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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
December-2002 Jurisprudence                 

  • Adm. Case No. 5394 December 2, 2002 - RIZALINO FERNANDEZ v. ATTY. REYNALDO NOVERO, JR.

  • A.C. No. 5398 December 3, 2002 - ANTONIO A. ALCANTARA v. ATTY. MARIANO PEFIANCO

  • A.C. No. 5763 December 3, 2002 - GABRIEL T. INGLES v. ATTY. VICTOR DELA SERNA

  • A.M. No. P-02-1552 December 3, 2002 - JUDGE ANTONIO C. REYES v. ALBERTO R. VIDOR

  • G.R. No. 125350 December 3, 2002 - HON. RTC JUDGES MERCEDES G. DADOLE, ET AL. v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT

  • G.R. No. 129788 December 3, 2002 - OROPEZA MARKETING CORPORATION, ET AL. v. ALLIED BANKING CORPORATION

  • G.R. No. 135048 December 3, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. LOMER MANDAO

  • G.R. Nos. 138361-63 December 3, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. JIMMY S. PLURAD

  • G.R. Nos. 140779-80 December 3, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. LAURITO S. ARRIOLA

  • G.R. No. 143978 December 3, 2002 - MANUEL B. TAN v. EDUARDO R. GULLAS and NORMA S. GULLAS

  • G.R. Nos. 145343-46 December 3, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. EDUARDO CALDERON

  • G.R. No. 146030 December 3, 2002 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. HEIRS OF FELIPE ALEJAGA SR.

  • G.R. No. 154072 December 3, 2002 - ALFREDO S. PAGUIO v. PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE CO., INC., ET AL.

  • A.M. No. MTJ-02-1402 December 4, 2002 - ABRAHAM L. MENDOVA v. CRISANTO B. AFABLE

  • G.R. No. 137914 December 4, 2002 - JOHNSON LEE and SONNY MORENO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 139950 December 4, 2002 - SPS. ANACLETO and AVELINA MAURICIO v. COURT OF APPEALS (Fourteenth Division), ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144293 December 4, 2002 - JOSUE R. LADIANA v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 147968 December 4, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ROGELIO BITANCOR alias "BOY

  • G.R. No. 151370 December 4, 2002 - ASIA PACIFIC CHARTERING (PHILS.) INC. v. MARIA LINDA R. FAROLAN

  • G.R. No. 127904 December 5, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ESTEBAN VICTOR y PENIS

  • G.R. No. 131923 December 5, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. NIEL C. PIEDAD, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 145522 December 5, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ZOSIMO CANTOMAYOR y TAHUM alias JESUS

  • G.R. No. 153947 December 5, 2002 - ANTONIO I. RODRIGUEZ v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (NLRC)

  • A.M. No. 01-3-173-RTC December 9, 2002 - REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED IN THE RTC, BACOLOD CITY, BRANCH 46

  • G.R. No. 134784 December 9, 2002 - CARLOS M. ARCONA v. THE COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 139054 December 9, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. PABLITO BELLO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 141800 December 9, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ELENO P. PARACALE

  • G.R. No. 143783 December 9, 2002 - DANTE SARRAGA v. BANCO FILIPINO SAVINGS AND MORTGAGE BANK

  • G.R. No. 145425 December 9, 2002 - SALVADOR K. MOLL v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. MTJ-02-1466 December 10, 2002 - CORAZON GUERRERO v. JUDGE MARCIAL M. DERAY

  • B.M. No. 979 and 986 December 10, 2002 - RE: 1999 BAR EXAMINATIONS v. MARK ANTHONY A. PURISIMA

  • G.R. No. 139802 December 10, 2002 - VICENTE C. PONCE v. ALSONS CEMENT CORPORATION, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 146452-53 December 10, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ARTEMIO D. OCHEA

  • G.R. No. 146927 December 10, 2002 - MARCELO G. TUAZON, ET AL. v. GUILLERMO GODOY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 150605 December 10, 2002 - EUFROCINO M. CODILLA, SR. v. JOSE DE VENECIA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 142131 December 11, 2002 - SPS. DARIO and MATILDE LACAP v. JOUVET ONG LEE

  • G.R. No. 142277 December 11, 2002 - ARWOOD INDUSTRIES v. D.M. CONSUNJI

  • G.R. No. 150870 December 11, 2002 - HONORATA G. BAYLON v. FACT-FINDING INTELLIGENCE BUREAU

  • A.M. No. MTJ-99-1224 December 12, 2002 - P/SINSP. OMEGA JIREH D. FIDEL v. JUDGE FELIX A. CARAOS

  • G.R. No. 147943 December 12, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. RICO B. BAGAUA

  • A.M. No. MTJ-00-1308 December 16, 2002 - BONIFACIO LAW OFFICE v. Judge REYNALDO B. BELLOSILLO

  • G.R. No. 121159 December 16, 2002 - VSC COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122720 December 16, 2002 - C & S FISHFARM CORPORATION v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 146106 December 16, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FERNANDO VILLANUEVA, JR.

  • A.M. No. MTJ-00-1252 December 17, 2002 - NELSON RODRIGUEZ and RICARDO CAMACHO v. JUDGE RODOLFO S. GATDULA

  • G.R. No. 125352 December 17, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. RICARDO G. SANTOS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 136427 December 17, 2002 - SONIA F. LONDRES, ET AL. v. THE COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 136768 December 17, 2002 - HUGO ADOPTANTE v. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 147200 December 17, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. JOSEPHRE TAJADA

  • G.R. No. 147649 December 17, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. FRANK LOBRIGAS

  • G.R. No. 147836 December 17, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. PHILIP HAMMER

  • G.R. No. 148571 December 17, 2002 - GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. HON. GUILLERMO G. PURGANAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148919 December 17, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. TERESA CORPUZ y VARGAS and MARCY SANTOS y JAVIER

  • G.R. No. 149736 December 17, 2002 - MELANIO L. MENDOZA and MARIO E. IBARRA v. COMELEC and LEONARDO B. ROMAN

  • G.R. No. 153199 December 17, 2002 - GENERAL MILLING CORPORATION v. NLRC and DATIVO M. CACHO

  • A.M. No. 2002-8-SC December 18, 2002 - ZENAIDA DE GUZMAN v. ANTONIO DELOS SANTOS

  • G.R. No. 139033 December 18, 2002 - JOVENDO DEL CASTILLO v. HON. ROSARIO TORRECAMPO

  • G.R. No. 140647 December 18, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ANTONIO ANSOWAS y AMPATIN

  • G.R. No. 144634 December 18, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. AURELIO R. CRUZ

  • G.R. No. 149906 December 26, 2002 - Spouses HORACIO and FELISA BENITO v. AGAPITA SAQUITAN-RUIZ

  • G.R. No. 150240 December 26, 2002 - CORINTHIAN REALTY v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Case No. 4766 December 27, 2002 - T’BOLI AGRO-INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT v. ATTY. NEPTHALI P. SOLILAPSI

  • A.M. No. MTJ 02-1419 December 27, 2002 - EDUARDO M. MARTINEZ v. JUDGE ORLANDO C. PAGUIO

  • A.M. No. P-01-1493 December 27, 2002 - VICENTA MALAGGAN, ET AL. v. FRANCISCO C. MABAZZA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120004 December 27, 2002 - ILUMINADA DE GUZMAN v. COURT OF APPEALS and JORGE ESGUERRA

  • G.R. No. 122502 December 27, 2002 - LORENZO M. SARMIENTO, JR., ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 128823-24 December 27, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. PEDRO FLORES

  • G.R. No. 129874 December 27, 2002 - JOAN M. FLORES v. HON. FRANCISCO C. JOVEN, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 130714 and 139634 December 27, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. DONEL GO and VAL DE LOS REYES

  • G.R. No. 134506 December 27, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. CORLITO C. LINDO and FEDERICO C. LINDO

  • G.R. No. 139256 December 27, 2002 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. SULPICIO TANCINCO

  • G.R. No. 139458 December 27, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ESTEBAN CANTILA

  • G.R. No. 139479 December 27, 2002 - PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK v. NEPOMUCENO PRODUCTIONS, INC., Et. Al.

  • G.R. No. 139694 December 27, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. CENON C. PAGSANJAN

  • G.R. No. 140209 December 27, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ZAINUDIN DALANDAS

  • G.R. No. 142577 December 27, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. RUPERTO RAMOS

  • G.R. No. 144025 December 27, 2002 - SPS. RENE and LERIO GONZAGA v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148825 December 27, 2002 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. SUSAN CANTON

  • G.R. No. 154278 December 27, 2002 - VICTORY LINER v. HEIRS OF ANDRES MALECDAN

  • G.R. No. 153666 December 27, 2002 - DIONISIO L. TORRES and ENRICO M. ALVAREZ v. HON. FRANCIS F. GARCHITORENA

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 149736   December 17, 2002 - MELANIO L. MENDOZA and MARIO E. IBARRA v. COMELEC and LEONARDO B. ROMAN

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    EN BANC

    [G.R. No. 149736. December 17, 2002.]

    MELANIO L. MENDOZA and MARIO E. IBARRA, Petitioners, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and LEONARDO B. ROMAN, Respondents.

    R E S O L U T I O N


    For resolution is a petition for certiorari filed by petitioners Melanio L. Mendoza and Mario E. Ibarra, seeking to set aside the resolution of the Commission on Elections, dated August 15, 2001, in EPC No. 2001-5 and to declare respondent Leonardo B. Roman’s election as governor of Bataan on May 14, 2001 as null and void for allegedly being contrary to Art. X, 8 of the Constitution, which provides that:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.

    After due deliberation, the Court voted 8 to 7 to DISMISS the petition.

    VITUG, J., joined by YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., voted to dismiss the petition. He contended that as revealed by the records of the Constitutional Commission, the Constitution envisions a continuous and an uninterrupted service for three full terms before the proscription applies. Therefore, not being a full term, a recall term should not be counted or used as a basis for the disqualification whether served prior (as in this case) or subsequent (as in the Socrates case) to the nine-year, full three-term limit.

