Case Digest: Mendoza v. Familara

G.R. No. 191017; November 15, 2011


This petition questions the constitutionality of Section 2[1] of Republic Act No. 9164 (entitled "An Act Providing for Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, amending RA No. 7160, as amended, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991"). As other barangay officials had done in previous cases, petitioner Constancio F. Mendoza (Mendoza) likewise questions the retroactive application of the three-consecutive term limit imposed on barangay elective officials beginning from the 1994 barangay elections.

Mendoza was a candidate for Barangay Captain of Barangay Balatasan, Oriental Mindoro in the 29 October 2007 Barangay Elections. As required by law, Mendoza filed a certificate of candidacy. Prior thereto, Mendoza had been elected as Barangay Captain of Barangay Balatasan for three (3) consecutive terms.

On 26 October 2007, respondent Senen C. Familara (Familara) filed a Petition to Disqualify Mendoza averring that Mendoza, under Section 2 of RA No. 9164, is ineligible to run again for Barangay Captain of Barangay Balatasan, having been elected and having served, in the same position for three (3) consecutive terms immediately prior to the 2007 Barangay Elections.


I. Whether or not Section 2 [1] of RA No. 9164 is constitutional
II. Whether or not Section 2 [1] of RA No. 9164 may be applied retroactively


In COMELEC v. Cruz settles, the Court ruled that the constitutionality of the three-consecutive term limit rule no retroactive application was made because the three-term limit has been there all along as early as the second barangay law (RA No. 6679) after the 1987 Constitution took effect; it was continued under the Local Government Code and can still be found in the current law. We find this obvious from a reading of the historical development of the law.

The first law that provided a term limitation for barangay officials was RA No. 6653 (1988); it imposed a two-consecutive term limit. After only six months, Congress, under RA No. 6679 (1988), changed the two-term limit by providing for a three-consecutive term limit. This consistent imposition of the term limit gives no hint of any equivocation in the congressional intent to provide a term limitation. Thereafter, RA No. 7160 - the LGC - followed, bringing with it the issue of whether it provided, as originally worded, for a three-term limit for barangay officials. We differ with the RTC analysis of this issue.

Section 43 is a provision under Title II of the LGC on Elective Officials. Title II is divided into several chapters dealing with a wide range of subject matters, all relating to local elective officials, as follows: a. Qualifications and Election (Chapter I); b. Vacancies and Succession (Chapter II); c. Disciplinary Actions (Chapter IV) and d. Recall (Chapter V). Title II likewise contains a chapter on Local Legislation (Chapter III).

These Title II provisions are intended to apply to all local elective officials, unless the contrary is clearly provided. A contrary application is provided with respect to the length of the term of office under Section 43(a); while it applies to all local elective officials, it does not apply to barangay officials whose length of term is specifically provided by Section 43(c). In contrast to this clear case of an exception to a general rule, the three-term limit under Section 43(b) does not contain any exception; it applies to all local elective officials who must perforce include barangay officials.

An alternative perspective is to view [Section] 43(a), (b) and (c) separately from one another as independently standing and self-contained provisions, except to the extent that they expressly relate to one another. Thus, [Section] 43(a) relates to the term of local elective officials, except barangay officials whose term of office is separately provided under Sec. 43(c). [Section] 43(b), by its express terms, relates to all local elective officials without any exception. Thus, the term limitation applies to all local elective officials without any exclusion or qualification.

All these inevitably lead to the conclusion that the challenged proviso has been there all along and does not simply retroact the application of the three-term limit to the barangay elections of 1994. Congress merely integrated the past statutory changes into a seamless whole by coming up with the challenged proviso.

With this conclusion, the respondents constitutional challenge to the proviso based on retroactivity must fail.