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Martinez vsMorfe

Political Law Privilege from Arrest


Petitioners Manuel Martinez y Festin and Fernando Bautista, Sr., as delegates of the present Constitutional Convention would invoke what they consider to be the protection of the above constitutional provision, if considered in connection with Article 145 of the Revised Penal Code penalizing a public officer or employee who shall, during the sessions of Congress, arrest or search any member thereof, except in case such member has committed a crime punishable under [such] Code by a penalty higher than prision mayor. For under the Constitutional Convention Act, delegates are entitled to the parliamentary immunities of a senator or a representative. Both petitioners are facing criminal prosecutions, the information filed against petitioner Manuel Martinez y Festin for falsification of a public document and two informations against petitioner Fernando Bautista, Sr. for violation of the Revised Election Code. The Solicitor General, on behalf of the respondent Judges in the above proceedings, would dispute such a contention on the ground that the constitutional provision does not cover any criminal prosecution being merely an exemption from arrest in civil cases, the logical inference being that insofar as a provision of the Revised Penal Code would expand such an immunity, it would be unconstitutional or at the very least inoperative. ISSUE: Whether or not Martinez and Bautista are immune from arrest. HELD: There is, to be sure, a full recognition of the necessity to have members of Congress, and likewise delegates to the Constitutional Convention, entitled to the utmost freedom to enable them to discharge their vital responsibilities, bowing to no other force except the dictates of their conscience. Necessarily the utmost latitude in free speech should be accorded them. When it comes to freedom from arrest, however, it would amount to the creation of a privileged class, without justification in reason, if notwithstanding their liability for a criminal offense, they would be considered immune during their attendance in Congress and in going to and returning from the same. There

is likely to be no dissent from the proposition that a legislator or a delegate can perform his functions efficiently and well, without the need for any transgression of the criminal law. Should such an unfortunate event come to pass, he is to be treated like any other citizen considering that there is a strong public interest in seeing to it that crime should not go unpunished. To the fear that may be expressed that the prosecuting arm of the government might unjustly go after legislators belonging to the minority, it suffices to answer that precisely all the safeguards thrown around an accused by the Constitution, solicitous of the rights of an individual, would constitute an obstacle to such an attempt at abuse of power. The presumption of course is that the judiciary would remain independent. It is trite to say that in each and every manifestation of judicial endeavor, such a virtue is of the essence. Petitioners cannot claim their claim to immunity.

***According to Art. VI, Sec. 15 of the Constitution: The Senators and Members of the House of Representatives shall in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of the Congress, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate therein, they shall not be questioned in any other place. EXEMPTION: They can be arrested in cases of Treason, Felony and Breach of Peace. Treason exists when the accused levies war against the Republic or adheres to its enemies giving them aid and comfort. A felony is act or omission punishable by law. Breach of the peace covers any offense whether defined by the Revised Penal Code or any special statute. It is a well-settled principle in public law that the public peace must be maintained and any breach thereof renders one susceptible to prosecution. Petitioners cannot claim their claim to immunity

People vs. Jalosjos G.R. No. 132875-76, February 3, 2000


Sunday, January 25, 2009 Posted by Coffeeholic Writes Labels: Case Digests, Political Law

The immunity from arrest or detention of Senators and members of the House of Representatives arises from a provision of the Constitution. The privilege has always been granted in a restrictive sense. The provision granting an exemption as a special privilege cannot be extended beyond the ordinary meaning of its terms. It may not be extended by intendment, implication or equitable considerations.

Facts:

The accused-appellant, Romeo Jalosjos, is a full-

fledged member of Congress who is confined at the national penitentiary while his conviction for statutory rape and acts of lasciviousness is pending appeal. The accused-appellant filed a motion asking that he be allowed to fully discharge the duties of a Congressman, includingattendance at legislative sessions and committee meetings despite his having been convicted in the first instance of a non-bailable offense on the basis of popular sovereignty and the need for his constituents to be represented.

The accused-appellant has not given any reason why he should be exempted from the operation of Sec. 11, Art. VI of the Constitution. The members of Congress cannot compel absent members to attend sessions if the reason for the absence is a legitimate one. The confinement of a Congressman charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than six years is not merely authorized by law, it has constitutional foundations. To allow accused-appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee meetings for 5 days or more in a week will virtually make him a free man with all the privileges appurtenant to his position. Such an aberrant situation not only elevates accused-

Issue: Whether or not accused-appellant should be allowed to


discharge mandate as member of House of Representatives

Held: Election

is the expression of the sovereign power of the

appellants status to that of a special class, it also would be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system.

people. However, inspite of its importance, the privileges and rights arising from having been elected may be enlarged or restricted by law.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 179817 June 27, 2008

with coup detat defined under Article 134-A of the Revised Penal Code before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 03-2784, "People v. Capt. Milo D. Maestrecampo, et al." Close to four years later, petitioner, who has remained in detention,2 threw his hat in the political arena and won a seat in the Senate with a six-year term commencing at noon on June 30, 2007.3 Before the commencement of his term or on June 22, 2007, petitioner filed with the RTC, Makati City, Branch 148, an "Omnibus Motion for Leave of Court to be Allowed to Attend Senate Sessions and Related Requests"4(Omnibus Motion). Among his requests were: (a) To be allowed to go to the Senate to attend all official functions of the Senate (whether at the Senate or elsewhere) particularly when the Senate is in session, and to attend the regular and plenary sessions of the Senate, committee hearings, committee meetings, consultations, investigations and hearings in aid of legislation, caucuses, staff meetings, etc., which are normally held at the Senate of the Philippines located at the GSIS Financial Center, Pasay City (usually from Mondays to Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.); (b) To be allowed to set up a working area at his place of detention at the Marine Brig, Marine Barracks Manila, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, with a personal desktop computer and the appropriate communications equipment (i.e., a telephone line and internet access) in order that he may be able to work there when there are no sessions, meetings or hearings at the Senate or when the Senate is not in session. The costs of setting up the said working area and the related equipment and utility costs can be charged against the budget/allocation of the Office of the accused from the Senate;

ANTONIO F. TRILLANES IV, petitioner, vs. HON. OSCAR PIMENTEL, SR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT- BRANCH 148, MAKATI CITY; GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, VICE ADM. ROGELIO I. CALUNSAG, MGEN. BENJAMIN DOLORFINO, AND LT. COL. LUCIARDO OBEA, respondents. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: At the wee hours of July 27, 2003, a group of more than 300 heavily armed soldiers led by junior officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stormed into the Oakwood Premier Apartments in Makati City and publicly demanded the resignation of the President and key national officials. Later in the day, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 427 and General Order No. 4 declaring a state of rebellion and calling out the Armed Forces to suppress the rebellion.1 A series of negotiations quelled the teeming tension and eventually resolved the impasse with the surrender of the militant soldiers that evening. In the aftermath of this eventful episode dubbed as the "Oakwood Incident," petitioner Antonio F. Trillanes IV was charged, along with his comrades,

(c) To be allowed to receive members of his staff at the said working area at his place of detention at the Marine Brig, Marine Barracks Manila, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, at reasonable times of the day particularly during working days for purposes of meetings, briefings, consultations and/or coordination, so that the latter may be able to assists (sic) him in the performance and discharge of his duties as a Senator of the Republic; (d) To be allowed to give interviews and to air his comments, reactions and/or opinions to the press or the media regarding the important issues affecting the country and the public while at the Senate or elsewhere in the performance of his duties as Senator to help shape public policy and in the light of the important role of the Senate in maintaining the system of checks and balance between the three (3) co-equal branches of Government; (e) With prior notice to the Honorable Court and to the accused and his custodians, to be allowed to receive, on Tuesdays and Fridays, reporters and other members of the media who may wish to interview him and/or to get his comments, reactions and/or opinion at his place of confinement at the Marine Brig, Marine Barracks Manila, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, particularly when there are no sessions, meetings or hearings at the Senate or when the Senate is not in session; and (f) To be allowed to attend the organizational meeting and election of officers of the Senate and related activities scheduled in the morning (9:00 or 10:00 a.m.) of 23 July 2007 at the Senate of the Philippines located at the GSIS Financial Center, Pasay City.5 By Order of July 25, 2007,6 the trial court denied all the requests in the Omnibus Motion. Petitioner moved for reconsideration in which he waived his requests in paragraphs (b), (c) and (f) to thus trim them down to three.7The trial court just the same denied the motion by Order of September 18, 2007.8

Hence, the present petition for certiorari to set aside the two Orders of the trial court, and for prohibition andmandamus to (i) enjoin respondents from banning the Senate staff, resource persons and guests from meeting with him or transacting business with him in his capacity as Senator; and (ii) direct respondents to allow him access to the Senate staff, resource persons and guests and permit him to attend all sessions and official functions of the Senate. Petitioner preliminarily prayed for the maintenance of the status quo ante of having been able hitherto to convene his staff, resource persons and guests9 at the Marine Brig. Impleaded as co-respondents of Judge Oscar Pimentel, Sr. are AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. HermogenesEsperon (Esperon); Philippine Navys Flag Officer-inCommand, Vice Admiral Rogelio Calunsag; Philippine Marines Commandant, Major Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino; and Marine Barracks Manila Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. LuciardoObea (Obea). Petitioner later manifested, in his Reply of February 26, 2008, that he has, since November 30, 2007, been in the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center following the foiled take-over of the Manila Peninsula Hotel10 the day before or on November 29, 2007. Such change in circumstances thus dictates the discontinuation of the action as against the above-named military officers-respondents. The issues raised in relation to them had ceased to present a justiciable controversy, so that a determination thereof would be without practical value and use. Meanwhile, against those not made parties to the case, petitioner cannot ask for reliefs from this Court.11 Petitioner did not, by way of substitution, implead the police officers currently exercising custodial responsibility over him; and he did not satisfactorily show that they have adopted or continued the assailed actions of the former custodians.12 Petitioner reiterates the following grounds which mirror those previously raised in his Motion for Reconsideration filed with the trial court:

I. THE JURISPRUDENCE CITED BY THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO IS CLEARLY INAPPLICABLE TO THE INSTANT CASE BECAUSE OF THE FOLLOWING REASONS: A. UNLIKE IN THIS CASE, THE ACCUSED IN THE JALOSJOS CASE WAS ALREADY CONVICTED AT THE TIME HE FILED HIS MOTION. IN THE INSTANT CASE, ACCUSED/PETITIONER HAS NOT BEEN CONVICTED AND, THEREFORE, STILL ENJOYS THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE; B.

II. GEN. ESPERON DID NOT OVERRULE THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE MARINE BRIGS COMMANDING OFFICER TO ALLOW PETITIONER TO ATTEND THE SENATE SESSIONS; III. ACCUSED/PETITIONER SUBMITS THAT THE FACT THAT THE PEOPLE, IN THEIR SOVEREIGN CAPACITY, ELECTED HIM TO THE POSITION OF SENATOR OF THE REPUBLIC PROVIDES THE PROPER LEGAL JUSTIFICATION TO ALLOW HIM TO WORK AND SERVE HIS MANDATE AS A SENATOR; - AND IV.

