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N. Term limits

1. CONCEPTS

a. Distinguished: term of office, tenure, right to hold office

1) Term of office

The term of office means the time during which the officer may claim to hold the office as of right, and fixes the interval after which the several incumbents shall succeed one another. (Guekeko v. Santos, En Banc, G.R. No. L-128, 02 March 1946)

A “term” of office is the period during which an elected officer or appointee is entitled to hold office, perform its functions and enjoy its privileges and emoluments. (Paredes v. Abad, G.R. Nos. L-36927, L-37715, and L-38331, 15 April 1974)

2) Tenure

The tenure represents the term during which the incumbent actually holds the office. The term of office is not affected by the hold over. The tenure may be shorter than the term reasons within or beyond the power of the incumbent. (Guekeko v. Santos, supra.)

There is no principle, law or doctrine by which the term of an office may be extended by reason of war. (Guekeko v. Santos, En Banc, G.R. No. L-128, 02 March 1946)

3) Right to hold office

A “right” to hold a public office is the just and legal claim to hold and enjoy the powers and responsibilities of the office. (Paredes v. Abad, G.R. Nos. L-36927, L-37715, and L-38331, 15 April 1974)

2. TERM LIMITS

a. Appointive Constitutional officials

The following have a one-term limit with a 7-year term of office:

1) CSC Chairman and Commissioners (Section 2, Article IX-B, 1987 Constitution);

2) COMELEC Chairman and Commissioners (Section 2, Article IX-C, Ibid.);

3) COA Chairman and Commissioners (Section 2, Article IX-C, 1987 Constitution);

4) Ombudsman and his Deputies (Section 11, Article XI, Ibid.)

b. National elective officials

1) President

The President shall not be eligible for any reelection. (Section 4, Article VII, Ibid.)

No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four (4) years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time. (Ibid.)

2) Vice-President

No Vice-President shall serve for more than two (2) consecutive terms. (Paragraph 2, Section 4, Article VII, Ibid.)

Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which he was elected. (Ibid.)

3) Senators

No Senator shall serve for more than two (2) consecutive terms. (Paragraph 2, Section 4, Article VI, Ibid.)

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. (Ibid.)

4) Members of House Representatives

No member of the House of Representatives shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms. (Paragraph 2, Section 7, Article VI, Ibid.)

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. (Ibid.)

b. Local elective officals

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 8, Article X, 1987 Constitution)

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 concerned was elected. (Section 43[b], Local Government Code)

1) Requisites

The following requisites must concur:

1) That the official concerned has been elected for three (3) consecutive terms in the same local government post; and

2) That he has fully served three (3) consecutive terms. (Abundo, Sr. v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. 201716, 08 January 2013)

The principle behind the three-term limit rule covers only consecutive terms and that what the Constitution prohibits is a consecutive fourth term. (Ibid.)

Put a bit differently, an elective local official cannot, following his third consecutive term, seek immediate reelection for a fourth term, albeit he is allowed to seek a fresh term for the same position after the election where he could have sought his fourth term but prevented to do so by reason of the prohibition. (Ibid.)

a) Voluntary resignation

Voluntary renunciation of the office by the incumbent elective local official for any length of time shall NOT, in determining service for three consecutive terms, be considered an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official concerned was elected. (Ibid.)

2) Jurisprudential rules on consecutiveness and involuntary interruption

1) ASSUMPTION OF OFFICE FOR UNEXPIRED PORTION: When a permanent vacancy occurs in an elective position and the official merely assumed the position pursuant to the rules on succession under the LGC, then his service for the unexpired portion of the term of the replaced official cannot be treated as one full term as contemplated under the subject constitutional and statutory provision that service cannot be counted in the application of any term limit. If the official runs again for the same position he held prior to his assumption of the higher office, then his succession to said position is by operation of law and is considered an involuntary severance or interruption;

2) WINNING A RECALL ELECTION: An elective official, who has served for three consecutive terms and who did not seek the elective position for what could be his fourth term, but later won in a recall election, had an interruption in the continuity of the official’s service. For, he had become in the interim, i.e., from the end of the 3rd term up to the recall election, a private citizen.

3) ABOLITION OF AN ELECTIVE LOCAL OFFICE: The abolition of an elective local office due to the conversion of a municipality to a city does not, by itself, work to interrupt the incumbent official’s continuity of service.

4) PREVENTIVE SUSPENSION: Preventive suspension is not a term-interrupting event as the elective officer’s continued stay and entitlement to the office remain unaffected during the period of suspension, although he is barred from exercising the functions of his office during this period.

5) LOSING ELECTION PROTEST AND BEING OUSTED: When a candidate is proclaimed as winner for an elective position and assumes office, his term is interrupted when he loses in an election protest and is ousted from office, thus disenabling him from serving what would otherwise be the unexpired portion of his term of office had the protest been dismissed. The break or interruption need not be for a full term of three years or for the major part of the 3-year term; an interruption for any length of time, provided the cause is involuntary, is sufficient to break the continuity of service.

6) LOSING ELECTION PROTEST AND FINALITY IS AFTER FULL TERM OF OFFICE: When an official is defeated in an election protest and said decision becomes final after said official had served the full term for said office, then his loss in the election contest does not constitute an interruption since he has managed to serve the term from start to finish. His full service, despite the defeat, should be counted in the application of term limits because the nullification of his proclamation came after the expiration of the term. (Abundo, Sr. v. COMELEC, En Banc, supra.)

2. STAGGERED TERM OF OFFICE

Generally, the purpose for staggering the term of office is to minimize the appointing authority’s opportunity to appoint a majority of the members of a collegial body. It also intended to ensure the continuity of the body and its policies. A staggered term of office, however, is not a statutory prohibition, direct or indirect, against the issuance of acting or temporary appointment. It does not negate the authority to issue acting or temporary appointments that the Administrative Code grants. (General v. Urro, En Banc, G.R. No. 191560, 29 March 2011)

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