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ROBERTO L. DIZON vs.

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS It is worthy to emphasize that the Supreme Court ruled


MARINO P. MORALES (Jan 30, 2009 GR 182088) that respondent has violated the three-term limit his failure
to qualify for the 2004 elections is a gap and allows him to
FACTS CARPIO, J.: run again for the same position in the May 14, 2007
National and Local Elections.
Dizon, hereinafter referred to as petitioner, is a resident
and taxpayer of the Municipality of Mabalacat, COMELEC En Banc affirmed the resolution of the
Pampanga. Marino P. Morales, hereinafter referred to as COMELEC Second Division.
respondent, is the incumbent Mayor of the Municipality of
Mabalacat, Pampanga. Dizon submits that the factual findings made in
the Rivera case should still be applied in the present case
Petitioner alleges respondent was proclaimed as the because Morales had, except for one month and 14 days,
municipal mayor of Mabalacat, Pampanga during the served the full term of 2004-2007. Morales assumption of
1995, 1998, 2001 and 2004 elections and has fully served the mayoralty position on 1 July 2007 makes the 2007-
the same. Respondent filed his COC on March 28, 2007 2010 term Morales fifth term in office.
again for the same position and same municipality.
ISSUE: WON the period served by Morales in the 2004--
Petitioner argues that respondent is no longer eligible and 2007 term (although he was ousted from his office as
qualified to run for the same position for the May 14, 2007 Mayor on May16, 2007) should be considered his fourth
elections under Section 43 of the Local Government Code term (NO)
of 1991. Under the said provision, no local elective official
is allowed to serve for more than three (3) consecutive WON 2007-2010: Morales Fifth Term? (NO)
terms for the same position.
RULING
Respondent, on the other hand, asserts that he is still
The present case covers a situation wherein we have
eligible and qualified to run as Mayor of the Municipality of
previously ruled that Morales had been elected to the
Mabalacat, Pampanga because he was not elected for the
same office and had served three consecutive terms, and
said position in the 1998 elections. He avers that the
wherein we disqualified and removed Morales during his
Commission en banc, entitled Atty. Venancio Q. Rivera III
fourth term. Dizon claims that Morales is currently serving
and Normandick P. De Guzman vs. Mayor Marino P.
his fifth term as mayor. Is the 2007-2010 term really
Morales, affirmed the decision of the RTC of Angeles City
Morales fifth term?
declaring Anthony D. Dee as the duly elected Mayor of
Mabalacat, Pampanga in the 1998 elections.
In our decision promulgated on 9 May 2007, this Court
unseated Morales during his fourth term. We cancelled his
Respondent alleges that his term should be reckoned from Certificate of Candidacy dated 30 December 2003. This
2001 or when he was proclaimed as Mayor of Mabalacat, cancellation disqualified Morales from being a candidate in
Pampanga. Respondent further asserts that his election in the May 2004 elections. The votes cast for Morales were
2004 is only for his second term. Hence, the three term considered stray votes.
rule provided under the Local Government Code is not
applicable to him. For purposes of determining the resulting disqualification
brought about by the three-term limit, it is not enough that
Respondent further argues that the grounds stated in the an individual has served three consecutive terms in an
instant petition are not covered under Section 78 of the elective local office, he must also have been elected to the
Omnibus Election Code. Respondent further contend [sic] same position for the same number of times.[6] There
that even if it is covered under the aforementioned should be a concurrence of two conditions for the
provision, the instant petition failed to allege any material application of the disqualification: (1) that the official
misrepresentation in the respondents Certificate of concerned has been elected for three consecutive terms in
Candidacy. the same local government post and (2) that he has fully
served three consecutive terms.
The Ruling of the COMELEC Second Division In the Rivera case, we found that Morales was
elected as mayor of Mabalacat for four consecutive terms: 1
Respondent was elected as mayor of Mabalacat from July July 1995 to 30 June 1998, 1 July 1998 to 30 June 2001, 1
1, 1995 to June 30, 1998. There was no interruption of his July 2001 to 30 June 2004, and 1 July 2004 to 30 June
second term from 1998 to 2001. He was able to exercise 2007. We disqualified Morales from his candidacy in the May
the powers and enjoy the position of a mayor as caretaker 2004 elections because of the three-term limit. Although the
of the office or a de facto officer until June 30, 2001 trial court previously ruled that Morales proclamation for the
notwithstanding the Decision of the RTC in an electoral 1998-2001 term was void, there was no interruption of the
protest case. He was again elected as mayor from July 1, continuity of Morales service with respect to the 1998-2001
2001 to June 30, 2003 [sic]. term because the trial courts ruling was promulgated only on
4 July 2001, or after the expiry of the 1998-2001 term.
Our ruling in the Rivera case served as Morales
involuntary severance from office with respect to the 2004-
2007 term. Involuntary severance from office for any length
of time short of the full term provided by law amounts to an
interruption of continuity of service. Our decision in
the Rivera case was promulgated on 9 May 2007 and was
effective immediately. The next day, Morales notified the vice
mayors office of our decision. The vice mayor assumed the
office of the mayor from 17 May 2007 up to 30 June
2007. The assumption by the vice mayor of the office of
the mayor, no matter how short it may seem to Dizon,
interrupted Morales continuity of service. Thus, Morales
did not hold office for the full term of 1 July 2004 to 30
June 2007.

2nd Issue: Dizon claims that the 2007-2010 term is Morales’


fifth term in office. NO. Morales occupied the position of
mayor of Mabalacat for the following periods:

1995-1998
1998-2001
2001-2004
2004-2007.

However, because of his disqualification, Morales was not


the duly elected mayor for the 2004-2007 term. Neither did
Morales hold the position of mayor of Mabalacat for the full
term. Morales cannot be deemed to have served the full
term of 2004-2007 because he was ordered to vacate his
post before the expiration of the term. Morales’ occupancy
of the position of mayor of Mabalacat from 2004-2007
cannot be counted as a term for purposes of computing
the three-term limit. Indeed, the period from 17 May 2007
to 30 June 2007 served as a gap for purposes of the
three-term limit rule. Thus, the present 1 July 2007 to 30
June 2010 term is effectively Morales’ first term for
purposes of the three-term limit rule.