“365-day cycles”

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The turnout for the filling candidacies for the SK was disappointingly very low. Added to this, there was confusion as to the qualification of SK candidates. A few days ago, some SK candidates were asked to withdraw their certificates of candidacy because they are ineligible by reason of age. According to R.A. 10742, in order for a candidate to qualify to run for an SK elective position, he must be “at least eighteen (18) years but not more than twenty-four (24) years of age on the day of the elections”. But what does the phrase “not more than twenty four (24) years of age” mean? Some say that a person will only be considered to be “more than twenty four (24) years of age” if he celebrates his 25th birthday. This question was settled in Garvida vs. Sales (G.R. No. 124893, April 18, 1997).

Garvida vs. Sales

This case was decided under the governing law on the SK at that time. The governing law at present is R.A. 10742. For the May 06, 1996 SK elections, Lynette G. Garvida filed her candidacy for chairmanship of the SK in their barangay. At that time, candidates for the SK must be “at least fifteen (15) years but not more than twenty-one (21) years of age”. She was then twenty one years old and ten months. When she filed her registration as member of the Katipunan ng Kabataan, her application was denied by the Board of Election Tellers on the ground that she is already more than 21 years of age. She was eventually allowed to register and filed her candidacy. She eventually won the elections but upon petition of her opponent in the same position, the COMELEC en banc suspended her proclamation. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and one of the main issued raised is whether Garvida is eligible to run for the SK.

Not Eligible

The determination of the issue rests on the interpretation of the legal provision: “at least fifteen (15) years but not more than twenty-one (21) years of age”. The question seemed very trivial or even elementary but there really was a need to settle the matter once and for all. “One born on the first day of the year is consequently deemed to be one year old on the 365th day after his birth — the last day of the year. In computing years, the first year is reached after completing the first 365 days. After the first 365th day, the first day of the second 365-day cycle begins. On the 365th day of the second cycle, the person turns two years old. This cycle goes on and on in a lifetime. A person turns 21 years old on the 365th day of his 21st 365-day cycle. This means on his 21st birthday, he has completed the entire span of 21 365-day cycles. After this birthday, the 365-day cycle for his 22nd year begins. The day after the 365th day is the first day of the next 365-day cycle and he turns 22 years old on the 365th day. The phrase “not more than 21 years of age” means not over 21 years, not beyond 21 years. It means 21 365-day cycles. It does not mean 21 years and one or some days or a fraction of a year because that would be more than 21 365-day cycles. “Not more than 21 years old” is not equivalent to “less than 22 years old,” contrary to petitioner’s claims. The law does not state that the candidate be less than 22 years on Election Day.” So it is now clear that once a person celebrates his 24th birthday before Election Day, he is no longer qualified to run for any position in the SK.

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