• SC affirms Comelec chief’s power to name poll officers

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    THE Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the power of the Commission on Elections chairman to appoint election officers under the poll body.

    In a full court ruling, the high tribunal dismissed the petition filed in 2013 by lawyer Teofilo Gala Tamolang, Jr., who had applied for the position of Election Officer III in Santiago City, Isabela but whose application was denied by then Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes.

    Impleaded in the case were Brillantes, in his capacity as the appointing authority of the commission at the time, and Comelec lawyers Adolfo Ibanez, Ederlino Tabilas, Anthony Gerbee Cortez, and Manuel Castillo.

    “After a judicious review of the records of the case, the court resolves to deny the instant petition and affirm the decision dated September 30, 2013 and the order dated July 3, 2014 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 1 for failure of Tamolang to show that the RTC committed reversible error in dismissing his petition for certiorari,” the high court held.

    Based on case records, Tamolang applied for the position but was rejected by Brillantes, prompting him to seek redress before the RTC until the case reached the high tribunal.

    In its November 10, 2015 ruling, promulgated by Clerk of Court Felipa Anama, the SC denied Tamolang’s plea.

    “As aptly pointed out by the RTC, the power to appoint is essentially a matter of discretion and the judgment of the appointing authority should not be interfered with in the absence of showing that there was grave abuse of discretion, such as the case at hand where, other than petitioner’s self-serving and unsubstantiated allegations that his application was not considered despite his eligibility and qualification for the position…there was no showing that the respondents acted capriciously,” the SC pointed out.

    “Moreover, the certification on petitioner’s eligibility does not amount to an appointment, considering that the power of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to approve and disapprove appointments does not include the authority to make the appointment itself.”

    The SC added that the RTC “correctly ruled that the same is unavailing following the time-honored rule that the remedy of mandamus cannot be used to direct the manner or the particular way by which the judgment and discretion are to be exercised, such as the decision on who to appoint to a public office, as in this case.”

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