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[ GR No. 8069, Oct 17, 1912 ]



23 Phil. 238

[ G. R. No. 8069, October 17, 1912 ]




This is an original action instituted in this court wherein the  petitioner prays that a writ of  certiorari issue to the judge  of the Court of First Instance of the Province of Cavite, directing him to certify to this court a transcript of the record of the proceedings had in that court on a certain election contest, hereinafter set forth.

In answer to the order to show cause why the writ should not issue, respondents allege that the  allegations in the petition do not constitute a cause of action for the reason  that the respondent judge had jurisdiction to determine all the questions involved in the election contest which forms the basis of this action.  The case has been well presented by able counsel on both  sides, and  the  court is fully  advised upon the issues involved.

The petitioner alleges that the respondent judge exceeded his jurisdiction in the course of that election contest in that he declared that no one had been legally elected president of the  municipality of Imus  at the general election  held in that town on June 4, 1912, and the petitioner prays  that the judgment thus rendered and all subsequent proceedings based thereon be  declared  null and void for lack of jurisdiction.  A copy of all of the proceedings which are necessary for a clear understanding  of the questions presented is attached to the petition and forms a part thereof.

The admitted facts are these: On June 4, 1912, a general election was held in the town of Imus, Province of Cavite, to fill the  office of municipal  president.  The  petitioner, Felipe  Topacio,  and the respondent,  Maximo Abad,  were opposing candidates for that office.  Topacio received 430 votes, and Abad  281.  Abad contested the election upon the sole ground that Topacio was ineligible in that he was re-elected the second time to the office of municipal president on June 4, 1912, without the four years required by Act No. 2045 having intervened.

There is now  no question and never has been about the correctness of the method of casting and counting the votes. The only question in this case which it is necessary for us to determine is  whether  or not the respondent  judge had jurisdiction, under the provisions of section 27 of the Election Law, as amended by Act No.  2170, to  declare that no one was legally elected president of Imus on June 4, 1912. In other words, have the Courts  of First  Instance jurisdiction, under the above provisions of law, to determine the eligibility  of candidates for office? It  is admitted by all that the contest  under  consideration was instituted in the Court of First Instance of Cavite under those provisions and that the  only  question raised  or  which could have  been raised by the pleadings in the proceedings in the court below was whether or not  Topacio was eligible to be elected and to  hold the office of municipal president.  Section 27 of Act No. 1582 as  originally enacted  reads: 

"Sec. 27. Election contests. - The Assembly shall be the judge of  the  elections, returns, and  qualifications of its members.  Contests  in  all elections for the determination of which  provision has not  been made otherwise shall be heard by the Court  of  First Instance having  jurisdiction in the judicial district in which the election  was held, upon motion by any  candidate voted for at  such  election, which motion must be made within two weeks after the election, and such  court shall have exclusive and final jurisdiction and shall forthwith cause the registry lists  and all ballots used at such election to be brought before it and examined, and to appoint the necessary officers therefor and to fix their compensation, which shall  be payable in the first instance out of the provincial treasury,  and to issue its mandamus  directed to the boards of canvassers to correct its canvass in accordance with the facts  as  found.   If in any case the court  shall determine that no person was lawfully elected it shall forthwith so certify to the Governor-General, who shall order a special election to fill the office or offices in question as hereinbefore provided.

"Before the  court shall entertain any such  motion the party making it shall give a bond in an amount to be fixed by the court with two sureties satisfactory to it, conditioned that he  will pay  all expenses and costs incident to such motion, or shall deposit cash in court  in lieu of such bond. If the party paying such expenses and costs shall be successful  they  shall be taxed by the court and entered  and be collectible as a judgment against the  defeated party. 

"All proceedings, under this section  shall  be upon  motion with notice of  not to exceed twenty days to all candidates voted for and  not upon pleadings or  by action, and shall be heard and determined by the court in the judicial district in which the election was held regardless of whether said court be at the time holding a regular or stated term.   In such proceedings the registry list as finally corrected by the board of inspectors shall be conclusive as to who was entitled to vote at such  election. 