THE ACCUSED IN THE JALOJOS (SIC) CASE WAS CHARGED WITH TWO (2) COUNTS OF STATUTORY RAPE AND SIX (6) COUNTS OF ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS, CRIMES INVOLVING MORAL TURPITUDE. HEREIN ACCUSED/PETITIONER IS CHARGED WITH THE OFFENSE OF "COUP DETAT", A CHARGE WHICH IS COMMONLY REGARDED AS A POLITICAL OFFENSE; C. THE ACCUSED IN THE JALOSJOS CASE ATTEMPTED TO FLEE PRIOR TO BEING ARRESTED. THE ACCUSED/ PETITIONER VOLUNTARILY SURRENDERED TO THE AUTHORITIES AND AGREED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS ACTS AT OAKWOOD;

MOREOVER, THERE ARE ENOUGH PRECEDENTS TO ALLOW LIBERAL TREATMENT OF DETENTION PRISONERS WHO ARE HELD WITHOUT BAIL AS IN THE CASE OF FORMER PRESIDENT JOSEPH "ERAP" ESTRADA AND FORMER ARMM GOV. NUR MISUARI.13 The petition is bereft of merit. In attempting to strike a distinction between his case and that of Jalosjos, petitioner chiefly points out that former Rep. Romeo Jalosjos (Jalosjos) was already convicted, albeit his conviction was pending appeal, when he filed a motion similar to petitioners Omnibus Motion, whereas he (petitioner) is a mere detention prisoner. He asserts that he continues to enjoy civil and political rights since the presumption of innocence is still in his favor.

Further, petitioner illustrates that Jalosjos was charged with crimes involving moral turpitude, i.e., two counts of statutory rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness, whereas he is indicted for coup detat which is regarded as a "political offense." Furthermore, petitioner justifies in his favor the presence of noble causes in expressing legitimate grievances against the rampant and institutionalized practice of graft and corruption in the AFP. In sum, petitioners first ground posits that there is a world of difference between his case and that of Jalosjos respecting the type of offense involved, the stage of filing of the motion, and other circumstances which demonstrate the inapplicability of Jalosjos.14 A plain reading of.Jalosjos suggests otherwise, however. The distinctions cited by petitioner were not elemental in the pronouncement in Jalosjos that election to Congress is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement as the functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift one from the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement.15 It cannot be gainsaid that a person charged with a crime is taken into custody for purposes of the administration of justice. No less than the Constitution provides: All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpusis suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.16 (Underscoring supplied)

The Rules also state that no person charged with a capital offense,17 or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal action.18 That the cited provisions apply equally to rape and coup detat cases, both being punishable by reclusion perpetua,19 is beyond cavil. Within the class of offenses covered by the stated range of imposable penalties, there is clearly no distinction as to the political complexion of or moral turpitude involved in the crime charged. In the present case, it is uncontroverted that petitioners application for bail and for release on recognizance was denied.20 The determination that the evidence of guilt is strong, whether ascertained in a hearing of an application for bail21 or imported from a trial courts judgment of conviction,22 justifies the detention of an accused as a valid curtailment of his right to provisional liberty. This accentuates the proviso that the denial of the right to bail in such cases is "regardless of the stage of the criminal action." Such justification for confinement with its underlying rationale of public self-defense23 applies equally to detention prisoners like petitioner or convicted prisoners-appellants like Jalosjos. As the Court observed in Alejano v. Cabuay,24 it is impractical to draw a line between convicted prisoners and pre-trial detainees for the purpose of maintaining jail security; and while pre-trial detainees do not forfeit their constitutional rights upon confinement, the fact of their detention makes their rights more limited than those of the public. The Court was more emphatic in People v. Hon. Maceda:25 As a matter of law, when a person indicted for an offense is arrested, he is deemed placed under the custody of the law. He is placed in actual restraint of liberty in jail so that he may be bound to answer for the commission of the offense. He must be detained in jail during the pendency of the case against him, unless he is authorized by the court to be released on bail or on recognizance. Let it be stressed that all prisoners

whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence can not practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation, or hold office, elective or appointive, while in detention. This is a necessary consequence of arrest and detention.26 (Underscoring supplied) These inherent limitations, however, must be taken into account only to the extent that confinement restrains the power of locomotion or actual physical movement. It bears noting that in Jalosjos, which was decided en banc one month after Maceda, the Court recognized that the accused could somehow accomplish legislative results.27 The trial court thus correctly concluded that the presumption of innocence does not carry with it the full enjoyment of civil and political rights. Petitioner is similarly situated with Jalosjos with respect to the application of the presumption of innocence during the period material to the resolution of their respective motions. The Court in Jalosjos did not mention that the presumption of innocence no longer operates in favor of the accused pending the review on appeal of the judgment of conviction. The rule stands that until a promulgation of final conviction is made, the constitutional mandate of presumption of innocence prevails.28 In addition to the inherent restraints, the Court notes that petitioner neither denied nor disputed his agreeing to a consensus with the prosecution that media access to him should cease after his proclamation by the Commission on Elections.29 Petitioner goes on to allege that unlike Jalosjos who attempted to evade trial, he is not a flight risk since he voluntarily surrendered to the proper authorities and such can be proven by the numerous times he was allowed to travel outside his place of detention. Subsequent events reveal the contrary, however. The assailed Orders augured well when on November 29, 2007 petitioner went past security detail for some reason

and proceeded from the courtroom to a posh hotel to issue certain statements. The account, dubbed this time as the "Manila Pen Incident,"30 proves that petitioners argument bites the dust. The risk that he would escape ceased to be neither remote nor nil as, in fact, the cause for foreboding became real. Moreover, circumstances indicating probability of flight find relevance as a factor in ascertaining the reasonable amount of bail and in canceling a discretionary grant of bail.31 In cases involving non-bailable offenses, what is controlling is the determination of whether the evidence of guilt is strong. Once it is established that it is so, bail shall be denied as it is neither a matter of right nor of discretion.32 Petitioner cannot find solace in Montano v. Ocampo33 to buttress his plea for leeway because unlike petitioner, the therein petitioner, then Senator Justiniano Montano, who was charged with multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder,34 was able to rebut the strong evidence for the prosecution. Notatudignum is this Courts pronouncement therein that "if denial of bail is authorized in capital cases, it is only on the theory that the proof being strong, the defendant would flee, if he has the opportunity, rather than face the verdict of the jury."35 At the time Montano was indicted, when only capital offenses were non-bailable where evidence of guilt is strong,36 the Court noted the obvious reason that "one who faces a probable death sentence has a particularly strong temptation to flee."37 Petitioners petition for bail having earlier been denied, he cannot rely on Montano to reiterate his requests which are akin to bailing him out. Second, petitioner posits that, contrary to the trial courts findings, Esperon did not overrule Obeas recommendation to allow him to attend Senate sessions. Petitioner cites the Comment38 of Obea that he interposed no objection to such request but recommended that he be transported by the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms with adequate Senate security. And petitioner faults the trial court for deeming that Esperon, despite professing non-obstruction to the performance of petitioners duties, flatly rejected all his requests, when what Esperon only disallowed was the setting up of a political office inside a military installation owing to AFPs apolitical nature.39

The effective management of the detention facility has been recognized as a valid objective that may justify the imposition of conditions and restrictions of pre-trial detention.40 The officer with custodial responsibility over a detainee may undertake such reasonable measures as may be necessary to secure the safety and prevent the escape of the detainee. 41 Nevertheless, while the comments of the detention officers provide guidance on security concerns, they are not binding on the trial court in the same manner that pleadings are not impositions upon a court. Third, petitioner posits that his election provides the legal justification to allow him to serve his mandate, after the people, in their sovereign capacity, elected him as Senator. He argues that denying his Omnibus Motion is tantamount to removing him from office, depriving the people of proper representation, denying the peoples will, repudiating the peoples choice, and overruling the mandate of the people. Petitioners contention hinges on the doctrine in administrative law that "a public official can not be removed foradministrative misconduct committed during a prior term, since his re-election to office operates as a condonation of the officers previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right to remove him therefor." 42 The assertion is unavailing. The case against petitioner is not administrative in nature. And there is no "prior term" to speak of. In a plethora of cases, 43 the Court categorically held that the doctrine of condonation does not apply to criminal cases. Election, or more precisely, re-election to office, does not obliterate a criminal charge. Petitioners electoral victory only signifies pertinently that when the voters elected him to the Senate, "they did so with full awareness of the limitations on his freedom of action [and] x xx with the knowledge that he could achieve only such legislative results which he could accomplish within the confines of prison." 44 In once more debunking the disenfranchisement argument, 45 it is opportune to wipe out the lingering misimpression that the call of duty conferred by the voice of the people is louder than the litany of lawful restraints articulated in the Constitution and echoed by jurisprudence. The apparent discord may be harmonized by the overarching tenet that the mandate of the people yields to the Constitution which the people themselves ordained to govern all under the rule of law. The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to free a person validly in prison. The duties imposed by the "mandate of the people" are multifarious. The accused-appellant asserts that the duty to legislate ranks highest in the hierarchy of government. The accused-appellant is only one of 250 members of the House of Representatives, not to mention the 24 members of the Senate, charged with the duties of legislation. Congress continues to function well in the physical

absence of one or a few of its members. x xx Never has the call of a particular duty lifted a prisoner into a different classification from those others who are validly restrained by law.46 (Underscoring supplied) Lastly, petitioner pleads for the same liberal treatment accorded certain detention prisoners who have also been charged with non-bailable offenses, like former President Joseph Estrada and former Governor NurMisuari who were allowed to attend "social functions." Finding no rhyme and reason in the denial of the more serious request to perform the duties of a Senator, petitioner harps on an alleged violation of the equal protection clause. In arguing against maintaining double standards in the treatment of detention prisoners, petitioner expressly admits that he intentionally did not seek preferential treatment in the form of being placed under Senate custody or house arrest,47 yet he at the same time, gripes about the granting of house arrest to others. Emergency or compelling temporary leaves from imprisonment are allowed to all prisoners, at the discretion of the authorities or upon court orders.48 That this discretion was gravely abused, petitioner failed to establish. In fact, the trial court previously allowed petitioner to register as a voter in December 2006, file his certificate of candidacy in February 2007, cast his vote on May 14, 2007, be proclaimed as senator-elect, and take his oath of office49 on June 29, 2007. In a seeming attempt to bind or twist the hands of the trial court lest it be accused of taking a complete turn-around,50 petitioner largely banks on these prior grants to him and insists on unending concessions and blanket authorizations. Petitioners position fails. On the generality and permanence of his requests alone, petitioners case fails to compare with the species of allowable leaves. Jaloslos succinctly expounds: x xx Allowing accused-appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee meetings for five (5) days or more in a week will virtually make him a free man with all the privileges appurtenant to his position. Such an aberrant situation not only elevates accused-appellants status to that of a special class, it also would be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system.51 WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-17144 October 28, 1960

principally, that said members of the special committee be enjoined from proceeding in accordance with it, particularly the portion authorizing them to require him to substantiate his charges against the President with the admonition that if he failed to do so, he must show cause why the House should not punish him. The petition attached a copy of House Resolution No. 59, the pertinent portions of which reads as follows: WHEREAS, on the 23rd day of June, 1960 , the Honorable Sergio Osmea, Jr., Member of the House of Representatives from the Second District of the province of Cebu, took the floor of this chamber on the one hour privilege to deliver a speech, entitled 'A Message to Garcia; WHEREAS, in the course of said speech, the Congressman from the Second District of Cebu stated the following:. xxx xxx xxx

