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Void election of ‘termed out’ lawmakers, SC urged

July 09, 2019

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday was asked to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to enforce the provisions of the 1987 Constitution on the term limit of elective officials and annul the election of incumbent “termed-out” senators and congressmen.

In a petition for mandamus, The Manila Times columnist Yen Makabenta, lawyer Vladimir Cabigao, Mary Wendy Duran, Manolito Coronado, Socorro Maricel Namia Nepomuceno, Jef Nalus Aquino, Antonio Santos and Cesar Evangelista asked the high court to stop the abuses of senators and congressmen who violated the term limit rule, as provided under sections 4 and 7, Article VI of the Constitution.

Section 4 sets the term of office of a senator to six years, while Section 7 sets the term limit of congressmen to no more than three consecutive terms, with three years for each term.

Petitioners (from left) Vladimir Cabigao, Antonio Santos, Cesar Evangelista and Yen Makabenta show copies of their complaint filed at the Supreme Court in Manila to compel the Commission on Elections to implement term limits on elected officials and void the election of eight incumbent senators. PHOTO BY ENRIQUE AGCAOILI

Both sections provide that “[v]oluntary 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.”

The group urged the high court to annul the election of termed-out elective lawmakers, including eight incumbent senators — Vicente Sotto 3rd, Franklin Drilon, Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd.

They also cited several members of the House of Representatives, including incumbents Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, Quezon City Third District Rep. Danilo Suarez, San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora and Cebu City First District Rep. Raul del Mar.

The list also included Leyte First District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

The group asked the Supreme Court to overthrow the ruling on Socrates vs Comelec, Sandoval vs Comelec and Adovo vs Comelec, where the Supreme Court upheld the candidacy of former Puerto Princesa City mayor Edward Hagedorn, who had already served three consecutive terms, to run in a recall election.

The petitioners said the constitution “never mention at all that a senator or a member of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, may be elected for a third term after ‘two consecutive terms’ or for a fourth term after ‘three consecutive terms,’ on the contingency of ‘hibernation’ in between.”

“Common sense it is that respondent should not read into the text something that is absent therefrom. Petitioners urge the court to seek the meaning of the Constitution from the words of it,” they added.

“Our contention is that there is no textual formulation in the Constitution on ‘hibernation’ or ‘hiatus’ that would allow either a senator or a member of the House of Representatives to break and thereafter run for the same office. That interpretation is unfounded on the text,” Cabigao said.

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