Congressman Nicolas Rafols and 1925 general elections

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal - The Freeman

Congressman Nicolas Rafols was elected Representative of what was called then as the old 6th Congressional District of Cebu in 1922. The District was then composed of the municipalities of Aloguinsan, Barili, Dumanjug, Pinamungajan, Toledo, and Ronda.

Congressman Rafols ran for reelection in the general elections held on June 2, 1925. In Cebu, elected as Senator for the 10th Senatorial District (from 1916 to 1935 the country was divided into 12 senatorial districts, with Cebu as the 10th Senatorial District and each district electing two senators) was Pedro Rodriguez. For the old 6th Congressional District elected was Pastor Noel, defeating the incumbent congressman, Nicolas Rafols.

On June 6, 1925, Ramon A. Noel, the Deputy Provincial Fiscal of Cebu filed a complaint before the Court of First Instance of Cebu. It was addressed to Judge Adolph Wislizenus. The letter says:

"SIR. According to reliable information, a serious violation of the Election Law was committed in the municipality of Pinamungajan in that the Inspectors of the three precincts of said municipality voluntarily and unlawfully refused to count the votes in favor of Messrs. Pedro Rodriguez and Pastor Noel, candidates for senator and representative respectively of this province, said inspectors having certified in their election returns that none of said candidates had received any votes.

"This office is intending to prosecute the authors of said violation and the undersigned respectfully prays your Honor that the ballot boxes of said precincts be opened for the purpose of making a minute examination, and ascertaining the true number of votes obtained by Messrs. Rodriguez and Noel.

"We pray that the court set the tenth day instant for the opening of the boxes and the making of the examination and that the court itself be present at the opening and the examination."

Judge Adolph Wislizenus upon receipt of the complaint on the same date granted the prayer of Deputy Fiscal Ramon Noel. The court then ordered that since he will be on leave, the case be handled by Guillermo F. Pablo, the Auxiliary Judge of the District. However, Judge Wislizenus ordered that the case be returned to him when he reports back to his office.

Nicolas Rafols then questioned the order of the Court of First Instance ordering the opening of ballot boxes and for making a new canvassing of the votes. Rafols questioned the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on August 3, 1925 made the following decision:

"... and the jurisprudence, on the other hand, has laid down rules of precaution for the opening of the election boxes, all of which show that the election boxes must not be opened by guess work or merely for the sake of discovering possible violations of the law, that the box containing the evidence of popular sovereignty, that is, the will of the electors, must not be exposed to examination without a justifiable motive and when permitted, only in those cases mentioned by the law, so as not to jeopardize the secret which is one of the fundamental principles underlying the right of suffrage. After all, with evidence secured by the respondent fiscal in his investigation, as appears in his answer, he had enough basis for filing a complaint against the alleged violators of the law and he had the right to introduce as a part of his evidence the contents of the ballots boxes here in question and the court with jurisdiction over the case may validly order the opening of said boxes."

The Supreme Court granted the petition of Rafols to prohibit the opening of the ballot boxes. Although he lost in that election, he was reelected in 1928, came back in 1938 and served from 1941 to 1949. The street in Cebu City named as Jazmin Street has long been renamed after Congressman Nicolas Rafols.


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