SC rules Subic SK federation prexy stays

October 18, 2012 10:07 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 18 — The Supreme Court has ruled that the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president of Subic, Zambales keeps his post.

This was after the SC's Second Division upheld the Court of Appeals decision setting aside that of the SK Board of Election Supervisors (BES) of Subic, Zambales and the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) which had nullified the proclamation of Ray Mark Rigonan as SK Federation president of Subic.

In a nine-page extended resolution, the SC denied the petition assailing the CA ruling of the SK BES of Subic and Maureen Sawey, who garnered the second highest number of votes next to Rigonan.

The CA found that the SK BES committed grave abuse of discretion in ruling that Rigonan's answer in the election protest against him was filed late, noting that Rigonan's answer was filed on the next working day after the due date on Dec. 5, 2010, a Sunday, in accordance with Rule 22, Section 1 of the Rules of Court.

Upon petition for certiorari by Rigonan before the RTC, the RTC granted the motion to dismiss the motion of both the Subic SK BES and Sawey.

The SC said that it was clear in its assailed order that the RTC has already made a final determination of the case before it not only on the ground of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies but also on the very ground that Rigonan's allegation of deprivation of due process did not constitute grave abuse of discretion.

"Simply put…the Regional Trial Court had already ruled that the act of nullifying the proclamation of Rigonan as SK Federation president without taking into consideration the answer he filed did not amount to grave abuse of discretion. The Court of Appeals was, therefore, correct in reviewing the merits of the case and in so nullifying the assailed board resolution without remanding the case to the Regional Trial Court for further trial," the SC ruled.

It also noted that the case does not involve an elective official under Chapter I, Title II of the Local Government Code of 1991 nor an officer of the Pederasyon ng mga Sangguniang Kabataan covered by Section 252 of the Omnibus Election Code so resort to judicial review is an option from the BES ruling particularly since Rigonan's petition for certiorari to the RTC raises pure questions of law and jurisdiction and also alleges deprivation of due process.

Fourteen of the 16 SK chairpersons in Subic, Zambales filed a protest before the BES, which in turn ruled against Rigonan for allegedly violating Section 8, Article II of the Memorandum Circular No. 2002-123 on the Implementing Rules and Guidelines for the Conduct of the SK Federation Elections.

The BES also endorsed enforcement of its ruling nullifying Rigonan's proclamation and declaring vacant his position to the Provincial Office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Rigonan filed a petition for certiorari with prayer for a preliminary injunction against the BES and Sawey before the Olongapo City RTC.

The BES and Sawey thereafter filed a motion to dismiss which the RTC granted.

When the RTC also denied Rigonan's subsequent motion for reconsideration (MR), the latter appealed to CA, which in turn ruled in his favor.

In its Feb. 20, 2011 ruling, the CA reasoned that the rule that an MR is a condition sine qua non for the filing of a petition for certiorari admits of certain exceptions and that the relaxation of procedural rules is proper if only to promote the interest of justice.

It also agreed with Rigonan that he had no other remedy but to file the certiorari before the RTC considering that the decision of BES is final and executory.

The CA denied the respective MRs of the BES and Sawey on June 8, 2012. (PNA)

SCS/PTR

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