Petitioner Jamela Salic Maruhom was a mayoralty candidate in the Municipality of Marantao, Lanao del Sur.Her opponent, re-electionist Mayor Abinal filed before the COMELEC a Petition for Disqualification against Maruhom, which alleged that she was a double registrant.
The COMELEC First Division found that Maruhom had two subsisting registrations, one in Marawi, and another in Marantao and subsequently ordered the deletion of Maruhom’s name from the list of official candidates for municipal mayor of Marantao. Aggrieved, Maruhom filed the instant Petition for Certiorari, under Rule 64 of the Revised Rules of Court; imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of COMELEC, for the Comelec had no jurisdiction to declare null and void her registration as a registered voter of Marantao, Lanao el Sur and to declare her as a double registrant.
Is the challenge on Maruhom’s registration, an issue on the right to vote and, thus, beyond the COMELEC’s jurisdiction?
No. The Court held that present case is not about her being denied her right to register as a voter, but is all about her making false material representations in her COC, which would warrant the cancellation of the same.
COMELEC has laid down the rule that while the first registration of any voter subsists, any subsequent registration thereto is void ab initio. Following this, Maruhom’s earlier registration in Marawi is deemed valid, while her subsequent registration in Marantao is void ab initio. Accordingly, Maruhom cannot be considered a registered voter in Marantao and, thus, she made a false representation in her COC when she claimed to be one.
It must be underscored that in addition to the express jurisdiction of COMELEC over petitions for cancellation of COCs, on the ground of false material representations, under Section 78 of the OEC, the Constitution also extends to COMELEC all the necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections. The determination, therefore, made by the COMELEC that Maruhom’s Marawi registration is valid, while her Marantao registration is void, is only in accord with its explicit jurisdiction, or at the very least, its residual powers.
The Resolution of the COMELEC en banc merely defeated Maruhom’s intent to run for elective office, but it did not deprive her of her right to vote. Although Maruhom’s registration in Marantao is void, her registration in Marawi still subsists. She may be barred from voting or running for mayor in the former, but she may still exercise her right to vote, or even run for an elective post, in the latter.