Nuffnang

Case Digest - Election Law

Martinez III vs. HRET/Salimbangon

GEN 189034

January 11, 2010

Villarama; J.;

FACTS:

This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. Petitioner filed an election protest to HRET against private respondent, the latter being declared as the representative – elect of Cebu after the May 2007 elections. One Edelito C. Martinez, who had the same last name as that of petitioner was declared nuisance candidate long after the May 2007 elections was over. His name, therefore was not removed from the ballots and that ballots bearing the name “C. Martinez” or “Martinez” considered stray by BEI. The HRET refused to credit the 5,401 voters to petitioner on the ground that there was no way of determining the real intention of the voter.

ISSUE:

Whether nor not ballots containing similar surname of two candidates be considered as stray votes or counted in favor of the bona fide candidate.

RULING:

The purpose of an election protest is to ascertain whether the candidate proclaimed by the board of canvassers is the lawful choice of the people. What is sought is the correction of the canvass of votes, which was the basis of proclamation of the winning candidate.

In controversies pertaining to nuisance candidates as in the case at bar, the law contemplates the likelihood of confusion which the similarity of surnames of 2 candidates may generate. A nuisance candidate is defined as one, who based on the attendant circumstance, has no bona fide intention to run for office for which the COC has been filed, his sole purpose being the reduction of votes of a strong candidate, upon the expectation that ballots with only the surname of such candidate will be considered stray and not counted for either of them.

We therefore hold that ballots indicating only the similar surname of 2 candidates for the same position may, in appropriate cases, be counted in favor of the bona fide candidate and not considered stray even if the other candidate was declared a nuisance candidate by final judgment after elections… petitioner thus garnered more votes than respondent…

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