Comelec bars Batangas town mayor from 4th term


BATANGAS CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has disqualified the incumbent town mayor of San Pascual, Batangas, from seeking reelection in May for exceeding his term limit.

The Comelec second division, in a six-page resolution dated Jan. 28,  ordered the certificate of candidacy  of Mayor Antonio Dimayuga canceled because he is no longer qualified to run for the same office since he is now serving his third consecutive and last term as mayor of San Pascual.

While Dimaguya served only the latter part of his first term when he won his election protest, it could still be counted as his first term, according to the ruling signed by the division’s presiding Commissioner Lucenito Tagle and Commissioners Elias Yusoph and Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca.

The petition was filed by Antonio Tabares Jr., a registered voter of San Pascual town, who had pointed out that Dimayuga had already served his first term when he took over from unseated Mayor Mario Magsaysay Jr. in 2006.

Dimayuga ran for mayor in the May 2004 elections. After the counting and canvass of votes, Magsaysay was proclaimed winner. Dimayuga filed an election protest which he won.

Dimayuga took his oath of office on Oct. 4, 2006, and started serving as mayor. In the 2007 and 2010 elections, Dimayuga again ran and won as municipal mayor.

Tabares said in his petition that allowing Dimayuga to seek a fresh term in May would be a violation of the three-term limit for local officials set in the Constitution and the Local Government Code.

Dimayuga said he could not be considered as having served a full first term since he actually performed the functions of mayor only on March 27, 2007, or barely two months before the 2007 elections.

