Political Law

GUNSI v. COMELEC and DATU ISRAEL SINSUAT G.R. No. 168792 February 23, 2009 R.A. 8189 Voter’s Registration Act, Moot and Academic Cases, Exceptions

FACTS:

Private respondent Datu Sinsuat filed a petition for the denial of due course to or cancellation of the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Gunsi for Mayor of South Upi, Maguindanao in in the May 10, 2004 Elections alleging that: (a) Gunsi was not a registered voter in the Municipality of South Upi, Maguindanao since he failed to sign his application for registration; (b) Gunsi’s name was inserted illegally in the List of Applicants and Voters; and (c) the unsigned application for registration has no legal effect.

The COMELEC issued a Resolution stating that the absence of [Gunsi’s] signature in his application for registration casts serious doubt in its preparation and execution, and renders the authenticity of the document questionable.  

Considering that Gunsi lost in the election, the petition was DISMISSED for being moot and academic.

The COMELEC ruled that Gunsi, Sr. is disqualified to run as Mayor for being a non-registered resident of the municipality of South Upi.

The subsequent MR filed  by Gunsi was denied.

Hence, this petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the COMELEC was correct in cancelling the COC of Gunsi.

RULING:

At the outset, we note that the term of office of Mayor of South Upi, Maguindanao, for which position Gunsi was disqualified by the COMELEC to run as a candidate had long expired on June 30, 2007 following the last elections held on May 14 of the same year. The expiration of term, therefore, is a supervening event which renders this case moot and academic.

A moot and academic case is one that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical value. As a rule, courts decline jurisdiction over such case, or dismiss it on ground of mootness.

The rule, however, admits of exceptions. Thus, courts may choose to decide cases otherwise moot and academic if: first, there is a grave violation of the Constitution; second, the exceptional character of the situation and the paramount public interest is involved; third, the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar and the public; or fourth, the case is capable of repetition yet evasive of review.

None of the foregoing exceptions calling for this Court to exercise jurisdiction obtains in this instance.

In any event, upon a perusal of the merits or lack thereof, the petition is clearly dismissible.

Gunsi insists that he possessed the qualifications to run for Mayor of South Upi, Maguindanao; specifically, he claims that he was a registered voter at the time he filed his COC.

Consequently, Gunsi maintains that he is a registered voter, especially considering that his name appears in the Registry List of Voters. In all, Gunsi avers that his COC should not have been cancelled; ultimately, he should not have been disqualified from running as Mayor of South Upi, Maguindanao.

Plainly, the irregularities surrounding Gunsis application for registration eloquently proclaim that he did not comply with the minimum requirements of RA No. 8189 (The Voters Registration Act of 1996).

The cancellation of Gunsis COC by the COMELEC and his consequent disqualification from running as Mayor of South Upi, Maguindanao, was correct.

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