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EUNICE R.

MANSION POLITICAL LAW REVIEW

BACHELOR OF LAWS DR. REY OLIVER S. ALEJANDRINO

THE CONTINUOUS IMPLEMENTATION OF THE THREE-TERM LIMIT

OF ELECTIVE LOCAL OFFICIALS

I. Introduction

II. Thesis Statement

III. The three-term limit rule

IV. Prolonging term limit vs. three-term limit of local officials

V. Conclusion
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I. Introduction

Last July 17, 2015, Vice-President Jejomar Binay announced that he

will be pushing for constitutional amendments on the term limits for local

officials if he wins the presidency in 2016. He said in an address in Negros

Occidental that Itong term na ito, hindi ako naniniwala diyan. Kailangan

one to sawa yan. Hanggang gusto ng tao. Kaya kung merong amendment

sa Constitution, ipapaalis ko ang term limitation hanggang gusto, iboto

nang iboto. Joey Salgado, VP Binays spokesman emphasized the latters

stand for no term limits for local officials. This will ensure the continuity of

programs which will benefit the locality in the long term according to United

Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesperson Mon Ilagan.

However, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Usec. Abigail Valte

opposed VP Binays stand. She said doing away with term limits may also

make it easier for families with dynastic inclinations to perpetuate

themselves in office (Calonzo, Legaspi, and Marcelo, 2015)

Consequently, the differing positions of the Vice-President and the

President of the Philippines as regards the extension of the terms of local

officials sparked debates. Senator Poe and Senator Escudero, later,


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expressed their rejection of the proposal to lift term limits for local officials

(Cruz, 2015). Hence, the researcher found it necessary to discuss the

advantages and disadvantages of prolonging the terms of local officials,

and to elucidate the researchers stand on such matter.

II. Thesis Statement

This paper elucidates the three-term limit of local officials under

the Constitution and the Local Government Code, shows the pros and cons

of the proposal to lift the term limit of local officials using the related laws

and latest jurisprudence, and disputes the extension of the three-term limit

of local officials.

III. The three-term limit rule

The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty

resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.

The electoral process is one of the prerequisites of a democratic and

republican framework because it is through the act of voting that

government by consent is secured. According to the then Chief Justice

Reynato S. Puno, through the ballot, people express are able to choose

their leaders in accordance with the fundamental principle of representative


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democracy that the people should elect whom they please to govern them.

Voting has an important instrumental value in preserving the viability of

constitutional democracy (Naval vs. COMELEC, 2014). Accordingly, while it

is settled that in elections, the first consideration of every democratic polity

is to give effect to the expressed will of the majority, there are limitations to

being elected to a public office. Our Constitution and statutes are clear

about the existence of term limits, the nature of public office, and the

guarantee from the State that citizens shall have equal access to public

service. Section 8, Article X of our Constitution, on term limits, is

significantly reiterated by Section 43 (b) of the Local Government Code.

Moreover, the Supreme Court has repeatedly declared that a public office

is a public trust and not a vested property right (Montescarlos vs.

COMELEC cited in Naval vs. COMELEC, 2014).

Under Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, 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
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continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected (The 1987

Constitution of the republic of the Philippines , 2005).

The Local Government Code Section 43 (b) reiterated the above-

mentioned provision, to wit, 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 The 1987 Constitution of the

republic of the Philippines , 2005).

According to the Supreme Court, there are two branches in the three-

term limit, to wit, the first branch is, as worded, the constitutional provision

fixes the term of a local elective office and limits an elective officials stay in

office to no more than three consecutive terms, and the second branch is

the provision that voluntary renunciation of office shall not be considered as

an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he

was elected.
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Under the first branch, the limitation is expressed in the negative that

no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. This

formulation no more than three consecutive terms is a clear command

suggesting the existence of an inflexible rule. The meaning is clear

reference is to the term, not to the service that a public official may render.