    MENDOZA, J., in whose opinion QUISUMBING, J. joined, voted to dismiss the petition on the ground that, in accordance with the ruling in Borja, Jr. v. COMELEC, 295 SCRA 157 (1998); Arcos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 133639, Oct. 6, 1998 (res.); Lonzanida v. COMELEC, 311 SCRA 602 (1999); and Adormeo v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 147927, Feb. 4, 2002, a term during which succession to a local elective office takes place or a recall election is held should not be counted in determining whether an elective local official has served more than three consecutive terms. He argued that the Constitution does not prohibit elective local officials from serving for more than three consecutive terms because, in fact, it excludes from the three-term limit interruptions in the continuity of service, so long as such interruptions are not due to the voluntary renunciation of the office by an incumbent. Hence, the period from June 28, 1994 to June 30, 1995, during which respondent Leonardo B. Roman served as governor of Bataan by virtue of a recall election held in 1993, should not be counted. Since on May 14, 2001 respondent had previously served as governor of Bataan for only two consecutive terms (1995–1998 and 1998–2001), his election on that day was actually only his third term for the same position.

    PANGANIBAN, J., joined by PUNO, J., also voted to dismiss the petition. He argued that a recall term should not be considered as one full term, because a contrary interpretation would in effect cut short the elected official’s service to less than nine years and shortchange his constituents. The desire to prevent monopoly of political power should be balanced against the need to uphold the voters’ obvious preference who, in the present case, is Roman who received 97 percent of the votes cast. He explained that, in Socrates, he also voted to affirm the clear choice of the electorate, because in a democracy the people should, as much as legally possible, be governed by leaders freely chosen by them in credible elections. He concluded that, in election cases, when two conflicting legal positions are of almost equal weight, the scales of justice should be tilted in favor of the people’s overwhelming choice.

    AZCUNA, J., joined by BELLOSILLO, J., also voted to dismiss, arguing that it is clear from the constitutional provision that the disqualification applies only if the terms are consecutive and the service is full and continuous. Hence, service for less than a term, except only in case of voluntary renunciation, should not count to disqualify an elective local official from running for the same position. This case is different from Socrates, where the full three consecutive terms had been continuously served so that disqualification had clearly attached.

    On the other hand, SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J., with whom DAVIDE, C.J., and AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, CORONA, and CALLEJO, SR., JJ., concurred, holds the view that the recall term served by respondent Roman, comprising the period June 28, 1994 to June 30, 1995, should be considered as one term. Since he thereafter served for two consecutive terms from 1995 to 1998 and from 1998 to 2001, his election on May 14, 2001 was actually his fourth term and contravenes Art. X, 8 of the Constitution. For this reason, she voted to grant the petition and to declare respondent’s election on May 14, 2001 as null and void.

    CARPIO, J., joined by CARPIO-MORALES, J., also dissented and voted to grant the petition. He held that a recall term constitutes one term and that to totally ignore a recall term in determining the three-term limit would allow local officials to serve for more than nine consecutive years contrary to the manifest intent of the framers of the Constitution. He contended that respondent Roman’s election in 2001 cannot exempt him from the three-term limit imposed by the Constitution.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    WHEREFORE, THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI IS DISMISSED.

    THE SEPARATE OPINIONS OF THE JUSTICES ARE HERETO ATTACHED AS PART OF THIS RESOLUTION.

    Separate Opinions


    VITUG, J.:


    Petitioners would seek the disqualification of respondent Leonardo B. Roman on the ground of his having transgressed the three-term limit under Section 8, Article X, of the 1987 Constitution and Section 43 of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code), providing, respectively, that —

    "Sec. 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected." 1

    "Sec. 43. Term of Office. — (a) The term of office of all local elective officials elected after the effectivity of this Code shall be three (3) years, starting from noon of June 30, 1992 or such date as may be provided for by law, except that of elective barangay officials: Provided, That all local officials first elected during the local elections immediately following the ratification of the 1987 Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30, 1992.

    "(b) No local elective official shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms in the same position. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official concerned was elected." 2

    Respondent Leonardo B. Roman held the post of Governor of Bataan province a number of times; viz:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    TERMS MANNER OF ASSUMPTION

    a) 1986–1988 Appointed OIC Governor of Bataan

    by former President Corazon

    Aquino and served up to 1988.

    b) 1988–1992 Elected Governor and served up to

    1992.

    c) 1994–1995 Elected Governor during the

    RECALL election in 1993, assumed

    office on 28 June 1994 and served

    up to 1995.

    d) 1995–1998 Elected Governor and served up to

    1998.

    e) 1998–2001 Elected Governor and served up to 2001. 3

    On 22 February 2001, private respondent Roman again filed a certificate of candidacy for the same post in the 14th May 2001 regular elections. On 16 May 2001, Leonardo Roman was proclaimed by the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Bataan.

    The focal issue presented before the Court in the instant petition would revolve on the question of whether or not private respondent Roman exceeded the three-term limit for elective local officials, expressed in the Constitution and the Local Government Code, when he again ran for the position of Governor in the 14th May 2001 elections, having occupied and served in that position following the 1993 recall elections, as well as the 1995 and 1998 regular elections, immediately prior to the 2001 elections. In fine, should respondent’s incumbency to the post of Governor following the recall elections be included in determining the three-consecutive term limit fixed by law?

    In order that the three-consecutive term limit can apply, two conditions must concur, i.e., (1) that the elective local official concerned has been elected for three consecutive terms to the same local government position, and (2) that he has served three consecutive full terms, albeit a voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be deemed to be an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which he is elected. The constitutional provision does not appear to be all that imprecise for and in its application. Section 8, Article X, of the Constitution is explicit that the "term of office of elective local officials . . . shall be three years" which phrase is forthwith followed by its mandate that "no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms," and that" (v)oluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he (is) elected." The law evidently contemplates a continuous full three-year term before the proscription can apply.

    The Constitutional Commission, in its deliberations, referred to a full nine (9) years of service for each elective local government official in the application of the prohibition, envisioning at the same time a continuous and uninterrupted period of nine years by providing for only one exception, i.e., when an incumbent voluntarily gives up the office.

    Thus, we read from the records —

    "MR. MONSOD.

    Madam President, I think the vote on continuous service of nine years for the Members of the House of Representatives or the lifetime limitation of three terms has a very serious implication. The interpretation of Commissioner Davide in the case of the Members of the House is that they are allowed three consecutive terms. They can hibernate for one term and can have another three terms.

    "The interpretation of Commissioner Garcia is that the limitation of three terms is a lifetime limitation. This is a very important distinction for the future; and perhaps, this should be discussed or at least we can think about it a little longer, rather than vote on it immediately.

    "MR. ROMULO.

    I withdraw the motion, Madam President. We can handle this after lunch.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    Can we have the proposals now, so that when we resume, we are ready to vote on these?

    "MR. ROMULO.

    Madam President, in essence, is it the Davide interpretation or is it the Garcia interpretation?

    "Madam President, if it is the Davide interpretation . . .

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    May we state that the interpretation of Commissioner Davide or whatever proposal Commissioner Davide will say now is the proposal of the Committee on the Legislative as part of its committee report?

    "MR. DAVIDE.

    Yes.

    "MR. ROMULO.

    Yes, Madam President.

    "MR. DAVIDE.

    We want a vote on that particular issue so the Committee can now finalize the substitute proposal in the draft.

    "MR. GUINGONA.

    Madam President, as manifested by Commissioner Monsod, this is a very important question. Maybe we could allow one speaker to explain very briefly each side of the issue.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    Can we have those speeches after lunch?

    "MR. GUINGONA.

    Yes, Madam President.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    I would just like to have the proposals now so that during lunch break, at least we can think about them, although I suppose we will have some indigestion in the process. May we now have the proposal we are going to speak about or vote on when we resume the session?

    "MR. ROMULO.

    Yes, the Garcia interpretation. Madam President.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    We ask Commissioner Garcia to please state his interpretation.

    "MR. GARCIA.

    I propose that the local officials be reelected twice and that they be prohibited from running again after a total term of nine years in public service for the same office.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    How about the Congressmen?

    "MR. GARCIA.

    This is both for the Representatives and the local officials.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    All right, for both Representatives and the local officials.

    "MR. ROMULO.

    I think the same question can be raised as to Senators.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    Senators have one reelection.

    "MR. RODRIGO.

    Before we take our lunch break, may I ask Commissioner Garcia a question on his proposal.

    "Let us say, a mayor has served for nine years, can he, after that, run as governor?

    "MR. GARCIA.

    He can run for other offices if he wishes.

    "MR. RODRIGO.

    As long as it is another office.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    May we have the other proposal.

    "MR. ROMULO.

    Commissioner Davide would like to be recognized.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    Commissioner Davide is recognized.

    "MR. DAVIDE.

    The other proposal, Madam President, is: These officials who can seek two reelections can serve for a total term of nine years, after that, they cannot seek another reelection. They should rest for one term or more, but it will not bar them from running again after the lapse of the term following the expiration of the nine-year period.

    "x       x       x.

    "MR. ROMULO.

    We are now ready to discuss the two issues, as indicated on the blackboard, and these are Alternative No. 1 where there is no further election after a total of three terms and Alternative No. 2 where there is no immediate reelection after three successive terms.

    "The proponents are now ready to explain briefly. I ask that Commissioner Garcia be recognized.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    Commissioner Garcia is recognized to speak on Alternative No. 1.

    "MR. GARCIA.

    I would like to advocate the proposition that no further election for local and legislative officials be allowed after a total of three terms or nine years. I have four reasons why I would like to advocate this proposal, which are as follows: (1) to prevent monopoly of political power; (2) to broaden the choice of the people; (3) so that no one is indispensable in running the affairs of the country; and (4) to create a reserve of statesmen both in the national and local levels. May I explain briefly these four reasons.

    "x       x       x.

    "Turnovers in public office after nine years will ensure that new ideas and new approaches will be welcome. Public office will no longer be a preserve of conservatism and tradition. At the same time, we will create a reserve of statesmen, both in the national and local levels, since we will not deprive the community of the wealth of experience and advice that could come from those who have served for nine years in public office.

    "x       x       x.

    "MR. REGALADO.

