HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., JOEL R. BUTUYAN, ROMEL R. BAGARES, ALLAN JONES F. LARDIZABAL, GILBERT T. ANDRES, IMMACULADA D. GARCIA, ERLINDA T. MERCADO, FRANCISCO A. ALCUAZ, MA. AZUCENA P. MACEDA, and ALVIN A. PETERS Vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Represented by HON. CHAIRMAN JOSE MELO, COMELEC SPECIAL BIDS and AWARDS COMMITTEE, represented by its CHAIRMAN HON. FERDINAND RAFANAN, DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET and MANAGEMENT, represented by HON. ROLANDO ANDAYA, TOTAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT CORPORATION and SMARTMATIC INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, G.R. No. 188456, FEBRUARY 10, 2010; with accompanying case: PETE QUIRINO-QUADRA vs. SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, G.R. No. 188456, FEBRUARY 10, 2010.
Re: Pars. (f) and (g), Section 6 of Republic Act No. (RA) 8436, or the Election Modernization Act, as amended by RA 9369.
Decretal : DECISION, dated September 10, 2009, denying the petitions.
“x x x.
The Comelec is an independent constitutional body with a distinct and pivotal role in our scheme of government. In the discharge of its awesome functions as overseer of fair elections, administrator and lead implementor of laws relative to the conduct of elections, it should not be stymied with restrictions that would perhaps be justified in the case of an organization of lesser responsibility.It should be afforded ample elbow room and enough wherewithal in devising means and initiatives that would enable it to accomplish the great objective for which it was created to promote free, orderly, honest and peaceful elections. This is as it should be for, too often, Comelec has to make decisions under difficult conditions to address unforeseen events to preserve the integrity of the election and in the process the voice of the people. Thus, in the past, the Court has steered away from interfering with the Comelecs exercise of its power which, by law and by the nature of its office properly pertain to it. Absent, therefore, a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion on Comelecs part, as here, the Court should refrain from utilizing the corrective hand of certiorari to review, let alone nullify, the acts of that body. This gem, while not on all fours with, is lifted from, the Courts holding in an old but oft-cited case:
x x x We may not agree fully with [the Comelecs] choice of means, but unless these are clearly illegal or constitute gross abuse of discretion, this court should not interfere. Politics is a practical matter, and political questions must be dealt with realisticallynot from the standpoint of pure theory [or speculation]. x x x
x x x x
There are no ready-made formulas for solving public problems. Time and experience are necessary to evolve patterns that will serve the ends of good government. In the matter of the administration of the laws relative to the conduct of elections, x x x we must not by any excessive zeal take away from the [Comelec] the initiative which by constitutional and legal mandates properly belongs to it. Due regard to the independent character of the Commission x x x requires that the power of this court to review the acts of that body should, as a general proposition, be used sparingly, but firmly in appropriate cases. x x x
The Court, however, will not indulge in the presumption that nothing would go wrong, that a successful automation election unmarred by fraud, violence, and like irregularities would be the order of the moment on May 10, 2010. Neither will it guarantee, as it cannot guarantee, the effectiveness of the voting machines and the integrity of the counting and consolidation software embedded in them. That task belongs at the first instance to Comelec, as part of its mandate to ensure clean and peaceful elections. This independent constitutional commission, it is true, possesses extraordinary powers and enjoys a considerable latitude in the discharge of its functions. The road, however, towards successful 2010 automation elections would certainly be rough and bumpy. The Comelec is laboring under very tight timelines. It would accordingly need the help of all advocates of orderly and honest elections, of all men and women of goodwill, to smoothen the way and assist Comelec personnel address the fears expressed about the integrity of the system. Like anyone else, the Court would like and wish automated elections to succeed, credibly.
X x x.”