"The clerk of the court in which any such contest is instituted shall give immediate notice of its  institution and also of  the determination thereof to the Executive Secretary."

As amended  by Act No. 2170, the same section provides:

"Sec. 27. Election contests. - The Assembly shall be the judge of the elections, returns,  and  qualifications of its members.  The time for the filing of the contests, the notification thereof, and the expenses, costs and bonds shall be fixed by resolution of the Assembly which shall be effective until repealed.   Contests in all elections for the determination of which provision has not been made  otherwise shall be heard by the Court of First Instance having jurisdiction in the judicial district in which  the  election was held, upon motion by any candidate voted for at such election.  The contests shall  be filed with the  court within two weeks after the  election  and shall be decided by the  same as soon as possible after  the hearing of the contest.  Such court shall  have exclusive and final jurisdiction,  except as hereinafter provided, and shall forthwith cause the registry lists and all ballots  used at such election to be brought before it and examined, and to appoint the  necessary officers therefor and to fix their compensation, which shall be payable in the first instance out of the provincial treasury, and to  issue its mandamus directed to the board of canvassers to correct its canvass in accordance with the facts as found. If  in any case the  court shall determine that no person was lawfully elected it shall forthwith so certify to the Governor-General who shall "order a special election to fill the office or offices  in  question as hereinbefore provided: Provided, however,  That  an  appeal  may  be taken to the Supreme  Court,  within ten days, from any final decision rendered by  the Court of  First Instance on contests of elections for provincial governors, for the review, amendment, repeal, or confirmation of such decision, and the procedure thereon shall be the same as in  a criminal cause.

"Before the court shall entertain any  such motion or admit an appeal, the  party making the motion or  filing the appeal shall give bond in an amount fixed by the court with two sureties satisfactory to it, conditioned that he will pay all  expenses  and costs  incident to such motion or appeal, or shall deposit cash in court in lieu of such bond.  If the party paying such expenses and  costs shall be successful they shall be taxed by the court and entered  and be collectible as a judgment against the defeated party.

"All proceedings under  this section shall be upon motion with notice of not to exceed twenty days to all candidates voted for and not upon pleadings or by action, and shall be heard and determined by the court in the judicial district in which the election was  held regardless  of whether  said     court be at the time holding a  regular or stated term. In such proceedings the registry list as finally corrected by the board of inspectors shall be conclusive as  to  who was entitled to vote at such election.

"The clerk of the  court in  which  any such contest is instituted shall  give  immediate  notice of its institution and also of the determination thereof to the Executive Secretary."

It will be noted that the only changes made in the section as amended are  (1)  the admonition  to the courts to decide the election contests as soon as possible, and  (2) that the jurisdiction of Courts  of First Instance is not now final and conclusive in such contests as to provincial governors. In all other essential respects, the section remains the same. Consequently, if the courts did  not have jurisdiction under the original section to determine, in election contests, the question of the eligibility  or legal qualifications of candidates, the amendment does not confer upon them that jurisdictional power.  The construction placed upon the original section by this court is perfectly applicable to the  new.

The method provided in the above-quoted section for the determination of election contests is purely a statutory one. The proceedings are not  ordinary suits.   The statute expressly declares that the "proceedings" shall not be "upon pleadings or by  action."   This statute was especially enacted to give the Courts of First Instance the power to try contested election cases and it defines the powers of the court and the rules of procedure  in the trial thereof.   The statute prescribes a special mode of procedure and the  court is compelled to conform  to it. It provides a speedy  remedy. It prescribes within what time the motion shall be  filed and requires the court to decide the contest as speedily as possible,  giving preference over all other cases, if practicable, and also defines to a great extent how the court shall reach its conclusions.   These facts clearly show that the  court is made a special tribunal to try contested election cases.  The jurisdiction of such tribunals,  although courts of general jurisdiction in all other matters, is strictly confined within the provisions of the statute creating them for this purpose.

"The court can take no additional power from its general jurisdiction.   In the exercise of such special powers it is precisely limited to those plainly delegated.  Nothing is to be presumed which is not expressly given."  (Sutherland, Stat. Const., § 391.)

