Risos-Vidal vs Commission on Elections
G.R. No. 206666, January 21, 2015
Facts: Former President Estrada was impeached and removed from presidency. He was convicted of the crime of plunder. During the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, she extended an absolute pardon to herein private respondent. Estrada filed a certificate of candidacy for the position of City Mayor of Manila which was questioned by petitioner Atty. Risos-Vidal alleging that his conviction disqualified him from running for public office. The COMELEC took discretionary judicial notice on Estrada’s pardon.
Issue: Whether or not the court properly took judicial notice on the pardon of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
Ruling: Yes. On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for public respondent COMELEC, maintains that “the issue of whether or not the pardon extended to [former President Estrada] restored his right to run for public office had already been passed upon by public respondent COMELEC way back in 2010 via its rulings in SPA Nos. 09-024, 09-028 and 09-104, there is no cogent reason for it to reverse its standing pronouncement and declare [former President Estrada] disqualified to run and be voted as mayor of the City of Manila in the absence of any new argument that would warrant its reversal. To be sure, public respondent COMELEC correctly exercised its discretion in taking judicial cognizance of the aforesaid rulings which are known toit and which can be verified from its own records, in accordance with Section 2, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court on the courts’ discretionary power to take judicial notice of matters which are of public knowledge, or are capable of unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to them because of their judicial functions.”
Further, the OSG contends that “[w]hile at first glance, it is apparent that [former President Estrada’s] conviction for plunder disqualifies him from running as mayor of Manila under Section 40 of the [LGC], the subsequent grant of pardon to him, however, effectively restored his right to run for any public office.” The restoration of his right to run for any public office is the exception to the prohibition under Section 40 of the LGC, as provided under Section 12 of the OEC. As to the seeming requirement of Articles 36 and 41 of the Revised Penal Code, i.e., the express restoration/remission of a particular right to be stated in the pardon, the OSG asserts that “an airtight and rigid interpretation of Article 36 and Article 41 of the [RPC] x x x would be stretching too much the clear and plain meaning of the aforesaid provisions.” Lastly, taking into consideration the third Whereas Clause of the pardon granted to former President Estrada, the OSG supports the position that it “is not an integral part of the decree of the pardon and cannot therefore serve to restrict its effectivity.”