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AbundoSr.Vs.

Comelec
G.R.No.201716

Theantecedentfactsareundisputed.
Forfour(4)successiveregularelections,namely,the2001,2004,
2007and2010nationalandlocalelections,Abundoviedforthepositionof
municipalmayorofViga,Catanduanes.Inboththe2001and2007runs,he
emergedandwasproclaimedasthewinningmayoraltycandidateand
accordinglyservedthecorrespondingtermsasmayor.Inthe2004electoral
derby,however,theVigamunicipalboardofcanvassersinitiallyproclaimed
aswinneroneJoseTorres(Torres),who,induetime,performedthe
functionsoftheofficeofmayor.AbundoprotestedTorreselectionand
proclamation.Abundowaseventuallydeclaredthewinnerofthe2004
mayoraltyelectoralcontest,pavingthewayforhisassumptionofoffice
startingMay9,2006untiltheendofthe20042007termonJune30,2007,
orforaperiodofalittleoveroneyearandonemonth.
ThencametheMay10,2010electionswhereAbundoandTorres
againopposedeachother.WhenAbundofiledhiscertificateofcandidacy
forthemayoraltyseatrelativetothiselectoralcontest,Torreslostnotimein
seekingtheformersdisqualificationtorun,thecorrespondingpetition,
docketedasSPACaseNo.10128(DC),predicatedonthethreeconsecutive
termlimitrule.OnJune16,2010,theCOMELECFirstDivisionissueda
ResolutionfindingforAbundo,whointhemeantimebestedTorresby219
votes and was accordingly proclaimed 2010 mayorelect of Viga,
Catanduanes.
Meanwhile,onMay21,2010,orbeforetheCOMELECcouldresolve
theadverteddisqualificationcaseTorresinitiatedagainstAbundo,herein
privaterespondentErnestoR.Vega(Vega)commencedaquowarranto
actionbeforetheRTCBr.43inVirac,Catanduanes,docketedasElection
CaseNo.55,tounseatAbundoonessentiallythesamegroundsTorres
raisedinhispetitiontodisqualify.

TheRulingoftheRegionalTrialCourt
ByDecisionofAugust9,2010inElectionCaseNo.55,theRTC
declaredAbundoineligibletoserveasmunicipalmayor,disposingas
follows:
WHEREFORE,Decisionis,hereby,renderedGRANTINGthe
petitionanddeclaringAbelardoAbundo,Sr.ineligibletoserveas
municipalmayorofViga,Catanduanes.
SOORDERED.

Insoruling,thetrialcourt,citingAldovino,Jr.v.COMELEC,found
Abundotohavealreadyservedthreeconsecutivemayoraltyterms,towit,
20012004,20042007and20072010,and,hence,disqualifiedforanother,
i.e.,fourth,consecutiveterm.Abundo,theRTCnoted,hadbeendeclared
winnerintheaforesaid2004electionsconsequenttohisprotestand
occupiedthepositionofandactuallyservedasVigamayorforoverayear
oftheremainingterm,i.e.,fromMay9,2006toJune30,2007,tobeexact.
TotheRTC,theyearandamonthserviceconstitutesacompleteandfull
serviceofAbundossecondtermasmayor.Therefrom,Abundoappealedto
theCOMELEC,hisrecoursedocketedasEAC(AE)No.A252010.
TheRulingoftheCOMELEC
OnFebruary8,2012,inEAC(AE)No.A252010,theCOMELECs
SecondDivisionrenderedthefirstassailedResolution,thedispositive
portionofwhichreadsasfollows:
WHEREFORE,inviewoftheforegoing,thedecisionofthe
RegionalTrialCourtBranch73,Virac,CatanduanesisAFFIRMEDand
theappealisDISMISSEDforlackofmerit.
SOORDERED.

JustliketheRTC,theCOMELECsSecondDivisionruledagainst
AbundoonthestrengthofAldovino,Jr.andheldthatserviceofthe
unexpiredportionofatermbyaprotestantwhoisdeclaredwinnerinan
electionprotestisconsideredasserviceforonefulltermwithinthe
contemplationofthethreetermlimitrule.
Intime,Abundosoughtbutwasdeniedreconsiderationbythe
COMELECenbancperitsequallyassailedResolutionofMay10,2012.

ThefallooftheCOMELECenbancsResolutionreadsasfollows:
WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,themotionfor
reconsiderationisDENIEDforlackofmerit.TheResolutionofthe
Commission(SecondDivision)isherebyAFFIRMED.
SOORDERED.

InaffirmingtheResolutionofitsSecondDivision,theCOMELECen
bancheldinessencethefollowing:first,therewasnoinvoluntary
interruptionofAbundos20042007termservicewhichwouldbean
exceptiontothethreetermlimitruleasheisconsiderednevertohavelost
titletothedisputedofficeafterhewoninhiselectionprotest;andsecond,
whattheConstitutionprohibitsisforanelectiveofficialtobeinofficefor
thesamepositionformorethanthreeconsecutivetermsandnottothe
serviceoftheterm.
Hence,theinstantpetitionwithprayerfortheissuanceofatemporary
restrainingorder(TRO)and/orpreliminaryinjunction.
InterveningEvents
Inthemeantime,followingtheissuancebytheCOMELECofitsMay
10,2012ResolutiondenyingAbundosmotionforreconsideration,the
followingeventstranspired:
1. OnJune20,2012,theCOMELECissuedanOrderdeclaringitsMay
10,2012Resolutionfinalandexecutory.Thefollowingday,June21,
2012,theCOMELECissuedanEntryofJudgment.
2. OnJune25,2012,VegafiledaMotionforExecutionwiththe
RTCBr.43inVirac,Catanduanes.
3. OnJune27,2012,theCOMELEC,actingonVegascounsels
Motionfiledadayearlier,issuedanOrderdirectingthebailiffofECAD
(COMELEC)topersonallydelivertheentirerecordstosaidRTC.
OnJune29,2012,theCOMELECECADBailiffpersonallydelivered
theentirerecordsoftheinstantcaseto,andweredulyreceivedby,theclerk

ofcourtofRTCBr.43.
4. OnJune29,2012,oronthesamedayofitsreceiptofthecase
records,theRTCBr.43inVirac,CatanduanesgrantedVegasMotionfor
ExecutionthroughanOrder
ofevendate.AndaWritofExecution
19

was
issuedonthesameday.
5.
OnJuly2,2012,SheriffQ.Tador,Jr.receivedtheWritof
ExecutionandservedthesameattheofficeofMayorAbundoonthesame
dayviasubstitutedservice.
6.
OnJuly3,2012,theCourtissuedaTRO
20

enjoiningthe
enforcementoftheassailedCOMELECResolutions.
7.
OnJuly4,2012,VegareceivedtheCourtsJuly3,2012
Resolution
21

andacopyoftheTRO.Onthesameday,ViceMayor
EmeterioM.TarinandFirstCouncilorCesarO.CervantesofViga,
Catanduanestooktheiroathsofoffice
22

asmayorandvicemayorofViga,
Catanduanes,respectively.
8.
OnJuly5,2012,VegareceivedacopyofAbundosSeventh
(7
th

)MostExtremelyUrgentManifestationandMotion
23

datedJune28,
2012prayingfortheissuanceofaTROand/orstatusquoanteOrder.On
thesameday,ViceMayorEmeterioM.TarinandFirstCouncilorCesarO.
Id.at390391,AnnexDofVegasManifestationwithLeavetoAdmit,datedJuly5,2012.

