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Vilar v. Paraiso

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  9/26/2014G.R. No. L-8014 Today is Friday, September 26, 2014 Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT ManilaEN BANC G.R. No. L-8014 March 14, 1955PEDRO V. VILAR,  petitioner-appellant, vs. GAUDENCIO V. PARAISO,  respondent-appellant. Claro M. Recto and Jose Nava for petitioner-appellant.Josefina R. Phodaca and Naomi P. Salvador for respondent-appellant. BAUTISTA ANGELO, J. : In the general elections held on November 13, 1951, Pedro V. Vilar and Gaudencio V. Paraiso were among thecandidates registered and voted for the office of mayor of Rizal, Nueva Ecija. after the canvass was made, Vilar obtained 1,467 votes while Paraiso garnered 1,509, and as a result the municipal board of canvassers proclaimedthe latter as the mayor duly elected with a plurality of 41 votes. However, contending that Paraiso was ineligible tohold office as mayor because he was then a minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and such wasdisqualified to be a candidate under section 2175 of the Revised Administrative Code, Vilar instituted the present quo warranto proceedings praying that Paraiso be declared ineligible to assume office and that his proclamation asmayor-elect be declared null and void. He also prayed that he be declared duly elected mayor of Rizal, Nueva Ecija,in lieu of respondent Paraiso.Respondent in his answer denied his ineligibility and claimed that he resigned as minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines on August 21, 1951, that his resignation was accepted by the cabinet of his church at aspecial meeting held in Polo, Bulacan on August 27, 1951, and that even if respondent was not eligible to the office,petitioner could not be declared elected to take his place. After due trial, the court found respondent to be ineligible for the office of mayor, being an ecclesiastic, and,consequently, it declared his proclamation as mayor null and void, but refrained from declaring petitioner as mayor-elect for lack of sufficient legal grounds to do so. from this election both parties have appealed, respondent from thatportion finding him ineligible, and petitioner from that portion holding he cannot be declared elected as mayor for lack of sufficient legal grounds to do so.The case was srcinally taken to the Court of Appeals. However, as the latter court found that while petitioner raisesin his brief only questions of law respondent raises both questions of law and fact, and both appeals are indivisiblein that they pertain to only one case, that court resolved to certify it to this Court pursuant to the provisions of sections 17 and 31 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, upon the theory that one of the appeals is exclusively cognizable bythe Supreme Court.The only issue before us is whether respondent, being an ecclesiastic, is ineligible to hold office under section 2175of the Revised Administrative Code, or whether he actually resigned as minister before the date of the elections, andhis resignation duly accepted, as claimed, thereby removing his disability. As may be noted, this is a question of factthe determination of which much depends upon the credibility and weight of the evidence of both parties.The evidence for petitioner tends to show that respondent was ordained as minister of the Evangelical Church of thePhilippines in 1944 and as such was given license to solemnize marriages by the Bureau of Public Libraries; thatsince 1944 up to 1950 he acted as minister in the town of Rizal, Nueva Ecija, continuously and without interruptionand has been renewing his license to solemnize marriages as prescribed by the regulations of the Bureau of PublicLibraries; that on April 19, 1950, respondent transferred to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, havingbeen assigned to work in the same place and chapel during the years 1944-1950; that on April 7, 1951, respondentapplied for, and was issued, a license to solemnize marriages by the Bureau of Public Libraries as minister of thenew church up to the end of April, 1952; that said license has never been cancelled, as neither the head of theunited church nor respondent has requested for its cancellation; and that respondent has been publicly known asminister of the United Church of Christ, but he has not attached to his certificate of candidacy a copy of his alleged  9/26/2014G.R. No. L-8014 resignation as minister.The evidence for the respondent, on the other hand, tends to show that while he was formerly a minister of theUnited of Christ in the Philippines, he, however, filed his resignation as such minister on August 21, 1951, becauseof his desire to engage in politics; that said resignation was accepted by the cabinet of his church at a specialmeeting held in Polo, Bulacan on August 27, 1951; that respondent turned over his chapel and his office to the elder members of his religious order on August 21, 1951, and since then he considered himself separated from his order and in fact he has refrained ever since from conducting any religious