"Whatever  may be the  rule with  regard to courts of general powers, when acting within the  scope  of those powers, it is well settled that when they do not, and exercise a  special and  statutory authority, their  proceedings stand on the same footing  with those of courts of limited and inferior jurisdiction, and will be  invalid  unless the authority on which they are founded has been strictly pursued."   (1 Smith's Lead.  Cas., 832, citing Denning vs. Corwin, 11 Wend., 647; Williamson vs. Berry, 8 How., 495; Thacher vs. Powell, 6  Wheat., 119; Embury vs. Connor, 3 N. Y., 511, 53 Am. Dec,  525,  and others.)    [66 Am. Dec, 56,]

In Galpin vs. Page  (85 U. S., 350, 21 L.  Ed., 959), the court said:

"The extent of the special jurisdiction and the conditions of its exercise over  subjects or persons  necessarily depend upon the terms in which the jurisdiction is granted, and not upon the rank of the court, upon which it is conferred."

Section 27, with its amendment, was  evidently  intended to afford a new and summary remedy in cases of contested elections, and  it is a cardinal rule that in summary proceedings the law must be  strictly  pursued.  (Dorsey vs. Barry,  24 Cal., 449.)

That the proceedings authorized by those provisions were intended by  the legislature to be  summary' in the highest degree cannot be doubted.  The requirements that the hearing, as we have said, is to be had on motion and not upon pleadings or by action;  that  the motion must be  made within  a very  limited time; that notice of the motion shall not  exceed twenty days; and  that  the  court shall  decide the  contest as soon as possible, and issue its mandamus forthwith to the canvassers; all show the summary,  expeditious, and  informal character of the proceedings.  It  is a  special authorization to the court to do  certain things in a particular way, and it is not to be construed as conferring power to do anything not  expressly  authorized. The fact that the person selected to inquire into such contests happens to be a judge is a mere incident, and does not authorize the inference that the power possessed with reference to  actions  is possessed with respect to these proceedings,  which are  expressly declared  not to  be actions. In these summary proceedings, the court is  given extraordinary powers in that its jurisdiction is exclusive and final.

"Statutes authorizing summary proceedings must be construed with  strictness, and  must be exactly followed by those who act under or in pursuance of them.  (Black on Interpretation of Laws, 305, citing Robinson vs. Schmid, 48 Tex., 13.)

"It is a well settled and wholesome rule, that statutes authorizing summary proceedings, and by which extraordinary powers are given to courts or officers of  justice, are to be strictly construed; and that the  powers conferred must be strictly  pursued, so  far  as regards all the steps and proceedings necessary to give jurisdiction, or the whole proceedings will be void."  (Sedgwick on  Stat.  Const. (2d ed.), 299.)

Upon these premises the judgment in  the case at bar must rest.

Counsel for respondents insist, first, that if  the Courts of First Instance do  not have the power under the above-quoted provisions of law to pass upon the, eligibility of candidates for public office, the  result will be very serious in that it will be possible for a stranger, an  enemy  of the government and  nation, by reason of his power and influence in a certain province or municipality, to take possession of the government of such province or municipality and continue  in the possession of the same until he is ousted in accordance with section 12 of Act No. 1582; or, in other words, that there is no machinery other than the Courts of First Instance whereby eligibility or legal qualifications of  candidates for provincial and  municipal  offices can be determined before they enter upon the duties of such offices. As a legal proposition, this is not true.  The provisions of law on this point and those giving the Governor-General power to remove ineligible provincial and municipal officers who are holding office are as follows:

"*  *  * The Governor-General may refuse to confirm the  election of  any elective provincial officer if there is reasonable ground to suspect his loyalty to the constituted authorities, or if there is,  in the opinion of the Governor-General, reasonable  ground to believe that such person is morally unfit to  hold public office, or in case, in the opinion of the Governor-General, such person has a bad reputation for morality, honesty, and uprightness in the community in which he  lives.  In  case of refusal to confirm the election of  any provincial officer the Governor-General, with the advice and consent of the Philippine Commission,  may appoint a  suitable person to fill the vacancy for the full term and until  the election and qualification of a successor or, in his discretion, may call a special election to fill the  office as provided in section four hereof, and at such special election a person whose confirmation was so refused shall be ineligible and no vote shall be counted or canvassed for him. (Sec. 3, Act No. 1726.)

