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High court explains 3-term limit rule on local elected officials

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The Supreme Court building in Manila. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Supreme Court has clarified the “three consecutive terms” limit imposed by the Constitution on local elected officials, saying that a candidate who is eventually declared the winner but is unable to occupy the seat due to an election protest would be considered not to have served a full term.

In a unanimous full-court decision penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., the high tribunal reiterated its previous ruling that “it is not enough that an individual has served three consecutive terms in an elective local office, he must also have been elected to the same position for the same number of times.”

Section 8, Article X of the Constitution provides that “the term of office of elective local officials, except for barangay (village) officials, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms.” The three-term limit rule was

reiterated in Section 43(b) of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

Involuntary interruption

 

The justices, however, said an election protest could be considered an involuntary interruption in the three-term limit even if the subject of the protest were to assume the post after the case is resolved.

The justices thus backed a petition filed by Mayor Abelardo Abundo Sr. of Viga, Catanduanes contesting the nullification of his 2010 election victory by a local court and the Commission on Elections, which both disqualified him because had he also won the mayoral races in 2001, 2004 and 2007.

Abundo claimed that he did not complete three consecutive terms because in 2004, Jose Torres—his rival in all four elections—was proclaimed the winner. Abundo filed an election protest, which he won, and was only able to assume the mayorship on May 6, 2006, a little over a year before the end of the 2004-2007 term.

In 2010, Torres sought to disqualify Abundo from running, citing the three-term limit rule. This was dismissed by the Comelec First Division on June 16, 2010. Abundo, who defeated Torres by 219 votes, was proclaimed the winner and assumed office.

However, an Ernesto Vega filed a separate case against Abundo in the Regional Trial Court in Virac, Catanduanes, on May 21, 2010. The case was based on the same grounds as Torres’ disqualification case against Abundo.

On Aug. 9, 2010, the RTC ruled that Abundo was ineligible to serve as mayor because he had served three terms in 2001, 2004 and 2007. The ruling was upheld by the Comelec’s Second Division on Feb. 8, 2012, and by the commission en banc on May 10, 2012.

Abundo ouster

 

Abundo appealed to the Supreme Court, which issued a temporary restraining order on July 3, 2012. However, the following day, he was ousted from office as Vice Mayor Emeterio Tarin and first councilor Cesar Cervantes assumed the post of mayor and vice mayor, respectively.

The justices, voting unanimously, reversed the decisions of the Comelec, ruling that “the almost two-year period which Abundo’s opponent actually served as mayor is and ought to be considered an involuntary interruption of Abundo’s continuity of service.”

“An involuntary interrupted term cannot, in the context of the disqualification rule, be considered as one term for purposes of counting the three-term threshold,” the justices said in their 35-page decision.

The court ordered the immediate reinstatement of Abundo to the post of mayor and the reversion of Tarin and Cervantes to their original posts as vice mayor and first councilor of Viga town.


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Tags: 2013 midterm elections , Constitution , Elections , Government , Supreme Court


  • oh_noh

    dummy rule – protecting political dynasties!

    3 consecutive terms max and no 1st degree relatives after that for the same position!

  • boybakal

    “It is not enough that an individual has served three consecutive terms in an elective local office, he must also have been elected to the same position for the same number of times.”

    Grabe naman magpaliwanag tong Supreme Court.
    This is what we call Clear as Mud.
    Hindi na lang simplified explanation….like 3 consecutive terms of elective local officials means 3 continuous terms without interruption.
    Election protest is interruption and is deducted from the term being served.

    Says election protest, the elected official cannot perform, it means he has not served his term and should serve the remaining portion that was not served or interrupted.

    At least claro.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2DAZWQGRABQ742P6J6XNTSLGJQ dark matter

      Ito halimbawa ang scenario: Wala pang isang taon sa position, namatay ang mayor at pinalitan ng vice mayor. Ayon sa sinabi ng supreme court, hindi mapapasama sa bilang ng term nung pumalit na mayor yung pag-occupy nya sa position dahil hindi naman siya elected sa position na yun, nagkataon lang na namatay yung mayor kaya siya yung pumalit. Kaya pagkatapos nun, pwede pa siyang tumakbo ng 3 beses for mayor. i.e.,  9 years for 3 consecutive terms PLUS kung ano man yung hindi na-serve nung unang mayor

      • boybakal

        agree…the word is elected. vice mayor assumed office of the mayor which he was not elected.
        the vice mayor was not elected to the position of mayor, by operation of law, he took over as he was next in line.

  • dodong1

    3 consecutive terms means 9 years?? tapos yung asawa ang papalit, tapos yung anak, yung pinsan, yung apo tapos..talagang tapos dahil walng pagbabago…TURD WORLD COUNTRY PARIN TAYOOOOO… DAHIL SA POLITICAL DYNASTIES NAYAN…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NXV3F6YUQWDOA4HPYOFN5F2N3U Danyel

    SC nagpagamit sa mga pulitiko….pabalik balik ang mga pulitiko even after their terms end…pahinga lang ng one season at balik uli sa pwesto…fresh start daw yun sabi ng SC…no wonder pabalik balik sa Senado at kongreso ang mga pulitiko…sa local ganyan din…..dapat forever barred na after their terms…..nabayaran ang SC justices……

  • NAGMAMARUNONG

    WHAT’S WITH KOKO PIMENTEL?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ELGS2BPKJKG5PDWJAOOCF7K5KI Albert

    Perhaps if the comelec got their act together to proclaim a true winner even in a protest a little faster than week before the next election we would not have this problem.

    It takes a few days to proclaim a winner during the election, but more than two years to do a re-count????

  • EMMANUEL SENA

    Ok lang eh di yun asawa, anak, biyenan, ama, Ina, etc.. Ang tumakbo muna..decoy Lang sila but behind it is still the incumbent who is running the government….

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/62CI2HE2V5JOZ7AGFRQSW44RGQ Juan

    HINDI BA PWEDENG 1 TERM LANG PARA MABIGYAN NMN NG CHANCE YUNG IBA? THE LONGER NA NASA POSISYON ANG MGA ELECTED OFFICIALS NA YAN, THE MORE NAMAN DIN ANG NAKUKURAKOT. SANA MA-REVISE YANG  Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 NA IYAN. AT SANA PAG NA-ELECT NA, HINDI NA PWEDENG KUMANDIDATO PA ULIT SA KAHIT ANONG POSISYON. GIVE CHANCE TO OTHERS NA MAS CAPABLE MAGING PUBLIC SERVANT. 

  • kismaytami

    Wala talagang natatalo sa eleksyon dito sa Pinas, nadadaya lang.



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