    May I just ask Commissioner Garcia for a clarification. Under Alternative No. 1, which says: ‘No further election after a total of three terms,’ the three terms referred to here need not have been served consecutively?

    "MR. GARCIA.

    The Commissioner is correct, madam President.

    "MR. REGALADO.

    In other words, whether there were interruptions, whether the interruption took over a span of 20 or 25 years, as long as he has been in that office for a total of nine years, he is banned from running for the same office.

    "MR. GARCIA.

    The Commissioner is right, madam President.

    "MR. REGALADO.

    Thank you.

    "MR. ROMULO.

    I ask that Commissioner Monsod be recognized.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    Commissioner Monsod is recognized.

    "MR. MONSOD.

    Madam President, I was reflecting on this issue earlier and I asked to speak because in this draft Constitution, we are recognizing people’s power. We have said that now there is a new awareness, a new kind of voter, a new kind of Filipino. And yet at the same time, we are prescreening candidates among whom they will choose. We are saying that this 48-member Constitutional Commission has decreed that those who have served for a period of nine years are barred from running for the same position.

    "x       x       x.

    "THE PRESIDENT.

    Commissioner de Castro is recognized.

    "MR. DE CASTRO.

    Thank you, Madam President.

    "I think the issue is on Alternative No. 1 which is: ‘no further election after a total of three terms.’ I will just put into action what we have approved this morning which is Scheme No. II, providing for a term of three years for the Members of the Lower House of Congress and a term of three years also for the local officials, from governor down. We also approved this morning the alternative that the Members of the Lower House shall have only two reelections, meaning, one basic election plus two reelections will give them three terms in the House; that the local officials shall have two reelections, meaning, one basic election plus two reelections or three terms. Let us compare that now to the number of years in accordance with Scheme No. II. Under Scheme No. II, the Members of the Lower House and the local officials shall serve for the firm term of not three years but five years so that we can synchronize elections after that for every three years. So the Representatives have already a term of five years on the first term, and another of six years. So they will serve for eleven years before they will be disqualified under that first issue. I understand that the three terms mentioned there are only for nine years. It is not so if we follow what we approved this morning.

    "In the case of the Senators, we approved that there is one reelection. Under Scheme No. II, the Senators will have a term of five years for the first election, and one reelection for a term of six years, which will give them a total term of eleven years.

    "Where does Alternative No. 1 stand now? May I ask the proponent where it stands now? Is it for nine years or for two reelections as we approved this morning? May I ask the proponent of Alternative No. 1, Madam President.

    "MR. GARCIA.

    I am sorry but I think there are two different questions here: for the term of office of the Senators, it is a maximum of 12 years; for the Representatives, it is a maximum of nine years.

    "MR. DE CASTRO.

    What happens now to what we approved this morning? We approved Scheme No. II which provides a term of five years for the Representatives.

    "MR. GARCIA.

    I am sorry again, but for the first election, the term of office will have to be fixed by the Commission on Elections simply for adjustment purposes because of the current term of the President, for synchronization and for transitory purposes. But once it is regularized, it will be different.

    "MR. DE CASTRO.

    Is it a total of nine years?

    "MR. GARCIA.

    Yes, it is still a total of nine years.

    "MR. DE CASTRO.

    Excluding those who were first elected under Scheme No. II?

    "MR. GARCIA.

    Proper adjustments will have to be made for the first election.

    "MR. DE CASTRO.

    Who will make the proper adjustments?

    "MR. GARCIA.

    The Commission on Elections will make the proper adjustments.

    "MR. DE CASTRO.

    And what proper adjustments can it do?

    "MR. GARCIA.

    To make sure that the term is not more than nine years, if possible and if not, we can give them a term of more or less one or two years, depending on how it can be adjusted.

    "x       x       x.

    "MR. ABUBAKAR.

    So if the people find that their Representative is competent, we must have confidence in them because they know their Representative has demonstrated his competence by action, because he lives with them. Why should we defy the wishes of the people of that district? Let one Gentleman answer me and it be on record that he is against my position. As I said, the voice of the people is the voice of God. We should not dictate what the people want. Why should we arrogate unto ourselves the right of that district or that province to choose its leaders and limit their total number of years of service to only nine years?

    "I would not speak for Batangas nor speak for Laguna, because their people have the right to choose their own Representatives for a term that they think is appropriate. We cannot speak for Sulu or even for Cotabato because the situation is different. Maybe we will have more leaders or maybe we will have only one of our faith and our confidence. Why limit his total number of years of service to nine years?" 4 (Emphasis provided)

    A winner who dislodges in a recall election an incumbent elective local official merely serves the balance of the latter’s term of office; it is not a full three-year term. It also goes without saying that an incumbent elective local official against whom a recall election is initiated and who nevertheless wins in a recall election must be viewed as being a continuing term of office and not as a break in reckoning his three consecutive terms. 5 In Lonzanida v. Commission on Elections, 6 this Court has held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    ". . . The clear intent of the framers of the constitution to bar any attempt to circumvent the three-term limit by a voluntary renunciation of office and at the same time respect the people’s choice and grant their elected official full service of a term is evident in this provision. Voluntary renunciation of a term does not cancel the renounced term in the computation of the three-term limit; conversely, involuntary severance from office for any length of time short of the full term provided by law amounts to an interruption of continuity of service." 7

    If involuntary severance from the service which results in the incumbent’s being unable to finish his term of office because of his ouster through valid recall proceedings negates "one term" for purposes of applying the three-term limit, as so intimated in Lonzanida, it stands to reason that the balance of the term assumed by the newly elected local official in a recall election should not also be held to be one term in reckoning the three-term limit. In both situations, neither the elective local official who is unable to finish his term nor the elected local official who only assumes the balance of the term of the ousted local official following the recall election could be considered to have served a full three-year term set by the Constitution.

    This view is not inconsistent, but indeed in line, with the conclusion ultimately reached in Socrates v. Commission on Elections, 8 where the Court has considered Hagedorn, following his three full terms of nine years, still qualified to run in a recall election conducted about a year and a half after the most recent regular local elections. A recall election term then, not being a full three-year term, is not to be counted or used as a basis for disqualification whether it is held prior or subsequent to the nine-year full three-term limit.

    This same issue has been passed and ruled upon by the Commission on Elections no less than five times. 9 Consistently, it has held that the term of a newcomer in recall elections cannot be counted as a full term and may not thus be included in counting the three-term limit prescribed under the law. The Commission on Elections, with its fact-finding facilities, its familiarity with political realities, and its peculiar expertise in dealing with election controversies, should be in a good vantage point to resolve issues of this nature. Concededly, no ready made formulae are always extant to address occasional complex issues, allowing time and experience to merely evolve and ultimately provide acceptable solutions. In the administration of election laws, it would be unsound by an excessive zeal to remove from the Commission on Elections the initiative it takes on such questions which, in fact, by legal mandate properly belong to it. 10

    Nor should it be ignored that the law here involved is a limitation on the right of suffrage not only on the candidate for office but also, and most importantly, on the electorate. Respondent Roman has won the election to the post of Governor of Bataan with a comfortable margin against his closest opponent. Where a candidate appears to be the clear choice of the people, doubts on the candidate’s eligibility, even only as a practical matter, must be so resolved as to respect and carry out, not defeat, the paramount will of the electorate. While the Constitution would attempt to prevent the monopolization of political power, indeed a wise rule, the precept of preserving the freedom of choice of the people on who shall rightfully hold the reins of government for them is no less than fundamental in looking at its overriding intent.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    WHEREFORE, I vote to DISMISS the instant petition on the foregoing theses.

    MENDOZA, J.:



    Respondent Leonardo B. Roman was elected governor of Bataan in a recall election held in 1993 and served in that capacity for one year, from June 28, 1994 to June 30, 1995. Thereafter, he was elected to the same office in the regular elections of May 8, 1995 and May 11, 1998. Up to that point, he had served a total of seven (7) years. On May 14, 2001, he ran for reelection unopposed and won by a landslide, receiving 183,730 votes. The question is whether his last election violates the three-term limit in the Constitution considering that at that time he had served for only seven (7) consecutive years.

    Article X, 8 of the Constitution provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.

    In several cases 1 decided over the past four years, this Court held that the application of this provision requires the concurrence of two elements: (1) election in regular elections for three consecutive terms and (2) service for the full terms, each consisting of three years, for which the local official was elected. Thus, in the first case, Borja, Jr. v. COMELEC, decided on September 3, 1998, this Court held that a vice mayor, who had succeeded to the office of mayor of Pateros, Rizal, was qualified to run for the same position in three successive regular elections without running afoul of the constitutional prohibition in question.

    The same ruling was made in Arcos v. COMELEC, decided on October 6, 1998: Respondent, who as vice mayor of Legaspi City had become mayor by succession on December 2, 1991 and had been elected to the same position in 1992 and again in 1995, was qualified to run in 1998. Said the Court:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Indeed, on facts similar to those in the case at bar, this Court recently held in Benjamin U. Borja, Jr. v. COMELEC, supra, that the constitutional provision which provides that "no (elective) local official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms in the same position" contemplates instances where an individual has not only fully served three consecutive terms in the same elective local office but has also been elected to the same position for the same number of times.

    The ruling in Borja, Jr. was applied to a recall election in Lonzanida v. COMELEC, decided on July 28, 1999, in which it was held that a municipal mayor, who had been elected for three consecutive terms and whose third election had been declared void, was qualified to run for the same position in the immediately succeeding election. This was because said local official had not previously been elected in three successive elections nor had he served for three consecutive terms.

    The principle of Borja, Jr. was again applied in the recent case of Adormeo v. COMELEC, decided on February 4, 2002. This Court held that a municipal mayor, who had twice been elected to the same position and had lost in his bid for a third term, was qualified to run in the immediately succeeding election even if in the third term he had served in the same position by virtue of a recall election.