"Any member of a provincial board or other person who has information  that the provincial governor or third member  is ineligible shall at  once report the matter  to the Governor-General who shall order an investigation by such officer or officers as he may appoint for the purpose, giving the governor-elect or third member elect, as  the case may be,  opportunity to present evidence in his behalf, and upon the report thereof shall declare the office vacant, or dismiss the proceedings,  as the facts may warrant.  (Paragraph 8 [6] of section 12 as amended, Act  No, 1582.)

"Any councilor or  other municipal officer or other person who has information that  a municipal officer is ineligible shall immediately report the matter to the municipal council which shall hold an investigation giving the officer opportunity to present  the evidence in his favor.  The council shall declare the office  vacant or dismiss  the proceedings as the facts may  warrant.  A record of  the proceedings and  evidence shall be kept'and forwarded to the provincial board which, within thirty days, shall affirm or reverse the action of the council.   (Paragraph 9 [7]  of section 12 as amended, Act No. 1582.)

"The Governor-General, upon receipt of proof satisfactory to him that an ineligible person is holding any provincial or municipal office or employment, may summarily remove such person."  (Section 2, Act  No. 1726.)

Those disqualifications set forth in  section 25 of Act No. 1582 as  amended  by section  3 of Act No,  1726 (supra) which render a person incapable of holding an elective provincial office and  which prevent  the confirmation of the election of such person are derived from the personal character of the individual and do not of themselves render him ineligible to be elected.  They only prevent him from exercising the functions of the office  until they are removed. Those disqualifications which are not derived from the personal character  of the  individual and  which render  him ineligible to hold the office are not included in this section.

Paragraph eight  of  section 12 of Act No.  1582  (as amended) authorizes and empowers the Governor-General, after an investigation  as therein  provided, to  declare the office of provincial governor  or  third member vacant on account of the ineligibility of the "governor-elect" or "third member  elect"  In the sense here used, the word "elect" is defined by the lexicographers as follows:

"Chosen to an office,  but not yet actually inducted into it; as, bishop elect, governor or mayor elect   (Webster, Edition of 1910.)

"Elected to office but  not yet in charge of its functions; as, the president elect; the bishop elect."

It will be noted that "governor-elect"  is a hyphenated word,  while "third  member elect" is composed of three independent words,  and that the hyphen is not used in either of the above definitions.  This variation in  the punctuation, however, is not important, as any construction of a statute based upon punctuation which is in conflict with the plain and evident intent of the legislature cannot be sustained.  (Black, Int.  of  Laws, p. 185.)  The Governor-General can only exercise the power conferred upon him by this paragraph in the interval between the election and the induction into office of such person.  This is clear from the mere reading of the paragraph.  Had it been otherwise, the legislature would not have used the words "governor-elect" and "third member elect."  But it is said that under the rule of strict construction as above set forth, the word "ineligible" as used in the paragraph  under consideration, does not include those disqualifications which are not derived from the personal character of the individual,  such as the one  mentioned in section 2  of  Act  No.  2045.   That the authority here conferred is special and statutory and that its extent depends upon  the terms of  the grant, there can be no question.  That the power to declare the office vacant has been granted cannot be doubted.  There is an express grant.  It is  unrestricted.  The paragraph is  not ambiguous.  Plain, ordinary language  is used.

"If the words of a  statute are of themselves  precise and unambiguous, then no more can be necessary than to expound those  words in their  natural  and ordinary sense. The  words themselves do,  in such  case, best  declare the intention of  the legislature."  (Sutherland, Stat. Const., § 247.)

The word "ineligible" is defined as follows:

"Legally or otherwise disqualified for office.  Not eligible. (Standard, Edition 1910.)

"Disqualified to be elected to an office; also disqualified to hold an office, if elected or appointed to it."  (28 Wis., 99; Black's  Law Dict.)

