May 9, 2010
Santiago disdains Aguinaldo doctrine
By Francis Allan L. Angelo
A MEMBER of the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas expressed disappointments on the Aguinaldo doctrine which exonerates re-elected officials of administrative liabilities and penalties.
Atty. Virginia Palanca-Santiago, assistant Ombudsman for Visayas, said she has her own objections to the Aguinaldo doctrine.
The Aguinaldo doctrine saved Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. from dismissal from service after the Ombudsman found him guilty of the administrative charges of grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The guilty verdict against Tupas is in relation to the questionable quarry permit he issued to contractor Melvin Requinto which later paved the way for the governor’s balaye, the Montesclaros family of Bukidnon, to bag a P63-million contract in the new Iloilo airport project.
Tupas may have survived the second dismissal order against him but the guilty verdict will be reflected in his service record. He is also facing graft charges filed by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan relative to the airport project controversy.
The Aguinaldo doctrine, a repeatedly upheld Supreme Court jurisprudence, moots all administrative cases filed against any public official during his previous term, immediately after the official’s reelection.
The central argument of the doctrine is that an erring public official has been forgiven by his constituents of his administrative liabilities if they reelect him in office.
Santiago said the doctrine sometimes frustrate the Ombudsman to carry out its verdicts on administrative cases.
“It’s disadvantageous to us and other parties when the cases are decided after the reelection of the accused. When the accused official is reelected, his liabilities are extinguished. That’s why I’m personally opposed to that doctrine but I respect the Supreme Court which is the only body that can remove it from our legal system,” Santiago said.
Santiago also clarified that it was the Ombudsman in Iloilo which began investigating the case even before the House of Representatives probed the Iloilo airport project.
Santiago said they were the ones who completed all the documents related to the case as the documents submitted by the House committee on good government were incomplete.