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Appointive Officials Not Deemed Resigned upon Filing of CoC (Quinto vs.

COMELEC)
Published by Atty. Fred December 2nd, 2009 in Elections and Constitutional Law. 0 Comments

The rule in elections, as people know it, is that an appointed official is deemed
automatically resigned from their positions once he/she files the Certificate of Candidacy
(CoC) for any elective position. This rule on automatic resignation does not apply to
elected officials. There is now a new rule. Appointed officials are NO longer deemed
resigned upon the filing of the CoC. This is the ruling of the Supreme Court in Eleazar
Quinto vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 189698, 1 December 2009.
Background of the Case
In preparation for the 2010 elections, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) issued
Resolution No. 8678 the Guidelines on the Filing of Certificates of Candidacy (CoC)
and Nomination of Official Candidates of Registered Political Parties in Connection with
the May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections. Section 4 of Resolution No. 8678
provide:
SEC. 4. Effects of Filing Certificates of Candidacy.a) Any person holding a public
appointive office or position including active members of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, and other officers and employees in government-owned or controlled
corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his
certificate of candidacy.
b) Any person holding an elective office or position shall not be considered resigned upon
the filing of his certificate of candidacy for the same or any other elective office or
position.
Two appointive officers of the government who were planning to run in the 2010
elections sought the nullification of Section 4(a) on the ground, among others, that it is
discriminatory and violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Applicable Laws
Section 4(a) of Resolution No. 8678 is a reproduction of the second proviso in the third
paragraph of Section 13 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9369, which reads:
For this purpose, the Commission shall set the deadline for the filing of certificate of
candidacy/petition for registration/manifestation to participate in the election. 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 certificate of
candidacy: Provided, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take
effect only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period: Provided, finally, That any
person holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of the
armed forces, and officers and employees in government-owned or -controlled
corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his/her office and must vacate
the same at the start of the day of the filing of his/her certificate of candidacy.
The proviso, on the other hand, was lifted from Section 66 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881,
or the Omnibus Election Code, which reads:
Sec. 66. Candidates holding appointive office or position.Any person holding a public
appointive office or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, and officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations,

shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office upon the filing of his certificate of
candidacy.
Ruling of the Supreme Court
According to the majority, with Justice Nachura as the ponencia, Section 4 (a) of the
Resolution is null and void for being violative of the equal protection clause and for
being overbroad. The second proviso in the third paragraph of Section 13 of R.A. 9369,
and Section 66 of the Omnibus Election Code were also declared as
UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
Challenged provision discriminatory
There used to be a similar provision in the Election Code and R.A. 8436 relating to the
automatic resignation of elective officials upon the filing of their CoCs, but this was
repealed by R.A. 9006, also known as the Fair Election Act. There was, thus, created a
situation of obvious discrimination against appointive officials who were deemed ipso
facto resigned from their offices upon the filing of their CoCs, while elective officials
were not.
Four (4) requisites of valid classification must be complied with in order that a
discriminatory governmental act may pass the constitutional norm of equal protection:
(1) It must be based upon substantial distinctions;
(2) It must be germane to the purposes of the law;
(3) It must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
(4) It must apply equally to all members of the class.
The first requirement means that there must be real and substantial differences between
the classes treated differently. Nevertheless, the classification would still be invalid if it
does not comply with the second requirementif it is not germane to the purpose of the
law. The third requirement means that the classification must be enforced not only for the
present but as long as the problem sought to be corrected continues to exist. And, under
the last requirement, the classification would be regarded as invalid if all the members of
the class are not treated similarly, both as to rights conferred and obligations imposed.
According to the Supreme Court, the differential treatment of persons holding appointive
offices as opposed to those holding elective ones is not germane to the purposes of the
law.
The obvious reason for the challenged provision is to prevent the use of a governmental
position to promote ones candidacy, or even to wield a dangerous or coercive influence
on the electorate. The measure is further aimed at promoting the efficiency, integrity, and
discipline of the public service by eliminating the danger that the discharge of official
duty would be motivated by political considerations rather than the welfare of the public.
The restriction is also justified by the proposition that the entry of civil servants to the
electoral arena, while still in office, could result in neglect or inefficiency in the
performance of duty because they would be attending to their campaign rather than to
their office work.
If we accept these as the underlying objectives of the law, then the assailed provision
cannot be constitutionally rescued on the ground of valid classification. Glaringly absent
is the requisite that the classification must be germane to the purposes of the law. Indeed,
whether one holds an appointive office or an elective one, the evils sought to be
prevented by the measure remain. For example, the Executive Secretary, or any Member
of the Cabinet for that matter, could wield the same influence as the Vice-President who
at the same time is appointed to a Cabinet post (in the recent past, elected Vice-Presidents

were appointed to take charge of national housing, social welfare development, interior
and local government, and foreign affairs). With the fact that they both head executive
offices, there is no valid justification to treat them differently when both file their CoCs
for the elections. Under the present state of our law, the Vice-President, in the example,
running this time, let us say, for President, retains his position during the entire election
period and can still use the resources of his office to support his campaign.
As to the danger of neglect, inefficiency or partisanship in the discharge of the functions
of his appointive office, the inverse could be just as true and compelling. The public
officer who files his certificate of candidacy would be driven by a greater impetus for
excellent performance to show his fitness for the position aspired for.
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. The classification simply fails to meet the test that it should be germane to the
purposes of the law.
Challenged provision overbroad
First, the provision pertains to all civil servants holding appointive posts without
distinction as to whether they occupy high positions in government or not. Certainly, a
utility worker in the government will also be considered as ipso facto resigned once he
files his CoC for the 2010 elections. This scenario is absurd for, indeed, it is
unimaginable how he can use his position in the government to wield influence in the
political world.
While it may be admitted that most appointive officials who seek public elective office
are those who occupy relatively high positions in government, laws cannot be legislated
for them alone, or with them alone in mind. For the right to seek public elective office is
universal, open and unrestrained, subject only to the qualification standards prescribed in
the Constitution and in the laws. These qualifications are, as we all know, general and
basic so as to allow the widest participation of the citizenry and to give free rein for the
pursuit of ones highest aspirations to public office. Such is the essence of democracy.
Second, the provision is directed to the activity of seeking any and all public offices,
whether they be partisan or nonpartisan in character, whether they be in the national,
municipal or barangay level. Congress has not shown a compelling state interest to
restrict the fundamental right involved on such a sweeping scale.
Specific evils require specific treatments, not through overly broad measures that unduly
restrict guaranteed freedoms of the citizenry. After all, sovereignty resides in the people,
and all governmental power emanates from them.
Dissenting Opinions: Chief Justice Puno, Justice Carpio and Justice Carpio-Morales. Full
text of Eleazar Quinto vs. COMELEC.