PRESS BRIEFER (G.R. No. 262622, Teves v. COMELEC, et al.; G.R. No. 262682, Degamo v. COMELEC and Degamo)
The Supreme Court, in today’s En Banc session, resolved to dismiss the petitions in: (i.) G.R. No. 262622, filed by petitioner Pryde Henry A. Teves against respondents Commission on Elections, Roel R. Degamo, and Grego “Ruel” Degamo and (ii.) G.R. No. 262682 filed by petitioner Grego “Ruel” G. Degamo against respondents Commission on Elections and Roel R. Degamo.
The Court found that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc did not commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing its Resolution in SPA No. 21-085 (DC) dated September 1, 2022.
In SPA No. 21-085 (DC), the COMELEC en banc affirmed the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division, which declared “Ruel” Degamo as a nuisance candidate. Subsequently, the proclamation of Pryde Henry Teves as the Provincial Governor of Negros Oriental was annulled and the votes obtained by Grego Degamo was credited in favor of Roel Ragay Degamo.
The Court ruled that a close examination of the documents detailing the list of candidates for governor in the province of Negros Oriental would show the similarity between Roel Degamo and Ruel Degamo. From the Certified List of Voters and the Official Ballot, it can be observed that there is a noticeable likeness to the name of candidates “Roel Degamo” and “Ruel Degamo”. First, their names are only distinguishable by one vowel as the incumbent uses the letter “o” while the independent candidate uses the letter “u”. Second, the name “Roel” and the nickname “Ruel” have similar pronunciation. Likewise, the two candidates used Degamo as their surnames. Citing the similarity in the circumstance in the case of Zapanta v. COMELEC, the Court held that the only way to distinguish “Roel” and “Ruel” is their number on the ballot and their political affiliations. Further, as observed by the Commission on Elections Second Division, it was only for the 2022 Elections that Grego Gaudia Degamo used “Ruel Degamo.” He was known as Grego and merely used the nickname “Ruel” recently. He also used the surname of those who has taken custody of him even though he was not legally adopted by them.
The Court further held that while Teves was the winning candidate for the gubernatorial position in Negros Oriental in the 2022 National and Local Elections, his status in the petition filed by Roel Degamo before the COMELEC to declare Grego “Ruel” Degamo as
a nuisance candidate, was that of an observer. Hence, even if he was not impleaded in the petition filed by Roel against Ruel the same will not amount to a violation of his right to due process. Moreso, the number of votes he has garnered will remain the same, with the COMELEC proceeding merely on the appreciation of the votes cast by the voters and determine whether all of the votes obtained by the declared nuisance candidate will have to be credited in favor of the declared real candidate.
Ultimately, the Court found no grave abuse of discretion in the counting the votes garnered by the nuisance candidate Ruel G. Degamo in favor of Roel R. Degamo.
The SC Public Information Office will upload a copy of the Decision/Resolution once it receives a copy from the SC Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc.