EN BANC

[G.R. No. 154512. November 12, 2002]

VICTORINO DENNIS M. SOCRATES, Mayor of Puerto Princesa City, petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THE PREPARATORY RECALL ASSEMBLY (PRA) of Puerto Princesa City, PRA Interim Chairman Punong Bgy. MARK DAVID HAGEDORN, PRA Interim Secretary Punong Bgy. BENJAMIN JARILLA, PRA Chairman and Presiding Officer Punong Bgy. EARL S. BUENVIAJE and PRA Secretary Punong Bgy. CARLOS ABALLA, JR. respondents.

[G.R. No. 154683. November 12, 2002]

VICENTE S. SANDOVAL, JR., petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

[G.R. Nos. 155083-84. November 12, 2002]

MA. FLORES P. ADOVO, MERCY E. GILO and BIENVENIDO OLLAVE, SR., petitioners, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and EDWARD S. HAGEDORN, respondents.

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before us are consolidated petitions for certiorari[1] seeking the reversal of the resolutions issued by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC for brevity) in relation to the recall election for mayor of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

The Antecedents

On July 2, 2002, 312 out of 528 members of the then incumbent barangay officials of the Puerto Princesa convened themselves into a Preparatory Recall Assembly (PRA for brevity) at the Gymnasium of Barangay San Jose from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The PRA was convened to initiate the recall[2] of Victorino Dennis M. Socrates (Socrates for brevity) who assumed office as Puerto Princesas mayor on June 30, 2001. The members of the PRA designated Mark David M. Hagedorn, president of the Association of Barangay Captains, as interim chair of the PRA.

On the same date, the PRA passed Resolution No. 01-02 (Recall Resolution for brevity) which declared its loss of confidence in Socrates and called for his recall. The PRA requested the COMELEC to schedule the recall election for mayor within 30 days from receipt of the Recall Resolution.

On July 16, 2002, Socrates filed with the COMELEC a petition, docketed as E.M. No. 02-010 (RC), to nullify and deny due course to the Recall Resolution.

On August 14, 2002, the COMELEC en banc[3] promulgated a resolution dismissing for lack of merit Socrates petition. The COMELEC gave due course to the Recall Resolution and scheduled the recall election on September 7, 2002.

On August 21, 2002, the COMELEC en banc promulgated Resolution No. 5673 prescribing the calendar of activities and periods of certain prohibited acts in connection with the recall election. The COMELEC fixed the campaign period from August 27, 2002 to September 5, 2002 or a period of 10 days.

On August 23, 2002, Edward M. Hagedorn (Hagedorn for brevity) filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor in the recall election.

On August 17, 2002, Ma. Flores F. Adovo (Adovo for brevity) and Merly E. Gilo (Gilo for brevity) filed a petition before the COMELEC, docketed as SPA No. 02-492, to disqualify Hagedorn from running in the recall election and to cancel his certificate of candidacy. On August 30, 2002, a certain Bienvenido Ollave, Sr. (Ollave for brevity) filed a petition-in-intervention in SPA No. 02-492 also seeking to disqualify Hagedorn. On the same date, a certain Genaro V. Manaay filed another petition, docketed as SPA No. 02-539, against Hagedorn alleging substantially the same facts and involving the same issues. The petitions were all anchored on the ground that Hagedorn is disqualified from running for a fourth consecutive term, having been elected and having served as mayor of the city for three (3) consecutive full terms immediately prior to the instant recall election for the same post. Subsequently, SPA Nos. 02-492 and 02-539 were consolidated.

In a resolution promulgated on September 20, 2002, the COMELECs First Division[4] dismissed for lack of merit SPA Nos. 02-492 and 02-539. The COMELEC declared Hagedorn qualified to run in the recall election. The COMELEC also reset the recall election from September 7, 2002 to September 24, 2002.

On September 23, 2002, the COMELEC en banc promulgated a resolution denying the motion for reconsideration of Adovo and Gilo. The COMELEC affirmed the resolution declaring Hagedorn qualified to run in the recall election.

