[Lipa Batangas, mayoralty election 1937, Supreme Court decisions, Claro M. Recto, Jose P. Laurel Jr.]Through a Supreme Court en banc decision dated 2 December 19391, we learn of a mayoralty race in the then-municipality of Lipa in 1937 that went on as though it was a tennis match. The petitioner was one Pablo L. Torres and named respondent was one Esteban Mayo. The two contested the election for the Office of the Mayor for Lipa that was held on 14 December 1937.
Both parties were represented by lawyers who, over the course of history, would become very prominent figures. Torres was represented by Sabido and Laurel, Jr., the latter likely Jose Laurel Jr.2, eldest son of Dr. Jose P. Laurel who would become President of the 2nd Philippine Republic during the Japanese occupation.
In the said election, after the canvassing and all the votes were counted, Torres was proclaimed Mayor after garnering 4,352 votes, just seven more than Mayo, who earned a total of 4,345. Mayo thought that the result was anomalous and filed a protest for a recount at the Batangas Court of First Instance.
The move backfired. The court affirmed Torres election as Mayor with even a greater plurality of thirty-one votes, 4,377 to 4,346.
Undeterred by this setback, Mayo elevated his protest on 1 August 1939 to the Court of Appeals. This time, the protest was upheld, the Third Division of the Court of Appeals finding after review of the ballots that Mayo won by a plurality of two votes, 4,368 to 4,366. The court declared Mayo Mayor-elect of the town of Lipa.
On 26 August that same year, Torres filed a motion for reconsideration on the grounds that the decision was “contrary to law and to the rules established by this (Supreme) court on election matters.” The motion was denied; and as a final recourse, Torres filed a petition at the Supreme Court for certiorari.
Certiorari is a “process for seeking judicial review” and is issued “by a superior court, directing an inferior court, tribunal or other public authority to send the record of a proceeding for review4.”
After examining the ballots, the Supreme Court found that Torres had a total of 4,370 votes for a valid plurality of just two votes over Mayos’ 4,368. The court ruled:
“Wherefore, the writ prayed for is granted, the decision sought to be set aside thereby is reversed, and the petitioner is declared Mayor-elect of Lipa with a plurality of two (2) votes over the respondent, with costs against the latter.”To find out in detail how the Supreme court opined on certain ballots that mattered to its decision, read:
1 “G.R. No. L-46920 Pablo L. Torres v Esteban Mayo,” online at the LawPhil Project.
2 Jose Laurel Jr. obtained his law degree from the University of the Philippines in 1936. Wikipedia.
3 “Claro M. Recto,” Wikipedia.
4 “Certiorari,” Wikipedia.