Republic of the Philippines
A.M. No. 10-4-1-SC
2010 RULES OF PROCEDURE IN ELECTION CONTESTS BEFORE THE COURTS INVOLVING ELECTIVE MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS
R E S O L U T I O N
Acting on the recommendation of the Chairman and Members of the Sub-committee on Internal Rules, the Court RESOLVED to APPROVE the "2010 Rules of Procedure in Election Contests before the Courts Involving Elective Municipal Officials."
These Rules shall take fifteen (15) days after their publication in newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.
April 27, 2010.
REYNATO S. PUNO
|ANTONIO T. CARPIO
|RENATO C. CORONA
|CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
|PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
|ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
|TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
|ARTURO D. BRION
|DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
|LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
|MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
|ROBERTO A. ABAD
|MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
|JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
|JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
2010 RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR MUNICIPAL ELECTION CONTESTS
S C O P E
Section 1. Title and coverage. – These Rules shall be known and cited as The 2010 Rules of Procedure for Municipal Election Contests.
These Rules shall apply to election contests under the Automated Election System using the Precinct Count Optical Scan, and shall govern the filing of pleadings, practice and procedure in these contests.
Section 2. Application of the Rules of Court. – The Rules of Court shall apply to aspects of pleadings, practice and procedure in election contests not specifically provided for in these Rules.
Section 3. Explanation of terms. – For purposes of and as used in these Rules:
(a) Courts – refers to the Regional Trial Court;
(b) Election – means the choice or selection of candidates for public office by popular vote through the use of the ballot. Specifically, it covers the conduct of the polls, including the listing of voters, the holding of the electoral campaign, the casting and counting of ballots, the consolidation and transmission of results, and the canvassing of the returns;
(c) Automated Election System or AES – refers to an election system using the technology designated by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for voting, counting, consolidating, canvassing, transmission of election results, and the returns;
(d) Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS – refers to the machine as well as the technology using an optical ballot scanner, located in every precinct, that scans or reads paper ballots that voters mark by hand and insert into the scanner to be counted;
(e) Official ballot – refers to the paper ballot, capable of being optically scanned, with the pre-printed names of all candidates and with ovals corresponding to each of the printed names. The ovals are the spaces where voters express their choice through marking or shading using a COMELEC-provided marking pen.
(f) Picture Image of the Ballot – refers to the image of the ballot captured by the PCOS machine at the time the voter feeds his/her ballot, which image is later stored in a memory or removable data storage device attached to the PCOS machines.
(g) Election Return – refers to the document showing the date of the election, the province, city, municipality and the precinct where voting is held, and the number of votes in figures for each candidate in a precinct or in clustered precincts.
(h) Electronic Election Return – refers to the copy of the election return in electronic form, generated by the PCOS machine, that is electronically transmitted to: (1) the Municipal Board of Canvassers for the official canvass; (2) the COMELEC Back-Up Server; (3) the server for the dominant majority party; (4) the server for dominant minority party; (5) server for the citizen’s arm authorized by the COMELEC to conduct a parallel count; and (6) the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster sa Pilipinas or KBP.
(i) Printed Election Return – refers to the copy of the election return printed by the PCOS machine on paper, and authenticated by the manual signatures and thumbmarks of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) members.
(j) Electronic transmission – refers to the act of conveying data in electronic form from one location to another.
(k) Canvass proceedings – refers to the proceedings that involve the consolidation of precinct election results at the municipal level. The term also includes the formal proclamation of the election winners at the municipal level.
(l) Consolidation machine – refers to the machine used during the canvass proceedings to consolidate at every canvass level.
(m) Statement of Votes by Precinct, Municipality, City, District, Province, or Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) Station -–refers to a document in electronic and in printed form generated by consolidation machines or by computers during the canvass proceedings. This document records the votes obtained by candidates in each precinct, municipality, city, district, province, or OAV Station, as the case may be.
(n) Municipal Certificate of Canvass – refers to the document in electronic and in printed form, containing the total votes in figures obtained by each candidate in the municipality the electronic form of which is the official canvass result in the municipality electronically-transmitted to a higher canvass level.
(o) Certificate of Canvass and Proclamation – refers to the official document in printed form, containing the names of all candidates who obtained the highest number of votes in a particular municipality and certifying to these candidates’ proclamation as winners.
(p) Data Storage Device – refers to the device that stores electronic documents from where data may be obtained when necessary to verify the accuracy and correctness of election data. The data storage device used in a PCOS shall be under the custody and direct responsibility of the election officer after completion of the voting process. A data storage device includes the back-up storage device under COMELEC custody that likewise stores authentic electronic copies of data.
(q) Audit Log – refers to the electronic document, stored in the PCOS machine’s data storage device, containing the list of all activities the PCOS machine performs from the time that it is powered on until it is turned off.
(r) Electronic document – refers to the record of information or the representation of information, data, figures, symbols or other modes of written expression, described or however represented, by which a fact may be proved and affirmed, which is received, recorded, transmitted, stored, processed, retrieve or produced electronically. It includes digitally-signed documents and any printout or output, readable by sight or other means, that accurately reflects the electronic document.
For purposes of these Rules, an electronic document refers to either the picture image of the ballots or the electronic copies of the election returns, the statements of votes, the certificates of canvass, the audit log, and other electronic data processed by the PCOS and consolidation machines.
(s) Manual count of ballots – where voting using the AES ballots proceeded manually because the PCOS machines could not be used, votes shall be counted manually under the guidelines provided by the COMELEC, and the courts shall be guided accordingly.
(t) Election contests – refers to election protests or petitions for quo warranto.
(u) Election protest – refers to an election contest involving the election and returns of municipal elective officials, grounded on fraud or irregularities committed in the conduct of the elections, i.e., in the casting and the counting of the ballots, in the consolidation of votes and in the canvassing of returns, not otherwise classified as a pre-proclamation controversy cognizable by the COMELEC. The issue is who obtained the plurality of valid votes cast.
(v) Quo Warranto under the Omnibus Election Code – refers to an election contest involving the qualifications for office of an elective municipal official, on the ground of ineligibility or disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines. The issue is whether the respondent possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications prescribed by law.
(w) Revision of ballots – refers ton the recount of ballots through their physical count; the segregation of ballots for the protestant, the protestee and other candidates for the same position and the recording of the objections and claims to these ballots.
(x) Promulgation – refers to the process of officially issuing the court’s decision or order in an election contest.