The foregoing  provisions  of law cover  every  case of ineligible  elective provincial officers.

Paragraph 9 [7] of section 12, as amended,  of Act No. 1582 confers  upon the municipal  council, with the approval of the provincial board,  the same powers with respect to       municipal officers, as are conferred  upon the Governor-General with respect to provincial officers by paragraph 8 [6],  The wording of the two paragraphs upon this point is exactly the same.  The word "ineligible" is used in the same manner in each.  There cannot be the slightest doubt about the existence of the power and the right and the duty of the  municipal council to exercise  it.  The grant  is expressed in direct and positive language. No construction is required to reach this result.   But the paragraph does have to be examined in order to ascertain the intent of the legislature as to when the power is to be exercised;  that  is, whether it is operative before or after the person assumes office.   To determine this question, the paragraph must be construed in connection  with other provisions of the same act and subsequent legislation in pari materia.  It cannot be segregated. If it stood alone,  some difficulty would  be encountered, as the word "officer" is not followed by the word "elect" as in paragraph eight.   This might be said to indicate that it was the intention of the legislature that the power should be exercised after the person had entered upon the duties of the office; that the oath of office is a condition precedent to the exercise of the power therein conferred. But when this paragraph is read in connection with paragraph eight  of the same section, and section 2 of Act No. 1726, the intent is manifest.  This latter section  provides that the Governor-General, upon receipt of proof  satisfactory to him, that an ineligible person is holding any provincial or  municipal office or employment, he may summarily remove such person.  That the  Governor-General cannot exercise the  power herein conferred until after the person has assumed office is specifically stated.  He  can  only remove persons holding office.  Here the entire field is covered and includes all provincial and municipal officers  and employees. It can hardly be said that the legislature  intended to invest the same power with reference to the removal of ineligible  persons holding municipal  offices  in  both the Governor-General  and the municipal  council.  The  legislature very wisely withheld  from  municipal  councils the power to  remove persons  holding municipal  offices and placed this power in  the highest  executive officer of the Government.  It is  therefore clear that the powers conferred upon municipal councils by paragraph nine of section 12  (supra), cannot be exercised after the municipal officers enter upon their duties as such.  The  result  is that there exists  a complete administrative  remedy  for  preventing ineligible provincial and municipal officers elect from entering upon the  duties of such offices.  A like remedy exists for the summary removal of such  officers after they have taken charge.

Secondly, counsel  for respondents argue  that section 27 confers upon the Courts of First Instance the power to pass upon the eligibility of candidates for an elective office, in the exercise of the special powers thereby granted.

We premise that if the Courts of First Instance cannot finally and conclusively determine any election dispute under the powers granted them by section 27,  such dispute cannot properly be considered justiciable under those powers at all, inasmuch as the legislature  has expressly provided that all decisions of such tribunals in the exercise of  these special powers shall be final and conclusive (with the  exception, of course, in the case of  provincial governors, that an appeal may be taken within ten days).  The qualifications and disqualifications  of elective provincial and municipal officers are set forth in the following provisions:

"Provincial governors  and  third members of provincial boards must be at the  time of the election qualified electors in the province; tfiey  must have been bona fide residents therein for at least one year prior to the date of their election ; must  owe allegiance to the United States, and must be not less than twenty-five years of age: Provided, however, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to those persons or  cases where the Governor-General shall  appoint a provincial governor or third member of a provincial board under existing provisions of law."  (Second paragraph of section 12,  as amended, of Act No. 1582.)

"No person shall be eligible to election as a Delegate to the Philippine Assembly, provincial governor, or third member of a provincial board unless, not less than ten  days before the day set for the election, he shall have filed  with the proper provincial board a written certificate, over his signature, that he thereby announces, or permits to be announced, his candidacy for the position to be mentioned in said certificate.   *  *   * Provided,  however, That in case of the death or disqualification of any candidate who has duly announced his candidacy,  occurring within the ten  days next preceeding the day of election,  as hereinbefore mentioned, it shall be lawful for any other duly qualified person to file, on or before noon of the day  set for the election, a certificate of his candidacy for the position for which the deceased or disqualified person was a candidate/'  (Paragraph 3 of section  12 as amended  by section  7 of Act No, 2045.)

