To stop elective public officials from perpetuating themselves to power after completing the allowable three consecutive terms of office, Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure seeking to update the grounds for a recall election.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation Committee, has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1526 amending the provision on the power of recall contained in Republic Act No. 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,” she pointed out.
“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 said.
Under 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.
Note 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.
De Lima also proposes an amendment for LGC’s Section 75, 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 may be used to answer for all expenses incidental to recall elections.
De Lima, who is currently detained on trumped-up charges based on perjured testimonies of convicted criminals and fabricated evidence, was considered as one of the most prominent election lawyers in the country before she entered public service.
While in detention, she continues to perform her Senate duties by filing bills and resolutions. To date, she has filed 43 bills and 52 resolutions, with one bill already enacted as Republic Act No. 10923, three bills already passed on third reading, and with 12 resolutions already adopted.
She has also delivered three privilege speeches before the Senate plenary hall on controversial issues, especially to denounce the unabated spate of extrajudicial killings on the war on drugs, and the proliferation of fake news.