Section 4. Inherent powers of the court. – A regional trial court acting on an election contest shall have all the inherent powers of a court provided under Rule 135 of the Rules of Court, including the power to issue auxiliary writs, processes, and other means necessary to carry its authority or jurisdiction into effect and to adopt suitable processes not expressly provided by, but conformable with, law, these Rules, or the Rules of Court.
Section 5. Construction. – The Rules shall be liberally constructed to achieve a just, expeditious, and inexpensive determination and disposition of municipal election contests.
Section 1. Jurisdiction of regional trial courts. – Regional trial courts shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all election contests involving municipal officials.
Section 2. How initiated. – An election contest is initiated by the filing of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto against an elective municipal official. An election protest or a petition for quo warranto shall be filed directly with the court in three legible copies plus such number of copies corresponding to the number of protestees or respondents.
An election protest shall not include a petition for quo warranto, nor shall a petition for quo warranto include an election protest.
Section 3. Modes of service and filing. – Service and filing of pleadings, including the initiatory petition and other subsequent papers, shall be done personally. Except for papers emanating from the court, resort to other modes of service must be accompanied by a written explanation why the service or filing was not done personally. A pleading or motion violating this Rule shall be considered not to have been filed.1avvphi1
Section 4. Election protest. – A petition contesting the election or returns for an elective municipal office shall be filed with the proper Regional Trial Court by an candidate who was voted for the same office and who received the second or third-highest number of votes or, in a multi-slot position, was among the next four candidates following the last-ranked winner duly proclaimed, as reflected in the official results of the election contained in the Statement of Votes by Precinct. The party filing the protest shall be designated as the protestant; the adverse party shall be known as the protestee.
Each contest shall refer exclusively to one office; however, contests for offices of the Sangguniang Bayan may be consolidated in one case.
Section 5. Quo warranto. – A petition for quo warranto against an elective municipal official shall be filed with the proper Regional Trial Court by any registered voter who voted in the municipal election. The party filing the petition shall be designated as the petitioner; the adverse party shall be known as the respondent.
Section 6. Petition must be verified and accompanied by a certificate of non-forum shopping. – An election protest or a petition for quo warranto shall be verified by an affidavit stating that the affiant has read the petition and that its allegations are true and correct of the affiant’s own knowledge or based on authentic records. A verification based on "information and belief" or upon "knowledge, information and belief" is not sufficient.
The protestant or petitioner shall sign personally the certificate of non-forum shopping, which must be annexed to the election protest or petition for quo warranto.
An unverified or insufficiently verified petition or one that lacks a certificate of non-forum shopping shall be dismissed outright and shall not suspend the running of the required period for the filing of an election protest or petition for quo warranto.
Section 7. Period to file protest or petition; non-extendible. – The election protest or petition for quo warranto shall be filed within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days counted from the date of proclamation.
Section 8. Pendency of pre-proclamation controversy. – The pendency of a pre-proclamation controversy, involving the validity of the proclamation as defined by law, shall suspend the running of the period for the filing of an election protest or petition for quo warranto.
Section 9. COMELEC judgment in disqualification case. – The decision of the COMELEC, either en banc or in division, in a disqualification case shall not be a bar to the filing of a petition for quo warranto based on the same ground, except when the Supreme Court has affirmed the COMELEC decision.
Section 10. Contests of the protest or petition. – (a) An election protest or petition for quo warranto shall commonly and specifically state the following facts:
(i) the position involved;
(ii) the date of proclamation; and
(iii) the number of votes credited to the parties per the proclamation.
(b) A quo warranto petition shall also state:
(i) if the petitioner is not a candidate for the same municipal position, the facts giving the petitioner standing to file the petition;
(ii) the qualifications for the municipal office and the disqualifications prescribed by law;
(iii) the petitioner’s cited ground for ineligibility or the specific acts of disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines.
(c) An election protest shall also state:
(i) that the protestant was a candidate who had duly filed a certificate of candidacy and had been voted for the same office;
(ii) the total number of precincts in the municipality;
(iii) the protested precincts and votes of the parties are not specified, an explanation why the votes are not specified; and
(iv) a detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of showing the electoral frauds, anomalies or irregularities in the protested precincts.
Section 11. Raffle of cases. – The Supreme Court shall designate the Regional Trial Court within a judicial region that shall take cognizance of election protests and petitions for quo warranto. A raffle conducted by the executive judge shall determine the assignment of cases to these courts except in single-sala courts or courts specifically designated by the Supreme Court. No court shall assume jurisdiction over an election contest unless the case has been properly assigned to it as provided herein.
At least twenty-four (24) hours before the raffle, the clerk of court must serve personal notice to the parties, stating the date and time of the raffle. Proof of service to the parties shall be submitted to the court, and the raffle shall be open to the public. The Supreme Court shall issue the necessary circular implementing this proviso.
The Court may order a change of venue or place or trial for compelling reasons to avoid a miscarriage of justice.
Section 12. Summary dismissal of election contests. – The court shall summarily dismiss, motu proporio, an election protest, counter-protest or petition for quo warranto on any of the following grounds:
(a) The court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter;
(b) The petition is insufficient in form and content as required under Section 10;
(c) The petition is filed beyond the period prescribed in these Rules;
(d) The filling fee is not paid within the period for filling the election protest or petition for quo warranto; and
(e) In a protest case where cash deposit is required, the deposit is not paid within five (5) days from the filling of the protest.
S U M M O N S
Section 1. Summons. – Within twenty-four (24) hours from the filling of a protest or petition, the clerk of court shall issue the corresponding summons to the protestee or to the respondent, together with a copy of the protest or petition, requiring the filling of an answer within a non-extendible period of five days from notice.
Section 2. Service of summons. – The summons shall be served by handing copies of the summons and of the protest or the petition to the protestee or the respondent in person or, in case of the protestee’s or the respondent’s refusal to receive and sign these copies, by tendering them to him or her.
If, for justifiable causes, the protestee or the respondent cannot be served in person as provided above, service may be effected by leaving copies of the summons and the protest or the petition at:
(a) The protestee’s or the respondent’s residence, with a person of suitable age and discretion residing therein, or
(b) The protestee’s or the respondent’s office or regular place of business, with a competent person in charge thereof.
Section 3. By whom served. – The summons shall be served by a sheriff, a deputy sheriff, a process server or any other suitable person authorized by the court issuing the summons.