In other words, the limitation refers to the term.

The second branch relates to the express initiative to prevent any

circumvention of the limitation through voluntary severance of ties with the

public office. This complements the term limitation under the first branch.

The second branch does not textually state that voluntary renunciation is

the only actual interruption of service that does not affect continuity of

service for a full term for purposes of the three-term limit rule. It is a pure

declaratory statement of what does not serve as an interruption of service

for a full term. The descriptive word voluntary linked together with

renunciation signifies an act of surrender based on the surenderees own

freely exercised will; thus, a loss of title to office by conscious choice. In the

context of the three-term limit rule, such loss of title is not considered an

interruption because it is presumed to be purposely sought to avoid the

application of the term limitation (Abundo vs. COMELEC, 2013).


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In the following cases, the Supreme Court enunciated the effective

and ineffective interruptions in the three-term limit rule:

In Aldovino vs. Commission on Elections, it was held that

preventive suspension, by its nature does not involve an effective

interruption of a term. A preventive suspension is easier to undertake than

voluntary renunciation, as it does not require relinquishment or loss of

office even for the briefest time. It merely requires an easily fabricated

administrative charge that can be dismissed soon after a preventive

suspension had been imposed. Thus, preventive suspension as an

effective interruption of a term can serve as circumvention more potent

than the voluntary renunciation that the Constitution expressly disallows as

an interruption (2009).

In Adormeo v. Commission on Elections and Socrates v.

Commission on Elections, it was held that an elective official, who has

served for three consecutive terms and who did not seek the elective

position for what could be his fourth term, but later won in a recall election,

had an interruption in the continuity of the officials service for he had

become in the interim a private citizen.

In Latasa v. Commission on Elections, it was ruled that the

abolition of an elective office due to the conversion of a municipality to a


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city does not, by itself, work to interrupt the incumbent officials continuity of

service.

In Lonzanida v. Commission on Elections and Dizon v.

Commission on Elections, it was held that when a candidate is proclaimed

as winner for an elective position and assumes office; his term is

interrupted when he loses in an election protest and is ousted from office.

An interruption for any length of time, provided the cause is involuntary is

sufficient to break the continuity of service (cited in Abundo vs.

COEMELEC, 2013).

However, In Ong v. Alegre and Rivera III v. Commission on

Elections, it was declared that when an official is defeated in an election

protest and the decision becomes final only after the official had served the

full term for the office, his loss in the election contest does not constitute an

interruption since he has managed to serve the term from start to finish. His

full service should be counted in the application of term limits because the

nullification of his proclamation came after the expiration of the term.

The Supreme Court, in sum, ruled that the three-term limit

contemplates a rest period during which the local elective official steps

down from office and ceases to exercise power or authority over the
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inhabitants of the territorial jurisdiction of a particular local government unit

(Latasa vs. COMELEC, 2003). The interruption of a term exempting an

elective official from the three-term limit rule is one that involves no less

than involuntary loss of title to office. The elective official must have

involuntarily left his office for a length of time, however short, for an elective

interruption to occur (Aldovino vs. COMELEC, 2009).

Accordingly, there are 2 requisites for the disqualification pursuant to

the three-term limit rule to take effect, these are the following: 1. the official

concerned has been elected for three consecutive terms in the same local

government post; and 2. he has fully served three consecutive terms

(Aldovino vs. COMELEC, 2009).

IV. Prolonging term limit vs. three-term limit of local officials

Democracy resides in the people and preventing qualified persons

from running because they have already served the maximum allowable

term is a diminution of their power to choose who should lead them

(Danao, 2015).
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By limiting the term of office, the outstanding officials are prevented

from continuing their remarkable service. Their excellent programs will be

cut and removed by the next winning official verily, when the latter came

from the opposition. Worse, millions and thousands of pesos from the taxes

paid by the people and were spent for such programs will be at naught.

Consequently, another bulk of monies shall be needed and spent for the

corresponding change of programs.

