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Simplifying the Aguinaldo Doctrine or the

Doctrine of Condonation
Of late, the Aguinaldo Doctrine or the Doctrine of Condonation is put in the spotlight. Lawyers of
Makati Mayor Junjun Binay have invoked this Doctrine. Acting Solicitor General Florin Hilbay has asked the
highest tribunal to take another look at this Doctrine.
Even Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales wants the Supreme Court to revisit the Doctrine. Under
the Aguinaldo Doctrine, reelection operates as a condonation by the electorate of the misconduct
committed by an elective official during his previous term.
This is my humble attempt to discuss the various situations involving the application and nonapplication of Aguinaldo Doctrine. I will reduce the same in simplest terms for easy understanding.
a. Reelection has the effect of voters forgiving the public officials faults or misconduct committed in the
previous term. Thus, reelection extinguishes the administrative liability of the public official (Aguinaldo vs.
Santos, G.R. No. 94115 August 21, 1992).
b. The Doctrine is not applicable to pending criminal cases of the public officials for acts they committed in
the previous term (Salalima vs. Guingona, G.R. Nos. 117589-92 May 22, 1996). Reelection of a public
official does not bar prosecution for crimes committed by him prior thereto (Olivares vs. Judge Villaluz, 156
Phil. 137). Note that Reelection is not among the modes of extinguishing criminal liability under the
Revised Penal Code.
c. The Doctrine does not apply to a public official reappointed to his position. Appointment does not
express the sovereign will of the people (CSC vs. Sojor, G.R. No. 168766, May 22, 2008). Election or
reelection expresses the sovereign will of the people. Under the principle of vox populi est suprema lex, the
re-election of a public official supersedes a pending administrative case (ibid.).
d. The Doctrine does not apply to a public official who held an appointive position prior to his election.
There is no reelection here (Office of the Ombudsman vs. Torres, G.R. No. 168309, January 29, 2008).
e. The Doctrine does not apply to a public official elected to higher or lower position. Jurisprudence is
explicit that the Doctrine applies only to reelection (Opinion of Ombudsman Morales in her letter dated
March 09, 2012).
f. The Doctrine applies even if the administrative complaint was not filed before the reelection of the public
official. The Doctrine applies as long as the wrongdoing that gave rise to the public officials culpability was
committed prior to the date of reelection (Salalima, supra).
g. The Doctrine applies if the case against the official was already pending when he filed his Certificate of
Candidacy for his reelection bid (Salalima, supra). The Doctrine applies even if the administrative
complaint against the public official for acts committed during his first term was filed only a year after he
was reelected (Pascual vs. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija, 106 Phil. 466). For the Doctrine to apply, the
precise timing or period of filing of the administrative complaint is immaterial as long as the wrongdoing
that gave rise to the public officials culpability was committed prior to the date of reelection (Salumbides
vs. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 180917, April 23, 2010).
The ruling of the Supreme Court in Garcia vs. Mojica, G.R. No. 139043, September 10, 1999,
appears to be an important jurisprudential pronouncement since the Doctrine applies even where the
effects of the act complained of are still evident during the subsequent term of the reelected official.
For example, the provincial governor signed the (controversial) contract during his previous term but
the implementation of the same shall be had on the subsequent term. In this scenario and applying the
Garcia ruling, the Doctrine still applies as long as the wrongdoing or the act complained of that gave rise to
the public officials culpability was committed prior to the date of his reelection. As the Supreme Court said,
the implementation of the contract is merely an incident of its execution.
Let us wait how the Supreme Court will rule on the Binays case taking into consideration the loud
clamor to revisit the Doctrine
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Doctrine of Condonation explained


EVERY now and then, we excuse ourselves from discussing insurance matters to tackle issues relating to national
concerns. Besides, both subjects serve the interest of the public-at-large. Today, we tackle the Doctrine of
Condonation in administrative law.