Hence, the instant consolidated petitions.

G.R. No. 154512

Petitioner Socrates seeks to nullify the COMELEC en banc resolution dated August 14, 2002 in E.M. No. 02-010 (RC) which gave due course to the Recall Resolution and scheduled the recall election on September 7, 2002.

Socrates alleges that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in upholding the Recall Resolution. Socrates cites the following circumstances as legal infirmities attending the convening of the PRA and its issuance of the Recall Resolution: (1) not all members of the PRA were notified of the meeting to adopt the resolution; (2) the proof of service of notice was palpably and legally deficient; (3) the members of the PRA were themselves seeking a new electoral mandate from their respective constituents; (4) the adoption of the resolution was exercised with grave abuse of authority; and (5) the PRA proceedings were conducted in a manner that violated his and the publics constitutional right to information.

G.R. No. 154683

Petitioner Vicente S. Sandoval, Jr. seeks to annul COMELEC Resolution No. 5673 dated August 21, 2002 insofar as it fixed the recall election on September 7, 2002, giving the candidates only a ten-day campaign period. He prayed that the COMELEC be enjoined from holding the recall election on September 7, 2002 and that a new date be fixed giving the candidates at least an additional 15 days to campaign.

In a resolution dated September 3, 2002, the Court en banc enjoined the COMELEC from implementing Resolution No. 5673 insofar as it fixed the date of the recall election on September 7, 2002. The Court directed the COMELEC to give the candidates an additional fifteen 15 days from September 7, 2002 within which to campaign.

Accordingly, on September 9, 2002, the COMELEC en banc issued Resolution No. 5708 giving the candidates an additional 15 days from September 7, 2002 within which to campaign. Thus, the COMELEC reset the recall election to September 24, 2002.

G.R. Nos. 155083-84

Petitioners Adovo, Gilo and Ollave assail the COMELECs resolutions dated September 20, 2002 and September 23, 2002 in SPA Nos. 02-492 and 02-539 declaring Hagedorn qualified to run for mayor in the recall election. They likewise prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to enjoin the proclamation of the winning candidate in the recall election.

Petitioners argue that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in upholding Hagedorns qualification to run for mayor in the recall election despite the constitutional and statutory prohibitions against a fourth consecutive term for elective local officials.

In a resolution dated September 24, 2002, the Court ordered the COMELEC to desist from proclaiming any winning candidate in the recall election until further orders from the Court. Petitioners were required to post a P20,000 bond.

On September 27, 2002, Socrates filed a motion for leave to file an attached petition for intervention seeking the same reliefs as those sought by Adovo, Gilo and Ollave.

In the meantime, Hagedorn garnered the highest number of votes in the recall election with 20,238 votes. Rival candidates Socrates and Sandoval obtained 17,220 votes and 13,241 votes, respectively.

Hagedorn filed motions to lift the order restraining the COMELEC from proclaiming the winning candidate and to allow him to assume office to give effect to the will of the electorate.

On October 1, 2002, the Court granted Socrates motion for leave to file a petition for intervention.

The Issues

The issues for resolution of the Court are:

1. In G.R. No. 154512, whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in giving due course to the Recall Resolution and scheduling the recall election for mayor of Puerto Princesa.

2. In G.R. Nos.155083-84, whether Hagedorn is qualified to run for mayor in the recall election of Puerto Princesa on September 24, 2002.

In G.R. No. 154683, the issue of whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in fixing a campaign period of only 10 days has become moot. Our Resolution of September 3, 2002 and COMELEC Resolution No. 5708 granted an additional 15 days for the campaign period as prayed for by petitioner.

First Issue: Validity of the Recall Resolution.