"An elective municipal officer must  have been, at the  time of the election, a qualified voter and resident in the municipality for at least one year, owing allegiance to the United States; he must be not less than twenty-three years of age, and be1 able to read and write intelligently either Spanish, English or the local dialect: Provided, That a person ineligible  for office by reason of nonpayment  of taxes who is elected to any  office may remove such ineligibility by the payment of the taxes before the date fixed by law for assuming office,  but  not afterwards."  (Paragraph  5  jof section 12, Act No. 1582, as amended.)

"Unless fully pardoned, no person who is under judgment of conviction of a crime which is punishable by imprisonment  for two years or more or which involves moral turpitude,  regardless of whether or not  an appeal is pending in the action, shall hold any public  office, and no person disqualified  from holding public office by  the sentence of a court, whether or not an appeal is pending in the action, or so disqualified under the provisions of  Act Numbered Eleven hundred and twenty-six, as amended, ;shall be eligible to hold public office during the term of his disqualification.  No person who habitually smokes, chews, swallows, injects, or otherwise consumes or uses opium in any of its forms, shall be eligible  to hold any provincial or municipal  office." (Sec. 1,  Act Ncr. 1768.)

"A second ree"lectipn to any provincial or municipal office is prohibited, except after four years.   (Sec. 2 of Act No. 2045.)

"No person, except a notary public, holding any appointive  public office or employment, or any public  office or employment by appointment, shall, within  ninety  days preceding any general election, or within sixty days preceding any special election, announce his candidacy for,  or be eligible to  hold, any elective public office or employment to be filled at such general or special ejection.  No person holding an elective public office to which such person has been elected shall present his candidacy, nor shall he  be eligible while holding such office, at any municipal, provincial or Assembly election, except for reelection to the office held by  him. * * *"  (Sec, 3, Act No. 1948.)

Is it possible to finally pass upon the eligibility  of a candidate for such elective offices at any time  prior to the date upon which he is to assume office?   It is  plain that if the candidate can not qualify on election day as to  length of residence, age, or other requirement which can only be met by time,  he would be ineligible to hold office, and the court or any other deciding power could very well decide immediately after the election that he was ineligible.  But there is at least one qualification (the payment of taxes) which he is not required to meet on election day, and as  to which he may qualify  at any time prior to  the date fixed  for assuming office.  As to the disqualifications mentioned in section 1 of Act No.  176,8, any or all of these may be removed between the date of the election and the date fixed  for assuming office.  The removal of these, in so far as his criminal record may be concerned, depends upon executive clemency,* while removal of the disqualification of the habitual  use of opium depends upon  the candidate himself.  There  are, then, cases relating to the eligibility of a person to hold the office as to which the Courts of First Instance, in the exercise of their special  powers, cannot render a final and conclusive decision.  Counsel does not suggest, nor is it hardly necessary to negative, the proposition that the powers conferred by section 27 are capable of exercise upon a motion presented two weeks  after the  election.  If any question concerning  an election cannot,  because of its nature, be finally and conclusively determined under the court's special powers, it follows that such a question should not  be  considered at all, because not being within the  jurisdiction conferred, which  is, as  to the  subject  matter, final and conclusive.

All election disputes may  be divided into two  distinct classes: (1)  those which pertain to the casting and counting of the ballots; and (2) those which pertain to the eligibility of the candidates.  If there be cases incapable of being so classified, they have not been suggested.  Those parts of section 27 [Act No. 1582 as amended by Act No. 2170], indicative of the kind of contests which are to be determined under its  provisions, read:

"Such court (of First Instance) shall have exclusive and final jurisdiction except as  hereinafter provided, and shall forthwith cause the registry lists and all ballots used at such election to be brought before it and examined, and to appoint the  necessary officers therefor  and  to  fix their  compensation,   *  *  *

*    *     *    *    *    *    *    *

In such proceedings the registry list as finally corrected by the board of inspectors shall be conclusive as to who was entitled to vote at such election."