    It will thus be seen that, in all the cases, this Court did not count the term during which succession took place or a recall election was held in determining whether an elective local official had served for more than three consecutive terms. However, on November 12, 2002, this Court, while citing Borja, Jr. and its progenies — Arcos, Lonzanida and Adormeo — in effect overruled these precedents in Socrates v. COMELEC 2 by ruling that a city mayor, who had served for three consecutive terms, was qualified to run in a recall election held in the following term because of an "interruption" in the service caused by the holding of a regular election. The Court said:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    One cannot stitch together Hagedorn’s previous three-terms with his new recall term to make the recall term a fourth consecutive term because factually it is not. An involuntary interruption occurred from June 30, 2001 to September 24, 2002 which broke the continuity or consecutive character of Hagedorn’s service as mayor. [pp. 18-19] [A] necessary consequence of the interruption of continuity of service is the start of a new term following the interruption. An official elected in recall election serves the unexpired term of the recalled official. This unexpired term is in itself one term for purposes of counting the three-term limit. [p. 23] [Were it] otherwise, an elective local official who serves a recall term can serve for more than nine consecutive years comprising the recall term plus the regular three full terms. [p. 24] 3

    Although I reached the same result as the majority in that case, I dissented because I thought then — as I still do — that the local official in question was qualified to run in the recall election not because of any interruption or break in the continuity of his service but because the term for which he was elected was less than three years. As I pointed out, the ruling of the majority in that case was contrary to its professed basis because, while it would not count the term during which the recall election was held in determining the limit of the preceding terms, consistent with the ruling in Borja, Jr., Lonzamida and Adorneo, the majority in Socrates did so for the purpose of determining the limit of the next three consecutive terms which an elective local official would be entitled to serve.

    Indeed, it is error to think that, because a regular election is held between the end of three terms and the term during which a recall election is held, there occurs thereby "an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which [the official concerned] was elected" within the meaning of Art. X, 8. But it is "the continuity of the service for the full term" — not "the continuity of a full term" — that is in question. We are talking here of "interruption in the continuity of service," which can only refer to service which is being rendered. For after service for three consecutive terms has been rendered there can be no more interruption of service. The local official concerned, who has served for three consecutive terms, can run in a recall election not because of any break in his service but because the term to which he is elected is less than three years.

    If, then, as in Socrates v. COMELEC, an elective local official can be elected in a recall election even if he has already previously served for three consecutive terms, 4 it should make no difference in principle that the recall election in which he is elected comes at the beginning of a series of three terms. The term for which he is elected is likewise less than three years and, therefore, it should likewise not be counted in determining how many consecutive terms he has served in all.

    To summarize, in applying the three-term limit, the term during which succession takes place or a recall election is held should not be counted, either with the three consecutive terms preceding, or with the three consecutive terms succeeding, such term. It should not be counted not because of any interruption in the continuity of the service but because such term is for less than three years. Hence, the unexpired portion of a term, whether filled by succession or by election in a recall, cannot be considered one full term. In the case at bar, since respondent Roman’s first election in 1993 was in consequence of a recall and not a regular election and he had not fully served three consecutive terms when he was elected on May 14, 2001, I submit with respect that his last election is valid.

    Indeed, the cases of Borja, Jr. and Arcos are on all fours with the instant case. In these cases it was held that a vice mayor who had succeeded to the office of mayor can serve for three more consecutive terms as such if elected after the expiration of the term during which he had served by succession. There is no reason why the result should be different simply because in this case respondent became governor by virtue of election in a recall, rather than by succession, before winning in three consecutive regular elections. Succession and recall election are alike. They are both modes of succession for the purpose of automatically filling permanent vacancies in elective local offices to prevent a hiatus in office. 5 The local official who succeeds to the office or is elected in a recall simply finishes the term of his predecessor.

    This is in contrast to a special election called to fill a vacancy either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. There the person elected wins a term even though it is for less than three years (in the case of Representatives) or six years (in the case of Senators) because, between the time the vacancy occurs and a special election is held, there is an appreciable period during which the vacancy exists so that the unexpired portion of the term is considered one term. There is no automatic succession in such case. It is even possible that the vacancy will not be filled because no special election has been called.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    It may be that Borja, Jr.’s interpretation of the three-term limit can result in giving an elective local official a longer tenure than the equivalent of three consecutive terms, which is nine years. But so let it be. The Constitution does not really prohibit service for more than three terms if continuity of service is interrupted by means other than the voluntary renunciation of the incumbent. To hold otherwise would result in limiting an elective local official’s term to less than three years, which is contrary to the Constitution. For as pointed out in Borja, Jr. v. COMELEC, the three-term limit in Art. X, 8 of the Constitution actually embodies two complementary and reinforcing ideas:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Two ideas thus emerge from a consideration of the proceedings of the Constitutional Commission. The first is the notion of service of term, derived from the concern about the accumulation of power as a result of a prolonged stay in office. The second is the idea of election, derived from the concern that the right of the people to choose those whom they wish to govern them be preserved. [I]ndeed, a fundamental tenet of representative democracy is that the people should be allowed to choose those whom they please to govern them [U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 US. 729, 131 LEd.2d 881 (1995)]. To bar the election of a local official because he has already served three terms, although the first as a result of succession by operation of law rather than election, would therefore be to violate this principle. 6

    FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, I vote to dismiss the petition in this case and to declare the election on May 14, 2001 of respondent Leonardo B. Roman, as governor of Bataan, valid.

    PANGANIBAN, J.:


    "In applying election laws, it would be far better to err in favor of popular sovereignty than to be right in complex but little understood legalisms . . . The real essence of justice does not emanate from quibblings over patchwork legal technicality. It proceeds from the spirit’s gut consciousness of the dynamic role of law as a brick in the ultimate development of the social edifice." 1

    The instant Petition seeks to unseat Private Respondent Leonardo B. Roman, incumbent provincial governor of Bataan, by reason of his allegedly having exceeded the three-term limit for elective local officials established by Section 8 of Article X of the Constitution; 2 as reiterated in Section 43(b) of RA 7160, the Local Government Code. 3

    Summation of the Facts and the Ponencia

    For a clearer understanding of the case, let me restate the relevant facts very briefly. Mr. Roman won in the 1993 recall election for governor of the Province of Bataan, assumed office on June 28, 1994, and served the remainder of the term which ended June 30, 1995. Thereafter, he was reelected in 1995, 1998 and 2001. Thus, he is now serving his ninth consecutive year as governor of Bataan.

    It is argued that the Petition should be granted, in the light mainly of Borja v. Comelec and Capco 4 and Lonzanida v. Comelec and Muli. 5 In these two cases, this Court held that two conditions or requirements must concur in order that the three-term limit may apply: first, the official concerned has been elected for three consecutive terms to the same local government post; and second, such official has fully served three consecutive terms.

    It is further contended that these two conditions or requirements have been satisfied in the instant case. Insofar as the first requirement is concerned, petitioners claim that Respondent Roman won in the recall election of 1993 and was reelected in 1995 and 1998; and with respect to the second requirement, he has already served a total of three consecutive terms — the recall term (the unexpired one year portion of the 1992–1995 term) being considered as one term — followed by the 1995–1998 and the 1998–2001 terms. They thus conclude that private respondent should be deemed disqualified to run in the 2001 elections, because an electoral victory on his part would have constituted his fourth consecutive term. Consequently, he is ineligible to serve his present term (2001–2004) as governor.

    In arriving at this conclusion, petitioners relied heavily on the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission on term limits; more specifically, on the opinion expressed by Commissioner (now Chief Justice) Hilario G. Davide Jr. (quoted in Borja). In his view, a senator or a congressman who would win a special election and serve the unexpired portion of the term of a predecessor would already be considered as having served one term for purposes of reckoning term limits.

    The Petition argues that the same principle must apply equally to the recall terms of local officials; otherwise the purpose of the three-term rule would be circumvented. That is, an elective local official who has first served a recall term (as in the case of Respondent Roman) would otherwise be elected to and hold the same elective position longer than three consecutive terms.

    The dissenters led by the esteemed Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez cite this Court’s very recent ruling in Socrates v. Comelec, 6 which held that" [a]n official elected in recall election serves the unexpired term of the recalled official. This unexpired term is in itself one term for purposes of counting the three-term limit. This is clear from the following discussion in the Constitutional Commission: . . . Although the discussion referred to special elections for Senators and Representatives of the House, the same principle applies to a recall election of local officials. Otherwise an elective local official who serves a recall term can serve for more than nine consecutive years comprising of the recall term plus the regular three full terms. A local official who serves a recall term should know that the recall term is in itself one term although less than three years. This is the inherent limitation he takes by running and winning in the recall election." 7 [Italics supplied]

    An Apparent Distinction That Does Not Make a Real Difference

    The dissenters’ overriding concern is the possibility that an elective local official, like Respondent Roman who first served a recall term, may be elected to and hold the same position longer than three consecutive terms. With all due respect, I believe that such concern is largely misplaced.

    The private respondent in Borja was a vice mayor who succeeded to the office of mayor of Pateros upon the death of the incumbent. After serving the latter’s unexpired term of two years and ten months, the former ran for and was elected mayor for three more terms of three years each. This Court ruled that he was not disqualified to serve the last term. The three-term rule did not apply to him, because his first term (his succession to the mayoralty) was not by virtue of an election but by operation of law.

    By not disqualifying the said respondent, the Court permitted him to hold the same office for an uninterrupted period totaling eleven years and ten months. How different is that case from the present one in which Respondent Roman, if allowed to serve out his current term, would be in office for a continuous period of only ten years? To argue and differentiate — that in one case there was succession to office and in the other a recall election — would be to quibble over an apparent distinction that does not make a real difference.

    Petitioners opine that in establishing term limits, the Constitution intended to prevent a local official from holding the same office for a period longer than three consecutive terms or a total of nine years. Note, however, that whether the initial accession to office was by virtue of succession/operation of law or by virtue of a recall election, the same evil (monopoly of political power) might still arise at some point down the road.

    In other words, the manner in which local officials first got into office is of no moment, whether or not they will later proceed to monopolize political power and perpetuate themselves in office. More plainly, one unusual mode of entry into public office would be simplistically favored over another if one official is allowed to serve more than three terms, on the ground that the excess was by virtue of a legal succession to a vacant office; and to disallow another from so serving, simply because the excess was by reason of a recall election. Specifically, assumption of office by operation of law would be favored over that by recall election.

    More significantly and disturbingly, such line of reasoning puts a higher premium on an accidental or opportunistic succession to office (for example, through the death of the incumbent local official) over a collective and earnest expression of the people’s sovereign will (as through a recall election).