These matters were seen and raised by the Constitutional

Commissioners, as can be gleaned in the Journal of the Constitutional

Commission anent the exchanges of the members on the subject of the

three-term limit imposed on local elective officials. Some of the

Commissioners posited that limiting the term of office of local officials

results to wasting the experience of seasoned public servants, and the

restriction of the power of the citizens to elect whoever they want to remain

in office (Naval vs. COMELEC, 2014).

On the other hand, the Supreme Court declared that the three-term

limit rule was designed by the framers of the Constitution to prevent the

monopoly of power centered only on a chosen few. The said


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disqualification was primarily intended to prevent the accumulation of

massive political power by an elective local government official in a given

locality in order to perpetuate his tenure in office. Also, the framers

considered the necessity of the enhancement of the freedom of choice of

the electorate by broadening the selection of would-be elective public

officers. Further, the prohibition seeks to infuse new blood in the political

arena by rendering ineligible for public office those who have been elected

and served for three (3) consecutive terms in the same public elective post

(Naval vs. COMELEC, 2014).

V. Conclusion

The researcher found the continuous implementation of the three-

term limit of local elective officials more advantageous for the Filipino

people and therefore stands for the same.

It is true, that democracy shall further be emphasized by not limiting

the service of outstanding officials to three consecutive terms. Also, it will

ensure the continuous implementation of their excellent programs.

Nevertheless, it is likewise true that these outstanding officials can vie for

other positions in the local government to maintain their excellent programs


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and let other would-be elective officers to develop new programs for the

Filipino people. According to James Freeman Clarke, an American

preacher and author, a politician thinks of the next election, but a

statesman thinks of the next generation (cited in Naval vs. COMELEC,

2014). With such in the minds of these outstanding local officials, indeed

their programs will not be at naught, inasmuch as the Filipino people would

vote for them over and over again and for whatever position they will vie for

if they are truthfully outstanding in their service. What should be

underscored here is the massive and increasing abuse of power by many

local officials in their given unit by monopolizing the power given by the

people; thus, hindering other would-be officials to give their outstanding

service and to develop excellent programs for the people.

Hence, the term limit of the local officials should not be prolonged and

the three-term limit of the elective local officials should be continuously

implemented.
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References

Abundo vs. COMELEC. (2013, January 8). Supreme Court of the

Philippines. Retrieved from

sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2013/January2013/201716.pdf

Aldovino vs. COMELEC. December 23, 2009. Supreme Court of the

Philippines. Retrieved from

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2009/december2009/184836.htm

Calonzo, A., Legaspi A., and Marcelo E. (2015, July 17). Palace reminds

VP Binay: Lifting of term limits opens door for abuse. GMA News Online.

Retrieved from

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/523938/news/nation.palace-

reminds-vp-binay-lifting-of-term-limits-opens-doors-for-abuse

Cruz, RG. (2015, July 18). Poe, Chiz reject proposal to lift term limits for

local officials. ABS-CBN NEWS.COM. Retrieved from http://mobile.abs-

cbnnews.com/nation/07/18/15/poe-chiz-reject-proposal-lift-term-limits-local

-officials/

Danao, Efren L. (2015, July 21). Proposal to lift term limits meritorious. The

Manila Times. Retrieved from http://www.manilatimes.net/proposal-to-lift-

term-limits-meritorious/202310//
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Latasa vs. COMELEC. December 10, 2003. Supreme court of the

Philippines. Retrieved from

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2003/dec2003/154829.htm

Naval vs. COMELEC. (2014 July 8). The Lawphil Project. Retrieved from

http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2014/jul2014/gr_207851_2014.html

The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines Including The

Local Government Code, The Omnibus Election Code, The Initiative and

Referendum Act, The Civil Service Law, and Anti-Graft Laws. 2005 Edition.

Quezon City: Rex Printing Company, Inc.