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ADMIN LAW ELECTIVE LOCAL OFFICIALS - TERM OF OFFICE

Title: Ong v. Alegre G.R. No. 163295, 163354


Date: January 23, 2006
Ponente: Garcia, J.
JOSEPH STANLEY ALEGRE and COMMISSION ON
FRANCIS G. ONG,
ELECTIONS,
petitioner
respondents
JOSEPH STANLEY ALEGRE and COMMISSION ON
ROMMEL G. ONG,
ELECTIONS,
petitioner
respondents
FACTS
 Joseph Alegre and Francis Ong were candidates who filed certificates of candidacy for mayor of San Vicente, Camarines
Norte in the 2004 elections. Francis was then the incumbent mayor. Alegre filed with COMELEC Provincial Office a
Petition to Disqualify, Deny Due Course and Cancel Certificate of Candidacy of Francis predicated on the three-
consecutive term rule, Francis having ran in May 1995, May 1998, and May 2001 mayoralty elections and have
assumed office as mayor for 3 consecutive full terms corresponding to those elections.
 For the May 1998 elections, Alegre filed an election protest which RTC granted and declared Alegre as the duly elected
mayor, albeit the decision came out only on July 4, 2001, when Francis had fully served the 1998-2001 mayoralty term
and was in fact already starting to serve the 2001-2004 term as mayor-elect of the municipality of San Vicente.
 COMELEC dismissed Alegre’s petition, not finding the three-term rule applicable. Upon Reconsideration, COMELEC En
Banc reversed the decision, disqualifying Francis Ong to run for mayor in the 2004 elections. When Francis received
the news, he sought assistance from his political party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, which immediately nominated
his older brother, Rommel Ong, as substitute candidate. On the same day, at 5:05PM (past the deadline), Rommel
filed his own certificate of candidacy for the position of mayor, as substitute candidate for his brother Francis. Again,
Alegre filed a Petition to Deny Due Course to Cancel Certificate of Rommel Ong.
ISSUE/S
Whether or not Francis’s assumption of office as Mayor of San Vicente for the mayoralty term 1998 to 2001 should be
considered as full service for the purpose of the three-term limit rule. YES
RATIO
 The three-term limit rule for elective local officials is found in Section 8, Article X of the 1987 Constitution. Section 43
(b) of the Local Government Code restates the same rule. For the three-term limit for elective local government
officials to apply, two conditions or requisites must concur, to wit: (1) that the official concerned has been elected for
three (3) consecutive terms in the same local government post, and (2) that he has fully served three (3) consecutive
terms.
 With the view we take of the case, the disqualifying requisites are present herein, thus effectively barring petitioner
Francis from running for mayor of San Vicente, Camarines Norte in the May 10, 2004 elections. There can be no dispute
about petitioner Francis Ong having been duly elected mayor of that municipality in the May 1995 and again in the
May 2001 elections and serving the July 1, 1995-June 30, 1998 and the July 1, 2001-June 30, 2004 terms in full. The
herein controversy revolves around the 1998-2001 mayoral term, albeit there can also be no quibbling that Francis
ran for mayor of the same municipality in the May 1998 elections and actually served the 1998-2001 mayoral term by
virtue of a proclamation initially declaring him mayor-elect of the municipality of San Vicente.
 The question that begs to be addressed, therefore, is whether or not Francis's assumption of office as Mayor of San
Vicente, Camarines Norte from July 1, 1998 to June 30, 2001, may be considered as one full term service in the context
of the consecutive three-term limit rule. We hold that such assumption of office constitutes, for Francis, "service for
the full term," and should be counted as a full term served in contemplation of the three-term limit prescribed by the
constitutional and statutory provisions, supra, barring local elective officials from being elected and serving for more
than three consecutive term for the same position. It is true that the RTC-Daet, Camarines Norte ruled in Election
Protest Case No. 6850, that it was Francis' opponent (Alegre) who "won" in the 1998 mayoralty race and, therefore,
was the legally elected mayor of San Vicente. However, that disposition, it must be stressed, was without practical and
legal use and value, having been promulgated after the term of the contested office has expired.
 Petitioner Francis' contention that he was only a presumptive winner in the 1998 mayoralty derby as his proclamation
was under protest did not make him less than a duly elected mayor. His proclamation by the Municipal Board of
Canvassers of San Vicente as the duly elected mayor in the 1998 mayoralty election coupled by his assumption of
office and his continuous exercise of the functions thereof from start to finish of the term, should legally be taken as
service for a full term in contemplation of the three-term rule. The absurdity and the deleterious effect of a contrary
view is not hard to discern. Such contrary view would mean that Alegre would — under the three-term rule — be
considered as having served a term by virtue of a veritably meaningless electoral protest ruling, when another actually
served such term pursuant to a proclamation made in due course after an election.
 Francis Ong cited the cases of Lonzanida v. COMELEC. The difference between the case at bench and Lonzanida is that
in Lonzanida, the result of the mayoralty election was declared a nullity for the stated reason of “failure of election”
and as a consequence thereof, the proclamation of Lonzanida as mayor was nullified. Also, he did not fully serve the
1995-1998 mayoral term, there being an involuntary severance from office as a result of legal processes. There was
an effective interruption of the continuity of service, which in the case at bar is not present.
 Just as unmeritorious as Francis' petition in G.R. No. 163295 is Rommel's petition in G.R. No. 163354 in which he
(Rommel) challenges the COMELEC's act of not including his name as a substitute candidate in the official list of
candidates for the May 10, 2004 elections. As it were, existing COMELEC policy provides for the non-inclusion of the
name of substitute candidates in the certified list of candidates pending approval of the substitution.
 Not to be overlooked is the Court's holding in Miranda vs. Abaya, that a candidate whose certificate of candidacy has
been cancelled or not given due course cannot be substituted by another belonging to the same political party as that
of the former, thus: While there is no dispute as to whether or not a nominee of a registered or accredited political
party may substitute for a candidate of the same party who had been disqualified for any cause, this does not include
those cases where the certificate of candidacy of the person to be substituted had been denied due course and
cancelled under Section 78 of the Code. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. While the law enumerated the occasions
where a candidate may be validly substituted, there is no mention of the case where a candidate is excluded not only
by disqualification but also by denial and cancellation of his certificate of candidacy. Under the foregoing rule, there
can be no valid substitution for the latter case, much in the same way that a nuisance candidate whose certificate of
candidacy is denied due course and/or cancelled may not be substituted. If the intent of the lawmakers were
otherwise, they could have so easily and conveniently included those persons whose certificates of candidacy have
been denied due course and/or cancelled under the provisions of Section 78 of the Code.
 A person without a valid certificate of candidacy cannot be considered a candidate in much the same way as any
person who has not filed any certificate of candidacy at all can not, by any stretch of the imagination, be a candidate
at all. After having considered the importance of a certificate of candidacy, it can be readily understood why in Bautista
vs. Comelec we ruled that a person with a cancelled certificate is no candidate at all. Applying this principle to the case
at bar and considering that Section 77 of the Code is clear and unequivocal that only an official candidate of a
registered or accredited party may be substituted, there demonstrably cannot be any possible substitution of a person
whose certificate of candidacy has been cancelled and denied due course.
 In any event, with the hard reality that the May 10, 2004 elections were already passé, Rommel Ong's petition in G.R.
No. 163354 is already moot and academic.
RULING
WHEREFORE, the instant petitions are DISMISSED and the assailed en banc Resolution dated May 7, 2004 of the
COMELEC, in SPA No. 04-048 AFFIRMED.
(SANTOS, 2B 2017-2018)

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