Fast Facts: The recall process

Michael Bueza

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Fast Facts: The recall process
See how voters can exercise their power to recall elected local officials once they have lost their confidence in them

MANILA, Philippines – The power to recall a local elective official due to loss of confidence shall be exercised by registered voters of the local government unit (LGU) where the official serves. Any provincial, city, municipal, or barangay official may be subjected to a recall.

No recall proceedings can take place within a year from the date of the local officials’ assumption of office and within a year before a regular local election. Since a term for local officials consists of 3 years, this limits the initiation of recall proceedings within their second year in office.

The recall process begins with the collection of signatures from supporters of the recall petition. Upon reaching a sufficient number of signatures, the petitioners should formally file the recall petition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The poll body would verify the signatures and, once the petition is determined as sufficient in form and substance, set a date for the recall election.

If the local official loses the election, he or she is ousted from office.

These are the required number of petitioners for a recall petition, according to the Local Government Code:

Voting Population in LGU Required Percentage/Number of Petitioners
Less than 20,000 At least 25%
20,000 – 74,999 At least 20%, but not less than 5,000
75,000 – 299,999 At least 15%, but not less than 15,000
More than 300,000 At least 10%, but not less than 45,000

There are additional restrictions set by the Local Government Code:

  • A local official may be subjected to a recall election only once during his term of office.
  • While the recall process is ongoing, the local official sought to be recalled cannot resign.

There was previously an option for a “preparatory recall assembly” to initiate the recall. It was composed of elected officials in the LGU concerned. A provincial recall assembly, for example, consists of all the mayors, vice mayors, and councilors in the province.

But the preparatory recall assembly was discontinued in 2004, following amendments in the Local Government Code through Republic Act 9244.

Past petitions, election

From 2010 to 2012, there were 38 recall petitions filed before the Comelec, but not one resulted in an actual recall election.

These include recall petitions against Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan and Vice Governor Stephen James Tan in 2010, and Palawan Governor Abraham Khalil Mitra in 2011.

Nine mayors, 7 vice mayors, 18 city and municipal councilors, and a barangay captain were sought to be recalled during that period.

Year Local Gov’t Unit Official(s) Sought to be Recalled
2010 Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan
Vice Governor Stephen James Tan
2011 Bani, Pangasinan Mayor Marcelo Navarro
Vice Mayor Filipina Rivera
Councilors Rosalinda Acenas, Ruben Ampler, Tamerlane Olores, and Cothera Gwen Yamamoto
San Manuel, Tarlac Vice Mayor Emmalyn Rillera
Councilor Melvin Malazo
Palawan Governor Abraham Kahlil Mitra
Rizal, Palawan Mayor Nicolas Montaño, Sr.
Roxas, Palawan Mayor Ma. Angela Sabando
Pasacao, Camarines Sur Mayor Asuncion Arceño
Councilor Niño Tayco
Cortes, Bohol Vice Mayor Danilo Montero
Danao City, Cebu Mayor Ramon Durano Jr
Vice Mayor Ramon Durano III
Councilors Marilou Camaongay-Flores, Jorge John Cane, Cynthia Duterte, Jovilina Enriquez, Alejandro Lawas, Miguel Antonio Magpale, Carmen Remedios Meca, Roland Reyes, and Jose Thaddeus Roble Jr
Samboan, Cebu Vice Mayor Rogelio Capa
Councilor Jeffrey Catipay
Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao Mayor Yacob Lumenda Ampatuan
Simunul, Tawi-Tawi Mayor Nazif Ahmas Bayo Abdurrahman
2012 Gapan City, Nueva Ecija Mayor Christian Tinio
Vice Mayor Rodel Matias 
Councilors Marcelino Alvarez and Eliser Padiernos
Dumaran, Palawan Mayor Medwin Pablico
El Nido, Palawan Vice Mayor Edgardo Trinidad
Brgy. Kemdeng, San Vicente, Palawan Barangay Captain Daniel Latube

These petitions are now deemed cancelled because of the 2013 midterm elections.

As of September 2014, there are 5 pending recall petitions before the Comelec.

Meanwhile, the last recall election in the country took place more than a decade ago, on April 26, 2003, in Agoo, La Union. The municipal recall assembly sought to recall Vice Mayor Ramil Lopez for “wanton neglect of duties.”

Councilor Sheila Milo ran against Lopez and defeated him in that election–

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.