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  • Jess

    SC Clarifies “Three-Term Limit” Rule, Proclaims Abundo Winner of 2010 Mayoral Elections in Viga, Catanduanes
    Posted: February 7, 2013; By Bianca M. Padilla
    The Supreme Court En Banc has partly granted the petition for certiorari under rule 65 of Abelardo Abundo, Sr., Mayor of Viga, Catanduanes, setting aside the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division Resolution dated February 8, 2012, COMELEC’s En Banc resolution in EAC (EA) No. A-25-2010 dated May 10, 2012, and the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Virac, Catanduanes Branch 43’s Decision in Election Case No. 55 dated August 9, 2010, which declared Abundo ineligible to run in the 2010 Mayoral elections of Viga, Catanduanes under the three-term limit rule.Abundo ran for the position of Municipal Mayor of Viga, Catanduanes in the years 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010. He was proclaimed winner of the 2001 and 2007 elections. In the 2004 election, however, Jose Torres was proclaimed the winner of the electoral race and Mayor of Viga, performing the functions of the office. Abundo protested Torres’ election and was eventually declared the winner of the 2004 mayoralty electoral contest. He assumed office from May 9, 2006 until the end of the 2004-2007 term on June 30, 2007.As a result of such reversal, the Court declared Abundo eligible for another term as Mayor to which he was duly elected in the May 2010 elections and immediately reinstated him to such position. Emeterio M. Tarin and Cesar O. Cervantes were also ordered to immediately vacate the positions of Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Viga, Catanduanes, respectively and to revert to their original positions of Vice-Mayor and first Councilor, respectively, upon receipt of this Decision, which is immediately executory. The Court likewise lifted the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it issued on July 3, 2012 to restrain the COMELEC from enforcing the abovementioned resolutions.As provided for in Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution and Sec. 43(b) of the Local Government Code, the three-term limit rule constitutes a disqualification to run for an elective local office when an official has been elected for three consecutive terms in the same local government post and has fully served those three consecutive terms.In the Court’s 35-page decision, written by Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., it unanimously held that Abundo did not serve three consecutive terms as Mayor of Viga, Catanduanes due to an actual involuntary interruption during the 2004-2007 term. This was because he assumed the mayoralty post only on May 9, 2006 and served a little over one year and one month only. Thus, “the two-year period which his opponent, Torres, was serving as mayor should be considered as an interruption, which effectively removed Abundo’s case from the ambit of the three-term limit rule,” ruled the Court.The Court further ruled that the COMELEC erred in applying Aldovino, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, which held that “service of the unexpired portion of a term by a protestant who is declared winner in an election protest is considered as service for one full term within the contemplation of the three-term limit rule” as the doctrine refers to a situation where the elected official is under preventive suspension and is only temporarily unable to discharge his functions yet is still entitled to the office as compared to the situation of Abundo where he did not have title to the office. The Court emphasized that pending the favorable resolution of Abundo’s election protest, he was relegated to being an ordinary constituent and private citizen since his opponent, as presumptive victor in the 2004 elections, was occupying the mayoralty seat. While awaiting the pendency of the election protest, Abundo ceased from exercising power or authority over the constituents of Viga and cannot be said to have retained title to the mayoralty office as he was at that time not the duly proclaimed winner. It stressed that Abundo’s case differs from other cases involving the “effects of an election protest because while Abundo was the winning candidate, he was the one deprived of his right and opportunity to serve his constitutents.”In his separate opinion, Justice Arturo D. Brion wrote to “briefly expound on the Court’s ruling in Aldovino, Jr. v. Commission on Elections which the COMELEC erroneously relied upon in affirming the grant of the quo warranto petition against Abundo, and to express my own views on how our present Decision should be read in light of other three-term limit cases that have been decided under a protest case scenario.” He stressed that “the Court cannot avoid considering the attendant factual and legal realities, based on the requirements that Borja established, and has no choice but to adjust its appreciation of these realities, as may be necessary.”Justice Brion agreed that the Aldovino ruling relied upon by COMELEC “cannot be used as a basis for the conclusion that there had been no interruption in the case of Abundo – the eventual winner who is so recognized only after winning his protest case. Notably in Aldovino, while preventive suspension is an involuntary imposition, what it affects is merely the authority to discharge the functions of an office that the suspended local official continues to hold… the local elective official continues to possess title to his office while under preventive suspension, so that no interruption of his term ensues.”After discussing the prevailing jurisprudence cited by the majority (Ong v. Alegre, Lonzanida v. Commission on Elections, and Borja, Jr. v. Commission on Elections), Justice Brion pointed out that “the differing factual situations of the cited cases and Abundo that necessarily gave rise to different perspectives in appreciating the same legal question, immediately suggest that the Court’s ruling in the cited cases cannot simply be combined nor wholly be bodily lifted and applied to Abundo. At the simplest, both Lonzanida and Ong were protestees who faced the same legal reality of losing the election, although Ong fully served the elected term; for Abundo, the legal reality is his recognized and declared election victory, In terms of factual reality, Lonzanida and Abundo may be the same since they only partially served their term, but this similarity is fully negated by their differing legal realities with respect to the element of ‘election.’ Ong and Abundo, on the other hand, have differing legal and factual realities; aside from their differing election results, Ong served the full term, while Abundo only enjoyed abbreviated term.”Based on this analysis, Justice Brion concluded his separate opinion by stressing that “Abundo should not be considered to have been elected for the full term for purposes of the three-term limit rule, despite the legal reality that he won the election; as in Ong, the factual reality should prevail, and that reality is that he served for less than this full term. Thus, where less than a full term is served by a winning protestant, no continous and uninterrupted term should be recognized. This is the view that best serves the purpose of the three-term limit rule.”Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro joined Justice Brion’s separate opinion.The Court also summarized the prevailing jurisprudence on issues affecting consecutiveness of terms and involuntary interruption.Borja, Jr. v. Commission on Elections provides that when a permanent vacancy occurs in an elective position and the official merely assumed the position through succession, his service for the unexpired portion of the term cannot be treated as one full term.Montebon v. Commission on Elections supplemented this by saying that if the official runs again for the same position he held rior to his assumption of the higher office, his succession to said position is by operation of law and is considered an involuntary severance or interruption.On the issue of recall elections, Adormeo v. Commission on Elections and Socrates v. Commission on Elections held that an elective official, who has served for three consecutive terms and who did not seek the elective position for what could be his fourth trm, but later won in a recall election, had an interruption in the continuity of the official’s servicefor he had become in the interim a private citizen.Latasa v. Commission on Elections ruled that the abolition of an elective office due to the conversion of a municipality to a city does not, by itself, work to interrupt the incumbent official’s continuity of service.As mentioned above, Aldovino, Jr. v. Commission on Elections states that preventive suspension is not a term interrupting event as the elective officer’s continued stay and entitlement to the office remain unaffected during the period of suspension, although he is barred from exercising the functions of the office during this period.Lonzanida v. Commission on Elections and Dizon v. Commission on Elections continued on to rule that when a candidate is proclaimed as winner for an elective position and assumes office, his term is interrupted when he losess in an election protest and is ousted from office. An interruption for any length of time, provided the cause is involuntary is sufficient to break the continuity of service.Lastly, Ong v. Alegre and Rivera III v. Commission on Elections declared when an official is defeated in an election protest and decision becomes final only after the official had served the full term for the office, then his loss in the election contest does not constitute an interruption since he has managed to serve the term from start to finish. His full service should be counted in the application of term limits because the nullification of his proclamation came after the expiration of the term. (GR No. 201716, Abundo v. Commission on Elections, January 8, 2013)

  • Jess


  • hubitae falfarun

    A Scheduled Hearing for the said motion of the respondent will be heard this week. The Comelec En Banc will decide once and for all this controversial decision of the “Second Division” and there is always a big possibility that it will land in the hands of the SC Magistrate for their final interpretation of the LAW on Three term RULE.  WE asked for our friends in Media to be vigilant on the said issue so that you can report factually and accurately the said decision. I commend your report unlike others who doesn’t published the side of the respondent. Much better if you can research further with this issue so you can unearth something within  it. Thank You and More Power. 

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