SERGIO OSMEA, JR., petitioner, vs. SALIPADA K. PENDATUN, LEON Z. GUINTO, JR., VICENTE L. PERALTA, FAUSTINO TOBIA, LORENZO G. TEVES, JOPSE J. ROY, FAUSTINO DUGENIO, ANTONIO Y. DE PIO, BENJAMIN T. LIGOT, PEDRO G. TRONO, FELIPE ABRIGO, FELIPE S. ABELEDA, TECLA SAN ANDRES ZIGA, ANGEL B. FERNADEZ, and EUGENIO S. BALTAO, in their capacity as members of the Special Committee created by House Resolution No. 59,respondents. Antonio Y. de Pio in his own behalf. F. S. Abeleda, A. b. Fernandez. E. S. Baltao and Tecla San Andres Ziga in their own behalf. C. T. Villareal and R. D. Bagatsing as amici curiae. BENGZON, J.: On July 14, 1960, Congressman Sergio Osmea, Jr., submitted to this Court a verified petition for "declaratory relief, certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction" against Congressman Salapida K. Pendatun and fourteen other congressmen in their capacity as members of the Special Committee created by House Resolution No. 59. He asked for annulment of such Resolution on the ground of infringenment of his parliamentary immunity; he also asked,

The people, Mr. President, have been hearing of ugly reports that under your unpopular administration the free things they used to get from the government are now for sale at premium prices. They say that even pardons are for sale, and that regardless of the gravity or seriousness of a criminal case, the culprit can always be bailed out forever from jail as long as he can come across with a handsome dole. I am afraid, such an anomalous situation would reflect badly on the kind of justice that your administration is dispensing. . . . . WHEREAS, the charges of the gentleman from the Second District of Cebu, if made maliciously or recklessly and without basis in truth and in fact, would constitute a serious assault upon the dignity and prestige of the Office of 37 3 the President, which is the one visible symbol of the

sovereignty of the Filipino people, and would expose said office to contempt and disrepute; . . . . Resolved by the House of Representative, that a special committee of fifteen Members to be appointed by the Speaker be, and the same hereby is, created to investigate the truth of the charges against the President of the Philippines made by Honorable Sergio Osmea, Jr., in his privilege speech of June 223, 1960, and for such purpose it is authorized to summon Honorable Sergio Osmea, jr., to appear before it to substantiate his charges, as well as to issue subpoena and/or subpoena ducestecum to require the attendance of witnesses and/or the production of pertinent papers before it, and if Honorable Sergio Osmea, Jr., fails to do so to require him to show cause why he should not be punished by the House. The special committee shall submit to the House a report of its findings and recommendations before the adjournment of the present special session of the Congress of the Philippines. In support of his request, Congressman Osmea alleged; first, the Resolution violated his constitutional absolute parliamentary immunity for speeches delivered in the House; second, his words constituted no actionable conduct; and third, after his allegedly objectionable speech and words, the House took up other business, and Rule XVII, sec. 7 of the Rules of House provides that if other business has intervened after the member had uttered obnoxious words in debate, he shall not be held to answer therefor nor be subject to censure by the House. Although some members of the court expressed doubts of petitioner's cause of action and the Court's jurisdiction, the majority decided to hear the matter further, and required respondents to answer, without issuing any preliminary injunction. Evidently aware of such circumstance with its implications, and pressed for time in view of the imminent adjournment of the legislative session, the special committee continued to perform its talk, and after giving Congressman Osmea a chance to defend himself, submitted its reports on July 18, 1960, finding said

congressman guilty of serious disorderly behaviour; and acting on such report, the House approved on the same daybefore closing its sessionHouse Resolution No. 175, declaring him guilty as recommended, and suspending him from office for fifteen months. Thereafter, on July 19, 1960, the respondents (with the exception of Congressmen De Pio, Abeleda, San Andres Ziga, Fernandez and Balatao)1 filed their answer, challenged the jurisdiction of this Court to entertain the petition, defended the power of Congress to discipline its members with suspension, upheld a House Resolution No. 175 and then invited attention to the fact that Congress having ended its session on July 18, 1960, the Committeewhose members are the sole respondentshad thereby ceased to exist. There is no question that Congressman Osmea, in a privilege speech delivered before the House, made the serious imputations of bribery against the President which are quoted in Resolution No. 59 and that he refused to produce before the House Committee created for the purpose, evidence to substantiate such imputations. There is also no question that for having made the imputations and for failing to produce evidence in support thereof, he was, by resolution of the House, suspended from office for a period of fifteen months for serious disorderly behaviour. Resolution No. 175 states in part: WHEREAS, the Special Committee created under and by virtue of Resolution No. 59, adopted on July 8, 1960, found Representative Sergio Osmea, Jr., guilty of serious disorderly behaviour for making without basis in truth and in fact, scurrilous, malicious, reckless and irresponsible charges against the President of the Philippines in his privilege speech of June 23, 1960; and

WHEREAS, the said charges are so vile in character that they affronted and degraded the dignity of the House of Representative: Now, Therefore, be it RESOLVED by the House of Representatives. That Representative Sergio Osmea, Jr., be, as he hereby is, declared guilty of serious disorderly behaviour; and . . . As previously stated, Osmea contended in his petition that: (1) the Constitution gave him complete parliamentary immunity, and so, for words spoken in the House, he ought not to be questioned; (20 that his speech constituted no disorderly behaviour for which he could be punished; and (3) supposing he could be questioned and discipline therefor, the House had lost the power to do so because it had taken up other business before approving House Resolution No. 59. Now, he takes the additional position (4) that the House has no power, under the Constitution, to suspend one of its members. Section 15, Article VI of our Constitution provides that "for any speech or debate" in Congress, the Senators or Members of the House of Representative "shall not be questioned in any other place." This section was taken or is a copy of sec. 6, clause 1 of Art. 1 of the Constitution of the United States. In that country, the provision has always been understood to mean that although exempt from prosecution or civil actions for their words uttered in Congress, the members of Congress may, nevertheless, be questioned in Congress itself. Observe that "they shall not be questioned in any other place" than Congress. Furthermore, the Rules of the House which petitioner himself has invoked (Rule XVII, sec. 7), recognize the House's power to hold a member responsible "for words spoken in debate." Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every legislative assembly of the democratic world. As old as the English Parliament, its purpose "is to enable and encourage a representative

of the public to discharge his public trust with firmness and success" for "it is indispensably necessary that he should enjoy the fullest liberty of speech, and that he should be protected from the resentment of every one, however powerful, to whom exercise of that liberty may occasion offense."2 Such immunity has come to this country from the practices of Parliamentary as construed and applied by the Congress of the United States. Its extent and application remain no longer in doubt in so far as related to the question before us. It guarantees the legislator complete freedom of expression without fear of being made responsible in criminal or civil actions before the courts or any other forum outside of the Congressional Hall. But is does not protect him from responsibility before the legislative body itself whenever his words and conduct are considered by the latter disorderly or unbecoming a member thereof. In the United States Congress, Congressman Fernando Wood of New York was censured for using the following language on the floor of the House: "A monstrosity, a measure the most infamous of the many infamous acts of the infamous Congress." (Hinds' Precedents, Vol. 2,. pp. 798-799). Two other congressmen were censured for employing insulting words during debate. (2 Hinds' Precedents, 799-801). In one case, a member of Congress was summoned to testify on a statement made by him in debate, but invoked his parliamentary privilege. The Committee rejected his plea. (3 Hinds' Precedents 123-124.) For unparliamentary conduct, members of Parliament or of Congress have been, or could be censured, committed to prison3, even expelled by the votes of their colleagues. The appendix to this decision amply attest to the consensus of informed opinion regarding the practice and the traditional power of legislative assemblies to take disciplinary action against its members, including imprisonment, suspension or expulsion. It mentions one instance of suspension of a legislator in a foreign country. And to cite a local illustration, the Philippine Senate, in April 1949, suspended a senator for one year.

Needless to add, the Rules of Philippine House of Representatives provide that the parliamentary practices of the Congress of the United States shall apply in a supplementary manner to its proceedings. This brings up the third point of petitioner: the House may no longer take action against me, he argues, because after my speech, and before approving Resolution No. 59, it had taken up other business. Respondents answer that Resolution No. 59 was unanimously approved by the House, that such approval amounted to a suspension of the House Rules, which according to standard parliamentary practice may done by unanimous consent. Granted, counters the petitioner, that the House may suspended the operation of its Rules, it may not, however, affect past acts or renew its rights to take action which had already lapsed. The situation might thus be compared to laws4 extending the period of limitation of actions and making them applicable to actions that had lapsed. The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld such laws as against the contention that they impaired vested rights in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Campbell vs. Holt, 115 U. S. 620). The states hold divergent views. At any rate, court are subject to revocation modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them."5 And it has been said that "Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with their observancem, the courts have no concern. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body." Consequently, "mere failure to conform to parliamentary usage will not invalidate the action (taken by a deliberative body) when the requisited number of members have agreed to a particular measure."6 The following is quoted from a reported decision of the Supreme court of Tennessee: The rule here invoked is one of parliamentary procedure, and it is uniformly held that it is within the power of all deliberative bodies to

abolish, modify, or waive their own rules of procedure, adopted for the orderly con duct of business, and as security against hasty action. (Bennet vs. New Bedford, 110 Mass, 433; Holt vs.Somerville, 127 Mass. 408, 411; City of Sadalia vs. Scott, 104 Mo. App. 595, 78 S. W. 276; Ex parte Mayor, etc., of Albany, 23 Wend. [N. Y.]277, 280; Wheelock vs. City of Lowell, 196 Mass. 220, 230. 81 N. e. 977, 124 Am. St. Rep. 543, 12 Ann. Cas. 1109; City of Corinth vs. Sharp, 107 Miss. 696, 65 So. 888; McGraw vs.Whitson, 69 Iowa, 348, 28 N. W. 632; Tuell vs. Meacham Contracting Co. 145 Ky. 181, 186, 140 S. W. Ann. Cas. 1913B, 802.)[Takenfrom the case of Rutherford vs. City of Nashville, 78 south Western Reporter, p. 584.] It may be noted in this connection, that in the case of Congressman Stanbery of Ohio, who insulted the Speaker, for which Act a resolution of censure was presented, the House approved the resolution, despite the argument that other business had intervened after the objectionable remarks. (2 Hinds' Precedents pp. 799-800.) On the question whether delivery of speeches attacking the Chief Executive constitutes disorderly conduct for which Osmea may be discipline, many arguments pro and con have been advanced. We believe, however, that the House is the judge of what constitutes disorderly behaviour, not only because the Constitution has conferred jurisdiction upon it, but also because the matter depends mainly on factual circumstances of which the House knows best but which can not be depicted in black and white for presentation to, and adjudication by the Courts. For one thing, if this Court assumed the power to determine whether Osmea conduct constituted disorderly behaviour, it would thereby have assumed appellate jurisdiction, which the Constitution never intended to confer upon a coordinate branch of the Government. The theory of separation of powers fastidiously observed by this Court, demands in such situation a prudent refusal to interfere. Each department, it has been said, had exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction and is supreme within its own sphere. (Angara vs. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil., 139.)