Petitioner Socrates argues that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in upholding the Recall Resolution despite the absence of notice to 130 PRA members and the defective service of notice to other PRA members. The COMELEC, however, found that

On various dates, in the month of June 2002, the proponents for the Recall of incumbent City Mayor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates sent notices of the convening of the PRA to the members thereof pursuant to Section 70 of the Local Government Code. Copies of the said notice are in Volumes I and II entitled Notices to PRA. Likewise, Proof of Service for each of the said notices were attached to the Petition and marked as Annex G of Volumes II and III of the Petition.

Notices were likewise posted in conspicuous places particularly at the Barangay Hall. Photos establishing the same were attached to the Petition and marked as Annex H. The proponents likewise utilized the broadcast mass media in the dissemination of the convening of the PRA.

Notices of the convening of the Puerto Princesa PRA were also sent to the following: [a list of 25 names of provincial elective officials, print and broadcast media practitioners, PNP officials, COMELEC city, regional and national officials, and DILG officials].

x x x

The City Election Officer of Puerto Princesa City in her Certification dated 10 July 2002 certified that upon a thorough and careful verification of the signatures appearing in PRA Resolution 01-02, x x x the majority of all members of the PRA concerned approved said resolution. She likewise certified that not a single member/signatory of the PRA complained or objected as to the veracity and authenticity of their signatures.

The Provincial Election Supervisor of Palawan, Atty. Urbano Arlando, in his Indorsement dated 10 July 2002, stated, upon proper review, all documents submitted are found in order.

The Acting Director IV, Region IV, in his study dated 30 July 2002 submitted the following recommendations:

This Office, after evaluating the documents filed, finds the instant Petition sufficient in form and substance. That the PRA was validly constituted and that the majority of all members thereof approved Resolution No. 01-02 calling for the recall of Mayor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates.

x x x .

This Court is bound by the findings of fact of the COMELEC on matters within the competence and expertise of the COMELEC, unless the findings are patently erroneous. In Malonzo v. COMELEC,[5] which also dealt with alleged defective service of notice to PRA members, we ruled that

Needless to state, the issue of propriety of the notices sent to the PRA members is factual in nature, and the determination of the same is therefore a function of the COMELEC. In the absence of patent error, or serious inconsistencies in the findings, the Court should not disturb the same. The factual findings of the COMELEC, based on its own assessments and duly supported by gathered evidence, are conclusive upon the court, more so, in the absence of a substantiated attack on the validity of the same.

In the instant case, we do not find any valid reason to hold that the COMELECs findings of fact are patently erroneous.

Socrates also claims that the PRA members had no authority to adopt the Recall Resolution on July 2, 2002 because a majority of PRA members were seeking a new electoral mandate in the barangay elections scheduled on July 15, 2002. This argument deserves scant consideration considering that when the PRA members adopted the Recall Resolution their terms of office had not yet expired. They were all de jure sangguniang barangay members with no legal disqualification to participate in the recall assembly under Section 70 of the Local Government Code.

Socrates bewails that the manner private respondents conducted the PRA proceedings violated his constitutional right to information on matters of public concern. Socrates, however, admits receiving notice of the PRA meeting and of even sending his representative and counsel who were present during the entire PRA proceedings. Proponents of the recall election submitted to the COMELEC the Recall Resolution, minutes of the PRA proceedings, the journal of the PRA assembly, attendance sheets, notices sent to PRA members, and authenticated master list of barangay officials in Puerto Princesa. Socrates had the right to examine and copy all these public records in the official custody of the COMELEC. Socrates, however, does not claim that the COMELEC denied him this right. There is no legal basis in Socrates claim that respondents violated his constitutional right to information on matters of public concern.

Thus, we rule that the COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in upholding the validity of the Recall Resolution and in scheduling the recall election on September 24, 2002.

Second Issue: Hagedorns qualification to run for mayor

in the recall election of September 24, 2002.

The three-term limit rule for elective local officials is found in Section 8, Article X of the Constitution, which states:

Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary 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.

This three-term limit rule is reiterated in Section 43 (b) of RA No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, which provides:

Section 43. Term of Office. (a) x x x

(b) No local elective official shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms in the same position. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official was elected.

