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[ GR No. L-9688, Jan 19, 1956 ]



98 Phil. 194

[ G.R. No. L-9688, January 19, 1956 ]



REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Rafael  J. Castro petitioned for a writ of prohibition to restrain the respondent Acting Provincial Governor of Negros Occidental, Valeriano M. Gatuslao, from ousting and removing petitioner as Mayor of Manapla, in said province, and from replacing  him with Vicente Delta in said post; We issued preliminary injunction on September 23, 1955. The factual background of the case is as follows:  Petitioner was the qualified vice-mayor  of the municipality of Manapla,  and was acting as such when the petition  was filed and  prior thereto.  On September 8,  1955,  he  filed a certificate  of candidacy for the same  position of vice-mayor that he was. holding.   The next day, September 9, the municipal mayor, Daniel  Gustilo, filed his own certificate  of  candidacy for the office  of Provincial  board member.  On September 16,  the  respondent Gatuslao,  in his capacity  of Acting Governor of Negros Occidental, in which province  lay the municipality of Manapla,  issued Executive Order No. 8,  declaring that under section  27 of Republic Act No. 180, Mayor Gustilo was considered to have  resigned the mayoralty of Manapla, because on September 9 he  had become a candidate for another position, and on the same date petitioner Vice-Mayor had, by operation of law, become automatically Mayor of  Manapla; that as petitioner had filed his certificate of candidacy for Vice-Mayor, he had filed his  candidacy for an office other than the one petitioner  was  actually holding; that,  therefore, petitioner had to  be considered  "resigned as Municipal Mayor, thereby  creating permanent vacancies  in the office of mayor and vice-mayor of Manapla"; and finally, required petitioner to  surrender the position to one Attorney Vicente Delfin, appointed by  respondent Gatuslao to be Municipal Mayor of  Manapla.

The issue therefore is whether a vice-mayor who had filed  a certificate of candidacy for reelection  to the same post,  and who on the next day became Mayor, due to vacancy in the  mayoralty, comes within the sphere of action of section 27 of Republic Act No. 180, reading as follows:
"Any  elective provincial, municipal, or city official running for an office, other than the one which he is  actually holding, shall be considered resigned from his office from the moment of the filing of his certificate of candidacy."
We rule that  section 27  of the Election Law (R.  A. No. 180) does not apply to the petitioner's  case.  The last Words of said section, "shall be considered resigned from the moment  of  the filing of his certificate of candidacy", indicates  that the moment of such filing  is  the point of time  to be referred to  for the operation and application of the statute, and for  the  determination  of  its essential prerequisite,  to  wit, that the official involved  shall file his candidacy for an office other than that which he is actually holding.  The law nowhere mentions or refers to positions that the candidate might hold either before or after the filing of the certificate of candidacy.

What office  was petitioner Castro actually  holding  on September 8, 1955, when he filed his  certificate of  candidacy? Vice-Mayor of Manapla.  For what office did  he run and file his certificate of candidacy?  For Vice-Mayor of Manapla. Clearly, then,  he  was  a candidate for  a position that he was actually holding at the time he filed his certificate of candidacy, for "actually" necessarily refers to that particular moment; hence, he  should not  be considered resigned or deemed to have forfeited his post. Deprivation of  office without fault of the holder is not to be lightly presumed nor extended by implication.

That the petitioner came later to hold another office by operation  of law, does not alter the case.  The wording of the law plainly indicates that only the date of filing of the certificate of candidacy should be taken into account. The law does not make the forfeiture dependent upon future contingencies, unforeseen and unforeseeable, since the vacating is expressly  made effective as of the moment of  the filing of the  certificate of candidacy, and there nothing to show that the forfeiture is to operate retroactively The statute does not decree that an elective municipal official must be considered resigned if he runs for  an office other than the one held by  him at or subsequently  to the filing of his certificate of  candidacy; neither does  it  declare that he must vacate if he runs for an office  other than the one actually held by him at anytime before the day of the election.

Since the law did not divest the petitioner Castro of his position of Vice-Mayor, he was entitled to  'the mayoralty of Manapla when that post became vacant the next day; and as his assumption of that  office did not make herein petitioner hold a post different from that for which  he became a candidate at the time his certificate of candidacy was filed, he did not forfeit the office of Mayor; therefore the respondent could not legally appoint another mayor for Municipality of  Manapla.  Petitioner's case  becomes the more meritorious when it is considered that he was elevated from Vice-Mayor to Mayor by operation of  law and not by his  own will.

The  writ of prohibition  is granted as prayed  for, and the writ  of preliminary injunction  heretofore  issued is made permanent.  Costs against the respondent.  So ordered.

ParĂ¡s, C. J., Padilla,  Montemayor, Reyes,  A.,  Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, and Endencia, JJ., concur.