Juliano’s case was among those that ex-elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano was caught discussing with provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol in the controversial “Hello, Garci” tapes. The recorded conversations indicate that Juliano, a candidate of the opposition Koalisyong Nagkakaisang Pilipino, was not notified of the June 1, 2004 canvassing of the votes in Manila, which resulted in Sema’s proclamation.
In a unanimous en banc decision last April 12, the high court said the Comelec acted with “grave abuse of discretion” when it failed to order a rehearing even when the poll body, sitting en banc on Feb. 10, 2005, was equally divided on Juliano’s Oct. 23, 2004 motion for reconsideration of an earlier decision handed down by the Comelec’s second division.
The second division, composed of Mehol Sadain, Florentino Tuason Jr. and Manuel Barcelona, stood pat on its decision dismissing Juliano’s suit against Sema. But two of the three-member first division — Resurreccion Borra and Rufino Javier — ruled otherwise, along with Chairman Benjamin Abalos.
The deadlock could not be broken because Garcillano, the third member of the first division, decided against taking part in the proceedings. He gave no reason. Because of the tie, the Comelec en banc ended up affirming the second division’s resolution.
Garcillano, Sadain, Barcelona and Javier are no longer with the Comelec.
The Supreme Court pointed out that Section 6, Rule 18 of the Comelec Rules of Procedure specifically states that if the opinion of the Comelec en banc is equally divided, the case ought to be reheard.
“A rehearing clearly presupposes the participation of the opposing parties for the purpose of presenting additional evidence, if any, and further clarifying and amplifying their arguments,” the court said.
In seeking to nullify Sema’s proclamation, Juliano, the widow of Sen. Mamintal Tamano and the daughter of Teodoro V. Juliano, the first Christian ever elected as mayor of Cotabato and who held office for 20 years until his death in 1984, raised the following issues:
- She was never notified of the June 1, 2004 canvassing, originally scheduled on June 2.
- There were 108 contested election returns which she alleged to be spurious and manufactured and which, she said, would affect the result of the election.
- There were 54 election returns included by the Board of Canvassers in the canvassing which she said were not part of the inventory previously conducted.
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