This doctrine has recently been brought to the fore when Makati Mayor Junjun Binay used it as an
argument to secure an injunction order from the Court of Appeals against the preventive suspension order
issued by the Ombudsman.
We shall explain this condonation by reelection as it is established in jurisprudence, with no political
leaning or bias.
Pursuant to the 1992 case of Aguinaldo v Santos, a public official cannot be removed for misconduct
committed during a prior or previous term; his reelection operates as a condonation of the officers previous
misconduct, reiterated in Malinao v Reyes, 1996 (see Provincial Board of Zamboanga del Norte v Guzman,
1967). This Aguinaldo ruling was based on the fact that the term of office during which the misconduct was
committed expired before the petition questioning the validity of the administrative decision removing the
respondent could be decided (see Reyes v Comelec).
Reyes v Comelec explains the rationale: If a public official is not removed before his term of office expires,
he can no longer be removed if he is thereafter reelected for another term. Removal cannot extend beyond
the term during which the alleged misconduct was committed.
The doctrine of condonation is a limited empowerment of the electorate over the accountabilities of their
elective local officials. It is limited because it does not cover criminal accountabilities. It is a legal fiction
grounded upon a presumed knowledge of all the activities and behavior of the elective local official. It is
presumed that when the electorate exercised their right to choose, they were all aware of all the
misconducts of the public official.
Reelection is the manifestation of the peoples will. The rationale for this condonation doctrine was
provided by American authorities, specifically the 1887 case of Conant v Brogan, which has found
unwavering adoption in Philippine jurisprudence.
Aguinaldo explained, citing Pascual v Hon. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija: The Court should never
remove a public officer for acts done prior to his present term of office. To do otherwise would be to deprive
the people of their right to elect their officers. When the people have elected a man to office, it must be
assumed that they did this with the knowledge of his life and character, and that they disregarded or
forgave his fault or misconduct, if he had been guilty of any. It is not for the court, by reason of such fault or
misconduct, to practically overrule the will of the people.
The Doctrine of Condonation does not apply to criminal acts committed by the reelected official during his
prior or previous term (Ingco v Sanchez, 1967; People v Jalosjos, 2000). Accordingly, the pendency of a
criminal case under Republic Act 3019 may be the legal basis for the suspension from office in a
subsequent term in the event of an elective officials reelection (Libanan v Sandiganbayan, 1994). The
ruling that a public officer cannot be removed for acts done prior to his present term of office applies only to
administrative liabilities committed during the previous term of an elective official. The rationale for the
foregoing distinction is that the administrative liability of a public officer is separate and distinct from his
penal liability.

There is no condonation in criminal cases as guilt is determined by the courts and not the electorate. The
rationale for the noncondonation of the criminal liability was explained in Oliveros v Villaluz.
The condonation of the administrative liability would still be recognized as having been granted during the
previous term and the public officer will have no administrative liability during his succeeding term, where
the misconduct was committed during the previous term and is continued to be perpetrated during the
succeeding term, such as where the assailed retainer agreement was executed during the previous term
and the payments for the assailed retainer continued to be paid during the succeeding term (Salalima v
Guingona, 1996) or where the assailed contract was signed during the previous term and the deliveries
under the contracts were made during the succeeding term (Garcia v Mojica, 1999). The presumption
under this jurisprudence is that the two incidents pertain to a single administrative offense. The recourse
against the erring official would be through a criminal prosecution.
The condonation would not apply where the offense was committed while the public official was still an
appointive official and he had been elected for the first time. The condonation of an administrative offense
takes place only when the public official is reelected despite the pendency of an administrative case
against him (Ombudsman v Torres, 2008).
A challenge to a preventive suspension order becomes moot and academic upon expiration of the term of
office of petitioner and petitioners reelection to the same post (Dumlao v Diaz, 1969). Of course, this
condonation of misconduct committed during the expired term of the public officer by virtue of his reelection
to office for a new term applies only to his administrative and not to his criminal guilt. The condonation
would still apply even if the anomalies were discovered, and the administrative complaints were filed only
after his reelection. The remedy then would be to file the appropriate civil and criminal actions.
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DOCTRINE NO MORE. The Supreme Court rules to abandon the 56-year-old doctrine of condonation, which elected
officials have been using to protect themselves from administrative offenses.
MANILA, Philippines In a recent ruling on Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Junjun Binay Jr's petition to stop his
preventive suspension by the Ombudsman, the Supreme Court also decided to kill the condonation doctrine.
It is a principle that many other elected officials had invoked since 1959. Under the doctrine, the administrative
offenses of an elected official are already deemed forgiven when the public decides to re-elect him or her for another
term.
Voting 7-3, the SC en banc ruled on November 10 to uphold the CAs power to review and stop orders issued by the
office of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales against elected officials facing administrative cases before it.
(READ:Justices to Ombudsman: Why fight CA powers only now in Binay case?)
But it also said that the abandonment is prospective in nature or only applicable to future cases.
This means that the CA did not err in stopping Binays first 6-month preventive suspension order from the
Ombudsman.
How did the SC justices arrive at this ruling?
Majority decision
Binay invoked the condonation doctrine when he asked the CA to stop the preventive suspension order against him
over the alleged overpricing of the Makati city hall parking building II.
He said that the supposed anomalies in the contracts for the first two phases of the city infrastructure project
occurred when he was not yet elected local chief executive of Makati.
Binay did sign the notices of award for Hilmarcs Construction Corporation, the company that allegedly cornered
contracts for the Makati city hall parking building II, but this occurred during his previous term as city mayor from
2010 to 2013. He was re-elected in the 2013 elections.

