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Special courts designated to hear election cases

Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - January 2, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines – The Supreme Court has desig-nated special courts to hear, try, and decide election contests.

 Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno issued Administrative Order No. 149-2015 Re: Designation of special courts to hear, try and decide election contests involving elective municipal officials where the Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all election contests.

 “Now, therefore, in an interest of a speedy and efficient administration of  justice  and  pursuant to Section 11, Rule 2, the 2010 Rules, the following branches of the RTCs are hereby designated to exclusively and speedily hear, try and decide election protests and petitions for quo warranto involving elective municipal officials within their respective territorial jurisdictions during local and national elections, until otherwise revoked by the court,” the order reads.

In Cebu, RTC Branches 14, 17 and 18 in Cebu City and Branch 56 in Mandaue City are the designated courts.

RTC Branches 47 and 49 in Tagbilaran City will hear the cases in Bohol while RTC Branches 33, 39 and 42 in Dumaguete City will hear cases in Negros Oriental.

 Sereno said cases referred to these branches shall be limited to election protests and petitions for quo warranto involving elective municipal officials.

Other election-related cases shall be raffled among the regular courts in the station.

 If there is only one branch to hear cases of election protests, Sereno said, “the election contest shall be automatically assigned to the said branch. If there are two or more branches designated as Special Courts in a station, the election contest/s shall be raffled among the designated branches. All single-sala courts are consi-dered Special Courts for the above purpose and for this reason shall give priority to these cases in their trial calendar.”

 Sereno added branches designated as Special Courts shall continue to perform the functions as such within the purview of the Administrative Order even after the retirement, promotion, transfer or detail of the judges appointed/designated thereat.

 “Election contests filed after the Special Courts became vacant due to retirement, promotion, transfer or detail of the presiding/acting judge shall still be raffled/assigned to the Special Courts. The judge designated to preside over the vacant Special Court shall take cognizance of the cases unless the Supreme Court designates another judge,” the order further reads.

 However, in the event of disqualification and vo-luntary inhibition of the judge of the designated Special Court, the following shall be observed:

 (1) Where there is only one Special Court in the station, the pairing  system for multiple-sala-stations subject of Circular No. 7 dated  September 23, 1974,as amended, shall apply; and

(2) Where there are more than two Special Courts in the station, the executive judge shall immediately assign the case by raffle to the other or another Special Court. In case the presiding judge of the other Special Court is also disqualified or inhibits himself/herself, the case shall be forwarded to the pairing judge of the Special Court which originally handled the said case. If the pairing judge is also disqualified or inhibits himself/herself, the case shall be raffled to the other regular courts. At the next raffle, an additional case shall be assigned to the disqualified or inhibiting judge/s to replace the case so removed from his/her/their court.

 If the judge in a single branch court voluntary inhibits from the case, the order of inhibition shall be transmitted to the pairing judge who shall hear and decide the case in the court of origin.

 If the pairing judge who sits in a single branch RTC is also disqualified or voluntarily inhibits, the matter shall be referred by the Clerk of Court to the Executive Judge of the nearest multiple branch RTC. — /JMO (FREEMAN)

BRANCHES CASE COURT COURTS ELECTION JUDGE NBSP SHALL SPECIAL SPECIAL COURT SPECIAL COURTS
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