These constitutional and statutory provisions have two parts. The first part provides that an elective local official cannot serve for more than three consecutive terms. The clear intent is that only consecutive terms count in determining the three-term limit rule. The second part states that voluntary renunciation of office for any length of time does not interrupt the continuity of service. The clear intent is that involuntary severance from office for any length of time interrupts continuity of service and prevents the service before and after the interruption from being joined together to form a continuous service or consecutive terms.

After three consecutive terms, an elective local official cannot seek immediate reelection for a fourth term. The prohibited election refers to the next regular election for the same office following the end of the third consecutive term. Any subsequent election, like a recall election, is no longer covered by the prohibition for two reasons. First, a subsequent election like a recall election is no longer an immediate reelection after three consecutive terms. Second, the intervening period constitutes an involuntary interruption in the continuity of service.

When the framers of the Constitution debated on the term limit of elective local officials, the question asked was whether there would be no further election after three terms, or whether there would be no immediate reelection after three terms. This is clear from the following deliberations of the Constitutional Commission:

THE PRESIDENT: The Acting Floor Leader is recognized.

MR. ROMULO:[6] We are now ready to discuss the two issues, as indicated on the blackboard, and these are Alternative No. I where there is no further election after a total of three terms and Alternative No. 2 where there is no immediate reelection after three successive terms.[7]

The Journal of the Constitutional Commission reports the following manifestation on the term of elective local officials:

MANIFESTATION OF MR. ROMULO

Upon resumption of session, Mr. Romulo manifested that the Body would proceed to the consideration of two issues on the term of Representatives and local officials, namely: 1) Alternative No. 1 (no further reelection after a total of three terms), and 2) Alternative No. 2 (no immediate reelection after three successive terms).[8]

The framers of the Constitution used the same no immediate reelection question in voting for the term limits of Senators[9] and Representatives of the House.[10]

Clearly, what the Constitution prohibits is an immediate reelection for a fourth term following three consecutive terms. The Constitution, however, does not prohibit a subsequent reelection for a fourth term as long as the reelection is not immediately after the end of the third consecutive term. A recall election mid-way in the term following the third consecutive term is a subsequent election but not an immediate reelection after the third term.

Neither does the Constitution prohibit one barred from seeking immediate reelection to run in any other subsequent election involving the same term of office. What the Constitution prohibits is a consecutive fourth term. The debates in the Constitutional Commission evidently show that the prohibited election referred to by the framers of the Constitution is the immediate reelection after the third term, not any other subsequent election.

If the prohibition on elective local officials is applied to any election within the three-year full term following the three-term limit, then Senators should also be prohibited from running in any election within the six-year full term following their two-term limit. The constitutional provision on the term limit of Senators is worded exactly like the term limit of elective local officials, thus:

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 in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.[11]

In the debates on the term limit of Senators, the following exchange in the Constitutional Convention is instructive:

GASCON:[12] I would like to ask a question with regard to the issue after the second term. We will allow the Senator to rest for a period of time before he can run again?

DAVIDE:[13] That is correct.

GASCON: And the question that we left behind before - if the Gentleman will remember - was: How long will that period of rest be? Will it be one election which is three years or one term which is six years?

DAVIDE: If the Gentleman will remember, Commissioner Rodrigo expressed the view that during the election following the expiration of the first 12 years, whether such election will be on the third or on the sixth year thereafter, this particular member of the Senate can run. So, it is not really a period of hibernation for six years. That was the Committees stand.

GASCON: So, effectively, the period of rest would be three years at the least.[14] (Emphasis supplied)

The framers of the Constitution thus clarified that a Senator can run after only three years[15] following his completion of two terms. The framers expressly acknowledged that the prohibited election refers only to the immediate reelection, and not to any subsequent election, during the six-year period following the two term limit. The framers of the Constitution did not intend the period of rest of an elective official who has reached his term limit to be the full extent of the succeeding term.