ANSWER AND COUNTER-PROTEST
Section 1. Verified answer; counter-protest. – Within five (5) days from receipt of the summons and the copy of the protest or petition, the protestee or the respondent shall file an answer in three (3) legible copies, with proof of service of a copy on the protestant or the petitioner.
The answer shall be verified and may set forth admissions and denials, special and affirmative defenses, and a compulsory counterclaim. The protestee may incorporate a counter-protest in the answer.
The counter-protest shall specify the counter-protested precincts and the parties’ votes per the Statement of Votes by Precinct and, in the proper case, a detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of as electoral fraud, anomalies or irregularities in the counter-protested precincts; if the votes are not so specified, an explanation should be made for the omission.1avvphi1
Section 2. Answer to counterclaim or counter-protest. – The protestant or petitioner shall answer the counterclaim or counter-protest within a non-extendible period of five (5) days from notice.
Section 3. Allegations in the answer. –
(a) Specific denial. – A protestee or respondent must specify each material allegation of fact whose truth he or she does not admit; whenever practicable, he or she shall set forth the substance of the matters upon to support the denial. The protestee or respondent shall specify the averments that are true and material, and shall deny the rest.
(b) Allegations not specify denied deemed admitted. – Material averments in the protest or petition, other than the amount of unliquidated damages and issues on the appreciation of ballots, shall be deemed admitted when not specifically denied.
Section 4. Effect of failure to plead. –
(a) Defenses and objections not pleaded. – Defenses and objections not pleaded are deemed waived. The court shall dismiss the claim when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that (1) the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; or (2) there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause; or (3) the action is barred by a prior judgement or by the statute of limitations.
(b) Compulsory counterclaim or cross-claim not set up barred. – A compulsory counterclaim or a cross-claim not set up shall be barred.
(c) Effect of failure to answer. – If the protestee or the respondent fails to answer within the time allowed in an election protest that does not involve ballot revision or in a petition for quo warranto, the court – upon motion of the Protestant or the petitioner, with notice to the protestee or the respondent, and upon proof of such failure – shall proceed to render judgment granting the relief prayed for on the basis of the allegations of the verified protest or petition, unless the court in its discretion opts to require the protestant or the petitioner to submit evidence ex parte.
Where the election protest involves revision or examination of ballots or the verification or re-tabulation of the election returns, the court shall issue the appropriate order and shall proceed to render judgment based on the results of the revision, examination, verification or re-tabulation. During these proceedings, only the protestant’s revisors may participate. The protestee, or his or her duly authorized representative, has the right to be present and to observe the proceedings, without the right to object and to lay claim to ballots and election returns.
Section 5. How to compute time. – In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these Rules, by order of the court or by any applicable statute, the day of the act or the event marking the start when time begins to run is to be excluded and the date of performance included. If the last day of the period, as so computed, falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday in the place where the court sits, time shall not run until the next working day.
Section 6. Amendments; limitations. – After the expiration of the period for the filling of an election protest, counter-protest or petition for quo warranto, substantial amendments that broaden the scope of the action or introduce an additional cause of action may be allowed only upon leave of court. Leave of court may be refused if the motion for leave appears to the court to be intended for delay. Any amendment in matters of form – such as a defect in the designation of the parties and other clearly clerical or typographical errors – may summarily corrected by the court at any stage of the proceedings, at its initiative or on motion, provided the correction does not prejudice the adverse party.
M O T I O N S
Section 1. Motions must be in writing. – All motions shall be in writing, except for those made in open court.
Section 2. Proof of service necessary. – The court shall not act on any written motion, except upon submitted proof of service on the adverse party.
Section 3. No hearings on motions. – No motion shall be set for hearing, and no oral argument shall be allowed in support of any motion, except upon the court’s express. A motion shall be deemed submitted for resolution unless the adverse party files his or her written objections within five (5) days from service. The court shall resolve a motion within (5) days from the time it is deemed submitted for resolution.
Section 1. Prohibited pleadings and motions. – The following pleadings, motions or petitions shall not be allowed in the cases covered by these Rules:
(a) Motion to dismiss the petition, except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter;
(b) Motion for a bill of particulars;
(c) Demurrer to evidence;
(d) Motion for new trial, or for the reconsideration of a judgment, or for reopening of trial;
(e) Petition for relief from judgment;
(f) Motion for extension of time to file pleadings, affidavits or other papers;
(g) Memoranda, except as provided under Section 7, Rile 13 of these Rules;
(h) Motion to declare the protestee or the respondent in default;
(i) Dilatory motion for postponements;
(j) Motion for the inhibition of the presiding judge, except on clearly valid grounds;
(k) Reply or rejoinder; and
(l) Third-party complaint.
Section 2. Grounds to dismiss be set up in the answer. – All grounds to dismiss an election protest or petition for quo warranto must be set up or pleased as affirmative or special defenses. Defenses not raised are deemed waived. The court may, at its discretion, hold a preliminary hearing on the grounds so pleaded.
FILING FEES AND CASH DEPOSITS
Section 1. Filling fees. – No protest, counter-protest or petition for quo warranto shall be accepted for filling without the payment of a filling fee in the amount of Three Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) for every protest, counter-protest or petition for quo warranto filed.
If claims for damages and attorney’s fees are set forth in a protest or counter-protest, additional filling fees shall be paid in accordance with the schedule under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, as amended.
Section 2. Cash deposit. –
(a) In addition to the fees prescribed in the preceding section, the protestant in an election protest requiring revision or examination of ballots, or the verification or re-tabulation of election returns, or which may require bringing copies of other election documents and paraphernalia to court, shall make a cash deposit with the court in the following amounts:
i. One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) for each precinct covered by the protest or counter-protest, provided that the deposit shall in no case be less than Twenty-five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) to be paid upon the filling of the election protest or counter-protest;
ii. Twenty-five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) for the cost of bringing to court and of storing and maintaining the PCOS, the consolidation machines and other automated election paraphernalia brought to court as evidence or as necessary equipment in considering the protested or counter-protested ballots;
iii. If the amount to be deposit does not exceed One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00), the required sum shall be paid in full within ten (10) days from the filling of the protest or counter-protest; and
iv. If the required deposit shall exceed One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00), a cash deposit in the amount of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) shall be made within ten (10) days from the filling of the protest or counter-protest. The balance shall be paid in installments under the schedule the court may require after hearing the Protestant or counter-Protestant on the matter.