SEC. 200.Judicial Interference with Legislature. The principle is well established that the courts will not assume a jurisdiction in any case amount to an interference by the judicial department with the legislature since each department is equally independent within the power conferred upon it by the Constitution. . . . . The general rule has been applied in other cases to cause the courts to refuse to intervene in what are exclusively legislative functions. Thus, where the stated Senate is given the power to example a member, the court will not review its action or revise even a most arbitrary or unfair decision. (11 Am. Jur., Const. Law, sec. p. 902.) [Emphasis Ours.]. The above statement of American law merely abridged the landmark case of Clifford vs. French.7 In 1905, several senators who had been expelled by the State Senate of California for having taken a bribe, filed mandamus proceeding to compel reinstatement, alleging the Senate had given them no hearing, nor a chance to make defense, besides falsity of the charges of bribery. The Supreme Court of California declined to interfere , explaining in orthodox juristic language: Under our form of government, the judicial department has no power to revise even the most arbitrary and unfair action of the legislative department, or of either house thereof, taking in pursuance of the power committed exclusively to that department by the Constitution. It has been held by high authority that, even in the absence of an express provision conferring the power, every legislative body in which is vested the general legislative power of the state has the implied power to expel a member for any cause which it may deem sufficient. In Hiss. vs. Barlett, 3 Gray 473, 63 Am. Dec. 768, the supreme court of Mass. says, in substance, that this power is inherent in every legislative body; that it is necessary to the to enable the body 'to perform its high functions, and is necessary to the safety of the state;' 'That it is a power of self-protection, and that the legislative body must necessarily be the sole judge of the exigency which may justify and require its exercise. '. . . There is no provision authority

courts to control, direct, supervise, or forbid the exercise by either house of the power to expel a member. These powers are functions of the legislative department and therefore, in the exercise of the power this committed to it, the senate is supreme. An attempt by this court to direct or control the legislature, or either house thereof, in the exercise of the power, would be an attempt to exercise legislative functions, which it is expressly forbidden to do. We have underscored in the above quotation those lines which in our opinion emphasize the principles controlling this litigation. Although referring to expulsion, they may as well be applied to other disciplinary action. Their gist as applied to the case at bar: the House has exclusive power; the courts have no jurisdiction to interfere. Our refusal to intervene might impress some readers as subconscious hesitation due to discovery of impermissible course of action in the legislative chamber. Nothing of that sort: we merely refuse to disregard the allocation of constitutional functions which it is our special duty to maintain. Indeed, in the interest of comity, we feel bound to state that in a conscientious survey of governing principles and/or episodic illustrations, we found the House of Representatives of the United States taking the position upon at least two occasions, that personal attacks upon the Chief Executive constitute unparliamentary conduct or breach of orders.8 And in several instances, it took action against offenders, even after other business had been considered.9 Petitioner's principal argument against the House's power to suspend is the Alejandrino precedent. In 1924, Senator Alejandrino was, by resolution of Senate, suspended from office for 12 months because he had assaulted another member of the that Body or certain phrases the latter had uttered in the course of a debate. The Senator applied to this Court for reinstatement, challenging the validity of the resolution. Although this Court held that in view of the separation of powers, it had no jurisdiction to compel the Senate to reinstate petitioner, it nevertheless went on to say the Senate had no power to adopt the resolution because

suspension for 12 months amounted to removal, and the Jones Law (under which the Senate was then functioning) gave the Senate no power to remove an appointive member, like Senator Alejandrino. The Jones Law specifically provided that "each house may punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds votes, expel an elective member (sec. 18). Note particularly the word "elective." The Jones Law, it mist be observed, empowered the Governor General to appoint "without consent of the Senate and without restriction as to residence senators . . . who will, in his opinion, best represent the Twelfth District." Alejandrino was one appointive Senator. It is true, the opinion in that case contained an obiter dictum that "suspension deprives the electoral district of representation without that district being afforded any means by which to fill that vacancy." But that remark should be understood to refer particularly to the appointive senator who was then the affected party and who was by the same Jones Law charged with the duty to represent the Twelfth District and maybe the view of the Government of the United States or of the Governor-General, who had appointed him. It must be observed, however, that at that time the Legislature had only those power which were granted to it by the Jones Law10; whereas now the Congress has the full legislative powers and preprogatives of a sovereign nation, except as restricted by the Constitution. In other words, in the Alejandrino case, the Court reached the conclusion that the Jones Law did not give the Senate the power it then exercisedthe power of suspension for one year. Whereas now, as we find, the Congress has the inherent legislative prerogative of suspension11 which the Constitution did not impair. In fact, as already pointed out, the Philippine Senate suspended a Senator for 12 months in 1949. The Legislative power of the Philippine Congress is plenary, subject only to such limitations are found in the Republic's Constitution. So that any power deemed to be legislative by usage or tradition, is necessarily

possessed by the Philippine Congress, unless the Constitution provides otherwise. (Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil., 192, 212 .) In any event, petitioner's argument as to the deprivation of the district's representation can not be more weightly in the matter of suspension than in the case of imprisonment of a legislator; yet deliberative bodies have the power in proper cases, to commit one of their members to jail.12 Now come questions of procedure and jurisdiction. the petition intended to prevent the Special Committee from acting tin pursuance of House Resolution No. 59. Because no preliminary injunction had been issued, the Committee performed its task, reported to the House, and the latter approved the suspension order. The House had closed it session, and the Committee has ceased to exist as such. It would seem, therefore, the case should be dismissed for having become moot or academic.13 Of course, there is nothing to prevent petitioner from filing new pleadings to include all members of the House as respondents, ask for reinstatement and thereby to present a justiciable cause. Most probable outcome of such reformed suit, however, will be a pronouncement of lack of jurisdiction, as in Vera vs. Avelino14 and Alejandrino vs. Qeuaon.15 At any rate, having perceived suitable solutions to the important questions of political law, the Court thought it proper to express at this time its conclusions on such issues as were deemed relevant and decisive. ACCORDINGLY, the petition has to be, and is hereby dismissed. So ordered. Paras, C. J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Barrera, Gutierrez David, Paredes, and Dizon, JJ., concur.

EN BANC

MA. FLORES P. ADOVO, MERCY E. GILO and BIENVENIDO OLLAVE, SR., petitioners, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and EDWARD S. HAGEDORN, respondents. DECISION

[G.R. No. 154512. November 12, 2002]

CARPIO, J.:

VICTORINO DENNIS M. SOCRATES, Mayor of Puerto Princesa City, petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THE PREPARATORY RECALL ASSEMBLY (PRA) of Puerto Princesa City, PRA Interim Chairman PunongBgy. MARK DAVID HAGEDORN, PRA Interim Secretary PunongBgy. BENJAMIN JARILLA, PRA Chairman and Presiding Officer PunongBgy. EARL S. BUENVIAJE and PRA Secretary PunongBgy.CARLOS ABALLA, JR. respondents.

The Case Before us are consolidated petitions for certiorari[1] seeking the reversal of the resolutions issued by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC for brevity) in relation to the recall election for mayor of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

The Antecedents On July 2, 2002, 312 out of 528 members of the then incumbent barangay officials of the Puerto Princesa convened themselves into a Preparatory Recall Assembly (PRA for brevity) at the Gymnasium of Barangay San Jose from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The PRA was convened to initiate the recall[2] of Victorino Dennis M. Socrates (Socrates for brevity) who assumed office as Puerto Princesas mayor on June 30, 2001. The members of the PRA designated Mark David M. Hagedorn, president of the Association of Barangay Captains, as interim chair of the PRA. On the same date, the PRA passed Resolution No. 01-02 (Recall Resolution for brevity) which declared its loss of confidence in Socrates and called for his recall. The PRA requested the COMELEC to schedule the recall election for mayor within 30 days from receipt of the Recall Resolution. On July 16, 2002, Socrates filed with the COMELEC a petition, docketed as E.M. No. 02-010 (RC), to nullify and deny due course to the Recall Resolution.

[G.R. No. 154683. November 12, 2002]

VICENTE S. SANDOVAL, JR., petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

[G.R. Nos. 155083-84. November 12, 2002]

On August 14, 2002, the COMELEC en banc[3] promulgated a resolution dismissing for lack of merit Socrates petition. The COMELEC gave due course to the Recall Resolution and scheduled the recall election on September 7, 2002. On August 21, 2002, the COMELEC en banc promulgated Resolution No. 5673 prescribing the calendar of activities and periods of certain prohibited acts in connection with the recall election. The COMELEC fixed the campaign period from August 27, 2002 to September 5, 2002 or a period of 10 days. On August 23, 2002, Edward M. Hagedorn (Hagedorn for brevity) filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor in the recall election. On August 17, 2002, Ma. Flores F. Adovo (Adovo for brevity) and Merly E. Gilo (Gilo for brevity) filed a petition before the COMELEC, docketed as SPA No. 02-492, to disqualify Hagedorn from running in the recall election and to cancel his certificate of candidacy. On August 30, 2002, a certain BienvenidoOllave, Sr. (Ollave for brevity) filed a petition-in-intervention in SPA No. 02-492 also seeking to disqualify Hagedorn. On the same date, a certain Genaro V. Manaay filed another petition, docketed as SPA No. 02-539, against Hagedorn alleging substantially the same facts and involving the same issues. The petitions were all anchored on the ground that Hagedorn is disqualified from running for a fourth consecutive term, having been elected and having served as mayor of the city for three (3) consecutive full terms immediately prior to the instant recall election for the same post. Subsequently, SPA Nos. 02-492 and 02-539 were consolidated. In a resolution promulgated on September 20, 2002, the COMELECs First Division[4] dismissed for lack of merit SPA Nos. 02-492 and 02-539. The COMELEC declared Hagedorn qualified to run in the recall election. The COMELEC also reset the recall election from September 7, 2002 to September 24, 2002. On September 23, 2002, the COMELEC en banc promulgated a resolution denying the motion for reconsideration of Adovo and Gilo. The COMELEC affirmed the resolution declaring Hagedorn qualified to run in the recall election.

