Published 16 May 2022, The Daily Tribune

Elections are of paramount importance in a democratic country. In the Philippines, campaigns have always been vibrant and eventful, sometimes exceeding the entertainment value of even the most popular TV shows. But the post-election scenario is not to be snubbed. Often, this is when some of the most memorable events and landmark jurisprudence are born. Difficult questions are grappled with and remedies are fully explored, to the end that the true will of the electorate is established and protected.

For this reason, we will be starting a short series on post-election remedies in our effort to continue voters’ education. We hope to continue to equip each Filipino with essential legal knowledge when it comes to electoral matters.

Elections are not impervious to outcomes that result in ties. With this possibility, the 1987 Constitution and Batas Pambansa 881, also known as the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), provided different solutions to that scenario in the different levels of government.

Contrary to misconceptions and what some local candidates with equal number of votes had proposed, term-sharing is not a legally sanctioned option in cases of an electoral tie.

Under Sec. 240 of Article XIX of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), in an election resulting in a tie (i.e., two or more candidates have received an equal and highest number of votes), the board of canvassers draws lots of the candidates who have tied and shall proclaim as elected the candidates who may be favored by luck, and the candidates so proclaimed shall have the right to assume office in the same manner as if he had been elected by plurality of vote. The draw is preceded by proper formalities, such as a resolution by the board and at least five days prior notice to the candidates. The board shall then proclaim the candidate who had been favored by luck and issue a certificate to this effect.

Nevertheless, this draw-lots mechanism to break a tie does not deprive any candidate of his right to contest the election.

In the case of Tugade vs Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Agustin (GR 171063, 2 March 2007), petitioner Tugade and respondent Agustin are candidates for the position of punong barangay in San Raymundo, Balungao, Pangasinan. There was a one-vote difference at the initial count. The Barangay Board of Canvassers proclaimed petitioner as the elected punong barangay. Private respondent filed an election protest with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC), which eventually declared private respondent as the electoral winner.

On appeal, the Comelec Second Division declared a tie between petitioner and private respondent with a final tally of 246 votes for each party. Hence, it directed the Barangay Board of Canvassers to reconvene and hold a special public meeting at which it shall proceed to the drawing of lots and proclaim the candidate who may be favored by luck, pursuant to Section 240 of the OEC.

Velasco vs Comelec (GR 166931, 22 February 2007) is another election protest case involving the office of the punong barangay. Petitioner was proclaimed winner with 390 votes, while respondent received 375 votes. Claiming that some votes cast in his favor were erroneously excluded from the canvassing, respondent filed an election protest in the MTC.

The trial court declared the election results tied, with petitioner and respondent each obtaining 390 votes after revision of the contested ballots. It credited 15 more votes to respondent and one more vote to petitioner, thus leaving petitioner and respondent with 390 votes each. The trial court ordered the drawing of lots to break the tie and determine the winner. Upon reaching the Supreme Court, however, the latter found that the vote cast for respondent in one of the contested ballots was valid, while those in the other two ballots were stray.

(To be continued)

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