Before the Court is a petition for prohibition and certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction, assailing Section 4(a) of Resolution No. 8678 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). They contend that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it issued the assailed Resolution. They aver that the advance filing of CoCs for the 2010 elections is intended merely for the purpose of early printing of the official ballots in order to cope with time limitations. Such advance filing does not automatically make the person who filed the CoC a candidate at the moment of filing. Petitioners further posit that the provision considering them as ipso facto resigned from office upon the filing of their CoCs is discriminatory and violates the equal protection clause in the Constitution.
Are appointed officials considered resigned upon filing of their certificates of candidacy? Is Section 13 of RA 9369 violative of the equal protection clause?
No to the first question and yes to the second. “ANY PERSON WHO FILES HIS CERTIFICATE OF CANDIDACY WITHIN THIS PERIOD SHALL ONLY BE CONSIDERED AS A CANDIDATE AT THE START OF THE CAMPAIGN PERIOD FOR WHICH HE FILED HIS COC.” The said proviso seems to mitigate the situation of disadvantage afflicting appointive officials by considering persons who filed their CoCs as candidates only at the start of the campaign period, thereby, conveying the tacit intent that persons holding appointive positions will only be considered as resigned at the start of the campaign period when they are already treated by law as candidates.
In considering persons holding appointive positions as ipso facto resigned from their posts upon the filing of their CoCs, but not considering as resigned all other civil servants, specifically the elective ones, the law unduly discriminates against the first class. The fact alone that there is substantial distinction between those who hold appointive positions and those occupying elective posts, does not justify such differential treatment.
Applying the four requisites to the instant case, the Court finds that the differential treatment of persons holding appointive offices as opposed to those holding elective ones is not germane to the purposes of the law. There is thus no valid justification to treat appointive officials differently from the elective ones. The classification simply fails to meet the test that it should be germane to the purposes of the law. The measure encapsulated in the second proviso of the third paragraph of Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369 and in Section 66 of the OEC violates the equal protection clause.