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MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) decided that the condonation doctrine applies to Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali, clearing him of administrative liability in the pork barrel scam.
In a ruling released on Friday, October 4, the CA said that although the 2016 and 2017 decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman against Umali were “supported by substantial evidence,” these “may not be implemented.”
Umali was accused of mishandling P15 million as Nueva Ecija 3rd District representative in 2005.
“The administrative misconduct committed by petitioner is deemed condoned,” the CA said.
The condonation doctrine means that administrative offenses of an elected official are considered forgiven when he gets voted into office again. The Supreme Court (SC) struck down this doctrine in 2015, but made it clear that only future cases would be covered. (READ: Abused by elected officials? How SC struck down condonation doctrine)
This means that the doctrine would still apply to Umali’s case, since it happened before the SC ruling in 2015.
The CA pointed out that Umali’s alleged offenses were committed in 2005, and he has been reelected since then.
“The court is thus precluded from imposing the penalty for the administrative liability of the petitioner. This covers not just the principal penalty of removal from public service, but includes the accessory penalties as well, such as the perpetual disqualification [from holding] public office,” it added.
The CA, however, explained that criminal proceedings will not be affected by any ruling on the administrative side of the case.
The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the filing of charges against Umali and 5 others in December 2016, dismissing them from service, perpetually disqualifying them from holding public office, and forfeiting their retirement benefits.
In September 2019, the CA issued a temporary restraining order against the Ombudsman order. – Rappler.com