In the case of Hagedorn, his candidacy in the recall election on September 24, 2002 is not an immediate reelection after his third consecutive term which ended on June 30, 2001. The immediate reelection that the Constitution barred Hagedorn from seeking referred to the regular elections in 2001. Hagedorn did not seek reelection in the 2001 elections.

Hagedorn was elected for three consecutive terms in the 1992, 1995 and 1998 elections and served in full his three consecutive terms as mayor of Puerto Princesa. Under the Constitution and the Local Government Code, Hagedorn could no longer run for mayor in the 2001 elections. The Constitution and the Local Government Code disqualified Hagedorn, who had reached the maximum three-term limit, from running for a fourth consecutive term as mayor. Thus, Hagedorn did not run for mayor in the 2001 elections.[16] Socrates ran and won as mayor of Puerto Princesa in the 2001 elections. After Hagedorn ceased to be mayor on June 30, 2001, he became a private citizen until the recall election of September 24, 2002 when he won by 3,018 votes over his closest opponent, Socrates.

From June 30, 2001 until the recall election on September 24, 2002, the mayor of Puerto Princesa was Socrates. During the same period, Hagedorn was simply a private citizen. This period is clearly an interruption in the continuity of Hagedorns service as mayor, not because of his voluntary renunciation, but because of a legal prohibition. Hagedorns three consecutive terms ended on June 30, 2001. Hagedorns new recall term from September 24, 2002 to June 30, 2004 is not a seamless continuation of his previous three consecutive terms as mayor. One cannot stitch together Hagedorns previous three-terms with his new recall term to make the recall term a fourth consecutive term because factually it is not. An involuntary interruption occurred from June 30, 2001 to September 24, 2002 which broke the continuity or consecutive character of Hagedorns service as mayor.

In Lonzanida v. Comelec,[17] the Court had occasion to explain interruption of continuity of service in this manner:

x x x The second sentence of the constitutional provision under scrutiny states, Voluntary renunciation of office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which he was elected. The clear intent of the framers of the constitution to bar any attempt to circumvent the three-term limit by a voluntary renunciation of office and at the same time respect the peoples choice and grant their elected official full service of a term is evident in this provision. Voluntary renunciation of a term does not cancel the renounced term in the computation of the three-term limit; conversely, 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. x x x. (Emphasis supplied)

In Hagedorns case, the nearly 15-month period he was out of office, although short of a full term of three years, constituted an interruption in the continuity of his service as mayor. The Constitution does not require the interruption or hiatus to be a full term of three years. The clear intent is that interruption for any length of time, as long as the cause is involuntary, is sufficient to break an elective local officials continuity of service.

In the recent case of Adormeo v. Comelec and Talaga,[18] a unanimous Court reiterated the rule that an interruption consisting of a portion of a term of office breaks the continuity of service of an elective local official. In Adormeo, Ramon Y. Talaga, Jr. had served two consecutive full terms as mayor of Lucena City. In his third bid for election as mayor in 1998, Talaga lost to Bernard G. Tagarao. However, in the recall election of May 12, 2000, Talaga won and served the unexpired term of Tagarao from May 12, 2000 to June 30, 2001. When Talaga ran again for mayor in the 2001 elections, Raymundo Adormeo, the other candidate for mayor, petitioned for Talagas disqualification on the ground that Talaga had already served three consecutive terms as mayor.

Thus, the issue in Adormeo was whether Talagas recall term was a continuation of his previous two terms so that he was deemed to have already served three consecutive terms as mayor. The Court ruled that Talaga was qualified to run in the 2001 elections, stating that the period from June 30, 1998 to May 12, 2000 when Talaga was out of office interrupted the continuity of his service as mayor. Talagas recall term as mayor was not consecutive to his previous two terms because of this interruption, there having been a break of almost two years during which time Tagarao was the mayor.

