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G.R. No.

157013

July 10, 2003

ATTY. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, HON. ALBERTO ROMULO, in his official capacity as Executive
Secretary, and HON. EMILIA T. BONCODIN, Secretary of the Department of Budget and
Management, respondents.

FACTS:
Romulo B. Macalintal, member of the Philippine Bar, filed for a petition
for certiorari and prohibition seeking a declaration that certain provisions of
Republic Act 9189 (The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003) are unconstitutional. RA
9189 Section 5 (d) allows the registration of voters who are immigrants or permanent
residents in other countries by executing an affidavit expressing their intention to return to
the Philippines. The petitioner questioned the validity of this provision as it violates the
requirement in Section 1 of Article V of the Constitution.
ISSUE:
1. WON Sec 5 (d) of RA 9189 violates the residency requirement in Sec 1 Art V of the
Constitution?
2. WON Sec 18.5 of RA 9189 violates the constitutional mandate under Sec 4 Art VII of
the Constitution that the winning candidates shall be proclaimed as winners by
Congress?
3. WON Congress may exercise the power to review, revise, amend and approve the
implementing Rules and Regulations that the COMELEC promulgates without violating
the independence of the COMELEC under Sec 1, Art IX-A of the Constitution through
the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee under Sec 25 of RA 9189?
RULING: Congress promulgated RA 9189 to allow Filipinos who are living abroad to exercise
the privilege to vote through absentee voting. Hence, Sec 5 (d) of RA 9189 allows an
immigrant and permanent resident abroad to register as a voter for as long as he/she
executes an affidavit to show that he/she has not abandoned his domicile in pursuance of
the constitutional intent expressed in Sections 1 and 2 of Article V that "all citizens of the
Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law" must be entitled to exercise the right of
suffrage and, that Congress must establish a system for absentee voting; for otherwise, if
actual, physical residence in the Philippines is required, there is no sense for the framers of
the Constitution to mandate Congress to establish a system for absentee voting.
Although there is a possibility that the Filipino will not return after he has exercised his right
to vote, votes cast should not be invalidated because he was qualified to vote on the date of
the election. Hence, the court ruled that the questioned law is constitutional as it is the
intent of Congress to grant Filipino immigrants and permanent residents abroad the right to
exercise the right of suffrage under Sec 1 Article V of the Constitution.
On the second issue, the canvassing of votes and the proclamation of the winning
candidates for President and Vice President shall remain in the hands of Congress as its duty
and power under Sec 4 of Article VII of the Constitution. COMELEC, on the other hand, has
the authority to proclaim the winning candidates only for Senators and Party list
representatives.

On the third issue, Congress did not have the power to approve, review, amend and revise
the implementing Rules and Regulations for RA 9189 as it is the discretion of COMELEC to do
so under the Constitution.