Hence, the instant consolidated petitions. G.R. No. 154512 Petitioner Socrates seeks to nullify the COMELEC en banc resolution dated August 14, 2002 in E.M. No. 02-010 (RC) which gave due course to the Recall Resolution and scheduled the recall election on September 7, 2002. Socrates alleges that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in upholding the Recall Resolution. Socrates cites the following circumstances as legal infirmities attending the convening of the PRA and its issuance of the Recall Resolution: (1) not all members of the PRA were notified of the meeting to adopt the resolution; (2) the proof of service of notice was palpably and legally deficient; (3) the members of the PRA were themselves seeking a new electoral mandate from their respective constituents; (4) the adoption of the resolution was exercised with grave abuse of authority; and (5) the PRA proceedings were conducted in a manner that violated his and the publics constitutional right to information. G.R. No. 154683 Petitioner Vicente S. Sandoval, Jr. seeks to annul COMELEC Resolution No. 5673 dated August 21, 2002 insofar as it fixed the recall election on September 7, 2002, giving the candidates only a ten-day campaign period. He prayed that the COMELEC be enjoined from holding the recall election on September 7, 2002 and that a new date be fixed giving the candidates at least an additional 15 days to campaign. In a resolution dated September 3, 2002, the Court en banc enjoined the COMELEC from implementing Resolution No. 5673 insofar as it fixed the date of the recall election on September 7, 2002. The Court directed the COMELEC to give the candidates an additional fifteen 15 days from September 7, 2002 within which to campaign. Accordingly, on September 9, 2002, the COMELEC en banc issued Resolution No. 5708 giving the candidates an additional 15 days from September

7, 2002 within which to campaign. Thus, the COMELEC reset the recall election to September 24, 2002. G.R. Nos. 155083-84 Petitioners Adovo, Gilo and Ollave assail the COMELECs resolutions dated September 20, 2002 and September 23, 2002 in SPA Nos. 02-492 and 02-539 declaring Hagedorn qualified to run for mayor in the recall election. They likewise prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to enjoin the proclamation of the winning candidate in the recall election. Petitioners argue that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in upholding Hagedorns qualification to run for mayor in the recall election despite the constitutional and statutory prohibitions against a fourth consecutive term for elective local officials. In a resolution dated September 24, 2002, the Court ordered the COMELEC to desist from proclaiming any winning candidate in the recall election until further orders from the Court. Petitioners were required to post aP20,000 bond. On September 27, 2002, Socrates filed a motion for leave to file an attached petition for intervention seeking the same reliefs as those sought by Adovo, Gilo and Ollave. In the meantime, Hagedorn garnered the highest number of votes in the recall election with 20,238 votes. Rival candidates Socrates and Sandoval obtained 17,220 votes and 13,241 votes, respectively. Hagedorn filed motions to lift the order restraining the COMELEC from proclaiming the winning candidate and to allow him to assume office to give effect to the will of the electorate. On October 1, 2002, the Court granted Socrates motion for leave to file a petition for intervention.

The Issues The issues for resolution of the Court are: 1. In G.R. No. 154512, whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in giving due course to the Recall Resolution and scheduling the recall election for mayor of Puerto Princesa. 2. In G.R. Nos.155083-84, whether Hagedorn is qualified to run for mayor in the recall election of Puerto Princesa on September 24, 2002. In G.R. No. 154683, the issue of whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in fixing a campaign period of only 10 days has become moot. Our Resolution of September 3, 2002 and COMELEC Resolution No. 5708 granted an additional 15 days for the campaign period as prayed for by petitioner.

First Issue: Validity of the Recall Resolution. Petitioner Socrates argues that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in upholding the Recall Resolution despite the absence of notice to 130 PRA members and the defective service of notice to other PRA members. The COMELEC, however, found that On various dates, in the month of June 2002, the proponents for the Recall of incumbent City Mayor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates sent notices of the convening of the PRA to the members thereof pursuant to Section 70 of the Local Government Code. Copies of the said notice are in Volumes I and II entitled Notices to PRA. Likewise, Proof of Service for each of the said notices were attached to the Petition and marked as Annex G of Volumes II and III of the Petition.

Notices were likewise posted in conspicuous places particularly at the Barangay Hall. Photos establishing the same were attached to the Petition and marked as Annex H. The proponents likewise utilized the broadcast mass media in the dissemination of the convening of the PRA. Notices of the convening of the Puerto Princesa PRA were also sent to the following: [a list of 25 names of provincial elective officials, print and broadcast media practitioners, PNP officials, COMELEC city, regional and national officials, and DILG officials]. x xx The City Election Officer of Puerto Princesa City in her Certification dated 10 July 2002 certified that upon a thorough and careful verification of the signatures appearing in PRA Resolution 01-02, x xx the majority of all members of the PRA concerned approved said resolution. She likewise certified that not a single member/signatory of the PRA complained or objected as to the veracity and authenticity of their signatures. The Provincial Election Supervisor of Palawan, Atty. UrbanoArlando, in his Indorsement dated 10 July 2002, stated, upon proper review, all documents submitted are found in order. The Acting Director IV, Region IV, in his study dated 30 July 2002 submitted the following recommendations: This Office, after evaluating the documents filed, finds the instant Petition sufficient in form and substance. That the PRA was validly constituted and that the majority of all members thereof approved Resolution No. 01-02 calling for the recall of Mayor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates. x xx .

This Court is bound by the findings of fact of the COMELEC on matters within the competence and expertise of the COMELEC, unless the findings are patently erroneous. In Malonzo v. COMELEC,[5] which also dealt with alleged defective service of notice to PRA members, we ruled that Needless to state, the issue of propriety of the notices sent to the PRA members is factual in nature, and the determination of the same is therefore a function of the COMELEC. In the absence of patent error, or serious inconsistencies in the findings, the Court should not disturb the same. The factual findings of the COMELEC, based on its own assessments and duly supported by gathered evidence, are conclusive upon the court, more so, in the absence of a substantiated attack on the validity of the same. In the instant case, we do not find any valid reason to hold that the COMELECs findings of fact are patently erroneous. Socrates also claims that the PRA members had no authority to adopt the Recall Resolution on July 2, 2002 because a majority of PRA members were seeking a new electoral mandate in the barangay elections scheduled on July 15, 2002. This argument deserves scant consideration considering that when the PRA members adopted the Recall Resolution their terms of office had not yet expired. They were all de jure sangguniang barangay members with no legal disqualification to participate in the recall assembly under Section 70 of the Local Government Code. Socrates bewails that the manner private respondents conducted the PRA proceedings violated his constitutional right to information on matters of public concern. Socrates, however, admits receiving notice of the PRA meeting and of even sending his representative and counsel who were present during the entire PRA proceedings. Proponents of the recall election submitted to the COMELEC the Recall Resolution, minutes of the PRA proceedings, the journal of the PRA assembly, attendance sheets, notices sent to PRA members, and authenticated master list of barangay officials in Puerto Princesa. Socrates had the right to examine and copy all these public records in the official custody of the

COMELEC. Socrates, however, does not claim that the COMELEC denied him this right. There is no legal basis in Socrates claim that respondents violated his constitutional right to information on matters of public concern. Thus, we rule that the COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in upholding the validity of the Recall Resolution and in scheduling the recall election on September 24, 2002. Second Issue: Hagedorns qualification to run for mayor in the recall election of September 24, 2002. The three-term limit rule for elective local officials is found in Section 8, Article X of the Constitution, which states: Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected. This three-term limit rule is reiterated in Section 43 (b) of RA No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, which provides: Section 43.Term of Office. (a) x xx (b) No local elective official shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms in the same position. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official was elected. These constitutional and statutory provisions have two parts. The first part provides that an elective local official cannot serve for more than three

consecutive terms. The clear intent is that only consecutive terms count in determining the three-term limit rule. The second part states that voluntary renunciation of office for any length of time does not interrupt the continuity of service. The clear intent is that involuntary severance from office for any length of time interrupts continuity of service and prevents the service before and after the interruption from being joined together to form a continuous service or consecutive terms. After three consecutive terms, an elective local official cannot seek immediate reelection for a fourth term. The prohibited election refers to the next regular election for the same office following the end of the third consecutive term. Any subsequent election, like a recall election, is no longer covered by the prohibition for two reasons. First, a subsequent election like a recall election is no longer an immediate reelection after three consecutive terms. Second, the intervening period constitutes an involuntary interruption in the continuity of service. When the framers of the Constitution debated on the term limit of elective local officials, the question asked was whether there would be no further election after three terms, or whether there would be no immediate reelection after three terms. This is clear from the following deliberations of the Constitutional Commission: THE PRESIDENT: The Acting Floor Leader is recognized.

MR. ROMULO:[6] We are now ready to discuss the two issues, as indicated on the blackboard, and these are Alternative No. I where there is no further election after a total of three terms and Alternative No. 2 where there is no immediate reelection after three successive terms.[7] The Journal of the Constitutional Commission reports the following manifestation on the term of elective local officials: MANIFESTATION OF MR. ROMULO

Upon resumption of session, Mr. Romulo manifested that the Body would proceed to the consideration of two issues on the term of Representatives and local officials, namely: 1) Alternative No. 1 (no further reelection after a total of three terms), and 2) Alternative No. 2 (no immediate reelection after three successive terms).[8] The framers of the Constitution used the same no immediate reelection question in voting for the term limits of Senators[9] and Representatives of the House.[10] Clearly, what the Constitution prohibits is an immediate reelection for a fourth term following three consecutive terms. The Constitution, however, does not prohibit a subsequent reelection for a fourth term as long as the reelection is not immediately after the end of the third consecutive term. A recall election mid-way in the term following the third consecutive term is a subsequent election but not an immediate reelection after the third term. Neither does the Constitution prohibit one barred from seeking immediate reelection to run in any other subsequent election involving the same term of office. What the Constitution prohibits is a consecutive fourth term. The debates in the Constitutional Commission evidently show that the prohibited election referred to by the framers of the Constitution is the immediate reelection after the third term, not any other subsequent election. If the prohibition on elective local officials is applied to any election within the three-year full term following the three-term limit, then Senators should also be prohibited from running in any election within the six-year full term following their two-term limit. The constitutional provision on the term limit of Senators is worded exactly like the term limit of elective local officials, thus: No Senator shall serve for more than two consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.[11]

In the debates on the term limit of Senators, the following exchange in the Constitutional Convention is instructive: GASCON:[12] I would like to ask a question with regard to the issue after the second term. We will allow the Senator to rest for a period of time before he can run again? DAVIDE:[13] That is correct.