The cash deposit shall be applied by the court to the payment of the compensation of revisors as provided under Section 3, Rule 10 of these Rules, and of all the expenses incidental to revision, including but not limited to the cost of supplies and miscellaneous expenses of the revision committee, the cost of the production in court and the storage and maintenance of automated election equipment and paraphernalia.
When circumstances so demand (such as when the deposit has been or is about to be depleted), the court may require the payment of additional cash deposits. Any unused cash deposit shall be returned to the depositing party after the complete termination of the protest or counter-protest.
The same amount of cash deposit shall be required from the protestee (counter-protestant), should continuation of revision be ordered pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 10, Rule 10 of these Rules. Once required, the protestee (counter-protestant) shall pay the cash deposit within a non-extendible period of three days from receipt of the court’s order.
(b) Failure to make the cash deposits required within the prescribed time limit shall result in the automatic dismissal of the protest or counter-protest.
PRODUCTION AND CUSTODY OF BALLOT BOXES, ELECTION DOCUMENTS,
DATA STORAGE DEVICES AND PCOS MACHINES USED IN THE ELECTIONS (A)
Section 1. Issuance of precautionary protection order. – Where the allegations in a protest so warrant, the court shall order – simultaneously with the issuance of summons – the municipal treasurer and election officer concerned to take immediate and appropriate measures to safeguard the integrity of all the ballot boxes and the ballots, the lists of voters and voting records, the books of voters and other documents or paraphernalia used in the election, as well as the automated election equipment and records such as the data storage devices containing electronic data evidencing the conduct and results of elections in the contested precincts.
Section 2. When ballot boxes and election documents are brought before the court. – Within forty-eight (48) hours from receipt of an answer with counter-protest, when the allegations in an protest or counter-protest so warrant, the court shall order the ballot boxes with their keys, the PCOS and consolidation machines, the electronic data storage devices, the lists of voters and voting records, the books of voters, and other documents or paraphernalia involved in the protest or counter-protest, to be brought before it.
The court shall notify the parties of the date and time of retrieval and transfer from their respective custodians of the ballot boxes, the PCOS and consolidation machines (if necessary), the electronics data storage devices and all other automated election documents and paraphernalia. The parties may send representatives to witness the retrieval and transfer. The absence, however, of a representative of a party shall not be reason to postpone or delay the retrieval or transfer of the above-mentioned equipment, devices and election documents.
The court, at its discretion, may seek the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the Armed Forces of the Philippines in ensuring the safe delivery of the ballot boxes and the election equipment, devices and documents to its custody.
Where any of the ballot boxes, ballots, PCOS machines, data storage devices, election returns, election documents or paraphernalia mentioned above are also involved in election contests before other for a (such as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the Senate Electoral Tribunal, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal or the Commission on Elections) with preferential rights of custody and revision in simultaneous protests under COMELEC Resolution No. 2812 dated 17 October 1995, the court shall coordinate with and make the appropriate request with the higher tribunals for the temporary prior custody of ballot boxes, PCOS machines, electronic data storage devices and other election documents and paraphernalia, or for the synchronization of revision activities.
The expenses necessary and incidental to the production in court of the ballot boxes and election documents and the production, storage and maintenance of PCOS machines, data storage devices, and automated election paraphernalia and documents shall be shouldered and promptly paid by the protestant and counter-protestant in proportion to the precincts covered by their protects or counter-protests. The expenses necessary and incidental to the return of the materials and documents produced in court to their original custodians or to the proper tribunal after the termination of the case shall likewise be shared proportionately by the protestant and the protestee based on the number of precincts they respectively contest.
Section 3. Access to electronic data in the COMELEC back-up server. – Upon motion duly made based on demonstrated need, the court may order the COMELEC to provide the moving party access to, or to recover and use, electronic data from the COMELEC back-up server under conditions and safeguards required by COMELEC.
Section 1. Preliminary conference; mandatory. – Within three (3) days after the filling of the last responsive pleading allowed by these Rules, or on the expiration of this period without any responsive pleading having been filed, the court shall conduct a mandatory preliminary conference among the parties to consider:
(a) The simplification of issue;
(b) The necessary or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;
(c) The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admission of facts and of documents to avoid unnecessary proof;
(d) The limitation of the number of witnesses;
(e) The nature of the testimonies of the witnesses and whether they relate to evidence that do not involve the ballots, or otherwise;
(f) The withdrawal of certain protested or counter-protested precincts, especially those where the ballot boxes or ballots are unavailable or are missing, cannot be located, have been destroyed due to natural disasters or calamities, or where the PCOS and other electronic data are missing;
(g) The number of revision committees to be constituted;
(h) The procedure to be followed in case the election protest or counter-protest seeks, wholly or partially, the examination of ballots, or the verification or re-tabulation of election returns;
(i) The procedure in handling the PCOS and the other electronic machines and data; and
(j) Other matters that may contribute to prompt disposition of the case.
Section 2. Notice through counsel. – The notice of preliminary conference shall be served on counsel or on counsel on the party himself or herself who is not presented by counsel. Notice to counsel is to notice to the party, as counsel is charged with the duty to notify the party represented.
Section 3. Appearances of parties. - The parties have the duty to appear the person before the court at the preliminary conference. Counsels appearing without their clients should be specifically authorized to appear for and to bind their clients on the matters covered by the preliminary conference.
Section 4. Preliminary conference brief. – The parties shall file with the court their respective preliminary conference briefs and serve these on the adverse party in a manner that shall ensure the other party’s receipt of the brief at least one day before the date of the preliminary conference. The briefs shall contain the following:
(a) A summary of admitted facts and proposed stipulations;
(b) The issues is to be tried and resolved (i.e., for election protests, the alleged frauds or irregularities committed in the conduct of the election; for quo warranto proceedings, the ground for ineligibility or acts of disloyalty);
(c) The documents or exhibits to be presented;
(d) A manifestation indicating the use of the intent to use discovery procedures or referral to commissioners;
(e) The number and names of witnesses, their addresses, and the substance of their respective testimonies. The testimonies of witnesses shall be by affidavits, in question and answer form, which shall serve as their direct testimonies, subject to oral cross-examination;
(f) A manifestation of withdrawal of certain protested or counter protested precincts, if this is the case;
(g) The proposed number of revision committees and the names of proposes revisors and alternated revisors; and
(h) The procedure to be followed in case the election protest or counter protest seeks the revision or examination of ballots, or the verification or re-tabulation of election returns.
