalosjos ineligible for the position of representative for the said post, which he had won in the elections, since it had ceased to have jurisdiction over his case.
It also dismissed Erasmo's petition questioning the validity of the registration of Jalosjos as a voter and the Comelec's failure to annul his proclamation, ruling that "the Court cannot usurp the power vested by the Constitution solely on the HRET."