GASCON: And the question that we left behind before - if the Gentleman will remember - was: How long will that period of rest be? Will it be one election which is three years or one term which is six years? DAVIDE: If the Gentleman will remember, Commissioner Rodrigo expressed the view that during the election following the expiration of the first 12 years, whether such election will be on the third or on the sixth year thereafter, this particular member of the Senate can run. So, it is not really a period of hibernation for six years. That was the Committees stand. GASCON: So, effectively, the period of rest would be three years at the least.[14] (Emphasis supplied) The framers of the Constitution thus clarified that a Senator can run after only three years[15] following his completion of two terms. The framers expressly acknowledged that the prohibited election refers only to the immediatereelection, and not to any subsequent election, during the six-year period following the two term limit. The framers of the Constitution did not intend the period of rest of an elective official who has reached his term limit to be the full extent of the succeeding term. In the case of Hagedorn, his candidacy in the recall election on September 24, 2002 is not an immediate reelection after his third consecutive term which ended on June 30, 2001. The immediate reelection that the Constitution barred

Hagedorn from seeking referred to the regular elections in 2001. Hagedorn did not seek reelection in the 2001 elections. Hagedorn was elected for three consecutive terms in the 1992, 1995 and 1998 elections and served in full his three consecutive terms as mayor of Puerto Princesa. Under the Constitution and the Local Government Code, Hagedorn could no longer run for mayor in the 2001 elections. The Constitution and the Local Government Code disqualified Hagedorn, who had reached the maximum three-term limit, from running for a fourth consecutive term as mayor. Thus, Hagedorn did not run for mayor in the 2001 elections.[16] Socrates ran and won as mayor of Puerto Princesa in the 2001 elections. After Hagedorn ceased to be mayor on June 30, 2001, he became a private citizen until the recall election of September 24, 2002 when he won by 3,018 votes over his closest opponent, Socrates. From June 30, 2001 until the recall election on September 24, 2002, the mayor of Puerto Princesa was Socrates. During the same period, Hagedorn was simply a private citizen. This period is clearly an interruption in the continuity of Hagedorns service as mayor, not because of his voluntary renunciation, but because of a legal prohibition. Hagedorns three consecutive terms ended on June 30, 2001. Hagedorns new recall term from September 24, 2002 to June 30, 2004 is not a seamless continuation of his previous three consecutive terms as mayor. One cannot stitch together Hagedorns previous three-terms with his new recall term to make the recall term a fourth consecutive term because factually it is not. An involuntary interruption occurred from June 30, 2001 to September 24, 2002 which broke the continuity or consecutive character of Hagedorns service as mayor. In Lonzanida v. Comelec,[17] the Court had occasion to explain interruption of continuity of service in this manner: x xx The second sentence of the constitutional provision under scrutiny states, Voluntary renunciation of office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which he was elected. The clear intent of the framers of the constitution to

bar any attempt to circumvent the three-term limit by a voluntary renunciation of office and at the same time respect the peoples choice and grant their elected official full service of a term is evident in this provision. 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. x xx. (Emphasis supplied) In Hagedorns case, the nearly 15-month period he was out of office, although short of a full term of three years, constituted an interruption in the continuity of his service as mayor. The Constitution does not require the interruption or hiatus to be a full term of three years. The clear intent is that interruption for any length of time, as long as the cause is involuntary, is sufficient to break an elective local officials continuity of service. In the recent case of Adormeo v. Comelec and Talaga,[18] a unanimous Court reiterated the rule that an interruption consisting of a portion of a term of office breaks the continuity of service of an elective local official. InAdormeo, Ramon Y. Talaga, Jr. had served two consecutive full terms as mayor of Lucena City. In his third bid for election as mayor in 1998, Talaga lost to Bernard G. Tagarao. However, in the recall election of May 12, 2000, Talaga won and served the unexpired term of Tagarao from May 12, 2000 to June 30, 2001. When Talaga ran again for mayor in the 2001 elections, RaymundoAdormeo, the other candidate for mayor, petitioned for Talagas disqualification on the ground that Talaga had already served three consecutive terms as mayor. Thus, the issue in Adormeo was whether Talagas recall term was a continuation of his previous two terms so that he was deemed to have already served three consecutive terms as mayor. The Court ruled that Talaga was qualified to run in the 2001 elections, stating that the period from June 30, 1998 to May 12, 2000 when Talaga was out of office interrupted the continuity of his service as mayor. Talagas recall term as mayor was not consecutive to his

previous two terms because of this interruption, there having been a break of almost two years during which time Tagarao was the mayor. We held in Adormeo that the period an elective local official is out of office interrupts the continuity of his service and prevents his recall term from being stitched together as a seamless continuation of his previous two consecutive terms. In the instant case, we likewise hold that the nearly 15 months Hagedorn was out of office interrupted his continuity of service and prevents his recall term from being stitched together as a seamless continuation of his previous three consecutive terms. The only difference between Adormeo and the instant case is the time of the interruption. In Adormeo, the interruption occurred after the first two consecutive terms. In the instant case, the interruption happened after the first three consecutive terms. In both cases, the respondents were seeking election for a fourth term. In Adormeo, the recall term of Talaga began only from the date he assumed office after winning the recall election. Talagas recall term did not retroact to include the tenure in office of his predecessor. If Talagas recall term was made to so retroact, then he would have been disqualified to run in the 2001 elections because he would already have served three consecutive terms prior to the 2001 elections. One who wins and serves a recall term does not serve the full term of his predecessor but only the unexpired term. The period of time prior to the recall term, when another elective official holds office, constitutes an interruption in continuity of service. Clearly, Adormeo established the rule that the winner in the recall election cannot be charged or credited with the full term of three years for purposes of counting the consecutiveness of an elective officials terms in office. In the same manner, Hagedorns recall term does not retroact to include the tenure in office of Socrates. Hagedorn can only be disqualified to run in the September 24, 2002 recall election if the recall term is made to retroact to June 30, 2001, for only then can the recall term constitute a fourth consecutive term. But to consider Hagedorns recall term as a full term of three years, retroacting to June 30, 2001, despite the fact that he won his recall term only last

September 24, 2002, is to ignore reality. This Court cannot declare as consecutive or successive terms of office which historically and factually are not. Worse, to make Hagedorns recall term retroact to June 30, 2001 creates a legal fiction that unduly curtails the freedom of the people to choose their leaders through popular elections. The concept of term limits is in derogation of the sovereign will of the people to elect the leaders of their own choosing. Term limits must be construed strictly to give the fullest possible effect to the sovereign will of the people. As this Court aptly stated in Borja, Jr. v. Comelec: Thus, a consideration of the historical background of Art. X, 8 of the Constitution reveals that the members of the Constitutional Commission were as much concerned with preserving the freedom of choice of the people as they were with preventing the monopolization of political power. Indeed, they rejected a proposal put forth by Commissioner Edmundo F. Garcia that after serving three consecutive terms or nine years there should be no further reelection for local and legislative officials. Instead, they adopted the alternative proposal of Commissioner Christian Monsod that such officials be simply barred from running for the same position in the succeeding election following the expiration of the third consecutive term. Monsod warned against prescreening candidates [from] whom the people will choose as a result of the proposed absolute disqualification, considering that the draft constitution contained provisions recognizing people's power.[19] (Emphasis supplied) A necessary consequence of the interruption of continuity of service is the start of a new term following the interruption. An official elected in recall election serves the unexpired term of the recalled official. This unexpired term is in itself one term for purposes of counting the three-term limit. This is clear from the following discussion in the Constitutional Commission: SUAREZ:[20] For example, a special election is called for a Senator, and the Senator newly elected would have to serve the unexpired portion of the term. Would that mean that serving the unexpired portion of the term is

already considered one term? So, half a term, which is actually the correct statement, plus one term would disqualify the Senator concerned from running? Is that the meaning of this provision on disqualification, Madam President? DAVIDE: Yes, because we speak of term, and if there is a special election, he will serve only for the unexpired portion of that particular term plus one more term for the Senator and two more terms for the Members of the Lower House.[21] Although the discussion referred to special elections for Senators and Representatives of the House, the same principle applies to a recall election of local officials. Otherwise, an elective local official who serves a recall term can serve for more than nine consecutive years comprising of the recall term plus the regular three full terms. A local official who serves a recall term should know that the recall term is in itself one term although less than three years. This is the inherent limitation he takes by running and winning in the recall election. In summary, we hold that Hagedorn is qualified to run in the September 24, 2002 recall election for mayor of Puerto Princesa because: 1. Hagedorn is not running for immediate reelection following his three consecutive terms as mayor which ended on June 30, 2001; 2. Hagedorns continuity of service as mayor was involuntarily interrupted from June 30, 2001 to September 24, 2002 during which time he was a private citizen; 3. Hagedorns recall term from September 24, 2002 to June 30, 2004 cannot be made to retroact to June 30, 2001 to make a fourth consecutive term because factually the recall term is not a fourth consecutive term; and 4. Term limits should be construed strictly to give the fullest possible effect to the right of the electorate to choose their leaders.

WHEREFORE, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 154512, 154683 and 155083-84 are DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued by this Court on September 24, 2002 enjoining the proclamation of the winning candidate for mayor of Puerto Princesa in the recall election of September 24, 2002 is lifted. No costs. SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 149736.December 17, 2002] MENDOZA & IBARRA vs. COMELEC & ROMAN EN BANC Gentlemen: Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated 17 DEC 2002. G.R. No. 149736(Melanio L. Mendoza and Mario E. Ibarra, petitioners, vs. Commission on Elections and Leonardo B. Roman, respondents.) For resolution is a petition for certiorari filed by petitioners Melanio L. Mendoza and Mario E. Ibarra, seeking to set aside the resolution of the Commission on Elections, dated August 15, 2001, in EPC No. 2001-5 and to declare respondent Leonardo B. Roman's election as governor of Bataan on May 14, 2001 as null and void for allegedly being contrary to Art. X, 8 of the Constitution, which provides that: The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms.Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected. After due deliberation, the Court voted 8 to 7 to DISMISS the petition: VITUG, J., joined by YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., voted to dismiss the petition.He contended that as revealed by the records of the Constitutional Commission, the Constitution envisions a continuous and an uninterrupted service for three full

terms before the proscription applies.Therefore, not being a full term, a recall term should not be counted or used as a basis for the disqualification whether served prior (as in this case) or subsequent (as in the Socrates case) to the nineyear, full three-term limit. MENDOZA, J., in whose opinion QUISUMBING, J. joined, voted to dismiss the petition on the ground that, in accordance with the ruling inBorja, Jr. v. COMELEC, 295 SCRA 157 (1998); Arcos v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 133639, Oct. 6, 1998 (res.); Lonzanida v. COMELEC, 311 SCRA 602 (1999); and Adormeo v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 147927, Feb. 4, 2002, 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.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. 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.He explained that, in Socrates, he also voted to affirm the clear choice of the electorate, because in a democracy the people should, as much as legally possible, be governed by leaders freely chosen by them in credible elections.He concluded that, in election cases, when two conflicting legal

positions are of almost equal weight, the scales of justice should be tilted in favor of the people's overwhelming choice. 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.This case is different from Socrates, where the full three consecutive terms had been continuously served so that disqualification had clearly attached. On the other hand, SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J., with whom DAVIDE, JR., 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.Since he thereafter served for two consecutive terms from 1995 to 1998 and from 1998 to 2001, his election on May 14, 2001 was actually his fourth term and contravenes Art. X, 8 of the Constitution.For this reason, she voted to grant the petition and to declare respondent's election on May 14, 2001 as null and void. 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. WHEREFORE, THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI IS DISMISSED

EN BANC [G.R. NO. 184836 : December 23, 2009] SIMON B. ALDOVINO, JR., DANILO B. FALLER AND FERDINAND N. TALABONG, Petitioners, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND WILFREDO F. ASILO, Respondents. DECISION BRION, J.: Is the preventive suspension of an elected public official an interruption of his term of office for purposes of the three-term limit rule under Section 8, Article X of the Constitution and Section 43(b) of Republic Act No. 7160 (RA 7160, or the Local Government Code)?cralawred The respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) ruled that preventive suspension is an effective interruption because it renders the suspended public official unable to provide complete service for the full term; thus, such term should not be counted for the purpose of the three-term limit rule. The present petition1 seeks to annul and set aside this COMELEC ruling for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. THE ANTECEDENTS The respondent Wilfredo F. Asilo (Asilo) was elected councilor of Lucena City for three consecutive terms: for the 1998-2001, 2001-2004, and 2004-2007 terms, respectively. In September 2005 or during his 2004-2007 term of office, the

Sandiganbayan preventively suspended him for 90 days in relation with a criminal case he then faced. This Court, however, subsequently lifted the Sandiganbayan'ssuspension order; hence, he resumed performing the functions of his office and finished his term. In the 2007 election, Asilo filed his certificate of candidacy for the same position. The petitioners Simon B. Aldovino, Jr., Danilo B. Faller, and Ferdinand N. Talabong (the petitioners) sought to deny due course to Asilo's certificate of candidacy or to cancel it on the ground that he had been elected and had served for three terms; his candidacy for a fourth term therefore violated the three-term limit rule under Section 8, Article X of the Constitution and Section 43(b) of RA 7160. The COMELEC's Second Division ruled against the petitioners and in Asilo's favour in its Resolution of November 28, 2007. It reasoned out that the three-term limit rule did not apply, as Asilo failed to render complete service for the 20042007 term because of the suspension the Sandiganbayan had ordered. The COMELEC en banc refused to reconsider the Second Division's ruling in its October 7, 2008 Resolution; hence, the PRESENT PETITION raising the following ISSUES: 1. Whether preventive suspension of an elected local official is an interruption of the three-term limit rule; andcralawlibrary 2. Whether preventive suspension is considered involuntary renunciation as contemplated in Section 43(b) of RA 7160 Thus presented, the case raises the direct issue of whether Asilo's preventive suspension constituted an interruption that allowed him to run for a 4th term.

