Press Release
August 15, 2019

De Lima seeks to prevent elected officials from abusing term limit via recall polls

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure preventing elected public officials from using the power of recall elections to extend their expiring term of office beyond the allowable three consecutive terms as mandated by the Constitution.

De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 626 seeking to prevent public officials from entrenching themselves to power by amending the provision on the power of recall polls under Republic Act (RA) No. 7160, or the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991.

"LGC 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," she said.

"This is by way of a recall election where the local executive who already reached a three-term limit can 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 added.

Since no amendment to the 1987 Constitution has succeeded yet, which could reportedly lead to an extended term of office for lawmakers, De Lima feared that elective public officials might use the power of recall elections instead to abuse their term limits.

LGC provides registered voters the power to recall a local elective official for "loss of confidence" provided that no recall proceedings would take place within a year from the date of the local officials' assumption to office or one year immediately preceding a regular local election.

"A recall election can thus be considered as a circumvention of the term limits mandated by the Constitution," said De Lima, a former election lawyer before she entered public service in 2008.

To fully uphold the mandated three-term limit for local officials, De Lima's proposed measure prohibits three-term elected officials from running in a recall election for the same position during the term immediately following the end of their three terms.

Meanwhile, in the event of an allowable recall election as provided in the measure, De Lima proposed that line item appropriation for conduct and supervision of the recall process under the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) budget program category may be used to answer for all expenses incidental to the recall poll.

To maintain the sanctity of elections, De Lima also filed SB No. 778 seeking to allow the Comelec to boost its manpower and find suitable field offices separate from LGUs where they are based and SB No. 777 seeking to clarify and penalize premature campaigning to ensure an even playing field for all candidates during elections.

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