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1 13/HASSAN v. COMELEC G.R. No. 124089, 13 November 1996 Kapunan, J.

Topic: Citizen Participation and Electoral Rights>Failure of Election FACTS: petitioner Hassan and private respondent Buatan were candidates for the Ofce of the Vice Mayor while the other private respondents were candidates for councilors in Madalum, Lanao del Sur in the 08 May 1995 regular local elections due to threats of violence and terrorism in the area, there was a failure of elections in 6 out of 24 precincts in Madalum the ballot boxes were burned and there were threats by unidentied persons in Precinct No. 7-A in Precinct Nos. 9, 9-A, 10, 13, and 14, elections did not take place because the members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) failed to report to their respective polling places thus, the Monitoring Supervising Team (COMELEC Team) recommended the COMELEC the holding of special elections in said precincts on 27 May 1995 which was rescheduled for 29 May 1995 for the reason that the members of the BEI failed to report for duty in their respective polling places the rescheduling of the elections in these precincts is to be held at Liangan Elementary School, which is 15 kilometers away from the designated polling places on May 29, the members of the BEI did not again report for duty hence, the COMELEC was constrained to appoint police/military personnel to act as substitute members so as to push through with the elections thereafter the winners were announced and the results for the Ofce of the Mayor showed that private respondent Buatan won on 10 June 1995, petitioner Hassan led a petition with the COMELEC assailing the validity of the May 29 rescheduled special elections on the grounds that: the voting which started at 10:00 a.m. was forcibly ended at around 2:00 p.m. because of exchanges of rapid gunring and grenade launching between unknown elements and the Army or PNP soldiers; the voting was moves to Liangan E/S, located about 15 kilometers away from the respective polling places; notices in the transfer of venue of the voting was sent only the night of 28 May 1995 and only to a few but not to all concerned; only 328 out of the 1,645 registered voters of said precincts were able to vote constituting only 21.1%, and disenfranchising 78% of the registered voters thereof; and the regular members of the BEI did not report for duty and were substituted by military personnel COMELEC en banc issued a resolution denying the petition for a declaration of failure of elections and to call special elections in subject precincts in Madalum, Lanao del Sur ISSUE: W/N under the circumstances attendant in the case, a declaration of failure of elections is proper. HELD: Yes. DECISION: the authority of the COMELEC to declare a failure of election is provided by Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code

2 in several cases, the Court has ruled that the pre-conditions for declaring a failure of election are: (1) that no voting has been held in any precinct or precincts because of force majeure, violence, or terrorism, and (2) that the votes cast therein sufce to affect the results of the elections the concurrence of these two (2) circumstances are required to justify the calling of a special election mindful of these two (2) requirements, the Court ruled in favor of the petitioner the COMELEC cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that terrorism was so prevalent in the area, sufcient enough to declare that no voting actually occurred on 29 May 1995 in the areas concerned it must be recalled that elections had to be set for the third time because no members of the BEI reported for duty due to impending threats of violence in the area the peculiar situation of Madalum cannot be overstated notwithstanding the notice given on the afternoon of May 28 resetting the special elections to May 29 and transferring the venue of the elections 15 kilometers away from the farthest barangay/school was too short resulting to the disenfranchisement of voters out of 1,546 registered voters in the ve (5) precincts, only 328 actually voted further, the Court cannot agree with the COMELEC that petitioner, his followers, or the constituents must be charged with notice of the special elections to be held because of the failure of the two (2) previous elections for to require the voters to come to the polls on such short notice was highly impracticable in a place marred by violence, it was necessary for the voters to be given sufcient time to be notied of the changes and prepare themselves for the eventuality from the foregoing, it is not difcult for the Court to rule that there was insufciency of notice given as to the time and transfer of the polling places; the low turnout of voters is more than sufcient proof that the elections conducted on that day was vitiated - a less than a days notice of time and transfer of polling places 15 kilometers away from the original polls certainly deprived the electors the opportunity to participate in the elections the rescheduling of the special elections from May 27 to May 29, was done in uncommon haste and unreasonably too close for all voters to be notied of the changes, not only as to the date but as to the designated polling place even in highly urbanized areas, the dissemination of notices poses to be a problem; in the absence of proof that actual notice of the special elections has reached a great number of voters, the Court is constrained to consider the May 29 elections as invalid