We held in Adormeo that the period an elective local official is out of office interrupts the continuity of his service and prevents his recall term from being stitched together as a seamless continuation of his previous two consecutive terms. In the instant case, we likewise hold that the nearly 15 months Hagedorn was out of office interrupted his continuity of service and prevents his recall term from being stitched together as a seamless continuation of his previous three consecutive terms. The only difference between Adormeo and the instant case is the time of the interruption. In Adormeo, the interruption occurred after the first two consecutive terms. In the instant case, the interruption happened after the first three consecutive terms. In both cases, the respondents were seeking election for a fourth term.

In Adormeo, the recall term of Talaga began only from the date he assumed office after winning the recall election. Talagas recall term did not retroact to include the tenure in office of his predecessor. If Talagas recall term was made to so retroact, then he would have been disqualified to run in the 2001 elections because he would already have served three consecutive terms prior to the 2001 elections. One who wins and serves a recall term does not serve the full term of his predecessor but only the unexpired term. The period of time prior to the recall term, when another elective official holds office, constitutes an interruption in continuity of service. Clearly, Adormeo established the rule that the winner in the recall election cannot be charged or credited with the full term of three years for purposes of counting the consecutiveness of an elective officials terms in office.

In the same manner, Hagedorns recall term does not retroact to include the tenure in office of Socrates. Hagedorn can only be disqualified to run in the September 24, 2002 recall election if the recall term is made to retroact to June 30, 2001, for only then can the recall term constitute a fourth consecutive term. But to consider Hagedorns recall term as a full term of three years, retroacting to June 30, 2001, despite the fact that he won his recall term only last September 24, 2002, is to ignore reality. This Court cannot declare as consecutive or successive terms of office which historically and factually are not.

Worse, to make Hagedorns recall term retroact to June 30, 2001 creates a legal fiction that unduly curtails the freedom of the people to choose their leaders through popular elections. The concept of term limits is in derogation of the sovereign will of the people to elect the leaders of their own choosing. Term limits must be construed strictly to give the fullest possible effect to the sovereign will of the people. As this Court aptly stated in Borja, Jr. v. Comelec:

Thus, a consideration of the historical background of Art. X, 8 of the Constitution reveals that the members of the Constitutional Commission were as much concerned with preserving the freedom of choice of the people as they were with preventing the monopolization of political power. Indeed, they rejected a proposal put forth by Commissioner Edmundo F. Garcia that after serving three consecutive terms or nine years there should be no further reelection for local and legislative officials. Instead, they adopted the alternative proposal of Commissioner Christian Monsod that such officials be simply barred from running for the same position in the succeeding election following the expiration of the third consecutive term. Monsod warned against prescreening candidates [from] whom the people will choose as a result of the proposed absolute disqualification, considering that the draft constitution contained provisions recognizing people's power.[19] (Emphasis supplied)

A necessary consequence of the interruption of continuity of service is the start of a new term following the interruption. An official elected in recall election serves the unexpired term of the recalled official. This unexpired term is in itself one term for purposes of counting the three-term limit. This is clear from the following discussion in the Constitutional Commission:

SUAREZ:[20] For example, a special election is called for a Senator, and the Senator newly elected would have to serve the unexpired portion of the term. Would that mean that serving the unexpired portion of the term is already considered one term? So, half a term, which is actually the correct statement, plus one term would disqualify the Senator concerned from running? Is that the meaning of this provision on disqualification, Madam President?

DAVIDE: Yes, because we speak of term, and if there is a special election, he will serve only for the unexpired portion of that particular term plus one more term for the Senator and two more terms for the Members of the Lower House.[21]

Although the discussion referred to special elections for Senators and Representatives of the House, the same principle applies to a recall election of local officials. Otherwise, an elective local official who serves a recall term can serve for more than nine consecutive years comprising of the recall term plus the regular three full terms. A local official who serves a recall term should know that the recall term is in itself one term although less than three years. This is the inherent limitation he takes by running and winning in the recall election.