    I cannot agree that a recall term must be deemed one full term for purposes of computing the number of successive terms allowed. Under this theory, Respondent Roman is disqualified from running for reelection in 2001 and thus ineligible to serve out his current term of office. This would in effect cut short his service to less than nine years (the recall term of one year plus two terms of 3 years each and the expired portion of his current term) and thereby effectively shortchange his constituents. It would in effect uphold legalism over the people’s will, the exercise of which was with the voters’ expectation that respondent would serve out his entire three-year term from 2001 to 2004.

    The Borja Doctrine Should Apply Equally to Succession and Recall

    I cannot help but ask how reducing the stay of Respondent Roman in office could possibly make more sense than allowing him to hold on for one year more than the nine years normally accorded to local officials. And here, the rationale in Borja seems to be altogether apropos: "To consider C in the third case to have served the first term in full and therefore ineligible to run a third time for reelection would be not only to falsify reality but also to unduly restrict the right of the people to choose whom they wish to govern them. . . . To consider C as eligible for reelection would be in accord with the understanding of the Constitutional Commission that while the people should be protected from the evils that a monopoly of political power may bring about, care should be taken that their freedom of choice is not unduly curtailed." 8

    Still on the concept of the recall term being one term, as mentioned earlier, the dissenters place much weight on the opinion expressed by then Commissioner Davide during the discussions of the Constitutional Commission on term limits. Nevertheless and with due respect, I see nothing in that exchange between him and Commissioner Suarez that would in any manner support the claim that the recall term of an elective local official must be treated as one term, in the same manner as the term of office of a senator or a congressman who wins in a special election is deemed as such.

    I have likewise scoured Borja, but found nothing that would support such a hypothesis. Indeed, the only reason the exchange between the two respected commissioners was quoted in that case was to highlight the difference between the situation of a vice mayor (an elective local official), who succeeds to the mayorship by operation of law; and that of a congressman, who is elected to fill a vacancy. In the latter instance, there is reason to regard the service of the unexpired term as the congressman’s first term for purposes of determining term limits. But that is neither here nor there, because that particular pronouncement in Borja does not in any way shed light on the issue in this case, which involves a recall term.

    Socrates’ Pronouncement on Recall Was Merely an Obiter

    This Court’s pronouncement in Socrates is of no avail either. The analysis therein, as quoted earlier, cannot be regarded as controlling insofar as the instant case is concerned. In that case, the main issue was whether a recall election that took place after the fourth consecutive election had taken place was to be deemed an "immediate reelection" to a fourth term. The Court answered "No," there was "no immediate reelection after three consecutive terms." May I quote below the rationale it articulated in that Decision:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Clearly, what the Constitution prohibits is an immediate reelection for a fourth term following three consecutive terms. The Constitution, however, does not prohibit a subsequent reelection for a fourth term as long as the reelection is not immediately after the end of the third consecutive term: A recall election midway in the term following the third executive term is a subsequent election but not immediate reelection after the third term." 9

    Obviously then, the issues in Socrates did not include the question whether a recall term should be considered one term for purposes of reckoning term limits. Therefore, the Court’s ratiocination and analysis that a recall term is one term for purposes of counting the three-term limit may be regarded merely as an obiter dictum.

    Thus, I find no firm or sound jurisprudential basis for considering the recall term of an elective local official as one term. Instead, I respectfully submit that, being much less than the full term involved in the case of Respondent Roman, it should not be counted as one term for purposes of reckoning the number of successive terms allowed; and that, consequently, he should not be considered as being in breach of the three-term limit.

    A Proper Balancing of Policies Is Needed

    Borja stressed the need to strike a balance between enforcing the policy of preventing the establishment of political dynasties and the policy of enhancing the freedom of choice of the people. And as held in Socrates, the concept of term limits is, by its very nature, a restraint on the sovereign will of the people to freely elect whomsoever they please. Term limits, though ensconced in the Constitution, must thus be construed delicately to prevent them from unduly subverting the manifest sovereign will of the electorate.

    I submit that term limits should refer and strictly apply to the normal or expected duration of electoral terms, barring unexpected or unforeseen contingencies such as acts of nature or political upheavals as in this case. As reiterated in Borja, the framers of the Constitution — in their deliberations on Article X, Section 8 — "were as much concerned with preserving the freedom of choice of the people as they were with preventing the monopolization of political power."cralaw virtua1aw library

    The Ponencia Would Result in Massive Disenfranchisement

    Moreover, I believe that applying the holding in Socrates to the instant case, thereby causing the unceremonious removal of the hapless governor from office, would be an unwarranted "reaching back." It would be a retroactive and inappropriate application of a jural doctrine to a situation that has never clearly and unmistakably violated any statutory or constitutional prohibition. Furthermore, to paraphrase Aquino v. Comelec, 10 a retroactive application of Socrates would lead to a massive disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters who, through no fault of theirs, voted in favor of candidates whom they believed (and who themselves believed that they) could be validly voted for.

    Such an unhappy result, triggered by a legal technicality, would go against the guiding principle in election law: that in every election, the people’s choice is the paramount consideration; and their expressed will must, at all times, be given effect. 11 Of similar import is our holding in Frivaldo v. Comelec, 12 reiterated in Torayno Sr. v. Comelec. 13 We held therein that our electoral laws must be liberally and equitably construed in order "to give fullest effect to the manifest will of our people, for in case of doubt, political laws must be interpreted to give life and spirit to the popular mandate freely expressed through the ballot. In other words, legal niceties and technicalities cannot stand in the way of the sovereign will." 14

    Obscure Legalisms Must Yield to Popular Sovereignty

    Needless to say, after having won the last election by an overwhelming margin, 15 Mr. Roman is unarguably the choice of the voters. This Court cannot simply turn a deaf ear to, much less stifle, the people’s voice. Elections and the contests attendant thereto involve public interest of the highest priority. Thus, technicalities and procedural barriers should not be allowed to stand, if they constitute an obstacle to the determination of the true will of the electorate in the choice of their elective officials.

    Verily, the resolution of this case hinges on a question of legal philosophy. Should this Court interpret election laws literally in favor of obscure legalisms? Or liberally in favor of upholding popular sovereignty? As held in Frivaldo:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "At balance, the question really boils down to a choice of philosophy and perception of how to interpret and apply laws relating to elections: literal or liberal; the letter or the spirit; the naked provision or its ultimate purpose; legal syllogism or substantial justice; in isolation or in the context of social conditions; harshly against or gently in favor of the voters’ obvious choice. In applying election laws, it would be far better to err in favor of popular sovereignty than to be right in complex but little understood legalisms. Indeed, to inflict a thrice rejected candidate upon the electorate of Sorsogon would constitute unmitigated judicial tyranny and an unacceptable assault upon this Court’s conscience." 16

    In conformity with the legal philosophy set forth above, I should point out that petitioners have not discharged their burden. They have not clearly demonstrated that the ineligibility of respondent governor is so patently antagonistic to constitutional and legal principles that overriding it and thereby giving effect to the people’s will would ultimately be more prejudicial to the democratic fundamentals and juristic traditions of our country.

    In Socrates, I voted with the majority, not so much because of the strict legal rationalization that a recall election midway to the fourth term was not an "immediate election" after three consecutive terms. Rather, I did so because the ponencia therein upheld the clear choice of the people: Mr. Edward Hagedorn. I could not in conscience vote to place in office Petitioner Dennis Socrates, who had clearly been defeated in the then just concluded recall election. Verily, this Court did not inflict a rejected candidate upon the people of Puerto Princesa, for such action would have constituted "judicial tyranny and an unacceptable assault" upon its own conscience.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    By the same token, to unseat herein Respondent Leonardo B. Roman, the sitting governor of Bataan, would constitute an unwelcome judicial imposition upon the people. To do so would be to remove the one who has won the clear popular mandate in an honest and credible election and to install in his place, by judicial fiat, an obscure candidate who has been absolutely rejected by the electorate, or another official (the vice governor) whom nobody voted for governor.

    At bottom, tortuous and contentious legal arguments can be made in favor of either (1) granting or (2) dismissing the herein Petition. In what would otherwise be a legal dead heat arising from two conflicting legal positions of almost equal weight, I believe that, in an election contest, the scales of justice should be tilted in favor of the people’s overwhelming choice. Indeed, as earlier alluded to in the quotation at the beginning of this Opinion, "in applying election laws, it would be far better to err in favor of popular sovereignty than to be right in complex but little understood legalisms." Finally, in a democracy, people should — as much as legally possible — be governed by leaders freely chosen by them during credible elections.

    WHEREFORE, in this instance, I choose to uphold popular sovereignty over complex and contentious legalisms and thus vote to DISMISS the Petition.

    SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:


    I regret I am unable to agree with the decision of the majority of my brethren and I find it my duty to express my dissent.

    The focal issue in the present petition for certiorari, 1 is whether a governor, elected in a recall election and who has held office for the unexpired term of his predecessor, is considered to have served a full term for the purpose of applying the three (3)-term limit under Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution.

    I take the affirmative stand.

    For a clearer understanding of my position, a brief review of the antecedents is imperative.

    Respondent Leonardo B. Roman held the post of governor of Bataan province for several terms, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    YEARS SERVED MANNER OF ASSUMPTION

    a) 1986–1988 Appointed OIC Governor of the province of

    Bataan by former President Corazon C. Aquino

    and served up to 1988

    b) 1988–1992 2 Elected Governor and served up to 1992

    c) 1994–1995 Elected Governor during the RECALL election in

    1993, assumed office on June 28, 1994 and served

    up to 1995

    d) 1995–1998 Elected Governor and served up to 1998

    e) 1998–2001 Elected Governor and served up to 2001

    f) 2001–2004 Elected Governor and presently the incumbent

    Governor of Bataan

    On May 25, 2001, petitioners Melanio Mendoza and Mario Ibarra, residents and registered voters of Tenejero, Balanga, Bataan, filed with the COMELEC en banc a petition for quo warranto, 3 docketed as EPC No. 2001-5. Petitioners alleged that respondent Roman has served as governor of Bataan for three (3) consecutive terms counted from his assumption of office by virtue of the 1993 recall election. As such, he is disqualified/ineligible to seek a fourth term for the same position in 2001, as he would violate the three-term limit for local elective positions. Petitioners thus prayed that respondent Roman’s proclamation as the elected governor of Bataan in the 2001 elections be nullified.

