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Abundo v COMELEC

FACTS:
For four (4) successive regular elections (2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 elections),
Abundo vied for the position of municipal mayor of Viga, Catanduanes
In 2001, and in 2007, he was immediately proclaimed as the winner, but on 2004, the
Viga municipal board of canvassers initially proclaimed as winner Jose Torres
o Abundo protested Torres election and proclamation and was eventually
declared the winner of the 2004 mayoralty election
o He assumed office starting May 9, 2006 until the end of the 2004-2007 term
on June 30, 2007
When Abundo filed his certificate of candidacy for the May 10, 2010 mayoralty seat,
Torres immediately filed a complaint predicated on the three- consecutive term limit
rule.
On June 16, 2010, the COMELEC First Division issued a Resolution finding for Abundo,
who in the meantime bested Torres by 219 votes and was accordingly proclaimed 2010
mayor-elect of Viga, Catanduanes (citing heavily Aldovino, Jr. v COMELEC)
August 9, 2010: The RTC then reversed the decision of the COMELEC first division
(citing heavily Aldovino, Jr. v COMELEC)
o To the RTC, the year and a month service constitutes a complete and full service
of Abundos second term as mayor.
COMELECs 2nd Division (February 8, 2012) and COMELEC En Banc (May 10, 2012)
upheld the RTC decision. In upholding the decision, COMELEC held in essence the
following:
o There was no involuntary interruption of Abundos 2004- 2007 term service as
he is considered never to have the lost title of Mayor after he won in his election
protest
o what the Constitution prohibits is for an elective official to be in office for the
same position for more than three consecutive terms and not to the service of
the term.
July 4, 2012: Vice-Mayor Emeterio M. Tarin and First Councilor Cesar O. Cervantes of
Viga, Catanduanes took their oaths of office as mayor and vice-mayor of Viga,
Catanduanes, respectively.

ISSUE:
WON the Commission En Banc committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction when it declared that Abundo has consecutively
served for three terms despite the fact that he only served the remaining one year
and one month of the second term as a result of an election protest

HELD: YES. Abundo is REINSTATED as mayor and Tarin and Cervantes are to return
to their original posts.
Disqualification to run under Sec. 8, Art. X of 1987 Consti and Local Government Code
of 1991: (1) Official has been elected for 3 consecutive terms for the same post and
(2) he has fully served three consecutive terms
Interruption of Service and Voluntary renunciation of service
o Interruption: the obstruction to the continuance of the service by the concerned
elected official by effectively cutting short the service of a term or giving a
hiatus in the occupation of the elective office
o Renunciation: idea of waiver or abandonment of a known right
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
o Was meant as a deterrent against an elective local official intending to skirt the
three-term limit rule by merely resigning before his or her third term ends
Involuntary interruption is claimed to result from any of these events or causes:
(1) succession or assumption of office by operation of law, (2) preventive suspension,
(3) declaration of the defeated candidate as the winner in an election contest, (4)
declaration of the proclaimed candidate as the losing party in an election contest, (5)
proclamation of a non-candidate as the winner in a recall election, (6) removal of the
official by operation of law, (7) and other analogous causes.
To be considered as interruption of service, the 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.
o There is no question that during the pendency of the election protest, Abundo
ceased from exercising power or authority, he became an ordinary
constituent
o The period during which Abundo was not serving as mayor should be
considered as a rest period or break in his service because, as earlier stated,
prior to the judgment in the election protest, it was Torres who was exercising
such powers by virtue of the still then valid proclamation.
During the period of one year and ten months, or from June 30, 2004 until May 8,
2006, Abundo cannot plausibly claim, even if he wanted to, that he could hold
office of the mayor as a matter of right.
o The almost two-year period during which Abundos opponent actually served
as Mayor is and ought to be considered an involuntary interruption of Abundos
continuity of service
o He was deprived of the right an opportunity to serve constituents
Note the wisdom of the three-term rule: What the Constitution prohibits is a 4th term
o The intention behind the three-term limit rule was not only to abrogate the
monopolization of political power and prevent elected officials from breeding
proprietary interest in their position but also to enhance the people's
freedom of choice.
Does not apply to case of Abundo due to different factual precedents
o Conversion of a municipality into a city does not constitute an interruption of
the incumbent officials continuity of service (Latasa v COMELEC part of case
list)
o Assumption to office by operation of law does not constitute one term (Borja
jr. V COMELEC part of case list)
o The period during which a local elected official is under preventive suspension
cannot be considered as an interruption of the continuity of his service
(Aldivino, Jr.)