The Court of Appeals has reversed and set aside the temporary restraining order issued by the Manila City court enjoining the implementation of a resolution by the Commission on Elections declaring Smartmatic-TIM Corp. as winner in the lease of vote-counting machines in the recently concluded elections.
In a decision penned by Associate Justice Melchor Sadang, the CA’s Ninth Division granted the Comelec’s petition assailing the issuance of TRO by Judge Cicero Jurado of Manila City Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, enjoining the poll body from implementing its resolution declaring Smartmatic TIM as the bidder with the lowest calculated responsive bid for the lease of the VCMs for the May 9 polls.
The appellate court ruled that respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the TRO.
“The Order dated July 16, 2015 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Manila is reversed and set aside and said court is permanently enjoined/prohibited from enforcing said order. The complaint for injunction of plaintiff Agan Montenegro Malagasa and Co. is dismissed,” the CA stressed.
Smartmatic-TIM provided more than 92,000 vote-counting machines after winning the two separate public biddings conducted by the Comelec.
Prior to the resolution’s implementation, it was questioned before the Manila City RTC by Agan Montenegro Malagasa and Company (AMMC), one of the prospective bidders.
Acting on AMMC’s petition, Judge Jurado issued a TRO on July 16, 2015 enjoining the Comelec from implementing its assailed resolution.
This prompted the Comelec through the Office of the Solicitor General to file a petition before the CA assailing the ruling of Judge Cicero, arguing that the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the TRO.
It also stressed that the petition filed by AMMC is infirmed and that the respondent was not entitled to injunctive relief.
Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo and Amy Lazaro-Javier concurred with the ruling.
The CA declared that the Manila RTC erred when it failed to direct the AMMC to implead Smartmatic-TIM as a party defendant considering that it was an “indispensable party” and that its inclusion in the case is a “mandatory requirement” for the court to acquire jurisdiction over the case.
“Unfortunately, without first directing the JV (joint venture) Smartmatic, respondent judge continued to act on the case by granting the assailed injunctive relief. In doing so, respondent judge gravely abused [his] discretion. Also, considering that the court has not acquired jurisdiction over JV Smartmatic, the order and TRO issued pursuant thereto are void,” the decision stated.
The appellate court also said that t since AMMC was “merely a prospective bidder” and does not claim to be a losing or failed bidder because it failed to submit a proposal on time, it has “no personality to challenge the decision.”
The CA held that there is no showing of urgent and paramount necessity to prevent serious damage on the part of AMMC to justify the issuance of TRO.