THE COURT'S RULING We find the petition meritorious. General Considerations The present case is not the first before this Court on the three-term limit provision of the Constitution, but is the first on the effect of preventive suspension on the continuity of an elective official's term. To be sure, preventive suspension, as an interruption in the term of an elective public official, has been mentioned as an example in Borja v. Commission on Elections.2 Doctrinally, however, Borja is not a controlling ruling; it did not deal with preventive suspension, but with the application of the three-term rule on the term that an elective official acquired by succession. a. The Three-term Limit Rule: The Constitutional Provision Analyzed Section 8, Article X of the Constitution states: Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected. Section 43 (b) of RA 7160 practically repeats the constitutional provision, and any difference in wording does not assume any significance in this case. As worded, the constitutional provision fixes the term of a local elective office and limits an elective official's stay in office to no more than three consecutive terms. This is the first branch of the rule embodied in Section 8, Article X.

Significantly, this provision refers to a "term" as a period of time - three years during which an official has title to office and can serve. Appari v. Court of Appeals,3 a Resolution promulgated on November 28, 2007, succinctly discusses what a "term" connotes, as follows: The word "term" in a legal sense means a fixed and definite period of time which the law describes that an officer may hold an office. According to Mechem, the term of office is the period during which an office may be held. Upon expiration of the officer's term, unless he is authorized by law to holdover, his rights, duties and authority as a public officer must ipso facto cease. In the law of public officers, the most and natural frequent method by which a public officer ceases to be such is by the expiration of the terms for which he was elected or appointed. [Emphasis supplied].rbl rl l lbrr A later case, Gaminde v. Commission on Audit,4 reiterated that "[T]he term means the time during which the officer may claim to hold office as of right, and fixes the interval after which the several incumbents shall succeed one another." The "limitation" under this first branch of the provision is expressed in the negative - "no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms." This formulation - no more than three consecutive terms - is a clear command suggesting the existence of an inflexible rule. While it gives no exact indication of what to "serve. . . three consecutive terms" exactly connotes, the meaning is clear - reference is to the term, not to the service that a public official may render.rbl rl l lbrr In other words, the limitation refers to the term. The second branch relates to the provision's express initiative to prevent any circumvention of the limitation through voluntary severance of ties with the public office; it expressly states that voluntary renunciation of office "shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for

which he was elected." This declaration complements the term limitation mandated by the first branch. A notable feature of the second branch is that it does not textually state that voluntary renunciation is the only actual interruption of service that does not affect "continuity of service for a full term" for purposes of the three-term limit rule. It is a pure declaratory statement of what does not serve as an interruption of service for a full term, but the phrase "voluntary renunciation," by itself, is not without significance in determining constitutional intent. The word "renunciation" carries the dictionary meaning of abandonment. To renounce is to give up, abandon, decline, or resign.5 It is an act that emanates from its author, as contrasted to an act that operates from the outside. Read with the definition of a "term" in mind, renunciation, as mentioned under the second branch of the constitutional provision, cannot but mean an act that results in cutting short the term, i.e., the loss of title to office. The descriptive word "voluntary" linked together with "renunciation" signifies an act of surrender based on the surenderee's own freely exercised will; in other words, a loss of title to office by conscious choice. In the context of the three-term limit rule, such loss of title is not considered an interruption because it is presumed to be purposely sought to avoid the application of the term limitation. The following exchanges in the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission on the term "voluntary renunciation" shed further light on the extent of the term "voluntary renunciation": MR. MAAMBONG. Could I address the clarificatory question to the Committee? This term "voluntary renunciation" does not appear in Section 3 [of Article VI]; it also appears in Section 6 [of Article VI]. MR DAVIDE. Yes.

MR. MAAMBONG. It is also a recurring phrase all over the Constitution. Could the Committee please enlighten us exactly what "voluntary renunciation" mean? Is this akin to abandonment?cralawred MR. DAVIDE. Abandonment is voluntary. In other words, he cannot circumvent the restriction by merely resigning at any given time on the second term. MR. MAAMBONG. Is the Committee saying that the term "voluntary renunciation" is more general than abandonment and resignation?cralawred MR. DAVIDE. It is more general, more embracing.6 From this exchange and Commissioner Davide's expansive interpretation of the term "voluntary renunciation," the framers' intent apparently was to close all gaps that an elective official may seize to defeat the three-term limit rule, in the way that voluntary renunciation has been rendered unavailable as a mode of defeating the three-term limit rule. Harking back to the text of the constitutional provision, we note further that Commissioner Davide's view is consistent with the negative formulation of the first branch of the provision and the inflexible interpretation that it suggests. This examination of the wording of the constitutional provision and of the circumstances surrounding its formulation impresses upon us the clear intent to make term limitation a high priority constitutional objective whose terms must be strictly construed and which cannot be defeated by, nor sacrificed for, values of less than equal constitutional worth. We view preventive suspension vis - vis term limitation with this firm mindset. b. Relevant Jurisprudence on the

Three-term Limit Rule Other than the above-cited materials, jurisprudence best gives us a lead into the concepts within the provision's contemplation, particularly on the "interruption in the continuity of service for the full term" that it speaks of. Lonzanida v. Commission on Elections7 presented the question of whether the disqualification on the basis of the three-term limit applies if the election of the public official (to be strictly accurate, the proclamation as winner of the public official) for his supposedly third term had been declared invalid in a final and executory judgment. We ruled that the two requisites for the application of the disqualification (viz., 1. that the official concerned has been elected for three consecutive terms in the same local government post; and 2. that he has fully served three consecutive terms) were not present. In so ruling, we said: The clear intent of the framers of the constitution to bar any attempt to circumvent the three-term limit by a voluntary renunciation of office and at the same time respect the people's choice and grant their elected official full service of a term is evident in this provision. 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. [Emphasis supplied] Our intended meaning under this ruling is clear: it is severance from office, or to be exact, loss of title, that renders the three-term limit rule inapplicable. Ong v. Alegre8 and Rivera v. COMELEC,9 like Lonzanida, also involved the issue of whether there had been a completed term for purposes of the three-term

limit disqualification. These cases, however, presented an interesting twist, as their final judgments in the electoral contest came after the term of the contested office had expired so that the elective officials in these cases were never effectively unseated. Despite the ruling that Ong was never entitled to the office (and thus was never validly elected), the Court concluded that there was nevertheless an election and service for a full term in contemplation of the three-term rule based on the following premises: (1) the final decision that the third-termer lost the election was without practical and legal use and value, having been promulgated after the term of the contested office had expired; and (2) the official assumed and continuously exercised the functions of the office from the start to the end of the term. The Court noted in Ong the absurdity and the deleterious effect of a contrary view - that the official (referring to the winner in the election protest) would, under the three-term rule, be considered to have served a term by virtue of a veritably meaningless electoral protest ruling, when another actually served the term pursuant to a proclamation made in due course after an election. This factual variation led the Court to rule differently from Lonzanida. In the same vein, the Court in Rivera rejected the theory that the official who finally lost the election contest was merely a "caretaker of the office" or a mere "de facto officer." The Court obeserved that Section 8, Article X of the Constitution is violated and its purpose defeated when an official fully served in the same position for three consecutive terms. Whether as "caretaker" or "de facto" officer, he exercised the powers and enjoyed the perquisites of the office that enabled him "to stay on indefinitely." Ong and Rivera are important rulings for purposes of the three-term limitation because of what they directly imply. Although the election requisite was not actually present, the Court still gave full effect to the three-term limitation because of the constitutional intent to strictly limit elective officials to service for three terms. By so ruling, the Court signalled how zealously it guards the three-

term limit rule. Effectively, these cases teach us to strictly interpret the term limitation rule in favor of limitation rather than its exception. Adormeo v. Commission on Elections10 dealt with the effect of recall on the three-term limit disqualification. The case presented the question of whether the disqualification applies if the official lost in the regular election for the supposed third term, but was elected in a recall election covering that term. The Court upheld the COMELEC's ruling that the official was not elected for three (3) consecutive terms. The Court reasoned out that for nearly two years, the official was a private citizen; hence, the continuity of his mayorship was disrupted by his defeat in the election for the third term. Socrates v. Commission on Elections11 also tackled recall vis - -vis the threeterm limit disqualification. Edward Hagedorn served three full terms as mayor. As he was disqualified to run for a fourth term, he did not participate in the election that immediately followed his third term. In this election, the petitioner Victorino Dennis M. Socrates was elected mayor. Less than 1 - years after Mayor Socrates assumed the functions of the office, recall proceedings were initiated against him, leading to the call for a recall election. Hagedorn filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor in the recall election, but Socrates sought his disqualification on the ground that he (Hagedorn) had fully served three terms prior to the recall election and was therefore disqualified to run because of the three-term limit rule. We decided in Hagedorn'sfavor, ruling that: After three consecutive terms, an elective local official cannot seek immediate reelection for a fourth term. The prohibited election refers to the next regular election for the same office following the end of the third consecutive term. Any subsequent election, like a recall election, is no longer covered by the prohibition for two reasons. First, a subsequent election like a recall election is no longer an immediate reelection after three consecutive terms. Second, the intervening period constitutes an involuntary interruption in the continuity of service.

