When a candidate receives the highest number of votes in an electoral exercise and he or she is proclaimed the winner, does a losing party or an aggrieved person left without any remedy at all under our laws? Of course, he or she still has remedies. One is, he or she could file an election protest. Election protests involving municipal and barangay officials must be filed with the courts while those involving regional, provincial, city and appeals from decisions of the courts involving barangay and municipal officials, must be filed with the Commission on Elections. Those involving members of the house of representatives and senators must be filed with their respective electoral tribunals established under the Constitution and finally, those protests involving the position of president and vice president of the Philippines must be filed with the Presidential electoral tribunal. All these actions must be filed within ten (10) days from the proclamation of the winning candidate.
Another action available to the complainant would be an action for Quo Warranto. This would refer to an action that questions the qualifications of an elected official on the ground of ineligibility or disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines (Section 3, (e), Rules of Procedure in Election Contests Before the Courts Involving Elective Municipal and Barangay Officials, A.M. 07-4-15-SC). An election protest includes a revision of the ballots to determine the actual votes received by the winning and losing candidate and this is allowed whether the elections is automated or not. In an action for quo warranto on the other hand, the issue is whether or not the respondent in said action is qualified to run for office.
Right after proclamation of the winning candidate, the complainant could opt to file an action for annulment of proclamation. This is usually filed in connection with a disqualification case or when the elections are allegedly marred with fraud, violence, terrorism, force majeure, loss or destruction of election records or paraphernalia and any other cause analogous to the foregoing or any other cause/s that would warrant, after proper finding, a failure of elections. A petition for recall could also be one of the remedies that a complainant has to oust an elected public official.
All of these remedies however, should be exercised at a proper time and it must be with caution because if the complainant is not careful, said opportunities could easily slip away from his or her hands.
Watch a full discussion about this topic on RNG Luzon’s Balitaktakan with Mr. Dhobie De Guzman and DJ Grasya Pantasya on May 7, 2021, Friday at 8:30am.
***All comments mentioned in this article are made in my personal capacity as a lawyer and
are not made as an employee of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).