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University of the Philippines College of Law

Constitutional Law | Atty. Charlemagne Yu

Case Digest
TOPIC: Discipline of Members
CASE Number (including date): 184836 (Dec 23, 2009)
CASE Name: Aldovino, Jr v COMELEC
Ponente: Justice Brion

Is the preventive suspension of an elected public official an interruption of his
term of office for purposes of the 3-term limit rule under Sec 8, Art X of the
Constitution and Sec 43(b) of RA 7160 or the Local Government Code?
Wilfredo F. Asilo (respondent) was elected councilor of Lucena City for 3
consecutive terms:
o 1998-2001
o 2001-2004
o 2004-2007
But in Sept 2005, during his 3 rd term, the Sandiganbayan preventively
suspended him for 90 days in relation to a criminal case. The Court lifted the
Sandiganbayans suspension order, so he resumed his office
2007 election, he filed a COC for the same position petitioners sought to
have the COC denied since he had already served for 3 terms
COMELEC 2nd Division ruled in Asilos favor, because they said Asilo failed to
render complete service for 2004-2007 term because of the 90-day
suspension order
COMELEC en banc refused to reconsider, so the question was raised to the SC

1. WON preventive suspension of an elected local official constituted
an interruption that allowed him to run for a 4th term.
Court first discussed the 3-term limit rule. Sec 8, Art X of the Constitution and
Sec 43(b) of RA 7160 is almost the same thing except for some minor
differences in the wording. The first branch of this provision fixes the term of
a local elective official and limits their stay to no more than 3 terms. Term
here is a period of time during which an official has the title and can serve. It
is a fixed and definite period. The second branch of the provision relates to
the provisions express initiative to prevent any circumvention of the
limitation through voluntary severance of ties with public office though it
doesnt textually state that voluntary renunciation is the only interruption of

service that doesnt affect continuity of service for a full term. Renunciation
also connotes abandonment, not something that is acted on the official.
Interruption of office happens when the term is broken because the office
holder lost the right to hold on to his office and cannot be equated with
failure to render service
What is preventive suspension? It is an interim remedial measure to address
the situation of an official who has been charged administratively/criminally,
where the evidence preliminarily indicates the likelihood of or potential for
eventual guilt or liability. No position is vacated when a public official is
preventively suspended, which is what happened to Asilo. Preventive
suspension, being a temporary incapacity to render service during an
unbroken term, is different from interruption of service, which occurs in the
context of term limitation after there has been a break in the term.
Because the term was not vacated, the term was unbroken. So Asilo cannot
run for a fourth term because the preventive suspension is not considered an
interruption of an elective officials term.
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.