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No third term for senators

April 12, 2019

Before the matter becomes a disruptive issue, subject to contention and endless argument, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would be well advised to declare with finality the meaning of the constitutional provision on election to the Senate.

The provision in article VI, Section 4, reads:

“The term of office of the senators shall be six years and shall commence, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June following their election.

“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 to the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.”

The nation needs a definitive clarification of this provision because there are some individuals who, after having already served two full terms in the Senate, seek election and want to serve another term in the chamber.

The clarification must be made now because the Comelec, by failing to make a statement on this matter earlier, has unwittingly encouraged unworthy candidates to press on with their candidacies in spite of the odds against them. These candidates have confused the electorate in no small way by their posters, and their ads now appear alongside those of the qualified candidates.

If the situation is allowed to continue until election day, the nation could face an unpleasant and complicated situation where a patently unqualified candidate wins the voters’ nod and triggers a declaration of failure in the balloting. His or her election could thereafter be legally challenged by rival candidates who had been unlawfully denied being voted into office.

To resolve this conundrum before it transpires, it is best for the Comelec and the nation to go back to the meaning of the constitutional provision.

The provision means what is stated in the Constitution and not what certain candidates and their backers want it to mean.

One thing clear is that a full term in the Senate is six years, nothing more.

Secondly it means that no person normally qualified to stand for election is lawfully allowed to serve as senator for more than two terms, which means no extension of term into 12 years is allowed.

It also means that candidates who are disqualified under this provision should be stricken off the ballot by the election body, so that voters are not misled or confused at the polling booth.

It does not take much cogitation for our people to realize why these unscrupulous persons are so insistent on returning to the Senate. They seek to regain the inordinate salaries and perks of senators and the chance to partake of the obscene and runaway senatorial “pork barrel.”

We do not want to be the one to catalog the names of those presenting themselves to the electorate under false pretenses.

This task belongs properly to the Comelec. It is its mandate and duty to weed out disqualified and unworthy candidates from the pack, and separate them from the candidates who truly deserve to be voted into office.

This matter should not be reduced to just a passing mention by the Comelec spokesman during his TV news appearances. Rather, it merits a clear and judicious statement by the Comelec commissioners, speaking as one body and as our sole election authority.

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