In March this year, Binay was able to convince the CA to issue a temporary restraining order and a temporary
injunction to stop his preventive suspension. (READ: Trillanes: CA justices got P50M for Binay orders)
For the SC, however, the CA did not commit grave abuse of discretion in doing so because the High Court still
recognized the legality of the condonation doctrine at the time.
After reviewing the doctrine when the Ombudsman questioned before the SC the CAs decision, a majority of the
High Court justices decided that the said doctrine is now bereft of legal basis based on the 1987 Constitution and
the Local Government Code.
To begin with, the concept of public office is a public trust and the corollary requirement of accountability to the
people at all times, as mandated under the 1987 Constitution, is plainly inconsistent with the idea that an elective
local officials administrative liability for a misconduct committed during a prior term can be wiped off by the fact that
he was elected to a second term of office, or even another elective post, the ruling said.
Concurring and dissenting opinion
For Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, joined by Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro and Jose Perez, it
was plain error for the SC to decide on the Binay case using the condonation doctrine.
In a 10-page concurring and dissenting opinion released Friday, Bersamin said the High Court should have referred
to Section 24 of Republic Act No 6770 or The Ombudsman Act of 1989" instead.
The provision sets the following conditions for the Ombudsman to preventively suspend a public official or employee
pending an investigation:
if the evidence of guilt of strong
if the charge against such officer or employee involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct or neglect
in the performance of duty
if the charges would warrant removal from the service
if the respondent's continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him
Bersamin argued that the condonation doctrine should only apply when the public official in question is already up for
re-election, not when he or she is still undergoing investigation like Binay.
"Condonation necessarily implies that the condoned act has already been found to have been committed by the
public officer. Hence, condonation applies to the penalty or punishment imposed after the conduct of an
administrative investigation, he said.
Bersamin added that the condonation doctrine should not apply to Binay yet because his preventive suspension
order was not a penalty in itself but a mere measure of precaution to enable the disciplining authority to investigate
the charges by precluding the respondent from influencing the witnesses against him.
According to the associate justice, a preventive suspension is imposed on a public official during the investigation
while a suspension is already a penalty served after the final disposition of the case.
Less room for corruption?
Still, the condonation doctrine is already abandoned. Officials seeking re-election can no longer invoke it to escape
from their administrative offenses.
In its ruling, the SC said that, from July 2013 to December 2014 alone, 85 cases from the Ombudsmans Luzon
office and 24 cases from its central office were dismissed because the public officials in question invoked the
condonation doctrine.
Thus, in just one and a half years, over a hundred cases of alleged misconduct involving infractions such as
dishonesty, oppression, gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct were placed beyond the reach of the
Ombudsmans investigatory and prosecutorial powers, the SC quoted the Ombudsman as saying.
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