Mayor passes 3-term limit rule despite being elected 4 times-A A +A
Friday, February 8, 2013
MANILA -- A mayor in Catanduanes will be serving his last four months in office after the Supreme Court said the official did not violate the three-term limit rule under the Constitution.
Abelardo Abundo Sr. ran and won as mayor of Viga, Catanduanes in 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010. In his second term, however, he only assumed the post on May 9, 2006 when he was able to prove that he was the rightful winner of the 2004 elections against Jose Torres.
Thus, "the two-year period which his opponent, Torres, was serving as mayor should be considered as an interruption, which effectively removed Abundo's case from the ambit of the three-term limit rule," ruled the SC in a January 8 decision written by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.
"[W]here less than a full term is served by a winning protestant, no continuous and uninterrupted term should be recognized. This is the view that best serves the purpose of the three-term limit rule," stated Associate Justice Arturo Brion in a separate concurring opinion.
Because of this, the SC nullified the earlier decisions of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and a trial court in Virac, Catanduanes that declared Abundo an ineligible candidate for mayor in the 2010 elections which he won.
This means Abundo will regain his old post as Emeterio Tarin and Cesar Cervantes were ordered to immediately go back to their original positions of Vice Mayor and first Councilor, respectively.
Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution and Sec. 43(b) of the Local Government Code provides that the three-term limit rule constitutes a disqualification to run for an elective local office when an official has been elected for three consecutive terms in the same local government post and has fully served those three consecutive terms.
But the SC said that pending the resolution of Abundo's election protest against Torres, he was relegated to being an ordinary constituent and private citizen and ceased from exercising power or authority over the people of Viga.
Specifically, the SC scored the poll body for applying Aldovino Jr. vs. Comelec, which held that "service of the unexpired portion of a term by a protestant who is declared winner in an election protest is considered as service for one full term within the contemplation of the three-term limit rule."
The SC said this doctrine refers to a situation where the elected official is under preventive suspension and is only temporarily unable to discharge his functions yet is still entitled to the office.
"[W]hile Abundo was the winning candidate, he was the one deprived of his right and opportunity to serve his constituents," the decision read. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)