Section 5. Failure to file brief. - The failure to file the required brief or to provide the brief’s mandatory contests shall have the same effect as the failure to appear at the preliminary conference.
Section 6. Effect of failure to appear. – The failure of the protestant/petitioner or the duly authorized counsel to appear at the preliminary conference authorizes the court, as its own initiative, to dismiss the protest, or counter-protest or petition. The failure of the protestee/respondent or of the duly authorized counsel to appear at the preliminary conference may likewise have the effect provided under Section 4(c), Rule 4 of these Rules, i.e., the court may allow the protestant/petitioner to present evidence ex parte and render judgment based on the evidence presented.
Section 7. Preliminary conference order. – The court shall issue an order summarizing the matters taken up and the stipulations or agreements reached during the conference within three (3) days following the termination of the preliminary conference. The court shall commence, the starting date of which shall be within five (5) days from the termination of the preliminary conference.
REVISION OF BALLOTS
Section 1. Start of revision. – The revision of ballots shall commence on the date specified in the preliminary conference order.
Section 2. Revision committee; under the supervision of the court. – As many revision committees as may be necessary shall be constituted. Each revision committee shall be composed of a chairperson and two members, one of whom is designated by the protestant and the other by the protestee. The court shall designate the chairperson and a recorder from among its personnel. The parties shall also designate their respective substitute revisors.
The revision committee shall conduct the revision in the court premises or at such other place in the court may designate, in every case under its strict supervision.
The revisors shall discharge their duties with the highest degree of integrity, conducting the proceedings with the same dignity and discipline the court itself brings to the proceedings. They shall exercise extraordinary diligence and take the precautionary measures requires by this level of diligence to prevent loss, disappearance or impairment of the integrity of the ballots and the election documents, whether electronic or printed, and the misuse of the electronic election machines, devices and paraphernalia.
Section 3. Compensation of the revisors. - The court shall fix the compensation of the revisors at Eight Hundred Pesos (P800.00) per ballot box for the chairperson and Three Hundred Pesos (P300.00) per ballot box for each party revisor. The party revisors shall each be entitled to an additional per diem of Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) per day. The compensation for a recorder shall be Three Hundred Pesos (P300.00) per ballot box. This compensation shall be chargeable against the cash deposit as provided for under Section2, Rule 7 of these Rules.
Section 4. Continuous revisions. –
(a) Period for revision. – Revision shall be conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday, except on non-working holidays. The revisors may take fifteen-minute breaks during the revision.
(b) Revision to continue even if a party revisor is absent or late. – The revision shall bot be delayed or postponed by reason of the absence or tardiness of a party’s revisor or substitute revisor, as long as the chairperson and one party revisor are present. The court may at any time designate another chairperson if the regular chairperson fails for any reason to report.
(c) If the revisor of the protestee is absent or late. - If the revisor of the protestee is absent or late for thirty minutes and no alternate appears as a substitute, the revision shall nevertheless commence. The protestee shall be deemed to have waived the right to appear and to object to the revision of ballots made during his or her revisor’s absence or tardiness.
(d) If the revisor of the protestant or the revisors of both parties fail to appear. – If the protestant’s revisor or the revisors of both parties or their alternates fail to appear without justifiable reason within one hour after the scheduled start of the revision, the ballot boxes scheduled for revision that day and the corresponding ballot box keys in the possession of the chairperson, shall be returned to the court’s ballot box custodian, and the ballots shall no longer be revised, the parties are deemed to have waived their right to the revision for that day, and the chairperson shall state the facts of absence and waiver in the revision report.
Section 5. Prohibited access. – During the revision, no person other than the judge, the clerk of the court, the chairperson and the members of the revision committee, the parties and their duly authorized representatives shall have the access to the revision area.
Section 6. Conduct of revision. – The revision of the votes on the ballots shall be done manually and visually and through the use of appropriate PCOS machines, according to the procedure below:
(a) On the scheduled day of revision, the following, if needed, should be in the custody of the court:
(i)the ballot boxes containing the ballots in protested and counter protested precincts; and
(ii) the data storage devices and the PCOS machines used in the precincts concerned or any other device that can be used to authenticate or assure the genuineness of the ballots;
(b) The revision committee shall initially note, before anything else, the condition of the ballot box and its locks and locking mechanism, and record this condition in the revision report. Based on this observation, the revision committee must also determine whether the integrity of the ballot box has been preserved.
(c) The ballot box shall then be opened and the ballots taken out. The "valid" ballots shall first be counted, without regard to the votes obtained by the parties. This will be followed by the counting of the torn, unused stray and rejected ballots, as classified at the polling place.
(d) The votes appearing in the election returns copy for the ballot box shall then be recorded in the minutes.
(e) Prior to the actual revision, the revision committee must authenticate each and every ballot to make sure that it was the same ballots cast and fed to the PCOS machine during the voting. The authentication shall be through the use of PCOS machines actually used during the elections in the subject precinct, or by another device certified by the Commission to be capable of performing the desired authentication requirement through the use of the bar codes and the ultra-violet ray code detection mechanism.
(f) The recount shall only proceed after the revision committee, through its chairperson and members, has determined that the integrity of the ballots has been preserved.
(g) The revision committee shall thereafter proceed to look at the ballots and count the indicated votes for the contested position.
(h) In looking at the shades or marks used to register votes, the revision committee shall bear in mind that the will of the voters reflected as votes in the ballots shall as much as possible be given effect, setting technicalities aside. Furthermore, the votes are presumed to have been made by the voter and shall be so considered unless reasons exist to justify their rejection. However, marks or shades that are less than 50% of the oval shall not be considered as valid votes. Any issue as to whether a certain mark or shade is within the threshold shall be determined by using the PCOS machine, not by human determination.
(i) The rules on the appreciation of the ballots under Section211 of the Omnibus Election Code shall apply suppletorily when appropriate.
(j) There shall be a tally sheet in at least 5 copies, plus additional copies depending on the number of additional parties, that shall be used to tally the votes as they are counted through the use of taras and sticks.
(k) After all the ballots from one ballot box have been counted, the revision committee shall secure the contested ballots and complete the recount report for the precinct. Thereafter, it shall proceed to recount the votes from the ballots of the next precinct.
(l) In case of multiple revision committees, the recount shall be done simultaneously.
