In the last election, we elected a new mayor. Recently, rumors about his incompetence and laziness circulated to the point that people wish to remove him from his office. May I know if it is possible to oust our mayor even before his term has ended?
Dear Mac Mac,
Based on your narration, the dissatisfaction of the people in your community is based on rumors of the alleged incompetence and laziness of the mayor. These rumors are not enough basis for filing an administrative case against your mayor. In an administrative case, the guilt or responsibility of the respondent must be proved by substantial evidence. There must be proof to support the allegations.
Nevertheless, it is possible to remove your mayor from office before the expiration of his term through recall. Recall refers to the removal of a public officer by the people before the end of his term of office. It is an incident of the sovereign power of the people and is implied in all governmental operations. It is frequently described as a fundamental right of the people in a representative democracy (Garcia vs. Comelec, 348 SCRA 100). Through recall, the people divest an elective public official of the right to continue holding his office. The subsequent vacancy in the office will then be filled in through a special election on recall.
In case of elective local officials, the power of recall is exercised by the registered voters of the local government unit (LGU) where the concerned official serves based on the people’s loss of confidence in him (Sec. 69, Republic Act [R.A.] No. 7160, as amended by R.A. No. 9244). The recall is initiated by filing a petition with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) supported by a sufficient number of the registered voters at the time of election of the local official sought to be recalled. The number of registered voters required to support the petition is set forth in Section 70 of the Local Government Code (LGC) and it varies depending on the voting population of the concerned LGU. For example, in LGUs with a voting population of not more than 20,000, the petition must be supported by least 25 percent of the registered voters. On the other hand, in LGUs with a voting population of over 300,000, the petition must be supported by at least ten percent or 45,000 voters, whichever is higher.
Upon filing of a petition for recall, the Comelec or its duly authorized representative shall then determine the sufficiency of the required number of signatures, and examine and verify the validity of the petition as well as the authenticity of the signatures contained therein. Thereafter, the Comelec shall accept candidates for the election of recall (Sec. 70(b), LGC). The recalled official shall automatically be considered as duly registered candidate on the election on recall (Sec. 71, LGC).
Note, however that an elective local official may only be subject to an election recall once during his term of office. Further, recall election may not be done one year from the date of the official’s assumption to office or one year immediately preceding a regular local election (Sec. 74, LGC). Thus, considering that the next election will be on May 9, 2016, the election on recall of your mayor must be done before May 9, 2015.
We hope that we were able to answer your query. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org