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EDGARDO M. AGUILAR vs. ELVIRA J. BENLOT, G.R. No. 232806, Jan.

21,
2019

Facts:

Petitioner was elected and served as Punong Barangay for 3 consecutive terms. On
the 2010 elections, he ran for Barangay Kawagad and was ranked 3rd. The persons
elected as Punong Barangay, 1st ranked and 2nd ranked Kagawads resigned after
taking their oaths. Hence, petitioner assumed the office of the Punong Barangay.

Defendant, claiming that the resignation of the Punong Barangay, 1 st ranked and
2nd ranked Kagawads was a ruse for the petitioner to circumvent the three-term
limit rule, filed a complaint for violation of RA 6713 against the petitioner.

Issue: Whether or not the three-term limit was violated

Held: Yes. Petitioner violated the three-term limit.

The Supreme Court ruled that assumption of office by operation of law should not
be counted for purposes of the three-term limit rule based on the fact that running
for an elective position presupposes voluntariness. To be counted as service for a
full term for purposes of determining term limits, the elective official must have
also been elected to the same position for the same number of times. Assumption
of office by operation of law is generally involuntary because the elective official
ran for a position different from that which he was subsequently called to serve.
Granting that the petitioner was able to serve a fourth term as Punong Barangay,
not by virtue of election, but by succession, the willful act of conspiring to
circumvent our laws indicate voluntariness. It is as if petitioner himself had run
for the position of Punong Barangay, instead of Barangay Kagawad.

NOTE: Although the three-term limit was violated, the petitioner was not held
administrative liable by virtue of the condonation doctrine.