By Mario Casayuran
The Senate electoral reforms and people’s participation committee sought to update the grounds for a recall election to stop elective officials from perpetuating themselves to power after completing the allowable three consecutive terms of office.
This came after detained Sen. Leila de Lima, committee chairwoman, filed Senate Bill (SB)1526 amending the provision on the power of recall contained in Republic Act 7160, or the 1991 Local Government Code (LGC).
“The Local Government Code provisions on the power of recall provided another way for local officials to immediately return to power after reaching the term limits provided in the Constitution,” de Lima said.
Through a recall election, a local executive who already reached a three-term limit could immediately run for the same office in a recall election, without barely a term having lapsed between his last term and the recall election where he is running as a candidate, she explained.
Under the LGC, registered voters are given the power to recall a local elective official due to loss of confidence, but no recall proceedings can take place within a year from the date of the local officials’ assumption to office or one year immediately preceding a regular local election.
The collection of signatures from supporters of a local official is the start of the recall process, and the petitioners can formally file the recall petition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) upon reaching a sufficient number of signatures.
“A recall election can thus be considered as a circumvention of the term limits mandated by the Constitution, especially if the official who already reached a three-term limit run for election and get his old post back,” De Lima said.
De Lima noted that under Article X Section 8 of the Constitution, the term of office of elected local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and that no person shall serve for more than three consecutive terms.
She proposed an amendment for Section 75 of the LGC to the effect that in the event of a recall election, line item appropriation for the conduct and supervision of recall election under Comelec’s budget program category might be used to answer for all expenses incidental to recall elections.