18

Id.at392,AnnexEofVegasManifestationwithLeavetoAdmit,datedJuly5,2012.
Id.at356357.
21Id.at357.
22Id.at462,PanunumpasaKatungkulanofEmeterioM.TarindoneonJuly4,2012,AnnexB
ofAbundosMostUrgentManifestationandMotiontoConverttheJuly3,2012TemporaryRestraining
OrderintoaStatusQuoAnteOrder(InViewoftheUnreasonableandInappropriateProgressionof
Events),datedJuly4,2012.
23Id.at367.
19
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Cervanteswhohadtakentheiroathsofofficethedaybeforeassumedthe
postsofmayorandvicemayorofViga,Catanduanes.
24

9.
OnJuly6,2012,VegainterposedaMotion(ToAdmitAttached
Manifestation)
25

andManifestationwithLeavetoAdmit
26

datedJuly5,2012
statingthattheTROthusissuedbytheCourthasbecomefunctusofficio
owingtotheexecutionoftheRTCsDecisioninElectionCaseNo.55.
10.OnJuly10,2012,VegafiledhisComment/Oppositionwith
LeavetothePetitionersPrayerfortheIssuanceofaStatusQuoAnte
Order
27

reiteratingtheargumentthatsinceViceMayorEmeterioM.Tarin
andFirstCouncilorCesarO.CervantesalreadyassumedthepostsofMayor
andViceMayorofViga,Catanduanes,thenaStatusQuoAnteOrderwould
servenopurpose.
11.OnJuly12,2012,AbundofiledhisMostUrgentManifestation
andMotiontoConverttheJuly3,2012TROintoaStatusQuoAnteOrder
(InViewoftheUnreasonableandInappropriateProgressionofEvents).
28

ItisupontheforegoingbackdropofeventsthatAbundowas
dislodgedfromhispostasincumbentmayorofViga,Catanduanes.Tobe
sure,thespeedwhichcharacterizedAbundosousterdespitethesupervening

issuancebytheCourtofaTROonJuly3,2012isnotlostontheCourt.
WhileitisnotclearwhetherViceMayorTarinandFirstCouncilor
CervantesknewoforputonnoticeabouttheTROeitherbeforetheytook
theiroathsofofficeonJuly4,2012orbeforeassumingthepostsofmayor
andvicemayoronJuly5,2012,theconfluenceofeventsfollowingthe
issuanceoftheassailedCOMELECenbancirresistiblytendstoshowthat
Id.at463,464,CertificationsoftheOIC,ProvincialDirectoroftheDILG,AnnexesB1and
B2ofAbundosMostUrgentManifestationandMotiontoConverttheJuly3,2012Temporary
RestrainingOrderintoaStatusQuoAnteOrder(InViewoftheUnreasonableandInappropriate
ProgressionofEvents),datedJuly4,2012.
25Id.at369373,datedJuly5,2012.
26Id.at374420,datedJuly5,2012.
27Id.at421437,datedJuly9,2012.
28Id.at438482,datedJuly4,2012.
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theTROissuedasitweretomaintainthestatusquo,thusavertingthe
prematureousterofAbundopendingthisCourtsresolutionofhisappeal
appearstohavebeentrivialized.
OnSeptember11,2012,VegafiledhisCommentonAbundos
petition,followednotlongafterbypublicrespondentCOMELECs
ConsolidatedComment.
29

TheIssues
Abundoraisesthefollowinggroundsfortheallowanceofthepetition:
6.1TheCommissionEnBanccommittedgraveabuseofdiscretion
amountingtolackorexcessofjurisdictionwhenitdeclaredthe
argumentsinAbundosmotionforreconsiderationasmererehash
andreiterationsoftheclaimsheraisedpriortothepromulgationof
theResolution.
6.2TheCommissionEnBanccommittedgraveabuseofdiscretion
amountingtolackorexcessofjurisdictionwhenitdeclaredthat
Abundohasconsecutivelyservedforthreetermsdespitethefactthat
heonlyservedtheremainingoneyearandonemonthofthesecond
termasaresultofanelectionprotest.
30

FirstIssue:

ArgumentsinMotionfor
ReconsiderationNotMereReiteration
TheCOMELECenbancdeniedAbundosmotionforreconsideration
onthebasisthathisargumentsinsaidmotionaremerereiterationsofwhat
healreadybroughtupinhisappealBriefbeforetheCOMELECSecond
Division.Inthispetition,petitionerclaimsotherwise.
Petitionersassertionisdevoidofmerit.
Id.at639665(VegasComment);id.at668687,697719(publicrespondentsCommentand
ConsolidatedComment,respectively).
30Id.at2527.
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AcomparisonofAbundosargumentsinthelattersBriefvisvis
thoseinhisMotionforReconsideration(MR)revealsthattheargumentsin
theMRareelucidationsandamplicationsofthesameissuesraisedinthe
brief.First,inhisBrief,Abundoraisedthesoleissueoflackofjurisdiction
oftheRTCtoconsiderthequowarrantocasesincetheallegedviolationof
thethreetermlimithasalreadybeenrejectedbytheCOMELECFirst
DivisioninSPACaseNo.10128(DC),whileinhisMR,Abundoraisedthe
similargroundoftheconclusivenessoftheCOMELECsfindingonthe
issueofhisqualificationtorunforthecurrentterm.Second,inhisBrief,
AbundoassailedRTCsrelianceonAldovino,Jr.,whileinhisMR,he
arguedthattheCourtspronouncementinAldovino,Jr.,whichdealtwith
preventivesuspension,isnotapplicabletotheinstantcaseasitinvolvesonly
apartialserviceoftheterm.AbundoarguedinhisBriefthathissituation
cannotbeequatedwiththecaseofpreventivesuspensionasheldin
Aldovino,Jr.,whileinhisMR,hearguedbeforethatthealmosttwoyears
whichhedidnotsitasmayorduringthe20042007termisaninterruption
inthecontinuityofhisserviceforthefullterm.
Thus,COMELECdidnoterrinrulingthattheissuesintheMRarea
rehashofthoseintheBrief.
CoreIssue:
WhetherornotAbundoisdeemed

tohaveservedthreeconsecutiveterms
Thepivotaldeterminativeissuetheniswhethertheserviceofaterm
lessthanthefullthreeyearsbyanelectedofficialarisingfromhisbeing
declaredasthedulyelectedofficialuponanelectionprotestisconsideredas
fullserviceofthetermforpurposesoftheapplicationofthethree
consecutivetermlimitforelectivelocalofficials.
Onthiscoreissue,Wefindthepetitionmeritorious.The
consecutivenessofwhatotherwisewouldhavebeenAbundosthree
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successive,continuousmayorshipwaseffectivelybrokenduringthe2004
2007termwhenhewasinitiallydeprivedoftitleto,andwasveritably
disallowedtoserveandoccupy,anofficetowhichhe,afterdue
proceedings,waseventuallydeclaredtohavebeentherightfulchoiceofthe
electorate.
Thethreetermlimitruleforelectivelocalofficials,adisqualification
rule,isfoundinSection8,ArticleXofthe1987Constitution,which
provides:
Sec.8.Thetermofofficeofelectivelocalofficials,except
barangayofficials,whichshallbedeterminedbylaw,shallbethreeyears
andnosuchofficialshallserveformorethanthreeconsecutiveterms.
Voluntaryrenunciationoftheofficeforanylengthoftimeshallnotbe
consideredasaninterruptioninthecontinuityofhisserviceforthefull
termforwhichhewaselected.(Emphasissupplied.)

andisreiteratedinSec.43(b)ofRepublicActNo.(RA)7160,ortheLocal
GovernmentCode(LGC)of1991,thusly:
Sec.43.TermofOffice.
xxxx
(b)Nolocalelectiveofficialshallserveformorethanthree(3)
consecutivetermsinthesameposition.Voluntaryrenunciationofthe
officeforanylengthoftimeshallnotbeconsideredasaninterruptionin
thecontinuityofserviceforthefulltermforwhichtheelectiveofficial
concernedwaselected.(EmphasisOurs.)