    In a Resolution dated August 15, 2001, the COMELEC dismissed petitioners’ petition for quo warranto on the ground that respondent Roman has not exceeded the three-term limit because his service by virtue of the 1993 recall election cannot be counted as a full term and, therefore, should not be considered in applying the three-term limit. The COMELEC’s ruling reads in part:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    ". . . We again state, for the record, that the term of respondent (Roman) from 1995–1998 was his second full term if reckoned from his first full term from 1988-1992 and only for purposes of applying the three (3)-term limit set forth by law. Hence, from the same reckoning point, the third term was from 1998-2001. This was so because the 1993 recall election was not counted as a full term and therefore, for purposes of the three-term limit, was not included in the counting. It constituted an interruption in the service of the full term of three (3) years which a local elective official should, under the law, serve fully for purposes of counting the term limit.

    "In the present case, the reckoning point is the 1995–1998 term of respondent, the 1995 elections being the first regular election from the interruption caused by the recall elections of 1993. Applying this new time frame for purposes of the 2001 elections, the first term of respondent was from 1995–1998. The second consecutive term was from 1998–2001 and the third term will commence from June 2001 to June 2004." 4 (emphasis added)

    Undaunted, petitioners come to this Court via the present petition maintaining that respondent Roman violated the three-term limit rule for local elective officials when he ran for reelection as governor in the 2001 elections and, therefore, his proclamation as such should be set aside.

    On February 26, 2002, Congressman Enrique T. Garcia, Jr. of the second district of Bataan filed a petition-in-intervention which was admitted by this Court in its Resolution of March 19, 2002. 5 As a registered voter and Representative of his district, he joins petitioners in questioning the eligibility of respondent Roman.

    In his comment 6 on the petition, respondent Roman contends that he is eligible to run in the May 14, 2001 elections "for the Office of Governor in the Province of Bataan" since he did not serve the full 1992–1995 term; what he served was only "the unexpired portion of Governor Enrique ‘Tet’ Garcia’s 1992 to 1995 term." 7 In support of his contention respondent Roman cites Lonzanida v. Comelec 8 which held that the official concerned should have fully served three consecutive terms in the same local government post for the three-term limit to apply.

    For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) argued that the petition to declare respondent Roman’s disqualification should be dismissed on the ground that a recall election is not a regular election. 9 As such, service of an official elected in a recall election should not be counted as a full term.

    I find the petition meritorious.

    Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Sec. 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law shall be three years and no such officials shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected." (emphasis added)

    The above constitutional provision is echoed in Section 43 (b) of the Local Government Code (Republic Act No. 7160), which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Sec. 43. Term of Office. — . . .

    "(b) No local elective official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms in the same position. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official concerned was elected." (emphasis added)

    In applying the three-term limit to an elective official, the foregoing constitutional and statutory provisions provide that (1) he should have been elected to a public office; and (2) he should have served three consecutive terms for the same elective position. These two requirements are present in the instant case, thus barring respondent from serving as governor of Bataan from 2001 to 2004.

    It bears emphasis that the said constitutional and statutory provisions on term limits make no distinction as to the nature of the election — whether regular, special or recall elections. The elementary rule in statutory construction is that where the law does not distinguish, the courts should make no distinction (Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguire debemos). 10 Indeed, these provisions do not confine the three-term rule to regular elections only. They include any election (such as recall election) for the same position. As this Court ruled in Borja, Jr. v. Commission on Elections and Jose T. Capco, through Mr. Justice Vicente V. Mendoza: 11

    ". . . Art. X, Section 8 contemplates service by local officials for three consecutive terms as a result of election. The first sentence speaks of ‘the term of office of elective local officials’ and bars ‘such officials’ from serving for more than three consecutive terms. The second sentence, in explaining when an elective local official may be deemed to have served his full term of office, states that ‘voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.’ The term served must therefore be one ‘for which [the official concerned] was elected.’ The purpose of this provision is to prevent a circumvention of the limitation on the number of terms an elective local official may serve. . . . ." (emphasis added)

    This Court has further ruled in Claudio v. Commission on Elections, 12 also through Mr. Justice Mendoza, that "election" includes recall "by means of which voters decide whether they should retain their local official or elect his replacement."cralaw virtua1aw library

    On the requirement that the official should have served three consecutive terms, then Commissioner Hilario G. Davide, Jr., now Chief Justice of this Court, expressed the following opinion in answer to a query during the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Commissioner Suarez: For example, a special election is called for a Senator, and the Senator newly elected would have to serve the unexpired portion of the term. Would that mean that serving the unexpired portion of the term is already considered one term? So, half a term, which is actually the correct statement, plus one term would disqualify the Senator concerned from running? Is that the meaning of this provision on disqualification, Madam President?

    "Commissioner Davide: Yes, because we speak of ‘term,’ and if there is a special election, he will serve only for the unexpired portion of that particular term plus one more term for the Senator and two more terms for the Members of the Lower House." 13 (emphasis added)

    While the above discussion on term limits specifically refers to special elections for Senators and Representatives, the same principle equally applies to a recall term of local officials. The constitutional provision is explicit that "the term of office of elective local officials, . . . shall be three years and no such officials shall serve for more than three consecutive terms." In other words, the Constitution limits the service of elective local officials to a total of nine consecutive years. To exclude the service of such official who won the recall election would certainly permit a circumvention of the purpose of the three-term rule, since he may hold the same elective position longer than three consecutive terms, or more than the maximum nine consecutive years, as in the case of respondent Roman. In the recent case of Socrates v. Comelec, 14 this Court en banc, speaking through Mr. Justice Antonio T. Carpio, ruled:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "This is clear from the following discussion in the Constitutional Commission: . . . . Although the discussion referred to special elections for Senators and Representatives of the House, the same principle applies to a recall election of local officials. Otherwise, an elective local official who serves a recall term can serve for more than nine consecutive years comprising of the recall term plus the regular three full terms. . . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

    At this juncture, it bears stressing that the object of the three-term limit is to forestall the accumulation of massive political power by an elective local official who intends to perpetuate himself in office. Another purpose is to broaden the choices of the electorate of the candidates who will run for office, and to infuse new blood in the political arena by disqualifying officials from running for the same office after serving nine (9) consecutive years. 15 It is in the light of these objectives that this Court should interpret the constitutional proscription. 16 The courts, in construing the Constitution, should consider the object sought to be accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if any, sought to be prevented or remedied.

    As shown earlier, respondent Roman served as governor of Bataan from 1986 up to the present. To date, he has perpetuated himself in the said position for more than sixteen years. Is this not precisely the vice that the framers of the Constitution intended to avert in prescribing the three-term limit rule? To say that a recall term is not a full term is to provide a fertile ground for circumventing the three-term limit rule. As in the construction of statutes, the Constitution should be construed not so much according to the letter that killeth but in line with the purpose for which it has been enacted. The Constitution is to be given such construction as will advance its object, suppress or prevent the evil it seeks to avoid, and secure the benefits intended. The interpretation of the Constitution should be done with a view to realizing its fundamental objective. 17

    This Court, just a month ago, emphatically declared in Socrates 18 that although an official elected in a recall election serves the unexpired term of the recalled official, this "unexpired term is in itself one term for purposes of counting the three-term limit." It went further in saying that a "local official who serves a recall term should know that (such) term is in itself one term although less than three years. This is the inherent limitation he takes by running and winning in the recall election." It now boggles my mind why the majority has made a complete turn-around and totally disregarded this significant pronouncement which could have given life to the constitutional mandate.

    In the law of public officers, there is a settled distinction between term and tenure. Term means the time during which the officer may claim to hold the office as a matter of right. Upon the other hand, tenure represents the period during which the incumbent actually holds office. Tenure may be shorter than term for reasons within or beyond the power of the incumbent. 19 In the case of herein respondent who was elected in a recall election, his tenure was only for the remaining term of the recalled official, then Governor Garcia. Be that as it may, his election is still for a particular term inasmuch as during the unserved period of the recalled official, he has a claim to hold such office as a matter of right. In short, his service for the remaining period is considered tenure for the full term for which he was elected.

    In fact, in Borja, 20 this Court, after citing the opinion of Father Joaquin G. Bernas and Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., then members of the Constitutional Commission, made the categorical pronouncement that the unexpired portion of the term is rightly counted as a full term, thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Reference is made to Commissioner Bernas’ comment on Art. VI, Section 7, which similarly bars members of the House of Representatives from serving for more than three terms. Commissioner Bernas states that ‘if one is elected Representative to serve the unexpired term of another, that unexpired term, no matter how short, will be considered one term for the purpose of computing the number of successive terms allowed (Joaquin Bernas, The 1987 Constitution 637 [1996]).

    "This is actually based on the opinion expressed by Commissioner Davide in answer to a query of Commissioner Suarez: ‘For example, a special election is called for a Senator, and the Senator newly elected would have to serve the unexpired portion of the term. Would that mean that serving the unexpired portion of the term is already considered one term? So half a term, which is actually the correct statement, plus one term would disqualify the Senator concerned from running? Is that the meaning of this provision on disqualification, Madam President?’

    "Commissioner Davide said: ‘Yes, because we speak of ‘term,’ and if there is a special election, he will serve only for the unexpired portion of that particular term plus one more term for the Senator and two more terms for the Members of the Lower House’ (2 Record 592, Session of August 7, 1986)."cralaw virtua1aw library

    ". . . . In a real sense, therefore, such Representative serves a term for which he was elected. As the purpose of the constitutional provision is to limit the right to be elected and to serve in Congress, his service of the unexpired term is rightly counted as his first term. Rather than refute what we believe to be the intendment of Art. X, Section 8 with regard to elective local officials, the case of a Representative who succeeds another confirms the theory." (emphasis added)

    Thus, although respondent only served the unexpired term of then Governor (now Congressman) Enrique T. Garcia, Jr., the former’s recall term as governor of Bataan from 1994 to 1995 is rightly counted as his first term for purposes of applying the three-term limit. This was immediately followed by his election to the same position for three more consecutive terms, to wit: 1995 to 1998; 1998 to 2001; and 2001 to 2004. Considering that his recall term is his first term, his reelections in the 1995 and the 1998 elections are his second and third terms, respectively. Consequently, he is disqualified to run as governor in the 2001 elections, as that would already be his fourth consecutive term.