In summary, we hold that Hagedorn is qualified to run in the September 24, 2002 recall election for mayor of Puerto Princesa because:

1. Hagedorn is not running for immediate reelection following his three consecutive terms as mayor which ended on June 30, 2001;

2. Hagedorns continuity of service as mayor was involuntarily interrupted from June 30, 2001 to September 24, 2002 during which time he was a private citizen;

3. Hagedorns recall term from September 24, 2002 to June 30, 2004 cannot be made to retroact to June 30, 2001 to make a fourth consecutive term because factually the recall term is not a fourth consecutive term; and

4. Term limits should be construed strictly to give the fullest possible effect to the right of the electorate to choose their leaders.

WHEREFORE, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 154512, 154683 and 155083-84 are DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued by this Court on September 24, 2002 enjoining the proclamation of the winning candidate for mayor of Puerto Princesa in the recall election of September 24, 2002 is lifted. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio-Morales, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.

Davide, Jr., C.J., see concurring and dissenting opinion.

Puno, J., see concurring opinion.

Vitug, J., in the result.

Mendoza, J., in the result, without to the filing of separate opinion.

Austria-Martinez, J., on leave.

Corona, J., no part - prior consultation.

Azcuna, J., joins the separate opinion of C.J. Davide.



[1] Filed under Rule 65 in relation to Rule 64 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure with prayers for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining orders.

[2] Pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, Chapter 5, Sections 69 to 75.

[3] Composed of Benjamin S. Abalos, Sr. as Chairman with Commissioners Luzviminda G. Tancangco, Rufino S.B. Javier, Ralph C. Lantion, Mehol K. Sadain, Resurreccion Z. Borra and Florentino A. Tuason, Jr.

[4] With Mehol K. Sadain as Presiding Commissioner and Luzviminda G. Tancangco and Resurreccion Z. Borra as Commissioners.

[5] 269 SCRA 380 (1997).

[6] Ricardo J. Romulo, Commissioner of the 1986 Constitutional Convention.

[7] Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. 2, p. 236.

[8] Journal of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. I, p. 420.

[9] MR. ROMULO: Madam President, we are now ready to vote on the question of the Senators, and the schemes are as follows: The first scheme is, no further election after two terms; the second scheme is, no immediate reelection after two successive terms. Madam President, inasmuch as the principles applicable here are the same as those for the House of Representatives, I move that we go directly to the voting and forego any further discussions.

THE PRESIDENT: Please distribute the ballots for this particular item for Senators. Are we ready now? The Secretary-General will please count the ballots.

COUNTING OF BALLOTS

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL: We have 43 ballots here, Madam President. We shall now begin to count.

THE PRESIDENT: Please proceed.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL, reading:

Scheme No. I /////-/////-//

Scheme No. II /////-/////-/////-/////-/////-/////-//

THE PRESIDENT: The results show 12 votes for Scheme No. I and 32 votes for Scheme No. II; Scheme No. II is approved. (Emphasis supplied) Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. 2, pp. 244-245.

[10] MR. GASCON: Is this voting just for Congressmen?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

The Secretary-General will now please proceed to count the votes.

COUNTING OF BALLOTS

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL: Madam President, we have here 43 ballots cast. We will now start the counting.

Alternative No. 1 no further election after a total of three terms: /////-/////-/////-//

Alternative No. 2 no immediate reelection after three successive terms: /////-/////-/////-/////-/////-/

THE PRESIDENT: The results show 17 votes for Alternative No. I and 26 votes for Alternative No. 2; Alternative No. 2 is approved. (Emphasis supplied) Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. 2, pp. 243-244.

[11] Second paragraph of Section 4, Article VI of the Constitution.

[12] Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon, Commissioner of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.

[13] Hilario G. Davide, Jr., Commissioner of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

[14] Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II, p. 590.

[15] Bernas, The Intent of the 1986 Constitution Writers, p. 341 (1995).

[16] Hagedorn instead ran for Governor of Palawan in the 2001 elections but lost.

[17] 311 SCRA 602 (1999).

[18] G.R. No. 147927, February 4, 2002.

[19] 295 SCRA 157 (1998).

[20] Jose E. Suarez, Commissioner of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.

[21] Record of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. II, p. 592.