Toconstituteadisqualificationtorunforanelectivelocaloffice

pursuanttotheaforequotedconstitutionalandstatutoryprovisions,the
followingrequisitesmustconcur:
(1)thattheofficialconcernedhasbeenelectedforthreeconsecutive
termsinthesamelocalgovernmentpost;and
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(2)thathehasfullyservedthreeconsecutiveterms.
31

Judgingfromextantjurisprudence,thethreetermlimitrule,as
appliedtothedifferentfactualmilieus,hasitscomplicatedside.Weshall
revisitandanalyzethevariousholdingsandrelevantpronouncementsofthe
Courtonthematter.
AsisclearlyprovidedinSec.8,Art.XoftheConstitutionaswellas
inSec.43(b)oftheLGC,voluntaryrenunciationoftheofficebythe
incumbentelectivelocalofficialforanylengthoftimeshallNOT,in
determiningserviceforthreeconsecutiveterms,beconsideredan
interruptioninthecontinuityofserviceforthefulltermforwhichthe
electiveofficialconcernedwaselected.InAldovino,Jr.,however,theCourt
statedtheobservationthatthelawdoesnottextuallystatethatvoluntary
renunciationistheonlyactualinterruptionofservicethatdoesnotaffect
continuityofserviceforafulltermforpurposesofthethreetermlimit
rule.
32

AsstressedinSocratesv.CommissiononElections,
33

theprinciple
behindthethreetermlimitrulecoversonlyconsecutivetermsandthatwhat
theConstitutionprohibitsisaconsecutivefourthterm.Putabitdifferently,
anelectivelocalofficialcannot,followinghisthirdconsecutiveterm,
seekimmediatereelectionforafourthterm,
34

albeitheisallowedtoseeka
freshtermforthesamepositionaftertheelectionwherehecouldhave
soughthisfourthtermbutpreventedtodosobyreasonoftheprohibition.

Therehas,infine,tobeabreakorinterruptioninthesuccessiveterms
oftheofficialafterhisorherthirdterm.Aninterruptionusuallyoccurs
whentheofficialdoesnotseekafourthterm,immediatelyfollowingthe
third.Ofcourse,thebasiclawisunequivocalthatavoluntaryrenunciation
Lonzanidav.CommissiononElections,G.R.No.135150,July28,1999,311SCRA602.
32AldovinoJr.,supranote10.
33G.R.No.154512,November12,2002,391SCRA457.
34Id.
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oftheofficeforanylengthoftimeshallNOTbeconsideredaninterruption
inthecontinuityofserviceforthefulltermforwhichtheelectiveofficial
concernedwaselected.Thisqualificationwasmadeasadeterrentagainst
anelectivelocalofficialintendingtoskirtthethreetermlimitrulebymerely
resigningbeforehisorherthirdtermends.Thisisavoluntaryinterruption
asdistinguishedfrominvoluntaryinterruptionwhichmaybebroughtabout
bycertaineventsorcauses.
Whileappearingtobeseeminglysimple,thethreetermlimitrulehas
engenderedahostofdisputesresultingfromthevaryinginterpretations
appliedonlocalofficialswhowereelectedandservedforthreetermsor
more,butwhosetermsorservicewaspunctuatedbywhattheyviewas
involuntaryinterruptions,thusentitlingthemtoa,butwhattheiropponents
perceiveasaproscribed,fourthterm.Involuntaryinterruptionisclaimedto
resultfromanyoftheseeventsorcauses:successionorassumptionofoffice
byoperationoflaw,preventivesuspension,declarationofthedefeated
candidateasthewinnerinanelectioncontest,declarationoftheproclaimed
candidateasthelosingpartyinanelectioncontest,proclamationofanon
candidateasthewinnerinarecallelection,removaloftheofficialby
operationoflaw,andotheranalogouscauses.
Thisbringsustoanexaminationofsituationsandjurisprudence
whereinsuchconsecutivetermswereconsideredornotconsideredashaving
beeninvoluntarilyinterruptedorbroken.
(1)AssumptionofOfficebyOperationofLaw
InBorja,Jr.v.CommissiononElectionsandJoseT.Capco,Jr.

35

(1998)andMontebonv.CommissiononElections
36

(2008),theCourtdelved
ontheeffectsofassumptiontoofficebyoperationoflawonthethreeterm
limitrule.Thiscontemplatesasituationwhereinanelectivelocalofficial
G.R.No.133495,September3,1998,295SCRA157.
G.R.No.180444,April8,2008,551SCRA50.

35
36

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fillsbysuccessionahigherlocalgovernmentpostpermanentlyleftvacant
duetoanyofthefollowingcontingencies,i.e.,whenthesupposed
incumbentrefusestoassumeoffice,failstoqualify,dies,isremovedfrom
office,voluntarilyresignsorisotherwisepermanentlyincapacitatedto
dischargethefunctionsofhisoffice.
37

InBorja,Jr.,JoseT.Capco,Jr.(Capco)waselectedvicemayorof
PaterosonJanuary18,1988foratermendingJune30,1992.OnSeptember
2,1989,Capcobecamemayor,byoperationoflaw,uponthedeathofthe
incumbentmayor,CesarBorja.Capcowasthenelectedandservedasmayor
forterms19921995and19951998.WhenCapcoexpressedhisintentionto
runagainforthemayoraltypositionduringthe1998elections,BenjaminU.
Borja,Jr.,whowasthenalsoacandidateformayor,soughtCapcos
disqualificationforviolationofthethreetermlimitrule.
FindingforCapco,theCourtheldthatforthedisqualificationruleto
apply,itisnotenoughthatanindividualhasservedthreeconsecutiveterms
inanelectivelocaloffice,hemustalsohavebeenelectedtothesame
positionforthesamenumberoftimesbeforethedisqualificationcan
apply.
38

Therewas,theCourtruled,noviolationofthethreetermlimit,
forCapcowasnotelectedtotheofficeofthemayorinthefirsttermbut
simplyfoundhimselfthrustintoitbyoperationoflaw
39

whenapermanent
vacancyoccurredinthatoffice.

TheCourtarrivedataparallelconclusioninthecaseofMontebon.
There,Montebonhadbeenelectedforthreeconsecutivetermsasmunicipal
councilorofTuburan,Cebuin19982001,20012004,and20042007.
However,inJanuary2004,orduringhissecondterm,Montebonsucceeded
andassumedthepositionofvicemayorofTuburanwhentheincumbent
vicemayorretired.WhenMontebonfiledhiscertificateofcandidacyagain
Section44,ChapterIIVacanciesandSuccession,TitleIIElectiveOfficials,RepublicAct
No.7160,LocalGovernmentCodeof1991.
38Borja,Jr.,supranote35,at169.
39Id.
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asmunicipalcouncilor,apetitionfordisqualificationwasfiledagainsthim
basedonthethreetermlimitrule.TheCourtruledthatMontebons
assumptionofofficeasvicemayorinJanuary2004wasaninterruptionof
hiscontinuityofserviceascouncilor.TheCourtemphasizedthatsuccession
inlocalgovernmentofficeisbyoperationoflawandassuch,itisan
involuntaryseverancefromoffice.Sincethelawnolessallowed
Montebontovacatehispostascouncilorinordertoassumeofficeasvice
mayor,hisoccupationofthehigherofficecannot,withoutmore,bedeemed
asavoluntaryrenunciationofhispositionascouncilor.
(2)RecallElection
Withreferencetotheeffectsofrecallelectiononthecontinuityof
service,Adormeov.CommissiononElections
40

(2002)andthe
aforementionedcaseofSocrates(2002)provideguidance.
InAdormeo,RamonTalaga,Jr.(Talaga)waselectedandservedas
mayorofLucenaCityduringterms19921995and19951998.Duringthe
1998elections,TalagalosttoBernardG.Tagarao.However,before
Tagaraos19982001termended,arecallelectionwasconductedinMay
2000whereinTalagawonandservedtheunexpiredtermofTagarao
untilJune2001.WhenTalagaranformayorin2001,hiscandidacywas
challengedonthegroundhehadalreadyservedasmayorforthree

consecutivetermsforviolationofthethreetermlimitrule.TheCourtheld
thereinthattheremainderofTagaraostermaftertherecallelectionduring
whichTalagaservedasmayorshouldnotbeconsideredforpurposesof
applyingthethreetermlimitrule.TheCourtemphasizedthatthecontinuity
ofTalagasmayorshipwasdisruptedbyhisdefeatduringthe1998
elections.
AsimilarconclusionwasreachedbytheCourtinSocrates.The
petitionersinthatcaseassailedtheCOMELECResolutionwhichdeclared
G.R.No.147927,February4,2002,376SCRA90.