(m) In the event that the revision committee determines that the integrity of the ballots and the ballot box have not been preserved, as when proof of tampering or substitution exists, it shall proceed to instruct the printing of the picture image of the ballots stored in the data storage device for the precinct. The court shall provide a non-partisan technical person who shall conduct the necessary authentication process to ensure that the data or image stored is genuine and not a substitute. Only after this determination can the printed picture image be used for the recount,
Section 7. Preparation and submission of revision report. – The committee shall prepare and submit to the court a revision report per precinct stating the following:
(a) the precinct number;
(b) the date, the place and the time of revision;
(c) the votes of the parties per physical count;
(d) the condition and the serial numbers of the following:.
(i) ballot boxes;
(ii) self-locking security metal or plastic seals (inner and outer) and padlocks of the ballot boxes;
(iii) security envelopes containing the election returns; and
(iv) numbered paper seal of the envelopes;
(e) if required, the availability of and other circumstances attendant to the PCOS machines and other automated election devices and paraphernalia used in the revision;
(f) the votes of the parties per the ballot box copy of the election returns and per the tally sheet/board found inside the ballot box;
(g) the number of ballots objected to by the parties indicating therein the exhibit numbers;
(h) the grounds of objections;
(i) the number of stray ballots;
(j) the claims on ballots with their exhibit numbers; and
(k) the entries in the Minutes of Voting and Counting, particularly:
(i) the number of registered voters;
(ii) the number of voters who actually voted;
(iii) the number of official ballots, together with their serial numbers, used in the election;
(iv) the number if ballots actually used indicating the serial numbers of the ballots; and
(v) the unused ballots together with their serial numbers.
The revision forms shall be made available prior to the revision. The per-precinct revision report shall be signed and certified by the chairperson and by the parties’ revisors, and shall form part of the records of the case.
In addition to the per-precinct revision report, the revision committee shall also prepare and submit to the court, within three days from termination of the revision, a committee report summarizing the data, votes, ballot objections and claims, and significant observations made during the revision of ballots from the protested precincts and later from the counter-protested precincts, if so conducted based on the provisions of Section 10 below. Each party furnished with a copy of the committee report may submit its comments thereon within a non-extendible period of three (3) days from notice.
Section 8. Order of revision. – Revision of ballots shall start with those from the protested precincts , subject to the provisions of Section 10 thereof.
Section 9. Inquiry as to security markings and vital information relative to ballots and election documents. – When a revision of ballots is ordered, and for the guidance of the revisors, the court shall inquire about the security markings on the ballots and the security measures used in the election documents from the Chairperson of COMELEC who shall be obliged to indicate this markings, measures and other vital information that may aid the court in determining the authenticity of the ballots and election documents. The parties shall be notified of the results of this inquiry.
Section 10. Post-revision determination of the merit or legitimacy of the protest prior to revision of the counter-protest. – Immediately after the revision or examination of ballots, or the verification or re-tabulation of election returns in all protested precincts, the protestant shall be required to point to a number of precincts, corresponding to twenty percent (20%) of the total of the revised protested precincts, that will best attest to the votes recovered, ore that will best exemplify the fraud or irregularities pleaded in the protest. In the meanwhile, the revision or examination of the ballots, or the verification or re-tabulation of election returns in the counter-protested precincts, shall be suspended for a period not exceeding fifteen days to allow the court to preliminarily determine, through the appreciation of ballots and other submitted election documents, the merit of legitimacy of the protest based in the chosen twenty percent (20%) of the protested precincts.
Based on the results of this post-revision preliminary determination, the court may dismiss the protest without further proceedings if the validity of the grounds for the protest is no established by the evidence from the chosen twenty percent (20%) of the protested precincts; or proceed with the revision or examination if the ballots, or the verification or re-tabulation of election returns in the counter-protested precincts. In the latter case, the protestee shall be required to pay the cash deposit within a non-extendible period of three (3) days from notice.
Section 11. Continuation of the appreciation of ballots. - If the court decides not to dismiss the protest after the preliminary examination of the evidence from the chose twenty percent (20%) of the protested precincts, revision with respect to the remaining precincts shall proceed at the same time that the ballots or election documents from the counter-protested precincts are being revised. After completion of the revision of the protested precincts, the court shall proceed with the appreciation and revision of ballots from the counter-protested precincts.
Section 1. Motion f or technical examination; contents. – Except when the protest or counter-protest involves allegation of massive substitute voting, a party may move for the technical examination of the presented evidence within five (5) days after completion of the revision in the protest or counter-protest, specifying:
(a) The nature of the technical examination requested (e.g., fingerprint examination, etc.);
(b) The documents or machines/equipment to be subjected to technical examination;
(c) The objections made in the course of the revision of ballots which the movant intends to substantiate with the results of the technical examination; and
(d) The ballots covered by these objections.
Section 2. Technical examination; time limits. – The court may grant the motion for technical examination at its discretion and under the conditions it may impose. If the motion is granted, the technical examination shall start within five (5) days from notice to both parties, and shall be completed within the period specified by the court, in no case to exceed to twenty successive working days, unless the court grants an extension based on exceptionally meritorious ground. A party may attend the technical examination either personally or through a representative. However the technical examination shall proceed with or without the attendance of a party, provided that the due notice has been given.
The expenses for technical examination shall be for the account of the party requesting the examination. The technical examination shall be under the supervision of the clerk of court.
Section 3. Experts; who shall provide. – Experts necessary for the conduct of technical examination shall be provided by the party requesting the same and may come from the National Bureau of Investigation, the PNP Crime Laboratory, the Commission on Elections, the Department of Science and Technology, or experts from the private sector. The other party may secure the services of his or her own expert who may only observe, not interfere with, the examination conducted by the movant’s experts.
PHOTOCOPYING OF BALLOTS
Section 1. Photocopying simultaneous with revision. – On the motion of a party, the court may allow the photocopying of ballots and election documents, upon such terms and conditions as the court may impose. The photocopying, if allowed, must start at the commencement of revision and, as far as practicable, must be completed simultaneously with the termination of revision.
Section 2. Where conducted; parties to provide own photocopying units. – Photocopying shall be done within the premises of the court, near the revision area, and shall be under the supervision of the clerk of court. The requesting party shall provide an efficient photocopying unit and shall bear all attendant expenses.
Section 3. Copying or reproduction of electronic data. – On the motion of a party, the court may allow the reproduction of electronic data that are submitted as evidence, or that are within the custody and control of the COMELEC under the conditions and safeguards the COMELEC shall require. The costs and expenses shall be for the account of the party seeking the reproduction.