    Respondent Roman cites Lonzanida v. Comelec. 21 In this case, the two requisites for the application of the three-term rule were absent so that the ban against holding a further term did not apply to Lonzanida. To recall, Mayor Lonzanida was ordered by the COMELEC to vacate his post on the ground that he was not duly elected. Thus, his severance from office was involuntary and constituted an interruption of the continuity of his service under the Constitution 22 and the law. 23 His renunciation being involuntary, this Court ruled that he could not be considered to have served a full term for the purpose of applying the three-term rule. As can be seen, the factual backdrop and the ratio decidendi of Lonzanida are not on all fours with the present case. Respondent, therefore, cannot invoke this Court’s ruling in Lonzanida.

    In fine, I am fully convinced that respondent Roman is ineligible for the elective position of governor of the province of Bataan.

    The political system of our country is one of democratic and republican government. A democratic government is necessarily a government of laws. Also, in a republican government, these laws are decreed by the people through their representatives and through them, the people dictate the qualifications as well as the disqualifications for service in government positions. Respondent is clearly disqualified to serve as governor of the Province of Bataan for 2001 to 2004 as he has exceeded the allowable term limit for local elective officials. The will of a majority or plurality of the voters of the province of Bataan should not be considered to have cured such disqualification. To do so will seriously violate the fundamental law itself. Simply put, the will of respondent Roman’s constituency should not prevail over the will of the entire Filipino people as expressed in the Constitution.

    It is basic that the Constitution is the people’s quintessential act of sovereignty, embodying the principles upon which the State and the government are founded. 24 Having the status of a supreme and all-encompassing law, it speaks for all the people all the time, not just for the majority or for the minority at intermittent times. Every constitution is a compact made by and among the citizens of a State to govern themselves in a certain manner. 25 Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban himself, in Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, 26 assured that "the Philippine Constitution is a solemn covenant made by all the Filipinos to govern themselves. No group, however blessed, and no sector, however distressed, is exempt from its compass."cralaw virtua1aw library

    Indeed, this is a sad day for me. Perhaps I will never understand why the majority has allowed the will of respondent Roman’s constituency to prevail over the will of the entire Filipino people, thus completely disregarding the noble purpose of the constitutional three-term limit rule.

    WHEREFORE, I vote to GRANT the petition and SET ASIDE the challenged Resolution of the COMELEC en banc dated August 15, 2001 in EPC No. 2001-5. Respondent Leonardo B. Roman is declared ineligible to assume office as governor of the province of Bataan for the term 2001–2004.

    CARPIO, J.:



    I dissent. Respondent Leonardo B. Roman was disqualified to run for Governor of Bataan in the May 14, 2001 elections since he had been elected successively to the same office in the 1994 recall election and in the 1995 and 1998 regular elections.

    The applicable provision is Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution which provides as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected." 1

    The sole issue is whether a recall term is considered as one term for purposes of counting the three-term limit of elective local officials. I see no other way but to consider a recall term as one term.

    First, the framers of the 1987 Constitution unmistakably intended a recall term, which is the unexpired term of the recalled official, to be considered as one term for counting term limits. The following exchange during the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission shows this clear intent, thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "MR. SUAREZ: For example, a special election is called for a Senator, and the Senator newly elected would have to serve the unexpired portion of the term. Would that mean that serving the unexpired portion of the term is already considered one term? So, half a term, which is actually the correct statement, plus one term would disqualify the Senator concerned from running? Is that the meaning of this provision on disqualification, Madam President?

    MR. DAVIDE: Yes, because we speak of ‘term,’ and if there is a special election, he will serve only the unexpired portion of that particular term plus one more term for the Senator and two more terms for the Members of the Lower House." 2

    While the foregoing exchange referred specifically to special elections for Senators and Representatives, the same principle applies with equal force to the recall term of elective local officials. To hold otherwise would allow a local official to be elected, and to serve, for more than nine consecutive years in the same position. This is the case of respondent Roman who would be serving a total of more than ten consecutive years as Governor of Bataan if he were not disqualified to run in the 2001 elections.

    Second, the framers of the 1987 Constitution unmistakably intended that elective local officials should not be elected to serve continuously for more than nine years in the same position. The records of the Constitutional Commission reveal that the three-term limit of Representatives and local officials was clearly understood to mean a maximum period of nine consecutive years. Thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "MR. MONSOD: Madam President, I think the vote on continuous service of nine years for the Members of the House of Representatives or the lifetime limitation of three terms has a very serious implication. . . . ." 3

    x       x       x


    "MR. DAVIDE: The other proposal, Madam President, is: These officials who can seek two reelections can serve for a total of nine years, after that, they can seek another reelection. . . . ." 4

    x       x       x


    "MR. GARCIA: I would like to advocate the proposition that no further election for local and legislative officials be allowed after a total of three terms or nine years. . . . .

    x       x       x


    Turnovers in public office after nine years will ensure that new ideas and new approaches will be welcome. . . . ." 5

    x       x       x


    "MR. DE CASTRO: . . . I understand that the three terms mentioned there are only for nine years. . . . ." 6

    x       x       x


    "MR. GARCIA: I am sorry again, but for the first election, the term of office will have to be fixed by the Commission on Elections simply for adjustment purposes because of the current term of the President, for synchronization and for transitory purposes. But once it is regularized, it will be different.

    MR. DE CASTRO: Is it a total of nine years?

    MR. GARCIA: Yes, it is a total of nine years.

    x       x       x


    MR. GARCIA: To make sure that the term is not more than nine years, if possible and if not, we can give them a term of more or less one to two years, depending on how it can be adjusted." 7

    Indisputably, the framers of the Constitutional Commission intended the three-term limit to mean a maximum service of nine consecutive years. This intent is clear, definite and unequivocal. To rule that a recall term should be totally ignored in counting the three-term limit will allow local officials to be elected to serve for more than nine consecutive years contrary to the manifest intent of the framers of the Constitution. This is exactly what will happen if respondent Roman’s recall term is not counted in computing the three-term limit, for Roman will then serve as Governor for more than ten consecutive years.

    The framers of the Constitution have fixed the term limit of elective local officials at three consecutive terms, with a clear intention that the total shall not exceed nine years. They have also intended that election to an unexpired term shall be considered as one term for purposes of counting the three-term limit. The intention of the framers of the Constitution, just like the intention of legislators who draft a statute, certainly deserves great weight. When such intention is clear, definite and unequivocal, the intention becomes controlling as it expresses the true spirit of the Constitution or the law. As this Court aptly stated, "The fundamental principle of constitutional construction is to give effect to the intent of the framers of the organic law and the people adopting it." 8

    Third, the 1987 Constitution does not require a public official, whether elective or appointive, to serve his full term in order to be disqualified from re-election or reappointment. A clear example is a Vice-President who succeeds by operation of law as President. If the Vice-President succeeds to the Presidency to serve an unexpired term of more than four years, he is disqualified from running for President. Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution states that" [N]o person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time."cralaw virtua1aw library

    Similarly, one appointed to serve the unexpired term of a member of the Civil Service Commission or the Commission on Elections is disqualified from reappointment even if the unexpired term is less than the full term of seven years. Appointment to these constitutional bodies is "without reappointment" 9 and" [A]ppointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the predecessor." 10 Unquestionably, the Constitution does not require complete service of a full term of office before the relevant constitutional disqualification attaches.

    Fourth, the instant case is not a situation where the official succeeded by operation of law to the office and served the unexpired term of his predecessor as in Borja, Jr. v. Comelec 11 where the unexpired term was not counted in computing the three-term limit. Here, respondent Roman was elected to serve the unexpired term of his predecessor. To say that the recall term is a stray term, belonging to no elected official in counting the three-term limit, is to ignore reality. A recall term arises from a special election for a fixed term of office — the unexpired term of the recalled official. The official elected in a recall election has the same functions and powers as an official elected to the same office in a regular election. The recall term is a legal and political fact that cannot just be dismissed as a stray term.

    In Adormeo v. Comelec 12 and Socrates v. Comelec, 13 we ruled that the recall term is not consecutive to the previous terms of one who wins the recall election against the recalled official. The term of office of the incumbent or recalled official serves to break the continuity of service of the comebacking official who wins a recall election. But a recall term of an official who is re-elected in the next two regular elections, like that of respondent Roman in the instant case, is not interrupted by any term of another official. Thus, such recall term should be counted in computing the three-term limit.

    Fifth, to consider a recall term as a stray term will encourage a person disqualified because of the three-term limit to agitate for the recall of his immediate successor. We held in Socrates that such a person can run in a recall election. If he wins and his recall term is not counted in computing the three-term limit, then he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by agitating for a recall election. This will remove the stability of the term of office of his immediate successor, and subject the people to too many elections within a short period. But if the recall term is counted as one term, then the truncated term serves as an inherent limitation and natural disincentive to those who would otherwise agitate for a recall election because they cannot wait for the next regular elections.

    Sixth, that respondent Roman won as Governor in the 2001 elections cannot serve to exempt him from the three-term limit mandated by the Constitution. The vote of the people of Bataan, while overwhelmingly for Roman, cannot overcome the vote of the people of the entire Philippines when they ratified the Constitution that now mandates the three-term limit. Besides, we must resolve the constitutional issue here without regard to the accidental circumstance that respondent Roman won overwhelmingly, for this constitutional issue could also have been raised in a case where the margin of victory was whisker-thin.

    We do not decide this constitutional issue because the people of Bataan have strongly clamored for Roman’s leadership as their Governor, but because we must apply the clear, definite and unequivocal intent of the framers of the Constitution. We do not decide this constitutional issue to meet the exigency of Roman’s remarkable election victory in the 2001 elections despite his disqualification, but to guide all those who will run for public office through the ages for as long as the same constitutional three-term limit remains in place.