When the framers of the Constitution debated on the term limit of elective local officials, the question asked was whether there would be no further election after three terms, or whether there would be "no immediate reelection" after three terms. x x x Clearly, what the Constitution prohibits is an immediate reelection for a fourth term following three consecutive terms. The Constitution, however, does not prohibit a subsequent reelection for a fourth term as long as the reelection is not immediately after the end of the third consecutive term. A recall election mid-way in the term following the third consecutive term is a subsequent election but not an immediate reelection after the third term. Neither does the Constitution prohibit one barred from seeking immediate reelection to run in any other subsequent election involving the same term of office. What the Constitution prohibits is a consecutive fourth term.12 Latasa v. Commission on Elections13 presented the novel question of whether a municipal mayor who had fully served for three consecutive terms could run as city mayor in light of the intervening conversion of the municipality into a city. During the third term, the municipality was converted into a city; the cityhood charter provided that the elective officials of the municipality shall, in a holdover capacity, continue to exercise their powers and functions until elections were held for the new city officials. The Court ruled that the conversion of the municipality into a city did not convert the office of the municipal mayor into a local government post different from the office of the city mayor - the territorial jurisdiction of the city was the same as that of the municipality; the inhabitants were the same group of voters who elected the municipal mayor for 3 consecutive terms; and they were the same inhabitants over whom the municipal mayor held power and authority as their chief executive for nine years. The Court said:

This Court reiterates that the framers of the Constitution specifically included an exception to the people's freedom to choose those who will govern them in order to avoid the evil of a single person accumulating excessive power over a particular territorial jurisdiction as a result of a prolonged stay in the same office. To allow petitioner Latasa to vie for the position of city mayor after having served for three consecutive terms as a municipal mayor would obviously defeat the very intent of the framers when they wrote this exception. Should he be allowed another three consecutive terms as mayor of the City of Digos, petitioner would then be possibly holding office as chief executive over the same territorial jurisdiction and inhabitants for a total of eighteen consecutive years. This is the very scenario sought to be avoided by the Constitution, if not abhorred by it.14 Latasa instructively highlights, after a review of Lonzanida, Adormeo and Socrates, that no three-term limit violation results if a rest period or break in the service between terms or tenure in a given elective post intervened. InLonzanida, the petitioner was a private citizen with no title to any elective office for a few months before the next mayoral elections. Similarly, in Adormeo and Socrates, the private respondents lived as private citizens for two years and fifteen months, respectively. Thus, these cases establish that the law contemplates a complete break from office during which the local elective official steps down and ceases to exercise power or authority over the inhabitants of the territorial jurisdiction of a particular local government unit. Seemingly differing from these results is the case of Montebon v. Commission on Elections,15 where the highest-ranking municipal councilor succeeded to the position of vice-mayor by operation of law. The question posed when he subsequently ran for councilor was whether his assumption as vice-mayor was an interruption of his term as councilor that would place him outside the operation of the three-term limit rule. We ruled that an interruption had intervened so that he could again run as councilor. This result seemingly deviates from the results in the cases heretofore discussed since the elective official continued to hold public office and did not become a private citizen during the interim. The common thread that identifies Montebon with the rest, however, is that the elective official

vacated the office of councilor and assumed the higher post of vice-mayor by operation of law. Thus, for a time he ceased to be councilor - an interruption that effectively placed him outside the ambit of the three-term limit rule. c. Conclusion Based on Law and Jurisprudence From all the above, we conclude that the "interruption" of a term exempting an elective official from the three-term limit rule is one that involves no less than the involuntary loss of title to office. The elective official must have involuntarily left his office for a length of time, however short, for an effective interruption to occur. This has to be the case if the thrust of Section 8, Article X and its strict intent are to be faithfully served, i.e., to limit an elective official's continuous stay in office to no more than three consecutive terms, using "voluntary renunciation" as an example and standard of what does not constitute an interruption. Thus, based on this standard, loss of office by operation of law, being involuntary, is an effective interruption of service within a term, as we held in Montebon. On the other hand, temporary inability or disqualification to exercise the functions of an elective post, even if involuntary, should not be considered an effective interruption of a term because it does not involve the loss of title to office or at least an effective break from holding office; the office holder, while retaining title, is simply barred from exercising the functions of his office for a reason provided by law. An interruption occurs when the term is broken because the office holder lost the right to hold on to his office, and cannot be equated with the failure to render service. The latter occurs during an office holder's term when he retains title to the office but cannot exercise his functions for reasons established by law. Of course, the term "failure to serve" cannot be used once the right to office is lost; without the right to hold office or to serve, then no service can be rendered so that none is really lost.

To put it differently although at the risk of repetition, Section 8, Article X - both by structure and substance - fixes an elective official's term of office and limits his stay in office to three consecutive terms as an inflexible rule that is stressed, no less, by citing voluntary renunciation as an example of a circumvention. The provision should be read in the context of interruption of term, not in the context of interrupting the full continuity of the exercise of the powers of the elective position. The "voluntary renunciation" it speaks of refers only to the elective official's voluntary relinquishment of office and loss of title to this office. It does not speak of the temporary "cessation of the exercise of power or authority" that may occur for various reasons, with preventive suspension being only one of them. To quote Latasa v. Comelec:16 Indeed, [T]he law contemplates a rest period during which the local elective official steps down from office and ceases to exercise power or authority over the inhabitants of the territorial jurisdiction of a particular local government unit. [Emphasis supplied]. Preventive Suspension and the Three-Term Limit Rule A. Nature of Preventive Suspension Preventive suspension - whether under the Local Government Code, the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act,18 or the Ombudsman Act19 - is an interim remedial measure to address the situation of an official who have been charged administratively or criminally, where the evidence preliminarily indicates the likelihood of or potential for eventual guilt or liability. Preventive suspension is imposed under the Local Government Code "when the evidence of guilt is strong and given the gravity of the offense, there is a possibility that the continuance in office of the respondent could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence." Under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, it is imposed after a valid information (that requires a finding of probable cause) has been filed in
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court, while under the Ombudsman Act, it is imposed when, in the judgment of the Ombudsman, the evidence of guilt is strong; and (a) the charge involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct or neglect in the performance of duty; or (b) the charges would warrant removal from the service; or (c) the respondent's continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him. Notably in all cases of preventive suspension, the suspended official is barred from performing the functions of his office and does not receive salary in the meanwhile, but does not vacate and lose title to his office; loss of office is a consequence that only results upon an eventual finding of guilt or liability. Preventive suspension is a remedial measure that operates under closelycontrolled conditions and gives a premium to the protection of the service rather than to the interests of the individual office holder. Even then, protection of the service goes only as far as a temporary prohibition on the exercise of the functions of the official's office; the official is reinstated to the exercise of his position as soon as the preventive suspension is lifted. Thus, while a temporary incapacity in the exercise of power results, no position is vacated when a public official is preventively suspended. This was what exactly happened to Asilo. That the imposition of preventive suspension can be abused is a reality that is true in the exercise of all powers and prerogative under the Constitution and the laws. The imposition of preventive suspension, however, is not an unlimited power; there are limitations built into the laws20 themselves that the courts can enforce when these limitations are transgressed, particularly when grave abuse of discretion is present. In light of this well-defined parameters in the imposition of preventive suspension, we should not view preventive suspension from the extreme situation - that it can totally deprive an elective office holder of the prerogative to serve and is thus an effective interruption of an election official's term. Term limitation and preventive suspension are two vastly different aspects of an elective officials' service in office and they do not overlap. As already mentioned

above, preventive suspension involves protection of the service and of the people being served, and prevents the office holder from temporarily exercising the power of his office. Term limitation, on the other hand, is triggered after an elective official has served his three terms in office without any break. Its companion concept - interruption of a term - on the other hand, requires loss of title to office. If preventive suspension and term limitation or interruption have any commonality at all, this common point may be with respect to the discontinuity of service that may occur in both. But even on this point, they merely run parallel to each other and never intersect; preventive suspension, by its nature, is a temporary incapacity to render service during an unbroken term; in the context of term limitation, interruption of service occurs after there has been a break in the term. b. Preventive Suspension and the Intent of the Three-Term Limit Rule Strict adherence to the intent of the three-term limit rule demands that preventive suspension should not be considered an interruption that allows an elective official's stay in office beyond three terms. A preventive suspension cannot simply be a term interruption because the suspended official continues to stay in office although he is barred from exercising the functions and prerogatives of the office within the suspension period. The best indicator of the suspended official's continuity in office is the absence of a permanent replacement and the lack of the authority to appoint one since no vacancy exists. To allow a preventively suspended elective official to run for a fourth and prohibited term is to close our eyes to this reality and to allow a constitutional violation through sophistry by equating the temporary inability to discharge the functions of office with the interruption of term that the constitutional provision contemplates. To be sure, many reasons exist, voluntary or involuntary - some of them personal and some of them by operation of law - that may temporarily prevent an elective office holder from exercising the functions of his office in the way that preventive suspension does. A serious extended illness, inability through force majeure, or the enforcement of a suspension as a penalty, to cite some

involuntary examples, may prevent an office holder from exercising the functions of his office for a time without forfeiting title to office. Preventive suspension is no different because it disrupts actual delivery of service for a time within a term. Adopting such interruption of actual service as the standard to determine effective interruption of term under the three-term rule raises at least the possibility of confusion in implementing this rule, given the many modes and occasions when actual service may be interrupted in the course of serving a term of office. The standard may reduce the enforcement of the three-term limit rule to a case-to-case and possibly see-sawing determination of what an effective interruption is. c. Preventive Suspension and Voluntary Renunciation Preventive suspension, because it is imposed by operation of law, does not involve a voluntary act on the part of the suspended official, except in the indirect sense that he may have voluntarily committed the act that became the basis of the charge against him. From this perspective, preventive suspension does not have the element of voluntariness that voluntary renunciation embodies. Neither does it contain the element of renunciation or loss of title to office as it merely involves the temporary incapacity to perform the service that an elective office demands. Thus viewed, preventive suspension is - by its very nature - the exact opposite of voluntary renunciation; it is involuntary and temporary, and involves only the actual delivery of service, not the title to the office. The easy conclusion therefore is that they are, by nature, different and non-comparable. But beyond the obvious comparison of their respective natures is the more important consideration of how they affect the three-term limit rule. Voluntary renunciation, while involving loss of office and the total incapacity to render service, is disallowed by the Constitution as an effective interruption of a term. It is therefore not allowed as a mode of circumventing the three-term limit rule.

Preventive suspension, by its nature, does not involve an effective interruption of a term and should therefore not be a reason to avoid the three-term limitation. It can pose as a threat, however, if we shall disregard its nature and consider it an effective interruption of a term. Let it be noted that a preventive suspension is easier to undertake than voluntary renunciation, as it does not require relinquishment or loss of office even for the briefest time. It merely requires an easily fabricated administrative charge that can be dismissed soon after a preventive suspension has been imposed. In this sense, recognizing preventive suspension as an effective interruption of a term can serve as a circumvention more potent than the voluntary renunciation that the Constitution expressly disallows as an interruption. Conclusion To recapitulate, Asilo's 2004-2007 term was not interrupted by the Sandiganbayan-imposed preventive suspension in 2005, as preventive suspension does not interrupt an elective official's term. Thus, the COMELEC refused to apply the legal command of Section 8, Article X of the Constitution when it granted due course to Asilo's certificate of candidacy for a prohibited fourth term. By so refusing, the COMELEC effectively committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; its action was a refusal to perform a positive duty required by no less than the Constitution and was one undertaken outside the contemplation of law.21 WHEREFORE, premises considered, we GRANT the petition and accordingly NULLIFY the assailed COMELEC rulings. The private respondent Wilfredo F. Asilo is declared DISQUALIFIED to run, and perforce to serve, as Councilor of Lucena City for a prohibited fourth term. Costs against private respondent Asilo. SO ORDERED.