PRESENTATION OF EVIDENCE
Section 1. Presentation and reception of evidence; order of hearing. – If at the preliminary conference the parties have agreed on issues that do not involve the examination and appreciation of ballots or other election documents (e.g., vote-buying, fraud, terrorism or violence), the reception of evidence on the issues, including the testimonies of witnesses, shall be done simultaneously with the revision of ballots that may be required.
The reception of evidence on all other matters or issues incidental to or involving the ballots and related election documents shall be made upon completion of (a) the revision of ballots or election documents; or (b) the technical examination, if allowed by the court under the provisions of Rule 11 of these Rules.
Reception of evidence shall be made in accordance with the following order of hearing:
(a) The protestant or petitioner shall present evidence in support of the protest or petition;
(b) The protestee or respondent shall then adduce evidence in support of the defense, counterclaim or counter-protest, if any;
(c) The parties may then respectively offer rebuttal evidence only, unless the court for good reasons and in the furtherance of justice, permits them to offer evidence on their original case; and
(d) No sur-rebuttal evidence shall be allowed.
In offering testimonial evidence, the party shall require the proposed witness to execute an affidavit which shall be considered as the witness’ direct testimony, subject to the right of the adverse party to object to its inadmissible portions and to orally cross-examine the witness. The affidavit shall be based on personal knowledge, shall set forth facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify on the stated matters. The affidavit shall be in question and answer form, and shall be submitted to the court and served on the adverse party at least three (3) days before the hearing.
Failure to submit the affidavit of witness within the specified time shall constitute a waiver of the party’s right to present testimonial evidence.
The one-day-cross-examination-of witness rule – i.e., that a witness has to be fully cross-examined on one day – shall strictly be followed, subject to the court’s discretion to extend the cross-examination for justifiable reasons.
The revision reports, as well as the ballots objected to or claimed by the parties and the submitted electronic evidence, shall automatically form part of court records and may be adopted by the other parties as their evidence.
Section 2. Offer of evidence. – The court shall not consider any evidence that has not been formally offered. Offer of evidence shall be done orally on the last day of hearing allowed for each party after the presentation of the party’s last witness. The opposing party shall be required to immediately interpose objections to the offer. The court shall rule on the offer of evidence in open court. However, the court may, at its discretion, allow the party to make an offer of evidence in writing, which shall be submitted within three days from notice of the court’s order. If the court rejects any evidence offered, the party may make a tender of the excluded evidence.
Section 3. Reception of evidence continuous. – Reception of evidence, once commenced, shall continue from day to day, as far as practicable, until fully completed or terminated at the court’s order. In no case shall the entire period for reception of evidence exceed ten successive days for each party, from the first day reception of evidence starts, unless otherwise authorized by the Supreme Court.
Section 4. Adjournments and postponements. – No motion for postponement shall be allowed, except for clearly meritorious reasons. In no case shall the resetting of hearings have an interval exceeding three calendar days, nor shall the postponements of hearing granted to each party exceed three (3). The filing of dilatory pleadings or motions shall constitute direct contempt of court and shall be punished accordingly.
Section 5. Burden of proof. – Burden of proof is the duty of a party to present evidence of the facts in issue to establish his or her claim or defense.
Section 6. Disputable presumptions. – The following presumptions are considered as established facts, unless contradicted and overcome by other evidence:
(a) On the election procedure:
(i) The election of candidates was held on the date and at the time set and in the polling place determined by the Commission on Elections;
(ii) The Boards of Election Inspectors were duly constituted and organized;
(iii) Political parties and candidates were duly represented by pollwatchers;
(iv) Pollwatchers were able to perform their functions;
(v) The Minutes of Voting and Counting contains all the incidents that transpired before the Board of Election Inspectors; and
(vi) The Audit Log contains the list of all activities performed by the PCOS machines from the time it was powered on until it was turned off.
(b) On election paraphernalia:
(i) Ballots and election returns that bear the security markings and features prescribed by the Commission on Elections are genuine;
(ii) The data and information supplied by the members of the Boards of Election Inspectors in the accountable forms are true and correct; and
(iii) The allocation, packing and distribution of election documents or paraphernalia were properly and timely done;
(iv) The PCOS and consolidation machines and the data storage devices are all in order, and the data generated reflect the activities entered in these electronic machines and devices.
(c) On appreciation of ballots:
(i) A ballot with appropriate security markings is valid;
(ii) The ballot reflects the intent of the voter;
(iii) The ballot was properly accomplished;
(iv) A voter personally prepared one ballot, except in the case of assistors; and
(v) The exercise of one’s right to vote was voluntary and free.
Section 7. Submission of memoranda. – The court may allow the parties to submit their respective memoranda within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from the verbal ruling of the court on the last offer of exhibits; or, if the offer was made in writing, within ten (10) days from receipt of the written ruling of the court. No supplemental, reply or rebuttal memorandum shall be allowed.
D E C I S I O N
Section 1. Rendition of decision. – The court shall decide the election contest within thirty (30) days from the date the case is submitted for decision, in no case beyond six (6) months after its filing, unless the Supreme Court authorizes an extension in writing. Failure to comply with this timeline shall be considered a serious offense and shall be a ground for disciplinary action against the judge. In addition, six (6) months after the submission of the case for decision, the judge shall be relieved of all duties and functions except to decide the election case.
An election protest is deemed submitted for decision after completion of the reception of evidence or, if the parties were allowed to submit memoranda, upon submission of their memoranda or the expiration of the period for their filing, whichever is earlier. In an election protest, the winner shall be the candidate who obtained the plurality of the valid votes cast.
Section 2. Form of decision in election protests. – After the termination of the revision of ballots and before rendering its decision in an election protest that involved a revision, the court shall examine and appreciate the original ballots. The court, in its appreciation of the ballots and in ruling on the parties’ claims and objections, shall observe the following rules:
(a) On marked ballots – The court must specify and point to the marking clearly indicating the voter’s intent to identify the ballot.
(b) On fake or spurious ballots, election document, machine, device or paraphernalia – The court must specify the COMELEC security markings or features that are not found in the ballot, election documents, machine, device or paraphernalia considered fake or spurious, or the operation or aspects of the machine, device or paraphernalia that resulted in fake or spurious results;
(c) On stray ballots – The court must specify and state in detail why the ballots are considered stray;
(d) On claimed ballots – The court must specify the exact basis for admitting claimed votes or crediting these to either party.