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EdwardHagedornqualifiedtorunformayorinarecallelection.Itappeared
thatHagedornhadbeenelectedandservedasmayorofPuertoPrincesaCity
forthreeconsecutiveterms:in19921995,19951998and19982001.
Obviouslyawareofthethreetermlimitprinciple,Hagedornoptednottovie
forthesamemayoraltypositioninthe2001elections,inwhichSocratesran
andeventuallywon.However,midwayintohisterm,Socratesfacedrecall
proceedingsandintherecallelectionheld,Hagedornrunfortheformers
unexpiredtermasmayor.SocratessoughtHagedornsdisqualificationunder
thethreetermlimitrule.
InupholdingHagedornscandidacytorunintherecallelection,the
Courtruled:
xxxAfterHagedornceasedtobemayoronJune30,2001,he
becameaprivatecitizenuntiltherecallelectionofSeptember24,2002
whenhewonby3,018votesoverhisclosestopponent,Socrates.
FromJune30,2001untiltherecallelectiononSeptember24,
2002,themayorofPuertoPrincesawasSocrates.Duringthesameperiod,
Hagedornwassimplyaprivatecitizen.Thisperiodisclearlyan
interruptioninthecontinuityofHagedornsserviceasmayor,notbecause
ofhisvoluntaryrenunciation,butbecauseofalegalprohibition.
41

TheCourtlikewiseemphasizedinSocratesthatanelectivelocal
officialcannotseekimmediatereelectionforafourthterm.Theprohibited
electionreferstothenextregularelectionforthesameofficefollowingthe

endofthethirdconsecutiveterm[and,hence],[a]nysubsequentelection,
likerecallelection,isnolongercoveredxxx.
42

(3)ConversionofaMunicipalityintoaCity
Ontheotherhand,theconversionofamunicipalityintoacitydoes
notconstituteaninterruptionoftheincumbentofficialscontinuityof
service.TheCourtsaidsoinLatasav.CommissiononElections
43

(2003).
Socrates,supranote33.
Id.
43G.R.No.154829,December10,2003,417SCRA601.
41
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Latasaiscastagainsttheensuingbackdrop:ArsenioA.Latasawas
electedandservedasmayoroftheMunicipalityofDigos,DavaodelSurfor
terms19921995,19951998,and19982001.Duringhisthirdterm,Digos
wasconvertedintoacomponentcity,withthecorrespondingcityhoodlaw
providingtheholdoverofelectiveofficials.WhenLatasafiledhiscertificate
ofcandidacyasmayorforthe2001elections,theCourtdeclaredLatasaas
disqualifiedtorunasmayorofDigosCityforviolationofthethreeterm
limitruleonthebasisofthefollowingratiocination:
ThisCourtbelievesthat(Latasa)didinvoluntarilyrelinquishhis
officeasmunicipalmayorsincethesaidofficehasbeendeemedabolished
duetotheconversion.However,theveryinstanthevacatedhisoffice
asmunicipalmayor,healsoassumedofficeascitymayor.Unlike
inLonzanida,wherepetitionertherein,forevenjustashortperiodoftime,
steppeddownfromoffice,petitionerLatasaneverceasedfromactingas
chiefexecutiveofthelocalgovernmentunit.Heneverceasedfrom
discharginghisdutiesandresponsibilitiesaschiefexecutiveofDigos.
(Emphasissupplied.)

(4)PeriodofPreventiveSuspension
In2009,inthecaseAldovinoJr.,theCourtespousedthedoctrinethat
theperiodduringwhichalocalelectedofficialisunderpreventive
suspensioncannotbeconsideredasaninterruptionofthecontinuityof

hisservice.TheCourtexplainedwhyso:
Strictadherencetotheintentofthethreetermlimitruledemands
thatpreventivesuspensionshouldnotbeconsideredaninterruptionthat
allowsanelectiveofficialsstayinofficebeyondthreeterms.A
preventivesuspensioncannotsimplybeaterminterruptionbecause
thesuspendedofficialcontinuestostayinofficealthoughheisbarred
fromexercisingthefunctionsandprerogativesoftheofficewithinthe
suspensionperiod.Thebestindicatorofthesuspendedofficials
continuityinofficeistheabsenceofapermanentreplacementand
thelackoftheauthoritytoappointonesincenovacancyexists.
44

(Emphasissupplied.)

(5)ElectionProtest
Withregardtotheeffectsofanelectionprotestvisvisthethree
termlimitrule,jurisprudencepresentsamoredifferingpicture.TheCourts
Supranote10.

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pronouncementsinLonzanidav.CommissiononElections
45

(1999),Ongv.
Alegre
46

(2006),RiveraIIIv.CommissiononElections
47

(2007)andDizonv.
CommissiononElections
48

(2009),allprotestcases,areilluminating.
InLonzanida,RomeoLonzanidawaselectedandhadservedas
municipalmayorofSanAntonio,Zambalesinterms19891992,19921995
and19951998.However,hisproclamationrelativetothe1995electionwas
protestedandwaseventuallydeclaredbytheRTCandthenbyCOMELEC
nullandvoidonthegroundoffailureofelections.OnFebruary27,1998,
oraboutthreemonthsbeforetheMay1998elections,Lonzanidavacatedthe
mayoraltypostinlightofaCOMELECorderandwritofexecutionitissued.

Lonzanidasopponentassumedofficefortheremainderoftheterm.Inthe
May1998elections,Lonzanidaagainfiledhiscertificateofcandidacy.His
opponent,EfrenMuli,filedapetitionfordisqualificationonthegroundthat
Lonzanidahadalreadyservedthreeconsecutivetermsinthesamepost.The
Court,citingBorjaJr.,reiteratedthetwo(2)conditionswhichmustconcur
forthethreetermlimittoapply:1)thattheofficialconcernedhasbeen
electedforthreeconsecutivetermsinthesamelocalgovernmentpostand2)
thathehasfullyservedthreeconsecutiveterms.
49

InviewofBorja,Jr.,theCourtruledthattheforegoingrequisites
wereabsentinthecaseofLonzanida.TheCourtheldthatLonzanidacannot
beconsideredashavingbeendulyelectedtothepostintheMay1995
electionssincehisassumptionofofficeasmayorcannotbedeemedtohave
beenbyreasonofavalidelectionbutbyreasonofavoidproclamation.
Andasacorollarypoint,theCourtstatedthatLonzanidadidnotfullyserve
the19951998mayoraltermhavingbeenorderedtovacatehispostbefore
theexpirationoftheterm,asituationwhichamountstoaninvoluntary
relinquishmentofoffice.
Supranote31.
G.R.Nos.163295&163354,January23,2006,479SCRA473.
47G.R.Nos.167591&170577,May9,2007,523SCRA41.
48G.R.No.182088,January30,2009,577SCRA589.
49Lonzanida,supranote31.
45
46

