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Tribunal clarifies jurisprudence on wrongdoing

PUBLIC officials accused of wrongdoing can no longer hide behind jurisprudence that prevented their removal from office as long as they get reelected, according to the Supreme Court.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Supreme Court said only the acts of officials facing administrative charges and who got reelected on or after April 12, 2016 could be deemed condoned.

Under the so-called condonation doctrine, an elected official cannot be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a previous term if they get reelected by the same voters. The tribunal adopted the doctrine in November 2015.

The Supreme Court clarified its 2015 ruling in the case against former Palawan City Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron and his son Karl, who both faced serious dishonesty and grave misconduct charges in 2013.

Mr. Bayron was reelected mayor in 2015, and should thus benefit from the jurisprudence, the court said. The court upheld an appellate court ruling that favored the ex-mayor and reversed his dismissal by the Ombudsman.

“The doctrine of condonation is applicable to Lucilo’s case by reason of his reelection during the 2015 recall elections,” the high court said. But the jurisprudence could not be extended to Mr. Bayron’s reelection in the May 2016 elections because the doctrine had been abandoned by then, it added.

In a related development, the Sandiganbayan acquitted Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero A. Pichay Jr. of graft charges related to a sponsorship grant worth P1.5 million, reversing an earlier decision.

In a resolution promulgated on March 1, the anti-graft court dismissed the graft charges against the lawmaker, Emmanuel B. Malicdem and Wilfredo M. Feleo for insufficiency of evidence.

The congressman was also cleared of charges of violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for lack of evidence.

The Sandiganbayan in 2020 sentenced Mr. Pichay and the two to 10 years in jail due to a 2010 sponsorship grant to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, where he was president.

Mr . Malicdem and Mr. Feleo were ranking officials alongside Mr. Pichay of the Local Water Utilities Administration when the fund was released to the federation for a chess tournament.

The Sandiganbayan saw no conflict of interest in the case of Mr. Pichay, who was chairman of the water body, in the absence of proof that he approved the grant. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago and Gillian M. Cortez

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