Section 3. Several judgments. – In a protest or petition against several protestees or respondents, the court may, when a several judgment is proper, render judgment against one or more of them, leaving the protest or petition to proceed against the others.
Section 4. Promulgation of decision. – The decision signed by the presiding judge shall be promulgated by reading its dispositive portion in open court on a date set with notice to the parties and filing the decision with the clerk of court; or by the delivery of a copy of the signed decision to the clerk of court, who shall forthwith indicate the date of rendition and cause true copies thereof to be served, personally or by registered mail, on the counsels or on the parties if they are not represented by counsel.
Section 5. Finality of decision. – The court’s promulgated decision shall become final and executory five (5) days after receipt of notice by the parties if no appeal is taken.
Section 6. Entry of judgment. – If no appeal is filed within the time provided in these Rules, the judgment shall be entered by the clerk in the book of entries of judgments. The date of finality of the judgment shall be the date of its entry. The record shall contain the dispositive part of the judgment and shall be signed by the clerk, with a certificate that the judgment has become final and executory.
Section 7. Notice of final decision. – As soon as the decision becomes final, the clerk of court shall send notices to the COMELEC, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Commission on Audit.
Section 8. Appeal. – An aggrieved party may appeal the decision to the COMELEC within five (5) days after promulgation, by filing a notice of appeal with the court that rendered the decision, with copy served on the adverse counsel or on the adverse party who is not represented by counsel.
Section 9. Appeal fee. – The appellant in an election contest shall pay to the court that rendered the decision an appeal fee of One Thousand Pesos (
P1,000.00), simultaneously with the filing of the notice of appeal.
Section 10. Immediate transmittal of records of the case. – The clerk of court shall, within fifteen (15) days from the filing of the notice of appeal, transmit to the Electoral Contests Adjudication Department, COMELEC, the complete records of the case, together with all the evidence, including the original and three copies of the transcript of stenographic notes of the proceedings.
Section 11. Execution pending appeal. – On motion of the prevailing party with notice to the adverse party, the court, at its discretion and while still in possession of the original records, may order the execution of its decision before the expiration of the period to appeal, subject to the following rules:
(a) Execution pending appeal shall not issue except upon motion and hearing with prior notice of the motion of at least three (3) days to the adverse party. The motion for execution pending appeal must be supported by good reasons cited and stated by the court in a special order. These reasons must:
(i) constitute superior circumstances demanding urgency that would outweigh the injury or damage, should the losing party secure a reversal of the judgment on appeal; and
(ii) manifest, in the decision sought to be executed, that the defeat of the protestee or the victory of the protestant has been clearly established.
(b) If the court grants an execution pending appeal, an aggrieved party shall have twenty working days from notice of the special order within which to secure a restraining order or status quo order from the Supreme Court or the COMELEC. The corresponding writ of execution shall issue after twenty (20) days if no restraining order or status quo order is issued. During the twenty (20)-day period, the issuance of a writ of execution pending appeal shall be stayed.
Section 12. Jurisdiction of the Commission on Elections in certiorari cases. – The COMELEC has the authority to issue the extraordinary writs of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus only in aid of its appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the courts in election cases involving elective municipal officials.
Section 13. Preferential disposition of election contests. – The courts shall give preference to election contests over all other cases, except petitions for habeas corpus and for the writs of amparo and habeas data.
COSTS, DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES
Section 1. Costs; when allowed. – Costs shall be allowed to the prevailing party as a matter of course. The court shall have the power, for special reasons, to apportion the costs, as may be equitable. The court may render judgment for costs if a protest, a counter-protest or a petition for quo warranto is dismissed. When a protest, a counter-protest or a petition for quo warranto is found to be frivolous, double or treble costs may be imposed on the protestant, the counter-protestant or the petitioner.
Section 2. Damages and attorney’s fees. – In all election contests, the court may adjudicate damages and attorney’s fees as it may deem just and as established by the evidence, if the aggrieved party has included these claims in the pleadings.
Section 1. Original of an electronic document or data. – An electronic document or data shall be regarded as the equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence Rule if it is a printout or an output readable by sight or other means and shown to reflect the data accurately.
Section 2. Copies as equivalent of the originals. – When a document is in two or more copies executed at or about the same time with identical contents, or is a counterpart produced by the same impression as the original, or from the same matrix, or by mechanical or electronic re-recording, or by chemical reproduction, or by other equivalent techniques that accurately reproduce the original, such copies or duplicates shall be regarded as the equivalent of the original.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, copies or duplicates shall not be admissible to the same extent as the original if:
a) a genuine question is raised as to the authenticity of the original; or
b) under the circumstances, it would be unjust or inequitable to admit the copy in lieu of the original.
Section 3. Affidavit as evidence. – All matters relating to the admissibility and evidentiary weight of an electronic document may be established by an affidavit stating facts of direct personal knowledge of the affiant or based on authentic records. The affidavit must affirmatively show the competence of the affiant to testify on the matters contained therein. The affiant shall be made to affirm the contents of the affidavit in open session and may be cross-examined as a matter of right by the adverse party.
AUTHENTICATION OF ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS AND DATA
Section 1. Burden of proving authenticity. – The person seeking to introduce an electronic document in an election protest has the burden of proving its authenticity in the manner provided in this Rule.
Section 2. Manner of authentication. – Before any electronic document or data offered as authentic is received in evidence, its authenticity must be proved by any of the following means:
a) By evidence that it has been digitally signed by the person purported to have signed it. "Digitally signed" refers to an electronic document or electronic data message bearing a digital signature verified by the public key listed in a certificate.
b) By evidence that other appropriate security procedures or devices for authentication of electronic documents authorized by the Supreme Court or by law for the authentication of electronic documents were applied to the document; or
c) By other evidence showing its integrity and reliability to the satisfaction of the judge.
Section 3. The Rules on Electronic Evidence. – The Rules on Electronic Evidence shall apply to evidentiary aspects of pleadings, practice and procedure in election contests not otherwise specifically provided for in these Rules.
Section 1. Repealing clause. – For municipal election contests, these rules supersede A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC (The Rules of Procedure In Election Contests Before The Courts Involving Municipal and Barangay Officials) which became effective on May 15, 2007. All other rules, resolutions, regulations or circulars of the Supreme Court or parts thereof that are inconsistent with any provision of these Rules are hereby deemed repealed or modified accordingly.
Section 2. Effectivity clause. These Rules shall take effect fifteen (15) days after their publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.
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