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ThisCourtdeviatedfromtherulinginLonzanidainOngv.Alegre
50

owingtoavarianceinthefactualsituationsattendant.
Inthatcase,FrancisOng(Ong)waselectedandservedasmayorof
SanVicente,CamarinesNorteforterms19951998,19982001,and2001
2004.Duringthe1998mayoraltyelections,orduringhissupposedsecond
term,theCOMELECnullifiedOngsproclamationonthepostulatethatOng
lostduringthe1998elections.However,theCOMELECsdecisionbecame
finalandexecutoryonJuly4,2001,whenOnghadfullyservedthe1998
2001mayoraltytermandwasinfactalreadystartingtoservethe20012004

termasmayorelectofthemunicipalityofSanVicente.In2004,Ongfiled
hiscertificateofcandidacyforthesamepositionasmayor,whichhis
opponentopposedforviolationofthethreetermlimitrule.
OnginvokedtherulinginLonzanidaandarguedthathecouldnotbe
consideredashavingservedasmayorfrom19982001becausehewasnot
dulyelectedtothepostandmerelyassumedofficeasapresumptive
winner.DismissingOngsargument,theCourtheldthathisassumptionof
officeasmayorfortheterm19982001constitutesserviceforthefullterm
andhence,shouldbecountedforpurposesofthethreetermlimitrule.The
CourtmodifiedtheconditionsstatedinLonzanidainthesensethatOngs
servicewasdeemedandcountedasserviceforafulltermbecauseOngs
proclamationwasvoidedonlyaftertheexpiryoftheterm.TheCourtnoted
thattheCOMELECdecisionwhichdeclaredOngasnothavingwonthe
1998electionswaswithoutpracticalandlegaluseandvaluepromulgated
asitwasafterthecontestedtermhasexpired.TheCourtfurtherreasoned:
Petitioner[FrancisOngs]contentionthathewasonlya
presumptivewinnerinthe1998mayoraltyderbyashisproclamationwas
underprotestdidnotmakehimlessthanadulyelectedmayor.His
proclamationasthedulyelectedmayorinthe1998mayoraltyelection
coupledbyhisassumptionofofficeandhiscontinuousexerciseofthe
functionsthereoffromstarttofinishoftheterm,shouldlegallybetaken
asserviceforafulltermincontemplationofthethreetermrule.
Supranote46.

50

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Theabsurdityandthedeleteriouseffectofacontraryviewisnot
hardtodiscern.SuchcontraryviewwouldmeanthatAlegrewould
underthethreetermrulebeconsideredashavingservedatermbyvirtue
ofaveritablymeaninglesselectoralprotestruling,whenanotheractually
servedsuchtermpursuanttoaproclamationmadeinduecourseafteran
election.
51

(Emphasissupplied.)

TheCourtdidnotapplytherulinginLonzanidaandruledthatthe
caseofOngwasdifferent,towit:

ThedifferencebetweenthecaseatbenchandLonzanidaisatonce
apparent.Forone,inLonzanida,theresultofthemayoraltyelectionwas
declaredanullityforthestatedreasonof"failureofelection",and,asa
consequencethereof,theproclamationofLonzanidaasmayorelectwas
nullified,followedbyanorderforhimtovacatetheofficeofmayor.For
another,Lonzanidadidnotfullyservethe19951998mayoralterm,there
beinganinvoluntaryseverancefromofficeasaresultoflegalprocesses.
Infine,therewasaneffectiveinterruptionofthecontinuityofservice.
52

(Emphasissupplied.)

OngsslightdeparturefromLonzanidawouldlaterfindreinforcement
intheconsolidatedcasesofRiveraIIIv.CommissiononElections
53

andDee
v.Morales.
54

Therein,MoraleswaselectedmayorofMabalacat,Pampanga
forthefollowingconsecutiveterms:19951998,19982001and20012004.
Inrelationtothe2004elections,Moralesagainranasmayorofthesame
town,emergedasgarneringthemajorityvotesandwasproclaimedelective
mayorfortermcommencingJuly1,2004toJune30,2007.Apetitionfor
quowarrantowaslaterfiledagainstMoralespredicatedonthegroundthat
heisineligibletorunforafourthterm,havingservedasmayorforthree
consecutiveterms.Inhisanswer,Moralesaverredthathissupposed1998
2001termcannotbeconsideredagainsthim,for,althoughhewas
proclaimedbytheMabalacatboardofcanvassersaselectedmayorvisvis
the1998electionsanddischargedthedutiesofmayoruntilJune30,2001,
hisproclamationwaslaternullifiedbytheRTCofAngelesCityandhis
closestrival,AnthonyDee,proclaimedthedulyelectedmayor.Pursuinghis
point,Moralesparlayedtheideathatheonlyservedasamerecaretaker.
Id.
Id.
53Supranote47.
54Id.
51
52

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TheCourtfoundMoralespostureuntenableandheldthatthecaseof
MoralespresentsafactualmilieusimilarwithOng,notwithLonzanida.For
easeofreference,theproclamationofFrancisOng,inOng,wasnullified,
butafterhe,likeMorales,hadservedthethreeyeartermfromthestartto
theendoftheterm.Hence,theCourtconcludedthatMoralesexceededthe
threetermlimitrule,towit:
Here,respondentMoraleswaselectedforthetermJuly1,
1998toJune30,2001.Heassumedtheposition.Heservedasmayor
untilJune30,2001.Hewasmayorfortheentireperiod
notwithstandingtheDecisionoftheRTCintheelectoralprotestcase
filedbypetitionerDeeoustinghim(respondent)asmayor.To
reiterate,asheldinOngv.Alegre,suchcircumstancedoesnotconstitute
aninterruptioninservingthefullterm.
xxxx
RespondentMoralesisnowservinghisfourthterm.Hehasbeen
mayorofMabalacatcontinuouslywithoutanybreaksinceJuly1,1995.In
justoveramonth,byJune30,2007,hewillhavebeenmayorof
Mabalacatfortwelve(12)continuousyears.
55

(Emphasissupplied.)

TheCourtruledinRiverathatthefactofbeingbelatedlyousted,i.e.,
aftertheexpiryoftheterm,cannotconstituteaninterruptioninMorales
serviceofthefullterm;neithercanMorales,asheargued,beconsidered
merelyacaretakeroftheofficeorameredefactoofficerforpurposes
ofapplyingthethreetermlimitrule.
Inarelated2009caseofDizonv.CommissiononElections,
56

the
CourtwouldagainfindthesameMayorMoralesasrespondentina
disqualificationproceedingwhenheranagainasamayoraltycandidate
duringthe2007electionsforatermendingJune30,2010.Havingbeen
unseatedfromhispostbyvirtueofthisCourtsrulinginRivera,Morales
wouldarguethistimearoundthatthethreetermlimitrulewasnolonger
applicableastohis2007mayoraltybid.Thistime,theCourtruledinhis
favor,holdingthatforpurposesofthe2007elections,thethreetermlimit
Id.
Supranote48.