services pertaining to that order.Which of these versions is correct? After careful examining the evidence of record, and after weighing its credibility and probative value, we have notfound any reason for deviating from the finding of the trial court that respondent never ceased as minister of theorder to which he belonged and that the resignation he claims to have filed months before the date of the electionsis but a mere scheme to circumvent the prohibition of the law regarding ecclesiastics who desire to run for amunicipal office. Indeed, if respondent really and sincerely intended to resign as minister of the religiousorganization to which he belonged for the purpose of launching his candidacy why did he not resign in due form andhave the acceptance of his resignation registered with the Bureau of Public Libraries. 1  The importance of resignation cannot be underestimated. The purpose of registration is two-fold: to inform the public not only of theauthority of the minister to discharge religious functions, but equally to keep it informed of any change in hisreligious status. This information is necessary for the protection of the public. This is specially so with regard to theauthority to solemnized marriages, the registration of which is made by the law mandatory (Articles 92-96, new CivilCode). It is no argument to say that the duty to secure the cancellation of the requisite resignation devolves, notupon respondent, but upon the head of his organization or upon the official in charge of such registration, uponproper showing of the reason for such cancellation, because the law likewise imposes upon the interested party theduty of effecting such cancellation, who in the instant case is the respondent himself. This he failed to do. And whatis more, he failed to attach to his certificate of candidacy, a copy of his alleged resignation as minister knowing fullwell that a minister is disqualified by law to run for a municipal office.It is true that respondent attempted to substantiate his claim by submitting as evidence certain documentspurporting to show the alleged resignation and its acceptance by the cabinet of his church at a meeting held on August 27, 1951, but, considering said documents in the light of the shortcomings we have pointed out above, onecannot help but brand them as self-serving or as documents merely prepared to serve the political designs of respondent in an attempt to obviate his disqualification under the law. And this feeling appears strengthened if weexamine the so-called minute book wherein, according to witness Jose Agpalo, are entered the minutes of all themeeting of the church, because upon an examination thereof one would at once get the impression that it wasprepared haphazardly and not with such seriousness and solemnity that should characterize the religious activitiesof a well established religious order. As the trial court aptly remarked All these lead the court to believe with thepetitioner, that the supposed resignation and acceptance were made at a later date to cure the ineligibility of therespondent. We are therefore constrained to hold that respondent is disqualified to hold the office of mayor asfound by the trial court. As to the question whether, respondent being ineligible, petitioner can be declared elected, having obtained secondplace in the elections, our answer is simple: this Court has already declared that this cannot be done in the absenceof an express provision authorizing such declaration. Our law not only does not contain any such provision butapparently seems to prohibit it. This is what we said in at least two cases where we laid down a ruling which isdecisive of the present case.. . . . In the first case when the person elected is ineligible, the court cannot declare that the candidateoccupying the second place has been elected, even if he were eligible, since the law only authorizes adeclaration of election in favor of the person who has obtained a plurality of votes, and has presented hiscertificate of candidacy. (Nuval vs . Guray, 52 Phil., 645.)Section 173 of Republic Act No. 180 known as the Revised Election Code, does not provide that if thecontestee is declared ineligible the contestant will be proclaimed. Indeed it may be gathered that the lawcontemplates no such result, because it permits the filing of the contest by any   registered candidateirrespective of whether the latter occupied the next highest place or the lowest in the election returns.(Llamoso vs . Ferrer, et al., 84 Phil., 489, 47 Off. Gaz., [No. 2] p. 727.)Wherefore, the decision appealed from is affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs. Paras C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Jugo, Labrador, Concepcion and Reyes, J.B.L., JJ., concur. Footnotes  9/26/2014G.R. No. L-8014 1 Regulations for the enforcement of the Marriage Law issued by the Director of Public Libraries and approvedby the Secretary of Education on February 26, 1951, in connection with Article 95, new Civil Code. The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation


Jul 23, 2017
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