The Court of Appeals has said the reelection of a local government official facing charges of misconduct in his previous term can no longer be considered as a condonation of the act.
In a 14-page decision dated Dec. 13, 2019 the appellate court, through Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, dismissed a petition filed by Guagua, Pampanga Mayor Dante D. Torres questioning the charges filed against him before the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.
The so-called Aguinaldo doctrine instructs that a reelected public official could not be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a previous term since his reelection to office operated as a condonation of the officer’s previous misconduct.
“This doctrine was already abandoned in the case of Carpio-Morales v. CA, which was promulgated [in] November 2015 and which attained finality on 12 April 2016,” the CA said, adding that when Torres was reelected again as municipal mayor in the 2016 elections, “the doctrine was already abandoned,” Associate Justices Ramon A. Cruz and Gabriel T. Robeniol concurred.
The case arose from a complaint filed by a certain Juan Pring alleging irregularities in the upgrade and rehabilitation of the Manuel P. Santiago Municipal Town Plaza, also known as the MPS Park.
The complainant said the project was overpriced and that no competitive public bidding was conducted for a sole contractor that was entertained.
Bidding was conducted a month before the completion of the project in June 2014 and was implemented without coordination with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, despite monuments of important personalities in the area.
Charges of technical malversation were eventually filed by the Ombudsman against the mayor for applying to the MPS Park P2.76 million in municipal funds originally earmarked for other projects.
A separate charge for simple misconduct was likewise filed by the Ombudsman and ordered his suspension from office without pay for three months, prompting the mayor to appeal his case.
Ruling against him, the CA said it found “no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the public respondent to warrant the issuance of the writ of certiorari.”
“Admittedly, petitioner realigned or reprogrammed the amount of P2.76 million for the MPS Park from the 20 percent DF [development fund] of the LGU [local government unit] Guagua for 2014, which fund was originally appropriated for other projects," the court said. PNA