55
56

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rulewasnolongeradisqualifyingfactorasagainstMorales.TheCourt
wrote:
OurrulingintheRiveracaseservedasMoralesinvoluntary
severancefromofficewithrespecttothe20042007term.Involuntary
severancefromofficeforanylengthoftimeshortofthefullterm
providedbylawamountstoaninterruptionofcontinuityofservice.Our
decisionintheRiveracasewaspromulgatedon9May2007andwas
effectiveimmediately.Thenextday,Moralesnotifiedthevicemayors
officeofourdecision.Thevicemayorassumedtheofficeofthemayor
from17May2007upto30June2007.Theassumptionbythevice
mayoroftheofficeofthemayor,nomatterhowshortitmayseemto
Dizon,interruptedMoralescontinuityofservice.Thus,Moralesdid
notholdofficeforthefulltermof1July2004to30June2007.
57

(Emphasissupplied)

Tosummarize,hereunderaretheprevailingjurisprudenceonissues
affectingconsecutivenessoftermsand/orinvoluntaryinterruption,viz:
1.Whenapermanentvacancyoccursinanelectivepositionandthe
officialmerelyassumedthepositionpursuanttotherulesonsuccession
undertheLGC,thenhisservicefortheunexpiredportionofthetermofthe
replacedofficialcannotbetreatedasonefulltermascontemplatedunderthe
subjectconstitutionalandstatutoryprovisionthatservicecannotbecounted
intheapplicationofanytermlimit(Borja,Jr.).Iftheofficialrunsagainfor
thesamepositionheheldpriortohisassumptionofthehigheroffice,then
hissuccessiontosaidpositionisbyoperationoflawandisconsideredan
involuntaryseveranceorinterruption(Montebon).
2.Anelectiveofficial,whohasservedforthreeconsecutiveterms
andwhodidnotseektheelectivepositionforwhatcouldbehisfourthterm,
butlaterwoninarecallelection,hadaninterruptioninthecontinuityofthe
officialsservice.For,hehadbecomeintheinterim,i.e.,fromtheendofthe
3
rd

termuptotherecallelection,aprivatecitizen(AdormeoandSocrates).
Id.

57

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3.Theabolitionofanelectivelocalofficeduetotheconversionof
amunicipalitytoacitydoesnot,byitself,worktointerrupttheincumbent
officialscontinuityofservice(Latasa).
4.Preventivesuspensionisnotaterminterruptingeventasthe
electiveofficerscontinuedstayandentitlementtotheofficeremain
unaffectedduringtheperiodofsuspension,althoughheisbarredfrom
exercisingthefunctionsofhisofficeduringthisperiod(Aldovino,Jr.).
5.Whenacandidateisproclaimedaswinnerforanelective
positionandassumesoffice,histermisinterruptedwhenhelosesinan
electionprotestandisoustedfromoffice,thusdisenablinghimfromserving
whatwouldotherwisebetheunexpiredportionofhistermofofficehadthe
protestbeendismissed(LonzanidaandDizon).Thebreakorinterruption
neednotbeforafulltermofthreeyearsorforthemajorpartofthe3year
term;aninterruptionforanylengthoftime,providedthecauseis
involuntary,issufficienttobreakthecontinuityofservice(Socrates,citing
Lonzanida).
6.Whenanofficialisdefeatedinanelectionprotestandsaid
decisionbecomesfinalaftersaidofficialhadservedthefulltermforsaid
office,thenhislossintheelectioncontestdoesnotconstituteaninterruption
sincehehasmanagedtoservethetermfromstarttofinish.Hisfullservice,
despitethedefeat,shouldbecountedintheapplicationoftermlimits
becausethenullificationofhisproclamationcameaftertheexpirationofthe
term(OngandRivera).
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TheCaseofAbundo
AbundoarguesthattheRTCandtheCOMELECerredinuniformly
rulingthathehadalreadyservedthreeconsecutivetermsandis,thus,barred
bytheconstitutionalthreetermlimitruletorunforthecurrent20102013

term.Ingist,Abundoargumentsrunthusly:
1.
Aldovino,Jr.isnotonallfourswiththepresentcaseasthe
formerdealtwithpreventivesuspensionwhichdoesnotinterruptthe
continuityofserviceofaterm;
2.
Aldovino,Jr.recognizesthatthetermofanelectedofficialcan
beinterruptedsoastoremovehimfromthereachoftheconstitutionalthree
termlimitation;
3.
TheCOMELECmisinterpretedthemeaningoftermin
Aldovino,Jr.byitsrelianceonamereportionoftheDecisionandnotonthe
unifiedlogicinthedisquisition;
4.
Ofappropriategovernanceinthiscaseistheholdingin
Lonzanida
58

andRiveraIIIv.CommissiononElections.
59

5.
TheCOMELECmissedthepointwhenitruledthattherewas
nointerruptionintheserviceofAbundosincewhatheconsideredasan
interruptionofhis20042007termoccurredbeforehistermstarted;and
6.
Torulethatthetermoftheprotestee(Torres)whose
proclamationwasadjudgedinvalidwasinterruptedwhilethatofthe
protestant(Abundo)whowaseventuallyproclaimedwinnerwasnotso
interruptedisatonceabsurdasitisillogical.
Supranote31.
59Supranote47.
58

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BothrespondentsVegaandtheCOMELECcounterthattheratio
decidendiofAldovino,Jr.findsapplicationintheinstantcase.The

COMELECruledthatAbundodidnotlosetitletotheofficeashisvictoryin
theprotestcaseconfirmedhisentitlementtosaidofficeandhewasonly
unabletotemporarilydischargethefunctionsoftheofficeduringthe
pendencyoftheelectionprotest.
WenotethatthispresentcaseofAbundodealswiththeeffectsofan
electionprotest,forwhichtherulingsinLonzanida,Ong,RiveraandDizon
appeartobemoreattunedthanthecaseofAldovinoJr.,theinterrupting
effectsoftheimpositionofapreventivesuspensionbeingtheverylismota
intheAldovino,Jr.case.Butjustthesame,WefindthatAbundoscase
presentsadifferentfactualbackdrop.
Unlikeintheabovementionedelectionprotestcaseswhereinthe
individualssubjectofdisqualificationwerecandidateswholostinthe
electionprotestandeachdeclaredloserduringtheelections,Abundowas
thewinnerduringtheelectionprotestandwasdeclaredtherightfulholder
ofthemayoraltypost.UnlikeMayorLonzanidaandMayorMorales,who
werebothunseatedtowardtheendoftheirrespectiveterms,Abundowas
theprotestantwhooustedhisopponentandhadassumedtheremainderof
theterm.
Notwithstanding,WestillfindthisCourtspronouncementsinthe
pastasinstructive,andconsiderseveraldoctrinesestablishedfromthe1998
caseofBorja,Jr.uptothemostrecentcaseofAldovinoJr.in2009,as
potentaidsinarrivingatthisCourtsconclusion.
Theintentionbehindthethreetermlimitrulewasnotonlyto
abrogatethemonopolizationofpoliticalpowerandpreventelected
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officialsfrombreedingproprietaryinterestintheirposition
60

butalsoto
enhancethepeoplesfreedomofchoice.
61

InthewordsofJusticeVicente
V.Mendoza,whilepeopleshouldbeprotectedfromtheevilsthata

monopolyofpowermaybringabout,careshouldbetakenthattheirfreedom
ofchoiceisnotundulycurtailed.
62

Inthepresentcase,theCourtfindsAbundoscasemeritoriousand
declaresthatthetwoyearperiodduringwhichhisopponent,Torres,was
servingasmayorshouldbeconsideredasaninterruption,which
effectivelyremovedAbundoscasefromtheambitofthethreetermlimit
rule.
ItbearstostressatthisjuncturethatAbundo,forthe2004electionfor
thetermstartingJuly1,2004toJune30,2007,wasthedulyelectedmayor.
OtherwisehowexplainhisvictoryinhiselectionprotestagainstTorresand
hisconsequentproclamationasdulyelectedmayor.Accordingly,thefirst
requisitefortheapplicationofthedisqualificationrulebasedonthethree
termlimitthattheofficialhasbeenelectedissatisfied.
ThisthusbringsustothesecondrequisiteofwhetherornotAbundo
hadservedforthreeconsecutiveterms,asthephraseisjuridically
understood,asmayorofViga,Catanduanesimmediatelybeforethe2010
nationalandlocalelections.Subsumedtothisissueisofcoursethequestion
ofwhetherornottherewasaneffectiveinvoluntaryinterruptionduringthe
threethreeyearperiods,resultinginthedisruptionofthecontinuityof
Abundosmayoralty.
60

Borja,Jr.,supranote35,quotingCommissionerBlasF.Ople,RECORDOFTHE
CONSTITUTIONALCOMMISSION,236243,SessionofJuly25,1986.
61Borja,Jr.,supranote35.
62Id.

