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ADMIN LAW ELECTIVE LOCAL OFFICIALS - TERM OF OFFICE

Title: Mendoza v. Commission on Elections G.R. No. 149736 (Resolution)


Date: December 17, 2002
Ponente: Court voted 8 to 7
MELANIO L. MENDOZA and MARIO E. IBARRA, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and LEONARDO B. ROMAN,
petitioners respondents
FACTS
 Respondent Leonardo B. Roman held the post of Governor of Bataan province a number of times:
(a) 1986 – 1988 Appointed OIC Governor of Bataan by former Pres. 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 to1998
(e) 1998 – 2001 Elected Governor and served up to 2001.
 In 2001, private respondent Roman again filed a certificate of candidacy for the same post in the 14 May 2001 regular
elections. On 16 May 2001, Leonardo Roman was proclaimed by the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Bataan.
 Petitioners Melanio L. Mendoza and Mario E. Ibarra seek to declare respondent Roman’s election as governor of
Bataan as null and void for allegedly being contrary to Art. X, §8 of the Constitution
ISSUE/S
Whether or not private respondent's incumbency to the post of governor following the recall elections be included in
determining the three--consecutive term limit fixed by law. NO
RATIO
 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.
 The law contemplates a continuous full three-year term before the proscription can apply, providing for only one
exception, i.e., when an incumbent voluntarily gives up the office. 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, 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.
 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.
 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.
NOTES
 Court voted 8 to 7 to DISMISS the petition:
o VITUG, J., joined by YNARES‐SANTIAGO, J., voted to dismiss the petition. MENDOZA, J., in whose opinion
QUISUMBING, J. joined, voted to dismiss the petition on the ground that 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.
o 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.
o 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.
o 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.
o 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.
RULING
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED.
(SANTOS, 2B 2017-2018)