Jun Pe and term limits-A A +A
Saturday, February 16, 2013
SO THE Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) First Division has disqualified Cebu City north district Councilor Augustus “Jun” Pe Jr. from seeking a city council seat in the south district? But the division's ruling was based on Pe's lack of residency and not the term limit.
Pe transferred his voter's registration to the south district last May to comply with the one-year residency requirement for those seeking local elective positions. Section 39 of the Local Government Code provides that a member of the Sangguniang Panglunsod must be, among other things, a resident of the district where he seeks to be elected for at least one year immediately preceding the day of the election.
“It is evident that respondent failed to establish that he has been a resident of the south district of Cebu City for purposes of complying with the election requirement.
Let it be stressed that while it is true that the respondent, an elective official serving in the north district, is not prohibited from transferring his residence to the south, we hold that under the circumstances, he failed to present a clear and positive proof that he had, in fact, abandoned his former residence and established a new one. A number of circumstances, taken as a whole support this finding,” the First Division said.
It continued: “We find it hard to comprehend how respondent could claim to be 'considerably immersed with the problems, aspirations, interests, views, opinions and circumstances affecting the general welfare of the people of the south district when he himself strongly pressed that he has been continuously up to the present serving the interest and concern of his constituents in the north district. Such a half-hearted attempt to transfer his residence is unconvincing. To hold otherwise would be absurd as a person cannot have two or more legal residences at the same time.”
Section 8, Article X and Section 43 (b) of the Local Government Code, meanwhile, set the term limit of elective officials to three consecutive terms.
However, the First Division ruled that “Respondent Pe is not barred from running for the position of member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod representing the south district.
The conditions for the application of the three-term limit rule are not present in the instant case as respondent is clearly not running for the same government position.”
Comelec cited three major reasons: first, the territorial jurisdictions of the two districts are separate and distinct from each other; second, the inhabitants of the south where respondent is presently running as member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod are not the same voters who elected him for the past three consecutive terms; third, the inhabitants of the south district are not the same group of voters whom respondent had served as member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the north district.”
This ruling would practically encourage politicians to jump to another district after serving three full terms from a previous district. This ruling might also be applicable to Provincial Board members and even congressmen.
What is the intent of the constitutional provision on term limits? The Supreme Court said that the intention of the law is to “infuse new blood in the political arena” by disqualifying officials from running for the same office after a term of nine years straight.
Unsa-on na man lang nato ning maong balaod? Ato na lang ning gang-gangon?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 17, 2013.