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Thefactsofthecaseclearlypointtoaninvoluntaryinterruption
duringtheJuly2004June2007term.
Therecanbenoquibblingthat,duringtheterm20042007,andwith
theenforcementofthedecisionoftheelectionprotestinhisfavor,Abundo
assumedthemayoraltypostonlyonMay9,2006andservedthetermuntil
June30,2007orforaperiodofalittleoveroneyearandonemonth.
Consequently,unlikeMayorOnginOngandMayorMoralesinRivera,it

cannotbesaidthatMayorAbundowasabletoservefullytheentire2004
2007termtowhichhewasotherwiseentitled.
Aterm,asdefinedinAppariv.CourtofAppeals,
63

means,inalegal
sense,afixedanddefiniteperiodoftimewhichthelawdescribesthatan
officermayholdanoffice.
64

Italsomeansthetimeduringwhichthe
officermayclaimtoholdofficeasamatterofright,andfixestheinterval
afterwhichtheseveralincumbentsshallsucceedoneanother.
65

Itisthe
periodoftimeduringwhichadulyelectedofficialhastitletoandcanserve
thefunctionsofanelectiveoffice.Fromparagraph(a)ofSec.43,RA
7160,
66

thetermforlocalelectedofficialsisthree(3)yearsstartingfrom
noonofJune30ofthefirstyearofsaidterm.
Inthepresentcase,duringtheperiodofoneyearandtenmonths,or
fromJune30,2004untilMay8,2006,Abundocannotplausiblyclaim,
evenifhewantedto,thathecouldholdofficeofthemayorasamatter
ofright.Neithercanheasserttitletothesamenorservethefunctionsof
thesaidelectiveoffice.Thereasonissimple:duringthatperiod,titletohold
suchofficeandthecorrespondingrighttoassumethefunctionsthereofstill
belongedtohisopponent,asproclaimedelectionwinner.Accordingly,
No.L30057,January31,1984,127SCRA231;citedinAldovino,Jr.
Id.at240(citationsomitted).
65Gamindev.CommissiononAudit,G.R.No.140335,December13,2000,347SCRA655,663;
citedinAldovino,Jr.,supranote10.
66Sec.43.TermofOffice.
(a)ThetermofofficeofalllocalelectiveofficialselectedaftertheeffectivityofthisCode
shallbethree(3)years,startingfromnoonofJune30,1992orsuchdateasmaybeprovidedforby
lawxxx.
63
64

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Abundoactuallyheldtheofficeandexercisedthefunctionsasmayoronly
uponhisdeclaration,followingtheresolutionoftheprotest,asdulyelected
candidateintheMay2004electionsorforonlyalittleoveroneyearandone
month.Consequently,sincethelegallycontemplatedfulltermforlocal
electedofficialsisthree(3)years,itcannotbesaidthatAbundofullyserved
theterm20042007.TherealityonthegroundisthatAbundoactually
servedless.
Needlesstostress,thealmosttwoyearperiodduringwhichAbundos
opponentactuallyservedasMayorisandoughttobeconsideredan
involuntaryinterruptionofAbundoscontinuityofservice.Aninvoluntary
interruptedterm,cannot,inthecontextofthedisqualificationrule,be
consideredasonetermforpurposesofcountingthethreetermthreshold.
67

Thenotionoffullserviceofthreeconsecutivetermsisrelatedto
theconceptsofinterruptionofserviceandvoluntaryrenunciationof
service.Thewordinterruptionmeanstemporarycessation,intermissionor
suspension.
68

Tointerruptistoobstruct,thwartorprevent.
69

Whenthe
ConstitutionandtheLGCof1991speakofinterruption,thereferenceisto
theobstructiontothecontinuanceoftheservicebytheconcernedelected
officialbyeffectivelycuttingshorttheserviceofatermorgivingahiatusin
theoccupationoftheelectiveoffice.Ontheotherhand,theword
renunciationconnotestheideaofwaiverorabandonmentofaknown
right.Torenounceistogiveup,abandon,declineorresign.
70

Voluntary
renunciationoftheofficebyanelectivelocalofficialwouldthusmeanto
giveuporabandonthetitletotheofficeandtocutshorttheserviceofthe
termtheconcernedelectedofficialisentitledto.
Socrates,supranote33.

67
68

WEBSTERSTHIRDNEWINTERNATIONALDICTIONARYOFTHEENGLISHLANGUAGE
UNABRIDGED1192(1981).
69Id.
70Aldovino,Jr.,supranote10,at251;citingWEBSTERSTHIRDNEWINTERNATIONAL
DICTIONARY1992(1993).

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InitsassailedResolution,theCOMELECenbanc,applyingAldovino,
Jr.,
71

held:
Itmustbestressedthatinvoluntaryinterruptionofservicewhich
jurisprudencedeemsanexceptiontothethreetermlimitrule,impliesthat
theserviceofthetermhasbegunbeforeitwasinterrupted.Here,the
respondentdidnotlosetitletotheoffice.AstheassailedResolution
states:
Inthecaseatbar,respondentcannotbesaidtohavelosthistitle
totheoffice.Onthecontrary,heactivelysoughtentitlementtothe
officewhenhelodgedtheelectionprotestcase.Andrespondent
appellantsvictoryinthesaidcaseisafinalconfirmationthathewas
validlyelectedforthemayoraltypostofViga,Catanduanesin2004
2007.Atmost,respondentappellantwasonlyunabletotemporarily
dischargethefunctionsoftheofficetowhichhewasvalidlyelected
duringthependencyoftheelectionprotest,butheneverlosttitletothe
saidoffice.72(Emphasisadded.)

TheCOMELECsSecondDivision,ontheotherhand,pronounced
thattheactuallengthofservicebythepublicofficialinagiventermis
immaterialbyreckoningsaidserviceforthetermintheapplicationofthe
threetermlimitrule,thus:
AsemphasizedinthecaseofAldovino,thisformulationno
morethanthreeconsecutivetermsisaclearcommandsuggestingthe
existenceofaninflexiblerule.Thereforewecannotsubscribetothe
argumentthatsincerespondentAbundoservedonlyaportionoftheterm,
his20042007termshouldnotbeconsideredforpurposesofthe
applicationofthethreetermlimitrule.Whentheframersofthe
Constitutiondraftedandincorporatedthethreetermlimitrule,itisclear
thatreferenceistotheterm,nottheactuallengthoftheservicethepublic
officialmayrender.Therefore,onesactualserviceoftermnomatterhow
longorhowshortisimmaterial.
73

Infine,theCOMELECruledagainstAbundoonthetheorythatthe
lengthoftheactualserviceofthetermisimmaterialinhiscaseashewas

onlytemporarilyunabletodischargehisfunctionsasmayor.
TheCOMELECscasedispositionanditsheavyrelianceonAldovino,
Jr.donotcommendthemselvesforconcurrence.TheCourtcannotsimply
Id.at259.
Rollo,p.45.
73Id.at5455.
71
72

