Sambarani v. COMELEC
G.R. No. 160427; September 15, 2004
In the 15 July 2002 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, petitioners and Aliasgar Dayondong ran for re-election as punong barangay in their respective barangays. Due to a failure of elections in eleven barangays in Lanao del Sur, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 5479 setting special elections on 13 August 2002 in the affected barangays in Lanao del Sur. On 14 August 2002, Acting Election Officer Esmael Maulay (“EO Maulay”) issued a certification that there were no special elections held on 13 August 2002. Petitioners contend that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
1) Whether or not the COMELEC should call for another special election; and
2) Whether or not the DILG may Appoint the Barangay and SK Officials
The right of suffrage is enshrined in the Constitution because through suffrage the people exercise their sovereign authority to choose their representatives in the governance of the State. The fact that the elections involved in this case pertain to the lowest level of our political organization is not a justification to disenfranchise voters. The operational, logistical and financial problems which COMELEC claims it will encounter with the holding of a second special election can be solved with proper planning, coordination, and cooperation among its personnel and other deputized agencies of the government. COMELEC’s reasons for refusing to hold another special election are void.
COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in directing the DILG to proceed with the appointment of Barangay Captains and Barangay Kagawads as well as SK chairmen and SK Kagawads in the four barangays. Since there was a failure of elections, petitioners can legally remain in office as barangay chairmen of their respective barangays in a hold-over capacity. They shall continue to discharge their powers and duties as punong barangay and enjoy the rights and privileges pertaining to the office.