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Lonzanida vs.

COMELEC government official from running for the


July 28, 1999 | Gonzaga-Reyes same position after serving three
consecutive terms. The said
Facts: disqualification was primarily intended to
Petitioner Romeo Lonzanida was duly forestall the accumulation of massive
elected and served two consecutive terms political power by an elective local
as municipal mayor of San Antonio, government official in a given locality in
Zambales prior to the May 8, 1995 order to perpetuate his tenure in office.
elections. In the May 1995 elections The delegates also considered the need to
Lonzanida ran for mayor of San Antonio, broaden the choices of the electorate of
Zambales and was again proclaimed the candidates who will run for office, and
winner. He assumed office and discharged to infuse new blood in the political arena
the duties thereof. His proclamation in by disqualifying officials from running for
1995 was however contested by his then the same office after a term of nine years.
opponent Juan Alvez who filed an election The drafters however, recognized and took
protest. In 1997, the RTC of Zambales note of the fact that some local
declared a failure of elections. After a government officials run for office before
revision and re-appreciation of the they reach forty years of age; thus to
contested ballots, COMELEC declared perpetually bar them from running for the
Alvez the duly elected mayor of San same office after serving nine consecutive
Antonio, Zambales and ordered petitioner years may deprive the people of qualified
to vacate the post. candidates to choose from. As finally
voted upon, it was agreed that an elective
In the May 11, 1998 elections Lonzanida local government official should be barred
again ran for mayor. His opponent from running for the same post after three
Eufemio Muli filed a petition to disqualify consecutive terms. After a hiatus of at
Lonzanida from running for mayor of San least one term, he may again run for the
Antonio in the 1998 elections on the same office.
ground that he had served three
consecutive terms in the same post. In Borja vs. COMELEC, the Court sets two
conditions which must concur in order to
COMELEC: Lonzanida's assumption of disqualify elective local officials from
office by virtue of his proclamation in May serving more than three consecutive
1995, although he was later unseated terms: 1) that the official concerned has
before the expiration of the term, should been elected for three consecutive terms
be counted as service for one full term in in the same local government post and 2)
computing the three term limit under the that he has fully served three consecutive
Constitution and the Local Government terms.
Code.
In this case, the two requisites for the
Issue: application of the three term rule are
WON petitioner Lonzanida's assumption of absent. First, the petitioner cannot be
office as mayor of San Antonio Zambales considered as having been duly elected to
from May 1995 to March 1998 may be the post in the May 1995 elections. After a
considered as service of one full term for re-appreciation and revision of the
the purpose of applying the three-term contested ballots the COMELEC itself
limit for elective local government officials declared by final judgment that petitioner
– NO. Lonzanida lost in the May 1995 mayoral
elections and his previous proclamation as
Held: winner was declared null and void. His
The records of the 1986 Constitutional assumption of office as mayor cannot be
Commission show that the three-term limit deemed to have been by reason of a valid
which is now embodied in section 8, Art. X election but by reason of a void
of the Constitution was initially proposed proclamation. A proclamation
to be an absolute bar to any elective local subsequently declared void is no
proclamation at all and while a proclaimed disqualification is pending before the
candidate may assume office on the COMELEC does not divest the COMELEC of
strength of the proclamation of the Board jurisdiction to continue hearing the case
of Canvassers he is only a presumptive and to resolve it on the merits. The
winner who assumes office subject to the outright dismissal of the petition for
final outcome of the election disqualification filed before the election
protest. Petitioner Lonzanida did not serve but which remained unresolved after the
a term as mayor of San Antonio, Zambales proclamation of the candidate sought to
from May 1995 to March 1998 because he be disqualified will unduly reward the said
was not duly elected to the post; he candidate and may encourage him to
merely assumed office as presumptive employ delaying tactics to impede the
winner, which presumption was later resolution of the petition until after he has
overturned by the COMELEC when it been proclaimed.
decided with finality that Lonzanida lost in
the May 1995 mayoral elections.

Second, the petitioner cannot be deemed


to have served the May 1995 to 1998 term
because he was ordered to vacate his post
before the expiration of the term. He did
not fully serve three consecutive terms.
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. The
petitioner vacated his post a few months
before the next mayoral elections, not by
voluntary renunciation but in compliance
with the legal process of writ of execution
issued by the COMELEC to that effect.
Such involuntary severance from office is
an interruption of continuity of service and
thus, the petitioner did not fully serve the
1995-1998 mayoral term.

The delay in resolving the election protest


between petitioner and his then opponent
Alvez which took roughly about three
years cannot serve as basis to bar
petitioner’s right to be elected.

The petitioner's contention that the


COMELEC ceased to have jurisdiction over
the petition for disqualification after he
was proclaimed winner is without merit.
The instant petition for disqualification
was filed on April 21, 1998 or before the
May 1998 elections and was resolved on
May 21, 1998 or after the petitioner's
proclamation. Proclamation nor the
assumption of office of a candidate
against whom a petition for