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finditswaycleartounderstandthepollbodysdeterminationthatAbundo
wasonlytemporarilyunabletodischargehisfunctionsasmayorduringthe
pendencyoftheelectionprotest.
Aspreviouslystated,thedeclarationofbeingthewinnerinanelection
protestgrantsthelocalelectedofficialtherighttoservetheunexpired
portionoftheterm.Verily,whilehewasdeclaredwinnerintheprotestfor
themayoraltyseatforthe20042007term,Abundosfulltermhasbeen
substantiallyreducedbytheactualservicerenderedbyhisopponent
(Torres).Hence,therewasactualinvoluntaryinterruptioninthetermof
Abundoandhecannotbeconsideredtohaveservedthefull20042007term.
Thisiswhathappenedintheinstantcase.Itcannotbe
overemphasizedthatpendingthefavorableresolutionofhiselectionprotest,
Abundowasrelegatedtobeinganordinaryconstituentsincehis
opponent,aspresumptivevictorinthe2004elections,wasoccupyingthe
mayoraltyseat.Inotherwords,foralmosttwoyearsorfromJuly1,2004
thestartofthetermuntilMay9,2006orduringwhichhisopponent
actuallyassumedthemayoraltyoffice,Abundowasaprivatecitizen
warminghisheelswhileawaitingtheoutcomeofhisprotest.Hence,
evenifdeclaredlaterashavingtherighttoservetheelectivepositionfrom
July1,2004,suchdeclarationwouldnoterasethefactthatpriortothe
finalityoftheelectionprotest,Abundodidnotserveinthemayorsoffice
and,infact,hadnolegalrighttosaidposition.
AldovinoJr.cannotpossiblylendsupporttorespondentscauseof
action,ortoCOMELECsresolutionagainstAbundo.InAldovinoJr.,the
Courtsuccinctlydefineswhattemporaryinabilityordisqualificationto
exercisethefunctionsofanelectiveofficemeans,thus:

Ontheotherhand,temporaryinabilityordisqualificationto
exercisethefunctionsofanelectivepost,evenifinvoluntary,shouldnot
beconsideredaneffectiveinterruptionofatermbecauseitdoesnot
involvethelossoftitletoofficeoratleastaneffectivebreakfrom
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holdingoffice;theofficeholder,whileretainingtitle,issimplybarred
fromexercisingthefunctionsofhisofficeforareasonprovidedbylaw.
74

Werulethattheabovepronouncementonpreventivesuspension
doesnotapplytotheinstantcase.Verily,itiserroneoustosaythat
Abundomerelywastemporarilyunableordisqualifiedtoexercisethe
functionsofanelectivepost.Forone,duringtheinterveningperiodof
almosttwoyears,reckonedfromthestartofthe20042007term,Abundo
cannotbesaidtohaveretainedtitletothemayoraltyofficeashewasat
thattimenotthedulyproclaimedwinnerwhowouldhavethelegalright
toassumeandservesuchelectiveoffice.Foranother,nothavingbeen
declaredwinneryet,Abundocannotbesaidtohavelosttitletotheoffice
sinceonecannotplausiblyloseatitlewhich,inthefirstplace,hedidnot
have.Thus,forallintentsandpurposes,evenifthebelateddeclarationin
theelectionprotestaccordshimtitletotheelectiveofficefromthestartof
theterm,Abundowasnotentitledtotheelectiveofficeuntiltheelection
protestwasfinallyresolvedinhisfavor.
Consequently,therewasahiatusofalmosttwoyears,consistingofa
breakandeffectiveinterruptionofhisservice,untilheassumedtheoffice
andservedbarelyoverayearoftheremainingterm.Atthisjuncture,We
observetheapparentsimilaritiesofMayorAbundoscasewiththecasesof
MayorTalagainAdormeoandMayorHagedorninSocratesasMayors
TalagaandHagedornwerenotproclaimedwinnerssincetheywerenon
candidatesintheregularelections.Theywereproclaimedwinnersduring
therecallelectionsandclearlywerenotabletofullyservethetermsofthe
deposedincumbentofficials.SimilartotheircaseswheretheCourtdeemed
theirtermsasinvoluntarilyinterrupted,Abundoalsobecameorwasa

privatecitizenduringtheperiodoverwhichhisopponentwasservingas
mayor.IfinLonzanida,theCourtruledthattherewasinterruptionin
Lonzanidasservicebecauseofhissubsequentdefeatintheelectionprotest,
thenwithmorereason,Abundostermfor20042007shouldbedeclared
Aldovino,Jr.,supranote10,at260.

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interruptedsincehewasnotproclaimedwinnerafterthe2004electionsand
wasabletoassumetheofficeandserveonlyforalittlemorethanayear
afterwinningtheprotest.
AsaptlystatedinLatasa,tobeconsideredasinterruptionofservice,
thelawcontemplatesarestperiodduringwhichthelocalelectiveofficial
stepsdownfromofficeandceasestoexercisepowerorauthorityoverthe
inhabitantsoftheterritorialjurisdictionofaparticularlocalgovernment
unit.
75

Applyingthesaidprincipleinthepresentcase,thereisnoquestion
thatduringthependencyoftheelectionprotest,Abundoceasedfrom
exercisingpowerorauthorityoverthegoodpeopleofViga,Catanduanes.
Consequently,theperiodduringwhichAbundowasnotservingasmayor
shouldbeconsideredasarestperiodorbreakinhisservicebecause,as
earlierstated,priortothejudgmentintheelectionprotest,itwasAbundos
opponent,Torres,whowasexercisingsuchpowersbyvirtueofthestillthen
validproclamation.
Asafinalnote,WereiteratethatAbundoscasediffersfromother
casesinvolvingtheeffectsofanelectionprotestbecausewhileAbundowas,
inthefinalreckoning,thewinningcandidate,hewastheonedeprivedof
hisrightandopportunitytoservehisconstituents.Toacertainextent,
Abundowasavictimofanimperfectelectionsystem.Whileadmittedlythe
Courtdoesnotpossessthemandatetoremedysuchimperfections,the
Constitutionhasclotheditwithenoughauthoritytoestablishafortress
againsttheinjusticesitmaybring.
Inthisregard,Wefindthatacontraryrulingwouldworkdamage

andcausegraveinjusticetoAbundoanelectedofficialwhowas
belatedlydeclaredasthewinnerandassumedofficeforonlyashortperiod
oftheterm.IfinthecasesofLonzanidaandDizon,thisCourtruledinfavor
ofalosingcandidateorthepersonwhowasadjudgednotlegallyentitled
Latasa,supranote43.

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toholdthecontestedpublicofficebuthelditanywayWefindmorereason
toruleinfavorofawinningcandidateprotestantwho,bypopularvote,
deservestitletothepublicofficebutwhoseopportunitytoholdthesame
washaltedbyaninvalidproclamation.
Also,morethantheinjusticethatmaybecommittedagainstAbundo
istheinjusticethatmaylikewisebecommittedagainstthepeopleofViga,
Catanduanesbydeprivingthemoftheirrighttochoosetheirleaders.Like
theframersoftheConstitution,WebearinmindthatWecannotarrogate
untoourselvestherighttodecidewhatthepeoplewant
76

andhence,
should,asmuchaspossible,allowthepeopletoexercisetheirownsenseof
proportionandrelyontheirownstrengthtocurtailthepowerwhenit
overreachesitself.
77

Fordemocracydrawsstrengthfromthechoicethe
peoplemakewhichisthesamechoiceWearelikewiseboundtoprotect.
WHEREFORE,theinstantpetitionisPARTLYGRANTED.
Accordingly,theassailedFebruary8,2012ResolutionoftheCommission
onElectionsSecondDivisionandMay10,2012Resolutionofthe
CommissiononElectionsenbancinEAC(AE)No.A252010andthe
DecisionoftheRegionalTrialCourt(RTC)ofVirac,Catanduanes,Branch
43,datedAugust9,2010,inElectionCaseNo.55,areherebyREVERSED
andSETASIDE.
PetitionerAbelardoAbundo,Sr.isDECLAREDELIGIBLEforthe
positionofMayorofViga,Catanduanestowhichhewasdulyelectedinthe
May2010electionsandisaccordinglyorderedIMMEDIATELY

REINSTATEDtosaidposition.Withal,EmeterioM.TarinandCesarO.
CervantesareorderedtoimmediatelyvacatethepositionsofMayorand
ViceMayorofViga,Catanduanes,respectively,andshallreverttotheir