CASE 2013-0005: MAYOR EMMANUEL L. MALIKSI VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND HOMER T. SAQUILA (G.R. NO. 203302, 12, MARCH 2013, CARPIO, J.) SUBJECT/S: WHEN IS THERE DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS; PICTURE IMAGES OF THE BALLOTS AS OFFICIAL BALLOTS; BALLOT IMAGES NOT SECONDARY EVIDENCE (BRIEF TITLE: MALIKSI VS. COMELEC ET AL.)
WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition. We AFFIRM the Resolution promulgated on 14 September 2012 by the Commission on Elections En Bane which affirmed the 15 August 2012 Resolution of the Commission on Elections First Division declaring HOMER T. SAQUILA Y AN as the duly-elected Municipal Mayor of Imus, Cavite. We LIFT the temporary restraining order issued on 11 October 2012. This decision is IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY considering that the remainder of Saquilayan’ s term of office is only less than five ( 5) months.
There is no denial of due process where there is opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings.29 It is settled that “opportunity to be heard” does not only mean oral arguments in court but also written arguments through pleadings.30 Thus, the fact that a party was heard on his motion for reconsideration negates any violation of the right to due process.31 The Court has ruled that denial of due process cannot be invoked where a party was given the chance to be heard on his motion for reconsideration.”
In the recent consolidated cases of Vinzons-Chato v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Panotes and Panotes v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Vinzons-Chato,33 the Court ruled that “the picture images of the ballots, as scanned and recorded by the PCOS, are likewise ‘official ballots’ that faithfully capture in electronic form the votes cast by the voter, as defined by Section 2 (3) of R.A. No. 9369.”34 The Court declared that the printouts of the ballot images in the CF cards “are the functional equivalent of the paper ballots filled out by the voters and, thus, may be used for purposes of revision of votes in an electoral protest.” In short, both the ballot images in the CF cards and the printouts of such images have the same evidentiary value as the official physical ballots filled up by the voters.
In Vinzons-Chato and Panotes, the Court explained in ength:
Section 2 (3) of R.A. No. 9369 defines “official ballot” where AES is utilized as the “paper ballot, whether printed or generated by the technologyapplied, that faithfully captures or represents the votes cast by a voter recorded or to be recorded in electronic form.”
The ballot images, which are digital, are electronically generated and written in the CF cards when the ballots are fed into the PCOS machine. The ballot images are the counterparts produced by electronic recording which accurately reproduce the original, and thus are the equivalent of the original. As pointed out by the COMELEC, “[t]he digital images of the physical ballots are electronically and instantaneously generated by the PCOS machines once the physical ballots are fed into and read by the machines.”37 Hence, the ballot images are not secondary evidence. The official physical ballots and the ballot images in the CF cards are both original documents. The ballot images in the CF cards have the same evidentiary weight as the official physical ballots.
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