These very words indicate the character of the election disputes which Courts of First Instance are empowered to decide under this provision of law.  Contests which cannot be decided by an examination of the registry lists and of the ballots, and evidence of fraud and irregularity in connection with the manner of casting and counting the votes, must be included in the phrase "for the determination of which provision has not been otherwise made*' which appears near the beginning of the section.   If the nature of the evidence upon which  the eligibility (qualifications) of  a  person to hold office must be decided is considered, it will be seen  that such evidence has nothing to do with the manner of casting and counting the votes.  To what purpose would be the examination of registry lists and ballots by officers appointed and paid for that purpose in determining the  eligibility of  a successful candidate for office?  The eligibility of a person to be elected to a provincial or municipal office depends upon his qualifications as a voter, his residence, his allegiance to the  United States, his age, the absence of disqualifications inflicted by the courts by way of punishment, etc.   That is, these qualifications and disqualifications do not depend upon the  conduct of election inspectors, the illegal trafficking in. votes, the method of casting and counting the ballots, or the election returns.  The evidence  required  to establish such qualifications or disqualifications would not  aid in  any way in determining the  questions relating  to the manner  of casting and counting the ballots. E converso, would the examination of ballots aid in arriving at a decision as to his eligibility.  There is nothing  in this section to indicate that the  court shall receive or consider evidence as to the personal character or circumstances of candidates.

Again, the effect of a decision that a candidate is not entitled to the office because of fraud or irregularities in the election is quite different from that produced by declaring a person ineligible to hold such an office.  In the former case the court, after an examination of  the ballots may  find that some other  person  than  the candidate  declared  to  have received a plurality  by the board of canvassers actually received the greater number of  votes, in which case the court issues its mandamus to the board  of canvassers to correct the returns accordingly; or it may find that the manner of holding the  election and the returns are so tainted with fraud or illegality that it cannot be  determined who received     a plurality of the legally cast ballots.  In the latter case, no question as to the correctness of the returns or the manner of casting and  counting  the ballots is before the deciding power, and generally the  only result can be that the election fails entirely.  In the former, we have a contest in the strict sense of the word, because opposing parties are striving for supremacy.  If it  be found  that the successful candidate (according to the board of canvassers) obtained a plurality in an  illegal manner, and that another candidate was the real victor, the former must retire in favor of the latter. In the other case, there is not, strictly speaking, a contest, as the wreath of victory cannot be transferred  from  an ineligible candidate to any other candidate when the sole question is the eligibility  of the one receiving a plurality of the legally cast ballots.   In the one case the question is as to who received a plurality of the legally cast ballots; in the other, the question  is confined to the personal character and circumstances of a single individual.

Applying the familiar principle  of ejusdem generis, we hold that jurisdiction under this section is limited to those matters  which  may be  decided by an  inspection of  the registry list  and  of the  ballots  and  their res gestae. (Sutherland,  Stat. Const., par. 268 et seq; Sedgwick, id., 360; 36 Cyc, 1119.)

The utmost care must be exercised in the citation of authorities in  support of any particular contention in  the interpretation of election laws.  They are universally statutory and seldom similar  in  the  matter  of election controversies.  A single statutory or constitutional provision, may render worthless as an authority the best considered case coming from some other jurisdiction on the point under discussion.  We have, however, the  satisfaction of knowing that the Supreme Court of Illinois in two decisions in which the very question in the case at bar was at issue, adopted the view we take of this case.  The  provision of the Illinois law reads:

"The county court shall hear  and determine contests of election of all other county, township and precinct officers, and all other officers for the contesting  of whose election no provision is made."  (Starr  and Curtiss' Ann. 111. Statutes, 1661, par. 98.)

In Greenwood vs. Murphy (131 111., 604), the court said:

"We think that the statute limits the power of the county court to contests of elections.  That court has no other or further jurisdiction than to determine which of the contestants has been duly elected.  The question whether or not a party already elected possesses the necessary qualifications for the office  is  one  which  must  be determined in another way and by a different proceeding.

