Supreme Court: Misconduct of local officials cannot be condoned with reelection

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The Supreme Court has clarified that the doctrine of condonation can no longer be used by elected public officials as a defense if they have been re-elected on or after April 12, 2016.

The condonation doctrine, also known as Aguinaldo doctrine, provides that a public official cannot be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a prior term since his re-election to office operates as a condonation of his past misconduct.

The latest SC ruling was contained in an En Banc decision (GR No. 237330, Madreo v. Bayron; GR No. 237579, Ombudsman vs Bayron, November 3, 2020), penned by Justice Edgardo L. Delos Santos, that denied for lack of merit the consolidated petitions and affirmed the Court of Appeals’ dismissal of administrative charges against a Lucilo R. Bayron, former mayor of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, and his son Karl Bayron.

Lucilo, who won as mayor in 2013, entered into a contract of services with his son, Karl Bayron, engaging him as Project Manager for Bantay Puerto-VIP Security Task Force, with a monthly compensation of P16,000 from July 2013 to December 2013. On the complaint of one Aldrin Madreo, both were found administratively liable and were meted the penalty of dismissal by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2016.

Lucilo won in the recall elections in 2015. During the May 2016 local elections, he was reelected as mayor.

In denying the petition of Madreo and the Office of the Ombudsman, the Court ruled that the abandonment of the Aguinaldo doctrine in Carpio-Morales was clear that the abandonment shall be applied prospectively from April 12, 2016.

The Court, however, stressed that the defense of condonation doctrine is no longer available if the official’s re-election happens on or after
12 April 2016. It held: “With the abandonment of the condonation doctrine in Carpio-Morales, which became final on 12 April 2016, any reelections of public officials on said date and onwards no longer have the effect of condoning their previous misconduct.”

The Court also held that the condonation docrine is applicable through a recall election. It said: “A recall elections presupposes the same collective resolution of the constituents to condone the alleged misconduct. This is no different from re-election by regular election.”

Thus, it ruled that the doctrine of condonation is applicable to Lucilo’s case by reason of his re-election during the 2015 recall elections. However, it stressed that the doctrine cannot be extended to Lucilo’s reelection in the May 2016 elections because the doctrine, by then, had already been abandoned and his reelection no longer had the effect of condoning his previous misconduct.

In November 2016, the Ombudsman rendered a decision finding the Bayrons administratively liable for serious dishonesty and grave misconduct and meted the penalty of dismissal. It also found probable cause to indict both for Falsification of Public Document since the contract declared that Karl “is not related within the fourth degree of consanguinity/affinity with the Hiring Authority.”

 

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