    Accordingly, I vote to grant the petition.

    AZCUNA, J.:


    The adoption of term limits is new to our polity. It is a departure from the rule that in a democracy the sovereign people can choose whoever is fit and qualified to be their leader for as often as is their will.

    The restriction has for its reason the concern against accumulation of power resulting from prolonged stay in office.

    These two ideas, however, represent the rule and the exception. The rule is the fundamental tenet of representative democracy that the people should be allowed to choose those whom they please to govern them. The exception is the term limit provided for in the Constitution.

    It follows that in applying the exception, it must be strictly construed, so that only if it clearly applies should it be applied.

    To my mind, the provision in question, the term limit for elective local officials, applies only if such official has served three consecutive terms in full.

    Consequently, service of less than a full term, be it succession or recall election, does not count in determining whether such official has served three consecutive terms.

    The Constitution is clear. The terms must be consecutive and the service must be full, for the prohibition to apply:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Sec. 8, Art. X. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected." (Emphasis supplied.)

    Once these conditions obtain, however, the prohibition sets in and what is prohibited is not simply an "immediate reelection," 1 as contended by the majority in Socrates v. Comelec, 2 but rather serving for more than three consecutive terms, i. e., service in the immediately following term, the fourth term.

    Serving during such term, whether from the start, in the middle or at the end, would still consist in service "for more than three consecutive terms." In reference to the prohibited service, it is not required that it be for the full term. What is proscribed is service, of any length, during the prohibited term, for such would still constitute service for more than three consecutive terms.

    There was a clear intent to require the person who has served in full the number of consecutive terms, in this case three, to rest until the election for the term not immediately following the last of the consecutive terms served. Hence, in Socrates I joined in the separate opinion of the Chief Justice, as I agreed with him that once an elected local official, in that case a mayor, has served three consecutive terms in full, that person cannot serve for any time during the immediately following term, whether by immediate reelection or by recall election.

    In the present case, respondent Roman’s election as governor in the recall election of 1992 should not be counted as one full term. For the disqualification to attach, three consecutive terms must be served in full. This is the exception to the rule, so it must be strictly complied with. Service for less than a full term, except only in case of voluntary renunciation, should not be counted to determine the existence of the disqualification.

    I therefore vote to DISMISS the petition in this case and to declare respondent Leonardo B. Roman as NOT DISQUALIFIED to run for governor in the election of May 14, 2001, as this was only for his third consecutive term.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    Endnotes:



    1. Section 8, Article X, 1987 Constitution.

    2. Section 43, R.A. 7160.

    3. Rollo, pp. 152-153.

    4. Constitutional Commission, Records IV, pp. 235-242, 25 July 1986.

    5. Thus, Section 72, R.A. No. 7160, provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Sec. 72. Effectivity of Recall — The recall of an elective local official shall be effective only upon the election and proclamation of a successor in the person of the candidate receiving the highest number of votes cast during the election on recall. Should the official sought to be recalled receive the highest number of votes, confidence in him is thereby affirmed, and he shall continue in office."cralaw virtua1aw library

    6. 311 SCRA 602.

    7. At p. 613.

    8. G.R. No. 154512, 12 November 2002.

    9. In Onofre Cruz v. Leonardo B. Roman (SPA No. 98-198) promulgated 28 May 1998 and affirmed by the En Banc on 03 September 1998; Bautista and Magdalena v. Roman (SPA No. 98-265) promulgated 10 December 1998 and Ramos v. Roman (SPA No. 01-068) promulgated 08 May 2001 and affirmed by the COMELEC En Banc on 28 May 2001.

    10. See Loong v. COMELEC, 305 SCRA 832; Pangandaman v. COMELEC, 319 SCRA 283.

    MENDOZA, J.:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    1. Borja, Jr. v. COMELEC, 295 SCRA 157 (1998); Arcos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 133639, Oct. 6, 1998 (res.); Lonzanida v. COMELEC, 311 SCRA 602 (1999); Adormeo v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 147927, Feb. 4, 2002.

    2. G.R. Nos. 154512, 154683 & 155083-84, Nov. 12, 2002.

    3. Emphasis added.

    4. See Lonzanida v. COMELEC, supra; Adormeo v. COMELEC, supra.

    5. Thus, the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160) provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    SEC. 44. Permanent Vacancies in the Offices of the Governor, Vice Governor, Mayor, and Vice Mayor. — (a) If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the governor or mayor, the vice governor or vice mayor concerned shall become the governor or mayor. If a permanent vacancy occurs in the offices of the governor, vice governor, mayor, or vice mayor, the highest ranking sanggunian member or, in case of his permanent inability, the second highest ranking sanggunian member, shall become the governor, vice governor, mayor or vice mayor, as the case may be. Subsequent vacancies in the said office shall be filled automatically by the other sanggunian members according to their ranking as defined herein.

    (b) If a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of the punong barangay, the highest ranking sanggunian barangay member or, in case of his permanent inability, the second highest ranking sanggunian member, shall become the punong barangay.

    (c) A tie between or among the highest ranking sanggunian members shall be resolved by the drawing of lots.

    (d) The successors as defined herein shall serve only the unexpired terms of their predecessors.

    For purposes of this Chapter, a permanent vacancy arises when an elective local official fills a higher vacant office, refuses to assume office, fails to qualify, dies, is removed from office, voluntarily resigns, or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office.

    For purposes of succession as provided in this Chapter, ranking in the sanggunian shall be determined on the basis of the proportion of votes obtained by each winning candidate to the total number of registered voters in each district in the immediately preceding local election.

    SEC. 72. Effectivity of Recall. — The recall of an elective local official shall be effective only upon the election and proclamation of a successor in the person of the candidate receiving the highest number of votes cast during the election on recall. Should the official sought to be recalled received the highest number of votes, confidence in him is thereby affirmed, and he shall continue in office.

    6. 295 SCRA 165-166 (1998).

    PANGANIBAN, J.:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    1. Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections, 257 SCRA 727, 769, 772, June 28, 1996, per Panganiban, J.

    2. 8, Article X, Constitution provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected."cralaw virtua1aw library

    3. 43(b), RA 7160 states:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "No local elective official shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms in the same position. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official concerned was elected."cralaw virtua1aw library

    4. 295 SCRA 157, September 3, 1998, per Mendoza, J.

    5. 311 SCRA 602, July 28, 1999, per Gonzaga-Reyes, J.

    6. GR No. 154512, Nov. 12, 2002, per Carpio, J.

    7. Id., pp. 23-24.

    8. Borja, Jr. v. Comelec, supra, p. 170.

    9. Socrates v. Comelec, supra, p. 15.

    10. 248 SCRA 400, September 18, 1995, per Kapunan, J.

    11. Benito v. Comelec, 235 SCRA 436, August 17, 1994, per Kapunan, J.

    12. Supra.

    13. 337 SCRA 574, August 9, 2000, per Panganiban, J.

    14. Frivaldo v. Comelec, supra, pp. 770-771.

    15. The records show that Mr. Roman gathered about 97% of the total votes cast for governor in the 2001 elections in the Province of Bataan.

    16. Supra, p. 769.

    SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    1. Filed under Rule 65 in relation to Rule 64 (review of judgments and final orders or resolutions of the COMELEC, among others) of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.

    2. For the purpose of the synchronization of the regular national and local elections, Section 2, Article XVIII (Transitory Provisions) of the 1987 Constitution provides that "The Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, and the local officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30, 1992." (emphasis added)

    3. Pursuant to Section 253 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881), which states that "any voter contesting the election of any Member of the Batasang Pambansa, regional, provincial, or city officer on the ground of ineligibility or of disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines, shall file a sworn petition for quo warranto with the Commission within ten days after the proclamation of the results of the election." (emphasis added)

    4. Rollo, at 64.

    5. Id., at 190.

    6. Id., at 76-85.

    7. Comment, Rollo, at 82.

    8. 311 SCRA 602, 611 (1999).

    9. Rollo, at 88-99; 218-225.

    10. Guerrero v. Commission on Elections, 336 SCRA 458, 467 (2000).

    11. Supra, at 166.

    12. 331 SCRA 388, 403-404 (2000).

    13. 2 Record 592, Session of the Constitutional Commission on August 7, 1986, cited in Borja v. Comelec, id., at 166-167.

    14. G.R. No. 154512, November 12, 2002, at 23-24.

    15. Lonzanida v. Comelec, supra, at 609.

    16. J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413 (1970); Co v. Electoral Tribunal, 199 SCRA 692 (1991).

    17. Acar, Et. Al. v. Rosa, 19 SCRA 625, 626 (1967).

    18. Supra.

    19. Estrada v. Desierto, 356 SCRA 108, 150 (2001); Gaminde v. Commission on Audit, 347 SCRA 655, 663 (2000).

    20. Supra, at 166-167.

    21. Supra, at 611-613.

    22. Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution.

    23. Section 43 of the Local Government Code (R.A. 7160).

    24. 16 Am Jur 2d Section 2.

    25. Id.

    26. 347 SCRA 128, 320 (2000), see separate opinion of Justice Panganiban.

    CARPIO, J.:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    1. This provision is reiterated in Section 43 of R.A. No. 7160, the Local Government Code.

    2. p. 592, Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II.

    3. p. 235, Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II.

    4. p. 236, Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II.

    5. p. 236, Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II.

    6. p. 240, Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II.

    7. Pp. 240–241, Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol II.

    8. Gold Creek Mining Corporation v. Rodriguez, 66 Phil. 259 (1938).

    9. Section 1 (2), Article IX-B of the Constitution; Section 1 (2), Article IX-C of the Constitution.

    10. Ibid.

    11. 295 SCRA 166 (1998).

    12. G.R. No. 147927, February 4, 2002.

    13. G.R. Nos. 154512, 154683 & 155083-84, November 12, 2002.

    AZCUNA, J.:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    1. This phrase does not appear anywhere in the Constitution.

    2. G.R. Nos. 154512, 154683 & 155083–84, November 12, 2002.

    G.R. No. 149736   December 17, 2002 - MELANIO L. MENDOZA and MARIO E. IBARRA v. COMELEC and LEONARDO B. ROMAN


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