"Where  it is  claimed that such an one unlawfully holds an office by reason of his lack of a legal qualification therefor,  his right should  be determined by information in the nature of quo warranto in  the name of  the people of the State."

This  doctrine was  reaffirmed and the  earlier case cited with approval in the  late case of Edgcomb vs. Wylie  (248 111. (1911), 602).

In Castro  vs. Wislizenus (12 Phil. Rep., 468),  Vicente Sotto received six hundred and fifty votes and Martin LIorente four hundred  and eighty-three votes for municipal president  of Cebu.  Llorente protested  the election upon the sole ground that  Sotto  was ineligible to be elected to the office of municipal president in that he was then under a sentence  of four years and two months  of prision correccional  for  the  crime of abduction.  This was (by  Sotto himself) a nonremovable disqualification which not  only rendered him ineligible to be elected, but also  ineligible to hold the office.  The question squarely presented to the court below was  whether or not it had the power, under section 27 of the Election Law to pass upon the eligibility of Sotto, who had received a  plurality  of  the legally  cast  ballots, In disposing of the case, this court said:

"In  the  present case the court below had nothing  to decide  in  the matter of the scrutiny of the  ballots, and nothing was  asked for in the  motion with respect to  the operations showing the true and lawful result of the election            for the office of  municipal president qf Cebu; in proof thereof, the  contending parties admit that the result of the scrutiny was  lawful and correct; so that it is not a matter of rectifying the examination of the ballots so as to accord  with the facts resulting from the proofs  offered at the trial held by virtue  of the protest, nor is it a case of a void election  that should be referred to the Governor-General.

"The whole of the question submitted to the court below is the status  of the party  who obtained the  majority of votes, that is, whether the  election of a person sentenced to four years of prision correccional should be confirmed or not, and by  none of the sections of the Election Law is this question  submitted to the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance." In a republican form of  government, where a considerable number of  the  public servants  received their appointments directly  from the people  in what  are technically termed elections, it  is only  natural that controversies over who has thus been  appointed to a  particular  office should arise with more  frequency than  they do in more centralized forms of government, and are more difficult to dispose of. Obviously,  it is  highly  inexpedient  and expensive to refer such question to the appointing power (the people),  and they must, if possible, be decided by some more expeditious and economical  method.  To provide the means of  disposing of these controversies  quickly and cheaply,  and in a way that will be reasonably certain to discover and  declare the sacred will  of the majority, is  the task of legislators. In meeting these exacting requirements,  the  Philippine Legislature has  covered the field by enacting appropriate legislation.  It has  established  special tribunals with exclusive and final jurisdiction, by which the most vexatious controversies, those  relating to  the manner of casting  and counting the ballots, may be expeditiously settled.  It  has provided for the  further elimination of unnecessary  and tiresome delays  by  clothing administrative  officers of the  government with power to remove for ineligibility candidates elect during the same  interval of time.  Confusion and uncertainty as to the results of an election are thus reduced to a minimum,  and the return to political repose, so necessary to economic progress, is hastened.

The findings of the  special tribunals above mentioned, acting within their jurisdictional powers, are final and conclusive.  The returns of the canvassing board as corrected in accordance with the findings of these special tribunals are final and conclusive upon all  departments of the government and upon all interested  parties, as to who received a plurality of  the  legally  cast  ballots.   But those administrative proceedings, authorized by law  for the determination of the eligibility of candidates elect, while conclusive upon the administrative branch of the  government, are not exclusive as to the  courts.  They do not abridge the right to the remedy of quo warranto.

For the foregoing reasons,  we are of the opinion and so hold that the respondent judge exceeded his jurisdiction in declaring in those proceedings that no one was elect municipal president of the municipality of Imus at the last general election; and that said order and all subsequent proceedings based thereon  are null  and void  and  of  no effect; and, although this decision is rendered on respondents' answer to the order to show cause, unless respondents raised some new and additional issues, let judgment be entered accordingly in 5 days, without costs.  So ordered.

Arellano,  C.  J., Torres,  Mapa, and Carson, JJ., concur.